Monday, July 19, 2010

Lyons likes Hudson

Here's a story from the MetroWest Daily News about our former Superintendent of Schools, Kevin Lyons.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New principal for Brown School

Amy Sullivan has been selected as the next principal of the George W. Brown Elementary School.

Sullivan has been a principal for the past nine years for the Peabody Public Schools and the Scituate Public Schools. She has taught grades 1-4 for the Cambridge Public School System and the St. John the Evangelist School. She received her Master of Education degree from Harvard University and her Bachelor of Arts degree from Curry College.

Sullivan recently moved to Newburyport and is now a resident of the city.

(That's all the press release says.)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What can it all mean?

I was standing at the meat counter in a local market recently and there was a tray of short cut steaks with only 2 pieces of meat left on it.

It reminded me of what the owner of Fowle's Market told me recently - that people don't buy the last of any food on a tray, in a bin, or anywhere else.

It's just human nature, I guess; except I bought both pieces and remarked that I was doing so because nobody else was going to do it ... (the guy behind the counter had apparently never noticed this trend in his customers).

So you have to wonder what this means, if it means anything, along with why the Fowle's guy's wine sales went up after he bought wine racks (as opposed to having the wine on shelves).

Do I need a diagnostic manual to decipher this bizarre behavior? Obviously, I'm no good at marketing ...

Monday, July 12, 2010

And finally ...

There were these transfers before the City Council tonight that involved transferring money to pay a settlement of $44,873.07 to former DPS Director Brendan O'Regan.

If you recall, he was removed from his position a while back by Mayor Donna Holaday.

The settlement is being paid out of funds from DPS - 40% from water, 40% from sewer and 20% from DPW/Highway.

The Council was very slick about swiftly approving all 3 transfers, but us reporter types were alert to the situation.

On another note, the water and sewer depts. combined have about $1 million in reserve funds!

Don't ask; or do ask and I'll do my best to explain.

Next City Council meeting

Ah ... I remember last year trying to park for the second July meeting of the City Council, which was during Yankee Homecoming.

I had to park all the way up by Kelley School ... which cost me about 5 mins. of walking, if that.

So the next City Council meeting will be on July 22, which is when the mayor has called a meeting with the Council for 7:30 p.m. about water (don't know what about water, yet).

All because of Yankee Homecoming!

Streetlight meeting (CORRECTED)

Tonight Ward 3 City Councillor Bob Cronin announced a meeting of the Public Safety standing committee for 7 p.m. on July 21.

The meeting will be in City Council Chambers and it is posted as a Committee-of-the-Whole (meaning the whole Council can be there).

Cronin told me (and DN reporter Katie Farrell Lovett) that the city pays a flat fee to National Grid for use of the streetlights.

So if one or two are not working, the city still pays the fee for it/them until someone lets National Grid know it's not working.

Along the same lines, Councillor Ari Herzog put forth an ordinance based on one in Gloucester about setting standards for "outdoor illumination of streets and public ways, property used for commercial and industrial uses and multi-family dwellings."

This relates to those "dark sky" lights, which EAC Chairman Mike Strauss said could be implemented as outdoor lights are replaced. Read this for more information about dark sky lights in Gloucester.

Your weekly dose: Yeah, I do like living in Gloucester

On a recent visit to the Clipper City to have lunch and a couple of beers with friends at a popular local establishment, one of my friends asked me, almost incredulously, "Do you really like spending this summer in Gloucester more than you did summers here in Newburyport?"

When I answered, "Yes", I thought my friend was going to lose part of his lunch.

He could not believe I could possibly prefer living in, as he put it, "...a dirty old city like Gloucester to a beautiful town like Newburyport."

Now, don't get me wrong, I love Newburyport. I have long standing ties to the community, although I have to say I think the Clipper City had a lot more genuine charm and character when it was not quite the perfectly manicured, almost Stepford-esque movie set that it is today. Newburyport was far more authentic when it had a little more Gloucester and a lot less Nantucket ambience to it.

And knowing many genuine long time locals, and many others, including artists, writers, and musicians, who moved to Newburyport thirty five and forty years ago as "not quite urban pioneers" because, if the truth be told, it was a place they could afford to live, I know I am not alone in that sentiment.

But it is about much more than just aesthetics and nouveau, upscale trendiness. Gloucester has one big quality in great quantity that people love to claim they celebrate in Newburyport, even though, in reality, they have virtually none of it..

The quality I am referring to is diversity.

Gloucester is chock full of it, ethnically, racially, linguistically, and socio-economically.

Newburyport, despite its proclamations celebrating tolerance and diversity and being a "No Place for Hate" community, is, overall, one of the most most racially non-diverse and lily white communities I have ever lived in.

I mean, it's pretty easy to celebrate tolerance and embrace diversity when most everyone in a community looks pretty much alike, speaks the same language, has frosted blonde "bob" cuts, and wears madras shorts and Topsiders .

It's far more difficult to do so when a community is genuinely diverse and struggling with all that that means, both in positive and negative ways, as Gloucester is today.

In the twelve years since I sold my house in the Lanesville section of Gloucester, for example,the number of Latino immigrants in the city has grown significantly.

I see that as something that will, long term, enrich the city, culturally and economically, much the same way the arrival of Italian and Portuguese immigrants did in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

My sublet for the summer is located in the heart of downtown - just steps from the harbor front, Pavilion Beach, and a quick ten minute bike ride to Good Harbor. Not a bad location, and it is made even better because on a walk through the neighborhood with my dog, I know I will encounter a truly diverse community.

When I shop at the downtown Shaw's near my house, I am as likely to hear Italian, Portuguese, or Spanish spoken as I am English.

A stroll down Main Street into the East End guarantees I'll hear Luciano Pavarotti belting out some Puccini in Italian on the outside speakers at Virgilio's bakery. Can you imagine what would happen in Newburyport if, say, Agave, the Port Tavern, or Oeganos pumped Mexican, Irish, or Italian music out onto the street in an attempt to bring some cultural diversity to town?

Perish the thought!

A block from my apartment is an incredible Brazilian grocery store, and my new neighbors in the apartment on the first floor of the house I live in are a young Guatemalan couple who are celebrating the birth of their first baby - a boy.

The husband and young father, Diego, is a sous chef at the restaurant I work in. This young man has a work ethic few native born Americans could ever match and his commitment to his family is more than admirable, it is inspiring.

So, yeah, to answer my friend's question, "I am enjoying living again in Gloucester. It's not that it's 'better' than Newburyport. It's just 'different' and, frankly, it is a more honest and real community that is far more representative of the new America emerging in the early 21st century than Newburyport could ever claim to be, at least at this point in time."

Michael Cook
Gloucester &
Puerto Viejo de Limon, Costa Rica

formerly of Newburyport

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Just wondering

I'm wondering why our trash out here on PI was not picked up last week ... anyone?

Read it and weep (or not)

I admit it - I am guilty of some of the things described in this story from the Globe about the power of information.

In the end, truth will out. Won’t it?

Maybe not. Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.

I don't expect this to change anyone's mind, but here's more ...

What’s going on? How can we have things so wrong, and be so sure that we’re right? Part of the answer lies in the way our brains are wired. Generally, people tend to seek consistency. There is a substantial body of psychological research showing that people tend to interpret information with an eye toward reinforcing their preexisting views. If we believe something about the world, we are more likely to passively accept as truth any information that confirms our beliefs, and actively dismiss information that doesn’t. This is known as “motivated reasoning.” Whether or not the consistent information is accurate, we might accept it as fact, as confirmation of our beliefs. This makes us more confident in said beliefs, and even less likely to entertain facts that contradict them.

There are just some opinions to which I hold firm, but I do try to get my facts straight.

Message from Republican town committees

The Groveland and West Newbury Republican Town Committees will co-host a “Meet the Candidates Night” on Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 7:00 pm at Stripers Grille and Inn located at 175 Bridge Road in Salisbury, MA.

The featured speaker will be Bill Campbell, Candidate for Massachusetts Secretary of State. William C. Campbell ( was appointed City Clerk of Woburn, Massachusetts in 1997. He was appointed as the first Massachusetts Local Election Official of the United States Election Assistance Commission Standards Board in February 2003 and served until June 2009. He served as past Vice Chair and was the first Secretary of the nine member Executive Board, served as Chair of the By-Laws Committee and served as Chair of the Resolutions Committee. Mr. Campbell is a member of the New England Association of City and Town Clerks, the Middlesex City and Town Clerks Association and The Election Center. He has B.A. from Boston College in economics and sociology, a J.D. from University of Bridgeport School of Law and is a graduate of Woburn Senior High School.

Also in attendance will be Rob McCarthy, Candidate for U.S. Congress in the 6th Congressional District, and Robert Finneran, Candidate for State Representative of the 2nd Essex District (which includes Groveland, Newbury, West Newbury, Georgetown Precinct 1, Haverhill Ward 4 Precinct 3, Haverhill Ward 7 Precincts 1 and 3, Merrimac, Rowley).

The public is welcome to attend this free event. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear the Candidates’ positions and to ask questions.

“I am excited to be teaming up with the West Newbury Republican Town Committee,” said Leigh Ann Berry, Chairman of the Groveland Republican Town Committee. “I am certain that our partnership will flourish, and we can continue to provide exposure to all state and national Candidates leading up to November and beyond.”

Please contact Leigh Ann Berry, Groveland Republican Town Committee Chairman, at or 781-710-8096 for more information.

Gillian: Is this the same Robert Finneran, of sub shop fame?

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Wow, this guy has re-launched this website ...

I've really tried to stay out of the advertising scramble with Newburyport Business, but I wish this guy (Elliot) the best!

I am excited to announce the relaunch of this past week, a domain name I bought a couple of years ago, which now resembles If I can get this new site to earn as much as, the ROI will be less than 2 years. My team will be managing the sales, and I will be spending next weekend in Newburyport, a ...great summer vacation spot on the Massachusetts North Shore." (

PSA: Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans Convention


My name is Chad Freeman, and I am the Programs and Events Coordinator for the VFW Post 1093, out of Ipswich, MA. We are currently putting together our second annual Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans Convention, set for Saturday July 24, 2010. The event brings together various organizations and groups to provide an excellent forum of information for recently returned OIF/OEF veterans in the area.

The event will be held at our VFW Post in Ipswich, MA from about 9am to 5pm, and food/drinks will be provided. Speakers will include Rep. Brad Hill, the Home Base Program, Veterans Upward Bound, OIF/OEF Veterans of MA, Operation Troop Support, the There and Back Again Program, and others.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


I don't know what happened to all the comments I just posted ... but Dick, the jets were pretty low ...

Monday, July 5, 2010

On streetlights

Yesterday a woman showed me the large area on her lower leg that was injured when she fell on a city sidewalk.

She was asking me when the public hearing on turning off some city streetlights might happen.

She's not for this at all.

This morning I was walking down Prospect St. around the corner from Lime St. There's this really beautiful big tree there, but its roots have heaved up the sidewalk. I'm just saying ...

Anyway, when there is a public hearing, it will be very interesting. The lady from yesterday will be there, with her leg as exhibit #1.

Holy crap!

This is the way to win over a man ... arrange to have 4 fighter jets fly over your house while he's there ...

Nah, seriously though, what were the odds that last night Mr. Y and I would both be at windows in my house when 4 fighter jets flew over Plum Island?

I think we simultaneously screamed, "Holy shit!"

They came right over the house! Mr. Y said they were only about 500 feet above the ground. After they flew over the house (in tight formation), they banked left at the river.

I think they were the same 4 jets that flew over the Esplanade for the Pops concert ... (oh, of course they were) ... it was awesome.