Need a Do-Over Here

I watched the local broadcast of the Lowell City Council meeting last night. To my surprise, a woman who offered to serve as a Trustee of the Pollard Memorial Library and whose appointment by City Manager Lynch was before the Council for a vote of approval was denied an opportunity to serve. However, two appointments by the Manager were approved—for the Planning Board and for the Zoning Board of Appeals, ostensibly to keep economic development moving smoothly in the city. Well, we need human development to move smoothly, too.

I’m a writer, so I have a soft spot for the library—that’s where the community keeps its reading material and promotes literacy. Some of my books are in there. It happens to be a fabulous public building also, with remarkable works of art and pieces of our heritage. The building is a tribute to Lowellians who fought with the Union Army in the Civil War. Last week, library trustee Nancy Pitkin was the only resident to stand up at the Council meeting and request that the councilors allow Manager Lynch to continue filling vacancies on all city boards and committees. But last night, a majority of councilors voted to “table” the appointment of Salmira Mitchell, an active resident of Centralville, to the board of library trustees. The motion was not open for discussion, and it received the required votes. That was just plain wrong. The Council as a whole should correct its action and move to approve the appointment of Salmira Mitchell as soon as possible. I want to thank her for offering to serve. I have a feeling she will be a trustee,  when this situation is reviewed.


24 Responses to Need a Do-Over Here

  1. Joe S. says:

    Paul, I agree 100%. It is a shame that a vindictive city councilor would put the rest of the council in this situation, in part due to their inexperience with this type of motion. As a matter of fact, using the “table” motion to kill a proposal should require a 2/3 rds vote, which was not done in this case.
    (Robert’s Rules of Order states that the use of the motion to “table” to kill a motion is improper because a majority vote should not be sufficient to permanently cut off debate on a main motion.)
    To rectify this error in judgment, the city council needs only a simple majority to take the motion back “off the table” at its next meeting. Let’s hope they do that.

  2. Casey says:

    I can’t even express to you how sick this makes me feel. I hold an MLS and I know that traditionally, but particularly since the economy tanked back in 2008, libraries have had to fight tooth and nail for every penny they receive from local government. Of course, this has led to budget and staffing cuts. To see someone with a heart willing to *serve* getting dismissed by the council is truly abominable and is a poor reflection on how the City of Lowell feels about the value of its library, which is educational, cultural, informational, and archival in its mission. Let’s “See-Click-Fix” this error.

  3. Marie says:

    Not enough respect for the value and importance of the PML and its trustees. Unfortunately the library has a history as a political football for some… a brief respite from that role has evidently come to an end…

  4. Laura MacNeil says:

    I am very disappointed with the City Council. They need to remember that they serve the citizens of Lowell. The Council meetings are a disgrace and an embarrassment lately. Do you really think the City Manager has plans to undermine the next City Manager through an appointee to the Library?

  5. Jennifer says:

    Surprise, surprise. Corruption in Lowell rears its ugly head once again. And who are the losers? The public and individuals caught in the crossfires of childish and embarrassing politics.

  6. Nancy Putkin says:

    I was so shocked at this city council’s actions last night. I’m not at all comfortable speaking to this city council and I am so saddened that Salmira was treated this way. To approve two men and then “table” this appointment is so wrong. Ms Mitchell took the time to attend a trustees meeting (which are open) before applying and being interviewed by the manager and no other trustee has done that while I have been on the board. I’m embarrassed that this is happening.

  7. Mr. Lynne says:

    Everybody loves Rita enough to make her a top vote getter. After this incident, do people now better understand how much of a bully she can be if you’re not ‘with’ her (or even if you don’t ‘like’ her)?

  8. Mr. Lynne says:

    I suppose in theory it could be considered an improvement in that at least Rita just rudely tabled the appointment (which everyone thought was a good choice but didn’t want to vote for?) as opposed to inviting her to leave the country.

  9. Judith Durant says:

    I agree with Nancy Pitkin. Last week Rourke made a motion to keep the CM from making any appointments, but when the time came to address the motion he withdrew it. But then Mercier decided to use the tactic for one appointment only last night. It was a petty and disgraceful slap to Lynch, but it hurts the rest of us, not him.

  10. Brian Flaherty says:

    This is on top of when Mercier told Gerry Nutter that she would “slap him” if he said those things about her and that “There are other bloggers that if you brought them here I would choke and would never support them.”

  11. Jack Moynihan says:

    As always, a very thoughtful and well written post by Mr. Marion – which I entirely agree with. Initially, I thought there would be motions made to table all of the appointments up for consideration last night, so I was stunned when the next two were voted on and approved. Those councilors voting against the library trustee appointment certainly seemed to be showing no respect for the value of a city’s public library, and if the five voting against Ms. Mitchell’s appointment did so out of some sort of resentment towards her blogger husband – then even more’s the pity. Thanks to Ms. Mitchell for being willing to serve the city, and to the four councilors who voted to allow her the opportunity to do so.

  12. Joe S. says:

    From the council’s own rules – a clear statement that was badly misinterpreted (not later than) by the Mayor last night.


    RULE 22

    When a matter has been laid on the table, it shall become dead and shall not be taken there from unless a motion to that end is made not later than one month after the next regular meeting held subsequent to the meeting at which the matter was laid on the table. This motion is not debatable.

  13. Mimi says:

    So CC Rourke was in his right to try to have the matter “untabled.” I am not sure what the motivation of the Councilors who did not want to take an up and down vote on this nomination.

    Until I hear from the CCs directly, I am going to say that this move has to do with some City Councilors feelings towards one of two men: Jack or Bernie; or both. It has nothing to do with Salmira’s willingness and ability to serve our City; it has nothing to do with our City’s need for volunteers and civic participation; it has nothing to do what the Library needs; and definitely nothing to do with what is best for all of us.

    I hope CC Rourke attempts again to bring up the issue so we, the residents of Lowell, can hear directly from our elected officials as to why this woman cannot be appointed to the post of Library Trustee.

  14. Gail says:

    Ditto for Casey’s comments. I think rather than click and fix, the E-mailing the entire council or placing phone calls might be the appropriate measure.

    Although the Sun reported on the appointment being “blocked,” they failed to point out the procedural error by both Councilor Mercier [laying a motion on the table] and Mayor Elliott [for refusing to allow the motion to be taken up from the table]. I understand that this is a new role for the Mayor, but I think he needs to familiarize himself with the council rules.

  15. Paul Belley says:

    Much has been said and written since the last city council meeting. The non appointment of salmira is in my opinion a shame. She is a wonderful and giving and thoughtful person. In all the years that I have been observing the meetings I am very disappointed in this council and the way the mayor runs the. meetings. We as a city deserve better.

  16. Mr. Lynne says:

    Note also the non-reporting of the fact that Rita’s original motion was out of order in that it violated the open meeting law. Jim had to step in and point this out, but the usual suspects refused to be educated on the matter. I can’t be surprised at the press oversight since reporting on this point by the sun would involve making Jim, who they hate, look good and Elliott and Mercier, who they love, look bad.

  17. suzanne says:

    Salmira would have been an asset, we need to remind the voters about this kind of thing at election time.

  18. Eleanor Rigby says:

    This sends a clear message to anyone who was thinking of volunteering on behalf of their city. If you are not a crony of one of the 5 then don’t bother!

  19. Joe says:

    I guess that would imply the other two people that got appointed on Tuesday are cronies of the 5 ?