You’re the Most Important Part of the Job

It’s thrilling to sit at my desk in the House Chamber and listen to debates and to vote.

It’s exiting, although difficult, to work on the state’s budget each year.

It’s also wonderful to sit behind a hearing desk and listen to testimony on a variety of bills.

Just walking into the State House each day makes me proud to be your Representative in this country’s oldest, continuously operating legislative body.

But, today, forget about thrilling, exciting, wonderful and enlightening, and talk about you, the constituent. Because you, and the other people who live in Montgomery and Westfield, are the most important part of the job.

Almost daily, we get at least one constituent request in our offices. They involve every possible state agency.

Over the past eight years I think we—my aides Tim Cheever, Carla Moran and John Carlstrom and myself—have handled almost every situation, every possible jam that a person can get into when it comes to state government.

We can usually get the answers people want when it comes to Title V—septic tank—problems. We can usually help if you have a problem with the Fast Pass system, if you are indeed innocent. We can even get you going in the right direction if your spouse has neglected to pay child support.

If it’s a court problem, we can’t help—remember, three branches of government, executive, judicial, legislative.

And I have yet to hear from a family with a legitimate complaint when a child or grandchild has been removed from the home.

While cleaning out my files, I’ve destroyed thousands of your calls for help. But I did make a few notes to let you know some of the requests and complaints that have come in over the years.

Complaints about the high cost of prescriptions (we suggest the state’s prescription insurance plan); lack of fuel cells in Massachusetts (we sent copies of pending legislation and research); air quality at Westfield State (it’ll be better when construction is done).

Other subjects have included child support, seeking a government pardon for past crimes, negotiated—but not funded—raises for college employees

And, of course, complaints about bridges, from the Great River Bridge to the Route 57 bridge, from Horton’s to Route 20. Lack of a bus stop in front of the Council on Aging.

People arrested who want to be free. People in jail who want out for funerals. And people who want to be buried in the new veterans’ cemetery in Agawam.

Businesses that got stop work orders, and fines of $100 a day, because they didn’t have workers compensation insurance. Drivers fined when their vehicles lost hazardous materials following an accident.

Incompetence of contractors, doctors in a correctional facility, and plowboys who knock down mailboxes. The loss of teacups sent to a restoration company that went out of business.

People who want jobs; people who want better jobs. People who do not want helicopters flying over Westfield. And people who are homeless.

Questions about unearned income tax rates, funding for a variety of state projects and programs, the high cost of nursing homes, and why the cable stations in Western Mass don’t broadcast House sessions.

People who like the MCAs tests. And people that don’t. Ditto charter schools. Lack of special ed services that parents felt they were entitled to. And lack of appropriate school bus stops. New drivers education regulations.

A farmer worried about coyotes attacking his cattle. Familes who want to get their husbands into the Holyoke Soldiers Home. And people who think their state pensions or other payments are incorrect.

Lost or misplaced state professional licenses. Requests to get a driver’s license taken away from an elder. Requests for maps of Boston.

Non-compete clauses in employment contracts; high cost of heating bills; how to get someone state certified as mentally incompetent; speeding up applications for dealer plates; need to increase reimbursements for notaries public.

Rejections of firearms identification cards; permits you need to trap beavers; there’s a pedophile in the neighborhood; need to update and make the Westfield Armory handicapped accessible; frustrated physicians trying to get mental health coverage for patients.

Fraudulent redemption of bottles and cans; services for autistic children; use of Ski-Dos on Hampton Ponds; telemarketing calls; disposition of needlesticks; life in a trailer park.

And a lot of complaints about the Big Dig.

Now, some problems we solved; some we couldn’t. But, we always tried, and we always learned something.

Next week: Some of the most memorable constituents.

All materials copyright 1997 - 2014