Post Office Box 408
Peabody, Massachusetts 01960 (508) 384-0100
Tuesday, March 2, 1999
State House News Service
February 26, 1999
FINNERAN: USE MUSIC, BOOKS TO FIGHT TV'S "DESTRUCTIVE" INFLUENCE
FEB. 26, 1999 ... TH ... House Speaker Thomas Finneran today compared
television to a "deadly germ like anthrax," and proposed fighting its
"deadly and destructive influence" by providing the parents of every newborn
child with classical music tapes, storybooks and reading information.
At a speech to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce this morning,
Finneran asked business leaders to provide music and books for the 80,000 children born in
Massachusetts annually. He said businesses and labor leaders could easily afford to pay
the $5 million over five years, but added that he needed their influence more than their
Under the "First Step" proposal, which is modeled on
similar programs in Georgia and Michigan, parents would get tapes of classical music and
children's songs, picture and story books and child health information. The program is
aimed at children up to four years old.
Finneran, who introduced his speech with the opening notes of
Beethoven's 5th Symphony, said numerous studies have shown that young children who listen
to classical music generally do better in school. He said the First Step kits would
encourage parents to read and talk to their children. Such interaction is missing from the
"passive" medium of television, he said....
State House News Service
March 1, 1999
POLITICAL LEADERS READ TO KIDS, CELEBRATE DR. SEUSS' BIRTHDAY
MARCH 1, 1999 ... EJB ... House Speaker Thomas Finneran and Senate
President Thomas Birmingham swapped their gavels and leadership mantles for "Cat in
the Hat" and "Green Eggs and Ham" this morning at an event celebrating the
birthday of children's book legend Dr. Seuss.
Joined by Senate Minority Leader Brian Lees and US Sens. Ted Kennedy
and John Kerry, the political leaders plunked themselves down on the carpet in the Senate
Reading Room and read Dr. Seuss books with about 50 third-graders from the Squantum
Elementary School in Quincy.
The event represented the kick-off of "Read Across America"
week, a nationwide event highlighting the importance of reading. The week coincides with
the March 2 birthday of Springfield, Massachusetts native Theodor Geisel - better known as
To: Speaker Thomas Finneran
cc: Members of the General Court
March 2, 1999
Re: "First Step Program"
Dear Mr. Speaker,
We are intrigued by your idea of providing a culture basket to newborn Massachusetts
babies, though we would like more information. Our first question is, who will decide what
goes into the basket?
You like Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. I like Richie Haven's
"Freedom" from Woodstock. Liberals like John Lennon's "Imagine." Labor
might want Joan Baez singing "Joe Hill," while Business chooses the Rolling
Stones doing the iMAC commercial.
Your book might be A Child's Biography of Winston Churchill. Others
might prefer The Little Red Book of Chairman Mao. I'd pick "The Little Red Hen."
You see the problem.
Nevertheless, we are not naysayers; we understand what you are trying
to do. In fact, we would like to contribute.
We think it is important that children learn basic moral as well as
cultural lessons. For example, we hope they are given a selection of Aesop's Fables. And
as part of CLT's "Save the Children" project, we are sending you a basket item
that can be read to them to teach the importance of keeping a promise.
Since actions speak louder than words, we hope you will set an
example for the children of how to keep a promise by including a copy of the repeal of the
1989 temporary income tax increase in your basket.
"For The Children"
Once upon a time the Massachusetts state income tax rate was 5 percent. But then there was
a wicked fiscal crisis dragon, that threatened to devour our little commonwealth if he was
not fed more taxes.
The Knights of the Beacon Hill went forth into the countryside to
collect more money from the peasants, who were promised that the taxes would be temporary,
that once the fiscal crisis dragon had been slain the tax rate would return to 5 percent.
Sir Bill, Sir Paul, two Sir Thomases and the other Knights eventually
slew the dragon. But then the dragon's wicked ally (Jim) St. George put a spell on the two
Sir Thomases, so that they would forget about the promise that the Knights had made!
"I don't recall it, Bir-ming-ham."
"Well, I don't either, Fin-ner-an."
"Did we make it in the spring?
Did we promise anything?"
"I didn't make it in the fall.
I doubt that it was made at all!"
Sir Paul went forth to find the magic potion that would restore their
memory. Red Hair and the Merry Taxpayers helped him search. After many adventures and
battles, Sir Paul and the Taxpayers returned to Beacon Hill with the potion.
The beautiful Princess Jane served it with green eggs and ham to the
two Sir Thomases, who were released from their spell and remembered the promise that the
tax increase would be temporary. "Knights of the Beacon Hill must always keep their
promises" they cried, as they returned the income tax rate to 5 percent. And they and
the Merry Taxpayers lived happily ever after.
LESSONS FOR THE CHILDREN
"Promises are the uniquely human way of ordering the future,
making it predictable and reliable to the extent that this is humanely possible."
Hannah Arendt, political philosopher, 1906-75
"And though he promise to his loss, he makes his promise good." Nicholas
"He was ever precise in promise-keeping." Shakespeare, 1604
"The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go
before I sleep." Robert Frost, 1875-1963
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