Saturday, September 08, 2018

New Michael Moore movie “Fahrenheit 11/9” in theaters Sept. 21

Michael Moore, the filmmaker, writes:

"Donald J. Trump did not just fall from the sky. His rise to the presidency was not an aberration and should not have come as a shock. It was the logical end result of a long, downward spiral in America that culminated in one of our most loathsome citizens conquering our most powerful political office. One of our most deceptive minds commanding the bully pulpit. One of our most fraudulent hucksters armed with the powers of the presidency to protect him.

"How did this happen?! What did we do to deserve this?!

"Well, where shall I begin ...

"For the past several months, I've been working on my next film, "Fahrenheit 11/9," and I'm finally ready to share it with the world.

"It is already being talked about as one of the most anticipated films of the fall.

"With the film, I set out to answer the two questions that have been haunting most Americans since that fateful morning on 11/9/2016, when, at 2:29 a.m., the Associated Press officially called the election for Donald J. Trump: How the f**ck did we get here and, most importantly, how the f**ck do we get out of it?

"This is not a film telling you what a jerk Trump is, or what an buffoon Trump is, or what a liar Trump is. You already know that. Everybody already knows that, except for your conservative brother-in-law, whose mind you'll never be able to change. I wouldn't waste your time or my time making the kind of film that would convince him. And with all due respect to your conservative brother-in-law, we don't need him. We're the majority in this country, he's the minority; he knows it, and that's why he's so mad!

"Instead, my team and I were on a mission to tell a much more important story. It's a story about hope ... and what comes after it. It's a story about deception and betrayal. It's a story about what happens to people when they've hit rock bottom. It's a story about who we are as a people and what it means to be an American in the era of Trump. Ultimately, it's a story about where we might be heading as a society.

"My team and I have moved heaven and earth to make sure we delivered this film to you in time to have an impact in this year's midterm elections. I'm excited to announce to you that "Fahrenheit 11/9" will open in more movie theaters than any of my previous films; it will be in over 1,500 theaters across America! And I know that MoveOn members like you are moving heaven and earth to win this election. "

"I've made a film that was meant to be seen on a big screen, in a dark theater, filled with a hundred strangers. My hope is that you will experience the magic of cinema the way that it was meant to be experienced and that you will be moved and entertained by it. But that you also will be inspired to act."

–Michael Moore  

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Berkshire Eagle publisher/president invites public to talk at BrewHaHa! on Friday 9 a.m.-10 a.m.

click to enlarge
NORTH ADAMS -- Frederic Rutberg, president/publisher and co-owner of The Berkshire Eagle is bringing one in a series of "coffee and conversation" meetings with the public to the new location of BrewHaHa! cafe/restaurant at 437 West Main St., in North Adams on Friday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.  It's a chance for readers -- print and Internet -- to provide suggestions and constructive feedback on the news organization's efforts.

For two decades The Eagle and its sister papers in Brattleboro, Bennington and Manchester, Vt., were owned by a Denver-based chain which gradually reduced the size of its newsroom, closed The Transcript and The Advocate weekly and raised subscription rates.  In May 2016, four businessmen -- three of them with homes in the Berkshires, purchased the papers for a undisclosed sum and have adding reporters, editors, graphic artists and other support staff in Pittsfield with the goal of creating "the finest community newspaper group in America."

Rutberg, a retired state district-court judge who lives in Stockbridge, has been operational leader of the new owners of New England Newspaper Inc. (NENI).  Shortly after the ownership change, Rutberg inaugurated a circuit-riding approach to checking in with readers, appearing at coffee shops and other venues throughout the Berkshires. Friday's visit is at least the third in northern Berkshire County.

"Pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee and get to know our president and publlisher, editor and other key managers," says a invitational advertisement which appeared in an edition of last week's paper. "Tell us about your neighborhood, ask us questions, share your concenrs, or stop in just to chat. The coffee is free, the conversatoin is informal and information . . . . "

Saturday, July 28, 2018

TUESDAY: Public invited to attend or email questions to Williamstown forum in hot district-attorney three-way race

WILLIAMSTOWN --  On Tuesday, July 31, the League of Women Voters of Williamstown is sponsoring a forum for the three candidates running for the Democratic nomination for Berkshire District Attorney.

As there is no Republican candidate, the race will be decided at the state primary on Sept. 4. The forum will be held from 7:00 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Paresky Center auditorium on the Williams College campus. The public is invited to attend and participate.

Willinet will tape the Forum and can provide tapes for rebroadcast by other public access channels. The candidates will make opening and closing statements, and members of the audience will have the opportunity to ask questions. Questions may also be submitted by email in advance to askinner@williams.edu

The three candidates, in alphabetical order, are:
  • Paul J. Caccaviello, of Dalton, who graduated from Western New England College of Law in Springfield in 1989 and the former North Adams State College in 1986, has been an assistant Berkshire district attorney ever since. Caccaviello served on the Saint Agnes School Board, was a member of the Dalton Rotary Club and is a trustee of Berkshire Community College. He announced his candidacy in May  (AUDIO) in a ceremony which drew a state ethics complaint and a response from Caccaviello. 
  • Andrea Harrington, an attorney at Conner and Morneau LLP who has been a criminal and civil practice attorney for 15 years. She is a graduate of Taconic High School and is a Richmond School Committee member. She ran for state senate two years ago but lost to Adam Hinds. She earned an undergraduate degree in international relations in the honors program at the University of Washington and received her law degree, cum laude from American University.
  • Judith C. Knight, of Lee, served as an assistant district attorney in eastern Massachusetts from 1988 to 1993 and has had a Great Barrington private practice since 2006. Also a certified mediatory, she was an adjunct professor at Western New England School of Law from 1999-2005. She worked in the Colorado public defender's office in Denver in 1987-1988 after receiving her law degree in 1987 from Washington and Lee University in Virginia. She ran and lost to incumbent David Capeless in a 2006 primary bid for DA. She announced her candidacy in May.
Capeless retired earlier this year  (AUDIO) and Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, appointed Caccaviello to fill his expired term until November. (See: "A Massachusetts DA tries to crown his successor" by Eoin Higgins, June 26, 2018)


Related: "How Capeless plotted succession plan" (Commonwealth Magazine, May 17, 2018)


The last day to register to vote in the September primary is Aug. 15.  Tuesday's meeting of the three candidates is one of several between now and the Sept. 4 primary.  Their first faceoff was on May 16.

All three candidates have campaign websites:

OTHER COVERAGE:





Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Details of tonight's (April 10) Williamstown Planning Board meeting on zoning rewrite

April 10, 2018 Meeting (PLEASE NOTE: Due to capacity crowds on April 3 this meeting will be held in the Elementary School Auditorium at
​​
 7:30PM)

The planning board is proposing a complete new zoning for almost all of the town.
See the links below.  If you live in the rural residence zone this will have tax consequences for you.

Note this is included in the attached:
ARTICLE C - REDUCING LOT SIZE IN RURAL RESIDENCE
To see if the Town will vote to amend the Williamstown Zoning By-Laws, §70 of the Code of the Town of Williamstown as follows:
Amend §70-4.3 by changing the minimum lot size in Rural Residence 2 from 2.5 acres to 1.5 acres.
This proposed change alters the lot size requirement in Rural Residential 2, zoning which is all of Williamstown, below 1,150 feet above sea level and  outside of town water and sewer service. Lot size would be reduced from 2.5 acres to 1.5 acres. Lot frontage will remain at 150 feet.   
Here's the narrative that goes along with it:

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Pot shop plans August opening in Williamstown, projects $350/ounce pricing

From left, Josh Ferranto, Joshua Silver and Brendan McKee

Posted by Bill Densmore

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Operators of a marijuana "store" opening in the Colonial Shopping Center in August took questions at a public meeting attended by about 22 people on Saturday morning (Sept. 24) at the Williams Inn. The initial opening will serve recreational customers, with medically certified users coming later. Projected cost of marijuana: $350 an ounce. 

Josh Ferranto, Joshua Silver and Brendan McKee are among directors of Silver Therapeutics Inc., the applicant to open the store; one of three they hope to establish under Massachusett's new "legal pot" statute and regulations.  Silver, a real-estate attorney from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and the company's CEO, and McKeen, who lives in Quincy, Mass., did most of the talking.  McKeen is chief financial officer. Ferranto is operations director.

Silver, who is the company's CEO, filed on Feb. 23  a siting application with the state  which projects the company will have $610,000 in revenue in 2019 and will lose $172,000 in that first year. In year two it projects positive cash flow of $124,000 on $682,000 in revenues; in 2021 revenues of $727,000 and positive cash flow of $414,000 are projected.  patients/customers will grow from 175 a year to 323 a year, representing 4,200 visits in 2019 and 7,752 visits in 2021; the average visit will involve purchase of a quarter-ounce of marijuana at an estimated cost of $350 per ounce in 2019, dropping to $300 an ounce by 2021. 

Some points raised during the hour-long meeting: 
  • The firm is working on a website, at http://agtherapeutics.com, which McKeen said should be live in 7-10 days with information about the company and its principals. Silver Therapeutics chief operating officer, Donald "Donnie" Douglas, is based in Washington state, and owns American Mary, a marijuana shop in Seattle, Silver said.  Application materials say John West, also in Seattle, will be lead grower.
  • From the audience, retired Williamstown pediatrian Michael Sussman expressed concern "that people using marijuana are using it in a responsible way" and that the shop would not inadverently result in minors getting access to marijuana. He said he hopes town officials hold the shop to a "higher standard" than it holds liquor stores.
  • Silver said by law the store will have redundant security systems and patrons -- both medical users and adult recreational users -- will have to show their driver's license and registration card twice -- once to enter the shop and once at checkout.  Answering questions, Silver said the shop will seek to weed out any underage buyers but there is little they can do once a qualified buyer of legal age leaves the premises other than notify police of any suspicious activity.
  • From the audience, Williamstown resident Mark Draper observed that safe, adult use of marijuana was a community challenge, not exclusively the responsibility of the planned dispensary. "Education comes from within a household," he said. "A corporation can only do so much."
  • "There are things we want to do to engage tihe community," said McKee, who will be the store's manager.  "We're going to be spending a lot of time here." McKeen said he was a graduate of Amherst College who now lives in Quincy and expects to get an apartment in Williamstown.
  • The Town of Williamstown will receive three percent of all sales through a pass through of state taxes totaling 20 percent for recreational sales, said Jasoh Hoch, Williamstown town manager, who attended the briefing.  The shop has also agreed to make a once-a-year flat-amount donation of $5,000 to drug-awareness efforts. (For iimportant details of revenues to the town, see Hoch's email at the bottom of this post). 
  • Because federally chartered banks are forbidden to have marijuana businesses as depositors, Silver said the shop will mostly deal in cash; but little will be kept on site; it will be moved to a cultivation facility to be built in Orange, Mass., the location of its second shop. A third shop location is not yet announced, he said.  Century Bank, a state-chartered bank, may be able to handle their banking needs.
  • Silver Therapeutics Inc. was originally set up as a non-profit corporation based upon requirements of state regulations.  But Silver says the state realized that was making it hard for proponents to raise investment and so the state is now permitting for-profit structures and Silver Therapeutics is converting. Silver told one meeting attendee after the formal presentation that the company seeks $4 million in investment. 
Other people involved in Silver Therapeutics, according to its Aug. 2017 application filed with the state  are John West and Michel S. Evanusa.  The application lists Evanusa, a New York time-share and condominium attorney, as a director of Silver Therapeutics, committing $500,000 in initial capital to the company. An earlier April, 2017, filing bears Evanusa's signature stating her commitment to make $2.0 million available to the company.  Sliver said he didn't want to"say too much about our investors" and said "investors are still coming in."  In a subsequent email exchange, Silver said Evanusa is his aunt and her commitment is a line of credit. 

TOWN'S REVENUE OPPORTUNITY EXPLAINED

An email received from Williamstown Town Manager Jason Hoch explains three sources of public revenue the town expects would result from opening of the Silver Therapeutics shop:   (1) An annual payment to the town of 3% of gross revenues. (2) Another 3%  local-option tax on non-medical retail marijuana sales in town which Hoch will propose for adoption at Town Meeting in May and (3) A pre-negotiated annual lump-sum payment of $5,000 to support public drug abuse prevention, treatment or education programs.


Here is the email:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Jason Hoch 
Date: Mon, Mar 26, 2018 at 12:06 PM
Subject: Re: QUESTION: CAn you explain the tax benefits again of having the marijuana shop?
To: Bill Densmore

Bill -

There are multiple streams of funding to the town. First, for both the medical and retail operations, the Town has entered into Host Community Agreements. These each call for 3% of gross revenue to be paid to the Town annually. Under the guidelines from the state, these are restricted use. From the agreement:

"Company shall make the Annual Payments set forth in Paragraph 2, above, to the Town of Williamstown. The Treasurer of the Town shall hold the Annual Payments in a separate account, to be expended by the Town without further appropriation pursuant to G.L. c.44, §53A, or otherwise in trust, for the purposes of addressing the potential health, safety, and other effects or impacts of the Facility on the Town and on municipal programs, services, personnel, and facilities.  While the purpose of the Annual Payments is to assist the Town in addressing any public health, safety, and other effects or impacts the Facility may have on the Town and on municipal programs, services, personnel, and facilities, the Town may expend the Annual Payments at its sole and absolute discretion. Notwithstanding the Annual Payments, nothing shall prevent the Company from making additional donations from time to time to causes that will support the Town, including but not limited to local drug abuse prevention/treatment/education programs."

The Town is required to report annually how those funds have been expended. And worth noting that 3% of sales is the maximum currently allowed under the state regulations

Next, there is a separate local option tax, that can be voted on at Town Meeting for up to an additional 3% of tax on retail marijuana sales (not medical). We intend to bring that article to Town Meeting this May. Those funds are unrestricted revenues for the general fund. At this point, we have not considered further restrictions on those, since will already have the restricted funds in a great amount from the two HCAs.

Lastly, the retail HCA includes a separate requirement for an annual additional contribution for public education. (It appears that your bullet may be read as a one time only payment.) From the agreement:

"The Company, in addition to any other payments specified herein, shall annually contribute to non-profit entity or entities in an amount no less than five thousand dollars ($5,000) for the purposes of  drug abuse prevention/treatment/education programs (the “Annual Donations.”) The education programs shall be held in Williamstown and those communities adjacent to Williamstown. Prior to the selection of a non-profit entity program for this purpose, the Company will review their intentions with the Town, acting through its Town Manager and Chief of Police to ensure that the proposed programming is consistent with community needs.  The Annual Donations shall not be considered part of the Annual Payment to the Town."

Hope this helps. Thanks for checking.

Jason

Ann McCallum resigns from Williamstown Planning Board but supports new zoning effort and will stay for April 3 meeting



UPDATE (April 5, 2018)

The town has set up a website with an FAQ about the zoning proposal that explains more of the rationale for the proposed bylaw. The Planning Board can be reached by email at planningboard@williamstownma.gov.

Also: iBerkshires coverage of April 3 Planning Board meeting

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Architect Ann McCallum said on Tuesday that she plans to continue to serve on the Planning Board at least through its April 3 meeting, when proposed changes in the town's zoning will be discussed.  She also said she generally supports the board's initiative but she expects some changes will be offered at the meeting.


RELATED LINKS:
Selectmen hear negative comments from citizens about zoning rewrite (iBerkshires)

"I think the nuances have been lost to the public and I think we are going to simplify it to make it clearer to more people," McCallum told GreylockNews.com. "Parity issues have come up a lot and I think we will reduce the nuances in order to increase the feeling that everybody is being treated equally."

Among changes likely to be made in the proposal:
  • A reduction to four from six in the number of housing units into which an existing residential building may be subdivided without special zoning approval. The present law provides for only two-unit buildings as a matter of right.
  • An expansion of some provisions of the proposed changes so that they apply equally to most of the town's General Residence district, rather than just to the proposed new districts.
McCallum said the zoning proposal, which the board has been working on for more than a year in public meetings, has at least two objectives in mind:
  • Create opportunities for younger residents and new families in town to find living options other than single-family homes, on the grounds this may increase housing affordability.
  • Update zoning so that it more accurately reflects the actual "built environment" in town's urban core rather than the aspirations of planners who wrote the original zoning in the early 1950s. T
An intended result of the second item, McCallum said, is to provide property owners -- whether developers or residents -- more flexibility in what can be done with their buildings and lots without having to go through a planning-and-zoning hearing process with the town and obtain special permitting.

McCallum's view is that the effect of the changes will not be to permit larger buildings on lots, but create more flexibility with what can be done with those buildings. "Becoming more dense is perhaps not the real answer," she said. "The real point is to have more smaller units available for people, not necessarily affordable housing but different options for people. We want to encourage more young people to come to town -- and they may not be wanting a single-family house."

McCallum notes that her family owns a large Victorian at Cole Avenue and Main Street. Her view is that it makes sense for such buildings to be able to include more, smaller living units rather than to be somewhat orphaned by virtue of their size becoming less desirable. She said her house was divided into three apartments in the 1940s, something that has not been possible to do since the 1955 Zoning By-law took effect (without a special permit process), but that would be allowed "by right" with passage of the changes proposed.

Draft election ballot for Williamstown provided

Town Clerk Mary Kennedy provided today a copy of a draft absentee ballot for the May town election. It shows competition for two open seats on the Planning Board.

Monday, March 26, 2018

AUDIO: Three Democratic gubernatorial candidates in Pittsfield issues forum

Three Democratic gubernatorial primary candidates in Massachusetts in a Pittsfield, Mass. Forum on March 25. From left, Jay Gonzalez, Bob Massie and Setti Warren. LISTEN, to audio of the event: http://newshare.com/greylo…/mass-governor-demos-03-26-18.mp3


Friday, March 23, 2018

42 Hoxsey Update: Wanda Bubriski reports receipt of letter from Williams; historic commission meets April 12

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: W.A. Bubriski <wbubriski@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Mar 23, 2018 at 1:15 AM
Subject: 42 Hoxsey Update

The College's written response to our letter arrived last Friday evening from Rita Coppola-Wallace, Executive Director, Design and Construction, at Williams (see attached, Response).  It's safe to say that many if not all of us who signed the Friends letter, understand the College's academic and residential needs.  What is striking about the Williams letter is the lack of any reference to the historic preservation needs of the town.  We are working on talking points for preserving the house--which is equally an argument on behalf of the town and saving its own historic presence. 

LINK: READ "FRIENDS" GROUP ILETTER TO COLLEGE (March 12 date) 
LINK: READ COLLEGE'S RESPONSIVE LETTER (March 16 date) 

PRESS
Meanwhile, the county paper, The Berkshire Eagle, hopped on the unfolding story, and published this story in Monday's edition:  
http://www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/williams-college-plan-to-demolish-former-bubriski-home-leaves-some-shocked-outraged,534912
?

HEARING – your continued involvement
The town's Historical Commission will vote whether to allow or prevent the demolition of 42 Hoxsey at it's re-scheduled hearing on Thursday, April 12 at 3PM in Town Hall, 31 North Street.  Bev and I will attend. If you are in the area, stop by the Hearing--numbers matter.  (After the hearing--regardless of the outcome-- join us next door at the Williams Inn... at the bar.) 
​ ​
Seriously, we NEED LETTERS of support-- from Williams graduates, former residents, preservation specialists, oral historians, architectural historians, contractors, architects, planners, and civil engineers.  If you, or someone you know, can write a letter, we will send you the template along with talking points.  Our goal is 101 letters by April 10 --  Please help in any way you can. 

We thank you for your continued support,

 Friends of Hoxsey Street