On Springfield

Friday Odds and Ends

As the battle over the Police Commission proposal and the hiring of a new SPD head rages on (in a nutshell: a group of city councilors is proposing a revived five-member commission and calling on Mayor Domenic Sarno to hold off on hiring a successor to Commissioner William Fitchet until the Council votes on the matter; Sarno opposes the commission proposal and is moving ahead with his plan to choose Fitchet’s replacement from one of the department’s three deputy chiefs), Matt Szafranski at Western Mass. Politics & Insight offers this interesting survey of how other New England cities govern their police departments and finds a range of models in place.

“Whatever the fate of Council’s proposed ordinance or Sarno’s decision, any Police management structure in Springfield may imitate other New England cities to some degree,” Szafranski writes. “No police departments are fully divorced from political interference or considerations. While it is true that the old Police Commission was riddled with politics, the sole Commissioner setup in Springfield is no less vulnerable to politics. Suggestions to the contrary are either woefully naïve or deeply cynical.”

Szafranski also argues, in this editorial, that Sarno ought to slow down the hiring process and open it to public scrutiny: “While we certainly believe the process should be opened up to more than these three deputy chiefs, our principal beef is the opacity of the process and a speed that could outpace the Millennium Falcon.”

In other news, the Reminder’s G. Michael Dobbs weighs in on the state’s costly repair plan for I-91 in Springfield—and dubs it “one of the most stupid things I’ve heard of in a long time.” Elsewhere in the Reminder, Chris Maza reports on the long-awaited and much-welcomed news that Cathedral High School will, indeed, be rebuilt on Surrey Avenue.

Also this week, WGBY’s Connecting Point talked to City Councilors Mike Fenton, Zaida Luna and Bud Williams about diversity on the council and to Hampden Sheriff Mike Ashe about his decision to retire in 2016—news that has sent shockwaves around the local political scene.

Last but not least, today City Hall announced the kick-off of a $20 million fundraising campaign to restore Court Square’s Campanile.

“Together, we can restore the clock tower to its original majesty when it opened 100 years ago,” Sarno said in announcing the campaign. “Springfield is on the verge of a renaissance and the Campanile reflects the aspirations and confidence that are now starting to permeate our city.”

The mayor’s office expects the campaign to take three years, and the restoration work, two.

Want to help? Send checks, made out to the Springfield Council for Cultural and Community Affairs to the Springfield Campanile Restoration Project, 200 Trafton Rd., Springfield, MA 01108.

© 2014 The Valley Advocate