Mimi Parseghian reviews this week in Lowell politics:
This week’s City Council meeting had a number of interesting agenda items in addition to the standard business. I did notice that the Rules Sub-Committee would be reporting on their current meeting to review the City Council meeting rules. As we recall, the motion that triggered the meeting came about after a demonstration against National took place at sub-committee meeting disrupting and consequently forcing it to be adjourned abruptly.
It seems that the Council will not set a “free speech zone.” Thus demonstrations can continue outside of City Hall. However, after listening to the discussion on the Council floor, I have a little bit of a concern about the remaining rules changes. I am a proponent of decorum and civility as the standard in City Council chambers. It is the best way to conduct the people’s business in the people’s home. However, we need to be careful what rules we put in and how they are applied. We need to assure that the atmosphere does not stifle dissent.
The Lowell Police Department has done a very good job of controlling the argumentative meetings without creating unnecessary confrontations.
Most of the contentious meetings that results in boos, applause, cheering, and interruptions are highly emotionally charged. They did not cause the Rule Committee to meet to review Council rules.
Holding a large sign will be prohibited. Signs should not block others view or ability to be seen or see. That is common sense.
The intent of this rule augmentation is to prevent disruptions that do not allow civil discussion, but I hope that if someone wants to wear a T-Shirt with a message printed on it, they would be allowed to sit quietly in Council Chambers during the meetings. If not, then we will need to question the implementation of the rules.
If you want to watch the Rules Sub-Committee meeting that took place on Tuesday prior to the City Council, here is the link. The City Council will take a final vote at their next meeting on Tuesday, July 24th.
The proposed changes will be made available to the City Council a week in advance for them to review and the public will have access to that document on Friday, July 20th when the agenda is published.
The Council also entertained a motion to put cameras at “hot spots” where drug dealings may be taking place. The administration will prepare a report with the input of the Police Department.
We really do not have expectations of privacy when we are in public areas or in someone else’s private property.
The issue with that plan would be that the “hot spots” would move around the City. Cost is another factor to be considered. There are a lot of businesses that have outside cameras. When I am stopped in traffic and I am staring out the windows, I have been noticing the number of cameras.
In case you have not heard, Massachusetts is the only state that has not yet passed its budget. We are operating on a provisional budget. According to the Globe, the reason for the delay is “. . . The Democratic-controlled Massachusetts House and Senate have both passed their own versions of a $41 billion state budget. But, so far, they haven’t been able to reconcile the two spending plans.”
But according to the paper, it is not unusual that the Legislature does not meet the June 30th deadline to pass a Budget. Last year, the vote took place on July7th; it is now July 13th. So if every year they add 2 weeks to the delay, in 5 years they can pass the final budget in September.
I do not know if this is a statement on our Budget or on how our Legislature operates; probably both.
The Sun printed what I consider to be a cynical editorial on July 8th. Using the swearing ceremony of the newest United States citizen, the editorial asks: “It would be interesting to know what these newest Americans think about the millions who have entered this country illegally and seek to cut in front of those who have taken the legal route to citizenship.”
This is not true. Those who are fortunate to receive visas to come to this country are not sent back to the end of the line because others have entered the country with the required visas.
Secondly, I would think if we asked those immigrants who were granted visas what their opinion is of those who did not receive visas, they may say “I am extremely fortunate to have the resources to be able to get a visa. I have a link in the chain immigration; the country in which I reside has a large number of slots; I won the lottery; I have a half million dollars which gives me access to such visas; I was lucky, I married an American citizen, etc. . .”
And for those of you, who are following the World Cup, a unique international spectacle that highlights the singleness of humanity, the Croatian team story is a great one and under normal circumstances I would root for them. But when you have your entire extended family’s happiness depending on the outcome of the game on Sunday, I have to say “Allez les Blues!”