Monday, November 30, 2009

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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.
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

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 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


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.


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......