Conventional wisdom would suggest that a barroom is not the best place to sort out differences, political or otherwise.
But on Friday, City Councilors Jimmy Ferrera and Mike Fenton will be together behind the bar at the John Boyle O’Reilly Club, serving drinks and making nice after their public dust-up last month.
As ardent followers of the soap opera that is Springfield City Hall know, the discord began when Ferrera, in his first act as the new Council president, issued some apparent political retribution to Fenton, who had initially supported another candidate, Ward 7 Councilor Tim Allen, for the Council presidency.
While Fenton did, in the end, join the unanimous vote to elect Ferrera, he nonetheless found himself on only one committee (and, with all due respect to animals and those who love them, not exactly the most prestigious or highly-coveted one): Ferrera made Fenton the chair and sole member of the special committee in charge of animal control. (Allen, Ferrera’s would-be opponent for the Council presidency, fared somewhat better; he was put on one regular committee, Human Services. Other councilors, by way of contrast, were put on as many as four committees.)
Ferrera defended his appointments as not political—a claim undercut by his further explanation that he handed out plum assignments first to those councilors who’d supported his candidacy from the start, with those who came late to Team Ferrera getting what was “left over.” While there’s nothing new about a Council president wielding his or her power that way, Ferrera played his hand so heavily that it inspired some public backlash, and made him look, well, kinda petty.
On Friday, from 8 to 9 p.m., Ferrera and Fenton will tend bar together at the Boyle, as part of the club’s “celebrity bar-tending” series. Any tips they get will go, appropriately enough, to the Thomas J. O’Connor Animal Control and Adoption Center
“In the interest of putting the past behind us and working together during the up coming year President Ferrera and I agreed to participate in this event,” Fenton wrote in an email invitation to their Council colleagues. “Please stop by for a few laughs and an opportunity to see how confused Jimmy and I will get behind the bar trying to take orders.”
Fenton told me that the idea for the public peace-making came from School Committee member Chris Collins. “It should be fun,” he said. “We got off to a not-so-good start, but the rest of the year will be good.”