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Merrigan Running for North Adams City Council
Campaign Statement On: 10:38AM / Thursday October 10, 2013

Statement from City Council candidate Kate Merrigan

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — I am running for North Adams City Council because I love this community and believe we all have something to contribute as well as a responsibility to use our abilities and our energy to make this great city even greater.

I have worked for years in both my professional role at the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition as well as through my volunteer service to strengthen our city and help others see our strength and our potential. As a candidate for City Council, I want to be a liaison between the residents of North Adams and city government. I know that together we can advance a shared vision of a community in which everyone feels safe, takes pride in where we live, and knows how to access the information, resources, and services we need to move forward as individuals and as a community.

My commitment to service reflects the examples my parents Frank (an English teacher at Drury High School for nearly 30 years) and Marcia (a nurse for many years) set for me and for my sisters. They raised us in the West End of the city, and sent us to North Adams public schools. After college, I returned to build my adult life in my hometown — peers questioned my choice to return to my hometown, but there was no place else I would rather have been.

In 2005, I landed my dream job working with the teenagers at the Coalition and have been with nbCC ever since. I also have been active in community organizations including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Mill City Productions, and the North Adams Youth Commission. Several years ago, I joined with friends to host the first NAMA Prom, which we established as an annual event to bring people together and demonstrate the rich social life that can and does exist in our rural community.

As a City Council candidate, I want to take everything I've learned, my passion for our city, and the many relationships I've developed and put them all to work to move our city forward. Among my many areas of interest are the following: youth engagement, advocacy, and empowerment; community conversation and action regarding substance abuse and its relationship with crime; civic engagement and developing and informed citizenry who know how government processes work and feel comfortable participating in them; and engendering a built environment that supports active living and healthy eating.

There is much that is strong about our community as well as work to be done. I want to help connect people to that work, and to share my love for North Adams through my service as a city councilor.

Please feel free to contact me at kate.merrigan@gmail.com or visit me on Facebook at facebook.com/kate.merrigan.council.
 



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Pignatelli Urges No Vote on Physician-Assisted Suicide
Pignatelli Campaign On: 09:59AM / Saturday November 03, 2012
LENOX, Mass. — State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli announced Friday that he is opposing Massachusetts ballot Question 2, which if passed would legalize physician-assisted suicide in the commonwealth beginning Jan. 1, 2013. 

The Lenox Democrat is joining a list of elected officials, medical community organizations, religious leaders, clergy and other groups who say Question 2 is deeply flawed and lacks critical safeguards for protecting patients.

"Question 2 would allow patients to receive a fatal prescription of 100 secanol pills at their local pharmacy without any family notification, and without the benefit of receiving a qualified psychiatric evaluation or consultation from a palliative care expert. This poses grave risks for the commonwealth and how we approach end-of-life care," said Pignatelli. "On Nov. 6, I urge the people of the 4th Berkshire district to vote NO on Question 2."

Among Pignatelli's concerns with Question 2:

• The lethal prescription would be dispensed at a local pharmacy and public health official would have no system for tracking the lethal dose.

• A physician would not be required to be present when a patient takes the pill, leaving him or her vulnerable to complications and injury not resulting in death.

• There is no required psychiatric evaluation despite multiple studies indicating 30 to 50 percent of patients with a terminal diagnosis develop — treatable — depression

• Patients with a prognosis of six months or fewer to live could choose to end their lives, even though most doctors admit they cannot accurately predict life expectancy.

• Patients could choose to end their lives without ever talking to a spouse or family member. 

• Patients could obtain a lethal prescription without talking to hospice and palliative care professionals, who are trained to help people with ongoing diseases (some terminal, some not) to manage their symptoms and minimize pain. 

Pignatelli cited the recent statement by the Massachusetts Academy of Family Physicians which criticized using the ballot question for such a nuanced and complex area of medicine as a "disservice to the citizens of the commonwealth."

Previously, the Massachusetts Medical Society, Massachusetts Academy of Family Physicians and the Massachusetts Osteopathic Society have each announced their opposition to Question 2.


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Laugenour Calling for Promotion of Energy Conservation
Laugenour Campaign On: 09:09AM / Saturday November 03, 2012
LENOX, Mass. — Lee Scott Laugenour is calling for new debate, legislation and policies to encourage energy conservation, noting the scientific consensus that carbon and methane emissions related to energy use are feeding and accelerating harmful climate change.

Laugenour is the Green-Rainbow Party candidate for state representative in the 4th Berkshire District.

"I have long believed that conservation is an alternative energy that should be encouraged through incentives just like wind, solar and hydro," Laugenour said.

Laugenour and his husband, Mark Woodward, released their household's annual energy consumption, using the most recent readings available. Their consumption is well below available averages for similar households. They reside in a 1,724 square-foot, two-story colonial home in Lenox built in 1900. They share a 2007 Prius, which averages 46 miles per gallon. They have had two MassSave energy audits in the last three years.

Annual consumption of the Laugenour/Woodward household:
  • Electricity ­ 2656 kw/h
  • Natural Gas ­ 52 therms
  • Heating Oil ­ 380 gallons
  • Water ­ 31,000 gallons
  • Gasoline ­ 252 gallons
"National Grid does a good job of creating energy reports that compare a household's usage against 100 similar households. Our household consistently is placed in the bottom 20th percentile of homes, meaning Mark and I consume less than 80 percent of similar households," said Laugenour. "I would like to work with other private and public utility enterprises to craft similar reports to help measure and benchmark conservation initiatives."

The Lenox Environment Committee, on which Laugenour served, began discussions last year on ways that the town could offer conservation incentives via the property tax. Energy committees in other communities in the 4th Berkshire District have had similar conversations.

"I will take the lead in promoting legislation on Beacon Hill that empowers municipalities to use local tax mechanisms in order to be more innovative in measurably decreasing climate-warming emissions," Laugenour said. "I envision a system that would reward year over year reductions as much if not more than it would reward actual levels of low consumption. I look forward to working with municipalities and members of the public to help them make meaningful progress in conservation."

Laugenour is in a two-way race against incumbent Democrat William "Smitty' Pignatelli, which will be decided Nov. 6.

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Laugenour Preparing For At Least Three Debates
Laugenour Campaign On: 12:29PM / Thursday September 13, 2012
LENOX, Mass. — Lee Scott Laugenour said he is preparing for at least three debates with his only opponent, William "Smitty" Pignatelli, prior to the Nov. 6 election for state representative in the 4th Berkshire District.

Larry Kratka, Donna Todd Rivers and Holly Troiano have each expressed a desire to host debate forums to help educate voters. Kratka is news director of Vox Communications, which broadcasts programming on WSBS in Great
Barrington. Rivers hosts "Berkshire Viewpoint" on WBRK in Pittsfield. Troiano is on the faculty of Berkshire Hills Regional School District as a teacher of politics who often invites public officials to speak before her classes.

The Laugenour campaign has not yet received formal invitations for 2012 debates.

Voters in the 4th Berkshire District are the only ones in Berkshire County with a choice this year for whom they elect to represent them on Beacon Hill. Incumbents in other districts have faced no party primary or general election competition.

"I applaud groups who take seriously the important task of voter education," said Laugenour, who is the Green-Rainbow Party candidate. "Even non-profit groups that cannot make actual endorsements can host candidate forums and circulate candidate questionnaires on issues of concern to them as long as all ballot-qualified candidates are offered the opportunity to participate."

Laugenour has made public the questions and answers to all candidate questionnaires that he has received.

"In preparing for these debates my opponent will know in advance all of my answers to questionnaires that were posed by advocacy groups representing a wide range of political ideologies. Neither I nor anyone else in the general public knows how my opponent answered these questions," Laugenour recently told Kratka while discussing the issue of transparency on the air.

"Transparency is good politics and so is setting the example of it to a higher bar."

Willingness to debate was the issue raised in question No. 4 of the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance questionnaire, which read, "Some candidates run for public office, win, and refuse to debate their future opponents. If you are facing a challenger this election, will you publicly debate your opponent? If elected, will you pledge to publicly debate your future opponent(s) once elected?"

Answering these questions in the affirmative, Laugenour reiterated the pledge that he made in 2010, to accept all debate invitations made in good faith to all candidates appearing on the ballot.

The campaign looks forward to working with these and other sponsors who come forward. During the 2010 election, the Laugenour campaign received two debate invitations and accepted both. Rep. Pignatelli participated in only one debate with Laugenour in 2010, which was hosted by Larry Kratka and co-moderated by Clarence Fanto and Dan Valenti.


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Shein Plans $2 Potluck Fundraiser
Shein Campaign On: 03:00PM / Tuesday July 31, 2012
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Democratic congressional candidate Bill Shein released the following statement on Tuesday:

On Friday, first lady Michelle Obama will visit Western Massachusetts to attend a series of fundraisers for the president's re-election campaign. First is a $2,500-per-person event in Springfield. Then a James Taylor concert in Pittsfield, where the least expensive ticket goes for $125 (the most expensive is $10,000).

Finally, on Friday evening, Gov. Deval Patrick will host Mrs. Obama at a $20,000-per-person fundraiser at his Richmond estate. Twenty people will attend, and the event will raise $400,000. That's right: $400,000 from just 20 people.

That our Democratic Party and its candidates have come to rely so heavily on money from those who can afford such amounts, as well as large checks from the corporate PACs and lobbyists who represent interests we should be fighting against, is simply unacceptable. For too long, that money has narrowed the agenda in Washington, shifted policymaking to the right, and left us with a democracy, economy, and environment in crisis.

Over the last quarter-century, rank-and-file Democrats have been told by party leaders and longtime Democratic incumbents that our party needs to raise corporate money, and accept large checks from lobbyists and wealthy individuals, if we're to win elections.

But don't worry, we've been told, because all that money won't impact the Democratic Party's ability to stand up for working people, create a fair economy, do what's necessary on the environment, or advance the political reform that will make our democracy work for everyone.

Well, it hasn't turned out that way.

American democracy is rotting from the inside, drowning in corporate money, lobbyist money, and large checks from a tiny fraction of our society. Compared to other major democracies, voter participation here is shockingly low. Our economy is unfair, unjust, unworkable, and unsustainable. And on the environment, catastrophic climate change becomes more likely with each passing day, yet the massive action required to address it is not being discussed in this election year.

This way of doing things simply can't continue.

I'm running for Congress because we need Democrats who will speak out against this unacceptable status quo, and not offer the shrugs, excuses, and rationalizations so common among those incumbent Democrats who refuse to do anything to change it.

That's why on Friday evening I will host a few friends and supporters at my house for a "$2 Per Person Pot Luck Dinner for Democracy." Each attendee will bring a dish that serves four-to-six people, so we should be amply fed while discussing how to advance public financing of elections, universal voter registration, jobs programs to put unemployed Americans to work right now, a freeze on all foreclosures, increasing taxes on the wealthy and global corporations, and massive action on climate change that begins by passing the "Save Our Climate Act" to put a price on carbon pollution.

Of course, to raise $400,000 at just $2 per person would mean inviting 200,000 people to the modest house I rent in Alford. The last time we had that many people over (for the "Seinfeld" finale, maybe?) we were cleaning up for weeks. I vowed never to do that again. So this time we're keeping it small ...

While everyone understands the need to raise money for campaigns, it's long past time to elect Democrats who know we have to radically change our campaign-finance system. And fast. We simply can't continue down this road of a "democracy" funded substantially by a narrow, wealthy, and corporate elite – a problem that existed long before the Citizens United decision.

Indeed, we've already gone too far down that road. The results are painfully obvious to millions of struggling American families who lost jobs, homes, and retirement savings in the latest economic meltdown and who know the response from Washington has been wholly inadequate. They don't have $125 or $2,500 or $20,000 to donate to a political candidate.

In my view, ideas and candidates should sink or swim on the merits, not how much money is behind them. That's the promise of public financing of elections, and that's why I will champion that necessary reform, and many others, in the United States Congress.


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