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.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Trash Fee--Not!

Today I got an early Christmas present from Massachusetts Judge Constance Sweeney.

Those readers who follow my blog are aware that, several months ago, the City of Springfield decided to impose a trash fee on all property owners. Springfield is so broke and mismanaged that it's being run by a Control Board out of Boston. The idea behind the trash fee was that it would raise $4.5 million to balance the budget. Those in favor argued that we were in such a bind that we could no longer afford "free" trash service.

Excuse me? Free? I paid $2972 in property taxes last year to the City of Springfield, and my understanding was that trash service was one of the things I was paying for. One of the very few things I got, in fact.

State Representative Cheryl Coakley-Rivera and others agreed with me. A suit was filed against the City, and a few days ago, Judge Constance Sweeney issued a temporary injunction against the City collecting the trash fee, contending that the fee was in fact a tax, in violation of the state constitution. A full hearing is scheduled for next month.

Today I got this letter in the mail, telling me not to pay the fee. Those who have already paid (not me!!) will have their money held in escrow pending the final desicion of the court. I stuck the letter up on my file cabinet, where it's being held firmly in place by magnetic stickers which read "Freedom of speech means the freedom to disagree" and "A patriot must be ready to defend his country against his government."

Judge Sweeney is the same official who, in 2002, ordered Cardinal Bernard Law, then Archbishop of Boston, to testify in the case of pedophile priest John Geoghan. Cardinal Law ended up resigning his post in Boston over the flak. Luckily for him, he got to remain a cardinal (the Vatican turned a blind eye toward his harboring of pedophiles in his archdiocese, and rewarded him instead for his "hard work"). He's now basking in the Italian sun as archpriest of the Patriarchal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.

Cardinal Law is out of the reach of American justice. But I doubt that the City of Springfield will be able to use the protection of the Vatican to flee the country. We'll have to wait and see what the final outcome will be for the trash fee. I'm not impressed by Mayor Ryan, and I'm not impressed by the Control Board. But as long as there are clear-minded public officials like Judge Sweeney dispensing justice, there's hope for Springfield, Massachusetts.


Anonymous Christopher said...

Since you don't read news magazines, you probably don't know that you're one of the people of the year.

So am I. So is every blogger or wikipedia meddler and so forth. The masses who provide free interactive internet content constitute Time's rather collectivist People of the Year for 2006.

So congrats on your share of this honor.

7:59 PM  

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