For John, BLUF: We didn't fix the problem today. Nothing to see here; just move along.
This post is about today's (Wednesday's) City Life show, which included as guests Messrs Jack Mitchell and Gerry Nutter. The issue is Neighborhood Groups and Charter changes.
But, before we proceed, I must address some fraternal correction about my post which covered yesterday's edition of City Life. It was pointed out to me, correctly, that in my previous blog post I focused on the question of the Plan A form of government, which is what suited my line of argument. However, as was correctly pointed out to me, the guests on Tuesday talked about way more than the Plan A form of government. In particular, they talked about our Mayor, Patrick Murphy, who has suggested that the Zoning Board of Appeals had been less than forthright in turning down the zoning for a Methadone Clinic. The guests are not alone in this, in that Councilors Elliot and Mercier have raised questions about the Mayor's comments. Former Mayor Rita Mercier was quoted by The [Lowell] Sun as saying:
To insinuate the ZBA members are on the take is a slap in their respective faces...My apologies to any who felt I did not sufficiently cover Tuesday's show.
That said, I mentioned the Tuesday show to talk about how various proposals are being put forward to ensure better representation of the Residents of Lowell in our City Government.
Today, with Mr Jack Mitchell on, there was some discussion of his use of the term "Taliban" to describe the Neighborhood Groups. That is to say, like the Taliban, the Neighborhood Groups show up to operate in areas where the local government is failing the citizens. While some inside and outside Government may object to the characterization, it does serve a purpose. It makes the point that in a dynamic society government is sometimes slow to adapt to ongoing changes and informal instruments are needed to help more formal instruments adapt.
The arguments were well laid out today, but what was missing, on the part of Host George Anthes, was a willingness to go beyond decrying the Neighborhood Groups to looking at what problems in Resident Communications exist and how those problems can be overcome. While a Professor of Government, Mr Anthes was not prepared to analyze possible structural problems in the current government organization, wherein one or another group might feel left out. Without such analysis, there was no going to step two, which would be to explore possible solutions, possible adaptations in the formal and informal structures to create better citizen involvement.
In sum, an opportunity lost.
Tomorrow is likely to be all about GLTHS.
Regards — Cliff