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LETTER: Get out and vote, Cliff Ponte would be a wise choice for the 6th floor

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Though it cannot be argued that Mayor Coogan is a reasonably nice guy, running a $300M corporation like our city of 89000 people, does not require nice. It does require strategic planning, solid decision making, and a little backbone. Every now and again, perhaps a discussion with all department heads and the city council for their appropriate input, would be the right thing to do. A view from the outside however, shows that our current mayor isn’t able to check any of those boxes. As we approach an important election in our city, we should take this opportunity to move the city forward in a positive way.

After watching the debate, seeing him in the neighborhoods, speaking with him on several occasions and reading his basic strategy, I believe that Cliff Ponte is just what this city needs at this critical time.

As witness to the last several years of disjointed government, it’s time to take a hard look at what we have, and what might be possible. The empirical bias with which the Mayor makes every effort to be photographed in the general vicinity of any city improvement project currently underway, while convenient to his campaign, is also conveniently omitting the real issues that our city faces, and should be cause for concern. It should also be noted that the vast majority of these street and park “facelifts” had been in the planning stages far longer than he’s been on the 6th floor.

While it’s great that we might just see something/anything be made of the years of study, debate, false starts, inaction and waste at the infamous city pier, I doubt that it should be a priority right now. For the record, it should be an insult to the intelligence of any city property and/or business owner that only now, the summer of election year, we’re seeing so many projects, now in process, being claimed under his administration’s ”full time leadership”. That he and his handlers think the public can be hoodwinked into believing that this is all him, is appalling. It does however, fit in with his government by ambush history.

The city is understaffed in every critical department, and while the police department is using vehicles and equipment, in some cases, far beyond its safe or useful lifespan, the chief takes a $50K SUV home every night, why? Though the fire department has been the recent recipient of several millions in S.A.F.E.R. Grants, allowing for much of their equipment upgrades and is in better shape than most, that department is also understaffed and in need of a top to bottom realistic review and assessment. There’s a trash contract pending, and a DCM physical plant that is also quickly approaching critical mass, as well as other major municipal contracts coming due. These contracts should be scrutinized closely, and updated to reflect the realities of the 21st century. It’s high time that some of the perks utilized in the 80’s & 90’s to augment take home pay, (when there was no money), such as comp time and group 7 scheduling, be seen for the budget busting liabilities that they are. There’s little doubt that chronic understaffing and the resulting overtime, along with overall mis-management, are the primary culprits for the out-of-control overtime and other related expenses. Perhaps a businessman like Cliff Ponte, who has experience with a budget and strategic long term planning, would be a good choice over Mr. Coogan and his back room politics. Should he prevail in the final election, Mr Ponte should also be held accountable if, during his first hundred days, (or so), he fails to deliver something/anything, to get the city on the right track.

These are but a few of the very real challenges facing our next chief executive, and government by ambush is precisely what we don’t need. Good old boy back room politics, trickery while dealing with the city council, and the inability to act in the position of de facto school committee chair, is clear evidence of ineffective management. Failing to act in several recent embarrassing situations in the school, fire, and police departments, clearly shows Mr. Coogans lack of a clear mission and his inability to make a decision. This, in my opinion, doesn’t make Mr Coogan a bad Chief Executive, just an incredibly ineffective one.

I would implore all Fall Riverites to take a good look at our choices coming up in this months primary election on September 21, and general election on November 2. We will then have an opportunity to put someone other than the same old politicos in both the sixth floor, as well as the council chambers. Again, based on several factors, Cliff Ponte would be a wise choice for the 6th floor, and purging the council of longtime politicos who stay pretty well hidden, (save for election cycle) for a couple of new faces, would be the way to go.

M.R.Napert
Fall River, MA

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Don J

    September 13, 2021 at 6:42 pm

    This is a unfair article, its clearly bias, its all regurgitation of the past. Mr Ponte been in office for more than 6 years, everything following him has ended in division. His business is built off other peoples money, thats not a good business motto! You should not be able to voice your opinion that is one sided to try and sway voters. Your everything wrong with the news media!

    • Ken Paiva

      September 13, 2021 at 6:53 pm

      This isn’t an article. It is a letter from someone outside of Fall River Reporter. That is why the title says letter and it is labeled editorial and opinion. You are free to write one yourself.

    • Scott Steele

      September 14, 2021 at 10:54 am

      Is there any business that’s not built on other people’s money? isn’t that how you create a business? You offer a product and others pay for it with their money, economics 101.
      Everyone keeps saying “well hes been there for 6 years” he’s also been part of a group of 9 and has no unilateral decision-making abilities on his own. he can only vote the way he feels best suits the city and hopes his fellow council members vote in favor as well. What has the Mayor, who can make decisions on his own, do for the past 2 years? so far this campaign season all we have heard him talk about is covid numbers, he helped hand out a few meals, and the letter cliff sent his business and employees. Not one accomplishment, not one plan, not one idea etc.

  2. MortisMaximus

    September 13, 2021 at 8:04 pm

    Stop telling us the government is understaffed, it is a complete lie. The government is more bloated in 2021 than at any time in it’s history. Privately owned businesses are understaffed because of government fiscal ineptness. Salaries and benefits for public workers are unparalleled anywhere. Fall River spends over 40 million dollars on healthcare alone. What monies are left for services and infrastructure are comical, hence the decay of Fall River. The solution to the current problems are not more employees. Increased taxes and fees are detrimental to any recovery. The City of Fall River needs to freeze any current or future increases on the taxpayers. CUTS need to take precedent and it requires sacrafice from top to bottom. Paid vacation time needs too be cut to a 2 week maximum. Overtime pay should be eliminated. Workers should expect to donate 10 free hours of work per week. Services like schooling should be more competitive and the underperformers should be eliminated not promoted. I am personally tired of subsidizing services for those who do not contribute. If I need a passport to show I am vaccinated, then you need a passport to show you pay into the system. If you don’t or haven’t paid in, then you go to the end of the line, whatever is left is yours. Cliff Ponte, please stick to your words and bring relief to the taxpayer. If you do as you say and what you know is right you will be a success and more importantly Fall River will be successful…

    • david

      September 15, 2021 at 1:45 am

      The mandate of any Fall River Mayor is to ensure the City does not turn into Brockton; and with Mount Hope Bay and a premier location on a highway axis, it should not.
      Yes, even the thinly staffed City hall is can be pared down and made more efficient. However, that is a drop in the bucket as compared to the obsence amount of money that is spent on the School department (even with state contribution). A horror show of bureacracy, bloated staff and salaries and of course …. complete non-achievment by the students. I hope Jasiel receives life in prison at his sentencing, not for his stupid bribe scheme but for pushing for the $300 million Durfee/Foxwoods/Mohegan Sun project on Elsbree Street.

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