As we look back at the news of this week, Congressman Richard Neal of Springfield, Massachusetts, pushed back against criticism over his fundraising tactics.
Neal, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, shot back at Williamsburg resident and former Salon.com editor David Daley, who recently penned an opinion piece in The Boston Globe.
Daley pointed out Neal has been holding expensive fundraisers since he became chair of the committee in January. According to Daley, Neal has used the events to raise large sums of money from corporations and industry lobbying groups with business before his committee. And Daley says Neal is spending too much time traveling around the country instead of his district.
To that charge, Neal called it a "cheap shot" and questioned whether or not Daley is getting ready to mount a bid against him.
Daley didn't disagree with that, saying it's something he's considering.
Panelist Shaheen Pasha noted that Neal has been an incumbent for a long time.
"I think the last election showed him that there are other people, fresh voices, that are willing to step up, and he's actually going to be put in the hot seat," Pasha said. "I think there's some level, some undercurrent, of anger — about the Trump taxes, and his role, and whether he's looking at the district [or] has higher ambitions. So I think the seat is definitely getting hotter."
Meanwhile, Politico Massachusetts reported this week that there has been phone polling going on, perhaps measuring the viability of Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse as a potential candidate against Neal in 2020.
"Neal is very entrenched," said panelist Dave Eisenstadter. "He has his Springfield base of support. ...I think there are probably a number of challenges brewing, whether it's from Mayor Morse, or from David Daley, or someone we haven't heard of yet."
Also this week, Massachusetts health officials released data showing opioid deaths were down 4 percent statewide over the last two years. But there was a spike at the beginning of this year. The news was especially troubling in Springfield, where opioid deaths doubled last year, compared to the previous three.
And one of our panelists wrote this week about "The Lies We Tell Our Children" when it comes to their safety, and particularly school shootings, given more recent violent incidents in the U.S.
We wrap up the week with college graduations taking place all over the area, including at Hampshire College, where this year's commencement might be the last before major changes take place at the cash-strapped school. We asked our guests what advice they have for recent graduates.
- Shaheen Pasha, UMass lecturer; columnist at Daily Hampshire Gazette
- Dave Eisenstadter, edtior, Valley Advocate