Use this search box to find articles that have run in our newspapers over the last several years.

What set of rules are we playing by, anyway?

Date: 8/10/2009

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

The reports that Springfield's "hot dog wars" or "Weiner-gate" are over or have at least reached a ceasefire are a tad misleading. Yes, John Verducci III will be allowed to continue his business until a new ordinance is in place.

The City Council has much work ahead of it to craft a new ordinance that will address the issue of stationary street peddlers. No matter how quickly the Council and the Law Department can craft a new ordinance, the issue will be if that new ordinance has some of the provisions currently being discussed it will have to enacted by the Legislature.

That could slow down things a bit.

While many people see this as another chapter in how politics play out in Springfield, the underlying issue deals with how the city does business. What kinds of rules are there for brick and mortar food establishments and what are those for the street peddlers?

Naturally, many folks want to frame this whole story as politics. It's more fun, isn't it? It sure is easier than talking about ordinances. And while politics may have played a role this has become a he said/she said kind of issue we should be focusing on the rules by which everyone should be playing.


Is there anyone in Agawam not running for mayor? Seriously. Will there be anyone left to vote?


A number of random facts and observations clumped together in my fevered brain this week.

Comic Dave Attell one of my favorites tells me that audiences can be very politically correct these days. Now I trust Attell's opinion as he deals with this all the time, but I wonder what constitutes political correctness today.

Random fact number one: My sources they are everywhere have told me that Amy Fisher received $10,000 for her two recent shows at the Mardi Gras. That's right, crime pays pretty damn well, doesn't it.

I can't fathom why anyone would turn out to see a woman take her clothes off whose only claim to fame is that she tried to kill someone. That's not very sexy to me, but then, I'm old fashioned.

If we were a politically correct society wouldn't we stay away from such exhibitions?

Random fact number two: "Dance Your Ass Off" is a new dance competition show in which overweight people clad in tight little costumes show off their dance skills while trying to lose pounds. This show can be seen as a companion to the new show "More to Love" in which a chunky guy is choosing his mate from a bevy of full-figure women.

Being critical of overweight people is the last acceptable prejudice in this country. As a fat guy myself, I've certainly had remarks made about my appearance that if they were directed at my race they would be considered racist.

I'm sure people believe it's okay to say such things to fat people because we created our own condition and therefore we should be accepting of constructive criticism. As a fat person, I should have the right to tell guys with comb-overs or bad wigs how ridiculous they look or comment on how people dress, right?

Random fact number three: Try repeating that edgy joke you heard on television the other night at work to your co-workers. When someone like Dave Attell says it, it's funny. When you repeat it, someone files a grievance against you.

The joke will be on you.

Random fact number four: We tell our kids to be accepting of people with physical differences and yet we have a seemingly endless stream of reality television shows about little people ohhh, they're shopping for groceries! conjoined twins they're making the best of a difficult life! and others that seem like a 21st century version of a sideshow.

What's the difference between a little person dealing with his or her teenage son and anyone else? None. Where's the entertainment value? The educational value? Why, it's because they're little!

At least the sideshow was philosophically honest.

My conclusion? We pretend to be politically correct because that's what society demands while in reality too many of us are still the venal weasels we have always been.


In a recent story about the dedication of Springfield's Tree Top Park, I misidentified the gentlemen for whom the playing field was dedicated. The correct name is Edward Collings. My apologies.

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