Sunday Notes Dec 1st 2019 – PLA Issue NOT going away!

Lowell the City of Rumors – If you listen to the rumor mill it seems that the PLA Issue isn’t dead at all. One rumors says a new School Committee member will bring in a motion to ask the SC to support a PLA while another rumor says a newly elected Councilor will ask to City Manager and CFO to show the documentation that supports their claim that the PLA will cost the city $30 – $40 million dollars more.

The City has been without an Auditor for months, lost 2 of their best and brightest Finance people in Rodney Conley and Heather Varney and has a CFO who spews incorrect information about how much “Free Cash” the School Dept. finished with and somehow miscalculated the amount of City “Free Cash” by over $2,000,000.

Rumors state that come January this new Council will demand an explanation on how and why the free cash was so totally off!

Why is it that the City CFO and Manager are constantly mis-stating the truth about the School Dept.?

Because at this point in time, The School Dept. financially is on more solid footing than the City! (That’s because of the STATE NOT THE CITY)

The School Dept. once it had solid leadership (Ms Turner and Supt. Durkin) along with at least 1 SC member who paid attention to finance and worked WITH the Administration to correct issues is poised because of those policies and procedures put into place for the new Supt. and Administration (if the incoming School Committee doesn’t mess it up) to finish this year not only in the black but having restored much (probably not all) but much of the revolving accounts DRAINED by Supt. K and HIS Administration under the Mayoral Leadership of Ed Kennedy!..Things were so low In May of 2018 that there was ONLY $0.45 in the STATE FUNDED Circuit Breaker Account.

CITY OF LOWELL
CIRCUIT BREAKER ACCOUNT, FUND 1924 FY18, YTD May 10, 2018

To be able to turn that around and have the new Supt. and his administration continue these solid financial policies will serve the city well. The School Dept.’s biggest challenge will be to insure the City doesn’t stop giving the schools some cash. With the influx of Chapt. 70 funding the thought process will be to give the schools less cash and more offset charges.

Make no mistake, there is a real jealousy and resentment that the School Dept. receives millions in State funding under Chapt. 70 along with a MANDATORY Minimum the City is FORCED by law to pay in NET School spending. The City Management and Council resent that and they repeatedly reduce cash and increase charge-backs to exceed their requirements. They cook the books and inflate charges.

It’s to bad none of the new elected Councilors will lead the charge to get the city to at least be honest and transparent and even more sad that most school committee members don’t understand finance and don’t want to upset the Manager, Councilors and Lowell power players and actually do what they were elected to do ! advocate for what is right and fair for the students…the worst that can happen is you lose!

I with help from then SC member Kim Scott was able to get the School Dept. to join the C.E.P that gives every student free breakfast and lunch before I ever got elected. I plan on working tirelessly on this blog advocating for clear and true financial facts from the City including a revised and updated Maintenance of Effort agreement and getting a fair contract with the UTL negotiated by others than part-time inexperienced SC members .

City Council doesn’t negotiate contract, why allow inexperienced School Committee member to?

I like Bob Hoey and Connie Martin both but neither is qualified to do my taxes or be my medical adviser, so why would I want them negotiating a multi-million dollar contract? Why not put the experts in charge over a few part-time elected officials who have little to no life experience in contract negotiations?

Mr. Hoey has stated publicly teachers deserve $100,000 Salary, accused them of abusing sick time and expressed the fact he abused it when he worked, would you want him negotiating? He’s a former prison guard. I’m a huge supporter of Ms. Martin but she works for a non-profit and doesn’t normally negotiate multi-million dollar contracts. Andy D is a former teacher whose son is a teacher so he can’t negotiate, Jackie is a recruiter, Mike a Firefighter and Hillary is a Director of HR/Payroll Operations.

Paul Georges has been a Negotiator for 27 years, he started “part time” but has been full time since 2015. He’s been at this almost as long has Mike Dillon has been alive! He’s a “professional”, I’d want Paul representing me if I were in the union but wouldn’t want to go against him in contract talks, there is no doubt he’s much smarter, knowledgeable and has a proven success record negotiating against the School Committee!

The City Council doesn’t negotiate with Police, Fire, DPW, or the many other Unions, they just approve the contract negotiated by the “Professionals”. Why doesn’t the School Committee allow the City Solicitor , City Manager and Supt. of Schools the responsibility to negotiate?

I know State law still recognizes : The school committee continues to be the “employer” of school employees for collective bargaining purposes. (G.L. c. 150E, [[section]] 1) The Education Reform Act made only one change concerning participants: the chief executive officer of the city or town (or his or her designee) shall participate and vote as a member of the school committee in collective bargaining.

There is nothing that prohibits the School Committee from forming a Negotiating Subcommittee that appoints the City Manager, Supt. of Schools and City Solicitor to be their representatives, the committee as a whole would still have to approve the UTL contract.

It is time for a fairer contract, one that finally caps Sick Leave buyback like every other Union. The School Committee members including Hoey and Martin (who have served the longest) have shown the inability to get that done. It is time to let people who due contract negotiations have a chance at it!

Why is Vesna Nuon still running a Campaign for Mayor? Hasn’t the City been Divided Long Enough?

I know we just changed the way Lowell elects its City Council and School Committee but to my knowledge

A) It doesn’t go into effect until the next election
B) According to the MA State Law regarding the selection of a Mayor

Section 97: City council; powers and duties; organization
For the purposes of organization, the city clerk shall be temporary chairman until the mayor or vice-chairman has qualified.

Thereupon the city council shall, by a majority vote of all the members elected, elect a mayor and a vice-chairman from its own members and the persons elected as such shall likewise make oath to perform faithfully the duties of the respective offices to which they are so elected, and they may so make oath at the same meeting at which they are so elected.

So why is Vesna Nuon (along with Ed Kennedy,Karen Cirillo and others) trying to run a grassroots efforts to have citizens pressure Councilors to select him over John Leahy?

I recall John Leahy was a HUGE downtown supporter. John served on the school committee, didn’t sue the city (LPD has and will NEVER Forget) doesn’t allegedly owe a favor to the former Supt. and isn’t trying to subvert the Plan E form of Gov’t and create a new divide for the city.

Hasn’t the High School issue Divided the City enough without a City Councilor now trying to split the councilors and supporters who wanted LHS downtown for apparently his own ego? Does Lowell really need another reason to fight among ourselves? Why not get behind Leahy 100%? …is Sen. Kennedy really the one behind this as rumored?

Kennedy cost Leahy the Mayor’s position two years ago when Leahy refused to sell himself to protect Kennedy’s Supt of Schools..Samaras sold himself instead and right up until it was 100% certain the School dept owed the state $2,000,000 in the food service acct. Samaras did his best to protect that Supt.

Leahy has shown unlike Samaras and now apparently Noun he won’t sell himself to Kennedy who doesn’t have his or Cirrilo’s vote to leverage this time.

So why are Kennedy and Cirillo who hasn’t made a meeting in months and who didn’t even vote on changing the way citizens of Lowell will elect future Councils pushing for Noun on Social media?