Newburyport, The Nick Cracknell Fiasco, What a Political Mess

Hanging around the Newburyport City Clerk’s office when John Moak was the City Clerk it seemed pretty obvious to me that there was absolutely no love lost on Mr. Moak’s part towards Nick Cracknell. And this was me, a very casual and infrequent visitor to Newburyport City Hall. So in 20/20, the word on the street way back in 2005 that Mr. Cracknell was “out,” looks like it was most probably on the money.

So, let’s suppose that all of this is true. Although it would have been no picnic in the park in the beginning, politically, it would have been much wiser to have made the decision to let Nick Cracknell go in January. (Tough but wise) That would have given time to look for a planning director to replace him (not that I think that Nick Cracknell is ever going to be replaceable.) And then ask or beg Mr. Cracknell to stay on if he could, to help the new planning director to begin to come up to speed. (It will take the new planning director 9 months to a year to begin to get a hang of all the things that are going on here, much less get a handle on all the players. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.)

Now Mr. Moak has had 3+ months of people lobbying, if not down right begging him publicly to keep Nick Cracknell on as Newburyport’s Planning Director. There has been a huge amount of pro-Nick Cracknell publicity, and if the plan, on whatever conscious or unconscious level, could have been to get rid of Nick Cracknell all along, then keeping him on for 4 months is a political disaster.

In the Newburyport Daily News, April11, 2006, Mr. Moak says, “There was a lack of respect on his (Cracknell’s) part.” Well ironically, because of the dismissal of Nick Cracknell 3+ months into John Moak’s term, there is now a lack of respect and for, and even worse, a lack of trust in John Moak as the Mayor of Newburyport, Massachusetts.

And my response to the fact that Mayor John Moak is not going to appoint a Planning Director for 3 months because “Under his union contract, Cracknell will receive three month’s severance pay. The city can’t afford to pay salary on top of severance” is:

A) Really, the City of Newburyport can’t afford not to have a Planning Director, unless of course the plan is to have developers and architects run the show–scary thought.

B) And I think that statement isn’t really about fiscal responsibility. Instead it feels as if it blames Nick Cracknell and the union for costing the city money–unwise.

Mayor Moak’s goals appear to be different from Mr. Cracknell’s. And if so, that seems pretty frightening for the future of Newburyport, Massachusetts.

So folks, if what I suspect is true, I think we better seriously think about coming together as a city and fighting for what we believe in, because it’s possible that we could be in for a very, very bad time.

Mary Eaton, Newburyport