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No cell phones and no cheeseburgers

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

The scariest thing I ever saw while driving on a highway was a guy in the next lane reading a newspaper balanced on his steering wheel. Cruising in commuter traffic on the former Connecticut Turnpike, he would look up and then look down.

I got away from him as far and as fast as I could.

We've all done some stupid stuff in cars and last week the House passed legislation that would ban the use of regular cell phones by drivers.

We know we shouldn't drink and drive and now we won't be able to drive and phone, once the legislation is ultimately approved.

State Rep. Angelo Puppolo stated in a press release, "This is a matter of public safety, and if it saves one life it will be well worth it."

He's right, of course. This will undoubtedly improve some folks' driving skills by providing them with one less distraction.

If caught, there will be fines ranging from $100 to $500, depending upon the number of times you've been busted. I suppose it also will give law enforcement one more reason to pull you over and as all of us who watch "Cops" know, it's the little things that can blossom into the discovery of more serious offenses.

Here's my question and I'm not being a smart aleck, honest: Should we ban drive-throughs next?

I've done it. You may have done it: going through a drive-through, getting a food or drink item and then consuming while driving. It takes skills to eat a burger with a stick shift, but I've done it.

I'm not proud of that accomplishment.

So in the name of public safety should that be next?

What do you think?


Some of you film fans out there know that I've written about my friend Marty Langford's journey with his science fiction film "Magdalena's Brain" a number of times in these newspapers.

Produced and shot locally, Langford and his creative partner Warren Amerman made a film that is intelligent and has some very nice twists and turns. The hardest part of the filmmaking adventure wasn't the production itself, but rather it was selling the film and getting it to audiences.

Here's a lesson to anyone who has watched a movie and then stared at his or her video camera thinking "I can do that" it's a lot harder than you think.

What is particularly daunting is that even if you produce something not only watchable, but good, you might have a heck of time letting anyone see it.

I'm happy to say that Langford's film is not only being re-released on DVD as part of a science fiction two-pack available in March, but it's also part of a cable television Video on Demand package (check your cable system's listings) and is available for down-loading (legally) on your computer on the Web site

So support regional filmmaking and check out "Magdalena's Brain" through these new venues.


So when I asked Lt. Gov. Tim Murray if having money from the sale of casino revenues in the state budget was a sign that the governor and the legislative leaders struck a secret deal, he laughed and said, "I wish."

I have to say it's a very bold move to try to push a debate on casinos in the Legislature by including these funds in a budget.

Whether it pays off will be up to voters who are willing to tell their state representatives and senators to schedule hearings and a debate.

I'm sure the state reps who want to curry favor with Speaker DiMasi will all line up tut-tutting the governor for his brashness during the next news cycle.

As I've noted before I think the Legislature holding this issue up is a complete disservice to the state.

It's time to either try to re-capture some of the $1 billion that goes to Connecticut and Rhode Island casinos from this state or decide we just don't want anything to do with casinos.

Let's make a decision.

And remember, the possibility of a Native American casino in this state isn't science fiction. Unless the state acts, a Native American casino would not have to give the Commonwealth a penny.

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