I was lucky enough to be on City Life this AM with Councilor and former Mayor Edward C. (Bud) Caulfield. It was an enjoyable and educational time.
The first topic out of the box was the Pawtucket Dam, which, as we realize, was in the news Saturday, when we learned that a Federal Court had ruled that the Wang Agreement, in the deed for our dam across the Merrimack River, was not worth the paper it was written on. One view of that was that we can now go forward without that encumbering us. Another view, presented by the "Lone Wolf", Tom Wirtanen, is that the Memo from Mr William Guey-Lee, Chief, Engineering and Jurisdiction Branch, Division of Hydropower Administration and Compliance, is controlling. A PDF of that memo is here. (I admit it takes a while to load and you are staring at blank white screen, but it is coming, just slowly.)
As an aside, John McDonough was doubtful that Mr Guey-Lee's office still existed. As of this evening it does and its web site can be found here.
We also talked about the City Council's move to have a City Wide Committee, composed of primary and alternate members from each of the Neighborhood Groups, to look into increasing civic participation, increase voter turnout and to increase the number of candidates for public office. These are all good things and the idea of a Civil Council appointed Committee was brought to the City Council Rules committee by people such as Victoia Fahlberg, Jack Mitchell, Tom Wirtanen and John McDonough on Tuesday of last week and the proposal was approved by the full City Council last week. Off and running.
Another topic was Japan and the tragedy there. There was heavy loss of life, but the discipline of the people and the preparations have limited that loss of life, as compared with the Indonesian Tsunami a few years ago. We touched on the nuclear power issue and we also touched on the "just in time manufacturing" which will be severely disrupted by these twin natural disasters.
We did spend a half hour on the upcoming Greek Independence Day Celebrations, on 25 March. There will be both religious and civic celebrations. On the show were two young people from the Hellenic School. They both did very well and their parents can well be proud of them. Greek Independence began in 1820, but it proceeded over decades, as more Greek territory was recovered, after 400 years under Ottoman rule. Councilor Caulfield and I later discussed how it was the beginning of the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, which was accelerated during World War I, but which continues even today as Peoples from Tunisia through to Egypt and beyond strike for their freedom. And, later in this month Councilor Caulfield will get an award from the Greek Community.
In the last half hour we covered a number of topics and then, in the last five minutes, John McDonough through out the Alan Kazanjian issue. Frankly, I wanted a little more time to sort through this thing, which has been lingering for a while, but the IG report is new. However, the basic facts are that the IG report is now out and it says that Mr Kazanjian owes the city a connection fee of $3,419 and up to $3,000,000 in fines (up to $5,000 a day). Councilor Caulfield and I were in agreement that Mr Kazanjian's folks dropped the ball and the permitting folks in Lowell City Hall should have picked up on this and moved to fix it. A first offense, so it is reasonable to expect Mr Kazanjian to pay the $3,419 fee and to pay a fine of $3,000 for not keeping the paperwork straight. As for the folks in permitting at City Hall, they should be admonished to be more aggressive in following up on these sorts of things with construction projects. And the owners of the building should pay the past due sewer fees and future fees, which they are apparently prepared to do.
Then it was all over.
Regards — Cliff