By JOHN HOWELL
If he had it to do all over again, Ed Laudouceur would have applied the energy he does to his business and to causes he believes in to his education. Then he would have had a shot …
By JOHN HOWELL
If he had it to do all over again, Ed Laudouceur would have applied the energy he does to his business and to causes he believes in to his education. Then he would have had a shot at becoming a US Marine Corp officer and a pilot.
And if he was younger, the Ward 5 Councilman would give serious consideration to running for higher office.
But this is now and Ladouceur announced this week he is running for reelection. He has some unfinished business that he feels is critical to the future of the city.
He wants to continue serving his constituents and lives by the advice he was given when he first sought public office: “never lose track of the most important thing to them.”
That’s why he’s wary of the city’s plan to relocate National Night Out that from the start has been held in Oakland Beach to Rocky Point Park on Aug. 2. The move is being made because the event is running out of space at Oakland Beach. Ladouceur fears his will mean more traffic for Warwick Neck plus complaints.
Ladouceur said police have done a good job on regulating other activities at the park, but this could be bigger.
“If it’s a problem we’re going to have a big problem on our hands,” Ladouceur said vowing to fight a return to Rocky Point next year if it doesn’t work out.
If only what the councilman sees as the city’s long range problem was so easy to remedy.
He’s not going to let go of efforts to end paying the full cost of health care for retirees when active employees are co-paying roughly 20 percent of health care costs. Based on actuary studies, Ladouceur said that legislation he introduced would save taxpayers $5 million annually. That’s money that wouldn’t have to be raised through taxes and freeing up funds for other projects.
To back up the projected $5 million savings, Ladouceur requested a fiscal note on the measure, however, City Finance Director Peder Schaefer argued it would be nothing because the city would need to negotiate the terms with the union and that hasn’t happened. Ladouceur was furious, since as he pointed out, the very purpose of a fiscal note is to project the cost or saving of legislation.
The outcome of a vote was obvious when the council chambers were close to empty. If the measure had a chance of passing, retirees and union members would have packed the place. Yet Ladouceur persisted and instead of moving to table the bill carried it to a vote and defeat.
He’s not giving up.
“We can’t continue to provide free health care to retirees…I’m not afraid of the fight,” he said.
“Sooner or later the public is going to say enough is enough and we’re going to fix this at the polls.” He feels Mayor Picozzi , “needs to press on this, too.”
Ladouceur is no stranger to Quitoian causes.
On his first run for council ten years ago, Ladouceur walked every street in the ward and talked with as many people as he could. He learned many felt betrayed because years before they had been promised sewers, yet nothing happened. In the meantime state legislators passed legislation requiring properties within 200 feet of the bay or body of water to either tie into sewers or build an approved septic system.
Ladouceur committed to do something about it. He founded the City Council Sewer Review Commission that reached far beyond the issue of making sewers available to more than 900 Riverview, Highland Beach, Longmeadow and Bayside property owners. Over countless meetings, the commission came up with recommendations to adopt a per unit, rather than a linear foot assessment, extend assessment payments up to 30 years, to cap assessment interest costs at 1.25 percent more than the bond rate paid by the sewer authority and to issue revenue bonds of $50 million to extend sewers including those for Bayside. On the basis that the city was moving to address the issue, then Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit waived fines for those with cesspools or malfunctioning septic systems.
That’s just a part of the Bayside story.
Ladouceur didn’t get into it Friday in an interview. Suffice to say construction on the Bayside sewer project started last year and that thanks to $7 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding committed by Mayor Frank Picozzi assessments for single units are locked in at $16,900 when at one point they were projected at $30,000 and more. Had the federal funding not been available, Ladouceur said there would have been little he could have done to provide homeowners relief. “The numbers would have been the numbers,” he said.
As for campaigning Ladouceur is not likely to walk the ward as he did when he first ran for the office a decade ago.
“I will continue what I do as a councilman. I campaign every day,” he said. He faces a possible contest from Republican Ryan Cummings.
The councilman, who runs his own construction business, Stormtite, has experienced firsthand the rising cost of materials and labor. He said there is “no way” the school department can build two new high schools for the $350 million the School Committee is looking to have on the November ballot. He thinks at least $400 million would be needed if “you can get the steel.”
“There’s no way you can build it for that ($350 million),” he said. While he has said he thought the voters should decide the question of new schools, Ladouceur said he’s not wed to the opinion and wants to see all the numbers – projected impact on city budgets and the taxpayer – going forward.
But what then do you do with two aging high schools?
With school enrollment declining, Ladouceur favors a single new high school although he doesn’t have an answer as to where to build it. He thinks Veterans High School would have been the best location, but that option came off the table when it was upgraded and made into a middle school.
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