Normally in this space, we have nothing but high praise for Gov. Charlie Baker and his administration.
Indeed, since taking office in 2015, he has proven to be an effective, entrepreneurial governor, a good friend to the business community (for the most part), and a great friend of Springfield and the surrounding region.
The governor is fond of saying — and we mean fond, because he tells this story every chance he gets — that, while Mayor Domenic Sarno didn’t support him in that 2014 race for governor, one of his first visits after winning that election was to Springfield City Hall to find out what he could do to help.
And help he has, on fronts ranging from economic development to workforce development; from promoting entrepreneurship (his administration is very fond of Valley Venture Mentors and its efforts, for example), to simply helping to promote this region and some of its businesses (he likes the Student Prince so much they named a burger after him).
And it’s not just Springfield. Last week, the governor and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito were both on hand to announce a $21 million award to Westfield State University to bring its Parenzo Hall into the 21st century and make it a true resource for the school and the region.
Albano’s appointment to the Board of Review … is a real slap in the face to everyone who has worked so hard to pull Springfield out of its decline. The governor, who may or may not have been directly involved in this appointment, probably doesn’t realize that, but he should understand that rewarding the former mayor — and that’s what he’s doing, make no mistake about it — represents really bad optics and equally bad policy.
Like we said, the governor has been a good friend to this region.
Which makes his administration’s recent appointment of former Springfield Mayor Michael Albano to a six-figure job as a member of the Board of Review at the Department of Unemployment Assistance a real head-scratcher.
Albano, as most everyone knows, was essentially the architect of Springfield’s precipitous decline into finance-control-board management more than a decade ago. His administration was defined by incompetence and corruption, with several of his appointees being sent to prison.
Springfield’s brand suffered a terrible hit, and it has taken years of hard work, considerable assistance from two governors (Deval Patrick being the other), and a good amount of luck in the form of MGM Springfield, CRRC, and other recent arrivals, to pull the city back from the depths and to a point where optimism prevails and the sky is the proverbial limit.
Albano’s appointment to the Board of Review won’t impact any of that, obviously, but it is a real slap in the face to everyone who has worked so hard to pull Springfield out of its decline. The governor, who may or may not have been directly involved in this appointment, probably doesn’t realize that, but he should understand that rewarding the former mayor — and that’s what he’s doing, make no mistake about it — represents really bad optics and equally bad policy.
We think it’s great that Albano wants to continue working and has been energetic in his pursuit of employment that will bolster the sizable pension he already receives. Indeed, he ran for sheriff of Hampden County, and thankfully lost, and has applied for a host of jobs, including director of the Cannabis Control Commission.
However, that doesn’t mean the governor and his staff have to skip over the dark paragraphs on Albano’s employment history and reward incompetence.
Overall, the governor just doesn’t seem to take appointments of this nature as seriously as he does other matters. Remember, soon after he was elected, he decided that the best, and apparently only, qualification needed to assume one of the jobs with the Mass. Office of Business Development was to be a Republican who fought hard but lost a race for the state Senate or House of Representatives.
He should take these matters more seriously. And that’s especially the case here.
Springfield would like to put Albano and his corruption-riddled administration behind it. This appointment certainly doesn’t help it do that.
When it comes to appointments like this, it’s not just whether a candidate is qualified that matters. Sometimes, there’s a message being sent when someone gets a job like this. In this case, it’s the wrong message.