Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Patrick's Local Aid Numbers

Here they are, with a bit more -- including some local reaction -- later this afternoon at

Local/lottery aid: $10,406,302. That's up slightly from this year's $10,238,447. It's an increase of 1.6 percent. Oof.

Education/Chapter 70 aid: $39,781,354. That's up from this year's $38,857,303. It's an increase of about 2.3 percent. Again, oof.

When the state isn't increasing its aid to match the rate of inflation -- which Mayor Dan Mylott pegs at about 4 percent this year, not counting higher (like 8 percent) increases in health care -- that's a problem. Let the local wailing begin.


The Mayor and Patrick

From today's Boston Globe:

Mayor Dan Mylott had said yesterday he was going to try to attend Gov. Deval Patrick's budget address, and clearly he made it.

Patrick unveils his full budget today, including local aid information. You can find local information at when it becomes available.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

More School $$s in Patrick's Budget

The Globe has a story today with the news that Gov. Deval Patrick's budget, unveiled this Tuesday, will include a bunch of money for schools around the state. A source says it will be more than $50 per student, but doesn't say if the money is being spent per student. Details, of course, on Tuesday.

While ed money is expected to increase, state agencies are being essentially level-funded. Let the special-interest screaming and yelling begin. Reporters, by the way, love this stuff. You'll see a bunch of stories in the future from groups saying they can't lose this or that. So much fun.

By the way, Patrick's new kind of government hasn't eliminated the old kind of leaks that always come around budget time. Good to see that despite declining circulation and general declining impact on the region, the Globe is still the go-to place for leaks (sarcasm intended). It's the way it's always been, and clearly the way it will be in the immediate future.


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Local Option Taxes

There are a couple of stories in this week's Fitchburg Pride about Gov. Deval Patrick's "Municipal Partnership Act," and most notably the 2 percent meals tax proposal. One of the stories, by Karen Mann, talks to local officials about their feelings on the proposal (by the way, it's the first story we've seen with local Fitchburg reaction. Not bad for followers, hey "Constable").

The other is a piece I wrote looking at the likely minor -- if any -- impact Patrick's plan would have on our property taxes in Fitchburg.

If you haven't already, take a gander at both. If you haven't, just consider that Fitchburg is desperate for money, but officials are cool to adding a meals tax. Politics? Maybe, certainly possibly in an election year, but there are few communities in tighter fiscal straights than Fitchburg, and they officials aren't even giving the "it's something to seriously consider" should be a sign of the viability of Patrick's idea.

Patrick, of course, gets another chance to talk municipal funding improvements and property tax relief when he unveils his budget this week (his budget message -- a mini state of the state, perhaps -- hits NECN live Tuesday at 7 p.m. Other local stations may follow).

As we discussed on "Politically Speaking" this week, part of the drapes/Caddy/wife's chief of staff mayhem was based on the fact that Team Patrick, has been pretty quiet in its first two months. When asked about it -- like in a Globe story a few weeks ago -- Team Patrick says it's very focused on the budget. Well, the results of that hard work hit the light of day this week. It will be very interesting to see what that work has wrought.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

This Week's Fitchburg Pride

What to look for in this week's Fitchburg Pride, which hits the streets tomorrow:

-- City officials are not embracing Gov. Deval Patrick's proposal that would allow the city to create a 2 percent meals tax.

-- There's a ton of cool things -- from FCS spoofs to Longsjo crashes and more -- on the Web that are Fitchburg related.

-- City leaders are already planning the summer and fall seasons for Riverfront Park, as they work on improving the park's exposure.

-- About 500 people pitch in to help raise $25,000 for the family of Ashley Campbell, a 4-year-old who is fighting Leukemia (and was featured in the Feb. 9 edition of the Pride).

-- News on sports, schools, Fitchburg State College and more.

The Pride is available at almost 150 locations around the city, and is still going pretty fast. Make sure to get your copy over the weekend.


Media Alert! Media Alert!

When Ralph Romano's starter for tonight was a last-minute scratch, he looked down at his depleted bullpen, held his nose, and gave me a call.

We're taking the Pawtucket Shuttle and will be a fill-in guest tonight on "Politically Speaking," Fitchburg's best political TV show. The power and the glory can be seen at 7 p.m. on FATV.

We'll likely talk a little bit about the early returns on the Fitchburg Pride and what's in tomorrow's paper (thanks for reading, everyone, and expect a sneak-preview post later today), some mayoral election politics, and I'd guess things like stolen money and Fire Department raises just might come up.

As always, this one will be a keeper, so fire up the TiVo and make the popcorn up nice and fresh. We'll be making a request for FATV to upgrade these studio shows to HD soon, so try to suffer through the standard haze tonight.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The $41,000 Answer

Since the day he died, and probably even before that, rumors long circulated that some money disappeared under Bruce Richards' watch. An audit being released by the city shows that about $41,000 went missing under Richards' tenure.

It's unclear what the city does from here, what Richards did for the money (although a lot of people mention he drove sweet cars), and if the money can be reclaimed somehow. It will be interesting how the Council handles this tonight.

Add your comments below, but I think this is a good time to add a special note: Some comments have been slipping toward the unacceptible lately, and I'm sure this story will lead some folks down a road they shouldn't go down. You can't libel the dead, but you can be disrespectful. Don't be disrespectful, and keep it on the facts at hand. Play fair.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Donnelly Mystery Answered?

City Councilor Tom Donnelly said this week he's "pretty certain" he'll run for mayor this year (story on on line yet). That makes three.

A four-term councilor, Donnelly's been around the track a few times. He joins incumbent Mayor Dan Mylott and Councilor Ted DeSalvatore on the likely-to-run list.

Donnelly could be an intriguing candidate. Mylott is Mylott. After 20 years in politics you know what your getting from him. DeSalvatore has staked out the energized, change flank. Where does Donnelly fit in? He's not really a change candidate, and doesn't have Mylott's power of incumbency or super-lengthy history. He's somewhere in between.

Some folks around here have left comments that if not word-or-word, pretty much say, "the devil you know or the devil you don't" in terms of Mylott and DeSalvatore. Is Donnelly a devil, or a middle-ground candidate? It'll be interesting to see where he shakes out as the campaign rolls on.

You have to think another name or two pops up between now and the fall. The stage is being set for a preliminary race and then the general election. A crowded early field can only help Mylott, how has the strongest locked-down base in the race. He can pretty much write his ticket to the finals, and let everyone scramble to get on the general election ticket, it would appear. Let the fun begin.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

This week's Fitchburg Pride

Here's what is coming up in this week's Fitchburg Pride:

--The North Central Charter Essential School has had a rough go of it over the last year, but officials expect to earn a charter renewal from the state Department of Education this month and are optimistic they can turn the school around.

--Officials and residents are working toward making the city a "No Place for Hate" community, with three events being planned for this year.

--The median single-family home price in the city was stagnant in 2006 from 2005. Local experts say it's a buyers market for the first time in a decade.

--A look at the Putnam Street Lanes, the oldest bowling alley in America, but one with a few new tricks up its sleeve.

--Tons more in schools, seniors, Fitchburg State College, Team Fitchburg and more.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

What's it doing out?

Well, we know what it's doing out. More precisely: What is the city doing about it?

In theory, the snow and ice budget should be in good shape, despite it being the middle of February. Remember, this is the first storm of the year. However, according to a report from SaveFitchburg Mansion, the roads have been untouched and vehicles are struggling to get up even the fairly gentle hill in front of SFM.

So, look out the window and report in. What's it doing out?


The DeSalvatore Campaign

There's been a lot of talk good and bad about Councilor Ted DeSalvatore's budding mayoral campaign. Say what you want about the guy, but whoever is running is press operation is doing a masterful job.

The Sentinel checks in today with a story from members of DeSalvatore's "exploratory committee" talking about why Ted would be good choice for mayor (not available online yet). It's a nice, glowing piece that talks mostly about the city's business climate and how DeSalvatore can get it heated up again.

It is, by my count, the third story in the last month of so that is sweetly Ted-centric, with nary a sign of ill words. Whoever is coming up with these story ideas and getting them placed deserves a raise.

The tires on DeSalvatore need to be kicked. At some point details will need to be fleshed out he'll need to prove a certain level-headedness that is questionable at this point (or, he needs to stop getting in trouble through his mouth, like the council vacancy business a few weeks ago). He's moving up to the big-boy stage, and will need to prove he belongs. He has nearly nine months to do it.

But in the meantime, somebody is giving him great advice. For the most part he hasn't been making too many waves publicly (last week's hiccup omitted) and has craftily used the media to his advantage. If his operation hums like this all year, his campaign will be a smooth operation indeed.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

National Ambitions, Local Knowledge

Former Gov. Mitt Romney announced today he's running for president. Of course, we already knew it. Long before the rest of the country, in fact. posted Romney's remarks from this morning. You can read them all here, but here are a few of our favorite parts:

"We have lost faith in government, not in just one party, not in just one house, but in government. We are weary of the bickering and bombast, fatigued by the posturing and self-promotion," Romney said.

Really? This guy spent the second half of his disastrous administration ripping this state in half politically (well, not half really, because he didn't do the state Republican Party a damn bit of good). He made his disdain for the Legislature -- Democrats really -- well known. He's going to talk about bickering and bombast?

But then, Michigan's favorite son really gets it going with his distaste for "posturing and self-promotion." Mitt, we watched you do nothing but grandstand and self-promote since 2001. You have some kind of nerve.

Mitt goes on later to say he values the sanctity of human life, opposes gay marriage, and thinks the will of the voters should be heard. Never quite got to that 5 percent income tax rate that the voters approved way back, did you, Mitt? He also said America feels overtaxed. After he raised fees to the tune of $900 million, what wouldn't we feel that way?

Finally, check this one out:

"We must link arms with all responsible nations to block Iran from realizing its nuclear ambition. America must never engage and negotiate with Jihadists who want to destroy us, destroy our friends, and destroy our way of life!"

First, the exclamation point comes right off the speech copy. Second, what, exactly does that mean? Doesn't much of the country roll its eyes at President Bush when Iran comes up? Don't most Americans feel like Iran could be another Iraq (even though the Iranians really are up to nuclear hijinx, it appears). While most of the national conversation is on getting out of Iraq, how beneficial is a discussion on Iran? Romney's been a little bit alone on this, and it will be interesting to see how he fleshes out his foreign policy on this matter. It seems a pretty red-meat, Bush strategy.

So, America, welcome to our Mitt. Or, really, Utah and Michigan's Mitt. Or as Mitt might like to probably say, the Olympics' Mitt. He's taken his posturing and self-promotion national, and we really couldn't be more proud. We also couldn't be more aware of who he is and what he's about. Enjoy. We sure didn't.


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Disingenuity within the City Council?/Campaign Strategy

All but lost in the interest and activity surrounding the Council’s selection of a replacement for DiNatale was a comparison of which Councilor voted for which candidate in view of the controversy resulting from Turbo Ted DeSalvatore’s remarks printed in the Worcester Telegram.

Bloggers may recall the self-serving, rather sanctimonious pablum offered by Conry, one of the two Councilors vocally critical of DeSalvatore, decrying DeSalvatore’s remarks about “this honorable body” as "… false, contained innuendoes and pure suppositions." Yet, the actual vote (as recorded by Jason) indicates Councilors Donnelly, Boisvert, Kaddy and Conry steadfastly supported the identical candidate (Murray) on all three ballots. In a display of monumental stupidity given his remarks toward DeSalvatore prior to the actual voting, Conry continued to cast his vote for Murray after candidate Cruz had secured the necessary 6th vote.

Any number of speculative reasons can be attributed to DeSalvatore’s comments. However, Conry’s expressed outrage, given his votes for Murray and those of his colleagues, was clearly provided to confuse and dissuade the suspicions of an ever gullible public. Clearly, there is nothing untoward, or illegal, in engaging in prior discussion with colleagues-and the evidence shows there was considerable prior discussion. What’s the point to be made in Conry’s denying the obvious?


Imagine, for a moment, you are a campaign strategist for Candidate X, who seeks re-election as Mayor. What strategy would you suggest your candidate employ given a 6 year previous track record of:

1. Significant property tax increases year after year.
2. Continuation of a slow, steady decline despite prosperity in the adjoining citty and towns creating the impression a rebound in the near future is little more than a “rosy scenario.”
3. Significant increases in the rate of violent crime.
4. A downtown with empty, boarded up retail establishments and the memory of business failures.
5. Entire neighborhoods decling to slum status consequently diminishing the value of property in remaining neighborhoods.
6. Constant increases in spending and borrowing.
7. Massive increases (near 25% since June, 2005) of spending on schools.
8. Schools with faulty boilers and leaking roofs and kids lacking textbooks.
9. Appointment of personnel with questionable backgrounds and experience, not to mention a convicted arsonist, to positions of trust.
10.The findings by the Mass. Department of Education that several schools fall in the “non-performing” category and that a “sweetheart deal” was negotiated for the lease of space at a rate far in excess of anything paid in Worcester County for comparable space.
11.Continuing series of “screw ups” with the budget on an annual basis.
12.Award of salary increases during a period when the city can least afford such increases.
13.Possible candidate(s)-with unknown positions on these issues-hammering your candidate week after week, soon day after day, calling attention to your failures.

What strategems would you suggest to ensure the re-election of your candidate? Given such a lackluster track record while in office is it remotely conceivable, let alone an example of rational thought, your candidate could pull off an election miracle?


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Tick ... Tick ... Tick

Repeatedly on Save Fitchburg we see bloggers express as priorities running the city in a businesslike manner, having a definite plan for the city's future, and attracting business and industry to provide jobs and share the economic burden of the city.

Bloggers regularly express their frustration at the general lack of business acumen of our mayor and city councilors, and at our electoral process being a personality contest (if not exactly a beauty contest), rather than a comparison of the most qualified candidates. While that might work reasonably well at the council level, it has become disastrous at the executive level.

Our current form of city government, "strong mayor, weak council", is modeled after municipal governments in the days of King George. While we overthrew British rule, we continue to suffer under the outmoded concept of the "little people" subject to the whims of the local monarch.

I was personally three years of age before I spoke, and some say I've been making up for it ever since. Certainly, once having found my voice, I want to assure that my voice and the voices of all my fellow citizens are heard.

I believe, as do others, that it is high time we explored alternatives to being perpetual children, subjects of the Lord Mayor, regardless of the individual who fills that role. I do not easily bend my knee except to a Higher Authority, and my very essence (and probably that of my pre-Revolutionary Colonial ancestors) rebels at the prospect of being "governed" and ruled over by the Wizard of Oz in the corner office, regardless of who he/she may be at the time. I do know many others who feel the same.

It is time that the mayor's role became a function of ceremony and ombudsmanship. Fitchburg is far too large and has far too much at stake for a social worker, department store clerk, schoolteacher, or other (albeit nice and well meaning) individual without professional municipal management training and experience having a stranglehold on a now almost ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLAR TAXPAYER FUNDED MUNICIPAL BUDGET.

This city has been run haphazardly for too long, and in reality, our beautiful city has been run into the ground.

I am of the firm opinion that we have one chance left not just to "Save Fitchburg," but to REBUILD Fitchburg, and that is by utilizing professional management.

Fitchburg, as a city of approximately 40,000 souls, is in the minority of the cities and towns in the United States in continuing our antiquated Mayor-Council form of government. The majority of municipalities with populations over 12,000 successfully utilize the services of a professional administrator, whether (s)he be termed a City Manager, Chief Administrator or other moniker.

These individuals usually have at least a Bachelor's and frequently advanced degree in municipal management and administration, and participate regularly in continuing education opportunities. They are hired by the city council, which retains all legislative and approval authority. The city manager is answerable to the city council, and thereby to the citizens.

From the ICMA (International City/County Management Association website, is a nutshell synopsis of how it works:
"Under a system of local government called the council-manager form, the elected officials are the community leaders and policy makers who establish a vision for their city, town, or county, and who hire the manager to carry out policy and ensure that all residents are being equitably served. The manager coordinates the work of department heads and other employees, who help ensure the smooth and efficient delivery of services. By building public/private partnerships, managers target all of a community's resources to solve current problems."

I have learned today that some of our elected officials have taken the first step in formally inquiring into the steps to revise the city charter and consider a Council - City Manager form of government, with a ceremonial role of mayor (at reduced salary).

I strongly endorse this exploration, have volunteered to serve and assist in any private citizen's role as needed, and I ask that if you would be interested in serving on a citizen's committee to EXPLORE AND INVESTIGATE both revising the City Charter and considering whether a City Manager would be right for Fitchburg, please make yourself known.

And please before you point to Worcester's difficulties don't decide before you have investigated the majority of successes. Try Staunton or Charlottesville VA; Cincinnati or Akron, OH; Richland, WA; San Jose or Palo Alto or Berkely, CA; Tempe, AZ; Dallas or Austin, TX - just for starters and comparison.

It is time. And time is rapidly running out.



Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Mayor's Press Conference

Perhaps not surprisingly, Mayor Dan Mylott today agreed with city councilors who were critical of Councilor Ted DeSalvatore during last night's City Council meeting. Mylott and DeSalvatore are considered likely candidates for mayor this fall. Read more.


Moving forward to September & November

Now that the selection process to replace current State Rep DiNatale is complete, attention returns to the period between now and the September election runoff and the November election.

Numerous previous posts to this blog indicate the September runoff and November election represent a measure of individual popularity than a vote on the actual issues before the City. Who knows? Effective arguments to the contrary have also been posted.

However, it is never too early to gauge the sentiment of voters as to their concerns as to the main issues.

Reflecting a personal perspective (NOTE: My kids are well beyond the education age) the major issues this year are expected to be (in no particular order of importance):

1. Budget
2. Property taxes/overall tax burden
3. Delivery, or lack thereof, of municipal services
4. Education
5. Cost of municipal government
6. Is Fitchburg “on the right track?”
7. Burden imposed by municipal indebtedness
8. Crime & Safety
9. School budget
10.Ineffective, moribund City Council in terms of charting the future of Fitchburg

Without doubt, bloggers may disagree with the aforementioned, which are simply provided as a stimulus for the thought process.

Comments would be appreciated in terms of the issues-and-of the known candidates (Mylott has indicated he will seek re-election; Maynard has indicated he will seek a return to the Council; presumably, the current Council will seek re-election other than Turbo Ted DeSalvatore who appears bent on running for Mayor) are we in for “more of the same” or is substantial (radical-“throw the bums out” change in order)? Please be specific. Name names. Indicate issues of concern. Who among the elected do you find disappointing? Why so? Who merits praise? Why so?

FINAL QUESTION-What-in your opinion-are the 5 main reasons companies/potential employers fail to locate in Fitchburg?


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Live Blog: The Council Vacancy

We're going to update this post throughout the interviews and deliberation as the City Council chooses a new at-large member to replace Steve DiNatale. You'll probably have to hit the "refresh" button to see updates.

Rosemary Reynolds leads off. Painful introduction as she acknowledges each councilor. Hits on experience as being able to get going quickly. Shockingly, finances are the first big issue... Says we have to work together. "No one councilor or a few of us independent from the others" can solve the problems.... Points to health care costs as a major issue. Has a grasp of the numbers and the lingo, but her word-for-word reading has almost no fire or zip. Zoning laws need changing... Wants to tax telecommunications for "property" in city. Like poles and stuff... Cut off, asks for vote, says she has specifics... Overall, nothing surprising, outstanding or energizing.

Here comes McLaughlin. Stands, doesn't sit. Hard to hear... "I decided to not sit back and complain about the problems..." Hits on ZBA membership and credentials... Has relationships with councilors and thinks he's on the same page with many of them... Citizen looking to get super-involved... Solid, but not spectacular.

Michael DiPietro: Live-long resident, seen the good and the bad. Dad was a school teacher, grandfather long-time caretaker at Crocker Field. Wants to give back to the community... Wants to erase negativity and move Fitchburg forward. Nice... Financial issues: Conservative spending, encourage biz and residential development. Mentions city image again... Says one of the reasons people move here is the school system. Uh, that image adjustment can't come all at once, Michael... Says Fitchburg can be better than ever, and the "pre-eminent community in the Montachusett" area. Not too shabby.

Now batting, Murray: His commitment is the key. "I have a sense of duty." Says he's passionate about his work, but he seems more nervous than passionate right now. Laundry list of issues, but says he doesn't have the answers. Has some ideas. As a unit, the council can support the city's goals. Need a concensus and prioritize... A step back from DiPietro and McLaughlin.

When, oh when, is somebody going to blow the doors off the joint?

Judge: Homeowner and business owner in town. Derek scratches him off his list... If you haven't heard, he's on the License Commission... Tips the cap to city employees. He should probably be talking about himself, no?... We need to think outside the box. We can't accept the phrase this is the way we always did it... Budget process needs to be looked at. Year after year it's a struggle... Pretty good. At least talking creative stuff.

Jay Cruz: Right off, democratic process. He's the man of the people. "The will of the people should be taken into account when possible." "I've heard there's no second place in politics." Intends to run again this fall... Voice would reflect the changing dynamics of the city -- coy way to play the minority card?... That's it. No issues. Let's see if sixth place is good enough tonight.

Kevin Maynard: Crazy experience. Started quarterly billings for property taxes (and we thank you for that). List of petitions he's filed that have worked for the city... Experience, experience, experience... Laundry list of votes that he had a part in, including downtown revitalization, 5th Street Bridge, and the new high school... Pats councilors on the back for holding line on free cash, going after tax deliquents, and new landlord regulations... "It more likely brings a healthy discussion and better outcomes." Might be the best of the night. Seems to have deep experience, throws in some political analysis/bouquets to the council. Wants to restore respect to hard-working Fitchburg men and women.

Fontaine: Cold weather reference. Says he'll be brief. Hey, by the way, used to be a councilor... Budget experience as chair of Finance Committee. Understands inner workings of city government. Former chair of Planning Board and redevelopment authority. Knows nuts and bolts of government. "I'll be a quick study."

Seney: Admits to not being 100 percent up to speed on issues. Uh-oh. Grabs mantle of new, young Fitchburg.


It's a tie. Four for Murray, four for Cruz.

Here we go again:

DiMartino: Cruz
DeSalvatore: Curz
DonnellY: Murray
Hay: Cruz
Joseph: Cruz
Kaddy: Murray
Tran: Fontaine
Boisvert: Murray
Clark: Fontaine
Conry: Murray

Here we go again:

DiMartino: Cruz
DeSalvatore: Cruz
Donelly: Murray
Hay: Cruz
Joseph: Cruz
Kaddy: Murray
Tran: Cruz
Boisvert: Murray
Clark: Cruz
Conry: Murray.

It's Jay Cruz.


DeSalvatore Under Fire

Here we go.

Stephen Hay and Thomas Conry are going off on Ted DeSalvatore, who said the Telegram last week that councilors are conspiring to pick a candidate for the DiNatale seat.

Conry says DeSalvatore's comments were "absolutely false. Hay said he's lost respect for DeSalvatore. DeSalvatore doesn't respond.

We're in a recess waiting for some councilors to show. Live blogging likely begins then.


Council Decides Tonight

The City Council picks its new colleague tonight when it fills the at-large seat opened up by Steve DiNatale's resignation last month (read Karen Mann's most excellent preview).

Does the council pick Jay Cruz -- strong candidate and sixth-place finisher in 2005 -- or does it go in a different direction? What, exactly, are councilors looking for?

The process is pretty simple: Candidates have a three-minute interview, likely followed by some council discussion, then it votes. Interestingly, some candidates said last week they're weren't doing any campaigning, and thought their letters of interest, resume, and the interview would be plenty. That's going to be some compelling three minutes if that's what they're banking on.

We're not sure our plans for tonight. If we keep this icky flu at bay, get our traditional Tuesday night work done (an editor never sleeps, he just designs pages) and manage to free up the TV near the computer (note to FATV: when can we get council meetings in HD?), we might actually live-blog this thing. If we're relegated to the bedroom TV, we'll update after the event. Either way, we're willing to bet the news will first be posted at the Fitchburg Pride.

It should be an interesting night. Unless the councilors are sandbagging publicly, there's no clear-cut leader here. Cruz would seem to be in the driver's seat, but there's no indication he's a slam dunk. Maybe they're just trying to make him sweat it.

We'll update once we get our technology plans for tonight straightened out (what I really mean is what can I negotiate with Mrs. Save Fitchburg and get my pages done). Perhaps we'll finally break into the world of live blogging. We'll see.


Saturday, February 03, 2007

Sports Ramblings

I have an itch to write about some sports. Once upon a time I was a sportswriter, so I guess it doesn't really go away. Anyway, here goes.

Admission: I'm not a Patriots fan. I'm a Raider guy (begin rant here). That said, the psychological importance of last weekend was lost on me until late this week, when Pats fans still said they weren't going to watch the Super Bowl.

That point was rammed home yesterday, when I talked to a Leominster guy in Iraq. Still smarting from the Colts loss, the guy wasn't planning on watching the Super Bowl. Even though this guy misses home -- and what says America like the Super Bowl (both good and bad) -- he's probably skipping the game because he's still down about the Pats.

I didn't think much about it after the game -- I went straight to bed while Mrs. Save Fitchburg stewed for another hour or so -- but looking back, what a monumental loss for the Patriots and their fans. If they weren't the Yankee fans of this century, I'd feel even worse for them.

The Bruins stink. I don't know what else to say.

The Celtics stink, but at least they have a reason. And that's the real impetus behind my ramblings. The Celts have lost 14 straight, but if they haven't been in every game, they've been in 12 or 13 of them. They haven't been able to finish. Would that have been the case with Paul Pierce on the court? I'm sure they would have won a handful of these games.

So, that's the difference between this year's team and that god-awful team 10 years ago that ML Carr rode into the ground to try to get Tim Duncan. This team -- with a spry Al Jefferson, a tough Delonte West, and a growing Rajon Rondo -- has potential. They lost a superstar, but they still play competitive, tough ball.

There's no use at this point trying to salvage the season. Be bad, hope to get one of the first two picks of the draft, and get Oden or Durrant.

This team was never more than a 35-40 win team with hopes of stealing the 8th spot in the playoffs. At this point, pack this season away, but watch the kids play a lot and get better. Find another solid vet in the offseason, add a stud through the draft, and maybe they're a 45-50 win team next year.

As for the Red Sox, that's a different post later on.


Friday, February 02, 2007

Crocker School to Reopen Monday

The Crocker Elementary School will reopen on Monday, February 5. For more details, click here.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

This week's Fitchburg Pride

Here's what's coming up in this week's Fitchburg Pride, which hits the streets tomorrow morning:

--A look at Tuesday's City Council vote to fill Steve DiNatale's at-large seat on the council. Candidates are taking different approaches, and councilors are looking for different things.

--There's a run on the river. Three developments -- one on the way, two proposed -- are making mill buildings on the Nashua River prime real estate in Fitchburg.

--Mayor Dan Mylott outlines a year's worth of upcoming projects with an opinion piece.

--More news on the city's events, groups, a full rundown of this month's senior calendar, and more.


Ex-councilor Straight agrees to $2,000 ethics fine

Former City Councilor Matthew Straight agreed to pay a State Ethics Commission fine of $2,000 stemming from Straight’s role in License Commission reviews of the Third Base Bar & Grill and the House of Brews.

To read more, click here.