The Position Pages
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Hello, Citizens
About Calvin
My Pledge
Services Provided by City Councilor
My approach to constituent service to Lynn citizens is simple: Allow me to represent each and every one of them who cannot represent him or her self. My presence sitting in the council chambers, committee meetings, and neighborhood events is as a proxy for the residents. In order to carry out that end I propose the following:

--I will appoint a liaison for each of the Precincts to advise me on a regular basis just what the 'pulse' is of their neighborhood. Each Precinct Liaison will be an additional 'eye and ear' for me in my communication within the city. I will consult with this liaison team prior to any major vote in the city council chambers.
--I will conduct public access meetings routinely in each Precinct wherein I would be available personally for access by all citizens.
--As a strong supporter of the stipend designated to each City Councilor, I feel it is valuable to the grassroots quality of the neighborhoods. I will distribute those funds in a fair and equitable manner . . . with a total accounting record available for viewing. This goes, as well, for the July 4 'block party' funds.
--Part of the stipend would go to provide a regular communiqué from me to the citizens of Lynn. This communication tool would go a long way to keep the residents informed of vital city issues.
--I will make myself available virtually "24/7" through my personal phone number. And NO ONE has a greater record of returning calls and issuing followup actions . . . COUNT ON THAT!
--While it is important to attend lots of meetings and functions, it is merely the basic minimum expected of a councilor . . . after all, he or she works for the citizens! My vision of Councilor transcends that to include being "in the trenches," actually doing hands-on, proactive work alongside the citizens. I challenge anyone to be more involved in meaningful and successful endeavors than this candidate. I go to meetings . . . and I am out in the real world, too.

Vision for Lynn
From the moment I moved to the Sagamore Hill neighborhood, I was impressed with the physical beauty of Lynn, from the shore to the Highlands, High Rock Park and Tower, to the Woods. I am the guy you frequently see jaunting all over the city on my bicycle although I own road vehicles. This is the way I view the city ... slow, up-close, intimate. It is the way I see the precious gems and diamonds-in-the-rough that comprise this city neighborhood. It is the way I am inspired to do what I can to help string the pearls of Lynn together.

Lynn is a city in flux as we bridge the cultural mixes between the last century and the present one. Lynn's turn-of-the-(last) century, ladies' shoe capitol of the world and shopping destination heritage is giving way to a truly diverse international living and shopping experience. The faces and languages and lifestyles are forever evolving. we must work together . . . as a true community . . . to embrace the cultural mosaic that is our city. In the New England tradition, we must welcome newcomers, learn from them, teach them about us, sincerely wish to reach out to each other, and share in the truly international spirit that is known as . . . community. My vision of Lynn is to evolve together as a city and neighborhood to reaffirm a genuine community pride. Let's work together, play together, experience highs and lows together, groom the streets and yards together, shovel snow together, look out for our youth, elderly and infirm together ...

Now, more than ever, we all need each other. As a Councilor, I will work tirelessly to promote that vision. An example set by elected officials breaking down the 'us and them' barrier between citizens and government goes a long way to achieve harmony.

Union Street Corridor
We are living in an exciting time in Lynn's history. Can you sense it? The metamorphosis in the downtown area is like looking at a fresh bite from an apple . . . the sepia tones eke in, entering one's consciousness so gradually that you do not notice the change. Suddenly, it seems, the color has appeared.

From the newly-vibrant nucleus of Central Square radiates the Union Street shopping corridor. This once-and-future commercial and culinary center is poised on the brink of reinventing itself.

A consistent, unified, concerted effort by business and property owners to clean and maintain their own and adjacent public spaces is essential. A model which comes to mind is the former "Keep Melrose Clean & Green" program. Attractive floral and graphic elements in addition to washing, painting, and grooming business frontages goes a long way to increasing shopper foot traffic. Coordinated themes utilizing banners and slogans and stressing customer service and product mix work wonders to boost interest. The artery is a symbiotic partner with the exploding arts-in-residence movement down the street.

Now is the time for city and business leaders to commit to a cohesive and focused effort to reestablish Union Street as the spoke linking the hub of Central Square with the residential neighborhoods. Half-hearted and failed attempts in years past have sapped some of the creative energies of those responsible for the lifeblood of this corridor. It is time to get the pragmatic and artistic juices flowing again. It is time for making Union Street, a geo-cultural center and 'backbone' of Lynn a top priority. The current street work and tree planting of the utilities project are a perfect opportunity to coordinate a post-construction plan. The citizens of Lynn deserve nothing less.

Youth Issues in Lynn
The challenges of being young in Lynn are those typical of a moderate-sized city which has faced the loss of major labor opportunities, the waning of a bustling civic/commercial city central, and the immigration of scores of cultures and dialects during the past decades. Culture shock is not the least of the factors. As familiar faces and lifestyles give way to more and more diversity, youth and their parents feel a fragmentation of their comfortable norms. Long-term and newer residents alike feel less secure and the concept of 'community' gives way to isolation. Cliques, cults, and gangs form as a way to feel connected and familial.

As the public and private business and economic standards change, so do the demands and opportunities of seeking after-school and summer activities. Jobs and after-school programs have long been vital for youth to be constructive and responsible. In bleak economic times, some of this stability is the first to go. Then starts the slide down the slippery slope of idle time, questionable role models, and lack of resources for enhancement of life and self-worth.

This is the time for all city, school, commercial, and social agencies and private groups and individuals to unite behind our youth . . . our most precious resource. During the lean times, all sectors must earmark, in some creative manner, resources for youth. Employment and mentoring opportunities, space and activities to provide positive outlets for physical and mental energies, imaginative programs to promote diversity and to break down the cultural barriers are all needed. This does not mean spending more of the money that is not available anyway . . . that's where the creative part comes in! Numerous, small donations do a lot. Spaces and programs already exist. We must push volunteerism as a social norm and utilize older youth to teach and oversee younger ones, and so on . . .

Good solid organizations such as Girls, Inc., YMCA, Boys' and Girls' Clubs, RawArts, LynnArts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and various church- and fraternal group-sponsored clubs need to be maintained and expanded. The overall themes of inclusion, diversity, strong ideals, civic contribution, anti-bullying and social values are crucial to the effort of preparing our youth to inherit our world. A commitment by city leaders to never compromise this obligation is our responsibility to the Lynn of now and tomorrow. It DOES take a village to raise a child.

Assorted Briefs . . .
Some radically common-sense approaches to responsible and creative revenues, spending, and services
During the boom years of the 1990's, when revenues were up and spending could spiral, where was the voice of reason in Lynn city government advocating creating various "rainy day funds" to tide the city over during the upcoming and inevitable downturn and stabilization? Only the most naive of minds could think that the bubble would continue to grow ad infinitum without bursting or deflating.

A voice of reason at this city's municipal level would have taken the realistic and pragmatic approach which every citizen and business owner does as a matter of course . . . live within one's means. What a concept! When times are good, hold back x% at all hiring and spending levels. Then it will be less severe when a downward ripple occurs. The myth that if you have it, you should spend it, must be shattered! If not, the 'financial bulimia' approach to city spending will continue, out of synch. Every time a financial trend bends one way or another (and curves always do), there will be the binge and purge of school expansions and closings, personnel hiring and firing, and uneven services, at best.

A basic requirement for any orderly and balanced process is interdepartmental consistency and cooperation. Loose cannons and miscommunications lead to prodigal ends. Examples abound of wasted opportunities to save resources in many city departments. It is time to rethink some procedures that exist merely "because we've always done it that way!"

It is a "no-brainer" that city policy should mandate the department-by-department, every x-year periodic review of all fees for city services. Several years ago, when the city needed to find more sources for money, department heads found fee structures had gone unchanged for decades. A periodic, keeping-up-with-inflation adjustment would prevent the sudden, seemingly-exorbitant fee hikes that are shifting the financial balance of many Lynn citizens. (Again, with the binge and purge effect!) Lynn citizens deserve true "management," not city officials who react from crisis to crisis.
Funds to help the able-bodied homeless with resources and jobs are down. --Countless storefronts and windows downtown are in need of washing and painting. --Why not coordinate the right balance of public and private sector programs to create one where everyone benefits? . . . . job-seekers perform services tidying up merchants' facades which improves business which stimulates the economy to . . . that's right . . . create new jobs! This does not have to be an FDR era program or a 'make work' project to shovel money at. Similar programs exist elsewhere. They can be replicated. Why reinvent the wheel? This is just one example of combining needs and solutions for the betterment of all. A pervasive atmosphere encouraging this creative and pragmatic approach is long overdue in City Hall. Some voice has to set the example.
While I am "thinking outside the box," let's muse about . . . the BIG box. Currently, the City of Somerville is creating a new neighborhood for shopping including so-called "big box" retailers and an array of smaller, specialty stores in the upcoming Assembly Square renovation. The much-touted homewares chain IKEA is the prime 'anchor' store vying for space. Opponents and proponents in Somerville have engaged in contentious debate for years, and the process stalled, but is now coming to fruition.

Enter Lynn, with the need and desire for the type of drawing power and revenues an IKEA-type store would bring. (There's even a large and conspicuously-empty building just off the Lynnway from when that snack food firm quietly left town one night.) And I envision a region of major-brand outlet stores or the like in the Central Square, Munroe, Union, and Market Street area interspersed with cafes and art galleries and specialty shops. Our city would become the true center of a teeming NoBo (NOrth of BOston) region instead of a place to drive through on the way to Salem and Marblehead.

IKEA's corporate types have a strict formula for selecting sites for their stores: near major highways, and so forth. Lynn Office of Economic and Community Development informed me of a study a few years ago concluding that Lynn lacked a few criteria for an outlet store district. What is there to lose by looking at it all again with the new elements of the Big Dig, the impending Blue Line extension, and the improved transportation center on Union Street? Throw into the mix any tax breaks (with enforced stipulations!) and deals the EDIC can use to help incubate new enterprises and a well-presented pitch to the players just might fly.

It's worth a try. Picture the once and future Lynn: shoppers from all over strolling throughout the downtown area arriving by mass transit and parking cars at the ample parking facilities. Bistros, restaurants, art galleries, theaters, shops and stores, will draw and entice. The mainstream public will rediscover the magnificent Lynn shore and beaches. Hotels and inns will be built. Lynn will once again be a destination!

There is already a good start. Droves of inner-Boston customers already take trains and cars here to patronize legendary retailers such as Zimman's fabrics. They tell me, "Yeh, I know Zimman's . . . it's across from that ugly shopping center!" (I'm just the messenger here!) . . . We can do better, coordinate and update our commerce to grow our retail and tourist trade. It will take imagination and vision and tenacity but it can be done. The now clichéd idea from that movie does, indeed fit: let us build it . . . they will come.

The City of Lynn is in dire need of an overseer of aesthetics in some form. There is no excuse for properties-in-transition and awaiting development to be an eyesore. The excitement surrounding adjacent renovations is tempered which one glances not far away to see weed-infested, litter-strewn, lots surrounded by ugly chain link fences in disrepair. Consistent and enforced standards must be the norm for these properties. Property owners, banks, and developers must be held responsible for the curb appeal of their parcels. The rules and regulations are on the books . . . or they should be written. Fines must be levied and collected in order to put teeth in the regulations. The city does not have to be "hard-nosed" about it if every case is treated equally. The city is in renaissance . . . there will be constant building and re-building for the foreseeable future. The citizens of Lynn are prime for having colorful signage on maintained lots announcing such things as: "COMING SOON: SOMETHING WONDERFUL!" followed by a list of the sponsoring investors and government agencies. It would be informative, stimulating for the citizens, and would show careful and planned progress.

In a similar vein, notorious owners of chronically grotesque, unkempt businesses or properties deemed health and public nuisances should be dealt with swiftly and consistently. The city multi-task forces must make this priority one. No time should be wasted in entering the property, cleaning it up, and having the expenses of those actions levied against the landlords. If they do not pay the taxes and liens, the property should be seized permanently and sold quickly. The time has come. And surely, this goes for all back taxes, as well. There is no excuse for the incredible amount of delinquent taxes in Lynn. Lynn, can, in general, take cues from the team overseeing Chelsea during the period that city was in receivership: A large portion of getting the city solvent again lay in common-sense measures . . . actually collecting the fines and fees and taxes!
Arts After Hours co-founder and Central Square activist Corey Jackson says Lynn needs a master plan . . . period. --- I concur.
We must finally settle issue of the contaminated GE land. This could be a perfect site for commercial, auto repair, shopping, despite the ban on serving "food" on the site. I envision "Shoe City Studios" going there as "Hollywood East." A commissary could be across the street.
It is time to face the reality that sooner, not later, a Commonwealth-wide or even nationwide ban on smoking in public will be the law of the land. What must occur, in order to maintain civil harmony, is a consistent and all-inclusive policy . . . . planned now, not later.

Smokers have rights. So do non-smokers. The legislation will declare public air and space as, essentially, neutral territory which may not be contaminated with secondhand smoke. The key lies in not just banning the smoke but by accommodating the smokers, as well. Leading-edge firms and establishments are taking the initiative to calmly and coolly introduce albeit small but segregated and comfortable outdoor areas for smokers. New constructions in the future will undoubtedly include such plans from the outset. Society will evolve and adapt; we will go with the flow. This creative approach is welcomed by both sides as an alternative to doing the 'smokers' loiter' outside on the sidewalk, dropping butts on the ground, and blowing smoke in the public's face!

As the no-public-smoking trend is continuing through health codes, fire regulations, and legislation through the USA, the hyperbole and conjecture have been replaced by precedents and track records: A few establishments may claim a significant loss in business, but a vast majority are now embracing this smoke-ban concept, as long as it is enforced universally, to create a level playing field. And the often-predicted "X-factor" seems to be a reality . . . patrons who once shunned smoky businesses have re-emerged into the fold. A good many testimonials admit business is better than ever!

So there it is. The Earth did not shift on its axis. Smoking bans are coming to a world near all of us. It is time to take the high road. As an occasional smoker of antique pipes, I will personally miss being able to relax while watching the fragrant Captain Black blend curl from my late father's old briarwood pipe as I am sipping a glass of Pinot in a lounge. But I know that if one chooses to live in a society, then the social whole must be considered. It is the example I wish to set for the next generation.

I am heartened that the Lynn Health Department has begun a public-hearing process on this issue; I urge the debate to tack toward falling in line with the inevitable future of accommodating those who choose to smoke.

Responses to Candidate Questionnaire from NEIGHBOR TO NEIGHBOR - LYNN
[August 2003]
1) What is the number one need in the community that made you decide to run for City Council?
As a civic activist, I have had occasion to contact my representatives and officials in City Hall for guidance and action on several items. The follow-up rate was abysmal and lacking in vision. My neighbors throughout the city echoed my feelings. So, I decided to run for Councilor in order to eliminate the weak link between the citizens and the city. All residents deserve a consistent, equitable, and accountable voice for community dialogue in government as we meet the challenges of this millennium.
2) What are you top three priorities for the City of Lynn?
a) Human services/quality of life issues, i.e., jobs, affordable housing, life-preparatory education.
b) Accessibility of governmental processes by those in "the trenches" . . . the citizens. Activism should be encouraged, not stifled.
c) A city-wide outreach to all citizens to break down prejudice and embrace the cultural mosaic.

3) How do you plan to address the affordable housing crisis in Lynn?
I will push tirelessly for Lynn's optimum shore of federal funds for LHAND-type projects. We also must be creative as we appeal to public and private sector landlords to earmark significant portions of present and future housing for low and moderate income households. A close look at maintaining and incorporating proper, safe "inlaw" dwellings and rooming houses into the mix is called for. A large number of abandoned buildings of all kinds are potential housing opportunities which should be explored. I support the 'infill" concept in housing renewal while keeping an eye out for the concerns of density. Above all, landlords must be convinced to not gouge our populace by inflating so-called 'market values.'
4) Education
In the wake of Question 2 (the ballot initiative that eliminated bilingual education), what is your plan for training teachers to work with English Language Learners who are placed in mainstream classrooms?
I have no plan at this time. I will work closely with education and social-agency officials in order to collectively deal with the mandated initiative. Above all, the students and their futures are top priority.
Do you support two-way bilingual immersion programs? Will you ask for a two-way program in Lynn?
Due to the unique cultural mix in Lynn, I would support a home-rule drive to allow our city some latitude to implement a two-way bilingual immersion program.
What is your position on all-day Kindergarten?
I support the concept of all-day K. I will explore ways to fund such programs.
5) What will you do to address the gang problem in general? In particular, what is your position on the Anti-Gang Ordinance?
After-school programs, in-school role models, community-wide attention to the trend toward alienated youth coalescing into gangs is crucial. Positive outlets can allow a "youth gang" to be a "youth group." The only difference is their mission and attitude. I support the re-instatement of the Community Policing unit as soon as financially feasible and appreciate the work of the current Anti-Gang Unit. Both programs contribute markedly to helping at-risk youths find gang alternatives while keeping the hard-cores at bay.

A so-called 'Anti-Gang Ordinance' does not exist in Lynn. Several nearby cities have implemented such programs and their results bear study. There is no need to 'reinvent the wheel.' Let us see what works and what does not and formulate from there. Lynn has recently taken a look at upping enforcement of existing gang-related ordinances in order to address the problem. Those consist primarily of enforcing curfews, noise, and vandalism regulations for everyone. As City Councilor, I will make it a priority to place fair and effective laws on the books to discourage gang activities' negative elements. We, as a society, must tread carefully as we wend our way through the mire of civil liberties. There is a fine line between keeping order for the commonweal and crossing into harassment and profiling. The balance must be maintained to assure order AND civil liberties. (Please refer to my position page on 'Youth Issues.')
6) What plans do you have to support elderly residents of Lynn? What can the city do to address the affordable health care crisis for Seniors?
My voting record as a member of the Citizens' Advisory Board of the Office of Economic and Community Development indicates my support for Lynn's programs. I consider the Lynn Health Task Force, the Lynn Community Health Center, and Union Hospital to be models of what is needed. Free/subsidized care of the most vulnerable is essential and our moral obligation. A community approach to taking care of each other is the only way. I am encouraged by the recent resurgence of interest in national health care by the medical profession. It is about time. I will lobby and support fast-tracking such a plan. I advocate creative housing solutions such as matching senior "roommates" for mutual financial and social benefit and daily phone call or visit reassurance drives. Perhaps the US Postal Service could become involved as the letter carriers visit dwellings regularly.
7) How would you promote business in Lynn's Hispanic, Cambodian, and other minority communities?
I feel that the Union Street corridor has a good start as a multicultural shopping, service, and cuisine experience. A cohesive and coordinated approach to reach out and build bridges between all ethnic groups is key to successfully melding commerce and diversity. (Please refer to my position papers regarding Union Street, assorted economic briefs, and my vision for Lynn.
8) What will you do to protect Lynn's most vulnerable residents from massive State budget cuts to essential services?
As councilor I will encourage the State and Federal legislative delegations to maximize revenues to assure a 'safety net' for the most needy. This, combined with enlisting more residents to be involved with the political process and work with local service groups will go a long way to protect our citizens.
9) In the face of drastic cuts to local aid, what are your priorities for funding in the City Budget?
It is important to maintain at least level funding in the categories of vital human services. Maximizing revenues, conservative spending, and establishment of 'rainy day funds' will help get through the lean times.
10) Will you support the Stop the Cuts campaign to restore the State income tax rate to 5.9% and close corporate tax loopholes?
Sounds good to me.
11) Will you attend the Public Forum on the State Budget Crisis at Lynn Classical High School, Monday, September 8, at 6 p. m.?
Yes. It is on my calendar and I am recruiting others to attend.
12) How will you reach out to the Hispanic, Cambodian, and other minority communities?
As City Councilor, I will reach out to every faction of the populace through a regular communiqué, monthly "town meeting" forums in each precinct. I will create a citizens' liaison team comprised of representatives from each ward; and will include representatives from all cultures on these task forces. I already have advisors to my campaign representing diverse genders, nationalities, and orientation of affection. We are all multi-hued threads in life's tapestry. We must ensure our community does not unravel.
[Note: While written in 2003, before the Commonwealth's smoking ban, the gist is still sound.]
Contact: 781-599-4538
Paid for by: Anderson's Your Voice Committee, David Olson, Fiscal Agent