Lowell Roundup: April 7, 2019

Pinch Hitting for Dick!

It has now been a month since the recreational marijuana store opened up in Lowell.  The facility, located on Industrial Avenue, is around the corner from where I live.  I drive by it going and coming from my place of residence daily.

Besides the line of people waiting under a canopy, you will not notice anything.  It is so well organized.  In addition to the 5 Lowell Police Detail, they have their own security and have set up the proper kind of temporary fencing to guide customers to the facility.

The City Administration, especially City Manager Eileen Donoghue and Eric Slagle, Director of Development Services, and Patriot Care should be commended for the preparatory work to make sure that the launching of this new type of retail went as smooth as possible.  I will b.e quite interested when tax information is issued the City certainly can use additional revenue.

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Speaking of revenue, the School Department is facing a serious cash flow problem and will need to make difficult decisions unless there the City provides additional funding.  From my observations, the City Council and Administration do not have an appetite to provide the school system with additional funding.  Not because they want to help the schools, on the contrary.  They seem to be extremely frustrated with the business side of the school system and the Council is putting demands on the bookkeeping system.

Meanwhile, there is an effort to increase Chapter 70 funding which will greatly benefit the Lowell School System.  State Senator Ed Kennedy has signed on as a cosponsor the legislation that has been introduced this year.  The City and all of its elected officials should put a lot of effort to make sure that this bill, or something similar to it, passes.  Lowell School System is desperate for those additional funds.

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In this week’s Lowell City Council agenda, there is an ordinance change that will impact the Library Board of Trustees.  The proposed changes include the addition of two “Associate Trustees.”  This will be the second City Board to expand its numbers to include associate trustees. In late February, the City Council passed a motion “Request City Manager review Boards and Commissions to determine whether additional associate and/or alternate members should be added to assist with quorum requirements and to help foster greater public participation (emphasis mine). The expectation is that most Boards will be expanded to encourage a broader pool of applicants, thus create “greater public participation.”

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This past week there has been a lot of chatter on social media regarding the current state of the Charter lawsuit.  The City Council is meeting again in Executive Session this week to discuss the lawsuit.  In late December I read on WGBH’s website that the City and the plaintiffs were going into mediation.   Since January 1st, the Council has already 5 times in Executive Session to discuss the lawsuit. This week will be the 6th and last year, they held 4 such sessions.

My concern is that we are approaching municipal election season.  This Council has to come up with a public answer, whatever that is.  It will not be helpful to have a wall of silence during the campaign and more importantly, we do not have another City-wide angry debate as we had with the high school issue.

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