Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 - The Year in Review

Wow, what a year it has been.

I originally was going to blog from memory some of the things that have taken place in 2009. I then thought maybe I'd spend some time searching the Internet for the events of this past year. This it hit why not do a year in review based upon what I blogged about!

So here it is, the A View From Battleship Cove, year in review!

January 2009

It was a very cold morning that prompted me to ask what we're doing about the homeless. Here it is a year later and I still can't tell you what we as a city are doing to help the homeless. Did the Mayor's task force ever come up with some ideas or solutions? It's a sad thing to have all these empty school buildings that we probably heat to some degree just to keep the pipes from freezing and realize there are people who are just trying to survive outdoors in the brutal cold.

It was also in January that I announced "Lefty for Mayor!" This was something I read in a comment on another blog and had some fun. I stated over and over again that I wasn't running but some people still seemed to take this seriously!

Fall River film maker, Jason Caminiti has his film Pawtucket Rising air on Rhode Island PBS.

February 2009

Mayor Correia proposes drastic (or draconian) pay cuts in light of the City's fiscal crisis. A View From Battleship Cove turns 3!

March 2009

The Abbey Grill closes its doors. The DESE report paints a bleak picture of our school department. Councilor Leo Pelletier changes his mind and states he is now for LNG in Fall River. Will Flanagan officially announces his campaign for Mayor. The rumbling of municipal layoffs begin to be felt.

April 2009

A slow month for me hear at the cove! The New York Times features Ines De Costa. The political season begins to heat up and a brawl on South Main Street makes police layoffs seem like a bad idea.

May 2009

Eric Poulin calls for our local delegation to hold a local meeting to explain potential cuts in the state budget. I rant about blogs, bloggers, and commentors. The tragic death of a DPW worker becomes political. A View From Battleship Cove publishes its 300th post.

June 2009

The city begins to make foolish union agreements to reduce costs by 8%. The School Committee submits a bare bones budget just to have the mayor reduce it further. A fire at the Oriental Chow Mein Company shuts down production. Mayor Correia gets into a little fender-bender and then shows how to make a mole hill into a mountain.

July 2009

I find a new favorite spot for seafood. An O Jornal introduces the idea of painting the braga bridge something other than green. The Herald's Marc Monroe Dion obsesses in story after story over what a waste of time it is. Eric Poulin toys with running for city council AND school committee. The FRC blog shuts down. Some questions come up about Bob's pay cut.

August 2009

I reflect a little on the impact of all the budget cuts. We finally see some candidate forums. The loss of Ted Kennedy makes me predict Joe for Oil will be our next senator (oops).

September 2009

Obviously with my bid for Mayor not going so well (see January) I announce "Lefty for City Council!". Bob Correia's bid for re-election isn't going so well either and he finds himself officially voted out of office.

October 2009

Fall River-tastic reports no short sea shipping in Fall River. Is it time to raise the drop out age? I vent about Flanagan over-support. A Cathy Ann victory seems certain!

November 2009

Upon reflection what an odd month! I spent a good deal of time recapping the mayoral election, alas I was wrong on the outcome of that one! The Navy makes "Big John" available, I ask why not Fall River? I defend the cranberry and suggest that maybe it's time we re-examine the need for FROED. At the suggestion of a friend I hype cyber-monday, which results in no sales.

December 2009

So here we are, it's the end of the year. Mayor Correia rewards his loyalists, and returning Councilor Mitchell suggests the need to safeguard against lame duck appointments. It rained on our parade and First Night quietly gets cancelled. Our property taxes are going up, despite the Herald's headline. The upcoming special election puts Fall River into a jam to find a elections official.

Falling Short

A few weeks ago I blogged that as a blogger I had a goal of blogging at least 4 posts a month and 100 posts for the year, now with the remaining hours of 2009 ticking away I realize I am one post short.

Oh the despair! As I look back I have to wonder couldn't I have cranked out one more post in April (Where I only posted 5.) or perhaps May or June (only 6 each!).

As the clock ticks away I wonder is there anything I could write about? Sure, but is there time to put a post together? On New Years Eve???

Hold on....

By blogging about how I failed in my quest, I've just reached 100!!

Happy New Years and the best in 2010!!

Impressed

If you're a regular reader of this blog you know that I was not a supporter of Will Flanagan for Mayor.

I felt he was inexperienced and as a candidate didn't offer much in the way of a platform or specifics.

Fall River is facing some really challenging times and I have concerns about having a 'rookie' at the helm.

But I have to say that I have been impressed over the last few weeks.

The Mayor-elect has stated that he feels the Durfee Textile building can be better utilized than the Peabody proposal. Nice words and ones that I certainly agree with, but he's gone further than and without the luxury of office has begun to take action that will hopefully reverse the deal.

He has with the help of Councilor Hague pushed for his strip club ordinance, again without the benefit of office.

He has vowed to look into recent Correia appointments and possibly undo them.

He has stated that he wants to keep the bus station downtown, which is really where it should be.

I'm not fooling myself. I know part of what impresses me here is that I find myself in agreement with Will on much of this. Still Flanagan has probably done a better job of showing where he stands and what he stands for in the last month did he did during the entire campaign.

Am I won over? No. I still have concerns about his ability to lead and his experience. But, I'm thrilled to see that Flanagan isn't waiting for 'day one' to get things going.

No First Night

There's no First Night this year? How did this happen?

Oh, I know! Money is tight and we can't afford it.

Bullshit.

We recently went through this, remember? last year?

We turned to the community and some dedicated people made it happen.

Why didn't that happen this year?

I blame Mayor Correia. I think Mayor Correia could have made this happen. He could have pulled together the business community and others to put together first night.

At its best First Night is dozens of venues to be sampled and taken in. It's a jazz trio in an intimate setting. It's a chorus singing show tunes in the library, and a folk singer singing in a downtown restaurant. It's 'ice skating' at Government Center while ice sculptors are being carved nearby and hot chocolate is being served to anyone who needs to warm up. It's Native American dancing at the Y and a magician at the Armory. It's fireworks cascading down the facade of Government Center.

I know times are tough, but I think that's when we need festivals and celebrations all the more.

SouthCoast Photo of the Month


Just one of my favorite shots from pictures I recently took at Fall River's Christmas Parade! See you all in 2010!
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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@gmail.com

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Does this make sense?

The Fall River Herald News has a story that is titled, "Fall River City Council reduces residential tax burden".

So I'm reading the article and here's what I get out of it....

The tax rates, if approved, are going up, from a residential tax rate of $8.06 to $9.05 and a commercial/industrial/personal tax of $17.45 to $19.80. This increase is needed because of a decrease in property values.

The Herald states the average tax bill would increase about $32.00.

How is this reducing my tax burden? The reality is my house is worth less yet my tax rate is increasing and my tax bill is going to go up!

In tough times I don't mind my tax bill increasing to allow for essential services and in fact think the city should have increased it slightly more to lessen the burden on businesses. The residential rates will increase by less than $1.00 while the commercial rates will increase by almost $2.50!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Parade


Surely the parade will be cancelled I thought. I was driving down 495 coming back from a breakfast with some former co-workers. The windshield wipers slapped back and forth rhythmically. Maybe, it will clear up I thought.


I made a couple of quick calls, nope as far as anyone knew the parade was still on.


I made my way home and grabbed by camera and then stopped to buy batteries because rechargeables are useless when you forget to charge them up. As I made my way to the register I grabbed an overpriced umbrella from a nearby rack.


Now, I was running late!


My first few attempts to get near downtown were absolute failures, roads were blocked, traffic a nightmare. I finally had some luck going around it all and managed to park off of Rock Street a few blocks from Government Center. The rain was steady and the wind whipped through the streets threatening to turn my umbrella inside out. As I approached the parade route I was taken aback, not by the parade, but by a SEA of umbrellas! There was a first, I thought.


There was a lot of hype about the "Macy-like" parade floats, well maybe too few and certainly too low to the ground! However if the parade planners are going to try to bring a Macy's flavor to our parade I'd like to suggest a reviewing stand where the bands and such could stop and do there act for local cable viewers. That way rebroadcasts and those watching from home would be sure to see everything.


As I watched the parade and attempted to stay dry, take pictures, keep the camera dry, I had to give a lot of credit to those who were in the parade. Overall it seemed pretty well attended and was an enjoyable parade!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Wanted Temporary Elections Official

It seems the special election to fill the seat of the late Ted Kennedy is causing some chaos here in Fall River!

From the Herald News:

"Camara will be out for most of the month of January while on medical leave for an undisclosed surgery. Camara said she scheduled the surgery before the dates for the special election had been determined and she expects to be back to active duty in February to oversee the city’s census collection efforts."

Oh boy, has this turned out to be a situation of bad timing! So according to the Herald News, the city is seeking proposals and has reached out to 3 former elections officials. Sadly this is going to add to the cost of the special election.

Still is seems some easy solutions are right at our fingertips.

1. Let the rest of the department pick up the slack! I know elections are important and all, but they could always consult with Adam Chapdelaine, assuming his sticks around for the Flanagan administration. On top of that does anyone really have any doubts how this election is going to turn out, especially in Fall River? Gee, am I going out on a limb to announce Fall River goes to Coakley?

2. Let Adam run it! Correia is OUT on of January 4th. Why not have Chapdelaine serve in the elections office for the special election and then he could be rehired to his current position afterwards? The drawback is Flanagan would either have to go with out a city administrator for a month, shifting those duties to others or have to find someone to fill in that role temporarily.

3. Bring back Maureen! I know, I know we have all come to the conclusion that Maureen Glisson couldn't handle the election of class president at one of our middle schools, but really, she's experienced, probably available, and except for one really botched preliminary election, seems to have been alright. On top of that she could always consult with Chapdelaine and gee, have I mentioned that this election is pretty much a given? Really how could she screw it up?

Oh, and remember folks this special election has been brought to you by your elected Democrats who didn't want then-Governor Romney appointing a Republican to fill in John Kerry's seat if he had become President. Maybe we should get THEM to pay for it!

Handcuffing the Mayor

Handcuffing the Mayor may bring a smile to the faces of his many detractors, but apparently it's an idea that hasn't met with much enthusiasm by the Herald News or the paper's online commentors.

City Councilor Ray Mitchell, who was voted back into office after an absence of almost 2 decades announced he would be proposing an ordinance once back in office that would limit the powers of a "lame-duck" Mayor.

The ordinance would restrict a "lame-duck mayor" from making appointments beyond 90 days. For those appointments were longer durations were needed City Council approval would be needed.

I think it's a good idea, and honestly one that I'm surprised isn't already in play. The Herald believes we don't need such laws and instead need leaders who put the city first, I think it's normal for an outgoing administration to try to find jobs for those who have been loyal. Furthermore I don't really have a problem with that, as long as the people are qualified and favoritism doesn't deny the job to a better candidate.

However, too often favoritism seems to trump all else! How can Mayor Correia fill a position that was vacant for his entire administration? Suddenly with a budget crisis this is a necessary position? Obviously not. Ideally our leaders would always put the best interests of the city and the people ahead of political interests, but I don't think that has EVER been the reality.

It was once said about such patronage, "to the victor belong the spoils", apparently Bob Correia feels they belong to the loser too.

And that brings us back to Mitchell's proposed ordinance, it would protect us from such frivolous appointments and I think that makes a heck of a lot of sense!

The Quest for 100

Over the last few years I have given myself a goal as a blogger, 100 posts for the year. Why? Well 100 is just a nice round number I suppose.

The minimum I am comfortable with is 4 posts a month. I figure if you can write 4 posts a month, that kind of balances out to 1 a week. (It actually leaves you about 4 short but..) So, 100 posts puts me on a pace that is roughly equal to 2 posts a week. This makes me think I should raise the goal to 104 for 2010. It also makes me think there is no way I could do 2 posts a week, as TIME is always a factor.

Anyway 100 posts is the goal. I managed 125 posts in 2007 and 100 on the nose last year. However I suddenly find myself in a blogging drought with just a week or so to go! No doubt the Christmas rush has dipped into my blogging time. I find that my laptop is usually opened to Amazon.com and not A View From Battleship Cove. And I find myself a little disgusted to realize I haven't blogged since the beginning of the month!

Anyway, today's snowy weather may give me a chance to put some thoughts down, or maybe I'll just go sledding....

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Are you surprised?

Let's do the quick recap:

City Clerk, Carol A. Valcourt, announces her retirement
Mayor Robert Correia appoints Assistant City Clerk Alison M. Brett to Valcourt's position
Council secretary Colleen Taylor applies for the assistant position as does Correia’s director of communications Ines Leite.
Leite's application prompts the majority of the City Council to petition Brett to consider promoting Taylor to the Assistants position.
Brett is installed as the City Clerk and appoints Leite as her Assistant.

Are you surprised?

Honestly, I don't know if I am or not.

I am certainly not surprised to see the Mayor's people all of a sudden dropping into new positions. I was warned months ago to expect this if Bob were not reelected, and we've seen this before. I kind of wonder what plush job awaits Mayor Correia?

I think what I am surprised about is how this was all brought out into the open, with the public and the council expressing outrage at what appears to be a pretty easy connect the dots process. The Mayor appoints Brett, and Brett appoints Leite. Gee, this couldn't be some sort of political payback could it? Nah, of course not. The Herald News asserted as much, seven City Councilors seem to have thought as much. Still Brett appointed Leite.

Surprisingly it doesn't seem Brett made any attempt to explain why Leite was better qualified than Taylor. With all the controversy you would think some sort of statement explaining why Leite was given the job would be called for. Unless of course you don't want to publicly state why she was given the job.

Really, I sort of feel sad for Brett she was immediately put into a tough situation. She could appoint Leite and be accused to bowing down to Bob Correia, or she could appoint Taylor and be accused of bowing to the Council.

Lefty's View: Brett was put in a very difficult position, promote the Council's choice? or appoint the Mayor's? Honestly nobody comes away from this looking good. If for no other reason than to display some integrity in the office this position should have posted to avoid the perception of political favors.

I would urge the incoming Mayor to immediately review the resumes of all Correia personal who suddenly find themselves in new positions. Mayor Flanagan should immediately take action to remove anyone who is not qualified for the position they are now in.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cyber Monday!



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Shop today and get free shipping! Be sure to check out all of the A View From Battleship Cove merchandise available at Zazzle.com

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Conflict of Interest?

A comment on a recent post brought up an interesting question...
 
Anonymous said...



I noticed Sterile Snooze Editor Lisa Strattan's Boyfriend Jimmy Mathes is on the mayor's transition team.
Doesn't that failing paper know what a conflict of interest is?


7:34 PM, November 25, 2009

Does this constitute a conflict of interest? It's an interesting question. The original comment sadly included a derogatory comment that has fueled comments all on its own. In order to focus attention on whether this is a conflict of interest and to bring people into the conversation that may not have followed the original comment thread, I am posting the relevant comments here.

I noticed Sterile Snooze Editor Lisa Strattan's Boyfriend Jimmy Mathes is on the mayor's transition team.




Doesn't that failing paper know what a conflict of interest is?

7:34 PM, November 25, 2009

Anonymous said...

The real issue isn't...what is the issue is the conflict of interest...this is why The Herald News has zero credibility, no trust, no value in the community

10:35 AM, November 26, 2009

Anonymous said...

You can't blame Lisa Strattan for this conflict of interest. Mayor Flanagan asked Jim Mathes to be on his transition team and Jim accepted. How is Lisa Strattan to blame for that? How could Lisa Strattan prevent that? Certainly she can't prevent people from accepting the Mayor-elect's invitation.

5:42 PM, November 26, 2009

Anonymous said...

You can't blame Lisa Strattan for this conflict of interest. Mayor Flanagan asked Jim Mathes to be on his transition team and Jim accepted. How is Lisa Strattan to blame for that? How could Lisa Strattan prevent that? Certainly she can't prevent people from accepting the Mayor-elect's invitation.

You can't prevent it if you're an insecure woman who does ANHTHING her boyfriend says. She sed to cover up for the Herren boys wen she was with Al, now this. You can bet The Sterile Snooze will believe anything Jim Mathes believes. In a REAL relationship, one partner could say, "Don't take the post, it's against my ethics."

I guess this is payback for he Sterile Snooze endorsement.

7:13 PM, November 26, 2009

Anonymous said...

The ISSUE is Strattan's conflict of interest

7:25 AM, November 27, 2009

Lefty said...

That said, let's try to refrain from name calling.

That said, I really don't see this as a conflict of interest on the part of Lisa or Herald News. If Lisa herself were part of the transition team that would be different.

9:02 AM, November 27, 2009

Anonymous said...

A newspaper editor should not have a live-in boyfriend serving on the transition team of a mayor endorsed by the newspaper of which she is editor. That is a conflict of interest

7:33 PM, November 27, 2009

Anonymous said...

The last commenter stated it well and that's the way it should've been stated originally when someone was making their case but when you use certain words it does take away from the point you are trying to make and does become an issue. Extremely insulting and degrading language is never needed in a debate. I agree that sexist, degrading remarks should be stricken from the record Lefty. Unless you want people to feel that this is a safe community to sign on and spread hate.

11:28 AM, November 28, 2009

Anonymous said...

The ISSUE is Strattan's unethical behavior but her supporters want to discuss sexism because the behavior is unethical.

9:30 PM, November 28, 2009

Anonymous said...

I found this on the Society of Professiojnal Journalists Web Site

Is this just sexism, too?

Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know.

Journalists should:

—Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.

— Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.

— Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.

— Disclose unavoidable conflicts.

— Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.

— Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.

— Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.

10:18 PM, November 28, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Big John at Battleship Cove

Recently Fall River-tastic featured a post about having a tournament for the board game Battleship at Battleship Cove aboard the USS Massachusetts. One of the commentors made a keen suggestion:


Anonymous said...

What about a Battleship board game where the pieces represent the actual ships that are at Battleship Cove? You could have the Joseph P. Kennedy destroyer, the submarine, etc.

The problem is in game of Battleship you have an aircraft carrier, but there is no aircraft carrier at Battleship Cove. At least not yet!

The U.S. Navy is looking to donate the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy, to a good home, for use as museum or memorial. Hey we've got one of those!

Adding the USS John F. Kennedy to the fleet at Battleship Cove is an idea that deserves very seriously consideration. The "Big John" would add to the prestige of Battleship Cove and certainly secure its reputation as the world's largest historic naval ship exhibit. Considering that President Kennedy was from Massachusetts and that the destroyer named for his brother is already part of Battleship Cove, could there be a more fitting site?

When the Kennedy visited Boston in 2007 she attracted 40,000 visitors! The amazement and curiosity that surrounds these vessels has helped create 5 aircraft carrier museums, with a 6th on the way. However the Kennedy at Battleship Cove would be unique because of all the other ships that you could visit. The Kennedy would bring renewed interest to Battleship Cove and give those who have visited incentive to come back. With the USS John F. Kennedy and USS Joseph P. Kennedy at Battleship Cove we would have the opportunity to work with the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library to create exhibits that would not only interest those with a fascination in naval history but also those interested in the history of our country.

Not to mention we would also have all the pieces we need to play Battleship.



Monday, November 23, 2009

Cranberry Imposter

What the hell?! Here it is DAYS away from Thanksgiving, the all-American holiday and what do I see in Saturday's Herald News? An article making the case for a cranberry stand-in, the lingonberry!

Now, the article was an Associated Press article and not written by a local reporter, so maybe in some parts of the country this article makes sense but here in Massachusetts it's just blasphemy! Cranberries are TRADITION! And that tradition started right here in good ol' Massachusetts where the first Thanksgiving took place. When that first feast took place it is widely believed that cranberries, not lingonberries, were at the dinner table.

Why in the world would the Herald run such a stupid article when the cranberry is the official fruit of Massachusetts?! Why would they run this article AGAINST the cranberry when Massachusetts is the second largest producer of cranberries in the United States!! Is the Herald trying to put cranberry farmers out of business? Workers out of jobs??

OK, seriously I am not THAT outraged, but I did think it was a weird article to have here in Massachusetts.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fall River Thoughts

Will Power

Originally I was going to do a post just on Mayor-elect Flanagan naming his current boss, Steven Torres, as his Corporation Council. It's an interesting choice. I would imagine that after working for him for 3 years our next Mayor feels that Torres is both qualified and someone he can work with. Yet, the role reversal is something that may prove awkward and could make for a difficult working relationship. I have to assume this is something both men have discussed and feel it will be a non-issue. Torres has been Taunton's City Solicitor for the past 10 years as has received praise as he announces he's leaving. I'm not sure why he would want to leave Taunton, where he has some security for Fall River where he might be out of a job in 2 years.

Flanagan has wasted no time getting the ball rolling. He won't be Mayor for over a month yet he has already named his Corporation Council and now with the help of outgoing Councilor Ray Hague is introducing an ordinance to restrict strip clubs in the Spindle City. I think Flanagan is right to assume that the city can't wait another month or so to put something in place. There is no doubt that his ordinance, if passed, will result in a legal challenge to the city. Still, I think it's a challenge worth facing. After all it's a legal CHALLENGE and the city could prevail.

Peter Pan

I find it amusing that a threatened strike by Peter Pan Bus Lines is in the papers just days before the Kuss Middle School is staging a production of Peter Pan! While the pending strike may pose a hardship for holiday travelers my advice would be stay home and see the play.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner…

This morning I heard 'Happy Hec' on WSAR mention that the Salvation Army is 1,000 turkeys short of what they need for this Thanksgiving. They could also need non-perishable items and could use monetary donations. Times are tough and the thought of 1,000 area families going without a holiday meal is sobering. If you have the ability to help contact our local Salvation Army, I'm sure they would appreciate it.

SouthCoast Photo of the Month


I wish I could remember more details about this photo. The truth is I came across it while uploading photos off of my camera which I hadn't done for some time. Anyway, another shot of Fall River's unappreciated waterfront. I've taken several over the years as I usually find myself down on or near the river.
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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@gmail.com

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Keeping a roof over the unemployed

The papers have been full of stories discussing Representative Barney Frank's proposal to give loans to unemployed homeowners struggling to stay in their homes. The money for this proposal would come from the interest the Fed collects from the financial industry bailout.

I can't really argue against this. In theory we're not talking about a handout, but really a hand up. One of the things we need to do to stabilize our economy is to stabilize our housing market and that's a tough goal with foreclosures ticking upwards.

The problem I do have is that all these government plans seem designed to help people who are already in trouble. Having trouble paying your mortgage and you're out of work? The GOVERNMENT will step right in to assist you. Having trouble paying your mortgage and you've fallen several payments behind? The GOVERNMENT will step right in to help you refinance at rates you can afford. Having trouble keeping your head above water, but your working and your paying your mortgage on time? The GOV-E-RN.., .... um... I don't think there's a plan for that.

There are thousands of Americans, hell there are probably MILLIONS of Americans who are facing tough times and struggling to get by paycheck to paycheck. Where's the help for us?

Gee, I wouldn't mind refinancing at a more affordable rate so I had some extra cash to pay down my bills, invest in home improvements, maybe buy some essentials. I'm not talking about the Government throwing me some cash so I can get a new Lincoln or something. I'm saying that there are a lot of people who haven't sunk but they're taking on water and wouldn't it make sense to help them out BEFORE they go under?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

As FROED looks to expand its base, maybe we should look in a different direction.

Good news the source of Fall River's economic turnaround, the key to our Renaissance is offering its assistance to our neighboring communities!

That's right the Fall River Office of Economic Development "broadening its base to include the surrounding towns of Freetown, Somerset, and Westport".

Oh Joy! Really this sounds like General Motors announcing they are purchasing Chrysler! I don't want to be unfairly critical but what exactly has the FROED done in it's roughly 30 years of existence?

Really, it seems that the usual FROED announcement involves a few low paying jobs with the potential for MORE low paying jobs. Honestly Fall River is depressed, low wages, low rent, low property values. We do not need an agency to help exploit the city. What we need an agency that can work to find companies that will benefit from what we have here and at the same time bring the things we need to build on.

I just don't see FROED doing that.

You know several other "Gateway Cities" seem to be doing better than Ol' Fall River without the help of a quasi public office of economic development. Fall River-tastic recently posted that Ken Fiola, the head of the Office of Economic Development makes roughly $170,000 a year. Shamrock points out that Taunton's equivalent about $70,000. What Shamrock didn't point out is that the combined salaries for that office is just under $200,000 or that the budget for the entire department (including salaries) is about $250,000. Lowell has a staff of 5 handling economic developement at a cost of rougly $270,000 and pays its head about $75,000. In New Bedford the head of economic development makes roughly $100,000.

Let's recap here, Ken Fiola makes $170,000 and his counterpart in Lowell makes $75,000, in Taunton $70,000, and in New Bedford $100,000. These other communities are arguably doing better than Fall River so what benefit do we really get from FROED? What is the budget for the office of economic development? $800-900,000 a year? (By the way, I'm told FROED has been running at a deficit for the last 4 years!!) Taunton is spending 1/3 that! Maybe instead of watching FROED expand what we need to do is sever our ties to the organization and look for some grant money to fund an in house municipal department instead. One that is focused on Fall River and accountable to residents of the city.

Election Day Thoughts - Part III

OK, I'll admit I was shocked by the election results for Mayor. Not just by the decisiveness but just overall the result.

I didn't expect Will Flanagan to win.

Don't get me wrong, I knew he had a loyal following and I knew he had gotten all these endorsements. But, almost everyone I talked to seemed to feel the same way I did, that Will was all cliche with no substance. I'm not just talking about friends but neighbors, co-workers, people I struck up conversations with in the corner store.

Case in point, I speaking with someone at a variety store and they tell me they had gone to a coffee hour for Will the night before. This person's opinion? He didn't answer questions he talked around them.

This was typical. I didn't walk up to people and say "Flanagan sucks, who are you voting for" I usually asked people who they thought would win or who would be a better mayor. Most people I talked to had the same doubts that I have. So I really figured when people stepped into the voting booth they would trust experience more than 'hope'.

Why did Will win?

Ric Oliveira in the O Jornal has an article that talks about the turning point being when will publicly stated his pride in his Portuguese heritage. He also makes an observation comparing Will to JFK and Cathy Ann to Ronald Reagan. I don't want to misrepresent his opinion and I would urge you to read it for yourselves, but I personally didn't really agree with it. So, it made me ask myself the question, why did Will win?

Well, I think a big part of it was Will was a candidate a lot longer than Cathy-Ann was. I think his campaign organization was already running in high gear before Cathy ever decided to announce. Will had no problems establishing himself as the outsider, the "change" candidate. On the other hand Cathy had a hard time standing out from from the other 'councilor-for-mayor' candidates. And while she may have out debated him every step of the way but I think she had a hard time living down her earlier support of Mayor Correia. I think Will ran a better campaign than she did. From the slick commercials, the post-it ads on the Herald. Certainly he had more money to do this with in the final stretch.

In the end, I suppose it doesn't matter so much why or how he won as much as the fact that he did win. Good luck to Mayor-elect Flanagan. I certainly would not want to step into the Mayor's office in such a difficult time. Come January Will Flanagan will be our new mayor. Let's hope, hope is enough.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Change...it aint' a comin'

If anyone thought a new mayor would mean a new direction for Fall River they don't have to look any further than the City Council to realize that isn't going to happen.

Not only is every incumbent City Councilor who ran for re-election returning for another term, but City Council President Joe Camara has made it clear he WILL be remain in that role.

Just great, Camara has provided such inspired leadership as the Council President another term is JUST what this city needs! Joe has shown great ability in being arrogant and rude to both fellow councilors and citizens addressing the council. How could this get any worse? Oh, I forgot Linda Pereira will be elected as the Council Vice President.

What really gets me about all of this is that the election JUST took place. It's been less than one week and already the incumbent council is ready to put their support in good ol' Joe. Are they afraid that new leadership might reveal just how badly they've done their jobs?

Honestly if I were a City Councilor I would want to hear from those who were seeking the presidency and get an idea of who I thought would be the effective leader. Why doesn't this happen?

The fact that the majority of the council has already decided that Joe Camara should remain as Council President is a troubling sign that they are fine with that status quo and not only unreceptive to change but even unwilling to listen.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Election Day Thoughts Part II

It only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades....


Being elected to the council is a lot like hitting a home run in baseball, it doesn't matter how far it goes as long as it clears the wall. Still, it's interesting to take a look at the vote totals in the City Council race and really get an idea of just how well people did.


If you look at the vote totals of all 18 candidates there are three distinct drops in the vote totals. The top 4 candidates, Mitchell, Pelletier, Kilby and Poulin are all within 250 votes of one another. Then there is a drop of over400 votes between Poulin (6837) and Bigelow (6414). Also in this second tier is Camara (6366) and Pereira (6352). After Linda there is yet another dip, this time by over 800 votes between her and Pat Casey (5520). Now here is where it gets interesting because in this third tier you have Casey (5520) and Lund (5416), but then you have 2 challengers who really just missed the cut, Dennis (5376) and Miozza (5282). After Miozza there is a third dip of over 560 votes between him and Kris Bartley and after Bartley the drops are more gradual between each candidate.


What does this mean? It means that even with all her years on the council and even with all his spending over the final weeks Casey and Lund were very vulnerable. It means that if both Dennis and Miozza could have gotten just 250 more votes they would have finished 8th and 9th and Pat and Mike would be wondering what to do after January. Hopefully it will make these two councilors work harder than before. It means that with only 38% of the voters turning out to vote the potential to vote in some new faces was there. It means the next time somebody tells me nothing ever changes and that we keep voting in the same people and then they admit that they didn't vote, I'm going to punch them in the nose.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Election Day Thoughts Part I

WARNING - OBJECTIVITY MAY HAVE BEEN THROWN OUT THE WINDOW!

Well it's over. All the build up over the last several months has come to a climax for some there is the warm afterglow of a hard fought race won, for others the bitter aftertaste off defeat. Let's rundown some of the noteworthy events of last night.

The Grassroots Candidate

He's young! With fresh ideas and doesn't believe in 'politics as usual' and last night the voters voted him into office!

Of course I'm talking about Eric Poulin! Eric's election is really one to scratch your head about. Did you hear tons of Poulin ads on WSAR? Me either. Did you see tons of Poulin signs? Did you see ANY Poulin signs? Bumper stickers? It seems Eric ran the ultimate grass roots campaign. He showed up to all the different functions, tried his best to get his platform out there and relied on word of mouth and the reputation he has from 2 years ago. And it worked! I think having Eric Poulin on the City Council is a step in the right direction for Fall River, but how he got there should puzzle those candidates who ran a 'traditional' campaign.

Retreads

Last night the voters of Fall River also welcomed back two former City Councilors in Brad Kilby and Ray Mitchell. Now personally, I don't believe in term limits so philosophically I have no issues with 'retreads'.

I like Brad and thought he was one of the better councilors, but I'm disappointed how easily he got his seat back. Kilby hardly campaigned at all and honestly I think if you want the job you need to get out there and prove you deserve it. This isn't really a knock on Kilby, it's more of a knock on the people of Fall River for not demanding more from a familiar name.

On the other hand I don't know if anyone campaigned harder than Ray Mitchell. Mitchell seemed to be everywhere. It is really no exaggeration to say that you could see Ray waving to you on your commute to work and then waving to you as you made your way back home. Ray has been away from the council for almost 2 decades, so you really have to tip your hat to all the hard work that went into an amazing first place finish.

Mr. October

Nothing annoys me more than Mike Lund's return to the City Council. Mike "I was to busy to campaign this summer" Lund kicked his campaign into high gear after being the only incumbent to finish out of the top 9. Lund ads and mailers started popping up all over the place using the clever acronym L.U.N.D - Leadership Under New Direction, at the same time he still displayed campaign signs all over the city with the same non-existent web address from 2 years ago. I had a friend correctly point out that I should be angry at the incumbents who were not bothering to campaign at all. Believe me I am, but there is something that is so 'in your face' about deciding to do it only after realizing your seat isn't safe. This same friend pointed out that Lund stood up to some pretty severe harassment during the whole fire chief issue and this is true too. But he is also the same guy who advocated expanding the Arts Overlay District down to Ferry Street where his family has a vested interest! Lund has hardly been the worst City Councilor but that is hardly anything to brag about.

Vote out the incumbents!

This is the cry I've heard at least for the last 4 years. Vote out the incumbents it's time for new faces! The reality is we get very few new faces and vote out even fewer incumbents. In the general election there was exactly ONE incumbent voted out of office, School Committeeman Tim McCoy. There's your change folks. The school department is in chaos and only 1 committeeman has paid the price. I'm not sure voting Tim out was the answer. Considering the chaos why was he the only one? Weak field? Poor attendance?

More thoughts later......

Friday, October 30, 2009

Questions and Answers on Fall River Blog

Eleven days ago I reached out to both candidates and submitted to them, via email, three questions that I hoped they would be willing to answer. I asked for them to please submit their answers by October 26th.

The 26th came and not hearing back from either candidate I then reached out to people that I knew were supporting them. After reaching out to the candidates supporters I got word back that Cathy would submit responses to the questions but obviously not in my original timeline. I heard nothing from Will's camp.

I wish both candidates had been willing to participate, particularly since this was inspired partly by a commentor who questioned if I had reached out to Attorney Flanagan.

Since Councilor Viveiros has taken the time to respond I will post all 3 questions and her responses on Fall River Blog. At this point because I have not heard from Attorney Flanagan or his campaign, I will not accept and will not publish his responses. I believe to do so AFTER his opponents answers have been published would be unfair and unethical.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Political Satire

Back when John Kennedy ran for President it was decided that he needed a snappy, catchy little jingle, something that would stick in people's heads. Well who better to turn to than Jack's friend Frank Sinatra! Didn't Frank have that catchy little hit? Couldn't the lyrics be worked over for a Kennedy commercial? You betcha!

Fast forward 40 some odd years later and here is Will Flanagan running for mayor. He sounds a bit like a Kennedy and he's got that irish last name. Gee, a catchy jingle might be just the thing for a radio ad and since he seems to be trying evoke a Kennedy connection why not use "High Hopes"?

Now recently someone submitted a parody of "High Hopes" and since political satire is practically as much a tradition as elections and since these commercials annoy me to no end I've decided to post it up on Fall River Blog.

At the same time I can't help but notice that Flanagan's newest commercial uses a quote from Robert Kennedy and that Will quoted RFK in yesterday's radio forum. This has led me to attempt a little satire of my own. So, in the style of David Letterman...

Top 10 reasons that I am convinced that Will is taking his comparisons to a Kennedy too seriously.

10. In a recent speech remarked that he was the man who went with “Jackie” Flanagan to New Bedford

9. Has told insiders that Chicago will vote Flanagan

8. This summer when he saw Fall River’s working class enjoying the Taunton River he referred to it as “the Bay of Pigs”

7. Has begun stating in speeches "Ich bin ein Fall Riverite!”

6. Frank Sinatra campaign song!

5. Recently applied for the vanity plate PT-109

4. Has promised to lead Fall River to the “New Frontier”

3. Strange attraction to “Marilyn” Roderick

2. Like Kennedy wears makeup in debates

1. Refuses to vacation in Dallas!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Reaching Out

I received a recent blog comment that stated,

"Anonymous said...
Lefty:If Cathy Ann wins it will be a shocker. The people voted Bob Correia out of office on 09/15 and there is no way they will replace her with CAV. And Lefty have you spoke with Mr. Flanagan or reached out to him to see where here stands on the issues that matter to you?"

So I decided to do just that. I submitted 3 questions to both candidates and asked for them to submit their responses by today and that I would post the questions and the answers on Fall River Blog.

So far neither candidate has replied, which while a bit disappointing is not really a surprise. I know our local politicians don't quite know what to make of local bloggers.

Still, I think the questions were worth asking and deserving of an answer. I'll post them here for you decide and if you get the chance maybe you can ask the candidates yourself.

Question One

Considering the city's limited financial resources and the likelihood of further cuts to local aid, as Mayor what would you do in the first year of your administration to move the city forward?

Question Two

Considering the city's limited financial resources, and the likelihood of further cuts to local aid, as Mayor how will you maintain or increase current staffing levels of our public safety workers?

Question Three

Considering the importance of redevelopment and economic development to our city's future, as Mayor how will you utilize the Fall River Office of Economic Development and the Redevelopment Authority? How do you feel those agencies can be improved and made more transparent and accountable?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dropout Age

I came across an article on Mass Live.com that makes the case for raising the dropout age to 18. This is something that I have advocated for years!

By raising the age to 18 our educators will be given more time and hopefully more options to address the needs of an at risk student. There is a belief that too often a struggling student enters high school with the mindset that 16, the age they can currently dropout, is the goal, not a high school diploma.

Raising the age to 18 is not by itself going to make all our students high school graduates, but it's a start.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Who are you voting for and WHY?

November 3rd is coming up fast! Have you decided who you are voting for Mayor? for council? for school committee?

Over the last few months I've read, here and on other blogs and the Herald News comment section, comments stating who people were NOT voting for. So the question is who are you voting for, and why?

Instead of knocking down the candidates you don't like, take a minute to plug someone you think deserves your vote and ours too!

Cathy Ann Wins!

The poll on Fall River Blog is over and the majority have selected Cathy Ann Viveiros for the next mayor of Fall River with 53% of the vote. Will Flanagan finished with 35% of the vote and 9% voted for "none of the above".

SouthCoast Photo of the Month


Are you a photographer? Do you have a picture your proud of? Submit it here at A View From Battleship Cove for all the see! aviewfrombattleshipcove@gmail.com

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Winner and Loser in last nights Mayoral Debate!

The big winner in last night's debate has to be Fall River Community Television. FRCTV has really proved that they are determined to be a major news source during local elections. I think we saw a big push in their election coverage in 2007 which has expanded in 2009 with candidate websites and the ability to watch content online.

Last night as Cathy Ann Viveiros and Will Flanagan squared off at the auditorium of the new Kuss Middle School people listened intently to their answers, not from the seats of the auditorium but from their homes or work. FRCTV's coverage allowed people to be engaged in local government. Their coverage allowed this debate to be viewed on television OR streamed on their computer.

Last night, I was not able to attend and I was not in Fall River to watch this on TV. I was thrilled at the ability to watch this on my computer. Moments before the debate started I thought to myself that FRCTV has really become a prominent source for election coverage.

And then.....


It didn't work. Oh, it did here and there. Occasionally the sound would disappear and then comeback and then the whole thing would drop out for minutes at a time. Sadly, it seemed to not work more than it did work, making my viewing experience disappointing at best. I think these technical difficulties also make FRCTV last night's loser too. Still the potential is exciting and I hope this is the start of more local coverage available online.

So, who won the debate last night? Feel free to share your opinion and tell us why.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Who should be Fall River's next Mayor?

Who should be Fall River's next Mayor? Vote in the poll on Fall River Blog!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Sick of Flannagan Supporters

Sick of Flannagan Supporters, that's the screen name someone recently used to leave a comment on the blog.

I'm starting to share the sentiment. Will Flanagan seems like a pretty nice guy. He comes across well, and speaks with a Kennedy-esque style, (although a somewhat wooden one). He promises change because he's the 'outsider' and not a 'career politician' or some such.

However, and this may come as a shock to his supporters, Will Flanagan is not perfect.

A perfect example is the story is today's Herald News. Will is accusing Cathy Ann of making deceptive and misleading statements. This basically boils down to Will in last Monday's debate saying that he would repeal the "rain tax" and make up the revenue by refinancing the loans for the CSO project. In response Cathy Ann said those loans were at 0%, which is not completely true. Only one of the loans is at a 0%, so Cathy Ann deserves to get a little grief here and she's getting it on the Herald News comment section. But, what caught my attention was this:

Flanagan said he has been in contract with banking leaders and legal firms
to determine the savings that could be produced by refinancing the CSO-related
loans. He said it had not yet been determined what those savings would be.“We’re
still crunching the numbers,” Flanagan said.

Hold on! He is saying this is how he will make up the revenue and he doesn't even know what the savings would be! He's crunching numbers!!

Isn't that a little deceptive??

Also why did Will wait 4 days to to bring this up? It sounds to me like he hadn't done his homework and had to do some quick studying to figure out if Viveiros was right or not.

By bringing it up now he has given Viveiros the opportunity to expand on her answer:

She said Thursday she is aware there are a variety of loans, which she said
ranged from zero percent to 2 percent, but that producing savings from those
loans would not make a significant difference.“We have gotten the best rates we
can expect, and to suggest that raising $5.2 million through restructuring debt
is naive and not reflective of an awareness of the financial markets,” Viveiros
said.

He also gave her the chance to nail him on another point:

The city councilor also said Flanagan’s idea to increase sewer rates on
out-of-town users, as he stated at the forum, is not legal because the city’s
wastewater treatment plant was built as a regional facility and included
conditions to make the plant available to other users.“If we try to breach that
contract we’d be in court, and that is not a good use of tax dollars,” Viveiros
said. “We have so many better things to spend our money on than court expenses.”


Will states that he is trying to bring fresh thinking to the Mayor's office but:

“By refinancing our debt and by extending our payments on the CSO program
we as a city will be better situated to protect our citizens during these
tough economic
times,”


This isn't fresh thinking, we've refinanced loans before, and I personally am not in favor of extending our payments. Fall River has a terrific amount of long term debt and we need to pay things off and free up capital not extend the payments and handicap future administrations. He now brings up a second proposal that seems guaranteed to get us into court. I suppose he'll offer to fight this one himself too! Will Will ever have time to run the city?

After the primary WSAR asked both candidates how they would deal with more 9C cuts in the next fiscal year and Will responded that we need to make Fall River less dependent on state aid. Well THAT is not happening in the next 6 months!

Like I said before Will seems like a really nice guy but Fall River is in tough shape. I've heard lots of rhetoric from Will. I have heard lots of support and proposals for ideas that are already on the drawing board (taking down Rt. 79 and a Green Park come to mind). What I haven't heard is anything that makes me think he is ready to run a city of 90 thousand with a 200-220 million dollar budget.

This isn't some endorsement of Cathy Ann Viveiros, because neither of these candidates were my choice in the primary. And I keep waiting for Will to convince me that he's the guy. I keep trying to figure out what makes his supporters so loyal. Perhaps it would help if they would take of the rose colored glasses and admit that Will's not perfect.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Short Sea Shipping, Long-term Outrage

Shamrock over at Fall River-tastic has just blogged that Fall River will not be in the running for federal stimulus money to develop a short sea shipping port.

Why?

Well according to the source of this information, the Providence Journal, it's because the Commonwealth chose between "two competing proposals". In other words, facing competing proposals from New Bedford and Fall River, they decided to submit just the New Bedford proposal. Massachusetts could have submitted both proposals. Rhode Island submitted two.

What did we miss out on? Well first off, the influx of federal money that would have provided immediate jobs to our region. More importantly the opportunity to be on the cutting edge of something that could have huge implications on our local economy. The potential for between 500-1000 long term jobs. With a deep water port, and easy highway access Fall River seems perfectly positioned for short sea shipping.

It seems that this is something Fall River should have been in the running for, so where's the outrage.

Proposals needed to be submitted by September 15, 2009. So how long has our local leadership known we were out of the running? When did they first become aware of this opportunity? Where was the effort to show that Fall River was worthy of Federal consideration?

Why wasn't this all in Herald News weeks ago? Where was the outrage from Senator Menard or Representatives Sullivan, Rodrigues, and Aguiar? Why wasn't Mayor Correia holding press conferences urging the state to submit BOTH proposals?

Here's the opportunity to provide good paying jobs, stimulate our local economy and develop our waterfront and instead of fighting for this our leadership is fighting over whether the Braga looks better in blue or green?

WTF!

How do you drop the ball on this? It's not like Fall River didn't consider this a worthy project, good ol' Kenny Fiola is quoted saying :

“It’s a shame,” says Kenneth Fiola Jr., executive vice president of the Fall River Office of Economic Development. “The state should have applied for both and let the feds pick and choose.”

"It's a shame" my ass, what's a shame is that none of our "leadership" fought to make sure Fall River was included!

Did our City Council know? If so where was the resolution urging the Governor to include the Fall River proposal? If not, why not!? If the City Council wasn't aware of something this important than FROED isn't doing their job.

Why is the first mention of this from the PROVIDENCE JOURNAL and 2 WEEKS TOO LATE to make a damn bit of difference?!

This could have been and should have been something for the community to rally behind. This could have been Bob Correia's chance to be the white knight and get the city behind him. This should have been our local delegations chance to show they can get something meaningful done for Fall River. Instead all we can do is discuss how great the bridge will look in blue and whether or not nude dancing is good for our economy. Is it any wonder we're not getting ahead?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How are you sleeping?


How did you sleep last night? Did you keep one eye open and listen for any strange sounds in the middle of the night that might signal a home invasion?

Did you toss and turn worrying that your children may be abducted when they walked to school?

Did you have dreams of being at the bank or a convenience store during a hold up?

How are you sleeping? How are any of us sleeping?

These are not things from the nightly news that are taking place in far away places; these are things that are happening here in Fall River, in our neighborhoods.

Do you feel that maybe we need MORE police officers protecting our city and not less? Do you feel all the layoffs to public safety are not just catching up to us, but have snowballed past us?

Mayor Correia has stood by his decision as dreadful but necessary step in difficult times. I'm sorry Mr. Mayor but when you run on a slogan of "leadership that gets things done", I expect innovative solutions to difficult problems. Laying people off may be a difficult decision but it's the easy way out.

The problem is the budget situation isn't going to be any better for our next mayor and chances are it's going to get worse. How will our next mayor deal with another round of 9C cuts from the state? So far Cathy Ann has stated she would continue to follow her belief that cuts should start from the top. That's a good start but it will only take us so far. What then? I heard Attorney Flanagan state that Fall River needs to find ways to be less dependent on state aid. Nice sentiment and one that I share but it's not going to happen in the next few years, never mind the next few months. How about giving me some reality with your answer?

We have a month before one of these two becomes our next mayor and I think we it's about time we got the 'hows' to all the things they say they are going to do.

How are they going to make sure our city is safe? Our neighborhoods are safe? Our parks and schools are safe? How are they going to make sure our homes are safe?

My advice? Get a dog.

Lefty for City Council!

"So why does it matter if a blogger with an anonimous name is actually a candidate for city council?This is the best rumor of the year actually!"

"Since it is the best rumor of the year which city council candidate is it and which blog do they run? Fall River-tastic or A View from Battleship Cove? Do tell all knowing anonymous."

"well which ever blogger it is, they have my vote for city council !!"

- The above are comments from Fall River-tastic

There's a blogger running for City Council? Who is it? Is it me?!

Lefty for City Council!

I can tell you I will not be one of the choices on your ballot. I'm pretty sure Shamrock won't be either. However after thinking about it, if a laid off police officer can try to conduct a write in campaign on the merits of his sharing his opinions online over the last few months, well then heck, I've been sharing my online opinions for the last few YEARS!

Lefty for City Council!

So what would I do if elected?

I'd restore public safety, improve education, and bring jobs to Fall River! Hey it's a good enough campaign pitch for all the other candidates.

Serioulsy on November 3rd I urge you to vote for how ever many candidates you feel worthy of your vote, but if you have any left over feel free to write in Lefty for City Council!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Working for Change

Originally I was going to title this post, voting for change. I was going to discuss the preliminary vote totals and compare them to the 2007 preliminary vote totals as well as the results of the 2007 general election.

In 2007 most if not all the candidates gained votes in the general election. The top 3 remained the same but their vote totals all increased by roughly 1,500 votes. Without doing any real math I would say most of the top 12 gained between 1,000 - 1,500 votes.

There were a few candidates that really outperformed their peers and their worth noting because both are in a similar position this time around.

Joe Camara finished in 7th place in 2007's preliminary, yet rose to 4th in the general election. Joe increased his vote total by over 2,300 votes.

Mike Lund jumped for 10th to 7th and increased his vote total by roughly 2,600 votes.

In 2009 Lund again finished in 10th. In 2009 Joe Camara finished in 8th. Both walk into the into the final months of campaigning with a decent amount of money sitting in their campaign war chests.

There is all this talk about change, commentors on blogs and comment boards urging people to vote for new faces. Personally, I'm not going to tell you who to vote for. If you like Leo, think he does a good job, and represents you well, give him your vote. If you want change vote for non-incumbents. Perhaps that means voting for Kilby, Mitchell, and Poulin because they finished well and your support could help them lock up 3 of the top 4. Maybe that means voting for them AND the next 3 strongest non-challengers Dennis, Bartley, and Miozza.

Here's the thing. Your vote counts, but it's not going to create change all by itself. If you want to see real change well then you need to figure out how to get Dave, Kris and Mike an additional 2,500 - 3,000 votes.

If you want change, if you really want change you're going to have to work for it. Get involved in a candidate's campaign! Offer to hold a sign, pass out bumper stickers, or go door to door passing out information. Donate some money! If everyone who reads this post were to donate just $10 to a campaign it would generate enough money to put some ads in the paper or print up several hundred bumper stickers or buy some more yard signs. The point is, if you want change than these candidates need more than just your vote, they need your help too.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The downfall of King Bob and other election night observations

It used to be that once the polls closed interested citizens would sit listening to their radios for hours to find out what the results of the election were as each precincts results were tallied. Last night it took less than an hour to find out that Bob Correia's bid for a second term had come to an end.

As I listened on and off to WSAR's election coverage last night I was a little taken back by the sentiment that this was somehow completely unexpected. If you're really in the dark on how Bob possibly could have lost let me break it down for you.

Certainly Mayor Correia is not responsible for tough economic times and state cuts in local aid, but people do blame him for not doing more to 'cut from the top' and find areas of waste to cut from. People blame him for not working harder to find ways to preserve public safety workers and educators.

Also despite multiple statements of wanting to be a leader that works with others and unites the city, he really has done just the opposite. Several times Mayor Correia has shown that the only opinion he is interested is his own. He demonstrated this by single-handedly deciding to name 2 schools, by disregarding the will of over 7,000 voters, and most recently by clearly ignoring the will of the City Council to provide more funding to our school department.

Mayor Correia has done little to come off as anything but insensitive, arrogant, and imperialistic.

I'm not shocked but I am a little surprised.

Still, Mayor Correia finished 3rd, and less than 300 votes from making it into the final 2, why didn't he do more to win? The Mayor is sitting on a huge campaign war chest, where were the ads and the radio spots? I have to think he could have gotten those votes with a good advertising strategy.

So the final 2 are Cathy Ann Viveiros and Will Flanagan. Honestly I figured Cathy had an excellent shot for the final, but I didn't expect Flanagan to do so well. You have to give him credit for motivating 3000 people to vote for an unknown. I know lots of people are on board with Will, but I'm still at a loss to see why. Can he pull an upset in the final?

The City Council race also offered its fair share of surprises. Leo proved that not even supporting LNG can dent his popularity and the voters indicated that change is good but experience is better. I was surprised that Brad Kilby and Ray Mitchell came in second and third place respectively. With Ray, I can at least attribute it to a hard fought campaign, but I'm disappointed that the voters gave Kilby such an easy time of it. I like Brad and I don't have issues with him returning to the council, but I expect my candidates to work hard to tell me where they stand on the issues and Kilby just has not done that. I'm pleasantly surprised to see Eric Poulin in the top 5, while I thought Eric would do well I didn't expect him to finish 4th. (And BOO to the Herald News for saying he finished 5th and to WSAR for repeating it!) Brian Bigelow in 5th place also comes as quite a surprise. I didn't think Brian did much to distinguish himself, the voters thought differently. Just as surprising is Joe Camara finishing 8th. I figured some incumbents might take a beating, I didn't expect Joe to be one of them. And congratulations to Dave Dennis for cracking the top 9.

Out of the top 9, in 10th place is Mike Lund. Normally I would say an incumbent out of the top 9 probably means the end of his or her tenure on the council. However, Lund is pledging to work hard over the next couple of months and that and an obscene amount of money probably means he'll finish in the top 9. Finishing in 11th is Kris Bartley followed by Mike Miozza in the number 12 spot. (Oh, and the Herald had their vote totals wrong!) Both are in striking distance but will need to worker harder than ever to get a seat on the council.

The School Committee race has been a lackluster affair all year long, only one candidate was removed from consideration due to the small field of candidates running. It's noteworthy that Joe Martins finished in the top spot and that Rick Pavao did better than several incumbents.

Lefty's View: 13,901 of our city's residents voted last night. 193 did not vote for Mayor. On average each voter voted for 3.4 school committee candidates and 5.2 city council candidates. Roughly 2/3 of our city's voters chose not to vote. Of those who did vote, they decided not to use over 36,000 school committee votes and over 66,000 city council votes.

There were enough uncast votes last night to put any candidate in the final election. If you're disappointed in some of the results from last night's election, it's clear the power existed to change it. The point is, votes do matter.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Voting thoughts

Tomorrow is the preliminary election! The votes you cast tomorrow will decide which candidates will move on to the general election.

If you're wondering which candidates to vote for when you step into the voting booth, let me share some thoughts with you.

School Committee

The last two years have not been good ones for our school system or our school committee. It seems our committee has spent much of their time looking to beat up our former Superintendent and chasing one money problem after another. Tie that in with a DESE report that was highly critical of our committee and it's tough to want to vote for any of them. On the other hand, most of the challengers have done little to set themselves apart.

Two candidates that I think are worth voting for are incumbent Joe Martins and challenger Rick Pavao.

In 2007 it was hard not to be impressed with Joe's resume. An experienced educator and administrator and the former Superintendent of Diman, Joe brings a wealth of needed experience to the school committee. He has been outspoken for public input and has shown a desire to an involved and informed member of the committee.

When Rick Pavao was the Superintendent of the Fall River Public School system he was well liked by teachers and administrators and responsive to parents. Rick's tenure was marked by several challenges and I think many of the recent successes of our school system can be attributed to decisions made on his watch. I think Rick's understanding of the day to day operations of our school system can only help our committee make better decisions.

City Council

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”

The old quote about insanity, would seem to perfectly apply to our city council. We keep electing the same people and we keep getting the same results, no forward movement. In 2009 I'm not voting for a single incumbent. Thankfully, unlike the school committee race there are several good city council candidates to choose from.

Eric Poulin - Eric impressed the heck out of me in 2007. He easily had the best platform and seemed to know the issues better than his competition. Since 2007 Eric has remained involved in the community. Just like 2007 Eric is already talking about specifics. I think he could be an exciting voice on the council.

Mike Miozza - I've said it before, my biggest disappointment in 2007 was Mike not making the council. Nobody council candidate worked harder to communicate their platform. There was talk that Mike might not make another run, I'm glad that wasn't the case. Mike is a dedicated, hard worker. He is someone who is open minded and makes decisions after taking the time to research the issue. Mike deserves your every consideration for one of your city council votes.

Micheal Canuel - Canuel has done a good job of using the heartache of 2007, (missing the general election by just over 20 votes) as his tagline for 2009. Micheal hasn't won me over in 2009, but he has touted an idea that I think is a real winner. Canuel wants to develop a city council website that would allow the citizens to follow the agenda of the council and to research how they have voted on past council votes. It's a great idea and one that needs to be championed. Mike just might deserve a vote to give him some more time to make his case.

Ray Mitchell - It's interesting how Ray gets lumped in with Brad Kilby as two guys who have been there and are trying to return to the council. Although it's true that when Ray and Brad last served on the council Bush was president, in the case of Ray it was George H.W. and not his lackluster son. A big difference between Ray and Brad is Brad has been mostly absent from the campaign trail while Ray has probably worked harder than any other candidate. Ray gets my consideration for a few key reasons - 1.) He's experienced, he's been there before and can hit the ground running. 2.) He's got over a decade of experience on the F.R. School Committee and the Diman School Committee - which I think could be a benefit on the City Council.

Kris Bartley - Caught in a crowded field of new candidates Kris has done a better job of standing out then some of competition. Kris is someone that I would 'throw' a vote to because I like what I've heard and want to give him some time to hear more.

Mayor

Honestly I could probably support Ray, Cathy Ann or Will, but in the end I think Steve Camara is the best choice for Mayor. Fall River needs a leader who can move the city in a forward direction. Steve's urban policy education, his deep passion for the city, his belief in protecting its history and in embracing the arts are all qualities that I believe will help Fall River realize it's potential. Fall River needs a mayor that can not only talk about a future vision for Fall River, but one who believes it and understands what is needed to move in that direction and make it a reality.

So there you have it, here are some of my voting thoughts, feel free to share yours.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Plunking for Change

Tuesday, September 15th is election day and Fall River voters will have the chance to vote for:

1 Mayoral candidate
6 School Committee candidates
9 City Council candidates

I remember the first Fall River election I voted in. As I stood there in the voting booth I easily ticked off the the names of those candidates I knew I wanted to vote for, but then spent several agonizing minutes figuring out who I would give my remaining votes to.

At the time I felt that I had to use every single vote available to me, to do otherwise would be wasting a vote. But, afterwards I realized I had wasted my votes by giving them to candidates that I didn't believe in. The lesson I learned was to only vote for those people you really want to represent you.

Even then I have occasionally voted for a candidate I wasn't sold on, but because I liked them or felt they 'needed' a vote. In 2007 I voted for a handful of incumbents because I 'liked' them and have regretted it ever since as I believe these people have failed to stand up for the people of Fall River.

I'm not making that mistake in 2009. This year I am more committed than ever to only vote for candidates I WANT to see in office.

Now, I recently had a conversation with a friend who has a differing opinion. He feels that if you want to see change it's better to use all of your votes to vote for a slate of challengers. You can read his opinion on Fall River Blog.

Although we disagree on the method we both agree the best way to enact change is to vote only for challengers. Leo, Linda, Joe and the rest will get plenty of votes and will certainly make it through the primary election. Whether you decide to use your every vote or vote only for a particular few, if you want to see change you can't vote for the incumbents you have to vote only for the challengers!

Friday, September 04, 2009

WTF

In what has to be one of the funnier "headlines" in recent memory...

GUEST OPINION: WTF must be fully funded, 09-05-09

WTF! We're not fully funding WTF??!

With all the things that seem to be going wrong around here a WTF fund seems like something we SHOULD be funding!

Not enough money for firefighters and cops? WTF! Take 3 Million from the WTF fund. The roads need repair and our new snow removal policy is a moped with a snow shovel strapped to the front? WTF! Here's some money to take care of business.

Seriously WTF, at least in this case, stands for workforce training fund and the letter to the editor is perhaps worth a read and I think a better name. I however appreciated the chuckle.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Poulin Rally

If you voted for and supported Eric Poulin for Mayor in 2007, here is your chance to support his candidacy for City Council!

Rally with Eric Poulin Candidate for City Councilor
Friday, Sept. 4th 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Flaunt Lounge 32 Sixth Street Fall River
Catering by:Mesa 21
Donation: $20 per person
For tickets call: 508-558-8463
Now folks I try to stay objective and unbiased but over the last two years I have traded more than a few emails with Eric and one of the things that has always impressed me is his willingness to speak in specifics. Eric not only offers ideas but also the means to implement them. I have found him always willing to share his thoughts and receptive to my own.
If Eric is someone you're considering giving your vote to, please consider supporting him at his rally and with your donation.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

What's happening with the Chow Mein company?

"What's happening with the Chow Mein Company?" It's a question I get asked over and over. Sometimes by people visiting the blog, more often from friends and family who no longer live in the area and want to know when they will be able to get Fall River style chow mein.

An article on SouthCoastToday.com says construction is under way and a reopening should happen in 2 months! Let's hope for no delays!

Monday, August 31, 2009

SouthCoast Photo of the Month


Here it is August's SouthCoast Photo of the month! The end of August is sure sign that Summer is coming to an end and Fall is on the way. It seems like there is no better way to spend those final days at the beach. This photo by Alexey Sergeev captures the end of a perfect day at Horseneck Beach.
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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@gmail.com

Is it time to move?

Is Fall River as safe as it was just a few years ago? Are your kids getting the education they need? Are the potholes getting filled or the sidewalks getting fixed?

Municipal layoffs have resulted in less police on the streets, less firefighters to respond and less teachers to teach. The hours at Government Center have been cut and your trash isn't being picked up on time.

Is it time to move?

It's a question or sometimes a statement that I've been hearing more and more over the last several months. It hasn't been a constant drone, I don't see any mass exodus taking place, at least not anytime soon. But, there are people who saying things are not getting better and maybe it's time to move out of Dodge.

Lefty's View: Um... This is where I wrap things up and give you my opinion on what I think is right, but the reality is I think this is really a personal decision.. let me turn this orange text off..

Is it time to give up on Fall River? Honestly for some people a move is probably a good thing, they don't particularly like living here and don't have much faith in the city's future anyway. For others it is a painful decision. These are people who deeply love this city and have been proud to call Fall River their home. For both the reason for leaving is the same the need to seek out a better quality of life, for themselves and their families.

How can you blame anyone for that?

Honestly I love Fall River and am proud to call it home and promote it often. Still, I have to think it must be nice to live in Somerset, or Swansea or Westport. These towns just don't face the same issues as an urban city.

And I don't want to move, and if I did it currently isn't an option for me, and it's not an option for lots of people in the city. So, what do we do to make things better? How do restore public safety, improve education, and make our neighborhoods better places to live? The reality is, individuals can move out of the city but the residents here still deserve that same quality of life.

We cannot tolerate any more cuts in public safety, we cannot tolerate an educational system that is starting to lose the progress we have fought so hard to gain. As citizens we need to become involved in our community. We need elected leadership that believes in Fall River and will fight for and invest in its future.

Is it time to move? Yes, but for those of us that are not moving out it's time to move forward and not backwards.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Who will be our next Senator?

It's hard to believe Ted Kennedy is gone. Like him or hate him Senator Kennedy was a larger than life figure, a powerhouse in the senate, and a living link to the days of Camelot.

With the passing of "the Lion of the Senate" there seems to be a void that will be impossible to fill. Who can possibly replace Ted Kennedy? Who will be our next Senator?

Already there are names being thrown around, former Governor Mike Dukakis (on an interim basis), former Lt. Governor Kerry Healey (I can't imagine Massachusetts electing a Republican to fill Kennedy's seat!)

Of course there will probably be a long line of Democrats in contention too, but I think our next Senator will be Joe Kennedy.

Whether it's right or wrong there is a feeling that this seat belongs to the Kennedys, after all it's been held by the Kennedys for over 50 years. I can't imagine that there wouldn't be at least some talk and consideration about keeping it in the family. On top of that there is the sentiment that Senator Kennedy passed before he could accomplish all that he wanted to, might the Kennedy family feel that only a Kennedy could continue Ted's work and build on his legacy?

Now obviously this seat doesn't belong to one family, but instead to the people of the commonwealth, but Massachusetts has long had a love affair with the Kennedy family and I have to believe if a Joe Kennedy asks for a chance to complete his uncle's work, he'll get it.

After all, many of us can't remember a time when a Kennedy didn't represent Massachusetts.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Part II of Monday Nights Mayoral Forum's Quick Review

Part II of Monday Nights Mayoral Forum's Quick Review

LNG - If Mayor how would you continue the battle ?

CAV - She would use the Mayoral soap box

MA - Bring it in and lets get some revenue

SC - He fought LNG from being set up near Kennedy Park!

WF - "continue to stand" (has he really been active in the fight against Hess?) Would use the Mayoral Soap Box. Bob has been silent

RH- Opposed this proposal from day one! Would show strong resistance! (loud Mayoral Soap Box) Bashed Bob! Compared it to natural gas explosion in Somerset. Do we really need the scare tactic?

MA - 3 SC - 3 WF - 3 RH - 3 CAV - 3 (lackluster answers across the board)

Master Plan - How would the next mayor implement the Master Plan?

CAV - Would outreach to the citizens of Fall River. Noted the Master Plan has set actions and timelines. I think she's saying if we stick to the plan it will implement itself.

MA - Do in stages, other plans have just sat on the shelf. Master plans interfere with the plans of future generations, we should just create a good foundation.

SC - Other communities show the benefit of implementing, need to follow their example. Touts his background and education in Urban Policy. Stresses the need to design and evaluate, analyze and embrace and the importance of resource allocation.

WF - Mentions the ol' shelf and the need to implement the Master Plan

RH - states he would implement the Master Plan.

MA - 1 SC - 5 WF - 3 RH - 2 CAV - 4

Responsiveness - How would the next mayor make the city more responsive to the needs of the people?

MA - He would ask the neighborhoods what they need.

SC - Would create an atmosphere of R-E-S-P-E-C-T (sock it to me!). Would create a more transparent government will more information on the city website and more programming on the Government local access cable channel (all Steve all the time). Fall River jobs for Fall River people.

WF - People are losing hope would hold monthly meetings with neighborhood associations.

RH - He would tear down Government Center. (Is that helpful?) He would seek more State and Federal grants to improve service. No gag orders on department heads!

CAV - She give city residents a satisfaction survey. The citizens of the city are the government’s customers (really we're the boss but whatever) She too would hold regular neighborhood meetings and incorporate neighborhood work plans. All city employees would go through customer service training.

MA - 1 SC - 5 WF 3 RH - 2 CAV - 4

Historical Preservation - What would the next mayor due to preserve our history for our future?

SC - Stresses his activist work to preserve our past.

WF - Says we need to preserve, but doesn't say how, uses ensure a few more times.

RH - Believes we need to identify key properties and restore or rehab.

CAV - States that the Master Plan has provisions for this with the creation of a 40C district. States we need to enforce ordinances to delay demolition to allow time for historical consideration.

MA - Says we need to preserve, but doesn't say how.

MA - 1 SC - 4 WF - 2 RH - 3 CAV - 5

Waterfront/Downtown - a lengthy question basically asking how the next mayor would revitalize and develop these two areas.

WF - Offers a list of old ideas that we've heard before. This isn't necessarily bad but it's not new and some of it is already in the works. Tear down 79, a sports stadium, develop shops and restaurants, build off of Restaurant Row.

RH - Change the direction of Downtown to east/west. (Another Poulin idea!) Daylight the Quequechan and build a performing arts center on the waterfront. (Again some more old ideas)

CAV - Believes we should develop a tranquil waterfront and an active Downtown. (Should that be the reverse?)

MA - We're all broke we need a commercial waterfront! Bring Paris to Fall River, a Quincy market atmosphere downtown.

SC - Innovation - the Emeril Tour! Build on the momentum of places like the Narrows. Link our Olmstead Parks.

MA - 2 SC - 5 WF - 4 RH -3 CAV -5

Closing statements -

RH - He's been a dedicated councilor and he'll be a dedicated mayor. He's a neighborhood guy who will work for the people of Fall River's neighborhoods.

CAV - She's talked to people of Fall River to find out what they want in their next Mayor.

MA - He's asking for your consideration. I'm sure you'll see him again in 2 years!

SC - Believes people are smarter than yard signs and touts his Urban Policy education

WF - We need to fix the city!

MA - 1 SC - 5 WF - 3 RH - 4 - CAV - 2

Final observations
It was good to see over 100 Fall River residents turn out to hear what their candidates for Mayor had to say. Save Our Neighborhoods deserves a big hand for putting on the event and for putting together a list of good questions.

Five candidates spent the better part of 2 hours answering questions to give you an idea on how they would lead the city of Fall River. In my opinion Councilor Steve Camara won the night. Steve routinely had amongst the strongest answers of the night and could point to his activism and Urban Policy background. Steve's passion and belief also came through and I think that's important. However Councilor Cathy Ann Viveiros also had a very strong night. Her passion just wasn't as tangible and her closing statement seemed to add up to "I'll be whatever you want me to be" and that is not leadership. Still many times her answers were the most specific and simply the best. Will Flanagan certainly held his own and came across as confident and polished. It was a good showing for a 28 year old who has never held political office. Will's replies never seemed to convince me that he knew HOW he was going to achieve his goals. In short his answers just brought up more questions. Why does Manny Alves run? He clearly was over his head the whole night long and he is never taken as a serious candidate. Still he can be funny and is likable, you wonder if he could have ever have made a successful run for City Council. The bigger loser of the night has got to be Ray Hague. Ray is someone I've grown to like seeing on the City Council, hard working, blue collar, and scrappy - everything Fall River should be proud of. The thing is Hague has already been picked as the underdog and he needed to show he could outgun the others and win this election. He didn't do that Monday night.