Wednesday, January 28, 2009


The Crow Lane debacle has always been a confusing one to sort out--multiple stakeholders, conflicting agendas, mistrust, litigation, threats of litigation, and the everpresent stench of Hydrogen Sulfide or H2S for the nearby residents.

I've never understood why the only solution on the table to the Everett problem is Newburyport. And that may have something to do with fact that I have little background in landfill operations, construction and demolition debris disposal, and all the engineering expertise required to understand this story.

You can find insight into the larger context of the debris industry here in this recent report commissioned by MassDEP. I've not heard this report referenced by any of the Newburyport folks involved in the Crow Lane situation. It's an interesting report and does discuss the gypsum and H2S connection. And does state that much current C&D from Massachusetts is heading out of state.

And of course, "[t]he opinions do not necessarily reflect MassDEP’s policies."

Monday, January 26, 2009

Families Need Help Too!

This information was given to me by Ward 4 residents Ruth and Charlie Lambert who have done a lot of great community work supporting persons and families dealing with mental health issues:

Families Need Help Too!
(Learning to live with Mental Illness in the Family)
The Family-to-Family program is a free course for the family members of persons who are affected with a serious mental illness brought to the community by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Mass) through a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health. Over 100,000 people have taken the course since its inception. The course begins on February 24, 2009 and meets in Newburyport in weekly sessions from 7pm until 9:30pm. The course is taught by two-three trained volunteer family members from NAMI Mass.
Family-to-Family utilizes a variety of teaching techniques and includes:
*information on specific mental illnesses
*Coping skills, handling crisis and relapse
*Listening and Communication skills
* Problem solving and limit setting; rehabilitation
* Empathy skills
*Self care
*Basic information on Medications
*Information on community support
*Advocacy; fighting stigma and discrimination
Class size is limited and fills up quickly
Please contact
Ruth or Charlie @ 978-462-2471
Joyce at 978-463-7835

Monday, January 12, 2009

Charter Review Kickoff Event, Thursday January 15

A group of local citizens, which includes Ed Cameron, Hugh Kelleher, Bonnie Sontag, and Chip Wyser, is sponsoring a Charter Review Kickoff Event on Thursday, January 15th at 7PM in the Newburyport City Hall Auditorium.

We believe that Newburyport will be best served by a government which is structured to deal with the many complexities of local governance: finances, education, infrastructure, taxes, public safety, labor negotiations, environment, development and the like. Newburyport's Charter was last modified in 1919.

Newburyport citizens who want to learn more about Charter Review are welcome especially those interested in volunteering to collect signatures for a petition over the next few months. Feel free to circulate this email to friends who might be interested. Please RSVP to if you can attend or if you want to be involved.


Ed Cameron


As background.....

"Charter" refers to a written instrument that defines the government structure under which a city and town operates, that may create local offices; distribute powers, duties and responsibilities among local offices; and that may establish and define certain procedures to be followed by a city or town government.

Newburyport's Charter was last modified in 1919, when the Mayor's term was changed from one-year to two-year. For example, Charter Review would look at whether the Mayor's term would stay the same or lengthen to 4-years or instead whether we should instead have a City Manager chosen by the City Council; whether the number of Councillors and terms should remain the same; whether certain Boards and Commissions are elected or appointed; etc.

This is a website that we've found helpful here from the State's website.

The process to review a Charter is very transparent and inclusive of public participation. Here is an outline of the process:

1) 15% of registered voters need to petition the City Council to order a local ballot question (SPRING 2009) STATUS: PETITIONS HAVE BEEN PRINTED AND ARE READY FOR DISTRIBUTION

2) the completed petition and signatures are certified as valid (MAY AND JUNE 2009)

3) the city council has 30 days to adopt the order and place the question on the ballet of the next regular election which may not be within the ensuing 60 days. (LATE SPRING 2009)

4) When votes are cast on the question of forming a charter commission, votes are simultaneously cast to elect the nine commission members who qualify for nomination through the collection of voter signatures. (NOV 2009)

5) If a majority of the voters approve the question, the top nine vote getters sit on the Charter Review Commission which is directed by statute to hold its first public hearing within 45 days of the election. (DEC 2009)

6) It must complete a preliminary report within 16 months, then publish and submit its preliminary report to the attorney general for an advisory opinion, (BY MARCH 2011)

7) the Commission completes its final report within two additional months (or 18 months from the election (BY MAY 2011)

8) Charter commission recommendations are then placed before the voters for acceptance or rejection. (NOV 2011)