Guest columnist Terence Murphy: Morse’s campaign literature hypocritical

Published: 7/31/2020 6:20:45 PM

I have received campaign literature from Mayor Alex Morse which I find to be filled with hypocrisy based on the facts.

The most hypocritical statement he makes is that as mayor he raised graduation rates by 47%. This is certainly a false statement. Since 2015, the city’s schools have been in receivership, and the mayor has had little influence.

Even prior to that, the mayor many times, if not a majority of the times, failed to even attend School Committee meetings, despite being chairman.

Second, he wants to take credit for reducing unemployment in half, but was this something he did as mayor, or was it the national trend? When he took office, Holyoke’s unemployment rate was 9.5% and as of Jan. 1 this year it was 5.0%. However, if you look at national trends, the unemployment rate in 2012 was 8.3%, and as of January of this year, it was reduced to 3.6%. Therefore, while Holyoke’s rate has indeed gone down by 47.36%, it is lower than the national average, which went down 56.62%.

The facts would seem to indicate that Holyoke’s employment rate has improved, but by less than the national average, so should we instead blame the mayor?

Third, the mayor gains some credit for transitioning Holyoke to more clean energy, but it was a trend begun before his tenure in office. While only 51% was clean energy in 1995, by 2002 that number was 64%, and 70% in 2012 the year the mayor took office.

It should also be noted that one of his energy initiatives, a moratorium on natural gas, will have an economic impact on energy consumption, now and in the future. Transferring to electric from natural gas will mean an additional expense three times more expensive. Electric rates for a million BTU’s is currently $39.26, while for the same consumption, natural gas is $12.52.

Lastly, the mayor criticizes Congressman Richard Neal for not holding any in-person town hall meetings. It is almost unethical for him to criticize anyone else for attendance at meetings, since his record has been exceptionally poor.

When the city had just gone through a difficult ballot question on a debt exclusion for schools, a community meeting was called for to discuss what should be done next. As the leader of the city, and with a chance to try to unite the city toward one vision, the mayor was again absent.

When we had two murders back to back in South Holyoke and Churchill, community meetings were called at both Lawrence and Morgan schools. Despite the anxiety in the city and especially in those neighborhoods, and again looking for leadership, the mayor again could not be bothered to attend.

Terence Murphy is Ward 2 City Councilor in Holyoke.

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