This version is small, but you get the picture for the new issue of The New Yorker, Dec. 5, whose cover illustration titled “Black Friday” by Daniel Clowes depicts an an average-looking man entering a shop selling books and literary paraphernalia, including in the lower left section a row of four hats emblazoned with the names of authors: Tolstoy, Kerouac, Poe, Bronte. Other writers shown prominently in the shop scene are Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Wolff, and James Joyce (canvas bag), Mark Twain and Shakespeare (bobbleheads), and Emily Dickinson (lunch box).
In a article in today’s Eagle tribune writer Alex Bloom – who has been closely following the actvities around a takeover of the Lawrence schools by the Commonweath – tells us that January 1, 2012 is the date when the schools will be under the control and direction of a receiver. The receiver to be selected by Mitchell Chester - the state’s education commissioner - will have the powers of both the school superintendent and the School Committee.
Yesterday – The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted 10-1 to designate Lawrence as a “Level 5″ district, labeling it a chronically underperforming district and clearing the way to place the city’s failing schools into receivership.
Bloom reports on the comments of Board of Education members about their votes at the meeting and on the positions of the incoming members of the Lawrence School Committee and others like Acting Superintendent Mary Lou Bergeron. Bergeron will move down to be the assistant superintendent when the receiver takes over. Mayor William Lantigua who also serves as Chairman of the School Committee called for the takeover on November 15th – did not attend the Boad of Education meeting but issued a statement:
“Today marks a new day for our school district and symbolizes a sign of hope for our parents and children within our system,” Lantigua said in the statement- according to the Eagle Tribune story.
To read the other comments and get more details link here at eagletribune.com.
Forty years ago in the aftermath of a disruptive city election that saw three incumbents defeated, the Lowell Sun’s Frank Phillips, now a long-time senior political writer for the Boston Globe, gave his analysis of the political power and the potential political power of the office of mayor in the Plan E form of government. That January 1972 mayoral election turned out to be one of the most divisive in the city’s history, going 106 ballots over three days. Ellen Sampson was ultimately elected. While a full account of what happened in that election must wait for some additional research by me, Phillips’ view of the office of mayor of Lowell still has great relevance today. Here is some of what he wrote back in November 1971:
The role of the mayor is often described on the basis of a figurehead position. He is the man who is on hand to greet important people or appear at the local fireman’s annual ball.
But he does have some important functions, many times overlooked. He is the chairman of the school committee – its seventh voting member – and in Lowell, where the board has y times been divided, the mayor’s vote is often the key to many important education decisions.
As chairman of the council, the mayor also appoints the subcommittee – their chairmen and members. He, too, selects the city representatives to such boards as the regional drug program and he wields the gavel over the council meetings – (which can be of great political advantages during heated and important debates).
So he’s not totally a figurehead. He has the edge of appointment making to key positions and he is chairman and a voting member of the school board.
The new Health and Social Sciences Building under construction on the UMass Lowell South Campus. Photos by Tony Sampas.