Monday, November 30, 2009

Moak says holidays not ruined

I found this little snippet in the paper amusing:

Moak said last week he disagrees with recent claims that holidays have been ruined in recent years for neighbors of Crow Lane, due to the presence of odors and smells from the landfill.

Moak said that there has been one holiday — Christmas of 2006 — that neighbors suffered from the smells. In 2007 and 2008, there were no problems at Thanksgiving or Christmas, the mayor added.

"I beg to differ that anything happened in '07 or '08," Moak said.

Moak also worked to ensure that this year's Thanksgiving was odor-free.

"We kill ourselves to make sure that happens," the mayor said..

I went back and looked at complaints registered on the email chain by neighbors. Apparently the 4th of July doesn't rank as a "holiday" in the mayor's mind. There were numerous complaints both on July 4 and July 5 ... and the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th ... in fact, right through into August.

Didn't I hear somewhere (a recent public meeting w/DEP) that the final membrane layer (FML) would be in place by the day after Thanksgiving?

Then why did I see an email from a landfill neighbor dated 11/29, complaining of odors?

I did not have time to note it before, but it was New Ventures, the landfill owner, who delayed the placement of the FML by not doing what it was supposed to do!

When will this ever end? Someone should look into this ....

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ideas for use of the JFK

As you know, we are about to obtain the famous battleship The JFK ... well, we're not, really, but if we were, here are a few ideas for uses (germinated at my sister's house after Thanksgiving dinner):

  • Luxury condos - "a historic residential address"
  • Casino
  • Jetty (south jetty needs serious repair) ... and then we could ...
  • Move houses on PI/Newbury off the dune and onto the JFK, or
  • Use JFK as barrier to mainland when PI washes away
  • Convention center --> invite Repubs in and set JFK adrift (that one came from my mom)
  • A re-education center (mom) .... and for whom? (dad)
  • Airport (then we could use the current airport for the senior center)
  • Evacuation center (military ships are very safe, unless the nuclear meltdown is on the ship; but JFK doesn't have nukes)
  • Amusement park/venue for fireworks
  • Bridge between NBPT and Amesbury and/or Salisbury while Hines Bridge is closed for 2 yrs. (proposed not by a family member, but by Dick Monahan, who was not at my sister's house today) or a permanent link between NBPT and Salisbury. Either of these would block most or all of the egress down the river ...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Whale tanks

Well I suppose by now you've all heard the news about The Thirsty Whale. I'm on the case but wow, I did not know about it until one of my partners in NBPT Biz sent out an email after she saw it on the TV.

We (at NBPT Biz) have some thoughts on this, but since they are thoughts for over there, I won't go into them on here.

This kinda sucks, huh?

Did you know there's a blog on there, too? So now I have 3 email addresses, 2 blogs and ... and I miss not having a lot to do except fret about how little I have to do.

Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving - and don't forget your blessings (whoever you pray to). I am going to thank my lucky stars for all of you, even that anonymous poster who clearly thinks I'm a liberal lunatic.

Our problems are solved

Now that I've caught my breath from exuberance over this email I got from Ed Cameron ... take a look at this.

Ed says that he has found the location for a new senior center! But will the JFK fit between the jetties? Think of how much stuff we can pack into that sucker ...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Newburyport Business

We were so pleased last week to learn that a local social service agency plans to use our job listings section to match people who need a job with a job.

I don't know if you got the chance to read the piece in the Daily News, or my piece, about the new initiative ROOF Over Head, which is trying to help families who have become homeless because of the economy.

This is not a handout; it's transitional assistance and helping people to sustain themselves. The target is families with children.

And note that they define "homeless" as people who are living with friends or relatives.

The figures are alarming, considering how small an area we are talking about - Amesbury, Newburyport and Salisbury.

My partners and I hope that we can be of service, since that was our intent (although the phone call came as a very pleasant surprise).

We need more job postings. If you know anyone who needs help, or if you own a business and have any openings, please send them to

Pass it along ...

Thank you.

Why not?

I was told - and noticed myself - that the former home of Carlson GMAC real estate on Green St. is up for lease.

This is a big old house with a one-story addition (?) and a HUGE parking lot behind it.

Can anyone say "senior center?"

Blogging and stuff

I'm pondering whether I should suspend Port Reporter in favor of the Biz Blog over there on that site that actually generates money.

Then I think, "Noooo, I'd kinda like to keep this separate. You know, so I can criticize that site, when necessary."

Donna 'Holloday?' C'mon folks, let's get with it!

I'm not above trashing my own project.

So ... when things even out over there (meaning when we get someone else selling ads, soliciting job postings and writing some of the stories), I'll be be back here being on the tail of the old mayor, the new mayor and everyone else I happen to come across.

But yeah, if you are willing to write for us on barter for now, or sell ads (on commission, of course), let someone over there know by writing to

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving: message from Jeff Krumrine (edited)

Dear Friends,

Sending [an] Thanksgiving email has become an annual event now ...

This year I continue the tradition of volunteering on Thanksgiving Day that I began in 2005 at a church on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., that served a truly homeless population. My first year I worked security instead of as a food server (because of my size not temperament).

This year, like last year, I will be working at the Immaculate Conception Church here in Newburyport. They will be offering a Thanksgiving meal to anyone in the community from 11:00 AM – 2:00PM as well as delivering meals to those that cannot leave their homes.

Please let anyone you know that may be alone this Thanksgiving that they are welcome to attend. Or, have them call Kathy Heywood at (978) 463-3746 and they can request a meal be delivered to them (In Newburyport only, unfortunately!).

The people I will serve this Thanksgiving will undoubtedly be much different than the folks in Washington, D.C., but I believe that kindness and caring are not dependent on financial need. Like many of you, I have much to be grateful for and I need to be reminded of that on occasion. So I take this day to be thankful through kindness.

My wish for you on Thanksgiving is that you are able to take a moment to celebrate the abundance of food on your table, the family and friends that join with you and the safety and comfort of the home where you gather.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Jeff Krumrine

Newburyport, MA

Thanks to Jeff, Kathy and everyone involved for their giving spirit. I did this one year in Boston - there were hundreds of others also giving their time on a holiday - and it was really gratifying.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

No place for hate?

This city, Newburyport, is supposed to be no place for hate.

But when the LaRouche people appeared again in front of the Newburyport Post Office, the police informed me that they had a right to be there.

Well ... yes, they have a right to their opinion and to assemble. But as I pointed out to one of the officers, they did NOT have the right to the table they had set up on the public sidewalk. They need a permit from the city for that.

He argued with me. I told him I had been told that by someone in the mayor's office. He told me that if the mayor had a problem with it, he (the mayor) could call the NPD and tell them.

After a while, Nancy Haverington from First Parish Church and Ross Varney from the Belleville Church appeared. I had been talking to one of the men peddling their hate and I was so creeped out that I had to leave (plus I had a lunch date).

As all this was going on, a woman I know pulled up in her car and hailed me. She told me she had sent me a message on Facebook about her encounter with these people and could I do anything?

Later I saw City Clerk Richard Jones and he confirmed that they needed a permit. yay

When I got home, I read my friend's message. One of the men had told her that Obama wants her to get breast cancer and die.


What happened to "No Place for Hate?"

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Charter Commission meeting

The next meeting of the Charter Commission will be at 7 p.m. on Nov. 24 in the City Hall auditorium.

They're off!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Blasting at the landfill on Monday

Please be advised:

· There will be blasting commencing at 8am on Monday at the Crow Lane landfill.
· This blasting will occur for parts of three (3) days.
· This blasting is to enlarge a trench and retention pond area.
· There is no anticipated residual affect to the surrounding properties.
· The Newburyport Fire Department will be on-site during this process to monitor the activities of the company contracted to do this work.

John Moak

I become an entrepreneur

Newburyport Business went live yesterday. It's not all we want it to be - yet - so it's a work in progress.

This was our soft launch. We will have a hard launch in December, complete with celebration and fanfare.

I would like to thank my partners, Stewart Lytle and Melanie Wold, and our web designer Cindy Barnard, who not only gave us more than what we asked for but put up with three people simultaneously throwing input at her.

Suggestions/comments/story ideas are always appreciated. We're trying to fill a niche here, not supplant anyone else.

Friday, November 13, 2009

My scoop of the week

Oh, and by the way, the landfill neighbors have sued New Ventures.

They filed the complaint on Oct. 20.

I swear, those people are the absolute best at keeping secrets.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What was I thinking? (again)

I just signed onto the blog after about 24 hrs. and there were 5 comments waiting to be published.

What can I tell you?

I'm exhausted!

I don't know why I thought I could handle all this - 4 stories for Newburyport Business, 2 for the Current, a Townie Tuesday and soliciting ads and going to focus groups on superintendents - oh but wait - I have handled it.

But I'm exhausted!

I didn't have time to update you on last night's City Council meeting, but all they did was approve the $18,000/yr. stipend for DPS Director Brendan O'Regan to do something with the sewer plant project.

I'm still not clear on what it is extra he is doing.

Anyway, I want to extend my best wishes to Brendan, who is in the hospital but is still fielding calls on his cell phone.

I don't know - maybe that's why he deserves an extra $18,000 in his pay packet?

I hope he is up and about soon.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hitler meme* on Pleasant St.

I was quite startled/stunned/surprised while walking down Pleasant St. a couple of hours ago to see large placards with that infamous photo of Pres. Obama with a Hitler moustache on them next to a table and set up right outside the post office.

When I came out of my meeting with the mayor, the two people running the table were packing up. The placards (actually A-frame signs) said something about LaRouche, so I'm assuming it's part of Lyndon LaRouche's efffort to sink the health care bill.

As I walked by the table, I said, without looking at the people, "Not nice."

The man replied, "Obama is going to hell!" (Actually, I think he said some word that included "Obama," but I didn't quite catch what he said.)

I shook my head. "Nope, not nice."

*What is a meme? This is what it is, according to Wikipedia:

A meme (pronounced /ˈmiːm/, rhyming with "cream") is a postulated unit of cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena. (The etymology of the term relates to the Greek word μιμητισμός (pronounced /mɪmɪtɪsmos/) for "something imitated".) Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes, in that they self-replicate and respond to selective pressures. Memeticists have not empirically proven the existence of discrete memes or their proposed mechanism (compare the status of Platonic forms or of concepts such as "ideals"), and memes (as distinct from ideas or cultural phenomena) do not form part of the consensus of mainstream social sciences.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Mary's art show

My apologies for posting this so late. My fellow blogger and pal Mary Baker Eaton (or as she is known in the art world, Mary Baker) has an art show going on right now.

October 31-December 31, 2009

Presented by Kerim Kaya
41 State Street (corner of Essex Street)
Newburyport, MA 01950
Opening Reception
Saturday November 7, 2009
6 PM--9 PM
I am familiar with Mary's art, and it is very compelling.

Friday, November 6, 2009

News from City Hall

The sixteenth in the series of Conservations with the Mayor will be televised on Thursday, November 12 at 7:00 p.m.; Sunday, November 15th at 3:00 p.m.; Thursday, November 19th at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, November 22nd at 3:00 p.m.

Topics covered for this series include the Solar Panel project, the Rail Trail project, the Crow Lane Landfill, the Brown Square project and Free Cash.

The landfill - it ain't over yet

OK, so a couple of weeks ago the final membrane layer (FML) was about to be placed on the last bit of the landfill by the end of that week ... and yet, here it was a special meeting of the City Council on Nov. 5 and the MassDEP was telling us how the contractor laying the membrane had to leave to go to another job and won't be back until Nov. 18, or so.

But never fear, landfill neighbors - it should all be over in time to ruin your Thanksgiving. (As in, the new schedule for finishing this part of the job is the day after Thanksgiving.)

I can't even go into the rest of it because it's too late at night/early in the morning, but suffice it to say that the news was not good.

What also was not good was the absence of anyone representing Ward 1.

Everyone else was there, for at least part of the meeting (and even though Tom Jones came in very late, his wife Terry Berns was there). Bob Cronin was there. Ari Herzog was there.

I do believe I heard some tense of the word "concern" voiced by a councillor ...

There are, I think, 3 meetings left in this session of the Council.

I wonder if we have seen the last of Larry?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

More on write-in votes for mayor

While I was in the Clerk's Office yesterday - Have I ever mentioned how nice and accommodating the people in there are? - I asked about the write-in votes, as in specifically what names were written in for mayor.

The names were mostly familiar ones (I didn't write them all down) such as Dan McCarthy (who ran in 2007 but didn't make it through the primary), Steve Cole (ditto), Gardiner Bacon (ditto), Dan Sweeney (who pulled out of the 2009 race) and John Moak showed up, I think 4 or 5 times.

Also in there was Frank Kane, the guy who had the bumper stickers and who Larry Giunta a couple of weeks ago was wondering about.

There were only 24 in all.


I was in the YWCA this morning, waiting for a 10 o'clock appointment who was running late.

As I was sitting there, several young mothers entered or were leaving with their toddlers, I presume before and after swimming classes for the latter.

Just about every other mother who entered or left the building had a cell phone either held up to her ear with her hand or held up to ear with shoulder.

For some reason, I found this distressing.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

On Monday's agenda

The sure to be controversial issue of recompensing DPS Director Brendan O'Regan $18,000/yr. for running or assisting the consultant project manager in running the renovation of the sewer plant will be before the City Council on Monday.

I had heard of this about a month ago - and City Councillor Elect Bob Cronin went on a little rant about it during his interview with me on cable - so I'm sure that there will be 'discussion.'

I had heard that Mayor Moak rejected the plan. I also noticed that at the last public meeting about the project, O'Regan remained silent throughout.

Allison and I speak

I just had occasion to call Mayor Kezer's office in Amesbury and Allison Heartquist answered the phone.

Before I got down to the reason why I was calling, we spoke about the comments I made on here and I told her in detail what I wrote this morning - that she was elected, fair and square, and that she is now a member of the City Council (representing me) and that's that, as far as I'm concerned.

Of course, now that she's a public figure, she's under even more scrutiny, but ah, well ...

I had intended to call her at home, but since I had the opportunity to explain myself ... Well, I'm glad I took it and I'm happy to report her gracious suggestion that we start afresh.

Now what am I going to do about the anonymous commenter who wants me to investigate the controversial campaign contribution?

Well, Butch Frangipane says right here in the Daily News that it was his personal check and not a company check ... without him actually producing the canceled check, I don't know what else I can do. But I'll think on it.

I'm really looking forward to the new City Council.

Write-in votes (from City Clerk)


Holaday (write-in) - 147

Shanley (write-in) - 83

Mayor - 24 (names not specified)

Charter Commission - 48 (names not specified)

School Committee - 32 (names not specified)

Ward races - 52 total
Ward 1 - 1
Ward 2 - 13
Ward 3 -2
Ward 4 -22
Ward 5 - 5
Ward 6 - 9

Official results on the city website here. Thanks to Mary Baker Eaton of the The Newburyport Blog for pointing me to the page.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Final thoughts, post-election

Here are the (unofficial) numbers for mayor, ward-by-ward:

Ward 1P (Plum Island):
Holaday - 140
Shanley - 131

Ward 1:
Holaday - 426
Shanley - 320

Ward 2:
Holaday - 459
Shanley - 310

Ward 3:
Holaday - 384
Shanley - 463

Ward 4:
Holaday - 459
Shanley - 395

Ward 5:
Holaday - 406
Shanley - 289 (audible gasp from people in the room)

Ward 6:
Holaday - 430
Shanley - 349

Official (per Port Media):
Total Holaday: 2707
Total Shanley: 2258

Charter Commission confirmed as listed on previous post (again, per Port Media, who hung around for official results).

I'm a big believer in the process - the will of the people through their vote (or surveys), jury decisions, etc. I'm happy for EVERYONE who won (and applaud everyone who ran and did not win), and I think the City Council will be very interesting next session. Also glad there are still two women on there.

Charter Commission (unofficial)

From the Daily News:

Kathleen Bailey, chairman of this year's Yankee Homecoming Committee;
C. Bruce Brown, a former city councilor and Waterfront Trust member whose son is U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown;
Steve Cole, a lifetime Newburyport resident who is a member of the School Committee;
Roger Gagnon, a history teacher for 36 years at Newburyport High School who recently retired;
Hugh Kelleher, executive director of the Plumbing Contractors Association of Greater Boston who charis the city’s Tree Committee;
Bruce Menin, a non-profit administrator who was re-elected to a fourth term on the School Committee last night;*
Sheila Mullins, an interior designer who has lived in Newburyport for 22 years;
James Stiles, a data manager and environmental examiner who was runner-up for mayor two years ago;
and Bruce Vogel, a regional manager for an e-mail service provider who served four years on City Council.

* That's not correct - it was Steve Cole who was also re-elected to the School Committee.

Holaday wins; Council gets 3 new members

OK, here are the unofficial "official" results (Clerk Richard Jones did not release the absolute official numbers by the time I left City Hall).

Mayor - Donna Holaday

Ward 1 - Allison Heartquist (new)
Ward 2 - Greg Earls (unopposed)
Ward 3 - Bob Cronin (new)
Ward 4 - Ed Cameron (unopposed)
Ward 5 - Brian Derrivan (unopposed)
Ward 6 - Tom O'Brien (unopposed)

At-large councillors:

Barry Connell
Steve Hutcheson
Katy Ives
Tom Jones
Ari Herzog (new)

School Committee:

Steve Cole (re-elected)
Dan Koen
Cheryl Sweeney

There was confusion about the Charter Commission people but the voters did overwhelmingly approve the formation of the commission.

Congratulations to everyone!

Live election coverage

Live coverage of the election results will start at 8:30 p.m. I forgot to ask if it will be on Comcast Cable channel 9, or channel 10.

I'm winging it, so watch out ...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Yes, I do know that!

I do know that the mayor recommends appointments and the City Council approves, or does not approve, them.

It's just that the City Council so rarely challenges any of them. Aside from the occasional Gary Calderwood and John Morris ... Cliff Goudey ... that's three that I remember as being even remotely questioned in the last couple of years.

Shanley: no comment

James Shanley returned my call and said he has no comment on any appointments or hires he would make, should he be elected mayor.

Update: I think I should have added that he feels it's inappropriate, which is exactly what I thought he'd say. That's not a knock.

I found my spine re: the Planning Director

OK, so duh, I was reminded that the Planning Director position is co-terminus with the sitting mayor ... and as I was speaking with Donna Holaday on another matter a bit ago, I asked her about Nick Cracknell.

But I want to give James Shanley equal opportunity to answer so I'm waiting for a call back from him.

Oh, OK, I'll tell you that Holaday said that although she felt Cracknell is an "incredibly talented visionary," she would retain Sean Sullivan because Cracknell would be a very controversial appointment.

She said she consulted with people both within City Hall and without to see what they thought of the job Sullivan is doing, and she heard "nothing but wonderful things."

I'll let you know as soon as I hear from Shanley.

But doesn't this make you think twice about the issue of taking the City Marshal and Fire Chief positions out of civil service? Sullivan has only been in the Planning Dept. for one year, come January ... city officials should be very careful about this civil service issue and make sure those positions don't serve "at the pleasure" of the sitting mayor, should they be taken out of civil service.

And I agree with Tom Salemi that appointments to key boards should not be solely at the discretion of the mayor.

I have a feeling that, whoever is elected, there is going to be some "spring cleaning"of boards and committees ... or did I say that already?

Final thoughts on the election, maybe (I may have more later)

I had some interesting discussions over the weekend and in one of them, the person I was speaking to said that if James Shanley is elected, it will signal a significant change in the city.

That is, the triumph of the new order over the old order. I said that in a previous post, in a kind of sideways way when I was talking about people who love the Rail Trail vs. those who think the time/money could have been better spent elsewhere.

Someone pointed out that it was transportation money and that the whole point of the trail is to get people to walk or ride their bikes instead of driving.

Well, I remember a couple of years ago when architect Andy Sidford attempted to start a drive (ha-ha) to get people to ride their bike everywhere, on every Tuesday.

It went nowhere.

You take baby steps, not giant leaps. Some people here love giant leaps, such as the NRA's latest plans for its east parking lot, or building a whole new sewer plant at ginormous expense instead of just fixing up the old one (at enormous expense, but only a fraction of the cost of building a whole new plant somewhere else).

I will add here, however, my own perspective that Shanley is very sensitive to historic preservation - which at the same time alienates people who also think that the Rail Trail is a big waste of money.

And here on Plum Island - I said recently that people here are all islanders, no matter what, but I see that this even is changing.

The birth of the Plum Island Foundation I think has permanently fractured Plum Island, which was already cracking between the old guard and the new. Not to mention the permanent animosity that has sprung up between Newbury and Salisbury in the fight over sand.

Remember when Newbury was going to sue Salisbury to get the sand from the dredging, even though through an agreement, it was Salisbury's turn to get the sand? From the April 7, 2008, story in the Daily News:

The original battle over who has the right to the sand erupted last summer, encouraged by Plum Island beachfront resident Robert Connors and members of his Plum Island Beach Association. During a June 2007 interview, Connors said the jetties — built by the Army Corps in 1881 — interfere with the natural north-to-south hydraulics of sand movement along the coast. As a result, he argued sand dredged from the Merrimack River should never go to Salisbury — which is north of the river — but always be used to augement Plum Island, south of the river.

The animosity between PI Foundation members and PITA members is astounding. I guess Larry McCavitt, in the void of someone less contentious, represents PITA and Allison Heartquist represents the PI Foundation.

Heartquist is the mayor's candidate. So is Bob Cronin, although he seems to know what he's talking about.

It does not matter what Heartquist thinks about regionalization with Amesbury and Salisbury because she will never get to vote on any such plan, seeing as how she is executive assistant to the Amesbury mayor.

Ward 1 thus would lose a vote on that critical issue.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Introducing Newburyport Business

Two of my writing colleagues (Melanie Wold and Stewart Lytle) and I are launching the online paper Newburyport Business within the next two weeks. Here is our mission statement:

Newburyport Business is a weekly online, business-focused newspaper. Newburyport Business aims to be the go-to source for up-to-date news and information about businesses in the area. Newburyport Business publishes investigative news stories about local businesses, trends and issues. It also offers feature-length articles detailing local businesses, business people of interest and business trends. The articles, news stories and features will all be held to the highest journalistic standards. They will be neutral and balanced; all sides of any issue will be contacted for an opinion and, where possible, presented. Newburyport Business will not take sides in any conflict between businesses or townspeople. Newburyport Business contains a blog where the editors and guest bloggers can offer opinions on some of the issues in Newburyport that may affect business. These opinions will reflect only the opinion of the editor or guest blogger and not that of the newspaper.

We are also offering FREE job listings to area businesses because we feel it's important to have an easy, reliable portal for locals (and others) to identify and hopefully secure jobs locally.

If you, dear readers, have any ideas you would like to share about content/departments (and while our web developer is still in the process of putting the finishing touches on the site), please do so. Our aim is to be inclusive.

Also, if you own a business and have any job openings that you would like be listed on Newburyport Business, please send them to me ASAP.