Sunday Notes March 12th 2016

The Cloud of Mistrust engulfing THE HIGH SCHOOL PROJECT

There is very little doubt that the blame game will begin or more correctly has begun when it come to pointing out who is at fault for the city being on the verge of NOT GETTING ANY TYPE OF NEW HIGH SCHOOL! I honestly believe that if we had to fund this project by a debt exclusion which requires a public vote it would fail. That’s why I say on the verge.

Worse than the finger-pointing is the cloud of mistrust that is hanging over this city administration, the elected officials and this project.

No one trust any information at this point and have nothing but doubts about every statement that anyone makes and why shouldn’t they? What should have been a celebrated opportunity has turned into a replay of the presidential election. Fake News seems to be the norm.

I think all of us, myself included, Teddy on WCAP and anyone else who expressed a location preference and attacked or responded curtly (or in some instances cruelly) to any opposition of our belief and preference, contributed to widening the great divide that was formed over the location of the High School and the rancor that developed from that. We made this a political campaign instead of using it as an opportunity to unite and improve the city.

People are doubting the existence of restrictions at Cawley because the State nor the City has produced a copy of the original grant. People don’t believe Steve Conant when he says the downtown site has its own restriction issues. People are questioning the need for a new building option because the wording says and/or.

I believe the Murphy Administration has greatly contributed to the mistrust in the way the project and locations were handled. The administration including the Law Dept. Parks Dept. and DPD are all responsible for NOT doing the due diligence on the Cawley site before presenting it to the Building Committee. Any restrictions for the downtown location should have been already known and addressed.

Anyone with half interest in what goes on in this city knew that the Stadium and Alumni Field had restrictions. People in Parks, Planning and the Law Dept. have been employed here for many years and SHOULD HAVE HAD THE FORESIGHT to look at EVERY GRANT ever given to the “Stadium Complex” and the CITY ADMINISTRATION should have contacted the State Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs themselves and asked for a review of the entire complex.

They didn’t do that even after being informed by Brian Martin of HIS concern on a restriction on the parking parcel. That should have set off RED FLAGS to cover every lot in that complex but they failed to act.

I believe the City Councilors continue to contribute to the mistrust. Those who jumped on 1 side or the other or jumped on the I REFUSE TO USE EMINENT DOMAIN bandwagon are guilty of not waiting for all the facts to be presented and for pandering to the politics.

The Dentist Office is just as viable an option has the Cawley land but MANY OF YOU HAVE ALREADY STATED EVEN THOUGH YOU VOTED FOR OPTION 3 to continue YOU WON’T SUPPORT TAKING IT!

It was a meaningless gesture because you refused to let the process run completely and stated your unwillingness to consider eminent domain.

How can the residents/ taxpayers trust this process is legitimate open and honest when you vote to allow an option to be considered that you have already stated you wouldn’t support?

How do we trust that real consideration is going to be given to these options?

Sen. Eileen Donahue rightly or wrongly was brought into this fight and quoted in the SUN in responding to Councilor Mercier that she had contacted the state early on Feb. 15, the day EOEEA released the letter, after receiving a constituent call to her office. She did not say who the person was that called. Fairly or unfairly it has been made to look that she contributed to the mess we now find our city in and people won’t forget that. There is now an air of mistrust surrounding her.

Whoever knew about these restrictions and waited until the 11th hour to expose them and because of their actions forced a citizen who has donated over 20 years of service to the city serving on the Board of Parks to be the Scape Goat in stopping or at least increasing the difficulty in getting approval for the Cawley Site is the main person who has caused this mistrust and is responsible for where we are today.

Whoever that is holds the largest part of the responsibility for the amount of mistrust that is covering this project.It was a classless cowardly move.

Part of the mistrust stems from the city not doing its due diligence and leaving open the question of why wasn’t the DPD resources available to the city used? Word in the bubble and looking at the make up of the building committee is the DPD of this city has had little to do with this major project and that is inexcusable. The City Engineer shouldn’t have been the sole expert voice and has little first hand knowledge of grants for the stadium but Diane Tradd was around for most of those years grants were awarded, yet she wasn’t used at least in any public participation process we can see.

The School Committee who seems content to just watch the opportunity for a new high school to be flushed away over incompetence or political games should be held accountable for doing NOTHING! NOT 1 member spoke at the Board of Parks Meeting or the City Council Meeting to explain the urgent need for a new school instead letting their preference for the downtown or their own political interest to excuse them for having to appear. Shame on you ! Not one called in Thursday Morning to WCAP to say how disappointed they were at how political this has become. How can they be trusted that they will advocate for this project when they haven’t shown it and haven’t demanded that the Superintendent attend EVERY Building Committee meeting. He should be the Schools face on this project not Steve Gendron. This has been my issue with this Committee, if its a tough question or issue they disappear. While I didn’t always agree with Dave, Kristen, Kim, Jim and Rodney there was never a doubt that they would stand up and fight for what they believed in.

Supt. of Schools Khelfoui who attended very few Building Committee meetings has been nonexistent during this site debate and judging by Building Committee records most of this project. He should be the biggest advocate for a new school yet like the school committee he has been silent. How are parents suppose to trust in his leadership when he has virtually taken himself out of this project. He should be the lead advocate instead leaving that to the Head of School at LHS.

It was very telling Thursday morning to hear BOTH Councilor’s Milinazzo and Elliott criticize the Manager. How ridiculous is it that 11 of 16 motions in the Councilor’s agenda deal with the High School Issue? Most of the questions are things that should be already in the review stage but to a large degree shows the amount of mistrust this Council is showing in this administration in regards to the project.

Tuesday Night shouldn’t be a finger-pointing or yelling at each other evening, rather a coming together to fix the issue we ALL have had a hand in screwing up.

To that end the City Manager and Mayor have to figure out a way with the City Council to address the volume of mistrust that exist and to try to restore that trust with the taxpayers and especially the parents that this process is legitimate and fair and not just a political game to set the stage for who gets to be the next manager and who has the real political power in Lowell.

So while there is plenty of blame for the amount of mistrust for ALL to share, we now have to stick our own prejudices for the location and our own wants aside and come together to find a way to move this project forward.

All of us can help by stop digging ourself so deep in our preferred location that we question the validity of everything we hear and using exaggerated maybe’s and what ifs to justify our stance and to tone down the rhetoric and vile that was dumped on a citizen who for 20 years donated his time and ends up being the scapegoat in a political fight that has cast nothing but a cloud of mistrust on a project that should have united not divided this city.