Inauspicious Start in Fall River?

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Anybody who has been holding on to the narrow rang of hope for Fall River — that the new, young mayor will luck into finding folks with have the experience to run a city and get out of their way — might have mixed reactions to this Fall River Herald editorial:

On Tuesday, Mayor-elect Jasiel Correia II made his first major announcement since his Nov. 3 election victory, offering a glimpse into the makeup of the incoming administration that takes power on Jan. 4. Correia named his 32-member advisory committee made up of six committees along with the announcement of four key appointments in the administration.

While the contributions of the advisory committee will likely be rather limited, Correia’s announcement does offer a peek into the priorities of the incoming administration as well as the people who the city’s youngest-ever mayor may seek guidance from over the next two years. With his relative inexperience, Correia will likely have to lean heavily on the expertise of his staff and transition team, so his key advisers matter.

On one hand, he’s surprised some supporters by keeping a few people in their jobs (for now) whom they might have thought he’d replace, including city administrator Cathy Ann Viveiros.  Whether they’re good at their jobs even the new mayor seems to have doubted when he was a candidate, but at least they’ve done it before.

On the other hand, a 32-person advisory committee leaves a lot of room for luck to play a role when it comes to whose voices dominate and what suggestions emerge.  Jockeying for influence has no doubt begun in earnest.

Most disconcerting, though, is Correia’s hiring of high-school pal Christopher Parayno to a $70,000 chief-of-staff job.  That act sends a message of corruption out of the gate (a message Correia trumpeted regarding the prior administration), but more importantly it does not send the message that he understands that his age is a legitimate concern for Fall River residents and those affected by the city’s management.

Fall River government contains the diversity of personalities likely to exist in any large organization, and people who work for it — many of them having spent years working through the ranks and justly proud of it — must at least respect the team at the top.  When both the mayor and his personnel filter are (let’s be concise) kids fresh out of school, that respect will be difficult to ensure.

It may not be visible, at least for a while, but such an environment will be fertile ground for subversive office politics and stress-tests of the mayor’s temperament.



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