Councilor David Flaherty's Ever Widening Credibility Gap


City Councilor David Flaherty's recent statements on the MassLive website cast doubt about his credibility.
City Councilor David Flaherty's recent statements on the MassLive website cast doubt about his credibility.
 
But then, in comments made on the MassLive website on Saturday, Flaherty had the gall to deflect his own incompetence by publicly attacking the mayor, calling him "really good at hiding things and deferring blame onto others." No other city councilor or public official is accusing the mayor of acting in bad faith or is leveling bizarre allegations of deceitfulness against him. In fact, Councilor John Beltrandi, who originally backed Flaherty's budget cuts with his vote on the finance committee, reversed course after hearing from the mayor at last week's meeting and voted to support the mayor's budget.
 
Then, in the same MassLive comment, Flaherty again exhibits his penchant for dreaming up plots against him when he alleged, with zero evidence, that Westfield's school administrators "ordered" school department personnel to attend the June 19th meeting. He also makes the laughable assertion that the Westfield Education Association, the organization that represents the teachers, did the same, as if the democratic institutions of unions were run like some kind of Stalinist dictatorship with the power to order members around like foot soldiers.
 
Flaherty's wildest claims, of course, have been about the city's long-term financial health. In a recent post on the Westfield MassLive forum, his preferred medium for publishing his missives, he said Westfield's finances "are a real mess" and that long-term, "we're now in the 'mathematically impossible' position."
 
Really? Not according to Moody's or S&P, two bond rating agencies that rate municipal bonds. According to them, Westfield's long term ratings are a very safe A1 and A+ respectively. That puts us in the "upper medium grade" investment, one step below "high grade." Do you know what the historical default rate on municipal bonds are with our rating? We looked it up. Just .23%. That means only about 1 in every 435 bonds with Westfield's rating ever default.
 
Is it possible that Flaherty has some kind of special knowledge and insight these rating agencies don't? What if, just maybe, he is right? So we recently asked Flaherty to produce a spreadsheet with all his data, calculations, and assumptions that could be verified by an independent expert. As we expected, he refused, insisting that we need to "do our own homework." Coming from a man who fancies himself as a champion of open information and the free exchange of ideas, this strikes us as more than just a little fishy.
 
And for all the drama over this year's budget and dire warnings by Flaherty unless we lop $1.5 million off the budget (he originally called for $2.2 million in cuts), it turns out our short-term Moody's rating is a MIG 1, the highest quality. Again, what makes Flaherty more qualified to determine the fiscal health of Westfield than these rating agencies?
 
So, in our view, it's extremely improbable Councilor Flaherty is right about the city's financial situation. Couple this with his long history of making other highly unsubstantiated claims, baseless accusations, and his constant reading of evil intentions into the harmless actions of others, a picture of a man who does not reason very well in the macroscopic plane of worldly matters starts to come into clear focus. We'll be uncovering more evidence of his inappropriate, counterproductive—and ultimately harmful—behavior patterns in the coming weeks and months as they come to light. Stay tuned.

Comments