Mayor Paul Coogan has been like a kid in a candy store. He loves going to the office. In early and out late. My contacts inside the city hall tell me he is walking around talking to workers and letting them know he is there if they need to talk. I’m told he is like he uses to be when he was VP in the school system. Could it be that Paul Coogan is in his zone? Is this where he is at his best? From what we see as outside media looking in, He appears to be at home. The question is always there, when will the pressure of the job change him? Or will he do what others have not been able too, Stay focused, stay on mission and out of trouble?
Mayor Coogan has said on WSAR and in the media that he wants to get right into the vacant houses around the city and find out who owns them and why they are not being kept up. He said he would be willing for the city to take the homes if the owners are not going to fix them up to code and the city will take them down or try to rehab them. Also, as part of the get-tough plan, they will issue citations to the violators.
CDA, Community Development Agency has a contract with the Mass A.G’s. Office to rehab vacates and blighted homes. It’s a great big grant that the city gets from the AG and the city puts a project together with a blighted property and sends it to the AG for approval. If approved, the city always tries to rehab the house. They did two veterans’ houses with this program. So mayor Coogan needs to sit with CDA’s Mike Dion who has been running CDA for many years and is one of the best in the business. We are sure he has probably already done that. But Coogan will have far more issues to deal with than that.
As we know, One of the problems in the city is we never follow up on or regulation that we vote in. We should be looking at hiring at least three new people to go around the city and take pictures of properties that are vacant, blighted or run down and look up the owners, if the bank is the lien holder, then see what steps are needed to begin to address dealing with the owners or lien holders. It takes a lot of man-hours upfront just to get to a point where you can decide what steps to take. These positions can be funded in part by the money received from enforcing our code and taking people to court. Why have rules if you are not enforcing them. That should be the first thing Coogan dose. It’s long overdue that we bring departments up to the staffing levels where they can do the job without having to go to overtime and burn men out and let things get to where we are now.
Mayor Coogan has been going to the schools and met with the team from DRFTH, Diman School recently to talk about where the school is heading in the upcoming years. Coogan appointed three people to the RDA this past week and has made other board appointments. We would like to see some advocates put on board too. They are the people that look out for everyone in the city and have been a part of the city for their entire life. Let’s open it up wider Mr. Mayor.
Opioids, addiction, mental health, and crime all fall together. This is one area we have not seen anything in way of a city-wide coordinator, or a volunteer coordinator, a plan to address the major drug problems as well as we still have no city Mental MH center for a crisis. At one time we had Corrigan MH. However, when is sold we lost the only mental health crisis center in the city. Hospitals are not equipped to deal with a Mental Health crisis. Mayor Buddy Cianci used community volunteers to be community coordinators while the city put together data to get grant funding. He also asks nonprofits to grant to the city a yearly amount that went to paying the volunteer coordinators a base pay. He used to say that they get a lot of services for free from the city and don’t pay taxes, they can help us make our city better. Mayor Coogan, there is your plan with zero cost.
Mayor Paul Coogan so far has a passing grade. Keep in mind that its only three weeks. But for the work he has done, it appears he is on a good path. We need to be careful not to bond anymore for any reason. Go slow with rehab to So Main St, we don’t have enough money and the voters say, NO bonding. Best of luck as you continue.
This is the writer’s Opinion,
By; Gene St. Pierre