Tag Archives: Eileen Donoghue

‘Mill Power’ book manuscript excerpt

Following is an excerpt from my manuscript for the book “Mill Power: Reclaiming Lowell’s Place and Story,” which I wrote for the National Park Service in 2011-12. The book covers the years 1966 to 2012, documenting the origin and impact of the national park in Lowell in the context of the city’s renaissance. We expect to have a publisher this summer, which means the book should be released in early 2014, if all goes as planned. The section that follows begins with a scene from an event about a year ago, a summit on “creative placemaking.”—PM

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“Creative Placemaking” 

In the spring of 2012 Lowell hosted an invitation-only gathering of leaders and activists from 24 communities identified by the state as Gateway Communities, most of them being the same as or similar to the small to mid-sized post-industrial cities that formed the network of Heritage State Parks in the 1970s. These are entry-level places with old bones of built environments and churning populations continually refreshed by newcomers. Among the new arrivers in Lowell are Iraqis, Burmese, Bhutanese, Nigerians, and Brazilians. But some fundamental challenges remain—more well-paying jobs, consistently excellent schools, and a broadly healthy community. As an alternative to the conventional manufacturing plants that once charged these cities’ economic batteries, many of these communities are looking to the creative industries as a supplemental economic energy source. Lowell has led the way into a creative economy, going back to the establishment of state and national parks in the 1970s and publication in 1987 of the state’s first comprehensive cultural development plan for a city, The Lowell Cultural Plan. But Lowell has continued to be intentional with this approach, completing in 2008 a development strategy explicitly for the creative economy: On the Cultural Road: City of World Culture. In 1987, the predominant thinking about the cultural sector was that it was characterized by nonprofit organization activity and heavily dependent on philanthropy. By 2008, the conversation was a more balanced discussion about a cultural industry, earned income, sustainable operations, and entrepreneurship—and a much wider view of the cultural and creative, encompassing tech start-ups, artisanal bakeries, and the like. This more businesslike vocabulary is a better fit for community development policy, which explains in part why more than 200 people would convene at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center to share ideas about “creative placemaking” and learn from the best-practice examples put forth on PowerPoint presentations.

Lowell City Manager Bernie Lynch welcomed the audience and introduced Lt. Governor Tim Murray. The sponsors were MassINC, a progressive think tank; the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the state agency promoting the arts, humanities, and interpretive sciences; and the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, whose cabinet secretary chairs the Governor’s Creative Economy Council. Before the Lt. Governor spoke, Lynch laid out the rationale and results when it comes to the creative economy in Lowell:

     “We’re convinced that employers are drawn to locations with a base of talented, creative individuals who are in the current workforce or available for an expanding workforce. These employers want to be in places that are vibrant, diverse, and authentic, and which possess the amenities and walking-friendly environments that complement creative lifestyles—hence, our city marketing slogan: ‘Alive. Unique. Inspiring.’ We work every day to make Lowell a distinctive destination with a genuine sense of place.

“Since 2000, when the City adopted a creative economy strategy for downtown revitalization, we have seen 1,454 new housing units built or renovated and occupied, 94 units are under construction, 749 more units have been granted permits. Another 157 residential units are being reviewed for permits at this time. Developers have renovated about 2.6 million square feet in dozens of vacant buildings. Under construction or under permit now are projects totaling 750,000 square feet of property. We also are seeing new construction—700,000 square feet of office, commercial, and research and development space either already under permit or in the process. That’s the evidence of people and businesses on the ground. The quality-of-life activity that we believe accounts in large measure for this strong real estate interest has equally impressive statistics.”

What are some of the creative industry metrics? There are 440 artist studios, 190 of which are live-work housing units. The city has 10 theater and performing arts spaces; 16 museums, galleries, and cultural centers; and five rehearsal and recording studios. The Lowell Folk Festival attendance each July is nearly 250,000, the Lowell Summer Music Series draws about 30,000 people each year, Lowell Memorial Auditorium puts tens of thousands of people in seats, and the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell sold more than 70,000 tickets  in 2011-12. There are dozens of creative-economy businesses, such as film-industry prop-makers Ymittos Candles on Dutton Street downtown, whose products were featured in The Pirates of the Caribbean and Lincoln movies. The city’s ethnic cuisine spans the world, from American diner food and Irish pub grub to Indian and Brazilian delights. Continue reading

Doherty – Donoghue finances compared

Yesterday was the deadline for legislative candidates to file the pre-primary report with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance. Covering the period from January 1, 2010 to August 27, 2010, these reports show all incoming contributions and all outgoing expenditures. Eileen Donoghue’s was filed early enough in the evening to allow me to write a post last night but Doherty’s didn’t appear until sometime after 10 pm. Rather than doing a separate post for him now, I thought it would be more helpful to compare the data from the two candidates:

Contributions received:
Doherty – $135,354
Donoghue – $98,217 (plus $2047 on hand from city council campaigns)

Number of donors
NOTE: Doherty listed all donors regardless of amount while Donoghue aggregated smaller donations and listed only those contributing more than $50. Thus, she had more donors than my number, but I have no way of knowing how many although they were all small dollar amounts.
Doherty – 669
Donoghue – 430

Average donation
Doherty – $202
Donoghue – $214

Percentage of donors from within the district
Doherty – 28%
Donoghue – 53%

Number of donors making maximum $500 contribution
Doherty – 158
Donoghue – 78

Total Expenditures
Doherty – $90,198
Donoghue – $73,190

Amount spent on mailing (printing, design, postage)
Doherty – $51,121
Donoghue – $22,207

Amount spent on consultants
Doherty – $22,582
Donoghue – $9750

Amount spent on paid staff
Doherty – $3575
Donoghue – $26,206

Amount spent on Lowell Sun
Doherty – 0
Donoghue – $650

Amount of money on hand as of August 27
Doherty – $45,155
Donoghue – $27,075

Donoghue files campaign finance report

Candidates for the state legislature must file their pre-primary campaign finance reports today. I was able to find Eileen Donoghue’s but not Chris Doherty’s (as of 9:45 pm). Candidates may file electronically, so Doherty does have a few more hours. These reports cover all activity from January 1 thru August 27. If you want to see any of these reports, just visit this section of the Office of Campaign and Political Finance website and select the candidate of interest to you from the field labeled “filers”. Here’s a breakdown of Donoghue’s report:

Contributions: Donoghue began with $2047 left over from her City Council campaigns. To that, she has added $98,217 none of which was from her. Of that total of $100,264, she had spent $73,189 leaving her a balance of $27,075. (Remember, this doesn’t include money raised or spent since August 27). State law requires the listing of any donor that gave more than $50. Donoghue reported $5991 from those giving less than $50. Of those giving more than $50, Donoghue had 430 donors who gave her an average amount of $214. Of the 430 donors, 229 (53%) lived within the state senate district. Seventy-eight of her donors gave the maximum amount of $500 (63 gave $250, 65 gave $200 and 200 gave $100 each).

Expenditures: Donoghue’s biggest expense was payments to campaign staff which totaled $26,206. She also paid $9,750 for consulting. Printing, mailing and postage accounted for $22,207. Payments for newspaper ads totaled just $650. The remainder of Donoghue’s payments were for typical items such as t-shirts, cell phones, office rental and supplies – nothing extraordinary.

Two things that strike me are the relatively large amount paid to campaign staff. If those folks have been hard at work doing voter ID in preparation for an aggressive Get Out The Vote operation on election day, it could be money well spent. The other item is the paucity of spending on newspaper advertising. Presumably this will go up as election day gets closer, but that’s still an almost invisible amount.

As soon as Chris Doherty’s report is filed, I’ll do a similar analysis.

Saturday political update

An Eileen Donoghue flier arrived in today’s mail. “A proven track record of job creation” was the theme of this piece, with a testimonial from the president of a company she once assisted in a “major” way that now has 50 employees in Lowell. The local newspaper also has profiles of Donoghue and Chris Doherty. The Donoghue story has the former mayor and city councilor saying that partnerships among business, government and non-profits made Lowell successful while she was in office and that if elected state senator, she’ll bring that same way of thinking to Beacon Hill. Donoghue also said that many people she’s talked to while going door-to-door feel that state government has not shared the pain and cutbacks that they have experienced in their personal lives. She says state government must become more efficient and act more like the private sector and not always look to new revenue as a response to budget shortfalls.

In his newspaper profile, Chris Doherty says the he sees the office of state senator as a “natural progression” of his job as an assistant district attorney. Doherty also said that he gained valuable experience working on economic development projects from his earlier employment as an aide to then Congressman Marty Meehan.

Thursday campaign update

A relatively slow day . . . A Guy Glodis for State Auditor flier arrived in today’s mail. Glodis, the sheriff of Worcester County, pledges to “reign in wasteful political spending” and to “fight for Massachusetts Jobs.”

Another Chris Doherty piece arrived in the mail, as well; this one on illegal immigrants. Doherty’s piece of it affirms the non-controversial stand that “illegal immigrants who commit violent felonies or drug trafficking offenses should be deported.” I believe that’s already the case.

This flier also contains a very sharp attack on Eileen Donoghue, highlighting a case she handled as a criminal defense attorney in which her client was alleged to have sold forged social security and green cards to illegal immigrants. The defendant ended up on probation and paid a fine. About that, Doherty says “Eileen fought to keep them out of jail and put our community at risk.”

Doherty doesn’t name the defendant in the case, but he does provide the docket number – 91-cr-10233-EFH. The “91″ means it was a 1991 case and the “EFH” means it was heard by Judge Edward F Harrington. So this case is 19 years old and was commenced four years before Donoghue first ran for the Lowell City Council.

Tuesday political observations

The big story today was the disclosure that Republican Congressional candidate Jon Golnik had been arrested in 2001 for Driving Under the Influence. I’m pretty sure that the Eagle Tribune broke the story. That paper’s latest is here and the Sun has a small piece here. The Globe also has the story with this detailed article on boston.com. The facts emerging from these stories are that Golnik, age 35 at the time, was stopped for driving on a flat tire while on his way back to his Carlisle home after attending an AC/DC concert in Boston. He blew a .18 on the breathalyzer and, according to the police report, admitted to smoking marijuana (although Golnik now denies having done that).

No candidate wants news of a prior DUI arrest to break two weeks before the election. I suspect that Republican primary voters will be in a forgiving mood and won’t penalize Golnik too harshly two weeks from today. Should he be the nominee, however, general election voters might not be as forgiving. Golnik is an unknown quantity and has thus far been defined to the broader electorate as someone who failed to vote in quite a few elections and now as someone who, at age 35, was arrested for driving with double the legal limit of alcohol in his system in addition to having smoked marijuana (if the police are to be believed).

Shifting focus to the First Middlesex State Senate race, another Chris Doherty flier arrived in today’s mail. In this one, Chris pledges to “protect our children” and to “support our schools” while at the same time attacking Eileen Donoghue for “voting to double her pay when our schools could have had more funding.” As I wrote in this post last week, this line of attack is misleading – the “doubled salary” was only $7500, a minuscule amount when compared to the school department’s $120 million budget. It’s also misleading in that during Donoghue’s 4-year tenure as mayor, she was a vigorous and aggressive advocate for increased funding for the public schools. But plenty of misleading attacks have proven to be very effective and this one might end up being just that, especially if Donoghue fails to respond or responds ineffectually as was the case last week when the attack was countered only with a press release from her Boston-based political consultants.

First Middlesex State Senate update

Another Chris Doherty flyer arrived in today’s mail – the sixth in the past three weeks. On one side is the “hole in the shoe” photo telling us to “Vote Cheap” and on the other he says, among other things, that “For too long on Beacon Hill, they’ve acted like there’s a blank check, with us paying the bill” going on to promise that he’ll lower everyone’s taxes.

But the Doherty flyer also attacks Donoghue directly. At the top of a menacing black box illustrated with a black and white photo of Donoghue, red letters proclaim “Eileen Donoghue Blew Up the Budget and Rewarded Herself With a Pay Raise.” The text in the box states the following:

While Eileen Donoghue was in office, the Lowell city budget exploded – growing from $155 million to $260 million. For her performance, Eileen more than doubled her own pay. Now Eileen wants to go to Beacon Hill and join the spending spree. It’s time to put a stop to Eileen Donoghue and the same old runaway spending practices.

Whew. I need a moment to catch my breath.

The “doubling the pay” thing is kind of amusing. In 1965 a Lowell city councilor was paid $4000 per year. In the 1980s, that rose to $7500. Sometime after 2000, that went to $15000. My memory of that latest increase was that one council voted for it but it would not take effect until the next council took office. So if the voters opposed the raise, they could oust those who supported it. They didn’t. I’m not sure where the “more than doubled” thing comes from. By my math, going from $7500 to $15000 is exactly double, but that’s beside the point. While I’ve never served on the Lowell city council, I have observed many councils for many years and I truly do believe they’re entitled to (at least) $15 grand per year for all the work they do. It’s ironic that during last week’s debate, when Donoghue called Doherty on his salary as an Assistant DA rising from $30,000 to more than $80,000, Doherty’s heated reply was that he worked hard for the Commonwealth and earned every cent of that salary. I suspect the members of the Lowell city council, past and present, would feel the same way about earning their $288 per week.

As for the city’s budget “exploding” during Donoghue’s tenure on the council, I’ll just try to provide some context: Donoghue was elected to the council in the fall of 1995, so she took office in January 1996 and voted on her first budget – FY97 – in June 1996. She left the council in December 2007 after not running for re-election that fall due to her participation in that September’s special primary election for the Fifth Congressional District. That means the last city budget she would have voted on would have been FY08 (voted on in June 2007).

Lowell’s biggest source of budgetary revenue is and has been state aid. In fact, more than 80% of the public school money comes from the state. The first half of Donoghue’s tenure on the council coincided with the enormous jumps in aid received due to the state’s Education Reform Law which might just account for much of the budgetary “explosion” cited in the Doherty piece. As the parent of a student who attended the Lowell public schools during that time, I’m pleased Donoghue and her colleagues didn’t turn back all of that state aid to the public schools.

As for the second half of Donoghue’s time on the council, City Manager Lynch helpfully provided a historical analysis of city spending in the introduction to the FY08 budget – Donoghue’s last – which can be found here. According to Lynch, the budget buster of the early 2000s was “fixed costs” which he identified as the cost of employee health insurance and contributions to the retirement system on behalf of former employees. In every other phase of city government, budget increases during that time were less than the rate of inflation and the number of people employed by the city went down each year from FY03 to FY08.

This continues to be a fascinating race. It’s been a long time since looking in my mailbox each day has been such an exciting undertaking.

Doherty & Donoghue: 3 weeks to go

Saturday I wrote my assessment of the Chris Doherty v Eileen Donoghue campaign for the Democratic nomination in the First Middlesex Senate District. I noted that Doherty had sent me five flyers in less than two weeks while I had received none from Donoghue. That changed today. Eileen’s first flyer arrived. On one side, there’s some biographical information (“raised in a working class family” and “demonstrated commitment to community”). On the flip side, the piece promotes some of Donoghue’s accomplishments as mayor of Lowell (“A mayor with vision who delivered results”).

As election day draws closer, I’ll try to document what I’m seeing and hearing about these two campaigns.

Donoghue & Doherty: 24 days to go

With just 24 days to go until the September 14 primary election, time is growing short for the candidates. The calendar presents a real challenge: prevailing wisdom is that “no one pays attention until after Labor Day”, but this year, Labor Day comes late (September 6) and once it passes, there will only be a week until the election. Add to that the back-to-school, start of kids’ activities (think Lowell Youth Soccer), end of summer vacation disruptions to everyday life and you’re likely to have not much interest in this entire election beyond those who vote every time.

After last Monday’s debate, many Doherty supporters were ecstatic, convinced their candidate had come out way ahead. The new comer (to being a candidate, at least) Doherty more than held his own, he probably exceeded expectations while the much more experienced Donoghue, by not completely overwhelming her less experienced opponent, may have fallen short of the expectations of some. I called the debate a draw and a good advertisement for future debates between these candidates.

As for lawn signs, in my neighborhood (the Highlands) the sign totals seem balanced with neither having all that many. In contrast, I drove out Lakeview Ave in Dracut one day last week and between the signs for Barry Finegold and Jack Wilson – both running in that Senate district – there were more political signs on that one road in Dracut than there are in the entire Highlands section of Lowell.

To me, the most interesting development in the First Middlesex Senate race was the arrival in my mailbox of the fourth Doherty for Senate flyer I’ve received in the past two weeks. The first was “He’s a prosecutor not a politician,” the second was the “too cheap for new shoes” piece; the third was his grandmother’s endorsement of his plan to “give seniors a break on taxes” piece; and the fourth was the “he’s made it easier for women to get restraining orders” card. What I find most interesting about this is the timing of these mailings. Why send them now, in the middle of August? Does Doherty have enough money to send even more? Presumably Donoghue will have her own barrage of mailings that will arrive sometime in the future. Will those late arriving pieces be more on the mind of voters come primary day or will they be lost in the transitional turmoil of early September?

In preparing this post, I queried a half dozen acquaintances, all Lowell voters who are uninvolved and undecided in this race. Every one of them concluded that Doherty “has the momentum” right now, that between his debate performance, his mailings, his omnipresence at public events since this race began and the online buzz his youthful supporters have generated, he has the edge. But in politics, timing is everything and it doesn’t do much good to peak three weeks before election day. Donoghue was extremely popular as a city councilor and as mayor. Just three years ago she spent nearly $1 million running for Congress. In that race, she easily won the city of Lowell, demonstrating that her success in a “vote for nine” council race was transferable to a “vote for one” race for another office (a transition that has proven difficult for so many other Lowell office holders). My guess is that the Donoghue campaign is stockpiling its resources for the sprint to the finish line and her campaign activities will ratchet up substantially in the coming days. But Doherty has run a good campaign thus far and there’s no indication that will stop now. That’s why the next 24 days will be fascinating for local political observers.

UPDATE: I was driving around Belvidere this morning and saw a substantial number of Donoghue signs. I just went through yesterday’s mail and found a fifth Chris Doherty flyer, the theme of this one is “creating green jobs.” The postal carrier should be here shortly: will I need another update?

Doherty v Donoghue debate photos

Eileen Donoghue and Chris Doherty

Thanks to Paul S for sharing some of his excellent photographs from the August 16, 2010 debate between First Middlesex State Senate Democratic candidates Chris Doherty and Eileen Donoghue (pictured above). The debate was sponsored by Lowell radio station WCAP and was held at Lowell High School’s “Little Theater.” The photo below shows the physical layout. Facing the camera are candidates Donoghue and Doherty; at the podium to the right of the photo is Charles Lyons, the moderator; at the table to the left in the photo are panelists Kim Saltmarsh of WCAP and Ray Wrobel, an outside-the-district Democratic activist agreed to by both campaigns. In the foreground with backs to the camera are Jennifer Myers of the Lowell Sun, Tom Duggan of the Valley Patriot and WCAP, and Faye Morrison of Ayer who served as the time keeper.

August 16, 2010 WCAP Senate debate

Despite some verbal jabs during the debate, both candidates kept it at a high level.

Donoghue and Doherty at end of debate