Tuesday, July 31, 2007

SouthCoast Photo of the Month

Here it is July's SouthCoast Photo of the month!

Here in the pedestrian walk way of what was once old Second Street is a simple concrete table and seating. Set up for chess or checkers, the area needs some attention and upkeep. Located behind the Academy Building and across the street from Government Center the walkway could and should be an area that is kept in pristine condition, instead flower planters look overgrown, grass and weeds peak out from between the brick pavers and the whole area unkempt and in need of a good cleaning. What should be an inviting area is anything but.


Are you an avid picture taker? Do you have a shot you're particularly proud of? Perhaps just a shot that you'd like to share? Submit it here for the SouthCoast Photo of the Month! Send submissions to aviewfrombattleshipcove@google.com

Speak Up Fall River Mayoral Forum - Summary

What follows is the summary on the previous the previous 2 posts on the 1st mayoral forum. To view the previous posts click on the links below.

Speak Up Fall River Mayoral Forum Part I

Speak Up Fall River Mayoral Forum Part 2

Score Card

Eric Poulin - 5
Brad Kilby - 3
Dave Sullivan -2
Bill Whitty - 0
Al Alves - 0
Bob Correia - 0

Looking at my score card I see that I named Eric Poulin the winner in 5 of the 10 questions and I'm not surprised. Eric showed much more poise than I would have expected for someone who has not run for office before. His answers on the whole seemed the most achievable, the most grounded in reality, and the most specific. People who have been dismissive of him really need to take another look or at the very least explain why their candidate of choice failed to live up to expectations in this forum. Brad Kilby came in second place and this kind of shocked me. I like Kilby I believe that he has the reputation of hard working, diligent public servant and I've known ever since he first ran for school commitee that eventually he would run for mayor, but in this race Brad is usually said to be in the second tier behind Correia, Whitty and Sullivan and maybe I've let that affect my thinking because Kilby certainly debated like someone who is ready to win. Dave Sullivan picked up the final 2 points on my scorecard but to be honest he didn't debate as well as he should have and I think that you can make the argument that Whitty or Correia debates as well or better despite not getting and points. Bill Whitty despite not winning any points did have several strong moments and I think really was able to project the 'experienced leader' persona. I found myself liking Al Alves more than I have in the passed, I found Alves someone who displayed passion and sincerity but his answers constantly lacked specific details. I think perhaps Bob Correia was the big loser of the debate, arriving late and seeming tired and a little unprepared. Bob would like to convey that he is the experienced leader but I found that instead of winning me over with his vision as mayor, that too often he leaned on his accomplishments as a state rep instead. Strong leadership is important but so is strong vision and the ability to inspire and I'm just not convinced that Bob Correia has the vision or the inspiration to lead this city.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Speak Up Fall River Mayoral Forum Part 2

Dear Readers,

This is part 2 of my debate analysis, again I make no claims at being a political expert and the opinions and observations are simply my own. I have done my best to both summarize the question and the answers and urge you to watch the forum for yourselves so you can make your own determinations. Finally, I want to say how extremely disappointed I am to realize that a month has passed since this forum and not even one additional forum or debate has taken place.

The participants
City Councilor Al Alves
State Representative Bob Correia
City Councilor Brad Kilby
Candidate Eric Poulin
State Representative Dave Sullivan
City Councilor Bill Whitty

6th Question - If elected what actions would the candidate take in his first 6 month to 'daylight' the Quequechan river falls and and to connect the downtown to the waterfront. What the candidate do to develop an urban design program that is specific and bold.

Bob Correia responded that are 3 existing plans already and we need to actively complete these existing plans. He touted that he has, as state rep, ensured that funding sources remain viable for such development and that would push for our federal reps to secure 128 million in federal funding to develop the waterfront and daylight the Quequechan. Al Alves, envisions, hotels and shops and coffee shops similar to Newport, RI. He believes that the existing plans are there to be used he believes that the waterfront development is tied up in red tape and pledges to get through that red tape and get the waterfront developed. Bill Whitty, states that this will be a huge undertaking, but that we should move forward on it. He stresses that development could be down now on areas that are already open teamed with the planned bike path, he points out that he worked on similar projects in the city. Dave Sullivan too states that he is in favor of 'daylighting' the Quequechan and that this will be a long term project. He believes that developing the water front will require teaming with the arts, restaurants and the development of our port, stressing that this has never been properly marketed. He refers to efforts he made for the city to keep its deep water port status. Eric Poulin states that would bring organizations like Green Futures and the Quequechan Action Committee. He believes that this has been a constant 'campaign' issue with little progress being made. If elected mayor he would set up firm time lines and for the completion of various stages and utilize the relationships he has developed with several committees and groups to move the project forward. Brad Kilby believes that this project could have similar results to the renaissance in Providence. He believes in a plan that would revitalize the Capital Theater downtown, unearth the Quequechan and team with the Narrows Center for the Arts to stimulate the city. He stresses that other cities have done similar projects and that grant sources exist.

This is an extremely tough call, several candidates really touched something that maybe the others didn't. Al Alves convinced me that while offering little in substantial details that this was a project that here cared deeply about and Brad Kilby touched on plans for the Capitol Theater but it was Dave Sullivan stressed the need to market and develop our deep water port, no other candidate really spoke of a way to develop an existing economic engine and like Whitty spoke about revitalizing the open areas of the Quequechan river. Winner: Dave Sullivan

7th Question - If elected what would the candidate, in his first 6 months, do to reduce the city's waste flow through recycling and other effort and what would be done to improve the appearance of the city.

Al Alves responded that the state should be called, that prisoner clean up crews should be utilized but that high tech solutions must be embraced, he refers to a waste to energy station. Bill Whitty states he does not support a landfill or an incinerator. Dave Sullivan says mandatory recycling is needed and stated that the city had the ability to shut down the landfill but using the airport but in shortsightedness shut down the airport and lost that leverage. Eric Poulin says that 'pay as you throw' programs our perhaps the best method of improving recycling rates but that it's a plan that might not work in Fall River. He says to improve the city's appearance a street sweeping schedule would be implemented to ensure that all areas of the city our cleaned on a set basis. He also advocated more enforcement of city liter fines. Brad Kilby believes that bringing back the 'incentives program' with public works employees, splitting the department into three groups and on a rotating schedule allowing two groups to go home early if all work is completed and leaving the third group to handle any issues that may arise. Kilby also believes that the closed incinerator could be used as a transfer and holding station, a place that would allow trash to be sorted for further recycling and one that could possibly serve the needs for area community. Bob Correia believes that efforts to clean the city needs to a yearlong effort and that if the city shows a strong effort that the citizens would join in that effort. He also called for mandatory recycling and the establishment of a recycling center.

This is another tough call, I honestly don't think any of the candidates answered this question as thoroughly as they should have. I give Brad Kilby credit for answering the 'waste' part of the question but I don't know if I'm buying the 'incentive program'. I also give Poulin credit for his answer on the 'appearance' part of the question. Street sweeping schedules and liter enforcement makes sense to me. I really wish I cobble both answers into one and assign it to one candidate. Again I'm not sure if I'm buying the 'incentive program' but a regional transfer station is doable, realistic and a step in the right direction. Winner: Brad Kilby

8th Question - What would the candidate do, in the 1st 6 months in office, to create free and accessible busing to and from school and to and from after school activities.

Bill Whitty responds that he been aware of the issue, has talked to the Superintendent, that it effects those in the south end of the city and that the issue is one that the School Department is currently working on. Dave Sullivan believes that this is an investment for success and although there will be a cost it is a matter of priority. He believes that perhaps a regional approach needs to be taken and that state agencies can be brought in. Eric Poulin supports that the idea of constant busing or trolley line to and from the Bank St. Armory, the Boys and Girls club and the YMCA. He states that the Mayor has a seat on the SRTA board and should use it as a bully pulpit on behalf of Fall River students. He further states that block grant funding is there that could be redirected to pay for funding for transportation by cutting funding from programs that have more political motivations. Brad Kilby states that he too has talked to the Superintendent on this matter and agrees that Mayor has considerable sway with the SRTA board, he believes that transportation should be expanded so that all school children would have free transportation to school, after school activities, parks, etc. Bob Correia also believes that this is necessary and that transportation to and from school should be free. He would work with state and federal representatives to secure funding to pay for initiating it. Al Alves also believes school children should not have to pay for for transportation to and from school. He pledges to work with SRTA to change the whole system, including the use of small buses, vans, volunteers, and perhaps a Fall River transportation system.

Okay, they all agree that busing is needed but who actually provided an answer that seemed achievable and offered specifics in how to pay for it? Winner: Eric Poulin

9th Question - What would the candidate do in the first 6 months in office to address the issue of crime, gangs, and drugs in the city.

Dave Sullivan believes that police need to become part of the community, that outreach workers need to reach into the community to steer kids to better choices. Eric Poulin believes that drug trade and drug addiction is the source of the majority of Fall River's crime and gang issues. He would hold a 'Drug Summit' with all applicable agencies to develop a plan of attack and implement it. Brad Kilby has consulted with various experts and that he would reassess the sectors of the Fall River police department, each sector would have a clear chain of command and that they would be held responsible for results in their sector. He believes that the police need to get out of the cars and become part of the neighborhood. and that the Police Department needs to decentralized. He also points out that New Bedford has more officers than does Fall River. Bob Correia cites community policing funds that as state rep he has delivered to Fall River, he cites that a bulk of the trained officers are doing administrative tasks and need to be returned to the streets. He also believes that programs to occupy children would serve as a crime preventative. Al Alves says that the city's police do an outstanding job but that the city faces a drug epidemic and that we need to seek support from all sources, state, federal, etc. and that more needs to be done to combat the drug problem. Bill Whitty believes that the FRPD is second to none but in order to a better job more officers are needed. He pledges to add 20 more officers to be dedicated to walking beats and community policing.

Drugs, crime and gangs are all bad but how to fight them? Summits may generate results, extra officers are nice but how do you pay for them? Community outreach is great. Seeking additional aid and support seems to make sense but what if you seek and there is nothing there? One state rep. talks of funding and makes a great argument for keeping him in the legislature. Kilby spoke with passion and conviction. Listening to him outline his plan I believe it is one he's worked hard on and think he may just may be on to something. Winner: Brad Kilby

10th Question - If elected what would the candidate do in the first year in office to improve the financial condition of the school system and improve budget transparency.

Eric Poulin stresses that he believes in transparency and as proof points out that the current audits are available on his campaign website. He points out that funding could be freed up by following the suggestions outlined in the yearly audit. He also says that existing monies need to be refocused and that he would follow the audits and replace people in city finance that were not meeting expectations. Brad Kilby says that we need to lobby the state for more state aid to increase education funding. He points out that New Bedford is getting a sizable increase in funding, while Fall River is getting roughly an additional 400k. Bob Correia took some exception with Kilby's statements pointing out that Fall River receives the 3rd largest amount of local aid, that there has been a 1600 students and the second highest reevaluation in property, and that it's not just a 'state' issue. He proposed a new marina, as a new revenue source and stressed that we needed to scrutinize how we spend our money now. Al Alves stressed that we needed a combination of getting more state aid, looking for new revenue sources, including the selling of unused school buildings and to scrutinize how we are currently spending our money. He also touched on the idea of using bond issues to fund education. Bill Whitty stated that we need more federal revenue sharing, that we need to outreach to area business to assist in improving education, that he would expand the city's tax base by implementing a residency requirement for all city positions. He also supports the establishment of gaming in Massachusetts as a revenue source. Dave Sullivan states that funding solutions come from Governor Patrick, that a telecommunications tax incentive will provide 700k to Fall River, that the city should have the oppurtunity to enter into the state's health insurance plan to save money, and to enter the state's pension plan to save money, to close corporate state tax loopholes and provide additional monies.

For too many of the candidates the answer is to simply ask, plead, and beg for more state and or federal aid, that's all well and good but if you don't get more aid you're still stuck with the need for more funding. Dave Sullivan made several interesting points but pointed out that they were the Governor's solutions, Correia piqued my interest with a municipal marina but how long would we have to wait to see that idea come to fruition? Of all the candidates Eric Poulin is the only one who spoke of transparency, both in citing that fact that he has put the city audits on his website and by stating he would follow the recommendations of those audits to free up existing monies and refocus them to where we need additional funds. This certainly isn't the solution, but it is a part of the solution and it also seems reasonable and achievable with the 1 year specified in the question. Winner: Eric Poulin

Closing Statements. - Each candidate delivered the expected closing remarks, thanking those who sponsored and participated, thanking their supporters and asking for votes. After listening to their statements a few times I decided to simply summarize them in the form of a tag line. Please note this is not necessarily my view of the candidates, simply the 'message' I think each was trying to convey.

Brad Kilby - The candidate for change and not the status quo!
Bob Correia - Experience! for 30 years he has brought home the groceries, now he wants to do the cooking!
Al Alves - He has the guts and know how to turn Fall River around and move it into the 21st century.
Bill Whitty - Let's move forward together
Dave Sullivan - He's not afraid to take on the big fight!
Eric Poulin - Speaking in specifics with a hope for Fall River

Score Card
Eric Poulin - 5
Brad Kilby - 3
Dave Sullivan -2
Bill Whitty - 0
Al Alves - 0
Bob Correia - 0

Because this post is so lengthy I will do a third post for forum summary.

Candidate Websites

“I didn’t realize a Web site was part of the criteria for running for mayor..." Representative Bob Correia

Over and over I hear that we, the voters, need to educate ourselves about the people who run for public office. This isn't as easy as it sounds, there are no books in the public library about the life and times of a candidate, the local media doesn't cover everything in depth. Candidates walk neighborhoods but I've yet to see one, they send mailers but I certainly haven't gotten one from every candidate. Debates and forums are a great way to learn about the different stances but you need to attend one or hope that it will be made available on cable or some other source because again the media isn't going to cover it in depth. So how does a voter educate themselves? Well a great tool for a candidate to get his message across and for a voter to take to the time to learn is a candidate's website. A candidate's platform, event schedule, information about the candidate himself, and more is available right from my desk!

Really today the technology exists so that any candidate can have a website, heck, I could do a fair job of using blogger to post a campaign platform, contact info, and events, so really to have a presence on the internet just isn't that hard and in fact most of our mayoral candidates do.

Although it is fairly easy to find most candidate's websites using a Google search I'm providing links to them here.

Representative Bob Correia
Representative Dave Sullivan
City Councillor Brad Kilby
City Councillor Bill Whitty
City Councillor Al Alves
Eric Poulin
Kenneth Medeiros - NO SITE FOUND*
Manuel O. Alves - NO SITE FOUND*

Also see More Candidate Websites

If anyone knows of a website for Mr. Medeiros or Mr Manuel Alves please contact me at aviewfrombattleshipcove@gmail.com so I may update this post.

It's not just U.S. trade policies that hurt American companies...

Interesting article in the Providence Journal (Registration Required) about Vanson Leather here in Fall River.

Vanson is the largest American manufacture of leather motorcycle jackets and apparel, with a world wide reputation. Many consider Vanson's products simply the best, high end gear for professional riders and customers who want the protection and look of top quality gear.

Despite the high prices commanded premuim gear, Vanson once enjoyed over 10 million dollars a year in sales, now they are earning about half that and blame U.S. foreign policy, specifically in Iraq, for the sales decline. It's owner Mike Vanderseesen's contention that foreign consumers displeased with U.S. policies refuse to purchase American made products and his company is suffering as a result.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Speak Up Fall River Mayoral Forum Part I

Dear Readers,

Although I was unable to attend the Speak Up Fall River Mayoral forum, thanks to one candidate making it available on his website I have had the ability to view it in its entirety and offer you the following assessment. I don't confess to having a political science degree or any other expertise in political analysis so please realize that the conclusions and observations are simply my personal opinion. I more than encourage you to watch the forum yourself and come to your own conclusions. I also welcome you to take issue and challenge mine. I believe in political debate, both amongst the candidates and the voters. After all if my opinion is wrong it may take a good debate to make me see the error my ways.

The forum is roughly 2hrs. long with 6 candidates participating. I shall cover half the questions here and the rest in a subsequent post. I typed much of commentary while listening to the debate, so forgive me for the informality of sentence structure and omitting proper titles.

The participants
City Councilor Al Alves
State Representative Bob Correia
City Councilor Brad Kilby
Candidate Eric Poulin
State Representative Dave Sullivan
City Councilor Bill Whitty

Opening statements
Al Alves starts off, stumbling a bit, Kilby is more confident but a bit jittery and goes over the allotted time, Eric Poulin starts strong, finishes in time and does well at delivering the 'campaign message', Dave Sullivan starts strong, fumbles slightly but like Poulin manages to hammer home some of his campaign themes, Bill Whitty sounds confident and mayoral, his pacing and speech really speak to experience not only does he hit the on the themes of his campaign but he chastises those who fail to acknowledge the gains made over the last several years. Bob Correia is running late and is not here to make an opening statement.

1st Question - What plan would the candidates do in their first 6 months in office to develop redevelopment plan for Watuppa Heights site?
Alves, Whitty and Kilby all say they'll work to push forward the existing plan of razing the project and replacing it will single family homes with no clear explanation of how they will accomplish what has been dragging on for over 5 years now. Dave Sullivan mentions that city has yet to submit a plan that is acceptable to the state but runs out of time before he really says much of anything else. Eric Poulin is the clear winner here, his answer is concise, detailed, and specific. His approach would reduce the number of units and create mixed income housing using funding sources that would not impact Fall River taxpayers. Representative Correia is running late and doesn't get to answer this question.

Winner: Eric Poulin

2nd Question - If elected mayor what would the candidate do to implement, monitor, and improve Fall River's public schools?
Whitty says commitment is needed and he voted on the budget championed by the superintendent. Sullivan speaks of redirecting budget resources to benefit priorities. Poulin speaks of removing the mayor as the head of the school committee and of implementing a plan to remove political patrionage, refers to specifics on his website. Kilby says he would allow the superintendent to lead the school department, and push for additional funds from the state, also he explains some the issues he had with the current budget. Bob Correia (arriving late) says that as mayor he would demand accountability. Alves, stresses accountability and that he believes that the mayor should not be the head of the school committee.

The best responses were by Poulin, Kilby, and Alves but none of them really hit this one out of the park. Winner: Brad Kilby

3rd Question - What actions would the candidate make to appoint members of the Zoning Board of Appeals and make sure that all laws are followed?
Sullivan speaks of appointing members with a strong interest and commitment to upholding the law. Poulin responds that if board members are not following the laws, he would replace those members with interested parties and provide training to ensure that members were educated stressing that educated boards make better decisions. Kilby speaks of the qualifications of the current board head, the benefits of variances, speaks of providing some training and the how he would be watchful of any abuses. Correia speaks of appointing qualified board members and only reappointing them if they meet the expectations, Alves responds that he would appoint, qualified, professional people but stresses that anyone interested should have the opportunity to be considered.

Although several candidates provided strong and interesting answers, Eric Poulin again managed to be concise, specific and fit his answer into the time alloted. It's close but Winner: Eric Poulin

4th Question - What would the candidate do, in the his first 6 months as mayor, to indentify problem landlords and enforce housing laws in the city?
Poulin answers strongly, stressing a 7 point plan on his website but highlighting the need to identify using police records, having city agencies work with landlords to eliminate problem tenants and finally sending in the building inspector to fine landlords unwilling to work with the city for various infractions. Brad Kilby compliments Poulin on his plan and says that he would use it himself. Correia, like Kilby, speaks of using an almost identical approach but going out of his way to point out that it's a plan already being used in Brockton. Alves stresses the need to enforce the existing codes and laws but doesn't offer any specifics to do so. Whitty suggests absentee landlord properties should be taxed as a business (a view I share). He also states that additional fees could be charged for constant code and law violations and city pressure could be placed in the way of fines etc. Dave Sullivan says that we've been deaf to the complaints of neighbors and that a position should be created to co-ordinate efforts against absentee landlords, he too mentions using a similiar tact to that of Eric Poulin.

Honestly most candidates hit the same or very similar themes on this question and overall I actually like Bill Whitty's answer quite a bit but when you have two other candidates endorse your plan during the forum and another obviously go out of his way not to give you credit, you win. Winner: Eric Poulin

5th Question - Weaver's Cove LNG, if elected does the candidate commitment to provide funds and do everything in his power to fight the project?
Kilby states yes and that defeating LNG is transcends the politics of the race. He does point out that has asked current legal counsel to remain in a Kilby administration and gives credit to various groups that have fought this. Correia also answers in the affirmative, speaks of strong leadership and his 'track record' as a state rep. Al Alves, stresses that the LNG facility would hamper efforts he wants to make on the city's waterfront. That he would have that Federal delegation come to Fall River to tell the citizens face to face what they are doing to defeat this. Bill Whitty like Kilby and Alves stresses actions he had taken as a councilor to ensure funding was in the city budget to fight this, he also talks about using eminent domain to take the property from Hess LNG. Dave Sullivan stresses that he has has stood with the people of Fall River since the start, that he would certainly commit to providing funds and would battle the project to his "dying breath". Sullivan mentions that many have joined the battle late only because of the pressure and attention that he helped foster. Eric Poulin says he will work "smarter and harder" on defeating LNG, he believes that he may be the most knowledgeable candidate on this subject and that he was instrumental in bringing in the Washington DC legal team that the city currently employs to fight the legal battle.

LNG is such a hot issue that every candidate is going to say yes to providing funding and continuing the fight. Bob Correia citing his track record and Eric Poulin stressing his experience and knowledge both did well here, but it's Dave Sullivan who wins this one with on the emotional appeal of basically saying 'I stood with you first and I'll fight for you until the end'. Winner: Dave Sullivan

Photographers Wanted

With July quickly coming to a close it's almost time to select this month's SouthCoast photo. Now, it was my hope that the SouthCoast Photo feature would foster some blog participation, maybe boost readership and give us a broader view of the SouthCoast region and although I have had some submissions most of the photos have been my own.

I suppose that's fine, I certainly have enough photos to keep the segment going and it's easy enough to take more, but I would really like your participation.

It's not necessary to be Ansel Adams, all you need is a camera and the resources to email me a picture. The picture can be off anything, as long as it's SouthCoast related.

So if you reside somewhere else but have visited the area, send me a vacation shot, if you do live in the area take a picture of a favorite site, an unknown corner, or the wildflowers growing in your yard. Feel free to provide a description and history of the photo and other information of interest. Send them to aviewfrombattleshipcove@gmail.com

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Need for Debates

In today's Herald News there's a news story where mayoral candidate Eric Poulin is calling for more candidate debates.

All the candidates interviewed seem more than willing to debate and let their views be heard and contrasted against their opponents. The story goes on to detail efforts between the Herald News and WSAR to hold four candidate forums, two before the preliminary election and two after.

Lefty's view: Considering the number of candidates (seven) and the number of issues that currently face our city, two debates before the preliminary election is just not enough. If the candidates are as willing to debate as they seem to be, I say let them debate! As many debates as can reasonably be squeezed into the time before the preliminary election. Let's take the opportunity to learn something about these candidates! After twelve years with Ed Lambert as mayor I need some assurances that his replacement will be up to the task and these candidates deserve the chance to express their views before five of them are eliminated! The more debates that we have the more chance that someone will step into the voting booth and make an educated choice and not one based on name recognition, longevity or who has the most signs. Don't we deserve that?

**BRAVO to Candidate Eric Poulin for making the first Mayoral debate available on his website! In doing so Eric is putting the voters ahead of his own campaign. I for one was unable to attend the debate, but look forward to being able to watch it. Thanks Eric!

Some Beatification Needed

Okay, I love Fall River, truly I do, but I'll be the first to admit Fall River has its share of problems.

One of the things that bothers me most about the "Spindle City" is that it really needs a good cleaning! Our streets are littered with trash, weeds and grass seem overtake every sidewalk crack, buildings are allowed to become rundown and dilapidated, in short, things really need to be spruced up!

To keep a city like Fall River clean takes a concentrated effort and it turns out that in the 1960's Evelyn Lowenstein, a woman of some local celebrity, was put in charge of that effort. Mayor Roland Desmarais asked Lowenstein if she would serve as the Beautification Director of Fall River. She agreed and although having no experience she did have clear ideas on what it meant to beautify Fall River and that meant cleaning up.

"To me, beautifying is cleaning up," she says. "Before you plant trees, you've got to clean up."

She worked to identify priorities and co-ordinate city departments, she marshaled resources and worked to promote the vision of a more beautiful city. Amazingly all of her efforts were done not as a city employee but as volunteer.

Although it may be hard to appreciate the lasting effects of her efforts, it is easy to see the continued need for those efforts today and wonder who, if anyone is filling that role.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Quaker Fabric

The thing I dislike most about blogging is regurgitating the news. That is to say, to simply rehash a news event without adding any perspective or opinion. That why I haven't commented about Quaker Fabric (Providence Journal Link Registration Required) until now.

Quaker Fabric has been a mainstay to the Fall River economy for over sixty years, less than a decade ago it was Fall River's largest employer with over 2,400 people on the payroll. Quaker was a success story in the area's declining textile industry. However things changed just a few short years ago, seemingly due to international trade, as Quaker started posting quarterly losses and laying off employees. Despite all attempts to turn the tide Quaker shut down for it's annual 2 week break and announced that it was unlikely that they could remain open.

The announcement was treated with great surprise and there has been a community effort to try to make all resources available to retrain and reemploy Quakers workers. Senators Kerry and Kennedy have moved to secure funding under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program, which would provide funding for training and extended unemployment benefits.

Lefty's view: It's wonderful that the community has rallied to support these displaced workers but so many of these employees who lack the skill set and educational background to move into another industry are going to face huge challenges to 'reinvent' themselves. I hope the support they are receiving now is there after this is no longer a front page news story.

It's also wonderful to have the support of Kerry and Kennedy but I have to wonder did the 1,400 plus employees who lost their jobs when Quaker was still fighting for viability benefit for any similar actions?

Good will aside, how did Quaker get into this mess? How does a company go from being a strong, successful and growing company to having to liquidate in such a short time? Much has been made about the fierce foreign competition but how much of this competition has been brought on by changes in U.S. trade policy? Is it fair to open up trade with countries where the costs of business are so much cheaper because workers are exploited and have almost no rights? Where children are considered part of the labor force and health, safety and environmental regulations are minimal at best? When you factor in the costs of the standards we demand how can U.S. companies compete? Is it fair to open up trade with countries that put U.S. companies at such a disadvantage and where the 'playing field' is anything but level? Did our elected leaders consider the effects such unfair competition would have? If the argument is that free trade is good for the 'national' economy is it okay to sacrifice some for the greater good?

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Easy Way to Own Maplecroft!

Photograph by Shelley Dziedzic

It's funny how things happen sometime. I do ONE post about Lizzie Borden and stumble into some interesting Lizzie tidbits to blog about!

Lizzie's beloved Maplecroft, the mansion she moved to following her trial and where she would remain for the rest of her life. The house stands in stark contrast to her former home on Second Street. The Second Street home of her father's choosing was a modest home with little adornment or luxury. That house sat close to a busy street in a rather unfashionable neighborhood, but Maplecroft, with its 13 rooms, 6 fireplaces, stained glass windows and fine woodwork, sat in a neighborhood defined by privilege and exclusivity.

The last time Maplecroft was on the market it was listed for approximately 3/4 of a million dollars. One can only guess what it's market value is today.

A little short on cash? Want your Lizzie-mansion but don't want the hassle of relocating? Love the house but don't want to face the costs of upkeep and repairs? Well I've got the answer for you!

It seems that an avid player of the video game Sims 2 has created his (or her!) own version of Maplecroft for use in that game. It seems the game scenario has a neat tie in to the Borden case. and that made designing a virtual Maplecroft a 'must-do'. Maplecroft interiors were even created by without a blueprint to work with they are simply conjectural. Still a great deal of fun, give it a look!

The Story of Lizzie Borden told on Radio

After featuring the story of Lizzie Borden in June's SouthCoast photo of the month, quite by coincidence while searching the internet for news of and about Fall River I came across this interesting post on the Mondo Lizzie Borden blog!

Crime Classics, a radio show that aired from June 15, 1953, to June 30, 1954 featured On the Bloody, Bloody Banks of Fall River for it's broadcast on Wednesday September 30, 1953.

Featuring Irene Tedrow as Lizzie Borden the other performers were Herb Butterfield, Jeanette Nolan, Bill Johnstone, Betty Harford, Sarah Selby, and Paul Frees.

An amusing listen today, but one has to wonder what Fall Riverites thought of in back in the Autumn of 1953!