The Honorable Domenic J. Sarno
Mayor, Springfield, Massachusetts
MESSAGE FROM THE MAYOR
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.
This Administration is appreciative of the broad-based support of the community and of the give-and-take relationship established with the Finance Control Board. There is a surge of energy pulsating through the City and its progress can largely be credited to the collaboration and shared goals of our many social service agencies, faith-based leaders, business leaders, grass roots organizations and philanthropists. I would also like to give thanks the committed personnel who work for the City.
Springfield is a great City with abundance to offer. Those of us who live work and play here already know this. As we continue moving toward economic vitality and a superior quality of life, I know that more business owners, educators, students and families looking for a new home will begin to ask the question: "Why not Springfield?"
PUBLIC SAFETY and QUALITY OF LIFE
Appointment of Police Commissioner
Despite a pool of 35 applicants from across the country, it was a hometown police officer and 35-year veteran of the Springfield Police Department whom the Finance Control Board appointed to the position of Police Commissioner. Sarno pledged his support of William Fitchet immediately following the announcement last year that former Police Commissioner Ed Flynn was vacating the post.
Quality of Life Flex Ordinance Squad
In a unique partnership between the Police Department and the Mayor’s Office, a squad of four officers has been launched to address issues related to Quality of Life ordinances. The Squad has activated a telephone hotline for such matters and has been well received by members of the business community and homeowners alike. The squad has responded to hundreds of complaints since it was mobilized in February.
Neighborhood Target Walks
The Mayor has assembled a team consisting of representatives from the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, Springfield Police Department, Mayoral Staff, and neighborhood residents to walk through targeted neighborhoods during weekends. These walks not only promote the Mayor’s accessibility but, moreover, they allow City officials to see and hear directly from neighbors about the blight, security and other issues that impact their quality of life.
In an unprecedented move, the Mayor’s office has taken a lead role in coordinating city-wide efforts to combat gang violence. The collaboration includes the Police Department, District Attorney's Office, Sheriff's Department, and School Department. The office has already held a gang awareness training program for local providers of youth services. Mayoral aide Darryl Moss, a gang intervention specialist, has spearheaded the effort.
The Mayor’s Office partnered with the Springfield Police Department in launching a safety seminar for fast-food delivery drivers following the murder of pizza deliverer Corey Lind. The offices also collaborated to organize an awareness and self-protection/anti-domestic violence program for women aged 17 and older who live, work and study in Springfield.
The boarding up of an abandoned home at 25 Chapel Street by the City a day after a serious assault had taken place surfaced as the Mayor’s initial project in his pledge to address quality of life issues. The abandoned home is now in receivership and the Mayor remains in conversation with the receiver regarding renovation and new ownership.
Created by the Sarno Administration, the position of director of constituent services has had a direct and positive impact on city residents. Director Tom Walsh has logged numerous complaints and partnered with appropriate city departments to investigate them on a case specific basis and work toward a resolution.
Thomas Walsh has received numerous telephone calls and letters from constituents and was the subject of a positive editorial in The Reminder praising his responsiveness to quality of life issues.
Sarno continues to call for an expansion of the Police Department with an eye toward funding to hire 50 new police officers. The Mayor’s vision for Springfield remains rooted in public safety.
The Mayor continues to support Commissioner Fitchet and his efforts to reinstate a policing strategy that divides the city into nine distinct sectors as opposed to the strategy enacted under the former commissioner, which divided the city into three policing areas.
The installation process of gun shot detection and surveillance camera technology continues apace.
Under Mayor Sarno the search for a new School Superintendent has begun. As Mayor and a member of the School Committee, Sarno has pledged his commitment to consider candidates who will bring a slate of non-traditional skills to the position. Candidates whose history includes successful and extraordinary leadership in areas outside of education will be considered alongside candidates whose background is rooted fully in education.
The City's 47 public schools will move toward a policy of school uniforms beginning in the 08-09 academic year as a result of a unanimous School Committee vote on April 10, 2008.
Mayor Sarno, on many occasions, has paid both impromptu and scheduled visits to the public schools in the City in an effort to see first hand the issues teachers, parents, students and principals handle on a daily basis.
A Task Force to review the city's middle schools targeted by the state is in the formation stage and the Mayor is committed to the evaluation of principals and the Val Ed process. He firmly believes and will continue to move forward under the belief that strong principals are the building blocks for well run schools.
Mayor Sarno is currently engaged in process of forming a steering committee to address a range of issues including universal pre-kindergarten in Springfield, expansion of adult education programs, training and workforce development programs. The Mayor will also address the need to incorporate "soft skill" lessons, such as citizenship, into curriculums.
Business Retention and Development
Mayor Sarno has implemented a program of weekly visits to local businesses to hear directly from business owners about the issues and concerns related to their location in Springfield. Already the mayor has visited such businesses as Northwestern Mutual, Comcast, Hampden Bank, Smith & Wesson, AG Milller and many others. Also, the Administration has implemented an unprecedented collaborative approach to meeting with prospective Springfield businesses. Executives meet not only with the Mayor but also with members of the Springfield Police Department and other economic development agencies, property owners and/or managers. The meetings take place either in the Mayor’s office or at a site along the route of a city tour. Business owners and executives have responded favorably to the streamlined, multi-pronged approach.
Developers Conference held at Basketball Hall of Fame
The former site of the York Street jail, 31 Elm Street, the Sovereign Bank building downtown and Smith & Wesson’s Industrial Park were among the development opportunities showcased to more than 100 developers earlier this month during the city’s first developer conference.
- 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
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.
City’s Recovery of $13 million from Merrill Lynch Investment
The $13.9 million investment of surplus municipal funds plunged to a value of about $1 million. The investment by Merrill Lynch was tied to the sub prime housing market and did not conform to state laws. Mayor Sarno called for a review of the issue by the State Auditor, Attorney General and Secretary of State. That investigation was ongoing when Merrill Lynch reached a settlement with the City during a meeting in Boston with Mayor Sarno and other City and Finance Control Board representatives on January 31.
Appointment of Chief Procurement Officer
Twenty-seven year City employee Maria C. Lopez- Santiago took over the position of chief procurement officer in February. Currently responsible for purchases involving all municipal departments and the public school system, Lopez- Santiago’s experience includes working as senior financial analyst and project director in the Finance Department.
Legislative Monthly Meetings
While these meetings have historically taken place in various locations from month to month, Mayor Sarno has directed that they now occur in his City Hall office. In another move to foster a “get it done” agenda, the Mayor has also moved developmental meetings regarding Union Station, the Riverfront, the State Street Corridor project, and more to his office. The Mayor is thankful to Congressman Richard E. Neal for his tireless efforts and dedication to these projects.
Approved by the Finance Control Board in March, the non-emergency 3-1-1 phone number is aimed at providing greater customer service to residents calling City Hall to inquire or register complaints regarding city services.
Heralded as one of the most progressive tools available to government managers today, the CITISTAT program began its operation in Springfield in January. The system serves as a transparent accountability and management tool allowing the Citistat staff, members of the Mayor’s Office and Finance Control Board to collect, analyze and use data in unprecedented ways. The implementation of CITISTAT has led to department performance improvements and a tangible measurement of progress within city government operations.
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.
Springfield Green Forum
Held at CityStage this month, the first annual Springfield Green Forum was attended by more than 100 professionals, mayors, students and environmentally-conscious persons from throughout the region and helped build upon Springfield’s burgeoning reputation as the region’s leading green city.
Renovations and upgrades to city and school facilities have already netted a $1.8 million savings with another $1.2 million projected. Mayor Sarno maintains weekly meetings with Patrick Sullivan to help direct and keep abreast of the city’s energy savings.
Mayor Sarno continues to pursue smart growth policies that encourage green design and sustainable development. He also stands firm in his commitment to designate a municipal official to coordinate and manage green initiatives.
Promising conversations with the University of Massachusetts regarding green initiatives continue.
"THE PEOPLE'S MAYOR"
This phrase has come to define Mayor Domenic J. Sarno. During his first 100 days, he has found time on a daily basis, to interact with the general public. Some of events representing the Mayor’s brand of congeniality and every-man appeal include his recent appearance as a guest waiter at Texas Roadhouse. The Mayor took orders and served food for two hours in an event aimed at raising funds for a playground at White Street School.
In early April, the Mayor initiated a short program at Central High School to honor to athletes there who were recipients of two prestigious national awards.
In addition, Mayor Sarno has received numerous awards and recognition since his inauguration in January from local cultural and social organizations.