What’s on Mac Bell’s Mind: Challenges, Issues, and Opportunities Facing Gloucester MA

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Side by SideThanks for this opportunity . . . .                      

First of all, I want to express my respect for the political process, and my excitement at being a part of it. One of my goals is to initiate a serious discussion about the issues facing us. I believe such a dialog will be to everyone’s benefit. I don’t have all the answers; no single person does. But, owing to my two terms as a Gloucester city councilor, and a lifetime of involvement in local affairs, I am familiar, first hand, with the history and subtlety of many of the questions. I have the energy to seek and evaluate answers, and I have the professional experience to assess and enact solutions. Along with my interest and involvement in Gloucester politics, I am a businessman. And that’s part of what I bring to this process. In politics, if you make a lot of mistakes, you don’t get re-elected. In business, if you make a lot of mistakes, you face more serious consequences. I want to move forward with this level of seriousness, attention, and purpose.

The big question is, how do we want to run our city government? Do we want to settle for, and keep going along with, the status quo and lack of leadership, commitment, and the desire to serve? I don’t. We have got to vote for some change here.
Issues we need to discuss…

There are several major challenges facing us as a city, and I think they are the issues we need to discuss. They are organically related, and you really can’t talk about one of them without evoking them all. But if I had to list them, the list would be something like:

  • Waterfront revitalization
  • Commitment to our educational system
  • Infrastructure challenges

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Getting to YES on the Waterfront

The “Working Waterfront” is not working – primarily because of the negative climate in which local property owners and business people have to work.  Read more . . .

What Were They Thinking When They Bought I4-C2?

I4-C2 – that bedraggled vacant lot between the Building Center and the Gloucester House – is the poster child for this sad state of affairs. Read more . . .

Raising the Bar on Education—We Don’t Need to Reinvent the Wheel

Community involvement, consensus, execution. These are the elements we need to keep in mind when thinking about our educational system as a whole, and about the future of our young people. Read more . . .

Cleaning House . . .

Think about City Hall. There ought to be efficiency in the placement of city offices – from the consumer’s point of view, where you get your building permit, fire inspection pay your taxes, etc.  Read more . . .

Moving Forward

I believe that government’s job is public education, public safety, water, sewer and roads. We need to maintain a focus on basic services, not bloated bureaucracy.

In my 40 years of business and political experience, I’ve always considered service all-important. I believe it’s equally important in the attitude within our city government.

When I am elected Mayor, consider me, and my entire administration, “at your service!”

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Mac’s Blog

Welcome to my blog, an evolving collection of material dedicated to engaging healthy dialog, revitalizing the culture and economy of our beloved city, and energizing you to vote in the upcoming election. I’ll be moving and shaking this fall, making sure I grasp your concerns and you see my strengths and passion. Check in regularly for important and fun events, videos, pictures, and vital information about what’s at stake for Gloucester in 2013 and beyond.

I am fiscally conservative and socially liberal—and this just might be the perfect combination to help Glosta thrive.
 

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I Am Ready to Listen, I Am Ready to Lead

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081012379sThree hundred years ago, Gloucester built the first Schooner. In ten short years, we will be celebrating our city’s 400th Anniversary.

Right now, however, Gloucester faces significant fiscal and infrastructure challenges. Additionally, we are in a period of momentous change. For a number of reasons, our most historic industry has dwindled. Gloucester Harbor, our magnificent resource, faces atrophy and decay. This is a critical moment for us. “Business as usual” will not meet these challenges. We must decide where we are as a city, where we want to be, and how we want to get there.

I grew up here, raised a family here, made a living here. I love this city, but I am concerned about our future.

From my early fight to save the Fishermen’s Institute to my ongoing support of groups like GSB10Wellspring and the Gloucester Education Foundation, I have been a community activist, working with friends and neighbors to make Gloucester a better place.

I’ve been a businessman in Gloucester since 1971. For the past 28 years I’ve run a successful commercial real estate company involved in renovation, revitalization and re-use. Currently, I own and manage more than $25 million in property. This is serious business, with little room for error. It requires concentration, dedication, and the ability to function under pressure. Success comes from listening, learning, communicating, and collaborating.

I want to bring this seriousness of purpose to working as Gloucester’s mayor. I want to use what I’ve learned as a businessman to:

-Get Gloucester’s working waterfront working once again. This should be Job #1.

-Trim the self-serving bureaucracy that has developed in Gloucester and is strangling economic growth. Our city needs an administration that truly respects the taxpayer.

-Increase our support for education, education, EDUCATION! We need to work with and support our educators, and insure adequate funding and a long range plan for our school system. We need to set academic goals and achieve them.

130612154-Emphasize Gloucester’s unique history, topography and natural resources to develop a program of experiential education for students at all levels of educational need.

-Use my experience in real estate to develop short and long terms plans for I4-C2 and Fuller School, insuring the best and highest use for each.

-Link Gloucester with other east coast fishing ports to challenge NOAA’s bad science. We have to be willing to work with other fishing communities to get our priorities heard. Collaboration is key.

-Redefine the boundaries and the terms of DPA to stimulate the vitality of Gloucester Harbor. Develop a Deed Restriction Agreement to prevent gentrification and maintain diversity on our working waterfront.

-Start planning NOW for Gloucester’s 400th Anniversary. This is an unprecedented opportunity to put Gloucester on the national map, and to grow a powerful “visitor based economy,” reinventing Gloucester as an international environmental and outdoor activities destination – creating jobs and tax revenue.

-Re-establish Charter review, create term limits and staggered elections, and eliminate the current 131030117sadministration’s culture of “career politicians” and increased pension liabilities. Cleaning up our city government is essential.

I have the energy, the experience, and the love of Gloucester to take on our challenges, but I can’t do it alone. You can help by voting for me, but that is only the beginning. I will be looking for your ideas, your goals, and your VISIONS. I am ready to listen. I am ready to lead.

Let’s Get Started. Let’s set goals and get them done. Let’s utilize all of our fabulous resources of people and place. My administration will be “At your Service!”

Please vote for me, Mac Bell, this November 5th.

 

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Voting 101

Ballot.

We know you don’t need this information, being the savvy, politically active genius you are. But perhaps a friend might need a reminder about what to expect at the polls, where to go, and how to get there. Get the basics here to make yourself heard, while having a fun and smooth experience next Tuesday, November 5th.

Polls are open from 7am to 8pm and the precincts are listed here. Parking shouldn’t be a problem, and anyone in line by 8pm may stay in line and vote. This time frame should accommodate all citizens, but talk to your employer if you foresee a schedule problem. If you are unsure about your registration status, call the city clerk’s office at 978-281-9720 ex. 6, as there is no list online.

If you moved within the last 2 years but never registered your new address with the city, you must vote at the polling station that matches your old address, as the city thinks you still live there. Again, just call the city clerk’s office for your registered address and appropriate precinct.

If you arrive at the wrong polling station, no problem! Every station has a complete list of registered Gloucester voters, and they will direct you to the right location. Gloucester’s election specialist will place each ward’s registered voters list outside each polling station by Monday for your reference.

If your name is not on any list in Gloucester, don’t worry; you can cast a provisional ballot and the Board of Registrars will research your case. Within 2 days the city will correct any errors and count your vote. Absentee ballots can be submitted until Monday, Nov. 4, at noon.

Massachusetts does not require IDs to vote but bring one just to be safe, as IDs are necessary if the identification you used to register doesn’t match the info already in the state’s database. Phones must be off while voting, and no campaign-related material or clothing can come within 150 feet of a polling station. (Yes, our gorgeous VOTE stickers will have to be covered up for just a little while.)

All precincts are handicap accessible and have an AutoMARK® ballot-marking system device, which assists with a variety of impairments. The machine helps people simply make their mark, and the ballot is submitted physically in the standard way.

In past elections, City Clerk Bob Whynott personally drove disabled citizens to the polls, and even though he is running for city council this year the offer stands. “I’m only one man, but feel free to call me on my cell, 978 729 3504, if you need help getting to a polling station next Tuesday. If I don’t have time for everyone we can figure something out.”

Bob Whynott is passionate about voting, and has participated in every city, state, and national election and primary since he was 21 (excluding one primary when his flight was cancelled). “I take voting very seriously,” he says. “People died in foxholes to give us this right, and we must honor them by using our right.”

Robert Ryan, GM of the Cape Ann Transportation Authority, is happy to provide complimentary bus rides for seniors from all elderly complexes, via the Business Express Loop. Busses will shuttle voters to and from the polling stations every hour on the hour from 7am to 6pm. “We are lucky to have this service on Cape Ann, and I’m happy to participate in the election process,” Robert says.

Unofficial results will be available around 9:30 or 10pm on Tuesday night, says the clerk’s office. Results will be posted on the city website and at city hall, and the Associated Press will be alerted, so all news sources will know swiftly as well.

Polling Places

Ward 1 Precinct 1
East Gloucester Elementary School
8 Davis Street Extension

Ward 1 Precinct 2TURNOUT METER
Veterans Memorial School
11 Webster Street

Ward 2 Precinct 1
Our Lady’s Youth Center
140 Prospect Street

Ward 2 Precinct 2
Our Lady’s Youth Center
140 Prospect Street
(Changed from McPherson Park
to Our Lady’s Youth Center
on 10/01/2012)

Ward 3 Precinct 1
Veteran’s Center
12 Emerson Avenue

Ward 3 Precinct 2
First Baptist Church
38 Gloucester Avenue

Ward 4 Precinct 1
Beeman Memorial School
138 Cherry Street

Ward 4 Precinct 2
Lanesville Community Center
8 Vulcan Street

Ward 5 Precinct 1
Magnolia Library Center
1 Lexington Avenue

Ward 5 Precinct 2
West Parish Elementary School
10 Concord Street

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Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights

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I believe that government’s job is public
education, public safety, water, sewer and
roads. We need to maintain a focus on basic
services, not bloated bureaucracy.
In my 40 years of business and political
experience, I’ve always considered service
all-important. I believe it’s equally important
in the attitude within our city government.
When I am elected Mayor, consider me, and
my entire administration “at your service!”

-Mac Bell

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Bill of Rights

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Waterfront Revitalization

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We all know that the “working waterfront” isn’t working very well. The reasons for this are as complex as the solutions to the problem. For example, consider the fact that New Bedford’s waterfront is mostly municipally owned, yet Gloucester’s waterfront consists of small parcels of land owned by individuals. The harbor teems with different voices, different agendas, and differing areas of expertise.

In order for our diverse interests to flourish in a harmonious, well-orchestrated manner—while protecting the industries that are part of Gloucester’s core identity—we need streamlined laws and administrative procedures highly attuned to today’s resources, political forces, and economic interests. The present situation is exactly the opposite.

harbormap1A tangle of boards, laws, and diverging intentions at the city, state, and federal levels are strangling development on our harbor – whether it be the ancient Chapter 91 (established in 1866) or the more recent  Designated Port Area, which was created in the 1980s to serve oil and gas interests.

This confused and confusing situation, along with environmental changes, has led to atrophy and decay.  Currently, about 50 of 74 harbor front properties are less than 50% utilized. Gloucester harbor should  be our “economic engine,” but for the last thirty years there has been little reinvestment in the working waterfront. In terms of taxes generated, the engine is running backwards.  And guess who’s picking up the slack? That’s right – You.  The taxpayer.

Part of the problem is that this tangle of restrictions does not allow room for what potential investors – from one-man operations to larger companies – now need to be profitable. We’re “saving the harbor,” all right. But who are we saving it for?  Does anyone seriously believe that a future marine science boom or (wonder of wonders) a renewed commercial fishery would be able to utilize the waterfront in its present run down state? The problem is systemic; another consultant or research grant will not solve anything.

We have to act on this situation, not just study it.

I propose to redefine the DPA boundaries to stretch from the Coast Guard Station to the state fish pier. If anyone outside this zone wants to opt in, that’s fine. Within the entire harbor let’s keep the DPA restrictions for ground-floor use unchanged. But I believe we should open up allowable uses in any other part of a building to comply with present zoning for mixed use.

Will this lead to gentrification? Absolutely not.1394082_508924005864466_152075354_n

We can protect the waterfront with a Deed Restriction on all new development. Basically this Deed Restriction would be an agreement that the property owner, his tenants, and anyone occupying or using the property will have to accept – 24/7/365 – the deed restriction that the diversity of ambient noises, smells, and commotion generated by hard working people on the waterfront are acceptable. No one will be there except the people who really want to be there.

A general rule of thumb is that for every job on a fishing boat there are 6 supporting jobs on land in the form of processors, dockside maintenance, engineers, etc. The needs of recreational boaters operate at about the same ratio, in demand for the services of restaurants, hotels, outfitters and other businesses supplying outdoor activities.

The differing needs of commercial and sport fisheries are not an either/or situation, as some self-interested people would have you believe. A marina adhering to a pre-determined ratio between commercial and recreational vessels will not infringe on a future fishing comeback. It will create the jobs we need now to survive—even thrive—while we search for the fish or marine biotech firms that will come to our harbor.

131014195I think we can take pages out of other successful working waterfront communities. We can see what they’re doing right, and what they’re doing wrong. Harbors up and down the east and west coasts have a lot to teach us, and we can adapt these lessons to conditions here.

Obviously, our waterfront challenges cannot be solved all at once. There are no magic wands to wave over our ailing waterfront to make it the place it was 50 years ago. Instead, we have something better: 30,000 passionate citizens with a share in Gloucester’s future.

We have a wonderful opportunity to educate ourselves, collaborate with others, and make the right decisions and get our waterfront working.

Join me in this revitalization, and vote for me on November 5th!

 

 

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Mac’s Maritime Favorites

 

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All-time favorite, Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

Spanning forty years, this is the story of turbulent Tom Wingo, his gifted and troubled twin sister Savannah, and their struggle to triumph over the dark and tragic legacy of the extraordinary family into which they were born.

Master-and-Commander-288368

 

Long, long journey, 21-book super escape, Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brien

Against a thrilling backdrop of the Napoleonic wars, the details of a life aboard a man-of-war are faultlessly rendered.

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