On Springfield

Channel 40 Takes on Albano. Boy, Does it Ever

It’s nothing to be proud of, but every time I see one of these rearview-mirror takes on the rottenness of the Albano administration—like Channel 40’s week-long series, which kicked off last night, with the juicy title “Crime and Corruption: the Albano Years”—I can’t help but feel a big case of the I-told-you-sos coming on.

But never mind that. Here’s a more interesting thought: just what inspired Channel 40 to beat the lemon out of Mayor Mike, one-time darling of Springfield’s mainstream media? I’m not buying the thin “10 year anniversary” angle offered up at the start of last night’s segment; 10 years ago, Albano and (most of) his cronies were out of City Hall, thanks to the human air-freshener that was Charlie Ryan.

No, it’s much more fun (and, frankly, plausible) to consider whether there might be a more political motive behind the hit. Among those being tossed about in the city’s political back channels: that the powers-that-be at 40 are eager to make sure that Albano, who now sits on the Governor’s Council, doesn’t succeed Hampden County Sheriff Mike Ashe once the incumbent retires in 2016, as Albano is widely believed to want. (Adding to the intrigue: Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno’s name also appears on the short list of people eyeing that seat.)

Or how about this: the series is connected to the nasty, protracted fight over billboards in the city, which saw Channel 40 owner John Gormally pitted against Patrick Keough, brother of convicted felon and former Friends of the Homeless head Frankie Keough, and other Keough pals. Frankie Keough had the dubious distinction of being the first of the rogues gallery that is Albano’s circle profiled in the series and—whadya know—the piece included the billboard battle.

In case you missed it, last night’s report, read by veteran newscaster Dave Madsen, began: “Ten years ago was a bad time for the city of Springfield and disgraced Mayor Michael J. Albano. Not only was the city in tough financial shape as a result of sloppy management and corruption, but some of the people in key leadership positions, many of them appointed by Albano, were the focus of a full blown federal corruption investigation.

“Francis Keough was one of those people.”

So was Gerry Phillips, Albano’s Police Commission chair, head of the Mass. Career Development Institute—and, yes, convicted felon. He’s on tap for tonight.

© 2014 The Valley Advocate