The posts on this page are from a variety of Salem blogs and the views expressed are those of the individual blog author.

January 12th, 2012

Charlie Reardon has passed on


Essex Street Fair 2007 012 BW, originally uploaded by dmoisan.

The Salem Con Disabilities is sad to announce that one of our long-time members has passed away.

Charlie Reardon is no longer with us.

When I first started filming disability meetings, Charlie was one of the first people I met. He and I would go to various city meetings in one of his vehicles so I could record them. He was on a lot of shoots with me.

He also ferried around my blind colleague Andy quite a lot–Andy’s late guide dog, Elliot, adored Charlie!

We both lived in Ward 2 and we shared the same “opinions” on the Salem Common Neighborhood Association that I have long aired here.

We will miss Charlie.

October 17th, 2011

My years of futility in Salem transit, part 1

Highland Ave at Pep Boys

In my last post, I updated the status of Salem Depot and its endless revisions and delays.  A little further south of downtown, there’s another situation that I am reminded of again and again.

I’ve long wrote about the Market Basket bus stop and the problems navigating to it in the winter.  Around this time of year, most of us are shopping for new winter boots and hoping against hope that the upcoming winter will be mild, or at least with little snow.

This picture outside Pep Boys showed that this was not to be, early in 2011.  In 2010, the Commission hoped that the MBTA would route buses through Market Basket to eliminate the problem.

That was also not to be;  the MBTA declined the idea.  The Market Basket plaza was never designed for buses, the routes would be delayed going through there, but most importantly, the abutter to Market Basket—the adjacent shopping complex with Shaws and TJ Maxx, objected.

There will be no new bus stop in the winter of 2011-2012 and, I fear, there may never be.

Since I’ve started this blog, I have heard regularly from a gentleman, a former city councilor, who’s been upset over the bus stop and its snowbanks.

Like clockwork, I’ll hear from him when Mayor Driscoll announces funding for some new project (“She can spend $XXXXX for something but not on the bus stop!”)

Repeatedly.

He’s made me even more cynical than I am already.  I have seen and known enough about government to know that the fact of Mayor Driscoll seeking to start some project or another is totally orthogonal and unrelated to that bus stop.  I didn’t even vote for her but I have expressed my thoughts on transit to her and other elected officials regularly.

Most people who’ve been outraged over this issue have cars and don’t need to wait in the snow for the bus!

I use that bus stop regularly. If I get run over standing next to a snowbank one gray chilly day, isn’t that poetic justice?  Given what the Tea Parties say about government and those who work for it, I wouldn’t expect an ounce of sympathy from anyone if that happened!  I don’t know the politics of my correspondent, but I do know a lot of people his age who parrot  the “hard work and personal responsibility” trope of the Tea Parties so often that it is just screaming noise.  (Obviously, I didn’t work hard enough to overcome my vision problems so I could drive!)

And my correspondent is an ex-city councilor!  I feel that if you are a current city official or even a former city official, you have an obligation to answer when someone asks, “What did you do to make Salem better when you served?”

I’d like to ask my correspondent what he did when he had the reins.

I know that in 4 years and 1-1/3rd terms into my service on the Commission on Disabilities, I have to ask myself that question every time I get up in the morning and every time I sit in our conference room at SATV every third Tuesday.

I’m beginning to wonder if I can really answer that.  Thoughts in my next post. 

October 17th, 2011

My years of futility in Salem transit, part 1

Highland Ave at Pep Boys

In my last post, I updated the status of Salem Depot and its endless revisions and delays.  A little further south of downtown, there’s another situation that I am reminded of again and again.

I’ve long wrote about the Market Basket bus stop and the problems navigating to it in the winter.  Around this time of year, most of us are shopping for new winter boots and hoping against hope that the upcoming winter will be mild, or at least with little snow.

This picture outside Pep Boys showed that this was not to be, early in 2011.  In 2010, the Commission hoped that the MBTA would route buses through Market Basket to eliminate the problem.

That was also not to be;  the MBTA declined the idea.  The Market Basket plaza was never designed for buses, the routes would be delayed going through there, but most importantly, the abutter to Market Basket—the adjacent shopping complex with Shaws and TJ Maxx, objected.

There will be no new bus stop in the winter of 2011-2012 and, I fear, there may never be.

Since I’ve started this blog, I have heard regularly from a gentleman, a former city councilor, who’s been upset over the bus stop and its snowbanks.

Like clockwork, I’ll hear from him when Mayor Driscoll announces funding for some new project (“She can spend $XXXXX for something but not on the bus stop!”)

Repeatedly.

He’s made me even more cynical than I am already.  I have seen and known enough about government to know that the fact of Mayor Driscoll seeking to start some project or another is totally orthogonal and unrelated to that bus stop.  I didn’t even vote for her but I have expressed my thoughts on transit to her and other elected officials regularly.

Most people who’ve been outraged over this issue have cars and don’t need to wait in the snow for the bus!

I use that bus stop regularly. If I get run over standing next to a snowbank one gray chilly day, isn’t that poetic justice?  Given what the Tea Parties say about government and those who work for it, I wouldn’t expect an ounce of sympathy from anyone if that happened!  I don’t know the politics of my correspondent, but I do know a lot of people his age who parrot  the “hard work and personal responsibility” trope of the Tea Parties so often that it is just screaming noise.  (Obviously, I didn’t work hard enough to overcome my vision problems so I could drive!)

And my correspondent is an ex-city councilor!  I feel that if you are a current city official or even a former city official, you have an obligation to answer when someone asks, “What did you do to make Salem better when you served?”

I’d like to ask my correspondent what he did when he had the reins.

I know that in 4 years and 1-1/3rd terms into my service on the Commission on Disabilities, I have to ask myself that question every time I get up in the morning and every time I sit in our conference room at SATV every third Tuesday.

I’m beginning to wonder if I can really answer that.  Thoughts in my next post. 

October 17th, 2011

My years of futility in Salem transit, part 1

Highland Ave at Pep Boys

In my last post, I updated the status of Salem Depot and its endless revisions and delays.  A little further south of downtown, there’s another situation that I am reminded of again and again.

I’ve long wrote about the Market Basket bus stop and the problems navigating to it in the winter.  Around this time of year, most of us are shopping for new winter boots and hoping against hope that the upcoming winter will be mild, or at least with little snow.

This picture outside Pep Boys showed that this was not to be, early in 2011.  In 2010, the Commission hoped that the MBTA would route buses through Market Basket to eliminate the problem.

That was also not to be;  the MBTA declined the idea.  The Market Basket plaza was never designed for buses, the routes would be delayed going through there, but most importantly, the abutter to Market Basket—the adjacent shopping complex with Shaws and TJ Maxx, objected.

There will be no new bus stop in the winter of 2011-2012 and, I fear, there may never be.

Since I’ve started this blog, I have heard regularly from a gentleman, a former city councilor, who’s been upset over the bus stop and its snowbanks.

Like clockwork, I’ll hear from him when Mayor Driscoll announces funding for some new project (“She can spend $XXXXX for something but not on the bus stop!”)

Repeatedly.

He’s made me even more cynical than I am already.  I have seen and known enough about government to know that the fact of Mayor Driscoll seeking to start some project or another is totally orthogonal and unrelated to that bus stop.  I didn’t even vote for her but I have expressed my thoughts on transit to her and other elected officials regularly.

Most people who’ve been outraged over this issue have cars and don’t need to wait in the snow for the bus!

I use that bus stop regularly. If I get run over standing next to a snowbank one gray chilly day, isn’t that poetic justice?  Given what the Tea Parties say about government and those who work for it, I wouldn’t expect an ounce of sympathy from anyone if that happened!  I don’t know the politics of my correspondent, but I do know a lot of people his age who parrot  the “hard work and personal responsibility” trope of the Tea Parties so often that it is just screaming noise.  (Obviously, I didn’t work hard enough to overcome my vision problems so I could drive!)

And my correspondent is an ex-city councilor!  I feel that if you are a current city official or even a former city official, you have an obligation to answer when someone asks, “What did you do to make Salem better when you served?”

I’d like to ask my correspondent what he did when he had the reins.

I know that in 4 years and 1-1/3rd terms into my service on the Commission on Disabilities, I have to ask myself that question every time I get up in the morning and every time I sit in our conference room at SATV every third Tuesday.

I’m beginning to wonder if I can really answer that.  Thoughts in my next post. 

October 16th, 2011

Salem Depot Update

Message board at Salem Depot HP parking area

Two updates on Salem Depot:  Several of us from the Salem Commission on Disabilities met here at Salem Depot with representatives from the Salem and MBTA Police to discuss handicapped parking problems at the station.  The Salem News wrote about this in some detail.

There wasn’t much that the police could do at the moment, since there is no continual monitoring of the area, by video or otherwise, but the T placed a message board, seen in in the image, for the interim.  October and Halloween represent the biggest month that this station sees in car and foot traffic, so this sign is not or should not be an unexpected expense for the T.

I never read the Salem News comment section, but there was one comment to that article I want to address:  The commenter believes that, instead of enforcing HP parking, that people with disabilities should use the T’s paratransit service, The Ride.

Um, they could.  But as I’ve written before, that service is very expensive to provide.   Using The Ride for direct service from, say, North Salem to Boston is just nuts if one can make the commuter rail.  And using The Ride as a shuttle to the station itself is practically a non-starter with Salem’s downtown traffic as bad as it is.

It turns out to be much cheaper, in the long run, for the MBTA to make their regular service accessible to people with disabilities.  The current management at the T seems to realize this, only after decades of neglect—and lawsuits.

My second update is more disturbing.  There was a robbery at the station one night last month.  A student was robbed of his laptop and iPod to the tune of $1,400, while waiting for a ride around 9 PM.

On reading this in the News, I can imagine the good people of Federal Street locking their doors in unison.  It’s not safe at 9 PM, after all.

I have been at the Depot late at night getting off a train.  It’s not at all unusual to call for a ride or a taxi.  9 PM is not a “wrong” time to be on the T.

My Mom told me stories of the old Salem Depot, not the famous headhouse that was demolished 50 years ago, but the two that sat under the south end of Riley Plaza.

A platform that was virtually invisible from the street. 

There were crimes and assaults on that platform up until it was closed in 1987 when the current station opened.

It is not acceptable to have someone minding their business at the station, waiting for their ride home, and being robbed. 

It’s intolerable that we should be taking these events  for granted, but many do.  I know, we’re in a recession, government is ineffective, and can’t we just wait for better days?  We’ll build a better Salem Depot to the shrine of Sammy McIntyre someday soon!

I’m coming to think that nobody in Salem wants a new train station, not the politicians, not the Salem News 101st Keyboard Brigade, not the neighborhood groups, or the “government-is-bad” people, nobody.

More on my next post.

October 16th, 2011

Salem Depot Update

Message board at Salem Depot HP parking area

Two updates on Salem Depot:  Several of us from the Salem Commission on Disabilities met here at Salem Depot with representatives from the Salem and MBTA Police to discuss handicapped parking problems at the station.  The Salem News wrote about this in some detail.

There wasn’t much that the police could do at the moment, since there is no continual monitoring of the area, by video or otherwise, but the T placed a message board, seen in in the image, for the interim.  October and Halloween represent the biggest month that this station sees in car and foot traffic, so this sign is not or should not be an unexpected expense for the T.

I never read the Salem News comment section, but there was one comment to that article I want to address:  The commenter believes that, instead of enforcing HP parking, that people with disabilities should use the T’s paratransit service, The Ride.

Um, they could.  But as I’ve written before, that service is very expensive to provide.   Using The Ride for direct service from, say, North Salem to Boston is just nuts if one can make the commuter rail.  And using The Ride as a shuttle to the station itself is practically a non-starter with Salem’s downtown traffic as bad as it is.

It turns out to be much cheaper, in the long run, for the MBTA to make their regular service accessible to people with disabilities.  The current management at the T seems to realize this, only after decades of neglect—and lawsuits.

My second update is more disturbing.  There was a robbery at the station one night last month.  A student was robbed of his laptop and iPod to the tune of $1,400, while waiting for a ride around 9 PM.

On reading this in the News, I can imagine the good people of Federal Street locking their doors in unison.  It’s not safe at 9 PM, after all.

I have been at the Depot late at night getting off a train.  It’s not at all unusual to call for a ride or a taxi.  9 PM is not a “wrong” time to be on the T.

My Mom told me stories of the old Salem Depot, not the famous headhouse that was demolished 50 years ago, but the two that sat under the south end of Riley Plaza.

A platform that was virtually invisible from the street. 

There were crimes and assaults on that platform up until it was closed in 1987 when the current station opened.

It is not acceptable to have someone minding their business at the station, waiting for their ride home, and being robbed. 

It’s intolerable that we should be taking these events  for granted, but many do.  I know, we’re in a recession, government is ineffective, and can’t we just wait for better days?  We’ll build a better Salem Depot to the shrine of Sammy McIntyre someday soon!

I’m coming to think that nobody in Salem wants a new train station, not the politicians, not the Salem News 101st Keyboard Brigade, not the neighborhood groups, or the “government-is-bad” people, nobody.

More on my next post.

July 27th, 2011

Salem’s ADA Day, 2011

Monday marked the 21st anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Seen here are David Tracht, Salem Commission on Disabilities co-chair, Mayor Kim Driscoll, David Martel, Salem Commission on Disabilities and Mary Margaret Moor, Independent Li…

June 8th, 2011

Salem Schools Looking For a Home—and Accessibility

Salem Community Charter School

As reported by the Salem News, the new charter school, Salem Community Charter School is looking for space.  Museum Place is one possibility they’re looking at;  the former Saint Joseph’s Rectory is another.

As well, the Saltonstall School is being renovated and Salem is scrambling to find space for their students, and for a special-needs program at the Collins.

The rectory will need a year’s worth of work before it is useable as a school.  The Boston diocese did not offer their other properties such as St. John’s School and one official has speculated it is due to ADA issues.

A regular member of the commentariat at the Salem News weighed in on both stories with a refrain I am too familiar with as a member of the disability community in Salem.  To paraphrase:  “Why do we have to serve a small minority of students.  Forget that touchy-feely stuff of [disabled kids].  It’s an emergency—use the parochial schools!”

(It’s an emergency;  does that mean emergency no-bid contracting?  The member of the commentariat is a Tea Partier and I presume for less government and taxation and against the charming “emergency” measures that have often concealed thefts of the public purse.  I’m getting off the point here.)

Here’s a scenario the hardest-bitten conservative can relate to:

John Jones is a decorated veteran.  A wounded veteran who came home from Afghanistan or perhaps Iraq.  There’s no way he’s gonna get up and down stairs unless he rolls.  Downhill, possibly not under his own control.

He has kids.  He has a daughter, a true daddy’s girl that goes to the Saltonstall, or perhaps the new charter school or the Academy charter school.

His girl isn’t one of these special-needs snowflakes;  she’s a normal active girl.  Except that she’s an athlete and a ball player and there was that unseen posthole in the outfield one day when she was running out a grounder.

She’ll be hopping around for some time.

Now, Dad is deciding on schools, perhaps his family’s moved to Salem or his girl is making a change.  Remember choice?  That’s what the charter schools were supposed to be about.  Choice, choice, choice!

You will tell Dad the vet, wounded for our sins (“freedom isn’t free”, mind?), that he and his daughter cannot participate as parent and child in their own school system?

Good luck with that.

While many people use patriotism to worship respect our soldiers, few of them realize something I’ve thought of.

If you count all the veterans still living from all wars, and those that are wounded and disabled, I suspect they don’t make up a large number.

In Salem, I have heard estimates that 20% of Salemmites have a disability.  Not all of them are of school age, of course.

I am certain that the 20% is not all made up of veterans.

Yet if I suggested that  veterans should not get help because their numbers are so few, I’m certain I would be assaulted in an alleyway.  (Freedom isn’t free…)

I have no animosity towards veterans—I’m too young to have ever spat upon a Vietnam veteran, and have never said a word of disrespect to them (perhaps, I have done this to the politicians who task them, but…)   Salem’s veteran groups are natural allies of the Commission on Disabilities and always will be.

I have to wonder why the diocese of Boston is not aggressive with its surplus properties.  Despite what Rand Paul would have you believe, in Massachusetts, any given building does not have to be made ADA accessible to current codes merely as if the authorities waved a pixie wand and made it so.

The requirement to make a building ADA compliant per current code very much depends on the use of the building, the age of the building and the intended use of the building.  There were several revisions to Massachusetts building codes for handicapped access and by the current law, a building constructed say, in 1978, only has to meet accessibility requirements for 1978.  I have several large (and large-print) binders with all the laws to date.

If a building is used for general business purposes, it may or may not need to be brought up to ADA access.  Often in Salem, buildings have been repurposed and have never been made accessible because there were very few if any renovations performed.

A benchmark the Commission often discusses is the “one-third rule” or “30% rule” or “hitting 30%”.  That refers  to the current value of the building.  If any proposed renovations exceed 30% of this value, the building must be brought fully up to ADA and Massachusetts code.

Even then, developers and architects have considerable wiggle room.  The law does not say absolute accommodations, merely reasonable accommodations.  The Mass. Architectural Access Board (MAAB) will grant variances if the regulations are burdensome or do not benefit.

A few years ago, the state renovated a home in North Salem to use as a group home.  By the letter of the law it would have needed an expensive elevator.  The developer convinced the MAAB that the only space that the public would access was the ground floor.  The ground floor of the building was brought up to code with HP parking and no steps, but there didn’t need to be an elevator.  

I’ve been in St. John’s School before, and is not so much a charming old fashioned parochial school as it is a dump, no disrespect to Catholics meant.  There are stairs everywhere.  It could be impossible to get variances for this or any of the other school buildings involved.

Don’t forget, too, that the staff and teachers have to use the space as well.  People get old and infirm, or have a negative encounter with an icy front step.  If you think there’s controversy over accommodating students, just wait until it’s a teacher with a grievance!

I have to wonder if the diocese fears that the values of their properties have fallen so much that any renovations at all to them would require them to be fully up to code.  After all, it isn’t only handicapped access at stake but also electrical, plumbing, fire safety and communications cabling that need to be upgraded as well.

Whatever the case, this is something you can’t blame on the special-needs snowflakes, “those people” or the ADA activists.  Salem schools are indeed in a pickle.  But they would be anyway even if you deported all the disabled to Lynn.

June 8th, 2011

Salem Schools Looking For a Home—and Accessibility

Salem Community Charter School

As reported by the Salem News, the new charter school, Salem Community Charter School is looking for space.  Museum Place is one possibility they’re looking at;  the former Saint Joseph’s Rectory is another.

As well, the Saltonstall School is being renovated and Salem is scrambling to find space for their students, and for a special-needs program at the Collins.

The rectory will need a year’s worth of work before it is useable as a school.  The Boston diocese did not offer their other properties such as St. John’s School and one official has speculated it is due to ADA issues.

A regular member of the commentariat at the Salem News weighed in on both stories with a refrain I am too familiar with as a member of the disability community in Salem.  To paraphrase:  “Why do we have to serve a small minority of students.  Forget that touchy-feely stuff of [disabled kids].  It’s an emergency—use the parochial schools!”

(It’s an emergency;  does that mean emergency no-bid contracting?  The member of the commentariat is a Tea Partier and I presume for less government and taxation and against the charming “emergency” measures that have often concealed thefts of the public purse.  I’m getting off the point here.)

Here’s a scenario the hardest-bitten conservative can relate to:

John Jones is a decorated veteran.  A wounded veteran who came home from Afghanistan or perhaps Iraq.  There’s no way he’s gonna get up and down stairs unless he rolls.  Downhill, possibly not under his own control.

He has kids.  He has a daughter, a true daddy’s girl that goes to the Saltonstall, or perhaps the new charter school or the Academy charter school.

His girl isn’t one of these special-needs snowflakes;  she’s a normal active girl.  Except that she’s an athlete and a ball player and there was that unseen posthole in the outfield one day when she was running out a grounder.

She’ll be hopping around for some time.

Now, Dad is deciding on schools, perhaps his family’s moved to Salem or his girl is making a change.  Remember choice?  That’s what the charter schools were supposed to be about.  Choice, choice, choice!

You will tell Dad the vet, wounded for our sins (“freedom isn’t free”, mind?), that he and his daughter cannot participate as parent and child in their own school system?

Good luck with that.

While many people use patriotism to worship respect our soldiers, few of them realize something I’ve thought of.

If you count all the veterans still living from all wars, and those that are wounded and disabled, I suspect they don’t make up a large number.

In Salem, I have heard estimates that 20% of Salemmites have a disability.  Not all of them are of school age, of course.

I am certain that the 20% is not all made up of veterans.

Yet if I suggested that  veterans should not get help because their numbers are so few, I’m certain I would be assaulted in an alleyway.  (Freedom isn’t free…)

I have no animosity towards veterans—I’m too young to have ever spat upon a Vietnam veteran, and have never said a word of disrespect to them (perhaps, I have done this to the politicians who task them, but…)   Salem’s veteran groups are natural allies of the Commission on Disabilities and always will be.

I have to wonder why the diocese of Boston is not aggressive with its surplus properties.  Despite what Rand Paul would have you believe, in Massachusetts, any given building does not have to be made ADA accessible to current codes merely as if the authorities waved a pixie wand and made it so.

The requirement to make a building ADA compliant per current code very much depends on the use of the building, the age of the building and the intended use of the building.  There were several revisions to Massachusetts building codes for handicapped access and by the current law, a building constructed say, in 1978, only has to meet accessibility requirements for 1978.  I have several large (and large-print) binders with all the laws to date.

If a building is used for general business purposes, it may or may not need to be brought up to ADA access.  Often in Salem, buildings have been repurposed and have never been made accessible because there were very few if any renovations performed.

A benchmark the Commission often discusses is the “one-third rule” or “30% rule” or “hitting 30%”.  That refers  to the current value of the building.  If any proposed renovations exceed 30% of this value, the building must be brought fully up to ADA and Massachusetts code.

Even then, developers and architects have considerable wiggle room.  The law does not say absolute accommodations, merely reasonable accommodations.  The Mass. Architectural Access Board (MAAB) will grant variances if the regulations are burdensome or do not benefit.

A few years ago, the state renovated a home in North Salem to use as a group home.  By the letter of the law it would have needed an expensive elevator.  The developer convinced the MAAB that the only space that the public would access was the ground floor.  The ground floor of the building was brought up to code with HP parking and no steps, but there didn’t need to be an elevator.  

I’ve been in St. John’s School before, and is not so much a charming old fashioned parochial school as it is a dump, no disrespect to Catholics meant.  There are stairs everywhere.  It could be impossible to get variances for this or any of the other school buildings involved.

Don’t forget, too, that the staff and teachers have to use the space as well.  People get old and infirm, or have a negative encounter with an icy front step.  If you think there’s controversy over accommodating students, just wait until it’s a teacher with a grievance!

I have to wonder if the diocese fears that the values of their properties have fallen so much that any renovations at all to them would require them to be fully up to code.  After all, it isn’t only handicapped access at stake but also electrical, plumbing, fire safety and communications cabling that need to be upgraded as well.

Whatever the case, this is something you can’t blame on the special-needs snowflakes, “those people” or the ADA activists.  Salem schools are indeed in a pickle.  But they would be anyway even if you deported all the disabled to Lynn.

May 26th, 2011

Back after an absence


Essex Street Mall 2011-05-26 007, originally uploaded by dmoisan.

Via Flickr:
Nature finally turned a switch to “Summer” today, as these folks are realizing.

And I’ve turned a switch, too.

I haven’t posted in almost six months.  I’m dispirited.

Last winter, my building had the bedbug hysteria that has affected many households in recent years.  Dealing with bedbugs has combined the worst aspects of moving and losing your house to fire or flood.  The Salem News covered the story in my building and it brought out the worst aspect of pest infestations—the moral opprobrium that comes when your betters can look down on you for being “dirty” and “unclean”, even though bedbugs, roaches and mice are blissfully unaware of class distinctions.  

In a building with a shared laundry space, like I have, I’ll never know how I got bedbugs and I just don’t care who or what “gave” them to me.  I just know that pest infestations don’t make me or my neighbors “immoral” or “unclean” or “lazy”, but that was on the minds of many of the Salem News commentariat.

There’s more, too.  Last spring I had quite a screaming match with my ward councilor Mike Sosnowski over a parking proposal at the Jail.

What I learned from that affair is that it doesn’t matter what neighborhood I live in, or what stake I have in anything, if someone more important than me thinks different.  At that meeting, a person from the Northfields neighborhood association asserted that me and my neighbors did not want commercial use at the Jail no matter what.

It doesn’t matter that that Northfields guy probably doesn’t even have a view of the Jail from his house.  And he never cared before about the apartment complex I live in.

As far as I can see, Mike Sosnowski has more or less aided and abetted groups like Northfields.  If you live in cheap rental housing, you will not get representation in Salem.

You will not get it.

Better that you show Mike your mortgage statement—or proof of McIntyre architecture—before coming to him with a problem.

I was at a meeting this past Saturday of the Alliance of Salem Neighborhood Associations.  It was held at the function room of Beverly Cooperative Bank, which is where the Downtown group meets.

I had my own problems with that group, and didn’t want to attend this meeting, except that I made a verbal commitment on recorded video and had to go. 

(I know the camera is on during our Commission meetings.  If I make a gaffe or a curse, then I do.  I don’t try to walk back what I said.  I said it and it’s on tape and that is that.)

Several people in the Alliance complained about being “outsiders”.  I wanted to say to them:  “Where’s Lucy [Corchado, head of  the Point association]?  Where are they?  The Point is a neighborhood, isn’t it?”

Those people have their own advisory board at the highest level of city government.  They have Jason Silva’s [Mayor Driscoll’s chief-of-staff] private number on speed-dial.  I have no doubt that someone like Michael Coleman can have Mike Sosnowski swing into action at 3 AM on a Sunday if he so commands it.  If Teasie Goggin wanted to repeat Mike Bencal’s Al Haig moment (“I’m in control here”, after the attempted assassination of President Reagan in 1981) when he tried to take charge of City Hall when the mayor was away a few years ago, she has more than enough social capital to do so!

They have that advisory commission in addition to the Alliance!  Tell me they are outsiders again?

As it happened, the meeting was a waste of time for me and and my colleagues on the Commission on Disabilities, since it was supposed to pertain to the MBTA parking garage, but was instead an unfocused rambling about pedestrian access and getting traffic usage stats, only to find out the state had already done that but nobody from the Alliance even read the report.  The Commission probably could have used that, but the person presenting that report didn’t bother to tell us where we could find the data from the state website.

(I’d filmed video of the meeting.  It would have been nice of them to tell us when the MBTA part of the meeting would get under way so I wouldn’t have to guess how long the batteries in my camera would last.  Not long enough as it turned out.)

If I can’t be involved in the workings of my own city, the one that I have spent 47 years in, I think, why am I bothering to blog?

I’ve asked myself that question over and over during the past six months.

The only thing keeping me going is the Commission—whose purpose I believe in with all my heart and soul—and Salem Access Television, where I have been applying my IT talents for 11 years.

I’m very proud, in fact, that SATV now has much of its local programming available over the Net.  Public meetings—including the Commission’s—are now available through our Government page.

I worked very hard with Sal Russo and the staff over the past year to make this possible and I am inordinately prideful.  I’ve been delighted to flip the figurative “bird” to a few former board members who thought this was a “fad” or “something for Dave and Sal to spend money on”.  (In fact, video-on-demand has been a roaring success at SATV.)

There are many other thoughts, ideas and initiatives at SATV and the Commission to make fodder for many more years of blog posts, which is why I’m continuing to blog.

But I will never, ever, let myself believe that I have a stake and a say with what happens in Salem.

I don’t.  And I won’t.

May 26th, 2011

Back after an absence


Essex Street Mall 2011-05-26 007, originally uploaded by dmoisan.

Via Flickr:
Nature finally turned a switch to “Summer” today, as these folks are realizing.

And I’ve turned a switch, too.

I haven’t posted in almost six months.  I’m dispirited.

Last winter, my building had the bedbug hysteria that has affected many households in recent years.  Dealing with bedbugs has combined the worst aspects of moving and losing your house to fire or flood.  The Salem News covered the story in my building and it brought out the worst aspect of pest infestations—the moral opprobrium that comes when your betters can look down on you for being “dirty” and “unclean”, even though bedbugs, roaches and mice are blissfully unaware of class distinctions.  

In a building with a shared laundry space, like I have, I’ll never know how I got bedbugs and I just don’t care who or what “gave” them to me.  I just know that pest infestations don’t make me or my neighbors “immoral” or “unclean” or “lazy”, but that was on the minds of many of the Salem News commentariat.

There’s more, too.  Last spring I had quite a screaming match with my ward councilor Mike Sosnowski over a parking proposal at the Jail.

What I learned from that affair is that it doesn’t matter what neighborhood I live in, or what stake I have in anything, if someone more important than me thinks different.  At that meeting, a person from the Northfields neighborhood association asserted that me and my neighbors did not want commercial use at the Jail no matter what.

It doesn’t matter that that Northfields guy probably doesn’t even have a view of the Jail from his house.  And he never cared before about the apartment complex I live in.

As far as I can see, Mike Sosnowski has more or less aided and abetted groups like Northfields.  If you live in cheap rental housing, you will not get representation in Salem.

You will not get it.

Better that you show Mike your mortgage statement—or proof of McIntyre architecture—before coming to him with a problem.

I was at a meeting this past Saturday of the Alliance of Salem Neighborhood Associations.  It was held at the function room of Beverly Cooperative Bank, which is where the Downtown group meets.

I had my own problems with that group, and didn’t want to attend this meeting, except that I made a verbal commitment on recorded video and had to go. 

(I know the camera is on during our Commission meetings.  If I make a gaffe or a curse, then I do.  I don’t try to walk back what I said.  I said it and it’s on tape and that is that.)

Several people in the Alliance complained about being “outsiders”.  I wanted to say to them:  “Where’s Lucy [Corchado, head of  the Point association]?  Where are they?  The Point is a neighborhood, isn’t it?”

Those people have their own advisory board at the highest level of city government.  They have Jason Silva’s [Mayor Driscoll’s chief-of-staff] private number on speed-dial.  I have no doubt that someone like Michael Coleman can have Mike Sosnowski swing into action at 3 AM on a Sunday if he so commands it.  If Teasie Goggin wanted to repeat Mike Bencal’s Al Haig moment (“I’m in control here”, after the attempted assassination of President Reagan in 1981) when he tried to take charge of City Hall when the mayor was away a few years ago, she has more than enough social capital to do so!

They have that advisory commission in addition to the Alliance!  Tell me they are outsiders again?

As it happened, the meeting was a waste of time for me and and my colleagues on the Commission on Disabilities, since it was supposed to pertain to the MBTA parking garage, but was instead an unfocused rambling about pedestrian access and getting traffic usage stats, only to find out the state had already done that but nobody from the Alliance even read the report.  The Commission probably could have used that, but the person presenting that report didn’t bother to tell us where we could find the data from the state website.

(I’d filmed video of the meeting.  It would have been nice of them to tell us when the MBTA part of the meeting would get under way so I wouldn’t have to guess how long the batteries in my camera would last.  Not long enough as it turned out.)

If I can’t be involved in the workings of my own city, the one that I have spent 47 years in, I think, why am I bothering to blog?

I’ve asked myself that question over and over during the past six months.

The only thing keeping me going is the Commission—whose purpose I believe in with all my heart and soul—and Salem Access Television, where I have been applying my IT talents for 11 years.

I’m very proud, in fact, that SATV now has much of its local programming available over the Net.  Public meetings—including the Commission’s—are now available through our Government page.

I worked very hard with Sal Russo and the staff over the past year to make this possible and I am inordinately prideful.  I’ve been delighted to flip the figurative “bird” to a few former board members who thought this was a “fad” or “something for Dave and Sal to spend money on”.  (In fact, video-on-demand has been a roaring success at SATV.)

There are many other thoughts, ideas and initiatives at SATV and the Commission to make fodder for many more years of blog posts, which is why I’m continuing to blog.

But I will never, ever, let myself believe that I have a stake and a say with what happens in Salem.

I don’t.  And I won’t.

May 26th, 2011

Back after an absence


Essex Street Mall 2011-05-26 007, originally uploaded by dmoisan.

Via Flickr:
Nature finally turned a switch to “Summer” today, as these folks are realizing.

And I’ve turned a switch, too.

I haven’t posted in almost six months.  I’m dispirited.

Last winter, my building had the bedbug hysteria that has affected many households in recent years.  Dealing with bedbugs has combined the worst aspects of moving and losing your house to fire or flood.  The Salem News covered the story in my building and it brought out the worst aspect of pest infestations—the moral opprobrium that comes when your betters can look down on you for being “dirty” and “unclean”, even though bedbugs, roaches and mice are blissfully unaware of class distinctions.  

In a building with a shared laundry space, like I have, I’ll never know how I got bedbugs and I just don’t care who or what “gave” them to me.  I just know that pest infestations don’t make me or my neighbors “immoral” or “unclean” or “lazy”, but that was on the minds of many of the Salem News commentariat.

There’s more, too.  Last spring I had quite a screaming match with my ward councilor Mike Sosnowski over a parking proposal at the Jail.

What I learned from that affair is that it doesn’t matter what neighborhood I live in, or what stake I have in anything, if someone more important than me thinks different.  At that meeting, a person from the Northfields neighborhood association asserted that me and my neighbors did not want commercial use at the Jail no matter what.

It doesn’t matter that that Northfields guy probably doesn’t even have a view of the Jail from his house.  And he never cared before about the apartment complex I live in.

As far as I can see, Mike Sosnowski has more or less aided and abetted groups like Northfields.  If you live in cheap rental housing, you will not get representation in Salem.

You will not get it.

Better that you show Mike your mortgage statement—or proof of McIntyre architecture—before coming to him with a problem.

I was at a meeting this past Saturday of the Alliance of Salem Neighborhood Associations.  It was held at the function room of Beverly Cooperative Bank, which is where the Downtown group meets.

I had my own problems with that group, and didn’t want to attend this meeting, except that I made a verbal commitment on recorded video and had to go. 

(I know the camera is on during our Commission meetings.  If I make a gaffe or a curse, then I do.  I don’t try to walk back what I said.  I said it and it’s on tape and that is that.)

Several people in the Alliance complained about being “outsiders”.  I wanted to say to them:  “Where’s Lucy [Corchado, head of  the Point association]?  Where are they?  The Point is a neighborhood, isn’t it?”

Those people have their own advisory board at the highest level of city government.  They have Jason Silva’s [Mayor Driscoll’s chief-of-staff] private number on speed-dial.  I have no doubt that someone like Michael Coleman can have Mike Sosnowski swing into action at 3 AM on a Sunday if he so commands it.  If Teasie Goggin wanted to repeat Mike Bencal’s Al Haig moment (“I’m in control here”, after the attempted assassination of President Reagan in 1981) when he tried to take charge of City Hall when the mayor was away a few years ago, she has more than enough social capital to do so!

They have that advisory commission in addition to the Alliance!  Tell me they are outsiders again?

As it happened, the meeting was a waste of time for me and and my colleagues on the Commission on Disabilities, since it was supposed to pertain to the MBTA parking garage, but was instead an unfocused rambling about pedestrian access and getting traffic usage stats, only to find out the state had already done that but nobody from the Alliance even read the report.  The Commission probably could have used that, but the person presenting that report didn’t bother to tell us where we could find the data from the state website.

(I’d filmed video of the meeting.  It would have been nice of them to tell us when the MBTA part of the meeting would get under way so I wouldn’t have to guess how long the batteries in my camera would last.  Not long enough as it turned out.)

If I can’t be involved in the workings of my own city, the one that I have spent 47 years in, I think, why am I bothering to blog?

I’ve asked myself that question over and over during the past six months.

The only thing keeping me going is the Commission—whose purpose I believe in with all my heart and soul—and Salem Access Television, where I have been applying my IT talents for 11 years.

I’m very proud, in fact, that SATV now has much of its local programming available over the Net.  Public meetings—including the Commission’s—are now available through our Government page.

I worked very hard with Sal Russo and the staff over the past year to make this possible and I am inordinately prideful.  I’ve been delighted to flip the figurative “bird” to a few former board members who thought this was a “fad” or “something for Dave and Sal to spend money on”.  (In fact, video-on-demand has been a roaring success at SATV.)

There are many other thoughts, ideas and initiatives at SATV and the Commission to make fodder for many more years of blog posts, which is why I’m continuing to blog.

But I will never, ever, let myself believe that I have a stake and a say with what happens in Salem.

I don’t.  And I won’t.

November 13th, 2010

Salem City Hall Elevator Dedication

Senator Berry with Mayor Driscoll

Salem City Hall finally has an elevator!  We saw the elevator under construction when the Commission attended Mayor Driscoll’s proclamation of the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act this past summer.

Here is the ceremony:

And here is a walkthrough of the new elevator. Notice that there are two elevator doors, as you sometimes see in hospitals; one door covers the ground floor from the sidewalk while the other is at the level of the existing ground floor at City Hall.

This is “The Whirlybird”, the old chairlift on the front staircase into the Council Chambers:

The Whirlybird at Salem City Hall

Beth Rennard, our city solicitor, used this lift every day.

She won’t miss it.

November 13th, 2010

Salem City Hall Elevator Dedication

Senator Berry with Mayor Driscoll

Salem City Hall finally has an elevator!  We saw the elevator under construction when the Commission attended Mayor Driscoll’s proclamation of the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act this past summer.

Here is the ceremony:

And here is a walkthrough of the new elevator. Notice that there are two elevator doors, as you sometimes see in hospitals; one door covers the ground floor from the sidewalk while the other is at the level of the existing ground floor at City Hall.

This is “The Whirlybird”, the old chairlift on the front staircase into the Council Chambers:

The Whirlybird at Salem City Hall

Beth Rennard, our city solicitor, used this lift every day.

She won’t miss it.

November 13th, 2010

Salem City Hall Elevator Dedication

Senator Berry with Mayor Driscoll

Salem City Hall finally has an elevator!  We saw the elevator under construction when the Commission attended Mayor Driscoll’s proclamation of the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act this past summer.

Here is the ceremony:

And here is a walkthrough of the new elevator. Notice that there are two elevator doors, as you sometimes see in hospitals; one door covers the ground floor from the sidewalk while the other is at the level of the existing ground floor at City Hall.

This is “The Whirlybird”, the old chairlift on the front staircase into the Council Chambers:

The Whirlybird at Salem City Hall

Beth Rennard, our city solicitor, used this lift every day.

She won’t miss it.

August 2nd, 2010

Changes at the Commission

Mayor Driscoll with the Commission on Disabilities, with our former chairpersons, Jack Harris,  and Andy LaPointe, and new chairperson David Tracht (back turned to camera), in front of the new elevator at City Hall.  Also here were David Martel (behind Mayor Driscoll), Jean Harrison and Charlie Reardon (in red.)

Mayor Driscoll with the Commission on Disabilities, with our former chairpersons, Jack Harris,  and Andy LaPointe, and new chairperson David Tracht (back turned to camera), in front of the new elevator at City Hall.  Also here were David Martel (behind Mayor Driscoll), Jean Harrison and Charlie Reardon (in red.)

The Commission on Disabilities is going through our summer break, and meeting again in September with a different organization.

Jack Harris, after being on the Commission for over 20 years, is hanging it up at the end of the year when his term expires.  He announced his decision in June and called for an election of two co-chairs at our July meeting.

Here are his comments, from the meeting video:

I’ve known Jack for a very long time.  His two little girls have virtually adopted me!  Like many people who have served long terms in a job, it is inconceivable to think of his leaving.

But 20 years is a long time and I don’t begrudge him.

Jack represents 20 years of very hard work to make the Commission as successful as it has been.   This is a position more for duty and love, than it is for prestige.

I’ve often wondered how I would fare as chair.  It’s something I have to think about as I start my second term on the board.

I didn’t nominate myself in the vote as I didn’t feel I had enough seniority or experience, but as time  goes on, if I continue in the job, I have to prepare for that possibility, and prepare to step up in his position someday.

This is what I said to Jack when he announced his decision:

Our new co-chairs are David Tracht and Debra Lobsitz.  I and my colleagues will do our best to support them both.

August 2nd, 2010

Changes at the Commission

Mayor Driscoll with the Commission on Disabilities, with our former chairpersons, Jack Harris,  and Andy LaPointe, and new chairperson David Tracht (back turned to camera), in front of the new elevator at City Hall.  Also here were David Martel (behind Mayor Driscoll), Jean Harrison and Charlie Reardon (in red.)

Mayor Driscoll with the Commission on Disabilities, with our former chairpersons, Jack Harris,  and Andy LaPointe, and new chairperson David Tracht (back turned to camera), in front of the new elevator at City Hall.  Also here were David Martel (behind Mayor Driscoll), Jean Harrison and Charlie Reardon (in red.)

The Commission on Disabilities is going through our summer break, and meeting again in September with a different organization.

Jack Harris, after being on the Commission for over 20 years, is hanging it up at the end of the year when his term expires.  He announced his decision in June and called for an election of two co-chairs at our July meeting.

Here are his comments, from the meeting video:

I’ve known Jack for a very long time.  His two little girls have virtually adopted me!  Like many people who have served long terms in a job, it is inconceivable to think of his leaving.

But 20 years is a long time and I don’t begrudge him.

Jack represents 20 years of very hard work to make the Commission as successful as it has been.   This is a position more for duty and love, than it is for prestige.

I’ve often wondered how I would fare as chair.  It’s something I have to think about as I start my second term on the board.

I didn’t nominate myself in the vote as I didn’t feel I had enough seniority or experience, but as time  goes on, if I continue in the job, I have to prepare for that possibility, and prepare to step up in his position someday.

This is what I said to Jack when he announced his decision:

Our new co-chairs are David Tracht and Debra Lobsitz.  I and my colleagues will do our best to support them both.

August 2nd, 2010

Changes at the Commission

Mayor Driscoll with the Commission on Disabilities, with our former chairpersons, Jack Harris,  and Andy LaPointe, and new chairperson David Tracht (back turned to camera), in front of the new elevator at City Hall.  Also here were David Martel (behind Mayor Driscoll), Jean Harrison and Charlie Reardon (in red.)

Mayor Driscoll with the Commission on Disabilities, with our former chairpersons, Jack Harris,  and Andy LaPointe, and new chairperson David Tracht (back turned to camera), in front of the new elevator at City Hall.  Also here were David Martel (behind Mayor Driscoll), Jean Harrison and Charlie Reardon (in red.)

The Commission on Disabilities is going through our summer break, and meeting again in September with a different organization.

Jack Harris, after being on the Commission for over 20 years, is hanging it up at the end of the year when his term expires.  He announced his decision in June and called for an election of two co-chairs at our July meeting.

Here are his comments, from the meeting video:

I’ve known Jack for a very long time.  His two little girls have virtually adopted me!  Like many people who have served long terms in a job, it is inconceivable to think of his leaving.

But 20 years is a long time and I don’t begrudge him.

Jack represents 20 years of very hard work to make the Commission as successful as it has been.   This is a position more for duty and love, than it is for prestige.

I’ve often wondered how I would fare as chair.  It’s something I have to think about as I start my second term on the board.

I didn’t nominate myself in the vote as I didn’t feel I had enough seniority or experience, but as time  goes on, if I continue in the job, I have to prepare for that possibility, and prepare to step up in his position someday.

This is what I said to Jack when he announced his decision:

Our new co-chairs are David Tracht and Debra Lobsitz.  I and my colleagues will do our best to support them both.

August 2nd, 2010

Changes at the Commission

Mayor Driscoll with the Commission on Disabilities, with our former chairpersons, Jack Harris,  and Andy LaPointe, and new chairperson David Tracht (back turned to camera), in front of the new elevator at City Hall.  Also here were David Martel (behind Mayor Driscoll), Jean Harrison and Charlie Reardon (in red.)

Mayor Driscoll with the Commission on Disabilities, with our former chairpersons, Jack Harris,  and Andy LaPointe, and new chairperson David Tracht (back turned to camera), in front of the new elevator at City Hall.  Also here were David Martel (behind Mayor Driscoll), Jean Harrison and Charlie Reardon (in red.)

The Commission on Disabilities is going through our summer break, and meeting again in September with a different organization.

Jack Harris, after being on the Commission for over 20 years, is hanging it up at the end of the year when his term expires.  He announced his decision in June and called for an election of two co-chairs at our July meeting.

Here are his comments, from the meeting video:

I’ve known Jack for a very long time.  His two little girls have virtually adopted me!  Like many people who have served long terms in a job, it is inconceivable to think of his leaving.

But 20 years is a long time and I don’t begrudge him.

Jack represents 20 years of very hard work to make the Commission as successful as it has been.   This is a position more for duty and love, than it is for prestige.

I’ve often wondered how I would fare as chair.  It’s something I have to think about as I start my second term on the board.

I didn’t nominate myself in the vote as I didn’t feel I had enough seniority or experience, but as time  goes on, if I continue in the job, I have to prepare for that possibility, and prepare to step up in his position someday.

This is what I said to Jack when he announced his decision:

Our new co-chairs are David Tracht and Debra Lobsitz.  I and my colleagues will do our best to support them both.

August 2nd, 2010

Mayor’s Proclamation of ADA Day

Mayor's Proclamation on ADA Day 

PROCLAMATION

WHEREAS:  July 26th, 2010 marks the twentieth anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); and

WHEREAS: The ADA set regulations that have made it easier for people with disabilities to work, shop, go to school and enjoy recreational activities with their neighbors; and

WHEREAS:  Community leaders, businesses and government officials should celebrate the contributions that people with disabilities have made and continue to make to our community; and

WHEREAS:  We should acknowledge the rights of all persons with disabilities under the ADA and their daily activities, struggles and triumphs; and

WHEREAS:  The City of Salem is commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

NOW, THEREFORE, pursuant to the authority vested in me as Mayor of Salem, I, Kimberly Driscoll, do hereby proclaim Monday, July 26th, 2010 to be:

SPIRIT OF THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA) DAY

In the City of Salem, and urge all of the citizens of Salem to commemorate this anniversary by renewing our commitment to uphold the nondiscrimination principles of the ADA and to support them in their efforts to become as independent as possible.

Signed,

Mayor Kimberly Driscoll

July 26th, 2010

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