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State and city should be even Stevens

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

So let me get this straight: back in 1973 the Commonwealth ordered school busing to achieve integration in Springfield and Lawrence with the promise the state would reimburse the communities for the busing. The catch was that someone in the legislative delegation representing those cities had to file a bill in more ways than one to get the money back. And the bill had to be approved by the House, Senate and the governor.

No one in the Springfield delegation has ever done that, costing the city over $75 million. Meanwhile, we owe the state $52 million with the loan the Legislature approved to help bail us out of the hole dug by the Albano Administration.

It would make sense financially and ethically if the city and the state shook hands and called it a wash. In fact, it's a heck of a deal for the state as they would be over $20 million ahead of the game.

City Councilor Timothy Rooke should be congratulated for pursuing the possibility of some sort of deal with the state. On the flip side, anyone who has been in the position since 1973 to ask for repayment who hasn't should be taken to the woodshed.

This should be a lesson to all of us about the inherent philosophical dishonesty that seems to be one of the foundations of government. Broken promises and unfunded mandates are hallmarks for how state government works here in the Bay State.

With Springfield's economic footing a bit more secure, I hope state officials will recognize the wisdom of Rooke's proposal and its long-range impact for the city.


I'm going to be once again on a panel at the annual "Communications Conference: How to Get Noticed in the 21st Century" at Western New England College on Jan. 9. If you're interested in an inside look at how to use mass communications, you should attend, as the workshops are diverse and thoughtful. For more information, call 782-1249.

They have me on a panel titled "Media Roundtable Mainstream Media" with folks such as Dave Madsen from ABC40, Jim Gillen, city editor of "The Republican," Doug Lezette, news director of CBS3, Barry Kriger of TV22 and Jaclyn Stevenson of "Business West."

There's another group that has "alternative media" with folks including Tom Vannah of "The Valley Advocate."

I was a little surprised as I always think of what we do here at our four community newspapers as an alternative to what I consider the mainstream: television and the daily newspaper.

For me, the real "alternative media" these days are the folks who are blogging.

I want to welcome back to the Internet my friend Tommy Devine who is once again posting at Tom's been gone for a while dealing with a personal problem (which, of course in true Devine fashion, he is very open about be prepared for some adult comments) and he is back to form with some typically interesting political and social observations.

Heather Brandon, despite now living in Hartford, is still doing a great job covering Springfield stories at her blog Urban Compass at and Bill Dusty is dedicated to his South End neighborhood and his city at

Ralph Slate has a fascinating blog on Western Massachusetts history at

My buddy Marty Langford writes about film from both the fan and professional sides at

Check them out.


I asked last week for contributions of 100 cans of tuna and 100 jars of peanut butter for the folks who use the Community Survival Center in Indian Orchard and while we've had some response, we need a whole lot more.

Please consider picking up one can of tuna and one jar of peanut butter when you shop this week and dropping it off here at our offices at 280 N. Main Street in East Longmeadow.

Now I know many people who read this newspaper are out of the area served by the Community Survival Center and may not want to donate for that reason. In a perfect world, it would be great if I could get 100 cans and jars donated for Lorraine's Soup Kitchen in Chicopee and another 100 each for the Parish Cupboard in West Springfield. That's 300 cans and 300 jars. So let's shoot for that number and let's see if we can do it by Jan. 1.

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