Tag Archives: Michael Gaffney

Attorneys have bullied legal advocates – including this one!

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Fair play – the AMERICAN way pic:R.T.

By Gordon Davis

Many opposing attorneys have bullied legal advocates with the threat of “practicing law without a license.”

The issue has come up in several of the cases I am working on:

In my lawsuit against Turtleboy, his lawyer, Margaret Melican, threatened to have me investigated for practicing law without a license.

Melican’s threat was hollow, as the venues in which I practice do not have a requirement of being a lawyer to represent clients. The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) allows non-attorneys to practice through the initial investigation. The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) and respective Housing Authorities do not require representatives of clients to be lawyers.

As a rule, all courts whether State or Federal, require representatives of clients to be lawyers. Of course, a person can represent himself as pro se. For both of my cases, Davis vs. Turtleboy, and Gaffney vs. Davis, I am a pro se party.

A lawyer’s value is found in his knowledge of court rules and legal concepts.

It is easy to confuse evidence with a charge or count. For example, in State courts denial of Federal FMLA cannot be a charge – but it can be evidence of bias. What lay person is familiar with the Courts’ rules for Interrogatories and their one year cutoff date?

Once, during an Investigative Conference at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) a lawyer for United Parcel Service (UPS) asserted to the Hearing Officer that I should not be allowed to represent my client. The Hearing Officer ignored him. The lawyer made the assertion a second time, and then the Hearing Officer said the Commission allows non-attorneys at this stage of proceedings.

It came up again today when I joined a blockade of a bank auction of a foreclosed house. The main organizer, Lori, told me of how a bank attorney shouted in court that she would face criminal charges for practicing law without a license. She was not sitting at the Defendant’s table, but in gallery.

The bank’s attorney was practicing intimidation and bullying.

For all of the cases in which the Worcester Anti Foreclosure Team (WAFT) supports homeowners, the homeowners are pro se. They represent themselves.

According to Lori, the banks’ attorneys have declared war on WAFT.

Why, I wondered, as the banks’ attorneys get paid either way. She said that with the approximately 34 cases of foreclosures being defended by pro se homeowners, the banks’ attorneys have to work harder and make relatively less money.

The law about licensed lawyers is applicable to disbarred attorneys or to someone who falsely represents themselves as an attorney.

I am not an attorney.

It has been my experience that there is a courtesy that other court officers extend to lawyers that is not extended to pro se parties. Many lawyers call each other “brother” or “sister.” If you are pro se, expect to face disrespect. I recall a case in which I shipped a box of papers to an attorney. The papers in the box were not stamped with a number, and I asked that the box be shipped back to me. My adversary refused and told me to come and get the papers. So I had to go to Boston and get a 40-pound box of papers.

I suppose all is fair in love and law.

Worcester City Councilor District 4 Sarai Rivera’s time has come …

By Rosalie Tirella

… to be mayor of Worcester, to lead our city, to reflect our city to the world, to advocate for its people – many struggling under the sledge hammer of racism and poverty. The languages, the music, the goals of our people – a new Worcester blooming every day – Rivera can understand them in ways that our Irish pols – the guys (and gals) who’ve lead our city for decades – can’t – no matter how empathetic and smart they are.

District 4 Worcester City Councilor Sarai Rivera should be Worcester’s next mayor.

It only makes sense.

It’s her time – it’s ours.

Providence, Lowell, San Francisco, Los Angeles – all these 21st century cities have mayors who reflect their hubs’ panache … souls. They fit each other…like a glove. The people look to their mayors for leadership because they are TRUE REPRESENTATIVES of their metropolises!

Rivera is where the city of Worcester is going. Is at! All the multi-colored, multi-ethnic, multi-tongued folks, many immigrants new to rough and tumble America, lots poor, lots at the mercy of drugs and guns and our mean streets, lots entrepreneurs looking to make it happen for them and their families in America. Filled with hope!

Our people, their complex dreams, our complex neighborhoods evolving in ways that Worcester City Councilor Michael Gaffney denigrates, exploits … for fear and racist votes. Ultimately, Gaffney doesn’t understand the city. He’s from Webster – don’t be too hard on the arrogant rube. Mike Gaffney is a nowhere pol. He is a throw back for all those voters in Worcester who want white, Catholic, Irish – a rap on the head with a wooden ruler for the kids in our public schools who disobey their teachers. A 1950 world where a Mareen Binenda, 65 and Irish, would make the perfect Worcester school superintendent. But old prejudices die hard!  Our Worcester School Committee members – terrified of district representation, terrified of losing their votes and POWER – have given almost ready for retirement Maureen the job! How incredulous!  How old Worcester!

The powerful will fight to hold onto their entrenched power until their intestines leak out.

Power: read: influence, great jobs, money, nice neighborhoods … THE WORKS. And the quiet forgotten Worcester middle class who pay the city’s bills will vote a Gaffney out of their prejudiced resentment at a city they can no longer understand and accept. …But they too cannot escape the real Worcester. Their xenophobic eyes can only be closed for so long! They can only rant and rave on Aidan Kearney’s racist blog for so long!  Former Woo School Committee woman Mary Mullaney’s son Aidan can carry on her prejudiced past for only so long!!

The numbers are against Kearney and Gaffney.

The numbers are for Rivera.

Our public schools are already majority minority.

Walk down our streets – mostly you’ll see people of color making their way down them.

When you cross Park Ave, our city neighborhoods – from Green Island to Piedmont to Vernon Hill to South Worcester to Webster Square to Downtown to Main South – are majority minority. Our old Catholic churches are dying, crumbling down …

It’s a new Woo – and I don’t mean the artisan bread eating boutique shopping white kids who,  if they left Worcester, would be replaced by white kids that GET THE REALITY OF OUR CITY. And would work to include people of color and the poor in their farmers markets, etc. And they would buy houses here. And their white little kids would go to school with Black and brown  little kids – and it would be a good fit. We don’t need to beg and crawl to the phonies. The right cool progressive Millenials will find us. The wrong ones will buy real estate in  the suburbs and move away and send their kids to the suburban schools! It’s always been this way in Gateway Cities. It’s self-correcting city living. The beat goes on!

I’ve watched the beautiful Worcester District 4 City Councilor Sarai Rivera for several years now. Our relationship has not always been placid and warm. But over the past few years when our paths have crossed – at city meetings, at festivals – she’s been smart, sweet, tough, funny, warm, determined … and open. She has, through her several years on our Worcester city council, STOOD FOR RIGHT. A HUMANE WAY of solving Worcester’s new city problems. People first. Integrity first. Compassion first. Whether it be the  long suffering elephants and lions in the circuses who come to town, the small biz guy or gal, the inner city resident dealing with drug dealers, the drug addict overdosing, the young kids of color looking for a voice in city government Rivera has lead with grace, intelligence and not a little style (she wears the coolest, sexiest, prettiest, most colorful clothes!)! She is a great listener and makes her decisions, casts her votes intelligently. I’ve always been proud of her votes for people … and animals! I am proud to call her my district city councilor!

Rivera, in her early 40s, is happily married with a gaggle of boys. She has a few college degrees under her belt. Runs her own church, sings her own song! Loud and strong and proud!

SARAI RIVERA FOR MAYOR!

Worcester City Councilor Mike Gaffney – never in fashion!


By Rosalie Tirella

… But wait! YES! OF COURSE the Gaffer is in style in 2016! All the way, baby!

He is super cool! Super bad! Super in control! Just look at the big fake potted plants in his Route 9, mostly empty, law office!

One week ago I was sitting in Gaffney’s sterile law digs and he told me this:

Rosalie, I WON’T SUE YOU FOR $1 MILLION  DOLLARS IF YOU NEVER EVER WRITE ABOUT CITY COUNCILOR MICHAEL GAFFNEY in your paper – or on your website –  again. Ever.

And…IF YOU SUSPEND InCity Times WRITER GORDON DAVIS FOR 1 YEAR

Ha! What was this deluded dunghead snorting?!

I basically told Worcester City Councilor Michael Gaffney to go fuck himself and stormed out of his ugly law office.

Is this pretend-man not the most deluded, arrogant asshole? Especially in light of what was written about him in the daily, by a local columnist who reminded the entire city that Gaffney is racist…is a demagogue who’ll jump on an issue like a nymphomaniac on a whore’s bony butt?

City Councilor MICHAEL GAFFNEY, a scion of the mighty town of Webster …

City Councilor Mike Gaffney, a guy sporting five different shades of bleached blonde hair and riding any Worcester issue that he feels will get him votes and a chance to grandstand – never illuminate an issue, make bright …

Gaffney, a weird, dark guy – a guy who bizarrely speaks about himself in the third person as in “City Councilor Michael Gaffney” this and “Councilor Gaffney” that seems to be in fashion …

Even though he seems a bit “off” …

It’s his time!

A la whack-doodly presidential candidate Donald Trump!

A la hate-spewers Fox News!

A la Ann Coulter!

A la the Tea Party clowns!

A la the Freedom of the Press-haters!

Like those vitriolic losers, Worcester City Councilor Mike Gaffney has made himself the crooked vessel to hold  lots of Worcesterites’ crooked fears. Their fears about: immigrants, people of color, poor people, the Black Lives Matter civil rights movement, a Worcester that is a majority-minority city once you cross Park Ave and head in the direction of my neighborhood, a Worcester where minorities – shut out of city jobs/power-hubs for so long – are looking for a significant piece of the Worcester pie. A Worcester where FINALLY people are coming out to say – sometimes shout – in public how it really feels to be black or brown or poor in America, in Worcester …

Gaffney and his deniers do not want to hear the truth that is  bubbling up here, in Worcester …

So it really should have come as no surprise to anyone that Gaffney would seek to destroy me and InCity Times. We’ve been on the right side – his wrong side – for almost 15 years! We’ve been speaking truth to power since day 1. Gaffney destroyed the Mosaic complex, its director Brenda Jenkins, the building in which it was housed, its TRUE history –  one of the few WOO African American social service agencies… And now he wants to destroy one of the few TRUE WOO alternative newspapers.

Well, Gaffer, Gordon Davis ain’t going away and you’ve already been called a racist by a columnist at the city’s biggest paper. Of course, you won’t sue them for a million bucks cuz you’re a coward and a kiss-ass. But you’ll go after InCity Times.

Give it your best shot,  Donald. I mean Michael!

Gordy parked in yum yums!

Judge Dismisses Defamation Case

By Gordon Davis
 
Judge Brian Davis threw out my defamation case today May 10, 2016. Judge Davis made it clear – in a nice way – that we were not related! I cannot say that lawyer Margaret M. Melican was a nice person. I suppose she, like Aiden Kearney, cannot help their obsession with mocking people. She also posts comments in TurtleBoy Sports in rhyme, besides being its attorney.

When I asked the court to allow my wife to help me with my papers because of my low vision, Ms. Melican mocked us by saying, “I wish I had a wife.”

This ridicule and mockery by her did not escape the attention of the Judge, who rhetorically asked Ms. Melican, “So she could help you with your papers?”

He also said he read my complaint and could not find that Aiden Kearney nor TurtleBoy Sports libeled or defamed me. He based his ruling on the general tenor and context of the defendant’s blog.

The Judge ruled that there was some political content to the blog. In so many words his ruling was: People can say the most outrageous things, and it is not defamation, as long as it has a political context.

Although disappointing, the ruling will give guidance to other publishers and writers in Worcester.  You can call any politician or public figure, such as Worcester City Councilor Michael T. Gaffney, anything as long as you mention some political issue which the politician has taken a position or not. The ruling will help in my case against Gaffney.

I was somewhat comforted that the Judge said no reasonable person could believe anything that the defendants wrote, especially when they called me crazy and mentally unstable. The Judge implied that I was neither. However, there is a danger to the words of a racist blogger like Aiden Kearney and TurtleBoy Sports. The danger is seen in the racist ranting of a city boss against a dark-skinned Hispanic man on April 1, 2016. He was upset that the dark-skinned man was dropping his family off at Worcester City Hall and had blocked his car. Words were exchanged and the city boss allegedly shouted: F##cking a##hole n#gg#r.  
 
Kearney and TurtleBoy Sports has made it OK to be racist in Worcester.

This is seen nationwide, as the Donald Trump effect where the Ku Kluxers openly support Trump.

In Worcester, I call it the Michael T. Gaffney effect.

City Councilor Gaffney has been perceived to be a racist, due to his many actions having disparate impacts on Black people in Worcester.

For now, we will have to fight the racists and their bloggers with words. Those are not the only weapons in our fight for equality and justice. The fight may be fought in the streets, such as we’ve seen in the BlackLives Matter civil rights movement.

The City of Worcester has investigated the incident I have described, above. The City has refused to make public its investigation. There should be demonstrations and other events to force the City of Worcester to release the documents.

Turtle Boy blogger is Aidan Kearney is Mary Mullaney, former Worcester School Committee member … is poison to the community

By Rosalie Tirella

You all should know:

The Turtle Boy (sports) blogger is Aidan Kearney, son of former Worcester School Committee member Mary Mullaney.

Aidan is the main writer, salesperson, editor/webmaster for the Turtle Boy sports blog, a repository of all things racist, classist and community-destroying. His ethos, values and EXTREME RIGHT WING wing-nut political perspective is embodied on his racist, shit-spewing Turtle boy blog.

Years ago I had the distinct displeasure of interviewing his mom Mary MULLANEY, right after she was first elected to the Worcester School Committee. Crimped, arrogant, emotionally constipated are the words that best describe Mary Mullaney, Turtle Boy’s mother.

When I interviewed Mullaney I discovered she was every urban school system’s nightmare! She was anti-abortion rights, anti-condom distribution in schools, anti-sex education in schools, anti-teaching any book in English classes but the GREAT BOOKS. I also felt she was anti-poor students – many of them black.

Mullaney did not believe in spending ANY MONEY ON ANY PROGRAM for poor kids. Any money period. She was un-smiling, seemed uncaring – not at all generous in the face of having to lead schools that were, still are, filled with many poor students. I felt she was the last person who’d try to understand where Worcester’s poor families were coming from. No mercy from this conservative Catholic. Holy-er than thou Mullaney.

Back then Aidan Kearney aka Turtle Boy’s mum, Mary Mullaney, and her ilk were getting onto school boards all over the country. THROUGH help from conservative Catholics who were terrified of sex education and condoms in schools … and through SURVEYS ENDORSING MULLANEY AND HER CONSERVATIVE RIGHT WING COHORTS. These surveys WERE DISTRIBUTED IN CATHOLIC CHURCHES all over the city and all over the country, depending on the political race. It was very controversial back in the day.

Mary Mullaney and her EXTREME, CONSERVATIVE COHORTS were called religious right STEALTH CANDIDATES back then.

Backed by the Christian Coalition, they were. The Christian Coalition was a national force in the 1990s. A national conservative movement. Think NEWT GINGRICH, Ralph Reed and you’ll begin to get the picture.

CHRISTIAN STEALTH CANDIDATES LIKE MARY MULLANEY rode that turtle, er, conservative wave into public office. It also helped Mary that she had an Irish surname and the same surname as THE BELOVED MULLANEYS OF WORCESTER. Worcester voters thought she was related to the beloved Judge Mullaney, a Worcester icon. Nope. She was from the Mid West, went to Notre Dame law school and found herself in Worcester when her husband got a bio research job here. Mary was all vinegar, no honey. She was the source of GOD’S LIGHT coming to smite down fornicators like me and teens who had sex and adults who had sex and didn’t use the Catholic church’s fave method of birth control – the rhythm method.

Because Mary and hubby were on the rhythm method they had about 20 kids. The loathsome Turtle Boy (Aidan Kearney) was, unfortunately, one of the little CONSERVATIVE IRISH CATHOLIC buggers that she popped out.

The apple does not fall far from the tree. Turtle Boy sports blog is nothing more than a 35 year old Mary Mullaney on testosterone injections. We see her conservative, arrogant, narrow minded, racist perspective all over Aidan’s/the Turtle Boy’s blog. The same RIGHT WING REPUBLICAN CHRISTIAN crap but updated for 2016 via her son Aidan Kearney: on a blog, on social media, with videos, selfies and a cute cartoon turtle logo. But it’s still the same narrow minded, prejudiced, hateful, community destroying stuff.

If you agree with Turtleboysports, you agree with Mary Mullaney, Ralph Reed, the Christian Coalition, Newt Gingrich … Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan, the Tea Party brigade and … yes, Worcester City Councilor Michael Gaffney, as DANGEROUS a person who’s ever held public office in my city, Worcester.

Like Turtle Boy Aidan Kearney, Worcester City Councilor Michael Gaffney is a racist and a true community destroyer.

Be very afraid, Worcester.

ICT Voices: Ed can’t be stopped

“Ed Augustus will be [the] city manager. . . it’s not going to stop.”

– Rick Rushton, Worcester City Council, November 26, 2013

By Worcester City Councilor at Large Michael Gaffney

The unfortunate statement quoted above stems from the effort of the current City Council (excluding Councilor Lukes) to appoint a new city manager rather than designate an acting city manager. As you may be aware, City Manager Michael O’Brien has resigned from his position effective January 2014. In accordance City Charter, Article Three, Section 3-9(b), the city council may designate a current city employee or officer as an acting city manager while a nationwide search is conducted for the most qualified candidate to fill the position. Instead, while you were preparing for Thanksgiving, the City Council determined to appoint and has appointed Ed Augustus, a political insider, as city manager. Mr. Augustus cannot be an acting manager without violating the City Charter as he is not a city employee or officer, so they “side-stepped” the City Charter with a short-term (9 month) contract. While I have no issue with Mr. Augustus personally, I do take issue with the City Council not following the charter to locate the most qualified candidate. The City Council’s attempt to rush through the vote with little discussion right before Thanksgiving appeared less about expediency and more about trying to fly under the radar. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

For those that believe it is okay to circumvent the process because they agree with the results, consider that, just last month, I wrote about the circumventing of the Citizen’s Advisory Council (CAC). For those that did not read that article I will summarize. A member of the CAC complained that a candidate that had gone before the CAC and then was rejected for a board after the interview process allegedly bragged that he was appointed to another board after contacting a City Councilor rather than going before the CAC or being interviewed as is the normal process. After the article went to print I received calls and emails from people who had heard of or experienced unfairness in the process themselves and were happy that someone finally brought it to light. The actions taken by the City Council to get one of their own in for City Manager is just a continuation of the practice of “side-stepping” the intentions of the law at every level. Meanwhile, by every objective test, we find a substantial lack of diversity in City hiring as well as on boards and commissions. This isn’t just a diversity issue, it is about fundamental fairness and hiring the most qualified candidates.

The ends do not justify the means and rarely accomplish the desired outcome. From top to bottom we have career politicians that have promised social justice and economic development but have failed to deliver year after year, election cycle after election cycle. Instead, they continue to appoint their friends, hire their supporters, and claim they care about the residents of Worcester. When we allow our politicians to “side-step” the Charter, because we like the result, we perpetuate their conduct. As stated so clearly by the City Council, “it is not going to stop.”

The good news is that, after a significant public outcry, the City Council amended their position to provide that Mr. Augustus cannot be considered for City Manager after his short-term contract is complete. The contract term will be used by the City Council to complete a search for a new City Manager. While this still circumvents the intent of the City Charter, it is a substantial victory for the residents of Worcester. Hope springs eternal.

Reposting InCity Times articles on foreclosure mediation programs. (Why Worcester needs one!)

By Michael Gaffney, Worcester City Councilor at Large candidate

As you are aware, the issue of foreclosure mediation has been debated by the Worcester City Council for several months with plenty of discussion, but no action.  Growing frustrated with the lack of action, I wrote to the most vocal council member on the topic as follows.  I did not seek to attach myself to the issue for political advantage; rather, I handed out a solution and would have been satisfied if any action were taken to achieve a result.  Clearly, if any action had been taken, I would not be writing.  I will let the email chain speak for itself:

On Apr 2, 2013, at 9:16 PM, I wrote to an email from my phone titled “Foreclosure Mediation” to Councilor X:

Springfield Mass program seems to work…  Looks like a settlement just made to implement the plan:

http://blog.aboutrsi.org/2012/program-management/foreclosure-mediation-upheld-against-cons titutional-challenge/

RI has plans in Cranston, Providence and Warwick:

http://www.housingwire.com/news/2010/01/12/rhode-island-city-set-roll-out-foreclosure-medi ation-servicer-fines

So, it appears we have a format to follow.  Love the fine Springfield imposes against the banks for not attending.

The RI bankruptcy court also has a plan for mediation in Chapter 13 plans.

Michael

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Smartphone

Response from Councilor X:

Thanks.

Sent from my iPhone

Email sent to Councilor X on April 3, 2013

Councilor X:

I sent over some information to you last night relative to the foreclosure programs in other cities. Now that I am at a computer, I am able to forward more substantial information.  I have attended a number of conferences on the issue relative to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s program in Chapter 13 Plans that started in RI, so I have a bit of background.

Attached you will find the Springfield and Providence Ordinances.

Springfield uses a neutral not-for-cost mediation program. There are several options available. First, you could simply try the Worcester Bar Association to administer a program of volunteers (POC = Polly Tatum, President #508-795-1557.) Second, the Better Business Bureau currently administers the Lemon Law Arbitration Program under Massachusetts Law, the arbitrators get a “gratuity” of $100.00 per case (POC Nancy Cahalen, President #508-755-3340 x109.) Third, the District Court uses a mediation program formally administered by the WCAC now being administered by Mediation Services of North Central Mass (I do not have any contacts other than what is listed on the website – POC Elaine Sherrin, Director #978-466-9595.) Finally, the Massachusetts Justice Project currently runs the Lawyer for the Day Program and through  volunteers administers free legal services such as bankruptcy cases (I do handle free bankruptcy cases, but do not have a POC, the just send them over to me, the main number is #800-639-1209.)

I just don’t see where implementation of such a program would cost the city an inordinate amount of funds. Further, where we have language concerning ordinances in use, this matter shouldn’t continue to drag out in meeting after meeting. Finally, where the Federal District Court found the ordinance in Springfield to be constitutional and where the banks challenging it settled (and agreed to be bound) before the Appeals Court, passing such a measure is less likely to face a legal challenge or cost the city to defend it.

I am not trying to insert myself in this matter; rather, I been hearing the debate for several months and find it vexing that no progress has been made. This has been your issue; hence, I have communicated with you. If I can be of further assistance, let me know.

Thank you.

Michael Gaffney

On Apr 3, 2013, at 5:27 PM, I wrote:After review of the last paragraph of my last email, consulting with my wife and a friend, it appears I miscommunicated my thoughts.  I meant to say that the situation was not being resolved, that you were leading the charge on the issue and I was sending you information to help you out directly as this has been near and dear to you.Unfortunately, the way in which I communicated was as if you weren’t getting things done.  That is absolutely not what I intended.  I tend to focus on resolving an issue and am less careful about how I communicate.   Clearly I will need to improve my delivery.  I had hoped to help and instead I may have inadvertently insulted you.  It was not my intent. 

I hope you will accept my sincere apology.

Michael

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Smartphone

 

Response from Councilor X, April 3, 2013:

No problem. I appreciated you sending the info.

Sent from my iPhone

Article sent to the Editor, Worcester Telegram and Gazette, May 1, 2013 (unpublished, but plenty of specious and inane comments were published on May 3, 2013)

Dear Sir/Madam:

Your recent article titled “Big Banks win again” concerning the $5,000.00 foreclosure bond ordinance showed the short falls in the current bond requirement.  We need to fix the unintended consequences of the bond requirement and strengthen the ordinance to help our citizens in foreclosure.

The cities of Springfield and Providence have passed ordinances that require the mortgage holder to mediate with the homeowner prior to foreclosure.  Springfield’s ordinance was upheld in Federal District Court and was settled on Appeal.  All the tools we need to update our ordinance are available and can be easily implemented.  We need to rewrite the current ordinance to protect our citizens.  We can’t let another month pass and another family be put out on the street without taking action.

Michael T. Gaffney

Worcester

Today is May 5, 2013.

*******************************

A mortgage mediation program for Worcester

Written by admin on August 21st, 2013

By Michael Gaffney, candidate for Worcester City Councilor at Large

Mortgage mediation is a process whereby during the foreclosure process, a representative from the bank meets with the homeowner relative to a mortgage workout. Getting two parties to sit down in a neutral environment to discuss the issues often yields positive results. A property lost to foreclosure lowers surrounding property values and seriously disrupts neighborhoods.

On August 19, 2013, per the Telegram and Gazette, the administration of the City of Worcester reported that it would not back an ordinance to establish a mediation program on property entering into foreclosure.
The reasons given for not implementing such a program were costs, logistics and legality:

As to costs, there are far too many volunteer organization as well as services operating under a block grant that provide free services to our courts and other programs. There are also numerous low cost providers. Cost is simply not a viable argument.
Logistically, the City of Worcester already requires a $5,000.00 bond for potential costs upon the filing of a foreclosure; therefore, someone is already assigned to review the bond and a tracking mechanism is already in place. The time involved in a referral to a mediation program is nominal.

As to the alleged legal issue, in the August 19, 2013 edition of the Telegram and Gazette, the City Solicitor claims that the Springfield ordinance is pending appeal which is mostly accurate. On July 2, 2012, U.S. District Judge Michael Ponsor dismissed the lawsuit filed by the banks against Springfield’s mediation ordinance stating “the modest effort made by the city to soften the crisis through the promulgation of the two ordinances violates no Constitutional provision or state statute.” An appeal was filed by the banks. On or about March 14, 2013, the banks offered to drop the appeal if the City of Springfield would drop the bond requirement. The cause of the appeal was not with the mediation ordinance; rather, the cause of the appeal is the posting of the bond.

Here, the City of Worcester has implemented the bond requirement but not the mediation ordinance. Take note, the City of Springfield’s bond requirement is $10,000.00 which appears more penal than remedial. The banks were willing to allow the mediation ordinance. It seems obvious that the Springfield City Council is more concerned about the bond money than solving the problem for the homeowners, unlike the City of Worcester.

Our City Council rose to the occasion last night to advise the administration that they will push forward and should. In response, the administration offered to come to the table and look at all options. Unfortunately, this means further delay in the enactment of any ordinance, but the parties appear willing to further the process. Hopefully action will be taken sooner rather than later.

 

Worcester needs a new approach to doing business with businesses!

By Michael Gaffney, candidate for Worcester City Councilor at Large

The City of Worcester needs a new approach to doing business and leaders with fresh ideas.

The City of Worcester is replete with empty commercial buildings and store fronts that are abandoned.  Commercial property owners now choose to demolish their buildings and turn them into parking lots or simply refuse to update their retail establishments.  Other than Worcester North, retail has largely left the City for nearby towns.

The commercial tax rate in the City of  is in excess of thirty percent (30%.)  Surrounding towns have a commercial tax rate of around seventeen percent (17%.)  It is clear why businesses have left and others choose not to open in the City.

The ideas to resolve the lack of commercial business in the City of Worcester have been limited to massive central planning projects such as the Theater District (to which citizen input was ignored) or the time-worn notion that the City of Worcester just needs to promote itself better.  For decades the City of Worcester’s politicians have chased the latest gimmick that will “revitalize” the City.  Past costly projects that would “save” the City have included the Worcester Common Fashion Outlets, the forgotten Arts District project and the Union Station project that is now a multi-million dollar banquet facility with an underutilized parking garage.

Where we currently have over a billion dollars in unfunded pension and pension health liabilities, another billion dollars in EPA requirements to benefit the Narragansett Bay clean up (for those that can afford to live in Newport and Jamestown) and are understaffed in our police department, fire department, and other services we simply cannot cut commercial tax rates.  Our residential tax rate is nineteen percent (19%) while surrounding towns are around seventeen percent (17%.)  The continued increase in residential taxes will result in residents leaving the City as well.

My plan is to focus on growing our tax base and taking a fresh approach to combatting our challenges with commercial growth. Currently, the City immediately increases the assessed value of commercial property as soon as the owner improves it.  The owner has to pay increased taxes as well as additional costs to pay off whatever loan they needed to make the improvements in the hopes of attracting tenants.  This is a disincentive and a significant driver of the increasing number of buildings in poor condition and abandoned. With the current commercial tax rate, there is little incentive for investment in existing commercial property and inhibits commercial growth in the City.

My plan would give commercial real estate holders an incentive to reinvest in the commercial property by fixing their taxes to the base (current) year for a period of time commensurate with the investment.  For example, a commercial real estate holder invests $5 million in a building to improve it for tenants; I would suggest setting the taxable income on the property before improvements for a period of years to justify the return on investment.  This will help to improve the building, employ workers to improve the building and bring in commercial tenants  to the City of Worcester.

My plan would provide an incentive for owners to improve their buildings, but would also spur commercial growth while not lowering the City’s commercial tax revenue as it would remain the same, and then grow significantly in just a few short years.  Right now, the City of Worcester’s commercial base is retracting and being bought up by non-taxpaying non-profits.  This trend must be reversed or the City will not be able to maintain its debt obligations or services.

As commercial tenants come to the City, they employ workers, buy local goods, and create demand for more commercial real estate that then brings more tax revenue.  Further, by creating jobs, people have a place to work and earn money, often leading them to purchase homes and pay taxes.  They will frequent local businesses while living here.  Finally, we may actually keep some of our transient college students in the City when we can offer them post-graduation employment.

Let’s take a new approach and bring fresh ideas to grow the City of Worcester and benefit our residents.

 

Positioning Worcester for a bright future

By Michael Gaffney, Worcester City Councilor at Large candidate

Our city council has been busy touting the development downtown by non-tax paying entities and ignoring the fundamental issues in the city.  Namely, the lack of a tax base and massive unfunded obligations.

Our residents earn a median income of $45,846.00 for a household of 2.4 or $25,544.00 per capita.  Yet, in 2010, the city collected $199.1 million in tax revenue and projects $245.8 million in tax revenue for 2014 for a 23% tax increase.  Most residents I’ve met say they received a 2% raise this year at best, which means after the recent payroll tax increase, they make less now than last year, but pay more to the city in taxes over the same period.

A 23% tax increase on families living off of $45,846.00 per year is unjust and untenable.  Yet, our city council can’t move property off the tax-roles and into non-profit status quick enough.  Nor do they make any effort to balance the city employee’s salaries in proportion to its resident’s income.  (423 city employee’s make more than $100,000.00 per year and are not even required to live in the city!) Continuing to inordinately tax the city’s residents for the benefit of the few will only result in chasing many away and make it difficult to attract new residents.

So how does the council propose to continue to push forward on all their central planning efforts downtown?  So far they seem to be following the Detroit, MI plan by not funding the city employee’s OPEB (Other Post-Employment Benefits) or pensions to the tune of $656 million dollars. Detroit’s Emergency Manager – Kevyn Orr stated it clearly “everyone needs to come to grips with Detroit’s dire financial situation that has been worsened by years of PROCRASTINATION and DENIAL [emphasis added.]”  Detroit is now offering creditors, to include pension holders $.10 on the dollar in lieu of bankruptcy.  Their proposal is to “restructure” and cut “legacy obligations” such as pensions, other employee benefits, health care and so on.  The Detroit health care plan is to push their retirees and employees onto the federal Affordable Care Act, health exchanges and Medicare.

Here in Worcester, we created obligations to our city’s pensioners to fund their retirement. Private-sector employees with a 401k are used to market risk and one might say, so should government-sector employees.  However, intentionally abandoning obligations is not market risk, it is a crime on the level of the best Ponzi-Scheme.  What is the plan?  Continue to raise taxes, cut city worker’s benefits or start acting financially prudent?  Regardless of how you feel about the pension plans of government workers, we cannot ignore the problem (unless we want to end up like Detroit.)

So while you read about all the shiny new buildings and listen to the council talk about how much they care about the city’s employees, residents and its future, remember, the buildings are a hollow as their promises. More talk is not going to position Worcester for a bright future, only action will.

 

 

Worcester City Council candidate Michael Gaffney on Worcester and home foreclosures …

Talking instead of Doing

By Michael Gaffney, Worcester City Councilor at Large candidate

As you are aware, the issue of foreclosure mediation has be debated by the Worcester City Council for several months with plenty of discussion, but no action.  Growing frustrated with the lack of action, I wrote to the most vocal council member on the topic as follows.  I did not seek to attach myself to the issue for political advantage; rather, I handed out a solution and would have been satisfied if any action were taken to achieve a result.  Clearly, if any action had been taken, I would not be writing.  I will let the email chain speak for itself:

On Apr 2, 2013, at 9:16 PM, I wrote to an email from my phone titled “Foreclosure Mediation” to Councilor X:

Springfield Mass program seems to work…  Looks like a settlement just made to implement the plan:

http://blog.aboutrsi.org/2012/program-management/foreclosure-mediation-upheld-against-cons titutional-challenge/

RI has plans in Cranston, Providence and Warwick:

http://www.housingwire.com/news/2010/01/12/rhode-island-city-set-roll-out-foreclosure-medi ation-servicer-fines

So, it appears we have a format to follow.  Love the fine Springfield imposes against the banks for not attending.

The RI bankruptcy court also has a plan for mediation in Chapter 13 plans.

Michael

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Smartphone

Response from Councilor X:

Thanks.

Sent from my iPhone

Email sent to Councilor X on April 3, 2013

Councilor X:

I sent over some information to you last night relative to the foreclosure programs in other cities. Now that I am at a computer, I am able to forward more substantial information.  I have attended a number of conferences on the issue relative to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s program in Chapter 13 Plans that started in RI, so I have a bit of background.

Attached you will find the Springfield and Providence Ordinances.

Springfield uses a neutral not-for-cost mediation program. There are several options available. First, you could simply try the Worcester Bar Association to administer a program of volunteers (POC = Polly Tatum, President #508-795-1557.) Second, the Better Business Bureau currently administers the Lemon Law Arbitration Program under Massachusetts Law, the arbitrators get a “gratuity” of $100.00 per case (POC Nancy Cahalen, President #508-755-3340 x109.) Third, the District Court uses a mediation program formally administered by the WCAC now being administered by Mediation Services of North Central Mass (I do not have any contacts other than what is listed on the website – POC Elaine Sherrin, Director #978-466-9595.) Finally, the Massachusetts Justice Project currently runs the Lawyer for the Day Program and through  volunteers administers free legal services such as bankruptcy cases (I do handle free bankruptcy cases, but do not have a POC, the just send them over to me, the main number is #800-639-1209.)

I just don’t see where implementation of such a program would cost the city an inordinate amount of funds. Further, where we have language concerning ordinances in use, this matter shouldn’t continue to drag out in meeting after meeting. Finally, where the Federal District Court found the ordinance in Springfield to be constitutional and where the banks challenging it settled (and agreed to be bound) before the Appeals Court, passing such a measure is less likely to face a legal challenge or cost the city to defend it.

I am not trying to insert myself in this matter; rather, I been hearing the debate for several months and find it vexing that no progress has been made. This has been your issue; hence, I have communicated with you. If I can be of further assistance, let me know.

Thank you.

Michael Gaffney

On Apr 3, 2013, at 5:27 PM, I wrote:After review of the last paragraph of my last email, consulting with my wife and a friend, it appears I miscommunicated my thoughts.  I meant to say that the situation was not being resolved, that you were leading the charge on the issue and I was sending you information to help you out directly as this has been near and dear to you.Unfortunately, the way in which I communicated was as if you weren’t getting things done.  That is absolutely not what I intended.  I tend to focus on resolving an issue and am less careful about how I communicate.   Clearly I will need to improve my delivery.  I had hoped to help and instead I may have inadvertently insulted you.  It was not my intent. 

I hope you will accept my sincere apology.

Michael

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Smartphone

 

Response from Councilor X, April 3, 2013:

No problem. I appreciated you sending the info.

Sent from my iPhone

Article sent to the Editor, Worcester Telegram and Gazette, May 1, 2013 (unpublished, but plenty of specious and inane comments were published on May 3, 2013)

Dear Sir/Madam:

Your recent article titled “Big Banks win again” concerning the $5,000.00 foreclosure bond ordinance showed the short falls in the current bond requirement.  We need to fix the unintended consequences of the bond requirement and strengthen the ordinance to help our citizens in foreclosure.

The cities of Springfield and Providence have passed ordinances that require the mortgage holder to mediate with the homeowner prior to foreclosure.  Springfield’s ordinance was upheld in Federal District Court and was settled on Appeal.  All the tools we need to update our ordinance are available and can be easily implemented.  We need to rewrite the current ordinance to protect our citizens.  We can’t let another month pass and another family be put out on the street without taking action.

Michael T. Gaffney

Worcester

Today is May 5, 2013.