Just 23 Inches of Information

The biggest stack, next to my desk in the State House, is about to capsize. But, it’s where you learn some interesting things.

Like, Massachusetts has the lowest dog ownership per capita of all 50 states. In fact, last week, we imported pre-owned dogs and puppies from North Carolina. That’s because our shelters don’t have enough dogs for adoption, thanks to a competent spaying and neutering program.

Or, nearly one out of six people in Massachusetts receive health care coverage under Medicaid. That means about a million people, at a cost of $5,100 per recipient. And that doesn’t begin to pay health care providers enough to cover costs. They’re shortchanged by $200-million annually.

Some 500,000 people used the Registry of Motor Vehicles web site to conduct their business last year. And, for fun, you can see all of the registry’s 52,132 vanity plates on line.

You also can now register your boat, snowmobile or ATV on line at masswildlife.org.

The Commonwealth has a new web page for you. To see it, go to Mass.gov on the internet. I don’t think it works as well as the old one, or that it is as attractive. But, it’s all yours to use.

In Hampden County, 61.9 percent of families own their own homes. U.S. average is 66.2 and Massachusetts average, 62.2. We’re 45 out of 50, due to high prices, according to MassInc’s American Dream Project.

Most people like the legislators who represent them, but dislike the legislature.

Send a vet a valentine. Next week is National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans Week, and you can drop your cards off at either the Holyoke Soldiers Home or the Veterans Hospital in Northampton.

There were 51 applicants, and Westfield received one of 18 recycling grants from the Department of Environmental Protection. The proposal: Book Collection and Redistribution and Russian Population Recycling Outreach.

The world’s elder population—people 65 or older—is increasing at the rate of 800,000 a month. Alas, the Census Bureau calls it "global aging." Americans can almost count on living until 76-78. Japan has the oldest average life expectancy (81).

The Boston cream donut is about to become the official donut of the commonwealth. The bill, S1606, is in third reading in the House.

Northampton State Hospital—which housed more than a thousand patients at one time--is on the endangered list, according to Historic Massachusetts. Built in 1855, it’s a rare example of mid-19th century Jacobethan style architecture.

Also on the endangered list are Massachusetts’ 75 remaining historic diners. They started as mobile lunch wagons about 1884 and evolved into the stationary ones we still see today. Springfield and Worcester had major manufacturers of diners.

During bear season, hunters killed 104 bruins, the second highest total on record. Seventeen on them were killed in Hampden County.

My favorite psychiatrist, who keeps me updated on legislative affairs of the mind, thinks that the new movie, "A Beautiful Mind," will help the public realize that people with mental illness can make contributions to society. He reminds me that the state budget is woefully lacking when it comes to mental illness and points out that the pain and suffering caused by mental illness far exceeds anything due to Anthrax.

The Wampanoag Tribe wants to get into the casino business in Massachusetts. They sent legislators letters—letters with Wampanoag spelled wrong. But it looks like the idea of casino gambling will once again come up in the legislature.

And, we are assured by Government Affairs Chairman Dan Bosley (D-North Adams) that the lottery drawing of 2-0-0-2 on the first day of this year was indeed legitimate. If you want the long explanation, I’ll mail it to you.

Quote for the week: "To succeed inside a political party, one must cultivate an ability to sit still and remain polite while foolish people speak nonsense." Morton C. Blackwell.

Only 20 more inches to go.

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