Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Farewell Good Servants
Sup? I'm sorry for not posting yesterday, but I was in Springfield all day, starting in the morning with the last meeting of the "old" Financial Control Board and ending with the evening kick-off rally for Karen Powell's City Council campaign. The day kept getting more and more out of hand, as my days will, until this morning I woke up on Bill Dusty's couch in Springfield's South end.
The things I do to keep you informed.
Anyway, today we'll go over the Control Board meeting, and tomorrow I'll tell you about the Powell pow-wow. This was a special meeting of the Control Board, because it was the last one with the members appointed by former Governor Mitt Romney.
The meeting started with a public speak out, which was dominated by people from Sumner Avenue School who were angry that their principal was transferred.
It was a good presentation, but with an air of futility to it. The speakers seemed unaware that the members of the Board they were appealing to were essentially fired at the end of that meeting, to be replaced by the political appointees of Deval Patrick, and therefore unable to do anything for Sumner Avenue even if they wanted to.
Teacher's Union leader Timothy Collins, who has fought bitterly with the Board over the past two years, struck a conciliatory tone as the board members depart.
Despite their past battles, Collins showed he had class by giving the board a respectful farewell. He did manage to deliver a few thinly veiled zingers however, referring to how he had at one point been called "rapacious" (a fifty cent word meaning greed-crazed) and reminded them that the fiscal crisis had led to massive loss of teachers and administrators. Others in city government also addressed the board to thank them for their years of service, such as park department head Pat Sullivan.
Did you know that Pat Sullivan is the nephew of telephone answering machine editorialist Eamon T. O'Sullivan?
During the break between the end of the speak out and the beginning of the actual meeting, TV reporter Sy Becker chatted with the Sumner School protesters while School Superintendent Joseph Burke arrived.
Had the protesters stayed for the whole meeting, instead of departing right after the speak out, they would have heard Burke defend the transfer of the principal as necessary to the pursuit of educational excellence throughout the system.
With one foot out the door, there wasn't a hell of a lot for the board to do at its last meeting, but they did present a fascinating overview of the city's new budget. As they went over each aspect of it, it was made repeatedly apparent the tremendous strides the city has taken under the wise guidance of Mayor Ryan and the Control Board. Again, it only underlined how unfortunate it was to replace the dynamic talents of the board members, who apparently were replaced for no reason except hard, cold politics.
On the other hand, as activist Sheila McElwaine was impressing upon me, this is the beginning of a new era in Springfield's recovery, and while the old board did an outstanding job of fixing the basic underlying structure of Springfield government there is a new era beginning that requires new talent. In any case, it is premature to be critical of the new board, and they should be greeted with encouragement and support during the first phase of their tenure. I intend to make it to the first meeting of the new board, so as to do a compare and contrast of the new and old board based on my first impressions. All citizens should withhold judgement until the new members can be observed in action.
Everyone was delighted to see in the audience none other than original board member Tom Trimarco (right) who came by to see his former colleagues finish their gig.
The city indeed owes a great debt to the departing Control Board members, who did very difficult work on the public's behalf with sometimes little more than insults as their reward. They have indeed set a very high standard for the new board members to try to match.
Here is a video survey of the room.
In Westfield recently I saw this sign in a sportsman shop window.
Like all red-blooded Americans, I have an almost erotic fascination with weapons of all kinds.
I leave you with this saying I saw chalked on a blackboard in the Amherst Starbucks.