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In The Arena

In the Arena: This is what you get

I have three words for the pro-growth Greenfield residents who are wringing their hands at the prospect of Jim Allen being dumped from the Planning Board.

Elections have consequences.

The Greenfield Town Council next week is likely to go along with an Appointments and Ordinances subcommittee’s unanimous recommendation against reappointing Allen, a nine-year Planning Board veteran who also happens to be a strong supporter of bringing to town a big-box discount retail store.

Committee members insist that it is not Allen’s pro-big box stance that has them concerned, but his attitude toward the people who have opposed the project. And, if you believe that one, I’ve got some prime development land along the French King Highway to sell you.

Of course this is about Allen’s pro big-box position and don’t believe for a minute that he will be the last of his kind purged from the system. That is one of the perks of being in power. You get to decide who sits on the various policy boards — where a lot of the real governing is done.

Which brings me back to the people who aren’t happy with the direction “not your grandfather’s council” may be taking Greenfield. You may not have noticed, but almost all of these new councilors walked into office either by appointment or by running unopposed. A lot of them are going to get re-elected the same way this June and if the pro-growth element in this town were truly interested in lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness, they would have done something about it.

I’m not just talking about the good people sitting on the sidelines who have never considered serving, but also the ones who have served and took a powder rather than stay on and deal with this progressive coup. They put in their time and deserve tons of respect for that, but they also made the choice to walk away. As far as I’m concerned, that disqualifies them from being allowed to sit back on the sidelines and crow about the damage this council is doing — damage they might have prevented by simply sticking around.

They say you can tell a lot about a society by the leaders it chooses, but you can also tell a lot by how that society reacts to the decisions made by those leaders. On that score, Greenfield is not in great shape and the people who still live there have no one to blame but themselves.

Leaves much to be desired

We are entering the stretch run in the U.S. Senate race between Gabriel Gomez and Ed Markey, and the worst thing I can say is that someone will actually win.

I know they believe strongly in their positions and both seem to be decent guys, but I have a hard time believing this is the best we can come up with for potential successors to John Kerry. After watching two debates, there are only two things I know for sure — Gomez is an ex-Navy Seal who doesn’t like what is going on in Washington, and Markey wants to tax the hell out of the rich.

Can we all go home now?

What cracks me up the most about watching this little dance is the attempt to actually make us believe that either candidate will go to the Senate as a completely independent voice, when we already know that they’ll fall in lock-step with their respective parties the minute they take the oath. A perfect example of this is another supposed “voice of the people,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has voted with the Democrats 98 percent of the time since moving to D.C.

The only remotely intriguing element in this campaign has been Markey’s TV ads, which are as vicious as anything I’ve seen and aimed at the uninformed voter. Using short out-of-context clips from the GOP primary debates, the Markey media machine has had great success in positioning Gomez on the wrong side of many of the major issues of concern to middle class voters.

One ad where a picture of Gomez is next to one of Osama bin Laden prompted Gomez to call Markey “pond scum,” which, though unusual, didn’t exactly do much to shake the image of the GOP as the party of the mean-spirited.

The Gomez campaign’s response to Markey’s ads has been pretty anemic. His case doesn’t get any stronger when he tries to deal with basic government and policy questions. All you have to do is watch the debates to recognize that the pundits on primary night were right on the money when they said Gomez was “no Scott Brown.”

Still, I believe Gomez could have a future in state politics once he comes to the realization that it takes more than a pretty face and an outsider image for a Republican to win in Massachusetts, a lesson he is going to probably learn the hard way on June 25.

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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