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.

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

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.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mayoral Forum - A Quick Review`

This past Monday we finally had our first Mayoral Forum, a chance for you the voters to hear where the candidates for office stand.

What follows are my observations about the forum, the candidates and the answers they gave. I hope you'll share yours.

Initial reactions....

The forum was originally to be held at the Elks and was moved to Cavalry Temple. Apparently the space at the Elks was not handicap accessible, a big thanks has to go to the folks at Cavalry Temple for coming to the rescue. The Forum was intended to include all the mayoral contenders but two decided not to show up. Honestly to be blunt if Mike Raposa doesn't want to come that's fine, he just isn't a serious candidate but for Mayor Correia to dodge this is inexcusable. I could understand if it were due to a family emergency or something to that effect, but it was explained that Save Our Neighborhoods, who sponsored the forum, went out of their way to accommodate the Mayor giving him the first pick of dates. For the Mayor to suddenly have a conflict is unacceptable. I'm certain at whatever political event the Mayor felt he needed to attend his absence would have been understood.

The forum featured 10 questions and a closing statement. I will attempt to highlight each topic and provide my reactions to the candidate’s responses. I will use MA for Manny Alves, SC for Steve Camara, WF for Will Flanagan, RH for Ray Hague and CAV for Cathy Ann Viveiros and score how I think each of them did from 1 to 5; Five being the best and 1 the worst.

Zoning & Appeals

MA - Basically thought that the existing laws needed to be followed.

SC - He would have Neighborhood representatives be part of the process to protect the integrity of our neighborhoods.

WF - He used the word 'ensure' a lot but I wasn't sure he answered the question! He did speak about having resumes (of the zoning board members?) be on public file, this struck me as an Eric Poulin idea from 2007.

RH - Stressed that he had dealt with these issues on the city council and as mayor would ban lawyers who did work from the city from coming before the zoning board.

CAV - Stated she would make sure all zoning members were fully trained and that they would be held accountable. My take on it was better training = better decisions. She also talked about increasing the raduis of notification and having work plans for each neighborhood.

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

Adult Entertainment - How would the future mayor deal with the issue of Adult Entertainment?

SC - He would establish a zone in the Industrial Park. He has worked on this on the council; the zone would not be near the entrances but near the landfill. Adult entertainment should disrupt the serenity of our neighborhoods

WF - He believes we should restrict through regulation. He would regulate strict hours of operation and the size of such a facility. He would prohibit alcohol and the tipping of the employees. He vows to personally fight this battle in court. That's a nice gimmicky gesture but the concept of the Attorney Mayor is stupid. You can't be in court and run the city too.

RH - He points out that he has battled this on the council and that the result has been no strip clubs have yet been established and a 750ft. buffer zone is in place. He would examine the options of both zones and regulations.

CAV - She would be proactive in the fight and establish a zone, and review all possible options for a zone. This seems like back to square one to me.

MA - He echoes the answer of WF - sometimes it is good to be last, you can chose the best answer.

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

Drugs - How would the future Mayor handle the issues associated with drugs in our city?

WF - He would work closely with our police, it sounded like micromanage to me! Where will he find time to run the police department, run the city and handle a case in court? He would restore our levels of public safety by cutting from the top! I'm not sure if the math will work out there. Says unlike Bob he won't hire a press secretary, he can speak for himself. My thought: Bob has a press secretary?? There is someone who is not doing a good job.

RH - This was one I thought Ray would nail but he rambles about the current administration and then says he'll cut administrators and put public safety people back to work.

CAV - She would educate our landlords (educated landlords = better tenants). She would educate our code enforcers. Focus on getting rid of bad landlords and focus on trouble properties.

MA - Honestly I couldn't understand 1/2 of what Manny said. I heard the words police, fire, neighborhood partnerships.

SC - He would address the layoffs in the police department and work with neighborhood associations.

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

Surplus Schools - What would the future mayor do with our surplus school buildings

RH - He would sell certain schools and raze others to create parkland.

CAV - She would have neighborhood forums so they could weigh in on how they should be developed. She would look for development plans (RFP's?) that were specific to area needs and work to get them "back" on the tax roles. (of course they never were on the tax roles to begin with but I digress...)

MA - He would have neighborhood forums, and preserve historic buildings (how without money??) Make sure any RFP's had a reverter clause.

SC - He would utilize neighborhood forums so they could weigh in how they should be developed, mentions the possibility of a home for the Children's Museum. Spent a lot of time talking about how these should already be in the hands of the city council and all the delays.

WF - Neighborhood forums! Spoke about using some for specific uses, such as bringing a children's museum to Fall River (I think he meant find a home for the one we have! ooops!) He referred to Need Centers, which I think stood for Neighborhood Economic Development Centers. Nice idea, sounds similar to Mayor Correia's learning centers. Why couldn't we use the new schools?

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

Part II, the remaining questions, closing statements and final thoughts - coming soon

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Poison Blogs - A letter to Marilyn Roderick

For over three years I have typed away on my keyboard to share my thoughts and my observations with those of you who have found your way to my site. My intention was to offer up a viewpoint and hopefully stimulate some conversation. Over the past three years I have had the opportunity to speak with many of our local bloggers and those who choose to comment on various online venues and have found that their motivation is fueled by a deep passion for Fall River. How disappointing to learn that several of our elected leaders instead view this concern for our community as poisoning the atmosphere. The following is a letter, sent by email to school committee member, Marilyn Roderick who expressed just such an opinion at a recent forum this past Monday.

Dear Mrs. Roderick,

I am deeply concerned by comments attributed to you during a forum held last night, August 10, 2009, at Government Center. It has been said to me that you were deeply critical of some of the questions and concerns shared by Fall River residents at last night’s forum. It has been said to me that you (and other elected officials) criticized local bloggers for negative comments.

I certainly hope this isn't true. The people who attended and asked questions last night were taking part in their city’s government. They were showing their deep concern, and yes, outrage. Still, even if you personally do not agree with their statements they should be complimented for taking part, not criticized for sharing their beliefs.

I also wish you and other elected officials would stop referring to every online blurb you read as a blog or its author as a blogger. A blogger is someone who owns a blog, maintains a blog or writes original content for a blog. If the people you refer to do not fit into that definition, they are more accurately a commentor. It may seem a trivial complaint but I resent that you make no distinction.

Regardless if your issue is with local blogs and bloggers, or with the comments left on blogs and the Herald News website, the sentiments that you take issue with are the opinions of “the people” and we’re entitled to them. And while you are entitled to disagree, as an elected official you are not entitled to dismiss them While I would agree that such sentiments should be expressed civilly and with courtesy, they should not be sugarcoated. I believe I have always been fair and objective but if you should disagree please feel free to let me know. You can always comment on a particular post or email me at

With regards,

Monday, August 10, 2009

Coming soon....

For months I've been clicking on the links of candidates for this office and that. For months I've seen smiling pictures and sugarcoated biographies. For months I have anxiously waiting to learn more about where the candidates stand and what they want to do. For months I've been reading...platform - coming soon.

Now, I'm finally seeing some candidates put out some platforms but it's August! There is little more than a month to the primary! Where are the debates? Where are the candidate forums? Why isn't EVERY candidate pushing to get their message out there? Why isn't every candidate pushing to tell you what they want to do and how they're going to do it?

Fall River is facing some pretty tough times a big heads up to those challengers running for office: a new face is not the answer to our city's problems. If you think you can help lead the city to 'better tomorrow' you probably should tell me how. Don't you think?

Considering the problems Fall River faces and the number of candidates vying for office it's been pretty quiet. It's about time some of these candidates started making noise because election day is...coming soon.