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There's a time to laugh and a time not to.

Byline: Clive McFarlane

COLUMN: CLIVE MCFARLANE

Emptying my mail bag, I give you the following:

In November I wrote a column about Mike Galante, who was ticketed for going 50 in a 30 mph zone on East Mountain Street.

Mr. Galante fought the ticket on the grounds that the 30 mph speed limit on East Mountain was illegally posted, as it was not approved by the Massachusetts Highway Department.

MHD officials acknowledged that was indeed the case.

Worcester officials countered that Mr. Galante was driving through a thickly settled area and that under state law his speed could not exceed 30 mph.

The court sided with Mr. Galante and threw out his speeding ticket.

His victory hasn't changed anything, however.

Yes, the 30 mph signs are illegally posted on East Mountain Street, but the city is still adamant that it is within its rights to enforce it.

My "tongue-in-cheek" column on high gas prices and the choices and challenges they present various members of the community rubbed some people the wrong way.

A WPI student wrote the following:

"In your article you state that, given the choice between sixty dollars and a full tank of gas, `A firefighter would take the money. He certainly doesn't need a full tank of gas, not when most of his days are spent sitting around the firehouse playing cards.'

"Thank god that he does not have to spend his entire day fighting fires.

"First, he would be risking his life for complete strangers for 24 hours straight, and no person can survive that physically or psychologically. Second, that would mean that there would constantly be a fire in the city."

Another reader reminded me high gas prices are nothing to laugh about.

"I hope you understand that for some people, these gas prices represent a major concern.

"I am a third year teacher ... and though I love my job and do not regret going into education, I am trying desperately to support myself.

"The Department of Education tells me that though I'm still on the bottom steps of the pay scale and have barely made a dent in my undergraduate loans, I must have my master's degree completed in the first five years of teaching.

"The school only supplies me with a few hundred dollars each year for classes (my tuition costs $4,150 this year without including fees and books) so I have to put the entire cost in loans.

"In addition, the only `affordable' program that pertains to my area of teaching is located north of Boston, so I will be driving almost 1,000 miles per week for six weeks this summer, and none of my classmates live near me to carpool.

"For me, gas price increases are a very real problem, as they will mean deciding between adequate food on the table or remaining certified to teach."

This reader is right.

Life is tough on a lot of people right now.

But is there no room for laughter?

Well one of my fiercest critics, Bill Cutting, thinks so.

"Your concerns regarding the gas money used by public officials and employees are valid," he wrote.

"However if they play golf, we all know that along with the gas money they have received, that their golf scorecards are not truly honest.

That is why the word Sandbagger has spread to politicians' statements."

That's funny, but I can't lean on Bill for support.

That would be like the Chinese getting help from Sheriff Guy Glodis on how to run a jail - I would be jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

And the winner is Bill Daly.

In my solicitation for the most creative way to pull the wool over the wife's eyes, after sneaking out to play a game of golf, on her dime and taking her car with its full tank of gas, Mr. Daly wrote:

"I can't think of an explanation unless I lie, and after 46 years, she'd pretend she believes me, even though we both know she doesn't."

Yes, there were replies that were more creative, but I am a fast learner.

This is not a time for levity.

Contact Clive McFarlane via e-mail at cmcfarlane@telegram.com
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Apr 14, 2008
Words:703
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