Why is Lowell City Council listening to a P.A.C?


By: Gerry Nutter – May, 2011

On April 26th for the 2nd time since February the Lowell City Council received a “White Paper” dealing with suggestions of how the Council should spend taxpayer dollars from a Political Action Committee based here in Lowell named Move Lowell Forward.

In the 2009 election this “non-partisan citizens group of Lowell residents” sent out questionnaires to those running for the Lowell City Council and if they agreed with the candidate, endorsed them and paid for newspaper and radio ads supporting these candidates. Six of the present Lowell City Councilors were “endorsed” by this group.

In 2009 this PAC went after the Greater Lowell Technical School asking them to be “more transparent” in their posting of agenda’s and contracts and getting their meetings broadcasted. They targeted one member who lost the election Mike Hayden.

Ironically they choose NOT to deal with the Lowell School Dept. or the Lowell School Committee (maybe because their friend was on it) but Move Lowell Forward felt they had to go after a school in Tyngsboro with 4 Lowell representatives rather than the Lowell School Committee and their 7 members (6 plus the Lowell Mayor). Today the Greater Lowell Technical High School website offers more information on contracts, agenda’s, meeting minutes and packages than the Lowell School Dept but still MLF ignores the Lowell School System.

My question is why does the Lowell City Council put any weight in a small (they refuse to publish their member list) group of people who by definition are a “committee formed by a special-interest group to raise money for their favorite political candidates”? They ask for transparency in government yet refuse to be transparent choosing to not list their members or officers on their website.

Is it the fact that the Co-Chair is a BLOGGER who is known to attack people with language that would make a sailor or truck driver blush and they are afraid of getting blasted? Or does the majority that was supported by this small group through newspaper and radio endorsements feel obligated to allow this group to present their ideas in a sort of “quid pro quo” arrangement?

In February a City Councilor who was endorsed by this group brought forth their paper and has a motion for the Council to consider. Last week after getting lambasted by me on my BLOG in February (gerrynutterslowell.com – can’t miss the chance for a gratuitous plug) they presented the “white paper” themselves under the public petition portion of the City Council Agenda that is allowed by our charter.

Many members of this Political Action Committee have also pushed the council to establish a “Charter Review” panel. They want to change the way Lowell elects councilors and school committee members. This is after a voting change drive failed in the 2009 election as a ballot question.

It seems this Political Action Committee which did NOT present one ‘White Paper” in the off election year of 2010 feels that since 2011 is an election year it is time to again use their PAC to support their candidates and submit their beliefs to the council members they already have paid for with radio and television ads, who will continue to at least publicly accept their papers and carry their message forward for them.