|By G. Michael Dobbs|
I was in New York City on Friday when our MetroWest Reminder Assistant Editor Michelle Kealey read me the story concerning Eric Kriss's remarks about strengthening the Financial Control Board or pulling them and state assistance from the city of Springfield.
What the heck was he doing? Why make threats such as that? With Romney teetering between running for governor again and running for the Republican Party's presidential nomination, why create such a great negative story for the national press?
I'm going to be happy to talk with every producer of an open-minded talk show about what Romney has and hasn't done back home if he seriously hits the presidential campaign trail.
Has the governor made any indication that he is displeased with Springfield's progress? Those three Boston guys on the Control Board are his handpicked boys. They do his bidding and they can out-vote Mayor Charlie Ryan and Tim Rooke at every meeting.
Does anyone think that anyone in Springfield aside from the most hard-core Republicans will vote for Romney again when Kriss is making such statements?
It's bad enough that the governor ignores western Massachusetts. In basic issues such as stable funding for the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, Romney clearly doesn't want to get involved.
Now our readers in the communities such as Holyoke, Chicopee, West Springfield, Agawam, and West Springfield might say, "Who cares about Springfield? Our town doesn't have a $20 million deficit. We're safe and secure."
Well, there are several lessons to learn from this incident that could apply to your community.
First, if you can avoid it, never ask the state for special help to solve a problem. It's clear that Springfield is serving as an example to the rest of the Commonwealth. We're like the little kid whose brother got into trouble and is hiding under the bed while mom and dad administer some justice to the only kid they can find. Ryan and the people of the city have been taken to the woodshed for some heat to our seats.
It's not difficult to notice that the people who were more directly involved in creating this mess, the last mayor and veteran members of the City Council who approved his spendthrift ways, are not getting the spanking they deserve.
Second, if you do ask for help, it appears that Boston doesn't care what kind of job you do. Springfield has tightened its belt, found better ways of collecting taxes, and has re-organized many departments, but that isn't enough for Romney and Kriss. Now Kriss threatens the city, despite impressive results in a short time.
Third, our biggest problem in Springfield was the public sticking to the status quo and that could be a problem in your community. Albano and some members of the City Council should have been tossed out when former State Representative Paul Caron ran for mayor.
Caron had many of the facts and the proof was evident at that point. Too many people in the city bought into the line of fertilizer that Albano was selling because it was a happy message.
Do yourself a favor, dear readers, if your community is facing a mayoral and city council race this November grill the incumbents like so many hamburgers. Make sure they are indeed doing the job they are supposed to be doing. An elected office is not a lifetime job.
Kriss apparently has made statements that his remarks were not an ultimatum. This is good politics, of course, to threaten with a club and then appear shocked that anyone complains about the club. In the movie business, it's called "previews of coming attractions."
You know the drill. These are my opinions alone. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or to 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028.