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Dear Deval: fire the guy with the $5 fee

Date: 3/8/2010

After hearing all about "McElligot's Pool," the attentive kids and their teachers of the class at Trinity Methodist posed for a photo.

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

This week, I'm going to go from the ridiculous to the sublime.

Dear Gov. Patrick:

I think you're a smart, decent guy. Sure, you've made some mis-steps, like counting casino licensing money into a state budget before the Legislature even addressed the hows and wherefores of this money, but which governor hasn't put his or her foot into a cow pie every now and then?

The trouble is the latest little stinker may not have been your decision, but you will be stuck with it.

Whoever came up with the idea to charge someone an extra $5 to have a face-to-face exchange with someone at the Registry of Motor Vehicles should be fired. Of all the asinine ideas I've seen floated by some government hack, this one is an award winner.

Governor, I'm not sure when the last time you or a member of your family had to wait at a RMV office for something. It can be quite the experience and not a good one.

Telling people to renew their license on the Web site, then telling them they can't because they need a new photo and then charging them an extra $5 in the name of encouraging them to use the Web site is just plain insulting.

Please, for your own reputation and in the name of common sense, give the person responsible the boot.

Now, my wife and I wholeheartedly embrace recycling and I dutifully put out our three or four bins first thing every Wednesday morning. I've become used to the idea there will be part of our recyclables strewn over the sidewalk and street as a by-product of the collection process, but I now have a new problem: our stuff wasn't picked up last week.

Now in the course of urban living, this is perhaps a small element, but it's significant. After all I pay a trash fee and I think I should get the service for which I pay.

I called Springfield's 311 services on Friday to get some action. I was told I'd get a call back. I called on Monday and was told I'd get a call back. I called on Wednesday and was told there would be no way the trash gods would be back to get my stuff. It will have to wait until next week.

I emptied the rain water out of the bins and brought them to the back porch.

These are exactly the kind of things that cause people to think a second time about living in Springfield. I know it's small. We've lived in our home for almost 20 years and crime hasn't been an issue. I love the city's location, its diversity, its history, its museums and library and so much more.

But when your garbage isn't picked up and no one can help you, you can't help but get a little cheesed.

All I can say is that it better be picked on Wednesday or I'm bringing it to City Hall.

And now the sublime: I was asked to take part in the Read Across America celebration of Dr. Seuss' birthday last week by reading to a group of four-year-olds at the Trinity Methodist Nursery School in Springfield.

I had never been in the school, which was founded in 1946 as a community project by the church. The school's classes are located in the basement of the large church and are clean and bright. School Director Elizabeth Miller gave me a tour of the classes. The students there benefit from being able to stage their twice-yearly shows for parents in the church's auditorium and use the church's pool.

In the class where I read, one of the teachers was baking cupcakes to celebrate the Springfield native's birthday.

I chose to read "McElligot's Pool," a book Seuss wrote in 1947. I brought my edition, which I received when I was five years old and living on Navajo Road in Sixteen Acres. I did have a little surreal moment in my car when I realized I was just a year older than these kids when I received this book from my parents. And almost 50 years to the date I was given it, I was reading it again.

The kids were great. Some had heard of Dr. Seuss and were a little goggle-eyed when they learned he had lived in that neighborhood.

I think it's a fascinating coincidence that Springfield is the home of one of the first authors children read -- Dr. Seuss -- as well as Jim Trelease, the man who made people understand how important it is to read to your kids with his book, "The Read Aloud Handbook."

I tip my Cat in the Hat hat in thanks for the opportunity to read to these students.

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