Greg Roach's Berkshires Blog
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......
Yeah, Ken got his point across, and was a bit of a pitbull about it, but perhaps that is what is needed these days. Hope Kerry's staff can unravel the fact that she arrived in the US 3 months after she was born.

Taylor's did a great job on the food, and that place has to be an overlooked one for me. Now I know.

Finally, don't feel guilty about passing the word, it was open to anyone who wanted to attend, though I too only found out through word of mouth and at the last minute.
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