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Selectmen should've allowed vote on public safety officer

By G. Michael Dobbs
Managing Editor
The town meeting has long been touted as the oldest and purest form of the American democracy. Conceived at a time when the republic was only a toddler, the format allowed every voter a chance to be heard and to decide the path for a community.
As I've written here before, this type of government probably worked all right when towns were only large enough to fit most of the residents into a local church or town hall. I really believe it has outlived it usefulness for a town the size of East Longmeadow.
Then again, perhaps I am wrong as the force of a town meeting — residents staring eye to eye with their select board voting to approve their proposal — certainly seemed vital last week.
The story that has caught the widest attention from East Longmeadow recently has been the concept of merging the police chief and fire chief jobs into one position. The town's three select board members were in favor of the notion, although their support was not shared by all of the residents of the community.
The issue was supposed to come to a vote at the town meeting, but the select board, apparently due in part to the overwhelming sentiment against the proposal, pulled it.
That is democracy in action, right? Wrong. The select board should have allowed a vote on the idea to go forward. The residents came there to vote, not to be told the time for the merge is not now.
This move allows the issue to be brought back up at a later date when its proponents believe their odds at getting it passed are better. The members of the board just didn't want any political egg on their faces when handed a public rebuke. I'm sorry, but that comes with the job. Cowboy up, guys.
In my humble opinion, the proposal was pretty odd — to say the least — and would not be an asset to the public safety requirements of the community.
***

Inspired by those many home improvement and organizing shows, I started the process of going through our record albums.
Remember those? For my younger readers just search Wikipedia.
I must insert the proper disclaimer here: I'm not throwing out any of my wife's albums. She has to make that decision herself.
I have a phonograph in my home office, but I admit I seldom use it simply because I find it tough for me to write and listen to music with lyrics at the same time. I find myself typing the lyrics instead of what I should be putting down on the page.
So now, I'm going through a pile of albums that I haven't looked at for years. It's like opening a time capsule.
I've established three piles: one for those albums I'll keep and for transfer into a digital format — I've one of those turntables, too — one that is for trash and one that's for eBay. My goal is to have a smaller "keep" pile than any other and begin converting them into mp3 files and stored on CDs.
I'm convinced that, acknowledging the time in which a person was a teen, you can go into almost any home in American and find at least one or two common albums. I graduated from high school in 1972 and I bet people my age had, or still have, the first Led Zeppelin album, the first Santana album or a Crosby, Stills and Nash record.
So when sorting, I'm confronted with decisions. What do I do with a bunch of Cat Stevens albums? Will there ever be a time when I hunger for them? I think not.
On the other hand, relatively few of my Firesign Theatre albums are available on CD, so they are easy keepers. While I can live without Walter — now Wendy — Carlos' soundtrack album for the film "A Clockwork Orange," I pause over the Bernard Herrmann soundtrack albums. Where would I find those on CD?
Look up Bernard Herrmann, too, kids.
It's an easy decision to keep old radio broadcast such as Orson Welles staring as Dracula, as well as my considerable collection of Ventures LPs.
"Best of Wilson Pickett" — yes. "Best of Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels" — yes. Soundtrack for "The Flamingo Kid" — when did I get that? Into the "toss" pile it goes.
Looking through these records, I can readily remember whether or not I played my own groove into them or if I regretted buying them after listening to them once. Looking at some of the records spurs my mind to start playing them in my head.
"Men Without Hats" — what was I thinking?
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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