Greg Roach's Berkshires Blog
Friday, January 29, 2010
  Logical Conclusion
Thursday, January 28, 2010
  Aw Crap
This recession is starting to piss me off:
On Sunday, January 24, the Alley closed its doors… for the last time. This was after one of our most amazing nights ever. We had a great dinner crowd and a rockin’ night of karaoke. If you had known then, it would have only detracted from the evening and the fun we were having and that is the last thing I wanted.
My father and I are proud to have been a part of downtown North Adams. We are proud of every person we fed, every drink served, every Trivia and Comedy night, the dance parties, the bands and karaoke. We are proud and we are grateful to the people of North Adams for supporting us. Our only wish was that we could do so for longer.
We have met a lot of great people, as patrons, artists and performers and we thank them for helping to make our venture a success. And now we look forward to the future and whatever else life in this small town may bring to 23 Eagle Street. It is with a heavy heart, but with no regrets that I say, this is the Alley’s Last Call
Good luck Keith and Jack. You provided a really nice place.

  Still Whining
The artist formerly known as Buchel had part of the court case that Mass MoCA won against him three year ago overturned upon appeal. The judgement via Chris Marcisz.

The poor little prima dona is worried that MoCA's actions hurt his reputation. I think he did that all by himself.
  Very Good Sign
Getting kids involved in the process is a huge step.
In other business Tuesday, a group of 20 teenagers from the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition’s UNITY program appeared to champion youth involvement in the city and to voice support for a local skateboard park. Prior to the meeting, the group, led by facilitator Kate Merrigan, had met with Alcombright and Councilor Michael Boland for two hours.
"We spoke with the mayor and Councilor Boland about a variety of issues, ranging from low-income housing and a teen center to a youth commission and a skateboard park, which many of our members are passionate about," Brittany Shepard, a spokeswoman for the group, said.
Even a teenager needs to feel "ownership" of their community. It is one of the best ways to build for the future.

Props to Boland and Alcombright!
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
  Public Education Getting it Right
More like this!
Students who take general biology and chemistry, courses in laboratory techniques and biotechnology in BCC's new biotech degree will be able to continue their education at MCLA in biochemistry, microbiology, cell biology and technical laboratory skills.

The course also aligns with the STEM Pipeline (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) to encourage and excite youngsters about the possibilities of science by exposing them to college-level coursework and activities such as the annual Science Fair. BCC and MCLA also cooperate through the Berkshire Compact, which brings educational, civic and business entities together to promote lifetime learning.
Seamless programs like this have shown to be effective at keeping kids on track.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
  Do you want the Good News or the Bad?
Good News first - The Transcript, Eagle, Advocate, Banner and Reformer are not cutting back right now.

The Bad News - Their parent company has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and has turned over 80% of its stock to its creditors who very well might want to squeeze the operations if profits don't materialize:
ffiliated Media Inc. said it has worked out a deal with lenders to restructure its debt and won’t have to slash operations or be forced to sell any of its newspapers.


In its statement, the company said the deal would reduce debt from $930 million to $165 million and, in exchange, lenders will receive 80 percent of the company’s stock.

However, outright control of the company will continue to remain in the hands of chief executive William Dean Singleton and his partner, company president Joseph J. Lodovic IV, who together own almost all of Affiliated Media’s class A shares, which entitles them to elect a majority of the board of directors.
Is it time to assemble a local group of investors who might want to take The Transcript back into private hands?
  The United Corporations of America
Well, at least the right wing dolts on the Supreme Court acknowledge that we are only servants to those who can buy us. The logic suggests that there should be no limits on contributions because the government has no business limiting political speech.

We are so screwed. "We the people" should read, "We the shareholders."

Congrats! You got what you paid for!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
  Exactly Right
Once again Dr. Westen hits the nail on the head:
The President's steadfast refusal to acknowledge that we have a two-party system, his insistence on making destructive concessions to the same party voters he had sent packing twice in a row in the name of "bipartisanship," and his refusal ever to utter the words "I am a Democrat" and to articulate what that means, are not among his virtues. We have competing ideas in a democracy -- and hence competing parties -- for a reason. To paper them over and pretend they do not exist, particularly when the ideology of one of the parties has proven so devastating to the lives of everyday Americans, is not a virtue. It is an abdication of responsibility.
Coakley lost for a lot of reasons that came together in a perfect storm. However, it seems obvious to me that her loss was not her fault alone.
  Draft Ben
U.S. Senator Benjamin Downing has a nice ring to it.

See you in 2012.
  If you want analysis...
.... This is the best post mortem I've seen so far.

(Link fixed. Thanks Ali!)
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
  Now the Hard Work Begins
Well that Coakley thing did not go as planned. The Boston 'burbs showed up and the city did not. Most of rural Mass went Brown except for the Berkshires.

But what I think that all the pundits on my TV fail to grasp is that the "conventional wisdom" about what this means for the November mid-terms is most assuredly just a silly wild ass guess and probably wrong.
Monday, January 18, 2010
  Why My Gut says the Polls are Wrong
Today I witnessed a completely anecdotal event that lends credence to my notion that Coakley will stun the pollsters tomorrow. One of my employees, who had not voted in several cycles, received a phone call from her mother "ordering" her to cast a ballot tomorrow for Martha Coakley. Mind you that this woman last voted with Bill Clinton in office, but tomorrow will vote for Martha.

What I suspect, although I have no real evidence, is that most of the polling outfits are weighting their polls based on "likely voter" numbers that are at least a few days, if not a week or two, old. If so, this a fatal flaw. The "likely voter" numbers are shifting as we speak.

It is my belief that everybody who is going to vote for Scott Brown was well motivated by the end of last week, when the latest round of polling began. I find it truly difficult to believe that there has been a huge defection of likely Coakley voters in just the past few days, which is what most of the polls seem to be suggesting.

Instead, I believe that the percentage of Coakley voters has increased dramatically in the past 72 hours, which is not reflected in the wieghting of the most recent polls.

We saw a similar situation in the NY 23 congressional race, where the final polls failed to predict a large turnout of the Anti-Anti vote. The establishment majority freaked out at the last minute when the polls said the arch-conservative tea-bag-backed candidate was going to win huge, and the Dem won instead.

I am seeing and sensing a lot of that "freak out" among Massachusetts voters who probably would not have voted tomorrow if the polls showed Martha ahead.

That said, I am not confident, not at all, about this race. But I am not pessimistic either. I'll be up late.

**** Sub prediction - Should Coakley pull it off, look for the wacko-right wing to start gnashing their teeth about voter fraud, ACORN, the SEIU, etc... It will be very ugly.
  Annals of Poor Government
What the heck?

Why does the BRTA think that bank holidays are good days to suspend bus service?

It's not even 7 am and I have two employees whose lives are completely disrupted because the buses are not running. Grrrrr. One had to catch a ride two hours early and the other has informed me she has to leave an hour early to get a ride home to Adams.

For the second time, the people who get holidays like MLK day and Columbus Day off are not the people who NEED the bus!
Sunday, January 17, 2010
  Predictions based on nothing more than hunch
Then again, I've been waaay off before. My gut feeling is that there has been way too much loosey goosey polling for me to believe that Brown's surge is deep enough to carry him past 45%. Also, Brown's surge has mobilized the get-out-the-vote for Coakley in a way that Coakley never could have by herself. The turnout will decide this race.

You folks know my preferences, but much more importantly, I urge you to vote on Tuesday regardless of your political persuasion.

As always, the process is ultimately more important than the outcome. It is what defines us as the world's oldest democracy.

Coakley 53%. Brown 45%. Kennedy 2%.
Friday, January 15, 2010
  The Insane Right is Far Worse Than the Looney Left
The right wing web is "outraged" that in a DSCC there is a stock photo used where you can see one of the World Trade Center towers off to the left. Rudy Guilliani is freaking out.

Nevermind that Scott Brown actually voted to deny actual Red Cross 9/11 volunteers financial assistance.

No, in the crazy world that is Tea Bag Land, this mock-up passes as political satire.

This is perhaps the most disgusting American political comment I have ever seen on the web, and I have seen a few.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
  Politics of Convenience
State Senator Brown really thinks we are stupid:
On Wednesday, Republican senate candidate Scott Brown told reporters in Massachusetts that he was "unfamiliar" with the "Tea Party movement," despite receiving the endorsement of a key national Tea Party group which is currently raising money for his campaign to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.

But Brown's claim to be unfamiliar with the Tea Party movement is belied by photographs produced by his own campaign.
It turns out that the Boston Globe blew the original report of this. Josh Marshall corrects.

Still, it is clear that Brown flips more that Greg Louganis. Healthcare, access to Plan B, torture, etc....

While I don't agree with a lot of Republicans on several issues, I respect where they are coming from.

But when you start lying under electoral pressure, respect is not a word that comes to mind.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
  This is not a post about abortion
I don't want to have a discussion about pro-life versus pro-choice. I do want to point out that Scott Brown's position is inconsistent with his tantrum over Martha Coakley's commercial that points out that an amendment he offered to a bill would have potentially allowed a hospital to deny Plan B birth control to rape victims is absolutely 100% disingenuous. Here is the actual language in question, as presented in the Senate by Brown:
Nothing in this section shall impose any requirements upon any employee, physician or nurse of any facility to the extent that administering the contraception conflicts with a sincerely held religious belief. In determining whether an employee, physician or nurse of any facility has a sincerely held religious belief administering the contraception, the conflict shall be known and disclosed to said facility and on record at said facility.

If it is deemed that said employee, physician or nurse of any facility has a sincerely held religious conflict administering the contraception, then said treating facility shall have in place a validated referral procedure policy for referring patients for administration of the emergency contraception that will administer the emergency contraception, which may include a contract with another facility. The referrals shall be made at no additional cost to the patient.
That is not ambiguous.

Sorry Scott. You can send your American Idol daughter out to defend you, but you can't run away from your own work.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
  Vietnamese Bowling
This makes me very happy, but I've got to admit it is an odd mix of cultures:
A Vietnamese restaurant will open in the former Branning's on Curran Highway.

John and Nancy Nguyen of North Adams will open the Saigon-Vietnamese restuarant, Pho, at 1280 Curran Highway at Valley Park Lanes.
This type of pairing is something that you would regularly see on the west coast, but not so much around here. If it is good and the beer is still cold, I think I might take up candle pin bowling. I hope it works.
  A law that needs to be changed
It's hard to fathom that the police believe they can arrest someone for recording them in public, whether they know they are being "taped" or not:
Jon Surmacz, 34, experienced a similar situation. Thinking that Boston police officers were unnecessarily rough while breaking up a holiday party in Brighton he was attending in December 2008, he took out his cellphone and began recording.

Police confronted Surmacz, a webmaster at Boston University. He was arrested and, like Glik, charged with illegal surveillance.

There are no hard statistics for video recording arrests. But the experiences of Surmacz and Glik highlight what civil libertarians call a troubling misuse of the state’s wiretapping law to stifle the kind of street-level oversight that cellphone and video technology make possible.
Technology has changed since 1968 and so have society's standards regarding "openness" when it comes to dealing with public officials.

I would suggest that the law be clarified to allow the recording of all events in a public place as well as the recording of any public official conducting his or her duties. Either that or change the law to "One party consent." It's not 1968 anymore.
Monday, January 11, 2010
  Proud Son Moment
I came across this on friend's Facebook page as she reminisced about her childhood in Detroit. What made me smile is that the Producer of this early '70s gem was my father.

  Spring St. Blues
My former employer (2003-2007), Helen's Place, has closed its doors. From what I understand Helen decided that times were tough and she was ready to retire.

My personal connection to the restaurant and to Helen make this very sad news.

Helen, I wish you well in your retirement and I hope that you get to spend lot's of time with your grandkids!
Saturday, January 09, 2010
  Double Standards Still Live
What if Martha Coakley had posed nude for a major magazine while in Law School. I can assure you she would not be running for Senate.

But if a guy does it....

The Scott Brown's naked photo doesn't bother me, but knowing that the same thing would forever hamper the career of a professional woman bothers the hell out of me.
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
  City Cars
Sometimes all you have to do is ask.

According to Mayor Alcombright (that's something my fingers will have to get used to typing!), John Barrett has, indeed, returned the two city vehicles. The Lumina will now become the city vehicle for the water meter reader and the Explorer is in the shop. It will become the "pool" vehicle for city officials who travel out of town.

Now to get the Topix crowd to believe it..... oy.
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.

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greg at gregoryroach dot com

"Livability, not just affordability." - Dick Alcombright

My ongoing campaign for North Adams City Council

iBerkshires' Online Event Calendar

Because a Chart is Worth 1000 Words

Congressional Budget Office data

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