In The Arena

Collins: Andrews’ stance baffles supporters

“Dazed and confused.” That was one of the takeaway quotes this week from Franklin County Opioid Task Force Founder John Merrigan in reaction to Second Franklin State Rep. Denise Andrews’ vote to oppose increased mandatory minimum sentences for convicted drug traffickers.

A more apt reaction might be, “we reap what we sow.”

The House recently voted 151-1 to override Governor Patrick’s veto of House Bill 4001, which increased the maximum sentence for trafficking between 18 and 99 grams of heroin from 20 to 30 years. Andrews cast the lone “no” vote, drawing the ire of her predecessor — who, ironically, is partially responsible for putting Andrews in a position to make said vote.

Lest we forget, Merrigan’s support — and that of Greenfield voters — helped Andrews emerge from a crowded 2010 primary field to win the Democratic nomination, and eventually that seat. Greenfield is no longer in the mix thanks to redistricting, and Andrews’ vote has only served to provide more bulletin board material for at least one of her potential fall opponents.

“This just blows my mind,” Republican candidate Susannah Whipps Lee said. “This is an epidemic affecting all of the towns in our district and I don’t understand how anyone who claims to represent this area could vote against stricter sentences for heroin trafficking.”

“Maybe she owed the governor something, which is why she voted with him, but it seems to me she owes the people of this district a little something, too,” Lee added. “And I don’t think we’re getting it.”

I wonder how many others will share that view at election time.

* * *

Though it may not have seemed so at times, Kinder Morgan officials didn’t seem to break much of a sweat during their recent appearance before the Franklin Regional Council of Governments and Franklin County Planning Board regarding the proposed Tennessee Gas Pipeline project.

Despite some outbursts from the nearly 300-strong crowd, the company’s representatives seemed pretty confident that their application will eventually get the “green light” from the five-member Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

“I get that sense, too, that they do feel confident, especially because FERC has largely been a rubber stamp for these kind of pipelines,” First Franklin District State Rep. Steve Kulik said. “But I also think they are surprised and taken aback by the very forceful and outspoken nature of the public reaction to this project.”

The problem is that much of that reaction is coming from the same people who seem to oppose any type of large-scale energy project. Consider the options that have already been considered, and largely rejected:

Nuclear is out, so is biomass. Oil and coal are evil incarnate. Wind is great, until a windmill or wind tower ends up in your backyard. Ditto with solar, until you have to spend the next 30 years looking at an array in the former cornfield across your property.

I agree that this pipeline proposal is abhorrent in many ways, but so is the idea of paying $1,000 a month for electricity while having to deal with rolling blackouts — both of which are distinct possibilities unless someone can come up with a method of acceptable energy transmission to replace the coal and nuke plants that are set to go off-line in the next several years.

* * *

Sunday is going to be a big one for a lot of hockey fans in these parts.

That’s the day that the Stanley Cup comes to Greenfield’s Collins-Moylan Arena, courtesy of Greenfield native and Los Angeles Kings Head Trainer Chris Kingsley, who takes possession of the most famous trophy in sports for the second time in three seasons.

“It’s an amazing feeling to win it a second time,” Kingsley said recently. “Sometimes it hasn’t really even sunk in yet.”

Last time Kingsley had the cup, he took it to the Boston suburbs, where he lived for a number of years while working as a trainer at Cushing Academy.

“We had a lot of people from Franklin County, but I told my wife that this time, we have to bring it back to Greenfield,” Kingsley said. “And I’m hoping we have a big turnout to raise some money for a great cause.”

That cause is the Franklin County Hockey Association, which introduced Kingsley and a lot of others to the game. A $5 suggested donation to the FCHA gets you a picture with the Cup, which will be at the arena from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, which Mayor Bill Martin has declared “Chris Kingsley Day” in Greenfield.

It’s going to be a huge moment for this community. I hope to see you there.

Chris Collins is news director/managing editor of WHAI FM and Bear Country 95.3. He is a former staff reporter for The Recorder and a Greenfield native.

As I understand it, the article was minimum sentencing for anyone caught with the drug. Not everyone who uses a drug is selling it, and jail isn't always the best approach to intervention: in fact it guarantees that with a criminal record, efforts at recovery will be severely hampered.

Drinking water, clean air, and soil quality are more important than gas.

If we experience rolling blackouts, it will be because of market manipulations: these blackouts occurred in California during the Enron era of market manipulations, and what is going on in this region is yet another example. We need reforms to the market, not a giant pipeline infrastructure shipping grid for shipment overseas. We are being played. Yes, we need to take steps to address energy policy: the largest growth sector for manufacturing in Massachusetts has been solar: we have corporations here in MA that could do the job, and many communities in our region are ready and willing to participate- especially if it will help our state and region.

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