Holyoke may be a city, but it’s really a village

May 10, 2021 | G. Michael Dobbs

I believe in transparency, so I want to reveal that I wasn’t the biggest fan of former Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, especially in the final year or so of his tenure in Holyoke.

I realized that despite trying to treat him fairly in his effort to unseat Congressman Richard Neal – I’m willing to bet he would dispute that – he refused to meet with me about the launch of our Holyoke Reminder and he wasn’t the most cooperative with news stories.

Okay, it is his right to not cooperate with reporters and it’s his right to be angry with someone like me. Such situations go along with the territory of this business.

In politics, though, gestures matter and what he has done is one unmistakable gesture.

So before I go further and before fans of the former mayor start sending angry email, let me just say what Morse did is lawful. I’m not accusing him of anything illegal or unethical.

I’m accusing him of doing something petty and cynical.

The news that Morse contributed nearly all of his unspent campaign money to charitable organizations on the Cape is an excellent way to burn all of the bridges left in his hometown. He only gave $4,000 of the more than $60,000 to the dog park in South Hadley. There was nothing to any non-profit effort in Holyoke.

According to a Facebook post, Morse made a contribution to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts from the sale of the two homes he had in Holyoke. Again, while he chose a charity that does work in Holyoke, he didn’t help a Holyoke-based organization.

It’s a textbook political move, though. Morse is no longer part of the Paper City so his contributions simply are an acknowledgment the Cape is now his political base. The money donated to good causes there is a smart start to the next chapter in his political career.

It also sends a message he has washed his hands of the hometown for which he has professed so much love.  

I worked in Holyoke for years. I really like the town, its people and history. It has enormous development potential. Pat Bresnahan, a very wise Holyoke native, once told me when I started my gig as a talk show host on WREB in 1982 I would do fine as long as I realized Holyoke may be a city but it is really a village.

People are related through family, business and social activities. Friendships – and feuds – can run deeply. And Alex Morse was part of that village.

Perhaps Morse was motivated in part because he didn’t carry his hometown in the congressional race. It is always a slap in the face of a candidate if he or she can’t win where they live.

He could have done one of two things: said goodbye to the people of Holyoke in a truly meaningful way or insult them.

He chose the latter.

I know this will not be a popular opinion with some people who are ardent Morse supporters, many of whom I respect. Let me ask you – and them – a question: if you were advising Morse would you have recommended this course of action?

Trying more products

My wife and I are continuing our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and to eliminate plastic from our lives. I though some of you might appreciate an update.

I’m happy to report that Big Y, Aldi’s and Price Rite are all carrying toilet paper made from bamboo or bamboo and sugar cane rather than trees. Bamboo is a fast-growing grass and is far more sustainable than trees.

I still have to order facial tissues made from bamboo for www.grove.co but I wouldn’t be surprised if that product will turn up locally as well.

We have invested in more reusable caps for Mason jars from https://www.recapmasonjars.com. These caps turns a mason jar into a sprayer or dispenser for all sorts of cleaners, hand soap, etc. You can buy a refill of something rather than another spray bottle or plastic dispenser. They are pretty cool.

We will be trying a new laundry detergent that comes in a very minimal plastic but recyclable package that is used with a dispenser that measures out the exact amount one needs. This is also from grove.co. I’ll let you know how that works out.   

Finally, we are allowing part of our backyard to go natural. The reason is two-fold: lawns take up a lot of resources to maintain and a “wild” area allows beneficial insects and other creatures to have a place to flourish.

We are just trying to do our part in reducing our impact on the earth. I hope you will consider such moves as well.

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