Greg Roach's Berkshires Blog
Thursday, February 25, 2010
  Sing it Sister!
The former chef of the Inn at Putney:
  New Nukes
There is a major national energy policy debate brewing in our own backyard. While I think it is a mistake to smear the more modern designs of nuke plants with the obvious failings and dishonesty of the Vermont Yankee Rowe plant, the Vermont Senate has made the prospect of new 21st century American nuclear plants a little less likely.
Investigators recently discovered that plant officials covered up leaks of tritium -- a cancer-causing chemical. Shumlin says senators also worried about billions in financing for a spinoff Entergy has proposed to run the old plant.

SHUMLIN: Our judgment in Vermont is this makes Lehman Brothers and AIG and the other shenanigans on Wall Street look like kindergarten play.

The Vermont vote reverses some of the Obama administration's push for nuclear power as a cleaner energy source.
Am I the only layperson who thinks that the modern plants are a viable option while the '50s and '60s era plants need to go away? Are these two issue so intertwined politically that your average person cannot perceive the difference between the two technologies?
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
  Back Just in Time for the Major Slush Event
After a week on the Gulf Coast and little time in New Orleans it's good to be back. But did the Weather Gods have to make our return quite so messy?

It seems there was a lot of news while I was gone -

Scott Brown is not totally neutered (credit when credit is due) but he sure is back-peddling fast to try and keep the Tea Party crowd from going apoplectic.

We are getting a new restaurant on Main St. This should be interesting. Petrino did a nice job while he was at Williams. That said, College Foodservice is not the same thing as the restaurant biz, but I am sure he knows that. (At least I hope he does.)

Williamstown is getting a couple of new joints as well. Mark Paresky has found a couple of people who are willing to risk their necks in his high rent district. One of the places will be owned by Jason Boucher who had a spectacular rise and fall with Lakeside Restaurant and his other ventures. Hopefully he learned a few things from that experience. You gotta' give someone props who gets ups, dusts himself off and tries again.

As for the rebirth of the Purple Pub, the rent is supposedly insanely sky high in the new place. With the advent of strictly enforced drinking age laws, it is not clear to me that the 500, or so, college students who are 21+ in Williamstown will be able to support the larger place using the old Pub's business model. Call me skeptical. Hopefully the place caters more to the Pizza side of things financially.

Mayor Alcombright continues to impress me with his outreach to surrounding community leaders. "No city is an island unto itself."

Our City's teen curfew has been ruled illegal and tossed by the courts because it is deemed a criminal violation rather than a civil infraction.

Let's see...

I also will have some things to say about my trip when I get a few moments. The deep South's politics and poverty made quite an impression.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
  The Senator from Debtor's Anonymous
Of all the legal trades surrounding financial stuff, Debt Collectors can be about as scummy as they come. In our modern consumer driven economy these are the bottom feeders that follow around the predatory lenders, credit card bankruptcies, uninsured sick people, etc...

So I hope Senator Brown is proud of their work. They are bragging about their role in his success:
ACA International and its members played an important role in Scott Brown's (R-Mass.) stunning win in the Massachusetts special election to succeed the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.).

ACA Immediate Past President Jay Gonsalves and fellow New England Collectors Association member David Sands reached out to ACA members and mobilized them to contribute approximately $11,000 to the Brown campaign to assist with its get-out-the-vote efforts. Not only did members send money, but many agencies offered use of their phones as an in-kind contribution to the campaign.

This kind of ACA member mobilization just days before an election is unprecedented. With the very real threat of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency looming in Congress, as well as wholesale changes to a health care system that would affect many credit and collection professionals' livelihoods, ACA members helped the Brown campaign create a groundswell to victory. [Emphasis mine]
Ya' gotta love it when when a professional organization is proud of their work to make sure people continue to have trouble paying their bills.

Rather disgusting.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
  And We Wonder Why the Economy Imploded
I blame the profits-uber-alles mindset put forth by this jerk.

His management style sounds very familiar:

  Holy Crap
Big accusations being thrown around in Pittsfield.
Monahan, now 46, has told The Eagle in four face-to-face interviews over the past three months that he was fondled by [current Sheriff] Massimiano as a 7-year-old in 1971 and then again in 1976. Monahan also brought up the 1971 allegation during a live radio broadcast last month.
Not pretty.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
  The Neutering of Scott Brown
It seems that Senator Brown's supposed independence has evaporated already. He voted party line to continue the filibuster of a rather non-controversial nominee to the National Labor Relations Board (The guy was once counsel to the AFL-CIO. God forbid that organized labor have a seat at the table of the NLRB) .... just because that's what Republicans do in 2010. (And since when does a 52-33 vote in favor of the nominee continue the filibuster? Why is the onus on the 60 votes needed versus the 40 votes to oppose?)

Obviously Brown checked his testicles at Mitch McConnell's door.

Congrats Massachusetts. I hope you are happy with your "message."
  Utter Nonsense
The fact that this is even a story that requires comment by the Council President and the Mayor tells me that there are some really bitter people out there.

$40K for 9 years experience?

Absolutely and perfectly reasonable.
  The Sound of the Other Shoe Slipping Off the Foot
Both Jennifer and Tammy have good articles on what will be the final stretch of the city's insurance premium debacle. The Mayor has procured the services of an independent auditor to look into the unions' claims that the administration of John Barrett underpaid their share of premium, and hence, owes the city's employees many hundreds of thousands of dollars.

While I am not an accountant, it seemed very clear to me based upon the numbers provided to the Teacher's Union by the city, that, indeed, the city screwed up. (previous posts on the subject here;)

Since that time, a friend who knows a little something about the subject told me that insurance law precedent backs the union's position because a self-insured entity, which the city is, is a carrier. In insurance parlance, it basically means it's the city's problem, not the union's.

I hope that if this turns out as I suspect that the unions find a gentle solution that does not wallop the city with a huge upfront payment of back wages. I am sure that they would settle for some concessions on the city's part in the form of a premium holiday, or something like that.

On a related note, it was conveyed to me that this subject in particular severely complicated any attempts by former Mayor Barrett to rejoin the ranks of the teachers in the North Adams Public Schools. Tangled, tangled webs.
Sunday, February 07, 2010
  Slightly Odd Post Election Development
There was a rumor kicking around the Topix threads that former mayor, John Barrett III, is being hired by the North Adams Public Schools. This morning I confirmed with a source high up in the schools that some sort of hire is currently under legal review.

What is not clear is if this is John Barrett's attempt to return from a 26 year leave of absence that he took when he first won the mayor's office in 1983, or if this is something new - either consulting (not a bad idea with the expansion of the two elementary schools), or a new administrative position.

It must be noted that the current Superintendent, Jim Montepare, was hired by Barrett over the objections of some in the community who took issue with Montepare's DUI arrests.

At the very least, I would hope that Dr. Montepare is very careful how this whole thing proceeds, or he is going to open a huge can of worms.

UPDATE: It seems that simply an inquiry was made regarding a return from a leave, but nothing came of it. As with most things, there is far more to this story than is evident. The question is - what will become public and what deserves to stay private?
Friday, February 05, 2010
  Getting Buchel Right
Chris Marcisz writes the polite, grown-up version of the ramifications to MoCA and to the art world at-large from the tantrum that is the artist formerly known as Buchel:
I think a depressing majority of Americans would agree contemporary art is a small and increasingly irrelevant group of rich people and their hangers-on amusing themselves. This is why insitutions like Mass MoCA, with its anti-snooty approach and educational programs for kids, is a critically important institution. It does its work with a very small budget, a very small and dedicated staff, and in no way deserves the kind of abuse it has taken in this B├╝chel nonsense. If the points he is making are so damn important, the decent thing to do would be to screw around with the Guggenheim or some other well-funded money-pile. In this case, there is a real confusion about who is David and who is Goliath.
It's a very good short piece that deserves to be in the Times Union or even, God-forbid, The NYTimes arts page, rather than relegated to a blog post.

My commentary is far more blog worthy - The artist formerly known as Buchel is a petulant piece of crap who has less integrity than Tiger Woods in a brothel.*

UPDATE: John Mitchell finds a nail to hit squarely on the head as well.

*The phrase "The artist formerly known as Buchel is a petulant piece of crap who has less integrity than Tiger Woods in a brothel." is a copyrighted and trademarked piece of linguistic art protected by federal law that cannot be used or modified with tarps by anyone who wears black turtlenecks, speaks German, has a fetish for airplane fuselages, or has ever brought suit against a museum located in the smallest city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
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

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