Friday, November 13, 2015

City Council Meeting Recap November 9, 2015

City Council Meeting Recap
November 9, 2015
At 7 PM the Council had a brief hearing on the disposition and sale of a small parcel on Belcher Street, which had technically been a portion of unused roadway, and was sought by an abutter who thought that they actually own the property. Later in the evening the Council did approve the discontinuance  and the sale for the appraised price of $28,000.
The Council heard from the Mayor with her report in which she introduced the new health director Frank Giacolone who has been appointed by the Board of Health and will start as new health director on November 23. He has recently served as the director of public health for the town of Saugus.  The High School stadium will be completed in time for the field dedication on November 25. This will continue to be known as the World War I Memorial Stadium and now also will be known as the James Stehlin Field. A public meeting was held for residents of Palm Island last week regarding water and sewer status. A number of steps of been taken to prevent freezing like last year. The City did receive a Massworks grant of $2 million which will assist in the Graf Road lift station upgrade. Work continues on the design and orientation of the garage and intermodal facility. The Mayor will be holding a meeting with the city Council on Monday, November 16 at 7:00 PM. There will be also a joint meeting of the City Council and School Committee to discuss school budget preparations for fiscal year 2017.
The council approved a number of orders related to revising language about public trees and sidewalks, as well as stop intersections, turning lanes, and future changes to relatively minor traffic and parking ordinances.
The budget and finance committee removed several items from its list of committee items. The Council received and filed the mayor's memo regarding the city's cash reconciliation process which has been noted by auditors for the last several years. The city is taking steps to improve the physical processes related to reconciliation between various accounts. By a 10 to 0 vote with Councillor Heartquist being absent, the council voted to keep the residential factor for tax classification at one, which means that businesses and residents pay at the same tax rate. By a vote of 7 to 3 the council set the tax rate for this year at $13.39 per $1,000 which includes using $350,000 of free cash to save the average household $45 annually on their taxes. This tax rate represents an increase of 1.75%, which is less than the allowable 2.5% under proposition 2 ½.
Orders related to the senior center and rental fees and creating a revolving fund for the senior center which will use those fees for the care and maintenance of the facilities were approved.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

City Achieves Highest Credit Rating Possible

Long time no blog....;-)

To me, the most important aspect of this is a bit buried in the release, so I highlighted it in yellow. It's going to save us, the taxpayers, money when we need to borrow.  And like any properly functioning business, a municipality will need to borrow from time to time for capital projects.

Here's a primer on Municipal Credit Ratings from Governing Magazine:

City Achieves Highest Credit Rating Possible

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


For Immediate Release
January 16, 2015                                       
Newburyport—Mayor Donna Holaday is accepting letters of interest and resumes from residents interested in serving on Newburyport’s boards and commissions.  The following have openings for those interested in volunteering their time:
Affordable Housing Trust
Bartlet Mall
Board of Health
Commission on Diversity & Tolerance
Highland Cemetery
Newburyport Housing Authority
Planning Board
Tree Commission
Zoning Board of Appeals
Members must be residents of the City.  Membership for the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals is based on experience and whenever possible includes: an architect or landscape architect, an engineer, a realtor or developer, an affordable housing specialist, an environmental planner and an attorney.  At this time, residents with backgrounds in environmental engineering or land use planning are especially encouraged to apply.  Meetings are generally held twice a month.
Additional information can be found on the City’s website:  Qualified residents should submit a letter of interest and resume to: Mayor’s Office, City Hall, 60 Pleasant Street, Newburyport, MA 01950, Attn: Lois Honegger.
All appointments are voluntary and unpaid positions.

Monday, December 22, 2014


City of Newburyport

December 18, 2014

Contact: Molly Ettenborough 978-499-0413


Newburyport- There will be no trash and recycling pick up on December 25 and January 1. For the remainder of those weeks, trash and recycling will be delayed by one day. Thursday’s trash and recycling will be picked up on Friday and, likewise each day thereafter will be a one day delay with Friday pick-up on Saturday. The downtown business district however will remain on Friday. Please have your trash and recycling out by 7 am. If you have any questions please call Mello Disposal at 978-352-8581.

During the month of January, Christmas trees will be picked up on your regular trash day. Any trees picked up before January 10 will be brought to the Tendercrop growing fields in Newbury for a community wide bonfire sponsored by the Newbury Fire Department. This event will be held from 3-9 pm and is an open event for all to attend. The museum and visitor’s center at Spencer Pierce Little Farm will be open along with many vendors and activities taking place. All proceeds will go towards the purchasing of new fire equipment for the Newbury Fire Department. For additional information or if you need their help with your tree, please call the Newbury Fire Department or visit

Newburyport trees will continue to be picked up after the 10th but those will be brought to the Wheelebrator disposal site in North Andover.

The Crow Lane Recycle Center will be open for our monthly Recycle Event on Saturday, January 4 from 8 am till noon. Electronics, white goods, metals, oil, oil based paint, cooking oil, anti-freeze, Styrofoam, bicycles and tires will be accepted.

For additional information please contact the Recycling and Energy Office at 978-499-0413.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Update: First Essex House District

Dear Friends,

I am not conceding.

The 38 provisional ballots were processed this morning by the Newburyport City Clerk’s office.  In a very thorough and transparent process witnessed by myself, Councilor Kelcourse and others, 23 of these ballots were deemed valid and appropriate for tallying and 15 were deemed invalid.

Of the 23 ballots counted, the net impact on this election is that James Kelcourse's total increased by 2 votes.  Therefore, Councilor Kelcourse holds a lead of 11 votes across the District. 

Over 17,000 voters cast ballots in Amesbury, Newburyport, and Salisbury.  The difference between us is less than 1/10th of 1 percent.

While a timely accounting of ballots is important, the most important result is an accurate accounting of the votes.

Over the weekend, I will be evaluating my options, which include petitioning for a recount, to ensure that the will of the voters has been upheld.


Ed Cameron

Thursday, October 30, 2014


“You worked for me a long time ago.”

The first time the man made an impression on me was a long time ago, probably in 1990.  I was working at the Pine Street Inn homeless shelter in Boston in what was then called the Men’s Unit.  Some of the older homeless men talked about factory and manual labor jobs that they had back in the 1950s and 60s, jobs that just required someone willing to work hard- the ability to run a cash register or a computer or smile at a customer was not required.  The shelter was a tough place, lots of substance abusing men, lots of mentally ill men, and lots of men who had both things going on at the same time.

Our executive director Rich Ring asked me one day to see if there were 8 guys willing to work for a construction company in Hyde Park.  The company was having a hard time finding laborers and needed help for a couple of months.  The Hyde Park District City Councilor knew Rich and thought some homeless guys might want a chance to work.  We were used to politicians coming through especially at election time and Thanksgiving and with TV cameras around.  I wasn’t used to politicians thinking that homeless people might actually want to work.  I asked around and found 20 guys who wanted the gig.  The name of the Councilor stuck in my memory.  

Three years later, as fate would have it, the Councilor became the Acting Mayor, in reality the Action Mayor.  There would be an election.  I wanted to volunteer.  I went to one event in May, got hooked up immediately with the neighborhood activists of Jamaica Plain.  I became “Eddie the Homeless Guy” and we did a lot for the Action Mayor.  The best political meetings of all time happen at Doyle’s.

The Acting Mayor became the Mayor, confirmed on Election Day by the voters.  The next day I got a call from one of the JP coordinators, “Eddie, get me your resume.”

“I wasn’t doing it for a job.  I volunteered because I like him.”

Two years later, I was looking to do something different and there was a City job open doing homeless and hunger work in the Mayor’s Office.  Eight years of seeing a lot of people coming through the shelter with the same problems - no home no job no peace no rest in the words of Bruce Springsteen –made me want to work on the problems of homelessness in a different way.

I worked for the Mayor for seven years.  The org chart wasn’t pretty but it was flat with something like 40 department heads reporting directly to the Mayor.  It’s amazing what can get done when the Boss has his or her ear to the ground, when you’ve got good people pulling in the same direction.  Harvard Business School will do the case study someday. 

Besides having the opportunity to do great work on behalf of homeless families and individuals, I got to do some very very cool things.  I sat for lunch at a small table with the Mayor and Angela….and Ted Kennedy and Vickie Kennedy.  

I got to emcee a homeless advocacy event, protesting a state policy….on the field of Fenway Park on an August afternoon in front of 300 homeless advocates, the Mayor and Angela Menino, Larry Lucchino, Jason Varitek, and Dick Williams.  I have a picture and my catcher’s mitt autographed by Jason to prove it.  It doesn’t get any more surreal than baseball and homelessness.

Bald Guy at podium is Ed Cameron.  Mayor Menino is center with Larry Lucchino to his left and Angela Menino

Nothing is more surreal unless it’s basketball and hunger.  To promote the Can Share Food Drive, we got Celtics forward Walter McCarty to attend.  The Boston Celtics organization was up for sale; a very nice man named Wyc Grousbeck, who was finalizing the deal to take over and didn’t want to be recognized, showed up at our event.  When I met the Mayor at his car, I told him who was there and asked what he thought of the rumored deal.  “$360 Million is too much to pay.  You can’t make money owning the team unless you own the building.” Yes, the Mayor was savvy.  

Despite the reputation for gruffness, I only got chewed out once.  “Why are we doing this event on a Saturday afternoon?,” he growled at me when I met his car before another hunger event.  “Because your scheduler said you were booked all week,” I said.  He accepted it; he wasn’t concerned about working on a Saturday because he worked every day.  He wanted there to be as many people as possible to promote the Food Drive. 

The Urban Mechanic sweated the small stuff because you’ve got to do the small stuff right before you can tackle the big stuff.  

In 2002, I left the Mayor and the City of Boston to get married and move to Newburyport.  I work in Lowell now.  I ran for the Newburyport City Council in my new hometown in 2007, saw the Mayor at an event in Boston, and asked him if he had any advice.  “Work hahd.”  And if you’ve ever heard him speak, you know exactly how that sounded.  I won doing it his way - one door, one voter at a time.

I last saw the Mayor in the Fall of 2013 at a recognition event to honor him.  He was still in charge waiting for the new Mayor to be chosen in a few weeks.  I went up through the crowd to say hello.
“You worked for me a long time ago,” he said.

“Yes, I did, Mr. Mayor.”  And we had worked hard.

Some people make such a strong impression, touch so many lives that they don’t ever really die.  Tom Menino is one of those.  Rest in peace.

Eddie "The Homeless Guy" Cameron

Sunday, October 5, 2014

From City of Newburyport: Extended Fall Hours at Yard Waste Facility to begin on Sunday October 5

Extended Fall Hours at Yard Waste Facility to begin on Sunday October 5

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Question 2 Expanding the Bottle Bill


We need to stop litter and keep Massachusetts clean.
A YES vote on Question 2 will do that by finally updating a successful 32-year-old law (the 1982 “Bottle Bill”) to include five cent deposits on water bottles, iced tea bottles, and sports drinks. Here are the facts about Question 2:
  • A recent Boston Globe poll documented 62% public support for updating the bottle bill. Many local and state environmental and civic organizations are leading the charge on Yes on 2, including Sierra Club, Mass Audubon, Environmental League of Massachusetts, League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, and MASSPIRG. The Updated Bottle Bill has been endorsed by 400 small businesses, and 209 cities and towns passed resolutions in favor of it.
  • Currently, 80% of bottles and cans with a deposit on them are recycled, while only 23% of containers without a deposit are recycled. The rest of those containers become litter or end up in landfills and incinerators.
  • When we began returning bottles for a deposit over 30 years ago, soda and beer bottles and cans were the litter problem. Beverages like bottled water, sports drinks, and iced teas were not widely on the market. We need to update the bill so more beverage containers will be recycled rather than ending up as litter.
  • The updated Bottle Bill will save our cities and towns approximately $6.7 million a year—or an average of $1 per person in our state–in litter pick up and trash disposal costs. You can find those figures in the Department of Environmental Protection’s study here. It also will mean less waste going to landfills and incinerators. And any unclaimed deposits will go to a state fund earmarked for recycling and environmental purposes.
  • While YES on 2 has huge public support, corporations that make big profits selling water and sports drinks have been working to block the measure for years. They’ve already put in $5.5 million dollars to defeat Question 2. Among those against this bill in the Legislature: Coca-Cola, Polar Beverages, Ocean Spray, and others.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July 4th Trash and Recycling Information

Important Holiday Schedule Information for Trash and Recycling Disposal and Yard Waste Facility

Newburyport --There will be no trash or recycling pick up on Friday, July 4th   Friday’s trash pick-up will therefore be on Saturday, July 5. This includes the downtown district. 

The Municipal Yard Waste Facility on Crow Lane will be closed on Friday, July 4, 2014 for the holiday. It will re-open on Saturday, July 5 with normal business hours of 7:30am -2:30 pm.  Please do not drop off brush or debris at the gate or on the road when the facility is closed.

The Crow Lane Recycling Center will be open on Saturday, July 5 from 8 am to 12 pm for the monthly recycling of oil paint, motor oil, tires, electronics, bicycles, Styrofoam, anti-freeze, cardboard, tires, and rechargeable batteries.  Our yearly household hazardous waste day will take place on Saturday, September 13 for disposal of household chemicals.   Again, please do not drop off any material at the recycling center when it is closed.

The FY 2014-2015 Health Department brochure which includes the yearly trash and recycling calendar should have arrived at your home in late May. If you did not receive it is available on line at
If you need any additional information please call the Health Department at 978-465-4410 or Mello Disposal at 978-352-8581

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

New Website and Facebook Page

My new website is up at – you can find everything about my race for State Representative there. Please visit the site and please follow my Facebook Page:


Ed Cameron

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Massachusetts Sierra Club: Letter to Council re Plastic Bag Ban

The Council received this letter from the Massachusetts Sierra Club:

Massachusetts Sierra Club
10 Milk Street, Suite 417
Boston MA 02108-4600

April 30, 2014

City Council President Thomas F. O’Brien
and Newburyport City Council Members
Newburyport City Hall
60 Pleasant Street
Newburyport, Massachusetts 01950

Re: “Good Intentions Aren’t Enough” but Action Is

Dear Council President O’Brien and Honorable Members of the City Council,

In the debate concerning plastic bags, there have been many diverse and
sometimes extreme opinions. One of these opinions, the theme of which was
“Good intentions aren’t enough,” was submitted as an open letter to the city
council. The author claims to support “reduction of single use items” and “Reduce,
Reuse, Recycle.” I am pleased to find that we do agree on the fact that “reduction
of single use items is something we should strive to achieve” and that “Reduce,
Reuse, Recycle” needs to be taken to heart.”

However, after that, it appears that the author is misinformed. It has been proven
that a reduction of plastic bags will have a significant positive impact on our
environment and better our quality of life. The United Nations Environment
Programme (UNEP) estimates that there are 46,000 pieces of plastic litter floating
in every square mile of ocean. According to the EPA,” Marine debris impacts the
environment, economy, and human health and safety.” Due to the aerodynamic
nature of plastic bags, a large percentage of this debris is derived from plastic bags.

I’ve noted the author’s reference to David Laist’s study on marine animals with
interest. On the surface, the statement does not appear to be agreement with the
EPA, who further state, “whales and sea turtles often mistake plastic bags for
squid... Moreover, a study of 38 green turtles found that 61 percent had ingested
some form of marine debris including plastic bags, cloth, and rope or string.”
“Seabirds, sea turtles, fish, and marine mammals often ingest marine debris that
they mistake for food. Ingesting marine debris can seriously harm marine life”
because “Ingestion can lead to starvation or malnutrition.”

Another study determined that “up to 10% of plastics produced end up in the oceans, where they
may persist and accumulate.” This validates the fact that a significant percent of
marine debris is plastic. And most importantly, Mr. Laist in both his published
writings and direct communications disclaims the quotes that the author
attributed to him. Mr. Laist has been outspoken in his writings of the dangers that
plastic bags pose. In his article, Overview of the Biological Effects of Lost and
Discarded Plastic Debris in the Marine Environment, he is quite clear that the
proliferation of discarded plastics represent a serious long lasting threat to many
types of marine mammals, fish, birds, turtles, and all other marine life.

While plastic bags are heralded as economical and convenient, in the U.S. alone
BILLIONS of plastic bags end up yearly as litter, causing a visible blight and a
irreversible toxic danger. Plastic bags are so aerodynamic and easily transported by
wind and water, that even when properly disposed of, they often blow away and
become litter. Plastic bags are the third largest form of litter from land-based
sources found on US coasts. According to numerous studies, plastic pollution
litters our coast from Crane’s Beach to Cape Cod National Seashore, to the South

Regarding the question of whether it is the “improper discarding” rather than the
“production and use” of plastic bags that is the problem, many locations and
opportunities are provided for recycling of these bags. The assumption that
providing more opportunities to recycle will resolve the issue is false. Due to the
low value of plastic bags, only 5.2% of our plastic bags are recycled.6 But even if the
recycling rate were doubled, tripled, or more the end result would still have an
unacceptable negative impact.

Certainly, a reduction in the use of thin film plastic bags will be accompanied by
an increase in the use of cloth bags as well as reusable plastic and paper bags.
Cloth bags can be reused hundreds of times and are easy to wash. Concerns about
public health are overblown. In fact, there is only one documented incident where
consumer health was affected by food-borne bacteria resulting from being
transported in a reusable bag. The report makes it clear that the incident would
have been easily avoided by following the most basic food handling techniques,
ands that the bag was not the culprit. Even that claim is non-applicable to the
proposed ordinance. Under proposal in Newburyport, plastic bags in the produce
and meats department will still be provided for groceries; only carry-out bags
would be eliminated.

While paper bags may not be the optimal solution for shopping, the EPA indicates
that paper and paperboard were recycled at a rate of 65% in 2008.There are no
figures for paper bags alone, but this is more than thirteen times the rate of
recycling of plastic bags making this an environmental choice.

The economic fears that opponents play on are also unfounded. For over 20 years,
Nantucket has upheld a ban to counter the effects of plastic bags on its
communities and other towns are following suit. None of these communities has
experienced negative economic consequences. Indeed, Brookline, Manchester by
the Sea, Great Barrington and Nantucket are all thriving communities.

Plastics take hundreds of years to break down at sea and most types never truly
biodegrade. Plastic bag litter is a serious problem and poses a threat to our
environment, but there is an easy solution. Passing a plastic bag ordinance will
help save countless endangered species, reduce pollution, and diminish litter that
inundates our oceans, landfills, and streets. The plastic bag issue is far clearer than
opponents of this ordinance would have you believe, I conclude that while “Good
intentions aren’t good enough,” action is. It’s time for Newburyport to pass an
ordinance banning plastic bags.


Phillip Sego
Environmental Advocate
Massachusetts Sierra Club