Sunday Notes January 11, 2015

Boston 2024

Sen. Eileen Donahue has me believing that the Olympics in Boston (and Lowell) could work and that the State’s long term plans for infrastructural improvements would benefit the City and area. Trolley’s running to both the Tsongas and Upper River, the new Lord Overpass and maybe a new “Rourke” bridge could all be included in improvements and some might be eligible for Federal Highway Funds.

Lowell beating out Brockton for Boxing and Cambridge for Rowing is impressive and the fact so many private along with the State’s Colleges and University’s all on board really makes me believe this could be a great event for the state.

More interesting was that this idea came to her by a Dracut resident who had a love for the Olympics and met with her to ask her to help him pursue his dream of Boston hosting these events. He has stayed involved during all of the stages of getting this done and will continue to be involved. It’s a great story and hopefully we will hear from him on Saturday Morning Live soon.

In this week’s City Council Agenda we get the latest vacancy report for the Downtown. Ground Floor vacancy is Approx. 10.3% while upper levels are 19.6%

Restaurants are planned or close to finalize for the old La Boniche, Giovanni’s Trends and Mambo Grill with a possible Micro-Brewery located at the Old Sun Press Room.

I just realized recently that Cravings, Pure Fro Yo and Sal’s have all closed and are vacant.

It was explained to me that while the City Treasurer’s posting may give the appearance of being a “Money Grab” there is actually a lot of solid reasons for her “reminder”.

The law exists because the Treasurer must use the address on file with the RMV for billing. It is well known both in cities and in the RMV, that people are negligent in changing their address at the RMV even though they are required to do so within 30 days of moving. Most people wait until their license or registration is up for renewal – often after excise bills have gone out. Treasurers across the state experience up 5-20% returned excise bills, and Lowell is probably on the high side because students are very transient.

She was saying that the law requires those charges even if the taxpayer doesn’t receive the bill. It does not say that the treasurer doesn’t have to mail the bill. The treasurer most certainly does. The treasurer routinely documents mailing the bills by providing the PO with the number of bills and receiving a confirmation from the PO that they sent out the same number of bills. That is why it is important to keep detailed records on each “commitment” or billing batch.

No matter what you think of the Lowell School Committee, you have to admit that Dave Conway, Connie Martin and Jim Leary have been horrendous and inadequate when it comes to reviewing Supt.’s and negotiating contracts to have them stay.

Conway campaigned to get rid of Supt. Karla Brooks Baehr and shortly after the election, Superintendent of Schools Karla Brooks Baehr announced she would not seek an extension of her contract, in large part because Conway was on the board.

In June of 2010 Conway wrote in his evaluation of Supt. Chris Scott that Dr. Scott has become “a strong voice for collaboration … within the city and our local institutions of higher learning.” yet he votes to not keep her 6 month later.

He voted to give Jean Franco a 2 year Contract at the beginning of June only to join Martin and others when he abruptly voted to shorten her contract from two years to one in an executive session

Conway along with Connie Martin and Leary have been on the board the longest and haven’t been able to successfully keep a Supt. longer than 7 years.The fact that they have dragged on the teacher’s contract EVERY time negotiations come up shouldn’t be a surprise and Teacher’s Paul Georges correctly points out, considering the amount of time it took for the committee to cut a deal with one person and how they changed Franco’s deal at the 9th hour and ignored Scott’s request for a new contract completely, negotiations with the Unions takes way to long. Maybe it’s time for a major change on the board!

Don’t believe the speculation that a female school committee member isn’t running, no matter what a Sun Editor may or may not have said on WCAP. My understanding is all 3 are leaning toward running and will make a final decision in early spring.

Don’t take to heart the speculation in both the Column Blog and the Sunday Column that THE 2015 City Council election could be the Year of the Comeback. After the slanted and biased coverage by the SUN and cub reporter Lyle Moran whacking incumbent Councilors who voiced support of Manager Lynch why would Marty Lorrey, Joe Mendonca or Vesna Nuon want to subject themselves to that type of Coverage again? They all tried to do their best for the city to only be attacked and undermined by the Editor and his hand picked biased reporter. Why go through that again with the Editor still in place?

The current reporter doesn’t bother to verify FACTS, reporting “In recent years, before Murphy took over as city manager, Lowell took money from its stabilization fund to keep taxes down. But the city isn’t using any reserves for the upcoming year”.

Let’s admit the facts, when Lynch took over the total amount of reserves couldn’t buy you a 19″ Sal’s Pizza and it was the Lynch Admin that not only built up reserved but created new ones to use like $7.8 million for future costs of retiree health benefits and a pension stabilization fund.

In the City Budget presentation Bob Healy the Fiscal God of the Murphy Administration clearly states” $3 million from the Pension Stabilization Fund is incorporated in this year’s budget“ and Welker or the SUN never bothered to print a correction. Just ignore the facts to justify their attacks on the former Administration. Meet the new Reporter, same as the old one! Whatever Campy wants printed get printed, to hell with facts!

Speculation has John MacDonald taking another run at the Council. Say what you will about JMAC but I’d support him on the Council over a Dave Conway or Bill Samaras. JMAC has worked in development and spent most of his life in the private sector and brings more business sense and experience to the Council than a couple retired school teachers.

The sky is falling the Sky is falling! No Courthouse, the Courthouse is being moved to Sal’s building near the train, Daley is getting a new building in the Jackson street location. PLEASE! Can everyone just stop the hysterics and wait and see what Gov. Baker and his administration do. The fact that we had a State Rep. Mayor and City Councilor who all supported the new Gov. would lead me to speculate the Courthouse will stay right where it was planned and will in fact move forward. Let’s not assume the worse just because Charlie’s a Republican.

Celebrate Dracut’s birthday (Feb 26) with a walk through the East Richardson Preserve with the Dracut Open Space Committee.
Snowshoes or boots, depending on the weather!

February 28, 2015
Corner of East Richardson Road and Macintosh Drive

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