close up photo of a man, Michael Lavery, candidate for State Representative, Berkshire County Third District.
Michael Lavery, candidate for State Representative, Berkshire County Third District; submitted photo.

Top Left Corner #178: NTRVW — Michael Lavery, Candidate for State Rep., Mass. 3rd Dist.

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And this is Episode #178 of the Top Left Corner. I am your host Jay Velázquez, and I do thank you for tuning in as always. Today is Saturday, November 5, 2022 – at least that’s the day that I hit record on this episode. We have a very special guest on the show, Michael Lavery. He’s been on this show a couple times in the last several years, and we are always happy to have him back a member of the Massachusetts Green-Rainbow party, the Berkshires chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, a very deep thinker, and an all-around great guy. He is running this election to unseat Massachusetts State Representative, William “Smitty” Pignatelli, in the race for Berkshire 3rd district.

I like to have both contestants in the campaign on the show, but I’ve contacted Smitty number of times on different issues, and he’s never responded, so I figure, if he got in touch with me, fine. If he didn’t, fine. And he didn’t. We speak with Michael about some of the issues that have been on his mind for a long time in, including transparency and Beacon Hill the toxins in the water supply, and this time the push to decriminalize or legalize antigens — organic natural substances found in such plants as psilocybin mushrooms and peyote, increasingly of interest to the medical community after showing amazing promise treating major depression, PTSD, and other conditions.

As I mentioned at the top of the interview, Michael is a longtime supporter of the Greylock Glass, even before he ran his first campaign for the Beckett Select Board. I say this in the interest of transparency, because I want people to know who supports us, and be able to judge for themselves if we have an inappropriate bias in any direction. I only had one area of concern going into this interview, which was the question of how he can reconcile his antiwar stance with working for General Dynamics, and I pressed him on it.

Whether or not Michael does manage to defeat Smitty pig Natale on Tuesday, I’m sure that the very fact that he challenged and incumbent Democrat will cause some of his issues of concern to gain more widespread attention. Let’s go down to that interview with Michael livery here on the top of corner

NTRVW: Michael Lavery — Candidate State Rep, Berkshire III District

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Top Left Corner: And five, four, three, two. And with me on the line is Michael Lavery, Selectboard member in Beckett, Massachusetts. Michael, thanks so much for joining us again on the Top Left Corner.

Michael Lavery: Hi, Jason. Thank you for having me.

Top Left Corner: My pleasure. Well, in the in the interest of full disclosure, because we believe in transparency here at The Greylock Glass, Michael, you are a donor. You are a contributor to our continued operations, and we always are grateful for that.

Michael Lavery: Well, I appreciate your honesty and I pride myself on being truthful and transparent. And I also like to support local media that speaks truth to power. So I don’t mind contributing at all. I think it’s a good cause.

Top Left Corner: So yeah, I mean, I say that I would say that whether you were running for office or not, you are running for office. And we’ll talk about that. We’re running against Smitty Pignatelli for what is that area called? That district.

Michael Lavery: It’s called the third Berkshires. It was fourth Berkshires for a long time. But recently the Commonwealth had a census, which all states have every ten years in. The federal government does too, and concluding that the population was seen to have decreased. So they went from four districts down to three, and Smitty inherited one town from Paul. Mark Dalton Well, Smitty may inherit, you know, depends on who wins on Tuesday.

Top Left Corner: Yeah, no, I knew that it had changed. I could not remember exactly what it meant. So thank you. And, you know, it’s it’s a funny thing. We we have gotten a number of people moving into the Berkshires just the last 2 to 3 years, and that census data is from 2020.

Michael Lavery: Tis true to his true. Yeah. It would be a whole different story. We think a lot a lot of folks even moved in or have been building and living here more permanently than, you know, second, homeowners that don’t want to live in the city anymore and that sort of thing. So I think if it had been done after COVID instead of before, you’re right, we probably wouldn’t have lost a seat or might have even gained or something.

Top Left Corner: I really I mean, we’ll have to see if they do any supplemental, you know, supplemental accounts and see if that we won’t change it after the fact. But yeah, so we’ll we’ll talk. Yeah, I mean, it’s it would be great if if things could move as fast as the Internet does. I was listening to a discussion on breaking points with crystal ball and Slugger and Jedi on their YouTube channel, breaking points, and they were discussing how fast the election results come in. In Brazil. They’re just even from out in the sticks. And Brazil’s got some out in the sticks and they seem to have their act together. And as everything is, you know, computerized and it’s it’s funny, we like to think of ourselves as this as this beacon of technological prowess. And it’s just not always true.

Michael Lavery: Well, you got to ask yourself, is that intentional in terms of government and politics and things? I’ve often put my brain to work thinking about how to make this more democratic of a society and people feel so estranged from their government and to the point where they’re disaffected and they become apathetic. And if we had something like France or places where their telephone system had long ago, since the seventies and eighties been computerized, and initially it was for entertainment, but then they realized, hey, people, we can put like a poll on here and have them press a number and everybody in the whole country can vote on an issue. You know, we have encryption and two factor authentication and all that. I’m an anarchist in the sense of I believe that things can be run without having people at the top and not in a sense of chaos in the streets and that sort of thing. But I’m running for office because I think I have different and better use than than some folks who are currently in office. But, you know, I’m kind of a politician that wants to be there to make things better, but doesn’t necessarily want the job as a as a politician. And people how people think of the people down in the Washington, DC like they’re so politicians as a as an art or a practice or vile and disrespect for so.

Top Left Corner: Or a bad addiction. So yeah, you’re a reluctant power wielder. I get that. And I’ve always said because in my past life I ate one past life. I was a project manager in publishing, educational publishing, which is really kind of a it’s everything flying every which way all the time at high speeds. But I said I said, you know, really my job should be to put myself out of business. I should be trying to create systems that are that continuously improve, that become more efficient, that make my job obsolete. That would be the ultimate project manager who creates systems that make make it unnecessary to have a project manager. Does it ever happen? No, because you know people. But. But I think that politics should run the same way. The idea is that.

Michael Lavery: Can you imagine a utopia like that where we could vote just by our cell phone and not have a town meeting and be able to do things on the fly and not have people running in at the top?

Top Left Corner: Yes, I imagine that all the time. All the time, Michael. I imagine that it’s just it’s you know, we have the tech now, not that I believe that tech solves everything, but it could solve a lot of things. Yeah. I mean, the preamble states that we’re pushing towards a more perfect union, which suggests that even at that state, they knew that it was not going to be perfect and that it needs to improve. And I think that the problem is too many people are profiting from the squishy areas, those shadowy areas. There’s mushy areas where things are not efficient. And let’s talk let’s go right to that, because we’ve talked about this before. We’ve talked about transparency. We start out the show about transparency, but we’ve talked about transparency on Beacon Hill before and transparency and local government and local government. Give us your give us your sort of your stump speech on that and why you think it has been neglected for so long.

Michael Lavery: Well, there’s two big reasons why I think it’s important. One is that our our town governments are held to a higher standard than our state House government. I, as a select board member, have my votes recorded in the meeting minutes, and they’re published within weeks or months after they’re accepted in a second meeting and they’re published on the web on its website. So anybody can go through open meeting law, which is through the Attorney General’s office and find out how I voted. And that goes back however long we keep records. The House doesn’t have to do that at the subcommittee level and during the House, regular public sessions on the floor of the House. Not all votes are recorded for every motion or or bill. So that’s big. And. The second thing is we’ve been the Commonwealth for a huge, long number of time, a long length of time, and we’re one of the oldest democracies. And people look towards Massachusetts as being one of the best. We had gay marriage before any other states and we had a health care like Medicaid. Obamacare is modeled after Massachusetts, so why can’t we have an open government? We’re the fourth ranked worst transparent house in the whole United States. So that’s that’s the those are the two big reasons.

Top Left Corner: You’re your opponent in this state race, which is going to be decided on the next Tuesday. The age. He doesn’t share your views apparently based on his record.

Michael Lavery: It’s true. If there were two subcommittee bills, House bills that failed and they failed by a wide margin, many did vote against the act en masse. Changes to how the House would vote at the subcommittee level and the House at the admin floor voted. He voted against them twice. And it’s it’s boggles the mind. Like why? Why? Why? The simple things you’d think would pass easily would get knocked down. You know, technically somebody who’s a committee member and was the chair of a committee and had a bill that was coming before it that he put forth wouldn’t even have to vote for his own bill and nobody would know about it.

Top Left Corner: Right. No, it’s I think it’s it’s a shock. It is. It’s incomprehensible. But you did say you don’t understand why. But let’s play the let’s say, game. You know, who benefits?

Michael Lavery: If I didn’t have performance reviews at my job, that would be great. I could do whatever right.

Top Left Corner: And more to the point, you could tell. I mean, you could tell your boss had a phrase. You can tell your coworkers one thing’s one thing, and you could tell your boss another thing. I mean, and. And no one would have to know the wiser. You could, you know. In fact, you could. Well, let’s just bring it to the state house level. Let’s quit prevaricating around the Bush era. You could tell if you are a state legislator. You can tell your constituents that you’re going to go out there and you’re going to fight for them on this issue. But privately, you could be supporting the agenda of, say, some big business that is diametrically opposed to what the people want. So, yeah, you could vote for the big business interest and you could tell the people back home, gosh, you know, I fought for it and by gum I thought it would pass. Oh, well.

Michael Lavery: Absolutely. There’s no oversight and it’s a shame. We we deserve better as a populace and a. That would be a big change that I’d like to see happen to have it come forth again and be voted on.

Top Left Corner: Now news people vote differently. Newspaper folks, news, you know, journalists of all stripes, I think would like to see this change. Why have not more outlets made a fuss about it when these these issues come up?

Michael Lavery: I think the Globe did a good piece in our local paper. They may be more conservative than folks think, and they did a piece on it, I think, July of last year on the transparency after these two bills didn’t pass. So I think it’s out there, but it’s definitely not in the public’s eye or mind or being spoken about at the barber shop or the corner store.

Top Left Corner: You know, that’s got to change. And that is why I said, you know, news outlets of all stripes would like to see it because there are plenty of times that conservative leaning outlets would love to play the gotcha game with left leaning legislators and vice versa. It’s just it’s just in the public interest. You want to know what you’re buying when you walk into that voting booth. I guess you sort of like signing up to the carol is what they’re really more like today. You would love to think that you know what you’re signing on for. And too many times people feel like, you know, months or years later, like I don’t even know this person that I voted for. This isn’t the person I voted for. This is who they said they were. And it’s disgusting.

Michael Lavery: I’ve got to write Latin for.

Top Left Corner: Well. Buyer beware. Let the buyer beware. But the buyer can’t beware. And that’s what we’re talking about here. The buyer has no idea. You know, it’s like buying a car that has four wheels and it has a steering wheel and it has brakes. Okay, great. But you know, what are the how many horsepower? Yeah, we can’t tell you that. Okay. Does it have anti-lock brakes, airbags? No, we can’t tell you that. I mean, that’s really what it is. You’re basically, you know, you’re playing.

Michael Lavery: Well, welded shot, and we don’t give you a warranty. Write it. Work on it. Right. Yeah, It’s.

Top Left Corner: Terrible. I think we’re playing Russian roulette with our democracy. I mean, what the hell? So that’s. That’s kind of where we are. I guess there’s really.

Michael Lavery: Wish there were folks like you and myself that know about it and we could get the message out. So hopefully this reaches a lot of years today.

Top Left Corner: I hope so. I hope so. Well, tomorrow I’ll have to do some, you know, editing and so forth. And we’ll we’ll we’ll get it shiny and spiffy before we go.

Michael Lavery: Release like Jeopardy! Where where they say it’s Friday and it’s they were all filmed on the same day. Yeah. Yeah. Tuesday three months ago.

Top Left Corner: No, it’s, it’s. I know. But you know what? If somebody gets a hold of the the audio from this episode before it’s released, I probably won’t be able to sue anybody for big money, you know, like U2 did when their album was hacked. So let’s talk about a little other other things about you, things that we haven’t discussed. I mean, you hold some views that are you know, I don’t think they’re bold, but but some might. Now, you. You are a an engineer for General Dynamics Mission systems in Pittsfield, is that correct?

Michael Lavery: Yeah. I recently accepted a position to be closer to home and work in the Berkshires where I live. I was assigned to the Albany office in PricewaterhouseCoopers. I haven’t changed my what I’m doing as an engineer very much. I’m still doing computer work and it is tough for me as a Green Party member and anti-war sort of person. But I was in the Marine Corps and I did serve my country and I have a paper that says I did my job. So I don’t know. It was tough to reconcile that. But at the end of the day, these things are going to be around and there’s only two employers that can say their number one and number two, and that’s Berkshire Health Systems and General Dynamics. So at some point with a person of my caliber who’s been doing it and Linux in particular for 20 years, there’s only so many places that would employ me at the rate that I, I think I may.

Top Left Corner: Look, I get it. And we all have we all have contradictions. Lord knows your host, Jason Velasquez, a.k.a The Mongrel has a lot of contradictions himself. I do not see eye to eye with a lot of my lefty friends on many issues, and they they get very upset with me when we have conversations about things like the Second Amendment property owner rights. They’re like, How can you have these views? Well, I do. I’m sorry, I do. I grew up on a farm and I have a farm and there’s just certain realities.

Michael Lavery: No, you’re right. It’s true. We live in the Berkshires. There are bears and guns. Gun rights are a different thing. And lefties and liberals can own guns. And you know who’s to say If Pelosi’s husband had been armed, maybe he wouldn’t have gotten hit in the head with a hammer. I don’t know.

Top Left Corner: I have no idea what the heck. I don’t even know. We can. We can when we sort of start winding down and have and start getting silly. We can talk about that, too. But boy, that’s that’s a cluster bumble over there. So. So I understand that. I. Excuse me. I have. I have my issues with. With not so much with. I mean, I’m also not a pacifist. A lot of people think that I’m some sort of patchouli smelling hippie, some dirty hippie, and I’m not a pacifist, which confuses people. I do believe, you know, if somebody were to go after, you know, one of my kids or something, I’m going to knock him. I’m going to knock him into next week.

Michael Lavery: That’s just that’s just silly. So, you know, I think this war, endless war that we’ve had is a different matter. And we certainly need to protect our country if if attacked. But the the the. The monopoly in this huge industrial military industrial complex that has come about its way too much. We spend more than the next eight countries combined, I think was a recent statistic. Yeah, so there’s a better balance. There’s a quarter of the Department of Defense, which used to be called the War Department until that wasn’t a good PR look for them. A quarter of it is totally unaccounted for. It’s just black ops and NSA and hush money and nobody can account for it. So a lot of things need to change. But I agree we do need some type of war footing.

Top Left Corner: You kind of have to in this day and age. I mean, let’s face it, we are going to be fighting over water one day. We’re going to be fighting over food one day. And that food.

Michael Lavery: Yeah, there’ll be water wars.

Top Left Corner: And and I don’t want to be I don’t want to.

Michael Lavery: Be in the middle of migration. We’re already seeing it in the in this country. The folks down in Key West and the Keys where this hundred and 80 people died. They’re going to have to move. I mean, sure, they can’t rebuild.

Top Left Corner: We have expensive we have we have climate refugees.

Michael Lavery: We have to move inland.

Top Left Corner: Yeah, well, we have climate refugees here. I mean, a lot of people don’t understand that after Hurricane Sandy. I mean, these are people with whom I’ve spoken. There were New Yorkers who said no more. I’m not going to go through that again. And they sold what they had moved to the Berkshires and they wanted to move inland before it got too late or too expensive. And, you know, they’re climate refugees. They’re just very wealthy climate refugees. I mean, I know somebody who sold two apartments in Midtown. Can you imagine what selling two apartments in Midtown would get you? So.

Michael Lavery: Yeah, there’s no coincidence that the top two billionaires, Elon Musk and Amazon guy, are trying to get to Mars. I mean, they’re treating our economy, which is a throwaway society. They’re treating the planet like that, too. They’re like, well, once it’s run out of minerals and let’s just go to Mars and rape the planet there, there’s billionaires, there’s tech giants that have second homes with huge basements, bunkers that are prepping. And it’s not just the preppers you see on TV, on this funny shows where people make fun of them. It’s like super realistic and they see the models north of like Connecticut is going to be the only place anymore where it’ll be inhabitable.

Top Left Corner: Well, let’s talk about this a little bit, because this is one of the things that I’m trying to as you probably know, I’m trying to do some climate resiliency reporting and I feel it’s the most important thing in the world at the moment, because if you don’t have a climate, if you don’t have a planet, you don’t really have to worry about anything else. So here’s the question. You know, here we are in 2022 and a lot of people in the Berkshires are not paying attention to the climate crisis and they aren’t taking resiliency, preparedness and precautions against climate disruption seriously. What do you think Western Mass and specifically the Berkshires should be doing right now?

Michael Lavery: Massachusetts has something called MVP in its Massachusetts vulnerability program or project. It’s it’s funded by the state. And each town has had a period of time to sign up and get people to volunteer to to do the climate study and see where our vulnerabilities lie. And Beckett in particular, I’m familiar with the folks who worked on it, and we’re up high, but there are a lot of lakes and some of the outlying parts of the town are susceptible to flooding and culverts blowing out and roads getting washed out. So that’s one thing If you want to find out from your local town leaders if your town has taken part in the MVP program. We did get some funding for that. I don’t know what the state is going to do with the results of that study, but hopefully they’ll make it an earmarked program to. To cure these things. These hundred year storms are happening every four or five years, and you can’t use those terms anymore. So we have to think of new ways to talk about these things.

Top Left Corner: Yeah, I think those programs are excellent. And I do have to find out from every town what their level of participation was. But the the things that I think the pandemic showed us are that we are. Affected by things that happen far, far away in more, more ways than we knew. I mean, when shipping. Was disrupted, logistics were disrupted when we weren’t able to source things that we need here in the Berkshires from places that, you know, we had them we saw things that Americans have not seen in generations. We saw empty shelves. Right. We saw places where there were there was no produce. There were no there was no fruit and vegetables in the produce section. And of course, there were just holes in all throughout the shelves. And Americans, I think we kind of pretended like there was, okay, well, this this is weird, but it’ll get better. And of course, it did get better for now mostly. But I think that the pandemic is small potatoes, if it should be compared to, say, three degrees Celsius rise, even even 2.5 degrees Celsius rise, you will see shortages of things that will blow your mind. And I think that whether or not the weather. Hits us hard. There are so many secondary and tertiary effects that nobody’s talking about. And to me, those are more those are more frightening than many. I think that it is not. Unlikely that there will be staggering incidents of crime, perhaps even crime that is literally survival crime. You know, absolutely. It’s not like you care that somebody steals a loaf of bread, but you do care if they hijack the entire truck that’s coming with all of the food into the Berkshires and they’re just, you know, gone. And people think that that’s Mad Max. But I think we’re so much closer than we’ve ever been to that in this country. Not that we can solve it.

Michael Lavery: But I think you’re right. We’ve seen bits of that or foreshadowing of it when, like you said, we did lose the supply chain for a while there with toilet paper and staples like bread and eggs and things. And it happened relatively quickly. It’s just a few different events where people make a run on the stores and then the stores can’t restock in time, and then that continues.

Top Left Corner: Talk to me about other things. I mean, I know that I don’t want to spend the entire hour on on the climate, because I will if you let me. And I’m a doer. So that’s kind of what it is. But there are there was a comment, I think it was who was it? Somebody wrote a piece on both you and Smitty Pignatelli, and there was a weird comment on it. I don’t know if it was Amanda or if it was oh, I don’t remember who wrote the piece, but there was a comment at the bottom saying that she didn’t think that you addressed the local issues enough and and I think you did pretty well. But if there are if there are local issues that you think are critical, I’d like to know what they are now so we can set the record straight, because I have heard you.

Michael Lavery: I appreciate it.

Top Left Corner: Socially. I mean, I’m just we’ve talked about local issues. Maybe they they don’t always translate. So what are some of the the priorities you think we should be thinking about?

Michael Lavery: Well, the piece you’re speaking of was Heather Bello, and then a letter to the editor and the eagle. So, yeah, I mean, they they are physical paper and they have to limit their. Byline. But the Berkshire Edge piece that came out a few days later was very much more nuanced. And that’s a digital paper like you’re of like we’re recording today. So I think that’s able to express my opinions and what I’ve done locally better. I certainly have done a lot for my town and I would do more for the district as a whole. I understand the hill towns, how little money we get compared to Pittsfield even, or Boston in regards to the roads in chapter nine funds, which is the term for how much money we get in the budget every year, is determined by how many people live in the town. And if there are any people commuting here for either work or just. Stores and things like businesses, but most towns don’t have any either of those two, and they have small populations. So that’s why we get the least amount of money. So that’s big. I’ve talked to our highway guy and he has to save up for three years to do one road with what we get from the state. And there’s no other creative ways to squeeze the money out to fix the road. So I know that plate and I know what I would do to try to help it, or at least make the people in eastern Mass aware of it if I was elected. I have done plenty of things for my town as a select board member.

Michael Lavery: We have EV parking spaces at town halls. There are no gas stations in Beckett, but there are four EV parking spaces. So people that come for the summer camps to drop their kids off from New York and New Jersey or wherever and have an electric car don’t have to worry. They can charge up. I have a new trail that’s used every day when it’s nice out, I go by there and I save the land and I got a grant to convert it from town land to a new hiking trail. So I’m out there. I’m doing things in politics. Things don’t always happen smooth or quickly or easily, but I’ve stuck with it and and gotten programs that I think are green and will it will help folks in the long run. There’s a wind project that I support from the Energy Committee in town, 15 kilowatt wind turbine for the town hall. So I just want folks to know that I do look out for local people. I’m not just thinking big picture about climate change, but I want to make everything that we do do going forward fit into that mindset. If you’re going to build a new building, why wouldn’t you put solar panels on top of it and make it green? So I think that covers a bit of a response that I would have written back as a letter to the Eagle to respond. But this is a better forum because I am. Don’t think they’ll get in it on time before the election.

Top Left Corner: Probably not. But this will be available tomorrow. So and hopefully people will get a chance to hear it. Naturally, I will put it on there on social media. So let’s talk a little bit about a subject that I I’ve been wanting to talk about, but I haven’t had on any guests who really seemed to be particularly concerned with the issue. You brought up the subject of antigens.

Michael Lavery: Yes.

Top Left Corner: And was.

Michael Lavery: That.

Top Left Corner: Antigens? I think that this is one of those things where enough people have said, can we take another look at these? That maybe. Yeah, maybe it is it is worth considering here in Massachusetts were the first did a lot of things. Maybe this is set to we want to give us a definition of what an antigen is.

Michael Lavery: Certainly so it’s a spiritual or ritual use drug. And it it usually has a previous use in prior centuries, like psilocybin or peyote. The Southwest I live I visit a friend in Arizona and they had medical cards even back in the early 1990s for folks to native folks to take part in rituals. So these these things have been used for centuries and and longer. Like shamans is the term you’d use, or witch doctors, I guess is kind of a loaded term. But they’ve recently, like you said, taken a a new look at them. Certain states are at least towns in states like Denver, Colorado. Most recently in Massachusetts, they’ve been decriminalized in four towns Cambridge, Southampton, East Hampton and Somerville. I might have gotten one of those Hamptons wrong, but you can Google it, and I’m proposing it for a town. Bylaws change in Becket, so Anthea Jones would be able to be studied, or at least people could grow them or use them for their own ritual purposes. They’re helpful for ADHD and. Other mental illnesses like post-traumatic stress disorder and vets and that sort of thing.

Top Left Corner: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, and these are not. These are not quacks that are suggesting that they’re good for for mental health. Of the places that have reported on this. A Hopkins Medicine Dawg has an article about psychedelic treatments with psilocybin relieves major depression. The University of California. San Francisco Nature. Com Columbia Psychiatry dot org. Web M.D.. Magic mushrooms provide fast, long lasting depression relief. And the New England Journal of Medicine. So these are not these are mainstream people. These are not perpetually smelling dirty hippies like me. Go ahead.

Michael Lavery: Oh, absolutely. I want to help folks who could help and just start down that road. I did want to bring up the one thing locally that’s somebody concerned citizen in Housatonic. And I’ve been following the story of their water plight. The village is within the confines of Great Barrington and therefore the select board there has to rule, but they haven’t come to a conclusion on how to resolve the Housatonic water issue. And Smitty’s been buttonholed about it and he said he’d help, or he seemed to give those rumblings. But it’s still been years, and the family that took it over the Mercer family in the eighties has done very little to retrofit the pipes for modern times, and the water is full of manganese and other acetic acid that are carcinogens. So now I don’t know to how many pipe to the forefront.

Top Left Corner: Yeah. How many people are affected by this? Any thoughts?

Michael Lavery: I believe there are 800 hookups to that water feed and only 24 or 30 of them are not in Housatonic. There’s like a handful of families that are in Stockbridge or West Stockbridge, but about 800 that get that feed. And some of them only have tea colored water, but some it’s like brown like, you know, swamp water.

Top Left Corner: So this is been allowed to go on for a long, long time. Is there any concern for health, health effects?

Michael Lavery: There are there are two concerns. The manganese is one, and that’s there’s something called manganese ism. And if untreated or if it goes on long enough, it can wreck your health like Parkinson’s disease, very similar sort of symptoms. So that can even happen with showering and drinking. It, of course, is not recommended. So the town isn’t even providing a bottled water for these folks. They’re having to buy it on their own. And the Mercer Company, which is a private family owned company, Housatonic Waterworks, is not helping in that regard either. They’re only testing the water twice a year in Beckett. We had a problem with E.coli in one of the public town buildings that we have to test every day. I don’t know how the water works. Company is getting away from the DEP with these two major chemicals in the water and they’ve been cited for it. But all they have to do is test twice a year. It seems criminal. It seems like a Flint, Michigan, or Standing Rock situation. And I don’t know why it’s not all over the news.

Top Left Corner: Well, has it has it hit the news? I mean, I’m sure it must have been at least a couple of times in, you know, the Berkshire Edge or the the eagle. I mean, somebody must have said something about it.

Michael Lavery: Yeah. They’ve reported on the select boards, taking it up and largely not being able to do anything. It would be a huge budget. It will have to come before town, meaning for them to vote to take over the private water.

Top Left Corner: Okay. But they haven’t done an investigative piece on the subject itself.

Michael Lavery: Not that I’ve seen, not a thorough investigation where they speak to people in the house and see the water and write it up with photos and glossy.

Top Left Corner: 27 glossy photos and arrows on the back, you know? Exactly. Well, I just, you know, jeez, I mean, it’s water. It’s it’s one of the the.

Michael Lavery: Basic it’s.

Top Left Corner: Basic, for crying out loud. People shouldn’t have to worry about it. But developing a Parkinson’s, Parkinson’s disease like illness because they needed to take a shower, that’s insane. Anyway, I.

Michael Lavery: Can’t believe it’s gone on this long.

Top Left Corner: What else? What else do you.

Michael Lavery: I don’t know if there’s much else on my mind. I mean, I want to get out there that the. The election’s on Tuesday next week, but you can early vote, check your town’s website. You’ve already missed the mail in chance, but.

Top Left Corner: You can look it there.

Michael Lavery: Yeah. I mean, I can’t campaign every day. I have a 9 to 5 job, unlike my opponent. So all I have is social media and my weekends. So if you haven’t seen me, I’m sorry I am getting signs out there, but I might resonate with you. So please look me up on Michael Avery dot com. And do you see where I stand on the issues? There’s a number of articles and this will be up tomorrow. I’ll put a link on my page. So thank you for your time and consideration for vote for Michael Avery. Green Rainbow Party November 8th.

Top Left Corner: Like a cool, fresh breeze blowing through Beacon Hill. That’s what it’ll be like. Vote for Michael Avery. Scott. I know, right? He’s got. It’s got our endorsement. I don’t even have to write it. I think you’ve probably all figured it out. So get out there and, you know, believe it.

Michael Lavery: It is no dream.

Top Left Corner: Right. There you go. If you believe it’s no dream, there are other characters. There are other characters you could be voting for. No, there are other other races out there. You know, there’s the race for Richie Neal seat. Richie Neal is going up against Dean Martelly.

Michael Lavery: And, oh, I didn’t realize you had a competitor. That’s great. I’ll look him up.

Top Left Corner: You can look him up. You you can actually. Last week, I published a a lengthy interview with him as well.

Michael Lavery: Okay. I’ll definitely check it out.

Top Left Corner: And there are some folks who wondered, why did I interview somebody from the GOP? Listen. Listen to it. And you will understand it is one of my it will go down in history as one of my best. One of my best. So have fun listening to that. Michael, You know, break a leg. I guess we can say that this is the Berkshires. There’s more of this theater here. Yeah, you can say good luck. You can say break a leg.

Michael Lavery: Yeah, it’s a small community.

Top Left Corner: And regardless of how this goes, I know that you’re going to continue to work for the people of the community, and I know you’re going to continue to keep us informed and let us know what’s going on in your neck of the woods.

Michael Lavery: I live to serve. Thank you for your time and I appreciate it All you do for the community as well.

Top Left Corner: Thank you. Take care.

Michael Lavery: Take care.

And that’s our interview with Michael Lavery, candidate for state representative Berkshire third district. Remember, voting on Tuesday is just as important here in the midterm elections, as it is when the presidency is at stake. Early voting is still available in person in Massachusetts, contact your town Clerk if you need directions. If you need to know where to vote in person, use the link to Vote.org to locate your polling station by zip code.

That’s our show — hope you enjoyed it. We’ll talk again about something or other next week. Until then, Stay safe, be good to each other, and go easy on yourself.

Jason Velázquez

Jason Velázquez has worked in print and digital journalism and publishing for two decades.
Phone: (413) 776-5125

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