Friday, August 31, 2007

Now Donnelly's Got an Op-Ed!

Man, Donnelly is all over the place these days!

In keeping with their four-part series, today the Fitchburg Pride has an opinion piece by Tom Donnelly. Find it here.

I'll confess right off, it's much harder to write stuff about Donnelly, Dionne, and Wong than it is to write stuff about DeSalvatore. They're much less crazy, and don't have his propensity for saying mindbogglingly stupid things. Those things are easy to write about, because they're interesting.

Which is one thing I'll give Ted. Everyone else is super boring compared to him. What with their sound ideas and lack of any discernible mental disorders... Dull!

Anyway, Donnelly wrote an Op-Ed. It's boring and sane, but I'll do my best to make fun of it anyway. It's what I do...
Fitchburg has been my home for over 45 years. My wife Joanne and I have raised our family and operated Donnelly Property Management, a successful business providing quality residential housing in various Fitchburg neighborhoods, for over 25 years. I graduated from St. Bernard's High School and received a bachelor's of science in secondary education from Fitchburg State College in 1972.
Honestly, this is one of my biggest concerns about Donnelly. As far as I can tell, the man's never left town. Some may see that as a strength ("He knows Fitchburg!), but I just think it's weird.

High school here, college here, adult life here. Obviously he likes Fitchburg, but what the hell? Does anybody really love their hometown that much that they don't want to ever leave it? Not even for college? To experience new things? Meet new people?

Meh, whatever.

Donnelly does the usual candidate thing. Going over his history and qualifications and whatnot. Then he gets into the issues a little bit.
Public safety and law enforcement go hand-inhand [sic] with maintaining safe neighborhoods for our citizens and our children. Like many urban communities Fitchburg is challenged by criminal elements disrupting the rule of law for their own illegal purposes. As mayor, I will support the capture and prosecution of these individuals to the fullest extent. Where federal jurisdiction exists, I support prosecuting criminals in federal court where longer sentences are available.
"Their own illegal purposes"??? That's a weird thing to say, Tom.

I've disrupted the rule of law before (as has everyone), and it wasn't for "illegal purposes". No, my purposes were entirely legal!

Truthfully, you could stab someone in the eye and still have a legal purpose. Maybe you wanted to see if eyes bleed red or if that gross almost-clear eye goo is all that comes out. That's legal to wonder about. I'm wondering about that right now, and it's perfectly legal for me to do so.

Also, I'm no legal scholar but I'm pretty sure that when there's federal jurisdiction, the Feds just do what they want. They don't really need your permission.

Donnelly continues:
Capturing and punishing criminals is not enough in any urban city, including Fitchburg. We must also act to prevent crimes before they occur. This can be achieved with comprehensive planning, including placing more officers on the street and an effective "neighborhood policing" effort emphasizing prevention as well as arrest and prosecution. Police officers working in neighborhoods can reach out to residents, building trust and gaining valuable information to prevent crimes before they occur.
Fucker. Your almost-nuanced understanding of how to deal with crime is inconvenient to me! And your redundant "urban city" phrase is not funny enough to address beyond this sentence!

Of course, Donnelly is right about the crime thing, and this is where he should be focusing. Prevention works much better than punishment. He would be better off focusing less on the police and more on community involvement, but the basic idea is a sound one.

He goes on to detail some stuff about finances. Still boring.

You know, maybe that's part of the problem. Most of the sane mayoral candidates are pretty damn boring. Because politics and reasonable ideas and stuff like that is all pretty boring.

So here are some ideas for Tom to be less boring and spice up the campaign!
  • Start dressing like a pirate, complete with a parrot on your shoulder. But don't talk like a pirate, or people will think you're crazy.
  • Pretend you're an albino, and anytime you step out into the sun start screaming. This also works if you pretend you're a vampire.
  • Wear a giant foam cowboy hat. Refuse to explain why.
  • Legalize (and regulate) prostitution. It's stupid that it's illegal and taxing it would bring lots of money to town. Also, it would make a lot of people freak out.
  • Ditto for marijuana.
  • Tell people that you have a third nipple. If you don't actually have a third nipple, get one.
  • Make campaign signs that are like those "magic eye" pictures where you have to stare all crazy-eyed at them to see the image.

That's all I got.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Donnelly's a blogger now!

Mayoral candidate Tom Donnelly has sunk to my level!

That is to say, he wrote a blog post. It's over at the Fitchburg Voice blog, and you can read it at this link.

Here's some of the blogtastic blogging Tom blogged:
This is the first time I have written on a Blog, and this campaign has been a learning experience about the role of the internet in local politics.

I have enjoyed working with my campaign volunteers in developing our campaign web
site and I have read with interest some of the local Blogs which have been discussing the mayoral election. There is no question that the internet will play a more important role in politics in the next few years.
Ooh! Donnelly actually reads blogs! That's... actually not that surprising.

There are those who say blogs won't shape the election. I actually agree with that in some ways, since most voters don't read blogs and couldn't care less what they say. There's another side to things though...

Both the candidates and many "regular citizens" who are politically interested actually do read some of these ramblings. DeSalvatore obviously does, or he wouldn't have a statement on his website telling people not to listen to blogs. I'm quite confident Lisa Wong does as well, and Donnelly has just publicly lost his blogging virginity. Dionne I think mostly sticks to reading telegraphs from the Crimean War.

Still, three out of four!

The point of a blog, of course, is not to shape events. It's to shape discussions. Personally, I wasn't comfortable that the only political analysis in town used to come from the Sentinel's opinion pages and the people who post to Save Fitchburg. Which is why I started this blog.

If you look at the link list on the right of this page, you'll see several other blogs that have started more recently and also have their own viewpoints to present. Generally these are viewpoints that weren't being well-represented anywhere else. The more the merrier! To paraphrase Jello Biafra: "Don't hate the media, become the media!"

Hopefully some of the discussions on the local blogs at least make the candidates think a bit more carefully about these issues. They may or may not agree with any particular point, but at least they're thinking. And more importantly, they know what their constituents are thinking about. If the discussion were controlled by just a couple of outlets it wouldn't come close to representing the majority of citizens. It still doesn't, but the more people who speak up the better we can be represented. If the candidates never know about your concerns they'll never be able to help with them.

Unfortunately, it's only a matter of time before some of the commenters at Save Fitchburg start claiming that Donnelly has hurt himself by appearing on ReallyRachel's site. This is because those commenters aren't very bright, and also really dislike Rachel. I'm pretty sure most people who will be voting don't know her or particularly care.

Anyway, saying Donnelly would be hurt by this would be like saying that Democrats won't vote for a candidate if they appear on FOX News. Which is stupid. Just because you hate the medium doesn't mean you'll hate everyone who appears on it. Similarly, what obviously matters here is what Donnelly says. Not who runs the site where he says it.

That was a long digression. How bloggarific!

Donnelly's blog post itself is not all that blogtacular. Just a brief rundown of his background and so forth, plus some plugs for his website (which as previously noted isn't too bad). But it's nice to have him out there contributing to the discussion. At the time of this writing there are no comments on the post, so get with it and go ask him something!

All the candidates would do well to make themselves available in this way. So nicely done, Tom.

Disclaimer: I actually hate any word that has "blog-" stuck on the front. Like "blogtacular". My use of such words in this post does not constitute an endorsement of them.

Friday, August 24, 2007

DeSalvatore on why he'd be a good sanitation worker

The local Fitchburg Pride paper is running a series of opinion pieces by the mayoral candidates. One a week for four weeks (obviously). By the luck of the draw, Ted DeSalvatore is the first up. Does he have something good to say? Crazier things have happened!

First off, the opinion piece written by DeSalvatore's campaign manager DeSalvatore isn't as crazy as most of what he says when he doesn't have a bunch of time to prepare a statement. Medication? Ghost-writer? Or does he just act less crazy when he's trying to get people to vote for him? You decide!

DeSalvatore starts off like so:
My wife Brenda and I came here for a home but found a family. We have never felt such an embrace. As much as we have grown to love Fitchburg, we have also been faced with many challenges. If our intention was to stay, we had to learn to fight. Fighting for our corner against drug dealers, pimps and thugs became a fight for our neighborhood, and now our city.
Good to see he's staying true to form here. First paragraph and he's already bringing up the "thugs" who invade his dreams. Also pimps and drug dealers, natch. Oh, and "fighting". He loves fighting.

As an aside, I'm glad I don't live on his corner. Not because of the supposed pimps and thugs, I have trouble believing they really hang out there too much. It just sounds like the sort of place where a crazed city councilor would be likely to come out and sock people in the nose for "looking suspicious".

Here's a treat though! Ted's crappy-ass website is incredibly vague about what he plans to do if people are crazy enough to elect him. His public statements have been too. But he's about to treat us to some specifics!
We are a service industry, but each year we find more and more of our essential services taken away yet the taxes remain. We need to consolidate departments, and/or services within departments, for increased efficiency with a reduction in cost.

This could be accomplished by: [blah, blah, blah]
Yeah, I don't understand that "service industry" thing either. But in the [blah blah blah] is a bunch of stuff he wants to do!

Unfortunately, it's all in candidate-speak. So as a public service to you, dear reader, I will now translate them:
  • "introducing on-line Internet services to facilitate departmental restructuring" = Make a website. Probably one that capitalizes things for no reason.
  • "eliminating mandatory increases and frivolous perks such as vehicle privileges" = Fuck your cost of living increase! Also, no more fire trucks.
  • "eliminating all nonessential positions and filling understaffed departments" = Fire a bunch of people I don't like, then hire others.
  • "identifying the greatest strains on city resources, eliminating whatever possible" = Eat out of dumpsters, stupid hungry people!
  • "developing an issue tracking system which all departments would share, reducing, and hopefully eliminating, overlapping efforts" = Make that website, again. Or maybe just make everyone be myspace friends. Whatever.
  • "creating revenue streams, such as selling water to other municipalities and or ventures" = Sell our tapwater and hope nobody noticed that we "violated a drinking water standard" as recently as June of last year.
  • "upgrading city buildings to be more fuel efficient, seeking those upgrades that would yield the greatest return on investment in the shortest period of time" = Do something smart, but screw it all up by looking for immediate return instead of long-term benefit.
Pretty damn specific, eh?

Enough of his "platform" though, next we move back to his other favorite group to criticize, "slumlords":
Slumlords do no background checks, fill out registration forms or remember faces. They deal in cash, don't give two hoots about your city and will keep doing what they are until the place burns down or until they get offered a high enough price.

By inviting and nurturing the criminal element into our community, they promote drug sales, prostitution and other reckless anti-social behaviors and must be shut down.
Man, slumlords suck. Apparently they also send out some sort of invitations to drug dealers and hookers, which seems odd. Are they like wedding invitations with the fancy thin paper that serves no purpose? And why can't they remember faces?

Actually, what the hell does Ted define as a slumlord anyway? It it just someone who doesn't do paperwork? Because that seems like a pretty wide net to cast. I've rented apartments in Fitchburg with minimal paperwork and they were hardly slums. Still, does that make me "the criminal element"? I did get a speeding ticket once.

You know, I'm beginning to think that "slumlords" are just a term DeSalvatore uses to describe any property owner he doesn't care for. He's never actually bothered to identify what he means when he uses the term, aside from these vague claims that they deal in cash and enjoy hanging around with hookers and drug dealers.

Sure, they're a convenient enemy to have. It's a nasty-sounding word, and there's no anti-defamation league for slumlords. Nobody's going to come forward and say "I'm a slumlord, and I'm tired of being put down!" But who the hell are they?

Something tells me that in DeSalvatore's mind a slumlord is basically any landlord in a poor or predominantly Hispanic part of town. I have nothing to back that up, mind you. It's just a guess based on where he sent his dumbass "Liberty Walk".

One last quote though, and it's my favorite part:
We are proud to have cleaned out the wooded area behind B.F. Brown Middle School, frequented regularly by the city's worst. Littered with bottles, needles, bleach kits, condoms, feces and more. Children played, parents had no clue. Today, all waste has been removed and the area is safe.

This is an example of my decisiveness and what you may expect when it comes to your family's safety.
Yes, you got that right. Ted would make an awesome sanitation worker! His "decisiveness" in picking up trash is remarkable!

You or I might stand there a little while thinking "Hmm, should I pick up this feces-covered needle?", but not Ted! He picks it right up and puts it in a plastic bag! That's the sort of decisiveness he has!

I'm envious, really.

So yeah, if DeSalvatore wants to quit the mayoral race and run for sanitation man or something I'm totally going to back him. But as far as being mayor goes, forget it.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Another website review? Yes!

Okay, I thought I was done with the website reviews. Dionne's apparently not a computer-user so he won't be having a site at all, and I already covered everybody else.

While Donnelly's site has changed a little (for the better, in my opinion), it's not so different as to warrant a new review. Ditto for DeSalvatore, whose site still looks like crap, but has had some minor updates.

Lisa Wong, on the other hand, has pretty much a whole new site! Which makes my previous review totally obsolete! So please join me for yet another installment of reviews of mayoral campaign websites with!

Okay, first thing I noticed is probably obvious to everyone who goes to the site. Right there up top in the header thingy it says "Fitchburg Mayor". I'm pretty sure that Wong is not yet the mayor of Fitchburg. Self-confidence is nice and all, but that's getting a little ahead of the game.

Also somewhat baffling is the image of a fish getting speared in the same banner. Maybe it has some metaphorical significance or something that I'm missing, and it actually doesn't look bad, it's just sort of odd. Is Wong the spearfisher? Does the fish represent Fitchburg's poor bond rating? If so, that's a really weird metaphor.

Traveling over to the "About Lisa Wong" page, we get stuff that was mostly on her old site, but this time there's a picture of a puppy at the bottom! And yes, it's a pretty damn cute picture. Not sure what that has to do with being mayor, but people who enjoy pictures of puppies are in for a treat!

There are also some pictures of her doing things across the globe in a lot of places I've never been to. For instance, "Scuba Diving in Belize":

I can only assume that this so-called "scuba diving" may also have involved some spearfishing, which would make the image in the banner make total sense!

This also raises an important question. Now that we know what Wong looks like in a wetsuit, when are we going to get to see Donnelly, DeSalvatore, and Dionne in their own wetsuits? Also, what the fuck does scuba diving in Belize have to do with being mayor?

Oh yes, Wong is well-traveled. We get that.

I don't honestly know if that helps you or hurts you in a town where people seem to almost take pride in never having been anywhere interesting. Hell, as far as I can tell Donnelly has been here his entire life! While some of us may appreciate a mayor who knows more of the world than the Route 2 corridor, I have to wonder if there aren't others who view the well-traveled as "outsiders".

On to the "Accomplishments" page!

I looked at this page a couple of days ago and one of the images was HUGE. Like 2 or 3 megabytes. Now they're both quite tiny and reasonable. Way to update!

The actual content of the page is pretty decent, albeit a little boring. Also, there's a typo where the word "properties" is spelled as "propertied". Also also, there's a misplaced comma in the middle of "Fitchburg Redevelopment Authority". Argh! The pedantic proofreader in me bristles with disgust!

Overall though, the page does a decent job of presenting what Wong has done in the past, which actually looks pretty good. This is a candidate website so it's not like she's going to present herself in a bad light, but these accomplishments come complete with facts and figures so it's hard to argue with them.

Now, there's the "On the Issues" page.

This is actually where the new website really shines. Wong presents four "top priorities": "Financial Stability", "Cultural Vibrancy", "Economic Growth", and "Opportunity".

Each of these headings has its own link which in turn leads to "Measurable Goals", a statement of "Fitchburg's Challenge", and then "Lisa Wong's Solution/Plan of Action". This is actually a really nice and very well thought-out issues platform.

If you're wondering where crime falls (since it's so overhyped by some other candidates), it's actually under "Cultural Vibrancy". She doesn't harp on it, and in my opinion that's a very good thing. This is hardly the first time I've said this, but crime in Fitchburg is just not the huge boogeyman that other candidates are trying to make it out to be.

I was going to quote from the issues pages a bit, but really you're better off just going and reading them yourselves because there's so much stuff there. They're quite extensive and specific, which is great to see. I thought Donnelly had done a very good job with his issues page, but Wong one-ups him with her new site.

Could this lead to some sort of Issues arms race between Wong and Donnelly? I hope so, because that's where the important stuff is. DeSalvatore is a very distant third in this, and Dionne doesn't even exist. If Wong and Donnelly are the USA and the Soviet Union in the war of addressing issues, then DeSalvatore is the island nation of Tuvalu and Dionne is lost at sea somewhere.

Moving on, Wong has a "Media Room" page, which basically reproduces articles written about her. That's fine, but doesn't particularly thrill me since I've seen most of these articles already.

Finally, there's a "Get Involved" page, which is sort of standard issue for mayoral campaign websites. I'm not sure why the form on it defaults to Alabama for the state (aside from the obvious alphabetical reason), but that's a pretty minor issue.

So what's the verdict?

Overall, this is a pretty decent website for a mayoral campaign. The important part really always comes down to how the candidate addresses the issues, and Wong has done quite a good job with that. It's not the most professional looking site (appears it was made with godaddy's "Website Tonight"), but none of the mayoral candidates have particularly professional-looking websites.

I'd put it a bit above Donnelly's site at this point thanks to the depth of information on the issues and way ahead of DeSalvatore's site, which is really terrible on the issues. Dionne, of course, has no website and is the loser here.

Since I had Donnelly in the lead before, that means the lead has changed hands! Will Donnelly respond with an improved web presence? One can only hope so, because the better the quality of the information online, the better the voters of Fitchburg are served. Let the website war begin!

In closing, here's that picture of the cute dog. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Meta keywords make life easy!

Disclaimer: If you want deep political insight, skip this post. I'm just fooling around because I'm bored.

Know what I missed when I was reviewing mayoral candidate websites? Meta tags containing keywords!

Okay, there are good reasons for that. While this is no longer my area of expertise, my impression is that nobody really uses meta keywords anymore, because search engines no longer really care about them. To quote the always incredibly accurate Wikipedia:
37 leaders in search engine optimization concluded in April 2007 that the relevance of having your keywords in the meta-attribute keywords is little to none.
As usual, Wikipedia has taken all the fun out of everything. Jerks.

Never mind that! Luckily for us, one mayoral candidate did bother to populate his pages with a whole bunch of pointless meta keywords. Thanks Ted!

Perhaps in his role as "Teacher of computer related courses", Mr. DeSalvatore has picked up some secret nobody else knows concerning the relevance of meta keywords, because he has bunches of them. Take that, Wikipedia smartypants!

And perhaps by examining these sort-of-hidden keywords we can take a peek into the mind of the "thermometer of Hell Zone". Clever, no?

If you're going to go look for yourself, ignore the front page. It just has a few boring ones like "Fitchburg 01420 Mayor" and "01420 mayor Fitchburg". Because people often refer to the town as "Fitchburg 01420", just like that shitty TV show that was on in the 90's with that girl who had the one eye like an inch above her other eye.

Also, while I'll admit that the word "Massachusetts" is tricky to spell, but it seems odd that it's totally absent from the keywords. Hell, even "MA" isn't there. But if the search engines don't care (and they don't), then why should I?

There is an interesting bit though, and it's the keywords stuck on the other pages of this site. I'll just paste them here for your amusement:
"01420, mayor, fitchburg, DeSalvatore, Mayor, Fitchburg, 01420, Mylott, Donnelly, Wong, election, elect, Sentinel Enterprise, Ward 4, Crime, homeless, Putnam Place, Unitil, energy, utility costs, duel tax, change, challenge, Save Fitchburg, blight, trash, graffiti, white goods, illegal dumping, Quality of life, safety, 01420, mayor, fitchburg"
Holy crap that's a bunch of odd keywords!

From first glance, it's obvious he really likes that zip code, and I don't blame him. It is quite a fetching zip code, what with its rounded ends and powers of two. We should really promote our zip code as one of the perks of living in Fitchburg, come to think of it. So no points lost there!

I must admit, I'm a little hurt to see he stuck the Save Fitchburg blog in the keywords and not Progressive Fitchburg. I hold the number one spot on a Google search for "'ted desalvatore' mayor"! How about a little cross-promotion, Ted? I'll bring in the search engines and you just keep acting crazy so I have something to write about. I'll even keep the links to and to a minimum.

Moving on, listing your opponents (aside from Ronald Dionne) seems like an odd move, but whatever...

One big concern. What the fuck is a "duel tax"? Is the government going to start taxing my duels? Because I only duel for honor, not to line the pockets of some big-city bureaucrat! Who even gets taxed? The loser's dead, the winner is not someone to be trifled with (he just killed the loser, after all). Neither party is an ideal target for taxation. This seems like an odd platform to support.

What's really striking to me is the way Mr. DeSalvatore promotes himself though. Now, if I were going to make a website to try to get people to vote for me I'd probably put a bunch of my positives in the keywords (which I wouldn't do anyway, but you get the point). Not Ted though! He likes to "focus on what's bad" and here's where it shows!

What's bad? Well, judging from the keywords I'd say "Crime, homeless, utility costs, duel tax, blight, trash, graffiti, white goods, and illegal dumping." Words that are apparently synonymous with DeSalvatore!

"White goods"???

Seriously, "white goods"? Did he just pick random words from the text on the page or what?

Anyway, there you have it. A meta-review of Ted DeSalvatore's meta keywords that borders on self-mockery! I'll be back with a new review of Lisa Wong's new, improved website in a day or two.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Shocking news! Ted's not big on tolerance!

Oh boy, Ted's back in the news. Thankfully, this time it's just for having dumb ideas and not for bullying veterans or mistreating the hungry.

And in what will come as a surprise to no one, the homophobic guy who's led racially-charged marches through minority sections of town is advocating "Zero Tolerance".

Per yesterday's Sentinel Article:
Zero tolerance, from the city's police department to its code enforcement officers, is needed to revive the blighted neighborhoods here, according to mayoral candidate Ted E. DeSalvatore.

"I'm not looking for discretion, I'm not looking for diplomacy," he said in an interview this week with the Sentinel & Enterprise's editorial board. "I want to identify the hot spots, our blighted areas -- the worst ones -- and within them, which are the worst dwellings. Going in with the intention to make sure they stop doing business the way they're doing it no matter what."
Yeah, discretion and diplomacy are terrible traits in a leader! Heaven forbid we elect a mayor who understands that not everything is black and white!

Wait a second, dwellings do business? Huh?

Of course, it's not really fair to make fun of the guy's inability to form a coherent sentence. If it were, I'd have to make fun of this terribly poor choice of words (my emphasis):
"After dealing with drug dealers on the corner, my inspiration was to continue on," he said.
... and making fun of that is just too easy.

Then there's this one:
"I don't live far away from 'hell zone.' I'm on the edge of it," he said. "I walked it, I drive it. I'm pretty much like the thermometer, I've had a good grip on the pulse of the community."
It gives me an idea for a new campaign slogan for him, though. "Vote Ted, he's the thermometer of Hell zone!" If you're reading, Ted, you can use that one free of charge!

Also, way to badmouth Fitchburg some more! Nobody's at all tired of that. On the other hand, I have no difficulty believing that Ted's neighbors would view their neighborhood as "Hell Zone", I just suspect it's for different reasons than he does.

On to the zero tolerance bit though:
"I want a guy [for the new police chief] that's going to be a top cop. I want him to keep his nose out of the politics and I want to leave the social-service work to social-service workers," he said, offering praise for Rudolph Giuliani, former mayor of New York and current Republican presidential candidate's approach to combating crime in New York. "I believe we need to have pretty much a zero tolerance."
Oh man, do you really want to hitch your wagon to Rudy "my only accomplishment as mayor was my city got struck by a terrorist attack" Giuliani?

Okay, that's not entirely fair either. Prior to 9/11 Giuliani was better known for police brutality, increasing racial tensions, harassing a lot of innocent people for no reason, racial profiling, and of course cheating on his wife and generally treating his family members like shit. Why do you think his daughter supports Obama for president?

To continue:
DeSalvatore later said, "There have been a lot of restrictions on our local guys and girls," partly because of "a touchy-feely thing that was brought in by the previous chief. Nice guy, but I think he was much too soft for the environment that we're in."
I believe "guys and girls" here refers to police officers (and I'm sure the female officers love to be called "girls").

Of course, here's the big problem. Shockingly, the Sentinel neglected to put this statement in context, but I'll fill in the blank. Chief Cronin's approach was actually working quite well. I've written about it before here. In a nutshell, crime has been decreasing. Want to see for yourself? Go get the 2006 Fitchburg Police Department annual report here (it's a .pdf).

I'm not going to go into a whole analysis of the thing, but the "Crime Index" on page 10 (page 12 of the pdf) gives the basic story. Lower is better.
  • 2002: 2,302
  • 2003: 2,526
  • 2004: 2,546
  • 2005: 2,286
  • 2006: 1,927
Hmm, the facts seem to indicate that the crime rate has been improving! Seems like Cronin was on to something. What could it have been?

Here's an old quote from Cronin:
Cronin said the department has been focusing on more than just suppression, acknowledging through programs, reinforcement and advocacy that crime is a much larger issue affected by outside factors such as economics and race.

"We've generated a big picture way of looking at the problems," Cronin said. "You can't keep hitting things in one way, you can't keep arresting people and ignore the outside factors that have contributed to the crime, and minority status and poverty are right on top."
Yeah, that's a very sensible approach. One that actually addresses the source of the problems rather than just punishing people after the crime is committed. If you stop it at its roots you don't have to worry about that.

Of course, Ted would presumably call that "social service work", which as we know he doesn't care for. More sensible people would call it addressing the roots of the problem. If you want to keep crime down it makes a lot more sense to keep it from occurring in the first place. If you want to live in a police state though, Ted's your man!

Why does DeSalvatore keep harping on crime so much? Well, it's all he's got. As far as concrete plans for improving the city go, he's way behind Donnelly and Wong. Anyone who votes for him is going to do it because Ted's convinced them that they're in some sort of imminent danger and only he can protect them.

Unfortunately for his campaign (but fortunately for the people of Fitchburg) that's simply not true. Come the primary, Ted will hopefully realize what Republicans the country over have been finding out: you can only scare people into voting for you for a limited time. Once the truth becomes known and the boogeymen of your own creation dissipate, so does your political career.

Let's hope people realize that truth sooner rather than later.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Why the mayor matters

Those of you who've read me for awhile may know that I don't really read Save Fitchburg too often. Frankly it's just too dry for me. I can get the facts anywhere, what's interesting is analysis of those facts.

Well, I was feeling masochistic today and checked it out anyway. It was nice to find Jason's Where are we at? post, which attempted to evaluate where the current mayoral candidates stood after Mylott dropped out of the race. A reasonable enough read which I find myself pretty much in agreement with.

That post, however, was followed up with a post by "Rupert Knickerbocker" entitled Where are we at? Nowwhere! [sic] which tried to argue that it really doesn't matter who's mayor because:
For all practical purposes, the office of Mayor of Fitchburg is bordering on the point of irrelevancy. No one who has experienced and observed the changes in politics and government over the past 30 years in Massachusetts can mount an argument to the contrary. Local political power is dead-and has been for at least 20 years.

Okay, let's leave aside for a moment the fact that Mr. Knickerbocker has perhaps the most arrogant and annoying writing style I've ever seen (and I've read Daily Kos!), and focus on his arguments. After all, there may be a good point behind the condescension.

Political and governmental power and influence flows from the purse-and Fitchburg has no real purse to speak of since Fitchburg, as every municipality in the Commonwealth, relies on the generosity of aid and assistance from Beacon Hill-and in the event you have failed to notice-Fitchburg has zero clout or influence on Beacon Hill.
This is the most glaring flaw with his argument. When you view the mayor's relevancy as nothing more than a measure of his/her budget you miss the point entirely.

While fiscal stability is obviously important (and both Donnelly and Wong have addressed it extensively), it's hardly the only thing that the mayor is responsible for. Yes, most of his/her duties will require financing, but not all of them. As an example, the perception of the town by those considering a move here (or even a visit) is something the mayor can influence with little more than his/her public statements.

In other words, you can have someone like Ted "We need to focus on what’s bad" DeSalvatore sabotaging perception of the town with statements like that, or you can have an elected official that knows how to make the town attractive to others.

Of course, public perception is also related to things like crime rates and the economy, both of which are in turn influenced by finances (among many other things). Crime rates have been decreasing, but you'd never know it to listen to some of the candidates. That gets back to public statements. Some people might actually check the numbers, but if they hear the mayor going on about how awful crime is in Fitchburg they could easily think twice about coming here.

As for the economy, getting aid from the state is of course nice. But the mayor's job is to properly manage what s/he has to work with. Some mayors can arguably do that better than others. Wong personally has a Master's degree in economics. Donnelly wants to establish a "Financial Advisory Team" and appoint a CFO for the town. DeSalvatore umm... "will bring an end to irresponsible spending". Nice idea, but the question is who's got the best plan for doing that? Obviously all candidates are not made alike.

Knickerbocker goes on to state how none of the candidates could ever possibly make a connection with Governor Patrick's office, meaning no state aid for us.

He's probably right about DeSalvatore. After all, when your campaign manager gave $500 to Romney's campaign you may not find a lot in common with Patrick.

Donnelly and Wong are much less certain. Knickerbocker wrote them off based on... well... nothing really. Based on the same evidence I say they at least have a chance.

It's a matter of them making the proper moves. It may not be easy, but to write it off as impossible is just defeatist. Wong may even have a slight advantage just by virtue of being a young Asian woman. Like it or not, image matters in politics and an administration that focused so much on "hope" could well find an interest in supporting an idealistic young (female, minority) mayor.

Basically, by Knickerbocker's criteria it wouldn't matter if we elected the finest political mind of the century or someone straight out of a mental institution. Does anybody in their right mind really believe that wouldn't make a difference?

It matters what the mayor chooses to do with the town's budget. It matters what tone the mayor sets for the town. It matters that the mayor represents the interests of all citizens. It matters that good decisions are made and bad ones avoided. A whole lot of things matter besides how much money we can get from the state.

Not all candidates are created equal. It doesn't matter how often you assert that people need to "realize the obvious" or pretend that people aren't "consider[ing] political reality" (man I fucking hate this guy's writing style!), the fact is that the candidates are vastly different. We're going to be choosing whether we elect a mayor who can understand the problems and work to fix them in a way that benefits the town or whether we elect one who makes things worse.

Yes, it matters. A lot.

ps You may have noticed I didn't mention Dionne at all in this post. Unfortunately, the guy's not done much to make himself relevant so I just don't see much reason to factor him in.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Some Commenting Changes

Okay, enough of this shit.

It seems that there's a subset of people who don't know how to post a comment on a blog without being a total dick.

Obviously this isn't just a problem here, as this post on the SNTDS blog indicates the admin there is having the same problem. That's not exactly surprising, since the majority of the offending comments seem to originate from one particular candidate's supporters. I'm sure you can guess which one.

Anyway, I'm instituting the requirement that anyone who wants to comment be registered. No more totally anonymous commenting. I do this reluctantly, because I do have some very good commenters who aren't registered (or at least don't sign in when they comment). I hope that those good commenters will register, because I hate to lose them.

I'm also leaving moderation on for the time being.

To respond to some of the more idiotic comments that most of you never got to see:
  • I'm not any of the people I've been "accused" of being, nor am I affiliated with any other blog or anyone's campaign. This is a one-person show.
  • I'd gladly let through comments in support of Ted if they actually attempted to support Ted based on the facts at hand and didn't just attack other people.
  • I enjoy insane religious rants. Keep those coming!

As far as guidelines for those who do want to comment, they're pretty common-sense.
  • Don't be an asshole.
  • If you're a bigot, keep it to yourself.
  • Don't threaten anybody.
  • Don't attack private citizens.
  • Stay at least mostly on-topic.

There are probably more but those are the first ones that come to mind. Just have some civility and you'll have no problems.

Thank you and good day.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Shameless self (and other) promotion!

Hey everybody! There's another new website in town.

Go see Hello Fitchburg!

It's not a blog. More of a local/regional aggregator of news, restaurant reviews, and general stuff like that. Think sort of along the lines of a regional BoingBoing. I'll be writing there, as will (hopefully) a number of other local non-celebrities. Mostly non-political stuff from me, mind you. I already have an outlet for that.

Also, you could submit stuff! So write something interesting and send it in!

So far it's just starting off (only two posts), but there's a poll up on who you favor for mayor, so go take it!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Donnelly has a website too!

Good news, people who find my reviews of mayoral candidate websites mildly amusing! Tom Donnelly has joined the fray!

Let's take a journey through

First off, big points to Mr. Donnelly for bravely using the word "for" in his URL instead of making it "". Smart move!

Not picking a stupid domain name offsets the points lost for having half a mile of mysterious blank space at the bottom of each page. What's up with that, Tom? Are you trying to hide the hit counter at the very bottom? Because we can just scroll down, you know.

Now is the point where I'd normally count the pages on the site and compare it to the other candidates. Donnelly certainly looks like the winner if you consider his navigation bar, but here we encounter the dark underbelly of deceit at the heart of this site! There are a whopping 13 navigation buttons, but a bunch of them are basically the same damn thing.

Contact Info, Contributions, Feedback, Help Tom, Site Problem?, and Stay in Touch all fall under the general category of "contact me". Sure, they're mildly different, but they could have all been on the same page with no problem so I'm only counting them as one page. Donnelly still leads the pack on sheer website size, but man that's a lot of contact pages! Hell, even the banner at the top of every page has contact info on it. On the plus side, this does suggest that Donnelly really really loves people to contact him, which is sort of cute.

The front page of the site has a friendly welcome in which he mentions "fiscal stability" and crime reduction twice. One suspects that this may be what his campaign will focus on. He also has contact information in the body of the page. Someone give the guy a call already, I'm starting to think he might be lonely.

Let me take a moment to digress here. What the hell is up with people not proofreading their websites? Is it really that hard to just read the thing over after you've made it? Then you can avoid minor but stupid things like:
please visit my campaign headquarters at 713 Main Street at [sic] call the headquarters at 978-342-8590
You end up looking stupid when your campaign website has typos, grammatical errors, and crazy punctuation and capitalization. Spell-check doesn't cut it!

But back to the site...

The Bio page is pretty decent, if a bit dry. It doesn't have the bizarre gaps we see in some other candidates' biographies, so I guess he's not trying to hide much. Although halfway through the page the format changes from going chronologically from top to bottom to the reverse. Very disorienting if you're trying to read it while drunk (which I'm not, but I assume others will be).

There's also a nice picture of his family, which looks less creepy than some pictures of this sort. Unfortunately it's over-compressed, which makes his daughter's eyes look like they're glowing demonically.
Moving on, the Issues page is the best I've seen so far. It addresses a lot of issues, includes some specifics, and is light on the crazy. Crime prevention and fiscal stability predictably get top billing.

A bit on "City Government Reorganization":
As someone who has navigated the halls of city government for years, I am aware of how frustrating it can be to communicate and find the answer to simple questions.

I will as Mayor immediately upgrade our telephone system, work to improve our computer technology and make all forms available on-line to better serve citizens.
Aha! So that's why there are so many ways to contact him!

He also kisses elderly ass:
Our senior citizens are a source of wisdom and inspiration for all of us. We must continue to develop programs and plans to address the needs of this growing population, especially in the areas of transportation, housing, health, public safety and recreation.
That's not unreasonable, of course. Sucking up to the elderly has rarely hurt a candidate, and I don't think there's been a lot of talk about them in general. I'm just jealous, because as a white male between the ages of 18 and 34 nobody sucks up to me except every advertiser in the country.

Overall, the issues page is really pretty decent. At least on par with Lisa Wong's, and probably a bit better. Well done!

There's a Links page, which is as boring as one would expect. That's all about that.

Moving on to the Photo Gallery! It's less entertaining than Ted DeSalvatore's photo gallery, but that's mostly because it's a real photo gallery and not a crazy-ass collection of photos of garbage (literally). There are two photos I particularly enjoy though.

First is this incredibly subtle one entitled "Tom going door to door.":Apparently the title "Tom standing next to a flag" was deemed too obvious.

My other favorite is the one of his campaign announcement. It's big and badly framed, so I'm just cropping out one section. Just look at the excitement in the crowd!

There's also a Press Release page, but all press releases are boring. They're also linked from the Issues page, so it's another redundant link!

That's about all, so what's the verdict?

In my opinion, this is the best of the mayoral campaign websites to appear so far. Good "Issues" page, decent background info, nothing too crazy, and innumerable pathways to get in contact with him if you want to. It loses a little bit for not being proofread adequately, but is still miles better than DeSalvatore on that account (as well as just about everything else). Wong's site is a bit more streamlined and grammatically immaculate, but doesn't quite have the same depth of information available. Dan Mylott's site is of course now a moot point since he's dropped out of the race.

You're left, Ronald Dionne! Make with the website!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Why I'm not a political cartoonist...

(click on image for full-size version)

My lack of any discernible artistic talent and the fact that I'm not especially funny are only the most obvious reasons...