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Who cares if we can smell what Barack is cooking?

Who cares if we can smell what Barack is cooking?
Over in Chicopee last week, Mayor Michael Bissonnette and his department heads presented their plans for a dramatic re-organization of the city's services where they are housed and how they are grouped that if it ever is realized would really be a boon to both the residents and businesses.
The Board of Aldermen and the School Committee heard about a new senior center, a re-use of the former Chicopee High School as a middle school which would free up much needed space in the city's schools, and a new all inclusive home for the Department of Public Works.
What I heard certainly made sense, but I was concerned that a majority of the audience left before Police Chief John Ferrero and Fire Chief Stephen Burkott could make their presentations. They took a cue from Bissonnette that the meeting was over, but then the chiefs were asked to speak.
The Public Safety facility needs a lot of improvements on the police side and the Cabot Street Fire Station is so old it can't fit modern fire equipment.
Perhaps the Board of Aldermen left about four stayed because they had heard the pleas before. Ferrero told me he has been telling the Board about his problem for at least seven years.
So why hasn't anybody acted? Most elected officials love to make sure that public safety is adequately funded and has the proper resources, as that is a bedrock political issue.

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My buddy Joe is an apolitical fellow but even he was offended by the three presidential candidates playing to wrestling fans recently with taped appearances on the WWE "Monday Night Raw." He tipped me off to the recent pop culture event.
If you missed this moment of political theater, Sen. Hillary Clinton asked to be called "Hill-Rod," while Sen. Barack Obama asked, "Do you smell what Barack is cooking?"
Sen. John McCain borrowed Hulk Hogan's line, "Whatcha gonna do when John McCain and all his McCainiacs run wild on you?"
Well, this kind of effort to make presidential candidates look like they are in with common folks and understand popular culture is nothing new. On Sept. 16, 1968 in the middle of his campaign for the presidency Richard Nixon appeared on the hit comedy show "Laugh-In" and delivered one of the show's famous catch-phrase lines "Sock it to me!"
I remember seeing it as a kid and Nixon said the line as a question emphasizing the word "me."
It was a near surreal moment as Nixon was possibly the least hip guy in the nation and here he was appearing on what passed as a risqu , counter-culture show.
I think Nixon loved this stuff. After all he invited Elvis Presley to the White House when Presley who abused prescription drugs wanted be appointed a special narcotics agent!
Politicians frequently do things either to court publicity or to demonstrate their common touch. Vice-President Harry Truman posed at the piano with sultry Lauren Bacall in 1945. Taciturn President Calvin Coolidge wore a Native American headdress for news photographers in the mid-1920s.
So it's a time-honored tradition to do something silly. Except maybe this isn't the time for silliness.
You know, there are a lot of people in this country worrying about their jobs, how they are going to pay their fuel and food bills and wondering about the open-ended conflict in Iraq. Do you think they care about candidates caterign to the pro wrestling vote? Do you?

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The readers of the "Valley Advocate" voted my friend Bill Duffy who runs the Springfield Intruder Web site "Best in the Valley." Congrats, Bill!
If you're not a blog reader you should start the habit with Bill's site, www.springfieldintruder.com and then make sure you log onto sites such as Victor Davila's Latino View http://latinoview.blogspot.com, Michaelann Bewsee's Michaelann Land http://michaelannland.blogspot.com, Ralph Slate's great blog on local history http://www.springfield-history.com/, and of course Tom Devine's blog as well as Heather Brandon's Urban Compass.

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A tip of the hat to the Maple High Six Corners Neighborhood Council that organized a free bulk pick-up day for the Springfield neighborhood just over a week ago. The council paid for several dumpsters to be placed at the Brookings School and residents came with their large items. Nearly four-and-a-half tons of trash was collected. That's a great service to the community.

This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments online to Reminderpublications.com or to 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, Mass. 01028.


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