Countering the negative energy of some of todays
world events, we have just witnessed a convergence of positive, like-minded
individuals in the Berkshires. The convergence point is the new Visionaries
Institute of Suffolk University, which has just opened in Sheffield.
We joined the Institute for an interlude of 12 mornings, as co-professors
of philanthropy, and observed the unfolding of amazing creativity.
As we embraced each day, we were excited, anticipating the creative
energy that would meet us in the form of 23 Masters of Philanthropy and
Media students, each of whom is seeking to improve the world in specific
ways. Some are forming media production companies to shine light on positive
world events. Others are starting their own non-profit organizations; some
reaching out to local disabled children or to youth at-risk in Pittsfield.
Others are forming organizations or joining organizations to reach children
near Chernobyl or in the countries of Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
This new creativity is happening in the Berkshires and is benefiting
in the process from synergistic connections with existing, Berkshire-grown,
creative forces. We wish to thank our Berkshire colleagues who shared their
creative experiences in our course with the students: Karen Smith, Amanda
Root, Rachel Fletcher, Casey Fitzpatrick, John Hoyt Stookey, Ann Barrett,
Lola Jaffe, Linda Jackson, Ed Jaffe, John Craig, Jennifer Dowley,
Carter White and Nick Broad.
This letter is also an open sign of gratitude to Bill Mosher,
the founder of Visionaries, for his decision to bring his organization
to the Berkshires. Activities of the Visionaries Institute are beginning
to emerge throughout the Berkshires. We are reminded of the early formation
of the Aspen Institute, which we all know because of the power it has had
in attracting creative
minds. We suspect that the Visionaries Institute will become as powerful
and will become well known as a source of creative, nonprofit action emanating
from the Berkshires to all corners of the globe.
Great Barrington, MA
VIRGIL STUCKER <email@example.com>
North Adams, MA
Monday, February 25, 2002
Editor's Note: For a different point of view regarding the value
of non-profit organizations, read: "Risky Ventures, Little Accountability
- After Years of Public Funding, Non-Profits Have Completed Few Projects"
in The Washington Post: Click
the GB Selectmen have any idea what they are doing?
Do the Great Barrington Selectmen have any idea
how to run a $16 million company? By the looks of what is going on
lately you have to wonder if anyone is watching what is going on at town
hall? Let us look at what has transpired over the last few months.
We have embarked on an agonizing journey to try to replace our firehouse
with a new one even though it was voted on five years ago to spend
$500,000 to repair our existing one.
Now our five wise Selectmen have put our firehouse up for bid and found
no one really wants it. They have put a bid in for land and lucked
out that the original bidders for that land crapped out. They came
up with a plan to put a new firehouse on that land [which we do not own
yet], and with their usual good business sense they took a half-baked plan
and ran right into a cement wall.
Why could our esteemed Selectmen not find out what the real need is
for a firehouse? If in fact there is a need, what would we do with
our existing firehouse?
If we then assume we would try to sell it, would we then put feelers
out to see if there is any interest instead of putting all our eggs in
one operatic basket?
Would we then not come up with a viable plan based on input from the
historical and conservation committees [considering they have a large say
as to whether the station would ever be built at all on this location],
or would we in fact fly blind and ignore every warning flag thrown our
way because we are the Great Barrington Selectboard and can do no
After doing some due diligence as to the need for, and viability to
be able to do it at a reasonable cost, would we then not take the whole
package to the voters and hope we could convince them of the need to do
this instead of making the voters feel that their vote really should not
If in fact we need more space for our fire department for offices and
training space, why could our esteemed Selectmen not be looking into putting
a second story onto the firehouse in Housatonic and repairing the
one downtown? They say because of the traffic Berkshire Opera
Company will cause, it has become too dangerous for our firemen
to operate out of this existing structure.
Now does this not sound like deja vu all over again? Did
we not go through three agonizing months trying to sift through a special
permit process to help 7&23, Inc. alleviate its
non-compliance problems and listen to our pundits expound their wisdom
and never once address any of the real issues involved?
Why has this situation existed for so long? Why, when confronted
with the situation, did our Selectboard not do the correct thing?
Why, instead of totally ignoring all of our town's by-laws concerning parking
and the special permit process and, under the guise of a solution, did
they do what they did?
And why did they proceed in their actions instead of realizing that
maybe we might rethink our existing by-laws and see them inadequate and
change them so that in the future a problem like this could be fixed more
easily instead of putting applicants and businesses that have existed at
this location for so many years through what seemed like an inquisition?
Now to address 'flying blind' (as our esteemed Selectman Doug Stephenson
put it when referring to our hard-working, former members of our cable
advisory board). As we can see by Mr. Stephenson's handling as chairman
of the firehouse study 'debacle' [I mean committee], his expertise in cable
law and how to negotiate will save us additional moneys over what our former
board members saved us.
Oh wait! At their first meeting, Mr. Stephenson and Stockbridge
Selectman J. Christopher Irsfeld suggested they needed a secretary.
Also, instead of doing due diligence and reviewing what the former cable
board did, they decided that they should take many hours of good work and
throw it away in favor of a plan rejected by their predecessors as not
And they proceed to hire an attorney to help guide them through a process
that would be complete by now were it not for the irresponsible meddling
of Selectmen who seem never to do their homework [the board has Burke
LeClair for that, only he has been asleep on this one]. And now
they are really 'flying blind' just trying to make up for their own buffoonery!
The people of Great Barrington do realize how much Mr. Stephenson's
stupidity is not only going to cost every cable subscriber [there are 2500
in town], but how much every non-subscriber will have to pay in increased
attorneys fees because Mr. Stephenson failed to do his homework!
And now if all this were not enough, these same esteemed Selectmen are
going to lead us in battle to either build a new school, or do what town
meeting members have voted on three times, namely to refurbish our
And here our pundits fail miserably instead of coming up with equitable
solutions to two linked problems that vex us: What to do with the
old buildings, and (am I being too obtuse linking these) the lack of affordable
Remember election day, especially those of you who do not vote but still
spend all day complaining that just twenty-five percent of the registered
voters bother to exercise their right to vote.
Maybe if you complainers did vote, just maybe you could make a difference
in helping to put someone in office who actually could make a difference
in our lives. Instead, we have a Selectboard who get paid real money
and get real benefits and they just take up space.
ROBERT WAHLER <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Great Barrington, MA
Friday, January 18, 2002
still trying to make sense of allegations against Barrett
The North Adams City Council Government Sub-committee
met tonight. A lot of interesting questions were asked, and very few were
answered, at least to anyone's satisfaction. To wit, was I the only person
in the Berkshires who didn't know that the City's "car pool" consists of
one Lumina? I always figured the phrase was a plural.
At any rate, no one seems to know how it gets serviced or fueled or
insuranced, or by which entity, since there is no documentation, according
to rules passed in 1993 or 1994, which leaves everything up to the Mayor.
Councilor Mardin promised to have the information at the next Council
meeting next Tuesday. The Lumina is also a "swing car", but there
wasn't a soul there who knew exactly what that means. It's registered
to the Police Department, but it's not a police car. However, if
you check the car on a computer, it comes up a police car.
Suddenly there has been a barrage of letters dated circa April 14, 2000,
most of them sounding very much the same, saying that City department heads
know that there is a pool/swing car for them to use on business.
Not which car, of course. Since the whole business came up, there
are actually a few people who have actually used the Lumina, which has
about 8,000 or 9,000 miles on it. Then again, the Explorer is allegedly
sort of a swing car, too, but not exactly. It's older and less reliable,
which makes the Lumina necessary. It's a City vehicle, but it was
never ascertained exactly how.
Lewis Carroll would have tons of new material here. I know there's
a shitake factory in town, but really! The stated reason the mayor
parks the Lumina at his house is that he's afraid it'll get vandalized
at the City Yard or wherever police cars are parked. Some people
wanted to know why we need a car pool, since department heads are given
a fixed car allowance for using their own vehicles. If they have
an allowance and they use a pool car, isn't that double-dipping?
At the Council meeting last week, it was Councilor Billings' suggestion
to "file it" -- which I take is a euphemism for burying the entire situation
in the archives. Tonight he demonstrated that his social skills are
severely lacking. He called the gathering "90% idiots" with a political
axe to grind. When he was brought to task for his sarcasm, he revised
that percentage to 75% with sarcastic apology.
One young man was apparently taken aback by the vitriolic manner of
Councilor Billings against various spectators, asking Billings to "be nice".
The man mentioned that his wife and mother were in the audience that Billings
called "idiots". Mr. Billings pointed to one lady sitting across
the room and said, "Oh, is THAT your mother?", and very obviously took
down her name, pointedly paging to a clean sheet in his legal pad. She
seemed intimidated by his action, but still spelled aloud her first name.
She evidently wanted to make certain he got it right.
Later I overheard the young man apologize to Councilor Billings for
the imposition of concerned citizens having forced him to do his job for
the taxpayers of North Adams. Although "Let 'em eat cake" was never
pronounced, it may as well have been put on the loudspeakers. Who
elected this Councilor anyway?
Much more interesting were the Councilors present who didn't say anything
or who suggested some pretty hefty compromises. Things are changing. If
there are any administration supporters in town, I wonder where they were,
except for a shill who had purportedly used a pool car (he didn't remember
which) sometime. If there's only one, how can you forget which one
Bill Davis and John Choquette were there dressed in suits, and I thought
Davis was great. There were a lot of people other than Vince Melito, et
al, who had something to say, so Davis and Choquette were fairly quiet.
It was, however, a long meeting.
I am still trying to make some sense of all this. I don't know
which parts of the allegations are true, but I do recall a saying like
"If you can't bowl them over with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit."
There are no firm answers from Mayor Barrett's camp. Any answers
forthcoming seem to be to questions that weren't asked. If the allegations
are false, let's hear cogent denials unless there are none.
THE GRAMMAR ANGEL
(Name Withheld By Request)
Tuesday, April 18, 2000
at N. Adams Council's Tap-Dancing
I went to the City Council meeting in North Adams
last night and was appalled at the tap-dancing that went on, to wit, the
Lumina has always been a "pool car", according to the older members of
the Council. The younger ones must be having a "junior" moment because
they don't have such total recall. No records are kept as to who
has the car, mileage, gas consumption, etc., although in the last couple
of weeks a couple of other City people have driven it finally.
On WNAW news this morning, one of the Mayor's comments was that the car
stays at his house to protect it from vandalism in the City Yard.
Does that mean the Police Department can't protect their own vehicles?
And that anyone from City Hall can drive a PD car, provided they can find
THE GRAMMAR ANGEL
(Name Withheld By Request)
Wednesday, April 12, 2000
thinks of poetry
Subject: Anti-newspaper poem
Here's a bit of sarcastic anti-newspaper poesy
found out on the Internet. I think the poet is the author of one
of those Vince Foster conspiracy books, but regardless of your views on
that matter this poem speaks for itself.
The Berkshire Eagle is only one of hundreds of newspapers that
fit this description of pompous publications:
"The first rough draft of history,"
Or so their work they tout.
They put the garbage in
And others take it out.
--- DC Dave
If you publish this, please exclude my name and email. Thanks.
NAME WITHHELD BY REQUEST
Monday, April 10, 2000
P.S. Please sign the Petition to Protect Free Speech on the Internet:
& Doyle should have been barred from PCB Negotiations
Thank you for
printing the whole story about The Housatonic River Initiative and
the PCBs. I don't understand why the consent decree was allowed to
happen in the first place.
Both Councilor Hickey and Mayor Doyle
should have been barred from the negotiations with GE for conflict
of interest violations. Hickey, who I think once worked for GE,
stood to benefit personally from a quick settlement with GE as Director
of the Economic Redevelopment Authority.
And Mayor Doyle, lest we forget too
soon, took a trip with GE execs to the Masters Golf Tournament last
year on GE's tab, a blatant conflict of interest violation during
the tense negotiations with GE on Pittsfield's behalf. Doyle
should have been barred from the talks immediately, but he wasn't, and
now look what we've got.
And, now, The Berkshire Eagle
has the audacity to condemn the HRI for defending our City while
praising Doyle for putting a PCB landfill next to an elementary school!
How can we win? At least you
are printing the truth. Maybe the courts will recognize the insanity.....
Please keep this email address anonymous.
NAME WITHHELD BY REQUEST
Thursday, March 30, 2000
Barrett Tried Having Her Son Fired
I'm brand new
in North Adams and buying a house here. You'd think I have no bone
to pick with Mayor Barrett. However, before the last election, the
Mayor tried to get my son fired for having two small opponent stickers
on his private car, which was parked in the public lot in front of the
store in which he works. He called up my son's boss in Pittsfield
to that end. That didn't sit well with my son or with me. I brought
him up better than that.
THE GRAMMAR ANGEL
(Name Withheld by Request)
Thursday, March 30, 2000
Alan Chartock both need lessons
You might give some spelling and grammar lessons
to your pals in North Adams not to mention a brief outline of what constitutes
good taste. Your site relates to pertinent issues and at least contains
some elements of each side. Their site is laughable, one-sided and
in many cases way off the mark.
Glad to see you are going after Alan Chartock. This megalomaniac
peacock has been flaunting his feathers far too long and should be publicly
flogged. Did you catch any of the ultra-nauseating "Count Chartockula"
piece WAMC dared to foist off as entertainment recently? More
sophomoric mush deifying the god of Albany's public radio sycophants and
wasting precious air time.
Please do not publish my name or e-mail address. Thank you.
NAME WITHHELD BY REQUEST
Saturday, March 25, 2000
Editor's Note: Visit "WAMC Northeast Pirate Radio"
for the latest on megalomaniac peacocks and those whose livelihoods consist
of sucking on the public tit, or if you wish to visit Himself himself,
click on WAMC 90.3FM (www.wamc.org).
Hard Time Finding Barrett Supporters
Nice site. As a brand new resident of North
Adams, I've had a hard time finding one single person who has something
good to say about Mayor John Barrett and she didn't give me any details
about why she likes him. Keep up the good work!
Friday, March 24, 2000
all the way
In regards to Mayor John Barrett being on trial
as a CORRUPT MAYOR by the residents of North Adams and The Guardian
Angels: Anyone who is in their right mind knows for a fact that
this Mayor has hurt many people who neither have the money nor political
power to fight against him.
If at any time one person would go house-to-house, or on the street
to take a face-to-face poll in regards to the status of the city and what
it has to offer them, or what their opinion is concerning the Mayor, the
poll would be distasteful against the Mayor. Plus, the fear
in this city for speaking against the Mayor is overwhelming.
No one on earth should have this much control over people, it's like
what Hitler had over in Germany. This group, The Guardian Angels,
are only doing their job speaking-up and defending the ones who otherwise
cannot. There are no jobs here, it's an unfriendly town, no one cares
for the unfortunate. From my viewpoint, there are only two classes
of people here: the rich and the very poor, no middle-class at all.
I support The Angels all the way.
BORN FREE: "RENEGADE"
Saturday, March 18, 2000
Gov't Pay Raise
In response to the column
on the Massachusetts government officials getting yet another pay increase,
I think it is ridiculous to allow this to go through. When the officials
were voted in they knew what to expect financially. If they wanted
more money then they should have stayed out of public offices.
As if we don't pay enough taxes, now even more of our hard earned dollars
are going in their BMW's so to speak.
Thursday, January 27, 2000