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Fleming/My Turn: Don’t paint Issac Mass with partisan brush

There he goes again. Tom Swetland trying to make our local nonpartisan council race about partisan politics and not the issues that matter to Greenfield.

Mr. Swetland tries to scare Democrats, calling Isaac Mass a “Republican Operative.” Yes, Isaac is such an untrustworthy Republican that in 2012 our Democrat governor, Deval Patrick, appointed Mass to the State Ballot Commission. Before that in 2009, Mayor Christine Forgey, another Democrat, appointed Mass to the Greenfield License Commission. What do the people of Blue Mass Group have to say? In 2007, when the state GOP was trying to pass a resolution to oppose marriage equality, Blue Mass Group said, “Isaac Mass from Greenfield (was) another fair-minded person who stood up for the record and asked that he be counted as a ‘no!’”

The truth is, Isaac Mass has a long and distinguished record of working across party lines on a broad number of issues. In fact, Mass voted with Mark Wisnewski to place the open public forum at the beginning of council meetings, when many other Democrats voted no. Mass has been critical of letting unelected, unappointed citizens with a clear special interest and no wetlands expertise have a special role in writing our wetlands ordinance.

To be clear, when Isaac Mass chaired joint public hearings of the Economic Development Committee and Planning Board, Al Norman and everyone else had unlimited time to present their views. What Mass didn’t do is have special meetings for special interests.

Swetland suggests that electing Mass will mean that our council will waste time dealing with silly arguments over meaningless laws like bans on Sharia law and supporting intelligent design. What a ridiculous idea! Isaac Mass spent four previous terms on the Town Council and never introduced anything like that. In fact, this is a little bit of the pot calling the kettle black.

It was Wisnewski who said one of his priorities for a new term on the council would be passing a ban on plastic bags. Talk about a waste of time. Mark also said his priority was increasing wetlands protections, right before he forwarded Norman’s rewrite to the Appointment and Ordinances Committee.

Swetland suggests that because Mass was not at a nurses union celebration, he wants to take away collective bargaining rights of municipal employees. What a joke! Mass has a great record on supporting local union employees. He voted for every effort to keep the Verizon call center and good jobs in Greenfield including appropriating funds for the employee parking lot. And for a while it worked, but eventually they left. By contrast, the current council has done nothing more than talk when it comes to the WMECO employees or the nurses. When it comes to words, local employees support Mass. Mass had both the mayor and the Peter McIver, president of the Greenfield firefighters union, speak at his kick-off. In fact, Mass’ last council campaign chair was a union leader with the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Worker’s and Grain Millers International Local 50.

One thing Swetland is right on, is that Isaac Mass wants to fight crime and poverty. This is an area that Isaac knows something about.

He grew up in the Oak Courts housing projects and worked his way through school by serving his county as an infantryman in the Massachusetts National Guard. He gave up his seat on the old Town Council when he deployed to Bosnia on a peacekeeping mission in September 2001. When Isaac Mass came back, he joined myself and others in forming Citizens for Growth, a grassroots effort to bring economic development and jobs to Greenfield. He put his rhetoric into action chairing the Council’s Economic Development Committee which shepherded through several rezoning efforts small and large. The current council is trying to undermine that entire effort by rejecting and attempting to intimidate appointees to the Planning Board, Conservation Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals.

When the current council rejected Issac from the Planning Board, he stood there and answered every question they had. He proved he knew more than most of them. He wasn’t extreme, partisan or ideological in any way. He even talked about the public comments of a woman who begged the council to do something about the heroin crises in Greenfield. That was back in October, now seven months later the council has not held a single meeting on the opiate epidemic. They have not questioned the Public Safety Commission or the Board of Health about what the council can do to give them the tools they need. Instead, the Council spends time talking about having the health department tackle focus on e-cigarettes and police officers focus on the time of day we start our snow blowers.

This election is not about party affiliation, it’s about our priorities for Greenfield’s future.

Ed Fleming is a Greenfield resident.

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