With Rep. Neal in Office, Who Needs a Republican?

Thank you for the excellent article on Representative Richard Neal (“Can Rankled Rural Voters Dethrone Congressman Neal?” June 22-28, 2017). I remember when the state redrew our districts so that Northampton and Amherst, both from the 5 College

Graphic by Jennifer Levesque

liberal quadrant, were separated. This thrust Northampton, where I lived, into Neal’s district, something at the time I was not happy about because it gave those of us who identify as progressive less clout. From your reporting I gleaned the following:

  • Rep. Neal does not feel the need to be as responsive to those outside Hampden County, and Springfield more specifically. Well, he should represent us all.
  • Rep. Neal feels he does not need to respond to groups like the Indivisible group from Williamsburg. Why not?
  • Rep. Neal freely admits he gets large contributions from the insurance, securities and investment, and pharmaceutical/health products industries. He feels he needs to do it because it’s the law of the land. Why not try to overthrow Citizen’s United? His attitude seems to be: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!
  • Rep. Neal won’t have town hall events because he had one “bad” experience in 2009. He says this in a time when our healthcare and civil liberties, as well as budget problems, are worsening under Trump and the Republicans? With him in office who needs a Republican?
  • Rep. Neal says Democrats should become more centrist as a party. He welcomes Southern Dems and others who are pro-life. Is he pro-choice? Does he even remember that he represents women who are? Does he know it is still the law of the land since Roe v. Wade?
  • And finally, Rep. Neal says we need to wait until a larger state like California tries a Medicare-for-all solution because we are too small in Massachusetts. What about a regional plan then?

Richard Neal has done some good things for Western Mass, like help with Union Station Renovation, but he needs to do more. He did not mention his opinions about climate change he addressed the pipeline that is running through the Otis State Forest by writing a letter to FERC as did Senators Warren and Markey, but surely, as this is his district, he could have done and could do more. I’m saddened that this rich, vibrant, and large district is not more adequately represented in Congress.

— Betsy Cook, via email

Staycation and Tacos

Last week’s Staycation-themed issue, June 22-29, 2017, contained numerous suggestions for how to chill in the Valley vacation style. We also reviewed a lot of tacos because vacation-tacos are the best tacos. Admittedly, we couldn’t mention everything that’s great about the Valley, or tacos. Here’s a sample of the online comments we received:

Sheila Simon: Was surprised you did not mention Elements Hot Tub Spa on Main Street in Amherst, MA! They have won the Valley Advocate Best of the Valley Readers Poll for massage & spa treatments in the Pioneer Valley for several years now. Great place to relax & rejuvenate!!!!

Ted White: Awesome list of cool stuff — we do live in a great place! Don’t know why so many people leave during the summer … it’s the best time to be here.

Chance T Viles: You all did taco bell so dirty ;/

Trumpy On Air: How was I not invited?

Griselle Benabe Rivera: La Veracruzana fish tacos are my favorites. Nice cilantro and lime flavors and the fish fried perfectly. And with some lime agua fresca, it can’t get any better!

Danielle Mola: Nothing from Mission Cantina or La Casita Azteca?!?! Taco Bell over these two? Come on!

El Keter Ben Tzadik: Not even close to a survey of the tacos of the Valley.

Jessica Judd: How did Taco Bell make the list but Mama Iguanas didn’t? Their steak taco with bacon and jalapeños is out of this world!