Monthly Archives: March 2014

Meanderings

It is one of those days. It is raining, it is cold, and to be perfectly honest, it is dismal. But, there are tons of things happening, and by the time you get this the City Council will have selected a new City Manager. I have stayed away from picking anyone, saying on television that I was just interested in having a Lowell pick or Manager. My Lowell pick was written up months ago. I wanted, and I still want, Kevin Murphy to be the City Manager. I am hoping that is what happens. We have about an hour before the vote. I am hoping they vote for Kevin Murphy because he is the best candidate and that came through in his interview. I will be watching television to see who is selected.

The Lowell “Sun” stated “Manager Post is Murphy’s to Lose.” Kevin is the ultimate tactician and a great politician and I do not see him, one hour before the vote, losing. Time will tell, as they say. I wish him the best.

Headlines abound. “Foes: Gas pipeline proponents in for fight,” is one. That is the battle which at this time is largely centered in the north about running a massive gas pipeline, natural gas, overland through Ashby, Townsend, Pepperell, Dunstable, and onto Dracut. The anti-pipeline people are hopeful. “The proposed gas line originates in Pennsylvania, and would go through Wright, NY into Berkshire County, and eventually through to…Dracut. [Lowell Sun, Page 7, Sunday, March 30, 2014] I do not see the people of these towns rolling over and giving easements to Kinder Morgan Energy Partners without a fight. Dracut is beautiful farming country, something we all seem to forget, and a pipeline through farming country does not seem like adequate use of space, to me. So it will be interesting to see peope fight this. I sold life insurance in Dracut 40+ years ago, and it is a beautiful town.

Onto my religious news. St. Margaret Parish will host speaker Jon Leonetti, and inspirational Catholic speaker who also speaks to persons of other religions, beginning on Sunday, March 6th. at 2PM. The youth of our community from Grade 7 to Grade 12 are invited to spend time with Mr.Leonetti at 2PM to 4PM to discuss “What do you dream of when you dream of happiness?” Jon will talk about what it means to take Jesus into your own life.

On the same day, at 7PM Jon will host adults in sharing humorous stories of the ways in which God desires to break into your life. That talk is entitled “CHOSEN.” The next evening, John will speak about being “REDEEMED.” This will help the faithful discover the “Catholic Vision.” He will incorporate references to Pope Francis and speak on how God guides us on this road today. On Tuesday, April 8th. he will define his usage of the word “DELIVERED.” This will involve having an active prayer life and encountering Jesus deep within the Sacraments. It is Jon’s hope that people will be inspired to proclaim the good news of the living God.

Father Raymond Benoit, the parish Administrator, extends an invitation to all parties to attend these sessions. The doors are open to all. The doors are located at St. Margaret Parish, 374 Stevens Street in Lowell. There is ample parking and it promises to be an excellent chance to hear a dynamic speaker. Everyone is welcome.

Meanderings

Did you ever have one of those days during which the smallest things become crystal in their clarity? I had one the other day. For sixty years I discovered I had been unwrapping Hershey Kisses incorrectly. I just pulled the aluminum foil off, ignoring the piece of paper with the Hershey Kiss name on it. Last week I was cheating on my diabetic diet and I pulled the piece of paper and, lo and behold, the entire aluminum foil wrapping came off! Sometimes I like to sing the song from the “Wizard of Oz” “If I Only had a Brain.” It sometimes seems fitting. This was one of those times.

I have had trouble getting to the Blog because I am writing a history of the Lowell Motor Boat Club. It promises to be relatively short due to the fact that fifty years of history was lost to the Flood of 1936 when the entire building swept downstream and over the falls, with all of the history in it. I am grateful to the Lowell “Sun” archives because they provide a great deal of information on the boat club during this missing period.

Leahy’s Recusal

John Leahy finds himself between the proverbial rock and a hard place. He wants to vote in favor of his brother-in-law’s chance to become City Manager, but he is, after all, his close relative. The Lowell “Sun” of Sunday, March 23, 2014 states that “he’ll zag” because he is his father’s son. I empathize with him, I really do. I was the brother-in-law of Paul Tsongas, who never “zagged” for me in any job situation. I became the Cavendish, VT Town Manager without any assistance from Paul. In fact, sometimes relatives weigh you down, they do not pick you up. I gave up that opportunity because my wife was seven months pregnant, we had just moved into our home, and my brother-in-law had contracted cancer.

I took the principalship at a Catholic School because I earned it. There were no letters of recommendation from Paul. I did not take after my father, much. I learned to zig when I maybe should have zagged. Having a father who was in politics had nothing to do with getting that job. I got it because I was nervous at the interview and they felt that that showed a certain amount of humility.

If anyone knows how difficult it is to not use your relatives to make a job opportunity happen, I believe it would be me. John Leahy has to do what is right. If he “zags” then it would be proper to vote him out of his seat in the next City Council election. He cannot vote for his brother-in-law because, contrary to what the Ethics Commission says, a person married to your sister is very much like a brother.

Rita Mercier is right in telling John Leahy to recuse himself and not vote for Mr. Ramirez. The relationship is just too close and, if Mr Ramirez wins, Leahy would behoove himself to stay away from votes involving those that assist or help his brother-in-law. A little bit of Tsongasism would work here, Paul would say, I believe, that the relationship is too close and Mr. Ramirez needs to get the other votes from other members of the Council. That is just my take on the situation. Mr. Leahy has my empathy and understanding, but I hope he chooses to do what is right, not expedient. I hope he “zigs” and not “zags.”

President Putin vs. President Obama

I believe that I am the only person in Lowell who is really angry with our President over his handling of the saber-rattling of the Russian Foreign Minister who yesterday (Tuesday) threatened to annihilate the United States using Russia’s nuclear arsenal. I think that threat is worthy of front page headlines in the Lowell “Sun,” but I have to admit that the only persons I heard from today on the threat, and that is what it was, were the guys I meet with at the Lowell Motor Boat Club. That, and the lack of a response by at least our Secretary of State show a weakness that must be very appealing to those people in Russia who agree with this type of intimidation.

The President of the United States has a duty to address direct threats to our nation. If threatening to make the United States a nuclear waste site is not a direct threat, I have to wonder what is? In the interest of fairness…oh, wait, in this case there is no fairness. A level two economy allowed one of its officers to threaten the United States of America and we chose to do nothing about it. In fact, I have not heard from one person in a position of authority who condemned that speech.

That is my beef. Where is Elizabeth Warren or Ed Markey in this outrage? Obviously, they are not “out there” with those of us who have a right to feel threatened by a second rate nation with nuclear weapons aimed directly at us. And, what about all of those missiles that we are supposed to have aimed at Russia? Word has it that we have emasculated our nuclear weapons systems in order to sell the rest of the world on the idea that we are only interested in peace. If that is the case then it is inexcusable. We can point a few at Iran and North Korea and still have plenty left over for Russia, unless we have dismantled them. In my opinion, that would be a mistake of historic proportions.

Strategic initiatives are a price we pay for being the most misunderstood nation in the world. We – like Israel – have to sit on our capabilities, knowing that an ounce of deterrent is worth a pound of cure. I am still a Democrat but nowhere does it say that I have to agree with the President’s approach in this case in order to continue on as a Democrat. Being a Republican is the most foreign thing I can imagine. I lived through the Cold War, I read “The Russians,” I look at them as people and pray that we never have to use force of this nature to protect ourselves. But, while we have the best, most thriving, economy in the world, we allow ourselves to be dictated to. Adolph Hitler laughed at the United States because he believed that a dictatorship was the only way we could fight him. Democracy has too many variables. Roosevelt wrote on this to Winston Churchill and they both agreed that a democracy could mobilize, it could fight, and it could win. It did.

Someone has to wake this administration up and let them know that we cannot not answer to a threat for our total annihilation. This lack of response borders on the absurd. Economic sanctions should be immediately in place. Anything less will be perceived by the Russians as cowardice.

The Passing of Senator Paul Sheehy

Before I get started, I would just like to acknowledge the passing of the iconic Paul Sheehy of Lowell. Two years ago, I lost my father to cancer and it was extremely difficult. I know the Sheehy family and, if one of the signs of a good parent is how good their children are, then God has a special place for Paul and Molly Sheehy. I student-taught their daughter Elizabeth when she was practicing for a play entitled “King Didrick’s Will,” back in the 1980’s. She was one of the most accomplished child actors I have ever seen. She went on to graduate from high school and then from college, where she maintained a Grade Point Average that was good enough to get her into law school. She graduated from law school, passed the Bar, and went on to practice with her Dad on Central Street. I went into the office one day while I was campaigning for my Sister-in-Law and she and her father regaled me with stories about Lowell for about an hour. I have a daughter who wants to go to Law School, and I hope she is half the woman that Elizabeth has become.

I also know Marie quite well. She is working for the UMASS-Lowell University in a high administrative post, and she is highly involved with the Democratic Party. She came very close to winning an election at the County level a few years ago. She is a marvelous person, a wonderful mother, and a lawyer like her father and sister. She was Assistant City Soliciter for years, and I am pleased to be a friend.

I was surprised to read in the “Sun” that Middlesex College’s presence downtown was the result of Paul Sheehy’s idea. I always assumed it was Carole Cowan and Molly Sheehy who brought the college to downtown Lowell. It started off simply enough, in a single building and now has a complete campus. Mrs. Paul Sheehy (Molly) ran the day-to-day campus right up until her retirement a couple of years ago. My sister-in-law worked with Molly Sheehy for years and it seemed to me, she waxed effusively about Mrs. Sheehy’s talents. When I needed to get my niece into a Community College, I relied heavily on Middlesex Community College’s reputation and care for its students.

What was not mentioned is Sheehy Hall and Sheehy Park. Sheehy Hall is located on the grounds of the South Campus of UMASS-Lowell. It is a beautiful red-brick building which houses students at the college. It was named for Paul and Molly Sheehy many years ago. Sheehy Park is located on the Merrimack River, the south side. It was dedicated to Mr. Sheehy’s brother many years ago and is a joy to walk on or boat from, or do many of the activities that I enjoy so much. It can truthfully be said that the Sheehy name will be well-represented and remembered for generations. As for me, I can truthfully say that Mr. Sheehy will be remembered for his love of history, love of his family, and his love of Lowell for many of those generations.

I was pleasantly surprised that the Sheehy’s are not just grandparents, but great-grandparents as well. “Great” is a tremendous word to describe them and their family. I remember when my brother-in-law, Senator Paul Tsongas, told me, “You know as much about Lowell as Paul Sheehy!” I thought to myself, that that was the ultimate compliment. Mr. Sheehy, you will be missed.

Meanderings

This weather pattern has done little to quell my desire to do some spring-like activities. I have an indoor greenhouse and am growing tomatoes and perennials for spring planting. The baby plants look good. I am ready to go fly-fishing as soon as I can convince my fellow fishermen that it is a good idea. The weather is stopping my day-dreaming a bit though. Today is supposed to be minus twenty in my son’s home in Boylston. That is with the windchill factor. Actually, it is a comfy five above zero. So winter continues to have its grip on our time, and our two above the normal temperature periods just do not make it in my comfort column.

I am curious as to what is happening with the City Manager’s search. The newspaper does not seem to have any idea as to what is really going on, who’s on First, etc. I am actually pleased with that because to often the newspaper editorializes on some aspect of politics in Lowell and assists greatly in bringing about a decision. I personally am very interested in providing the city with a daily news program, which is very laborious. There is a lot of labor in that. But, a city the size of Lowell in the Midwest would have three television stations (witness Des Moines, Iowa) and nightly news shows. So I have an application into LTC to start a daily news show. I just have to be careful of my health. It has not been great lately.

K Pharmacy in the Highlands is a very professional drugstore. I have started getting my prescriptions filled there because I like to frequent Lowell businesses. I shop local. It is a good thing to do. Andy, down at the Brewhaus downtown on Market Street is very familiar to me and brought the coffee and the muffins to the dedication of the Computer Lab in my father’s memory. He did a marvelous job, and if you are tempted to get your “Box of Joe” at Dunkin’, get them at Andy’s place instead. He is very reasonable. And the muffins and coffee are fantastic.

Also, I recently went downtown and found a sneaker store which sold me a nice pair of Brook’s sneakers for a reasonable price. In fact, almost every storefront downtown has an occupant and it is as exciting to shop downtown as it is at a local mall. The only problem is the parking meters but they are easier to use than they were when you had to have a quarter for fifteen minutes. Now you can use your debit or credit card to park in one of the garages or even on the street. Parking meters should have never been invented but we have to worry about them now. If there is a way to tax something, the government will find out what it is and be there with their hand out. I called the Parking Department and they said you do not have to use meters on Saturday, so shop downtown on that day.

Those are just some areas I have meandered in my mind this week. Hopefully, some of it is helpful. Good buy for now.