And Now, the Republican

In a not particularly surprising development, the Springfield Republican yesterday endorsed Domenic Sarno in tomorrow’s mayoral election. Two years ago, the newspaper endorsed Sarno’s opponent, then-incumbent Mayor Charlie Ryan, as the candidate with the skills and experience to lead the city through tough times. Sarno (then a city councilor) “is a nice man, and we like him,” the paper’s editorial board...

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Go Vote. Please.

The Springfield election office is predicting a 30 percent voter turnout today in this morning’s Republican. While that would be a step up from the abysmal turnout at the Sept. preliminary (when fewer than 10 percent of voters bothered to show up at the polls), it still would be a disappointment, given the historic nature of today’s election, when voters will (finally) get to choose representatives from each of the eight...

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Thank heavens, Springfield

I can’t say I’ve always understood the decisions made by the Springfield electorate. Electing Mike Albano to multiple terms, even over such superior candidates as Charlie Ryan (in 1995) and Paul Caron (in 2001)? Robotically returning the same batch of tired (with some exceptions) incumbents to the City Council and School Committee election after election? Ousting Ryan from the mayor’s seat in 2007 for longtime...

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Evaluating Ward Rep

Ward representation was a long time coming in Springfield, and expectations for the changes the new system will bring to city government have been high. So, one week after Election Day, has ward rep lived up to the expectations? Not so much, is the verdict from the Springfield Republican—at least not when it comes to reinvigorating the electorate. As reporter Peter Goonan pointed out in an article on Sunday, last week’s...

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Tosado in 2011?

It’s hard not to see City Councilor Jose Tosado’s recent announcement that he’s sewn up enough support to become the Council’s next president as the start of perhaps a bigger campaign, for a higher seat. Tosado was the highest vote-getter in last week’s Council race, with 11,951 votes. (That’s about 3,000 fewer votes than Mayor Domenic Sarno received in his decided victory over challenger Bud...

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Frankie in Hot Water, Again

When Frankie Keough was sentenced in three years in federal prison in 2007 for stealing from Friends of the Homeless, the Springfield shelter he ran, the disgraced former city councilor offered an apology before the court that, in the words of Springfield Republican reporter Jack Flynn, “expressed a mix of anguish and self-contempt.” “I’ve asked myself how I arrived at a place like this,” Keough told the...

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Biomass Opponents Speak Out

The Springfield Public Health Council will meet Wednesday evening to discuss a proposal to build a wood-burning power plant on Page Boulevard—and project opponents plan to show up to let the council members know that they don’t want it. The $150 million plant is proposed by Palmer Renewable Energy, which hopes to open in 2011. The company says the plant would create 50 new jobs. According to a plan submitted by Palmer...

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Here We Go, Armor

Springfield’s new basketball team, The Armor, is off to a good start: Last night, the team won its only pre-season game, against the Maine Red Claws, 86-78. But things really start to count on Friday, when the Armor opens its inaugural season with a 7 p.m. game against the Iowa Energy at the MassMutual Center. The Armor is part of the NBA’s D (as in Development) League, a feeder league that serves as its farm system. The...

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On Waste, and Keough

Mike Dobbs, managing editor for the Reminder, has added his voice to the chorus of Springfield residents opposed to a wood-burning biomass plant proposed for Page Boulevard. The Mass Department of Environmental Protection will hold a public hearing on the project on Wednesday, Dec. 2, at 7 pm. at Kennedy Middle School, 1385 Berkshire Ave. “Could someone please explain to me why putting a biomass plant that burns construction and...

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Pepe Takes on the Mayor

“Antonette Pepe is a fireball, and she’s burning up about something,” John O’Brien said by way of introducing the kick-ass School Committee member on this morning’s Bax & O’Brien show. I’ll say: Pepe appeared on the show this morning to expose what she calls Mayor Domenic Sarno’s attempt to “blackmail” her. According to Pepe, earlier this fall she approached Sarno (who,...

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The City Never Sleeps

When I went on vacation 10 days, I left fairly confident that I wouldn’t miss much while I was gone. After all, I thought, in this post-election, pre-holiday lull, how hot a news week could Springfield have? Certainly, I assumed, nothing could top the bombshell of a story that broke just before I left: School Committee member Antonette Pepe’s assertion that Mayor Domenic Sarno had told her he would support her bid to...

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A Question About Palmer Renewable Energy

Not long ago, I wrote on this blog about the controversial proposal by Palmer Renewable Energy to build a $150 million wood-burning plant on Page Boulevard—a plan that has prompted activists concerned about the potential public health and environmental effects of the project to organize in opposition. In response to that article, a reader who signed his post “Dave M.” asked this question in the comment section:...

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Too Late to Save Hughes Academy?

With the state education commissioner looking to pull their charter, officials at the Robert M. Hughes Academy are apparently trying a last-ditch effort to save the school. As Jack Flynn reported in today’s Republican, the board at the charter school discussed at a meeting last night replacing its acting director, Fred Swan. Swan had ascended to that role after Hughes’ principal, Janet Henry, was put on leave in response...

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Goodbye, Larry

Is it my imagination, or has the Springfield Republican had remarkably little to say about the fast-impending retirement of its publisher, Larry McDermott? The paper announced the 61-year-old McDermott’s retirement in the Dec. 15 issue, just a couple of weeks before he takes his leave. The article included the requisite good words from an executive at Advance Publications (owner of Newhouse Newspaper, which in turn owns the...

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Taxes and Religion

It’s an annual tradition: with the end of the calendar year approaching, city councilors in Springfield find themselves scrambling to approve the city’s new tax rate for the coming year, before a Dec. 31 deadline. Turns out, though, that deadline isn’t so hard and fast after all. On Dec. 15, state lawmakers approved an “emergency law” that allows municipalities to extend the deadline by which they have to...

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Tax Battle, Part 2

The City Council will have another go at the city’s new tax rate at a special meeting scheduled for tonight, at 5:15 p.m. in the City Council chambers. The meeting will include a public speak-out period (for those residents and business owners who will actually show up at a meeting scheduled for the evening of New Year’s Eve). The Council already met on Tuesday evening to vote on Mayor Domenic Sarno’s proposal to...

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New Day, and New Taxes, in Springfield

Springfield’s newest city councilors and School Committee members (and a few old ones) took their seats today, during inauguration ceremonies at City Hall. The official invitation from Mayor Domenic Sarno’s office noted today’s ceremony marked “the return of Ward Representation,” and indeed, the new electoral system has resulted in some much-welcomed new faces in office: The City Council will now have 13...

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Down to Business

The newly seated Springfield City Council has elected as its president Jose Tosado, a veteran councilor who secured the necessary votes weeks ago. Tosado, in turn, has announced his committee assignments, with some interesting picks. Among the plum positions handed out: Tim Rooke was named chairman of the Finance Committee, where he can be expected to run a tight ship, while Tim Allen (Ward 7) will chair the Planning and Economic...

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Health & Safety

Two important meetings coming up in Springfield: On Jan. 8, the McKnight Neighborhood Council will host an open-forum meeting “on ending violence and crime in the City of Springfield.” Organizers say both Mayor Domenic Sarno and Police Commissioner William Fitchet have committed to attend the meeting. Representatives from the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, the Springfield PD’s community policing division,...

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Asher, Again

If you saw a group of men beating another man, you'd probably call the police. But what if the men doing the beating were police officers themselves? In Springfield, you might run and get your video camera. That's what one unnamed bystander did on to record a Nov. 27 arrest on Rifle Street. The resulting grainy video-available for viewing at MassLive.com-captures the arrest that night of Melvin Jones III after a traffic stop....

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Tosado Ticked Off

For a guy rumored to be gearing up for a mayoral run in 2011, Jose Tosado’s recent griping about the state of the City Council chambers seems remarkably ill advised. Peter Goonan reports in today’s Republican that Tosado, the council president, is upset that the chambers have still not been updated to accommodate the increase in the number of councilors triggered by the arrival of ward representation. That change added...

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Mysteries of Springfield

1) The Case of the Cramped Councilors: How, oh how, can the Springfield City Council possibly squeeze its newly expanded 13 members into a chamber that previously sat just nine? It's a mystery that's loosened hundreds of thousands of dollars from a city budget that's hardly got spare change floating around, and provoked a blanket slap at city employees from the Council president. Enter G. Michael Dobbs, managing editor of...

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Tax Bills Drama Settled (For Now)

After much drama and fuss, in the end, the city of Springfield will, indeed, exercise an option to mail out of tax bills late this quarter. As reported by Michael McAuliffe in the Republican, the City Council voted this week to take advantage of a recently passed state “emergency” law that allows municipalities extra time to send out their property tax bills for the first quarter of the new year. Typically, those bills...

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Berkshire Catholics on Church Closings

Valley Catholics dealing with the aftermath of the Springfield Diocese’s decision last year to close a number of local churches might find inspiration—or at least some kindred spirits—in an excellent piece by reporter Charlie Deitz that aired on WAMC’s “Roundtable’ show this morning (available online here). Deitz, WAMC’s Berkshire bureau chief, looked at the various ways Catholics in that...

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Two Voices on the Jones/Asher Case

The Springfield-based Alliance to Develop Power, or ADP, has released a statement from Alvina Williams Jackson, the mother of Melvin Jones III, the 28-year-old city man at the center of a recent case of alleged police brutality. In November, Jones had been in a car stopped by Springfield police. The incident didn’t come to light until earlier this month, when a video made by bystander surfaced on MassLive.com and was reported on...

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Fight! Fight!

For those of us who love to see public figures scuffling, superblogger Tom Devine has a juicy bit about a brewing battle between U.S. Rep. Richie Neal and Jim Polito, the former Channel 40 investigative reporter who now hosts a talk radio show in Worcester. In truth, most of the scuffling this far has been done by Polito, a love-’im-or-hate-’im personality who apparently hasn’t softened up during his time in central...

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The Mayor Takes to the Court

It is a sure sign that you’ve reached middle age when you no longer can identify pop-culture celebrities, and you’ve stopped trying. Who cares if you have no idea who the host of Saturday Night Live is (forget about the musical guest)? It’s not like you can stay up late enough to watch theshow anyway. Perhaps that’s why I’m perfectly happy to accept the loose definition of “celebrity” being...

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Diocese Offers Immigration Aid to Haitians

With the Obama administration recently granting Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, to Haitians living illegally in the U.S., the Springfield Diocese is hosting a workshop for people interested in applying on Feb. 9. The workshop, organized by the diocese’s Catholic Charities agency, is open to any Haitians now living in the four western counties. “At this workshop there will be case workers available to assist people in...

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Hot Night at the City Council

Mayor Domenic Sarno may have created a new police review board last week, but that doesn’t mean the City Council is done with the matter. Tonight, the Council will consider a proposal by Councilor Jimmy Ferrera to create a Civilian Police Oversight Commission, similar to the old Police Commission, which was disbanded in 2004. The commission was eventually replaced with a civilian review board that had virtually no power. In the...

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Putnam Protest

The Sarno administration’s decision not to apply recently adopted pro-worker ordinances to the new Putnam High construction project is not sitting well with local labor groups and their supporters, who are planning a protest at City Hall on Friday. Last August, Sarno—surrounded by labor officials and city councilors—held a ceremony to sign into effect two new ordinances: the Responsible Employer Ordinance, which...

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Labor Ups and Downs

The Sarno administration has headed off a potentially ugly confrontation with local labor groups by reversing course and deciding to abide by city ordinances that favor local workers on the new Putnam High School project. Last August, Mayor Domenic Sarno touted two new ordinances passed by the City Council: the Responsible Employer Ordinance, which ensures that workers on public construction projects worth at least $250,000 are paid...

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A Sort of Resolution

Springfield social justice activists will hold a “Stand Out Against Police Brutality” on Thursday, Feb. 18, from 2 to 3 p.m. outside the city bus station at 1776 Main St. Participants will call for city officials to create an effective and accountable civilian police review board. The rally, of course, comes in the wake of the latest high-profile case of alleged police brutality in the city, the Melvin Jones case, which...

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Follow the Money

Want to know what happens to the $19.50 of city taxes you pay for every $1,000 your property is worth? (Make that $39.25 per $1,000 if you’re a business owner.) Over the next couple of weeks, Springfield city officials will begin the process of putting together the municipal budget for the coming fiscal year. In a series of meetings starting today, city department heads will come before Mayor Domenic Sarno to make their cases...

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Clock Ticking at Stop & Shop

This weekend is do-or-die time for Stop & Shop and its employees to hash out a new contract—or see its workers hit the picket line. Last weekend, the supermarket’s union employees (about 45,000 in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut) authorized a strike, but also agreed to go back to the bargaining table, with a Feb. 28 deadline for a resolution. Reps from United Food and Commercial Workers (including, in the...

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Rooke Out of DA's Race

Tom Rooke was in the race early, announcing a year ago that he planned to run for Hampden County District Attorney regardless of whether incumbent Bill Bennett planned to stay in the race. But now Rooke has changed course, announcing that he’s decided to opt out of the race this November. “After much thought and consultation with family, close friends, colleagues and long time clients, I have decided to withdraw my name as...

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