Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Political Symphony...

Yesterday at Symphony Hall in Springfield, politicians on all levels gathered for the inauguration of Mayor Domenic Sarno and the swearing in of the City Council and School Committee. In a rare display of civic pomp and circumstance, Sarno took the oath of office before a crowd that filled the orchestra seat and parts of the second level (loge). The Mistress of Ceremony was Sarno's chief of staff, Denise Jordan.

The processional onto the stage was led by an honor guard provided by the Springfield Fire & Police Departments. The Springfield Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet provided the music. Vanessa Ford sang the national anthem, while Sarno's daughters, Cassandra and Chiarinia, said the Pledge of Allegiance. Michael Ashe, Sheriff of Hampden County called the inauguration to order. An invocation was offered by Rabbi David Edelman, Dean of Yeshiva Academy.

City Clerk Wayman Lee administered the oath of office for the City Council and School Committee. Afterward, "You Raise Me Up" was sung by Josephe Broadnax and then a prayer was offered by Rev. Dr. Howard John Wesley. Later blessings were offered by Rev. Pedro Osorio and Rev. Robert White. Songs were sung by the Edward Boland School Chorus including the "Springfield Song" and "God Bless America."

Speakers included US Representative Richard Neal, State Rep. Thomas Petrolati, Speaker Pro-Tempore, and State Senator Stephen Buoniconti offering greetings from their respective bodies.

Sarno was sworn in by City Clerk Lee and former mayor the Honorable Mary Hurley, First Justice Chicopee District Court.

In his inauguration speech, Sarno praised his predecessor Charles Ryan for his work during the city's fiscal crisis. Sarno also served on the Control Board as City Council President in 2004. Sarno also thanked his family, and his parents, immigrants from Italy, for all their help in reaching the Mayor's Office.

As far as goals, Sarno narrowed his agenda to five points.

1. Sarno advocated an emphasis on public safety calling for 50 additional officers be hired for the department, when/if money can be found.
Although the need for public safety is real, it is hard to say whether extra police officers will do the trick. Springfield already has an above average number of officers to citizens. Improving public safety requires more than extra cops.

2. Public education was Sarno's close second for priorities. He announced that he would be an activist chair of the school committee and call for efforts at the middle school level to keep kids interested in learning through high school and beyond.
This could work, but the how will be tougher, stay tuned.

3. Economic development in the form of tax base and jobs growth was noted as being a priority for fiscal stability. Fiscal discipline was folded into this. He specifically noted Riverfront development and the former Crane property in Indian Orchard. Sarno also advocated efforts to help people keep their homes amidst the mortgage crisis.
Sarno could be in the best position to get this achieved, but a great deal of this will require outside forces to continue investing in the city and in greater amounts. State help is a must, too.

4. Sarno called for a continuation of basic services, specifically mentioning the trash fee. He once again called for it to be abolished.
In a nod to the fiscal realities, Sarno called for the trash fee to be rescinded as soon as is financially possible. The less combative tone is crucial.

5. Finally, Sarno called for better environmental stewardship by the city, namely carbon footprint reductions and energy efficiency.
Help from the state on this, too, will be necessary, but local efforts will go a long way, too.

Overall, it was a very good speech. Not too much overreaching. There appears to be great things he can do for the city. However, that is contingent on Sarno keeping his administration honest and not slide back into the darkness of the past.

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