In The Arena

In the Arena: What’s on my mind

Nobody asked me but …

I’m not sure it makes a lot of sense for the chairman of any board of selectmen to pick a fight with an organization that buys its ink by the gallon.

From the “short memory” file — Greenfield Mayor Bill Martin says he wishes ServiceNet’s new Wells Street downtown homeless shelter would come with some additional money for increased fire and police protection, conveniently forgetting that he was the one who once diverted $500,000 from those budgets to go to the school department to cover salary increases.

I love the idea of Greenfield elections being held in the fall every other year, but I’m not totally sold on the concept of four-year Town Council terms, unless there is a mechanism to ensure that if someone resigns six months in, their seat isn’t occupied by an essentially nonelected replacement for the next 31∕2 years.

Two rising political stars to keep your eye on this year: Greenfield Town Councilors Mark Maloni and Keith Zaltzberg. They are critical thinkers who seem to understand the big picture. That became apparent during the recent debate over James Allen’s failed reappointment to the Planning Board.

Before we leave “Everyone’s Hometown,” did anyone else enjoy seeing Main Street shut off to through traffic for this past weekend’s Sidewalk Sales? I wouldn’t mind that as a regular feature a couple of times a year. Can you say “Greenfield Pumpkinfest?”

Baystate Franklin Medical Center’s decision to lay off nine registered nurses may not have anything to do with the contract squabbles, but I’m guessing it’s not going to make it any easier to sign a new agreement.

Speaking of union disputes, nothing screams calm, emotion-free negotiations like banning a Mass. Teachers Association representative from setting foot on Greenfield school grounds for a full year. Can you say “overreaction?”

Something tells me the Frontier Regional School District could have conducted a year-long nationwide search, and they still wouldn’t have been able to come up with a better choice for superintendent than Martha Barrett. We can only hope Greenfield gets that lucky a year from now.

Is it me, or does the Montague Police Department seem to be on a bit of a hot streak when it comes to catching bad guys? I’m especially happy to see that since I’m a resident.

And for those of who never thought they’d hear the words “Greenfield Police Chief Dan McCarthy” spoken together — told you so.

Speaking of crime and punishment, am I the only one who is not spitting blood today over Rolling Stone Magazine’s decision to put the surviving Boston Marathon bomb suspect on the front cover? Didn’t they do a cover story on Charlie Manson a few years ago? Maybe it’s me.

For those of you having withdrawal from the scintillating Ed Markey Senate campaign, you can take comfort in the knowledge that we’ll get to relive it all again next year, assuming the GOP can find a warm body willing to throw themselves into that political wringer.

If Markey is smart, the first thing he’ll do in the Senate is get on board with counterpart Elizabeth Warren’s push to restore the Glass-Steagall Act, which may be the best idea she has had since entering professional politics.

Gov. Gabriel Gomez? Sorry, I don’t see it, anymore than I do a President Deval Patrick, which begs the question — if he’s not running, why does Patrick needs a political action committee chaired by the former head of the state Democratic Party?

And while we are on the subject of our lame duck chief executive, Patrick seems genuinely surprised by the Legislature’s refusal to go along with his plan to raise the gas tax to offset potential losses in revenue when the Pike tolls supposedly come down in 2017. But that’s what happens when your focus shifts from governing to legacy building, while your legislative counterparts still have to focus on getting re-elected and running the state with at least a modicum of fiscal self-control.

Speaking of the gas tax, the “under the radar” political move of the year was the Legislature’s decision to tie future gas tax increases to the rate of inflation. This pretty much guarantees that they will never have to debate or vote on it again.

As the Church Lady from “Saturday Night Live” might say, “how convenient!”

Chris Collins is the Franklin County News Bureau Chief for WHAI, WPVQ and WHMP Radio. He is a former staff reporter for The Recorder, and is a Greenfield native.

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