“Please, Sir, May I Have Some More?”
GRAVITAS . . . . Fair and Brutal Opinion (Trapped by Facts)
About Contributing Journalist Scott J. Graves in his own words
Scott J. Graves, Esq., B.S. Biology, M.S. Pharmacology, J.D. Law – Father, Born-and-Bred Gardnerien-American, Gardner Native of Acadien Heritage, Gardner High School Class of 1982, Gardner Citizen-Voter, Gardner Homeowner/Taxpayer, 30-year Gardner Business Owner, 30-year Gardner Lawyer, former 16-year Gardner City Councillor, former Gardner City Council President, and former Gardner City Solicitor and Head of the City of Gardner Law Department.
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This is my theory, and I’m sticking to it.
When Mayor Hawke won the 2019 election, he quit the next day.
Hawke said he had had it. We heard lame excuses: he was sick of Jim Walsh’s puppetmaster way of controlling 10/11 City Councillors, and Ron Cormier’s wishy-washy flip-flopping.
But what really bothered Hawke was the fear of not getting reelected. It’s the same fear all lifetime-on-the-public-dole politicians have. That fear is why they are all so feeble, feckless and inefficient.
As Hawke cried, “there is no job security, and I can’t collect Unemployment if I lose.”
So, Hawke “resigned” in 2020. But, Mark Hawke had a plan.
Usually, when you quit the Mayor’s position the day after the Citizens elected you like Hawke did, you are toast forevermore in that City as a public servant. Certainly, never again could Hawke put his name on a ballot.
But, Hawke had a plan.
First, Hawke’s Mass. Majority SuperPAC (which had just wasted $20,000 putting Hawke back in office) installed Hawke’s mentored-clone as Mayor.
This would keep Hawke’s seat warm for him when he returned.
That way there, the veneered clone would administer Hawke’s policies and remembrances – just as if Hawke had never left (wait . . . did he ever actually leave?). That way there, Hawke could return to power when the time was right, and not skip a beat.
When the Citizens fell back to sleep after about two minutes of recovering from the shock of having their Mayor quit on them the day after they elected him, Hawke slithered back into the City. He was installed by the Gardner Ruling Class Collective ever-so-inconspicuously. He is now once again on the Gardner City payroll roster (funded by the Gardner taxpayers).
Not too many Citizens know this. How would you? You didn’t get to vote on that.
For quitting on the Gardner Citizens the day after they elected him, Hawke was rewarded by the City Hall Ruling Class Collective (which includes, maybe especially, the School Committee and School Administration) with a better-paying, and more secure, job than he had as Mayor of Gardner. Nice gig.
Best of all for Hawke, this plan allowed Hawke to escape the wrath of the Gardner Citizens – who never got a say about it.
But that is only part of the plan.
Along with Hawke’s chosen successor/mentored-clone (Nicholson), Hawke and the City Hall Ruling Class Collective (with the help of the 11% of the registered voters in Gardner who actually get off their asses to vote) have arranged the political system in this City where we have a City Council which is one collective Rubber-Stamp.
No one disputes that the present City Council is as animated, as curious, as vociferous, and as thoughtful as, well, a rubber stamp (or a mushroom).
A dumb and feckless City Council is part of the plan. The City Council’s motto is a simple one: “What the Mayor Wants, the Mayor Gets,” followed by “did someone say ‘adjourn’?” That’s part of the plan. The plan could not work without an obsequious City Council.
Without an abiding and subservient City Council, Hawke/Nicholson can’t amend the City Charter – which would derail and destroy the plan.
So, the City Charter will be amended, it’s a fait accompli. Soon, the Gardner Citizens will have a City Manager instead of a Mayor. That’s my prediction, so don’t take it to the bank.
A few years back, Hawke and his lawyer, the City Solicitor, tried to amend our 100-year old City Charter so that Hawke could get some of that “job security” he so much longed for. So, he and his lawyer told the City Council that the Mayor’s term of office must be 4 years, instead of 2.
But, more importantly, Hawke was desperate for some unknown reason to control ALL the money coming into and vested in the City government. That is, for the City’s 100-year existence, the City Charter made it so that the City Council controlled that money – by placing the positions of City Auditor, City Treasurer, and City Tax Collector under the purview, the direction, the control, and the oversight of the City Council, not the Mayor. Hawke and his lawyer did not like that 100 year-old arrangement.
It’s a long story (which I am sure I will end up telling, again – later), but I’ll give you the spoiler alert: the Mayor and his lawyer failed – and the City Council voted against those changes because, well, they were and are ridiculous, absurd, and ludicrous.
What everyone forgets is this: we were only entertaining the idea of amending the City Charter under the guise of one reason: because it was old. Stupid reason to change something that worked efficiently and for all our purposes for 100 years? Yes. But, it is what it is.
Some cretins and back-benchers, striving to make it look like they actually have a thought process, thought it sounded good to say things like: “some portions of the Charter are antiquated,” or “some portions of the Charter are not in keeping with modern times and modern terminology,” and other hollow and unsupported platitudes like that.
Other geniuses were a bit more erudite, and claimed that some provisions were otherwise supplanted by or overruled by State Law. Those professors didn’t know, of course, that that simply means you just ignore the conflicting language in the Charter – State Law controls, automatically. That’s what we, and every other City with an older Charter, have always done over the decades up to now. An amendment is wholly unnecessary, and stupid.
So, there was nothing meaningful to amend in the City Charter. It was a chimera – so that the big baby, Mark Hawke, could get his way.
The entire process was a useless charade and song-and-dance – only so that Hawke could do the “bait-and-switch” on the City Council, get his minions on the Committee to see things his way, and obtain the only things he cared about: 1) “job security,” and 2) absolute power over the Citizens’ money.
The City Council ended up asking the City Solicitor to go through the entire City Charter, and pick it apart, piece by piece, in order to provide the City Council with every provision, clause, sentence, and word which conflicted with State Law or was otherwise legally untenable.
After that, the City Council then had to sift through the globs of the City Solicitor’s condescending, unctuous, and gratuitous policy opinions and political ideology. Get this: the City Solicitor’s theories and political ideology about how the City Charter should be amended aligned 100% with those of Hawke. Imagine that, what are the chances?
Anyway, the City Solicitor is not elected. Thus, his policy opinions and political ideology are irrelevant. Most of all, the City Council never asked him for them. It’s like ordering a ham and cheese grinder, and getting it back from the kitchen with gravy on it. But, the City Council scraped off the gravy – and voted to make the changes recommended by the Mayor’s lawyer.
But, Hawke didn’t like that – thereby exposing in broad daylight that he never had any intention of “cleaning up” the City Charter, or bringing its terminology and provisions into modernity. So, he refused to ratify the City Council’s amended City Charter – with all the recommendations from his lawyer adopted.
Hawke killed the whole thing because the City Council did not give him his “job security” (again, Hawke wanted his campaigns for reelection cut down in half), and because the City Council did not hand over to him the money-powers vested in the City Auditor, City Treasurer, and City Tax Collector.
Now, we have come full circle to that part of the plan we see unfurling before our eyes right now.
Now Playing: “The City Charter Amendment, Part Deux.”
With the “correct” City Council now in place, Hawke and his successor/clone will now be able to do what Hawke couldn’t do: get the Charter amended just as Hawke planned, and just as the City Hall Ruling Class Collective hegemony wants it.
James Walsh, Hawke’s old nemesis and enemy, has finally found something on which he does not agree with Nicholson. This is a youth-elderly dynamic, which explains this one deviation from the groupthink that Walsh has immersed himself in since Nicholson was installed in 2020.
Walsh has been neutralized on this issue. Unlike “The City Charter Amendment, Part Un,” there are no thinking adults in the room to aid Walsh’s traditional ideas and loyalty to historic Gardner governance, and his adherence and deference to the venerable and ultra-serviceable City Charter – the only City Charter Gardner has ever had. That alone, says Nicholson, is reason to ditch it.
Hawke can snicker, safely behind the scenes, while Walsh is left alone to mumble out some time-tested reasons for holding onto tradition, culture, and old Yankee self-government (unique in all the world as being legitimate only with “the consent of the governed”).
Nicholson’s City Council will now vote to amend the Charter so that Gardner will become what’s called a “Plan E” City. That’s my prediction.
That was part of the plan.
You guessed it – the Citizens get a City Manager as the Chief Administrative Officer instead of a Mayor, and the Citizens get conveniently cut out of the process – no elections, no voting. Very tidy. No ballots. No mess.
The plan continues.
As everyone knows, Nicholson is due to be moving on up to the East Side like George and Weezie Jefferson. That was part of the plan. Hawke’s still-warm seat will be all ready for Hawke to be Gardner’s City Manager. Mikey will take his impressive, and growing, resume – and do something more glamorous, for more money, for more power, for more visibility and for more self-promotion (if that’s possible, and we are sure that, for him, it is).
They won’t make it so obvious, though.
Nicholson will move into the role of City Manager (or Zlotnik will). Regardless, eventually, and soon, Hawke’s seat, which will have been loyally and dutifully kept warm for him all this time, will eventually be his again – only with the job security (no elections), and more money, and more power.
The City Manager position is job security on anabolic steroids – it’s almost impossible to remove a City Manager once he/she is installed. Also, all City departments (except Clerk) are controlled by the City Manager. Also, City Managers make big bucks. Boom. Drop the mic.
You ask: why did Hawke have to quit? Because under Mass. law, no elected City employee or official can become City Manager within two years of serving in that elected position. So, Hawke had to quit, and then wait two years.
Meanwhile, waiting out the two year exile sentence, Hawke knew that he had to be on the inside in order to become City Manager. Not only inside, but also in some high-end administrative position. As we all know, only insiders get promoted in Gardner.
The plan was brilliant. Full circle.
Hawke wins. As usual. And we don’t have a City Council that can do a thing about it.
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