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.