Tuesday I was in Springfield all day, starting in the morning with the Springfield Control Board meeting at City Hall (see previous post) and at night at the official kickoff rally for the Karen Powell for City Council campaign. In between I sort of shlepped around my old stomping grounds of ol' Pine Point, going to lunch at Tony's Pizza on Boston Road. There I ran into former City Councilor Barbara Garde. She said that she's been drinking heavily since she left office.
Just kidding. Actually she said she's enjoying life after politics very much.
After lunch I wandered across the street to visit Doyle the diabetic Twig Painter to see how he's doing (lousy) where he took this picture of me. Not bad aim for a blind guy.
At around 5:30 I headed over to the John Boyle O'Reilly Club, where my family rules and where the rally was to be held.
Greeting arrivals at the door was former City Councilor Carol Lewis-Caulton (left) and North End activist Germaine Kennedy.
Another former Springfield City Councilor on hand was Paul Sears.
Sears is best remembered for having cried out in warning that it was folly to build the New North Elementary School (now Gerena) on a sandy swamp by the riverfront. Millions of dollars later, time has proven Sears completely correct.
Also present was conservative bloger Bill Dusty (left) and activist Michael Gosselin.
Here City Councilor Timothy Rooke chats with former mayoral aide Michelle Webber.
Here's a picture of the candidate herself, surrounded on her right by her husband Bob Powell and on her left by current City Councilor Bud Williams and the Master of Ceremonies John O'Brien of the #1 ranked radio show Bax and O'Brien.
O'Brien's introductory remarks were hilarious. Explaining that he alters his name depending on the gig, he introduced himself as "John Boyle O'Brien." He then lashed into local politicians with acidic wit, telling the audience that City Councilor Bill Foley had intended to attend, but abruptly cancelled upon hearing that no TV cameras were present. State Representative Angelo Puppulo, who had stayed only briefly and then left, was declared by O'Brien to have departed because "he realized he'd already won an election and didn't need to stay." He even poked fun at me and fellow blogger Dusty, saying that we "lived our lives on computers" and therefore were as close to real live women as we ever get. Of course I never go in search of women, so the joke didn't really apply to me, but I took the ribbing in good humor and resisted an urge to shout out, "Stop, you're making my boyfriend jealous!"
The biggest laugh of the night was at the expense of State Representative Benjamin Swan, who was there as a Powell supporter.
O'Brien said that Swan had bought him a drink, but refused pay the taxes on it! The line, based on Swan's infamous controversies over unpaid taxes, made the audience howl with laughter, and to his credit Swan himself took it in good humor.
O'Brien suggested that Karen Powell make use as a spokesperson for her anti-crime commercials the individual who was shot and injured the other day in Springfield, a person who had also survived the Kennedy Fried Chicken shooting in January. O'Brien said the victim could be used in commerials to encourage people afraid of crime to move to the city with the slogan, "We may have lots of shootings in Springfield, but our aim is terrible!"
Referring to a biographical sketch of Powell on Dusty's website, O'Brien recounted how Karen and her husband had been the founders of the activist group that opposed a taxpayer financed needle exchange program in Springfield called CANE, for Citizens Against Needle Exchange. O'Brien joked that the needle exchange supporters were campaigning under the name Citizens Utilizing Needle Technology, which is getting a little bit raunchy considering the Mayor of Springfield was sitting just a few feet away. Everyone groaned, but with a smile on their face.
Before his talk reached the point that the vice squad would have to be called in, O'Brien surrendered the microphone to award-winning Springfield educator Melinda Pellerin-Duck, who gave a surprisingly fiery speech, openly denouncing those politicians who had passively allowed the widespread corruption of the Albano years to continue until the FBI was forced to step in. She was then followed by Mayor Charles V. Ryan, who gave an overview of his long political relationship with the Powells, including the infamous Simon for Mayor campaign. Here is a picture I took earlier in the evening of Mayor Ryan and his wife Joan with School Committee member Antonette Pepe.
At last the candidate herself spoke to a wildly cheering crowd.
I spoke to Mayor Ryan and asked him whether there were other reformers running for Council seats this year, and aside from GOP candidate John Lysak there don't seem to be many. Dom Sarno, who is giving up his seat to run against Ryan, appears to be creating the only vacancy. Widespread rumors that incumbent Rose Marie Mazza-Moriarty was stepping down appear to be unfounded. That only makes it even more important that voters rally with enthusiasm behind whatever challengers enter the field, especially behind a proven reformer like Karen Powell.
Here is a video survey of the room and a snippet of O'Brien's comments.
Hey, it's the first day of summer! The weather is just gorgeous, officially beginning summerlike activities already underway. On the Amherst town common recently a woman sits reading on the grass.
Some people prefer to read not on the grass but in the air, like this kid reading a comic book near Amherst College.
A baby rabbit appeared in my yard and sat as co-operative as a model while I photographed it.
Finally, here is the ultimate summer song.