Sunday, May 24, 2020

TEXT: Candidate Alex Carlisle releases candidate statement for Williamstown Planning Board re-election

Here are notes on Planning Board issues on the June Town of Williamstown Town Meeting warrant, as supplied by Alex Carlisle, who is seeking re-election to the Williamstown (Mass.) Planning Board.  Please address questions to Carlisle at 413-884-4503  or maclisle@gmail.com 

Link to voter information and mail-in voting application for Williamstown:
https://williamstownma.gov/2020/04/24/early-voting-applications-available//

Platform commentary:


A week or more ago I noticed a request for the two candidates for the Planning Board to present their platforms. Even though all voters want to know what direction the candidates lean, the position is more about getting the details right than any big political agenda. As I had responded in an earlier post, the ADU bylaw was not just about expanding housing opportunity in town, it was also about who might benefit and how that might effect the neighborhoods and the town over the long term. Some seem to have interpreted my opposition to the way the bylaw was written as an opposition to expanding housing in Williamstown, when In fact I wanted to ensure that the ADU housing expansion was directed to add housing where it was most needed.

Bullet Point Platform


  • -I believe that the Planning Board has a primary role in planning for the long term needs and goals for the town.
  • -I believe that any form of regulation should be deeply considered before being committed to law. Reactionary bylaws, or those deemed necessary to serve short term needs should be avoided.
  • -I believe that getting the details right is far more important than just getting a bylaw passed.
  • I believe that we need to carefully thread our way through perceived opportunities for growth to ensure that the town will truly benefit from them in the long-term.
  • -I believe that serving the town and townspeople of Williamtown is an honor and I am dedicated to ensure a balanced and complete examination and review of every issue presented to the Planning Board.


The Longer Read:

In lieu of an actual platform, I will offer my general wishes for Williamstown's future.
I would like to strengthen our town center by increasing opportunities for businesses and housing in the Spring Street/ Latham Street/ Meacham Street and Water Street areas. A strong town center would include a hub of walking and biking paths radiating outward, a public space, condominiums and apartments for those who wish to live near shops and restaurants, and a design sensibility in keeping with a small New England college town. Toward that goal I had submitted a proposal to the Planning Board for an architectural planning competition to generate independent concepts for the town center. To request a copy of that proposal please contact the Planning Board at: PLANNINGBOARD@WILLIAMSTOWNMA.GOV

Jobs and employment opportunities continue to be limited in Williamstown and there do not appear to be large businesses or employers seeking to establish themselves in town. On the other hand, we do have current pressure to expand housing for those who would like to move here, as well as for those who already work here in town and are seeking an affordable home. I believe that we should focus on meeting those needs first in hope that a rising population may, in turn, encourage business growth.

Ultimately the value of a candidate should based on the strength of his/her voting record, and I stand by mine. I have already expressed my view on the ADU bylaws at this site, and below are my votes and opinions on the current town warrant articles to be presented at this years town meeting.


ARTICLE A - REFORMING NON CONFORMING 1 & 2 FAMILY STRUCTURES


The Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) of Massachusetts in 2011 began interpreting the sections of MGL Ch. 40A-6 more expansively as they relate to nonconforming single and two-family homes. Over the past decade the courts in Massachusetts have continued to uphold this interpretation. In January 2019 a case in Brookline firmly solidified  this more expansive interpretation of MGL Ch. 40A-6 which sets a minimum floor for rights local zoning must extend to non conforming 1 & 2 family properties. This amendment brings our local bylaw into alignment with current case law and extends those minimum rights as the courts have directed.

My vote: "For"
This article brings our local bylaws in sync with state laws governing non-conforming lots by increasing the rights of non-conforming lot owners.

ARTICLE B - REGULATION OF LONG & COMMON DRIVEWAYS


This is a two-part warrant article. Part 1:

In Williamstown, many single family homes are constructed with long driveways. Our emergency responders have become increasingly concerned about their ability to navigate these driveways safely. This proposal responds to this concern. It will not impact driveways less than 500' in length.

Vote: "Against"


This warrant does regulate driveways longer than 100' by requiring less than 12% grade and a "surface adequate for emergency vehicles". Driveways over 500' will require a review by the ZBA to provide additional oversight. The description of "many single family homes" is an enlargement of the current annual addition of a few homes (2-4) with long driveways as a recent construction trend. These are the only properties being addressed by this article. Existing properties and driveways are not affected.

Our existing zoning and building codes already require a series of reviews by the Planning Board, Community Development Office, building, electrical, gas and plumbing inspectors and a review by the Fire Department. These reviews provide a degree of oversight to building construction and driveway engineering and allow for recommendations by the Fire Chief for road access. In addition, these properties also need access to heavy construction equipment, fuel oil or propane, construction vehicles, service vehicles, FedX and UPS trucks. Insurance companies charge a premium for homes with limited access and long distances from a fire hydrant. In other words there are already existing pressures on the home builder to provide reasonable access.

This bylaw is aimed squarely at second home owners to solve a very limited problem. It does nothing to improve emergency access to the many homes in town whose driveways may be shorter, but may also have difficult access due to steep roadways, tight turns, or low hanging tree branches. What it does do is make home and long driveway construction increasingly expensive for those with more limited budgets, and how this might affect someone putting up a summer camp on a jeep road is unclear.

One of the reasons I voted against this section of the warrant article is that a pull-off requirement was not included. A pull-off every 250' feet is a low cost means to allow vehicles, including emergency vehicles, to pass and to prevent someone having to back down the entire length of a long driveway when confronted with a vehicle going in the opposite direction. This option would be especially advantageous during emergencies when a number of vehicles can be expected to be involved.

Alternative Solutions:

Williamstown already has a number of existing municipal positions charged with specific tasks such as Fence Viewer, Tree Warden, and Town Constable. Perhaps a position of driveway inspector to fairly and equally ensure access for emergency vehicles on private driveways would answer all of these questions. The inspector would hand out non-binding recommendations to property owners and note potentially hazardous conditions for the fire department and emergency vehicle files.

Part 2:

It also clarifies the legality of common driveways in our community. This type of long rural driveways can service two or more homes and have been allowed for decades as "customarily accessory" to single family homes.

My vote: "For"

This bylaw will add legal clarity to the responsibilities for owners sharing a single driveway and is long overdue.

ARTICLE C - MARIJUANA REGULATION REFORM

The Planning Board proposed and Town Meeting passed regulations governing marjiuana related land uses in 2017 to respond to the passage of a 2016 ballot initiative legalizing recreational marijuana products. These were passed prior to the formation of the Commonwealth's Cannabis Control Commission and the promulgation of that Commission's regulations. This proposal aligns our bylaw with those regulations and provides applicants with additional requirements for setbacks, screening, lot area, performance for growing facilities. These standards will help our Zoning Board of Appeals evaluate proposals. This proposal will also ban the commercial growing of all recreational and medical marijuana outdoors in Williamstown.

My vote: "Against"


This warrant article is largely a reaction to a failed attempt by a commercial grower to begin an operation at the base of Blair Road. This would have been a legal business in keeping with the existing bylaws, but a group of neighbors brought a legal challenge to the grower and effectively scared him off. That incident was a clear reason to review and tighten those existing bylaws.

Once again, it is the details that truly matter. Although I do support tighter regulations and oversight for cannabis cultivation in town, I feel that the board has got this backward by choosing to close the door to outdoor growing while leaving it open to indoor operations. This choice would eliminate the option for local farmers who might finally have a "cash" crop to support their operations. Considering the benefits of the open land surrounding Williamstown that we owe to local farmers, it seems odd that we would prefer to give the option to outside interests instead.
It is worth noting that indoor grow operations are far more capital intensive and are usually funded by a new breed of corporate cannabis investors. In spite of public comments made to the contrary, it is largely these indoor grow operations that have been cited as the source of smell, pollution, and environmental impact. These operations run 24/7 year round producing flowering plants, the source of the odor, as opposed to the once a year outdoor crop. These industrial indoor grow operations would be allowed in the town Planned Business (i.e. Colonial Plaza) or Limited Industrial (i.e. near Steinerfilm) zones. There is currently no means to scientifically specify limits to odor emissions and therefore no accurate means to regulate these emissions. The changes discussed on outdoor cultivation would have limited legal locations to a very small number of areas on the outskirts of town 500' from the nearest residence, and would have limited the maximum size of such a cultivation site to just over one acre.

To sort through the many issues raised by the outdoor growing opposition, I made a point to visit the only legal outdoor cannabis grow operation in the Berkshires in Sheffield, twice. Once in the mid summer, and second during harvest. I wanted to see first hand how much the operation looked like a razor ringed penal colony (not at all) and how much the odor was a problem during the harvest season (it wasn't). Although Dante Birch of the Planning Board joined me on the second visit, the other PB members could not attend ( all were invited). Of all of those opposed to outdoor growing, it seems Dante and I were the only ones to physically visit a cannabis farm. Personally, from that experience I would welcome small outdoor cannabis farms in Williamstown, especially if it would aid our struggling farmers.

Here are some additional bullet points to consider:

  • The odor issue has been repeatedly raised, especially in states that allow much larger operations than those allowed in Massachusetts. However, like any crop that can be hybridized or selectively bred, the odor issue is likely to addressed quickly and should not be a long-term deterrent to outdoor grow operations. There are low odor varieties currently available.
  • It remains legal to grow Industrial hemp as an agricultural crop in Massachusetts and that use is not effected by this bylaw. Industrial hemp currently has the same odor issues as recreational or medicinal cannabis and can be grown in much larger operations.
  • Industrial indoor cannabis operations are contained, but they also produce far more concentrated odors. The heat generated by grow lights requires industrial ventilation of these grow spaces in concentrated air streams. Although there are systems that can be used to reduce odor output, such as charcoal filters and ozone treatment, the odor limits will still be difficult to regulate without specific limitations.
  • The single highest cost for indoor grow operations, aside from legal expenses, is electric power used for lights and ventilation. Williamstown is an expensive place to buy electricity, and it is very likely that these operations will only be temporary as the industry grows and moves to states and locations with looser regulations and cheaper electricity, leaving abandoned operations along the way.


Here is the link to voter information and mail-in voting application for Williamstown:
 https://williamstownma.gov/2020/04/24/early-voting-applications-available/

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

A conversation in December about Berkshire’s cities

Sunday, October 28, 2018

‘Death with Dignity’ discussion on Tuesday

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

THREE LETTERS: About the reporting of alleged sexual-abuse cases at Williams College | Meg Bossong, John Pucci, Paul Caccaviello


UPDATE, OCT. 31 -- WAMC'S Josh Landes has posted a detailed story about this.



These three letters were published in The Berkshire Eagle on the dates and at the URLs provided. They are reproduced here in a exercise of copyright fair use for non-profit analysis and comment and to promote public discourse. The first letter refers to a debate which occurred July 31 in Williamstown. You can go back and review audio of that debate or watch WilliNet's archived VIDEO.

Some reporting of the nuances with sexual-assault handling was posted to iBerkshires on Sept. 2 of 2014 -- four years ago.


BELOW FROM:
https://www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/letter-williams-college-wronged-bycaccaviello-claim,546671

Letter: Williams College wronged by Caccaviello claim

Posted Friday, August 3, 2018 5:45 pm

To the editor:

During the Berkshire County district attorney forum on July 31, the candidates for DA were asked about two campus sexual assault bills pending in the Legislature.

In his response, Paul Caccaviello chose to describe the complex problem of campus sexual assault by pointing to Williams College, specifically, for failing to report incidents of sexual violence to the criminal legal system and to advocate for the legal rights of student survivors of intimate violence.

Mr. Caccaviello's assertions are patently and categorically false. His own predecessor, David Capeless, refuted this point in a lengthy interview with iBerkshires in 2014, saying "My understanding from talking to [Williamstown Police] Chief [Kyle] Johnson is that when [Williams] gets incidents, they report it to the police. Even when the victim doesn't want to talk to the police, they tell the police just so they know. Unfortunately, there's been a misunderstanding of what colleges are doing. It's too easy to think that they have every reason to suppress the idea that there are assaults on their campus. But they're not suppressing the information."

To be effective in advocating on behalf of crime victims, advocates — whether on campus, in community-based agencies like the Elizabeth Freeman Center, or in the DA's own victim-witness advocacy program — have to help victims understand their options, and the benefits and barriers to accessing them. Williams presents students with all their legal and disciplinary options, and supports them in accessing those, either directly or via connection with off-campus resources.

Survivors of violence often weigh whether they can endure the publicity and pain of a criminal proceeding. That self-searching, at the same time they are reacting to and trying to begin their recovery from trauma, has to include a consideration of whether a criminal complaint is likely to lead to a conviction.

The DA's office makes the final choice about whether to pursue prosecution in cases of sexual violence that occur in Berkshire County. This includes cases affecting students of the four colleges located here. Mr. Caccaviello needs to tell the voters of our county how many cases of peer-to-peer, alcohol-involved sexual assault and rape his office has chosen to bring to trial, and how many cases they have pleaded out to lesser, non-sexual offenses or agreed to continue without a finding.

With that information, the voters of Berkshire County can decide on Sept. 4 whose advocacy has come up short.

Meg Bossong,
Pittsfield

The writer is the director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response at Williams College.

BELOW FROM:
https://www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/caccaviello-failed-torespond-to-williams,549082

Caccaviello failed to respond to Williams

Posted Thursday, August 30, 2018 4:15 pm
To the editor:

I write in regard to the Berkshire district attorney campaign. I have been a trial lawyer for 38 years. I was a federal prosecutor for 10 years, and have practiced criminal law in Berkshire County and other counties across Massachusetts.

Throughout the campaign, candidate Paul Caccaviello has claimed that his long "experience" in the DA's office makes him the best candidate.

I beg to differ, but first some facts. The Clery Act is a federal law requiring colleges to report on-campus crime statistics to the U.S. Department of Education. Williams College made its most recent Clery Act disclosure in 2017 covering the years 2014-2016. For those three years, Williams identified 41 credible complaints of rape that it had reported to its campus security office and the Williamstown Police Department. The Berkshire district attorney had the responsibility to review these cases and prosecute those that could be proven in court. My research reveals that only one of these 47 cases has been prosecuted.

These shocking statistics demand an explanation from candidate Caccaviello. At a recent public forum in Williamstown, Caccaviello blamed Williams College, claiming it had failed to report them to law enforcement and to advocate for the rights of student survivors. But according to the Williams Clery Act Reports, all the data about this sexual violence was reported to the Williamstown Police Department and must have been reviewed by the DA's Office. Moreover, all this Clery Act information for 2014-2016 has been publicly available online to Caccaviello's Office for quite some time.

In an August 3 letter to The Eagle, Meg Bossong, the director of sexual assault prevention at Williams, wrote that Caccaviello's claims at the Williamstown Forum were "categorically false." Ms. Bossong asked that Caccaviello provide the public with statistics detailing the number of these kinds of rape cases his office has prosecuted, and their resolution. Caccaviello has failed to do so.

Voters are entitled to this information and a truthful explanation for the DA's failure to prosecute more of these cases. They are also part of Caccaviello's "experience" for which he is accountable.

Andrea Harrington has made a public commitment to review the many rape cases Caccaviello's Office has failed to bring. This has to be done to restore credibility and common decency to that office. She is the only candidate who will bring this kind of accountability to the Berkshire DA's office.

John Pucci,
Northampton

BELOW FROM:
https://www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/letter-politics-behind-attack-on-das-williams-college-probe,554130

Letter: Politics behind attack on DA's Williams College probe

Posted Wednesday, October 24, 2018 4:27 pm

To the editor:

This letter is in response to a letter to the editor of The Berkshire Eagle in August of this year. The letter, authored by John Pucci, a donor to my opponent, claimed that the Berkshire district attorney failed to investigate or prosecute over 40 cases of sexual assault reported by Williams College between 2014 and 2016.

The allegations in this letter were extremely disturbing as they are completely contrary to the mission of the office and goal of protecting victims. I contacted both Williams College and the Williamstown Police Department to begin an inquiry into the matter and found that Mr. Pucci's claims were not only without merit, but misleading, ill-informed, and insensitive to victims.

What I discovered was that the majority of the information provided by Williams College to the Williamstown Police Department did not contain sufficient data to permit a thorough investigation by law enforcement. It found that although Mr. Pucci claimed that "all the data about this sexual violence was reported [by the college] to the Williamstown Police Department," in fact, two-thirds of the incidents reported to the police failed to identify either the victim or the alleged perpetrator of the crime.

Williamstown Police Chief Kyle Johnson discovered an additional 18 cases of sexual assault were never even reported to his department and, therefore, could not be referred to the district attorney's office for further investigation or prosecution. Mr. Pucci's claim that "all the data" about these crimes was shared with the local

police and the Berkshire district attorney's office is simply not true.

When the police department timely requested the names of the parties involved in these cases to further their own investigation, Williams College did not provide the names and protected the confidentiality of the victims and alleged perpetrators. The college was well within its discretion not to reveal the names of the parties to these incidents. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 does not require colleges and universities to report allegations of sexual violence to law enforcement, it only requires schools to investigate and address sexual violence on campus.

Title IX also permits, and even encourages, schools to maintain students' confidentiality. The college is not required to provide to the public or to the district attorney any additional information about these incidents.

In fact, the Annual Security and Fire Safety Report informs students that "all reported crimes will be investigated by the college and may become a matter of public record only if subpoenaed by law enforcement."

We in the DA's office fully respect the rights of victims who chose to remain anonymous and not move forward with an investigation and we understand that the college also has an obligation to provide a safe atmosphere for its students to speak freely. What is disappointing, and irresponsible, is that Mr. Pucci chose to blame the Berkshire district attorney's office for the nature of Williams College's public disclosures of sexual violence. Politicizing this issue was not " just politics" — it is just wrong.

It is important to continue to work with Williams College and Williamstown Police Department to assist in investigations and support all victims of sexual assault. This is an issue that colleges across the country are facing and we are committed to providing all of the necessary resources to not just Williams College but all college campuses in Berkshire County to address the problem.

Paul Caccaviello,
Pittsfield

The writer is Berkshire district attorney and is running as a write-in candidate for election on Nov. 6.


QUESTIONS TO PONDER: 

(Author: Bill Densmore)

1) Does Williams take the position that it won't provide names of victims or alleged assailants except in response to subpoena? Has the Williamstown PD ever asked that subpoenas be issued? Why or why not?

2) More detail is needed on the apparently conflicting roles of colleges under Title IX vs. to law-enforcement to report alleged assaults on campus in detail sufficient to permit an informed judgement about prosecution.  What does WIlliams think? What do MCLA, Simons Rock, etc. think?

3) Caccaviello gives no indication of why or whether he would or would not press Williams for greater disclosure, or why he would not sua sponte request issuance of subpoenas to determine the need for prosecution or discretion.

4) What does Harrington think of all this?  Is this all politics, or something deeper? 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Fwd: "An impolite arrogant woman"



-----------------
Bill Densmore
Williamstown, Mass. USA
mobile: 617-448-6600

Begin forwarded message:

From: Elizabeth Warren <info@elizabethwarren.com>
Date: October 11, 2018 at 10:27:24 PM EDT
To: William Densmore <wpdensmore@gmail.com>
Subject: "An impolite arrogant woman"
Reply-To: info@elizabethwarren.com

Elizabeth Warren for Senate 2018
Elizabeth Warren for Senate 2018

William,

You probably remember: Right after Donald Trump became President, one of his first orders of business was launching an illegal, bigoted Muslim ban.

We all felt powerless at the time – Republicans had just won the White House and both branches of Congress – but my staff and I wanted to do something about it. So we tried to get answers from the Department of Homeland Security about their policy of illegally detaining Massachusetts residents (and their family members) at Boston Logan Airport.

There was only one problem: Trump's new Director of Homeland Security – John Kelly – wouldn't return our calls and emails. My staff emailed back and forth with his staff, but we couldn't get them to set up a call or answer our questions.

When I finally did get on the phone with John Kelly, I asked if he had an office number that I could use in the future to get in touch more quickly. He brushed me off, directing me to the main line listed on the Department of Homeland Security's website (really). Even worse, he bizarrely insisted that I'd made the whole thing up and we'd never tried to reach him in the first place. I happened to be looking at all the emails between his staff and my staff when he said this, so I started reading them to him. He accused me again of making it all up.

My policy staffers were in the room. And to this day, I've never seen so many jaws drop in unison. It was one of the first times we saw "alternative facts" so up close and personal. And one of the first times we saw how truly dysfunctional the executive branch had become - and how quickly.

So what happened next? You guessed it – I persisted. I asked again for his number. He hemmed and hawwed, and he again tried to give me the Department's main line. Let's just say that's when the conversation really started getting awkward – and that I persisted longer than he did. Eventually, he didn't just give me his office number – he gave me his cell number.

Before we got off the phone, I gave him something back for his troubles – a message on behalf of the American people that it was time to follow the court order and allow people stranded abroad to board planes into Logan International Airport.

Was I tough on John Kelly in that phone call? You bet I was. And apparently he didn't like it. According to an email he wrote about our conversation just afterwards, which was just released, he called me "an impolite arrogant woman":

What an impolite arrogant woman. She immediately began insulting our people accusing them of not following the court order, insulting and abusive behavior towards those covered by the pause, blah blah blah.
 

"Blah blah blah." That's all he had to say when he was called out for breaking the law and destroying lives. And I don't know about John Kelly – but there are some men who can only hear "blah blah blah" whenever a woman's talking. One of his aides wrote back, "Too bad Senate Majority Leader McConnell couldn't order her to be quiet again!"

Clever. Well, Mitch McConnell can't shut me up – and neither can John Kelly. (He can't even get Donald Trump off Twitter, and as far as I can tell, that was his main job description when he took on the role of White House Chief of Staff).

It's been a long two years since Donald Trump became President. But the night the Muslim ban started will be seared in my brain forever. That night, I went to Logan Airport to join the protest. It was an incredible sight – a sea of people rushing to East Boston to make their voices heard. There's nothing impolite about people's right to speak out and hold their government accountable. And sometimes, people are right to be angry.

It's been a long two years, but November 6th, we'll have another chance to make our voices heard and fight back against Donald Trump, John Kelly, and all the bigoted creeps still strutting and smirking around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Tick tock, Donald. But we aren't out of the woods yet. Please chip in now to support our re-election campaign and help make sure Democrats win BIG across the country.

Thanks for being a part of this,

Elizabeth

P.S. My phone call with John Kelly happened one day after Mitch McConnell threw me off the Senate floor for reading Mrs. King's letter about Jeff Sessions. Nevertheless, we persist – and you can keep us in this fight by chipping in now.

 

DONATE NOW


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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 . . . . "