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Will voters seek an independent governor?

How much do Massachusetts voters really want independent voices in state government? That question was posed by the Scott Brown candidacy. Now the campaign of Treasurer Tim Cahill for governor is presenting a second, more definitive, test. Brown ran as a Republican, while Cahill is outside of either party. When I attended an Agawam Town Republican Committee meeting earlier this year Christy Mihos told the group of the importance of bringing Tea Party members into the Republican Party. Although many of the Tea Party types I've seen and met act like hard right Republicans at least the signs they carry would indicate that position I've also been told repeatedly they are independents willing to support candidates on the basis of issues rather than party. I'm guessing the Republican establishment sees this movement toward unenrolled status as a threat to their status quo. Cahill's central message is one that should do well with fiscal conservatives of any party: lower taxes to increase business activities and jobs. What fascinates me is how the Republicans have targeted Cahill with a first-class smear effort. Someone is obviously frightened by him.
I pity any massage place that has some connection to Asia in its name or marketing, because now in this area, anything with the words "Asian" and "massage" in the same phrase will signal a thought about illegal activities. Last week's bust of another Asian "massage" business this one being Asian Foot Massage in Agawam once again brings up the issue of the effect of prostitution on communities. Little did I know when I traveled up the Walnut Street Extension to the cigar shop I frequent that there were those kinds of things happening in this busy retail area. And the question in my mind is how much do we spend to try to stamp out the World's Oldest Profession and is it really worth it? According to the report I read, the arrest of owner Tong Wang was the result of a three-month investigation involving Agawam police and federal law enforcement members. Clearly, this was a pretty intensive police effort. Now no one really wants to go the dentist, buy pet food or patronize a restaurant next to some sort of sex operation. The Walnut Street Extension area is a busy retail district. One must admit, though, the demand for this sort of service is a constant in the human experience. That's why I lean libertarian on this issue. Let's legalize it, regulate it and tax it as they do in Holland and in counties in Nevada. Make no mistake, I'm not advocating for Agawam to be a center of this activity so don't get mad at me, Mayor Cohen. Policing it has had limited results. As one Springfield police captain told me a few years ago, streetwalkers in Springfield who were arrested were frequently back on the job the same night. That's a waste of police budgets. If we really want to deal with this problem we have to come up with a statewide strategy that actually solves the problem. This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments online to news@thereminder.com or to 280 North Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028.
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