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Gonzalez reaffirms state support for recovery efforts

Date: 8/1/2011

Aug. 1, 2011

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD — While Jay Gonzalez, the secretary of Administration and Finance, didn’t make any specific commitments to help underwrite the recovery efforts in Springfield, he did affirm his support and that of Gov. Deval Patrick’s to the rebuilding process.

Gonzalez met with the men charged with developing a recovery plan, Gerald Hayes and Nicholas Fyntrilakis, as well as with Mayor Domenic Sarno behind closed doors and then took questions from the press on July 26 at the governor’s Western Massachusetts office.

Gonzalez said he “came to confirm for the mayor the governor and the Patrick Administration will continue to be committed to helping the city.”

He praised Sarno for “being on top of things in the aftermath of the tornado.”

Gonzalez declined to reveal details of what Hayes and Fyntrilakis discussed with him. He said the two men shared their thoughts with him and their effort to engage consultants to formulate the plan.

“We are trying to figure out how to move forward,” he said. “Everything at this point is preliminary. We want to move forward aggressively.”

One immediate step in the process is to get the total costs for the cleanup and rebuilding in place to qualify for Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursements, he added.

Although Gonzalez did not tour all affected neighborhoods during his visit, he said of the damage, “I’m constantly shocked.”

Earlier in the day he helped serve a lunch at the Open Pantry and praised that organization and others for its role in the recovery.

Gonzalez said that, unfortunately, “it takes a disaster to understand what government does.”

“It is important that we focus resources to people to get them back on their feet,” he said.

Gonzalez said he was bringing back a message to the governor that “[local] leaders here are engaged and on top of things.”

“I’m not bringing back any news they don’t already know,” he added.

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