Category Archives: The Budget

The budget, Newburyport, MA, an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time.

The First Draft of the 40R District around the Train Station

I’ve seen the first draft of the new 40R Smart Growth District around the train station.

The proposed 40R District (see previous post) would allow for mixed use buildings near the train station, traffic circle, parts of Rt 1 and the area on lower State Street between Lunt and Kelly and the edge of the cemetery. There is a new updated map (see below), the larger area subdistrict B is zoned for 4 story buildings (45 ft), Subdistricts A and C is zoned for 3 story building (35 ft), and the Minco building would be zoned for 5 stories (55 ft).


Four story buildings in Portland Maine, please press image to enlarge.

And I’ve gone on a hunt for some good looking 4 story buildings. I have found only one photo that is in the public domain, it is in Portland Maine.

I’m a little confused about Google’s copyright laws, and WordPress does not allow me to embed Google’s images, so what I’ve done is put links to 4 story buildings in Portland ME, Providence RI and Haverhill MA. Haverhill has, on Washington Street, what I think is a gorgeous, but rundown historic section of 4 story building. I love them.

And when you press on the links for the different cities, you can go on a “Google drive” through the areas and see what you thinks works and what does not work. Interesting stuff. Also, the buildings take a few seconds to show up after you press the links.

Portland Maine’s links can he found here, here, here, here and here.
Providence Rhode Island’s links can be found here, here and here.
Haverhill Mass links can be found here, here and here.


Updated 40R Smart Growth Village District map, please press image to enlarge.

In looking at the initial 40R draft (this is just the beginning of a large process that the city will go through) a couple of things stand out.

1) The design review is outstanding. Yah!! I hope that means that the Minco building will be forced to look awesome.

2) There is extensive input into the affordable housing aspect of the district (I’m sure the affordable housing folks with Phd’s in the subject, will have lots of input). It looked great to me.

3) Parking seems a little “skimpy” to me. A residential unit only gets one parking spot. But there is “shared parking,” with businesses and residents, which use parking at different times during the day and week, the objective being not to have lots of wasted, barren parking lots. There are so many people in this city who have Phd’s in parking, and I am not one of them. I am hoping, and pretty sure that they would figure out the “Goldilocks” version of parking, “not too much, not too little, but just right.”

4) The setbacks of the buildings are puzzling to me. There are “no requirements” on setbacks on front, side and rear yards. The way it was explained to me is that there would be no requirements for setbacks for mid-block buildings, but it might be a good idea to look at the setback requirements for intersections (and there seem to me to be a whole lot of intersections). At this point, we do not have close-up renderings of what buildings would look like in different areas of the proposed 40R District.

This is one of my main questions. I can’t imagine 4 story building around the traffic circle where Dunkin’ Donuts is and where the Bird Watcher is located. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to live on that dangerous and noisy area, and being so close to a busy traffic circle. Renderings are definitely needed.

5) Not in the 1st draft, but backup information that would be arriving in the coming weeks that would include:

(1) estimated maximum dwelling units
(2) expected sewer flows (and how to pay for them)
(3) expected traffic impacts
(4) renderings/photo-simulations of new buildings
(5) expected impacts on schools
(6) expected c. 40R and c. 40S payments from the Commonwealth
(7) expected property tax revenues

Newburyport 2013 Election Results

Donna Holaday (incumbent)
Richard Sullivan Jr.

Donna Holaday

Councilor At-Large
(5 Councilors At-Large)
Laurel Allgrove
Edward Cameron (incumbent)
Barry Connell (incumbent)
Ari Herzog (incumbent)
Meghan Kinsey
Lyndi Lanphear
Bruce Menin
Sheila Mullins
Bruce Vogel

Edward Cameron
Barry Connell
Ari Herzog
Meghan Kinsey
Bruce Vogel

Ward 1 Councilor:
Michael Ferrick
Allison Heartquist (incumbent)

Allison Heartquist

Ward 2 Councilor:
Jared Eigerman
Christopher Welch

Jared Eigerman

Ward 3 Councilor:
Robert Cronin (incumbent)
Leslie Eckholdt

Robert Cronin

Ward 4 Councilor:
Tom Jones (incumbent)
Charles Tontar

Charles Tontar

Ward 5 Councilor:
Larry Giunta Jr.
Sean Reardon

Larry Giunta Jr.

School Committee
(3 School Committee members)
Steven Cole (incumbent)
Daniel Koen (incumbent)
Michael Luekens
Raymond Matthews
Cheryl Sweeney (incumbent)

Steven Cole
Michael Luekens
Cheryl Sweeney

Election Results 2013, press image to enlarge

Election Results Mayor and City Council 2013, press image to enlarge

Election results  for Mayor and City Council

Election 2013, School Committee (press image to enlarge)

Election 2013, School Committee (press image to enlarge)

Election results for School Committee

Congratulations to all who ran and to all who won.

Official numbers in for the top 5 Newburyport City Council At Large race (slightly different than last nights numbers, the winners are still the same).

Updated total:

Ed Cameron 2947
Barry Connell 2944
Ari Herzon 2893
Megan Kinsey 2856
Bruce Vogel 2526

Final results for Newburyport City Council At Large (press image to enlarge)

Final results for Newburyport City Council At Large (press image to enlarge)

Final total for Newburyport City Council At Large (last night’s results were “unofficial”).

Where to Vote Tuesday, November 5th 2013

Where to vote

Where to vote

There is  a very cool tool to find out where to vote in Newburyport, this Tuesday, November 5, 2013.

You just enter your street number, the street’s name, and your city or town, or your zip code, and voila, it tells you exactly where to go (it even tells you which ward you are in, and how to get in touch with the City Clerk). It can be found here.

The people of Newburyport will be voting for a Mayor (a 4 year term, not a 2 year term), for 5 Newburyport City Council At-Large candidates, Newburyport City Council candidates in Wards 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5, and 3 Newburyport School Committee members.

Voting hours are 7am to 8pm.

Be sure to vote.

I will most likely go down to City Hall at 8pm, and will post the election results on the Newburyport Blog and the Newburyport Blog’s Facebook page.

Here is a sample ballot for the Newburyport At-Large Candidates.

Newburyport At-Large Ballot

Newburyport At-Large Ballot

Newburyport Election 2013, Mayoral and Council Debates

On Tuesday November 5th, the residents of Newburyport will go to the polls to elect a Mayor (for a 4 year term, not a 2 year term), 5 Newburyport City Councilors At-Large, 5 Ward Councilors and 3 members of the School Committee.

Here are links to the Mayoral Debate between Mayor Donna Holaday and City Councilor Dick Sullivan on October 22, 2013 and the Newburyport City Council At-Large Debate on October 16, 2013.

The Mayoral Debate

The Mayoral Debate

The Mayoral Debate between Mayor Donna Holaday and City Councilor Dick Sullivan on October 22, 2013 can be watched here.

The Newburyport City Council At-Large Debate

The Newburyport City Council At-Large Debate

The Newburyport City Council At-Large Debate on October 16, 2013 can be seen here.

Not Qualified to be Mayor

As I recall, in the 2001 election, people voted for Al Lavender, as a reaction against Mayor Lisa Mead (not a “for” Al Lavender vote). I thought Lisa Mead was an incredibly competent mayor. And I feel that we are still recovering from the consequences of two years of Al Lavender’s tenure in the corner office (we are still cleaning up the landfill, which has caused untold misery–something that came out of Al Lavender’s two year term).

I would like a smart, well educated (more than a high school education), competent person, who can deal with an array of complex issues, in the corner office for the next four years, someone with a lot of executive experience (this is one complicated city to run) (a retired firefighter and a Home Depot greeter does not do it for me).

I think firefighters are incredible people, unbelievably brave, but with a skill set that, in my mind, does not translate into dealing with the incredibly complex issues that the Mayor of Newburyport deals with.

I would surely like to see the electorate vote with their intelligence, instead of reacting emotionally, and to see this not just as a one issue election (i.e. the Waterfront).

And I also think, given his resume, that if Dick Sullivan didn’t have the last name “Sullivan,” no one would take his candidacy seriously for being the CEO of this complicated city.

Newburyport Carpetbaggers, the 95%



One Newburyport City Councilor (Dick Sullivan) got up in the Newburyport City Council chambers and lamented that all these “newcomers” were coming in and telling the folks who were born and raised here what to do.

Another Newburyport City Councilor (Tom Jones) got up (Thursday night) and said how Newburyport was a working class town, and seemed to intimate that it was still a working class town.  No it’s not. In the year 2012, Newburyport is an upper-middle class city, quickly approaching a upper class enclave – especially when Mr. Karp starts building.

Honey, it ain’t your father’s Newburyport anymore.

If you haven’t noticed the carpetbagger thing has really, really gotten out of hand lately.  You don’t just have the carpetbaggers who came in the first wave, in the mid to late 1970’s and very early 1980’s,  right after Urban Renewal renewed.  There was a wave in the late 1990’s after the MBTA came back to town. Remember that, a big housing spike when a lot of the old timers cashed in.  I remember folks saying  that it was a joke that anyone would want to live in Newburyport’s South End. There was a lot of bitterness about how high the taxes had gotten because of the housing boom, but that money bought more house not so far away, in a place where there weren’t so many doctors, lawyers and financial folks. Where the working class folks felt more comfortable.

And then the super duper influx around 2005, when Mr. Karp bought so much land and real-estate downtown.  Yup, and people have just kept coming, with more and more money, lots more money.  And the old-timers, the natives, they pay attention and they vote, but their numbers just ain’t what they used to be.  It’s not your father’s Newburyport by any stretch of the imagination, no how, no way, any more.

Kathleen O’Connor Ives Running for State Senate

Kathleen O'Connor Ives for State Senate

Kathleen O'Connor Ives for State Senate

On September 4, 2007, I met then candidate for Newburyport City Council at Large, Kathleen O’Connor Ives (Katy).

I found Katy to be delightful, smart, gutsy and energetic, someone who could be a real asset to Newburyport. But being a newcomer to Newburyport, I really and truly did not think she had a prayer in the upcoming elections.

It’s pretty gutsy to come into town and decide to get that involved in your new place of residence–to run for Newburyport City Councilor at Large.

And that she most probably didn’t stand a chance, but was running anyway, and against some pretty steep competition–a very accomplished incumbent and two former mayors no less.

That said a whole lot about Katy Ives.

And as I walked and talked around Newburyport, what I found was that everyone, once they had met Kathleen O’Connor Ives, wanted to see her on the Newburyport City Council (really, I’m not kidding).

And that’s no small accomplishment.

At first it was the more progressive folks and centrist folks that seemed to take a shine to Ms. Ives.

However, when I started to talk to more conservative folks, they had the same reaction. They liked her too.

And somehow Katy was overcoming the old Yankee suspicion about anyone “new,” combined with the old Yankee attitude of “you pay your dues.”

And Katy proved me wrong. She won. And Kathleen O’Connor Ives has turned out to be the Newburyport Councilor at Large everyone hoped she would be, winning two more terms handily for Newburyport City Councilor at Large.

Sound familiar.

Yup, Kathleen O’Connor Ives is now running for Massachusetts State Senate for the First Essex District. And as one of her supporters said, “In an old boy, old boy world, Katy may not be the most connected candidate, but she’s the smartest.”

And do not count Kathleen O’Connor Ives out in this election for Massachusetts State Senate on Thursday, September 6th. Once her voting constituency meets Katy Ives, they will have the same reaction that the people of Newburyport did in 2007, 2009 and 20011. And they will know she would be terrific as their state senator, and they will vote for Kathleen O’Connor Ives on Thursday, September 6, 2012.

Kathleen O'Conner Ives for State Senate

Kathleen O'Connor Ives for State Senate

Katy’s website can be found here.

Katy’s Facebook page can be found here.

Newburyport Street Light Meeting

The Newburyport Council Public Safety Committee will be holding a street light meeting on this upcoming Wednesday:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010
City Hall Council Chambers

National Grid is invited. And the Energy Advisory Committee (EAC) has been invited to present their plan to shut off 501 street lights to the Newburyport City Council.

The chair of the Public Safety Committee, Bob Cronin, anticipates a presentation that includes maps as well as the criteria used in the EAC’s process.

There will be a general overview, without discussion of which particular lights would be shut off. That detailed discussion will happened at a later date, and will be scheduled by each of the 6 Newburyport Ward Councilors:

Ward 1 Allison Heartquist
Ward 2 Greg Earls
Ward 3 Bob Cronin
Ward 4 Ed Cameron
Ward 5 Brian Derrivan
Ward 6 Tom O’Brien

Newburyport City Councilors will be able to ask questions first, and then there will be a public input portion.

This is in effect a public hearing on shutting off Newburyport’s street lights.

Newburyport, Parking Payment from the Blog of Bob Cronin

From Newburyport City Councilor Bob Cronin on paid parking and Newburyport’s Waterfront Trust and the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority contributing to the citizens of Newburyport, MA.

“Dear friends and neighbors,

While I usually use this space to give updates and pass along information about the goings on and happenings in Ward 3 and the City, I’m changing course here just a bit today. This entry is about parking, the waterfront and a brief civics primer.

The Mayor has submitted a series of parking regulations to govern parking in the downtown and adjoining neighborhoods, which will contain a resident piece. There will be ample opportunity for input into the process as it moves forward.

The issue at hand is that in the Mayor’s plan the key component of the plan is paid parking in the surface lots. This includes the Waterfront Trust (WFT) lot, the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority (NRA) lots and of course city owned lots. The Mayor is working to get agreements in place with these quasi-governmental entities that manage these parcels and feel they are completely autonomous. Newburyport, like most of the other 350 cities and towns in Massachusetts is cash strapped.

I for one think that budgets must be examined for waste but this tactic only goes so far. Historical sources of local aid relied upon for generations are now a mere trickle from state government. New revenue sources have to be identified and put to use locally. Being against user fees on required services such as “pay as you throw trash”, I believe Newburyport should look more to the discretionary income side of the ledger.

The Mayor’s current paid parking proposal is in the Public Safety committee and I for one will be pushing hard for a significant portion of the net proceeds to go back to ALL neighborhoods in the form of vastly needed sidewalk repairs. We the residents of Newburyport have borne the brunt of poor ankle twisting sidewalks for much too long. This money will come from people visiting our downtown, many from other communities that make Newburyport their destination. When we visit other cities don’t we pay for parking? For the most part the answer is yes. This source can and will greatly benefit our infrastructure at little or no cost to the average resident.

But there is a problem; the WFT and NRA have not yet signed on with our City to make Newburyport better as a whole community. Rather the WFT and NRA continue to stare inwardly at their small outposts. Twenty plus years and there has been glacial movement on the NRA properties. It is time for them, the NRA to partner with the City to raise much needed cash for their properties and the City as a whole. Ditto for the WFT. They currently have paid parking but no enforcement. The City will provide that manpower and enforcement once they sign on.

Both these groups have been in attendance to the Mayor’s parking committee meetings but they have yet to climb onboard; why? What are they afraid of? Losing a grip on their domains?

It is time for these groups to stop being provincial and shortsighted and see the big picture. By signing on to the overall plan, not only will they be helping their City they will also help the areas and interests they supposedly represent. The residents of Newburyport should not only hope these appointed boards can finally represent the entire community and not their self interest, residents should demand it.”

Newburyport, Extreme Green and Light Boston

Gillian Stewart in her recent blog post coined a phrase that I had never heard before, “Extreme Green.”

And that sort of sums it up for me. I find that I am unable to have a conversation with many of Newburyport’s Green community (not all), because I feel as if, if I don’t agree with them, I’m a bad person, uninformed, unaware, oblivious, uncaring. This does not work for me.

Newburyport’s Energy Advisory Committee (EAC) has come up with an audit of street lights that are proposed to be turned off. The list is extensive.

For more information and to download the list, which is on an Excel data sheet, press here.

And in my walks and talks with people about the issue of turning off street lights in Newburyport, someone told me about “Light Boston,” which I did not know about.

These are a few quotes from Light Boston’s website. All of these quotes could be applicable to Newburyport, another walkable, historic city, one that I also think of as “A city set on a hill.”

“By increasing lighting in Boston, we can extend our welcome to tourists and enhance the quality of life for all those who enjoy our walkable city. I hope you will support this important Light Boston, Inc. initiative to light up the city.” Thomas M. Menino, Mayor, City of Boston

“Many architecturally and historically significant public and private buildings, numerous monuments and parks, and lively streetscapes help define the City of Boston. However, many downtown and neighborhood areas of the city lack urban legibility at night which diminishes residents’ and visitors’ enjoyment of the social and aesthetic quality of the city, creates safety concerns and inhibits economic vitality.
Light Boston is the leading organization in the city working to address this issue through imaginative, effective, and environmentally responsible exterior lighting. Exterior lighting can be used as an effective urban planning tool to:

  • Enhance social activity and economic growth by extending city life for residents and tourists into the evening and night
  • Improve the aesthetics and urban legibility of the city
  • Contribute to public safety
  • Highlight and complement Boston’s unique urban environment

By advocating for illumination as a vital component of urban design, Light Boston seeks to encourage interest, understanding, and appreciation of the city’s unique historic and cultural heritage.”

“Improving nighttime environments benefits all of our residents and helps address safety concerns while increasing civic pride in local landmarks.”

Newburyport–List of Proposed Street Lights to be Turned Off

The Energy Advisory Committee (EAC) has a list of proposed street lights to be turned off in Newburyport, MA. The list is extensive.

Some of those street lights, I do not know which ones, are already in the proposed city budget. This I did not know.

The complete Excel data sheet from the EAC of the proposed lights to be turned off can be downloaded here

A shorter version (shortened by me) of the Excel data sheet, that is easier to read and has basic information, can be downloaded here

(The criteria for keeping street lights on are 1) marked crosswalks (not places where streets intersect and people cross the street), actual painted lines, 2) Busy areas, 3) Speed limit over 30 mph, 4) Dangerous conditions. At the end of the data sheet you will see those 4 criteria and then a “Y”; (yes, shut off) or a “N”; (not shut off). The list of streets and some addresses are at the beginning of the data sheet.)

On the audit, not only are neighborhoods dark, but large areas of High Street, Water Street, Liberty Street, State Street. I counted 10 decorative historic street lights on State Street that are recommended to be turned off. And there is a question about whether (13 decorative historic lights/lamps around the Green Street Parking Lot and 18 decorative historic lights/lamps a around the Playground) a total of 31 historic lights/lamps on Inn Street should be turned off, and about whether 14 historic lights/lamps on Market Square should be turned off. It’s on the list, I’m not making this up.

If you have a problem with this audit, and a recommendation that is already in the budget about street lights in Newburyport being turned off, please contact Mayor Donna Holaday, Newburyport City Councilors and write a Letter to the Editor at the Newburyport Daily News.

Mayor Donna Holaday’s contact information:
Newbuyrport City Hall
60 Pleasant Street, Newburyport, MA 01950

Contact information for the Newburyport City Council can be found here.

If you are unsure of what your Newburyport City Councilor looks like, press here.

If you wish to email a Letter to the Editor at the Newburyport Daily News contact:
Merrily Buchs

Newburyport–Turning Off Street Lights

Yesterday I did some research on turning off street lights. What I found is that towns and cities all over America and in Europe are turning off street lights to save money. Sometimes environmental issues are sited, as in Newburyport’s proposal, often it seems citizens are given a choice between turning off street lights and higher taxes.

I had a long and constructive correspondence and conversation with one of Newburyport’s Energy Advisory Committee (EAC). They graciously emailed me a copy of the lights that are proposed to be shut off in Newburyport, MA (it is public record).

The complete Excel data sheet can be downloaded here.

A shorter version (shortened by me) of the Excel data sheet, that is easier to read and has basic information, can be downloaded here.

Seeing the list, which is extensive, my reaction was one of shock. Basically Newburyport’s neighborhoods would be dark.

When I called the member of the EAC, my concern to them was that when people understood the extent of the proposal, the reaction could be so strong and visceral, an instinct to protect family and property, that a constructive dialogue might not be possible. That the whole process could turn into a destructive experience, not unlike many in Newburyport that I have seen. They understood and agreed, and for that I give them a great deal of credit.

The criteria for keeping street lights on are 1) marked crosswalks (not places where streets intersect and people cross the street), actual painted lines, 2) Busy areas, 3) Speed limit over 30 mph, 4) Dangerous conditions (how this criteria was defined, I forgot to ask, from my experience, unfortunately, a great deal of Newburyport’s sidewalks are hazards). At the end of the data sheet you will see those 4 criteria and then a “Y” (yes, shut off) or a “N” (not shut off). The list of streets and some addresses are at the beginning of the data sheet.

As I understand it, the EAC has been working on this proposal to turn off Newburyport’s street lights for a year, working with volunteers, including Newburyport High School’s Environmental Club. My understanding is that this list is still a work in progress.

Debate for Mayor, Election 2009

I watched the mayoral debate between Donna Holaday and James Shanley last night on Channel 9 (see earlier entries for other times, as well as the video and link below).

I came away thinking that we are lucky to have two really good candidates, who I think would both make good mayors.

I know both of the candidates, and they both have very knowledgeable and “geeky” sides, as well as relaxed and funny sides.

In the debate I saw the knowledgeable, thoughtful and “geeky” side of both candidates. What came across was Donna Holaday’s strength on the financial aspect of running our city, especially doing the budget, which is huge. And James Shanley’s strength on the planning and developing side, which is also huge.

In my conversations with James Shanley over the years, I’ve often been struck that he has gone to regional planning seminars-conferences, that none of the other Newburyport City Councilors had gone to. In the debate candidate Shanley referenced one of those conferences, with a comment, and this is not an exact quote, “It was kind of a ‘geeky’ thing to do,” which, it sounded like on tape, brought chuckles from the audience. James did manage in that debate to show the relaxed and humorous side of James Shanley, a side which is very appealing.

Gillian Swart in her post on the debate has her take, and she does point out the importance of Donna Holaday’s financial expertise, especially when it comes to the budget.

Below is the video of the evening debate and a link to PortMedia, so you, reader of the Newburyport Blog, could make up your own mind about who you would like to vote for mayor of Newburyport, MA.

(Editor’s Note: The video is no longer available at

The Newburyport Mayoral Debate, Election 2009, video courtesy of PortMedia.
(Voting day is Tuesday, November 3, 2009.)

Newburyport Perpetual Winter

I’m still here you know.

I meet someone in the grocery store. Their face lights up with relief, huge hug, “You haven’t left,” they say. “You didn’t go to Minnesota.”

It’s nice to see their face light up.

Endomorphins from huge hugs are always appreciated.

But the “Minnesota” thing has me stumped. Maybe in the midst of yet another New England winter from hell, I might, might consider, possibly a stint in much warmer place like North Carolina, for instance. But Minnesota? As I recall from my vast readings of Laura Ingalls Wilder, winters in Minnesota are far worse than in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

I meet someone in CVS shortly after my very nice encounter in the grocery store. “You’re still here? We thought you’d left.” No, “How nice to see you.” Certainly no lighting up of any face. No, just a good old “Newburyport Yankee,” “You’re still here?”

Ah, what a relief. The “dichotomy” that is Newburyport appears to be very much around. The “dichotomy” that I’ve written about on the Newburyport Blog for now 3 years (good grief), poked at, mused over, tried to explain, is still very much part of the community in which I live. I find myself oddly relieved by this.

I like these “tough old birds.”

“Tough old bird,” was a “saying” that my Mother used to use. This was way before feminism was even quaintly fashionable. No one in their right mind would refer to any female these days as a “tough old bird.”

Where have I been? Obsessing over the sucky, let’s face it, yes, it’s beyond sucky, economy. Wondering (vast understatement) if anyone in their right mind would buy gorgeous paintings (I’m an artist), when even the very rich are losing their houses (or at least some of their houses).

So I’ve been designing “web stuff.” (Hopefully more on this later.) Thinking that it could be a good idea to expand “Mary Baker Art” to “web stuff.” I’ve been contemplating that websites could be works of art, launched into the universe by the World Wide Web, aka the Internet.

Yes, and what better project, I say to myself, than to design websites, during a sucky New England winter, that feels like something out of Narnia when that witch was in charge. It feels sometimes, like a frozen, perpetual “Ground Hog Day.”

One of my neighbors looks at me quizzically as I brush my front steps of snow (lots of snow) with a dainty, somewhat beat-up, broom. I tell them that it gives me hope that in the not too distant future, I will be complaining about wretchedly long hot summers (this is actually true).

They shrug (it’s a good thing that I’m an artist, I can pretty much get away with this kind of nonsense) and look at me as if I’m nuts.

Newburyport, Education and the Election

I’ve been consumed by the national election for president. Nothing on the local level (at least as of today) seems to be as intriguing as what is happening on the presidential campaign front.

And, for me, there is so much that would effect us locally in Newburyport, MA, depending on the outcome of the presidential election.

At the moment, mayor John Moak is asking the citizens of Newburyport, MA to consider voting on a tax increase to help with, among other things, education in Newburyport, MA.

This is at a time when people are loosing their jobs, not getting pay increases, dealing with the high cost of gasoline, increased cost of groceries and other staples, getting ready for more expensive heating and electric bills for the winter. This would be a tough sell for our mayor at any time, and it is a particularly tough sell at this point in tough economic times.

And we need a lot more money to help educate our children.

And one of the things that we as a community in Newburyport, MA, have discovered during the ordeal of the Override for funding for our schools last year, is that there is little help from the State of Massachusetts, one of the reasons being, the Federal government is not helping the states, or at least our state, with money to adequately fund education.

So I want someone in the White House next January who is going to pay attention and help local education, as well as help the financial plight of small cities and towns all across America. And during the last eight years we certainly have not seen the local support that we in Newburyport, MA need so badly, from the current administration. And I doubt we would see an improvement in support for our small cities and towns from 4 more years of a Republican administration.

It is one of the many reasons that I would like to see a Democrat in the White House.

And to compare the candidates’ voting records and educational priorities, I found a helpful site here and here.

Curiosity, Money, Happiness

One of the things that I do have, is a very curious nature.

I’ll wake up one morning, and go, “Oh, I don’t know anything at all about ‘X,’ how can I find out or learn about ‘X’ (short of going and getting a degree on the subject).”

And bless the Internet, because, if I feel like it, I can learn a whole lot about a whole lot of stuff, and it’s really fun for me.

One of the things that I’ve decided that I know “nada” about is business and finance, and it’s high time I learned something about the subject. (Maybe it’s Mr. Karp coming to town. Maybe it’s the continuous municipal mess so many cities and towns, including Newburyport, find ourselves in. Whatever it is, I got real curious.)

So I have several neophyte sources that I go to, Yahoo Finance, MarketWatch and the Huffington Post. They all have links to various articles on various subjects on the subject.

People get MBA’s in this stuff, so (yes, I know) without an MBA I’ll be in kindergarten on this subject for the rest of my life, the “fluff” of Yahoo Finance sound-bites being my teacher.

BUT, I’ve come across a Yahoo Finance person that I really like a lot–Laura Rowley, who writes articles on how money affects people psychologically. And her latest article “Money & Happiness” I like a lot, a whole lot.

“The study (you’ll have to read the article) underscores the importance of separating temporary euphoria from genuine happiness. I subscribe to Aristotle’s notion of eudaimonia — which is translated from the Greek as “happiness,” but is probably closer to the word “flourishing.” And long-term flourishing requires discipline, persistence, hard work, faith, and, most important, pursuing goals that are close to your heart and based on your personal gifts.

This isn’t the smiley-face, instant-gratification kind of “happiness” that popular culture promotes. As Thomas Carlyle once said, ‘There is something higher than happiness, and that is blessedness.’ ”

And after reading that again, maybe it’s my frustration with our “Paris Hilton world” (see lots of other posts). And in reading this, it’s nice to see happiness equated with “discipline,” faith,” “persistence” and “blessedness.”

Love that. Love that a lot.

Mary Eaton

Inspirational Change

My father (see previous post) was a realist. He knew change could be inspirational, and although daily, informal encounters could change people’s lives (and his did), he also believed that inspirational change could cost money. Often lots and lots of money.

My dad was a Roosevelt Democrat, and felt quite strongly that for people who had money, paying taxes was a patriotic act. And if people didn’t want to pay taxes, that provisions should be made to either compliment what the government could do, or create an entity that undertook a project that the government should, but refused to do.

And as a tax lawyer (way before being a “lawyer” became not such a good attribute, when lawyers, in general, believed in service, not how much money can I make) he persuaded his clients to do things like fund research for mental illness, at a time when no one talked about mental illness, or look for a cure for cancer, and fund stem cell research, when, for example, the present administration had “reservations” about such things.

And face it, one of the reasons Newburyport’s downtown is so inspirational, is that it was funded by lots and lots of federal dollars.

My father also understood the stresses of poverty. He fought for a compassionate solution to homelessness in New York City, and believed that the criminal justice system in New York City had the potential to be humane. And he raised the money (a talent my father had, and a gene his daughter did not receive) to attempt to make these goals attainable.

To make the educational system for our children “inspirational,” it would not only take the guardian angles that inhabit it, but also lots and lots of money to restore all the cuts that have been made over so many years. My father would have understood this. But he also would have believed that it would not be right to raise money on the backs of the struggling poor and middle class.

The same would go for such things as creating a senior center, and for funding the Council on Aging to an “inspirational” level.

And what to do at budget time with dealing and coping with the myriad of valuable projects and issues, all of which need to be funded, but where funds are lacking, I have no idea.

I do know, that to make many of them “inspirational,” lots and lots of money, would go a long, long way. I also believe that to raise taxes in Newburyport, MA that would put the less fortunate and middle class in crisis, would be a huge mistake.

Mary Eaton

Insight, Wisdom and Inspiration

I miss my Dad.

One of the things that my Dad and I would always do, is talk about politics, national and local. And I want to ask him so many things.

One of my Dad’s great gifts, and I’ve heard this over and over from so many people who knew him, was his ability to listen to an issue or problem, business or personal, and in one or two sentences get to the kernel of the what would be at stake, but always with an optimistic twist.

I remember when I talked to my Dad about the override for our schools, and his wonderful remark, that folks were afraid that if an override passed, that they would “lose their town.” Bingo. It was always a “bingo.” It might not be a “bingo” I might want to hear, but it was a “bingo,” nevertheless.

I want to ask him about Mr. Karp’s visit. He would have some wise insight that eludes me. I want to ask him about Newburyport’s critical need for funding, which is at odds with people’s often desperate personal financial struggles. He would have ideas. Lots and lots of ideas. And very wise ideas at that.

He always taught me that change was an organic part of life. And one of his many gifts, was not only to make change acceptable, but almost always to make change inspiring.

Change is and has and will happen to Newburyport, MA. And how do we as citizens and residents of this small New England city, make that change, not just acceptable, but how do we make change an inspiration?

Mary Eaton

Money and Municipal Conflict


Nothing quite divides a community quite like money, or the lack thereof.

One of the places that I check out on the World Wide Web is the “Around the North Shore Forums” (you have to become a member to participate in any way). And Around the North Shore gives me an understanding about how many people feel about the many things that are going on in the community, which are not voiced in other places.

The sentiment expressed on Around the North Shore thus far appears, almost unanimously, that the expenses in Newburyport, MA are already high enough, and there could be great resistance to any attempt to increase taxes or fees.

And what I am also hearing is a tremendous amount of resentment to those who might propose a raise in city taxes and fees.

This is not exactly a surprise. In fact, it’s pretty much by the book.

As the gentrification of Newburyport continues, the opposition to gentrification is not only inevitable, but understandable. It appears to be the process in almost every community that I know about, that is going through this kind of transition.

Raised taxes and fees means that less and less of the “less well to do” would be able to live in Newburyport, MA, and of course this would create a great deal of anxiety and conflict. How could it not?

I am quite sure that the “less well to do” would not “go gentle into that good night.” And I am sure that the leaders and politicians in Newburyport, MA are well aware of that reality.

Mary Eaton

Gym Class, Newburyport, 104 Students

Back on November 7, 2007 there was an article by Gillian Swart in the Newburyport Current about the Newburyport Rupert A. Nock Middle School which said,

“One grade 7 phys. ed. class has 104 students… “There is no way to fit 104 students comfortably or safely in the gym,” Hopping (Rupert A. Nock Middle School, Principal Barry Hopping) noted, adding that so far, the weather has cooperated and the classes have been held outdoors.”

Well, honey, the weather is no longer cooperating, and it’s cold outside. Real cold out side.

I don’t know what the situation would be now, December 2007, I have not called the Nock Middle School, but I sure am curious.

I mean, that’s crazy, 104 kids in the Middle School gym.

I’d like to see a photograph of what in the world that would look like.

In fact, I’d like to see some footage of that unimaginable gym class with 104 students on YouTube.

If anybody put footage of that gym class on YouTube, I would, at the very least, like to link to it. And with proper permission, I would put the video on the Newburyport Blog.

Mary Eaton