The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Monday, December 10, 2007

Truth at Last

Better late than never.

I must say I am pleased with the article in yesterday's Republican about the Springfield homeless shelter's recovery from years of corruption. The Stephanie Barry article did a nice job of summarizing the total picture of what went on at Springfield's homeless shelter under the now imprisoned former director Francis Keough. It isn't a pretty picture:

The charges accused Keough of fleecing the homeless charity through no-show job scams, stealing appliances and other goods for his personal use; trading subsidized housing vouchers for sexual favors; and using shelter employees (working on public time) and the homeless to spruce up his residences.

Yet this was a man who was once the City Council President, and when then Councilors Kateri Walsh and Barbara Garde demanded that Keough be removed from power after he was indicted on (the original) array of charges, politicians all over the city leaped to his defense. Now all who ever defended Keough, called him a friend or allied themselves with him politically, must now hang their heads in shame.

Especially gratifying was to read this passage from the article:

A former Springfield City Council president who pleaded guilty to tax evasion in the late 1980s, Keough seemed a curious choice when he was hired in 1994 over the strong objections of homeless advocates in the city.

A real estate developer with no experience in human services, Keough was hired after the board fired director Margaret Cahillane without cause. Social service leaders at the time pointed to a platform he championed on the council to limit affordable housing in the city.

"I'd be hard-pressed to think of a worse choice," Bernie Cohen, then-president of the Affordable Housing Alliance, told a reporter when Keough's hire was announced.

However, Keough ran the shelter with its more than $1 million annual budget with little public strife until a federal corruption probe drew him in.

For years I have been pointing out that Keough was chosen for the homeless position even though he had no known qualifications for the job and applicants with their doctorates in social work were passed over. However, it was impossible, outside of the Valley Advocate, to get anyone else to point out this obvious truth. Many are critical of him today, but it was not easy to attack Keough, as I did, when he was at the height of his power.

It is especially gratifying that it is the Springfield Newspapers who are now verifying my observations. After all, it was David Starr, the president of the Springfield Newspapers, who was on the board of the Friends of the Homeless at the time Keough was hired and his paper editorialized strongly in Keough's behalf. Of course they left that important detail out of the story, but hey, at least they finally admitted the truth that those who opposed Keough's hiring were right all along.

Still, there is more that could have been said. Why was Springfield's political establishment so damned and determined to put a sleazy character like Keough into a job he was neither qualified for nor deserved? We will never know the full story, but what is known is intriguing. At the time Keough was hired, a major corruption probe into Springfield by then State Attorney General Scott Harshbarger had just been concluded. That was when Keough was indicted while Council President, and the charges against him were eventually settled with a plea bargain. Among the terms was the agreement that Keough would testify fully about any other political figures that Harshbarger wanted information on.

Which figures? According to the Washington Post and the Boston Globe, the target of Harshbarger's probe was Congressman Richard Neal. So when all of a sudden Francis Keough was given this juicy job with all these opportunities for self-enrichment (which apparently he took full advantage of) it was hard not to wonder whether this was a way to make sure that the guy who had agreed as part of his plea bargain to rat on everyone else would keep his mouth shut.

But what matters now is to see the Springfield Newspapers finally coming clean about some of these things and thereby sending a much needed message to all of our local media that the time has come to finally tell the truth.

Hey, look at this cool portrait a friend made of me from a picture using a computer program. Actually the picture was taken a few days ago by John Lysak at the Haymarket Cafe. The artsy computerized version is by Timmy Mac.

I look a little ghostly, but then since I sort of disappeared into rehab for two months after almost dying from drug abuse maybe that's only appropriate.

Speaking of drugs, my Dad, a nicotine addict for over sixty years, is having part of one lung removed at 4:30 this afternoon. Your prayers would be appreciated.

At lunchtime at UMass a DJ and a soundboard suddenly appeared.

Students arrived colorfully dressed and wearing masks.

The following flyer was passed out to everyone:

This is NOT a protest.
This is NOT a rally.
This is a parade.

It's time for all of us, from wherever we may be from around the world, to come together.
For all of us, as a people, to unite.

There is too much separation in this world and we need to start fixing that. Change has got to start somewhere. Why not have it be here?

Join us and dance.
Join us and sing.
Join us...
because together...we can...
we will make things change.

So dance, dammit, while you still can.


dominique said...

Frannie Keough's brother worked as a civil investigator for the AG's office back around 1992 - I can't remember his first name. He was caused to be unemployed very shortly after Harshbarger took office. Another interesting personality who worked in the same position was Julian Pellegrino, son Kathleen and brother of former city councilor Raipher. I believe Julian lasted until the end of Harshbarger's 1st term, maybe longer.

I have a ton of respect for Harshbarger, the man's integrity is utterly unmatched. It's a shame he was never able to wade through the corruption and become governor.

Anonymous said...

I think this is great... I'm glad UMass is showing a little spice

loosegoose said...

Why wasn't I invited to the dancing party?