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MA Senator Ed Markey Talks Kavanaugh, Gas Disaster, Charter At Pittsfield Appearance

Josh Landes
Senator Ed Markey, center, spoke at Pittsfield's city hall last Friday.

In town to put pressure on a cable provider, Massachusetts U.S. Senator Ed Markey also discussed state and national issues while in the Berkshires Friday.

Pittsfield city hall hosted the state’s junior senator as he unveiled new legislation in conjunction with fellow Democrat Congressman Richard Neal.

“There’s been an uproar from the Berkshires saying that while they are out here, they are now cut off from Channel 22, from the broadcast stations of Massachusetts, and they want to have those stations as well as the Albany stations," said Markey. "It shouldn’t have to be a choice, they are being left behind, it’s wrong, they’re being discriminated against, and they want an answer to the issue. That’s what Congressman Neal and I are going to provide.”

Markey says the bill will force cable giant Charter Communications to negotiate the return of two Massachusetts stations to the dial in the Berkshires, which falls under the Albany media market designation.  Speaking with reporters following the announcement, the senator turned to other pressing state concerns, like the company at the center of the Merrimack Valley gas disaster that saw explosions kill one and injure dozens in mid-September.

“In my opinion, Columbia Gas is making it up every day as they go along," he said. "They weren’t prepared for this, they don’t have a response plan which is adequate, and Senator Warren and I are going to stay on them every single day until they get us those answers.”

Overburdened and poorly maintained pipes in northeast Massachusetts where the explosions occurred received attention after the chain of eruptions caused 60 to 80 fires. Markey, who was elected to the Senate in 2013 after 37 years in the U.S. House, characterized the disaster as a wakeup call.

“I think that what happened in Lawrence and Andover and North Andover is a warning to us, that there could be other aging infrastructure in Massachusetts and across the country that needs to be looked at," he told reporters. "That’s why I am conducting an investigation as a member of the committee with jurisdiction over the National Transportation Safety Board and the Pipeline Safety Board so we get these answers. We have to know whether or not there is a ticking time bomb out there that could come back to haunt not just Lawrence but cities all across the state of Massachusetts.”

The Senator then turned to the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the psychology professor whose testimony that Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party in the early 1980s transfixed the nation.

“I actually believe she was credible, she was sincere, believable — and I believed her," said Markey. "I think that the Senate Republicans are treating Dr. Ford in a despicable way. I don’t think they’re being respectful. The least that they should do is to bring in the man, Mark Judge, who was the other person she said was in the room at the time with Brett Kavanaugh.”

Asked to respond to South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham’s claims that the hearings had been politicized by Democrats, Markey brought up his party’s complaint that information from Kavanaugh’s time serving in President George W. Bush’s administration had still not been made available to the Senate.

“The hearing was politicized by Republicans. We still, as Democrats, have not seen 93 percent of all documents which Brett Kavanaugh managed inside of the White House," he said. "That is absolutely wrong, they’re hiding critical information from the American public, from the United States Senate.”

He said Senate Republicans are doing President Trump’s bidding.

“It’s an unprecedented set of acts which the Republicans have taken at the behest of Donald Trump in order to make sure the American people do not get the information they need in order to make an informed decision about Brett Kavanaugh,” said the senator.

Markey was comparatively reserved when asked about the Massachusetts gubernatorial election, which pits popular Republican incumbent Governor Charlie Baker against Jay Gonzalez, a Democrat who served in the Deval Patrick administration.

“It’s going to be a great race!” offered Markey.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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