Saturday, June 05, 2004

Please enclose one train

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The following is an open letter to Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney:


Dear Chuckles,

Allow me to spend a few minutes of your time getting some things off my chest. I know you're probably busy heading off to the salon and running the state, in that order, but this won't take long.

This week, as you may not remember, several local legislators, a bunch of transportation officials, two mayors, one lieutenant governor and a partridge in a pear tree all met with you about connecting Fall River and New Bedford to the commuter rail system. According to reports, you were unfamiliar with the project and less than interested in it hearing about it.

Just so you know, this is it:

We want to be connected to the commuter rail. Find a way to pay for it.

There -- was that so hard to understand?

It's not an unreasonable request. I'm not asking you to cover the streets in gold leaf. I don't want you to shine my shoes. Just get the ball rolling on this train thing, Mitt.

What kind of a name is Mitt, anyway? Is that short for something? Mittle? Mittworth? Mitthew? Or is it just Mitt, like the baseball glove?

Any-hoo, getting back to the train. There are more than 200,000 people living in this area. Many of them work here, but some of them are interested in finding jobs elsewhere, like in Boston. But they still want to live here, where the housing prices are cheaper. If they took a train, they could commute very easily without a car.

That might mean that people from this low-income area might get high-income jobs and bring the money back home. That would be spectacular for the local economy.

Without a train, people who live here but want the kind of work you find in Boston have three choices: (1) to find a mediocre job around here; (2) to find a better-paying job elsewhere and drive there every day; or (3) to move away from this area.

That's ugly, Mitt.

There are students, too, who want to go to schools in Boston but can't afford to live there.

You may not understand. The words "can't afford" means they don't have the money.

I was one of those students. I went to college in Boston. I wanted to take the train there. Even back then, there were rumors that the commuter rail would come to Fall River.

That was, like, 400 years ago, and still no train. What's up with that, dude?

I ended up moving to Boston, which was nice but extremely expensive. It would have been nicer if I could've come home on weekends by a cozy train instead of by bus. Buses are bumpy and more expensive than the train. Most of the time I had to stand or be crowded in among too many people. Buses only hold a couple dozen people. Trains hold many more and are kind of comfortable.

I'm using math here, Mitt.

More than once, I had to sit on the steps leading into the bus. I got either a nice view of the driver's feet on the pedals, or the highway. I had my duffel bag on my lap the whole way from Boston to Fall River.

I'm not sure if you ever had to do that in your life, Mitt, coming as you do from wealth. Have you ever had to sit and stare at a highway for an hour?

It sucks, Mitt.

It really sucks.

Sitting in a Bonanza motor coach jam-packed with commuters probably isn't your bag, Mittsy. It would muss your hair.

Speaking of which: Do you condition? A little Herbal Essences twice a week? Every time I see a photo of you, your coif is impeccably styled. How much time do you spend per day combing and shaping your hair so you look like you just walked off the cover of a J. Crew catalog? Are you a metrosexual, or do you just look fancy?

Also, I have a running bet with my wife. I say those patches of distinguished country-club gray on your temples are a dye job. My wife says they're real. So who buys the Chinese food?

Getting back to the train issue: My local legislators decided this week that enough is enough, and they would try to get around you. Seeing as how you aren't doing your job. Lawmakers from southeastern Massachusetts decided they'd block construction of the Sagamore Rotary flyover unless you commit to bringing the rail to southeastern Massachusetts.

You bared your perfectly capped teeth, Mitt. According to the Associated Press, you called it "blackmail." You said that Cape Cod is "the biggest tourism magnet in the state."

The Cape's nice. I've been on the Sagamore Rotary plenty of times, and I remember driving around and around in circles for hours, trying to figure out which way leads to the goddam beach. It's a pain, particularly when I found out that almost every direction leads to the beach.

But people live in this state, Mittsy, year-round. People want to live in this city and have lots of options to work elsewhere.

Bottom line, Mitt: You may be a blueblood twit, but you're our duly elected blueblood twit and we're stuck with you. You work for the entire state, not just the rich parts. I'm your boss. You work for me and everybody else who votes.

If you don't like it, Utah's that way.

But it would be really nice if you could get on this train thing. I'd like you to have a plan to pay for it on southeastern Massachusetts' collective desk ASAP.

I promise you won't have to make the trip to Fall River to crack a champagne bottle over the first train. I understand if you'll be getting a pedicure or whatever you do on your time off.

All the best,

Dan

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