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Springfield becoming business 'un-friendly'?

Date: 7/16/2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

Is it just me, or has a chill come into Springfield's air when it comes to business?

First, the city tells commercial property owners it's too expensive to pick up their trash and they must find a private hauler. Then, the City Council decided to give Mayor Domenic Sarno some — but not all — of a local motel/hotel tax he requested. Now, the mayor is asking the Board of License Commissioners to change the serving time of alcohol from 2 a.m. in the city to 1 a.m.

Now, I understand that Springfield has a real revenue problem. The city suffers from unfunded mandates and not enough state aid. The property tax can't be raised and home values are down. The mayor is struggling with conditions that he did not create.

Couple that with a lack of solid middle class jobs, something that started with the closing of the Armory and Westinghouse decades ago and you have a perfect storm.

But before you do something that will affect a tax-paying business, why not take steps to curb municipal spending? Why not take the city's health insurance policy out to bid as City Councilor Tim Rooke has long suggested? Why not tell people who earn more than $70,000 in city jobs that they must take a five-day furlough during the year as City Councilor John Lysak has proposed?

I don't want to see anyone laid off, but have the big-money administrative positions in the city government been examined closely? Do we need all of them?

The 1 p.m. entertainment ban has already cost businesses money. I guarantee that a 1 a.m. closing time for alcohol sales will be the nails that are driven into that business segment's coffin.

Remember, a 1 a.m. closing time will affect everyone with a liquor license in every neighborhood, regardless of his or her record. Consider for a moment that a bar that hasn't had any problems is now being lumped together with an establishment that has had numerous violations? Is that fair?

No. The fair thing would be to address the problem businesses and leave the ones that are obeying the law alone.

Closing a bar isn't going to stop gang on gang violence unless that bar is a center of activity. Closing a bar isn't going to stop the drug trade unless that bar is a center of drug sales.

Closing the bars at 1 a.m. sends an additional message that Springfield is not an easy place to do business.

Remember when you were a kid and someone threw a spitball in class behind the teacher's back and she or he punished the whole class? It didn't make any sense then and it doesn't make any sense now.


Puzzling Evidence Department: Here's new trend I've been seeing around the area: young men riding scooters and wearing a full motorcycle helmet, but instead of wearing it the way they should they balance it on top of their heads like a baseball cap. Naturally any protection the helmet would allow is negated and the riders look like human bobble heads. Impressive.

More Puzzling Evidence: More and more political candidates don't identify their party affiliation in their television commercials. Aren't they proud of their party, whatever it may be?

One more bit of Puzzling Evidence: City officials in Holyoke told the photographer who used the fire headquarters for a photo shoot involving fitness models that the photos are the property of the city because now retired Deputy Fire Chief William Moran was not qualified to give permission for the shoot to take place on city property. Yipes! Does this mean I need a waiver every time I shoot something at City Hall?

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.