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Public sector jobs should have expiration date

By G. Michael Dobbs
Managing Editor
May 9. 2011
There are many legacies a successful a public official can leave and for Holyoke Police Chief Anthony Scott perhaps the most prominent has been the decrease of crime in the Paper City.
I think, though, even more significant than that has been his on-going criticism of the judiciary. Scott expressed his frustration many times over a re-occurring scenario: his officers would arrest a dangerous criminal and the courts would release that person with a low bail, allowing him or her to commit more crimes.
I'm sure, privately, every police chief in the Commonwealth agreed with much of what Scott had to say.
In the new issue of Commonwealth, the magazine published by the Boston-based think tank, MassINC, is a fascinating and somewhat horrifying article about the power of clerk magistrates.
Go to www.commonwealthmagazine.org and read the story "Reigning Supreme." To say the least, it is an eye-opener.
I'm not saying clerk magistrates as a whole aren't doing their job properly, but no one should have a job for life, unless, of course, they own their own business.
There isn't a position in the public sector that shouldn't have an expiration date.
If the governor and the Legislature are actually concerned about strengthening the state's public ethics, then revising how clerk magistrates are appointed and establishing a length of term of office should be a priority.
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If you are a political junkie such as myself, sitting at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner would be a dream come true. That's why I watched the video of the president speaking as well as the address delivered by "Saturday Night Live's" Seth Meyers.
Both men were pretty funny and their aim was very wide.
Imagine my surprise when I was watching "ABC World News with Diane Sawyer" to hear the remarks made by the president were primarily targeted at Donald Trump. Had they watched the same video I did?
People have complained about slants in the news since the dawn of this nation. In this case, the powers-that-be had decided that the remarks made about Trump by both the president and Meyers were the most significant. They weren't.
What the network was doing was pushing a steel cage death match between Obama and Trump, rather than reporting what actually happened which, by the way included quite a roasting of Vice President Joe Biden by Obama himself.
If the network had reported the president took potshots at himself and Biden as well as Trump, the story would have been more accurate, but it wouldn't have been as artificially dramatic. Heaven help us if we actually had a president with a sense of humor and perspective and the press could report that.
***

One of my Facebook friends, a person who has spent years working in media and who should know better, recently took me to task saying my columns lacked balance.
Perhaps it's time for a brief lesson from Newspapers 101. I would just like to acknowledge that in theory at least he is right. I've now made his day, but he should read on.
This is a column. It is not a news story. In the 11 years I've been working here there have been very few instances in which my stories have been criticized for not presenting multiple points of view. I try very hard to do what a reporter should do.
As a columnist, though, I have the free rein to present a point of view that is my own. It is not necessarily the opinion of the Buendo brothers who own this 'paper or the staff's or the advertisers'. I'm pretty damn clear about that.
In many of my columns, I list my sources for facts behind my opinions and I write things to solicit reaction and create a dialogue. I'd rather have that style than simply present some sort of ideological screed.
Apparently my friend doesn't read my columns close enough to understand what I've been doing.
Now there are some readers who hate every word I write and are happy to tell me so. There are also some readers who love every word I write and have told me so. There are also some who I'm sure agree with me some weeks and disagree with me others.
That is what life is working in media in these United States and I gladly accept it.
So, as always, if you have an opinion and wish to express it about this column or anything else send me a letter of about 500 words at news@thereminder.com. Unless it is libelous, it should be printed.
And I don't care if it's "balanced" it's your opinion.
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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