The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sarno's Days

The first hundred.

Mayor Dominic Sarno

I've been meaning to post about the passing of the first 100 days of the Sarno mayoralty in Springfield. It is an arbitrary, though traditional ritual of American politics to judge a new office holder on the basis of what trends are indicated by the first one hundred days of their administration. By no means definitive nor always fair, it's still a worthwhile appraisal. Here is what I think are the most important things about Sarno's administration thus far.

1. No ethical challenges - The first 100 days of the Ryan Administration were filled with radical change, as Charles V. Ryan began his term with a widespread cleansing of City Hall as incompetents, hacks and crooks, some of whom had bled the city for decades, were quickly fired out the door. The biggest fear was that Dominic Sarno would reverse that, and invite the bad guys back inside City Hall. Such fears were magnified in the campaign by Sarno's close association with the notorious sleaze Charlie Kingston and the scandal plagued former State Rep. Ray Jordan. There were even rumors that Brian Santaniello might return as Election Commissioner. None of it has come to pass, as Sarno has successfully kept his shadier contacts at arms length. Critics claim that Sarno is merely afraid of the Control Board and will invite the bad boys back once they leave. However the fact is so far those who predicted that the election of Sarno would lead to a new ethical crisis have not been shown correct.

2. Biggest campaign promise not kept - The most dishonest aspect of Sarno's campaign was the implication that he could do something about the city's unpopular trash fee. Actually that is under the sole authority of the Control Board, which as anyone could have predicted has shown no interest in repealing it. It was a promise voters should have realized Sarno had no power to carry out in the first place. However Sarno depended on the the voters not to understand this, and no one ever lost an election by relying on the stupidity of the Springfield electorate.

3. Fitchet gets top police post - This is a good thing and a bad thing. It is a good thing because Fitchet is an insider and is unlikely to change anything to harm the department. It is a bad thing because Fitchet is an insider and unlikely to change anything to improve the department.

4. Shows some backbone - Critics claimed that Sarno was a lightweight who would be pushed around by local power players. Yet there's little evidence of that as Sarno has pretty much set his own policies, made his own choices and strongly defended them. One can argue over the wisdom of those choices and policies, but those who predicted that Sarno would be merely a figurehead mayor or a puppet for others are clearly wrong.

5. He's no Charlie Ryan - No matter how good Sarno turns out to be, we already had an old pro at the helm. Historians will forever shake their heads over why Ryan was shown the door.

6. Good humor - Sarno has held up well in the face of endless corny jokes about his hair. A sense of humor is an essential requirement for leading Springfield.

In conclusion, after 100 days the jury is still out on the Sarno mayoralty, but in general he's off to a solid start and the fears of his worst critics have thus far proven unfounded.

Here is a picture I found online of the first Earth Day celebration at UMass in 1970. Dig the geodesic dome!

It's funny how little UMass changes over the decades. If you went to that exact same spot today, and erected a geodesic dome, everything would look exactly the same. Here's a video I made at this year's UMass Earth Day showing an interesting demonstration of solar power.

Blues-tinged soul singers Avi and Celia raised a ruckus on Main Street in Northampton the other day by performing on the sidewalk for free. As shown in this humorous video, passerby threw them change, not realizing that the duo were performing later that evening at the Iron Horse for ten bucks at the door.


momentary madness said...

Looks like Bob Monkhouse in the early days, but you wouldn't know him I guess.
I don't know Dominic Sarno either;-)
"I slept lastnight in a good hotel I wen shopping today for jewels ...."

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