Opinion: Sisitsky fought the good fight for his constituents

7/19/2017 | G. Michael Dobbs

Category: July

Perhaps you remember Alan D. Sisitsky, perhaps not. Time is not always kind to the memories of past elected officials, especially one whose services was many years ago – 1973 to 1983.

He recently passed away and the news made me think of him for the first time in years.

An attorney who long practiced in Springfield, Sisitsky served as both a state representative and a state senator. He became well known for his fights against the auto insurance industry and was a successful champion for consumers’ rights.

He also became know for his work on judicial reform.

He was not afraid to take on political opponents with a lot of clout and feuded with Senate President William Bulger. He also was critical of Hampden County District Attorney Matthew Ryan.

Sisitsky’s reputation was tarnished in the public’s eye due to his struggles with mental health issues and erratic behavior. I got to know him a little bit when he would come in and tape commentaries for WREB where I worked from 1982 to 1987.

He had an odd way of speaking, almost spitting out the words, but what he said was smart, insightful and provocative.

I can’t recall how long he did these editorials but they added valuable content to the talk format of the station.

He seemed fearless during his political career, saying he believed what needed to be said and allowing the cards to fall where they may. He also seemed to genuinely be on the side of his constituents – admirable qualities for any elected official.

Support The Bing

Unlike many other people at the screening of John Shea’s movie “Grey Lady” recently, I did not get a selfie with the Springfield native. I did meet him the night before the showing and I did interview him by phone, so that will have to suffice.

These days a selfie is proof that you’ve actually done something!

What Shea did was tremendous, though. He certainly didn’t have to come to his hometown with the second film he directed, but he did and managed to do several things.

First, he raised some money for several non-profit groups, including one near and dear to my heart, the Bing Arts Center, and second, he reminded people that good things come from the City of Homes.

What I’m hoping is that people who attended this event might consider supporting The Bing. If the funds become available to restore the auditorium at the former neighborhood theater, The Bing would become something the city truly needs: a multi-purpose independent arts center.

My friend Brian Hale has been doing some amazing programming at The Bing. He has brought in some great music and art and deserves to be supported.

Consider attending its next event this Saturday, “Berklee Bound! A Benefit Send-Off for Alton Skinner” at 8 p.m.?The Bing will host a celebratory concert/send-off party for Springfield saxophonist and Sci-Tech HS grad Alton Skinner. The concert will feature the Jeremy Turgeon Quintet, Ginja Low Main, and Manhattan Ant Farm.

The doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the cost is $10.

Just saying

A gentle reminder to public relations folks or to the people who have been designated as the media contact person for an organization or event – please at least pretend you actually wanted press coverage when you send out a press release or advisory.

Now maybe you don’t like dealing with reporters, perhaps you’ve had some bad experiences or perhaps you weren’t at the organizational meeting and got stuck with the job, but to give the impression you’re not really interested once a reporter is standing in front of you is counter-productive.

Remember, you invited us.

And please understand that when the TV reporter decides to cut into your interview with a non-TV reporter, it’s polite to actually say something such as “Could you wait one moment?” I understand the lure of being on TV, but it reassures old print reporters that we actually count as well – whether we do or not to you, we just like to think so. Believe it or not, that person with a camera can indeed wait his or her turn.

This doesn’t happen too often, but in the spirit of understanding I thought I would cast this out into the universe – or at least Western Massachusetts.

I generally enjoy working with the many fine public relations professionals in the region, but now and then I just have to say something.

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