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The speaker doesn't want to debate

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

Did you cast a vote for Sal DiMasi in the last election?

That's funny, neither did I. I voted for a state representative and a state senator and a governor, but I didn't vote for a Speaker of the House.

So why is DiMasi making decisions that can affect my life when I didn't vote for him? When no one outside of the voters in his district voted for him?

Listen, I'm not a Pollyanna, except I still believe in the democratic way our various governments municipal, state and federal are supposed to embody. I fully understand the need to have three equal branches of government, but DiMasi's grandstanding on the casino issue shows that in the Bay State, the House Speaker is king.

And for us his being the king is not a good thing.

The casino issue is worthy of a debate. Clearly we need the money that casinos would bring. Of course, we would also have to deal with the problems they would bring as well. Setting up the casinos in such a way to have the maximum positive economic impact and the least negative social implications would be a huge task.

It is a task that Deval Patrick seems up to doing, but it would appear he wouldn't be doing it unless there is a major shift in the leadership of the House.

So I have to ask and any member of the General Court can respond: what is your plan to raise revenues without raising taxes or cutting services?

I haven't heard much about the alternatives, so I would be curious what kind of economic stimulus would you all put in place that could capture the kind of money regularly flowing across our borders to the casinos in Connecticut?

Chicopee Mayor Michael Bissonnette was right in changing his mind about going to testify in Boston last week. His appearance would have been political theater that was clearly a waste of time for all involved.

Massachusetts needs jobs and jobs that rebuild the middle class. We need to be developing these jobs now. After four years of a governor who promised much on job development and did zippity-doo-dah, we cannot afford any more political sleight of hand.

Hey, Sal, if you would like to explain to me and my readers why you stymied this debate, I'll spring for lunch at one of our great restaurants here.


I was in Syracuse, N.Y., last week for my annual trip to Cinefest, a weekend festival of obscure American and British films. I had lunch with a former staff member, Josh Shear, who now works in the Central New York city and he gave me an informative tour of downtown Syracuse.

A little larger than Springfield, Syracuse has many of the same problems as we do in addressing the evolution of an urban center. The loss of manufacturing jobs has resulted in a weakening of the middle class. Malls have sucked much of the retail life out of downtown.

Josh, though, is bullish on the city and noted a number of positive things that are happening.

I liked his attitude because it corresponded to my feelings about Springfield. It's currently fashionable to kick the city.

Some news outlets heralded the recent news that three downtown restaurants closed all within the same time as some sort of harbinger of the end of downtown.

The three eateries closed, I'm sure, for different reasons. Now did any of the media outlets that breathlessly reported the closings ever report on these establishments opening?

Why no, because that would go against the edict that people want to hear about bad news over good news. A story about a business opening is tantamount to free advertising.

Male bovine fertilizer. There are legitimate stories here there are non-stories as well and the legit ones should be noted.

With these changing economic conditions we need to call attention to new local businesses in every community not just Springfield.

Springfield, though, perhaps needs the most help, as it is the target of the greatest number of criticisms. So I challenge my colleagues in the press to actually try to boost our communities, rather than tear them down.

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