Friday, March 30, 2007

As the Mayoral campain unfolds...

Several months ago on this blog someone raised the point that while critical observations and comment routinely appeared on the blog, no one came forward with ideas or approaches to address what was (then) a looming, obvious problem. Similarly, Mylott has faulted the City Council for the paucity of ideas or alternatives.

This past Monday (see: “More on the State of the City”) Rachel posted the following:

“Novel idea: why isn't someone running for mayor with the platform of CUTTING SPENDING by 10% for each of two successive years.”

Now, as a long time participant on this blog I was surprised, actually somewhat dismayed, to realize not one blogger reacted (pro or con) to such a uncomplicated premise and proposal. When you take the time to actually consider the suggestion it makes fundamental sense and should be thought provoking. The simplicity of the concept coupled with the opportunity presented, I believe, merits extensive consideration as the election campaign unfolds.

Setting an entirely arbitrary floor of $300K per suggested item, all the while recognizing that every little bit helps, a few suggested measures gleaned from this blog to halt the fiscal insanity to support Rachel’s idea:

1. FREEZE BOTH THE TAX RATE AND THE ASSESSED VALUATION FOR 5 YEARS AT 2005 LEVELS-Why? If, as been repeatedly indicated, continued growth is among the answers to the current fiscal situation-this forces Mylott to put money where your his mouth is (malapropism intended). A freeze allows additional revenue from growth because it facilitates growth and a freeze at 2005 levels eliminates any possibility of consideration for a decline in assessed valuation as took place during 2006. In short, Mylott is provided a financial cushion and a very short string.

2. CAP SCHOOL SPENDING-In conjunction with the above, cap any increase in spending to 2.0% maximum over the prior fiscal year for the nest 5 years.

3. CONSOLIDATE/MERGE CITY DEPARTMENTS-into 3 divisions-Public Safety (Fire, Police, DPW); Administration (City Clerk, Treasurer, Auditor, IT, Assessor, HR, Health, Building, Planning, Purchasing); Schools. Eliminate any position which includes within the position title “Assistant to,” “Deputy,” or any of the similarly various euphemisms. And, shut down the Fitchburg Redevelopment Authority as a needless duplication of effort.

4. IDENTIFY & AUCTION ALL OBSOLETE MUNICIPAL PROPERTY AND REAL ESTATE-within 6 months. No bids received-give the property to a non-profit developer with the understanding the property must be developed within 1 year into revenue producing property.

5. INVEST/LEASE AVAILABLE TECHNOLOGY-with the proceeds from #4

6. ELIMINATE THE SCHOOL COMMITTEE-There is simply no sound reason why Ward Councilors cannot fulfill the same function as the present School Committee AS A Committee of the Council.


8. OFFER A SINGLE OMNIBUS HEALTH MAINTENANCE PLAN TO ALL EMPLOYEES-gain the advantage resulting from economies of scale.

9. CAP ALL MUNICIPAL SALARIES AT $50k PER ANNUM-Place Dept. Heads and Managers on a bonus program where salary is supplemented by a 5% share of funds not spent by their Dept. For example, a Dept. budgeted at $5 million that spends $4 million would pay the Dept. Head an additional $50,000.


a. Eliminate any and all Petitions/Requests for Services for petty items such as curb repair, rainwater diversion, etc. Give ‘em directly to the Highway Dept. with a 14 day response requirement.
b. Any Petition must be acted and voted on by the full Council and the referred Committee within 60 days or less. Otherwise, the Petition is deemed approved.
c. Every Petition is referred to a Committee and the Finance Committee in order to determine a funding appropriation. No funding = no approval.

11.The name and address of each and every taxpayer more than 90 days in arrears is published along with the unpaid balance and appeal status, if any. One single list, published quarterly, by street address. This list includes delinquent water and sewer and excise tax delinquencies.

12.ENFORCE TRAFFIC/VEHICULAR OPERATION LAWS-All funds resulting from fines for violations are used exclusively to purchase replacement vehicles for Police, Fire and DPW Depts.

13.DOWNSIZE SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION-Expressed simply, if you are not a teacher or a School Principal or the Superintendent your job must be evaluated and justified annually-and the sole justification is in improvement to MCAS.

14.CAP ALL PROPERTY TAX FOR SENIORS (AGE 65+) AT $1000.00 ANNUALLY-assuming 10 consecutive year’s residence at the same location and no children in school.

15.CEASE FUNDING ANY AND ALL NON-CITY ORGANIZATIONS-Period, no exception. No Hispanic Council, No “Friendly Sons of the Shamrock,” no Inter-Faith Community Reach-Out, nothing.

16.Provide the Mayor a 4 year term and a maximum of 2 terms in office.

17.Close City Hall. Sell the property for development at auction. City Hall is nothing more than desk space, replaceable with a closet sized room and servers.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

In This Week's Fitchburg Pride

Or, as it's going to be unofficially called: The Education Issue.

For some reason we have a lot of school stories, but they're all good. Here's a glimpse of what's in this paper:

-- A roundup on the sewer rate situation, and some comments from City Council President Jody Joseph on the importance of an abatement (and higher rates for everyone else).

-- A nice story on the Joubert Skatepark, which will be raising some money in April for a popular skateboarding spot.

-- Now the education/kid stories: Reingold teacher Olga Cortez wins a state award for her work in dual-language education; FHS "Renaissance" students are recognized; and LUK is planning a youth summit for next month.



Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Mylott: New Treasurer by Next Week?

Mayor Dan Mylott said today that he hopes to have his choice for city treasurer picked by next week. He talked about digging into layoffs and other workforce reductions next week, and also talked about getting the city's arms around the wastewater fund issue.

To read more, visit the Fitchburg Pride website.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The First Step

The Fitchburg City Council Finance Committee tonight voted to table the sewer rate increase proposal.
We understand Mr. Jollimore made a convincing argument, and publicly expressed regret for his long time support of Mayor Mylott.

Is there a coup afoot?

Mylott is going to have a run for his money this year. His true opponent is neither Donnelly nor DeSalvatore, but his own history of squandering the taxpayers' money with no thought of tomorrow.

Congratulations to the Finance Committee. Let's hope this is the real beginning of a firm stance.

I think I just saw the rubber stamp go flying out the window!


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Take Me to the Pilot

In a move that surprise no one, the state Board of Education today voted to make the Academy School a pilot school.

The designation gives the school -- one of four to be given pilot status today -- some flexibility in day length, staffing, and other areas. The move is in response to the school's struggles in recent years. Local officials endorsed the change earlier this year, and the state gave the final go-ahead today.

Hopefully the pilot program, which has been successful in Boston, can be a success here. And if it is, hopefully the lessons learned can be used in the rest of the city's schools.



Sunday, March 25, 2007

One for Rachel (Or, Let's Talk Hoops)

The Final Four was set a few minutes ago, when Georgetown came from behind to nail UNC in OT. Quite a game.

While I'm out of the running in the important pool I'm in (I'm sure you can figure out what "important" means), I'm waaaay ahead in the office pool, after nailing all four Final Four teams correctly (yes, sustained, but not too exuberant, applause is appropriate right now).

This was the tourney that went according to script. Two 1 seeds and two 2 seeds are in the last weekend. By any measure, Florida and OSU were considered two of the top five teams in the country all year. UCLA has been in the mix all year, at one point ranked No. 1 in the country, and Georgetown has been coming on all year long.

In short, there has been an absence of upsets as the power teams have taken care of business throughout. For pool players who generally ignore potential upsets and instead hedge their bets (metaphorical bets, of course) by trying to keep it to the chalk late in the tourney, this year has been a good one.

Now, we have two games on tap for next Saturday. UCLA, which lost in the national final last year, must feel like it owes something to Florida, who it lost to last April. OSU and G'Town bring two seven-foot studs to the table. Good times ahead.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

More on State of the City

Take a peeky at the Fitchburg Pride website, loaded down with two stories from last night's big event. Karen Mann writes a nice little game story, and there's reaction from councilors and other city officials.



Thursday, March 22, 2007

State of the City

A lot more on this tomorrow, but a few thoughts tonight:

You either believe Mayor Dan Mylott and what he proposed tonight, or you don't. If you believe him, you'll wait and see what happens. If you don't, you're going to knock tonight as a lot of hot air.

Mylott was focused on the city's fiscal situation, and laid out some kind of framework for next year's budget. Expect budget cuts (school Supt. Andrew Ravanelle said he expects to cut, too) and staffing decreases. Also expect some long-term planning, some stabilization funding (Councilor Dean Tran thinks $250,000 is a good starting point), and a $1 million bond for school repairs.

Believe Mylott or not, but he threw it all out there, and he has six months to the preliminary election to prove it. Why hasn't this been done over the last five years? Good question, particularly on the long-term planning side.

So, if you're a believer, you're hoping for the best and optimistic about the city's future. If you don't believe, Dan Mylott has six months to change your mind.

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In This Week's Fitchburg Pride

The Fitchburg Pride hits the streets tomorrow morning, and here's what to expect:

-- City Councilor Jay Cruz, former Councilor Ralph Romano, and others are talking about taking a charter review. But they're not all on the same page about what that would entail. Find out what the issues are as this long-term project gets bandied about.

-- Ace reporter Karen Mann has a nice story on an FSC professor who is creating a scholarship to honor his parents, who spent their lives volunteering for various organizations in the city.

-- A look at crime stats from the FPD, along with in-depth comments from Police Chief Edward Cronin, his first remarks on the stats.

-- More news, features and other good stuff in 24 pages of fun.



Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Mylott Hammers Council Again

At his weekly press conference today, Mayor Dan Mylott was again critical of the City Council, this time for the council's vote last night on a resolution to hold off on union raises and negotiations until the budget is completed.

The council narrowly approved the measure last night, but it is not binding. Mylott called the vote "meaningless" and "inappropriate," and said he'd continue to negotiate. At least everyone is on the same page (sarcasm very much intended).

To read more from today's presser, check out the Fitchburg Pride website.

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Donnelly for Mayor

City Councilor Thomas Donnelly said yesterday he's pulled nomination papers for mayor, a big step toward him being in the race this fall.

At this point it's him, incumbent Mayor Dan Mylott, City Councilor Ted DeSalvatore, and long-time candidate Ronald Dionne.

Here's the question: Where does Donnelly fit into the race? As a long-time councilor, does he run as an establishment candidate? As a challenger, does he run as an agent of change? In the former, he tries to steal from Mylott's base. In the latter, he's fighting DeSalvatore for the change vote. Is there a middle ground, as an established change candidate?

It will be interesting to see, in that Donnelly is somewhere in between the pure change candidate and the incumbent.

It's an important question, because Donnelly's inclusion might play a big role in the preliminary election. If he's stealing establishment votes, maybe Mylott doesn't get through. If he splits the change vote, maybe DeSalvatore doesn't get through.

The three main candidates seem pretty even at this point. It will be interesting to see which one falls by the wayside in September, and how they move their support for the general election.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tran to Run for Council

Check out a little Fitchburg Pride web exclusive on Dean Tran running for re-election the City Council this fall, and not running for mayor.

It's no surprise Tran isn't running for mayor. He can't afford the $60,000 salary, and has said for months he didn't want to run. However, he wasn't sure about running for re-election, but pulled papers last week. Considering the frustration he has often felt as a councilor, it wasn't a slam dunk that he'd be back.

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$8 a Day

School Supt. Andrew Ravenelle floated an idea at last night's School Committee meeting that hits Save Fitchburg directly, a fee of about $8 per day for preschool.

We've got one in the preschool program, and love it. The teacher is great, the program is solid, and it's free. At about $8 per day, we figure it would cost about $1,500 per year. Obviously, that's not a lot for preschool, but we're spoiled by the current $0 we pay now (special education students, and free breakfast and lunch program students would not pay the fee).

If Mrs. Save Fitchburg and I were told last fall the program costs $1,500 a year, I don't think we would have batted an eye. Going from nothing to $1,500 is something of an annoyance, but not one that is going to cause massive outrage or rioting on Save Fitchburg Road.

It would, however, set something of a disturbing precedent -- adding a fee to basic education. Yes, this is a setting different from the typical classroom. The preschool program is, essentially, a special-education program that has slots for "regular" students. But in the end, my kid is getting a basic preschool program that in some small way I already pay for (by the way, thanks everyone for paying for it, too).

It's a precedent in that it begins to open the door to more fees for other programs. How about fees for frog dissections, chemistry experiments and Internet fees for computer classes? It's a slippery slope, and one the School Department needs to be aware of as it moves forward. Adding a fee to the preschool program isn't an absurd idea, but it might loosen things up for more fees in the future.



Monday, March 19, 2007

DeSalvatore by the numbers

In thinking about Councilor Ted DeSalvatore's mayor campaign, consider where he was two years ago:

When he first decided to run for Ward 4 councilor, he was able to get 48 signatures on his nomination papers, two short of the 50 required.

He ran as a write-in, and earned 85 votes.

In the general election, he earned 404 votes to win.

Once upon a time, not too long ago, DeSalvatore couldn't get 50 people to sign a piece of paper for him. Shortly after that, less than 100 voted for him in his first election.

Last Thursday, over 70 people showed up when he announced he was running for mayor. Or, nearly as many people who voted for him in the preliminary election in Fall 2005. He might surpass that 85 number in the Fitchburg Pride's online question this week (heavy, heavy ballot-stuffing, by the way by Team DeSalvatore).

What does it mean? Not that much, really. He certainly doesn't have a citywide electoral base, but that's the life of a ward councilor. But when people say the guy came out of nowhere, the numbers above help tell the story.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

About Last Night

A few thoughts and observations from last night's mayoral campaign announcment by Ted DeSalvatore:

It was, by any standard, a short and specific-free speech. The two biggest themes were "change," and "normal guy." There was little to no mention of issues, forget offering specific solutions. Take all the quotes from SF, the Pride online, and the Telegram and Sentinel, and you pretty much have the entire speech. Without a doubt, this election is going to be a referendum on status quo vs. change, but that can only take a candidate so far (if the electorate is moving toward change). DeSalvatore is going to have to throw out some ideas, thoughts and plans. It's tough to do while knocking on doors -- people want to shake your hand and get you off their doorstep for the most part -- so he's going to have use the papers and talk shows to make some headway.

This is something DeSalvatore is desperately into, and desperately wants. He admitted beforehand to being emotional and nervous about the speech, and it showed. He took a number of long pauses to collect himself. He's an emotional guy, no doubt about it, and he's emotionally invested in this run. He's going to need to match some of that emotion with some thoughtful plans and proving he can play ball. DeSalvatore has been most effective as a councilor when he's swung from the heels and didn't care much about the collateral damage as long as he got results. That's pretty OK for a councilor, and he's done some effective things (notably making crime in the Elm St. et al area a top issue). But as a mayor, sometimes you need to sweet talk, cajole and make nice to get things done. DeSalvatore needs to prove he can do that.

"This is not something that I ever could have thought happened to myself," DeSalvatore said. Well, he's doing it, and he needs to get comfortable with it, right fast. He wasn't comfortable last night. He was charming, he was happy with an adoring crowd, but he was fully comfortable and was a bit short of fully confident. He needs to get comfortable with what he's doing (and considering how long this has been in the works, shouldn't he be by now?). He's a confident guy, so that won't be an issue.

He had a crowd of about 70 people last night (I stopped counting in the low-60s, and few folks trickled in after my last count), but none of his colleagues were there. I'd love to know if invitations were extended or not.

It won't be hard for DeSalvatore to shape himself as the man of change and the man of the people. A little more strength on the policy side (is this a broken record yet?) and he'll make a very strong candidate this fall.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Not-so-secret anymore: DeSalvatore for Mayor

Ward 4 City Councilor Ted DeSalvatore let known the loudest secret in the city when he announced tonight he is running for mayor.

In an emotional speech, DeSalvatore said he's an agent for the city. He spoke only briefly, and then started getting nomination signatures from the crowd of about 70 at the Stonehaven Restaurant.

Five speakers spoke before DeSalvatore, including former City Councilor Joe Albert, who said, "We have a candidate here who in the short time he was a candidate had more things for his ward than the city could do four the other five wards combined."

Tammy Morrison, who also spoke, said she the police were "lackluster and noncaring" last November after her building was broken into. She touched on one of DeSalvatore's key issues, public safety.

"It's time for a positive change for Fitchburg and I feel Ted is the man for the job," Morrison said.

For more, check out the Fitchburg Pride website, and read tomorrow's Pride.

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Mylott targets council in letter to the editor

Rarely do we label something a must-read, but you gotta check out a letter to the editor from Mayor Dan Mylott. It will be in tomorrow's Fitchburg Pride, but you can read it right now on the Pride website. It's highly suggested you take a peek.

The letter details Mylott's stance on the bond rating and city finances, with a bit of a tick-tock on when he knew about the lower bond rating and how he told the council about the issue.

More importantly, though, is Mylott's regular smacking of the council in the piece. He says they don't talk to him, don't understand the process, and don't come up with viable options.

Mylott says next year's budget will be balanced and maintain services even though there will be some organizational changes and maybe some cuts.

It's a pretty extraordinary letter. Go check it out.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Today's Mylott Press Conference

Mayor Dan Mylott reassured citizens they should not be concerned that city officials are borrowing $10 million to sustain the budget for the rest of the fiscal year.
The Mayor met with the financial committee last night to discuss the issue.
At his weekly press conference today, he said there was some confusion and concern at the previous night’s meeting about borrowing the money.
“It is not uncommon,” said Mylott. “We have done it before, it is not unusual or weird.”
The amount borrowed is about 10 percent of the total fiscal year 2007 budget, and is not a huge amount, according to Mylott
The money will be used to pay off bills for the rest of this year and maintain the city’s cash flow, and has no bearing on future spending, he said. Mylott will give his State of the City address Thursday, March 22 at 7 p.m. at the Kent Recital Hall at Fitchburg State College. He encouraged the public to attend as he addresses the progress the city has made in fighting drugs and crimes, and the financial future of the city.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Two Non-Fitchburg Items

Because sometimes there's other stuff on my mind I want to talk about...

The worst-kept secret ever -- well, not really a secret it was so poorly kept -- became reality today, when Marty Meehan said he'll take the UMass-Lowell job he's been offered.

It sets off a pretty good political brew-ha-ha, with a bunch of folks looking at the seat. Most locally, Rep. Jamie Eldridge of Acton and former Lunenburg Selectman Steve Kerrigan (who also worked for Ted Kennedy and Tom Reilly is a genuinely good guy) are in the race. Nikki Tsongas is doing her semi-annual campaign tease, and other folks like Lowell City Councilor Eileen Donoghue, Middlesex Sheriff Jim DiPaola and probably one or two more and jockeying for position.

As the Phoenix's Talking Politics Blog astutely notes, the state senators in the district are taking a pass. Interesting.

In any event, we can't help but yap about what will be a most entertaining campaign (you can take the boy out of Lowell...). Good times ahead there. As some folks in these parts have noted before, it also might make things a bit interesting in a few years if the state has to drop a congressional district. You'd have to think the New Guy would be either forced out or pushed into a vicious survival battle with a longer incumbent. That's a ways away, so in the meantime, enjoy the election excitement.


I might be the last guy -- and certainly the last mostly political blog guy -- who still remotely follows the Celtics, forget writing about them. But a funny thing has happened over the last few months: It's become pretty clear who can play (and should stay) and who can't.

Obviously, this team begins and ends with Paul Pierce. If the Celts are serious about getting Odum or Durrant, teaming that guy with Pierce makes the Cs instantly far more credible.

Ryan Gomes is a keeper. He's a fantastic role player and can go off from time to time. Gerald Green has oodles of potential, and needs to stay. Delonte West shouldn't be a starting point guard in the Association, but he's another role player who would be a valuable sixth or seventh guy on a good team.

Rajon Rondo appears to have a future, but it's too soon to tell just how good he can be. He has glimmers of greatness, but has struggled. He needs to incubate a bit more. Kendrick Perkins is a nice 8-9 guy in a rotation, but shouldn't be starting. He won't if Odum is on the team next year.

Sebastian Telfair has been a no-passing disappointment. Wally Szerbiak (I don't even care enough to look to see if that's spelled right) has been a brutal disappointment and can't stay healthy. He's rarely missed when he's not around anyway.

That about covers the rotation guys, except for Al Jefferson. He has been absolute monster the last few months, and finally fulfilling the promise he had shown his first couple of years: The dude can flat out play.

He's averaging a double-double since Christmas, but his game has improved beyond the numbers. He's confident, quick to make a move, and smart with the ball. He's rebounding like a fiend. He's even staying out of foul trouble pretty well. If nothing else, the save grace of this season has been the coming out party for Jefferson. He's become a pleasure to watch.

Let's say things go right for the C's in the lottery. You're looking at Pierce at the 3, and then Jefferson and Odum/Durrant at the 4 and 5. Nice. A little veteran leadership at the point, maybe a streak shooter off the bench to fill the 2 from time to time, and that's a team that could win 45-50 games. Not a championship team, but on the path.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

In Bondage

We're a little late on this, but that's what happens when you're on vacation. Anyway...

The report from Standard & Poor's regarding the city economic health is, simply, horrific. They spare no feelings as they shred the city's situation. Everything from overestimating revenues to a lack of long-term planning is in there, and there aren't really any bright spots.

As they city tries to move forward, it's budget situation is becoming its major drag. City Council President Jody Joseph lamented that point in the Pride a few weeks ago when he said, "We can move on to better, more prosperous, growing things, but we can't get past the damn budget."

The City Council quickly pointed the finger at Mayor Dan Mylott -- with Councilor Thomas Conry going so far to call for a change this fall. That, of course, is up to the voters, and we'll see about that.

While Mylott shares the responsibility for this, where was the council? Where was the constant demands for long-term budget plans? Where was someone calling for more reserve funds, and making bigger cuts to the budget? The council complains its hands are tied with the budget, but by doing the one thing it can really do -- cutting the budget -- the council could have saved money, improved the reserve funds, and at least improved one of the problems highlighted by the report.

The council is the residents' line of defense on everything city-related, and until recently the council was relatively passive on fiscal matters. It came close to feeling its oats on the budget last summer, but didn't really kick it into gear until late last year.

So now, the council, the mayor, and the city have two choices: Hold the budget line, do what they can, and hope revenues improve from somewhere over time and slowly improve things. Or, it can give services a good chopping this spring, and take the beating that will come with it. And there will be beatings when education and public safety suffers, the DPW doesn't fix potholes quickly, or roads aren't plowed on minor storms next winter.

Big cuts means something for everyone to hate, and no elected official wants to spread hate in an election year. It will be interesting to see what path the council takes, and whether or not Mylott is on the same path. Working together would help, but if not, it will create a clash of wills going into this budget process.


Friday, March 02, 2007

Time for a Break

There comes a time in every fella's year when he has to pack up the kids, car seats, golf clubs, swimwear, suitcases and mouse ears, and head to Florida for a week.

For this fella, that time starts on Sunday. Expect to see a decrease in a production in these parts over that time, although there are some participants who could increase their output while I'm away.

Also, it means there will be minimal oversight in terms of reading stuff, refereeing comments, and general management of the place. Please be on your good behavior. I know for some people this just seems like an open door to be a doofus, but don't be that doofus.

When we get back, there will be plenty of time to talk budgets, elections and all the fun stuff to that makes Fitchburg, Fitchburg. Oh, yeah. Don't forget to pick up next's week Fitchburg Pride, which, as usual, will be full of good stuff.


More on the City Budget

There’s a totally awesome story in this week’s Fitchburg Pride about the city’s budget and a few councilors talking about lowering property taxes even as layoffs are possible. Here’s a few more things councilors said about the budget and city’s situation that didn’t get into the paper:

“My main concern, the thing I don’t want to see, is any anticipated monies that are not real. (Mayor Dan Mylott has) done that too many times for us in the past. Anticipated money from the state, land sales, whatever,” said Councilor Jody Joseph.

“I think in the short term what we ought to be looking at is the table of organization in our largest departments. And as uncorrect as this may be politically, primarily my targets are the Fire Department and the Police Department,” said Councilor Ted DeSalvatore.

“Leominster has one captain in their Police Department. Recently, our chief looked for room for a fourth. If you have a functioning Police Department with one captain, and the cost of one captain, what can’t we do that here? What’s the difference? What are the shortcomings in the City of Fitchburg that we can’t accomplish it like they do in the City of Leominster,” DeSalvatore said.

“Any additional revenue we receive through growth or the state should be viewed as a blessing. If the city practices proper financial management, I believe our current budget of $95 million (Fiscal ’07) should be sufficient. Any large increase should be viewed as fiscally irresponsible. Furthermore, a respectable amount of the any additional monies should be allocated to an emergency account,” Councilor Dean Tran said.

“I think was we need to do now is, if we have a $94 million budget, and that’s all there is, we should be looking at a $92 million budget. We shouldn’t spend everything we have,” Councilor Jesus “Jay” Cruz.

“I, for one, don’t want an override. That’s why there are people like us in office, to prevent that from happening,” Cruz said.

It's going to be an interesting, and bumpy ride the rest of the way through this budget process. Unsaid in great, snappy quotes is a desire to make sure the budget is done right this year, and there is frustration from councilors toward the mayor. Joseph said he wants to start budget talks in early May, creating two months for negotiation and talks to get the budget done. Let the games begin.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Cronin: Criminal Complaint Denied

In a statement released late this afternoon, Police Chief Edward Cronin said the criminal complaint filed against him was denied by Leominster District Court. The only place you can read about it, including Cronin's entire statement (at least as of this writing), is here.

Cronin points out in his statement that not only did he not do anything wrong, but that some councilors who were expected to testify on the complaintants behalf, Ted DeSalvatore and Dean Tran, didn't. Cronin also says a lot of written about the situation, including in the comments section here (he doesn't pick out SF by name, but what else could he be talking about after the early-week mayhem here), was wrong.

Anyway, go read the statement, and enjoy. While I have your attention....

Coming up in this week's Fitchburg Pride, available tomorrow morning:

-- Despite facing possible layoffs, two city councilors say they want to hold the line on property tax increases next year.

-- A new business in an old building comes up with a creative way to use the city's vast mill space.

-- Two men take to the streets each week to help the homeless, provide both assistance and hope.

-- More local news, sports, and Mayor Dan Mylott's monthly column.


Kumbaya, My Council, Kumbaya

The latest fracture in the City Council pops up today, as Council President Jody Joseph says he might file an ethics complaint against fellow Councilor Ted DeSalvatore over DeSalvatore's involvement with the Bourbon Street restaurant and lounge (you can get all the details in the daily online around 11).

It's the second blowup of the week, the first being the DeSalvatore-Tran contretemps over Chief Edward Cronin and CORI reports (you can scroll through endless comments here under previous posts if you need to get up to speed).

Add in the recently fileting of DeSalvatore at public meetings and the vote for a new councilor (although there has been no public unrest over that one, certainly there was a two-side difference of opinion internally on that one), and it seems like the council isn't exactly holding hands and singing songs before meetings.

There's politics, personalities, and pressure involved here. It's an election year, and some councilors are seeking higher office. Others are trying to make sure they get re-elected. It seems apparent that some councilors don't like others. And there's pressure in that the city is looking to the council to do the right thing, move the city forward, and do it on the cheap.

It can't be the best situation for the city, but it's not too surprising. To get 11 elected officials on board and happy with each other all the time would be downright amazing, if not impossible. A squabbling council is usually not the most effective council, but maybe this one will prove otherwise. If nothing else, they are making it interesting to watch.