Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Life on the Brink

This is the accompanying video to a great front page article in the Boston Globe about Fall River's struggles: Life on the Brink


Anonymous said...

Good piece, great camera work, hope the herald news learns how to do online video reporting like this instead of just fudging it most of the time.

Anonymous said...

There should be a follow up article on what the administration is actually doing up there on the 6th floor. Nice numbers of his achievments from fiola- exactly who got those jobs and TIF agreements ? He makes 3x the median salary for a fall river resident.

W.J. Bloggah said...

Ken Fiola is a dickhead

Anonymous said...

Despite the adversity, Kenneth Fiola Jr., executive vice president of the nonprofit Fall River Office of Economic Development, said he is hopeful about the city's long-term prospects. Since its establishment in 1978, the office has helped provide $65 million in loans to more than 500 businesses.

"We're used to fighting for survival every day, even in the good times, because we've lost so many manufacturing jobs," said Fiola, a Fall River native.

There are some jobs being created, just not fast enough.

Great quote now divide that by the 20+ years you have been paid 150K and tell us your success rate.

johnybfallriver said...

It could have been longer, but in the end they are not telling us anything new FR has been hurting for years, and every year you will have less working class poeple here, it is just not a working class city anymore, pack up and move on. I did then I went back to FR and it was worst so I moved on again. It is true when they say you can never go back home. More so if "home" is FR

Anonymous said...

so when the state continually under funds the city what is the administration supposed to do guys?

FRC said...

It is hard to argue that the state under funds Fall River when so much of our municipal budget is paid for by the state.

If Fall River wants more money to invest in itself, it should have raised property taxes since its property tax rates are $2 less than similar MA communities.

Anonymous said...

i agree we can't continue to be the welfare step-child of the state we need to stand on are own two feet instead of being subsidized by the state. lets stop being proud of having the lowest taxes in the state. you get what you pay for

Anonymous said...

We thought a 30 year state representative would bring home the bacon like he promised.

The Hurricane said...

How is this a great article?Are you comfortable with this type of portrayal?Are you ok with the canned processed video with the shots of a rusted bridge and a abandoned shack?Many of our ills are not self inflicted..gatt nafta 4 times as many subsidized apts .The globe needs to tell the whole story if they are going to put us on blast on the front page!!Maybe thats the Fall River they know but its certainly not my Fall River!!

Anonymous said...

I guess if you stumble out of one our new "row" establishments at closing the city is all shiny and full of promise.

Anonymous said...

You don't want to them to tell the whole story it would not be good for the administration or radio station owners, fiola, froed/rda.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the Hurricane. They should tell the whole story. He mentions that we have so many subsidized housing in Fall River. I hear that the new Watuppa heights plan actually praises the city for increasing subsidized housing in the last few years.

Anonymous said...

OK boys and girls stay focused dont hate on Hurricane or obsess about him and his personal habits.The question is are you comfortable with the Boston Globes article and video portrayal of Fall River ?I stand firmly behind the Hurricane on this issue,this article was biased and one sided .They had a predetermined idea about urban blight and they ran with it .They didnt however give the real reasons why we are a city on the brink..

Anonymous said...

Yes I admit that I am lazy! However I know that a blogger did list the MA city to sub housing ratio not that long ago.

Anonymous said...

Hurricane, since you have taken the stance (which I agree with)
that Fall River has become the dumping ground for subsidized housing etc. Do you now see why there was so much concern about what happens with Durfee St ??

If our city is going to move forward after being "stalled" for
so many years we need to be aware of what is being developed and allowed into this city at such a critical time .


Puck said...


The Globe article didn't place blame on anybody as you've tried to imply. It simply told the story of a city that is falling fast and you can't blame NAFTA for that. You may not like the portrayal but it's accurate. You want the reporter to tell the whole story? Hah!

You say subsidized housing is the state's fault? Oh, c'mon! Your buddy Fiola just gave away 64 Durfee St. so we could have even MORE low income families--no, LOWEST income (as their proposal promised) moving into the city. And Watuppa heights? Are you kidding? Big Bob is the one who got the state to approve an increase in the number of units there! Who are you kidding? Who just laid off 100+ firefighters and police with the big lie...I HAD NO CHOICE, then refused to consider options offered by his own City Council.

Your buddy Fiola is useless and the mayor is a joke.

Maybe your blind loyalty is charming to some, but it ignores the reality of the good people of Fall River who are suffering because of the politicians at whose feet you worship.

You want the whole story? Be careful what you wish for. You just may get it!

Anonymous said...

Hurricane is the best talk show host in the history of WSAR...perfect balance of info ,hard news and laughs.Rock on Hurricane keep fighting the good fight!!!

Anonymous said...


The Hurricane said...

9 units out of 46 is a ratio that im comfortable with..the building is an eyesore and has been neglected for 20+ yrs..I dont see the Durfee tech building as a center piece for the arts overlay district.I am not in love with the Peabody plan but its a process and they followed it and did everything asked of them,Burbank did not.. two bids came in one was viable the other wasnt you cant change the rules in the middle of the game.Also i trust and respect both Nick Christ and Alan Amaral and deferred to them.I Hope they made the right decision and i expressed concern to them that i expect the plan to be followed and a close eye kept on the on the development.Charlotte when are you going to come on the radio??Charlotte ,Shamrock,Lefty,Tom Paine,it would be great radio!!

Anonymous said...

We can always argue the burbank vs peabody proposals I never wanted Burbank but I was really against Peabody.

It was more about the use of the property for me.

You need to add up all the subsidized housing in the city and are you happy with that ratio?
why add to it??

Also, look at the route 79 project which does tie into the waterfront, anything in that general area is a piece in that puzzle.

I think Alan Amaral probably has great insight into what needs to be done but is going about it wrong.

Anonymous said...

As long as Kenny's success rate is determined by how many tickets he can move for the Mayor's times rather than jobs created we are getting what we deserve.

bigbubba said...

Have anyone of you been driving around the city.There are potholes everywhere trash everywhere.The other day i drove down davol street by the water and there is graffiti everywhere.Every light pole garbage can.Its everywhere down southmain under braga bridge.Somebody needs to take care of this we are letting it take over.We need to let sheriff hodgson in here with his graffiti team.And bring in the inmates and clean the city up its all free labor.there is plenty of work for them to do since we laid off 20 dpw workers.what we really need in this city is to get rid of all the politicians and start over.we need to hit the reset button.we as citizens need to take our city back.and hurricane should led the charge.

Tom Paine said...

Mr. Hurricane, you say you will keep an eye on the 64 Durfee Street project. Peabody, believe me when I say this, could not care less whether you or anyone else keeps a close eye on it. Peabody has a track record of changing the scope of a project in mid stream. You are talking about a group of people who could buy and sell most people in this city.

Plus, as mentioned, this city has recently been praised for creating more subsidized housing in the last few years. This praise, from what I have learned, is coming from the state! The number of new subsidized housing is over 100 additional units.

Plus, I have been told that the new Watuppa Heights plan calls for 26 single family or rental units. BUT!! there is a catch. It is an open ended agreement and the language calls for more nits on the site, but it gives no number.

Plus, we will either use city funds or CDBG money. Either way the citizens lose out. GREAT!!

And remember this, Nick Christ wrote a report that said we had too much subsidized housing, and now he is in favor of more.

This is just a tiny sample of the info that is out there, you need to do some real research and not believe what has been spoon fed to you.

Tom Paine said...

I meant units on the site, not nits. MMM nits, sounds like some type insect!

Anonymous said...


You repeatedly stated that Fall River has 3-4 times the burden of subsidized housing than required by state law which is absolutely untrue.

Under Chapter 40B, the standard is for communities to have 10% of their housing stock be affordable. Last year, Fall River was at 11.3%.

In comparison, here are the Gateway Cities: Brockton 12.8%; Fall River 11.3%; Fitchburg 10.4%; Haverhill 9.1%; Holyoke 21.3%;Lawrence 14.5%; Lowell 13.3%; New Bedford 12.2%; Pittsfield 9.4%; Springfield 16.5%; and Worcester 13.6%.

Honestly, do some research.

Although I agree with your premise that Fall River has been hurt by NAFTA, you should take into context that this was a news article and not an Doctoral thesis in Economics.

I also agree with you that there should be a news story about the 10/15 year plan to turn the city around. I wonder if the visionaries at the Fall River Office of Economic Development are producing such a plan.

I know that Ken Fiola is a good friend of yours, but if you want the full story of the Fall River economy, it would certainly contain a chapter on how FROED has failed the city for decades.

Finally, the city should stop blaming its poor education scores on transient students. Fall River has one of the lowest graduation rates in the entire state (56%). If students from other districts are coming to Fall River, they are probably likely to increase our test scores!

If we have transient students that means some students come in and other students go. I don't see how we can always say that the students we receive are worse than the students that move away.

Anonymous said...

The # 1 ranked unemployment city:

Saunders School sold to house homeless families
By Jill Harmacinski

March 18, 2009 01:16 am

LAWRENCE — A majority of city councilors last night agreed to sell the Saunders School for $450,000, drawing boos from some residents upset over plans to turn it into housing for homeless families.

Councilors voted 6-2 to sell the 243 S. Broadway property to Peabody Properties of Braintree last night. The developer wants to build 16, two-bedroom apartments for homeless families in the historic school. Its proposal also includes a play area for children, 26 parking spaces, and access to support services, including counseling, job training and day care.

"Sixty Lawrence families will sleep in homeless shelters tonight," said Larry Oaks, Peabody Properties' senior manager. Currently, 83 students attending Lawrence public schools are homeless and are bused to the city every day from hotels in Haverhill, Chelmsford and Peabody.

City Councilor Grisel Silva was the first to express her support for the sale last night, noting personal circumstances left her homeless during the past year. She received tremendous support from family and friends and now has permanent housing. However, she said she works three jobs to make ends meet.

"There's a lot of people out there in tough situations. ... As a councilor and a human being, I have to put myself in other people's shoes," said Silva.

But many area residents fought the development proposal, mainly due to size and the congested area it was being built in. Others worried about the families and problems such a development might attract.

Last night, Barbara Jones of Greenhill Street said the city has "plenty of Section 8 housing already" and questioned why the developers didn't want to buy property in Andover, North Andover and Methuen for this type of housing.

Peabody Properties, in response to the neighbors after a first meeting in January, came back to the table with a smaller plan that included more parking and a bigger play area for the children.

Councilor-at-large Roger Twomey thanked Peabody Properties for its effort, but said he could not support the sale because of residents' concerns. He also said that since Jan. 1, 2007, 45 accidents occurred on South Broadway in the vicinity of the school.

The area councilor, David Abdoo of District E, also voted against the sale, saying he heard the wishes of area residents "loud and clear."

"As councilors, it's incumbent upon us to represent the neighbors," Abdoo said.

While Twomey and Abdoo voted no, Silva, Nilka Alvarez-Rodriguez, Michael Fielding, Jorge Gonzalez, Frank Moran and City Council President Patrick Blanchette voted in favor of selling the school to Peabody Properties. Councilor Nick Kolofoles of District D was absent last night.

In other council news:

Councilors refused to raise parking ticket fines as the city struggles to find much-needed cash. However, they did vote to raise delinquent fees on excise and property tax bills.

The fee jumps from $5 to $30 for tax bills that are more than 30 days late and city records show that more than 40 percent of Lawrence taxpayers pay their bills late.

teacher said...

To anon 21:01
The transient student population definitely hurts our scores. As a teacher, I can attest to this fact. They drift from community to community and feel little to no attachment to where they live. Sometimes they resent having to leave where they were to take an open housing placement. If you are not in the school dept. you are unaware of 90% of the issues surfacing. Even at the elementary level we have gangs, weapons and drugs. Deny it all you want- but it won't get better until we acknowledge it and find a way to help.

Anonymous said...


Students who transfer from one district to another district will not be counted in the original school and district cohort, but will be counted in the second school and district cohort.

So if a transient student comes to Fall River and then moves again to another school district, it does not count against Durfee.

For too long the dropout rate at Durfee has been blamed on transient students who are there one year and gone the next. However, the new formula for the graduation rate does not affect students who move from one district to another.

Anonymous said...


If Fall River could build a bubble around its borders long enough for the students in Kindergarten now could reach Grade 12, what percentage of those students do you predict would graduate from high school?

I know Fall River has a lot of residents that were educated abroad and have low levels of educational attainment. However, we have plenty of first generation and second generation Americans that have not pursued higher education.

It's a shame we live in a city that only 9% of residents 25 years old and over have a Bachelor's degree.

Anonymous said...

Why complain about the pictures!!! The video is a true depiction of what you see coming over the braga bridge.this city is in the worst shape i have ever seen it in since the late 70's when Bedford street was loaded with prostitutes. Hurricane stop looking at the city through rose colored glasses. Why you don't blame the mayor for this mess and blame the state the federal goverment the unions ect. What happened to the buck stops here!!! New Bedford did a better job with this mess and the only difference is they have a different mayor.

Anonymous said...

new bedford did the same thing fr did.

Anonymous said...

I don't think New Bedford laid off 50+ police officers.

Anonymous said...

here is a better picture- is it true???

johnybfallriver said...

where does 11.3% come up as a number for subsidized housingthat number is 100% crap, I have been renting apartments for over 6 years and the ratio is like 70 section8 20% tenants that actaully pay 100% of there rent, how ever they come up with these numbers it is not correct, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

johnybfallriver said...


Plenty of FallRiverites go to collage, and when we get there we say "man I lived in a crappy city" If they took the numbers and only counted poeple that were born in FR they would be very different, not many people would go to school and get a good job and stay in FR, the goal is to move to Westport, Somerset or Dartmouth, or out of state, I was the 5th generation born in FR and the last for my family there is no way I would ever buy a house to live in in Fall River.

On another note if the city wants to keep jobs they could keep a guy on the DPW payroll and have him drive anound ticketing Westport poeple leaving trash in FR if I had a dollar for evey person I seen do it I would have a few bucks, I complained and it still goes on, Fall River is supporting the no income & the westport poeple

Anonymous said...

Qualified Unit – In general an ownership unit created by Chapter 40B (or another accepted program) are counted as qualified units on the SHI. In rental developments however, the rules are different.

Per guidelines published by DHCD in December 2006, “[I]n a rental development, if at least 25% of units are to be occupied by eligible households earning 80% or less than the area median income (or alternatively, if at least 20% of units are to be occupied by households earning 50% or less of area median income) and meet all criteria outlined in Section 1, then all of the units in the rental development shall be eligible for inclusion on the SHI.

If fewer than the aforementioned percentages of units in the development are so restricted, then only the affordable units are eligible for inclusion on the SHI.”

Anonymous said...

Write to the reporter of the article and give her the true story on Fall River:

Erin Ailworth can be reached at

Anonymous said...

This video and article looked accurate to me, had she gone into the Highlands as some would have preferred, she there too would have picked up footage of For Sale signs on theses well manicured lawns. Let's face it, the city is in despair, not that it can't be turned around, but let's be real here, she certainly could have gotten into the gang problem and did not, as for the people interviewd, again Accurate.

Anonymous said...


I love how you blame the students in this fake transient argument which overlooks the basic lack of a overall cohesive and practical plan to identify and recitify the dropout rate facing the children in Fall River. For far too long the citizenry has accepted the argument that the failing schools were due to the population rather than the lack of a curriculum plan which goes beyond textbooks and instead focuses on relevancy and other models which have worked in cities with much greater problems and issues than this fair city. It is this lack of creativity in the school system and the lack of enough teachers who recognize the challenges presented and answer with solutions by adapting a more "hollistic multicultural approach" to education, which has doomed so many children and multiple generations of Fall Riverites.

Fischer did not get it we shall see if Brown does.

BCC and Umass dartmouth would not be so filled with so many kids in their early and mid twenties and thirties going back to school, if they had been reached earlier on when they were in the primary and secondary systems of Fall River. The very existence of such a large population of ged and non traditional college studnets proves that it was the not the kids who failed to learn but rather the system which failed to "learn them."
Until, we have teacher swho actually like their jobs and the glorious mission in life that it is, we shall not ever see a change in the system. If Brown is unable to accept the challenge and provide the neccesary tools to the principals and staff and evolve the pedagogical stndardization currently employed into a delivery system which reaches the children and adds relevance to their experience in school, she will also fail and the cycle will go on and on and on and on.

Anonymous said...

fisher did get it he inproved the system the teachers railroaded him cause he made them toe the mark

Anonymous said...

the globe article said wat marc munroe dion's been saying for 10 years in his column...and he's right

Tom Paine said...

Yes, you are right, Marc Munroe Dion has been writing negative columns for years and sooner or later he will be right. The problem with Mr. Dion is that he enjoys stepping on everyone, that is the only way he feels better about himself.

He makes off he is this hard working blue collar person.

One thing he has never done is come up with legitimate solutions. Mr. Dion can make fun of everyone, the easiest thing to do when writing, but when it comes to honesty and solutions he is totally lacking.

It seems that the average, bar sitting, low educated Fall Riverite loves him. Why? The answer is they love to think everyone is being screwed like them.

Anonymous said...

Dion is the only writer including bloggers who seems to know, like andwant to speak about real, average people

Anonymous said...

Hurricane is the man of the people..He speaks for us!!The young people all listen to the Hurricane

shamrock said...

Anon 20:41, I am a real/average person and I talk about myself alot so you are wrong on that one.

Anonymous said...

I do listen to the Hurricane, and he can be rough at times, which is fine. With that being said I do Not like it when he pussy foots around with the Mayor, Haddad, Kozak, Camara, Joe that is, because he has grown up in the mist of politics because of Daddy... I want the hard core questioning no matter who it is!
Love Grandma, and Scott is a welcome wacko!

Anonymous said...

He wasnt easy on the mayor last time..and certainly wasnt easy on kozak.Hurricanes show is where the action is!!

Anonymous said...

If Hurricane's show is where the action is, why all the self promotion on the blogs and their 10 readers?

Anonymous said...

Since there are 100's of people listening nationwide why are you so concerned about 10 wacko bloggers??? Isn't that a waste of your time ???

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me, he wasn't hard on Kozak? Please, he stated on air he had a hard time sleeping the night before the interview.. I learned more about Herren's personal relationship with Kozak's family than anything else. I wanted answers not Fluff!! Hard nosed question.... "Do you feel the city council is united?"
No Brainer, he "CERTAINLY" can do better than that.. By the way he might let Ryan Phelan speak, he's quite articulate, and please don't bring in another, everyone knows 3rd wheels are just that.