Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Your Council President

I'm pleasantly confused.

About two weeks ago, I submitted some feedback on the city website regarding council agendas and minutes. I was annoyed that they were not available in a timely fashion online (minutes are not provided at all). My other main beef was regarding my poem, "Anyone?" from a previous post. The fact is that no one is ever there to speak in favor or in opposition. I contest a big part of it is due to no one knowing what is going to be discussed during that council session.  The council is for the most part conducted in a vacuum.  This request for an improvement to their web content, got me scheduled for a meeting with Councilor Phelan today after work.  Seemed extreme at first, so it felt a little like he has been reading this and was calling me in for a chat. :-) It turned out to not be like that at all, or was it exactly that? This is my confusion.

My hope is that we can provide more transparency about what will be talked about at future council sessions.  For example, we already know that April 23rd is a public hearing for the new VNA All Care building at the corner of Market and Broad. So....... is our goal to do the right thing for the entire surrounding community, or keep it as quiet as possible so it gets through easily.  I only know about this because I was paying extreme attention to the council video from Seth. The other way to find out is to read the small print legal notices in the Item on the day that they post it. While I look at these everyday now, I doubt most people do.

I'm hoping that they will include me on agendas and anything press worthy in the future so that I can let you all know when something might be of interest to us. I've already received a note from the Council secretary about being added to this distribution, so that's a nice step forward for us.

The meeting was completely diplomatic. I can't tell whether or not he has read this blog. He said he hasn't, so we'll go with that, but he kept bringing up things that I've blogged about. I told him no one trusts politicians and he made an important statement. "This used to be an honorable profession." He's right and I will be the first to admit that I need to try harder to honor these guys when they deserve it. These are fathers, husbands, mothers, wives and they all have full time jobs on top of the public service they are providing to us. I'm not giving them any excuses, but it's something for perspective.  

I found it really amusing that every time I thought I knew something about a decision made in council, I didn't really know the reason. This is mostly due to being misinformed by the Lynn Item. A lot of this is the city's fault. They deal with the press in a very ad hoc fashion. It makes complete sense why the Lynn Item gets everything wrong, since it seems they need to have an in to get a story. This completely explains the insanely biased Clancy machine the Item used to be.  If we really want open, transparent government, we need to change this approach to the press.  I suggested that the events that happen behind the scenes that lead to certain decisions be made public during council sessions for the record. He didn't seem all in to that idea, but ..... baby steps.

He brought up @lynncouncil on twitter. You all should follow this user. There was a tweet on March 12th. Before that, the last one was December, but if people are watching I expect they'll pay more attention to it.  When it goes silent, direct message the account. Someone will get an email somewhere.

All in all, Phelan seems like a real good guy. I told him nothing I say on here is to be taken personal. I joke around a lot which sometimes gets lost on these guys. He told me about the movie Doubt, when the priest asks the nun to go up on the hill and slice open a pillow and let all the feathers fly out. When she returned to the priest the next day, she asked what to do next. The priest said, you know those feathers? That was a rumor. Now go and collect all the feathers. Of course, this was impossible.

So, I hope you can see why I am pleasantly confused. I can't tell if what happened today was sincere or calculated. I'd be letting some of my readers down if I told you I thought it was sincere. I'd be letting others down if I told you I thought it was calculated, not to mention giving myself a little too much credit.

SO... I'm going to remain pleasantly confused and give him some time to prove one of those correct. I don't think I have any feathers to collect, but as the story goes, it's too late anyway.



  1. i'll follow him on twitter if he stops writing in all caps

  2. Yeah. They have a few things to learn about twitter. He says the council secretary tweets once a week. That's obviously not true looking at this stream. I love the first tweet:

    "setting up twitter for the Lynn City Council so that residents can be informed 6:17 AM Aug 12th, 2009 via web"

  3. cool. but the last tweet is as you say.. in Dec.

    i collected all the feathers, and made a mascot costume for downtown lynn.

  4. Keep Lynn moving forward, Mr. Jackson!

    - Jeff from Chicago

  5. the way you write, increases interest in topics. maybe people just like to hear things with a little humor

  6. Here is my take on it: he himsself may not have read your blog but obviously someone has gotten back to him about it. Am I being synical? Likely not where politicians are concerned. ;o)

  7. for (you Corey &) everyone...

    yes... Timmy Phelan is cool.
    I don't know him personally, but he used to play b-ball with neighborhood friends

  8. just kidding.

    I meant to paste Big Bird


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