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LETTER: Why Not in Ward 6?

Resident Joe Gray says Ward 6 needs a social shot in the arm.

Joe Gray is a resident of Ward 6. 

I look wistfully to the left and to the right. Nearby wards conduct barbecues, meetings, safety gatherings, regular social get togethers, farmers markets and street cleanings. I hope for the same someday. 

I engage in acrimony, finger pointing, demands and neighbor-wise suspicions.  I’d rather engage in neighbor smiles, backslaps and chit chat about the latest Red Sox trades.

I peer over the fence and smell the bake sales and hot apple cider from nearby wards during Christmas and wonder “why not here"? No one is even scheduling a ward-wide movie night, like what happens over the fence across town.

I don’t always understand the mayor or some of his decisions, but I feel like Gary is my substitute ward captain. It feels like when I need some help or something personal, Gary is there to help. The mayor fills in a little of what is missing in my ward, like repairing the potholes. Maybe that’s good enough for some, but he is busy with bigger citywide issues and can’t always come to the rescue.

A couple of seasons have come and gone since the last election, making the overt acrimoniousness die down. But we all know it is still here under the surface in my ward. We are still divided, clustered, ignored and/or feted depending on how we please our permanent ward captain.

I peer over the fence again and sigh. It’s a hot summer and not a whole lot of anything useful going on in my ward for most of the year. Not a lot of anything scheduled as far as the eye can see on the city calendar. If there is, it sure isn’t getting any wide public announcements. I'll walk to Maplewood for some ice cream.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Joe Gray July 03, 2012 at 10:26 PM
Hi Ron. Got out of work early and came by. The tent was already setup and a baseball game was in session. I had no idea what was involved in the Trafton setup. My bad. No excuses. Stuck in my own world and trying to get out. That's part of why I wrote this article to bare some issues. I'll be available at 6AM and assist wherever I can. Don't tempt me with cider. I'll accept!!
david mokal July 03, 2012 at 11:08 PM
Oh Boy ! Sounds like that old movie "War Of the Worlds" War of the Wards is more like it. lol Hey Doesn't America Run on Dunkins? I think Ill Run down and get one ..no secound thought Ill walk too old to run. Hey Everyone Have a great 4th of July and please stay safe.
Joe Gray July 04, 2012 at 11:11 AM
Strange morning with the rain. Arrived at Trafton about 6AM and Charter students were milling around. By quarter of 7 they all left. The Malden Wire Inspectors showed up and chuckled at me standing in the rain by myself. It was funny. Trafton has power, if needed. Break is over. Heading back in a few to see if 4th of July celebrations still happen or get moved. See everyone there!!
howard mcgowan July 04, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Time for Ward 6 to join the City of Malden on issues!!!
Ron Hogan July 04, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Well, I have to say, we had a fantastic turnout at the Trafton Park 4th celebration!! We had a large turnout, best in the city I hear. I stood side by side with Joe as we cooked and handed out over 400 cheeseburgers, a few hundred sausages, countless hot dogs, 40 or so pizzas....it was impressive. Got off to a bit of a late start due to the rain (sorry you had to wait around Joe!), but once things got going, they really got going! Things are alive an well in Ward 6, and kudos to Joe Gray for backing his words up with action!! I hope we've added him permanently to the list of people who I see year in and year out at Trafton helping out and sharing a few laughs with.
Marc Levine July 05, 2012 at 07:53 AM
Lots of new neighbors everywhere in the city. Most of the neighbors don't say hi? Is that just a Ward 6 problem? Want to get your neighbors better? Start knocking on doors and introduce yourself to them. While you're at it why don't you set up a "meet and greet block party" on your street. One way to get to know your neighbors. Of course the roads are paved with milk and honey in the rest of the wards. Only Ward 6 has no character? I've watched to city council meetings seems like your councilor is one of the only ones who is being fiscally responsible. Can't spend money you don't have. Could of been worse, you could of elected a mayor who was ready to start writing checks from an empty check book. Complain all you want, the grass is not greener in other wards.
Marc Levine July 05, 2012 at 08:03 AM
Do your surrounding cities have blueberry, wild raspberries, and grapes farms still to be picked? Awesome which ones???? Is Medford or Everett the same city it was back in the 30's to 60's? Awesome, lets all move out of this horrible city to a better city
Joe Gray July 05, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Good Morning Mike C. I did say previously that there are pockets that still have that old neighborhood feel. But Highlands isn't the rest of the ward. And we're not talking about the fiscal issues specifically. An debate over "how" much money is pouring into the ward is best left to another area. I'm not going into that issue right now. Please re-read the article.
Joe Gray July 05, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Good Morning Robert S. Mike C. and I have been on opposing teams in previous elections and may end up on opposing teams in future ward wide clashes. But I hope everyone understands that this is just business. Friendly competition and nothing more. When the dust settles after the latest clash in city hall over something or other, we are all neighbors again living next to each other. Neil probably doesn't even realize that I'm deeply involved around the edges on the latest big clash in city hall that was reported in the papers recently. I may be idealistic in sympathizing with Robert Sullivan's point of view of how things should be run, but that's just me. If we can't change things from the top down, I'll keep talking about the way things are run from the bottom up.
Joe Gray July 05, 2012 at 04:15 PM
It's a small ward after all!!! Ron H. and my wife were classmates and graduated Malden High together. The shocked look on Ron's face was priceless. She says it's the same old Ron from back in high school. 4th of July was amazing. Good to get out from behind a desk. Started feeling like I was back in the old Hay Market with my folks in the 70's. Neil throws a good party but is too scattered. I filled in wherever asked and informed Neil of pressing issues, occasionally during the event. Maybe we can get more people involved to share the planning burden. More people from the ward involved, might help lessen misunderstandings from small issues to big ones. My wishful thinking hopes more residents volunteer and attend to make ward 6 Independence Day events the envy of the town. Then maybe move on to planning other ward 6 events.
Ron Hogan July 06, 2012 at 12:48 AM
I can tell you that there is certainly a chaotic feel to the 4th of July celebration....despite all the planning that goes into it, its unavoidable, its a product of having a mass of people gathered in a very short window, and was compounded this year by pouring rain right up to the start of the event. But the feedback I get from guests and even the city workers who see every celebration for every ward tells me that the Ward 6 one is the envy of the town already, which is fantastic. As for other events, I think its a fantastic idea, and honestly, it starts with someone like yourself taking the lead on putting together something to bring everyone together, like a movie night or something. Historically grass roots efforts to bring neighborhoods together have always been more successful when started by a member of the community (versus an elected official). Its clear you are already well engrained in the Ward and would be well received. I bet the response would be fantastic!
AnnieOMalden July 06, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Ron: Where in ward 6 do you live? Are you telling us our ward councilor is abdicating his position of leading those who live here? Too much on his plate again? Isn't he given money from the city and all those donors to provide an "enviable" July 4th party for his ward in this CITY? How many of his volunteer staff for this party come from the charter school? You can bet the other councilors are "envious" of that! It is not up to Joe Gray or anyone else to host or organize events for the citizens of this ward. Neil Kinnon was elected and is paid to serve us. We can certainly lend a hand and get involved in the goings on here but it is up to Neil to set up the ward meetings and events. He hasn't had one ward meeting in many years and this is the only event he does each year. He should check out what the other ward councilors do to interact with their citizens. I get some of the other councilors newsletters -Gary is the champ here! Neil does a lousy job of keeping ward 6 citizens informed. He's an embarrassment compared to what the other councilors do for their ward citizens. I think Neil likes to fancy himself better than just a ward councilor and more like at-large or Mayor material. Oh, and as far as the city workers: they tell ALL the wards they had the best event! LOL
Joe Gray July 06, 2012 at 11:10 AM
Good Morning Annie. Ron is just throwing out suggestions. Everyone in the ward needs to feel their way forward into the next generation. Any official ward event obviously needs the support and official seal of approval of the ward councilor. We will find a way to make this all work.
Joe Gray July 06, 2012 at 11:16 AM
Good Morning Marc L. Trying to explain, but it seems you're missing the point. The only one suggesting leaving the ward or city is you. Others here are simply recounting their memories of years gone by and observations of other places.
Ron Hogan July 06, 2012 at 11:30 AM
Annie, Yes, they are given money. A very small amount, something like $1,500 I think. Then we raise about $4 for every $1 the city gives us by going door to door to our business partners. This takes effort, and lots of it. And the vast majority of the guests who attended truly appreciate it. Lets face it, every councilor in the city has things they excel at and those areas where they could do a better job. Go to ward xx and they are complaining that all they are doing is having meetings and they instead want money invested in their ward. It all balances out in the end. Keep in mind it is not a full time job with full time pay, but instead, most of them have to squeeze this in with raising a family and working. I know I know they took the job, but you have to be a realist and can't expect 50 hours of work a week for $17k a year. Interesting choice of words when you say Neil is there to 'serve' you. Maybe I'm just new school, I tend to not use those terms, but instead think of my politicians as there to represent me, and I consider it my responsibility to partner with them. You and Neil obviously have a long and storied history that I certainly don't pretend to appreciate or want to get in the middle of. But I stand by the fact that Ward 6 had one heck of an independence day celebration, that a TON of work goes into it, and that more people should get involved.
Paul D July 06, 2012 at 11:57 AM
I totally agree with Ron's comments
AnnieOMalden July 06, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Ron: How about full disclosure here. Aren't you Neil's campaign manager? And besties with him and your wives are very close? And where in ward 6 do you live? No, Neil does not "represent" me. Perhaps that is why more people do not get involved and he has to rely upon the charter school to do the heavy lifting. The last one I went to was for the dedication of the Joan Callahan tot lot. I saw the sign for buying chances and noticed something very wrong. (See above and can you find the error?) When I spoke to the people taking the money, they all were flustered and said they didn't have the authority to change the sign and I should go to Neil which I did. I told him he should look at the sign as there was a mistake. He started yelling at me in front of, as you know, quite the crowd there. Blaming me for always looking for trouble and making things bad. He did not go over to look at the sign and dismissed me with a wave of his hand, like "get outta here" gesture. So, I do not feel welcome at his party. If he wants to rip people off, have at it. Makes me wonder if there is an accounting for all the money raised and spent. So, you can keep drinking the koolaid but I'm going to pass on it.
AnnieOMalden July 06, 2012 at 02:46 PM
No, I believe it diminishes Ron's comments when you find out more about him and his agenda. It's Ron's turn at bat to polish Neil's apple which has gotten quite ugly of late with his rude behavior toward our Mayor during a televised public meeting, among other things. Keep your eyes and ears open MIchael. Sit back and learn. BTW: I enjoy your column on IT issues and have learned quite a bit myself!
Paul D July 06, 2012 at 05:17 PM
All the complaining you do. However, it is thru the efforts of Kinnon that we can walk bearfoot thru the grass at Trafton and safer in Maplewood square in the evenings. I'm not a Koolaid drinker but I can understand why your approach would get you dismissed. You can do allot worse than Kinnon, and you won't do much better. He represents well...
Joe Gray July 06, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Hi Annie. We remember the machinations of the past, but we have to come up with a way to move forward. The disagreements with Neil are legendary in town and you don't always agree with me either, but Malden and the ward needs your help. I need your help. We can argue offline and even arm wrestle. And don't think I'll let you win, just cause you're a girl. You may be wiry, but I won't underestimate you. Please Annie, let's ratchet this down a few notches and find a better way. Gary is tough enough to handle City Hall & Neil. Call or email me offline, if you have any questions.
Ron Hogan July 06, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Micheal, you of course have hit the nail on the head. At no time did I make it personal in my posts, but Annie has to respond with personal attacks on me. I'm done, I have made my point in a courteous way and I'll leave it at that.
Paul D July 06, 2012 at 07:26 PM
GO PATCH!! :) Have a good weekend all
AnnieOMalden July 06, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Whoa! Will the real Joe Gray please raise your hand?? What have they done to you? I warned you about the koolaid! Ron: I suspected you wouldn't answer my questions. Were you able to figure out what was wrong with the sign over the table (from the above picture) selling chances?
Joe Gray July 06, 2012 at 11:06 PM
I haven't changed at all Annie. Nothing has changed. Everyone sees what they want to see. Neil now sees me differently. Ron sees me differently. Now you see me differently. John has seen the real me from day one. And I never changed. I'm still trying to understand the system and change things for the better in this town, regardless of how wildly perceptions shift. If that puts me at ground zero in the middle of everyone, soaking up incoming fire from all directions, oh well. Everyone have a great 4th of July weekend. Have a cold one on me.
Marc Levine July 07, 2012 at 08:39 AM
After all this does it matter the kids had a blast. enough said
Kiersten July 07, 2012 at 10:15 AM
Joe, I thought your letter was great. I do not live in Ward 6, but I agree with you. I have a youngster as well and I am always looking for community things to do, there is not much...and if there is, it is not advertised well. I too look at the city calendar in hopes of finding something, I don't mind crashing another Wards party if they have something going on. It is about the kids...having fun, getting to know your community and your city. I did not grow up in Malden, but we chose Malden as a place for our children to grow up. I do love this city and sees what it has to offer and many great things to come I am sure. We had a great July 4th celebration in our Ward 5, it was awesome and they did a great job. But now what? Is there nothing else? I like that you have sparked good conversation and getting people to look at all aspects of their Ward and the city as a whole. Kiersten
stella July 08, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Paul D. I want to see you walk barefooted thru trafton park. It is a very dirty park. There is or was an electrical box on the ground with wires sticking out of not safe for the little kids who frequent the tot lot. Litter and beer cans and bottles all over the place. Every time i am there i clean up what i can. We need more Annie O's in malden so that way the councilors do their jobs. They work for us. We voted them in and we should all work together. But with Councilor Kinnon its his way or the HIGHWAY. Time for new blood in ward 6. Sad the only time of the year he does something is the 4th of july but then again he has no choice.
Joe Gray July 09, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Contact me if you want to brainstorm ways to get ward and/or city projects going that we can all be a part of(like 4th of July, budget or crime meetings). I'd obviously like to start with ward 6 and import good ideas from around the city and export good ideas, that we may come up with. Not necessarily block parties, but ideas more geared towards the community as a whole. Each neighborhood(block) is organic in its individual cohesiveness, so do not want to micro-manage that sort of issue. gutclencher@hotmail.com
Don July 09, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Why not in Ward 6? Well, its all about sacking Neil Kinnon. Is there any other reasons?
Marc Levine July 09, 2012 at 10:49 PM
I never knew what the whole koolaid thing meant .. So I asked somebody. I am totally disgusted at the reference you are making. Please go to church and ask god to forgive you for what you have said. You and anybody else who makes the reference will def burn in hell for those remarks. Shame on you. That is sick!!!!! Please reply and try and defend yourself and explain what the koolaid means. I'm actually speechless at this point. (believe or not)

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