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Boyle throws his hat into mayoral ring

Date: 4/19/2011

April 20, 2011

By Debbie Gardner

Assistant Editor

HOLYOKE — There were reasons Daniel C. Boyle chose to announce his second bid for the mayor's seat from a less-than-visible spot — the steps of the Holyoke Geriatric and Convalescent Center on Lower Westfield Road — last Friday morning.

He wanted to show the employees and patients, a handful of whom joined him in the chilly morning air, that he was against the current administration's move to shutter the 40-year-old facility.

He also wanted to show support for changes to the city's governmental structure put forth by Holyoke's volunteer Charter Commission, which he noted has met regularly in the facility for the past 15 weeks.

The 63-year-old management consultant and local newspaper columnist told Reminder Publications that after having garnered 40 percent of the vote during his first-ever run for office two years ago, he felt compelled to give the mayor's seat another try.

"I've been watching what's been going on [in Holyoke] for the past two years and I'm concerned [by] the direction the city is going in, especially regarding the Geriatric Center and the Charter Commission," he said.

When the Geriatric Authority opened, Boyle said, "It was a model for senior citizen health care in the United States" that drew people from "all over the country " interested in mirroring its innovative approaches. Recent conversations with the authority's administrators and board members convinced him the facility could return to that level of top-notch care and self-sufficiency again.

"I can assure everyone involved that I will be the mayor who works with the Geriatric Authority to enable you to continue providing the care that has been your mission for the past 40 years and to assure our seniors that Holyoke continues to care about you in your golden years," Boyle told supporters.

He also noted that, unlike Mayor Elaine Pluta, he supports proposed changes to the city's charter.

"I know the incumbent is opposed," Boyle said, adding that, as presented, the revised charter must be accepted as a whole, "not as line items."

Among the changes he supports are the expansion of the mayor's term from two to four years, noting that under the current structure, "as soon as [you] get in office [you] have to turn around and start running again." He also supports the recommendation that the city's four financial offices — the city treasurer's post, which is an elected position, as well as the tax collector, assessors and auditors, which are appointments by the mayor or city council — be consolidated under the control of one chief financial officer. This new position, which would be filled by mayoral appointment, would create "more efficiency and cooperation" among the departments, according to Boyle.

"The public impression is that the mayor is in control of the city's government," Boyle said. "That's not true if you have the city treasurer elected. Then he is independent. We need more checks and balances."

He noted that his own extensive experience in the areas of employee productivity and relations — he's worked as a consultant for large and small business across the country and in South Africa to make improvement in those areas — could also be an asset to the city.

"Instead of relying on the legal staff to tell us what to do, I can guide supervisors and employees in ways to avoid conflicts within departments rather than ending up with grievances," he said, adding that avoiding the ensuing legal fees would save taxpayer money.

Among the other charter revisions Boyle supports is the reduction of seats on the City Council from the current 15 to 11.

"We have more city council seats than any other community in the state, including Springfield, Lowell and Worcester," he noted.

Supporter Paul Bowes said he was backing Boyle's second run for mayor because he "wants more efficient, more cost-effective government," which is what the candidate is advocating.

Boyle also criticized the state's stance on Holyoke's schools. He said since the 2003-04 school year, the state has dictated that the school system must improve and "forced the School Department to hire an outside consultant from America's Choice" to help implement the necessary changes.

He said the addition of the consultant has cost Holyoke approximately $2 million and has not provided significant improvements to the schools' performance.

"It's disingenuous for the state to tell us what to do and then criticize us for lack of improvement," Boyle said.

He praised the Patrick Administration for its support of Holyoke when it came to the high-speed computing center, but noted "there has to be a better partnership between state departments and Holyoke. It can't be that they support us and also kick us around."

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