I had every intention of attending the ceremony in Springfield on June 30th marking the departure of the Springfield Control Board and the return of the city to independent governance. However, at the last minute something came up and I couldn't go. I was a little disappointed, but not particularly, since I suspected that a lot of asshole politicians would be there. According to photos of the event by Bill Dusty, I was not mistaken.
Of all the Grand Poohbahs onstage one in particular was conspicuous in his absense: current Congressman and former Springfield mayor Richard Neal. Perhaps staying away because of a guilt complex over his own role in making the Control Board necessary?
Of course also absent was former Mayor Mike Albano, who wisely stayed away lest the sight of him cause the citizens present to fly into a rage, resulting in Albano being tarred, feathered and thrown into the Connecticut River.
Or would he? Everyone seemed to agree at the ceremony that, thanks to the Control Board, Springfield is in stronger financial shape than it's been in decades. But what about political shape? Afterall, whether or not the gains made by the Control Board can be preserved is heavily dependent upon the poltical leadership the city has. There the outlook is not so encouraging.
For example, current mayoral candidate Bud Williams has accepted campaign cash from Albano. So has City Councilor Jimmy Ferrara. The public revelation of these contributions by the Valley Advocate did not inspire either of them to return the money or issue an apology. Apparently being a "Friend of Mike" is still not considered taboo, at least not witnin the inner circles of city governance.
But it's worse than even that, as notorious Albano stooges like Brian Santaniello and Peter Murphy are brazenly running for office. You would think they would be ashamed to do so, but for a long time serving in City Hall has meant never having to say you're sorry, even as the city falls apart all around them.
Indeed only one public official, Councilor Timothy Rooke, has ever publicly expressed regret for his own (relatively minor) role in the fall of Springfield. Everybody else has taken a "Who me?" approach to their responsibility, and frankly, why shouldn't they? The public has repeatedly shown that incompetence has no consequences at the polls.
Back in 2005, after the discovery of the 41 million dollar deficit, the uncomputerized City Hall where they couldn't even determine how many employees were on the payroll (talk about an invitation to corruption in a city where no invitation was ever necessary) where insiders paid no taxes, where the homeless shelter was turned into a slush fund, where the police commissioner chased Puerto Rican welfare mothers around hotel rooms with a wiffle bat, where a downtown "entertainment district" was run by City Hall insiders with mob connections, where visionless economic planners curried favor with privileged insiders, where the race card was repeatedly played for money and power, where the local media were cheerleaders for the crooks, where innovation was unwelcome, where the most devoted activists were encouraged to leave town and where any honest man or woman who appeared on the scene in any role was regarded as a threat.
After all of that, when the voters had a chance to express their outrage in 2005, what did they do? They re-elected every damn incumbent on the ballot.
So the Control Board may be gone, but what is to be done about the dumbest electorate in the Valley? Will voters set Springfield on the path to permanent recovery, or are the Albano party boys coming back on the scene? As an alternative to the former Albano loyalists Dom Sarno and Bud Williams, there is the fresh face of David Parkhurst. There are good candidates running for City Council this November, like John Lysak, Alexander Sherman, Mike Fenton, Robert Underwood, Melvin Edwards and others anxious to shake things up, but will they be shoved aside by the same old crowd?
That is the real test of whether Springfield has a brighter future ahead. Springfield's new era started not on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday, but is still to come on a Tuesday in November.
Here's a medley by Dusty of the vague comments and dull speeches made at the power transferring ceremony.
Everyone who serves as Governor of Massachusetts gets the honor of having their portrait hang in the statehouse until the end of time. Westfield State Representative Don Humason took these photos of the hanging of the portrait of the 70th Bay State Governor.
Former Massachusetts Governor (and future president?) Mitt Romney with his former Lieutenant Governor (and future senator?) Kerry Healy.
Here's me and "Muffy" Healy in 2003.
The portrait unveiled.
The portrait itself.
Many noted that Romney got his wife into the portrait by the picture on the desk. I guess marriage really does mean something to some Repubicans.
It's been over a year since the flophouse Augies' burned in Northampton, yet nothing has been done to reopen it.
However the antique store on the ground floor is still open. In the window is an example of something which used to fly every March over ol' Pine Point.
The staircase in Thornes Market got a new rug.
Faces finally went all the way and turned their entrance totally turquoise.
Weird but strangely moving.