In The Arena

In the Arena: Center stage in Montague

Thursday, April 23, 2015

It looks like the “Mike Nelson era” on the Montague Board of Selectmen is finally about to begin. Some would argue that it actually began when “Mr. Sunshine,” as he is sometimes known, was elected to Pat Allen’s former seat with 85 percent of the vote. But there is a big difference between winning a seat at the table and driving a board’s agenda, something it appears the erstwhile founder … 0

In the Arena: Building a reputation

Thursday, April 16, 2015

I no longer live in Greenfield, but if I did, Town Councilor Mark Maloni would get my vote every time. I don’t think I’ve ever said that about any elected town official before, but it’s a claim I make unabashedly, one that was reinforced after seeing and hearing Maloni’s performance at the council’s subcommittee on Economic Development meeting this week regarding Greenfield’s proposed … 0

In the Arena: Pay raise for mayor?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Don’t look now, but Greenfield’s mayor may be about to get a big raise. The Greenfield Town Council is considering a proposal to increase Mayor Bill Martin’s annual salary from $70,000 to $85,000, the push for which is coming from At-Large Councilor Patrick Devlin, who says he believes Martin is “woefully underpaid.” “I got a list of municipal employees that make more than … 0

In the Arena: Deja vu

Thursday, September 18, 2014

History does seem to have a way of repeating itself in local politics. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Montague, where reality is starting to take hold regarding the future — or lack of same — of the Strathmore Paper Company complex. “If something doesn’t happen soon, … 1

In the Arena: A mess with diapers

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Who knew raising awareness about donating disposable diapers to poor families would be such a controversial issue? Actually, it wasn’t — until Montague Selectman Mike Nelson spoke up against a proclamation declaring Sept. 8-14 “Diaper Need Awareness Week” in Montague. “While I respect and applaud you for your … 0

In the Arena: ‘Unenrolled’ hold the key

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Massachusetts may not be quite as “blue” as we think it is and that may be good news for local candidates looking to take out a pair of entrenched incumbents this fall. According to numbers released this week by Secretary of State Bill Galvin, just over 35 percent … 1

In the Arena: Ham-handed protest

Thursday, August 28, 2014

An otherwise conciliatory primary race in the 2nd Franklin District took a somewhat ugly turn this week, thanks to what appears to be a case of mistaken political identity. A half-dozen protesters gathered outside Athol Town Hall ostensibly to protest Republican candidate Susannah Whipps Lee, whom the protesters … 0

In the Arena: Sharing thoughts

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Nobody asked me but ... Greenfield Deputy Police Chief Mark Williams? Wow. I didn’t see that one coming. ∎ Sign of the times — Greenfield schools will have a truancy officer this year. An unfortunate, but necessary move. ∎ It looks like the Greenfield School Committee has decided to take … 0

In the Arena: Further study required

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The “dog days” of summer are underway for the Greenfield Town Council. The “closer to your grandfather’s” council is going to be busier than a one-armed wallpaper hanger over the next couple of months as it tackles a huge number of issues, including ordinances on parking and a … 0

Collins: Andrews’ stance baffles supporters

Thursday, August 7, 2014

“Dazed and confused.” That was one of the takeaway quotes this week from Franklin County Opioid Task Force Founder John Merrigan in reaction to Second Franklin State Rep. Denise Andrews’ vote to oppose increased mandatory minimum sentences for convicted drug traffickers. A more apt reaction might be, “we … 3

Collins: Pipeline positions solidifying

Thursday, July 31, 2014

After several months of relative silence,Beacon Hill lawmakers are finally starting to take a stand against a proposal to string a natural gas pipeline through Franklin County. Late last week, 1st Franklin State Rep. Steve Kulik and 2nd Berkshire Rep. Paul Mark, Berkshire County Reps. Smitty Pignatelli and … 0

In the Arena: Back to the drawing board

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Maybe we should start referring to it as the “ordinance that will not die.” Seriously, there are cyborgs in “Terminator” movies that are easier to kill than Greenfield’s proposed noise control ordinance, which was sent back to committee this week after the Town Council voted to sustain Mayor … 0

In the Arena: Holding a winning hand in pipeline poker?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

It appears that state lawmakers have a “constitutional ace” they may be able to play in the ongoing political poker game surrounding a proposed natural gas pipeline across the state, including Franklin County. “Article 97” of the Massachusetts Constitution mandates that any land with a conservation restriction — … 0

In the Arena: Every vote counts

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Still think your vote doesn’t count, newshounds? Try telling that to parents of students in the Pioneer Regional School District, where the budget has been thrown into limbo by Tuesday’s 262-262 tie vote that effectively kills the budget-balancing Proposition 21/2 override needed to ratify the Pioneer spending plan … 0

In the Arena: Not all say ‘nay’ to pipeline

Thursday, July 3, 2014

You’d be as likely to find a lynx walking down Main Street these days as a politician willing to say anything remotely positive about the gas pipeline being proposed for Franklin County. Greenfield Mayor Bill Martin broke that streak this past week when he told me that Greenfield … 1