Tomorrow is Election Day in the Hoop City and unlike the municipal election of two years ago, much of this election is a snooze. Yes, the mayoral race was a snooze then, too, but at least we had real races in the wards and to some extent at-large. But here it goes.
For mayor our pick is...Jose Tosado:
Not to long ago we hurled salacious charges at Tosado, but no more. However, our endorsement of him is less a mark of his impression on us, but our dissatisfaction with Mayor Domenic Sarno. Specifically, three events come to mind that trouble us deeply enough to call for Sarno to move on.
First of all his and his administration's behavior in the wake of the budget process this year was inexcusable. Whether Sarno likes it or not, this council is not the body that he served on and his decision to fulfill the indiscriminate cuts the council passed only in ways that would cause the most visible consequences is a cheap political trick. Furthermore, he disingenuously accused the council of cutting police overtime, an event that never happened, then he demanded it be restored. In fact the cut was enacted by the mayor in his proposed budget and he then demanded the council restore his own cut. Blaming the council for his action was simply dirty pool.
Second Sarno has allowed his building commissioner and law department to condone the issuance of a building permit to Palmer Renewable in direct opposition to the council's will. In deference to them he should have demanded the permit be withheld until all litigation with the commonwealth and the city was settled. Finally, the mayor's response to the most recent storm exposes a fatal flaw in the mayor's political machine. Unlike the tornado, the entire city's electrical infrastructure was damaged and out for over a week in some places. Consequently, governing by press conference was a woefully outdated means of communication. Without power nobody can watch TV and be updated. There were no text alerts, no tweets and no meaningful Facebook updates. Whether Sarno realizes it or not he is presiding over a time of transition in the city and an insistence to maintain the old political infrastructure at the expense of thew new only harms the city as a whole.
Tosado by contrast has at least made far more of an effort to engage these new media and means of communication. Although he came to fiscal religion late, his votes to bring the city's budget under control, however painful, were crucial to preserve the city's limited reserve funds. In a past interview with WMassP&I Tosado expressed an interest in greater municipal cooperation and smarter policing that addresses actual problem areas and not areas where crime is minimal, but political influence is great. He deserves his chance at the mayor's chair.
For City Council we decline to endorse in the Ward 8 race due to the dirty nature of the campaign. Admittedly, we did not research this race well, but whomever the winner is, we assure you that we will do our best to give Indian Orchard the attention it deserves. We failed them in the lead up to the election and we apologize for that. This leaves us with only the at-large seats.
Tim Rooke deserves to be returned to the council. Although he voted against rescinding PRE's biomass permit, we found his reasons, on the surface at least, to be genuine and with conviction. More importantly he and councilor Walsh actually showed up to cast those votes in opposition. We do not agree with that vote and he and Walsh have both benefited from the Callahan family's deep pockets. However, Rooke offers other things that merit his reelection. His opposition to the city's real estate deals, perhaps at times ad nauseum, shows a genuine interest and not merely a stated one in protecting the city's money. We remain impressed by his apology for not doing more to curb the excesses of the Albano administration. Tim Rooke is not perfect, but if there is any at-large incumbent that has earned his continued service on the council it is he.
Amaad Rivera should be elected to an at-large seat. Despite the best efforts of some to portray Rivera as a misogynist radical that reality is simply not true. When he first came to the council to replace Keith Wright, we fell prey to that line of thinking and it was wrong then and it is wrong now. While Rivera's activist politics are jarring for us as much as anybody for a city that can barely get excited for the Fourth of July, we know that he votes with diligence and conviction. He voted to curb the mayor's budget and protect the city's reserves, hardly the mark of a tax & spend liberal. He along with several ward councilors got a foreclosure ordinance through the council unanimously. Many, like us, were expecting a gross caricature of a left-winger, but as with the Occupy movement, the reality does not match the rumor. If you honestly believe a vote for Rivera is a vote for everything you hate then you need to seriously take stock of your life. Consider therapy. In the meantime, an honest reflection of his actual voting record shows one of reasonable policy and good government, something that eluded Springfield for a generation. Cast your ballot for Ammad Rivera.
Um, that's it. The rest of the council lot is not particularly impressive. We will offer these cautions, however. Councilor James Ferrera is simply not what he appears to be. In our recent report on his connection to the Probation scandal, we noted that Ferrera has mutated from a grassroots outsider to consummate insider while only heckling the council with redundant marijuana ordinances and home rule legislation that dies on the Beacon Hill. He says he is for fiscal discipline, but his votes on the budget tell a different story. He says he is for the environment, but the best he can often do is berate city officials for not buying technology that not sold in the United States. We have been unimpressed with him for years and anybody who thinks that this belief is an revolution of the last year has either never read this blog until now or never watched a council meeting where the evidence of Ferrera's true nature is as clear as day.
Elsewhere Bud Williams should not return to the council. Of the many black leaders in the city, it is sad that this man who has connections to the Albano team and is so enthralled by municipal government that he fell asleep at a public meeting is the one voters are most likely to return to city hall.
Thomas Ashe in two years on the council has done little if anything to distinguish himself in any meaningful way. While we could say the same of several ward councilors, they do not face an election of any significance.
That's it. You may draw your own conclusions on the other candidates. Certainly silence is just as deafening as the above diatribe, but the other candidates for the at-large seat are neither impressive nor terribly troubling. Their term is only two years and if they goof up too badly we will be there as we will be watching Ken Shea the unopposed candidate for the open Ward 6 seat. Shout outs to Ward 2 Councilor Mike Fenton, Ward 3 Councilor Melvin Edwards, Ward 4 Counilor E. Henry Twiggs and Ward 7 Councilor Tim Allen, who though unopposed, deserve to continue serving their wards and the city of Springfield for another term!