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Board with Commissioning Yet?…

The Springfield Finance Control Board announced today that it will be launching a new search to replace outgoing Springfield Police Commission, Ed Flynn. According to WWLP’s website, City Council President Kateri Walsh and outgoing mayor Charles Ryan pleaded with the other state-appointed members of the board to simply award the job to William Fitchet.

They believed that, as the runner up in the last search, and as a 34-year department veteran, he is the most obvious choice. According to WWLP, Board Chairman Chris Gabrieli said:

“I don’t want to exclude any candidate. I think your job is to get the best person, period. We are trying to scope the search that recognizes that we have a strong local candidate; let’s have some quick, strong alternatives.”

Nobody can deny that there all parties involved want the best replacement for the city. However, the fact that this motion carried with the support of the three state-appointed candidates alone says something, you guessed it, political.
The Springfield Control Board’s legacy has former governor Mitt Romney’s fingerprints all over it. Much of that impact cannot be erased as it is related to the positive steps the city has taken. Before that statement is taken out of context WMassP&I IS NOT CREDITING Romney with the city’s thus-far recovery. But his administration played a role in everything the Board has done up until current-governor, Deval Patrick, was sworn in.

As such, Deval Patrick, using his influence upon the Board, may be setting up a new search as he sees the last one as invalid and tainted. Indeed, the hooting and rumors that said Flynn got the job as a reward from Romney, seem even more true today. But even Fitchet, who has more invested here than Flynn did, as the number two in that Romney-era search, cannot be trusted with Patrick FCB stamp of approval. In other words, Patrick may want his own search with his agenda. Or even his own candidate for police chief…his own Edward Flynn.

Less cynically, he might also be concerned about whether Fitchet is a truly independent character or tied to the machine in Springfield, being a 34-year veteran of the department. That is only speculation. A comment on Urban Compass by frequently appearing “NoPolitician,” regarding City Council President Kateri Walsh’s anti-outsider stance on the commissioner’s job suggests that this is not wholly out of line.

In any event, the Control Board is going to do what it is going to do. Fitchet is the most reasonable choice, because going through another search is just a waste of everybody’s time. He has community support and he has mayor-elect Domenic Sarno’s support. But Patrick has his own agenda, and for the time being, we have no choice, but be subject to it.

*See the Urban Compass story for more details about the meeting.

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