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30 percent raise for councilors is too much

Oct. 10, 2013 |

By G. Michael Dobbs news@thereminder.com Is just me, or do you think the raise the Springfield City Council gave themselves was just a tad, um, too much? When was the last time you received a nearly 30 percent increase in your pay? Let me rephrase the question: when was the last time you received anything more than 3 percent? If you want that kind of raise in income, the rule of thumb is that you have to get a new job. I agree the mayor’s salary needs to be increased. There have been plenty of legitimate arguments for that action. And I have no problem with an increase for councilors, but 30 percent? What the heck are they smoking? Can I get some? All kidding aside, all of the councilors who voted for this move have given their opponents, if they have them, a great talking point. In a city wracked with poverty, in a city that is so desperate for jobs they welcome a casino, in a city that is the favorite whipping boy for the anonymous suburban Masslive posters, why did these councilors think this was a good move at this time? This was bad policy and bad politics. I hope they re-consider what they’ve done when they vote again.
Heh, heh, heh, heh
You might have heard that two Holyoke city councilors – Todd McGee and Daniel Breshnahan – were talking trash before a council meeting and their remarks were caught by an open mic. Their observations were heard on a broadcast of the meeting and subsequently have been splashed over social media. They make some inappropriate remarks about fellow councilor Rebecca Lisi, dropped a couple of F-bombs and generally behaved like two guys talking while thinking no one could hear them. Why am I thinking of Beavis and Butt-Head? I think the term “chuckleheads” may be on the mark here. Perhaps that’s not strong enough. Here are two truths we all must live with: everyone says the wrong thing sometimes and thanks to increased digital technology and social media, those mistakes in judgment can be more easily recorded and disseminated now more than any other time in human history. I’m not excusing their remarks – far from it. I think they were crass, sexist and grossly inappropriate, but the situation should serve as a reminder to all of us that flip remarks said in an unguarded manner could easily come and bite us on our backside. The question for Holyoke voters is whether or not this is what they want from their City Council?
Thank you
I was amazed by the restoration of a beautiful mural that had been commissioned for the former Classical High School and for too many years existed in a less than satisfactory state. The artwork, “The Light of Education” by Robert Lewis Reid, was unveiled at the school in 1910 and now can be seen in the Central Library. The city owes thanks to all of the alumni of Classical High School who donated their time and money to make this a reality. The mural was originally paid for by alumni of the high school and cost $2,500 more than 100 years ago. I couldn’t help but wonder if people would be willing to include public art in new school buildings today. Now an expense of tax dollars would be prohibited by public opinion, but what if a group of people wanted to install a mural or sculpture and paid for through donations? Would that even be acceptable today? Could you imagine the furor if the artwork had some suggestion of social or political commentary? Frankly, I think artwork like that should be part of public buildings, especially schools. Children should see art as part of their lives. Agree? 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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