Friday, June 29, 2007

Donnelly on the Budget

Late yesterday afternoon, mayoral candidate/City Councilor Thomas Donnelly fired off a press release outlining some of his plans to manage the city's finances as mayor. Some of it, like the CFO, we've heard before. Other parts of it -- like the budget advisory group -- we haven't. It's below in its entirety. The campaign also doled out a new photo of the candidate, which is what you are looking at here. Enjoy.

Donnelly Addresses Future Fiscal Issues

(Fitchburg) Thomas Donnelly
candidate for Mayor of Fitchburg today offered his
ideas to address future
city fiscal problems.

“Fitchburg needs a mayor who is proactive not
reactive, proper planning and review
will allow us to avoid future fiscal
problems. I believe this is a first step to moving Fitchburg forward. The hard
working men and women of Fitchburg deserve a city government that has its own
house in order so we can provide the vital and important city services they
deserve” said Donnelly.

Donnelly proposals include:
Upon election as
Mayor, the creation of a Budget Advisory Group that would
be comprised of
financial experts from the community such as Bankers, CPA’S and
business leaders as well as key city officials including the Auditor, Assessor
and Treasurer. The advisory group would also have a representative of the
City Council
to improve communication between the Council and the Mayor.
This group would meet
regularly and review and advise the Mayor on the
city’s financial position.

Create a five year financial plan for the
city that will include realistic revenue
projections, cost increases,
building and personnel needs and specifically take into account the changes in
Fitchburg’s demographics, population, housing stock and
health care costs
and other factors that might affect the financial future of the city.

Create the position of Chief Financial Officer. This title would be
given to an existing
city official and not create a new position. This
position would give city government
more central review and supervision over
city finances.

Submit a balanced budget to the city council every year,
based on realistic revenue
projections. The budget process would include
participation by my advisory group,
the chief financial officer and city
department heads.

Begin a immediate updated review of all city financial
investments and develop ways to invest the taxpayers money at the highest rate
of return in particular our retirement funds.

Donnelly stated that
“Fitchburg cannot continue the failed straight line style
of budget
management that exists now. Through the combination of proposals,
advisory group, a chief financial officer, a five year budget plan and a more
open budget process, I believe we can and will solve our cities fiscal problems
and begin the effort of moving Fitchburg forward.”

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Last-Minute Library Spinning

The City Council, if you haven't heard, decide what to do with library funding tonight, and at least two city councilors are discussing the issue somewhat publicly in the last few hours.

I'm guessing most folks are already reading the Fitchburg Hometown e-mail string (if you're not the list, you might want to be. It's a worthy inbox filler), but if you haven't, here goes:

Councilor Ted DeSalvatore chimed in this morning (9:19 a.m. according to Outlook) with the following:
To all concerned,
The library budget/funding information is not

City Council has no intension of hurting the library in
any way. Our job is to balance the City Budget. We have taken the initiative to
reduce all pay raises to the 2007 mark throughout the city in hopes to recoup a
$760,000 deficit. Doing that, (according to the director of the Fitchburg Public
Library), will reduce the overall monies to a level that would cause the loss of
certification, so our recommendation to the mayor would be to place the
difference into the heating oil account or some other place within that
department. This is in the name of fairness. We will not allow it to return to
pay raises, and I believe we will protest any additional areas, that do not
serve the City’s immediate needs but in the end, the final decision will be in
the Mayor’s lap.

Council can only reduce, eliminate, recommend and
reject, we cannot add anything to the budget. Therefore, with that said, once
council finishes cutting, the rest of the math is up to the Mayor. I would
suggest, in light of all the efforts to encourage City Council to keep the
funding, the same effort be extended to the mayor in seeing to it that the
necessary monies are reallocated to the heating oil or like line items, keeping
the funding level where it needs to be, and retaining the certification we all

I hope that I have stated this clearly enough, however if
you should have any further questions, please feel free to contact me

I should add, this is my personal perspective, and
believe most councilors feel the same way, however, any councilors that feel
they have a different take on this, should be encouraged to respond with their
thoughts as well.

Thank you,

Ted E. DeSalvatore
Tel (978) 343-4174
vincit qui se vincit

This afternoon (4:42 according to Outlook), Dean Tran chimed in with the following:

Ward 4 Councilor DeSalvatore's views are solely his own. I would ask
and all concern residents to contact each individual city councilors
discuss the matter. Furthermore, the City Council President, Jody
is the only authorized individual to speak on behalf of the City
Council as
a whole.

Dean A.
City Councilor

So, there you go. Not sure what will happen, exactly, tonight, but the council seems to be taking this pretty seriously.

By the way, not sure if there are any Latin scholars in the room, but according to a quick google search, "vincit qui se vincit," which DeSalvatore uses to sign his e-mails, translates to "He conquers who conquers himself." So there you go.

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At Least We Have the Red Raiders

If you missed the story in the Globe on Saturday, after a $3 million override failed in Stoneham, officials eliminated the entire high school athletic department, which costs roughly $750,000 a year.

What does this have to do with Fitchburg? Well, not much. But...

The Stoneham situation is another reminder that things are tough all over around the state. Communities are looking at overrides to help fill in the gaps, and when it doesn't happen they are resorting to some fairly Draconian cuts. Stoneham sports = Fitchburg Library?

I'm not a big fan of the "we're cutting all sports" move. It stinks of politics and municipal extortion. The message is, give us money or kid won't run track this year. Instead, I think Fitchburg is doing the proper and appropriate thing by trying to maintain at least parts of everything. That might change tonight with the library. At least one councilor thinks the council might vote to close the library tonight. That councilor doesn't agree with that idea, but thinks it might happen. 'Nough said on that.

Finally, as usual, you hear folks around the city mention receivership. Some think it's a good idea, some think it's merely destiny based on the city's financial condition. While that condition isn't very good, it's not receivership level. When the city ends the year millions of dollars in debt, or is making cuts triple or quadruple what is making now, then we'll talk about it. But there's a big difference between the current situations in Fitchburg and Stoneham and receivership. Just getting that out there.

Finally, a couple of sports matters while I have your attention....

The Celtics seem to be getting closer to wanting to draft Yi Jianlian on Thursday night. Combine the mock drafts, rumor mill and this Globe feature, and you have wonder if this is their guy.

In short, ugh. First, they should be trading this pick for a veteran. Not sure the AK-47 rumor floated by Peter May yesterday does the trick, but it's close. I just can't get excited about Kirilenko. Anyone?

If they don't trade the pick, Paul Pierce is likely to go nuts. Use the pick on Jianlian -- who no one knows and is considered a "prospect" -- and you might as well put Pierce in solitary, so as not to infect the rest of the inmates.

But with Garnett not wanting to come here, and the Celtics, ahem, braintrust deathly afraid to trade young talent lest they become very good somewhere else (the ghosts of Chauncey Billups and Joe Johnson live), you can count on the Cs hanging on to the pick Thursday night. Grrrrrrr.

We talked a few months ago about the Sox's hot start, and holding off the Yankees. Without going into the archives, I remember Rupert K saying the Sox would be caught. We went to the numbers to figure out how tough it would be for the Yanks to make up the ground. After this brutal week for the Yankees, I figured it was time for an update:

The Red Sox are 48-26. We figured all along their good for about 95 wins. They need to go 47-41 the rest of the way to get to that mark. And yes, we're ruling out the rest of the division, which doesn't have the horses for a run. The Sox have a few problems -- they can't hit sometimes, the middle relief is due for a rough stretch one of these days, and they're starting pitching has gotten nicked up. But, if you believe Beckett has had his DL stretch, and that Schilling is halfway through his, how can you not think the Sox are going to win at least 95 games this year? Even if Schilling is out for a while, 95 seems a minimal goal.


The Yankees are 36-37. Yup, back under .500. Unbelieveable. The Yankees would have to go 59-30 the rest of the way to get to 95 wins. 59-30. Basically, they'd have to win every series the rest of the way. Can they do it? Well, yeah, I guess. They certainly had a nice two-week stretch there a few weeks ago. But that's an awfully, awfully, tough task. And that's assuming the Sox only go 47-41 the rest of the way.

To sum this all up: I made plans to be away the weekend of Sept. 15-17, forgetting I have tickets for the Sox-Yanks game on the 15th. At this point, I'm confident I can be away and not miss anything. I don't think things will change over the next two-and-a-half months.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Bones stolen to make ashtrays, police say

Updated: 11:22 p.m. ET June 21, 2007

FITCHBURG, Mass. - Police say a gravedigger stole body parts including a skull and a thigh bone from a broken casket at a church cemetery and took them home to make an ashtray.

“While he was digging a grave, a casket was broken open, so
(investigators) believe he took the body parts to make an ashtray and a pipe,” Police Lt. Kevin O’Brien told the Sentinel & Enterprise of Fitchburg.

Police discovered the theft when they went to his apartment
Wednesday after his wife complained that her husband, Keith
Chartrand, killed her dog. She said she found the body parts among his belongings.

Anybody know this guy?


Thursday, June 21, 2007

In this Week's Fitchburg Pride

Here's what to expect in this week's Fitchburg Pride, on newsstands tomorrow:

-- A look at the Ward 4 council race, which has attracted a ton of candidates while the at-large race is garnering minimal attention.

-- Preview of the Longsjo, including photos of Lance Armstrong. How can you not run photos of Armstrong when you can?

-- A group of seniors were veeeerrrrry critical of the mayor at a meeting hosted by Dave Clark earlier this week. Is it a sign that the mayor's core support is crumbling? And what does that mean for this fall? I bloviate about it.

-- Despite a lack of city funding, Civic Days is coming, and organizers say it's going to be great.

That, and more, in this week's Fitchburg Pride.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The First Sign of a Plan

This is a straight steal from Progressive Fitchburg, which looked for websites on the mayoral candidates. If you want the rundown, check the Unicow (yeah, that's what the guy calls himself) out. Good read.

Anyway, for the last month or so folks have been wondering when Lisa Wong was going to start laying out a plan. There's at least a framework on her website here.

A few things we like:

- The creation of a 311 system, which allows residents to call those numbers for info and complaints.

- Not sure what the "Downtown 1000" plan entails -- beyond getting 1,000 people living within five mintues of downtown -- but I'm intrigued. I also like the fact that a key plan for a candidate has a fairly snappy name. It's the sign of thinking, creative campaign.

- A parking plan for downtown. I hope that means chunks of free parking on Main Street. That's important.

Anyway, those are three things. There are a bunch of other ideas, some general, some fairly specific. But if you're looking for an idea of where a candidate is thinking, you have three choices: Call 'em, wait for them to knock on your door, or check out websites and literature. At this point, the Wong website is the best we've seen so far both electronic and ole-fashioned printed.

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Mylott Defends Employee Raises

Mayor Dan Mylott was critical of the City Council's consideration of cutting raises that have been agreed upon with city unions. Not terribly surprising, but you can read more at the Fitchburg Pride website.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Police Union Calls for Raises

The president of the Fitchburg Police Union, Ron L’Ecuyer, sent a letter to city councilors today calling on the council to not eliminated union raises from the budget. L'Ecuyer says the union has made financial concessions in its last two contracts, and it's not right for the council to consider rolling back the raises. The council has said it will reconsider all negotiated raises if a final contract has not been signed as it tries to reduce the budget. For more, including the entirely of L'Ecuyer's letter, visit the Fitchburg Pride website.

Also, coming on the website in the next hour or so: A story on lowering dropout rates at Fitchburg High. A Department of Education report released today shows the rate has dropped by almost one-third at FHS in the last two years. Find out why in the story coming later today.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

A Matter of Investment

Plenty of people have written and talked about -- and will write and talk about -- how important it is to preserve funding for the library to maintain state certification and kick an important community asset to the curb.

If you've missed it, the City Council -- saying it's just like any other department -- is considering cuts to the library budget that would cause the library to lose state certification. That would mean a loss of about $73,000 in state aid, and that the library would essentially become a self-contained unit. Your Fitchburg library card would be no good at other area libraries, for example.

All of those reasons are good ones to protect the library's budget from the $755 in cuts that would lose certification. However, there's a financial argument that makes the most sense.

All departments, despite some councilors' views, are not equal. Some have -- or at least should -- have more importance, and the city should do what it can to protect those departments. Schools should be the ultimate priority, with public safety next, as far as I'm concerned. Add in the intricacies of state law -- like minimum education funding and that kind of thing, and all departments clearly aren't the same.

Beyond the emotional embarassment of having a subpar library through more cuts is the fact that making the cuts would result in a loss of $73,000 in state aid. The library budget has already been cut just short of $49,000 from 2007 to 2008. Why not hold the line and maintain that $73,000? It's a wise investment of city money at this point.

Let's say the council wanted to cut another $20,000 out of the library budget. Keeping that $20,000 would realize $73,000 -- or over a 3:1 return on the money. Cutting that $20,000 is really like cutting $93,000, if you want to see it a different way.

In short, it makes no financial sense to cut the library any more than $754. It's an investment that will not only maintain some dignity for the library, but also is a smart use of the city's money. And considering how scarce it is, using it wisely is of utmost importance.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Having It Both Ways

More on this during the week, but Mayor Dan Mylott's approach to the council's salary freeze for DPW workers doesn't make much sense.

Last week, after the council turned down the trash fee to create a need to slash another $760,000 out of the budget, Mylott said he wouldn't make any more cuts, and it would be up to the council to make the cuts.

So the council cut raises for DPW employees yesterday. Councilors say the contract wasn't finished, and there's no money. Mylott said he'd challenge the cuts and was critical of the move.

He can't have it both ways. If you're going to pass on making your own cuts, and demand the council do it, you can't really be too critical of the cuts, can you? For those who think Mylott is playing politics with the budget, and trying to shift blame on the council, here's Example Number 1.

Also, the council cut Robert Pontbriand, the mayor's assistant yesterday. Mylott was steamed that the council made the move after Mylott and Pontbriand left the meeting. If that's the case, that's a pretty uncool move by the council. Don't nail a guy behind his back. However, it seems like a place Mylott should have considered cutting himself. In his words, the city is facing an "unprecedented fiscal crisis." Shouldn't have shown some leadership and taken a big hit in his office?

More budget stuff this week. More on the horrific Library situation here before Wednesday's meeting. Let the games continue.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Mayoral Candidates Meet

A story on tonight's forum for the mayoral candidates is on the Fitchburg Pride website. From reports, it was fairly peaceful and offered basic info from the candidates. If you're interested, you'd better read the story. From reports, it's the only print media outlet at the event.

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About Last Night

First off, I didn't watch last night. I was finishing up The Sopranos (as you can see below). Considering its greatness, I regret nothing.

That said, the question of the day is, where is the $760,000 going to come from? The council cut $35,000 last night. That's less than 5 percent of what needs cutting. Only 95 percent to go. At some point, a fairly sizable cut is going to come down. Hopefully it's not in the School Department. I have a feeling it might be.

Here's the thing: The council doesn't have a choice. The mayor gave them a do-or-die choice on the trash fee, and they called his bluff. Now they have to pay the consequences of their actions.

The chickens are coming to roost. Those last few years when the council railed against the budget but then essentially passed it untouched are coming back to haunt them. By ducking some tough decisions in the past, there are even tougher ones now. Trimming salaries isn't going to get this done.

Interesting, the council seems to be warming up to the task. They don't need to be proud of these cuts, but they should take ownership and stand by them. They need to get the message out that they are taking back control of the city finances and making them right. They need to appear like they are making the right choices, and have the gumption to it no matter the cost.

In terms of this particular budget, the council is forced into this hand by Mylott's decision to try to work the trash fee into the situation. They weren't wrong to reject that fee. But they aren't blameless in the overall situation. How they handled past budget played a role in the current situation. They need to now move past that, take responsibility for the city's finances, and not get hit with the label of being the "mean" council that whacked everything in sight.

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The Sopranos

Three disclaimers:

1. If you're a fan of the show and didn't watch the last episode, you're not going to want to read much further.

2. Yes, I understand this has nothing to do with Fitchburg politics, but I can't help myself. If you want politics, we'll be back later.

3. Yes, it's four days later. That's what happens when you resign the HBO just days before the end. If you're tired of it, feel free to tap out. But how can you be.

So here we go:

Meadow walked through the door. And that was the best finish to a TV show since Sam Malone walked out of his bar.

Of course, I could be completely wrong, and we'll probably never really know. But it was my first reaction, and I'd like to think it was no coincidence that when the change to black came, the last lyrics heard of the Journey song was "Don't stop." What's next? "Believing." I guess I optimistically think that means believing he lives. Of course, it could mean believing whatever you want, but you know, that's the beauty of it.

And that, really, is what The Sopranos was about. Believing. Either that Tony Soprano would one day get his due, or that one day he found redemption and salvation. This show wasn't a mob opera and it wasn't a homelife drama. It was a tale of the soul of Tony Soprano, and whether or not it could be saved.

He was both the show's hero and really its archvillian (this might be a good time to note that James Gandolfini was brilliant, from beginning to the very end, as Soprano. Especially this last season. Wow). The way the show was constructed, viewers were another family member (or Family member). We knew what he did, knew how he thought, but still liked him. Whether it was Carmela turning her head to his infidelities, his kids ignoring his lifestyle, or his underlings killing then paying tribute with nothing but praise, every character close to Soprano like him.

As viewers, we were in the same boat. We saw Soprano endlessly cheat on his wife, steal and rob, kill, and mentally manipulate people. What he did to Bobby in the first episode of this season was brutal. His dead-eyed killing of Christopher (and that brief smirk while he's holding his nose) was chilling. But we also saw the other side -- the quiet times when he had peace with Carmella, or the dramatic times when he pulled A.J. out of the pool and called him "baby" while patting his head. In the end, Tony Soprano should have been one of the horrific characters in television history. Instead, we wanted him to make it OK.

That dynamic was the driving force of the show. Soprano seemed to seek redemption -- he went to therapy, he had a short period where he wasn't cheating on his wife, he was a softer person after being shot -- but he never found it -- his last-season peyote-and-screwing binge in Vegas, Christopher, putting a shoe up A.J.'s ass -- kept him from it.

That's why the ending worked so well. The show was designed to make the viewer decide how he or she felt about Soprano. There was never any mandate from David Chase. I think most people liked him -- I liked him -- in spite of myself.

But that question was what made the show so great. And the ending to the show stayed true to that. There are a million reasons to think Tony met his maker Sunday night -- black represents death, his point of view throughout the scene before that show people walking through the door and the black represented his death view. There was also the flashback to the lake scene with Bobby when Tony said he thought being shot to death would be just black. But there are a million reasons to think he didn't die. He was with his family, feeling pretty good -- as so many other season finales had showed on this show -- and to me, how can he die and we adhere to the call to "Don't stop believin'."

Finally, the greatness of the finale was in the craftsmanship. If this wasn't the finest season of The Sopranos, it was right up there. I watched all nine episodes in about a week, and it was a treat to watch them all in a compact timeframe (thanks OnDemand). This was one of TV's all time great shows going out on top. It wrapped up some (but not all) loose ends, reinforced the viewers gnawing feeling that while Phil Letardo was not one to mess with, he was a buffoon (how could you not laugh at that scene -- that's what the show did to you), and kept you thinking -- th ultimate hallmark to a show.

I like movies and TV shows that make you think and elegantly think its way through something. I love "Lost," because it's becoming pretty clear that the writers had a plan from the beginning -- Season One, lay the groundwork, Season Two, ask a million questions, Season Three, start answering them -- and are executing their plan brilliantly (with a sidetrack here and there). I loved this season of the The Sopranos because it masterfully executed mob drama, family strife, and one man's internal struggles magically.

It all came together in that last scene. While Tony's mood with Carmela and A.J. is light, everyone in that diner is sinister-looking, only because we make them. Meadow's tortured parking job turned a happens-a-million-times-a-day thing into high drama. The cutting back-and-forth from Tony to the door set us up to see who was coming in the door.

And then, it was over. And now we're still writing and talking about it. The Sopranos always gave us something to think about and talk about, and in its ending, stayed true to that greatness.

So, Meadow came through the door. And that series finale was one of the all-time greats.



Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Council: JUST SAY NO!

This is one citizen speaking, but I believe I speak for the majority.

Dear City Council Members,

The budget submitted to you by Mayor Mylott included a provision for adding trash removal fees in order to fund the proposed expenditures. As some of you have publicly remarked, any budget with such a contingency is NOT a balanced budget, as the Mayor is statutorily required to present to you.

The City Council is under no obligation to consider an unbalanced budget proposal. However, once you begin reviewing and whittling at the document as submitted, you own it.

Mayor Mylott knows this proposed budget is unrealistic. He knows that he has proposed cuts that strike an emotional chord with the community while simultaneously adding an average of 13%+ to the department managers' salaries, something that would cost us an additional almost $200,000 per year - forever - and almost FOUR MILLION DOLLARS over the next twenty years.

This MUST stop! Many of us believe that the first step that should be taken is for the Finance Committee and the City Council as a whole to simply reject this ridiculous unbalanced budget and send it back to the Mayor for revision, with return due within 5 days.

Please don't argue, don't play for the cameras, and please do not even consider the current proposed budget as submitted.

Just say NO!

It's the right thing to do.



Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Son Seeks Memorial for Father

There's a little story on the Fitchburg Pride website right now about Lawrence Bell's efforts to get a memorial dedicated to his father, Kenneth Bell, a Fitchburg police officer who died on duty in 1962. There will be more in the paper on Friday, but you can get the story today at the website.



Monday, June 11, 2007

Department Heads Outpace Mayor's Salary

All but one city department head will make more than the mayor next year, according to Mayor Dan Mylott's budget recommendations. A number of department leaders will make 50 percent more than the mayor's $60,000 salary. Also, many department heads will receive raises of 8 percent or more next year, which is far more than the 2 percent raises negotiated with many unions over the last year by Mylott.

To read more, and and to see a list of department heads' salaries and increases, visit the Fitchburg Pride website.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Budget Online

As threatened earlier, the city budget is now available online. You can check it out here.
Would love to hear what people think, and what catches their eye.



A Budget Head's Up

There's a bunch of little interesting things that dot the city's budget. We're not going to divulge them just yet, because I'm trying to figure out still what it all means, how it all goes together, and the best way to pass the info along.

However, in talking to Anna Farrell yesterday, there's a good chance that you'll be able to discover it all yourself sooner rather than later. Farrell said the city is working on making the entire budget available online for resident to take a peek at. She said it would be a matter of days, and would likely be linked from the front page of the city's website.

It's not there yet, but when it is, we'll let you know.

If you remember last year's budget process, it was a frustrating effort to get a copy of the city budget. SF got bounced around City Hall from department to department to get a copy, and some departments questioned whether or not the budget was a public document (of course, it is). Anyway, putting the budget up online would be a good thing, most certainly. Remember, the Fitchburg Pride website has the basic numbers up if you want to take a quick pass.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

In this week's Fitchburg Pride

Tomorrow, issue No. 20 (and you never thought it would last) of the Fitchburg Pride hits the streets. Here's what's in it:

-- A look at the budget, including cuts to community and quality-of-life matters like Civic Days, Memorial Day and holiday decorations. Nope, you hadn't read that anywhere else, yet.

-- A look at the Amazing Duck Race. Rubber Duckies for all.

-- One local teen leaves his job the night he saves someone by using the Heimlich maneuver.

That and much more in tomorrow's Fitchburg Pride. Enjoy.



Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Games Begin

Mayor Dan Mylott went after the City Council today for not approving a trash fee increase. He said he won't make any more cuts to the budget, saying from here on out the council will have to make them. It is, ahem, strongly worded. Check it out at -- of course -- the Fitchburg Pride website. As of right now, it's the only joint with the details.

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Some Budget Numbers

If you're interested, the Fitchburg Pride website is currently featuring the summary for the FY08 budget presented by Mayor Dan Mylott last night. The summary is located under the story posted last night, but you've already read that, right?

The summary includes information about the current fiscal year, the proposed spending for next year, and the actual amount of money budgeted by Mylott. It is broken down by department, and includes breakouts for total salaries and total expenses. It is not a line-item accounting of the budget. While I considered having someone scan in the 90-page document, it was clear a mutiny would be swift and certain if the demand was made. If you want to scan it in, you can borrow our copy if you want. But why would you?

Anyway, enjoy the summary for now. When we get a few minutes here and there (or tonight), we'll be plunging through the line items and throwing some nuggets, so stay tuned. Also, while we're on the topic (sort of), check back this afternoon for news from Mylott's press conference. You can only assume the budget will be a topic of conversation.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Mylott Details Budget Cuts

Mayor Dan Mylott unveiled his budget tonight -- which includes 9 lost police positions and 8 fire positions. To get all the details, visit the Fitchburg Pride website. Why wait until tomorrow when you can read all about it tonight?

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Let's Do Some Math

So, in the last few weeks, more and more often I'm talking mayoral politics with people in the city. People look at me like I have two, maybe three heads when I tell them I think Dan Mylott will be on the ballot in the general election.

I can hear SF Nation gnashing teeth and throwing keyboards. But think about it, and let's do some math.

You have to expect the preliminary election is going to draw 15 to 20 percent of registered voters. That creates a pool of 3,300 to 4,400 voters. Every candidate has a base. In this election, the two best bases belong to Mylott and Tom Donnelly. They've both run citywide and they've been at this the longest. And Mylott's is much deeper than Donnelly's.

Let's assume Mylott doesn't have the widest support of the five candidates. But he certainly makes up for it in depth. There is a certain number of votes Mylott can rely on, no matter what happens. After 20 years in office, it comes with the territory. For now, I'm guessing that between that base and whatever else he picks up -- people think he's making the turn, he's the one candidate someone met, he has the "I" near his name, they just don't like anyone else, the figure, hell, he deserves one more chance in November, whatever -- Mylott can wake up on Sept. 25 pretty sure he's getting 1,000 votes that day.

That gives Mylott anywhere from about 25 to 30 percent of the vote. Consider: Of the remaining 70 to 75 percent, two candidates would have to grab more than 25 percent. Give Dionne 5 percent (if more, all the better for Mylott). Figure one of the remaining three -- Donnelly, Ted DeSalvatore or Lisa Wong -- fizzle and limp home with 12-15 percent. That 70 to 75 percent is now 60 percent, probably less. For both of the other two to get through past Mylott, they'd have to almost exactly split the vote. If one hit 28 and the other 22, likely the 22 is out of the race.

Now, remember, there is a lot of call for change, but that change vote is being split in a number of different directions. One of the challengers doesn't have much hope (Dionne), another has people wondering if he's going to run really, really hard (Donnelly), and the other two haven't run citywide. While there is a lot of potential on the ballot, there are also a lot of questions and wondering. And if you doubt that, look at the Lisa Wong comments here over the last month.

Mylott might lose that base. Some candidates and their followers will quickly say Mylott's cooked, and even his supporters are jumping ship. But that's a feeling that hasn't really been confirmed by more non-partisan folks. Can Mylott lose his base? He most certainly could, and he just might. But the feeling here is that it hasn't happened yet, and until it does, there's a pretty good chance he gets through to November. Can he win there? That's a whole other story (if the change vote gets together behind the Donnelly/DeSalvatore/Wong, forget about it), but for now, the goal is getting through September, and to write Mylott off at this point would be a gross underestimation. Just look at the math.

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