WHAT HAPPENED AT CONSERVATION AND RECREATION ?

Carol Sanchez

^ what happened to Carol Sanchez ?

—- —- —- —-

Yesterday Carol Sanchez, a Framingham resident and CPA, resigned her position as Commissioner of the state’s Department of Parks and Recreation (DCR). She is the first significant Baker appointee to leave. What happened ?

No one whom I have access to is saying, but an incident during the summer may well have triggered alarms. There had been an awards ceremony at the Melnea Cass Rink on Martin Luther King Boulevard, with two former Olympics medalists feted. Governor Baker attended and spoke. So did Sanchez.

Unfortunately, not long after this event  there was an affair mishandled by hosts leading to guns drawn that put everyone at the Cass Arena in danger. The shooting appears to have been gang related, an ongoing public safety problem in the streets not too far South and West of the Cass complex.

The Cass is vitally important to one of Governor Baker’s best supporters in the Roxbury neighborhood; I am informed that several gang-affiliated kids participate in his highly regarded local sports initiative, with its headquarters only a few blocks south of the Cass facility. I am sure that this leader was not happy to see his reputation tainted, or that kids possibly known to him might have put the Cass at risk.

Might the mishandled rvdnt been his fault ? One very knowledgeable local activist asserts so.

Said activist asserts that the Governir’s state police detail were most upset by what transpired.

They cannot have been pleased to read Dianne Wilkerson’s long, fully detailed story, written at the time in an issue of the Blackstonian, about the shooting incident.

I have no knowledge what part if any this incident played in the resignation of Carol sanchez. Nor do i have any reason to disparage Sanchez’s resume. Friends who know her tell me that she is well regarded in Framingham for her CPA work. Nonetheless, looking at her resume, one sees much administrative experience but none of it in parks and recreation — wherein highly idiosyncratic issues rule unlike anything in the private sector corporate world in which Sanchez worked.

it was also noted, in media reports, that on her resignation day Sanchez’s CPA firm was advertised on line. Can she have been working as a CPA during state duty time ? I am reliably informed that this was not the case, that Sanchez dissolved her CPA partnership upon becoming DCR commissioner.

Baker’s administration doubtless wanted to place Hispanic people in authority positions, aware of the need to up its outreach to the state’s Latino communities. Toward that end the Sanchez resignation is a heavy blow. It must be made good. Nonetheless, the next DCR commissioner should be first of all a person highly regarded by the very dedicated circle of parks and recreation activists.

Anybody who knows Boston’s Franklin Park knows how large and committed is the number of abutting residents — and others — who care for the park and its uses. The new DCR commissioner should certainly be chosen from among persons recommened to Baker by activists of this sort — Franklin Park activists in particular. That means talking to Christine Poff and Corey Allen as well as activists living on the Jamaica Plain side of Franklin Park, where Baker in the 2014 election received barely 18 percent of the vote : hardly even a foothold. That needs to change, and the opportunity to change it is now.

The state’s other major parks have similar communities of activists who care deeply about conservation and park use, park safety, and park ceremonies. One thinks of Quabbin as well as Franklin Park. The Governor has hit home runs all over the place in his personnel elections. Time for him to hit another.

NOTE : I have updated thus article to correct Cass Arena errors.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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