Icy relations in the ‘Ric
The Column Blog has dedicated its fair share of time and space to poke, prod and probe the frosty relationship between Lowell City Manager Bernie Lynch and the city’s legislative representatives on Beacon Hill.
There was the landmark Mill City Peace Pipe Summit of last November, in which Lowell’s three state representatives Thomas Golden, Kevin Murphy and David Nangle met with Lynch together in an effort to repair a communication breakdown that has more cracks, gaps and holes than the Textile Bridge.
OK – so the informal meeting wasn’t technically billed as the “Mill City Peace Pipe Summit” – but there’s plenty of hot smoke blowing out of both teepees, as the relationship between Lynch and the three reps hasn’t improved.
Turns out, Lynch isn’t the only local municipal manager with State House communication problems.
In Billerica, Town Manager John Curran says he doesn’t hear much from state Rep. Marc Lombardo, the town’s Republican representative.
When Lombardo tacked three spending earmarks onto the House version of the transportation bond bill, it was news to Curran.
He didn’t know about the $14 million Lombardo asked for that would go toward redesigning traffic in the town center, or the $19 million the representative applied for that would go toward rehabbing Billerica’s chunk of the Middlesex Turnpike.
Curran says the town is already in the midst of working on both projects. The town center redesign proposal will likely appear at Town Meeting this fall.
The Middlesex Turnpike project represents one of Curran’s most recent victories, as he convinced the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (Greater Boston’s version of the Northern Middlesex Council of Governments) to move the project to the top of the list of priorities under MassHighway’s Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP).
Lombardo couldn’t get those two projects onto the transportation bill, but he did secure $150,000 in bonding that will go towards the Yankee Doodle Bikeway if the bill is approved in conference committee with the Senate.
But Curran says Lombardo’s bid for the Middlesex Turnpike could negatively affect the town’s TIP application.
“I told Ken Donnelly (the town’s voice in the Senate) not to put that on there, that it could hurt us,” said Curran.
Lombardo says he never got that memo, and Curran says he never heard from Lombardo regarding the earmarks.
“I was never called about it and I find that very odd,” said Curran. “This seems like an ongoing problem — we find out about things after the fact like the bridge.”
Which bridge? The bridge on Gray Road Lombardo wanted to name after his predecessor, retired state Rep. Bill Greene. He never spoke to selectmen, nor Curran, before filing an amendment to the fiscal 2013 House budget.
Donnelly, on the other hand, approached town officials directly about naming the bridge after Helen Knight, a neighborhood resident lauded for her environmental activism.
The bridge has been named after Knight.
If there is any malice between Curran and Lombardo, the representative is not aware of it.
“I didn’t know there was any friction between myself and the town manager, I check in with him regularly,” said Lombardo.
When Curran was asked if there were political machinations behind Lombardo’s streak of circumnavigating Town Hall, he declined to take the bait.
“I don’t want to comment on that,” he said. “But it’s been a pattern, it might score political points but it doesn’t help us.”
Thanks to Billerica Reporter Evan Lips for the first Column Blog post of the week.Explore posts in the same categories: The Column