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July 30, 2007


more city jobs??

Hey bill, if its true that the city is suppose to have two fence viewers, a wood and bark measurer, and a grain weigher than it looks like the mayor better get busy and fill those jobs or else he'll be in violation, right?

Born Here

I hear Boss Hogg has a few relatives that are experts in the fence and bark mulch fields.

it *is* funny

Interesting article Bill. Thanks. What would be the process for eliminating the school committee? (I also have no idea what they do) Would it require a vote by the citizenry or could the Mayor/BOA do it?


Bill, great article, as usual. I have no idea either what the school committee does. Why don't these individuals have to provide detailed accounts of hours spent and activities carried out during each quarter?



Thanks for the chuckles.... If half of the comments and actions you attribute to others where factual it might even be interesting...but I sense your ramblings on this site go without any editorial check.... As for the charter- YAWN- the last time someone suggested a change was Michael Capuano.... if he couldnt generate interest- I dont see your advocacy being a plus- but hey thanks for the updates and the continued chuckles.


Ron Newman

Which statements are not factual?

Let's Save $70,000/year

Since the next election day will show NOONE on the ballot for School Committee, Ward 4, this is an excellent time to discuss eliminating the committee. Their only power is to hire the Superintendent. They oversee the budget, curriculum and procedures but can only make recommendations. Many of the current members seem to be there to hear themselves talk!

Ignatius Reilly

Get rid of all these boards (including the BOA) and "agencies". Unless the service is vital (fire/police/sanitation) do not fund it from city revenues (TAXES!). Cut our taxes, reduce the other ham fisted taxes (tickets/fees/fines) and then allow private enterprise or charities to support all these silly artsy-fartsy, earthy-crunchy feel good programs.

Give all the power to the mayor and a very select group of managers that he gets to select. This would eliminate all these boards/groups who meet and never make a decision or act on anything - they just waste our tax $$$. We need a DECIDER - someone who does the right thing and doesn't care what people think or say.


"We need a DECIDER - someone who does the right thing and doesn't care what people think or say."

Because that's worked soooo well on a National level.

You're either a parody of Conservatism or you've got some sort of problem(s).


Ignatius, I don't agree but I do agree. I don't think we need to abolish the BOA and committees, we need them as a check on the top so as no one gets to powerful. However, for a city of roughly 80,000 people I do question the need for all of these new "Cliche" agencies and programs. One of the reasons our taxes are so high has to do with the size of our city government. Ideally, besides police, fire and schools, I don't see the need for say SomerState and ResiState. Really what are these programs besides another facless layor of bureaucracy that uses numbers as apposed to listening to people. Look at Boston, one of Meninos top deciders is a numbers person who said that the numbers showed Boston needed a decrease in cops in order to pay for the numerous usless jobs in the city. We all know how that ended up. Why not cut back on Public Policy grads from Lexington demanding $60,000 plus a year to do what any competant person could do anyways.

HL Menken


I observe that you still haven't answered Ron Newman's question. Thanks for the chuckles.


It seems that Observer may not be an "observer" after all but mostly making stuff up.

a somerville developers' victim

1) beside an elected city auditor with an independent budget, Somerville needs:

an elected city attorney with an independent budget, and a
an elected inspector general with an independent budget

2) the problem in Cambridge is that the City Manager controls all the jobs, and the City employees vote as he wishes in Cambridge municipal elections. many more votes then are needed to unelect a troublesome city councilor

otherwise, the instant runoff system is great. it lets any minority that can get 11.2% of the votes have a seat on the council. in effect, creating flexible districts that are not geographically based, instead of wards as we have in Somerville

one solution is to not have a city manager, just have the department heads report directly to the council

3) the real problem in Somerville is that there are not enough voters concerned with how poorly ran the city is, including the development at any cost culture, political patronage, and the ability to buy favors with campaign. granted real citizen involvement, the current charter could be made to work

Bill Shelton

it “is” funny,

Somehow I missed your question last week. I’m sorry.

As far as I know, no Massachusetts city of town has been able to eliminate the School Committee. Through a Home Rule petition, Boston was able to make it an appointed rather than elected body. I’m doubt that we need to give even more power to the position of mayor now.

I’m a strong believer in local control. But since the Massachusetts Educational Reform Act of 1993, municipalities have very little ability to shape their schools. For example, the School Committee cannot change the curriculum. It can only change the order in which certain subjects are taught.

Other than selecting the Superintendent, there’s little that the School Committee can do, other than to exert moral authority. To do that, they need to be forceful in articulating a vision and holding up a mirror as to whether that vision is being pursued. Their strategic planning effort this year could be a beginning. Some say it was watered down. We’ll see what happens.

School Councils could be a wonderful way in which neighborhoods could also exert moral authority on their local schools. We haven’t seen much School Council activity in Somerville.

Because the School Committee has so little influence, important changes have to come through the Legislature. I like the work that Carl Sciortino is doing to change MCAS. Since the implementation of MCAS, the state drop out rate has gone up 30%.

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