Editorial: ‘The Post’ reminder of Colrain’s Randy Kehler’s part in peace movement

Monday, January 29, 2018

Here are some brief thoughts on some of the events making news from around Franklin County and the North Quabbin area:

We had almost forgotten the significant role that Randy Kehler of Colrain played in the national peace movement over the years, as far back as the Vietnam War.

But arrival of the new movie, “The Post,” brought Kehler back to mind. Daniel Ellsberg, of Pentagon Papers fame, credits Kehler with inspiring his leaking of the secret history of that unpopular war to the New York Times and The Washington Post, a tale being dramatized in Steven Spielberg’s new film.

Kehler, now 73, but 25 at the time he worked for the War Resisters League in San Francisco, “opened my eyes to the possibilities of resisting the war,” Ellsberg has written.

Kehler, whose later refusal to pay taxes for the U.S. military resulted in the 1989 federal seizure of his Colrain home, and who headed a national campaign to freeze nuclear weapons, said of the Pentagon Papers episode: “To me, it underlies the whole question of government secrecy, which seems much worse now than it was then. It totally undermines democracy. People can’t make informed decisions when they don’t know what the hell’s going on. They’re being told lies.”

Lies from the top. Still a problem today. So sad.

Money where your mind is

Plans to build a new library are moving forward in Erving because townspeople have voted to spend $85,000 of their own money for design.

It’s a necessary step to get a construction grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. While waiting its turn to get state money, the town can complete the detailed plans, with an eye toward 2020 for construction to begin. The total cost of the library is estimated to be $4.9 million. While 58 percent will come from the state, this is still a big investment for, and by, the town.

Call to duty

After almost 27 years of service and fond memories as a very active call firefighter for the Turners Falls Fire Department, Chuck Emery is retiring.

His interest in firefighting goes way back. When he was a boy his grandfather, a Deerfield firefighter, took him on calls.

Like so many other volunteers who staff the departments around the county, Emery says he always wanted to help people. Our wish for this new year is that all our towns will have many more Chuck Emerys stepping forward to help their local fire and EMS departments.

Hunting for consensus

In Leyden last week, small town democracy in action didn’t involve lots of time trying to convince the other side of your position.

A controversial proposal to place local restrictions on hunting on other people’s land sparked lots of debate at a preliminary hearing and outside of town hall, but when the time came to formally and finally debate the issue, everyone seemed talked out — less inclined to listen but ready to vote.

More than 150 people attended the special town meeting, and the main meeting room became standing room only. Town Moderator Kathy DiMatteo, perhaps expecting some lively debate, warned voters she would expel any troublemakers.

“If you don’t leave, we have our police force and constable who can take you out of the room and detain you until the end of the meeting,” DiMatteo warned, unnecessarily it turned out.

A few comments were made before Selectboard member Bill Glabach called for the vote without further discussion. Echoes of “I second!” rang throughout the audience, and the proposal lost by a strong majority who wanted the status quo.