|By G. Michael Dobbs|
An open letter and invitation to House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi and Senate President Robert E. Travaglini:
On behalf of my fellow citizens of Springfield I would like to invite you to lunch and a quick tour of the city that you seem to be willing to let die.
I understand that recently you both expressed reluctance to extend additional financial support of the state's third largest city. Neither of you wanted to reward the financial mismanagement of the past.
I understand your motivations. The Commonwealth has managed to pull itself out of a budgetary canyon and few in elected office with any conscience would want to be part of another financial abyss.
I doubt that I would either, especially if the same people who created the mess were still in charge.
That isn't the case, though, in Springfield. As you well know Mayor Charles Ryan has worked with the state-appointed Finance Control Board in containing costs, creating efficiency and recovering millions of dollars in tax money the previous Albano Administration had not.
While I do admit we still have most of the City Council that approved the budgets that led us down this road of ruin, the good news is there are councilors who have shown renewed fiscal responsibility.
And, while the Control Board is here, the Council doesn't have the oversight power it once had. It gives the Council time to over-come bad habits of the past.
Progress has been made in the city in the past two years. I'm willing to wager that few municipalities in the nation could have done what we have done in such a short-length of time.
The financial problems we face took years to build and we need time to fix them.
Punishing Springfield today for the sins of the past would be just fine if you were punishing the people who made the mistakes. You're not, however.
Do you want to punish businesses and homeowners who have invested in the city? If so, why?
What the state government does affects the residents of Springfield who believed the dog and pony shows of past years. If they sinned, it was a sin of trust in their elected leaders to actually do the right thing.
Now I'm sure you've heard some of these statements before from various elected leaders. If so, pardon my redundancy.
But have you actually spoken to residents and businesspeople about Springfield's plight? Have you been to the city lately?
Here's my offer: I'll spring for lunch at a really fine establishment we have quite a few here. Let me know what the two of you like to eat. I'm sure we can please you.
There will be a couple of other people there, but we'll keep the politicians out. I'm sure you've heard from them enough. We'll keep the meeting short and there will be some parting gifts.
While I can write a wise-ass column from time to time, I am as serious as a heart attack about this offer.
I love my home town too much to see it crash and burn, especially since we are now on the brink of better times.
I'm on vacation from Dec. 26 to 30. Please drop me a line at email@example.com or call me at 413-525-3247, ext. 103 and let's set up a date soon.
This column actually represents the opinions of its author.
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