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The following letter was originally sent to The Berkshire Eagle, where editors apparently have yet to publish its contents.  Per request of the author, it is published here.

Lenox Board should take note of
Home Depot's negatives

To the Editor of THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE:-

My letter is in response to your article on the possibility of locating a Home Depot in Lenox, and to Linda Procopio's statement that the Boston development company "wanted to see how the community would accept the concept of a Home Depot here".

Before the Lenox Planning Board gives serious consideration to a Home Depot in Lenox, I strongly suggest that members spend a weekend afternoon at the retailer's West Springfield location. I suggest that they take note of the dishevelment of the parking area strewn with shopping carts and other material conveyances. I suggest that they take note of the constant congestion and comings and goings of all types of trucks and cars. I suggest that they note the hot dog and cold drink vendors and the sidewalk litter resulting from their service.

Upon returning to the Berkshires, I suggest that the Planning Board members drive by the Dettingers, Dresser Hulls, Caligaris and the many other building supply and hardware outlets that have been serving the Berkshires long and well. They should note the orderly comings and goings, the lack of congestion and litter, the satisfaction of long-time customers. As visionary planners, they should picture the boarded-up structures and overgrown parking lots that will soon replace these thriving, local, well-known, convenient and appropriately sized shopping centers.

It appears that the widening of Routes 7 & 20 has become a Trojan Horse for ill-conceived development. Besides Home Depot, why not add a few more fast food restaurants, a couple of rent-rooms-by-the-hour motels, an adult video store or two, so that we in the Berkshires can have our own version of Cape Cod's Route 28 and West Springfield's Route 5. Let's recreate the problem of traffic congestion and delays that the widening project was meant to solve.

Ms. Procopio has expressed concern about the color and style of a Berkshire Home Depot's exterior. May I suggest that "if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and smells like a duck regardless of the color of its feathers or the shape of its body - IT'S A DUCK!"

C. Gerry McGowan
Lenox, May 18, 2000


Politics Make Strange Bedfellows

To: BerkshireEagleDotNetwork
A neighbor mentioned that he wanted to go to the North Adams City Council meeting at 7:30 PM on April 25, 2000, but didn't dare show his face there because he was afraid of losing his  job. Despite citizens like him, the parking lot at City Hall was close to full by quarter to seven. 

Mayor Barrett made his short speech at 7:30 sharp. He left to the thundering applause of the "nice" early comers, who immediately cleared out the parking lot, their part of the show concluded. 

Two imposing policemen, newly assigned to the Council meeting, remained in the room to guard the exits. Can't beat that for drama.

The majority of the Council skillfully continued to evade as many answers as possible to questions that concerned citizens had been asking for weeks, some of which are:

  • Why did six of the eight Councilors who approved the appropriation of a 1998 Lumina not remember that Mayor Barrett requested its purchase as a pool car or "swing" car (and just what is the definition of a "swing" car, anyway)?
  • Why was it purchased under an appropriation for the Police Department, but not identified by City insignia as a City vehicle?
  • Why did the Council approve a 1994 change in documentation procedures so that no records have been kept on the use of the Lumina? What other documentation has been eliminated?
  • Why has the Lumina been parked for the best part of the last 20 months in Mayor Barrett's driveway? Why is there such a danger of vandalism around City Hall, especially during tourist season, so that a City vehicle is unsafe there?
  • Which department pays the excise tax, insurance, repair, and maintenance on the Lumina?
  • If the City has a pool car, a Lumina with approximately 8,000 or 9,000 miles on it, why have vehicles been rented by the City from Mohawk Rentals on Ashland Street in the past two years? How much in actual dollars have the rentals cost the taxpayers?
  • If City heads have the use of a pool car, why do they also have a fixed automobile allowance, and why have administration budgets included travel allowances? How much has been spent on fixed car and travel allowances? What part can be construed as double-dipping? 
Government and Other Indoor Sports in North Adams
A special subcommittee meeting one week earlier had produced many letters, very recently dated and amazingly similar, attesting that City heads are aware that there is a pool car. A spectator, formerly with the City, remembered he had used one, but he couldn't recall which vehicle in a pool of one it was. 

Councilor Marie Harpin, as chairperson of the subcommittee, promised that there would be actual answers to some of the questions at the next Council meeting. 

No answers emerged, which appears to be the modus operandi for the Council, a bad habit that needs a strong remedy. If the Council can't "file" an issue (i.e., bury it), it promptly ignores it. Asking a question for the second time wastes the time of the Council, President Cariddi angrily asserts. However, she does not take umbrage at the fact that it remains unanswered. 

As far as the Freedom of Information Act is concerned, most requests for information from the North Adams administration are apparently "filed" and ignored or offered at exorbitant copying and handling costs. When the requests go unanswered, no one is brought to task for it. Why not? 

One unanswered question usually spawns other questions, too. (Is the Ford Explorer also a pool car, and what's the deal there? Why can't we pay the firemen properly?) 

A succinct and timely response indicates good management procedures, honesty in administration, and a healthy respect for constituents and other taxpayers. 

Spring Hopes Eternal
Councilor Keith Bona obviously does his homework, and it was evident that he takes seriously the job of evaluating the questions citizens have posed. Well deserved kudos to him. Concerned and even indifferent citizens will want to reward his efficiency and dedication on their behalf at the next election. 

Councilors Alcombright and Bloom also offered constructive suggestions. 

Councilor Clark Billings had apparently spent the week honing his social skills, for which the spectators were appropriately grateful. Let's remind them at election time that he considers citizens who ask questions as "not nice" and to vote accordingly. 

In the meantime, if unanswered questions were clothes, there would be a growing trail of them surrounding City Hall. Some simple citizen, standing in front of the empty stores on Main Street, is bound to blurt out that the emperor is remarkably naked and that much of the Council resembles a nudist colony. 

And it might just be a brand new North Adams citizen, previously apolitical, who wonders nervously exactly what percentage of the iceberg has emerged so far, 

THE GRAMMAR ANGEL
(Name Withheld By Request)
Wednesday, April 26, 2000


Is Still Trying to Make Sense of Allegations Against Barrett

To: BerkshireEagleDotNetwork
The North Adams City Council Government Sub-committee met tonight. A lot of interesting questions were asked, and very few were answered, at least to anyone's satisfaction. To wit, was I the only person in the Berkshires who didn't know that the City's "car pool" consists of one Lumina?  I always figured the phrase was a plural.

At any rate, no one seems to know how it gets serviced or fueled or insuranced, or by which entity, since there is no documentation, according to rules passed in 1993 or 1994, which leaves everything up to the Mayor.

Councilor Mardin promised to have the information at the next Council meeting next Tuesday.  The Lumina is also a "swing car", but there wasn't a soul there who knew exactly what that means.  It's registered to the Police Department, but it's not a police car.  However, if you check the car on a computer, it comes up a police car.

Suddenly there has been a barrage of letters dated circa April 14, 2000, most of them sounding very much the same, saying that City department heads know that there is a pool/swing car for them to use on business.  Not which car, of course.  Since the whole business came up, there are actually a few people who have actually used the Lumina, which has about 8,000 or 9,000 miles on it.  Then again, the Explorer is allegedly sort of a swing car, too, but not exactly.  It's older and less reliable, which makes the Lumina necessary.  It's a City vehicle, but it was never ascertained exactly how.

Lewis Carroll would have tons of new material here.  I know there's a shitake factory in town, but really!  The stated reason the mayor parks the Lumina at his house is that he's afraid it'll get vandalized at the City Yard or wherever police cars are parked.  Some people wanted to know why we need a car pool, since department heads are given a fixed car allowance for using their own vehicles.  If they have an allowance and they use a pool car, isn't that double-dipping?

At the Council meeting last week, it was Councilor Billings' suggestion to "file it" -- which I take is a euphemism for burying the entire situation in the archives.  Tonight he demonstrated that his social skills are severely lacking.  He called the gathering "90% idiots" with a political axe to grind.  When he was brought to task for his sarcasm, he revised that percentage to 75% with sarcastic apology.

One young man was apparently taken aback by the vitriolic manner of Councilor Billings against various spectators, asking Billings to "be nice".  The man mentioned that his wife and mother were in the audience that Billings called "idiots".  Mr. Billings pointed to one lady sitting across the room and said, "Oh, is THAT your mother?", and very obviously took down her name, pointedly paging to a clean sheet in his legal pad. She seemed intimidated by his action, but still spelled aloud her first name.  She evidently wanted to make certain he got it right.

Later I overheard the young man apologize to Councilor Billings for the imposition of concerned citizens having forced him to do his job for the taxpayers of North Adams.  Although "Let 'em eat cake" was never pronounced, it may as well have been put on the loudspeakers.  Who elected this Councilor anyway?

Much more interesting were the Councilors present who didn't say anything or who suggested some pretty hefty compromises. Things are changing. If there are any administration supporters in town, I wonder where they were, except for a shill who had purportedly used a pool car (he didn't remember which) sometime.  If there's only one, how can you forget which one you used?

Bill Davis and John Choquette were there dressed in suits, and I thought Davis was great. There were a lot of people other than Vince Melito, et al, who had something to say, so Davis and Choquette were fairly quiet.  It was, however, a long meeting.

I am still trying to make some sense of all this.  I don't know which parts of the allegations are true, but I do recall a saying like "If you can't bowl them over with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit."  There are no firm answers from Mayor Barrett's camp.  Any answers forthcoming seem to be to questions that weren't asked.  If the allegations are false, let's hear cogent denials unless there are none.

THE GRAMMAR ANGEL
(Name Withheld By Request)
Tuesday, April 18, 2000


Appalled at Council's Tap-Dancing

To: BerkshireEagleDotNetwork
I went to the City Council meeting in North Adams last night and was appalled at the tap-dancing that went on, to wit, the Lumina has always been a "pool car", according to the older members of the Council. The younger ones must be having a "junior" moment because they don't have such total recall.  No records are kept as to who has the car, mileage, gas consumption, etc., although in the last couple of weeks a couple of other City people have driven it finally.  On WNAW news this morning, one of the Mayor's comments was that the car stays at his house to protect it from vandalism in the City Yard.  Does that mean the Police Department can't protect their own vehicles?  And that anyone from City Hall can drive a PD car, provided they can find it's location?

THE GRAMMAR ANGEL
(Name Withheld By Request)
Wednesday, April 12, 2000


Reads The Berkshire Eagle,
Thinks of poetry

To: BerkshireEagleDotNetwork
Subject: Anti-newspaper poem
Here's a bit of sarcastic anti-newspaper poesy found out on the Internet.  I think the poet is the author of one of those Vince Foster conspiracy books, but regardless of your views on that matter this poem speaks for itself.

The Berkshire Eagle is only one of hundreds of newspapers that fit this description of pompous publications:

 Press GIGO
 "The first rough draft of history,"
 Or so their work they tout.
 They put the garbage in
 And others take it out.
                                 --- DC Dave

If you publish this, please exclude my name and email.  Thanks.

NAME WITHHELD BY REQUEST
Monday, April 10, 2000

P.S.  Please sign the Petition to Protect Free Speech on the Internet: http://gwbush.com/petition.htm


Hickey & Doyle should have been barred from PCB Negotiations

To: BerkshireEagleDotNetwork
Subject: PCBs
Thank you for printing the whole story about The Housatonic River Initiative and the PCBs.  I don't understand why the consent decree was allowed to happen in the first place.

Both Councilor Hickey and Mayor Doyle should have been barred from the negotiations with GE for conflict of interest violations.  Hickey, who I think once worked for GE, stood to benefit personally from a quick settlement with GE as Director of the Economic Redevelopment Authority.

And Mayor Doyle, lest we forget too soon, took a trip with GE execs to the Masters Golf Tournament last year on GE's tab, a blatant conflict of interest violation during the tense negotiations with GE on Pittsfield's behalf.  Doyle should have been barred from the talks immediately, but he wasn't, and now look what we've got.

And, now, The Berkshire Eagle has the audacity to condemn the HRI for defending our City while praising Doyle for putting a PCB landfill next to an elementary school!

How can we win?  At least you are printing the truth.  Maybe the courts will recognize the insanity.....

Please keep this email address anonymous.

NAME WITHHELD BY REQUEST
Thursday, March 30, 2000


Claims Barrett Tried Having Her Son Fired

To: BerkshireEagleDotNetwork
I'm brand new in North Adams and buying a house here.  You'd think I have no bone to pick with Mayor Barrett.  However, before the last election, the Mayor tried to get my son fired for having two small opponent stickers on his private car, which was parked in the public lot in front of the store in which he works.  He called up my son's boss in Pittsfield to that end. That didn't sit well with my son or with me.  I brought him up better than that.

THE GRAMMAR ANGEL
 (Name Withheld by Request)
Thursday, March 30, 2000


Has Valid Point

To: BerkshireEagleDotNetwork:
Good luck with the skewering -- watch out for horns.

NAME WITHHELD BY REQUEST
Thursday, March 23, 2000


NorthAdamsFree.com &
Alan Chartock both need lessons

To: BerkshireEagleDotNetwork
You might give some spelling and grammar lessons to your pals in North Adams not to mention a brief outline of what constitutes good taste.  Your site relates to pertinent issues and at least contains some elements of each side.  Their site is
laughable, one-sided and in many cases way off the mark.

Glad to see you are going after Alan Chartock.  This megalomaniac peacock has been flaunting his feathers far too long and should be publicly flogged.  Did you catch any of the ultra-nauseating "Count Chartockula" piece WAMC dared to foist off as entertainment recently?  More sophomoric mush deifying the god of Albany's public radio sycophants and wasting precious air time.

Please do not publish my name or e-mail address.  Thank you.

NAME WITHHELD BY REQUEST
Saturday, March 25, 2000

(Editor's Note: Please visit "WAMC Northeast Pirate Radio"(www.wamc.net) for the latest on  megalomaniac peacocks.)


Has Hard Time Finding Barrett Supporters

To: BerkshireEagleDotNetwork:
Subject: Congratulations
Nice site.  As a brand new resident of North Adams, I've had a hard time finding one single person who has something good to say about Mayor John Barrett and she didn't give me any details about why she likes him.  Keep up the good work!

"M_PARKER" <mtparker@adelphia.net> 
Friday, March 24, 2000


Supports The Angels all the way

To: BerkshireEagleDotNetwork
Subject: Crusade Against Mayoral Corruption In North Adams.
In regards to Mayor John Barrett being on trial as a CORRUPT MAYOR by the residents of North Adams and The Guardian Angels:  Anyone who is in their right mind knows for a fact that this Mayor has hurt many people who neither have the money nor political power to fight against him.

If at any time one person would go house-to-house, or on the street to take a face-to-face poll in regards to the status of the city and what it has to offer them, or what their opinion is concerning the Mayor, the poll would be distasteful against the Mayor.   Plus, the fear in this city for speaking against the Mayor is overwhelming.

No one on earth should have this much control over people, it's like what Hitler had over in Germany.  This group, The Guardian Angels, are only doing their job speaking-up and defending the ones who otherwise cannot.  There are no jobs here, it's an unfriendly town, no one cares for the unfortunate.  From my viewpoint, there are only two classes of people here: the rich and the very poor, no middle-class at all.  I support The Angels all the way.

BORN FREE: "RENEGADE"
pickett_majesty@rome.com
Saturday, March 18, 2000


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