In the 24 years I’ve been writing columns about Fall River politics, and I’ve been the only one doing that, 10 acres of the rainforest have been deforested to provide me with coffee, hundreds of pounds of tobacco have been grown, processed, packaged and shipped. The hills and hollers of Kentucky have sent me their assistance in the form of whiskey. During the Flanagan recall, the Guinness brewery hired three additional Irish guys to keep the stout coming to Fall River. I’ve worn out at least 10 computer keyboards.
Words, I’ve written millions of words, ruined my digestion, grown cynical at the cyclical nature of it all, and continued to write checks for excise tax, property tax, rainwater tax, a new high school, water bills, and any other scheme that could be used to harpoon my skinny bankroll.
City services remain roughly the same in quality, leadership gets worse, and the price of it all keeps increasing.
Remember four, maybe five elections ago, when all anybody wanted to talk about was “change?” Yeah. That was before we reelected Leo Pelletier, before we gave Cathy Ann Viveiros a seemingly lifetime job, before we planted two patches of skinny weeds on Purchase Street and called it a “streetscape.” Is the streetscape in the Arts Overlay District or the Downtown Revitalization Area?
How much did the streetscape cost again? Too bad no one is paying attention to it now. The out-of-town television trucks only come here for more news about the criminal case of beloved Fall River Mayor “Jailhouse” Jasiel Correia. Reporters who can’t even pronounce “Correia” are crawling all over the city, and they don’t give a damn about your neighborhood association, or your neighborhood cleanup. In fact, those things NEED to be left out of all stories about Fall River because they cloud the perception of us a city of 88,000 rubes who keep electing possible criminals to office.
The only way to pretend there’s a future in Fall River is to forget the past so you won’t recognize that the future greatly resembles the past, except there are fewer factory jobs you can keep for 30 years.
Now, of course, because the signatures are in, we’re all set to replay the recall of disgraced former Mayor Will Flanagan, who got canned over purple bags, although the people trying to recall him had the good sense to dress up the recall with talk of corruption and pistols in the night.
As of this minute, the two biggest stories to come out of Fall River in the last five years are the recall of Flanagan and the indictment of Correia. It used to be that Fall River’s most famous embarrassment was possible ax killer Lizzie Borden, but in a city where people beat each other to death with hammers, Lizzie doesn’t make the cut anymore.
Go to the Children’s Christmas Parade this year. It’s a great parade, and it’s sincere as hell, and a lot of people work very hard to get Santa and the elves out on such a cold day.
Count the out-of-town reporters at the parade. The next day, check the Boston papers for stories about the parade.
Zero. Nada. As in “Who cares?”
This is who we are now. Any fair-minded reporter could accept Flanagan as a fluke, but when this happens twice in four years, no one thinks it’s an accident.
Oh yeah. We re-branded hell out of Fall River, and it wasn’t an improvement.
In the rain or the snow or the “wintry mix,” when the “Make It Here” banners flutter limply from the telephone poles, emblazoned with the names of suckers and suck-ups, on those cold days, we huddle in our houses and try to pretend we didn’t vote for Jailhouse Jasiel.
But no one believes us. You can’t get elected if no one votes for you. We bought this guy, and now we have to pay. It’s like buying furniture on the “no payments for six months” plan. There will come a day when you get the first bill, and there is no excuse good enough to get you out of paying.
As the crowd around Jasiel thins, the remaining few loyalists will become more hysterical on Facebook, nastier in the tumors they spread.
Call the guys at the Guinness brewery. I’m gonna be here for a while.