Friday, November 21, 2014

If you had to do it all over again would you?

So, here we are in the final stretch of the recall process. We've gone from wondering if recall organizers could get enough signatures to wondering if the Mayor would get enough voided out to avoid a recall, to wondering if the Mayor could be on both parts of the ballot, to wondering if his name should go first, to wondering if there should be a preliminary, to wondering how many flaws a recall law can possibly have!

So, like I said we're in the final stretch and we very likely could see an end result that has Mayor Flanagan recalled on the first part of the ballot, only to win election on the second part of the ballot. For all the people out there who think this whole recall process is a waste of money won't this just be an "I told you so" moment. Of course there are those who support the recall that think that Judge McGuire's ruling is idiotic or the fix is in or something. I think the truth is  McGuire probably made the right call both on Flanagan being a candidate and on there being no preliminary election. Logically, it doesn't make sense. It seems pretty clear what the intent of the recall law is and having someone recalled in part one only to have them as a candidate in part two seems pretty stupid. Having a preliminary would seem to make a lot of sense because it would narrow down the field of candidates to two and limit the advantage an incumbent with a united base of support might have. But what's intended and what's legal are two different things. Your great aunt could tell you she wants to leave you a nice cash inheritance when she goes but if the will doesn't stipulate it legally you might be out of luck. I spoke to a friend of mine who is a lawyer about Flanagan being a candidate and after he read the ruling he thought McGuire made the right call. After McGwire decision about the preliminary I read his ruling and have to admit it sounds like he got it right again. Also I have to imagine that if the judge ruled the other way, decided despite his legal findings that the intent was clear, these would just become points of appeal for the Flanagan camp. 

But hey, all's not lost! If the people who want to recall the mayor get their vote out and unite behind a candidate Flanagan can still be ousted from office! Yeah, good luck with that! Following some of the discussion on the internet, well Facebook really, what I see is people firmly behind "their" candidate and not a lot of people who seem undecided or even unwilling to budge. Don't get me wrong I think most recall supporters are willing to back one candidate, just as long as it is their candidate. Still, it's a recall election in December, at Christmas time. It's impossible to say what sort of voter turnout we'll have, and that means, that really it's anybody's race. Flanagan has an advantage but if any of his challengers can spark the city's voters to come out and cast a ballot, who knows?

But that brings me to my original thought for this post. If you had to do it all over again would you? If you're one of the original 12 who organized this are you now thinking if you knew about all the loopholes and how everything would pretty much go the Mayor's way that you wouldn't have bothered? What if you're one of the ones who signed the petition in some store parking lot. Do you now wish you didn't? Do you now think if you hadn't you could have helped avoid a bunch of BS and expense? If you have a candidate that you like are you now thinking of staying home on December 16th because, heck the Mayor is just going to win so what's the point?  

I really don't know how many people read anything I blog anymore but I really would love to know what people feel and if they feel this has all been a wasted effort. My take on this? I would sign the recall petition just as eagerly today as I did then. The "intent" behind the recall act is still valid.People should have a right to replace ineffective leadership, flaws and all I support the principal behind the recall law. If on December 16th the majority vote NOT to recall Will Flanagan then he should go forward knowing the majority of those who care to voice their opinion stand behind him. However, if Flanagan IS recalled in the first part of the ballot but manages to win election, I think it's still a victory for those who support the recall. He clearly won't have the support of the people he leads. Will he get the message? I'm not sure but it would be interesting to see how he would handle that and clearly put the focus on 2015. And this is why I also think you should vote for the candidate you think is the best to lead the city forward because the focus is going to be on 2015. People are afraid to vote for a candidate they don't think can win and a candidate who gets strong support now is going to be considered that more seriously then. If the the whole recall does nothing more than get more people involved in their local government then its been a success and well worth the money spent. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Stolen Flag Highlights Problems

It's rather disappointing, maybe discouraging is a better word, to learn that the American flag that flies from the flagpole of the Iwo Jima memorial was stolen. I can remember the first time I saw the memorial and how stunned I was by its majesty. I really had to ask myself how did this end up in Fall River? I knew, of course, but I was in some disbelief that somehow, someway, other communities with deeper pocketbooks and maybe more influence didn't figure out someway to get this incredible monument installed in a more 'desirable' location.

Really I couldn't help but to think then that the monument, Bicentennial Park and the entire boardwalk was just an amazing development for Fall River. This development of our waterfront was something we could all be proud of. This was first class, something people from OTHER communities would want to come and see. Seeing the development of restaurants in the area just hint at what the future could hold. At the same time I couldn't help but wonder how long it would be before that element would come in and vandalize the monument or the boardwalk, For a long time the boardwalk and park stayed pretty clean and 'vandal' free. However, the theft of the flag highlights an issue that has been creeping up on us, that the park and boardwalk are being neglected and vandalized on a regular basis.

Over the last year or so I've noticed graffiti that isn't being cleaned up. I see broken balusters on the boardwalk railings, and broken lights (particularly in the area of the Iwo Jima memorial) that just aren't getting fixed. There is this whole broken window theory that basically states if things are not being maintained it's an invitation for vandalism and the more the vandalism goes unchecked the more it invites further vandalism. It makes sense that once you see this element taking hold you have to combat it pretty aggressively. Eventually fixing the balusters and cleaning graffiti are great but if you can't get ahead of the vandals its a losing effort.

The whole area from Heritage State Park to Bicentennial Park is still just an amazing benefit for our community. In warm weather I see all sorts of people utilizing and enjoying it but we need to fix the 'broken windows'. We need to clean up the graffiti, fix the boardwalk, install vandal proof lighting. There's some talk about cameras maybe we should consider it. Perhaps we could find some way to bring in park rangers (possibly a volunteer program?) to tour all our parks and keep an eye on things. The important things is, we need to do SOMETHING. It would be a terrible shame if we let same old elements creep in and rob us of something that truly has been a wonderful highlight for our city.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Who should be the next mayor of Fall River?

So, here we are facing a recall election with a large group of candidates running. I'm curious to see who people are supporting and WHY! Here's my thoughts on who I think the "top" candidates are and assessments about them:

Mayor WIll Flanagan - Regardless of feelings on the Mayor, I just can't see how he could lead and UNIFY the city if he were to retain office after the recall election.

Dave Dennis - A former City Councilor who always seems to be a candidate for office, ANY office. I just don't know if I can support a candidate for Mayor who always seems to be looking for his next elected position.

Sam Sutter - He's got a great reputation as District Attorney but I'm not sure if that's really relatable experience for Mayor. I'd like to learn more about him but I really feel we need someone who has a solid knowledge of the issues Fall River faces.

Mike Miozza - Current City Councilor, always strikes me as a guy who does his homework and is willing to listen. Seems to be a team player on the council, someone that leaves his ego at the door. I think probably THE candidate that can hit the ground running on day one.

Shawn Cadime - He wants to be mayor and seems to have had concerns on the Flanagan administration but those concerns don't come to light until he wants to run for office? There is no doubt that he is good with the finances. Everybody gives him credit for that but that's not the job he's running for and I never thought that he showed much leadership on the school committee

So who do you think the top candidates are? Who are you supporting and why? Is there someone else running that you support? In this recall election your vote CAN make a difference!

Monday, November 03, 2014

Double Dipping and the Need to Consolidate

Good news Recallers, Judge McGuire has ruled the recall can go forward! Bad news, he has also ruled that Mayor Flanagan can be listed as a candidate for election. Personally I can't see how the judge arrived at this conclusion. Having Mayor Flanagan listed as a candidate is sort of like double dipping. The Mayor now has two opportunities to retain his seat. If his supports can't defeat the recall they can vote for him as a candidate and in effect re-elect him. This is baffling because you could have the majority vote for a recall, which obviously means they are unhappy with the mayor, but still see Mayor Flanagan return to office because he has the most consolidated support. The is very likely to be exactly the outcome of the recall. because while there are a great many people who would like to see the mayor removed from office they do not stand united behind any one candidate. The mayor's supporters however do, and they are likely going to be motivated to come out and vote.

According to the Herald News article, the recall organizers are not likely to challenge the judge's ruling but really SOMEONE should challenge it! It seems very clear that the intent of recalling the mayor in part one should preclude him from being a candidate in part two.

That said, if no challenge to the judge's ruling is forthcoming then there is a real need for the other candidates to regroup and decide just WHY are they running and realize that there is a real need for them to consolidate. This is a time for the people who are running for office to really show some leadership by stepping aside and uniting behind a singular candidate. I doubt this will happen because besides all of the platitudes and spoken love for our city and belief in its future, most of these individuals are running not because they want to be mayor plain and simple. Well news is folks none of you are going to get elected if you split the vote a dozen ways. Who should step aside and who should run? Well, if you've never held office, have no name recognition, and no campaign team behind you, you probably should call it quits. I think that will bring it down to about 4 serious candidates and then it's just setting aside the egos and uniting behind the best candidate to face against the mayor.  Easier said than done!