I'm doing something I've not done before really...puting a piece I wrote for the paper up here before it gets published next week. I've been tempted before to do something like this but have not done so out of some sort of sense of propriety – that I'm violating some sort of loyaty to the 'paper. But since these are now my words, then what the heck.
SPRINGFIELD – Mayor Domenic Sarno did something last week that few area mayors have done in recent memory: released a progress report of what his administration has done within its first 100 days.
The 100-day mark is something usually applied to presidents and governors and was popularized as a device to show progress by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the first three months of his administration at the depths of the Great Depression in 1932.
Sarno promised an open, inclusive and transparent administration and the report is undoubtedly part of his approach to governing. While Sarno did not inherit the financial turmoil that his predecessor Charles Ryan did, he did walk into unresolved situations such as the Merrill Lynch investment loss and the searches for a new police commissioner and a new school superintendent that demanded his immediate attention.
Sarno has kept on some key appointments from the Ryan Administration, including Chief Development Officer David Panagore, which has provided a needed continuity in government.
And, despite the demands of his new position, he hasn’t changed his personal style. Sarno seems to know many of the city’s 152,000 residents personally and always makes time to greet people with a handshake and frequently a nickname.
The long-time city councilor won the mayoral race in part for his promises to remove the trash collection fee and to put more police officers on the streets. These have yet to be fulfilled, but Sarno has made his mark already on the city.
Sarno’s success with the Finance Control Board – a group he openly criticized during his campaign – must remain for evaluation in the future, however so far at public meetings there appears to be a good working relationship.
Among his key accomplishments listed in the report were the appointment of a new police commissioner; the creation of a quality of life flex squad of the Springfield Police Department and a director of constituent services in his office; the start of a business retention program involving visits to Springfield businesses; a conference for developers to show the city’s potential; and the start of a search for a new school superintendent.
Sarno wrote, “For this Administration, there were no honeymoon days. Since day one, we have been working to advance the Springfield renaissance by employing resources to achieve public safety; revolutionize the school system and stimulate economic renewal to redefine Springfield as not only a city of potential but of greatness.
“While 100 days is a short span of time, this Administration has established a track record of success during this period and, I believe, laid the foundation for Springfield’s long term success.”
Job creation and new businesses are also listed in the report although some of these were started before Sarno took office. They include:
“• Opening of U.S. headquarters for European Green-industry Company Socaplast USA in the Solutia Business Park in Indian Orchard; 15 jobs and over $3 million in investments
• Grand opening of Onyx Fusion Bar & Restaurant at River’s Landing
• Grand opening of a second Samuel’s Sports Bar & Tavern on the Riverfront
• Grand opening of Abuduanza Restaurant at Springfield “X”
• Announcement by Liberty Mutual to open a customer service call center at the Springfield Technical Community College Technology Park; more than 300 jobs”
The reports also lists Sarno’s present projects:
“Mayor Sarno continues conversations aimed at a much greater utilization of arts and culture as a revenue generating mechanism for the City. The Mayor has initiated conversation toward enhancing the Springfield ‘Sister City’ program as such a tool. Under the program, Springfield would operate an International Cultural Trades and Tourism hub to generate cross promotion and product sales between Springfield and our European and Asian sister cities. The Mayor has identified Old First Church as a possible location to house the program, which would involve promotion of ethnic and neighborhood festivals in the downtown area.
“The Mayor is pursuing a regional TIF concept with neighboring East Longmeadow. The aim is to keep and expand jobs for Springfield residents at companies such as Hasbro and Lenox.
“Mayor Sarno is vigorously involved in an effort to create a Springfield Court of Dreams, which is similar to Cooperstown’s Field of Dreams. The Springfield Court of Dreams involves attracting major, new private investment to the riverfront to fully exploit Springfield’s unique distinction as the Birthplace of Basketball.
“The Mayor continues urging the Legislature to provide some relief through a proposed extended payback of a $52 million state loan and is thankful to members of the local and state delegation for their dedicated work on this issue, with particular thanks Sen. Stephen J. Buoniconti and Speaker Pro Tempore Thomas M. Petrolati.
“The search for a new Chief Financial Officer is currently in the interview stage.
“Mayor Sarno continues to negotiate with members of the Finance Control Board, Department of Public Works, Department of Environmental Protection and others to eliminate or reduce the $90 annual trash fee implemented in July. The Mayor is focused on concepts that promote recycling and generate revenue.
“Considerations of the Mason Square Library continue under the Sarno Administration, with a decision from the Mayor expected in the very near future.
“Review and discussions regarding appointments to boards and commissions and heads of departments are in motion.
“The Mayor is in the initial stages of considering a drug prescription program within the GIC, which carries a potential cost savings of $2.5 to $4 million.
“Mayor Sarno continues to push the City’s 10-year plan to end homelessness and recently participated in a tri-county conference with Mayors Sullivan and Higgins.”
The full report can be read on-line at http://www.springfieldcityhall.com/COS/first-100-days.0.html.
©2008 by Gordon Michael Dobbs