It’s a Long, Long Way to January

Despite my announcement that I won’t seek re-election, there are, as my favorite poet said, "miles to go before I sleep." No, you’re not rid of me yet!

In fact, it was one of the busiest weeks of the year on Beacon Hill. I said busy. Which doesn’t necessarily mean productive. Just busy.

What does a Representative do when there’s only one full formal session with votes? And, by the way, probably just a session called because the Freshman class was having an Irish lunch for their colleagues in the member’s lounge that day. They all think they’re Irish. Patricia O’Haddad, Paul O’Tirone, Deborah O’Blummer. You get the idea.

Ahh, an Irish lunch. After all, everyone is gearing up for St. Patrick’s Day. Or, St. Patrick’s Day weekend, might phrase it better. Beer and blarney, corned beef and cabbage, parades and politicians hitting the streets.

But, all that’s best left for another year. Back to the Blarney on Beacon Hill portion of this column. I could sum most of it up with one word. Money. Except for the free food, always available in the State House. Breakfast from Mass Nurses Association, breakfast from the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council, and the Jewish Community Relations Council, dinner courtesy of Rep. Ron Mariano, lunch in honor of a retiring staffer’s birthday. No wonder Representatives are said to gain 25 pounds in their first term in office.

Best dinner of the week? Wednesday night, at Genesis Spiritual Life Center here in Westfield. Not on Beacon Hill, and not free, but worth every penny. That’s when Constanty Chrzanowski was honored for placing his farm into conservancy, to preserve its acres on Shaker Road as open space forever.

Lobby days. I mentioned the Jewish Council, and Mass Nurses. Just two examples. Of course the Coalition for the $750-million Environmental Bond appeared, as well, advocating for passage of the Bond, which my committee on Long Term Debt has approved already. Being familiar with it, I could pretty much ignore them.

But I couldn’t ignore the nurses, who are looking for lower patient loads and more support from HMO’s to sum it up. The disabled, who want a lot of things, including bills to provide $25,000 base pay for direct car workers, to ban painful aversive therapy, and more say in where they get to live, as well as a big chunk of money in the budget.

People concerned about legal aid marched on the State House. And the AAUW was there to honor women legislators. There was a vigil for children who have died from child abuse.

As Ranking Republican on the Committee for Long Term Debt, I attended seven hour long hearings, covering bonds and capital expenditures, for higher education, UMass, environmental affairs, human services, housing, public safety and information technology. Also, an executive session when we approved a $220-million bond issue for transportation.

And, as usual, there was constituent work, phone calls to answer, letters to answer, lobbyists to meet with, and citations to prepare. Citations for the Sons of Erin Irish man and woman of the year, as well as for the Colleen and her court, and a special one for the Westfield YMCA’s own Harry Rock, who turned 50 this week.

Did I mention Friday’s Chamber of Commerce St. Patrick’s Day breakfast? And, oh yes, I taped WGBY’s political program, "The State We’re In." I think you’ll see it Sunday morning. I refuse to watch myself on TV, so let me know what I said.

Hey, it all got done. And more. It all happened. And I lived to tell about it.

I tell you about it today only because the most frequently asked question I get is, "What does a Representative do?" And, now you know.

An aside for my constituents who have worked with my Legislative Assistant Carla Moran, over seven of my years in office. Carla this week took a promotion and will be leaving my office to become Chief of Staff to Representative Pat Walrath of Stow, who is a division chair and a member of Speaker Finneran’s leadership team. You will miss Carla. But not as much as I will!

Westfield’s own Tim Cheever, who has been on my staff four years this week (March 12th he reminds me) becomes my new Chief of Staff. And he is truly deserving of his new title.

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