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Object to my Fruit of the Looms? Don’t look.

Date: 6/27/2011

By G. Michael Dobbs, Managing Editor

June 27, 2011

When my parents moved to a subdivision in a suburb of Richmond, Va., one of their neighbors came over to greet them with an admonition that they remove the “eyesore” the previous owners had in their yard — a clothesline.

I’m happy to say my folks did not. They didn’t understand how or why this was a problem, but apparently over 20 years later, there are some people who view a clothesline as objectionable.

I assume it’s the viewing of the undergarments that bothers these people. Perhaps they go commando.

I recently received a clipping from the Boston Herald from a reader about a proposed bill in the Bay State that would insure the right of homeowners to have a clothesline. Naturally there has been some giggling about it on Facebook as an example of “too much government.”

This is what puzzles me about people who call themselves “conservative” — as opposed to people who are traditional conservatives. I would have thought a bill that would preserve a personal freedom of choice — such as hanging a clothesline on your property — would have been welcomed, and not rejected.

We had a clothesline in the back yard prior to the tornado and this liberal believes it is my God given right to dry my wash outside on my property when I can, instead of spending money and energy using the dryer.

And if you object to my Fruit of Looms proudly flapping in the breeze, then don’t look in my back yard.
The Boston Globe came out with an editorial on June 22 that wagged its finger at us hayseeds here in Springfield that we need to make sure even though we’re trying to recover from a tornado that we shouldn’t spend outside our means.

The anonymous Globe writer penned the following: “Springfield is back under local control, and current Mayor Domenic Sarno has sought to convey a sense of fiscal responsibility. Still, the Patrick Administration and State Auditor Suzanne Bump should scrutinize the city’s spending closely. After any disaster strikes any community, underqualified and unscrupulous contractors come out of the woodwork, and an influx of borrowed or donated emergency dollars can allow unsustainable spending practices to escape detection.”

Gosh, would you write the same if a tornado ripped through the Hub or another part of the greater Boston area? I doubt it.

Has Springfield had its problems? Yes. Did Mayor Charlie Ryan and the Finance Control Board address many of them? Yes. Has Mayor Domenic Sarno been fiscally responsible? I disagree with him on several decisions, but largely he has kept us on track. Do we have people on the City Council now who question expenses? Yes.

This editorial sums up the attitude Boston has had of Western Massachusetts ever since William Pynchon thought this would be a good place to hang his hat. Instead of seeing how they can help, they would rather give us a slap.

But, I’m sure they think it’s good for us.

Housing and Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki said at a meeting about rebuilding after the tornado that communities should use existing plans — if they have them — that would add upgrades to their towns. The idea is not just to rebuild, but rebuild better.

Michaelann Bewsee of Arise for Social Justice suggested that affordable housing destroyed by the tornado be rebuilt with solar panels and space for community gardens. That sounds sensible to me.

Now that I have no trees sheltering my house, which provided needed shade in the summer, and I need to replace part of my roof, this would be a great time to install solar panels and become more energy independent.

That will only happen, though, if there is a way I can afford it.

Rebuilding better is great, but we also need to speak about how people are going to afford it.
Correction: In the story on the front page of the June 22 edition of the Chicopee Herald concerning the investigation of Holyoke's interim fire chief, it was incorrectly stated that the investigation by the district attorney was the result of a letter written by mayoral candidate Daniel Boyle. The investigation was started by a request from the office of Mayor Elaine Pluta. I regret the error.

Hey, agree with me? Disagree? Drop me a line at or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.

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