|By G. Michael Dobbs|
Complain. Gripe. Moan.
We all love to do it, don't we? We talk with friends and neighbors, post rants on the Internet and talk back to the television and radio.
"Things are not like they used to be!" "Kids have no respect!" "Remember what this 'fill-in-the-blank' (town, neighborhood, school) used to be like?"
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Well, the majority of folks in East Longmeadow have lost their right to complain about town government until the next election. The recent election drew only 14 percent 1,503 of the registered voters in town.
That's right. Your government was determined by 14 percent of the voters.
There are 10,429 voters in East Longmeadow. Where the hell were you?
We are granted freedom of speech, but in my book, we earn the right to complain if we make a point of staying informed, voting, and perhaps even becoming active in an effort to improve our community then we can complain all we want and as loud as we want.
I have no opinion about the results of the East Longmeadow election. There were civic-minded residents who put themselves on the line and ran for office. They are to be commended for their concern and commitment.
And the voters spoke kind of, sort of. I'm not sure if 14 percent qualifies as a reflection for any sort of true opinion. It's not a mandate, that's for sure.
So now the town folks face another voter. On May 1, voters can support a cap on the size of big box stores.
Now if the candidates didn't excite you in the town elections for whatever reason, I can't see people being ambivalent about this issue.
The sort of growth represented by big box stores used to be confined to "main drags" Riverdale Street in West Springfield, Memorial Drive in Chicopee and Boston Road in Springfield.
The aggressive marketing of these national chains now call for strategies that don't call for competing with other stores, but crushing them. To do that, the stores must be located in non-traditional locations, such as a community shopping area in a suburban town.
You've heard the arguments: the impact on traffic and infrastructure and how established businesses might suffer. It's now time for you to take a stand.
Make time to join your neighbors at the High School at 7 p.m. on May 1 and cast your vote.
I just hope for your sake there are more than just 1,503 of you.
This column actually represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or to 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028.