Lowell Roundup: February 8, 2019

Mimi Parseghian shares her observations on politics and current events this week:

Almost every week, City Manage Eileen Donoghue bring forth appointments of Lowell residents to various boards and commissions.  Last April, responding to a Council motion, the Administration presented a comprehensive list of all the members on the Boards and Commissions, including their terms of service.  That information was also added to the City website.

Attached is a complete list of members on the Boards and Commissions and their terms of service. The City website not only includes all of that information but it provides the vacancies.  It also provides information on “how to participate.”

There has been major improvements in promoting board volunteerism but we need to take it to the next level. Just as we have recently added an Associate Member seat to the Planning Board, we should consider adding such a status to other Boards, especially the other regulator ones: Zoning, License and Conservation. This would make it less intimidating for novices who want to serve. It may also expand the geographic and demographic representation of the Board and Commission members.

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If in the future, if we do change our municipal elections to district representation, it may attract more residents to volunteer to serve on these Boards and Commissions.  It now has been 1 year and 9 months since the filing of the suit and the City Council continues to meet regularly in Executive Session. I do not know if they are discussing mediation as WGBH had indicated back in December or as the Sun article suggested, we are discussing discovery deadlines in order to go to trial.

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It was disappointing to read that the last Panera Cares restaurant closed.  It was operated by the Panera Bread company’s non-profit philanthropic foundation.  The concept was one of “pay it forward.” Prices were suggested but you could pay what you wanted to pay; perhaps higher or lower.

A few years back, the Greater Lowell Foundation had invited Panera Bread Corporation founder Ron Schaich as the main speaker to its annual Celebrate Giving event.  He was impressive and his views on philanthropy were admirable. He discussed the Panera Cares concept and was optimistic.

In an article titled “Why didn’t the Panera Cares social experiment pay off?” the Globe discussed what may have occurred and offers a few explanation, including that the pay-what-you-can model depends on “the notion of wanting to do the right thing.”

One Response to Lowell Roundup: February 8, 2019

  1. Gail says:

    Thank you for the update. I thought an explanation as to board functions, and something akin to a job description, as well as how to apply for positions was on the website when Bernie Lynch was the city manager. Maybe that was lost when they moved to the “new” web format.

    Just an FYI, I recently heard an interview with Ron Shaich. He sold Panera Bread in 2017. That may have been a factor, along with those that Mimi mentions, for closing Panera Cares. Among other things, he’s now a partner in Life Alive.

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