Flynn Gets His
The first sense I had that Charlie Ryan was in trouble in his 2007 re-election bid was from the TV screen; when I saw those ads with Dom Sarno and the trash cans. At first I was pleased to note that Sarno had a bright red Commerce sweatshirt on, but by the time the ad was over I was mad.
I was mad because Sarno was promising in that ad something I knew he couldn't deliver - the repeal of the trash fee. I had never supported the fee - whatever else was wrong with Springfield, it wasn't that the citizens were under-taxed. After all the pain that Springfield had been put through by the Albano's and the Keoughs and the Phillips and the sleazes and incompetents of every stripe, the citizens didn't deserve a tax hike on top of it. I thought it showed a lack of understanding by the Control Board to insist on such a thing.
But the key point was that the Control Board, and not the elected officials like Ryan or Sarno, were the only one's with the authority to repeal the fee. They had already firmly stated that they had no intention of doing so. So Ryan had no power to repeal the fee, and Sarno knew that, yet he was blaming Ryan for not doing so. Sarno also knew that if he himself were elected mayor, the Control Board would still be in control and he would be helpless to repeal the fee. And that is exactly what happened.
So even by political standards - hell, even by Springfield standards - Sarno's ad was about as bold-faced an act of outright lying and conscious deception as you could imagine. I knew Charlie would be at a great disadvantage against those ads, because Ryan is too much of a gentleman to stoop to the level needed to match that kind of dirty fight.
And there were other disadvantages Ryan brought to the race. Bringing Springfield back from the brink of fiscal disaster had required making some very difficult decisions. It meant firing some popular people who were none the less doing a lousy job. People like Springfield Police Chief Paula Meara, who everybody liked but who no one thought was getting a handle on Springfield's rising crime rate. The fear of crime, both real and imagined, is a major barrier to Springfield's recovery, since no one wants to live where they don't feel safe. The middle-class is not returning to Springfield until crime is under control. Crime fighting in Springfield needed a fresh face.
The problem was Meara didn't want to go. She rallied her friends, made angry statements and called in her lawyers. In the end Charlie had to expend a tremendous amount of political capital and taxpayer's money to ease Meara off the stage. You might say he staked his entire second term on relieving Springfield's crime problem through shaking up the upper ranks of the police department, beginning with the Chief. The man chosen to replace Meara was a state official named Edward Flynn.
I met Flynn only once, at some political shindig held at the artspace the Keith Sikes Gang used to run out of the old Valley Bank Space in Tower Square (to some of us forever Baystate West). Here is a video I shot that day.
So after all Charlie had gambled on Edward Flynn, when the news reached me in rehab that Flynn had suddenly quit to take a job in the Midwest, I knew Charlie was finished. Flynn's departure, after having been in town such a short time, killed any chance that Ryan could run on the crime issue. Since battling crime had been the centerpiece of Ryan's second term, and now he couldn't run on it without bringing up the embarrassment of having lost the man he bought out Meara for, and with Sarno's dishonest ads all over TV, I knew Charlie had no chance of winning. There was nothing for me to do than to ring the nurse for more medication.
Of course what's causing me to recall all these things is the big scandal that has erupted out west over an illicit romance Flynn has gotten caught up in. It's the sort of sordid affair that ruins a man's career and ultimately overshadows all his other accomplishments. Whether he manages to hold onto his job or not is irrelevant, Flynn's day is done.
I'm sure Flynn is preoccupied now with the firestorm of media surrounding him, and coping with the personal fall-out of having betrayed his wife. But I hope, in the course of it all, he pauses perhaps for a moment to consider another person he let down, a man who staked his mayoralty on his character, and who he also betrayed. I hope Flynn thinks a little bit about karma. About how when you do something wrong to someone, something bad has a tendency to happen to you a little further down the road.
Karma - What goes around comes around. Looks like its coming round to you, Chief Flynn.
To Chief Flynn.