Just Some Things to Think About

It’s good to see former Westfield State Representative Steve Pierce in the corner office on Beacon Hill. As Chief Counsel to Governor Jane Swift, talk in some Boston circles has him running with Swift as her Lieutenant Governor.

It’s not many cities, by the way, that have a 20- year span of holding the post of State Representative still in the State House. You have former Representative Pierce, former Rep. and current Senator Mike Knapik, and me all working for you.

Speaking of Beacon Hill, one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in the country…the 10,000 residents sure have messy garbage. Even though it’s picked up three times a week you’d be amazed at how much loose stuff blows around those exclusive streets. Someone should tell them about garbage bags.

As of the beginning of this week, Westfield Housing head Dan Kelley tells me, there wasn’t a single Westfield resident on the waiting list for elderly housing. And, Westfield residents get first crack.

You seldom see chubby runners. Can people run because they’re lean, or are they lean because they run?

Why would we want to keep oxycontin away from people with serious pain just because thugs swipe it and abuse it? It’s like taking guns away from law abiding citizens, leaving only criminals with guns.

Don’t send me any e-mail with the word "fun" in it. The House computer gurus will intercept it. We’re not quite into the world of advanced technology there. The committee looking into expanded computer use is called the Automation Committee.

In Illinois, drivers 87 and older have to take a road test every year. After 80, only every two years.

My grandson is already modeling his Halloween costume. He’ll be the cutest 2-year-old pumpkin in Concord.

In a belt-tightening mood, the Commonwealth could save a lot of money on publications. Latest example–the summer edition the Office of Child Care Services newsletter arrived on my desk last week. No, we don’t need information on keeping our kids out of the sun in October. And we don’t need so many totally useless, news less, but incredibly glossy and expensive publications that every agency and office seems to publish.

The Chemistry Technology had another day in the State House last week. All but one of the manufacturers in attendance were from Western Massachusetts.

If you have a summer home, call the cable company, phone company, and utility company–most offer seasonal rates, with big monthly savings over the coming months.

Bird watching is the fastest growing outdoor activity in the country. The Washington Post says 25 percent of us watch birds.

Two letters on my desk last week. One, from the American Cancer Society urging me to vote for an additional 50 cent tax on packages of cigarets to reduce youth smoking and put more money into health coverage. The other from the association representing all our gas stations and convenience stores. They want me to vote against the tax, saying cigarets are an important part of their business.

In answer to your questions, you’ll find the Westfield Evening News mega-series on refugees in the archives for May of 1999.

There are at least three Hahns in politics now. Your favorite Representative, of course, and Jim Hahn, the new Los Angeles mayor, who sent me a nice note and bumper sticker after his election. On the local level, Joyce Hahn is a Park and Rec board member in my husband’s hometown of Hadley. Of course, she’s related. But not Jim.

Hadley, by the way, is raising money to put flags and flag holders on the town’s poles. For about $55 you can sponsor a flag, complete with a plaque on the pole to honor a relative.

The Legislature still hasn’t approved the budget. The longer we wait the worse it gets. A week ago, we thought we’d have a $300 to $400-million deficit. Now, it looks more like a $1.1-billion gap between revenues and expenditures.

Things are so bad financially that the Speaker called an almost unheard of joint caucus of Democrats and Republicans to talk about it behind closed doors. Meanwhile, the conference committee–three Representatives and three Senators–are working to iron out differences between House and Senate budgets and find ways to cut the flow of red ink.

It’s a slow season for complaints, I guess. My Westfield telephone set a low record last month–only 106 calls from constituents. We can’t track them in Boston. But you’d be surprised how often people who want a return call forget to leave their phone numbers. Or even their names.

Think your fingers are sensitive enough to read Braille? Try the alphabet card from the Perkins School in Watertown. But, why is it on the ATM at the bank’s drive through window?

With only about three weeks left in the legislative season for 2001, we’ll be seeing more action on the House floor. Hopefully. I’ll keep you posted.

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