Lowell Round-Up: June 1, 2018

Mimi Parseghian shares her observations on past week in Lowell politics:

The FY 2019 Lowell City Budget  is on line.  This year’s edition has 682 pages, the largest ever.  With the ability to use software that presents graphs, tables, side bars, images as well as eye-catching and easy to read design, the Lowell City Budget format has come a long way.

I recall about 12 years back when a City Councilor, who is now City Manager, made the motion to have the Budget posted on the City Website.  Prior to that, if you wanted a copy you had to go down to City Hall and pay for the photocopy.  The result was very limited access to the document.

The format of that first budget posted did not have the previous year’s amounts; i.e. what was budgeted and what was spent.

Throughout the years, the presentation has drastically improved.  Every new Administration has added a few features to make it easier to review and look up specific information.  It is not merely numbers; it also provides the philosophy and the overall plans of the City not only for the upcoming years.

The document is not limited to numbers.  It has the City’s strategic plan, financial policy, salaries,

With technological advancement and a policy for total transparency, the budget is available for all of us to read at our pleasure.  Unfortunately, for many of us municipal financing is not our strong point.  One of the sources I relay on is Joe Smith’s posts Facebook’s Lowell Live Feed.

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I agree with Councilors R. Mercier and K. Cirillo who defended the concept that someone’s backyard or front porch is not public property.  The discussion at last week’s meeting on the new marijuana ordinance which had a provision prohibiting people from smoking marijuana outside on their property.  As was discussed, if a neighbor is bothered by that smell, doesn’t the smell of cigars, pipes, cigarettes or even food on the grill bother them.

The law that applies to your neighbor when he/she misbehaves because they have consumed too much alcohol applies to them if they misbehave if they consumed too much marijuana.

The current medical marijuana dispensary in Lowell is located around the corner from where I live.  As far as I know, there has not been a single problem with the operation.

The Administration presentation this past Tuesday not only detailed how the recreational marijuana business will be controlled and operated, they provided encouraging estimate tax revenues.

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Late May/Early June is the period where many of the City’s non-profits have their major public fund raiser.  I am hesitant to list them for fear that I will miss one or two.

But if you are on social media or have acquaintances and friends involved with any of these worthy organizations, you should be aware of the dates, places and type of events.  We are fortunate to have a variety of groups that serve different aspects of our cultural, social and economic life.

Public support is a necessary for them to continue.

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The ordinance prohibiting Single-Use Plastic Bag ban in Lowell’s large stores (3,000 square feet or bigger), passed by the City Council on a vote of 6 for and 3 present, will go into effect on January 1, 2019.  Seven months to prepare for the change should give retailers plenty of time to prepare, especially since most of the major names have stores in cities that already passed a similar law or ordinance.

Lowell becomes the 77th Massachusetts city or town regulating the use of plastic bags.

There wasn’t much opposition to the ordinance but there were two general issues brought up against implementing it at this time.

One is that the Massachusetts House is reviewing a similar bill and we should wait for the Commonwealth to come up with a state-wide law.   I would prefer that Lowell takes the lead and is influential in both the content and the passing of the new law.

Secondly, we have learned from the public hearings how costly plastic bags are to all of us.  First, it is added to the cost of doing business so even if you bring your own bags, you are subsidizing the expense incurred by those who  utilize single-use bags that because of their thickness and weight usually carry a few items.

Not only do we pay at the front end but we also pay at the back end.  Because these bags are not recyclable through the system that is currently in use by municipalities, we get charged when those items are found in our recyclables.

Just as we got used to returning bottles, wearing seat belts, not smoking in public places, we will get used to bringing our own bags when shopping.  Our environment and our finances depend on it.

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On Wednesday night, the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association (CMAA) hosted the second public meeting in as many weeks held by the City Council Ad-Hoc Sub-Committee on Election Laws.  These meetings have been organized to discuss issues with our current municipal election system.  From posting and pictures on social media, Wednesday’s event had a great turnout; a lot of young people, which is a good sign.

In addition to these two events, there was another public gathering a few weeks back on the same subject.  So far, we have had 7 Councilors attend one or more of these listening meetings. The push to review and adjust our Charter is proceeding.

One Response to Lowell Round-Up: June 1, 2018

  1. Liz Stewart says:

    Budding business people: 7 months to come up with a pocket grocery bag design that is stylish and sturdy. Go!

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