I live in Springfield a large city in western Massachusetts. Springfield is the kind of city that is usually referred to as “a pit”. The third largest city in Massachusetts, it suffers many of the same problems other urban centers have: blight, crime, and poverty.
Springfield’s had some tough breaks. It got killed when a lot of its industry left, and past administrations left the city looted and bankrupt. Even attractions such as the Basketball Hall of Fame haven’t been able to turn things around.
When we first found out we were moving here, I was hanging out on the Straight Dope Message Board. I mentioned I was moving to Massachusetts and a few people said “Oh cool, where will you be?” When I replied, “Springfield,” the response I got was. “Oh. Well, that’s not really Massachusetts.” Having lived for ten years in the vast part of Illinois that wasn’t Chicago, I was used to this kind of crap.
The sad part about this is that Springfield isn’t really a bad place. There are lots of good ethnic restaurants here, the museums and library are good, you can get a great house like ours for a fraction of what you’d pay in other nearby towns, and it’s easy enough to get to other places if you want to, being practically at the intersection of I-91 and the Mass Pike. We like it here.
But this isn’t to say the city couldn’t use some help. And honestly, although you hate to reduce a lot of problems down to one thing, the thing it really needs most of all is money. It needs cash for infrastructure, police, schools, and so forth. The reason it doesn’t have any money is because Boston, though I really like the place, is a parasitic tick feeding off our sad remains.
The “X” is Springfield
Springfield, as I said, is the third largest city in Massachusetts (after Boston and Worcester), yet it is, I believe eighteenth in receiving funds from the state. Tiny little wealthy enclaves of 2000 people get more money than we do because they’re close to Boston. Indeed, that person was right: Springfield isn’t really Massachusetts. As far as most residents of the commonwealth are concerned, Massachusetts stops just past Worcester. When they speak of something happening “west of Boston”, they usually mean in the western suburbs of Boston. We’re getting pretty tired of financing Boston’s precious little hamlets.
If Springfield could just get a decent amount of money from the state, many of its problems could be well on the way to being solved. Think outside of the box all you want; police officers are always going to want to be paid for their work. You would think that Boston would be interested in helping Springfield, since a booming Springfield would be able to shuttle more tourists to Boston.
The reason I bring this up is, tomorrow is the Democratic primary for Governor for Massachusetts. It’s our task to look at three candidates: Chris Gabrielli, Deval Patrick, and Tom Reilly. For us in western Mass, the decision is even more tough than for everyone else. We not only have to look through each candidate’s promises, we have to figure out how much, if any, of them apply to us. Many folks out here in the wastelands feel that voting for Governor of Massachusetts is about as relevant as voting for Governor of Wyoming. Boston’s gonna do what’s best for Boston and the hell with everyone else. We’ve got to sift through these three and figure out which, if any, give a damn about the other half of the state.
The Springfield Republican gave its endorsement to Reilly. They say (among other things):
We endorse Reilly for another reason that hits a little closer to home: he was born and raised in Springfield. A candidate’s hometown is not a qualification for office, but we have heard many gubernatorial candidates over the years promise not to forget Western Massachusetts once they are in office.
On the other hand, Deval Patrick is getting a lot more attention and seems to be the choice of most folks in the area. Reilly may have been born here, but Patrick has actually been campaigning out here a lot more than Reilly has. Patrick is probably where my vote’s going to go.
I don’t mean to sound so lackluster about the choice, but really, I’ve looked at their positions, I’ve looked at their records, and for everyone I still want to know: “Yes, but what are you going to do for us? Will you let Springfield be part of ‘really Massachusetts’?”