Guest Commentary: Let’s Appreciate Public Service
Feb 16, 2015 01:37PM
By Pamela Johnson
Senator Richard T. Moore (D-Uxbridge MA)
written by Richard T. MooreIf you should see a police officer, fire fighter, EMT, snowplow driver, let’s remember to thank them for being available keeping us safe or helping us to get to work or school during these past few weeks of historic cold and snowfall. Let’s also remember to appreciate our state police, emergency management officials, Mass. Highway, custodians of schools and public buildings, and our National Guard personnel for their exemplary efforts, too.
Even the much-maligned workers at the MBTA, the employees of regional transit authorities, and others deserve our thanks. It’s not their fault that the investment in modernizing public transportation has been inadequate and they are, certainly, not to blame for the volume of snow that’s fallen on much of Massachusetts in 2015.
Beyond our public employees, there are many other professions, nursing, medical, and those who work for non-profit organizations serving very young children, the mentally ill, developmentally or physically disadvantaged, and the elderly who are among the heroes of society. Then there are the employees of public utilities – electric, gas, telephone, cable, etc. who must often work under difficult weather conditions to keep us connected to the community. While many teachers and school personnel might have “enjoyed” snow days, they will still have to make up some of those days when they would otherwise have time off. Furthermore, teachers must be even more creative in educating our youth at times when gaps of days between lessons occur.
While public trust in government is at an all-time low, working in the public sector still remains a necessary and personally rewarding career. In the midst of budget battles and heated political rhetoric minimizing the role of government and public servants, those who work for government at all levels or for non-profits who deliver public services all play key roles in meeting citizen needs. The radio, television, and newspaper employees who help get the news to us, often working outside or for long hours play an important role in keeping us informed during the storms,
When cities like Worcester and Lowell report receiving more snow than Buffalo, New York, we know that this is an unusual, even record-breaking winter. Sure the folks I’ve mentioned are “just doing their jobs,” but thankfully, there are still people willing to work under difficult conditions and at all hours of the day and night for us!
The rest of us can show our appreciation by being patient, calm, and staying out of the way as much as possible. We can make sure that hydrants and mail boxes are clear and accessible in our neighborhoods. We can check on elderly or ill neighbors to make sure they have adequate food and heat. When a winter like this one hits we rely on public employees, but we must also rely on each other to get through these difficult days. We’re New Englanders! This has been our tradition since that first severe winter in Plymouth in 1621. At least, we can be optimistic, as well as appreciative. Spring is only a few more weeks away.
Richard T. Moore is a former Associate Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and a long-time state legislator representing the South Central Massachusetts region.