some things are inevitable
actually, full props to rita for bringing her full self to the forum. her number one point? she may not agree with anything you believe, but she's going to do it her way no matter what and that's just the way it is. isn't that what elected representation is all about? oops... there i go again.
the highlight of the evening, of course, was the final question where the long line of candidates was given an opportunity to play "what if you could vote" on the andy sheehan firing. (oh, i'm sorry, mr. kazanjian--he wasn't fired, the funding for his position was eliminated under totally unrelated circumstances). every single one of the challengers--every single one--raised their hand to say they would not have voted to eliminate the assistant to the city manager. not one sided with the dumbfounded and red-faced gang of six sitting at the dais next to them. (KMLEMC--Keep Making Lowell Elections More Competitive--Kazanjian, Mercier, Lenzi, Elliott, Mercier, Caulfield--remember the names so you can forget them on election day).
there was also opportunity for the audience to applaud mention of the extra-legally cancelled primary election. it still amazes me that six incumbents can cancel a legally-required election for their own private gain, and get away with it. patrick murphy made the best point of the night when he observed that those same six, crying poor-mouth over a $40k election already covered and paid for in the present city budget, are pretty ridiculous sitting mute on a $400k meals tax that is being used to make next year's budget look balanced, when its really so far out of whack that the elimination of the assistant to the city manager position doesn't even begin to cover the shortfall. (ok, i added the anecdote about the assistant to the city manager, but the 40 vs 400 disparity is patrick's point, and i think it's a great one). the bald political chicanery is astounding to me, too, patrick.
no mention, of course, of councillor kazanjian's business's corrupt business practices, (he's pulling the gonzalez--"i don't recall"), though he's quite adamant that as councillor he can take full credit for all the good things happening under his watch, while as businessman all the bad stuff was somebody else's fault.
overall, i was disappointed in the overall quality of the candidates. ben opara's conceit to have better common sense than you or i is more than a bit off-putting. even worse, several others made it sound as if all the people living downtown are our real problem, since we need more business here. yet those rocket scientists never responded to the frequent points made by the jam/ldna respresentation that there is a disproportionate number of low-income residents here. i would have hoped an intelligent candidate (are there any?) might have understood why the businesses that are here don't yet have the economic base upon which to thrive, and we need to have more people moving in, not less, but, yeah, let's stop letting all these residents fill up the parking garages, so the businesses can all move in and open their doors and wait for all the residents to come in and buy things... and seriously, but wtf, the president of jambra believes the same thing, and i have no idea what her problem is with letting people who live in a place actually park their cars there. my other disappointment was how empty the platitudes about extending recycling services to downtown residents were. "wouldn't it be nice to provide space is the parking garages" was the best they could do, and nobody saw fit to criticize gunther wellenstein's indefensible arguments against it. *sigh*
all agreed that we need more parking, so at least that was settled.
ryan berard and paul belley, along with patrick murphy, were the candidates that i think had the most constructive things to say. others espoused support for expanding our commercial tax base, but, honestly, i thought those others lacked the insight to understand how a mixed-use downtown, such as exists in lowell, needs to achieve a better balance and a larger residential population before commercial businesses can become viable here. (if they haven't been paying attention, us folks who live here can reassure them that nobody is driving in from the 'burbs to buy their lightbulbs at our CVS). ray weicker took the "law and order" position on most things, which, of course, appeals to urban residents, which was fine as far as that goes. i thought candidates wojas and koch handled themselves well, too, though it's hard in such a large field to make the proper kind of impression.
tell me again why it is that the incumbents can cancel the primary on a whim and get away with it???