Because of this article in the Telegram. It's entitled "Donnelly targets Wong’s stands." That's actually not a very accurate headline, but whatever.
Here's the gist:
E. Thomas Donnelly, mayoral candidate and city councilor, yesterday criticized his opponent, Lisa A. Wong, for her past leadership of the Fitchburg Redevelopment Authority.Well okay... that's really dull.
“She is not the wonder woman she claims to be,” he said last night.
According to Mr. Donnelly, financial statements and audit reports from the Fitchburg Redevelopment Authority since 2004 show an over-reliance on grants to pay operational expenses of the approximately $3.2 million nonprofit agency. Ms. Wong was head of the FRA from 2004 to 2006.
Mr. Donnelly also pointed to a $145,397 deficit reported by the Women’s Institute for Housing and Economic Development for 2006. Ms. Wong was head of that agency from 2006 to 2007. Mr. Donnelly also said Ms. Wong’s claim to have managed a $75 million budget is exaggerated, because both agencies had a combined budget of $4 million.
Seems that Donnelly is basically saying two things:
- Wong was good at getting grants, which is for some reason a bad thing.
- Wong exaggerated about her experience with big budgets.
Wong's response went like so:
Ms. Wong said that while she was head of the FRA she knew that a tenant who had been storing steel at Putnam Place, which the agency owns, was planning to relocate in 2006. She said in anticipation of the decrease in rent, she applied for and received a $1 million grant.Then about the budget shortfall at the Women's Institute:
In addition to successful grant applications, Ms. Wong said, the FRA had a surplus of $1.2 million in 2006, despite the decreased rent and increased tax bills and utilities. She said the agency renegotiated leases and stopped contracting out for marketing services.
“The agency was without an executive director for about a year. When I came in May, there was not enough time to pull the annual fundraiser together,” Ms. Wong said. “Money had already been lost. Lots of things were not being attended to. I responded quickly. There is a benefit to having experience in this field. It’s not a one-to-one, but it relates to how I would run the city of Fitchburg.”And moving on, about the $75 million thing:
She said that although the agencies she directed had combined budgets of $4.7 million, the projects she managed had budgets that added up to about $75 million.Okay, am I alone in not particularly seeing a problem here? Those seem like pretty decent responses.
Maybe I'm missing something. I've never claimed to be a financial genius, but these seem like things that actually make Wong look pretty good and Donnelly look like he's either desperately digging for dirt or is just focusing on numbers and ignoring context. Which is sort of the same thing.
I mean, seriously who cares that she used grants to cover the expenses at Putnam Place? Is that like something that shouldn't be done? It clearly worked in this situation, and Wong isn't saying that the city has to run on grants. Actually, she says this:
Ms. Wong responded by saying that she never claimed that a city could run on grants. She said she went after grants, project revenue, and loans to finance the FRA. The competitive grants had to be backed by matching funds and a viable project proposal, she said.... which seems pretty reasonable to me.
So to be honest, I can't be bothered to give a shit about this particular non-issue.
Except for a couple things. First, there was this blog post by Donnelly from August 28th that said:
I choose to campaign in a positive manner, discussing the issues that Fitchburg faces, and focusing on the good things about Fitchburg. I have not and will not will use tactics of division and negativity.What happened, Tom? Up until now, the race has been positive. But this is pretty clearly negative campaigning. Did positivity lose its appeal after Wong ran away with the primary or what?
I've said before that the only thing that can turn the race around for Donnelly is some major bombshell. But seriously, out of context financial reports? That's not a bombshell. Hell, I'm someone who follows the race quite closely and even I can't be bothered to care. Financial reports aren't a bombshell unless Wong was secretly a war profiteer or something.
Jason at Save Fitchburg noticed a similar reaction among his readers:
Based on early comments here, reaction is along party (or candidate) lines. Wong supporters think it's another example of Donnelly being an old-school bully. Donnelly supporters think it's about time Wong got hers for not exactly being honest about her work experience.In other words, people who already support Donnelly will use this as more justification for supporting Donnelly. People who already support Wong will use it as more justification for supporting Wong. I expect that people who haven't picked a side yet will say "Financial reports? Boring!" and just ignore it.
Which sort of suggests it's not going to change things one bit. Which makes it even more boring!
It does indicate that Donnelly is getting desperate, though. Besides the negative campaigning, he hasn't changed his message one bit. I don't know why, maybe he just doesn't have anything else to run on.
That message is really his biggest problem. He still hammers on "experience" in the article, and the dull financial stuff is an attempt to make Wong appear inexperienced in handling budgets (though it sort of fails to do that). Going on and on about his experience hasn't worked thus far, and I sort of doubt it's going to start working now.
It is a bit disheartening to see things turn negative in the Donnelly camp though. Hopefully Wong won't fall into the same pattern. She's avoided negativity pretty well to this point.
Also, you know what would be great? If newspapers would actually analyze the data they're given and just tell us who the fuck is right! This is a pretty simple thing with facts and figures that can be examined, but we still get a dumb "he-said, she-said" story. Are there no fact-checkers working at newspapers anymore?
Anyway, get upset if you want. I find the whole thing totally dull.