Friday, February 27, 2009

Not Funny

Background: After the RDA decided on 64 Durfee St on Monday, they had one other item in the agenda. A company in Commerce Park (a lighting company I believe) wants permission from the RDA to get a variance to have a daycare center in their building. They would accept kids from ages 1 to 7. The day care center would be for their employees and possibly for employees of other companies in Commerce and Industrial Park.


video

Thursday, February 26, 2009

VIDEO: SAVE OUR ARTS OVERLAY DISTRICT RALLY

"Winston Churchill said that, 'Americans can be counted on to do the right thing after they have exhausted all the alternatives' and it seems like the [Fall River] city government right now, is working on the Churchill plan"

Jeff Carpenter, Arts United

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE SAVE OUR ARTS OVERLAY DISTRICT RALLY



The Truth by City Councilor Steve Camara

SAVE THE DATE/TIME
Friday, 2/27/09 @ 3:30pm on WSAR 1480am


In the interest of TRUTH, I ask you to tune in on Friday, 2/27/09 @ 3:30pm on WSAR 1480am when I will be a guest of Mike Herren's Talk Show. Some of you know me well and others hardly at all. I want you to know me better. As I consider my political future and as I recognize that my possible candidacy for higher office is perceived by some to be a threat to the status quo, I want to assure you that I am willing and able to move forward and do what I can to change the political climate of our City to allow it to move in a direction that will be better for all who live, work and visit here.

Mike Herren announced on Wednesday that he had "Breaking News" which turned out to be that he "uncovered" "public information" that exposes my "hypocrisy" concerning 64 Durfee Street, The Durfee College of Technology Building, which is in the process of being sold to Peabody Properties for a development that most, if not all, of us opposed. The short of it is that Mike Herren has discovered that I own residential property which houses people and some of these people are "subsidized". I have stated that three (3) of my twenty-seven (27) Downtown (Pine and Purchase Street) apartments [approximately ten percent (10%)] have Section 8 certificates. Mike claims I have many more people with "subsidies". Moreover, Mike claims that because I received CDA loans and grants to reconstruct/rehabilitate/restore two (2) of my houses (286-292 Pine Street and 214-216 Purchase Street) that these loans constitute "subsidized tenancies".

This is the beginning of what will be continuing attacks on my character and integrity to assure I will not be a candidate for higher office. It is an attempt to silence my advocacy for the kind of development that will create a better Downtown and Lower Highlands neighborhood. My properties provide decent and affordable housing for people of varying income levels, integrated into the neighborhood rather than "warehoused" in a single building.

The facts are simple. Since 1979, I have purchased five (5) properties and I have spent a whole lot of money buying and reconstructing these properties to improve the character and integrity of a neighborhood that was on the verge of both physical and social decay. Earlier this decade, I spent approximately one million dollars ($1,000,000) to buy and reconstruct two (2) of my houses, creating nine (9) units, three (3) of which are handicapped-accessible and all of which are de-leaded and asbestos-free. Also, I was required to provide a sprinkler system, a fire-prevention requirement of the building and fire codes for multi-family houses of four (4) or more units (286-292 Pine Street is a six (6) unit building). Approximately six hundred thousand dollars ($600,000) was a CDA low-interest (3 or 4%) loan with a small grant [approx. seventy-five thousand dollars ($75,000)] for creating handicapped-accessible housing and de-leading the units. This money is available to any property owner who can demonstrate that the investment will enhance the neighborhood in which the property is located. The balance, approximately four hundred thousand dollars ($400,000.00), came from other personal sources, mostly equity accounts from my other properties.

Clearly, this million dollar investment is significant for a six-family house and a three-family house; however, I chose to undertake this for several reasons including my desire to "bring back" these houses from the verge of decay and to protect the investment I had made in my other houses that are abutters to and surround these two (2) houses. Assuredly, if I sold these two (2) houses I doubt that I would recoup my purchase price and reconstruction investment at this time. However, I know that I share with other investors of historical properties the desire and the satisfaction of "saving" a piece of history and the hope that someday there will be a return on the investment.

If you want more information, please feel free to question me. If you do listen to the program and are inclined to call (the "talk show" number is 508-673-1480) and your participation is appreciated.

Mike Herren is presenting the effort we put into the 64 Durfee Street issue as a means to attack personally The Fiolas, Alan Amaral, John Almeida, Nick Christ, Dave Raymondo and the integrity of the "power structure" of Fall River. My focus is to develop a new "power structure" that is both democratic and visionary.

Finally, while I understand that some of you feel that the WSAR talk shows should be ignored, I know that all forms of media and other forms of outreach must be used in order to advance support from the public for both causes and candidacies.

Steve Camara

Hypo'christ'y

On January 8, 2001 Nick Christ, the chairman of the Community Advisory Group on Public Housing, published a report. It is amazing that Nick Christ is now pushing for additional affordable / subsidized housing. Here are excerpts of the report Nick Christ authored.

“The city also has a high percentage of rental assisted housing, including units managed by the Fall River Housing Authority (FHRA), which for the most part are in need of significant renovation and/or modernization.”

“…the report indicates that Fall River at 17.3% had one of the highest amounts of rental assisted housing (project based and tenant vouchers), as a percentage of total housing in 2000, in the Commonwealth.”

“…the current rent at older, multi-family properties can support appropriate income levels within 40% and 125% of median household income ($12,000 to $36,000), depending on the size of the unit, while still being within HUD’s standard of 30% for housing costs.”

“As such, the City has an excess supply of 2,000 to 3,0000 housing units in relation to the potential number of households that would qualify for rental assistance. This is because a supply of roughly 17,200 units exist at older, multi-family properties where rents are considered affordable for this income group.”

“it is clear that the city has one of the highest amounts of rental assisted housing (17.3%) within the Commonwealth”

“there is an oversupply of 2,000 to 3,000 private housing units which exceeds the potential local demand for affordable housing.”

“the high percentage of rental assisted housing has placed more demands on city services in the area of public safety and education”

Nick Christ’s committee made these recommendations: “Recommend to the Mayor of the City of Fall River, that the city develop an overall comprehensive housing strategy so as to effectively coordinate housing, economic development, education and city services and other public policy concerns.”

“Recommend to the Mayor of the City of Fall River that the Fall River Housing Authority and the City of Fall River place a moratorium on the issuance of new Section 8 vouchers and the construction of non-owner occupied low income housing units. In addition, the Fall River Housing Authority should work with the South Shore Housing Development Corporation to relocate some of the existing vouchers to the surrounding towns.”

Here is great recommendation that Christ made:

“Recommend to the Mayor of the City of Fall River the development of a cap and a reduction of total housing units allocated for rental assistance (i.e., project based and tenant vouchers) from the current 17.3% to a range of 12% - 15% through a reduction of tenant vouchers and a reduction of density in Pleasant View, Sunset Hill, Heritage Heights and Maple Gardens.”

So there was have Nick Christ saying we must reduce rental assistance and now he wants to increase rental assistance!!!

Community Advisory Meeting December 18, 2000 Minutes Nick Christ stated: “The Housing Authority takes the state money and rehabilitates these projects but the private sector gets hurt because people living in the old housing stock surrounding the projects moves to new housing stock. Mr. Christ mentioned that what happens is the surrounding neighborhood further deteriorates and valuations, i.e. tax dollars, which drive the city and makes it a viable place to live declines further.”

I guess Mr. Christ is not so concerned about the private tenements any longer.


-Courtesy of Tom Paine

Wow

Fall River loses out on $2 million for bus station

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

RDA/FROED Meeting Video 2/24/09 on 64 Durfee

UPDATE FULL VIDEO AVAILABLE


CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL MEETING VIDEO
_______________________________________________

Although I didn't enjoy the outcome, this hour long meeting was great. Due to technical diffuculties I only have the first 12 mins so far. I will update this later today.

I am thrilled at the amount of people that showed up and hopefully this increased scrutiny of FROED/RDA will continue because I think they need it.


CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"Beyond Reproach" or Caught Rewriting TIF Agreements?

I keep hearing that we should not question the motives, righteousness, virtue, honor, etc of Ken Fiola, executive vice president of the Fall River Office of Economic Development. To reiterate some points I have made in the past:

RECAP
  • Ken Fiola should not be the treasurer of his wife's campaign because he is functionally/constructively a municipal employee and that is a violation of campaign finance law.
  • Ken Fiola, as treasurer, should have recused himself from reviewing and making recommendations in favor of Peabody, where Peabody is a regular contributor to his wife's campaign funding. It is my contention that it is a violation of state ethics rules.

"BREAKING NEWS"

Fiola was clearly pleased to "break the news" on wsar yesterday that Burbank had a potential funding source from a "corporation" that wasn't yet incorporated. Despite the fact that this is legal business practice and that Burbank made no false representations about the fact that their funding was not yet incorporated, the wsar program yesterday with Ken Fiola and Alan Amaral hinted that there was something fraudulent afoot.

So here is my (old) "breaking news" on Mr. Ken "beyond reproach" Fiola who recently recommended the awarding of a TIF (tax increment finance) agreement to yet another company that contributed to his wife's campaign which could result in approximately $240,000 in tax benefits.......He was caught by the city council in 2000 REWRITING TIF agreements AFTER the City Council approved the specific wording of the agreements. Fiola, who gets paid handsomely for his duty of getting "Jobs for Fall River (the actual name of FROED)" rewrote one particular TIF agreement, among others, granting Quaker a 20 year TIF. The council approved of a TIF agreement with Quaker in May 1999. The agreement granted Quaker a 20-year TIF exemption. In return Quaker pledged to build a roughly 358,000-square-foot facility on Jefferson Street, and also to hire 700 new employees. According to Councilor Brian Pearson, the language in the Quaker TIF the state received and approved greatly differed from the TIF agreement the council had authorized earlier. Fiola's erroneously altered wording in the agreement removed the wording the Council had inserted in the agreement stating its "preference" that Quaker use local contractors "who have registered apprenticeship programs with the commonwealth of Massachusetts to encourage the training of a skilled work force." JOBS FOR FALL RIVER ........FAIL

According the the councilors in the same Herald News article, SEVERAL TIF agreements had been changed. Is Ken up to his old tricks again???????????? Nah, he is BEYOND REPROACH

RELATED ARTICLES TO KEN FIOLA REWRITING TIF'S

http://www.zwire.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=1171001&BRD=1710&PAG=461&dept_id=99784&rfi=8

http://www.zwire.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=1166953&BRD=1710&PAG=461&dept_id=99784&rfi=8

Monday, February 23, 2009

Spin Free

The opponents of the Peabody projects aren't supporting Burbank, they (AND THE ENTIRE CITY COUNCIL BY VOTE - which is funny since i am listening to pat casey contradict herself right now) are supporting the rewriting of the RFP and going out to bid again.... And out to bid beyond the Herald News and one other paper.

EA Fish bait and switch - the truth


FURTHERMORE to Attys Fiola and Amaral - here is a refresher on preincorporation contracts: http://www.law.uvic.ca/mgillen/315/documents/Ch15-Pre-IncContracts.pdf

....for the next time you accuse Burbank of malfeasance.

Save 64 Durfee Rally !!Today!!



IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT-PASS IT ON

Tune in today, Monday, February 23, 2009, WSAR 1480 and call at 508-673-1480.

Al Lima and Ken Fiola will be on the Mike Herren show to discuss 64 Durfee Street.

Any and all who can call to support Al will be helpful and then, join us and bring others to the RALLY at 64 Durfee Street to Save the Arts Overlay District!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

64 Durfee Street - Audio from the RDA/FROED meeting

An audio copy of the RDA/FROED meeting from 1/21/09 recently came into my possession, unfortunately the sound quality isn't very good. The only person that comes across clearly on the audio is John Almeida and a small portion of Nick Christ.

Email me ( shamrockblogger@gmail.com ) if you would like a copy of the original and I will try to get one to you as soon as I can depending on the demand. Maybe you have louder speakers than me and can hear it better. There are some great comments that are kind of discernible by Steve Camara, Jeff Carpenter, Ray Hague, and a very fierce Cathy Ann Viveiros giving John Almeida 'the bizness.'

video

A summary of the "best of" John Almeida

“Since I’m really not frankly an art buff”

“What other communities and cities and towns have had the opportunity to do, isn’t necessarily going to be happening here although some wish that it could”

“When I showed up to my first meeting of the redevelopment authority I saw on the conference table a big bag and all that was in that bag was crap; and they said put your hands in, pull some out, put it in the bag and deal with that bag one at a time”

“I don’t want to be here a long time because I don’t want to stay here a long time, cuz I honestly don’t think it’s necessary to be here a long time, maybe I’m dead wrong ‘kay? It’s not the only item on our agenda and when you look at our agenda”

“I didn’t require [RA] members to, in writing, evaluate the proposals, we had no previous discussions amongst ourselves about the proposal, we were to meet, vote, THEN discuss”

“If I gave you the impression that time is of the essence here that isn’t necessarily the case because we cannot afford to do this wrong, we cannot afford to do this wrong.”

“What else do we [RA] own that we have had for 20 years? [someone answers ‘the City Pier’] “We’re going to have Glow Ring Manufacturing developed on that site…….but I don’t mean to make light of it”

Thursday, February 19, 2009

WSAR Spin - Rent Control ?!

According to WSAR/Mike Herren today (listen here) the 64 Durfee Building is not going to be subsidized housing, it is rent controlled housing, which is absolutely false. A few points on this:
  1. Rent Control in Massachusetts was ended by a 1994 statewide referendum. (Although cities may pass by-laws allowing it as in the case of Lakeville where the General court finds that, a serious public emergency exists with respect to the housing of a substantial number of citizens in the which emergency has been created by excessive, abnormally high and unwarranted rental increases imposed by some owners of manufactured housing communities)
  2. Even if we had rent control in Fall River, the construct of rent control limits the amount rent is allowed to be raised as opposed to the 64 Durfee plan by Peabody which has Peabody taking low income tax credits because they will be housing government subsidized residents.

That being said do we need more subsidized housing? If so, does it need to be at 64 Durfee? Are we willing to throw away the only available nexus between downtown and the waterfront by turning it into low income housing for $200,000?

________________________________________________

Update for Anon 22:04


video

Speaking of Handicap Violations

The Traveling Wheelchair blog recently wrote a post about the inaccessibility of the South End Branch library.

"Parking is available on the street; yet there are no handicap parking spaces in sight. Tony, Kevin and I approached this small library to find that there is a sloped cement walkway leading to the front entry door but it is not accessible because there is a 10″ inch threshold at the door that prevents wheelchair access.

Tony went inside and spoke with a nice librarian. She explained that requests have been made to make this library accessible; but it has not been done due to lack of finances. She told him that she feels sorry for those in wheelchairs that she has to turn away. She told a story of one man in a wheelchair that was so desperate to enter that he transferred himself from his wheelchair to a chair right inside the door. This is a safety and liability hazard so it is good he was not injured."
Keri Rodrigues also did a blog post on this issue shortly after The Traveling Wheelchair posted.


By operating this library branch, the City of Fall River is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act which opens the city up to lawsuits. The worst part is that the city doesn't even own this inaccessible building, they rent it, and the city just signed another year long contract for the space.

Click here to view the 2008-2009 contract (I believe you have to download it view). Please not that Fall River Corporation Council, Arthur Frank, signed the lease, giving his legal approval for the city to rent a space that is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act....more excellent legal oversight.

The recent contract has the city paying $18,000/year to rent this legally violative space. Under last year's contract the city was paying $16,320. So the city is actually paying more this year for this liability.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My New Favorite Person




From "My Friend Ian" who I am pretty sure I will be starting a fan club for or at least bidding on his living room on ebay.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bob's Backyard

Imagine my surprise at seeing the giant heap of trash outside of city hall today. In city hall's defense, I believe it belongs to the bank next door and not city hall BUT Bob's Lexus is even in one of the pictures. He has to know his neighbor is leaving mounds of uncanned trash out many hours before putting trash out is allowed. I believe the bank next door is Citizen's Union...but Bob would never ticket a friend, just the little people that voted for him.



I suppose it doesn't matter since the rats have already taken over city hall.

Update:
To the people that have again indicated I am falsifying information - these pictures were taken around 12:30pm yesterday. The bright light coming from behind government center is THE SUN. Should you be so inclined, I would suggest you take a trip to city hall today around 12:30 and note the position of the sun in relation to the building. Not that I can expect the naysayers to believe it, but the position of the sun can prove the time and the time was HOURS before trash is allowed to be put out.

Monday, February 16, 2009

64 Durfee's Fate

The RDA (and FROED) meeting to determine the fate of 64 Durfee will be: Tuesday, February 24, 2009, at 3:30PM at FROED (the room is labeled "Jobs For Fall River") Office, One Government Center, 6th floor for the Redevelopment Authority meeting when it is expected to act on the issue of 64 Durfee Street and its re-use (attendees for this meeting should meet at the cafeteria of Government Center/first floor (behind the elevators) at 3:00PM

Save the Arts Overlay District RALLY

You have been invited by Arts United, Lower Highlands/Historic Downtown Neighborhood Association, Save Our Neighborhoods to SAVE THE ARTS OVERLAY DISTRICT RALLY!

64 Durfee Street, Former Durfee College of Technology64 Durfee StreetFall River, MA 02720

Monday, February 23, 5:00PM

SAVE THE ARTS OVERLAY DISTRICT!

JOIN US at 64 Durfee Street (former Durfee College of Technology) for a rally, sponsored by Arts United, Lower Highlands/Historic Downtown Neighborhood Association and Save Our Neighborhoods to support re-use of 64 Durfee Street for a mixed use, artists' live/work/sell space with venues for commercial and entertainment uses!
BRING EVERYONE YOU KNOW!
PASS IT ON!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Don't Take the Cut!

A retroactive 8% pay cut is RIDICULOUS and in my opinion the city employees should not stand for this. An 8% retroactive pay cut amounts to an over 20% pay cut for the remainder of the year. Can the mayor even allow retroactive pay cuts....this can't be legal and I will be researching it (on that note, has anyone else heard that arthur frank quit? still needs verification but he has been missing lately).

If pay cuts are needed as a result of recent cuts to local state aid why are the pay cuts retroactive...weren't the local aid cuts just made and not retroactive?

The budget needs to be scrutinized with a particular emphasis on the Mayor's staff and spending. Let's start at the top.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Let the Games Begin!

A belated Happy Election Season to everyone and congratulations to Mike Raposa who won the race to announce candidacy for the mayoral race....hopefully this will be the only time "Mike Raposa," "won," and "mayoral race" will be together in a sentence.

Getting to know Mike Raposa:

By Will Richmond
GateHouse News Service
Posted Aug 07, 2007 @ 12:23 AM
Fall River —
FALL RIVER — A candidate for City Council is facing assault charges after allegedly beating a man up behind a County Street bar.Police said Michael Raposa, 39, of 52 Wood St., has been summonsed to Fall River District Court on a misdemeanor assault and battery charge.Police spokesman Lt. Paul Bernier said an investigation into the matter is still ongoing and that police reports on the matter were not available.Repeated attempts to contact Raposa were met by a phone message saying the call did not go through.The man who was allegedly assaulted said the incident stemmed from a conversation the two men had during a game of pool at the Latino Cafe on July 31.

_________________________________________________

All this being said, I have to give Mike Raposa the Shamrock seal of approval for kicking off the campaign with an all you can drink green beer party....I look forward to the March 18th police log.

Breaking (but not surprising) News

The city council just voted for President Joe Camara

Monday, February 9, 2009

Redevelopment Authority, FROED, and Councilor Casey Play Hooky

The City Council Subcommittee for Economic Development and Tourism Committee chaired by Councilor Steve Camara met tonight to discuss ....economic development, of course, but with a particular emphasis on the future of 64 Durfee Street.

It is nice, and encouraging, to have so many like minded, enthusiastic, people anxious to revitalize the city in many ways, including the development of a 'creative economy.' It is, however, highly discouraging, yet not surprising, that the Fall River Office of Economic Development didn't bother to show up at the economic development meeting. As far as I am concerned, FROED needs all the help they can get and should be going to these meetings. No one from the Redevelopment Authority was there nor was committee member Casey....apparently the hierarchy isn't serious about Fall River's revitalization.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Rat Control


The city's new logo for the rat control program.


My new logo for my rat control program.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Budget Cut Recommendation

Paul Walnuts made a budget cut recommendation in the Herald News comments that got me laughing:

"I just saved the city $50 large."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Juxtaposition FAIL

video

2-5-09 Herald News Headline
City facing mass layoffs

Getting Rid of Rats with Alliterative Slogans

Which of the Mayor's slogans do you find more effective in controlling the rat population:

"Enforce, Eradicate, and Educate"

OR (the new one)

"Comply, Control, and Cover"


My suggestion would actually be to make sure DPW picks up trash on the days they are supposed to (not sure what happened with them this week), cite people for putting out trash early, and make sure people are using barrels...Remove, Reprimand, and Review!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

(Prison) Food For Thought

From the FBI Website - Corruption in City Hall

The Crooked Reign of “King” Albert
01/08/07

Most of the corrupt politicians we investigate illegally peddle favors—the proverbial “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” kind, usually with money passed under the table to fully satisfy the itch.

Then there’s Albert Robles.

“He was so corrupt, he basically put an entire city under his thumb,” says Los Angeles Special Agent David Smith, who led the case for the FBI.

Robles is now serving a 10-year sentence for his 30 fraud and corruption-related crimes while treasurer of South Gate, California—a largely industrial community about 12 miles outside downtown Los Angles. The city is run by a popularly elected five-member city council, which in turn names the Mayor and Vice-Mayor.

Once elected city treasurer in 1997, Robles’ seemed determined to rule the city—purely to his own benefit. He even proclaimed himself “King of South Gate”…and referred to the city as his “fiefdom.”

His corrupt tactics included:

  • Using the city’s treasury as his “private piggy bank for himself, his family, and his friends” (according to acting U.S. Attorney George Cardona), costing South Gate more than $35 million and bringing it to the verge of bankruptcy;
  • Firing city hall employees at will, replacing them with supporters who had little experience; (deja vu)
  • Recruiting and bankrolling unqualified local supporters for city council until he controlled the council; and (Mike Lund ....now Brian Bigelow)
  • Threatening anyone who stood in his way (suspiciously, one of his adversaries on the city council was shot in the head). (Watch out Steve Camara and Ray Hague....you may need a kevlar vest)

For the love of money. Robles and his corrupt cronies cooked up several schemes to line their own pockets. In one, Robles coerced businesses to hire a financial consultant named Edward Espinoza in order to win various city contracts, including for senior housing and sewer rehabilitation projects. (Ah an Edward who donated to the Mayor's campaign and who knows what else, a senior housing project, and a Mayor pushing the project....weird)

As part of this plan, Robles and Espinoza set up a shell corporation that raked in some $2.4 million—more than $1.4 million of which went straight into Robles’ pockets. He used part of the money to buy a $165,000 beach condo in Baja for his mother; he also forked over $55,000 for “platinum membership” in a motivational group.

In another scheme, Robles steered a $48 million refuse and recycling contract to a company in exchange for more than $30,000 in gifts and campaign contributions. (Why did Bob push a new trash/recycling system despite the fact that it will put us in more debt?)

Making the case. Four agents in our L.A. office and one IRS agent worked to gather the proof—conducting dozens of interviews, poring over financial records, and examining information from seized computers. “We opened the case in June 2000…and spent many months getting everything together to show the length and breadth of Robles’ corruption,” says Smith.

In the end. The citizens of South Gate ultimately voted Robles and his cronies out of office (but not before he racked up huge legal bills at the city’s expense), and he was convicted at trial in July 2005. Two of his business associates—including Espinoza—also went to prison.

It’s a good case in point why we’ve made rooting out public corruption our fourth highest priority—and our top criminal one. We’ve helped convict more than 1,000 federal, state, and local government officials in the last two years alone.