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Opinion Letter: The Diman dilemma, Fall River investors, Jasiel Correia, and the new Durfee

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There is at least one thing we, the taxpayers of Fall River, can be certain of, and that is that Mayor Coogan is hell-bent on getting the Rt.79 area and its hundreds of acres in prime real estate promised to as many politically connected “friends” as possible before he rides off into the sunset. The latest home run was struck by a Boston area Eastern Bloc immigrant who hired none other than the Ken Fiola show to “smooth the way” with and through the permitting process. (Nothing to see here folks)! His “State of the City” address to every liberal money-spender he could entertain in one setting was educational, if not entertaining. An old and trusted friend once told me to “believe none of what you hear and about 1/2 of what you see”. That advice has never been more prudent than right now. I did notice that he actually managed to mention the Pleasant street area once, WOW! He also mentioned well heeled “investors” coming in to buy as much distressed property as possible for pennies on the dollar. What he won’t tell you is that, until the generously granted TIF’s dolled out to these “investors” actually mature, the city won’t realize any added tax revenue. In fact, these sweetheart deals actually cost us all more in municipal services. (An empty building doesn’t use ten thousand gallons of water a week) His ongoing feud with our actual governing body, the City Council, doesn’t appear to be settling any time soon, (even with a couple of Cooganites), despite shedding one of the few councilors with the wherewithal to call him out and offer a comprehensive plan to reign in expenses.

Fall River’s present, past, and future touched on in Mayor Coogan’s State of the City Address

A brief history lesson… approximately six years ago, I can recall a hastily cobbled press announcement made by our very own thief-in-charge, JCII, along with a plethora of his closest department heads standing behind him, (including school committeeman P.E.Coogan), touting the necessity of a “tax exclusion” (AKA override vote), to fund the desperately needed Durfee II replacement. This was not because it was obsolete or undersized, (like Diman), but because of criminally poor facilities management. From its poor construction and maintenance, (or lack thereof), paired with the ignorance of resources required to care for such a facility, the result was the building being total trash in under 30 years. (Fasten your seatbelts folks, as we’re likely to see it again in Durfee III). The fact that that vote succeeded despite it being fundamentally flawed, (only 16.6% registered voter turnout and a city charter requiring a minimum of 20% to pass), the override somehow passed, and here we are about to be saddled with that bill to the tune of $115.00 tax levy per property owner beginning in tax year 2023 and lasting 30 years. We’ll start seeing that levy in the first 2023 bills due in November. Not to worry though, as JCII, Mr. “I’m too important and pretty to go to jail”, did proclaim in that presser, that the city “should” be able to absorb the yearly obligation in its budget in 7-10 years, but if you really believe that, I’ve got some very nice property in the Everglades you might be interested in. It is a bit spongy, but… Now, the dilemma…

Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School, the current building having opened its doors In September of 1968, and which has facilitated the technical education of many thousands of well trained artisans in its history, is in dire need of a replacement. Not because the current building has been abused or neglected like Durfee II, but a building that is seriously worn from fifty plus years of productive use. The current building is bursting at the seams due to the very nature of the great work that has placed it among the very best Voc-tech schools in the country. Many say we can’t afford this, but the hard truth is we can’t afford to NOT do this!

Enter Mayor Coogan, a guy who can’t say no to filling a $100K+ Municipal position with a political ally, friend or family member, as well as padding his own golden parachute, and who is fundamentally unable to make the hard decisions or adjustments necessary, will not allow the building process to proceed without a special election, likely to cost $50-$60K. This serves no purpose but to short-circuit a process in which many thousands of hours were invested by dozens of dedicated volunteers, administrators and professionals.

THE FACT THAT HE IS INCAPABLE OF RECOGNIZING THAT THE CITY BALANCE SHEETS NEED TO BE RECONCILED TO EXPOSE THE BLATANT WASTE, FRAUD AND/OR THEFT/MISUSE OF DAY-TO-DAY OPERATING FUNDS IS PRETTY OBVIOUS TO THOSE OF US WHO’VE PAID OUR OWN TAX BILLS YEAR IN AND OUT!

I’ve got a great idea Mr. Mayor! Though I can’t imagine how hard it must be for a guy who has been nursing from the municipal teat his entire life, JUST SAY NO to Fiola and the many politically connected clingons. How about setting aside a chunk of that ARPA money, so as to apply to the hundreds of actual city owner occupied multi-family dwellings for upgrades and general help. Just the millions in administrative fees that will be (dare I say wasted?) on the Fiola show and its Jobs for Fall River would be a good start! This in turn, might just give a modicum relief to the people who actually pay your salary, and help pay for all these nasty little things like the QUALITY education of the city’s youth. This also might very well allow some of the thousands of tenants, now being priced out of their apartments, to possibly help in being able to pay their rents. If this isn’t infrastructure, I’m at a loss to know what is.

M.R. Napert
Fall River

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