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Government must aid in job retention

By G. Michael Dobbs, Managing Editor
March 21, 2011
So, I find it disturbing that Gov. Patrick has followed his trade mission to Israel with another one to Great Britain. This only doubles the expectation that something concrete is going to come from these junkets.
I wasn't going to write once again about the governor's foreign trip, but I was bothered by the announcement that Fidelity Investments announced last week it was closing is Marlborough office, resulting in more than 1,000 jobs being moved to Rhode Island and New Hampshire. Some were being eliminated.
Curt Nickisch writing about the story on www.wbur.org, quoted "Fidelity watcher Jim Lowell" who said, "'Fidelity is long on Yankee thrift ... and whenever they're going to shave a penny, they're going to do it. And in this case I don't think it could be any clearer. What they're looking to do is to take advantage of . probably a far more friendly tax lay of the overall landscape, both in Rhode Island and across the highway over in New Hampshire.'"
Nickisch also reported that over the past five years, the company has eliminated 4,500 other jobs in Massachusetts.
Now, wouldn't this history warrant putting this company on some sort of watch list? Wouldn't you want, if you were governor, to try to work out some sort of deal?
I hope Patrick can come back with agreements creating 1,000 jobs in his back pocket to help offset this loss.
Every job in this state needs to be protected. If there is a way for government to aid in retention, it must do so.
***

While I get ready in the morning, I watch one of the national morning shows — I won't say which one, as I will protect the guilty here. In the local news cutaway, the anchor first spoke about the proximity of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon. That plant has been controversial, as the Vermont Senate voted to close it down, while the Nuclear Regulatory Commission decided to extend its license to operate for another 20 years.
The local story was tied-in to the horrendous events in Japan.
As I was trying to decide what exciting ensemble to wear that day, I heard the anchor describe steps to take in case Vermont Yankee had an accident along the lines of the Japanese reactor. "What the [expletive deleted]?" was my response.
This was one of the most unacceptable moments in local television news I've witnessed in a while. What were they trying to do? Make people panic here for no reason?
***

Almost every day, I feel very old. I will be 57 this year, which I've been told is not "old." Reminders, though, of just how ancient I am seem to come every day.
Here is one: As I sat in a recent Springfield School Committee meeting, I listened to School Superintendent Dr. Alan Ingram say how students these days need to understand the reasons to attend high school and graduate. He has suggested bringing in successful grads to speak with students about why staying in school makes sense.
This was in reaction to the news of the terrible graduation rates the city high schools have.
What a difference from the Stone Age in 1972 when I graduated from Granby Junior-Senior High School. If I hadn't graduated, my parents would have eviscerated me in a tough love way.
I would have been out of the house and working at whatever job I could find that didn't require a high school diploma.
In my family there was no alternative — you succeeded in school. Period.
So, we need to tell a kid who is 14 or 15 years-old that staying in school will mean the chance for a better job and a better life? They don't have parents who are doing this? They don't see this message every day — that people who don't have an education are forced to take jobs that are lower paying and offer fewer opportunities?
Really? That is going to work? Really?
I haven't heard many of the reasons behind the drop-out rate. Why are these students making that decision? Shouldn't we be looking at those reasons before we start bringing in recent grads to preach to the choir?
How about this: we see what local employers need and we train students to those goals.
Hey, agree with me? Disagree? Drop me a line at news@thereminder.com or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.
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