Sunday, April 03, 2005

Topic: Political bias or balance at The Berkshire Eagle?

Is The Berkshire Eagle politically biased or politically balanced in its editorial pages and news coverage?
If it is biased, what type of bias does it exhibit, how much of one, and does that bias infect news coverage as well as editorials?
What changes would you make at The Eagle in order to make it a better, more insightful newspaper?
Your Feedback:

17 Comments:

Blogger jonathan said...

YES! The Berkshire Eagle is biased. My examples include its support for gay marriage, John Kerry, Shannon O'Brien, the state and local political establishment, such as N.A. Mayor John Barrett and state Senator Nuciforo. I concur with many of the positions that the Eagle takes, but I dissent against their socially liberal bias in reporting the news.

Saturday, May 21, 2005 6:51:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

June 13, 2005

Dear Berkshire B-Eagle!

I have long read your editorials, and, in fact, concur more than dissent with them. HOWEVER, you keep toeing the line from high by the bureaucratic state government--the overseers of THE BIG DIG--that local governments should be consolidated and therefore become more efficient. MOREOVER, Pittsfield Mayor Jim Ruberto is also into creating efficiencies on a small scale to serve the designs of the state government--overseers of THE BIG DIG! Over and over again, your editorials ALWAYS miss the point. The state government--overseers of THE BIG DIG--are dictating efficiency initiatives to their political subdivisions, i.e. cities, in order for the state Legislators to justify cutting their funding to local institutions and programs, meanwhile diverting this money to THE BIG DIG!

The Berkshire B(minus)Eagle seems to be able to see through the doublespeak of the Bush Administration's policies, but is snowed in by past and current Massachusetts Governors and state Legislators such as Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. and Daniel E. Bosley. In all of the over 28 years I was a lifelong resident of Berkshire County, I never heard Nuciforo, Bosley or the like take any real issue with THE BIG DIG. However, when it came time for the state to consolidate the functions of county government into their state bureaucracies, both Nuciforo and Bosley yelled and screamed the loudest.

Doesn't Mayor Ruberto, et al, get it? It is the economy of scale that needs to be build, not the consolidation of small scale jobs or agencies. The savings that the B-Eagle and Ruberto think they will be keeping in the city's coffers are MARGINAL amounts of money that won't carry over to the long-term. Moreover, new costs will always come up.

MAYOR RUBERTO & The Berkshire B-Eagle: If you want to create economic efficiencies, build the economy of scale. How would you do this? O.K. HERE I GO AGAIN: TELL THE POWER BROKERS IN BOSTON & WASHINGTON, D.C. TO RAISE THE REVENUES AND RESTORE REAL FUNDING FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT. Stop the Bush tax cuts! Stop THE BIG DIG! Stop all of the nonsense going on in state and national government. Put money back into public education and socially just programs. Create a more productive work force by having a more educated and healthy society of working people.

I am in dismay over the blindness of the third-rate newspaper I call The Berkshire B-Eagle! I am also very upset by the complicity of politicians such as Mayor Ruberto, whom I am a friend and supporter of, to listen to their garbage, which should be thrown out, as the B-Eagle always throws out my letters to them.

Sincerely,
Jonathan

THE BERKSHIRE B-EAGLE

Logical place for EMA

Pittsfield Emergency Management Agency Director Thomas Grizey is going into retirement with something less than good feeling for the city he has served for 29 years. Mayor Ruberto's decision to bring the EMA under control of the Fire Department, however, isn't personal, it's just good sense. The mayor is following the recommendation of the City Council's Public Health and Safety subcommittee, and as the city looks to consolidate some of its board and agencies and make the bureaucracy more efficient, emergency services is being given a logical home.

Monday, June 13, 2005 9:29:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...

NOTE: PLEASE PUBLISH MY LETTERS!

July 07, 2005

Re: My dissent against the third-rate Berkshire B-Eagle

Dear Berkshire B-Eagle:

Re “End of a needless court case” (Eagle Editorial, 7/7/05): The Berkshire B-Eagle is way off-base for criticizing Christy Mihos for standing up to Jane Swift’s heavy-handed rule and mismanagement of the “Big Dig.” Because the government serves the people, not the other way around, in a free country—something the B-Eagle has no intention of honoring among its readers (as they blacklist not only my letters from being published, but also many other political activists’ letters as well), Swift was forced--out of her standard principle, POLITICAL EXPEDIENCY--to settle Christy Mihos’ civil lawsuit against her. Had Swift not settled the civil lawsuit, she would have had to testify under oath to her horrendous mismanagement of the “Big Dig.” As was reported much more in the Boston news media than in Western Massachusetts’ much more tightly controlled news media, the 400+ “Big Dig” water leaks were a known reality during Jane Swift’s failed tenure as Acting-Governor of Massachusetts. This is an important issue because these leaks and the concomitant cover-up could have caused disasters and cost valuable human lives had the “Big Dig” gave way to the submersion of water. Moreover, this issue may most likely still cost the state and federal taxpayers even more money than the already $14.85 Billion “Big Dig” ever rising price tag—the most expensive public works project since the days of the Bill Weld Administration of the mid-1990’s. Don’t be fooled, Berkshire B-Eagle and other Jane Swift supporters, Jane Swift settled this lawsuit and put the burden of the court costs on the state taxpayers only to save her own skin. Once again, I prove my point that the Berkshire B-Eagle is a third-rate newspaper!

Sincerely,

Jonathan A. Melle

The Berkshire B-Eagle, July 7, 2005, Editorial, End of a needless court case

The four-year old dispute between former acting Governor Jane Swift and former Turnpike Authority board member Christy Mihos was a standard issue political brawl and had no business dragging on in court as it did. Fired by Ms. Swift for voting to postpone a toll hike, Mr. Mihos was reinstated by the state Supreme Judicial Court, which should have ended the matter, but Mr. Mihos continued to pursue Ms. Swift in U.S. District Court on the grounds that his free speech rights were violated in some fashion. A settlement has been reached in which Mr. Mihos will receive just under $200,000, to be paid by the state's taxpayers. Mr. Mihos, who was perhaps the first public official to blow the whistle on the Big Dig boondoggle, did good work on the Turnpike Authority and is considering a run for the Senate seat held by John Kerry in 2008. His pursuit of a court case that cost the state money not only for his settlement but for Ms. Swift's legal fees may not win him many friends among voters.

NOTE TO THE THIRD RATE BERKSHIRE B-EAGLE:

PLEASE PUBLISH MY LETTERS!

Thursday, July 07, 2005 9:17:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear Berkshire Bloggers,

Re: "NARH Faces Harsh Realities" (Eagle Editorial, 9/1/05): The answer is not an academic spreadsheet producing shiny surpluses instead of the real spreadsheet producing ugly losses. The Eagle has for at least a decade relied on economic efficiency as their answer to all of the Berkshires' public policy issues. I have always and still find this to be quite myopic and out of place for Massachusetts' 2nd most rural county (behind Franklin County).

Economic efficiency is produced be the mythological supply curve meeting the manipulated demand curve where there are no excesses or "waste." Ergo, the fastest route between point A and point B is a straight line. The Eagle's "straight line answer" fails to take into account issues such as ETHICS, Compassion, Community, Humanity, EQUITY, Justice, and the like. The Eagle wants federal, state and local officials to cut a straight line across all interests so that Pittsfield and beyond will have the OPTIMAL bang for their buck.

There are more interests than economic efficiency to public policy. I have named a few of them in the paragraph above. As healthcare and small scale hospitals such as NARH fall victim to insolvency, the answer is not to cut a straight line through quality healthcare in order to deliver medical services to patients. Such a solution is akin to burning down your kitchen to cook your steak instead of using the oven. If NARH cuts too straight of a line then both the medical providers and the patients will suffer at the hands of ineffective healthcare.

Although I have a Master's Degree in the field of public administration, I do not appreciate the corporate calls for economic efficiency to solve the world's problems. As I stated previously, I find the efficiency argument to be myopic and out of place, especially for rural Berkshire County!

Sincerely,

Jonathan A. Melle

Thursday, September 01, 2005 9:31:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Ginsburg, readers deserved better
Letters

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

To the Editor of THE EAGLE:-

I am embarrassed and disappointed by the lack of depth in The Eagle's reporting of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's talk as part of the Dowmel Foundation's lecture series.

Had your reporter continued his Google search or listened more
closely, he would have informed your readers that this talk was more than international law jargon. They would have learned that Justice Ginsburg believes it is relevant to learn how and why other country's justices decide such matters as the execution of a mentally incapacitated individual or of a convict who committed a crime before turning 18. At the lecture, we learned that this approach has promoted controversy with her conservative fellow justices and that resolutions have been introduced in both Houses of Congress to severely limit the U.S. justices' consultation of foreign legal thinking.

Had your staff or reporter thoroughly researched the justice's background, you would have understood her commitment to fighting sex-based discrimination and promoting equal rights for women. The point is not if she is the seventh-most powerful woman in the world but that she is one of the most important people of the world. The use of space to describe her attire rather than her thoughtful and reasoned remarks truly denigrated an individual who has had such a profound influence in our country.

Berkshire County deserves better from your paper.

HARRY J. STUART

Great Barrington, Sept. 16, 2005

The writer is trustee of the Dowmel Foundation, which sponsored Justice Ginsburg's appearance through the J. Leo Dowd & Catherine Mellon Dowd Lecture Series.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005 9:19:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...

A throwback to a cruel era
Letters

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

To the Editor of THE EAGLE:-

In reading the article on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Dowmel Foundation lecture of Sept. 16 by Benning W. De La Mater, I was surprised
to see a writing style that was a throwback to the 1950s, which did not do women justice then and surely does not, now.

On two occasions, Mr. De La Mater referred to the Supreme Court Justice's appearance: "Dressed in a pale yellow dress with cappuccino-colored flowers, white stockings and white shoes," and then again, in a more pejorative and demeaning manner, he writes: "With her hair pulled back in the style of Ichabod Crane — her quintessential look — she resembled a disciplinarian." In addition, Mr. De La Mater added further insult to an intelligent, well-thought out lecture by his continuous and unnecessary critiquing in what was a straightforward news story.

And this is on the front page of The Berkshire Eagle about our very distinguished Supreme Court justice whose visit and presentation was an honor to our community. What an insult, what a disgrace.

WENDY A. RABINOWITZ

Pittsfield, Sept. 17, 2005

Wednesday, September 21, 2005 9:22:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...

June 06, 2006

Dear Berkshire Eagle & Berkshire Bloggers:

Re: "Bringing privacy issues home" (The Berkshire Eagle's Editorial, Monday, June 05th, 2006): NUCIFORO DOES NOT STAND FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES! The Berkshire Eagle's aforementioned third-rate Editorial states: "A state Senate resolution sponsored by Pittsfield's Andrea Nuciforo challenging provisions of the Patriot Act must be just one part of the effort by our state and federal legislators to fight this undermining of our rights."

Why is The Berkshire Eagle wrong in Jonathan Alan Melle's eyes? The answer is that I, Jonathan A. Melle, am a political activist, and for my exercising of civil liberties in Pittsfield and the Berkshire County area in 1997 & 1998, I was persecuted by state Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., among others, for speaking out against the state's policies to assume the functions of county governments through abolition and state takeover; while at the same time, the state should have been focused on their most expensive and wasteful public works project in the history of the United States of America: THE BIG DIG!

Nuciforo's unsuccessful attempts to put me in JAIL and my father on the unemployment circuit after he worked in the Courts for over 2-1/2 decades shows that Nuciforo's strong-armed actions--persecuting my father and I for exercising our powers of DISSENT--speak louder than any resolution he has recently sponsored for the reinstatement of our lost civil liberties under the heavy-handed Bush II Administration.

I will tell my story against Nuciforo day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade, and someday, I hope that my story will be told for ETERNITY! This is the true story of how Nuciforo persecuted Jonathan A. Melle for exercising his civil liberties:

Once again, in the Spring of 1998, state Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo II made secret plans with the Pittsfield Police Department to have me arrested if I stopped by his district office. Nuciforo did so without either the Pittsfield Police Department or himself informing myself and/or my family. Nuciforo illegally told the Pittsfield Police Department that I was threatening him, which was a lie. Moreover, Nuciforo failed to apprise the Pittsfield Police Department that he was the one who threatened me on two occassions prior to his false allegations to the Pittsfield Police Department; with a mean look and long stare in the Summer of 1997 at Judge Spina's promotion ceremony reception; and again in the Fall of 1997 at the North Adams Fall Foliage Parade when Nuciforo broke his parade route to get in my face to intimidate me with his then-Aide Sara Hathaway at his side. Nuciforo's real goal was to have had me put in the Berkshire County Jail whereby Sheriff Carmen Massimiano II would have seen to it that his Jailer staff would have tortured me! The City of Pittsfield & the Berkshire County Jail should thank their lucky stars that they did not go through with Nuciforo & Sheriff Massimiano's insidious plans to have me arrested, jailed & tortured. Furthermore, during the Spring of 1998, Nuciforo, again unsuccessfully, tried to get my father fired from his long-standing state job in the Courts through a Kafkaesque Ethics Commission Complaint in Boston.

Once again, I am appalled that, after I have apprised The Berkshire Eagle many times before about Nuciforo's attempt to Jail me after he threatened me on two previous occassions, this third-rate newspaper that gives news journalism a bad name would state in print that Nuciforo is a sincere coordinator and leader for civil liberties. My true story proves both the Eagle and Nuciforo to be WRONG! AND I will always speak my good conscience as long as I live!

Sincerely,

Jonathan A. Melle

Tuesday, June 06, 2006 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Re: What about Nuciforo's conflicts of interest?

Dear Berkshire Eagle:

You (The Berkshire Eagle) state that Arlos should accept decision, but what about State Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.'s conflicts of interest. Nuciforo worked and continues to work for a private Boston Law Firm serving big banks and insurance companies while chairing powerful state Legislative Committees that regulate these same Boston Financial Institutions!

The Eagle is like the State Ethics Commission in that you only pick on the weak Pols while letting the powerful ones free ride the laws we all should be living by, not just a select few!

-Jonathan A. Melle
-----
Arlos must step down from board

Commission rules on conflict of interest

By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff

Thursday, August 31, 2006

PITTSFIELD — A state commission has ordered that the Berkshire Regional Retirement Board remove its treasurer, Peter G. Arlos, for violating the state's conflict-of-interest law.

In May, Arlos agreed to pay $2,200 in restitution to settle allegations that he violated state conflict-of-interest laws by voting in favor of his own pay raise in June 2000.

Arlos, 80, served as county treasurer from 1985 to 2003. That position was abolished when county government was dissolved, but Arlos, who also served 28 years on the Pittsfield City Council, moved into the newly created position of chairman/treasurer of the Berkshire Regional Retirement System in March 2003, a part-time position.

The board oversees the retirement system's more than $88 million in assets. There are roughly 1,200 active employees paying into the system and more than 615 former municipal and county employees drawing pensions.

In a letter dated Aug. 11 to the Berkshire Regional Retirement Board, the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission, or PERAC, said that "no individual who ... has been found by the Ethics Commission or any court to have violated (the conflict of interest law) shall serve or be permitted to serve... as a member... of a board."

PERAC, based in Somerville, provides oversight, guidance, monitoring and regulation of the state's 106 public pension systems.

Cannot legally serve

PERAC has informed the Berkshire board that the Ethics Commission's finding means that Arlos cannot legally continue to serve on the board, and that the members are required to remove him at their next meeting, which takes place this morning at 9.

Retirement board member Gerald S. Doyle Jr. said yesterday that he wasn't sure what action the board would take when it meets this morning. He said some members have indicated that they plan to speak with legal counsel first.

"This isn't a case of anybody doing anything vindictive to Peter Arlos," Doyle said. "It's that PERAC has indicated that he's in violation. If that's the ruling, then we have no choice."

Board member Patricia Carlino, who has spoken with legal counsel, said PERAC requires that the board act immediately.

"It's not where we can wait until the next meeting," she said.

PERAC's executive director, Joseph E. Connarton, said that the commission's regulation applies to anyone whom the Ethics Commission finds violates the state statute.

"It's rarely used," Connarton said. "But it's obviously there to protect the system."

Through his wife, Alma R. Arlos, Peter Arlos said he has appealed PERAC's ruling to the state Division of Administrative Law Appeals, claiming the decision is "contrary to law, in excess of its authority and an abuse of its discretion."

Delay requested

In a letter to the Division of Administrative Law Appeals, Alma Arlos, who is also an attorney, has asked that the board delay the implementation of PERAC's determination until "the issues in this matter are resolved."

In response, the Division of Administrative Law Appeals' first magistrate, Kimberly A. Fletcher, has said that her agency does not have the authority to stay implementation of a decision pending the outcome of an appeal.

However, Fletcher's letter states that, "in an attempt to get this appeal resolved quickly," the division has expedited Arlos' request for a hearing and has scheduled one for Sept. 13 at 1.

In a telephone interview, Alma Arlos said that she and her husband were unaware that PERAC had reached a determination and that the agency had taken "unilateral action" when it made the decision at its last meeting, on July 26.

"PERAC took action on July 26 without informing anybody of this, which seems to me to violate due process," she said.

Carlino said Peter Arlos' decision to appeal PERAC's decision has no bearing on what the Retirement Board is required to do.

"It's not an appeal to us," she said. "It's not between us and Peter. It's between Peter and PERAC. ... We have no authority to grant a stay. We didn't bring this, PERAC did."

Although Arlos agreed to pay restitution in May, settlement with the Ethics Commission wasn't finalized until June 8. The five-page agreement contains 14 "findings of fact" to which both Arlos and the commission agreed.

Those findings include that, on June 21, 2001, when the Berkshire County Regional Retirement Board voted 3-2 to give Arlos a 3 percent raise, Arlos voted with the majority in favor, which resulted in him receiving $1,200 in additional salary from fiscal 2001 to fiscal 2003.
-----

Arlos booted from post

Retirement board seeks replacement

By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff

Friday, September 01, 2006

PITTSFIELD — Peter G. Arlos has been removed as chairman/treasurer of the Berkshire Regional Retirement Board — at least for now.

The move came yesterday as the board's four members declined to grant a stay of a state commission's ruling that requires his removal. The board also voted unanimously to uphold a ruling that it find a replacement for the remainder of Arlos' term within 30 days. His six-year term expires in 2009.

The Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission, or PERAC, ruled on Aug. 11 that the Berkshire board remove the 80-year-old Arlos for violating the state's conflict of interest law. Arlos has appealed that ruling.

On May 23, Arlos had agreed to pay $2,200 in restitution to settle allegations that he violated the state conflict-of-interest law by voting in favor of his own pay raise in June 2000. PERAC provides oversight, guidance, monitoring and regulation of the state's 106 public pension systems.

No authority to stay action

The Berkshire board's attorney, Carol E. Nesson of West Roxbury, informed the board by letter that it does not have the legal authority to stay an action by PERAC that directs it to take a particular action.

In its August letter to the Berkshire Retirement Board, PERAC states that any individual who has been found by the state Ethics Commission or any court to have violated the conflict-of-interest law cannot legally serve as a member of a board.

Arlos, who spent 28 years on the Pittsfield City Council, served as county treasurer from 1985 to 2003. That position was abolished when county government was dissolved. Arlos then moved into the newly created position of chairman/treasurer of the Berkshire Retirement System, a part-time position, in March 2003.

Arlos did not attend yesterday's meeting. But in a letter Executive Officer Sheila LaBarbera, Arlos asked the board to stay any action on PERAC's determination until his appeal can be decided by the state Division of Administrative Law Appeals. A hearing on that appeal is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 13.

His wife, Alma Arlos, told the board yesterday that after reviewing state retirement law, she didn't believe that PERAC had the legal authority to order the Berkshire board to remove one of its members. She said PERAC had made its determination on whether to remove Arlos from the board at a meeting on July 26 that no one was told about until they received written notification two weeks later.

Alma Arlos, who also is a lawyer, asked the board to grant a stay until PERAC's next meeting on Sept. 19 so the matter could be brought forward then. In a letter to Alma Arlos dated Aug. 29, PERAC's Executive Director Joseph E. Connarton stated that only the full commission can grant a stay of its directives.

"The Ethics Commission is simply going by the statute that is on the books," said acting Chairman Peter Menard. "It says that not only can (Arlos) not serve on the Retirement Board, but he can't serve on any board in the state or in the community.

'We have a vacancy'

"Therefore, as I see it, we have a vacancy at the moment," Menard said.

Alma Arlos also said she believed that PERAC's entire regulation did not apply to Arlos because he had agreed to a settlement with the state Ethics Commission.

"The order of the Ethics Commission did not contain a finding," Alma Arlos said. "It was an order based on a settlement. The finding is they dismissed the case."

But board member Michael Ovitt said a section of the disposition agreement between the state Ethics Commission and Arlos states that he admitted to violating the state conflict-of-interest law when he agreed to pay restitution. The agreement also states that Arlos, "also agrees to waive all rights to contest the findings of fact, conclusions of law and terms and conditions" that are contained in the disposition.

Arguments presented

In response, Alma Arlos said her husband admitted that he voted for his own pay raise but never admitted that he violated the state conflict-of-interest law. Later, Alma Arlos acknowledged that the section Ovitt referred to was included in the disposition, but referred the board to the final paragraph, which states that the Ethics Commission has allowed a joint motion with Arlos that accepts the settlement and dismisses the case.

"We're following what we have to follow," said board member Patricia Carlino. "Your argument is not with us. It's with PERAC and the Ethics Committee."

"I think we're going all over the place," said board member Gerald S. Doyle Jr. "The guts of the matter is we have PERAC, the Ethics Committee and our attorney saying we can't grant a stay.

"Whatever happens on the 19th, either Peter will be back or he won't," Doyle said. "As of today, I don't feel that we have the authority to grant a stay."
-----

Arlos should accept decision

A Berkshire Eagle Editorial

Friday, September 01, 2006

Peter and Alma Arlos can parse the state Ethics Commission's decision indefinitely in search of legal loopholes, but the state's conflict-of-interest law is clear, and Mr. Arlos should in good conscience give up his position. As treasurer of the Berkshire Regional Retirement Board, Mr. Arlos agreed to pay $2,200 in restitution to settle allegations that he violated conflict-of-interest laws by voting in favor of his own pay raise in June of 2000. The Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission told the BRRB that under Ethics Commission guidelines, Mr. Arlos can no longer serve as treasurer, and yesterday the board voted to remove him as chairman/treasurer and seek a replacement. Mrs. Arlos, a lawyer, claims the Ethics Commission dismissed the case without a finding, but Mr. Arlos did agree to pay a fine, and he waived his right to contest the ruling. Rather than nitpick the language of the ruling in search of ways to spin it, Mr. Arlos should do what's right and accept the BRRB's decision.
-----

Friday, September 01, 2006 1:27:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear Glenn Drohan, editor, & the North Adams Transcript:

Awesome! I am glad to read that you are giving the many readers of your excellent online newspaper a chance to "SPEAK OUT!"

The only question that I have for you is that I send your distinguished newspaper many letters, and you rarely, if ever, bother to publish any of them. Why not?

Hmmm... It seems a little hypocritical to me for sure.

Yours Very Truly,

Jonathan A. Melle

~Former resident of North Adams, Massachusetts~

------------------------------

Speak out!

TheTranscript dot com

Friday, February 23, 2007

Hold onto your hats and man your mouses and keyboards. The Transcript, in a move designed to give readers more of a voice in the community via our newspaper, is plunging further into the Internet world of the interactive.

Readers who find us on the Web (www dot thetranscript dot com) can now go to the bottom of stories and editorials, click on "comments" and immediately post their reactions. Of course, we recommend reading the stories and editorials first.

Purists may argue against this move, saying it allows naysayers and yahoos to say whatever they want while hiding behind the shield of anonymity. Maybe so, but we believe its value will outweigh that concern and will give people who may not have the time to write letters to the editor a chance to make their opinions known.

And why should we be afraid of anyone's opinion? Numerous Web sites and blogs have had these comment sections for years, and we believe the time is right for our newspaper to enter the 21st century and join them.

We still strongly encourage letters from our readers and believe the comments we receive may actually inspire more, not fewer, of them. We also encourage anyone posting comments to leave their names. They also have the option to leave their e-mail addresses, but those addresses will not appear in the comments that are published.

A word of caution: Those who post vulgar or potentially libelous comments will be banned from posting further comments. We ask for readers' assistance in reporting such posts as soon as they see them to Glenn Drohan, editor, gdrohan at thetranscript dot com. We do not want to be in the business of censorship, but neither do we want to abandon common sense and decency.

We believe this new feature will provide a lively forum for discussion of important topics and give our readers a chance to rebut our editorials (who says we're always right?) or to provide more information or different points of views for our news stories. News tips and suggestions for follow-up stories are certainly welcome.

Comments can now be left at the end of all editorials and sports stories and all news stories found on our Web site under "Headlines" and "Local News." Simply scroll to the end of each article, click on "Comments" and have at it. The same service is available at our sister newspaper, The Berkshire Eagle. If enough readers ask, we may expand the comments to other sections of the newspaper.

It will be up to our readers to make this experiment a success. We hope they will start today by letting us know what they think. In fact, if you are reading this online, why not post your reaction right now? If you are not reading us online, we thank you for your loyalty to the printed newspaper (long may it live) but hope you will enhance your experience by checking us out online at your earliest convenience.

As always, we welcome your opinion. And now you have another option for making it known.

------------------------------

Friday, February 23, 2007 3:05:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Dear Glenn & N.A. Transcript,

I really loved your newspaper when I lived in North Adams from July, 1997 through August, 1998, while I also attended UMass Amherst from the Fall of 1997 through the Spring of 1998, too. Your paper, which I still go online to read, covers the Northern Berkshire and Southern Vermont region very professionally and goes into the real needs of the people and communities living there. I am happy to read that Glenn Drohan is now the Editor of The North Adams Transcript.

Glenn, you amaze me when you target only me for "libelous, half-cocked or WAY TOO LONG..." letters. Look around you, man!

Too give illustrative examples:

1) DENIS E. GUYER! He has done nothing but incite violence against me and my family through his illegal slandering of me throughout the Pittsfield area for over 2+ years. I have documented his violence and slander as it happened against me to The North Adams Transcript, et al, but I guess to GLENN DROHAN I am the bad guy, not Guyer. So, Why is not Gold-Digger Guyer in your target, too?

2) Luciforo! He strong armed two Pittsfield woman out of a state "election" in the Spring of 2006, among other issues of his illegal political corruption in Massachusetts State Government politics. So, Why is not Luciforo in your target, too?

3) Mayor Barrett! North Adams' public schools are among the worst performing schools in the state and nation. How long has Barrett been Mayor? Who is accountable for these poorly performing public schools? Moreover, what about the city's water pollution that disables the brain development of the city's local children? What is going to happen to North Adams' troubled water supply system a couple decades after John Barrett III finally steps down from his post? It all fits: (a) poorly performing public schools, and (b) an ever growing problem of a polluted water supply. So, Why is not Barrett in your target, too?

4) Dan "Bureaucrat" Bosley! He only supports perverse incentives in public policies that only benefit his campaign account fiscal coffers, the municipal government's fiscal coffers, and the state government's fiscal coffers. Time and time again, I call Bosley on his perversities in public policies, while everyone else takes him at face value. Bureaucrat Bosley's most famous moment: Voting for Clean Elections before voting to terminate this campaign finance reform program attached as a rider to the FY04 state budget in order to prove his loyalty to the dictatorial, top-down former-Speaker and current Felon, Tommy "Taxes" Finneran! So, why is not Bosley in your target, too?

5) Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr.! He always talks about the limited fiscal constraints of Pittsfield's municipal government, and even stood by the "Good Old Boy" Mayor Jimmy Ruberto's proposal to disincentivize Pittsfield's retention and attraction of quality public school teachers by cutting their compensation. THEN, Luciforo, et al, voted Carmen a 21% pay raise, despite the fact that this corrupt Berkshire County Sheriff already makes about 3x the amount of a starting teacher. Moreover, Carmen had no comment on his own pay raise. So, Why is not Carmen in your target, too.

6) Deval-uator Laurdine Patrick! He wanted to buy off the Massachusetts Legislature's Committee Chairs and Ranking members with "Leadership Pay Raises" IF they rubber stamped his legislative agenda to consolidate most powers under the Governor. Moreover, the Massachusetts Legislature already received a pay raise this year. So, why is not Governor Patrick in your target?

7) Stan Rosenberg! He took a trip to Russia while a good number of state employees lost their livelihoods because some of the state's legislative budget business went undone. Moreover, Rosenberg supports limiting grassroots power via the initiative petition or state referendum process. On top of that, like Luciforo and Bureaucrat Bosley, Rosenberg supported 3 straight years of state aid cuts to the cities and towns while either voting for or supporting 3 consecutive pay raises from FY02 - FY04. So, why is not Western Massachusetts' future Congressman not in your target, too?

8) Mayor Jim Ruberto! He promised to change Pittsfield for the better, including the best public schools in the commonwealth. Look at the outcomes of over 3 years of his poor leadership. Teen pregnancy rates have never been higher in Pittsfield than last year's startling high numbers that double the statewide average. Pittsfield Public Schools have never performed worse than last year's dismal numbers. Welfare caseloads are up, while job retention and growth are down. Moreover, he has been criticized for promoting the special interests of Pittsfield's power broker groups instead of the grassroots needs of the residents he shuts out of his municipal government. So, why is not Pittsfield worst Mayor since Gerry Doyle not in your target, too?

9) Chris Speranzo! Here is a man who is ten times, if not more, smarter than myself, and much more accomplished, too. Despite his promise, as I think he would make the best future Congressman out of the whole bunch of otherwise lousy Pols, he sold out to the "Good Old Boy Network." When Peter J. Larkin stepped down from his state Representative post in the early Winter of 2005, Speranzo had the inside position to be anointed instead of "elected" to this political position. Again, like in "Luciforo's" 2006 state "election", two women candidates were marginalized by a few male-dominated insiders who chose Speranzo to replace Larkin. So, Why is not Chris Speranzo in your target, too?

10) Smitty Pignatelli! Last but not least, Smitty Pignatelli has demonstrably proven himself to be an insider instead of a grassroots leader for Berkshire County on Beacon Hill. Your newspaper, THE TRANSCRIPT, had news articles quoting him on his praise for former-Speaker Finneran's closed door, OR non-Sunshine/open meeting, legislative sesssions. Not only was Pignatelli's first act as a state Legislator to vote for Tommy "Taxes" Finneran for his next consecutive term as Speaker of the House of Representatives, but also, Pignatelli praised Finneran's closed door management style in THE NORTH ADAMS TRANSCRIPT! While I believe Pignatelli is a good man and not as vicious as the rest of the aforementioned list of power brokers, he sure places political power way above political grassroots representation. So, Why is not Pignatelli in your target, too?

In conclusion, I believe Glenn Drohan and The North Adams Transcript do a good job in reporting the news, but they also use a sharp double standard in characterizing only me against a whole group of political insider who have proven to be (a) violent and slanderous, (b) strong-armed and corrupt, (c) poor performers who produce negative societal outcomes, (d) poor environmental leaders who neglect long-term solutions to serious pollution problems, (e) sees the political system through inequity and perverse economic incentives, and supports top-down, dictatorial state and local "leaders", (f) comments on public teachers' pay and compensation, while having no comment on their own excessive pay raise, (g) proposes buying of an entire state legislative body via the second of two pay raises in 2007 in exchange for the legislative rubber stamping his own power grab to consolidate executive power, (h) takes a junket to Russia while state employees take pink slips, and wants to limit grassroots political power in favor of insider control, (i) makes false promises he never has any intention of fulfilling in order to oust a sitting Mayor (Sara Hathaway, who was 3 years later strong-armed of the 2006 Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds state "election" by "Luciforo"), and produces communal outcomes that have negative societal impacts and only benefits a very narrow constituency of special interests, (j) proves himself to be the ultimate insider instead of the intelligent and promising leader he should be in order to serve only the narrow interests of the "Good Old Boy Network", and (k) supporter of closed door legislative governance and top-down, dictatorial legislative leaders who only support special interests.

Well, Glenn Drohan and The North Adams Transcript: I have sure proved your hypothesis of me being "libelous, half-cocked or WAY TOO LONG..." to be a myopic double standard. Like I have written to you guys many times before when you toe the political machine line against Mitt Romney not visiting the Northern Berkshire region once in his 4 years of being Massachusetts Governor, or my slams and diatribes, and the like, TAKE A LOOK AROUND, MAN! Take another read on my criticisms of Gold-Digger Guyer, Luciforo, Mayor Barrett, Bureaucrat Bosley, Carmen, the Deval-uator, Stan "The Inside Man", Jimmy Ruberto, Speranzo, and Smitty. After you have fairly evaluated what I had to say against the political machine and power brokers in my writings, then comparatively come back to me with the same criticisms you have written against me. If the standard is fair, then I will accept "the truth", but if The Transcript's standards are the same double standard that so many Berkshirites, past, present and future, are coerced into living with, then I will DISSENT against your biases in news journalism for as long as I live!

Thank you, Glenn Drohan and The North Adams Transcript!

-Jonathan A. Melle

"News at thetranscript dot com wrote:

Dear Jonathan,

We have published your letters on occasion when they are not libelous, half-cocked or WAY TOO LONG LONG, LONG. We are in fact the only newspaper I know of that has published your letters (except The Advocate when I was editor). Also, you tend to send out an inordinate amount of letters. There is a limit. Certainly, as a former resident, your opinions are welcome here. Libel, half-baked slams and lengthy diatribes are not.

Thanks,

Glenn

Saturday, February 24, 2007 2:04:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Dear Glenn Drohan, The North Adams Transcript, News Media, Politicians, & the People:

Re: "More sensible than windmills" (The North Adams Online - Editorial, 4/23/2007): The Transcript states: Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray message focused on broadband Internet service during his visit to North Adams, but he stopped short of promising the estimated $20 million necessary to accomplish getting broadband Internet service to all rural communities in Western Massachusetts, but that he and Governor Deval Patrick are drafting a bond bill to implement this needed project.

What bothers me about The Transcript's logic is that Governor Deval Patrick's FY2008 state budget proposal is what is most pertinent to Western Massachusetts, not the complement of broadband Internet service that will primarily benefit the business community instead of the people. State Representative Daniel E. Bosley (a.k.a. Bureaucrat Bosley) and his fellow Legislative hacks are once again screwing the cities and towns out of many millions of state dollars for any and all public services by rejecting Governor Deval Patrick's proposal to find real funding sources and not one time financing gimmicks to close the estimated $1 Billion state budget deficit.

Don't you get it, Glenn Drohan & The Transcript: WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS NEEDS STATE AID TO PROVIDE THE OPTIMAL LEVEL OF PUBLIC SERVICES TO THE PEOPLE. Bureacrat Bosley, et al, have been dramatically cutting state aid to cities and towns (since the FY2002 state budget) while turning around and giving the money to SPECIAL INTERESTS! Bureaucrat Bosley has even come out against Governor Patrick's proposal to cut special interest tax loopholes to big businesses, corporations, and the like.

HERE IS HOW "THE SYSTEM" Works & here is how bureaucrats like Bosley SCAMS "the system":

(a) The Federal Government provides each state government with many BILLIONS of DOLLARS for the states to ADMINISTER and complement state funding to. From EDUCATION, to ROADS & BRIDGES, to HEALTHCARE, to ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, to HOUSING, to PUBLIC SAFETY, and on and on.

(b) The germane STATE GOVERNMENT then receives the federal dollars, which make up about 2/3 of that state's budget, and comes up with about 1/3 of state revenues to complement the federal grants for public services. In receiving this federal money, the states must be in compliance with a myriad of federal overly bureaucratic rules, regulations and procedures.

(c) The state's obligation is to take a small piece of the federal money and use it for administrative costs. While the federal government grants the money for public services, the state must administer the federal money to provide those services. Some of the federal money goes to state programs, and some of the federal money goes to local programs.

NOTE: So when the state is providing state aid to cities and towns, it has no choice in the matter. If the state wants the BILLIONS of Federal Dollars, the state is mandated to give some of the money to the municipalities for federally funded, state administered, locally controlled public services.

(d) Bureaucrats like Bosley then SCAM "the system" by representing political power and special interests, not the people! State governments take the BILLIONS in Federal Funding and only meet the minimal regulatory requirements of providing public services to the state, and especially the cities and towns. Bureaucrat Bosley collects MANY THOUSANDS of SPECIAL INTEREST DOLLARS every single year from wealthy corporations, big businesses, lobbyist firms, and the like, to make tax loopholes for these entities who fill his campaign coffers with lots of blood money. In order for Bureaucrat Bosley to be in the position of receiving special interest dollars, he has to support and give loyalty to top-down political leaders like TOM FINNERAN & SAL DiMASI, et al. They keep Bureaucrat Bosley in powerful committee seats so he can wheel and deal.

(e) The end result is "the system" provides funding for public services, but the politicians who run the system SCAM "the system" by taking that funding and giving it away to SPECIAL INTERESTS!

CASE IN POINT: Governor Deval Patrick proposed real state funding sources to pass the FY2008 Massachusetts State Budget. Bureaucrat Bosley, et al, came out against those real funding sources, especially the governor's proposal to take away hundreds of millions of dollars in special interest tax breaks to already wealthy corporations, and, on top of that, Bureaucrat Bosley, et al, proposed deep funding cuts into a myriad of state and local programs that provide quality public services to the people!

In closing, I dissent against the focus of The North Adams Transcript and the easy treatment of Bureaucrat Bosley's reprehensible and terrible public policy record of screwing the people, cities and towns he represents in order for him to represent the special interests and get away with SCAMMING "the system." Unlike Bureaucrat Bosley, I do NOT believe that one man's leftovers is another man's dinner! I believe in equity, and the focus of The Transcript should be to hold BUREAUCRAT BOSLEY, et al, into strong account for their inequitable proposal for the FY2008 Massachusetts state budget that only and once again benefits the special interests, not the people!

I WILL ALWAYS SPEAK MY GOOD CONSCIENCE AS LONG AS I LIVE!

In Truth,

Jonathan A. Melle

Monday, April 23, 2007 3:18:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Dear Berkshire Eagle, Bill Everhart:

Re: "Crunching numbers in Pittsfield" (A Berkshire Eagle Editorial, 5/30/2007): I strongly write my dissent against the following statement by the Editors of the Eagle: "Under state control, incidents like the removal of Berkshire retirement board member Peter Arlos at the direction of the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission after he voted in favor of his own pay raise would be far less likely to occur."

THE BACK STORY

My dad was a Berkshire County Commissioner who served with Peter Arlos, who was the Berkshire County Treasurer. Both men were victims of the Kafka-esque Massachusetts State Ethics Commission. During the Spring of 1998, a complaint was filed against my dad for speaking out on the issue of the state's obligation to pay its fair share of Court House rent to the then Berkshire County Government. I read the all of the State Ethics documents that were faxed to my dad and at issue was one news article published in the North Adams Transcript newspaper in the Fall of 1997 quoting my dad on the public issue of Court House rent. The State Ethics Commission stated that while they granted my dad permission to run for elected office, he had restricted constraints on his speech regarding the state since he worked for the state government. Because the State Trial Court Chief Justice was the Administrative Officer for the State's Courthouse System, including rent payments to the County Governments, and my dad worked under his authority for the state government, my dad's speech was alleged to have been insuboridinate. Fortunately for my dad and my family, (now retired) Judge Barbalunga advocated for my dad's constitutionally protected freedom of speech and ruled that my dad could keep his long-standing job with the state. Judge Barbalunga stood up to some powerful, corrupted politicians and interests to help my dad and my family from being ruined.

Moreover, during the same time period, during the Spring of 1998, then State Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. set up secret plans with the Pittsfield Police Department to have me arrested under the false pretenses that I was threatening him for opposing my dad's political positions. While, in fact, it was Luciforo who was the one to have previously threatened me twice in two separate incidences, Luciforo wanted to not only see my dad lose his job and financial security, but also for my dad to see his son (me) rot behind the bars of the Berkshire County Jail at the hands of Luciforo's "Good Old Boy Network" political buddy Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr., the long-standing Berkshire County Sheriff. As an aside, upon moving from the beautiful Berkshires to Southern New Hampshire, Carmen Massimiano warned me to not tell on Luciforo and himself for what they had planned to do to me during the Pittsfield Political Machine's persecution of my dad and his family for opposing the special interest demands of the Good Old Boy Network.

In retaliation for my true stories about the political persecution of Luciforo and Massimiano, Denis E. Guyer made it his personal mission in life to destroy my reputation by spreading vicious, slanderous and hurtful rumors against me to the good people of the Pittsfield area while leaving out the rest of the story. Denis E. Guyer is the opposite of my dad, who is a good man and used his political power to help people instead of slander them. Denis E. Guyer is a GOLDDIGGER because he married Allison Crane of Crane & Company only for her money, not for love. Denis E. Guyer is now part of the Pittsfield Political Machine ran by the Good Old Boys' Network, and he will be guaranteed money from the Cranes and power from the special interests. But like Luciforo and Massimiano, Guyer will always have the strongest of my political opposition -- and I will always speak my good conscience as long as I live!

While Peter Arlos was once my friend, I no longer consider him to be so after he said to me that he opposed President Bush II's ordering me a hearing before the VA system to be ruled eligible for Veterans Disability Benefits after I disobeyed illegal orders in the U.S. Army in order to protect human lives. Arlos only saw me benefiting from my honorable military service, not the sacrifices I made to protect the sanctity of human lives. I am a good man, and when people see me as otherwise then I no longer consider them my friend -- and that goes for Peter Arlos too.

THE TRUTH ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO PETER G. ARLOS!

While living in Southern New Hampshire, I have followed the parallel State Ethics charges filed against my dad's former colleague, Peter Arlos. Like my dad, Arlos defied the oligarchy and spoke out against the state's foul treatment of county governments during the 1990s. Like me, Arlos believed in freedom and free speech, and like both my dad and I, the special interest state and local politicians got even with Arlos through political persecution. The error Arlos made by voting for his own pay raise could have and should have been handled in a private way, but it was the point of the top-down state and local governments to publicly punish him via news articles in the Eagle.

I find my experience with Berkshire County politics to be very interesting because I graduated cum laude with a Bachelors Arts degree in political science and peace studies during this same time period. I then went onto study public administration at U Mass Amherst, receiving a Master's Degree in May of 1999. Graduating with honors and then successfully receiving my graduate degree was in sharp contrast to the political reality one faces when participating and dealing with one's own government. In theory, democratic institutions are there to protect the common citizen from political persecutions. But in reality, these institutions are there to persecute the common citizen to profit the special interests of the career politicians or the oligarchy.

I have had it with The Berkshire Eagle's myopic Editorials that make some politicians look good when they are corrupted, while others are made to look bad and treated like the scapegoats of the same system that has politically persecuted them. (I also think of all of the great work Rinaldo Del Gallo III has done for Pittsfield, and even the Orwellian Alan Chartock joined the Eagle in criticizing him.)

Just look at the terrible picture Luciforo, Massimiano and Guyer have painted of me. Here I am, a common citizen who has done nothing other than good deeds in my life -- even recognized by the sitting president for protecting human lives -- BUT IN PITTSFIELD I AM STILL NOTHING MORE THAN TARGET PRACTICE FOR THE OLIGARCHY's POLITICAL PERSECUTIONS. Somethings wrong with this picture, Berkshire Eagle Editors. The truth hurts, but it will set you free, too. Stop scapegoating people like Peter Arlos and start addressing the real and many problems facing both Pittsfield and the entire Berkshire region.

In Truth,

Jonathan A. Melle

Wednesday, May 30, 2007 5:22:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

RE: The Boston Globe's MYOPIC political cartoon blaming only China for Africa's latest Genocide

Dear Boston Globe Editors:

I have done much research on HUMAN RIGHTS and its opposite: Genocide. I have studied genocides and how and why they occur. Your political cartoon blaming China for Africa's latest genocide in the Darfur province of Sudan, Africa is MYOPIC because it is superficial and lacks historical context. The real root causes of violence in Africa was European Colonialism, which was the cause of World War I, which then gave rise to Adolf Hitler and his racist and violent Nazi Party, which committed genocide against over 6 million innocent Jewish people and millions of others. European Colonialism of Africa brought cultural divisions to the tribal but diverse continent of Africa. The cultural, social and economic exploitation of Africa's tribal but diverse peoples are most to blame for the genocides of Rwanda and Burundi in the mid-1990s, Darfur in the middle of our current decade, among other crimes against humanity. China is a political state with no recognition of HUMAN RIGHTS and therefore chooses to profit off of Africa's divided political theater, including the continuation of the genocide in Darfur. China is wrong for supporting the regime of Omar Al-Bashir, but it is MYOPIC to not point the finger at the evils borne out of European Colonialsim, which is most to blame for Africa's myriad of social problems. Why is the global economy so inequitable anyway? With investments and compassion, the World is able to end human suffering. Let us begin NOW!

In Truth,

Jonathan A. Melle
Future President of the United States of America!

Friday, June 01, 2007 3:04:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

NOTE: The Boston Globe rejects all of my emails as of 6/11/2007. I do not know why this is so. If it is for political differences, then the Globe has shown themselves to be a closed-minded rag. If it is for legal or technical reasons, then I hope to find out the Globe's reasoning or error.

-Jonathan A. Melle
6/12/2007

Tuesday, June 12, 2007 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Dear Berkshire Eagle Editors:

Despite your continued blackout of my letters, I continue to write about my thoughts on political operators, events, and ideas. Your editorial most recent editorial on the matter fails to explain the central focus of why State Government "Leaders" from Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to State Treasurer Tim Cahill to State Representative Dan Bosley are dragging their collective feet on this behaviorally degenerative gambling project.

To explain an issue, one needs to be clear on what the issue is. In order for an explanation of an issue to be understood, one needs to illustrate how the issue applies to the real World -- or from theory to practice. Once an issue is explained and illustrated, the audience is expected to comprehend the matter which needs either consent or rejection. In such cases, it is a good idea to provide clear choices to the decision making audience. Upon a decision, it is a good idea to provide input on the implementation of the project so that its intent remains true to its original calling. Upon administration of the project, it is good to have oversight, checks and balances, and evaluative measures to ensure safety, health, sound socioeconomic welfare outcomes, and socioeconomic justice, ethics and morality.

To explain the issue of gambling, it is a process where people place a portion of the income at a high level of risk for a high level or reward, but usually lose a percentage of their income to the vendor. To illustrate, a working poor gambler will be induced to play the lottery to assist himself in paying his bills. There is a clear incentive for a poor person to play the lottery because he has more liabilities (financial obligations: debts) than income, savings, and the like to pay for his debts. Playing the lottery is a short-term psychological way out of one's anxieties for a poor person, but a long-term form of regressive taxation for the state or regressive revenue stream for a private gambling enterprise. Regressive taxes and fees don't have the same negative impacts on people who are not poor. To comprehend the issue, gambling is a business ran by both the state and private sector that negatively impacts the poor at the collective financial gain of the rich. The clear choices are either end all forms of gambling enterprises or allow all forms of gambling enterprises. The reason for the clear choice is that state lotteries have the same negative socioeconomic impacts on the poor as do private casinos! In the implentation of the issue, the decision makers need to receive input from the people most impacted by the project. If a state lottery takes money away from a casino and vice versa, it is a good idea to allow poor gamblers to have a say on which way they are going to complement the artificially low taxes on rich taxpayers or wealthy corporate businesses. If gambling stands as a regressive revenue source for the state and/or businesses, it is a good idea for the system to have oversight, checks and balances, and the like, so that the administration of :taxing the poor for the collective benefit of the rich" ensures its yearly profit goals so that rich people will continue to be able to pay artificially low personal and business tax rates.

THE ONLY REASON WHY THE COMMONWEALTH DOES NOT FULLY SUPPORT CASINO GAMBLING IS BECAUSE THEY DO NOT WANT IT TO CUT INTO ITS MONOPOLY CONTROLLED YEARLY STATE LOTTERY REVENUES. THE STATE "LEADERS" -- including Dan "Bureaucrat" Bosley -- WANTS TO MAXIMIZE ITS REGRESSIVE TAXATION REVENUES BECAUSE IT KEEPS PROGRESSIVE TAXATION REVENUES ARTIFICIALLY LOW. BY KEEPING TAXES ARTIFICALLY LOW FOR RICH PEOPLE AND WEALTH CORPORATE BUSINESSES, THE STATE POLITICIANS RECEIVE HIGHER CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS, AND HIGH NUMBERS OF VOTES FROM THE LARGEST DEMOGRAPHIC THAT INFLUENCES THE DEMOCRATIC ELECTORAL PROECESS: THE RICH / THE CORPORATE ELITE.

If private casinos guaranteed the kind of money the state lottery guarantees for the state's fiscal coffers, then they would all be in full support of casino gambling. The state Pols are NOT advocates for the poor on this issue!

In Truth,

Jonathan A. Melle

-----

No to state casinos

A Berkshire Eagle Editorial

Monday, July 30, 2007

The town of Middleborough, lured by the promise of fool's gold, voted Saturday at a town meeting to sign an agreement with the Wampanoag Indians that will bring the state's first casino to the small southeastern Massachusetts community. Where there is one casino, there assuredly will be a second, along with slot machines at the state's racetracks. That is, of course, unless Governor Patrick and the Legislature nip the state's growing gambling fever in the bud.

The tribe and its developers are promising the town $7 million a year and a 4 percent lodging assessment from a planned hotel, which is chump change compared to what the casino is likely to rake in. In exchange, the town will get traffic congestion, crime and plenty of low-paying jobs. Not a good deal, unless the state saves the town from itself.

The Connecticut towns of Ledyard and Montville, homes to the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos respectively, would have provided an object lesson for Middleborough voters had they looked to the south. A study this month by The Boston Globe found that calls reporting crimes and arrests for drunken driving have skyrocketed in both towns over the past six years. Rural roads not built for high volumes of traffic are clogged. The quality of life residents were accustomed to has declined. The casinos have created jobs, though jobs as dealers and in the various service industries required by casinos do not pay well. While Middleborough will get a monthly check for its trouble, along with improvements to some roads, neighboring towns like Plympton and Waterville located on highways that will carry gamblers back and forth from Boston will get traffic and nothing else.

While it may be tempting to let Middleborough live with its decision, it would be unwise. Other branches of the Wampanoags seek casino sites and loose federal regulations enable them to extend their tribal land to property they have purchased, as is the case in Middleborough. Some on Beacon Hill think the state should get into the casino business itself and cut out the tribes and their backers. The Berkshires may be a long shot as a casino location but there is tourist money here, and if one casino becomes reality, the Berkshires may be-come attractive to others looking to follow suit.

The tribal casinos are the product of a terrible federal law of 1988 enabling tribes to conduct the same kind of gambling as is allowed in a state. This opened the door, and the law's stipulation that states could negotiate with tribes about permitting forms of gambling that had been prohibited led to the opening of slot machines in the Connecticut casinos, and the millions began rolling in daily. With the money comes political corruption, as both the Clinton and Bush administrations have been involved in shenanigans involving the recognition of border-line tribes backed by deep-pocketed casino developers and their lobbyists. (The Jack Abramoff scandal was largely about cynical efforts to play one tribe off against another.)

Middleborough and the Wampanoags must still negotiate a contract with the governor, and the law is so vague there are differences of opinion as to whether the state must negotiate or can simply reject the casino. It is generally agreed that the Legislature must approve whatever contract is agreed upon. Disappointingly, Governor Patrick appears receptive to casinos, but the House is thought to be less so, and members can call upon the expertise of North Adams Democrat Dan Bosley, a casino opponent whose views are supported by his considerable research into the issue.

The state's falling lottery revenues highlight the danger of government dependence on the vice industry, an industry that preys on the poor. A casino — and eventually casinos — would dramatically increase this dependence. Beacon Hill must do what it can so Middleborough's folly will not be the state's.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007 3:07:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

8/26/2007

Dear Berkshire Eagle, et al:

Similar to the ignorance of recent state government history by the
Boston Globe, you (The Eagle) have ignorantly revised recent state
government history. The reason why BMC (or BHS) got monopoly power
over MRI and like medical devices was that Pittsfield’s delegates to
Beacon Hill’s State House secretly placed a rider onto the
Massachusetts FY2002 “Thanksgiving 2001” State Budget. The 2
Pittsfield delegates were then-Berkshire State Senator Andrea F.
Nuciforo, Jr. (Luciforo) and the Pittsfield State Representative Peter J. Larkin – 2 pro-business, anti-grassroots, machine-Pols, who both have made respective, lucrative careers for themselves in the private sector that relates to State House politics.

Luciforo had even wrote letters to the private group of doctors who
invested $ into the healthcare industry’s radiological business,
giving them false reassurances that they would be able to open a private
practice to treat people with cancer and like illnesses. All the
while, Luciforo knew that he was working with Larkin to ban them from being able to own the necessary medical equipment—MRIs and the like—to operate said facility.

The commonwealth is supposed to pass an annual budget on or prior to July 1st of every year. In 2001, the budget was not passed by the Legislature until mid-November. Luciforo & Larkin secretly snuck in the law screwing the private medical doctors seeking to start their private practice by giving sole rights in Berkshire County ONLY to BHS to own and operate MRIs and the like medical devices. There were no public hearings, no consideration for medical needs and related issues, and no disclosures to the news media or anyone else about the law.

Acting Governor Jane Swift then went onto sign the FY2002
“Thanksgiving 2001” Budget, and the rest is history. I just wish that the Eagle, similar to the Globe, would get their facts straight when recounting recent past events in State Government history.

Sincerely,

Jonathan A. Melle

--

BMC's big deal

Editorial

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Berkshire Medical Center has won its five-year battle with Berkshire
Radiological Associates, but what matters to Berkshire residents is how they will be affected. The purchase of the radiology clinic by BMC will make for a stronger hospital, which benefits the community, but BMC can become even stronger by addressing the needs that outpatient centers
fill.

The simmering animosity between the administration of Berkshire Health Systems and many of its doctors erupted into view in 2001 when Berkshire Radiological Associates, the city's only group of radiologists, announced plans for a $4.5 million imaging center on North Street in Pittsfield in 2001. After two years of squabbling, and crippled by legislation banning any business other than BMC from
operating an MRI in Berkshire County, the three doctors remaining from the original 11 in the Associates group opened an MRI center in New Lebanon, N.Y., but apparently never succeeded in making the business, with its high overhead, profitable.

At a time when many community hospitals are sinking into a sea of red, Berkshire Medical Center remains profitable. One of the reasons it remains in the black is the determination of BHS administrators to hold
on to its profit-making enterprises, and if it has been aggressive in doing so, the financial health of the hospital is that important to the community. Emergency rooms, for one example, operate at a loss, and if a hospital loses its profitable sections, like radiology, those money-losing operations could turn a good hospital into a poor one, if
not a defunct one.

One way for BHS to protect itself is to take away the arguments for
spin-off outpatient centers. It is understandable that people would
rather go to a quiet, attractive clinic than a bustling hospital for
outpatient treatment, and Berkshire Radiological Associates was designed to serve this need. In 2003, BMC responded by opening a new women's imaging center boasting the attractive qualities of an outpatient center. If the hospital can provide outpatient facilities that are quiet and comfortable and serve patients quickly, it is less likely that doctors will try to break away to their own facilities and less likely that residents will demand those facilities.

We are encouraged by the graciousness both BMC and the Associates demonstrated in announcing the deal, but it is apparent from the article in Saturday's Eagle that the 15 employees of Berkshire
Radiological Associates were caught by surprise by the sale and some fear the hospital will hold a grudge against them. BMC may not be a position to take all of the employees on right away, but we certainly hope the hospital will not hold employment by the Associates group against any qualified job applicant. That would only heighten whatever bad feeling exists.

It is unfortunate that doctors, administrators and patients are so
often at odds with one another in Berkshire County, but this is in
large part because of a cumbersome national health care system that by
definition frustrates all involved parties. That won't change soon, but all involved parties in Berkshire County do need the same thing — a strong, financially sound hospital. This purchase will strengthen BMC, and if BMC can continue to address the needs of patients that outpatient centers are built to serve, the hospital will grow even
stronger.
--

Loss of Associates is loss of choice

Letters

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I was saddened to see that Berkshire Radiological Associates will no longer be able to serve our community. The doctors, staff, and technicians were kind, considerate and sensitive to individuals needs.
The parking was convenient, it was a cheerful atmosphere and always
made you feel welcome and well cared for. I guess the old saying"
"nothing good lasts forever" is true in this case.

We should all have the right to choose what we feel is best for our
medical needs. That has been taken away as well. We will miss you
Berkshire Radiological, a job well done!

MARY (MOLLY) RICCHI

Pittsfield

--

BHS deal is win, not a mandate

Letters

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The recent deal between Berkshire Health Systems and Berkshire
Radiological Associates highlights the Scylla and Charybdis of 21st
century health care delivery. If we are to transform from the
inefficient, redundant, competitive system we dragged with us from the 20th century to single-payer universal coverage, we need to dismantle the strategies and tactics upon which the old system was based.

On the one hand, duplication of services by doctors hoping to take the cream from the top of the barrel needs to be stopped. BHS recently opposed just such an orthopedic surgery facility in Lenox. Protecting the hospital's profit-making enterprises from opportunistic doctors is indeed in the community's best interest.

But, do we want our future universal single-payer health care system to be a profit-making business? Do we want our local health care system to provide profitable health care services for no other reason but that they are profitable? Is some profitable health care better delivered elsewhere? Does our current system assist those who wish to go elsewhere, if for no other reason than consumer choice, or does it consider those who go elsewhere profit lost?

Sometimes doctors provide services that are profitable and also
extremely beneficial to the patients. Our local oncologists provide such a service that I have had personal experience with and recommend highly. It would be a travesty for BHS to exert the same crushing political clout to grab this share of the pie.

Our future system will depend heavily on local systems delivering
quality care that is needed. These same systems will have to be willing to give up profit-making care when it is appropriate that it should be done elsewhere. For example, in orthopedic surgery, advances in computer assisted technology suggest that within a decade or so, joint replacement surgery should be done only in major centers, such as Boston or New York.

Although it might still be profitable to offer computer assisted joint replacements in smaller hospitals, the outcome quality level is expected not to be as good as that of places where larger numbers of cases are done. A smaller local system must be prepared to assist
consumers to have their surgery done elsewhere, not attempt to set up its own program just because it is profitable.

It is laudable for the Berkshire Health System to protect our most
precious asset by providing care that is profitable. Let us not give
them the wrong mandate.

CHARLES KENNY, M.D.

Stockbridge

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BMC squashes a fine business

Letters

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

We are told that Berkshire Health Systems has acquired Berkshire
Radiological Associates at 610 North Street because, at least in part, the radiology center was draining valuable business from the hospital and weakening its bottom line. Yet, according to the Massachusetts Nurses Association, Berkshire Medical Center, a "charitable" nonprofit organization, recorded a $24 million profit last year. The imaging center at BMC had shown a steady growth of patients from 151,000 in 2004 to 177,000 in 2006.

So why has Berkshire Radiological Associates posed any real threat to
the bottom line of Berkshire Health Systems? The second question I would ask is why these two imaging centers could not get along? Why not work together, rather than develop the antagonism that I read about from Berkshire Medical Center?

It is sad to see the way it treated the people who originally staffed Berkshire Radiological Associates, the way it used its incredible financial resources and lobbying efforts to apply political pressure to prevent an "open" MRI at the 610 North Street address, and the apparent collusion with Baystate Medical Center to force Health New England to refuse to cover most services at the outpatient facility. This removed a large number of people seeking imaging services from Berkshire Radiological Associates' client base and forced them to go to BMC.

While I have concern about the potential removal of another significant tax-paying entity from the Pittsfield tax base, the far more significant question for me is how all this impacts patient services in our community.

As an occasional client of Berkshire Radiological Associ-ates, I have experienced the ease of parking, the warmth of its waiting room, the incredible friendliness and competence of its staff, and the extremely efficient service. I have not had to compete for services with trauma cases or the seriously ill from the intensive care unit. Perhaps of
equal importance, I have always had an incredibly prompt response to any test results.

In the years of its operation, I have never seen informational pickets or any other kind of pickets outside Berkshire Radiological Associates. Its employees were obviously happy with their work and the treatment
they received from their management. That always translates into more friendly and more efficient employees.

I am somewhat troubled by the obvious need for informational picketing that recently took place in front of BMC where nurses must fight for greater contributions to their pension plans, more adequate staffing, and "respect now." So my third question becomes: Was this really the time to take down an efficient and apparently well run imaging center using monies that might better have been used to reward and upgrade staffing at BMC?

Perhaps if BMC would treat its nursing staff with more respect and
dignity and make them feel truly part of the team effort at BMC, much of the nursing shortage would take care of itself. Berkshire
Radiological Associates seems to have understood that extremely well.

ROBERT H. SKIDMORE

Pittsfield

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BMC buys rival

City Click photo to enlarge

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Berkshire Radiological Associates acquired, ending a lengthy feud.

By Jack Dew

Berkshire Eagle Staff

PITTSFIELD — After five years of contention and competition,
Berkshire Medical Center is buying an outpatient radiology center that had once threatened to drain valuable business from the hospital and weaken its bottom line.

By acquiring Berkshire Radiological Associates, BMC is putting an end to a long-running feud that had angered many in the medical community who said it typified the hospital's sometimes heavy-handed approach to protecting its bottom line.

The deal means the hospital is shuttering its biggest competition in the lucrative imaging field. Neither BMC nor Berkshire Radiological Associates would disclose the final purchase price. The deal is expected to close in the middle of September, and Berkshire Radiological Associates will continue to see patients until Sept. 7.

Despite years of antagonism, both sides sought to put the best face on the deal. BMC spokesman Michael Leary said the purchase was a logical move for the hospital, which has been looking to expand and was contemplating building an outpatient facility on its own. At Berkshire Radiological, Dr. Stuart J. Masters said the two sides had ignored their past and struck a deal that is good for the county's health care system.

It is unclear whether the building will remain a radiology facility.
"How this will fit into the needs of the hospital in the future is
something we are still reviewing," Leary said.

The building will not be empty: Berkshire Nurse Practitioners has a
seven-year lease on office space there, and Robyn Korte, one of the
practice's partners, said they intend to stay. Leary said the hospital will honor that lease "to the extent that we are bound by it," but will also look to have discussions with the nurse practitioners about their
plans.

Negotiations for the radiology purchase began a few months ago. As part of the deal, BMC said it would try to accommodate Berkshire
Radiological's roughly 15 employees; however, Leary said, only two have been offered positions in the hospital, and the others are "certainly
welcome to apply for other positions within the health system for which they are qualified, as would anybody."

An employee of Berkshire Radiological, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was worried his comments would hurt his chances of getting another job, said he believes all 15 will be out of work after the sale is completed.

"I think (the hospital) is holding a grudge," he said. "They don't want to hire us. There were pretty hard feelings when we left, and they just don't want to hire us."

He said the employees only learned about the sale when a voice mail was accidentally sent to the wrong number; when they confronted the doctors two or three weeks ago, the physicians admitted that a deal was in the works. He said the hospital had "crushed" Berkshire Radiological over the years, doing "everything in its power to have us not operate. We are competition, so it's fair game, but that's what happened."

The purchase drew criticism from the BMC chapter of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, which is in difficult negotiations for a new contract with the hospital. Chief among the sticking points is a demand from the nurses for a greater contribution to their pension fund.

"(BMC) should be spending its resources on keeping and retaining good nurses," said Ann Marie Adams, a registered nurse at BMC and a member of the MNA committee. "For what reasons do we need to expand? We need to take care of what we have."

While those familiar with deal said it was driven by financial
pressures, Dr. Masters would not address what prompted the sale.
Masters instead spoke about the mission of the facility and the
dedication of the employees.

"We started the facility because we thought that the community would
benefit greatly from having an outpatient imaging center where people who get sick or have a medical problem that needs imaging could be taken care of quickly in gentle, professional surroundings," he said.

With easy parking and an earth-toned lobby with a quietly bubbling
aquarium, the outpatient clinic was designed as an alternative to the bustle of the hospital, where those seeking an MRI or CT scan competed for attention with trauma cases from the emergency room or the seriously ill from the intensive care unit.

BMC opposed the outpatient center even before it was announced. In
December 2001, the hospital's ownership successfully lobbied
Pittsfield's representatives in the Legislature for a special law that made it almost impossible for any business other than a hospital to operate an MRI in Berkshire County.

Eight months later, the 11 doctors of Berkshire Radiological Associates announced plans for a new, $4.5 million clinic on North Street. The hospital said the new office would siphon patients from its own imaging center, which remains one of the most profitable aspects of its business and underwrites money-losing — but essential — functions
like 24-hour emergency care.

Over the next several months, the hospital demoted one of the doctors
from his position as chairman of BMC's radiology department and finally replaced the firm with physicians lured from Michigan.

By the time the outpatient clinic opened in May 2003, only three
doctors remained — Masters, Robert B. Geehr and Jerome M. Auerbach.
Unable to open an MRI at first, the radiologists offered CT scans,
mammography, X-ray, ultra-sound and a range of other services. They
estimated they would see 15,000 patients a year.

But there were early signs of trouble. Health New England, the county's second-largest health insurer, refused to cover most services at the outpatient clinic and eventually pulled out of contract talks with the radiologists. Health New England is run by Baystate Medical Center,
which has a close relationship with BMC.

Berkshire Medical Center, meanwhile, was doing more and more imaging business. According to its numbers, the hospital saw 151,000 radiology patients in 2004; 164,000 in 2005; and 177,000 in 2006.

The doctors eventually found a way around the MRI law by installing a
state-of-the-art, open-style MRI in a strip mall just over the border in New Lebanon, N.Y. By that time, BMC had upgraded its own facilities and had brought in a second MRI to meet patient demand.

It appears the doctors were never able to get the kind of business they needed to support their multimillion dollar overhead. Masters said the three physicians will continue to practice at St. Peter's Hospital in Albany, N.Y., and will still run the MRI in New Lebanon.

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Clinic through the years

City

Saturday, August 18, 2007

December 2001 — Berkshire Medical Center urges Pittsfield's
representatives in the Legislature to pass a law to essentially ban any business other than a hospital from operating an MRI machine in
Berkshire County. The law passes without notice.

July 1, 2002 — Berkshire Radiological Associates, the city's only group of radiologists, announces plans for a $4.5 million outpatient imaging center on North Street. The plan is immediately opposed by BMC.

July 26, 2002 — As the relationship between the doctors and hospital continues to deteriorate, BMC demotes Dr. Robert Geehr from his
position as chairman of the hospital's radiology department.

Nov. 1, 2002 — Berkshire Radiological writes to the attorney general, alleging monopolistic practices by BMC.

Nov. 4, 2002 — BMC announces that it is hiring four radiologists from
Michigan to take over its radiology department, pushing Berkshire Radiological Associates out.

Nov. 14, 2002 — Berkshire Radiological buys 610 North St. for
$535,000.

May 25, 2003 — Berkshire Radiological opens the North Street clinic.

June, 2003 — BMC opens a new women's imaging center designed to make visits easier and more comfortable.

June, 2004 — Berkshire Radiological opens an MRI center in New Lebanon, N.Y., minutes from downtown Pittsfield.

October, 2004 — Health New England says it will no longer allow its
15,000 Berkshire County clients to use Berkshire Radiological's
facilities. The two sides had been in negotiations for 18 months.

August, 2007 — Berkshire Radiological Associates agrees to sell its facility to BMC.

Monday, August 27, 2007 8:06:00 PM  
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