Amherst Canvassing Director Says She Was Fired For Supporting Her Staff
Apr23

Amherst Canvassing Director Says She Was Fired For Supporting Her Staff

The former director of the Amherst office of for-profit organization Grassroots Campaigns Inc., which raises money for progressive nonprofit organizations, says her employment was terminated earlier this month after she instituted policies she believed supported her staff through harsh working conditions as street canvassers. And the majority of those who worked for her followed her out the door, substantially reducing the size of the...

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Editorial: Human Support for Striking Stop & Shop Workers
Apr17

Editorial: Human Support for Striking Stop & Shop Workers

Since Thursday, April 11, Stop & Shop workers have been on strike, picketing what their union says is an unfair contract deal with owners of the grocery store chain. Hanging in the background of this dispute is one of the great demons of employment today — robots. Tyrone C. Housey, president of the Springfield-based United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1459, which represents local Stop & Shop workers, named automated...

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Woman accuses Hadley Police of discrimination, mishandling her case
Apr10

Woman accuses Hadley Police of discrimination, mishandling her case

The first time Carmen Allison’s things were taken from a storage unit at Stuff-It Storage in Hadley was in the summer of 2015. She had recently lost her job as a caretaker in Amherst and was away for a few months to look for work in New Jersey. She reported the items missing to the office and the manager gave her a new lock. But a short time later, her unit was robbed again. When she went to the police to report the crime, however,...

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Editorial: Policing the Police in Springfield
Apr03

Editorial: Policing the Police in Springfield

Last week, 14 Springfield police officers were indicted by a Worcester-based grand jury. It was in connection with a 2015 alleged assault on four people following a disagreement at a city bar. Some are charged with assault and battery, and others for covering it up. Since then, Western Mass News has reported that several of the indicted officers have had additional complaints against them since 2015, one of which includes being...

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Clueless Parent: The Ancient Art of Anger Management
Mar27

Clueless Parent: The Ancient Art of Anger Management

I got an email from a PR firm this week with the subject line: “The Epidemic of Extreme Parenting: How to Self-Assess.” I would say it was an interesting coincidence that it appeared just before the launch of this column, but it isn’t really. When I became a dad early in 2017, I saw immediately how pressure comes from all sides to be the “perfect parent.” This has been true for me, but it seems even more so for the moms I know — my...

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Editorial: Compassion Needs to Cut Through the Distractions with Gun Deaths
Mar27

Editorial: Compassion Needs to Cut Through the Distractions with Gun Deaths

Following the Parkland shooting last year, I was inspired by the activism of many of the student survivors, who marched to their state capital and lobbied Washington for gun control. The Advocate did a story about how those students were inspiring students in our own region to become active on the issue. But the news from the past couple of weeks has really brought home the much more devastating, lasting effects of these mass...

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‘From Farms to Table’ exhibition in Northfield celebrates land, bird, and beast
Mar22

‘From Farms to Table’ exhibition in Northfield celebrates land, bird, and beast

For the past year or so, the Deerfield Valley Art Association has had a gallery and gift shop at 105 Main Street in Northfield. Particularly at this time of year, downtown Northfield may offer more to those driving through than those who actually stop and walk around. Northfield Creamie isn’t serving ice cream yet. Highland BBQ remains closed for the season. And the old churches and historic buildings seem made for driving by as you...

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Editorial: Still At It After 45 Years
Mar20

Editorial: Still At It After 45 Years

Astute readers will no doubt observe the “plus” sign after the number 45 on this week’s cover. That is us coming clean that, no, this is not exactly our 45th anniversary issue. We wanted to bring you something like Chris Goudreau’s vast history of the Advocate found in this week’s edition, but in September of last year on the Advocate’s actual 45th anniversary. Unfortunately, that date was about two months after a major...

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Anti-Racism Now: Chipping away at racism by talking face to face
Mar13

Anti-Racism Now: Chipping away at racism by talking face to face

“One of my first memories of discrimination was when I was 10 or so,” said Gloria Graves Holmes, one of two co-facilitators of the Bridge 4 Unity project. “When I was standing on a corner, getting ready to cross the street, a white man drove by me and screamed ‘Go back to Africa!’ I never saw him again, but that moment resonated.” An echo of that moment occurred years later, when she and her family were moving into their dream home on...

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Bizarro Briefs: A Year of Free Taco Bell
Mar13

Bizarro Briefs: A Year of Free Taco Bell

A year of free Taco Bell We have an update regarding the man and his dog featured in last week’s Bizarro Briefs who survived five days in a car in the snow on nothing but Taco Bell Fire Sauce packets. Taco Bell this week released an odd statement, both announcing that they are giving the man “a well-deserved care package,” — free Taco Bell for a year — and also seeming to take credit for the man’s survival. “We know our sauce packets...

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Editorial: Massachusetts must consider supervised drug consumption sites
Mar06

Editorial: Massachusetts must consider supervised drug consumption sites

This past week, the state Legislature’s Harm Reduction Commission — the advisory group looking at solutions to the drug epidemic — released its report. As expected, the commission, which is made up of current and former drug users as well as doctors, government officials and experts in law enforcement, is pushing strongly for supervised consumption sites. Supervised consumption sites are basically places people can go to take drugs,...

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Editorial: The ABCs of the #FakeNationalEmergency
Feb27

Editorial: The ABCs of the #FakeNationalEmergency

It was, to put it mildly, an act of moral turpitude and callous disregard for the suffering of separated families and victims of violence when President Donald Trump announced he would be circumventing Congress to declare a national emergency that, by his own admission, is unnecessary. The fact that he did it three days after Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and one week before George Washington’s birthday — presidents who faced true...

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Mythic Women: The dolls of Turners artist Belinda Lyons Zucker
Feb26

Mythic Women: The dolls of Turners artist Belinda Lyons Zucker

“The coming months will be a more favorable time than usual to boost feminine authority and enhance women’s ability to shape our shared reality.” So says Rob Brezsny’s Free Will Astrology column this week under the entry for Taurus. Whether or not she believes in astrology (and whether or not she’s a Taurus), Turners Falls artist Belinda Lyons Zucker is fulfilling that prediction with her exhibit of clay and cloth doll figures at the...

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Bizarro Briefs: Nazi Art Not a Winner
Feb15

Bizarro Briefs: Nazi Art Not a Winner

Nazi art not a winner Adolf Hitler can’t seem to catch a break. First, his quest for world domination hit a snag in the 1940s when the Allies defeated him in World War II, and now, no one wants watercolor paintings attributed to him. None of the five paintings believed to be painted by him received a bid at a German auction this week. Some believe that this is because the paintings are suspected fakes. But others just don’t think they...

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Editorial: Back in the Weekly Swing
Feb14

Editorial: Back in the Weekly Swing

Excitement. Elation. Eagerness. Those were the emotions that bubbled up when I got the news that the Advocate would be returning to a weekly schedule, and that after six months performing other roles in the company I was being asked to return as its editor. What you now hold in your hands (online readers will have to imagine this) is the last of the Advocate’s biweekly issues. Also, after a stint going purely arts and entertainment,...

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Editorial: Vote for Chelsea Kline for State Senate on Sept. 4
Jul29

Editorial: Vote for Chelsea Kline for State Senate on Sept. 4

So often with candidates running for public office, one must rest the decision to vote for them primarily on their words. In her short political career as a candidate for state Senate, however, Chelsea Kline has amassed some impressive actions. Kline is running in the Sept. 4 Democratic primary to replace former Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, who resigned following censure by an independent ethics investigation. Kline will be the...

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State organization calls for 100 percent renewable energy in Massachusetts by 2035
Jul24

State organization calls for 100 percent renewable energy in Massachusetts by 2035

For Ben Hellerstein, state director of advocacy organization Environment Massachusetts, the state is moving in a good direction with regard to renewable energy, but it needs to do more. “Even being number one is not enough,” he said, adding that Massachusetts is ranked seventh in the nation for new solar projects and first for energy efficiency. Hellerstein was among the speakers at the Hitchcock Center in Amherst on Tuesday, July 24,...

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Parents bring their small children to rally at Greenfield jail and ICE facility opposing family separation practices
Jul20

Parents bring their small children to rally at Greenfield jail and ICE facility opposing family separation practices

Two days after the state Legislature removed a set of provisions in its budget that would have protected immigrants in Massachusetts, a group of activists met in front of an immigrant detainment center in Greenfield to sing songs and demand an end to cruel treatment of immigrant families. More than 50 people participated in the action, which took place at 11 a.m. Friday, July 20, at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and jail...

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Massachusetts high court provides cover for those who want to stop you from voting
Jul17

Massachusetts high court provides cover for those who want to stop you from voting

Sometimes living in deep blue Massachusetts can feel comforting when observing the daily horror show that now passes for our federal government. A case in point: as the U.S. Senate edges toward nominating President Donald Trump’s second arch-conservative Supreme Court pick, who could seriously endanger the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, the Massachusetts House is working to pass a bill to protect abortion rights in...

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Evolution of a Star: Dwight Pogue’s retrospective at Smith College Museum of Art
Jul17

Evolution of a Star: Dwight Pogue’s retrospective at Smith College Museum of Art

Printmaker and Smith College art professor Dwight Pogue is retiring and he’s having quite a send off. His opus, if you will, is called Flowering Stars and is on view at The Smith College Museum of Art. Pogue’s collection is a retrospective of his lithographs and screenprints over almost 40 years at Smith College, and it’s something to behold. ; and his changing styles are evident from the samples taken from his portfolio between the...

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Bizarro briefs: A waking nightmare
Jul13

Bizarro briefs: A waking nightmare

A waking nightmare Don’t you hate it when you wake up to find a six-foot-long snake has fallen from the ceiling into your bed? An Albany-area man certainly did. He called the police in a panicked state after finding himself next to a red-tailed boa constrictor. The boa, it turned out, was the pet of the tenant above him and had escaped from its enclosure. It then fell through the floor and into the man’s bed. After the ordeal, the...

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Springfield celebration honors students who earned their high school equivalency
Jun29

Springfield celebration honors students who earned their high school equivalency

In the midst of the season of high school graduations, a group of dedicated students who had failed to get through high school the first time around earned recognition for passing their high school equivalency test, known as the HiSET, at the Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) Adult Learning Center. Among those present during the ceremony on Tuesday, June 26, was Morgan LaBelle, 26, of Feeding Hills in Agawam. She said she...

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Editorial: A Supremely Bad Decision
Jun28

Editorial: A Supremely Bad Decision

They say that elections have consequences. This is one of the terrible ones. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement on Wednesday, June 27, effective the end of July. With Donald Trump in the Oval Office, and control of the Senate in the hands of Republican lackeys ready to bend to his every whim — and the decision Senate Republicans made last year to eliminate the need for 60 votes to confirm judicial...

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Activists with children in their arms protest family separations at Springfield ICE office
Jun28

Activists with children in their arms protest family separations at Springfield ICE office

In an effort to combat families being torn apart through American immigration policy, activists with the Pioneer Valley activist network supporting undocumented immigrants called Sanctuary in the Streets came with their children to a small rally at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office in Springfield. Sienna Baskin, an immigrant rights attorney who lives in Northampton, brought her daughter to the event, held Thursday,...

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Lucio Perez, himself separated from his family, to call for humanity at the border with Congressman McGovern
Jun22

Lucio Perez, himself separated from his family, to call for humanity at the border with Congressman McGovern

Congressman James McGovern, D-Worcester, and undocumented immigrant Lucio Perez, who is taking sanctuary at the First Congressional Church in Amherst, will make a joint call to end inhumane practices at the U.S.-Mexico border on Saturday. “President Trump’s policy of separating children from their parents is cruel, it is un-American, and it is evil,” McGovern said in a written statement. “There is no law requiring...

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Haymarket owner, who raised pay, ended tipping in 2015, praises minimum wage legislation
Jun21

Haymarket owner, who raised pay, ended tipping in 2015, praises minimum wage legislation

While the Legislature was debating raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour in a ‘grand bargain’ bill passed by the House and Senate on Wednesday, Haymarket Cafe owner Peter Simpson was increasing his lowest paid workers wages to $15.50. Simpson announced a few years ago that he would increase the minimum wages of his workers to a living wage. He said he applauded the Legislature’s decision to do the...

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‘Grand bargain’ $15 minimum wage bill passed by Legislature
Jun20

‘Grand bargain’ $15 minimum wage bill passed by Legislature

The Massachusetts House has unveiled and quickly passed a long-awaited “grand bargain” bill aimed at keeping citizen petitions off the ballot this year, including measures supporting a $15 minimum wage, paid family and medical leave, and sales tax adjustments. Later on Wednesday, the bill passed the Senate with no amendments, meaning it will go to Gov. Charlie Baker for a signature. Both houses passed the bill with veto-proof...

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Massachusetts high court quashes democracy in decision on Fair Share Amendment
Jun19

Massachusetts high court quashes democracy in decision on Fair Share Amendment

The state’s Supreme Judicial Court did an extreme disservice to voters this week, taking away the potential to vote on the popular “Fair Share Amendment,” which would have created a 4 percent tax on the wealthy and used the money for education and transportation funding. Rather than let the voters decide, the court stripped the provision off the ballot on a technicality, basically stating that the wording might confuse voters because...

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Can Legal Marijuana Snuff Out the Black Market?
Jun19

Can Legal Marijuana Snuff Out the Black Market?

The long-awaited moment is nearly here: marijuana will be legal to sell in the state of Massachusetts as of July 1 — with a license. But a question that has arisen for many long-term users of marijuana is: what is going to happen to the unlicensed, illegal marijuana black market. Many believe it’s here to stay. No licenses have yet been granted by the state or are likely to be by July 1, and longtime users and dealers alike argue that...

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Editorial: Zero tolerance for U.S. ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy
Jun19

Editorial: Zero tolerance for U.S. ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy

I’m angry these days. I try to hide it as best I can, but the piling up of atrocities committed by the Trump administration is taking its toll, and I doubt I’m the only one concealing a bubbling rage as I go about my day. But the recently-implemented “zero tolerance” policy that has resulted in just shy of 2,000 children being taken from their parents from the border during a six-week period from April to May — and probably many more...

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Northampton resident and lifelong activist Rose ‘Arky’ Markham dies at 102
Jun14

Northampton resident and lifelong activist Rose ‘Arky’ Markham dies at 102

Some sad community and activism news — longtime political activist Rose “Arky” Markham passed away earlier this week. Sad in that she passed away, but among the things she has left behind are the results of a life well-spent, as can be seen in her obituary. I got the chance to interview Markham and attend her 100th birthday celebration, a packed house full of change-makers, activists and political figures alike. I...

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O Cannabis: Support grows for bipartisan weed legislation leaving federal law up to states
Jun12

O Cannabis: Support grows for bipartisan weed legislation leaving federal law up to states

Local marijuana businesses — and federal legislators — are supporting bipartisan legislation that would leave marijuana regulation up to the states, a change from the blanket federal prohibition now in place. That’s a positive sign for Easthampton resident Karima Rizk, whose dream of opening a local cannabis cafe has been stifled both by state and federal laws. “I think it’s great news and it’s showing there is an increasing level of...

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Police: JFK gun incident suspect claims he was picking up a friend for target practice
Jun08

Police: JFK gun incident suspect claims he was picking up a friend for target practice

In a statement released on Facebook on Friday morning, Northampton Police Chief Jody Kasper wrote that the suspect arrested at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Northampton after allegedly bringing two pellet guns onto the campus said he was there to pick up a friend and go target shooting. The man , Matthew Borsuk, 27, of Florence, was seen removing a long-barreled rifle from the trunk of his car, and police were called at 2:10 p.m....

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Warren, Gardner introduce bipartisan bill to let states regulate marijuana for themselves
Jun07

Warren, Gardner introduce bipartisan bill to let states regulate marijuana for themselves

In a show of bipartisan support for clarity around marijuana laws, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado held a joint press conference about a bill they are sponsoring to allow states to make their own decisions regarding marijuana legislation. Massachusetts and Colorado are two of a growing number of states to have legalized recreational use of marijuana, and Warren said that...

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Holyoke Children’s Museum adds 2,000-piece Pez display to collection
Jun06

Holyoke Children’s Museum adds 2,000-piece Pez display to collection

Over 15 boxes of Pez candy and accessories were shipped to the Children’s Museum at Holyoke just weeks ago. Susan Kelley, executive director of the museum, mounted a third of them onto the wall in the middle of the bustling chaos. She said she is glad the museum can display the Pez collection. “Just the whole concept that adults and kids would like it equally for different reasons, I thought it was the perfect fit,” Kelley said. The...

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