The living rooms of Fall River are full of people (not all of them old), who can tell you what it means to be “Fall River fired.”
Here are the steps to getting Fall River fired.
1. The boss tells you and the other workers that the annual two-week shutdown is here.
2. You go to Portugal on vacation.
3. Your cousin calls you from Fall River and tells you there’s a padlock on the door of the place where you used to work.
The steps after Number 3 can include foreclosure, re-training in something you don’t want to do for a living, a visit to the city by a “jobs task force,” an alcohol problem, divorce, and English as a Second Language classes. What makes the whole thing grimly funny is that the English as a Second Language teachers, and the members of the jobs task force all make more money than you ever did, as do the politicians who come to town and make speeches about how sad they are that you lost your job. There’s an excellent chance that none of those people live next door to you on Peckham Street.
Fall River has had years to get used to the lay-off, the forced overtime, the sudden pay cuts, the unpredictable business closings, and the lies of the boss who tells you that your job will be here when you get back from Portugal.
To make it worse, what passes for our city government has adopted the morals and ways of the boss, of the impersonal corporation, of the job that pays you or doesn’t pay you on a whim.
Witness the recent canning of Thomas Aubin, superintendent-director of Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School. Aubin wasn’t in Portugal when it happened, but the whole thing stinks of “Fall River fired.”
Reasons why Aubin’s contract won’t be renewed?
Zero. Zip. Zilch. None. Nada.
Hoo boy, does that sound familiar on Earle Street, a street in the Flint where “Fall River fired” is a lot more than this columnist’s wise-ass way of describing yet another Fall River behind the scenes power play.
Compared to the Diman School Committee, the Redevelopment Authority was lucky. When they handed Ken Fiola a sandwich wrapped in a road map, he was away on vacation. Fall River government doesn’t like to stab people in the front.
Diman School Committee Chairman Paul Jennings, who’d prefer it if parents of kids at Diman knew nothing at all, did hand out a “prepared statement” before he drove back to Westport.
It was a beautiful statement, packed to the brim with phrases that belong in an employee handbook, including the dead giveaway phrase, “move us forward in dealing with the challenges before us,” a phrase so pregnant with lies that it probably gave birth during Jennings’ drive back to pleasantly rural Westport.
No one knows why Mayor Jasiel Correia’s landlord, one of his key supporters, booted him from his apartment over a barroom. No one knows what Ken Fiola would have said if he had been allowed to speak before the Redevelopment Authority. No one knows why Aubin got a hearty handshake and an eye full of spit.
Here are the three earmarks of a rigged Fall River governmental meeting.
1. The members of the board or committee run away as soon as the meeting ends.
2. Public input is neither encouraged nor permitted, and if it is, it’s not permitted for long.
3. The guy who gets fired doesn’t get to talk, or at least not too much.
The city of Fall River is packed with the descendants of people who left other countries to escape poverty and peasantry. Many of us have outrun poverty, but peasantry followed us over the ocean, and took root in the feudal neighborhoods surrounding Government Castle, I mean, Government Center. We still support our lords and masters, and we’re still not encouraged to ask questions.
To make up for our lack of knowledge, we make up insane conspiracy theories, we cherish rumors like they were valuable family heirlooms. We wouldn’t do those things if government gave us the truth in a reliable, perhaps even friendly, way.
The revolution has been postponed. Get back to work.