A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Out of Control

This week, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney filed legislation to extend the existence of the state-run Control Board which has taken over the City of Springfield, ostensibly to help us balance our budget. The Board had been scheduled to cease operation next year. This bill would extend its life to four more years.

The legislation would also extend the powers of the Control Board. Insurance for city employees would be taken over by a state agency. A city-owned parking garage would be taken over by state authority as well. A "trash fee" of $90 per year would be levied on residents, on top of the taxes that all homeowners pay. The control board would get the powers now held by the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Planning Board, and the Historic District Commission "to streamline the process for obtaining city permits and make it easier for potential developers."

Springfield is in a mess--that's a fact. And the city government is notoriously corrupt. Mayor Charles V. Ryan, back again after serving three terms in the mid-sixties, is old and feeble and should just go away. He ruined Springfield his first time in office by leveling many historic structures, leaving us with a hideous jumble of undistinguished concrete and parking lots. Now he's back at it again, relieving us of "eyesores" and "tax burdens."

Taking control away from the city, however, and giving it to the state is no improvement. Control Board members are getting $100k and up--plus travel expenses--to come out west and slash indiscriminately at the budget. They have no intimate knowledge of the city's strengths, and no sensitivity to her history. When they're done "helping," what will be left? Lots of attractively-priced real estate for Boston developers to scoop up as Springfield citizens flee.


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