"I PUBLIUS" originally appeared in The
Berkshire Eagle on Saturday, April 1, 2000 and is reproduced
here without permission.)
by Alan S. Chartock
I am a big admirer of Mayor John Barrett III of
North Adams. Perhaps it's because he reminds me of John Wayne or The Lone
Ranger or Sheriff Matt Dillon. He's a no-nonsense, knock 'em, sock 'em
sort of public figure who has done wonders for North Adams, which is in
the news almost every day with the latest new high-tech company moving
Sure he makes mistakes -- don't we all. But on the positive side of
the ledger is the fact that he is a courageous, decent man who cares deeply
about his city. Lately, he's been attacked by vengeful, spiteful
individuals taking cheap shots at him on a Web site. Join the crowd,
John. Remember, there's always some little guy with insufficient
self-esteem who will attack you. As hard as it is to do, you've got to
ignore it. Nothing works better than that.
Take comfort that you're the tall man. Your attackers are merely in
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there are malcontents who will rip off your name. Make sure you register
your name, the name of your company and any derivatives. There will always
be someone trying to climb on your shoulders by abusing the name and goodwill
you've worked hard to maintain. Sooner or later, law and order and sanity
will be brought to the Web, but in the meantime, protect yourself.
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The controversial and enigmatic Henry Vara and his crowd are back again,
asking for yet another referendum to bring simulcasting to the Great Barrington
Fairgrounds. You will remember the last time they tried this caper: He
and his cronies got their behinds whipped in a referendum. Maybe Vara thinks
that Great Barrington is not as hot as it should be. I wonder why. We have
the best restaurants, we have the best people, we have second-homers who
come here because of the bucolic and cultural life of the Berkshires. Why
would we want to bring gambling and all it connotes to the town? Vara thinks
the rules are "two out of three."
You can be sure we'll all be bothered by telephone solicitors and "push-polls"
that assume we're a bunch of idiots. Last time out, state Rep. Chris Hodgkins
and state Sen. Andrea Nuciforo were inexplicably trying to help Vara with
a bill that would have allowed simulcasting. They then agreed to
leave it up to town voters. To their credit, they did. Let's hope they
keep their word now. I don't like Henry Vara skulking around the Legislature,
trying to get himself smooth sailing.
Is it possible that Vara's backers are very displeased with the way
he's spending their money? Maybe that's why Vara is so insistent that,
despite town disapproval, he find some way to introduce a gambling emporium
to the Berkshires. As for the Selectmen, they appear to be in the right
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There are days you really have to wonder about the Supreme Court. It seems
to me that their duty is to balance the rights of individuals against those
of society. They recently came down with a humdinger of a ruling. A guy
had an illegal handgun. Someone phoned the tip into the police; the police
searched the guy and arrested him. The court threw out the conviction,
suggesting that a tip is not probable cause to justify the arrest. What
do they want, a signed confession? The point is that the police searched
the guy, he had the gun and a dangerous criminal was taken off the street.
Of course, because some police officers around the country have been convicted
of planting evidence, the court may be signaling that we can't necessarily
trust the cops to play fair. Still, it seems to me that this does not bode
well for the protection of society.
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Looks as if New York Gov. George Pataki is at his political nadir. Now
he's being attacked from all sides, including Republicans. In Albany, one
never knows what's really going on. For example, we know of the long-standing
antipathy between New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Pataki and former
U.S. Sen. Al D'Amato. Now you see a Democrat, Dov Hikind, who has crossed
party lines to help D'Amato and Pataki, calling for a Conservative Party
candidate other than Giuliani. Could it be that Hikind is following Pataki/D'Amato
orders and trying to get Hillary Clinton elected senator? Maybe we should
look for fingerprints on the Hikind knife.
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Alan Chartock is chairman and executive director of WAMC
Northeast Public Radio Network in Albany, N.Y., and a SUNY professor
of political science and communications. He makes his home in Great Barrington.
©2000 by MediaNews Group, Inc. and New England Newspapers,
Inc. Reproduced here without permission.