In the Arena: Did Greenfield Mayor cave on ‘Safe City’ issue?


Thursday, July 27, 2017

When a public policy aggravates people on both sides of an issue, it usually winds up being right.

I’m not totally sure that’s the case with Greenfield Mayor Bill Martin’s recent declaration of Greenfield as a “Safe City,” for which His Honor has been taking some heat on social media from old guard supporters, who feel like the mayor caved to public pressure from progressive voters.

Said progressives, not typically big fans of His Honor to begin with, don’t feel the order goes far enough, and aren’t thrilled with its wording, which declares that no town employee will assist with federal deportation efforts of suspected undocumented immigrants “without the express consent of the mayor” — setting up the mayor as the de factor arbiter of whether illegals will or will not be rounded up in Greenfield.

Further muddying the waters is this week’s state Supreme Judicial Court decision, which says that Massachusetts police officers do not have the authority under state law to detain suspected illegal immigrants until the feds can pick them up. That would seem to answer a lot of questions regarding Massachusetts’ future as a “sanctuary state,” and would appear to render Martin’s order and a proposed town council Safe City ordinance moot.

It’s likely, however, that SJC decision will be come under legal challenge, and probably end up before the U.S. Supreme Court at some point, which means it will likely remain on the debating table in communities like Greenfield and others still struggling with this issue.

School Committee race update

Former Greenfield High School Principal Donna Woodcock is officially on the ballot for a two-year School Committee seat this fall, but it looks like she will have to earn it.

The Greenfield Town Clerk’s office reports that Woodcock and Susan Eckstrom have both returned papers for the two-year seat. There will be no race for the three, four-year seats, which will go to incumbents Don Alexander and Susan Hollins, and newcomer Katie Caron.

One of those seats belongs to Tim Farrell, who has to resign to take a position on the new GCET board of oversight.

Town Clerk Deb Tuttle says there will be a September primary because five candidates returned papers for Town Councilor At Large, assuming someone doesn’t decide to drop out between now and then.

Goodbye Skip Hammond

The never-ending line around the porch at Kostanski’s Funeral Home Monday only told a part of the story.

The community outpouring of support for the family of Edward “Skip” Hammond was nowhere near a fitting tribute for a man who gave so much of himself to his community during his 76 years on the planet.

You’d be hard pressed to find many people in this area who haven’t had their lives positively impacted by Skip, many without even knowing it.

If you were fortunate enough to take part in school trips or other activities which so often end up on the cutting room floor at budget time, there’s a good chance Skip’s firm, GBI Marketing, helped raise the money for it.

If you were a student looking for a musical instrument, chances are good you, like I, got that first trombone or starter drum kit from Gribbon’s Band Instruments, where Skip worked for many years before eventually taking it over.

If you were a businessperson just starting out — like Tim Farrell, Cameron Ward, D.J. Bobby C, and many others — you probably benefited from Skip’s wisdom, business acumen and good humor.

If you were one of those lucky enough to grow up in the mid-1980s and go to the After Hours Teen Center, Skip was one of the guys who helped get it off the ground and keep it going.

If you happen to have had the good fortune of attending Greenfield Community College, or bank at Greenfield Savings Bank, or benefited from the Rotary Club, are a fan of Greenfield Community Television, Skip played a big role in keeping all of those institutions solvent, often in less than ideal economic conditions.

And that’s not counting the thousands of his own dollars he very quietly donated to various causes over the years.

That brings me to perhaps the best part about Skip. Despite his obvious success, you’d never know the guy had two dimes to rub together. He was as approachable a person as you’d ever meet, which is probably why I’ve never heard a bad word about the guy, and why his loss is devastating to so many.

I’ve never been much of a drinker, but the next chance I get, I think I’m going to pop into a local watering hole, order up a Manhattan, and drink a toast to my good friend Skip Hammond.

I hope that, somewhere between here and there, he’ll be having one with me.

Chris Collins is the Franklin County News Bureau Chief for WHAI, WPVQ and WHMP Radio. He is a former staff reporter for The Recorder.