Sunday, June 28, 2009


USMC War Memorial Sunset Parade, Washington, D.C.

As we approach America’s annual July 4th celebration of our countries independence, I am publishing my Friday blog early this week. Thanks to my friends Warren Silva and Tom Hare for their submissions. To me, it is why we celebrate the meaning of July 4th. As only Kate Smith could sing, “GOD BLESS AMERICA!”

remember the shoe bomber?

Ruling by Judge William Young, US District Court.

Prior to sentencing, the Judge asked the defendant if he had anything to
say. His response: After admitting his guilt to the court for the record,
Reid also admitted his 'allegiance to Osama bin Laden, to Islam, and to
the religion of Allah,' defiantly stating, “I think I will not apologize
for my actions,” and told the court “I am at war with your country.”

Judge Young then delivered the statement quoted below:

Judge Young: “Mr. Richard C. Reid, hearken now to the sentence the Court
imposes upon you.

On counts 1, 5 and 6 the Court sentences you to life in prison in the
custody of the United States Attorney General. On counts 2, 3, 4 and 7,
the Court sentences you to 20 years in prison on each count, the sentence
on each count to run consecutively. (That's 80 years.)

On count 8 the Court sentences you to the mandatory 30 years again, to be
served consecutively to the 80 years just imposed. The Court imposes upon
you for each of the eight counts a=2 0fine of $250,000 that's an aggregate
fine of $2 million. The Court accepts the government's recommendation
with respect to restitution and orders restitution in the amount of
$298.17 to Andre Bousquet and $5,784 to American Airlines.

The Court imposes upon you an $800 special assessment. The Court imposes
upon you five years supervised release simply because the law requires it.
But the life sentences are real life sentences so I need go no further.

This is the sentence that is provided for by our statutes. It is a fair
and just sentence. It is a righteous sentence.

Now, let me explain this to you. We are not afraid of you or any of your
terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid. We are Americans. We have been
through the fire before. There is too much war talk here and I say that
to everyone with the utmost respect. Here in this court, we deal with
individuals as individuals and care for individuals as individuals. As
human beings, we reach out for justice.

You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a
soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to
call you a soldier, gives you far too much stature. Whether the officers
of government do it or your attorney does it, or if you think you are a
soldier, you are not----- you are a terrorist. And we do not negotiate
with terrorists. We do not meet with terrorists. We do not sign
documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to

So war talk is way out of line in this court. You are a big fellow. But
you are not that big. You're no warrior. I've known warriors. You are a
terrorist. A species of criminal that is guilty of multiple attempted
murders. In a very real sense, State Trooper Santiago had it right when
you first were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered
where the press and the TV crews were, and he said: 'You're no big deal.'

You are no big deal.

What your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorneys
have grappled with and what I have as honestly as I know how tried to
grapple with, is why you did something so horrific. What was it that led
you here to this courtroom today?

I have listened respectfully to what you have to say. And I ask you to
search your heart and ask yourself what sort of unfathomable hate led you
to do what you are guilty and admit you are guilty of doing? And, I have
an answer for you. It may not satisfy you, but as I search this entire
record, it comes as close to understanding as I know.

It seems to me you hate the one thing that to us is most precious. You
hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live
as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we
individually choose. Here, in this society, the very wind carries
freedom. It carries it everywhere from sea to shining sea. It is because
we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful
courtroom, so that everyone can see, truly see, that justice is
administered fairly, individually, and discretely. It is for freedom's
sake that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf, have
filed appeals, will go on in their representation of you before other

We Americans are all about freedom. Because we all know that the way we
treat you, Mr. Reid, is the measure of our own liberties. Make no mistake
though. It is yet true that we will bear any burden; pay any price, to
preserve our freedoms. Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The
world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. The day after
tomorrow, it will be forgotten, but this, however, will long endure.

Here in this courtroom and courtrooms all across America, the American
people will gather to see that justice, individual justice, justice, not
war, individual justice is in fact being done. The very President of the
United States through his officers will have to come into courtrooms and
lay out evidence on which specific matters can be judged and juries of
citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence democratically, to
mo ld and shape and refine our sense of justice.

See that flag, Mr. Reid? That's the flag of the United States of America.
That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten.
That flag stands for freedom. And it always will.

Mr. Custody Officer. Stand him down.”

Captured Photo Collection � The 65th Anniversary of D-Day on the Normandy Beaches Photos
American soldiers march down English street to landing craft embarkation, June 6, 1944

Friday, June 26, 2009

Gloucester City Government - It's Politicians, Past and Present

Gloucester City Hall

In my book, An Island No More, I talk about Gloucester being like no other place. Our government and our politicians have in the past and in some ways carry on this unique public image. I’ve been an interested observer of local politics for over 50 years and we’ve had our share of different, sometimes whacky, political candidates.

John P. Canavan, a city council hopeful in the late ‘40s campaigned on a platform of hot topping the harbor as his solution to the scarcity of downtown parking. Then there was the declared dark horse in 1967’s runoff, who actually rode a horse into Kelleher’s Bar during the election eve buffet. We had a junkman by trade, who campaigned unsuccessfully several times, increasing his vote count as he gained oratory experience. He also wrote eloquently in the Times. It was rumored at the time that he enlisted the services of a ghost writer. It turned out the mystery pen belonged to a local coal and lumber czar. Who could forget John J. Burke, Esq., one of our most colorful mayors in the early ‘50s, a pleasant change from the honorable “straight-laced” Weston U. Friend? Of course, all of the above were part of a different era; looking back, post WW II politics were innocent years.

Things didn’t seem as serious in the ‘40s and ‘50s. Life in Gloucester was positively exciting, our fishing fleet was growing by leaps and bounds, and our families were prosperous. Life was great for our blue collar community that turned into a tourist artist mecca in those carefree summers so long ago.

In many ways, as Gloucester moved forward in the 1950s, our fishing industry experienced a gradual decline over the next several decades, bringing us to the present day. We now live in different times, having experienced basic economic changes. We continue to adjust and rise to the challenges that these lifestyle changes impose upon us.

For starters, the modern day complexities of municipal governing require a reexamining of our present government and how we go about delivering our municipal services. As a life long observer, I feel the time is now, perhaps long overdue, to reexamine the City Manager form of government in earnest. We have city manager experience and we made some poor choices in the past; let’s revisit the city manager form of government.

I personally feel that our mayoral form of government went out with high button shoes! If we are to continue our present form of government, I feel the mayor’s term should be increased to four years and no more than two consecutive terms. As it presently stands, a new mayor barely arrives in city hall when she finds herself having to mount a reelection bid only months into her first two-year administration. These short two year terms and reelection campaigns, coupled with the lack of term limit restrictions on incumbents, are expensive to conduct and play into the hands of municipal unions. All politicians seeking reelection must bow to these voting groups. This is a no-win situation for the general taxpayer, rightfully expecting improvement and efficiency in the cost of government administration. This is exactly the position Gloucester finds itself in today.

Politicians in the past have given our city away in better economic times and now find that these cushy employee union negotiated contractual benefits are realistically no longer affordable. These freely given cumulative benefits are seen as bargaining chips agreed to by incumbents as a means of perpetuating their own political longevity. The chickens have come home to roost....the gravy train has stopped! Terms limits address this issue!

All city councilors should run “at large”. The “Ward Councilor” title should be relegated to the trash heap! Ward candidates are not required to compete city wide. They only have to convince a narrow segment of the city’s entire voter population. In this limited voter constituency, the incumbent, often unchallenged, walks in avoiding the scrutiny of our entire voting community. While the premise for this ward representation is to deliver neighborhood services by their ward designated councilor, that councilor, who only catered to a ward constituency, then gets to vote on matters affecting the entire city! To me, this doesn’t ad up. All councilors should be governed by term limit restrictions and serve only two consecutive terms, i.e., eight years.... AT LARGE.

Our present form of city government needs to be revamped. Our executive branch, mayor and assistants, et al appears to be bogged down in the daily minutia, the nuts and bolts of administrating our budget. These duties should be delegated to a professional manager, leaving the mayor and inner staff to focus totally on issues of attracting new business development, increasing our tax base and generally moving our beautiful city forward.

In keeping with the above, I am reminded of a former city council that came to be known as the “Reform Council”, circa 1968. My friend from boyhood, Andrew Nickas, was a member of that council, along with Joe Salah and others. Together, they became known for constantly making things happen for Gloucester. That group successfully acquired the St. Peter’s High School (Fuller School) purchased from the Boston Archdiocese at a bargain price. They successfully opened up the formally landlocked Blackburn Industrial Park, negotiating with the state for an access road off Route 128. The Reform Council was always moving. It seemed that every week there was a new announcement, bringing meaningful economic change to Gloucester. They were not interested in their own longevity, only striving for the community’s overall better quality of life!

Over the past 50 years, Gloucester has experienced lackluster style government with few bright spots; however, the Reform Council, circa 1968 was by far the very best short term city government Gloucester has experienced in my lifetime.

CHANGE – Gloucester’s government must adopt new ways.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

The Future of Gloucester’s Fishing Industry – Part III – Harbor Planning

When Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed, ending WW II, the landscape was totally obliterated. I stood on ground zero in Hiroshima twelve years later. The sight has remained etched in my memory for over 50 years. Talk about a new beginning! City planning, while heart wrenching and emotionally draining, was also awe inspiring to view the total transformation of a war torn ancient city into a totally new well-planned metropolis.

Sumo wrestling is Japan’s national sport; a close second is American baseball. Hiroshima city owns a world class baseball stadium, thanks to American troop introduction of the sport after the war. That planning and building of a sport stadium was easy, given Hiroshima’s devastated landscape of 1945.

Gloucester harbor planning – future crystal ball viewing by any planning agency is not so easy. We own a partially developed waterfront with, in most cases, viable waterfront businesses operating, i.e., Gorton’s of Gloucester, Rose’s Machine & Oil Division, Ciulla’s Fish Display Auction, Oceancrest Fish Company, commercial freezers, various restaurants, and the new Cruiseport facility, to name a few. All of these operating businesses and approximately 70 other direct waterfront parcels around the harbor periphery fall within the D.P.A. (Designated Port Authority).

This port authority came into existence for Gloucester about 1978. Mass. Chapter 91, “Coastal Zone Management, D.P.A. Control” governs our harbor waterfront from the Fort to East Gloucester. The intent of this authority and other layers of government were to prevent and protect our waterfront from development by unrelated industry. Restricting use guaranteed future space for any resurgence of the fishing industry. Whoever was in authority in 1978 did not investigate the harbor’s past history, for if they had, they would have clearly seen the economic stranglehold they were imposing on about 50% of the waterfront! That’s about the same properties that remain vacant as of this writing. The Fort’s former Cape Ann Fisheries, I-4-C2 parcel, the Building Center’s coal wharf, and other undeveloped waterfront parcels bordering the harbor have labored economically since well before 1978.

Capt. Joe and Sons East Main Street Wharf, 2009

I continue to remind our planners that the peak years of Gloucester’s anchor industry were the 1940s and ‘50s. In 1978, I was in the marine insurance business, insuring approximately 90% of the existing fleet. In that year, Gloucester’s fleet numbered approximately 120 offshore vessels. This was about half of our fleet in 1950. I remind the reader that in the peak year of 1950, when our fleet produced hundreds of millions of pounds of edible fish annually, that production was accomplished on approximately 50% to 60% of the waterfront property! In spite of the above, in 1978, with a declining fishing fleet, this Designated Port Authority status was adopted, including all waterfront properties in its wake; it was negligent overkill from its inception! The D.P.A. simply ended any hope of future development in our harbor! By adopting D.P.A. status, the total development we were attempting to encourage and shape, really doomed our waterfront to the present day.

Gloucester’s hands are tied, waiting for an industry rebirth that will not happen. If it did, we can accomplish the Herculean tasks of the 1950s on the existing waterfront, independent of the D.P.A.’s currently protected vacant, undeveloped parcels.

Scuttlebutt: Gloucester and the remains of our once great fishing industry core workforce owe a sincere thank you to Mr. Richard Gaines, staff reporter of the Gloucester Daily Times. His continuing in-depth professional candid reporting should be appreciated by many. Gaines delivers the waterfront news daily. Without his reporting and the supporting editorial leadership of our hometown paper, Gloucester’s fishermen and indeed the fishing industry countrywide would loose an important voice. Mr. Gaines, whom I have never met, is Gloucester’s resident professional industry advocate for truth and fairness. Gaines and his mighty pen continue to expose unfairness in interpreting local and federal bureaucracy as it affects the lives of our citizens. I like the cut of his jib! Ron Gilson

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Next Week's Blog: Gloucester City Government - It's Politicians, Past and Present

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Future of Gloucester's Fishing Industry, Part III - Harbor Planning

The post scheduled for this week"The Future of Gloucester's Fishing Industry, Part III - Harbor Planning" will appear next Friday, June 19.

Today I am running a series of photos from my book, "An Island No More", regarding yesterday's waterfront activities and highlights of the past. (Father's Day, June 21, is an excellent time to purchase a copy of this book at the local bookstores, gift shops, Border's, and

Portuguese Blessing of the Fleet Procession to the State Fish Pier, 1946 (DaCruz photo)

United Fisheries, F/V Grand Marshall to be converted to dragging, '41 circa Larry Colby Photo (This vessel became Capt. Frank Rose's F/V Spring Chicken)

Melanson's Boat Yard 1950. F/V Margie L. under construction at head of Gloucester harbor, directly across from the new Rockport National Bank branch on Parker Street. (Larry Colby photo)

Gorton's Cold Storage, corner of Scott Street and East Main Street (presently self-service gas station located across from Rose's oil wharf, formerly United Fisheries Wharf, in 1940s)

Ben Pine's Atlantic Supply Wharf before urban renewal 1940s.

(Presently location of Capt. Carlo's wharf, restaurant and seafood display auction property)
At left of the photo is the Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center.

Harbor Cove Italian Seiners, Larry Colby Photo, circa 1949 (In background Gloucester Coal and Lumber Company unloading coal crane, Building Center property)

In Memoriam - Butch Clemeno Welding at the Gloucester Marine Railways, 1973

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Future of Gloucester’s Fishing Industry – Part II -- CHANGE

While many activists base their efforts on a fishing industry “comeback”, the reality is it isn’t going to happen. “Comeback”, meaning hundreds of meaningful shore side processing jobs, hundreds of new career fisherman on hopefully hundreds of boats....anything resembling the 1940s and ‘50s, is simply out of the question. Still there are those holding out hope for a return to the deluge volume of the early ‘50s! Dr. Carmine Gorga has publicly stated his only hope is “will we be ready....”

Since 1950, our once anchor industry has been on a downward spiral. There are many citizens of Gloucester who point to declining fish landings, being the result of governmental regulations, and a lack of resource compared to the industry heydays of the ‘40s and ‘50s. That is all true; however, there are even deeper reasons for Gloucester’s industry demise. I realize that over fishing and over regulation are often thought of as the main cause of our industry failing, however, I believe “change” in our society is the principle culprit.

Some activists subscribe to a renaissance in fish stocks as a result of federal resource conservation rules that currently govern our remaining few boats. These regulations for Gloucester fishermen are similarly enforced throughout the domestic fishing industry. Government regulations have become a way of life in the industry.

Before I discuss change and how it plays such an important role in our harbor planning of 2009, current planning boards and other governmental agencies should review a similar period in our time: the Great Depression. In many ways, our waterfront history of the ‘30s is repeating itself some eighty years later! In the mid 1930s at the height of the depression, Gloucester and its prime (only) industry, fishing, was in the doldrums. Unemployment was off the charts, if records were kept, fishermen were dumping their entire trips overboard outside the breakwater in protest to one and two cent per pound fish prices.

Dory Trawler Adventure
Unloading Trip at Boston Fish Pier 1951

Economically, we were losing to Boston in the ground fishing business.
Our fleet of ground fish dory trawlers was transitioning to the new dragging method. The ground fish industry that was growing and prospering in Boston, was declining in Gloucester. Our local, once leading roaring '20s waterfront with its gala fishermen races notoriety, propelling our image round the world, was over. There was a glimmer of change. A new type redfish was showing up in the Portuguese fleet’s nets of their newer draggers, such as the F/V Elvira Gaspar and Evelina M. Goulart. Dragging was the way of the future. Gloucester fishermen were responding slowly in those depression years, however, there was a light at the end of the tunnel and it was the lowly redfish.

The 1930s had their activists, the movers and shakers of our waterfront. Everett Jodrey, a barber by trade in a shop on Duncan Street, was the fishermen’s friend between trips. His granddaughter, Debbie Ryan, told me he was totally sympathetic to the fishermen’s plight. Jodrey had other friends and associates, Capt. Albert Arnold, Ben Pine, John J. Burke and Joe Mellow, a lobster dealer. Piney was a junk man originally, turned boat manager. Albert Arnold captained the gillnetter Phyllis A.. Only Johnnie Burke was college educated and a lawyer.

These were ordinary men who came together in extraordinary times. Everett Jodrey, father of the Jodrey State Fish Pier, dedicated in October 1938, and the above-mentioned activists had a far reaching vision; they addressed the need of a changing waterfront back in the 1930s. These ordinary men all possessed waterfront “street smarts”. They had a vision of the emerging dragger volume fishing. They capitalized on the timely arrival of Birdseye’s newly developed quick freezing method, thereby facilitating the redfish boon of the ‘40s and ‘50s. As highline Capt. Lloyd Campbell would say years later, “The redfish were eatin’ the keel out of the boat, you!”

The domestic fish industry, its products, and the fishermen delivering same, have changed ways dramatically. The consumer has changed and the products one demands at the supermarket are numerous and unheard of only a few years ago! Looking back and ahead the main ingredient missing in the fishing industry of the future is the availability of the men themselves. The world of harvesting the oceans has moved forward technologically almost beyond comprehension. The industry has outsmarted itself and is capable of catching and processing fish in previously unheard of volume.

While our anchor industry has changed, not only in Gloucester but fishing ports the world over, so to have the men that once made up our harvesting workforce. Fishermen of fifty years ago are no more and they’re not being replaced. In my youth, the often heard cry, “there’s no future in fishing, don’t go”, has been heeded – those who witnessed their fathers and others toil on the sea away from home and families for days, weeks at a time, no longer are willing to sacrifice and pay that price. There will always be fishermen and fish to catch, but it will not return to yesterday; the men and industry has moved on. We live in a different world. The soccer moms of today will not tolerate the absence of their breadwinners.

So where does that leave Gloucester? We have to rise to the occasion and reinvent ourselves. Fishing is no longer our way of life. It is our heritage and we in Gloucester should recognize this shift and proceed on a new course. We must change, adapt and accept new concepts to revitalize our economic future.

The whaling industry started in Nantucket. In less than 100 years it moved to New Bedford because the harbor of Nantucket could not accommodate the larger whaling vessels needed to hunt the sperm whale the world over. Both ports capitalize on their whaling heritage, and they do it to the letter. The whaling industry’s heyday lasted approximately 100 years. Gloucester’s fishing industry has been around almost 400 years, claiming over 5,000 lives. We’re America’s oldest seaport! That’s our heritage; people want to learn about our history. We need to do a better job in promoting our heritage and make that story our primary public relations mission to the world.

That’s the background. Today’s government leaders, activists, and harbor economic development planners need to start with this history. Next week’s blog will explore our harbor planning, the planners and course of action for our local governmental agencies relative to our key economic asset.....our waterfront of the future.