|By G. Michael Dobbs|
Joe Manley from East Longmeadow wrote me the following letter on the front page story we published on the alleged theft of a confidential letter from East Longmeadow Town Hall:
"When I read the article 'Executive session letter causes controversy,' I noticed something overlooked as the most important part of the story. Buried on page 33 was the line 'Those issues, according to Townshend, include the hiring of Driscoll's friend....that Villamaino doesn't receive a real estate property tax bill...' Here is a dirty politician at work. This statement makes Villamaino look like a criminal, by using the town's offices to keep himself from having to pay taxes. With very little work, anyone can discover that Villamaino DOESN'T OWN PROPERTY IN EAST LONGMEADOW! I find it very discouraging that one of our selectmen would use such a dirty comment to smear a fellow selectman. It also leads me to believe that Townshend might be the one who gave Cutler the letter in question. If you had any REAL reporters on staff you could actually discover the news instead of just printing whatever crap people are willing to feed you."
Well, Joe, allow me to address your points.
First, I made sure Villamaino responded to the "issues" that Townshend identified as important ones. Villamaino's remarks followed, including his admission he doesn't own any property. What more did you want me to do? I gave both sides the chance to say what they had to say.
It's no secret Villamaino doesn't own property. It's no secret that Driscoll has been friends with David Horgan, the ELCAT director, for years. And it's no secret that Townshend has been at odds with Driscoll on many issues.
Residents could certainly draw conclusions about Townshend about his selections as the most important issues in the town. That's for them to do.
I'd like to get a little affirmation that this newspaper was the one that covered this issue by having people go on record and make their statements for voters to evaluate. And this reporter was the one who got Townshend to confirm that he did remove the letter from Town Hall.
I found your remark, "I find it very discouraging that one of our selectmen would use such a dirty comment to smear a fellow selectman" a little surprising as the East Longmeadow Select Board has been distinguishing themselves as perhaps the most divided governmental body in the Valley with clearly described battle lines.
I think the most important aspect of this race was whether or not Villamaino is going to run for retiring State Rep. Mary Rogeness' seat and how that will affect the Board of Selectmen.
As far as getting something more than just "crap" to print, help us out. If you know of a story we should cover, then call me at 525-3247, ex. 103 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, thanks for the letter. It's all part of the relationship between community newspapers and readers.
Kevin Noonan is one of the hardest working guys I know in the local non-profit arena and his Open Pantry Community Services needs your help.
The state's cut of $400,000 from his budget has resulted in a dire financial situation that will undoubtedly impact the thousands of Springfield residents that rely on their services.
With the recession and the summer fuel prices looming as unknowns, there is a real need to help the Open Pantry get back on its feet.
If you can, drop by their Web site to see how you can make a donation. It would be money well spent.
This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments online to Reminderpublications.com or to 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, Mass. 01028.