GERRY: Watching the Council meeting Tuesday night I noticed that when the Council and Manager started talking about contract negotiations it was mentioned by both that this would be done in Executive session. I also found in the past few days that even though the “advisory panel” is a quasi-public panel their findings will not be available to the public because it is being used in contract negotiations.
I thought to myself that on Wednesday or Thursday we would see post on Left in Lowell or in the Sun calling for open negotiations. I contemplated writing a post myself calling for it. After all LIL, this BLOG and the Sun have been all over the Greater Lowell Tech about their lack of transparency.
From LIL :”Tonight the Greater Lowell Technical School Committee (GLTSC) will be holding another special meeting to discuss the contract of the school’s newly-elected superintendent, Mary Jo Santoro.
On this blog as well as other on other ones, the GLTSC lack of transparency and antagonistic attitude towards tax payers who are requesting accountability and the right to be heard has been discussed a number of times.
Erin Smith of the Sun has been aggressively following the story and the paper has editorialized on a number occasion, including this past Saturday when they called to “End era of secrecy at Greater Lowell Tech.”
On this BLOG I have called for the Teachers Union and School Committee to be more open and School Committeemen John Leahy and Jim Leary even filed a motion:
Request that the Lowell School Committee enter into negotiations with each Lowell Public School’s union, where it is applicable. And to allow for releasing both the union and administrations negotiating position to the public in writing on a regular basis.
Yet after 3 days nothing, no one is clamoring for the Council or Manager to negotiate in public, including me. It got me to recall George Anthes on City Life saying that Bloggers give Bernie Lynch a break and don’t criticize him. It made me step back and take a look as to why he doesn’t seem to get criticized as much as some elected Officials do.
In my case I tend to be less critical of public officials / candidates be it the Manager, Jim Leary, Jackie Doherty, Kevin Broderick, Rodney Elliot, Franky Descoteaux, Joe Mendonca, John Leahy, Patrick Murphy , Fred Bahou, Steve Panagiotakos , Victor Olson, Paul Morin, Eileen Donoghue, Chris Doherty, Mike Hayden, etc who take the time to respond to me, an average citizen (who happens to be a blogger) and tend to think better of them and treat them better than those who choose to treat me and other bloggers like we are not worthy of their time or response.
Our State Representatives, Vocational School Committeeman (with the exceptions noted above) and Union President Paul Georges seem to avoid answering questions from me and other bloggers (even if we are in their district.) They generally ignore emails and will tell you they don’t read me/us (BS) but yet know exactly what we have written.
The Officials who respond to questions and to criticism seem to get the fact that people read and discuss issues. They want to let the public know why they did or didn’t vote or act in a certain way and are willing to defend their beliefs and their votes. Isn’t that what transparency and open government is about. What’s wrong with an elected official responding to an email and answering why they filed this motion or this bill or why they don’t support this motion etc? Doesn’t the Public have a right to know and to hold them accountable?
Bloggers may not be “journalist” (I don’t consider myself to be) but we are a newer form of communication that gives voters/citizens a place to discuss the news of the day. We turn the spotlight on City, State, Gov. Officials and events and generate debate and discussion.
A smart Politician will respond to the occasional email or question. I never expected the Manager to post the amount of information he did. It made great reading and caused a buzz in the city. I don’t expect that kind of response on every question and would not send him questions on a weekly basis. So on the occasions I ask, I appreciate the fact he responds and does so with many facts and figures. Rodney, Kevin Broderick, Franky & Joe also respond to my emails, usually with short condensed answers when I inquire about a motion they have on the agenda. Patrick Murphy has responded on occasion and has also not responded but time constraint more then ignoring me is usually his reason.
Having Jim Leary or Jackie respond to my school post give all parents a chance to hear the reasoning of the committee from their view. I may not agree with them but I’m glad they feel strongly enough to reply. They show they can take the heat and not take it personally. One week after I blasted Jackie and she responded in kind, we sat next to each other on City Life and then talked in the parking lot after. No apologies from either side, two people who agree to disagree, discuss it and move on.
So I guess George is right that we Bloggers give the Manager more slack than we do others because he responds to the occasional questions when asked and doesn’t deal with us like we are the enemy or we have no place questioning him.I treat the people who treat me with respect the same way. I may hammer them on a specific issue but they understand it is the issue and not personal.
At times it makes me a hypocrite and makes people wonder if I’m on my meds on certain days. To me it’s the issue not the indivisual (in most cases, I have gone off on a few people)
I know the Manager teaches at U Lowell, maybe he can give a class titled ‘How to deal with Bloggers and Criticism” to our 3 Sate Representatives. Of course that would mean they would actually have to stay in the same room and listen to him…..