Saturday, December 21, 2013

Strategy


A few blog posts ago, I wrote about the nationwide search for a new city administrator, about how it was going to end at the door of a local politico.  I’d like to tell you now of my uncanny prescience and political acumen, my predictive powers, my vision – I’d like to tell you how smart I am, in other words.

But that wouldn’t be quite right. The Cathy Ann rumor, the rumor that she would be the Mayor’s choice, has been flying around for some weeks. And these rumors, the open secrets of City Hall, are usually correct.

So much for that.

If only the official statements coming from the Sixth Floor (which I have recently decided to capitalize, given how nice it all looks) were as accurate.

There is some good in this, I guess. If Viveiros is confirmed by the City Council, for a term just long enough to guarantee her a hefty city pension, Ken Pacheco will no longer have to make a fool of himself, claiming that he doesn’t know that which he clearly knows. Cathy Ann will not run against the Mayor again (at least not this mayor) which might free up some campaign money for someone who has a shot at being successful. And the new City Council will be a little newer.

It’s easy to be cynical about all this, and to focus this cynicism on the Sixth Floor. But let’s not forget that the City Council does have to sign off on Viveiros’ appointment. 

That’s a little awkward, by the way, because there are three members of that Council, as presently constituted, who won’t be around for at least the first two years of Viveiros’ term. Another Deluxe Special Emergency Meeting of the Council will have to be held, before the inauguration, in addition to the Deluxe Special Emergency Meeting that will be held Monday. The latter figuring to be interesting enough.

My good friend Dan Robillard, who surely knows more about city politics than do I, indicates that the new City Council will be what amounts to a rubber stamp for the Mayor. Despite his demonstrated skill in assessing such things, I disagree. That’s partly because I believe that at least two outgoing councilors, Brad Kilby and Eric Poulin, will take a shot at the mayoralty, and that they are likely to have allies remaining on the Council.

I guess we’ll have to see who the best politicians in the city turn out to be, but a lot of the early betting is on Poulin. And I think we should remember that Kilby almost got it done in the recent State Rep race – although I think he lost partly due to the fact that he was a better city councilor than politician.

We’ll also see who can keep the most balls in the air – the City Council or the Mayor. And there are a few balls in the air, right now. The Council seems keen on making the Mayor accountable for his actions. How long that lasts, I do not know. But if any of the future challengers to the mayor’s seat do indeed come from the present council (and that’s really not an “if”) then there will be councilors who have a political stake in dogging the mayor to his last political breath.

In a different place, the chain of events that started in fact months ago would be the beginning of the end of Will Flanagan’s reign. But Fall River is not a different place - it’s Fall River, so maybe I’m wrong. 

Make no mistake – the appointment of Cathy Ann Viveiros – and I am not questioning her competency, even if the Mayor did during the recent campaign – is just what it appears to be – a purely political move. It might even divert everyone’s attention from the growing scandal on the Sixth Floor. But I also think it is a political mistake for the Mayor.

In fact, I think the wheels are coming off the Will Flanagan train. 

Viveiros will probably get her pension. As will the Mayor, for that matter. The Law Department gets a fancy new entrance and a big screen TV. Shawn Cadime will get a better job. Somerset gets the full monty. 

And this, straight from the Herald News – “Flanagan, who originally denied the sixth floor work was funded by the bond, admitted there was not enough money left from the city building improvement bond to complete the remaining projects, but city workers would build the handicapped-accessible restrooms and his administration would “strategize” to renovate the collector's and treasurer's office.”

The taxpayers will get strategy. Not necessarily the renovations that the City Council approved. But we’ll get strategy.

Then again, it’s all been nothing but strategy, all along. What the taxpayers will also get is the chance to determine of all this strategizing has worked.  

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