Friday, May 29, 2009

Newburyport Election 2009

As of today, I'm planning on running for re-election as Ward 4 Councillor. But with the possibility of a vacancy in the Mayor's office and the impact that might have on all the races, I am interested in keeping my options open.

On Tuesday May 26, I pulled nomination papers for three offices: Ward 4 Councillor, Councillor-At-Large, and Mayor.

Signatures need to be submitted at the end of July, so I'll make a decision as we get closer to that time.

I hope more candidates step up to run for all the races--Mayor, Council At-Large and Ward, and School Committee--as well as get involved in the on-going Charter Review effort. More involvement in the political process is going to make our community stronger.

Ed Cameron

Monday, May 25, 2009

Boards and Commissions

As a first term Councillor, one of the things that has impressed me is the expertise and commitment of the many volunteers who serve the City. There have been a few things that have depressed me but I'll leave that to another post. The work of volunteer Boards and Commissions is extremely important to the success of Newburyport.

Here's a list of City of Newburyport Boards and Commissions which can also be found at
































The work is often quietly done behind the scenes, usually not covered by the press and usually with no audience.

In terms of recruitment, sometimes you'll see a notice in the Daily News or Current about an opening (the Harbor Commission recently posted an opening in the Daily News daily briefs), but most times the appointment process is behind the scenes. I'm not suggesting any malfeasance but I am suggesting that it's not a very efficient way to find the 'talent' that undoubtedly is out in the community.

Because these Boards and Commission often are dealing with the likes of developers with deep pockets filled with legal expertise and landfill operators with profit in their hearts, I think it best that we go into this in a very deliberate way.

I am suggesting two incremental changes to the way Newburyport does business which I think will foster improved civic involvement.

1) Open Recruitment
At the local level, Methuen has an application form where the resident checks off their interests and attaches a resume.
We should do the same. This would be easy to track. As each application and attached resume is received, it could be logged in an Access database or Excel spreadsheet checking off the Boards and Commissions the person is interested in. Keep the application on file. Every time there's an opening, the Mayor could start with a pool of applicants already on hand.

2) More Transparency
The City of Salem doesn't have its recruitment process on-line but they do have the Boards and Commissions listed with meeting dates and a link to each entity here. Click on a link and you get that Board's member list, minutes and agendas.
We should establish a Boards and Commissions link on the homepage of the City's website ( The Boards and Commissions page would include a general application form, the list of Boards and Commissions, and members and dates of term --- as well as links to minutes. Right now you can find information on the City's Boards and Commissions but it's a hunt. The website has been much improved in the last year and centralizing this information would be a great next step.

Here's how the State is opening up the appointment process.

Here's some commentary on Blue Mass Group at

This new website may seem like a little thing. It's not -- actually, I think it's potentially huge. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of boards and commissions set up under state law. Most of them are unpaid, but many of them have direct influence over important areas of state policy. You can have real impact by serving on these things -- in fact, short of running for office, it might be your best way of doing that.
The State is tracking the openings in a fairly sophisticated way-- hey, they've got more money and more positions to track.

I think we should take the cue from the State and other communities and improve this very important volunteer element of our local government.

Councillor Ed Cameron

Monday, May 18, 2009

Senior Center Building Committee, Thursday, May 21

The Senior Center Building Committee is hosting a meeting for public input on Thursday, May 21 at 6:30PM at the Newburyport Public Library. Based on feedback from the public input meeting in April, the Committee will present ideas for the Senior Center at Cushing Park. For more information, please contact co-chairs Councillor Ed Cameron (at and Councillor Brian Derrivan (at

Saturday, May 16, 2009

State rep to council: Stop playing to the cameras

Okay, I fudged the Eagle Tribune headline which is really "State rep to Haverhill council: Stop playing to the cameras."

State Rep. Harriett Stanley said city councilors should stop playing to the TV cameras and start doing their part to solve the city's budget problems.

She also said city leaders are responsible for creating Haverhill's $7 million annual debt on the old city-owned Hale Hospital because they all but gave it away to a private company.

Stanley was responding to criticism from the council about Haverhill's Statehouse delegation at last week's meeting, televised on local cable TV. Comments from the council criticized the legislators for failing to bring Haverhill enough help in these trying economic times.

"The city councilors got the story they wanted and they expressed their frustration, but the way to deal with this is to knuckle down, work, and do it away from the TV cameras — where nothing has ever been solved," said Stanley, who along with Reps. Brian Dempsey, Barbara L'Italien and Sen. Steven Baddour make up Haverhill's legislative team. "The way to get this resolved is not to put on a show for the TV cameras."

I guess the moral of the story is NBPT isn't the only community in a financial pinch (duh!).

Check out the comments! Their Council meetings sound even more interesting than ours.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Waterfront Site Must Open To Public

"A renewed commitment on their part is necessary to open this site up to the general public, in a way that provides a public benefit for the city, its residents and our visitors," Glenn Haas, assistant commissioner of the [Dept. of Environmental Protection], said in a statement.
---Boston Globe, May 13, 2009

For one second this morning, I thought the Globe was covering my Council colleague and Chapter 91 advocate Larry McCavitt, but the story was about the Boston waterfront, not Newburyport's.

Worth a read:

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Anna Jaques Hospital Signage

Dear Ward 4 Neighbor:

The City Council's Public Safety Committee will meet on Thursday, May 7 at 4:30PM at City Hall to discuss an Order re Anna Jaques Hospital (AJH) directional signage. I wanted you to know about the meeting and also ask for any feedback from you in terms of the signage locations.

There are a variety of reasons to access the Hospital: patients needing to go to an appointment, patients rushing for an emergency situation, staff going to work, ambulances in a hurry, and delivery vehicles.

Since the Access Road opened, the Hospital has worked with its vendors on delivery routes. While an emergency obviously requires the quickest route, the Hospital has worked with Ambulance services to minimize local impact.

In February, I sponsored two Orders to increase usage of the Access Road off Low Street, designed to reduce reliance on the narrow residential streets such as Hunter Drive, Rawson Avenue, Lafayette Street, Arlington Street, and Highland Avenue.

The Council passed the first Order which simply removed signage on Low St/Hunter Drive and put a sign across from the Access Road on Low Street.

At the same time a more complicated Order on overall Hospital signage across the City was referred to the Council's Public Safety Committee. This is the Committee which deals with traffic issues. I've inserted the language of that Order at the bottom.

This second Order removes and adds signs to direct routine patient and staff traffic to Low Street and the Access Road. In other words, if you're coming to AJH from Route 95, you'll be directed down Low Street at Storey Ave. If you're coming to AJH from the Chain Bridge, you'll be directed around to Low Street via Storey Ave. If you're coming to AJH from Rt. 1, you'll be directed to Low Street.

That said, I'm also in favor of retaining the signage on High Street at the base of Rawson Ave. If you're coming to AJH from High Street (ie North End) area, I think it makes sense for people to go up Rawson, especially in the event of a more immediate need, rather than route them all the way around to Low Street. The bottom line is that Rawson will still have much less traffic than it has in the past.

In Committee at the meeting this Thursday, there will be an opportunity to make any changes/removals/additions to this overall list. The most likely scenario is that this will be worked on in Committee, then brought back to the full Council.

Again please let me know if you have any feedback or any questions.

Thank you,

Ed Cameron
Ward 4 City Councillor

Be It Hereby Ordered, That pursuant to Code Section 13-46 Placement of Devices the City Council is hereby authorized and required to place and maintain all official traffic signs, markings and safety zones and, more specifically, order and state as follows:

Remove current Hospital directional signage from intersection of Toppans Lane and Highland Avenue.

Remove current Hospital directional signage from High Street in front of Atkinson Common.

Remove current Hospital directional signage from Carey Avenue at intersection of High Street and Carey Avenue.

Add Hospital directional signage in two places to Route 1 Rotary under two existing Route 1 North signs.

Add Hospital directional signage at intersection of Pond Street and High Street under existing Route 1 sign.

Add Hospital directional signage at Northwest corner of intersection of Low Street, Route 1, and Pond Street. Signage would face towards Pond Street.

Add Hospital directional signage at North side of Low Street opposite Graf Road. Signage would face towards Graf Road.

Add Hospital directional signage (double-sided) on Storey Ave at Southern corner of intersection of Storey Avenue and Low Street. Signage would point down Low Street.

Add Hospital directional signage on Spofford Street near Moseley Woods. Signage would point South down Spofford Street.

Add Hospital directional signage on Ferry Road at Southwest corner of intersection of Ferry Road and Noble Street. Signage would point down Noble Street.

Add Hospital directional signage on Southern side of Storey Avenue opposite intersection of Storey Avenue and Noble Street. Signage would point West down Storey Avenue

Change direction of current Hospital directional signage at Northeast corner of intersection of Toppans Lane and Low Street to point straight.