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Friday, October 30, 2009

Lynn Mayoral Debate - Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce

The morning started out with a nice brekafast from the Porthole Restaurant and a greeting from The Mayor's Wife. "COREY JACKSON, how are you?" Wow, she knows my name. Either they're scared, or I should be :-) lol

So I'm not gonna lie, when residents aren't invovled, the debates are boring. I think that's a sign of what a dynamic community we are and the fact that commercial business hasn't been a priority so there didn't seem to be a lot of passion in the room. The debate was sort of 50/50 for me. Of course, you know my bias, but neither candidate really pushed any of my buttons. They answered questions on jobs, parking, safety, permitting, licensing, communication, taxes, library funds, and our image problem. Personally I don't think "Lynn, Lynn, the city of sin" needs to be a bad thing. Look at the marketing for Vegas. I think they draw in a few consumers.

Both candidates seem to be out of touch on the ISD. Everytime I hear about that organization, I don't hear good things. Poor Tatiana being harrassed about her awning. Taco's Lupita having to paint over a beautiful sign with black paint. I think something is wrong every time I drive by there now. The poor guy with the awesome signs in that building on the corner of Washington and Union getting hassled because he's adding some creativity and color to the area.

So, from this perspective, Judy still gets my vote. She seems to be more open to actually managing the ISD department. Make sure that department is doing it's job and listening to the business community of Lynn. Mayor Clancy simply stated that that's what the ISD should do on a day to day basis. It should not be the job of any elected official. ummm.... ok. Chip made some good points around getting more of the ISD documents and best practices online and into how-to guides. Judy was on the committee to form the ISD and has been to Quincy, Boston and other local communities in order to establish an organization that will work for the city of Lynn.

On jobs, both pointed to the waterfront as a catalyst. THe Mayor pointed out the great potential for immediate construction jobs as we move the power lines and begin work on whatever will be built there. Judy's response to this was a bit more visionary in my opinion. Judy would like to see something on the order of the Pavillion in Boston to bring in concert acts, comedians, etc. This is a good opportunity for us now that the North Shore Music Theatre has closed.

My two cents on this is I can see two things working very well for the city of Lynn. Either a 200-1000 professional theatre with more ability for smaller acts than the 2200 seat Lynn Auditorium OR a 5-10K venue which could bring in the likes of smaller pop acts that are on the cusp of breaking into venue type shows. The types of places Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber were playing last year before breaking into the ranks of a Garden show. This venue could also be a home for the types of Cirque de Soliel and other performances that they retro-fit into Suffolk Downs currently. Let's bring that money to Lynn. I think this type of venue is what Judy would like to see thought about. Judy's idea of shuttle buses from Wonderland and the MBTA Garage out to a waterfront destination on event nights is a great one.

This is what I'm talking about when I complain about the lack of vision in the current administration. We never hear ideas like this. I hear them from Rep. Steve Walsh, but the only thing I've heard from the Mayor is when the Lynn Item calls him and quotes him in the articles about budget cuts. Don't even get me started on last year's "We're in neutral" speech at the Downtown Lynn Neighborhood Association meeting. This morning he did nothing to make me think we won't just be business as usual for the next four years if he is elected.

Parking seems like a non-issue for me when it comes to the Chamber, but they brought it up, so it must be an issue. The Mayor brought up the under-utilization for our current parking resources. The MBTA garage is never full, the buffum lot is never full. He claims there's some technology needed to use these better. I parked in the Buffum lot for one year when I first moved Downtown. It's out of the way, dark and abandoned, and I could hear my car crying as I walked away from it each night. It's great for the folks in Machine Lofts, but it's scary for the rest of us and doesn't seem a safe place to leave a car. The MBTA garage is good for people using the train and horribly located for everyone else trying to do business downtown. As residents downtown, we have ZERO options to park other then those two places. To park in Buffum we need an overpriced monthly pass. (Can't pay per use, which would be good). To park in the MBTA Garage we're not giving Lynn any revenue and we have a dangerous walk home down Union street to Central Square. I don't care what the mayor says on crime, in the last few years, I'm a lot more nervous about my wife walking home from that garage than I used to be.
I don't understand why the Mayor and the City Council ignored the residents all together when we requested some sections of the side streets to be resident permit parking. Willow, pieces of Munroe, pieces of Union down across from the garage could be easily converted to resident sticker parking.

Judy pointed to the arrangement between The Blue Ox and Eastern Bank as a prime example of how we can work together to solve some of the issues in the immediate downtown area. She also pointed out some ideas around reserved parking in MBTA garage or in the Shaw's lot for other Market street merchants.

On Safety, Judy again stated she would like to see the community bike police back on the streets, the CLTs. She mentioned that she had spoken to one of the former CLTs who used to work on Union street and he claims that crime went down 50% because of the presence. Chip said crime is down in Lynn. Maybe he forgot to read the Lynn Item this morning. 5 stabbed at Lynn Classical. The Mayor pointed to the roll-back of hours as pro-business in reducing crime. He mentioned that the "hooligans of a more graphic word" (not sure what that meant) have moved on to Saugus now. I don't think they travel to Rt 1 for nightlife now. It's too hard to get to. Over the past few years we've had some pretty grotesque violence right behind our condo in the highlands that has reached National News. Maybe the statistics are down, but we certainly have issues. We will always have crime, but we need some better ways of dealing with the problem.

More police presence will help, but I also think we need more programs to combat gang violence and get these gang members out of Lynn or better yet give them another option for their future. There was a lot of this type of activity a few years ago, but it seems to have died down. We need to re-engage on these efforts and bring in State and Federal assistance to help. If our Police force is going to continue to dwindle, we need to increase coverage in some other way.

Library funding - both candidates said they will use it for a library. Why was this a question? Honestly we need to think a bit more strategic in my mind. Maybe we should reopen the blacksmiths and cobbler shops too. We're going to need a lot more then $1M to build a state of the art library that will serve the needs of today's youth. Google Books online. We're done! This is a non-issue and years away from anything real.

In closing statements the Mayor pointed out that these debates are good for government. I wonder if he gets elected if community forums of this sort will continue. I know Judy has publicly stated she wants to open up the government to the residents in a real way. Get more committees on LynnCAM, etc. I'm not sure where the Mayor stands on this. I've lived here for 3 years. I've only seen him be public in the last few months. He again stated that he's a Democrat and she's a Republican. Doesn't matter, but apparently it does to him. He then replayed his refrain on property taxes. Old news, read the Item for more.

In Judy's closing, she talked about the fact that we need to do what we can to make Lynn a destination NOW, not wait for the Blue Line as Mayor Clancy suggested. She again referred to the Waterfront and working through grants and influence with state, federal, and private sector to get things done NOW.

The Mayor has touted earlier that he has brough gender equity to the city. Judy wanted to point out that there has been one female hired on the Fire Department in 2004 and none since.

The Mayor touted earlier that she was against the roll-back. She wanted to remind the Chamber that she opposed the roll-back because she felt the business and restaurant owners were not given a fair chance to voice their alternatives. They were not listened to.

Personally, I had some friends who were at City Hall the night of that vote. They even felt there was nothing they could do. The city had it's mind made up and it wasn't much of a discussion.

The debate ended congenially. The Mayor and Judy were both talking to one another and laughing . Very civil. I like to see that. Hopefully he'll still talk to her when she's elected Mayor in just a few short days.

I'm a Democrat.... and I'm Proudly Standing Behind Judy Flanagan Kennedy for Mayor of Lynn and a little scared of the Mayor's Wife ;-)

4 comments:

  1. Corey, thanks for the recap. I wish I could have been there, but I wouldn't miss Halloween with my students for anything - not even a debate. :)

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  2. My pleasure. I'm sure Halloween at school was a lot more interesting. You got the real debates on tape. This was basically a non-event.

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  3. Good Analysis. Thanks for going and reporting from your perspective. Not that I disagree with it, but I'm sure the other side has a different story to tell.

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  4. I'm sure you're right. The Item actually did a good job of summarizing this one fairly.

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