Lowell City Council Meeting: March 27, 2018
Communication – Selection of City Manager. Motion to select City Manager. Eileen Donoghue selected unanimously. Mayor to meet with Manager-elect Donoghue to negotiate employment terms.
Citation – Friends of Council on Aging. Council Mercier introduces the members of the Friends who all receive citations.
Motion taken out of order;
CC Cirillo – Req. City Mgr. have proper department include line item in City budget to supplement yearly allocation from Massachusetts Cultural Council to include an allocation for the Lowell Cultural Council. Several community members registered to speak. Maxine Farkas, chair of Lowell Cultural Council, speaks in favor of this motion. A number of other people speak in favor of it. Councilor Cirillo asks that this be referred to the city manager since this idea has already come out of the subcommittee. Council unanimously votes to refer to city manager for a budget recommendation.
Minutes Of Arts and Culture SC March 20th; City Council Meeting March 20th, For Acceptance. Approved.
Vote-Approve Temporary Appointment of Angela Gitschier as Acting City Clerk and establish temporary salary. Approved.
Vote-Approve Temporary Appointment of Michael Q. Geary as Acting City Manager and establish salary. Approved.
COMMUNICATIONS FROM CITY MANAGER
Acre Improvements. Will be paving several streets this spring.
Branch Middlesex Business
Duren Ave and Surrey Lane
Hiring Process Breakdown. Councilor Nuon says we need to attract a qualified pool of applicants that reflects the diversity of the city. Requests this be sent to the personnel subcommittee to formulate a plan for how to better diversify the city’s work force.
Edge Dormitory Project. Councilor Nuon asks about the seven domestic incident calls.
Update – Greening Communities Program Revised
Safety First. The police department has not yet met with the school superintendent but will do so shortly. Councilor Conway says the nature of the threat is always changing so even if things seem to be going fine it’s important to meet on an ongoing basis. CC Conway then asks about juvenile arrests. Chief Taylor says the decrease in crime wasn’t caused by an increase in arrests. “We didn’t arrest our way out of this.” Says it is a result of proactive police procedures. Discussion shifts to high number of police calls to two group homes. Most of the calls are for failure to return (which is after about 20 minutes). City is working with the state to try to modify that policy so that it’s not as burdensome on the city police department. Supt Taylor explains that eight school resource officers plus a supervisor work every day with school staff and students.
Community Development Week Letter and Flyer
Street Paving List
Preliminary FY19 Budget – Manager Murphy says this preliminary budget is one of the things he wanted to leave with the council before he departs. It is a balanced budget. The new city manager can change it however she wishes, but it provides a starting point for her. Major challenges include increased pension assessments, funding of new collective bargaining agreements, a major increase in Charter School assessment. Good news is that funding for police and fire fighters continues. More curb appeal projects. More efforts to fight opioid abuse and continues to exceed net school spending requirements. Council refers this to finance subcommittee.
Communication-Accept resignation Craig Kelly from Board of Health. Accepted.
Communication-Appoint Lisa Golden to Board of Health. Approved.
Communication-Appoint Dr. Anne Mulhern to Pollard Memorial Library Board of Trustees. Approved.
Communication – City Manager request Out of State Travel (1) DPW. Approved.
VOTES FROM THE CITY MANAGER
Vote-Apply.Accept.Expend 25,000 for the Commonwealth Places Grant Program through MassDevelopment and Patronicity. Approved.
Vote-Transfer 5,000 to fund professional services related to Parcel 17 in the HCID. Approved.
Vote-Transfer 8,000 in funds to cover building inspector overtime. Approved.
REPORTS (SUB/COMMITTEE, IF ANY)
Zoning SC March 27, 2018. Councilor Milinazzo reports on meeting from earlier today. Will meet next Tuesday at 5:30 pm. Discussion is about zoning requirements for places that sell marijuana. Companies can apply for licenses on April 1 and the state will approve by July 1, so there’s a tight window for the city to get these regulations in place. Hope to finalize draft proposal next week and bring it to the council with a recommendation.
Claims – (3) Property Damage. Referred to law department.
Misc. – Evelia Ramirez request installation of handicap parking sign at 482 Moody Street. Referred to traffic engineer.
Misc. – Morlai Tusay request permission to address City Council regarding filed property damage claim. Fire truck struck his parked car. City hasn’t paid for damages, the claim has been pending since November 2015. City Manager will have a report to the council for next week’s meeting.
CITY COUNCIL – MOTIONS
Mercier – Req. City Mgr. place Phoenix Avenue on the re-paving list. Approved.
Cirillo – Req. City Mgr. provide a report regarding costs of adding three to four electric charging stations in the center of downtown. Councilor Cirillo asks for a report on this because electric cars are becoming more common. Says having them downtown will help the economy because people will have to wait for their cars to charge and while they are waiting they are likely to shop or otherwise spend money downtown. Citizen speaks in favor of the motion; lays out strong argument of the ancillary benefits of charging stations.
Cirillo – Req. City Mgr. provide a report regarding how many and what type of City vehicles are up for renewal or replacement and the costs of transferring those and other City vehicles in the future from gas to electric, which would produce an all electric fleet for City of Lowell. Same citizen speaks in favor of this motion, describing climate benefits of electric vehicles as compared to gasoline powered cars. Says electric cars have much fewer things that can go wrong, also that electric cars are very fast.
Nuon – Req. City Mgr. provide a report regarding equal opportunity employment in the City. Bobby Tugbiyele registered to speak. Criticizes city’s failure to do a better job thus far in diversifying its workforce. Councilor Nuon says we can do better to attract well-qualified individuals who will make the city’s workforce more diverse.
Nuon – Req. City Mgr. review pedestrian safety along Branch Street business corridor; indicating if signage will improve safety in the area.
Kennedy – Req. City Mgr. provide a report to the City Council regarding MassDOT proposed changes to traffic pattern at Oakland/Eastham Square. Councilor Kennedy says MassDOT is planning to make traffic changes in the vicinity of Shedd Park that have business owners in that area very concerned. He has spoken with Representative Nangle who has interceded but it’s important for the city manager to stay on top of this too.
Kennedy – Req. City Mgr. instruct downtown coordinator to develop a practical policy for decorating the display windows in vacant store front units in the Central Business District.
Milinazzo – Req. City Mgr. and members of the Owner’s Project Management Team meet with representatives of Local Unions to prepare a Project Labor Agreement for the construction of the new Lowell High School. Councilor Milinazzo explains that the high school project will be one of the biggest in state history so he suggests we start meeting with local unions now to try to negotiate a labor agreement. Says the earlier we start this, the more likely it will be to speed up the process. Councilors Elliott and Kennedy agree this is a good motion.
Not on agenda, but councilors make remarks about Manager Kevin Murphy with this being his final city council meeting as city manager:
Mayor Samaras and all city councilors individually thank City Manager Murphy for his service.
Manager Murphy reads a statement. Says he is proud of what he and his accomplishment have achieved in economic development, public safety and education. But none of this could have been accomplished without this and prior city councils and city employees. He says it’s been his good fortune to work with a terrific team that always made him look good. He cites numerous city employees by name, praising them for their assistance. He wishes the council and all residents of Lowell his best wishes and ends by saying thank you to all.
Meeting adjourns at 9:25 pm.
One Response to Lowell City Council Meeting: March 27, 2018
[This statement was read by Bobby Tugbiyele at the council meeting in support of Vesna Nuon’s motion on diversifying the city’s work force].
My name is Bobby Tugbiyele and I the Founder and CEO of The Leap Network, LLC which specializes in the recruitment of diverse and underrepresented healthcare providers. Prior to launching my business only 5 months ago, I spent the last 10+ years in recruitment and Human Resources in both Corporate and Not-For-Profit in Boston as well as here in the Merrimack Valley.
My journey to Lowell started in 2001 after transferring from Tufts University to UMass Lowell (Go Riverhawks!).
I ultimately graduated and happened to meet an amazing woman at UMass Lowell who is now my wife and mother of our two young sons. We chose to purchase a home in Lowell and have been homeowners, entrepreneurs and active participants in our community for almost a decade. I could not have known it in 2001 but all of the circumstances and decisions that led to us to this point are part of a larger narrative around the significance of community relationships, activism, culture and diversity- All things we know and believe to be social and economic strengths of Lowell.
I want to applaud Councilor Vesna Nuon for making it a point to file a motion to take a deeper dive into our city’s hiring process. As an HR and Recruiting professional, I examined the report from the city’s HR Director from a myriad of perspectives all of which point to a critical opportunity for our city to better recruit, retain and leverage its diverse human capital.
In a city where our academic institutions often highlight its diverse domestic and international student body.
In a city where our healthcare mavens celebrate serving 1 in 3 Lowell residents in a culturally appropriate and sensitive manner.
In a city that celebrates “Little Cambodia…”
In a city that erects monuments in remembrance of past genocides…
In a city whose culture and bizarre foods attract the likes of Andrew Zimmern…
In a city that attracts Hollywood and produces Blockbuster movies…
In a city that says there is a lot to like about Lowell…
I must say, there is not a lot to like about this report!
I must say there is not a lot to like about high school students of color saying they have never had an administrator or teacher who look like them or who can speak their language!
I must say there is not a lot to like about students who have never had a curriculum about African-American History outside of slavery and the civil rights movement!
I must say there is not a lot to like about only 10 Asian police officers two of whom are women!
I must say there is not a lot to like about celebrating our diversity when it is convenient or when it is a driver of grant funding but turn our heads when that same diversity is dismally and disproportionately underrepresented in our workforce!
Speaking for citizens of all cultures, ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds and life-experiences I can say that this motion is a real conversation starter. The conversations we will have today, I believe, will enhance our lives and our city tomorrow. Human Resources and Talent Acquisition professionals understand that the wealth and engine of any organization is not it’s products but moreso it’s people. It’s Human Capital.
If the report produced by our city’s Human Relations Director is Lowell’s Human Capital report, we as a city must do better.