Sunday Notes September 18 2016


Raise the Number required for Preliminary along with salary!

I agree a raise is due and won’t argue the size of the increase anymore because I don’t hear a lot of objections to it. People realize that both the Councilor’s and School Committee members time and efforts have value and whatever increase happens in all honesty in my opinion they will all still be under paid.

Most people agree it is not financially sound to hold a preliminary that cost $80,000 – $95,000 to eliminate 1 or 2 people.

Using that argument than upping the number required to hold a preliminary isn’t a bad idea.

Upping the signatures isn’t that much of a stretch either.

Asking candidates to get more than 50 voters to sign their nomination papers isn’t that unfair and shows that the candidate is serious. Maybe 100 would be a better number than the proposed 150. It shows an effort while not appearing to be punitive. Incumbents have an easier time getting signatures, they have a solid base to work from.

Why not up the signatures to 150 while at the same time up the required candidates to hold a preliminary from 19 to 23?

If this Council wants to say that by increasing the salary they hope to attract candidates while tripling the required needed signatures then they should also incentivize those candidates who work at getting 150 registered voters by enabling up to 22 of them to stay in the race through November. This would show a candidate is “serious” by working to collect the required 150 signatures and reward their efforts by allowing up to 22 candidates on the final ballot.

In 2007 & 209 the city had 21 candidates on the ballot including 3 of the current City Councilor’s. There didn’t seem to be any negative effect and in fact it was the city that requested the waiver to cancel the preliminary. Councilor’s Mercier – Elliott – Milinazzo all were on the Council then and even with 21 candidates survived so why not expand the required number to hold a preliminary now?

I got 50 signatures 25 years ago when I ran for the Tech school committee. I’ve helped council candidates collect signatures. Getting 150 takes effort and would show you are indeed a serious candidate. Why not reward that effort by allowing that person to try to reach people through November?

Does this Council really want to attract “good candidates” or do they want to punish fringe candidates like Cheth Kim, Robert Merrill and Fred Doyle types who don’t attend all the candidate forums or spend money and are just happy to have their names on the ballot?

They seem to be sending a mixed message by stating the increase will help attract good candidates while at the same time tripling the required signatures in an effort to “weed out” candidates they deem aren’t ” serious”.

Voting a 66% pay raise while tripling the signatures sure give the appearance this entire process is being done to favor the incumbents.

Looking at the required signatures in other communities going to 150 for a city our size (approx 110,000) seems a little high.

Boston with a population over 600,000 – “District Council Candidates” are required to get 200 signatures (3 wards have less 150-166-189). the “At Large” Council candidates require 1,500

Worcester with approx. 183,000 – “District” Councilors require 100 signatures while Councilor At-Large or School Committee: 300

Fall River with around 88,700 – only requires 50 has does local communities like Chelmsford and Dracut.

More undeniable FACTS..Another redo transfer

Hate to keep using these pesky FACTS but once again this Supt/Administration has to correct another transfer error of their own doing. From this week’s SC packet: The wording is theirs not mine!

The following transfer is needed to correct an expenditure transfer that was approved at the August 17th School Committee meeting. The expenditure transfer below replaces the one approved earlier.

We will need two motions. One to undo the transfer made on August 17th referred to as expenditure transfer 1. The second motion needed is to approve the one shown below. The attachment provides the detail account numbers.
Expenditure Transfer

Expenditure Transfer Dated 9/21/16
To: Employee Salary Accounts $151,429
From: Health Insurance $115,204
Custodial Supplies $ 36,225
To correct year-end expenditure accounts.

From: Retirement Sick Leave Payout $39,398.83
To: Employee Salary Accounts $39,398.83
To correct year-end expenditure accounts.

It is recommended to approve the motions as stated above.

Another Title change….another excuse to raise a salary?

In this week’s School Committee Agenda / Packet is this nugget:

Assistant Superintendent for Finance/School Business Administrator

The Lowell Public Schools currently has a School Business Administrator. The School Business Administrator position is a requirement under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 71.
I recommend the School Committee approve a change in job title, from Chief Finance Officer (CFO,) to Assistant Superintendent for Finance/School Business Administrator, a position requiring additional licensure, at the School Committee meeting of Wednesday, September 22, 2016.

Given his inexperience and under whelming performance as CFO to date and with less than a full year on the job, why the need NOW with a $500,000 school deficit is there a motion to change a title and no doubt pay for the courses required to get the needed license?