Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Playoffs Start Now

I was going to write this after the Celtics dispatched the Hawks, because like everyone else, I figured this series would be five games tops, with the Hawks squeaking one out to save a little face.

But everything changed last night, very late in the game, when Al Horford got up in Paul Pierce's face as the Hawks were running away with Game 3. You don't let that happen without some retribution.

For Celtics fans like me who grew up in the 1980s, it's hard not to look back at those mid-80s teams these days. And those teams never, ever, would have put up with that. Horford should probably be careful tomorrow night, and Pierce might go off.

At least, that's what should happen. This is yet another test for this team. They had to prove from opening night that the three stars could play together and succeed. Check. They had to prove they had depth, as GM Danny Ainge cobbled together a bench. Check. They had to prove they could stand up to the better teams in the East. Check. They had to prove they could take on the teams in the West. Check. Rajon Rondo had to prove he could play big-boy ball. (Giant) check. Beyond that, the Hawks took it to the Celts last night. The Celts looked, well, old. They looked slow, frustrated, and confused. That can't happen again.

Now, they have to prove that that playoff dead-eyed killer mentality. They have to make sure that even the slightest insult (and Horford went above "slight") is dealt with with harsh repercussions. They have to send the message that for the next two months, you don't screw with the Boston Celtics.

I figured the playoffs would start in the next round, when the C's would have to wrestle with LeBron James. Al Horford decided last night that the playoffs start now.

By the way, I think I've decided I'll be more fired up about a Celtics title this year than I was for Sox wins in 2007 -- and 2004. That's how much of a Celtics geek I've been the last 25 years or so, and that's how much I want them to win now. So, the playoffs start tomorrow night. It's time to make the Hawks pay.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

A Busy, Busy Friday

A day off has turned very busy.

The Fitchburg Police Department announced this afternoon that it has made an arrest in last night's shooting death. Sadly, it's the first murder of the year. If there's a silver lining in this kind of thing, it's that the police caught the guy in less than 24 hours. Very well done. More on this later at

There was a groundbreaking today at the TD Banknorth building. Big doings. There will probably something on that later today at

I know what you're thinking, what IS at Right now, a little Pride exclusive on MOC and Meals on Wheels cutting back daily hot meals to three days a week (with frozen meals dropped off for off days) due to budget constraints. Meals on Wheels does 900 meals a day in the area, so that's a significant change.

Finally, don't forget, 4:30 on Main Street today. We'll be there eventually. Little boys are having naps (sadly, big boys aren't)

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A Ridiculously Good Idea

Ward 3 City Councilor Joel Kaddy is floating around an e-mail encouraging folks to come downtown this afternoon around 4:30. Park your car, walk around, and say hello. Sure, it's short notice, but why not. I've got some babysitting issues to contend with (I'm on duty), but every effort is going to be made to be there. Hopefully Kaddy's idea can get a few people downtown on a nice Friday afternoon. If you're not doing anything, stop no by.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

When Will This Late Game End?

Ugh. It just goes on and on. Even though her obit was written months ago (it was written here on Feb. 27), Hillary Clinton finds just enough reason to keep dragging out this Democratic presidential nomination process.

Let's talk sports for a minute here. Basketball, perhaps. Clinton came into this game as the favorite, Obama built up a narrow lead by halftime, and has managed to protect most of it in the second half. But he hasn't put Clinton away. Let's say, at this point, Clinton is down by six with about two minutes left. Can she win? Yes. But will she? Well, she'll need some help down the stretch. But weirder things have happened.

In some ways, Clinton makes a compelling argument. She has won the big states, and she has won some important states. Barack Obama makes a point when he says he'll win California. But what about Pennsylvania, which is in play this fall? He couldn't win there. More importantly for Democrats, how about Ohio, which is most certainly in play? Clinton won there, too.

The presidential election is all about the Electoral College, and winning the key states. Ohio is one of them. Don't the Democrats want their best player in that game? Clinton's win there and in PA gives her standing.

Additionally, what is about Obama that doesn't allow him to seal the deal? Certainly, the nature of politics tries to drag down a frontrunner -- especially a frontrunner that has a narrow lead -- but for a guy who had at least three chances to shut the door (New Hampshire, Ohio/Texas, last night), he has not been able to do it. Why can't he close?

On the flip side, Obama has the lead, and enough of a lead that it's going to take some unseemly backroom dealings by Team Clinton to win the nomination. It would have to kill on the superdelegate side, which would do nothing to reduce her insider label. And it would play into the "Hillary's a conniving schemer" wing of both parties, which would not be good times for the Democrats. Although this is what the Democrats get for building things this way.

She's playing by the rules, even though the rules stink, and how can you blame her? She's thisclose to pulling this off, and she'll never get this close again. While Republicans don't mind retreads in their presidential candidates (say hello, Richard Nixon, George Bush I, Bob Dole, and John McCain), the Democrats usually cast theirs aside (hi, Al Gore and John Kerry). It's now or never or Clinton, and it's not the most horrible thing to exend "now" a bit longer.

Obama's problem is that his lead is just too small. While all signs point to him winning, that mythical six-point lead is too short to allow him to play out the clock. Clinton's going to need to pull off a comeback for the ages, but ask Kansas if that's possible (that's a basketball reference, not a political one).

So, on it goes. Clinton is now playing to win, firing threes, and Obama is playing not to lose, hoping the damn clock will finally run out. In the meantime, he's burning through the amazing pile of dough he's accumulated ($41 million in March. Good Lord), and neither one is going to come out of this in great shape. There's another game after this one, and the opponent is rested and ready.



Monday, April 21, 2008

Fitchburg's Recession-Proof Real Estate

In researching something today, I realized next year's proposed property assessments are now available for viewing online. I strongly suggest you take a peeky at your's.

For a long time, we've heard about the real-estate market going in the dumper. But amazingly, the Save Fitchburg Mansion's property value is unchanged from last year. We'd maybe call the Assessor's this afternoon, but it's a holiday, so we're mystified. Did they just run through and re-up everyone at last year's assessment? Did they change some neighborhoods or streets in bulk based on some numbers? What, exactly, did they do?

So, take a moment and check your value for next year (this should get you there), and report back on what's happening to your value. Going up? Going down? Staying the same? I'll be interested to hear.

A reminder: Values aren't the sole determiners of your tax bill. The tax rate is adjusted with values to get to the city's bottom line. So I'm not sure the Family Lefferts is due a tax break due to decreasing value (that isn't there). Currenly, I'm just confused as to how values can hang steady right now. I guess in the long run, good news. But it raises questions.

Now, go, do your checking, and report back. Online research is fun.



Tuesday, April 15, 2008

'We Had Moved On'

So says police union chief Ron L'Ecuyer in today's Telegram on the heels of yesterday's hub-bub regarding the police no-show at Sunday's swearing-in for Chief Robert DeMoura.

It wasn't a good day for the police union yesterday (and it continues on the Sentinel's editorial page today). They were generally roasted here, and at the S&E forum under their story yesterday. I'd guess comments were running about 75-25 against the no-show, and it wasn't always pretty.

L'Ecuyer says it wasn't intentional. I'll leave that to the eye of the beholder. But I will say that yesterday, as I had a few times in the last few months, I asked for someone, anyone, involved in the union to say something about moving on. Finally, yesterday, after about three months of chaos, it finally happened. That is good news.

L'Ecuyer and DeMoura said all the right things yesterday, and apparently met for about 45 minutes. Hopefully this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. That said, both L'Ecuyer and DeMoura are talking raises, which seems like maybe a high-stakes game when the mayor is talking a $1 million cut in that department. If DeMoura can make it happen, you'd have to think he'd win that department over pretty fast.

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Monday, April 14, 2008


There's not much to it yet, but it might be worth keeping tabs on this site in the future. We're not endorsing, and there's not much to recommend, but it would seem to maybe, just maybe, have some potential down the road.


When Does It End?

I know, I know, I owe a post on the new chief business. I'll get to it eventually. It's a little more cumbersome than I first thought.

Anyway, while we're here, a few thoughts (OK, a lot of lengthy thoughts) on yesterday's disappointing disappearing act by the PD at Police Chief Robert DeMoura's swearing-in.

When does this end? When my 4-year-old (5 tomorrow, but you get the point) pouts "It's not fair," we generally laugh or ignore her. But this isn't funny, and it can't be ignored any more. And yes, I'm purposefully comparing the police union to a bunch of 4- and 5-year-olds.

If you didn't hear -- the rumor mill was blazing about this late last week, so it wasn't a big shocker -- police officers took a pass on yesterday's swearing-in. Just the latest in the union's pity party over DeMoura being chosen. At some point, one of two things are going to happen. The union is going to get over it and move on. Or it won't, and the people they work for are going to suffer for it, if they aren't already.

The union has a number of gripes with the city, some valid, some not. In most cases, the gripes focus on how horrible Lisa Wong is, which is mostly not valid. If you need a refresher, skim through the many, many comments on the Police Department from Receivership and others. That should get you up to date. Let's review:

The department needs new cruisers. This is a valid need. The cruiser money has been cut in the last two budgets, and you'd have to think it's not coming this time around. Sadly, the city is in financial straights. It has nothing to do with being anti-police or anti-police union. Can Wong and DeMoura find money for cars in this upcoming budget (with the $5 million hole in it)? I think the union and the officers understand the situation. This is becoming more and more of a priority, but I'm not sure it's going to be taken care of this year, sadly.

The officers desevere a raise. Heck, who doesn't? And yes, the union raise situation is a very messy one. And yes, it's a valid demand in a vacuum, but not in the current economic environment. But you know what, it's not really Wong or DeMoura's fault. And by "not really," I should say, "not their fault at all." It's one of the many messes they inherit. But the union also has to realize that they got hooked up a little bit last year when the dispatchers were let go. Also, the current financial situation creates this potential quandry: Raises, but layoffs. Or, more likely, raises, but even more layoffs. My perception has always been that unions in general prefer raises, even in the face of layoffs. I don't know if that's the case here. But considering the current financial situation, the cries for a raise probably won't go too far with the public. Especially a public that seems to be fighting its own economic hardships. But maybe that's just me. The police union got hosed on raises. But you can't remake the past. You can only deal with the present, and it's not a present that seems very bright-looking on this point. The union is right to complain on this one, but there may not be very much it can do on it, either.

DeMoura is the chief. Completely not valid. Take off "Fitchburg" in Paul Bozicas' resume and "Lowell" in DeMoura's, and replace them with "Smallville" and "Tinytown." Most people would agree that DeMoura was the better candidate. I hate to crank on Bozicas even a little bit, because he's a good guy and would be a good chief, but I'm still waiting for someone from to argue that Bozicas was the better candidate, not just that he's the local guy.

I'm also still waiting for someone to say "We're moving on." Hell, I'd take, "We're disappointed, but we're moving on." At this point, "We're bitterly disappointed and think Wong and DeMoura are Mrs. And Mr. Evil, but we're moving on," would be OK. Yesterday most certainly wasn't that day, apparently. Instead of taking the high road, the union continues to drag this out. I'd love to be a fly on the wall in the PD today, although it will probably be about as uncomfortable as Michael Scott's condo (if you saw last week's "The Office," you know exactly what I'm talking about). Despite the no-show, DeMoura is still showing up for work today.

Here's, now, the question. Up to yesterday, it was OK to write the union's stance off as sour grapes, and maybe the need for a little time to get over and move on. But, clearly, they are not moving on, and probably don't plan on moving on anytime soon.

Which is OK, I guess, but the professional and responsible move would have been to show up. The union, like Wong and DeMoura, work for the taxpayers of the city. We elected Wong, who in doing what she thought was right for the city, picked DeMoura. The union has acted throughout as if the chief works for it, not the city. Now, the union has made its professionalism and responsibility while on the job open to question. After this latest move, how can you automatically assume officers are going to work today with an open mind and a focus on working for citizens, when they clearly have self-created a distraction that they aren't getting over? This is a situation it created over the last few months.

DeMoura has a mandate to make the city safer, but does he have the tools and manpower dedicated to that mandate, or a union that only wants to make him miserable and set him up for failure? It's more than a political question, it's one that gets to the very heart of the safety of the 40,000 people that live in this city. It's sad and unfortunate that the union has forced it to be asked.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A Community Note

I was going to sit down and write for a post a letter to Robert DeMoura, talking about the city and what he should know as he settles into the job of police chief. As you may have heard, he doesn't live here, so he might not know the city too well.

Instead of just spouting off aimlessly like always, I figure I'll see if I can spout off with some local knowledge behind me. So, hit the comment button below, and add your two cents. It can be something good about the city, it can be something not so good. It can be something PD-specific, it can be something general. Hell, it can be where to get a good ice cream cone on hot days.

I'll tap out this little slice of local knowledge probably Friday. So you've got some time to mull things over and include your say. I don't guarantee your submission will make the final cut, and I don't guarantee that I won't get zero usable feedback and will just end up spouting off aimlessly like always. But if you want to play in our little game here, click the comment button and go to town. Let's see how this goes. And to make sure the final product is somewhat interesting, I won't be putting these comments up for viewing until after the post shows up on Friday. Gotta keep you interested to the end, right?

So, there you go. Join me, won't you?



Thursday, April 03, 2008


What to make of the 10-1 vote on incoming Police Chief Robert DeMoura? Was Ward 3 Councilor Joel Kaddy sticking to his guns, or is this a piece of evidence to a larger battle with the mayor?

Kaddy was a Tom Donnelly guy during last year's campaign. He said all the right things after Lisa Wong was elected and took office, but Tuesday's vote along with Kaddy's previous comments on the chief and some buzz regarding Kaddy trying to run around the mayor on some other things has to make you wonder.

Kaddy didn't want DeMoura. He wanted Bozicas. Fine. He wasn't the only one. But traditionally, one of two things happen in these situations: The one holdout councilor either toes the party line and votes in favor of the obvious candidate, or the councilor votes against, but immediately after asks to has his or her vote changed. In both cases, the councilor includes a little speech about getting along and being a team player and promoting unity and all that. It sends the message that bygones are bygones and everyone is ready to move forward.

But that didn't happen here. Why? Kaddy should have read the handwriting on the wall. He knew how this was going down. So why not take the traditional path? Why not vote for unity and welcoming the chief and all that, instead of reminding everyone one more time how there's a chunk of the city pissed off at this hire.

Kaddy, it should be noted, is a former police officer, and surely his vote was well received by his former colleagues. But Kaddy doesn't work for the police officers. He works for the people of Ward 3, and the entire city second. Maybe this vote would have been just mildly interesting if it wasn't for some rumors that Kaddy has pulled a move or two recently to try to cut off a potential Wong plan at the pass (and, no, I'm not offering details, yet).

Maybe this is all just bad math: Donnelly supporter + outspoken Bozicas fan + rumor mill + holding ground on a vote = Kaddy-Wong feud. Or maybe this is the first sign that not all 11 councilors are on the same page with mayor, and may not be totally willing to play ball. We'll probably get a better answer to that question during budget season, which is just weeks away.

One thing about Kaddy's vote is for sure: A unanimous vote could have put an end to the hometown/outsider battle that turned the chief's search ugly (although the resulting pick is solid). Instead, Kaddy's vote is a reminder not just that those divisions were there, they probably aren't going away.

Welcome to Fitchburg, Robert DeMoura. And welcome to Fitchburg politics, Lisa Wong.

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