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In The Arena

In the Arena: Election night disappointment

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The only thing missing from Montague Town Hall on Monday night was a boom box playing a continuous loop of “Garden Party” by the late Ricky Nelson. Just as Nelson was booed out of Madison Square Garden on that fateful night in 1971, Montague Selectman Mark Fairbrother has been summarily dismissed by voters in one of the more decisive electoral skunkings in recent memory. “Of course I’m disappointed,” Fairbrother said … 0

In the Arena: A happening committee

Thursday, May 14, 2015

If you are looking for political intrigue, the place to be these days seems to be the Greenfield Town Council’s Appointments and Ordinances Committee. Most times, covering a council subcommittee lands on the pleasantry scale somewhere between a root canal and an aggressive teeth cleaning appointment. Not so lately for A & O, which has hosted a contentious pair of back-to-back meetings focusing … 0

In the Arena: School budget battles

Thursday, April 30, 2015

It’s looking like a tough year for school budgets. Then again, I can rarely recall a year when there wasn’t some sort of political battle related to educational funding. But this seems to be an especially difficult budget cycle in a number of communities, as the cost of funding schools continues to outstrip what town officials say they can afford. Here are two … 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

In the Arena: Playing hardball with the MIAA

Thursday, June 26, 2014

If anyone is looking for a spare photo of 2nd Hampshire state Rep. John Scibak, you might want to check the dartboards in the executive offices of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association. Scibak isn’t too popular with that organization these days, mostly because he had the audacity to … 1

In the Arena: His hat stays out of ring

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Now that Greenfield voters have had their say, the focus shifts to who will lead the “new” Town Council. But the one person who won’t be in the running is the senior member of that body. “I thought about it, but I really don’t want to divide the … 0

In the Arena: What did Greenfield voters say

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Well, news-hounds, did Tuesday settle anything for you? Obviously, the big stories from this week’s Greenfield’s Town Election were the victories of Penny Ricketts and Isaac Mass, two some would say rabidly pro-growth voices to replace dyed-in-the-wool smart-growthers David Singer, who did not run for re-election to the … 0

In the Arena: Why is Donelan still raising money?

Friday, May 30, 2014

One thought above all ran through my head as I snaked through the throng of Chris Donelan supporters crowded into the Greenfield Grille banquet room three Fridays ago — why are they having a fundraiser for a guy who is probably never going to have an opponent? “I … 0

In the Arena: A mind of its own

Thursday, May 22, 2014

When laypeople use words like “baffling and “illogical” to describe a school-related public policy decision, it is more likely than not to be greeted with a somewhat dismissive shrug by the policy’s architects. It’s a little harder to blow off those words, however, when they are being spoken … 0

In the Arena: Back in Con Com's hands

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Greenfield Town Council’s attempt to strike a compromise on a controversial wetlands ordinance amendment appears to be over before it ever really had a chance to get started. The council’s Appointments and Ordinances Committee this week voted to remove a proposed amendment to the town’s wetlands protection … 0

In the Arena: Tensions continue to build

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Are David Jensen’s days as Montague’s building inspector numbered? It sure sounded like it at this week’s selectmen’s meeting, where Chairman Mark Fairbrother took Jensen apart over his refusal to issue a building permit to reconstruct two Hatchery Road barns destroyed by a March arson fire. At issue … 1

In the Arena: Pipeline politics

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The absolute worst position for any politician is to have accountability for an issue, but no power to change it. That may be exactly the situation local politicians find themselves in as the regulatory process moves forward regarding the Kinder Morgan Co.’s plan to string a natural gas … 1

In the Arena: Surprising primary

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The votes have been counted in Tuesday’s Greenfield Precinct 5 Town Council primary and I’m not sure anyone quite expected the final outcome — including the top vote-getter. “I really didn’t expect to finish first,” candidate Penny Ricketts said. “This precinct scared me a little bit, and I … 0