**This post has been updated to reflect additional reporting and council committee statistics and to replace broken links to pictures.**
Inaugurating a new city council in Springfield is more than just one day. It is a process that in its way takes several days from the fanfare of the inauguration itself to the first formal meeting where several pieces are discussed. Somewhere in the middle the committee assignments are doled out by the City Council President, who in 2012 is at-large councilor James Ferrera. A former Associated Press reporter based in Boston once described former Massachuetts Senate President William Bulger’s philosophy as this: government is to be used to help your friends and screw your enemies. Despite Ferrera’s claims to the contrary, it appears he did just that in assignment committees.
A reshuffling of committees and their chairs is not unusual. As decentralized as the council presidency is compared to, say the Massachusetts Senate presidency, it does retain one prominent feature. The council president selects the committee chairs and the councilors who serve on those committees. Often committee chairmanships are doled out to those who support the president’s nomination. It is not uncommon for committee heads to have their chairs pulled out from under them either because somebody else has found favor with the president or because it is simply time to share. However, in recent years a council president-elect has not gone this far. Continue reading