Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I turned 39 (2014)

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Israel's right-wing government adopts divisive nation-state law!

“Israel Adopts Divisive Jewish Nation-State Law”
Only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country now.
By Maayan Lubell

Jerusalem, July 19, 2018 (Reuters via The Huffington Post) - Israel passed a law on Thursday to declare that only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country, something members of the Arab minority called racist and verging on apartheid.

The “nation-state” law, backed by the right-wing government, passed by a vote of 62-55 and two abstentions in the 120-member parliament after months of political argument. Some Arab lawmakers shouted and ripped up papers after the vote.

“This is a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the history of the state of Israel,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset after the vote.

Largely symbolic, the law was enacted just after the 70th anniversary of the birth of the state of Israel. It stipulates that “Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it.”

The bill also strips Arabic of its designation as an official language alongside Hebrew, downgrading it to a “special status” that enables its continued use within Israeli institutions.

Israel’s Arabs number some 1.8 million, about 20 percent of the 9 million population.

Early drafts of the legislation went further in what critics at home and abroad saw as discrimination towards Israel’s Arabs, who have long said they are treated as second-class citizens.

Clauses that were dropped in last-minute political wrangling - and after objections by Israel’s president and attorney-general - would have enshrined in law the establishment of Jewish-only communities, and instructed courts to rule according to Jewish ritual law when there were no relevant legal precedents.

Instead, a more vaguely-worded version was approved, which says: “The state views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment.”

Even after the changes, critics said the new law will deepen a sense of alienation within the Arab minority.

“I announce with shock and sorrow the death of democracy,” Ahmed Tibi, an Arab lawmaker, told reporters.

Netanyahu has defended the law. “We will keep ensuring civil rights in Israel’s democracy but the majority also has rights and the majority decides,” he said last week.

“An absolute majority wants to ensure our state’s Jewish character for generations to come.”

Israel’s Arab population is comprised mainly of descendants of the Palestinians who remained on their land during the conflict between Arabs and Jews that culminated in the war of 1948 surrounding the creation of the modern state of Israel. Hundreds of thousands were forced to leave their homes or fled.

Those who remained have full equal rights under the law but say they face constant discrimination, citing inferior services and unfair allocations for education, health and housing.

In Ma’alot-Tarshiha, a municipality in northern Israel which was created by linking the Jewish town of Ma’alot and the Arab town of Tarshiha, there was anger among Arab residents.

“I think this is racist legislation by a radical right-wing government that is creating radical laws, and is planting the seeds to create an apartheid state,” said physician Bassam Bisharah, 71.

“The purpose of this law is discrimination. They want to get rid of the Arabs totally,” said Yousef Faraj, 53, from the nearby Druze village of Yanuh. “The Israelis want to destroy all the religions of the Arabs.”

Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, called the law a bid to advance “ethnic superiority by promoting racist policies.”

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Letter: “All democracies must do better by minorities”
The Berkshire Eagle, July 25, 2018

To the editor:

The July 20 Eagle had an article about a new law in Israel that describes Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. This new law may be redundant. Jews are 80 percent of the population of Israel, Hebrew is the primary national language and Jews run the government and most major public and private organizations. The law passed the Israeli parliament by only a slim majority. Some Israelis think this new law is necessary to re-affirm to the world that Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people, forever.

Israeli Arabs vote Arabs into the Israeli parliament, are doctors in Israeli hospitals and have thousands of students in Israeli universities. Israeli Arabs have a higher standard of living and higher literacy than Arabs living in majority Arab lands. Yet, as a minority in Israel, they do suffer some aspects of second class citizenship.

Minorities in most Western democracies, including our U.S., are subject to some forms of discrimination. Let's all work to improve the workings of democracies for ALL people.

Martin Silver, Lenox

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Friday, April 20, 2018

Maura Sullivan NH Democrat for US Congress 2018

April 20, 2018

Hello Maura Sullivan,

I read your op-ed in the NH Union Leader online. I wish to thank you for your military service and strong commitment to Veterans. I don't live in your congressional district, but you have my endorsement for U.S. Congress 2018 to succeed Representative Carol Shea-Porter. I am a 100% service-connected disabled Veteran.

- Jonathan Melle

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Another View -- Maura Sullivan: “Inconsistent leadership has failed our veterans”
By Maura Sullivan, op-ed, NH Union Leader, April 19, 2018

Over the last five months of our campaign, I have met dozens of veterans statewide and the caregivers who serve them at the Manchester Veterans Affairs Medical Center. What I hear is frustration with the low quality of care — and how lacking resources and leadership at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hamstrings local caregivers. Instability at the top, heightened in recent weeks by the replacement of former Secretary Dr. David Shulkin, only worsens local problems. I know because as a VA assistant secretary appointed by President Obama, I worked to improve veterans’ health care. What our veterans and the caregivers who serve them need — and need now — is reform, resources, and strong leadership that delivers the best care, not partisan politics and chaos. Without it, I expect we will hear more heartbreaking stories like these:

One veteran I met at an American Legion Post in Portsmouth said he must drive 45 minutes to the VA in Manchester, but often can’t get the care he needs. He wonders what the VA can do to bring care to him, as I’ve seen local VA hospitals do elsewhere for veterans residing more than 40 miles from the nearest center.

A VA caregiver I spoke with at Red Arrow Diner in Manchester said she sees with her own eyes the lack of resources, and it breaks her heart. She wonders where the federal dollars are to ensure we don’t fall short when it matters most for our veterans.

A veteran from Conway told me access to mental health care is difficult to access. He wonders how we can bring to Manchester the insights and expertise of top VA mental health care centers elsewhere in the VA system.

Unfortunately, crisis at the top of the VA is not new. Four years ago this spring, it came out that 40 veterans had died awaiting care at the VA hospital in Phoenix. Our system and our government failed them. As a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, I proudly joined the leadership team in 2014 that fought to fix the VA. Together, we worked to implement the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014. We initiated reforms like improving VA care for veterans who were on waitlists greater than 30 days and lived more than 40 miles from a hospital. “Choice,” as the bill is called, was imperfect, like many bills, but a helpful step forward. We were optimistic about the VA’s future.

Now, the VA will have its fourth secretary in less than four years. And our veterans and caregivers alike in Manchester and elsewhere district-wide suffer because of it.

And it’s not just Manchester. The VA is one of the largest agencies in the federal government — administering care for more than 9 million enrolled veterans, at more than 1,200 health care facilities nationwide, with a budget of over $180 billion. Imagine a business with four CEOs in four years — what is the impact? Likely a lot of frustration, minimal progress, and backsliding.

Augmenting the VA’s current care with private providers is necessary — we did it while I was at the VA to clear waitlist backlogs and put fewer veterans at risk. This is particularly important for specialties like mental health and routine care for veterans in more remote areas. However, private care is no panacea. We need public and private care. Most importantly, veterans want and need both.

Some would argue that choosing both is expensive. It is. But so is war. In so many ways, the Bush administration hid the true cost of the war in Iraq, a theater I served in and a war I saw firsthand become one of the worst foreign policy blunders of our lifetimes.

The federal government needs to invest in our veterans and their families with the same rigor we apply to nearly $700 billion in defense spending. It’s time Congress appoint a bipartisan commission to determine how best to improve our care for the brave men and women who serve our country.

Our country has some of the best health care capabilities in the world. But more than they should, our veterans struggle to access them. One out of 14 Americans has served in the military. They have earned easy access to the very best care we can offer. The answer to how we get there should be about resources and outcomes, not politics. Our veterans and their caregivers deserve nothing less.

Maura Sullivan, a former U.S. Marine Corps officer and Iraq veteran, is a Democratic candidate for New Hampshire’s First Congressional District.

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“Sullivan raises $475K in past 3 months for Congress race”
By Paul Steinhauser, news@seacoastonline.com - April 5, 2018

If elections were decided on campaign fundraising alone, then Maura Sullivan would be the overwhelming favorite to win the wide open race to succeed retiring four-term Democratic Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter.

Sullivan’s campaign reported early Thursday morning that the Democratic candidate raised more than $475,000 in the first quarter of this year.

The new fundraising figure follows an eye popping $430,000 that Sullivan brought in during the first nine weeks of her campaign for New Hampshire’s First Congressional District. The campaign highlighted that Sullivan’s raised over $910,000 since she announced her candidacy in late October. The new figures were first reported by Seacoastonline.

“I’m honored that so many people are supporting us, volunteering their time, resources, and energy to help strengthen our democracy and realize our vision of country over party and people over politics,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan, who moved to Portsmouth last July, is a U.S. Marine and Iraq War vet who later served at the Veterans Administration and the Pentagon under President Barack Obama.

Campaign cash figures are considered an important early barometer of a candidate’s clout and popularity, and of a campaign’s strength. Fundraising dollars can be used to pay for staff, voter outreach, and ads.

The Sullivan campaign highlighted that over half of the contributions were small dollar donations of $250 or less.

But it also acknowledged that only 20 percent of the first quarter haul consisted of “grassroots contributions from across the Granite State.”

The Sullivan campaign did not report how much money it spent in the January through March period, or how much cash it has on hand.

Sullivan appears to be the first of the 11 declared candidates in the First District race to reveal first quarter fundraising figures.

In the fourth quarter of last year, Sullivan greatly out raised all the other candidates in the race. Democratic Executive Councilor Chris Pappas of Manchester came in second, bring in nearly $220,000. No other candidate cracked $100,000 in contributions.

Sullivan’s campaign revealed their fundraising haul the morning after Pappas was backed by Sen. Maggie Hassan, the first major endorsement in the race for the Democratic nomination.

The First District is considered one of the most high-profile swing congressional districts in the country.

The district, which stretches from Manchester east to the Seacoast and north through the Lakes Region to White Mountains, has flip-flopped the past four elections between Shea-Porter and former GOP Congressman Frank Guinta. And the purple district in a purple state is also one of only 12 across the country controlled by Democrats that Donald Trump won in the 2016 presidential election.

The other Democrats in the race are state Rep. Mark Mackenzie of Manchester, a former fireman who served more than two decades as head of the state chapter of the AFL-CIO, retired Portsmouth trial lawyer Lincoln Soldati, a former Somersworth mayor who also spent 17 years as Strafford County attorney, state Rep. Mindi Messmer of Rye, an environmental scientist, Army and Iraq War veteran and current Rochester city attorney Terence O’Rourke, and technology executive and community activist Deaglan McEachern of Portsmouth.

Levi Sanders, the son of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, jumped into the Democratic nomination race in February. The legal services analyst lives in Claremont, which is in New Hampshire’s 2nd District.

There are three declared Republicans in the race. They are businessman and conservative state Sen. Andy Sanborn of Bedford, Eddie Edwards of Dover, a Navy veteran and former South Hampton police chief who also served as top law enforcement officer for the state’s liquor commission, and Mark Hounsell of Conway, a Carroll County commissioner and former state senator.

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Maura Sullivan, a former Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs and senior Pentagon official in the Obama Administration and Marine Corps Veteran will spend Wednesday in Carroll County on the campaign stump. (COURTESY PHOTO)

“Sullivan to stump in Carroll County on Wednesday”
conwaydailysun.com – Lloyd Jones – May 15, 2018

CONWAY — In 2006, Maura Sullivan went door-to-door around the Granite State campaigning for Carol Shea-Porter. Eight years later, she hopes to replace her in Washington as representative from the 1st Congressional District.

Shea-Porter (D-Rochester) announced last October she would not seek re-election.

Sullivan is viewed by some as the front-runner in a crowded Democrat Party field for the nomination. She has raised more money than any of the eight other Democrats and three Republican hopefuls.

The Portsmouth resident will spend Wednesday in Carroll County with stops scheduled for the Moose Mountain Democrats, meeting at the Poor People’s Pub in Sanbornville from noon-12:45 p.m.; and at The Conway Daily Sun for an editorial board from 2:30-3:30 p.m. She also will tour the Mt. Washington Economic Council office at Tech Village in Conway from 4-5 p.m.

Sullivan, 38, announced her candidacy last October. While she hasn’t run for office before, she has served her county. A former Marine Corps captain, Sullivan spent two years stationed in East Asia before deploying to Fallujah, Iraq," her website says, adding, "Maura was struck by how servicemen and women were paying the consequences for poor decisions made by out-of-touch leadership in Washington and resolved to do something about it.”

The Department of Defense website says that Sullivan's service included a deployment in Fallujah in 2005 with Combat Logistics Battalion 8, two years with the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in Okinawa, Japan, and serving as the Deputy Officer-in-Charge of the 2nd Marine Logistics Group Re-organization team.

She earned the Navy Commendation Medal and a Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal with a Gold Star. According to the DoD website, she earned an MBA from the Harvard Business School and an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School, where she was a John F. Kennedy Fellow and a George Fellow. She received a BA from Northwestern University, which she completed on a Marine Corps ROTC scholarship.

After her military service, Sullivan managed Frito Lay’s Central New England Zone business, and before that PepsiCo’s New England Franchise Bottling business.

Sullivan was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2010 as a commissioner on the American Battle Monuments Commission, where with her fellow commissioners she managed America’s overseas military cemeteries and memorials. She was later named the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Public & Intergovernmental Affairs at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Obama later appointed Sullivan as the assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. Sullivan was "principal staff assistant and adviser to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense for communication, news media relations, public outreach, engagement, public affairs and visual information,” according to the DoD website.

Sullivan and her fiance, Marc Sorel, a Naval Reserve Officer, own a home in Portsmouth.

Nine other Democrats have filed for Shea-Porter's seat: Shea-Porter’s Chief of Staff Naomi Andrews of Epping; state Rep. Mark MacKenzie of Manchester; Deaglan McEachern of Portsmouth; state Rep. Mindi Messmer of Rye; Rochester City Attorney Terence O’Rourke; Executive Councilor Chris Pappas of Manchester; Levi Sanders, son of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont; and former Strafford County Attorney Lincoln Soldati of Portsmouth.

Vying for the GOP nomination are tech executive Bruce Crochetiere of Hampton Falls; former South Hampton Police Chief Eddie Edwards of Dover; perennial candidate Andy Martin of Manchester; and state Sen. Andy Sanborn of Bedford. Former state Sen. Mark Hounsell of Conway withdrew from the race last month.

The filing deadline is June 15, and the primary election takes place Sept. 11.

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Democratic candidate Maura Sullivan visits the Mount Washington Valley Economic Council at the Technology Village in Conway on Wednesday. (Jamie Gemmiti Photo)

“Maura Sullivan states her case for Congress”
By Daymond Steer, Reporter for The Conway Daily Sun, May 16, 2018, Updated May 18, 2018

CONWAY — Retired Marine and former Obama administration official Maura Sullivan told the Sun on Wednesday that if elected to Congress she will question authority and fight for affordable health care.

Sullivan, 38, is a Democrat from Portsmouth who is seeking the seat now held by Carol Shea-Porter (D-Rochester). As a Marine captain, she served in Fallujah, Iraq, in 2005.

Shea-Porter has said she is not seeking re-election from the 1st Congressional District.

Meeting with the Sun's editorial board, Sullivan discussed her time in Iraq serving alongside fellow Marines who were only 19 or 20 years old.

"What I saw when I was there was that leaders in Washington at the time, this was 2005, made a lot of decisions that got a lot of other peoples' kids killed," said Sullivan. "I felt members of Congress in both political parties didn't ask the right questions, didn't ask tough questions, and I didn't think that was right."

Sullivan said that first off, the U.S. should not have been in Iraq. She said troops didn't get the resources they needed, such as armor on vehicles.

If elected, Sullivan said she would make a case to be on the House Armed Services Committee, on which Shea-Porter sits now. She then would "stand up to the president on matters of national security."

One of her priorities is to make sure the president — any president — consults Congress before taking military action like bombing another country.

Another goal is to calm the "chaos" and "bitterness" in Washington.

As for domestic issues, Sullivan said access to affordable health care is an issue she has experience with.

"I was appointed by President (Barack) Obama to serve on the leadership team of (Veterans Affairs), which is the largest integrated health-care system in the country," said Sullivan, adding the country isn't doing enough for its vets and that it's disheartening the VA doesn't have a secretary right now.

She said during her time at the VA, she helped to implement the Veterans' Choice Act, which she says provides vets with better access to care.

She said not just veterans worry about the price of health care.

"I think we need a public option," said Sullivan.

She said people should be able to buy into Medicare, that Congress needs to explore lowering the age of Medicare and that Medicare should able to negotiate for lower drug prices. There also needs to be more transparency when it comes to health-care costs, she said. Patients have a hard time shopping around because the costs are "opaque." She added that insurance companies need to do more to provide mental health coverage.

She would try to prevent Congress from doing away with protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Another domestic priority for her is curbing gun violence. She called for an assault weapon ban and universal background checks. She said AR-15s are not needed for hunting or personal protection. Arming teachers, she said, is a bad idea.

"Teachers are supposed to teach," she said. "I think it's absurd to even consider it."

During the meeting, she addressed criticisms that she is a "carpetbagger," a person who moved from out of state to run for office. She came to New Hampshire last summer.

A Midwesterner, Sullivan said she first came to New Hampshire at age 12 for skiing at Attitash.

"I fell in love with the White Mountains," she said, adding that she had hoped to attend Dartmouth College. When she didn't get in, she found a home in the Marine Corps instead.

During her time in the Marines, she lived in Japan, trained in Korea and served in Iraq. After retiring from the military she came to New England for graduate school.

Sullivan earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School, where she was a John F. Kennedy Fellow and a George Fellow. She received a BA from Northwestern University, which she completed on a Marine Corps ROTC scholarship.

In 2006, she campaigned for Shea-Porter and later in 2008 for Obama. Between 2006 and 2008 she said she would come to the state for hiking and skiing.

Sullivan and her fiance, Marc Sorel, a Naval Reserve Officer, bought a home in Portsmouth, where they originally intended to raise a family.

"That's what I thought I'd be doing for awhile until Carol said she wasn't running," said Sullivan. "I was going to help her get re-elected."

Asked if she would address news reports about military footage of UFOs, including a New York Times story from a retired Navy pilot who now lives in New Hampshire, Sullivan said she would look into it as part of her job on Armed Services Committee.

"I would be asking questions about digging deeper into the UFO issue," said Sullivan, who said she also would ask the Pentagon about its personnel and training budget because she is concerned about military accidents like the recent helicopter crash that killed a soldier from New Hampshire.

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“Tom Bergeron to star at Maura Sullivan for Congress event”
fosters.com – by Elizabeth Dinan – May 24, 2018

PORTSMOUTH — Democratic candidate for Congress Maura Sullivan announced television personality Tom Bergeron will appear at a Portsmouth house party and fundraiser for her campaign.

A Marine Corps veteran and former assistant secretary of Veterans Affairs in the Obama administration, Sullivan’s campaign said the public is invited to the June 12 event at a private home in Portsmouth.

Sullivan is a resident of the city’s West End and is running in a 10-person Democratic primary race for the First Congressional District seat being vacated by Democrat Carol Shea-Porter. Sullivan raised $480,000 during the first three months of the year, making her the top fundraiser in the race.

A Sullivan staffer told the Portsmouth Herald that Bergeron, host of “Dancing with the Stars” on ABC “is a big supporter” of Sullivan’s “commitment to service” and is making the unpaid appearance to support her campaign.

“As you know, Tom Bergeron proudly got his start in Portsmouth and I’m excited to have him back here in our neighborhood to support our campaign,” Sullivan said. “We’re looking forward to a really fun event and hoping he will inspire some memorable dance moves from our supporters here on the Seacoast.”

The address of the house party will be given to guests when they are confirmed by the campaign to attend. It will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., there is a $25 suggested contribution and RSVPs can be made by email to kaytlynn@maurafornh.com, or maurafornh.org/tom. Guests will be confirmed on a first-come, first-served basis and according to Sullivan’s campaign, there is a large back yard that can accommodate a good-sized crowd.

Before hosting “Dancing with the Stars” and “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” Bergeron cut his teeth as a disc jockey on Portsmouth’s WHEB radio. He’s also a frequent guest host of the New Hampshire Film Festival held annually in Portsmouth.

The “fun and conversation” event featuring Bergeron is being hosted by Seacoast residents Janet Prince and Peter Bergh, who, Sullivan’s campaign said, are supporters of New Hampshire Public Radio, New Hampshire Community Foundation and New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. Also hosting is Joanne Lamprey, former CEO of Lamprey Brothers, president of InterQual and a local leader in health care, energy, sustainability and business.

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“NH’s First Congressional Democratic Candidates Speak Out On Trump’s Family Separation Policy”
By NH Labor News, June 21, 2018

This week the world watched in horror as pictures, videos, and reporters descriptions of the Trump policy of ripping families apart at the border and placing children into "tent cities."

I reached out to all of the Democratic candidates running for Congress in the First Congressional District to see where they stand on this issue.

Maura Sullivan

“What is happening right now at our borders is un-American. Separating children from families is both cruel and immoral and is not consistent with our American values. This is not who we are as a country. We are a country of immigrants that protects families and opens our arms to those in need. President Trump should put an end to this immoral policy immediately. And Congress must act now to protect future families from this trauma and heartache.”

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“Maura Sullivan Is Bringing In Boatloads Of Out Of State Cash From Multiple Wall Street Companies”
By NH Labor News, July 10, 2018

Maura Sullivan raked in nearly $1 million dollars for her campaign in the first two quarters and very little is coming from New Hampshire

It is that time of the year again, the quarterly FEC reporting deadline. With so many people running for Congress in the First Congressional District (NH-01), I thought now would be a good time to take a look back at last quarter's FEC reports and see where the candidates started their fundraising, and where their money is coming from.

The big winner last quarter was: Maura Sullivan. She has raised 916,000 dollars in her campaign for Congress. The next closest in the Democratic Primary is Chris Pappas with $425,000 followed by Mark MacKenzie with $159,000. But looking closer we can see some serious differences between the fundraising being done by these candidates. It also gives a glimpse into who truly supports each candidate's run for Congress.

In her statement announcing the $475,000 she received in the first quarter of 2018, Maura Sullivan said, "Grassroots contributions from across the Granite State made up 20% of the campaign’s fundraising this quarter...Overall, over half of the campaign’s contributions were under $250."

A cursory glance at Open Secrets tells a very different story of Sullivan's fundraising. As of her first quarter filing, she had raised a total of $27, 573 from New Hampshire and another $3,150 that has "no state data." Her in-state donations (including "no state data") total less than four percent (4%) of her overall donations.

Compare that to the other Democratic and Republican campaigns in the first district. Pappas has 76% from in-state donations. Andy Sandborn has 86% in-state donations. Though Mindi Messmer has not raised a lot of money, what she has raised comes from New Hampshire with 89% in-state donations.

I should also point out that Deaglan McEachern also has some big outside investors. He raised $21,000 in-state and $92,000 from out of the state, with a large portion coming from Boston (where he went to school) and Chicago. At least McEachern has nearly 20% coming from New Hampshire.

Open Secrets also found that less than 15% of Sullivan's donations came from small donors who gave less than $200 dollars. So I guess it is possible that another 5% of her overall donations came in between $200 dollars and $250, but that seems unlikely as she has tons of donors who have maxed out contributions. That is $2,700 for the primary and $2,700 for the general election for a total of $5,400 dollars.

Here at the Labor News, we have discussed at length the corrupting influence of Money in Politics. We have also published numerous articles from Republicans and Democrats about how Wall Street funnels millions of dollars into our political system.

One of those companies is Bain Capital, the company that was at one time run by Mitt Romney before he left to become a full-time politician. The same company that made hostile takeovers a common phrase. The company that shuttered factories and shipped thousands of good paying union jobs to sweatshops overseas.

“Bain Capital, with Romney at its head, epitomizes the Gilded Age capitalism of the last decades, the casino finance that eventually brought the economy to its knees," wrote Bob Borosage at Campaign for America's Future in 2013.

Mother Jones wrote about how Bain Capital was spending millions lobbying and fighting for tax cuts that benefited the ultra-wealthy, like Bain's CEO Mitt Romney.

"In [2007], lobbying expenditures for the industry practically tripled. The spike was the result of an industry-wide effort to preserve a number of tax giveaways for the finance industry and its CEOs—including the carried interest rule, a tax loophole that allows Romney and other private equity mavens to reduce their taxes by millions of dollars."

In the first two filings by Sullivan, Bain Capital gave over $58,000 to her campaign.

From New Hampshire, Sullivan brought in $17,000 from 6 donors in the last quarter of 2017 and around $10,000 in the first quarter of 2018.

She has received more than twice the amount of money from Bain Capital than she has received from New Hampshire residents.

She also has a number of high powered donors from investment firms pushing tens of thousands of dollars into her campaign. Some include McKinsey & Co, Rally Ventures, Greylock Partners, Trident Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Goldman Sachs.

So the real questions are: who is pushing Maura Sullivan to run and funding her campaign? And what are these wealthy donors looking for in return?

In our previous article, we highlighted the connection between Sullivan and Emily's List, the powerhouse DC fundraising group. But there is no way to know from FEC reports who is pushing these Big Money donors to Sullivan's campaign. All we know is that she is getting boatloads of cash like we have never seen in NH before.

There is no doubt that whoever is funneling money from Wall Street directly into Sullivan's campaign are expecting something in return. This is what our corrupt political system has become: ultra-wealthy elites funding candidates on both sides of the aisle to enrich themselves.

"People are sick and tired of thinking that our politicians only represent the big donors, and that our government doesn’t belong to the people anymore,” said Dan Weeks, then Executive Director of the NH Rebellion, during the 2016 Presidential Primary.

We have not heard any more news about Chris Pappas's "Homegrown Campaign Pledge" to limit outside money in the primary. All we know is what John Distaso reported last month: that Sullivan basically said "No" without actually saying it.

UPDATE: Will @maurasullivan take the 'Homegrown Campaign Pledge' proposed by @ChrisPappasNH ? Here's what she told us when asked... #nh01 #nhpolitics #WMUR https://t.co/BzmKi5uxl0 pic.twitter.com/1ELRu2JSZ0

— John DiStaso (@jdistaso) June 28, 2018

Weeks is a strong supporter of Pappas' efforts to limit outside money. He said, “Understanding that this is not going to be fixed overnight, I want to see candidates get creative and do as much as they can under the existing laws to demonstrate a commitment to being accountable to their own constituents and not folks across the country...”

We reached out to the Sullivan campaign, twice, to ask for a response to some of our questions about her fundraising in and out of the state. We asked about how much she received from Bain Capital and other investment firms.

We received no response to our questions.

What we did receive was a press statement that stated she raised another $600,000 dollars in this most recent quarter. The FEC reports aren't available yet, so she has yet to release the details on who or where the money came from. Her campaign did tell me that they would get back to me with details about the donations.

Read NH Labor News coverage of Bain Capital here: http://nhlabornews.com/tag/bain-capital/

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Opinion
“Protect our democracy, vote for Maura Sullivan for Congress”
Seacoastonline.com – July 24, 2018

July 23 -- To the Editor:

Our beloved democracy is on the slippery slope to an autocratic dictatorship shoved downhill by the American oligarchy. We will lose all the benefits of a democracy in the next two years if we do not stop the slide in the upcoming November elections. As a former chair of the Hampton Democrats, and a retired Navy officer who has served our country, I can tell you that Maura Sullivan is the best candidate to protect our country and our democracy.

We need to elect proven leaders with the experience to hit the ground running, employing their self-assurance and dedication to solve difficult issues. We need to elect strong-minded individuals who have the confidence and maturity required to work on national issues. We need to elect representatives who believe in bipartisanship. We need to elect a Congressperson with the National Security experience to fit immediately into the House Armed Services Committee chair occupied by retiring Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. For all these reasons and more, we need to elect Maura Sullivan to represent New Hampshire’s first district in the US Congress.

Dick Desrosiers, CDR USN (ret)
Hampton

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“She moved to the state last year. Now she’s running for Congress. Can she win in N.H.?”
By James Pindell, The Boston Globe, August 13, 2018

Manchester, N.H. — On paper Maura Sullivan may be the perfect Democratic congressional candidate: Iraq War veteran, two Harvard degrees, and prominent roles in the Obama administration. She counts US Representative Seth Moulton and political adviser David Axelrod as allies, and she has raised more money than any other New Hampshire candidate for Congress in history.

There’s just one thing: Sullivan moved to the state three months before announcing her campaign, and she has almost zero ties to New Hampshire.

To be fair, when she moved to Portsmouth in July 2017 with her fiance, no one expected US Representative Carol Shea-Porter to announce her retirement. In fact, just a few months before Sullivan moved to New Hampshire,she was reportedly recruited to run for Congress in the Chicago suburbs where she grew up.

But if she pulls off a win in the Sept. 11 primary — something local political observers say is increasingly possible — she would further upend the state’s parochial political culture built on grass-roots activism. In the district that includes Manchester, the Seacoast, and the state’s Lakes Region, she faces 10 candidates, many of whom, unlike her, have been embedded in the state party ranks for decades.

“The defining narrative in this race has been about Sullivan, someone who came out of state and is raising all this out-of-state money,” said University of New Hampshire political science professor Dante Scala. “New Hampshire’s self image already took a huge hit when Donald Trump won the last Republican presidential primary without going through the traditional retail politics motions, but this could take it to another level.”

Among the others running for the nod in the First District are Shea-Porter’s chief of staff, Naomi Andrews; former Somersworth mayor and longtime county prosecutor Lincoln Soldati; the son of a two-time former nominee for governor, tech businessman Deaglan McEachern; the longtime head of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, Mark MacKenzie; and state Representative Mindi Messmer. Also in the race: The son of US Senator Bernie Sanders, Levi Sanders, who lives in Claremont, which is more than an hour outside of the district.

But observers say the Democratic nomination will probably come down to two candidates: Sullivan and Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, both of whom are 38 years old.

Pappas hails from a well-known Manchester family who own the Puritan Backroom restaurant, a local haunt for politicos. Both of the state’s US senators have endorsed him, and he has benefited from some outside money, with interest groups such as Equality PAC hoping to make him the first openly gay person to win major office in the state history.

Sullivan and Pappas are the only candidates airing television ads and are far ahead of competitors when it comes to staffing and campaign infrastructure. There has not been any recent public polling in the race.

Last week offered a capsule into the race: Pappas held a press conference Tuesday with Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who officially endorsed him. At the same moment, Sullivan was holding campaign events with former US secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. No other campaign held public events that day.

Pappas doesn’t directly refer to Sullivan’s loose ties to the district, but he does hint at them. For example, his campaign suggested in June that all candidates in the race take the “Homegrown Campaign Pledge,” in which they vow that a majority of campaign funds would come from the district.

According to The Center for Responsive Politics, only 2 percent of Sullivan’s $1.5 million in fund-raising comes from inside the district — compared with 53 percent for Pappas, who has brought in $665,800 so far.

Early in the race, every media interview with Sullivan included questions about her residency. Sullivan would reply she has fond memories of vacationing in the state as a kid and that she once knocked on doors for Shea-Porter in 2006 when she was at Harvard.

More recently, she dismisses the issue, saying it is not what voters care about. “The first chance my fiancé and I had to put down roots, we chose Portsmouth as our home,” she said in a statement to the Globe. “But what I hear from voters isn’t about how long I’ve lived here — what I hear is that our children are afraid to go to school because of gun violence, seniors and working families are worried about affording health care, women are concerned about their reproductive rights.”

New Hampshire voters have seen outsider candidates before. In 2014, Republicans nominated Scott Brown — a former US senator from Massachusetts — over three local candidates. That same year, Republicans picked as their candidate for governor Walt Havenstein, who barely survived a residency challenge to remove him from the ballot. (The only residency requirement for congressional candidates is to live in the state on Election Day.)

But there’s a key difference: Republicans, struggling for a strong contender to challenge Shaheen and then-governor Maggie Hassan four years ago, recruited Brown and Havenstein, whereas Democrats this year note there are plenty of local options for the First District.

‘The defining narrative in this race has been about [Maura] Sullivan, someone who came out of state and is raising all this out-of-state money.’

— Dante Scala, University of New Hampshire political science professor

The First District has been dubbed “the swingiest swing district” because it has switched party hands in every election since 2008. In 2016, both Trump and Shea-Porter, a Democrat, won the district.

James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell or subscribe to his Ground Game newsletter on politics: http://pages.email.
bostonglobe.com/GroundGameSignUp.

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To the Editor: “Maura Sullivan will fight for us”
fosters.com - August 9, 2018

To the Editor:

On Sept. 11 I’m voting for Maura Sullivan for Congress in District 1 as the Democrat to replace Carol Shea Porter. Her stand on the issues that matter to me as a grandmother and senior in the Granite State align with my values on the key issues of Health Care, Education, economic growth and opportunity, gun violence prevention, protecting our environment, women's rights and how to deal with the opioid crisis.

Maura Sullivan recognizes the right to health care for all and supports a public option so people could buy into Medicare . She advocates for more job training and supports a $15/hour minimum wage, and paid family leave. She recognizes the national security threat of Climate Change. She advocates for rejoining the Paris Accord and recognizes the need for regulations to protect our clean air and water. She supports investing in our infrastructure, repairing our roads and bridges. I recommend attending an event to hear Maura speak in person. She’s a dynamic, energetic leader who will work for New Hampshire with the determination and loyalty of a Marine.

The issues our state faces are National in scope and impact, so we need to send a strong proven leader to represent us. I’m voting for Maura Sullivan so she can fight for me!

Mary Siudut, Durham

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Saturday, April 7, 2018

Pittsfield politics 2018. The lovely Linda Tyer leads Pittsfield politics towards 2020.

“Tyer on shelter tiff: Animals' well-being 'a top priority'”
By Haven Orecchio-Egresitz , The Berkshire Eagle, April 7, 2018

PITTSFIELD — For the first time since the city terminated its contract with the Friends of Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter last month, Mayor Linda Tyer has addressed the matter in a public statement.

"The focus of this communication is to reassure you that the health and well-being of the animals in the city's care is a top priority," Tyer said in a written statement released late Friday. "As the news of the contract termination has evolved, I know that you and many in our community have questions. The Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter will remain open."

The shelter, a private nonprofit, has been under contract with the city to care for animals that are homeless or detained by the city throughout the mandatory seven-day holding period. The shelter then takes ownership of the animals and attempts to find homes for them.

The city gave the shelter 30 days' notice that it would be ending its contract March 30. That day, when two Pittsfield police officers arrived at the city-owned building, shelter staff refused to hand over the keys.

The staff has continued to operate the shelter as normal, despite the canceled contract.

On Thursday, the city and an attorney for the shelter came to an agreement, allowing the staff to continue working out of the building until April 30, at which point all the animals in possession of Sonsini staff must be removed from the building and the animals that are still in the mandatory seven-day holding period will remain.

"Once the city has taken back possession of the building, our Animal Control Officer will step in and manage the day-to-day operations of the shelter for a temporary period of time while we develop a plan for the long-term," Tyer said.

Until Friday, the city had declined to comment on its dispute with the shelter. The city has not confirmed why the contract was terminated.

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at horecchio@berkshireeagle.com, @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.

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Letter: “Sonsini legacy, animals betrayed by shelter 'friends'”
The Berkshire Eagle, April 10, 2018

To the editor:

Eleanor Sonsini must be rolling in her grave.

Animals were her life, but chances are, the actors in the uber-drama playing out at the "Friends of the Eleanor Sonsini shelter" never got to meet her. Maybe if they had, they would show integrity rather than making a spectacle out of the nonprofit that bears her name. Unfortunately, it's the animals that are the pawns and are paying the price in this shameful reality show.

I witnessed Eleanor's undaunted dedication in the 1980s when I was a veterinary technician in Pittsfield. She would drive around rescuing stray dogs and cats, pay out of her pocket for their spay/neuter and vet care, and then find homes for them. Hers was a gallant mission; naming the shelter after her was befitting. But it now appears that over the last years, Friends of Sonsini's original intentions were superseded by politics, power plays and boards of directors who have spiraled things out of control.

Around 20 years ago, I interned at Pittsfield's municipal animal shelter as part of my BCC studies. Back then, it was a dingy dog pound that essentially warehoused unclaimed dogs and cats and was unknown to the average citizen. Dogs slept on hard plastic pallets, languished in bare cages and rarely got outdoor time; the cats were caged in a windowless broom closet. As in many city/town pounds, the animals' care was at the mercy of the animal control officers, and there were only a handful of volunteers who had to work around the ACO's schedule.

It was a profoundly heartbreaking place to be, as I saw things that bothered me to no end, and too often, my attempts to improve things for the animals were ignored. While the Humane Society across town had an endless array of volunteers and donors, the animals at the city shelter were largely forgotten.

So in 2006, when the city contracted with Friends of Sonsini, things looked promising for the animals, and the comfort of the animals improved greatly. But too many staff changes and a parade of board members with conflicting agendas over the years have undermined the nonprofit's mission.

It's time to remember that the animal shelter belongs to all of us who live here and pay our city taxes. I want to know that qualified people who truly care about the animals will be there to provide food, water, exercise/playtime, and TLC. It should not be left to the ACO, police, or any of the people embroiled in the current fiasco at the shelter. Why not hire the Humane Society to provide the care? Too many Friends of Sonsini staff and volunteers have been hired, and then fired. Too many dedicated volunteers are demoralized and worried about the animals there.

The mayor, city leaders and the embattled Sonsini board need to clean this mess up. They owe it to the memory and legacy of Eleanor Sonsini. But most of all, they owe it to the animals, who are now in the crosshairs.

Yvonne Borsody, Pittsfield

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“City streets gone to pot”
The Berkshire Eagle, Letters, April 10, 2018

To the editor:

Potholes are everywhere in Pittsfield and they are just plain awful. We're like a bunch of drunks weaving all over the place to avoid them. No one seems to care. Our ward councilor lives on one of the worst ones in our neighborhood and has done nothing either.

The tax dollars, which keep going up, that we pay for maintenance haven't produced anything. We've waited too long and need to call for immediate action.

Joe Anello, Pittsfield

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Letter: “Local history lost through art sale”
The Berkshire Eagle, April 10, 2018

To the editor:

Selling the two Norman Rockwell paintings is a travesty. These paintings are local history that can never be replaced. The art world has many paintings that are less localized. There will never be another artist like Norman Rockwell who so represents our community.

This sale of all the artwork is a tremendous loss for the children of Berkshire County who may never be exposed to such a varied collection.

Alice Nathan, Irving Marks, Lee

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Letter: “Museum supporter betrayed by sale”
The Berkshire Eagle, April 10, 2018

To the editor:

Many lengthy and articulate letters have expressed the outrage and incomprehensible shock at the callousness of the trustees of the Berkshire Museum. I can only say this: As a resident of the Berkshires since 1973 who moved to this wondrous area largely because of the plethora of wonderful cultural venues available and who until this time had much appreciation for our small but beautiful Berkshire Museum, I feel utterly betrayed by their fundraising decision to sell so many incredible works of art by renowned artists, especially our own Norman Rockwell. I truly believe it was the intention of the donors to keep these jewels in place right here in the Berkshires.

Maybe the trustees need to set their sights a tad lower, pull back on extending a lovely building, and find new ways to raise the monies necessary to continue to offer the residents and visitors a special glimpse of a variety of art and history.

They can, meanwhile, count me out!

Ann G. Spadafora, Becket

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“Berkshire Museum lists 13 works, including 2nd Rockwell, for May auction”
By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, April 10, 2018

PITTSFIELD — Trustees of the Berkshire Museum say they hope to retain two-thirds of the works they can legally sell, acknowledging the "strong feelings" of those who oppose their financial rescue plan.

The museum Tuesday identified 13 works that will be offered at four May auctions at Sotheby's in New York City. The move came five days after the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County granted the museum's petition to lift any restrictions and allow it to seek up to $55 million in proceeds under terms worked out with the state Attorney General's Office.

The list of works to be sold next month includes Norman Rockwell's "Shaftsbury Blacksmith Shop," meaning that both of the late Berkshire County artist's heralded scenic paintings — both given by Rockwell to the museum — will leave the Pittsfield museum's collection.

In a private transaction, the museum plans to sell Rockwell's "Shuffleton's Barbershop" to an unidentified nonprofit museum that pledges to keep it on public display.

And in a bid to encourage museums to bid on the 13 works now scheduled to come up at Sotheby's high-profile spring sales, the museum and auction house will allow such buyers special financing terms.

"We recognize the strong feelings of those opposed to any sale," Elizabeth McGraw, the trustees' president, said in a release. "We worked hard, particularly in the case of `Shuffleton's Barbershop,' to address their concerns and keep the painting in public view and even in the Berkshires for a time."

The sale agreement calls for "Shuffleton's" to be exhibited for up to 24 months at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge.

McGraw said the museum hopes that proceeds from the sale of the initial 14 works "will allow us to hold the remaining works that had been approved for deaccession."

For at least one opponent of the sales, that offer rang hollow Tuesday.

Tom Patti, a Pittsfield artist whose work hangs in the museum and in collections around the country, said he no longer trusts the museum to properly care for its collection, which he believes belongs to the public.

"All this work was removed from Pittsfield without the public's consent," he said. "It was unique that those paintings existed in our community."

Patti added, "I have no trust for anything they say — whether they sell one or all of them."

Patti was among nearly 10 plaintiffs in two civil actions who attempted to block the sales, at first with support from the office of Attorney General Maura Healey.

After the plaintiffs were found in November to lack legal standing, Healey's office intensified an investigation into the museum's plan to sell 40 works of art. On Feb. 9, Healey's office and the museum announced they had come to terms allowing the sale of up to 40 works, in several groups.

The museum plans to use most of the money to bulk up its endowment and draw off earnings to counter what it says has been a recurring yearly deficit of more than $1 million. It will also tap proceeds to fund renovations to address problems with its 39 South St. building, and in pursuit of a new approach to exhibits that emphasizes multimedia and interactive presentations.

Freed by ruling

Tuesday's announcement identified the first group of works to be sold, all of which were freed up for sale by Thursday's ruling from Justice David A. Lowy.

Lowy's decision came one day before a deadline to submit marketing materials for the May auctions, the museum said.

The ruling ended a months-long legal battle between the museum and community members, museum industry representatives and Rockwell family members who opposed the sale.

Other artists whose works are now listed for auction at Sotheby's include William Bouguereau, Alexander Calder and Frederic Edwin Church. The museum said it has notified the Attorney General's Office of the identity of the 13 works selected for auction, as required by the agreement reached in early February.

If the May auctions plus the private museum sale of "Shuffleton's" fetch $55 million, the sales would be halted, the museum said Tuesday.

That would mean that 26 other works that had been identified for sale, including Albert Bierstadt's "Giant Redwood Trees of California," Calder's "Dancing Torpedo Shape," and Thomas Moran's "The Last Arrow" would be returned by Sotheby's to Pittsfield.

The artworks headed to May sales include works previously valued by Sotheby's for sales last fall that were canceled when Healey's office won a preliminary injunction from the Massachusetts Appeals Court. That court halted sales that Judge John Agostini of Berkshire Superior Court had sanctioned in a November ruling, setting aside objections raised by the two plaintiff groups as well as Healey's office.

Five months later, with "Shuffleton's" already headed to another museum, Sotheby's and the local museum's trustees are taking steps to see if other works can remain accessible to the public.

To that end, Sotheby's and the museum will offer extended payment terms to public institutions that seek to bid. Sotheby's standard terms require full payment in 30 days.

In this case, it will allow installments over six months or longer to public institutions, the museum said.

In his decision last week, Justice Lowy urged the museum to consider ways to keep the art available to the public.

In her statement, McGraw said board members reviewed all the works that the court had approved for sale.

She said the goal was to retain works that could play a role as it retools its mission to focus on "bringing people together for experiences that spark creativity and innovative thinking by making inspiring educational connections among art, history, and natural science."

Based on initial bid ranges provided by Sotheby's, the 14 works now designated for sale could bring from a low of $42,220,000 to a high of $61,000,000.

While that does not include an additional 26 works first listed for sale, the 14 represent the lion's share of expected auction values.

The entire original group of works had been valued by Sotheby's at a low of $52,615,000 to a high of $76,180,000.

That means that, based on the high-bid range, the value of the 26 works that the museum says it hopes to retain is about $15 million.

David Peter Moser, a member of the Save the Art-Save the Museum group who has worked as a corporate art consultant, said he finds it hard to believe that the museum selected works to sell based on what it needed to retain for its educational mission.

A bigger factor, he said, would be the marketability of particular works and how they fit in with other pieces, from different sellers, on consignment at particular auctions.

The Calder work for sale, "Double Arc and Sphere," was likely chosen because it is "prettier."

"It's something that is more desirable to the public at large than the other piece," Moser said.

The work by Henry Moore that is to be sold, "Three Seated Women," might top its high-bid range of $600,000, he predicted, and Francis Picabia's "Force Comique" might as well.

"They're pretty exceptional works by those artists and are highly desirable," Moser said.

He applauded the steps the museum and Sotheby's have taken to make it easier for museums to finance purchases of the art.

"I think that it's an exceptional idea," Moser said. "It does seem like creative financing."

Like other sale opponents, Lynn Villency Cohen, an art historian, believes the museum should have allowed members of the public to know that financing for its New Vision depended on selling works. For that reason, she said Tuesday, she finds it hard to accept that the museum is acting in the public interest to keep 26 works.

"If a portion of the valuable art can be saved and adequately cared for, it's a start," Cohen said.

Sales plan

One of the works deemed not to be critical to the museum's mission is Picabia's "Force Comique."

Marilyn Patti, who joined her husband, Tom, in opposing any sales from the collection, said Tuesday she regrets that the work will go on the block.

"Picabia is one of the only pieces in the collection from that time period," she said, referring to the 1913 work by the French avant-garde artist. "We don't want any of them sold."

The Picabia will go to auction May 14 at Sotheby's "Impressionist & Modern Art Evening," along with Moore's "Three Seated Women."

Of the remaining works, the sales schedule is as follows:

- May 16, at the "Contemporary Art Evening," the museum will sell Calder's mobile "Double Arc and Sphere."

- May 22, at the "European Art" auction, the museum will sell: Bouguereau's "L'Agneau Nouveau-Ne" and the same artist's "Les deux soeurs (La Bourrique)," along Charles Francois Daubigny's "Paysans allant aux champs (Le Matin),"Adriaen Isenbrant's "The Flight into Egypt" and "The Temptation of Adam and Eve," and Alberto Pasini's "Faubourg de Constantinople."

- May 23, at the "American Art" auction, the museum will sell: Rockwell's "Blacksmith's Boy — Heel and Toe (Shaftsbury Blacksmith Shop)," Rembrandt Peale's "George Washington," Church's "Valley of Santa Isabel, New Granada" and John La Farge's "Magnolia."

'Secret' process

Tom Patti said he remains unsettled by what he sees as a secretive process.

When trustees announced plans to sell art last July, officials at first declined to identify which pieces would leave the collection.

"There was no need to keep that secret," he said. "Knowing that it was wrong, they kept it secret."

But in her statement, McGraw returned to a theme of necessity expressed by the museum repeatedly over the past three seasons.

"We are moving forward to secure the future of the Berkshire Museum," she said. "We now hope we can raise what the museum needs by offering for sale fewer than half of the works originally anticipated. That's good for the museum and the community we serve."

Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com, at @larryparnass on Twitter and 413-496-6214.

On the block ...

The following works are listed for sale in May at Sotheby's:

May 14: Francis Picabia, "Force Comique"

May 14: Norman Rockwell, "Blacksmith's Boy - Heel and Toe (Shaftsbury Blacksmith Shop)"

May 14: Henry Moore, "Three Seated Women"

May 16: Alexander Calder, "Double Arc and Sphere"

May 22: William Bouguereau, "L'Agneau Nouveau-Ne"

May 22: William Bouguereau, "Les deux soeurs (La Bourrique)"

May 22: Charles Francois Daubigny, "Paysans allant aux champs (Le Matin)"

May 22: Adriaen Isenbrant, "The Flight into Egypt"

May 22: Adriaen Isenbrant, "The Temptation of Adam and Eve"

May 22: Alberto Pasini, "Faubourg de Constantinople"

May 23: John La Farge, "Magnolia"

May 23: Rembrandt Peale, "George Washington"

May 23: Frederic Edwin Church, "Valley of Santa Isabel, New Granada"

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The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, currently under construction in Los Angeles, is the buyer of "Shuffleton's Barbershop," one of the Norman Rockwell paintings being sold from the collection of the Berkshire Museum. Image provided by Mad Architects.


“Lucas museum buys Rockwell's 'Shuffleton's Barbershop'”
By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, April 11, 2018

PITTSFIELD — The future home of the devoted musicians depicted in "Shuffleton's Barbershop" will be a sleek, 300,000-square-foot museum now rising in Exposition Park in south Los Angeles.

When the Berkshire Museum said in February that an unidentified nonprofit museum would acquire Norman Rockwell's acclaimed painting, the list of prospective buyers was short.

On Wednesday, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art made it official: It has acquired the painting. The museum, which broke ground March 14 and is expected to open in 2022, was co-founded by George Lucas, the famed movie director, and his spouse, Mellody Hobson.

In an interview last month with The New York Times, Don Bacigalupi, president of the Lucas museum, did not rule out his institution's interest in the 1950 Rockwell painting, given by the artist to the Berkshire Museum.

"There's nothing that I can say at this point," Bacigalupi told the newspaper.

That changed Wednesday, when Bacigalupi announced the acquisition, calling Rockwell "one of our nation's most important storytellers" and noting the importance of his work to the Berkshires and Massachusetts as a whole.

The Lucas museum, he said, is honored "to become the public steward of this major work."

"This cultural treasure will continue to be seen and enjoyed by the public in an American museum, where it will be a source of inspiration for generations to come," Bacigalupi said.

The museum did not reveal the sale price. The Pittsfield museum first planned to sell "Shuffleton's" at a Sotheby's auction. The bid range placed on the work at the time was $20 million to $30 million.

The painting will be loaned to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge this year and be exhibited there into 2020, the California museum said. That timetable adheres to an agreement reached between the Pittsfield museum and the state attorney general in February after months of litigation.

The other possible buyer, in what turned out to be a private transaction handled by Sotheby's, was considered by most observers to be the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., founded by Alice L. Walton. Though now working for Lucas as the California museum's founding president, Bacigalupi formerly served with the Arkansas museum.

Crystal Bridges and the new Lucas museum were seen as top candidates because both possess works by Rockwell — and have deep pockets.

"Shuffleton's Barbershop" is considered to be the Berkshire County artist's finest painting, lending another reason for high-profile collections to want to count it among their holdings.

But the Arkansas museum confirmed early Wednesday, before the Lucas museum announcement, that it is not the unnamed buyer.

"You can rule us out. It was not us," said Beth Bobbitt, the museum's public relations manager.

Laurie Norton Moffatt, director and CEO of the Stockbridge museum, expressed appreciation to the Lucas museum for keeping the painting available to the public, including the planned loan to her institution.

"It is especially meaningful for the people of Berkshire County who will have the opportunity to enjoy this masterpiece for a few more years," she said in remarks provided by the Lucas museum.

Rich in Rockwells

The Lucas museum's seed collection, gathered by the filmmaker, includes multiple works by Rockwell, and mentions the artist prominently in its promotional materials.

The collection includes 13 paintings by Rockwell and eight studies. Among the paintings are "The Gossips" (1948), "After the Prom" (1957), "River Pilot" (1940) and "Couple in Rumbleseat" (1935). Lucas was identified as the person who paid $46 million when another Rockwell work, "Saying Grace," came up for sale in 2013. That was the highest price paid to date for a Rockwell work.

According to MAD Architects, the Los Angeles museum's designer, the $1.5 billion project is meant to suggest that "a futuristic spaceship" has landed on its 11-acre site, located near other museums and the University of Southern California campus.

"People from all walks of life are welcome to feel and appreciate this cultural paradise," the architectural firm says of the future museum on its website. "The interior of the building has been designed as a huge bright and open cave."

At the groundbreaking last month, Lucas said his goal is to help spur imagination among museum visitors and "inspire them to dream beyond what is considered possible."

"Narrative art and storytelling stirs our emotions, shapes our aspirations as a society, and is the glue that binds us together around our common beliefs," he said in remarks provided by the museum.

One key to that, the museum says, is to present works where patrons engage "with art forms they may already recognize and love."

"Imagine a place where a fan of Norman Rockwell's familiar art makes a meaningful connection with a cutting edge 21st-century digital animator," the museum says on its website.

The Lucas family expects to provide at least a $400 million endowment for the museum. The collection will present works in three categories — narrative art, the art of the cinema (including outtakes from the filmmaker's projects, including "Star Wars") and digital art.

When the new museum was considering locating in San Francisco, a newspaper's art critic there got an early look at the collection. "The value of these materials goes beyond their rarity as objects ... they are the irreplaceable source of our view, literally, of the world," Charles Desmarais wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Going nonprofit

Opposition to the sale, including by three of the late artist's sons, included concerns that a sale at auction might curtail public access to the painting.

The agreement announced Feb. 9 between the Berkshire Museum and Attorney General Maura Healey addressed that — and was hailed as a breakthrough after months of litigation.

Not only would the work be bought by another museum, rather than a private individual, the parties said, it would be loaned to the Norman Rockwell Museum for up to 24 months after the sale.

That timing led to additional speculation that the Lucas museum would acquire the painting, since it would not be able to show the work until its expected opening in 2022.

One other person known to collect works by Rockwell, the film director and producer Steven Spielberg, recently joined the board of the Lucas museum. The February agreement said the painting would be purchased by another museum, taking Spielberg out of contention.

Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com, at @larryparnass on Twitter and 413-496-6214.

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Letter: “Museum decision frees barbarians to pillage”
The Berkshire Eagle, April 13, 2018

To the editor:

The New Vision at the Berkshire Museum is a victory for the barbarians; their intentions to demolish the interior makes them vandals. Every art collection in every museum in the country is now in play. Mark Gold and Van Shields might as well franchise their product.

Zenas Crane's noble vision means nothing to these ignoble savages because they know nothing about art, and they don't care. The Eagle covered Shields' history thoroughly. Gold provided the ideology for turning art into gold, a pot worth upward of $50 million. Elizabeth McGraw knew how to keep the board members on a tight leash with warnings that "loose lips sink ships." Sotheby's provided the upscale pirate's den where the plan was polished. Then came the astonishing failure of Attorney General Maura Healey to do her job. At first, she seemed to recognize the culpable negligence of the board, but without a word of explanation, she turned and became the museum's best friend in Justice Lowry's courtroom.

The failure of the board to do what every board of a nonprofit organization is required to do — raise money or step aside — was conveniently forgotten. Museums now can stop fundraising and sell their collection to keep the doors open, sell the treasures, which, above all, they have a duty to preserve.

Judge Agostini at least offered a limp apology for approving the sale. Lowry saw no problems anywhere and went into the weeds to invent a dizzy, complicated disposal plan for "Shuffleton's Barbershop," seemingly designed to enable a rich, unnamed individual (we now know it was George Lucas) in California to evade sales taxes by exhibiting the painting in the Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge for a few years (we now know the Lucas museum won't be finished for years).

The looting was legitimized with a stroke of Lowry's pen, just in time for Sotheby's next auction. The barbarians are now free to play their game without interference and the New Vision looks more and more like what it always was, vintage flim-flam updated for the way we live now. One day people will look back on the museum and also recall the Pittsfield train station that was demolished for no good reason and recognize both as victims of the same curse.

Jonas Dovydenas, Lenox

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Letter: “Loss of museum's art conflicts with cultural goals”
The Berkshire Eagle, April 16, 2018

To the editor:

On the front page of the April 15 [2018] edition of The Eagle was a marvelous story from the Sunday New York Times about people moving from New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area to the Berkshires for our unique mixture culture and the nature. No amount of money could buy that advertising. Turn to Page A2, however, and one found a full-page statement signed by more than a hundred Berkshire County residents decrying the sale of the major works of art in the collection of the Berkshire Museum. Young, vigorous, smart people are coming here for our culture, but that culture is fast leaving, at least from Pittsfield. What a sad contrast between forward and backward movement.

North Adams is about to get a new building by Frank Gehry, probably the most creative architect working in the world today. Pittsfield is about to spend a chunk of money from the sale of its paintings on a third-rate — at best — wrecking of its historical architecture. Many thousands will eagerly visit the future Extreme Railroad Museum in North Adams to see the Gehry building. No one will choose to visit the Berkshire Museum for its new "architecture." The new museums on the boards for North Adams will be the products of imagination, as well as skill and hard work at money raising. There is no evidence of any of those qualities from the management or trustees of the Berkshire Museum, whose only success at raising funds so far is the sale of a particularly fine work by Norman Rockwell who gave it to the museum for the people of Berkshire County to enjoy in perpetuity. One wants to weep.

How could those in charge of the Berkshire Museum be so totally out of touch with what is transforming our county into a more prosperous and lively setting for us all? This is not the time to rally around a truly bad plan. This is a time to stop and think hard about what the best, most timely course might be. The future of the Berkshire Museum belongs to all of us. It's not too late.

E. J. Johnson, Adams
The writer is the Amos Lawrence Professor of Art, emeritus, at Williams College.

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Our Opinion: “Fiber optics enhance bet on Berkshires”
The Berkshire Eagle, Editorial, April 16, 2018

Last week, The New York Times, arbiter of all things hip and trendy, bestowed its coveted seal of approval upon Berkshire County in the form of a lengthy article in its Real Estate section titled "Betting on the Berkshires" (reprinted in The Eagle, April 15 [2018]). The piece reported that those at the spear point of public taste have now deemed the Berkshires worthy of investment. It extolled the cultural virtues of North County with its world class cultural attractions and old mill buildings being converted into trendy restaurants and retail establishments, as well as South County's quaintness, charm, scenery, relaxed atmosphere and all the other attributes that make Berkshirites swell with pride.

The Times' rhapsodizing, however, didn't extend to the area in between, describing it as "the slightly scruffier central part of the county, including Pittsfield," which reduces the Shire City to the status of being a place visitors might wish to drive through to get from one attractive locale to another. Perhaps The Times would deign to advise Pittsfielders on ways to burnish their city's image to be less offensive to Gotham's sensibilities.

As reported in a couple of related stories in the same edition of The Eagle, a team of developers has renovated and repurposed old buildings at 47 Railroad Street in Great Barrington, citing a shortage of housing at all levels of affordability. The complex, which includes 13 high-end apartments along with retail, restaurant and office space, represents a $7.5-million investment in the town that resulted in the employment of approximately 85 mostly local tradespeople and subcontractors. Half the condos are already leased, and there is a waiting list for the rest. Already, the same developers are working on another equally ambitious project in Great Barrington.

It's refreshing to see more outside interest shown in what Berkshires residents have long known about their piece of heaven, but there is one requirement of the modern era that outweighs all the rustic charm, culture, physical beauty and laid-back atmosphere that would make a locale attractive to businesses and new residents — high-speed fiber-optic internet service. Fortunately, Great Barrington has access to this critical amenity. Without it, one of the new businesses setting up shop in offices in the 47 Railroad building never would have given the town a second glance. Warrior Trading, an online company that teaches clients how to trade stocks, relies on the speed of fiber-optic to be an effective player. As the business' owner, Ross Cameron, told The Eagle, "I trade stocks, and even though I'm 150 miles from New York, seconds matter."

Mr. Cameron's company has presences in Vermont and California, and due to the virtual nature of his business, he could have decided to establish his new offices anywhere in the country. Clearly, Great Barrington's attributes attracted him to the area, but he made it clear that fiber-optic internet access clinched the deal. Warrior Trading's occupying of the 47 Railroad office space encourages more investment activity, providing more employment for local construction workers and artisans. In other words, high-speed fiber-optic internet service has become not just a convenience but, when absent, a deterrent to economic development, slowing the expansion of home-grown businesses and discouraging businesses elsewhere from settling here.

Lately, there has been much talk of trains from metropolitan hubs whisking tourists to the county, but ensuring universal fiber-optic access must be an equally important priority if the county is going to develop sustained growth — both locally-generated and attracted from afar — and become truly vibrant. Without it, the Berkshires will remain just a nice place to visit.

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April 12, 2018

Pittsfield politics is a textbook case study of financial mismanagement! Every fiscal year, they raise municipal taxes by 5% and debts by tens of millions of dollars. It is fiscally unsustainable! The lovely Linda Tyer does not live in reality! The average Pittsfield taxpayer is financially constrained by their local tax bill. Pittsfield is one of the most economically unequal communities in the state and nation! There are no living wage jobs for the average worker in Pittsfield! GE left town, Sabic left town, among other past living wage employers. The only living wage jobs are public and non-profit employment positions. The rub is that you have to politically-connected to obtain and retain a plum or cushy job in Pittsfield. The Good Old Boys run the show! Over the past several decades in Pittsfield, thousands of people have moved out of the area. Moreover, almost all the good jobs vanished, too. The majority of residents who have been left behind in Pittsfield are part of the underclass. To illustrate, all K – 6 Pittsfield public school students are eligible for free school lunches. The Berkshire Eagle only reports propaganda about Pittsfield politics. The local daily rag supports higher local taxes, and the unfunded mandates by the EPA for Pittsfield’s waste-water upgrade. Meanwhile, the Housatonic River is still polluted with cancer-causing toxic/industrial waste chemicals called PCBs! The hypocrisy by the EPA is huge! The April 24th vote for the waste-water upgrade comes before municipal budget deliberations. It is only a matter of time before Pittsfield politics becomes fiscally insolvent and then bankrupt!

– Jonathan Melle

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State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, background, and state Sen. Adam Hinds, foreground, each speak with someone during the 'speed-repping' event held at the Berkshire Athenaeum on Friday afternoon [4/13/2018]. Credit: Caroline Bonnivier Snyder – The Berkshire Eagle

Pittsfield’s Director of Administrative Services Roberta McCulloch-Dews listens during the ‘speed-repping’ event held at the Berkshire Athenaeum on Friday afternoon [4/13/2018]. Credit: Caroline Bonnivier Snyder – The Berkshire Eagle

Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer speaks with someone during the ‘speed-repping’ event held at the Berkshire Athenaeum on Friday afternoon [4/13/2018]. Credit: Caroline Bonnivier Snyder – The Berkshire Eagle

“At 'speed-repping,' citizens engage their representatives on 'more personal' level”
By Haven Orecchio-Egresitz , The Berkshire Eagle, April 13, 2018

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire residents got the rare opportunity Friday to get up close and personal with their local and state government representatives at the Berkshire Athenaeum first ever "speed-repping" event.

From 2 to 4 p.m. individuals spent five minutes of one-on-one time sharing concerns and ideas on topics like transportation, potholes and how to retain young people, with Mayor Linda Tyer, state Sen. Adam Hinds, state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, City Council President Peter Marchetti, Pittsfield Director of Administrative Services Roberta McCulloch-Dews, and School Committee member Dennis Powell.

"Libraries are the center of civic engagement," said Outreach Librarian Alex Geller, who's been organizing the event since January. "We're just so happy to have representatives that were not only willing, but excited to meet with their constituents in a transparent manner."

Geller got the idea for "speed-repping" through an "urban library" community online. A library in Memphis had pitched the idea and Geller decided to bring it to the Berkshires.

The event gave people an opportunity to meet with several of their representatives at the same time, but also to meet other residents with similar ideas and work together, Geller said.

On Friday, individuals signed up for time slots with the representatives of their choice and were able to chat with them, undisturbed.

Farley-Bouvier said that she heard from a senior citizen who lives downtown and relies on the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority.

The issue of transportation is particularly timely, Farley-Bouvier said, because she is currently advocating for an increased transportation budget at the statehouse.

One penny of every sales tax dollar collected in the Berkshires goes directly to the MBTA in Boston, which equals more than $30 million leaving the Berkshires each year, Farley-Bouvier said.

Most of Farley-Bouvier's constituents have never taken the T, she said.

The woman's comments reinforced the need for an increased transportation budget in the Berkshires, she said.

Transportation is also a way to retain young people in the county, which was also a concern of residents Friday, she said.

At least one resident expressed concern that the city might focus more on recruiting young professionals, but were less interested in other young people in the community.

Powell said that in addition to transportation, in order to maintain a population of young residents, they need to have a lively social scene.

"Young people want more than jobs," he said.

But the afternoon wasn't just about residents airing grievances, some came with fresh ideas for their representatives.

Tyer said she met with a woman who was passionate about recycling and suggested that it may have been "word choice" that deterred people from the city's plan to bring "toters" to the city.

Other regions in the country used phrases like "roller baby" to describe the city-issued 45-gallon tote for trash bins and a 96-gallon tote recycling. The woman also suggested that a blog about what can and can't be recycled could also assist in raising the recycling habits in the city, Tyer said.

Edward Hughes, of Pittsfield, has lived in the city since the 1950s and frequently engages with his representatives either at their office, at city hearings, or when he bumps into them in the community.

On Friday, he took the opportunity to chat with them all at once on a wide range of topics from Spectrum cable to marijuana legalization.

"I didn't come with only one thing in mind," he said. "I was more comfortable. This is more personal that when you see them on the street."

While individuals have the opportunity to drop in and see their government officials at their office, Hinds said events like these may save constituents an entire day of hopping from building to building.

McCulloch-Dews said Friday's event was representative of an average day at the mayor's office, where staff members find themselves addressing a wide array of issues each day.

Not only does her office try to address each individuals concerns, but staff also tries to identify opportunities for residents to become involved in community groups with similar missions, she said.

"We have to adapt on the fly. ... You're always changing hats," McCulloch-Dews said. "It's good. It makes you feel engaged and you're hearing what people really care about."

Geller intends to continue to host "speed-repping" at least annually, and expand it to include representatives from the police and fire departments.

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at horecchio@berkshireeagle.com, @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.

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Letter: “School Committee should restore Columbus Day”
The Berkshire Eagle, April 16, 2018

To the editor:

Our Pittsfield School Committee has always had the students' interests at heart. However, I take exception to the way it has voted to eliminate Columbus Day to make it Indigenous People's Day on the school calendar. Not only will students miss out on the achievements of Columbus, this vote proves to be very insensitive to our community.

It would be to our schools' advantage to have an age-appropriate curriculum on Christopher Columbus that would teach students the power of persistence, and the use of knowledge and intellect with which to pursue their dreams. Columbus was an exceptional navigator and remarkable explorer. He bravely navigated across an unknown "Sea of Darkness" in the Age of Discovery and landed on the island of Hispaniola.

Recorded history of the Americas and Caribbean starts with Columbus which gives historical significance to his voyages. There was no written history about these continents before his arrival in 1492.

Within the curriculum students would be made aware of the power of writing, as Columbus kept a diary, and of his diligence in mapmaking skills and in charting routes across the Atlantic Ocean, which are still in use by sailors today.

Unfortunately, Columbus has been accused of genocide which is untrue since he was in the Americas such a short time. Other facts state the native population died from diseases because they lacked immunity. These diseases were not transmitted deliberately.

Columbus is said to have been a strict governor while ruling the Indies. These and other issues, such as the selling of slaves as prisoners to Spain, was the custom of explorers in 15th century Europe, and can be discussed and explained at appropriate age levels. However, Columbus never owned any slaves or brought any to the Western Hemisphere from Africa.

Our schools should focus on the achievements and accomplishments of Columbus and the fact that he introduced European culture, with its many contributions, to the New World.

I sincerely hope the Pittsfield School Committee will reconsider its vote to change the Columbus Day holiday to Indigenous People's Day on the school calendar and add a more fair and balanced curriculum about him to our schools that would show sensibility, as well as sensitivity, to our community.

Maryann T. Sherman, Pittsfield

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Letter: "City failing responsibility to shelter and its animals"
The Berkshire Eagle, April 20, 2018

To the editor:

Dogs on hard plastic pallets; cats in a windowless broom closet. This partly describes the conditions under which animals existed in the Pittsfield municipal animal shelter 20 years ago, brought to light by Yvonne Borsody in her riveting letter (Eagle, April 11).

Today, Pittsfield's municipal animal shelter is managed by the Friends of Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter, a nonprofit public charity. Staff and many volunteers give homeless, helpless creatures the love and daily care they cannot survive without. But at the end of the month, the city is abandoning its warm, loving home for animals in need. The contract expires, and our tax dollars will no longer support the shelter.

Does the city have a viable alternative? Joseph Chague, the city's animal control officer, said that starting May 1, "I will be feeding, watering and caring for the dogs, as we did years ago." Can he do singlehandedly what is now being accomplished by a number of people? This, in addition to his current duties?

Is this the way we want our homeless animals cared for? The way they were cared for years ago?

Edna Dugas, Pittsfield

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Letter: “Museum trustees, city will lose this war”
The Berkshire Eagle, April 23, 2018

To the editor:

There are many troubling aspects to the sale of art treasures by the Berkshire Museum. Lawsuits, protests and letters from those who care deeply about the sale sadly did not stop the juggernaut of the museum's trustees to do what they want to do with irreplaceable masterpieces. In order to raise what the trustees claim is money needed to maintain the museum and change it into something incompatible with its charter, they are charging full speed ahead with their secretive and dubious objective.

In pursuing their aim, the trustees slandered those who oppose the sale as elitists, while proving that they are the elitists by simultaneously alleging that Berkshire County schools provide a substandard science and technology education to our students. Only the Berkshire Museum can save these children, they said, to the tune of $55 million.

A word of caution is provided by a recent article in The Washington Post, which outlined the qualities that Amazon is looking for when it builds a second headquarters. To attract top-level talent, the company is valuing cultural amenities.

From the article: "Art museums — which these days are much more than just places to look at art — play an outsize role in satisfying (potential employees). Their prestige and prominence make them prime tourist destinations. Their health and quality are also tied up with civic pride, with what makes a city desirable to live in. Just ask the people of Detroit. They almost lost whole chunks of their art museum's world-renowned collection when the city declared bankruptcy a few years ago. The collection, owned by the city, was considered an asset that could be sold off to pay the pensions of city employees. That nightmare scenario was averted, thankfully; the blow to civic pride would have been irreparable, its cascading consequences immeasurable."

The Berkshire Museum trustees' obstinate determination to sell off its assets will not be forgotten. They have already made the museum a pariah in the eyes of other museums and cultural bodies. At least one book will be written about this titanic struggle, and case studies will be taught at graduate schools of law, business and arts administration.

In the end, "Pittsfield" will be linked to an obdurate pursuit of money at the expense of community. The trustees may think they've won a battle, but they've lost in every respect except their bank account.

Sally White, Williamstown

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Letter: “Pittsfield shouldn't return to days of chip seal mess”
The Berkshire Eagle, April 26, 2018

To the editor:

Have you ever met anyone who has fond memories of chip seal? I haven't! I grew up with chip seal, it's a thing of the 1950s and '60s and just maybe the Stone Age too. Chip seal should not be considered for street repair in Pittsfield, as it compromises the quality of life in neighborhoods. Roads are designed for people, not just cars.

I remember when the city chip-sealed Kittredge Road in the '60s and all the kids in the neighborhood got tar all over their legs, hands, shoes and clothes and tracked it into their homes, getting it on the rugs and wood floors. I remember riding our bikes and hitting loose stones to have the wheel slide out from under us, causing us to crash down and have the stones rip up our knees and elbows. I remember tar on my dad's car, chipped paint; cracked windshields and hearing the sound of cars coming that were kicking up stones. I remember hot summer days smelling the melting tar and seeing it ooze through the stones and in the winter the snowplows pushing the stones two feet onto everyone's lawns.

I am so disappointed that Pittsfield is regressing in time and bringing back a process that devalues our homes and our city and compromises the quality of life in our neighborhoods. Once again Kittredge Road is scheduled for chip seal, I say keep it, I'd rather go without than live through the mess of chip seal again.

Christine Yon, Pittsfield
The writer is a former Ward 1 city councilor.

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Our Opinion: “Responsible decision on wastewater treatment plant”
The Berkshire Eagle, Editorial, April 25, 2018

Pittsfield's wastewater treatment plant has been in need of an upgrade for a decade and Mayor Linda Tyer and the City Council can be proud that they are the leaders who have addressed it. With a strong push from the regional Environmental Protection Agency, Pittsfield will now bring a polluting, substandard facility up to speed.

By an 8-3 vote late Tuesday night, the City Council voted to authorize $74 million for the wastewater treatment plant upgrade. The authorization, which required a two-thirds vote in favor, failed by one vote in February, but Ward 5 City Councilor Donna Todd Rivers reversed her vote Tuesday night, stating that the looming EPA fines for non-compliance would burden taxpayers, and that after 10 years, the time for conversation was over. Along with Ms. Rivers, Council President Peter Marchetti, John Krol, Anthony Simonelli, Nicholas Caccamo, Earl Persip, III, Helen Moon and Peter White made difficult but necessary votes enabling Pittsfield to go forward with a compliant treatment plant.

Paying for the plant will result in a tripling of annual sewer bills over the next few years. However, as City Hall officials observed, the average two-toilet home now pays $248 a year in sewer bills, which is the lowest in the state (Eagle, April 25). Pittsfield will be catching up to other communities that have raised rates to address infrastructure needs.

In a recent visit to Pittsfield and The Berkshire Eagle, regional EPA Administrator Alexandra Dunn made it clear that federal EPA head Scott Pruitt wasn't going to personally let Pittsfield off the hook and that fines would be imminent if the city didn't have plans for an upgrade in place by August 1. To further kick the can down the road, exposing taxpayers to fines and the increased construction costs that accompany every delay, would have been irresponsible. It would also have been environmentally irresponsible as the plant is discharging aluminum, phosphorous and nitrogen into the Housatonic River in violation of EPA standards.

The authorization is a triumph for Mayor Tyer and her administration, including Finance Director Matt Kerwood. City Hall built a solid upgrade proposal, was transparent about its impact on residents, and continued to make a good case for the plan following the February City Council vote.

At Monday night's City Council Finance Committee meeting, councilors expressed concern that residents are confusing the two water infrastructure projects, the other being the $56 million upgrade for the city's drinking water plant (Eagle, April 25). The wastewater treatment plant upgrade was facing a deadline and had to be addressed first, but the drinking water plant upgrade is also of critical importance. We trust that city officials will face up to that reality as well.

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April 30, 2018

Re: Pittsfield politics is part of the problem

While I disagree with some of the lovely Linda Tyer's decisions, I still believe she has Pittsfield's best interests at heart.

Pittsfield is a post-industrial northeast community that has serious socioeconomic problems and issues. I believe Pittsfield politics is part of the problem because they don't represent the common people!

Many young adults move out of the Berkshires due to the harsh economy. The people who stay are either well off or are working taxpayer-funded jobs or are on disability/welfare.

When I was in my mid-20's 16-years ago, I looked for a job - any job - in Pittsfield for one whole year of my adult life without success. I came away thinking I had better odds winning the lottery jackpot than finding a job in the community I grew up in.

I understand that Pittsfield politics is ran by the Good Old Boys. They are a group of inbred local families that control the one political party system by fear and economic inequality. If you speak out against the G.O.B., they take away your job. If you continue to speak out against the G.O.B., they blacklist you and spread vicious rumors against you until you move out of Pittsfield.

Pittsfield politics is totally corrupt! Thousands of people have moved out of Pittsfield and the Berkshires. Thousands of jobs have been lost, too. All of the bad news only makes the G.O.B. more powerful! That is the sad reality about Pittsfield!

Good people have tried to make Pittsfield a better place to live and work, but the G.O.B. keeps running Pittsfield into the proverbial ditch!

- Jonathan Melle

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An aerial view of Pittsfield during one of its boom periods; a new group in the city wants growth again. Berkshire Eagle File Photo

“'Working City Wednesday': Pittsfield nonprofits put their heads together to shrink poverty, grow community”
By Haven Orecchio-Egresitz, The Berkshire Eagle, April 30, 2018

PITTSFIELD — One Wednesday every month, an intergenerational pool of ambitious residents get together over dinner to discuss their ideas on how to make the city a better, more inclusive, place.

The unique part about these "Working City Wednesday" meetings: those ideas often come to fruition.

"You don't have to have an idea, but you have to be willing to participate in someone else's idea," said Alisa Costa, initiative director of Working Cities Pittsfield.

In June 2016, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston selected Pittsfield as one of eight cities in the state to be awarded $475,000 to pursue neighborhood revitalization, workforce development and improving access to economic opportunity.

The goal for the Pittsfield team, which is made up of representatives from nearly two dozen nonprofits and agencies, is to ensure that in 10 years the people in the lower tiers of income in Pittsfield will be more healthy, engaged in their community, and socially accepted; and that the number of people living in poverty will shrink.

As a part of the initiative's "community engagement" component, Costa put together the "Working Cities Wednesdays" meetings, during which members of the public get together at different venues and have two minutes to pitch their ideas for projects that can improve the city.

Individuals then split into groups for about 30 minutes and collaborate on how to make these ideas a reality, putting together a detailed strategy of the next steps to take.

At the end, everyone reconvenes and shares their goals for the next month.

"Everyone in this room is on the same level," Costa told a group of about 30 at the Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center on Wednesday, urging them to not introduce themselves with professional titles and to avoid using acronyms.

The results include nonprofits and residents from throughout the city teaming up to provide resources to accomplish common goals.

Projects that have come out of the meetings include the City Street Ride, organized by 25-year-old Nicholas Russo and Kate Lauzon of the Morningside Initiative, and the Rose & Cole's Co-op Transport, a startup focusing on providing affordable transportation in the city.

"Entrepreneurs are starting to come to this space sometimes to test and get ideas," Costa said.

At the most recent meeting, residents discussed how to bolster the city's community gardens and put together the history of the West Side neighborhood of Pittsfield.

Offering dinner and child care at every meeting ensures that all city residents, even those with young children, have an opportunity to be active in their city, Costa said.

When the group began meeting, Costa was using a more traditional meeting style, with a full agenda put together before each event, but the Working Cities team decided to restructure it in a way that encourages more people to become involved, she said.

Today, the Pittsfield meeting style is used as a model for other Working Cities groups in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, according to Colleen Dawicki, Working Cities manager in the Boston Fed's Regional & Community Outreach department.

"One thing that stood out to us about the Pittsfield team was how enthusiastic the team was, but also how learning-oriented," Dawicki said. "The team was really willing to dig in in ways that really went above and beyond what we're looking for."

Dawicki said she is in touch with the Pittsfield team at least once a month to check in on their progress and accomplishments in the city.

One of the most important goals of Working Cities, which Pittsfield is succeeding in, is to change the culture within city leadership to make it more inclusive and collaborative, Dawicki said.

Costa and Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanities representative Carolyn Valli have been asked to present their work to newer teams in Connecticut and a team from Newport, Rhode Island recently took a bus to Pittsfield to observe a Wednesday meeting, Dawicki said.

"What I'm really excited about is the degree that we've been able to showcase the Pittsfield team as a model," she said.

The funding for Working Cities, including leadership training programs it offers outside of the Wednesday community meetings, spans through September of 2019, but the team is in the process of looking for ways to sustain the work through other means.

A lot of the work currently pursued by the team focuses on the Morning Side and West Side neighborhoods in the city, which currently have the highest poverty rates and lower rates of employment and civic engagement, Costa said.

Pittsfield and the Berkshires can't thrive unless those neighborhoods are also thriving, she said.

At a civil engagement conference at MCLA on Saturday, Costa spoke about flipping the culture of leadership.

A lot of the time, organizations look at neighborhoods in poverty and decide for them how to fix their problems, without ever reaching out to those communities, Costa said.

"People in poverty know what they need, we just haven't asked them for the most part," she said.

Working Cities is working to change that.

"I really do see the work here is very important because our destinies are all intertwined," Costa said. "All of us need to work together."

The next Working Cities Wednesday meeting will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. May 23 and The Christian Center on Robbins Avenue.

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at horecchio@berkshireeagle.com, @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.

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Our Opinion: “Working together to combat poverty”
The Berkshire Eagle, Editorial, April 30, 2018

The Working Cities Pittsfield coalition has only been around since June 2016, but it has created enough buzz that its approach to solving the complex and intractable problem of poverty is attracting attention from other cities. The nonprofit organization came to life after Pittsfield was selected by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston as one of eight cities to receive multi-year $475,000 grants to discover and develop ways to eliminate poverty. The motivating philosophy of the Working Cities program is that the overall health of a community depends upon all members participating working together as equals — both those doing the helping and those being helped.

Working Cities Pittsfield has an impressive roster of sponsoring companies and agencies willing to contribute resources — over two dozen, ranging from Berkshire Health Systems to Jacob's Pillow — which is impressive by itself, but what Working Cities Pittsfield does best is listen to people (Eagle, April 30). It meets on the fourth Wednesday of every month, and the meetings are characterized not by their top-down structure, but by their welcoming, cooperative attitude toward those the organization exists to help. It goes out of its way to make those meetings as accessible as possible — providing dinner, childcare and even a $20 stipend to those who take the trouble to attend. This forges a special working relationship precisely because it discards the traditional approach of civic leaders (those who belong to the class of "haves") deciding on their own what is best for the have-nots and imposing these solutions whether or not they are welcome, or even needed. The Working Cities model, wherein participants are discouraged from using titles or any kind of honorific that would distinguish one member from another, presupposes that those caught in the grip of a system that perpetuates poverty know what is required to free themselves.

At the meetings, any good idea is fair game. Participants come to pitch ideas, ranging from a couple of already-successful ride share companies that transport people to important appointments, to a free bus to bring Pittsfield children to Jacob's Pillow, to construction of an LGBTQUIA float for Pittsfield's Fourth of July Parade. Ideas are discussed, working groups developed, and nuts-and-bolts ways are devised to make them happen, along with providing specific goals and detailed strategies to be pursued before the next meeting.

Collaboration is the key to success for this group that now has Working Cities teams from other towns venturing to Pittsfield to learn its methodology. As Colleen Dawicki, Working Cities manager in the Boston Fed's Regional & Community Outreach department told The Eagle, what is really important is that the Pittsfield group has succeeded in changing the culture of city leadership to make it more inclusive and collaborative. Put simply, it's a matter of respect and an acknowledgment that every member of a community is deserving of dignity regardless of their income level. Once this barrier has been surmounted, the societal impediments that encourage generational poverty can be addressed with greater ease. It's what Working Cities Pittsfield is all about as it seeks to create a community whose members look out for each other.

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“Pittsfield City Council petition calls on Berkshire Medical Center to give payment in lieu of taxes”
By Amanda Drane, The Berkshire Eagle, May 3, 2018

PITTSFIELD — Two city councilors filed a petition Wednesday calling on the county's largest employer to do more to help the city during trying financial times.

Ward 1 Councilor Helen Moon and Ward 6 Councilor John Krol request Berkshire Medical Center, which is largely tax-exempt, to pay the city $1 million in a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes program. Though the hospital does pay some taxes for nonexempt properties, the councilors argue it would serve its mission to give more of its surplus back to the community.

"I don't think this is that controversial," Krol said, adding PILOT agreements exist in Springfield, Northampton, Worcester and Boston. "It's the right thing to do on behalf of the taxpayers."

If the organization were taxed as a commercial entity, the Pittsfield Assessor's Office confirmed, its annual tax bill would land around $4.8 million. BMC currently pays about $600,000 a year, making it the fourth-largest taxpayer in the city.

A spokesman for BMC said in a statement that the city has already explored PILOT programs and decided they weren't a good fit for Pittsfield.

"The Pittsfield PILOT Study Group concluded that such a program would be unwise for the city, in part because of the manner in which local charities already contribute to the city's financial well-being," said Michael Leary, director of media relations for Berkshire Health Systems. "Like other charitable hospitals in Massachusetts, Berkshire Health Systems annually makes substantial community benefit expenditures and publicly reports those expenditures to the Attorney General and the Internal Revenue Service. Each year, these expenditures have averaged in excess of $10 million a year."

From staff time for police and fire to infrastructure, councilors said the city provides BMC with valuable resources. Meantime, health insurance costs eat up an ever-increasing chunk of the municipal budget as the city struggles to cover essential services. This year that portion is about $24 million.

"Berkshire Health Systems is the ultimate recipient of a significant portion of what the City of Pittsfield pays for health insurance," the petition reads.

As the city feels the squeeze, councilors said, BMC enjoys annual revenues in excess of $40 million. And taxpayers are tapped, Moon said.

"BMC has the unique position of being a nonprofit but profiting a lot of money, " said Moon, who works as a nurse employed through BHS. "They are providing a necessary and valuable service, but they're also doing it at a premium."

Moon said she questions whether the city receives $4 million in services to justify the taxes BMC avoids.

"Should we be paying $24 million in health insurance premiums instead of funding school services?" she asked. "There has to be some give somewhere."

Krol and Moon both wanted to clarify that they have no interest in pursuing PILOT programs for other Pittsfield nonprofits. They said large hospitals like BMC are outliers in terms of excess revenues and the amount of city services they require.

"We wanted to make it extraordinarily clear we were not looking to tax a soup kitchen, or the Christian Center," Krol said. "They are completely different animals."

Moon said she makes this request with taxpayers in mind

"We are all part of one community, and can we work together to alleviate some of the burden that's on us as a city?" she said.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.

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Carole Diehl and Rosemary Starace: “Save the Art's questions for museum”
By Carol Diehl & Rosemary Starace, op-ed, The Berkshire Eagle, May 3, 2018

PITTSFIELD — Beginning with an agreement signed with Sotheby's auction house before announcing to the public its plans to sell the 40 most-prized artworks in its collection, the Berkshire Museum has operated behind a veil of secrecy not befitting a non-profit institution. While recent legal rulings from the attorney general and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court allow the museum to proceed with its plans to sell up to $55 million of its art, as Linda Kaye-Moses wrote recently in The Eagle, "Judicial approval does not necessarily lead to judicious action."

Indeed, this sale sets a precedent that threatens all art and artifacts in the public trust held not only by museums, but libraries and historical societies as well. Therefore, the citizens' group SAVE THE ART—SAVE THE MUSEUM (STA) continues to ask the museum leadership to halt the sales, take advantage of unprecedented national attention to initiate vigorous fundraising, and embark on a mission that includes full fiscal transparency, community engagement and ethical museum practice.

Everyone desires a healing of the rift this dispute has caused in the community, yet the policy of secrecy that led to the unnecessary division remains. Museum leadership has steadfastly refused all requests from STA to participate in public forums and as recently as mid-April, following their court victory, declined to be interviewed by Carrie Saldo on WGBY Public Television for Western New England.

Community needs answers

Given that these are the community's artworks, the money derived also belongs to the community, which therefore deserves to know how it will be used. If the museum expects to restore any of its former trusted relationship with the public, the following questions must be answered:

— Who is covering the Museum's legal fees, estimated to be at least $1M?

— If Sotheby's is paying the legal fees, to what extent is the Museum beholden to the auction house? Is their agreement with that international corporation the reason the Museum has not responded to community pressure to pull the artworks from auction?

— If the museum is covering its own legal fees, are they drawing from the endowment they have already characterized as insufficient? Is this the kind of expenditure donors were led to believe they were funding when they contributed to the museum? The attorney general's office (AGO) has told STA that even they do not know who is paying the legal fees. If so, we must ask, how thorough was their investigation into the fiscal health of the Museum? Where is the AGO's report that explains its radical change of heart from strong indictment in mid-January to approval only weeks later?

— In place of direct contact with the public, the museum leadership has chosen to speak through professional public relations firms. What are these costs?

— What are the terms of the museum's agreement with George Lucas, whose Museum for Narrative Art is buying Norman Rockwell's painting, Shuffleton's Barbershop? How much did it sell for? Who brokered that sale? What was their fee? What are the net proceeds?

— In July, when the deaccession plans were announced, the museum reported an $8 million endowment. By December, it had been reduced to $6 million. What explains this difference?

Why the huge deficit?

— The museum says it has been operating with a $1 million yearly budget deficit for many years. What are the reasons for this shortfall? (The Albany Institute of History and Art, an institution of similar size and demographic, mounts exhibitions reviewed by the New York Times and employs two curators where the Berkshire Museum has none — on an annual budget of approximately $500,000 less.]

— How does the museum justify its need for a $40 million endowment, nearly 10 times that of other museums of its size and demographic? How, where, and by whom will this endowment be invested?

— What specific plans does the museum have for the proceeds from the sale? Where is the mission statement that informs its strategic plan for the next five years? What does it intend to accomplish and how it will be realized — not just financially but in terms of attendance and service to the community? Beyond the "New Vision," which appears to be geared to children, how will the museum's exhibitions and programming address the rest of the community?

— Has the museum revisited its original controversial architectural plans? How will the community's investment in preserving the historical integrity of the architecture be addressed?

The museum owes the community the answers to these questions.

Carol Diehl of Housatonic and Rosemary Starace of Pittsfield write for SAVE THE ART — SAVE THE MUSEUM.

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“Health care agreement will save Pittsfield $1.5 million”
By Amanda Drane, The Berkshire Eagle, May 4, 2018

PITTSFIELD — The city will save about $1.5 million in health insurance costs in the coming fiscal year under an agreement with a coalition of city employees, officials said.

The agreement, which shifts municipal employee costs from 15 percent to 20 percent over six years, was particularly important, given soaring health care costs and the city's tight financial situation, according to Finance Director Matt Kerwood.

Without the savings, he said, "there would have been reductions in other places in order to absorb that."

The Pittsfield Employee Committee represents all benefit-eligible city employees and retirees — 1,138 and 1,475, respectively — and the new contract begins July 1. Mayor Linda Tyer said the agreement is unprecedented, and it offers breathing room as she and her team prepare a budget for fiscal year 2019.

"The impact that that's having on our budget is, it's providing some relief to our levy ceiling constraints," Tyer said Thursday. "It means we are not seeing a reduction in force. It means we are able to implement a couple of new initiatives — a couple of low-cost but high-impact initiatives."

The preliminary budget will be public Friday, in time for an initial City Council review Tuesday. The PEC agreement was an important piece of that puzzle, Tyer said.

"Reaching this agreement reflects the shared responsibility that our employees accept and it signifies the good-faith collaboration that the city has with its employees," she said. "At each step of the way, there was give on both sides."

Brendan Sheran, chairman of the committee, said the union has been working on the agreement for nearly a year, and began formally bargaining in February.

He said six-year agreements are unusual, and this is a first for Pittsfield.

"I think that's a plus for everybody, because having a long-term agreement allows for more details and sustainability," he said. "By making some structural changes along the way, we can sort of mitigate the premium increases over the course of the six years."

The shift will only affect active employees, Kerwood and Sheran said. Retirees and Medicare recipients will continue to pay the same 15 percent cost share. The agreement also adds a low-premium, high-deductible option, accompanied by a tax-free savings account that employees can use to safeguard themselves against costs incurred before reaching the deductible.

"Any time you go into a negotiation, you want to come away with something you all can live with," Sheran said. "We thought the whole package ultimately worked for us."

Sheran called the agreement "a win," while acknowledging that union representatives were willing to take on more of the cost burden given the city's financial situation. He said the union wouldn't want the city to have to lay off more employees in order to get out from under mounting financial pressure.

He hailed the process as a positive one, noting "this isn't all puppies and rainbows in other cities and towns."

That said, swollen health care costs must be addressed at the system level, Sheran said.

"If we had a single-payer system," he said, "cities and towns would be a whole heck of a lot better off."

Kerwood said it's also important to emphasize overall health and personal wellness in light of the national health care debacle.

"If you have a healthier population, you have less claims," he said. "If you're not incurring claims, you're not paying claims."

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.

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Letter: “State pushing too hard on marijuana sales”
The Berkshire Eagle, May 4, 2018

To the editor:

How many pot-selling and growing establishments do we need? We have a major drug epidemic going on and no one is taking the time to see how this new type of business is going to affect our minds and bodies.

When opioid pain pills were first introduced they also claimed they were not addictive, selling that notion to all the doctors that prescribe them. If pot is is a true medical treatment there is no reason to have all these pot-selling and growing places jumping up all over in every town in our county. They have news stories selling us this stupid notion that pot cures almost everything. The newest one being that it can help with drug addiction. This is a drug, it affects your mind. I would hope that someone limits the number of establishments that can operate in our county.

I smoked pot as a younger person and I am not against anyone smoking a couple of joints. Like everything, it can get out of hand. The government has legalized it for recreational use, but look whose pockets are getting filled with the legalization.

Whether it is used for medical or recreational use, it should be limited till we see the full effects it has on people. It is a drug.

Melissa Hassoun, Dalton

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“Tyer Releases Proposed FY19 Budget”
iBerkshires.com Staff Reports, May 5, 2018

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Mayor Linda Tyer has put forth an FY19 budget calling for a 1.8 percent increase in total expenditures.

On Friday, the mayor released her proposed $167.6 million spending plan. That reflects a $2.8 million increase from the current year. The City Council will be asked to raise and appropriate a total of $159.9 million of that.

"In FY19 we continue to be challenged in the form of a levy ceiling constraint. However, the FY19 budget renews our commitment to strategies that will foster increased property values and inspire new growth through private investment. Safe neighborhoods that are free from blighted conditions, competitive public schools that prepare our students for a global economy and engaged citizenship, and streamlining strategies for advancing economic growth are top priorities," Tyer wrote as a preface to the budget.

"The success of these initiatives is one of the key components to overcoming the constraints of the levy ceiling. We have witnessed the beginnings of an upward trend. The FY18 re-valuation showed an overall increase in property values across most categories and the city's real estate market is trending positively."

The proposed operating budget is requested to be $148,465,621, which is $3.4 million more than last year, and the enterprise account budgets are eyed to be $11,531,024, which is a $154,529 increase. Those account for the $159,996,645 the City Council needs to appropriate.

Meanwhile, other expenditures will be dropping from $8,331,641 last year to $7,656,831 this year - a decline of $674,810 or 8.1 percent. The other expenditures line consists of a number of items such as assessments, school choice, and other cherry sheet offsets to state aid. Typically these are items charged against the city's state aid prior to disbursement as well as retained earnings from the enterprise funds.

The city is seeing a $1.4 million boost in state aid, most of which is in the form of Chapter 70 school aid. Some $52.4 million is expected in state support and local receipts are expected to make up just short of $12 million. The mayor is also asking the City Council to use $1 million in free cash to offset the tax rate.

"This proposal includes increases in the following fixed costs: 1) a $525,000 increase in health insurance; 2) a $1,112,324 increase in retirement contribution; 3) a $1,285,809 in long-term debt payments, principal, and interest; and 4) a $94,787 increase is solid waste collection and disposal," the mayor wrote.

The largest driver of the operating budget is $60,492,869 for the School Department. That represents a $426,531 increase, which is specifically eyed to bolster the therapeutic program at the elementary school level and bring back paraprofessionals to the kindergarten classrooms, which were cut last year.

The school had asked for about a $900,000 increase but the mayor opted to shift about a $500,000 payment for school buses from the school budget and into the municipal side - thus equating for at least some of the increase in debt payments.

"This budget proposal supports staffing a full and comprehensive elementary therapeutic program. The therapeutic program of the Pittsfield Public Schools is a specialized program that services students with individualized education plans who will also benefit from specialized, focused social and emotional learning opportunities, both as individuals and within a group setting," Tyer wrote.

"This program will serve students in grades K-5 by providing a safe, personalized learning experience in a setting that includes school adjustment counselor support, licensed academic and special education teachers, paraprofessional support where needed, and an in-house director to case management students and to serve as a direct communication link among the school, outside agencies, and families."

The budget was significantly helped by a recent agreement between the Public Employees Committee and the city regarding health insurance. The city was looking at a $2 million increase in health insurance if no changed had been made to the health insurance plans during negotiations with all of the city's unions. The new six-year agreement is expected to save the city $1.5 million this upcoming year - thus mitigating the expected increase to around $500,000.

"Reaching this agreement reflects the shared responsibility, the deep commitment, and the good faith collaboration between the city and its employees. The anticipated savings over the six-year agreement will be vital to the long-term sustainability of the city's finances by gradually shifting more out-of-pocket costs for direct services, such as co-pays, to the employees," Tyer wrote.

The budget does not call for any reductions in staffing and Tyer said 11 departments are either level-funded or seeing a reduction.

The proposal isn't absent of all new initiatives. The mayor is asking for a new diversity and inclusion initiative in the Personnel Department.

"The mission of this initiative is to ensure that the city's workforce reflects the diversity of the city's citizens with a strategic focus on recruiting, retaining, and promoting diverse talent," Tyer wrote.

"Outstanding service in our citizens depends upon our organization's commitment to ensuring a diverse and inclusive workplace where all employees feel respected, valued, and empowered to maximize their skills and talents. This initiative includes marketing and advertising, an internship program, training and development, and inclusion practices."

That new line is proposed to be funded at $5,000 and even with that included, the Personnel Department will still be seeing about a $200,000 decrease. The biggest cutback on that departmental budget is $6,500 for assessment centers, which were used during this past year to fill the ranks of top positions in the Police Department. Now that those are filled, the city will need to run fewer assessment centers this coming year.

Looking forward, the mayor said her administration is looking to complete an efficiency study to implement increase operations and develop a home improvement initiative to help residents increase home values.

"I am optimistic that we can survive and thrive beyond these existing fiscal conditions through strategic action. The actions we take today will yield steady returns toward the city's long-term fiscal stability," Tyer wrote.

The City Council will hold a series of meetings throughout the rest of the month to debate the budget. The mayor's budget proposal is available below.

Link: http://www.iberkshires.com/story/57299/Tyer-Releases-Proposed-FY19-Budget.html

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Letter: “This is the reward for 'Crane's Finest'”
The Berkshire Eagle, May 6, 2018

To the editor:

In regard to Frank McDonald's letter (Eagle, May 1), I too am a Crane & Company retiree and also received the letter about termination of our life insurance. This was one of the benefits we planned on for our funeral expenses. I also called the insurance company and was told that, at 90 years old, they would not cover me.

Recently I made arrangements with a local funeral home for my burial. I thank them for their kindness and understanding. Please, God, let me live long enough to finish this commitment.

When you worked at Crane's you were considered part of their family. We worked hard and gave them our best. We were also ready to work overtime on short notice. I think we all helped to make Crane's what it is today.

Now, at a time when we are in our golden years and handicapped, we receive this unacceptable news. Too old to get more life insurance and we cannot expect our families to help. They are struggling to provide for their families and have everyday pressures.

When will the "other shoe" drop? What will be the next termination? Is this our reward for all those loyal years and sacrifice?

"Crane's Finest," we were.

Elaine Fox, Hinsdale

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“Councilors must listen to voters on chip sealing”
The Berkshire Eagle, May 9, 2018

To the editor:

We have been following the recent City Council debate on the petition to stop chip-sealing our city streets. What I find most interesting is that by the councilors' own admission their constituents do not want chip sealing. Councilors are elected to represent the wants and needs of the people. Our taxes continue to rise and what the citizens of Pittsfield are asking for is a very basic quality of life request in return for taxes paid, a decent street to live on, walk on, ride bikes on, and push baby carriages on. A street that gives value to their homes by increasing curb appeal, a street that does not destroy their pristine lawns they work hard to maintain, a street that does not deposit tar all over their cars, shoes and rugs.

People get angry when their taxes continue to rise and their very basic quality of life issues are not met. So I ask, please, councilors, do your job and represent your people.

Bernie and Eleanor Auge, Pittsfield

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"Council bans "chip seal" road work"
By Jonathan Levine, Editor & Publisher of the Pittsfield Gazette, May 10, 2018

Pittsfield is reverting to a policy of not “chip sealing” streets. Councilors voted 6 to 5 during a nearly five-hour meeting Tuesday to prohibit the city from using the low-cost “chip-seal” process on any “accepted” roadway. The action followed a “public microphone” session during which 12 residents voiced their dislike for chip sealing.” I have a big issue with the property being damaged with chip seal,” said Judith Ladd. Paul Durwin called chip sealing “a maintenance con job foisted on the residents.” Cher Eastwood said the practice is pennywise but pound foolish. “Think of the damage you’re doing, not money saving,” he stated. “It’s a very basic quality of life request,” said Chris Yon. The crowd turned out in response to a petition from ward one councilor Helen Moon, who sought a ban on the practice planned for six streets in her district. The full council had amended her petition to call for a prohibition on use of the “chip seal” process of loose stones on all streets. However the public works subcommittee, on which Moon sits, voted 2 to 3 to recommend that the petition not be approved. “I would like to see my streets in ward one milled and paved, not chip sealed,” emphasized Moon. She didn’t want the overall petition to be rejected, suggesting a compromise that would prohibit chip sealing on “accepted streets” or for “routine maintenance.” Moon’s modification caused further angst as the meaning of “routine maintenance” wasn’t clear. The chip seal ban had supportive colleagues. “There’s no doubt in my mind we have to put an end to chip sealing,” said at-large councilor Pete White. Even some opponents of the ban voiced distaste for chip sealing. “I don’t like chip sealing,” said ward 7 councilor Tony Simonelli. However he said for dirt roads and other streets otherwise receiving no service, chip sealing can be popular. There also were concerns that banning chip sealing would cause streets scheduled for work to end up with nothing. “This decision is going to change things,” said ward 5 councilor Donna Todd Rivers. Public works commissioner David Turocy will abide by any policy, but warned that only using pricier pavement work means he’ll ”slide some of that work off.” At-large councilor Melissa Mazzeo echoed that warning, saying “be careful what you wish for.” She said the city can’t afford to boost spending, so a chip seal ban means less roads get funded. Ultimately Moon was joined by Chris Connell, Pete White, John Krol, Peter Marchetti and Nick Caccamo in voting for the modified chip seal ban for accepted streets.

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May 15, 2018

Re: Pittsfield politics' economic inequality problem

The thing that bothers me most about Pittsfield politics is the high level of economic inequality, and that the G.O.B. uses fear and the harsh local economy to their advantage. I have read about Pittsfield's economic inequality in the news media on all levels: locally, statewide, and nationally. The reason why Pittsfield has so many poor or near poverty people is because there are no living wage jobs left. If you want a job in Pittsfield, you have to be politically-connected to the G.O.B., which is made up of inbred, interrelated, multigenerational families. My favorite example is Luciforo, whose late-father was a State Senator and Judge, his uncle as a Pittsfield State Representative, and his late-Aunt was Pittsfield's first woman Mayor, as well as a career BCC Professor. If you are Luciforo, Pittsfield will connect you with whatever you want, from being a political hack on Beacon Hill, to being a bureaucrat at the Pittsfield Registry of Deeds, to being a marijuana seller on Dalton Avenue. But, if you are someone like me, who dislikes Nuciforo and the G.O.B. that runs Pittsfield politics, you get to pound sand at the unemployment office on North Street. Indeed, when I lived in the Pittsfield area as a young man years ago, I had better odds winning the lottery jackpot than finding a living wage job. It is not just me, it is the sad reality for a majority of Pittsfield residents who would like to make $20/hour with benefits, but instead make $12/hour at 3 part-time jobs without benefits. To illustrate my point, it is a fact that all K - 6 Pittsfield public school students receive free school lunches due to the poverty and inequality. It has been over a generation since GE cut its job opportunities in Pittsfield. Since then, Pittsfield has raised taxes and public debts to high per capita levels, while thousands of people and jobs have been lost. The bottom line is that G.O.B. doesn't care and won't address the issues of poverty and inequality facing the people who live in Pittsfield.

- Jonathan Melle

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May 26, 2018

I am a disabled Veteran. Nashua is a nice city, but I live west of there in Amherst, New Hampshire.

My point is that Pittsfield is a place of great economic inequality. Pittsfield uses the excuse that GE left town, but that was over a generation ago. They have done nothing to provide employment opportunities to the working class in 3 decades. Instead, they raise taxes and drive out the middle class. It is a fact that thousands of people have had to move out of Pittsfield. It is also a fact that thousands of jobs have been lost in Pittsfield. Once jobs are lost, they ain't comin' back in our lifetime!

The only people who can afford Pittsfield are the wealthy and the poor. The only people who are well taken care of in Pittsfield are the Good Old Boys and the vested interests group.

I believe Pittsfield and North Adams are run on the economic concept of "perverse incentives"! To be clear, I believe the severe economic inequality in the Berkshires are by the design of the one political party system of G.O.B. political hacks who do nothing to bring living wage jobs to the poor people who could really use them. I detail my ordeal as a then young man living in the Pittsfield area years ago on my blog page:

http://jonathanmelleonpolitics.blogspot.com/2007/11/pittsfields-revitalization-via-perverse.html

I close by asking the following questions: "Why are there no living wage jobs in Pittsfield for the poor people who need them to get out of poverty?" "Why does Pittsfield's unequal economic model of "perverse incentives" continue decade after decade after decade?" "Is the one political party system of political hacks that important to the Good Old Boys' hold on power in an acutely economically unequal community?"

- Jonathan Melle

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June 1, 2018

Imagine a city ran by the Good Old Boys for the past 5 generations that saw thousands of people move away along with thousands of jobs lost, while taxes increased by 5% per fiscal year along with hundreds of millions of dollars in municipal debts, along with an empty business park called PEDA that is polluted with industrial chemicals called PCBs, that has severe rates of economic inequality, high per capita welfare caseloads, and violent crime, drugs, and gangs.

Pittsfield politics has been ran by the “Doyle debacle”, the “Hathaway hack”, the “Ruberto regime”, and the “Bianchi bust”!

I enjoy reading Dan Valenti’s blog about Pittsfield politics! I find it interesting how a dying town is still being ran by the Good Old Boys, while the people suffer with socioeconomic issues of high taxes, no living wage jobs, economic inequality, overpriced public schools, and other hardships. Why do the G.O.B.s still hold political power after Pittsfield ended up in the proverbial ditch? It makes no sense, but at lease Dan Valenti writes about it all.

- Jonathan Melle

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“Pittsfield City Council preliminarily approves $160M budget”
By Amanda Drane, The Berkshire Eagle, June 6, 2018

PITTSFIELD — Additional state revenue will likely spare the city from a power struggle that reared its head Tuesday evening between the City Council and Mayor Linda Tyer, she told The Eagle on Wednesday.

The council preliminarily approved a $159.98 million spending plan for the coming fiscal year during its final budget hearing, which stretched late into Tuesday night. The mayor's $1 million free cash appropriation request failed in an 8-3 vote by the council, putting into question whether or not the budget will balance, and in a split vote $4 million in water and sewer maintenance also failed to pass.

The preliminary budget passed by the council also includes $8.83 million in capital spending for projects like a new police station, demolition and resurfacing of the Columbus Avenue parking garage, and roadway resurfacing.

On Tuesday the City Council will make final decisions on the fiscal year 2019 budget, which takes effect July 1. Between now and Tuesday, Tyer said, she'll work to change council minds with regard to borrowing the $4 million in water and sewer funds, as well as track an additional $1 million in state reimbursements that could displace the need for the free cash order bucked by the council.

Though councilors voted to make slight reductions throughout the budget process — a $65,000 line item that would have replaced carpets at Pittsfield High School the largest among them — Tyer said she's happy with the final product.

"I'm really pleased that our budget has remained fairly intact," she said Wednesday. "I think that it is a responsible budget that takes into account our our fiscal constraints and community expectations about what our government should be doing."

Councilor Melissa Mazzeo said she rejected the water and sewer borrowing authorization because $74 million that the city is borrowing for wastewater upgrades, required by the Environmental Protection Agency, is already too much money to spend on wastewater over the next fiscal year. Ward 4 Councilor Chris Connell said he couldn't support borrowing more for water and sewer maintenance given his stance that the city should enter a public-private partnership to manage its wastewater operation.

Connell also moved to refer the free cash request back to Tyer, asking she increase the appropriation by $500,000. The increase would mean the city would take $500,000 more out of reserves to balance the budget rather than raising them in property taxes — a move that under a single tax rate would save taxpayers about $14 per $100,000 in property valuation during the next fiscal year, Finance Director Matt Kerwood said.

Connell successfully convinced his colleagues the move would provide some needed relief to taxpayers, in light of increased property valuations, tax rate increases and the promise of rising sewer bills.

"It was a double hit to all the taxpayers here in Pittsfield," Connell said Wednesday of property tax bills. "We've been hitting them too hard."

Connell, Mazzeo, Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Simonelli and Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi argued for more cuts throughout the process but were not always successful.

"It was the best I could do," Connell said. "There were only of a few of us trying to make any changes in the budget."

Tyer said the free cash debate "was quite a surprise to me." She said councilors and auditors alike have in previous years pushed to store more free cash and stop relying on it to balance the budget.

"We've got to build our reserves," she said. "It's precisely why we built a budget around only using $1 million in free cash."

Still, she said, the debate may not need to continue given an additional $1 million in school reimbursements likely heading to Pittsfield, if state numbers hold. She said the additional revenue would reduce the amount of funds the city would need to raise to balance the budget.

If those funds fall through, she said, she could again ask the council to appropriate free cash funds at any time in order to make ends meet.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.

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June 7, 2018

Pittsfield politics is in frustration mode concerning the fiscal year 2019 municipal budget, which will be voted on at the City Council meeting on Tuesday evening, June 12th, 2018. Only the lovely Linda Tyer disagrees with the frustration that the City Councilors and hard-hit taxpayers feel. What is worse, City Council Prez Peter Marchetti wants to limit the time of the budget hearings by having editorial powers over City Councilors speech. Who the hell does Peter Marchetti think he is? The government belongs to the people who pay the tax bills for the government!

...."I am going to start a process of undertaking looking at how long each councilor has spoken and try to find a way to limit the amount of speaking that can take place at the meeting".... - Peter Marchetti

http://wamc.org/post/pittsfield-city-council-expresses-frustration-budget-hearings

- Jonathan Melle

Here is a follow-up news story on Peter Marchetti’s pledge to shorten City Council meetings.

http://wamc.org/post/pittsfield-city-council-president-pledges-shorten-meetings

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“Look Ahead, Pittsfield: Budget battle unfolds Tuesday night”
By Amanda Drane, The Berkshire Eagle, June 10, 2018

Keeping tabs on everything happening in Pittsfield is a full-time job. Mine, in fact.

From looming projects like the $74 million wastewater upgrade, to roadway chip sealing, mosquito spray and other important City Council considerations, this city in the woods can keep us all guessing. I like to keep a running notebook packed with Pittsfield issues so that I'm not caught off-guard — or less likely to be, anyway. Here's an inside look at things I have my eye on this week.

Budget battles

The budget is a big one. Approving the final product is arguably the most important municipal decision of the year, and it's happening this week during the City Council meeting, at 7 p.m. in the library of Pittsfield High School.

The budget process to date was wrought with power struggles between councilors and Mayor Linda Tyer, as in tight times, leaders worked to track a line between tightening our belts and holding the line on city services. Last week, the council rejected a $4 million borrowing plan for water and sewer maintenance, and they bucked a request from the mayor to appropriate $1 million in free cash to balance the budget for the coming fiscal year. If the council and the mayor do not resolve their differences on the free cash front, it's possible they will be voting on a deficit budget for the year beginning July 1.

The budget includes funds for a new police station, road resurfacing, and demolition of the Columbus Avenue parking garage.

Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples Day?

During the last City Council meeting, we heard from several members of Italian heritage groups in Pittsfield angered by the School Committee's decision in January to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day in the school calendar. Ward 7 Councilor Tony Simonelli has filed a petition calling on his colleagues to join him and local Italians in opposing the School Committee's decision. That item also appears on Tuesday's meeting agenda.

PPD promotion

In a shift in command staffing at the Pittsfield Police Department, Michael Grady will be promoted to captain this week. He is a 23-year veteran of the department.

Marijuana outreach meeting

More marijuana movement is coming our way this week as another cultivation operation, which has not yet applied for city approvals, will host a community outreach meeting Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the Berkshire Athenaeum.

So far, the city approved four special permits for retail shops — Berkshire Roots on Dalton Avenue, Temescal Wellness on Callahan Drive, Kryppies on East Street and Colonial Cannabis on South Street — and OK'd two cultivation operations — Mass Yield behind the East Street shop and Commonwealth Cultivation on Downing Industrial Parkway. City planners say they've heard from interested parties who could soon apply for permits, including two marijuana manufacturers and a marijuana testing lab.

Utility info in the mail

Residents could also start seeing mailers this week reminding folks about another enrollment period in the residential aggregation program, which City Hall reports saved residents a combined total of $384,000 in utility costs over the first six months of the program.

Through this program, the city's electricity supply is locked in at a fixed rate of 0.09976 cents per kilowatt-hour through December 2020. Residents have until mid-July to opt out.

It's getting Chili's

And those eager for new dining options may be pleased to hear construction of a new Chili's Grill & Bar is scheduled to begin this week in place of the recently demolished Old Country Buffet at Berkshire Crossing, and the new restaurant is expected to open in October.

Keep an eye toward cultural calendars, too, because it's a hot month for downtown happenings. And don't forget to wish all your dads and fatherly figures a happy Fathers Day!

What's up in Pittsfield? Tell me via email at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, or by phone at 413-496-6296. Follow me on Twitter, @amandadrane

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“Pittsfield council OKs $160 million budget”
By Amanda Drane, The Berkshire Eagle, June 12, 2018

PITTSFIELD — The City Council approved a balanced budget Tuesday and rejected a petition that would have opposed the School Committee's controversial decision to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day.

The City Council unanimously approved the mayor's $160 million budget, as well as $8.8 million in borrowing toward capital projects like roadwork and resurfacing of the Columbus Avenue parking garage. It also reversed two of its preliminary votes, approving the mayor's request for $1 million in free cash appropriation, and a $1.6 million borrowing authorization for water and sewer maintenance.

Councilors had voted previously to leave room for an approximately $20 annual reduction in the average residential property tax bill, calling for the mayor to put forward a larger free cash request to reduce the tax burden. Mayor Linda Tyer said it's possible the city could get additional state reimbursements, and she would reconsider the free cash appropriation once state numbers firm up.

That promise won support with councilors, who voted 9-2 in favor of the appropriation, with Ward 4 Councilor Chris Connell and Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Simonelli in opposition.

Ward 5 Councilor Donna Todd Rivers said she decided to reverse her vote on the free cash issue to maintain the integrity of council requests from previous years to reduce the city's reliance on free cash — which, according to best practices, should be used as a reserve — to balance the budget.

"This administration has done a great job," she said. "This is the moment when we can all begin moving in the same direction."

Dozens of people again showed for the meeting to voice support and opposition for the School Committee's decision in January to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day, urging councilors to act on the issue. On the agenda was a petition from Simonelli calling on his colleagues to go on record opposing the School Committee decision.

Councilors turned down the petition on a 6-5 vote, with council President Peter Marchetti, Councilor At Large Melissa Mazzeo, Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi, Todd Rivers and Simonelli voting in favor.

"People need to know about Columbus' achievements," Simonelli said. "He was a man living in different times than we are today."

But Ward 3 Councilor Nick Caccamo said Columbus can't be defended by saying many historical figures were guilty of atrocities.

"They all did the same thing, and it was all reprehensible," he said.

Councilors also noted how inaccurately they were taught in school that Christopher Columbus "discovered" America. Ward 1 Councilor Helen Moon said it's not about rewriting history, but about correcting it.

"History is oftentimes written by the people who are in power," she said. "I think that this is a moment where we can lead from the seat."

Councilor At Large Earl Persip III asked people in the community to stop drawing comparisons between Columbus and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., noting that hearing the names together "irks me."

"That creates a divide," he said. "We need to work together to come up with something that works for everybody."

School Committee Chairwoman Katherine Yon said the body would reconsider its previous decision during its July meeting.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.

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“Look ahead, Pittsfield: Closing chapters and deficits this week”
By Amanda Drane, The Berkshire Eagle, June 24, 2018

Pittsfield — The fiscal year winds to a close this week, bringing with it City Council decisions on deficit accounts, settling of contract negotiations with city teachers and important goodbyes at Taconic High School.

Halls of the existing school on Valentine Road hold many memories, which is why Superintendent Jason McCandless is offering public walkthroughs Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. He calls it a chance for alumni to see spaces they knew and loved before they give way to new athletic fields.

Contractors are busily putting final touches on the new $120 million Taconic High School, while the familiar one will be demolished this fall. And so another goodbye is in order: WTBR signs off for the final time Monday before its move to Pittsfield Community Television.

Taconic students launched the station, which broadcasts at 89.7 FM, out of a library closet in 1974. For decades the student-run station offered city youth an early window into the media world, as well as a sense of community and responsibility. But in recent decades, attention paid to the station dwindled amid shrinking school budgets.

PCTV is adopting the so-called "little station that could," relaunching it this fall as a full-fledged community radio station. John Krol will host the send-off edition of "Good Morning, Pittsfield," Monday from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., which will include visits from dignitaries and popular personalities.

Mosquitoes and deficits

On Tuesday, the City Council will again tackle mosquito control spray, as well as budgetary line items in the red as the fiscal year closes. The City Council Committee on Public Health and Safety decided earlier this month to amend a petition banning the spray to say instead that the program spray only when there's a demonstrated public health risk.

If the City Council and Board of Health OK the measure, the city may no longer honor requests from residents to spray their properties.

Notable city accounts in the red are those for snow and ice and police overtime, which the City Council will look to balance Tuesday. Those accounts are $1.2 million and $400,000 in the hole, respectively. The council will consider moving money from other areas to close the gaps.

Watch out for ...

On Wednesday the School Committee looks to approve a settlement agreement between the district and United Educators of Pittsfield and the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

Interested in an inside look at all things city government? The mayor's office is offering a first-ever Citizens Academy, a 10-week workshop that begins Sept. 6. The deadline to apply with mayoral aide Catherine VanBramer is this Friday.

What's up in Pittsfield? Tell me via email at adrane@berkshireeagle.com or by phone at 413-496-6296. Follow me on Twitter @amandadrane.

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The Berkshire Museum has announced plans to sell nine more artworks, including seven in private transactions and two in auctions. All of the newly listed items were included in the original list of 40 artworks the museum said it would sell last year. Eagle File

“Berkshire Museum plans to sell 9 more works, bringing total to 22”
By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, June 25, 2018

PITTSFIELD — Nine more Berkshire Museum works will be sold in coming months, the institution said Monday, in a drive to reach the full $55 million in proceeds allowed by an April court ruling.

Seven of the works will be sold in private transactions rather than auctions in an attempt to place them with new owners who will preserve public access.

Two other pieces will be offered for sale at a September auction at Sotheby's in New York City, the museum said. All of the newly listed items were included in the original body of 40 artworks the museum announced it would sell to close a recurring budget deficit and help fund a building project.

The museum faced blowback nationally and locally over its plan. It fought off legal challenges and a monthslong inquiry by the state Attorney General's Office, eventually securing consent from Attorney General Maura Healey and authorization from a justice with the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County.

To date, the museum has netted $47 million from sales in April and May. That means the nine additional works are expected to bring $8 million in net proceeds.

In earlier estimates of sale prices at auction, Sotheby's calculated that eight of the nine works would bring a low of $5,010,000 and a high of $7,670,000.

Those values were included in court papers filed during litigation brought by three sons of the late artist Norman Rockwell and a group of Berkshire County residents.

Those estimates do not include any estimated auction values for Alexander Calder's "Dancing Torpedo Shape," a mobile sculpture that the museum said it will sell. It sold the same artist's "Double Arc and Sphere" in May.

By selling through private transactions, the museum gains a measure of control over prices, but loses the possible high end, should competing bidders at auction drive values over estimates.

The citizens group Save the Art-Save the Museum criticized the works chosen for a second sale.
"In light of the Museum's recent call for healing and promises of transparency, it is distressing that they have chosen to sell the most important of the remaining art," the group said in a statement Monday night.

"This reflects the Board's disregard of a substantial segment of the community who respect the integrity of the Museum's original mission — the study of art, natural sciences and the culture of mankind. This is clearly a violation of the public trust."

The group called for people who disagree with the decision to sell additional artworks to speak out "and to continue to voice their objections."

The sale of a second group of works will leave 17 of the original 40 items that were listed for sale in the museum's collection.

If the second round of sales does not allow the museum to reach its $55 million goal, it has authority to put a third round of works on the market.

"The agreement between the museum and the AGO called for the museum to offer works for sale in groups or tranches, until raising the $55 million determined to be needed to secure the museum's future, including funding the endowment, needed repairs to the museum building and the interpretive approach to the collection," the statement said. As required by its February agreement with Healey, the museum said it has notified the Attorney General's Office June 15 of its plan for the second group of sales.

While the museum said it "aims" to place seven of the artworks with owners who will keep them on view, the statement did not say it will decline to sell to a private buyer, if that is the only option.

Carol Bosco Baumann, the museum's spokeswoman, said the institution hopes to keep as many works as possible accessible to the public.

"But our primary and fiduciary duty is to do what is best for Berkshire Museum," she said.

When asked how the nine works were chosen, Bosco Baumann said some were identified for sale because of the monetary value to ensure, she said, "that the Museum has sufficient funds to secure its future, provide necessary repairs to our facilities, and update our interpretive plan to be relevant to a 21st century audience."

Other works were selected for sale because their interpretive value was considered low for the museum's needs, including the Asian pieces.

"Also, many of these works were identified based on their relative likelihood of ending up in the public domain," she said, in response to questions from The Eagle.

Of the 17 works the museum will retain, none was valued in pre-auction estimates at more than $800,000.Two sculptures by Giulio Tadolini and Franklin Simmons were not valued. Of the 15 others, as a group they received total auction bid estimates ranging from $2,315,000 to $3,410,000, according to the court papers that contained Sotheby's calculations.

Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com, at @larryparnass on Twitter and 413-496-6214.

Sale list

The new works to be sold privately include:


- Albert Bierstadt, "Giant Redwood Trees of California." The work, circa 1874, had been scheduled for auction last November, but the sale was canceled after an appeals court judge issued an injunction at the request of Healey's office. It was valued for that sale at $1.5 million to $2.5 million.

The oil-on-canvas painting was a gift from museum founder Zenas Crane. According to a 1903 press account about the museum's opening, the work was on display then.


- Alexander Calder, "Dancing Torpedo Shape" (a mobile sculpture). This 1932 wood, wire and aluminum piece was bought by Laura Bragg, a former museum director, in 1933, reportedly the first by the artist to be acquired by a museum. The work was featured in museums around the world, according to the court papers. Photo from Archive.org


- Thomas Wilmer Dewing, "Two Ladies in a Drawing Room/The White Dress." This 1921 oil-on-canvas work was a gift to the museum by Louise Crane and was to be sold at the November auction, at which time it had sale estimates of $600,000 to $800,000.


- George Henry Durrie, "Hunter in Winter Wood." This 1860 oil-on-canvas scene, believed to be the largest of the artist's paintings, was given to the museum in 1947 by the W. Murray Crane family and had been scheduled for the November sale. It was valued then at $400,000 to $600,000.


- Thomas Moran, "The Last Arrow." This 1867 oil-on-canvas work was given to the museum in 1915 by its founder. It had been listed for sale at the November auction but was pulled due to the injunction.

At the time, it carried sales estimates of $2 million to $3 million. The 1916 annual report of the Berkshire Athenaeum and Museum said it was one of 22 paintings on display in the gallery that year.


- Charles Wilson Peale, "Portrait of General David Forman." Painted around 1784, this oil-on-canvas portrait of the Revolutionary War military figure had been listed for the November sale and was valued before that date as carrying an auction range of $200,000 to $300,000.

Forman, a close ally of Gen. George Washington, was nicknamed "Devil David." The work was donated by Zenas Crane.


- Benjamin West, "Daniel Interpreting to Belshazzar the Handwriting on the Wall." The oldest work listed for sale, this 1775 oil-on-canvas painting was a gift from Zenas Crarne. The museum had planned to sell it in February, but litigation blocked that. An article in Antiques magazine in November 1982 notes that it departed from the "strict neoclassical style" of the artist's early works. It carried an auction sale range of $200,000 to $300,000.

The two works to be sold at Sotheby's "Asia Week" auction in September are:


- "A Ten-Panel Coromandel `Birthday' Screen, Qing Dynasty, Kangxi Period, Dated Jisi Year, Corresponding to 1689." It had been schedule for sale in March and carried an estimated bid range of $80,000 to $120,000.


- "A Large Blue and White `Dragon' Vase, Qing Dynasty, 18th / Early 19th Century." This work had also been scheduled for sale in March, with bids expected to fall between $30,000 and $50,000.

Note: Most Photos Provided by Sotheby's.

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“Berkshire Museum Seeks Private Sales in Next Round”
iBerkshires.com Staff Reports, June 25, 2018

Pittsfield, Mass. — The Berkshire Museum has selected nine more works of art to be sold toward its goal of $55 million that museum officials say is required to secure the institution's future.

Thirteen pieces have been sold by auction or private sale. Sotheby's will be working with the museum to find private sales for seven more works and will auction two in September.

The century-old museum's decision to deaccession parts of its 40,000-piece collection was announced almost a year ago to fund a $60 million plan to modernize and update the aging institution and develop an endowment to continue its operations. Without the funds, officials say the venerable museum is facing a financial catastrophe.

The announcement set off a firestorm of controversy that led to protests, lawsuits, condemnation from museum leaders across the nation and sanctions by the Association of Art Museum Directors. Working with the Office of the Attorney General, an agreement was reached and approved by the Supreme Judicial Court to set a goal of $55 million by selling 40 works in sections — once the top limit was reached, no further works would be deaccessioned.

So far, the museum has netted an estimated $13 million at auction, and more than $42 million total (not including Frederic Edwin Church's "Valley of Santa Isabel"), according to officials. The price for Norman Rockwell's "Shuffleton's Barbershop," acquired privately by George Lucas' Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, has not been disclosed although the work is estimated to be worth between $20 million and $30 million. The museum states on its website that it had "agreed to accept a significantly lower price through a private sale that keeps this important work in the public eye."

"Shuffleton's Barbershop" is currently on exhibit at the Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge as part of the sale agreement. "Valley of Santa Isabel" was acquired by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts after failing to find a buyer at auction. The price is not being disclosed.

A second Rockwell, "Blacksmith's Boy, Heel and Toe," brought in the most at auction with a sale of $8.1 million at Sotheby's in May. Out of the 13 works auctioned, many underperformed and two failed to find immediate buyers.

Private sales are being pursued for Albert Bierstadt, "Giant Redwood Trees of California"; Alexander Calder, "Dancing Torpedo Shape"; Thomas Wilmer Dewing, "Two Ladies in a Drawing Room/The White Dress"; George Henry Durrie, "Hunter in Winter Wood"; Thomas Moran, "The Last Arrow"; Charles Wilson Peale, "Portrait of General David Forman"; Benjamin West, "Daniel Interpreting to Belshazzar the Handwriting on the Wall."

The hope is that agreements can be reached to keep these works on public display.

Sotheby's will offer two Qing Dynasty pieces during Asia Week auctions in September: A 10-panel coromandel "birthday" screen from the Kangxi Period, dated Jisi year, corresponding to 1689; and a large blue and white "dragon" vase from the 18th century or early 19th century.

Sold at auction by Sotheby's so far have been:

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening, May 14: Henry Moore, "Three Seated Women" ($300,000); Francis Picabia, "Force Comique" ($1,119,000).

Contemporary Art Evening, May 16: Alexander Calder, "Double Arc and Sphere" ($1,215,000).

European Art, May 22: William Bouguereau's "L'Agneau Nouveau-Né" ($975,000) and "Les deux soeurs (La Bourrique)" ($1,755,000); Charles François Daubigny, "Paysans allant aux champs (Le Matin)" ($68,750); Alberto Pasini, "Faubourg de Constantinople" (not sold, est. $700k-$1M);

Master Paintings, May 22: Adriaen Isenbrant's "The Flight into Egypt" ($759,000) and "The Temptation of Adam and Eve" ($325,000).

American Art, May 23: Frederic Edwin Church, "Valley of Santa Isabel, New Granada" (est. at $5-$7M, was sold privately); John La Farge, "Magnolia" ($262,500); Rembrandt Peale, "George Washington" ($225,000); Norman Rockwell, "Blacksmith's Boy – Heel and Toe" ($8,131,000).

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Van Shields, shown in February, has stepped down as executive director of the Berkshire Museum. Ben Garver - The Berkshire Eagle


Van Shields, shown in 2013, has stepped down as executive director of the Berkshire Museum. Ben Garver - The Berkshire Eagle


David W. Ellis has been named interim executive director of the Berkshire Museum. Van Shields, who headed the museum since September 2011, resigned effective Thursday, the museum said. Photo provided by The Berkshire Museum

“Van Shields, proponent of controversial art sales, bows out at Berkshire Museum”
By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, June 28, 2018

PITTSFIELD — After taking the helm at the Berkshire Museum in 2011, Van Shields surprised his new colleagues by talking about "monetizing" the Pittsfield institution's collection.

It took six years, but talk brought results: The museum holds $47 million in proceeds from recent art sales, with another $8 million expected. It seems a "mission accomplished" moment for Shields — and on that note he'll bow out.

The museum's board president on Thursday said Shields has retired, and she thanked him for helping to "chart a course to secure the museum's future, true to our mission and responsible to our community."

Trustees named a consultant to run the museum on an interim basis. They plan a national search for a full-time replacement. Shields' resignation became effective Thursday and he is no longer listed on the museum's website.

Shields, who was paid $138,571 a year as executive director in 2017, declined to comment when reached by telephone.

"The news release speaks for itself and that's all I want to say," he told The Eagle.

Carol Bosco Baumann, the museum's spokeswoman, said Shields decided on his own to leave, not at the request of the board. She declined to say whether he received a retirement incentive package.

"The museum does not and will not discuss personnel matters," she said.

After announcing plans on July 12, 2017, to sell up to 40 works of art, Shields became a polarizing figure in the local and national museum community.

He's been lauded by some for taking bold steps to mend the museum's balance sheet, but pilloried by others who feel he and trustees looted the institution's heritage and violated ethical practices on collection management.

In a statement released by the museum, Shields, who lives in Pittsfield, thanked staff and trustees and praised "community partners who share our belief in the museum's power to transform lives."

"We have charted a course that will well serve the museum and this community," Shields said in the statement.

The museum said it has tapped consultant David W. Ellis of Cambridge, a trained chemist, to fill in as leader during the search. He will be assisted by Nina Garlington, the museum's current chief engagement officer, who will take a new position as chief of staff.

Garlington and Craig Langlois, the museum's chief experience officer, filled in as co-executive directors for two months last fall when Shields was on medical leave for treatment of a heart condition. An online directory lists his age as 68.

Legal fights

For much of the past year, the museum has been on the defensive, overcoming two lawsuits and responding to a blizzard of document and interview requests from the office of Attorney General Maura Healey.

While the museum eventually came to terms with Healey's office about art sales, Shields' critics had continued to call in published statements for his removal from the position.

The citizens group Save the Art-Save the Museum issued a statement Thursday asking trustees to postpone further art sales until a new permanent director is hired. The board said this week it plans to sell nine more works, seven in private transactions and two in a September auction at Sotheby's. The sales aim to bring total net proceeds from sales to the $55 million allowed in a Supreme Judicial Court ruling in April.

Save the Art said it welcomed word of Shields' retirement.

"This provides the museum with a new opportunity to engage the entire public and proceed with greater transparency as it seeks new leadership for this important regional institution," the statement said.

"Our grassroots efforts have successfully drawn attention to the mismanagement of the museum," the group said. "We continue to urge the museum to open up its planning process and to respect the substantial proportion of the community who wish to restore its original role as a multi-disciplinary cultural institution of art, science, and history."

Shields joined the museum Sept. 12, 2011, after spending 14 years running the Culture & Heritage Museums in Rock Hill, S.C.

County officials in South Carolina fired Shields that August. In a 2011 interview with The Eagle, Shields blamed conservative political opponents for not embracing his vision for a new $60 million museum project that had faltered.

Shannon A. Wiley, deputy general counsel for the South Carolina secretary of state, referred issues related to the museum project to that state's attorney general, citing various concerns. One was the fact that "a lot of money" had been spent without results," Wiley said in her referral letter. She also flagged possible conflicts of interest.

The AG's office closed the case without taking action.

Shields' leadership

The museum's plan to sell art from its collection received international attention even before two groups of plaintiffs and Healey's office stepped in to block it.

The museum maintained it was not legally bound to apply proceeds from art sales to the care of its collection. Nine months after announcing its plan, it secured permission from the Supreme Judicial Court to beef up its endowment so it could cover a deficit and to use other proceeds to pursue a "New Vision."

That programming shift is said to involve more interdisciplinary exhibits, a change the museum attributes in part to leadership by Shields.

In its statement Thursday, the museum said Shields notched successes in his tenure, including gains to make the museum more relevant to its community. He also introduced an early childhood education program called WeeMuse and expanded the museum's work with area schools.

"He played a key leadership role in developing the museum's master plan announced in July of 2017," the museum statement said. That proposal, developed over several years, called for creation of new exhibit space and a new emphasis on multimedia and interactive displays.

Through the course of litigation since October, the museum amplified the message that the loss of reliable large donors had left it financially vulnerable and that is was running a roughly $1 million-a-year deficit.

Unless its endowment grew by some $40 million, trustees said, the museum risked closing.

But Shields' critics continued to question whether the museum's financial situation was as dire as it claimed. They hold him responsible for the loss of some of the most prized works in the Pittsfield collection, including two paintings by Norman Rockwell that had been donated by the artist himself.

Lynn Villency Cohen, a part-time resident of Berkshire County with museum experience, said directors of institutions like the Berkshire Museum come and go and should be judged on how they embrace the past and care for collections.

"For over a hundred years of Berkshire Museum directors, the leadership and staff exhibited, protected, and cared for the art — the highly regarded, beautiful works — 22 of which are sold or are in the process of being sold," she said Thursday.

"Van Shields should be looked upon as an accomplice to the board and its destruction of a community's historical treasures," Cohen said. "His face will forever be the poster boy for the destruction of the art collection. That is his legacy in the Berkshires."

Carol Diehl, of Great Barrington, another critic of the art sales, takes Shields to task for what she views as flawed financial oversight, noting that in 2015 he was quoted in a news article as saying the museum was "in a good financial position."

Instead, Diehl argues, Shields pressed with board support for the art sales, in defiance of museum norms.

That quest, she said Thursday, "sold off its most tangible resources while dividing the community in a rift that will take decades to heal — a disaster that has made national and international headlines."

Attorney Mark S. Gold advised museum trustees on their ability to sell works from the collection. He contributed a chapter called "Monetizing the Collection: The Intersection of Law, Ethics, and Trustee Prerogative" to a 2015 book.

Shields provided a blurb comment for the back of the book, writing: "At last we have a practical and accessible resource to understand current and critical issues at the intersection of law and museums today, authored by thought leaders in the field."

Interim chief

Ellis, the museum consultant who will act as interim leader, said he welcomes the chance to bring stability to the South Street institution.

"I hopefully can help. I really care about these institutions," said Ellis, who at 82 is a veteran of other fill-in assignments and served as president of the Boston Museum of Science from 1990 to 2002. "I like people and challenges and putting it all together."

Bosco Baumann said Ellis is studying the museum's issues and meeting with staff and trustees.

Ellis said he plans to begin work in July by spending a day or several days at a time in Pittsfield, while consulting with Garlington, the new chief of staff. He said he expects to step up his involvement in August, though he advised trustees he has commitments for parts of September and October.

"I'll be fitting it around those," he said of his new assignment.

Though Ellis said trustees have not estimated how long their search for a new full-time director will take, he believes from his experience it could be six to nine months. Ellis has served as interim leader of the Boston Children's Museum and the Harvard Museum of Natural History.

In the next six months, trustees have said they will fine-tune how they will implement the New Vision plan regarding a new approach to exhibits.

Trustees have said they are considering whether that will include creation of atrium space through a major remodeling project.

"I think the board does have a lot on its plate," Ellis said in a phone interview Thursday.

Meantime, he said he is working his way through a stack of materials related to the museum's master plan, the process that resulted in the art sales approved by the SJC in April, in spite of community opposition.

Ellis said he has not been briefed by Shields on pending issues. When asked if he expected to meet the former director, he answered: "I would hope so, but I don't know when."

Ellis said he followed news reports about the museum's art sale, including the sanctions it received from museum groups. Ellis is a member of one trade group critical of the museum deaccession, the American Alliance of Museums.

"One has to be sensitive to the kinds of questions that have been asked," he said, when asked about any risk that the museum may become isolated from the wider arts community. "I'm not going to point fingers. I'm just going to look ahead."

Though he trained as a scientist, earning a doctorate in chemistry in 1962 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ellis said his parents often took him to museums and taught him to appreciate culture and ideas.

Today, he believes museums play an important role in community-building.

"Museums have something really important to offer," he said. "Big medium or small I think these institutions provide very real services."

Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com, at @larryparnass on Twitter and 413-496-6214.

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Members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association local voted Thursday to ratify a new pay pact with Berkshire Medical Center that runs through September 2021. The vote was 97 percent in favor of approving contract terms that cut short a planned second strike this month. Eagle File Photo

“Pittsfield RNs approve contract with Berkshire Medical Center”
By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, June 28, 2018

Pittsfield — Registered nurses who bargained for 22 months on a new Berkshire Medical Center contract, and walked off the job last October, like their new offer.

Members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association local voted Thursday to ratify a new pay pact that runs through September 2021.

The vote was 97 percent in favor of approving contract terms that cut short a planned second strike this month.

In a statement Thursday night, the MNA called the contract "a huge success for patients, nurses and the community by improving staffing and patient care conditions."

The contract provides assurances from the hospital that workloads for RNs will not grow worse.

Though the MNA retreated from early calls for specific staffing grids, the new pact includes terms that, in certain cases, will keep supervisory "charge" nurses from patient assignments so they can assist other RNs when patient needs intensify.

The agreement also includes wage gains, as well as concessions by the union. The RNs agreed to pay higher premiums for individual health policies as of Jan. 1, bringing their costs up to those already paid by other hospital employees.

The contract also includes a pledge by BMC not to weaken the staffing levels already set in current grids, according to the union.

The union and hospital agreed to make the pact retroactive to Oct. 1, 2016, when the old contract lapsed.

The MNA represents about 800 RNs at the hospital, some of whom work at satellite facilities, including North Adams.

The two sides reached terms early June 15, after three days of intense bargaining, including 16 hours the final day. The breakthrough came three days before a planned one-day walkout by nurses that would have been followed by a four-day lockout that would have cost BMC $3 million to $4 million.

At the time of the agreement, BMC representatives called the agreement "fair and reasonable."

In the end, both sides gave up ground from initial bargaining positions to reach agreement, ending one of the most protracted recent health care labor disputes in Massachusetts.

Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com, at @larryparnass on Twitter and 413-496-6214.

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I would go to this event wearing white and standing proudly with the lovely Linda Tyer to resist the Trump regime's mistreatment of immigrant women and children!

- Jonathan Melle

News Article -

“Hundreds expected at Pittsfield Families Belong Together march”
By Haven Orecchio-Egresitz, The Berkshire Eagle, June 29, 2018

Pittsfield — Hundreds of people, including local politicians and advocates, are expected to descend on Park Square at noon Saturday [June 30, 2018] to call for swift reunification of families separated at the Mexico border. The Families Belong Together march is in solidarity with more than 700 other events across the country, with the anchor event in Washington.

"We want to welcome everyone of every political affiliation. The standout is for decency and respect for human life," Four Freedoms organizer Frank Farkas said. "This is not the vision of America that we all cherish. We should not be demonizing immigrants; when they enter the country, they are as hardworking and law-abiding as anyone else, maybe even more so."

While the Trump administration recently has reversed it's "zero-tolerance" policy, which had separated thousands of children from adults who crossed the border illegally, and a federal judge issued an order to reunite immigrant families within a month, it has done little to snuff the outrage.

"Personally, for me, I think about the effect this has on those kids," march organizer Toni Buckley said. "If they were detained, in a situation like that, together with their family who can comfort them, it would be still awful, but the lasting effect on those kids would be totally different."

Buckley, of Pittsfield, grew up in Germany, but a majority of her family were native Syrians who fled as refugees.

"My cousins worked really hard on improving the lives of young refugees. The trauma they experienced, we don't know what it's going to mean for them," Buckley said.

"I see with my family how important it is. When you're asked to leave your home because your home isn't safe, your family is all you have."

Scheduled speaker Sopheap Nhim, who came to the United States as a refugee from Cambodia when she was 18 months old, will share the experience of her family.

At 5 and 6 years old, her brother and sister had been separated from the rest of the family to be put in Cambodian labor camps.

She was born in a labor camp, and her family underwent treacherous weeks of fleeing from the Cambodian countryside to a refugee camp in Thailand before being accepted as refugees to the U.S.

Despite being welcomed by the country, her traumatized siblings were met with extensive bullying within the community, she said in a recent interview.

"I think our family is a really good example of when you let refugees in," she said in the interview. "We all work. We all contribute to our community."

Nhim believes that what most refugees need when they enter the United States, which isn't often provided, is mental health counseling.

Other speakers will include Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer, the Rev. Joel Huntington of South Congregational Church, immigration attorney Donna Morelli, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and retired pediatrician Eli Newberger.

Buckley said that a Spanish translator will be at the event and immigrants are encouraged to attend.

Buckley said she is not too concerned that a large presence of immigrants in the city center will draw Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

"We didn't get any kind of impression that anyone would show up," she said. "Of course, we have to be aware of that risk, but I have not experienced anything like that in Pittsfield."

Those who attend are encouraged to wear white, in solidarity with other events across the country, and bring water in preparation for the extreme heat.

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at horecchio@berkshireeagle.com, @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.

If you go:

What: Families Belong Together march

Where: Park Square, Pittsfield

When: Noon Saturday [June 30, 2018]

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Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer emphatically chants "Vote" after speaking to hundreds gathered Saturday in Pittsfield who rallied in solidarity with the Families Belong Together march in Washington. Stephanie Zollshan - The Berkshire Eagle


Carolyn Newberger draws images from the Pittsfield rally Saturday at Park Square held in solidarity with the Families Belong Together march in Washington. Stephanie Zollshan - The Berkshire Eagle


Surrounded by family, Sopheap Nhim, a childhood refugee from Cambodia, speaks about her experience as an immigrant, during a rally Saturday in Pittsfield in solidarity with the Families Belong Together march in Washington. Stephanie Zollshan - The Berkshire Eagle


Spencer-Mathias Reed sits among the hundreds gathered Saturday at Park Square in Pittsfield, during the rally showing solidarity with the Families Belong Together march in Washington. Stephanie Zollshan - The Berkshire Eagle

“At Pittsfield Families Belong Together rally, anger, frustration and hope”
By Haven Orecchio-Egresitz, The Berkshire Eagle, June 30, 2018

Pittsfield — With temperatures in the 90s, a scent of sunscreen drifted through Park Square on Saturday, where hundreds of men, women and children had gathered to call for the reunification of families at the Mexico border.

Young parents placed hats on the heads of infants strapped to their chests, seniors supported themselves on canes while sweat beads dripped like tears down their face, and a small boy sat at a woman's feet with a sign that read "I wouldn't want to be taken from my mommy."

"We are saying, 'Down with hate. Remove those kids from cages,'" community activist and cultural competence coach Shirley Edgerton shouted at the crowd at the start of the event, which was held in solidarity with the Families Belong Together march in Washington. "Children are our most precious possessions; I don't care what country you're in."

The Trump administration recently has reversed its separation policy, which had taken thousands of children from adults who crossed the border illegally, and a federal judge issued an order to reunite immigrant families within a month. Many continue to be concerned about whether the government will be able to successfully reunite the children with their parents, what effects the separation will have on the children's mental health, and what is next for families who might be seeking asylum at the border.

The city park was one of more than 700 sites across the country where those opposed to the separation of children from their guardians at the border gathered this weekend to protest the administration's "zero-tolerance" policy.

While anger and frustration were evident among many at the public greenspace Saturday, it was the hopeful sing-alongs and supporting honks from passing motorists that drowned out the few disparaging remarks and cuss words screamed at the crowd from passers-by.

"To me, it was important to be here, because it's 2018 and the administration brought back an executive order from 1946," said Leah Reed, vice president of the NAACP Berkshire County chapter, referring to the use of Japanese internment camps. "I would hope we can appeal to the humanity of the administration, but since we can't, we should appeal to the financial ramifications."

Reed expects that the long-term trauma done to the children of immigrants seeking asylum is something that will eventually be an expense to the United States.

An impassioned Mayor Linda Tyer welcomed residents from across the county and neighboring states to the "heart of the Berkshires."

"This is not a place where we do this to people. ... We do not separate families. We do not put children in cages," Tyer said of the policy. "This is a moment in American history where we will not be quiet. Quiet is consent, and I do not give consent."

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, state Sen. Adams Hinds, immigration attorney Donna Morelli, the Rev. Joel Huntington of South Congregational Church and retired pediatrician Eli Newberger all spoke in support of immigrant families and the need for reform at the border.

Sopheap Nhim, who arrived in the U.S. as an 18-month-old refugee from Cambodia in 1979, said her family is an example of the good that can come out of being welcoming to families fleeing violence.

Flanked by her four children, husband and extended family, the board-certified behavior analyst told the story of how, after four years in labor camps, her family was able to reunite and come to America.

While they were met with racism and bullying from the community, they worked hard and were grateful for the second chance at life.

"If my family was turned around and sent back to Cambodia, we would be dead," she said. "Life was not always easy for us, but it was easier than (it is for) the refugees today. I know we are better off because of the opportunities we were given."

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at horecchio@berkshireeagle.com, @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.

related link: http://www.iberkshires.com/story/57727/Hundreds-Gather-in-Pittsfield-to-Protest-Trump-s-Immigration-Policies.html

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“Hot topics on Pittsfield's burner in busy week at City Hall”
By Amanda Drane, The Berkshire Eagle, July 8, 2018

Pittsfield — Vacation calendars may be brimming but the City Hall docket is full this week with hot topics like the Police Department shooting range, a new police review board and the Columbus Day controversy.

The City Council and School Committee both meet this week for the only time this month, after all, meaning they'll attend to some important business before gearing up for getaways of their own.

Residents living along the southern stretch of Holmes Road got fired up in recent weeks as the Pittsfield Police Department completed a round of firearms training on city-owned land in their neighborhood. The controversy sparked a City Hall review, which found the shooting range violated city zoning, and led Police Chief Michael Wynn to close the range.

Mayor Linda Tyer said the department has used the property near the city's wastewater treatment plant for training since 1999. During Tuesday's meeting city councilors are scheduled to hear from Wynn on the matter, as well as Building Commissioner Gerald Garner and Rich Dohoney, the city's attorney.

Issues like the one surrounding the shooting range might find a new forum in a Police Advisory and Review Board, outlined in an ordinance Tyer filed last week. The City Council gets a first look Tuesday at the proposed board, whose members would serve as liaisons between the Police Department and the public. The board would also review complaints filed against the department, but only after the department's internal affairs investigation is complete — a point of contention between proponents of the board and the administration.

On Wednesday the School Committee will reconsider its January decision to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day in the school calendar in light of recent backlash from Italian-American groups in the area.

These meetings will resume their rightful place in City Hall — council chambers — as the elevator is up and running again at last.

Get outside

The Marilyn Hamilton Sports and Literacy Program, a free camp for city children based at Durant Park, begins Monday. Manny and Vannessa Slaughter started the program over 20 years ago, and this year are working to pass management off to the Christian Center.

The city's playground program also starts this week, offering free daytime activities for kids ages 6 to 13 at Clapp Park, The Common and Springside Park.

In business

Another hopeful marijuana retailer will host a community outreach meeting at 3 p.m. Monday in the Berkshire Athenaeum. Ken Crowley, of Herbal Pathways, looks to set up shop at 1317 East St.

The city has also landed $30,000 from MassDevelopment to help several Tyler Street businesses with an exterior facelift. The grant requires a City Hall match, for a project total of $60,000. Businesses applying funds include Hot Harry's, Panda Garden, Goodwill Industries, Quillard Brothers Garage, and a property at 147-149 Tyler St.

What's up in Pittsfield? Tell me via email at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, or by phone at 413-496-6296. Follow me on Twitter @amandadrane.

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Letter: “Questions of conflict at Berkshire Museum”
The Berkshire Eagle, July 12, 2018

To the editor:

The Berkshire Eagle and Larry Parnass have done a great job covering the debacle going on at the Berkshire Museum. With each story, more facts are revealed. And with each day, more questions arise. For example:

Why is a trustee making money for legal services at the Berkshire Museum while he is serving on the board? Is that a conflict of interest? Also, wasn't that same trustee an associate in a Pittsfield law firm with the monetizing lawyer who has been representing the museum? Does his vote for things like selling the art help his former law associate make money handling the transactions? Is that a conflict of interest? Have both been making money as attorneys off the museum as appears to be the case? Is that a conflict of interest?

What about the Berkshire Museum trustee who is also a trustee at The Norman Rockwell Museum. Is his loyalty to the Berkshire Museum or The Norman Rockwell Museum? Was his vote on the sale of Shuffleton's Barbershop, for example, and its subsequent display at the Rockwell Museum a conflict of interest? A requirement of a trustee of a non-profit in Massachusetts is absolute loyalty to the organization. Which one is his loyalty to when the two loyalties conflict?

Another possible conflict involves one of the trustees and a member of the staff whose husband appears to be an employee at a local company under said trustee. Does said trustee hold power over both their paychecks-husband's and wife's? Is this a conflict? I believe there is a question about this type of situation that is asked on the yearly filings. Did the museum disclose this relationship?

And what about the trustee who continues to make money for his company, hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last few years, while serving as a trustee? How is this not a gross conflict of interest?

Merriam-Webster defines the term conflict of interest as "1: a conflict between the private interests and the official or professional responsibilities of a person in a position of trust" and "2: a conflict between competing duties (as in an attorney's representation of clients with adverse interests)."

Berkshire Eagle and Mr. Parnass, maybe you can ask the Massachusetts attorney general and the head of the nonprofits division why this behavior is being tolerated and seems to continue unabated.

Linda Lykkebak, Orlando, Florida
The writer was born and grew up in the Berkshires.

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Letter: “City shouldn't stop with Columbus name change”
The Berkshire Eagle, July 13, 2018

To the editor:

In a city that is plagued by declining population, loss of businesses, increasing taxes and no new jobs, I am glad to see that Pittsfield city government has been able to find time to pass judgment on Columbus versus Indigenous Peoples Day.

Now that the holiday is being renamed the city needs to rename Columbus Avenue to Indigenous Peoples Avenue, and should adopt a resolution urging Columbia County in New York and the country of Colombia to change their names as well. Pittsfield should also adopt new names for Clinton Avenue (same name as a president accused of being a sexual predator), Oswald Avenue (a presidential assassin) and in particular North Street (the president of an organization that encourages the proliferation of guns despite concerns for school safety). Let's also ban the use of one- and two-dollar bills, quarters and nickels within the city as they depict presidents who were slave owners.

City Council and School Committee, keep up the good work, there's a long way to go!

C.J. Dziengiel, Pittsfield

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Photographer Gregory Crewdson pauses his crew while a test photograph is taken in Pittsfield, one of 16 photographs Crewdson plans to take over the summer in Pittsfield. Crewdson, head of graduate photography for Yale University whose art is displayed in some of the most prestigious art museums in the country, built a career on his Berkshires-based photography. Ben Garver - The Berkshire Eagle

“Pittsfield's postindustrial vibe clicks with noted cinematic photographer Crewdson”
By Amanda Drane, The Berkshire Eagle, July 14, 2018

Pittsfield — Norman Rockwell meets Norman Bates.

That's how Gregory Crewdson describes his cinematic photography in the Berkshires. He borrowed the line from a friend, he said, smiling.

While Crewdson's fictional realities strike a darker tone than Rockwell's, Crewdson said he feels a kinship with the iconic artist's desire to "make ordinary life beautiful."

Crewdson, head of graduate photography for Yale University whose art is displayed in some of the most prestigious art museums in the country, built a career on his Berkshires-based photography. He creates eerily beautiful images of spots he has driven by perhaps a thousand times since his family straddled Brooklyn and Becket in the 1960s and '70s.

Now a full-time Berkshires resident, Crewdson takes his work to Pittsfield this summer for a fresh series of shoots. If you find a road closed at twilight or what appears to be a movie set in the area of Silver Lake, Crewdson is likely to blame.

Keep an eye out for road closures on Kellogg Street on Tuesday, on Silver Lake Boulevard on Friday, and Fourth and Fenn streets July 22.

Mayor Linda Tyer said she's happy to work with artists like Crewdson, because "art leaves legacy." She said there's a sense of pride that comes with knowing that Pittsfield has a place in the international art scene.

"I think he creates magic," she said. "It's good for Pittsfield, because Crewdson photos have been exhibited all over the world in the most acclaimed museums."

The current series might be his darkest yet, he said. It's the first time he has photographed in the city since 2008, when he shot "Beneath the Roses." He long has been drawn to the city for the way it enjoins nature with industry, he says, and for the postindustrial vibe left in the wake of General Electric Co.

"GE stands as this blight," he said. "It motored this city and now stands as this monument in the background."

Plus, he said, "I love Silver Lake."

"There's some dark element to it because of its history," he said, alluding to PCB contamination at the lake near GE's former compound.

The city cleared the lake for recreation in 2014, after GE cleaned it.

Even though he lived in Brooklyn during the week as a kid, he considered the Berkshires home.

Crewdson's photos have an outside-of-time quality, which "probably has something to do with the coming of age in a small city."

The photos aren't period pieces, he said, but they simply lack token modernities that could serve to ground a viewer in the present day. For that reason, he doesn't use cellphones or modern vehicles in his shoots.

"It's supposed to feel just outside of time," he said, "but at the same time still relevant to the time we're in."

Some scenes, like an old taxi depot near Pleasant Street that he calls his "ground zero," tell a story all their own.

"There's a whole world, there," he said.

Crewdson remembers watching "Jaws" as a kid at the Capitol Theatre on North Street, and said time spent here growing up was enough to touch him to the core.

"For whatever reason, it became my aesthetic universe," he said.

Other photographers travel the world taking pictures, he said, "but I'm just interested in one place."

He said the architecture of the place, the natural beauty, continue to stir in him an urge to create scenes based on curious corners of the county.

Crewdson starts his artistic process with solo drives around the Berkshires. Like a mushroom hunter "has their spots," he said he has locations he'll regularly visit. While listening to cultural podcasts, he'll park and stare and begin visualizing the scene, sometimes getting out to take photos with his phone.

"I have these spots all over town that I check in on," he said.

He said certain locations just come to feel like there's something there, "and then I just sit with it for a while."

"It's all about the place to start with, and then it all becomes about art and color," he said.

Crewdson said he likes to cast local people for his shoots because they offer a sense of connection to the Berkshires and to the scene.

He also spends weeks preparing a scene.

For one Pittsfield photo, Crewdson recalls, "we literally had to wait for a snowstorm, close down North Street and get them not to plow."

Then, Crewdson makes heavy use of outside lighting to create a scene.

"In many ways, it's like making a movie," he said.

In fact, the series he is working on this summer spins off a movie he hopes to film with a star-studded cast.

"I'm actually going to use a lot of the locations I was going to use in the movie," he said.

He said the movie fell through because of budget disagreements, but he said he hoped that producers could come to terms with his stipulations.

Among them: The movie must be filmed in Pittsfield.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.


The current series of photographs being taken by Gregory Crewdson in Pittsfield might be his darkest yet, he said. It's the first time he has photographed in the city since 2008, when he shot "Beneath the Roses," above. "We literally had to wait for a snowstorm, close down North Street and get them not to plow," he said. Gregory Crewdon - courtesy Gagosian


A crew works around a motor home on a set off Oak Street in Pittsfield for a photograph by Gregory Crewdson, who works at dusk on much of his work. Ben Garver - The Berkshire Eagle


Gregory Crewdson examines the lighting on a monitor on the set of a photograph he is making in Pittsfield. Ben Garver - The Berkshire Eagle


Mike Bedard blows dust onto a motor home used in a photograph being made by Gregory Crewdson in Pittsfield. The sets are complex productions, like a movie set, lit with precision and planned with a strong narrative. Ben Garver - The Berkshire Eagle

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July 16, 2018

Re: Post-industrial Pittsfield viewpoints

If the Pittsfield area still had living wage, full-time jobs for the average workers, there would not be severe economic inequality! Pittsfield is a post-industrial community that still blames GE and the like former employers for its decreasing population, job loss, and ever-increasing municipal taxes. I know that I, Jonathan Melle, has and will never find a living wage, full-time job in Pittsfield! I believe I had and still have better odds winning the state lottery jackpot than earning an equitable living in Pittsfield. Those are terrible odds! Jimmy Ruberto said he had a "rolodex". The lovely Linda Tyer said young people are more interested in living in Pittsfield than earning a living where there are a scarcity of jobs. Gregory Crewdson has been exhibiting his large photographs of Pittsfield to the people of London, Manhattan, and L.A. This summer, he is doing another photo shoot of G.E.'s decaying buildings as a symbol of blight. Here is his recent quote: "GE stands as this blight," Crewdson said. "It motored this city and now stands as this monument in the background." Crewdson is not complimenting Pittsfield, but rather, he is showing the city in a Dickensian light. Blogger Dan Valenti bitches and moans about the low-life appeal of Pittsfield, such as the Pittsfield parade on Independence Day and the Dalton Circus. Myself, I dislike the China-like one political party rule of a rigged city government ran by the Good Old Boys club, who are made up of interrelated, multi-generational, inbred families, such as Luciforo, who is selling pot on Dalton Ave.

- Jonathan Melle

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Valerie Hamilton

Amanda Drane | Look ahead, Pittsfield: “Pittsfield loses passionate youth advocate; marijuana shops advance; spraying for West Nile”
By Amanda Drane, The Berkshire Eagle, July 15, 2018

The city lost a fiery voice in Valerie Hamilton, and many in the community will feel that loss this week and for many weeks to come.

Hamilton, 61, passed away after a brief illness during a time of the year she normally spends hosting a summer basketball league for city teens.

The West Side native made fighting for Pittsfield youths her life's work. She was a lead organizer of the Stop the Violence walk, and founded the Dunk Out Violence program for children.

Most recently, she was behind a growing movement to place a youth center in the city's West Side.

"We have to get involved," she once said to a crowd just before a march against violence. "It only takes a raindrop to start a waterfall."

Marijuana front

Three marijuana shops are going for city approvals this week. The hopeful retailers — Bloom Brothers of Merrill Road, Berkshire Cannabis Co. of Bank Row and Temescal Wellness of Callahan Drive — plan to seek site plan approvals from the Community Development Board on Tuesday and special permit approvals from the Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday.

Temescal Wellness already has a medical license.

Berkshire Roots on Dalton Avenue, Kryppies of East Street and Green Biz of South Street got municipal green lights and await state approvals for recreational sale.

Ken Crowley, of Herbal Pathways, filed an application last week with City Hall for another shop on East Street. It remains unclear when the Berkshires will see its first recreational marijuana sales.

Mosquito spray

To the dismay of many and to the delight of others, the Berkshire Mosquito Control Project will spray from 10 p.m. to midnight Monday in the area of Elm and Williams streets. The mosquito-mitigation measure comes because West Nile showed up in regular sampling of mosquitoes in the area.

It will be the first spray since a vocal contingent rallied against it this spring, voicing concern for the effects that chemicals in the fog might have on children, wildlife and bees. The city discontinued its residential spray-upon-request program as a result of the outcry, but maintained that spraying is necessary in times of demonstrated health risk.

Got tech?

City residents with old electronics kicking around can register this week to dispose of them through the Electronics Recycling and Sustainability Fair. Registration is free for everything except cathode ray tube televisions and monitors, which carry a $15 fee. Register online via the city website, at the Department of Public Utilities at 10 Fenn St., or on Saturday at the Downtown Pittsfield Farmers Market.

Pittsfield also has Third Thursday to look forward to this week, and on Saturday the Pittsfield Piston Poppers will host a car show on The Common.

What's up in Pittsfield? Tell me via email at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, or by phone at 413-496-6296. Follow me on Twitter @amandadrane.

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July 20, 2018

Re: Pittsfield politics’ G.O.B.s

In response to Thomas Marini’s letter about Pittsfield politics’ Good Old Boys club, I believe Pittsfield has it in spades compared to other areas or locales. In Pittsfield, you have a group of interrelated families who go back generations who run the show. If you are not part of this insider group, you are disadvantaged in running for political office or finding a public sector position in Pittsfield. If you are part of the G.O.B., you are given the red carpet treatment!

I have been criticized for speaking out against Pittsfield politician’s with Italian-American last names, despite the fact that I am from Pittsfield and I have an Italian-American last name. I, along with my family, have been mistreated by Nuciforo and Carmen Massimiano, Jr. They expect loyalty, obedience and silence no matter what they do or who they hurt. If you speak out against top-down political hacks like Nuciforo and Carmen Massimiano, they will retaliate against you by blacklisting you from employment, intimidating you, and spreading vicious rumors against you. Despite the unfair stereotype against Italian-Americans, it is almost like the Good Old Boys run Pittsfield politics like their own mafia!

The sad reality of the Good Old Boys dominance in Pittsfield politics over the past couple of generations is that Pittsfield is in a downward-spiral of population loss, job loss, and one political party rule where a majority of residents don't vote in state and local “elections”. I believe that the worse the outcomes for Pittsfield, the more powerful the Good Old Boys club has over the local political system. I also believe that Pittsfield politics will never change!

- Jonathan Melle

Letter: “'Good old boys club' and the race for DA”
The Berkshire Eagle, July 20, 2018

To the editor:

Those of you who are interested know there is a Democratic primary coming up at the beginning of September. Let's talk about the race for district attorney. Let us suppose there is a political power machine in this town. Let's call it the "good old boys' club."

We all know there are good old boys' clubs/political power machines all over the nation. It is the nature of politics. Those people have power to do whatever they want. They want to keep that power. They want more power. The more power they get, the less power we have. What about the democratic process? That's irrelevant to them. Did the Berkshire good old boys club tell Gov. Baker to appoint its candidate as acting DA way back in March?

Some people of Italian heritage seem to be loyal to the good old boys' club. Does having an Italian last name qualify a candidate to be a good district attorney? Does voting for the candidate with the Italian last name give more power to the good old boys' club? Never mind what the people want.

As you can see, the author of this letter has an Italian last name. He has Italian heritage on both sides of his family. The author would never vote for a candidate just because he or she has an Italian last name.

It is up to you. No matter what candidate you vote for, go out and vote Sept. 4. Make sure you are registered to vote now! If you want our democratic process to work, you have to work with the process. you have to participate. By voting, you are using your power. If you don't vote, you lose your power.

Thomas Marini, Pittsfield

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“Distressed Berkshires tracts may be in line for Trump tax bump”
By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle, July 21, 2018

The legislative grab bag that became the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 contains an obscure provision that might spur investment in Berkshire County's poorest areas.

No money is flowing yet, but economic development advocates in the region are hopeful that a law panned by some as a giveaway to rich Republican donors might, in time, bring benefits to distressed communities.

The law allows investors to avoid paying capital gains taxes for 10 years or longer if they steer money into new "opportunity zones." Capital gains are taxable profits captured from sales of investments like stocks or other properties, including real estate.

States were able under the law to nominate zones to the Treasury Department. In Massachusetts, 138 were accepted, including six from Berkshire County: two each in Adams, North Adams and Pittsfield.

"On the surface, it seems like it could be a pretty good way to bring money into these opportunity zones for economic development," said Thomas Matuszko, executive director of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission.

But planners are waiting for the Treasury Department to issue guidelines that go beyond the "frequently asked questions" on its website.

Deanna L. Ruffer, Pittsfield's director of community development, said the zones could attract investment into areas marked by high rates of poverty and joblessness.

"We're very hopeful about it," she said in an interview. "We've been very intrigued by and excited by the opportunity that may come."

But she cautioned that the preferential tax treatment offered under the new law still must prove attractive to investors.

"How that all happens and who becomes interested in setting up funds is in the evolutionary phase," Ruffer said.

Little notice

A statement on the White House website says that the creation of the incentive zone is the first of its kind since the Clinton administration.

The measure, it said, provides "an opportunity for mainstream private investors to support businesses and distressed communities with the creation of Opportunity Zones."

The inclusion of the zones won little notice in coverage of the act, which passed without any Democratic Party backing in Congress amid concerns by congressional budget analysts that the law would add $1 trillion to the federal deficit over 10 years. The law reduced the maximum corporate tax rate to 21 percent and doubled the estate tax exemption from $5.6 million to $11.2 million — among many other features.

The roughly 500-page document passed with amendments drafted by lobbyists, according to press accounts.

President Donald Trump said after the measure's passage Dec. 22 that the law would likely hurt him personally, declaring, "This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing, believe me."

An analysis by The New York Times found that, if passed in 2005, the year for which a partial Trump income tax return is available, the current president would have saved $11 million in taxes.

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, a venture of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution, said that in general under the new law, "higher income households receive larger average tax cuts as a percentage of after-tax income, with the largest cuts as a share of income going to taxpayers in the 95th to 99th percentiles of the income distribution."

A separate Brookings report June 14 concluded that the law will cut federal revenues by "significant amounts, even after allowing for the impact on economic growth. It will make the distribution of after-tax income more unequal."

When it comes to the new opportunity zones, people of wealth gain a new way to shelter capital gains earnings from taxation.

Steering investment

But at the same time, that tax avoidance becomes a means of steering investment into poor areas.

The eligible zones are census tracts that are home to stubborn economic disadvantage. Each of the three communities eligible for tax-sheltered investment lead the county in rates of poverty. For the 2011-15 period, the Census Bureau's American Community Survey data show overall poverty rates in Adams of 9.8 percent; in North Adams of 18.5 percent; and in Pittsfield of 17.2 percent.

Poverty rates in the specific census tracts accepted as opportunity zones are higher locally and nationally: over 32 percent, compared with an average of 17 percent. Median family incomes in qualified tracts are 37 percent below area or state averages, according to the Treasury Department.

In his first State of the City address in February, North Adams Mayor Thomas Bernard said he planned to seek an opportunity zone designation. He got two.

"This new federal program promotes investment in low-income communities by providing tax incentives for the reinvestment of capital gains in housing and economic development projects," Bernard said at the time.

Investor action

Investors can create partnerships or corporations for the purpose of steering untaxed capital gains into the new zones, the first of which were listed in April.

Such investments must be reported on tax returns as having been made in a "qualified opportunity fund."

No approval or action is needed by the IRS, according to the Treasury Department.

An investor "self certifies" that the untaxed gain was channeled into a business venture in one of the allowed zones, Treasury rules say.

In a statement on the Treasury Department website, Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin suggests that opportunity zones were not an afterthought in the legislation.

Instead, he called them one of the "most significant" provisions of the law.

Investments kept in place for the 10-year life of the zones are eligible for further tax savings.

Ruffer, the Pittsfield director of community development, said the zones affected in her city include parts of downtown and the Tyler Street area. Projects that could benefit from the incentive include community developments as well as strictly private efforts.

"We're poised to help investors consider real estate and business investments in those two zones," Ruffer said.

Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com, at @larryparnass on Twitter and 413-496-6214.

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Letter: “Pittsfield needs to hear from EPA chief Dunn”
The Berkshire Eagle, July 22, 2018

To the editor:

I frequently write letters to the editor to inform city residents of what is going on in city government, and in many instances what is not going on but should be.

City councilors Melissa Mazzeo, Kevin Morandi, Chris Connell and I have sent a letter to EPA Regional Director Alexandra Dunn requesting that she come to Pittsfield to answer questions from the full City Council and the concerned public regarding the $74 million upgrade to Pittsfield's sewage treatment plant. In April, Mayor Linda Tyer and Council President Peter Marchetti met with Ms. Dunn. The meeting should have included the full City Council and the public, and this is what I and Councilors Mazzeo, Morandi and Connell want to occur ASAP. The other councilors are all rubber-stamps for the mayor.

The Clean Water Act was suspended by the EPA in January and new standards for private industry and municipalities like Pittsfield will be drawn up. Two years from now, Pittsfield will know what standards must be met. Given this fact, it is financially irresponsible by Tyer and her council allies to have approved the $74 million expenditure.

I saved the city over $100 million when I and my partners Dr. Milos Krofta and Lawrence K. Wang build the cit's two water plants in the 1980s. I know that as much as $40 to $50 million in savings can now be realized. Unfortunately, the mayor and the incompetent eight city councilors will not do the right thing on their own and we must all put maximum pressure on them to put on ice the $74 million in unnecessary upgrades to the water plant.

Our city could be one of the best small cities in America. The quickest way to achieve this goal would be to elect competent people to every elected position. The city is rife with political hacks, good old boy networks and special interest groups which are breaking the backs of taxpayers.

I follow politics carefully and participate fully and I can tell you what the major problem is in Pittsfield politics — the passivity of the voting public. When you do not participate, the government that we have today is what you get.

Craig Gaetani, Pittsfield

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Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer has posted to Facebook that she married Barry Clairmont, a certified public accountant and former city councilor, on Sunday, July 22, 2018. Credit: The lovely Linda Tyer’s Facebook page.

“Pittsfield’s Mayor Linda Tyer gets married”
By Amanda Drane, The Berkshire Eagle, July 24, 2018

Pittsfield — Mayor Linda Tyer has married her "sweetheart."

Tyer posted to Facebook that she married Barry Clairmont, a certified public accountant and former city councilor. He also serves on the board of the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority.

Tyer, who also has served as city clerk and as a city councilor, has found someone who shares her flair for public service. The two married Sunday, at The Mount, Tyer told The Eagle, "surrounded by the love of our dearest family and friends."

Tyer said in the post that they took a two-day honeymoon enjoying “the all-star cast of the Berkshires.” The couple bought their wedding attire at Deidre’s and Steven Valenti’s, and followed up the ceremony with trips to The Clark and Barrington Stage.

"Barry and I spent time in Lenox, Pittsfield, North Adams, and Williamstown," she wrote in her Facebook Post. "It has been magical filled with happy memories that we will cherish forever."

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.

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Working Cities Pittsfield celebrated its two-year anniversary Wednesday [July 25, 2018] with a community cookout in the Christian Center. Participants ate and talked about what they've accomplished, and looked to the future. Credit: Gillian Jones - The Berkshire Eagle

“'We're all just Pittsfielders': Working Cities Pittsfield celebrates two years”
By Amanda Drane, The Berkshire Eagle, July 25, 2018

Pittsfield — Hop on any local online comment board and you'll find no shortage of people bashing the city of Pittsfield.

For these people, Alisa Costa has a message: Come to Working Cities Wednesdays.

Every fourth Wednesday, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., community members gather to brainstorm solutions to city problems and ways to realize them. Tearing down Pittsfield on Facebook isn't the best way to fix things, Costa said.

"We're not communicating in ways that are productive for the city," she said. "Everyone has gifts to give. We all care about the places we live."

Working Cities Pittsfield is a platform for community aspirations, said Costa, the initiative's director. It's geared to bolstering Pittsfield, especially the West Side and Morningside neighborhoods, with money from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. The initiative celebrated its two-year anniversary Wednesday.

Costa said the grant program stems from research suggesting that of postindustrial cities across the country, the ones that most successfully "bounced back" were those with stronger community connections.

Costa said residents participating in Working Cities have created several projects, such as a Pittsfield bike-ride program, a Berkshire flash mob and a group working together to tackle street safety issues in West Side.

The initiative also launched a program called Getting Ahead, an eight-week course on financial literacy and understanding how certain systems perpetuate the cycle of poverty.

Sherrie McGregor said the program changed the way she thought about her finances.

"I just wanted to find a way to get myself back on track again," she said. "I learned how to budget. I got more creative with my finances. It helped me a lot."

McGregor said she learned how stay on top of her finances, and has since been able to improve her credit. She said she learned "I didn't have to be stuck in my situation." She said she had gotten sick, and her finances went into a downward spiral.

"I had gotten into such a rut," she said.

Now, McGregor is working for Working Cities as a community navigator.

Costa said the idea behind Working Cities is to break down barriers for people, and connect those in the city who have needs with resources that are in place to help them.

"Poverty can be isolating," she said. "When you don't have enough resources, you need a lot more people in your sphere."

Carolyn Valli, executive director of Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, said the initial grant for Working Cities Pittsfield was for $480,000 over three years, which the initiative has used to hire community navigators like McGregor and to support residents in their pursuit of a better quality of life. She said Working Cities just landed an additional $280,000 from Habitat for Humanity International to continue the work.

She said the community navigators are going door to door and asking neighbors what they'd like to see, and helping them connect with resources.

"There's a whole lot of things happening in the Berkshires," Valli said. "Not everybody knows about it."

Valli said her organization is in no way leading this effort, but rather providing peripheral support.

"It's really important that the community owns this work and not any agency," she said.

People from all types of organizations and walks of life participate in the monthly brainstorming sessions, but Costa said there are no titles allowed.

Here, she said, "we're all just Pittsfielders."

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter,and 413-496-6296.

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“DA debate, money management and business developments this week in Pittsfield”
By Amanda Drane, The Berkshire Eagle, July 29, 2018

Candidates for Berkshire District Attorney mulled for months over their plans for the office, and now they'll square off this week in a debate hosted by the NAACP.

The event happens at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Conte Community School, and it offers a chance for the public to push past rhetoric and rumor and hear from candidates directly, in real time. They're vying for a singularly important job, and they deserve our careful attention as they do so.

We're not all lucky enough to have jobs, and even those of who do could use some expert advice from time to time when it comes to managing money. Greylock Federal Credit Union will offer a free budget-building workshop at the Berkshire Athenaeum at 11 a.m. Thursday, directed by one of its financial counselors, Lynn Wallace. She'll help participants track spending, devise a strategy and prepare for unexpected hardships.

The event will be followed by a financial literacy program, which runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays from Aug. 7 through Aug. 21. Job-readiness trainers will be on-hand at the library to offer skills for landing and keeping jobs. The series is free and open to the public. To register, call the library's reference desk at 413-499-9480, ext. 202.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENTS

Restaurant plans will come into view this week as several appear before the city's Licensing Board. Otto's owner Luke Marion aims to take over the former Regions space in the Crawford Square building, and during the meeting at 3:30 p.m. Monday he's applying for the wine and malt liquor license for the premises. In late June, he and Lindsay Marion filed a new corporation for the space, Uncorked Wine and Beer Lounge.

The board is also asking for an update from Jae's Grille management regarding the 7 Winter St. premises, from Barcelona Tapas regarding their all-alcohol liquor license at 87 Wahconah St. and also management from Methuselah and Hangar Pub & Grill to discuss possible violations.

A large-scale solar project proposed for Pecks Road at Onota Street by C-TEC Solar makes its first public appearance this week in a Conservation Commission meeting at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers. The planned 1.69 megawatt facility, slated to have 6 acres of paneling, requires approval from the Conservation Commission and Zoning Board of Appeal because of surrounding wetlands.

Another proposed marijuana cultivation facility at 370 Cloverdale St., West County Collective, makes a public debut during a community outreach meeting at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Berkshire Athenaeum. The city is also processing a new proposal from Heka, which wants to demolish the old Kentucky Fried Chicken building at 1745 East St. and put in a marijuana retail operation. Heka previously had plans for a medical dispensary on Dalton Avenue before going back to the drawing board.

STAY TUNED

The School Department is busily preparing the new Taconic High School for students, and public officials plan to scope out what needs to happen over the coming month in a Monday tour.

Cinematic photographer Gregory Crewdson is still staging photoshoots in Pittsfield into August, so if you see what looks like a movie set, that's likely what's happening. You can stay on top of Crewdson-related road closures via the city's Facebook page.

Pittsfield residents with old electronic items to get rid of can still register with the mayor's office or via the city's website for the Electronics Recycling and Sustainability Fair on Saturday. The event features two components: electronics collection at from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Guardian Life headquarters, 700 South St., and an educational fair at the Pittsfield Farmers Market on The First Street Common.

What's up in Pittsfield? Tell me via email at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, and by phone at 413-496-6296. Follow me on Twitter @amandadrane.

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July 29, 2018

Here are some topics the Eagle could cover:
* Pittsfield's economic inequality! Pittsfield and the Berkshires are one of the most economically unequal community/region in the state and nation because there are no living wage jobs for the average worker. Pittsfield has neighborhoods (West-side and Morning-side) with acute poverty that has even attracted the attention of the Federal Reserve in Boston. At one point in time, teen pregnancies and welfare caseloads in Pittsfield doubled the statewide average.
* Pittsfield's loss of population! Thousands of people have had to move away from Pittsfield/Berkshires due to job loss.
* Pittsfield's one political party domination of government. If you are not a Good Old Boy "Democrat" political hack, you have no real voice in Pittsfield politics. Moreover, a majority of residents do not bother to vote in "elections". If you speak out about Pittsfield's issues/problems, you lose your job and get blacklisted from employment. If you really speak out, you are targeted by vicious rumors.
* Pittsfield's PCBs! The Consent Decree capped most of the industrial chemicals in Pittsfield. The problem is that caps are finite and become ineffective as time passes by. That means local residents, such as Hill 78 abutting Allendale Elementary School will spread PCBs in a matter of time.
* Pittsfield's unsustainable public finances! Pittsfield politics raises local taxes by 5% per year for decades, it has hundreds of millions of dollars in debts, and it has major projects such as the new Taconic High School and Waste-water treatment plant

- Jonathan Melle

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August 14, 2018

It is a shakedown and everyone knows it! The Berkshire Museum unethically sells its most valuable art pieces for tens of millions of dollars, and the usual politically connected interests are licking their chops and salivating over the big bucks they want to get their corrupt hands on. Please call every financial done deal by Pittsfield politics one big smelly $hakedown!
I understand the pure ideals of politics is to collect taxpayer dollars to invest in the people, who are the most valuable asset in a community. BUT, in Pittsfield politics, the people get screwed every which way be the Good Old Boys and other Oligarchs! In fact, Pittsfield is one of the most economically unequal communities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Nation. The gap between the Haves and Have Nots in Pittsfield grows wider and wider every year. The G.O.B.'s blame "GE", but that was 28.5-years ago! The real reason why the Berkshire Museum and the G.O.B.'s do the public business of Pittsfield politics is the shakedown whoever they can to fill their own coffers! In closing, Pittsfield politics is totally corrupt, and everyone knows it!

- Jonathan Melle

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August 14, 2018

Tricia Farley Bouvier is a political pawn of the Good Old Boy network who empowered the WHEN group 15 years ago in 2003. Back then, Mayor Sara Hathaway beat Jimmy Ruberto in 2001, after the Gerry Doyle debacle. The G.O.B. found a group of women who swore their political loyalty to Ruberto's quest to run Pittsfield politics. Two of these "WHEN" political hacks were Tricia Farley Bouvier and the lovely Linda Tyer. As time passed, Mayor Ruberto named Linda Tyer as the City Clerk and groomed her for Mayor after he retired. Also, Ruberto made Tricia Farley Bouvier his Chief of Staff. One hand scratched the other's back, and after Ruberto, Linda Tyer, and Tricia Farley Bouvier won, "WHEN" was disbanded. After "WHEN", the new political group was the "Berkshire Brigades". The outcome was the Ruberto and his G.O.B. group get to run Pittsfield politics, while the "Berkshire Brigades" get the rest of Berkshire County's political spoils. That means that the average citizen has no say in state and local politics if they don't ascribe to Jimmy Ruberto's G.O.B.'s and the "Berkshire Brigades". In the D.A. race, Ruberto's G.O.B.'s support Andrea Harrington, while the "Berkshire Brigades" support Judith Knight. I predict Andrea Harrington will receive the most votes in Pittsfield, but not in the other 31 municipalities the make up Berkshire County.

- Jonathan Melle

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About Me

My photo
Amherst, NH, United States
I am a citizen defending the people against corrupt Pols who only serve their Corporate Elite masters, not the people! / My 2 political enemies are Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., nicknamed "Luciforo" and former Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. / I have also pasted many of my political essays on "The Berkshire Blog": berkshireeagle.blogspot.com / I AM THE ANTI-FRANK GUINTA! / Please contact me at jonathan_a_melle@yahoo.com

50th Anniversary - 2009

50th Anniversary - 2009
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Columbus Avenue in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Pittsfield Politics: Capitanio, Mazzeo agree on budget cuts, public safety

Pittsfield Politics: Capitanio, Mazzeo agree on budget cuts, public safety
Paul Capitanio, left, speaks during Monday night's Ward 3 City Council debate with fellow candidate Melissa Mazzeo at Pittsfield Community Television's studio. The special election (3/31/2009) will be held a week from today (3/24/2009). The local issues ranged from economic development and cleaning up blighted areas in Ward 3 to public education and the continued remediation of PCB's.

Red Sox v Yankees

Red Sox v Yankees
Go Red Sox!

Outrage swells in Congress!

Outrage swells in Congress!
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., left, and the committee's ranking Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., listen during a hearing on modernizing insurance regulations, Tuesday, March 17, 2009, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh). - http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20090318/pl_politico/30833

Beacon Hill's $pecial Interest Tax Raisers & $PENDERS!

Beacon Hill's $pecial Interest Tax Raisers & $PENDERS!
Photo Gallery: www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/03/15/St_Patricks_Day_Boston/

The path away from Wall Street ...

The path away from Wall Street ...
...Employers in the finance sector - traditionally a prime landing spot for college seniors, particularly in the Northeast - expect to have 71 percent fewer jobs to offer this year's (2009) graduates.

Economic collapse puts graduates on unforeseen paths: Enrollment in public service jobs rising...

Economic collapse puts graduates on unforeseen paths: Enrollment in public service jobs rising...
www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/03/14/economic_collapse_puts_graduates_on_unforeseen_paths/

Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis

Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis
Should he be fired? As Bank of America's Stock Plummets, CEO Resists Some Calls That He Step Down.

Hookers for Jesus

Hookers for Jesus
Annie Lobert is the founder of "Hookers for Jesus" - www.hookersforjesus.net/home.cfm - Saving Sin City: Las Vegas, Nevada?

Forever personalized stamped envelope

Forever personalized stamped envelope
The Forever stamp will continue to cover the price of a first-class letter. The USPS will also introduce Forever personalized, stamped envelopes. The envelopes will be preprinted with a Forever stamp, the sender's name and return address, and an optional personal message.

Purple Heart

Purple Heart
First issued in 2003, the Purple heart stamp will continue to honor the men and women wounded while serving in the US military. The Purple Heart stamp covers the cost of 44 cents for first-class, one-ounce mail.

Dolphin

Dolphin
The bottlenose is just one of the new animals set to appear on the price-change stamps. It will serve as a 64-cent stamp for odd shaped envelopes.

2009 price-change stamps

2009 price-change stamps
www.boston.com/business/gallery/2009pircechangestamps/ -&- www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2009/02/27/new_stamps_set_for_rate_increase_in_may/

Red Sox v Yankees

Red Sox v Yankees
Go Red Sox!

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama
AP photo v Shepard Fairey

Rush Limbaugh lackeys

Rush Limbaugh lackeys
Posted by Dan Wasserman of the Boston Globe on March 3, 2009.

Honest Abe

Honest Abe
A 2007 US Penny

Dog race

Dog race
Sledding for dogs

The Capital of the Constitution State

The Capital of the Constitution State
Hartford, once the wealthiest city in the United States but now the poorest in Connecticut, is facing an uphill battle.

Brady, Bundchen married

Brady, Bundchen married
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and model Gisele Bundchen wed Feb. 26, 2009 in a Catholic ceremony in Los Angeles. www.boston.com/ae/celebrity/gallery/tom_gisele/

Mayor Jimmy Ruberto

Mayor Jimmy Ruberto
Tanked Pittsfield's local economy while helping his fellow insider political hacks and business campaign contributors!

Journalist Andrew Manuse

Journalist Andrew Manuse
www.manuse.com

New Hampshire Supreme Court Building

New Hampshire Supreme Court Building
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Hampshire_Supreme_Court

Economic State of the Union

Economic State of the Union
A look at some of the economic conditions the Obama administration faces and what resources have already been pledged to help. 2/24/2009

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama
The president addresses the nation's governors during a dinner in the State Dinning Room, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009, at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari).

The Oscars - 2/22/2009.

The Oscars - 2/22/2009.
Hugh Jackman and Beyoncé Knowles teamed up for a musical medley during the show.

The 81st Academy Awards - Oscars - 2009

The 81st Academy Awards - Oscars - 2009
Hugh Jackman pulled actress Anne Hathaway on stage to accompany him during his opening musical number.

Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow
A Progressive News Commentator

$500,000 per year

$500,000 per year
That is chump change for the corporate elite!

THE CORPORATE ELITE...

THE CORPORATE ELITE...
Jeffrey R. Immelt, chairman and chief executive of General Electric

The Presidents' Club

The Presidents' Club
Bush, Obama, Bush Jr, Clinton & Carter.

5 Presidents: Bush, Obama, Bush Jr, Clinton, & Carter!

5 Presidents: Bush, Obama, Bush Jr, Clinton, & Carter!
White House Event: January 7, 2009.

Bank Bailout!

Bank Bailout!
v taxpayer

Actress Elizabeth Banks

Actress Elizabeth Banks
She will present an award to her hometown (Pittsfield) at the Massachusetts State House next month (1/2009). She recently starred in "W" and "Zack and Miri Make a Porno," and just signed a $1 million annual contract to be a spokesmodel for Paris.

Joanna Lipper

Joanna Lipper
Her award-winning 1999 documentary, "Growing Up Fast," about teenaged mothers in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Happy Holidays...

Happy Holidays...
...from "Star Wars"

Massachusetts "poor" economy

Massachusetts "poor" economy
Massachusetts is one of the wealthiest states, but it is also very inequitable. For example, it boasts the nation's most lucrative lottery, which is just a system of regressive taxation so that the corporate elite get to pay less in taxes!

Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon
Hollywood Actress

Peter G. Arlos.

Peter G. Arlos.
Arlos is shown in his Pittsfield office in early 2000.

Turnpike OK's hefty toll hikes

Turnpike OK's hefty toll hikes
Big Dig - East-west commuters take hit; Fees at tunnels would double. 11/15/2008.

The Pink Panther 2

The Pink Panther 2
Starring Steve Martin

Police ABUSE

Police ABUSE
I was a victim of Manchester Police Officer John Cunningham's ILLEGAL USES of FORCE! John Cunningham was reprimanded by the Chief of Police for disrespecting me. John Cunningham yelled at a witness: "I don't care if he (Jonathan Melle) is disabled!"

Barack Obama

Barack Obama
The 44th US President!

Vote

Vote
Elections

The Bailout & the economic stimulus check

The Bailout & the economic stimulus check
A political cartoon by Dan Wasserman

A rainbow over Boston

A rainbow over Boston
"Rainbows galore" 10/2/2008

Our nation's leaders!

Our nation's leaders!
President Bush with both John McCain & Barack Obama - 9/25/2008.

Massachusetts & Big Dig: Big hike in tolls for Pike looming (9/26/2008).

Massachusetts & Big Dig: Big hike in tolls for Pike looming (9/26/2008).
$5 rise at tunnels is one possibility $1 jump posed for elsewhere.

Mary E Carey

Mary E Carey
My FAVORITE Journalist EVER!

9/11/2008 - A Show of Unity!

9/11/2008 - A Show of Unity!
John McCain and Barack Obama appeared together at ground zero in New York City - September 11, 2008.

John McCain...

John McCain...
...has all but abandoned the positions on taxes, torture and immigration. (A cartoon by Dan Wasserman. September 2008).

Dan Wasserman

Dan Wasserman
The deregulated chickens come home to roost... in all our pocketbooks. September 2008.

Sarah Palin's phobia

Sarah Palin's phobia
A scripted candidate! (A cartoon by Dan Wasserman).

Dan Wasserman

Dan Wasserman
Family FInances - September, 2008.

Mark E. Roy

Mark E. Roy
Ward 1 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Theodore “Ted” L. Gatsas

Theodore “Ted” L. Gatsas
Ward 2 Alderman (& NH State Senator) for Manchester, NH (2008).

Peter M. Sullivan

Peter M. Sullivan
Ward 3 (downtown) Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Jim Roy

Jim Roy
Ward 4 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Ed Osborne

Ed Osborne
Ward 5 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Real R. Pinard

Real R. Pinard
Ward 6 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

William P. Shea

William P. Shea
Ward 7 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Betsi DeVries

Betsi DeVries
Ward 8 Alder-woman (& NH State Senator) for Manchester, NH (2008).

Michael Garrity

Michael Garrity
Ward 9 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

George Smith

George Smith
Ward 10 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Russ Ouellette

Russ Ouellette
Ward 11 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Kelleigh (Domaingue) Murphy

Kelleigh (Domaingue) Murphy
Ward 12 Alder-woman for Manchester, NH (2008).

“Mike” Lopez

“Mike” Lopez
At-Large Alderman for Manchester, NH. (2008).

Daniel P. O’Neil

Daniel P. O’Neil
At-Large Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Sarah Palin for Vice President.

Sarah Palin for Vice President.
Republican John McCain made the surprise pick of Alaska's governor Sarah Palin as his running mate today, August 29, 2008.

U.S. Representative John Olver, D-Amherst, Massachusetts.

U.S. Representative John Olver, D-Amherst, Massachusetts.
Congressman Olver said the country has spent well over a half-trillion dollars on the war in Iraq while the situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate. 8/25/08.

Ed O'Reilly for US Senate in Massachusetts!

Ed O'Reilly for US Senate in Massachusetts!
John Kerry's 9/2008 challenger in the Democratic Primary.

Shays' Rebellion

Shays' Rebellion
In a tax revolt, Massachusetts farmers fought back during Shays' Rebellion in the mid-1780s after The American Revolutionary War.

Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore
Actress. "The Big Lebowski" is one of my favorite movies. I also like "The Fugitive", too.

Rinaldo Del Gallo III & "Superman"

Rinaldo Del Gallo III & "Superman"
Go to: http://www.berkshirefatherhood.com/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=699&cntnt01returnid=69

"Income chasm widening in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts"

"Income chasm widening in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts"
The gap between rich and poor has widened substantially in Massachusetts over the past two decades. (8/15/2008).

Dan "Bureaucrat" Bosley

Dan "Bureaucrat" Bosley
"The Bosley Amendment": To create tax loopholes for the wealthiest corporate interests in Massachusetts!

John Edwards and...

John Edwards and...
...Rielle Hunter. WHO CARES?!

Rep. Edward J. Markey

Rep. Edward J. Markey
He wants online-privacy legislation. Some Web Firms Say They Track Behavior Without Explicit Consent.

Cindy Sheehan

Cindy Sheehan
She gained fame with her antiwar vigil outside the Bush ranch.

Olympics kick off in Beijing

Olympics kick off in Beijing
Go USA!

Exxon Mobil 2Q profit sets US record, shares fall

Exxon Mobil 2Q profit sets US record, shares fall
In this May 1, 2008, file photo, a customer pumps gas at an Exxon station in Middleton, Mass. Exxon Mobil Corp. reported second-quarter earnings of $11.68 billion Thursday, July 31, the biggest quarterly profit ever by any U.S. corporation, but the results were well short of Wall Street expectations and its shares fell as markets opened. (AP Photo/Lisa Poole, File) 7/31/2008.

Onota Lake 'Sea Serpent'

Onota Lake 'Sea Serpent'
Some kind of monster on Onota Lake. Five-year-old Tyler Smith rides a 'sea serpent' on Onota Lake in Pittsfield, Mass. The 'monster,' fashioned by Smith's grandfather, first appeared over July 4 weekend. (Photo courtesy of Ron Smith). 7/30/2008.

Al Gore, Jr.

Al Gore, Jr.
Al Gore issues challenge on energy

The Norman Rockwell Museum

The Norman Rockwell Museum
Stockbridge, Massachusetts

"Big Dig"

"Big Dig"
Boston's financially wasteful pork barrel project!

"Big Dig"

"Big Dig"
Boston's pork barrel public works project cost 50 times more than the original price!

Mary E Carey

Mary E Carey
My favorite journalist EVER!

U.S. Rep. John Olver, state Sen. Stan Rosenberg and Selectwomen Stephanie O'Keeffe and Alisa Brewer

U.S. Rep. John Olver, state Sen. Stan Rosenberg and Selectwomen Stephanie O'Keeffe and Alisa Brewer
Note: Photo from Mary E Carey's Blog.

Tanglewood

Tanglewood
Boston Symphony Orchestra music director James Levine.

Google

Google
Chagall

Jimmy Ruberto

Jimmy Ruberto
Faces multiple persecutions under the Massachusetts "Ethics" conflict of interest laws.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama
Obama vows $500m in faith-based aid.

John McCain

John McCain
He is with his wife, Cindy, who were both met by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe (right) upon arriving in Cartagena.

Daniel Duquette

Daniel Duquette
Sold Mayor James M. Ruberto of Pittsfield two tickets to the 2004 World Series at face value.

Hillary & Barack in Unity, NH - 6/27/2008

Hillary & Barack in Unity, NH - 6/27/2008
Clinton tells Obama, crowd in Unity, N.H.: 'We are one party'

John Forbes Kerry

John Forbes Kerry
Wanna-be Prez?

WALL-E

WALL-E
"out of this World"

Crisis in the Congo - Ben Affleck

Crisis in the Congo - Ben Affleck
http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/popup?id=5057139&contentIndex=1&page=1&start=false - http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/story?id=5234555&page=1

Jeanne Shaheen

Jeanne Shaheen
NH's Democratic returning candidate for U.S. Senate

"Wall-E"

"Wall-E"
a cool robot

Ed O'Reilly

Ed O'Reilly
www.edoreilly.com

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
World Champions - 2008

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
J.D. Drew gets the same welcome whenever he visits the City of Brotherly Love: "Booooooo!"; Drew has been vilified in Philadelphia since refusing to sign with the Phillies after they drafted him in 1997...

Joe Kelly Levasseur & Joe Briggs

Joe Kelly Levasseur & Joe Briggs
www.2joes.org

NH Union Leader

NH Union Leader
Editorial Cartoon

Celtics - World Champions!

Celtics - World Champions!
www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/gallery/06_18_08_front_pages/ - www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/gallery/06_17_08_finals_game_6/ - www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/gallery/06_17_08_celebration/ - www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/gallery/06_15_08_celtics_championships/

"The Nation"

"The Nation"
A "Liberal" weekly political news magazine. Katrina vanden Heuvel.

TV - PBS: NOW

TV - PBS: NOW
http://www.pbs.org/now

The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone
List of Twilight Zone episodes - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Twilight_Zone_episodes

Equality for ALL Marriages

Equality for ALL Marriages
I, Jonathan Melle, am a supporter of same sex marriages.

Kobe Bryant leads his time to a Game 5 victory.

Kobe Bryant leads his time to a Game 5 victory.
L.A. Lakers holds on for the win to force Game 6 at Boston

Mohawk Trail

Mohawk Trail
The 'Hail to the Sunrise' statue in Charlemont is a well-known and easily recognized landmark on the Mohawk Trail. The trail once boasted several souvenir shops, some with motels and restaurants. Now only four remain. (Caroline Bonnivier / Berkshire Eagle Staff).

NASA - June 14, 2008

NASA - June 14, 2008
Space Shuttle Discovery returns to Earth.

Go Celtics! Game # 4 of the 2008 NBA Finals.

Go Celtics! Game # 4 of the 2008 NBA Finals.
Boston took a 20-second timeout, and the Celtics ran off four more points (including this incredible Erving-esque layup from Ray Allen) to build the lead to five points with just 2:10 remaining. Reeling, the Lakers took a full timeout to try to regain their momentum.

Sal DiMasi

Sal DiMasi
Speaker of the Massachusetts State House of Representatives

Kelly Ayotte - Attorney General of New Hampshire

Kelly Ayotte - Attorney General of New Hampshire
http://doj.nh.gov/

John Kerry

John Kerry
He does not like grassroots democracy & being challenged in the 2008 Massachusetts Democratic Party Primary for re-election.

Tim Murray

Tim Murray
Corrupt Lt. Gov. of Massachusetts, 2007 - 2013.

North Adams, Massachusetts

North Adams, Massachusetts
downtown

Howie Carr

Howie Carr
Political Satirist on Massachusetts Corruption/Politics

Polar Bear

Polar Bear
Global Warming

Elizabeth Warren - Web-Site Links

Elizabeth Warren - Web-Site Links
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Warren & http://www.creditslips.org/creditslips/WarrenAuthor.html

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren
Consumer Crusader

Leon Powe

Leon Powe
Celtics forward Leon Powe finished a fast break with a dunk.

Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett reacted during the game.

Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo finished a first half fast break with a dunk.

Teamwork

Teamwork
Los Angeles Lakers teammates help Pau Gasol (16) from the floor in the second quarter.

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant took a shot in the first half of Game 2.

Kendrick Perkins

Kendrick Perkins
Kendrick Perkins (right) backed down Lamar Odom (left) during first half action.

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
The Boston Symphony Orchestra performed the national anthem prior to Game 2.

K.G.!

K.G.!
Garnett reacted to a hard dunk in the first quarter.

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce reacted after hitting a three upon his return to the game since leaving with an injury.

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
Kobe Bryant (left) and Paul Pierce (right) squared off in the second half of the game.

James Taylor

James Taylor
Sings National Anthem at Celtics Game.

John Forbes Kerry & Deval Patrick

John Forbes Kerry & Deval Patrick
Attended Celtics Game.

Greats of the NBA: Dr. J, Bill Russell, & Kareem!

Greats of the NBA: Dr. J, Bill Russell, & Kareem!
Attend Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals.

Bruce Willis

Bruce Willis
The actor (left) and his date were in the crowd before the Celtics game.

John Kerry

John Kerry
Golddigger attends Celtics game

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton
Ends her 2008 bid for Democratic Party nomination

Nonnie Burnes

Nonnie Burnes
Massachusetts Insurance Commish & former Judge

Jones Library

Jones Library
Amherst, Massachusetts

Barack Obama & Hillary Clinton

Barack Obama & Hillary Clinton
2008 Democratic Primary

"US vs Exxon and Halliburton"

"US vs Exxon and Halliburton"
U.S. Senator John Sununu took more than $220,000 from big oil.

Jeanne Shaheen

Jeanne Shaheen
4- U.S. Senate - 2008

William Pignatelli

William Pignatelli
Hack Rep. "Smitty" with Lynne Blake

Ben Bernanke

Ben Bernanke
Federal Reserve Chairman

Gazettenet.com

Gazettenet.com
www.gazettenet.com/beta/

Boys' & Girls' Club

Boys' & Girls' Club
Melville Street, Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Denis Guyer

Denis Guyer
Dalton State Representative

The Berkshire Eagle

The Berkshire Eagle
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Carmen Massimiano

Carmen Massimiano
Williams College - May 2008

Larry Bird & Magic Johnson

Larry Bird & Magic Johnson
www.boston.com/lifestyle/gallery/when_the_celtics_were_cool/

Regressive Taxation! via State Lotteries

Regressive Taxation! via State Lotteries
New Massachusetts state lottery game hits $600 million in sales!

Andrea Nuciforo

Andrea Nuciforo
"Luciforo"

John Barrett III

John Barrett III
Long-time Mayor of North Adams Massachusetts

Shine On

Shine On

Elmo

Elmo
cool!

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce kissed the Eastern Conference trophy. 5/30/2008. AP Photo.

Kevin Garnett & Richard Hamilton

Kevin Garnett & Richard Hamilton
Kevin Garnett (left) talked to Pistons guard Richard Hamilton (right) after the Celtics' victory in Game 6. 5/30/2008. Reuters Photo.

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce showed his team colors as the Celtics closed out the Pistons in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. 5/30/2008. Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis.

Joseph Kelly Levasseur

Joseph Kelly Levasseur
One of my favorite politicians!

Mary E Carey

Mary E Carey
In the Big Apple: NYC! She is the coolest!

Guyer & Kerry

Guyer & Kerry
My 2nd least favorite picture EVER!

Mary Carey

Mary Carey
My favorite journalist EVER!

Nuciforo & Ruberto

Nuciforo & Ruberto
My least favorite picture EVER!

Jeanne Shaheen

Jeanne Shaheen
U.S. Senate - 2008

NH Fisher Cats

NH Fisher Cats
AA Baseball - Toronto Blue Jays affiliate

Manchester, NH

Manchester, NH
Police Patch

Michael Briggs

Michael Briggs
#83 - We will never forget

Michael "Stix" Addison

Michael "Stix" Addison
http://unionleader.com/channel.aspx/News?channel=2af17ff4-f73b-4c44-9f51-092e828e1131

Charlie Gibson

Charlie Gibson
ABC News anchor

Scott McClellan

Scott McClellan
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/scott_mcclellan/index.html?inline=nyt-per

Boise, Idaho

Boise, Idaho
Downtown Boise Idaho

John Forbes Kerry

John Forbes Kerry
Legislative Hearing in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, BCC, on Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson
My favorite classical U.S. President!

NH Governor John Lynch

NH Governor John Lynch
Higher Taxes, Higher Tolls

Paul Hodes

Paul Hodes
My favorite Congressman!

Portland Sea Dogs

Portland Sea Dogs
AA Red Sox

New York

New York
Magnet

Massachusetts

Massachusetts
Magnet

New Hampshire

New Hampshire
Magnet

New Hampshire

New Hampshire
Button

Carmen Massimiano

Carmen Massimiano
"Luciforo" tried to send me to Carmen's Jail during the Spring & Summer of 1998.

Kay Khan - Massachusetts State Representative

Kay Khan - Massachusetts State Representative
www.openmass.org/members/show/174

Luciforo

Luciforo
Andrea F Nuciforo II

B-Eagle

B-Eagle
Pittsfield's monopoly/only daily newspaper

Jon Lester - Go Red Sox!

Jon Lester - Go Red Sox!
A Red Sox No Hitter on 5/19/2008!

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Dustin Pedroia & Manny Ramirez

U.S. Flag

U.S. Flag
God Bless America!

Jonathan Melle's Blog

Jonathan Melle's Blog
Hello, Everyone!

Molly Bish

Molly Bish
We will never forget!

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
Celtics guard Rajon Rondo listens to some advice from Celtics head coach Doc Rivers in the first half.

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
Celtics forward Kevin Garnett and Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace embrace at the end of the game.

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon calls for the ball as he charges toward first base. Papelbon made the out en route to picking up his 14th save of the season.

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Red Sox starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka throws to Royals David DeJesus during the first inning.

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka delivers a pitch to Royals second baseman Mark Grudzielanek during the second inning.

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Red Sox right fielder J.D. Drew is welcomed to home plate by teammates Mike Lowell (left), Kevin Youkilis (2nd left) and Manny Ramirez after he hit a grand slam in the second inning.

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell crosses the plate after hitting a grand slam during the sixth inning. Teammates Manny Ramirez and Jacoby Ellsbury scored on the play. The Red Sox went on to win 11-8 to complete a four-game sweep and perfect homestand.

JD Drew - Go Red Sox

JD Drew - Go Red Sox
www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/gallery/05_22_08_sox_royals/

Thank you for serving; God Bless America!

Thank you for serving; God Bless America!
Master Sgt. Kara B. Stackpole, of Westfield, holds her daughter, Samantha, upon her return today to Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee. She is one of the 38 members of the 439th Aeromedical Staging Squadron who returned after a 4-month deployment in Iraq. Photo by Dave Roback / The Republican.

Kathi-Anne Reinstein

Kathi-Anne Reinstein
www.openmass.org/members/show/175

Ted Kennedy

Ted Kennedy
Tragic diagnosis: Get well Senator!

Google doodle - Jonathan Melle Internet search

Google doodle - Jonathan Melle Internet search
http://blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch?hl=en&q=jonathan+melle+blogurl:http://jonathanmelleonpolitics.blogspot.com/&ie=UTF-8

John Forbes Kerry

John Forbes Kerry
Billionaire U.S. Senator gives address to MCLA graduates in North Adams, Massachusetts in mid-May 2008

Andrea Nuciforo

Andrea Nuciforo
"Luciforo"

A Red Sox Fan in Paris, France

A Red Sox Fan in Paris, France
Go Red Sox!

Rinaldo Del Gallo III

Rinaldo Del Gallo III
Interviewed on local TV

Andrea Nuciforo

Andrea Nuciforo
Luciforo!

John Adams

John Adams
#2 U.S. President

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I stood under a tree on the afternoon of May 9, 2008, on the foregrounds of the NH State House - www.websitetoolbox.com/tool/post/nhinsider/vpost?id=2967773

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Inside the front lobby of the NH State House

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Bill Clinton campaign memorabilia

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Liberty Bell & NH State House

Jon Keller

Jon Keller
Boston based political analyst

Jon Keller

Jon Keller
Boston based political analyst

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Franklin Pierce Statue #14 U.S. President

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
NH State House

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Stop the War NOW!

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
"Mr. Melle, tear down this Blog!"

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I stood next to a JFK photo

Jonathan Levine, Publisher

Jonathan Levine, Publisher
The Pittsfield Gazette Online

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I made rabbit ears with John & George

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I made antenna ears with John & George

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I impersonated Howard Dean

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
mock-voting

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
pretty ladies -/- Go to: http://www.wgir.com/cc-common/cc_photopop20.html?eventID=28541&pagecontent=&pagenum=4 - Go to: http://current.com/items/88807921_veterans_should_come_first_not_last# - http://www.mcam23.com/cgi-bin/cutter.cgi?c_function=STREAM?c_feature=EDIT?dir_catagory=10MorningRadio?dir_folder=2JoesClips?dir_file=JonathanMelle-090308? -

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Go Red Sox! Me at Fenway Park

Mary E. Carey

Mary E. Carey
My favorite journalist! Her voice sings for the Voiceless. -/- Go to: http://aboutamherst.blogspot.com/search?q=melle -/- Go to: http://ongeicocaveman.blogspot.com/search?q=melle

Velvet Jesus

Velvet Jesus
Mary Carey blogs about my political writings. This is a picture of Jesus from her childhood home in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. -//- "How Can I Keep From Singing" : My life goes on in endless song / Above Earth's lamentations, / I hear the real, though far-off hymn / That hails a new creation. / / Through all the tumult and the strife / I hear its music ringing, / It sounds an echo in my soul. / How can I keep from singing? / / Whey tyrants tremble in their fear / And hear their death knell ringing, / When friends rejoice both far and near / How can I keep from singing? / / In prison cell and dungeon vile / Our thoughts to them are winging / When friends by shame are undefiled / How can I keep from singing?

www.truthdig.com

www.truthdig.com
www.truthdig.com

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Concord NH

The Huffington Post

The Huffington Post
http://fundrace.huffingtonpost.com/neighbors.php?type=loc&newest=1&addr=&zip=01201&search=Search

Barack Obama

Barack Obama
smiles & beer

Jonathan Lothrop

Jonathan Lothrop
A Pittsfield City Councilor

Michael L. Ward

Michael L. Ward
A Pittsfield City Councilor

Peter Marchetti - Pittsfield's City Councilor at Large

Peter Marchetti - Pittsfield's City Councilor at Large
Pete always sides with the wealthy's political interests.

Gerald Lee - Pittsfield's City Council Prez

Gerald Lee - Pittsfield's City Council Prez
Gerald Lee told me that I am a Social Problem; Lee executes a top-down system of governance.

Matt Kerwood - Pittsfield's Councilor at Large

Matt Kerwood - Pittsfield's Councilor at Large
Kerwood poured coffee drinks for Jane Swift

Louis Costi

Louis Costi
Pittsfield City Councilor

Lewis Markham

Lewis Markham
Pittsfield City Councilor

Kevin Sherman - Pittsfield City Councilor

Kevin Sherman - Pittsfield City Councilor
Sherman ran for Southern Berkshire State Rep against Smitty Pignatelli; Sherman is a good guy.

Anthony Maffuccio

Anthony Maffuccio
Pittsfield City Councilor

Linda Tyer

Linda Tyer
Pittsfield City Councilor

Daniel Bianchi

Daniel Bianchi
A Pittsfield City Councilor

The Democratic Donkey

The Democratic Donkey
Democratic Party Symbol

Paramount

Paramount
What is Paramount to you?

NH's Congresswoman

NH's Congresswoman
Carol Shea-Porter, Democrat

Sam Adams Beer

Sam Adams Beer
Boston Lager

Ratatouille

Ratatouille
Disney Animation

Ruberto Details Plans for Success - January 07, 2008

Ruberto Details Plans for Success - January 07, 2008
"Luciforo" swears in Mayor Ruberto. Pittsfield Politics at its very worst: 2 INSIDER POWERBROKERS! Where is Carmen Massimiano? He must be off to the side.

Abe

Abe
Lincoln

Optimus Prime

Optimus Prime
Leader of the Autobots

Optimus Prime

Optimus Prime
1984 Autobot Transformer Leader

Cleanup Agreements - GE & Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites

Cleanup Agreements - GE & Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites
www.epa.gov/region1/ge/cleanupagreement.html

GE/Housatonic River Site: Introduction

GE/Housatonic River Site: Introduction
www.epa.gov/region1/ge/

GE/Housatonic River Site - Reports

GE/Housatonic River Site - Reports
www.epa.gov/region1/ge/thesite/opca-reports.html

US EPA - Contact - Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites

US EPA - Contact -  Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites
www.epa.gov/region1/ge/contactinfo.html

GE Corporate Logo - Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites

GE Corporate Logo - Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites
www.epa.gov/region1/ge/index.html

Commonwealth Connector

Commonwealth Connector
Commonwealth Care

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
Healthcare Reform

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
Healthcare Reform

Network Health Forward - A Commonwealth Care Plan

Network Health Forward - A Commonwealth Care Plan
Massachusetts Health Reform

Network Health Together: A MassHealth Plan - Commonwealth Care

Network Health Together: A MassHealth Plan - Commonwealth Care
Massachusetts Health Reform

www.network-health.org

www.network-health.org
Massachusetts Health Reform

Neighborhood Health Plan - Commonwealth Care

Neighborhood Health Plan - Commonwealth Care
Massachusetts Health Reform

Fallon Community Health Plan - Commonwealth Care

Fallon Community Health Plan - Commonwealth Care
Massachusetts Health Reform

BMC HealthNet Plan

BMC HealthNet Plan
Massachusetts Health Reform

Massachusetts Health Reform

Massachusetts Health Reform
Eligibility Chart: 2007

Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare

Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare
Massachusetts Health Reform

Business Peaks

Business Peaks
Voodoo Economics

Laffer Curve - Corporate Elite

Laffer Curve - Corporate Elite
Reagonomics: Supply Side

Corporate Elite Propaganda

Corporate Elite Propaganda
Mock Liberal Democratic Socialism Thinking

Real Estate Blues

Real Estate Blues
www.boston.com/bostonglobe/magazine/2008/0316/

PEACE

PEACE
End ALL Wars!

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of Speech
Norman Rockwell's World War II artwork depicting America's values

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln
A young Abe Lincoln

RACHEL KAPRIELIAN

RACHEL KAPRIELIAN
www.openmass.org/members/show/218 - www.rachelkaprielian.com

Jennifer M. Callahan - Massachusetts State Representative

Jennifer M. Callahan - Massachusetts State Representative
www.openmass.org/members/show/164 - www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/05/04/legislator_describes_threat_as_unnerving/

Human Rights for ALL Peoples!

Human Rights for ALL Peoples!
My #1 Political Belief!

Anne Frank

Anne Frank
Amsterdam, Netherlands, Europe

A young woman Hillary supporter

A young woman Hillary supporter
This excellent picture captures a youth's excitement

Hillary Clinton with Natalie Portman

Hillary Clinton with Natalie Portman
My favorite Actress!

Alan Chartock

Alan Chartock
WAMC public radio in Albany, NY; Political columnist who writes about Berkshire County area politics; Strong supporter for Human Rights for ALL Peoples

OpenCongress.Org

OpenCongress.Org
This web-site uses some of my Blog postings

OpenMass.org

OpenMass.org
This web-site uses some of my blog postings!

Shannon O'Brien

Shannon O'Brien
One of my favorite politicians! She stands for the People first!

The Massachusetts State House

The Massachusetts State House
"The Almighty Golden Dome" - www.masslegislature.tv -

Sara Hathaway

Sara Hathaway
Former Mayor of Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.

Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.
A corrupt Pol who tried to put me in Jail

Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.

Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.
Another view of Pittsfield's inbred, multigenerational political prince. Luciforo!

Luciforo

Luciforo
Nuciforo's nickname

"Andy" Nuciforo

"Andy" Nuciforo
Luciforo!

Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr., Berkshire County Sheriff (Jailer)

Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr., Berkshire County Sheriff (Jailer)
Nuciforo's henchman! Nuciforo tried to send me to Carmen's Jail

Andrea Nuciforo Jr

Andrea Nuciforo Jr
Shhh! Luciforo's other job is working as a private attorney defending wealthy Boston-area corporate insurance companies

Berkshire County Sheriff (Jailer) Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr.

Berkshire County Sheriff (Jailer) Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr.
Nuciforo tried to send me to Carmen's Jail! Carmen sits with the Congressman, John Olver

Congressman John Olver

Congressman John Olver
Nuciforo's envy

The Dome of the U.S. Capitol

The Dome of the U.S. Capitol
Our Beacon of American Democracy

Nuciforo's architect

Nuciforo's architect
Mary O'Brien in red with scarf

Sara Hathaway (www.brynmawr.edu)

Sara Hathaway (www.brynmawr.edu)
Former-Mayor of Pittsfield, Massachusetts; Nuciforo intimidated her, along with another woman, from running in a democratic state election in the Spring of 2006!

Andrea F. Nuciforo II

Andrea F. Nuciforo II
Pittsfield Politics

Berkshire County Republican Association

Berkshire County Republican Association
Go to: www.fcgop.blogspot.com

Denis Guyer

Denis Guyer
Dalton State Representative

John Forbes Kerry & Denis Guyer

John Forbes Kerry & Denis Guyer
U.S. Senator & State Representative

John Kerry

John Kerry
Endorses Barack Obama for Prez then visits Berkshire County

Dan Bosley

Dan Bosley
A Bureaucrat impostering as a Legislator!

Ben Downing

Ben Downing
Berkshire State Senator

Christopher N Speranzo

Christopher N Speranzo
Pittsfield's ANOINTED State Representative

Peter J. Larkin

Peter J. Larkin
Corrupt Lobbyist

GE - Peter Larkin's best friend!

GE - Peter Larkin's best friend!
GE's FRAUDULENT Consent Decree with Pittsfield, Massachusetts, will end up KILLING many innocent school children & other local residents!

GE's CEO Jack Welch

GE's CEO Jack Welch
The Corporate System's Corporate Elite's King

Economics: Where Supply meets Demand

Economics: Where Supply meets Demand
Equilibrium

GE & Pittsfield, Massachusetts

GE & Pittsfield, Massachusetts
In 2007, GE sold its Plastics Division to a Saudi company. Now all that is left over by GE are its toxic PCB pollutants that cause cancer in many Pittsfield residents.

Mayor James M Ruberto

Mayor James M Ruberto
A small-time pol chooses to serve the corporate elite & other elites over the people.

Governor Deval Patrick

Governor Deval Patrick
Deval shakes hands with Mayors in Berkshire County

Deval Patrick

Deval Patrick
Governor of Massachusetts

Pittsfield High School

Pittsfield High School
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Sara Hathaway

Sara Hathaway
Pittsfield's former Mayor

Rinaldo Del Gallo III

Rinaldo Del Gallo III
Pittsfield Attorney focusing on Father's Rights Probate Court Legal Issues, & Local Politician and Political Observer

Rinaldo Del Gallo III

Rinaldo Del Gallo III
Very Intelligent Political Activists in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Rinaldo Del Gallo, III, Esq. is the spokesperson of the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition. He has been practicing family law and has been a member of the Massachusetts bar since 1996.

Mayor Ed Reilly

Mayor Ed Reilly
He supports Mayor Ruberto & works as a municipal Attorney. As Mayor, he backed Bill Weld for Governor in 1994, despite being a Democrat. He was joined by Carmen Massimiano & John Barrett III, the long-standing Mayor of North Adams.

Manchester, NH Mayor Frank Guinta

Manchester, NH Mayor Frank Guinta
Cuts Dental Care for Public School Children-in-Need

Manchester, NH City Hall

Manchester, NH City Hall
My new hometown - view from Hanover St. intersection with Elm St.

Manchester NH City Democrats

Manchester NH City Democrats
Go Dems!

2008 Democratic Candidates for U.S. Prez

2008 Democratic Candidates for U.S. Prez
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, John Edwards

NH State House Dome

NH State House Dome
Concord, NH

Donna Walto

Donna Walto
Pittsfield Politician -- She strongly opposes Mayor Jim Ruberto's elitist tenure.

Elmo

Elmo
Who doesn't LOVE Elmo?

Hillary Clinton for U.S. President!

Hillary Clinton for U.S. President!
Hillary is for Children. She is my choice in 2008.

The White House in 1800

The White House in 1800
Home of our Presidents of the United States

John Adams

John Adams
2nd President of the USA

Hillary Clinton stands with John Edwards and Joe Biden

Hillary Clinton stands with John Edwards and Joe Biden
Hillary is my choice for U.S. President!

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton
Former President Bill Clinton speaks at the Radisson in Manchester NH 11/16/2007

Barack Obama

Barack Obama
U.S. Senator & Candidate for President

Pittsfield's 3 Women City Councillors - 2004

Pittsfield's 3 Women City Councillors - 2004
Linda Tyer, Pam Malumphy, Tricia Farley-Bouvier

Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Massachusetts
My friend Brian Merzbach reviews baseball parks around the nation.

The Corporate Elite: Rational Incentives for only the wealthy

The Corporate Elite: Rational Incentives for only the wealthy
The Elites double their $ every 6 to 8 years, while the "have-nots" double their $ every generation (or 24 years). Good bye Middle Class!

George Will

George Will
The human satellite voice for the Corporate Elite

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren
The Anti-George Will; Harvard Law School Professor; The Corporate Elite's Worst Nightmare

The Flag of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

The Flag of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
I was born and raised in Pittsfield, Massachusetts

State Senator Stan Rosenberg

State Senator Stan Rosenberg
Democratic State Senator from Amherst, Massachusetts -/- Anti-Stan Rosenberg Blog: rosenbergwatch.blogspot.com

Ellen Story

Ellen Story
Amherst Massachusetts' State Representative

Teen Pregnancy in Pittsfield, Mass.

Teen Pregnancy in Pittsfield, Mass.
Books are being written on Pittsfield's high teen pregancy rates! What some intellectuals do NOT understand about the issue is that TEEN PREGNANCIES in Pittsfield double the statewide average by design - Perverse Incentives!

NH Governor John Lynch

NH Governor John Lynch
Supports $30 Scratch Tickets and other forms of regressive taxation. Another Pol that only serves his Corporate Elite Masters instead of the People!

U.S. Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter

U.S. Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter
The first woman whom the People of New Hampshire have voted in to serve in U.S. Congress

U.S. Congressman Paul Hodes

U.S. Congressman Paul Hodes
A good man who wants to bring progressive changes to Capitol Hill!

Paul Hodes for U.S. Congress

Paul Hodes for U.S. Congress
New Hampshire's finest!

Darth Vader

Darth Vader
Star Wars

Dick Cheney & George W. Bush

Dick Cheney & George W. Bush
The Gruesome Two-some! Stop the Neo-Cons' fascism! End the Iraq War NOW!

WAROPOLY

WAROPOLY
The Inequity of Globalism

Bushopoly!

Bushopoly!
The Corporate Elite have redesigned "The System" to enrich themselves at the expense of the people, masses, have-nots, poor & middle-class families

George W. Bush with Karl Rove

George W. Bush with Karl Rove
Rove was a political strategist with extraordinary influence within the Bush II White House

2008's Republican Prez-field

2008's Republican Prez-field
John McCain, Alan Keyes, Rudy Guiliani, Duncan Hunter, Mike Huckabee, WILLARD Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, Ron Paul

Fall in New England

Fall in New England
Autumn is my favorite season

Picturing America

Picturing America
picturingamerica.neh.gov

Winter Weather Map

Winter Weather Map
3:45PM EST 3-Dec-07

Norman Rockwell Painting

Norman Rockwell Painting
Thanksgiving

Norman Rockwell Painting

Norman Rockwell Painting
Depiction of American Values in mid-20th Century America

Larry Bird #33

Larry Bird #33
My favorite basketball player of my childhood

Boston Celtics Basketball - 2007-2008

Boston Celtics Basketball - 2007-2008
Kevin Garnett hugs James Posey

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce
All heart! Awesome basketball star for The Boston Celtics.

Tom Brady

Tom Brady
Go Patriots!

Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch
Owner of Fox News - CORPORATE ELITE!

George Stephanopolous

George Stephanopolous
A Corporate Elite Political News Analyst

Robert Redford

Robert Redford
Starred in the movie "Lions for Lambs"

Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep
Plays a jaded journalist with integrity in the movie "Lions for Lambs"

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise plays the Neo-Con D.C. Pol purely indoctrinated by the Corporate Elite's political agenda in the Middle East

CHARLIZE THERON

CHARLIZE THERON
"I want to say I've never been surrounded by so many fake breasts, but I went to the Academy Awards."

Amherst Town Library

Amherst Town Library
Amherst, NH - www.amherstlibrary.org

Manchester NH Library

Manchester NH Library
I use the library's automated timed 1-hour-per-day Internet computers to post on my Blog - www.manchester.lib.nh.us

Manchester NH's Palace Theater

Manchester NH's Palace Theater
Manchester NH decided to restore its Palace Theater

Pittsfield's Palace Theater

Pittsfield's Palace Theater
Pittsfield tore down this landmark on North Street in favor of a parking lot

Pleasant Street Theater

Pleasant Street Theater
Amherst, Massachusetts

William "Shitty" Pignatelli

William "Shitty" Pignatelli
A top down & banal State House Pol from Lenox Massachusetts -- A GOOD MAN!

The CIA & Mind Control

The CIA & Mind Control
Did the CIA murder people by proxy assassins?

Skull & Bones

Skull & Bones
Yale's Elite

ImpeachBush.org

ImpeachBush.org
I believe President Bush should be IMPEACHED because he is waging an illegal and immoral war against Iraq!

Bob Feuer drumming for U.S. Congress v John Olver in 2008

Bob Feuer drumming for U.S. Congress v John Olver in 2008
www.blog.bobfeuer.us

Abe Lincoln

Abe Lincoln
The 16th President of the USA

Power

Power
Peace

Global Warming Mock Giant Thermometer

Global Warming Mock Giant Thermometer
A member of Green Peace activist sets up a giant thermometer as a symbol of global warming during their campaign in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2007. World leaders launch marathon negotiations Monday on how to fight global warming, which left unchecked could cause devastating sea level rises, send millions further into poverty and lead to the mass extinction of plants and animals.

combat global warming...

combat global warming...
...or risk economic and environmental disaster caused by rising temperatures

www.climatecrisiscoalition.org

www.climatecrisiscoalition.org
P.O. Box 125, South Lee, MA 01260, (413) 243-5665, tstokes@kyotoandbeyond.org, www.kyotoandbeyond.org

3 Democratic presidentional candidates

3 Democratic presidentional candidates
Democratic presidential candidates former senator John Edwards (from right) and Senators Joe Biden and Chris Dodd before the National Public Radio debate yesterday (12/4/2007).

The UN Seal

The UN Seal
An archaic & bureaucratic post WW2 top-down, non-democratic institution that also stands for some good governance values

Superman

Superman
One of my favorite childhood heroes and movies

Web-Site on toxic toys

Web-Site on toxic toys
www.healthytoys.org

Batman

Batman
One of my favorite super-heroes

Deval Patrick & Denis Guyer

Deval Patrick & Denis Guyer
Massachusetts' Governor stands with Dalton's State Rep. Denis E. Guyer.

Bill Cosby & Denis Guyer

Bill Cosby & Denis Guyer
TV Star Bill Cosby stands with Denis E. Guyer

Denis Guyer with his supporters

Denis Guyer with his supporters
Dalton State Representative

Denis Guyer goes to college

Denis Guyer goes to college
Dalton State Representative

Peter Marchetti

Peter Marchetti
He is my second cousin. Pete Marchetti favors MONEY, not fairness!

Matt Barron & Denis Guyer with couple

Matt Barron & Denis Guyer with couple
Matt Barron plays DIRTY politics against his opponents!

Nat Karns

Nat Karns
Top-Down Executive Director of the ELITIST Berkshire Regional Planning Commission

Human Rights for All Peoples & people

Human Rights for All Peoples & people
Stop Anti-Semitism

Massachusetts State Treasurer Tim Cahill

Massachusetts State Treasurer Tim Cahill
State House, Room 227, Boston, MA 02133, 617-367-6900, www.mass.gov/treasury/

Massachusetts State Attorney General Martha Coakley

Massachusetts State Attorney General Martha Coakley
1350 Main Street, Springfield, MA 01103, 413-784-1240 / McCormick Building, One Asburton Place, Boston, MA 02108, 617-727-4765 / marthacoakley.com / www.ago.state.ma.us

Bush v. Gore: December 12, 2007, was the seventh anniversary, the 5-4 Supreme Court decision...

Bush v. Gore: December 12, 2007, was the seventh anniversary, the 5-4 Supreme Court decision...
www.takebackthecourt.org - A political billboard near my downtown apartment in Manchester, NH

Marc Murgo

Marc Murgo
An old friend of mine from Pittsfield

Downtown Manchester, NH

Downtown Manchester, NH
www.newhampshire.com/nh-towns/manchester.aspx

Marisa Tomei

Marisa Tomei
Movie Actress

Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities (MCHC)

Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities (MCHC)
www.masschc.org/issue.php

Mike Firestone & Anna Weisfeiler

Mike Firestone & Anna Weisfeiler
Mike Firestone works in Manchester NH for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign

James Pindell

James Pindell
Covers NH Primary Politcs for The Boston Globe

U.S. History - Declaration

U.S. History - Declaration
A 19th century engraving shows Benjamin Franklin, left, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Philip Livingston and Roger Sherman at work on the Declaration of Independence.

Boston Globe Photos of the Week - www.boston.com/bostonglobe/gallery/

Boston Globe Photos of the Week - www.boston.com/bostonglobe/gallery/
Sybregje Palenstijn (left), who plays Sarah Godbertson at Plimouth Plantation, taught visitors how to roast a turkey on a spit. The plantation often sees a large influx of visitors during the holiday season.

Chris Hodgkins

Chris Hodgkins
Another special interest Berkshire Pol who could not hold his "WATER" on Beacon Hill's State House!

The Big Dig - 15 tons of concrete fell from a tunnel ceiling onto Milena Del Valle's car.

The Big Dig - 15 tons of concrete fell from a tunnel ceiling onto Milena Del Valle's car.
Most of Boston's Big Dig highway remains closed, after a woman was crushed when 15 tons of concrete fell from a tunnel ceiling onto her car. (ABC News)

Jane Swift

Jane Swift
Former Acting Governor of Massachusetts & Berkshire State Senator

Paul Cellucci

Paul Cellucci
Former Massachusetts Governor

William Floyd Weld

William Floyd Weld
$80 Million Trust Fund Former Governor of Massachusetts

Mike Dukakis

Mike Dukakis
Former Governor of Massachusetts

Mary E. Carey

Mary E. Carey
Amherst, Massachusetts, Journalist and Blogger

Caveman

Caveman
www.ongeicocaveman.blogspot.com

Peter G. Arlos

Peter G. Arlos
"The biggest challenge Pittsfield faces is putting its fiscal house in order. The problem is that doing so requires structural changes in local government, many of which I have advocated for years, but which officials do not have the will to implement. Fiscal responsibility requires more than shifting funds from one department to another. Raising taxes and fees and cutting services are not the answer. Structural changes in the way services are delivered and greater productivity are the answer, and without these changes the city's fiscal crisis will not be solved."

James M. Ruberto

James M. Ruberto
"Pittsfield's biggest challenge is to find common ground for a better future. The city is at a crossroads. On one hand, our quality of life is challenged. On the other hand, some important building blocks are in place that could be a strong foundation for our community. Pittsfield needs to unite for the good of its future. The city needs an experienced businessman and a consensus builder who will invite the people to hold him accountable."

Matt Kerwood

Matt Kerwood
Pittsfield's Councilor-At-Large. Go to: extras.berkshireeagle.com/NeBe/profiles/12.htm

Gerald M. Lee

Gerald M. Lee
Pittsfield's City Council Prez. Top-down governance of the first order!

Mary Carey

Mary Carey
Mary with student

Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox
Jonathan Papelbon celebrates with Jason Varitek

Free Bernard Baran!

Free Bernard Baran!
www.freebaran.org

Political Intelligence

Political Intelligence
Capitol Hill

Sherwood Guernsey II

Sherwood Guernsey II
Wealthy Williamstown Political Activist & Pittsfield Attorney

Mary Carey 2

Mary Carey 2
California Pol & porn star

Pittsfield's Good Old Boy Network - Political Machine!

Pittsfield's Good Old Boy Network - Political Machine!
Andy "Luciforo" swears in Jimmy Ruberto for the returning Mayor's 3rd term

Berkshire Grown

Berkshire Grown
www.berkshiregrown.org

Rambo

Rambo

The Mount was built in 1902 & was home to Edith Wharton (1862-1937) from 1903 to 1908.

The Mount was built in 1902 & was home to Edith Wharton (1862-1937) from 1903 to 1908.
The Mount, the historic home in Lenox of famed American novelist Edith Wharton, is facing foreclosure.