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July 28, 2008


Somerville n00b

Sounds like we are in a paradictatorship. Charter needs to be revised. I'm on board. Where do I sign?


Bill, you really got a hair across your you-know-what against Joe. So your bright idea is to have people like Rebeccah (a friggin' looney tune moonbat if I ever saw one!) with more power and the ability to piss money of our tax dollars down the toilet? Brrrriiiiiliant!

I've asked you before to please, please (for the love of all that is holy in this world) layoff the weed - it has affected your thought process (what little you had to begin with) in a negative way. Thank you for your time and I hope you heed my advice (re: weed consumption).


Agreed, the one most affected by any charter change (Mayor) should not control the charter commission. He gives the appearance of wanting change, yet by selecting the commission he is controlling the outcome. A standard political practice for anyone who does not want real change only the appearance of wanting reform.. Reform will only come when it is not controlled by the current elected officials.


In theory, I'm on board too. It's clear that concentrated control is not a good thing, but sometimes having too much democracy gets in the way of progress. You need to have good leaders that pave the way. If you vote on every major issue, change takes forever.

On a related, but different point...
People love to point to Cambridge as a good example of what Somerville could become. However, are we really sure about HOW Cambridge became so successful? I'm not sure we do. We know that they have a strong corporate tax base, and that has helped in many ways. But how much of their success wouldn't have happened if they had a strong mayor form of government? I don't know.

Sure, Somerville's mayor likes to stamp his name on every Somerville success. But aren't we essentially doing the same thing when we look at Cambridge as our role model? You can't simply say xyz was in place when this success took place, so xyz is a good thing. Too often we attribute Cambridge's governing body success in the same way that Somerville's mayor attributes his success. The government in place had some role, but it wasn't always the only driving force that made the success happen.


I agree. It is foolish to think that a group of people handpicked by the mayor will support anything other than his agenda. If the people of this city truly want change then we must be the ones who initiate it. Let me know where and when I can sign on to this petition .

Bill Shelton


Please continue to attack me whenever possible. It enhances by credibility.

Bill Shelton

A long look at Cambridge should convince anyone that the council/manager form of municipal government is not a panacea. I do advocate it for Somerville because it's the best way to transform a decades out-of-date political culture that is holding Somerville back from realizing its full potential and capitalzing on the extraodinary talents of its citizens.

I've written extensively on the different paths that Cambridge and Somerville took from the post-war era when their economies were very similar. In brief, Cambridge undertook a series of land transformations--Kendall Square, Lechmere, Alewife, University Park--that attracted thriving, office-based and R&D businesses.

Meanwhile, Somerville's leaders traded favors with a series of unimaginative developers. In contrast to Cambridge, Somerville converted its old factory buildings to housing, which is taxed at only two-thirds the rate of commercial properties, but produces twice as much municipal cost.

Today, we have a structural budget deficit and two working residents for every job. Cambridge has two jobs for every working resident.

Somerville n00b

Talking about factories... What's gonna happen to that old factory just off the Lowell bridge? Anyone knows?

The Mole

Let's get that paper rolling around the City Mr. Bill. You got my email address so let me know where to pick it up and I'll walk the City.

The Mole


Bill, any chance you can move to Cambridge and leave us alone? You weren't even here for the 60/70/80s... why do you pontificate on those times?

Cambridge has MIT (Kendall) and Harvard (Harvard/Alewife) which attracts more business - we have wanna-be-cambridgeville-moonbats. There is a difference. oh.... and there are 5 T stops in Cambridge... 1 in Somerville and that one got ruined by the limpwristed liberals.

You know that old saying "better to not write and just let people think you're a moron then to write more and erase all doubt" -- heed it.


Not only did the city manage to trade the factory buildings for tired mall ideas, they (ok, we) closed down one of the few factories that was left - much to the sorrow of the owner and the people employed there! All this for a few cash register jobs, lots of hot top, and enough vehicle miles to qualify as a NASCAR satellite! I'm told that the mixed used development that we turned down before the present mess (along with an $8 million payment) is already built out and renting - across the river.

The even worse news, if the recession deepens maybe we won't even get the big boxes - saw in the paper that there has been almost no new high-end mall development nationally for almost a year and commercial loans for things like development are in the toilet. We may wind up back where we were at the beginning of all the Assembly Square ruckus - empty buildings, cracked pavement, and lots of seagull crap. If this is what the strong mayoral system gets us - bring on a different form of government!

There is a small silver lining - the empty parking lots at Assembly Sq. were where I taught three kids to drive, maybe we'll get that space back again?


Bill, you've made some good points, but I want to continue to play devil's advocate here.

You say that Cambridge and Somerville started from the same point (more or less), but they progressed in different ways. The investments/choices made has brought us to where we are now. ie, Cambridge has desirable finances, Somerville does not. I could argue that each city took different risks, and at the time those risks were taken, either set of choices could have looked positive/favorable depending on the perspective taken. It took time to see which set of choices would actually be better. Now looking back, it is clear that Cambridge made better choices, but did anyone REALLY know that then?

The choices that led up to what Davis Square is now is an example where Somerville made good choices, even though it had a strong mayor form of government. At the time those choices were made, there were many that thought that Davis Square should be converted into a large shopping mall with a huge parking facility. In the 1970s, most thought that that was the "right way" to develop. Who really knew which would actually be better for Somerville? Nobody really. The city took risks, and they turned out favorably (that time).

So why would a form of city government with more voices make better risk choices for the future of their city? History has taught us that often the masses are completely wrong, and sometimes it takes a great leader(s) to go against common thinking to make progress for the betterment of the masses.

Bill Shelton


You make preceptive and important points. Cambridge had two extraordinary assets that Somerville did not have--Harvard and MIT--although many Cambridge residents of 50 years ago merely considered them a non-tax-paying burden. So how did Cambridge find the vision to turn them into the greatest new-business generators in the world?

While there were more Cambridge voices advocating proactive economic development back in the day than there were Somerville voices, and Cambridge city government was more responsive, the initiative really gained momentum because of an historical accident. Cambridge had acquired and cleared the land around Kendall Sq., to be used as the site of NASA's research center.

When JFK was assassinated, LBJ moved it to Houston. Cambridge had a big whole to fill. But they were smart enough not to fill it piecemeal. They conducted a land transformation.

A single developer really can't manage a project of 25 acres or more. Smart cities set the vision, encode it in zoning laws, and recruit developers who have the will and the capacity to build to the city's vision, and hold them to it. That's what Cambridge did, and that's what Somerville never did.

Cambridge also had the wisdom to learn from it's own experience. Somerville (government) did not learn from either its, or its next-door-neighbor's experiences. Cambridge went on to do Lechmere, University Park, Cambridge Research Center, and so on.

When a city takes this kind of direction, other resources, opinion makers, business interests, developers, and infrastructure investments line up. Example: even though Imux lived through that period, he doesn't understand that Cambridge's 5 transit stations were more the result of, rather than the cause of, Cambridge's economic development success.

So there were always advocates of the "right" way in Cambridge, but that city's success in pursuing it was part accident and part the result of a different political culture and government structure.

Gerry Mimno, who was Cambridge's Economic Development Director throughout this period, is still around and is a great source of information. He's living in Waltham now, but is quite approachable.


As it happens, IKEA's business is counter-cyclical to the broader economy. That is, when the economy goes down, more people buy cheap IKEA's cheap furniture. With Good Times gone, the land owner has lost substantial rental revenue that offset its carrying costs. So the Good Times demo will start next September, with IKEA projected to open a year from then.


You are the best evidence that reciting the last sentence of your post to the moron in question will have no impact on his behavior.


Stay tuned.

Wig Zamore

I have not made a study of this but in 60 seconds you can find the following:

A 2002 public health study available from the national library of medicine suggests that the gun related homicide mortality rates in the top 6 gun owning states were 4.2 times the rates of the bottom 4 gun owning states, for the 10 years from 1988 through 1997. The non-gun related homicide rates were also higher in the gun owning states - but only 60% higher not 320% higher as in the gun-related category. Both homicide rates were higher in every age category in the gun heavy states - 0-4, 5-14,15-24,25-34,35-44,45-54,55-64 and >64.

Regards, Wig

PubMed Cite:

Am J Public Health. 2002 December; 92(12): 1988–1993. PMCID: PMC1447364

Copyright © American Journal of Public Health 2002

Rates of Household Firearm Ownership and Homicide Across US Regions and States, 1988–1997

Matthew Miller, MD, MPH, ScD, Deborah Azrael, MS, PhD, and David Hemenway, PhD


hey bill,you keep comparing somerville to cambridge. why?cambridge has almost twice the size , population and commercial tax base as somerville. cambridge has two major colleges,miles of riverfront facing boston,a pond,four major squares,harvard,central,porter and inman. seven transit stops and the land area to support them.i don't know how many hotels,night clubs and restaurants,but i do know it is many more than somerville. you say this is because they have a city manager and that is a more effective form of governmant? chelsea has a city manager,how is that working out.lowell has a city manager,hey,maybe you should move there. you would have a bigger voice in government there. which is all you really care would get to have input without actually running a campaign and having to get people to like you.lets talk about the four year term. boston has it, malden has it. there are more cities with four year terms than there are with city managers.why don't you advocate for that? all i can say is the owners of this paper must love you, you do a great job of getting idiots like me to respond to the nonsense that you write about.mission accomplisted!.....if you run your life the way you are fixing your house then i understand you now...i'm going to bet anything you name it. that your house takes longer to complete than the lowell st bridge.....

Bill Shelton

Well, I was wondering when I would hear from you, Nose.

It's hard to know whether you are skimming what I've written, or can't help yourself from imposing your own meaning on anything that you read.

You begin by saying, "hey bill, you keep comparing somerville to cambridge. why?" A re-read will show that I did no such thing in my column, and in the commentary, I have merely responded to others' comparisons between the two cities.

And those comparisons came in exchanges that were narrowly focused on economic development policy. The even more narrow mention of Cambridge's form of government came when I said that Cambridge's "success in pursuing [its economic development policy] was part accident and part the result of a different political culture and government structure." If you disagree with that very narrow statement, please explain why. It would make better reading that cheap shots do.

The next sentence was "I do advocate it for Somerville because it's the best way to transform a decades out-of-date political culture that is holding Somerville back from realizing its full potential and capitalizing on the extraordinary talents of its citizens."

More broadly, I said, "A long look at Cambridge should convince anyone that the council/manager form of municipal government is not a panacea."

This is hardly praise. Yet you recite a litany of praise for Cambridge. Then you suggest that I explain the existence of things that YOU praise as the result of their council/manager form of government. Nope. Re-read the last paraqraph. Once again, your projections, not my words.

In your praises for Cambridge, I'm not sure that your perceptions are entirely accurate. Cambridge's population is 30% greater than Somerville's, not double. It's land area is 56% greater, although that difference declines when you discount the part of Cambridge that is water. I'll give you the 7 transit stops if we double-count Porter, but most of those stops' exist because of Cambridge's proactive and successful economic development policy.

As for the pace of my house renovation, why don't you come by and give me a hand? I'll give you free beer and let you call me names.


Well said, Bill. You're a class act, and a good writer to boot- I look forward to your next column!



Every time that you post something here, it gives me a bad feeling. Mr. Shelton writes that Somerville’s political culture is not about looking at all available information to figure out what is best for the people. It’s about who you are “with.” That’s you to a T.

You have nothing to say in response to the serious points that Mr. Shelton raises. You don’t explain why you support a strong mayor or oppose a city manager. You don’t explain why aldermen do much less and get paid much more that when I was young. Or why they never oppose the mayor. Or why so many of their relatives are on the payroll.

You don’t say why you think that it’s good for the mayor to ignore the ethics reporting laws. Or why so many things that he says turn out not to be true. You just attack the writer.

However hatefully he does it, Imux says what he believes about these things, and he backs up his statements. What do you say? You crouch like a coward in the shadows and make comments about Mr. Shelton’s house or his employment. Is that some pathetic attempt to intimidate him? If you had the courage to tell us who you are, what could we say in a public discussion about how badly you raise your kids, or drive, or comb your hair, or how stupidly you manage your life? But would it be right for us to do that? I don’t think so.

What do you say? You say that you want Mr. Shelton to know that people don’t like him. Well he puts himself out here in his column every week, and I don’t think that he is trying to get people to like him. I don’t think that he is too worried about that. I like him, and I haven’t even met him.

Whenever anyone is unhappy with your meanness, you say that your family has been in politics for generations and run a business here, and that you really care. So? My family has been here for a long time too, and that doesn’t give me an excuse to act like a hateful coward.

I think that you are the one who is worried about being liked. Otherwise, why would you keep bringing it up? What does being liked have to do with the truth of anything that we discuss here? I bet that after you get locked up, the neighbors will say that they had no idea. They thought that you were such a quiet guy.


bill i love you. no really i do."holding somerville back from realizing its full potential and capitalizingo n the extraordinary talents of its citizens" translation are seven transit stops remind me of my son....say tons,mix in just enuff fiction with fact, and then smash them both together to make your point seen true. its good but, its bad but.can you say one thing and stick to it. you never addressed chelsea and lowell for me and their city manager statis, or the four year term ,which i know you HATE.ias far as your house bill,i dont really know how long the lowell st bridge took to rebuid, but i do know your house renovations will take longer. i'll come by to call you names but i dont want your beer.bye billand have a good night.

Truth Fan


Wow! You don't post here very often, but when you do I just have to stand back in awe. You go straight to the heart of the matter in the most human and powerful way. I would love to hear from you more often.


You are being incoherent. Based on your tragically damaged reading comprehension, we should not be surprised that you can't write intelligibly either.

Please re-read your last post and think about whether it expresses what you intended to. Then consider re-writing it so that someone other than you can understand it.

You scrawl, "you never addressed chelsea and lowell for me and their city manager statis" (sic).

What you wrote about Chelsea and Lowell wasn't exactly a question, but reading comprehension means that this "addresses" it: "A long look at Cambridge should convince anyone that the council/manager form of municipal government is not a panacea. I do advocate it for Somerville because it's the best way to transform a decades out-of-date political culture...."

Four year terms? What is there to "address?"

I understand that your hatred makes you just spew words without thinking about them. But if you want to be more effectively hateful, please try to make yourself understandable.

And if you want to be taken seriously, you might take Citizen's suggestion and say something about the matters being discussed instead of just attacking the discussants.


There should be more people like Mr. Shelton in Somerville.


Folks, nose has proven time and time again that Bill is as dumb as a bag of rocks. This does not make Bill a bad guy, but his opinions are wanted around here about as much as I'd want a herpes blister.

This is just a partial list of Bill's recent stupidity; it is is no way to be taken as a complete of his idiotic positions. First, it's obvious that Bill has an ax to grind against the mayor and any alderman that isn't a farleft, progressive, mooonbat. He was/is wrong on Assembly square (Mystic View was a bunch of obstructionists), wrong on his support for Osama-Obama, wrong on his analysis of "fine particles" off 93 polluting us all, wrong on his revisionist history of city politics and wrong on changing the city charter.

Just ask one question! Are we better today than we were before Joe became mayor? Yes. Also, the Cambridge system is the most politicized system - and Bill wants that! I like Bill, but Bill should go back to Cali and harvest his weed.


Actually, Imux, it is pretty obvious that anything you write is plagiarized from right wing propaganda sites. At least, Bill Shelton has an informed opinion. You have a hole in place of a brain, you have never contributed anything of substance to this site.

Bill Shelton

That's a pretty good starting inventory, Imus. And yes, it's getting near harvest time at the ole pot plantation. I hear the gentle eventide songs of the field hands calling me back, even as I write this.

Bill Shelton


Sorry to neglect you. If you really want me to "address" Chelsea and Lowell...

After Chelsea went into receivership, the citizens were sick of the corruption and mismanagement of a STRONG MAYOR form of government. In 1994, they voted by a 3-to-2 margin to direct the Receiver to submit a new council-manager Charter to the Legislature. It’s been a tough road, but Chelsea is slowly, slowly coming back from the disaster created by corrupt STRONG MAYOR politics.

I doubt that Lowell ever had a strong-mayor government, since it’s never had a major corruption scandal. Instead, de-industrialization hit it exceptionally hard. But under its council/manager form of government, it’s coming back too, and faster than Chelsea. Old industrial areas are being rebuilt, and inner-city neighborhoods, renovated. It would be nice if Somerville had a piece of the A bio-tech and nano-tech industry that is emerging in Lowell.


Hey Bill,
Looking forward to your next series of columns. Hopefully, you'll leave the mayor alone for a spell (I like the dude) and tackle another important issue like the fraying nerves of business owners around Union Square.


Why do people ask Bill for his opinions? Bill couldn't find his ass with both hands. He knows nothing about Lowell and even less about Somerville.

Bill, just stick to doing your home improvements. They need to be done.

Somerville n00b

It is obvious to everyone that Mr Shelton writes some of the best columns here. It is also obvious that Imux is a wannabe clown who cannot anybody who's better than he is. That's why he hates everybody and spends his life in an alcoholic trance.


You know, John Buonomo was very much a part of Somerville's old opportunistic political culture. These alleged acts take opportunism to an extreme. But they are part and parcel of the self-serving spoils system that we see operated by the mayor and some aldermen.

Yes, change is past due.

And Imux, you're joking about Lowell, right? Without even thinking about it, Bill's hard evidence runs rings around your and Nosey's mindless knee jerks.


omg...instead of punching lowell into google i have a great idea...i want truth fan and citizen to go pick bill up some friday night around midnight and take a ride to chelsea or lowell and hang out for awhile, ya know knock down a few beers with the common folk. i'm in lowell twice a week and pass through chelsea almost every day in the summer. they both have city managers and they are both filthy. every other house is boarded up and being used as a crack house. their coming up just fine. in another 30 years they might be as nice a city as lawrence. im serious, instead of reading up on these places and commenting, leave your houses once in awhile and experience life first hand. im not trying to be a jerk,although im pretty good at it,for real get your asses out there.we live in one of the finest cities in the commonwealth. i've said it time and again that we dont have much to complain about.yes we can be better and we should strive to be better.......when will any of you challenge mr bill? do you both, truth fan and citizen, agree with everything that bill writes. do you have an independent thought? again for ythe millionth time, i like bill,but he isnt always 100% correct on every issue every time. what bothers me is that he thinks he is! you put five people like bill in a room to make a decision and you will come up with zilch, cuz they all have to be the smartest and no one will conclusion,leave the mayor alone. let him live and die with his decisions. things could be worse, we could have elected john,want me to take a look at that copy machine for you,buonomo

Fool on the Hill

I think that there is really something to that, Diogenes. Since I was a kid, politics here was about winning all of the marbles. Once you were mayor, you got to give away the jobs, trade the favors, and take what you wanted. It's this mentality that makes Joe Curtatone think that he can just pick a committee to change the City Charter as he pleases.

Bill Shelton


I have to say that I am painfully aware of my own shortcomings, and I have never imagined that I am "100% correct on every issue every time."

I make serious factual errors. You have accurately pointed out some of those in the past, for example, the time that I named the wrong McKenna. I subsequently acknowledged and explained my error, but you rightly pointed out that the people whom it would hurt, were already hurt by it.

Sometimes I feel so strongly about a particular issue, only to be proven wrong by subsequent history and personal experience.

I believe that only God knows the Truth. We humans can't know a fact without simultaneously giving it meaning that may or may not be true. So I try to explain my assumptions, I try to not exclude any known facts that would contradict my position, and I leave it to others to evaluate what I've said and show me where I've erred.

For me, you're a lot more helpful when you do that, and when you counter what I say by describing your own position and the experience/facts that it is based on (as you just did) than when you attack me and ridicule my poor dilapidated house.

Either way, please keep posting.

Somerville n00b

I suppose Joe has some of Mussolini's blood in his veins.

Somerville n00b

Bill, only the Spaghetti Monster, who is more powerful than God, knows the real truth. God only knows a version of the truth, though more complete than the one humans have access to. I just wanted to clarify this point.


hey bill, amen, and good night

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