Monthly Archives: November 2007

Another Chain Store Coming to Newburyport, MA

Donna O’Neil from the Newburyport Current is correct (Newburyport Current, November 30, 2007). Chico’s apparently is coming to Newburyport, MA.

From Careerbuilder.com:

“Store Manager & Store Team-Chico’s-19 Water Street, Newbur” (I’m assuming Newburyport, since it’s listed as Newburyport on other job finder websites.)

“Opening, March 2008″

Also from Careerbuilder.com

Company Overview:

“Chico’s FAS Inc., which is a group of 4 divisions, is a specialty retailer of private label, sophisticated, casual-to-dressy clothing, intimates, complementary accessories and other non-clothing gift items. The Company operates 847 women’s specialty stores, including stores in 47 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico operating under the Chico’s, White House|Black Market, soma by Chico’s, and Fitigues names. From our exclusive, private-label designs to our exceptional personal service, our divisions provide a truly unique retail environment. When you walk into any of our stores, you can depend upon the sales staff to coordinate, accessorize, and help you build a wardrobe to suit your needs. All our products are designed and developed by our Product Development Team in our Headquarters in Fort Myers, Florida which enables us to provide you with new styles every week.”

From what I can make out from salemdeeds.com, 19 Water Street is owned by New England Development.

Actually, on the deed it says Newburyport Manager LLC TRS, with a contact for Bruce M. Herman. But since Newburyport Manager LLC owns property all over downtown Newburyport, and there is a Bruce M. Herman who is the Controller, Executive Vice President at New England Development, I am assuming that we would be talking about New England Development and Mr. Karp.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Start Low and Go Slow

I’ve really been thinking (obviously) about the new Newburyport City Council 2008. What a surprise. And mulling over the “new” state of affairs.

And one of the things that concerns me is the expectation that this new council could, “get a lot accomplished” and “fasten your seat belts.” (Newburyport Daily News, November 12, 2007)

They might.

But my guess would be that whatever the new Newburyport City Council hopes to achieve in the years 2008-2009, it could be a good idea to divide those expectations not just half, but probably by 6 or 8, and if that much actually could be accomplished, well, my, a lot would have been achieved.

From talking to folks the last couple of weeks, and looking back at politics while I’ve been in Newburyport, MA, it always seems that it would be, 2 steps forward and 3 steps back.

I know that with geriatric patients (no, I’m not a geriatric patient, at least, I hope I get to be a geriatric patient one day, but there may be a ways to go) there is a great phrase, “Start low and go slow.”

So, even with great possibilities ahead, my hope would be that the upcoming Newburyport City Council 2008, would take a deep breath and “start low and go slow.”

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Emotional Response to Political Setbacks

What happens when politically one has one heart’s set on something and things just do not go the way one hoped?

In political life, this happens constantly.

(And this one of those lovely times when it’s much easier to be a blogger and chit chat, rather than to be in the actual political ring. How lovely.)

My own “mild” experience with something like this, is the “infamous” bike lanes.

Right from my very first High Street meeting, January 1999, which was chaired by Newburyport City Councilor Erford Fowler and then Newburyport City Councilor John Norris, “traffic calming” instead of “traffic lights” was a major theme.

And I remember so clearly, Councilor Fowler turning to me and saying, “You gotta learn about this.” We were all excited. Here was a “solution” to the traffic light thing not happening on High Street.

Good grief, be careful what you wish for, because, by golly, I learned all about “traffic calming.” Who knew.

And ever since 1999 bike lanes were a major component at almost every meeting on the subject I ever went to, a solution to slowing down traffic, without traffic lights on High Street. Bike lanes repeatedly, always got the big “thumbs-up”.

Ah, but when the bike lanes actually started to get implemented, I think it was sometime in 2004, all hell broke loose.

And for me it was, “Say what? No, no one threaten to harm your grandmother, and the bike lanes are what everyone actually asked for.”

And recently, I was told that when being shown houses in Newburyport, MA, realtors were apologizing for the “bike lanes”. So, I’m certainly surmising that the bike lane thing still holds the same highly-charged, visceral response now, as when they first went down however many years ago that may have been.

So what were the choices. Become bitter and angry that things didn’t go the way I thought they would. Ask myself “how important is it?” And actually, bike lanes really are not that important. Let the whole thing go and move on to whatever might be next (like becoming a blogger, good grief).

And folks in the political world have this dynamic happen to them all the time, on different levels of importance.

And the folks that I’ve seen who have managed to transcend the vagaries of the political process, are those who have not become bitter and angry over whatever. Have asked themselves some version of, “how important is it” (and rarely is it that important). Have a sense of humor and let whatever it may be go, and move onto the next thing, whatever the next thing would be.

And as we see this new Newburyport City Council 2008 take shape, the “how important is it?” thing, and the “letting it go” thing, with a hefty dollop of humor, could be crucial to how effective this new Newburyport City Council could be.

If frustration, anger and bitterness take over, well, we’ll just have to kiss political achievement goodbye.

But if there is a sense of humor, working together (unity, what a thought, my) and realizing that some things would end up working Ok, and some things would have different levels of accomplishment, it is possible that things could actually have a chance of working out alright.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Fall Gardening Heresy

During one of those winter’s from hell a few years ago where people lost all sorts of stuff from their gardens, I made a startling discovery. A lot of the bushes, plants, green stuff that I had so meticulously raked leaves off of during the fall, croaked. The green stuff that had collected fall leaves around them, not only made it, but seemed to flourish.

So, voila, my fall raking habits took a turn for the “un-recommended.”

I now don’t rake leaves under any of the green stuff, bushes, plants, whatever, but instead, I not only leave the leaves, but actually heap extra leaves on top. I figure it’s worked for Mother Nature for millions of years, why shouldn’t it work for moi, even though everything I’ve ever read says that that would be “gardening heresy”.

And I figure all those leaves that are taken to the Newburyport City dump turn to “compost,” which, in the spring, people then go and get and put in their yards. Why not save a trip to the Newburyport City compost heap, and just have the process take place where I happen to live?

I also stopped cutting stuff back. More possible gardening heresy.

Nothing so far has croaked as a result of this highly “un-recommended” gardening strategy of mine. Instead I save hours not doing stuff that would drive me crazy. Little birds seem to like pecking at the dried up seeds that are left. And in the spring, depending on the green stuff, there are these little stick flags, sticking up, reminding me, that, “Oh yes, something grew there last spring. Let’s clear whatever may be on there now, and find out whatever it could be.”

And a lot of times, by April, the leaves that were left and heaped on all the green stuff, have disintegrated into nice, yummy dirt. Whatever hasn’t, then gets flopped onto various “decorative” mulch piles sitting about here and there.

And my late fall garden has a “relaxed,” Mother Nature look. Unlike the yards of my neighbors (obviously my “wayward” gardening habits have not spread) which have tidy yard appearances.

And I also have a ruthless, survival of the fittest, “gardening” style. My gardening procedure is that if the green stuff survives and spreads then, “eureka” the stuff stays and gets put other places around my dwelling. Of course this does limit things to select hardy selection. But it still looks Ok to moi. And I’m getting to the point where hassle less, low maintenance gardening stuff, is really working for me.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Self-Sustaining November Pets

My self-sustaining pets, the finches. The beautiful Gold Finches.

A very kind reader of the Newburyport Blog emailed me a while back, to let me know that, no, my self-sustaining pets, the Gold Finches, actually stick around for the winter, they don’t fly on South.

Cool.

Love this.

Apparently the males turn from a bright yellow to a muted grey.

So instead of dumping out the finch food the way I do every fall, I filled the finch feeder back up to see what would happen.

Low and behold, a few days later, there were a couple of very drab (sorry guys) birds pecking away. They were so drab that they were difficult to tell them apart from the less than swanky or colorful finch feeder.

I can tell when the finches have been hanging around, because the finch food all of a sudden starts to get low. But, alas, the finch food has not.

So, I go and talk to the bird feeder fellow out at the traffic circle (the place where the policeman stopped me for being too aggressive, trying to enter the traffic circle– see earlier entry). And yes indeed, the kind reader of the Newburyport Blog is correct, the finches stick around. According to the finch feeder fellow, some of his clients have feeders that are swarming with drab winter Gold Finches.

Not at my house, however. And no answer to this — the mystery of no finches.

It can’t be because they don’t like my cooking, because what I’m serving up to the finches, who aren’t showing up, is all store-bought stuff.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Newburyport, Waterfront Survey 2000

Bless the readers of the Newburyport Blog. I love it when accurate information comes my way.

This is a clarification and correction of the earlier entry on the Central Waterfront (which is being discussed on Tom Salemi’s blog.) Yes, the 2000 survey did address the issue of all kinds of uses, including, mixed-use, retail/residential.

Please press here to see the PDF version of the survey that the NRA sent out in 2000.

Mary Lou Supple emailed me to say that in the year 2000, “Of all the things people did not want to see on the waterfront, housing of any kind was number one. No one wanted anyone else to live on their waterfront. ” (Used with permission.)

And apparently the surveys with comments, about 1500 of them, were placed in the reference section of the Newburyport Library in 2000, in three binders. I have not checked to see if they are still there now.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Newburyport, Rumblings of a Political Backlash

Election 2007. I feel the rumblings of a backlash already in progress. Sorry folks–a reaction to the new Newburyport City Council that will be sworn in January 2008.

I think if the current Newburyport City Council had been re-elected, I don’t think I would be feeling the rumblings of a backlash.

And some that I’ve talked to, feel that the rumblings are in part to Tom O’Brien stepping down as the President of the Newburyport City Council and James Shanley seeking to be the new president and, it is my understanding, succeeding.

James Shanley, in my book, is a centrist, and a very thoughtful man. Councilor Shanley has always struck me as the sort of fellow who likes efficiency, and likes to get things done.

When Mayor Lisa Mead took office for the first time in the 1990′s, as I remember it, she wanted to bring what she felt would be a more professional approach towards running the city of Newburyport, MA. Ms Mead, as I recall, was no-nonsense and efficient. This, in my recollection, was a markedly different stylistic approach to her predecessor, Peter Matthews, who could be found in the relaxed atmosphere of Angies, downtown on Pleasant Street, meeting and talking with his constituents.

Let’s just say, as I recall, that Ms Meads no-nonsense, efficient approach was not met with open arms.

As James Shanely takes over the presidency of the Newburyport City Council, it would be my hope that he would do so with the utmost sensitivity and tact. And I think that this could well turn out to be a most difficult job.

The fact that Erford Fowler, after 14 years, would no longer be on the Newburyport City Council floor, is hugely symbolic. I think it has always been believed that Councilor Fowler would be “unshakable.” And I think the fact that he was “shakable” has caused some major unease.

And I do believe that (no matter how smart or how personable and politically savvy she may be) someone, a woman no less, who has lived here “only” 6 months, beat out all sorts of folks with Newburyport political pedigrees, and would sit on the Newburyport City Council floor, has also, on some conscious or unconscious level, caused some major unease.

And the fact that Donna Holaday “is back,” and received more votes as Newburyport City Councilor at Large, than Mayor John Moak did as mayor, wittingly or unwittingly, could set up a dynamic that also, in my book, could cause some major agitation.

If I were the Newburyport City Council 2008-2009, I would take nothing for granted. Act with humility and grace, and bend over backwards to make absolutely sure, that to the best of their ability, all constituencies and residents of Newburyport, MA are heard, understood, appreciated and appropriately represented.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Newburyport’s Central Waterfront

I gotta say that it’s great fun taking a computer break and then being able to check out Tom Salemi’s blog, Newburyport Posts. I get a big kick out of it.

Newburyport Posts has been discussing the possibility of not having a park/parking on the Central Waterfront but mixed-use building.

Sigh.

Some history here. The fight for an Open Waterfront and not a hotel was fierce and ended up in court. And I can’t sight particular sources here, but it is my remembrance that Mr. Foster paid a fortune fighting that legal battle, eventual losing, and during the recession of the early 1990′s the Lagasses bought up much of what Roger Foster owned downtown, shall we say, for a “fair price.”

The 2 questionnaires that went out did not include the option of mixed-use building, i.e. retail and residential space, but it was all about a hotel or an open waterfront. (Folks please feel free to email me with clarifications on all of this very complicated, decades, long history.) (Please see Editor’s note at the bottom of the post.)

It is my own humble opinion that way back whenever that was, that was the time to discuss other options, not now.

I have a vague memory (again clarification may be needed) that when Nick Cracknell was Newburyport Planning Director, it was thought that from a city planning point of view, that mix-used on the Central Waterfront could make long-range sense.

However, to do something of that magnitude, would take incredible political will, complete consensus (good luck on that one, it’s only been how many decades now?), and a consistency in the corner office and in the Newburyport Planning Office (again, could be unlikely).

This would be my guess–that if the chit-chat of mixed-use on the Central Waterfront actually gets some traction, we could see the Moak parking folks and the pro-Open Waterfront folks come to an agreement lightening fast, and together fight like crazy against a mixed-use concept.

And I would be correct on my prediction (please press here for earlier post) that the Central Waterfront would never be completed in my lifetime.

At the moment, as it stands, I could actually lose that bet with myself. Because it looks like a meeting of the minds, a consensus, could actually be a possibility.

(And don’t forget all the folks who want a senior center on the Central Waterfront as well.)

And just for argument’s sake, it would be my feeling that having open space in that area, would be very much of an economic booster. This is not just any vista, but a chance to get a gander at the mouth of the mighty Merrimac River, with all its power, its beauty, its strength, its drama and its sense of hope and possibility, churning its way to the vast Atlantic Ocean.

There are not many such panoramas. And this one certainly consciously and/or unconsciously gives hope to my soul, and is one of the reasons that I like to live here so much. And I would imagine that concept could be applicable to other souls as well.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Editor’s Note: Corrections and clarifications can be found on a later entry. Please press here to see that post.

I’ve used the phrase “Central Waterfront” to reference the two NRA waterfront lots. The “Waterfront” or “Waterfront West” and “Waterfront East” would be the property owned by Mr. Karp and New England Development. The “Waterfront” is also often used to describe the whole “shebang” down there along the might mouth of the Merrimac River.

Newburyport Politics, Us versus Them

I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard the phrase lately, “We don’t have to worry anymore. There’s more of us than there is of them.”

Oy veh. Don’t even go there. Don’t be so sure.

And, I can’t tell you how often over the years, I’ve heard that exact same phrase, and believe me, it wasn’t true then, and I’d give it a real good guess, that it probably might not be true now.

We are talking here about different “voting blocks” within the city. And the fact that we now have a “progressive” Newburyport City Council, as of January 2008.

Start asking for money, and you will see “them” rise up in force.

And if one takes a look at the numbers of the recent November 2007 election, they tell a tale.

Ed Cameron ran one heck of a clean, thoughtful, long, hard, slogging, “door to door” campaign. Plus he’s is an incredibly thoughtful and I believe, ethical and trustworthy human being. But that race was very close. By no means a “landslide.”

And I think a couple of candidates rode on his coattails, not visa versa. Both Jim Stiles and Kathleen Ives did remarkably well in a “conservative” ward (Ward 4).

Ward 5, a “conservative” ward, was won, against an incumbent, by a “conservative” candidate.

And Al Lavender, Mary Carrier, Bob Kelleher, William Deans (and I really don’t know whether or not to throw in Gary Roberts in here or not) split a large voting block. If you add all those numbers together, those are a whole lot of votes, enough for a couple of those candidates to have won.

Don’t forget the weather on voting day, November 2007. It stunk. If the choice would be between voting, or not getting pneumonia, my guess is, that the “health thing” could have won out.

And I’ve seen more damage over the years with the thought process of “there’s more of us than there is of them.”

It speaks of an adversarial approach to running our municipal government. An “us versus them” mentality. “Them” being the “enemy.” A possible “polarizing” approach.

“They” are still very much out there. “They” are also part of our community and part of our lives. And “their” concerns, very much need to be respected, if we as a community hope to get constructive and thoughtful things accomplished.

Is a “backlash” possible? In my book, you bet a backlash is hugely possible. It all depends on the attitude and how the more “progressive” candidates conduct themselves during the next 2 years.

If there is respect, maturity, consideration for different points of view, we could have had an excellent government, one worthy of reelection.

If there is even a subtle attitude of “excluding the enemy,” well then, my guess would be that election 2009 could be mighty interesting.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Children and Municipal Jobs

This one is going to make me real popular too.

Newburyport City Councilors Tom O’Brien and Erford Fowler have been criticized over the years for having their children work for the city of Newburyport, MA. Nepotism and a conflict of interest has been sighted on various occasions.

When Councilor O’Brien came “under fire” for salary increases for city employees that would have affected his daughter, believe it or not, although, yes, I thought it could be a conflict of interest, no doubt about that one, I was real sympathetic to Councilor O’Brien.

Having a 20 something offspring, if there was a job available that paid halfway decently, with benefits, and I could be instrumental in helping securing that employment, as a parent, as a mom, I’d be tempted to do it in a New York minute.

I thought that parenthood would get easier as my child got older.

Nope. Not easier, just different.

And as a parent, the same ferocious protectiveness that was there when my child was a newborn, is still there, at the same magnitude, in his 20′s.

So when folks were dumping on Councilor O’Brien when he was hoping for the best for his daughter, I got it.

If I had been in the same position, it would have taken people literally holding me back, and having them cover my mouth, to stop me beseeching them to “do right” by my kid.

Mamas and Papas have always wanted to help their children. At a younger age, “nepotism” used to be a “dirty word.” At a more “mature” age, I now definitely “get it” on a whole different, ferociously protective, parental level.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Municipal Jobs Well Done

It must have been about 4 or 5 years ago during one of the winters from Hell that we had, I called the DPW (Department of Public Works) and asked if there could be anyway that they could send a plow to re-plow our small street.

In a very short time a big plow appeared and did one heck of a spectacular job.

I wrote the DPW a thank you note, saying how much I appreciated their extra care and consideration.

When I talked to whoever at the then DPW a little bit later, they said, I believe, that my “thank you” note was the only one that they had ever received, and that they put it up on the bulletin board as a morale booster for the folks that had been working so hard.

Wow.

Apparently, Newburyport city employees often do not get thanked for a job well done.

And recently I got a very kind email from our Newburyport City Clerk, Richard Jones, thanking me for my “kind words” about the excellent job that the Newburyport City Clerk’s office did on election night, that was briefly mentioned on the Newburyport Blog. (See earlier entry.)

To be able to witness that process unfold was an incredibly moving and inspiring experience for me. It was a privilege for me to watch “Democracy” in action on election night at Newburyport City Hall.

That night, I couldn’t help thinking back to a national election that had gotten pretty muddled over election stuff. And I thought that we in Newburyport, MA, were so lucky to have such a professional and thoughtful approach by the Newburyport City Clerk’s office, that I wanted the readers of the Newburyport Blog to know just how luck we are.

And I know I’m not going to be real popular with this next thought. But there have been a lot of folks who are upset with the Newburyport City Unions, that they did not embrace the “new” health insurance plan (right away) and thereby saving the City of Newburyport, MA some major dough.

My take on the salaries of the folks that work for Newburyport, MA, is that with a few exceptions, they are pretty low, but the benefits have been good.

And that it is my understanding (and I can’t site the exact source for this one) that it is getting harder and harder to get folks (especially younger folks) to work on a municipal level.

And it takes a lot of money just to live to get by these days.

And as a city, I think we need to take a long look to make sure people might be inspired to work for municipalities. And appreciation for a job well done, in my book, always seems to go a long way.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

The Frogs and Possible Political Obsoleteness

The frogs are perturbed with me.

They claim that I’ve been ignoring them. And a picture of anyone of them has not been seen on the Newburyport Blog, since July of 2007.

My.

Well, 2 things.

And I hate to break it to the frogs, but apparently for some readers of the Newburyport Blog, they (the frogs) are not so popular. In fact, I was told by one visitor that they actually refuse to read any entry with pictures of “frogs” in them.

Goodness.

I think this could be very upsetting for George Cushing, Georgiana Tadpole and the twins .

George+G.jpg
George Cushing and Georgiana Tadpole
being “pissed” at this bit of news.

And I’ve been mulling over what to do. But forget about “frog naysayers,” I love my frogs.

And the 2nd thing, quite frankly, is that I thought the November election 2007 was pretty serious stuff. And although George Cushing, from Frog Pond at the Bartlet Mall, is the political consultant for the Newburyport Blog, I thought it might be best if green amphibians might not make political commentary during something so important.

So now that the Newburyport election 2007 is over, maybe I could lighten up a little bit. And George and Georgiana and the Twins could stop being so pissed at moi.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Power and Mud

Power.

It’s a word that’s been buzzing around in my brain lately.

And within the community, there appears that there could be a political shift in power.

This is not necessarily a good thing, or a bad thing. We’ll just have to wait and see.

We had the “old boys” (I apologize for lack of a better word). We had the “Mead progressives” (again, I apologize, maybe I’ll think of something better). And now we have this “new dichotomy.” The political world in Newburyport, MA starting January 1, 2008 (possibly shaping up a little sooner).

When Lisa Mead came into “power” in her first term in the 1990′s, for a then “young” woman, like myself, it seemed like a brave, happy, new world.

But, alas, politics is complicated, and never made up of “perfect” people (never has been, never will be); and learning curves and power plays on all different levels, unfolded over the years.

The brave new world I thought would evolve, became unavoidably, I suppose, a muddled business (and in 20-20, I guess one would think that it would).

And I imagine that that is what would most probably happen with this, pure as the driven snow, new political landscape. That it too could experience learning curves and power plays, and end up muddy, like a muddy, month of March in Newburyport, MA.

The frogs (we haven’t seen or heard from the frogs in a while) think I’m being cynical.

No, George and Georgiana , not cynical. Simply being realistic.

And what interests me is, who might end up rolling around in the mud, and how the muddy stuff might come about.

George has reminded me, that frogs actually like the mud, which protects them during long, cold, hard, New England winters. So, not only could mud be a necessary thing, but a good thing as well. So there.

Good grief. Possibly a wise frog? Or just a silly frog? I’m going to have to think on this one.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

The Mother’s Club and a New Dichotomy

I remember when I first found the Mother’s Club website and took a look at the picture of the “Board.”

The fact that the Mother’s Club would have a “Board” at all, says something. It speaks of sophistication, education and organization. It also says that these could not be “old timers.” Because the families of “old timers” are so interconnected, that they would not need a “Board” to organize around “mother stuff.”

I remember looking at the photograph of the “large” group of the “Board,” 24 young women, and thinking to myself, that they looked well-educated, energetic, had money (by Newburyport standards).

I know how hard it is to organize stuff. And to have this level of co-operation and organization, in Newburyport, MA, is quite something.

To me, and this is just my take, for the most part it appears that the Mother’s Club is comprised, for the most part, of young “newcomers” who would have bought houses in the recent housing boom since the year 2000.

And at 500 families strong, they have built a community within this community. And I thought to myself, keep an eye on these folks–potential political force.

And yup, they most certainly are.

And the fact that the Mother’s Club held a “Newburyport Candidate Forum” for the November election 2007, that quite frankly, for a candidate who was serious about winning, “courting” this voter block, was a definite “must attend.” This says volumes about the political clout that this group of 500 young families plus has achieved.

And this could be part of the tectonic shift. When I moved here 25+ years ago, there was never a thought about organically forming an organization like this one. The emphasis was on just living here and fitting into the community.

The housing market has been so expensive since the year 2000 or so, that the young families, single folks and couples who have moved, here have to have some money, and probably some very sophisticated jobs, to be able to afford to live here.

And my take is that they would have a level of education and work experience that is atypical for Newburyport, MA.

And the folks that have moved here, with money (by Newburyport standards), education (we are not talking blue-collar worker here anymore) and sophistication, are changing how politics would be done in Newburyport, MA.

They have and are becoming involved in Newburyport, MA, politically and in other ways.

And as a “weird old newbie” this is my promise to myself. These folks love it here and aren’t going away. And I’m going to try and meet as many of these folks as I possibly can. So far, I’ve tried to meet folks with absolutely no preconceived ideas, and the folks that I have met, and that I have gotten to know, I like enormously.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Newburyport, There is No Money

When Al Lavender became mayor, “they” (whoever “they” were) put me on Al Lavender’s transition team.

I later figured it was to shut me up. If that was the case, it obviously didn’t work very well.

I walked into my first meeting and thought, “Oh, my goodness” (or a stronger version of that phrase), “What in the world am I going to do?” The room was full of “conservative good old boys,” for lack of a better phrase (not the usual political folks I hung out with).

But you know what, it turned out to be an incredibly positive experience. I came away with such admiration for everyone on that transition team. They taught me a ton. And they gave Al Lavender terrific advice. And I think it was, believe it or not, basically the same advice that I imagine a progressive would have given him. I was stunned.

And at the very end of the process, member’s of the group went around the table and gave verbal summaries of various areas of the city (police, fire, schools, etc) to the newly elected mayor. And I remember my jaw just dropping.

Basically, to be very simplistic, there was $8,000 for $80 Million dollars worth of things, that need to be done not yesterday, but often needed to be done 20 years ago. Just like the fire trucks we still don’t have today. Same issues 8 years ago.

So anyone who thinks they are going to find extra money somewhere in this city. There is no money.

And folks ask me why I don’t run for Newburyport City Council. That’s a big reason why. I like to have a shot at paying the bills, and with that kind of financial weight, I just could not sleep at night.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

A Political, Newburyport Loss

I’ve been talking to all sorts of folks about the “mystery” to me of why Gary Roberts was not re-elected to the Newburyport City Council.

Let me say that during the last almost 2 years, Gary Roberts has been one of the kindest Newburyport Councilors to the Newburyport Blog.

Gary Roberts often calls to see if I’m doing Ok, because he has a concept of how difficult it is to be the “editor” of the Newburyport Blog.

I can’t tell you how much this has meant to me. It has meant the world to me.

And I have often called Gary Roberts for a “reality check.” He has always been straight forward and to the point, and I always feel much more calm and much more centered (and believe me, it hasn’t always been what I’ve wanted to hear).

And this is what it seems to me. The more conservative folks voted for Al Lavender and Mary Carrier, along with Steve Hutcheson, Robert Kelleher and William Deans.

For the more progressive folks, it appears that Tom Jones and Steve Hutcheson would be perceived to be more “liberal,” along with Donna Holaday, Barry Connell and Kathleen Ives.

And I think that there was a little bit of the “shooting the messenger” thing here as well. Gary Roberts has always been real upfront about, guess what folks, you think there’s money, well I gotta tell you, you’re wrong, there is no money.

Mr. Roberts seems to feel that it might not be a good idea to spend money on stuff, if the money would not be there.

And it appears that some folks sometimes seemed puzzled about Gary Roberts’ passion about the fact that it could be a good idea to try and stay within the city’s actual budget.

In a credit-card world, from much that I read, this could possibly be perceived as somewhat of a “quaint” sort notion. One that might not seem overly popular with our debt-ridden, larger society. Instant gratification, you can have it now. (Disclaimer: And, no, this would not apply to all people.)

And the stuff about the money not being there, he’s right. But that’s another entry altogether.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Political Rules of Accomplishment

My son who lives in New York City had some confusion with his landlord.

I’m from New York, and have had some experience in how these things are handled (in New York).

I call the landlord (I’m thinking, most likely a “tough cookie”) and pull a “New Yorker.” I open with the “conversation” screaming. He screams back. We’re both screaming at the same time.

The landlord says, “You want to scream first, and then I’ll scream.”

I say, “Sounds good.”

2-5 minutes later, we’re actually laughing, and finding out what’s going on in each other’s lives.

The “rules” are clear, the “New Yorker” thing is “understood.”

Imagine this happening in the often “buttoned-up,” New England, Yankee town of Newburyport, MA. Oy veh.

I got pulled over a while ago by a policeman, who felt I was being too aggressive in trying to enter the rotary, at Route 1 and State Street, coming into town.

I couldn’t imagine what in the world I could have done, when the policeman pulled me over. And when I found out, I explained to the young man, that even though I had lived here 25+ years, Massachusetts rotaries could be somewhat baffling and sometimes, somewhat scary.

The policeman, actually sounded sympathetic and proceeded to tell me how to ease into traffic in a rotary. This actually helped. (They don’t give you these sort of instructions when you move here.)

Here, the rules of accomplishment are often “Yankee tight lipped calm.”

Could you imagine if I pulled a “New Yorker” (of course they don’t have rotaries in New York, so it sort of doesn’t apply). I started screaming, he started screaming, and then we would laugh, and then I would learn about the “this is how you do the rotary thing.”

No, I think if I had pulled a “New Yorker,” I probably would have been arrested for who knows what.

And in politics in Newburyport, MA, it’s a little bit like the same idea. You gotta figure out the rules of achievement. And it ain’t always easy.

Most of the time it’s not bad idea to do some version of the “tight lipped, New England, Yankee thing.”

But every now and again, it’s Ok to pull out a full out “New Yorker.”

But if you pull out that political, full out “New Yorker” thing, and the “tight lipped Yankee” thing was what was needed. Boy, oh boy, are you ever in a whole lot of trouble. Big backfire city.

And I still maintain that politics in Newburyport, MA could be a “contact sport.” And it also pays to be, “wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove.”

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Election Night, Newburyport, MA

Visiting Newburyport City Hall on election night.

This was my first “full” election night as the “editor” of the Newburyport Blog.

I’d been at Newburyport City Hall for the Spring Election for the Override for Newburyport Schools, and the Primary Election for Mayor, in September. But this was my first “big” one.

Actually, the other two were more “fun” (if having major stuff at stake could be considered in the “fun” category). More relaxed, more kidding around, more people there.

Folks waited in the Newburyport City Council Chambers for the Newburyport City Clerk to come out and read the election results.

Except for Bruce Menin (School Committee) and Al Lavender (Mayor) there were no candidates there. I asked Audrey McCarthy (who is stepping down as Newburyport City Councilor at Large in January 2008) where everybody was.

Audrey told me that most candidates like to wait somewhere else, so if they lose, they have time to compose themselves, and not have to be there in front of everyone.

This made sense to me.

The folks who were there, were from the different campaigns, to get the election results, and then phone them onto their candidate.

Two people got phone calls from Ward 4 about 6 minutes after 8:00 PM, and the cat was out of the bag that it looked like Ed Cameron had won. (This was a huge “upset” over long time (14 years) Newburyport City Councilor, Erford Fowler.)

And then about 7 minutes after 8:00 PM, someone from the Newburyport City Clerk’s office came in, and started reading the election results.

The election results were read ward by ward (Newburyport has 6 wards and Ward 1 is broken up into 2 sections, the Mainland and Plum Island). So gradually I had this string of little numbers, that you have to be real good at math to add up.

People were zipping around the room, comparing notes, trying to make sure that they had written down the right numbers.

Bruce Menin had his computer set up and had all the numbers in a professional looking chart. (Looked just like the charts linked to from the Newburyport Blog election results post, November 6, 2007.) And then finally, we all figured out who had won. (See earlier entry.)

I learned from my previous 2 visits to Newburyport City Hall on election night, that our Newburyport City Clerk, Richard Jones, hands out the “unofficial” results if you wait around afterwards. Which I did.

And I was really impressed by our Newburyport City Clerk’s office. They were meticulous, calm and thoughtful about double and triple checking all the numbers, to make sure that they were all correct. It ended up being an honor to be able to wait and see the whole process unfold.

I got my “unofficial” copy of the election results, and came home and posted them for the readers of the Newburyport Blog.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Electoral Alterations in Newburyport, MA

Wow.

A tectonic shift.

(The forces and movement often leading to cracks of large geographical masses.)

Something very significant has happened in this Newburyport city election, November, 2007.

I’m still processing this, but I know its huge.

And it has to do with the newly elected Newburyport City Council.

Mayor John Moak may be “conservative,” but this is the most “progressive” Newburyport City Council since I’ve been here. And it indicates that the dynamics and make-up of the city of Newburyport, MA has changed in some major way, big time.

And not to take away from any candidate’s hard earned spot on the Newburyport City Council, but I think Mother Nature did play a part.

It poured, and it was chilly early in the day and it didn’t stop until around 3 PM. It starts to get dark around 5 PM. And then it started to get cold and slippery (our first genuine frost last night).

And from what I can pick up from talking to folks around town, many seniors did not come out and vote. Who wants to get pneumonia?

But I think, for example, in Ward 4, where long time Newburyport City Councilor (14 years), Erford Fowler, lost to a “progressive” candidate, Ed Cameron, my guess would be that, quite rightly, folks knew somewhere, that even if Erford Fowler lost, Ed Cameron is a compassionate man, who worked very hard in this election, and could be trusted. And maybe not coming out in the cold, drenching rain, could be Ok.

And much to Ed Cameron’s and Erford Fowler’s credit, they were both very gracious, one in victory, and one in not winning.

And the fact that this “you pay your dues,” “you gotta be born here,” Yankee town, elected a woman, Kathleen Ives, who has been here 6 months, over a variety of candidates that have served the city in a variety of capacities, is also huge. (Again, I’m still processing this one.)

And why Gary Roberts lost is a complete mystery to me and everyone I’ve talked to. In my book, a real loss for the city of Newburyport, MA. (And I’m still processing this one as well.)

And the fact that for the first time, in a very long time, we have a mayor that is going to have a second term, is huge. And the fact that Jim Stiles, a basically unknown “progressive” at the start of this electoral campaign, did so well, is also huge.

For moi, much more to process. Much more to mull over.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Election Results, Newburyport 2007

Election Results, 2007, Newburyport, MA

I’ve just gotten back from Newburyport City Hall and Richard Jones, Newburyport’s City Clerk most graciously gave me the results of Newburyport’s election, November 6, 2007.

MAYOR

John Moak: 3007
Jim Stiles: 2320

Winner: John Moak

COUNCIL AT LARGE

Barry Connell: 2554
Steven Hutcheson: 1856
Tom Jones: 2226
Gary Roberts: 1799
Mary Carrier: 1647
William Deans: 991
Donna Holaday: 3045
Kathleen Ives: 2054
Robert Kelleher: 1170
Al Lavender: 1788

Winners:

Barry Connell
Tom Jones
Donna Holaday
Steven Hutcheson
Kathleen Ives

WARD 2

Greg Earls: 519
Chris Cronin: 337

Winner: Greg Earls

WARD 4

Erford Fowler: 438
Ed Cameron: 514

Winner: Ed Cameron

WARD 5

Bruce Vogel: 399
Brian Derrivan: 435

Winner: Brian Derrivan

NEWBURYPORT SCHOOL COMMITTEE

Bruce Menin: 2371
Nicholas deKanter: 1742
Scott Frisch: 1289
Tracey Hurst: 1047
Barbara McDonough: 1552
Stephanie Weaver: 2538

Winners:

Bruce Menin
Stephanie Weaver
Nicholas deKanter

Here is a printed version of the “unofficial” election results, so that folks could see the voting breakdown for themselves.

Please press here for, Election Results, 2007 for Mayor and Newburyport City Council.

Please press here for Election results for Newburyport School Committee, 2007.

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Mary Eaton
Newburyport