Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I turned 39 (2014)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Alan Chartock

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www.berkshireeagle.com/alanchartock/
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"Better downtown thanks to Spice"
The Berkshire Eagle - Letters
Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Alan Chartock's got it right ("Spice added needed zing to downtown," Eagle, March 29). As owners of the Berkshire Nautilus and the Fitness Store, and next door neighbors to the Spice restaurant, we are indeed saddened by the recent closing of Spice.

As early investors in downtown Pittsfield, purchasing the Yon building in late 2000 and moving in 2001, we are intimately aware of both the potential and the challenge of owning a business in downtown Pittsfield. Rather than presume to know the reasons for Spice's closing, we hail owners Joyce Bernstein and Larry Rosenthal for their many contributions to Pittsfield. They clearly brought more than a restaurant or business to downtown. They brought a non-provincial, fresh perspective as well. Their investment in time and energy and yes dollars, richly contributed to our local economy (almost all of which was spent on local labor and or products).

The excitement and momentum of the Spice restaurant "in the making" led a groundswell of investment and forward-thinking to the downtown scene. Their personal efforts and involvement also added new confidence to both the business and cultural development in Pittsfield, not to mention their many personal contributions to local charitable organizations as well.

As owners of a downtown business, we consider ourselves blessed, and are very grateful for our loyal patronage. And, we like many others, hope to see what Joyce and Larry have seeded in downtown Pittsfield, continue to grow for many years to come.

JIM & JAMIE RAMONDETTA
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

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"I Publius: Spice added needed zing to downtown"
By Alan Chartock, The Berkshire Eagle, Weekly Column
Saturday, March 29, 2008
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

By now, many words have been written about Spice and The Mount. Some of them have been mine. So, let's sit back and take stock.

To anyone who has put down Spice or the incredibly good people who own it, Joyce Bernstein and Larry Rosenthal, I say "phooey" on you. Larry and Joyce are generous, wonderful, public-spirited and decent people. They are also anything but stupid. They had to know that their brilliant contribution to downtown Pittsfield would be a tough go.

The restaurant business is not for everyone. To run a restaurant fairly and on the up and up costs a lot of money. It takes an immense amount of time for it to pay off. Steve Picheny succeeded with his wonderful Pearl's in Great Barrington and that has turned out to be a huge gift for us all.

Joyce and Larry saw a chance to help bring Pittsfield out of the doldrums and they did their best. It has seemed to me for quite some time that Pittsfield is right on the precipice of greatness. It can make it or, if people give up, it can sink like a rock.

The city has a wonderful mayor, an enlightened publisher of this newspaper, a committed and sagacious banker in Berkshire Bank's Michael Daly, and a group of philanthropically minded people who support institutions like the restored Colonial Theatre, The Barrington Stage, the Carousel project and many other efforts. It is a jewel of a city surrounded by lakes and mountains, with a wonderful stock of housing and every ingredient to make it go and grow. Like one of those science experiments that we all had to do in high school and college, it is just waiting for the one or two ingredients that will make it happen.

Joyce Bernstein and Larry Rosenthal are nothing short of real-life heroes. It amazes, disappoints and disgusts me that the temporary (I hope) closing of their gift to Pittsfield has elicited so much "Schadenfreude" (joy in seeing someone else suffer). I just can't believe that Joyce and Larry, who have given so much to so many people, hosted so many receptions and events, and contributed so much money, have been treated so badly by people who have had so much to gain by their succeeding — unless, of course, something else is going on.

Unfortunately, there's a series of stories circulating about a few people who have it in for Joyce and Larry because of some perceived slight. Let me just say that there are some people in the world who would rather shoot themselves in the foot than enjoy someone else's success. In dumping on a jewel like Spice, they are contributing to the killing of Pittsfield.

It is time for all of us to look long and hard within and think about the common good. Let each of us reflect on what we are doing to our Pittsfield, which is the center of Berkshire life.

I am hereby awarding Joyce and Larry the "I Publius Award of Distinction for Bringing Pittsfield Back to Life."

I am begging those who have been unkind and unwise to think this through. I want them to consider what might happen the next time someone wants to do something good to bring the city back to life. I want them to think about how the shoddy reaction to the closure of Spice might affect the next potential benefactor.

Get on board, everyone.

Much has also been written about the Mount. It is a good project. It contributes to the Berkshires as a travel destination. As a museum dedicated to the life of Edith Wharton, it fits in beautifully with all of arts, music and dance that help make the Berkshires a premier cultural destination. It would appear that the folks who have run The Mount have not been expansive enough in bringing all of us in.

Apparently, those who get on the board have to come up with big bucks.

This is a terrible mistake. People have much they can bring to a board of directors in addition to money. Money should never be the bottom line for every board member. My one piece of advice to the people who are putting it all together is to make sure that the rationale for supporting The Mount is made clear and then open up what has been a closed effort to everyone.

It would be awful to see the place close, but right now, I don't see the momentum to make it happen. I have seen places like The Saratoga Performing Arts Center emerge from near-disaster to become thriving concerns, and I would love to see that happen here. If anyone or anything stands in the way of that happening, it may be time to consider a change.


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"The downfall of Governor Eliot Spitzer"
By Alan Chartock
Saturday, March 15, 2008
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

I've known Eliot Spitzer for years and have interviewed him countless times on WAMC.
So effective was he as a fighting New York Attorney General that he won overwhelming election to the governor's job. With his commitment to changing the dysfunctional nature of New York state government, he brought a breath of fresh air to the governor's office.

I believed in him, as did an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers. Our own James Taylor sang at his inauguration, alongside the incomparable Natalie Merchant. He has money, a beautiful wife, and three gorgeous children.

But now it seems he was leading a double life, apparently consorting with prostitutes. The thousands of people who believed in him, all of those who depended on him in the work place, are left hanging out to dry.

The right wing press is having a field day, and those who wanted state government to keep on being a closed and safe place to do business couldn't be happier. The inside lobbyists are rejoicing.

I have a friend who is one of those lobbyists. I met him one night and he told me that Spitzer would be turned into mincemeat. Sure enough, Eliot is out and things revert to normalcy. They may have been out to get him and they got what they wanted, but they never would have if he hadn't cooperated. So let's look at Eliot.

As attorney general, he increased the penalties on johns, a nod to his feminist constituency. Henceforth, the clients would be held just as or more responsible than the prostitutes they paid. He knew all about the 1910 Mann Act, yet brought prostitutes across state lines.

How could someone as knowledgeable about the law allow himself to participate in an illegal enterprise so likely to result in blackmail? It's something the shrinks will have to figure out.

In one poll, more than 60 percent of Americans admitted they had strayed beyond marital boundaries. They had affairs. Spitzer is a handsome, powerful man, and he could have had all kinds of girlfriends. Trust me, he would not be the first politician to do so. Roosevelt, Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., they all reportedly went there, but this was something else. This was illegal.

Spitzer brought down some very corrupt practices on Wall Street and, when his trouble was announced, there was said to be cheering and a sense of vindication on the part of those who had done some bad things. It's almost as if Spitzer's consorting with prostitutes made the bad guys' actions OK.

A guy I had met at the farmers market who had come down on Eliot asked me today if I now understood what he was talking about. Answer: No way. We really have to differentiate between Eliot Spitzer, the flawed human being, and the Eliot Spitzer who did some very good things and who contributed greatly to the way we think about government.

I can't tell you how many friends I have in state government who gave up better paying jobs to hitch their wagons to this rising star. Some of his staff were seen openly crying at their desks. Their futures and the futures of their families are now up in the air.

And don't forget the 70 percent or so of the people who voted for Spitzer in the last election. Many of them are dazed and grieving.

The psychiatrists and psychologists (not to mention the tabloids) are going to have a field day trying to figure out what makes Eliot tick. Maybe he went to a prostitute because he thought doing that would be better for his wife and family than taking a mistress.

We are all capable of extraordinary self-deception. The word "arrogance" is being used over and over again. Maybe so; maybe borderline personality disorder would describe the man. Maybe he was just wound too tight and couldn't stand the pressure. His wife, Silda, never made any pretense about her dislike for him going into politics, but once he did, she fully supported him.

Lots of people think Spitzer was being targeted. Not a bad theory, but they couldn't have gotten him if he didn't cooperate. The sheer daring of what he allegedly did is beyond comprehension. I lie awake at night trying to figure it out.

Think of all the disappointed, unhappy people who pinned their hopes on him. I'm one of them. It's a very, very bad dream.

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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"Mistakes were made at Mount"
By Alan Chartock
The Berkshire Eagle, Weekly Political Column, Op-Ed
Saturday, March 08, 2008
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

I recently received a letter from a man for whom I have immense respect. He is a major part of our business community and he is very bright. Whenever he writes or calls me, I listen carefully.

He is really upset about the threatened foreclosure of The Mount, the historic home of Edith Wharton. He reminded me that I run a major company (WAMC) with an $8 million budget and insisted, "If you filled in a structural deficit with borrowing instead of fundraising, you'd be fired in a heart beat."

He noted that the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office's Division of Public Charities publishes a handbook for nonprofit leaders. Their first duty, he says, is to make sure that their organizations are on sound fiscal footing.

Pointing a finger at the current administration and the small board that runs The Mount, he says what everyone else seems to be saying: "The Mount is obviously worth saving ... but not without serious structural changes."

It really does make one wonder. We at WAMC go through a major audit each year. The auditor reports to the Board of Trustees who ask very pointed questions. One wonders whether the board of The Mount was doing the same thing.

This isn't the only mail I've received about The Mount. Said one writer, "What The Mount needs is not a last-ditch effort to send good money after bad, what it desperately needs is new leadership."

The thrust of this letter is that the board of The Mount is too small and too distant. Others have called me and suggested that more Berkshire County folks should be included on the board so that those closest to home would be involved.

There are other problems. For example, there is the way in which we are told that a major donor is out there ready to match received funds, which may mean several million dollars. I'm sure it is true, but for some, the story strains perceptual credulity. If the wolf is at the door, you would think the mystery donor would put up the relatively small amount of money that the bank demands on a regular basis.

There are boards on which the founder or top leader does not like to risk dissonance. The consequence is that the board is kept small.

Finding people who are willing to serve is not always that easy.

Then, too, The Mount has another problem and that is the matter of an understandable mission. If your local fire department asks you for money, you may well give it. You know that we need a local fire department. Ditto your hospital. If our little Fairview in Great Barrington closes up, we are in big trouble. If the college to whom you owe your career asks you to kick in, you do it. Same thing with your religious institution.

It is true that The Mount brings in tens of thousands of people each summer. Far-sighted business people will recognize that it is in their interest to bring more tourists to the area.

A group of history buffs and town folks from the Great Barrington Historical Society have come together to make the newly acquired Wheeler House into a town museum. But after an initial burst of success, that project has run into some road blocks. Unlike the Edith Wharton board, the Great Barrington Historical Society has taken a great interest in the project, brought in a professional fundraiser and tried to include all the town stake holders in it. That's smart.

I recently spoke to one successful not-for-profit executive who wanted to know why people would give to something from which they were not getting a direct benefit. Said my not-for-profit friend, "Why would anyone give to a house?"

Well, not so fast. These are not just any houses. They are museums. They show how people lived at another time. They give us yet another reason to be proud of our Berkshire homes. New York City has the Statue of Liberty, we have these gems.

The problem, at least in the case of the Edith Wharton restoration, is that mistakes have been made.

The advice I would give is to play it straight, point to the place's successes, don't do silly things like putting family on the payroll and build a Board of Directors that can afford to help in a big way. It is essential that mistakes are corrected lest we lose a tremendous part of the Berkshire cultural scene.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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I Publius
The cost of breaking the rules
By Alan Chartock
Saturday, February 16, 2008

GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

Gotcha! Gotcha! Gotcha! So have you ever made a mistake? Oh, come on, of course you have. Don't deny it. I know that I have. Sometimes you pay for them, sometimes they just slip by. You try hard not to make mistakes, but every once in a while your number comes up, and you're toast.

Let's see, recently there was Roger Clemens, aka "The Rocket." He denies using performance-enhancing drugs, and his accuser, a self-identified supplier, says he did. The alleged supplier even tried to trap him into an admission by secretly recording a phone conversation. So they haul The Rocket before Congress and the irate posers, sometimes known as congressmen, grill Clemens.

The posers, some of whom brought us the war in Iraq, a broken budget and way too many kids without health care, see this as their opportunity for redemption. Their fury knows no bounds. They shake their fists, and spittle accumulates in the corners of their mouths as they carry on about a transgression that pales in comparison with some of their own political mistakes. This is political theater at its best.

Just look at the debacle in Florida and in Michigan. The Democrats passed a rule punishing those two states for moving their primaries up. Some people play by the rules, others don't. Barack Obama does not go to Florida, but at the last minute, Hillary does. She says she wasn't campaigning, but of course she was, and she wins. Now she wants the Florida and Michigan delegates that she won to be seated at the convention of the very party that made the rule that these delegates were not to be seated. It was none of the party's business in the first place. The state parties should have been allowed to do what they wanted.

Nevertheless, all the candidates agreed in principle, but Hillary broke the rule and now wants to be rewarded for it. This has nothing to do with who I think should be president, but it does have to do with bending the rules, something we see a lot of in America. I have long admired Hillary, but this was not a good move. It has turned people off and will cause havoc at the convention. It reeks of hypocrisy.

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Talk about posing, along comes MSNBC talkster David Shuster. He got in big trouble when he said that Hillary's people had "pimped out" former first daughter Chelsea Clinton by using her to call delegates and so-called "superdelegates" in the Democratic Party. Make no mistake about it, Shuster should have known better. A "pimp" runs "whores," and you do not call a perfectly fine young woman a name that conjures up those images.

In fact, Chelsea was not doing any more for Hillary than Michelle Obama was doing for her husband, and no one has used these pejorative words about her. Nevertheless, Shuster quite properly went on to MSNBC and groveled. He apologized and said that he could understand why people would take offense at the language. Nothing doing, said the Clinton campaign. They made it clear that they had been seriously fouled and, at a time when they were losing one primary after another, it was something to work with. There was even a suggestion that they might not participate in debates on the network.

We all know that Tim Russert, the big guy at NBC News, has been anything but fair when it comes Hillary, and this may well have been turnabout. After all, there are times when it makes sense to play the victim. As of this writing, Shuster has been suspended, and the fickle finger of fate has given him far worse a punishment than others have received for far worse offenses.

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So, let's reprise. Why don't we all do an audit in our own minds of the things that have been on our consciences for years? Then, let us not behave like big cats in the zoo tearing into red meat. The truth is we are constantly being manipulated by others. Some are in search of ratings, some accusations are unfounded and unfair and used to make political or other points. There is none among us who can't be called to account for something. So, to end my sermon, "Let us not cast the first stone."

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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"I Publius: Ripped from the headlines once again"
By Alan Chartock, The Berkshire Eagle
Saturday, February 23, 2008
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

Select Board's chairman seeking to succeed LaClair: Something interesting has happened in the town of Great Barrington. The head selectman, Tony Blair, has decided to seek the office of town manager. In other words, the person who has been the supervisor would like to take the job held by his outgoing subordinate.

This poses several interesting governmental and public administration questions, but before we start, let's set the record straight. I have always reserved lots of criticism for the Great Barrington board. Taxes are through the roof. All kinds of infrastructure projects need work. The so-called study of the town Police Department needs implementation lest we consider it money thrown into the Housatonic. The Mason Library, backed by millions of taxpayer dollars, needs to stay open, and leadership on that issue from the Select Board would be welcome. Lots of things need doing and I haven't been shy about offering my opinions.

That said, I deeply appreciate the skills and ability of Tony Blair. He is smart. He is a lawyer. Although aloof, he is a politician, and he knows how to work the crowd. He certainly knows the history of the town. In short, Tony Blair would make a fine town manager. If this were an elected rather than an appointed office, I would vote for him and, even with occasional dour moments in his personal relations with some of us, he would be outstanding at his work.

But there are other considerations. I have to assume that current Town Manager Burke E. LaClair is leaving because he has one of the more difficult jobs around here. He deserves a job that is less aggravating.

He has worked very hard. The Selectmen and everyone else shove problems at you, and five people sit there and tell you how to do better. It's not for me.

Now someone who has been on LaClair's case, even in the best sense of the word, is applying for his job. Someone — not me, you understand — will now scream that there is a potential conflict of interest. Let's face it.

Blair's colleagues elected him to chair the board and now, no matter how you cut it, they or the people they appoint to make the hire would be slapping him in the face if they did not choose him. As the British say, "What a sticky wicket."

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Man who threatened co-workers sentenced: Meanwhile, up at the other end of the county, this guy who threatened the lives of his former manager and co-workers with a loaded, cocked shotgun got himself 18 months in the pokey. With time off for good behavior, he'll be out in the blink of an eye.

It's hard not to play a game of "What if ...?" here. How many times has something that was meant to be "just a scare" turned into a tragedy? We have recently seen a spate of school killings around the country. This is why judges earn their money. If they are convinced that the man really meant no harm or that he had mental health issues, we can admire the judge's compassion.

On the other hand, why don't we send a message that such things will not be tolerated and will be treated severely, no excuses?

Since Sept. 11, 2001, many people are doing a lot of time for misbehaving on airplanes. For their part, the judges always face the possibility that they will be ridiculed and called names such as "Cut-'em-loose (fill in the judge's name here)." You can be sure that if the trigger had been pulled and one of the employees had died, 18 months would not be appropriate.

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Harvard psychiatrist asserts that the way to reverse brain disease, including Alzheimer's, is with exercise: The name of the book is "Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain" (Little Brown).

It is by John J. Ratey and it is well worth your notice. It differs from the largely hypothetical woo-woo stuff that is based on intuition and anecdotal evidence. I know that I spend an hour on my Schwinn bike every morning.

I never, ever miss. No matter how badly I feel when I get on the bike, I always feel better when I am through. Ratey cites all the rat and human studies, and I believe he is right. He is high on fish oil and says that you can turn brain deterioration around by following his advice. I'm doing it.

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"I Publius: Dr. Chartock talks politics and payrolls"
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, Weekly Column, The Berkshire Eagle
Saturday, April 26, 2008
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

Dear Doctor: I'm puzzled. Why is Ralph Nader running for president? I heard him on WAMC the other day, and he seems just as intent on spoiling this election as he has been in the past.

Could he be on the Republican payroll?

My boyfriend, Bruce, heard you in a debate with Nader, and he says that you don't like Nader, and Nader doesn't like you. Bruce doesn't like you, either.

Is Bruce right about this? He is wrong about so many things.

Sign me,

Hoosie in Housatonic.

Dear Hoosie:

Poor Nader. He seems to have been bitten by the fickle finger of fame. Some call him a narcissist. Some think he is unbalanced.

I know that you asked if he was on the Republican payroll. I'm sure you were just kidding about that, but he is the best friend the Republicans could ever hope to have. He keeps saying we should have a different electoral system, but he seems to forget that we live here under the present system, and that if a Republican like McCain is elected president, there will be even more justices like Alito, Roberts, Thomas and Scalia.

That in itself would be tragic, but it gets worse. John McCain is in favor of continuing the war that was started under false pretenses, prefers a health care plan that continues to deal the greedy insurance companies in and has nothing new to say about our faltering economy. In short, despite his protests to the contrary, he is anything but an alternative to George Bush.

The American people seem evenly divided. If Nader stays in, it is more than possible that, with the right 1 percent of the vote in the right state, the balance once again could be tipped toward those who would just have us continue on the same path we have been on for so long.

Put another way, a vote for Nader is a vote for McCain.

In fact, there are some coupon-clipping liberals who, in their own minds, really will not be affected by the outcome of this election. They have enough to eat and a good place to live. They'd rather be "pure" in their beliefs with no real thought about the poor and underserved. They say that they're against the war, but they are really voting to continue it. Make no mistake about it — by voting for Nader, they are voting for McCain.

By the way, ditch the boyfriend. A woman of your charm, sophistication and sensitivity can do a lot better than this know-nothing.

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Dear Doctor:

I know an ex-selectman who doesn't like you at all. He doesn't think the people really know all that much, and the folks who run our towns do all the work and are underappreciated. He says that Ph.D-professor types don't know what it's like to get your hands dirty.

I told the guy that you were once a selectman in Alford and that you worked in Congress and the state Legislature.

My question is this: All too often I don't like the choices we are getting. I have friends in West Stockbridge, Stockbridge and Great Barrington, and as we were downing some brewskis the other night, we were talking about how the people who run are so substandard that we really don't want to go out and vote for the lesser of two evils.

How come so few good people run for office and too many jerks end up winning?

Please sign me,

Ashley in Ashley Falls.

Dear Ashley:

You are very bright and a delightful letter writer. I can tell you that being a selectman or any town official is not an easy job, and people do it for a number of reasons.

The point is that there are a lot of very good people out there who could make a tremendous difference in their towns and cities, but they sit back and complain. In the meantime, towns like Great Barrington and West Stockbridge have major problems that can't seem to get resolved. I haven't run for office for a long time, but if I did, it would certainly be for the Great Barrington Library Board. My campaign slogan would be, "We paid for the library, the time has come to keep it open. This isn't a private club."
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"I Publius: Some advice for county transplants"
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, Weekly Political Column in The Berkshire Eagle
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts
Saturday, May 17, 2008

Years ago, a crusty older resident of the area asked me if I thought I would ever achieve "native" status in the Berkshires.

"No," I responded. "But my kids who were born in Fairview will."

The question is, how do we treat those who move into our area from some other place?

For example, if a relative newcomer from Long Island or New Jersey shows up at a town meeting and starts to shoot his mouth off about how "We did it differently on Long Island," will you dismiss his argument, even though you might agree with him, because you perceive him to be obnoxious or pushy?

If the town or city has been plagued by too little money and non-effective management, and a guy says — hypothetically, you understand — "I'm the chairman of the town Finance Committee, and we want that committee to be the official, ongoing monitor of what the town officials are doing," will he be told off by the townspeople? Will they look him in the eye and say, "Hell, no. We don't need you looking over the shoulders of our town departments, the town manager and the Selectmen?"

If they do say that, will they say it because the guy is not to their liking or because, philosophically, they don't believe it's a good idea — or a little bit of both? If this hypothetical guy opposed a zoning change, but turned people off because they didn't like him, would dubious public policy have been made because he didn't mind being obnoxious and, in fact, really relished his negative public persona?

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I have won two major elections in my life. The first was the election for president of the Student Council at Joan of Arc Junior High School in Manhattan.

This was a hard-fought battle with two kids from the IGC (Intellectually Gifted Class), whom I quite properly and dramatically trounced.

The second was when I showed up in Alford in the early '70s and was approached by "Boss" Gus Berkel to run for Selectman. He wanted to put me up against a town legend, a crusty old curmudgeon called William "Billy" Chapin who was a great guy and identified with the old guard that had ruled the town for years. I told Boss Berkel that there was no way that the natives would vote for me, but the Boss said all I had to do was to drop a letter in everyone's newspaper box asking for the vote and I would win.

I did. It was simple. People were ready for something new.

There are times for change. For example, in the past, it was commonly thought that a black man couldn't become governor of this commonwealth.

I said "Nonsense," in this very space, called it out as the racism it was, and we have a wonderful governor who is doing great work.

Now the nation is facing the same test, and I say the same thing. We have turned a corner. We must be ready to leave intolerance and racism behind to become the nation that will make us all proud. Even Hillary Clinton has been saying, "I can win better than he can." What do you think that means? Not a good thing.

I have long believed that we vote for people because we like and trust them, and for ideas because we trust the people who put them forth.

John McCain is politically tied to George Bush. But people like McCain, and he will do much better than the 29 percent popularity that Bush is looking at in his polls.

Bill Clinton was wildly popular because he could look people in the eye, and you really thought that he cared about you.

Hillary Clinton is popular in New York and, while people may have originally screamed, "Go back where you came from," that didn't last long. The thing that got her into the most trouble, as I recall, was her choice of baseball teams.

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In any case, a few words of advice for the rest of you transplants.

Do not be obnoxious. It will turn people off and you will lose arguments that you might not have lost otherwise. Of course, I want to reiterate that the story you have just heard was fictional and any resemblance to people living or dead is purely coincidental.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"I Publius: Center needs support from community", By Alan Chartock, Saturday, July 05, 2008, GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

Of all the important causes in the Berkshires, there is none more important than the work of the Elizabeth Freeman Center.

Imagine that you are a woman in a relationship with an abusive husband or boyfriend who regularly threatens you and beats you and your children. Imagine the fear and terror of staying with such a person because you have nobody to turn to, no place to hide.

Imagine a woman huddled with three kids by a pay phone, desperately trying to flee an ogre, out of his mind on drugs or a paranoid schizophrenic who would literally kill them if he caught them.

We are talking about broken bones, repeated rape, constant abusive threats.

We are talking about people who are locked in rooms and deprived of food or water, people who often consider suicide as the only method of escape.

These are the women who are helped by the Elizabeth Freeman Center and the reason why the bedrooms in the center have an almost 100 percent occupancy rate.

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We know a woman is battered somewhere in America every minute of every day. Even though people can't stay at the center for more than three months, the trained workers try to find a way out for the women and children there.

The reason why the address is never disclosed is obvious. Some of the people looking for the battered women there are thugs and murderers, but sometimes, if the truth be told, they are some of your middle-class neighbors who lead heinous second lives.

The work of the center is far more extensive than their primary occupation, protecting those who need help. They go into schools where kids are regularly abused and harassed by young thugs who think that it's OK to hang out in a particular hallway and abuse young women who walk by.

They go into classrooms where those who have witnessed violent behavior are primed to imitate what they have seen at home. They maintain a hot-line that is staffed by trained professionals, 24 hours a day.

It all costs money. Yes, there is — and there should be — some money from the state and federal government. But that money doesn't begin to do what needs to be done, and there is always more to do. The budget is well over $1 million.

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I think I have made my point. We have to support the work of the Elizabeth Freeman Center. No matter how busy we are, no matter what other charities we support, this cause is so compelling that it can't be allowed to fail. Remember, this is not a private family issue. It is a community issue.

It is no secret that I spend a great deal of time worrying about WAMC, so it was easy to say yes when the wonderful Liz Shaker called to ask Roselle and me to get involved.

We'll be hosting a party at our house at 51 Hollenbeck Ave. in Great Barrington to celebrate the work of the center. It's at 5 p.m. Friday, July 18, and Michael Ballon is doing the food.

There will be a special surprise guest. We're requesting $90 a person or $150 a couple. Some have already given a lot more. There will be a tent and music and food but, in the end, there is only one reason for helping out. We must support this great institution and keep it going.

Roselle and I want to see you there. If you want to come, drop your contribution in an envelope and send it to The Elizabeth Freeman Center, c/o Chartock 51 Hollenbeck Ave., Great Barrington, MA 01230.

I can't urge you strongly enough to get involved in this.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"Needless demonizing of mentally ill"
The Berkshire Eagle - Letters
Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I would like to commend Alan Chartock for lending his name, home and considerable clout to the Elizabeth Freeman Center and their upcoming party on July 18. It is indeed a worthy cause, and I hope to attend to add my support to this difficult and untenable situation.

However, I take great exception to Alan characterizing a domestic abuser as an ogre or "a paranoid schizophrenic who would literally kill them." (Eagle, July 5). You do not need to falsely and unjustly drag this much-maligned group of the mentally ill into the gutter to up the emotional ante for the Elizabeth Freeman Center. Doing so simply helps to prolong the myth that people with mental illness are criminally violent, when the truth is that people with mental illness are far more often the victims of crimes then the perpetrators.

The truth, which is even more frightening, is that domestic abusers can be found everywhere, in all social classes, professions and neighborhoods. Yes, some of them may suffer from mental illness, as does about 20 percent of the population. Even so, it is not likely to be from paranoid schizophrenia, a very serious and rare disorder that can cripple its sufferers.

People with mental illness are not ogres. They are people like you and me, people in our families and communities who also deserve our compassion and support. Mr. Chartock, when we have our gala to support families and friends of people with mental illness, I know we can count on your backing. In the meantime, please be careful of what you say. Don't demonize people with mental illness to highlight the needs of abused women. It cheapens their cause and yours.

MOLLY BOXER
Richmond, Massachusetts
The writer is president of the Board of the National Alliance for Mental Illness in Berkshire County.

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"There is still more we can do"
By Alan Chartock, Saturday, July 19, 2008
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

You may not know it, but there are a lot of committed people in our area who genuinely care about other people, especially those desperately in need.

Let's see, here are a few examples. We have, in no particular order, the People's Pantry of South County, Volunteers in Medicine, the Guthrie Center, the Breaking Bread Kitchen, the Old Parish Church Pantry, Berkshire Grown, The Taconic Foundation and many more throughout Berkshire County.

The Guthrie Center serves meals to those most in need every Wednesday, and the folks at Breaking Bread Kitchen, supported by volunteer groups, prepare meals every Thursday. They in turn are supported by Kripalu, the Berkshire Co-op and the Berkshire Mountain Bakery.

The Berkshire Bounty collects food and delivers it to the People's Pantry and to Community Action and the Claire Teague Senior Center.

Twice a year, the United States Postal Service distributes the canned goods you donate to various food pantries.

One thing is clear: Each person involved cares about their fellow human beings. Some are motivated by religious conviction, some just because they think it is the right thing to do. Some don't even want others to know that they are doing good deeds.

The important thing is they are all helping.

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The level of respect and cooperation between the groups is remarkable.

They talk each other up and they are supportive of their different, and in some cases, overlapping missions. When one group is in trouble, the others try to help.

The People's Pantry of South County is looking for a new home and they haven't found one yet.

This truly selfless institution is run by a substantial group of dedicated volunteers who really care about those less fortunate. The Pantry needs money to support their important work.

Hundreds of people have received food (they don't prepare food, they give it away) and sustenance from this band of good people who have helped the too often hidden poor in our midst. Last year, they gave away enough food to prepare almost 30,000 separate meals.

Here in the Berkshires, we have what seems like hundreds of galas to support our wonderful and necessary cultural institutions.

If all of those who regularly attend these functions were to earmark just a few percent of their charitable contributions to organizations like the People's Pantry or Volunteers in Medicine, they would all be in great shape.

In some cases, if those in need can't get food for their families they risk all kinds of disastrous health outcomes.

The People's Pantry was formerly housed at St. Peter's and later at the old Bryant School in Great Barrington (a tip of the hat to Tony Blair who arranged that).

Unfortunately, their former homes are no longer available. Their present space in the Searles complex will be in development for years to come.

Space in downtown Great Barrington, which is handicap accessible, is in high demand. The group needs about 800 square feet of secure space, but it just doesn't seem to be there.

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Board President Carol Purcell has been doing everything she can, but time is now the enemy. The walls are closing in and the volunteers at the Pantry are talking to everyone. If you know someone who can help, it would be great if you could beat the bushes and get back to Carol at (413) 528-3496.

This is a time we can really make a difference by thinking about all of those who really need our help.

With the coming Berkshire winter and fuel costs through the roof, we have a moral obligation to do what's right.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"Berkshire County's unsung heroes"
The Berkshire Eagle - Letters
Friday, July 25, 2008

In his column of Saturday, July 19, Alan Chartock lauds the work of many of Berkshire County's finest health and human services agencies, including Volunteers in Medicine, for which we are, of course, grateful. In so doing, he makes a crucial point upon which I would like to expand briefly.

"Here in the Berkshires," he says, "we have what seems like hundreds of galas to support our wonderful and necessary cultural institutions. If all those who regularly attend these functions were to earmark just a few percent of their charitable contributions (for health and human service) organizations, they would all be in great shape." It is certainly the cultural organizations that drive our tourist economy and make the Berkshires a destination for weekenders, second home owners and retirees, as well as the local population, and they are very deserving of our support. The many millions of dollars that they raise each year get plowed back into our economy in the form of hotel rooms, restaurants, construction and landscaping jobs, retail sales, and so on.

However, it is the people who clean the rooms, wash the dishes, mow the lawns, carry the lumber and stock the shelves that are also vital to making the Berkshires the wonderful place that it has become to visit, vacation or reside. These hard-working, low income people deserve your support as much as the wonderful cultural institutions that could not function without their help.

Human service organizations, some of which, like ours, take no government money and depend entirely upon private contributions, need your support as much as those who provide for your enrichment.

ARTHUR M. PEISNER
Great Barrington, Massachusetts
The writer is chairman, Volunteers in Medicine - Berkshires.

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"I Publius: The old game is up at last"
By Alan Chartock, Weekly Political Columnist, The Berkshire Eagle (Online)
Saturday, October 04, 2008, GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

Wow! I've been alive for 67 years and politics has never been more interesting or more crazy. It's enough to bring on night sweats for any of us.

The presidential election seems to be heading in Sen. Barack Obama's direction. I suspect that his ascendancy can't be divorced from the economic crisis in which we Americans find ourselves. If Obama had been running against Sen. John McCain in any other time, I'm going to guess he would have had no chance. This is a country with too much blatant racism and too much know-nothingness. But now some of the people who have in the past behaved like sheep realize that George Bush and his friends have led us to the slaughterhouse, both literally and figuratively. We can only hope that it isn't too late.

The usual political decisiveness and rhetoric just won't work any more. The curtain has been flung open and we see the incredibly greedy people and their machinations in full view. Instead of Americans being suckered in by Karl Rove-esque divide and conquer wedge issues, like whether gays should marry or women should have a right to control their own bodies, Americans, their parents and their kids are looking at their pensions, Social Security and retirement income. The old game is up.

We just don't have time for the usual nonsense. Our economy has been led by a few greedy, venal men into virtual ruin. In order to understand what's happening, you have to look at the very structure of American economics. The reason why we are saving those who have led us into this ruinous position is that Wall Street seems to have left us few options. The people I trust the most in this country, Obama and "Ted" Kennedy to name a couple, are telling us that we have to save ourselves with this terrible bailout or we will see a repeat of folks selling apples on the streets.

We know that we have been feeding the greedy and, more and more, they are coming to look like overblown ticks that have just exploded. There certainly were economists who warned us this was coming, but we didn't listen. It's just like that time before the great crash of '29 when everyone was buying on margin (go read your history books).

I don't think the American people should be blamed for the greed of those on Wall Street and neither do the American people who, for once in their lives, have gotten to their feet, reached out to their representatives and said, "No, you don't! You do not reward those who have led us into this."

We come out of this with the sure knowledge that George Bush and his cronies are responsible. It was their calculated sucking dry of the system, with a Justice Department that never met a monopoly it didn't like and their anti-regulatory bias that has led us to where we are.

I recently interviewed a Republican Congressional candidate from the Utica, N.Y., area who told me that he sure wasn't inviting George Bush into his district. No wonder.



These are serious times that demand creative answers and thoughtful leadership. John McCain's pick for vice president, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, is a win for partisan politics. She was picked to energize the conservative base but she is frightening in her lack of knowledge.

Forget about the thought of her being a heartbeat away from the presidency, just the fact that she has come this far is three strikes against McCain.

As I write this, Obama is eight points ahead. That alone tells you too much about the American people. Considering what we have been led into, it ought to be 50 points.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"Obama win: Investment of a lifetime"
By Alan Chartock
The Berkshire Eagle, Weekly Political Column, Saturday, November 08, 2008
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

I don't think I've ever, in my 67 years, seen an election with more passion invested in it than this one.

It took a long time. For me, it is as simple as a group of citizens taking back a country. I know that many of you feel the same way. The wedge issues like race, gay marriage and choice didn't work. The war has ceased to be a major issue. It turns out that three major factors led to Barack Obama's victory.

The country had gone to hell in a hand basket. The two major things that make up the American safety net — people's homes and their retirement — were threatened. These are things Americans will fight for.

For years I've been telling my students that the one thing that would bring Americans into the streets was the threat of losing their homes. The greed and avarice of the banking-Wall Street crowd threatened that and George W. Bush and his cronies let it happen. This was not what I would think the words "compassionate conservatism" mean.

People work and scrape and save for years so that they can retire some day and not have to look over their shoulders. Now, in a blink of an eye, irresponsible fiscal decisions decimated their retirement savings.

Remember, this was the same Bush administration that was so eager to invest the Social Security funds. Can you imagine if they had gotten away with that? I swear it would have been hard for them to have escaped tar and feathers (metaphorically). There is a whole group of people in this country who will have to postpone their retirement dreams. Some may never be able to retire. Some will lose their homes. Voters perceived a John McCain victory would mean more of the same. Obama promised a change. One of the most interesting things the exit polling revealed was that those who had gone to college were those most likely to vote for Obama.

John McCain ran a whole campaign organized around the fact that Barack Obama would be likely to raise the taxes of those who earned the most. It was a thinly veiled attempt to suggest that Obama was a communist. They kept yelling it again and again, "Redistribution of wealth." I don't want to beat a dead horse and suggest that it was the Bushies and their allies like McCain who were the actual redistributors of wealth by rewarding those who had the most with tax cuts and bailing out the big banks and Wall Street firms with the American people's money. The people with college educations, those who are most likely to pay the higher taxes, just weren't falling for it. Maybe a liberal arts education is worth the money.

But you know what really sealed it for Obama? Yes, you're right. It was Obama. If you haven't seen Oliver Stone's "W." yet, I advise you to do so. Even portrayed charitably, Bush comes off as a dope. Obama, on the other hand, is just amazing. He is at the other end of the spectrum. If you've seen him speak, you know that few others have his ability to look out into an audience and to capture each and every person. Jesse Jackson (the elder) who had not helped Barack Obama but rather undermined him, was standing in the crowd at Grant Park with tears streaming down his face. He wasn't alone. Obama has the ability to help us get in touch with that part of us that is the best.

The question now is what Obama will do as president. Governing is different than campaigning. Follow-through is now the most important thing.

Obama has a Senate that is almost filibuster-proof. He has an expanded Democratic House of Representatives. The second greatest man from Illinois has about 1,000 days to make a difference. We are talking about developing some kind of national health care plan; putting in place an effective oversight system to preside over our economic mess; turning America green; getting us off of oil and on to alternative energy; making our schools the best they can be; and creating a national service corps that will help our kids pay for college.

The new administration has to do it fast or the rats — people like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and that disgusting Michael Savage — will start spewing their vitriol all over again. It seems to me that a man who can run the kind of campaign Obama did has it in him to make it all happen. It is imperative that the same passion people used to elect him now gets harnessed into his efforts to turn the country around.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"The cycle of learning continues"
By Alan Chartock
The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, Saturday, November 15, 2008
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

Tuesday, November 4th was some day in the Chartock house. All of Roselle Chartock's aspirations and hopes for America were met as Barack Obama became the president-elect and, in far off Princeton, N.J. another event was taking place.

Little Sarah Chartock, who came home from Fairview Hospital in a pink blanket about 31 years ago, became Dr. Sarah Chartock as she successfully defended her doctoral dissertation dealing with three Latin American countries and how they treated their indigenous populations. She had worked her butt off, a single woman living in Ecuador, Guatemala and Peru, interviewing policy makers in Spanish, poring over documents in a foreign language all the while staying in touch with her supportive but demanding Princeton professors, Deborah Yashar and Evan Lieberman.

To know Sarah is to understand what a true scholar is. Even as a graduate student who was teaching and taking classes at on of the nation's most prestigious universities, she took her time, moaned and groaned under the weight of all she was doing and even managed to give two highly regarded presentations at the American Political Science Association's major meetings. That was something that her political scientist father never managed to achieve.

Sarah the human being made a lot of friends growing up in Great Barrington. Meredith and Jenn Mazur and Emily Kern remain among her best friends today. She has always had that ability. She is now assistant professor (tenure track) at The College of New Jersey, the most selective in the New Jersey higher education system.

I don't think it's any secret that a few of her professors might have preferred that one of their best students take a job involving more research than teaching undergraduates, but to understand her decision, you have to know that Sarah really cares about communicating with young people. Once again she had the courage of her convictions and did what she wanted to do. Her professors, knowing Sarah, understood that she would continue to do the two things she really loves — teaching and writing on serious subjects.

There are choices to be made by parents. Right now, Barack Obama has to decide where to send his young children to school in Washington. Some believe his kids should go to public schools while others argue for good reason that his two daughters should go to private schools. The Chartocks had a similar decision to make right here in Berkshire County. Frankly, the outcome was determined in part by the fact that we never had a lot of money.

When Sarah and Jonas were kids, I can remember going to the bank to make sure we actually had the $200 in our checking account that we thought we had. So the kids went to public schools and are we ever lucky they did. They attended schools in the Southern Berkshire district when we lived in Alford, and they graduated from the schools serving Great Barrington. They had wonderful teachers in both places. These are people to whom we owe a great debt of gratitude.

At Monument Mountain, Sarah had teachers who instilled in her a love of learning and scholarship that has served her well in all she has done. She was salutatorian at her high school and later maintained an A average at both Cornell and Princeton.

The guidance of these wonderful men and women stayed with her during her time at Teach for America when she worked with Dominican kids in New York. Her high school teachers with names like Flynn, Beacco and Gray, among many others, are really why we are so lucky to be living here.

When I see people who raise an eyebrow and say, "Your kids went to public schools?" I tell them about Sarah and what she's been doing and about Jonas who went to minor-league institutions like Cornell and Harvard and the University of Texas where he is working on his doctorate as while holding down one hell of a major job running the Charter School Institute of SUNY.

I tried reading this story to Sarah to check my facts but I found that I couldn't do it. My eyes kept tearing up. Must be allergies. Maybe it's pride. Maybe it's gratitude to her mother and her teachers and most of all to her for all that she has become.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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Re: I really enjoyed reading this column about a father proud of his grown children...

Below, please find a column written by Alan Chartock regarding his grown children, especially his grown and accomplished daughter, Sarah. I really enjoyed reading his column where he is proud of his grown children and what they have accomplished in their lives. Sarah, like her dad (& mom, & brother), brings tears to my own eyes because of their solid commitment to Human Rights for ALL Peoples! Like Alan, Human Rights is my strongest belief in politics -- locally, state, nationally and globally. I believe we should all stand up for Human Rights.

I am a mentally disabled 33 year old adult with many accomplishments of my own, but there have been many people who have abused me for my clinical limitations. Instead of standing for Human Rights, they mistreat me. My two biggest examples are (a) Denis E Guyer, who coldly stated to people that I belong in a psychiatric institutions after he told people that all I did was "stalk a Jewish woman from Otis", and (b) Manchester, NH, Police Officer John Cunningham who illegally used multiple methods of force against me during my false arrest, and in the face of one of my witnesses, Police Officer John Cunningham screamed at the lady witness, who worked in the mental health field for over 2 decades: "I DO NOT CARE IF HE IS DISABLED!"

Neither Denis E Guyer, nor Police Officer John Cunningham, have apologized to me or my family for their actions, nor have they been brought to justice for their actions.

Police Officer John Cunningham has charged me with 7 alleged crimes, including 2 felonies and 5 misdemeanors. I have spoken to my then-Public Defenders, my new Attorney, an aide at NH Governor John Lynch's Office, an Investigator named "Dick Tracey" at the NH Attorney General's Office, at open mic at the Board of Mayor & Aldermen meetings, to community members in my new hometown (Manchester NH) of nearly 4 years, and the like, but it is I, not Police Officer John Cunningham, who is facing a trial by jury on February 17, 2009. Before my trial may begin, I have a Competency Hearing where the Judge will have to determine if I am able to stand trial based on my mental disabilities. I believe I am competent to stand trial, and that I am INNOCENT of these FALSE charges by a LYING, THUGGISH, ABUSIVE, ILLEGAL USES of FORCE, & DISCRIMINATORY local police officer!

By the State of New Hampshire and the US Government allowing this travesty of justice to move forward, my state and national government is violating all of my legal, civil, and human rights!

We like to talk about China, Iran, and many other oppressive regimes, but we fall silent when it comes to our own government!

During the Spring of 1998, then-State Senator Andrea F Nuciforo II tried to send me to Berkshire Sheriff Carmen C Massimiano II's county jail where I would have been abused, while at the same time "Luciforo" tried to ruin my dad's career in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, by filing multiple false "ethics" complaints against him to both a Judge in Boston and also the Ethics Commission in Boston. Fortunately, "Luciforo" failed in his mission to destroy my family in his PERSECUTIONS of my dad and I.

On July 23, 2005, Denis E Guyer spread his hate-filled rumors against me as he acted as one of "Luciforo's" many henchmen bullies of me. In fact, Guyer's rumor about the "Jewish woman from Otis" was also one of "Luciforo's" entrapments of me during and after the summer of 1996. The woman's father worked as an environmental science professor at Berkshire Community College, and guess who ran BCC? You got it, "Luciforo's" Aunt, who was a former Mayor of Pittsfield, and Uncle, who was a former state representative. Insidious, indeed.

Of course, "Luciforo" went on to break the state's ethics laws himself by serving as a private corporate attorney for a Boston Law Firm representing the area's big banks and INSURANCE companies, while at the same time he chaired the very legislative committees on Beacon Hill that regulated these same companies. After I provided the state with this information, "Luciforo" was forced to step down from his State Senate post that his late-dad also once held, and then he ("Luciforo") went on to strong-arm 2 women candidates out of a state government "election" for Pittsfield Registry of Deeds in 2006. The Boston Globe then ran an excellent news article explaining this corruption and sinecure by Andrea Nuciforo II.

While I am facing the PERSECUTION of my lifetime about 3 months from now, and my family was driven out of "Luciforo's" Pittsfield a decade ago, I am happy there are good people like Alan Chartock and his wonderful family who would and do stand up for someone like me because of their strongest of commitments to Human Rights for All Peoples! I am happy that Alan's daughter, Sarah, achieved success in her life. I am happy that Alan is a good man who is proud of his family. I really enjoyed reading his column today. I know that Sarah will continue her dad's commitment to Human Rights for ALL Peoples!

Sincerely,
Jonathan A. Melle

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"Making the case for Caroline Kennedy"
By Alan Chartock
The Berkshire Eagle Online, Op-Ed/Weekly Column, Saturday, January 03, 2009
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

I have certainly taken my share abuse for having been one of the first to suggest that Caroline Kennedy would be the perfect person for New York Gov. David Paterson to name to the Senate seat now held by Hillary Clinton.

People have come up with lots of reasons for disagreeing with me: The appointment would be too nepotistic; she is not well spoken and says "you know" too much; she hasn't spent enough time in upstate New York; she didn't vote in some elections; she hasn't given enough money to the Democratic Party; she doesn't have the necessary work ethic to do the job; she is too close to Mayor Bloomberg, and on and on.

For his part, David Paterson, doesn't seem to want her. The word is going out all over the place that others have been "invited" to interview for the position and some of them are already being vetted for their finances. The New York tabloids have been unduly cruel to Caroline. Now Paterson is rumored to be going for the "seat warmer" option.

Respectfully, I think David Paterson would be dumb not to appoint Kennedy. Here's my reasoning: She is fabulously wealthy. Some guesstimates have her in the $500 million range. She owns a considerable chunk of Martha's Vineyard beach front, and she is one of the most popular New Yorkers.

So let's just say that you were David Paterson and had to run for your own term in 2010. Wouldn't you want to run with someone who would attract a lot of voters who wanted a chance to touch a piece of history? Wouldn't you want to be the running mate of the woman whose father was a martyred president, whose uncle was a martyred Senator from New York and whose other uncle just may be the most admired man in the United States Senate? She clearly would bring both money and voters to the electoral process.

Why, then, would Paterson not like her? It's not as if he didn't get where he is partially by his own pedigree. There must be a reason but I'll be damned if I know what it is. Some think that he is keeping the option of his own ascendancy to the Senate open.

One main player to take into account is Sen. Chuck Schumer. Even though Chuck has said that he is staying out of this, rumors abound that he doesn't want to be eclipsed by the new senator the way he was by Hillary Clinton.

On the other hand, I could understand that if Andrew Cuomo was selected, he might think he'd have a big competitor for the Washington limelight and that wouldn't be pretty. Both guys are fairly competitive. But Caroline could be a protégé. She could help him continue to get other Democrats elected. Let's face it, the woman has celebrity.

She clearly helped put Barack Obama over the top and is owed, big time. Surely Paterson knows of her influence in the White House at a time when New York is going to need every bit of juice it can get.

The woman is hardly stupid. Look at the blood lines and at her law degree from Columbia and compare her to some of the lightweights in Congress, like Gary Ackerman, who have been trying to bring her down.

And, of course, let's remember that the Democrats in the Congress would love having her there. Do you really think that any senator — I mean any senator — would not take Caroline's phone calls? Do you really think that she wouldn't hire the best staff that money can buy just as her Uncle Bobby and father John did when they were in the Senate? Do you really think that the best and the brightest minds in America wouldn't leave their teaching posts at Harvard, Yale and Hunter to staff her office and give her the best advice possible?

Is there anyone who has any doubt about where she would stand on the important political issues like American military adventurism or social justice, or health care?

All I know is that she will certainly be where I am. She will be an incredibly important voice in this country. If Paterson doesn't see the sense in appointing her, I certainly hope she has the guts to do what her father and her uncles did — run for the office on her own.

Nope, if Paterson blows it, it will be the biggest mistake of his political life.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"I Publius: New game of follow the leader"
By Alan Chartock, Columnist, The Berkshire Eagle, Saturday, January 17, 2009
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

We have come a long way together as we watch a second great man from Illinois prepare to become president of the United States. He will have a great deal to do in his inaugural address. He will have to provide hope and comfort to a country in dire need of both and at the same time, he must help us all to move ahead.

We all know that Abe Lincoln was a superb wordsmith. His speeches are among the most important ever heard in this country. Now it is up to Barack Obama who, like Lincoln, is coolness under fire personified. He is faced with extraordinary problems that include one of the worst financial crises in the history of this country, to say nothing of a foreign policy that has gained us contempt from the rest of the world and landed us right up there on the all-time list of major foul-ups.

In a very short time, the president-elect has pulled together a first-rate cabinet. He has walked a fine line between setting new policy and not treading on the prerogatives of the outgoing president. He has made it clear that the tent is large and everyone is welcome. He insists that we are going forward and not looking back, and he has already angered some in his own winning electoral coalition, the people who are furious that the opening invocation will be delivered by a preacher with anti-gay rights positions. He won't spend his precious time punishing George Bush for his horrible mistakes. He wants to build coalitions and put this country back to work. He has eaten lunch with some of the most important conservative writers in the country — serious intellectuals like George Will and David Brooks.

Don't get me wrong — I certainly believe that George Bush is literally getting away with murder. We are talking Abu Ghraib; Guantanamo; torture; a war based on a lie; and the attempted decimation of the United States Constitution, our civil rights and liberties. Unlike the Bush-Cheney gang who saw conflict as the right path, the brilliant Harvard-trained Obama has taken the reconciliation path and he is right to do so. Behind him is the wisdom of Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King and Lincoln. It costs him nothing to have lunch with some conservative writers with immense media power or to invite a speech from an anti-gay rights minister. I'd bet the ranch that his own speech makes it clear that he rejects the thinking of Pastor Rick Warren but Warren will, on some level, always be in Obama's debt. Keep building bridges; keep building coalitions; keep remembering how to get things done.

In the end, our politics will never again be the same. With this one election, we have brought hope back to the American people. We are proud of ourselves. We have finally put a major stake through the heart of racism in this country. We haven't killed it, but we have done something so special that our hearts are singing. Of course, we wish that could be enough but the Bush legacy of economic ruin has been visited upon us all. A few months ago, many of us knew about the bad news but couldn't actually put a face on it. Now it touches us all. People we love are out of work. Restaurants are finding fewer patrons. Car dealerships are out of business. Our biggest employers are having trouble and laying people off. Our friends struggle to pay for heating oil and put food on the table.

So there will be a lot riding on him when Barack Obama rises to take the oath and deliver his inaugural address. I am so proud of the man that I could bust. He is amazingly, stunningly smart and, unless I am really off-base, he is a good person. He will need a lot of help. For those who want to go the way of getting even and punishing their enemies, forget about it. History will take care of George Bush. Let's follow the leader here. Let's get every American some health care. Let's give peace a chance. Let us rejoice in what we have done as a country and celebrate the inauguration of a truly great man. I am proud of all of us.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"I Publius: Gathering a few stray thoughts"
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle
Saturday, January 24, 2009
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

We are hearing that Gov. David Paterson called Caroline Kennedy to tell her that she was his choice to be Senator and she said something like, "Oh well, thanks, but nevermind."

Apparently, there was reference to personal problems. We do know that one of these was the illness of our Senator Ted Kennedy but certainly she knew all about his problems when she got into it in the first place.

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Closer to home, Elizabeth Aspenlieder's performance in "Bad Dates" is superb. While some might describe this as a "woman's play," I loved it. You know, there really are differences in the ways in which men and women think and I was fascinated by what women go through as they make their romantic way in the world.

As a kid I always thought that women had the upper hand. True, in the old days they had to be asked out by the guy, but today it's all different. I won't give the plot away other than to say that we watch our heroine going through what we might describe as "bad dates" and she find out that all that glitters is not gold. That is the message of the play.

Perhaps the author of the play, Theresa Rebeck, is now hard at work at her keyboard creating a parallel work on online matches and relationships, with all their rules and conventions.

Much of this stuff is nothing more than what we had to go through back in the day but with a technological bent and what the social scientists might call a much higher "n" (number) available.

Aspenlieder is a wonderful actress and the director, Adrianne Krstansky, was a great collaborator. I love that Shakespeare and Company can do some of these more modern works.

When you think about it, it's not all that different from Shakespeare — love and jealousy and betrayal and like that.

The Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre is a great venue and I don't think there's a bad seat in the house unless a giant is sitting in front of you.

As you may know, I have long advanced the idea that seating in movies and plays should be arranged like it is in elementary school, by height. Big people should have to sit in the last rows.

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The picture of Dick Cheney attending the inauguration in a wheelchair was pretty frightening. It called to mind up images ranging from Dickens characters to Dr. Strangelove.

Many of us have now figured out that poor Bush was in so far over his head that he didn't know whether to look up or down.

Cheney, on the other hand, is pretty much regarded by the people I hang with to be the personification of evil. Some of you who have actually gotten this far will disagree. You will argue that Bush is a really bad guy and that he was at the head of the line.

No question that some terrible things happened to this country on his watch. No question that his philosophy and his misguided "compassionate conservatism" led us to where we are.

On the other hand, and of course he gets no credit for this, had he not been as bad a President as he was it is doubtful that we would have rejected him and his ideas so forcefully and ended up with a President named Barack Obama.

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When you pick up this newspaper, do you ever think about the poor wretches who get arrested for killing, robbing, maiming, or selling drugs? I mean, who are they? How did they get that way? What forces made them what they are and led us to a situation where the only way we can deal with them is to lock them in a jail cell?

Believe me, when they crack someone's head open, they should be in jail. However, every time we put someone away, the society, its schools and its institutions have failed.

Just who are they?
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"I Publius: Eyeing taxes on real drugs: Salt, sugar"
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, Saturday, January 31, 2009
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

The last time I looked, heart disease was still the number one killer. Next in line are the various cancers and the havoc they wreak.

We are a free society, but we do have rules. We have decided as a group that some drugs are very, very bad, and we incarcerate the people who sell them. Heroin is a terrible drug. Some of the new designer drugs can screw up a person for life. But by no means are these drugs the greatest killers in our society. In fact, I think a case can be made that two of the items on many people's dining room tables take far more lives than these drugs. They are sugar and salt. That's right, I said sugar and salt.

New York City Health Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden is trying to get food producers and consumers to stop using salt. He is absolutely right. Salt causes high blood pressure and high blood pressure can cause stroke and heart attacks. Ipso facto, we have to wean ourselves off salt. It's that simple. So, is salt as addictive as certain other white powders? I know some people who cannot put anything in their mouths if they haven't added salt. Do you have any of them in your house? I'll bet you do. Do you try to protect them?

So what can you do about all of this? I do a great deal of the cooking in my house. I simply do not add salt to anything. When guests come, I tell them I don't cook with salt and they are free to add it if they wish.

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When I shop, I carefully examine the labels and look for the ones that say "no salt added." Things like canned tomatoes are filled with sodium, so I buy cans with the "no salt added" designation. This is why it is always wise to cook with fresh ingredients because canned goods are, for the most part, loaded with sodium. You may think this is all a lot of hooey, so here is my personal testimony.

About 10 years ago, I went to my cardiologist and he was concerned that my blood pressure numbers were going up. He asked me all the right questions about exercise, and I proudly gave him all the right answers. He looked at me and suggested I cut salt from my diet. If that didn't work, he said, we'd have to proceed to the medications that people take for high blood pressure. I did what he told me and became a bit of a fanatic on the matter. My blood pressure came screaming down to below average. It was almost instantaneous.

Up in Albany, New York State Health Commissioner Richard Daines has taken on sugar consumption. We live in an overweight, obese society where diabetes and heart disease are on the rise. Daines wants to tax sodas with sugar in them. Obviously, he is trying to help his governor balance the budget. But at the same time, he is doing an incredibly important thing. We know that the as we raise taxes, consumption drops. Just look at cigarettes.

Like it or not, sugar is just as dangerous. Of course, this is bad news for all the candy stores and all the wonderful bakeries and all the chocolate chip cookie makers (my personal downfall), but it is what it is. The calories in sugar are empty and wasteful, and we have become addicted to the stuff. Although it is a matter of personal choice for all of us adults, we do have to protect our kids.

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I was passing a candy store the other day, just like the ones I used to frequent as a kid. A father was bringing his young children into the place. Unluckily for our sugar-loving children, we now know a lot more about what ails us than we did 64 years ago when I was a tiny tot. I now imagine a skull and crossbones over sugar products. I don't eat ice cream, even though I love the stuff. Lemonade with sugar is out. When I make chicken wings at home, Roselle insists that I put some of that great barbecue sauce over hers. I eat mine straight, as permitted on Atkins.

Gandhi led a march in India when the British tried to tax salt. I don't think they were doing it to help the Indians but maybe, as it turns out, they were doing the right thing for their health. What do you think?
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"I Publius: Untangling the detainees mess"
By Alan Chartock, The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, Saturday, February 07, 2009
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

President Barack Obama has his hands full. How would you like to be the one figuring out how to close Guantanamo and what to do with the prisoners who are incarcerated there?

If that prison is closed, what's going to happen to the inmates? You have to send them somewhere. One option is our secure prisons. The problem is that though some of these prisoners have never been proven guilty of anything, we know that they are terrible and dangerous people. If you were a heinous killer and the state arrested you but didn't have sufficient proof to convict you, you would certainly be released.

The Cheney bunch created a real problem when they incarcerated these people and stripped them of their rights. Since this is a nation of laws, the courts have grudgingly granted them some rights. Even what were thought to be congressionally sanctioned kangaroo courts have ended up mitigating or exonerating some of them.

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Now that the discussion has gone forward, Cheney is sending political bombs Obama's way. The former vice president, one of the men who started it all and who brought what was a nation of laws into outlaw status, is saying that if any of the people his administration imprisoned were to be released, they would kill again. Some of the countries we grabbed these folks from won't take them back or, if they do take them back, have said they would execute them. The Cheney/Bush mess has such substantial tentacles that Obama will be vilified no matter what he does.

If he sends these people to federal prisons where the only thing they will hear is the sound of flushing toilets, they still have rights. Sooner or later, the courts, even the Bush courts, are going to have to say, "Either try them under our laws or free them." Cheney and company will be yelling that if we send them to a maximum security prison, they will kill again. If you lived in Colorado and these folks were coming to a secure prison in your area, would you be happy? This is how political hysteria gets started.

If we release them to their home countries, Cheney will still yell that they will kill again. He may be right.

This whole outlaw approach by the outlaw administration reminds me of George Bush's "signing statements." He made the point that he was signing bills passed by Congress but he didn't have to obey them. This is where our republican form of government is most endangered. This is the Nixonian doctrine that Presidents are above the law. You can see this arrogance throughout history when sooner or later, democratic models turned into dictatorships.

To fully understand it, picture yourself or your children in the position of Kafka's Joseph K who, "without having done anything wrong was arrested one fine morning." That's the way it is done in dictatorships ranging from Saudi Arabia to Cuba. They arrest you, throw you in jail and let you rot there. Forget habeas corpus (an order to produce the body) which is fundamental to our legal system.

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Things are further complicated by the fact that prisoners were tortured. You've heard of the fruit of the poisonous tree? Right now, evidence illegally obtained cannot be used in court. That's the questionable fruit. But the Supreme Court stands poised to overturn this rule, one of our fundamental protections. First they do it the really bad guys and then they do it to their political enemies. Then it could be you.

That is where the disconnect comes in. It's all well and good when there's some amorphous bad guy involved. But then we hear stories of all those innocent people who rotted in prisons for years, only to be exonerated years later. Civil liberty is everyone's business. The founding fathers knew that — that's why we have the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution.

What would you do if you were Barack Obama? These are hard decisions and Obama has to consider the fact that we are still a nation on "alert," where a terrorist act could still happen. He knows that people's security comes first. I have my hopes set on the man and as always, I am happy that he is smarter than I am. I'm happier that I'm not him.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"I Publius: Great work at the Rockwell Museum"
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, Saturday, February 14, 2009
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

The Rockwell's Laurie Norton Moffatt is a genius. She'll hate this column because she prefers to operate under the radar, unlike so many others who crave publicity.

Just read the stuff that the Norman Rockwell Museum puts out. You have to look long and hard to find Laurie's name. This is a woman who doesn't take unnecessary chances. She is creative, but she doesn't look for trouble.

She is a great people manager and gives credit to everyone around her. She hires smart staff and gives them the opportunity to do their collective and individual things and when they disappoint, they are gone. I've seen it happen.

The woman is as tough as she is beautiful. She has a brilliant mind and she's always thinking. I've never seen her flustered. In some ways, she reminds me of national hero "Sully" Sullenberger, who himself could have been a creation of Norman Rockwell.

The woman is grace under pressure. Whether it is the traveling exhibits that continue to drive the price of Rockwells through the roof or the incredibly interesting exhibits like the current "Artists in Their Studios" or the launching of the first national research institute dedicated to illustration art or the reopening of Norman Rockwell's studio for all to see, it just never stops.

Of course, she doesn't do it all herself. The incredible Stephanie Plunkett, for example, is as good a deputy as one can find.

Her work on "Artists in Their Studios" is phenomenal. We get to see some of the most important artists in history in situ as they make their art. Plunkett is as nice as she is competent. She is the kind of person you just like. I don't know of anyone who feels differently about her. When she spoke the other night at the museum, we were hanging on her every word.

This is the 40th anniversary of the Rockwell Museum, from its inception in Stockbridge.

In addition to all the work around that celebration that she has to do, Laurie has the major responsibility of working with a dedicated board of directors as well as tracing where the surviving Rockwells are. These paintings are coveted around the world. In too many cases, we don't even know who has them.

One of the largest collectors in the world is Ross Perot, who just sold off a load of his Rockwells. With some of these paintings worth upward of $25 million, you had better believe that some afficionados of Americana, like certain Arab potentates, probably have them hanging outside what used to be called their harems. Once you know where they are, you can then develop strategies for getting them for the museum.

Of course, Rockwell can be recognized as a great American artist or he can fall victim to the stupid art critics who used to dismiss him as a simple illustrator. To me, Rockwell produced great art with incredible social relevance.

But let's just say that the phonies eventually get their way, and Rockwell is forgotten, and his work depreciates (which I don't think will happen).

I certainly believe that the launch of the new Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies is genius on Moffatt's part. Now, in addition to being the go-to location for all things Rockwell, the museum will become the first research center institute specializing in the field of illustration art, bringing scholars together to study not only Rockwell, but all of the illustrators who have had such a profound impact on the American experience. This has been a long time coming. The museum has been exhibiting other illustration art for years but now, scholars of all stripes will be attracted to the Stockbridge facility.

In order to actualize this, Rockwell will be looking for money to support the institute. Like Tanglewood, Chesterwood and Jacob's Pillow, the Rockwell is a part of what makes our Berkshires so special. If anyone has any money left, no place is more worthy than the Rockwell for big dollar — or even little dollar — donations. They are already making great progress, having raised $18 million of the $25 million they need to move forward.

Genius comes in many forms. There are maestros, teachers, sculptors, and artists. They all bring us something unique. Laurie Norton Moffatt is one of those people. There was a time I thought we might lose her to the Smithsonian or the Guggenheim, but now I think we may just have her until that time in the far distant future when she retires.

For that, I give thanks.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, "I Publius: Patience key in beating the recession", By Alan Chartock, Saturday, March 07, 2009

It doesn't really matter whether we are in a recession or a depression. As the old saw goes, if you are out of a job, it is a depression. If your business is close to bankruptcy or has folded, it is a depression. If you had planned to sell your house before you retired and live off the proceeds but have now found that your house won't sell or that it is worth a fraction of what you thought you could get for it, you are experiencing depression.

A lot of our not-for-profits are in the tank, while some among us seem to have weathered the storm better than others. The Mahaiwe Theatre just announced several new board members with very deep pockets. Maybe that's what has to happen in order to keep the programming coming at this gift to our community. Some boards have instituted absolute bottom line donations that have to be given by board members. Some, like WAMC public radio can come to its members for donations, and haven't had to do that.

Necessity is the mother of invention. Those who will survive this tsunami of an economic storm will be the ones who have thought up new ways to get through the tough times. We are all in this together and the more we band together to help one another, the better we can handle this, the toughest time since the Great Depression.

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Of course, we all have to make personal decisions.

Some people expect this economic mess to continue. If someone has a couple of hundred thousand dollars in their retirement account which is half of what it once was, the question arises as to whether they should put the money under the mattress and get it out of the market. In other words, save some of your money before it all goes down the toilet and you end up with nothing. This is a very appealing argument for many of us.

The smart guys who helped to get us into this mess have been telling us all along that things will turn around, big time, and those with money remaining in equity (stock) accounts will rise with the market.

The time frame, we have been told in the recent past, is a little more than a year before that happens. But no one seems to think that way right now. It turns out that a lot of what these so-called experts have said is proving to be not so smart. In fact, they are now covering their posteriors, saying that they have never seen anything like this before and all the rules are out the window.

Then there is the argument that if you take the money you have left out of the market and wait until things begin to turn around, you can get back in when things are on the up tick and you will have more to invest then if you'd left it there and were almost completely wiped out. Most of the big shots will tell you that we unqualified people will never be able to "time" the market. They will tell you that they have complicated and refined tools that will help them make these predictions. To which I say, "Oh yeah, then where were you when things turned upside down and the stock market was losing half its value? Did you forget to tell us?"

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I have this theory that GE is about as central to the American system of government-industry cooperation as you can get. If GE goes under, all those guys who have been hiding guns in their basements for the day that gangs go roving from house causing mayhem will turn out to have been right. Don't get me wrong — I don't like GE'S failure to do socially responsible things. I just think that if GE is stock is down in the dumps, now is the time to follow that old injunction about "buying low and selling high."

We all know people, including our parents, who told us that they could have been multi-millionaires if they had only bought stock when it was low. They tell us the same thing about the house down the road. No doubt about it — now is the time to buy. Those who do, prudently and with insight, will be on easy street. Those who don't will be left to mutter, "I had the chance and I blew it." When the market starts to rise, a lot of people will be taking that mattress money out and going in full bore.

For those who want my advice, wait until the market goes up a couple of days (big time) and get back in. Otherwise, the money you do have will be eaten by inflation, which will certainly happen when the market explosion occurs.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington, resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at the University at Albany.
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"I Publius: A dog's eye view of town affairs"
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle
Saturday, March 14, 2009

Yo, Pop," said Murray, the world's cutest dog who learned how to speak English at the Literacy Network of South Berkshire. "It's been a long time since we've just sat down and talked about things that are important to you."

"OK, Murray, what do you want to talk about?"

"Well, Pop, I just want to know about some of your crusades. For example, every time we walk through that underpass from 'the Hill' into Great Barrington, I feel you tense up on the other end of the leash. What's that about?"

"You know, Murray, you are a very observant dog. I really do love you and you are absolutely right. That little tunnel that goes under the railroad tracks into the town is a symbol of everything that is wrong in Great Barrington. It is filled with graffiti.

"One such message, taking up a good deal of the tunnel, is an epithet using a very bad word about the Great Barrington Police Department. We pay a lot of taxes in this town, something I do not regret. But it seems to me that if our police department and town manager can't figure out a way to put a stop to this kind of vandalism, it is proof positive that they are not up to the job.

"When you walk out of the tunnel on the town side, you have to face a lake or an ice skating rink where sidewalk should be. That's a testimonial to the fact that the town just can't figure out a way to correct a very dangerous situation. It's the job of government to solve problems. When you can't solve a problem and allow a tunnel to be filled with graffiti, that's a failure.

"You know, Murray, it isn't only there. This kind of thing goes on in other towns and villages. People will support government when it is there for them but when these symbols of the degradation of society occur, citizens will sit up and take notice."

"Anything else bothering you, Pop?" asked the sympathetic little Westie.

"Well, Murray, it really isn't fair for me to bother you with my troubles, but there is the matter of the library. The town of Great Barrington came up with millions of dollars to improve their library. I was really for it. That building has everything. The problem is that it's not open when working people and students can use it. I've been yelling about this for years.

"Most nights, the library is only open until 6 p.m. This magnificent building, which we all paid for, should be a community center for the town, bringing older and younger folks together. Students should study there, as I did at my local library when I was in high school. Some towns with lesser budgets than Great Barrington keep their libraries open for longer hours. People work during the day. Students go to school during the day. The Price Chopper and the Big Y are open at night. The library should be, too."

"I agree, Pop," said Murray. "Do you think that there will ever be a day when I can go to the library?"

Then Murray looked at me and said, "What do you think about Deval Patrick's plan for an increased gas tax?"

"Look, Murray, it's not a bad idea. The state desperately needs the money. They are going to have to get it one way or the other. They will either raise tolls on the Pike or figure something else out. This gas tax plan has some real advantages. The more people pay, the less they will drive. The less we drive, the better it is for our environment.

"There is another plan circulating now in which the government would attach devices to our cars and charge us by the mile for our driving. Seems like a fair plan, but I doubt that it will happen for reasons of privacy and price. You'd have to make it a nationwide plan so that the automobile companies could do it economically. I wouldn't want to be Deval Patrick but if I were, I would probably be doing exactly what he is doing."

"Well, Pops, what about those windmills? Are they a good idea?"

"Murray, you are truly the prince of all dogs. You have a mind like a razor. You cut right to the chase. Anything that can help reduce our independence from foreign oil is a fine idea — but, I have to say, I am disturbed by the fact that they were going to allow it off some of those tony islands where the rich and famous go and apparently, the idea was quickly squelched. That's not right, Murray. If we are going to do this, let's do it for everyone."

"Thanks, Pop. We ought to do this more often. Maybe next time we can talk about something closer to my heart, like all those people who let their dogs poop on our lawn. OK?"
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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www.topix.net/forum/source/berkshire-eagle/TC5F8809CKECBEGPV
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"I, Publius: Extending the leash for Searles"
By Alan Chartock, The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, Saturday, March 28, 2009

A recent letter writer to The Eagle openly admired Murray's writing style. You will remember that Murray, the cutest dog in the world, was taught how to read and write by the South Berkshire Literacy Center.

In fact, I met a guy the other day who asked me if he could talk to Murray, who was with me at the time.

"Of course," I said. "Just talk to him."

The guy took a look at the little Westie and just walked away. Maybe he thought he'd look like an idiot if someone saw him talking to the dog.

Is anyone old enough to remember that exact situation in the "Francis the Talking Mule" movies? Every time Donald O'Connor would talk to his mule, he'd be locked up and forced to weave baskets. On the other hand, you got to give a little to get a little. No give, no get.

"Murray," I said to the tyke, "Could you possibly write this week's column? I'm really busy.

"No problem, Pop," said the little white dog, licking me on the face.

So here it is. Remember, these are Murray's words as dictated to me. We're still working on his computer skills, so he talked and I typed.

Dear Sir,

Pops gave me your letter to The Eagle, complimenting me on my observations regarding getting rid of graffiti and extending the library hours.

I just want to make sure to add that we dogs need to be admitted to the library. I've heard that silverfish love to eat the bindings of library books, and I happen to love the rare and exotic taste of silverfish.

What, you're repulsed by the thought of eating silverfish? You, who eat cow and pig and sometimes (shudder) dog? Ah, well, not to worry. You did raise some questions you wanted me to answer and I am happy to do so.

In your letter to the paper, you asked Pops to ask "his dog" about what you called "The Searles School fiasco."

It is true that I am a dog, but you know my name, and I would have preferred you to use it. It's friendlier that way. Anyway, I take it you are referring to the potential sale of the Searles complex in downtown Great Barrington.

In the end, it came down to two finalists: Alan (don't tell him I call him that) calls them the Jane Iredale group and the Steve Picheny group. As you know, the Picheny group won and all hell broke loose. People chose up sides, and the dogs around town tell me that the Iredale proposal was backed by more of them than the few Basset Hounds who backed the Picheny proposal. There were rumors of skullduggery and names were called but, in the end, the Picheny group came out on top.

Then came the economic downturn; the Picheny group pulled out, and the town was left high and dry when the Iredale group said "Thanks but no thanks." In other words, things were so bad that nobody wanted to touch the thing.

Now, there have been new developments.

The town mother and fathers have expressed an interest in keeping the gymnasium as part of the town infrastructure. People like to play basketball there, and the gym is used for town elections. I think that's a splendid idea.

Also, we could condominium-ize the rest of the Searles complex and let people buy and rehab portions of the building. As for me, I'd like to see, an indoor dog facility as part of the plan.

Another idea would be to have the South Berkshire Community Center purchase the gym and use it as a natural extension of their excellent facility, which is running out of space. What success they've had! Our neighbor, Bob Norris, is the head of the place, and he has two dogs, Ellie and Hobbes, who give me all the gossip.

So, while it is true that things got a bit fouled up and the tax payers are caught with a lot of debt, there is no use crying over spilt milk.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"Anonymous writer makes accusations"
By Alan Chartock, The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, Saturday, April 0, 2009
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

I recently received an unsigned letter that made two points. The first was that an arrest has been made in the Great Barrington graffiti case I've been yelling about for what seems like forever. Graffiti, a sure sign of social decay, makes me nuts. I was assured that the arrest had absolutely nothing to do with my efforts to publicize the graffiti which has been around all winter. The message is quite crude and many little kids have to traverse the tunnel. Maybe my columns have had nothing to do with the arrest, although it has been my experience that public servants sometimes work a little more assiduously when challenged in print. In the long run, who cares who gets credit if wrongs are righted? The letter writer went on to suggest that I watch what happens to the perpetrator in our court system. It was predicted that the punishment would not amount to much.

The second hint from my anonymous correspondent was that certain police officers were padding their on-duty hours. The writer noted that those in charge of police operations had been so informed but nothing had happened. I picked up the phone and called head Selectman Bud Atwood who was, as always, quite responsive. Bud told me that he would look into it and called me back to say that when the town underwent its annual audit, he would make sure the auditors took a very careful look at those on the special "flag man" details for the town.

Maybe these allegations are made up, maybe not. If they are true, it is one more argument in favor of Gov. Deval Patrick's proposal that we should use civilian flag people rather than police officers to do this work as so many other states and localities do. You know, one of the silver linings for these economic downturns is that everything gets looked at. Hey, if you can save money, it's a good idea. This is one that makes a lot of sense to me. I wonder who my secret correspondent might be? Who would know that an as yet unpublicized arrest had been made? Who might know about a police officer or two who had been padding their hours? What do you think?

On another subject, Daniel Klein of the Berkshires has published a book, "The History of Now." It is about a small community called Grandview that looks an awful lot like Great Barrington. It has a restored movie theater and a rogue cop who hits on young girls, a Railroad Street and a thousand other familiar places and people. No mistake, this is Great Barrington! I loved this book and you will too. In fact, there are things in it that will make you LOL. Nothing is safe — not public radio, not the Great Barrington Rudolph Steiner School, certainly not the aforementioned cops, not the old money and country club crowd, and not the guidance counselor who embarrasses his own daughter. You will howl when Klein takes on the Steiner School parents when they refused to get their kids inoculated and the school came down with whooping cough. You will recognize the people you see every day on the street, in the coffee shop or at the diner.

I really loved the way the book traced the town's history from its very beginning to current times. From the people who got here in the covered wagons to our place on the Underground Railroad to our wonderful and sympathetic neighbors from Latin America, the stories are told with great empathy and passion. The story is multi-generational and I'm a sucker for that kind of book. The hero, Wendell deVries, and his immediate family are incredibly decent and you'll be sad when the book ends. You just want more.

Danny Klein has been incredibly prolific and successful as an author and has hit it big with a number of recent books. I think this is his best yet. If you want to read a story by a talented tale spinner, this is the one to get.

Finally, just a few words to urge our legislators and our governor to make some funds available for our Brien Center in Pittsfield. The center treats those who are challenged by various addictions. When budgets get cut, it is often those with the poorest and most at-risk constituencies who suffer the most. This place has to be preserved. I hope someone is listening.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"What will be coming to Cuba now?"
By Alan Chartock, Special to The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, Saturday, April 18, 2009
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

During the long presidential campaign, Barack Obama went on record about opening things up with Cuba. He was right to break free from the politics of failure, and doing so took some political courage.

American politicians have seen Cuba as a third rail for years. You touch it, you die. When Fidel Castro came to power, the influential Cuban middle and upper classes took a powder and many of them settled in Florida. Since Florida became a swing state in American presidential elections, no politician has wanted to mess with liberalizing relations with Cuba — this despite the fact that we have relations with far more oppressive countries.

Ever since John F. Kennedy's failed Bay of Pigs Invasion, travel restrictions have waxed and waned, but it is only now that we can see the potential for real change. While America has dithered on the Cuba question, other countries have invested money and resources. Make no mistake about the fact that the Castro boys are indeed dictators and they have a good deal of popular support. During the aforementioned Bay of Pigs debacle, the folks were supposed to rise up as one and reject the revolution. That didn't happen. Nor should we forget that former dictator Fulgencio Batista knew something about dictating. In those days, there was no health care or universal education, and there was a rather healthy mafia that did not exactly have the concerns of the people at heart.

So when the Castro brothers are gone, will there emerge a flourishing democracy that encompasses the best of both systems or will we go back to the bad old Batista days? Obama is moving slowly. By making it easier for Cubans to return to their island home and to send money to relatives, and by offering American telecommunications expertise to the Cubans, he is demonstrating a "third way" to the Cubans: "Look at what they, the Americans have, and look at what we could have."

In a way, Obama's brilliance is shown by the fact that he is appealing to the very group of Cubans that has previously supported Republicans. In permitting them to visit and send money home, he is addressing two concerns that run right to the Cuban-Americans' hearts. These folks want to take care of their parents, cousins and grandparents. They want to share what they have. You will notice that Obama did not open all of Cuba to all of our corporations and to all of us. That will come later.

Now, another interesting thing is going on: Another game is being played out on the three-dimensional chess board. There's a group of Republicans chomping at the bit who want to see Cuba opened up to all interests. Their motives are unclear. Cuba is a potential market for U.S. goods and services. Instead of getting their ears beaten in by industrial competitors from other countries, our corporations want in on the action. This is a fascinating turn of events. Obama has been calling on the Republicans to cooperate on a number of fronts in a bipartisan way. Up until now, the answer has been a resounding "no." It may well be that a new coalition of senators and Congressmen may find themselves in the position of going Obama one better when it comes to Cuba. Remember that many of these leading senators and Congressmen are from the very party that brought us George W. Bush who made it a crime even to go to Cuba.

One last thing: I guarantee that some of you who are reading this column will claim that I am an apologist for the Castros. Nothing could be further from the truth. These men are dictators. Their secret police have rounded up, imprisoned and tortured dissidents, just like the Saudis or the Pakistanis. I'm all for more Cuban democratization and the way to get it is to spend more time exposing the Cubans to what we've got, not cutting off our noses to spite our faces.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"Libraries are good for the soul"
By Alan Chartock, The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, Saturday, April 25, 2009

I love libraries. I grew up in libraries and owe a great deal to libraries and librarians. Along with many librarians, I believe that libraries should be community centers. They should provide space for people of all ages — but especially young people — to come and study or use computers.

Above all, they should be available to people who work or go to school during the day. In other words, libraries should be organized to suit the needs of the populations who need them the most. For those of us who read books, there should be books. For those who can't afford books, there should be libraries. For those who wouldn't know a book when they saw one, libraries should introduce young people to old style "information technology" in addition to providing computers and research skills to our young people.

Great Barrington spent a ton of money on its beautiful Mason Library. Unfortunately, despite the good intentions of the library trustees and the citizens who voted the money to fund the project, the library still has unfinished business. It should extend its hours and has to do better in its acquisitions policy. It should be open every night for students. If you only open late one or two nights, people won't get used to it. If you spend millions to fix it up and then don't provide enough staff for it to stay open, you have missed the point.

Now there is yet another brouhaha starting up. The town of Great Barrington is comprised of two parts: one part Great Barrington, one part Housatonic. The smaller part, Housatonic, is often to the larger part as vermouth is to gin in a martini.

There has always been an expectation on the part of the Hoosies that they would get their fair share. It's a lot like Manhattan and "upstate" New York (defined as everything north of the Bronx). The Hoosies believe that their library, the Ramsdell Library, has been treated as the country cousin. Now the good people of Housatonic (GPOH) who have been known to vote as a bloc, are ticked off. Their library needs help and they take great exception to those who think that they ought to get to Great Barrington proper to use a library. The Hoosies are right. Libraries should be in neighborhoods. Just ask Andrew Carnegie, or his ghost, who built a lot of libraries.

In true democratic fashion, the good people of Housatonic are having a sort of informational meeting on April 28 at the Housatonic Fire House at 7 p.m. They want to hear from their selectmen so that they can have the first public exchange before the town election, slated for May 11. I read that sentence to mean, "Woe be to any select person or town manager who doesn't take our demands about the preservation of the Ramsdell Library seriously."

They want a handicapped accessible building that has been properly weatherized. They want to "green" the building. They point to a $2 million commitment from the town. They've got state Rep. Smitty Pignatelli helping them, and they are hoping to relieve taxpayers of their tremendous burden by applying for federal stimulus money. They are also collecting lots of signatures on lots of petition sheets.

One of the leading figures in the fight to preserve Ramsdell, Deb Guhl, makes the point that, "There are several board members making statements that there is no intent to shut down the library. I think this is a misleading statement."

I may live in Great Barrington, but I believe in libraries and I believe in the people of Housatonic. I remember the late and great honorary mayor of Housatonic, Alice Bubriski, who was a champion of the library. We should fight this fight in her memory. Hey, I hope that the Ramsdell Library can figure out a way to serve its members as well, or a lot better, than the Mason.

On another subject, there is a call for cameras to catch speeders in Great Barrington. No matter where you live in Berkshire County, you probably get there, at least some of the time, through Barrington.

Apparently, some miscreants have been rushing the light that is so long, people can conceive and deliver babies there. I say, make the light change quicker.

Our Great Barrington taxes are approaching draconian levels. The more people we hire in our burgeoning bureaucracy, the more rules we make to keep them busy. And, to quote Forrest Gump, "That's all I have to say about that."
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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I Publius: "Salute to the great Pete Seeger"
By Alan Chartock, The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, Saturday, May 2, 2009
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

Happy 90th birthday, Pete Seeger! I have loved this man and his music since I was 14 years old and first heard him playing the banjo at Buck's Rock Work Camp. Once I heard him, I couldn't get enough. I borrowed "The Weavers at Carnegie Hall," "The Weavers on Tour," and every other Pete Seeger record I could find from the library so many times that I think I drove my whole family crazy. I played them over and over again back then and I still play them all over and over again today. I have loaded my iPod with most of Pete's recordings. Our group, The Berkshire Ramblers, plays very little that isn't connected to Pete.

I once sang one of Pete's songs to the campers at the Ocean Beach Youth Group on Fire Island on one of my days off from my job at the Bronx House Camps in nearby Copake, N.Y. The song was "Abiyoyo." Since I didn't know every word, I just changed the whole thing around. As I remember it, in my version we fooled the monster, Abiyoyo, into eating all the toxins out of the Great South Bay by feeding him toilet paper soaked in catsup. So Pete came to Fire Island and one of the campers took him sailing and told him my version.

He loved it and wrote a whole column in Sing Out! Magazine about how I changed the words, citing it as a good example of the "folk process."

Many years later when I really got to know Pete because of our interviews for WAMC, I was up at his mountaintop house and told him that story. He looked at me with amazement and said, "You're the counselor?" I used to write him letters as a teenager and either he or his remarkable wife, Toshi, would answer them. That kind of personal attention is amazing when you consider all of the fan mail he must have received.

In college, I wrote a major paper on Pete Seeger and the First Amendment. When everyone else was running from the witch hunters who were putting people in jail because of what they said or thought, Pete stood tall and looked them in the eye. They tried to send him to jail but they didn't get away with it.

But it is at WAMC that we owe Pete the most. He has recorded five wonderful conversations with us, talking about his life and time, and he allowed us to use them as premiums during our fund drives. There have been lots of films and books about Pete but the definitive Pete Seeger is to be heard on these recordings. As a direct result of Pete's generosity, an awful lot of money has come in to keep the station going.

When he and his troupe came to Great Barrington to play at the Mahaiwe, they all stayed at our house. We stayed up much of the night talking and the first thing the next morning, we started all over again and talked some more. I was quite concerned because I had read an article in a local magazine that quoted Pete as saying that no one really needed to live in a house with more than two rooms. While our house is hardly close to the biggest in the Berkshires, I was scared that Pete would be put off by its size.

Now Toshi Seeger is one of the best people I have ever met. When I brought them up to their rooms, now dubbed the "Pete Seeger Suite," Toshi looked at Pete and said, "Peter, this is the house I always wanted so that I could invite my relatives to visit." I loved her even more for that.

Of course, everyone has a Pete story. I can't go anywhere without someone telling me how the man has impacted their lives.

Before he passed away, the legendary Harold Leventhal, Pete's manager, told me that he rented Carnegie Hall for that first incredible Weaver's reunion concert because Town Hall wouldn't rent to him. There are fewer than 3,000 seats at Carnegie Hall but about 100,000 people swear that they were at that concert.

Tomorrow at Madison Square Garden, more than 20,000 people will gather to honor Pete, a man who eschews being honored. The tickets were sold out in just a few days. He's only allowing the honor because the money is being raised for the Clearwater organization, that group that has done more than anyone else to clean up the Hudson River.

I'll be there with all my friends who used to go to Carnegie Hall every time Pete played there. On the same stage will be Bruce Springsteen and just about every name in folk music. There won't be a dry eye in the house.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"Arlo shines at Pete Seeger tribute"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letters, Tuesday, May 12, 2009

On May 3, 20,000 of us who have been too often silent gathered in Madison Square Garden to celebrate the 90th birthday of Pete Seeger. Pete spoke for us and took the consequences. He was against the Vietnam War, Iraq and Afghanistan, and wrote "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?" He believes all men are equal, and wrote "We Shall Overcome," first as a labor union song and later adapted as the anthem of the civil rights movement. He cautioned against the loss of individual identity with "Little Boxes" and has championed the environment with the song of the sloop Clearwater, "Sailin' Up, Sailin' Down."

He was wrongly labeled a Communist and blacklisted. The first time I saw Pete Seeger, I crossed through a picket line of conservatives. They were peaceful, just wrong. Pete and his friends are now on the right side, and were through the Clinton years as well. So on May 3, we had much to celebrate.

Some 40 entertainers donated their services for a 41/2-hour concert benefiting the Clearwater, Pete's project to clean up the Hudson River and other imperiled projects. One of the featured singers was Arlo Guthrie. He and Pete have more than 50 years of friendship and history. We were not expecting more than a token appearance, perhaps joining Pete in singing "This Land Is Your Land," written by Arlo's father, Woody.

Arlo is far better than he was 45 years ago, when he was known for his clever, tongue in cheek lyrics more than his performing technique. He is not the self-absorbed performer he was back then. Arlo is now comfortable with himself and is not out of place in Madison Square Garden. He dares to capture the emotion of a song.

For me, the highlight was Arlo in a duet with Emmy Lou Harris. The song, "Precious Friend You Will Be There," comes out of the Depression, and is not well known. It speaks of friendship, determination and hope to beat the odds. All of that came through in Arlo's presentation.

When the chorus came around again, as it does with Arlo, everyone joined in. They either knew the words or learned them real fast. It was a perfect song for today's climate, not so different from the '30s.

I assume that Arlo performs in the Berkshires. I hope you don't take him for granted. He will help you put your cares aside. Thank you Arlo, you made my day.

CRAIG COOPER
Maplewood, N.Y.
The writer is a Pittsfield native and owns a home in Pittsfield.
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I Publius: "Handing off power is tricky"
By Alan Chartock, The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, Saturday, May 9, 2009
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

Along with other bedrock ideas, like the regular and peaceful transference of power, one of the fundamental principles of American government is civilian control of the military. We try not to let those who work for our presidents boss them around or, as my Mom used to say, " take advantage."

Sometimes we are unsuccessful. J. Edgar Hoover is a perfect example of what happens when those in law enforcement start pushing presidents around. We have seen similar examples with our CIA. The military had JFK on board for the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba but they fed him bad information. The weaker the civilian government, the more likely it is that the president can be shoved around.

George W. Bush is a perfect example of what happens when a weak leader eats what he is given. The words "weapons of mass destruction" spring to mind. Of course, this is all pretty lofty stuff for those of us living in the Berkshires. We have our own problems.

At the last Great Barrington town meeting, the perennial question of how to hire a police chief was raised. The present chief, a nice man named William Walsh, was hired under what is called a "civil service system." We used to hire chiefs in a different way. Under the old system, the Selectmen did it. Then the town decided to go in another direction and voted for a civil service system.

Walsh took the test and came out at the top of the list. He had some higher education that gave him a real advantage, but at the time he passed, he was a very young man. There was some scuttlebutt around town that the chief wasn't tough enough to control the people who he supervised. There were a few hard cases in the department who caused a good deal of consternation among the townspeople.

William Walsh has certainly grown into the job and some of the aforementioned officers are now departed. That has made a difference, but there is still some concern that the department is too isolated from the civilians who are supposed to be running the show.

I see some real improvements. I see police patrolling the streets. That's a good thing. I see police cars driving through the neighborhoods, keeping watch. That, too, is a good thing. Most of all, the police officers with whom I have had occasion to speak are polite and respectful.

Some of this can be laid at the door of a concerned Board of Selectmen and Kevin O'Donell, the new town manager, who does not look like a man to mess with.

To ensure that the Police Department would be manageable in the future, the Board of Selectmen overwhelmingly voted to take the chief's position out of civil service.

Selectmen Chairman Buddy Atwood told me that in order to avoid blatant political appointments (hiring someone's uncle Louie), they would institute a new selection procedure. A board comprised of citizens would submit a short-list from which the Selectmen would choose the final candidate.

O'Donnell has done this with other non-police hires. Atwood gave me an example of one guy who would not have been eligible for the chief's job under the present civil service system but who would be a perfect chief. The man is a colonel in the army with 30 years of service in the military police and a local resident.

Obviously, both the civil service system and the political route contain potential pitfalls. The City of Pittsfield has gone up and down on this seesaw for some time. Of course, Pittsfield has law enforcement problems that keep getting worse.

Last week, Chief Walsh got up at the town meeting to give a speech. Now, the chief cannot be fired because he has civil service protection and indeed, it will be the next chief who will be hired outside of civil service. Nor have any of the patrolmen lost their status under the town meeting vote.

Yet we hear that there were officers who feared that once the chief lost his protection, they would eventually lose theirs. We hear that some of these officers urged the chief to give his speech, urging voters to vote no on removing his civil service status.

One of the former police officers in the department got up to say that the chief had given a wonderful speech. That may be so but the chief made a very specific point. Looking out at the audience he said, "We work for you, the citizens."

That, of course, is what this is all about and that is the central question that guides this argument. If they work for us, that is a good thing. If they work for themselves, things can get dangerous.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"I Publius: Why serve? Murray asks for answers"
By Alan Chartock, 5/16/2009, The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

Murray, the world's cutest dog, sat his behind on the sidewalk and said (in perfect English taught to him by the Literacy Network of South Berkshire).

"Pop, I'm not going anywhere until we have a serious talk. There are some things I just don't get."

"OK, Murray," I said. With that, his head went to one side and his little pink tongue came out of his mouth and his Westie ears stood up in happy anticipation.

"Why would anyone want to be a member of the Great Barrington Board of Selectmen, the Board of Education, a school committee or any other governmental post? It takes them away from their families, they miss meals, and they can't be exercising — so many of them grow fat and put their health at risk. They have endless committee meetings and subcommittee meetings. Eventually, everyone who is unhappy about anything starts to hate them. They get calls at all hours. They hear from some people who clearly have some kind of diagnosable character disorder or a major anger management problem. I just don't get it, Pop. What's in it for them?"

I pondered this important question put to me by the pugnacious pup who sat their like Ferdinand the Bull. I couldn't get him off of his derriere so I said, "Look, Murray, walk with me and we'll talk this out."

"Oh, no you don't," said Murray. "I know you and your tricks. I want a straight answer before I go anywhere."

"All right, all right," I barked back at the cute little guy. "People undertake this service because they want to count."

"What do you mean, 'want to count?'" asked Murray .

"Well, there was this great song that Pete Seeger used to sing called 'Passing Through': 'Sometimes happy, sometimes blue. Glad that I ran in to you. Tell the people that you saw me passing through.'"

"I don't get it," said the little Westie. "What do you mean?"

Growing a little exasperated, as teachers sometimes do when they are failing to get a point across, I told Murray, "People want to mean something in life before they pass on. They want to leave their mark, much as you do, Murray. They want to contribute something to their community. They want to know that when they've passed through, they will have left something of themselves behind. They want to know that their lives had meaning and that they imparted something good in the world.

"Of course, some people have other motives," I continued. "Some are power-hungry. Some are nuts. Some are angry. Some want to escape their houses or run away from a spouse or a lover. But most, Murray, most of them do it because of their commitment to the community they live in."

"Hm," mused Murray. "I think I get it. Could I run for selectman?"

"Well, I certainly think that you have the qualifications. You are smart. You play well with others. You always want to make people happy. I've never seen you bite anyone. But, of course, you'd have to get nominated and I'll have to research the law to find out if dogs can run for office. I've seen some pigs do it and win. But dogs? Well, I just don't know."

"But, but — " stammered the cute little dog, "this is a civil rights issue. Why am I worth less than a pig or a person?"

And then the little dog began to cry real tears.

I picked him up off the ground and cradled him in my arms.

"Don't cry, Murray. I have an idea. We'll make up some stickers that say 'Murray the Dog' on them. Then when a bunch of self-selecting people are running, we'll encourage people to vote for you for any office. It'll be good for candidates' humility, particularly when they are running unopposed. You'll be getting votes for all kinds of offices and then when the election results are announced, your name will be in the paper."

"Yes, but Pop, what if I win?"

"We'll get you a suit and a tie, and you'll just sit there until a vote comes up and then you'll say, 'Ruff.' If they don't let you serve, we'll go to Great Barrington town court and argue with Judge Frederick Rutberg. He's a heavy thinker."

Murray said, "Pop! Pop! That's a great idea! I'd love to be a selectman. I'll try to pass a town ordinance allowing us dogs in coffee shops so we can sit there with our people. Like in France."

"I can't argue with you, Murray." And with that the little dog got up and we continued on our walk.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"I Publius: Two seats won't go into one"
By Alan Chartock, The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, Saturday, May 23, 2009
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

I spend considerable time having in-depth conversations with various members of Congress on WAMC's Congressional Corner. These are often — but not always — brilliant people with an inside perspective on politics and the art of the possible.

In the 2nd Congressional District, which may be combined with ours in the coming reapportionment, lives one of the brightest and most articulate men I have ever spoken with, Richie Neal of Springfield.

He is so bright and so engaging that I can't get enough of him. He is a student of politics, the Congress, and anything Irish. He probably had more to do with the successful Irish peace process than any other American. If he only did that one thing in his lifetime it would have been enough. Just think of the number of lives he has saved.

As one of the very top captains of the Ways and Means Committee, he is a very important man in the House. When I asked him whether he would be interested in running for the Senate, he had a one word, two letter answer: no. He loves the House of Representatives, its history and its traditions. In addition to being the head of the Irish American Caucus in the House, he is co-chair of the New England Congressional Caucus.

The guy is unique. It is true that he knows how to get along with people in the political world and it is true that he is a close friend of a former colleague in the house, Rahm Emanuel, with whom he shares an occasional merlot. But he is so smart and so articulate, you would hardly call him an old style "pol." He's much more like a brilliant, yet not distant, professor.

In fact, when he starts to talk history with you — what Washington said to Jefferson; what Jefferson said to Madison; what the framers really thought about the separation of powers; why the Congress comes first in the Constitution — you sit up and take notice. He spends a lot of time in college lecture halls and you have to wish you had him for American history.

If Massachusetts loses a congressional seat in the reapportionment coming after the soon-to-be census, it may well come down to a primary between John Olver and Richie Neal. Olver has ably represented the district for years and votes the way I would, but he is nearing retirement age. Richie is still a relatively young man and has lots of service left in him to give.

On another matter, I really can't let an opportunity go by without thanking all the people at the Berkshire International Film Festival for their heroic work. This has become a wonderful opportunity for all of us to do something stimulating and rewarding before all hell breaks loose in the summer. I cannot say enough good things about Kelley Vickery, the woman who puts it all together. Her ability to get others to pitch in and make this work creates a tremendous sense of community.

Next year, I would love to see one of our Berkshire film lions, like Sam Waterston or Meryl Streep or Jill Clayburgh, receiving the high honor that the film festival bestows every year. Or how about our wonderful Karen Allen, who has made us all so proud? Karen is the most approachable actor I have ever heard of. She is talented, brilliant, artistic, a great member of our community and so generous that words can't describe what she has done. She is a member of the BIFF board and is as humble and down to earth as they come, but she should be prevailed upon to accept this honor. This year's choice of Professor Richard Brown was popular and a good choice for many but left me underwhelmed.

Finally, as readers of this column know, I am a big Barack Obama fan. However, I think his recent obvious deal with Charles Schumer, the aggressive U.S. Senator from next door New York, was a major mistake. He should not have called Congressman Steve Israel from Long Island and asked him not to primary Kirsten Gillibrand.

The whole point of American democracy is choice. Primaries provide that choice and all that this sad story points out is Schumer's immense political clout. Obama is a symbol of doing the right thing and staying out of the political gutter. As for Schumer, the only U.S. Senator with two votes, you might remember, pride goeth before a fall.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"I Publius: Our politics sometimes can be crazy"
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, Saturday, June 6, 2009
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

I often hear from conspiracy theorists, regaling me with some of the wackiest ideas ever dreamed up. OK, I have never been satisfied that the American people learned the real truth about the assassinations of JFK or Martin Luther King Jr. but some of these theories are really out there.

Did you know, for example, that the World Trade Center was wired by the government to implode and the planes never hit it or the Pentagon? I interviewed one of the most important exponents of this theory and gave him his say. The problem is that a lot of people saw it happen.

In my mind, the important thing is what our government did after the planes hit. A horrific act of terrorism was perpetrated upon this country by a few foreign nut jobs and the administration used the event to construct their war on terror, a pretext to deprive Americans of their basic rights; engage in torture that is an anathema to our American values; and get us into a stupid, costly war in Iraq that no one wanted and that we've paid for dearly with money and blood. If there was any kind of conspiracy, that was it.

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When you consider the way in which we have organized our politics and economics, it is extraordinary that we continue to allow incredible greed to call so many of the shots, favoring those that have the most.

We allow millions and millions of Americans to have substandard health care. We allow home foreclosures at an historic rate. We allow small business failures and personal bankruptcies and when some people are in danger of losing everything, we do nothing.

But let the big banks or the car companies fail, and we ask regular Americans who are being screwed to the wall by these very entities to pony up and save them. Some of the most prestigious ratings agencies have named some of the new Chevrolets among the best cars available, but Americans won't buy them. No one trusts them. No one understands why they couldn't have been making great cars from the get-go.

We have failure insurance for those at the top of the food chain while the rest of us have to take our chances. To succeed, Barack Obama has to negotiate with these people in order to escape being personally and professionally destroyed. That's very hard to understand for anybody who expected instantaneous results from the guy.

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The CVS drug store in Great Barrington which bought our beloved Bill's Pharmacy has big plans. They want to build a behemoth drug store with a drive-thru and ATM machines, which would forever alter the basic character of one of the most beautiful towns in America. The Planning Board unanimously rejected the plan that had been submitted to avoid the new town comprehensive planning law.

The way that many of these chain companies with cadres of lawyers succeed is by wearing you down. They will go to any court they have to thwart the will of the community. In this case, the company wants to knock down an existing hotel and pool building.

One hero stood up at the Planning Board meeting and made an impassioned plea to stop the plan. She spoke of the beauty of Great Barrington, referencing its churches and the Searles Castle, and she pleaded with the planners to turn it down. These things have to be done carefully, however, because the lawyers know every trick in the book. They have nothing but time and money and they will use it.

On the other hand, they have another thing coming if they believe this will be an easy one. Their opposition has lawyer and town moderator Bud McCormick on their side, and this is a guy you do not want to mess with. His property abuts the proposed CVS project and he is not a happy camper. He seems to have some compelling legal arguments on his side.

He tells me that he is committed to the fight and he believes the CVS people will lose in the end. I certainly hope he is right. As for me, you had better believe that while I shop at CVS now, I will not be shopping there if this plan goes through.

My bet is that a lot of others will feel the same way. Do the CVS suits even care?
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"Medicare a health care option for all"
The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, 6/20/2009, By Alan Chartock

First comes health care. I am an unreconstructed believer in a single-payer, national health care system. I get Medicare, which is a wonderful government funded and run operation. For once, my tax dollars go toward something that really works.

It has always seemed logical to me that we should simply extend Medicare to all those people below the age of 65. We can spend billions a week on wars, but somehow, when it comes to the basic welfare of the American people, we can't get it right. From my perspective, this is not only stupid, it's sinful.

The arguments against such a program are spurious. The enemies of single payer say that it would cost too much and call it socialism. Nonsense.

We bail out banks and we bail out car companies. That's socialism for the rich. We build a military industrial complex and machines of war that we just don't need. I had a congressman tell me that we had to build another nuclear submarine to keep up with the Chinese!

As for socialism, we have post offices, public education and libraries that are owned and run by the government. No one is suggesting that they have a hammer and sickle over the front door.

Imagine a little child whose parents cannot afford health care dying in a mother's arms because we say health care for all is too expensive. If just one such little baby or his mother or father dies, it is too much.

The doctors know the health system is broken. But, somehow, we still need to protect the behemoth insurance companies, with their stockholders and insane pay checks, giving them the money that should be going to save lives.

More doctors are choosing not to be part of the American Medical Association, and the AMA itself applauds the young president with his plan that would allow the insurance companies to continue with their need for profit, but this time balanced with what we are calling a "public option."

We don't really know what that option might be. It could be a plan that gives ordinary Americans the kind of health care that our elected representatives enjoy right now. We know we need more primary care doctors. We know that many specialists make a lot of money while the GP's make too little. We know that technology is used for both good and bad reasons. Tests are good to make sure that nothing is wrong inside of you but tests that are given defensively to avoid malpractice suits are sending the system to the poor house.

It is frustrating that, as a country, we don't have the political will to insist on a program that meets our need for basic health care. If the body politic insists on one, be it at the ballot box or in the streets at mass rallies, the politicians who are now enjoying the largesse of the insurance companies will have to give in.

The problem lies in the unconscionable power these people wield. Sooner or later, the people who have led us to this point are going to have to look in a mirror. Sooner or later, someone they love will die because they didn't have enough bucks or because they couldn't manage to navigate a confusing system. Sooner or later, it will be their child, and, sooner or later, they will see themselves and be horrified when they realize that they sold out for more money than they could ever use in ten lifetimes.

Barack Obama is a brilliant man. My faith is in him. I suspect he knows that in order to get where he wants to be, he has to take it slowly and step by step.

He and his people think that if he starts out with single payer, they will lose the war. If they do it his way, he may just be able to pull it off.

The only other way to do it is to let the steam continue to build up in the pressure cooker until the American businesses that are going broke because of high health insurance costs and the constituents who are suffering scream loud enough and the politicians listen. Sooner or later, we will have a single payer system.

Right now, my money is on Obama. I hope he knows what he is doing.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"I, Publius: Taking notice of the things that matter"
By Alan Chartock, The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, Saturday, July 25, 2009

Have you ever noticed that ... no matter how hard the highway engineers try, they just can't seem to get it right? When you are approaching Great Barrington from Pittsfield, you have to be Einstein to know where the turn toward Stockbridge is. After the new, improved construction, things are worse then ever. Ditto on the turn from Route 102 onto Route 22 in "NewYorkState" (that's one word in the Berkshires). Try making a left turn coming back to the Berkshires from 22 onto 102, and you'll ask yourself, "What could they have been thinking?"

There are some people who are incapable of compromise? Here is President Obama, fighting for his life to give the American people a decent health care plan. I did a call-in segment on WAMC recently and was struck by both the right-wing callers, who just hate the idea that this democracy would assure everyone the right to see a doctor, and the left-wingers who all demanded single-payer Medicare for all, which I am for. They said that if they couldn't have it all, they didn't want any of it. Will someone give me a break? My bet is that both set of callers can afford to go to a doctor and may not be part of the estimated 50 million who cannot. I hope these people will take some anti-bile pills and chill out. If Obama doesn't do it now, he will have used up his political capital. He was honest about what he was going to propose and now he's doing it. If he brings it off, he will be known as a great president. If he loses on this, he will suffer a great defeat. His polling numbers are going down among Republicans (do you think they have doctors?) but not among Democrats. Some Republicans are framing this as a "program for the poor," trying to alienate the American middle class. It's an old trick and it's disgusting.

A lot of people are still speaking on their hand-held cell phones while driving? Now the New York Times reports that an ambitious federal effort to document how dangerous this can be was never undertaken because it would have ticked off members of Congress. Hey, people love their cell phones and members of Congress do not want to alienate their potential voters. Better people should die on the roads? As for me, I have a hands-free device.

More people are choosing to be buried in their backyards? I like it. However, I don't think the funeral directors like it and a few states like New York demand that funeral professionals must be involved in the process. Those are your lobbying dollars at work. I know people bury their pets in their backyards and I'd like to be buried in mine. When our dogs died, we cremated and put a sign on a bench memorializing them. Seems like a good way to be remembered. I mean, imagine, a headstone right as you come in the driveway. Then put a codicil in your will and in the sales agreement that they can't disinter you. Every time the stranger living in your house comes home, there you are. Beautiful! See what you would have missed if newspapers were dead?

Businesses that do good things are not given enough credit? Legacy Banks has been holding a lecture series featuring some of the most distinguished educators in the country, if not the world. The first one was with Howard Gardner, and coming up is Richard Levoie, a renowned specialist in special education. You would be astounded by the stats on how many kids there are with learning problems. This is one not to be missed. It's Oct. 21 at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield. Next time you see any of the folks from Legacy, give them a shout-out for what they are doing for their community.

And speaking of doing good for the community, Jane Iredale of Jane Iredale Cosmetics, Dick Sullivan of Legacy, John Law of the Williamstown Savings Bank and Bill Booth of Country Curtains were all at WAMC discussing a new cooperative venture linking the four theaters in Berkshire County. You go to one and pay full price. If you go to the second, you get a serious discount, likewise to a third and a fourth. Williamstown Theatre Festival, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Barrington Stage and Shakespeare and Company are all in on it. They all realize that a high tide floats all boats. This is thinking with their collective noodle. This is business at its best. Good for them.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"Health care game has few rules"
By Alan Chartock, The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, Saturday, August 29, 2009
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

Health care is on everyone's lips. Those familiar with my views on the matter know that I am in favor of a single-payer system that provides the same government service for our citizens that those in virtually every other industrialized nation receive. The thought of little children going without health care so that insurance companies can continue to make obscene profits is repugnant.

Let's face facts. The insurance companies are greedy bloodsuckers. They take a huge portion of every health care dollar for themselves and their stockholders. Right now they're spending like drunken sailors, trying to put a stop to the so-called "public option."

I have always believed that President Barack Obama is much smarter than I am. I think his basic game now is to get a health- care-for-all package and then to build on it. I can just imagine David Axelrod saying, "Look, Mr. President. If you fail on this it will be your Waterloo. If you get something, anything, you'll be the guy who did it first. We'll worry about what comes later after we get this done."

What's more, I suspect Obama has a larger political strategy. It is becoming increasingly clear that his team believes they have a lock on everything from the center all the way over to the far left. Now his political people seem to want to capture the center right and on over. This strategy comes with tremendous risk. First of all, you can and will alienate your base. George Bush and his cronies had that down pat. They knew the key to electoral success was sticking with and pleasing their right wing base.

While it is true that Obama never promised a government run single-payer system during the campaign, his constituents just believed that he was being politically clever. They projected their beliefs into his action. Now many are very disappointed. Once I surmised what the game was I knew that his call for a so-called public option to compete with the insurance companies was just a gambit.

I think his people knew that they would throw in this chip at the right moment and they would end up with something, including some concessions on such matters as "cherry picking" the healthy folks, not allowing "pre-existing conditions" to be covered, and putting caps on how much could be spent by one ill person.

Then Obama was rapped on the knuckles by the progressives in the House of Representatives who said that they wouldn't vote for any health care package unless it included a public option. Team Obama must have taken this as a very serious threat because they ran for the hills and wiped out the signal originally sent by their health care czar, Kathleen Sebelius, when she indicated that the public option could be dismissed.

n

My own view is that Obama had a massive mandate and a lot of goodwill. I suspect that if he had just called for extending Medicare to all citizens, he could have had a resounding political success just as conservative Ronald Reagan did when he called for a revision of the tax code.

Americans need heath care. The Republicans have been using it as a wedge issue by painting the public option as just another program for the poor, something that many middle class folks fall for every time. On the other hand, everywhere I go I hear horror stories about people who can't afford health insurance.

I suspect you gotta do what you gotta do. Obama says no treating undocumented immigrants, even though he surely knows we will be paying through the nose as these folks are treated in emergency rooms. Meanwhile, the conservatives are going on about everything from socialism to mandatory abortions to death panels.

It's all nonsense and they and their allies in the insurance industry know it. I've said it before and I'll say it again: sooner or later these people will have to meet their maker at the Pearly Gates. Surely they will be told "No health care for your fellow man, no entrance for you."
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"No kidding: Mosquitoes have to go"
By Alan Chartock, The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, Saturday, September 5, 2009
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

The town of Great Barrington and every town in Berkshire County should spray for mosquitoes. It is nothing short of a matter of life or death. Don't say I didn't warn you -- I did and that's that. Final notice.

Yes, I realize that some of you may think that the stuff they use to spray may be hazardous to our health. Nevertheless, we live in tough times and we know that diseases like encephalitis and West Nile Virus, among others, are spread by
mosquitoes.

You can be a phoo-phoo and not want to spray for some undocumented reason or you can watch a loved one die from West Nile Virus. I am told by authoritative sources that there are dead crows around the region. Them's the choices.

We went to a wonderful wedding of our friends Gianluca and Emily in Sheffield the other night and noticed the absence of the killer bugs. When we asked, we were told that the town sprays.

I wondered whether every town sprayed or not. I called Sheffield and a very cooperative voice told me that Sheffield had opted in to the Berkshire County mosquito control program, which is actually run by the state. It turns out that Great Barrington's voters, in order to save money, voted several years ago not to spray.

Okay, here comes the sarcasm in case you are a literalist. One can only admire and respect Great Barrington for its frugal ways. The town is always looking for ways to save money.

Let's see -- there was the library renovation, the beautiful new schools, the huge brand-spanking-new fire house, and the new police station. Certainly those were all cost saving measures. But the cost of averting imminent danger to you and your family is too high? What is wrong with this picture?

Let's say the price tag might be $50,000. Would saving one life that might otherwise have been lost to the bite of a disease-bearing mosquito be worth the expenditure of $50,000? You know it would.

I met Great Barrington Select Board Chairman Walter "Buddy" Atwood III on the street right after the board voted, quite sensibly, to award Jane Iredale's group the right to develop the Searles complex. I'm a big Buddy Atwood fan. He's no-nonsense and he knows just about everyone there is to know. He is straight talking and fun and he is related, one way or another, to almost everyone.

He told me that very few towns were in the county were paying to spray. He also said that Sheffield voted for it "because someone had died of yellow fever, years back." I still have no idea whether he was pulling my leg but I told him I was going to quote him on the matter and so I have.

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On another matter, the always perceptive and brilliant, yet still sensitive, Nancy Fitzpatrick invited a few people to one of the most undiscovered of all the beautiful places in the Berkshires, Chesterwood, the summer home and studio of Daniel Chester French.

French is best known for his sculpture of a seated Abraham Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. You can get to Chesterwood by looking for the sign coming north or south on Route 183. It's right near the Rockwell Museum and is one gorgeous place with some incredible scenery and some of the best displays of French's work to be found.

French did the original model for the Lincoln Memorial right there in his studio and that model is now being displayed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington where hundreds of thousands of people can see it. This is just one of those gems of the Berkshires that more people should see.

So the next time that Aunt Tessie is visiting, take her to French's house and studio and knock her socks off. I suspect that she might even put you in the will.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"Aftermath: Mayoral races worth a look"
By Alan Chartock, The Berkshire Eagle (Online), Op-Ed, November 7, 2009
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

Barrett and Ruberto. Two mayors. Two races. Two different outcomes. Ruberto had a narrow win in a year when all political incumbents were at great risk.

Barrett went down after having held the position for 26 years, making him the longest-serving mayor in the commonwealth. He clearly loves his city but to his misfortune, he ran in a tough year. Things are going terribly wrong in this nation and in this state, and politicians are being held in distain. He says that "it was a great ride." Class act.

Whether you like him or not, there's no denying that "Big John" had a personality. Sometimes he liked to fight just a little too much and that very quality which served the city so well was in large part responsible for his defeat. When he took on the city's powerful police union, he had his hands full but he did what he had to and he won. It's that kind of passion that made him a good mayor.

Anytime you turned on the television, you saw slick, expensive Barrett ads.

You saw him with U.S. senators and governors. I never saw an ad for his opponent, Dick Alcombright. Unlike Barrett with his "put your dukes up" style, Alcombright comes off as a conciliator, a gentle man. A while back, after I wrote a complimentary piece about Barrett, I was surprised to receive a message from Alcombright. He was appreciative about the way I characterized the race. That made me sit up and take notice so I asked my wife, Roselle, about him.

"I like him," she said, having watched him from her perch at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. She wasn't alone -- other people liked the guy, too. He spent an enormous amount of time going from house to house. He gave everyone a chance to come see him and talk to him and hear him. He met them at any opportunity, mostly in small groups, the way Americans have been doing it for years.
*
In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent a hundred million dollars on his election. You couldn't turn the TV on without seeing one of his ads. He rounded up most of the major political consultants and hired them all. The pollsters all gave him a double-digit lead and yet with only 51 percent of the vote, he almost lost the election.

His opponent figured out that he had opposed his predecessor, Rudy Giuliani, getting a third term when the people of the Big Apple had voted in a two-term limit.

Then he turned around and got the rules changed. The people didn't like it and he came close to losing.
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In Pittsfield, it was another story. Jimmy Ruberto got a real fight from Dan Bianchi. This was a bruising battle. There were big differences between the candidates. Ruberto showed himself to be a man of courage. He had been punched in the solar plexus when his beautiful and wonderful wife Ellen succumbed to cancer. Then, in the last days of the campaign, his mother went.

The Bianchi campaign played it tough. Bianchi seemed to have a vision of the old Pittsfield, the one that led to the mess that the city has been trying to dig itself out of. Let's face it, folks, GE is not coming back.

For Ruberto, the restoration of downtown came first. "Build it and they will come," seemed to be the spirit: witness the movie theater, the Barrington Stage, the elimination of that stupid roundabout in the middle of the city.

Was he always right? Probably not. I never thought his idea about building a new high school was sensible but I can say that he was a big enough man to give up the idea when he assessed the economic situation.

Bianchi's talk about a recount reminds me of a situation I was once in. I passed a hitchhiker. I couldn't decide whether or not to pick the guy up, but I quickly realized it was too dangerous and passed him by.

When I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw that the guy was lifting his finger in that international symbol we all recognize, I knew I had done the right thing. The way a man loses tells you a lot about him. And, that's all I have to say about that. I am delighted that Ruberto pulled it off. He's a wonderful man.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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I Publius
"Pulling out my crystal ball for 2010"
By Alan Chartock, The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, December 19, 2009

So, dear readers, below are my predictions for the coming year.

Remember the rules: Some are things I want to happen, some are things I don't want to happen, and some are things I believe will happen.

Here we go:

The Great Barrington Selectmen will announce they are fixing the sidewalk on one of the main pedestrian entrances into town that annually becomes either an ice skating rink or a wading pool. Selectman Buddy Atwood will slam his hand on the table and thunder, "We are always worrying about getting sued -- this is a lawsuit waiting to happen."

While they are fixing things, the Selectmen will demand that taxpayer money that has been sunk into the Mason Library should result in extended hours so that students and adults who are occupied during the day will have a place in which to read and study.

The extended hours still won't happen.

I predict that the next time I am asked to support an initiative of the library, I won't do it.

Three county restaurants will receive major awards. They will be Cafe Adam in Great Barrington, Rouge in West Stockbridge, and Trattoria Rustica in Pittsfield.

Pittsfield Mayor Jimmy Ruberto will lose his temper with a blogger and sue the blogger for everything he or she has. That person will deserve it, and a legal precedent will be set when the courts rule against the blogger.

One Supreme Court Justice will be heard saying to a colleague: "You wouldn't believe the lies these people are telling about me. It's time to put a stop to this nonsense."

The district attorney will announce a series of drug-related arrests in South County. Some people will be shocked when they learn that one of the young people arrested comes from a prominent family.

State Rep. Dan Bosley will challenge Speaker Robert DeLeo for the top job in the House of Representatives. Bosley will fail in the attempt and will announce he is leaving to go into a new career in banking. His previous work on banking issues will put him in good stead, and he quickly will amass a huge stable of clients.

State Rep. Smitty Pignatelli will be made chairman of one of the most prestigious committees in the House.

Club Helsinki finally will open in Hudson, N.Y. There will be a regular contingent of Berkshirites heading across the state line to visit. Unfortunately, Great Barrington's loss of Helsinki to Hudson will start a great debate about "Who lost Helsinki?" You might be surprised about what you'll hear.

A magazine will fold.

A prominent town manager will leave for much greener pastures.

The charter school application for Great Barrington will be rejected. The state will write the committee that is trying to put it together, saying that this is not the time for a charter school in a high performing area when other more at-risk districts need the charters more. They also will make note of the fact that the community seems to be overwhelmingly opposed to a new charter that will drain badly needed resources from existing schools.

Great Barrington will buy the Fairgrounds and establish a dog park.

North Adams Mayor John Barrett will score a great job that will utilize his tremendous understanding of what it takes to be a mayor.

Mass MoCA will dream up an art exhibit that will leave the art world agog.

Laurie Norton Moffatt, director and CEO of the Norman Rockwell Museum, will be featured in a national women's magazine.

James Taylor and his wife, Kim, will be honored at the White House.

You, dear reader, will have a happy, healthy, safe and prosperous New Year.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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Re: Alan Chartock, I hope I am that Blogger!!!! Speak out against corrupt Pols like Jimmy Ruberto!

December 19. 2009

Dear Alan Chartock,

If I was a Mayor, Governor or President, I would be honored to have people Blog for and against me!

If I was a big wheel in politics, I would respond to the mud-slinging in kind, such as my Blog against Denis "Golddigger" Guyer for his slanderous rumors against me over the years for Denis Guyer to do the dirty work of Andrea Nuciforo II* and his Pittsfield political machine of henchmen "Good Old Boys" that include Carmen Massimiano II and Jimmy Ruberto.

Alan Chartock seems to believe that the 1st Amendment's guarantee to FREEDOM of SPEECH does not apply to Citizens who speak out against politicians, especially the corrupt ones like Mayor Jimmy Ruberto!

Alan Chartock would have supported President John Adams anti-speech laws that President Thomas Jefferson had repealed! To hell with FREEDOM, the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, & free speech! For Alan Chartock, it is all about big wheels in politics like Jimmy Ruberto, who is the corrupt 4 term Mayor of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

I want you to know, Alan Chartock, that you don't intimidate me from speaking out for and against any and all politicians! I also want you to know that you don't scare anyone else about speaking out against the corrupt regime of Pittsfield Mayor Jimmy Ruberto!

Alan Chartock, I hope I am that Blogger!!!!

Maybe one of the Citizens you once spoke out against, RINALDO DEL GALLO III, would defend me, a Citizen, in Court. I would be honored to have Rinaldo represent me in Court!

Alan Chartock, when you try to intimidate people from exercising their Freedom of Speech, please site the law(s) that you believe they are violating.

I LOVE FREEDOM! I will always speak my good conscience as long as I live! Give me Freedom or give me death!

Here are all of my anti-Jimmy Ruberto Blog links:

http://blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&q=ruberto+blogurl%3Ahttp%3A%2F%2Fjonathanmelleonpolitics.blogspot.com%2F

www.jonathanmelleonpolitics.blogspot.com/2007/10/mayor-jim-ruberto-pittsfield-regime-of.html

www.jonathanmelleonpolitics.blogspot.com/2008/11/mayor-jim-ruberto-pittsfield-regime-of.html

www.jonathanmelleonpolitics.blogspot.com/2009/01/mayor-jimmy-ruberto-city-leaders-fail.html

www.jonathanmelleonpolitics.blogspot.com/2008/07/i-despise-both-jimmy-ruberto.html

www.jonathanmelleonpolitics.blogspot.com/2009/06/dan-bianchi-will-challenge-jimmy.html

www.jonathanmelleonpolitics.blogspot.com/2009/07/pam-malumphy-for-mayor-of-pittsfield.html

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

www.jonathanmelleonpolitics.blogspot.com/2008/04/pittsfields-high-teen-pregnancy-rate-is.html

www.jonathanmelleonpolitics.blogspot.com/2008/04/berkshire-countys-healthcare.html

www.iberkshires.com/images/site_images/stories/25612.jpg

www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&q=ruberto+topix+%22jonathan+melle%22&aq=f&oq=&aqi=

* www.luciforo.blogspot.com

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"Ruberto pays attention to neighbors"
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 1/16/2010
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

The nutty bloggers have gone completely insane over Pittsfield Mayor Jim Ruberto hiring former North Adams Mayor John Barrett III to consult for the city. They are spouting their usual whack-job conspiracy theories. For a reported $15,000, Pittsfield gets to tap into the knowledge of the former longest serving mayor in the Commonwealth. Ruberto wants to hire Barrett for a three-month period during which he can figure out how to improve Pittsfield's neighborhood services. Barrett was known for getting out in North Adams neighborhoods with his service providers. He has a lot more to offer than some wet-behind-the-ears college professor who majored in urban planning and gets his ideas from a book.

It seems to me that Ruberto is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. To his credit, he recognized that the neighborhoods felt left out in Pittsfield's efforts at revitalization. So Ruberto takes steps to tell the neighborhoods that he has heard them and is doing something about their complaints. Instead of saying, "Thanks, mayor, we appreciate that you are listening to us," he gets dumped on. Why anyone would want to subject themselves to a city where people continually show disrespect to their elected officials is beyond me. Hey, back in the day when I was a selectman in tiny Alford, three years was more than enough for me. You couldn't have paid me to do it again. It looks to me like Pittsfield is showing real signs of life. I like the town but it's time for someone to come forward and thank Jim Ruberto for doing a thankless job.

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On another front, let there be no mistake that the next election cycle will be a Republican one. The warning signs are all over the place. Americans have always liked to cover their bets. They took a big chance on Barack Obama who, by and large, is doing a good job. He's made some mistakes -- trying to micromanage New York State politics, denying people the right to a primary, and making what could have been simple, one-size-fits-all health care reform into a big mish-mosh that almost no one understands. The people will put on the brakes. Too bad. How soon we forget what a disaster George W. Bush was. He brought the country to its knees and fiscal ruin. He created the recession we're in. He led us into at least one unwarranted war that has bankrupted the country.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts now has to decide whether the Lion of the Senate, Ted Kennedy, will be replaced by smart, intelligent, thoughtful Martha Coakley or Scott Brown who looks and smells like a more conservative Mitt Romney. Incredibly, at least one poll finds the election too close to call. It's all going to come down to who can turn people out. Make no mistake about it -- if the Democrats sit on their hands and the Republicans get their folks out to vote, the majority now enjoyed by the Democrats in the U.S. Senate will be a thing of the past. Voting is the most important job a citizen has in a democracy. I certainly hope no one will wake up the day after the election feeling guilty about not showing up at the polls. Putting the Republicans back in the driver's seat is just too scary to imagine.

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A very curious thing happened recently in Great Barrington. The local branch of the Massachusetts Cultural Council seemed to be looking for a reason to deny the local community radio station a paltry $350. WBCR has done a terrific job of bringing people together and creating a sense of community. I hoped that the money was not being withheld because the station plays political material that you or I might take exception.

I hear this all the time at WAMC. Those on the left complain about Herb London's right-wing commentaries and more conservative folks complain about Alternative Radio. At least one of the people on the local Cultural Council once called me up and gave me the business because we played programming from the BBC, one of the most respected news organizations in the world. Let's all take a deep breath. Smart people can make up their own minds.

Now we are hearing that Hilda Banks Shapiro, the longest serving member of the committee with the greatest institutional memory, has been thrown off the committee because she's served more than two terms. If anyone in our community is slated for sainthood, it is Hilda. Now the chair of the committee has resigned under a cloud surrounding the WBCR affair. The little radio station has had some of its grant reinstated. As Paul Rapp, the station's president put it, "It was never about the money, it was all about fairness."

Congratulations to WBCR. Trust me -- there are things on this little radio station that I find unlistenable. Nevertheless, they had an idea and went with it. They made it work against all odds and that's quite an accomplishment.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio, and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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www.topix.net/forum/source/berkshire-eagle/TUCV349S1P6CPINQT
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January 16, 2010

Re: a short note to Alan Chartock

Alan, I disagree with you about Mayor Jimmy Ruberto hiring fellow Good Old Boy former Mayor John Barrett III as a consultant at a whopping $5k per month. This is insider hack politics at its worst!

- Jonathan Melle

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"Pittsfield taxpayers are rightly angry"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letters, January 21, 2010

With regards to Mr. Chartock's Jan. 15 column in which he refers to many of us discontented taxpayers as "nutty bloggers," it is obvious that this so-called writer does not live in Pittsfield or pay taxes here either. It is also apparent that Mr. Chartock is part of Mayor Ruberto's clan of blind followers and puppets who seem to jump on Ruberto's band wagon when someone takes a legitimate stand against his throne.

Instead of reporting on the underhandedness of this decision and launching an investigation into numerous other coercive reports regarding how City Hall does business, Mr. Chartock decided to attack hard-working taxpayers, labeling us as "nutty." It is time for Mr. Chartock to look in the mirror if he wants to see nutty.

The perception that Mayor Ruberto presented with appointing former Mayor Barrett was one of taking care of the good-old-boy network. The mayor's lack of communication with his own City Council and the taxpayers regarding this appointment and the details behind it should make any Pittsfield taxpayer stand up and question the mayor's reasoning, especially when the mayor is hinting at raising taxes and expresses his strong friendship and loyalty for Barrett on a local radio show.

The $15,000 being used to pay Mr. Barrett could have been used to ensure we have enough funds for winter plowing or funding heating costs for the elderly and handicapped who sit at home in the cold. If the city needs Mr. Barrett to assess our city's needs, then why are we paying a mayor or others to do the same?

Mr. Chartock, I recommend that you come down from the ivory tower and see how the average person lives and take a look at your loyalty issues with our city's leadership before you call us "nutty." Shame on you for supporting the games that are played with our money.

DANIEL COLELLO
Pittsfield, Massachusetts
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"I Publius: The media must wield power wisely"
By Alan Chartock, Special to The Berkshire Eagle, February 13, 2010

Let me put on my journalism professor's hat. The topic of the week is rumors and what they can do to a community. Often, these rumors turn out to be true. One thing I respect about this newspaper is that they walk a very careful line. When rumors are afoot, The Eagle is very, very careful in checking out the story which, in the minds of many, has already become fact. They owe that to their readers.

This is tricky stuff. Good reporting means getting it right. If many in a community believe that something is true, then in their minds, it is true. If a story about a public official's wrongdoing turns out to be true, it underlines the fact that no matter where you are in your career (president of the United States or policeman), you can be held responsible for actions long past. Sometimes these stories are about earlier indiscretions -- sexual, philosophical or verbal. Once our careers advance, we may be a lifetime away from that original indiscretion. Think back on your life. Do you recall having said something that maybe you shouldn't have? By this I mean some politically incorrect statement or some fight with another human being.

There are a lot of 18-year-olds who have had consensual sexual relationships with their 16-year-old girlfriends and are technically guilty of having committed statutory rape. If the wind is blowing the wrong way, these kids could end up doing time and ending up on some sexual offenders list which will haunt them for the rest of their lives. Now I have no truck with predators. Frankly they make me want to vomit. But I can remember all kinds of allegations against high-ranking members of the Catholic Church that turned out not to be true or not provable. It is terribly important to get it all right. Clearly, The Eagle has been very careful to be fair in their approach to all of this. I notice that when they write about sensitive issues that can hurt someone, they mention the number of opportunities they have invited a response from the person whose behavior is being questioned.

As we all know, rumors can kill you. They can take on a life of their own. Take last week's report that The New York Times had the sexual goods (or worse) on Gov. Paterson in next door New York. According to the buzz around the Capitol, an article was imminent and Paterson would have to resign. I was sitting in the middle of a media storm in Albany as one after another TV and radio station called to ask me "what I knew." Papers printed rumors about the rumors.

I knew nothing. Paterson went public and denied the rumors. It didn't matter. The scurrilous tabloid rags kept up the drum beat. We really don't know who started the rumors. There were a couple of obvious suspects. Was it the Obama White House who had ordered Paterson not to run? They didn't want primaries since the appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand looks like she could be defeated by any number of people in a primary. Gillibrand is a favorite of the powerful U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer. Perhaps the White House needs Schumer to help with their legislative program so they made it clear that they didn't want a primary against Gillibrand.

Another suspect who had motive was Andrew Cuomo, the state's popular attorney general. He has lots of experience in the political wars, having been the muscle behind all of his father's political campaigns. When Mario Cuomo ran for mayor against Ed Koch in 1977, there was that famous sign over the Grand Central Parkway in Queens, urging one to "Vote for Cuomo, Not the Homo." The slur, of course, was against Ed Koch who denied that he was gay. The Cuomos denied having anything to do with the sign. We'll never know. Cuomo lost the election. Koch, who blamed the Cuomos, has said that it's all in the past and now has only good things to say about Andrew Cuomo, who is now running for governor.

Let us take one recent example that may shed some light on the issue. This paper recently ran a piece by Clarence Fanto dealing with the background of a local radio celebrity, Sherman Baldwin. It turns out that Mr. Baldwin served some time for having committed a fraud. Baldwin has done a good job on talk radio. He was frightened enough about the coming story to call a press conference of his own. He explained that all of this is old news, known to a lot of people. Maybe so, but I sure didn't know it.

This series of events got me thinking about rumors, journalism and redemption. What is the statute of limitations on wrongdoing, be it "sexual fondling" or bad behavior in a campaign? Why is it that some people get away with it and some have to pay? And what about after they have been punished? Will they ever have a second chance? Will the brilliant Eliot Spitzer, who has so much to offer, get another chance? There are those among us who yell at the top of their lungs in voices filled with rectitude, "Absolutely not!"

I think that people deserve another shot. I'm sure that Tiger Woods will get his, as did all those baseball players and their steroid abuses. I just can't help wondering who among us should throw the first stone.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"I Publius: Don't put the loss all on Coakley"
By Alan Chartock, The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, February 20, 2010
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

Now that some time has gone by it might be a good thing to examine the stunning defeat of Martha Coakley by Scott Brown for the U.S. Senate seat once held by both the Lion of the Senate, Teddy Kennedy and his brother, John F. Kennedy.

In fact, the unthinkable happened. It has often been said that polls are nothing more than snapshot in time, but if you think about it, that's exactly what happened in this election. It occurred at a given moment. If it had been earlier or later, Coakley might have won, making her the first woman to hold a Senate seat from liberal, blue state, Massachusetts. That in itself would have been historic and would have assured that a lot of people would have voted to make it happen.

Coakley is a popular attorney general, she had name recognition, and she did the people's work. (Andrew Cuomo, take note.) She was no ball of fire as a campaigner but it is unseemly and condescending that the White House and some other Democratic big shots have been blaming the loss on Coakley. That was unfortunate. That is not the gentleman that we know Barack Obama to be.

Nope, something else seems to be at work here. The Republican noise machine has been hard at work. They own the commercial airwaves and have set loose such virtue-deprived individuals as Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and the other bought-and-paid-for conservatives to scream the case for their conservative masters. The big lie was at work.

*

Things are tough here in the United States. The eight years of the Bush administration seem to have been forgotten. The people who brought us like lemmings to the precipice seem to have gotten off scot free.

In fact, the people who have the most to gain from progressive reform of the system seem to be the first to swallow the lies of the noise-makers. In other words, the less educated we are, the more likely we are to grab onto outrageous political lies by the right-wing zealots.

Why aren't those in the Obama camp out there telling people that these are the tax evaders and corporate bosses who brought us to the ruinous situation we now find ourselves in? It was not Martha Coakley who lost this election to the buttoned-down-and-obscure Scott Brown. Who mattered in this election, I fear to say, was the Obama White House, who have not remembered to dance with the ones that brought them. Obama should take a tip from George Bush and, if he means it, play to his base.

He should have come out swinging for something like Medicare for all. He should have held the bankers out to dry and shown them for the greedy, unprincipled lot they are. In his latest foray, he should have said that no more nuclear plants should be built until we know where to put the spent uranium and how to stop the troubles that have plagued the last generation of nuclear plants. His base would have killed for him.

You had better believe that Obama's approach has been to seduce the Republicans by adopting much of their program, be it international or domestic. Unfortunately for him, it hasn't worked. Unlike the Democrats, the Republicans stick together like glue. They are in it to defeat Obama.

*

Good public policy is the last thing on their minds. Even in cases where they propose ideas identical to Obama's, the moment that Obama proposes what they support, they change their minds.

People sense that gridlock. They elected Obama to get things done. Too many are out of work. Too many don't have health care. They will now kick this bunch out just like they kicked the last bunch out.

To put it mildly they are ticked off. Recent elections have shown it. Evan Bayh deciding to quit the Senate is proof. There is a lot of speculation why he decided but I have concluded he thought he would lose and that he'd never be president.

It wasn't Coakley. It has been happening in New York State and across the country. If Obama doesn't get it right he'll lose his base. This all adds up to why Coakley lost. If Obama doesn't see the light and lead he'll be a casualty in a few years.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"Republican party evolves new divisions"
By Alan Chartock, The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, April 17, 2010
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

So, here comes the Tea Party. These people, according to the New York Times, are overwhelmingly white, relatively well-heeled, conservative Republicans who are madder than hell. It seems that they don't like paying taxes.

That's not surprising.

A lot of people had believed that the Tea Party people lived in small houses and trailers. It turns out that a lot of Americans pay almost no income tax.

That's because we have what is called a progressive tax system.

The Tea Party folks - surprise, surprise - do pay. They are hardly revolutionary. They just don't like paying. I pay a lot of taxes, and I don't like it either. But it does seem right to me that those of us who earn the most should be taxed the most. It's only fair.

This is not to suggest that there are places where we really are paying too much. What about the wars that left this country flat on its back? I hear almost nothing from the self- identified Tea Party people about the money that we have paid to support the Eisenhower dubbed " Military-Industrial Complex."

How come? Could it be that these people are part of the group that benefits the most every time we launch a nuclear submarine that we really don't need? Are these those unprincipled persons who care more about preserving their status, their money, and their investment in the above- named defense establishment?

With all that said, it does look like this is going to be a Republican year.

People are comparing it to what happened during the so-called " Gingrich revolution" of 1994. Maybe, but it could just be that the Tea Party people are the Republicans' worst nightmare. They are so conservative and so slavish to the know-nothings like Sarah Palin that they are unwilling to tolerate moderates in their own party. In some cases, they will be putting " third parties" on the ballot which will siphon votes from the Republican establishment.

The Republicans are left in a quandary. Should they worship at the altar of the conservative nut fringe or should they remain principled and possibly get overwhelmed in primaries or by third- party candidates who will assure that the Democrats win?

Take the case of U. S. Sen. Scott Brown. This guy was in the right place at the right time. The health care bill was a real political quagmire when he ran. It looked like Obama was down on his luck and it might never get done.

Then things turned in Obama's favor.

A few months later and Brown might have lost, but he didn't, and now he has a few years to convince the people of Massachusetts that he is worthy of reelection.

Although Brown came in on a sort of Tea Party populism, he has been running away from that gang as fast as he possibly can. Why? Obviously, Massachusetts is an overwhelmingly Democratic state.

So when things like a jobs bill come up in the Senate, he breaks from his party and votes for the bill. How come? He wants people in Democratic Massachusetts to believe that he is a reasonable compromiser. However, he will vote with the Republicans on things like a Supreme Court justice nominee and on most filibusters that the Republicans are carrying on. I'm old enough to remember when New Yorkers felt that way about so-called liberal U.S.

Sen. Jacob Javits. They put up with plenty from him that they would never have accepted from any bona fide Democrat.

In this Congressional District, Silvio Conte played the same game and we all loved him. So last Wednesday, Brown was invited to the Tea Party gathering in Boston, but he told these people, who truly believe that he won because of them, that he was too busy to attend their event. That's like when the girl who you asked for a date told you that she had " other plans." Yeah, sure.

The man is clearly scared to death by this group.

Make no mistake about it - these Tea Party people are a potential nightmare, not only for the GOP but also for the Democrats. These are the kind of folks who have passion. You remember passion. In the last election, it went to the Obama people.

In this election, the Tea Party people are creating it. And when the smoke clears, they may have done temporary or even lasting damage to those who want a more equitable and fair America.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"An epidemic: Too much salt and sugar"
By Alan Chartock, The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, April 24, 2010
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

We Americans are being murdered by sugar and salt. We know it -- and yet we do little about it. Walk down the street in Great Barrington and you'll see a fairly new store that should be called "Sugar Central." It's a store selling thousands of sugar concoctions.

I'm really not all that astounded by the obviously well-heeled, well-educated parents who are bringing their kids into the place. Hey, I spent a lot of time getting ice cream with my kids. I'm not throwing the proverbial stone. It's all great stuff, but it will certainly lead to your demise if you overdo it.

*

I think there can be little doubt that sugar consumption is leading to more deaths in the United States than hard drugs. The diabetes epidemic is frightening and is attributable in large part to weight gain and to sugar excess. Government is doing its best to reverse the frightening escalation in sugar consumption, but every time a politician says or does the right thing, he or she gets a kick in the rump for their efforts.

Clearly, we parents haven't done enough to help our kids understand the danger. Once, years ago, when our kids were very young, we had a birthday party for our Sarah and got a note from a playmate's parents saying that they would be sending some sugar free cake along with their child who was not allowed to have anything with sugar in it. That was quickly followed by a note from the Rudolf Steiner School bawling us out for allowing chocolate in our daughter's lunch box. Frankly, we thought the parents and school in question were off the deep end. Turns out, they were right. If kids learn early that certain things will kill them, they're more likely to make good choices.

*

New York State's health commissioner, Richard Daines, is teaming up with Gov. David Paterson to try to impose a tax on sodas with sugar in them.

Besides bringing badly needed dollars to the empty state coffers, a tax will surely dissuade some people from buying the stuff. Many school districts have already taken the soda machines out of their buildings. At least the kids won't be swilling the stuff during the day, although they they'll probably go back to it as soon as they can.

Of course, people are fighting like crazy to put a stop to a "regressive tax" that unfairly targets poor people. In any other year, the tax wouldn't have a chance, but this year it does because of the need for revenue.

*

The federal government has recently taken on salt, which we have known for a long time is also a dangerous killer. I cook a lot and never use salt. You can get used to eating food with no salt. If people want salt, they can find it on the table.

Years ago I went to see my cardiologist, Harry Odabashian, and told him that my blood pressure was getting a little high after a lifetime of perfect readings. He told me that the first move was to cut out the salt.

As usual, I went nuts. I looked up the salt content of anything and everything. You would be amazed at how much salt there is in everything.

College-aged kids in particular seem to favor Ramen noodles. Has anyone bothered to look at the sodium content in those hand-dandy "just add hot water" containers? No surprise that after I cut my salt intake, my blood pressure went right back to normal.

The problem, of course, is that almost everything has salt in it.

Once again, we are killing ourselves. If you try to find items with no salt in the food markets, you will have a hard time.

The best thing for all of us would be to have a no-salt section in the grocery store. I called the Big Y in Great Barrington and the word is that low-sodium products are mixed with the regular foods. If you want low-sodium canned tomatoes, you go to canned tomatoes and look for the low-sodium products.

The Price Chopper does have some low-sodium products behind the pharmacy with the gluten-free products, but like the Big Y, it mixes most of the low-sodium products in with the regular ones. You need to be very careful.

My point here is that the Tea Party and libertarian people say to "get government off our backs," but in at least two cases, the government is trying to save us from ourselves. As for you, stay away from the sodium and the sugar. You'll probably live longer.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"The Wards don't gather any moss"
By Alan Chartock, The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, May 8, 2010
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

If there is a single family that is beloved by the people of Great Barrington, it has to be the Ward family. Their business, Ward's Nursery and Garden Center, sets an example of how a business should be run. The present manager-owners, Greg and Mike Ward, took over from papa Don Ward, Jr. Every customer is treated with courtesy, the kind of treatment one rarely sees these days, with a few exceptions like Herrington's in Hillsdale, N.Y.

In fact, the Ward boys treat each customer as if he or she was the most important person in the world. They will not rush you because they see someone with a roll of greenbacks behind you. They will take their time and tell you where to plant, how to plant and, if you want to pay for it, they will do a superb job of planting for you. Finally, they will stand behind their products. It may be a little more expensive than some other places but it is so worth it.

The Wards are the kind of people that you hardly see anywhere else except maybe in Jimmy Stewart's "A Wonderful Life."

Every generation of the family puts in their hours. You can tell that because they all look pretty similar. Another Ward brother, Tim, recently fell seriously ill and was moved east to a major medical facility. There has been a Ward family member with him, day after day after day. Now Tim's getting better.

When it comes to putting in hours for good things in the neighborhood like the Lake Mansfield beautification effort, the Wards are always there. Greg is such an expert on things that flower and that are green that we constantly use him on WAMC as part of our gardening panel. It is a testimonial to the man that when I speak with him he always supports the other gardening experts who appear with him on the show. His mom and pop did some job raising their kids.

When the younger Wards took over from their dad, they faced a formidable task. But they had learned the business from the ground up and year after year, the operation has grown and prospered. They have continued their Christmas tradition of having all those animals for the kids to come and see and feed. Now they are embarking on a whole new adventure.

They have greatly increased the size of their place. You might say it is now one of the Wonders of the World, along the lines of the Sphinx, the Pyramids or the Taj Mahal. The new place is unbelievable and it went up in what seems like record time. On Saturday, May 15, the greatly expanded Ward's will have a gigantic celebration of the new space. As always, they will be doing it right. There will be free gifts for the first 50 visitors, a storewide treasure hunt and a ribbon cutting ceremony that will be attended by the bigwig politicians.

Hey, if I were a politician I would want to pay my respects to one of the first families of the town. No doubt about it. The place is impressive.

Architect Anthony Barnaba and the Wards wanted a sustainable, green facility and that's what they have. Because the Wards have been so good to so many people in our town, it would be great to see a huge turnout, not only to see the business and the buildings but to honor some wonderful people for what they have done to make Great Barrington a great place to live.

On another subject, I was shocked, I say shocked, to see a major purveyor of sugar to our children making a lighthearted attempt to repudiate a recent column of mine on the country's sugar epidemic. Our health care costs will soon be totally out of control. Hey, this is no joking matter. We are facing a growing crisis as we see huge increases in diabetes and obesity.

The federal government and the state governments are well aware of the gravity of the situation. Hey, if someone has to be defensive about poisoning our kids with sugar, that's on them. A lot of money has gone into a lot of businesses that do the same thing. You wouldn't hand your kid a cigarette, would you?

The sugar purveyors always resort to saying, "Everything in moderation." Soda and sugar consumption have gone through the roof in this country. We tax cigarettes. Now we should tax sugar to the hilt. When your doc tells you, a loved one or a child that they have diabetes, ask yourself this: "Is this a joke?" We've just got to wean ourselves from this stuff.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"Going beyond the headline that you read"
By Alan Chartock, The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, May 22, 2010
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

Arlen Specter Loses Senate Seat in Pennsylvania: Specter, one of the oldest men in the Senate and who has survived battles with killer cancers, could not ward off the conservative element in his own Republican Party. So he did the Democrats and himself a big favor and became one of them.

They were very grateful and when it was announced that a youthful representative, Joe Sestak, would primary him for the Democratic nomination, all the grateful Democrats came out to protect Specter. Hey, you have to respect the Democrats for keeping what was clearly an assurance to Specter when he crossed the aisle to join them and assure them of a majority in the Senate.

It all goes to show that it is very dangerous for anyone to cross party lines. The ones you are leaving will consider you a traitor and hate you and the ones you are joining won't trust you.

In the meantime

Rand Paul Wins in Kentucky: The tea party folks in this country love Ron Paul, Rand's father. Many consider the elder Paul to be the father of the tea party movement.

This was an interesting race in which the conservative secretary of state, Trey Grayson, endorsed by Mitch McConnell and his fellow establishment conservative Republicans, lost. The problem for the conservative McConnell and his gang is that they are now victims of the same tactics that they themselves have employed. They can't wait to accuse President Obama of irresponsible insider politics, but that's what the tea party people have called the old right-wing crowd in suggesting that they are not conservative enough.

Since it is the right-wing party activists who tend to vote in the greatest numbers in otherwise ill-attended primary contests, the person who throws the most red meat to the carnivores is the most likely to win.

In the meantime, the New York Daily News is now reporting that Tea Party Express leader Mark Williams is on a similar tear, calling a proposed Muslim Mosque near ground zero to be ill-advised because, among other things, Muslims worship "the terrorists' monkey god." There's nothing like a little jingoism and/or race hatred to bring people out into the streets. Nothing has really changed. You've only to look back at American history to find these creeps have always been around.

Mexican President Visits the White House: I know a lot of people who love Mexico. A whole bunch of them migrate south from the Berkshires to Mexico for the winter. The United States is Mexico's biggest trading partner. President Felipe Calderone got full honors from the Obamas. He is deserving because of his seeming commitment to putting a stop to the drug wars. His efforts have not gone well, and I hope this man has a lot of security around him.

There are arts communities and beautiful homes in Mexico and Americans can live there fairly cheaply. However, the borders have become war zones; Mexican police departments and the military are rife with corruption. Being stopped for a traffic violation is always risky and can lead to demands for bribes and even imprisonment on the most trumped-up of charges. Obviously, the risk is greatest if you are one of the competitors for the drug money that feeds the insatiable American taste for illegal drugs. Nevertheless, it is always possible to be the victim of a stray bullet. My family has gone to Mexico in the past, but you won't catch me there until things calm down.

Scientists Fault Lack of Studies Over Oil Spill: Now the finger-pointing really begins. Some scientists say that the Obama administration dropped the ball by not doing enough to determine how much oil was being released into the Gulf and where that oil was likely to go. The oil is heading around Florida and up the coast.

I may not know much but it seems to me that this is a huge, huge disaster. And we all pretty much knew -- at least the media was telling us -- that the figures on how much oil was released were misleading. Yes, we have to learn from this but the best minds in the country can't seem to get a handle on how to contain the leak and we have all learned why off-shore drilling is a really bad idea.

Now is time for folks to slow down on the finger-pointing (there is plenty of blame to go around) and figure out how to stop the oil. In other words, let the eggheads act like scientists and less like dithering academics.
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. Today, Chartock is being awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters degree at Westfield State College's 171st commencement.
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"Patrick fine at solving the problem"
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, Berkshire Eagle, July 17, 2010
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

Murray, the cutest dog in the universe who was taught to speak by the Literacy Network of South Berkshire, looked up at me the other day and told me that he wanted to ask me some questions.

"OK," I said, "but before you do, I have a question for you. How come we have these wonderful conversations, but you never speak in front of other people?"

"Simple, Pops," he said. "If I did, there would be thousands of people bothering us all the time. They would all want to come and see the talking dog. You wouldn't want that. Mom definitely wouldn't want that -- you know how private she is. And I wouldn't want it. You know, it's already tough enough being top dog at WAMC."

"OK, Murray," I responded to the 18 pounds of muscle and grit. "What is it that you wanted to know?"

"I want to know," said the cute little guy with the devil ears, "what you talked to Gov. Deval Patrick about the other day. I want to know just why you think the guy is so great."

With some astonishment, I looked at Murray.

"Murray," I asked, "Why do you care?"

"All of us dogs care, Pops. I think dogs need to help elect good politicians. You know we want sensitive, good, decent, smart people in office. Is Deval Patrick such a person?"

"Indeed he is, Murray. He's really pretty special, but his specialness comes with a risk. He's the kind of man who thinks about policy first and politics second."

"I don't understand, Pops. What do you mean?"

"Well, he is so brilliant that he looks at a problem and then he tries to solve it. So many of these other pols are all full of bluster and the only thing they can think about is politics in a more traditional sense. They care about the art of getting re-elected, not really about how to solve problems. Patrick is so smart. He approaches things rationally and logically."

"Give me a for instance, Pop."

"OK. For years we all watched the commonwealth spend a fortune assigning very expensive police officers to details where roads were being constructed. We knew that civilians could have done just as well. Finally, Patrick worked with the Legislature to make it happen and, after years of everyone griping about it, he got it done."

"I'm impressed, Pop. Anything else?"

"OK, here's another one. Massachusetts folks spend a lot of money across the line in gambling casinos in Connecticut and New Jersey. The governor estimates that this could mean a billion and a half dollars for our depleted state coffers.

He told me that he doesn't like the idea of people spending their money on gambling. But if we need the money, and he says that some of it should go to help people with compulsive gambling problems, we should not pay for public services in other states. I agree with him on that.

But, he told me that he insists that these gambling establishments should have as their No. 1 priority the hiring of lots of people.

He seems dead set against those ‘Racino' machines that really suck up people's money and don't need people-power to run them. You see, Murray, this is one smart guy, and I gotta tell you, Massachusetts is doing a lot better than most other states. We're pretty lucky to have this governor. I just hope the folks at the other end of the state are smart enough to know it, too."

"Thanks Pops," said the little ball of fur. "You always educate me. Now tell me one more thing. What's all this fuss about Judge Fredric Rutberg? First I read an editorial in The Eagle that severely chastised the judge for not being tough enough on some folks who had gotten themselves in serious trouble. Then I read an equally devastating column by Clarence Fanto. Boy, was he tough on Rutberg. Do you agree, Pops, do you?"

"Well, Murray, I think the poor judge has problems enough. But answer me this riddle: Who do you think it was who first gave him the nickname, ‘Free ‘em Fred?' I just don't want to alienate the guy any more than I already have. He's never been a fan of mine. I'm sure I'll get a ticket one of these days. If he's the judge, I'll probably end up in state prison."
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Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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www.topix.net/forum/source/berkshire-eagle/T8PK2V6T459CAGLRH
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"Patrick won with class, dignity"
By Alan Chartock, Special to the Eagle, November 6, 2010
GREAT BARRINGTON

There is a wonderful Woody Allen film in which our hero, a hypochondriac, thinks he has a brain tumor but as usual, he doesn't.

He's standing outside Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, and when he sees his friends, he jumps up in the air and says, "Beat them again."

When I heard that Deval Patrick won his race in a time of Scott Brown, tea parties, reactionaries and a huge unemployment rate, I almost clicked my heels and said, "Beat them again." So how did he do it? First of all, he didn't panic. He was a class act from start to finish.

Even though he was ahead in the polls, he did the right thing: he debated and he debated and he debated. We all know that a lot of people play it cute when they are ahead in the polls. They refuse to debate, giving one excuse or another. Patrick showed us that he was, above all, a gentleman. When he debated, he made his points but he didn't lower himself or our politics by letting things degenerate. Plus, he's really good at it. In comparison to the others, he just seemed more in control.

He knew how to make the point that under his leadership, our state has done better than most of the others.

*

Additionally, unlike less principled politicians, he didn't run from his friend, Barack Obama, but embraced him. Class will always tell. His friends, James and Kim Taylor, did what they could do to help. I loved the image of these two soft-spoken and principled men sticking together.

Make no mistake about it, Patrick took nothing for granted. Unlike Martha Coakley, he was out there working as hard as he could. No one was ignored. As the locals say, "He came around."

Of course, Tim Cahill, the dissident Democrat, went independent. From the beginning it was clear that he would take as many (or more) votes away from Republican Charlie Baker as he would from Patrick. The Republican Governors Association was so worried about how that would play out that they spent a fortune trashing Cahill. It worked and the treasurer's polling numbers went down. My intuitive guess is that the votes he did get still helped Patrick. There are a number of Democrats who could not make themselves pull down a Republican lever but didn't like Patrick because of his support for the president.

*

In the meantime, closer to home, state Rep. "Smitty" Pignatelli got more than 80 percent of the vote. If there is anyone close to a true hero in our area, it's Smitty. The man comes around, he returns phone calls, and he works his head off. The area's arts organizations adore him. So why does a local rag in South County write a mean article endorsing Smitty's opponent?

Certainly, the people have spoken. I mean, 80 percent of the vote is just unheard of. Do you think that the people who run the rag have the good sense to take this rejection of their advice to heart? I mean, really! Now the hard work begins when the state is redistricted. There is a good possibility that Massachusetts will lose a single congressional seat.

The scuttlebutt is that it will either be Congresswoman Niki Tsongas' seat or a combining of the 1st and 2nd districts. We're told that the sometimes aloof and condescending president of the Massachusetts State Senate, Therese Murray, will not hear of eliminating the seat of the only female in the Congressional delegation. Since the state Legislature draws the lines, that means that either John Olver (1st District) or Richie Neal (2nd District) will be gone. If John Olver retires as many people think he will do, Richie Neal will pick up the marbles even though Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. of Pittsfield has signaled his intention to run.

I interview a lot of congressmen on my Congressional Corner segment on WAMC and I always come away incredibly impressed by Neal's brains and use of language. I can't think of anyone I would rather have as my representative in Congress.

Finally, state Rep. Chris Speranzo almost got his political head handed to him by the most unlikely of candidates, Mark Miller, a former part-owner of this newspaper. People were really ticked off that Speranzo would dare to run for an office that he would leave high and dry if he were to be appointed clerk-magistrate by his political crony friends. The resulting special election would cost the citizens a pretty penny.

What could the guy have been thinking? His friends in high places might think twice before giving him the lifetime appointment. There are limits to what the people will put up with.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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"Olver in middle of political storm"
By Alan Chartock, Special to The Berkshire Eagle, December 4, 2010
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

This past Tuesday, I had a conversation with a woman who wanted my take on what she said was Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr.'s claim that John Olver would not run for re-election.

The same day, I had a call from the Congressman who wanted to discuss our forthcoming interview on Congressional Corner on WAMC. It was a pleasant chat and I decided I would ask him a direct question.

"John," I asked, "are you running for Congress again?"

"Yes," he responded. Up until then, we didn't know that. That's how news gets made. You are having a conversation and someone tells you something that your inner ear tells you is news.

I never heard Nuciforo or one of his agents say that Olver wasn't running, but we know that Nuciforo says he is. Frankly, if Olver runs I don't see how Nuciforo can win.

If you haven't been following this story, here's the background. Olver is getting on in years. He is a bit of an egg head and his sentences sometimes have no end. But he has carried the liberal flag high in the United States Congress.

When others equivocate, he does not. He tells you what he thinks and if you don't like it, tough, that's just the way it is. Olver is one of the most powerful men in Congress, even though his House is about to be taken over by the Republicans.

On the powerful Appropriations Committee, he is chairman of one of the most powerful subcommittees in the Congress and is therefore known as a "Cardinal."

To put it mildly, John Olver has delivered a lot of projects (pork) to our area. A lot of people owe him a lot. Unlike other porkmeisters, Olver doesn't use these projects to get anything (except votes) for himself. Some of his colleagues have been real pigs funnelling money into not for profits that they control. Sometimes their families are on those payrolls.

Anyway, there are several young politicians in our region who would love to have Olver's seat. The former state senator, Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., retired from that office to become Register of Deeds in Pittsfield. The Register gets paid a good salary and the office is a perfect place to do politics.

Andy Nuciforo is a nice, smart, guy with powerful ambition. Maybe he thought he'd give John a shove toward the old age home, but I don't think he fully understood that you don't want to tick John Olver off. When I asked him about that, Olver told me that he was mildly annoyed that Nuciforo has been telling folks that he is running, and according to one informant, Olver is not.

On the other hand, Olver told me that no one owns the job; elections are held for a reason and anyone has a right to run. I'm going to go out on a limb here and tell you that I think Andy Nuciforo has annoyed John Olver and that Olver is having his revenge now.

One day I was at the old Pearl's restuarant and Olver asked me about a Republican Congressman he heard I was friendly with. He made it clear then that he wasn't happy about it. In this conversation, however, he said that he was very friendly with the Republicans on his Appropriations Committee. Perhaps he was trying to mitigate his reduced clout on the committee.

By the way, there are other ambitious people around. Some of them come from the Amherst area which has a greater population than the Berkshires. Young state Sen. Ben Downing is thought to be interested and should not be underestimated. Plus he's smart enough not to show a lack of respect for his mentor, John Olver, for whom he once worked.

Of course, there is another problem for each one of these people and that is the looming redistricting of the Congressional districts by the state Legislature. In fact, there is a good chance that the 1st and 2nd Congressional districts will be combined. If that happens, the always popular and brilliant Richie Neal from Springfield would be the odds-on favorite to clobber anyone from the 1st district. We hear that at least one of the members of the "around Boston" Congressmen crowd may be taking one of the University of Massachusetts presidencies. In case you don't know, this professor does not approve of giving politicians college presidencies.

The next thing you know, they'll be doing the same thing with the parole board. If one of those districts gets vacated, the 1st and 2nd district is unlikely to be combined. After all, instead of districts being designed for the people, they too often get drawn to meet the needs of a particular Congressman.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.
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"One mistake begets another and another"
Alan Chartock, Berkshire Eagle columnist, March 12, 2011
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

Vivian Schiller, the president of National Public Radio, has been fired -- finally -- by her long compliant board. Schiller was in over her head and she kept making big mistakes just as the new conservative Republican group in the U.S. House of Representatives was trying to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The CPB supports a small part of the budgets of public broadcasters (many of which have no affiliation with NPR whatsoever). By her actions, Schiller actually helped the conservatives who are trying to do in NPR.

We certainly know why they are after NPR and PBS. NPR is the best electronic news gathering organization in the country. Since the conservatives have achieved hegemony over commercial radio with the likes of Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity and Savage, they must be aghast as the commercial radio audience diminishes and the public radio audience grows. There's only one possible solution to that: "Kill them."

*

Vivian Schiller made three big mistakes. The first was to announce that within five to 10 years there would be no more over-the-air terrestrial radio; it would all be online.

She may be right but her prediction raised howls from the people like me who run the NPR member stations. Under her direction, NPR started directing as many people as possible to their website. If, as she predicted, things were all going digital, who would need the member stations? Everyone would go to NPR.

If you wanted the weather, all you had to do was to put in your zip code. If you want the local news, there were moves afoot to have NPR supervise and collect that for you, too. The reaction was so swift to Schiller's prediction that she had to apologize for it. I think the curtain opened just wide enough for some unhappy folks to get a look in. One down.

The second mistake was huge: the firing of NPR commentator Juan Williams for remarks made in his other gig on Fox News. He said he felt uncomfortable on an airplane when he saw Muslims on the same plane and was immediately dismissed for his remarks. The conservatives let up a howl saying that NPR hadn't fired more liberal commentators who expressed their views on commercial stations. The ax fell quickly and the prickly Ellen Weiss, NPR's news director, was shoved out.

The compliant NPR board, however, did not hold Schiller responsible even though she was in on the Williams canning. In fact, Schiller made it worse by making a snide remark about Williams and his psychiatrist. The board proudly announced that they still had faith in her but she would not be getting a bonus. A bonus?

They fired the news director but Schiller wouldn't be getting a bonus?

*

Then came the piece de resistance. A group of gonzo conservatives with a record of infiltrating organizations they perceived as liberal managed to arrange a luncheon with NPR development people for the alleged purpose of discussing a $5 million donation to NPR. The generous donors were make-believe Muslims and peppered their taped conversation with anti-Semitic remarks and suggestions that maybe their donation would not have to be reported to the proper governmental authorities. A comment by one of the "contributors" referring to NPR as "National Palestinian Radio" drew a gushing response from one of the development people.

This, finally, was the end for Schiller. Of course, had it been a left-wing or liberal group doing the infiltrating, the right-wing conservatives would have been outraged. I wonder where the FBI has been. The NPR cause has been hurt. The Republicans in Congress have made great hay and even the top NPR news gatherers have signed a joint letter of disapproval. Bad news in every sense of the word.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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"Breaking down bin Laden"
By Alan Chartock, Special to The Berkshire Eagle, May 7, 2011
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

Murray, the world's cutest dog who was taught how to speak, read and write by the good people at the Literacy Network of South Berkshire, was waiting for me when I got home from work the other night. He wanted to be picked up and I obliged.

He licked my face and said, "Pops, Pops, I couldn't wait for you to come home so I could ask you about Osama and Obama. I heard on the radio -- Mom always leaves it on for me when she goes out to do her art -- that at great peril to themselves, Navy Seals landed in Osama bin Laden's compound and killed him.

"First the radio said that he was armed and resisted, but then the White House announced that he wasn't armed," Murray continued. Then we heard that he was buried at sea, according to Islamic law. Pops, if he wasn't armed, why didn't we just arrest him and bring him back for trial?

"Plus, we heard that the Seals took pictures but then the president said that he wouldn't release the images because doing so might incite violence. The ferocious doberman down the street thinks that the president did the right thing. Did he, Pops? Did he?"

"Well, Murray," I said to the dog with the cute pink tongue, "You raise a lot of good questions. Sometimes in life there are things we would like to do but we can't because of other exigencies. For example, we know that our Constitution calls for trial by jury. Osama didn't get that. It's dangerous when a president is allowed to sign a death warrant for an enemy of the United States. I mean, there are previous presidents who might have characterized me as a dangerous enemy.

"Then there is the question of that pictures that the president ordered suppressed," I told Murray. "We showed the bullet-ridden bodies of the sons of Saddam Hussein, and we saw the unofficial video of Saddam's hanging. On the other hand, Saddam was not suggesting that he was a religious Muslim while Osama was. So, when the president said that he didn't want that picture out there because it could incite violence among some people, he may have had a good point. But it does seem more than a little ironic that we could bust into the guy's house, shoot him even though he wasn't armed and then suggest that we had to bury him in a respectful manner.

"That leads us to the next issue," I said, "the behavior of the people who ran out into the streets and celebrated bin Laden's death. After 9/11, Americans were saddened and alarmed to see some people in other countries partying in the streets, celebrating the death of more than 3,000 Americans. I still think that was part of our motivation to get Osama and the conspirators at all costs. The president suggested that some of those celebrating were being patriotic. I think that may have been a mistake.

"It can't be easy to be the President of the United States. President Obama's re-election campaign just got a mighty boost. Part of the consideration here may be political. This president may well have been seeing through the camera mounted on the Seal's helmet as Osama was actually executed. All of a sudden, an ‘indecisive' president was anything but and that seems to make a big difference to a lot of Americans.

"Sometimes, Murray, you really can't do the right thing. We may never know what bin Laden knew. We may never know why he was shot on the spot. We don't know whether part of the plan was to prevent him from gaining a worldwide soap box at trial. If you look really carefully at President Obama, you see a man whose hair is turning grayer, day by day.

"Do you understand, Murray?" I asked the little dog.

"I think so," said Murray.

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'Senator' was unparalleled in goodness
By Alan Chartock, Special to the Berkshire Eagle, July 30, 2011
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

Jack Fitzpatrick is gone. Frankly, I loved that man. As my mother used to say of some Republicans, "He was the best kind."

I thought he would live forever, and even though he was in his 80s, he died way too early. He was so much fun -- great to talk to, so honest, so funny, so generous -- so good in every sense of the word. Working alongside his wonderful wife, Jane, Jack was the foundation of the Berkshires. No one ever asked the Fitzpatricks for help for a worthy cause and came away empty handed. Their generosity astounded me.

Jack told me about a couple of groups that had approached the "Fitzies" asking for help. He said he wasn't going to give them any money yet when the institutions opened, there on the wall was recognition of major support from Jack and Jane.

When I met Jack, he would inevitably say in that great drawl of his, "You know, I hear you on the radio and I've seen you on the television and I read you in the papers and you're just beginning to get it right." I would always crack up. I can't tell you how many words I've written about Jack over the years, but trust me, it's been a lot.

I have always said that the Red Lion Inn is the vortex of the Berkshires. When your relatives come to town, you had just better take them to the historical and beautiful Red Lion. Every time we've had a fund drive on WAMC, Jack and Jane -- and now the wonderful Nancy (their daughter) -- have been there, contributing a weekend or a stay at their Red Lion. Over the years, they have sponsored the Tanglewood concerts that the station plays.

One night a year or so ago on a particular July 25, Roselle asked me where I wanted to go and I said the Red Lion. So we went in and sat down, and on the way in we passed Senator and Mrs. Fitzpatrick and stopped for a moment to say hello. We mentioned my birthday and we sat down in the dining room.

I suppose it was just a sign of their way of treating everyone, but complimentary drinks showed up and after dinner, there was a small birthday cake. I turned around and Jack and Jane were sitting a table away, watching.

There was the requisite "Happy Birthday," and when the singing stopped, Arlo Guthrie's wife, Jackie, came running in from the Widow Bingham Bar and excitedly told us that she knew it was me. That's because we share a birthday. So she went back and brought Arlo in, and I led him over to the Fitzies, forgetting for a moment that Alice's Restaurant was all about Stockbridge.

Apparently, they hadn't seen each other for a while and you could see the love between the two men. The next day, I got a phone call saying how much Jack appreciated that very small and inconsequential act of making the reunion happen. That's just the way these people are.

Jack was a superb political practitioner. He'll always be the "Senator" to me. He trained generations of Republicans who took up where he left off. One of them, Jane Swift, rose to be governor.

There are thousands of Jack Fitzpatrick stories. Everybody has one. His loyalty to Jane and their kids was legendary. I am one who believes in character. Jack was one and is one. He treated his employees the way all bosses ought to treat the people who work for them, and they loved him for it. Some people leave a legacy behind, and in his case he has left an idea of what we humans can become. This world would be a lot better if we could all be more like Jack Fitzpatrick.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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"Time to pay attention and be demanding"
By Alan Chartock, Special to The Berkshire Eagle, August 13, 2011
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

On a recent Vox Pop program on WAMC, someone called in and asked when America might see a version of an Arab spring in which the citizens took to the streets and refused to move until things got better.

In Great Britain, the streets have been burning. Let's face it, the Brits have been a lot more fair than we have. They have a national health service and their welfare system has been a lot more extensive than what we provide. Yet when that country tries to downsize their welfare mentality, the streets are set on fire.

Could the same thing happen here?

My bet is that it couldn't, but if things get a lot worse, all bets are off. That's why FDR was such a genius. Following the Great Depression, he set a baseline for how low Americans would be allowed to sink. He had to really worry about the communists and the fascists who were making great hay based on the suffering of the people.

For his efforts, he was called a "traitor to his class." In fact, he saved his class. Among his greatest achievements was the Social Security program that has offered some home to those who pay in and then take out when they get to their old age. I could paint you a pretty scary picture in which Social Security and Medicare as we know them could disappear.

Unfortunately, the folks who sit at the top want it all. They've got all the health care and government handouts that they can use. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Take a look at the history of the world. Total greed and the lack of interest in sharing has brought down many regimes.

We do know that the wealth gap between those with the most and the rest of the country has never been greater. We do know that many of those who earn the most in this country have rigged the tax system to the point that they have so many deductions that some of them pay little or no taxes at all.

President Obama is sitting in a tough spot. Ask yourself this: How would you vote if you were a middle-class American out of work? Despite the fact that George Bush and his cronies brought us to where we are, the guy in the barrel just knows that he or she is hurting so they will vote for anyone else, even if the people they are voting for are agents of those that are antithetical to their interests.

To make it worse, if Obama loses, there is every good chance that the Democrats will lose the Senate. That will mean that the Republicans will own it all: the House, the Senate, the presidency, and of course, the present Republican Supreme Court. At that point, you had better believe that these same people will change Social Security as we know it and ditto Medicare. How do we know that? We know it because they have been trying to do it for years.

In Great Britain, the streets are on fire. In the United Sates, we have had such riots in the past, but such revolution would be met with overpowering force. The problem with an Arab Spring and all the other protests of the kind is that a lot of people are out there -- many of them diverse -- and when the smoke clears, a Joe Stalin or a Hitler could be standing there.

The solution is to do our homework and make vocal demands and use democracy as a tool. We can't opt out. The problem is that we are a lazy people and easily duped. We have just got to concentrate on what is good for all the people, especially the American middle class; provide access to it and make this a fairer place to live. If we do that, we won't ever have an American Spring.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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"After 9/11, decisions had to be made"
By Alan Chartock, Special to The Berkshire Eagle, September 10, 2011

On September 11, 2001 a bunch of mad zealots flew planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and tried to take out the Congress. More than 3,000 people died. The country mobilized as if it were at war and, as in the case of the Civil War and the First and Second World Wars, the rules were suspended. Lincoln froze Habeas Corpus and George Bush and the Congress passed something called the Patriot Act. All of a sudden we had secret courts and we were interrogating suspects with what could only be called torture.

We moved people to a place called Guantanamo.

There were a few innocents who were hauled in but when you give citizens a chance to protect their families and themselves, for the most part, they will take the protection and take risk the possibility of wrongful detentions. As Casey Stengel once said, "You could look it up." Nearly every dictatorship that has ever been established, often with popular support, was done so in the name of protecting the people.

By the time some of these dictatorships crumbled, people understood that they were far better protected by the rule of law which gave them a right to a lawyer and to courts and to free and open trials.

Make no mistake about it: when citizens are threatened they will demand protection and in times of crisis, good people with names like Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt will do what they must in order to give the people the protection they deserve. They will put innocent Japanese-American people in camps. They will drop bombs so that a Pearl Harbor could never happen again and when a bunch of thugs fly planes into buildings and murder innocent civilians, they will suffer swift and deadly retribution.

Here at home, it meant the end of innocence and some new rules.

According to recent polls, we Americans have no problem with television surveillance cameras being posted on every block. Where freedom is concerned, decisions must be made. So what if a camera picks up a guy walking with someone who is not his wife? That's his problem. If the same camera helps the police track down a mugger, that's good. However, when the pollsters asked whether the authorities should be allowed to examine our internet transmissions as they attempt to thwart terrorism, the American people made it clear that they don't like Big Brother looking in. We are a pretty smart group of people. We applauded "America's Mayor," Rudy Giuliani, for calling an end to the crime game in New York City, but when he ran for president the New Yorkers in Miami who applauded his tough ways in New York didn't vote for him in large enough numbers. His "Florida strategy" didn't work out. The expatriot New Yorkers didn't like some of the people he hung around with, like the infamous Bernie Kerik who he wanted to be the head of U. S. Homeland Security. Kerik almost got there and if Giuliani is going to run for vice president on the Republican ticket, you had better believe that Kerik will hang heavily around the former mayor's neck.

There are a handful of people who regularly call in to the radio station and tell me that 9/11 was an inside job perpetrated by the people who deprive us of our civil liberties.

That's crazy, of course, but don't let anyone think that, Plunkitt's "I seen my opportunities and I took 'em," isn't at play here. If we don't watch ourselves when terrible situations like 9/11 take place, you had better believe that we might see our basic rights stripped away. Osama got shot in the head. He deserved it but he sure didn't get a trial. 9/11 was a terrible thing and we lost a lot of wonderful people who should still be with us, but let's all keep our eyes on the ball.

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"Will Warren keep up her momentum?"
By Alan Chartock, Special to The Berkshire Eagle, October 15, 2011
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

The race for Scott Brown’s U.S. Senate in Massachusetts is on, big time. Bay State voters are overwhelmingly Democratic but every once in a while they hold their collective noses and refuse to do what is expected of them. In that, they are not unlike their neighbors in nearby New York (also a Democratic state) who have a penchant for electing a Republican when the stench of politics gets too pungent.

The seat once held by the lion of the Senate, Ted Kennedy, was won by Scott Brown, an unknown, sometimes moderate Republican, when the Democratic candidate, Attorney General Martha Coakley, didn’t show the required charisma to grab the seat. Coakley is a very good attorney general but didn’t have the pizzazz to beat Brown.

Now Brown is running for his life and is going to be tough to beat. As I write this, he is one of -- if not the -- most popular politicians in the commonwealth. To win the seat back, the Democrats are going to have to fight like hell.

The Democrats will probably nominate Harvard Professor and Barack Obama favorite Elizabeth Warren, who is responsible for putting together a consumer protection agency for the president. She will be opposed in what promises to be a bruising September primary by a host of other Democrats who want the job. Warren is a woman, and as the New York Times has pointed out, voters in Massachusetts have had a bad history when it comes to electing women to high political office (so much for our reputation as a liberal, progressive state).

There will be seats other than the U.S. Senate on the 2012 ballot in Massachusetts. As everyone knows, the top political prize in the country will lead the ballot. With the presidency up for grabs, Obama will certainly win big in the state where he was once endorsed by Ted Kennedy. Elections are won or lost by something called turnout and the presidential election is the most well-attended.

Unlike Republicans, who often vote in larger numbers, the Democrats are hard to get to the polls, but that’s not the case during a presidential election. Brown has to worry about all those Democrats who might -- will most likely -- vote for a Democrat as they look down the ballot.

For his part, Brown is running around Massachusetts staying to a script which revolves around a single word: "jobs." Thanks in large part to a brilliant governor, as well as being in the right place at the right time, the commonwealth is doing relatively well when it comes to jobs and unemployment.

Brown’s people have undoubtedly been polling and finding out that when they ask people to name the No. 1 problem in America, their answer is "jobs."

Obama has snookered the Republicans in the Senate into voting against his jobs bill. He will be running his national campaign on that issue, and Brown will have to break with his party on their resistance to the Obama plan. Obviously, he will be loathe to do that. There is no chance that Obama will lose Massachusetts, and his presence on the ballot will be a huge help for the Democratic candidate, who will probably be Elizabeth Warren.

For her part, Warren has to get through the difficult primary against a host of largely unknown candidates who run the political spectrum. Barring a meltdown, she will get the nomination. Once that’s accomplished, she will have to work her guts out. In Massachusetts, we like politicians who connect. Teddy Kennedy knew how to do that, but the jury is still out as to whether Warren can meet with the people and inspire the loyalty of a Kennedy. She has a real shot, but in this state charisma counts for a lot.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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"Bianchi has a tough assignment"
By Alan Chartock, Special to The Berkshire Eagle, November 12, 2011
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

Two important events in the timeline of our Berkshire politics have occurred: Dan Bianchi won the mayoral election in Pittsfield, and the Congressional lines have been redrawn.

Bianchi, who has been playing the part of the opposition, will now have to switch from the role of outsider to that of a responsible incumbent. Now he will be accountable for policy outcomes. He may find that's not so easy. It's always easy to kick down the barn, but putting one up is a bit harder.

The outgoing Jim Ruberto was a superb mayor. He was right not to run again. This hard worker gave it his all and he deserves everyone's appreciation. He put Pittsfield on the map. Under his watch, the North Street revitalization and the Pittsfield arts renaissance have been nothing short of miraculous. As usual, the cowardly anonymous bloggers have done their best to bloody the man. The loss of his beautiful wife took its toll on him, and all we can do now is say "Thank you."

As for Bianchi, he is right to target Pittsfield's crime problem. The beautiful little city does have too much crime.

Bianchi has an opportunity to do for Pittsfield what Rudy Giuliani did in New York City. One idea he can borrow from New York is the monitoring of quality-of-life crimes. When arrests are made for even minor crimes, there seems to be an attendant drop in major crimes. The theory is that those who are doing non-violent crimes like graffiti and public urination are also the ones who do the bigger crimes.

One thing is for sure: When crooks of any stripe see that the powers-that-be are intent on apprehending and prosecuting wrongdoers, they will go to safer venues. It is quite clear that when the heat went up in New York City, some of the gang members and their allies started looking for safer climes.

If Bianchi can deliver, he'll be a hero. He will win the hearts of the very neighborhoods that he is so fond of talking about. But if Bianchi starts to threaten the existence of the good theater and restaurant rejuvenation of North Street, he will be creating a base of opposition that will surely spell his political doom.

After years of speculation, the Legislature has finally come forth with its congressional redistricting plan. The bad news is that our current district is being split in two, with our cousins in Northampton and Amherst going to the Worcester district and the rest being attached to Springfield.

While that might have been horrifying if the Springfield Congressman was some bum, the good news is that we get the remarkable Richard "Richie" Neal, who is just about the best that Congress has to offer. He is bright, articulate, and a born teacher who knows how to communicate the issues.

Additionally, he's an all-around great human being. He's been a regular guest on WAMC's Congressional Corner for years, and I am always blown away by the quality of the man's mind. As long as Richie runs for Congress, our towns and Pittsfield will have great representation. I can guarantee you that he will come around and be a fixture in our communities.

Finally, earlier this week, the tiny Great Barrington Jewish congregation Ahavath Shalom filled the Founders Theatre at Shakespeare and Company in an anniversary commemoration of the Kristallnacht, the state-sanctioned Nazi pogrom considered by many to be the beginning of the Holocaust.

Four speakers, survivors, kept the huge interfaith crowd glued to their seats as they told of the unspeakable horrors that they, their families and their friends had to endure. To the question raised so often -- "Can it happen again?" -- let no one think that it can't. The only answer is eternal vigilance. Congratulations to the little congregation that could.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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"Primed and ready for the Dem. primary"
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, berkshireeagle.com - May 19, 2012
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

Here comes the September 6th 1st district Democratic congressional primary.

I have interviewed all of the candidates and find them to be civil and decent men. Andrea Nuciforo is a nice man who has made a series of decisions that may not serve him well. As a politician, he follows in the footsteps of his late father who was a revered figure in the Berkshires as a senator and a judge.

When his father died, young Andrea took up the profession and acquitted himself well in the Senate, where he rose to important, influential positions. He was good at raising money and had no trouble repeatedly winning reelection. It was certainly not a secret that he wanted to go to Congress, and everyone knew that when popular liberal Congressmen John Olver retired, the ambitious Nuciforo would run.

Maybe it was the trip from Boston, which can be wearing, or maybe it was some other personal reason, but Nuciforo decided to ditch the Senate seat and take the Register of Deeds position. In doing so, he frustrated the aspirations of two talented women who were vying for the seat. That caused some residual resentment. Some people saw the registrar position as a jumping off post for his run for Congress. With his name and background, it was no contest. He won big.

The registrar job paid well and allowed him to continue to engage in his law practice. However, his ambition may have gotten the better of him when he announced that whether or not Olver retired, he would run for the politically sainted Olver's seat. That may have been his biggest mistake.

No sooner did the primary field begin to take shape than the popular Olver anointed his colleague, the brilliant Richie Neal from Springfield, as his preferred successor. In fact, Olver, maybe one of the most liberal members of the House, and Richie Neal are classic economic liberals. The two districts differed and so did some of the policy positions on the tough social issues. Neal has always represented the announced interest of his largely blue collar constituency.

Obviously, the Olver endorsement puts Nuciforo at a disadvantage. When the liberal congressman announces that there is virtually no difference on the major issues between him and Neal, it is a huge boost to the Neal candidacy. Nuciforo has been saying that since voter turnout is greater in the Berkshires than in the old Springfield district, but that assumes he'll get all the Berkshire votes. He will not.

To make things even worse for Nuciforo, a third candidate -- Bill Shein -- entered the race, splitting the Berkshire voting bloc even more. Shein is a classic progressive and has an attractive message. His message is "enough!" Shein has been energetic and worked hard to get his message out, putting an absolute cap on how much money he is willing to take from contributors.

Richie Neal is one of the most intelligent, articulate politicians I have ever met or known. He is one of the most influential and powerful politicians in the Congress and there is a real possibility that the House goes Democratic this year that he will become the chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee and will be able to do wonderful things for the First District which can use all the help it can get. I admit that I really like Neal as a human being. I always look forward to my conversations with him. He has a firm grip on history. He uses his talents as a former teacher to help all of us make sense out of very complicated issues. Maybe I haven't got this right, but my bet is that Richie Neal will be our next congressman. In any case we are being treated to a rare glimpse of American Democracy at work, and we do have some real choices to make.

Alan Chartock, A Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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"Chartock: Neal set for victory"
By Alan Chartock, Special to The Berkshire Eagle, September 1, 2012
GREAT BARRINGTON

Richie Neal is going to win his primary against Andrea Nuciforo Jr. and Bill Shein. Neal has a great deal going for him. He is articulate, brilliant, the heart of the Democratic Party in Congress and he has the ability to really bring home the bacon for his new district. There is a good chance that he may even ascend to the chairmanship of the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

His two opponents are both good men. Nuciforo made a strategic mistake when he challenged one of the most liberal members of Congress, the current 1st Con gressional District U.S. Rep. John Olver, two years in advance. Not surprisingly, after announcing he wouldn’t seek re-election, Olver endorsed Richie Neal, saying that on the issues, there was no difference between himself and Neal.

Despite having worked hard, Nuciforo hasn’t been able to make significant progress in the more populated portion of the district around Springfield while voters there know Neal well.

Neal was the mayor of Spring field and has taught journalism at UMass-Amherst for years. He has appeared on WAMC regularly, and I have gotten to know him and respect his views. He pushed hard to keep the United States involved in the Ireland peace process, serves as president of the Friends of Ireland in the House and knows more about Ireland than anyone I know.

Nuciforo, who I have always considered a friend, has not made the case for his promotion to Congress. He stunned a lot of people when he ran for Middle Berkshire register of deeds, which many felt was a step down from his position as state senator. As a register, he was also allowed to keep practicing law.

Andrea’s father was a respected state senator and judge and many people still remember him fondly. As the years have passed, however, that name association no longer brings with it the same rewards it once did. Fewer people remember his late father, a wonderful man and a scion of the old Berkshires.

Things have changed, as evidenced by the fact that while Republican Silvio O. Conte represented us in Congress for many years, this year, there isn’t a Republican in sight.

Proving that in this election is Democrat Bill Shein, the writer, activist and humorist. He has added a great deal to this race. In fact, there is the possibility that he may actually out-poll Nuciforo. That would certainly be a shock. Shein’s motto is "Enough!" When it comes to his positions on most of the issues, he simply can’t be beat.

If Barack Obama had more of Shein and less compromise in his position, he would not have to work so hard to motivate his base. You name the issue and Shein is where he ought to be, whether it’s universal health care or the insidious relationship of money and politics.

There is a distinct possibility that Shein will carry the Hill in Great Barrington where you can see one sign after another in front of many of the tony houses. Shein has a brilliant future in politics and will clearly be in a position to run for office again when something opens up.

I have always understood that the most important quality in any candidate for elected office is character. It is much more than simply articulating positions.

When making choices, we need to examine what a person has accomplished. When you look at Elizabeth Warren, you see a woman who really may crack the glass ceiling and who deserves to represent this state that has never had a female U.S. senator. I’ll vote for her and for Richie Neal.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio.

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"Solid support for removing O'Donnell"
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, September 29, 2012
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

The Great Barrington Select Board has declined to renew the contract of Town Manager Kevin O’Donnell. They have done the right thing.

Great Barrington also did the right thing when it opted for a town manager form of government, a decision which I supported. Under this plan, the Select Board, one of the best in years, is supposed to set policy (broadly defined) and the manager is supposed to implement that policy. Sometimes that line can get blurred.

Those of us who live on Great Barrington’s Hill have been yelling for months about drivers speeding up Hollenbeck Avenue at 45 and 50 mph. A single patrol car parked on Sumner Street would put an end to that, pronto. I know for a fact the town manager has been asked to make that happen, but I’ve never seen one there.

We have a very large, tax-supported police force. You would think that there would always be a foot patrolman in town during the busiest nighttime hours, particularly in light of the town’s past history with drug dealers. I’ve seen a cop or two on some nights, but for the most part, it just hasn’t happened. If a policy is set by the Selectmen to have an officer in the town, it seems as though that’s what should happen. If the town manager views every request by the Select Board as a threat to his own powers, he doesn’t understand the way it works. The board is his boss and he needs to respect the feedback that the members of that board get from citizens.

*

The town of Great Barrington has been pretty unhappy about the way the Main Street reconstruction plan has been implemented. I know for a fact that some members of the Board of Selectmen were not privy to all the details. And when they finally did find out and objected, they were told "it’s too late." A good town manager or superintendent of schools like Peter Dillon knows how to keep his board close rather than in the dark. A bad one always sees everything as a contest of wills. The fact that the town has been torn asunder over Main Street reconstruction, the deployment of the police department and the sale of the old firehouse is a pretty good indicator about the lack of communication between the board and the manager.

Communication is the issue. There have been complaints about the way O’Donnell has spoken down to people who have gripes. Communicating with the board and the public are two components of the manager’s job. If the manager can’t communicate, well, "Next!"

O’Donnell has done a number of good things. He introduced a new budgeting system that has served the town well. The aforementioned Great Barrington Police Department is not as out of control as it once was. But the Select Board is correct to ask that the manager fulfills its expectations. O’Donnell has not done so and they will now find someone who will.

*

On yet another matter, a very ambitious man named Lee Scott Laugenour has decided to run for the Massachusetts House of Representatives on the Green Rainbow Party line against one of my greatest heroes, William "Smitty" Pignatelli.

I have known a lot of politicians in my time and Smitty is right at the top of the list. He has always been there for his constituents. He has fought tooth and nail to get everything that he can for our towns, cities, villages and cultural institutions.

I am sure that Laugenour has been heartened by the showing for progressive Bill Shein in some of the towns that will vote in this election, but Smitty cleaned his clock the last time out and will do so again. Too many of us owe too much to Smitty to desert him now. He’s earned our support.

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Alan Chartock: "For Seeger, benefit tinged with emotion"
By Alan Chartock, Special to The Berkshire Eagle, 8/17/2013
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

In a few weeks, Pete Seeger will continue his tradition of helping his public radio station, WAMC. This incredibly generous 95-year-old, best-of-the-best hero will be heading back to Peekskill, N.Y., on Sunday, Sept. 8th at 1 p.m. for a sold-out concert to benefit the station. Of course, Pete can sell out any venue, but this concert is special.

In 1949, Pete, his family and Paul Robeson headed for the fairgrounds just outside Peekskill to do a performance. In the car were Pete, his wife, Toshi and their young children, Woody Guthrie and Lee Hays. When they arrived, they were greeted by a gang of rowdy thugs armed with rocks and far worse. They felt so threatened that the concert had to be postponed. They were called communists. There were anti-Semitic slurs. They were the recipients of vile epithets. Worse than all that, the police just looked on and, Pete says, encouraged the mob. Pete and Robeson did perform a short while later but until now, Pete has never returned to nearby Peekskill to play. This is a man who holds his emotions in check but to put it mildly, Pete is emotional about this concert.

This performance has an even greater meaning for all of us who love Pete. His life’s companion, Toshi, who Pete recently described as "the smart one in the family," has passed on. I am told by a good friend of the Seegers that shortly before her death, Toshi was so excited about this concert that she started to suggest some meaningful songs that Pete could include. Toshi was a true partner to Pete. When the government thugs came after him and arrested him for defying HUAC, the House Un-American Activities Committee (even the name makes me shudder), she was there alongside him and quipped that he should have stayed in jail longer than the few hours he was kept in a cell. Now Pete’s daughter, Tinya, has been doing much of what her mom did, helping Pete to keep up his work.

Pete has powerful feelings about right and wrong and this country has not had a more important environmental steward. He was an icon of the civil rights movement, placing himself in one dangerous situation after another in order to protest racist brutality. He is both generous and humble.

Probably the best night of my life was the night Pete brought his whole crew to our house after playing at the Mahaiwe and stayed there while the younger members went to play Club Helsinki which was then in Great Barrington. I was to introduce my hero at the sold-out show and just before I got up to do that, I was told by his grandson, Tao, that Pete wanted me to "keep it short."

I’ll be doing it again in Peekskill and, ever mindful of my instructions, I am collecting my words. Surely we will dedicate this concert to Toshi. Surely we will mention what the "Return to Peekskill" means. Surely we will thank Pete for all he has done for WAMC. Of course, words are inadequate to express what Pete has meant to me and to so many of you who have flooded me with your own remembrances of him. Everyone has a Pete story.

Pete knows that we all make mistakes. When actor/folk singer Burl Ives died, Pete was called by public radio and asked to speak about the man who "named" him before the HUAC witch hunters. The words that caused my tears that day were something like, "He forgave me my mistakes and I forgave him his." Pete said that when he saw Ives a few years back, they embraced.

Final words: there is no one better than Pete.

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"There will never be another Pete"
By Alan Chartock, Special to The Berkshire Eagle, 2/1/2014

GREAT BARRINGTON -- Pete Seeger is gone. I first met him at Buck’s Rock Work Camp when I was 14. He was standing on the big cement porch, surrounded by kids. After hearing him, nothing was the same. He was my lifelong hero. I had few others. I wasn’t alone -- many of you first heard Pete at camp or school. That’s how he made his living during the time he was blacklisted.

I’d borrow The Weavers at Carnegie Hall and The Weavers on Tour from the Donnell Library and listen until I knew every song by heart. I learned how to play the banjo from Pete’s "How to Play the Five String Banjo" book. I literally dreamed about meeting my hero one day. Once as a college student, a famous critic wrote a lousy review of a Pete concert in the Times and I wrote a letter of complaint to the editor. I received a note from the writer but I blew my gut because they had not printed my letter.

As a teenager, I would write Pete letters and either he or his wonderful wife Toshi would always respond. When I worked as a music counselor at the Bronx House Camps in nearby Copake, I would sing Pete’s songs. I remember taking a day off to return to the Ocean Beach Fire Island Youth Group where I would play banjo with some friends for the kids there. One of them, Bobo Peck, told me of taking Pete out for a sail and telling him the story of how I had changed Pete’s song "Abiyoyo" and made up a whole different story. When I picked up my copy of Sing Out! Magazine I was astounded to find that Pete had written a whole column about how I had changed the song around. It truly didn’t get any better than that. He called it the "folk process" and while he didn’t know or use my name, it was me all right. Years later when I first met Pete I told him that he once wrote an article about me in Sing Out! and without hesitation he said, "You’re the guy." I couldn’t believe it.

Naturally, I went to every Pete concert I could. They would put a little notice in the paper and a few days later every seat was gone.

WAMC’s "very fund drive" featured one Pete song after another. When things got slow we would play, "We Shall Overcome," or "Bring Them Home." And then we got really lucky. In 2002, we called Pete and he agreed to sit down to talk about his life. We offered that recording as a premium and the rest is history. By the time we were through, we had a series of six tapes that have brought tens of thousands of dollars into the station. He was so modest. When I told him, how much money had come into the station he couldn’t believe it. "All that money," he said.

Maybe a year ago I had a call from Pete’s collaborator, Lorre Wyatt, who said, "Pete wants to do something for WAMC" and that led to one of his last concerts. It was the first time Pete had been back musically to Peekskill, N.Y., where he and Paul Robeson had been attacked as police looked on and did nothing.

Well into his 90s, Pete could be seen out on his land, chopping wood. One day Lorre Wyatt came into the station and handed me a log. "Pete told me to give you this," said Lorre. I looked at the wood which is standing on a table in the middle of my office. On it is written, "To Alan and our extended WAMC family. Together we will keep the flame alive." Pete signed it with his name and the little banjo he always signed with. I am grieving. There will never be another Pete.

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"Actor's death puts spotlight on addictions"
By Alan Chartock, Special to The Berkshire Eagle, 2/8/2014

GREAT BARRINGTON -- I once interviewed a man named Harold Leventhal. Leventhal was a brilliant guy who managed the Weavers and, if the truth be told, was the single major force responsible for bringing Pete Seeger back into public life after he was blacklisted during the great Red Scare.

Leventhal told me that he had been approached by great musicians like Johnny Cash, asking him to manage their careers. He turned them down because of their drug addictions.

When a talented, sensitive actor like Philip Seymour Hoffman dies in his 40s with a syringe in his arm and an apartment full of drugs, do we feel badly for him? Do we ache for his family? Do we feel compassion and loss?

Everyone will have their own answer but for me, the answer is yes, I do. After all, addiction is an illness, a very cruel illness. Knowing all we do about heroin and the other drugs, it’s a wonder that anybody is foolish enough to go there in the first place.

But there are lots of reasons why people do self-destructive things. Sometimes it’s just plain arrogance. They think that they can beat the odds and it won’t happen to them. Some of these people start out just looking for thrills and by the time they realize they are addicts and need to turn things around, it’s too late. Sometimes they are running from something that is so troubling and painful they simply can’t face their lives with a clear head.

Think of all we know about the dangers of cigarettes: Smoking leads to lung cancer, heart disease, and everything else under the sun. Yet, cigarettes are readily available in stores all over our towns and villages. Heroin, of course, is against the law but cigarettes and alcohol are not.

So, when a friend or loved one dies of lung cancer, do we hate them for their addiction and for killing themselves? Because, let there be no mistake about it, they have indeed killed themselves.

Of course we don’t. We mourn them and grieve for them. We wish that there was something we could have done to help. We know that some of the brightest, most talented people in the world are, because of their psychological make-up, unable to resist the temptation of addictive substances. In many cases, they have everything to live for including their families and their work.

So what can we do? Arranged interventions sometimes help an addict recognize that they need help. Sometimes experts can help, people like Dr. Jennifer Michaels of the Brien Center in Pittsfield. Some folks have incredible success with 12-step programs and support groups that have been established to help addicts.

Many years ago when I was doing my Ph.D. in mental health politics, I was assigned to go out to a famous drug addiction rehab center in Staten Island. At the time, that institution believed that you had to start all over in life to ditch the addiction. I remember being horrified that some of these people were put in diapers and made to sit on stools wearing dunce caps.

We now have a major movement in this country to legalize marijuana. There are experts in the addiction field who will tell you that marijuana is a gateway drug to more dangerous narcotics. I am sure that with some people that is true. Did our famous actor start out with pot? How many other people have?

Yet there are many who never went beyond recreational use of marijuana. One might also make a connection between cigarette smoking and drug addiction or alcohol use.

It’s all pretty complicated. As the science advances we’ll probably find ways to make it easier to quit. All I know is that a brilliant actor has died. He knew he had a problem. He was battling it but in the end, it beat him. So sad.

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"Leveling the playing field for justice"
By Alan Chartock, Special to The Berkshire Eagle, 3/1/2014
GREAT BARRINGTON

Can you imagine having no money and then being swindled by a businessman or a flat-out crook who takes advantage of your situation? It happens all the time. It may have happened to you. It is easy to yell, "I’ll sue," but as anyone who has been around the block a few times knows, that legal action doesn’t come cheap. Most people don’t even know how to negotiate the system. That’s one of the reasons why we have a small claims court but even in that case, there can be obstacles and stumbling blocks. You have a much better chance to succeed with legal representation than by going it alone.

Into this scenario comes Eve Schatz, an attorney herself, who is trying to do something to even the playing field so that justice can be accorded to those who can’t afford it. Eve has established The Free Legal Clinic of South Berkshire County, Inc. The idea is to tap into the vast reserve of either practicing or non-practicing lawyers who want to give something back. In that, the organization is much like the wonderful Volunteers in Medicine.

It all began when Schatz, who says she thinks she was born to support the public interest, decided to do something about that commitment. She has always had an interest in fairness and justice. That interest, she says, was born partially in the ‘60s when she saw the Hartford riots and watched hippies being beaten up by police. She saw a society torn apart by the Vietnam war and she recognized the power of the people when they united with one voice. As a result, when she got to law school she directed her efforts toward helping those really in need. Before she went to law school she was a transition program provider at Housatonic Valley Regional High School where she helped students with disabilities.

When she got to the Berkshires, she came to recognize that there were many people here who were unable to pay for legal assistance. When she can, she directs clients to legal aid, but the people who come to The Free Legal Clinic often don’t meet the guidelines for legal aid and fall between the economic cracks.

Schatz says that in the seven years the Free Legal Clinic has been operating, "We’ve helped a thousand clients." She makes her living as a private attorney doing things like nonprofit law, wills and trusts and real estate law. It is clear that she is passionate about the Free Legal Clinic. But, as every not-for-profit in the Berkshires knows, the day-to-day operations of running an organization is no easy thing to accomplish. You need to rent a space and you need lots of dedicated volunteers. Eve singles out Terrance Cooney, Robin Zeamer, Susan Ketterman and her husband, John Clark. Clark went to law school but never practiced and doesn’t do law but helps in operations. They have made good use of interns including some from Simon’s Rock. Susan Solovay does the marketing for the group.

Schatz says that it costs about a $100,000 a year to run the organization ($90,000 of which comes in the form of "in-kind" donations). This year’s fundraising event will be a "Dance for Justice" combined with a silent auction from 6 to 10 p.m. on March 8 at Dewey Hall in Sheffield. The event will feature comedian T.A. Lewis and the incredible Wanda Houston. The music will be ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. She says that she’d love to find an angel who would help her cover the cost of the event. The goal is to raise $5,000.

Schatz says that she regularly reaches out to the legal community to take on cases and she has never been turned down. She says that they always seem happy to do it.

She really thinks that the Free Legal Clinic has made a difference in the Berkshires.

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I, Publius: "A cold, dead hand is still dead"
By Alan Chartock, Special to The Berkshire Eagle, 4/5/2014
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts

Some Americans really love their guns. In order to understand what is happening in this country, it is necessary to comprehend the salience of the gun issue to those who insist it is their right to keep and bear arms. You have to try to get inside their heads -- their way of thinking. Those in favor of gun ownership believe that there is safety in guns. If someone comes to their house and threatens them, they will be prepared. If someone attempts to rob them in the street, they will have a gun. If someone threatens to do bodily harm to a member of their family, they will be able to protect their loved one. Guns are recreational and can offer a way to unwind. Guns stand between individuals and their government who would harm them. Guns are constitutional, backed up by the most important set of rules we have and affirmed by the Supreme Court. As I have often said, if you put a lie detector cuff on the arm of a passionate gun owner and asked him whether he believed all the arguments that appear above, he would say "yes." In most, but not all their cases, these folks truly believe what I have written.

No matter how many polls show that Americans think that there are too many guns on our streets, the gun rights folks really don’t believe in them. In the awful, senseless shooting that recently occurred at Fort Hood, some gun supporters will tell you that the problem was not too many guns but too few. They argue that if more people were carrying weapons, the moment a deranged man started firing, someone else would fire back and take him out. The concept of taking guns away from the population is perceived as patent nonsense; namby-pamby garbage that only misguided, silly people believe in. States like Florida that allow overzealous, sometimes racist people to "stand their ground" against a perceived threat are part of our jurisprudence.

Take the case of a child who, thinking a gun is a toy, injures or kills himself or a friend. I can say there are just too many guns and you might argue that the gun should have been under lock and key and the real guilty parties are the parents who didn’t see to it that the guns were stored away. We may argue that we don’t need assault rifles, and the gun enthusiasts respond that if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

It is terribly important to remember that the people who own guns really believe in what they are saying. You can intellectualize and argue with them and tell them they are wrong until doomsday and they will think that you are misguided and dangerous. While polls show that Americans want gun control, always try to remember that most Americans have other concerns that are at least as important to them as guns. Many, if not most, gun owners will see this issue as number one on their political priority list. They will rally in front of state capitols; they will run to the polls and vote for or against a candidate on this number one issue. While no one wants to admit it, guns are part of the ideological fabric that makes up the great conservative wing of thought in this country. To the gun control folks, all that stands between them and chaos is their weapon.

When we get politicians like Andrew Cuomo on this issue, they become public enemies to the Second Amendment folks. No matter how many tragedies we witness, how many children we bury, and how many communities are destroyed, the gun lobby has a mindset that will not be changed. It really doesn’t matter what I think. I just find it very dangerous and very sad.

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"Megan Whilden will develop new, exciting ideas for OLLI"
By Alan Chartock, Special to The Berkshire Eagle, 4/19/2014

Cultural head Whilden leaving

Megan Whilden has no bigger fan than me. From the beginning, she has worked tirelessly to make sure that all the arts were well represented in Pittsfield, a town that dearly needed her talents and abilities.

Her accomplishments are many and to say she was underpaid is an understatement. The city certainly benefited from Megan’s efforts.

Former Mayor Jim Ruberto was a champion of Megan’s. When he left office, I feared that his successor, Daniel Bianchi, would hire someone without Whilden’s drive and dedication, especially to the downtown arts scene. In truth, Bianchi deserves credit for understanding the relationship between the arts and a positive business climate in Pittsfield.

Now, Megan is moving to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, an organization doing magnificent work offering our senior citizens course work and lectures of the first order.

This mini-university is one of the greatest things about the Berkshires. Megan will be the CEO, and I am betting she not only will maintain their usual standards, but she’ll come up with new and exciting ideas for the group.

While we are on the subject, a congratulatory note is in order to the outgoing OLLI CEO, Barbara Hochberg and to Ellen Kennedy, the first class leader of Berkshire Community College, one of the most important institutions of higher education in our region. BCC will continue to host OLLI.

Positive developments in North Adams

There has been a lot of work going on to ensure continued health care in North Adams. David Phelps, the hard working and bright president of Berkshire Health Systems, played his cards carefully. He surely could not assume the million of dollars of North Adams Regional Hospital debt. The problem is that, theoretically, creditors have first dibs on the hospital’s assets. That’s why it was so important all the top players got together to make a plan work. The most important part of the plan, of course, is the emergency room. There are just a few minutes between the onset of a heart attack and death. It would take too long to get to Pittsfield for help, so there has to be an emergency center. Ditto the time it can take to have a baby. I have been impressed by the herd of political cats that seem to have risen above their own short-range interests to keep North Adams healthy. Surely, some people will want to hold someone responsible for the hospital closing but the main thing is to move forward and make a new plan work.

Let’s face facts. This hospital has struggled for the last decade. In the end, health care needs to be dependable, accessible and sustainable in this new governmental reimbursement environment. Medicine today is not for the faint of heart. We are lucky to have a governor, a state senator and an attorney general, among many others, who give a damn.

NYPD ends Muslim surveillance

Let’s face it, we all want maximum freedom and, perhaps even more, we want to be safe and secure.

A while back, right down the block from WAMC in Albany, a Muslim Imam was arrested for alleged involvement in the sale of a Stinger missile to an undercover agent. If everyone was to be believed, it would appear the undercover work paid dividends. On the other hand, I’m Jewish, so how would I feel if our government infiltrated Jewish groups because one guy had done something that was counter to the safety of our country? But, of course, with the recent NSA disclosures, this may be academic since it is possible we are all under some kind of surveillance. Does anyone really want to bet that even though the New York City Police Department may have disbanded the unit that was doing the Muslim surveillance, they are doing the same stuff some other way?

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast.

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"Theories on how Cantor lost race"
By Alan Chartock, Special to The Berkshire Eagle, 6/14/2014

GREAT BARRINGTON -- Eric Cantor, to everyone’s surprise, lost big in his race for yet another term. He was slated to be the first Jewish Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives when John Boehner retired.

He had raised millions of dollars from the usual sources and many, if not all of them, wanted something back from him. His hired pollsters had assured him that he was light years ahead of Dave Brat, his tea party opponent who had almost no money to run with. Brat did, however, have the support of a right wing nut fringe commentator of the usual stripe.

Additionally, the other conservative but not tea party folks have continued to win their primaries. Yet when the smoke cleared, Eric Cantor went down in flames by more than 10 points. No one really knows what happened but there are theories. Here are some of them.

All over the European Union and the United States, there is a terrible anti-immigrant sentiment. Nothing is older than the "us versus them" paradigm. Ever since the first cave men walked out of the bog, we’ve seen the "they’re not us -- get them" mentality. Dave Brat, who upended Cantor, understood that.

Without our immigrant population this country would be weaker, less productive and would have lots of jobs that, frankly, no one else would be willing to do. But both in the recent European parliamentary elections and in the Brat election, the immigration thing has developed real political legs.

We all know that President Barack Obama and the majority of the Democratic Party have been trying to develop a path to citizenship. The problem now with the Cantor loss is that the so-called "path" will now hit a roadblock and be stopped in its tracks. Every moderate and conservative Republican will be worrying about losing a primary to a conservative whack job if they do what they damned well know in their hearts is the right thing.

So, when those conservative Virginia voters went into the voting booth, they confounded the pollsters who told Cantor that he was 30 points ahead. They elected someone who was even more likely to take the most basic of benefits away from the poorest among us so that the richest could have even more.

Then there is what David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report (supposedly non- partisan) said was the invisible elephant in the room -- the fact that Cantor is Jewish. Astoundingly, Cantor is the ONLY Jewish Republican member of Congress.

We Americans have been trained not to appear prejudiced but all bets may be off in the sanctity of the voting booth. That’s why pollsters have to be very careful when they do their work on issues like gay rights or on ethnic divisions.

Of course, Cantor won many elections in the past -- eight to be exact, so it is hard to figure out why anti-Semitism would rear its ugly head now. Nevertheless, there are other know-nothing attitudes that frequently go along with ugliness toward immigrants. No doubt the sociologists will be scrutinizing this election very carefully once all the smoke clears.

WAMC’s Joe Donahue told us all a story the other day. He was recently in Washington and somehow managed to get in Cantor’s way. He was astounded when Cantor shouted, "Get out of my way, I’m important." Joe assured us that this was not kidding around stuff. I believe that a bully in one place will be a bully in others.

There are those who think that some Democrats "crossed over" to vote for the electorally vulnerable tea party candidate. That’s yet another possibility. Maybe it was a combination -- a perfect storm if you will -- but whatever it was, it happened. I don’t feel sorry for Eric Cantor. Unfortunately, like a bad penny, he’ll turn up again.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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"Poorest most easily hurt by casinos"
By Alan Chartock, Special to The Berkshire Eagle, 6/21/2014

GREAT BARRINGTON -- Sometimes when you buy something, you find out later that you made a mistake.

Unfortunately for you, you still own it. The rush to open casinos, both in the commonwealth and across the border in New York, is one good example. It is not surprising that both states’ governors, anxious to provide needed revenue support and not raise taxes, are encouraging developers to open multimillion-dollar gambling casinos. The thinking is that people are going to gamble anyway and it’s better to keep the valuable tax revenue here rather than watching it go to nearby states like Connecticut. Not only that, even if they don’t cross the state lines, people will find other, often illegal, ways to gamble. There have always been organized crime folks who are willing to take bets. When illegal gambling takes place, the ability to tax is gone.

However, there does seem to be some buyer’s remorse on the part of the voters. The people of Massachusetts said that they wanted casinos. Later, though, many people began to think about what they had voted for and had second thoughts. A major campaign was launched to have a second vote, otherwise known as a "do-over." In order to get such a proposition on the ballot, the state’s attorney general, Martha Coakley, would have had to sign off that the proposition met the necessary constitutional provisions. After examining the petition, which as of this writing has more than enough signatures to get it on the ballot, Coakley said no for a number of obscure reasons. The organizing group did not take no for an answer and has taken their case to court.

There are a lot of reasons why people don’t like casinos. They argue that it is not coincidental that the easiest places to put these emporiums are where the most economically challenged of us live. Localities like Springfield really need the tax money.

As a result, political leaders are more easily brought on board. Ironically, the people who are most likely to be hurt by gambling are our poorest citizens. Slot machines are, for some folks, the new crack cocaine. Vulnerable people will try anything to get out of their circumstances.

I know of one store in the WAMC neighborhood where people who can least afford to line up to spend hundreds of dollars on lottery tickets. To me, playing to this type of weakness makes no sense.

There is also some doubt as to whether the gambling casinos will actually bring with them the economic prosperity they promise. The casinos in Atlantic City and so many other places have not led to widespread community development. To the contrary, the people who run these places want to keep the business behind the casino barricades. People are unlikely to move outside the portals to go to the neighborhood pizza joint or any of the other businesses.

We are also hearing that a lot of casinos are being developed. The more of these places that are created, the more likely it is that there will not be enough customers to go around. There are already examples of casinos that are asking for public handouts to support them. That is the last thing that we need to happen.

Finally, there is the NIMBY syndrome. It is one thing to conceptually support the concept of gambling. It is another when there is a proposal to bring it to your town, city or village.

Years ago, when someone suggested bringing a correctional facility to our area, the line formed at the rear for all those opposing the idea. They argued that a prison would harm our tourist industry, our quality of life, and our cultural institutions. I never like to split with my governor who I so admire but in this case, I just don’t see it. Once casinos are here, it is unlikely that they will go away any time soon.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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"Feckless Democrats must learn to stand up to bullies"
By Alan Chartock, The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, 12/05/2014

GREAT BARRINGTON - Deval Patrick made news this weekend when he said on television that the Democratic Party would win elections if they only had more backbone. He is spot on.

The last time around, the flaccid Democrats allowed the Republicans to grab the narrative. They said "Obamacare" so many times and with such scorn that people began to believe that this program, which has done so much for so many Americans, was the bogeyman. It's simple Propaganda 101. You say it often enough and people begin to believe it, whether it's true or not.

Look, we have a relatively healthy economy, we are paying down the national debt and we are out of the banking crisis that the Republicans got us into. People are back to work. But the feckless Democrats who were running for office didn't want Obama anywhere near their elections. As a result, they lost, with the exception of the governor of Connecticut who invited the President in and won. The losers had no counter-message and they were afraid to yell at the top of their lungs, "Look at all the good things this President has done." Instead, they were literally bullied. It was disgusting.

Bad winners

Of course, there were other factors. It was an off-year election and the Democrats who come out in a presidential election didn't vote. In the end, people don't want to elect political cowards. The Democrats should have learned a lesson. They don't seem to get it and the Republicans who won this round are displaying a political arrogance seldom seen. They are, in a few words, bad winners. But bad winners often get what they deserve. Obama won in two elections and now they are acting like that never happened.

They are defying the president on a reasonable immigration plan. We all have friends and neighbors who are living in fear of their lives and those of their children. We have created a segregated society that is divided between those who are legal and those who are not. The people in the second category can be exploited and that is the new American slavery.

But these folks in Congress who don't want to find a solution to the immigration problem are alienating all the voting citizens of Hispanic descent in this country. Sooner or later, they will have to pay the political piper. All the gerrymandering in the world won't save them from this purposeful shaming of an entire community.

Right of center

Look, this is a very conservative country. I understand it. The middle class has a choice. They can make common cause with those who have less than they do or they can join electoral forces with the One Percenters who own most of the country and who seem unwilling to share. We call these people "aspirationals." They think that if they play their cards right, they too will make it to the One Percent. They also think they'll win the lottery. They resent the people below them on the economic ladder receiving anything, including food stamps and some limited welfare benefits.

So how do the Democrats grab the narrative back from the Republicans who have been so successful in grabbing the middle class voters, particularly the middle class voters who are the most dependent on government to provide housing and schools and universities? In effect, The Democrats have allowed the Republicans to divide and conquer. They have been scared to point out that in reality, the interests of the middle class — particularly the lower middle class — are better served by a political alignment with those who have less than they do rather than with the few who have it all and won't give it up. They have been voting against their own best interests.

In two years, everyone will turn out to vote and that's when the bullies will be beaten back. Or, as Pete sang, "When will they ever learn?"

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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"Mario Cuomo an unapologetic social liberal"
By Alan Chartock, The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, 1/9/2015

GREAT BARRINGTON - Mario Cuomo has passed, we all knew it was coming.

He was a huge part of my life. It started after I had written a column during the gubernatorial primary between him and Ed Koch. The headline was, "Meet Governor Koch." For years Cuomo told me that he kept it in his top drawer just to torture me.

It seemed impossible that this obscure Queens lawyer could beat the ballistic, bombastic Koch, who was Mr. New York and who had beaten Cuomo in a previous primary for mayor of New York.

Well there I was, a youngish professor, running a series of public radio stations feeling sorry for myself. Cuomo would never talk to me, I thought, because I had picked the wrong horse. Well, one day I got a call from a Cuomo press secretary, Steve Morello, that he wanted to talk to me so I went down to the capitol, hat in hand, and met with Morello.

The phone rang and Steve said, "Guess who's here with me, Alan Chartock," and he told me it was the governor on the phone and he wanted to see me. So I went down to his office and there he was.

Within moments he was asking whether he could be on my radio show. "Anytime" I said. "No," he said, "I mean every week." And so it began on virtually every public radio station in the state. Twelve years together, arguing, having fun, with the single brightest, funniest, clever man in the world. Yes, I mean that; in the world.

I ended up writing a book about that relationship, "Me and Mario Cuomo." It was a history of our adventures. First there were the 12 years when he was governor and then several more years when he was just Mario.

FROM THE HEART

He could do any dialect, he could tell stories like the one about the Blue Spruce where his father exhorted the boys to get shovels and rope when a giant lightning burst felled the tree in front of the family's new home in Queens. Imitating his father's Italian accent, Cuomo intoned, "Come oona boys, we're a-gonna pus her up."

Years later the grandest blue spruce in the world was in front of that house. Needless to say, we all cried as the can-do story ended. Then there was the one about Ginger the dog. "Ginger is dying," he read from his diary on the radio. He should have treated Ginger better and every animal owner's heart melted.

When had a governor ever showed a heart like that of Mario Cuomo? Simple answer: never. It sure wasn't his predecessor the dour Hugh Carey or his successor, the plastic George Pataki. Nope, Mario was one of a kind, an unreconstructed Rooseveltian social liberal who believed that everyone had to have a fair shot in life.

He may have polled but let me tell you when it came to things he really believed in like his refusal to embrace a death penalty or his fight for a woman's control over her own body he didn't give an inch. He stood up to his own church and to the cleric whose words on the front page of a New York tabloid threatened that he would "Burn in hell."

He once asked me whether I believed in the concept of hell.

"Yes sir," I responded. "Where is it?" he asked.

"Right here Governor," I answered.

He allowed that I might make a good Catholic.

A COLORFUL EXCHANGE

One time he called me a "putz" on the radio." I told him that was a dirty word but undeterred, he said it three more times, "Putz, putz, putz."

When I told him the word meant penis he assured me that the correct Yiddish word was schmuck. I told him that was true but "putz" was worse. Shortly after the show was over he called and said that we had to do the show over again.

So after all those years on the radio together I mourn for my friend Mario. He was a huge part of my life. I will be forever grateful.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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"News entertainer proved more credible than journalist"
By Alan Chartock, The Berkshire Eagle, 2/13/2015

GREAT BARRINGTON - This is a story of two newsmen. One is supposed to be an entertainer, the other is supposed to be a down-the-middle newsman. Of course, I am speaking of Jon Stewart of the Daily Show and NBC's well-paid anchor, Brian Williams.

In my mind, there is nothing more befuddling than what Williams did. He had the world by the tail. He was making incredible amounts of money. He was well liked and admired. So what does he do? He tells a tall tale about being in a helicopter that was fired on.

He was not alone in telling such a lie. It turns out that Hillary Clinton did much the same thing and despite a stream of negative publicity, lived to tell about it. Hillary is a politician so when she either lied or forgot, we shrugged and said, "That's what politicians always do."

Ronald Reagan, while president, told his tall tale of being on a plane that was shot out of the sky. The problem of course, is that he was thinking about a movie he had been in and once again, his popularity as a politician got him through. Don't get me wrong, Reagan's claim was met with some snickers but it was soon forgotten.

So why is Brian Williams' claim akin to a nuclear event? Why has it been at the top of the New York Times most important stories day after day? Partly it has to do with the fact that people don't seem to like or trust journalists. "Credibility" is the word of the month.

When Mr. Williams, who has appeared on shows like Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock in addition to his nightly news duties, admits that he made stuff up, the righteous journalists rise up as one to denounce him lest they be caught up in the same undertow. Don't get me wrong, I have little sympathy for the guy but I don't listen to the evening news because I am too busy and I find it really boring.

Some people, however, really love the now disgraced anchor. Unless Brian submits to public psychoanalysis, we'll never know why he lied. Maybe he really didn't like his job and wanted a way out. Maybe it's his relationship with his father, or worse, with his mother. Maybe he was playing "old tapes" of his troubles in first grade.

In any event, a listener wrote me and said I have no right to hold Williams up to judgment because, says my long-winded correspondent, Williams is a newsreader and not a journalist.

That came straight from the department of give-me-a-break. NBC invested a fortune in the guy and now had to suspend and fine him, big time. So he's out on his posterior maximus. (Don't look that up, it's not a real word). I hope he has enough money to live on his savings for the next three lifetimes.

Jon Stewart is another whole story. Him, I really like. I don't dislike Williams, I just don't really care. Stewart calls himself an entertainer yet a huge swath of the American people, particularly the young, get most — if not all — of their news from the guy. His critical analysis is closer to the truth than the garbage we get from the networks.

We will really miss Stewart. We will not miss poor Brian Williams. Stewart had guts and was a human being and is one of the rarest of all homo sapiens: he knows when it's time to quit and that is when you are no longer having fun.

Jon Stewart, like Johnny Carson, is one in a million. He did his homework, he thought and he was courageous. We'll hear more from him in books and movies and maybe even on TV and I don't think any of us can deny him his rest.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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"Netanyahu must do more than deliver a good speech"
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 3/6/2015

GREAT BARRINGTON - I was raised in a household that was profoundly affected by the Holocaust. The establishment of the state of Israel was a matter of enormous pride and hope to my family.

The scourge of anti-Semitism around the world, both back then in 1948 and today is not arguable except by a few fools and scoundrels who are what we call deniers. That is why we are so grateful to Steven Spielberg and his Shoah Foundation project, which documents the evil that is still among the very worst ever committed.

Just a few days ago, Benjamin Netanyahu offered a stirring speech to the U.S. Congress. The Israeli Prime Minister invoked every known skill in speech making. Among the most memorable moments of the speech was the introduction of author and survivor Eli Wiesel, who has done so much to remind the world of the terror of the Nazi regime.

He was met by tumultuous applause from the assembled Members of Congress. One doesn't have to look farther than to the various Middle Eastern regimes that will settle for nothing less than the total obliteration of Israel. That, of course, is why Wiesel was there — to give reinforcement to Netanyahu's words, "Never again!"

DISGUSTING OFFENSE

It just remains to look behind the speech at the politics of the situation. Clearly, Speaker of the House John Boehner had politics on his mind. I personally think he violated the United States Constitution, which gives the president the role as chief foreign policy official in this country.

In what could only be declared a disgusting and purposeful offense, Boehner didn't even inform the president that he had issued the invitation. Democrats were put into an intolerable situation. The president ignored the speech. The vice president couldn't make it. House Minority Leader Pelosi was unhappy with her members' affirmative behavior during the speech.

It was at least a short-term victory for the Republican leader, but the speech by Netanyahu raises some disturbing questions. His central premise was that you couldn't trust the Iranians; they wouldn't keep their word and no assurances would change that.

Of course, we would remind everyone of the fact that the last thing the United States wanted was a true democracy in Iran. We literally installed the Shah when the Iranians had a democratically elected leader. The rise of the present system of Ayatollahs can be attributed to the rage that came directly from the Shah's regime.

IRANIAN PEOPLE FED UP

The impositions of worldwide sanctions have taken their toll. It is clear to me, at least, that the people of Iran have had enough. They elected a president who offered the people hope of getting out of the present intolerable situation.

The Iranian people have minds. They're smart. Netanyahu maintains that once the deal that is being negotiated expires, the Iranians will build all the bombs they want.

It is clear to me that once the sanctions are lifted, a lesson will have been learned. The Iranians will not want to return to a time of severe deprivation. If anything, this speech has strengthened President Obama's hand in the current negotiations. They know that he has a hostile political situation and if they want to lift the sanctions, they will have to make a politically acceptable deal.

Netanyahu, for his part, has clearly alienated this president. He says that he wants peace with the Palestinians yet he keeps building settlements. He has done little to make this critical peace possible.

Of course, we all know that there are militants who don't want to see Israel survive but it is possible to make a peace in which Arab countries will be held responsible for keeping the peace. What other choice do we have?

It was a good speech but Netanyahu needs to move forward or the Israeli voters will have to make the change that is clearly needed now.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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"Solving the world's energy crisis one radio at a time"
The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, By Alan Chartock, March 27, 2015

GREAT BARRINGTON - I was talking to Murray, the world's cutest and brightest dog. As you know, he was taught to speak English early on. It's amazing. The dog knows so much that I've been trying to convince Joe Donahue to let him have my spot on the first hour of "The Roundtable" every once in a while.

There are, however, many things about which the little Westie and I disagree. For example, he is always pestering me about world affairs. He is far more enamored with Bibi Netanyahu than I am. The little dog is deeply suspicious of the Arab leadership. He says they want their own country and he doesn't trust them.

"Look, Pops," he recently said with his pink tongue hanging out. "I'll bet you anything that once the Palestinians get their own state, they'll continue to try to push Israel into the sea."

I told him that I didn't think we had any choice — Netanyahu had been rude to the President of the United States and had overplayed his role and actually threatened Israel's security by misjudging the President's resolve. To that, the little dog looked up at me and said, "You know, Pops, every time I hear you say that stuff on the radio I am deeply disappointed."

That's when I knew that the real culprit was my partner/wife/co-parent/lover, Roselle. She was responsible for Murray's continuing disagreement with me. You see Roselle has a theory that the radio must be left on continually when she is out of the house. I have said to her, time and again, that we are wasting electricity and that if everyone left their radios on to keep their dogs company the drain on the nation's energy could prove catastrophic. But Roselle really is much smarter than I am; she takes no guff.

"Look, Alan," she said. "This is not just any dog. This is Murray who can read and write English. In fact you're the one who sent him to the Literacy Network of South Berkshire to learn to read and write. Just because he can out think and out talk you doesn't mean that we should keep him from his major source of news and information. What do you want to do, turn him into one of those people who gets no news at all? I think that Murray ought to run for Selectman. He's really much smarter than a few of the people who are running."

But the lovely Roselle was hardly through with me. In fact, she was just getting warmed up. Of course, Murray was sitting next to her in her big green recliner. The little dog had a tremendous grin on his face that he reserves for those times when I am really in trouble. Roselle then uttered the Name That Shall Not Be Used (my mom's orders). She started to call me "Al." She knows how much I hate that but she was really annoyed.

"Listen, Al," she said. "I can't even begin to tell you how many people leave the radio station on all day long. Their pets can't even speak English but their humans just want them to have some company. Don't talk to me about how much it costs. This country spends billions on its pet industry and most of it is on stuff that the dogs play with for a moment and then it lands in the corner and collects dust. So a few pennies for a educated dog population is nothing."

Roselle told me she even knows someone who leaves the radio station on for her parrots. She says that when the family comes home from school and work all the parrots can say, over and over again is "1-800-323-9262." So then she said, "I know someone who leaves their radio on for her five cats." "CATS," I screamed. "Now you've gone too far."

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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“Rapist deserves what he got... and other musings”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, April 3, 2015

Great Barrington - Emmanuel T. Bile Jr. found guilty on two counts of rape. Look, there are a lot of bad people in the world. Some of them are troubled from birth, some seem to gather more rage as the years pass.

These are people who are so filled with anger that it spills out of them. You'll find them in your neighborhood. We all have a common experience with them. They don't get mixed reviews — it is pretty much unanimous.

Because we allow maximum freedom in our society, you just learn to keep away from them. You know that the fuse is lit and you sure don't want to be around when the explosion comes. Sometimes they get a free pass, other times they end up in court for injuring or provoking others.

Ask yourself this: "Who in the world would gang rape a college student? Who were the perpetrators' parents? Who taught values to these kids? I'm not talking about anything but the difference between right and wrong. The guy was found guilty but the victim will still be scarred for life. The accused will be spending a large part of his life in prison. Good. She could have been your daughter. He could have been someone you know.

OBAMA RETURNS FAVOR

Carry yourselves more like Kennedy. Barack Obama would not be president if it weren't for Ted Kennedy. At a crucial time in the campaign — and I will never forget it — Teddy Kennedy and his niece, Carolyn Kennedy Schlossberg, came out on stage with Obama and gave him a ringing endorsement. I have no doubt that carried the tide.

It took real guts to do it and the liberal lion of the Senate in one of his last major acts before he died pushed Obama over the top. Now the president has returned the favor. He showed up at the opening of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute and eulogized the late senator who has always been one of my favorite people on earth. There are so few politicians around with that man's integrity. More and more, we read about the foibles of Robert and John Kennedy and let there be no mistake that Teddy made some mistakes, too. But give me my choice of the three and I'll take Teddy any day.

MAYORAL CAMPAIGN

The city of Pittsfield has always been unhappy with its mayors. I get that. This jewel of a city, with its lakes, mountains, and culture, has so much potential but it all just never seems to come together. Mayor Jimmy Ruberto was a sensational mayor but he had to deal with a torrent of criticism from bloggers and other anonymous, angry people. Current Mayor Dan Bianchi positioned himself as an alternative to business as usual. Now he is being opposed by a coalition of progressive activists who say that they can do better.

To the puzzled outsider, it all looks kind of frantic and unhappy. Yet if you look closer, this is what democracy is all about. We need more people who think they can do a better job to run for political office. An incumbent doesn't particularly like it when a candidate presents him or herself to the people but choice is always a good thing.

DRAMA AT SHAKE & CO.

What in the world is going on at Shakespeare & Company, one of the most important cultural assets in the Berkshires? It's one of the places that makes this area a go-to destination They fired their artistic director, Tony Simotes, who literally saved their behinds from financial ruin. Now they are embarrassed as the great Kate Maguire has reached out to hire Simotes as managing director and artistic associate at the Berkshire Theatre Group. There has been some major reshuffling on the board. Hmmm. Maybe big money donors can't buy everything.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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April 3, 2015

Re: Open Letter to Alan Chartock about Pittsfield politics

Dear Alan Chartock,

I am proud to be among those who voiced my dissent in my writings against Pittsfield Mayor Jimmy Ruberto. During Ruberto’s tenure as Mayor of Pittsfield, thousands of people moved away from Pittsfield, plus thousands of jobs were lost in Pittsfield. K B Toys went bankrupt and hundreds of jobs were lost in Pittsfield. GE Plastics sold their business unit to Sabic. While the working class struggled to pay their bills, Mayor Ruberto raised taxes by about five percent every year for eight straight years. Mayor Ruberto called all of his spending, “sacrifice”. He spent tens of millions of public dollars on revitalizing downtown Pittsfield, including over two million dollars from the GE economic development fund, which was supposed to be used for job creation. Then there is PEDA. During the eight years Ruberto ran Pittsfield politics, PEDA had zero private businesses. It is more than fair to say that Ruberto was a complete failure on economic development, especially with PEDA!

Then there is the notorious “Good Old Boys” of intergenerational, interrelated political hacks that pull the same crap in Pittsfield politics year after year. Jimmy Ruberto was the King of this corrupt club. His late brother, Anthony Ruberto, was a Berkshire County District Attorney and then a Judge. Mayor Ruberto had Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. swear him into his third of four terms in early-January, 2008. Nuciforo’s late-father was a Pittsfield State Senator and then Judge. His Uncle was a Pittsfield State Representative. His late-Aunt was a Pittsfield Mayor. I hope you understand the pattern of these local powerbrokers in Pittsfield politics. It is all in the family in Pittsfield politics. If you are not related to the mafia-like Good Old Boy network in Pittsfield politics, you are an outsider who lives in fear of their power. If you are like me – a blogger who dissents against their political corruption – then you will never find a full time, living wage job in Pittsfield. When I lived in Pittsfield as a young adult and a Veteran who served our nation with honor, I was blacklisted from employment in Pittsfield because of the Good Old Boys club. In fact, I had better odds winning the state lottery jackpot than finding employment in Pittsfield.

Since I was 20 years old in the Spring of 1996, Nuciforo had people bully me on his behalf without leaving behind his own fingerprints. From the Fall of 1997 to the Spring of 1998, Nuciforo tried to get my dad fired from his former Pittsfield courthouse job by filing multiple “ethics” complaints against him. In the Spring to Summer of 1998, when I was 22 turned 23 years old, Nuciforo tried to send me to his close friend Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen Massimiano, Jr.’s Pittsfield jail. In the Spring of 2006, Nuciforo openly strong-armed two women candidates (former Pittsfield Mayor Sara Hathaway and Registry of Deeds staff member Sharon Henault) out of a Massachusetts state government election for Pittsfield Registrar of Deeds. This is the kind of politics the Jimmy Ruberto openly supported and ran on. But according to you, Alan Chartock, “Jimmy Ruberto was a sensational mayor but he had to deal with a torrent of criticism from bloggers and other anonymous, angry people”.

I grew up in Pittsfield and watched my native hometown’s downward spiral my entire life. If more people were willing to voice their dissent against the insider, corrupt, and failed politics of the Good Old Boy network that runs Pittsfield politics, then maybe Pittsfield wouldn’t be the “Pottersville” community it has become today. I always wondered if I was a powerbroker like Jimmy Ruberto or Andrea Nuciforo II, and I pulled the same crap that they pulled over the years, if you would have written your political columns against me. Ruberto and Nuciforo are “sensational” in your eyes, but if I was a Good Old Boy who ran a top down political fiefdom, I believe you would have put me in the same space as you put my friend Rinaldo Del Gallo III about a decade ago.

Then there are Pittsfield public schools, where over 600 students choice out to neighboring school districts every year, and about 2/3rds of Pittsfield students are receiving free lunches. Mayor Ruberto failed on public education in Pittsfield.

Then there is crime. When Jimmy Ruberto ran against then Mayor Sara Hathaway in 2003, his biggest criticism of her was her response to violent crime and drug use in Pittsfield. It is fair to say that crime has gotten worse in Pittsfield.

When I studied economics and finance at U Mass Amherst in the late-1990s, my professors saw Pittsfield as a community known for low median incomes and high per capita welfare caseloads. Most of Pittsfield’s population loss comes from its young adults. If a young family stays in Pittsfield, they will earn less than other regions of the northeast. If they lose their low income jobs, they end up on welfare in Pittsfield. No one wants to live in a cycle of poverty. Mayor Ruberto seemed oblivious to it all. He even said that he wanted to build around “those people”. I remember reading that Ruberto did well in the well to do voting wards in Pittsfield’s elections. The working class voting wards were not for him.

In Pittsfield, every local politician says that they are Democrats because you have to be a Democrat to get elected. The same is true with Mayor Dan Bianchi and City Clerk mayoral candidate Linda Tyer. I do not believe that Jimmy Ruberto was a true Democrat, but rather, I believe he was an elitist who favored the rich and powerful. I remember he spoke if favor of policy proposals favored by then Governor Willard Mitt Romney. The Berkshire Eagle called Nuciforo a social liberal, but fiscal conservative. “Democrat” Carmen Massimiano publicly endorsed Republicans, including the late-Ed King, Bill Weld and the late-Paul Cellucci. The Good Old Boys who run Pittsfield politics care more about their power than their beliefs.

You, Alan Chartock, have a right to support these Pittsfield politicians I come to despise, but I would have liked it if you encouraged people to participate in politics, including voicing their First Amendment constitutional right to dissent.

- Jonathan Melle

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“Book paints dark portrait of NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo”
The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, By Alan Chartock, April 10, 2015

GREAT BARRINGTON - Michael Shnayerson has written a superb and frankly frightening book, "The Contender: Andrew Cuomo, a Biography." This book is balanced, showing Andrew at his best and at his absolute darkest.

His darkest, according to the book, is just plain scary. Indeed, it might cause you nightmares. It's clear that the Cuomo people hate the book.

Shnayerson has spoken to hundreds of people who know Andrew either well or too well. He takes you from Andrew's childhood in Queens to the present day, with stops along the way at various political postings including his time in the Clinton cabinet where Andrew seemed universally distrusted and, in fact, hated.

The book portrays Andrew as someone who takes no prisoners and has a memory for perceived wrongs that never quits. Shnayerson documents the fact that even his so-called friends are never safe. People who were once friends no longer are due to some imagined slight in Andrew's memory.

ALL ABOUT POLITICS

The governor bullies those around him and he thinks strategically. Alliances change as need be and nothing is as it seems. In fact, it's all about politics. The book is called "The Contender" because Shnayerson seems to think that most of Andrew's decisions are constructed so that he can achieve the one major goal denied to his father, becoming President of the United States.

Like Lyndon Johnson, Cuomo knows how to manipulate the levers of power and a good deal of that involves instilling abject fear in his trading partners. In fact, he seems to despise them. Shnayerson shows us how Cuomo picks on Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, perhaps because Schneiderman was once married to Jennifer Cunningham who helped run Cuomo's campaigns.

His obvious distaste for and bullying of the very competent state comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli, follow the same path. Everyone is a rival.

Because I spoke on the radio with Andrew's father, Mario, every week for years, I was fascinated to read about the father-son relationship. Sometimes it seems like Andrew adored Mario. Other times, it appears that Andrew competed with his father, not only because he wants to better him but also so that he can finally get the love that was denied him because Mario was seemingly always out of the house.

SON UNLIKE FATHER

If I have any quarrel with the book, it is Shnayerson's tough approach to Mario, the father. I'm here to tell you that Mario Cuomo was one of the deepest and funniest men I ever met. Week after week, he would both outfox and out-debate me. He believed in press conferences and transparency and there was no reporter with whom he'd refuse to debate. He did not pass that love of transparency on to his son.

The further you get into the book, the scarier it gets. It isn't that Shnayerson doesn't give Cuomo his due. He faithfully reports how Cuomo was able to pass marriage equality and the SAFE (gun) Act. As Attorney General, Cuomo went after some greedy bad guys and got settlements from them.

On the other hand, Shnayerson paints a picture of a guy who compulsively shines his shoes to a polished sheen every morning and who causes the kind of caution among staff that Joe Stalin must have had among his.

When I spoke with him, Shnayerson told me how Team Cuomo tried to get him not to write this book but instead, to write one with Andrew about the general topic of governance. Thank heavens Shnayerson didn't fall for it.

Just his passages about how the governor has lacked kindness toward his ex-wife Kerry Kennedy Cuomo boggle the mind. I listened to the book on audio as I drove back and forth to work every day but inevitably, I found myself sitting in the car wanting to hear more. If you want to know how it really works, get the book.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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“Hillary Clinton must stay close to Obama to win”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, April 17, 2015

GREAT BARRINGTON - So there I was on WAMC Public Radio's Roundtable panel where I am every weekday morning at 9 a.m. It was the day after Hillary Clinton had declared her intention to run for president and people had a lot to say.

Hillary is a bit of a centrist — that is why she has a good, but not absolute, chance of winning the presidency. The whole idea is to capture the middle class. I love Sen. Elizabeth Warren but she knows and I know that she is too far to the left to win a national election, at least now. Let's try to remember that unlike the great New Yorker cartoon, there is a lot of country between Manhattan and San Francisco.

To understand what's at play here, one has to understand voting patterns in the country. There are more Democrats and independents leaning Democratic in the United States than there are Republicans. If everyone of the Democratic persuasion were to vote, you'd have a Democratic president and Congress.

The problem is that not all natural Democrats vote. Listeners write in about whatever subject we are discussing on the Roundtable, so that morning we were, of course, talking about Hillary entering the race. The notes from the left started coming in. "I could never vote for her. She's a tool of the corporate world" and on and on.

In each case, we asked the writer whether they would feel better with a Republican victory, allowing the Republican president to appoint more people to the Supreme Court. The bottom line is, if you are sitting in a house in the Berkshires or Hudson Valley pontificating about punishing a centrist candidate, it really doesn't matter. What does matter is the fact that those who have the most to gain at the bottom rungs of society do not vote in the numbers that they have to in order to assure a Democratic victory.

With that said, Barack Obama won twice despite the continuing and unremitting racist invective that has been heaped upon him. For Hillary's part, she knows that if she is to win she will need the voting coalition that swept Obama into office. Rule No. 1 for Hillary is to be supportive of Obama.

I knew a Democratic assemblyman in New York who had bad things to say about Bill Clinton in the post-Monica Lewinsky days. He said he wouldn't vote for Clinton and he was swept from office. Democrats really resented his perfidy.

Hillary cannot risk that, no matter how many people try to drive a wedge between her and Obama. Now it is Obama who is playing it safe, having his underling come out and say that the president is not endorsing at this time on the basis that there may be other people in the race.

That's a bit of an enigma for me. It may be that Hillary doesn't want his endorsement right now because his polls are low. That would be a huge mistake on her part. Perhaps he is still smarting about their original primary race and he thinks that Joe Biden or former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley may be coming in. In any case, I think this has been mishandled, especially since a lot of Democrats still love the president.

It is clearly Hillary's to lose. The Republicans are making fools of themselves, stepping all over one another. Hillary is the centrist candidate and in order to get through the primaries where members of the extreme right show up, the contenders are moving to the right as fast as they can. They will predictably move back to the center in the general election.

Assuming that Bill Clinton keeps his mouth shut and doesn't embarrass her, Hillary should prevail. She must have powerful memories, however, of Barack Obama, an obscure one-term senator, eating her lunch in her last great presidential primary. Like I said, it's hers to lose.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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Alan Chartock: "Run, Bernie Sanders, run!"
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Daily Freeman, May 3, 2015

Bernie Sanders is an unlikely candidate for president of the United States. He’s a United States senator from Vermont. He speaks with a Brooklyn accent and he is going to be 74 years old. He is Jewish. He’s a socialist and an independent that caucuses with the Democrats. He is also one of the most honest and decent men I have ever known. I’ve been interviewing him for years on public radio, and he is absolutely a force of nature. He truly believes that this country has screwed the middle class and the poor and rewarded a few oligarchs who control so much money that the situation has become obscene. In Vermont everyone knows who “Bernie” is. That didn’t stop the New York Times from calling him “Bernard” Sanders in their original story announcing that he would run for president. Let me tell you, he ain’t Bernard, he’s Bernie. He calls himself Bernie and he sees himself as the candidate of the poor, and the middle class, and the disenfranchised. While most people think he could never win he doesn’t believe that.

There is a huge part of the Democratic Party that embodies the left of center views of Bernie Sanders, and in a competition with Hillary Clinton, Sanders is going to get a lot of votes. To so many of these voters the Clintons are yesterday’s news. More and more the country has a single party in the minds of these folks. The new and unofficial party is the Republicrats. They cater to the rich and depend on them for huge campaign donations. Bernie says he has no illusions about the money that will be available to his opponents both in the Democratic and Republican parties but he says that when he runs in Vermont, his campaigns have always been funded by small amounts from individual voters. He says that’s the way it will be in this presidential campaign. It certainly worked for Barack Obama and the advent of social media will help Bernie raise money a little bit at a time. People will see him as what he is: a shirt sleeves guy who really dislikes what this country has become — a prisoner of the few rich people who own so much of the country’s wealth. Every story that surfaces about Hillary and Bill Clinton and their tapping into the wealth of the very rich will only help Bernie Sanders’ campaign. I have a very close relative who has already told me that while she used to love Bill Clinton, she is voting for Bernie Sanders. She inevitably picks winners.

We know that the left segment of the Democratic Party has been very upset that their choice for a leader, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, has eschewed a race against Hillary Clinton. That has left the way clear for Bernie Sanders who has always stated that his reasons for getting into the race was to offer a true alternative candidacy to the same-old, same-old and also to win. Obviously there is a full court press against Clinton by the Republicans who must be scared to death by the polls that have shown her taking on all comers. If by the time of the primary and the unceasing attacks on Clinton, Sanders is the only alternative candidate to Clinton, he might have what seems like a hopeless shot at beating Clinton, just as Barack Obama did when he came out of nowhere.

There is one more thing in his favor. Sanders is promising a big fix and this country is sick of the namby-pamby centrists who can’t seem to make any real change so they can vote for the people with big ideas like Ronald Reagan or Barack Obama. On the other hand if Clinton falters there will be a rush of others to get into the race, the likes of which we haven’t seen since Lyndon Johnson announced that he was through. In any case I can only say, “Run, Bernie, run.”

Sunday Freeman columnist Alan Chartock is a professor emeritus at the State University of New York, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and president and CEO of the WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network. Readers can email him at alan@wamc.org.

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"Responding to the latest hot headlines"
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, June 27, 2015

Answering the headlines:

'GOV. ROLLS OUT SWEEPING PLAN'

Charlie Baker is one smart dude. He is a Republican in the tradition of Bill Weld, Paul Cellucci, Mitt Romney and all those other Republicans who win in Blue State Massachusetts. They win because they are reasonable and act in a rational and non-combative manner. I also suspect that part of the reason they win is because their Democratic opponents are not to the liking of the electorate. Take the governor's newest initiative to deal with the number of drug overdoses in the state. He held a press conference with the Democratic attorney general — see what I mean about smart? — and spoke about the scourge of opiate addiction.

I really don't see how anyone in their right mind could not recognize how many people in the state are dying from the use of opiates, including the increased use heroin and prescription pain killers. The governor wants to move the conversation about drug addiction; rather than treating it as a criminal issue, he wants us to recognize that this is a public health issue and should be treated as such.

My "go-to" personal heroine on the issue is addiction specialist Dr. Jennifer Michaels of the Brien Center. She believes that one of the biggest problems in the rehabilitation process is our insistence on attaching criminal responsibility to those who are suffering from addiction issues. What we need instead, she says, is to treat those who have become addicted as people in need of medical treatment like any other ill person.

We have gone back and forth between the various modalities in this country. In neighboring New York, then-Gov. Nelson Rockefeller tried to medically treat everyone and was so frustrated by the lack of results that he instituted the punitive Rockefeller Drug Laws, with disastrous results. For his part, Baker is to be commended for going the medical route. We all know someone whose parents have paid great amounts of money to fund rehab and treatment for a child or relative who has become addicted. Why shouldn't everyone be able to get such treatment? Addiction is a terrible disease. No, there really are no easy answers but some solutions do seem more humane than others.

'SC GOV. NIKKI HALEY CALLS FOR CONFEDERATE FLAG TO COME DOWN'

Look, make no mistake about it — the Confederate flag, which has been flying over the South Carolina capitol, is a symbol of racism. While she once defended its presence, after the killing of all those wonderful people in a Charleston church, Gov. Haley came to her senses. She wasn't alone in modifying her former irrational and cowardly position. Some of the most notorious legislators in the white political establishment finally did the same thing as the South Carolina governor, who came late to the party.

There is a lot more than a flag at play here. There is the whole idea of allowing mentally ill people to have access to guns that is equally vexing. It really isn't one or the other, flag or guns. We may have made some limited progress on the flag-symbol issue but this country is truly gun addicted. Until we do something about that, these unconscionable and tragic shootings will continue to happen.

'SPAIN ARRESTS VENEZUELAN FOR SMUGGLING DRUGS IN PUPPIES'

So this veterinarian allegedly implants the dope in the dogs and smuggles it into other countries. If true, life imprisonment would be too short a sentence.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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"Chuck Schumer's tough decision on Iran"
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, August 14, 2015

So Chuck Schumer has come out against the Iran agreement being pushed by President Obama.

Let's talk about it, but before we do, let me tell you where I stand, at least in shorthand. I am Jewish. I tend to vote Democratic, but not always. I am for the Iran deal despite all its potential downfalls. I also know and respect Chuck Schumer and have interviewed him many times. He is blazingly smart, funny and nice. He is also a very important player in the Senate, the Congress and New York.

Schumer is slated to be the next minority leader and maybe, just maybe, the next majority leader in the Senate. If that goes well, he will be one of the most important men in the world. He has to run for the Senate in an upcoming election. There is an old rule in politics: "First, you have to get elected." I can't tell you how many people have forgotten that rule and faded into oblivion. I was speaking with one of my students from back in the day and he explained Schumer's decision this way: "He had to do it."

This is not the first time I have disagreed with one of Schumer's decisions. The last time was when he decided to vote for the U.S. incursion into Iraq. I was really angry about that. I thought we had been lied to about "weapons of mass destruction" and it turned out I was right.

To Schumer's credit, he told me he had made a decision on Iraq and would love to announce it at an event at The Linda, WAMC's performance venue in Albany. I know our audience and figured there would be some left-of-center folks there who would admonish Chuck for his position. And so it was, the day arrived and sure enough there were some people with blood in their eyes.

One of them, an aging hippie type with a gray pony tail, was yelling at an intern about the event's format. When I approached and explained that he could not talk to our student that way, he became very agitated and threw his free cup of scalding coffee on me. When Chuck came into the hall, he was heard to say in a very loud voice, "Where's the peacenik who threw hot coffee on Alan?"

So Chuck has given his reasons for being against the Iran deal. He doesn't like the Iranian leaders, something I can certainly relate to. He doesn't trust them, and he thinks that in 10 years when the deal runs out, they will be even closer to constructing a nuclear bomb than they are now. He also says that once the various economic constraints and sanctions are lifted, they will use their newfound monies to do mischief around the world, including funding Hezbollah and other terrorist groups. Finally, he says that the deal posits a 24-day delay on inspections. Hey, either you have inspections or you don't. Frankly, it would be hard to say that he's wrong about any of that.

With all that said, I am still for the deal. In 10 years, as Mario Cuomo used to say citing a Polish proverb, "a new pope might be born." We know that the younger Iranians are far less likely to follow the religious fanaticism of the old mullahs. What's more, the United States has a lot of tricks up their sleeves and a mighty military to dissuade bad behavior. Then too, there are the Israelis and their war-making power.

Many people are very angry at Schumer. They say that he is doing it just for the money or because he's Jewish. While I disagree with him on this one, I do want him to be the majority leader and I know him to be a decent guy. I am willing to cut him some slack.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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"Great Barrington tax shift a short-sighted mistake"
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, August 21, 2015

GREAT BARRINGTON - Michael Wise, who has given so much of his time and energy to Great Barrington, has come up with a disastrous plan that threatens to tear the town asunder.

Chairman of the Finance Committee, Wise wants to soak the rich by raising their real estate taxes while lowering the taxes of people whose houses are worth less than $400,000.

This drastic plan really ought to be voted on by the town at a town meeting or offered as a ballot proposition, but as the situation stands, it can be voted on by the five selectmen. Since one of the selectmen adopted the Wise Plan when he ran for office, there is a good chance that it will pass.

Karen Allen, the actress and weaver who has a business in downtown Great Barrington, offers one of the best reasons for opposing the not-so-Wise plan. She knows a slew of older residents who bought their homes long ago for modest prices and then painstakingly paid them off over the years.

Now their houses have appreciated to the point that they are hardly able to pay Great Barrington's current onerous taxes. Karen reports that as a result, they are now contemplating selling their homes in anticipation of yet higher taxes.

Hey, that just isn't right. These are our most cherished citizens and they deserve better.

This also is of great concern to the second-home owners who usually pay a great deal of money for their homes and who, as a rule, do not vote in the town.

It is ridiculous to make these people pay huge taxes. They don't use many of the town services since they are not here most of the time.

MAKES NO SENSE

Since a good deal of our economy is based on the good will of these people, it makes no sense to alienate them and turn them into justifiably angry people who could just as easily move to Alford.

Think about what this will do to the town. Let's remember that second-home owners already pay a "personal property tax" on their possessions which is just another regressive, sneaky tax that Massachusetts imposes on people to grab their money.

I recently spoke with a person with generally progressive views who suggested that we tax second-home owners as highly as possible. His anger was almost palpable. This attitude is about as short-sighted as possible.

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you! Second-home owners keep our town businesses going. They support our electricians and plumbers and the people who mow the lawn. I am sure that these folks are going to turn out en masse to protest this mistaken move.

My sources on the Board of Selectmen are telling me that this is not going to happen this year. My conversations with some members of the board suggest that they have little appetite for this fight, nor do the members of the Finance Committee.

AN UNCLEAR FATE

I would hate to think that this decision will be based on how much a political office holder's home is worth, but all too often, that's the way things get done. Needless to say, our town fathers and mothers would like to get this off the agenda and are postponing that time when they will have to face the music.

Michael Wise lost an election for selectman because many of us saw him as elitist. This new plan of his may well be an attempt to square himself with the people who voted against him. I certainly hope that this isn't the case.

Many people are devoted to Wise because of his unstinting work for the town but even hard working people make mistakes. There are times when we make bad decisions and once they are made, things can go downhill fast. To quote Nancy Reagan, "Just say no."

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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Alan Chartock | I Publius: "Great Barrington has best Berkshires has to offer"
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 11/20/2015

GREAT BARRINGTON - So which town is the best in the Berkshires? Despite anything that the Smithsonian Magazine may have to say on the subject, it is an important question because if we can establish the best model, we might just all aspire to it.

So here goes: Great Barrington is the best of the lot. Part of it is just plain luck. Sometimes things happen. While Great Barrington was once a mess, it no longer is. Of course mistakes have been made. Someone recently wrote that while the town once had a road running through it, we now have a road with a town around it.

There was a period when there were too many drugs in the town. We still have too many drugs in town but the situation does seem better. District Attorney David Capeless and the state police Drug Task Force have made a tremendous difference.

The town police department needed some changes and, while still a work in progress, it is coming along. Thanks to Berkshires Health Systems under Dave Phelps, Great Barrington boasts a wonderful little hospital that keeps getting named to "Best Of" lists. It has a lot of great restaurants and coffee shops. It has the Triplex Cinema. It has Bard College at Simon's Rock. It has great public schools under Superintendent Peter Dillon, despite the anti-education crowd who consider themselves liberals until it's time to pay up.

It has the Rudolph Steiner people who are committed to their style of education. It has Lake Mansfield and civic leaders to keep it pristine. It has good bagels. It has Guido's. It used to have the best Friendly's in the world, sadly now gone.

Then there is Lenox which is a little more artsy than Great Barrington. As the gateway to Tanglewood, Lenox has lots of inns, Shakespeare & Company and a wonderful public library. It has other arts venues, it has the Mount where Edith Wharton once lived, and wonderful restaurants like Haven and Zinc and many others that are going to be correctly angry about not being included. It also has Guido's. It has Matt Tannenbaum's bookstore, the best in the Berkshires. But, it is a summer place and therefore doesn't reach Great Barrington's heights.

Stockbridge is a fine town but there really isn't much there. It does have the Berkshire Theatre Festival and the Bowl and the Red Lion Inn, the vortex of the Berkshires, but it reminds me a little of the western movie sets where you just see the fronts of the buildings. It has the Norman Rockwell Museum, a great institution honored at the White House, and a fabulous little museum, Chesterwood, where you can see how the Lincoln Memorial came to be.

Then there are the Egremonts. Good schools and some other great stuff. But not competitive except as very good place for second homers and people who appreciate the quality of life, relatively low taxes and breathing good air.

Much the same can be said for little Alford.

Pittsfield has a long way to go. It's a beautiful city. It has the Colonial Theatre. It has a fine museum. But it has way too many drugs and too much crime.

Lee is cool. It is a place where people can afford to live and has a thriving middle class. It used to have Kentucky Fried Chicken to take to Tanglewood but that's been gone for years.

North Adams has enormous potential. I like it. It has MCLA and Mass MoCA. It has an involved electorate.

Adams hosts the WAMC tower.

The hill towns are very nice.

So, one has to conclude that our various villages, town and cities each offer specialties and have distinctive characters. Of course, our governments make us gnash our teeth but hey, that's just human nature. Power corrupts.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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Alan Chartock | I Publius: “Hyperbole roils reasonable discussion on terror”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, November 25, 2015

GREAT BARRINGTON - The problem is that when people become inflamed about some contemporary event, they often become hyperbolic.

It's easy enough to understand why — they feel passionate about the subject and might overreact in an effort to drive home their point. I was looking at the letters to the editor in this newspaper the other day and read a pretty well-reasoned letter about the dangers of the Islamic State.

I think most of us believe that the Islamic State is nothing more than a bunch of murdering thugs so most of the letter was on target. It reiterated what most of us think about those who have no compunction about murdering, decapitating and spreading fear and havoc.

It's all made worse by their very bad habit of recruiting and indoctrinating others who are willing to die for the cause. Whether those who want to establish an Islamic caliphate are willing to die themselves is yet another matter. I suspect that the top bad actors do not want to make their ultimate sacrifice.

In the case of our Eagle letter writer, the message was that "never again" was a pledge the world had made after the Nazi Holocaust. He ended the letter by saying of the Islamic State, "These people are 100 times worse than the Nazis ever were and better be dealt with accordingly."

Frankly, that sentence set me back on my heels. It was unnecessary hyperbole and an insult to all who have lost relatives at the hands of Hitler and his regime. It lowered the appropriateness and validity of his argument. The Nazis exterminated Jews and gays and many of their own people who fought back.

Estimates differ but we know that millions of people perished in the ovens and gas chambers. When you add in all the battlefield casualties, the Nazi regime and the consequences of their actions have been called the worst in history.

Nevertheless the Nazis were hardly alone in their campaign of what we now call ethnic cleansing. The list of such horrors is long and distressing. Many scholars think that the Nazi Holocaust was the worst example of genocide ever. That may or may not be true but one wonders whether this question ought to be turned into a contest.

JUSTIFIABLE FEEDBACK

On yet another matter, I have been thinking lately about the democratic model we follow here in Massachusetts.

In our towns and villages the usual mode is a board of selectmen. They are in charge of running the town, delegating power and, in some cases, supervising a town manager. However, the annual town meetings are our top decision making bodies.

The problem is that all too often after we elect our officials we ignore what they do. They get used to operating with impunity and immunity and may actually start to resent input from the people who voted for them.

Obviously that's not the way the system should work. I have had some sharp words for those who voted on the Main Street reconstruction in Great Barrington. When I gave a pleasant shout out to one of them who I have always admired, he said something about my "rabble rousing" ways.

Citizenship doesn't come easily. When we allow bad decisions to be made without recompense, we have given up on the sensible model of democracy. When you start to resent your body politic it may be time for reconsideration, either by those in power or by the group of lazy citizens we may have all become.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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Alan Chartock | I Publius: “Real lottery winners are the rich and powerful”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, January 15, 2016

GREAT BARRINGTON - What if I were to tell you that I had just won half a billion dollars in the lottery? Would you like me more? Would you hate me more? Would you look at a system that is screwing you over or would you say, "Maybe I'll win next time?"

Human nature is such that we all have great hopes of changing our lives by purchasing a scrap of paper. Winning the lottery could move us from the rank and file of relative have-nots in a society that shows signs of putting more and more distance between the rich and everyone else.

In fact, things have gotten so bad that most of us are grasping at straws. I spent 20 bucks on a recent Powerball lottery on the theory that someone has to win. If I didn't take a chance, I was a fool.

In fact, the opposite was true. I was a fool to play. It was a total waste of money. When it comes to the lottery, we are a country of fools. We are suckers.

We are paying a regressive tax imposed by a government that plays upon our greed, hopes and aspirations. The government can get the money painlessly without imposing a progressive tax structure that would take more from those who would feel it the least.

Read that last sentence again and think of the quintessential New Yorker who fled to Vermont, Bernie Sanders. He has great appeal to all of us grunts who certainly know that we are being had by nonsense like the various lotteries. He rails against the capitalistic structure that plays with all of our lives.

Oh, I know you don't like this. After all, lotteries are glorified gambling and we Americans love to gamble. Just look around us at all the gambling emporiums that we are building to further fleece those who just can't admit that we are being had.

In fact, even the churches that may not like gambling offer their bingo games which, we all know, is gambling. We can certainly hope that their moral objection to gambling is not a way to get rid of the competition. Don't bet on it.

Everyone is in on it. TV news is full of stories about what you could spend your half a billion dollars on, including Islands and boats and Italian sports cars that sell for immense amounts of money. The whole idea is to pull the suckers in and it's working, big time!

In the meantime, on the island of Manhattan the government gives tax breaks to those who need them the least. We never even think of that. Marie Antoinette is given credit for sayings like, "Let them eat cake."

When you buy a lottery ticket you are being distracted from the realities of life. Remember defined pensions? They're almost gone. Now we are trapped in 401(k) plans that sink like rocks every time something goes wrong in China.

Millennials and the like have no idea about how they are being played. But when they get to the end of their working life, which I assure them will happen in about a minute and a half, they will see what they have to live on and, if certain Republican candidates have their way, they probably won't even have the few measly bucks that today's older people get now.

If you took a referendum asking people to vote on whether or not to continue the lottery, they would undoubtedly vote to continue the whole loaded game.

Every once in a while someone will ask politicians where the money goes. The politicians will talk about education but they won't talk about the bloated bureaucracy that eats so much of the money or all the public relations people out there who are paid huge bucks to con the people out of whatever little they may have.

This is a huge industry and we are all eating Marie Antoinette's cake, n'est–ce pas?

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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Alan Chartock | I Publius: “Trump's hate-based appeal should ring alarm bells”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, January 29, 2016

GREAT BARRINGTON - One of the reasons why, should he be elected, Donald Trump presents such a problem for this country is his appeal to the underside of the country.

His attack against Muslims is evidence that no group can really be safe if he should find it useful to attack them. Hitler knew that and the Jews became targets out of pure political expediency. In the end, the world saw a disaster of the greatest magnitude.

Some might quibble with the definitions, but Hitler was a psychopath, a sociopath or both. His lack of concern for the harm he was doing is central to both of these psychiatric diagnoses. When Trump attacks a single group, in this case Muslims, for the misdeeds of some who say they practice the same religion, he follows the same rulebook.

Let me give you an example. I recently received an e-mail from an individual who writes me now and again. I quote it in full.

"Stop talking about the "Trumpmeister"! What will all the leftwing, anti-American Jews do if he gets elected; go to Israel? Now that's a Jewish dilemma, being the cowards that you are. Yuh'd sell out your own mother! Now is it possible for Hillary to run the country from a federal prison? Maybe their hatchet man, [George] Soros, will off a few people to keep her on board."

"Viva la Israel! Viva la Trump."

OK. Some of you will say that this is simply one anti-Semite writing garbage and that I am giving him far more attention than he deserves. You may think we should forget about the potential for Trump to wreak havoc.


'HAVE TO BE ANSWERED'

You've all heard him described as a clown. But, remember, that is just what they said about Hitler. Before they knew it, it was too late. Nope, as the late Mario Cuomo used to tell me, "These kinds of things just have to be answered."

Trump knows who his audience is, whether in Massachusetts, New York or anyplace else. Our letter writer is a prime example. These are people with smoke coming out of their ears. They are haters. After World War II, Eisenhower made those people living near the concentration camps file through to see what their support of their Fuehrer had resulted in.

We, of course, live in a country where the foul rantings of our letter writer are guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. But make no mistake about it — he's not the only one.

Instead of a loud "NO!" when Trump made his anti-Muslim remarks there was little heard from the underbelly side. Even the President of the United States was alarmed enough to allude to Trump's remarks. Obama is a prudent man and not given to hyperbole, but there are times when one simply cannot keep quiet in the face of this kind of bigotry, including the anti-Catholics, anti-gays, and so many more.

It is all motivated by fear. When threatened, people can go to great lengths to protect themselves either by forbidding all Muslims entry into the country or singling out any other group.

PAGE FROM HISTORY

The frightening thing, of course, is that it's working. The polls are showing huge numbers of people committed to voting for Trump. Some show him close to winning the presidency. If that happens, history will have repeated itself, as it tends to do.

Prominent members of the Republican establishment who are being forced to choose between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are committing themselves to Trump. They believe they can work with him.

With Michael Bloomberg potentially entering the race as a third party candidate, anything can happen. My bet is that Trump is licking his chops, figuring that a lot of independents and liberals will vote for Bloomberg. If you don't think that Trump and his hater followers can win this thing, think again, but not before you read the history books.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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January 29, 2016

Re: Hitler’s power v Trump’s message

During the 1920’s – 1930’s, Germany faced a perfect storm of a ruined economy, a desperate people, the stock market crash, the great depression, political extremism and racist ideologies. Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party rose to power with a will for military hegemony over Europe to solve Germany’s problems and make their nation great again.

Hitler admired the United States of America of the 1920’s because our nation was militarized, wealthy, and racist. The USA practiced Eugenics, which was the basis of the Holocaust. The USA had racist immigration laws that allowed Aryan-like Europeans to come to the USA, while disallowing dark-skinned Europeans the same privilege. The USA had Jim Crow racism in the South. Hitler modeled Nazi Germany after the 1920s USA’s racist policies.

The tragedies of the Holocaust and persecution of “other peoples” has no comparison. State-sponsored genocides should have ended in 1945, but they did not end back then. Unfortunately, there have been many state-sponsored genocides since the fall of Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

There are three main forms of human violence: (a) personal, (b) structural, and (c) cultural. The latter, cultural violence, has endured for many thousands of years. But it has only been a matter of centuries since the impersonal state apparatus has used cultural violence to achieve its political ends.

Donald Trump’s main message to voters is that he is a deal-maker. He knows how to get things done in business, and now in government. Donald Trump’s side message is political incorrectness and proposing unconstitutional racist policies that target minorities, such as Muslims and Mexican immigrants. Parallels have been made to Hitler’s racist policies that targeted the Jewish people in Germany and other regions of Europe.

I believe there are distinctions between one disagreeing with extremist religious and political figures, and hate speech against minority peoples. Myself, I believe it is my right to disagree with and openly criticize the policies of political and religious extremism without using hate speech. I am unsure if Donald Trump is using Hitlerian tactics of hate speech, but I can see how other people see him as unfair, racist, and unconstitutional when he targets minorities for his own political gain.

My answer is to go back to our nation’s founding philosophy of Human Rights and Constitutional democratic governance with Liberty and Justice for All. To achieve political stability and stop extremism, we need economic and financial stability through a solid middle class. There is a lot of anger, anxiety, and political instability today, and Donald Trump is using demagoguery to spread his dual messages of deal-maker and political incorrectness.

- Jonathan Melle

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Alan Chartock | I Publius: 'Smitty' Pignatelli could have won Senate seat
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 2/5/2016

GREAT BARRINGTON - State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli will not run for the state Senate.

It's a shame because he's been doing a great job of representing the Berkshires and he would have won had he run for the seat currently held by state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing of Pittsfield. Downing said last week he would not seek re-election.

I have been around state legislators all of my adult life. I've interviewed them, I've written about them, I've watched them. That said, I have not been overwhelmed by the collective DNA of the group.

New York, where I hang out, is filled with self-serving cowards who pick corrupt leaders to do their dirty work for them so they can look clean. Frankly it's disgusting and if you look at the polling, you will find that I am by no means the only one who feels this way.

It doesn't take long for legislators of any stripe to abandon their work for the public good in favor of self-enhancement, either by getting work or money for themselves or their relatives or by getting campaign contributions for favors to be paid back later.

It is common knowledge that people hate the legislature but love their own legislator. The body as a whole is perceived as corrupted but individual legislators are not.

Smitty, a Democrat from Lenox, is different. He is beloved by most of his constituents. You ask for his help, no matter who you are, and you get service. I am fond of telling a story about an elderly woman who was hospitalized but who needed some help from the motor vehicles people. Smitty was contacted and the matter was handled immediately.

I know of no arts agency in Smitty's district that hasn't asked for and received help. What's most interesting about my conversations with Smitty is his love of his job.

Look, it can't be easy. You can't be further from the Statehouse than Smitty is. The traveling to Boston has felled stronger men than Pignatelli.

He still loves the job. He has learned to work well with some mighty tough hombres. It isn't easy, since the stench of corruption hangs on to some of these people's clothes like patchouli on a holdover from the sixties.

Yet while maintaining his dignity he has been able to bring home the bacon again and again. His work on combating addiction has been legendary. He has been in the forefront statewide in advocating for shared services among towns.

His work for places like Pittsfield, Adams and North Adams has been tireless even though large swaths of these areas are not in his present district. He has been able to do that with a small staff of two people while every freshman senator gets six staff members. One can only imagine what this dynamo might have been able to accomplish with such an expended staff. We're lucky that he's still our state representative but I admit I am disappointed.



On a much different matter, I have been getting up at 2 in the morning to get over to the WAMC fund drive. I always check that I have three essentials, my wallet, my keys and my phone.

Before I walk out the door I check that I have all three but last Wednesday no wallet. Anyone who has ever lost a wallet knows about having to replace a driver's license or all those credit cards.

The last place I had used my credit card was at the Big Y. I called the police in case it had fallen out of my pocket. No luck and when I got to work I remembered that I had purchased a gadget and app called The Tile.

It attaches to thing like keys or hearing aid cases or wallets. I turned it on and it told me that the wallet was near Hollenbeck Avenue. In other words, it was in my house. Poor Roselle searched the house again and there it was on the bathroom floor.

My advice to all of you, get the Tile app.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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February 5, 2016

Re: Note to Alan Chartock

Dear Alan,

While I respectfully disagree with your glowing review of Lenox State Representative William "Smitty" Pignatelli's public record, I think you missed the point of the real reason why he declined to run for Berkshire State Senator. The answer is that he wasn't enough of a Massachusetts Democratic Party political hack! The big guys wanted someone else to run. Therefore, you must have some legitimacy in praising Smitty Pignatelli. At least he is his own man and he doesn't owe anyone any special favors.

Best regards,
Jonathan

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Alan Chartock | I Publius: “New Pittsfield leadership may seek wider influence”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, February 12, 2016

GREAT BARRINGTON - Let's get back to the retirement of state Sen. Benjamin Downing.

One of the killer elements of democracy is the lack of participation of the citizen class. To put it succinctly, too few people vote so those that do vote have inordinate power.

The more money you have, the more likely you are to vote and thus, to call the shots. People would rather vote to protect what they have than vote to change things.

If everyone at the lower end of the social strata were to vote, there would be no Republican victories. Democracy needs people to have meaningful choices and all too often we don't get choices. No matter how good a candidate looks on paper, it is important to have choices.

In the case of Downing's retirement, at least one seemingly well-qualified, homegrown candidate has put himself forward. My bet is that if Adam Hinds wins he'll be in office for quite a long time. There's no question that Hinds has an excellent resume but I would argue that we still need choices.

But we know that it costs a small fortune to even run for these offices. One has to find enough money for so-called mailers that reach every voter. Then there is radio and television exposure. Sure, public radio will do our part but we don't take political advertisements and we are talking about thousands of dollars to for TV and radio ads.

Candidates need social media expertise and it can cost a lot of money to pay someone who knows how to manage a website and handle everything from Twitter to Facebook and any other new app that comes on the scene.

CONTRIBUTIONS KEY

So people who run for these offices have to either have deep pockets themselves or they have to know others in a position to help. In the case of the latter, those who give most often want something back for their campaign contributions.

That is exactly what Bernie Sanders is talking about in his populist campaign that is really catching fire. If that something back is explicit, then you have bribery. But if it is open ended, there is honor among politicians (and thieves) and the people they take the money from. Once elected, politicians who take the money know what is expected of them.

Far more serious is the sometimes hidden hand of political organizations that represent certain geographical constituencies. I suspect that the newly elected "reform" group in Pittsfield, which I certainly thought worthy of support, is now trying to strengthen its countywide control of our politics.

State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli was the logical choice for that senatorial seat but my political instincts tell me that some of those at the top of the food chain in the new Pittsfield group were snotty to Smitty. To put it mildly, Pittsfield needs all the help it can get. That beautiful little city needs serious crime prevention programs, economic development and a stabilization of its crazy politics.

My point is that as Tip O'Neill warned us, all politics is local. Pittsfield needs all the concentrated effort it can muster to make it right.

CULTURE A STRENGTH

There is one thing about Pittsfield voters; they have a frequent habit of throwing out their mayors. I suspect the reason for that is that things are not improving. We have gangs and opiates and incredible addiction rates.

We have buildings that are seriously in need of rehabbing. The city obviously needs a concentrated and focused effort to fix what ails it.

But there is some good news. The arts scene in the city is excellent. Barrington Stage and the Berkshire Theatre Group and the Berkshire Museum and the Athenaeum and the excellent health care provided by BHS are all great building blocks.

What we don't need in Berkshire County is a bunch of political newbies who start to act like Boss Tweed. Just sayin'.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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February 12, 2016

Re: Alan Chartock hits the nail on its head about Smitty Pignatelli getting passed over

In his latest Berkshire Eagle column, Alan Chartock hits the nail on its head about Smitty Pignatelli getting passed over for Berkshire State Senator! The Good Old Boys power-brokers in Pittsfield politics did not want him to run because he doesn't follow all of their orders. Smitty Pignatelli follows his own conscience and has an independent streak in state and local politics. The G.O.B.'s want someone else who they can control. It will probably be someone younger than Smitty Pignatelli, and who can ham it up with the best of the Massachusetts Democratic Party political hacks. It is amazing how much political power the G.O.B. has over state and local Pittsfield politics!

- Jonathan Melle

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Alan Chartock | I Publius: “Small-town politics an endless cycle of selfless service”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 2/26/2016

GREAT BARRINGTON - Every Berkshire community develops politically. Each has a maturation process that may seem separate and distinct from those around it.

Some develop political aristocracies, some of which are better than others. For years, the fabulous Pignatelli family devoted itself to guiding the town of Lenox. Lenox lucked out.

In Alford, where the Chartocks first settled in 1971, a small cadre of people ran the town. Then an outsider, Gus Berkel, took over things and since then another group has taken charge and has been running their town admirably ever since.

John Barrett gave North Adams his all and was there so long that folks thought he would be in his office forever. Then he lost his power. He tried to get it back but I guess you can't go home again.

For a while, Stockbridge was run by John Beacco and then he was out and others took his place. In Great Barrington, there were a series of bosses, some of whom were a little short in the ethics department. But then a young man, Sean Stanton, took the reins, assisted by the best citizen in the town, Steve Bannon, who also runs the Berkshire Hills Regional School Board. These are just a few examples.

Sooner or later a new group takes over. Sometimes these folks forget how and why they arrived in their leadership positions and make the same mistakes as previous, often failed, political regimes. Arrogance becomes a big part of the formula for gaining and then assuredly losing power.

How does it happen? Well, politics is not for everyone. It means endless meetings. It means taking huge amounts of garbage from townspeople, some of whom are out and out crazy. You need thick skin and the required time to do these often thankless jobs.

If you have one, you need a spouse who is willing to go along and put up with your absences. Sometimes that's a blessing, other times it's the road to marital ruination.

The meetings just keep happening. They keep coming around. Vacations are difficult. Sometimes the others with you on the board are clueless. Watching some of these meetings on public service television stations is like watching paint dry or waiting for water to boil.

You have to put up with people like me who are constantly complaining about the underpass that brings you into Great Barrington where you are met with either an unintentional ice skating rink or an artificial lake and where your life is put in danger regularly.

Or how about that traffic light at the northern end of the main street that leads to Route 41? That's a light that takes about six minutes to change but you don't do a damned thing about making it right because you are not interested enough or because you have lost interest in doing the right thing.

Frankly, everyone ought to try it. If you're like I was in Alford and you want a life, you will not stay with it for long. If you are someone who craves respect and power you might find it rewarding.

If you want to advance politically to the Massachusetts Senate or the state House of Representatives, a seat on the Selectboard might be a good place to begin. You might really be devoted to your town and your fellow citizens. We are lucky to have people like the aforementioned Steve Bannon, who really seems to care.

Of course, you'll have to develop the ability to say no to a pushy town manager who begins to think that you are a bunch of sheep.

One thing you can be sure of — time will pass, others will come along and even though you or some of your followers may think the towns and cities can't do without you, someone else will try their hand and you will be an asterisk. It really doesn't take that long.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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Alan Chartock | I Publius: “Threat to music teaching position strikes sour note”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 3/4/2016

GREAT BARRINGTON - It should be called "Mr. Stevens Opus."

Jeff Stevens is retiring after having done unbelievable work as the creative music force of the Berkshire Hills Regional School District.

Both my kids went through his band and became lifelong music lovers. Jeff Stevens is a superb human being.

He is thoughtful and courageous and has spoken out against the plan to eliminate his position as a thank you for all his incredible work. Hundreds of students and their parents and their parents' own parents have spoken out against this plan.

In my town of Great Barrington, there is a cabal of people who protest that they are for the kids and for education but they always find a reason for backing regressive thinking. They led the fight over a rebuilt high school. Their pretexts were flimsy, not really covering up who and what they are.

"The other towns in the regional district are not paying their fair share. When they do we'll start supporting our schools." Will you give me a break? I can spot a phony from a million miles away.

Back at Joan of Arc Junior High School in the 1950's, I was part of the orchestra class. The teacher was Mr. Eugene Steiker, still the finest educator I have ever met.

He gave me a trumpet and put me in the seventh-grade orchestra, where we played "Hungarian Dance No. 5" and other memorable classics. I can still hear the poor violins screeching away as we played in the auditorium and the orchestra room.

We marched in parades like the West Side "Paint Up, Clean Up" parade. I truly loved that man and kept in touch with him for the rest of his life. He'd visit us in the Berkshires with his wife, Francine, and their kids. He instilled a love of music in thousands of us.

When my brother and I formed a band that lasted through graduate school, it was because of what Gene Steiker had taught us. Once when he was visiting we took him to the Berkshire Playhouse and, spotting him, a man got up out of the audience and at the top of his voice yelled, "Mr. Steiker!" He told us stories of his adventures in World War II; he talked of his philosophy of life.

I was in the midst of a busy day when Mr. Steiker passed, what with television and radio and teaching but I managed to get down to the city. Francine hugged me, saying, "I knew you'd come!" I forget a lot these days but I'll never forget that.

So now the legacy of all the Mr. Steikers and Mr. Stevenses, who gave us so much, has been threatened by the bean counters. Jeff Stevens posted a letter on Facebook that speaks for itself. In it he talks about all that he and his colleagues have done.

It was backbreaking and incredible work. It was a fairly long letter but what really got me was single line that took me back to Mr. Steiker and to my band, the Sati-Lights, and then for almost 60 years, the folk band with Joe Browdy that became The Berkshire Ramblers.

Stevens' sentence: "Of course, performing music is a unique and life changing experience for the students."

There is truly nothing like it. I remember a few Spanish idioms and some history and that's all valuable but nothing compares to all those nights playing music that came from experiences my kids and I got in music class.

There is no memory more clear and important for Roselle and me than recalling Sarah and Jonas marching down Main Street in the Memorial Day Parade.

At the end of the movie, "Mr. Holland's Opus," Mr. Holland's position was eliminated; all his students came together in tribute. A sad ending but maybe, just maybe, things will end on a happier note for us now that the people on the School Board have reversed their earlier decision.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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Alan Chartock | I Publius: “'Best small town' doesn't need bigger government”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, March 18, 2016

GREAT BARRINGTON - There are many things that need to be fixed in our small towns and cities. It isn't easy being the person responsible for ensuring that things operate effectively.

In Great Barrington, "The best small town in America," the town is moving between a time when volunteers ran the show and one when a professional class takes over. For example, we got a town manager years ago who replaced the sometimes disgraceful antics of some of the elected Selectmen.

It seemed to me at the time that this was a very good move. The latest town manager, Jennifer Tabakin, comes to us from the New York City Mayor's office. To put it mildly, Great Barrington is not New York City.

The problem is that at some point in a town's maturation process when the professionals take over, the joy of hard work on the part of the citizen class fades and the people inevitably want hire someone else to do what may have been done in the past by the good people of the town.

LINE IN THE SAND

So, the town in its wisdom hired a professional planner who turns out to be quite good at his job. Now there are some in town who have decided that the town needs an assistant manager to take on some more of the work.

To put it mildly, this doesn't sit well with many of the people in town who already think that the taxes are too damn high. I am not one of the people who turned out in force to stymie our kids' education by voting against an up to date high school. Of course, those folks ought to be ashamed of themselves.

But this time, the people who think that taxes are too high and want to draw a line in the sand are right. The problem with maturing governmental organizations is that sooner or later, the people who are supposed to do the work start to see themselves as supervisors who will assign the work to others.

I'm certainly not bragging but I get to work at 4 in the morning and leave 12 or 13 hours later. I'm not complaining. Grant writing, which will apparently be part of the job of the assistant town manager, really ought to be done by the manager or the planner.

It's just a matter of flexing one's work muscles. New York City has 8 million people to pay the taxes. In Great Barrington, there are far, far fewer.

Look, the work isn't easy. If the town manager is not up to the job, the cry should go up, "Next!" Right now, Great Barrington has to decide what will happen to its pristine jewel, beautiful Lake Mansfield.

TAKING ON TRAFFIC

Christine Ward and the Lake Mansfield Alliance know that our town lake is in danger. The road that goes around the lake is in real danger of falling into the lake. It really isn't a matter of whether but when. Not only that, there is a class of foolish drivers who ignore the posted speed limit of 20 mph and act as if their man or womanhood depends on their ability to take foolish risks and threaten lives.

If you don't believe me, take a walk up there yourself and observe the speed demons tearing around the curves, threatening you and your children.

Christine Ward is one of those people who really walks the walk as a citizen. She has led the drive to create a real park and nature trails at Lake Mansfield. One way or the other, she wants to stop potentially killer traffic.

Her opponents say that the existing road is needed to allow ambulances through for medical emergencies. Of course, the people who live in the newly built housing developments would rather not take the longer way around.

Obviously compromise is possible — let's have an access road for pedestrians to get to beach and allow the ambulances a chance if there is a life threatening emergency.

God bless Christine Ward and the others like her who bring a common sense citizen approach to the town. Keep your eye on the advancing bureaucratic monster.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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Letter: "Column was unfair to GB town manager"
The Berkshire Eagle, 3/25/2016

To the editor:

I thought Alan Chartock's March 19 commentary about the Great Barrington town manager was just awful ("'Best small town' doesn't need bigger government."

He has every right to disagree with her request for additional staff. He has absolutely no right to then attack her using the "she's from New York" line and worse to imply she doesn't work hard and the next town manager might be waiting in the wings.

Why would anyone in their right mind want to work for this town?! He is incredibly disrespectful of her and the job she does and owes her an apology!

Nora Hayes, Great Barrington

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Alan Chartock | I Publius: “On PCB cleanup, will state side with Berkshire children or GE?”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 4/1/2016

GREAT BARRINGTON - Look, General Electric was ordered to get the PCBs out of the Housatonic River. Though it wasn't against the law at the time they put them there, it is only right that they do what they are told, clean them up and give us back the river that they despoiled.

Let's face it — the bottom line for GE is money. They're pretty good at saving every penny they can. They certainly don't pay a lot in taxes. In fact, it might be said that they're too big to pay. The GE tail is wagging the government dog. Apparently, if you are GE and you can you can save some cash, you do.

Let's take a look at the PCB situation. The federal government's Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) told GE exactly what to do. They were to dredge the sludge out of the Housatonic waters and then they were to send the dirty, toxic stuff to a federally approved site somewhere else for safe remediation.

That sounds like a good plan even though the stuff has to be transported over roads that go through places where people live. Considering possible alternative plans, it seems to me like the EPA knows what it's doing.

Of course, GE thinks it has a better plan. It's willing to follow the orders of the EPA and to extract the material but it wants to dump it in one or more of three possible areas around here. The EPA, for its part, says no. The question is whether GE is bigger than the government. It shouldn't be, but not so fast.

Recently there was a huge competition among several states to land GE corporate headquarters. New York wanted the behemoth, so did former host Connecticut and so did Massachusetts, spearheaded by none other than Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, who most people think has been behaving pretty well for a Republican.

Of course, he ought to behave well in blue state Massachusetts. Lo and behold, he lands the big prize and GE moves to Boston on the other end of the commonwealth. I stress the other end because I am fearful that those of us on this end may be a convenient trade-off for landing the big prize along with its jobs and clout.

I am afraid that state authorities, not wishing to lose favor with GE, may not be up to the task of standing up to the giant. To put it mildly, GE has never been what we might call a concerned citizen. When they decide to move, they leave communities like Pittsfield and Schenectady in shambles. In fact, a good part of the reason why Pittsfield is in such bad shape right now is because GE took off, leaving huge holes in the economy. Good citizens they ain't.

I have no idea what was REALLY given to GE in order to cement the deal to get the corporate headquarters. I would ask whether there were any side deals secretly arrived at regarding the final resting place of the toxic sludge from the river.

I would hope not. Remember, we are talking about our children and grandchildren. If you put it in Lee or Lenox or Housatonic you are out of your minds. This stuff is thought to cause cancer and other terrible diseases.

If we let it happen, we are nuts. There are limits. The whole thing seems so outrageous. When you tell people what's happening, they can hardly believe it. Tell a mom with a small child in Housatonic, which is finally reaching the status it should have always have had.

Perhaps GE is coming up with their ideas on this to stall things or to somehow strengthen their negotiating position. In the end, our health and the health of our children come first, not General Electric's profits.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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Alan Chartock | I, Publius: “Newspapers need editorial latitude to best serve public”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 5/6/2016

GREAT BARRINGTON - In the mid-1960S, my good, good friend, Jon Lipsky, came to me and asked if I would like to be the publisher of the Fire Island Sun.

Up to then I had been a head counselor at the Bronx House camps in nearby Copake, N.Y. The Fire Island Sun was the alternative newspaper of Fire Island. We had to start it, find an offset printer (quite new at the time), locate office space and recruit people to write for the paper.

I thought I would be the next Perry White, telling Lois and Clark what to do, but brother, was I ever wrong. It turns out that I ran the business side of the paper.

Among other responsibilities, I had to sell all the ads for the paper and my friend Lipsky had a formula and was sticking to it. Half the paper would be devoted to news, the other half would be advertising.

The problem was that I had never sold anything in my life, let alone advertising. To put it mildly I was in real trouble.

The paper was funded by a group of very well meaning, wonderful Fire Island citizens who hated the existing paper. They got together and each put in a pretty good amount of money. If memory serves, it was about $4,000 each.

These were almost all great people but a few thought that their money entitled them to special treatment and, as I recall, some thought that some of their old enemies would be made to pay for past perceived transgressions.

I remember going to a cocktail party at the home of the editor and from across the room came this lady, well known to all in Fire Island, who gave me hell for not doing justice to the press release she had written about her garden party.

Since I had my hands filled with the business of the paper, I was hurt and furious and no one came forward to defend me. Since it was his mother's house, I certainly wasn't going to throw the appropriate blame, if there was any, on my friend.

It was an extraordinary year. The Fire Island National Seashore was just being passed by Congress and Jon and I traveled to Washington to get the story. The volunteer assistant editor on the paper was one Bonnie Jones, who was attending Skidmore College, and when I was doing my Ph.D. at NYU.

I was dispatched to work with Fred Ohrenstein on his Senate Mental Health Committee so I was in Albany. Bonnie invited me to meet her roommates and there she was, the lovely Roselle, who I promptly fell in love with.

I called Bonnie the next day and Bonnie told me that she had already asked Roselle whether she was interested and was told, "No, he's not my type." When I asked Bonnie who was her type, she answered, "Someone taller." Thankfully, Roselle came around.

Years later, after having established one of the very earliest internship programs in the modern Legislature, I decided to start a newspaper for academic credit. We hired a professional editor and I was the politics instructor and publisher.

That newspaper, the Legislative Gazette, is still around today and when asked how I knew how to do it, I replied that I had once been the publisher of the Fire Island Sun proving once again that what goes around comes around or that there is a guiding hand to all of this.

So I wish good luck to the people who have defied all the odds and put their money where their mouths are. I sure hope that they'll remember, as the board does at WAMC, that there is a professional staff to run The Eagle.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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Alan Chartock | I, Publius: “Now the presidential race is set, prepare for a mudfest”, The Berkshire Eagle, 6/11/2016

GREAT BARRINGTON - It's settled — two New Yorkers will be running against each other for president.

They are, of course, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. This is when all the most serious negative research starts.

They will use surrogates to damage one another and call each other names. They will investigate every deal Trump has ever been involved in, and there are many. Hillary's past will be traced back to Whitewater. She'll be blamed for her husband's infidelities.

There will be rumors of new Bill Clinton paramours. We'll hear about tax records and people who have been screwed by either of these candidates. Those folks will suddenly emerge and from here on in, the gloves will come off.

We all wonder who each will pick for a running mate. I've heard from a lot of people who suggest that Hillary should pick Bernie Sanders. They think that would pacify all the people who backed Sanders and have said they would never vote for Hillary.

The problem is, this strategy runs counter to everything we know about presidential contests. The name of the game is for candidates who have had trouble running against the ideologically pure members of their parties to get to the middle, semi-independent members of the electorate as fast as they can. On the other hand, the Bernie-ites need to be lured back into the party.

Some people are talking about the politically astute Castro brothers (no, not the Cubans) who could bring in the Hispanic voters. While it is true that some Hispanics do vote for Republicans, Trump has been so offensive to Hispanic voters that the strategy of picking a Hispanic running mate may not be necessary for Team Hillary.

Geography can be an important consideration, too. Hillary might want to find a politician popular in a politically strategic state such as Virginia, Ohio or Florida.

As for me, I think she could do no better than picking Deval Patrick. He was a great governor of Massachusetts. He is African-American and we remember how critical the African-American vote was when it came to electing President Obama. Geographically there may be a problem since Massachusetts is right next door to New York.

Another favorite is Elizabeth Warren, who might be counted on to bring in some of the progressive Bernie voters. But she too offers little to bring in the American moderate voters. She also hails from Massachusetts and the idea of a second woman on the ticket may seem too politically over the top for some voters.

Since all the contemporary polls are showing that Hillary and Donald are running neck and neck, the vice presidential pick may prove incredibly important. In the end, however, it will be Clinton vs. Trump and while the veep pick may be helpful, that is not why people will come out to vote in this election.

Both candidates are perceived by the American people to be deficient. They will be counted on to make mistakes that will be seized upon by partisan journalists and will exacerbate the unpopularity that both candidates are already dealing with.

The woman issue in sexist America will be central to the campaign. Have you noticed how Trump brings all the women in his family to one campaign appearance after another? Some have described his entourage as eye candy.

From the day she announced she had it all wrapped up, Hillary Clinton has emphasized the historic nature of her candidacy. In the same way the uniqueness of Barack Obama's candidacy as an African-American was a plus, Hillary will count on the "first woman president" thing to work for her.

Let's not make any mistakes here. Trump has found an audience that has sometimes been referred to as the moral or silent majority. That in itself is extraordinary since the Donald is anything but a moral man.

Get ready, get set, go!

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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Alan Chartock | I, Publius: “Fear of arrest no match for some politicians' greed, arrogance”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 6/17/2016

GREAT BARRINGTON - So why do so many politicians steal?

Clearly, they can make a lot of money within the legal parameters that they themselves have established, so it doesn't make sense that they would chance going to prison, some for the rest of their lives, by doing something criminal.

Most of us are scared to death of getting into trouble — from a wrong entry on our tax returns to not putting the garbage can lids on properly. When we witness one politician after another going on trial, we just shake our heads and wonder why they would risk it all. There are several theories that can help explain what's going on between their ears.

The first is probably the most basic. In a word, it's simple arrogance. These people think they are so important, they can't be held to account. When you are in charge of making the very rules you supposedly live by, it stands to reason that you think you are untouchable.

The one thing that has changed everything is the federal criminal justice bureaucracy. In New York, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has indicted a bunch of these characters. That was supposed to have put the fear of God into them, but apparently it has not.

We know this because the denizens of the legislative deep have refused to pass the kind of meaningful ethics reform that the public is demanding. They are like deer in the proverbial headlights. They are frozen.

They just haven't got the wherewithal to change things that might put a dent into their standard of living. Because they have thus far avoided getting caught, they figure they can continue to do what they've always done. Even as they see one after another of their legislative colleagues being led away in handcuffs, they still take the risks that they have always taken. So the sin of arrogance goes largely unabated.

Then there is need. If you and your family are living at a particular level, it is almost unthinkable to consider downsizing that standard. Consider what it costs to send a kid to college — maybe $60,000?

How much does a private nursery, elementary or secondary school cost? What if you have more than one kid? Can you imagine what cutting out the semi-criminal activity might actually cost? Just look at the testimony from Dean and Adam Skelos that put both in jail.

Another powerful reason that they won't improve the ethics situation is the fact that many of them are subject to greed. Some of these people just want more and more, even if they can adequately get by on what they have. We see it all the time in the "1 percent" who acquire so much wealth that they really can't use it in five lifetimes. Yet some people just can't turn off the spigot and say, "That's enough."

Some people do illegal things because they are stupid. One New York legislator, Malcolm Smith, tried to bribe his way onto a ballot and got caught. There was no way he would have won if the Democrat made it onto the Republican mayoral ballot but he did it anyway. That was just plain stupid. I'll never know what made him do it. He had to know someone in the system would tell on him.

Some legislators are scared. They are scared that their bosses, like the ones who are on their way to jail, will deprive them of goodies such as important committee chairmanships if they don't go along. Also, there is something called peer pressure and that means a lot.

I've known reformist type legislators who were made so unwelcome that they chose to resign rather than endure the dirty looks and scorn of their colleagues. So they get out as soon as they can. That's why some kids don't like summer camps.

Those are only a few reasons why some legislators steal.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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Alan Chartock | I, Publius: “Affordable housing controversy as need goes unmet”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 8/12/2016

It's pretty plain and simple: Low-income people need a place to live in Great Barrington. The town is really short on affordable housing and everyone knows it. When I say "everyone," I mean just that. As a result, there is a fierce debate on the advisability of using the land on the site of the old Log Homes property to build affordable housing. It turns out, however, that the project is not without its complications.

Let's remember that this isn't charity. Great Barrington needs a work force. As unemployment numbers hit record lows, "Help Wanted" signs are popping up all over the place. Many people need to live near where they work. Cars are expensive. Gas prices are going up. Existing rentals at affordable prices are not easy to come by.

So there is a proposal on the table to use part of the former New England Log Homes site for the housing that is so needed. This is on the same Bridge Street where a brand new hotel will be built and a huge traffic back-up is already predicted.

The arguments against building the new development are beginning to emerge. Some people are concerned that we are corralling our poorer citizens into what amounts to a ghetto. This line of argument reasons that any new housing should serve both those with greater resources and those without.

That's the way it started out under the direction of Tim Geller, executive director of the Community Development Corporation of South Berkshire. Unfortunately, because of myriad changing commonwealth rules, what was once a true mixed economic project has, for the time being, turned into a project that will serve only low income folks. That's too bad.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST

As it stands, there are two major arguments against the project.

The first is what we might call "ghettoization" of the poor. This means that those at the lower end of the economic spectrum will be living in a place that has the "poor people" stigma attached to it. A second caution advanced by those who have problems with the project involves the plot of land itself.

Apparently the selected land, as well as the rest of the land that will be used in the future, has not yet been remediated from the toxic chemicals on the site. That could leave residents there at risk and this, of course, is worrisome. As any student of Environmental Justice knows, it is not unusual to see those on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum being put into environmentally dangerous situations. In Albany, N.Y., for example, there was a concern that the tanker trains some people called potential "bombs" were putting lower income residents at risk.

DETOXIFICATION

In this case, once again, Geller and his group have tried. The two ways to best remediate the toxic ground have left the project with some vulnerabilities. One method would seal the toxins in. The other would actually clean the land itself. Unfortunately, neither has worked out.

The way the proposal for the project now stands is that as each building is put up, the land beneath that building will be detoxified as the project moves forward. That leaves the land surrounding the buildings still poisoned and that is the crux of the environmental argument against the project. As always, there are two sides to every idea and this project is no exception.

Geller and his group are doing their best with restricted resources to meet a pressing need while some folks are saying, "Nothing doing until you get it right. "

Tim Geller says that by the time this gets built, in all likelihood the place will be totally cleaned up. But in the meantime, the town's affordable housing need goes unmet. This will be an unfolding story and we will have to hear from town authorities, including Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin. As for me, I hope something gets done.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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Alan Chartock | I, Publius: “Community has lost a feisty, devoted force of nature”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 8/19/2016

GREAT BARRINGTON - Our friend Joan Sussman has passed.

If you lived in South Berkshire, you knew Joan. She was some piece of work. We all loved her but we knew that she had the ability to get in people's faces and she was fearless.

On the day that she died in the middle of a storm on Monument Mountain, she sent out a message, "Storm's a brewing." She knew what she was facing and still she trekked up the mountain. It really was like Joan to take on the mountain once again, sort of like "The Old Man and the Sea."

She just couldn't resist. She slipped and fell and hurt herself and even though she dialed 911 and asked for help, it took hours for the noble, selfless folks on the Fire Department Rescue Squad to find her.

By the time they located her and she was transported down the mountain, she had passed. When the news was heard around South Berkshire it was as if a pall had descended. When a force of nature like Joan disappears, there is a terrible sense of loss across the board.

If you knew her, you fully recognized her genius at so many things. She was a great mom, totally devoted to her family. She was one of the best cooks you could ever hope to meet, and you were lucky, if you got to sample the food at her table.

She was a devoted congregant at Congregation Ahavath Shalom in Great Barrington. When our grandson Noah came along, Joan showed up with all kinds of swag that she had made, along with a ton of books that her son had enjoyed as a kid. That's just the way she was. She was a giver.

On the other hand, Joan seemed to love a good fight. If she didn't like the way things were done, she'd let you know about it.

She was sort of famous for not getting along with the people in her condo association in Great Barrington. They had rules and Joan hated rules. There were times I think she went out of her way to bend or break the regulations. She'd tell me the stories of those fights with a twinkle in her eye. I have to say, I knew I should just keep my trap shut.

We first met Joan years ago in her dried flower stage. She would take flowers and make beautiful wreaths and arrangements with them. We always sought her out at various craft fairs. Her stuff was unique and incomparable. You just never saw anything like it.

And with these flowers she'd decorate straw hats and they were extraordinary. I have no idea how many people still have them but I suggest some day they are going to be prized parts of people's estates.

As with the flowers, she was always out there moving her products and as with the flowers, she had a great thing going. But Joan was a person who liked to move on and like any artist, there were other stages, among them her fruit and vegetable period.

One of the most important things Joan did was to advance the life of her son, Max. She applauded his success; from where he went to college to a party for every event from birthdays to graduation (Max is now a visual designer). Finally, Joan helped him when he bought a farm. Joan and Bill did everything in their power to make the place grow.

Joan's capacity for making lots of friends was also extraordinary. If you went to a Joan party you met all kinds of people, from the editorial page editor of the Boston Globe to some of the most creative people in the Berkshires.

In the end, she was one of a kind.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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Letter: "Berkshire Carousel is a marvel for all to enjoy"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/21/2016

To the editor:

There is a treasure awaiting you at 50 Center Street in Pittsfield: the Berkshire Carousel. It's for everyone, young or old, to marvel at and enjoy.

I visited this old-fashioned merry-go-round last Wednesday with my daughter and grandson, and we all decided it was important to tell folks about it in case they hadn't heard that this most amazing place exists. The horses are so beautiful and all of them are original — carved and painted by hand by hundreds of volunteers.

Thank you to all who conceived of this treasure: the Shulman family and everyone who played a role in creating this work of art for all of us to enjoy again and again.

Roselle K. Chartock, Great Barrington

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Alan Chartock | I, Publius: “Handling of suspected police OUI deserves scrutiny”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 9/2/2016

GREAT BARRINGTON - The Southern Berkshires are alive with talk of alleged abuse of police power.

Look, when it comes to police I think I've done my share. Years ago, I spent a lot of time writing about the Great Barrington Police Department, and there were negative consequences that I wouldn't wish on anyone.

We thought things had been cleaned up. There were more than a few tough guys in the department and most of them are now gone.

The town spends a great deal of money on our police department. We pay for cruisers and the latest equipment but there are some things towns like Great Barrington should not stand for.

Nobody, including the police, is above the law and it's not easy to take on the powerful police department. Let's face it — cops often, but not always, stick together.

Most of us can remember our neighbor Frank Serpico. He turned on some dirty cops and when he needed backup, they took their time getting to him. He ended up with a bullet in the head.

I was working at the New York City Police Department as a special educational adviser to the commissioner at the time. It seemed as though every time someone turned over a rock, they found police corruption.

Now we hear of a Great Barrington cop who was pulled over after straddling the center line of the road in Sheffield and suspected of drunken driving, as reported first in The Berkshire Eagle.

The Sheffield officer did exactly the right thing and called his superiors.

Thanks to some excellent reporting by Heather Bellow in the online Berkshire Edge, we learn he was told to allow the Great Barrington cop to find a ride home. Immediately social media was buzzing with questions about whether it wouldn't have been more appropriate to administer a Breathalyzer test that any civilian might have received.

Let's all remember our children who have been victims of people driving while under the influence. Think about it for a moment. If that cop was drinking and hit an oncoming car, there could have been a disaster. The police are sworn to uphold the law, not to uphold the law for others — except for themselves.

Now the Great Barrington town manager has ordered up a police report on the incident. She will act, she says, after she receives the report. This calls for an investigation all right, but not only by the police. Maybe the town manager should have done the investigation.

Is it possible that we are asking those very superiors to investigate themselves? Come on, the town needs to employ an outside, independent investigator to get to the bottom of this. Certainly there are some police officers who are very angry about this double standard for the way the police and citizens are handled. I don't blame them.

I'd love to see the Berkshire County district attorney conduct an investigation.

He has made it plain to me that he has always done what needed to be done in police cases. Now it's time for him to prove himself. What's more, let's refer this to the state attorney general.

Let's ask our state representatives and our state senator about passing laws to set up procedures for outside investigations into potential police corruption.

Let's insist that our police chief impose internal standards so that this will never happen again and that if it does, there will be immediate steps taken to investigate and even ask officers to step down until a full investigation is completed.

There's a great deal at stake here.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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Alan Chartock | I, Publius: "Heroin crisis demands crackdown on big dealers"
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 9/9/2016

GREAT BARRINGTON - In the beginning, there were those who thought it was just a bunch of hype, but it turns out that heroin addiction is one of the worst public health crises this country has ever seen.

Kids and adults in every town and city in the Berkshires and beyond are using heroin and it is a genuine epidemic. Slowly but surely, we are beginning to understand just how serious the problem is.

I recently visited an emergency room and had a really illuminating conversation with a staff member there who told me how bad things have gotten. Now every ER patient walks away with a packet explaining that help is available.

This summer, the emergency rooms were filled with kids, some so inarticulate that the medical staff couldn't understand what they were saying. We know that heroin may be seen as a way out for many young people who might otherwise have been diverted from addiction by summer jobs and outside of school activities.

Policymakers really don't know what to do about this mess. There is so much money involved in the sale and distribution of heroin and opioids that we are revisiting prohibition.

We have long known that the problem has more to do with demand than with the criminals who make a fortune selling the stuff. There's easy money to be made as kids who want the stuff become salesmen and women.

The crisis was at least partially solved many years ago, when the opium trade was flourishing in China, by executing users. Unfortunately, it worked.

Now we have the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, taking a similar approach and declaring open warfare on drug dealers and users. Shoot to kill seems to be the order of the day.

Duterte won office with 40 percent of the people supporting him but he is now so popular that he has an approval rating of over 90 percent. Apparently, there are a lot of people who think that the extraordinary heroin scourge calls for extraordinary measures.

Many will argue that we should be using a medical model and treating addicts as patients rather than criminals. Professionals like Dr. Jennifer Michaels of the Brien Center will assure you that this is possible.

She's certainly right about that, but we haven't begun to commit the resources needed to get started. Politicians, furiously looking for easy answers, have come up with the Narcan solution.

It is true that a lot of lives can be saved by administering this drug after someone overdoses, but that doesn't get to the real problem of keeping people off the drugs. That is a perplexing question and we need a solution.

Our district attorneys have to be very courageous and willing to tread in dangerous waters. For example, if a police officer crosses the line and becomes involved in the drug industry, no mercy should be shown.

I am told that there is a thriving drug trade in my town of Great Barrington. We have had some heart wrenching phone calls on our Medical Monday program from people who self-identify as users living here and they will tell you that the ubiquitous "everyone" knows who is selling and where they are selling it.

There are certain places in town that climb to the top of the suspects list. If "everyone knows," it stands to reason that the town officials and the police know, too.

Our tax dollars should be funding active enforcement by police seeking out the baddies, making arrests and then, with the cooperation of the district attorneys, prosecuting the offenders. I am not talking about the kids here — I am talking about the dealers who are making the big money.

Let's be clear: Our towns, our schools and our families have no bigger problem. We really have to beat this thing. We can if we really try.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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I, Publius | “Remembering Robert Carswell”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 9/16/2016

GREAT BARRINGTON - Robert Carswell passed away on July 22 at his home in Great Barrington at the age of 89. He was one of the most important men in the country and led an exceptional life.

Among other things, he was a principal negotiator during the Iran Hostage Crisis, he worked for several presidents, and he represented the Secret Service in the investigation into the Kennedy assassination.

He did it all in his usual stoic, nondramatic way. He came by it naturally. His father was a top appellate judge as well as dean of the Brooklyn Law School.

Robert married a wonderful woman, Mary, who had a distinguished career of her own and who remains one of the best people I have ever known. His brother, Donald, was, for many years, one of the top men at NBC. In fact, he was a relative.

My first cousin, Lois, married Donald Carswell. Lois, too, was an extraordinary woman who, among many other accomplishments, was the chair of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. So that made me a relative by marriage to Donald and a sort of extended cousin to his brother, Robert, whom this column is about, and his wife, Mary. Over the years I met Mary, and as everyone else does, I fell in love with her because she is one of the kindest and most decent people I have ever known and that goes back a LOT of years.

In the very early 1960s, I went to Washington to work on my master's degree at American University. My mother told her friend, Mary Carswell, and Mary kindly invited me to dinner at their house. This was a period when Robert had taken leave from his law firm, Shearman and Sterling, to work in the Kennedy administration as a top official in the Treasury Department.

I arrived in the one shiny suit that I owned at their rented brownstone mansion (Mary says it wasn't a mansion.). So we sat down and there to my surprise was a woman who was to be my date. She was beautiful and attended a local junior college. She was at least two feet taller than I was, she rode horses and, to put it mildly, she was in a whole different league. It was also the last time I ever laid eyes on her. Well, things went from bad to worse because Mary served artichokes. I had never seen one before and certainly had no idea whatsoever about what to do with it. Mary kindly instructed me.

I remember that Robert was also very kind and asked me about my choice in music. I went on about Pete Seeger and, as I recall, we talked about Pete's politics. We may have disagreed about this subject but I remember him being very attentive and interested in what I had to say. I was impressed. He was Harvard all the way and I was Hunter College and American University but he never looked down on anyone. I suspect that was his genius as a negotiator.

Anyway, we always met the Carswells at all kinds of Berkshire functions and because of my insistence that I was related to them, Mary would always call me "cousin." We always smiled and laughed. It was great.

When my cousin Lois passed, we all went to the Botanic Garden for a memorial service and Roselle and I sat toward the middle of the room. Mary and Robert waved us up front and said, "You're a relative, you sit with the relatives." That was kindness.

You can measure people by their countenance. When you met up with Robert Carswell, he had a kind of a smile on his face which I took to mean, "You're OK."

I really liked that guy and will miss him. He lived among us here in the Berkshires but I'll bet most people didn't know it.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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Alan Chartock | I, Publius: "In Great Barrington, change is a mixed blessing"
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 10/14/2016

GREAT BARRINGTON - Roselle and I took Murray for a walk in Great Barrington.

Murray, of course, is our West Highland Terrier, who is not only the cutest dog in the word, but also the brightest, having been taught to speak English by the Literacy Network of South Berkshire.

He looked up and said, "Say, Pop; Great Barrington has sure changed. I can't believe all the upscale shops and restaurants and condominiums there are here now. Do you like the new look?"

I looked at the little dog and considered how to respond.

"Well, Murray I have very mixed feelings. Tourism is what makes the town go. Ditto, second-homeowners.

"When we got here in 1971, there were still tough parts of Great Barrington. Railroad Street, for example, had some dark and potentially dangerous spots. Now it's the Greenwich Village of the town. That means all the rents are going up so the store owners have to make more money. Some of the old funky stores are disappearing.

"Jack's Country Squire was my favorite place to buy underwear. The wonderful Sue Pevzner has just passed and the store disappeared. So, other than on the accursed internet, where will we men buy our undies?

"New restaurants come and go and there are some good ones. The Meat Market people have opened up a fine new restaurant called Camp Fire just outside of town. It's very good.

"Across the street, a relatively new place, the 528 Café, is housed where the Great Barrington Friendly's once stood. Erik Bruun has made an even greater success out of SoCo Creamery and is planning big stuff for the old soft ice cream place on Main Street.

"The Bistro Box, which offers seasonal fare in an outside setting, has really caught on. I love the Aegean Breeze. The Prairie Whale is a terrific place for young families and hipsters and that's just a few of the great restaurants we have. The new and improved Fuel is a knockout. Castle Street is a staple.

"As more and more people arrive in Great Barrington, the price of housing keeps going up. When we first bought our house on Hollenbeck Avenue it really was a mixed place. There were all kinds of people living here.

"Now people who appreciate the town are paying more and more money to live here. That has its repercussions. People who live on our hill are seeing huge real estate tax increases. It's not only because the houses are costing more and more but because the land the houses are on keeps increasing in value.

"The Tax Man tells me that he has to satisfy the state when he figures out who pays what. The larger your lot, the more you pay. That means that there is a lot of griping about huge increases in taxes (8 or 9 or 10 percent).

"We pay a lot more in Great Barrington than what homeowners pay in Alford or Egremont. Of course, we have to pay for the huge police force and a pretty big civil service. I can understand the sound and fury of the Great Barrington taxpayers.

"On the other hand, if you lived across the border in Hillsdale or another New York State town, you would pay more than Great Barrington residents do. What's more, if you live in even a little box of a house on Long Island, you really find out what taxes are all about.

"I remembered the words of my former next door neighbor in Alford, the late Lester Germain. He used to tell me how he would pick up people to stay in the family home in a horse drawn sled."

So I looked at the little dog and said, "You can't push back time or, as a big shot politician in New York once said, 'It is what it is.' "

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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Alan Chartock | I, Publius: “Trump victory a triumph of anti-intellectualism”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, November 11, 2016

In China, it was the Cultural Revolution - Chairman Mao unleashed the students against the academic and cultural leaders and by the time it was over, some 10 years later, there was carnage. People were beaten, they lost their jobs, their children turned against them, and it went on until finally people had enough.

Deep in my bones, I knew this was coming. I kept saying so to my fellow panelists on our public radio Roundtable show. I was told over and over again that I was wrong; that the ground game was all Hillary's; that she had raised more money and that Trump's comments about women didn't matter.

When one pro-Trump woman was interviewed on NPR and asked about Trump's remarks about women, she said that she didn't really think that he meant it.

The New York Times may have assured us that Trump had only a 14 percent chance of winning but the actual polls showed a two point spread. I kept warning that the polling in the English Brexit vote was an omen demonstrating that people were not telling their pollsters everything.

The anti-immigration, anti-Muslim sentiment spread by Trump is alive and well all over the world. Marine Le Pen is spreading the same gospel in France and it is working; Donald Trump harnessed that fear and loathing and captured the presidency with it.

According to one pundit, Trump understood that this was the last election in which a white constituency could be mobilized in a country with increasing black and brown populations to make it an "us versus them" strategy. It worked.

It was part law and order (Rudy Giuliani time). It was an appeal to evangelicals. It was an anti-intellectual stance, as in the letter that was sent to me acknowledging that my fears were correct. "Alan, you were right all along to be wary of the organic anger that Trump tapped into. People are tired of the political academic elitists who believe that they know what's best for the rest of us."

But it is the last line of his short note sent at 1:49 a.m. that really brought me back to the unscrupulous Mao and his cultural revolution. Our writer says of the political academic elite, "They need to take a beating and to learn from it."

What exactly are we to learn from Hillary's loss? Trump received only one endorsement from a daily newspaper owned by a conservative ally. Every other newspaper coalesced to warn of the dangers ahead if Trump won. Those editorials fell on deaf ears.

What we have seen is nothing less than an anti-intellectual revolution. Trump has already made it clear that Rudolph Giuliani will be his attorney general. We had a little pre-taste of what an unleashed FBI might look like when the leader of that agency doomed the Clinton effort with his announcement that they were looking into Hillary Clinton's e-mails, again.

So what to do?

Some will go to other countries. In truth, that really may be the right thing to do. Some will stay here and carry on the struggle. There are a lot of Holocaust scholars who will tell you that they remember just this kind of thing during the late '20s and early '30s.

Now Donald Trump tells us that he wants to be president of all the people. We'll see how much "stop and frisk" Rudy Giuliani encourages. We'll see how many people lose their health care. We'll see how far prison reform gets and whether we will continue to incarcerate disproportionate numbers of people of color.

President Barack Obama clearly saw it coming. He and Michelle gave it their all until the last minutes of the campaign. Hillary must have known it as well as she inexplicably called off the fireworks over the Hudson.

Said Michelle, "When they go low, we go high." Sometimes that doesn't work.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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November 11, 2016

Re: Open letter to Alan Chartock

With the Republican Party in control of the U.S. Congress and the White House for the next two years, they will have to be accountable and take responsibility for their successes and failures. Trump, McConnell and Speaker Ryan won’t be able to blame the Democrats if things go badly. It may lead to a Democratic majority in the U.S. Congress after the mid-term elections in 2018.

I predict Donald Trump will try to take away the freedom of the press (or news media). He will attack anyone who criticizes his administration. He may even try to jail his opponents! Trump is intimidating.

Donald Trump attacked “the others” in our nation. He targeted immigrants and Mexicans in particular. He took the anger working class people feel as they are falling behind into the underclass in our inequitable economy.

As a personal note, if I were married with children, I would feel the same way. I would worry about living in excess debt that I would never get out of. I would hope my children would make it out of the underclass.

The irony is that Donald Trump is wealthy and does not really understand what it is to be a “have not”. His late father was worth an estimated $300 million in 1990’s dollars. Donald Trump is worth billions of dollars. He is an effective salesman and made money off of real estate and casino gambling, which is regressive taxation!

On the state and federal level in Western Massachusetts, all of the delegates to Beacon Hill and Capitol Hill ran in unopposed or non-competitive “elections”. All year long, everyone knew that Adam Hinds would be the next Pittsfield State Senator, and Tricia Farley-Bouvier would win a third term as Pittsfield State Representative. Moreover, William “Smitty” Pignatelli ran unopposed for his eighth two-year term as Lenox State Representative. How many terms is this career political hack going to serve? Is Pignatelli going to die of old age in political office someday?

How come you, Alan Chartock, don’t write about the done deal, undemocratic politics in Western Massachusetts? Is it O.K. that there are unopposed or non-competitive state and federal Western Massachusetts “elections” every two years? Do you support the top-down, political hacks that control the government through one political party rule? Do you think these corrupt, insiders have tanked the local economy with trends of a declining population base and loss of industry and jobs?

It is an interesting set of circumstances between the fascist president-elect, Donald Trump, versus the Good Old Boys political network in Western Massachusetts. The common citizen is losing to the political elites and they are looking for someone new who promises them new opportunities to earn an equitable living to provide a financially secure future for their families.

Either way, I think the common citizens’ choices are not looking good. In Western Massachusetts, they are stuck with political hacks like “Smitty” Pignatelli. Nationally, they are going to be stuck with wealthy salesman named Donald Trump who will not come through on his promise to “Make America Great Again”.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Melle

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Alan Chartock | I, Publius: “Holiday table no place for talk of Trump, race”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, December 2, 2016

GREAT BARRINGTON - Thanksgiving has come and gone.

We all know that whenever a number of people gather around the dinner table, there can be trouble. There's always an "Uncle Harry."

Unfortunately, this year I became the thing I hate the most - the opinionated, querulous fellow who thinks he's on the WAMC Roundtable panel but isn't.

It's one thing to vigorously argue with Rosemary Armao. She knows how to fight back, both fairly and sometimes unfairly. For example, when she needs to, she'll play the feminist card as in, "Don't talk down to me," or "You're engaging in `mansplaining.' "

Never mind that I'm the one who invited her to participate and her great defender. It's just that Rosemary knows how to argue and to win.

The people around the Thanksgiving table are all too often not able to play the game without getting insulted. Needless to say, this year we talked a lot about Donald Trump despite being warned not to do since when it comes to that would-be right-wing dictator, passions run as hot as it gets.

The only thing that can get people more riled up is the subject of race in America.

This election was all about race. Donald Trump's utterances were not-so-thinly disguised attempts to mobilize white voters against blacks and Hispanics in America.

Striking out at social programs like Medicare, Social Security and the Affordable Care Act were signals to those who depend on these basic programs, so beloved in America, that they are no longer welcome at the table.

We got into this in some depth. Now this is a subject that has been discussed on the Roundtable with at least one panelist suggesting that black people cannot be racists since whites hold the power in America.

While I consider myself a liberal and a progressive, it is absurd to suggest that no person of color in America is racist. For example, I have heard people in the public eye who are black suggest all kinds of racist things. Does anyone remember Tawana Brawley? A lot of terrible things were said when a young black woman claimed she'd been assaulted by a white cop. It turned out, the whole thing was a total hoax.

Well, things got real hot around the table, with some suggesting that it was well known by sociologists and other academics in America that individual blacks could not be racist because of their lack of overall power in America.

I shot back that one of the reasons why Trump won the election even though he is behind by 2 million votes was that he convinced a lot of racists, both closeted and out, that things had gone too far.

Put another way, his cry that we had to "Make America great again" was nothing more than a racist screed to "Make America White again."

In fact, many people believe Trump knew all along that this would be the last election in which whites were in the majority. I believe that his entire campaign was centered on his racism.

Well Uncle Harry (me) didn't stop there. I had the temerity to suggest that I knew Trump would win all along, in part because so many of the people who were going to be most hurt by a Trump presidency didn't vote.

There were those around the table who thought that in saying that those who were being targeted had the responsibility to vote, I was wrong again. So you can see that as far as some of my dinner companions were concerned, there were two turkeys at table.

So don't you see? This stuff is poison. As long as Americans are being taught in their college sociology classes things like, "People of color cannot be racists," Trump has a perfect opportunity to scapegoat the so-called liberal elite.

The backlash seems to have won him the election. As Donald said, "I love the undereducated."

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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Alan Chartock | I, Publius: "When hatred hits home, you know democracy is in peril"
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, December 16, 2016

GREAT BARRINGTON — There are many who will tell you that Donald Trump has emboldened the slimy creatures who hide under rocks.

They are coming out in force to do their bullying, anti-Black, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, anti-gay, and anti-woman damage. Not only are we hearing that it's happening in our schools, we are told by various police departments that hate crimes and hate speech are on the rise.

It's one thing when you hear from official sources. It's another when it happens to you.

It began for me when I arrived home from work on a recent Friday afternoon. As soon as I saw the plain white envelope with a misspelled "Allen (sic) Chartock" on the front, I said to Roselle, "Uh-oh, it's one of those letters."

It began by calling me something that can't be printed in a family newspaper. He got right into it then: "You are always calling someone a racist."

That certainly isn't true but the letter got worse as the wobbly scrawled words continued. "By the work, one knows the workmen." He continued, "It takes one to know one."

Unfortunately that isn't where it stopped. "You are a lying, Communist beaded eye weasil fag (all sic). Who Hitler should have cooked."

There were a lot of these folks under cover for many years.

After all, we have a black president who will not tolerate intolerance. We saw people in the U.S. Congress who were determined to get rid of President Obama, perhaps because of his race. When Donald Trump suggested at one of his rallies that it would be appropriate to beat up a protester, we had a chilling sense of what was to come.

We just saw the movie "Woman in Gold" with its chilling scenes showing Jewish citizens who were made to get on their hands and knees to scrub the streets surrounded by the very people that Trump is now appealing to. Those righteous citizens were screaming their approval as the Jews were beaten and degraded.

We are now beginning to hear stories of a cab driver who turned on a woman wearing a hijab. Muslim citizens are being stopped in the streets and degraded. So we ask, "Why?" When Hitler gave the OK, the die was cast. Words have immense power so when the president-elect uses them, they offer implicit approval for that very ignorant group to start doing what we are now seeing being done.

It is not surprising that our letter writer appealed to Hitler's memory and referred to me, a Jew, as one "who Hitler should have cooked."

I met a lovely lady the other day who counseled me not to be worried by Trump. I responded that a lot of people said that about Hitler, who they saw as a clown and a fool.

Before Trump was elected, he kept telling us that the election was rigged. Then, when he won, apparently the election wasn't rigged.

He began appointing generals to his Cabinet. I am somewhat concerned that in four years Trump might tell us that the coming presidential election will also be rigged.

That's when he may need his generals. I mean, if he tells us that an election is rigged and this time he is the president, wouldn't it be natural for him to tell the nation that we couldn't have an election until he thought it was safe? History is rife with this kind of thing.

In the meantime, I would ask the letter writer to try to remember what side of history they were on when this democracy went south.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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Alan Chartock: “Courage can be found in the Four Freedoms”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, December 23, 2016

People are living in fear about the incoming Trump administration. We all know what mass depression is all about and we are living in it. People wake up feeling blue. Some are given over to tears while others are just plain angry.

This depression has no real geographical limits although it does seem to be endemic in the Berkshires of Blue State Massachusetts. I can't tell you how many people have asked me what they can do. Some will march, many will write their legislators who will hopefully have the strength and courage to do what is right. Some town meetings will have resolutions passed that try to fill the gaps that will be left in the social welfare net. Groups like the Volunteers in Medicine will be overwhelmed by those in need of affordable health care. Our emergency rooms will surely be strained. One person wrote me this week with what seemed like a good idea: "Time for a general strike."

In any case, this is a time for courage. This is nothing new in this country. Those of us who are a little older remember Joe McCarthy and the scourge of the House Un-American Activities Committee who were given to sending people to jail because they would not name others they knew to be Communists.

One of my heroines in the Berkshires introduced me to an idea for coalition building that really makes sense. Megan Whilden has been doing a phenomenal job running OLLI, a superb organization that offers continuing education classes to Berkshire residents taught by some of the brightest retired professionals in the area. Now she and some of her colleagues have come up with the idea of "The Four Freedoms Coalition" (freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from fear, freedom from want). The idea is to bring together a whole group of people from across the political spectrum who will insist on preserving Roosevelt's Four Freedoms as depicted so beautifully by Norman Rockwell. These are the very Freedoms that the incoming administration seems to want to undermine, all the while arguing that they will "Make America great again." Let's remember that a lot more people voted for Clinton than for what looks like a new fascist group composed of generals, military men, and corporatists who want to eliminate the very essential protections that this country needs to provide a future for our children and grandchildren.

When Hillary Clinton lost the electoral vote, Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer issued courageous remarks. "Let's weave together a city that's compassionate and inspired," she said. Her can-do message ended with a little optimism, "See you on the bright side."

Whilden says, "The Four Freedoms Coalition came together because of our need here in the Berkshires to come together and reaffirm our belief in core American values of tolerance, kindness and freedom and against the bigotry and prejudice that have been rising throughout our country and even here in the Berkshires." The list of participating organizations in the new coalition is too long to get into the 650 words I am allotted in this column but it is impressive, including the local branch of the NAACP.

Should you want to get involved, go the Facebook page or to the soon-to-be-finished website 4freedomscoalition.org. You'll find a list of courageous politicians who have endorsed and joined the effort. The coalition will march and rally in downtown Pittsfield on Saturday, Jan. 7.

In union, there is strength. This is no time for fear. Trump will have the FBI, the CIA and all of the agencies of government to do his work. I remember Pete Seeger's manager, Harold Leventhal, telling me that when Pete was arrested and thrown in jail because he had defied those who derail our republican democracy, Pete was annoyed that he was released from custody after just a few hours.

The time for courage is now.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's landmark 1941 "Four Freedoms" speech to the 77th Congress has inspired a Jan. 7 march and rally in Pittsfield. The event's purpose is to "defend and reclaim the Four Freedoms for all peoples." The New York Times.

"With January 7 [2017] rally in Pittsfield, countywide coalition unifies around Four Freedoms"
By Jenn Smith, jsmith@berkshireeagle.com - The Berkshire Eagle, December 23, 2016

PITTSFIELD — Republican or democrat, black or white, gay or straight, rich or poor, the preservation of freedom is worth marching for — at least that's the hope of the organizers of the upcoming Four Freedoms March & Rally.

This stance of solidarity will be staged in downtown Pittsfield on Saturday, Jan. 7, a day after the 75th anniversary of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's landmark 1941 "Four Freedoms" speech to the 77th Congress. Roosevelt, with the nation on the brink of World War II, outlined a democracy looking forward to "a world founded upon four essential human freedoms": "freedom of speech and expression," "freedom of every person to worship God in his own way — everywhere in the world," "freedom from want," and "freedom from fear."

The statement of purpose for the newly convened Four Freedoms Coalition, a grassroots group of concerned citizens which is organizing the Jan. 7 march and rally, declares, "Our purpose is to defend and reclaim the Four Freedoms for all peoples."

Participants are invited to gather at 12:30 p.m. in front of St. Joseph's Parish on North Street. The march will commence at 1, and will finish inside the First Church of Christ at Park Square, with various speakers, including James Roosevelt III, the paternal grandson of FDR.

The Four Freedoms Coalition defines itself and its partners as "a diverse, non-partisan, Berkshires-based coalition," united by the Four Freedoms and through rejecting acts of "bigotry and prejudice."

This, however, does not mean that participants in the Four Freedoms March & Rally all have to agree on every issue.

"Participants will have different issues they're going to pursue and may very well have different views, but regardless on any views on particular issues, we can't unite if we can't talk [about an issue]," said Sherwood Guernsey.

A co-leader within the coalition, Guernsey is a local attorney, a co-founder of Berkshire Brigades democratic group, a former state representative, and a team leader at the First Congregational Church of Williamstown.

He recently visited The Eagle with other coalition leaders — Shirley Edgerton, Brian Morrison, Dennis Powell and Megan Whilden — to talk about the development of this group and its inaugural event.

"We're really looking at the power being with the people, despite the outcome of the election," said Powell, president of the Berkshire County Branch of the NAACP and member of the Pittsfield Million Father March. Powell said he hopes young people in particular will find in the event more motivation to get involved in community conversations and decision-making.

"We see the Four Freedoms as the common ground," said Guernsey. "They're truly American values that everyone should support. Everybody is talking about the need to do something to change our country. We want people to walk the talk. So, we're going to march."

Both North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright and Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer are lending their support to the event.

Roberta McCulloch-Dews, Pittsfield's director of administrative services, earlier this month attended a planning meeting for the march on behalf of Mayor Tyer.

"The mayor felt this was an important event for the city to support because it reflects the very best that we aspire to as a community. In the wake of the national election, Mayor Tyer affirmed her commitment to leadership that fostered unity, compassion, and respect for one another," McCulloch-Dews said.

McCulloch-Dews said the mayor favored the initiative, which builds upon the work of multiple organizations to better communications and strengthen relationships between people in the community.

The intention of the rally isn't to be just a one-day event; rather, the goal is to provide an opportunity for people to get involved. Many of the community organizations and groups that will be marching will also be distributing information on ways people can participate and support ongoing work," she said.

Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless said that as an elected official, it only makes sense for him to be a partner of this cause, "to indicate to people if there are any instances where there are civil rights violations that we're fully prepared to see that the law is enforced."

In addition to locally based state delegates, coalition members say state Auditor Suzanne Bump and Newton Mayor Setti Warren, who is being eyed as a 2018 gubernatorial candidate, have also endorsed the event and group's work.

Whilden, who is joining the executive committee of the Berkshire NAACP branch and is also representing Berkshire Brigades, characterized the Jan. 7 event as "a big tent of solidarity" where everyone should feel safe to speak their minds and be heard. She said this is why the coalition has reached out to multiple political and non-partisan, community and faith organizations, from the local Republican and Green-Rainbow Party groups, to theater and labor groups.

As it stands, the current list of partners include a number of democratic committees, but the coalition members say that whether groups or individuals identify themselves, the turnout will be balanced.

"All you can do is appeal to others, if not to march to at least be there to hear the speeches or be a part of the tables of information offered there," said Edgerton, who also sits on the local NAACP executive committee and Women of Color Giving Circle leadership group.

Morrison, president of the Berkshire Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, and member of the Pittsfield Democratic Committee, agreed. "You should just show up and listen to learn."

Reporter Jenn Smith can be reached at 413-496-6239.

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THE PARTNERS

Some of the Four Freedoms Coalition partners include:

Lead partners:

Berkshire County Branch of the NAACP

Berkshire Central Labor Council

Berkshire Brigades

Elected officials:

State Auditor Suzanne Bump

State Senator Benjamin Downing

State Senator-elect Adam Hinds

District Attorney David Capeless

Berkshire County Sheriff Tom Bowler

State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier

State Rep. Paul Mark

State Rep. Smitty Pignatelli

State Rep. Gail Cariddi

Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer

North Adams Mayor Dick Alcombright

Newton Mayor Setti Warren

Central Berkshire Registrar of Deeds Patsy Harris

Registrar of Probate Francis Marinaro

Community organizations:

Barrington Stage Company

Manos Unidas

Berkshire Stonewall Community Coalition

Women of Color Giving Circle

Multicultural BRIDGE

Berkshire Theatre Group

Youth Alive

First Church of Christ, Pittsfield

Rainbow Seniors of Berkshire County

United Africans of the Berkshires

Berkshire Immigrant Center

United Educators of Pittsfield

Rites of Passage & Empowerment (R.O.P.E.)

350Mass - Berkshires

Berkshire Citizens for Peace & Justice

Unitarian Universalist Meeting of South Berkshire - Social Justice Committee

Progressive Democrats of America

WAM Theatre

Living Change

Becket Democratic Committee

Williamstown Democratic Committee

Sheffield Democratic Committee

Pittsfield Democratic Committee

IF YOU GO ...

What: Four Freedoms March & Rally, organized by the Four Freedoms Coalition, “to defend and reclaim the Four Freedoms for all peoples.”

When: Downtown Pittsfield on Saturday, January 7 [2017]. Gather at 12:30 p.m. in front of St. Joseph’s Parish on North Street. March at 1 leads to the First Church of Christ at Park Square, to hear various speakers, including U.S. Sen. Edward Markey; Tahirah Amatul-Wadud of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women; James Roosevelt, grandson of Franklin Delano Roosevelt; Elizabeth “Liz” Recko-Morrison, 2015 Berkshire Labor Person of the Year; Dennis Powell, president, Berkshire County Branch of the NAACP; Eleanore Velez, BCC Multicultural Center director; Ethan Zuckerman, director, MIT Center for Civic Media.


From left, Sherwood Guernsey, Shirley Edgerton, Dennis Powell, Brian Morrison and Megan Whilden are members of The Four Freedoms Coalition, which is hosting a march and rally in Pittsfield on January 7, 2017. Ben Garver – The Berkshire Eagle.

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Letter: “Join march, rally Saturday to defend our freedoms”
The Berkshire Eagle, January 4, 2017

To the editor:

If you're concerned about where this country is headed and feel helpless to change its course, then join the hundreds of people who will march and rally in Pittsfield this Saturday in support of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Four Freedoms and against bigotry and prejudice.

FDR outlined the Four Freedoms — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear — 76 years ago, on January 6, 1941, and the Berkshires' Norman Rockwell broadened their fame with a series of illustrations two years later. But from the moment FDR gave his speech, those true American values have become symbols of American exceptionalism. Today, however, those same values are threatened, and it will take all of us speaking, marching, and rallying together to keep them alive for our children and grandchildren.

So if you believe in the Four Freedoms and want to preserve them for everyone, join us Saturday, January 7, in downtown Pittsfield for the Four Freedoms Coalition March & Rally. The event is being organized by the newly formed non-partisan Four Freedoms Coalition, led by the Berkshire County Branch of the NAACP, the Berkshire Central Labor Council, and Berkshire Brigades. Remarkably, in less than a month, the coalition has garnered the support of over 80 community partners, including the city of Pittsfield, faith communities, cultural organizations, local businesses, and over 20 elected officials, including both both Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, and both Berkshire County mayors, Linda Tyer of Pittsfield and Richard Alcombright of North Adams.

Marchers will assemble at 12:30 p.m. in front of St. Joseph's Church at 414 North St. and beginning at 1 p.m. will march down North Street for a rally at First Church of Christ on Park Square. Sen. Markey and FDR's grandson, James Roosevelt, will speak at the rally.

Let's defend American values. I hope to see you there.

Lee Harrison,
Williamstown

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James Roosevelt, the grandson of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, speaks at the First Congregational Church after a march down North Street in defense of the four freedoms outlined in FDR's famous 1941 speech. Saturday, January 7, 2017. Credit: Stephanie Zollshan - The Berkshire Eagle.

“'Four Freedoms for all'”
More than 1,000 turn out for march in Pittsfield to support freedoms in time of rising fear and racism
By Derek Gentile, Dgentile@berkshireeagle.com – The Berkshire Eagle, January 7, 2017

PITTSFIELD — There were people sitting in the pews and in front of the pews at the First Church of Christ Congregational on East Street. And there were people sitting on bookcases that held hymnals, people sitting on the side of the altar and people packed the balcony above.

There were only supposed to be a total of 900 people in the main hall of the church at Saturday afternoon's Four Freedoms Coalition March and Rally. That number was clearly exceeded. By a bunch. There was also a room on the second floor that provided an audio feed of the event, according to the Rev. James Lumden, pastor of the Congregational Church. That room was also filled.

In all, more than 1,300 people shared a message of tolerance, love and acceptance at the rally. Delivering this message a roster of speakers, including James Roosevelt, the grandson of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and state and local officials and activists.

The march was in support of the four freedoms espoused by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 1941 State of the Union address: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear. These freedoms were then embodied by famed artist Norman Rockwell in four paintings for the Saturday Evening Post.

The Rev. Sheila Sholes-Ross, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Pittsfield, was the mistress of ceremonies.

"Three minutes and three minutes only!" insisted Sholes-Ross to the dozen speakers sitting on the altar. And for the most part, all the speakers kept to that time limit.

Dennis Powell, president of the Berkshire County chapter of the NAACP, posited that the Four freedoms speech, coupled with Eleanor Roosevelt's Universal Declaration of Human Rights speech to the United Nations years later, "form the foundation of our country."

Everyone, said Powell, regardless of race, ethnicity or creed, should have access to basic human rights: Life, liberty and security of person, as well as the right to medical care and "the right to equal pay for equal work."

All the speakers were succinct and inspiring. U.S. Sen Edward Markey, the second speaker, got the crowd riled up early. Markey railed against elements of the country who "do not share the ideals of the Rev. Martin Luther King and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. They traffic in prejudice and hate. That is why you are here today: To recommit to the concept of the Four Freedoms.

"The work we do today," he said, "will resonate long after."

Attorney James Roosevelt of Cambridge, the grandson of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, reiterated the four freedoms of his grandfather's speech.

"When my grandfather gave that speech," he reminded the audience. "the world and the United States were facing authoritarianism in Europe and Asia, economic hardship, racism and isolationism. The challenges we face in 2017 have different specifics, but the same essence."

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, reminded the crowd that the "vision of FDR and the imagery of Norman Rockwell have stood the test of time."

He noted that the event was happening in a Congregational Church, a church in which the word "rejoice" is often used. The size and enthusiasm of Saturday's crowd, he said, was "a cause for rejoicing."

Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer led the whole program off. "I believe today' experience will stay with you long after it's over,"

"Our challenges are many," Tyer said. "But my resolve is strengthened. Is yours?"

Reach staff writer Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.

"We can't expect the federal government to do our work for us. We have to find a way to fight for these freedoms ourselves. We can't just speak out. We also have to listen to those with a different point of view.”
- Ethan Zuckerman, Director of the MIT Center on Civic Media.

"My hands and feet may be chained. My mind will never be tamed.”
- Ayla Wallace, Student, Miss Hall's School.

"Learn about your beliefs, and about the beliefs of others. You will find there are more similarities than differences.”
- Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, Member, Board of Directors of The Massachusetts Council On American-Islamic Relations.

"At [BCC], I work with the immigrant population. No one sent them here. Like your mother and father or your grandparents, they came here to be free. They came for a better life. Divisive rhetoric can make people hate each other.”
- Eleanor Valez, Director, Berkshire Community College Multicultural Center.

"Hatred, prejudice and bigotry must be overcome. I and others who are gay stand with you. We don't need to agree, we need to be respectful and listen to others' points of view.”
- Peter Marchetti, President, Pittsfield City Council

"We must listen to each other, even when people are not talking about our issues.”
- Elizabeth Recko Morrison, 2015 Berkshire Labor Person of the Year.

"We must ensure that bigotry and prejudice of any kind will not be tolerated in our city!”
- The Rev. Sheila-Soles Ross, Pastor of the First Baptist Church Of Pittsfield

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Over 1,000 community members march through Pittsfield in defense of the four freedoms outlined in Franklin Delano Roosevelt's famous 1941 speech. The march began at St. Joseph's Church and concluded with a series of speeches at First Congregational Church. Saturday, January 7, 2017. Credit: Stephanie Zollshan - The Berkshire Eagle.

"Determined demonstrators brave the cold"
'This isn't a rally against anything. This is in support of the ideals of the United States.'
By Derek Gentile, Berkshireeagle.com - January 7, 2017

PITTSFIELD — The best way to negotiate Saturday afternoon's Four Freedoms Coalition March and Rally was to stay near the middle of the pack. Neither too far left nor too far right. That way, human body heat was most effective.

But despite the 18 degree temperature, and gray skies, more than 1,300 people from throughout Berkshire County trod the 4 1/2 blocks from St. Joseph's Church on North Street to the First Church of Christ Congregational on East Street to participate in the event.

The walk and subsequent rally at the First Congregational Church was organized by The Four Freedoms Coalition in response to the increase of racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric, attacks on the press and plans to dismantle national social service safety nets that started during the campaign and have increased since the election of Donald Trump. The effort earned the support of more than 150 local nonprofits, businesses and elected officials.

The Four Freedoms for which the march was named refers to two inter-related concepts. The first are the four freedoms outlined in the 1941 State of the Union address by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. These are the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear. The concepts, said Roosevelt, embodied the American ideals for a successful future.

But the march also referenced the portraits painted by famed local illustrator Norman Rockwell. The paintings are literal illustrations of those four freedoms. They were created in 1943 and adorned the covers of the Saturday Evening Post.

"We're doing this because we need to show unified solidarity against those that may diminish the rights of humans," said Dennis Powell, President of the Berkshire County Chapter of the NAACP. "We're really looking to make sure that people have access to basic rights."

In addition to being multi-racial, the crowd was also multi-generational.

"I think it's because I'm young," said Tajzna Holiday, 17. "It's good to see people not of my race trying to prevent racism."

Kathy Anker, who works at Goodwill, came because "everyone deserves to be judged by who they are."

Weather-wise, it was a typical early January day in Berkshire County.

"The weather was not too bad," said marcher Eugene Michalenko of Adams. "A little icy, but the wind was OK."

Police reported no incidents and overall, the walk was almost festive, despite the conditions.

Participants were working at St. Joseph's Church as early as 10 a.m. on Saturday for a 1 p.m. march. By about 11:30, musicians had gathered on the lawn in front of the church. There was a table for refreshments, including coffee and hot chocolate. A total of 250 cups of coffee were served, according to Jason Verchot, president of the Berkshire Stonewall Coalition and the guy in charge of the drinks.. He also served 200 cups of hot chocolate.

Besides people, there were a lot of signs. For those who neglected to make or bring a sign, there was a committee of sign-makers working studiously for several hours before the march.

"I'm just the sign-maker," said Mary Dickson of Pittsfield, who, with her husband John, was punching holes in large cardboard squares and running string through the holes. The point, her husband explained, was to give the marchers a blank sign and allow them to create their own own saying.

"This will allow people to create their own slogans," said John Dickson. "We just ask them to be civil."

There were signs referencing the four freedoms and signs urging readers to support unity, tolerance and acceptance.

Pittsfield police kept traffic moving on North Street and people on the march route. It was cold, so there was a tendency to move faster than usual. But overall, walkers tried to help those with less mobility.

The crowd was upbeat and affable, chanting slogans such as "Four Freedoms for all!"

"This isn't a rally against anything," said one walker, Timothy Mahon, a professor at Williams College. "This is in support of the ideals of the United States."

Reach staffer Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.

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Our Opinion: “Taking a stand for our freedoms”
The Berkshire Eagle, Editorial, January 9, 2017

The past year has seen a rise in acts and expressions of racism, hatred and intolerance across the nation. A response is needed, and a powerful one was offered Saturday in Pittsfield.

An estimated 1,300 people turned out for a march and rally organized by the local Four Freedoms Coalition. Berkshire residents marched from St. Joseph's Church on North Street to the First Church of Christ Congregational Church on East Street, where a number of speakers addressed the packed church (Eagle, January 4.) The size of the turnout was impressive, as was the makeup of the marchers: young and old, men and women, people of different races and ethnic groups. Some groups are more threatened than others in today's political climate, but when anyone's rights are jeopardized, everybody's rights are as well. Saturday's march and rally is a strong indicator that Berkshire residents are aware of what is at stake for all.

The four freedoms — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear — were articulated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his State of the Union speech in 1941. To FDR, they embodied the ideals that constituted the bedrock of America. The four freedoms were immortalized by the portraits done by Stockbridge's Norman Rockwell that graced the covers of the Saturday Evening Post.

James Roosevelt, the grandson of FDR, told the audience at First Congregational that the authoritarianism, economic unfairness, racism and isolationism that imperiled the world in 1941 are with us today, although in different manifestations. Along with the bigotry and hatred infesting America today, there is support for the "strong man" type of government that poisoned Europe on the eve of World War II and threatens basic democratic principles.

Those who think that the November elections gave them license to deprive women, minorities and gays of their hard-won rights must be confronted by those who believe otherwise.

The notion that the elections mean an end to the social programs that benefit the poor, the elderly and blue collar workers and their families must also be resisted. The four freedoms are under assault in 2017 and must be vigorously defended.

One of the many positive aspects of Saturday's march and rally was the absence of anger. We saw more than enough anger and vitriol in the presidential campaign. A lack of anger, however, doesn't mean a lack of resolve. Berkshire County, and ideally the nation, must resolve in the months and years ahead to stand up for our four freedoms in positive and constructive ways and assure that those freedoms are extended to all Americans.

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Letter: "March, rally succeeded with help from many"
The Berkshire Eagle, January 9, 2017

To the editor:

A huge thank you to all who participated in the Four Freedoms March and Rally on Saturday. On a very cold January day, around 2,000 people (as reported by many) came out in support of our Four Freedoms - our basic American values - and against hatred, bigotry and prejudice.

We truly hope it was inspiring and energizing. The struggles ahead to preserve and protect those rights may well be many.

Also deserving a big thank you are Pittsfield's Mayor Linda Tyer; the Pittsfield police, especially Police Chief Mike Wynn and Captain John Mullin; the downtown merchants who withstood the closure of the north lanes on North Street during the march; the host churches, St. Joseph's and First Church of Christ; the over 175 coalition partners: community organizations, businesses, and elected officials; and the many individuals who spent many long hours to make the entire march and rally possible.

If you wish to join the coalition, please go to our website: 4freedomscoalition.org; or do any of the following: send an email to 4freedomscoalition@gmail.com; or text 4freedoms to 66866, or go to Facebook @fourfreedomscoalition.

Sherwood Guernsey,
Williamstown
Sherwood Guernsey writes on behalf of the lead partners: Berkshire County Branch of the NAACP, Berkshire Central Labor Council, and Berkshire Brigades.

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Letter: “Defend Four Freedoms on four battlefields”
The Berkshire Eagle, January 10, 2017

To the editor:

My husband was a World War II veteran, awarded a Purple Heart for injury in battle and a Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster for bravery under fire. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge under General Patton. He fought for the Four Freedoms that President Roosevelt defined in his State of the Union address in 1941.

Last weekend, I marched down North Street in Pittsfield with 1,500 people from Berkshire County in the 4Freedoms Coalition rally. I carried the American flag and wore a sign stating that my husband fought to maintain the Four Freedoms across the world.

Someone asked me whether I was afraid of violence during the march. I answered, "Not at all. That's not the mood of this event. We're all together." As the speakers pointed out at the gathering in the church after the march, solidarity conquers fear.

Now we have to keep it up, defending democracy during the next years of the new presidential administration. There are four key battlefields where we can fight as private citizens — the streets; the states; the elections, beginning with local ones; and the courts. Let's begin.

Tela Zasloff,
Williamstown
The writer is author of "A Rescuer's Story. Pastor Pierre Charles Toureille in Vichy France."

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I, Publius: “Berkshire predictions for 2017? You decide”
By Alan Chartock, Columnist, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, December 30, 2016

It's time for my New Year's Berkshire predictions column.

As you may remember, I write these predictions for three reasons. The first is that I don't want them to happen and I write them to put the double-whammy on them. The second is that I do want them to happen, so I write them hoping for a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. And the third is that I really do think something will happen and I am genuinely making a prediction. It's up to you to decide which is which.

So here it goes:

Congressman Richie Neal who is now the head Democrat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee will fight like hell to bring badly needed infrastructure repair to the Berkshires. He will have a powerful ally in Republican Gov. Charlie Baker who will need Neal's help big time in Congress.

The Berkshire County Four Freedoms Coalition will receive some powerful help from a courageous Laurie Norton Moffatt and the Norman Rockwell Museum Board who will say, "To hell with being careful. This is a time for courage. This is what Norman would have wanted us to do."

The Berkshires will have record-setting amounts of snow. This will make the ski areas and the snow plowers incredibly happy and wealthy.

In keeping with his past record, Berkshire County District Attorney David Capeless will announce a task force to investigate police misconduct issues.

The Berkshire Eagle will win its second Pulitzer Prize.

Yet another bank will locate in Great Barrington.

The president of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts will win a major commendation for courage.

The Massachusetts State Police will announce an enhanced presence in Pittsfield.

Richard Stanley will be honored for his generosity, particularly to the Berkshire International Film Festival and other charities.

Block Island will be announced as a "Sister Place" with the Berkshires.

The Book Loft in Great Barrington will receive a commendation for the best continuation of a business in the Berkshires.

An even bigger Oldtone Roots Music Festival will knock people off their feet and become a permanent addition to the Berkshire calendar.

A long overdue report on a police situation will be issued by Great Barrington Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin after The Berkshire Eagle prints an investigative report.

The Great Barrington Bagel Co. will receive an award for the best pastrami sandwich in the Berkshires.

Donald Trump's company will buy a hotel resort in the Berkshires. Trump will claim that he knew nothing about it. The situation will become complicated when it turns out that undocumented workers are staffing many positions in the hotel. Trump will call on police to investigate but the police agencies will refuse. When members of the Trump family show up in the Berkshires, they will receive a huge negative welcome. There will be so many people with placards and signs that the armed forces will have to be brought in. They'll have tanks and weapons and they will be dressed in the latest protective gear. Russian observers will be present. Local Berkshire women will be particularly angry and will have protective gear below their midriffs. When the family goes to Tanglewood, the musicians of the BSO will purposely play out of tune.

Two previous losers for Great Barrington Select Board positions will try again and be beaten by record numbers. One of then will argue that he has written more letters to the newspapers than any other person.

The old Great Barrington Firehouse will be totally rebuilt and will provide many needed resources for local nonprofits.

The Simon's Rock soccer team will decisively defeat Williams College. Asked how that could happen, a Simon's Rock professor will say, "It's a great thing when you accept a lot of international students." One Republican will take this as a slight against President Trump. "Damn right," the professor will answer.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.

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Alan Chartock | I, Publius: “Now is time to summon resistance against fascist forces”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, January 13, 2017

GREAT BARRINGTON — In the Berkshires, people are gearing up for the four-year haul.

We just witnessed a remarkable turnout in freezing weather of a group of people dedicated to preserving FDR's Four Freedoms. We call that resistance. That's a powerful force — it's been used to fight those who introduce fascism in to democratic societies.

It might be troubling to some that in order to demonstrate that we have had a peaceful transference of power, most of the former presidents who are still kicking are going to attend the inauguration. I suppose that's how it should be, although there are many who believe this is the time to follow the advice of Nancy Reagan and "just say no." After all, it is no secret that most of these men opposed a Trump presidency precisely because he is so dangerous.

The trolls call and write, telling me to just get over it because Donald Trump won the presidency fair and square. Well, not so fast. Trump keeps ignoring the fact that Hillary Clinton beat him by nearly 3 million votes. In other words, in this so-called democracy, Hillary won the majority of the votes. Trump would have you forget that as he claims a great mandate from the American voters. Of course, he won no such mandate.

There is a problem with the idea that senior Democrats like the past presidents should support Trump's election. Trump attempted to seriously undermine democracy and our electoral system by claiming that the 2016 election would be rigged. He seemed prepared to reject the results. When asked if he would honor the results, he actually said that he'd have to see once the election was over.

Now he has taken control and his popularity numbers are already sinking, perhaps indicating some "voter remorse." What happens when he faces a re-election campaign?

If his numbers are low, will he say that the next election is also going to be rigged? And here's what scares the hell out of me — what if he claims that because the election will be rigged he has the right to postpone or call off the election. Look back in history and count the number of despots who called off democracy for the same or similar reasons.

So now it is up to the American people to resist, just as people have resisted for centuries, sometimes at great personal risk. It appears that what has happened in so many other places could actually happen here. From Day One, the Russian despot Vladimir Putin, a former KGB Colonel, was mentioned favorably by our incoming president. Tells me something. Putin has returned the favor.

Now we read that the Russians actually attempted to rig the elections. So I guess I made that up — nope, not really. It turns out that the entire intelligence operation in this country says that is what happened. Trump claims that the Russian rigging (which he now seems to accept) would not have mattered. Well, maybe yes and maybe no. What is important is that the Russians committed what some might consider an act of war.

When I taught American Government and Politics for an awful lot of years, someone in my class would always ask what would happen in the unlikely event that a candidate won the Electoral College vote and not the popular vote. I suggested then that the American people would never accept it and that at very least, there would be an immediate and probably successful attempt to amend the Constitution.

Turns out that I was very wrong. There has been no such major attempt and I think the rules have been permanently rigged.

So the time has come to resist as we embark upon the nightmare.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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“Diabetes scare prompts quitting sugar, meat cold turkey”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed column, The Berkshire Eagle, January 21, 2017

Diabetes is an American epidemic. Uncontrollable high sugar in the blood leaves the pancreas crippled and unable to keep up.

In the old days, diabetes often led to blindness and amputations. There are, of course, two kinds of diabetes: Type 1, typically occurring before age 30, and Type 2 which typically occurs after age 30 in overweight or obese individuals.

Type 2 diabetes is responsible for our epidemic. For some reason, things have been getting worse. The answer to the riddle is that we are probably ingesting a lot more sugar and calories than we have any reason to eat.

There is, of course, a huge sugar industry in the United States and it has spent incredible amounts of money to argue before the public that sugar is not the culprit so many experts have painted it to be. They often offer fat as the real culprit.

More and more, we are learning just how much of a curse sugar is.

I am not an MD and anything you read here has to be taken with a grain of salt, which is also a potential killer in some folks who suffer from high blood pressure. But it turns out that my sugar numbers were high enough to get me classified as a borderline diabetic. So I have been reading a lot of research about diabetes and one great success story about a public servant who learned that he had the disease and decided to entirely eliminate sugar from his diet.

The result was extraordinary and his sugar numbers came down to the point where he tells us that his diabetes has been reversed. Naturally, I tried to follow the same diet. I have completely sworn off sugar of any type and that is not easy considering the fact that there is nothing that comes closer to an addiction for me than a chocolate chip cookie.

People know that and loads of cookies's are constantly being dropped off at WAMC. The thing about addiction is that one approach is to go cold turkey and that's what I have done.

In addition to dropping all sugar and the very salt that I know leads to high blood pressure in my case, I have decided to adopt a vegetarian diet. As my hero suggested, no meat; nothing with a father or a mother and of course, as much as possible nothing white — especially any bread.

It turns out that the Great Barrington Co-op has several shelves in one corner of the store that have the perfect ingredients for the vegetarian/no sugar diet. These foods come in small containers that contain enough for one or two meals. One of my favorites is what Roselle and I call "Googamooga" but they call "Harvest Stew."

This concoction contains, in descending order butternut squash, no-chicken broth, kidney beans, tomato, onions, red bell pepper, Yukon potato, apple, pearled barley, garlic, curry powder, salt, black pepper and olive oil. I love the stuff.

It turns out that in the first week of my diet I dropped an incredible 7 pounds and my sugar numbers dropped between 10 and 20 points. When I take my blood pressure, which has never been a problem, it is just slightly below perfect. It is a little lower than usual.

We have known about the evils of sugar for quite some time. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a man whom I consider to be a gutsy hero, entered into a campaign to limit the amount of soda that people drink. Naturally the affected industries and money people fought back but Bloomberg was right as he almost always is. He raised our consciousness but has lost the fight.

I followed a similar diet earlier in life with some equally beneficial results. Let me urge anyone who is going to adopt this diet to check in with a medical doctor. Obviously this is not for everyone. Let’s face it, from cave people on, men and women have loved their meat and that kind of protein.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the view of The Berkshire Eagle.

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Alan Chartock | I, Publius: “Republicans are best hope against Trump's war on arts”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, January 27, 2017

All of a sudden, the world has changed.

Donald Trump is now the 45th president of the United States, despite losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes. Even then, he claimed a huge mandate.

In his acceptance speech he dumped all over his rivals and showed himself, once again, to be a bully and a boor. Not only that, he keeps putting out confusing messages that are met with some disdain by his own Cabinet choices. Some of his ideas will be really bad news for those of us who call the Berkshires home.

Among his other anti-intellectual, anti-arts utterances, Trump (as voiced by his allies) seems determined to do away with federal funding for the arts, the humanities and public broadcasting.

At the same time, he seems bound and determined to invest even more money in our armed forces, which already expend a huge portion of our federal budget. Poor old Ike must be rolling over in his grave as his warnings about the "military-industrial complex" reverberate once again.

Not only that, Trump's aggressive posture toward the rest of the world means that once he gets even more military equipment, he'll probably want to use it. He's even threatening China.

Meanwhile, back here in the Berkshires, our theaters, our playwriting efforts, the Boston Symphony, Jacob's Pillow and so many other arts organizations may all be hit hard. The loss of federal funds will prove catastrophic to these institutions, which so many people rank as among the best in the world.

While we have many very generous donors in our region, there is just so much money to go around.

For years, the great Marge Champion would complain, "Everyone has their hand out." Well, it is going to get worse. There's just so much money that state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, state Sen. Adam Hinds, and all their colleagues will be able to deliver from the state coffers.

And as is so often the case, those who have the least will be the hardest hit.

As you may know, I head WAMC radio, which so many of you listen to.

I have been warning my colleagues in public broadcasting that this was coming. Now the Breitbart people who have huge presence in the Trump administration are calling for the "privatization" of public broadcasting.

While very few of us know exactly what this means, we can surely guess. He wants to turn public radio and television stations into commercial enterprises, selling advertising to those who hawk copper bottomed pots in the middle of the night.

If public stations are privatized, my bet is that we will be seeing the end of income tax deductions for those who donate. We know that Mr. Trump understands the concept of income tax deductions, which many believe allow him not to pay any tax.

But if and when these deductions are eliminated, the results will be catastrophic for the arts and the humanities.

It is becoming clearer that Trump is waging war on the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. If he succeeds and drops the national endowments, our universities will also be devastated.

So, what's the answer? It seems to me that as Trump becomes more and more unpopular, the Republican representatives in Congress who will have to defend their seats will start to worry that Trump may drag them down with him. After all, my bet is that they have no love for the guy. That's when they will turn on him.

As I covered the Women's March in New York City for WAMC and walked along with the crowd, I heard humor, optimism and a unified group of Americans who were worried and concerned but who will do what they have to do to make awful things better. As for me, I keep thinking one word: "strike."

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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Alan Chartock | I, Publius: “Justice pick is Democrats' chance to fight drift toward fascism”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, February 3, 2017

GREAT BARRINGTON — President Donald Trump has nominated Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court.

This has presented the Democratic minority in the United States Senate with a terrific problem. In fact, I had a tremendous argument with my colleague Rosemary Armao on the WAMC Roundtable Panel last Wednesday.

I hope I'm not putting words in her mouth, but Professor Armao allowed as how she was happy that at least the Supreme Court would have the required nine judges to allow the body to function in its historical role. I took some exception to her point. Frankly, I would rather have a four-four split on the court then a five-four conservative majority.

The appointment of Gorsuch was greeted by some with approval because the man writes well, went to an Ivy League school and clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy. I said, "You can't put lipstick on a pig."

Hey, these are the people who gave us Citizens United and other great judicial hits. No matter how well Gorsuch writes or even how amenable a man he is, he has been vetted by the Trump people and he will vote their way.

I have had several communications from listeners who believe in what has been called "the cult of the robe." This means that once judges are appointed to the Supreme Court, they will be out from under the constraints of those who appointed them and able do their own thing.

There are numerous historical examples of just that — the most extraordinary of those was the appointment of Earl Warren by President Eisenhower. Ike was heard to remark that the appointment of Warren was the worst decision of his life.

Because I am an Ike fan, I never believed that he really meant that but instead, it was a cover to protect him from his more conservative colleagues. Warren desegregated the schools and took us a long way down the road to a judicial fairness that had been absent before his tenure on the court.

Some have pointed out that Chief Justice John Roberts went a long way toward saving the Affordable Care Act and therefore he was a good example of judicial independence from the ones who brought him to the dance. I have other ideas about his motives but it was an example among a very few in his, by now, extensive career.

By now things have changed. We have a Republican-led Congress that literally stole a Supreme Court appointment from President Obama. The United States Constitution specifically says that the president will nominate a justice when there is a vacancy and that the Senate will offer its "advice and consent."

The Republicans refused to follow the Constitution and do their jobs. They knew that Merrick Garland, a widely respected judge, would get some Republican votes in the Senate and would now be sitting on the court. So they decided to not allow the consideration of the appointment.

It was disgusting, degenerate, unfair, cowardly and probably racist.

Things have gotten so partisan in the United States that all the rules are being changed. We have gerrymandered legislatures and congressional seats. We have rules that are written almost exclusively by the Republicans who limit voters' access to the polls. We have the way the Senate does its job in confirming Supreme Court justices.

So, what's to be done? There are those who think that all of this is a drift toward fascism. We have a president who undermines the electoral system by suggesting that it is rigged and who may say that in the next election if he sees really low poll numbers. It certainly makes me nervous with all the generals and military men he has appointed to his Cabinet.

So the appointment of Judge Gorsuch is not independent of everything else. It is just one more symptom of a very one sided and corrupt government.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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Alan Chartock | I, Publius: “Fight GOP efforts to tinker with Medicare, Social Security”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, February 10, 2017

GREAT BARRINGTON — OK, I love Medicare and Social Security. They are life-saving programs.

I go to the doctor and Medicare and my secondary insurance, The Empire Plan, both pay. I believe this Lyndon Johnson program is among the top testimonials to a great president who was brought down by the huge mistake of a war in Vietnam.

Now we have a different president and a different cast of characters (and I do mean characters) in the House and Senate.

Of course, all of this has a lot to do with what happens in New York state and in Massachusetts, where I live. It is rumored that the great Lucille Ball once told a junior executive who allegedly advised her to add more intellectual content to her "I Love Lucy" show, "Don't fool with success." (She might not have said fool).

It really doesn't matter if she said it or not, it's a great point. The Medicare program is truly one of the great successes of all times; so successful, in fact, that many people who believe in a universal, government sponsored health care program think it should be extended to everyone, cradle to the grave.

Naturally, the Republicans hate it. They call it names and have railed against it for years. No matter that the United States is one of the few industrialized countries in the world that doesn't offer health care to all its citizens. I don't have to tell you that President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act is also on the radical Republican chopping block.

Now everything seems to have changed. The Republicans in the House of Representatives have favored killing the Medicare and Medicaid programs as we know them. Medicaid, designed as a safety net for the poor and elderly, is an easy target. They believe that the poor don't vote in large enough numbers to make a difference so they stigmatize those who have the least in life.

It's terrible that they feel this way, especially for those who call themselves religious. But, as it has been said by some of our more despicable politicians, "It is what it is."

We know that they will try to change the program and if they are successful, will alter the finances of many of our American states with a social conscience, especially the big and progressive states that voted against Donald Trump.

But it is with Medicare, a program established to take care of seniors over 65, where the Republicans are really playing with fire. People have so much allegiance to the program that the Republicans in the House have to watch their step.

Instead of just killing the program, they say that they are for either changing it or improving it. Are you kidding? We all know what they are up to. They hate what they call "entitlement" programs. They try to suggest that they are too expensive. They say there are better ways of doing things but we all know that their intention is to kill it.

It doesn't stop with Medicare, which means so much for so many of us. Republican crosshairs also are trained on Social Security, the signature piece of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's social legislation.

When the program was passed, people over 65 were hard to find; so many were dying. Now, people are living longer and the Republicans in the House are saying that the program will go broke in years coming up. That's a false argument — if the program needs more money, that's what our tax dollars should be used for.

Many of the people who have been the beneficiaries of these great programs voted Republican, thinking that their country has left them behind but Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are the foundations of a fairer system than what right wing critics would leave us with. So when they mess with my Medicare and Social Security, I have no choice but to do whatever I can to stop them.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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“Columnist ignores reality on Medicare, Social Security”
Letter to the Editor, The Berkshire Eagle, February 15, 2017

To the Editor:

Interesting column by Alan Chartock in Saturday's paper ("Fight GOP efforts to tinker with Medicare, Social Security"). Funny, I always heard progressives were forward-thinking and interested in, well, yes, progress. Seems like Mr. Chartock's take is to impugn the motives of politicians trying to save Medicare and Social Security from ruin while looking in the rear view mirror to admire the past success of these programs.

Making matters worse he summarily dismisses the Medicare and Social Security Trust Fund annual reports to Congress that clearly show these programs headed for insolvency in the relatively near term. Nor will he acknowledge that for many years Congress has been unwilling to solve the problem by pouring lots more of our tax dollars into the program. Does anyone in their right mind really believe we can continue to spend over 40 percent of our federal government expenditures (and rising) on these programs and remain a viable country?

And Alan, whose tax dollars were you thinking would pay for all this? Certainly not yours. More likely our kids and grandkids. I'm not OK with that. Tell me what makes it right and moral for you to take from others for your own well being?

Jim Pelletier,
Pittsfield

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Alan Chartock | I, Publius: “To be effective, resistance must be civil - and democratic”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, February 17, 2017

GREAT BARRINGTON —"Resist!"

We all know that Hillary won the popular vote so you would think that Donald J. Trump would get the message and maybe meet those in the majority who voted for her sort of halfway.

In New York, where I work, and in Massachusetts, where I live, there are many, many people who are really ticked off. These folks think that Trump and his cronies are leading America down the path to thuggish right-wing fascism. They are determined to organize to do anything that they can to avoid what happened in Germany in the '30s.

Based on President Trump's appointments, they are convinced that a right wing putsch is underway but Congress won't do anything about clear anti-democratic and sometimes illegal moves by the new administration. That includes investigations chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who would investigate Hillary Clinton for picking her nose.

Let's face it — news that Gen. Michael Flynn had fallen on his sword and resigned as national security adviser for conducting conversations with the Russians and then lying about it to Vice President Mike Pence and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus should lead to serious trouble for the president.

The frustration level in this country is so high that resistance groups are forming to do anything that they can to put a stop to Trump's right-wing moves.

One contemporary method seems to involve loading the town meetings of Republican congressmen with anti-Trump supporters.

There is a national organization called Indivisible Against Trump that gives detailed counseling on how to control a congressional town meeting. They suggest written questions that are distributed to the people engaged in taking over the meetings.

Some participants in the resist groups are allowed to bring in signs and others are not, with the clear understanding that if you are holding a hostile sign you will not be called on by the representative's staff. They think it is important for some people to appear not to have an agenda and then to lower the boom.

What's more, resisters are counseled to make videos and recordings on their smart phones and to share all of that with the media after the event.

The public radio station that I work for regularly interviews all the representatives who want the opportunity to communicate with the public. We call this the "Congressional Corner."

Some of the protesters have let me know in no uncertain terms that they don't want me to speak with Republican members of Congress. Obviously that is patent nonsense. When that happens I tell them that they have crossed the line. Look, most people know where I stand on Trump. He scares the hell out of me.

Nevertheless you don't fight anti-democratic thugs with anti-democratic tactics. In fact, much of the advice being offered to the resist groups comes right from the tea party playbook.

The result of this resist strategy is that most Republican congresspersons will just stop holding town meetings. As one recently put it to me, "I wasn't born last night."

Now I am being regularly implored to help insist that members of congress hold town meetings, even when they don't want to. One congressman, John J. Faso, has been more than willing to come on our "Congressional Corner" program and even more interestingly, on our "Vox Pop" hourlong call-in show.

The last time he appeared, callers were respectful but held their own in the debate. Faso knows that his constituents listen in large numbers to WAMC.

He knows that he will not be subjected to yelling and screaming and booing on the radio. He also knows that some of his colleagues have had to be escorted from town hall meetings by state police to protect them.

Hey, I understand clearly why people are so frightened by Trump and his followers. I daresay I've been pretty open about this. Things are very scary but we sure don't want to throw the baby out with the dirty water.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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Alan Chartock | I, Publius: “Spill on ice a painful reminder to count one's blessings”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, March 3, 2017

GREAT BARRINGTON — Everyone has those moments when they wish they could go back in time. I'll bet you have them, too.

In my case it was the Wednesday after a snowstorm and about a week after the end of WAMC's million dollar fund drive, in which $500,000 was raised in a single historic day. Things in my life were going along swimmingly.

But, of course, when you get too complacent, you inevitably have to pay the piper.

Usually when I leave the house around 4 a.m. I look down at the ground around the garage. That day, however, I didn't realize that beneath my feet was a sheet of sheer ice. I felt my right foot splaying out in front of me and when I landed, my foot hurt so badly I just lay there for at least a couple of minutes. Boy, would I like to go back in time to just before that fall but alas, not possible.

At that moment, I was reasonably sure that despite the pain, I had simply sprained the ankle so I got in my Prius and headed off to work figuring that the pain would resolve on the way. Well, it didn't. I drove for about 45 minutes and when I got off the I-90 and turned onto what is called the "Freebie 90" the pain was so great that I pulled over to where the truckers park outside the toll booths and thought I'd try to stand on the leg.

Bad idea. I tried it but it really, really hurt so I decided to turn around and head straight to the emergency room at Fairview Hospital. That took another 45 minutes making it about an hour and a half driving with my right foot hurting very badly.

When I got to the ER there were no other patients and, as always, the staff was wonderful. Out came the doctor, a really nice, competent man named Adrian Elliot who ordered up an X-ray and came back in record time to tell me the bad news. I had broken my right ankle and it would take four to six weeks to heal.

My thoughts ranged from ugh to argghhh. The doctor wrapped the wound, gave me some apparatus to keep me upright and gave me some choices of orthopedists. I chose Dr. Pier Boutin, who has a wonderful reputation. I called and she saw me that same day and told me that while I could use the crutches I had been issued, I had what she called a stable fracture and I could put some weight on the foot.

Yes, ice on the leg. Yes, keep it raised. She sent me home with an air cast to provide protection.

As anyone who has gone through this can testify, this is when a partnership really counts. Roselle, who is ensconced in a fourth book, has been a saint. She reminds me about what the doctor said to do and not to do.

I'm very lucky because we have a tie-line system in my house and I'm able to broadcast from Hollenbeck Avenue but sound like I'm in the studio. My ankle was quite sore (it still is) but I managed to do five broadcasts that first day. In addition, we had several conferences about issues that had to be addressed at the station.

The problem for all of us, of course, is that you really never know when life will throw you a curve. You have to know how to count your blessings.

I could have broken my back or hip. I had a friend who broke his heel on a foreign trip and is still healing years later, with all kinds of pins holding things together.

If this has happened to you, know that there is at least one kindred spirit out there who wishes you well. There's a lot of this going around.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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Alan Chartock | I, Publius: “Resist NIMBY urge with a fair, objective assessment”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, March 10, 2017

GREAT BARRINGTON — We've all heard a lot about NIMBY or Not in My Back Yard.

There are usually two sides to every story. In order to understand the issues, you have to TRY to approach each side of the story with an open mind, in a fair and objective manner.

What's more, you have to balance personal inconvenience against social responsibility and the greater good.

For example, if someone wanted to locate a drug rehabilitation facility next to your house you would understand, right, that we are in the middle of a drug epidemic and that we need to deal with the problem.

You know that but if the facility is placed near your home, you might not be all that happy about it. You might be afraid that a few addicts under treatment might fall off the wagon and steal to support their habit. Maybe even from your house.

You might be tempted to say, "OK, it's a good idea but they should build it somewhere else."

Of course, that somewhere else would have their own neighbors who might not want the much needed facility near them.

Or take personal aesthetic preference. A wonderful neighbor of mine is upset by all the new solar arrays that are being placed where trees once stood. She knows, of course, that solar is one of the answers to our reliance on dirty fossil fuel.

I know a lot of people who feel the same way about windmills. While they inevitably deny that it is a NIMBY situation and talk about birds getting decapitated, it's clear they feel strongly when the giant structures are proposed in their neighborhood.

At least to me, these examples are pretty clear cut — social responsibility versus personal and often understandable personal inconvenience. Sometimes the people with the most money and political clout carry the day. Sometimes they don't.

Let's say that you've moved to Stockbridge like my old friends Charlie and Barbara Kenny did years ago. You settled there because you wanted a quiet life surrounded by nature. Now along comes yet another entrepreneur who wants to build a hotel or condominiums. It is clearly not a matter of social responsibility but arguments are made that Stockbridge needs another hospitality facility.

Some are persuaded by arguments that the new facility will bring tax dollars into town. Others say that the town should abide by its own bylaws.

Hey, every town goes through this kind of thing. Great Barrington just went through it with the old Searles Middle School. Now we will have a new hotel in what may be one of the hottest tourism towns in America.

There are many things to be considered here. We all know that the second-home industry is one of the big factors keeping the Berkshires vibrant. These are folks who don't use services like schools and yet some of these people pay very hefty taxes. There is an argument that they should be honored and listened to.

On the other hand, there are working folks who know that their kids can't afford to live in the area because housing costs are so high.

I know that I have my personal regrets. Jack's Country Squire is sorely missed. Now there is no place to buy socks and underwear.

Rents are going up. Blue collar stores seem to be a thing of the past. Gorham and Norton, in the middle of Great Barrington, is a great hold out to the way things once were.

The Tracys who own the building are relatively young, thank heaven. I'm praying that they stick around and if we all shop locally, they will.

We can't go back in time and keep things the way they were. We must be good citizens, but there surely is an argument to be made for not going too fast in the wrong direction and fouling what has made this place so attractive.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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Alan Chartock | I, Publius: “Team Trump's anti-intellectual bent saps arts, education”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, March 24, 2017

GREAT BARRINGTON — As you probably know, I run WAMC, a network of public radio stations that serve much of eastern New York and western New England.

When the right wing Breitbart organization decided to publish a piece calling for the defunding of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) I thought, "Well, that's that."

We know that Breitbart's Steve Bannon is now sitting at the president's right hand as a senior adviser. I said the die was cast and knew that in order to stay alive, WAMC had to get out and fight. I called it for what I think it is — a potential death knell for public broadcasting.

I certainly wasn't shy about it. I knew that the Republicans in the House of Representatives had tried to defund public broadcasting in the past. So I warned our staff and our listeners what was coming. Apparently, a lot of our people heard me because in the annals of the station's history there may never be another fund drive like the most recent, incredible million dollar fund drive. None of us will ever forget it.

We at WAMC are fortunate. We have the support of thousands of people who "get" how important public broadcasting and the arts are for our quality of life and contribute accordingly. But many smaller, rural stations are not so fortunate. They rely on the CPB funding as their lifeblood and without it, many of them will cease to exist.

After the drive we heard from some of the biggest stations in the country, wanting to know how we did it. My answer was that it was all Trump and that all we had to do was to tell the truth — that public broadcasting was in real danger.

I'll be honest with you; there have been hints from others in the system that we should not be talking about the efforts to close down the CPB and the attack on public broadcasting. Apparently there are those who believe that if you don't call it like it is — a war on the arts, the humanities and public broadcasting — the attempts to shut it down will go away.

So where will all of this go? There is always the possibility that the public broadcasting, arts and humanities people will call their representatives in the Congress and the Senate and the Republicans in the House and the Senate will back off. But since these same people have passed such defunding bills in the past, it is unlikely that we can expect them to switch horses now.

From where I sit, I think we have to continue to have the courage to tell the truth. If it means that we have to ask our listeners to support what they love, I am sure that they will. And if it means you raising your voices in favor of the arts humanities by calling your elected representatives to account, so be it.

Putting our heads in the sand is a bad idea. If you read your history you will see that in ages of anti-intellectual despotism, those people who had the courage to fight the fight are the ones who history shines upon.

Ever since Donald Trump said in his campaign that he loved "the poorly educated," it was clear to me that the last thing he would support were those entities that catered to the mind. The war is on against radio and television stations that encourage thinking.

The colleges and universities that own public radio and TV stations will be under attack for the same reasons. They will be loath to give up their public broadcasting franchises but some may have to.

Hundreds of public stations survive thanks to the limited money they receive from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and they will be the most at risk.

What a shame. If we lose these entities, this country will be a lot poorer.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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Alan Chartock | I, Publius: “First Amendment extends to critiques of judiciary”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, March 31, 2017

GREAT BARRINGTON — Donald Trump has proven himself a persistent and opportunistic critic of the judiciary, particularly those judges who have put a crimp in his plans to "Make America Great Again."

Trump even tweeted that Judge Gonzalo Curiel was a Mexican who was not capable of rising above his Mexican heritage. Many people have criticized Trump, for good reason, for violating the separation of powers that exemplifies the genius of those who wrote the U.S. Constitution.

I truly understand the unhappiness of the Trump critics who think that he is out of bounds in critiquing the judges. On the other hand, why shouldn't any of us exercise our First Amendment rights to criticize an Anton Scalia, Clarence Thomas or any local judge for their clear nonsense from the bench?

Let's face it — the people who sit on all our courts are human beings. They put their pants on one leg at a time, just like we do.

It is obvious why Donald Trump appointed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. He is going to do exactly what Trump wants him to do, no matter what he has said while testifying at his confirmation hearings.

We know that because Gorsuch has a defined written history. His opinions have been vetted. There is little to no chance that he will change once on the Supreme Court. For that reason, a huge amount of "dark" money has been injected into the nomination process.

Well-known legal critic Jeffrey Toobin busted a gut on CNN the other day when it was suggested that Trump was out of line criticizing the judiciary. He made it clear that he, Toobin, does that all the time.

To be clear, Toobin is hardly a Trump lover. But he happens to be right. We have to keep our eyes open because even judges have been known, on rare occasions, to corrupt themselves. Indeed, we could use more, not less judge-watching on the local level.

Once before I got too crazy busy, I went to a local court to observe the goings on there in the hope of generating a column. The sitting judge, now passed on, was a splendid man who treated everyone in his court with great respect and deference. I sat there transfixed through some very difficult cases.

After the cases were disposed of, one of the judge's aides approached me and asked if I would come to judge's chambers and talk to him. It was obvious the judge had seen me taking notes. I did so and he was terrific, asking me if he could help in any way. My impression was that the judge was a nice man who may not have been used to seeing journalists in his courtroom.

I have long had problems with the way in which the Supreme Court does business. I have always believed that the court, one of the three coordinate branches of government, should be televised. That way the public can hold these judges accountable.

In fact, it has been relatively recently that audio portions of the court's proceedings have been released for public and press consumption after oral arguments.

I well remember being in the Supreme Court one day and writing something down only to have an attendant come over to me and tell me that I wasn't allowed to do that. Of course, that was back in my student days and I can only hope that things have changed.

Look, none of us really wants a reporter holding us accountable, especially when we know that some members of the press can be viciously prejudiced. Trust me, I have seen my share of bad reporting and biased newspapers, but when you examine the larger picture, it is critical to our American justice system that we have a free press scrutinizing everyone, and that includes our judges. I am sure that you agree.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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Alan Chartock | I, Publius: “'Nuclear option' pushes us closer to brink, don't you see?”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, April 14, 2017

GREAT BARRINGTON — Of course I still watch "Gunsmoke." Why wouldn't I?

They don't make them like that anymore. There is so much wisdom embodied in those characters.

Matt Dillon, of course, is the equivalent of an American superhero. He always seems to know truth and his pals Doc and Kitty are right up there with him. However, it is his sidekick, Festus, with his crude "down from the hills" vernacular and unique way of thinking, who fascinates me the most.

Unlike Matt's former almost helpless helper, Chester, who went on to be a very different McCloud years later, Festus had a way of talking which has found its way into my vocabulary, often on the radio, that has of late been the subject of some commentary from listeners.

One of Festus' regular sayings was, "Don't you see?" I love it. It really doesn't get any better. So let me give you a few examples of "Don't you see"-isms that might help you understand the concept.

Let's take the concept of bureaucracy. I've been teaching this stuff for what seems like a thousand years. Put in academic language, the material is horribly boring. But, put in Festus-like context it is all so much easier to swallow.

Let's take Chartock's first law of bureaucracy, which I have been teaching for years. It holds that, "Every time you get a new rule or law, it generally means that something has happened to cause the change."

The example I always use is the announcement on airlines that when you open the overhead containers you should be careful because of the luggage may have shifted in flight and something could fall out and hurt you.

"Don't you see?" Festus would say. "Someone somewhere must have sued some airline for a million dollars or more and collected (or not) so we have a new rule because someone or something screwed up. Don't you see?"

Or take what the sociologist Robert Michels said about the "Iron Law of Oligarchy."

Michels was a brilliant academic, but wasn't brilliant enough to reject Mussolini and fascism. He is best known for his writing on oligarchy, especially when it came to the way things got sorted out in political parties.

The general idea is that no matter how things get started in any so-called democratic institution, the results are always the same — someone always gets to be the dictator or the first among equals. Whether it's the House of Representatives or U.S. Senate or the houses of the state legislature or even boards of selectmen, it never fails. Don't you see?

Just take what happened in Washington last week when Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used the so-called "nuclear option." In doing so, he saw to it that it would only take a majority rather than 60 votes of the sitting senators to confirm a Supreme Court justice, this time Neil Gorsuch.

Up until the Democrats starting horsing around with the filibuster rule for other federal judges, it took 60 votes to end debate. But now that the head Republican has changed the rule, it will simply take a majority vote and inevitably, despite protestations to contrary from other Republicans, it won't be long before the same thing happens with all debate in the Senate.

As long as they have the votes it won't be necessary, but when they don't, they'll simply change the rules in their favor.

At that point, the Iron Law of Oligarchy will apply and the majority leader will become the dictator. That's the way it works in the House of Representatives now and the way it works when a group of people take over a business.

Sooner or later, one guy becomes the boss, don't you see? So when the dictator becomes abusive the institution is on its way to failure. Don't you see?

Festus should have taught political philosophy at Williams.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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“In troubling times, we draw strength from spirituality”
By Alan Chartock, “I, Publius”, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, April 21, 2017

GREAT BARRINGTON — The Berkshires have come alive. Right outside our back door, a papa and mama dove have taken possession of last years' robin's nest.

Mama sits there while papa protects the nest and flies at anyone who comes too close. It is just wonderful.

The baby animals are something to behold at the Hancock Shaker Village. So with the warm sun and the kids on bikes and the gardening and the smell of burning brush, we have all been born anew as we are every year.

Our religions have all welcomed the spring in their own way. Jews celebrate the Passover and I never fail to think after a difficult year like this one that we are all spending 40 years in the desert. Christians celebrate Easter and the resurrection of Jesus.

The arts continue to flourish. Tanglewood, the greatest musical venue in the world, is announcing its musical schedule. They are brilliantly bringing on the best in classical music and the best popular music that most of us of a certain age can bring our children to.

But there is some dissonance. In fact, this has been the worst political year that anyone can remember. There is a really dangerous man in the White House. No one can figure out how our great country could have done this to itself.

Just as the great religions of the world celebrate the rebirth of spring, the heat is on as the president of the United States has figured out that when you drop a bomb on Syria and your popularity goes up 6 points, you have made a really important discovery. Trust me, the guy is thinking, "I'll have another portion of that."

Here in the Berkshires we see heroes emerging; going door to door to make sure that people who have been essential to the functioning of our towns and villages understand that we at the local level can make a difference and that we can resist. People are gathering in small groups, trying to figure out how they can stop the Trump insanity.

In Great Barrington, an important ballot proposition is designed to make it clear that the very people who have been the infrastructure of the town will not have to live in fear of their lives. These are our friends and neighbors.

During the Nazi Holocaust, great heroes arose to take Jews and other threatened people into their homes at a time when to be discovered would have meant certain execution. If you haven't been to see "The Zookeeper's Wife" or read Edith Velmans' incredible "Edith's Story," I recommend that you do so now.

I've been thinking — would any of us risk all by hiding someone in fear of their life? Would we face imprisonment or far worse by keeping someone in our homes when the FBI our the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was after them?

What would you say when people in black suits showed up at your door with handcuffs hanging from their belts? Would you, knowing that lying to the FBI or the police was itself a felony, well, lie?

It really is one thing to read of the heroism of others but when the time comes, who would be prepared to take the ultimate risk? Would our neighbors turn us in to the authorities just as so many Germans did during the World War II?

What, you don't see the parallels? I often hear from a good American who takes great exception to some of the things I write. He calls me all kinds of names. You don't think a guy like that would rat me out to the authorities? Yes, I'm sad to say he would do that in a New York minute.

So spring has sprung and we have a lot to think about. What would Jesus or Moses tell us to do?

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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“Resistance well-advised to take Trump's autocratic bent seriously”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, May 12, 2017

GREAT BARRINGTON — Salon.com has an article by Chauncey DeVega that features an interview with the distinguished (and I do mean distinguished) Yale historian Timothy Snyder.

Snyder has studied and written about the Holocaust and makes a convincing case that Donald Trump, unpopular and unhappy, will foment a coup d' tat. This coup will spell the end of American democracy as we know it and create an oligarchy in which our free elections and the orderly transfer of power will be a thing of the past.

I have been saying much the same thing since the beginning of Trump's presidency. As Trump grows increasingly unpopular, the 2018 congressional elections are getting closer and closer. With the House repeal of what has been labeled Obamacare, the man must be more and more frantic. He increasingly caters to his conservative base and polling of that group shows that it is sticking with him the same way Hitler's base stuck with him, no matter what.

Trump's war against the press, including labeling the crucial First Amendment institution "enemies of the people," is but one instance of his effort to dismantle the democratic system. His encouragement of those at his rallies to take physical retribution against protesters and his obvious respect for dictators around the world including Egyptian strong man Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Philippine self-confessed murderer-president, Rodrigo Duterte, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdo an and certainly neither last nor least, Russian President Vladimir Putin, make a pretty convincing case that Trump admires their style and would like to emulate it here in this country. In fact, Erdo an has now arrested thousands of Turks on charges that they participated in a recent coup.

There are a lot of guns whose owners have been making the point for years that this is the best potential antidote to just this kind of government takeover. The problem is that most of these guns are in the hands of the Trump supporters. In addition, Trump has appointed a lot of generals to his Cabinet, yet another ominous sign of potentially terrible things to come. In fact, there are many Americans who have adopted the term "resistance," including Hillary Clinton and Andrew Cuomo.

In an interesting twist, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell recently gave the back of his hand to Trump by saying that the president's call for the end of the filibuster on regular substantive legislation was not going to happen. His remarks on that matter were very forceful and suggested that he would fight to keep the Senate separate from the presidency. He announced strong bipartisan support for his position.

Assuming that our Yale historian and I are correct in our assessment of where Trump is and what he's up to, this is a time for great courage. When Trump recently came to New York City, the expected demonstrators were there but not in the large numbers expected. That is a very dangerous development. If people give up, Trump is more likely to get his way.

Historian Snyder expects that Trump will have to find the equivalent of the Reichstag fire in order to declare his coup. So when you read of Trump's threats toward North Korea, for example, you have a pretty good clue to the possibilities.

Look folks, this is scary stuff. There were those who sought to escape before the Holocaust. My wife, a Holocaust scholar, reminds us that those who said that it couldn't happen and that Hitler was a clown paid with their lives. This may be the crucial historical moment that we should all recognize. So we have to look for that Reichstag-type fire and get out in the streets as the predictable happens.

There will, of course, be those who suggest that this is over the top. Maybe, but that is a powerful "maybe." I don't think we can afford to risk it.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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U.S. Rep. John Lewis, R-Georgia, center, is flanked by Roselle Chartock, left, and Alan Chartock, before Saturday's commencement ceremony at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams. Photo contributed By Alan Chartock.

Alan Chartock | I, Publius: “John Lewis set example for how to combat oppression”
By Alan Chartock, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, May 19, 2017

GREAT BARRINGTON — It is not every day that one gets to meet a living legend.

I've been blessed with more than my share. I got to spend significant time with Pete Seeger. I shared a long running radio show with Mario Cuomo. But the other day, Roselle and I got to sit at a pre-commencement breakfast table at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts with the living legend, John Lewis.

He truly earned that status. Now a member of Congress, Lewis got his head busted on the Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to Selma, Ala. He knew Martin Luther King Jr., he met W.E.B. Dubois and Rosa Parks. He dedicated his life to the struggle for civil rights.

Nor did he leave his guts at the door.

In the House of Representatives, where he sits next to the brilliant U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, he has demonstrated the same kind of leadership that he displayed on that bridge in Alabama. You may remember that at one point Lewis led his colleagues in a sit-in to protest the lack of action on gun violence. Of course, he was showing the same courage he and his friends demonstrated when segregationist cops were beating them and turning their dogs on them.

Courage is an often overused word but John Lewis has it. He was one of his family's many children who actually picked cotton with his sharecropper father and mother. He remembers his mother saying to him when he complained about the work, "Hard work never killed anyone."

When you hear the man speak, you hear overwhelming dignity in a low voice. He says that as a child he was painfully shy. When you look at him today, despite the intervening years and experiences, you can still see the shy child that he once was.

With Donald Trump sitting in the White House, this country is in great need of heroes like John Lewis. This is a man who is literally willing to put his life on the line. If Trump is up to what I think he is planning to do, a lot of people are going to have to do more than talk. As the old advertising slogan once suggested, "You can pay me now or you can pay me later."

If the democratic system we now enjoy is threatened, the question is where the John Lewises will come from. In the same way that John Lewis knew from his teens that he would have to lay it all on the line, each of us will have to think through whether civil disobedience, no matter what the personal cost, is worth it. There are those who believe that when a system becomes oppressive, those who see themselves as oppressed should act in a violent manner. I am not one of those. Neither is John Lewis, who is a peaceable man.

We have many left-leaning politicians who can access a great deal of money and run for office. When Trump carries their districts they get worried and run for the hills. The difference between John Lewis and those folks is the level of commitment. His is true leadership because he sets the example for others to follow.

So many of our politicians are always looking to the next election as if that was their one true purpose in life. But if you aren't so committed that you live in the moment that the real danger is showing its evil face, you are not a hero and you will never be a hero.

John Lewis got his brains bashed on that bridge. Trust me, he wasn't doing it to get ahead. Dogs and prison and beatings were happening and John Lewis stood tall. So now, in the time of Trump, we need him more than ever.

Nice to have breakfast with a legend who possesses the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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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.