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...and the house fire's red glare

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

There's a lot to touch on this week, so let's get going.

A few City Council elections ago, Tim Rooke was the only incumbent running who owned up to what he saw as a lack of due diligence on his part as a councilor during the Albano Administration.

In Springfield the City Council is supposed to provide the checks and balances to the mayor's financial proposals, and Rooke admitted that he had let some things slide that he shouldn't have.

I thought he was a stand-up guy then and I do now. Last week, Rooke and fellow Councilor Bruce Stebbins led an effort in due diligence in trying to advance the idea that the city shouldn't borrow from the reserve fund, but cut the budget developed by Mayor Domenic Sarno.

While personally I thought from what I heard the budget cutting would actually hurt the city's ongoing recovery, I think the councilors who took this route were doing the jobs they were elected to do.

I admit I was perplexed that James Ferrera still wanted to eliminate the outside payroll services the city uses after he had received an explanation of why the city doesn't do its own payroll.


The lot on Meadow Street in Chicopee opposite Calloway Golf used to cause problems for residents when it was used for parking for workers at the former Spalding plant. Now residents are concerned the lot will create problems in the future if Lorraine's Soup Kitchen, the meal and food pantry program that serves the needy in Chicopee, moves there.

In an often times heated public meeting, neighbors weighed in the size of the lot and the overflow parking sure to clog the narrow streets abutting the property.

That argument I could understand. What I couldn't get was when some of the neighbors characterized the people who use the services as "drug addicts and alcoholics."

One young man called the clients "degenerates." People are concerned their property values would plummet if they were near a food pantry.

I wondered if any of these folks call themselves "Christians?" Isn't there something about charity in the Bible? How about not judging people?

There are unfortunately a lot of families and seniors using the soup kitchen because of the stresses the economy has put on them.

Alderman George Moreau urged the residents to work with the soup kitchen staff in finding a suitable location. Those are wise words I hope they heed.


Hey, it's almost July Fourth and that means every idiot in my neighborhood will be shooting off fireworks. Yay! And they'll probably be drinking! Yay! And the most they'll know about what they're doing is that you light a match and stick the flame on the stringy thing and eventually let go.

I got this letter from the vice president of Phantom Fireworks, William A. Weimer, and I'll quote it in part: "The laws in Massachusetts that govern the use of consumer fireworks are out of date and out of touch with the demands and rights of the Massachusetts citizens. The time has come for Massachusetts to be brought into the mainstream of American life and for the state legislature to allow its citizens to enjoy the celebration of freedom with consumer fireworks.

"The spirit of the Massachusetts signers of the Declaration of Independence John Adams, John Hancock, Elbridge Gerry, Samuel Adams and Robert Treat Paine should rise once again and break the chains of anti-fireworks servitude in the Bay State.

"The imperative for the legislature to 'protect' its citizens from the dangers of consumer fireworks is long gone. The consumer fireworks today are the safest ever, and the injuries associated with the use of consumer fireworks is at an all-time low. There simply is no longer any need for the antiquated laws in this state that prevent citizens from enjoying the family celebrations associated with a home fireworks display.

"Massachusetts is now one of only five states that totally outlaws the use of all consumer fireworks.

"Former President John Adams predicted in 1776 in a letter to his wife, Abigail, that Independence Day 'ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade.bonfires and illuminations (fireworks) from one end of this continent to the other, from this day forward forevermore.' Fireworks provide the citizens of this state and this nation a means to celebrate their freedoms.

"Write to your state legislator and let them know that you want the right to celebrate your freedom with fireworks in the spirit of John Adams."

Bill may I call you Bill? I'll be happy to talk to a number of state reps on this subject if you would like to spend the evening of the Fourth in my neighborhood, listening to drunk fathers trying to teach their kids how to hold a sparkler, putting up with the barking and whining of dogs petrified by the fireworks and hoping that the bottle rockets whizzing overhead don't cause a house fire which has happened in Springfield in the past few years.

John Adams, indeed. I'm sure that what happens in my neighborhood is what he intended.

This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments online to or to 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, Mass. 01028.