Sunday Notes August 17th 2014

That's what friends are for

That’s what friends are for

City Manager Murphy has decided that he will not offer Open and Transparent Gov’t with the Blessing and apparent Approval of the City Council and the Lowell Sun and is certainly giving potential City Council candidates a strong foundation to showcase the differences between “Professional” Management Versus Political Management and Open and Transparent Gov’t versus “The Golden Rule of Managing” (He who has the gold makes the rule).

He post Jobs that he already knows who he wants to fill for a max of 6 days (Get ready for another friend of Murph or City Councilor supporter to be named Special Event Coordinator) then states to the newspaper “It would have been a “charade” to conduct interviews!

He has filled two positions without ever posting the job: the City’s Community-Development Director position or the Data-Management Analyst.

When he does “announce” a hiring (by announce, he sends an email to the City Council then it’s a race among 2-3 Councilors to see who can inform the SUN/Teddy Panos first) but he NEVER releases the salaries when he makes the “announcement”.

The salaries for McGovern, Coughlin and Conley were not immediately available.

Their new salaries were not available as of late Wednesday afternoon.

Gitschier’s start date and salary were not available Friday afternoon.

The worse thing about the way Murphy is handling these appointments is that people like Gitschier, Baldwin and McGovern are all good qualified people who get branded hacks because Murph insist on acting like a politician instead of a Manager.

5 weeks after presenting the City Budget, he creates and hires a 3rd Asst. City Manager without the approval of the City Councilors (at least at an open meeting in view of the public) and not a peep from any City Councilor, many who ran stating they would challenge the Manager and push to represent all the people. If I were considering a run for Council I’d use these Councilors own words and in-actions against them:

Mayor Elliot ran for re-election stating: I do my homework, am prepared for meetings, and I’m not a rubber stamp,” said Elliott. “That’s how I’m going to proceed with my ninth term, if reelected, to continue to make our city government more open and more transparent, reminding everyone our city manager works for us, not the other way around.

Rita Mercier in her campaign profile in the Sun stated “We can’t sweep things under the rug and say everything is fine and put our heads in the sand,” said Mercier

Ed Kennedy: It’s up to residents to decide, he said, between a council that will sit back and rubber-stamp the city manager’s initiatives or one “that is going to be engaged, is going to challenge the city manager, ask questions and push on economic development, public safety and lower taxes.”

Bill Martin: “I have a proven record of making tough decisions that are in the best interest of the city even though they are not politically popular.”

This Council has been a rubber stamp, haven’t challenged this Manager on the way/length he post jobs, promotes without posting or adding a 3Rd Asst. and has stuck their heads in the sand on all of his appointments and have asked no questions about why the need for a 3rd Asst. Manager, Remember what Councilor Elliot said when the voted to cut the Asst. to the City Manager’s position?

“I didn’t really know what he did until tonight.” “We have more challenges ahead,” he added. “We are going to have to make more cuts, whether they are in personnel or otherwise.” YET it is okay after supporting 5 weeks earlier a budget that included the largest tax hike in 7 years a 3RD ASST. CITY Manager position that was not in the budget.

Really Councilor Martin? You and former Jim Milinazzo have been noticeably silent while most of this has been going on. It looks as if you two are 100% supportive of all of the “politically popular” moves by this Manager.

You two are were viewed by many as being pro-professional management and transparent gov’t but your inaction’s have spoken volumes. You either are afraid of the Dave Daly/JMAC political group who set their sights and defeated other councilors or you are content to go along to get along and get at least 1 or 2 of your supporters into city jobs.

No City Councilor has dared mention with a straight face the words Transparency and Open Gov’t since a City Manager’s search was first announced and this Manager hired.

The SUN hasn’t written much about Murphy’s style either. Not unexpectedly since Campy and O’Neil had personal grudges against the former Manager and the “reporter” assigned to “objectively cover” the City Council isthisclose to many councilors.(see photo above)

Maybe if/when the SUN is sold and a new management team takes over, the SUN will return to at least somewhat fair coverage. City Hall reporters like Chris Scott, Mike LeFluer and Jen Myers at least wrote facts and all the facts and left the editorializing to the Op-Ed pages. That doesn’t happen now days.

The paper is transitioning and keeps losing Salespeople and reporters. The only thing making that easier on the SUN is that 2-3 City Councilors email them all correspondence from the Manager / Auditor so they write a story without having to assign reporters to actually do any research or collect all the facts. The Editors have been so busy it has been over a month since the Column Blog was updated. That may be because Scotty figures I’m back and have things covered, but some including me miss the updates.

Siopes Case Settled
I do give the Manager credit for knowing when to fold and run. Unlike the Solicitor and/or former Manager who seemed to drag cases on and on even when faced with losing thousands of dollars of the city’s money. This Manager knows a losing hand when he see’s one. Getting Lt. Thomas Siopes to take a deal saves the city any more embarrassment (or having to explain white out on a document) and gives this officer who has dedicated his life in service to the city the chance to settle for what he and the Manager think is an acceptable punishment is fair to all and hopefully the Police Dept. can stop the internal bickering and get behind Supt. Taylor and move the dept. forward and attack the gun violence that has plagued this City.

I call City Councilor Corey Belanger for the Defense!
Former Library Assistant Diane Cloutier has threatened to sue the City over city funded video surveillance and to help her in her suit a sitting Lowell City Councilor at a public meeting states: “The city crossed a line here,” Belanger said. “There’s no two ways about it.” ..Did he get deposed that night or did her Attorney just up his settlement offer by another six figures thanks to that statement?

TWO WAY Traffic Downtown
Yesterday the City switched the Traffic patterns on Merrimack, Shattuck, Central and Market St. While the roads were painted and marked, some streets still had the old signage up (Central at Merrimack sported a One Way Arrow and Do Not Enter sign at 5:45 am) but all things considered it appears there were no great incidents or accidents and now we have to allow a good 6-9 months to pass and see what transpires before declaring a success or failure.

LMA Shortfall Back in the days of Mill City Management the trio with the LMA Boards approval “borrowed” $2.6 million, 20-year bond that paid for the auditorium’s new roof and other repairs. The yearly $250,000 NOTE was supposed to be funded by the extra ticket sales and surcharges. Any amount not received for the full $250.00 was paid for out of the General fund. So how much of the $154,072 worse than anticipated shortfall is a result of uncollected from Global through ticket sales lost because the City Council led by Rodney Elliot / Ed Kennedy dragged their feet in approving the Global contract? “Some shows that were booked in May/June were canceled or rescheduled at the last minute, and several other shows underperformed from their original projections/expectations,York wrote in an email.(To prove my point from above)

Time to Play “Get that Vote”!
With news that Erick Gitschier will be resigning from the Tech Board, it appears a new round of “Get that Vote” will be played out. Interested parties will begin to solicit support from the Lowell City Council / Lowell School Committee to be able to get a majority of the 15 votes up for grabs. Someone will need 8 votes. Look for names like Mike Hayden and Ralph Hogan to be in the mix. Former member Dave Laferriere may be interested but most of these people already showed Dave they have no respect for him or his service to the Tech by not supporting him last time.

Growing the LOWELL strength at the Greater LOWELL Tech
Facing a lawsuit by the City of Lowell over proper representation under the law, the Greater Lowell Tech voted to propose to the 4 communities that make up the ‘district” a weighted voting method gives each of the four Lowell representatives approx. 17.7 percent of the vote or a Majority of 70.8% control of the School Committee. Lowell being the largest feeder community also contributes the most funding.

The Tyngsboro Rep. was the only committee member to oppose this. Tyngsboro which is the town that houses the Tech would go from having 1/8th of the vote to 7.5% under the weighted system. It will be interesting to see if the Town meetings in Dracut, Tyngsboro or Dunstable will approve this change?

Condolences to the Callahan Family on the lost of the boys last weekend in a senseless tragedy PLEASE keep your eyes out for this man and report any sighting to the Lowell Police. He needs to be off the streets and put away for the safety of all.

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3 thoughts on “Sunday Notes August 17th 2014

  1. Gerry you keep on saying people like McGovern and Baldwin are qualified? Why are you so sure of that? What have they done? What have they accomplished? Just remember that being nice doesn’t necessarily translate into being a good management team.

  2. Daly/JMac (Lupoli?) – It is clear that Daly is bent on being the champion of “Who wants to be a celebrity developer?” Unfortunately, in his brash, undisciplined quest; he has turned to the poisonous usurper, JMac. Based on my interviews within the Bubble, no one is willing to censure Daly to a degree hard enough for the message to sink into his hard headed, self-idolizing. JMac is perfectly suited to grovel at the wallets of the self-centered. Thus, this pair has become a political force. The prostitution of WCAP is indisputable testimony to my analysis.

    Daly is fixed in The Bubble. His closeness to the McMahon crew and the clans around our remaining State Reps embeds him in Lowell like a tick. He will not be dislodged. JMac on the other hand …

    The Bubble needs to wake up to the fact that JMac has no regard for the long established political culture and the tidal rhythms that push the fence sitters back and forth. It seems to me, that he will cleave the fabric of Lowell to get what he is paid to get. Matching him to the adolescent ego drives of Daly is a long term problem for the Bubble. Further, every time Lowell’s political and business leaders validate JMac’s importance, that problem metastasizes.

    At some point, the opinion leaders will have to make the hard choice between the love of money and the love of their city. To allow this malignancy to grow will do irreparable harm to the polite teeth gnashing of the status quo.

  3. So many comments- so little time. Not sure how I feel about Murphy’s filling of positions. They all seem qualified, though where he got that 3rd Asst. Manager from an anyone’s guess. Gitschier is very qualified for the Water Utility job and I will admit to bias because I have know him for years. I believe he will bring a fresh set of eyes to the problems over there.
    I am glad to see the Siopes case settled. He was not going down without a fight and with that white out issue ( major in my eyes) , and the belief that many of the Superior Officers stood behind. him, it was time to work out an acceptable deal.

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