Friday, March 29



{Monday April 1st 2013 6:30pm. Town Hall}


          There’s a trial on Monday and I’m not the one on trial. I’m like a prop in a play and I don’t yet know if it’s a comedy or a tragedy. The finance committee is on trial. The town is on trial. Democracy is on trial. Monday night we will decide what kind of town we will live in. Are we a democracy or are we an oligarchy? Do we want to be ruled by a small group of reactionaries or rule ourselves through a democratic process? We have the opportunity to put ourselves back on track.

          Some people are giving me kudos for doing something that needed to be done. I didn’t do anything. I simply voiced something that needed to be spoken. I put my ear to the ground and heard what people have been whispering for a long time. What people thought but dared not say. Don’t look at me, look within yourselves. WE HAVE THE POWER IN OUR HANDS. We are a democracy. Every vote is equal and none are more equal than others. The only vote that doesn’t count is the vote that isn’t cast.

          There is a small group of people trying to keep the power out of the hands of the people. The only way to stop them is to take the power back. We diminish our power when we don’t voice our opinion. We relinquish our power when we don’t vote. The only way this small group of people can win is if we are either too afraid or too apathetic to exercise our rights. Monday night we have a chance to tell this small group of people that we are taking back our town.

          Monday night will be either a rallying point or place of death. This trial is not about me or my blog it’s about our way of life. Our town government is set up with checks and balances. The Board of Selectmen serves an advisory role; but its primary function is to administer the will of the people as expressed at the annual town meeting. The Finance committee is an advisory role as well. Its function is to keep a check on the financial aspects of the town; the guardian of the purse. The police department is there to keep law and order. But the legislative branch of our government is vested only in the people. We have to get back on track and Monday night is the night to do it.      

Kevin Zurrin

Thursday, March 21



If the BoS does actually hold a hearing to remove a finance committee member based on these false allegations it will set an important precedent for future policy. This would give the BoS the ability to manipulate the investigative powers of the finance committee. The finance committee or any of its members could be reluctant to examine particular issues or persons for fear of repercussions. Putting this power in the hands of the BoS would hamper the ability of the finance committee to do its duty. I have been making light of the situation, but it really is serious. These people believe that they can get away with this because they don’t think anyone has the guts to stand against them. I think they’re wrong. We have to ask ourselves what we are going to do about it. Are we going to just let it unfold or are we going to finally get outraged enough to do something about it.

At this point the BoS is planning to set up a bogus committee to remove an appointed finance committee member. Since at least two, out of this group of five, are the accusers it seems to be a bit biased; but you can decide. Since we the people direct the policy of the town, we should set up an equitable procedure for removing an appointed committee member; not an angry group of selectmen. If we do need a mechanism to remove a committee member for cause, then we should set it up correctly. The BoS or even the finance committee may need an independent panel to oversee this process; in case they ever do need to remove someone. A complaint would be filed and this panel could determine if the charges are legitimate and if removal is warranted. Then there should be an appeal process to keep the process fair for the accused. After all we are a country founded on the rule of law and due process.

I usually don’t do this since it is such an inconvenience to those being called. However, because this is such an important issue for the future of our town, I would like to ask you the people to weigh in on this matter. Most of you have read what I’ve written. You know I have never accused anyone of malfeasance. You know I have never slandered anyone. Yet these people went on the record accusing me of these things. There is no evidence in my writings to support their accusations; yet they keep chanting that I am guilty. Do they believe that if they keep repeating the mantra that it will somehow become true?

If you think the Selectmen are overstepping their bounds then I would ask you to call them and tell them unequivocally that they are wrong to remove a member in this manner. The process of checks and balances’ hangs in the balance. Call the town hall or email your selectmen and express your outrage over this abuse of power. The complete contact information can be found at this link Telephone: (413) 528-0182 X 10. Fax : (413) 528-5465  If the calls are too many, Mary may put her phone on voice mail; if so just leave a message. If you get a busy signal it means there is a lot of outrage, so keep calling to express yours. I would also appreciate if you could express your support by leaving a comment in the comment section saying “I agree” or simply click reply to my email, express your support and it will be kept private. I thank you for your support.

Tuesday, March 19


          Well the BoS insists on going forward with the removal of this rogue finance committee member. They are going to hold a “fair and impartial” public hearing on the matter. I haven’t received the charging documents so I don’t know what the allegations are or if there is any evidence to support these charges. However, I do know who the impartial jury of my peers will be, mainly Charlie Flynn and Mary Brazie. I don’t know how small town justice works but I have to wonder if justice can be served by the accusers being on the jury. Can they really be impartial? Now on the upside I will have two members of the finance committee on the jury as well. Since the integrity of the finance committee is at stake I can only hope they can be unbiased too. Perhaps the board of selectmen and the finance committee will reach an even greater level of antagonism than was suggested by the Berkshire Record. Seriously though, there will be one person on this jury who is truly impartial, the town moderator. I do believe he will deal with this issue equitably.

          In their haste to get rid of this squeaky wheel I have to wonder if the BoS thought this all the way through. Think about the implications. The finance committee is tasked with investigating the water company deficits. One of its members discovers that there are tens of thousands of dollars that are unaccounted for. This member shares this public information with the citizens of Egremont and now the BoS wants to remove him from the committee. There’s something wrong with this picture. What was the crime? I guess they’ll spell it all out in the indictment.

I know it must be embarrassing to Charlie as a selectman to not have figured this out. Not to mention he was on the Water Department Review Committee which also failed to uncover these facts. I guess Mary could have reason to be embarrassed as well; she is after all the town administrator. All of the towns business runs through her. She may not be responsible for the error; but she was in a position to notice the discrepancies. The only one keeping out of the fray is Bruce Turner. He didn’t even want to be involved. I guess he’s too worried about his reelection to get this stink on him. Good move Bruce, take the high road.

In all fairness I have to point out that the water company is separate from all the other town departments and is controlled by a board of elected commissioners. We can’t blame the BoS for the problem; only for not noticing. The commissioners are responsible for the day to day operation of the water company. The blame rests on their shoulders.  Say what you will about Steve but when the rubber met the road he chose to man up rather than run for cover. When he discovered the discrepancies in the billing and realized they were causing so much discord in the town he reached out to me and told me what happened. Rather than just shoot the messenger he came up with a plan to solve the problem.

Now Charlie did end up getting on board with the water commissioners plan to correct the billing. After saying that he despised certain blogs, like mine, that were misinforming the public; he went on to suggest many things that were written on this blog. He was surprised to find that the water company was only billing ten times per year. He was disappointed that they didn’t double bill all the fees when they did miss a month or two or three. He also suggested the town implement a couple of ideas from his study committee which may insure that the users will be billed properly. For instance, the billing will be taken care of by the town hall staff instead of the water dept. administrator. The users will now be billed on a quarterly basis, saving several hundred dollars in postage fees and office supplies. The quarterly bills will also be broken down into monthly installments for those users wanting to continue paying monthly payments.

As I said in the last post; ultimately the town and the water company will be better off from the fallout of this rogue finance committee member’s exposé. What’s shocking to me is that the BoS are more outraged by my exposing the unaccounted for funds than the fact that tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars went uncollected. Do the taxpayers a favor; save your outrage for those responsible for the loss of all those tax dollars.

And since the BoS are hell bent on having a public hearing, the least they could do is make it appear fair and impartial. I don’t mind the original appointing committee voting to remove me from the finance committee, but I do wish the BoS would impanel an impartial group of citizens to hear the evidence and allow me to answer the charges. Then base my removal on the findings of this panel. Instead they intend to convene the Marsupial Court of Egremont and railroad me for doing what I was appointed to do.

Monday, March 18


Well the mystery is solved; most of the unaccounted for funds have been accounted for. I’d like to be able tell you that monies were found and we’ll see a surplus in the water fund, but I can’t. Unfortunately we will not see one thin dime of it. What happened is that in addition to massive write-offs and abatements there were many months that the water users were just not billed. In fact, in one year alone there were only nine bills sent out. Now I’m sure there’s a valid reason for not sending out the bills, but each and every month that the users were not billed, it cost the town over $14,000.00 in lost revenue. This shortfall had to be made up by the taxpayers.

It is the commissioner’s job to make sure the water company is being run properly and we need to find out what went wrong. However, this problem has been going on far too long to blame only the commissioners and the administrator. How many times did the various selectmen and finance committee members go over the revenue reports? How many times did the town administrator record the revenue numbers? We’ve had study committees, auditors, accountants and all failed to notice why the numbers didn’t jive? But it’s all water under the bridge. Since we can’t recoup the money we have to go forward and guard against this happening again.

Since this startling revelation was made the water commissioners have been working to solve this problem. To their credit they’re putting policies in place to make sure this doesn’t happen again. The commissioners have voted to bill the users 12 times per year. While this sounds absurd, the commissioners wanted to assure the taxpayers that they would not allow this sporadic billing practice to go on. The water commissioners also voted to raise the debt service to $40.00 per month. While this increase does not cover the total cost of the actual debt payment which has ballooned to $117,000.00 due to the rewritten loans; it does help reduce the subsidy that the taxpayers will be asked to cover.

I don’t know what the fallout from this will be, but I think ultimately the town and the water company will be better off for it. As there was really no delicate way to deal with this issue; this is the good, the bad and the ugly of it.

Thursday, March 14

Board of Select Men Meeting

It has been awhile since my last post and not a lot has happened. The finance committee has been digging through the water dept. numbers and it has been a slow process wading through the mountain of paperwork. They asked me to hold back on releasing any information until they know all the facts. Although I doubt that we will ever know all the facts; I will try to honor their request.

The BoS meeting was relatively civilized Monday night. I guess the other members kept Charlie on a short leash. During citizens time I presented an Open Meeting Law violation complaint to the Board of select. I felt that last week’s action of the BoS, to call for a public hearing to remove me from the finance committee should not have been done in open session. The fact that a Berkshire record reporter was there and wrote about it is one of reasons privacy rules are in place and the main reason I filed a complaint. I know this sounds petty but other people have filed OMLV complaints for lesser reasons; some of them even in bad faith.

Charlie pointed out that the complaint was invalid because it wasn’t submitted to the town clerk. He is absolutely correct and unless it is dealt with beforehand this complaint will be filed officially before the deadline. The AG requires that a complainant submit the complaint to the offending public body within 30 days of the alleged violation. I guess this is in order for the public body to have every opportunity to remedy the alleged violation. Mary wanted to highlight the fact that I referred to the Board of Select men as the Board of Select; I guess that’s why she is considered just one of the guys’. I thought Selectmen would be politically incorrect. My bad! The BoSmen resolved to turn this issue over to the town’s attorney and went on to the next item.

The next important issue to be discussed was about fashion accessories. Charlie wanted to know which hat I was wearing tonight. While I have many fine hats I could not find my FC hat so I had to put on my citizen hat. He then asked which hat I was wearing when I went to the water plant last week to talk to Jack Muskrat. I told him it was the citizen’s hat and Charlie scolded me because citizens are not supposed to visit the water plant. The insurance would not cover any losses if someone were hurt. That’s Charlie, keeping an eye out for the town’s best interest.

I told Charlie, that like every citizen, I was given an open invitation by Jim and Jack to visit the water plant anytime. The water company employees have always wanted to make the plant available to the public so citizens could see what a valuable town asset the water plant is. I guess I ruined it for everyone because from this point forward citizens will no longer be allowed to visit the water plant. I have to wonder though, is Charlie looking out for the town or just trying to stop me from getting information. Does he know that any citizen has the right to request to see the files on the water department? The freedom of information act opens up any government files to the public; unless of course there’s a national security issue. Perhaps the Egremont water dept. is classified as a National Security risk.
There were a few other uninteresting things discussed; but you’ll have to read about that in the minutes of the BoS meeting.

Saturday, March 9

On the Record For the Record

Mr. Scribner

I was taken back a little by your article in the Berkshire Record painting this spectacle as a feud between the Egremont Board of Select and the Finance committee. That was before I saw your tongue planted firmly in your cheek. So for those who don’t get the joke let me point out a few things. First; there is no feud between the BoS and the FC. While the BoS does have a problem with me; they do not have a problem with the other members of the committee. The BoS and Charlie Flynn in particular, reserve their acrimony for me personally. The BoS and I have a difference of opinion on how public, public information is. As I told Mr. Flynn, open meeting means that anything that is said can be used in the court of public opinion.

One of the main reasons that the town bylaws do not address the removal of appointed committee members is so that the committee is free to investigate all aspects of an issue without fear of retaliation. We all remember what happened when Nixon fired Cox. Without the ability of the public to fully investigate a matter there can be no transparency.

Now let me address Mr. Flynn’s comments. Charlie accuses me of “not having the right information”. What he failed to mention is that any information quoted by me came from town officials, employees and public records. I did not make up the information. Speaking of wrong information, I assume the 314 users Charlie mentions is a typo of 214; which is the number of users commonly quoted. However, according to the records there are actually only 177 accounts on the water system. I agree with Mr. Flynn that in the end there will likely be shown to be no malfeasance and nothing is missing. However in spite of the dept. of revenues' annual review and an independent audit; we can’t ignore the fact that the numbers still don’t add up.

Mr. Flynn also said that the BoS worked very hard to reduce the deficits in the water dept. What he didn’t say is that by rewriting the water dept loan they turned a $71,000.00 annual payment into a $117,000.00 payment. Unfortunately this actually increased the annual deficit by $46,000.00. Now the water users and taxpayers will have to pay an extra $21.66 per meter per month for the next ten years. But in all fairness it did reduce the overall cost of the loans by $275,000.00

Mary is quoted as saying that the selectmen regarded my accusations as “slanderous” and impugning the integrity of the town treasurer, the town accountant and herself. The record shows that I made no accusations against anyone. Essentially the BoS could be perceived as doing exactly what they accuse me of; Slander, vilification and defamation.

Mr. Scribner, you know exactly what I said to you about the unaccounted for funds when we talked on the phone Feb. 22nd. Not to mention that you are one of the 172 people on my email list. In your article you claim that I “accused three town officials of mishandling between $40,000.00 to $60,000.00 in water department funds that are unaccounted for”. I take exception, I never said that. My constant mantra has been that there are tens of thousands of unaccounted dollars in the water fund. This being said, I have to ask you where in any of my emails or blog articles, have I ever made any accusations against anyone. I don’t mind if you print misinformation quoted from unreliable sources; but if you would please quote me correctly.

Thursday, March 7





          I have a confession to make; I just don’t want to be a good neighbor. We are constantly being guilted into feeling that if we don’t act a certain way then we are not being a good neighbor. I was told that if I didn’t want to subsidize the water company I was mean spirited, selfish and just wasn’t being a good neighbor. I was told that because I write about divisive issues, like the water company, I am being petty, vindictive and just not being a good neighbor. Why is it that when people don’t have a valid defense for their argument they couch it in some humanistic gobbledygook?

          When I was exposing unaccounted for Water Company funds, at a BOS meeting, a person got up and made an impassioned speech about how in a community like ours we like to help our neighbors. Were they implying that I don’t want to help my neighbor? Then this good neighbor said that they didn’t mind kicking in a few extra bucks on their taxes to help out the water users. Apparently this good neighbor didn’t mind forcing everyone else to kick in a few extra bucks either. EXCUSE ME! You’re missing the point. Are you asking me to overlook the unaccounted for money and just keep paying more? No, you’re asking me to be a good neighbor and just shut up. What alternative universe are you from?

          After hearing that tens of thousands of dollars can’t be found; this person’s solution was to charge the taxpayers even more and make anyone who disagrees with them feel petty and selfish. After all we do want to be good neighbors don’t we? I could have argued that about half of the water users were second home owners and didn’t need our financial aid; but I didn’t. I could have said that less than ten people on the entire water system would be adversely affected by increasing the user fees to meet the costs associated with running the water company; but I didn’t. I said I don’t mind chipping in, not that I have a choice; but why would I want to pay anything into a water company that can’t even account for the money that has already been paid into it? Apparently this shut them up because they’ve barely spoken a word to me since. No matter!

          I guess some people really don’t understand the purpose of taxation. Davy Crockett summed it up in an address to congress titled “Not Yours to Give”. Isn’t it funny how easy it is to be a good neighbor with someone else’s money. Then if the taxpayer can be made to feel guilty about questioning these taxes it creates a system that is primed for waste and irresponsibility; kind of like we have in our water department. Well I just don’t buy it! If this is what it means to be a good neighbor then I’ll be an a$$ hole.


Tuesday, March 5

Other BOS business

          While the water company seems to be the paramount issue of the day it is far from the only issue. I have been so focused on the water company that I have been ignoring the rest of the issues that are discussed at the various meetings. With the upcoming town meeting and election we need to be informed on all the issues. For my part I hope to be able to post the warrant articles as they come up and any related information. There are a ton of budget items to be considered; and since you’re paying the tab it might be a good idea to know what you are paying for.

          One of the issues lost in the flurry of distractions is that of the Chief of Police being suspended. It appears that it will be a closed investigation, meaning the public will be left out of the loop until it’s over. This is the choice of the chief. Officer Pilone was at the BOS meeting to offer up three proposals from companies vying for the job of investigating the officer’s allegations. Officer Pilone recommended the company he thought would do the best job; this company also had the lowest bid. The BOS voted to approve this contract and by the end of the month we should have a conclusion to this investigation and it will cost less than 10 grand.

          Susan Bachelder representing the Historical Commission gave an ardent speech on the preservation of two of our historical buildings. After completing all the paperwork necessary for applying for the grants she is hoping we can raise the funds to match those grants. You can go to the town website for more detailed information. Next Susan switched hats to the green committee and requested $208.00 from the MRF funds to buy compost buckets which are used to welcome new residents and introduce the Green committee and present all the green options that Egremont has to offer. This concludes the highlights of last nights BOS meeting


You could have knocked me over with a feather. The board of select brought to the floor a letter they had drafted to hold a hearing on removing one of the finance committee members. It surprised me only because it wasn’t on the agenda. This committee member is probably doing such a lousy job that the BOS has to act quickly to maintain the integrity of both the BOS and the finance committee. I do have to wonder however, when the BOS had time to discuss this issue, was it at an open meeting? Hmmmm! Well no matter.
Now I don’t know which committee member they are talking about removing, so we’ll have to wait until all the parties are legally informed before we can find out. However, they did say it will be a public lynching, I mean hearing. I find it interesting though that the BOS would choose this time to remove a finance committee member; when the finance committee is in the middle of an investigation about tens of thousands of unaccounted for water company funds. Perhaps they are multitasking.
One astute citizen brought to the attention of the Selectboard the fact that the town bylaws had no provision for removing an appointed official once they’re appointed. They always have the option to not reappoint the member if they so choose, but they do not have the option of disappointing them; pardon the pun.
I guess not having a bylaw provision is no problem for this BOS because, according to Mary Brazie, when they consulted the town’s attorney they were told they simply have to draft a letter calling for a hearing and they could remove any appointed official. This is just what I gathered from what she said. I’m quite sure the bylaw will catch up with whatever notorious crime this unnamed finance committee member has committed. Oh wait, could that fall under the ex post facto rule. No, Article 1, Section 9, Clause 3 of the constitution does not apply here in Egremont.
Well I guess we will all have to wait until the public lynching, I mean hearing. I’ll keep you posted on all the details; that is, unless I am the unnamed finance committee member that is going to be lynched, I mean examined. I wonder, if I am the unnamed finance committee member; and I do get lynched, I mean disappointed, will I be able to attend the various public meetings and disseminate the public information that is discussed in these public meetings? I hope to see you at the lynching, I mean hearing.

Sunday, March 3


Town Meeting and Election
Just Around the Corner

          The annual town meeting is just 58 days away and the election is only 65. What are you doing to prepare? I’m going to get started by asking the candidates to go on the record and state their positions on various issues.
Last election I was a new resident and just getting my bearings straight, but I did get a chance to ask the BOS candidates about what I considered to be the important issues facing the town. There were some very interesting responses by the candidates. You can learn a lot about people by what they say. I have posted, in the candidates own words, their responses to these questions.
You can find out  a lot about those who are running this town and their plan to tax and spend even more of our money.  If you never got a chance to read it, you can find it posted on I point out this article because most of these issues are still relevant and I plan on asking this year’s candidates these questions and more.
I’m also going to open the Eye On Egremont forum to anyone who has questions and any candidate who may want to post and or comment. This will be an open forum with two rules, #1 RESPECT and #2 MORE RESPECT. The blogspot format has some limitations so if you want your questions to appear as a post rather than a comment I must ask you to email your questions so I can post them and others can read and comment. The comment section as always is open and unmediated as long as the privilege is not abused. Any signs of abuse of the site; and moderation is just one click away.
I hope this year’s town meeting has a better turnout than last year when we allowed a mere 85 people to decide how the town is going to tax and spend the nearly 4 million dollar budget. Remember this is the only chance we get to decide how much we will be taxed and how the town spends our tax dollars.