Gov. Patrick introduced a several part bill into the Massachusetts Legislature today on Springfield's behalf. If passed, two minor portions of the bill would create new financial officer positions for Springfield and set up a study commission to determine if the mayor's salary should be increased from $95,000.
The big news, however, would be the extension of Springfield's $52 million loan from from a five year payback to twelve years, and the extension of the mayor's term of office from two to four year.
The loan extension is good news. We need a balanced budget in Springfield but too many years of austerity in a row are bad for the city's spirit. We need a little wiggle room.
Changing the mayor's term to four years is a good idea, too, but I'm afraid that with the increasing dislike for Springfield's current mayor, Domenic Sarno, people might reject this idea out of hand. I know the law won't be retroactive, just kidding in the post's title, but again, people might subconsciously think of support for the proposal as as a vote of confidence in Sarno. The question would go on this year's ballot if passed by the legislature.
(I must say, how simple a change in charter becomes when the right political support is leveraged. Changing to ward representation took years of citizen effort.)
Think of yourself, starting a new job in top management. Is two years long enough to learn the job's fine point, keep a lot of balls in the air at one time, and achieve major accomplishments and reforms Would you want to be judged after two years-- actually, a year and a half, given someone will be running against you at least six months before your term is finished?
I'm not saying it's impossible to judge if someone is doing an appallingly bad job, but it's not always possible to judge is someone is going to do a good job in just two years. Let's hope Springfield voters can take this on with cool heads.