Ripped from the headlines

Relief for schools: My favorite governor, Deval Patrick, reached into his bag of tricks and decided not to penalize rural schools by drastically cutting their transportation budgets. We all know that every state budget in the country is in deep trouble. I keep thinking about what I would do if I were Patrick or Paterson or Schwarzenegger. Hey, the money has to come from somewhere.

This isn’t the United States government — Massachusetts can’t just print what it needs. What was so cool in this case was the outpouring of support for the schools, particularly those in the Berkshire Hills system. Good citizens came forward to try to make up the anticipated deficit. Of course, with the extra money coming in there may actually be a cushion that should be prudently put into a rainy day fund for the next time this happens, or in case the state doesn’t keep its word for one reason or another.

Massachusetts has always been one of those places where money is appropriated and sometimes never actually delivered. For once, at least in the department of bad habits, Massachusetts is leading the way.

Cold air hits the Berkshires: It is incredibly cold out there. I’ve never liked the cold. I have always looked at the Florida snow birds with disdain but I must grudgingly admit that it’s always nice to travel for a week during the coldest times.

I’ve been thinking that maybe it might have been a good idea to keep my mom’s condo in Palm Beach when she passed. I’ve often worried that going to Florida somehow signals that you are giving up to the inevitable end that we all face, sooner or later, like it or not. To me, Florida is the equivalent of the mythical elephant graveyard. But, if I ever retire, and I have no plans to do so, it might be nice to find a place in the Florida Keys or Miami Beach. Somewhere where it’s really hot and I can roll out of bed, go fast walking or jogging, take dips in the pool, or sit in an open air cafe with a fruit drink, admiring the latest in women’s fashion.

It’s just too cold out there. I object to it. I truly wonder how people can willingly put on skis and face the arctic blasts.

Great Barrington considering ban on smoking on all town premises: Good stuff. No smoking in parks and work areas and maybe even sidewalks.

Smoking is already forbidden in most places so this would just add to the list. Personally, as a lifelong non-smoker, I love the proposed rule. This is a very good idea that will eventually be voted on at town meeting. There is no reason for us to be inhaling other people’s smoke. Of course, we do burn wood and that’s smoke. I burn brush every year and people smell that.

In NewYorkState (pronounced as one word in Berkshires) you can’t burn anything anymore. The libertarians won’t like the new non-smoking rules, of course, and the sociopathic bloggers will flip over the fact that we are interfering with our right to kill ourselves, slowly, at the public expense.

Should we also protect our citizens from other potential killers, like the ravages of obesity? I suspect as many people die from being overweight (cancer, heart attacks, and diabetes) as die from smoking. However, when you think about it, it all comes down to choice. I recently had a wonderful obstetrics and gynecology doc, Robert Dropkin, on WAMC’s Medical Monday. He told us that 80 percent of sexually active people have at some time contracted the human papillolma virus (HPV). Some strains of that virus can cause cervical cancer. So now we know that some young women can get vaccinated against that virus or consenting adults can use protection or people can abstain from sexual activity. Should any behavior that flaunts the laws of biology be outlawed?

The real question is whether people will listen or take the choice. Hey, we’re going the other way on marijuana. Isn’t it ironic that as we are making it criminal to smoke cigarettes, we are allowing more choice with pot? I’m all for the idea of banning smoking everywhere. On the other hand, some of the other bans will just have to wait.

Pittsfield’s Park Square rotary to be removed (finally): Hooray, hooray. Great stuff. A feather in the mayoral cap of Jimmy Ruberto.

The thing has always been stupid. You take your life in your hand every time you go round. Don’t worry, old-timers, it won’t be a week before your nostalgia ends. Now if the pompous and stupid state ethics group would only lay off Mayor Jimmy and his baseball tickets and pay attention to the real scoundrels.

Originally Published in the Berkshire Eagle, 1/02/10

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2 Comments on “Ripped from the headlines”

  1. Mary Jo Batters Says:

    Hello Alan – Just a brief comment on your views on Florida. Having lived there for many years, I think your “elephant graveyard” opinion is a hold over from the 60’s.

    I can’t speak for the East Coast, but the St. Pete area is wonderful. You would love WMNF 88.5 – Tampa’s community radio station – it is absolutely wonderful – a true community radio station with great programming and very loyal supporters.

    You should read Howard Troxler in the Saint Pete Times – he’s very good at discussing political issues – interesting to note that Florida has a no-good bunch of legislators, just like new York …

    And … Florida has Publix … the best grocery store I’ve ever shopped in …

  2. David Says:

    Alan it is been awhile since I have listened to you and I do enjoy your station and you in particular. I have to take issue (as I always do) with several of your recent statements.
    1. Calling for “transparency” in NY state politics when you fail to adress the same lack of “transparency” in regards to the Federal government and the issue of the health care boondoggle, is quite simply ..hypocracy.
    2. Calling Gov Patrick your “favorite” Governor seriously calls into question your sanity. He has been a unqestionable disaster for us in Mass. His partonige jobs for which earn over $100,000 was only the begining, and even Democrats such as Tim Kahil are running (as an independent).
    3. Your continued lack of SERIOUS criticism of your “favorite” politican “Shelly” Silver again calls into question your hehehe…”objectivity”. His actions as the most powerful Democrat in NY have created the mess you continually harp about.. but alas nary a word against him. Not to mention his belonging to a law firm that gets $$$$ by using the same laws he pushes through in order to reap those outragous suits and settlements. If he were removed the MAJOR block to reform that you “progressives” are so fond of(in theory only) would open the way for the fix and “transparency” that you pay lip service to.
    4. Alan if you would only step back and view your past thinking, you might in a moment of honesty realise that you are not the open minded and fair person you probably started out as, but instead have become a carature in the same vein as ORielly,or Chris Mathews. As if you were a former Soviet era bloated Politburo member who sees things through his party “hype” , and after long years has been brainwashed to really believe it. Deep down inside in a moment of reflection you might even realise it, and come to the conclusion that your better than that.
    I will vow that I will try to keep an open mind and not travel down the path of self rightous ossification. I will Continue to listen to your station and other outlets where different ideas, and opinions can be met with at least a sembalance of objectivty.
    Take care Alan, and I will continue to enjoy your voice on the air.
    David… Ware Ma

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