EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 9, 2013

Your view: Letters to the editor

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Tsongas’ hypocrisy on sequestration

To the editor:

On June 3, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas in a column in The Eagle-Tribune decried the “sequestration cuts” that she says are hurting our district and the nation. She detailed the cuts to air traffic controllers and boasted of authoring a bill that would correct some of the challenges these airports are facing.

In her column, Ms. Tsongas treated sequestration as some sort of a natural phenomenon, something that just started eating up jobs and threatening our economy, despite the fact that she “urged” her colleagues to seek a “broader approach.”

While I agree with her statement that a “piecemeal approach” or, to be blunt, these draconian methods of avoiding real governing are simply unacceptable, I have a problem with her actions.

The good Congresswoman somehow failed to mention one crucial fact: Tthat she voted in favor of the sequestration cuts.

In other, more famous words, she voted for it before she was against it. This is a not-so-grand tradition in Massachusetts’ politics.

So, perhaps next time, the good Congresswoman should fill in the voting public on her voting record before she demonizes the legislation she obviously, once upon a time, supported.

Were I in her place, I would have never voted for sequestration. I agree that budgets must be balanced, but responsible governing is much like responsible surgery. These things must be done with a sharp scalpel and with a solution in sight, not blindly with a meat cleaver, hoping to send the problem down the road for someone else to cure (or in this case use it to gain political points).

As an employee of Raytheon Corporation, a large defense contractor (the lead contractor on the Patriot missile) and a major employer in the 3rd District, I have seen what happens with these sequestration cuts firsthand. I admit that every single federal government department could be slimmer, but the way these cuts have been done is just nonsensical.

She also missed that when defense undergoes the massive cuts that are put in place as part of these sequestration cuts, the first thing to go is research and development. The military must buy beans and bullets. Soldiers get priority. R&D does not.

Portions of that R&D money goes to places like Raytheon, but massive amounts of it goes to research-oriented universities, such as University of Massachusetts Lowell, which is right in this district. These sequestration cuts therefore have the additional cause of students not being able to learn at the graduate level the way they otherwise would, if we had leaders who practiced responsible governing. One such area that has suffered, resulting in far less research, is that of bomb detection in areas of civilian population. Given the recent event in Boston, perhaps this research area should be reconsidered rather than getting the ax treatment it has received.

This kind of dissembling about sequestration is just one example of what is wrong with Congress. Legislation has unintended consequences. Our stagnant economy – and particularly the housing crash that spawned it – is a result of the unintended consequences of a thousand little laws (and some huge ones), as well as regulations passed by our representatives.

Then we have to listen to those same representatives insult our intelligence by railing against the results of their own actions and vowing that they would fix the problem if only the rest of Congress just got off their duffs. The challenge we have is that they never seem to admit their own complicity in the mess.

I think we need balanced budgets, but our leaders must do so in a fashion that makes sense. That is going to require them to work harder than ever before, just as most Americans are doing.

It is time to put the politics aside, burn the midnight oil and come up with a series of solutions that balances our budgets. It is time for our elected representatives to be open and honest with the voters that they claim to represent at all times (even when it hurts). It is time to do these things now.

Why do I say that now is the time? To answer that question simply, I must quote Dee Snider from Twisted Sister: “We’re Not Gonna Take It, Anymore!”

Why does my opinion matter on this subject? I am a physicist, voter, taxpayer, father, veteran, as well as a Republican and now I am running for office.

Timothy Imholt, PhD


Dog cruelty suspect needs attitude adjustment

To the editor:

The arrest of a Lawrence man charged with hurting a woman’s dog (which he was hired to walk) is a sad example of a common problem (“Police arrest Lawrence dog walker for cruelty,” May 26). The police officer who reportedly saw the man beating the dog quoted the suspect as saying, “It’s my (expletive) dog, I’ll do whatever the (expletive) I want with him.” Of course, the defendant was not the dog’s owner, and even if he were, beating a dog is still animal cruelty. The defendant’s attitude is as troubling as are his actions towards the dog.

As the former chief justice of the Massachusetts Juvenile Court, I am very much aware of the relationship between animal cruelty and other forms of interpersonal violence. Though research on the links between animal abuse and other forms of violence, such as child abuse or domestic violence, has been going on for a number of years, it is relatively recently that evidence of clear associations are being accepted as warning signs of current violence in other areas besides towards animals or as predictors of future violence.

Recognition of these links and taking them seriously will go a long way in preventing certain kinds of interpersonal violence. What is critical is that these kinds of charges be taken seriously by everyone in the system: The police, the district attorneys, the courts and probation officers. Thanks to the police for taking the first important step.

A program called AniCare is a therapeutic process designed specifically for application in animal abuse cases. Generic “anger management” programs are not enough. I would hope that this defendant, as well as others charged with crimes against animals, would have to undergo some sort of mental health evaluation. Arrests and conviction for such crimes can change the mindset that leads to this type of abuse.

Martha P. Grace


Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Juvenile Court ( Retired)