I live in Fall River, Massachusetts, a blood clot of abandoned mills and tenement houses. There are almost 90,000 people here, all of us living close to the highway that New Yorkers and Bostonians take to Cape Cod.
A former miracle of the Industrial Revolution, Fall River is known for its numerous derelict cotton mills, some of which have been made into apartments. Just as importantly, the skyline is studded with "high rises," tall buildings that house the elderly, the disabled and the addicted. The buildings are named after dead politicians who would have shoplifted gum. There's a waiting list to get in, too.
Fall River is the home of Lizzie Borden, a schnauzer-faced daughter of privilege who may have killed her parents with an ax. An increasingly ridiculous series of movies and television shows has been made about the incident.
Now, we make national news because our mayor, Jasiel Correia, currently awaiting trial, has been indicted by the federal government on 13 counts of wire fraud and tax evasion, all of them related to an internet company he owned.
And, we, 88,000 of the poorest people in the state, we blink at the coverage with the look of a cat who has been unexpectedly awakened by a loud noise.
We recalled the mayor, but our newly revamped city charter provides for a two-part recall ballot. The first part asks whether to recall the mayor. The second part is the election for his replacement. The recalled mayor is allowed to run on the second part of the ballot even if he loses the recall, which he did. About 60 percent of voters said they wanted Correia gone. On the second half of the ballot, Correia got around 34 percent of the votes, more than the other candidates, so he became mayor again. The matter is now before a judge.
In addition to writing this column, I've been a columnist in Fall River for 26 years, first for The Herald News, a newspaper, and now for Fall Reporter, an online news source. I was born in the city and, unlike the people who own the methadone clinics, I live in the city.
Fall River is being laughed at all over the state of Massachusetts, and Massachusetts jails its elected officials regularly. We're being giggled at by the more barefoot towns of Tennessee. Thanks to the quirkiness of the story, it's gone international, and even beer-bloated British soccer hooligans laugh at the poor, disenfranchised, forever seduced-and-abandoned children of Fall River.
Of course, what's happened in Fall River is what's happened all over the country. Dismal voter participation means that we have a class of "professional voters," and almost all of them are either elderly or crazy. There is no middle anymore.
In Fall River, the mayor's blinkered, fact-hating supporters blindly felt their way to the polls and cast a vote against reality, as did Trump supporters who wanted to stop Muslims from taking over their suburb's random collection of dollar stores, muffler shops and Burger Kings. There was no danger of that, but they wanted it stopped.
As it does in any discussion of Donald Trump, Fall River's Facebook pages sprouted passionate defenses of the mayor, many of the reading: "Your a moron, and news is suppose to be fair, but its bias. There not telling us the actual truth."
Like most people who live in and write about a smaller city, I am an enthusiast of local foods, the local accent, the look of our streets in the rain, the architecture of the city and the kind of politics polite people call "colorful."
Of course, I'm embarrassed now, and writing this, I feel like the American ambassador to any country with universal health care, and gun laws not based on Clint Eastwood movies.
To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, "The Land of Trumpin'," is a frolicsome discussion of American decline. It is available in paperback from Amazon.com, and for Nook, Kindle, iBooks and GooglePlay.