Longmeadow voters speak their mind on elected officials

Jan. 22, 2019 | G. Michael Dobbs

So, now the wishes of the majority of folks who attended and voted in the Longmeadow town meeting will have to rely on the actions of the Legislature to see if their effort to create a system to recall elected officials in town will become a reality.

Personally I believe that any elected official should be able to be removed if he or she commits an act that goes against the law or the wish of the voters.

Of course, violating the law is something that has some concrete parameters, but going against the will of the people is something that may be more difficult to define.

In this case, this entire brouhaha came about when a majority of the Longmeadow School Committee voted not to renew the contract of School Superintendent Marty O’Shea last November.

The members of the committee who did not support O’Shea cited a lack of communication between the superintendent and the committee and not enough progress meeting goals set for O’Shea.

The backlash was immediate, as O’Shea had received a largely favorable evaluation last May. Part of that pushback from O’Shea’s numerous supporters was the suggestion the four members of the School Committee should be removed from office.

Many people have stepped up to say that O’Shea has been an effective superintendent, including three members of the School Committee.

Anyone in public office understands that part of the discharge of their duties is to reflect the majority view of their constituents, but at the same time they are often called upon to vote and advocate for causes that they, not the people they represent, endorse.

This, apparently, has been the case of the four members who voted against O’ Shea.

Rather than wait for candidates to run against the four, the townspeople sought a means to redress what many of them thought was wrong. Of course, it will take a while for the procedure to change the town charter.

In the mean time, the School Committee will start a search for a new superintendent and O’ Shea will have months to work with the committee that doesn’t want him – not the best of kind of working conditions.

Perhaps they will re-consider their decision.

When I was a mere boy and a beardless youth, the telephone company was seen as a soul-crushing monopoly. There were sprinkled throughout the country small independent telephone companies, such as the one in Granby, that on paper prevented the Bell System from being considered a monopoly.

Of course, it was a monopoly until 1983 when the Justice Department broke the system up.

Cable television isn’t a monopoly either, as there is still over-the-air broadcast TV, as well as two companies supplying television programming through satellite delivery.

However, there are few places – and none here – where cable companies compete for service and subscribers in the same community.

And with package deals that include TV, telephone and broadband service, cable companies have become more essential in the eyes of many subscribers.

In Chicopee one city councilor, Joel McAuliffe, is asking for a meeting with Charter representatives to discuss issues city residents have with the company.

This is not the first time the request has been made by a city councilor in Chicopee.

It’s a valid request and one that should take in every community with cable.

Many people are seeking a way to “cut the cord” – my wife and I did so years ago – and cable should understand that providing better service at competitive pricing is essential to its future.

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