Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I turned 39 (2014)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Representative "Shitty" PIGnatelli takes care of #1 while treating hard hit taxpayers like #2!

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Lenox State Representative William "Shitty" Pignatelli
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"Beacon Hill Roll Call: Most Beacon Hill lawmakers take five unpaid furlough days."
By Staff reports, GateHouse News Service, December 7, 2009

THE HOUSE AND SENATE. There were no roll call votes in the House or Senate last week.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo recently issued a memo requiring all House of Representatives staff and aides to take five unpaid furlough days between Dec. 7, 2009 and the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2010 in order to close the House's operating budget deficit and prevent more layoffs. He noted that this would save an estimated $620,000.

The speaker's office also announced that representatives have the option to participate in the five-day unpaid furlough but under state law cannot be required to do so. A memo noted that “under a constitutional amendment passed by voter referendum legislative salaries are tied to Massachusetts’ median household income and cannot be involuntarily altered.”

The speaker’s memo informed representatives that the deadline to submit the voluntary request to participate in the furlough program was 5 p.m. on Nov. 27. The Treasurer’s office tells Beacon Hill Roll Call that despite this deadline, that office has received and honored late requests made after the deadline. In fact, the treasurer's office says that representatives have always been able to voluntarily choose to take as many unpaid days as they want, without any official furlough program in place, as long as they submit their request before June 30, 2010 - the end of the fiscal year.

As of 5 p.m. on Dec. 3, Beacon Hill Roll Call has learned that 139 of the House's 160 representatives had submitted the necessary paperwork to participate and give up five days of salary. That leaves 21 members who have so far opted not to participate. Democratic representatives account for 20 of the non-participants while only one Republican has chosen not to participate.

The 21 legislators who have chosen not to participate include Reps. Willie Mae Allen (D-Boston), Brian Ashe (D-Longmeadow), Ruth Balser (D-Newton), Linda Campbell (D-Methuen), Christine Canavan (D-Brockton), Mark Falzone (D-Saugus), David Flynn (D-Bridgewater), Robert Hargraves (R-Groton), Paul Kujawski (D-Webster), William Lantigua (D-Lawrence), Barbara L'Italien (D-Andover), Robert Nyman (D-Hanover), William Pignatelli (D-Lenox), John Rogers (D-Norwood), Rosemary Sandlin (D-Agawam), Angelo Scaccia (D-Boston), Robert Spellane (D-Worcester), Marie St. Fleur (D-Boston), Harriett Stanley (D-West Newbury), Benjamin Swan (D-Springfield) and Brian Wallace (D-Boston)

DID YOUR REPRESENTATIVE TAKE FIVE UNPAID FURLOUGH DAYS?

“Yes” indicates that the representative voluntarily gave up five days of salary.

“No” indicates that the representative has not voluntarily given up five days of salary.

The number in parentheses indicates how much money the representative gave up.

Representatives receive salaries ranging from $58,237 to $96,440. The total of five days salary is not the same for every representative. It ranges from $1,119 to $1,854. The more the representative earns, the more money he/she is giving up.


ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL


SOME POSSIBLE 2010 BALLOT QUESTIONS CLEAR NEXT HURDLE - It looks like five proposed citizen-initiated 2010 ballot questions have gathered the 66,593 votes necessary to bring their proposal to the Legislature. These measures include reducing the new 6.25 sales tax to three percent; eliminating the new 6.25 percent sales tax on alcohol purchased at package stores; lifting a cap on the number of charter schools in Massachusetts; limiting carbon dioxide emissions from renewable and alternative energy sources and abolishing the state's 40B housing law that essentially exempts low and moderate income housing developers from local zoning bylaws in communities in which less than ten percent of the housing is deemed affordable by the state.

If a measure is not approved by the Legislature by May 2009, sponsors need another 11,099 signatures by June 18 in order to place the matter on the 2010 ballot for voters to decide.


AUTISM COMMISSION (H 155) - The House approved a new version of a bill creating a special 27-member commission to investigate and study services and support in Massachusetts for individuals with autistic spectrum disorders including Asperger's syndrome and high functioning autism.


JURY DUTY EXEMPTION (H 1444) - The Judiciary Committee is considering legislation exempting from jury duty all sole owners of a business if his or her juror service would require him or her to close the business.


RESTRAINING ORDERS WOULD INCLUDE PETS (H 1319) - The Judiciary Committee's agenda includes legislation that would allow the inclusion of pets in temporary restraining orders. The measure would allow the court to temporarily award the possession of an animal to the victim and to prohibit the abuser from abusing, threatening or taking the pet. Supporters point to cases in which animals are abused or even killed by the abuser in order to threaten the victim.


ELECTRIC CARS (H 698) - The Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture held a hearing on a bill that would require the state to investigate the cost and feasibility of establishing electric vehicle charging stations to encourage the use of electric cars.


GREEN TAXIS (H 728) - The same committee is considering a measure that would require all taxis to be a hybrid or alternative fuel vehicle or to pass certain emission standards. The measure would take effect in 2016 and would also require all cabs to be equipped with a global positioning system (GPS).


EYE EXAM REMINDER (H 2035) - The Public Health Committee's agenda includes a proposal requiring that every pair of over-the-counter reading glasses sold in the Massachusetts include a note encouraging the customer to have an eye exam.


1,000 GREATEST PLACES IN MASSACHUSETTS - The 13-member special commission created to conduct an investigation and study to "identify, catalogue, evaluate and designate the 1,000 great places in the commonwealth" met for the first time. The committee's report is due at the beginning of April.


HOW LONG WAS LAST WEEK'S SESSION? Beacon Hill Roll Call tracks the length of time that the House and Senate were in session each week. Many legislators say that legislative sessions are only one aspect of the Legislature's job and that a lot of important work is done outside of the House and Senate chambers. They note that their jobs also involve committee work, research, constituent work and other matters that are important to their districts. Critics say that the Legislature does not meet regularly or long enough to debate and vote in public view on the thousands of pieces of legislation that have been filed. They note that the infrequency and brief length of sessions are misguided and lead to irresponsible late night sessions and a mad rush to act on dozens of bills in the days immediately preceding the end of an annual session.

During the week of Nov. 30-Dec. 4, (2009), the House met for a total of one hour and five minutes while the Senate met for a total of 46 minutes.


Monday, Nov. 30

House, 11:00 a.m. to 11:38 a.m.

Senate, 11:00 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.


Tuesday, Dec. 1

No House session

No Senate session


Wednesday, Dec. 2

No House session

No Senate session


Thursday, Dec. 3

House, 11:00 a.m. to 11:27 a.m.

Senate, 11:00 a.m. to 11:31 a.m.


Friday, Dec. 4

No House session

No Senate session
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Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at bob@beaconhillrollcall.com.
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"Newton Rep. Balser among holdouts on House furlough list."
By State House News Service, GateHouse News Service, December 9, 2009

BOSTON — As of noon Wednesday, 144 House lawmakers had filed voluntary five-day furlough requests, although the holdouts included Rep. Ruth Balser, a Newton Democrat, according to State House News Service.

According to Treasurer Timothy Cahill’s office, the 16 who have not filed for unpaid furloughs are: Balser and Reps. Brian Ashe (D-Longmeadow), Mark Falzone (D-Saugus), William Greene (D-Billerica), Robert Hargraves (R-Groton), Paul Kujawski (D-Webster), William Lantigua (D-Lawrence), Barbara L’Italien (D-Andover), Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lenox), former majority leader John Rogers (D-Norwood), Angelo Scaccia (D-Readville), Robert Spellane (D-Worcester), Marie St. Fleur (D-Boston), Harriett Stanley (D-Newbury), Benjamin Swan (D-Springfield), and Brian Wallace (D-South Boston).

The original filing deadline was Nov. 30, but requests have continued to trickle in to the treasurer’s office, with L’Italien adding her name to the list today.

The state Republican Party blasted out a release yesterday listing most of the House members who haven’t put in a request. The release didn’t mention Hargraves, a Republican from Groton, but criticized Democrats, calling on voters to reject the “politics of ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ ” On Nov. 20, Speaker Robert DeLeo and Minority Leader Brad Jones announced the program, saying it would save $620,000. The House furloughs are mandatory for staff, but voluntary for lawmakers. Legislative salaries are tied to Massachusetts' median household income and cannot be involuntarily altered.

Rep. Greene, of Billerica, reportedly upset over the way one of his staffers was laid off last week, withdrew his application for a furlough this week. "I saw the vindictive way he did the layoff, and I took it back," Greene said of his furlough, according to the Lowell Sun. "I'm very upset at what he did. I'm not going to contribute to help keep up DeLeo's bloated payroll in his office."

DeLeo last Friday indicated the elimination of 28 House staff positions and salary reductions would save $1.2 million annually.

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Massachusetts
"In a minority, Pignatelli opts out of state furloughs"
By Trevor Jones, Berkshire Eagle Staff, December 16, 2009

LENOX -- William "Smitty" Pignatelli is one of just 11 state representatives in the 160-member House who are not volunteering to take a five-day furlough this fiscal year, saying his decision is a matter of principle for himself and his staff.

In November, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and Minority Leader Bradley H. James Jr. ordered representatives' staff members and aides to take five-day furloughs between Dec. 7 and June 30, 2010. In addition, each representative was encouraged to volunteer for his or her own furlough.

The move is expected to save the state $620,000.

But Pignatelli, a Lenox Democrat who has a staff of two, said he will not take the unpaid leave because it places an "unfair burden" on some of the state's lowest-paid employees. Instead, he will reimburse his staff for their losses with his own paycheck from the week he could have volunteered to take off.

Pignatelli's five-day net pay would be $1,181.64, a total he said he will use to cover his staff's lost wages.

"It's been handled horribly. These mandatory furloughs for the lowest-paid staff in government is unfair," said Pignatelli, who earns about $61,500 a year. "It's out of the textbook of how to not treat an employee."

Of the 10 other representatives who won't be taking furloughs, none are from Berkshire County.

Legislators cannot be forced to take furloughs. Their salaries are tied to the state's median household income and cannot be involuntarily altered.

While all 40 state senators took furloughs in fiscal 2009, Pignatelli said the same sacrifices aren't being asked of Senate staff members -- some of whom earn more than state representatives' base salaries.

"There's a real disconnect there," Pignatelli said. "To solve our fiscal crisis, we should all share in the burden."
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www.topix.net/forum/source/berkshire-eagle/TT1QT1281T0Q7GMAL
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"State campaign contributions set to double"
By Joshua Miller, Boston Globe Staff, December 27, 2014

At the stroke of midnight Jan. 1, Massachusetts politicians can celebrate something besides 2015: their new ability to raise twice as much campaign money from individual donors.

Beginning in the new year, candidates for all municipal, county, and state elected offices — including city council, mayor, the Legislature, and statewide offices such as governor — can raise $1,000 per year from individuals, double the current limit of $500.

The change, part of a multifaceted campaign finance package signed into law this summer, is certain to be a big boon to political pocketbooks. Beyond that, there is dispute about what the increase might mean.

Some specialists believe the increase will simply make campaigns more expensive. Others think it might allow politicians to raise the money they need in less time, and spend their newly free hours with regular voters, building support.

And while the increase could help incumbents, a handful of operatives and analysts say the higher limits could give a boost to challengers looking to take them out. The contribution increase, they say, could allow upstart candidates to raise enough money to mount a viable challenge in cases where they could not at $500 a pop.

Candidacies for any office, from state representative to governor, tend to require a certain minimum amount of money to pay for the basics of a modern campaign. That includes everything from crafting a website to contacting voters — often by US mail in smaller races and through TV ads in larger ones. The new limit could make it easier for some candidates to meet that minimum.

“For people who have lots of connections to upper-middle class donors, the hurdle for running a competitive race gets lower,” said Avi Green, a specialist in elections and voting who works with the Scholars Strategy Network, a nationwide association of professors and researchers.

“If you have access to people who can make larger donations,” challengers can raise the amount of money they need to run a viable campaign in half the time, he said.

While every district is different, a challenger hoping to oust a state senator needs to raise somewhere in the vicinity of $100,000 to run a real campaign, operatives of both parties said. Theoretically under the new limits, a challenger could do that with 50 wealthy supporters who each cut a $1,000 check in both years of a two-year election cycle.

But, of course, incumbents will be able to raise twice as much as well. And other analysts are certain that the new limits will further entrench them in a state where elected officials are notoriously difficult to beat.

Many operatives and analysts said current elected officials mulling a bid for higher office, such as governor, down the line, may be able to embrace their ambitions sooner, instead of working for many years, $500 donation by $500 donation, to squirrel away the massive savings needed for a big run.

“It may bring back the ability for people who aren’t independently wealthy to think about running for statewide office who haven’t had 10, 12 years in another office spending time building their campaign war chest,” longtime Democratic consultant Dan Cence said. “This may close the gap between [wealthy] self-funders and those who need to raise the money.”

The current individual yearly donation limit was put into place 20 years ago, when the Legislature moved it down from $1,000 to $500 under pressure from good government groups.

The limit now goes back up to $1,000, as part of the 2014 law that includes provisions strengthening disclosure of donors to super PACs, groups that can raise unlimited amounts of money from individuals, corporations, and labor unions.

The change in the individual donation limit won’t apply to federal candidates, those running for the US House of Representatives and the US Senate. Candidates for those offices in every state have the same fund-raising limits, which are adjusted every two-year election cycle for inflation.

For the 2013-14 election cycle, individuals were limited to giving $2,600 per candidate per federal election — $5,200 counting the primary and general elections.

And while doubling the donation limit is significant for nonfederal races in Massachusetts, analysts said the $1,000 limit is not very high in the sweep of 49 other states.

“Compared to other states, ultimately this is a small-potatoes change,” Green said. “Most states have higher limits.”

In Maryland, for instance, the individual limit is $4,000 per candidate per election cycle. In Idaho, it’s $5,000 per election for statewide offices. And a dozen states have no individual contribution limit, according to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Specialists are split on what Massachusetts’ new limit might mean for how pols spend their time.

“It’s a small lift, but it’s a lift, and it will allow candidates more time meeting voters than dialing for dollars,” said Paul D. Craney, executive director of Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, a nonprofit which advocates for conservative economic and good government policies.

The $500 limit “required candidates to spend an inordinate amount of time on the phone raising money or in private fund-raisers,” said Stephen Crawford, a longtime Massachusetts Democratic strategist. The higher ceiling “will allow them to spend more time with voters, energizing a grass-roots campaign.”

But Doug Rubin, who served as a top adviser to the gubernatorial campaigns of Deval Patrick and Attorney General Martha Coakley, said he did not expect the limits to give candidates extra time to spend schmoozing with voters. Just as water fills the space of its vessel, political money will expand to the new limits, he predicted.

“At the end of the day,” Rubin said, “people will raise more money and campaigns will be more expensive.”

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Holly Sklar on "The Great Rip-Off"

"Times are tough: Only $140B for Wall St. banksters"
By Holly Sklar, Sunday, November 8, 2009 - www.bostonherald.com - Columnists

Taxpayer bailouts saved Wall Street from choking on its own greed. Now, as the Wall Street Journal reports, “Major U.S. banks and securities firms are on pace to pay their employees about $140 billion this year - a record high.”

Folks, $140 billion is more than the combined budgets of the U.S. departments of Commerce, Education, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, the National Science Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Typical workers, meanwhile, make less today adjusting for inflation than they did in the 1970s. Wall Street rewarded CEOs who cut employee wages and benefits and offshore manufacturing, services and research and development; turned mortgages into loan sharking; and sucked home equity, college funds, retirement funds and other private and public investments into their rigged casino.

Goldman Sachs, for example, “peddled billions of dollars in shaky securities tied to subprime mortgages on unsuspecting pension funds, insurance companies and other investors when it concluded that the housing bubble would burst,” McClatchy News Service reports in a new investigative series.

The Great Depression gave way to the New Deal. The Great Recession has become the Great Ripoff.

Believe it or not, oversight officials say “the firms that were ‘too big to fail’ are in many cases bigger still, many as a result of government-supported and sponsored mergers and acquisitions.”

Enabled by the Bush and Obama administrations, the megabanks are lending less and gambling more - using taxpayer money to pay bonuses, float a new stock market bubble and make even riskier bets. The Treasury and Federal Reserve have become Wall Street’s ATMs, while unemployment, foreclosures and homelessness rise, states slash services, average citizens are priced out of health care, and small businesses are starved of credit.

Trillions of dollars are flowing to the banksters in the form of near-zero interest loans, bond guarantees and extreme leverage for toxic assets. You can follow the money at nomiprins.com. (Nomi Prins, a former managing director at Goldman Sachs, is author of “It Takes a Pillage.”)

The megabanks are not too big to fail. They’re too big and irresponsible to exist. By 2002, the four major bank holding companies - Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup - had 27 percent of FDIC-insured bank assets. Now, reports the Economic Policy Institute, they have half. They overlap with derivatives dealers JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup.

The government heavily subsidizes the megabanks, but it’s the small banks that provide higher savings interest, lower fees, lower loan and credit card rates, and do much of the lending to small business, who create most new jobs.

Behind their Main Street rhetoric, Congress and the Obama administration have been the nonchange Wall Street can believe in.

Make your voices heard. We need to enact tough regulations and bust the banks who busted our economy before they do it again.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sara Hathaway is a woman scorned by the Good Old Boys of Pittsfield Politics


SARA HATHAWAY

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"Don't be fooled again by Ruberto"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letters to the Editor, October 29, 2009

"What is my salary?" This was Jim Ruberto's first question to me when I met with him at City Hall right after the November 2003 election. To me, this question was clear but sad evidence of Jim's first priority as mayor-elect: himself. It also showed me that this was a man who had never looked at a city budget -- the mayor's salary is always the first line item on page one, and could hardly be missed by anyone who had taken the time to crack the front cover of this essential document.

Flash forward to 2009. At the debate on Oct. 26, the moderator asked a question about the "Jobs for Pittsfield" task force that Jim had put in place during his first term. The chair of this task force, Bill Hines, had indicated that 150 jobs per year was a realistic goal for the group, according to the moderator. "Mr. Hines' numbers are not mine," said the current mayor, attempting to distance himself from the claims of his appointee. Indeed. Jim Ruberto had constantly promised voters in 2003 that there would be 200 new jobs, not 150. Although he claimed that he had kept his promises to the people of Pittsfield, I know I am not alone in recognizing that Jim's "straight talk about taxes" and the suitcase he would take on the road to recruit new businesses have helped form a trail of broken promises.

I recognized Jim's hollow promises for what they were in 2003. After he took office, I know that many voters quickly became aware that their new mayor had sold them a bill of goods. Don't be fooled again. Please join me on Nov. 3 in supporting Dan Bianchi, the candidate for Pittsfield's mayor who will bring integrity, know-how and intelligence to City Hall.

SARA HATHAWAY
Pittsfield, Massachusetts
The writer is a former mayor of Pittsfield.
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"Arbitrator orders reinstatement of teachers"
By Dick Lindsay, Berkshire Eagle Staff, May 17, 2011

PITTSFIELD -- The Pittsfield Public Schools must reinstate four teachers and give them back pay for being unduly fired from Reid Middle School two years ago, a state arbitrator has ruled.

In a 63-page decision issued by arbitrator Tammy Brynie, she determined Principal Morgan Williams and his administration failed to properly evaluate a total of six English teachers before Williams let them go after the 2008-09 school year.

However, Brynie only ruled that Nancy Manes, Pam Farron, Sara Hathaway and Ramsey Stewart be rehired and awarded their salary for one year, less any earnings during that period, according to Pittsfield's labor attorney Fernard Dupere. The total amount owed the teachers has yet to be calculated, city school officials said.

The other two teachers, Susan Conklin and the late Blanche Mednick, were denied compensation and the right to reinstatement because neither had earned their teachers license.

All six educators had three years or less service with the Pittsfield Public Schools.

The school district has 30 days to challenge the ruling in Berkshire Superior Court, and an appeal is under consideration, said Superintendent Howard "Jake" Eberwein III.

Eberwein was "surprised and very disappointed" by the arbitrator's decision, while the city's teachers union was "pleased" an established teacher evaluation process was upheld.

Brynie wrote that the teachers were "significantly and substantially prejudiced" by the improper evaluations because the evaluations were in violation of the union contract between the United Educators of Pittsfield and the School Committee.

"The decision reinforces our firm belief that the evaluation process needs to be fair and consistent for all our educators," said UEP President Scott Eldridge. "We have an agreed upon evaluation process and it wasn't followed."

Eberwein disagreed, saying he's confident Williams followed the process "perfectly."

"The arbitrator listed several citations in her report of how well [Williams] wrote the evaluations," he said.

In addition, Williams pointed out that Brynie agreed with him that he found several deficiencies in the teachers classroom performance.

While the arbitrator's decision could prove costly for the school district, Eberwein is more concerned about the reinstatement order.

"We didn't renew the contract for six teachers because we clearly don't want them working in our system," he said.

To reach Dick Lindsay: rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com, or (413) 496-6233.

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"City must rehire former Reid teachers"
By Jonathan Levine, The Pittsfield Gazette, May 19, 2011

An arbitrator has ordered the city to rehire and provide back pay & benefits for four former Reid Middle School English teachers.

The arbitrator sided with the United Educators of Pittsfield/Massachusetts Teachers Association, determining that the school department violated contractual provisions outlining how teachers must be evaluated.

The ex-teachers were, according to arbitrator Tammy Byrne, “significantly and substantially prejudiced by, among other items, the failure to provide required notice of performance issues and the lack of opportunity to meet [principal Morgan] Williams’ performance expectations.”

A concurrent complaint of discrimination — the teachers were all middle-aged women — remains unresolved under the umbrella of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

The arbitrator also determined that two other teachers were unfairly evaluated, but ruled that their failure to complete required certification provided cause for their firing.

The ruling prompted divergent reactions from the union and school department.

Scott Eldridge, president of the United Educators of Pittsfield, said that the union regrets that the case had to go to formal arbitration but has been vindicated.

“We would have been willing to work with the district on this but they felt they were right and we felt they weren’t,” said Eldridge. “Our contract has a set process for the evaluation of teachers without professional status and it wasn’t followed.”

Superintendent Howard “Jake” Eberwein III expressed disappointment with the ruling, which he feels could set a bad precedent statewide.

“The spirit of the evaluation process was absolutely followed,” he said. “This is going to have some real effect... I don’t think it’s the right thing for public education.”

Byrne’s 63-page ruling follows a hearing and the presentation of some 3,000 pages of documents.

The arbitrator outlined how the six teachers had received generally favorable evaluations under former principal Beth Narvaez including “constructive criticism,” “supportive” comments and “informal” observations beyond the formal evaluations.

Williams succeeded Narvaez with a different management style and much less informal contact with the teachers. The arbitrator describes Williams as “a principal with a different perspective and expectations.”

The issue, per the arbitrator, is that the teachers “were never given adequate notice about Williams performance expectations.” Williams allegedly provided less support and failed to attend follow-up observations, during which the teachers could show how they had addressed whatever issues he highlighted following the initial 45-minute observation.

Byrne did not fault Williams’ classrooms observations, but rather his communication regarding them and his decision to have another administrator conduct the follow-up sessions.

“A single observation and receipt of his critical observation notes does not fulfill the employer’s contractual requirement to make specific recommendations for improvement and to provide assistance,” writes the arbitrator.

The decision also highlights that the teachers seemed genuinely shocked to be terminated, suggesting that they did not receive adequate follow up or communication to know their fates had changed.

She specifically determines that the teachers were “substantially prejudiced by their inability to have Williams re-assess their performance.”

Eldridge noted that Narvaez had decided not to renew teachers “and we never fought them on it.” The difference, he said, is that she followed the contractual process and even went beyond the minimum, “giving them opportunities for improvement.”

Eberwein feels that Williams met the contractual process and said that administrators need to be able to terminate new teachers with subpar performance. “We have a very narrow window during which we can determine whether a teacher is of the caliber we require,” he said. “We need to be very critical and aggressive on teachers in the first three years of employment.”

Neither Eldridge nor Eberwein know the particular financial impacts of the decision, which calls for one year of back pay, less any other earnings during the period, as well as benefits compensation.

“To be honest, we don’t have any idea of what the damages are,” said Eberwein.

He added that the school departments’ lawyers will “be tearing apart this arbitration ruling” to identify any modifications needed in evaluation procedures.

Eldridge said it’s not clear whether any of the four former teachers — Nancy Manes, Pam Farron, Sara Hathaway and Ramsay Steward — will seek the reinstatement. However he stressed that the union will assist them if they accept the reinstatements to ensure they receive placement to a non-hostile environment and get a fair chance at future evaluations.

“The process was not followed,” he said. “Most of the time it never goes this far when administrators don’t follow the contract, but we knew this was a case that had merit.”

Union representatives indicated that no decision had been made whether to continue pursuing the MCAD complaint. That case alleges that Williams’ terminations of the female teachers represents age and gender discrimination.

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"Pittsfield school district settles age discrimination complaints; costs unclear: MCAD upholds first allegation of discriminating based on age, rejects gender-based allegation"
By Jim Therrien, The Berkshire Eagle, May 14, 2015

PITTSFIELD - Complaints filed in 2010 with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination against the Pittsfield Public Schools over the dismissal of six teachers — all middle-age women — have been resolved.

The school system has budgeted $200,000 this fiscal year in a line item titled Employee Separation Costs, which a source said is related to the complaints. However, officials declined to release details of any cash settlements, or whether other line items this year or in past years were related to the complaints.

What role the city's liability insurance may have played in the matter also remains unclear.

The six complaints alleged discrimination based on age and on gender, and the MCAD upheld the first allegation while rejecting the second.

Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless and others contacted cited confidentiality agreements preventing them from publicly discussing the complaint resolutions.

Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi, an ex officio member of the School Committee, said, "It is my understanding that a claim like this is paid by our insurance policy."

Asked about the $200,000 line item in the school budget, he referred the question back to the school administration.

One of the parties to the action, Pamela Farron, currently serves on the School Committee, having been elected in 2013, while another is former Pittsfield Mayor Sara Hathaway, who served in that post from 2002-04.

Contacted by The Eagle, Farron said she would like to talk about the MCAD complaints but could not because of the agreement. "That was part of it," Farron said.

She also stressed that as a School Committee member since January 2014, she did not participate in any discussions among committee members concerning the MCAD complaints.

As a member of the committee, Farron said, "I have tried to just be an advocate for education."

Hathaway could not be reached for comment.

According to emails from an MCAD official, Hathaway's complaint and that of Susan Conklin were recently settled, and the complaints filed by Farron and Nancy Manes were settled in February.

MCAD documents obtained by The Eagle through a public records request show that complaints by Ramsay Stewart and the late Blanche Mednick, who died in 2010, both were resolved in 2013.

Mednick's estate approved a settlement in January 2013, and Stewart's case was closed in the same month, after a request on her behalf, according to MCAD documents. Stewart could not be reached for comment.

The six non-tenured teachers at Reid Middle School, who were not re-appointed in 2009 after receiving negative evaluations from then-Principal Morgan Williams, filed complaints with the MCAD in January 2010.

An investigation by the MCAD resulted in a split decision in 2012, which found probable cause for a finding of discrimination based on age but a lack of probable cause to support the claim of discrimination based on gender.

Reports on the six individual complaints were filed in 2012 by MCAD investigator and compliance officer Nomxolisi Khumalo. The investigator concluded in part in each that "there is sufficient evidence upon which a finder of fact could form a reasonable belief that it is more probable than not [the school system] subjected the complainant to unlawful discrimination based on age."

Regarding gender discrimination, however, Khumalo concluded in his recommendations that "allegations regarding discrimination based on gender fail ... ."

He noted that in some of the cases the complainant was replaced by a female employee, and that the school's workforce was "comprised of predominantly female employees."

In a disposition notice to the parties sent in July 2012, investigating MCAD Commissioner Jamie R. Williamson agreed with both recommendations in Khumalo's report.

All six complaints are similar in most respects in MCAD documents obtained. The women were in their mid-40s or 50s and had worked in the school for less than three years and had received prior performance evaluations of satisfactory in all or most teaching evaluation categories by Reid Principal Beth Schiavino-Narvaez.

In August 2008, according to the MCAD documents, Williams replaced Schiavino-Narvaez as principal at Reid. After an evaluation process that included observing the teachers in classrooms, Williams gave each negative evaluation reports in 2009 and did not renew their employment.

Williams has since left the school district.

A key factor was that the women were among approximately 25 teachers in the school and 10 in the English Language Arts Department, where the women worked, who lacked "professional status," meaning they did not have permanent employee status and could be dismissed by the principal.

In the district's arguments against the complaints, cited in Khumalo's report, Williams was evaluating the nonprofessional-status teachers with the knowledge that some, if reappointed, would attain permanent status at that time.

The investigator states that the school system asserted: "As a result Williams had to closely evaluate those teachers to determine whether they were good candidates for becoming permanent teachers."

Khumalo lists some of the issues raised by Williams or by John Vosburgh, then-vice principal at Reid, after they had observed the teachers in class. Their notations, upon which Williams based his negative evaluations and decisions not to reappoint the women, included the pace of lessons, confusion among students; students appearing off-task, students talking during an explanation or leaving their desks, or a lack of control over student behavior.

Shortly after the women were not reappointed in 2009, a grievance appeal was mounted through the United Educators of Pittsfield/Massachusetts Teachers Association that resulted in an arbitrator's determination in May 2011 in favor of four of the six women — Farron, Hathaway, Manes and Stewart.

They were ordered reinstated with back pay and benefits for one year, less any other earnings during that period.

The arbitrator concluded that the school system had not followed contractual provisions in evaluating the teachers, primarily relating to failure to notify the woman of performance issues and lack of opportunity to address the issues.

Reinstatement and compensation were not recommended by the arbitrator for Conklin or Mednick, because they had not yet obtained state teaching licenses.

Hathaway, Manes and Stewart later worked in the school system for a time, according to Alex Lomaglio, field representative with the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

Farron returned to Berkshire Community College, where she currently is coordinator of the Disability Resource Center.

Then-Superintendent Howard J. Eberwein was quoted in an Eagle article in 2011 as disappointed with the arbitrator's decision, contending Williams had followed the teacher evaluation process, and he said an appeal of the ruling was under consideration.

However, no appeal to the court system was filed, according to attorney Fernand Dupere, of Westfield, who represented the school system in the arbitration matter. He also said it is his understanding that the settlements related to the arbitration ruling were paid out soon afterward.

Lomaglio said that also is his understanding. "All of the money owed through arbitration was paid at that time," he said.

Eberwein, now dean of continuing education at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, could not be reached for comment on the complaint resolutions.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association Division of Legal Services is listed as having filed the six discrimination complaints with the MCAD in 2010. The attorney who signed the complaints, Matthew D. Jones, could not be reached for comment.

Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247. jtherrien@berkshireeagle.com @BE_therrien on Twitter

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"Former Pittsfield mayor Sara Hathaway prefers 'Big Harbaugh' in Super Bowl"
By Derek Gentile, Berkshire Eagle, February 3, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- Former Mayor Sara Hathaway will have a definite rooting interest in today’s Super Bowl clash between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.

That would be Big Harbaugh. You know him as John Harbaugh, coach of the Ravens.

"I think John’s girlfriend at the time came up with Big Harbaugh [for John] and Little Harbaugh [for his brother, Jim, who is 14 months younger]," Hathaway said. "Probably to bug Jim."

Hathaway and John Harbaugh are 1980 graduates of Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Jim Harbaugh, who coaches the 49ers, graduated from high school in 1982 in Palo Alto, Calif., where the family moved in 1981.

Hathaway, Pittsfield’s mayor in 2002 and ‘03, said she didn’t have any classes with John Harbaugh but saw him a lot.

"It was a pretty big school," she recalled. "Maybe 1,200 kids. I saw him in the hall often."

"I think," she said, chuckling, "that if you took a poll, there would have been widespread agreement that both Harbaughs were hunks in high school."

Hathaway, 51, remembers when Big Harbaugh and his Pioneer teammates wore their football jerseys to class the day before a game, per school tradition. During her sophomore year, Hathaway even was the team’s statistician.

"I went to all the away games as well as the home games," she said.

The former Pittsfield mayor, now a proctor at Berkshire Community College, emphasized that while both Harbaughs went to Ann Arbor Pioneer, there is no doubt who she’ll be rooting for today.

"I think a group of us from the class of 1980 will be on Facebook while we watch the game," Hathaway said. "And there’s no doubt that we’re rooting for the Ravens. Everybody [in her class] loves John."

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Seated from left: Former mayor Gerry Doyle, Mayor Daniel Bianchi, and former mayors Sara Hathaway and James Ruberto film a message Friday for Pittsfield’s Irish Sister City of Ballina, Ireland, whose town council will dissolve to join a regional government. (Jenn Smith / Berkshire Eagle Staff / photos.berkshireeagle.com)

"Pittsfield mayor, 3 predecessors unite for love of Ireland"
By Jenn Smith, Berkshire Eagle, 5/24/2014

PITTSFIELD -- How do you get three former city mayors into the same room as the current one? For the love of Ireland.

Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi welcomed his predecessors -- James M. Ruberto, Sara Hathaway and Gerald S. Doyle Jr. -- into his office Friday morning to film, with Pittsfield Community Television, a brief video message of gratitude and solidarity for their fellow delegates in Pittsfield’s Sister City of Ballina, Ireland.

Ballina, located in North County Mayo, about 71 miles north of Galway, will hold its last town council meeting on Thursday. Ballina is one of the many councils that will be abolished as of June, and absorbed into a newly adopted regional governing system.

The sisterhood between Pittsfield and Ballina was established on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1998, through Sister Cities International. Ties and annual delegation visits have been maintained over the years with support from Pittsfield Irish Sister City Committee.

"I thought this would be a nice opportunity for us to come together and wish them well," said Bianchi. "Our hearts and arms will always be open to the people of Ballina."

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Michael Moore takes on capitalism while I take on the myths of labor

October 3, 2009

Re: My thoughts on Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A love story" & understanding of labor

My Dad & I went to see Michael Moore's political satire movie, "Capitalism: A love story", earlier today (Saturday, October 3, 2009). I thought it was a good movie that sent the message that the poor and middle class are getting screwed by Wall Street/Capitol Hill.

Companies not only make obscene profits, but also, they find ways to cash in on their workers. Moore pointed out that many wealthy corporations profit off of the early deaths of their workers through life insurance policies that do not go to the families of the deceased. Health insurance companies deny coverage to working people to keep their profit margins up. When companies lose money, the government bails them out without regard for the law and fiscal accountability.

The following are my thoughts on labor.

Jonathan Melle's understanding of Labor in America:

Rooted in many hundreds of years of law, labor has never been a means to private property. Rather, labor is really only an established custom from times long ago before legal contracts. From a historical perspective, there was no such thing as a working class prior to the Industrial Revolution. Poor people were servants to the wealthy aristocracy or landed gentry. In the South, white property owners used black slaves as free labor. When immigrants came to the U.S. during and after the Industrial Revolution, the factory owners placed them in great numbers in substandard housing units, used bells and whistles to socialize them into factory workers, and regulated them through low wages. The Industrial Revolution immigrants and their offspring were taught the false myth that work or labor granted them property. The poor families knew nothing of legal contracts and entitlement to property and were lead to create families of working class people through multiple generations to come. Their children were pulled from school around the sixth to ninth grade and put into factories to help with the family's bills. They were indoctrinated with the affirmation of labor to earn their keep. Social reforms and socially just people in power worked to change the system to pull families out of poverty and into a middle or professional class of citizens. This worked from the late-1930's to the mid-1970's, but the pendulum started to swing back to regulating people into the socially engineered working class. When the industrial factories began shuttering their doors and moving to foreign lands, the regulation of the working class transformed into the underclass, which is a demographic of poor people who will never have any social mobility or will never have the ability to achieve the American Dream of a middle class life. As the underclass proliferates, America is becoming desolate with a record number of foreclosed homes, uninsured healthcare patients, and disadvantaged families. The regulated people are being stripped of all of their entitlements from quality public education, to affordable healthcare insurance, to their living wages and pensions. The legal contracts that entitle working people to property and wealth are being taken away by both the government and corporations.

Labor has never been a means to property or wealth under our legal system of contract law and entitlements. The myth of the American work ethic was made up by the Industrial Revolution who put the poor and immigrant populations into a newly formed group called the working class. As this was all invented in the mid-19th century by wealthy factory owners, there was no legal protections under the law for labor. The legal protections to entitlements to a living wage, affordable healthcare, quality public education, pensions, and the like, were passed as reform measures as the labor population grew, formed unions and demanded equity from their work. These legal protections were never placed on the law, but attached to labor to be taken away over time.

The fact is that the main ways to wealth throughout the many hundreds of years of legal contracts have been family marriages and education. By this, I mean wealthy families who married other wealthy families to grow their estates, and Ivy League colleges like Harvard and Yale. For example, Bill Weld was born with an $80 million trust fund, his family derived from Edmund Weld arriving in America via the Mayflower, and he married Susan Roosevelt (now divorced) after graduating from Harvard University. Governor Weld represents a wealthy person who married another wealthy person and went to an elite educational institution with a building named "Weld Hall".

When are we as Americans going to stop the propaganda about labor? When are we going to teach the poor and middle class that corporations via the government are their to regulate us into socially invented classes that will ensure that we are controlled and indoctrinated by a system that does not protect our legal interests? When are we going to learn that the means to property or wealth is through legal contracts that entitle us to families, education, healthcare insurance, living wages and pensions? When are we going to demand that the legal system of contract law entitles us to our basic human needs as citizens and stop believing the myths of labor that were all made up during and after the Industrial Revolution?

Sincerely,
Jonathan A. Melle

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The State of New Hampshire slashes medicaid funds for mental illness!

"Mental Health Providers Struggle With Budget Cuts: Officials Say Demand For Services Growing As Budgets Cut"
wmur.com - September 29, 2009

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Some of New Hampshire's largest mental health care providers will have a lot less money to render services soon.

State and federal Medicaid revenue funds make up between 65 percent and 85 percent of the budget for 10 private centers that help the mentally ill. Now, that budget has been reduced, while demand for such services is on the rise.

The nonprofit groups that are affected by the cuts said they will impact about 8 percent of their total budgets.

The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester serves about 9,000 people who are considered severely and persistently mentally ill. Budget cuts will cost the organization about $1 million out of its $20 million total operating budget, and officials said some tough decisions are going to be made.

"There's very little question that there's going to be some impact on services, and there'll have to be some reductions and we hope no program closings, but that's certainly not out of the question," said Ken Snow of the Mental Health Center.

Last year, the 10 mental health centers received almost $93 million in state and federal Medicaid funds. This year's budget is about $91 million.

The cuts are coming while demand for services is skyrocketing. In 2008, there was a 10 percent jump in the number of mentally ill patients seeking services. This year, there has been an 11 percent jump.

State officials said that with more patients and less money the nonprofits will have to decide where to spend and where to cut.

"We'll likely see an increase in wait periods for people to access services," said Erik Riera of the Department of Health and Human Services. "We may see some specific program closures, but we're hoping providers continue to prioritize services to those who need it most."

Roland Lamy Jr. works with the New Hampshire Community Behavioral Health Association, which represents the nonprofits. He said the cost of cutting services will be passed along to someone else.

"We suspect that people will end up in the emergency room setting and other types of care," he said. "It's really difficult to anticipate what will happen, but we know people will not be getting the appropriate care in the appropriate setting because of this."

The cuts take effect on October 15, 2009.

Source (with video):
www.wmur.com/news/21152011/detail.html?treets=man&tid=2653687483813&tml=man_dailyforecast&tmi=man_dailyforecast_1_05450209302009&ts=H

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September 29, 2009

NH Governor John Lynch is the biggest phony in the World! He has indebted the state government by borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars to spend future tax money on operating costs. Lynch is both a tax & spend AND a borrow & spend politician. The people of New Hampshire get the worse of both political parties in one man!

Keeping true to his management style, Lynch is displacing the needs of poor people on Medicaid who depend on mental health social services. During this time of increased demand for mental health social service, Lynch is cutting another one million dollars in the middle of October 2009.

Where does Lynch think these mentally ill poor people on Medicaid are going to end up?

Of course, they'll end up in Emergency Rooms dehydrated from homelessness and hunger. They may end up self-medicating on alcohol and drugs. They may end up in jail from domestic violence and other crimes. In any of these scenarios, the costs of E.R.s, homelessness, hunger, alcohol, drugs, domestic violence, crime, incarceration, and the like, will be much higher than the one million dollar cut to Medicaid services to mental health!

BUT, I do not believe that the NH Governor cares. After all, he keeps raising taxes and borrowing more and more and more money to pay today's bills without regard for the future. In summary, NH Governor John Lynch is penny wise, but pound foolish!

In Dissent!
Jonathan Melle

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"Lynch, lawmakers use fear, intimidation"
The Concord Monitor, Letter, October 2, 2009

I was quoted in the Sunday Monitor as saying, "After serving in Iraq, in the fight against terrorism, I didn't appreciate coming back and being terrorized by the governor and Legislature" ("Lynch, union on the outs," front page, Sept. 27). Also on Sunday, a commentator on WMUR's Closeup program said I had no business comparing the governor's actions to those of a terrorist.

As an explanation for my remarks, I believe that when the State Employees' Association wouldn't give up the 5.5 percent raise last January - which the governor asked us to forego even before negotiations started - the governor and legislators enacted retribution by passing House Bill 2 in June, forcing $25 million in personnel cuts. He painted targets on our backs and got his revenge through negotiations and with the threat of massive layoffs.

The governor and Legislature have chosen to use fear and intimidation to force their will on a large group of state employees with the intent to deprive them of financial gains they have worked for and the dignity and respect that comes with those gains.

They have disregarded our ability make these sacrifices in our personal finances to help balance their deficit budget. They have chosen to use mass destruction rather than selective targeting to achieve their means. As a military witness to the oppression in Iraq, I believe their actions seem like the characteristics of a terrorist regime, or at least an oppressive governing body, to be capable of such thoughtless acts.

BRUCE VANLANDINGHAM
Alexandria
(The writer is an auto repair technician for the state Department of Transportation and a construction mechanic for the U.S. Naval Reserve.)

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"HHS chief unveils $28M in NH budget cuts"
By Norma Love, Associated Press Writer, February 5, 2010

CONCORD, N.H. -- Families needing state help with child care will pay more starting March 1 under a plan to shore up New Hampshire's social services budget, the head of Health and Human Services said Friday.

HHS commissioner Nicholas Toumpas released a plan containing $28 million in cuts and adjustments to his budget for this year. Toumpas said he still must identify another $15 million in savings to balance his budget before the fiscal year ends June 30.

"It's a series of very difficult decisions that need to be made," Toumpas told the joint legislative Fiscal Committee. "I wish to God I didn't have to make some of those choices."

The department's $2 billion budget is about one-third of this year's state budget. The cuts are from the general tax budget of roughly $765 million. The department already cut almost $9 million this year, partly through layoffs, after the union representing most state workers rejected furloughs.

The cuts are to ensure money is available to meet the high demand for services in the poor economy. Toumpas said the number needing help grew by 19,000 from December 2008 to December 2009. Most applied for welfare and Medicaid, the state-federal insurance program for the poor, he said.

Shortfalls also are expected in community mental health services and several programs for the elderly. The state must shore up those programs before funding runs out, he said.

Toumpas outlined a series of measures aimed at filling budget holes. They range from not filling 450 jobs at his agency -- 14 percent of his work force -- to reducing the reimbursement rate paid to nursing homes, hospitals and others who provide services to the poor.

"I don't take a lot of solace from the fact there are states in far worse shape than we are," he said.

The New Hampshire Hospital Association called the plan "an inadequate solution" and pointed out the Medicaid reimbursement by the state fails to cover the cost of care hospitals provide.

Toumpas said few measures will have a direct impact on the public needing services. The most notable exception is the increase in co-payments 4,763 families will pay for subsidized child care to eliminate a $9.5 million shortfall in the program this year.

For example, parents in the lowest income group -- earning up to $18,310 -- will see their co-payment per child rise from $1.78 to $9.33. Parents with higher earnings will have the biggest increases and some will wind up being responsible for the total cost.

Toumpas said estimates 582 of the 8,097 children currently receiving the subsidy will drop out of the program due to the higher co-payment amounts.

Gov. John Lynch delivered a letter to the committee urging it to support Toumpas' requests to shift money among programs to cover higher priority services. Toumpas can make some changes on his own, but needs the committee's approval or the Legislature's approval in some cases.

"These choices are difficult, but they are necessary in order to ensure that we can meet increasing demand for core services," Lynch wrote lawmakers.

The committee approved several of Toumpas' requests Friday.

Toumpas said he expects to face equally difficult choices for several more years. Indications are the demand for services will continue even if the economy begins to recover, he said. Federal stimulus funding also ends Dec. 31 though Congress may extend the help to states, he said.

"In our view, what we're going through is not a passing storm," said Toumpas.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chris McKeown on "How we can fix Beacon Hill". He is the founder of FixBeaconHill.com

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The Boston Globe, Op-Ed, CHRIS MCKEOWN
"How we can fix Beacon Hill"
By Chris McKeown, September 29, 2009

IN THE PAST several months Massachusetts citizens have witnessed the indictment of their third consecutive speaker of the House, learned of decades of pension system abuse, observed numerous lobbying scandals, and watched a senator allegedly stuff a bribe into her bra. It doesn’t take much digging to discover that issues such as these are not unique to this legislative session, but are merely symptoms of the broader disease - the absence of deliberative, representative democracy in the Legislature.

How did it get this way? Sixty years of single-party domination has allowed a slow, steady, incremental accumulation of power within the office of the House speaker and Senate president. Today, these two people control all leadership and committee chair appointments, thereby controlling the extra pay these positions receive.

They also control all committee appointments, drafting of their chamber’s rules, the daily schedule, when (and if) bills come out of committee, and whether a bill ever sees a vote on the floor. When a bill does make it to the floor for a vote, it often happens within hours after it is reported out of committee. As a result, no legislators, regardless of their work ethic or staff size, can possibly review what’s in the legislation upon which they are being asked to vote.

As if all this were not enough, the speaker and president control members’ office assignments, budgets and staff size, where members sit in the chamber, where they park, how much party PAC money they receive, and so on. If legislators do not “go along to get along’’ they find themselves, quite literally, in the basement; enduring the retribution that comes with failing to follow their chamber’s leader.

Over the past five decades there have been several attempts to change the way the Legislature operates, including the efforts of Governor Dukakis and Representative Barney Frank in the 1960s, and Representative George Kevarian’s floor revolt in 1983 when Speaker Tom McGee was overthrown. These efforts had a minor impact for a short period. Ultimately, though, the Legislature writes its rules, waives them as it sees fit, and exempts itself from the laws that would make members act otherwise.

So how do we restore the Legislature to the deliberative, representative, democratic institution that the framers of the world’s oldest continuously functioning constitution intended?

Earlier this month, a citizen-led initiative petition for a constitutional amendment was certified by the Massachusetts attorney general, and a grassroots signature drive, organized by FixBeaconHill.com, is now underway.

The proposed amendment seeks to reform the Legislature by requiring the speaker of the House and Senate president to be elected by secret ballot, just as all legislators are elected by us; allowing the speaker and the Senate president to each appoint four leadership positions; requiring both bodies to elect, by secret ballot, a Committee on Committees, which serves to assign committee membership, establish rules for the chamber, establish a consistent formula for members’ budgets, and assign members’ offices; requiring all committees to elect their own chairman, keep minutes, record all votes, and make such records available to the public; precluding the Legislature from exempting itself from the Massachusetts Open Meeting Laws; and requiring the House and Senate to produce and publish line item budgets for the operation of their respective chambers.

Too often, hardworking and committed lawmakers are unable to affect change because of the concentration of power at the top. This amendment would allow all 200 legislators to speak their minds in the best interest of their constituents and the entire Commonwealth, without fear of retribution.

Isn’t it time to fix Beacon Hill?
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Chris McKeown, founder of FixBeaconHill.com, lives in Westwood, Massachusetts.
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www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2009/09/29/how_we_can_fix_beacon_hill/
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www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2009/09/29/how_we_can_fix_beacon_hill/?comments=all
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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Paul Krugman on crashing errors in economics. Plus, constrained credit!

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"How Did Economists Get It So Wrong?"
By PAUL KRUGMAN, The New York Times (Online) Magazine, September 6, 2009

I. MISTAKING BEAUTY FOR TRUTH
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It’s hard to believe now, but not long ago economists were congratulating themselves over the success of their field. Those successes — or so they believed — were both theoretical and practical, leading to a golden era for the profession. On the theoretical side, they thought that they had resolved their internal disputes. Thus, in a 2008 paper titled “The State of Macro” (that is, macroeconomics, the study of big-picture issues like recessions), Olivier Blanchard of M.I.T., now the chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, declared that “the state of macro is good.” The battles of yesteryear, he said, were over, and there had been a “broad convergence of vision.” And in the real world, economists believed they had things under control: the “central problem of depression-prevention has been solved,” declared Robert Lucas of the University of Chicago in his 2003 presidential address to the American Economic Association. In 2004, Ben Bernanke, a former Princeton professor who is now the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, celebrated the Great Moderation in economic performance over the previous two decades, which he attributed in part to improved economic policy making.

Last year, everything came apart.

Few economists saw our current crisis coming, but this predictive failure was the least of the field’s problems. More important was the profession’s blindness to the very possibility of catastrophic failures in a market economy. During the golden years, financial economists came to believe that markets were inherently stable — indeed, that stocks and other assets were always priced just right. There was nothing in the prevailing models suggesting the possibility of the kind of collapse that happened last year. Meanwhile, macroeconomists were divided in their views. But the main division was between those who insisted that free-market economies never go astray and those who believed that economies may stray now and then but that any major deviations from the path of prosperity could and would be corrected by the all-powerful Fed. Neither side was prepared to cope with an economy that went off the rails despite the Fed’s best efforts.

And in the wake of the crisis, the fault lines in the economics profession have yawned wider than ever. Lucas says the Obama administration’s stimulus plans are “schlock economics,” and his Chicago colleague John Cochrane says they’re based on discredited “fairy tales.” In response, Brad DeLong of the University of California, Berkeley, writes of the “intellectual collapse” of the Chicago School, and I myself have written that comments from Chicago economists are the product of a Dark Age of macroeconomics in which hard-won knowledge has been forgotten.

What happened to the economics profession? And where does it go from here?

As I see it, the economics profession went astray because economists, as a group, mistook beauty, clad in impressive-looking mathematics, for truth. Until the Great Depression, most economists clung to a vision of capitalism as a perfect or nearly perfect system. That vision wasn’t sustainable in the face of mass unemployment, but as memories of the Depression faded, economists fell back in love with the old, idealized vision of an economy in which rational individuals interact in perfect markets, this time gussied up with fancy equations. The renewed romance with the idealized market was, to be sure, partly a response to shifting political winds, partly a response to financial incentives. But while sabbaticals at the Hoover Institution and job opportunities on Wall Street are nothing to sneeze at, the central cause of the profession’s failure was the desire for an all-encompassing, intellectually elegant approach that also gave economists a chance to show off their mathematical prowess.

Unfortunately, this romanticized and sanitized vision of the economy led most economists to ignore all the things that can go wrong. They turned a blind eye to the limitations of human rationality that often lead to bubbles and busts; to the problems of institutions that run amok; to the imperfections of markets — especially financial markets — that can cause the economy’s operating system to undergo sudden, unpredictable crashes; and to the dangers created when regulators don’t believe in regulation.

It’s much harder to say where the economics profession goes from here. But what’s almost certain is that economists will have to learn to live with messiness. That is, they will have to acknowledge the importance of irrational and often unpredictable behavior, face up to the often idiosyncratic imperfections of markets and accept that an elegant economic “theory of everything” is a long way off. In practical terms, this will translate into more cautious policy advice — and a reduced willingness to dismantle economic safeguards in the faith that markets will solve all problems.

II. FROM SMITH TO KEYNES AND BACK

The birth of economics as a discipline is usually credited to Adam Smith, who published “The Wealth of Nations” in 1776. Over the next 160 years an extensive body of economic theory was developed, whose central message was: Trust the market. Yes, economists admitted that there were cases in which markets might fail, of which the most important was the case of “externalities” — costs that people impose on others without paying the price, like traffic congestion or pollution. But the basic presumption of “neoclassical” economics (named after the late-19th-century theorists who elaborated on the concepts of their “classical” predecessors) was that we should have faith in the market system.

This faith was, however, shattered by the Great Depression. Actually, even in the face of total collapse some economists insisted that whatever happens in a market economy must be right: “Depressions are not simply evils,” declared Joseph Schumpeter in 1934 — 1934! They are, he added, “forms of something which has to be done.” But many, and eventually most, economists turned to the insights of John Maynard Keynes for both an explanation of what had happened and a solution to future depressions.

Keynes did not, despite what you may have heard, want the government to run the economy. He described his analysis in his 1936 masterwork, “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money,” as “moderately conservative in its implications.” He wanted to fix capitalism, not replace it. But he did challenge the notion that free-market economies can function without a minder, expressing particular contempt for financial markets, which he viewed as being dominated by short-term speculation with little regard for fundamentals. And he called for active government intervention — printing more money and, if necessary, spending heavily on public works — to fight unemployment during slumps.

It’s important to understand that Keynes did much more than make bold assertions. “The General Theory” is a work of profound, deep analysis — analysis that persuaded the best young economists of the day. Yet the story of economics over the past half century is, to a large degree, the story of a retreat from Keynesianism and a return to neoclassicism. The neoclassical revival was initially led by Milton Friedman of the University of Chicago, who asserted as early as 1953 that neoclassical economics works well enough as a description of the way the economy actually functions to be “both extremely fruitful and deserving of much confidence.” But what about depressions?

Friedman’s counterattack against Keynes began with the doctrine known as monetarism. Monetarists didn’t disagree in principle with the idea that a market economy needs deliberate stabilization. “We are all Keynesians now,” Friedman once said, although he later claimed he was quoted out of context. Monetarists asserted, however, that a very limited, circumscribed form of government intervention — namely, instructing central banks to keep the nation’s money supply, the sum of cash in circulation and bank deposits, growing on a steady path — is all that’s required to prevent depressions. Famously, Friedman and his collaborator, Anna Schwartz, argued that if the Federal Reserve had done its job properly, the Great Depression would not have happened. Later, Friedman made a compelling case against any deliberate effort by government to push unemployment below its “natural” level (currently thought to be about 4.8 percent in the United States): excessively expansionary policies, he predicted, would lead to a combination of inflation and high unemployment — a prediction that was borne out by the stagflation of the 1970s, which greatly advanced the credibility of the anti-Keynesian movement.

Eventually, however, the anti-Keynesian counterrevolution went far beyond Friedman’s position, which came to seem relatively moderate compared with what his successors were saying. Among financial economists, Keynes’s disparaging vision of financial markets as a “casino” was replaced by “efficient market” theory, which asserted that financial markets always get asset prices right given the available information. Meanwhile, many macroeconomists completely rejected Keynes’s framework for understanding economic slumps. Some returned to the view of Schumpeter and other apologists for the Great Depression, viewing recessions as a good thing, part of the economy’s adjustment to change. And even those not willing to go that far argued that any attempt to fight an economic slump would do more harm than good.

Not all macroeconomists were willing to go down this road: many became self-described New Keynesians, who continued to believe in an active role for the government. Yet even they mostly accepted the notion that investors and consumers are rational and that markets generally get it right.

Of course, there were exceptions to these trends: a few economists challenged the assumption of rational behavior, questioned the belief that financial markets can be trusted and pointed to the long history of financial crises that had devastating economic consequences. But they were swimming against the tide, unable to make much headway against a pervasive and, in retrospect, foolish complacency.

III. PANGLOSSIAN FINANCE

In the 1930s, financial markets, for obvious reasons, didn’t get much respect. Keynes compared them to “those newspaper competitions in which the competitors have to pick out the six prettiest faces from a hundred photographs, the prize being awarded to the competitor whose choice most nearly corresponds to the average preferences of the competitors as a whole; so that each competitor has to pick, not those faces which he himself finds prettiest, but those that he thinks likeliest to catch the fancy of the other competitors.”

And Keynes considered it a very bad idea to let such markets, in which speculators spent their time chasing one another’s tails, dictate important business decisions: “When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done.”

By 1970 or so, however, the study of financial markets seemed to have been taken over by Voltaire’s Dr. Pangloss, who insisted that we live in the best of all possible worlds. Discussion of investor irrationality, of bubbles, of destructive speculation had virtually disappeared from academic discourse. The field was dominated by the “efficient-market hypothesis,” promulgated by Eugene Fama of the University of Chicago, which claims that financial markets price assets precisely at their intrinsic worth given all publicly available information. (The price of a company’s stock, for example, always accurately reflects the company’s value given the information available on the company’s earnings, its business prospects and so on.) And by the 1980s, finance economists, notably Michael Jensen of the Harvard Business School, were arguing that because financial markets always get prices right, the best thing corporate chieftains can do, not just for themselves but for the sake of the economy, is to maximize their stock prices. In other words, finance economists believed that we should put the capital development of the nation in the hands of what Keynes had called a “casino.”

It’s hard to argue that this transformation in the profession was driven by events. True, the memory of 1929 was gradually receding, but there continued to be bull markets, with widespread tales of speculative excess, followed by bear markets. In 1973-4, for example, stocks lost 48 percent of their value. And the 1987 stock crash, in which the Dow plunged nearly 23 percent in a day for no clear reason, should have raised at least a few doubts about market rationality.

These events, however, which Keynes would have considered evidence of the unreliability of markets, did little to blunt the force of a beautiful idea. The theoretical model that finance economists developed by assuming that every investor rationally balances risk against reward — the so-called Capital Asset Pricing Model, or CAPM (pronounced cap-em) — is wonderfully elegant. And if you accept its premises it’s also extremely useful. CAPM not only tells you how to choose your portfolio — even more important from the financial industry’s point of view, it tells you how to put a price on financial derivatives, claims on claims. The elegance and apparent usefulness of the new theory led to a string of Nobel prizes for its creators, and many of the theory’s adepts also received more mundane rewards: Armed with their new models and formidable math skills — the more arcane uses of CAPM require physicist-level computations — mild-mannered business-school professors could and did become Wall Street rocket scientists, earning Wall Street paychecks.

To be fair, finance theorists didn’t accept the efficient-market hypothesis merely because it was elegant, convenient and lucrative. They also produced a great deal of statistical evidence, which at first seemed strongly supportive. But this evidence was of an oddly limited form. Finance economists rarely asked the seemingly obvious (though not easily answered) question of whether asset prices made sense given real-world fundamentals like earnings. Instead, they asked only whether asset prices made sense given other asset prices. Larry Summers, now the top economic adviser in the Obama administration, once mocked finance professors with a parable about “ketchup economists” who “have shown that two-quart bottles of ketchup invariably sell for exactly twice as much as one-quart bottles of ketchup,” and conclude from this that the ketchup market is perfectly efficient.

But neither this mockery nor more polite critiques from economists like Robert Shiller of Yale had much effect. Finance theorists continued to believe that their models were essentially right, and so did many people making real-world decisions. Not least among these was Alan Greenspan, who was then the Fed chairman and a long-time supporter of financial deregulation whose rejection of calls to rein in subprime lending or address the ever-inflating housing bubble rested in large part on the belief that modern financial economics had everything under control. There was a telling moment in 2005, at a conference held to honor Greenspan’s tenure at the Fed. One brave attendee, Raghuram Rajan (of the University of Chicago, surprisingly), presented a paper warning that the financial system was taking on potentially dangerous levels of risk. He was mocked by almost all present — including, by the way, Larry Summers, who dismissed his warnings as “misguided.”

By October of last year, however, Greenspan was admitting that he was in a state of “shocked disbelief,” because “the whole intellectual edifice” had “collapsed.” Since this collapse of the intellectual edifice was also a collapse of real-world markets, the result was a severe recession — the worst, by many measures, since the Great Depression. What should policy makers do? Unfortunately, macroeconomics, which should have been providing clear guidance about how to address the slumping economy, was in its own state of disarray.

IV. THE TROUBLE WITH MACRO

“We have involved ourselves in a colossal muddle, having blundered in the control of a delicate machine, the working of which we do not understand. The result is that our possibilities of wealth may run to waste for a time — perhaps for a long time.” So wrote John Maynard Keynes in an essay titled “The Great Slump of 1930,” in which he tried to explain the catastrophe then overtaking the world. And the world’s possibilities of wealth did indeed run to waste for a long time; it took World War II to bring the Great Depression to a definitive end.

Why was Keynes’s diagnosis of the Great Depression as a “colossal muddle” so compelling at first? And why did economics, circa 1975, divide into opposing camps over the value of Keynes’s views?

I like to explain the essence of Keynesian economics with a true story that also serves as a parable, a small-scale version of the messes that can afflict entire economies. Consider the travails of the Capitol Hill Baby-Sitting Co-op.

This co-op, whose problems were recounted in a 1977 article in The Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, was an association of about 150 young couples who agreed to help one another by baby-sitting for one another’s children when parents wanted a night out. To ensure that every couple did its fair share of baby-sitting, the co-op introduced a form of scrip: coupons made out of heavy pieces of paper, each entitling the bearer to one half-hour of sitting time. Initially, members received 20 coupons on joining and were required to return the same amount on departing the group.

Unfortunately, it turned out that the co-op’s members, on average, wanted to hold a reserve of more than 20 coupons, perhaps, in case they should want to go out several times in a row. As a result, relatively few people wanted to spend their scrip and go out, while many wanted to baby-sit so they could add to their hoard. But since baby-sitting opportunities arise only when someone goes out for the night, this meant that baby-sitting jobs were hard to find, which made members of the co-op even more reluctant to go out, making baby-sitting jobs even scarcer. . . .

In short, the co-op fell into a recession.

O.K., what do you think of this story? Don’t dismiss it as silly and trivial: economists have used small-scale examples to shed light on big questions ever since Adam Smith saw the roots of economic progress in a pin factory, and they’re right to do so. The question is whether this particular example, in which a recession is a problem of inadequate demand — there isn’t enough demand for baby-sitting to provide jobs for everyone who wants one — gets at the essence of what happens in a recession.

Forty years ago most economists would have agreed with this interpretation. But since then macroeconomics has divided into two great factions: “saltwater” economists (mainly in coastal U.S. universities), who have a more or less Keynesian vision of what recessions are all about; and “freshwater” economists (mainly at inland schools), who consider that vision nonsense.

Freshwater economists are, essentially, neoclassical purists. They believe that all worthwhile economic analysis starts from the premise that people are rational and markets work, a premise violated by the story of the baby-sitting co-op. As they see it, a general lack of sufficient demand isn’t possible, because prices always move to match supply with demand. If people want more baby-sitting coupons, the value of those coupons will rise, so that they’re worth, say, 40 minutes of baby-sitting rather than half an hour — or, equivalently, the cost of an hours’ baby-sitting would fall from 2 coupons to 1.5. And that would solve the problem: the purchasing power of the coupons in circulation would have risen, so that people would feel no need to hoard more, and there would be no recession.

But don’t recessions look like periods in which there just isn’t enough demand to employ everyone willing to work? Appearances can be deceiving, say the freshwater theorists. Sound economics, in their view, says that overall failures of demand can’t happen — and that means that they don’t. Keynesian economics has been “proved false,” Cochrane, of the University of Chicago, says.

Yet recessions do happen. Why? In the 1970s the leading freshwater macroeconomist, the Nobel laureate Robert Lucas, argued that recessions were caused by temporary confusion: workers and companies had trouble distinguishing overall changes in the level of prices because of inflation or deflation from changes in their own particular business situation. And Lucas warned that any attempt to fight the business cycle would be counterproductive: activist policies, he argued, would just add to the confusion.

By the 1980s, however, even this severely limited acceptance of the idea that recessions are bad things had been rejected by many freshwater economists. Instead, the new leaders of the movement, especially Edward Prescott, who was then at the University of Minnesota (you can see where the freshwater moniker comes from), argued that price fluctuations and changes in demand actually had nothing to do with the business cycle. Rather, the business cycle reflects fluctuations in the rate of technological progress, which are amplified by the rational response of workers, who voluntarily work more when the environment is favorable and less when it’s unfavorable. Unemployment is a deliberate decision by workers to take time off.

Put baldly like that, this theory sounds foolish — was the Great Depression really the Great Vacation? And to be honest, I think it really is silly. But the basic premise of Prescott’s “real business cycle” theory was embedded in ingeniously constructed mathematical models, which were mapped onto real data using sophisticated statistical techniques, and the theory came to dominate the teaching of macroeconomics in many university departments. In 2004, reflecting the theory’s influence, Prescott shared a Nobel with Finn Kydland of Carnegie Mellon University.

Meanwhile, saltwater economists balked. Where the freshwater economists were purists, saltwater economists were pragmatists. While economists like N. Gregory Mankiw at Harvard, Olivier Blanchard at M.I.T. and David Romer at the University of California, Berkeley, acknowledged that it was hard to reconcile a Keynesian demand-side view of recessions with neoclassical theory, they found the evidence that recessions are, in fact, demand-driven too compelling to reject. So they were willing to deviate from the assumption of perfect markets or perfect rationality, or both, adding enough imperfections to accommodate a more or less Keynesian view of recessions. And in the saltwater view, active policy to fight recessions remained desirable.

But the self-described New Keynesian economists weren’t immune to the charms of rational individuals and perfect markets. They tried to keep their deviations from neoclassical orthodoxy as limited as possible. This meant that there was no room in the prevailing models for such things as bubbles and banking-system collapse. The fact that such things continued to happen in the real world — there was a terrible financial and macroeconomic crisis in much of Asia in 1997-8 and a depression-level slump in Argentina in 2002 — wasn’t reflected in the mainstream of New Keynesian thinking.

Even so, you might have thought that the differing worldviews of freshwater and saltwater economists would have put them constantly at loggerheads over economic policy. Somewhat surprisingly, however, between around 1985 and 2007 the disputes between freshwater and saltwater economists were mainly about theory, not action. The reason, I believe, is that New Keynesians, unlike the original Keynesians, didn’t think fiscal policy — changes in government spending or taxes — was needed to fight recessions. They believed that monetary policy, administered by the technocrats at the Fed, could provide whatever remedies the economy needed. At a 90th birthday celebration for Milton Friedman, Ben Bernanke, formerly a more or less New Keynesian professor at Princeton, and by then a member of the Fed’s governing board, declared of the Great Depression: “You’re right. We did it. We’re very sorry. But thanks to you, it won’t happen again.” The clear message was that all you need to avoid depressions is a smarter Fed.

And as long as macroeconomic policy was left in the hands of the maestro Greenspan, without Keynesian-type stimulus programs, freshwater economists found little to complain about. (They didn’t believe that monetary policy did any good, but they didn’t believe it did any harm, either.)

It would take a crisis to reveal both how little common ground there was and how Panglossian even New Keynesian economics had become.

V. NOBODY COULD HAVE PREDICTED . . .

In recent, rueful economics discussions, an all-purpose punch line has become “nobody could have predicted. . . .” It’s what you say with regard to disasters that could have been predicted, should have been predicted and actually were predicted by a few economists who were scoffed at for their pains.

Take, for example, the precipitous rise and fall of housing prices. Some economists, notably Robert Shiller, did identify the bubble and warn of painful consequences if it were to burst. Yet key policy makers failed to see the obvious. In 2004, Alan Greenspan dismissed talk of a housing bubble: “a national severe price distortion,” he declared, was “most unlikely.” Home-price increases, Ben Bernanke said in 2005, “largely reflect strong economic fundamentals.”

How did they miss the bubble? To be fair, interest rates were unusually low, possibly explaining part of the price rise. It may be that Greenspan and Bernanke also wanted to celebrate the Fed’s success in pulling the economy out of the 2001 recession; conceding that much of that success rested on the creation of a monstrous bubble would have placed a damper on the festivities.

But there was something else going on: a general belief that bubbles just don’t happen. What’s striking, when you reread Greenspan’s assurances, is that they weren’t based on evidence — they were based on the a priori assertion that there simply can’t be a bubble in housing. And the finance theorists were even more adamant on this point. In a 2007 interview, Eugene Fama, the father of the efficient-market hypothesis, declared that “the word ‘bubble’ drives me nuts,” and went on to explain why we can trust the housing market: “Housing markets are less liquid, but people are very careful when they buy houses. It’s typically the biggest investment they’re going to make, so they look around very carefully and they compare prices. The bidding process is very detailed.”

Indeed, home buyers generally do carefully compare prices — that is, they compare the price of their potential purchase with the prices of other houses. But this says nothing about whether the overall price of houses is justified. It’s ketchup economics, again: because a two-quart bottle of ketchup costs twice as much as a one-quart bottle, finance theorists declare that the price of ketchup must be right.

In short, the belief in efficient financial markets blinded many if not most economists to the emergence of the biggest financial bubble in history. And efficient-market theory also played a significant role in inflating that bubble in the first place.

Now that the undiagnosed bubble has burst, the true riskiness of supposedly safe assets has been revealed and the financial system has demonstrated its fragility. U.S. households have seen $13 trillion in wealth evaporate. More than six million jobs have been lost, and the unemployment rate appears headed for its highest level since 1940. So what guidance does modern economics have to offer in our current predicament? And should we trust it?

VI. THE STIMULUS SQUABBLE

Between 1985 and 2007 a false peace settled over the field of macroeconomics. There hadn’t been any real convergence of views between the saltwater and freshwater factions. But these were the years of the Great Moderation — an extended period during which inflation was subdued and recessions were relatively mild. Saltwater economists believed that the Federal Reserve had everything under control. Fresh­water economists didn’t think the Fed’s actions were actually beneficial, but they were willing to let matters lie.

But the crisis ended the phony peace. Suddenly the narrow, technocratic policies both sides were willing to accept were no longer sufficient — and the need for a broader policy response brought the old conflicts out into the open, fiercer than ever.

Why weren’t those narrow, technocratic policies sufficient? The answer, in a word, is zero.

During a normal recession, the Fed responds by buying Treasury bills — short-term government debt — from banks. This drives interest rates on government debt down; investors seeking a higher rate of return move into other assets, driving other interest rates down as well; and normally these lower interest rates eventually lead to an economic bounceback. The Fed dealt with the recession that began in 1990 by driving short-term interest rates from 9 percent down to 3 percent. It dealt with the recession that began in 2001 by driving rates from 6.5 percent to 1 percent. And it tried to deal with the current recession by driving rates down from 5.25 percent to zero.

But zero, it turned out, isn’t low enough to end this recession. And the Fed can’t push rates below zero, since at near-zero rates investors simply hoard cash rather than lending it out. So by late 2008, with interest rates basically at what macroeconomists call the “zero lower bound” even as the recession continued to deepen, conventional monetary policy had lost all traction.

Now what? This is the second time America has been up against the zero lower bound, the previous occasion being the Great Depression. And it was precisely the observation that there’s a lower bound to interest rates that led Keynes to advocate higher government spending: when monetary policy is ineffective and the private sector can’t be persuaded to spend more, the public sector must take its place in supporting the economy. Fiscal stimulus is the Keynesian answer to the kind of depression-type economic situation we’re currently in.

Such Keynesian thinking underlies the Obama administration’s economic policies — and the freshwater economists are furious. For 25 or so years they tolerated the Fed’s efforts to manage the economy, but a full-blown Keynesian resurgence was something entirely different. Back in 1980, Lucas, of the University of Chicago, wrote that Keynesian economics was so ludicrous that “at research seminars, people don’t take Keynesian theorizing seriously anymore; the audience starts to whisper and giggle to one another.” Admitting that Keynes was largely right, after all, would be too humiliating a comedown.

And so Chicago’s Cochrane, outraged at the idea that government spending could mitigate the latest recession, declared: “It’s not part of what anybody has taught graduate students since the 1960s. They [Keynesian ideas] are fairy tales that have been proved false. It is very comforting in times of stress to go back to the fairy tales we heard as children, but it doesn’t make them less false.” (It’s a mark of how deep the division between saltwater and freshwater runs that Cochrane doesn’t believe that “anybody” teaches ideas that are, in fact, taught in places like Princeton, M.I.T. and Harvard.)

Meanwhile, saltwater economists, who had comforted themselves with the belief that the great divide in macroeconomics was narrowing, were shocked to realize that freshwater economists hadn’t been listening at all. Freshwater economists who inveighed against the stimulus didn’t sound like scholars who had weighed Keynesian arguments and found them wanting. Rather, they sounded like people who had no idea what Keynesian economics was about, who were resurrecting pre-1930 fallacies in the belief that they were saying something new and profound.

And it wasn’t just Keynes whose ideas seemed to have been forgotten. As Brad DeLong of the University of California, Berkeley, has pointed out in his laments about the Chicago school’s “intellectual collapse,” the school’s current stance amounts to a wholesale rejection of Milton Friedman’s ideas, as well. Friedman believed that Fed policy rather than changes in government spending should be used to stabilize the economy, but he never asserted that an increase in government spending cannot, under any circumstances, increase employment. In fact, rereading Friedman’s 1970 summary of his ideas, “A Theoretical Framework for Monetary Analysis,” what’s striking is how Keynesian it seems.

And Friedman certainly never bought into the idea that mass unemployment represents a voluntary reduction in work effort or the idea that recessions are actually good for the economy. Yet the current generation of freshwater economists has been making both arguments. Thus Chicago’s Casey Mulligan suggests that unemployment is so high because many workers are choosing not to take jobs: “Employees face financial incentives that encourage them not to work . . . decreased employment is explained more by reductions in the supply of labor (the willingness of people to work) and less by the demand for labor (the number of workers that employers need to hire).” Mulligan has suggested, in particular, that workers are choosing to remain unemployed because that improves their odds of receiving mortgage relief. And Cochrane declares that high unemployment is actually good: “We should have a recession. People who spend their lives pounding nails in Nevada need something else to do.”

Personally, I think this is crazy. Why should it take mass unemployment across the whole nation to get carpenters to move out of Nevada? Can anyone seriously claim that we’ve lost 6.7 million jobs because fewer Americans want to work? But it was inevitable that freshwater economists would find themselves trapped in this cul-de-sac: if you start from the assumption that people are perfectly rational and markets are perfectly efficient, you have to conclude that unemployment is voluntary and recessions are desirable.

Yet if the crisis has pushed freshwater economists into absurdity, it has also created a lot of soul-searching among saltwater economists. Their framework, unlike that of the Chicago School, both allows for the possibility of involuntary unemployment and considers it a bad thing. But the New Keynesian models that have come to dominate teaching and research assume that people are perfectly rational and financial markets are perfectly efficient. To get anything like the current slump into their models, New Keynesians are forced to introduce some kind of fudge factor that for reasons unspecified temporarily depresses private spending. (I’ve done exactly that in some of my own work.) And if the analysis of where we are now rests on this fudge factor, how much confidence can we have in the models’ predictions about where we are going?

The state of macro, in short, is not good. So where does the profession go from here?

VII. FLAWS AND FRICTIONS

Economics, as a field, got in trouble because economists were seduced by the vision of a perfect, frictionless market system. If the profession is to redeem itself, it will have to reconcile itself to a less alluring vision — that of a market economy that has many virtues but that is also shot through with flaws and frictions. The good news is that we don’t have to start from scratch. Even during the heyday of perfect-market economics, there was a lot of work done on the ways in which the real economy deviated from the theoretical ideal. What’s probably going to happen now — in fact, it’s already happening — is that flaws-and-frictions economics will move from the periphery of economic analysis to its center.

There’s already a fairly well developed example of the kind of economics I have in mind: the school of thought known as behavioral finance. Practitioners of this approach emphasize two things. First, many real-world investors bear little resemblance to the cool calculators of efficient-market theory: they’re all too subject to herd behavior, to bouts of irrational exuberance and unwarranted panic. Second, even those who try to base their decisions on cool calculation often find that they can’t, that problems of trust, credibility and limited collateral force them to run with the herd.

On the first point: even during the heyday of the efficient-market hypothesis, it seemed obvious that many real-world investors aren’t as rational as the prevailing models assumed. Larry Summers once began a paper on finance by declaring: “THERE ARE IDIOTS. Look around.” But what kind of idiots (the preferred term in the academic literature, actually, is “noise traders”) are we talking about? Behavioral finance, drawing on the broader movement known as behavioral economics, tries to answer that question by relating the apparent irrationality of investors to known biases in human cognition, like the tendency to care more about small losses than small gains or the tendency to extrapolate too readily from small samples (e.g., assuming that because home prices rose in the past few years, they’ll keep on rising).

Until the crisis, efficient-market advocates like Eugene Fama dismissed the evidence produced on behalf of behavioral finance as a collection of “curiosity items” of no real importance. That’s a much harder position to maintain now that the collapse of a vast bubble — a bubble correctly diagnosed by behavioral economists like Robert Shiller of Yale, who related it to past episodes of “irrational exuberance” — has brought the world economy to its knees.

On the second point: suppose that there are, indeed, idiots. How much do they matter? Not much, argued Milton Friedman in an influential 1953 paper: smart investors will make money by buying when the idiots sell and selling when they buy and will stabilize markets in the process. But the second strand of behavioral finance says that Friedman was wrong, that financial markets are sometimes highly unstable, and right now that view seems hard to reject.

Probably the most influential paper in this vein was a 1997 publication by Andrei Shleifer of Harvard and Robert Vishny of Chicago, which amounted to a formalization of the old line that “the market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.” As they pointed out, arbitrageurs — the people who are supposed to buy low and sell high — need capital to do their jobs. And a severe plunge in asset prices, even if it makes no sense in terms of fundamentals, tends to deplete that capital. As a result, the smart money is forced out of the market, and prices may go into a downward spiral.

The spread of the current financial crisis seemed almost like an object lesson in the perils of financial instability. And the general ideas underlying models of financial instability have proved highly relevant to economic policy: a focus on the depleted capital of financial institutions helped guide policy actions taken after the fall of Lehman, and it looks (cross your fingers) as if these actions successfully headed off an even bigger financial collapse.

Meanwhile, what about macroeconomics? Recent events have pretty decisively refuted the idea that recessions are an optimal response to fluctuations in the rate of technological progress; a more or less Keynesian view is the only plausible game in town. Yet standard New Keynesian models left no room for a crisis like the one we’re having, because those models generally accepted the efficient-market view of the financial sector.

There were some exceptions. One line of work, pioneered by none other than Ben Bernanke working with Mark Gertler of New York University, emphasized the way the lack of sufficient collateral can hinder the ability of businesses to raise funds and pursue investment opportunities. A related line of work, largely established by my Princeton colleague Nobuhiro Kiyotaki and John Moore of the London School of Economics, argued that prices of assets such as real estate can suffer self-reinforcing plunges that in turn depress the economy as a whole. But until now the impact of dysfunctional finance hasn’t been at the core even of Keynesian economics. Clearly, that has to change.

VIII. RE-EMBRACING KEYNES

So here’s what I think economists have to do. First, they have to face up to the inconvenient reality that financial markets fall far short of perfection, that they are subject to extraordinary delusions and the madness of crowds. Second, they have to admit — and this will be very hard for the people who giggled and whispered over Keynes — that Keynesian economics remains the best framework we have for making sense of recessions and depressions. Third, they’ll have to do their best to incorporate the realities of finance into macroeconomics.

Many economists will find these changes deeply disturbing. It will be a long time, if ever, before the new, more realistic approaches to finance and macroeconomics offer the same kind of clarity, completeness and sheer beauty that characterizes the full neoclassical approach. To some economists that will be a reason to cling to neoclassicism, despite its utter failure to make sense of the greatest economic crisis in three generations. This seems, however, like a good time to recall the words of H. L. Mencken: “There is always an easy solution to every human problem — neat, plausible and wrong.”

When it comes to the all-too-human problem of recessions and depressions, economists need to abandon the neat but wrong solution of assuming that everyone is rational and markets work perfectly. The vision that emerges as the profession rethinks its foundations may not be all that clear; it certainly won’t be neat; but we can hope that it will have the virtue of being at least partly right.

Paul Krugman is a Times Op-Ed columnist and winner of the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science. His latest book is “The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: September 6, 2009
Because of an editing error, an article on Page 36 this weekend about the failure of economists to anticipate the latest recession misquotes the economist John Maynard Keynes, who compared the financial markets of the 1930s to newspaper beauty contests in which readers tried to correctly pick all six eventual winners. Keynes noted that a competitor did not have to pick “those faces which he himself finds prettiest, but those that he thinks likeliest to catch the fancy of the other competitors.” He did not say, “nor even those that he thinks likeliest to catch the fancy of other competitors.”
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Paul Krugman joined The New York Times in 1999 as a columnist on the Op-Ed Page and continues as professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University.

Mr. Krugman received his B.A. from Yale University in 1974 and his Ph.D. from MIT in 1977. He has taught at Yale, MIT and Stanford. At MIT he became the Ford International Professor of Economics.

Mr. Krugman is the author or editor of 20 books and more than 200 papers in professional journals and edited volumes. His professional reputation rests largely on work in international trade and finance; he is one of the founders of the "new trade theory," a major rethinking of the theory of international trade. In recognition of that work, in 1991 the American Economic Association awarded him its John Bates Clark medal, a prize given every two years to "that economist under forty who is adjudged to have made a significant contribution to economic knowledge." Mr. Krugman's current academic research is focused on economic and currency crises.

At the same time, Mr. Krugman has written extensively for a broader public audience. Some of his recent articles on economic issues, originally published in Foreign Affairs, Harvard Business Review, Scientific American and other journals, are reprinted in Pop Internationalism and The Accidental Theorist.

On October 13, 2008, it was announced that Mr. Krugman would receive the Nobel Prize in Economics.
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"A year after financial crisis, a new world order emerges"
By Kevin G. Hall, Mcclatchy Newspapers, Tuesday, September 8, 2009

WASHINGTON — One year after the near collapse of the global financial system, this much is clear: The financial world as we knew it is over, and something new is rising from its ashes.

Historians will look to September 2008 as a watershed for the U.S. economy.

On Sept. 7 , the government seized mortgage titans Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac . Eight days later, investment bank Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, sparking a global financial panic that threatened to topple blue-chip financial institutions around the world. In the several months that followed, governments from Washington to Beijing responded with unprecedented intervention into financial markets and across their economies, seeking to stop the wreckage and stem the damage.

One year later, the easy-money system that financed the boom era from the 1980s until a year ago is smashed. Once-ravenous U.S. consumers are saving money and paying down debt. Banks are building reserves and hoarding cash. And governments are fashioning a new global financial order.

Congress and the Obama administration have lost faith in self-regulated markets. Together, they're writing the most sweeping new regulations over finance since the Great Depression. And in this ever-more-connected global economy, Washington is working with its partners through the G-20 group of nations to develop worldwide rules to govern finance.

"Our objective is to design an economic framework where we're going to have a more balanced pattern of growth globally, less reliant on a buildup of unsustainable borrowing . . . and not just here, but around the world," said Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner .

The first faint signs that the U.S. economy may be clawing its way back from the worst recession since the Great Depression are only now starting to appear, a year after the panic began. Similar indications are sprouting in Europe , China and Japan .

Still, economists concur that a quarter-century of economic growth fueled by cheap credit is over. Many analysts also think that an extended period of slow job growth and suppressed wage growth will keep consumers — and the businesses that sell to them — in the dumps for years.

"Those things are likely to be subpar for a long period of time," said Martin Regalia, the chief economist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce . "I think it means that we probably see potential rates of growth that are in the 2-2.5 (percent) range, or maybe . . . 1.8-1.9 (percent)." A growth rate of 3 percent to 3.5 percent is considered average.

The unemployment rate rose to 9.7 percent in August and is expected to peak above 10 percent in the months ahead. It's already there in at least 15 states. Regalia thinks that it could be five years before the U.S. economy generates enough jobs to overcome those lost and to employ the new workers entering the labor force.

All this is likely to keep consumers on the sidelines.

"I think this financial panic and Great Recession is an inflection point for the financial system and the economy," said Mark Zandi , the chief economist for forecaster Moody's Economy.com. "It means much less risk-taking, at least for a number of years to come — a decade or two. That will be evident in less credit and more costly credit. If you are a household or a business, it will cost you more, and it will be more difficult to get that credit."

The numbers bear him out. The Fed's most recent release of credit data showed that consumer credit decreased at an annual rate of 5.2 percent from April to June, after falling by a 3.6 percent annual rate from January to March. Revolving lines of credit, which include credit cards, fell by an annualized 8.9 percent in the first quarter, followed by an 8.2 percent drop in the second quarter.

That's a sea change. For much of the past two decades, strong U.S. growth has come largely through expanding credit. The global economy fed off this trend.

China became a manufacturing hub by selling attractively priced exports to U.S. consumers who were living beyond their means. China's Asian neighbors sent it components for final assembly; Africa and Latin America sold China their raw materials. All fed off U.S. consumers' bottomless appetite for more, bought on credit.

"That's over. Consumers can do their part — spend at a rate consistent with their income growth, but not much beyond that," Zandi said.

If U.S. consumers no longer drive the global economy, then consumers in big emerging economies such as China and Brazil will have to take up some of the slack. Trade among nations will take on greater importance.

In the emerging "new normal," U.S. companies will have to be more competitive. They must sell into big developing markets; yet as the recent Cash for Clunkers effort underscored, the competitive hurdles are high: Foreign-owned automakers, led by Toyota , reaped the most benefit from the U.S. tax breaks for new car purchases, not GM and Chrysler .

Need a loan? Tough luck: Many U.S. banks are in no condition to lend. Around 416 banks are now on a "problem list" and at risk of insolvency. Regulators already have shuttered 81 banks and thrifts this year.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. reported on Aug. 27 that rising loan losses are depleting bank capital. The ratio of bank reserves to bad loans was 63.5 percent from April to June, the lowest it's been since the savings-and-loan crisis in 1991.

For all that, the U.S. economy does seem to be rising off its sickbed. The latest manufacturing data for August point to a return to growth, and home sales are rising. Indeed, there are many encouraging signs emerging in the global economy.

It's all growth from a low starting point, however, and many economists think that there'll be a lower baseline for U.S. and global growth if the new financial order means less risk-taking by lenders and less indebtedness by companies and consumers.

That seems evident now in the U.S. personal savings rate. It fell steadily from 9.59 percent in the 1970s to 2.68 percent in the easy-money era from 2000 to 2008; from 2005 to 2007, it averaged 1.83 percent.

Today, that trend is in reverse. From April to June, Americans' personal savings rate was 5 percent, and it could go higher if the unemployment rate keeps rising. Almost 15 million Americans are unemployed — and countless others are underemployed or uncertain about their job security, so they're spending less and saving more.

A few years ago, banks fell all over themselves to offer cheap home equity loans and lines of consumer credit. No more. Even billions in government bailout dollars to spur lending haven't changed that.

"The strategy that was stated at the beginning of the year — which is that you would sustain the banking system in order that it would resume lending — hasn't worked, and it isn't going to work," said James K. Galbraith , an economist at the University of Texas at Austin .

Over the course of 2008, the nation's five largest banks reduced their consumer loans by 79 percent, real estate loans by 66 percent and commercial loans by 19 percent, according to FDIC data. A wide range of credit measures, including recent FDIC data, show that lending remains depressed.

Why? The foundation of U.S. credit expansion for the past 20 years is in ruin. Since the 1980s, banks haven't kept loans on their balance sheets; instead, they sold them into a secondary market, where they were pooled for sale to investors as securities. The process, called securitization, fueled a rapid expansion of credit to consumers and businesses. By passing their loans on to investors, banks were freed to lend more.

Today, securitization is all but dead. Investors have little appetite for risky securities. Few buyers want a security based on pools of mortgages, car loans, student loans and the like.

"The basis of revival of the system along the line of what previously existed doesn't exist. The foundation that was supposed to be there for the revival (of the economy) . . . got washed away," Galbraith said.

Unless and until securitization rebounds, it will be hard for banks to resume robust lending because they're stuck with loans on their books.

"We've just been scared," said Robert C. Pozen , the chairman of Boston -based MFS Investment Management . He thinks that the freeze in securitization reflects a lack of trust in Wall Street and its products and remains a huge obstacle to the resumption of lending that's vital to an economic recovery.

Enter the Federal Reserve. It now props up the secondary market for pooled loans that are vital to the functioning of the U.S. financial system. The Fed is lending money to investors who're willing to buy the safest pools of loans, called asset-backed securities.

Through Sept. 3 , the Fed had funded purchases of $817.6 billion in mortgage-backed securities. These securities were pooled mostly by mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae , Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae . In recent months, the Fed also has moved aggressively to lend for purchase of pools of other consumer-based loans.

Today, there's little private-sector demand for new loan-based securities; government is virtually the only game in town. That's why on Aug. 17 , the Fed announced that it would extend its program to finance the purchase of pools of loans until mid-2010. That suggests there's still a long way to go before a functioning securitization market — the backbone of consumer lending — returns to a semblance of normalcy.

----------

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.