This was a week of transitions as a series of unrelated events, from the governor’s decision not to run again to farewells for two local leaders and a friend of mine from the hospital, coincided with the first week after Labor Day.
The headline event was the announcement by Gov. Chafee that he would not seek re-election in 2014. The lifelong politician would make his first term as governor his last for a variety of reasons, including his lagging job approval rating and his sense that the job just carried too much “irrational negativity.” That sounds more like a thin-skinned politician, though as someone who finds himself in the middle of local controversies — on a much smaller level than a statewide politician — I understand well the concept of “making all of the people mad some of the time.”
On a more local level, Westerly Public Library Executive Director Kathryn Taylor was honored with a farewell reception at the library Wednesday after 15 years at the helm. Taylor initiated a major renovation of the facility and a sprucing up of the park that has left both in far better shape than when she arrived, thanks to the generosity of the community and the leaders of the $8 million capital campaign that made it all possible.
Across town on Wednesday, there was a gathering for former Westerly Town Manager Steven Hartford, who resigned last month after learning he no longer had the support of the full Town Council. The informal get-together was held at the unofficial Town Hall — Seaside Beach Club. It was a bipartisan gathering that took place on Atlantic Avenue, an area of town Hartford called home during the Superstorm Sandy recovery. Many from both parties lamented Hartford’s departure and how it came to be. We took him to task on occasion, but for the most part we felt he served the town just fine, from the Great Flood of 2010 to Sandy and all the routine storms in between, as well as the more mundane issues.
And last, but far from least, there was a reception Thursday at the Westerly Yacht Club for a friend of mine who was in the most recent batch of those “let go” from The Westerly Hospital. Tony Trombino endeared himself to doctors, staff and administrators in his many roles at the hospital during a long tenure there, the last as physician liaison. In that role, he had to keep the docs smiling as the hospital introduced new technology and new processes — not an easy task with the “walk-on-water” crowd. But Tony routinely went above and beyond to keep both sides happy. As I caught up with old friends, I cautiously asked, “Are you still there?” I joked that I was in the class of ’07 and others chimed in with their year of dismissal. A bunch of us who worked in the same department posed for a group photo. Most were in one of those classes.
During a brief chat as I was leaving, one of the leaders of the hospital’s recent transition to L+M Hospital ownership talked about the changes he’d witnessed in the industry and at Wells Street. I shared similar observations about the industry. We agreed that the failure to adjust to the broader changes in our separate atmospheres was not an option.
It seems that in this new economy, change is the only constant. There’s been lots of it in Westerly recently, and we’re left waiting to see what it all means.