Inside Stories

A Bundle of “Joy”

New Mayor Danny Rourke’s ability to fly through an agenda will be put to serious test when the Lowell City Council meets this coming Tuesday.

The agenda features 23-motions, which by itself is a high number. However, two of those motions are requests to re-file 52-motions that were dropped in a change from past procedure when a council term ends and motion responses were not completed by the City Manager’s Administration.

With one of Councilor Erik Gitschier’s motions requesting 33 previous motions he’d sponsored or co-sponsored, and one of Councilor Kim Scott’s requesting 19 of hers being re-filed, there are 73-motions in all written on the agenda. Hopefully for Mayor Rourke, and for “the Lowell Citizen’s” day-after meeting recap on InsideLowell, a simple bundling is allowed and they don’t have to be read one by one.

Besides that interesting note, there are five motions filed by Councilor Corey Robinson, providing plenty of opportunity for us to determine whether there is any further parliamentary gamesmanship to play out, as there had been at the end of 2023 when Robinson’s motions were either tabled or bundled and voted down.

For my money, the City Manager’s responses hold the most interest for the upcoming session.

Motion response “D” lays out the City Solicitor’s recommendation for a mechanism to censure a councilor. In that response, the Solicitor recommends following the Haverhill model, which calls for more than a simple majority of the council to pass a censure, though he does include the caveat “the city council can (and should) tailor the rule around what it believes to be best for the Lowell City Council”

The final Manager’s response involves the succession plan in the case a councilor does not finish out the term. Again, Solicitor Corey Williams comes front and center, ruling that in the case of more than one candidate, Massachusetts law dictates that in a Plan E form of government, the next highest vote-getter shall assume the post.

You’ll recall, that is how the situation was handled when School Committee member Andy Descoteaux resigned and was replaced by Susie Chhoun, who lost the head-to-head District race against him.

In the case of a Councilor who ran unopposed not completing the term, Williams cites state law requiring the position be filled by vote of the remaining members.

For those of us hoping a special election was required under such circumstances, as is the case in State Representative or Senate races, the Solicitor’s determination is a bit of a letdown. He does note a home rule petition to the State Legislature could change that, though he also reminds us such an effort was made in 2021 but the Bill died in committee. The Bill was re-filed during the current session, with no action taken as of yet.

2 responses to “A Bundle of “Joy””

  1. Sabrow says:

    I still believe innocent until proven guilty.

    Get on with the city business.

  2. GMP says:

    What happens if “a resident of Lowell” registers to speak on every re-filed motion?

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