For The Record – Episode 18

Kameron Spaulding and I talk about this week’s top stories in The Berkshire Record, including a new report that reveals limited prospects for new economic development in the Berkshire County and the final approval for a $7.7 million roof and boilers project for Mount Everett School in Sheffield.

Also on the agenda is more than $700,000 in uncollected bills for the Lee Ambulance Service, the announced candidacy of Karen Christensen for Great Barrington Select Board, the possibility that the town will be forced out of the old firehouse and the decision of the Select Board to make a token payment toward a $9.1 million unfunded liability for retired employee healthcare benefits.

If the video doesn’t display properly on this page, click here to view it.

For The Record – Episode 17

Kameron Spaulding and I talk about this week’s top stories in The Berkshire Record, including the School Committee’s decision to restore cut positions in the Berkshire Hills Regional School District budget and the legacy of frozen pipes and ruptured water mains in a record-setting winter.

Also on the agenda is the decision of the Great Barrington Select Board to endorse a petition calling on the state to divest in fossil-fuel companies and how all eyes are on New Marlborough in the quest of the Southern Berkshire Regional School District to get $7.7 million in bonding passed for a new roof and boilers. And we have an update on former Sheffield Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Bart Elsbach, who has reached a plea agreement in an incident in which he spray painted graffiti on a Joe Wilkinson construction vehicle.

If the video doesn’t display properly on this page, click here to view it.

Passenger Rail Boosters Tell Malloy To ‘Train Up!’

More of my recent columns for CT News Junkie:

For The Record – Episode 15

Kameron Spaulding and I — both of The Berkshire Record — spend the full half hour with Karen Christensen. Karen is a founding member of both GB21 and The Train Campaign.

We had a wide-ranging discussion abut the sustainability of the Berkshire Hills Regional School District and also about recent developments in Connecticut that affect The Train Campaign’s efforts to restore passenger rail service to the Berkshires. Also discussed was a very interesting email exchange between two prominent railroad pundits, one of whom suggested a bus service between the Berkshires and Metro-North’s Harlem line terminus at Wassaic.

If the video doesn’t display properly on this page, click here to view it.

For The Record – Episode 14

Kameron Spaulding and I talk about this week’s top stories in The Berkshire Record, including the grim proposed Berkshire Hills Regional School District budget, signs of optimism in the tiny but embattled Monterey police department and the recently announced return of the Great Barrington Farmers Market to downtown from the fairgrounds.

Also on the agenda is an abandoned solar project in Lee and the ongoing saga of the Elm Court project in Lenox and Stockbridge.

If the video doesn’t display properly on this page, click here to view it.

Selectman Blechman’s Journalism Class

Of course, it is standard journalistic practice to confront public officials with rumors and ask them to confirm or deny. You would think Blechman, who brags about being a graduate of the Columbia J School “with honors,” would know that.

For The Record – Episode 13

Kameron Spaulding and I have a freewheeling discussion about this week’s top stories in The Berkshire Record, including a controversial petition presented to the embattled Berkshire Hills Regional School District, a major road salt shortage affecting Berkshire County, the continuing troubles of the Monterey Police Department and a rally for passenger rail service in Connecticut that could have major implications for Berkshire County residents and visitors.

If the video doesn’t display properly on this page, click here to view it.

For The Record – Episode 12

Kameron Spaulding and I talk about this week’s top stories in The Berkshire Record, including the blizzard that never was (#Smowmageddon2015), big tensions in the tiny Monterey police department and an initiative in Connecticut that could have implications for the return of passenger rail from NYC to the Berkshires.

Also on the agenda is the ongoing clear-cutting saga on Long Pond in Great Barrington and the reluctance of towns to sign on to the Wired West broadband initiative.

If the video doesn’t display properly on this page, click here to view it.

For The Record – Episode 11

Kameron Spaulding and I of the The Berkshire Record interview a special guest: blogger and educator Dan Valenti. A Pittsfield native, Dan now lives in Stockbridge and is outspoken on a number of issues, including Pittsfield city politics and school construction projects such as the proposed $115-million new Taconic High School in Pittsfield, the failed $51 million project for the Berkshire Hills Regional School District and a proposed $7.7 million repair for the Southern Berkshire Regional School District’s Mount Everett building.

But the bulk of our discussion focuses on OPEB, those expensive retirement benefits mandated for state and municipal employees by the state of Massachusetts itself. We have a big story on OPEB and its effect on South County towns this week in The Record. Most town and cities in the state have huge unfunded OPEB liabilities, eating up an increasing portion of municipal budgets and, in some cases, threatening the funding of other town services.

Check out Dan’s lively blog at PlanetValenti.com. And follow him on Twitter @planetvalenti. Dan just joined Twitter, so give him a nudge to start tweeting. He will, no doubt, be great at it once he gets going.

If the video doesn’t display properly on this page, click here to view it.

For The Record – Episode 10

Kameron Spaulding and I talk about this week’s top stories in The Berkshire Record, including the controversial Elm Court development project in Lenox and Stockbridge, and the latest on the confusion surrounding the Mount Everett Regional School repair project in Sheffield. Also on the docket is the clear-cutting saga on Long Pond in Great Barrington and how public officials in that town are getting around state ethics laws.

If the video doesn’t display properly on this page, click here to view it.