Lowell Week in Review: June 21, 2014

The City Council held a special meeting to review City Manager Kevin Murphy’s proposed FY15 budget. After three hours of questions and discussion, the council adopted the $333,987,477 budget in its entirety. The council cannot add to the budget or shift money within it but can only make cuts. Only once on Tuesday was a reduction attempted. That was a motion by Mayor Rodney Elliott to reduce the $200,000 “professional services” line item in the City Solicitor’s Office by $25,000. According to the city manager, about half of that money is used to pay outside legal counsel in cases in which the city solicitor would have a conflict. The manager stated that the money was needed this year due to some high profile cases coming to resolution, but he assured the council that the amount would be less in future years. The motion failed with only Mayor Elliott and Councilors Rourke and Belanger voting in favor of the cut. For more information about the budget session, check out the detailed report I posted back on Tuesday night.

The School Committee met on Wednesday night. I didn’t watch the meeting but both Chris Scott and Gerry Nutter wrote blog posts about the committee delaying action on the new contract for Superintendent of Schools Jean Franco.

Candidates for the 18th Middlesex State Representative seat are busy attending events and raising money. Rady Mom had a party on Friday night; Dave Ouellette had one on Thursday. Fred Bahou has one coming up this Thursday, June 26 from 6pm to 9pm at the Firefighters Club on Fletcher St. This past Thursday night (while Dave Ouellette was at his fund raiser), Jim Leary and Ratha Paul Yem worked the crowd at the Tyler Park concert. Saturday, I spotted Leary, Ouellette and Rady Mom at the Acre Festival and Ratha Paul Yem at the African Festival. While I didn’t cross paths with Brian Donovan this week, I had a nice conversation with him the week before when he visited my house while going door-to-door on my street.

If Lowell isn’t known as a city of festivals, it should be. The Lowell Summer Music Series kicked off last night with an outstanding performance by Ziggy Marley and friends. Today big crowds flocked to the North Common for Acre Festival and to the banks of the Merrimack River for the African Festival. An even bigger crowd gathered in downtown this evening for the arrival of the cars of the Great Race. Tomorrow evening the public establishments in the Back Central neighborhood will be jammed for the US v Portugal World Cup game.