Fall River is a city down on its luck and looks to be for some time to come. The main culprit? Lethargy. Too many Fall River residents have been disengaged for far too long and the current crisis playing out in a federal courthouse is a direct result of that.

Two of Fall River's last three mayors have been recalled. Will Flanagan was the first to go when ironically the second of the recalled mayors, Jasiel Correia, accused Flanagan of pulling a gun on him. Though Correia was recalled, he was re-elected on the same ballot. How is that for a citizenry still trying to figure out which end is up?

Smack dab between Flanagan and Correia was Sam Sutter. Sutter, who appeared as interested in being Mayor of Fall River as I am, served only nine months before being ousted by Correia.

Correia has been arrested and led away in handcuffs on federal corruption charges twice in less than a year. Yet he smiles and reassures the masses that he is the victim and can still manage the city's affairs. Correia faces two challengers in the September 17 preliminary election and it would not shock me in the least if he advances to the final ballot.

Fall River is a strange place politically. Those who do vote return the same old tired has-beens to office term after term, hoping that this time it will be different. Even when someone has been given the boot, they find a way to come back. Fall River is a place where a chow mein sandwich or a catchy little advertising jingle can win an election. Its all about who you know and not what you know in Fall River politics.

Fall River has a dark and seamy side where men with money often call the shots and influence the outcomes. It's an old school brand of politics that often conflicts with what is best for the city and its people.

Former Mayor Bob Correia tells me it could be decades before Fall River recovers from all of the damage caused by the political scandals. Correia says the people share the blame for not making better political choices, and he is right.

Fall River has so much to offer and has actually made some very positive steps forward, only to be buried again by political scandal. The people of Fall River have to take charge of the city's destiny once more and the only way to do that is to become engaged.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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