Browse By

Not Boarding Up Yet…

Surprise, surprise. The Springfield Finance Control Board (FCB), will endure for another year. Much to this blogger’s relief, the municipal election will not be such that councilors engage in a footrace as to which FCB policy they will reverse first. Whether it is right or not, the strategy is counter-productive.

However, while I reluctantly welcome this development, I cannot help but wonder why it took Patrick so long to say he’s going to keep up to status quo for another year. As it stands, he has signaled no particular interest in restructuring the city’s payback of the state loan, the composition of the board, or the unrest about the FCB lack of public speak out. He expressed his desire for Springfield to stand on its own, as if he were the only one, or at least the first one suggesting the idea. I am pretty sure that Presidential ambitions aside, Romney wanted that, and members’ questionable ability of finding Springfield on a map notwithstanding, the entire Statehouse wanted/wants that as well. However, since I support the move, I will be a good little Democrat and reserve my attacks against the governor until we disagree about something. Don’t worry, it won’t be long.

Now, as we move into what may be the last chapter of the board, it is decision time. Council President Walsh, though hoping the City Council would regain its power, may try to act as an ambassador for the City Council via her seat on the FCB. That her Council Presidency will be under the FCB for it entirety, makes her moves difficult to predict. However, she will likely steer the FCB to develop a more substantive transition process for when the inevitable restoration of home rule occurs.

The legislature has decisions to make, too. They could decide to act unilaterally and extend or abolish the board themselves. However this seems unlikely. Other than getting its money back from the loan, the legislature by and large does not seem to care about the board, and will probably accede to whatever Gov. Patrick decides…at least when it comes to the board’s length. The legislature WILL need to decide what it wants to do about repayment. Assuming he sticks around for the long-haul, Senate President Travaglini, having a good relationship with WMass Senators, will put the issue up for debate, forcing the House to do the same. While from a purely provincial and myopic point of view, forgiving the debt would be wonderful, I do not find it to be productive. Extending the repayment schedule is the fairest way to go about the debt. It gives Springfield a chance to get its act together, but also encourages, in fact demands, responsibility. I do believe, that as a gesture, the state should forgive the amount of loan borrowed for the cost of the FCB including Puccia’s salary and staff, studies, and other costs directly attributed to the board.

Hey, if for no other reason the city has a 375th birthday coming up in four years. Hopefully, by then the city’s will be looking to some nice presents to open up like a stable economy, fair local aid, good jobs, and not just bills.