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Saying goodbye to Patrick and hello to Baker

Date: 1/8/2015

An open letter to Gov. Deval Patrick:

I had hoped to wish you the best in person, but unfortunately that opportunity did not avail itself. So this missive is the next best thing.

By the way, I am the fat grey bearded newspaper guy who usually groused the TV reporters were getting too much of your time and attention during the media availabilities following an event. Yes, you remember me now I’m sure.

Although the history books might not remember you as having this designation, those of us in Western Massachusetts will remember you as the first governor in many years who seemed solidly connected to the four western counties.

Of course, it helped that you have a home in Berkshire County and that often enough your appearances here ended with a trip to your house for the weekend.

I will take that any day of the week, as for once we actually had a governor who appeared to be genuinely interested in this region. I can’t say that about your predecessor or his predecessor or her predecessor.

You seemed to understand that for a relatively small state, we are a very divided one. About 90 percent of the population lives east of Worcester, and you gave folks in Western Massachusetts the sense you comprehended this fact and crafted policies to address regional needs.

As governor you helped lead the Commonwealth through the recovery from the 2008 recession, although one could make the case the recovery was uneven and is still going on, especially out here.

Since you were the chief executive, you should be commended for the state’s unemployment rate as if it hadn’t improved the way it did, you would have been surely blamed.

You responded well to the June 1, 2011 tornado, and I believe your administration helped the communities affected get back onto their feet.

Now, not everything you did was golden. You caught a lot of flack about renovating your office. You put casino revenue into a state budget before there was any legal framework for casinos. You seemed slow to react to certain crises within your administration.

I’m sure my conservative readers would have even more items to note.

Honestly though, given the record of some your predecessors, I think you have more in the positive column than the negative one.

I wish you the best.

An open letter to Governor-elect Charles Baker:

I don’t think your predecessor has left you with too many headaches, as at least he has tried to address the budget shortfall with various cuts. I hope the slate is pretty clean for your new administration.

Your predecessor spent a lot of time out here in the far-flung reaches of the Commonwealth. A lot of people out here supported you, and if you want to win over the ones who didn’t vote for you, I’d like to offer some tips. You strike me as a very smart guy and I don’t mean to talk down to you, so please take them in good faith.

Don’t tell us at an event here that you had a long ride in from Boston as other political types have over the years. We know how long it takes. It’s not that long.

Please visit the Big E. The last Republican governor made an issue of not appearing there. That was just odd.

Don’t give us the impression that you are making some sacrifice of coming out here. All too often I’ve covered Boston-based officials who like to make some comment about how generous they are to actually appear west of Interstate 495.

By the way, we don’t use the word “wicked” as an adjective or an adverb or an exclamation here.

The Pioneer Valley is essentially Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin Counties. Berkshire County is wonderful but it’s not in that grouping.

Remember, historically, we have had a north-south orientation and are far closer to the Hartford, Conn., and Brattleboro, Vt., regions than Worcester and Boston. That doesn’t mean, though, we wouldn’t welcome a commuter rail link to the east.

Finally, don’t discount the weekly newspapers out here. A lot of people read them.

Looking forward to doing business with you.

Agree? 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.