Editorial: 2018 Should Be The Year Massachusetts Moves Toward Single Payer
Jan16

Editorial: 2018 Should Be The Year Massachusetts Moves Toward Single Payer

I recently got my first pay stub of the year. I was curious to see how the Republican tax plan would affect me, if at all, but it turns out that none of us will see the results until February. So stay tuned. One thing I did notice, however, is that (surprise!) my contribution to the health insurance plan is going up. Over the course of 2017, I paid $4,723.94 toward health insurance for my family, and this year it will top $4,800....

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Editorial: Lawsuit may help recovery of those affected by opioid addiction
Jan08

Editorial: Lawsuit may help recovery of those affected by opioid addiction

Treating America’s opioid addiction crisis is, tragically, creating a growth industry that provides long-term intervention and treatment for millions of our fellow citizens. But who is going to pay the tab? Families? Insurance companies? State, local and federal governments? Big Pharma has a responsibility and will join the list, especially if many of the nation’s cities and states have their way, in court. Greenfield has become the...

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Editorial: Taking Up Running to Slow Down
Jan02

Editorial: Taking Up Running to Slow Down

I’m in my mid-30s, and “getting fit” is something I think about more now. It took me a long time to come around on the idea of exercise for exercise sake — but it has become something that I actually enjoy (even if I don’t do it as often as I should). In middle school, if memory serves, I was literally the last person to finish our required “mile run” in gym class. I don’t remember my time, but I remember walking for most of the...

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Editorial: We’re Talking Horns upon Horns, Horns within Horns …
Dec26

Editorial: We’re Talking Horns upon Horns, Horns within Horns …

As we continue the Valley Advocate tradition of awarding halos to the good and horns to the bad in 2017, I reflect on the year’s ups and downs. It didn’t take long to realize that a lot of the “downs” had something in common – they originated with President (for now) Donald Trump. As the hands-down biggest horns-earner of 2017, Trump is getting his own special section for an extended airing of grievances. We don’t have the space to...

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Editorial: The Nuclear Option is Not an Option
Dec18

Editorial: The Nuclear Option is Not an Option

North Korea’s steps toward accelerating its nuclear program and testing its missiles has been truly horrifying. So has President Donald Trump’s response, with threats to release “fire and fury” upon North Korea. Nuclear devastation is one of the gravest threats we face as a species, as has long been pointed out by the likes of linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky. Albert Einstein, one of the incredibly irresponsible scientists who...

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Editorial: There Goes the Internet
Dec11

Editorial: There Goes the Internet

Let me start by saying that I would avoid the internet if I could. It is creepy to think about huge corporations tracking each page I visit, and, potentially through my smartphone, actually physically tracking me wherever I go. Social media interactions are a far cry from person-to-person interactions. Even the information we get online is suspect and often biased. But the truth is that I can’t avoid it. Just as in the past our urban...

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Editorial: Take Northampton’s Pledge for Human Dignity
Dec04

Editorial: Take Northampton’s Pledge for Human Dignity

During now-President Donald Trump’s hateful and divisive campaign, Northampton’s Human Rights Commission noted anecdotally how even in this Western Massachusetts community, there seemed to be an increase in racism, sexism, and anti-semitism, spurred on by Trump’s nationalistic and bullying rhetoric. Now, nearly one year into Trump’s hateful and divisive presidency, the commission is launching a campaign to bring people together and...

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Editorial: Gateway Regional has some explaining to do in exclusion of LGBT grad
Nov27

Editorial: Gateway Regional has some explaining to do in exclusion of LGBT grad

Each year, Gateway Regional High School in Huntington holds an event welcoming back alumni to share their experiences about college and post-graduate life. This year, however, the event was closed to one graduate: Marcelle LaBrecque, who spent 12 years in the Gateway Regional district, earned a degree in 2014, and is now living in New York City pursuing a career in musical theater. LaBrecque, who prefers being referred to as “they”...

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Editorial: Oh, you’re a spouse abuser? No guns for you.
Nov20

Editorial: Oh, you’re a spouse abuser? No guns for you.

Gun control. It’s a topic that rarely gets any traction at the federal level, even after the most devastating and horrific mass shootings. After the Sandy Hook shooting, which resulted in the deaths of 20 children: nothing. After Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, the deadliest shooting in American history when it happened in on June 12, 2016 (49 killed, two of whom had ties to the Pioneer Valley): nothing. Last month, less than a year and a...

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The Best Opportunity Yet to Resist Trump
Nov13

The Best Opportunity Yet to Resist Trump

Last week featured two news stories that rocked the political landscape in this country. The first was that Democrats and progressive candidates all but swept the Nov. 7 elections from coast to coast, and the second was that Republican Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore was accused of pedophilia. That combination makes the special election for the Alabama Senate, which will take place only weeks from now on Dec. 12, a real shot...

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Being a Man in the Era of #Metoo
Nov06

Being a Man in the Era of #Metoo

Over the past few weeks, I’ve watched the #metoo tweets and posts make their way through my social media feeds, and I’ve read the articles and stories, mostly from women, about how they have been subjected to sexual abuse and harassment. They bring about mixed emotions in me: sadness that so many close friends and family members have been touched by abuse; anger at the depths to which sexual harassment is embedded in our society;...

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Election Time! Yep, They Happen in Non-Presidential Years, Too
Oct30

Election Time! Yep, They Happen in Non-Presidential Years, Too

November has rolled around again, and no it’s not a presidential election year. But there are important elections both here and in other parts of the country this week you should be paying attention to. Since Donald Trump was elected president just about a year ago (ugh), he has tried to ban Muslims from coming into the country, fired his own FBI director because of a growing investigation into his campaign’s Russian connection,...

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Between The Lines: Local TV Stations Have Abandoned Their Journalistic Integrity
Oct23

Between The Lines: Local TV Stations Have Abandoned Their Journalistic Integrity

As a newspaper journalist who cares deeply about good, necessary and morally grounded journalism, I must decry a recent trend of sleazy, tabloid-like reporting I now frequently see from trusted local television news stations: the act of sharing irrelevant articles, often about minorities who’ve committed horrific crimes, to increase website traffic. In other words, click-bait (often racially charged) from (previously) reputable...

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Between the Lines: Immigrant abuse – Where’s the outrage, Happy Valley?
Oct16

Between the Lines: Immigrant abuse – Where’s the outrage, Happy Valley?

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey recently slapped five Valley restaurants with about $17,000 in penalties for paying workers less than minimum wage, violating the state’s Earned Sick Time law and other violations of regulations meant to keep workers from financial exploitation. It’s about time. But is it enough? The sanctions came a year after the Daily Hampshire Gazette published “Under the Table,” an investigation into...

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Editor Kristin Palpini’s Advocate Farewell: Riding Off Into The Sunset, Y’all
Oct09

Editor Kristin Palpini’s Advocate Farewell: Riding Off Into The Sunset, Y’all

It’s been real, but it’s time for me to be moving on. I’ve stepped down as editor to pursue other writing opportunities and I’m looking forward to getting back into reporting on, rather than assigning, stories. Reporting is how I got my start in the business back in 2003 at the Advocate’s sister pub, the Daily Hampshire Gazette. Good God, what can I say about 15 years with the same company, the last three of them leading the Valley...

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How to Help Puerto Rico while Trump Golfs
Oct02

How to Help Puerto Rico while Trump Golfs

Ripped apart by Hurricane Maria about two weeks ago, Puerto Rico is suffering from a severe lack of food, water, medicine, and shelter. Only 5 percent of the nation has electricity, according to the Associated Press. Federal aid is slow to arrive, people on the island say. On Sept. 27, CNN reported that more than 10,000 containers of supplies were sitting on the docks in San Juan unable to get to people in need due to damaged roads, a...

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Between the Lines: Honoring Beloved Activist Jafet Robles
Sep25

Between the Lines: Honoring Beloved Activist Jafet Robles

At St. John’s Congregational Church in Springfield more than 200 people mourned the loss of well-known and beloved activist and community leader Jafet Robles. Robles, 33, was involved with Neighbor to Neighbor and other groups with initiatives to end mass incarceration. For close to two hours the line of people stretching out the door was nearly constant as people made their way to the open casket with tears in their eyes. Robles was...

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Sanctuary in the Streets a Growing and Vital Movement
Sep18

Sanctuary in the Streets a Growing and Vital Movement

A Pioneer Valley activist network to support local undocumented immigrants — Sanctuary in the Streets — went into action this week to accompany Springfield resident Lucio Enrique Perez Ortiz on his check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. Perez, who has lived and worked in the United States nearly 20 years and has a wife and four children — three of whom are U.S. citizens in Springfield public schools — is...

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Between The Lines: Massachusetts Reps Should Get With Arnold to Terminate Gerrymandering
Sep11

Between The Lines: Massachusetts Reps Should Get With Arnold to Terminate Gerrymandering

Not in a million years would I have predicted the Governator would be the one to kickstart a campaign to stop the legal election-rigging scheme used to weaken the voting power of one political power over another, aka gerrymandering, but here we are. I am less surprised that Massachusetts has yet to get on board with tearing down this cynical barrier to democracy. After all, the Bay State gave birth to gerrymandering. I’ll try to...

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Between The Lines: Will Greenfield Get Hooked Up Like The Shea?
Sep05

Between The Lines: Will Greenfield Get Hooked Up Like The Shea?

Forty years ago, the Shea Theater building in downtown Turners Falls was a shell about to collapse in on itself. But Montague leaders saw the building’s potential to boost the village’s economic fortunes and acquired the Shea. With help from grants, Montague rejuvenated the Avenue A landmark into the small downtown arts and cultural engine it has been since the 1980s. In the past few years, a new Shea Theater board of directors has...

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Actually, Let’s Talk About Renaming Amherst
Aug28

Actually, Let’s Talk About Renaming Amherst

Since the violence in Charlottesville (and Donald Trump’s equivocal response), much more attention is being paid to a topic that sparked the white supremacist August rally — taking down historical monuments and changing names that many people find offensive and even oppressive. That discussion is playing out in communities everywhere, and the Valley is no exception. Most recently, Belchertown resident William Bowen suggested...

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Between the Lines: UMass,  Adopt A Rape Survivors Bill of Rights
Aug21

Between the Lines: UMass, Adopt A Rape Survivors Bill of Rights

While interviewing organizers of student-led college activist groups at UMass Amherst, Smith College, and Amherst College, I learned about the Coalition to End Rape Culture (CERC) at UMass , a campus group founded by survivors of sexual assault that is calling on the university to implement better policies to support victims of intimate violence. The Coalition to End Rape, alongside other groups such as Carry That Weight, Know Your...

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Trump Graduates From Unpleasant To Un-American
Aug14

Trump Graduates From Unpleasant To Un-American

It’s gotten beyond name-calling at this point. When Paul Krugman of the New York Times calls Donald Trump “not a real American,” he now has solid facts backing him up. Krugman’s Monday morning column, titled, “When The President Is Un-American,” lays out a convincing, point-by-point argument that Donald Trump holds the highest office in a land whose ideals he does not share. Over the weekend, Trump crossed yet another line in his...

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Hey Boss, Is Being a Woman Holding Me Back?
Aug07

Hey Boss, Is Being a Woman Holding Me Back?

I have a confession to make: I’ve always worried about being underpaid. This concern has been present whether working for a supportive company or fast food joints. Why? Because I’m a woman aware of the U.S. wage statistics that say there’s a good chance I am being paid less for my work than men in similar employment situations. On a national average, women earn 73 cents for every dollar a man earns, according to the Pew Research...

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Trump Lashes Out At LGBTQ Community As His Presidency Crumbles
Jul28

Trump Lashes Out At LGBTQ Community As His Presidency Crumbles

Following attacks on Muslims, refugees, immigrants, and the country of Cuba over the last several months, LGBTQ people became the latest group to be scapegoated by President Donald Trump and members of his administration this week. First came the announcement — by tweet — that trans individuals would no longer be allowed to serve in the military. The next day, the U.S. Justice Department — headed by Trump appointee Jeff Sessions —...

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Between the Lines: What’s Another $1,000 on Top of Tuition?
Jul24

Between the Lines: What’s Another $1,000 on Top of Tuition?

The cost of a University of Massachusetts Amherst education has increased on average by more than $1,000 each year for the past three years. This, in a world where most working people can expect a 2 -percent cost-of-living raise — if that. In the summer of 2015, the increase brought the cost of UMass Amherst up above $25,000 for the first time — from $24,215 the previous academic year. With the past week’s 3-percent increase, the cost...

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Between the Lines: Peacefully Resisting ICE Raids
Jul17

Between the Lines: Peacefully Resisting ICE Raids

Western Massachusetts advocacy groups know that there are many in immigrant communities living in fear of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids and arrests, and over the course of this year have been working to do something about it — particularly in light of President Donald Trump’s stances on immigration. Groups including the Pioneer Valley Workers Center and Jobs with Justice have begun training people to be part of a...

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Between the Lines: Frances Crowe Has The Right Idea
Jul10

Between the Lines: Frances Crowe Has The Right Idea

In the small Berkshire County town of Sandisfield, there’s a battle being waged over public lands and environmental concerns stemming from a natural gas pipeline being installed in Otis State Forest. More than 30 protesters have been arrested this year for trespassing on an easement granted to Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan, for construction of its $93 million Connecticut Expansion Project that would run...

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We Got Our -ERN Back, Now How Bout That $80,000
Jun30

We Got Our -ERN Back, Now How Bout That $80,000

Four months ago, then-Advocate arts editor Hunter Styles wrote an excellent take-down of the hugely unpopular ad campaign trying to rebrand our region with the name “West Mass.” The heart of it was a list of questions about a dizzying, poorly-thought-out video released along with the brand name — among them “Did it really need to cost $80,000 and take 11 months to decide to take the letters “-ern” off the existing name?” This week,...

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How To Cut Unemployment — No, Really
Jun19

How To Cut Unemployment — No, Really

Whether you’re a 20-something fresh out of college looking for work or near retirement age and can’t find a job at your skill level, the trials and tribulations of unemployment are very real. It’s an issue that most people face in their adult lives and an age old problem without an easy solutions. Finding a job can be especially challenging if you have a criminal record. In the city of Holyoke, a local advocacy group, Neighbor to...

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Should You Give Money to Panhandlers?
Jun12

Should You Give Money to Panhandlers?

When a Holyoke City Councilor said, at a public meeting, “Don’t feed the animals,” in regard to homeless panhandlers, I figured I had a good idea for a fiery column defending people who beg for a living. It is vile to call any person an “animal” in a dehumanizing way — that’s not up for debate: everyone has worth. But did he have a point, underneath that craven misunderstanding of poverty, about not giving money to people with their...

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Now Fulfilling The Provisions of the Paris Agreement Is Up To Us
Jun02

Now Fulfilling The Provisions of the Paris Agreement Is Up To Us

It probably shouldn’t have been a surprise. Donald Trump ran a campaign based on denying climate science, so his Thursday announcement that he would be pulling out of the international climate agreement represents a promise fulfilled. But the advantage of having a president who was elected by a minority of voters (3 million less than Hillary Clinton) is that the majority of the voting public actually disagrees with the policies Trump...

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Working Against Bad Political Actors Is Not Bias — It’s Journalism
May30

Working Against Bad Political Actors Is Not Bias — It’s Journalism

Well, it has happened again. Another person who appears to be a sociopath caught in an act of hatred has been elevated to a position of power in our government. And this despite what we must call an alleged (though it was caught on tape and corroborated at the scene) attack against a reporter. This election, much like Trump’s election, has brought to mind the role of the journalist. Why do we put ourselves in situations where we could...

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Between The Lines: Trans Allies Needed More Than Ever
May22

Between The Lines: Trans Allies Needed More Than Ever

Last week I interviewed an organizer with the “I’ll Go With You” campaign, which sells buttons trans allies can wear to show they are willing to go into a public restroom with a trans man or woman to help keep them safe. That may seem like an extraordinary step to take, but with violence against trans people higher than ever and on the rise, it is an important role an ally of trans people can play. As a cisgender heterosexual...

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Addiction Response Milestone: Spike In Local ODs Non-Fatal
May15

Addiction Response Milestone: Spike In Local ODs Non-Fatal

An unprecedented cluster of drug overdoses in Northampton late last month tested the city’s first responders. Their preparation — including training in the use of Narcan — helped prevent any fatalities. As the abuse of prescription and illegal opioids continues to plague the Valley, state and nation, the response has become more sophisticated and effective. That is largely due to emergency networks such as the one established in...

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