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'Visionary Berkshire Energy'

To: BerkshireRecordDotCom
Countering the negative energy of some of today’s 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 

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 Here!

Do the GB Selectmen have any idea what they are doing?

To: BerkshireRecordDotCom
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 wrong? 

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 matter anyway? 

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 being relevant. 

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 old schools. 

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 housing. 

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. 

Great Barrington, MA
Friday, January 18, 2002

Is still trying to make sense of allegations against Barrett

To: BerkshireRecordDotCom
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 you used?

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.

(Name Withheld By Request)
Tuesday, April 18, 2000

Appalled at N. Adams Council's Tap-Dancing

To: BerkshireRecordDotCom
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 it's location?

(Name Withheld By Request)
Wednesday, April 12, 2000

Reads The Berkshire Eagle
thinks of poetry

To: BerkshireRecordDotCom
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:

 Press GIGO
 "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.

Monday, April 10, 2000

P.S.  Please sign the Petition to Protect Free Speech on the Internet:

Hickey & Doyle should have been barred from PCB Negotiations

To: BerkshireRecordDotCom
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.

Thursday, March 30, 2000

Claims Barrett Tried Having Her Son Fired

To: BerkshireRecordDotCom
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.

(Name Withheld by Request)
Thursday, March 30, 2000

Thinks &
Alan Chartock both need lessons

To: BerkshireRecordDotCom
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.

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 ( 

Has Hard Time Finding Barrett Supporters

To: BerkshireRecordDotCom
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

Supports The Angels all the way

To: BerkshireRecordDotCom
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.

Saturday, March 18, 2000

Against Gov't Pay Raise

To: BerkshireRecordDotCom
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

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