Usually I spotlight stories in the Sunday Sun and remind everyone to subscribe or pick up the Local Regional Newspaper that covers Lowell and the surrounding communities. In these dog days of July the paper is quiet and so is the political column (below).
So today I thought I’d ask a question.
Is the Sun Newspaper under the direction of Editor Jim Campanini trying to make the City Manager a Campaign Issue?
If you look at the current state of the City of Lowell regarding taxes, service’s etc. compared to many other cities and towns in the State Lowell under the direction of this city council and city administration Lowell is in good shape.
The Manager under the leadership of the council has the city in solid shape. So there really is NO huge issue for a challenger to rally against. No issue means fewer ads and fewer ads mean less revenue for the Newspaper. Yes there are many challengers but to date the challengers all have realized that there is no major issue and have concentrated their efforts into running the same type of campaign Patrick Murphy did to win. Walking the city neighborhoods, attending neighborhood meetings and events and meeting the citizens over running multiple ads in the Paper.
Most have run ads for their campaign parties and many will run ads has the election gets closer but the dogs summer days of July and AUgust are slow for newspapers (and radio and bloggers) and revenue from political ads is non existing.
The race needs an Issue and at least to me it seems that the current Editor is using the naïvety and inexperience of a 2010 graduate in journalism to present a slanted view of city personal issues to try to create the issue. That being the City Manager can’t control the staff and city personal therefore his management/leadership style ability is in question and so is he.
The Manager can be blamed for some of this, his handling of the Lowell Public Library over the last year is not impressive and doesn’t seem to have been effective. When you have personal issue repeatedly you need to replace people. The whole is the Library a safe place issue should have been dealt with quickly and all library and city employee’s reminded that in this state ALL employee’s have a right to privacy and due process and if it is found you ran to the press or a councilor before following the chain of command warnings and suspensions should be given.
Either the Library Director or the two employee’s who violated the computer usage policy and joke or not threatened a fellow employee should have been dismissed. Instead he has allowed this issue to linger in the press and on the Blogs. But it is NOT large enough to make the Manager the Issue.
The pro-longed Investigation and actions into the Illegal sewer hook-up, the choice to try to allow the sealer of weights and measure to retire instead of suspending the guy who Rosemary Cashman stated was only doing 2 Inspections in 35 hours and the firing of workers at Lowell Regional Water Utility for “stealing Gas’ and now finding the Utility under an Ethics watch for employees possibly using City equipment for personal use are not highlights of the Manager’s tenure this past year. However like any large business with hundreds of employee’s these things happen and should be dealt with quickly and fairly. Again not great things but NOT enough to question the ability of this Manager and disregard the strong fiscal state the city is in.
Yes the Sun has the obligation and right to report these incidents but they can do it with facts and without a negative spin. It has been well noticed by many that solid reporters who report facts like Mike LaFleur and Jenn Meyers either leave the paper or are removed from covering City Hall because they play it straight and don’t slant the coverage. Jenn Myers still breaks news in the city but does it has an objective reporter not as a pit bull for the Editor.
Rodney Elliot has the right to run his political campaign anyway he wants. If he chooses to set himself up has anti-Manager that is his call and he will get elected or lose because of it.
It is NOT the right or duty of the regional newspaper to create an adversarial relationship with the City Manager to try and create an issue. They certainly can write Editorials and Columns to do that. Phelps and Campy can do that anytime they want. A reporter isn’t a columnist and needs to report ALL the facts not just the ones that fit his Editor’s slant on the story.
Is it personal on the Editor’s part or a professional judgement to create an issue and hopefully get candidates to run ads (either in agreement or in support of the Manager)? That is your call.
If I am Mark O’Neil the President/Publisher of the Sun, I am embarrassed by the recent stories and the Manager’s accounts published here.
Is his reporter being directed to withhold information from a story by the Editor of the paper? I am also embarrassed by the reporter’s actions on Facebook (Read Jack’s Post on Left in Lowell). If he allows a person he covers to “friend” him on his Sun Facebook page, then un-friends and removes comments from the same people he covers, where is the objectivity?
Either mandate that you can’t “friend” anyone you cover or mandate that if you allow them to be your Facebook Friend you allow them to make comments and call you out when you don’t live up to your objectiveness.
So you make the call…Is the Sun trying to make the City Manager a campaign issue?
The Political Column…
The column list the number of City Workers suspended, fired or placed on leave in the last few years to lead off the column titled Dismissal list grows longer, weirder
Followed by a mention of the less than harsh reprimands it appears were given to the library aides. Seems Councilor Joe Mendonca agrees with me, he is quoted has saying ” It is a situation that leaves him not knowing what to do, but it has to be addressed somehow or someway,” Mendonca said. “I don’t think it can be solved with the people there. One or the other party would have to leave.
The Sun sort of defends Council Challenger John MacDonald “YOUR FLEDGLING campaign for City Council is just getting off the ground, and who you associate with and your motives for seeking political office are already being questioned by rivals who’ll be lucky to receive 3,000 votes” Funny that last week the SUN appeared to be the ones questioning who he was associated with.
The column takes a shot at Dracut Selectman Jon Zimini who wants CPA to purchase some land in his neighborhood to keep open space and keep out Housing and ball fields yet works at MassHousing, a quasi-public agency and state affordable-housing bank.
It also mentions that former Dracut Selectman O’Loughlin dissolved his election committee on Thursday. Basically saying better late than never. That the President of Saints will probably stay after the acquisition is completed by Steward Health Care.
Few last thoughts…
Kendall Wallace’s column in yesterday’s Sun was a pretty good look at the current state of the upcoming City Election. He broke the Council race into three tiers and listed the 3 current councilors who he thinks may be in the most danger of losing a seat because of so many strong challengers…Joe Mendonca,Patrick Murphy and Rodney Elliott.
I would agree with Mr. Wallace on these three but maybe not for the same reasons.
On Joe Mendonca he says “He deliberates issues well and is seen as a moderate in his support of the manager. Not as strong as some of the others, but not obstructive. He had some health issues and has never been a strong fundraiser to help run a big campaign. I would agree with all of that and add that after running and losing twice he was helped tremendously by the Anti-Kazanjian spirit in the city the last time out. Joe is an exact opposite from outgoing and tremendous personality of Alan K and was helped out by so many negative stories in the Sun involving Alan K.
On Patrick Murphy, Mr. Wallace states ” Murphy broke through as a first-time candidate. He ran a very aggressive campaign without a lot of money and he knows how to use the social network.He filed a lot of motions on issues he campaigned on and emerged as an important vote to Lynch on big issues. Again I would agree but add this was his 2nd race (a losing congressional one) and like Joe Mendonca he doesn’t raise funds and could be overshadowed by the stronger fundraising candidates.
We both agree on Rodney Elliot , Mr. Wallace ” Elliott survived a number of tough elections and has flip-flopped on the manager. He was a key player in making a change in the manager’s office five years ago and has now become the major critic of Lynch. It appears he wants to play the role of former councilor Dick Howe, in being the anti, the challenger, but his inconsistency can cause him to lose on both sides of the political fronts. I would add..I watched Dick Howe, I admired Dick Howe, Rodney Elliot is not now or will ever be Dick Howe
I like the mystery item Mr. Wallace planted in the column regarding the School Committee race and if you can identify the person..drop me a name ” There has been gossip of a possible fourth challenger, a very popular Belvidere woman filing, but that has not yet occurred.”
I always enjoy being on the radio or TV and yesterday being at Veterans Park in Dracut has part of Saturday Morning Live was no exception. The many antique cars were interesting and the work and concern for the beautiful Park by Don Morowski, the organizer of the antique-car show is appreciated by all who use this park.
I also want to mention that I ran into former Dracut Selectman Mike Blatus donating his time at the Park yesterday morning. I usually meet Mr. B along with his son Mike at many of these fundraising endeavors whenever I am in Dracut, some may not like him but I have always been treated respectfully and have found him to be friendly and a great guy to talk Dracut Politics with.
Thanks to the many who have contacted the committee to play or sponsor a hole in the upcoming 1ST ANNUAL SHAWN M. DUMONT GOLF CLASSIC. They still are looking for a few more players or donations so if you could PLEASE Please email Mike/Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Mike at 978-937-0725.
The Golf Classic at Campbell’s Scottish Highlands Golf Course 79 Brady Avenue Salem, NH begins with registration at 8:00 a.m.,followed by a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. The cost to participate in this Classic is $600 per foursome or $150 per player, which includes green fees, cart, steak and chicken dinner, and various refreshments and prizes, including a $5,000 Hole In-One opportunity.