Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Fitchburg Longsjo Classic

Fitchburg has a lot of problems. Nobody really disputes that. However, it also has one thing that very few communities have, and that's one hell of an impressive bike race.

The Fitchburg Longsjo Classic in its current incarnation is a four-day stage race attracting roughly 800 entrants. It's currently in its 48th year, and still going strong. It was started as a memorial to Fitchburg native Art Longsjo, who was a spectacularly talented athlete and the first American ever to compete in the summer and winter Olympics in the same year. (See here for more history on Art Longsjo). The Longsjo Classic is also the second-oldest race in the country and one of the few races to be designated a "classic", and it may be the one thing about Fitchburg that can actually be called "world-renowned".

If you look at the American winners of the Tour de France (easily the most prestigious bike race in the world) you see three American winners: Greg LeMond, Lance Armstrong, and Floyd Landis. All three have raced in Fitchburg. LeMond raced here as a Junior (under 18), Armstrong actually won the race spectacularly in 1992 (pre-cancer), and Landis was here a couple of years that I'm too lazy to look up.

Actually, if you look at pretty much any international-caliber American cyclist you'll find that at some point they probably raced in Fitchburg. It extends beyond Americans, as well. Fitchburg has been host to Olympians and world champions from across the globe. We've hosted teams from New Zealand, Australia, Norway, the Bahamas, Canada, Switzerland, and numerous other countries. In any given year, there are probably 15-20 different countries represented (though not all by formal teams).

In short, it's a hell of a race, and something that people in Fitchburg should be proud of. It's also going on right now and runs through Sunday. Visit for more information if you're interested. This is something that definitely deserves everyone's support.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mayoral candidate websites are fun!

As a public service (and because I'm bored at work), I hereby bring you a critique of the websites of the mayoral candidates. This will be a short preview, because I couldn't find websites for three of the five announced candidates. If anybody knows where they are (if they even exist) please pass them along. In the meantime, enjoy!

  • Mayor Dan Mylott -

    Well, it's almost a website. It has a picture of the mayor and a bunch of signs. It also has old news that he's running for mayor, and a slick babelfish translation button at the bottom so you can try to translate it from French to German (doesn't work), or read the page in what I assume would be badly mangled Japanese.

    Here's his catchy slogan to illustrate:


    Oddly, that's it. There are no active links on the page at all. Nothing about issues. No list of qualifications. Nothing.

    Well, unless you dig into the actual html, where you can find the old links commented out. It appears this website is just recycled from the Mayor's 2001 campaign. As evidence, here's the image beneath Dan's picture on the front page:

    Compare to the image in the same spot on every other page:

    Now, there's nothing wrong with updating an old campaign website for your current campaign, but sheesh Dan, at least put something on the new site!

    For a trip down memory lane, here are the old pages no longer linked to:
    News & Events
    "Where Dan Stands"
    "Dan's Biography"
    More news, apparently
    Old gallery of funny pictures

    Now, I'm sure that Mayor Mylott could at least update his Biography. Plus I'm willing to bet he might still stand for something or other. Maybe all that information is out in the media, but it's beyond me why he's not making his own case. C'mon, Mr. Mayor, give us something new!

  • Lisa Wong -

    Lisa Wong's website when it first came online was embarrassing. A single page of mostly white space with a weird-ass slogan and very little of anything else on it. Mylott's page above was superior in comparison, which is pretty sad.

    Happily, they've switched places. Where once Mylott had a real site that turned into one page, Wong's one page has turned into a real (four page!) website. The new site is in place now and it's much better. It still has its quirks (it would probably be good to rename the main page to something other than "Page 1" for instance), but it's at least got some substance to it now. For instance, there's this awesome picture of her and her brothers preparing for a formal-dress game of "Red Rover":

    Aside from the charming family photos, there's actually a pretty in-depth Issues page. I won't bother quoting it here, but overall it's a pretty decent list of what Wong hopes to do as mayor. As such, it may be more of a "plans" page than an "issues" page, but at least it's not an annoying "What Lisa Stands For" page.

    I'm also going to go out on a limb and bet that Lisa actually made this website herself. Why? Because the title of the "meet Lisa" page is actually "ABOUT ME". Aha!

    This isn't a bad thing, though. There are zero cases of "it's" being used when "its" should have been, nor are there problems with "insured" versus "ensured". This automatically makes Wong a better writer than 95% of the people on the internet. Which is obviously a qualification you want in a mayor.

  • Ted DeSalvatore - not really...:

    I don't know if Ted DeSalvatore has a real website hidden away somewhere. After all he's a computer guy right? Or if my suspicions are correct and this is his LinkedIn profile, a "Computer Service & Support Training Specialist". Either way, a dude who should have a website.

    But no, once again I've linked to the hilariously incomplete Team to Elect DeSalvatore's contact form. Incidentally, if you're an obnoxious blogger who perpetually makes fun of Ted they probably won't want to hear from you, even if you try to be nice.

    Regardless, it's not really Ted's site so it doesn't count in the grand total.

    UPDATE 7/18/07: He's got one now! Review is here

  • Ronald Dionne - ?:
    No website I could find, but I don't think anyone gives him much chance anyway. He could better his chances with a bit of self promotion on the web, perhaps. But then people might have to give him more of a chance.

  • Tom Donnelly - ?:
    I couldn't find a website for him either. Probably he's just too big a pussy to make one.

    UPDATE 8/3/07: Not so! Review is here

There you have it, your handy "Progressive Fitchburg Guide to Mayoral Campaign Websites, Featuring the Unicow". Now back to work.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


A friend has alerted me to a particularly confusing quote in this Fitchburg Pride article.

It's a pretty boring article about the opening of a supermarket. Not the sort of thing I'd normally even read. But get this:
"There are trees around, so it is not just a black wasteland," said Mayor Dan Mylott standing outside of the store. "The back is as nice as the front because the parking garage is back there, it is a beautiful place to be."
A black wasteland? What the fuck?

I had several thoughts when reading this particular quote. First I pictured a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a la Mad Max. Dan Mylott was a mohawked road warrior who found a tree in the middle of the vast desert and for one brief moment brought his deathmobile to a stop just so he could get out and gaze at it in awe.

However, it turns out that despite Fitchburg's woes, it isn't actually a Mad Max-ish post-apocalyptic wasteland...

Next, I thought that perhaps he actually said "a blank wasteland," meaning of course a wasteland without any trees in its parking lot. Which would mean Fitchburg Pride either made a typo (unheard of!) or misheard him.

Alternately, this could mean that perhaps he really wanted to say "a motherfucking wasteland" and replaced "motherfucking" with "blank" in order to appear more mayoral. Sort of a self-bleeping mechanism...

But when you look at the larger quote, it also appears our mayor thinks that a parking garage is "a beautiful place to be."

Now, I've been in a lot of parking garages. Not once have I looked around and thought "Gee, this sure is a beautiful place to be!" Usually I'm just trying to figure out where the fuck I parked so I can leave as quickly as possible.

The only conclusions one can really reach from this quote is that the mayor is either really easily impressed by strip malls and parking lots, lies (unheard of for a politician!), or is drunk all the time.

Yeah, he should do great in the next election...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Tran is obsessed, Donnelly is a pussy

I've been bored shitless with Fitchburg politics lately. There's only so much pointless bickering and vapid proclamations from people running for office that I can take before needing a break.

But one thing seems to get me back in the mood to ramble, and that's Dean Tran's insane focus on sex offenders.

As I've blogged about before, Tran was instrumental in pushing the law that now says level 2 and 3 sex offenders can't live within 1,000 feet of things like schools and playgrounds. I criticized it at the time as being "nearly impossible to enforce", among other problems.

Guess what, seems like they're having trouble enforcing it! Go figure!

Per a recent Sentinel article:
Not one sex offender has paid a citation for living within 1,000 feet of a school, park or daycare center, more than eight months after city councilors unanimously passed the residency restriction ordinance, city officials said this week.


Some councilors suggested this week that the difficulty in moving forward with both of Tran’s proposals shows such legislation is easy to vote for, but too difficult to implement.

The other proposal of Tran's mentioned here is of course his brilliant idea to put the names of level 2 and 3 sex offenders on water bills, because there's nothing people enjoy more than paying their bills while thinking about sex crimes. It's two great tastes that go great together, as they say.

I think Tran has watched too much Fox 25 news or something, because he seems to have sex offenders on his mind far more than anyone really ought to. He did offer this lame defense of his bill:
Tran defended his petitions, saying that those who are against these ordinances offer nothing in their place.

“There’s no stakes higher than losing a child in the city, and I’d rather be proactive then reacting to a situation such as this,” Tran said.

Umm, Mr. Tran... call me crazy but I'm pretty sure this is reactive and not proactive. These are people who already committed a crime. You're just really keen on shouting their names around after the fact. Perhaps you've convinced yourself that putting names on water bills is the way to keep them from re-offending, but since there's a pretty low recidivism rate among sex offenders anyway maybe you could focus on preventing these crimes from happening in the first fucking place. You know, with things like treatment of those who are at risk but haven't committed a crime, or giving kids more safe havens and activities in the community. Just a thought.

Also, about not offering anything in their place... If I propose a bill to have skywriters decorate the sky above Leominster with insulting slogans (fuck those assholes and their fiscal solvency!) and everyone says "no, that's a dumb idea" they're not obligated to present something similar in its place.

Anyway, Tran's lost to the horrors of tabloid news, but at least mayoral candidate Thomas Donnelly has the right idea. Too bad he's only developed a spine recently:
Councilor at-large and mayoral candidate Thomas Donnelly slammed the ordinance as “feel-good legislation.”

Donnelly said even the smallest amount of effort or tax money to support these ordinances should be considered too much.

Donnelly said that he couldn’t have voted against the residency petition last September because, “I tried questioning it last time, and I was crucified.”
Okay, I agree it's feel-good legislation. I agree that tax money going to support these ideas is a bad idea. Like Donnelly, I've felt this way for quite awhile. But unlike Donnelly, I didn't vote in support of the very fucking thing I'm currently criticizing. Because I'm not a giant pussy.

Maybe Donnelly would indeed have been crucified then, but at least he'd have shown some guts and taken a stand on something he believed. He should be crucified now for voting for his own political expediency rather than principle or for the good of the city.

Mr. Donnelly, if you get elected mayor you'll have to stand up to situations where you could get "crucified" if you do something unpopular. For Christ's sake I hope you have the balls to ignore that peril and do the right thing whether or not it's popular.

As always, Crazy Ted DeSalvatore got a few words in too. They're typical of him in that they're directly contradicted by fact.
Ward 4 Councilor and mayoral candidate Ted DeSalvatore said he thinks the laws have a big effect in the long term in persuading sex offenders to move somewhere else.


“Does it stop child abuse? No,” DeSalvatore said. “Does it create a new atmosphere of consequences? I think so.”
What consequences would those be, Ted? Oh yeah, the unenforceable ones... Yeah, I'm sure those are super-effective.

Man am I glad we've got more mayoral candidates than just a giant pussy and a terminally-deluded fucktard. We've also got a mayor who doesn't seem to grasp basic math, a guy I don't know much about who probably won't win, and umm... an economist. Wong looks better all the time.

Incidentally, it's actually worth reading the Sentinel article in full here. It's much better reporting than you generally get from the Sentinel, and even presents the viewpoints of someone who actually knows what she's talking about!