I'm back in the saddle and there are a lot of things to think about this week.
The official entry of State Treasurer Tim Cahill into the governor's race will make for a very lively election cycle. Cahill has won much admiration for how he has handled his duties so far and his defection from the Democratic Party will undoubtedly make him more attractive for voters looking for a change from the status quo in Bay State politics.
The guy who should be worried is Patrick as I imagine Cahill will have more impact on the traditional Democratic base rather than the Republican one. Although Cahill has had his critics, Patrick will have to slice through the negative buzz that surrounds him to point out what he has accomplished.
In Western Massachusetts, Patrick has been a real presence and I can't wonder if he is defeated if the next governor will pay us as much attention. I'm willing to bet a lunch at City Jake's that won't be the case. Patrick has treated the four western counties in a way that no governor in recent memory has done.
One political rule of thumb is not to annoy seniors who are a demographic group that regularly vote. In Chicopee, just about every city councilor and the mayor are breaking that rule.
The issue is when, if ever, the city will undertake the construction of a new senior center for the city's growing older population. The seniors have been clamoring for this issue for years and at a meeting last week, it was apparent that many of them are genuinely angry about it.
The underlying issue is, of course, money. Chicopee doesn't have it and would have to borrow it. At the same time, the city would need to bond for two school projects and probably for the much-needed renovations to the public safety complex.
In the next few weeks, the city should receive a report about whether or not a location near the former Facemate complex would be suitable for construction. Let's hope it is and that this project can finally get underway.
Any community in Western Massachusetts that has a Catholic church close due to the latest and hopefully last round of changes in the diocese is facing a real economic development question: how will these churches be reused?
My only hope is that the diocese will work with the cities and the neighborhoods to find solutions. I would hate to see all of these structures knocked down like Saint Joseph's was in the South End of Springfield and the site a home for another office structure.
These churches have meaning to their members and even if the new use is not for any religious purposes the structure's continued presence in the community helps preserve some of that meaning.
So just what were school officials in Longmeadow and Hampden fearful the president would tell students during his education speech last week?
Urging young people to be responsible and stay in school is a time-honored and a tad clich d standard theme for American politicians. Obama didn't say anything radically different than many other elected officials.
Could it be because Barack Obama is the most feared president since Franklin Roosevelt that local school officials decided it was safer not to potentially anger any parents?
If President Bush had made a speech with the same message would his words have been banned?
For me this was disgraceful.
Just like Roosevelt, Obama has inspired great admiration and great hatred and fear and in just the few months in which he has served as president.
There are people who want to believe that Obama isn't a citizen still. There are those who cling to the notion he advocates "death panels." There are those who think he is a Muslim dedicated to the destruction of the United States.
Oh yes and he's a black man. There are still a lot of white people who don't like the idea of a man of color guiding America.
While I don't see the president as a saint as many Depression era Americans viewed Roosevelt I certainly don't understand all of the blind hate he has inspired, except that his election has challenged the status quo of some of the nation's citizens.
The school kids were indeed taught a lesson that day, but I doubt it was a positive one.
This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments online to email@example.com or to 280 N. Main St.,East Longmeadow, Mass. 01028.
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