Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Support Your Local Radio Station!!!

Yes, I know it's important to buy local. It's also important to listen local...especially when you can be greeted in the morning to the dulcet tones of Ed Cameron's new ad, one of the top two candidates for Ward 4 City Council. The ad is running in the morning weekdays up to the election.

I've been told that I have a face for radio and this ad proves it.

Give a listen at 1450AM for local news and interviews and cool music...and great Irish music on the weekend. Their website is


Monday, October 29, 2007

Waterfronts Gone Wrong

Lifted directly from their website at, Project for Public Spaces "is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build communities."

I stumbled across the website a few months ago and, lo and behold, it turns out that other citizens in Newburyport also find it a valuable resource.

Here are 7 Mistakes according to this group. The link is here.

Happy reading and thinking!

Ed Cameron

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Newburyport Mothers Club Forum

The Newburyport Mothers Club and the Institution for Savings sponsored a forum for candidates for School Committee, City Council, and Mayoral last night.

The Club has a membership of 500 in Newburyport alone and has done a great job organizing an important constituency.

Below is a summary of my remarks to the audience and you can also find Bruce Menin's comments on the forum here.

Summary for Newburyport Mothers Club, October 24, 2007

I want to thank the Newburyport Mothers Club and the Institution for Savings for sponsoring this forum.

My name is Ed Cameron and I'm running to represent Ward 4 on the City Council.

My wife Susanne, our daughter Anna, and I live on Oakland Street. And we feel blessed to live in a vibrant, historic, and beautiful city.

As working parents with a 4 year old who will enter Newburyport Public Schools next year and with our own parents now in their seventies, my wife and I are dealing with many of the day-to-day concerns you face.

In my personal and professional life, I've tried to match idealism and hope with pragmatism and a commitment to the hard work necessary for results.

With over twenty years of progressively responsible experience in the nonprofit and government sectors, I currently serve as Associate Executive Director for Housing and Homeless Services at Community Teamwork, Inc, a nonprofit in Lowell, where oversee a staff of 50 full time employees and a budget of $26 million. I also worked for the Mayor of the City of Boston and at the Pine Street Inn homeless shelter.

I have an MBA in Public and Nonprofit Management from Boston University and a BA in Government from Clark University in Worcester.

I want to focus on three areas:


The children of Newburyport may represent 18% of our population but they represent 100% of our future.

If classes sizes continue to rise, if teaching positions continue to be cut, if foreign language instruction continues to be foreign to elementary and middle school classrooms, and if sports, arts, music, and transportation are only available to those whose parents can afford them – we will all feel the impact in our property values, in our economic vitality, and in the strength of our community. And our children will most certainly feel the impact.

The City Council, the School Committee, and the Mayor need to demand excellence in our schools and -- with State officials, with school administration and with the teachers union --push for reforms and cost-efficiencies at all times - not just during budget crises. As a last resort -- and only if steps are taken by the teachers union and if impact is minimized to seniors on fixed income – I would be open to putting another override vote on the ballot.

Municipal Reform

Our current form of government with a two-year mayoral term does not work. We need a local government that is effective and efficient, which can move us beyond gridlock, paralysis, and inaction. As many other cities and towns have done, I want Newburyport to create a Charter Commission with members chosen by voters, not by current elected officials, to look at other options for governance. For instance, we would be better served either by:

  • a Mayor with a 4 year term with City Council terms remaining at 2 year or
  • a professional City Manager hired by the City Council.

A basic service provided by most other cities and towns is a senior center. After years of inaction, Newburyport seniors deserve a Senior Center. I share Mayor Moak's position on locating a Senior Center at Cushing Park retaining the current playground and some parking.


We need more than a stagnant downtown seasonal economy and a limited industrial sector if we are to have a strong tax base that places less burden on residential taxpayers. Because it has such great public value as destination open space and will complement the historic tourism of Newburyport, I am in favor of more park at the two dirt lots currently owned and managed by the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority. We should retain a limited amount of parking for senior and handicapped access. The citizens of Newburyport have spoken repeatedly in favor of this solution.

I believe I have the qualifications, energy and creativity to make a contribution. I'm asking not only for your vote on Tuesday, November 6th but also for your ideas and energy. With your support, we can make a difference.

Please feel free to contact me via email at, cell at 978-518-0786, or via my website and blog at

Thank you,

Ed Cameron

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Waterfront....again and again

The most depressing thing about being a candidate is that you find ample evidence of the old canard "The more things change, the more they stay the same." I came across this headline in the Daily News: "Design of Park Plan is Shown".....October 15, 1999. Cecil Group was involved then too.

Maybe it can happen now: we can create and maintain a waterfront public resource.

As reported in today's Daily News which you can find on your porch this morning or online at, the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority will be hosting a forum at 6PM, Wednesday October 24th at City Hall. This is an opportunity for the public to give its input into the 'what' question: What do we want to do on the waterfront park?

If you see me slipping out early, it will be because I'm on my way to the Newburyport Mothers Club Candidate Forum.

Here's one of my votes for the waterfront: a skating rink. Call me crazy but I think it would be a way to draw people down there during the winter. If you've been to Boston Common anytime in the past 5 years and seen the year-round Frog Pond and skating rink, you'll see what I mean. At a 'coffee' the other night, a Ward 4 voter talked about a public skating rink she had seen in Newport, RI. Not to take away from the outdoor skating at the Bartlett Mall, but I think it would be great if you had a little cafe for hot drinks and a place to rent skates.

Tom Salemi has an interesting post today about the waterfront and Mary Baker has many many great commentaries on her blog. A great resource for 'public spaces' is here.

Bring your ideas. Remember we need to pay for all this, which I think is eminently doable without breaking City finances.

Or we can all meet in 2015 and hash this out yet again.

Ed Cameron

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Newburyport to Wealth is like Red Sox to Offense

I went to the educational funding forum at the Nock Middle School on last Wednesday night, sponsored by the task force which is looking at ways to fund our public schools.

Featuring an excellent presentation by Dr. Ralph Orlando which really helped to de-mystify the State's educational funding formula AKA Chapter 70 and active facilitation by Dick Sullivan Jr, the bottom line is that the City should not expect the State and Federal government to solve our educational funding crisis anytime soon.

You can find Dr. Orlando's presentation here and the Newburyport Current article here.

I believe all School Committee candidates were there. Current member and candidate Bruce Menin's thoughts on the forum are here.

"Wealth" (ie property values and income) in Newburyport was a point of discussion. And when you look at all the relevant state statistics (ie the State pulls all the property assessment data and they strip the numbers off our State income tax forms, so it's pretty accurate), it is true we are a wealthy community on AVERAGE and by MEDIAN.

But if I stuck my left foot in a bucket of ice water and I stuck my right foot in boiling hot water, on average I'd be feeling pretty good.

Look at it another way. The Red Sox were 3rd in the American League in runs scored in 2007, a very good offensive team. However, we still had our Julio Lugos and JD Drews bringing up the rear in the regular season.

So yes, we're a wealthy community when you look at the average and the median compared to the rest of Massachusetts. But when you ask those on the lower end of that average wealth to pay more in taxes when they're already tapped, you will hear them scream like they stuck a foot in boiling water.

I don't blame them. Elected officials (and those hoping to be elected officials) ought to take these constituents' needs into account and find ways for tax fairness while at the same time we try to prevent our schools from being decimated again next fiscal year.

Ed Cameron

Monday, October 15, 2007

Stephen Karp, Norman Leventhal, and Development

Please check out an excellent post at the blog of my neighbor (full disclosure: friend and fellow Red Sox nut) Tom Salemi at Tom has found a video of a recent interview done with Mr. Karp on Nantucket. Although Mr. Karp was referencing Nantucket, the phrase "high-end consumer" stuck out for me.

And although I'm not a journalist like Tom, I did a little digging of my own at the Sec of State's database of the Corporations Division.

When you get to the search page, check Search by an Individual, then punch in "Stephen" for first name and "Karp" for last name.

You'll either be really impressed or really scared or maybe both. The man's been busy and not just in Nantucket and Newburyport....

All this talk of developers made me recall an interview in the Boston Globe Magazine with 90 year old Norman Leventhal, a man who created many outstanding Boston landmarks including Post Office Square which is a tremendous example of a successful public-private partnership.

Thinking of our own park/parking squabbles over our waterfront, I particularly loved this from the interview:

Q: Should the New England Patriots stadium have gone down on the waterfront, as was once proposed?

Leventhal: Idiotic! You don’t do that with the waterfront. The waterfront is too valuable.

One last comment about the waterfront: I recently stumbled upon a great website for the Project for Public Spaces. In particular, they have a great writeup on How to Turn Waterfronts Around.

You will find it interesting, I'm sure!


Ed Cameron

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Signs, Signs, Signs...

With activists like this... Newburyport's future is very bright!!!!

Left to Right: Future 2021 Mayoral Candidates Kelly Kane, 'Baby' (lower middle), Anna Cameron

Friday, October 5, 2007

Senior Center---Why, Where, and How

The most important and interesting aspect of campaigning door-to-door is simply asking voters what’s on their minds. Sometimes the answers are not what you expect.

In talking to seniors about a Newburyport Senior Center, a frequent comment I’ve gotten is “I’ll be dead before we have one.” Sometimes it’s said with a little grin, sometimes with a grimace.

When I say I support building a Senior Center -- I also have courageous stands on other controversial topics such as the Red Sox, the American flag, and Mom's apple pie -- a question I often get asked back is “How are we going to pay for it?” In fact, this is the best response a voter can give to any promises by a politician or candidate.

At the risk of touching another one of Newburyport’s third rails, I offer these thoughts.

Why Do We Need One and Where?

To me, it’s a basic city service just as we provide schools, libraries, roads and sidewalks. The services offered for seniors help to connect them to their peers, help them stay independent and active, and let them know that their community values their contributions.

Out of a total population of 17,000, Newburyport’s population over the age of 60 is over 3,000 and expected to rise to over 5,000 people as the baby boomers age in the next 20 years.

Salisbury recently renovated its senior center, Amesbury is building one as part of a transportation center (good idea!), and Newbury is looking to incorporate a new senior center into the Little River Transit Village.

Newburyport has been talking about this for years with sites ranging from the Armory on Low Street, the waterfront, and Cushing Park which has emerged as the preferred site under Mayors Clancy and Moak.

I think Cushing Park, while not perfect, is a viable site:

1) it is centrally located, some seniors will be able to walk there. While it is not close to senior housing located downtown, it is closer to senior housing located at Horton Terrace.

2) the City owns the land, lowering overall cost. Site control is key to any development project.

3) it can fit into the neighborhood and I would say this if I lived right there on Kent Street. It will look better than what is there now—a dilapidated parking lot. Snow emergency parking needs can be met by allowing parking on a designated side of a street.

How Do We Pay For It?

The cost of construction will be $5 million. On going operating costs will be similar to what is spent now, since many of these services are already delivered in multiple sites. I think we could also generate revenue by renting out conference space in a way that doesn't impact senior activities or the neighborhood.

Obviously, the City doesn't have $5 million tucked under the mattress. Cost of construction will need to be covered by a mix of fundraising, City and State funds (House Speaker Sal Dimasi pledged $600,000 in October 2004 according to the Octobe 8, 2004 Daily News), and we should also work with our U.S Senators and Congressman Tierney for assistance.

The excerpt below spells it out. According to the Daily News article “Moak begins process for senior center in Cushing Park” (March 8, 2007):

The mayor said once Cushing Park is set as the place for the senior center , the design process can continue, which will allow estimates and concept designs to be finished.

And with those documents in hand, Moak said, he can start a fundraising campaign to help pay for the center, which will decrease the direct cost to the city's taxpayers.

"It may be down the road a while before we ever get to this. But I have to find a location, because we can't do a design of the building until we have a location," Moak said. "And we can't begin to look for money through state or federal grants or local fundraising until we get a design."

The mayor has pushed for months to make Cushing Park the location of the senior center, which is estimated to cost $5 million. At the park now is a small playground and a large parking lot, used mostly by residents during snow emergencies. A senior center would eliminate some of that parking but preserve the playground.

Moak said there should be no concern about this project taking money away from this year's budget process. He said this represents the first step in a long process.

"I'm just getting it in line," he said. "This is not a competition of any money this year or even next fall."

The mayor said he is keeping the center on his horizon because during the last 12 years serving as mayor and city clerk, the need of a senior center has yet to be met. Doing this now, he said, is a way to keep the process moving.

The entire article can be found in the Daily News online archives at

I share the Mayor’s position on the Senior Center as do many current Councillors and candidates and many many seniors. Let’s keep the process moving. I’m 45 years old and I’d like to see it built while I’m still around.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Development--Tourists, Visit Us and Leave Your Car Behind

Why can't we do this in Newburyport? The blurb below (with a beautiful beach photo which I can't seem to import) is rotating on the homepage of

Escape to the beach with your bike through Columbus Day Weekend!

Our special Summer Weekend commuter rail has been so popular, we're extending service through October 8th, 2007. This handy short cut to the shore takes you and your bike from North Station to North Shore beaches for only $15.50 round trip. Our specially equipped Rockport Line Bike Coach accommodates 39 bikes and 42 passengers!

View Rockport Line Bike Coach schedule.

Read additional information about taking your bike on the T.

Personally, there are two types of people in the world I don't like: Yankee fans and tourists.

In both dislikes, I feel somewhat conflicted. As to the Yankees, I had the great fortune to marry a wonderful woman from Connecticut, who like her 4 grandparents, is a very devout Red Sox fan. Unfortunately, her parents (my in-laws) and her brothers (my brothers-in-law) pray to the pinstripes. Up until the 2004 World Series, this was a problem, but now we're doing okay.

As to tourists, I confess to being one myself. I've set foot in 41 of the 50 states, I've biked from San Francisco to LA, I've been to Scotland, England, France, Spain, Germany, Portugal, Denmark, Czech Republic, Belgium, Holland, China, Japan, Guatemala, Mexico, and Canada. I traveled so widely that my father, a Navy vet with politics somewhat to the right of Archie Bunker, was sure that I must be working for the CIA. Nope, I just like seeing places old and new.

I personally like being a tourist here in my own hometown, especially when there are few other tourists around.

I like what tourists' money can do for our local businesses. So I say, dear tourist, visit Newburyport, leave the car at home, use our bike paths which have caused so much local distress, go to our beloved Plum Island, spend your money, and keep our economy going.

Rockport? Let's talk to the MBTA and get our own promotion next year!