Candidates for Political Office
Quickly Become Public Figures
By Edward Shanahan
Let’s hope that Northampton mayoral candidate Rick Feldman is more adept at public policy follow-through than he has been at communicating, at least in my limited non-contact with him.
Several weeks ago in quest of information about the troublesome and still puzzling failure of the 40-year-old Hampshire Community Action Commission (HCAC), I traveled to the HCAC offices to talk to Feldman, but he was not there.
Over the next several days, I left repeated messages with Feldman on his voice mail and also with an actual person at the agency. But the only response was overwhelming silence. Granted he was busy closing down this very important social service program, which largely served the area’s less well-off. Still, I thought he might have had a few minutes to go on the record for downstreet.net about the decline and fall of HCAC.
But I had moved on to other stories and he had too – announcing his candidacy for mayor almost as soon as the HCAC corpse was in the ground..
An Exchange of Views
Yet, I was still not prepared for the gracious and unsolicited note he sent me via e-mail on July 31. Partly by way of apology, Feldman wrote:
My response, the next day, Aug. 1 was thus:
Five weeks later, I still await Feldman’s suggestion for where we should have that meeting he proposed.
The perils candidates face
Speaking of mayoral candidates, I was reminded after a recent visit to Chicago of the defeat years ago of Mayor Jane Byrne because of her inability to get that city dug out and the streets cleared in the aftermath of a huge snowstorm. It is seemingly little matters like plowing snow from the streets that often determine an election outcome.
With that in mind, it could be that the future Mayor Clare Higgins will be determined as much by lingering public anger over the Warped Tour traffic disaster than all of the more important actions and municipal initiatives and improvements that have taken place on her watch.
Friends at the Fairgrounds?
As for the Warped Tour, one aspect of the it requires somewhat more attention – that is the arrogant response by Bruce R. Shallcross, general manager of the Three-County Fairgrounds, who declined to say how much money the Fair Association was paid to host the Warped tour. After all, it was all about money.
The financial affairs of the Fair Association apparently are none of the public’s business, unless, of course, the Fair wants City Council approval to carry simulcast off-track racing to bolster its wagering handle during fair week. Then, the Fair Association plays the unbecoming role of needy crybaby.
What kind of citizen/neighbor is the Fair, anyway? This is the same Fair Association that watched quietly on the sidelines for months and months this spring and summer as residents of Ward 3 and the Meadow area grappled with issues of zoning and development in that vulnerable section of the city.
And when all was said and done and agreement reached, the Fair boys and their lawyers and highly paid consultants swooped down well past the 11th hour with changes it favored for future development of Fair property. And lo and behold, the previous zoning agreement was reworked and the Fair’s secret plans sailed through.
It always appears that it’s a one-way street between the citizens of Northampton and the shadowy group of movers and shakers associated with the Fair. Inevitably, what’s good for the fair is said to be good for the city when often what’s bad for the fair might actually the best for the city.
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