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Ferrera re-elected City Council president, releases 2013 agenda

Date: 1/10/2013

By G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD — City Councilor James Ferrera III was returned to the council presidency for a second term on Jan. 7 and revealed his agenda for the council in 2013.

Speaking before a standing-room only chamber, filled with city department heads, friends and family, Ferrera said he would continue his involvement in the decision of where to locate a casino and which casino plan to support.

"The council has a responsibility and also an obligation to view all of the facts. The City Council may or may not decide to support casino development in Springfield. It's not a foregone conclusion," he said.

The council will have to ratify the host agreements negotiated by Mayor Domenic Sarno with casino developers, determine if a citywide or ward referendum vote is needed and must approve any zoning changes or special permits for a casino development.

Casinos were not the only issue that Ferrera highlighted in his inaugural address.

"While the prospect of a casino development is exciting, it pales in comparison to the responsibility we share of protecting our most precious cargo, our school children. We can no longer rationalize or assume that horrific events that we have all witnessed far too often could never happen in our city. We must be prepared and today as council president I will ask the council to form a special committee to work with the administration, public safety professionals and school officials to examine every aspect of present security in our schools and how it can be improved," Ferrera said.

He also called for improvements to the city's roads and called for either ending the discussion on residency for city employees or enforcing the requirement for everyone.

"This issue should be enforced or eliminated," Ferrera said. "Let me make my position clear, I support residency and everyone should be held accountable."

Ferrera's re-election was not unanimous as Councilors Timothy Allen and Michael Fenton did not cast votes. Councilor Timothy Rooke could not make the meeting and was absent.

Councilor Bud Williams was unanimously elected as vice president.