Thursday, April 26, 2007

Eagle/Transcript owner settles anti-trust suit to clear Hearst investment; citizens on editorial boards

MediaNews Group Inc., which owns The Berkshire Eagle, The North Adams Transcript, the Bennington Banner, the Advocate and other New England papers, has settled a private anti-trust lawsuit brought in San Francisco which had blocked an equity investment by the Hearst Corp. in the nation's fourth-largest newspaper company. Hearst owns the Albany Times-Union.

Part of the settlement, according to Media News, is an agreement to put a citizen on the editorial boards of each of its Bay Area newspapers.

The news release from MediaNews is printed below:

Contact for MediaNews Group, Inc.:
President,MediaNews Group, Inc.
Phone: (303) 954-1619

MediaNews Group Announces Settlement of Lawsuit

DENVER, April 25, 2007 -- MediaNews Group, Inc. today announced a settlement of all issues raised in the lawsuit brought by Clinton Reilly relating to Hearst.s investment in the non-Bay Area business of MediaNews and California Newspapers Partnership's acquisition of the San Jose Mercury News and Contra Costa Times. California Newspapers Partnership is 54.23 percent owned and controlled by MediaNews. Terms of the settlement were not released.

As part of the settlement, Hearst and MediaNews agreed to make certain changes to the terms of the transaction. Hearst and MediaNews had already elected to make most of these changes during the course of the Hart-Scott-Rodino review by the Department of Justice. The changes have no material effect on Hearst's investment in the non-Bay Area assets of MediaNews.

While the Department of Justice continues to review the transaction, MediaNews is optimistic that the Hearst investment in MediaNews will be allowed to proceed in the very near future.

"We are excited to put this chapter behind us," said Joseph Lodovic, president of MediaNews Group. "Once it became clear that Reilly and MediaNews shared similar views regarding the vibrancy of local newspapers, editorial independence and diversity of editorial opinions, a settlement seemed a real possibility. Our dialogue resulted in some good ideas, and we agreed to put some of those ideas in place, including the appointment of a citizen to each of our San Francisco Bay Area newspaper editorial boards," added Lodovic.

About MediaNews Group, Inc.

MediaNews is the nation.s fourth largest newspaper company, with headquarters in Denver, CO. MediaNews Group and its affiliated companies publish 57 daily newspapers and approximately 120 non-daily publications in 13 states with daily and Sunday circulation of approximately 2.6 million and 3.0 million, respectively. In addition, MediaNews Group owns a CBS affiliate in Anchorage, Alaska and four radio stations in Texas. MediaNews Group maintains web sites for all of its daily newspapers and an umbrella site,

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Massachusetts lieutenant governor promises broadband support

POSTED: April 21, 2007

High-Speed Internet in the Berkshires: A plan for broadband

Lt. Gov. is 'confident' that bond package will bring substantial funding.

By Jack Dew, Berkshire Eagle Staff

HANCOCK, Mass. -- Berkshire County towns that have long tried to beg or borrow
broadband Internet service could go from paupers to princes in a bond package
now being pieced together by Gov. Deval L. Patrick's administration. Lt. Gov.
Timothy P. Murray yesterday told a gathering of Berkshire County's technorati,
town officials, educators and residents that Patrick is planning to send a
request for a bond package to the Legislature this summer. In it, Murray said,
the governor expects a substantial piece of funding to bring high-speed
Internet service to every Western Massachusetts town.

The meeting . dubbed a Broadband Roundtable and held at Jiminy Peak Ski Resort
. began with representatives of Berkshire Connect, Pioneer Valley Connect, the
Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and others describing the shortage of
broadband service in Western Massachusetts and a $20 million plan to fix it.
Murray said that he and the governor are aware of the shortfall and of the
plan. He said they consider expanding broadband service an investment that can
lead to economic growth.

Though he stopped short of naming a figure, Murray said he was "confident" that
"we will be able to deliver (funding) in a fairly significant way that will
move the ball forward."

In an interview afterward, Murray said that the bond bill is still being

"This is something that we are looking at. We understand that there needs to be
some level of investment to move this, to incentivize the private sector. ... I
am hopeful that we can make some headway. But it is too early to talk about a
dollar figure."

Many communities throughout Berkshire County and Western Massachusetts have
little or no broadband service. Residents have to rely on near-obsolete dial-up
connections or pay for more expensive . though not much faster . satellite

In Berkshire County, towns like Hancock, Becket, Peru and Washington have no
broadband service at all, while others are "underserved," with one provider
and, often, access to less than half the town.

"We all understand how critical broadband service is going to be to our
communities going forward," said state Rep. Denis E. Guyer, D-Dalton. "(It
affects) our ability to compete, our ability to attract jobs, and, more
importantly, our ability to attract residents to this end of the state, which
is declining in population."

Donald Dubendorf, the chairman of Berkshire Connect, said, "We know the
problem, we know it well, and we think we now have the means to solve this

The means involve a plan that would bring a fiber optic cable or microwave
tower to some central point in Western Massachusetts. That would extend a
broadband highway to the region, but would not get the signal over the
difficult "last mile" that would reach homes and offices.

To do that, the group is proposing to use wireless connections that would be
broadcast to customers. Private companies such as WiSpring in Great Barrington
are already trying to do this, and the backers of this plan expect that other
private companies would get involved, encouraged by ready access to a broadband

If funded, the backers estimated that it would take two to three years to
install the new network.

Although Murray was supportive, he cautioned against overoptimism. Though he
did not use former Gov. Mitt Romney's name, he said the last administration
left a plaque of deferred maintenance and unfunded projects as well as a $1.3
billion budget deficit. Fixing that will take time, he said.

"We are not going to be able to change it overnight. We didn't get into this
situation overnight," Murray said. "All I can tell you ... is that we are
working as fast as we can and as effectively as we can on a lot of fronts to
try to address this type of indifference. It's frustrating, it makes you angry,
we share your frustration, but we are trying to move as quickly as we can."


Jack Dew can be reached at or at (413) 496-6241.


The article above is copyrighted material, the use of which may not have
specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The material is made available
in an effort to advance understanding of political, economic, democracy, First
Amendment, technology, journalism, community and justice issues, etc. We
believe this constitutes a 'fair use' as provided by Section 107 of U.S.
Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Chapter 1, Section 107, the
material above is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a
prior interest in receiving the included information for research and
educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this blog
for purposes beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright

Friday, April 20, 2007

NEWS RELEASE: Sheep to Shawl Event at Sheep Hill on May 5

Submitted by: Juliana Haubrich, WRLF Events & Programming

The Fourth Annual Williamstown "Sheep to Shawl Festival" at Sheep Hill,

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- The Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation will host
the fourth annual "Sheep to Shawl Festival," at Sheep Hill farm in
Williamstown on Saturday, May 5, from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

The festival is a celebration of spring and New England heritage, with old
fashioned crafts and artisans, unique animals, and outdoor fun on the farm.
This year, the legendary Fred DePaul will be shearing a new variety of sheep:
Southdown Babydoll Miniatures. And as a special treat, Our Boys Farm will
be bringing their amazing Water Buffalo to Sheep Hill. Also, the Northeast
Border Collie Association President, Denise Leonard, will amaze visitors
with her lively herding dog demonstrations. There will be Llamas, Standard
Sheep, and ducks playing in our brand new pond.

For the hungry visitor, Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation will have a
delicious bake sale and an old fashioned Soup Kitchen in our new Chicken
Coop Cafe, hosted by the House of Local History. They'll be bringing their
trunk of period costumes for kids to try on. There will be hands-on felting
crafts, with artist Julia Morgan-Leamon, and an "en plein aire" painting
demonstration by artist David Lane. Also displaying their works, local
photography artists Jennifer Mulcahy and Jean King, Ancient Threads Fiber
Mill from Grafton, NY, and the wonderful local Spinners & Weavers Guild.

The festival is a "pay what you can" family-oriented event, with all
proceeds going to support the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation
( and it's public programming.

The Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation is a land conservation trust working
to preserve the rural New England character of the north Berkshire region.
It offers programs in natural and cultural history year-round at its Sheep
Hill farm headquarters, located on Route 7, just south of the center of
Williamstown, on the west side. Look for the yellow oval sign just after
the 3rd bridge. Free parking will be available at the Antiques Warehouse
and Jae's Inn, just south of the Sheep Hill entrance! For more information,
visit our website at or call Sheep Hill at 413-458-2494.

Submitted by: Juliana Haubrich, WRLF Events & Programming

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

STATEMENT: Rep. Olver emails constituents "concerned" about Supreme Court abortion ruling

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Mass., sent the
following email to his constuents today:

Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2007 15:49:42 -0400
From: Olver Newsletter
Subject: Supreme Court Abortion Ruling Today

Partial Birth Abortion Ban Ruling

* * E-UPDATE: APRIL 2007 * *

Today, abortion opponents were handed a victory in their continual push to
overturn a woman's right to choose. In a 5-4 ruling the conservative Roberts
Supreme Court said that the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act that was passed
by Congress and signed into public law by President Bush in 2003 does not
violate a woman's right to an abortion.

Seven years ago, a highly similar case, Stenberg v. Carhart, was argued
before a much different Supreme Court. This case weighed the merits of an
almost identical ban passed in Nebraska. In this case, the Supreme Court
ruled the abortion ban unconstitutional chiefly because it failed to provide
protections for women's health. Furthermore, in this earlier decision, the
Court exposed 'partial-birth abortion' bans for what they are: an attempt to
stop a range of safe abortion procedures performed in the second trimester
of pregnancy which includes some performed as early as 12-15 weeks of

Fast forward to present day and the case is the same, only the make-up of
the Court has changed. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who served a critical
role in protecting women's rights' in the Stenberg v. Carhart case, has
departed the bench and Justices Roberts and Alito have been added by the

I am very concerned with the consequences that will come from the decision
that was released today. This law bans certain safe and effective abortions
performed as early as 12-15 weeks and makes NO exception for the health of
the woman or for any case of severe fetal abnormalities.

I am pro-choice. Please be assured that I will continue to support any
legislative avenues that may be available to support a woman's right to
choose, as well as legislation that could reverse the decision that was made


John W. Olver
Member of Congress

Monday, April 09, 2007

Downing to keynote BFAIR annual meeting on April 27

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing will deliver
the keynote address at the annual meeting April 27 of BFAIR, the
agency which provides services for people with developmental
disabilities and autism.

The annual meeting will take place at the Williams Inn beginning at 7:30
a.m. and will run until 9 p.m. For more information call Carol Fox ( at 664-9382.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

STATEMENT: Details on rally for climate change April 14 in Williamstown

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. - - A rally for action on climate change will be held on Saturday, April 14 from noon to 2PM, on the front steps of First Congregational Church in Williamstown. This event is part of a national day of action, Step It Up, organized by climate change scholar and activist Bill McKibben. Local actions will be held in iconic places such as levees in New Orleans, melting glaciers on Mt. Rainier, underwater on Key West's endangered coral reefs, and even in Williamstown, on the steps of a New England church.

Over 1,100 events like these will send the message “Step it up Congress, cut carbon 80% by 2050". At least six of these events will be held in Berkshire County.

Climate change is a moral issue as our world is faced with human-caused changes that will harm millions, especially the world’s poorest and most vulnerable., and local clergy have chosen to take a strong stand on the issue. Rev. Carrie Bail, Rabbi Jeff Goldwasser, and Chaplain Rick Spalding will speak. Other speakers include Senator Ben Downing, Jiminy Peak CEO Brian Fairbanks, Williamstown selectman Jane Allen, MGRHS senior Rachel Payne, Tufts University Professor Bill Moomaw, and Chuck MacNeil from Berkshire Regional Transit Authority.
The façade of the church will be decorated to illustrate a graph of the dramatic spike in carbon emissions in the last hundred years— with the final point extending 60 feet to the church’s steeple.
The event will feature music by student performers from Williams College and Mount Greylock Regional High School, and opportunities for people to take action to fight climate change. Actions include: purchase energy efficient compact fluorescent lightbulbs, sign up for green energy, take a pledge to reduce carbon emissions, and sign up for climate change study groups sponsored by the Northwest Earth Institute that will meet for 4 weeks beginning the last week in April. Water St. Books will have a table selling relevant books. Food will be available for purchase at the rally from Spring St. business Ephporium.

People are encouraged to bike, carpool, or take the bus to the event. Thanks to Berkshire Regional Transit Authority, free bus service will be available from North Adams to and from the rally. You may contact First Congregational Church in North Adams at 413-663-9940 to arrange for passes for yourself or your organization. People may park in the lower Stetson lot at Williams College, or at the Williamstown Elementary School lot and walk to the rally. In case of rain, the event will take place inside the Church.

The First Congregational Church of Williamstown is located at 906 Main Street (Rt. 2) opposite the top of Spring Street. The building is fully handicap accessible and parking is available behind the Church off of Chapin Hall Drive. For more information please call the Church office at 413-459-4273 or e-mail

STATEMENT: First Congo to host light-bulb party April 7

WILLIAMSTONW, Mass. -- The Habitat Crew will meet Saturday, April 7 from 5 to 8 pm at the First Congregational Church for a "Light Bulb Changing Party". The party was inspired by the Church Council's hope to make First Congregational Church a green church, and the decision to start the greening process by changing the incandescent lights in the fellowship hall to energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs. When youth leader Beth Davis asked the council if there was some way the group could help, the reply was jokingly "How many Habitat Crew members does it take to change a light bulb?"
The answer was it just can't be done without the help of Harry LaGess, the church sexton. After researching the availability of extra small bulbs to fit the chandeliers in the halls, he concluded that switching to regular florescent fixtures in the ceiling tiles would provide superior lighting for significantly less energy and cost. However he found 54 incandescent light bulbs throughout the church for the Habitat Crew to replace with compact fluorescents. According to Rachel Payne, a member of the church, who recently did her high school senior project presentation on "Making the Commitment to Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions," each bulb can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 600 lbs over its lifespan compared to incandescent light bulbs. Hopefully the 54 light bulbs will save over 32,000 pounds of CO2 emissions.
In addition to replacing the light bulbs, the group is also collecting used inkjet and laser toner cartridges for remanufacturing. Many printer cartridges can be refilled at least once, and companies that remanufacture printer cartridges will actually pay anywhere between a few cents to a few dollars for empty cartridges. The Habitat Crew will use the money raised by collecting these cartridges to fund future Habitat for Humanity building projects. Donations of used printer cartridges can be placed in the large green boxes near each entrance to the First Congregational Church.
If the weather permits, the Habitat Crew will also move the heavy wooden snow diverters back into the church basement. This will help the outside of the church look its best for Easter and the upcoming "COOL Noon" rally for action on climate change which will be held on Saturday, April 14 from noon to 2 pm, on the front steps of First Congregational Church. This event is part of a national day of action, Step It Up, organized by climate change scholar and activist Bill McKibben. The façade of the church will be decorated to illustrate a graph of the dramatic spike in carbon emissions in the last hundred years— with the final point extending 60 feet to the church’s steeple. The event will feature music by student performers from Williams College and Mount Greylock Regional High School, and opportunities for people to take action to fight climate change.
The Habitat Crew is a high school service group that has emerged out of the church's traditional youth ministry over the past six years. Students affiliated with many other religious communities and nonaffiliated students have also joined the group to help build affordable housing with Habitat for Humanity and to work on projects with other local service organizations like the Berkshire Food Project and the Family Life Support Center's Louison House Shelter. "We love getting together to do service work as a group, and many of the students have described it as life changing," Davis explained, "For example, with the Light Bulb Changing Party, the real question is ‘How many light bulbs does it take to change the world?’”
The First Congregational Church of Williamstown is located at 906 Main Street (Rt. 2) opposite the top of Spring Street. The building is fully handicap accessible and parking is available behind the Church off of Chapin Hall Drive. For more information please call the Church office at 413-459-4273 or e-mail