In the ruins of chow-mein-sandwich-factory-work Fall River, between the Catholic School that’s been turned into apartments, and the corner market where your grandparents did business in Polish, there was a debate.
Five candidates, including our incumbent/indicted, turned out to not discuss the thing that cannot be really discussed, but can only be jabbed at vaguely.
Why did several thousand Fall River voters sign a recall petition?
Because Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia is doing his tap dance under the bright spotlight of 13 federal indictments. That’s been in all the papers, many of them in towns further away than Taunton.
Correia wouldn’t be running for office right now if it wasn’t for those 13 indictments. None of his challengers would be running if it wasn’t for those 13 indictments. You wouldn’t be voting without those 13 indictments. You’d still be paying for our purple trash bags if the federal cat hadn’t pounced in Fall River, normally the most ignored of the nation’s many mouse holes.
It may not be what you want, and it may not be what you believe, and it may not be what you want to believe, but those 13 indictments are driving Fall River.
We are no longer really in charge of our own fate. You can vote any way you want, but the federal government, and maybe a jury, will eventually decide if Jasiel Correia will continue to be mayor.
This may not be a bad thing, either. Considering Fall River’s recent mayoral history, maybe all of our decisions should be made by other people. Maybe smarter people from a better place would NEVER have elected either Correia or the slightly pudgy wannabe gangster Will Flanagan.
This is easier for Fall River than it might be for towns with more pride. We’re used to the state or the feds, or some vague “grant program” providing a big chunk of the money that runs the city. If it wasn’t for money we beg from various agencies, maybe 10,000 people would live in Fall River.
We have the EBT cards, and the heating assistance, and the grants for cops and firefighters. We have the projects, and granny lives in the high rise, and all we really want is more funding for methadone clinics and free school breakfast. Hell, keep the kids in school until 6 p.m., and feed ‘em free dinner!
You’d think that, given the generosity of the state and federal governments, we would be grateful enough to elect sensible people.
We are not.
And it’s getting worse. Used to be, you could count on a Fall River politician to be dopey, provincial, and crooked in a “hire my cousin” kind of way.
Now, our more embarrassing politicians are pointing guns at each other, and getting pinched by the feds for running internet scams and evading taxes. How long before one of them kills someone?
Probably a couple of years.
In the meantime, we have a city government driven by a federal investigation of the mayor. It really doesn’t matter how much Jasiel Correia moves the sand in the litter box, that cannot be covered.
And you, standing proudly in a city of recipients, with an overdose hovering in the air, you really have only one thing to decide, here in Fall River, a city whose worst decisions are forever funded by other people.
You have to decide if you want to keep a mayor who is under indictment by the federal government.
The yard signs don’t count. The fake profiles and rumors on Facebook don’t count.
You don’t even need to decide if Correia is guilty. That’s something else the federal government will do for Fall River.
You have to decide if you want to watch the mayor hammer out a plea bargain that includes the admission of guilt, or go to trial, and possibly go to jail. You may get to make that choice again in the fall, because Fall River is the state capital of undeserved loyalty.
Jail. Small word. Big implications.
If you vote to keep Jasiel Correia, his legal troubles belong to you. If you vote to get rid of Jasiel Correia, none of it is any of your business.