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Thursday, July 14, 2011

First Councilor at Large Debate - My Notes

If you haven't been through an election season with this blog yet, I will warn you now, I will be sharing my opinions. You don't have to take my word for it because Lynnhappens.com will be putting all of the video online. As always I recommend watching the video over reading my BS. It's just my opinion. It happens to be spot on, but again that's just my opinion. Get it.

Right now I'm predicting victory for Dan Cahill, for example. He's the man and proved it on Wednesday night in words, but he also proves it in his actions. I sat there listening to him talk and for once, I wasn't thinking to myself, well then why haven't you done that already.  He has!

I'll give you my take on the others. Right now I'm very closely watching newcomers Net, Anderson and Walsh. I think Phelan and Crowley will be hard to beat.  Duffy seems to be the incumbent most vunerable at this point.

THIS IS WHAT I HEARD. WHAT DID YOU HEAR?

OPENING STATEMENTS
Dan Cahill - thanks for putting me here 4 years ago. I am even more excited now than I was then.

Paul Crowley - 51 yrs old , born and raised - grew up off of Broad St on Green - now lives in West Lynn - graduated Tech 1977 - Bachelors Northeastern - work as exec director of GLSS. decided to run for city council in 2005

Steve Duffy - Steve duffy, father of 5, 6 year old granddaughter and those are the reasons I run. In 2001 I moved over to the city council. (This statement seems odd since he wasn't on the city council when I moved here, but it's what he said.)

Miguel Funez - 1993 moved to Lynn from Brooklyn - proud of the city of Lynn. Working for the department of revenue services - part of the members of people who brought KIPP to Lynn - went to Cambridge College for phycology and juvenile justice, NSCC certificate in paralegal, Mass School of Law and now running for office because experience working with city of Lynn and youth of Lynn gives him strong opportunity to make a real difference.

Hong Net - born in cambodia. Seperated from family in the war. Foster parents raised him as their own. Has Masters in political science . Education to job creation experience. City of Lynn has challenges and many resources. Work with police to increase public safety. Work to engage parents including those who are new to the country to increase involvement in their children’s education. Move to increase civic engagement. 

Tim Phelan - Lived in Lynn entire life. Homeowner. Grew up on King’s Beach Rd. Voted at this location for years. Graduated from Lynn English.  been on school committee. Family bought a dilapidated building in downtown lynn and built that up. Have children in the school system. I have tried to maintain my independence. Not afraid to get involved in issues. Don’t stand on the sidelines. Sometimes people agree with me, sometimes they don’t. I don’t stand up and say what people want to hear, I say what people need to know.  (Maybe I should let him off the hook, but that wouldn't be me. He stood up and didn't use the mic the entire night. ME = ANNOYED. Pompous.)

Robert Clay Walsh - graduate of St. Mary’s lifelong resident. electwalsh.com and click on bio for more. Working for father's heating oil company he spent a lot of time going door to door and hearing concerns. He has heard the voice and done a lot of volunteering. He wants to now work with the city council and mayor and  improve Lynn.

Calvin Anderson - honor to be among a diverse panel. Offering myself as a choice to my neighbors not running against anyone. String of community successes that I’ve been very involved with. Neighbors have sought me out as a shadow councilor when reaching out to city has not worked. Creation of a master plan important.

Buzzy Barton - life long lynner - graduated Lynn English. 25 years in the Fire Department - Sat on many boards. Since 2004 been on retirement board. Love the city - been a fighter all my life. I don’t go with the flow. I’m ready to fight the fight at the next level.


QUESTIONS


Public schools are straining under the pressure of  limited resources and increasing bilingual needs How will you support our students?

CROWLEY - approximately 30 or more languages spoken in school system. Creates a drain on resources. Avg cost to educate a student is somewhere between 8-9K. Difficult to absorb and maintain. Form of prevention - we can use prevention at any level of government whether it’s the police or fire. Need to be focused on preventing students from having problems in the school system. Way to do that is to approach as a chance for us to seperate out the different languages spoken and make the education piece focus on their primary language.

DUFFY - back in 1991 elected to school committee. Spent 10 years there with same problem. More then 50% of city budget goes to schools. Used to be a lot of grant writing done, hired for this particular process. It comes down to after-school programming. Used to have local business that used to sponsor schools and a lot of that money went to fund education and funding of bilingual programs. Superintendent and School Committee control this. council doesn’t have as much control as I would like.

FUNEZ - revisit the program. what is working, what is not? See what we can change. In Brooklyn, we had ESL - now we don’t even have ESL in MA. We need to implement new ideas . Work together with the city - all the different departments and the Mayor. Let’s involve the kids. What ideas do they have? Work together. Involve everyone that is part of this.

NET - The school alone cannot educate our children. Strong partnership between citizens, parents, children, and the schools. Used to run a school so have experience here. Increase access to afterschool programs to educate the whole child. Encourage more parental involvement. Need to work together to find solutions. More ESL to parents at night.

PHELAN - I could give a philosphical answer to this but that would be wrong. We can cut funding to the school department. We can’t funnel more money. No ability as a council to give additional resources to school department. Council has the ability to -- here's an example -- Connery school - was rated level 4 school. Brought in a new staff. It is over 90% minority. Council partnered with Connery school. Last month we brought them all to city hall and honored a child and teacher from every grade. Gave them exposure to city hall, pride in their accomplishments.

WALSH - a lot of the money needed to do this would be from grants. Use our libraries to support ESL classes. Take care of the infrastructure of our schools right now.


ANDERSON - concur with Phelan and Net - this is school committee question. With limited resources we think outside the box. Only so many ways you can cut a piece of the pie. Remember the page one article about innovation schools. We have a model in Ford School already. Use existing schools and programs and involve the whole community. Perhaps you remember Hillary Clinton’s it takes a village. Well it does.

BARTON - Soon as I heard the question, I thought that would be a good question for school committee debate. After school programs for ESL - some of that funding comes from the city. We need to look into avenues to find more programs like that.

CAHILL - When choosing a candidate, look for someone who is well rounded. I have been on lynn school committee - been on the essex agie and on on north shore agricultural boards/committees - been through trends in public education. More requirements on teachers, more demands on students. Sounds as though we’re placing blame on minority students for straining resources. We have a DIVERSE CITY. We live here because we enjoy that. It is a challenge to learn English. I’m amazed at people who can speak multiple languages. It’s more a blessing than a burden. Cut money from the city to give over to the schools. That is one way to do it.



How do you see the current Focus on Downtown Lynn, including recent proposal to make part of the Downtown an official Arts and Culture district, as being important to Lynn’s future

BARTON - Downtown Lynn - anytime we do improvements downtown lynn, new residents and I think we need to improve the downtown area  - State Rep stephen walsh is involved in the arts down there. They do a good job and I just want to see the city move in the right direction

CAHILL - Can not abandon the Downtown. Fulfill commitment to the residents that moved in there and took a gamble to make downtown work. People who have invested in businesses to build that center. Need to bring people in to see that we have availability to have businesses, have mass transit. It’s SAFE - people think it’s the wild west. some parts are, but in order for us as a community to grow, we have to start shopping in Lynn. There really is for the first time since I've been alive a downtown presence. We need to make sure we are encouraging and supporting this.

CROWLEY - Downtown is a big part of my life .I spend a lot of time down there. First thing in the morning through most of the day. Involved at the senior center. Had an event at the senior center, where a robbery took place . Addressed by the management and caught the perpetrator and he's in jail end of story. Some people would argue Lynn is unsafe. Downtown is safe, comfortable, see 100-150 people there every single day. Thursday before July 4th weekend , we had a cookout in the parking lot of the senior center. Had a great time. That is contagious. It’s growing downtown. That coupled with RAW arts and LynnArts making it a destination.

DUFFY - Downtown was on the move, a lot of projects in the pipeline. People that I’ve met are just incredible. The arts center is going to be a major plus for the downtown area. Condos will still continue. we just have to weather this storm with the recession. DTL will be a very unique place .  All due to the people that are there and the tenacity and willpower of those people.

FUNEZ - we need to provide safety - we hired new police officers. antique lighting 2 years ago. It’s going to be a great city.

NET - great city so much to offer - need jobs need tourists. need visitors. It’s coming along . beautiful waterfront, beach. All these will be good image for Lynn. I walk there at night. It is very safe.

PHELAN - Council recently passed a resolution designating that area. People who have been in lynn for a while, downtown was the wild west. Council at the time cleaned it up, then developers came in and made owner occupied sold about half of target goal. brought in people that speak up. They have done things that are amazing. Major office building going up in the middle of a recession. Stay on top and continue the evolution.

WALSH - The new district qualifies us for funding. Arts District will get the community involved and interested in making a change. Remember growing up and going to Anthony’s for lunch. I realize DTL will not be my grandmas DTL but I do believe in the new DTL. We all start supporting it, it will succeed. Many other things we can be doing in DTL.

ANDERSON - Avid supporter of Downtown USA as the social and governmental center of any given city. In the last 5 years, Lynn has been turned around. They don’t have to have parking. They are commuter rail types. So glad we are embracing the arts and cultural district. It's already there. Private sector Arts After Hours, LynnArts, RAW Arts. WE already have a cultural center. Look at Portland, ME. Activity downtown. Art galleries, people sitting around. local businesses are thriving. Arts is a socio-economic incubator for our city.



There was then a question about keeping sidewalks in front of your homes clean and whether the councilors would be in favor of reinstituting a statute mandating this.

CLAY - more waste receptacles around the city. Lynn needs to provide it’s people with the tools to be more efficient to put the trash away.

ANDERSON - storefront owners need to feel responsible for their sidewalks- been proposing a Lynn quality campaign. We need to instill in the population that we WANT to beautify Lynn.

BARTON - yes I support that - hit em in the pocket, lot of landlords out there that own buildings and don’t live in them and tenants don’t do the right thing. Hit the landlord in the pocket and he’ll make sure

CAHILL - lot of annoying things happen - we don’t have a litter problem, we have an attitude problem . We need to educate our residents and neighbors that littering is unacceptable, jaywalking could be dangerous. Everyone in this room get involved in educating neighbors.  More receptacles. Do not think it’s about government come down with fines.

CROWLEY - about teaching out kids. bringing character building into the schools. Do's and dont’s of belonging in society. Passed an ordinance 2 years ago that all bank owned property pays a $350 registration fee. We have a fund of 250K to pay to maintain these properties. (really? Do we? I need some of that right now for a few buildings in Central Square.)


I missed a few of the other answers to this question, but they all had the same flair to them.


How do you see yourself as councilor taking action to attract new businesses to Lynn? What concrete analytics will you use to measure success.

FUNEZ - need to guarantee safety. For almost a year now, we've been using Lynn Auditorium, 300K a year. Not one incident has been reported. Upstanding upgrades at Lynn Woods. Lots of activities going on there now. Work with city, police, every office in the city of Lynn. Work together as one big family. If we don’t have safety, we are not going to attract new businesses.

NET - need businesses, need to help them to survive economic downturn. Create jobs. Promote business policy and procedure review and refinement. Want to be proactive and ask business owners to meet so that we don’t wait for phone call or council meeting. Talk to them, what are the challenges? Want to make sure business owners are connected with EDIC, Community Development. Need a lively and walkable downtown.

PHELAN - so may moving parts to work together to increase business. Need to have good schools. We can do Tax incremental financing. Incentives for businesses to come in with a gradual tax increase over time. Power lines have been moved. That’s private property down there. Increased assessed value of all those properties.

CLAY - more police presence - make city hall more business friendly - doesn’t mind paying taxes. What bothers him is police presence. Had a shooting two blocks from business. What happens to my business if customers don’t feel safe.  City Hall needs to be more business friendly. Need a more efficient permitting process, licensing process. Get rid of lengthy process, red tape.

ANDERSON - we have woods, waterfront - they should be destination - they confine us in a city that is not easy to get in and out of. Need good roads, let’s push blue line. Let’s get continuous loop to wonderland via buses. Arts downtown. Sq ft rate is the same as larger cities. Come up with a way to get artists and galleries in at below market rate. TIFS a good idea. Tax incentives. Rent incentives. Public safety is important.

BARTON - headed in right direction. Ferry progress from McGee and Cowdell. Elected officials went down to Hingham. we should follow something like that to attract in businesses. Waterfront is not used. It’s time we go out there and get some grant writers. We got to spend money to make money.

CAHILL - downward death spiral. We have a high business tax rate, high residential - high commercial rate means they are not coming in or not employing people, then we have more urban problems, and we have to raise tax rates. So we raise residential but not as high as we can, so we have to raise commercial even more. This keeps repeating itself!!!  Best way to get this done is to reduce cost of government - I’m talking about city hall. businesses will stop going to salem, they will stay in lynn.

CROWLEY - graffitti is a scourge that major cities deal with. Trying to expand our efforts to eradicate that. Improve the appearance of our community. Mayor appointed 10 new police officers to walk the streets.

DUFFY - When you come in to the City of Lynn - sum it up to the ISD - when people come in they are not told how they can go about starting a business =- they are told what they CANNOT do. It is too hard to get a permit. Communication breakdown. Certain cultures come in and can’t understand. You have to be able to communicate. No clear documenttion. Inspections - we need to give businesses a chance, without having to go for sprinklers, fire alarms, wheelchair accessible. (Really Duffy? We don't need sprinklers and wheelchair access? You may want to rethink that one)


Younjg people are struggling and getting in trouble. What would you do to support youth in the city of Lynn ?

WALSH - talked to Chief Coppinger about this. Gang issue a big concern. Bigger concern is drugs. Best way to address is education. Lynn and Antonio Guitierrez has changed the area. Hold basketball programs, give them something positive to do. Get funding to address these issues. More programs like this. Get more grants written and put some more of these things together.

ANDERSON - once again it takes a village. idle time is a big problem. Let’s fill up that time with positive things. There’s a fine line with a youth group and a youth gang. The only difference is their mission. Youth gangs are looking for something. They are all unloved. They want to have turf. Ownership. Something. Let’s support each other and come up with creative approaches.

BARTON - it isn’t rocket science. We have parks, basketball hoop just went up the other day. Problem at the park so they punish the good kids. Tennis courts are always locked up. School committee need to let these kids into the gym after school. If you don’t give these kids something to do they will find something to do .


CAHILL - not just young people suffering from street violence we are all suffering .  We are losing a generation. As a community we need to find ways to get these people to be better young people and to be better adults. Housing Authority puts at risk kids to work. The crime subsides. I don’t understand why there is no concept of fall jobs, winter jobs, and spring jobs. Helpful thing for the problem. More of us need to create groups that target young people. Need more role models. Some great roles models on this stage.

CROWLEY - keeping kids busy is the key to reducing the level of bad behavior and violence on our streets. Number of things you can do as a councilor. YMCA has a summer youth program for $20 a week, they have kids M-F for full day. Lot of kids can't even afford that. Support that program by giving money to the YMCA so they can put more kids in the program. CLT is a great program that will be rolled out as soon as the police recruits are fully trained. We will have them on the streets. SRO are back in the schools. Kudos to the Mayor for getting those folks back in place.

DUFFY - major issues for Lynn and all communities. finances aren’t there. We need to look into full time grant writers. programs are in place, kids are in place. The finances are not. We need full time corporations and companies that do grant writing to help us.

FUNEZ - I know what it’s like to be one of those kids. They feel ike they have no one to love them. No one to come home to. So i go and do what I have to to survive. We have to involve these kids. Most of them are angry at themselves. They were not taught anything else. Need to have a place for them to hang out. Holyoke, springfield, has these places -  youth night discotecs. At least there is one time per week to get together and be safe.

NET - as case manager in Lynn, have experience connecting young people. It is important to have youth policy to get them involved. I plan to work with city to help nonprofits to apply for grants for gov patricks safe and success youth initiatives. Policing and street outreach workers. Straight Ahead ministries and antonio guitierrez. Find funding for summer jobs and build youth engagement in the future. Have lynn city youth council. Empower young people to get them engaged and be part of the solutions.

PHELAN - After school programs are essential. Need to get the bike patrols re instituted. They get to know the kids, get to know their families. Kids become embarrassed to do something wrong because of relationships with those officers. I coach softball. Very diverse teams. 3 times a week and playing on weekend, they are not getting themselves in trouble. Coached boys soccer team. Never met parents. When I coach, it’s not about winning or losing it’s about instilling your values on them, they see you as a role model.

There are many grants for youth that are only available to municipal entities. Can you commit to getting a city grant process going during your term.

ANDERSON - Yes. I’m known as a squeaky wheel. It’s a good idea, let’s do it, so yes, we need grant writers.

BARTON - Yeah that’s one of my big things. Grant writers. We have to spend money to make money.

CAHILL - support grant writers and I have in this year's budget process for example.

CROWLEY - grant writing is becoming much more competitive. In fact, because of that, if you do a good job you can bring in a lot of money. We need to have a grant writing team that is very well versed at the way to develop a grant. You need to be competitive with other municipalities.

DUFFY - agree on grant writing idea. Only way to do grants - a lot of time by the time the community finds out about it , it’s gone. Unless you get a firm and pays them a commission of what they get. You need a company that can write 20 or 30 different styles of grants to be successful.

FUNEZ - in favor. we have a better chance of getting money if we ask for it

NET - worked for non-profit org for many years. Tough but some people are very good at writing grants.

PHELAN - in support of grant writer. money needs to come from administration - very technical skilled occupation, need to understand the field that you are applying .

WALSH - will commit to fostering this process.



CLOSING STATEMENT

PHELAN - Not afraid to stand on my record. I enjoy doing this. Have a lot to offer. Have passion for the job. Not afraid to speak my piece. You may agree or disagree with where I stand. I am more than willing to modify my thinking or change my thinking. I listen and I can change my thinking process. Anyone who says I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna do this doesn’t know how it works. It takes collaboration.

WALSH - Looking for a change and want someone that is out there in the streets with the people. Do a lot of volunteering with the Knights of Columbus. Attend Highlands, ELCA meetings. Lynn Woods races. Always out and talking to people. Cant just make things happen, but it’s important to have a vision and belief in the city. Work with landowners on the water front. I want hotel in Lynn. I want to make sure our new schools are green. and I'd like to see a Starbucks come to our city.

ANDERSON - Hit the ground running. Many years of service have allowed me to have a working relationship with city departments, mayor and council. 9 year attendance record second only to phelan. City is not just materials, it is the people. I have  record I am proud of. I do not have all the answers but have a keen process to get the right answer

BARTON - 69 days left to the primary. Plan on opening up HQ in August. if you’d like you can sit down and talk to me whenever you want. I've been in public safety close to 30 years of my life. Number 1 thing. Until the  streets and schools are safe, I think we have a lot of work to do.

CAHILL - excited more today than I was 4 years ago, look forward to 2 more years. This is how I contribute. One of your four votes. use all four votes. I don’t shut up and I don’t like to shut up. Im not afraid to bring it up. No one in my family works for the city. I don’t care what feathers I ruffle, I care what is right for the city.  You elect good people. good things happen (I disagree with CAHILL on using all four votes, but please give him ONE of them. He's worth TWO)

CROWLEY - I feel that I am very independent. I’d like to point out that when it comes to special interests, I have a special interest and it is the city of lynn. I love this city. I’m hard working, I’m accessible. I’m fair minded and reasonable. I’m a phone call away.

DUFFY - try to vote for those with whom I have things in common. (He then started Asking about sons/daughters, parents, grandparents, son or daughter in college, son or daughter trying to buy home, son or daugher in high schooland asked people to raise hands if they had those things. He then ran out of time before making a point.)

FUNEZ - honduras, grew up in brooklyn. I know what it’s like to come to a different country, learn the language, learn the rules and regulations. I will establish a safer community, work with the citizens. stimulate job growth. Work with the gangs.

NET - I see Lynn pride in action tonight. Our city will make huge strides if we engage everyone in community building and in shaping our government. Our gov will serve us best when it matches the needs of our citizens.

2 comments:

  1. They should run CORI and Credit checks like they do for REAL jobs and that will eliminate some of the donkeys

    ReplyDelete
  2. Interesting idea. Surprised their not required to do CORI checks. What are city hall employees subject to, do you know?

    ReplyDelete

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