The days leading to the Control Board.
Here is something I wrote in 2004 just before Boston brought in the Control Board to run Springfield. Sadly, much of it still reads as if it were written this morning.
I'm getting interesting feedback about what's happening on Boston's end as the Romney Administration and the legislature consider Springfield's fate. Supposedly the attitude of Governor Romney and the state legislature toward Springfield has deteriorated due to an article that appeared in the Springfield paper on Saturday. In that nearly Orwellian front page piece, former Mayor Michael Albano was allowed to pompously and absurdly claim that it was entirely the state's fault that Springfield is on the brink of receivership.
The article was obviously written strictly for local consumption, with its main purpose being to provide political cover for the Albanoites who fear being politically ruined by the current crisis. It may also have been meant to protect the newspaper's own credibility, since they enthusiastically supported Albano in 1995, then again in 1997, then again in 1999 and again in 2001. They also supported for election and re-election the local politicians who backed Albano. If Albano is the bad guy, then most of the local media, and the daily paper in particular, look like fools or stooges or worse.
Over the weekend, someone (Eamon O'Sullivan?) went to the trouble of mailing that article to all of the key players in Boston, where it went over like a lead balloon. The article's implication that it was the mean ol' Romney Administration and the unjust legislature that was the sole cause of Springfield's problems, while Albano and the local politicians were mere innocent bystanders, infuriated many of the people holding Springfield's fate in their hands. It supposedly was what inspired the presentation offered by Eric Kriss yesterday detailing the financial mismanagement in Springfield.
That presentation was only sketchily described in the local media, but I've been told that it was absolutely devastating in its utterly irrefutable demonstration of the obscene party the Albanoites had at the public's expense. I'm told that at some points the Springfield people present could only look at the ground in embarrassment, unable to think of a thing to say in their own defense.
My heart goes out to poor Charlie Ryan. Politically he is in an absolutely impossible situation. He needs the help of the local legislative delegation and other elected officials in order to block receivership. It is a terribly difficult balancing act he's trying to perform requiring great diplomacy in a lot of contradictory directions, but trust me, privately he is under no illusions about who is responsible for this trainwreck.
If we can just stumble across the July 1st deadline without going bankrupt and with a control board instead of full receivership, then I'm certain Charlie will leave us with a budget surplus obtained under conditions Springfield can live with and use successfully as a platform for recovery.
Sadly, if the political bickering and evasions among the various parties on the local level continues much longer, Governor Romney is likely to lose all patience and just tell us to go to hell. Then we will have a one person dictator come in and fire and cut at will until the books balance, no matter what the quality of life is like when it's all over.
The current crisis doesn't have to mean the end of Springfield. In fact it can be the beginning of a new era of revival and renewal. But to be that we have to be honest and accept this bitter medicine, and not lie to ourselves and others about who got us here. Now is the time for the city to unite so we can get through the next few weeks.
For years Springfield has floated in a bubble of unreality, dreaming it was "The Comeback City of America." Meanwhile the rest of the state could plainly see that for eight years we had a charlatan mayor, a do-nothing City Council and a craven local media. Springfield in general, and those who served under Michael J. Albano in particular, do not want to face the reality of their own responsibility for the financial crisis the city now finds itself in. They prefer to insult the Governor, blame the legislature and walk off with a $52 million grant while leaving themselves unharmed. It is a measure of how deep in denial Springfield is that no one realized how audacious and ridiculous that pose looked to the people in Boston. Any discussion of the issues that does not begin with a condemnation of Albano lacks credibility.
I'm told that when Charlie Ryan was making one of his presentations of how he intends to take Springfield in a new direction, Eric Kriss ruined Charlie's momentum by asking, "But how long will you be in office?" In that question was raised the spectre of what appears to be the biggest stumbling block to Springfield getting the bailout, which is the uncertainty in the legislature over whether Springfield has really decided to change. While Mayor Ryan has done an excellent job of removing the worst scoundrels from City Hall, like Dougherty, Haberlin and Santaniello, there is still no guarantee that the Albanoites and their cronies will not return once the city's finances are sound enough for them to resume their orgy of greed.
A financial bailout is something the state has shown a willingness to consider, but a political bailout is out of the question. As long as the name Albano is still respected, as long as his supporters remain poised to return to the feeding trough, no one will trust us with any money, nor should they. After the name Albano has been turned to mud, with his cronies and supporters politically humiliated, stripped of all power and, if necessary, prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, only then will Boston be convinced that a truly new era has dawned. What Boston fears is that the current reforms are just an aberration, where Charlie Ryan cleans things up only so the bad guys can make a comeback. Boston wants to be reassured that the public knows who the bad guys are, what they did, and understands why they must never be allowed to return.
In other words, Springfield cannot embark on a new future, until it finds the courage to fully face its past.
Now it is 2008, and I'm still not convinced it really has.
Just call me Tang.
There is a person at the Amherst Survival Center who speaks Chinese. I asked her what my name was in Chinese and she said this is how "Thomas" is written.
Actually, Thomas is a Christian name and therefore has no native Chinese translation. However, my friend said that a Chinese name that begins with a T and is as common in China as the name Thomas is in the United States and Europe is "Tang." Gosh, if I went to China would I be mistaken for an orange flavored powdered soft drink?
China has one of the fastest growing populations of internet users in the world. However, it also has one of the most strictly censored. Therefore it is unlikely anyone in China can read my blog, as there are at least two aspects of this blog that would be forbidden in China. For one there is my libertarian views supporting maximum liberty for everyone, as China remains one of the world's last surviving Communist dictatorships. The other is my homosexuality, which is technically illegal in China. In reality, there are well-known gay bars in every Chinese city, where you can openly dance with same-sex partners and go home with a new lover every night if you want to without interference. It's okay as long as you don't force anyone to openly acknowledge what you are doing. Because if you so much as whisper the phrase "I am gay" in public, then you face arrest and imprisonment.
The love that dare not speak its name indeed!
After all that rain it is nice to finally have a sunny day. Below Metawampe is chief of all he surveys of the UMass campus this morning.
Here is my neighbor's barn, now converted to a garage, last night at dusk.
Sorry Ladies, but I can't help what makes me laugh:
How many men does it take to open a beer?
None. It should be opened by the time she brings it.
Why is a Laundromat a really bad place to pick up a woman?
Because a woman who can't even afford a washing machine will probably never be able to support you.
How do you know when a woman is about to say something smart?
When she starts her sentence with "A man once told me..."
How do you fix a woman's watch?
No need to. There is a clock on the oven.
If your dog is barking at the back door and your wife is yelling at the front door, who do you let in first?
The dog, of course. He'll shut up once you let him in.
In the beginning, God created the earth and rested.
Then God created Man and rested.
Then God created Woman.
Since then, neither God nor Man has rested.