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Is Kerry frightened of challenger?

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

I opened my e-mail this morning to find a missive from the Ed O'Reilly campaign concerning Sen. John Kerry's consent to a debate over WBZ in Boston

The debate will be taped and then broadcast 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 7.

Since you are reading this column after the 7th, you're probably asking, "What the heck?"

O'Reilly has been trying to get the incumbent and former standard bearer for the Democratic party to agree to a series of debates around the state at which the public could ask questions.

At this writing, Kerry hasn't agreed to anything but one televised debate that can't be seen by many people in the western part of the state.

Thank you, Sen. Kerry, for the consideration you have shown your constituents.

I realize that debates generally can favor a challenger and that standard political wisdom for an incumbent is to control your appearances. Incumbents have records that can spur debate and newcomers can use a debate to point out parts of that record they don't like.

Shouldn't a guy whom had his past and record scrutinized by the national press be prepared for a debate on a state level? One would think this would be a cakewalk for the junior senator.

Instead, one must consider the possibility that Kerry is worried about his future in the Senate.

Either that or he has so much confidence in the complacency of the Massachusetts voter that he doesn't give a flying fig.

"In setting the terms to have only one debate at a Boston television station that is to be aired this Sunday at 10 a.m., Sen. John Kerry has snubbed his nose at the people of Western Massachusetts, O'Reilly stated in a press release. "Not only are the people in eastern Massachusetts being excluded from attending the pre-recording session, but the people of Western Massachusetts will not even be able to view the pre-recorded debate," he continued.

"Western Massachusetts is not only beyond the broadcast area, but cable companies in Western Massachusetts do not include Channel 4 in their plans. John Kerry has spoken loudly and clearly about if, when and what he really thinks about representing the people of Western Massachusetts," O'Reilly said.

And here's another political enigma: John Olver has an active and aggressive opponent in Nathan Bech, but Olver seems to be on autopilot as best as I can figure.

Of course, it's hard to tell as Olver seldom sends out press releases about any of his accomplishments or activities.

It's guys like Olver and Kerry that explain that while I'm a registered Democrat, party loyalty is a faith to which I cannot commit.


I was astonished to find the recycling rates for the city of Springfield to be just about eight percent. In this day and age when environmental issues are at the forefront, one would think people wouldn't have a problem washing out their peanut butter jar or plastic milk bottle and putting it in their blue bin for pick-up.

Apparently, this is a problem.

The city's solution a pilot program in one section of the city that would eliminate separating recyclables and using a large rolling bin is a great first step.

What Springfield needs, though, is a greater emphasis, through some sort of marketing campaign, on citizens doing the right thing and recycling.

Holyoke has made great progress in increasing its recycling effort by reaching out to manufacturers and collecting that refuse. The businesses don't have to pay as much to their garbage haulers and the city gets the benefit of earning more money with a greater amount of recycling.

I know that I would welcome a nice new recycling bin as we put out three to four containers every two weeks. Of course it would also be locked up just like my standard garbage bin just in case someone in my neighborhood covets a second bin.


So do you think school uniforms are going to catch on in other communities? I hope so.

As I drive through the streets of Springfield, I really think the students look professional. It's not that I'm a prude or against individual freedom of expression, but I think it's great 13- and 14-year-old girls aren't dressing like background dancers from music videos and boys aren't trying to emulate their favorite hip hop artist by shuffling down the street with the crotches of their pants around their ankles.

And no Hannah Montana look-alikes yay!

I love it when I see a kid holding up his pants while he is trying to walk one word: belt.

While I understand high school or middle school students objecting to the uniforms, I think that in a few years time it will be something that is second nature to younger students.

Of course I suppose I'm some sort of hypocrite as the uniform for people my age in this profession is at the least a coat and tie two items of clothing I don't like wearing until the temperature drops below 72 degrees.

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