Sunday Notes July 6th 2014

M. Elliott – Req. City Mgr. prepare a report regarding physician and nursing costs relative to workers compensation.
M. Elliott – Req. City Mgr. prepare a report regarding workers compensation costs for the last five years.

The City of Lowell is SELF INSURED for Workers Compensation. So why after serving for so long on the City Council, is Mayor Elliot so concerned with the cost of it?  Councilor Elliot was the only Councilor to ask questions about this same account during the budget hearings. One of those rumors that keep floating around the bubble is that a Police Officer who is a friend of the Mayor is being forced off workers comp. and back to work. Clearly a conflict if it is true but the paper or a fellow councilor should ask the Mayor about his sudden interest in workers comp after serving for 16 years. You would think by now he would understand that issue.

Speaking of not understanding, I don’t get why Councilors offer motions that they have absolutely no power, authority or under the Plan E Charter have any connection with at all. Unless Lowell is going to offer Fort Hill Park for a prison or the Sheriff wants a new House of Corrections in Lowell, Why in the world is this motion on the Council Agenda?

C. Mercier – Req. City Mgr. work with the City Solicitor with support from the Police Chief to create a letter and the proper vote demanding our judges enforce the state gun law; which mandates incarceration for one year to anyone in violation of the state gun law.

I’ve read the Plan E Charter, did I miss the part that states a City Council can DEMAND ANYTHING from ANY Judge?

Is it just me or are we seeing more and more citizens appearing before the Council to air their concerns?

Misc. – Norma Fusco request to address Council regarding condition of crosswalk at corner of Middlesex and Central Streets.
7.3. Misc. – Atty. Qua, Hall, Harvey & Walsh for Klas D. & Anita Romberg request easement from City of Lowell owner of Fairview Street to travel to and from their lot to Starr Avenue.
7.4. Misc. – Janet C. Paz Request to address City Council regarding house being built on corner of Alma & Rosemont Street.

Don’t feel bad for those Adjuncts Profs at ULowell who teach One or two Courses per Semester according to a Google search.

Contract for UMass Lowell Adjuncts Signed Union members at UMass Lowell overwhelmingly voted on May 18th to ratify the first ever contract for UML adjuncts. The yes vote counted was 97.25% with 25% of members coming in person to cast their votes.

Below are the contract highlights:

1. Significant raises with starting base salary at $4,000 per 3 credit course in humanities, $4,500 for 3 credit courses in Science, Math and engineering; $5,000 for 3 credit courses for Management and business.

2. In addition to base salaries above, Faculty with terminal degrees will receive additional $500 per course plus 10% increase of the base salary rate for Senior adjuncts working for 5 years or more and a total of 10 courses taught.

3. The above raises and new salary structure will be retroactive to Spring Term of 2012.

4. Across the board increases for the next six semesters @1.75% for every 6 months.

Nice Part time work,if you can get it!

Has the City Solicitor ever made a public ruling whether School Committee members who work for a Non-Profit even in a “Different Division” can legally vote on a contract the School dept. has with that Non-Profit? Same question regarding a Councilor who serves on the same board?

The Ethics Commission states: A non-profit organization which sells certain products to municipalities is a business organization for the purposes of 268A. Accordingly, a selectman who serves as a member of a board of directors of a non-profit organization must abstain from official participation in matters in which the organization has a financial interest.

Is a service for students or the poor/needy considered a product?

The Ethics Site also list the following information: A municipal employee generally may not have a financial interest in a municipal contract, including a second municipal job. A municipal employee is also generally prohibited from having an indirect financial interest in a contract that the city or town has with someone else. This provision is intended to prevent municipal employees from having an “inside track” to further financial opportunities.

Example of violation : A city councilor wants to work for a non-profit that receives funding under a contract with her city. Unless she can satisfy the requirements of an exemption under Section 20, she cannot take the job.

I wonder how many votes and contracts involving CTI has Connie Martin signed or approved? After the way she handled Jean Franco’s and Chris Scott’s contract, maybe it is time to find out if her handling of CTI contracts are fair.

Finally I leave you with this. We in Lowell are very fortunate to have a Forum named Lowell Live Feed on Facebook where professional people like former Asst. City Manager Adam Baacke can address questions and comments that stem from council motions like this.

M. Elliott – Req. City Mgr have CFO prepare report regarding costs and operations of the solar field at the former landfill.

We investigated solar on the landfill on multiple occasions dating back to the Cox administration (before any council motions on the topic). The problem for years, both before and when C. Elliott inquired about it, was that the mid-1990s methane extraction contract gave that company what amounted to a veto over any other energy related use. As a result there was no way to proceed with any bid process for rights that the city had already granted to the methane contractor in the 1990s and no solar contractor could negotiate with the methane company without having assurances they’d get rights from the city that it couldn’t award until the methane firm waived that clause in their contract. The Ameresco contract was the breakthrough to this log jam. By awarding the rights to do solar projects along with the larger energy services contract, Ameresco was in a position to negotiate with the methane company and make a deal that worked for all three parties, especially the city. Unfortunately C. Elliott was so adamantly opposed to the Ameresco contract that he didn’t seem to take the opportunity to appreciate that it was essential to getting past the issue with the methane contractor. I completely agree with Bernie about the reasons why c. Elliott’s requests for wind turbines on the site weren’t feasible.

As a matter of fact, another Professional named Lynch also shares some info on the subject of the old landfill.

Bob, solar was always possible at the site though there were issues relative to putting anything on a closed landfill, especially one that we subsequently learned had some outstanding DEP issues which was why the Ameresco approach was the most appropriate. I think you’re confusing the solar idea with a request that Councilor Elliott made on several occasions for putting wind turbines at the site. That wasn’t doable given the landfill cap and the lack of adequate wind at that site.

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