Oh no, don't tell me we've slithered around to another local election! Well, I guess I must do my duty and advise you how to vote. Not that I expect you to follow my advice, I certainly don't allow anyone to tell me how to cast my ballot and neither should you. However if you're a wiseass like me who spends the whole campaign season pretending to be some kind of ultra-informed pundit, then I think I owe it to you, dear readers, at the end of the process to give you my frank opinion of who I perceive as being the best (and worst) candidates and who I think will win. Of course the voters may end up making me look like a fool at the polls tomorrow if my preditions turn out wrong and my appraisals incorrect, but that won't bother me. You don't play this game as long as I have without developing the hide of a rhinocerous.
Let's start with the Springfield Mayor's race:
The long awaited arrival of ward representation in Springfield has turned out to be something of a dud, at least in the short term. Of course it didn't help that for at least three decades the corrupt Democrat Party machine in Springfield, afraid of talent and hateful towards idealism, systematically drove out of town nearly everyone who wasn't a criminal or a hack. Now the talent pool is so thin that when ward representation finally arrived to water down the power of the political establishment, there really were hardly any good activists left still living in town to vote for. Yet, it is crucially important that the few decent candidates win.
Unfortunately, at the top of the ticket there are no decent candidates. There are instead Dom Sarno and Bud Williams, with Sarno being the least undesirable. Ironically, less than a year ago voters were anxious to punish Sarno for doing a bait and switch job on the city's hated trash fee, which Sarno used to dupe voters into foolishly choosing him over the sainted Charles V. Ryan. However, if the only alternative is Williams, then voters would only punish themselves by dumping Sarno.
I like Bud Williams, but he has no business running for mayor. In fact if elected he wouldn't even really be mayor, the real power behind the throne would be his best friend and controversial deal maker Frederic Hurst. Both Williams and Hurst were shameless servants of Mike Albano during his reign of incompetence and corruption, and they have long associations with some of the shadiest characters in town. You don't want to find out who shows up in City Hall once Williams and Hurst are in charge. Therefore, the wisest voters will put a clothespin on their nose and vote for Sarno.
Fortunately there are some good candidates to choose further down the ballot. Fiscal conservative Tim Rooke deserves a return to the City Council, and would have able allies by his side if Pine Point's John Lysak and former Councilor Carol Caulton were elected as well. Dynamic School Commitee member Antonette Pepe deserves re-election as does Chris Collins. Joe Flebotte (below) MUST defeat Albano stooge Peter Murphy.
Predictions - Voters re-elect Sarno, but without enthusiasm as Williams gets a depressingly high percentage even as he loses. The councilor and school committee candidates I chose will all win despite being saddled with my endorsement.
Next let's look at the mayor's race in Northampton:
M. Clare Higgins
It's odd how hotly contested this race is, since it is between two big government liberals with no known differences on any significant issue. With no issues to disagree on, the race had no place to go but to become very personal. The real challenge to whoever wins the mayoralty is to try and reunite the city after so much hard feelings on both sides.
Simply put, challenger Mike Bardsley hasn't made a compelling case to remove incumbent Clare Higgins. She may have suffered a little from the hubris that comes from holding an office for a longtime, but her second place finish in the primary was a sufficient wake up call. There are big budget cuts coming at the end of this fiscal year, and Northampton will need a seasoned pro like Clare in charge to squeeze the pennies. Higgins was a clear underdog two weeks ago, but indications are that she's surging in the homestretch.
Prediction: It's Mary Clare in a squeaker. Dave Narkowicz takes one of the at-large seats.
Turning to the World Wrestling Federation, um...I mean Agawam politics:
Despite occasionally keeping bad company (see above) I endorse Richard Cohen for Mayor of Agawam. It's not like I have much choice. His challenger, once perceived as an appealing fresh face, has turned out to be Anthony Ardolino without the smarts. There are some high profile write-in candidates also running, but it is impossible to win on a write-in campaign. Cohen, a competent mayor who was thrown out for boring the voters to death, now looks like dynamic leadership in light of the scandal plagued current mayor and the painfully inexperienced kid trying to succeed her.
Prediction; Plodding virtue triumphs over reckless youth as Cohen takes it in a landslide.
Here's a good three minute video explaining how "Ayn Rand is proving to be even more influential in the 21st century than she was in the 20th."
Paglia Slams Media
Feminist philosopher and literary critic Camille Paglia recently made some insightful comments:
I have been deeply impressed by the citizen outrage that spilled out into town hall meetings this year. And I remain shocked at the priggish derision of the mainstream media (locked in their urban enclaves) toward those events. This was a moving spectacle of grassroots American democracy in action. Aggrieved voters have a perfect right to shout at their incompetent and irresponsible representatives. American citizens are under no duty whatever to sit in reverent silence to be fed propaganda and half-truths.
The mainstream media's failure to honestly cover last month's mass demonstration in Washington, D.C. was a disgrace. The focus on anti-Obama placards (which were no worse than the rabid anti-LBJ, anti-Reagan or anti-Bush placards of leftist protests), combined with the grotesque attempt to equate criticism of Obama with racism, simply illustrated why the old guard TV networks and major urban daily newspapers are slowly dying. Only a simpleton would believe what they say.
As you know everyday I traverse the woodland way into downtown Northampton, which is particularly beautiful this time of year.
However, it takes away from the beauty to stumble upon this.
Actually there seems to have been a rash of hateful graffiti painted around town recently. I wish whoever is behind it would go find someplace else to be an asshole.
Iron Horse dude Jim Neill was a work of art for Halloween.
School for the Dead playing in the park.
Mary Carey captured this gorgeous shot of the Halloween moon rising over the Norwottock Trail.