Springfield and the World…
In her post, she describes how Springfield, like the rest of the nation, if not the world, suffers from older leaders from bygone eras, get rich quick schemes from city officials, and general economic malaise.
Springfield is not alone. Many old guard politicians from the past remain hanging on or behind the scenes directing the show. Unable to answer today’s questions or solve today’s problems they force their communities to swallow the status quo. Charles Ryan is not exactly the same. He acutely saw that fixing Springfield was beyond his capabilities or at the very least, he knew the inertia in city government would stymie his efforts. Nonetheless, Ryan is the oldest mayor in Massachusetts and among the oldest in the country. I do not wish to speak ill of him as he may be ill and out of respect for his grandchildren who were classmates of mine. I just want to see some fresh faces.
Apparently, Councilor Domenic Sarno is bring back to the table the prospect of gambling. It was an awful idea when Mayor Albano proposed it years ago and remains as such now. I hold no particular opposition to gambling in general and frankly oppose many of the puritanical vestiges stitched into our legal framework. However, thinking it will bring in any appreciable revenue to Springfield is naive. It will spark other weak cities like Holyoke, Lawrence, and more to do the same diminishing gaming in Springfield as any kind of out-of-region draw. In addition, Detroit and Philadelphia both have sought gaming. Detroit, though far worse off than Springfield in a number of ways, has not been able to pull itself into any better long-term fiscal position. Most importantly, these developments, while profitable to their owners, will not and cannot compete with Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Foxwoods/Mohegan Sun, and the various smaller gaming towns sprinkled throughout the South. The hope, and naivete, comes from drawing people away from those established gaming edifices. Instead, it will only draw in locals who cannot afford to gamble and bring with it more problems. For every dollar the city gleans it will likely have to spend at least as much on social services geared to addicted gamblers. This assumes the city gleans much from it at all.
As for economic malaise, that is too complicated to really get into now. I will restate my previous position that economic development needs to be targeted by region and not with a one-size fits all (universally Boston’s size) bill. Economic malaise is a national issue and at the risk of sounding like an alarmist, must be resolved with real ideas or we will experience an era of hardship and disrepair not seen since the Great Depression.
From my remote outpost here at school, I have tried and will continue to lobby legislators for Springfield’s cause. Perhaps, and I say this tongue in cheek, they will see that wisdom does come from the mouth of babes.
Springfield’s survival or fall is a reflection of the future for our state, our country, and our world.