Thursday, April 26, 2007

Holy cow! A mayoral candidate I like!

Good thing I started blogging again yesterday, because today we have a new mayoral candidate! It comes in the form of 27-year-old Lisa Wong.

Just to get this out of the way, I should say that I know Lisa socially and would consider her a friend. Though our conversations don't generally involve politics (they more often involve me making a dumb joke about kayak-related head injuries or something), I can at least say that she's extremely bright, personable, and would probably make a kick-ass mayor. But I'll try to keep my personal experience with her to the side in my posts here.

Anyway, here's some stuff from the Fitchburg Pride:
Lisa Wong, the former director of the Fitchburg Redevelopment Authority, said this morning that she is running for mayor, injecting a new dynamic into the race.

Wong, during an interview this morning, said she feels the city is facing an internal financial crisis and expects that to be her top priority, but also feels the budget strain is overshadowing positive developments in Fitchburg.

"I want to manage the crisis, but help Fitchburg reach its potential," Wong said. "As a trained economist, I will be looking at how to run the city efficiently and effectively."
Eek! I didn't actually know she was a trained economist. Generally I rank economists alongside astrologers and voodoo priestesses (at least when it comes to economic predictions), but it actually is a useful background to have when it comes to managing city finances. And city finances at the moment are not being managed at all well.

It's also nice to have someone running who has actually worked to improve the city. We've already got candidates courting the malcontents who just want a change for the sake of change, so it's good to have someone in the race who has actually worked to bring about positive changes and hasn't merely talked about all the things that are wrong.

Wong also did the thing every damn candidate since the beginning of time has done and said she wants to encourage business investment. Yawn...
But wait!
Wong said she wants to encourage business investment in the city, and also create residential investment in the city.

"I'm a proponent of smart growth, meaning growth that is beneficial to the city," Wong said. "We want to make sure anyone who moves to the city is part of the city."
Holy crap, citizen involvement! Relying on people to better their own community instead of just bitching about it. Very nice.

Wong said as successes build, the goal will be to improve the reputation of downtown.

"The first thing is creating an identity for downtown for what downtown is," Wong said. "It's a vibrant cultural center."
I'd argue that downtown Fitchburg is not currently a "vibrant cultural center". It could be, it should be, but at present it just isn't. However, I do agree that the reputation of downtown needs to be improved. For whatever reason, people in Fitchburg seem to spend a lot of time badmouthing it. While there are obviously problems that need to be fixed, half the stuff they focus on as being negative isn't even true (for instance, crime).

While we actually do have a decent museum, it's cursed by its location. We also lack any good music venues. While the Common Ground coffeehouse apparently hosts bands, my understanding is that they're Christian bands (which aren't really a big draw for anybody but hardcore Christians). A lot more could be done with downtown to get it towards being as vibrant as Wong would like, and hopefully as mayor she could help to make some of those things happen.

Honestly, even if I didn't know Lisa socially I'd almost certainly support her. She's got brains, ability, a proven track record, and a vision for Fitchburg that's actually positive. We'll see how things progress as her platform comes out, but this development makes me much more hopeful about Fitchburg's future.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Tran, DeSalvatore, and Theodicy

I've been a mixture of sick and super-busy lately, so no blogging for me. I remain slightly sick and relatively busy, so here's a quick one.

Ted DeSalvatore writes letter to the Sentinel instead of talking to his fellow council members. In return, Dean Tran calls him "cowardly and immature". DeSalvatore responds that Tran is a pee-pee head.

In the same article:
[City Council President Jody] Joseph said Tuesday the current level of inter-council bickering is "unprecedented" in his six years on the council. The change began when the current set of councilors came into office in 2006.

"I've tried to ask the councilors to be a little more civil to each other. ... I guess they're not going to heed the warning and act professional."


"It's a very difficult group of people to work with at this time. Everybody seems to have their own agenda, and it's just hard to move the city forward," Joseph said.

And people wonder why I think DeSalvatore is an embarrassment...

Also, Pastor George Small's article at Fitchburg Pride shows not only that he sucks at theodicy, but that he is perfectly willing to attempt to capitalize on a tragedy to lure people into a church. Sad... Plus he looks a little like Biff from "Back the Future".

Finally, go read this article in the Guardian showing how the Bush administration is doing what fascists do. I'm just heartened to see that there's someone else out there who finds the use of the word "homeland" as creepy as I do.

That's it for now. More when I have a bit of time.