Thursday, January 31, 2008

State Rep. Race who should win and who should participate?

It's mere days to the Democratic primary that will narrow the field of candidate's for the 7th Bristol District seat from 5 to 2. So far the race has been lackluster and it seems the better known candidates have been relying on name recognition.

The one forum scheduled for the 4 Democratic candidates has been pushed off as the Herald News and WSAR have tried to accommodate the schedule of City Councilor Leo Pelletier. Finally, fed up by Pelletier's lack of willingness to participate, the forum is scheduled for tomorrow. One candidate, John Rodrigues has stated that if Pelletier doesn't participate, either will he. That means that unless something changes only Kevin Aguiar and Tony Sousa are willing to take the time to present themselves to the voting public. It's upsetting that Rodrigues has decided not to participate but it's frustrating to have Councilor Pelletier tout his work ethic when he's not willing to work for our vote. Feeling this same frustration the Herald News took Leo to task in their recent editorial.

So come February 5th who should walk away the winner? I really can't say, however, I would be reluctant to vote for a candidate who didn't participate in the only forum.

SouthCoast Photo of the Month

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

The festive lights of the holiday season ring in the New Year in this picture of Fall River's downtown on New Year's Eve. This submitted photo highlights what is my favorite section of downtown.
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

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Meet the Candidate

Folks, Tony Sousa, candidate for State Representative is having a few meet and greets and I want to do my part to pass the word along.

The Committee to Elect Tony Sousa will be hosting two "Meet and Greet" gatherings for Tony next week. The first event will take place this Sunday (1/27) afternoon from 2-3pm at St. Anne's Fraternity on Flynn Street and on Wednesday (1/30) evening at the Italian Progressive Club on Slade Street from 7-8pm. These are informal events where voters can talk one on one with Tony. Both events are open to the public and are free of charge.

If you're someone who lives in the district that Mr. Sousa is looking to represent I urge you to attend one of these "Meet and Greets". Here is YOUR chance to find out what Tony Sousa stands for, what skills he will bring to this position, and what sets him apart from his opponents. It's also your chance to let the candidate know what's important to you.

To many people will simply vote the name that they know best. I urge you to take the time and effort to learn about the candidates and vote not for the most recognizable name, but for the man you truly feel is qualified to represent us in Boston.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

We need to urge Leo to debate!

This Tuesday is the scheduled debate for the Democratic candidates for State Rep. for the 7th Bristol district, but unless he changes his mind, Councilor Leo Pelletier will not be taking the stage at Bristol Community College. Instead, Councilor Pelletier will be taking his familiar seat during a city council meeting scheduled for the same night.

By attending the city council meeting Councilor Pelletier may feel he's living up to his commitment to the people of Fall River, but by skipping the debate he's cheating the very people he hopes to represent in the state house. By not participating in the debate Candidate Pelletier is losing the chance to share his platform and denying us the chance to learn where the he stands.

Where does Leo stand? If elected will he retain his city council seat? If so how will he deal with the inevitable conflicts between those two positions? Considering he's skipping the debate it's a fair question and exactly the reason why Leo needs to debate.

It's my understanding that attempts have been made to reschedule the debate to the 24th but the resulting conflicts with our candidates mean that the debate HAS to take place on the 22nd. It's also my understanding that when the 22nd was suggested that no candidate mentioned a conflict.

If someone seriously wants to be our next State Representative it's a position they need to earn. Each candidate should do their best to make their positions and platform known. It's not enough to rely on popularity and name recognition.

If you agree, contact Councilor Pelletier and urge him to participate in this debate.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

No Debate, time to reschedule

There is just a few short weeks before the Democratic primary that will determine which one of the 4 Democratic challengers will advance to the special election for the open State Rep. seat in the 7th Bristol district. With so little time it is more important than ever to learn all we can about the candidates running for office. Yet due to a scheduling conflict one of the candidates, City Councilor Leo Pelletier, may be unable to participate in the only scheduled debate.

Now, you can hardly fault Leo for opting out of the debate because it's scheduled on the same night as the first City Council meeting of the current session. Yes, it can be argued that we the people would forgive Leo for missing a meeting to participate in a debate but it can also be argued that many would applaud Leo for his dedication in doing the peoples business.

The reality is Leo knows that he stands a very good chance of being our next State Rep. He knows that name recognition, popularity, and years of solid constituent service give him a great shot of winning the race. While I won't go as far as to say he won't debate, I will say he knows that missing the debate isn't going to hurt him, or that it might hurt him less than debating would.

Leo's excuse is a good one and a legitimate one. It's poor planning on the part of the debate sponsors to schedule it on the night of a City Council meeting. The whole purpose of a debate is to hear the various views and opinions of those running for office. What is the point of a debate if one of the 'front runners' is unable to attend? I understand that time is short but I believe the debate sponsors, WSAR and the Herald News, need to reschedule so all the candidates can participate. Not only should Leo have the chance to share his platform, his opponents should have the chance to show why they feel they are the better choice.

While this may be a special election, what happens here may well decide who wins a full term in the fall and considering the previous rep. held the seat for 30 years, maybe we need to take the time to make sure we know who we're voting for.

If you agree, contact the Herald News and WSAR and ask them to reschedule.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Nude dancing? City has yet to cover its ass.

It's been over ten years since Paul Viveros took on the fight to get a license to have adult dancing at his Oliver's Restaurant.

For years Viveros and the city battled as the city tried to thwart Viveros and at the same time craft zoning that would seriously hamper any efforts to establish an adult entertainment business here in the city.

In 2005 the city and Viveros had a stalemate of sorts. The city had its adult entertainment district struck down by the courts as unconstitutional. The courts also sided with the city that Oliver's was in an industrial district and the city was within their rights to deny a license for adult entertainment. The end result was that after years of fighting and thousands of dollars spent, the city had stopped the one serious attempt to establish a 'strip club' in the city, but at the same time the city had failed to come up with a workable way to control where such businesses could be established.

So now, the city is one again facing the dilemma of a local business owner looking to establish adult entertainment in Fall River. This time the business is located in the one area the city constantly boasts as a key to economic revival, our waterfront.

The ownership of the Regatta has submitted requests to establish adult entertainment and to have a 18 and over club license. The city now has to decide whether to grant this or to deny it and once again risk a court battle. The problem is the Regatta is located right near our waterfront attractions. This is the area where Fall River Celebrates America takes place. This is the area where hundreds flock to walk the boardwalk. With plans to raze the overpass it and create a an open boulevard it would seem that this section of the route 79 corridor is the last place we should want an adult entertainment business established.

It would now appear that the city has been very shortsighted in its strategy. The city spent years trying to craft an adult entertainment zone that was practically inaccessible and unbuildable. Instead the city should have worked to create a zone that protected those areas where it's felt that adult entertainment might have a negative impact on development. The city could have further enacted provisions that might not have stopped adult entertainment from coming in, but would have made it more difficult and safeguarded the best interests of the city.

Lefty's view: I understand that many don't want adult entertainment in our city, but the reality is legally we have been unable to stop it. Is our waterfront the right place for a strip club? I certainly don't think so. So where do you place a facility like this? I would say far away from where you want to spur commercial development, particularly areas of tourism. Ideally it would be isolated from the heart of the city and near the highway so traffic could come in and out of the city without traveling through the city. Gee, come to think of it Oliver's might have been a great place for it after all.

Monday, January 14, 2008

It's 2am in the Spindle City and not a drop of snow to be found.

It's 2am in the Spindle City on January the 14th, 2008. Not a drop of snow to be found. Nothing but an impending forecast of blizzardly doom in sight. School canceled, children snuggled cozily in their beds. The familiar blue lights of the Environmental Police stopping at each illegally parked car, and leaving little orange gifts. A friendly reminder... "There is a new Sheriff in town... It is not business as usual in Fall River anymore."

Let's hope Mayor Correia is as on top of everything else as he is on snow.


Fear and Loathing in Fall River

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Correia Resignations - Why all the hype?

In one of his first acts as Mayor Bob Correia has requested resignation letters from all his department heads.

Okay, what's the big deal?

This has been treated like some HUGE news story. CORREIA FIRES EVERYONE!! Well, no he didn't. This is purely symbolic, a way for the new Mayor to make it known that no job is to be taken for granted and the he is reviewing each and every position. If Mayor Correia EXCEPTED everyone's resignations THAT would be news, but most of these people are going to keep their jobs, or more correctly have their resignations not accepted, in my opinion.

One very good point brought up by WSAR's Keri Rodrigues is what happens if the resignation is accepted? This is something that must be answered. As much as I applaud a new administration for taking firm action to clean house our city employees are entitled to the same employment protections as anyone else.

Personally I think it's a positive step and I hope that Mayor Correia looks long and hard to make sure that the people who serve in city government are doing the job we expect, or should expect.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Take it back! - Why I think the city should take the old police station back by eminent domain

Back in June I blogged about the former police station site. The site had just been awarded to JPS Investment Group of Florida, owned by a former city native, John Pavao. Pavao bid $160,000 to win the property in a city auction. JPS supposedly had grand plans for the building. His proposal was to renovate the building with office and restaurant space but instead little has been done to the property and JPS has been trying to sell the building for more 4 times what he paid.

Also back in June JPS purchased the Heritage Hills Golf Course in nearby Lakeville, MA. Pavao stated that he wanted to reopen the golf course and bring it back to its former glory but by this Fall he upset neighbors with plans to develop some of the land as residential house lots. Pavao claims that he needs to subdivide and sell the house lots in order to secure a mortgage on the property but it seems that neighbors view this as a failure to live up to what statements he earlier made.

I think the reality is, both here in Fall River and in Lakeville, that John Pavao is doing everything in his legal rights to profit from his investments. At the same both communities are realizing that now that honeymoon is over they may have gotten more than they bargained for.

Here in Fall River this is 100% our fault that property should have been auctioned in a manner that guaranteed that it was developed as stated, as intended, as we hoped. Because of some issues with the original bidding process we went from having it sold to a developer with great track record for getting things done and investing in the city to sitting there vacant and for sale.

It's time to take it back!

The former police station is a key site, near our Government Center, our financial district, the proposed arts overlay district, and central to the both the new courthouse on South Main Street and the courthouse located in the old Durfee High School. It's important that this site be developed in a way that complements the revitalization that we want to see in this area of the city. We had the chance to ensure that when we auctioned it off but we didn't. Now, I think we need to come up with a solid proposal for the use of that building and take it back by eminent domain.

Perhaps that building could be used to house the Fall River Children's Museum, or could be purchased to be used for or as the site of the Fall River Chamber of Commerce, allowing us to use their existing in 'daylighting' the Quequechan River. It wouldn't be too hard to find a good use for that location.

It's true that we could end up paying more for the building that what we sold it for, but sometimes you have to pay for your mistakes.