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History frequently provides answers

Date: 1/18/2010

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

While there is a new City Council in Springfield, it doesn't have a redesigned chamber to accommodate the new 13-member council. What happened?

I spoke to Mayor Domenic Sarno's aide Tom Walsh about it and he explained the mayor thought the original estimate of about $300,000 to alter the chamber was too much and should be rethought. The budget is now much less.

I have a photo from a 1936 commemorative booklet on Springfield that shows the chamber used by the council as it was then. I thought it was interesting that there are 16 chairs around the desks and the arrangement was such that councilors could actually look at people attending a meeting.

I can't help but wonder if the designers are taking that arrangement into consideration. Why not try to return the chamber to the way it originally looked? Could the city save some money by doing so?

By the way, I'm thinking the city should at least buy seat cushions for the council as long as the councilors are forced to sit on metal folding chairs.


Some of our readers will receive their newspapers the day before the Jan. 19 senatorial election, while others will read this column the day after.

As a voter I've felt unengaged by the race itself. The short deadline for the primary, the flurry of candidates who didn't seem to have enough time to actually campaign and the apparent lack of appearances in Western Massachusetts all have contributed to my ennui.

It should be noted that Republican Scott Brown has made much more of an effort to get voters to consider his candidacy he gets brownie points with me for opening a Western Massachusetts office.

Attorney General Martha Coakley seemed to adopt the persona of the frontrunner who operated under the assumption that the race was hers from the start. To say that is both an arrogant and dangerous attitude for any candidate to have is an understatement. We'll see how that has worked for her.

I was amazed that I was never contacted by any of Coakley's press aides or supporters. Brown had a visible and vocal presence here.

Conventional political wisdom in Massachusetts typically dictates a Democrat would be the likely winner of this race. Considering how many people are out of work in this state, how the Legislature and the governor have frequently failed in coming up with solutions to help the average person and that Coakley's campaign didn't seem too personable, there might be plenty of people willing to return a Republican to the Senate.

History will be made one way or the other.


When does a change of mind or listening to the people become a flip-flop? That is a political question many people in office face, but not so often perhaps as our governor.

While I applaud his returning funding for the outpatient clinic at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home, the fact is the problem has only been solved until the end of the fiscal year.

What the governor has done isn't a real solution. It's politics.

Here are a few things to consider:

Massachusetts has an aging population and the services offered by the Soldiers' Home are going to be more in demand.

Massachusetts residents are serving their country in the Middle East and are coming back from those conflicts requiring health services.

As a state we need to address which vets get health care from which agency or service. There needs to be a comprehensive look at health care for vets to make sure these men and women get a much needed benefit for serving their country.

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