Saturday, August 26, 2006

Public Access TV is not government media

(Published in The Gray News 8/25/06)

When they’re not purging people they don’t like from town committees, town councilors Foster, Upham, and Crane like to satisfy their authoritarian instincts by dictating what you see on television. The trio are the principal movers behind an effort to show less of them and more of the Gray Planning Board on Community Access Television.

The Three view the Planning Board as petty bureaucrats who want to over-regulate real estate developers. They recently took away the Board’s ability to impose fire protection standards on housing developments. Local developers are pleased. The Fire Department is not. Call it part of this council’s aggressive new No Developer Left Behind Act.

Not content with limiting their authority, the councilors now want the twice-monthly planning board meetings to be televised, presumably to allow the public to keep a close eye on this dangerous band of regulatory zealots. Generously, the council will inform the Gray Cable TV Committee that they can compensate for the increased workload by eliminating two monthly council workshops from the GCTV broadcast schedule, where the councilors evidently think public scrutiny is less needed. That worked out well, huh?

Let me just say that if it was up to me, GCTV would broadcast every committee meeting in Gray. I’d televise the breakfast counter at Cole Farms if I could, given how much public business has been conducted there in the last year. The problem is that there aren’t enough people to do it all. With three regular members and two part-time students, the cable committee is severely shorthanded. This shortage was recently made worse, when these same three councilors decided not to renew my own GCTV membership. First time such a thing ever happened. They didn’t say why. I think I’m being punished.

In any case there is no policy governing which town committee gets air time on GCTV. The GCTV policy manual states that “All programming will be of community interest as determined by the Cable Committee.” Content decisions are based on a combination of public input and editorial judgment. Most communities make programming decisions the same way. In fact, its pretty much the same approach used by all media. Elected leaders tend to stay away from programming specifics because their actions might be viewed as…political.

In Gray, regular council meetings have always been carried on cable. Public interest prompted the addition of council workshops to the broadcast schedule last fall, after councilors began holding workshops in record numbers and re-designated some as regular decision-making meetings. Your council now finds all the extra attention annoying, and want to shift the spotlight onto somebody else - preferably a committee with whom they strongly disagree.

For myself, I think its much more important to scrutinize executive decisionmakers who are more powerful than ever and act in ways that affects us all, over a regulatory board that is less powerful than ever and affects only a single land user at a time. In a perfect world, we would televise both, of course. But thanks in part to the vindictiveness of three axe-grinding demagogues, the citizens of Gray don’t have that option.

The last people in the world who should be determining what you see on public access television is a town council – any town council -- but especially one that is as secretive and divisive as this one. If you don’t believe that’s true, just check out the video. While you still can.

-Paul Proudian

Monday, August 14, 2006

A little experiment... video streaming. Interesting possibilities. And hey, the song is oddly appropriate.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Don't waste my time

I hope my detractors don't think I'm wasting my time reading their rude and inappropriate comments on the other blogs.

In all honesty, I've been to the monumentnews blog once on purpose and a second time by accident. I've been to the gray-news blog once. I believe Liz Prata's blogs are one-sided, and appear to be outlets for her anger at the world.

I don't see the purpose in commenting on those blogs, especially since the blog administrators allow anonymous commentary.

Anyone wishing to have an intelligent discussion is welcome to send an email to me or Paul Proudian. I notice I haven't heard directly from my detractors. It's easy to hide behind a wall and shout nasty names. But it takes great moral character to stand up and publicly announce your beliefs.

While I am diametrically opposed to the positions taken by Elizabeth Prata, and I respect the fact she at least had the courage to publicly state her opinions, I'm disgusted that she allows commenters on her blogs to post anonymously. I believe her actions have fomented the continued devisiveness and nastiness in Gray.

Nathan Tsukroff

What are they afraid of?

I'm told my detractors have been rather nasty on some of the blogs.

I'm also told that the nasty comments are unsigned. I wonder why?

Any time I've commented on a blog, I've made it a point to sign my name. I'm not afraid to stand up and be counted.

My only guess is that my detractors in the blogosphere don't have the moral character to stand up for that they believe in. What are they afraid of? Perhaps they're afraid their neighbors will recognize them for the what they are . . .

Nathan Tsukroff

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A policy against photographs

Liz Prata, who apparently announced today she's quitting The Monument and moving out of Maine, complained recently that some groups in town don't send photographs to her former paper.

That's because Liz established a policy years ago that she would not accept articles or photographs if the sender was submitting articles or photographs on the same subject to another newspaper.

Liz sent numerous emails stating this policy.

It's ironic that Liz now finds fault when someone follows the policy she established.

Nathan Tsukroff

Our local paper

It appears Gray is back to having only one real "local" newspaper - The Gray News.

After trumpeting her glories for the past six years, Elizabeth Prata and the consortium that owned The Monument recently sold out to a chain of weeklies based in Westbrook. That chain quickly quelched Prata's rhetoric.

The Monument is now hardly more than a shopper, showing none of the sharp, biting editorials and journalism for which Prata became infamous. And it appears The Monument now prefers to print articles and fluff pieces about surrounding towns.

Thankfully, The Gray News continues on right here in Gray, supporting our town and our school. And The Gray News is produced by people who still live right here in Gray.

Monuments may crumble, but The Gray News carries on!

Nathan Tsukroff

Prata says "I quit!"

Dear Readers,

It's with a sad heart that I report to you, our loyal readers, that Elizabeth Prata, cub reporter for The Monument, has quit.

Prata has apparently given up on our wonderful town of Gray and will be moving down south. Word has it that she's going to be working on her PhD.

I'm shocked that Prata, who has been such a champion for all that is Gray, has decided to walk away from our town. Especially after all her rhetoric about supporting our town and wanting to make this a better place.

Thankfully, Gary Foster, Andy Upham, and Skip Crane will carry the banner that Prata has waved so proudly these past years.

Good luck, Liz, we'll miss you!

Nathan Tsukroff

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Tinman takes up the banner

It seems someone posting as "The Tinman" has created another blog in attempt to bring healing to our lovely town.

Welcome, Tinman, you have a big heart!

Nathan Tsukroff

The Monument in Violation

It seems The Monument newspaper, self-proclaimed arbiter of good and bad in Gray, is in violation of state filing laws for corporate paperwork, with the subsequent fines outstanding. The Monument was created as a corporation with what appears to be seven shareholders, and was recently bought by The Current newspaper chain of weeklies here in Maine.

Corporation paperwork is due annually on June 1, and the previous Monument corporation has apparently failed to file on time for the third time in seven years.

Liz Prata, the newest cub reporter for The Current newspapers and the former editor of The Monument, recently responded to an anonymous commenter on her blog that she no longer owns The Monument and is dissolving the corporation, making this a moot point.

I think she's got it completely wrong. Until the dissolution is completed, a corporation exists and must follow the rules laid out for all corporations, whether public, private, or not-for-profit. The corporation must still file all reports and paperwork. And if the corporation is being dissolved, then that corporation must file the dissolution paperwork.

It's disturbing that Prata, for all the noise she has made over the years about the wrong-doing and "missed deadlines" by everyone else, has failed to meet a required deadline herself and then makes light of the failure. If she is going to be an "investigative reporter" as she claims, she must be above reproach herself. If she's only human and prone to mistakes like the rest of us, she should give others the same "benefit of the doubt" that she appears to be looking for in this case.

Failure to file on time generates a fine of $25 for not-for-profit corporations, so it appears that the state does not consider this an egregious violation.

However, this certainly makes Prata look foolish!

From the state website: :

"This record contains information from the CEC database and is accurate as of: Mon Jul 03 2006 06:30:33. Please print or save for your records.
Legal Name
Charter Number
Filing Type
20001172 D
Filing Date
Expiration Date
Other Names
(A=Assumed ; F=Former)
Clerk/Registered Agent

Nathan Tsukroff

Saturday, July 01, 2006

We get letters

Another unsigned missive from deep inside wingnut country:
From: []
Sent: Wednesday, June 28, 2006 1:31 PM
Subject: False Comments

Please STOP with your false comments about the Council. You and Ray Clark need to 'Go Away'. You Lie, and are most unethical. Paul Proudian is not to be trusted; and keeping him on the cable committee would be a Negative. You were ALL very active in the recent Recall of Mr. Upham...including Brad Fogg...what goes-around--comes-around!

Monday, June 26, 2006

"Mayor" Foster?

What's happened to Gary Foster, chair of the Town Council here in Gray.

Has power gone to his head?

It seems that Foster, whose position as chair is merely to run the bimonthly council meetings, is acting more like the mayor than a councilman. All town councilors are considered equal, but Foster, with the support of vice-chair Andy Upham, appears to be trying to run the town himself.

The purpose of the the town council is set policy direction. The actual running of the town is supposed to be left to the Town Manager. That's clearly spelled out in Gray's charter.

Foster and Upham secretly cancelled the remainder of former Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz's contract. Foster refused to share council information with former councilor John Welch, obfuscating when Welch asked for straight answers about why he refused to share that information. Foster and Upham refuse to explain their actions to our citizens about numerous other issues. And Foster and Upham continue to blame everyone around them for anything that goes wrong, as well as attack anyone who disagrees with them.

Sure, this is just my opinion, but it seems awfully close to truth, wouldn't you say????

Nathan Tsukroff

Politics rears its ugly head

It seems that Gary Foster, champion of taxpayer rights and the right to free speech, has had a change of heart.

Take Paul Proudian for example. He was up for reappointment to the Cable Committee here in Gray.

Paul was part of the recall effort against Andy Upham, vice-chair of the Town Council. Foster sits as the chair of the council.

For the first time ever, reappointments for committee members were voted on individually, at the recent town council meeting. And Paul has the dubious distinction of being the first and only person to ever be turned down for reappointment on a committee in the town of Gray.

Brad Fogg, head of the cable committee, spoke strongly in favor of reappointing Proudian. And the Cable Committee is perhaps the least political of all town comittees. But Foster didn't want any part of Proudian.

I guess Foster doesn't believe in free speech after all . . .

Nathan Tsukroff

Getting it wrong, as usual

Liz Prata, the newest cub reporter for The Current newspapers, declared herself an investigative reporter at last week's Town Council meeting.

As usual, she got it wrong in Thursday's edition.

You see, Liz completely missed the investigation into why Foster, Upham and Crane didn't want Paul Proudian as a volunteer on the Cable Committee.

Oh sure, we read all about someone storming out of the room and slamming the door behind them. What we didn't read about is the "why" behind the actions of Foster, Upham and Crane as they once again made it clear that they only want volunteers who agree with their agenda.

It seems that Mssrs. Foster, Upham and Crane are getting back at Paul for his leadership in the Andy Upham recall effort.

I guess good volunteers on the non-political Cable Committee are not part of the "Council of three's" agenda.

Where is the investigation into that, Liz?

Nathan Tsukroff

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Personal Vendetta Accomplished

We watched in disbelief at the actions taken by our Town Councilors Tuesday evening.

At the direct action of Fran Monroe’s opinion of Paul Proudian, Gary Foster, Skip Crane and Andrew Upham voted against the renewal of volunteer committee member Paul Proudian to the Cable Committee.

We are appalled at the seemingly predetermined predisposed decision of the COUNCIL THREE. Who is next? When will this personal vendetta stop? Are we on a COUNCIL THREE’s hit list because we were part of the recall effort? Where do we go from here folks?

If our Town Council is going to abuse their power in this fashion, there will be few volunteers left and even fewer folks to come forward to volunteer.

Do we not live in a democracy? Do we not enjoy the freedom of speech here in Gray? Where is the attitude of gratitude for our volunteers? What kind of town are we becoming when wonderful hard working volunteers are treated with willful disregard?

This is more of the same shameful behavior like that of Andrew Upham displayed toward the Community Economic Development Committee Chair Julie Sheets of late 2005.

We feel our Town Council (3) has done a disservice to the core of our volunteer efforts here in Gray.

We welcome & value your opinionPlease feel free to contact us.

Lewie & Debbie Mancini

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Gary Foster loves to blog

Gary Foster, our illustrious Town Council Chair, seems to think blogs are bad. Unless he's the blogger of course.

Check out - for Gary's thoughts on the recall of Andy Upham.

Gary makes it pretty clear what he thinks about the recall effort!

And if you read elsewhere in the blog, you'll find some interesting thoughts from Gary about other issues . . . such as John Welch.

Nathan Tsukroff

Prata is looking out for our well-being

Thank goodness we have the good citizens of Gray looking out for our well-being.

That's how The Current's newest cub reporter, Liz Prata, presented her reason for calling Andy Upham back in April to tell him Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz was in the Town Hall.

Forget the fact that Berkowitz was still officially the Manager. And forget the fact that he had every right to be in Town Hall as the Manager. In a response to a question at tonight's Town Council meeting from Cheryl Welch, wife of former Town Councilor John Welch, Liz said she was driving by town hall on the morning of Saturday, April 8, when she say Berkowitz's car in the parking lot of Town Hall, along with the car of the town's attorney, Bill Dale.

Liz said she was "curious about why Mitch was in town hall" and immediately called Chair Gary Foster to ask if he had authorized the situation. When she was unable to reach Foster, she then called Upham, she said.

Liz said that Upham immediately came to Town Hall and Berkowitz promptly left.

Thank goodness we have Liz watching out for us. Because if the Town Manager, who was still the manager and a month away from the end of his tenure, was in the Town Hall without permission, that would have been trouble.

Or was Liz trying to make trouble . . . ?

Nathan Tsukroff

An investigative reporter

The Current newspaper's newest cub reporter, Liz Prata, told the world tonight at the Town Council meeting that she's "an investigative reporter."

I say the first thing she should investigate is the whereabouts of her journalistic abilities.

In my opinion, she's either a really bad journalist or just plain doesn't know how to report a story. After all, she couldn't even get the basic facts correct about my traffic duty at the high school.

First, I can't quit a job that comes to an end in a couple of weeks. Remember - I was appointed for a one-year term that ends June 30. I simply am not renewing . . . end of story, no big deal, and certainly not the headline news she pretends it is.

Unless, of course, all you want to do is throw mud at someone who revealed that Council Chair Gary Foster broke the law by deleting a year's worth of emails. Take a note, Liz - that's not my opinion but a ruling from the office of the Maine Attorney General.

I encourage Liz to keep at this investigative journalism gig. It will take some time and hard work, but if she keeps at, she'll be a professional journalist some day.

Nathan Tsukroff

"We don't want you"

The Council of Three spoke loud and clear tonight, telling Paul Proudian that he is not wanted as a volunteer in the Town of Gray.

After breaking down the list of volunteer reappointments into individual "orders", the council promptly voted against Paul's renewal as a volunteer on the Cable Committee.

I guess speaking your mind and trying to do what's best for the town is now a punishable offense.

Foster, Upham and Crane should be ashamed of themselves!

Nathan Tsukroff

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A new mandate for Gray's Town Council

The citizens of Gray presented a new mandate to the town on Tuesday with the election of Alison Libbey and Julie DeRoche over conservative Richard Walls.

Obviously, our townspeople are crying for common sense and this can be seen as a slap in the face for Andy Upham, Gary Foster, Elizabeth Prata and especially Jeanne Adams, all of whom supported Walls.

The vote left Walls out of the running by more than 28 votes, a large margin that sends a powerful message to our sitting council.

I think our sitting council will now heed this call from our citizens and mend their errant ways, don't you?

Nathan Tsukroff

PS - for those of you who need everything spelled out - this a satirical piece. Obviously, 28 votes is virtually meaningless as a percentage of the 830 votes cast. Walls' defeat is probably due to the whims of voters who did not have a lot of information about any of the candidates. And the town council will continue with the course of action that the majority of councilors deems best for Gray and its citizens.

PPS - if you disagree with my piece, I welcome your comments at . Please include your name, address and phone. Only your name will be posted.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Some thoughts about Prata and The Monument

Good morning Nathan & family,We read the latest issue of the Gray News—Wonderful Job once again! We love seeing Andrew helping out with the Gray Fire Dept & EMS –What a sweet boy he is!

The article under "Gray Matters" by Richard Barter is excellent - His eloquence is profound – Hopefully, more & more citizens of Gray will awaken to the dark side of evil that lurks within our town – It sure is mighty frightful to come to the full realization of how effective Elizabeth Prata has been in polluting the minds of a few people in our town. The defiling manipulative manner in which she reports the news and slants her editorials & commentaries is downright shameful! We became fully aware of this treachery many years ago when she first came to town & started up the Monument paper. Her poisonous pen has inoculation a tremendous number of citizens of Gray. By way of intimidation and insinuation, she has polarized our town. The verbal lashing and bashing of innocent people has been her forte for years!
We are hopeful that the new owners of the Monument will keep a keen eye on her writing and keep her at bay. Strong accountability is the best policy. We are watchful and aware of her actions, deeds and words—Only to help protect ourselves and our fellow citizens of Gray from her harmful corruptive ways

If anyone wants to share their comments with Lewie & Me, please email us at Your conversations via email, in person or over the telephone (657-2878) will remain strictly confidential- You have our word and promise on this

If you wish to post your comments here on this blog please give us permission to publish it also…

Respectfully Yours,
Lewie & Debbie Mancini

Election results

June 13, 2006

Election results, Town of Gray

831 voters for municipal ballot. A few write-ins, many of them fictitious. 25 legitimate write-ins, but no more than 5 votes for any 1 person.


Town Council (2 seats)
Julia B. DeRoche 459
Alison E. Libbey 525
Richard T. Walls 430
SAD 15 (2 seats)
Will H Burrow 387
Sandra M MacDonald 500
Sheryl Robinson 384
Gray Water District
Ben T Mott 702
(121 blanks, 12 write-ins)
SAD 15 Articles
2 – yes 633, no 187
3 – yes 620, no 197
4 – yes 549, no 264
5 – yes 588, no 216
6 – yes 349, no 257
7 – yes 593, no 201
8 – yes 659, no 143
Republican Party Primary
US Senator
Olympia Snow 325
5 write-ins for Edward Libbey

David F Emery 100
S Peter Mills 145
Chandler Woodcock 154

Dist 1 Rep to congress
Darlene J Curley 305

State Senator, Dist 11
Karl W Turner 338

Rep to Legislature
Dist 109 – Susan M Austin 298
Dist 110 – Clayton Haskill 61 (please check spelling for this name)

County Treasurer
John F Ridge 304

Register of Deeds
Donna M Chapman 321

10 write-ins for Edwin Blais

District Attorney
Stephanie Anderson 338

County Commissioner, Dist 3
Alfred L Austin 308

Green Independent Party Primary

Patricia H LaMarche 3


Democratic Party Primary
US Senator (1 seat)
Jean M Hay Bright 118
Eric M Mehnert 90

John E Baldacci 158
Christopher Miller 83

Rep to Congress, Dist 1
Thomas H Allen 217

State Senator, Dist 11
John P Simpson 204

Rep to the Legislature
Dist 109 – Anne P Graham 147
Dist 110 - Mark Bryant 64

Judge of Probate
Joseph R Mazziotti 200

County Treasurer
Diane Lee Gurney 197

Register of Deeds
Pamela E Lovley 200

Mark H Dion 204

County Commissioner, Dist 3
Malory Otteson Shaughnessy 194

Friday, June 02, 2006

A big welcome to our fans!

Just wanted to say "Welcome!" to the latest anti-Gray blog:

Of course, following the usual pattern, the publisher of this blog has used the name of The Gray News without authorization. This is absolutely not a blog hosted or posted by The Gray News.

And, as usual, no one is claiming credit for the blog.

Why? Apparently, my fans wish to admire me and Ray Clark and The Gray News from afar. They are happy to merely bask in the glow of our incredible journalistic abilities.

Or could it be my fans don't have the guts to actually stand up and be counted?

Either way, it's a voice from a person who prefers to hide in the shadows. What are they hiding? And why do they feel the need to hide? Perhaps it's simply because the blogger is embarassed by the fiction that he or she is posting.

Nathan Tsukroff

Thanks for supporting our Town Council

A quick thank you to all our citizens for supporting our Town Council.

After the close recall vote that allowed Vice-Chair Andy Upham to remain in office, the citizens of Gray have been generally supportive of the council and its actions.

I've noticed that no one is writing to this blog to complain.

I've noticed that no one is writing to the newspapers to complain.

And I've noticed that, with the exception of some speeches at a recent council meeting, no one is coming before the council and protesting the council's actions. As we all know, the lack of action is seen as acceptance of a situation. So therefore, the lack of protest can only be seen as support for the town council.

For all the noise many of our citizens made about the Pennell issue and the recall of Upham, I'm surprised there have not been more letters to the editor and more people speaking out at council meetings and workshops.

Thanks again for letting the council do its important work. The new Gray this council is creating will be an interesting place to live.

What do you think? I'm sure the council would like to hear from you! As would I.

Nathan Tsukroff

comments may be emailed to: . Please include name, address and phone for verification. Only your name will be posted.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A less-than-perfect town councilor

Herewith, an apology from Town Council Chair Gary Foster:

"From: Gary Foster [] Sent: Tuesday, May 30, 2006 10:46 AM
To: Lynn & Mark OlsonCc: John Welch; Denise Duda; Andy Upham; Skip CraneSubject: Re: Finance Committee

Hi Lynn,

The reason for this inaccuracy was my error in drafting the notice. However, there was staff present at the Town Office to direct anyone wishing to attend to Stimson Hall.
This was not the regularly scheduled Finance Committee meeting, but was arranged to review and discuss the financial services bid only.
We chose Stimson Hall for this meeting as there is limited space in the Finance Director's office. I inadvertently posted the time at 7:30, that being the usual time for Finance Committee meetings. The reason for scheduling the meeting for 8:00 A.M. was to accommodate TD Banknorth representatives.

I apologize for the inconvenience,

Mr. Foster is only human and prone to mistakes. Sadly, he and Vice-Chair Andy Upham found fault with every little mistake made by former Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz.

Mr. Foster and Mr. Upham insisted on perfection from Berkowitz . . . should we demand nothing less than perfection from them? Of course not! It would be better for us to rise above the pettiness and accept Mr. Foster and Mr. Upham as they are.

Nathan Tsukroff

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Candidacy announced by staff of The Monument

Jeanne Adams, who runs Gray Dove Printing in Gray, was recently welcomed to the staff of The Current, the new owner of The Monument newpaper.

Curiously, Jeanne Adams just sent out this press release. This certainly appears to blur the line between a news reporter and a news maker. It's also interesting to note that The Monument has spent much ink over the past years touting its impartiality.

Also running for Town Council in the June 13 election are Julie DeRoche and Allison Libbey. Neither have been endorsed by The Monument.

Subject: Press Release: Richard Walls announces for Gray Town Council
You may have received this twice. If so, it's the same
Richard Walls is a candidate for Gray Town Council.
Dick retired after 27 years at Chrysler Financial
Corporation where he was a credit manager in charge of
loan operations where his experience included managing
finances and supervising a staff. He enjoys being
active in his church and is a veteran who served his
country in the Air Force. Dick is looking forward to
the opportunity to serve on the Council. ÒI have been
actively following local issues for the last several
years and now that I am retired I have time to devote
to public service. I would appreciate the opportunity
to serve,Ó said Walls. He is a widower who has lived
in Gray for nearly 20 years. The election is June 13.
If you would like to get to know him better and talk
about the issues call Richard Walls at 657-3486 or
email him at
Jeanne Adams
12 Main St.
P.O. Box 187
Gray, ME 04039

posted by Nathan Tsukroff