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Take My Council, Please: The Walsh Filibuster…

**UPDATED 12/3/11** Following a report by Maureen Turner posted to her Valley Advocate blog “On Springfield” on biomass & campaign contributions, the Republican today singled out Kateri Walsh’s hundreds in campaign contributions from the Callahan family and their lawyer Frank Fitzgerald.  The same report notes that City Comptroller Pat Burns found ZERO financial implications to the city if the council appeals PRE’s permits to the Board of Appeals.

(WMassP&I)

When Steven Desilets approved a building permit for Palmer Renewable Energy’s biomass plant off Page Boulevard, he had to know it would provoke a rebuke from the City Council.  Five months before he approved that permit, the council voted 10-2 to revoke PRE’s permit on the grounds that the project had changed considerably from its previous incarnation and would pose a threat to human health.  Desilets would approve the permit on the advice of the Law Department, which argued that PRE did not even need a special permit under the revised proposal.

On Monday the Council gathered for a special meeting to formally appeal the building permit.  Because the council is an integral part of the planning and zoning process of the city, it has standing under the umbrella state zoning law to appeal the decision.  It can appeal to both the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals and, if still unsatisfied, to court as well.  Indeed, it seemed as if the council would do exactly that last night…until one councilor made Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell proud and filibustered.


Councilor Fenton (Facebook)

Before the meeting began it was well-known where everybody stood.  Ward 2 Council Mike Fenton wisely requested a recorded vote on last week’s non-binding resolves and it revealed that at-large Councilors James Ferrera, Tim Rooke and Kateri Walsh were opposed to any further council action to oppose the biomass plant.  All ward councilors and at-large councilors Thomas Ashe and Jose Tosado were in favor of further action just as they were in favor revoking the permit.

Nevertheless, the opponents tried their best to derail the process.  Ferrera started first by trying to sow the seeds of confusion among the councilors with an assist from City Solicitor Ed Pikula.  Ferrera inquired into who would represent the council if it voted to appeal and Pikula argued that the Law Department may need to recuse itself because it would be obligated to defend the building commissioner.  Ferrera also asked about PRE’s existing suit against the city over the council’s permit revocation.  However, that remains, as Pikula described, a placeholder suit if a court or other board rules the special permit is indeed needed.

Ward 8 Councilor John Lysak took on Pikula’s position directly asking how the Law Department could be defending the city against PRE’s lawsuit on the revocation while maintaining the position that a special permit is not necessary.  Pikula argued that the two issues were parallel, but did not have conflict within each case individually.

At the same time, however, Pikula noted that the council cannot appropriate money on its own for a lawyer.  Though true, Pikula could also not deny that the council could finance counsel out of its own pockets, receive pro bono representation, or even go to court pro se.

However, Fenton noted that the council needed no lawyers to appeal to the Board of Appeals.  The board is an administrative body just like the City Council and like the City Council, appellants to the board appear without any council constantly.  Certainly a lawyer can represent an appellant before the board, but there are no legal documents to serve or actions taken that require a law license to be properly executed.  Thus, before the Board of Appeals, the council needs no lawyer and does not even need to contemplate the need to find money for one until and unless the Board rules against the council.

Councilor Walsh (WMassP&I)

Councilor Walsh condemned the appeal as an attack on the building commissioner himself.  While it is true that many were upset at his decision (especially as some sources say he was unduly pressured to issue the permit), being a professional it seems hard to think that he would suffer an existentialist crisis because politicians disagree with him.  Moreover it seems all but absurd for the council to not act because, in effect, a city official’s feelings would get hurt.


Pikula continued to hedge, saying that he was unsure if the Council had the authority to appeal (it plainly does).  If it was not clear that the goal of opponents was to delay the vote until it was too late for the council to appeal, this soon became unmistakable.  Councilor Rooke called for a legal opinion from the same city solicitor who disagrees with the council’s position.  The council shot the referral down on a 10-3 vote with only Ferrera, Rooke and Walsh supporting it.

 Councilor Walsh Channeling Mitch McConnell?
(by WMassP&I from Facebook & Wikipedia images)

At this point passage of the appeal seemed inevitable, but then one at-large councilor stood and used a parliamentarian tactic to halt all debate.  Councilor Mitch McConnell, er Kateri Walsh, invoked Rule 20, which ends all debate on a measure pending a report on its financial impact.  Council President Jose Tosado held a temporary recess to see if there were any means to avoid the rule’s effects since the council was merely voting to assert a legal right, not pass a law or order that could cost the city money.  The council deciding to vote to appear before another city body like any citizen could will cost nothing.  Nevertheless, City Clerk Wayman Lee informed Tosado there was no way to set aside the rule.

Walsh defended her position to media outlets saying that there could be costs of an appeal, but that is, in fact untrue.  The council would need to take a separate vote, and only after it loses before the Board, to appeal to a court where a lawyer, and the funds to pay him, might be necessary.   
Sue Reid, a lawyer from the Conservation Law Foundation, a New England Environmental Advocacy group, described Walsh’s move to WMassP&I as “cowardly.”  Still, councilors supporting the appeal, while perturbed, were confident that by next Monday they would be fully prepared to vote for the repeal.  Reid, commenting on the need for legal counsel said it was apparent that the council had plenty of talented members who could ably and intelligently represent the council before the Board of Appeals.  As for possible court actions, she felt that that was too far ahead in the future to worry about the council needing a lawyer.



Walsh is not alone in her opposition, but she made the decision to engage a tactic that either betrayed a terrible ignorance of the law and the council’s role in city life or exposed her own political cynicism.  Realizing that she and her side were hopelessly outmatched, she reached for what was essentially a filibuster to delay the council’s action to assert that its decisions matter.  However, unlike Senate Republicans, Walsh’s tactic is not a brick wall.  The council has enough time to digest this delay.  Instead, Walsh merely bought herself scorn and, possibly, more scrutiny than she might prefer.

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Manic Monday Markup 11/28/11…

…And the World:

The Arab League, once a den of autocrats and despots has taken its first significant action against one of its own following this year’s Arab Spring.  The League has placed sanctions on Syria for its brutal crackdown on its own civilians in an effort to repress voices for reform.  Unlike in Libya, however, the country is not divided between rebels and the loyalists.  President Bashar al-Assad has promised reform, but haw apparently missed every deadline agreed to for reform, including one agreed to with the Arab League.  Most Arab countries supported the move with Iraq and Lebanon being notable exceptions.  Both countries have strong ties to Iran, which heavily supports the Assad regime.  Thus far Russia has vetoed similar efforts at the United Nations.
Also an election in Morocco over the weekend and another in Egypt for a day or so.

Meanwhile, George Osbourne, Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, is poised to announce a £5 Billion (roughly $7.75 billion at current exchange rates) capital investment program to stave off another recession in Great Britain.  The Chancellor, who is essentially the country’s treasury secretary, hopes to minimize damage to the British economy due to the Euro crisis which is expected to hit the UK harder than any other non-Euro country.  The proposal would be deficit neutral, but could come from some higher taxes.

The Feds:

With Newt Gingrich the latest anti-Romney on the Republican side of the race somebody other than Rachel Maddow explores the fortune the former House Speaker has made being a former politician.  Not quite a lobbyist (although he was something close to that, too), Gingrich had amassed a lucrative “consulting” business complete with sales of political widgets that have made him and his third wife a wealthy couple.

Elsewhere in National Politics, Steve Kornacki at Salon.com breaks down a recent piece from Jonathon Chait on the Left’s disappointment with President Obama.  Rather than refute Chait’s premise that the left has nothing to complain about (although it does, but not enough to actually turn against Obama significantly), he contests the notion that Obama and Democratic presidents are the only ones with alleged apostates.  Kornacki compares Obama to his conservative/Republican counterpart Ronald Reagon and the other two Democrats who have been president since 1976.  Ultimately he refutes Chait’s position that liberals are uniquely prone to dissatisfaction.  Hint: Have you met a tea partier?

The State of Things:
The Boston Globe is reporting today that Barney Frank will not be running for reelection.  Frank, who is known for his wit and the ying & yang of conservative hate and liberal adoration, has been in Congress since 1981.  He faced a brutal reelection campaign in 2010, but had vowed earlier this year to seek another term.  The changing face of his district, which had earlier included the big fishing city of New Bedford was among the reasons cited.  Newton and Brookline remain in Frank’s district as does a fragment of Fall River, which were all key to Frank’s coalition.  However a smattering of more conservative towns were added and existing MA-4 communities like the seemingly purple Taunton, in which Dems have a voter advantage, are represented parly by Republicans.  Additional details of his speech and reaction here and the scramble to replace Frank begins.

While Frank has been a fixture of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, we would be remiss to not point out his foibles as well.  Frank, who is openly gay, was embroiled in a scandal in the late-eighties after a domestic partner of his misused the relationship for personal gain.  A look at this from the Washington Post circa 1989, made possible through the original reporter, now a professor at Boston University.

Some non-Frank news.  Efforts to repeal Massachusetts’ Health Care mandate, made possible by a cabal of arch-conservatives and pro-lifers, has failed to garner the necessary signatures.  If you are wondering why the Pro-Life movement is behind it, they do not like that the law does cover abortions and, of course, contraception.  However, ending the mandate, while making the overall law untenable would do nothing to assure less abortions are performed in Massachusetts or even less performed on the taxpayers nickle.


City Slickers:

A special biomass meeting will be held tonight at the Springfield City Council to explore the council’s legal options to stop the plant.  The council can pursue an appeal of the Building Commissioner’s permit to the city’s Board of Appeals and, if dissatisfied with that body’s action, can appeal to court.

WMassP&I will be live-tweeting the biomass meeting.  Follow #spfldpoli, #SpringfieldMA or #biomass on twitter (if you do not already follow us @wmasspi).


Also on Biomass, Maureen Turner wrote on her blog “On Springfield” about the contributions the Callahan family, owners of Palmer Renewable Energy, have given to Springfield politicians over the years.  Most of the top recipients have opposed the council’s revocation of the permit and, as of last week anyway, efforts by the city council to see its revocation stand.

Twitter Chatter:

The retirement of somebody like Barney Frank provokes potent responses from across the Twitterverse.  From the false right-wing bilge of Ann Coulter to some more tender responses from colleagues.  A late entrant in this week’s Twitter Chatter brings us to highlight Congresswomen and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz.  While Frank no doubt captured the full gambit of emotions on the right and left, for a career as esteemed as his, however partisan, it is best summed up when respectful and Cong. Wasserman Shultz gets it right.

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Take My Council, Please: Council Talks Turkey on Biomass…

(WMassP&I)
With the holidays around the corner, the turkeys of the Springfield City Council gathered Monday for a Thanksgiving week meeting to handle some issues that had been at a simmer for several weeks now.  Some of the hottest items were taken care of before they boiled over.  Others had the heat turned up higher for next week‘s special meeting.

Among the minutiae before the council was a series of utility reports, permit revocations for non-renewal, several property donations and grants.  The revocations were for underground storage tanks and parking lots permits brought up by the City Clerk because the permittees failed to respond to renewal notices.  The city formally accepted some parcels of property for public use and the council accepted grant money for Health & Human Services, Dispatch Services and tornado relief.

Bill Gibson of Springfield Speaks in Opposition to Biomass
Plant Permit (WMassP&I)

A speak-out before the meeting included several opponents of the biomass facility on Page Boulevard, which controversially received a building permit despite the council’s revocation of its special permit.  Among the speakers were local activist Michaelann Bewsee and a representative from the Conservation Law Foundation, a New England environmentalist group.  Kevin Sears of the Sears Real Estate Company spoke to oppose to the city’s Foreclosure Ordinances adding in an un-sourced claims of retaliation by lenders who would refuse to loan in the city (a legally suspect action, if true).

Budgetary updates showed the city more or less on target, but the monthly reports are off because City Hall was closed at end of the October when the city often receives tax money.  Ward 7 Councilor Tim Allen requested more information on the Tornado and now October Snowstorm costs to the city.  Those numbers were not included in officials’ reports because spending for disasters is done in separate emergency accounts.  Budget officials promised a detailed report on disaster spending by the next meeting.  In a pleasant surprise, the city also clocked in a higher than expected surplus last year of $4.7 million.

Ward 2 Councilor Mike Fenton, chairman of the Finance Committee, also announced an end to the city’s budget drama with the transfer of $6.2 million from stabilization reserves to close the city’s budget deficit.  Fenton praised the council reduction to $6.2 million from $10.5 million from stabilization reserves used to balance the city’s budget.  The reduction was made possible through cuts and an increase in local aid to the city.  Fenton called it a “much more reasonable position,” for the city in light of still-unknown disaster costs, union contract negotiations and another deficit expected next year.  Fenton also alluded to using some stabilization to mitigate an increase in the property tax rate for the city.

Councilor Tim Rooke (WMassP&I)

At-large Councilor Tim Rooke wanted to put the measure into committee until the city responded to his call for a bid for health insurance.  The move to committee failed 7-6 and the measure to transfer funds to the budget passed 10-3, meeting the two-thirds threshold needed to move stabilization funds.

Minor changes to the city’s foreclosure ordinances also achieved final passage.  The changes, explained Ward 6 Councilor Amaad Rivera, were primarily a tightening of definitions and terms to allow the ordinance to better withstand legal challenges.  Rivera countered the contention that banks would refuse to lend in the city due to this ordinance by claiming that such a refusal would be illegal.  He also dismissed a letter from the Massachusetts Bankers Association as a scare tactic and noted that the trade association had opposed countless measures proposed on Beacon Hill as well. 

At-large Councilor Kateri Walsh, who did vote for the initial ordinance, demanded that the revisions go to committee for further discussion on the ordinance itself.  Fenton replied by noting that doing nothing would not stop or even slow the ordinance and the revisions proposed today were largely administrative in nature.  The final step for the ordinance passed 10-3.  At-large councilor Thomas Ashe, ward 5 Councilor Clodo Concepcion, and Walsh were all opposed.

Finally the city council considered two resolves, which though non-binding themselves may have an impact nevertheless.  The first resolve called on the Post Office to keep open the Bulk Mailing Facility in Indian Orchard in addition to countless post offices across the city including, again, Indian Orchard’s branch.  Input from local government and citizens will be considered–supposedly–by the Postal Service when making its final determinations on closures.

PRE Rendering (Springfield Intruder

The final resolves set up a showdown between the Council and the Building Commissioner over the Biomass Plant slated for Page Boulevard in Springfield.  Building Commissioner Desilets, acting on the advice of the City Solicitor, has given an initial building permit to Palmer Renewable Energy for their biomass plant.  Earlier this year the Council revoked the plant’s special permit, but a legal opinion from Solicitor Ed Pikula claims that no permit is needed because PRE changed the plant’s plans.  Others have noted that issuing the permit at all is illegal because construction cannot begin until all air permits have been granted.  The Department of Environmental Protection did grant PRE an air permit, but the Conservation Law Foundation and other groups have appealed that decision.  In the interim, PRE does not actually have its permit.

The council resolve was only a first step to a special meeting called by Council President Jose Tosado for next Monday.  At that point, the Council could vote to appeal the commissioner’s decision to the Zoning Board of Appeals.  If unsuccessful there, the Council can litigate in Court, which it is expected to do.

The first biomass resolves called on the Building Commissioner to not grant a building permit while the second biomass resolve expressed the sense that PRE needs a special permit.  Tosado called a roll call vote for both resolves, which could have theoretically passed on a voice vote.  

The final tally was 10-3 for both resolves.  Councilors Ashe, Tosado, Fenton, Concepcion, Rivera, and Allen joined Ward 1 Councilor Zaida Luna, Ward 3 Councilor Melvin Edwards, Ward 4 Councilor E. Henry Twiggs, and Ward 8 Councilor John Lysak to support the resolve.  Rooke, Walsh and at-large Councilor James Ferrera were opposed.  All three opposed have received sizable contributions from their Callahan family, who owns PRE, and the family’s lawyer over the years.

(WMassP&I)

All told, the council meeting was fairly productive and stayed civil, despite the possibility for fireworks on some issues.  The meeting was also brief clocking in at just about an hour.  Moreover, loose ends such as the budget and the foreclosure ordinances were at last put to bed.  Some fear that such good days may be numbered with impending transitions coming to the council.  However, for the moment at least, the council adjourned having served the city well and having done so without leaving any apparent black clouds hanging overhead.

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Manic Monday Markup 11/21/11…

Let’s Talk Turkey:

As we approach Thanksgiving, it is crucial that we think of those who have less this holiday season, especially in the wake not one, but two devastating storms that have put incredible strain on families in Springfield and the wider Pioneer Valley.  Consider making a donation to the Western Massachusetts Food Bank or another worthy charity this holiday season.

…And the World:
In Spain voters turned out the ruling Socialist Party and replaced them with the conservative Popular Party who won 186 out of 350 seats in the lower house of Parliament.  Mariano Rajoy, the party’s leader, is set to become the country’s Prime Minister shortly before Christmas.  A grueling 21% unemployment rate and a volatile bond market have pummeled the Spanish economy.  In recent weeks, leading up to the vote, investors had made a run on Spanish bonds running up the interest rate the government pays to borrow even though the debt level carried by the country relative to the size of its economy is small compared to less responsible Eurozone Countries.  Although Rajoy’s party is expected to enact reforms that are believed to help the economy and possible impose more austerity, markets remained despondent today and pummel stock indexes.  Some news sources ascribe the market freakout to the month long transition period before Rajoy and the PP takes office.

In Egypt, the military government that played a huge role in the peaceful transition from dictatorship is now facing accusations of the same dictatorial tactics.  Election schedules have been repeatedly pushed back and fears among both Islamist and Secular parties that the military is jockeying to maintain power beyond the election of a civilian government.  The result has been new protests in Tahrir Square and new deaths.  Today the Egyptian cabinet resigned as protests continued.

The Feds:

As expected, the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, better known as the Super Committee, will fail to meet its goal of $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years.  The result will trigger automatic cuts to the budget, largely falling on the military.  However, these cuts will not begin until 2013, which means a future Congress or even this one could still reverse them.  Republicans are trying to argue that they offered revenue.  However, much of the revenue they offered in “reform” would be eaten up to benefit the rich, who would enjoy lower tax rates, a point Greg Sargent made today.  Democrats wanted real revenue boosters before allowing entitlement reforms that would hit seniors and the poor.  In other words, the blame is not equal.

Ironically, failure of the Super Committee may be a good thing.  If the automatic cuts hold in value if not in allocation and all of the Bush tax cuts expire on January 1, 2013, much of our deficit problems will be solved assuming health care costs are reined in both for the government and private enterprise.

Elsewhere in government, a furor has blossomed (but is presently overshadowed by the Super Commitee and Thanksgiving), over public officials engaging in possible insider trading.  A report on CBS alleged that congressmen and senators were using their knowledge of the government’s machinations to bolster their stock portfolio.  This is not illegal as the information is emanating from the government and not the companies being traded.  Nevertheless, several bills have been proposed, including one mandating disclosure as an enforcement mechanism, like one proposed by Sen. Scott Brown.  A much more potent alternative proposed by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand  would make the practice illegal and empower the SEC and CFTC to prosecute lawmakers for insider trades.  While no reports have arisen about any benefit Gillibrand may have realized from insider trading, the Huffington Post found evidence of financial benefits of the practice for Brown.

The State of Things:

Governor Deval Patrick signed the new Congressional district maps.

In the United States Senate race, as criticisms have rained down on Elizabeth Warren’s parade for accepting contributions from out-of-state Hollywood donors like Barbra Streisand, it turns out Brown has his own out-of-state power-donors to match the original Funny Girl and then some.  While Wall Street claims to have not been thrilled with Brown, he did deliver for them on the Dodd-Frank reform legislation saving financial firms billions meant to fund a program to wind-down distressed banks.  Moreover, Wall Street is redoubling their efforts to bolster Brown out of fear of Elizabeth Warren.

It is not all roses for Elizabeth Warren, though either.  While her campaign has captured the attention of the press and the love and adoration of the left, her expectations are sky-high, not unlike Obama’s say in November of 2008.  Nevertheless, she has fired up the left in the country and in Massachusetts in a way nobody else has been able to.  A New York magazine article recounts how Warren essentially apologized to a would-be volunteer for the fact the campaign was only in its infancy.  In other words, the grassroots is fired up so far ahead of the election, the campaign does not have the infrastructure to handle them like any other campaign at this point in the calendar.

Even so, our advice earlier today about heckling folks on Elizabeth Warren’s Facebook wall.  Don’t do it!

City Slickers:

A protest in Springfield today headed by the anti-foreclosure group Nobody Leaves led to thirteen arrests at the Bank of America at Monarch Place.  The protest itself attracted 250 according to the Republican.  Police Chief William Fitchet described the scene as orderly and implied that the protesters knew that they would be arrested, which ironically may have led to the fairly peaceful nature of the confrontation.  The protesters outside, while gnarling traffic, were also peaceful and largely left alone by police.

City Council Meeting tonight expected to have fireworks.  The Council will consider a non-binding resolution to urge the Building Commissioner to cease granting permits to Palmer Renewable Energy, the firm that wants to build a Biomass plant in East Springfield.  Legal action is expected if the city does issue building permits.  Minor revisions of the Foreclosure ordinances are set for final passage.

Twitter Chatter:

With the failure of the deficit committee, the only thing left is an official statement from the Super Committee Chairs Patty Murray and Jeb Hensarling themselves.  That statement is incoming, but may already be out by the time you read this.  They will not be making any news other than the fact that they are formally admitting defeat.  No new information is likely to be released in this statement.  Still a torrent and tweets and commentary will bombard the Internet when it happens.  It led to these tweets and the winner of the week’s tweet prize from Greg Sargent at blogger at the Washington Post that captures the absurdity of the inevitable response within and without the Twitterverse.
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“Occupy” Mothership Goes Down…

 **UPDATE 8:25PM** Protesters have been permitted to return to Zuccotti Park, but under much more restrictive conditions have lost their motion before a judge.  However, questions remain, especially over the treatment of the press and the cover-of-darkness nature of the raid.

As you may already be aware, early this morning, at the order of Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York, the Occupy Wall Street protest at Zuccotti Park was cleared out.  The dispersal was swift and by turns brutal.  As bad as that was, there was a blatant media blackout of the police action.  Although legal efforts are ongoing to force Bloomberg to permit the effort to return to Zuccotti, the event strikes at the very heart of the movement, if not their efforts.


First of all it necessary to note that Occupy Wall Street did something that nobody else seemed able to do.  We are talking about income inequality and economic justice in a way that this country simply does not.  Focus has been restored to corporate monoliths that have only enriched themselves at the expense of their employees, customers, and ultimately even themselves.  Anarchists and 60’s leftovers aside, the goal and any mainstream occupier and their middle and lower class supporters has been to save people and capitalism itself from a corporate culture that lacks accountability and, one of the very prerequisites of a healthy capitalistic system, competition.

We have moved passed the howling over deficits to jobs, first and foremost.  For people of your editor-in-chief’s generation this is the preeminent concern, the idea of a sounds future and a job, has been swallowed by the maw of this gloomy economy.  As politicians tell us that the “job creators” need more tax breaks on top of the one’s we’ve got while we take on more debt to finance an education to land of job (assuming we do) that pays less due to the glut of works, it became unbearable.  Occupy was and is, the primal scream of NO!  Why would we have to be the generation that like many of the institutions around us would simply have to do more with less?  If nothing else, that question and broader questions about the American we want to live in, are finally being discussed.  Even Republicans, especially the ones with an eye to a general election, realize like any frightened politician, that there is grave risk with a stalwart defense of the 1%.

However, Occupy is at a crossroads.  Frankly, it has been for some time.  The occupations raised awareness and they raised the discourse and where possible they should not end.  The reality is that Occupy has outgrown the occupations.  That they became literally a nationwide movement is astonishing.  They did what even took the tea party months and without Koch-ed up front groups like Americans for Prosperity and corporations masquerading as people like Tea Party Nation.  With winter setting in and officials’ patience wearing thin, tactics may need to change.  Diehards should demonstrate daily.  Marches should be held in the snow.  Perhaps among the most iconic images of the Wisconsin protests against Scott Walker were the tens of thousands demonstrating outside Scott Walker’s Citadel the Wisconsin State House even as snow blanketed the grounds.  Days of action like the Oakland Port Shutdown may be necessary, but efforts must be made on the part of organizers to condemn and ferret out ANYBODY that engages in destruction of property.
The camps themselves have become problematic.  It seems evident that Oakland’s second dispersal and how relatively calm it was compared to the past was at least partly an acknowledgment of the problems due to the transient nature of “occupiers” in a city known for its crime and poverty.  New York was not the same and vapid claims of denying the park from being used by others simply falls flat.  If there were health concerns, then Occupiers would likely have gone and cleaned it like they did last time and Boston’s occupy movement has been given clean bills of health by inspectors.  Of course, Occupy Boston’s situation is complicated by the fact that the Rose Kennedy Greenway would need to ask the cops to evict them in order for an eviction to be legal.

The homeless at the camps is also a problem, but one that speaks to the way we treat the homeless and the criminalization thereof.  However, that problem is very difficult to solve without unraveling a thread of an issue that is related to the cause of the 99%, but not one that most in the middle class can get on board with.
There are broader concerns about how the police have reacted in these raids on occupiers and protesters generally.  Many, if not most cops are professionals and are following orders.  Nuremberg defense aside, unless physically assaulted, we do believe that most cops do their jobs right even if folks like Bloomberg are doing their job wrong.  That said there were definitely excesses in today’s raid.  The problem is the Tony Bolognas that pepper sprayed a trapped group of woman; or the riot police that fired a tear gas canister into Scott Olsen’s head and the second cop who fired a flashbang at the protesters trying to minister to him as their pleas for medical assistance went unheeded.

Informal input from readers of the Washington Post suggests Bloomberg’s move was the wrong one, but the part that may get people fired up far more (and we suspect it will) is the media blackout.  Reporters, many freelancers for larger news organizations were arrested, attacked and kept at a distance such that the Fourth Estate was unable to keep the police accountable.  If not for the Youtube generation, it is possible that crimes committed against peaceful protesters could have gone unnoticed or at least unsubstantiated.  The idea that the press were kept away to keep the situation from getting worse is ridiculous.  Certainly the right to assemble and the right to speech were offended by yesterday’s raid, but they could be dismissed (wrongly we might add) out of concern for public health and safety.  However, there is no credible argument for censoring or intimidating the press.  Brian Stelter, a New York Times media reporter describes the scene to colleague David Carr in this video we were unable to embed.

Among the most troubling aspects of the opposition to “Occupy” has been a simple demand to “go home.”  We’ll ignore the irony of the command to “get a job.”  But what should those occupiers do at home?  Watch the Kardashians?  Maybe we should ignore our crummy jobs and just find out for what Lindsay Lohan was recently arrested.  Maybe we should just grow up and solve our problems by drinking and resenting poor people for getting $32 a week for food.

If Occupy wants to be more than a footnote in history or left as a radical anomaly, it does need to adapt.  As Ezra Klein argues it is better that Bloomberg evict them than somebody die of hypothermia and Bloomberg’s tactics notwithstanding, Klein is right.  Moreover, this can galvanize the movement to keep going on with daily or weekly marches if not twenty-four camp outs or drum protests that evoke a the culture of protesting, but may serve little political purpose.

This movement is not the same as those in the 1960’s and although it was probably informed by the veterans of that time it is not the same thing.  It is also not the same thing that a Canadian magazine conjured up over the summer.  It has to be smarter than it was.  It has to be more persistent than it was while not losing its goals or its commitment to peaceful protest.  It has to keep talking and keep the attention of an easily distracted media and public, but it may have to be prepared to do that without permanent residences.
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Manic Monday Markup 11/14/11…

…And the World:


Greece and Italy have new Prime Ministers, but there may be little time for a honeymoon as markets coughed and hacked today, the first day after both new leaders were in place.  Lucas Papademos and Mario Monti of Greece and Italy respectively took over their nations’ governments as technocrats, that is policy oriented figures charged with making structural, if not political palatable changes to each country’s budget and economies.  Papademos’ premiership began after the exiting Greek government took several days dithering over the new government’s terms.  Meanwhile in Italy, Monti was appointed rather quickly after a huge surge in rates for Italian bonds forced Italian political elites to shove former PM Silvio Berlussconi out the back door.  Berlusconi’s departure ends a turbulent two decade career made all the more complicated by Berlusconi’s own near-monopoly of media in Italy.

The Feds:

The Supreme Court has accepted the government’s appeal in what will be the final word on at least one major component of President Barack Obama’s health reform passed last year.  The Court also picked up some issues from other cases besides the government’s appeal of a ruling from the eleventh circuit that struck down the individual mandate.  Notably, the Court will consider an appeal from the same eleventh circuit ruling over whether the mandate can be struck down, but the rest of the law be allowed to stand (that seems almost certain, but you never know).  Alternatively, the mandate and few other pieces could fall or the Court could do what the Fourth Circuit and the dissent in a DC circuit case (the majority upheld the law) did and say the issue is not ripe enough for judicial intervention.  In other words, because the mandate (and its financial penalty) will not be applied until 2015, the court cannot rule to stop the law.  This outcome is improbable as so few courts have accepted that reasoning and it could be problematic if Barack Obama does not win next year or if appeals spurred from new litigation in 2015 last beyond Obama’s second term.  However, while that option may be no less liked by opponents, it could diffuse what will be a messy post-ruling environment in the immediate aftermath with unknown impact on the presidential election.

Tonight ABC will premier Cong. Gabrielle Gifford’s first interview since the January shooting that left six dead and the Congresswoman critically injured.  The interview with the network’s Dianne Sawyer airs tonight at 10:00 PM EST.
The State of Things:

The Globe’s Noah Bierman tweets that a compromise casino bill is ready for voting.  Bring on the special interests!

Elizabeth Warren news galore today.  Yesterday in Boston, Warren spoke to her largest crowd of volunteers.  By any estimate, at least a thousand people attended the event at the city’s Reggie Lewis Center.  Introductory remarks were made by Ayanna Pressley who topped last week’s at-large City Council race last week in Beantown.  Meanwhile today, Warren unveiled her first television spot to reach voters who may have not yet heard or her or more likely to inoculate them against Karl Rove’s corporate funded falsehoods.  It is expected to start airing tomorrow.

In a related matter, Brown announced he would support Richard Cordary’s nomination to head the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau which Warren helped create.  The title of this Huffington Post piece sums up the situation quite well, but one of our tweet winners speaks to the relative insignificance of Brown’s announcement and indeed the glaring absence of leadership Brown could be providing if he really believed in Cordary.

City Slickers:

We’re going to cite our own tweet to sum up the situation with at-large Councilor Jimmy Ferrera’s impending presidency of City Council.  It includes a link to the mildly condescending Masslive article on the matter.

For a diversity of perspectives on the local election post-mortem here is Maureen Turner’s take, Bill Dusty’s write-up and well, we won’t be so vain to link to ourselves again.  Scroll down instead to yesterday’s entry.

Twitter Chatter:

Two winners this week.  First up h/t to Sal’s Bakery in “X” business district of Springfield’s Forest Park.  The new bakery opened this week with an official grand opening scheduled for Saturday.  Technically, the tweet belongs to WWLP, which announced the Bakery’s soft open.  Nevertheless, the bakery does have its own Twitter handle, @SalsBakery, but it has yet to tweet that they’re open!


The other tweet is this from a Newton resident who essentially spelled out the reason why Brown’s support for Cordary is inconsequential and speaks directly to what Bob Massie called Brown’s status as the “caboose” of the Senate.  If Brown was trying to do more than make a statement (“Hey Look at me, I’m moderate…hey you’re not looking!”), he would lobby his Republican colleagues to let Cordary start work at the bureau.  That is not going to happen.  Additionally, it is worth noting that Brown was never among the 44 Republicans that promised to filibuster any nominee to head the agency.  Of course that was at a time when he and his aides was probably hoping they could remove a major Senate race opponent by keeping her in Washington.



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Election Detritus 2011: PAST DUE…

Mayor Sarno (VoteSarno.com)
Anybody watching the elections play out in Springfield and the neighboring towns should not really be surprised what transpired.  Mayor eating that may end the latter’s political career and won the city’s first four-year mayoral term.  On the other hand, Bud Williams, who was only slightly less bludgeoned by Sarno in 2009 rose from the political dead, Albano ghosts and all, to return the Springfield City Council.  Elsewhere, Holyoke put its future in the hands of an ambitious, recent college graduate.  Ohio spiked the conservative agenda into the face of their conservative governor and Mississippi decided it liked birth control more than it hated abortion.
Locally the results of the Springfield election were really not all that surprising.  All of the incumbents running for the same office won, a feat made easier for the six ward councilors who faced no tangible opposition.  John Lysak dispatched Orland Ramos once again, in a campaign littered with complaints over Lysak’s campaign expenditures and rumors Ramos was behind personal attacks on Lysak based on the breakup of the latter’s marriage.  In the at-large races all four incumbents running for reelection won.  Bud Williams, whose tenure on the council is distinguished by the very fact that it happened, regained a seat among the at-large seats.

Ward 6 Councilor Amaad Rivera who opted to run at-large failed to crack into the top five falling behind Justin Hurst a scion of the city’s arguably most notable black political family.  Meanwhile Kenneth Shea cruised into Rivera’s seat facing no opposition.
Mayor Domenic Sarno trounced City Council President Jose Tosado winning nearly all of the city’s precincts, including several predominantly minority ones.  While arguably the result seemed inevitable after the June tornado and low turnout in minority wards, the fact is that Tosado ended up being an unlikely standard bearer for reform in the city.  A longtime city official with poor campaigning skills, he lacked the charisma that sells in Springfield politics made famous by Cong. Richard Neal and notorious by former Mayor Michael Albano.  Whatever effort to prop up the minority vote failed as Hispanics voted in abysmal numbers in the city (In an anecdotal side note, Puerto Ricans, who make up the overwhelming majority of the city’s Hispanic population are thought to be more prone to voter apathy than Hispanics at large).  Meanwhile, the city’s blacks and Asians seemed to have little to get excited about in a Tosado candidacy.

Meanwhile Mayor Sarno took the challenge seriously and fully used the power of incumbency to bolster his position even among minority groups.  The result was one where several other candidates for office further down the ballot, like Amaad Rivera, sought to distance themselves from the Tosado campaign.  Ultimately, Tosado’s defeat seems somewhat preordained in retrospect.  From the moment Tosado suspended his campaign after the June tornado to the moment Sarno suspended his after the October snowstorm (which was more effective as the mayor had an emergency he could address, unlike Tosado, who as a city councilor could not address the tornado as directly), it now seems like Tosado’s effort was futile.

Mr. President? Eek!
(Urban Compass)
The down ballot effect was palpable, too, as the turnout of Sarno’s machine was full-bore, even as Tosado’s challenge seemed less lethal week by week.  Indeed, that can be only explanation for Councilor Tom Ashe’s top of the ticket performance.  Voters may have mistaken him for Hampden County Sheriff Michael Ashe, who is practically a demigod in Valley politics.  Before the September Primary, Tim Rooke seemed destined for the top spot, but he grabbed the silver with Kateri Walsh getting the bronze.  Ferrera, who seems set to take over the Council Presidency, got fourth beating out his friend Bud Williams, who got fifth.
If there was one outright tragedy of this election, it was the total lack of any meaningful campaign for City Council.  Without passing judgment on the results themselves, there was little if any effort on the part of candidates to actually say what they had to offer the city and why they were running.  Other than vapid statements from candidates assuring they loved the city, a declaration that in itself is as meaningful as declaring one’s love for a Kit-Kat Bar, there was nothing that illuminated why anybody was running for the council.  Some candidates tried to offer a more substantive explanation, but they overwhelmingly ended up in the losers pile and even their efforts failed to sharpen the meaning of their races at times.

Mayor-elect Alex Morse
(© RD Photography 2011)
Elsewhere in the Valley, the most notable race was the mayor election in Holyoke where Alex Morse, a 22 year-old Brown graduate beat freshman mayor Elaine Pluta.  Although it seems impossible to diagnose Morse’s victory as anything less than the terrific ground game organized by Morse’s campaign, in addition to the candidate’s fluency in Spanish, there were other factors in play.  Morse had the backing of the Victory Fund, a fund raising group that supports gay candidates, which Morse was.  Additionally, David Cicilline, a Rhode Island congressman for whom Morse intenered when Cicilline was Providence’s mayor, held at least one fund raiser for Morse.  That financial backbone, coupled with a campaign that observers say was a campaign better run than Pluta’s, led to Morse victory.
Councilor Ayanna
Pressley (Facebook)
In Boston, Ayanna Pressley, who squeaked onto the Boston City Council in 2009 as one of its at-large members topped the at-large field this year as voters returned all incumbents running at-large.  Michael Flaherty, who ran against Mayor Tom Menino in 2009 attempted to get back on the council to set up for a 2013 mayoral run, but was denied.  Pressley’s victory is attributed not only to support from political luminaries from John Kerry, for whom she once worked, and a fear that the Boston City Council could go without a female member, but her own tenacity and political savvy.  She forged an alliance with another at-large Councilor John Connolly and the two barnstormed across the city together.  It also gave her invaluable support in West Roxbury, where Connolly lives and which is treasure drove of reliable voters among the immigrant and student-heavy population.  After her victory, prognosticators began talking about her future prospects, but absent a Menino decision to not run in 2013 (his machine backed her toward the end of the campaign) mayor of Boston is unlikely to be one for now.

Across the country, Ohio voters shot down a bill designed to strip collective bargaining rights for virtually all public employees in the state.  The measure was defeated with 61% to 39% voting in favor of repeal.  Gov. John Kasich, following the vote, conceded defeat in a rambling and visibly humble speech.  The win was seen as a major victory for labor, even it essentially maintained the status quo as opposed to gaining any ground.  A loss would have dealt possibly irreversible damage to labor in the Midwest and possibly nationwide.  Instead, it set the stage to embolden efforts in Wisconsin to recall Scott Walker and strengthen Democrats’ position in Ohio next year.

In Maine voters restored a forty year-old law that allowed same day voter registration after an opportunistic Republican majority repealed it.  And in Mississippi, a state as blood-red and conservative as it can possibly be, voters dealt a double-digit rebuke to an attempt to define a person as at the beginning of conception.  The measure had been assumed destined to pass given the strength of the pro-life movement in the state, but voters appeared as troubled by the idea as losing access to birth control and questioning ever miscarriage as the fact of abortion.  Another underlying thought has been that Mississippians, who are the nation’s poorest citizens as a whole, were upset at being troubled with an arguably ridiculous measure when jobs are people’s number one concern.
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Manic Monday Markup 11/7/11…

Election Section:

Our endorsements for the 2011 municipal election in Springfield can be found here.  Elsewhere in the Valley, we do not deem ourselves educated enough to make an informed decisions.  However, Holyoke has an incredibly close election for mayor between incumbent Elaine Pluta and newcomer Alex Morse.  Holyoke is also facing a major charter revision to the document that has governed the city for 115 years.  Boston’s City Council faces some major shakeups.  Of particular note is Ayanna Pressley’s fight to remain on the Boston City Council.  With former council president Maureen Feeney giving up her Dorchester district seat, Pressley is the only incumbent woman running for Beantown’s City Council.  Pressley is running citywide.  David Bernstein has a nice roundup.

Also on the ballot in Ohio tomorrow is Issue 2, which was placed on the ballot following a petition for a citizens veto of that state’s union-stripping law.  The law, known by its number in the Ohio State House, SB 5, is in some ways more far-reaching than even Wisconsin’s union-stripping bill.  It would gut the items over which bargaining may now occur and allow management that is town governments, to essentially impose their final offer.  To get the issue on the ballot, 231,000 signatures were necessary and opponents turned in three times that amount.  The measure appears to be headed for defeat, that is a “no” of Issue 2 would prevail.  However, opponents of the measure are leaving nothing to chance in this final stretch.  As another example of right-wing union-busting, this issue deserve to head to the dustbin, where it, hopefully is destined to go.

…And the World:

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou agreed to step aside and form a national unity government in order to pass unpopular austerity measures.  The austerity plan is needed in order to secure a bailout from the wider Eurozone and also put at ease jittery investors worried about Spain and Italy’s debt problems.  However, the New York Times is reporting that the Greek parties have yet to announce their caretaker unity government, although there is a front runner for PM.  Meanwhile, Italy remains in turmoil as rumors fly that Silvio Berlusconi, that country’s premier, is on the verge of resignation or a vote of no confidence.  Italy’s own debt problems remain a great concern for markets and either its own Spain’s tailspin could sink the global economy.  However, Spain’s problems are more exaggerated than Italy’s.  Spain has a much lower debt to GDP ratio, but higher unemployment that Italy.  Although unemployment can be problematic and an indirect hindrance to debt service, higher debt ratio is a direct complication on a nation’s ability to repay debts.
The Feds:
The Supreme Court heard a novel case today debating whether or not Congress has the ability to mandate that Israel appear on the passport of an American born in Jerusalem.  Since the founding of this country, it has been the prerogative of the Executive branch, exercising its foreign policy powers, to recognize foreign ministers and their governments, including their capitals.  For example, President Barack Obama’s State Department did not need Congress’ approval to recognize the Libyan rebels as that country’s new government.  In a similar vein, several US presidents, Bush II and Obama included, have refused to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel until the Palestinian Question is answered.  The reason for the dispute is that a law passed by Congress, requiring recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, run contrary to the President’s Article II powers.  To date, the official US Embassy remains in Tel Aviv, Israel’s capital until 1967, although the US is represented in Jerusalem, too.  NPR had a report today on the case presently before the Court. 
We said last week Herman Cain didn’t matter…but the new allegations tear it open all over again.  Any bets that this will still not shake Cain’s surge among the disaffected segment of the country that think feminism is a liberal plot to take away man’s right to cop a feel?

The State of Things:

Governor Deval Patrick officially ended the state of emergency following last month’s freak snow storm.

New Congressional Maps are out and they are, um, okay.  Western Mass keeps two districts if you include Worcester in Western Mass.  Cong. Richard Neal gets all of Berkshire County and Worcester-based Congressman Jim McGovern gets the population centers of Franklin and Hampshire County.  However, the maps do appear to defy the central argument for two districts: keeping the non-Springfield Western Mass towns together.  Lots of other towns shift among districts and a stronger minority majority seat springs up in Boston.  Congressmen Stephen Lynch and Bill Keating are drawn into one district, but Janet Wu at WCVB says Keating will seek re-election in thew new New Bedford-Plymouth-Cape Cod district which he mostly already represents.  More later this week.

City Slickers:

See above for links to our endorsements for Springfield races.

Springfield schools will reopen tomorrow after missing six days due to the storm.  It has taken a great deal of work to clear streets for buses, restore power and prepare teachers for the possible impact the storm has had on students.  The full cost of snow storm for the city is in the millions, but it will ultimately be a fraction of the cost the city will carry from the June tornado.  Additionally, the impact the city’s tax base will be much lower this time as the only tangible income loss was from the meal’s tax loss on closed restaurants, but that may be canceled out by packed hotels and the resulting room taxes.

Following accusations of voter suppression at Springfield’s polling stations in the city’s preliminary, the US Department of Justice will observe elections in the city tomorrow.  Ward 1 Councilor Zaida Luna contacted Justice officials after complaints of slow-to-open polls, lack of Spanish-language poll workers and other voting irregularities in her ward.  Ward 1, which includes the North End, is the historically most Hispanic part of the city.

Twitter Chatter:

On the heels of several reports about income disparities and a general acceptance of the Occupy movement’s central message of economic injustice, Think Progress sums it all up in one line from a poll.  Think Progress, an arm of the Center for American Progress, wins this week’s Tweet Prize for sizing up not only the public’s sentiment, but doing so in a way that encapsulates the reality of our economy.  The income disparities and inequality of opportunity that define our present economy are among the many root causes of our present situation and the sentiment of Americans in this Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.
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Endorsements on Parade 2011…

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!