Greg Roach's Berkshires Blog
Saturday, August 30, 2008
  Lil' Trig
It's not an ethics lapse if someone else does it for you.

It is beginning to look like a trend that Sarah Palin's minor and major judgment scrapes are always carried out by someone close to her. Of course she has no knowledge of what those in her inner circle are doing. And she would certainly never ask or suggest that someone should do her bidding.... < / sarcasm >

This NPR Nugget about someone using Palin's infant son's name as a screen name on Wikipedia to scrub the candidate's entry just hours prior to the announcement is kinda funny and apparently typical.

The fact that a close aide was caught on tape telling her ex-brother-in-law's boss that "
Todd and Sarah are scratching their heads, 'Why on earth hasn't this, why is this guy still representing the department?"
is not unusual either.

And while I no next to nothing about Alaska politics, this guy seems to have his ear to ground and wonders if Sarah's hubby got an administration aide fired because of an affair with the wife of one of Todd's friends.

McCain's years of wisdom have served him very poorly on his first major decision as the presumptive nominee.

Palin doesn't have skeletons in her closet. She apparently has fresh bodies.
Friday, August 29, 2008
  The Night After The Morning After
Obama's speech was great. His rhetorical skills are amazing. His ideas are inspiring. Now, can he pull it off? My Magic 8 Ball says "Probably." Will he be able and willing to push his agenda? I don't know.....

And the other big news of the last 24 hours - Sarah Palin.

At first glance I don't like her policy views one bit, but I doubt I would like the beliefs of any of the right-wing Christians whose names were being floated.

On a more practical level, the politics of the pick, it strikes me as deeply flawed. Between her trooper scandal, support for teaching creationism in public schools and the fact that she totally diminishes the one argument that McCain had used successfully against Obama, his lack of experience, I think that John McCain just lost the election (of course, pictures surfacing of Obama and a goat or something to that effect could change the equation.)

I am left asking why McCain picked Palin. At best it is simple pandering to the supposedly disaffected "women's vote" and the Fundie base of the GOP. At worst, it was a from-the-hip move that was meant to show his Maverickiness by poking his finger in the eye of the party elders and pundits.

Neither one of those motives, nor anything in between, makes me trust his judgment one bit.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
  Shameless Self Promotion
Getting quoted by a George Polk award winning journalist makes my day.

But to the point of the quote, if you did not see John Kerry's speech at last night's DNC, you should. He would be President right now if, in 2004, he had shown half of the anger and indignation at the status quo that he expressed last night.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008
  Please Don't Tell Me Racism is Dead
Considering the recent reports of meth-addled white supremacists plotting to kill future President Obama, it seems fitting to cut-&-paste a few posts from a couple of locals on the Berkshire Eagle's online Topix forum before the night-editor deletes them:

I am so sick and tired of all these under educated black guys coming here and ruining the Berkshires. Look we'll make a deal with you. Take the fat, white whores, back with you to NYC. Both you and them are burdens to us hard working folks. You black guys bring your poison and sell it to all the degenerates in Pittsfield and North Adams. They in turn, break into places, steal and rob just to get drugs. Then there are the fat, white whores. You impregnate them and I wind up paying for your baby. They sit around and start *****ng out more half-breed kids that society ends up paying for in the end. Why is it that blacks, generally black guys, have not motivation? An Asain or a White dreams of becoming a doctor, lawyer, or a wealthy busniess person. Most, not all, but most blacks guys dream of being a dope dealer, a basketball player, or rapper? You want equality. Start acting like a human being and less like degenerates. We are sick of your bull**it. Keep your guns/crime, drugs, and fat pregnant white whores, in NYC. We don't want them or you. I am proud of the Berkshires. Gone are the days when you'd work a hard day at GE and get a good, honest, paycheck. Now, I pick up the paper with my coffee and read about one black guy after the next getting arrested for shootings, stabings, drug dealing. Or about some fat, white girl with six black kids, wondering where she will get $3.00 to buy a new outfit at the Goodwill. I'm just tired of it all.

I agree with you angry citizen but I bet those idiots will remove your post because you spoke your mind and its the truth every last word. It is so true this is one reason why this country is in such a mess. They excpect us to tolerate their BS, drug dealing, stabbing and killing people and it is all good. No its not all good, and then they cry racism. You are damn straight, they cause it and they wonder why decent people still hate them. The only ones that dont see it are the blacks, black lovers who have those half breed children, and the politians that dont want to admit because they would be out of office. I said it before and I will say it again that we need a president that will pass moralitiy laws and stop the interacial mixing, treated the trouble making blacks as the criminals they are and put the gays back in the closets. Keep up the true postings.

ou must be black or a black lover. Look at the papers, read the news, watch the tv. Then ask yourself what group causes the most problems? What group sells drugs the most? What is the largest group in the jails? Thats easy The Blacks. No wonder why President Linclon got shot someone must have been able to see the furture with the blacks.

First off, AFAR, I don't live in CA, that is where my IP address shows up at. One day it's CA, then NV, etc. I live in the Berkshires. Bronx, NY, stop with the "living in a white world bulls**t." A blackman/woman can basically get a free education-paid by the government, get bumped ahead of better qualified white candidates (affirmative action), so stop with this living in whitey's world. Why do you never see Asian's complaining about "whitey's" world? They don't. They stay in school and go after/get the jobs that want. They don't take the easy way out and blame others for THEIR failures. Look at Hispanics. You have people risking their lives to "jump the border" to find a job that most of us wouldn't even consider doing. AFAR you are an **** hole. You might get mad at my postings, and I truly don't give a damn, but the Berkshires were not like they are now 25 years ago. Why is that? It's because all the low-life blacks from NYC started moving here. I have not likes/dislikes for fat/skinny white girls. I'm just sick of these white whores $hiting out 6-9 kids by 6-9 different "brothers" and me having to pay for them. What about the article in the Eagle about the poor white girl with the black kid and she couldn't decide what fashion she was going to wear?**** is that? How about wondering what job she is going to apply for or what pre/school her kids will attend? I'm just sick and tired of all these black degenerates coming from NYC and ruining the Berkshires.
I don't know who should be more ashamed, the mentally challenged writers of these posts, or the Eagle* which profits off the traffic that such conversations generate.

*Yes. I realize that most of the really offensive posts will end up being deleted once an editor starts paying attention, but the open forum nature of Topix invites such asininity. As a consumer of news, I find the trade-off between civil discourse and raging anonymous stupidity to make me less likely to read, let alone participate in, such forums.
Monday, August 25, 2008
  Gouging me softly - via Lake Erie - $450 Million in 2008 alone
A while back I noted to Dan Bosley that the cost of the actual electricity I was paying for was not the thing inflating my bill, but all the damn surcharges. Now I think I might know why:
The alleged practice, known to some as the "Lake Erie Loop Scam," is scheduling power to flow over circuitous routes around Lake Erie a day ahead of its actual transmission. The so-far-unnamed market participants save money by avoiding certain tariffs and fees by scheduling to send the electricity north to Canada and back south again.

They may further profit because electricity will take the path of least resistance and will not actually flow through the path scheduled, causing congestion along other transmission lines and further inflating the cost.

According to an estimate released by the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Co., the practice may have resulted in overcharges to consumers amounting to more than $450 million since January.
If this is the case, I expect a HUGE refund check before the dust settles. And a couple of CEOs and traders going to jail would be nice, too.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
  Proud Papa Moment

Meet Bebe, the 2008 Grand Champion Brown Swiss of Berkshire County. And the kid, that's Ethan who has spent most of the last year working hard with this heifer for just this moment.

On Monday, Bebe heads out to pasture for the rest of the summer and fall. She's earned it. Ethan, on the other hand, will be getting ready for the rigors of 4th Grade.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Can 100 college presidents be wrong? Well... yes and no.
College presidents from about 100 of the nation's best-known universities, including Duke, Dartmouth and Ohio State, are calling on lawmakers to consider lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18, saying current laws actually encourage dangerous binge drinking on campus.
I have mixed feelings about lowering the drinking age, but I cannot say that I disagree with the sentiment the prohibition mentality regarding booze creates it owns set of problems, specifically binge drinking.

When I was a resident assistant in the dorms at the Culinary Institute of America in the 1990s (free room!!) the biggest problems I had had were related to severe binge drinking episodes by students aged 18-20. The trips to the local emergency room for alcohol poisoning became so routine that campus security seemed to be on a first name basis with all the ER staff.

I actually caught some grief for the Dean of Students during alcohol awareness week when, instead of a display showcasing the horrors of booze on my floor's bulletin board, I posted a simple note reminding my residents that they were in the food and beverage industry and had best learn to deal with alcohol on a rational and personal level. (Oh, ... And I mentioned that the school's zero-tolerance policy wasn't working. That didn't win me any awards with the administration.)

A few years back Williamstown Medical Associates stopped providing 24 hour on-call care at Williams College's health services clinic. The reason publicly given was higher insurance rates. The scuttlebutt around town was that they were constantly and primarily dealing with toxically-drunk kids at 3 in the morning. Liability may have played a role, but I suspect that babysitting a 19 year old who is puking her guts out after downing a liter of vodka and orange juice might have entered a few of the doc's thoughts.

It is my firm belief that if a person's formative experiences with alcohol are clandestine and illegal, that person has a higher chance of doing something severely stupid or having much bigger problems with alcoholism later in life. I have no data. I doubt such surveys exist. I just know what I've seen.

Until a decade, or so, ago, Wisconsin had a law on it's books that allowed a child aged 16 or above to have beer/wine at a restaurant if the kid was with his/her parents. The discretion was left to the bartender. Unfortunately Congress threatened to withhold federal highway money if the state did not adapt the zero tolerance, 21 year old approach. The law was changed.

To me, the old Wisconsin law makes a helluva lot more sense than saying; "At midnight you turn 21 and will magically gain the wisdom to handle your booze." Life doesn't work that way.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
  North Adams Real Estate
There are a couple of big stories on the North Adams real estate front:

The Holiday Inn reportedly is quietly up for sale according to a couple people in the know. The untimely death of Sanford Plumb this past winter seemed to make to make some ownership changes likely. It seems that the process has begun.

Evidently the old space that Steeples restaurant used to fill is going to remain vacant so a new owner can decide what to do with it. Rumored talks between the Holiday Inn and some experienced local restaurateurs to put a new dining establishment in place this summer recently fell through.

I gotta tell ya' - as a restaurant professional, it is my firm belief that if the right person got their hands on the space at the Holiday Inn, they would make a killing. The prospects for in-house catering are HUGE, not to mention a great location for a restaurant and lounge. If my wife wouldn't divorce me, not to mention that I really love my current job, I would be all over this. (Although, if you're filthy rich and want to throw some serious capital my way, I'll always listen. Don't tell my wife!)

Main Street may soon fill another space, though. A longtime North Adams company that currently owns a large underutilized building is supposedly looking at selling their current building and leasing street front office space on Main Street. It sounds like a logical move to me. I haven't been able to confirm this with any of the players, so for now, let the guessing games begin.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
  Isaac Hayes is Dead
Celebrity deaths usually don't bug me but in 1987 I had the honor of participating in a Master Class at Wayne State University with Isaac Hayes. It's too easy to get all flowery when someone passes. All I'll say is that the man was larger than life and had more soul in his pinky than all of the pop artists currently on the charts combined.

Long live Isaac Hayes.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
  I wonder how they feel about this on Luce Rd?

Somebody is over Harriman-West Airport right now (4:30 pm Saturday) doing loop-d-loops and skywriting. I didn't catch anything in The Transcript about an air show. Is my next door neighbor Pete out having some fun?
The NYTimes has a nice article on the river towns of Vermont. It touches on their embrace of the creative economy and the departure of industry from the region. To a certain extent it could have been written about North Adams.

There was one sentence in the article that stood out to my particular eye:
Unlike other parts of New England, where “people from away” never really become equals, newcomers here are woven into the fabric
Could there be something to this embrace of outsiders in the transformation of a local economy?

We already know what one city councilor thinks.[link is bloggered so here is the councilor's quote from comments]
Farmer's Market on Eagle Street?? BAD IDEA------And what ideas of newbies and Ruddisitas have not been accepted--ask Tom Krens and Joe Thompson(MoCA)--- ask Eric Rudd and beach party - downtown installations-- and the Eclipse Mill----the other ideas have no practical value---but oh yeah-- you are so much smarter than the local yokels---because you're "cultured"---have a bunch of college degrees--- or are artists with creativeness---if you are so much into condemnation of North Adams---MOVE THE HELL OUT---I don't think anyone paid you to come here----and North Adams does not want to be made into the edenic ideal of the windmills of your mind.
What thoughts do the rest of you have?
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
  "See you at the debates, Bitches."
This may be the only thing that Paris Hilton ever has or will do that I find entertaining.
See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die
Monday, August 04, 2008
  Squeaky Wheels and their Moms
I hadn't planned on attending Senator John Kerry's small campaign meet and greet today at Taylor's Fine Dining. If I had I might have modified my attire from the slightly bleach spotted work clothes that I wear on days I expect to be scrubbing in the kitchen. And I might have tamed the Grizzly Adams look that I have been perfecting while waiting to be called as an extra in Ang Lee's film about Woodstock that is in production in New Lebanon. (Seriously. They told me not to cut my hair or trim my beard until shooting is over in October. I'm lookin' mighty mountain man these days.)

What made me jump in the car after I had prepared lunch for the masses was the continuing saga of my friend Ken's elderly mother and her quest to prove her citizenship so she can keep her subsidized senior housing in Adams. (See this post for some background.)

When I saw Ken this morning and told him that Senator Kerry himself would be in town, I knew in an instant that we were going.

You see, two weeks ago, after she had been allowed to move in to Barrett House on a tentative basis, Ken's mom was told she would be evicted in 30 days if she could not produce a bona fide Social Security Card. Dozens of calls to federal legislative offices had produced no results. The only action had come from Dan Bosley's office which was trying to rattle a few cages and get the bureaucrats to back off for a little while.

Having been a few of these events over the years when I worked on other campaigns, I tried to give Ken a few pointers on the drive over - "You'll have 5 seconds with the senator. Tell him your mom will be evicted if she can't get this straightened out, and ASK for the senator's help."

Silly me. After having gone through so much frustration, telling Ken that he should be gentile was kinda' like telling a linebacker not to hit the quarterback.

Ken patiently waited and waited and waited,(The good senator's walking tour evidently ran little long.) and when Kerry finally arrived, Ken was always a body or two behind the flow while the Senator made the rounds.

Finally the Senator's aides set up a couple of chairs to clear an area for a few formal words. Kerry climbed up on the chair and gave a well articulated 10 minute stump speech that barely even hinted on the fact that he is up for re-election this year. Most of the direct campaigning was done on behalf of Barack Obama and increasing the Democratic majority in both chambers of Congress.

It was then that the Senator opened the floor for questions; the first coming from a woman whose husband needed critical surgery, but workman's-comp refused to agree to the surgeon's fee. Kerry directed her to one of his aides.

Now it was Ken's turn. Ken explained his mother's plight (except he left out the not-so-trivial part about his mother's pending eviction) and Kerry directed him, once again, to his aide, but Ken wasn't finished. In fact he seemed a little pissed. He kept railing about how he has called everybody, including Kerry's office and been left hanging by phone-aides who occasionally where a little less than sincere. In an attempt to show some sympathy, the Senator explained that even he has to deal with the bureaucracy and red tape and he promised to have Ken's mom a new card in a few days.

Ken then let out a blunt, "I'm gonna' hold you to that, Senator!"

It was then that the obvious occurred to me. Ken was not just trying to help his mom out of a really screwed up situation, he was fighting for her honor. With a little hindsight, it is actually rather touching.

Ross and Tara showed up with little (and I mean little - 4 weeks old!) Piper, who posed with Senator Kerry as the youngest member of the audience. Piper was, by far, the hit of day.

Sean Taylor put out a very nice spread using his sister's staff and kitchen at Taylor's. Plenty of food and it was kept fresh and bountiful for almost 3 hours.

I finally got hear Dan Bosley in a political forum. The guy's got good chops. He knows how to work a crowd.

The Mayor gave a very nice introduction to Senator Kerry by reminiscing that they had walked together in Barrett's very first Fall Foliage Parade as mayor, all the way back in 1984. Kerry was the Lt. Governor elect. Politics can truly be defined generationally in this corner of the world.

And even though there are some in town who consider me to be a political trouble-maker, this time it wasn't. Instead I only invited the squeaky wheel this time around. Hopefully it was all worth it and Ken's mother will be able to live out her days near her family without fear of being evicted or, more ridiculously, be branded an illegal alien.

What a world we live in......
Sunday, August 03, 2008
  Sunday Big-Media Round-up
I could comment for hours on some of the stuff I've read today. Instead I'll just do a few quick hits:

Perhaps the saddest thing I have read in very long time. Tragedy, hope, and then...

A great piece by the NY Times Public Editor on journalism's role in a war zone based upon the reaction to a photograph from Iraq.
Gail Buckland, an author and professor of photo history at Cooper Union in New York, said she tells students that because of the lack of a comprehensive photographic record of the war in Iraq, they are “more impoverished today than Americans were in the 19th century,” when battlefield photographs by Timothy O’Sullivan and others documented the Civil War. “The greatest dishonor you can do is to forget,” she told me. “Photographs are monuments.”

Bob Herbert on the obviousness of race and the not so subtle way that the McCain camp keeps bringing it up:
Every day that the campaign is about race is a good day for John McCain. So I guess we understand Mr. McCain’s motivation.

David Gergen confirming that he can hear dog whistles designed for southern whites.

The author of the first truly great piece of literature that I ever read, and the man who sparked my interest in Soviet Studies has died. Alexander Solzhenitsyn was 89.

Nancy Pelosi thinks President Bush's Representative in Congress should be Obama's VP and the McCain camp is looking at another lesser known member of the House from Virginia as a possibility.

And, if you wake up in time, Senator Kerry will be at Taylor's Fine Dining, in North Adams, at 11 am for a quick meet and greet.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
  Celebrity Sightings
Over the past several years I have seen, met and even gotten to know a few of the "celebrities" that frequent northern Berkshire County during the summer. This has become commonplace and I tend not to blog about it.


I have to say that I am thoroughly jealous that I was not at Cafe Latino last Tuesday. You see, Mr. Spock was having lunch with Joe Thompson and crew. Rumor has it that there was a tussle for the check, and true to form, Leonard Nimoy's chivalry prevailed.

Spock may be gone, but you can still see Leonard Nimoy's photographs of large naked women dancing in circles on display at the Brill Gallery in the Eclipse Mill. Frankly, I'd rather have lunch with the dude, and not because of his subject matter. You just can't beat Spock.

(Why didn't John McCain use Leonard Nimoy's photo in his "Celebrity" ad instead of Paris and Brittany? Just askin'....)

[Corrected at the reminder of Southview. Dr. Spock told us not to spank our kids. It was most definitely Mr. Spock at Cafe Latino.]
Friday, August 01, 2008
  Illegal? It sure sounds like it.
Just when I was beginning to soften my personal stance against shopping at Wal-Mart I read about this:
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is mobilizing its store managers and department supervisors around the country to warn that if Democrats win power in November, they'll likely change federal law to make it easier for workers to unionize companies -- including Wal-Mart.
In and of itself, it is distasteful, but then you realized that they are going WAY beyond a memo to management:
"The meeting leader said, 'I am not telling you how to vote, but if the Democrats win, this bill will pass and you won't have a vote on whether you want a union,'" said a Wal-Mart customer-service supervisor from Missouri. "I am not a stupid person. They were telling me how to vote," she said.
This is illegal and any attempt by the corporate PR folks to say that such meetings are "unauthorized" is pure BS.

The fact is I don't care if the local Wal-Mart is unionized or not. But I do expect Wal-Mart to follow the law. If the company wants to get directly involved in the politics of their employees, I look forward to a National Labor Relations Board appointed by a Democratic President making the Walton Family a little poorer.

If this crap continues, I would suggest that the city reconsider accepting Wal-Mart's help with Fall Foliage Parade. It would be sad if the Wal-Mart corporation's possibly illegal actions made it prudent to look this particular gift horse in the mouth.

UPDATE: Via the AP Wal-Mart asserts that no one was attempting to sway votes through intimidation.
"If anyone representing Wal-Mart gave the impression... they are wrong and acting without approval,"
Translation: "Our senior Human Resources staff should choose their words more carefully when violating the National Labor Relations Act and other campaign laws."
A blog of random thoughts and reactions emanating from the bank of a mountain stream in the farthest reaches of the bluest of blue states.

May 2006 / June 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / May 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 / September 2007 / October 2007 / November 2007 / December 2007 / January 2008 / February 2008 / March 2008 / April 2008 / May 2008 / June 2008 / July 2008 / August 2008 / September 2008 / October 2008 / November 2008 / December 2008 / January 2009 / February 2009 / March 2009 / April 2009 / May 2009 / June 2009 / July 2009 / August 2009 / September 2009 / October 2009 / November 2009 / December 2009 / January 2010 / February 2010 / March 2010 / April 2010 / May 2010 / January 2011 / May 2011 / June 2011 / July 2011 / October 2011 /

greg at gregoryroach dot com

"Livability, not just affordability." - Dick Alcombright

My ongoing campaign for North Adams City Council

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