Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Faust Fiore, Political Consultant

I just read that story in the Herald about city campaign finances, and I gotta tell you, I’m a little put out. It seems that Sam Sutter paid some out of town outfit over five grand for polling information. Like what information - who was going to win and by how much?

Never one to blow my own horn, but regular readers will remember that I came within a smidge of predicting the exact outcome in the prelim, which I provided to the reading public for free. I certainly would have provided the mayor with the same information for a fraction of the price he paid these guys. Predicting mayoral races is really only a part time job for me. Let’s see – writing that post took about an hour, so using the going rate at city hall for part time work, that’s what – about $850?  

No real surprises in the story, though.  Sutter got a lot of donations from lawyers. Lawyers who “do business with the city”.


Lawyers who do business with the city.

Hey…. Do you think that means these lawyers were among those who got that “outside legal work” the city was billed two hundred large for? I mean, no problem, right? So they do necessary legal work for the city – so what?

You know, work that was made necessary by the firing of two full time lawyers who probably weren’t going to contribute a lot to a Sutter campaign. So who needs them anyway, right?

 Meanwhile, the lead story on the talk shows on WSAR is… WSAR. They do occasionally cover local news and politics, but it’s mostly about WSAR.

So, the question keeps coming up in conversations that I have – did Jasiel help or hurt himself by backing out of the WSAR debate?  From what I can tell, it would have hurt him had the radio station handled it better. But WSAR somehow got on the defensive.

I’m not sure how that happened. They are spending so much time trying to convince listeners that they’re on the up and up (defending themselves against whom, I am not quite sure) that they seem a little, well, defensive. Not to say oversensitive.

The sense I get is that a few people will care about this for a little while, but that very few will base their vote on what happens to a media outlet. Media outlets are not puppies or children or America’s Got Talent contestants.

Out on the street, I get the feeling that Sutter hasn’t lost much ground in the last week or so, mostly because he hasn’t said or done much of anything in the last week or so.

He might be hoping that Jasiel boycotts all the debates. Based on past performance, he should be hoping that. Getting back to campaign financing and for the sake of being fair and balanced (I jest) I’ll give the mayor the advice his high-priced Boston consultants should be giving him, for free, in preparation for the upcoming debates.

1.     Don’t insult the voters. Again.

2.     Whenever the subject of trash comes up, talk about Amazon.com. Or how you cleaned up the D.A.’s office. Or the weather.

3.     Try to pronounce your opponent’s last name correctly, just to give the impression that you’re actually paying attention.

4.     Look up some facts about Fall River from before you were elected. Just to make it seem like you did more than sleep here.

5.     Make real, but simple arguments. Ad hominem attacks will please your supporters but won’t win you new votes. People will not vote for you because of your age and experience. It’s their own experience they worry about – their experience with you so far.

6.     Here’s the most important one – if you must talk trash, sincerely address the voters’ concerns.

Telling them they have a new fee to pay because you could only think of three alternatives gives them the impression that you don’t take them seriously. It insults their intelligence. It insults mine and I’m not that smart. Saying we needed a new fee “because it’s an enterprise fund” is, shall we say, unimaginative.

Pretending that anyone, anyone at all, is criticizing Joe Macy when they are clearly criticizing you is not going to work this time any more than it did last time. Take the voters seriously. You haven’t done this yet, but it’s never too late to change.

Or maybe it is. Can you spend the better part of a year simply not taking the voters seriously and still somehow salvage an election at the end? I think you can in some offices, but not in this one. I have heard from some that Sam Sutter is on the rebound. Maybe he is. I just wonder how cheap a date Fall River really is.  




Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pop quiz...

Hey kids!  It’s pop quiz time!

So much has happened, I thought it was time to review. This quiz only counts for a third of your grade, so relax. There’s no fee for taking this quiz and you don’t need to be a Brown grad to understand the simple questions.  Good luck!

1. That ten dollar trash fee was implemented to

A)    stave off bankruptcy
B)     avoid massive layoffs
C)    save our schools
D)    provide a nice little nest egg in the city’s coffers

2. Joe Macy went on the radio again to defend his appointment because

A)    he wanted to complain that he gets no bennies in his new job
B)     he wanted to explain that half of 92,000 is 46,000
C)    he needed to let us know that he doesn’t get paid for lunch
D)    he heard that if you explain that you’ll be good at your new job because you were good at your last job, everything will be okay

3. Will Flanagan opened a law office because

A)    he still has a lot of friends in town
B)     Sam Sutter keeps telling everyone what a good lawyer Will Flanagan is
C)    he was always a guy who worked full time for full time pay
D)    he heard that City Hall was passing out legal work like candy

4. The school department is now fully funded because

A)    we have that brand new trash fee
B)     our mayor is committed to education
C)    children are our future
D)    it’s a state law

5. Mayor Sam Sutter thinks other points of view are

A)    stupid
B)     just noise
C)    obviously not the product of a Brown-educated mind
D)    the result of part time thinking about full time ideas

6. Fall River has that little nest egg because

A)    of sound fiscal management
B)     of that trash fee
C)    Sam Sutter was a good D. A.
D)    Sam Sutter saved a lot of gas money by not showing up to anything

7. Most people in Fall River think Sam Sutter

A)    has done a good job
B)     has done a poor job
C)    was a good D. A.
D)    can either break the trash bag contract or cannot, depending on which Sam Sutter you ask

8. The top issue in this year’s mayoral election is

A)    trash
B)     trash fees
C)    taxes and trash fees
D)    lawyers, funds and money

9. Sam Sutter thinks he should be re-elected because

A)    he’s made a prima facie case for his re-election, which is good enough
B)     he knows what prima facie means and you don’t
C)    he knows what ipso fact means, and you don’t
D)    he straightened out City Hall with part time workers

10. Sam Sutter’s biggest problem is

A)    that trash fee
B)     part time workers getting full time pay
C)    arrogance
D)    most of the lawyers he farmed work out to don’t vote in Fall River

That’s our quiz, folks. I’m sure you did well…

Sunday, September 27, 2015

America's pastime...

The last time I voted in Fall River, I voted for Will Flanagan for mayor. He was running against Joe Carvalho.  I don’t really remember who I voted for in the council. Probably Joe Camara. I like Joe and think he’s the smartest politician in town. Also Leo.  Say what you want, but Leo doesn’t vote in a bloc, so far as I can tell. And I look past his struggles with the language. Probably two more.

You don’t care who I voted for, I am quite sure.

This time, if I were a Fall River voter, I’d have voted for Jasiel for mayor.  Shawn Cadime for council. Trottjoseph Lee. Joe again. Lebeau. Maybe Josh Silva. I never vote for more than four or five.

I reckon you don’t care about that, either.

I am friendly, to one degree or another, with many of the candidates. Many that I would not have voted for, sometimes for purely mathematical reasons. I’d vote for Cadime for just about anything, but not because I like him personally. Which I do. Lee, I hardly know, but he’s very smart. Lebeau, pretty much the same as Lee. Silva, I know pretty well – we talk some. He’s bright and would be one of those who try to keep the brakes on spending.

Different candidates for different reasons. I wouldn’t want nine Silvas any more than I’d want nine Cadimes.

And you don’t care. Because I’m not running for mayor.

Personally, I don’t care who any of the candidates vote for. Or their reasons. But perhaps some of you do.

It was a pretty dumb mistake, but for purely political reasons. I don’t think you can make a mistake in voting, or at least I don’t think that because you have voted for someone I wouldn’t have that it’s a mistake. There’s just something sacrosanct about voting.

There are those who are pretty shaken up by The Pic and maybe by Correia’s efforts to mitigate the damage. I think that what you do when you make a mistake is you try to mitigate the damage.

So I’m not very much exercised about it.

We’ve got some serious problems in Fall River and The Pic is not one of them. The Pic, if it inflicted any damage at all, inflicted damage on one person, and that person wasn’t you or me.

The perfect candidate is neither Sam nor Jasiel. The perfect candidate is, to me, some version of me. To you, the perfect candidate is some version of you. Maybe the childless, more energetic, more sociable you, but still, some version of you. But I can’t vote for me and you can’t vote for you. Well, you can, but…

I wish that Sam Sutter was a better version of me. He at least ran, after all. But maybe there’s a problem when you’re more anointed mayor than elected mayor. He was our savior. He knew it, too. That was the main theme to his campaign. He would hit the ground running and straighten out a city hall in disarray. That’s really all he promised.

But did he deliver?

That’s the mistake that Sam Sutter made. He was, politically speaking, born on third base, but came to believe that he hit a triple.

I think Cadime’s surprisingly strong finish in the prelim was, to some extent, buyer’s remorse. It was a lot of people saying, “We shoulda voted for you, Shawn.” This election was and remains about Sam Sutter.

Sutter has, by all appearances, behaved like a guy who was not going to see significant opposition this year.  Like a guy who believes he was elected because he was, well, Sam Sutter. But he was elected on buyer’s remorse, as well. He got the anyone-but-Will vote and not so much the Sam Sutter vote.  He got the votes of people who figured he would beat Will.  

That’s not really a mandate to do whatever you want. It’s not a mandate to make city hall the Brown Alumni Club or to compound the tax-and-fee mistakes of the past. It’s not a mandate to ignore phone calls or fail to show up at important civic events. But without real opposition, he could surely get away with thinking so.

And he might yet.  The final election is still in our future.

If The Pic turns out to be biggest mistake Jasiel makes, we’ll all be in a good place. I happen to think that Sam’s Triple is the biggest mistake he has made. If Fall River brings him home on a sacrifice fly, we’ll have the same Sam Sutter that we have had thus far. Except that he will then think he has hit a home run himself. That he’s gone from MVP to the Hall of Fame.

Sam Sutter doesn’t seem to have been paying any attention at all to anything that has happened in Fall River government or politics before he was elected. And it almost appears that he’s still not paying attention to the politics of the city. I’d like to think that Fall River voters want that attention.

But I learn every day, if I’m lucky.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Post-prediction post...

I guess I didn’t do all that well on my city council predictions. Maybe barely well enough to walk around in public. I was surprised by Rich Cabeceiras, although I perhaps should not have been,  But I had one “nice young man” slot – I filled it with the wrong guy. It’s not that either Cabeceiras or Jason Caminiti are only that. But people vote for their own reasons.

Last night may be the only time I ever have, or ever will, underestimate Shawn Cadime. I think some of his vote was buyer’s remorse over the last mayoral election, but the vast majority was due to the fact that he is Fall River’s resident budget genius, a position he will not relinquish any time soon. You know, and that he's very capable. I like smart people, and really like people smarter than me, so I like this Cadime victory. A lot.

The ninth place finishers, Steve Camara and Trottjoseph Lee, are interesting. Camara is an old friend and I wish him well, but Lee is the top finisher among those who identify with the recall movement. I’m not sure about the turnout amongst those voters who also identify that way, but right now, I’m guessing he is ultimately elected. He may be all they got.

I did better in the mayoral race. The paypah says Jasiel won by 7%. I guessed 8%. There seems to be a bit of surprise about this, that Correia won at all. I thought I was being conservative about the margin of victory. It’s worth pointing out that the incumbent got only 40% of the vote. While there will be more voters in the final, just where do you suppose the votes cast for the bottom three candidates are likely to go?

Some may stay on the sidelines, but any way you slice it, Sam Sutter has a difficult task ahead of him. On the radio today, he’s claiming that he hasn’t got his message out effectively. I think this is incorrect.  I think people have heard his message. They know he felt that the $10.00 fee was the best choice in his judgment. They just disagree. Or 60% of voters in last night’s election do, anyway.

Here’s the thing, Sam – they’re just not that into you.

Sam Sutter campaigned last year with one overriding message. It was brilliant in its simplicity.  And it worked. Sam Sutter said he had cleaned up the D.A.’s office and that he would clean up city hall. Hiring his pension-collecting friends at fulltime wages for part time work is not resonating as a practice that will clean up city hall.

His current message on economic development is kind of a dud as well. Even today he talked about how he has struck out at trying to fill the Biopark. I may have said this already, but if your entire record on economic development is one of near misses, talk about potholes.

Yes, I think the voters have heard Sutter’s message, via word and deed. He did not clean up city hall. He did hire his friends. He hired Joe Macy and still racked up the outside legal bills.

Today, on the radio, he complained that Jasiel tried to prevent the hiring of Rob Bentlyewski. Presumably, Mr. Sutter made that complaint because he thinks that anyone gives a crap. Bentlyewski is a very likeable Brown grad, but when most of the voters may have just told you that they don’t like your hiring practices, complaining about someone who tried to save you from yourself makes little sense.

Here it is in a nutshell.  Last night, on TV, after the results were in, Sutter talked like he lost. He didn’t, of course – he was one of two winners. But he must have thought he lost.

Okay, he lost, but it still wasn’t a time for anger. He was seemingly angry at his supporters for not showing up at the polls. He lashed out at his opponent. A little too much. He was pissed (again) and it showed. And he said something like this – and I cannot locate the video, so this is a paraphrase – “I got ten bucks a month from you, but look at all the economic development that I think will happen in the future. It’s worth it.”

That’s pretty much gibberish. Difficult to criticize gibberish. It speaks for itself.

I think the city has listened to Sam Sutter. But if he stays the course in this campaign, the city will stop listening. Which, ironically, can only help Sam Sutter.

Meanwhile, Correia has done this – he flat out beat the incumbent, which means that many who didn’t think he could win will switch votes, not only from the bottom three candidates but from Sutter. Money will flow more readily to the challenger and perhaps also endorsements, maybe from city worker unions.

And Sam Sutter will have to get the message out that 40% for an incumbent wasn’t really an ass-whoopin’. Good luck with that.

Coda: If Jordan Silvia can deliver a thousand votes to Correia (and Correia wins) does Silvia become one of the most influential political figures of the last two years?  

Monday, September 21, 2015

'Twas the night before election...

Okay, kids.  Here we are on the eve of a Fall River election. Why (and to whom) I feel obligated to prognosticate, I cannot say. Maybe it’s simple – I love the danger. If I’m wrong, especially really wrong, I lose face in front of all twelve of my readers. If I’m right, nothing much happens.

I’d say the risk/reward ratio is firmly on my side.

Okay – the city council, in order of finish. The names are in the hat, so here goes.

  1. Linda Perreira - I base this mostly on the strength of her campaign jingle. It’s not good, but at least she has one.

  1. Joe Camara – Somehow, I think he comes out of the last year’s folderol and nonsense the least damaged. That’s mostly for good reasons, but partly because he is very good at coming out of just about anything unscathed.

  1. Shawn Cadime – I think everyone understands that he’s very bright and that he will let little slip by him come budget time. Since passing the budget is just about the most important thing the council does, I think he’ll get a lot of votes.

  1. Pam Lebeau – another strong finish for a challenger, because she is also wicked smaht, has a track record as a community activist and knows a lot of people.

  1. Steve Long – basically, he’s new and hasn’t had a chance.  He strikes some chords with voters on the issue of alternative budget funding sources.

  1. Cliff Ponte – I don’t know why. I just think he’ll get in there.

  1. Leo. – He’s been counted out before.

  1. Jason Caminiti – he gets in on the “nice young man” vote. There’s always one.

  1. Ray Mitchell – but I wonder if he’ll win in November. He’s got his peeps, but he’s got some problems, too.

The mayoral race:

Correia beats Sutter by 8%

Okay, that’s straight out of my “hat”. It doesn’t even make sense. An incumbent who has only been in one year, who has the money and the connections – losing? The thing is, unless I’m listening to WSAR talk show hosts, I can’t find many who support him. So I have to go with what I know, and not what I don’t know.

I don’t make predictions very often, mostly because I’m worse at predictions than Sam Sutter is at debating Jordan Silvia. So don’t bet your stash of purple bags on this one. I do think that people will be betting their $120 per month trash fee on it, though.

Speaking of WSAR, I just heard Joe Macy call that afternoon talk show on the local AM station. To defend his salary. I’m not sure that’s helping his guy. You don’t really do it that way. You get the city admin on the news, or somewhere on the radio schedule, and she coolly and calmly lies through her teeth.  Even Will Flanagan knew that. It worked for him, at least for a while.

Maybe it’s just another symptom of the mayor’s lack of political acumen, but if the only person you can get to defend an unpopular appointment is the appointee, well, that’s a problem.

Macy did claim that the 18½ hour limit on his work week is not what he’s “all about.” I hope that doesn’t mean he plans to flout state pension laws. But it has been made abundantly clear that one needs a degree from Brown University to truly understand city government as it is currently constituted. So I won’t jump to any conclusions.

In the end, I don’t care who wins – I just want to be right.  

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Not winning...

I am assuming that nearly everyone who reads this has seen Thursday’s mayoral debate. I’m certainly not going to give a blow-by-blow – there were just too many blows.

Most elections, if there is an incumbent, are mostly about the incumbent.

You don’t have to be a good debater to be a good mayor. But Mr. Sutter is not a good debater.  He got his clock cleaned. So firstly, a word or two about Jordan Silvia. Thursday night may have been the culmination of everything he has tried to do since he burst upon the public scene.

I know a lot of people don’t like Silvia. I don’t like much of what he does. I think his antics at city council meetings have been, in aggregate, inappropriately combative and aggressive. But political debates are not city council meetings. Debates are not by definition acrimonious, but we have come to expect verbal violence – and Silvia was not the only candidate to perform word-to-word combat.

 At least he won. Not the debate – I cannot say that. But he won the fights he picked. If his strategy was to show that the incumbent has a temper and a certain elitist, out of touch attitude, he won. If he set out to force Mr. Sutter to play the black pieces, he succeeded. If his goal was to get the mayor so flustered that he went off message, he reached that goal. If he wanted the mayor to make himself look bad, he got what he wanted.

He did not do this alone. Jasiel Correia helped. But no one helped more than Sam Sutter.

There were at least three very low points for Sutter on that night. Perhaps the lowest was in an exchange with the audience. Why he engaged a hostile audience on an issue on which he could not win, I cannot divine.

Sam Sutter said, “Is anyone really questioning how good a lawyer Joe Macy is?”

Well, that isn’t the issue, now is it?

The crowd responded. Evidently in the negative.

Sam Sutter then said, ”That’s good, because that just shows how much you don’t know.”

So let’s be clear – Mr. Sutter was not defending his appointment, he was defending the legal acumen of his appointee. But it was his appointment that was being questioned. And so Mr. Sutter has wiggle room on that score. The damaging part is that he wiggled, that he only pretended to address the issue, and managed to insult some voters in the process. Would Mr. Sutter concede that the populace knows enough to question his appointments? I do not know.

On economic development, the incumbent touted the fact that the city has had, presumably during his tenure, two prospective tenants for the Biopark. And that the governor helped to land them. But neither deal came through. So, we got up to bat twice and whiffed both times. That is not a win. Claiming that he almost got the job done is not a winning position. Claiming that he’s almost landed Amazon isn’t much better. I’m working from memory, but I don’t think the question was “What have you almost done in the area of economic development?”

And then there were the outside legal fees. Candidate Correia waved a stack of papers around, claiming that the city has incurred almost $200,000 in such fees, a claim that Mr. Sutter did not dispute nor even try to explain. That’s not good for a mayor who has just appointed a part time corporation council for a full time wage.

Overall, the mayor looked angry, petulant, defensive and pretty much like his time was being wasted. It’s just not a good look. I think you'll agree that he wasn't there for the other candidates - he was there for the voters.

He didn’t look much better when he had to rescind a charge he made against Correia the night before. He didn’t know, on that previous night, that the last time free cash was being transferred to the school department, it was for FY 14, not 15. He looked like he has looked before – that until he became mayor, he just hadn’t been paying attention to Fall River. That he really doesn’t know much about Fall River.

It was a tough night for the mayor.

I asked a friend who I think has both media and political savvy how much these debates matter. He told me that they matter a lot. Especially in a world so imbued with social media. We may find out on Tuesday.  It’s just the prelim, but this is my take. If Correia wins, the election is all but over. The other candidates will get anyone-but-Sam votes only.

And if Correia comes within maybe a couple of thousand votes of winning, he’s at least the favorite going into the final.

I don’t know what will happen, but I feel pretty sure that Sam Sutter gained exactly zero votes in the two mayoral debates. And he surely lost some.

A vote for Silvia Tuesday is pretty much a vote for Jasiel in November. And Silvia surely knows it. Despite that Sutter is continually insinuating that Jordan Silvia is cognitively challenged, the latter man has shown that he is not only very bright, but a better politician than Sutter. If the only goal of the debate was to knock Sam Sutter down, Silvia won, sure. But if the goal was to get elected, Correia won.

Sam Sutter did not win.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015


 I have long wanted to do a post featuring hashtags, just to show how cool I am. So here goes. Just to be clear, these hashtags link to exactly nothing. It’s just a gimmick.

Firstly, a hashtag or two about the city council race.

Shawn Cadime  #budgetwatchdog  – You may think we need one.

Pam Lebeau  #getsthingsdone  -  You may think we need to.

Richard Cabeceiras #financialplanner – You may think we never do this but should.

Trottjoseph Lee  #notjustanotherrecaller  -  You may think he is a thinking person’s candidate.

Steve Long  #newideas  -  You may think ideas are good.

Joe Camara  #sharpasatack  -  You may think tacks are handy.

Leo Pelletier  #leobeingleo  -  You may think an independent mind is good.

Josh Silva  #spendless  -  You may think a fiscal conservative is the right choice.

Jason Caminiti -  #hitechguy  - You may think Fall River should join the 21st century

I’m not really endorsing these candidates - who would care if i did? - but I figure they are candidates that I can say something positive about. Some I know well, others only a little. I will say this – if these turn out to be the next council, we wouldn’t be so bad off.

This won’t be the roster next January, of course. It would be nothing short of creepy if I predicted the Final Nine at this point. All I am saying is that we wouldn’t be exactly screwed.

There are only two mayoral candidates, so I’ll use multiple hashtags. Which makes me multiply cool.

Sam Sutter  -  #makingcases

Jasiel Correia  -  #makingdeals

Sam Sutter  -  #knowsthelaw

Jasiel Correia - #knowsbusiness

Sam Sutter  -  #noshowsam

Jasiel Correia  -  #seehimaround

Sam Sutter  -  #blockbraytonpoint

Jasiel Correia  -  #solarpower

Sam Sutter  -  #sharedsacrifice

Jasiel Correia  -  #jointhe21stcentury

Okay. That wasn’t as cool as I thought it would be.