Friday, May 23, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Today's Referendum Petition Announcement

District Fire Chief Robert 'Chipper' Camara led today's announcement outside of government center, accompanied by representatives from the Coalition for Social Justice, the Carpenter's Union, and a representative for the retired firefighters.

Volunteers already started to collect petition signatures but we have a long way to go. If you are a registered Fall River voter and want to remind the city council and mayor that they are representatives of the people and for the people please go to Fall River Community and get your petition.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How to Sign the Referendum Petition

The law only allows 20 days from the passing of an order to complete a referendum petition (the clock started ticking from 5/16/08 when the order was passed) so time is of the essence.

If you are a registered voter and would like to sign the petition, you have many options. Petition signing locations will be announced, canvassers will be out in force in neighborhoods, but my favorite options are offered by Fall River Community. At that site, you can download/print the petition yourself to drop off at announced locations or volunteers will come pick it up from you to make it really easy!

If you are unable to find a location to sign the petition or no one comes to you to sign......take Fall River Community up on their offer!

The Referendum Petition is ON!!

The fire chief issue captured me on two levels:

First, I don’t think it is a good idea to allow Mayor Correia and the City Council to be the sole authority on hiring a fire chief. I believe it is Correia’s intention to irresponsibly cut the fire budget and a civil service chief would inhibit his ability to do so. Correia’s right hand man, Director of Municipal Services Alan Silva, cut emergency services at his last city job in Ft. Lauderdale . Crime went up, emergency response time went down, and that is a danger I am not willing to risk.

More important than my personal stance on the fire chief issue is the second factor on the topic – the spirit of democracy. Mayor Correia and the six city councilors (Joe Camara, Casey, Kozak, Lund, Pereira, Viveiros) completely overlooked the fact that they are the voice of the voters and not that of their own personal agendas. Mayor Correia admitted that he was in a rush to get this passed in the state legislature before the legislature recessed. This hastiness totally undermined the democratic process.

We, the registered voters of Fall River, have the opportunity to remind our local elected representatives that they work for us. Local forces have combined to create a referendum petition that, if signed by 12% of the registered voters of the city, would allow the city council to take a second look at the issue (hopefully less rushed this time). The council would then have the option to rescind the order. If the council chooses not to rescind, the issue would then go for a citizen vote at the next election so we can finally have our voices heard!

The official announcement will be made tomorrow Thursday 5/22/08 at 1:00pm at the 3rd Street entrance to Government Center. If you are able, please come and show your support.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Irony is.........

Irony is – when a Fall River City Councilor, who is a civil servant by day, votes to do away with the civil service process in hiring a fire chief.

City Councilor Tom Kozak, a veteran civil servant with the Department of Transportation, voted without hesitation, to do away the civil service process for hiring a fire chief. Councilor Tom Kozak, who has enjoyed the benefits of a civil service process, was ignorant enough to take that same benefit away from the fire department chief. Tom Kozak can’t dislike the civil service system too much if he is willing to accept over $105,000.00 a year from his job as a civil servant.
Click here for Kozak's job details

He is an air traffic controller with the Federal Department of Transportation. Although different positions, a federal air traffic controller is still a member of the same governmental civil service system that the fire chief was.

Is it just me? I don’t get it…If Councilor Kozak feels that civil service is a bad idea, wouldn’t he stop being a civil servant?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Referendum Time!

What can contract chief opponents do now? It may be time for a referendum.

Today’s city council vote in favor of a contract fire chief does not have to be and should not be the end of the line for this issue.

Pursuant to Massachusetts General Law chapter 43 section 42, now that the city council has approved the contract fire chief switch, the citizens of Fall River can overturn the decision through implementing a referendum.

We, the voters, have twenty days to get a referendum petition signed by at least 12% of the registered voters of the city and submitted to the city council. The petition would then be filed with the city clerk and it would immediately suspend the measure from taking effect. According to Massachusetts law, the city council must immediately reconsider the measure. If the city council does not rescind the measure within twenty days after the date of the certificate of the registrars, the city clerk shall submit the petition, to a vote of the registered voters of the city in a special election.

Given the firefighters ability to get 4,000 signatures on their internet petition in a few short days, I have no doubt these persuasive firefighters would be able to get the support of 12% of the city’s registered voters to initiate the referendum. The city has approximately 45-50,000 registered voters, 12% of 50,000 is 6,000 signatures. I will happily offer my signature, so only 5,999 more to go!

Good Stuff

Some of my favorite city related links:

City Police Scanner
Someday I will buy a police scanner that broadcasts only Fall River, but in the meantime this site is great! It is free and it scans all the local towns. I wish it was only Fall River because Fall River calls are the best but I can manage the variety for now.

This Saturday the site locked and only broadcast Fall River calls. It was especially enjoyable to hear all of the events that the Herald News would never report:
· Police following the blood drip trail of a suspect to find him – the trail ended in the Walgreens on Rodman (probably buying band-aids)
· Someone “accidentally” stabbing herself in the thigh at 2am
· Guy beating his girlfriend while, at the same time, pumping his gas at the Hess station on Pleasant Street
It is interesting to hear all of the events that occur in Fall River that I will never read about in the Herald News.

Campaign Contributions
With every new appointment Bob Correia made, I was able to curiously research the appointee and find out how much they donated to Bob’s campaign to buy their position. This site yielded some very interesting information. It is understandable that a new mayor would want to appoint people that have supported his campaign, but I don’t think it should be a prerequisite to getting a municipal appointment.

This link also showed me that Jay Cashman (LNG proponent/former Weavers Cove owner/Sal DiMasi cohort) donated the maximum allowed by law to Correia’s mayoral campaign:

State Employee Salaries
This site offers the salaries of all state employees. Some fun information I retrieved was the salary of Correia’s personal driver when Correia was state representative (search: Colleen Whipp). I was able to compare Bob’s driver’s state salary with the amount she is now earning as a city employee and discovered that his driver has gotten a pretty nice raise compliments of the city of Fall River.

Fall River City Website
It has a long way to come, but it does offer city specific links such as volunteer opportunities, city budget information, and mayoral announcements.

My favorite part of the city site is the link to the property information. It provides information on who the owner is, how much their tax assessment is, how much they paid for it, etc.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Killer Windmills

and the zoning boards who love them............................................

More than ever, I am concerned with Fall River's political machine (Bob Correia + Zoning Board) irresponsibly giving the city away.

I have always been excited by the ecologically friendly benefits of windmills. Most people will agree that alternative energy is increasingly, fiscally and environmentally responsible. However, with all proposed constructions in the city I am ultimately concerned with responsible siting of the projects and the safety of the residents.

The Fall River Zoning Board has been notorious for allowing the over development of many lots in the city. I can overlook the fact that over 95% of the variances granted by the Fall River Zoning Board would be judicially overturned on appeal because they are not 1.) an undue hardship on the variance requester and 2.) not going to depreciate neighboring property value in any way. HOWEVER, I cannot overlook the fact that the Zoning Board granted approval to "developers" Roland Patenaude and his sidekick Karen Charette to build turbines up to 350 feet high, including the 50-foot radius of the blades on Bedford Street.

The largely unqualified Zoning Board granted permission for the building of these 350 foot windmills without acknowledging that the FAA has oversight of any object that could have an impact on the navigable airspace. The FAA requires that a Notice of Proposed Construction be filed for any object that would extend more than 200 feet above ground level. The proposed wind turbine heights have increased during the past couple of decades, this filing requirement has applied to increasing numbers of projects.

This is what a 350 foot structure, in a larger city than Fall River, looks like

Windmills are not like the garage additions that are regularly approved at Zoning Board Meetings. They are giant, potentially dangerous, and need to be regulated by the city (regulations that would hopefully include responsible siting standards).

Fall River employee/Superstar, Kenneth "how do I still have a job" Fiola Jr., executive vice president of the Fall River Office of Economic Development, said he believes the "ZBA needs to look at neighborhood improvements and benefits of wind turbine power versus safety and aesthetic impacts." Great - Ken is so concerned with getting a business in the city for once in his career that he is willing to compromise safety and aesthetics!