Monday, December 17, 2007

"5 Thoughts I've Had" for the week of December 17, 2007

I have not posted anything on this blog in a month. It was an effective (and fun) tool for me as a campaigner (note: when my 4-year-old's preschool teacher asked her what her daddy did for work, my daughter said, "He's a campaigner."). With the campaign over, I've been getting ready for the upcoming term to begin in January 2008 as well as reconnecting with my family, my day job, and a million other things.

As to the blog, for now, I'm going to attempt a once a week post, probably on Monday, with some thoughts on Newburyport current events and anything I can conjure up about other important things in our lives like the Red Sox.

1) My Blog Plan
I'm going to steal an idea from one of my favorite websites ( in which one of the writers posts about the "10 Things I Didn't Know" each week during the baseball season. So I'm going to write '5 Thoughts I've Had' each week. "My Blog Plan" counts as Thought #1.

2) Master Plan
Mary Baker is so right in her post that the Master Plan is still relevant. I'm sure that the document wasn't easy to pull together at the time. However it should be considered 'must reading' for elected officials, stakeholders, and concerned citizens.

3) Municipal Energy
Maybe I am a dreamer (see below John Lennon) , but I think it would be great if Mayor Moak's Energy Advisory Committee looked at the possibility of our own humble community forming its own municipal electric company. True, a 'muni' hasn't been formed in Massachusetts since 1926 according to Globe columnist Steve Bailey here. While it may be a common sentiment in some circles that government screws everything up, take a look at your next electric or gas bill (actually your next gas and electric bill may be combined since Keyspan and Nstar are now one company) and remind yourself that the private sector doesn't always get it right. Many other communities in Massachusetts control their own utilities this way as you can see here on the State's website.

4) Newbury's Little River Transit Village and 'Our' Water
I keep hearing concerns about the potential impact on Newburyport water and sewer capacity if we enter into a deal with the town of Newbury. Maybe my public school math is a bit fuzzy here, but if the numbers in the recent Daily News article from December 12 are correct, the proposed Village at Little River south of the commuter rail station in Newburyport doesn't seem to have that big of an impact on water and sewer (assuming Newburyport goes along). According to the Daily News, Newburyport uses (or will use when Plum Island is all connected) 2.4 million gallons a day. The Transit Village would use, and this is the high estimate, 50,000 gallons per day. So 50,000(Little River)/2,400,000 (Newburyport) = 2.08% increase. There are other reasons for Newburyport to be wary of this development (like traffic, retail competition, etc), but water and sewer volume doesn't seem to be a deal breaker. In fact we should be looking at this as an opportunity to bring resources to maintain our water and sewer infrastructure, which is in need of upgrade.

5) Bruce Menin
Around the time I moved to Newburyport, I was looking in the Newburyport Adult Education catalog and noticed the name of a guy named Bruce Menin who was teaching a class examining the Who album "Tommy." I thought this was a very cool idea. About 6 years later, I had the esteemed pleasure of MC'ing a screening of the Bill Lee documentary "Spaceman: A Baseball Odyssey" at the Firehouse. The event was a fundraiser for the Newburyport Documentary Film Festival. As I was standing on the stage with Bill Lee, some mustachioed man in the audience with a cast on his leg asked an obscure question about the late 1960's Mets starting rotation. That was the first time I'd met Bruce in person and I continue to get a charge from everything he says and does. My thought for the week: "Thank you Bruce for reminding us about John Lennon's passing 27 years ago December 8." Bruce, you may be a dreamer...and you're not the only one.


Bruce Menin said...

Thank you for the kind words. With the challenges we are facing as a community, it's good to know that you'll be over on the City Council; I don't expect the learning curve to be too daunting for you.

I was gonna attach a picture of me, Bill Lee and a brew, but I can't figure out how to do it.

When he started talking about Don Zimmer and the city of Cincinnati, I thought I was gonna wet my pants.

Funny, the question was about Mets coach Rube Walker, whose theory about pitching was if you kept your legs strong, and you butt muscles big, you could pitch forever. Three of his acolytes were Seaver, Jerry Koosman, and Nolan Ryan. And Ryan was Clemens' hero; Clemens hung on every word.

Apparently, he used his big butt to extend his pitching career, alright.

Asterisk the records of every player they have the goods on, and let the Hall of Fame voters sort it out.

Old Tyme Newburyport Liberal Dude said...

Geez Ed, I'm not sure anyone is even reading this blog but I'm not one to hesitate to give my two cents worth even if not asked so here goes.....

1. Responding to others thoughts is always easier than having your own.

2. A "Master Plan" is always a good idea. Important points to keep in mind are that you need to be flexible; you're dealing with diverse people with divergent viewpoints and doing the right thing is more important than being right. Also, a good idea is a good idea, it shouldn't matter where it comes from. In other words sometimes people you don't agree with have good ideas.

3. A "muni" is a great idea. It's major concern would be giving Newburyporters the best and most efficient energy at the best and most eficient costs. We would be beholden only to ourselves not our shareholders and profits.

4. Shouldn't water and sewer capacity be part of the master plan? Note to self: read master plan.

5. "A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” Now pass that over here.

Bonus Thought: Congrats on the neww addition to the family! Our best to you, Susanne, and Anna.

Anonymous said...

I like your municipal energy idea,but instead of thinking in the 1920's "utility" model why not think of diversified on-site usage...IE solar panels on City Hall, Micro-wind turbines on the NOCK, Geothermal wells to heat the High School,recycled motor oil to heat the DPW, etc.

If we ask the question in terms of "utility" we'll be led to typical generation and distribution answers, fuel type, etc.

Tom Salemi said...

Welcome back to the Blogosphere Ed. I thought you'd abandoned us when you shifted from campaigner to councilor-elect.

A few thoughts, I disagree completely with you and others about the master plan.

We should be questioning it constantly, asking ourselves if this is still the right guideline for our city. The only way we can test the strength of the plan is with scrutiny and challenge.

Moreover, this city's identity was forged by those who challenged a "master plan" of sorts four decades ago. Why should we stop questioning things now? As long as the debate is constructive I say bring it on.

Regarding the Muni, I think it's a fine idea but I can't imagine where such a thing would be built. I agree with anonymous above. We should be pursuing the next generation of localized power sources.

Nice to have you back.

Ed Cameron said...

Tom, it is good to be back in the blogosphere. It's too icy and snowy in our regular atmosphere;-).

I just posted a comment about shopping downtown on your blog. This was done before I read your comment disagreeing with me. Don't worry I'm still looking for an Ipod Nano for your stocking.

When I speak of the relevance of the Master Plan, I don't equate it with the U.S. Constitution or the 10 Commandments, but I do think there's a lot of accumulated wisdom in there. Do I agree with everything in there? No, but I do value the love and care which went into it. It's written in typical planner-ese, but it's essentially a love letter to Newburyport.

I agree that the debate over the elements in the Master Plan needs to continue. I would argue that at some point on some topics, such as the 'Riverfront' (in the words of the Master Plan), the debate will soon need to be replaced by action.

In terms of the municipal utility idea, I'm just dropping a seed (hint, hint) which others more in the know might pick up. In the upcoming term, I'm going to stay focused on charter reform, development, education, and senior center...and snow calls from constituents which I'm already getting and I haven't even been sworn in yet;-). That said, the municipal utility idea appeals to me: basically anytime a community can take more responsibility for its own destiny is a winner for me. In terms of what this might look like in reality, I haven't done the research. I imagine the muni could take over power generation and/or distribution. I'm not proposing a coal-fired generator (no kidding) but the greener (and more local) technologies might be a good fit for us.

Tom, Do you want a silver, white, or black Nano?

Cheers, Ed

Ari said...

I won't respond to the energy comments, other than say I'm glad to see new ideas! The about-to-be-formed energy advisory committee to the mayor will be answering many questions and brainstorming many ideas. I've been working with a variety of residents, both SEED affiliated and other, to define the mission and streamline the objectives. And with over a dozen interested residents, each with tremendous backgrounds, this will be a very worthwhile group.

Oh, and Ed, I've been reading your blog for some time now, so glad to see you're writing more.