Sunday Notes January 25th 2015

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Lowell Progress Report

Included in this weeks Council Agenda is a 2014 Progress Report from the Manager focusing on the stated Priorities of Education, Economic Development and Public Safety including a look towards 2015.

Based on the stated goals of Fiscal responsibility be assured of another 2,5% – 3% property Tax increase in June and remember no matter how hard Manager Murphy tries to protect his bosses and rewrite history, many of the current City Councilors are responsible for NOT allowing moderate Tax Increases in 2012, 2013 and 2014 resulting in a needed spike in taxes in 2015 and 2016.

To use the words of Manager’s Murphy CFO in June of 2014:

The City Council’s policy to hold taxes to minimal, if any, increases in Fiscal Years 2012-2014, while maintaining service levels despite increasing operating expenses, created a Fiscal Year 2015 budget gap that needed to be bridged

The pdf. of the entire progress report is attached.

Under the Mass Ed Reform Act the School Committee has the responsibility to negotiate contracts.

D. Collective bargaining

State law: The school committee continues to be the “employer” of school employees for collective bargaining purposes. (G.L. c. 150E, [[section]] 1) The Education Reform Act made only one change concerning participants: the chief executive officer of the city or town (or his or her designee) shall participate and vote as a member of the school committee in collective bargaining. If a town does not have a town manager or administrator, the chairman of the board of selectmen (or his or her designee) shall so participate and vote. In regional school districts, the municipal chief executive officers elect one of their number to represent them, in accordance with Board of Education regulations. (G.L. c. 150E, [[section]] 1; 603 CMR 42.00)

Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recommendations: The school committee chairperson may appoint the municipal official to be a member of the school committee’s negotiating subcommittee. Absent such an appointment, the statute does not guarantee that the municipal official will be at the negotiating table, unless the school committee as a whole is involved in the negotiations. Under the statute, the municipal official’s role is to participate and vote “as a member of the school committee,” whenever the school committee as a whole takes up the collective bargaining agreement. The municipal official has the same rights and responsibilities of participation as any other member of the school committee in relation to collective bargaining, including the right to be kept informed about the progress of negotiations.

Aside from the Lowell City Council in January giving the Mayor the okay to give City Manager Murphy dispensation to negotiate on behalf of the School Committee, I cannot find in the school committee minutes dating back to July 2014 a public vote appointing Manager Murphy to the negotiating team allowing him to join in or authorizing he, Supt. Franco and Atty. Hall to negotiate a full contract with the UTL and assoc. unions on the School Committee’s behalf.

The last few things I found are from October, November 2014 and December 2014 don’t state that the School Committee as a whole is giving their bargaining powers to this sub-committee, but maybe I missed it?

In fact in October it appears that someone was indeed negotiating or that they had received an offer from UTL but no where is the Manager mentioned. When did he get involved? Will anyone tell us? Was it not until January when the Council waved off a conflict? Did they wave it off because he was already involved and they didn’t want the public to know?

Oct 2014 Executive Session: 2- Consideration of the latest proposal from the United Teachers of Lowell

Nov 2014 Executive Session:
Review and Response to Collective Bargaining Proposals, Positions and Correspondence for UTL, LSAA and SEIU.

Dec 2014
2014 / 497 Special Meeting: UTL and LSAA- Review of Collective Bargaining
Positions and Litigation Updates.

No wonder the Union is frustrated not knowing who has the power to make a deal and who are just the messengers.

If the Manager, Supt. and Atty are the negotiating team, shouldn’t the public and especially the Union be informed of that?

It isn’t only the NFL and deflate gate that takes forever to resolve and people slow to answer questions.

Back in June 2014 I asked this question: Is there a Conflict of Interest ? Look at the facts. It was in regard to what many thought were votes by Councilor Belanger that he maybe should not have taken.

Should Councilor Belanger even be voting to approve members of the License Commission who oversee his establishment?

Communication-Reappoint John Descoteaux to License Commission In City Council, approved by Roll Call vote.

Communication-Appoint Terrence McCarthy to License Commission
In City Council, approved by Roll Call vote.

Communication-Appoint Kristen Hogan to License Commission In City Council, approved by Roll Call vote

Lowell Sun : The council voted 8-0 to confirm the re-appointment of John Descoteaux to the License Commission. It also voted by the same margin to confirm the new appointments of Terry McCarthy and Kristen Hogan to the License Commission. All of their terms will expire in 2020. Councilor Ed Kennedy was absent for the votes.

City Council Tuesday June 24th: Appoint- Nancy McGovern to the License Commission. Ratified by council unanimously.

Has he or anyone else asked and received an answer from the State Ethics Commission? Inquiring minds want to know!

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