Monday, June 9, 2014

The Sun: Putting the "Doo" in "Due Diligence."

Last week, on City Life, City Manager Kevin Murphy noted that the blogs have been quiet. That most of Lowell's online political media activity has been on Facebook. *blush* He noticed. (Link)

He must mean competent political media because the Blog of Record sure has been loud.

due diligence noun
1: the care that a reasonable person exercises to avoid harm to other persons or their property

Unfortunately, being witness to the consistent malfeasance puked out onto the pages of The Sun (I won't call it The "Lowell" Sun anymore, out of sheer embarrassment), we are compelled to apply 'doo' in the place of 'due.'

doo–doo noun
\ˈdü-(ˌ)dü\: solid waste discharged from the body

Let's start with what passes for 'reporting' these days -
Lowell Housing Authority opening awakens old feud
Lyle Moran (6/8/14)
Some councilors are hoping to see Murphy appoint McMahon, who had served on the LHA for five years, and has acknowledged applying. He was chairman for a time.

But Murphy has sent out word he will not appoint McMahon. A primary reason is that he wants unanimous support for his pick, and that Milinazzo would definitely not vote for McMahon.

Oh, my! Maybe that's why Milinazzo flipped his vote to Murphy? Just to hold a big chit to make this block? Oh, sorry. You aren't the gullible Sun readers are you? Cynical speculation pulled from a hairy tookus doesn't cut it for Lowell's blog lurkers.

Moran's inane grapples for skew drag on with cherry picked remembrances, selectively creating a crooked crumb trail to the modern era. I was particularly dazzled by this tidbit -

McMahon says he does not think Milinazzo should vote on any LHA appointments because it is a conflict, pointing to Milinazzo 's family ties to LHA Assistant Executive Director Maryann Maciejewski.

Milinazzo said Maciejewski is his wife's first cousin and a friend, and there is no reason for him not to vote on LHA appointments. He recommended McMahon read the state ethics laws.

Milinazzo's recommendation is the most astute thing printed in the whole syllabic conglomeration.

Shall we visit another reading of the tea leaves? Let's gaze back to the end of the Cox era.

Paton was least disagreeable candidate for post on the Lowell Housing Authority
Chris Scott (12/20/06)
With some lobbying on Paton 's behalf, Milinazzo was convinced to back Paton 's candidacy.

Paton , a Democrat and a Billerica school teacher, came to the Housing Authority about seven years ago, courtesy of an appointment from a Republican governor.

About two years ago, he was replaced by James Hall Jr., a Republican.

But before being ousted, he was part of the movement that ousted Milinazzo as LHA executive director a few years back after a successful decade at the helm.

Milinazzo made mention of that last night, saying Paton "was part of a group that ended my career at the LHA -- and I did love that job."

But Milinazzo said that during most of Paton 's tenure, he showed a passion for LHA residents, and the job, that stood out.

"For those reasons, I will put my personal differences with Mark aside and vote to support his appointment," Milinazzo said.

... Paton displaced Robert McMahon, who many years ago was an LHA client himself, living at the former Julian D. Steele complex on Gorham Street. It's a fact that McMahon, a unionized "liquor salesman," always thought made him uniquely qualified to serve on the board.

But that wasn't enough, and neither were supportive words that came his way from two city councilors, Rita Mercier and Edward "Bud" Caulfield. His biggest proponent on the council, Armand Mercier, couldn't participate in the discussion or vote because his son, Dennis, is employed by the LHA as a property manager.

Rita Mercier, who voted "present" (the final vote was 7-0), implied strongly that she finds it troubling that anyone could be removed from a post he enjoyed -- and by most accounts did a solid job at -- for political reasons.

But it's precisely what her guy, former City Manager John Cox, did to McMahon's predecessor, Thomas Haran, to appoint McMahon, with whom he is close.

In arguing for McMahon, Caulfield and Mercier probably forgot that McMahon played a ringleader's role in last summer's downtown rally for Cox about the time six city councilors hastened his resignation as city manager.

But those six city councilors -- Kevin Broderick, Eileen Donoghue, Rodney Elliott, Mayor Bill Martin, James Milinazzo and George Ramirez -- certainly didn't.
Hmmm. Seems Jim Milinazzo has a track record of not sweating the small shit. (Remember, also, he voted for Elliott to be mayor.) How is it that the Enterprise Editor didn't advise the cub reporter? Maybe, Campi interceded to get a better spin?

If I was as cynical, as the political pornographers on Dutton St, I'd connect McMahon to Lowell's latest celebrity developer, Dave Daly. Then, ultimately, drawing a bad bloodline to wobbly training wheels in the corner office of City Hall.

That failed Westview Road project will donate more to Lowell's modern political era, than a DiPaolo brown paper bag.

Let's take a gander at Campi's recent 'handiwork.'

New city auditor has plenty on her plate
A Sun Editorial (6/9/14)
The auditor's job is so much more than checking financial records. It involves getting down to the nitty-gritty of government work and making sure everything is done responsibly and correctly. It provides the independent checks-and-balances on the city's executive branch and all department heads, working collaboratively with them on behalf of the City Council.

Over the past several years of the Lynch administration, major scandals involving stolen money and materials surfaced in the Parking Department, Clerk's Office and Water Department. Has the council received any updates as to how these issues have been resolved and whether new safeguards are in place to prevent a reoccurrence? Who's checking?

Um, .. no. The Auditor is not the City Council's snoopy sniffer. Lowell's Auditor functions mostly as a comptroller, with a focus on payroll. There is a responsibility to ensure that the appointed Administration is square. But, what the Auditor is NOT, is the City Council's Head Inquisitor, peppering 'suspect' Dept Heads with 'oversight.' Why Campi wants to politicize the ledger is beyond me, but that is the end result of this brain fart.

As for scandals ... regardless of how much yellow journalism Rodney Elliott could stoke, the Parking Garage matter was acted upon swiftly. A good guy and mostly competent administrator paid dearly for flimsy checks and balances, along with a misguided act of kindness.

Of course, the City Clerk works for the Council. How this became Lynch's albatross is a riddle only Campi can answer? Though I'm sure the new CM's 'little brother' will sing the same erroneous tune.

What I find the most laughable, is how Campi lunges at the opportunity to bray upon Kevin Murphy's misfortune following Bernie Lynch. Yet, throughout Lynch's tenure, Campi could never come to grips with his gambling buddy's shit show of a legacy.

Speaking of Campi's brain farts, did you hear this tout from 4 days ago?
While Murphy and his financial consultant — former longtime Cambridge City Manager and Lowell resident Robert Healy — undoubtedly looked for ways to address the city’s immediate needs without raising taxes, they obviously found little wiggle room, given the situation inherited from City Manager Bernie Lynch.

That included a virtual no-tax hike honeymoon in the prior three fiscal years.

Yes, it’s what city councilors and residents wanted to hear, but as Lynch admitted on his way out, that came with a price, which included not keeping up with the city’s mandated funding of public schools. That deficit — now $3.8 million — is projected to further rise by the end of the cur­rent fiscal year, June 30.

Keeping an artificial lid on taxes may have pleased the rating agencies, but it only postponed the inevitable. Murphy plans to address this with an increase that raises revenue from $110,425,643 to $114,290,540.
"Keeping an artificial lid on taxes may have pleased the rating agencies, ..." What a disingenuous bastard Campi is!

The bond rating improved when Lynch was creeping the revenue up, annually. All the while, the fiscal lapdog was squealing about the overburdened taxpayer.

Weren't we talking about "audits?" No. Not the audits proffered by the dead tree buffoons. The audit mandated by Lowell's City Council.

City Council seeks early audit
Lyle Moran (1/15/14)
The City Council wants the independent auditor to start the annual audit of the city's books earlier this year due to the upcoming retirement of Auditor Sheryl Wright.

The vote to request an earlier start was a compromise the council reached while debating a motion, filed by Councilors Corey Belanger and Rita Mercier, calling for that type of audit to be completed before the hiring of a new or interim auditor.

Wright announced last week she plans to retire Feb. 28 after 35 years in municipal government.

Belanger and Mercier said their motion was intended to protect the current auditor by making clear what financial shape the city is in when she leaves, while also providing the new auditor with a sense of where things stand.

Mercier said she wanted someone other than the city's current outside auditor to do the work.

But Councilors James Milinazzo and Bill Martin raised concerns about spending more money on work that the city's current independent auditor, Powers & Sullivan, already does.

The council unanimously adopted the compromise.

What's the outcome of this? Did it fall through the cracks?

Speaking of falling through cracks, observers noted The Sun's front page placement of a faux outrage story, spotlighting the fiscal lapdog, mayor Elliot. While a shooting that expended, at least 20 rounds, hitting a man once in the shoulder, grabbed Page 3.

Should we wonder aloud what the priorities would have been in October 2013? The only question that would reside on a few lips would be, "How is Mayor Murphy and CM Lynch to blame for the lapse in public safety?"

Don't deny it! Save that empty headed fodder for the dwindling pool of Sun subscribers.

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