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Focusing on the steak, not the sizzle

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

It's been a very busy week and I've got topics!


Over in Chicopee Mayor Michael Bissonnette and State Rep. Joseph Wagner have exchanged not too pleasant words concerning the casino issue and Bissonnette has come up with a suggestion I think would settle the casino issue once and for all: a binding referendum.

As much as I respect individual members of the General Court and the work they do, I don't think the leadership of the House and Senate are doing anyone any good on this subject. Their attitude that they are going to determine the casino question smacks of a nasty elitism. Why do they know better than the rest of us? If given the facts, can't we decide?

The people need to speak and the state needs to act if Massachusetts is going to be in a position to benefit from casinos. If people don't want casinos, that's a clear signal for the governor and the Legislature to come up with different economic development concepts.

Now the only problem is the Legislature can reverse the results of referendum as it has in the past. If that happens, we should reverse their fortunes.


At Western New England College last Wednesday, hundreds of people gathered for the fifth annual Communications Conference. It's a great event sponsored by the college and the Valley Press Club that presents a lot of very good information about the press and media.

I've been lucky to be part of a presentation about the local media for the past several years and I'm thankful that people laugh at my jokes and say nice things to me.

For the past three conferences, there has been a lunch to honor a local journalist for his or her contributions and this year the former news director for WWLP, Keith Silver, was honored.

It was a very appropriate selection as Silver is one of the generation of television newsmen who operated at a time when the emphasis was on the steak rather than the sizzle.

I grew up watching guys like Silver, Durham Caldwell and Ed Kennedy. This group of television reporters came from radio or print then the dominant news mediums. They were driven to get a story, get it right, and get it before the competition.

And although that is the same in many ways today in the news industry, I think the focus has become a little fuzzy.

A testimony to Silver's career was the number of his colleagues who turned up at the luncheon to help honor him.

Congratulations, Keith.


I was listening to NPR the other night and I was dismayed to hear that Mitt Romney had lost the New Hampshire Primary "despite having been governor of neighboring Massachusetts."

What bothered me wasn't that Romney lost regular readers know how I feel about the Mittster but that this NPR reporter assumed that Romney's record as governor here would translate into some good will among New Hampshire voters.

What kind of crack was he smoking?

Why do members of the national press ignore what Mitt did and didn't do here? Unlike other candidates, Mitt has just four years of government experience and too much of that time he was out of the state preparing for his run.

A real candidacy can't be built on a nice haircut, polished sound bites and promises, can it?


I had a very profound experience this week. My foster daughter who is like a daughter, period, to us gave birth to her second child. My license as a grandfather has been renewed.

There is nothing in the world as moving as holding a newborn and understanding that you have a responsibility and a role to help this child reach adulthood.

The folks at Mercy Medical Center have a wonderful facility for childbirth and took great care of my daughter and granddaughter.

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