Monthly Archives: October 2014

Campaigning with Rady Mom

A friend of mine recently said, jokingly I think, that Rady Mom should just change his slogan to “Vote for Mom.” I have had the chance to see Rady working the campaign trail up close and personal, as they say, and I have to tell you, there is nothing this man takes for granted. He works every house, and talks to every person he can. I was amazed at how much of the literature we passed out in just two or three hours. It was in the hundreds.

He started out the day at the Greater Lowell Area Democrats (GLAD) meeting, where he was introduced by Secretary of State Bill Galvin. That floored him. He shook hands with as many of the five hundred people who were there as he could, then went out to talk to eight hundred fifty people in two temples or churches, I cannot accurately say if they were one or the other.

I had put in a request for some assistance in Ward Three, because he had done Ward Four and he said he would go with me. So, not realizing what I was in for, I went door-to-door, where he picked up sign locations, and good wishes from people who owned the house or people who just waved at him from their cars. I had expected a demure, health-worker. I got a polished politician.

In a couple of days, he is scheduled to get on “City Life,” John McDonough’s show. I know that he will be ready for it. The entire event, and the party I attended of his on Wednesday of last week, convinced me that there are direct co-relations to Paul Tsongas’ parties of the 1960’s and 1970’s. The food was delicious, and ethnic. The speeches were all tinted with humor. There are many regular run-of-the-mill people supporting him. I feel that he has bridged the gap between being an ethnic politician and being a total person who can appeal to a great many people.

There are many of us who fail to see the connection between a Paul Tsongas and a Rady Mom. It is there. There are the well-attended and, in earlier times, more sparsely attended, parties. There is the Tsongas refrain of “I was just lucky,” and the Rady Mom declarations that ring out as just the same, but at a different time. There is the joking about parental concerns when your father, as he was in Paul’s case, is a Republican and your son is a Democrat. Granted, that is not a problem Rady has, but his sense of humor reminds me of that. There is the division between people who support you for who you are and those who support you because you are ethnic. I remember Paul joking at a fundraiser about being the only Greek on Fairmount Street in Belvidere. At least, I believe I remember that joke. It was funny and maybe true at the same time.

Do not get me wrong, I am not comparing a State Representative seat to a Congressional seat. I am just comparing the two men. I am impressed that Rady Mom is surprised that Bill Galvin would think of him and mention him to a large crowd of people. It shows a humility that I think is alluring. I just hope that, if Rady Mom gets elected, he will be able to appeal across the lines of ethnicity and concentrate on those things that he keeps talking about, like the Rourke Bridge and the need for a new one. I hope that he can be a Kevin Murphy. I believe that he can.

In the beginning of this race, I could not decide who I was going to vote for, they are both nice guys and superior in their intellect. I am pleased that two such nice people are there to represent the best of the Highlands and the Acre. But, after careful thought, and a great deal of writing on my Pluses and Minuses paper, I have determined that I will go for the Democrat.

Paul Tsongas

I just read that Patrick Mogan was the man who was the most influential in Lowell. Granted, Pat Mogan was the man who first came up with the national history of Lowell, but nothing would have come of Patrick Mogan without Paul Tsongas and I believe that the record justifies that presumption. So, I am tired of books that make the claims to Lowell’s pre-eminence by claiming that this person or that person is the reason that Lowell came back from the netherworld of depressed American mill cities. Paul Tsongas was my brother-in-law, and I am biased but I am saying now that I intend to write a book that looks at Paul Tsongas’ affinity for Lowell, his refusal to take the credit for making Lowell what it is today, and his belief in the people of Lowell as a group bringing the city back to its dominance.

Let me start with a story about my father, the former Superintendent of Schools who funded Patrick Mogan’s dream. When I was sixteen, and extremely interested in Lowell’s history, he told me about a man that he found amusing who paired up with a man named Peter Stamas to investigate Lowell’s canal system and had built a design of the canal system in the Smith/Baker Center across from City Hall. That man, he told me, was a dreamer named Patrick Mogan and I might like to meet him. The School Department, he said, was responsible for funding Dr. Mogan’s research and paying his and Mr. Stamas’ salary out of a series of grants. I might enjoy meeting him, he said. I was very interested in meeting Mr. Mogan. I told my father that, and he set up a time when I could speak with Dr. Mogan.

“Well, we’re paying for his time, at the School Department, and he might want to show you what he is working on.” my father said. I was introduced to Dr. Mogan’s work a few days later. He had started his grants with the previous superintendent My father would be the man who financed the grants but not the person who was responsible for Patrick Mogan who would push him to prominence.

I spent the next couple of days learning about the canal system in the Archival Room at the Memorial Library. Not the Pollard Memorial Library because Samuel Pollard had little to do with the library at the time, but the Memorial Library because it was named as the building named after the many dead from Lowell in the Civil War, or the War Between the States.

My meeting with Dr. Mogan and Mr. Stamas was very interesting. They had built a wooden model of the canal system, painting the water in as blue. The borders of the canals were made of wood. They told me, both of them, of the canal system and its importance to the city. However, they concentrated on gondolas being in the canals and people riding the gondolas like those in Venice, Italy. They said that the canals were too shallow for the gondolas, but that they could be made deeper. I thought it was a wonderful idea, gondolas on the Lowell canals.

I left after getting a dream of Italy in my young brain. I thought it was a magnificient idea. I had recently built a wooden boat and this was right up my alley, as they said back then.

I visited them a few times before going off to college where I took an interest in bringing the first Model United Nations forum to the University of Lowell in 1975. Working on that with many people was a good use of my time and we held it in that year.

My years passed quickly. At sixteen I met Councilor Paul E. Tsongas and helped paint the interior of his house. I kept asking him the secret to his success, through my twentieth year, and I constantly heard his refrain, “I was just lucky.” No science to his politics.

Paul was the first person I heard who gave Dr. Mogan credit for the saving of the Lowell Canal system. He had been elected to his county post, and when asked why had been quoted in the Lowell “Sun” as saying that he needed a parking spot to use when he had to appear in county court and that was the best way to handle it. His wife, Niki, called me on the phone and asked if I would pass out five hundred leaflets throughout the Highlands and I said, “Yes.” So, I did.

In the meantime, Paul introduced me to his younger sister, who thought I was kind of a nerd. I thought she was beautiful. Later, we would be married. But in 1973, I was nineteen and she was seventeen, and though we married early, at twenty-one and nineteen, in 1974, we were most interested in getting Paul elected to Congress. So, we worked on that.

That was the year I met Dennis Kanin. Dennis had a full head of hair, I remember, and had just come in ninth in a party of ten running for a Cambridge State Representative seat. At least, memory says it was ninth, I might be mistaken about that. But he and Paul hit it off right away and a beautiful friendship lasting until Paul’s untimely death at the age of fifty-five would sprout up.

Part of Paul was still interested in the canal ideas of Dr. Mogan and he checked with the Interior Department to see if there was precedence for a National Park in an urban area. He was most assuredly guaranteed that there was none. But, that did not stop him. He pushed for a new idea, an urban National Park, for which there was no precedence. He often gave all of the credit to Dr. Mogan. I remember that clearly. However, the National Park was his baby, and his idea. We have it because of Paul Tsongas. The canal saving steps were Dr. Mogan’s idea and together they made a nice pair.

His battle came to a fruitful transition, and Lowell was voted the first Urban National Park. When he got cancer, Senator Ted Kennedy offered to name it after Paul, the Tsongas National Park. Paul turned him down. He wanted it to be the Lowell National Park.

As I said, I intend to write a book on Paul. There is plenty of information out there. I do not intend to be quick about it, but I do intend to be thorough. If necessary I, like Mr. Thoreau did with his first book, will pay for publication myself. It is time to set the record straight and I would like to be the one to do that. I have a great many personal anecdotes and hopefully I can work them into it. Thank you for being patient enough to read this.

Congressional Debate

There are those times when you are very proud and pleased to be associated with Niki Tsongas, and today was definitely one of those times. She had her first debate with Ms. Wofford (to shorten the name a bit), and she was, in my opinion, magnificient. She refused to be baited by some claims that seemed to be half-lies, as opposed to half-truths, and she kept her eye on the prize. The prize, in Niki’s case, seemed to be her accomplishments in the U.S. Congress. Things like her reaching across the aisle to get the help of a Republican Congressman to close the loopholes in punishment for horrendous crimes against women in the military, or the growth of New Balance Shoe company and their effort to make the only sneaker available which is manufactured in the United States of America. She was baited on conservation, but stuck to the work she had done in conservation, and the use of carbon-creating materials to hasten global warming, a process that I believe, but could not be sure by Ms. Wofford’s argument, her opponent was stating had been reversed in 1996. It must have been a miraculous year.

Ms. Wofford also stated that she was the “grassroots candidate” because most of her money had come from the man or woman on the street. Niki Tsongas stated that she had received PAC money from organizations that were Democratic in nature, but refused to state that Ms. Wofford would be the recipient of PAC money from corporations and other beneficiaries of the Supreme Court’s finding that corporations were “people.” I believe. She simply stated that she had voted to overturn that oversight in the U.S. Constitution by voting for a new amendment to the Constitution making it moot.

I find that Tea Party candidates are not always correct in their criticisms. Ms. Wofford stated that she supports the Second Amendment, which allows for a peaceful militia, and the right to keep and bear arms. She cited her father in that one. Mrs. Tsongas stated that there should be a law against assault weapons and multiple shell-holding magazines. It was also stated that it was fairly easy to get weapons in New Hampshire, which I believe to be true. Of course, there was that old bumper sticker that stated that “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” but so far that has not been borne out, I feel, by statistics. Most of the mass murders of the past few years were committed by persons who used guns legally. I certainly, do not want to go back to “Wild West” days like Georgia recently did when it allowed almost every citizen to carry if they want to carry a weapon. It is far easier to get guns in states that have had cases of mass executions than it is in Massachusetts. To be honest, I worry about knives in Massachusetts. When the NRA called my house recently I cut the seller short by stating that I had not forgiven the NRA for there being a rifle which killed President Kennedy. The man hung up on me.

So, how did the debate go? It could have gone better if Niki lied about her accomplishments or took all ofthe credit herself. Instead, she stated that she and her staff were working hard on client issues, and they deserved a lot of the credit. She did not say that she was responsible for Obamacare. She did say she voted for it and was proud of the fact that it did not exclude pre-existing conditions. I have five pre-existing conditions and I am a firm believer in Obamacare. I have had very fine care since it was implemented. I recommend that those of us who are better off after the passage of it start espousing it to our friends, not keep it hidden in the nether-reaches of our minds. Finally, what words would I say to Niki? I would tell her to speak her truth, as Rudyard Kipling said in his poem, “If.” People will try to tear your opinions down but you have to “stoop and build them up with warn-out tools.” I believe that is the exact words of a section of that poem.

The debate went well. I anticipate that Niki will take time at some point and show how out-of-touch Ms. Wofford is with the bulk of her target audience, whomever that may be. On the issues, not the glitz, is where Ms. Wofford should be attacked.