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Deval, we need equity in hospital funding

Deval, we need equity in hospital funding mikestumblebum.gif
By G. Michael Dobbs Managing Editor By some standards this is the slowest news time of the year. The Legislature is in its post budget stupor. Some small town governments have gone to a reduced meeting schedule on the theory that there isn't any need to meet. And most folks are away on vacation. Sometimes conventional wisdom isn't so wise. The small towns that have reduced meetings seem to do so out of a hangover from the agricultural days when the townspeople were mainly farmers and their focus was on the crops. There are precious few farms these days in places such as East Longmeadow or Longmeadow. The Legislature will have plenty to do with evaluating the governor's vetoes and whether or not any will be overridden. And who the heck is "away" these days? I mean other than a week or two? Most people can't afford to go "away" with the increasing cost of living. So if you shove conventional wisdom aside, there are some interesting stories unfolding. Gov. Patrick has been in Western Massachusetts certainly more than Mitt Romney and probably Jane Swift combined and he has finished his first term. The question is whether or not Patrick has been a good governor for this region. At the town meeting in Holyoke (go to www.thereminder.com for the story),Patrick answered a question about Holyoke Medical center that was in essence "Don't worry. We're work something out." What we need is a complete re-working of the way hospitals are funded and it needs to be fair. It's insulting and unacceptable that east Massachusetts hospitals are treated better than ours. I also hope the Open Pantry gets the earmark it needs as well so it can continue its services to the poor and working poor. Although I went through the vetoes it wasn't apparent to me if Western Massachusetts bore the brunt of the cuts. I do know one thing, though: Western Massachusetts has always had quicker slide down an economic downturn and a more difficult climb back up once conditions have improved. Do the governor's cuts help us or hurt us? Here's another story which is very important Holyoke Mayor Michael Sullivan has announced his decision not to seek re-election. Having worked in Holyoke for many years, I can say without hesitation that Sullivan has been the most outstanding mayor for the Paper City that I can remember. He has exhibited a level of dedication that is almost unparalleled. What can you say about a guy who picks up trash around his City Hall? Who knows where the city's crime spots are located and their current status? Who meets with the city's industry owners and managers on a regular basis to see what they city can do to help them? And does the same with downtown retailers? Certainly his time has been marked with some controversy, but on a whole Sullivan has been a highly effective leader who has worked to improve the city by understanding it must move forward rather than try to cling to its past. He will be missed and Holyoke residents now have a big issue to discuss: who will govern the city and in what format as Sullivan has suggested Holyoke might want to talk about changing its charter. A tip of the summer Panama hat to the Springfield Department of Public Works (DPW) who came to our street's rescue promptly when I called about a missing storm drain cover. Someone decided the cover must have some value I'm not sure why and took it from the drain at the corner of Spruce and Central Streets. Lucky the Wonder Bichon was leading me on our morning walk one day last week when we saw the gaping hole just ready to bust some unsuspecting driver's axle. The DPW has taken a temporary measure and I'm sure will find a replacement for the missing cover. Of course, the question presents itself: why steal such a thing? This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments to mdobbs@thereminder.com or to 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, Mass. 01028.
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