A post made this afternoon on the Lowell Sun political blog criticizes Mayor Patrick Murphy for some of his selections of chairpersons for various city council subcommittees. The post, “Murphy flexes Mayoral Muscle, begins with . . .
Rookie Mayor Patrick Murphy left no doubt who’s in charge when he made City Council subcommittee assignments this week, one of the first official acts of business for a new mayor. Murphy rewarded those who supported him and whacked those who didn’t.
. . . and goes on from there with the full post available here.
Proving that we have indeed reached a new era in Lowell politics, the Mayor fired back almost immediately with the following which was added as a comment to the initial Sun post:
Among the many false assertions made in your recent post is the suggestion that “the Column blog is chasing down Murphy and Lynch for their response,” as though I were evading any questions. At the time of your writing, I had not received any communication whatsoever from the Sun/Blog/yourself. This leads to other issues of communication. In November, I spoke with then Councillor-elect Kennedy for an hour at Santoro’s to discuss the kinds of issues he’d like to work on in the new term, and he expressed an interest in economic development and transportation, and a concern for the rules. We also discussed at that time the mayoralty, and Mr. Kennedy had indicated that he would be in touch with me at the beginning of the following week with a decision. We did not speak again until I called him over a month later. After hearing of Councillor Martin’s public support, I called Rodney on Saturday, December 31st at 3:52pm and left a message, which was never returned. As you might imagine, communication must be two-way. Communication is also important in organizing and chairing meetings.
You also make the statement: “Murphy rewarded those who supported him and whacked those who didn’t.” I would suggest you ask either Councillor Mercier or Vice Chairman Mendonça whether they were happy with their assignments or whether they felt “whacked.” I would further suggest that it is perhaps your mindset of power politics, rather than mine, that has colored the interpretation of these assignments. They were made thoughtfully and to spur the most discussion and ideas. Councillor Nuon’s background in public safety issues in his twenty-plus year career and his work in the community will be important to inform the work ahead of us. He campaigned on actual ideas that he wanted to pursue, particularly addressing youth violence with satellite after-school programs, and I expect that he will be able to work with many groups and leaders to achieve those.
Similarly, I think that Councillor Elliott’s involvement with the flooding issues, particularly in his neighborhood of Pawtucketville, well qualifies him to lead the relevant subcommittee. His community involvement in youth soccer groups, his concern for their safety in the library and elsewhere, and his enthusiastic support for the Vote 17 initiative make him a good fit for the Youth Issues subcommittee. Having served on both the Council and School Committee, a keen eye for details and an independent mind, Vice Chairman Mendonça appears to have a far better grasp of municipal finance issues, and how they are all intertwined. I would also like to see this committee meet more regularly and work more closely with the School Department’s counterpart in the coming term, and Vice Chairman Mendonça ‘s experience on the School Committee should facilitate those discussions. As I said before, the subcommittees are new and no one has been replaced, but in the twelve preceding years, the former Chair presided over a time of declining bond ratings and at a time when the city was added to the Department of Revenue’s watchlist. He has suggested that bond ratings don’t matter, made motions that confirm that belief, and has shown a poor understanding of performance-based budgeting. He voted against the Ameresco contract and LowellStat initiative, both of which will realize substantial long-term savings while improving our operations. So the decision was a policy one, not personal. To be worthwhile, experience is not just about time served, but how wisely time is spent.
Lastly, I would like to address your repetition of a false and defamatory claim—originally made by Lyle Moran and repeated by your editor—namely that the city manager has had a hand in my decisions as a councillor. The editor has not responded to a request for a meeting to discuss those statements. In fact, if there is a communication problem, it lies with the paper. Three emails were sent on November 12th, 14th and 21st respectively, before the first response by the Sun shortly thereafter on the 21st. Another making the request for a meeting has not been responded to since the 22nd of November. As it appears the Sun is not as eager to answer questions as it is to ask them, I will say this clearly for the record: the manager did not participate in any discussion of subcommittee assignments or in what issues I choose to pursue. The manager does not tell me how to vote, which motions to file, who to reward or who to whack. We are not in the mob. We know our roles. And I am simply a citizen of Lowell hoping to make things a bit better. You could probably help. I hope you will.