Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I turned 39 (2014)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

U.S. Representative John W. Olver

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Worcester Telegram & Gazette News Online
Sunday, November 2, 2008

John W. Olver

Incumbent

Age: 75 (2011)

Address: 133 West St., Amherst, Massachusetts.

Party affiliation: Democrat

Occupation: Congressman

Education: Bachelor of Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Master of Arts from Tufts University, Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Political experience: Served in the state House of Representatives from 1969 to 1973, the state Senate from 1973 to 1991 and has been representing the 1st Congressional District from 1991 to the present.

Issues: Mr. Olver supports securing our borders to limit illegal immigration, but also creating a process by which people can receive guest worker status; supports increased funding for public transportation; opposes additional funding for Iraq that does not mandate eventual withdrawal of troops.

Ballot questions:

Income tax repeal: No.

Marijuana decriminalization: N/A

Ban on dog racing: N/A

Personal: Married, one daughter

Mr. Olver’s e-mail address is olvercampaign@crocker.com. His campaign Web page is www.johnolver.com.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Olver

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Congressman John Olver
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78 Center Street
Pittsfield, MA 01201
413-442-0946
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www.house.gov/olver/
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111 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
202-225-5335
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www.cqpolitics.com/wmspage.cfm?docID=profile-000000000214
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"Olver critic ponders a run"
By Evan Lehmann, Eagle Washington Bureau
Tuesday, December 04, 2007

WASHINGTON — Aides to U.S. Rep. John W. Olver know Robert Feuer as the man who pushed over the first domino.

Feuer, a Stockbridge lawyer, caused an Internet cascade when he blogged about the Amherst Democrat's refusal to support impeachment last summer.

This, despite Olver's eye-popping assertion in a meeting with Feuer and other local activists in July that he didn't trust President Bush to abstain from bombing Iran and perhaps cancel the 2008 presidential elections amid public uprisings.

Olver has since expressed regret at his wording.

But the Web storm has persisted, even strengthened with the addition of prominent activist Ralph Nader, who criticized Olver in an online video for failing to act on his deep distrust of the administration.

Thank Feuer for that, too. He made Nader aware of the issue during a book signing in Connecticut and then sent Nader a description of Olver's remarks.

None of those tactics have pushed Olver toward pursuing the impeachment of Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney, something for which Olver expressed support last year by co-sponsoring a measure to investigate possible prosecutions.

So, now, Feuer is considering a challenge to Olver on a larger stage: in the 2008 election for his House seat.

"It was a kiss of death," Feuer said of Olver's comments about Bush. "He hasn't left us any choice but to field a challenger."

Feuer was introduced as that candidate last week at an impeachment event at Dartmouth College featuring U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a Democratic presidential aspirant and a champion of impeachment activists.

Feuer was taken aback by the sudden applause, but maintains that he has not made a decision. He made no indication that he corrected the crowd.

"I was sitting there in quite a bit of shock," he said, adding that there's "some probability" he will challenge Olver.

One way or another, either Feuer or someone else from a tight knot of activists within the umbrella group Northeast Impeachment Coalition will challenge Olver next year, he said.

"All this Congress has done is fight impeachment," Feuer said. "All it's done is quell the sentiment that the president must be impeached."

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"Non-issue of '08"
The Berkshire Eagle - Editorial
Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Next November, when voters elect a First District congressman, voters across the country will also be choosing a new president of the United States. As a campaign issue, the impeachment of George W. Bush will be as dead as the spread of monolithic Communism. Yet Stockbridge's Robert Feuer thinks impeachment may be his path to Washington.

Representative Olver's refusal to pursue the impeachment of President Bush has raised the ire of the Northeast Impeachment Coalition, a single issue group that is the left's equivalent of the one-note foes of abortion and stem-cell research that populate the right fringe. A Democratic Congress trying to accomplish something constructive for America knows that impeachment efforts would paralyze Washington before failing, but activists can't see beyond their one issue. Mr. Feuer is now considering a primary run against Mr. Olver, an Amherst Democrat.

Gadfly Ralph Nader, tipped off to Mr. Olver's recalcitrance by Mr. Feuer, can be seen chastising Mr. Olver for failing to back impeachment in an online video. If there is anyone on the planet who should not be criticizing any Democrat about their actions related to Mr. Bush, it is Mr. Nader, whose ego-driven run for president in 2000 was instrumental in tipping the electoral college vote from Al Gore to Mr. Bush. If not for Mr. Nader's folly, there would be no President Bush to impeach.

While Mr. Feuer was apparently inspired by the reaction of impeachment activists to his potential candidacy at a meeting at Dartmouth College, impeachment activists don't comprise the First District constituency. From Pittsfield to North Adams to Gardner to Fitchburg, voters in 2008 will want to hear candidates speak about jobs, health care, education and the environment. A candidate who doesn't speak to those issues will deservedly join Mr. Bush on the sidelines.

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A Berkshire Eagle Political Column
"I Publius: Ripped from the headlines once again"
By Alan Chartock
Saturday, December 08, 2007

This is a beauty. Many Americans believe that George Bush and Dick Cheney should be impeached.

Lying to Congress about WMD's, spying on Americans, torture, and not following the letter of the law that he himself signed are all impeachable offenses.

Nevertheless, along with Congressman John Olver and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, many of us don't believe that the votes needed for impeachment are there; that the American people would never stand for it; that the narrow advantage the Democrats enjoy in Congress would be threatened by involving the country in an impeachment process that can't be won; that children's health care, the conduct of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan would all suffer in a morass of an unwinnable impeachment debacle.

Robert Feuer is now saying he might run against Olver in a primary. They are pretty much in the same camp. My warning to Feuer is not to threaten if you can't carry it out. Years ago I worked for a very progressive New York State senator.

He was challenged by another leftist, righteous and ambitious candidate. Some of the people around my senator were nervous but when the election returns came in, his opponent lost.

In fact, the response was so overwhelming in support of my senator that he never worried about this woman or her supporters again. In fact, she really hurt her cause.

I really believe that Mr. Feuer has done some very good work in the area of clean elections in Massachusetts.

I have spoken and corresponded with him about this and he is an absolute true believer in his cause. But like other true believers, he will muck this up. He will bring ridicule upon himself and his associates. This is America. He has every right to run but he will not help himself or his cause. Let him save his bile for George Bush.

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AMHERST BULLETIN
"Bush and Cheney should be impeached"
By RICHARD SEELIG
Published on November 23, 2007

For well over six years, we citizens have looked on helplessly as President Bush and Vice President Cheney have lied to the American people and shredded the Constitution by illegal wiretapping, by inhumane and unwarranted torture, and by negating laws passed by Congress through hundreds of signing statements. Our representatives in Congress have done nothing to stop these criminals, nor have they held the administration in any way accountable for its appalling actions.

The framers of our Constitution wanted to guard against the possibility that a president might try to seize power and attempt to rule like a king or a dictator, without restriction. So they gave the American people, through our representatives in Congress, the power to impeach the president and the vice president for "treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors." The broadness of the phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors," written in 1787, has enabled the Constitution to remain flexible and adapt to change as our nation has evolved. Impeachment is mentioned six times in our Constitution, so our Founding Fathers clearly wanted this tool to be used if it were needed.

One of the fundamental strengths of our Constitution is that it divides government power into three separate and equal branches; if any one branch acquires too much power, the balance is upset and our democracy is threatened. Impeachment is an essential tool of democracy, the ultimate way to protect our system, our people, and our country from officials who threaten our survivability as a nation.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush has increasingly taken power that rightfully belongs to the Congress and the courts and, as a result, has destabilized our government. His administration must be held accountable, and impeachment is the only Constitutional remedy we have.

First, the Judiciary Committee in the House of Representatives, following thorough investigations and testimony at hearings, draws up a list of charges called articles of impeachment. A simple majority vote in the whole House of Representatives on any charge is required to impeach an official on each charge. Second, the Senate holds a trial to determine guilt or innocence; a two-thirds vote is required to convict. If an official is convicted, his sole punishment is removal from office.

Only two presidents have been impeached: Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton; Richard Nixon would have been impeached had he not resigned, but no president has ever been removed from office through impeachment. Impeachment, however, has never been more relevant or more urgent. No president in U.S. history has ever come close to committing as many crimes against our civil liberties and our democratic system as have the present occupants of the White House. If this administration is not held accountable for its crimes, what message will that send to future presidents and citizens in our country and around the world?

The president and vice president lied to the Congress and the American people about the reasons for attacking Iraq, itself an impeachable offense. That war has dragged on for four and a half years with no end in sight. The White House now talks of attacking another sovereign country, Iran, which could easily expand into a regional war or worse.

Discussion of impeachment is emotional and contentious. Yet it has been ignored by the mainstream news media. Polls tell us that more than half the American people believe that, if investigations show they that the president and vice president have committed crimes, they should be impeached. Yet the Democratic leadership in Congress refuses to hold hearings, and has indicated that this refusal is for political reasons. We, as citizens, have a responsibility to become informed about this most critical issue by reading our Constitution, by educating ourselves about the reasons for and the process of impeachment, and by talking to each other.

Eighty-seven cities and towns (19 in Massachusetts) have passed resolutions asking the speaker of the House of Representatives to begin the impeachment process. Twenty representatives (although none from Massachusetts so far) are sponsoring a bill introduced by Rep. Dennis Kucinich calling for the impeachment of Dick Cheney.

Our Congressional representative, John Olver, needs to hear from citizens about how important it is to end the tyranny of the Bush administration and begin impeachment hearings.

Richard Seelig is a resident of Pelham.

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"Tax benefit, bonus, aimed at veterans"
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
By JO-ANN MORIARTY and DAN RING, The Springfield, Massachusetts, REPUBLICAN Staff writers

WASHINGTON - Veterans and current members of the military could receive federal tax incentives, state bonuses and other benefits under programs advanced by elected leaders yesterday.

The moves come before the nation recognizes Veterans Day on Sunday.

In Washington, the House of Representatives approved the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act, a package of tax breaks to benefit veterans and the families of U.S. troops in combat.

U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, said military members and their families can suffer financially and emotionally during extended tours.

"We are sending the signal that we know that hardship has been created based on those extended tours," said Neal, a key author of the bill. "And that having a tax code friendly toward those on the front line is important."

The legislation makes permanent some temporary tax and Social Security measures that were previously approved by Congress. It also makes some significant changes.

The bill makes permanent the right to include combat pay as earned income for purposes of the earned income tax credit used by low-income families.

Neal said that there is a companion bill in the Senate waiting for floor action. He said he expects the president will sign the bill into law when it reaches his desk.

The bill allows families of U.S. troops to roll over amounts received as death gratuity payments into Individual Retirement Accounts or Education Savings Accounts. The bill waives the 10 percent withdrawal penalty for those who need to tap into retirement accounts after they are called to active duty.

"Soldiers are returning home to physical, emotional and financial hardships," said U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst. "We must do all that we can to ease their transition to civilian life and honor their sacrifice."

Legislators are also moving on Beacon Hill to help veterans.

The Massachusetts Senate on Monday approved a bill that would create a checkoff box on annual state tax forms asking veterans if they qualify for an existing tax-free state bonus. The move is aimed at alerting tax filers that the bonus is available.

Yesterday, Gov. Deval L. Patrick, Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill and Senate President Therese Murray, D-Plymouth, held a press conference to encourage people to apply for the bonuses.

"The bottom line is that if you sign up to get this bonus, you are not re-enlisting," state Sen. Stephen M. Brewer, D-Barre, said at the press conference. "That's something everybody needs to know."

Only about half of the 27,000 eligible people have received a bonus. The bonuses are available to Massachusetts residents who were activated after Sept. 11, 2001.

The bonus is $1,000 for those who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and $500 to those who served domestically or in foreign countries for six months or more.

Daniel H. Bray, 27, of Westfield, who served in the Army for a year in Iraq, received $1,000 bonus a couple of weeks ago.

Bray said the state "absolutely" needs to get the word out about the bonuses.

"We all deserve it," Bray said. "More states should be doing the same thing."

Cynthia A. Curtis, of Greenfield, a retired Army staff sergeant, said she received a bonus within two weeks of applying. Curtis also said the bonus is well deserved. "We all missed out a lot with our families," said Curtis, married with four teenage children.

During the press conference, Patrick said the bonus is a small token. "But it is a token of deep gratitude and appreciation ... for extraordinary service," the governor said.

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Dan Ring can be reached at dring@repub.com
Jo-Ann Moriarty can be reached at jo-ann.moriarty@newhouse.com

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Federal Cap-and-Trade Bills

Members of the 110th Congress had introduced more than 125 bills, resolutions, and amendments specifically addressing global climate change and GHG emissions by June 2007. Included in these bills are a number of cap-and-trade bills several of which are summarized below.4

The Climate Stewardship Act introduced by John Olver establishes a market-driven system of tradable GHG allowances, administered by the EPA, to begin in 2012. The bill establishes a national GHG database and registry, as well as the Climate Change Credit Corporation. This non-profit corporation with a President appointed board would be allocated a portion of tradable allowances and would be able to buy and sell other allowances. The Climate Change Credit Corporation would be required to use the proceeds from its trading activities to reduce costs borne by consumers as a result of the GHG reduction requirements of the Act.

Source: http://www.mondaq.com/article.asp?articleid=54970
12/6/2007

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The Republican, Springfield, Massachusetts
"Cold-weather states get cold shoulder?"
Saturday, December 08, 2007

Here's a multiple-choice test for families living in Massachusetts: If you had to choose, which one of these necessities would you eliminate this winter: (A) food, (B) heating oil, (C) prescription drugs or (D) none of the above?

It will be a test for low-income families this winter because they cannot afford to pay their heating bills and still have enough money to pay for all the other basic needs.

The federal program to assist these families - the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP - is in the news every year about this time because the funding level for the program does not keep pace with the rising costs of heating oil.

This year is no different.

U.S. Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry are among a bipartisan group of senators co-sponsoring a bill to provide an additional $1 billion in emergency funding for LIHEAP.

Reps. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, and John W. Olver, D-Amherst, champion the program in the House.

When President Bush argues that he needs billions to fund the war in Iraq and keep America safe at home, it is reasonable for lawmakers to remind him that Americans also need to be warm in their homes. The war in Iraq is costing about $10 billion a month, according to one estimate. The Senate bill seeks $1 billion in emergency funds for LIHEAP.

Directors of fuel-assistance programs in Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties warn that the existing funds will run out long before the end of winter.

The fuel-assistance program was created in 1978 by the late Silvio Conte, a Republican congressman from Pittsfield who was worried that unemployed factory workers in his Berkshire County district would not have enough money to heat their homes. It remains today a life saver for low-income families.

The average price in Massachusetts for a gallon of heating oil on Tuesday was $3.22. The price last year on the same date was $2.40.

With that increase, which is expected to boost heating oil costs by nearly $1,000 for the average family this winter, the poor need help now.

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NEWS ARTICLE:

"Olver's budget concerns"
By Evan Lehmann, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Wednesday, December 12, 2007

WASHINGTON — Succumbing to White House pressure, congressional Democrats appeared ready to slash thousands of earmarks from the proposed federal budget to reduce spending and avoid a presidential veto.

Massachusetts lawmakers could lose hundreds of earmarks for special projects amounting to more than $215 million. Some of Olver's $16 million in projects include $1 million for the Pittsfield Downtown Streetscape and $275,000 for renovation of Berkshire Music Hall and the Octagon House.

"It might help to get the budget passed. But I don't agree with that at all," said U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, an Amherst Democrat and chairman of the Appropriation Committee's transportation panel. "If that happens, we'd be done."

It's the first time Olver has overseen the development of the spending package for federal transportation and housing programs, amounting to $105.6 billion. And it has not been a smooth ride.

President Bush has been threatening to veto Olver's bill and several others for months, saying that, together, they overspend his proposed $933 billion budget by $22 billion.

The threats have frustrated Democrats, who cut the level of earmarks this year by 40 percent, as compared with the Republican-led budget of 2006.

"I think it particularly curious, let's say curious, that the president has singled all these budgets every year, never raised a fuss, not a whimper, never a veto on any of the budgets," Olver said.

The Democrats sought to meet Bush halfway last week by cutting $11 billion from the collection of budget bills, a move that many worried would hurt social programs such as low-income housing and Community Development Block Grants.

Democratic leaders also sweetened the deal by including $70 billion for funding military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The reduction was not enough for the White House, which expressed another terse veto threat over the weekend.

This week, Rep. David Obey, a Wisconsin Democrat and chairman of the Appropriations Committee, ended negotiations and said he would meet the president's budget number of $933 billion.

To get there, Obey threatened to slash about 9,000 earmarks from the spending bills to reduce overhead, while reducing programs favored by Bush. Obey also stripped the war funding. Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats alike could suffer the loss of special projects for their home districts.

"It could be enormously problematical if we were to go to the president's numbers," Olver said.

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"Wrong way to cut spending"
The Berkshire Eagle - Editorial
Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Bush administration, which has run the budget deficit up to astronomical levels because of the war in Iraq, is now threatening congressional Democrats with a presidential veto unless they trim thousands of earmarks slated for this year's federal spending plan. Specifically, Mr. Bush has threatened to veto $16 million in transportation and housing projects suggested by U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, which includes $1 million in funding that the Amherst Democrat has proposed for Pittsfield's Downtown Streetscape Project and an additional $275,000 for assorted Barrington Stage Company projects.

It's understandable that Mr. Bush wants to keep spending in line, but this request seems more punitive then perfunctory, considering federal Democrats have already cut the level of earmarks by 40 percent. Olver has already voiced his suspicions, terming the proposals suggested by the Bush administration "curious" considering the president has never threatened to veto items in previous federal budget proposals. Legislators are often fond of attaching earmarks, also known as "pork," onto spending bills to fund projects in their home districts.

There's no doubt that some of these attachments need to go. But the current administration should get its own financial house in order first before asking others to help strip federal spending to the bone.

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"Veto risks street fix"
By Ellen G. Lahr, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Thursday, December 13, 2007

PITTSFIELD — The city's director of community development said yesterday she is hopeful that U.S. Rep. John W. Olver will be able to hang onto $1 million in federal funding earmarked for streetscape improvements in downtown Pittsfield.

Deanna Ruffer, community development director, said money at risk in Washington, D.C., is part of a multi-million dollar package of state, federal and city funds needed for improvements to the city's main thoroughfare — from Memorial Park on South Street to Wahconah Park on Wahconah Street, and encompassing the heart of North Street.

About $3 million is in hand, and work is scheduled to begin next spring, but the $1 million is a crucial component of the ongoing project, she said.

Fingers are crossed

"We talked to his office today, and obviously we hope the earmark will stay in place," said Ruffer.

Congressional Democrats such as Olver are under White House pressure to slash thousands of individual earmarks from the proposed federal budget to avoid a presidential veto.

Along with the Pittsfield street project, $275,000 is targeted for work at the Barrington Stage Co.'s property on Union Street. Julianne Boyd, artistic director of the Barrington Stage Co., could not be reached for comment yesterday on the funds sought for the theater, which relocated from Great Barrington to downtown Pittsfield two years ago.

Millions requested

Altogether, Olver has requested $16 million for various project in his Western Massachusetts district.

The downtown streetscape plan will cost between $10 million and $12 million over the next three to five years. About $3 million has already been secured to launch the project next year, Ruffer said. The project is to unfold as funds become available.

"We have proposals out for another $3 million in the works, including this earmark mentioned today," Ruffer said. "In an ideal situation, we would want to complete all of the construction within a three- to five-year period.

"The congressman has been a strong supporter for this project. It's part of the overall downtown revitalization project, and part of our goal to bring a half-million people each year downtown," she continued. "We've been referring to it as redecorating the city — and county's — living room."

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02-June-2006

Dear Berkshire Bloggers,

RE: "Berkshire Discussion on Spying: Olver, ACLU Host Forum" (The Berkshire Eagle, June 2nd, 2006): I am in 100% agreement with United States Congressman John W. Olver and the ACLU that the Bush II Administration has discarded the central tenets of the U.S. Constitution by violating the double jeopardy clause in the Bill of Rights by re-opening adjudicated cases against American Citizens involved with suspected Muslim enemies. The Bush II Administration has also fully supported the Patriot Act, including the government secretly spying on "suspicious" American Citizens, thereby tapping into their telephone conversations, emails, library logs, among other personal information without any sort of notification.

The Eagle's news article states that there is "...growing public concern of unwarranted government wiretapping, as well as alleged federal practices involving kidnapping, rendition and the maintenance of secret prison and torture tactics...". And that, "It has only been a few weeks since Congress voted to extend and reauthorize many controversial provisions of the USA Patriot Act."

The problem I have with the Eagles' news article is not with Congressman John Olver or the ACLU, but with the hypocrisy of state Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo II's support for civil liberties after what he did to both my father and I, respectively, in the Spring of 1998. As I have stated many times before, and will state many times again: Nuciforo standing for civil liberties is a JOKE!

Once again, this is the true story of how Nuciforo has tried to take away my civil liberties! In the Spring of 1998, state Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo II made secret plans with the Pittsfield Police Department to have me arrested if I stopped by his district office. Nuciforo did so without either the Pittsfield Police Department or himself informing myself and/or my family. Nuciforo illegally told the Pittsfield Police Department that I was threatening him, which was a lie. Moreover, Nuciforo failed to apprise the Pittsfield Police Department that he was the one who threatened me on two occassions prior to his false allegations to the Pittsfield Police Department; with a mean look and long stare in the Summer of 1997 at Judge Spina's promotion ceremony reception; and again in the Fall of 1997 at the North Adams Fall Foliage Parade when Nuciforo broke his parade route to get in my face to intimidate me with his then-Aide Sara Hathaway at his side. Nuciforo's real goal was to have had me put in the Berkshire County Jail whereby Sheriff Carmen Massimiano II would have seen to it that his Jailer staff would have tortured me! The City of Pittsfield & the Berkshire County Jail should thank their lucky stars that they did not go through with Nuciforo & Sheriff Massimiano's insidious plans to have me arrested, jailed & tortured. Furthermore, during the Spring of 1998, Nuciforo, again unsuccessfully, tried to get my father fired from his long-standing state job in the Courts through a Kafkaesque Ethics Commission Complaint in Boston.

Now, the Eagle reports that "On May 5th, 2006, the Massachusetts Senate adopted a resolution reaffirming the civil rights and liberties of its constituents. Sen. Andrea Nuciforo, D-Pittsfield, was listed as the lead sponsor of the resolution." The Eagle continues by quoting Nuciforo, who said the state Senate resolution, "puts Massachusetts on record as questioning some of the most offensive provisions of the Patriot Act."

In conclusion, I am pleased with the good work that Congressman John Olver & the ACLU are doing by addressing the aforementioned ILLEGAL policies of the Bush II Administration. However, I am appalled that, after I have apprised The Berkshire Eagle many times before about Nuciforo's attempt to Jail me after he threatened me on two previous occassions, this third-rate newspaper that gives news journalism a bad name would state in print that Nuciforo is a sincere coordinator and leader for civil liberties. My true story proves both the Eagle and Nuciforo to be WRONG! AND I will always speak my good conscience as long as I live!

Sincerely,
Jonathan A. Melle

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THE SPRINGFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS, REPUBLICAN:

"Scenic byway to be upgraded"
Sunday, December 09, 2007
By ALEX PESHKOV, apeshkov@repub.com

RUSSELL - A number of improvements are planned for the Jacob's Ladder Trail Scenic Byway, a 33-mile stretch of Route 20 that starts in downtown Lee and runs through Becket, Chester, Huntington, and Russell, ending at the Westfield border.

The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission has been awarded funds from the U.S. Highway Administration and the state Highway Department for landscape improvements to the byway in those towns, said senior planner Lori A. Tanner this week.

"We have $23,500 for design and $98,500 for construction works," she said. "It's going to be a bunch of little projects which we hope will enhance the attractiveness of the corridor and will make the byway more pleasant to travel."

Some of the main components of the project are roadside improvements in Russell and Becket, a wildflower-planting project in Lee, and river-view improvements in Chester, Huntington, and Russell, said Tanner.

"There will be scenic improvements to the intersection of Routes 20 and 8 in Becket," she said. "We'll be doing some roadside landscaping, planting, and cleaning along the road to try to make it more attractive to tourists."

The Jacob's Ladder Trail through Berkshire, Hampshire, and Hampden counties is one of six scenic byways in the state. It was designated one of the country's 10 most outstanding scenic byways in 1995.

Another federal grant for Jacob's Ladder, secured with the help of U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, was annouced this week, with $108,901 going toward the road's marketing project.

"Jacobs Ladder Trail showcases what is special about our region," he said.

He also helped to secure $500,000 for Jacob's Ladder in 2003.

The project will implement six of 25 marketing recommendations created for the Jacob's Ladder Trail Scenic Byway in a strategic marketing plan presented to the corridor management organization, Jacob's Ladder Trail Scenic Byway Inc., in 2005.

Some of the main attractions along the byway include the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, the Miniature Theater of Chester, the Huntington Country Store, historic Main Street in downtown Lee, and Countryside Woodcraft Furniture Co. in Russell.

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AMHERST BULLETIN

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Congressman John Olver, D-Amherst, speaks to Frontier Regional High School students Monday.(GORDON DANIELS)

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"Olver: 'One person can do a lot'"
By Cris Carl, Staff Writer
Published on November 30, 2007

DEERFIELD - Telling students "one person can do a lot," U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, urged students at Frontier Regional School to make themselves heard on issues that matter.

The group, made up of seniors and juniors from Gary Boisseau's history and government classes, quizzed Olver about the presidential primaries, the possibility of a draft and other issues.

Olver's comment about involvement came in response to a question asked by Kate Sabo of Old Deerfield, who wanted to know if he felt individuals and small groups could really make a difference in the world. Olver discussed human rights issues he has been involved with, in places such as Darfur, the area of the Sudan beset by genocide, and encouraged students to let their voices be heard.

Tess VandenDoler, of Sunderland, wanted to know how the change of majority party in the House and Senate is affecting government. "Well, negotiation has changed a great deal," Olver said. "Before, (when Republicans held the majority) there was virtually no negotiation."

Olver, who is in his 17th year in Congress, said that Republican budgets were quickly approved. "We (Democrats) have been told that we can not go one penny over President Bush's projections, or they will be vetoed," said Olver.

Only the military portion of the 12-part budget has been approved and a health and education portion was vetoed by the president.

Congress has two weeks left to create a veto-proof budget before the end of this year's final Congressional session.

Asked how he makes decisions, Olver said he tries to consider all sides of an issue. At times it comes down to "a question of conscience."

Olver said that he receives more than 15 times the amount of communication from the public as a result of email than when he began his career.

Taylor Childs of Conway wanted to know if Olver thought there would be a military draft. "Certainly not in my lifetime," said Olver.

When asked his opinion of the Jena 6 case in Louisiana, which involved an ongoing racial dispute in a small town, Olver deferred, saying he hadn't been following the case closely. But he acknowledged that "we have a long way to go on racial equality."

Olver noted that there were no black students in the Frontier group and that it might be hard for students to understand how different things can be in other parts of the country.

As for the primaries, Olver said he felt the process is being hurried this year, with many states pushing up their primary dates.

"It's all being squashed together in the first few weeks of the year. Then we have nine months of campaigning."

Students also quizzed Olver on employment and the economy. He advised them to make sure they earn four-year college degrees, or they would not be able to compete for jobs that pay well.

Olver said that more money has recently been approved for Pell grants and work-study programs. Student loan interest rates have also been lowered, he noted. "We want to make sure students can come out of college without a huge debt piled up."

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Friday, 14 December, 2007 - "Olver Newsletter"

Housing and Mortgage Reform Update

**E-Newsletter December, 2007**

Recent problems in the subprime mortgage markets have pushed the housing market into its worst slump in 16 years. There is currently an epidemic of subprime foreclosures that primarily affects hard-working families who’ve become victim of faulty loans. Subprime mortgages are high-cost home loans intended for people with weak or blemished credit histories. The subprime market has been rife with problems that are rare in the mainstream prime market: excessive fees, high penalties for refinancing, refinances that provide no real benefit to homeowners and steering families into more expensive loans when they qualify for a better rate. The crisis in the subprime market has spread to other consumers seeking home loans, has driven home prices down, and has spread into U.S. and international financial markets.

On November 15th, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3915, the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2007. This legislation responds to the subprime mortgage crisis by instituting much needed reforms to prevent these types of loans from being made in the first place. The bill:

Requires lenders to ensure a borrower’s ability to repay a loan.
Prohibits predatory and unfair lending practices.
Requires licensing and registration for brokers and bank loan officers.
Requires lenders to provide borrowers with clearly stated terms of the received mortgage loans.
Brings accountability to the secondary market of home loans.

In addition, Congress has passed H.R. 2895, The National Affordable Housing Trust Fund Act of 2007, which will increase the supply of affordable housing over the next ten years without increasing the federal deficit. The House also voted to end taxes on mortgage debt forgiveness following mortgage foreclosure or renegotiation and I am hopeful for Senate action.

This legislation is just one of the many ways that the 110th Congress is acting to strengthen the housing market and the economy. As you may know, I currently chair the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing, and Urban Development (HUD). Our fiscal year 2008 appropriations bill included $250 million to help with the current foreclosure crisis. We have included $200 million over the President’s request for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, a recognized intermediary between lenders and homeowners, to help individuals and families forestall foreclosure and keep their homes. A separate $50 million is provided for HUD’s housing counseling program to help new potential home buyers avoid future foreclosures.

There are many resources both national and local that are in place to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. I have provided the information for some useful organizations below.

We have much to gain by ensuring that home mortgage loans are being made in an honest and reputable way. Millions of Americans have benefited from homeownership and we should make sure that millions more are not stripped of their homes and left in debt because of the actions of unscrupulous lenders. Please be assured that I will continue to work towards solutions that will alleviate the stress on homeowners.

Sincerely,
John W. Olver
Member of Congress

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Resources for Homeowners Facing Foreclosure

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): HUD provides a variety of resources for homeowners at risk of foreclosure including free housing counseling services throughout the country.

Telephone: 1-800-569-4287

Find HUD approved Housing Counseling Agencies in Massachusetts:

http://www.hud.gov/local/index.cfm?state=ma

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Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development: Mass DHCD has a number of resources for homeowners including counseling resources.

Telephone: 617-573-1100

http://www.mass.gov/dhcd/Temp/07/foreclosure.htm

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Neighborworks: Neighborworks is a national network of more than 240 community based nonprofit organizations created by Congress to provide financial support, technical assistance, and training for community revitalization efforts.

HOPE for Homeownership Hotline: 1-888-995-HOPE

Find a HUD certified Neighborworks organization:

http://www.nw.org/network/nwdata/hudhousing.asp

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Saturday, December 15, 2007
By JO-ANN MORIARTY, jo-ann.moriarty@newhouse.com, The Springfield Republican

WASHINGTON - Western Massachusetts stands to lose upward of 3,700 apartments from its affordable housing stock because the Bush Administration grossly underestimated - by $2.5 billion - the cost to renew the lease contracts with private owners of federally subsidized housing developments.

The National Housing Trust, a private, nonprofit organization that promotes affordable housing policy, says the administration's miscalculation could affect the renewal of 500,000 expiring contracts across the nation, including 1,500 in Springfield and Holyoke alone and a total of 3,700 project-based Section 8 affordable units in all of Western Massachusetts.

U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, a member of the House Appropriations Committee and chair of its subcommittee on transportation, housing and urban development, added $616 million to the federal Housing and Urban Development budget on top of the $5.5 billion the Bush Administration budgeted to renew contracts for project-based Section 8 subsidies.

But the money Olver included in the House spending plan - which would help sustain the units for affordable housing - is at risk now as the House and Senate are wrestling this week with a spending strategy for 11 appropriations bills to run the government that both chambers can agree to as well as the White House.

Caroline Murray, the executive director of the Alliance to Develop Power, based in Springfield, said the financial uncertainty is putting the units within the region at risk of either being converted into private market rentals or lost to the affordable housing stock if building owners don't have a reliable funding stream to keep them operating.

"This has put us in a state of crisis and you can't plan for the future when you're dealing a crisis that's happened in the past," Murray said.

For the first time ever, according to Murray, HUD was late earlier this year on its payments for the Spring Meadow housing development in Springfield which was bought by tenants a few years ago. A tenant cooperative entered into a contract with HUD to maintain the operation of 270 units as affordable housing.

"We had late payments from HUD many times throughout the spring and summer which put us into a cash-flow crisis," Murray said this week. "We had upwards of $250,000 in unpaid bills," Murray said, adding that because HUD didn't make timely payments, "it put the entire neighborhood in crisis and the city of Springfield sent out shutoff notices on water and sewer."

The tenant-owned building at the Greenfield Garden Apartments, a housing development of 202 affordable apartments, also received late payments, she said.

"HUD inspectors were telling us to paint the building and we couldn't because HUD was late on its payments," Murray said, referring to the Greenfield Garden complex. "HUD has caught up with its payments," Murray said, "but now we can't plan for the future because we're still dealing with the financial crisis in the past."

Because of the shortfalls, HUD began an accounting practice of splitting fiscal years to fund the 12-month contracts with private property owners, or partially funding projects. When House appropriators became aware of the new accounting practice in October - HUD officials say it's been in place since 1997, they questioned if the procedure violated the law.

"It is my hope that HUD returns to 12-month contracts to ensure that landlords continue to participate in the program," Olver said.

If agreement cannot be reached on the spending plants, the $616 million Olver added to the HUD budget may be erased, thus undoing the work he took to stabilize the Section 8 project-based program.

The House approved that spending plan but the Senate hasn't acted on it yet because the president said he would veto the bill if the Senate accepted the House numbers.

House appropriators, in writing their bill noted that they were "deeply concerned about HUD's inability to calculate the actual funding needs of this program."

"Based on recent calculations on expiring contracts and the true annual voucher cost, the department has put the committee in the difficult position of correcting an undefined, seemingly unlimited shortfall," House appropriators wrote in the conference report on HUD spending.

John W. Cox, the chief financial officer at HUD, testified before the House Financial Services Committee on Oct. 17 and confirmed to lawmakers that the federal housing agency, because of financial constraints, had not been funding contract renewals on a full-year basis.

"I realize that some of our housing program partners may have experienced hardships during this transition period and I apologize on behalf of the department," Cox told lawmakers.

"Regrettably, many of our business partners experienced contract payment delays as we developed and executed this strategy. While we took steps to provide as much relief as possible - such as allowing owners to borrow against project reserves or requesting mortgage forbearance - many (fiscal year) 2007 payments were not paid on time," he said.

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"Olver could fight his bill: 'There are principles involved'"
By Evan Lehmann, Berkshire Eagle Washington Bureau
Wednesday, December 19, 2007

WASHINGTON — He's been focused on it like a microscope for months, his most prestigious project in Congress.

But U.S. Rep. John Olver may now be prepared to vote against it, an intricate transportation budget bill that includes millions of dollars for Massachusetts projects.

"I would prefer not to be," Olver said of opposing his own legislation. "But there are principles involved."

What could make a 16-year lawmaker turn against a project he's been waiting for years to undertake, finally able to after securing a new chairmanship in a new Democratic majority?

It's this: a provision adding $70 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The war funding marks the latest pitfall in a budget battle beleaguered by threats of presidential vetoes, partisan clashes and Democratic capitulation.

Olver saw his $105.6 billion bill, which provides annual budgets for the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development departments, shrink by several billion dollars and then be lumped into a catchall measure with 10 other spending bills.

Democrats combined the bills, known as an omnibus, as they scrambled to pass the federal budget before leaving Washington for the holidays. They sought to end months of criticism by President Bush and avoid a potential shutdown of the federal government.

But the process has frustrated some Democrats.

"It's better not to do these things by omnibus," Olver said yesterday outside the House floor. "You end up with bad things happening."

The war spending could drive dozens of Democrats to oppose the $515.7 billion catchall budget bill, even though it provides politically savory programs, like $3.7 billion for veterans health care and billions more for special projects in lawmakers' home districts, including more than $200 million for Massachusetts.

Throughout the fall, President Bush vowed to veto many of the individual spending bills, demanding that Democrats cut about $22 billion from their overall spending.

Democratic leaders slashed that number in half last week, hoping Bush would compromise.

He didn't, forcing Democratic leaders to cut the other $11 billion.

The catchall bill, combined with Pentagon spending, provides about $933 billion for fiscal year 2008, which began on Oct. 1.

Although the Democrats capitulated to Bush's budget amount, they did not always adhere to his spending proposals for individual programs.

For example, they infused more money into medical research for Alzheimer's and cancer, student aid and local law enforcement than the president advised.

The House was generally able to pass the individual budget bills throughout the summer and fall. But Senate Republicans enforced the president's spending plan, blocking the bills by deftly using the 60-vote requirement in the upper chamber.

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The Springfield, Massachusetts, Republican Newspaper
"Funds for WMass included"
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
By JO-ANN MORIARTY, Jo-ann.moriarty@newhouse.com

WASHINGTON - Tucked inside the $515.7 billion omnibus spending bill approved by the House to fund all government agencies - except the Defense Department - is money earmarked for Western Massachusetts projects. These include $750,000 to improve Edwards Street in downtown Springfield; $900,000 to build homes for homeless veterans in Pittsfield; and $1 million to install fiber-optics technology along Interstate 91.

U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, didn't want to comment on special projects the House passed until the Senate completed its work. But the Amherst Democrat said he successfully placed $7.3 million in the omnibus bill to upgrade fire and crash rescue services at Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield, where the 104th Fighter Wing is transitioning from A-10 ground-attack jets to F-15 interceptors.

Congress is trying to get a budget finalized by Friday that the president will accept.

The House sent the Senate a spending plan for domestic programs Monday night and is now waiting for the Senate to send it back, amended to include money for the war in Iraq. The House could vote as early as today on the amended bill for final passage.

The massive domestic spending plan the House sent the Senate bundles 11 appropriations bill into one, and protects the extra $400 million above the president's mark for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

U.S. Reps. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, and Olver said yesterday that even with the extra money Congress was able to include for federal fuel aid, it's insufficient to keep families warm this winter.

"It is not going to be enough, not with oil hovering at $90 a barrel," Neal said.

Neal said President George W. Bush, using a veto threat, forced Democrats to cut $11 billion in domestic spending previously approved by the House and Senate.

"I think the president's budget priorities ... leave much to be desired," Neal said. "We need to have a conversation, as members of the American family, about ... priorities."

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Funds for WMass included, Page 2 of 2
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Olver, who participated in shaping a budget that would pass the House and Senate and be accepted by the president, said yesterday the extra $400 million, given a "president who only cares about staying his course in Iraq and a Senate that's nearly evenly split," is about the best that could be done.

Olver, as chairman of the subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, was successful in protecting $616 million more that the president allocated for Section 8 housing subsidies.

Western Massachusetts stood to lose 3,700 affordable housing units because the Bush administration underestimated the cost of renewing leases with private owners of subsidized housing, he said.

Bush had requested $5.5 billion for the program; Congress agreed to $6.1 billion.

Michael Bodaken, president of the nonprofit National Housing Trust, which works for affordable housing, said the Section 8 program is still $2 billion below what it needs to renew all expiring contracts, but that the additional $616 million was critical.

"It is a good sign to investors, owners and residents that Congress intends to protect this program," Bodaken said.

He said that if the money hadn't been included, "there is no question that owners would have exercised their options to leave the program in droves."

Both Neal and Olver, often with the support of U.S. Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry, were successful in getting earmarks in special projects within the region, including about $900,000 for the United Veterans of America to build 39 cooperative apartments for homeless veterans in Pittsfield where the nonprofit agency now runs a 60-bed transitional living center.

John F. Downing, president of United Veterans of America (now called Soldier On), said the organization hopes to break ground on the $6 million project next spring.

Olver secured nearly $6 million to improve the passenger rail corridor between Fitchburg and Boston as part of a $150 million project within the state to improve commuter service. He also earmarked $1.47 million for downtown Pittsfield street improvements; $705,000 for the astronomical telescope at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst; $1.47 million for upgrades to Route 116 in Amherst; $1.96 million for the Conte Refuge Land Acquisition; and $1.9 million for the integrated sciences building at UMass-Amherst among other projects.

Neal secured another $1.3 million for the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute in Springfield; $250,000 for the Urban League's Camp Atwater; $312,000 for new equipment at Wing Memorial Hospital in Palmer; $185,000 for new equipment at Mercy Hospital; and $200,000 for Northampton to build 200 affordable housing units.

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"$555 billion bill sent to president"
Thursday, December 20, 2007
By JO-ANN MORIARTY, Jo-ann.moriarty@newhouse.com

WASHINGTON - By a 272-141 vote, the House of Representatives yesterday sent the president a $555 billion omnibus spending plan for domestic programs and the war in Afghanistan.

The bill included $70 billion added by the Senate for the war in Iraq, a measure that caused the Massachusetts delegation to vote against the final package. The bill was sent last night to President George W. Bush for his signature.

The huge spending bill folds 11 appropriations bills into one and gives millions of dollars for projects in Western Massachusetts. The funds were secured by U.S. Reps. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, a member of the Appropriations Committee, and Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, a member of the Ways and Means Committee.

Despite this, Olver and Neal voted against the bill to express their opposition to the continuing war in Iraq.

"The president continues to rely on military solutions to the deep, bitter political divisions in Iraq and the Middle East," Olver said, "The strategy won't work."

As chairman of the subcommittee on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, Olver shaped policy to protect and promote affordable housing and sends millions, such as $7.3 million for a renovation of a rescue-fire station at the Air National Guard Base at Barnes in Westfield.

Neal, who was able to protect $22 million in the bill for the Union Station project in downtown Springfield, also voted against the spending plan.

Before the vote, Neal expressed his satisfaction that the Union Station money is preserved while local officials in Springfield work on a redevelopment plan to present to the Federal Transit Administration. The agency has frozen the federal funds until the city and the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority and its development partners can produce a plan for the Amtrak station area that will enhance the economy and transportation services and will be a viable project that the local economy can sustain.

On the Senate side, both U.S. Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry, voted for the massive spending plan that included the money for Iraq.

Kerry said that the bill represented a "victory for dozens of economic development projects throughout the region. From health care to energy to transportation to education, this funding will help make a difference in the quality of life of those who live and work in the greater Springfield area."

Included in the funding is $750,000 for improvements to Edwards Street in downtown Springfield; $900,000 to house homeless veterans in Pittsfield; $1 million to install fiber-optics technology along Interstate 91; $705,000 for the astronomical telescope at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and $1.3 million for the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute in Springfield.

Funding also includes $185,000 for new equipment at Mercy Medical Center in Springfield; $259,000 for the Conant Brook Dam in Monson; $673,000 for the Knightville Dam and $679,000 for the Littleville Lake, both in Huntington; $165,000 for Holyoke Community College; $180,000 for Holyoke Medical Center; $314,000 for the University of Massachusetts at Amherst Safe Seafood Program, and $200,000 for the Westfield Boys and Girls Club.

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"[Berkshire] County slated to get $5M"
By Scott Stafford, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Saturday, December 22, 2007

More than $5 million in federal funding for several high-profile projects in Berkshire County was approved by Congress as part of an appropriations package this week.

One project, the Pittsfield streetscape initiative, will receive $1.47 million, a significant increase from the original proposal of $1 million, according to information provided by U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst. Olver secured the extra funds during negotiation of the final compromise package.

"(It) will boost the arts and culture elements of downtown, encourage new private investment in downtown and make the environment friendlier for residents and tourists alike," Olver said. "Berkshire County as a whole will benefit from downtown Pittsfield streetscape. Pittsfield is the economic center of the county, and the city's economy affects the regional economy."

The news of the funding was greeted warmly in Pittsfield.

"I can't thank Congressman Olver enough for understanding the needs of the city of Pittsfield and the impact these funds will have on economic growth," said Pittsfield Mayor James M. Ruberto. "It keeps us in a position to move forward on the plan we have in place — it couldn't be more timely."

The $10 million streetscape project will come in phases over the next three to five years, moving from the intersection of West Housatonic and South streets north through the recently revitalized North Street corridor. Work is slated to begin in the spring and will move from West Housatonic through Park Square, including the realignment of traffic around the square.

The $1.47 million will be used for the work on North Street from Park Square to Columbus Avenue in 2009. Improvements to be installed as part of the streetscape project include decorative paving, period lighting, trees, flower planters and planting areas, public art and historical statues. In addition, the sidewalks will be widened and traffic lanes reduced.

Another project, the continued renovation of Barrington Stage Company's new home in the former Berkshire Music Hall on Union Street, will receive $269,500.

"Barrington Stage Company's presence in Pittsfield is a real asset to the city and fits well into the overall economic revitalization," Olver said. "The theater is doing exciting, innovative work, and this funding will help BSC continue to develop productions that will bring people to Pittsfield for years to come."

Grants to other local projects include: $882,000 for Soldier On (formerly United Veterans of America) in Pittsfield; $750,000 for the Dalton Fire District's rehabilitation of Windsor Dam; $588,000 for Berkshire Rides, $502,313 to expand the simulated instructional mannequin system (SIMS) within the community college system; $492,000 for flood control chute repairs in North Adams; $246,000 for MCLA's Berkshire Environmental Resource Center; and $188,000 for the Gladys Allen Brigham Center's Youth Empowerment Services Plus (YES-P) program in Pittsfield.

"From the arts and environment to transportation, this federal funding will help our excelling organizations in Berkshire County continue to do their important work," Olver said.

Olver is chairman of the Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee and a member of the Appropriations Committee. He worked to include the funding in the omnibus spending legislation. The bill provides funding for the bulk of the government's domestic activities in 2008.

Last week, Democrats appeared ready for massive cuts to earmarks in the budget, including those listed above, to avoid a presidential veto.

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"Sad end to anti-war effort"
The Berkshire Eagle - Editorial
Article Last Updated: 12/22/2007, Sunday, December 23, 2007

Congress' approval of $70 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan last week as part of a $555 billion federal budget bill effectively marks the quiet end of the Democratic majority's effort to bring an end to the war in Iraq. The great promise of a year ago following the 2006 elections in which the Democrats tossed the Republicans out of the congressional leadership gradually drained away, in part because of procedural realities but also because of a disappointing lack of fire among Democrats in Washington.

Congress will revisit the issue in spring, but major policy changes are unlikely to take place that close to another election. Representative James McGovern, one of the eight Massachusetts congressmen, including John Olver of the First District, who voted against the bill, noted sadly that it "represents an endorsement of George Bush's policy of endless war."

When the Democrats took over in Congress in January they tried without success to cut funding for the war or tie funding to a firm withdrawal date. Lacking the 60 Senate votes needed to force bills to the floor, they were regularly stymied in that body, and they were not close to the two-thirds vote needed to override a presidential veto. Democrats, however, never took Iraq War policy to the American people who put them in office in large part because voters wanted an end to the war. Intimidated by General Petraeus' appearance before them and the bogus claims by Republicans that they don't "support the troops," timid Democrats remain paralyzed by the scare tactics that American voters grew wise to long ago.

Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson, appalled by the vote approving the war funds, says he will devote his campaign solely to the Iraq War. Mr. Richardson is a long shot for the nomination, but if he can focus his party's candidates on the war he will be doing the nation a service. Hillary Clinton, most notably, continues to triangulate a position that comes down on all sides of the Iraq War.

The relative calm in Iraq makes it easy for candidates to dodge the issue, but the calm in Iraq is the quiet of the grave. While the persistent effort of American troops has contributed to a decline in violence, the death toll has dropped primarily because there are fewer Iraqis left to kill. Neighborhoods have been ethnically cleansed of minority Shiites or Sunnis, depending on the section of the city in question. The U.S. has for the most part looked the other way while this has gone on in the unspoken knowledge that violence will not stop until the country is essentially partitioned.

Iraq is evolving into Afghanistan, the site of the Bush administration's other failed war. The so-called democratic leaders of both nations rule only their capital cities, or more accurately, portions of those cities. Warlords, tribal chieftains and militia groups have divided the majority of both countries into personal fiefdoms. Billions of our tax dollars continue to flow into both countries, much of it squandered or stolen.

The dream of democracy is dead in Iraq, along with nearly 4,000 American soldiers. The money, however, is still being dumped into the desert, with no end in sight.

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Sandisfield, Massachusetts
"Grant funds emergency antenna"
By Derek Gentile, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Wednesday, December 26, 2007

SANDISFIELD — A $42,125 grant from the Department of Homeland Security will enable the town to improve its emergency communications systems next year.

Fire Chief Ralph Morrison said last week that a majority of the funding will pay for a radio antenna atop Sandisfield Fire Station Number Two, located on Route 57.

Some of the money will also go to install a self-contained generator in Fire Station Number One on 79 South Main St., which will be used as a community center in an emergency, said Morrison.

The antenna will enable firefighters living in more remote portions of the town to better receive emergency tones from the county dispatch center in Pittsfield.

There are times, said Morrison, that weather conditions and geography conspire to mute the dispatch signals. This antenna, he said, will hopefully reduce that problem. At 52 square miles, Sandisfield is the largest town by area in the Berkshires. It is also one of the most sparsely settled.

A spokesman for U.S. Rep. John Olver, D-Amherst, explained that the grant is part of the federal Department of Homeland Security's Assistance to Firefighters program.

A total of $490 million has been awarded this year. But, the spokesman said, the grant is extremely competitive, as fire departments and emergency medical teams from cities, tons and villages all compete for the money.

Olver, in a prepared statement, pointed out that these grants "are critical to smaller communities with limited resources. Whenever I meet with town officials, the message is always the same: Municipal needs always outstrip individual towns' budgets."

Morrison said last week that he hopes to begin these projects by the beginning of 2008. But his plans are contingent on when the town is awarded the funding.

"Obviously, I have to get the money before I start," he said.

Morrison credited his brother, Police Chief Michael Morrison, Emergency Management Director John Burrows and Burrows' wife Kathy Burrows, for assisting in writing the grant.

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Massachusetts
Report: State likely to lose seat
Experts are blaming the loss on lagging population growth
By Hillary Chabot, Eagle Boston Bureau
Friday, December 28, 2007

BOSTON — With residents continuing to exit Massachusetts, a new report yesterday concludes that the state likely will lose a congressional seat after the U.S. Census in 2010.

The analysis of recently released U.S. Census figures predicts a sluggish 2 percent population growth in Massachusetts, far behind the national average of 10 percent. The report did not say which district would be cut, because carving out new districts would be up to state legislators.

"You are definitely going to lose a seat up there," said Clark Bensen, founder and head of Polidata, a political analysis and census data firm in Lake Ridge, Va., that compiled the report. "There's no way things are going to stay the same."

Bensen used the growth rate in Massachusetts from 2005 to 2007 to predict the population in 2010.

Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin, who worked to save the 10 U.S. House of Representative seats in 2000, said he is troubled by the figures but committed to a strong count during the 2010 census.

"It is, as they note, still a projection based on estimates," Galvin said. "This will be very challenging, because our population growth isn't robust, but we have unique factors here that I believe might help us up our count."

Galvin pointed to the state's vast college population — which can be counted if students spend most of the year in state — and to the immigrant community.

"For the size of our state, it's a remarkable amount," Galvin said. "We were effective in reaching out to indigenous groups up in Lowell and other locations to make them understand the need to be counted last time."

Massachusetts gained about 15,000 people in 2007 compared with 2006, according to recently released census figures, but the growth pales in comparison with the nearly 500,000 boost in Texas and the 200,000 increase in Georgia, according to the report.

The trend is nothing new. Massachusetts lost a seat in its House delegation in 1990, and before that, seats trickled away in 1980, 1960 and 1940 as residents shifted west and south.

Which district would go is the main question, one that leaves state lawmakers with broad discretion, Galvin said. The Legislature would set up a committee to consider the redistricting in 2012, taking into account population changes within the state, said David Guarino, spokesman for House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi.

The move also could prompt political infighting as U.S. representatives fight to save their careers. The Bay State was spared a nasty dust-up in 1990 because U.S. Rep. Brian Donnelly retired in 1992, but the redistricting in 1980 sparked a face-off between U.S. Representatives Margaret Heckler and Barney Frank.

"If anyone would retire in 2012, that would make things a lot easier. But if we have to squeeze 10 square pegs in 9 round holes, that's when it could get interesting," said University of Massachusetts Lowell political science professor Frank Talty.

A spokeswoman for newly elected U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas did not seem overly concerned with the potential battle.

"There are still several years before the 2010 Census. Congresswoman Tsongas is currently very focused on serving the interests of the people living in the 5th Congressional District and making this district, from Hudson to Haverhill, a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family," said Tsongas spokeswoman Katie Elbert in a statement.

The 5th District was on the chopping block at one point in 2001 when former House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran suggested creating a new district in southeastern Massachusetts, but the move was averted with a compromise plan.

Local census data show Western Massachusetts counties — Berkshire, Hampden, Franklin and Hampshire — actually losing 0.2 percent of their combined populations between 2000 and 2006.

Communities in the western part of the 5th District, including Ayer and Acton, are growing at a faster clip than Lowell, which lost 0.8 percent of their population.

Communities in central Massachusetts grew the most, with Worcester County's population rising a total of 4.7 percent in the past six years.

Galvin vowed to fight for at least $1 million in state spending to help U.S. Census workers collect an accurate count in Massachusetts.

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Eagle reporter Matt Murphy contributed to this report.

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"Redistricting fight ahead"
The Berkshire Eagle - Editorial
Saturday, December 29, 2007

Barring an unexpected influx of residents, Massachusetts is likely to lose a congressional seat after the U.S. Census in 2010. Given their choice, eastern legislators would certainly prefer to take a legislator away from what they see as the western wilderness, making our future representation in large part reliant upon the political future of veteran First District Democrat John Olver.

A report released last week by Polidata, a Virginia-based political analyst of census data, concluded that Massachusetts will lose a seat based upon its pattern of sluggish population growth. The analysis predicts a 2 percent growth in the state, far below the 10 percent growth rate across the country. Secretary of State William Galvin, whose aggressive registration campaign helped the state maintain its 10 congressional districts following the 2000 census, plans to again spend what is needed to help U.S. Census workers collect an accurate count in 2010, but the grim reality is that the state is likely to be reduced to nine districts.

The Legislature would establish a committee to redistrict the state, and past redistricting efforts are revealing. A 1980 redistricting led to a rugged battle between two incumbents, Republican Margaret Heckler and Democrat Barney Frank. Mr. Frank won that battle for the Fourth District and Ms. Heckler went on to become President Reagan's secretary of health and human services. A similar brawl was avoided after the 1990 Census when the retirement of U.S. Representative Brian Donnelly in 1992 led to a peaceful redistricting.

If Mr. Olver is re-elected in 2008 and 2010, he can be expected to put up a fight should efforts be made to tamper with his district. Like Mr. Frank, Mr. Olver is a long-tenured member of what is currently the majority party in Congress and he has influence to bring to the table. The Fifth District, headed by newcomer Niki Tsongas, may be vulnerable.

Should Mr. Olver be defeated in an election, or more likely, decide to retire, eastern legislators may look in this direction, and our delegation will have to man the barricades. The First District is already mammoth, stretching from Pepperell on the New Hampshire border to Mount Washington on the Connecticut-New York lines. If the district were, for example, combined with the large Second District, the new district would comprise more than half of the state and no representative would be able to do justice to all of the communities. That would be unfair, but politics isn't fair.

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"Rep. Delahunt endorses Obama: Quincy Democrat is first to support a candidate other than Sen. Hillary Clinton"
By Evan Lehmann, (Berkshire) Eagle Washington Bureau
Friday, December 28, 2007

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. William Delahunt endorsed Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for president yesterday, making the Quincy Democrat the first Massachusetts Congress member to support someone other than Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York.

"I found it a very easy decision," Delahunt said in a conference call with reporters. "I have a sense that he's a candidate for a particular moment in history. I see him as a transformational figure."

The move comes one week before Iowa voters launch the nation's nominating contests in the state's tone-setting caucuses. Iowa polls show a three-way Democratic race between Obama, Clinton and John Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina.

It also follows the rescheduling of Massachusetts' presidential primary to the earlier date of Feb. 5, a move that gives the contest new prominence in a compressed national primary schedule.

Obama's campaign says that endorsements such as Delahunt's are more meaningful with that hastened timeline.

"It's a state that has become very important in the process," Steve Hildebrand, an Obama aide who helped win Iowa for Al Gore in 2000, said of Massachusetts.

Obama, he said, has 4,000 volunteers in Massachusetts and recently opened its first Bay State office in Somerville. Gov. Deval L. Patrick also has endorsed the senator.

That buildup is an attempt to catch up with Clinton, who is supported by four Massachusetts congressmen: Barney Frank of Newton, Stephen Lynch of Boston, James McGovern of Worcester and Richard Neal of Springfield.

With the New Hampshire primary coming five days after the Iowa contest, on Jan. 8, Delahunt said he will appear at campaign events in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

He predicted success in the Bay State.

"I feel confident that the results for Senator Obama are going to demonstrate that the majority of people, the majority of Democrats — particularly here in Massachusetts — are excited about his candidacy," he said.

With Delahunt's endorsement, half of the state's House members have weighed in on a candidate. Rep. Niki Tsongas, however, seems intent on staying out of the race.

Minutes after being sworn into office in October, she was asked about her presidential preference. She responded by saying, "We have an embarrassment of riches" in the Democratic field.

She has not changed her mind, reflecting perhaps divided loyalties.

Two weeks before Tsongas won the special election, former President Bill Clinton campaigned for her in Lowell. She also has promoted the importance of electing women to national office.

On the other side, her daughter Katina is working for Obama's campaign in New Hampshire.

Tsongas is not the only lawmaker to withhold her endorsement.

The state's senators, Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry, also could be waiting until a nominee emerges from the primaries before they get involved in the White House race.

Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, meanwhile, wants to support the candidate with the best chance of winning the general election in November, said his chief of staff, Hunter Ridgway.

"He hasn't made a decision yet," Ridgway added.

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"Obvious case to impeach Cheney"
The Berkshire Eagle - Letters
Wednesday, January 02, 2008

If anyone ever deserved impeachment Dick Cheney does. He has led this country into a wrongful war on trumped up evidence. He has conspired to reduce our rights of privacy and habeus corpus. That would be enough in any country, but please let the U.S. stand up for the rule of law.

KEN NELSON
Lenox, Massachusetts

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"Pols bring little pork money to MetroWest"
By Lindsey Parietti, Daily News staff
Monday, Dec 31, 2007

MetroWest will receive the smallest portion of $236 million in federal money earmarked for Massachusetts in a multibillion-dollar congressional spending bill approved last week.

While tens of millions of federal dollars will flow to Greater Boston, west central Massachusetts and the North and South shores, the districts of U.S. Reps. Edward Markey, D-7th; James McGovern, D-3rd; and Niki Tsongas, D-5th, which encompass most MetroWest towns, are slated for much lower appropriations.

Out of 10 congressional districts, Markey, Tsongas and McGovern's districts will each get less than $9 million, or approximately 4 percent of the $236 million pie.

With the help of U.S. Sens. Edward Kennedy and John Kerry and her predecessor, former Rep. Martin Meehan, Tsongas got $4 million for her district, which stretches from Haverill to Hudson, Sudbury and Wayland.

"We're in the very early stages of working with local and state elected officials as well as business and community leaders to identify requests for next year's appropriations bills," said Tsongas spokeswoman Katie Elbert. "Congresswoman Tsongas will be very focused on finding ways the federal government can partner with the 5th Congressional District to serve our veterans, bring down the cost of health care and secure our planet."

Aside from Tsongas, who became the Bay State delegation's most junior member after winning an October special election to replace Meehan, the district spending does not reflect seniority.

Markey has represented Framingham and surrounding towns since 1976 and is the most senior House member from Massachusetts.

Congress approved $8 million of his earmark requests, including downtown Framingham improvements and money for the MetroWest Medical Center, as well as some requests for outside his district.

Greater Boston will receive more than $106 million.

Hunter Ridgway, chief of staff for western and north central Rep. John Olver, said Massachusetts fares well when it comes time to dole out taxpayer dollars because of Olver's position on the House Appropriations Committee.

"I think they get more than they otherwise would because as a senior member of the Appropriations Committee Olver is from Massachusetts and he wants the delegation to do well," said Ridgway, estimating the bill includes $26 million worth of earmarks for Olver's district.

After signing the $555 billion omnibus spending bill Wednesday, which included $70 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, President George Bush criticized Congress for wasteful spending.

"I am disappointed in the way the Congress compiled this legislation, including abandoning the goal I set early this year to reduce the number and cost of earmarks by half. Instead, the Congress dropped into the bill nearly 9,800 earmarks that total more than $10 billion," Bush said in a statement released by his press office.

"These projects are not funded through a merit-based process and provide a vehicle for wasteful Government spending."

Local earmarks include:

U $500,000 for downtown street signs and lighting in Framingham

U $750,000 for Edwards Street improvement in Framingham

U $97,000 for a video language interpreter system at MetroWest Medical Center

U $223,250 for the Middlesex Community College regional technology police training program

U $191,593 for the Middlesex Community College Health Education Program

U $300,000 for the City of Marlborough Wastewater Treatment program

U $320,000 Center for Technology Commercialization in Westborough

Several of the congressmen could not be reached because their offices were closed for the holidays.

(Lindsey Parietti can be reached at lindsey.parietti@cnc.com.)

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"Take strong stand for seat in Congress"
Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Will Massachusetts lose a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2010 Census?

According to most analysts, you can count on it.

Studies released last week show that the Bay State will lose one of its 10 seats in the U.S. House because the state's population growth is in a prolonged slump.

If you live in either the 1st or 2nd District, you should be very worried. You can't miss those districts on the state's congressional map - they make Western Massachusetts look like the big kid on the block. Yet, politics being what they are in the Bay State, it's likely that the region would lose one of its two seats under any realignment in 2012.

Unless one of them retires, that would force incumbent U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, and incumbent U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, to run against each other for a single seat that would cover all of Western Massachusetts. That would leave the region under-represented in Washington, and deny the region of the services of a long-tenured and able member of the state's congressional delegation.

Within the state's current 10-member delegation, Neal is number three in seniority and Olver is number four. With seniority comes clout, and these two have plenty of both in Washington. Legislative leaders on Beacon Hill should consider this if they are forced to play musical chairs with the state's congressional seats.

In the meantime, the region's lawmakers on Beacon Hill should spread the word about the importance of a complete and accurate Census count in 2010, particularly in areas where large numbers of residents don't speak English, and where mistrust of government inquiries may be widespread.

Secretary of State William Galvin helped the state maintain its 10 seats a decade ago by making sure as many people as possible were counted, including college students. He'll need to do so again.

With an all-out effort, the state may teach the analysts not to count their chickens before they're hatched.

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"Impeachment deadline set for Olver"
By Evan Lehmann, (Berkshire) Eagle Washington Bureau
Tuesday, January 15, 2008

WASHINGTON — An energetic impeachment activist is threatening to challenge U.S. Rep. John W. Olver in this year's primary election if the Amherst Democrat fails to support the prosecution of President Bush by Jan. 25. Robert Feuer, a Stockbridge lawyer and chairman of the town Democratic committee, laid down the deadline recently in a lengthy e-mail to Olver's chief of staff, Hunter Ridgway.

"The president has indicted himself on torture and wiretapping, and if this 110th Democratic Congress does not commence impeachment hearings, its Democrats will not see the light of day at the 2008 polls," Feuer warned in the e-mail.

Olver opposes impeachment. He says Republican lawmakers could effectively block the proceedings after a bitter partisan fight, delaying passage of domestic legislation, frustrating attempts to end the Iraq war and imperiling Democratic presidential aspirations.

"I don't expect John's position to change, but he does understand and feel the same frustration that so many others feel with the president," Ridgway said of impeachment activists.

Feuer, 66, has made a name for himself among New England impeachment activists by speaking at events in Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire promoting the ousting of Bush and Vice President Cheney.

In July, Feuer prompted a cascade of online commentary about what he says is Olver's contradictory positions: at once distrusting deeply the Bush administration, but refusing to pursue impeachment. Ralph Nader joined the barrage by criticizing Olver.

It started July 5 at a small gathering of liberal Berkshire activists at which Olver rejected impeachment, then asserted that it would be characteristic of the Bush administration to attack Iran from the air and postpone presidential elections in the United States. Olver later expressed regret at the comments, but by then liberal bloggers had seized on the event as an example of Democratic impotency. Feuer spurred that controversy.

And now, Feuer sees his potential candidacy as "a responsibility" that he is "totally unable to shirk." "Things are not going the way I feel are best for our country," he said in an interview, criticizing Olver on the issues of impeachment, of the economy and of climate change.

Never having held political office, Feuer is testing the waters and is poised to hold his second organizational meeting since Jan. 3. About 25 people attended the first one, he said.

"If I find sufficient support, and if I can organize a professional campaign that can win, then I'll don the mantle and be the candidate," he said. "The first step is to see if I've got enough water carriers to go out in the district."

He recently asked the 500-member local branch of the Progressive Democrats of America for its support. The organization prefers Olver but diverges with him on the issue of impeachment.

"We feel like (Olver's) been very supportive of us," said Susie Patlove, a congressional point person for the group.

If Feuer runs, he will be challenging a 17-year incumbent who received 76 percent of the vote in his last election after raising $660,000, nearly half of which came from labor, legal, transportation and other political groups.

Olver likes to say that he takes every challenger seriously. And he spends robustly to prove it. In 2006, he spent $670,000 to defeat independent Billy Szych, who captured 24 percent of the vote at a modest cost of $46,000. Olver spent $14 for every $1 expended by Szych.

He has not received less than 68 percent of the vote in four contested elections since 1998.

Feuer faces the prospect of running an impeachment-centered campaign as Bush and Cheney leave office. He says that that issue is a "threshold" to others on which he disagrees with Olver.

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"Economy, war are top issues as House returns: Vote planned to override veto on child health bill"
By Jim Abrams, Associated Press, January 15, 2008

WASHINGTON - Still smarting from the partisan wars of 2007, Congress confronts a sinking economy, a lingering war, and election-year politics as it gets back to work for the 2008 session.

The Democratic-led House reconvenes today with the familiar scenario of having to deal with a President Bush veto. The White House objected to one provision in a massive defense bill that opened the way for lawsuits against the Iraqi government.

The defense bill contains an additional pay raise for the military and Congress is expected to quickly fix the problem, either with a veto override vote - that would probably fail - or by removing the offending provision.

House Democrats are planning a vote the following week on overriding Bush's second veto of legislation to expand the federal child health insurance program. The bill passed by a veto-proof margin in the Senate but enough Republicans in the House have stuck with Bush to stop an override there.

Such legislative exercises had numerous precedents in 2007, when presidential vetoes - or veto threats - and Republican filibusters in the Senate blocked Democratic-proposed legislation or forced major changes.

Democrats claimed several successes in their first year in power, including raising the minimum wage, boosting fuel mileage standards for cars and small trucks, increasing security at seaports and airports, reducing student loan interest rates and requiring stricter mental health checks for gun purchases.

But the constant battles over domestic spending and the Democrats' futile efforts to curtail US military involvement in Iraq drove public approval ratings of Congress to new lows.

"We share the frustration of the American people and the desire to bring about change," said Senate majority leader Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, stressing that progress in the new year "depends on whether Bush Republicans in Congress will choose to work with us or will continue to work against us."

Republicans see it differently. House minority leader John Boehner, Republican of Ohio, said his party succeeded in 2007 in defining Democrats as big-government tax-and-spenders. He said the GOP "will continue to oppose these job-killing policies, and will press for reforms that will encourage economic growth and prosperity."

The Senate returns Jan. 22 to deal with a particularly divisive issue, renewal of a six-month law defining electronic surveillance powers. The law is due to expire Feb. 1. The House passed a version in November but it has a veto threat hanging over it. Reid has suggested extending the existing law for a month.

The House will also hold hearings its first week back on the baseball steroid scandal. On Jan. 28 Congress will host Bush for his annual State of the Union address. The White House will make its budget proposals in early February and a stimulus package to rescue the flagging economy is a growing possibility.

"I don't think you can just sit and watch this economy go into a recession," said Senator Byron Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, predicting that economic matters, as well as accessibility to healthcare, will dominate this year.

Any legislative efforts this year will be in the shadow of November's election.

"I'm a realist and I understand this is a presidential and congressional election year and it will be hard to do some things," US Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Donohue said at a news conference.

Nonetheless, Donohue said he hoped that, after the collapse of a major immigration bill in 2007, Congress might take some incremental action to address a shortage of seasonal and technical workers.

Among other issues in 2008:

Democrats, with no success in linking Iraq funding to an end to US military involvement, may take a more targeted oversight approach this year. The Senate could take up House-passed legislation to extend US criminal jurisdiction to contractors working in Iraq.

Both the House and Senate have passed five-year, $286 billion farm and nutrition bills. The two chambers now must work out a compromise acceptable to the White House.

The White House is pressing for renewal of the No Child Left Behind law, but issues remain over funding and flexibility.

Congress approved a free trade agreement with Peru last year, but congressional action on three other pending agreements, with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea, are uncertain. Democrats want to see expansion of a program offering assistance to workers displaced by trade.

Congress will also probably consider further steps to aid those hit by the subprime mortgage crisis.

There's a full plate of leftovers from last year, including renewal of the federal flood insurance program, improving consumer safety in the wake of Chinese toy recalls, expanding hate crimes to cover gays, funding embryonic stem cell research and dealing with the alternative minimum tax.

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"Impeach Cheney move has support in region"
By JO-ANN MORIARTY, jo-ann.moriarty @newhouse.com, The Springfield, Massachusetts, Republican, Thursday, January 17, 2008

WASHINGTON - Retired UMass professor Richard S. Stein is part of a movement across the country being channeled into an online petition drive to the Democratic House leadership demanding impeachment hearings on Vice President Richard B. Cheney.

Yesterday, Progressive Democrats of America, a driving force behind the campaign to pressure Congress to hold impeachment hearings on the vice president, coordinated a national day to call members of Congress to tell them "to hold Cheney accountable for his high crimes and misdemeanors," according to the organization's press statement.

Stein, who lives in Amherst, didn't make a call yesterday. He had already spoken to his congressman, U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, twice about an orchestrated effort to force Cheney to explain to Congress - and the American public - the timeline of the administration's decision to wage war against Iraq and the information it had at the time those decisions were being made.

Stein, who had been in Washington with other scientists for a conference on co-fuels last year, spoke with the congressman in his Capitol Hill office. The two Amherst residents met again, this time in Amherst at a function sponsored by the town Democrats, and discussed the possibility of Congress taking action. Yesterday, the retired professor said he doesn't believe it is likely.

"I feel the vice president ought to be impeached," Stein said. "I think he has violated the Constitution.

"I think he ought to be removed. He ought to get out; we ought to get rid of him," said Stein, a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Stein, a retired chemistry professor at the University of Massachusetts who was instrumental in the development of the polymer center there, now spends his days writing, promoting the importance of science in area schools (he has videos about alternative fuels on YouTube.com) as well as supporting the "Draft Al Gore for President" campaign and more recently, working to hold Cheney accountable for actions that may have violated the Constitution.

A Democrat, Stein added his voice calling for impeachment hearings by registering on an online petition drive sponsored by U.S. Rep. Robert I. Wexler, D-Fla., a member of the House Judiciary Committee, which has oversight on impeachment proceedings. So far, 185,000 people have signed the petition. The Web site to support the Florida Democrat's initiative is located at: www.Wexlerwantshearings.com. The movement has not drawn strong support on Capitol Hill, where the Democrats have made the decision to focus on the 2008 elections rather than get derailed into what would be a divisive debate with Republicans over the vice president.

In early November, the House, with its Democratic majority, voted to refer to the Judiciary Committee a Cheney impeachment resolution, spearheaded by U.S. Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, D-Ohio, who is running for the Democratic nomination for the presidency. The vote was 218-194. But nothing has happened since and it is uncertain whether the Judiciary Committee will ever hold hearings into impeaching Cheney for his role in bringing about the U.S. invasion into Iraq.

Olver, who represents a liberal enclave of communities and is himself very liberal, said he doesn't believe that there are 67 votes in the Senate to remove either Cheney, or President Bush, from office, and pressing an impeachment inquiry is not the best way for Democrats to expend their time and effort.

Stein agreed with that assessment yesterday. U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, who like Olver voted against giving the president the authority to invade Iraq, also voted like Olver to send the measure to the Judiciary Committee to let committee members decide its next course of action. Both Olver and Neal voted against tabling the measure which would have shelved the resolution from further action.

Like Olver, Neal said it is more important for Democrats to keep their eye on the future and work to win the White House and keep their House and Senate majorities in the 2008 elections.

"It is in committee now," Neal said, adding, "I just think at this point, we ought to be focused on who is the successor to Bush. No one has been in more sharp disagreement with Dick Cheney - who served with me by the way - than I have. But the idea that you are going to get two-thirds of the U.S. Senate to move on this now, doesn't make, at this juncture, any sense with the presidential election 10 months from now."

Stein said that he had had that position: "there were lots of other things that Congress should be doing, why tie them up with this?" Stein said, as events continue to unfold in Iraq he feels a renewed sense that Cheney ought to be held accountable.

"We got into the Iraq war under false pretenses," Stein said.

Stein is not alone in the passion he feels about Cheney.

In Massachusetts, 23 communities - 15 of them in Western Massachusetts - have passed resolutions to impeach Cheney either alone or with President George W. Bush, according to the Web site www.mass-impeach.org.

The Amherst Democratic Town Committee had an impeachment subcommittee (to impeach both the president and the vice president) and held a forum on the issue, according to Peter Vickery, an attorney and political consultant and a former member of the Governor's Council, who represented the four counties of Western Massachusetts from 2005 to 2007.

"It was an even-sided conversation," said Vickery, who served as moderator, adding that "most of those in the audience favored impeachment and those onstage (a former history teacher and former ambassador) tended to be less on impeachment."

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"Ripped from the headlines"
By Alan Chartock, A Weekly Political Column in The Berkshire Eagle

Saturday, January 19, 2008

"Impeachment Deadline Set for Olver"

So Stockbridge's Robert Feuer looks like he's really going to do it.

He's going to run against John Olver, arguably the most progressive member of Congress, because he won't vote for impeachment. Feuer says that he sees it as his "responsibility" to run against Olver. He should be proud that he is backed by Ralph Nader, a guy who also never seems to get the concept of the greater good.

Let's look at it from another perspective. I think that George Bush should be impeached, but I will run — not walk — to vote for John Olver. I may be one of the ranking experts on this Congressman. I've interviewed him so many times that I can pretty well predict what he is going to say. I really admire the guy. He is stand-up and principled.

Of course, Feuer has every right to run. This is a democracy. If it's publicity Feuer and his group are looking for, they'll get what they want. On the other hand, they risk marginalizing themselves and their cause when they inevitably get their collective electoral heads handed to them. They won't come close to winning and people may conclude that the electorate doesn't care about impeaching Bush or Cheney.

There is one other possibility — a strong Republican runs for the seat and the Feuer bunch draws enough votes away from Olver to elect a Republican, maybe a Republican who agrees with the incumbent president of the United States on things such as the conduct of the war and wiretapping, the very things that the impeachment crowd wants ended.

Just take a look at Mitt Romney, a Republican in a Democratic state. Some folks get so involved in their own thing that they forget about the greater good.

"Racism v. Sexism"

Two groups in America are looking for a major political breakthrough — women and African-Americans. Put another way, Hillary versus Barack.

Certainly, not every person of color will vote for Obama, nor will every woman vote for Clinton. Yet there are a lot of people who think passionately about the possibility of this historic moment actually happening in our lifetime. It is a fascinating question. Former Congresswoman and presidential aspirant Shirley Chisholm made the point that the sexism that she faced in her life was worse than the racism.

Many women I know are extraordinarily excited about the prospect of a woman president. This is the stuff of fairy tales and operas. Think of it: the most powerful position on earth. Nonetheless, a lot of women won't vote for Hillary Clinton, and the Clinton campaign has laid hands on a lot of African-Americans who will vote for her. Tribalism is alive and well in America. People of all ethnic and racial groups take tremendous pride in voting for one of their own. But when someone gets or loses votes based purely on their gender or race, you had better believe that sexism and racism are alive and well in America.

"Romney Captures Michigan"

So Romney, a rich guy and the new hope of the Republican establishment, finally won. It took a lot of his own money and he won in a state where daddy had been Governor and a symbol of the good old days of the American gas-guzzlers. I am reasonably certain that Romney took off from Massachusetts because he knew the game was up.

In Michigan, he said he wanted to restore the automobile industry to its former glory. Maybe now would be a good time to examine why Japan ate Detroit's lunch. It comes down to this. They made better cars and everyone knows it. It may be sacrilegious to say so, but instead of wailing "Buy American," they might have done what they needed to do. Only now is Chevy running ads about the coming of hybrids. Hey, you give people good cars that get sixty miles to the gallon, and they will buy them. I wonder why Romney didn't say that in his campaign.

"FDA Declares Cloned Animals Are Safe To Eat"

That's great. It's wonderful to know that we are protected by the FDA.

What about all those drugs that we were told were safe, only to learn that they were either not effective or could kill you? One can only hope that these folks know what they are doing.

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"When the system is the problem"
The Berkshire Eagle - Letters
Friday, January 25, 2008

In his most recent column ("Ripped from the headlines," Jan. 19) Alan Chartock makes the obvious political calculus point about the greater good. Robert Feuer's campaign against John Olver could lead to a Republican win, as is the argument that Ralph Nader's campaign was responsible for Gore's loss to Bush.

This is actually a structural problem. The political calculus would go away if we had instant runoff voting. With instant runoff voting I do not need to make the political calculus regarding "the greater good" because with instant runoff I rank the candidates in my order of preference. Since everyone does this I can "safely" vote my conscience knowing that the winner of the instant runoff will be the one with the most votes highest on the lists of most voters.

As Nader would have been at the top of my list and Gore second or third in my list and Bush last, Nader may have been eliminated in the instant runoff, but Gore would have won. Maybe if people didn't make the political calculus Nader would have won. The current winner-take-all system has given us the mess we are in where our congressional representative can ignore the wishes of his constituents who, like Alan, are overwhelmingly in favor of impeaching Bush.

A super majority of the First Congressional District believe Bush is guilty of treason, high crimes and misdemeanors and want our representative to initiate, or at least vote for, impeachment, but something is so wrong with the system that Olver can conflate impeachment with ending the war in Iraq and get away with it. Apparently he knows he can rely on the argument Chartock makes and not worry about the challenge Feuer represents.

We don't get to vote for impeachment because of political calculus? So we give up on saving our Republic and restoring the constitution for the "greater good"? I sincerely hope that we are not so foolish!

JOHN G. ROOT JR.
Great Barrington, Massachusetts

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"Take back our democratic republic"
The Berkshire Eagle - Letters
Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The excuses for not impeaching given by Congressman Olver and his Democratic Party cronies, are all a pack of nonsense. Aside from their obliteration of the FISA Act, and the House's landslide passage of H. Res. 1955, the "thought crimes bill," and for past 12 months, this 110th Congress has failed to pass any significant domestic legislation. Nor has it made any progress towards ending the war. In the history of the nine prior impeachment proceedings against U.S. presidents, and without fail, the impeaching party prevails in the next presidential election.

Rather this 110th Congress has further denigrated our unalienable and constitutional rights through the July modification of the FISA act, and the October passage (404-6) of the Anti Home-Grown Terrorism bill, H. Res. 1955, the unconstitutional "thought crimes bill." Further, and during the past year, the 110th Congress has appropriated in billions of dollars, $79 interim, $197 for FY-'08, and $555 additional just last week. Only $10 billion of the latter appropriation was earmarked for domestic spending. To this, President Bush admonished the 110th for overspending on domestic issues. All the rest of the $821 billion has without accountancy or any strings been handed over to Bush and Cheney's War Department for funneling to their contractor friends at Halliburton, Blackwater, Carlyle Group, and the like. Profiting from death and destruction, and with this astronomical windfall, through private equity deals, these corporations have amassed ownership through the largest buyouts in U.S. corporate history.

When Congressman Charlie Wilson got his Congress to appropriate $500 million, the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Our 110th Congress appropriated 1,642 times as many dollars for the endless "War on Terrorism" in 2007, and we are no closer to an international resolve than we were during the sitting of the 109th Congress.

Deadlines are more than merely in order. Our national finances are in grave jeopardy, our banking system is on the brink of failure, as is our health care system, jobs growth, housing markets, and electoral system. With all time high commodities prices, inflation is assured, and in response, the Fed will have to raise interest rates. This will put the nails in our banking system's coffin. We, the People, must take a stand, take back our government, work together to clean up this mess, or accept this awful fate without a whimper.

Prescribed by our Founders, inscribed and intricately woven six times into our Constitution, impeachment is imperatively the only path towards a re-balancing of our separate but equal branches of government. As self-rule has decayed, much uglier forms of authority grow in its place. It is time to wake up, smell the coffee, coalesce, and act together to take back the night falling on our democratic republic.

ROBERT A. FEUER
Stockbridge, Massachusetts

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"Activist aims to unseat Olver: Stockbridge lawyer's deadline passes"
By Evan Lehmann, Berkshire Eagle Washington Bureau
Saturday, January 26, 2008

WASHINGTON — A Stockbridge lawyer inched closer to announcing his candidacy yesterday to challenge U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, as a deadline imposed to spur the congressman to support impeachment passed.

Robert "Bob" Feuer, chairman of his town's Democratic Committee, described the absence of a full-fledged effort to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney as "pretty depressing."

"I'm giving Congressman Olver until 5 o'clock tonight to say, 'I stand by the will of my constituents,' " Feuer said last night, adding that he plans to announce his candidacy Monday. "I can't see any retraction from that."

Olver, who has been vigorously critical of the Bush administration, indicated this week that his opposition to impeachment is growing.

"It gets stronger and stronger and stronger the longer we go," Olver said outside the House floor.

He said he was aware of Feuer's deadline, but declined to comment on it. Feuer is an impeachment activist who has addressed crowds, with other speakers, at several rallies in southern New England. He's critical of Olver on global warming and budget issues.

But a passionate desire to impeach the president is driving him to oppose Olver, who was first elected in 1991 and has enjoyed large victory margins in most of his elections since then.

Feuer remembers being "ecstatic" when the House of Representatives sent an impeachment bill introduced by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, to the Judiciary Committee in November.

"I thought here's the historic commencement of impeachment proceedings," he said. "I thought, we're there now, we've made it. This is the official first step."

The vote, however, effectively killed the measure by mooring impeachment indefinitely in the backwater of committee business.

"And here we are on the 25th of January and it's still sitting in a pile on the floor," Feuer said. "The will of the people has again just not prevailed."

Olver says impeachment can't be achieved because of Republican opposition. He believes it could also delay passage of domestic legislation, ending the Iraq war and imperil Democratic presidential aspirations. Feuer says Congress is shrinking from its requirement to protect the Constitution, given the administration's controversial actions in invading Iraq, the domestic surveillance program and the interrogation of detainees.

Feuer plans to begin looking for volunteers this week to help him build a campaign organization. He needs 2,000 certified signatures by May 6 to appear on the primary ballot.

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The Iran Diplomatic Accountability Act of 2008
(source: The Library of Congress), Thursday, January 17, 2008

Editor's note: The following bill for the US Congress has been introduced by Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9] on 1/17/2008 and has been co-sponsored so far by: Rep Hinchey, Maurice D. [NY-22] - 1/17/2008 Rep Kucinich, Dennis J. [OH-10] - 1/17/2008 Rep Norton, Eleanor Holmes [DC] - 1/17/2008 Rep Olver, John W. [MA-1] - 1/17/2008 Rep Waters, Maxine [CA-35] - 1/17/2008 Rep Woolsey, Lynn C. [CA-6] - 1/17/2008

Iran Diplomatic Accountability Act of 2008 (Introduced in House)

HR 5056 IH, 110th CONGRESS - 2d Session

H. R. 5056

To provide for the appointment of a high-level United States representative or special envoy for Iran for the purpose of easing tensions and normalizing relations between the United States and Iran.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE

January 17, 2008

Ms. LEE (for herself, Ms. WOOLSEY, Ms. WATERS, Mr. OLVER, Ms. NORTON, Mr. KUCINICH, and Mr. HINCHEY) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs

A BILL

To provide for the appointment of a high-level United States representative or special envoy for Iran for the purpose of easing tensions and normalizing relations between the United States and Iran.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the `Iran Diplomatic Accountability Act of 2008'.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

Congress finds the following:
(1) On December 3, 2007, the National Intelligence Estimate, representing the consensus view of 16 intelligence agencies, concluded that Iran had once had a covert nuclear weapons program.
(2) The National Intelligence Estimate also found that Iran had halted its covert nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that this program remains frozen.
(3) The NIE concluded that Iran's leadership was quite sensitive to international views and wanted to avoid international confrontation and made a `cost-benefit' decision regarding whether or not to have such a program.
(4) Serious concerns still remain about the Government of Iran's intentions and behavior with respect to the development of nuclear weapons, especially regarding its fuel enrichment program and the speed with which it might reconstitute its suspended nuclear weapons program.
(5) Hostile official rhetoric exacerbates tensions and reinforces misunderstandings and animus between the people of the United States and Iran.
(6) The United States should enlist the support of all interested parties to the region, including the IAEA, to establish a program to ensure that Iran's nuclear weapons program is terminated permanently, that its nuclear energy program is brought fully under IAEA inspection and control, and that all diplomatic tools are utilized to achieve these objectives.
(7) A diplomatic solution that includes direct, unconditional, bilateral, and comprehensive talks with the Government of Iran is the only way to resolve long-standing tensions between the United States and Iran.

SEC. 3. APPOINTMENT OF HIGH-LEVEL U.S. REPRESENTATIVE OR SPECIAL ENVOY.

(a) Appointment- At the earliest possible date, the President shall appoint a high-level United States representative or special envoy for Iran.
(b) Criteria for Appointment- The President shall appoint an individual under subsection (a) on the basis of the individual's knowledge and understanding of the issues regarding Iran's nuclear program, experience in conducting international negotiations, and ability to conduct negotiations under subsection (c) with the respect and trust of the parties involved in the negotiations.
(c) Duties- The high-level United States representative or special envoy for Iran shall--
(1) seek to conduct direct, unconditional, bilateral negotiations with Iran for the purpose of easing tensions and normalizing relations between the United States and Iran;
(2) consult with other countries and international organizations, including countries in the region, where appropriate and when necessary to achieve the purpose set forth in paragraph (1);
(3) act as liaison with United States and international intelligence agencies where appropriate and when necessary to achieve the purpose set for in paragraph (1); and
(4) ensure that the bilateral negotiations under paragraph (1) complement the ongoing international negotiations with Iran.
SEC. 4. OFFICE OF HIGH-LEVEL U.S. REPRESENTATIVE OR SPECIAL ENVOY.

Not later than 30 days after the appointment of a high-level United States representative or special envoy under section 3(a), the Secretary of State shall establish in the Department of State an office for the purpose of supporting the work of the representative or special envoy.
SEC. 5. REPORTING TO CONGRESS.

(a) Reports- Not later than 60 days after the high-level United States representative or special envoy for Iran is appointed under section 3, and every 180 days thereafter, the United States representative or special envoy shall report to the committees set forth in subsection (b) on the status and progress of negotiations conducted under section 3(c). Each such report may, when necessary or appropriate, be submitted in classified and unclassified form.
(b) Committees- The committees referred to in subsection (a) are--
(1) the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Armed Services, and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives; and
(2) the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Committee on Armed Services, and the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate.
SEC. 6. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this Act such sums as may be necessary for each of fiscal years 2008 and 2009.

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"Olver's Green Housing Bill Passed"
iBerkshires.com - January 20, 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House of Representatives passed the HOPE VI Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2007 (H.R. 3524) last week. U.S. Rep. John Olver, D-Amherst, initially introduced the green measure as a stand-alone bill in May.

The reauthorization requires new HOPE VI developments be built to green standards.

HOPE VI, a Department of Housing and Urban Development grant program, is designed to revitalize the nation's most severely distressed public housing. The green housing provision would require new HOPE VI developments meet Green Communities Criteria for residential buildings and a green rating system of the secretary of HUD's choosing for commercial buildings. The bill would also ensure that HUD will make planning and technical assistance grants available to applicants.

Green Communities Criteria promote environmentally smart site planning, energy efficiency, and the use of building materials that promote healthier outdoor and indoor environments. Some specific criteria include locating new developments near public transit as well as promoting Energy Star appliances, water conserving fixtures, and low volatile organic compound paint.

"With this vote, the 110th Congress had its first opportunity to live up to the spirit of the landmark energy legislation that recently became law," Olver said. "Addressing climate change in a government with shared power, with a Republican president and a Democratic Congress with a slim majority, has been an uphill battle. But today we took an important first step toward the Federal government holding itself to a higher standard."

Buildings are responsible for almost 40 percent of U.S. energy consumption, with residential housing accounting for more than half of this total. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2005, the residential sector also accounted for 21 percent of U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, a major cause of global warming.

HUD's current energy efficiency standards for HOPE VI developments provide limited incentives to encourage green building. For example, under the current selection criteria, HUD awards just one point out a total of 125 for the use of Energy Star products.

While a number of states and cities have already incorporated green building criteria into their affordable housing programs, if this bill in enacted, HOPE VI would be the first federal housing program with green requirements.

"Numerous cities and states already require green community standards. And they do so because it makes good sense. The small added construction costs pay for themselves within five years because green homes are 30 percent more efficient than traditional homes. That means that low income families and public housing authorities are reaping the benefits from lower utility bills over the 50- to 100-year lifespan of the housing," Olver said.

Olver is the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee on Transportation, Housing, Urban Development and related agencies.

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"State ranks eighth in defense contracts"
By Matt Murphy, Berkshire Eagle Boston Bureau
Thursday, January 31, 2008

BOSTON — Lucrative defense contracts, accounting for $14.7 billion in economic activity in Massachusetts in 2005, have proven to be a crucial catalyst for high-tech jobs and manufacturing in the state, according to a new report.

Massachusetts ranks eighth nationally in defense contracting, pulling in $9.2 billion in federal dollars that have sparked an additional $5.5 billion in activity, according to a study compiled by the UMass Donahue Institute.

General Dynamics, with divisions in Pittsfield and elsewhere in the state, scored the second-largest paycheck, raking in more than $1.7 billion in 2005 — about 18 percent of the total contracts awarded in the state.

Specializing in information systems developed primarily for the U.S. Navy submarine program, General Dynamics employs about 900 people at its Pittsfield facility.

"Virtually all of our business is federal," said Tim Taylor, a spokesman for the company.

The defense industry is directly responsible for about 32,240 jobs in the commonwealth, and another 39,187 jobs statewide connected with these contracts.

Berkshire County, in total, saw an influx of $56.4 million in defense contracts.

The study, conducted for MassDevelopment and the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, highlighted the significant growth in the defense industry between 2000 and 2005, when the value of contracts awarded increased by about 92 percent.

The spike has been driven, in part, by a $1 billion increase in Navy contracts to the state.

The authors of the report, along with economic analysts, attributed the success of luring these contracts to Massachusetts to the wealth of skilled workers and educational opportunities in the state.

"We must protect our position in this important arena, and nurture its growth," said Dan O'Connell, the state's secretary of economic development. "Fortunately, we're well positioned to leverage our already impressive record by making sure that federal agencies and defense contractors know we want their business and have the workforce, business base and will to meet their needs."

The giants of the defense industry, including companies, like General Dynamics and Raytheon, however, aren't the only businesses that have benefited.

More than $1.2 billion in contracts went to federally recognized small businesses, and more than $1 billion went to nonprofits and hospitals. In total, 2,435 companies received some federal defense funding.

Rebecca Loveland, research director of the Donahue Institute, said many small businesses use these military contracts to jump-start other ventures.

"A lot of these small businesses use the defense contracts and that economic engine to create products that span tactical as well as home household and consumer uses to branch out into other markets," Loveland said. "It's kind of a springboard engine."

Gov. Deval L. Patrick and other state officials said yesterday's report highlights the need to work closely with the state's Congressional delegation to ensure these dollars continue to flow into the state.

State Rep. John Olver pledged to continue to do his part to make sure large and small companies, along with universities like UMass-Amherst, continue to receive the funding they need to thrive and provide an educated workforce.

"So much of defense work these days is technologically based. This study really underscores the fact that our state has a very strong cutting edge tech sector," Olver said. "It also calls attention to the research being done at our world class colleges and universities."

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"Stockbridge Congressional candidate postpones announcement tour"
Berkshire Eagle Staff report
Tuesday, February 05, 2008

STOCKBRIDGE — Congressional candidate Robert "Bob" Feuer has postponed his announcement tour initially scheduled today due to inclement weather. A rain date will soon be announced.

The Stockbridge lawyer and chairman of his town's Democratic Committee hopes to challenge U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst.

Feuer is an impeachment activist who has addressed crowds, with other speakers, at several rallies in southern New England. He's critical of Olver on global warming and budget issues.

Feuer is looking for volunteers to help him build a campaign organization. He needs 2,000 certified signatures by May 6 to appear on the primary ballot.

For more information on this campaign, contact John Lippmann, campaign coordinator of Bob Feuer for Congress, 10 Elm St., Stockbridge, MA 01262, (413) 298-3329, johnlippmann@bobfeuer...

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2/5/2008
So far, Mr. Feuer appears to be a one-issue candidate: Impeachment of George W..(YAWN)
Even if Feuer were to beat John Olver, "W" would be leaving office just twenty days after Feuer was sworn in, replaced by the incoming new president.
So what's the point, Mr. Feuer?
Is your brand of Liberal cum Socialist fodder any less loathsome than that which Olver already produces?
Glenn M. Heller

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2/5/2008
Talking about impeachment makes far-left liberals feel better. Plus, they are doing Slick Willie's bidding in getting back at the evil Republicans for his own impeachment.

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"Stockbridge Lawyer (Robert Feuer) Launches Run Against Olver"
By Jen Thomas -iBerkshires.com- February 05, 2008

NORTH ADAMS - Stockbridge attorney Robert Feuer is tired of waiting for others to take action.

The progressive Democrat, and outspoken advocate of impeaching President Bush, officially launched his campaign this week to run against fellow Democrat U.S. Rep. John W. Olver for the representative of the state's 1st District.

"Throughout the district, I see people in need, as throughout our country the days have grown dark. Consider this an opportunity to work together to remove the obstacles that have hampered our freedoms, stifled our liberty and blocked our path to our pursuit of happiness," said Feuer during a speech he delivered outside City Hall on Monday morning. Other than iBerkshires, there was no else in attendance.

Traveling through Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden, Middlesex and Worcester counties on Monday and Tuesday as part of a campaign announcement tour, Feuer outlined the issues that will define his congressional bid, including the protection and defense of the Constitution, stopping the war in Iraq and returning federal funds back to cities and towns. Feuer cited his experience as a public defender, two-time town Democratic Committee chairman and Clean Elections leader as reasons to embrace a message that rests on "integrity, not politics."

"I am here today to offer you the opportunity to support a campaign that will raise our voices together. Only together can we push aside the obstacles that blockade our life-sustaining and progressive agenda of diplomacy before war, clean and fair elections, a cleaner, safer and more secure environment, the development of a sustainable economy and our return to a free and just society," Feuer said.

Chief among Feuer's concerns is Olver's unwillingness to press for the impeachment of Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

"I have supported, appreciated and admired the past years of progressive intent displayed by Congressman Olver. He deserves our every respect for all of his prior terms as our sole representative to the House. However, this 110th Congress' failure to stand up to [Bush] has only acted to demonstrate that good intentions mixed with bad political decisions have, at best, been a disappointing failure," said Feuer.

Feuer said Olver, the 1st District's representative since 1991, has ignored the will of the people by refusing to take action on impeachment.

"By not calling on Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush to account for their actions, Congressman Olver and the U.S. Congress have allowed this administration to pursue a policy of trampling on our Bill of Rights, tearing down our environmental protections, continuing an illegal war in Afghanistan, Iraq and continues to threaten to open a new against Iran," he said.

Twenty towns in Western Massachusetts voted in favor of impeachment at town meetings last year, including Great Barrington, Stockbridge and Lanesborough in Berkshire County.

Feuer called for residents throughout the county to join him "for our district's true voice, for the good of our country" and asked that others participate in his grassroots, volunteer-led effort.

Anyone interested in supporting the Feuer campaign can help out by writing letters to the editor, distributing campaign literature, canvassing or making phone calls and helping to put up yard signs.

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For more information, contact:
John Lippmann, Campaign Coordinator
Bob Feuer for Congress
10 Elm St.,
Stockbridge, MA 01262
413-298-3329
johnlippmann@bobfeuer.us

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"Feds OK $75M for commuter rail: Funds to improve Fitchburg-Boston line"
By Karen Nugent, TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF, Feb 6, 2008

FITCHBURG— The federal government yesterday announced $75 million in funding for improvements to the commuter rail line between Fitchburg and Boston that are expected to speed up service and add trains — along with 700 new riders a day when the project is finished in 2012.

The Fitchburg project, which Central Mass legislators and officials have sought for years, was one of only 13 in the country approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and most of those were funded at less than $10 million.

“It speaks to the national merits of the project,” said Kristin Wood, an aide to U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, a longtime advocate of the commuter rail upgrades.

The federal money would cover approximately half of the project’s cost, with a matching $75 million to come from a state transportation bond.

Gov. Deval L. Patrick adopted the plan last fall. An legislative aide to state Sen. Robert A. Antonioni, D-Leominster, said yesterday the bond is pending before a joint legislative committee on transportation, and there is support from the House and Senate.

The total $150 million project, which is still in the design phase, would pay for three new high-level platform stations in Littleton, South Acton and Waltham to replace the current small platforms.

Those stations would be constructed to accommodate 8.5 miles of double railroad tracks from Ayer to South Acton, and through Waltham. The end result would be double tracks throughout the 50-mile line, which ends at North Station in Boston. The single track now in use is shared with freight lines, limiting the frequency of commuter trains.

Track upgrades would increase maximum train speeds from 60 mph to 80 mph. Also, fiber optic cable would be installed along the route, four highway crossings would be improved, and old-fashioned wayside signal controls would be replaced with in-cab controls that would cut time on the 90-minute ride from Fitchburg to Boston.

The improvements include building additional storage tracks at Willows Freight Rail Yard in Ayer.

The funding for commuter rail improvements along the Route 2 corridor are part of a $1.6 billion package earmarked for major transit projects all over the country. They were announced at a media conference call yesterday morning from the nation’s capitol with Sherry E. Little, deputy administrator of the Federal Transit Administration.

Ms. Little described the package as a record level of funding to address mass transit problems.

“We want to make a difference in people’s lives,” Ms. Little said. “Bus and rapid transit projects are cost effective, and are a great bargain in terms of ridership and community involvement.”

The money would be apportioned out over three years, beginning in 2009, she said. Ms. Little said the program intends to cut red tape by improving management and streamlining various aspects of permitting and construction.

Once an agreement on the bond for the other $74.9 million is reached with state and local officials, the first federal money would arrive next year. Ms. Little said the Fitchburg project has a fairly good rating by the federal transportation agency because of its small overall cost per mile, and the fact that it would add so many riders.Besides the Fitchburg commuter rail project, which is handled by the Fitchburg-based Montachusett Regional Transit Authority and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, yesterday’s federal package included money for the MBTA’s Silver Line subway project in downtown Boston, along with other projects in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Portland, Ore., Flagstaff, Ariz., and Kansas City, Mo.

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"Impeachment advocacy not worth bluster"
By Clarence Fanto
Sunday, February 10, 2008

Lost in space last week were this column's punch lines: "On Tuesday, Berkshire voters can help realize the dream so well-articulated by Obama himself. Our deeply troubled times demand dramatic, visionary change. Obama is the eloquent, dedicated champion who can lead us, yes, to a New Frontier once again."

Democrats and independents here — and statewide — chose to back Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the irrational antipathy expressed toward her in some quarters is not shared chez nous. If she puts together the winning majority of party delegates, her candidacy is a far superior alternative to a McCain administration that would prolong the war and slash domestic spending. He should be believed when he trumpets his conservative credentials. None other than Pat Buchanan, a respectable conservative political commentator and one-time presidential hopeful, has predicted that McCain would "make Dick Cheney look like Gandhi."

Closer to home, even Don Quixote would be laughing up his sleeve at the absurdity of Stockbridge attorney Robert Feuer's recently announced primary challenge to our long-serving U.S. Rep. John W. Olver. The Amherst Democrat, in office since 1991, is now 71 and his all-but-certain re-election in November could be his final term. Depending on population loss determined by the 2010 U.S. Census, the 1st Congressional District stretching from the Berkshires to Worcester County may be merged into the adjacent 2nd District.

Of course, Feuer has the perfect right to tilt at any windmill he chooses and to chase the impossible dream that eluded the Man from La Mancha. But the premise of his campaign is beyond all reason. He argues that, were it not for Olver, impeachment proceedings against Vice President Cheney and, presumably President Bush, would be under way in Congress. Feuer and supporters even claim that a majority of the population favors impeachment.

Feuer's Folly was launched on the steps of Town Hall in Great Barrington (a handful of supporters showed up) and outside City Hall in North Adams last Monday, where only one reporter was present. His language verges on Apocalypse Now. "Throughout the district, I see people in need, as throughout our country the days have grown dark. Consider this an opportunity to work together to remove the obstacles that have hampered our freedoms, stifled our liberty and blocked our path to our pursuit of happiness."

Touting his experience as a two-term Democratic Committee chairman in Stockbridge, a local leader of the Clean Elections movement and as a public defender, Feuer offered a litany of goals beyond his hopeless advocacy of impeachment at a time when Democrats barely control Congress and cannot even muster the required supermajority to begin a drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq.

Voicing faint praise, Feuer stated that he has "supported, appreciated and admired the past years of progressive intent displayed by Congressman Olver. He deserves our every respect for all of his prior terms as our sole representative to the U.S. House."

But then, he blasts Olver and Congress for failing to stand up to the president, all of which "demonstrates that good intentions mixed with bad political decisions have, at best, been a disappointing failure." According to the challenger, Olver and colleagues ignored the will of the people by refusing to pursue impeachment. As evidence, attorney Feuer cites small numbers of voters in 20 Western Massachusetts towns who approved pro-impeachment resolutions last spring.

Bush and Cheney have presided over arguably one of the worst administrations in U.S. history. But to take on Olver, one of the most progressive members of Congress and a faithful representative of this area's economic interests, represents an excursion into Never-Neverland. Every meaningful project that has benefited the Berkshire economy has come about either directly or indirectly through Olver's leadership and support. He is the only Massachusetts representative on the House Appropriations Committee, which gives him great leverage to advocate for the economic development of our region. He is the chairman of a crucial subcommittee responsible for initiating and approving transportation, housing and urban development spending.

Beyond that, he has been on the right side of every major issue, from global warming to the war. His résumé of accomplishments could fill this entire page, and then some.

In response to Feuer's arrogant and self-serving challenge to a fine lawmaker, Olver should be saluted for all he has done to help this district, and the nation, on the path to progress, justice and a hoped-for return to sanity at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

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"Olver's failure on impeachment"
The Berkshire Eagle - Letters
Friday, February 15, 2008

If you have not noticed, Mr. Fanto, ("Impeachment advocacy not worth bluster," Feb. 10), Mr. Bush and his boss Mr. Cheney have performed treasonable acts. They have started a war with lies. They have authorized illegal wiretapping. They have authorized illegal reading of our e-mails. They have pardoned a convicted criminal, Scooter Libby. That in itself is grounds for impeachment.

The list goes on and on. Mr. Olver has done nothing to support their impeachment. He has opposed it although 20 of the towns and cities in his district have passed proclamations to impeach.

Mr. Olver has helped this district and has a perfect record on every other count. But the Democrats have lost sight of the long-range picture. The executive branch of the federal government has total control over Congress. Unless it is reined in with the impeachment of Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney it will get worse.

Readers can look up the facts and read what our founding fathers have said about impeachment and the importance of controlling the president, whoever he or she is.

THOMAS MARINI
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

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"Party elite could decide: Democrats are divided"
By Shaun Sutner Worcester TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF, (ssutner@telegram.com), February 15, 2008
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Ms. Saxe
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Diane M. Saxe wields a lot of power that she doesn’t want.

As Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack H. Obama hurtle toward a Democratic presidential nomination showdown, individual party delegates such as Ms. Saxe, of Grafton, for the first time in the party’s history find themselves in the position of being potential tiebreakers.

Ms. Saxe, 60, a veteran party activist and one of four Democratic National Committee members from Massachusetts, is no ordinary delegate.

She is a “superdelegate,” one of five representing Central Massachusetts and part of a group of 26 superdelegates from the Bay State.

Three of the superdelegates from this region are with Mrs. Clinton: Ms. Saxe, and U.S. Reps. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester, and Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield.

U.S. Reps. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, and Niki Tsongas, D-Lowell, are uncommitted.

Most superdelegates are top party officials such as elected governors, congressmen and senators from each state, and state and national party leaders and former governors.

In the past, Democratic presidential nominees have been decided before the nominating convention, when the top candidate won the required number of delegates before the convention. This time, with Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama running so close that it’s considered highly unlikely that either will snare the 2,025 delegates needed for victory before the Aug. 25-28 convention in Denver, the superdelegates could easily come into play.

While they can pledge their votes to particular candidates, superdelegates are not bound to vote for anyone. As it stands now, about 350 of the 850 superdelegates are uncommitted, with 500 pledged to either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama.

Supporters of both candidates are fiercely targeting those listed as undecided.

Ms. Saxe, a recently retired meeting planner, pledged to Mrs. Clinton after her first choice, John Edwards, dropped out last month.

She said she is convinced that Mrs. Clinton has the most experience for the job, but she still is not happy about her own role because having a fraction of the party membership — there are roughly 4,600 regular delegates — essentially pick the nominee is a decidedly undemocratic way to run the Democratic Party.

“I hope and feel strongly that this won’t be decided by going to the convention,” Ms. Saxe said. “It’s just the politics of the whole situation, just coming down to 800 people.”

The Democrats established the superdelegate system in the 1970s largely as a response to the nomination and subsequent crushing defeat of former South Dakota Sen. George McGovern in 1972. The Republican Party does not have superdelegates.

The system was designed to give senior party officials a bigger say in the nomination process and guard against aberrations or the selection of marginal, unelectable candidates.

Until now, superdelegates, whether top party power brokers such former Democratic National Committee Chairman Steve Grossman, a Massachusetts superdelegate, or rank-and-filers such as Ms. Saxe, have been responsible only for ratifying the party platform and deciding how to spend party money in congressional elections.

“Many of them are just your typical folks. They’re not politicians,” said William J. Eddy, chairman of the Worcester Democratic City Committee, and a supporter of Mr. Obama. “They’re activists. They never expected to be kingmakers. They find themselves in an unwanted and unfamiliar situation.”

Another Massachusetts superdelegate, David M. O’Brien, of Concord, is pledged to Mr. Obama, and believes he will walk away with the nomination by the end of primary season.

Mr. O’Brien, a government relations consultant, is firm in his conviction that the candidate, with his promise of change, is the best choice. But, like Ms. Saxe, he is not comfortable with vesting so much power in the superdelegates.

“I’m not wild about a handful of superdelegates choosing it,” Mr. O’Brien said. “I hope it is taken out of our hands.”

Mrs. Tsongas, the Lowell congresswoman, who also represents Berlin, Bolton, Harvard, Hudson and Lancaster, said she will stay neutral until the convention.

If superdelegates come into play, she said she will weigh her own preferences, the vote of her home state, and the “national consensus.”

“We have two excellent candidates, both of whom I think represent change for the country,” Ms. Tsongas said.

Some political theorists would like to do away with the superdelegate system altogether.

Jeff Gulati, a professor of political science at Bentley College, said a simple majority of delegates ought to be enough to capture the nomination.

The George McGovern example, he argued, was an anomaly that occurred because Mr. McGovern wrote the nominating rules that year and exploited them by dominating the arcane procedures of primary caucuses, and then winning many of them.

If superdelegates are abolished, Mr. Gulati proposes dramatically reducing the number of caucuses.

In the meantime, he said superdelegates still count a lot, especially in this election.

“They think both candidates can win, so it really comes down to who has the better chance,” he said.
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Contact Shaun Sutner by e-mail at ssutner@telegram.com.
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"Funding on hand to help families"
By JO-ANN MORIARTY, jo-ann.moriarty @newhouse.com
The Springfield Republican Newspaper Online
Wednesday, February 27, 2008

WASHINGTON - With the number of foreclosures doubling in Hampden County last year and 2 million homeowners at risk nationally of losing their homes this year, lawmakers announced yesterday the distribution of $130 million in counseling help to keep families in their homes.

U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee's Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee, said at a press conference with members of the Senate that more than $1.3 million is being targeted to the Springfield metropolitan statistical area to help families keep their homes.

Last year, there were 728 foreclosures in Hampden County, up from 385 in 2006, according to his congressional office. Foreclosures also rose in Hampshire County from 43 to 76 last year, and in Franklin County from 37 foreclosures in 2006 to 61 last year.

Olver, who was able to earmark $180 million for the financial advice, said that the people in the throes of the foreclosure crisis are typically first-time homeowners, working class, and minorities who entered in a lending arrangement in which the lending terms changed years into the mortgage.

Many families living from paycheck to paycheck were swept into a crisis for a variety of reasons, he said, including losing a job, a health issue, their homes seriously depreciating, or they "got caught up with a predatory lender and got into trouble."

Olver said, "Many are first-time home owners, minorities, who wanted the American dream and thought they could do it."

In some cases, homebuyers entered into adjustable mortgage rates and were walloped when the prime lending rate increased.

Olver said that homeowners do not seek financial advice because they may not know where to ask for it, how to afford it, or may be embarrassed or overwhelmed with their financial troubles.

When Congress passed the housing budget in December, it created a non-profit organization called NeighborWorks America. It specifically identifies a network of existing social service agencies throughout the country where homeowners in foreclosure or at risk of losing their homes can go to get help and get the word out within the communities that help is available.

NeighborWorks America identified community agencies and developed a funding strategy.

"Far fewer sought help when the foreclosures started because they did not know where to go," Olver said, adding that NeighborWorks worked within 60 days to identify a network within communities.

The agencies being funded in Greater Springfield to help families are HAP (Housing Assistance Program) Inc., ACORN Housing of Springfield, and a Springfield chapter of the National Assistance Corporation of America. NACA is getting $15 million to distribute in Massachusetts, and the Housing Partnership Network is getting $7.4 million to distribute in the state.

"They (the outreach offices) will walk you (people in foreclosure or behind in mortgages) through it and work with the lender and the homeowners," Olver said. "They will pull in the lenders and mediate."

His congressional office speculated that the money in the Springfield area should be able to help 3,000 households with advice.

Congress earmarked $180 million for NeighborWorks, and $50 million is being held in reserve to respond to emergency situations.

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Amherst Bulletin - Editorial: They hear us now
Published on February 29, 2008

It's good to know that our legislators are listening to constituent concerns about U.S. foreign policy.

In early November 2006, Amherst Town Meeting passed a resolution that urged the U.S. government to pursue a diplomatic solution with Iran, rather than military action, to end the sabre-rattling between the two countries.

Copies of that resolution were sent to Amherst's congressional delegation, President George W. Bush, and others. The concerns expressed have been echoed in other communities and by groups and individuals mistrustful of the Bush administration.

The White House rushed into war with Iraq on the basis of faulty evidence. In an effort to avoid a repeat performance, the Pioneer Valley's congressmen, along with other like-minded members in the House of Representatives, are gathering support for four similar bills reaffirming that only Congress can declare war and requiring specific Congressional approval for the United States to attack Iran.

First District Congressmen John Olver, of Amherst, and Richard Neal, of Springfield, who represents the Second District, were in Hadley last week to explain these bills to constituents. Olver told the group of 200-plus attendees at the Hadley American Legion that there isn't enough support yet in the House to bring any version of the bill to the floor. The votes may not be there yet, but the number is growing.

America needs to protect itself and be wary of foreign powers that would seek to do us harm. That's basic security. However, our congressional delegation's latest efforts are a worthy attempt to make the office of the president accountable to the Constitution and the people.

Congress, under the Constitution, has the power to declare war. However, presidents, especially since World War II, have used their role as commander-in-chief to wage wars President Harry S. Truman used this power in the Korean War, calling it a "police action"; President Lyndon B. Johnson used the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution to expand our presence in Vietnam, and George Bush used U.N. Resolution 1441 and a vote of Congressional support to make war upon Saddam Hussein and Iraq in 2003.

The United States' relationship with Iran is not a new one. As with other shortsighted foreign policy initiatives - backing known killers such as Saddam, Osama bin Laden and Chile's Pinochet, for example - the U.S. has had a hand in manipulation of Iranian affairs. Two of the results were the Iranian Revolution of 1978, when the Islamist wrested power from a pro-Western shah, and a continued, deep-seated mistrust of the American government.

As the U.S. military death toll in Iraq nears 4,000, we now know that the case for war was a fabrication. In March of 2003, there were no weapons of mass destruction; there was no relationship between Saddam's Iraq and the terrorist group al-Qaida; and there were no freedom-loving people looking to throw roses at the occupiers' feet. There were also no tough questions from Congress. Now, al-Qaida has a strong foothold in the country, and every Iraqi civilian's death is a potential recruit for terrorism. We must make sure that this scenario does not repeat itself in Iran or anywhere else.

Neal told residents gathered in Hadley that he's concerned about the potential of President Bush manipulating evidence against Iran, as with the run-up to the Iraq War. He noted the intelligence report that Iran had stopped its quest for uranium enrichment which the Bush administration kept under wraps for several years. Last Friday, the U.S. government gave more information to the International Atomic Energy Agency, allegedly showing continued efforts on Iran's part to weaponize nuclear material. The veracity of that information is unclear, at best.

The IAEA is scheduled to issue a report in March that will outline Iran's nuclear capabilities, which should give a clearer picture as to what that country can and cannot do.

Rarely is there a case for having too much information, especially when war is at stake. We urge the two congressmen to press their case for constitutional checks and balances, fight for answers from the president, and continue listening to constituents who want less war and more peace.

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"Lawmakers rated on 'power'"
Tuesday, March 04, 2008, The Springfield Republican Newspaper Online
By JO-ANN MORIARTY, jo-ann.moriarty@newhouse.com

WASHINGTON - A private nonpartisan research group said yesterday Massachusetts' senators are among the top 12 most powerful members of the U.S. Senate, while two representatives are ranked third and fourth within the state contingent and among the top 55 in the nation.

Knowlegis, a government relations company in Fairfax, Va., released its findings on the site www.congress.org

Second only to Senate Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., the ranking of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., was based on his legislative accomplishments, the amount of bacon he brought home to Massachusetts, and for possessing "sizzle factor."

Kennedy was credited for bringing in nearly $200 million for 126 special projects last year; for his legislative accomplishments as the chairman of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee; and his tenure and influence within the party, according to "2008 Congressional Power Rankings" by Knowlegis.

Brad Fitch, chief executive officer of Knowlegis, told reporters on a conference call that Kennedy also earned "sizzle" points for his political clout at a national level.

Kennedy outscored three colleagues running for president: Sen. Hillary R. Clinton, D-N.Y., who ranked as the Senate's ninth most powerful member, closely followed by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., who ranked 10th and 11th respectively.

Fitch said the research group figured into its power rankings data from Taxpayers for Common Sense, a congressional watchdog group that tracks special earmarks or pork barrel projects; legislative records kept by the Library of Congress; newspaper articles; and campaign finance reports. The rankings were based on actions in 2007.

U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., was ranked the 12th most powerful member of the Senate, having brought home $184 million in earmarks last year for 129 projects, as well as for his legislative accomplishments and media exposure, including fund raising for a colleagues and his work within the party caucus.

Kerry, who is running for re-election this year, said the report shows Massachusetts is well positioned in Congress.

"I don't think much about rankings on charts. I just go out and do what I can to be effective and fight for Massachusetts," Kerry said.

The group ranked U.S. Reps. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, and Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, 49th and 55th most powerful within the 435-member House of Representatives and third and fourth within the 10-member Massachusetts House delegation. Olver scored about a half-point more than Neal.

Olver was given points for being a member of the House Appropriations Committee and for earmarking $68 million for 61 special projects.

Neal was credited with bringing home to his district $10.5 million for 16 projects and given points for being a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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June 1991 — Massachusetts’ 1st District (Republican to Democratic). Veteran Republican Rep. Silvio O. Conte’s death in February necessitated a special election, which Democrat John W. Olver won narrowly over Republican Steven Pierce. Olver, who is still in Congress, had competitive re-election campaigns in 1992 and 1996 but has otherwise won easily or without Republican opposition in his left-leaning district in western Massachusetts.

Source: CQ Politics

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"Olver waits to pick a side"
By Evan Lehmann, Berkshire Eagle Washington Bureau
Friday, March 14, 2008

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. John W. Olver says it would be irresponsible to endorse a Democratic presidential candidate before the 10 remaining primaries and caucuses conclude in June.

The Amherst Democrat is one of the last holdouts among Massachusetts lawmakers — all of whom are superdelegates — to remain neutral in the extended clash between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

And he intends to remain in the middle until sometime after Montana and South Dakota cap the primary process on June 3, nearly three months before the Democratic National Convention is held in Denver.

"It's my obligation to see what those contests are doing and take that into account," Olver said in the Capitol this week, adding that a decision beforehand would be "irresponsible." Olver is one of seven undecided Massachusetts superdelegates, a minority compared with the 19 elected officials and party leaders who have lined up behind one candidate or the other.

Those neutral superdelegates could tilt the state toward Clinton or Obama, both of whom are nearly tied in their endorsements from Bay State political insiders. Clinton is supported by nine superdelegates, compared with Obama's 10.

Undecided lawmakers also include U.S. Reps. Edward Markey of Malden, John Tierney of Salem and Niki Tsongas of Lowell. Joining them are Paul Kirk, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and Debra Kozikowski and James Roosevelt, both of whom are party officials. It is unlikely that either Clinton or Obama can secure the nomination with the remaining 566 pledged delegates offered in the final 10 contests — not including Florida or Michigan.

Currently, Obama leads Clinton, 1,385 to 1,237 in delegates awarded by primaries and caucuses, according to an Associated Press count.

Add superdelegates, and Obama has 1,596 total delegates to Clinton's 1,484. The first to reach 2,025 receives the nomination. That could mean Olver and about 350 superdelegates still neutral in the race could tilt the decision toward one of the candidates.

If the nomination pivots on the decision of superdelegates — who need not support the candidate who won their state's primary or caucus — there could be a "firestorm" among the American electorate, said U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, a Vermont Democrat supporting Obama.

"I think that will be a disaster," he said.

Other Democrats are concerned that the prolonged fight between Clinton and Obama could diminish the victor's ability to confront Republican nominee John McCain in the general election.

"For the good of the party, it would have been better if it were over," said U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, a Somerville Democrat who supports Obama.

But Olver said the extended process could benefit Democrats by emphasizing the importance of each state's primary contest. That can energize the electorate and flesh out new ideas from the candidates, he said.

"This can be very good for the Democratic Party," Olver said. "It's a wonderful organizing process if it's done respectfully.

"If it's not, it could hurt us."

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TheHill.com
"The cardinals claim they’re being cut out"
By Alexander Bolton and Mike Soraghan
Posted: 03/11/08, 7:51 PM [ET]

Senior Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee claim that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has left them out of discussions about a moratorium on earmarks, marking a departure from the inclusive leadership style she has employed for much of her reign.

As some appropriators grumbled, Democrats on Tuesday inched closer to an earmark moratorium, a move that would infuriate many appropriators.

“It’s going to happen,” said an irritated Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), a senior member of the Appropriations Committee. Others were more circumspect.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.) chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has been in leadership meetings on earmarks, but on Tuesday would say only, “No final decision has been made.”

“I’ve been consulting with members,” Van Hollen said. “It’s safe to say there’s a difference of opinion.”

Pelosi has discussed suspending earmarks with Reps. David Obey (D-Wis.) and John Murtha (D-Pa.), two of her closest lieutenants and the two most senior members of the Appropriations Committee, but she has otherwise limited talks to an extremely small circle.

Pelosi and Obey have told members they want to call the bluff of Republicans who have called for an earmark ban while pursuing pet projects from the spending panel.

Obey and Murtha declined to comment on discussions of a possible moratorium.

Nadeam Elshami, a spokesman for Pelosi, disputed that Democratic leaders had left colleagues in the dark to smooth the path for a moratorium.

“The Speaker and leadership have been discussing this issue with members and that those discussions are ongoing,” said Elshami.

Democratic leaders who support the ban also say they want to be consistent with the Democratic nominees for president, who have both come out in favor of an earmark moratorium. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is a longtime crusader against earmarks and his mockery of pet projects is only likely to get amplified during the presidential campaign.

Republican leaders claimed credit for getting the majority leadership to join them in taking a stand on earmarks.

“We’re glad they are joining us in genuine earmark reform, as we have asked them to do since our letter to Speaker Pelosi at our retreat. We welcome such a vote,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Democratic leaders first aired the proposal publicly last week by suggesting money normally set aside for earmarks could instead pay for a second economic stimulus package.

Last year Pelosi routinely referred her toughest decisions to rank-and-file lawmakers early in the process.

For example, Pelosi was careful to let the caucus as a whole participate in the first stages of debate over how to craft legislation funding the Iraq war.

While that strategy produced rough consensus in the Democratic caucus on Iraq, it consumed a lot of time.

On the question of earmarks, however, bringing colleagues into this discussion early could doom the chances of a moratorium.

Last year, senior Democrats on the House Appropriations panel, the so-called appropriations cardinals, vigorously opposed and ultimately defeated a plan to eliminate all earmarks in the fiscal year 2008 spending bills to increase programmatic funding for medical research, education and other priorities.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), a senior member of the appropriations panel, said she had received no information on the proposal to halt earmarks. She expressed hope that Pelosi would open up the decision-making process as she did many times during her first year as Speaker.

“I’ve always found her very consultative so I hope she wouldn’t leave out the Appropriations Committee in those discussions,” she said.

Rep. John Olver (D-Mass.), chairman of the transportation, housing and urban development appropriations subcommittee, said that he had “no information” on discussions about an earmark moratorium.

Other senior appropriators who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid angering Pelosi by discussing a charged issue said she had cut them out of the loop. These lawmakers stressed that they want to be consulted before Pelosi reaches a final decision.

“We would like to be included in the discussions, I’ll leave it at that,” said one lawmaker.

Another legislator said that Pelosi had kept the discussions limited to her inner circle to avoid giving proponents a chance of killing the moratorium in its infancy. Lawmakers drew an analogy to how Pelosi last month suddenly pressed her colleagues to support a controversial ethics reform bill.

One appropriator said that a proposal to halt earmarks would likely provoke widespread opposition among Democrats and speculated that Pelosi would present the proposal as a decision made by “The Speaker” for the good of the party instead of something for colleagues to consider and debate.

“It would be Nancy Pelosi acting as Speaker for the good of the party,” said the lawmaker, who said a moratorium would provoke complaint from many lawmakers “including me.”

By presenting the decision as a fait accompli, he said, Pelosi would hope to minimize opposition, a tactic she apparently tried on ethics reform.

Lawmakers on the Appropriations Committee expect Obey to support Pelosi’s decision. But they made clear that he would do so out of loyalty. They said Pelosi, not Obey, would steer the party’s course on earmarks.

Some members are shrugging their shoulders at the prospect because they don’t expect appropriations bills to be signed into law this year anyway. An election is looming, and Democrats see little need to try to meet the demands of an unpopular president they expect to be replaced by a Democrat next year.

“If nothing’s going to happen anyway, why bother with it?” one lawmaker said.

Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) said an impasse could be a good opportunity to get a better earmark process.

Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.), who as a member of the Appropriations Committee has worked closely with Democrats on an array of earmarks, predicted Pelosi would face fierce opposition from her caucus.

“She’s not gong to make many friends by doing this,” he said.

But other Republicans believe that they can use the issue of rampant congressional earmarking to their own advantage in November. One senior House Republican said GOP polls in several contested House districts showed that candidates could use the issue of earmark reform to potent effect.

Van Hollen said that Democrats could reap political benefits by taking the issue out of Republicans’ hands.

“I do think the Republicans have tried to seize on the issue as a symbol of the spending battle,” he said. “It has become a lightning rod in the public mode.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) announced Tuesday he was joining Democratic Reps. Mark Udall (Colo.) and Henry Waxman (Calif) in not seeking earmarks this year.

The earmark question came up at a leadership meeting Monday night, and was sensitive enough that the staff present for the discussion was asked to leave.

Rep. Tim Walz (Minn.), the outgoing president of the Democratic freshman class, said he would support an earmarks ban if it goes to balancing the budget.

“If it’s done in that sense, and not political theatrics, I’m supportive,” he said. “If we return it to the bureaucracy, which spends it even more irresponsibly than us, then it’s a gimmick.”

There are a number of ways an earmark ban can be carried out, aides said. For starters, the Appropriations Committee could simply stop taking requests. There could also be a vote to change the rules of the House, or a change to the rules of the appropriations committee. That would depend in part, aides said, on whether leaders want to ban appropriations earmarks, or also tax and other authorizing earmarks.

Some have also floated the idea of putting earmarks in a lame-duck spending bill. But Moran said he wouldn’t expect Bush to go along with a lame-duck budget with earmarks. And aides said for earmarks to be included in a year-end bill, the staff work would have to be going on now.

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"An opportunity for First District"
The Berkshire Eagle - Letters
Thursday, March 20, 2008

Can't remember the last time the First Congressional District had a primary challenge for U.S. representative? It was prior to the recession of 1991.

For the past eight election cycles, our industrial base shrank, quantity and quality of our jobs and population shrank, inner cities decayed, and rural poverty increased. Not once in over 16 years have we had the opportunity in the First Congressional District of open debate on the issues that we faced, and now we face a new recession. Where are the enterprise zones to foster urban renewal? Where are the USDA farmers home loan programs to repair rural homes and farms? How will we face the challenges of increasing Northeast farming as the southern U.S. heats and dries up? When will we select a representative that will stand up to leadership and act to change our failed federal policies both foreign and domestic?

Grumbling in our beards will not carry us into a new and brighter day for America or the First Congressional District. This is the first opportunity we've had in all of these years to shine a bright light on all of these pressing issues. Since raising his and Stockbridge's voice against the criminality of this administration, Bob Feuer has been a voice of reason and clarity in politics and community affairs. He has a firm grasp on the intentions of our democracy. He has demonstrated the readiness, the willingness, and the ability to fight for what will make it work.

This light will only shine if we gather over 2,000 certified signatures for Bob Feuer to get on the ballot. This will never happen with a couple of handfuls of gatherers. It is now up to each and every one of you to strike while the iron is hot. If you would like to be more proud of yourself, your district, and your country; then you must come forward and do your share to assure this unique opportunity lasts beyond the May 6 deadline.

Let's not repeat the last 16 years. Looking forward, this is unacceptable. Supporting Bob Feuer for Congress is supporting yourself through democracy in action.

JOHN LIPPMANN
Stockbridge, Massachusetts
The writer is campaign coordinator, Bob Feuer for Congress.

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U. S. Rep. John W. Olver
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"Olver brings home $71 million for 63 projects"
by The Republican Newsroom, Thursday, April 03, 2008
By JO-ANN MORIARTY
Jo-ann.moriarty@newhouse.com

WASHINGTON - Judging by the 2008 Congressional Pig Book released yesterday that ranks members of Congress on special earmark projects, U.S. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, brought home a lot of bacon to Western Massachusetts.

Olver, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, would have done his predecessor, the late U.S. Rep. Silvio O. Conte, proud. The Pittsfield Republican once donned a pig snout during a press conference to protest of pork barrel spending. But like Olver, Conte was a member of the House Appropriations Committee and deft at getting government funds for projects close to home.

David E. Williams, vice president of policy at the Citizens Against Government Waste, a non-partisan congressional watchdog group, characterized Olver as being the worst member of the Massachusetts delegation when it comes to special earmark projects.

Olver secured $71.3 million for 63 projects. U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy got $192.1 million in funding for earmarks from 13 appropriations bills and U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry brought home $138.8 million for 124 projects.

"I would hardly call it pork barrel," said Holyoke Mayor Michael J. Sullivan.

"Thankfully we have someone as just and fair as Congressman Olver who fights to make up the inequities. We never receive the just proportion from the state coffers," Sullivan said. The money is critical to cash-strapped cities struggling to comply with unfunded federal mandates, such as environmental sewer regulations, he said.

Williams argued that even though Olver took home less than the senators, "we have seen he is a bigger problem when it comes to pork barrel because he is an appropriator and he is at the head of the line."

"He has solo requests and - he is the only one who requests (a special project,)" Williams continued. "He (Olver) is the lone ranger."

Olver, responding to the report, said that it was "my job to advocate on behalf of my constituents and look for opportunities to channel federal funding to worthwhile economic development projects."

He said the funding for the projects is the final result of collaborative efforts between his office and community advocates and officials who together identify projects and priorities to invest in their cities and towns.

"Earmarks give me an opportunity to help make a difference, to directly address the needs I see in our community," Olver said.

Representing 110 communities, most of them rural, Olver secured more pork barrel spending than any of the other nine House members in the Massachusetts delegation. In the 435 member House, only 38 lawmakers brought more money to their districts.

"He has $1.4 million for Pittsfield's downtown streetscape, that should be paid for by Pittsfield people or Massachusetts people, not people across the country," Williams said.

Pittsfield Mayor James M. Ruberto said the "earmarked funds for the Downtown Streetscape project in Pittsfield are helping spur economic development in the downtown corridor."

U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, secured $10.5 million for 16 projects in his district, including $3 million for shrimp aquaculture research in Massachusetts, Arizona, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas; $634,000 for the Phoenix House drug treatment program in Springfield; $1.3 million for a project he sponsored with Olver, Kennedy and Kerry for West Springfield and Pioneer Valley Planning Commission for sewer overflow on the Connecticut River and $984,000, also sponsored with Olver, for the Pioneer Valley Life Science Initiative in Springfield.

Kennedy, responding to the report, said he was proud to be part of a successful effort to bring federal money to Massachusetts.

David Wade, a Kerry spokesman, said the senator "is proud he fought to provide emergency equipment for our firefighters and police, research at our community colleges and universities, technology for our hospitals, and help for our crumbling schools."

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"Pig Book takes poke at Olver"
The Springfield Republican
Friday, April 04, 2008
By JO-ANN MORIARTY
Jo-ann.moriarty@newhouse.com

WASHINGTON - Judging by the 2008 Congressional Pig Book released on Wednesday that ranks members of Congress on special earmark projects, U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, brought home a lot of bacon to Western Massachusetts.

Olver, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, would have done his predecessor, the late U.S. Rep. Silvio O. Conte, proud. The Pittsfield Republican once donned a pig snout during a press conference to protest pork barrel spending. But like Olver, Conte was a member of the House Appropriations Committee and deft at getting government funds for projects close to home.

David E. Williams, vice president of policy at the Citizens Against Government Waste, a nonpartisan congressional watchdog group, characterized Olver as being the worst member of the Massachusetts delegation when it comes to special earmark projects.

Olver secured $71.3 million for 63 projects. U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy got $192.1 million in funding for earmarks from the 13 appropriations bills and U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry brought home $138.8 million for 124 projects.

"I would hardly call it pork barrel," said Holyoke Mayor Michael J. Sullivan.

"Thankfully we have someone as just and fair as Congressman Olver who fights to make up the inequities. We never receive the just proportion from the state coffers," Sullivan said. The money is critical to cash-strapped cities struggling to comply with unfunded federal mandates, such as environmental sewer regulations, he said.

Williams argued that even though Olver took home less than the senators, "we have seen he is a bigger problem when it comes to pork barrel because he is an appropriator and he is at the head of the line."

"He has solo requests and - he is the only one who requests (the special project,)" Williams continued. "He (Olver) is the lone ranger."

Olver, responding to the report, said that it was "my job to advocate on behalf of my constituents and look for opportunities to channel federal funding to worthwhile economic development projects."

He said the funding for the projects is the final result of collaborative efforts between his office and community advocates and officials who together identify projects and priorities to invest in their cities and towns.

"Earmarks give me an opportunity to help make a difference, to directly address the needs I see in our community," Olver said.

Representing 110 communities, most of them very rural, Olver secured more pork barrel spending than any of the other nine House members in the Massachusetts delegation. In the 435 member House, only 38 lawmakers brought more money to their districts.

"He has $1.4 million for Pittsfield's downtown streetscape," Williams said, "that should be paid for by Pittsfield people or Massachusetts people, not people across the country."

Pittsfield Mayor James M. Ruberto said the "earmarked funds for the Downtown Streetscape project in Pittsfield are helping spur economic development in the downtown corridor."

U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, secured $10.5 million for 16 projects in his district, including $3 million for shrimp aquaculture research in Massachusetts, Arizona, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas; $634,000 for the Phoenix House drug treatment program in Springfield; $1.3 million for a project he sponsored with Olver, Kennedy and Kerry for West Springfield and Pioneer Valley Planning Commission for sewer overflow on the Connecticut River and $984,000, also sponsored with Olver, for the Pioneer Valley Life Science Initiative in Springfield.

Kennedy, responding to the report, said he was proud to be part of a successful effort to bring federal money to Massachusetts.

David Wade, a Kerry spokesman, said the senator "is proud he fought to provide emergency equipment for our firefighters and police, research at our community colleges and universities, technology for our hospitals, and help for our crumbling schools."

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"Funding OK'd for homeless veterans" - The Springfield Republican
Thursday, April 17, 2008, By JO-ANN MORIARTY, Jo-ann.moriarty@newhouse.com

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced yesterday that $75 million in federal grants is being distributed to pay for Section 8 public housing vouchers for 10,000 homeless veterans in the country.

U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, who is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and is the chairman of its subcommittee on transportation and housing and urban development, wrote $75 million into the existing budget for the program that had gone unfunded since 2001.

The congressman said that 70 vouchers will be given to western and central Massachusetts.

"Homelessness among veterans has always been a serious problem, and now, with veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, we are seeing a new generation of homeless vets," Olver said.

"These veterans have done what they have been asked to do. They have served their country bravely and now are in need of assistance. We must do all we can to help those who have sacrificed for us," he said

Olver worked with the Bush administration in coordinating the efforts of HUD and the Veterans Administration to make federal money available to pay for housing vouchers of 10,000 veterans across the country.

Phillip F. Mangano, who heads the Bush Administration's interagency council to end homelessness, also worked with HUD and the VA toward the goal of reducing the number of homeless veterans with the goal to give them permanently housed.

Additionally, the VA will provide a case worker to keep in touch with the formerly homeless veteran population to make sure they are taking their medications, paying their rents and offering support to keep them stable, said Jon Hite, the executive director of the Northampton Housing Authority which will manage the 70 housing vouchers.

"This is an effort between HUD and the Veteran Assisted Supported Housing (a program within the VA) to try to address the most severely homeless of our veterans to provide them with a roof over the heads and social services," Hite said.

"The social worker is intended to make sure that they keep their housing by ensuring they take their medications, pay their rent and get help available to them," Hite said.

"I'm thrilled, this is a good program," Hite said, "a lot of these folks wouldn't be eligible for public housing under existing rules because their housing history would disqualify them. This program allows that their housing history can be overlooked.

Hite will work with Soldier On, a veteran organization based in Northampton's Leeds section and headed by John F. Downing, to identify the homeless veterans.

Downing said that the announcement by HUD and the VA was an example "of government at its best."

He credited Olver for having "the will to do it from the very beginning. He got it, in his heart and mind."

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"Lawmakers assess D.C. papal assembly"
Friday, April 18, 2008, By JO-ANN MORIARTY, The Springfield Republican Online

WASHINGTON - In a word, U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal said Mass with Pope Benedict XVI at Nationals Park yesterday was "majestic."

"He is the spiritual leader of a billion people and the papacy is a 2,000-year-old institution," said Neal, D-Springfield. "And when you hear music that dates back to the Renaissance and consider that people in the far-reaching areas of the world recite the same prayers, it is a universal church."

Later yesterday, the pontiff gave a speech on the importance of Roman Catholic education at The Catholic University of America. A number of Western Massachusetts educators were in the audience, including Elms College President James H. Mullen Jr.

Everyone sang off the same sheet of music at Nationals Park. Neal sat near former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, whose leadership in the House Neal challenged and criticized, and near House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

The stadium was filled to capacity - about 47,000 - and it was a perfect spring day in Washington.

"It was majestic," Neal said. U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, hadn't planned to attend the event. Both of Massachusetts' U.S. senators, Democrats John F. Kerry and Edward M. Kennedy, attended the Mass. Kerry was accompanied by his wife, Teresa, and Kennedy was accompanied by his wife, Vicki.

Kennedy called the Mass, "a very moving experience for tens of thousands who were there and the millions more who watched it on television, and I'm honored to have attended it."

Kerry welcomed the pope to the United States, which the senator said, is enduring "trying times."

"It meant the world to Teresa and me to hear Pope Benedict speak. I will always look back on this day as very special and spiritually nourishing," Kerry said. "I still remember taking my young daughters to see Pope John Paul II when he visited Boston, and it's something you never forget."

"Today his Holiness offered a vision of peace, understanding and reconciliation for those of the Catholic faith and for all the people of the world who look to him for inspiration," Kerry said following the Mass. "He told us that Americans have always been a people of hope and reminded us to always seek to fulfill our Christian responsibility to care for our most vulnerable.

Everyone sang off the same sheet of music at Nationals Park. Neal sat near former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, whose leadership in the House Neal challenged and criticized, and near House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

The stadium was filled to capacity - about 47,000 - and it was a perfect spring day in Washington.

"It was majestic," Neal said. U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, hadn't planned to attend the event. Both of Massachusetts' U.S. senators, Democrats John F. Kerry and Edward M. Kennedy, attended the Mass. Kerry was accompanied by his wife, Teresa, and Kennedy was accompanied by his wife, Vicki.

Kennedy called the Mass, "a very moving experience for tens of thousands who were there and the millions more who watched it on television, and I'm honored to have attended it."

Kerry welcomed the pope to the United States, which the senator said, is enduring "trying times."

"It meant the world to Teresa and me to hear Pope Benedict speak. I will always look back on this day as very special and spiritually nourishing," Kerry said. "I still remember taking my young daughters to see Pope John Paul II when he visited Boston, and it's something you never forget."

"Today his Holiness offered a vision of peace, understanding and reconciliation for those of the Catholic faith and for all the people of the world who look to him for inspiration," Kerry said following the Mass. "He told us that Americans have always been a people of hope and reminded us to always seek to fulfill our Christian responsibility to care for our most vulnerable.

The nation's more than 200 Catholic colleges and universities have been at the center of a tug-of-war within the church for decades over religious identity and free expression.

The leaders of more than 200 Catholic colleges and universities and superintendents from nearly 200 dioceses were invited to hear the address. Mullen and Sister Andrea M. Ciszewski, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Springfield, were among those in attendance.

"He kept pointing ... to the importance of how we form our young people," Sister Ciszewski said, adding that the main thrust of the speech was "the importance of teaching truth and developing conscience."

"He was very clear and concise," Sister Ciszewski also said. "He thanked us for the efforts in Catholic education."

Mullen noted that the pope said it was an important responsibility for Catholic educators at all levels to inspire students to serve others. He also said the pontiff talked about the difference Catholic education has made in America's history for those of all economic backgrounds, but particularly for immigrants.

Mullen said the pope left his audience with the feeling that "much good has been done but we have to work hard every day, and I think that's what he intended to do."

"I think he did a very nice job of ... being pastoral," Mullen added.
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Staff Writer Michael McAuliffe contributed and material from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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"Kerry to face primary battle"
By Jack Dew, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Saturday, April 19, 2008

Ed O'Reilly is an angry Democrat.

Unhappy with Sen. John F. Kerry's 2002 vote to authorize the Iraq, O'Reilly, 54, of Watertown, has launched a long-shot Senate candidacy that could climax at the June 7 Democratic State Convention in Lowell where, with 15 percent of the vote, O'Reilly would secure a spot on the primary ballot, a rare party challenge to an incumbent.

"That (vote) made me look at (Kerry) differently," O'Reilly said during an interview at The Eagle this week. "Where is the moral compass when you vote for war, knowing it's the wrong vote? As a human being, I just don't know how you do that. To me, it's beyond human decency. That's the passion that's in my heart."

In a campaign season that has seen the word "change" become a powerful motto, O'Reilly has company in wanting party leaders ousted. Robert Feuer of Stockbridge is taking aim at incumbent U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, motivated by what he says is Congress's failure to respond to voters concerns about the war and the Bush administration's abuse of power.

"There has been a lack of accountability, a lack of responsibility and responsiveness," Feuer said yesterday. "It leads me to a feeling that I would like to see every congressman and senator challenged. I feel as if our Congress is in someone else's hands."

Both Feuer and O'Reilly face a difficult task just to get their names on the ballot. Feuer needs 2,000 signatures from registered Democrats by May 6; he said yesterday that he is not certain he will reach that threshold. O'Reilly must convince 15 percent of state Democrats who attend the convention to support him, a difficult task given that many are long-time party members, have likely worked on past Kerry campaigns, and have little interest in seeing a well-known, well-heeled candidate challenged within the party.

North Adams Mayor John Barrett III said O'Reilly "can't win in the primary, and the Democratic Party probably won't give him enough support" to make the ballot. "But if they do, it is going to be an embarrassment to Kerry, and it could rough him up, no matter how strong (O'Reilly) is. It's just not good."

Barrett said he met with O'Reilly earlier this year and told him he doesn't like candidates who run for "symbolic reasons." If you don't have the political means to win, stay home, Barrett said, instead of risking damage to the favorite that would give the Republicans an opening. "You don't want the Republican philosophy in Washington," he said.

Still, O'Reilly said he feels confident that he will get 15 percent of the vote. He has been crisscrossing the state, visiting roughly 85 Democratic committees. "I feel that I've done the homework. The whole strategy in this campaign is the 15 percent first, because if I don't get that, it's all over."

Kerry's campaign could not be reached for comment yesterday. On his Web site, Kerry is highlighting his fight in 2006 for an up or down vote on an amendment to withdraw troops from Iraq by a "date certain." Kerry can also point to his campaign against Bush, during which Kerry strongly criticized the war and urged a change in policy.

O'Reilly, asked what type of delegate he thinks will support him, said it will be those who — like himself — supported Kerry against Bush in 2004. He called them the "best political consumers" who will "look underneath or beyond the political literature and the huff and the puff that comes from the Kerry campaign."

"There are all kinds of reasons why people want change," O'Reilly said. "There is something going on underneath the surface of the Democratic party. People want an alternative to John Kerry, but they don't want a Republican. They want someone to fight for what they believe in."

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"Congressman Olver worried about lack of rental units for poor"
by The (Springfield) Republican Newsroom (Online), Wednesday April 23, 2008
JO-ANN MORIARTY, Jo-ann.moriarty@newhouse

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. John W. Olver said today he is concerned that there will be an exodus this summer of property owners participating in the Section 8 affordable housing program with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The summer is when 14,000 contracts for 1 million affordable housing units come due, and the federal agency can only promise up to five months of payments on a 12-month contract. The contracts pay 70 percent of the rents for the poor in the program.

Brian D. Montgomery, a HUD assistant secretary for housing, testifying before the House Appropriations subcommittee on transportation, housing and urban development, said today he doubts that there will be a mass exiting of private landlords from the government program.

But Olver, the chairman of the subcommittee, wasn't convinced.

He said that HUD in 1997 started issuing yearly contracts after long-term contracts had expired. The Bush administration complicated the matter by paying for the 12-months contracts with federal funds that were split into budgets for two fiscal years which run between Oct. 1 and Sept. 30.

"Instead of obligating 12 months of funding at renewal, HUD increasingly provided only a few months for some contracts, typically just enough to cover the remaining months of a fiscal year," Olver said.

Last summer, because of funding shortages, HUD couldn't make timely payments to property owners who in turn, were late in paying their expenses including utility bills. In Springfield, the non-profit Alliance to Develop Power reported that its payments from HUD were late, and the Springfield-based agency was scrambling to pay water and electric bills and bills to contractors who had worked on Section 8 properties in the city's South End.

Olver wants answer

Olver called the hearing today to get an answer from HUD on the fiscal practice.

Olver inherited the fiscal problem as chairman in January 2007. To stabilize the program, the committee targeted $1.5 billion in the last fiscal year and for the current fiscal year to the Section 8 project-based housing program which Congress approved. The budget now is $6.4 billion. The infusion of money guaranteed that all the property owners received timely payments from HUD.

Olver wants to know if property owners will drop out of the program this summer as 14,000 contracts expire and landlords learn that their 12-months contracts are only funded for up to five months.

Montgomery said he doesn't foresee that happening, and the program should run without payment delays to property owners because of the money that Congress has provided and an increase in the president's budget.

Meanwhile, HUD's own counsel has advised the agency to stop splitting payments of a year's contract into two fiscal budgets because it may be a violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act, a legal opinion that Montgomery said he didn't support.

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(Picture of Congressman Olver)
U.S. Rep. John W. Olver said today he is concerned that there will be an exodus of property owners participating in a federal housing program this summer.
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"Few GOP challengers in local congressional, US Senate races"

By Associated Press, Tuesday, May 6, 2008, www.bostonherald.com, General Politics

BOSTON - Democrats, who hold all 10 of the state’s congressional districts and both U.S. Senate seats, are all but certain to hang on the vast majority of those offices come November.

Republicans say they have just two candidates prepared to launch congressional bids. The deadline for filing the needed 2,000 voter signatures is Tuesday.

Republican Richard Baker of West Newbury is hoping to challenge incumbent Rep. John Tierney in the 6th Congressional District. Fellow Republican Nathan Bech of Springfield is launching a bid against another Democratic incumbent, Rep. John Olver, in the 1st Congressional District.

U.S. Sen. John Kerry is also fielding potential challenges from Republicans Jim Ogonowski of Dracut and Jeffrey Beatty of Harwich.

Senate candidates must collect the signatures of 10,000 voters.

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"Tax credits near expiration, jeopardizing green projects"
By Scott Stafford, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Thursday, May 29, 2008

A local company has lost out on part of a $45 million project in the Midwest because federal tax incentives for renewable energy sources — an integral part of the economics of all renewable energy projects — are set to expire on Dec. 31.

Roughly $200 million invested in two Pittsfield projects that would produce up to 50 megawatts of energy and 50 million gallons of biodiesel is also likely to be affected. Two wind turbine projects in North County that would collectively produce nearly 38 megawatts of energy could also face significant funding obstacles.

According to sources in the offices of Sen. John F. Kerry and U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, several attempts to extend the expiration of the Investment Tax Credit and the Production Tax Credit have passed the House of Representatives, but were defeated in the Senate, where Democrats have a smaller voting edge. Republicans were reluctant to pass the last attempt because it proposed paying for the tax credits by reducing subsidies to the oil industry, sources said.

The latest proposal recently passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate. It would extend the tax credits for solar projects for six years and wind projects for one year on land and three years at sea.

The unreliability of the tax credits as investment incentives has resulted in the loss of at least one project so far for a local company, EOS Ventures.

"If I can't get a project in the ground by the end of 2008, there's a chance that in 2009 that credit is not going to be there and that economic model falls apart," said Tyler Fairbank, EOS president and CEO. "Every renewable project right now is on the brink."

He said that other developed nations have taken the lead in renewable energy incentives, such as Japan's plan for 12 years of incentives and Germany's for 20 years.

"In this country, which is in economic peril right now because of the huge cost of energy, renewables are the right direction to be going," Fairbank said. "But we are literally about to take a giant step in the opposite direction if we don't get this thing nailed. We should be outraged."

He said that EOS was part of a $45 million, 18-megawatt wind farm project in the Midwest, which had all of its permits and was ready to begin work. But a utility company that was part owner of the project pulled the plug "because they were uncertain about the production tax credit being extended and opted not to move forward."

During the field hearing of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship yesterday at Berkshire Community College, Kerry said the Senate failed three times to pass renewable energy legislation because the Republicans lined up against it.

"If we're going to get these clean energy businesses up and running, we need to extend the energy tax credits right away so investors have the confidence to invest and innovators have the resources to move forward," Kerry said yesterday in e-mailed comments.

Olver, responding to questions via e-mail yesterday, said "incentives keep the focus on the right places, developing clean energy technologies, creating high-wage jobs, and saving consumers and businesses money on their energy bills."

Failing to extend these incentives, Olver said, could risk 116,000 jobs in the wind and solar industries and more than $19 billion in clean energy investment.

The incentives are also an important part of Gov. Deval L. Patrick's economic plan for the commonwealth, said Robert Keough, spokesman for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

If the extension fails, Fairbank, of EOS, said, on Jan. 1, "the industry just takes a massive blow because you just can't make the economics of these projects work without incentives."

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"Olver lends his support to Obama"
By Benning W. De La Mater, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Wednesday, June 04, 2008

U.S. Rep. John W. Olver — one of 28 superdelegates in Massachusetts and among just four undecided holdouts in the state up until yesterday — has endorsed Barack Obama for president.

The Amherst congressman's decision came yesterday as the Illinois senator clinched the party's nomination on the final day of the Democratic presidential primary season and as reports swirled about Hillary Rodham Clinton's future in the race.

In an e-mail to The Eagle, Olver, representative of the 1st Congressional District, which includes the Berkshires, said he decided only in the past week to back Obama, whom he said inspires people.

Olver indicated he does not believe that the drawn-out primary process, which saw the candidates battle to the end — often heatedly — has divided the Democratic Party.

"Clinton is a great candidate; and Obama is a great candidate," Olver wrote. "The competition between the two has been intense at times, but there is time for the party, with all of the important constituencies that Clinton and Obama represent, to come together. If everyone does come together, we represent a group that can produce a victory on Nov. 4."

Asked if he saw potential in an Obama-Clinton ticket, Olver said: "That's obviously up to Obama, if and when he secures the nomination. I don't know where he is on his thinking about the vice presidential position at this stage."

Olver said he personally will work in the coming months to support the Obama campaign. He told The Republican newspaper yesterday that the primary vote in his congressional district was evenly divided between the two candidates.

"My district was quite split, and unlike other congressional districts, mine was much closer," he said.

Olver was joined by another Massachusetts superdelegate, Debra Kozikowski of Chicopee, the vice president of the state Democratic Party, in pledging support for Obama yesterday.

Now, just two Massachusetts congressmen remain uncommitted: U.S. Reps. Edward J. Markey, D-Malden, and U.S. Rep. John F. Tierney, D-Salem.

Clinton won the popular vote in the Massachusetts primary.
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Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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Nathan Bech and former acting Gov. Jane Swift
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"Swift Endorses Bech for Congress"
iBerkshires.com - June 17, 2008

PITTSFIELD — The region's best-known Republican, former acting Gov. Jane M. Swift, has endorsed GOP candidate Nathan Bech in his run for the 1st Massachusetts District.

Bech, of West Springfield, is seeking the seat U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, has held the seat since 1991. (Olver will contend against Democrat Robert Feuer in a primary in September; Bech will face the winner.)

Swift sought to unseat Olver in 1996 after serving as Berkshire County's state senator for three terms. She came up short in a tight race but went on to become to become lieutenant governor in 1998 and later acting governor on the resignation of A. Paul Celucci.

The Williamstown resident spoke in support of Bech at an event in Pittsfield on Monday night.

Bech, who will be 34 next month, operates a property management business founded by his parents and served in Iraq and Afghanistan as an Army officer. The self-described moderate launched his campaign in May.

Swift spoke on behalf of Bech in the hometown of the late Silvio O. Conte, the last Republican to hold the 1st Mass. seat.

Swift is the honorary co-chairman for presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in Massachusetts and his chief education adviser. She is rumored by sources within the Republican Party to be a top pick for secretary of education should McCain win in November.

"Nathan is very, very fortunate to be running with John McCain at the top of our ticket," said Swift.

For more information about further events and Bech's progress in the congressional race, visit www.nathanbech.com. Bech will be in Pittsfield on Thursday, June 19, for the 3rd Thursday events.

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"Bay State's Congress members report thousands in rent income"
By Andrew Miga, Associated Press, June 17, 2008

WASHINGTON - Six of the 10 House members from Massachusetts are landlords who made thousands of dollars last year on rental properties, according to financial disclosure reports released yesterday.

The 2007 filings by lawmakers offer a glimpse into their personal finances, including assets, gifts, income, and trips paid for by private groups. Lawmakers are not required to list exact figures on most disclosure report categories, only a broad dollar range.

Representatives Michael E. Capuano, Stephen F. Lynch, James P. McGovern, John W. Olver, John F. Tierney, and Niki Tsongas reported rental income in addition to their $165,200 congressional salaries.

The state delegation's newest member, Tsongas, got between $15,001 and $50,000 rent for a house in Chatham on Cape Cod. The property was valued between $1 million and $5 million.

Tsongas and her late husband, Paul, a former US senator, bought the house in 1984. It has been rented during the summer most years, Tsongas spokesman John Noble said.

The congresswoman also reported capital gains between $15,001 and $50,000 on Exxon Mobil Corp. holdings.

Capuano reported rents on two properties in Somerville, Mass., and one in Tuftonboro, N.H., totaling between $15,003 and $45,000. He bought the second Somerville property, valued between $250,001 and $500,000, in May 2007.

Capuano got $9,000 in fees as executor for an uncle's estate and $5,000 as a trustee for an aunt's credit shelter trust.

Two South Boston properties generated between $10,002 and $30,000 in rental income for Lynch, a South Boston native, while a basement rental unit in McGovern's home in the capital generated between $5,001 and $15,000 rental income. The home was valued between $1 million and $5 million.

Olver got between $5,001 and $15,000 in rent for a Boston property, while Tierney's interest in a Salem, Mass., property produced between $5,001 and $15,000 in rental income.

Capuano, Lynch, Olver and McGovern held the rental properties jointly with their spouses, according to the reports.

Other Bay State congressmen reported income from teaching college and from a state pension.

Representative Richard E. Neal was paid $21,000 to teach a government and politics course at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, while Representative William D. Delahunt, a former district attorney who now represents Cape Cod and the South Shore, got $57,444 from a state pension.

Representative Edward J. Markey's federal credit union account was valued between $15,001 and $50,000.

Representative Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, took eight trips for which his travel expenses were paid by outside groups.

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"Letter from John Olver: Protecting Civil Liberties"
By John W. Olver - June 18, 2008
iBerkshires Columnist

I write today to update you on the efforts of the 110th Congress to protect and strengthen our civil liberties in the wake of President George W. Bush's extraordinary expansion of executive power. Since 9/11, this nation has struggled to find a balance between protecting national security and safeguarding civil liberties. In my view, the current administration has adhered to an expansive interpretation of Presidential power that has endangered our civil liberties.

Despite these setbacks, Congress is now working to responsibly restore our civil liberties.

FISA

In February, the House of Representatives defied President Bush and allowed the Protect America Act to expire. This law, passed by the House of Representatives last August, amended the framework for electronic surveillance, giving the government authority for six months to conduct electronic surveillance on potential terror suspects without court-approved warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. I voted against the Protect America Act because it severely diminished the role of the intelligence court and left innocent American citizens open to a violation of their private interactions.

The government now relies upon the original FISA law, which requires our intelligence community to obtain warrants approved by a special intelligence court to eavesdrop on phone conversations, e-mail messages, and other electronic communications between U.S. citizens and people overseas.

Contrary to the heated rhetoric surrounding this issue, the expiration of the Protect America Act has neither endangered American lives nor impeded the efforts of our intelligence community. Both the House and Senate have passed legislation to reform FISA, and negotiations are ongoing. The House-passed bill I supported did not extend retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies who cooperated with the president's unauthorized Terrorist Surveillance Program. I will closely scrutinize any agreement to ensure it maintains strong protections for our civil liberties while granting the intelligence community the proper tools to target those planning attacks on American soil.

Torture

The administration maintains that the Central Intelligence Agency and other intelligence entities should not be limited in their use of harsh interrogation techniques. This past March, the president vetoed an Intelligence Authorization bill that required all government agencies to abide by the U.S. Army Manual on Interrogation.

The Army Manual outlines acceptable interrogation techniques while outlawing waterboarding (simulated drowning) and other unduly harsh forms of interrogation. While the veto override failed to garner the two-thirds majority required, I joined over 200 of my colleagues in standing up to the president. The 110th Congress will continue to fight for an interrogation policy that outlaws torture.

Military Commissions

Nearly seven years after 9/11, we have yet to implement an effective justice system for detainees apprehended in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. By treating captives from the war on terror as enemy combatants rather than prisoners of war, this administration has denied individuals due process and often held them for months or years without charge or trial. In June 2006, the Supreme Court rejected key aspects of the military tribunal system. The Republican-led Congress responded by passing the Military Commissions Act, which further restricted detainee access to federal courts.

I voted against this legislation because it allows the submission of evidence gathered through coercive means, permits the president to selectively interpret the Geneva Convention and denies detainees the right of habeas corpus, a mainstay of Western jurisprudence. As a result of these and other objections, I have co-sponsored legislation to restore habeas corpus, reform the Military Commissions process, end the practice known as extraordinary rendition, and close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. It is imperative that the U.S. embrace a military tribunal system that does not demean but honors our founding principles.

Regardless of partisan affiliation, we all recognize the importance of the rights and privileges granted to citizens of the United States. In recent years, the debate surrounding the protection of our civil liberties has too often devolved into accusations of siding with the enemy or silencing domestic dissent. This is deeply unfortunate because when our rights are denigrated and when our civil liberties are curtailed, democracy suffers.

Over the coming months, I will continue to defend and expand our civil liberties while seeking a proper balance between protecting national security and safeguarding our individual rights and freedoms.

As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,
U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst

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John Walter Olver's campaign $'s:
www.campaignmoney.com/political/campaigns/john_walter_olver.asp?cycle=08
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"Olver challenger gets a boost"
By Jessica Willis, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Wednesday, June 18, 2008

PITTSFIELD — He is a relative newcomer to the realm, but Republican Party candidate Nathan Bech of West Springfield, who is challenging longtime incumbent U.S. Rep John W. Olver, D-Amherst, for the 1st Congressional District seat, has received an endorsement from a far more experienced ally.

At a fundraiser at Aster's restaurant on Monday, former acting Gov. Jane M. Swift gave her support to Bech, 33, who has never run for office or worked for another candidate.

Swift, who is an education adviser to Sen. John McCain, the Republican Party candidate for president, narrowly lost her bid for the 1st Congressional District seat in 1996, with 47 percent of the vote to Olver's 53 percent.

Bech's campaign manager, Issac Mass, said yesterday that Swift's support added momentum and "means a lot to us," and that Bech's record as a lieutenant in the Army — he served in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom — gives him more experience than Olver.

On the heels of the fundraiser, Bech's camp issued a press statement noting that Swift was "rumored by sources within the Republican Party to be a top pick for the Secretary of Education should McCain win in November."

The whisperings about a Cabinet position for Swift were waved off by a McCain campaign spokesman, who said it was "presumptuous" to talk about the appointment process at this phase.

"We're working for the votes of the American people," said Jeff Grappone, McCain's New England communications director. "(But) we're honored to have (former acting) Governor Swift's strong support."

Olver, who has held the 1st Congressional seat since 1991, has run unopposed only twice during his tenure: in 1994 and in 2004.

As a result, he and his staff are "very familiar" with campaigning, said Debra Guachione, his campaign manager, and Olver is not resting on his laurels.

"(Olver) takes every race seriously," she added.

Because the congressional term is two years long, a relatively brief span of time, Olver maintains a full-time campaign staff and keeps "structure in place," she said.

Olver also will have opposition in the Sept. 15 Democratic primary from Robert A. Feuer, a Stockbridge attorney who collected 2,568 signatures from 1st District voters — he needed 2,000 to get on the ballot — and turned them in to the Secretary of State one day before the June 3 deadline.

Feuer, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran who serves as chairman of Stockbridge's Democratic Committee and as a coordinator for the Massachusetts Voters for Clean Elections, has blasted Olver's "refusal to execute the will of his constituents and support impeachment proceedings against President Bush and Vice President Cheney."

"(Olver) needs to go," Feuer said. "The sooner the better."

Feuer conceded it would be difficult to compete against an incumbent who had almost $322,000 cash in hand for his campaign at the end of March, according to the Federal Election Commission Web site.

"This is an all-volunteer, grassroots campaign," Feuer said. "I can't fathom raising that kind of money. It's very daunting."

He said he was happy with contributions of $20 and $100 and glad to have supporters who display his lawn signs.

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"Bech challenges Olver: Republican says people want change in Washington"
By George Barnes, gbarnes@telegram.com, Worcester TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF, Sunday, June 29, 2008

LEOMINSTER— A Republican running against a 17-year incumbent Democrat, in a state where most political leaders are from his opponent’s party, Nathan Bech says he is still confident he can win election to Congress.

Mr. Bech is challenging U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, in a race to represent the state’s 1st Congressional District. The district, the largest in land area in the state, extends from Townsend to the New York border and includes much of northern Central Massachusetts, including Fitchburg, Gardner and Leominster.

“I can beat him because I think people are ready for a change in Washington,” he said in a recent interview, noting that Congress’ approval rating is lower than the president’s.

Mr. Bech, 33, of West Springfield, a veteran of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who works in a family property management business, said the change he offers to the district and the country is a willingness to reach across the aisle and work with Democrats and Republicans to pass legislation.

“John Olver votes the party line, votes the party line, votes the party line. That’s what he does,” he said. “I offer a better choice.”

Born in Springfield, Mr. Bech lived most of his life in West Springfield. He served with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan from July 2003 to April 2004 and in Iraq as a liaison between the Army and the Republic of Georgia’s 13th Savnabada Infantry Battalion from February 2005 to September 2006. He said he decided to run for Congress because he wants to contribute to making the country better and thinks leadership in Washington has gotten stagnant.

“I don’t think John Olver is interested in changing anything,” he said. “People here deserve an energetic representative in Washington, not someone who is comfortable and not interested in making changes.”

Mr. Bech said he would be willing to work with Democrats and Republicans in Congress to pass legislation he feels is needed.

The economy is regularly listed as the main concern of voters, and Mr. Bech said he has a better focus on the issue than Mr. Olver.

“I want to bring business to Western Massachusetts and he creates a system of dependence on himself,” he said.

To encourage economic growth, Mr. Bech said, the 35 percent corporate tax rate should be reduced. The Iraq veteran said the country needs to end its involvement in the war, but not until the Iraqi government is stable. Quoting Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn, Mr. Bech said, “We went blundering in and assumed best case. We can’t come blundering out.”

Mr. Bech said one of the areas he is stronger on than his opponent is national security.

“I understand how the world works,” he said.

He is fluent in Russian, Spanish and English and speaks some Hebrew and Arabic. He said his experience working as an intelligence officer in Afghanistan and with the Georgian military in Iraq has given him a good understanding of the issues facing this country in the Middle East.

Mr. Bech said the only way to ensure national security is to leave Iraq with a stable and secure government. He said withdrawing without accomplishing that could result in Iraq becoming a training ground for terrorists.

Mr. Bech graduated in three years from West Springfield High School in 1992 and then studied for a year in India through a Rotary International Program. When he returned from India, he enlisted in the Army Reserves as a private and was sent to learn Russian at the Defense Language Institute. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he joined the Army full time and attended Officer’s Candidate School, which he graduated from as a 2nd lieutenant. While in the Army Reserves, he attended Colgate University, graduating in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He also studied in Egypt and Israel and is continuing his studies in Middle East policy at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

Before running for Congress, he helped run his family’s property management business, having joined the business after his father died in 1999.

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"Olver's legislative clout brings home the bacon ... and criticism"
Saturday, July 05, 2008, By JO-ANN MORIARTY, Jo-ann.moriarty@newhouse.com, via The Springfield Republican Online Newspaper

WASHINGTON - He brings home the bacon, and now he's being criticized for it.

U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, is being cited by the Taxpayers for Common Sense for his "earmarks," the budgetary device used by lawmakers to direct funding to specific, often district-based, projects.

Olver chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

The Taxpayers for Common Sense is a non-partisan watchdog group that opposes the Washington practice of inserting funding for special projects into any of the 13 appropriations bills that fund the federal government.

Stephen C. Ellis, the organization's vice president, told The Republican this week that Olver is a "cardinal," the name used for lawmakers who chair an appropriations subcommittee. Those seats afford chairmen the political muscle to bring home more bacon to their congressional districts, he said.

"We would like to see a system which we make funding decisions based on project merit rather than political muscle," Ellis said. "Right now, Western Massachusetts is doing pretty good because of Representative Olver and the fact that he is a cardinal on the Appropriations Committee. Five or 10 years from now, when Representative Olver isn't there anymore, Western Massachusetts is at the back of the line with some junior member of Congress."

"Our approach is that we want to have a system that rewards important projects in Western Massachusetts no matter who is in Congress, that is what we are looking toward," Ellis said. "There are plenty of good works; it is just bad process," he added.

Taxpayers for Common Sense has been tracking the earmarks as the 13 spending bills that fund the federal government make their way through the legislative process. Last week, the group sent out a press release stating that within the Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill there are "1,126 earmarks worth $442,562,000."

The organization highlighted - in its release - that Olver "obtained a $300,000 earmark for Shakespeare and Company" to assist at-risk students and quoted from the company's website that the program strives "to bring the classical poetry and plays of Shakespeare alive and into the lives" of teachers and students.

"I have no trouble defending that one at all," Olver said of the Shakespeare program based in Lenox. He said the program has an "excellent record of working with those kids."

"I don't have any problems with the earmarking process," Olver said, adding that the Constitution "gives the budgetary power to the Congress, not the executive."

Western Massachusetts congressmen have millions of dollars tucked into several pending appropriations bills to fund projects within the region, including a special earmark of $943,000 for lodging renovations at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee.

Olver and Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, a subcommittee chair on the House Ways and Means Committee, collaborated on the military construction project at Westover as well as inserting their own individual earmarks.

Neal supported his congressional colleague, saying that every project had merit and could withstand public scrutiny.

"They are all worthwhile, the requests come from local government and I think they stand up under the magnifying glass," Neal said.

Neal was particularly supportive of a $500,000 earmark Olver inserted for the Hampden County Sheriff's Department to fund the integrated re-entry model program.

The Springfield Democrat cautioned, however, that it is still early in the legislative process and none of the bills have made it to the House floor for passage. He said the Senate still had to weigh in on its spending bill, adding that "it is premature but the House generally starts the work."

Ellis gave the Democrats kudos for reforms they made to the legislative process in which the lawmakers' names are attached to earmarks inserted into spending bills.

"They increased the transparency, and I respect (that)," Ellis said. He also said that Democrats - in power 18 months - also "cut earmarks 23 percent in dollar terms compared to fiscal year 2005, the high water mark," when Republicans controlled the House.

Olver's committee is scheduled to finalize its spending bill for transportation, housing and urban development this week.
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Staff writer Michael McAuliffe contributed to this story.
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"Olver urges district redraw"
By Jack Dew, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Monday, August 11, 2008

If the looming 2010 census costs Massachusetts a congressional seat, the sparsely populated 1st Congressional District will be vulnerable, according to U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, who said there is a "logic" to forging a new district that would cover the four western counties.

Olver, an Amherst Democrat, has held the 1st seat since 1991. The sprawling district is already spread-eagled across four counties, from the Berkshires all the way to Pepperell, encompassing 110 cities and towns and covering roughly a third of the state's land.

The 2010 census is expected to show that Massachusetts' population failed to keep pace with booming regions like the Southwest and Southeast. The commonwealth's loss will be another state's gain, with one of our 10 congressional seats moving to warmer climes.

According to the Census Bureau's most recent population estimates, Massachusetts has gained fewer than 100,000 people since 2000, while Arizona added nearly 1 million, Florida more than 2 million and California roughly 2.5 million.

Within Massachusetts, Berkshire County is one of only two counties to have lost population, according to the Census Bureau, dropping from 134,953 in 2000 to 131,117 in 2006.

During a meeting at The Eagle last week, Olver said his district will have about 640,000 residents after the 2010 census, as will the 2nd District, represented by Richard E. Neal, a Springfield Democrat.

Nationally, the average congressional seat will represent about 700,000 constituents.

"There is a logic ... to end up with one seat that sits in the western four counties" of Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden, Olver said, with some communities joining a new district headquartered in Worcester County to balance the population numbers.

That redistricting would create a massive power shift in the 1st District, with Springfield becoming the population hub and threatening to marginalize the more rural Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin counties.

"But the Legislature is the one that is in charge of this, and they can do whatever they want," Olver said. "You would not have thought there was much logic to the way these districts were set up. In fact, part of the map (of the 1st District) looks pretty strange."

It may look strange, but there is a method to that madness, said state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, who represents 48 cities and towns in the state Legislature.

"It may look geographically seductive to say the four counties of Western Massachusetts should all be together, but I think Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin share a great deal of commonality," Downing said. "When you put Hampden County in the mix, it completely changes the ball game. Springfield is a huge population base, and it would change politically how the seat is run."

If Massachusetts should lose a congressional seat, Downing said, "it is going to be difficult. There are going to be winners and losers." He added that it would be in the Western Massachusetts delegation's "best interest to speak with one voice that we continue to have two congressional seats to cover Western Massachusetts."

Olver, 71, faces a primary challenge on Sept. 15 from Stockbridge resident Robert A. Feuer. The survivor of that race will run against Republican Nathan Bech of West Springfield.

If Olver wins a ninth term, he will continue to wield considerable influence through his position as chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, where he has been able to secure funds for projects like the expansion of the Pittsfield Municipal Airport, the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail that runs from Adams through Lanesborough, and the Joseph Scelsi Intermodal Transportation Center in Pittsfield.

Olver said he has tried to spread earmarks among his district based on each community's share of the population. "Berkshire County has a little more than 20 percent of the population, so it gets a little more than 20 percent of the goodies," he said.

"There are others who take care of their hometown to the detriment of their district, but I thought it was necessary to (spread the money) because of the very nature of the district," he added.

There are eight daily newspapers, he said, and "each one has its own character, and each wants to have stuff that is going on, and they don't want to be left out of the game, so to speak. By (spreading the earmarks), I think I have been able to fend off the possibility of a serious campaign (challenge) in part because, when you have all of these very independent-minded ... groups, it is hard for somebody to get into all areas all at once."

A redrawn district could mean a new system for doling out earmarks. Asked what impact that would have, Olver said it "depends on who has (the seat) and what committees that person happens to serve on."
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To reach Jack Dew: jdew@berkshireeagle.com (413) 496-6241
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"Bech criticizes Olver’s call for redistricting"
By Jeremy P. Jacobs (jeremy.jacobs@politickerma.com)

Nathan Bech, the Republican challenging U.S. Rep. John Olver, blasted the congressman Tuesday morning for espousing a plan to redistrict the 1st Congressional District.

The Berkshire Eagle reported Monday that Olver (D-Amherst) said redrawing the district lines after the 2010 census to reflect the declining population in the area makes sense. "There is a logic," Olver said, "to end up with one seat that sits the western four counties." Those counties would be Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden.

Olver said the redistricting would leave several rural communities unrepresented. "This plan will obliterate the leverage of our poorest and most rural communities," Bech said in a statement. "I still want to fight for Gardner, Athol, Leominster, and Fitchburg."

Bech also implied that Olver isn't working to represent the areas that would be moved out of the district in the plan. "How much work is John Olver going to do over the next two years for voters he doesn't want?" Olver asked.

It has been widely reported that Massachusetts will likely lose one of its seats Congress after the 2010 census due to its population decline while other areas of the country, like the southwest, have seen their population grow.

Olver also told the Berkshire Eagle that, ultimately, it is up to the state legislature to redistrict the state, and noted that it is already strange that the 1st District takes up nearly a third of the state. "The legislature is the one that is in charge of this, and they can do whatever they want," Olver said. "You would not have thought there was much logic to the way these districts were set up. In fact, part of the map [of the 1st District] looks pretty strange."

Bech called the statements an indication that Olver doesn't want to represent the entire district and said a seat should be removed from the Boston area.

"John Olver," Bech said, "should lobby the legislature to remove a metro Boston district rather than preemptively throwing his own constituents under the bus."
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Category: HouseTags: John Olver (D), Nathan Bech (R)
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Source: www.politickerma.com/jeremyjacobs/654/bech-criticizes-olver-s-call-redistricting
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"He said … Russia is bombing civilian targets. They’re going too far."
Nathan Bech, 1ST DISTRICT CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE
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"Massachusetts man gets e-mail from battle"
By Danielle M. Williamson, dawilliamson@telegram.com, Worcester TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF, August 12, 2008

When serving in Iraq as a liaison between the U.S. and Georgian armies in 2005, Nathan Bech became friendly with some of the Georgian soldiers. He’s since been a wedding guest of one of the officers he befriended, attending the ceremony in Georgia.

Mr. Bech, a 33-year-old West Springfield resident campaigning for a U.S. congressional seat that represents Fitchburg, Gardner and Leominster, corresponded by e-mail Sunday with that same Georgian officer whose wedding he attended. The man had just moved his wife and child out of their home in besieged Gori, and was preparing to defend his small country from the Russians.

“He said words can’t describe what he’s seen,” said Mr. Bech, a Republican who is challenging U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, for Mr. Olver’s 1st District congressional seat. “Russia is bombing civilian targets. They’re going too far.”

Having spent a seven-month tour of duty working with the Republic of Georgia’s 13th Shavnabada Infantry Battalion, the Army veteran is paying close attention to the ongoing conflict between the small U.S. ally and its powerful neighbor, which ruled Georgia for most of the 200 years preceding the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union.

Mr. Bech said he is fluent in Russian and Spanish, and also speaks some Hebrew and Arabic. He said he learned Georgians’ opinions of Russia and the United States.

“Georgia wants to be out from under the yoke of Russia, and Russia is livid about that,” Mr. Bech said. “I saw, up close and personal, Georgia overhauling its military, and firing most of its top leadership who had been trained in the Soviet way of doing things. I met several officers in the Georgian army who were trained in American schools.”

Appreciative of the United States for winning the Cold War, Georgia has the third-largest contingent of soldiers in Iraq, after the United States and United Kingdom, he said.

“We, as a nation, need to stand by our friends and Georgia is a very good friend,” Mr. Bech said. “This is a country that has sent soldiers to support our effort in Iraq when others have turned their back on us. We need to encourage Europe to put diplomatic pressure on Russia to lay off.”

Georgian rebels have provided an excuse for the Russian military to occupy the small country, Mr. Bech said.

“There are some Georgian residents who identify with Russia, and have rebelled against the authority of the Georgian government,” Mr. Bech explained. “So then Russia plays this game of giving citizenship to these rebels, so they can say, ‘We have citizens in (Georgia) and now we have to protect them.’ ”

Mr. Bech remembered an analogy that a Georgian soldier used to explain Russia’s treatment of Georgia.

“He said if you want to be friends with someone, you conduct yourself in a certain way,” Mr. Bech said. “You don’t grab someone by the neck, sit him in a chair and say, ‘You will be my friend.’ ”

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www.city-data.com/elec2/elec-PITTSFIELD-MA.html
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Thursday, August 14, 2008
"City GOP would like to end ‘one-party state’"
By Paula J. Owen CORRESPONDENT, Worcester Telegram & Gazette News

LEOMINSTER— The Leominster Republican City Committee is seeking new members, and its current members say they are pushing for change in a “one-party state.”

It is not an easy task in a heavily Democratic state, and they are the first to admit it. Not many people want to have an “R” for Republican next to their name quite yet, they say, so those who want change are switching to unenrolled or independent status.

“The silent majority often support Republican positions,” said Frank Ardinger, vice chairman of the committee. “But they are intimidated by putting an ‘R’ next to their name.”

John Souza, chairman of the committee and of the Leominster Planning Board, said there is an uprising in the state and the country to end partisan bickering. Getting more Republicans in office will put the checks and balances in place that are needed for a democracy, he said.

“We really believe it is important to have a two-party system,” Mr. Souza said. “There is a definite undercurrent of people wanting to see change, and without the checks and balances, you lose the concept of our government.”

The committee held a news conference yesterday to make the public aware of the committee and as a precursor to a fundraiser at 7 p.m. Aug. 20 at the Elks Club.

Former governor and ambassador Paul Cellucci will publicly endorse Republican congressional candidate Nathan Bech of West Springfield, who is running for Congress in the 1st District against U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst. The event is open to the public.

Committee members say they also want to send the message that Democrats need to realize they will not continue to go unchallenged in political races in Massachusetts.

“We want to get young people involved with city government and let them build a constituency locally to get local representation in the Statehouse down the road,” Mr. Souza said. “This is a grassroots plan we are trying to make work, and nothing comes easy when you are trying to do that.”

Committee member Joshua Sanderski said he was registered as a Democrat several years ago, but switched to Republican after he had his first child.

“Now the Democratic party is so liberal, the future is dangerous for family, the economy and national security,” he said.

Also in attendance was Joseph W. Manzoli, campaign manager for U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Beatty, who is running for the seat now held by U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass. He said the issue is not about Democrat versus Republican, but about democracy.

“In this state, we do not have a system that allows alternate opinions,” he said.

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"There is a definite undercurrent of people wanting to see change."
-John Souza, GOP CITY CHAIRMAN
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"Redistricting reform"
The Berkshire Eagle - Editorial
Tuesday, August 19, 2008

In a discussion of a possible redrawing of Massachusetts congressional districts after the 2010 census, U.S. Representative John Olver reminded members of The Eagle's editorial board that the state Legislature could do essentially what it wants when it comes to redistricting. But should it? History suggests that politics plays a dominant role in redistricting, and not just in Massachusetts, and a better system should be found before 2010.

The mammoth First District that Mr. Olver represents includes Mount Washington on the borders of Connecticut and New York and West Townsend on the border of New Hampshire, and is drawn in a way that the veteran Democrat acknowledged was "pretty strange." This is because redistricting is designed to protect incumbents, not serve the interests of voters, by including communities that are generally supportive of them and excluding those that are not. Should the state lose a congressional seat after the 2010 census, as seems likely, the First District may get a lot stranger, to the detriment of the Berkshires.

In Washington, bipartisan legislation has been introduced to fix this process by creating independent boards to make redistricting truly non-partisan. Redrawing districts between censuses, a stunt pulled by Representative Tom Delay in Texas before he left office in disgrace, would be banned.

Not surprisingly, this effort is stalled in Washington, but these reform measures could be done by the state Legislature, as have the legislative bodies in other states. Our Berkshire delegation should make redistricting reform a priority, because if redistricting is mishandled after 2010, the Berkshires will suffer for it.

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Nathan Bech (Darren Vanden Berge/Berkshire Eagle Staff)
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"Nathan Bech: Jobs must stay home: The candidate for the 1st Congressional District will likely challenge incumbent John Olver."
By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Friday, August 22, 2008

PITTSFIELD — With the long abandoned buildings of the former General Electric complex as a backdrop, a Republican candidate for the 1st Congressional District said yesterday that he wants to create a more business-friendly environment in the Berkshires.

Nathan Bech, of West Springfield, also accused incumbent U.S. Rep. John W. Olver of doing nothing to keep jobs in the district. He said the Amherst Democrat has relied too much on earmarks — including funds for the nearly $11 million Joseph Scelsi Intermodal Transportation Center on Columbus Avenue — that Bech claims have failed to spur growth in economic areas.

Olver landed $8 million in federal earmarks to launch that project, and an additional $615,000 to cover a budget deficit.

"He is buying votes," Bech said of Olver, his possible opponent in the November election.

An Iraq War veteran who has never run for office, the 34-year-old Bech officially announced his candidacy in May. He will face the winner of next month's Democratic primary between Olver, a 17-year incumbent, and Robert Feuer of West Stockbridge.

In order to create jobs, Bech said he is in favor of keeping taxes low and creating a more business-friendly environment by lowering the costs of health insurance.

"You do that through tort reform, and not passing on the expense of huge settlements and lawsuits to all of us who need medical care," Bech said. "Some doctors are pushed out of business because their premiums are more than they make."

Bech is also in favor of lowering costs by having the state government receive a discount by buying prescription drugs in bulk, which he said will decrease payroll taxes. He wants to bring the country's corporate tax rate down to the international average, a measure Bech said will keep American businesses from sending jobs to India and China.

"It's not about tax breaks for businesses," Bech said. "It's not about rich people. It's about common people, everyday people being able to find work and keeping those jobs right here in America."

A 1999 graduate of Colgate University who majored in political science, Bech returned home to West Springfield to help with his parents' property management business, which he took over after his father died of cancer that year. Yesterday, Bech said his small-business experience gives him an advantage over Olver, who was a college professor before entering politics.

"John Olver has never spent one day in the private sector," Bech said. "I ran a small business for several years. I learned what over-regulation does."

Bech said Olver's record proves that he is not in favor of lowering taxes.

"His whole philosophy is to work the earmark system," Bech said. "He is not aggressively representing the interests of the people of Western and Central Masachusetts to get the economy moving again."

The Berkshire County Republican Association opened a campaign office for local Republican candidates on North Street last night. The BCRA's main office is located in the Clocktower Building on South Church Street.

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Veteran Congressman John Olver.
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"Olver, Downing come to Adams to talk politics"
By Meghan Foley, North Adams Transcript, Monday, August 25, 2008

ADAMS -- On the eve of the Democratic National Convention, local Democrats and representatives from various organizations and institutions packed the conference room at the Adams Visitor Center Sunday night to hear a state senator and U.S. congressman talk politics.

"We all hope we can come out of the Democratic Convention with as unified a position as possible, with a strong sense of direction," U.S. Rep. John Olver, D-Amherst, told the crowd of about 50.

The veteran congressman Olver and first-term state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, gave brief stump speeches then answered questions.

"We've managed to produce quite a good record," said Olver, who planned to leave for the convention this morning.

"Anything that I have learned in the past two years is the best ideas don't come from the Statehouse or Beacon Hill, but at gatherings like this," Downing said. "Too often we have fallen into a pattern where we all want to become critics and not take time out of our schedule to roll up our sleeves and come up with solutions."

Joseph Nowak, chairman of the Adams Democratic Committee, said the "meet and greet" was sponsored by the committee just to bring up voter awareness and promote more political activism, especially in this election year.

Nowak said the timing of the event, which the committee had been planning for a couple of months, was not because of the convention, but had been dependent upon the politicians' schedules.

"These guys are good to us," Adams Selectman Joseph R. Dean Jr. said.

Both Olver and Downing spoke about the dangers of global warming and the need to create alternative energy.

"We're going to have to build alternative energy systems to provide for our needs," Olver said.

He said the country has spent well over a half-trillion dollars on the war in Iraq while the situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate. He blamed stalling on the part of Senate Republicans for the failure of Congress to take action on many important bills.

Downing said the connection between economic development and education goes unseen many times, and Berkshire County needs to provide the education for its residents.

"The reason there is job growth around Boston is because of the concentration of smart people," he said.

His speech focused mainly on the local economy and issues plaguing the Berkshires. He said Berkshire County faces challenges in the categories of education, energy and infrastructure.

"We've been able to turn what have been challenges into opportunity," he said, noting that the recently passed Green Communities Act and Green Jobs Bill should help create a new "green collar economy" to provide start-up businesses and clean-technology firms throughout Massachusetts.

He also spoke about the importance of public transportation.

"We need to give people more options to use public transit not only in populated areas, but in rural areas," he said.

Downing and Olver were asked for guidance by the Hoosic River Watershed Association about contrasting plans for tree cutting along the river by two divisions of the Army Corps of Engineers. Olver said his office would look into the situation.

Christine Cowlin, a registered Democrat of Adams, said the topics Downing and Olver talked about were good, but she "found Downing more captivating."

As for Sen. Barack Obama's choice of Sen. Joe Biden as his vice presidential candidate, Cowlin said she approved.

"I really think he is going to help get out the working class vote," she said.

John Zelazo, a member of the Adams Democratic Committee, said Biden's drug policy is very "right wing," but he is a "good balance for Obama."

"We'll wait and see how the team works together. That is the critical thing," Olver said as he left the visitors center.

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"Bech Makes Campaign Stop in Adams"
By Lyndsay DeBord - August 28, 2008, Special to iBerkshires

ADAMS — It isn't easy being a Republican in this very blue state, but Nathan Bech isn't discouraged.

He's taking on U.S. Rep. John W. Olver for the 1st Massachusetts seat and he's been firing off critiques of the Amherst Democrat's House performance on an almost a daily basis.

And he's not afraid to target a couple Pittsfield's points of pride in the process — its beloved baseball tale and its lauded Intermodal Transportation Center.

Still, only a handful of people came to meet the candidate on Wednesday night at the Berkshire Visitors Center, compared to the four dozen or so who came hear Olver there on Sunday night. While waiting for the 5 p.m. meeting to begin, Bech said he had seen various-sized crowds at his previous events.

Levi Davenport, of Dalton, was there Wednesday, along with nine points he wanted to discuss. He said he felt bad that there were so few Republicans in the area.

"There are oceans of Democrats," Davenport said.

The meeting was one of 26 "town hall" meetings Bech's holding throughout the sprawling Western Mass. congressional district. He's invited Olver to all them. Not surprisingly, the nine-term incumbent hasn't shown up; surprisingly, his primary opponent did.

Democratic challenger Robert A. Feuer readily accepted and arrived at the Adams meeting after a busy day in Stockbridge. The South County attorney is running on a number of issues, including impeaching President Bush and ending hostilities in Iraq. He has frequently called on Olver to pursue impeachment.

"I think it's cool that the two of you are here at the same time," said one attendee to the politicians of opposing political views.

The small group didn't discourage Bech or Feuer, who both addressed the questions and concerns of those in attendance, including the topic of renewable energy.

But Bech's main focus was Olver: "I don't believe he's working hard."

He recently spoke out against Olver for introducing a House resolution that would declare the word "baseball" was first referenced in Pittsfield.

An Aug. 19 report in the Wall Street Journal drew attention to this resolution, along with others like "National Watermelon Month." The article claimed that the current Congress has passed the fewest public laws while proposing the most resolutions.

While Bech understands the resolution — "It's symbolic and it is important" — he argues that Congress should prioritize issues, like the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Let's get something done," he said.

One way he proposes to accomplish more in Congress, if elected, would be to look for the "10 to 20 percent" of both Democrats and Republicans who can agree on something instead of arguing.

Bech also called Pittsfield train station a "wasteful project."

"He [Olver] designated funds for a train station in Pittsfield that gets two trains a day and they're late, generally. So this is a big, beautiful train station that no one uses," said Bech.

At the meeting, Bech also criticized Gov. Deval Patrick for his plan to raise taxes for education.

"It's like a kid who get his lunch money and spends it on candy and then lunch time comes and he says, 'I don't have any lunch money, I need more money,'" said Bech, who doesn't believe that taxes need to be raised. Instead, he proposes using the money that is given and "spending it the right way."

He discussed solar power and how people could add solar panels to their houses. He believes that a tax credit would help offset the initial investment of energy-efficient improvements.

Another attendee brought up wind energy and how people consider wind turbines to be unattractive. Feuer addressed the concern and called it an "aristocratic approach."

The Republican candidate also commented and discussed how they could have a negative effect on the tourism industry. Instead, Bech believes that nuclear fusion, different from current nuclear technology, is "the way of the future."

To lower the cost of health care, he wants to create competition among health-care providers that he believes will provide citizens with a choice of doctors and hospitals. He also discussed lowering the cost of prescription drugs through receiving discounted prices by buying in bulk.

"This is pure capitalism," Bech said of his plan.

Bech also believes that high gas prices can be lowered with more drilling inside the United States. He wants President Bush to lift the ban on off-shore drilling in U.S. waters. He also believes that drilling in a small portion of the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) can be accomplished without harming the environment.

Further, his gas plan calls for more oil refineries to be built in the country. He proposes to do this through federal tax incentives for oil companies.

The Mexican border and immigration were also discussed at the meeting. Bech said he wants to "seal the border," but added that the country should welcome legal immigrants. He also spoke unfavorably about Olver supporting a telescope at the border, but not a fence.

"He's looking for the wrong aliens," Bech joked.

The Republican is a Springfield native and Colgate University graduate. He has studied language and is fluent Russian and Spanish and also speaks some Hebrew and Arabic.

An Army intelligence officer, Bech has served in Afghanistan and Iraq. He brings his education and experience into his views on the Middle East.

"I want to get out of Iraq as soon as we possibly can," said Bech, "but we need to do it carefully." His goal — to "leave behind a stable, secure, democratic ally."

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Nathan Bech
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Robert A. Feuer will meet U.S. Rep. John W. Olver in the Sept. 16, 2008, Democratic Party primary.
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Source: www.iberkshires.com/story/28161/Bech-Makes-Campaign-Stop-in-Adams.html
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The Berkshire Eagle, Published on: 7/9/2005

PITTSFIELD -- It's a long way from the corner office in City Hall to the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, but mayoral aide Lisa Wiehl is ready to make that trip.

Lisa Wiehl, who has worked for Mayor James M. Ruberto since he announced his candidacy in May 2003, is leaving City Hall to become a member of U.S. Rep. John W. Olver's staff. Her last day in Pittsfield was yesterday; she will join the Amherst Democrat's office July 14.

Lisa Wiehl, who will turn 26 next month, handles special projects and media relations for the mayor's office. In Washington, she will serve as a legislative correspondent for Olver.

She describes her new position as containing a "little bit" of constituent services, and a lot of letter-writing and policy-driven work.

"Basically, I'll be working with what's going on at the national policy level," Lisa Wiehl said. "I'll do a lot of research, answering phones. It's an entry-level position. You go in and get your hands dirty."

Working in Washington "has been a goal of mine," Lisa Wiehl said.

Lisa Wiehl graduated from Pittsfield High School in 1997 and from Williams College in 2001, where she earned a bachelor's degree in economics. After spending a year in Boston working for a commercial insurance company, she returned home two years ago when Ruberto announced his second run for mayor. In his first bid, in 2001, he was defeated by Sara Hathaway. He won the rematch in 2003.

"I primarily took this job because I wanted to work on changing Pittsfield," Lisa Wiehl said. "It was a big goal of mine."

Lisa Wiehl said she "called (Ruberto) out of the blue" and was hired. During the second Ruberto-Hathaway campaign, Lisa Wiehl said she served as "operations director," handling such responsibilities as the placing of campaign signs. She moved into her present position when Ruberto took office in January 2004.

One project that Wiehl managed through the mayor's office was helping to set up scenes for the artistic photographs that noted photographer Gregory Crewdson took around the city last year.

"I love this job," Wiehl said.

"I'm really excited for Lisa because she's had an opportunity to see how an executive office functions, and soon she'll have an opportunity to be in policy and policy-making as opposed to operations," Ruberto said.

Lisa Wiehl hasn't ruled out a bigger role for herself in Washington in the future, but doesn't expect it to happen soon.

"I want to get down there," she said. "I think it'll be good just to take a look around and see what's happening and go from there. I'll take it one step at a time and see what happens."

Would she like to run for office herself someday?

"Maybe," Wiehl said with a nervous laugh.
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Lisa Wiehl
Legislative Aide
John W. Olver - Office of the Representative (D-MA)
U.S. House of Representatives
1027 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202.225.5335
Fax: 202.226.1224
Web site: www.house.gov/olver/
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Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Community: "Berkshire County Breakfast is tomorrow"
Friday, September 12, 2008

The Committee to re-elect John Olver for Congress will host their 17th annual Berkshire County Breakfast from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. tomorrow at the ITAM Lodge. Reservations are encouraged, and can be made by calling (413) 446-2209, or e-mailing olvercampaign@crocker.com. Tickets will also be available at the door at a cost of $25 per person.

Congressman John Olver is running for his ninth term in office, representing the 1st District, including Western and central Massachusetts.

He presently serves as Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies. Olver faces a primary challenger on Sept. 16, and a possible Republican challenger in the general election on Nov. 4.

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Massachusetts: "Kerry, Olver clear hurdles: Popular pair easily defeat challengers, will move on to Nov. 4 elections"
By Benning W. De La Mater, Berkshire Eagle Staff, Wednesday, September 17, 2008

PITTSFIELD — Two of the state's longtime, popular politicians easily won their contests yesterday in the state's Democratic primary election on a day that yielded low voter turnout.

In his first primary challenge in 24 years, U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry defeated Edward J. O'Reilly, while U.S. Rep John W. Olver of Amherst beat Stockbridge attorney Robert Feuer in the race for the U.S. House of Representatives, 1st District.

Kerry will face Jeffrey K. Beatty, R-Harwich, on Nov. 4, while Olver will face Nathan A. Bech, R-West Springfield.

With 94 percent of precincts reporting in the Senate race late last night, Kerry was ahead by a margin of 69 percent to 31 percent. And with 99 percent of the precincts reporting in the House race, Olver had a lead of 79 percent to 21 percent.

The four Berkshires state representatives — along with State Sen. Benjamin Downing of Pittsfield — ran unopposed yesterday.

Secretary of State William Galvin said he expected voter turnout to be low because there was only one statewide race, and he was right.

By 5 p.m., only 205 of the 2,438 registered voters in Ward 4A had made a trip to Herberg Middle School in Pittsfield. A short time later, just 174 of the 2,043 voters in Ward 3A had shown up at Providence Court.

By 6 p.m., 19 people had voted in Peru, officials there said.

Bob and Gloria McInerney, of Pittsfield, said both Olver and Kerry's experience won their votes.

"With Olver, we feel his record in Congress is sterling," Gloria said. "With Kerry, it's his experience."

Pittsfield resident Jim Renzi said Kerry "sealed the deal for me" with his speech at the Democratic National Convention and Olver "is very proactive for our area."

Olver has held the congressional seat since 1991 and is running for his ninth term in office representing the 1st District, which includes Western and central Massachusetts. Feuer had criticized Olver for not coming out stronger against the Bush administration and failures in Iraq.

Olver said last night that he is looking forward to bringing about change in Congress.

"With a new president, we have a chance to begin reversing the setbacks our nation has experienced over the last eight years," he said. "I want to be part of that kind of change, the first step of which is to safely disengage our troops from Iraq, bring our soldiers home and devote our attention and resources to rescuing the American dream for workers and families struggling to make ends meet."

Bech, Olver's Republican challenger in November, wants voters to consider him a serious candidate for Congress.

"I intend to win this race," Bech told The Eagle yesterday. "I am not running to make a statement. I want to get health care costs down, taxes down, and gasoline prices down."

Kerry said he was humbled by the support of Democratic voters and looked forward to the November general election against a Republican opponent.

"There are unfinished fights that we must win and I want to return to Washington to make sure every American has the same great health care that I receive as a senator," Kerry said in a statement. "I have always been honored to be the junior senator from Massachusetts."
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Dick Lindsay and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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"A progressive group for District 1"
The Berkshire Eagle - Letters, Friday, September 26, 2008

To those who turned out on Tuesday, Sept. 16:

Thank you to the 88 residents of Stockbridge, who stood with me and were among the 8,696 voters across the First Congressional District who supported me and the issues I raised in last Tuesday's Democratic primary. This is to honor and thank every one of the 8,696 voters of the 1st Congressional District who made it their purpose to cast their vote for Bob Feuer for Congress. Each of you has demonstrated your awareness and commitment to gaining greater accountability from our federal government. Our votes made a huge statement of solidarity for the issues that weigh on our district and country.

We want improved public transportation in the face of rising fuel costs. We want good-paying jobs to establish a sustainable economy. We want affordable health care for all. We want the development of alternative fuels, increased efficiency, and conservation as we move forward. We want the development of sustainable and local food production, bringing producers closer to consumers. We want a balanced, constitutional federal government to return us to a rule of law that protects and defends our rights and liberties. And we want an end to war.

To accomplish these ends, I am reaching out across and into every corner of our vast district to connect with those committed voters who have embraced this agenda. My county coordinators have urged we take the gain of nearly 9,000 voters, and form a District 1, progressive political organization to press all elected officials for the issues we embrace. Imagine you are a voting member of an active, cohesive group of 9,000 and growing. To that end, I encourage and invite each of you to contact me, enroll, and together we will move mountains.

My personal contact information is stated below, yours will be protected. Let's pick up today where we left off on Sept. 16. Join in by e-mail or phone, and together we will expand CSA farming, develop alternative fuel co-ops, and press all of our elected officials to stand up for our Constitution and make a public record of the crimes of this current administration, so that no future president can ever again do to our nation what has happened here and abroad in these last eight years.

BOB FEUER
Stockbridge, Massachusetts
The writer can be reached by phone at (413) 298-4749, mail at P.O. Box 658 in Stockbridge and e-mail at fires4@vgernet.net A Web site will be announced.

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"Olver files law to aid patients"
The Springfield Republican Newspaper (Online), Tuesday, September 30, 2008, By JO-ANN MORIARTY, jo-ann.moriarty@newhouse.com

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, who represents 110 cities and towns in Western and central Massachusetts, introduced legislation Monday to preserve a transportation benefit for Medicaid patients.

Olver, a member of the House Appropriations Committee and the chairman of its subcommittee on transportation, housing and urban development, filed legislation to John Olverprotect non-emergency medical transportation, a critical benefit for poor families, particularly those living in remote regions.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services is proposing a regulation change that would allow states the option of providing the federally mandated transportation benefit.

Olver's legislation would prevent the implementation of the proposed change.

"There are approximately 4 million rural and urban families and children participating in the Medicaid program whose sole means of transportation to medical care is through NEMT," Olver said referring to the federal program. "We cannot simply abandon these people. It is critical that they have access to preventive care so that they don't end up in our emergency rooms for higher cost procedures that could have been prevented."

He said the loss of the transportation benefit would be particularly harmful to people living in rural communities.

"This service is especially important for those living in rural areas where there may not be public transit options," Olver said. "As chairman of the Transportation and Urban Development Appropriations Committee, one of my primary goals has been to bolster support for public transportation. However, I realize that public transit is not always an option in rural communities. For many low income people in rural areas, there may be no affordable way to get to their doctor's office. That's what makes continuing to provide this service so very important."

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"Massachusetts delegates explain how they voted on the bailout"
Matt Murphy, Berkshire Eagle Boston Bureau, September 30, 2008

BOSTON — The historic bailout of Wall Street financial firms failed to pass in Congress yesterday, leaving some local lawmakers predicting dire consequences for the economy while others held out hope a better solution could be found in the days ahead.

The Massachusetts delegation to the House of Representatives splintered over the proposed $700 billion bailout of Wall Street, as three of the 10 members from the Bay State yesterday rejected the plan that was supposed to stabilize financial markets and prevent credit from drying up.

U.S. Reps. John Tierney, D-Salem, William Delahunt, D-Quincy, and Stephen Lynch, D-Boston, all voted against the plan yesterday in a dramatic vote on the floor of the House the sparked a freefall in the stock markets as the Dow Jones fell more than 777 points.

"There were compromises made in this version of the bill, ostensibly to gain bipartisan support," Tierney said. "Unfortunately, such compromises were made at the expense of key priorities — investment in helping homeowners, protections to ensure that the taxpayers will not have to absorb the full cost, and incentives to get the economy back on track." Tierney said the bill could be improved, and he hopes that will happen as the week progresses.

U.S. Rep. John Olver, D-Amherst, did not respond to several requests for comment.

Some House Republicans spoke about philosophical differences with the plan to provide a government parachute to executives and lending firms that wrote their own obituaries by getting wrapped up in risky sub-prime lending.

Supporters said the final legislation to purchase bad debt, changed from President Bush's initial proposal, achieved significant compromises on transparency, oversight, a cap on executive compensation and some ability to rewrite problem loans.

The bill also called for disbursing the money in parts, starting with $250 billion followed by $100 billion at the discretion of the president.

The Treasury could have then request the remaining $350 billion at any time, but Congress could deny the request.

The bailout plan hashed out over the past week by Congressional leaders from both parties fell 13 votes short of passing yesterday, with 95 Democrats and 133 Republicans opposed to the plan. All the discussions, of course, took place with elections now just more than month away and the public growing increasing frustrated by the idea of footing the bill.

U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas voted for the proposal despite seeing problems with the bill, arguing that she had been convinced by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that the alternative could be financial disaster.

"I'm more than disappointed. I'm very concerned. This has been a consequential day, but I'll be happy if I'm proved wrong," Tsongas said.

Tsongas said she was worried as she watched the stock market spiral downward that Congress's inability to reach a compromise might threaten jobs, retirement funds and taxpayers' ability to secure financing for credit.

Financial Service Committee Chairman and Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, D-Newton, urged his colleagues to pass the bailout yesterday, even if it wasn't perfect, or risk a shut down of the country's credit system that would hurt taxpayers at home.

After its failure, Frank said he was deeply worried, but ready to continue working on a bill that could get enough support in the House to pass.

Republicans sharply criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after the vote for what they called an excessively partisan speech on the floor of the House before that might have caused at least a dozen GOP members to change their vote.

As the vote took place, the stock exchange responded with the Dow plummeting as much as 705 points, because traders had fully expected the bailout to pass.

"I think we're all adults and they put their hurt feelings ahead of the wellbeing of our county and I'm very disappointed," Tsongas said. "That's a not a reasonable reason for the vote that some of them chose to take."

Frank, asked about the criticism, said if he had the 12 names he would be willing to say "uncharacteristically nice things" to them to convince them to put their country ahead of partisan politics.

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"Representative John W. Olver: Bail Out Needed to Rescue Main Street"
iBerkshires.com - Staff reports - October 01, 2008

NORTH ADAMS — How did U.S. Rep. John W. Olver vote in Monday's historic rejection of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout?

The Amherst Democrat voted in favor of the bailout along with about three-quarters of the state's all-Democratic congressional delegation. Reps. Stephen Lynch of South Boston, William Delahunt of Quincy and John Tierney of Salem voted no.

In a statement issued last week, Olver said the Bush administration plan was unacceptable. He described it as a "$700 billion blank check" that did not allow for any oversight, any foreclosure mitigation assistance, or any taxpayer protections.

"I would not have voted for a bill that did not contain these necessary taxpayer protections," said Olver in a statement received by iBerkshires.com on Wednesday.

The compromise bill hammered out in "round the clock" negotiations by Democrats and Republicans over the next nine days put enough taxpayer safeguards in to convince Olver to back it.

"I voted for this bill because I believed that inaction would have led to far more costly consequences than the price tag that came with this plan," he said.

"The financial crisis is not confined to lower Manhattan. If this crisis only affected Wall Street bankers, I would have let them sleep in the beds they made," he continued. "Across the country, retirement accounts are shrinking and loans for both businesses and individuals are unavailable. Given the far-reaching impacts of this crisis, and that the health of our economy affects every man, woman and child in this country, we should not view this as a bailout of Wall Street. Rather, it is a buy-in toward our economic recovery."

In statements Tuesday, Olver's Republican challenger for the 1st Massachusetts District this year, Nathan Bech of West Springfield, called the House's failure to pass the measure "another example of the colossal ineffectiveness of the least productive Congress in history."

He blamed incumbents, and Olver in particular, of failing to pursue a bipartisan solution and "legislating our way into this mess."

"John Olver has voted again and again in favor of letting Fannie [Mae] and Freddie [Mac] loose on the American taxpayer," he said, referring to the two quasi-public national mortgage holders.

Olver, however, slammed the Bush administration and the Republicans' former hold on Congress for creating the current financial mess.

Their "ideological position ... removed responsible regulation in favor of a Wall Street free-for-all that gambled away American retirement funds while feeding the greed of executives," he said. "That era is over."

On Capitol Hill, "no" votes came from both the Democratic and Republican sides of the aisle. More than two-thirds of Republicans and 40 percent of Democrats opposed the bill. Several Democrats in close election fights waited until the last moment, then went against the bill as it became clear the vast majority of Republicans were opposing it.

In all, 65 Republicans joined 140 Democrats in voting "yes," while 133 Republicans and 95 Democrats voted "no."

The Senate is expected to vote on its version of the bill on Wednesday; the House anticipates bringing the matter to the floor again on Thursday.

"Regardless of our immediate next steps, the next Congress will need to focus on a multi-faceted approach to getting our broken economy back on track," said Olver, adding a key component will be "a complete overhaul" of the financial sector's regulatory system to prevent another crisis from occurring.

Below are the key provisions added into the bill that failed to pass Monday, as provided by Olver's office:

REINVEST, REIMBURSE, REFORM

IMPROVING THE FINANCIAL RESCUE LEGISLATION

Significant bipartisan work has built consensus around dramatic improvements to the original Bush-Paulson plan to stabilize American financial markets — including requiring a plan to ensure the taxpayer is repaid in full, and requiring Congressional review after the first $350 billion for future payments.

3 Phases of a Financial Rescue with Strong Taxpayer ProtectionS

Reinvest in the troubled financial markets … to stabilize our economy and insulate Main Street from Wall Street

Reimburse the taxpayer … requiring a plan to guarantee they will be repaid in full

Reform how business is done on Wall Street … no golden parachutes and sweeping Congressional oversight

CRITICAL IMPROVEMENTS TO THE RESCUE PLAN

Democrats have insisted from day one on substantial changes to make the Bush-Paulson plan acceptable — protecting American taxpayers and Main Street — and these elements are included in the draft legislation under consideration.

Protection for taxpayers, REQUIRING A PLAN TO BE REPAID IN FULL

§ Requiring Congressional review after the first $350 billion is disbursed

§ Gives taxpayers a share of the profits of participating companies, or puts taxpayers first in line to recover assets if a company fails

§ Requires a President five years from now to submit a plan to ensure taxpayers are repaid in full, with Wall Street making up any difference

§ Allows the government to also purchase troubled assets from pension plans, local governments, and small banks that serve low- and middle-income families

Limits on excessive compensation
for CEOs and executives

§ For companies publicly auctioning over $300 million:

No multimillion dollar golden parachutes for top 5 executives after auction

No tax deduction for executive compensation over $500,000

Penalizes golden parachutes for CEOs who are fired or have run the company into the ground

§ For companies from which the government makes direct purchases:

No multi-million dollar golden parachutes

Limits CEO compensation that encourages unnecessary risk-taking

Recovers bonuses paid to executives who promise gains that later turn out to be false or inaccurate

Strong independent oversight and transparency

§ Four separate independent oversight entities or processes to protect the taxpayer

A strong oversight board appointed by bipartisan leaders of Congress

GAO oversight and audits at Treasury to ensure strong controls; to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse

An independent Inspector General to monitor the Treasury Secretary’s decisions

Transparency—requiring posting of transactions online—to help jump-start private sector demand

§ Meaningful judicial review of the Treasury secretary’s actions

Help to prevent home foreclosures
crippling the American economy

§ The government can work with loan servicers to change the terms of mortgages (reduce principal or interest rate, lengthen time to pay back the mortgage) to reduce the 2 million projected foreclosures in the next year

§ Extends provision (enacted earlier in this Congress) to stop tax liability on mortgage foreclosures

§ Helps save small businesses that need credit by aiding small community banks hurt by the mortgage crisis — allowing these banks to deduct losses from investments in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stocks

Office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi – September 28, 2008

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Readers' Comments:

THE RICH MUST PAY FOR THEIR OWN BAILOUT. They may have to live in 5 houses instead of 7. They may have to drive 9 cars instead of 13. The chef for their mini-terriers may have to be reassigned. But there is no way in hell, after forcing family incomes to go down more than $2,000 dollars during the Bush years, that working people and the middle class are going to fork over one dime to underwrite the next yacht purchase.
from: Jason carney on: 10-02-2008

Thank you for the Neo Con vote against the American people.
from: V on: 10-02-2008

Olver will only do what he needs to do to maintain power. Once again Pelosi says jump and Olver (slumping over as he is backbone challenged0 whimpers "how high."

Thanks Olver for selling us out once again.

I sure hope your committee chairmanship was worth it.
from: jl on: 10-01-2008

Yes inaction at this point, might bring some hard times. It will affect everyone to a certain degree. But a massive bailout will only hyperinflate our “dollar” and makes it much more useless than it already is. As for reimbursement, remember when they told us that the tolls on the pike would stop when the road was paid for? Its hard to believe that any kind of really money would come back to the taxpayer. Like I said before, Olver, you've lost my vote.
from: Scott M. Robert on: 10-01-2008

olver, you're a tax grubbin' creep!
from: johson on: 10-01-2008

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"Olver supports bailout bill — 'over a barrel'"
By Jack Dew, Berkshire Eagle Staff, October 03, 2008

Rep. John W. Olver saw a looming economic disaster that called for immediate — if imperfect — federal intervention, he said this afternoon.

Olver, who represents the state's vast 1st Congressional District, joined 262 members of the House to pass a massive bailout designed to thaw the frozen credit market. The $700 billion proposal cleared the Senate on Wednesday. It will use federal dollars to buy troubled assets from banks and financial institutions.

"Nobody, I think, is confident that this is the end of it," Olver said in a telephone interview shortly after today's vote. "But you had to do something quickly, and this was the proposal that was there. So we worked with trying to change the (Bush) proposal and make it better. If we had several months to work on it, we would have held hearings and considered the issues, but we are over a barrel — and the country is over a barrel — because we are heading into a recession."

The price of inaction would have been too great, he said. Banks have failed, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were narrowly saved from collapse, and the country shed 159,000 jobs in September — the largest number in five years. If Congress didn't act, the recession could quickly have turned worse.

The credit market has frozen, he said. Banks are afraid to lend to each other, unsure of who is holding massive amounts of bad debt. That reluctance is spreading, with banks cutting credit to businesses, and would soon have spread to consumers, Olver said, with personal loans and mortgages harder and harder to get.

"It is disgusting what has happened and economically we are in deep trouble," he said. "Every man, woman and child in the country depends on the health of the lending markets."

Olver said the revised bill includes strong, overlapping oversight, sharing responsibility among the House, the Senate and the Government Accountability Office. He promised that they will scrutinize every transaction: "All of these people will be competing with each other. None will do nothing."

But Olver said he was disappointed that a Democratic proposal to allow bankruptcy courts to rewrite troubled mortgages failed, blocked by Republicans in the House and Senate. And he vowed to follow through and create firm new regulations to govern the financial sector.

"We will certainly be back here next year doing proper regulation," he said. "We cannot allow this to happen again."
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To reach Jack Dew: jdew@berkshireeagle.com (413) 496-6241
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"Olver: Intervention was needed"
By Jack Dew, Berkshire Eagle Staff, Saturday, October 04, 2008

U.S. Rep. John W. Olver saw a looming economic disaster that called for immediate— if imperfect— federal intervention, he said yesterday.

Olver, who represents the state's vast 1st Congressional District, joined 262 members of the House to pass a massive bailout designed to thaw the frozen credit market. The $700 billion proposal cleared the Senate on Wednesday. It will use federal dollars to buy troubled assets from banks and financial institutions.

"Nobody, I think, is confident that this is the end of it," Olver said in a telephone interview after yesterday's vote. "But you had to do something quickly, and this was the proposal that was there. So we worked with trying to change the (Bush) proposal and make it better.

"If we had several months to work on it, we would have held hearings and considered the issues, but we are over a barrel— and the country is over a barrel — because we are heading into a recession."

The price of inaction would have been too great, he said. Banks have failed, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were narrowly saved from collapse, and the country shed 159,000 jobs in September — the largest number in five years. If Congress didn't act, the recession could quickly have turned worse.

The credit market has frozen, he said. Banks are afraid to lend to each other, unsure of who is holding massive amounts of bad debt.

That reluctance is spreading, with banks cutting credit to businesses, and would soon have spread to consumers, Olver said, with personal loans and mortgages harder and harder to get.

"It is disgusting what has happened and economically we are in deep trouble," he said. "Every man, woman and child in the country depends on the health of the lending markets." Olver said the revised bill includes strong, overlapping oversight, sharing responsibility among the House, the Senate and the Government Accountability Office. He promised that they will scrutinize every transaction: "All of these people will be competing with each other. None will do nothing."

But Olver said he was disappointed that a Democratic proposal to allow bankruptcy courts to rewrite troubled mortgages failed, blocked by Republicans in the House and Senate. And he vowed to follow through and create firm new regulations to govern the financial sector.

"We will certainly be back here next year doing proper regulation," he said. "We cannot allow this to happen again."
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To reach Jack Dew: jdew@berkshireeagle.com; (413) 496-6241.
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U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, right, responds during a radio debate yesterday in Pittsfield. as his Republican challenger, Nathan Bech, R-West Springfield, looks on. During the hourlong exchange, the two staked out largely familiar positions that were closely aligned with their party. (Darren Vanden Berge / Berkshire Eagle Staff).
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"Election 2008: Making their cases: Olver, Bech begin battle with face-off on airwaves", By Jack Dew, Berkshire Eagle Staff, Wednesday, October 15, 2008

PITTSFIELD — The race for the 1st Congressional District began in earnest yesterday, with incumbent U.S. Rep. John W. Olver facing challenger Nathan A. Bech in their first of three debates.

During the hour-long exchange sponsored by the Berkshire News Network radio stations, the two staked out largely familiar positions that were closely aligned with their parties.

Olver, 72, an Amherst Democrat seeking his ninth term in office, rejected calls for expanded oil drilling in environmentally sensitive areas, defended his vote for the $700 billion bailout, and decried eight years of the Bush presidency that has entangled the country in war, doubled the national debt, and seen the near-collapse of the financial system.

Bech, 34, a West Springfield Republican and veteran of the Iraq war, is making his first run for office. He said the country needs to achieve energy independence through increased oil drilling, nuclear power and development of alternative technologies. He said he opposes the bailout, just as he opposes federal "hand-outs" to individuals that create a "whole generation of people living off the dole."

The two are competing for the sprawling 1st district, which spans all of Berkshire and Franklin counties and includes pieces of Hampden, Hampshire, Worcester and Middlesex counties.

Agents of change?

As the presidential candidates have done on the national stage, Olver and Bech portrayed themselves as agents for change throughout the debate, answering a half-dozen questions from Berkshire News Network Director Larry Kratka, Tom Conklin of WBEC and Jessica Michalski of WSBS.

On the bailout, Olver said the Congress was faced with a do-or-die proposition, forced to work with the legislation crafted by the Bush administration to avert economic disaster.

"It was necessary. The consequences of not voting for it would have been far worse than voting for the bill," he said, though "none of us know how well it is going to work."

But the original proposal from the Bush administration was a "complete blank check" that the Democratic-controlled House and Senate reined in. They added vigorous oversight and created protections for taxpayers, with the possibility that the government could earn some of the money back through equity stakes in the financial institutions it is bailing out, Olver said.

Bech said he would have opposed the bailout, which was saddled with $150 billion worth of needless earmarks.

"It's so typical of what the federal government does," Bech said. "It says, 'As long as we are throwing money around, let's throw a whole bunch more money around. What's the difference, anyway?'"

A bill that "is so crucial to saving our economy should not be so loaded down with pork," Bech added. He said there were alternatives that would have boosted the market without spending federal funds, such as guaranteeing troubled loans to inspire market confidence.

Asked how to combat homelessness in Western Massachusetts, Olver pointed to programs like Soldier On, a Pittsfield facility that houses and counsels homeless veterans and is working to create an apartment complex where residents can build equity by paying rent and then sell their shares back to the organization, using the savings to buy a home of their own.

"We are putting quite a bit of money into the homeless programs, but it has not ever been possible to get everyone who is homeless out of that condition," Olver said. "You need to have jobs," but the current economic crisis likely means there will be more homeless people — not fewer — as we hit the winter months, he added, and we may need more federal aid to fight it.

Bech said Olver's priorities were wrong: "He mentioned jobs, but he focused on money coming from the federal government to provide for homeless people. What people need is for people to be able to provide for themselves. What people need is jobs, and a policy where you have taxes that are too high and an unfriendly environment for businesses creates a situation where people go without work, without jobs and then will be without hope."

He said the government should cut corporate taxes to foster a better business environment and should not rely on federal "hand outs" that create "a whole generation of people living off the dole and learning to live off the dole instead of learning about the value of hard work."

With winter looming and heating costs skyrocketing, the candidates were asked whether the federal government should assist with heating bills.

Bech said the government needs to pursue a comprehensive energy plan. He called for increased domestic oil drilling to "use our own resources to get the cost of fuel down ... so we can afford to heat our homes without assistance from the government," though he added that "of course no one is going to sit back and allow people to freeze in their homes this winter. As long as we have this situation where people can't afford to heat their homes, then we need ... to do what we have to do."

Two more debates

Olver said Congress has doubled the amount of heating assistance available this winter.

"But it is not probably enough," even with heating costs dropping in recent days, because "there are a lot of people who haven't used this program because they want to be self sufficient." If they seek help this winter, the funds will run dry, and he expects Congress to revisit the issue in a lame-duck session in December or when it convenes next year.

Bech and Olver are scheduled to debate twice more before the Nov. 4 election: On Friday, they will record a debate with WGBY television in Springfield; on Oct. 22, they will appear at Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner at 7 p.m.
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www.iberkshires.com/story/28649/News-Notes-Olver-Bech-Debate-on-Radio.html
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The Worcester Telegram & Gazette News (Online)
"The Tao of debate: Study hard to appear spontaneous"
By Karen Nugent, STAFF, Worcester TELEGRAM & GAZETTE News, Wednesday, October 15, 2008

If we’re lucky, we do get to hear a candidate address a question.

Lincoln-Douglas they’re not.

Although the illustrious debates in 1858 between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas are considered the roots of today’s political debates, the style and format have changed.

For one thing, even today’s political junkies probably could not sit through a series of 90-minute opening statements, followed by 60-minute responses from the opponent, and then 30-minute rebuttals from the first speaker.

Fern L. Johnson, an English professor and sociolinguist at Clark University in Worcester, wouldn’t even use the word debate to describe our current political forums.

“Over the decades, they’ve evolved into something else,” she said. “The candidates rarely stay on the same issue, and if they do answer a question, they try to change the topic. They’re quite pre-scripted — if we’re lucky, we do get to hear a candidate address a question.”

The final presidential debate tonight (9 p.m.) between Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama undoubtedly has a 30-plus page contract, Ms. Johnson said, setting parameters on everything from how far apart the two candidates will stand, to how high the podiums are, to how the moderator will pose questions.

“There’s no room for spontaneity,” she said.

The same is somewhat true for local candidates.

Reed V. Hillman, the 2006 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, said he was coached by a team of Republican consultants on how to stay conversant in all pertinent issues, and how to reroute a question back to his own message — a debate move called “the pivot.”

Mr. Hillman and gubernatorial candidate Kerry Healey lost to Deval L. Patrick and Timothy P. Murray that year. Mr. Hillman said he took part in rehearsals with mock stand-ins for Mr. Murray. The fake opponent would go on the attack and fire questions at him, Mr. Hillman said. On top of that, his actual debates were videotaped and gone over by the consultants with a fine-tooth comb before the next event.

“That’s always painful,” he said with a chuckle.

“Evade and pivot, that’s the method,” Mr. Hillman said. “I’ve always had good study skills, but there is a ton of material — it puts you back on your heels. You get down to a half-dozen bullet points, and you learn to get the message out.”

As former head of the state police, and a trooper for years, Mr. Hillman said that with his law enforcement background, it was difficult for him to evade or spin questions.

“I’m used to testifying in court — to tell the truth and nothing but the truth — with direct responses. I’m not used to not telling the truth — it just doesn’t come natural to me. Which is why I’m probably never running for statewide office again,” he said.

Mr. Murray said his approach is less regimented.

His top campaign team members, he said, research a range of pertinent topics. They decide which questions could come up, and which themes to emphasize.

There are no formal rehearsals at a podium, he said.

“We take an hour, shut the door, and sit around a table asking and answering the questions,” Mr. Murray said yesterday.

He pointed out that candidates have to be aware of time limits on responses, and learn to stay in that time frame.

“There are certain things you need to anticipate and be able to rebut, so you have to make sure you’re prepared with some facts and figures. But you can’t fully anticipate everything,” Mr. Murray said.

U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Pittsfield, has a methodical way of preparing for speeches and debates.

His Washington, D.C., staff prepares summaries of pertinent congressional topics and actions, such as on housing, the environment, education, and, lately, oil and gas prices.

“I usually end up taking longer summaries and reducing them to 3-by-5 cards. Then I try to get the important kernels of those arranged in a logical and orderly way,” he said. “I highlight certain simple words to focus on in my mind — things that need to be said. I often do this by repetition, and then I might rewrite it again, and then come back and read through it at a later date,” Mr. Olver said.

State Rep. Harold P. Naughton Jr., D-Clinton, said he tries to keep things simple, concentrating on two to four central themes.

Mr. Naughton, a seven-term incumbent who last month defeated challenger Stephen J. Kerrigan of Lancaster in the Democratic primary for the 12th Worcester District seat, described the campaign as similar to a sparring match.

“You go so quickly through these sessions, with everything jammed in your mind. You’re forced to keep sending your message, and I try to keep in mind the past successes I’ve had,” he said.

Mr. Naughton, who does not rehearse, said he sees his mind as a filing cabinet of different campaign topics such as public safety, the environment, and past accomplishments.

“I always have a set of facts in my mind — maybe that’s because I’m a trial attorney — and then I dovetail into what the previous speaker said,” he said.

Ms. Johnson, the Clark professor, said there are two common methods of debate preparation: memorizing scripted statements, and rehearsing with stand-ins for opponents.

Daniel S. Cence, a Boston-based Democratic consultant, recently worked with state Rep. Jennifer L. Flanagan, D-Leominster, on her successful state Senate campaign.

He said both methods were used.

A “pivot sheet” with a list of common topics such as public safety, health care, education, and energy, was prepared, using one- or two-word phrases that would provoke a formulaic, almost Pavlov-like response in Ms. Flanagan.

Her opponent, former state representative Brian Knuuttila, a lawyer and former police officer, often promoted his record on public safety.

Whenever Ms. Flanagan heard the words “public safety,” Mr. Cence said, she would list her endorsements from the district attorney, the sheriff’s department, and other law enforcement agencies.

“We had a response for every topic, and when you say it so much, it comes out sounding natural,” he said.

They also did rehearsals with stand-ins for Mr. Knuuttila, and tried to learn everything possible ahead of the debate. “You deal with everything you know,” Mr. Cence said. “The more prepared they are, the more competent they look.”

He compared the week leading up to a debate to a football team getting ready for game day, with scheduled practice and rehearsal days.

Mr. Naughton generally begins and ends his speeches and debates with a funny story or a joke — a technique he learned from his late father, who was an extremely popular character in Clinton.

Sometimes, these stories are thought up as he is driving up to the debate, Mr. Naughton said, and occasionally, he is grasping to come up with something.

“You try to be self-deprecating. That puts people at ease, and lets them know you’re at ease,” he said.
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Contact Karen Nugent at knugent@telegram.com.
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(Photo)
Timothy P. Murray, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, left, and Reed V. Hillman, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, are shown with producer Maggie McGrath at their October debate during the 2006 Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign. Each prepared in different ways. (THE BOSTON GLOBE)
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(Photo)
Fern L. Johnson, CLARK UNIVERSITY
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www.telegram.com/article/20081015/NEWS/810150565/1116
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"John W Olver for Congress"
The Berkshire Eagle - Editorial, Saturday, October 25, 2008

Since 1991, U.S. Representative John Olver has been a staunch advocate for the Berkshires who has consistently voted wisely on matters of national import, including votes against dangerous tax cuts and hazardous foreign wars. He has earned re-election to another term as First District congressman.

The only member of the Massachusetts delegation to the House to serve on the influential Appropriations Committee, Representative Olver has won federal grants that have boosted the Berkshires' struggling economy. Pittsfield's Colonial Theatre and the Beacon Theatre now under construction on North Street in Pittsfield received critical funding through the efforts of the congressman, and the city Streetscape project and the Berkshires' growing Ashuwillticook Rail Trail also benefited from funding generated by Mr. Olver.

If the Democratic Party retains control of the House, as expected, Mr. Olver will continue to wield that influence. His Republican opponent, Nathan Bech, would if elected move to the back bench, causing the First District to lose pull it can ill afford to sacrifice.

Mr. Bech has relied too heavily on generic stands from the party playbook in the campaign and hasn't demonstrated knowledge of the specific strengths and weaknesses of the Berkshires. That said, Mr. Bech, who served the nation in Iraq and Afghanistan, has run a spirited campaign against a formidable incumbent. The 33-year-old from West Springfield could play a role in rebuilding the state Republican Party, and we urge him to build his résumé through government at the local level.

Based on accomplishments in office as well as his current stature in the House, The Eagle endorses John Olver for another term as First District representative.

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"Rep. Olver is part of the problem"
The Berkshire Eagle - Letters, Monday, November 03, 2008

As they watch their retirement nest eggs disappear, most Eagle readers are cheering the exit of George Bush, who they blame for many ills the country is experiencing. Most will take their wrath out on the president and his party by voting against John McCain.

In the spirit of bipartisan vengeance voters might consider casting out Rep. John Olver too. This member of a Congress whose pitiful approval numbers are worse than George Bush's voted with the other inside the Beltway politicians (McCain and Obama included) to stick it to the taxpayers with a $700 billion bailout. Olver's radio campaign ads begin with an obligatory attack on McCain, Bush and greedy Wall Street, but in reality Olver was on board with McCain, Obama and Bush when he voted for the bailout of those same Wall Street types he attacks in his ad. So far this bailout has done nothing but encourage others such as the auto industry to demand similar government largesse and lead to even more stock market carnage as the bankers hoard the free cash.

As our 401ks are halved, Olver wants us to rehire him after he sat by mutely at the congressional crime scene when Barney Frank, Chris Dodd and their Democratic accomplices killed in committee attempts in 2003 and 2005 to bring corrupt Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae back to reality with real world lending constraints and higher capital requirements. As our representative, wasn't he supposed to be watching out for our interests even if it meant bucking his own party?

You never read about the mismanagement of Freddie and Fannie in mainstream newspapers like the Eagle, because the facts would have embarrassed Democrats. But the ugly facts are there, you could look it up in the Congressional Record. Isn't it time to show Olver that he can't just take the votes of his constituents for granted?

Do you think Fannie and Freddie were mismanaged and corrupt? Do you think the bailout was highway robbery, with Congress driving the getaway car for Wall Street and the media laying down covering fire? If so, vote for some real change and show some independence. In the spirit of bi-partisanship and sending a message to the political elites, isn't it time for Congressman Olver to say goodbye?

CHRIS GREGOR
New Marlborough, Massachusetts

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Vote on November 4, 2008 - John Olver's Western Massachusetts Legislative District

www.iberkshires.com/story/28847/Voters-to-Decide-Ballot-Questions-Elect-President.html

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"Olver easily retains 1st District seat"
By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff, Wednesday, November 05, 2008

PITTSFIELD — Incumbent U.S. Rep. John W. Olver was elected to his ninth term in the 1st Congressional District last night, easily defeating Iraq War veteran Nathan A. Bech.

The 72-year-old Amherst Democrat, who took over for the late Rep. Silvio O. Conte of Pittsfield in 1991, defeated his Republican challenger from West Springfield by a large margin. With 47 percent of the precincts reporting last night, Olver led Bech 73 percent to 27 percent. This was the 34-year-old Bech's first attempt at elected office.

In Pittsfield, Olver received 16,345 votes to Bech's 3,812, according to unofficial results.

According to Olver's campaign manager Debra Guachione, Bech called Olver to congratulate him a little more than an hour after the polls closed at 8 p.m.

In a telephone interview last night, Bech said he thought the race could have been closer, but said the money Olver raised to spend on advertising made the difference.

"I just can't compete with all the TV ads he did," Bech said. "I campaigned across the district, but this was a reality check. It comes down to money."

The 1st Congressional District is the state's largest geographically, with 110 cities and towns located in six counties.

"I'm honored to be chosen to be the Representative from the First Congressional District in the 111th Congress," Olver said in a written statement.

"I am also very excited about the prospects for the 111th Congress. If Barack Obama does win the White House, and the numbers so far look good, we have an historic opportunity to take the country in a new direction."

Olver is the state's sole representative on the House Appropriations Committee.

During a debate in Pittsfield last month, Olver and Bech staked out largely familiar positions that were closely aligned with their parties.

Olver rejected calls for expanded oil drilling in environmentally sensitive areas, defended his vote for the $700 billion bailout, and decried eight year of the Bush presidency which threatened the nation's security, doubled the national debt, and crippled the financial system.

Bech said the country needs to achieve energy independence, and was opposed to the bailout.

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"Fiber optic project will help broadband"
By Scott Stafford, Berkshire Eagle Staff, Monday, November 10, 2008

A new highway fiber optic installation project in Central Massachusetts will contribute to the eventual spread of broadband connectivity into rural western regions of the commonwealth.

The $30.7 million project, dubbed the Intelligent Transportation System, includes installation of fiber optic cable backbone over 58 miles of I-91 and I-291 with 17 variable message signs and 33 closed-circuit television cameras. Through the new roadway broadband information system, the Traffic Operations Center at the Northampton District 2 office will be upgraded and directly linked to the MassHighway Traffic Operations Center in Boston.

"This has potential to reach out beyond what it does technologically for the roadway system there," said Klark Jessen, director of communications for the Executive Office of Transportation.

"It does have some additional fiber lines that could be used for other purposes, including enabling broadband access.

"It's like creating a web that reaches into areas where it is not currently available. It's a step forward for all areas that are still needing better access to broadband service."

This project itself is specifically focused on the I-91 291 corridor, he said.

The purpose of the ITS installation is to provide transportation officials with immediate visual access to what is happening on the roads, the ability to dispatch emergency personnel to deal with accidents or weather incidents, and the ability to inform drivers that they may be approaching trouble spots.

U.S. Rep. John W. Olver helped raise $8.1 million in federal interstate maintenance and safety funds for the project.

State transportation improvement funds support the balance of the cost.

"With Gov. Patrick's help, we are making major inroads in bringing broadband to previously unserved central and western Massachusetts communities," Olver said.

"This public investment will not only make I-91 a safer and less congested highway, it will also provide a huge boost to the communities along it. From small businesses to first responders to schools the benefits will be immense."

The system will focus on roadway management, traffic operations, and eventually homeland security.

Six conduit runs will be installed with two dedicated to MassHighway along with four additional runs that will be a catalyst for economic development by enabling broadband access in Western Massachusetts.

The potential for broadband access supports Gov. Patrick's priority of expanding broadband access in Western Massachusetts, Jessen noted.

In August, Patrick signed legislation providing $40 million in bonds from the Broadband Incentive Fund to build wireless fiber towers and other infrastructure over three years. The legislation also calls on the state to make intelligent use of its own assets for broadband, and the I-91 project illustrates use of existing state assets for broadband deployment.

Construction begins this fall, with completion expected in 2010.
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To reach Scott Stafford: sstafford@berkshireeagle.com; (413) 664-4995.
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"Top aide to president-elect Barack Obama to address Massachusetts Democratic convention delegates"
By DAN RING, dring@repub.com, by The Republican Newsroom, Monday December 22, 2008

BOSTON - A top aide for President-elect Barack H. Obama will be the keynote speaker during the state Democratic party's convention in Springfield next year.

David A. Plouffe, campaign manager for Obama, will speak during the convention, which will be held June 5 and 6 at the MassMutual Center, according to John E. Walsh, chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party.

David A. Plouffe is no stranger to Western Massachusetts. Plouffe managed the successful 1992 campaign for U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst.

Next year's gathering will be an issues convention, but it will also be the year prior to an important state election. That means many potential 2010 candidates for statewide office will be maneuvering for support in Springfield.

Gov. Deval L. Patrick, who said he is running for re-election in 2010, will also address delegates, Walsh said.

"He is absolutely running for re-election," Walsh said. "I'm willing to personally guarantee it."

Delegates to the convention will approve the state party's platform. About 3,000 to 4,000 delegates are expected to attend, said E. Henry Twiggs, chairman of the Springfield Democratic City Committee.

Twiggs said he and other Western Massachusetts Democrats campaigned heavily to make Springfield the site of next year's conclave. Twiggs will serve on the host committee for the convention.

"We're just very happy," Twiggs said on Monday. "It will bring in extra dollars the city can use."

Springfield last hosted a political convention in 2001, also an issues convention for the Democrats. The University of Massachusetts at Amherst was the site of a similar convention last year.

Springfield lost a bid to host the Democratic nominating convention in 2006.

In 2005, Worcester was chosen as the site for the 2006 convention, partly because the MassMutual Center was in the final stages of a massive overhaul.

At the time of the decision, the MassMutual Center was still undergoing a $71 million upgrade, which included construction of a convention center.
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"Wishes for Chartock, Olver"
The Berkshire Eagle Online - Letters, Saturday, January 03, 2009

On behalf of the 8,647 voters who voted against John Olver in the primary and the more then 80,000 voters who voted against John Olver in the general election I, like Alan Chartock, have a few New Years wishes of my own.

Chartock has stated that it is his wish that "U.S. Rep. John W. Olver will receive an official apology from a small group that tried to kick him out of office for no good reason." I, on the other hand, wish that Chartock might enroll in a remedial statistics and remedial U.S. political theory course to understand that 20 percent and 25 percent of voters in a primary and general election are not just a small group bent on political anarchy but are a statistically and democratically significant sign that Olver and his apologists have some bridge building to do before they can demand apologies from those believers in democracy who dared to take part in the elections process as set forth in the U.S. and state constitutions.

Perhaps Chartock, who claims to know better then us, would prefer that we just vote for the candidates that he supports and never try to utilize our legal and democratic elections system to make a change for the better.

I also wish that Chartock would stop complaining about the damage that the current administration has done to democracy and would instead put forth a better solution then the one we choose in running against a politician unwilling to support his constituencies in the major issues of the day, such as holding governmental officials accountable for their illegal activities.

I also wish that in the New Year that Olver would follow the wishes of many of his constituents and his own beliefs and put our needs in Massachusetts above his own career needs to maintain a place of power as a party politician in Washington D.C.

To all I wish you a happy New Year and a better 2009.

JOHN LIPPMANN
Stockbridge, Massachusetts

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"Passing the bucks: Congress gets hefty raise while economy suffers"
By Hillary Chabot, Sunday, January 4, 2009, www.bostonherald.com, U.S. Politics

As Bay State residents grapple with layoffs and salary cuts, Massachusetts’ 12-member congressional delegation is digging into a whopping $4,700 salary boost that went into effect Thursday.

Six of the 12 delegation members told the Herald they’d accepted the automatic increase, which will hike their pay to $174,000, a roughly 2.8 percent raise, when Congress convenes Tuesday.

The other six did not respond to repeated inquiries by phone over the past week, but none has announced any plan to forgo the hike.

“Right now the vast majority of the public is just happy to have a job,” said Steve Ellis, vice president of fiscal watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense. “One of the first actions Congress should take is show some shared sacrifice and put off a pay raise until the unemployment numbers are better.”

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Newton) admitted to feeling guilty about the raise at a time when many Massachusetts residents are struggling to make ends meet.

“In the current situation we’re in we shouldn’t be doing this. We should vote not to do one next year,” said Frank. He said he plans to put forward a resolution this year to block the 2010 raise but declined to offer details.

The unemployment rate in Massachusetts jumped up to 5.9 percent in November, the highest it’s been since 2003. The rate is still better than the national rate, which was 6.7 percent in November.

Nearly 20 years ago, Congress made an annual cost-of-living pay increase automatic unless lawmakers voted to do otherwise.

Frank joined two other legislators who told the Herald they would give their pay hike to charity. Both Sen. John F. Kerry and Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell) said they will donate their increases, and Tsongas said she’d vote against the hike.

“It is unclear whether the House will have the opportunity to vote to suspend this year’s scheduled increase; however, during these very challenging economic times, I will vote against a pay increase given the opportunity,” Tsongas said in a statement.

“If the scheduled increase does go through, I will not take it, and I plan to donate the pay raise to a scholarship fund administered by the Greater Lowell Community Foundation.”

While the gesture is noble, the charity donation still boosts lawmakers’ pensions in the long run and ensures further percentage-based raises are calculated on the higher salary, said Ellis.

“It’s a win-win-win,” said Ellis. “They get a tax benefit, they get a public relations boost for giving money to charity and they still get the benefit to their pension.”

U.S. Representatives Richard E. Neal (D-Springfield) and Michael E. Capuano (D-Somerville) said they would take the raise, while U.S. Representatives John F. Tierney (D-Salem), John W. Olver (D-Amherst), William D. Delahunt (D-Quincy), Stephen F. Lynch (D-Boston), Edward J. Markey (D-Medford) and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy did not respond to Herald inquiries about the pay hike.

Taking the high salary comes at a dangerous time - only one out of five Americans thinks Congress is doing a good job, and 2008 saw unpopular fiascos like the federal bailout plan for Wall Street.

“It’s a very powerful symbol to the American people and it shows that members of Congress are not in this with everyone else,” said vice president of the National Taxpayers Union Pete Sepp. “They’ve protected themselves from the economic downturn.”

The last time the 535 representatives and senators turned down a pay raise was in 2007, when Congress declined the raise because it hadn’t yet approved an increase in the minimum wage. Members accepted a 2.5 increase in 2008.

Mary Boyle, spokeswoman for the watchdog group Common Cause, defended the raises, saying public service needs to remain competitive to maintain talent.

“The reality is we need to attract good, qualified, educated, experienced people to be in Congress,” Boyle said. “Many of these people could be making much more in the private sector.”
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Article URL: www.bostonherald.com/news/us_politics/view.bg?articleid=1142990
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U.S. Rep. Latham: Named "Ranking Republican" on influential committee
1/8/2009, iowapolitics.com, Contact: James Carstensen, 202-225-5476 · More Info: TomLatham.house.gov

Washington, DC – After twelve years of service and leadership on the United States House Appropriations Committee, including positions on the Agriculture, Homeland Security, Energy and Water, Commerce/ Justice/State, Financial Services and Legislative Branch Subcommittees, Iowa Congressman Tom Latham was named the top or “ranking” Republican on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and related agencies (THUD). Latham is one of only twelve Republicans on the full Committee who have earned such a position on the influential Committee.

“I am honored by this vote of confidence by the members of my conference to serve in this leadership position in the House of Representatives,” said Latham about the position which increases the profile and clout for the people of the State of Iowa and the Iowa Delegation in the United States Congress.

The THUD subcommittee has jurisdiction of funding the Department of Transportation, including the Federal Aviation, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, Federal Railroad Administration and Amtrak and related programs of each agency. The Subcommittee also is responsible for funding the annual budgets of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Latham pledged a strong willingness to work in a bipartisan fashion with his Democrat counterpart, Chairman John W. Olver (D-MA), on the broad range of important issues that fall under the subcommittee’s jurisdiction.

In addition to this new leadership role, Congressman Latham will continue to serve on the subcommittees on Agriculture and which have funding jurisdiction over a number of essential programs that affect Iowa.

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"Bill to benefit Western Mass wilderness trails advances"
by The (Springfield) Republican Newsroom, Sunday January 11, 2009, 11:44 P.M.
By MATTHEW DALY, Associated Press

WASHINGTON - In a rare Sunday session, the U.S. Senate advanced legislation that would set aside more than 2 million acres in nine states as wilderness, including a 190-mile local trail network which runs through Western Massachusetts.

Majority Democrats assembled more than enough votes to overcome GOP stalling tactics in an early showdown for the new Congress. Republicans complained that Democrats did not allow amendments on the massive bill, which calls for the largest expansion of wilderness protection in 25 years.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and other Democrats said the bill - a holdover from last year - was carefully written and included measures sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats.

Locally, the bill will protect the Monadnock, Metacomet and Mattabessett Trail System and designate it the New England National Scenic Trail. U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, has long been a champion of preserving the trail, which runs from Long Island Sound to Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire.

The U.S. House of Represenatatives voted to preserve the trail network last January. At the time, Olver praised the vote as landmark decicions. "This vote is a major milestone and is nearly a decade in the making," Olver said Jan. 30, 2008.

Olver and his press secretary could not be reached for comment Sunday on the U.S. Senate's vote.

By a 66-12 vote, with only 59 needed to limit debate, the U.S. Senate agreed to clear away procedural hurdles despite partisan wrangling that had threatened pledges by leaders to work cooperatively as President-elect Barack H. Obama takes office. Senate approval is expected later this week. Supporters hope the House will follow suit.

"Today is a great day for America's public lands," said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. "This big, bipartisan package of bills represents years of work by senators from many states, and both parties, in cooperation with local communities, to enhance places that make America so special."

The measure - actually a collection of about 160 bills - would confer the government's highest level of protection on land ranging from California's Sierra Nevada mountain range to Oregon's Mount Hood, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and parts of the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia. Land in Idaho's Owyhee canyons, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan and Zion National Park in Utah also would be designated as wilderness.

Besides new wilderness designations, the bill would designate the childhood home of former President Bill Clinton in Hope, Ark., as a national historic site and expand protections for dozens of national parks, rivers and water resources.
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Reporter Ken Ross contributed to this story.
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"Democrats urge minimum tax relief"

By Andrew Taylor, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, Worcester Telegram & Gazette Online, telegram.com, January 15, 2009

WASHINGTON — Barack Obama’s economic recovery bill has grown to $850 billion after negotiations with his Democratic allies in Congress, who have rewritten some of the president-elect’s tax proposals and may drive the price tag even higher.

For starters, Capitol Hill Democrats are trying to use the economic recovery bill to extend a tax cut for middle- to upper-income taxpayers, despite concerns from Obama’s transition team that it won’t boost the economy.

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said lawmakers in both the House and Senate feel strongly about using Obama’s stimulus package to make the annual fix to the alternative minimum tax to prevent more than 20 million additional tax filers from having to pay it.

Making that fix for one year alone would cost about $70 billion, a healthy chunk out of the approximately $300 billion that Obama has set aside for tax cuts in the soon-to-emerge $850 billion stimulus plan.

Rangel said other tax provisions would have to take a “haircut” to pay for dealing with the alternative minimum tax. A $3,000 job-creation tax credit, which drew strong objections as unworkable, appears likely to be jettisoned, Rangel said.

Also threatened is a pro-business provision, proposed by Obama, that would allow companies posting losses last year to get refunds for taxes paid as far back as five years earlier.

The AMT was designed in 1969 to make sure wealthy taxpayers pay at least some tax. But it never was indexed for inflation and therefore threatens to trap millions of people for whom it was never designed.

Obama’s economic team has resisted adding the AMT fix to the economic recovery bill, arguing privately that it won’t do much to help the economy. It’s virtually certain to be addressed later if left alone now.

The stimulus plan now would cost about $850 billion, with tax cuts in the range of $300 billion to $325 billion.

The largest components include $85 billion to $90 billion for cash-strapped states, to help pay for the Medicaid health care program for the poor and disabled. Another $80 billion or so would go into a block grant to states for education, which Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said would prevent cutbacks in school programs, layoffs and property tax increases.

There’s also about $25 billion to pay for subsidies to help laid-off workers hold onto their health insurance, $35 billion to extend unemployment benefits and a 15 percent increase in food stamp benefits costing $20 billion.

Infrastructure spending is set for a big increase. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, who chairs the panel funding transportation projects and public housing, said he had at least $55 billion on such projects.

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"Gladys Center receives a two-year grant"
By Jenn Smith, Berkshire Eagle Staff, Saturday, January 17, 2009

PITTSFIELD — The Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center will be stretching its arms wider and deeper into the county over the next couple of years.

The long-standing community organization and home to the local Girls Inc. program has received a federal two-year grant of $178,870, through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the efforts of U.S. Rep. John Olver's office.

Program Officer Christa Collier said getting the grant was a long process, beginning three years ago when Carol Bradwell, the center's former executive director, first began writing the grant.

According to current chief executive officer Kelly Baity, "We will have our largest expansion since our inception almost a century ago. While this is a great opportunity for us, it is an even greater opportunity for the children and youth who will participate in these programs from the north to the south (of Berkshire County) and everywhere in between."

This new grant will allow the agency to expand prevention-based services for at-risk youths beyond its East Street facility.

Collier said national estimates suggest that more than 7 million children in the United States are without adult supervision for some period of time after school, subjecting kids to engage in more risky behaviors.

Collier said the grant will allow the community center to partner with extracurricular programs that are already up and running.

"Instead of creating a new site ourselves, we thought it would be more beneficial to partner with existing sites," she said.

The agency served about 1,600 youths in the 2,200 people it served last year. With the new programs, Collier said the agency hopes to serve an additional 1,200 young people.

"It's nice that at a time when other things closing we are able to expand our mission," she said.

Current outreach partnerships include Kid Zone Incorporated Child Care Center in Pittsfield, Northern Berkshire YMCA in North Adams, Williamstown Youth Center, Youth Center Inc. in Adams, the Salvation Army in Pittsfield and after-school programs of the Pittsfield Public Schools.

"We're going to start working our way down into South County," said Collier.

The agency plans to provide delinquency prevention programming through literacy development, science-based programming, group work approaches in the fields of leadership and community service, pregnancy prevention, self-defense and violence prevention and economic literacy.

National Girls Inc. curricula and workshops will be offered and implemented where applicable.

The Brigham Center's LEAP for Youth (Literacy, Education, Arts and Progress) will also be part of the initiative in collaboration with Barrington Stage Company and the Berkshire Music School.

"This project will have significant impact on the youth in Berkshire County," said Outreach Director Marlena Willis, in a written statement.

"Using intervention and prevention based services and programs, staff will seek to provide children and youth with services that will increase their conflict resolution and life skills."
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For more information or to partner with the Brigham Community Center, contact Christa Collier or Marlena Willis at (413) 442-5174.
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www.topix.net/forum/source/berkshire-eagle/T1L4F1I04IJO5A25P
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"House to Take Up Bond-Related Stimulus Items Next Week"
Bond Buyer, By Audrey Dutton, January 23, 2009

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed yesterday that she will bring $358 billion of bond-related and other federal spending provisions to the House floor next week as part of the economic stimulus package.

The appropriations portion of the bill was approved by in the House Appropriations Committee late Wednesday by a vote of 35 to 22.

Pelosi said she expects the lower chamber of Congress to clear the full stimulus bill, which will also include tax provisions, by mid-February.

"We won't leave here [for the Presidents Day recess] without an economic recovery package," said the California Democrat.

The spending legislation contains $30 billion for highway and bridge construction, a combined $8 billion for clean and drinking water state revolving funds, and $3 billion for airport improvement project grants - all of which states can use to repay or supplement bonds.

The bill was amended by the appropriations committee late Wednesday to relax the deadlines by which states must obligate their stimulus funds.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee had pushed for a 90-day "use it or lose it" deadline on states and the Appropriations Committee initially proposed a 120-day deadline. But the committee ultimately approved an amendment sponsored by Rep. John W. Olver, D-Mass., chairman of the committee's transportation panel, that would give states six months instead of four months from the date they received stimulus funds to obligate half of that money for projects.

However, Olver was unable to replace the "use it or lose it" provision with one that would have provided bonuses or penalties for complying with, or failing to meet, the deadline.

The committee approved another amendment that would block Illinois from using any of the stimulus funding unless the state legislature approved the use of such funds or Gov. Rod Blagojevich was no longer in office. In addition, the panel voted for one amendment requiring laborers on stimulus projects to be paid the prevailing wage and another requiring that only U.S.-produced iron and steel be used for public works and construction projects funded with stimulus money.

Committee chairman Rep. Dave Obey, D-Wis., suggested during the markup session that even more stimulus spending may be proposed and that lawmakers probably will tinker with the bill's provisions in the near future.

"I don't know, frankly, that it will be adequate," he said. "There is a reasonable probability that this package is not big enough ... It may undershoot the mark, and we may need to make adjustments down the line."

The Senate Appropriations Committee is tentatively slated to vote on its own spending package on Tuesday. The committee's bill had not been released as of press time yesterday.
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www.financial-planning.com/asset/article/2660691/house-take-up-bond-related-stimulus-items.html?pg=
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www.financial-planning.com/asset/article-print/2660691/printPage.html
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Richard E. Neal, left, and John W. Olver
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"Tales of two war chests"
Posted by The Republican Newsroom, January 26, 2009

Of the 10 Democratic members of the U.S. House from Massachusetts, U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal of Springfield is quietly sitting on the second largest campaign chest. Neal, who had no opposition in last year's elections, has accumulated about $2.3 million in campaign cash, just behind U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Malden, who has $2.8 million. Neal's campaign cash on hand is well more than other colleagues such as U.S. Rep. Barney Frank of Newton, who has $327,000, or U.S. Rep. Michael E. Capuano of Somerville, with $1.1 million. The size of Neal's campaign account is sparking some to speculate that he might be interested in running for U.S. Senate if a seat opens. Neal's campaign cash could also come in handy in case the state loses a House seat in redistricting because of slow population growth over the past decade. If the state loses a seat, Neal could be forced to square off against another incumbent in the 2012 election, depending on how the congressional map is reconfigured.

"Congressman Neal is not interested in running for the United States Senate. He believes he can do more for the people of Western Massachusetts by continuing to serve on the House Ways and Means Committee. Fund-raising is a necessity in politics, and these donations are a display of support for the work he is doing in Congress," said William Tranghese, spokesperson for Neal, in response to C&W's query.

U.S. Rep. John W. Olver of Amherst, by the way, has $108,000 in campaign cash, tied with the lowest amount of the 10.

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"Olver Announces $1.53 Million For Berkshire County"
iBerkshires.com - February 27, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC. – Congressman John W. Olver (D-1st District) announced today that the fiscal year 2009 omnibus appropriations bill approved by Congress includes a little over $1.5 million in federal assistance for various projects in Berkshire County.

Congressman Olver is a member of the Appropriations Committee and Chairman of the Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee and worked to include the funding in the omnibus spending legislation. The omnibus represents nine out of eleven annual appropriations bills pulled together into one package. The bill will fund most of the federal government’s domestic activities in 2009.

The projects and their included dollar amounts are:

$300,000 for Shakespeare and Company’s Educational Programming to Assist At-Risk Students

Shakespeare & Company has developed one of the most extensive theatre-in-education programs in the northeast, offering year-round innovative performances and workshops in and after school. This federal support will enable Shakespeare and Company to sustain and expand its full range of education programming, strengthening ties with the school and local communities and extending the reach of its highly successful education and professional development philosophy and methodology.

Congressman John Olver said, “Shakespeare and Company’s programs provide numerous benefits for at-risk students. It is important that these young people have the opportunity to develop interests, have an outlet for expressing themselves and the ability to become part of a community. Shakespeare and Company provides these opportunities to many students throughout the Berkshires.”

For additional information, please contact: Kevin Coleman, Director of Education, 413-637-1199, kevincoleman@shakespeare.org.

$285,000 for Berkshire Museum Renovations & Enhancements

This funding will be used to update, renovate, and enhance the Berkshire Museum’s 104-year old facility. This will enable the Berkshire Museum to protect and preserve its arts and artifacts valued at $200 million, better serve its visitors with upgraded and accessible amenities, and world-class exhibitions to drive visitations and increase tourism to downtown Pittsfield and Berkshire County. It will also enable the Museum to enhance its educational programming and outreach using new and exciting exhibitions that it will host or create from its own collection.

“The arts are a critical component of the economy, and character, of the Berkshires,” said Congressman John Olver. “These funds will help the museum make much needed renovations. In fact, the primary focus of the work will be to make the facility ADA compliant. This will ensure that the museum meets accessibility requirements mandated by law, and that all who want to experience the museum will be able to.”

For additional information, please contact: Kim Rawson 413-443-7171 x28, krawson@berkshiremuseum.org

$570,000 for a new Community Health Center in Great Barrington

This funding will contribute towards Community Heath Programs, Inc. (CHP) building a 24,000 square foot community health center. CHP currently has its services divided among several locations. The new facility will be a 24,000 building, accommodating all of CHP’s programs under one roof.

“We cannot underestimate impact of consolidating primary care, mental health care, oral health, ob/gyn and social services under one roof,” Congressman John Olver said. “CHP provides a medical safety net for 6,000 of the most vulnerable residents of South Berkshire County. Fragmentation of services creates yet another barrier to receiving care for this population.”

For additional information, please contact: Marcia Savage, CEO, 413-528-9311 x2115.

$216,160 for Berkshire Enterprise’s Entrepreneurial Training Program for Displaced Workers

Berkshire Enterprise will use these funds to provide entrepreneurial training to dislocated workers so they can start their own businesses and create jobs for themselves and others. The training involves 10 weeks of intensive classes teaching business skills, followed by 10 weeks of implementation meetings.

“In these difficult economic times, we have got to get creative. When jobs do not exist out there, we have got to create them. Berkshire Enterprise’s program does just that,” Congressman John Olver said. “It is an impressive program with an impressive success rate – over 85 percent of business started by Berkshire Enterprise graduates are still in business after five years.”

For additional information, please contact: Steven Fogel, Program Director, 413-441-3688.

$95,000 for MCLA’s Regional Science & Technology Resource Center

This funding will contribute towards MCLA’s establishment of a regional science resource center to support economic development and innovation in the sciences. The center will support K-12 science education by maintaining a collection of science materials (books, digital media, online resources, equipment, and science experiment kits), providing these materials to educators on a lending basis, and convening learning experiences. The project will also provide resources and professional development opportunities for educators.

“In these difficult economic times, school budgets are being cut left and right. Unfortunately, this has left many schools without the resources necessary to run labs and provide hands-on learning experiences. As a scientist myself, I can say that these experiences are necessary to draw students to the sciences,” Congressman John Olver said. “The sciences are where the jobs of the future will be. It’s important for students know that a career in the sciences is an option for them.”

For additional information, please contact: Denise Richardello, Vice President of Enrollment and External Relations at MCLA, 413-662-5203, drichard@mcla.edu.

$71,300 for Berkshire Community College’s SIMS Project

The funding will be used to expand the simulated instructional mannequin system (SIMS) within the community college system along the Northern Tier, allowing for all areas of healthcare to utilize SIMS as a training tool. Participating colleges will include MWCC, Greenfield Community College and Berkshire Community College. The total funding for the project is $214,000. Each institution will receive one third of the total funding.

"These ‘virtual hospitals’ provide excellent training opportunities for faculty and students as well as regional health care employers, physicians, incumbent nurses, and health care professionals,” Congressman John Olver said. “In these difficult economic times, it is necessary to provide resources to our local community colleges to retrain those who have recently become unemployed.”

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President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (File photo: AP Photo/Ron Edmonds).
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"Obama bill means aid for WMass"
The Springfield Republican, Thursday, March 12, 2009, By DAN RING, dring@repub.com

BOSTON - President Barack Obama signed a $410 billion spending bill on Wednesday that includes important money for health care, education and public safety in Western Massachusetts.

Speaking at the White House, he called the bill "imperfect," partly because it contains thousands of pet projects for lawmakers. Congress inserted into the bill more than 8,500 earmarks, which specify money for certain projects.

Obama said that 99 percent of the bill is money needed to keep the government running. Obama, who pledged to work to limit earmarks during his campaign, urged Congress to approve guidelines that he said would require lawmakers to be more transparent about designating money for projects.

He also said that earmarks for private companies should come under a bidding process.

"The future demands that we operate in a different way than we have in the past," Obama said. "So let there be no doubt. This piece of legislation must mark an end to the old way of doing business and the beginning of a new era of responsibility and accountability."

People in Western Massachusetts on Wednesday praised the work of U.S. Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry and U.S. Reps. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, and John W. Olver, D-Amherst.

The two senators and two representatives in Washington issued statements defending their earmarks.

"I am pleased ... this much-needed federal assistance will benefit communities in western and central Massachusetts," Neal stated. "Local officials sought help for projects that included law enforcement, public works, economic development and environmental protection."

Said Kennedy, "These funds will create jobs that are desperately needed, and will provide long-lasting benefits for all our citizens long into the future."

Kerry said he was proud of his earmarks.

"Together with Senator Kennedy and our colleagues in the House, we fight each year to secure federal commitment for programs like these that make a real local impact," he said.

Olver said he was pleased with the projects he sponsored.

"These are sound, thoroughly vetted projects that will have a positive impact in central and Western Massachusetts," he said.

Dr. Paul Friedmann, executive director of the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute in Springfield, said he was delighted that the institute received more than $1 million in the bill.

The institute received $571,000 for new equipment for a planned expansion of its laboratory on the second floor of 3601 Main St., Springfield. The institute also received $475,750 for research.

Mark M. Fulco, senior vice president for the Sisters of Providence Health System, said money in the new law would be used toward a planned health clinic that would be part of a new homeless resource center planned by the Friends of the Homeless Inc. in Springfield.

Fulco and Friedmann said they were grateful for the work of Kennedy, Kerry, and Neal.

Anne S. Awad, president and chief executive officer of the Caring Health Center in Springfield, said the $190,000 in the new law will be used for a new roof and other work at an old furniture store in the city's South End that will be converted into a medical and dental center. The old store is located across the street from the Caring Health Center at 1040 Main St., Springfield.

"I'm thrilled," Awad said. "It (the money) would not be in there (the law) without Senator Kennedy."

It will take at least another two years to complete the center. It is expected to serve 20,000 medical patients and 10,000 dental patients each year.

The current building, which is leased, will continue as a maternal child health center, said Awad.

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"Money for bike trail inappropriate now"
The Republican, Letters, March 16, 2009

I have mixed reactions to the news regarding the eligible transportation projects in Western Massachusetts funded by the federal stimulus law (The Republican, March 11).

I am pleased that money has been identified that will benefit our area, but I am amazed that some $4.6 million might be spent on a bicycle trail. Of the 14 projects identified in your article, there are only three that have a higher dollar amount than the bike trail.

I strongly recommend that the officials making the final decisions and U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, the sponsor of the project, drive around some of the roads in Westfield or other roads in the area. I would find it difficult to understand if they conclude that the $4.6 million would be better spent on the bicycle trail than on other projects.

This is not intended to disparage the cyclists who might use the new trail section, but to raise the standard that the money should be spent for the good of as many citizens as possible.

BILL DUVAL
Westfield, Massachusetts

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"NEW ENGLAND IN BRIEF: Nail polish helps nab robbery suspect"
The Boston Globe, March 26, 2009, ~In Part~

"Congress approves national heritage area"

Senators John F. Kerry and Edward M. Kennedy and US Representatives Edward J. Markey, James P. McGovern, Niki Tsongas, and John W. Olver announced yesterday that their legislation establishing the Freedom's Way National Heritage Area, which includes 37 communities in Massachusetts and eight in New Hampshire, passed in the House of Representatives. The Senate passed the bill earlier this month. It now heads to the president for his signature. The Heritage Area highlights the history of New England, including Colonial life, the American Revolution, and early social justice, religious, abolitionist, and conservationist movements.

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"Lawmakers give out bonuses in tight times"
By Matt Murphy, The North Adams Transcript Boston Bureau, 4/3/2009

BOSTON -- U.S. Rep. John Olver doled out over to $97,000 in bonuses to 18 congressional staffers last year at a time when the national economy soured and his own constituents faced layoffs and wage freezes.

And he wasn’t alone.

More than 200 lawmakers from both parties gave their staffs in Washington, D.C. and at home year-end bonuses totaling $9.1 million, including Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Lowell, and Rep. John Tierney, D-Salem. Lawmakers defended the bonuses as a way to reward hard work and retain high-quality staff that could earn more in the private sector.

Olver District Director Jonathan Niedzielski received a $6,870 bonus on top of his $81,360-a-year salary, while Legislative Director Blair Anderson saw $6,350 added onto his $74,180 salary for 2008.

Bonuses in Olver’s office also went to his economic development director, congressional and district aides in Washington and Amherst, and Communications Director Sara Merriam, who received $7,000 on top of her salary of $56,430.

The bonuses are a common practice on Capitol Hill, handed out each year by lawmakers to their staffs from surplus money in their office budgets. Otherwise, that money would have to be forfeited if not spent before the end of the year. Tsongas expects to return about $25,000 to the Treasury in unused funds from 2008, while Tierney expects to give back more than $50,000.

While relatively small in the scope of the federal budget or the multi-million dollar bonuses being paid out to executives at AIG, the congressional bonuses run contrary to the outrage coming from Congress over the unrestrained spending of taxpayer dollars.

The payroll records reviewed by The Sun were compiled by LegiStorm, an organization that tracks such data in Congress. The bonuses were gleaned from increases in salary paid out in the last quarter of 2008 from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31.

Olver Chief of Staff Hunter Ridgway defended the bonuses as a way to encourage staff to make the extra effort in their jobs, while allowing the office some leeway should others expenses increase over the course of the year.

He said that no one enters public service to get rich, and the bonuses are a way to reward and retain quality staff.

"Federal workers, including congressional staffers, should never be overpaid, regardless of whether their compensation is split into monthly payments plus an end-of-the-year payment or limited to 12 equal monthly payments," Ridgway said. "And I don’t think that’s been the case in the past nor is likely to ever be the case."

Tsongas awarded 16 members of her staff with close to $30,000 in bonuses ranging more modestly from $1,000 to $2,500.

"I gave a great deal of thought to it. Whenever taxpayers’ money is involved, we need to be very thoughtful and transparent. But I decided it was important to give modest recognition tied to performance because they have worked very hard in the best interests of the district," Tsongas said.

She lauded her staff for the hours of case work logged to help constituents navigate complex federal programs like Medicare and veterans benefits.

Comparatively, the bonuses handed out by Tsongas were smaller than those in other Congressional offices, where the average bonus totaled $4,550, according to an analysis done by the Wall Street Journal.

Tierney, who represents the 6th district on the North Shore, gave out close to $50,000 in bonuses to staffers including everyone from his chief of staff, Betsy Arnold, to his district scheduler.

Arnold, who earns $123,000 a year, earned an extra $8,610 over the last four months of 2008, including a temporary boost in her salary while she took on added responsibilities for colleagues who left the office.

"Hard-working aides in Mr. Tierney’s office, the majority of whom earn far less than the median household income in the United States, received merit-based bonuses in 2008 which totaled less than the amount the U.S. Treasury can expect to receive back from this office," said Catherine McKenna Ribeiro, spokeswoman for Tierney.

Ribeiro said Tierney has returned over $1 million to the Treasury from his office budgets since being elected in 1997.

Members of the House of Representatives typically receive between $1.2 million and $1.9 million a year to run their offices in Washington, D.C. and their home districts, and can employee up to 22 staffers.

The money is used to pay salaries, district office rent, travel to and from the Capitol and other office expenses.
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"Offended by Olver office bonuses"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letters, Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I opened The Eagle on Friday morning and read, with increasing anger and disbelief, the article concerning U.S. Rep. John Olver and his cohorts giving out thousands of dollars in bonuses to his staff ("Olver pays 97G in bonuses," Eagle, April 3.)

Some of the comments attributed to Olver and his chief of staff, Hunter Ridgway, lead me to believe that they live in a different world than you or I do. As a small businessman suffering through this severe recession, this past year I have never worked so much for so little in my life. Yet, here are these staffers, who I am sure are hard-working and nice people, being given outrageous bonuses for "working hard." No amount of rhetoric could ever convince me that these bonuses should have been paid, and the logic is even more appalling.

This money is given out from "surplus" in the office budgets; otherwise it would have to be forfeited. Maybe Olver's office budget needs a little trimming.

The bonuses were defended as a way to reward hard work and encourage staff to make the extra effort in their jobs. People making $60,000 to $120,000 per year shouldn't need bonuses to do their jobs. Bonuses in my day were given for extraordinary performances resulting in profits for your company. Our state, country and world are in total financial disarray because of this type of stuff. No one working for the state, where we have a large deficit, deserves a bonus. How do these bonuses make the poor state workers who have been laid off feel?

They are also defended as a way to retain high-quality staff lest they run to jobs in the private sector. There are no jobs in the private sector! Ask anyone trying to find one.

No one enters public service to get rich is another blood-boiling statement from Ridgway. I don't think I've ever met a a politician who is starving.

Who do Rep. Olver and all our senators and representatives answer to? Anybody? Or do they do as they wish? What Mr. Olver has done is no better than what the executives at AIG did, it is just at a lesser level. I surely wouldn't want him as my representative anymore. He is certainly not on the same wavelength as Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public.

PATRICK BASSI
Pittsfield, Massachusetts
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"More foolish bonuses"
The Berkshire Eagle, Editorial, April 8, 2009

In this current economic climate, with bonus having become a dirty word when it involves taxpayer money, the more than 200 lawmakers from both parties who gave their Washington D.C. staffs year-end bonuses totaling $9.1 million demonstrated remarkable tone-deafness. This includes Representative John Olver, who handed out $97,000 in bonuses to 18 staffers from surplus money in office budgets. Echoing the arguments made by the likes of AIG, lawmakers claim the money rewards hard-working staffers who could go to the private sector, but their constitutents are working hard just to keep their jobs, and government employees should take a close look at what is happening in the private sector before bailing. This money should be returned to the Treasury.

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"Government bonuses while teachers struggle"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letters, Wednesday, April 8, 2009

In the April 3 Eagle, there was an article about government workers receiving bonuses. Aren't we still in a recession? These workers get a fair paycheck for their work. There are plenty of unemployed trained workers who would be glad to take their positions for that pay with no bonuses.

While we are laying off teachers and cutting costs, I find bonuses for state workers disrespectful to the taxpayers. We are having a hard time meeting our obligations on far less than we pay them. If we cut out these extra expenses and combine some jobs, as we are asking our school leaders to do, it would make more sense. In the meantime, our children are being shortchanged.

I don't think we elected politicians to waste our money. We can change that policy in the next election. Every person in a position of authority has had a chance at a good education. They owe their teachers and aides the chance to help the next generation.

Why does government have to be so top-heavy? Are there not some duplicate jobs that can be cut? Do so many workers have to have government cars? The average teachers' salary is between $33,000 and $66,000. Where are their bonuses for a job well done? Where are their government cars?

RUTH A. HEATH
Lee, Massachusetts
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"Fed up with wasteful elected officials"
The Berkshire Eagle - Letters - Sunday, April 12, 2009

The bonuses that John Olver paid to some of his staff are another blatant example of the rampant waste that keeps happening when we refuse to hold our elected officials accountable for what they do. We elected them to make things better for us, the people, not to pad their own interests or to go along with the way things always are.

Most of these elected officials are not in touch with reality, and the way the people who elected them are faring. The way to put a stop to this foolishness is at the ballot. The longer they are there the more out of touch they seem to become.

The state is now going to debate a bill on fixing the state's transportation system. Here we go again, let's spend who knows how much more money that doesn't need to be spent on this Boston problem, the Big Dig, and its transportation problems. We know the Boston Bozos created this mess, we know its broken and how to fix it, so why do we have to debate it again? Just fix the thing.

Don't give us the same old bull that taxes have to go up, fees have to be raised, workers have to be cut, and so on. Do what you were elected to do, and do it within your means like everyone else has to do. Cut back on the foolish spending, and please don't stick it to the people in the western part of the state because we get no benefit whatsoever from Boston's transportation system.

PAUL R. THERRIEN
Lanesborough, Massachusetts
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"PAC money flowing to Mass. delegation: Donations on rise since '08 political power shift"
By Brian C. Mooney, Boston Globe Staff, April 11, 2009

The Massachusetts delegation in the US House of Representatives is reaping the financial rewards of Democrats' return to power, attracting increasing amounts of campaign cash from Washington's influential business and labor union lobbies.

Since their party regained House control in 2006, the state's 10-member, all-Democrat delegation has secured the chairmanships of one major House committee, one select committee, and five subcommittees. And with those powerful posts comes more fund-raising leverage.

Donations from special-interest political action committees, or PACs, comprised 45 percent of the delegation's campaign collections during the 2008 election, jumping from 33 percent of the total in 2004, the last time Republicans won a majority in the House.

In raw dollars, the increase in PAC money flowing to the delegation also was striking, rising to $4.6 million, from $3.2 million in 2004, a 44 percent increase.

The campaign riches have flowed even though no Bay State incumbent has faced a serious challenge since 1996, and those who had token Republican or minor party challengers were able to outspend them by an average of more than 8 to 1.

"Any time power shifts, the money shifts, and we've been seeing that since Democrats took control of Congress in 2006," said Massie Ritsch, spokesman for the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks the influence of money on national politics on its website, OpenSecrets.org.

"Political action committees are keenly interested in getting access to people in power who have influence over their issues, industries, and interests," he said. "Similarly, donors outside of members' states don't have much reason to support them until the lawmakers are in a position of authority."

For the Massachusetts Democrats, the percentage of contributions from out-of-state individuals also rose, to 38 percent from 33 percent in 2004.

Representatives or their spokesmen said they are not influenced by the special-interest money that helps keep them in office, and see little distinction between PACs and contributions from individuals.

Representative Edward J. Markey of Malden, the dean of the delegation who is in his 17th term, declined PAC money for nearly two decades. But that changed in 2003. And in the past two election cycles, these contributions, overwhelmingly from corporate sources, have accounted for at least 40 percent of his donations. That is still less than Democratic House incumbents as a whole, who reaped 45 percent of their contributions from PACs.

Markey also leads in the percentage of contributions from individuals who live outside the state, according to tallies by the Center for Responsive Politics. In 2007-08, 70 percent of the $677,000 from individual donors who gave him $200 or more came from outside Massachusetts, up from 56 percent four years earlier.

Markey, chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, started the year with $2.8 million in the bank, the most in the delegation.

"Our view is that the public is not so concerned about what percentage of contributions are coming from in state or out of state, but whether the politician is on the side of the special interests or the public interests," said Jeff Duncan, Markey's chief of staff. "Ed has a strong base both in Massachusetts and around the country due to the high-profile work he's been doing on global warming, energy independence, telecommunications reform, and consumer protection."

"I don't know that giving gets you anything special," said Representative Richard E. Neal of Springfield, an 11th-term incumbent whose $2.2 million campaign chest is heavily stocked with contributions from PACs, mostly from finance, real estate, and insurance interests.

Neal said his budget earmarks, mostly for life sciences research and public works, "stand up under the magnifying glass."

Neal has not faced a general election opponent since 1996. He is the sixth-ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees tax laws and entitlement programs, and chairs its Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures, which studies proposed changes in the tax code and other revenue generators.

Representative Michael E. Capuano of Somerville said he has intentionally sought contributions from political action committees rather than local individuals during the economic recession.

"I make no bones about it: I make a very conscious decision to raise money from people I think can best afford it, and that means PACs," said Capuano.

Since his election in 1998, he has faced only one token challenge from a Socialist Workers Party candidate whom he beat by a 10-to-1 ratio after outspending her, $627,000 to zero.

About half the more than $1 million Capuano raised in the past two years came from 166 PACs, including those of PMA Group and two of the lobbying firm's clients, Textron Systems and Parametric Technology. Capuano sponsored spending bill earmarks for both companies and Abt Associates, another PMA client.

Capuano said the earmarks were for important defense-related projects in or near his district and not influenced by fund-raising activity. But he said that, in response to "appearances," his campaign committee recently donated to local charities a total of $60,500, representing the amount donated by employees and others connected to PMA, the erstwhile Washington lobbying powerhouse that collapsed after it became the subject of a federal investigation into fund-raising activities.

Representative Barney Frank of Newton spent about $2.8 million, the most of any Bay State representative, to win reelection in 2008 with 68 percent of the vote against two challengers who combined spent only $39,000.

Nearly half of Frank's contributions from individuals were from outside Massachusetts, and 46 percent of all donations came from PACs in 2007-2008, OpenSecrets reported on its website.

As chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Frank plays a central role in legislation dealing with bank bailout programs and regulation of Wall Street. Banking, insurance, and securities and investment firms are major fund-raising sources for Frank, as are advocates for gay rights and affordable housing.

OpenSecrets ranked Frank first in the House over the last two years in donations from accountants and mortgage bankers and brokers as well as third in contributions from savings and loan companies.

"Barney took his campaign for his district seriously because he's clearly been targeted by the right wing that doesn't like his attempts at regulating the financial system," said his legal counsel, James Segel, who cited harsh criticisms during the campaign by then-vice president Dick Cheney and talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly.

"He's not taking any PAC money or contributions from top executives of those major recipients of TARP [Troubled Asset Relief Program] money," Segel said. "If community banks want to contribute, that's fine."

Nearly half of Frank's contributions from individuals were from outside Massachusetts, and 46 percent of all donations came from PACs in 2007-2008, OpenSecrets reported.

Raising the least amount in the delegation in 2007-08 was Representative William D. Delahunt of Quincy, who was unopposed and took in $151,000, about 80 percent in PAC money, well above his 30 percent average for PAC money over the past 12 years when he typically raised much larger sums.

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Letter from Olver: "Earth Day 2009 — Past Successes, Future Challenges"
U.S. Rep. John W. Olver - April 22, 2009
Guest Columnist, iBerkshires.com

WASHINGTON, D.C.

On this, the 39th celebration of Earth Day, we are presented with an opportunity to reflect on the progress we've made for the health of our planet and build awareness and support for all that remains to be done.

As a scientist, I believe that global warming is the most critical environmental issue of our time. That is why I am personally very pleased that fighting climate change is a flagship issue for the 111th Congress and President Obama.

I want to take this opportunity to highlight the Democratic Congress' environmental legislative successes, as well as provide you with a preview of an exciting piece of legislation that the House has yet to consider, the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

Energy Independence & Climate Change Legislative Successes

When we gained the majority in 2007, Democrats began a "Green the Capitol" initiative to ensure that the U.S. House of Representatives will be one of the world's first carbon-neutral legislative bodies. Entering Phase 2, we are purchasing wind power, using natural gas at the Capitol Power Plant, lighting the Capitol, including the dome, with energy-efficient lighting and using only 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper.

■ In December, 2007, Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act, strengthening national security by lessening our dependence on foreign oil. This is accomplished while reducing carbon emissions and lowering energy costs for consumers by raising vehicle fuel efficiency standards, expanding the use of high performance green buildings, and promoting the development of nonfossil-fuel based vehicle technologies.

■ In February, 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law. Over 500,000 jobs will be created through programs that invest in our nation's infrastructure, including updating our nation's aging electricity transmission system with Smart Grid technology, providing energy efficiency funds for the nation's schools, offering support for the nation's governors and mayors to tackle local energy challenges, and establishing a new loan guarantee program to keep our transition to renewable energy on track during the economic crisis.

Preview of the American Clean Energy and Security Act

The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 is a comprehensive approach to America's energy policy that charts a new course toward a clean energy economy. While this bill is still in its infancy the broad sketch of its scope and objectives is really quite exciting. The American Clean Energy and Security Act will create millions of new clean energy jobs, save consumers hundreds of billions of dollars in energy costs, enhance America's energy independence, and cut global warming pollution. To meet these goals, the legislation has four areas of focus:

■ A clean energy title that promotes renewable sources of energy, carbon capture and sequestration technologies, low-carbon fuels, clean electric vehicles, and improving the nation's electricity transmission grid;

■ An energy efficiency title that funds increased energy efficiency across all sectors of the economy, including buildings, appliances, transportation, and industry;

■ A climate change title that places limits on the emission of global warming causing pollutants and provides a market with financial incentives to develop clean, renewable sources of energy; and

■ A transitioning title that protects U.S. consumers and industry and promotes green jobs during the transition to a clean energy economy.

Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearings on this bill are scheduled to take place this week. I will be sure to keep you updated on the bill's progress.

During my 18-year tenure in Congress, protecting our environment has been one of my primary focuses. Even as evidence of the negative impact of climate change became undeniable, the political will to aggressively legislate in response to this threat was simply not there. However, now the tide has turned.

We have been presented with a unique window of opportunity attributable to a Democratic Congress, a new president who is committed to addressing these issues, and a need to restructure our country's economy to weather the economic downturn. I am confident that Congress will seize this unprecedented opportunity to finally attack climate change with the vigor the threat demands.

I look forward to contacting you next year, on the 40th celebration of Earth Day, with news of strong legislative accomplishments that seek to protect our planet for our children and grandchildren.

Sincerely,
John W Olver
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Olver, an Amherst Democrat, represents the 1st Massachusetts District. He is the only Massachusetts representative on the House Appropriations Committee and is chairman of its Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.
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"Deval Patrick Announces Broadband Highway Partnership"
iBerkshires - Staff Reports - Tuesday, July 28, 2009

NORTHAMPTON, Massachusetts — Interstate 91 will literally become the backbone of broadband expansion efforts in Western Mass. through a partnership between the Massachusetts Broadband Institute and the state Highway Department.

Gov. Deval Patrick on Tuesday announced the partnership that, with the investment of $4.3 million in state bonds, will complete a MassHighway fiber-optic conduit along a 4.56-mile section of I-91 at the Vermont border. That will turn the road into a true high-speed information highway running more than 50 miles from Connecticut to Vermont.

Completing the last five miles will enable collaboration across state borders in a variety of areas, including public safety, education, e-health and access to Internet, say administration officials.

"We are determined to empower all students and businesses with the tools they need to succeed," said Patrick, in a statement. "By leveraging an existing road project to bring broadband access to Western Massachusetts, we are positioning the commonwealth to compete for federal stimulus grants and investing wisely in our future."

A measure passed last year dedicted $40 million to bringing broadband access to underserved and unserved regions in the state. Most of those areas are in Western Mass., including a large chunk of the Berkshires. The legislation created the Massachusetts Broadband Institute to facilitate broadband initiatives.

Two of the six 1.25-inch fiber-optic lines will be used by MassHighway for its Intelligent Traffic System. The other four conduits, reserved for economic development and the build-out of broadband networks in Western Mass., will be leased by the MBI, which will own the fiber placed in one of the conduits and lease the other three for future development.

The $30.7 million Intelligent Traffic System is expected to be completed in 2010. Much of the funding for it and additional conduits is the result of efforts at the federal level by U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, who attended the announcement at the MassHighway District 2 office.

"I am enormously grateful for Governor Deval Patrick's efforts to bring the Massachusetts Broadband Institute and the Executive Office of Transportation together to partner on this important project," said Olver in a statement. "It is my strong belief that the installation of telecommunications infrastructure should be considered anytime the ground is opened for a state road construction project."

By providing a critical infrastructure component to the future Western Massachusetts broadband ring, the MBI-EOT partnership is expected to greatly enhance the state's grant application for broadband funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

While it is typical for highway broadband projects to result in long-haul networks that can only be accessed every 40 or 50 miles by broadband carriers and providers, the four economic development conduits along I-91 will sweep out to 33 shared resource nodes where providers can access the cable over the course of 55 miles. Once populated with fiber, the new economic development conduit and 33 access nodes — each less than two miles apart — will enable carriers and providers to flexibly and quickly deploy a wide variety of network designs that can reach citizens and businesses.

"Improvements to our underserved areas here in Western Massachusetts are certainly welcome and necessary," said state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli. "Better access to the Internet is an issue very important to my constituents and I am very excited about this project."

The MBI portion of the project is already benefitting from MassHighway's progress to date: rights of way and approval from conservation commission are secured and engineering is 70 percent complete, crews and equipment are mobilized and construction is currently under way.

To learn more about this and other economic recovery efforts, go to www.mass.gov/recovery.
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www.massbroadband.org
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"Congressman Olver Secures Project Funds"
Source: North Adams Transcript, North Adams, Massachusetts, By Jennifer Huberdeau, Wednesday, July 29, 2009

NORTH ADAMS -- Three Berkshire County projects have been slated to receive a total of $1.5 million as part of the federal 2010 Transportation and Housing Appropriations bill -- including $350,000 that would be used to install an elevator in the North Adams Armory on Ashland Street.

U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, who heads the House Transportation and Housing Committee, secured the funds for the armory, along with $650,000 toward the conversion of the Ralph Hoffman Environmental Center at Berkshire Community College into a renewable energy resource training center and $500,000 for the third phase of a multi-phase streetscape project in downtown Pittsfield.

The bill is now before the U.S. Senate, which will have to approve a reconciled bill before it can be signed into law by President Obama.

"Rep. Olver has been very successful in securing funding for the armory," Mayor John Barrett III said on Monday. "He has helped us in the past, including securing money for the acquisition of the building and for some of the work we've done on the facility. We've fixed the roof, had the gymnasium done over and secured a grant to have a new heating system installed. However, when the governor made his emergency 9C cuts at the beginning of the year, we lost a $120,000 grant towards making the building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act."

He said the $350,000 would allow the city to install an elevator, which will be accessible from the outside of the building, to make the three-floor building fully accessible to disabled individuals.

"Eventually, this building will become a full-blown community center, with everything from a day care to offices for service organizations," Barrett said. "In the meantime, in order to become eligible for some of the grants we're seeking for the building, we need to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act."

Dedicated in 1931, the former state armory was home to Company K of the Massachusetts National Guard and served as the unit's home until several years ago when the state consolidated its facilities and placed numerous armories on the market.

The city purchased the building -- which once hosted vibrant dances during World War II and served as a local civic center -- in 2007 for $205,000, assisted by $300,000 in funds secured by Olver through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The appropriation also included $30,000 for design engineering and $65,000 in construction-related costs at the time of the purchase.

Additional funds have been used to repair the roof, windows, exterior stairs, facade and interior flooring.

"The armory's size and location make it a logical choice for a community center," Olver said in a news release. "The city has already made quite a lot of progress on restoring and repairing the building, and its presence has been an excellent addition to the area. These renovations will ensure that everyone who wants to access the programs that take place there will be able to."

Barrett said the city would like to see the building be run as an "independent facility," similar to that of the former Sarah T. Haskins School on State Street, which is leased and maintained by Child Care of the Berkshires.

"Currently the Northern Berkshire Youth Basketball League is maintaining the building," he said. "They have been independently raising funds for heating and utility costs for quite some time. Hopefully in the future we'll be able to lease out the space."

At Berkshire Community College, the $650,000 in funds would be used convert the Ralph Hoffman Environmental Center into a renewable energy resource training center, which will consist of two classrooms, four distinct laboratory configurations, a self-sustaining greenhouse, state-of-the-art computer hardware and software and "green" technology instructional equipment.

"While we have seen jobs disappear in many industries over the past year, employment in green industries remains strong," Olver said in his release. "BCC is responding to the demand for specialists in green technologies and construction. The training center will be the only facility of its kind in the county and will ensure the area workforce keeps up with the changing job market."

The $500,000 in funding for Pittsfield would allow the city to continue its revitalization project in the downtown -- which began with West Housatonic and South streets and includes Park Square -- into the business area of North Street.

"The project will further revitalize Pittsfield," Olver said.

According to the congressman, the project would include decorative paving, new ornamental streetlights, sidewalk reconstruction, public art and historical statues, plaques and plantings -- making the downtown more attractive to businesses, residents and tourists.
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To reach Jennifer Huberdeau, e-mail jhuberdeau@thetranscript.com.
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via: www.istockanalyst.com/article/viewiStockNews/articleid/3378753#
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"[Berkshire] County backs new plan"
By Trevor Jones, Berkshire Eagle Staff, Monday, August 3, 2009

PITTSFIELD -- What started as an idea of a small group of volunteers 10 years ago is now a county-wide initiative with support from local, state and federal agencies trying to foster alternative transportation in the area.

The Berkshire Bike Path implementation plan was released this month, detailing the status of various projects dedicated to creating a contiguous bicycle path -- from Vermont to Connecticut -- in Berkshire County. The plan is a joint proposal by the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, National Park Service and Berkshire Bike Path Council, and has received the backing of the 11 local towns which the trail would go through.

The bike path was conceived 10 years ago by volunteers who saw the successful completion of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail in Adams, Cheshire and Lanesborough, and wanted to expand that service to the entire county. Since that time, support has grown considerably, according to Marjorie Cohan, president of the Berkshire Bike Path Council.

"After 10 years, biking is more mixed with the whole culture of alternative transportation, and the whole economic generator has been seen in other communities," she said.

If the rail trail is any indicator, there is certainly a demand locally, as a BRPC study conducted on four separate occasions since 2008 found an average of 1,951 one-way trips were taken there daily.

Charles Tracy, state director of the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program for the National Park Service, points to the success of other bike paths in the state, and said the locally pooled resources will show the dedication of the towns, and the broader vision of the community.

"It signals, in part, to the state transportation agencies that these towns are united and they share a vision for a bike trail network," said Tracy, adding that the bike path would promote healthy lifestyles and safe activities, as well as getting people thinking about using bikes as an alternative to cars.

The plan was presented to Rep. John Olver, D-Amherst, at the Intermodal Center in Pittsfield on July 1. Olver said Massachusetts ranks last in the nation for use of federal surface transportation funds. Enhancements like bike paths, and hopes to secure more funding in the next transportation bill.

"In general, bike paths have been proven economic engines in other parts of the state and country and this project could produce the same results here in Berkshire County," Olver later said in a prepared statement.

Cohan will continue to push for county-wide funding, but, for now, is focusing on smaller pieces, like projects in Lenox and Adams scheduled to get under way next year which could eventually piece together the larger trail.

"I think you've got to see this in pieces, and they don't have to be contiguous pieces," said Cohan.
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"U.S. House Approves $1.5M for Berkshire Projects"
iBerkshires.com - Monday, August 3, 2009

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House has approved a funding bill with $1.5 million earmarked for three projects in Berkshire County, according to U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst.

Olver secured the funding in the fiscal 2010 Transportation and Housing Appropriations Bill, which the House passed on July 23. Olver is chairman of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development subcommittee and worked to secure the funding. The Senate must still approve its appropriations bill and then both chambers will have to approve a reconciled bill before it goes to the president's desk to be signed into law.

The local projects are:

$650,000 for Construction of Berkshire Community College's Renewable Energy Resource Training Center

This funding will contribute toward BCC's conversion of the Pittsfield campus's Ralph Hoffman Environmental Center into a Renewable Energy Resource Training Center. The training center will consist of two classrooms, four programmatically distinct laboratory configurations, a self-sustaining greenhouse, state-of-the-art computer hardware and software, and "green" technology instructional equipment.

"While we have seen jobs disappear in many industries over the past year, employment in green industries remains strong," Olver said. "BCC is responding to the demand for specialists in green technologies and construction. The training center will be the only facility of its kind in the county, and will ensure that the area's work force keeps up with the changing job market."

Since the early 1970s, the Hoffmann Center has been home to classroom and laboratory facilities supporting the instructional needs of the environmental science program. Because of significant changes to technology over the years, the facility has not only become outdated, but the learning spaces cannot accommodate new teaching methods.

$350,000 to make the North Adams Armory compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act

This funding will be used to perform construction work to make the historic state Army building compliant with the ADA to extend community usage.

"The Armory's size and location made it a logical choice for a community center," said Olver. "The city has already made quite a lot of progress on restoring and repairing the building, and it's presence has been an excellent addition to the area. These renovations will ensure that everyone who wants to access the programs that take place there will be able to."

The Armory on Ashland Street served as a National Guard facility for many years. Located in one of the city's busiest corridors, the city of North Adams acquired the property in January 2007, with the intention that it would serve the community at large as a community center. The building was in a state of disrepair. With the use of state and federal funds, the city has been able to stabilize the building and begin repair work on the roof, windows, exterior stairs, exterior facade, interior flooring and water-damaged areas. Now, attention has turned to the interior of the building. The Armory is home to the North Adams Basketball League as well as other community programs. Future anticipated uses include after-school programs.

$500,000 for downtown Pittsfield streetscaping

This funding will contribute toward the third phase of a multiphase streetscape project. The streetscaping work began at West Housatonic and South Street and has continued through Park Square to North Street to Columbus Avenue. This portion of the North Street corridor represents a section of the main core of the downtown business district. It also includes Union Street, home to the award-winning Barrington Stage Company.

"The project will further revitalize downtown Pittsfield," Olver said. "It will boost the arts and culture elements of downtown, encourage new private investment in downtown, and make the environment friendlier for residents and tourists alike. Berkshire County as a whole will benefit from downtown Pittsfield streetscaping. Pittsfield is the economic center of the county and the city's economy affects the regional economy."

The work to be performed includes decorative paving, new ornamental streetlights, sidewalk reconstruction, public art and historical statues, plaques and planting upgrades. The goal of streetscaping is to make downtown Pittsfield more attractive and appealing to pedestrians, enhance the city's unique characteristics and improve the environment for residents, tourists and businesses.

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"'Green' grant to boost Berkshire CC"
By Dick Lindsay, Berkshire Eagle Staff, Monday, August 3, 2009

PITTSFIELD -- Berkshire Community College is prepared to train a local "green" work force if it receives a $650,000 federal grant still awaiting final approval from Congress and President Obama.

The money is earmarked for BCC's plan to convert the Ralph Hoffman Environmental Center at the West Street campus into a Renewable Energy Resource Training Center.

The Hoffman Center was built in the 1970s for the then-fledgling field of environmental science. However, college officials say the educational space and equipment is outdated and needs to be replaced. The refurbished center will consist of two classrooms, four distinct laboratories, a greenhouse, state-of-the-art computers and software and "green" technology instructional equipment.

Such a training center means more skilled labor for local companies in the field of renewable energy and environmentally friendly construction methods.

"The facility will have labs in photovoltaic, wind, solar and anything critical to the growth of renewable energy," said William Mulholland, BCC's dean of work force development.

"The money allows us to be responsive to what's going on in the community," he added.

However, the $650,000 check isn't in the mail -- yet.

While U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, has secured the funding in the fiscal 2010 Transportation and Housing Appropriations bill, the U.S Senate has yet to vote on it's version of the legislation. Once both chambers agree to a compromise bill, it goes to the president to be signed into law. If approved, the project could be completed in the second half of 2010, college officials said.

Nevertheless, Olver is confident the money will survive the legislative process because it will translate into new jobs for Berkshire County.

"BCC is responding to the demand for specialists in green technologies and construction," Olver said in a prepared statement. "The training center... will ensure that the area's work force keeps up with the changing job market."

Mulholland said the center will be another tool in BCC's effort to re-train factory workers and other unemployed residents forced to make a career change.

"The community college is the logical hub for this," he added.
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To reach Dick Lindsay: rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com, or (413) 496-6233.
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www.topix.net/forum/source/berkshire-eagle/T45KBTNK70N52IJU4
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"We can't afford not to"
The Berkshire Eagle Online, Editorials, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2009

First District Congressman John Olver is optimistic that a decent health care reform bill will get through Congress in the weeks ahead, though he acknowledges "it is getting harder." Mobs orchestrated by right wing pressure groups representing wealthy special interests may make it harder but must not because health care reform is necessary to prevent America from buckling under the weight of the world's most expensive health care system.

In a meeting at The Eagle Wednesday, Representative Olver spoke of the "commitment to the status quo" that makes it so difficult to bring about needed change. In health care, that status quo is represented by the health insurance industry and the politicians who parrot their policies like so many paid flacks.

The industry hauls in $2 trillion in premiums each year, with 70 percent actually going to medical care. The rest goes to finance lobbyists and the misinformation spread through TV ads, to the CEO salaries that have gone up 20 fold since 2000 according to the Securities and Exchange Commission and to other components of the bureaucracy. In exchange, we get the highest infant mortality rate and the lowest life expectancy of the world's top eight industrial nations. This is the system that town hall bullies are bellowing to keep.

No nation that leaves 50 million uninsured, millions of them children, when other nations guarantee insurance for all can be proud, and the modest reform bills being debated in Congress would address that shameful disparity. The uninsured are unlikely to be among the red-faced hysterics dominating cable television this week.
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www.topix.net/forum/source/berkshire-eagle/TMCKT3NREIU8U3ORD
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"Reps say they will listen on health care reform."
By John Hilliard/Daily News staff - The MetroWest Daily News - August 14, 2009

Representatives of the state's congressional delegation say angry jeers won't scare off lawmakers from participating in town hall-style meetings on health care reform.

Daniel Reilly, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-7th, said Markey hopes to hold an event by summer's end and will post more information on his Web site, www.house.gov/markey. Reilly pointed out Markey hosted local health care advocates and industry leaders at two previous meetings.

"Listening to the views of his constituents is one of the most important aspects of Rep. Markey's job," said Reilly.

Dorothy Reichard, the chief district manager for U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-4th, said Frank will speak at a Dartmouth Democratic Town Committee forum next Tuesday, which is open to the public and will address health care and other matters. He's also been invited by a Newton senior center to talk about health care, and will likely attend, she said.

She said although Frank hasn't held town hall-style forums for years, he meets with local groups when invited and responds to the requests and concerns of constituents when they contact his office.

"People have opportunities to talk to him," Reichard said.

Some members of the Massachusetts delegation took bad-mouthed broadsides from vocal opponents of President Barack Obama's proposal for health care reform.

U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-5th, was heckled by crowds at an Aug. 8 forum in Chelmsford, where protesters blasted Obama's proposal of a government-sponsored health care program as "socialized medicine." Turnout to the meeting was large enough that the meeting was moved from a local supermarket to Chelmsford's town hall.

At the UMass Medical School in Worcester, U.S. representatives James McGovern, D-3rd, and Richard Neal, D-2nd, were shouted down by spectators on Aug. 4, according to the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, which described the crowd as "generally hostile."

But not all New England crowds have been hostile: the Associated Press reported Obama spoke before a friendly crowd of 1,800 people at a Portsmouth, N.H., high school on Tuesday. The wire service reported that Obama tried and failed to get a skeptical question from the audience.

Jon Lenichek, district director for U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, D-8th, said congressional offices have discussed public response to previous meetings on health care, but those responses haven't changed any plans for upcoming public forums.

"I don't think anyone's doing anything differently," Lenichek said.

Capuano held town hall meetings earlier in the summer, and could consider a meeting after Labor Day, said Lenichek. Capuano didn't hold a forum in August because it would occur when many people take their vacations, Lenichek said.

U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-9th, has a forum planned for Aug. 27 at Milton's Curry College to discuss health care reform.

Gary Barrett, the district manager for U.S. Rep. John Tierney, D-6th, said Tierney is hosting telephone conference calls, which have gotten up to 7,000 people to call on the line at one time to discuss health care concerns. More information about the calls will be posted at Tierney's Web site, tierney.house.gov. Tierney regularly has forums with constituents in the spring and fall, said Barrett.

"We have found that telephone town halls are an effective way of communicating with our constituents," said Barrett.

The hotly debated proposed changes to health care have some critics claiming that the measure would create so-called "death panels" - a claim stated by former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on her Web site - that would determine if the elderly or children born with deformities could get medical care, or eliminate Medicare for millions of Americans.

ABC News reports the proposal has no "death panel" provision, and stems from a misunderstanding of a proposed "advanced care planning consultation" - a voluntary option under Medicare to discuss end-of-life care. And the health care proposal wouldn't end Medicare coverage, according to ABC, which also refuted claims the proposal would be "socialized medicine."

"True socialized medicine means the government not only finances, but also owns and operates the hospitals; that is not going to happen in this country," said the network's chief medical editor, Timothy Johnson.

Messages left yesterday afternoon with offices of U.S. representatives William Delahunt, D-10th, and John W. Olver, D-1st, were not returned.
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(John Hilliard can be reached at 508-626-4449 or John.Hilliard@cnc.com.)
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"Olver should hear all views"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letters, Sunday, Aug. 16, 2009

I was surprised and dismayed to read in Dr. Michael Kaplan's letter of August 11 that he was able, along with a group of citizens who support single-payer health care, to be given an appointment with Rep. John Olver. I had called Mr. Olver's office last Friday to discuss my concerns with the current House health care bill. I was told that Mr. Olver was not going to have appointments with constituents nor was he going to have a town hall meeting. What makes me different than Dr. Kaplan?

I live in Berkshire County, pay taxes, participate in my community, pay my bills and receive my health care here. Don't I deserve the same opportunity given to Dr. Kaplan and his special interests?

ELIZABETH GARCIA
Sheffield, Massachusetts
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U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, took time from his schedule today to discuss a variety of issues with the Transcript. (Ryan Hutton/North Adams Transcript)
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"Olver talks health care"
By Jennifer Huberdeau, North Adams Transcript, 8/18/2009

NORTH ADAMS -- Elimination of pre-existing condition clauses, caps on out-of-pocket expenses, and controlled costs are just a of the few benefits a federal health care plan could provide, according to U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst.

But the question is, how many people are listening to the facts?

"It's an outright lie," Olver said Monday, referencing rumors that a public health care plan would euthanize elderly participants. "There's a lot of misinformation and lies out there, but the media is letting people say these things. It isn't challenging them with intelligent responses.

"People hear about the public insurance plan option and automatically believe their choices will be taken away. Americans are all about having choices, and the public option is just a small part of what is being proposed. Under the health insurance exchange program, Americans would have the option in each region to select a plan from several private options."

On Monday, President Barak Obama indicated that he might be willing to compromise with a Senate version of the health care reform bill by dropping the public insurance plan option for a non-profit cooperative.

Olver said he remains optimistic that a public option will remain on the table for discussion, seeing as there are five different healthcare reform bills in Congress.

"We already have four public health plan options," Olver said during an editorial board meeting with the Transcript. "We have Medicaid, the military and the Veterans Administration, which take care of a combined 30 million people. These three groups have the option to negotiate over medication. The fourth group, Medicare, which does not have the option to bargain, has 40 million members."

He said the reform bill should come together by the end of October.

"Whether or not I'll like it is something that remains to be seen," Olver said.

The congressman also lamented the amount of speculation taking place around the 2012 election and the possible loss of a Congressional district.

Former state Sen. Andrea Nuciforo recently announced that he would make a bid for Olver's seat in 2012.

"I think there is a lot of speculating going on," Olver said. "I haven't made any deals or made any plans not to run in 2012."

The congressman said he never commits or comments on an election bid beyond the immediate next election.

"I am running next year," he said.

As for the elimination of a Congressional district, Olver said the state is expected to lose one seat. But assumptions the First and Second Congressional Districts would be merged is incorrect.

"It's up to the state Legislature," he said. "But each district would most likely gain 70,000 more people. How that would be drawn on a map is any one's guess."

He said there are numerous factors for the Legislature to consider, including the protection of key congressional members. He said five of the state's 10-member delegation -- U.S. Reps. Barney Frank, Edward Markey, Richard Neal, James MacGovern and himself -- sit on key committees.

"It would make sense to protect certain individuals," Olver said."We're not the only state projected to lose a seat. Michigan expects to loose two and Rhode Island expects to lose one."
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To reach Jennifer Huberdeau, e-mail jhuberdeau@thetranscript.com.
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www.thetranscript.com/ci_13148398
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www.topix.net/forum/source/north-adams-transcript/T2RPNS2F3SV59N9T6
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"Major flaws in health reform plans"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letters, 8/24/2009

I am extremely disappointed that Congressman Olver has decided not to hold any public meetings this month on health care reform and the other important issues facing our country. Congressman Olver has become such a part of the Washington establishment that he has lost touch with his constituents and presumably doesn’t care what they think.

Since he refuses to hold any public meetings, I have sent the following letter to him, which expresses my views on health care reform: "Dear Congressman Olver: I write to express my opposition to each of the health care bills pending in the House. I agree that we need health care reform, but the existing bills do not attack the problems in any meaningful way.

First, given our rapidly mounting deficits, we simply cannot afford new government spending programs, whether or not accompanied by revenue raising measures (especially direct or indirect taxes). The goal should be to reduce health care costs, not to institute new government spending.

Second, any health care reform that does not include some form of tort reform is not a serious approach. While it is difficult to measure the cost to health care of litigation (including, of course, the cost of unnecessary defensive medical procedures and tests), the lowest realistic estimates of that cost are 2 percent of total health care costs, the highest 20 percent.

Third, administrative costs contribute enormously to total health care costs. A good part of those costs are generated as a result of HEPA requirements. That law needs significant changes, and any serious approach to health care reform must include such changes.

Please do not vote for any bill that does not deal with these issues in a responsible way."

RICHARD M. ALLEN
North Egremont, Massachusetts
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Sarah Adelson and other residents sit on the porch of The Curtis in Lenox as a part of a nationwide candlelight vigil for health care reform and to honor Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. While the vigil took place, dozens of residents were debating the health care issue at the Pittsfield American Legion post. (Caroline Bonnivier / Berkshire Eagle Staff)
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Health Care Reform
"Rekindling debate: Berkshires host vigil, ‘calm' discussion"
By Dick Lindsay, Berkshire Eagle Staff, Thursday, September 3, 2009

PITTSFIELD -- A "calm, rational discussion" about health insurance reform can be held -- at least in Berkshire County.

The nearly 60 people who attended a health care meeting at the American Legion Post 68 Wednesday night were civil compared to the combative tone that has characterized similar gatherings across the country in recent weeks.

At the same time, several Lenox residents peacefully gathered in the downtown for a vigil supporting health care reform. It was one of 300 held nationwide last evening by MoveOn.org Political Action and four other pro-reform groups.

"We really want a calm, rational discussion," said Dave Kopacz, representing The Liberty Preservation Association of Massachusetts. "Those other meetings have been just a lot of Hollywood who-ha."

No meetings by Olver

Kopacz's group and the Western Massachusetts 9/12 Project, two new non-partisan groups that encourage civic involvement in politics, sponsored the Pittsfield meeting because U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst has failed to hold town hall meetings to discuss health care reform with his constituents.

A spokeswoman for Olver last week said the congressman may still host his own health care reform discussions, but for now he'll tour community health facilities and keep track of the thousands of letters and phone calls regarding health care reform proposals currently taking shape in Washington.

He'll also get to review the comments made at the American Legion hall as they will be forwarded to his office.

The majority who spoke against health care reform felt it simply isn't needed.

"We have the best health care system on earth," noted Mike Case, of Washington.

"We're the greatest country on earth thanks to the free-market system," added Jim Bronson, of Pittsfield, "and that's what's created our health care [system]."

Government can work

However, Vivian Werner, who organized the Lenox vigil, claimed federally run health insurance has already proven successful.

"All these people here would be in their graves if they didn't have Medicare," Werner said, noting the mostly elderly group holding candles in support of more government sponsored health care.

One of them, 80-year old S.E. Adelson, said the proposed reform will also provide health insurance to those who don't have any.

"It's impossible to think all kinds of people need help," Adelson said.

And whether socialized medicine has been successful in other countries also proved divisive at the Pittsfield meeting.

Milt Sartori, of Cheshire, who lived in Canada for four years, said our neighbors to the north make sure everyone has equal access to the best medical care available.

"If you're an Indian or Eskimo, you get the same coverage as the Prime Minister," noted Sartori.

But Bronson asked if Americans really want "government bureaucrats" running their health care system.

Pro or con, Bill Gunn of the Western Massachusetts 9/12 Project was impressed by all who spoke on the matter.

"You people seem to know more about this issue than the congressmen," Gunn said.

To reach Dick Lindsay: rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com, or (413) 496-6233.
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"The arts get a reward"
By Trevor Jones, The Berkshire Eagle, Saturday, September 19, 2009

STOCKBRIDGE -- Cultural institutions play a crucial role in the economy of the Berkshires, and artistic and legislative leaders from across the state gathered at the Norman Rockwell Museum on Friday to announce an influx of funding to help through these tough economic times.

U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, and a collection of speakers announced that $1.3 million in federal economic stimulus funds have been awarded to nonprofit arts organizations in Massachusetts. The funds are administered by the National Endowment for the Arts, which received $50 million in appropriations through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"I wish we could do 10 time as much," Olver said.

Locally, the NEA awarded $50,000 grants to the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art Foundation in North Adams, and the Rockwell Museum.

The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) awarded $10,000 stimulus grants to The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge and Shakespeare & Company in Lenox. The Colonial Theatre Association in Pittsfield received a $4,500 grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts.

"We would not be able to present this collection and share it with the nation," without the NEA and MCC funding, said Rockwell Museum CEO Laurie Norton Moffatt.

Moffatt said the funding for the Rockwell Museum will be used to maintain current staffing levels, help create a scholarship program, and allow online availability to the museum's catalog.

A recent MCC survey found that nearly half of the arts organizations that receive state funding have laid off at least one employee since the start of the economic recession. Many others have either reduced salaries, cut workers' hours, or are implementing hiring freezes.

MCC Executive Director Anita Walker said nonprofit arts organizations are important because they enrich communities and transform lives. She said the stimulus funding acknowledges the importance of their work.

"This was an amazing moment, because the money had impact," said Walker of the inclusion of NEA funding in the stimulus bill. "It confirmed that these are real jobs that matter in America."

Olver joked about the proportion of funds going to the Berkshires and not to the other areas in his district. But he said the creative economy plays a crucial role in Berkshire County.

"You have the venues, and they interconnect so well," he said.

Moffatt said the funds will not only aid the art institutions, but the greater community as well.

"We're keeping employees not only at the Norman Rockwell Museum, but employees through the restaurants, hotels, banks and all the beneficiaries of a robust creative economy," said Moffatt.
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To reach Trevor Jones: tjones@berkshireeagle.com - (413) 528-3660
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"Olver: Health care too costly"
By Ryan Hutton, North Adams Transcript, 10/10/2009

NORTH ADAMS -- The health care system in this country is broken -- that was the take home message from U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, at Friday’s Northern Berkshire Community Coalition discussion.

More than 100 people packed into the basement room of the First Baptist Church on Main Street to hear Olver, state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley, D-North Adams, and President of Northern Berkshire Health Rick Palmisano and their takes on the country’s possible health care reform.

Olver began by talking about the problems he saw in the country’s health care system. He described is as "without question and bar none" the most costly health care system in the world.

"We are now, during a recession, spending roughly 18 percent of our gross domestic product on health care," Olver said. "About 40 years ago, we were spending about 6 percent of our gross domestic product on health care."

He said that health care in America is too costly for the uninsured as well as those that have employer-supplied insurance. He said American health care is 50 percent more costly than the second highest health care rates of other industrialized nations, though he gave no names or exact numbers.

Olver said that with costs going up year after year, it will be over 20 percent of the country’s gross domestic product by the end of the next decade if nothing is done. He said private insurance premiums have risen 75 percent over the last decade while the average wages have only gone up 25.

"It’s a huge gap that’s going on and there’s an interesting statistic that shows the 12 largest health insurance companies’ profits have gone up in the same decade by 400 percent," Olver said. "And compensation of the CEOs of those companies have gone up 300 percent. That is just one example of how unsustainable this system is."

Olver pointed out that the uninsured in this country do get care but in the most expensive way possible -- through emergency room care. He said that this is inefficient because it skips over preventative care and right into crisis care. The biggest health problems in America, Olver said, are diabetes, heart disease and cancer, all of which are best treated with early, preventative care.

Right now, both the U.S. Senate and House are debating their own health care reform bills and, according to Olver, the key is more in reform of private health care than adding a public option. However, Olver said he does support the public option too. He said the House and Senate are trying to eliminate the preexisting condition "scam," mandate cutting the cost of administrative overhead and negotiating the ways to bring down the cost of prescription drugs.

"We’re also going to end the health care rationing by the insurance companies," Olver said. "You see the ads that say "Don’t allow the government to get between you, the patient, and the doctor, but at the moment it’s the insurance companies that are doing that."

Palmisano said that he thinks the goals of health care reform are "superb" and the public option is important, however he added that he had some serious misgivings about Olver’s claim that the government can offer more for less.

"If government does not commit to pay the cost of care, the money just won’t be there to fund the system," he said. "The bottom line is that we’re going to lose health care access. You cant expand and say you’re going to save money. How many of you can do more things by paying less?"

Palmisano said that both the government and the public need to get used to the idea of paying more for primary preventative care if they want to increase coverage. He said the big issue that America faces is; what are people willing to give up? He said Olver neglected to mention that two thirds of the governement-run Medicare budget is spent during the last six months of a person’s life.

"As Americans, we have it hard," he said. "We don’t give up easy. We don’t believe in death. We don’t believe in aging. We can live forever. We can fix you."

He said the American health care system is so expensive because it is the best when it comes to technologically advanced crisis care. In this country, he said, doctors can take incredibly sick people and manage to keep them alive. However, he said, unless the country commits to finding a real way to pay for better primary preventative care, the need for end-of-life crisi care is just going to go up.

Bosley straddled the line between the two men and said that planning is going to be very important when finding a way to pay for proper health care reform. To drive home the point that primary care is hard to come by, he joked that he was only at the event because one of the other panelists, Dr. William Kober, is his primary care doctor and it was the only way he could get to see him.

Bosley used the state’s health insurance requirement as an example of the challenge the nation faces. He said that when the state mandated all citizens have health insurance, it made a lot of people mad but it was a way to "get their arms around everyone". Bosley said that the success of that mandate is clear as only 2.6 percent of people in the state are still uninsured while the national average is between 10 and 15 percent. Because everyone is required to have health care, he said, preemptive care is more prevalent and people are healthier as a result.

Bosley likened it to occasionally changing the oil in a car engine as opposed to running the engine until it seizes and needs to be rebuilt.

"It’s cheaper and healthier to take preventative steps and that’s why I keep myself as a finely tuned machine." he said jokingly. "What will save us money is encouraging people to make better decisions and take better care of themselves early in life rather than at the end. That will save us the money. That’s how we’ll reform health care."
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"Neal rakes in the cash: Congressman attracts donors from DC"
By Jessica Leving SPECIAL TO THE (Worcester) TELEGRAM & GAZETTE, telegram.com - Sunday, October 25, 2009

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, has accumulated the fourth-largest campaign war chest among House incumbents so far in the 2010 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan organization that analyzes the campaign finance reports filed by candidates with the Federal Election Commission.

Mr. Neal, who has $2.7 million in cash on hand and has raised almost $750,000 so far this year, is far ahead of the other Massachusetts congressmen, none of whom even makes the top 25 on the list of largest war chests, according to OpenSecrets.org, the center’s Web site.

Mr. Neal, whose district spans the region from Springfield to Milford, is also the only area representative with opposition in 2010. Two candidates — Jay Fleitman and Tom Wesley — are seeking the Republican nomination. Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester, and Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, so far have no opponents.

Still, neither of Mr. Neal’s Republican challengers has raised a considerable amount of money and election experts say his seat is very safe.

“That Neal is taking in a great deal of money despite a dearth of competition likely means that plenty of powerful people and business interests want to stay close to him and remain in his good graces,” said Dave Levinthal, communications director for the Center for Responsive Politics.

“If you look at his career political contributions by ZIP code, two of his top five contributor ZIP codes are from Washington, D.C. — an indication that people in the nation’s capital, such as lobbyists, are also very interested in attempting to influence him,” Mr. Levinthal said.

Mr. Neal has raised $748,967, according to his third-quarter filing with the Federal Election Commission, and has spent $294,420. At the end of the 2008 election, Mr. Neal had $2.2 million unspent.

Mr. Neal sits on the House Ways and Means Committee, which makes him an influential person in the drafting of tax laws, and which could be a key reason major corporations have such an interest in him.

In 2008 and so far in this election cycle, two-thirds of Mr. Neal’s donations are from political action committees, which are private interest groups organized to donate to political candidates, according to OpenSecrets.

The top donors to Mr. Neal’s campaign so far, according to OpenSecrets, are KidsPAC, a Belmont-based children’s rights organization; Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, a major law firm that represents companies such as AT&T, Pohang Iron and Steel, Gila River Indian Community and PG&E Corp.; and the Investment Company Institute, the national association of investment companies.

The aggregate figures for each of these groups include donations from the group’s political action committee and individual donations from people who are associated with the group. Companies cannot make political contributions.

Ianthe Zabel, spokeswoman for the Investment Company Institute, said her organization “supports the re-election efforts of a broad range of members and policy leaders in both parties in the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate who understand the fund industry and shareholder issues.”

Mr. Neal isn’t holding on to all of the money he accumulates.

He has used a small amount, approximately $11,400 so far this election cycle, according to the center, to make donations to Democrats in contested campaigns and to the Democratic Party — a very common practice for senior members of Congress.

He made contributions of $1,000 each to U.S. Reps. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, who is running for governor, Dan Maffei, D-N.Y., Gerry Connolly, D-Va., Jim Langevin, D-R.I. and Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz.

Mr. Neal also helps raise money for Madison PAC, a leadership political action committee formed to help contribute to other candidates’ campaigns. So far in the 2010 election cycle, the PAC has raised $128,100 and donated $18,270.

“It’s a common practice for members in a safe position to use money to further the cause of other Democrats who need it more,” said David Wasserman, House of Representatives editor of the Cook Political Report. “It’s a way for these members to build influence within their caucus. In Neal’s case he obviously wants to climb higher in seniority on Ways and Means. He’ll be able to help his hometown of Springfield more, and that’s an incentive for him. The key will be to watch what he does in 2010.”

“As a senior member of the House, (Mr. Neal) has obligations to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and he has generously contributed to many of his colleagues running for re-election across the country,” said William Tranghese, spokesperson for Mr. Neal, adding that the congressman plans to make additional contributions in upcoming months. “Modern political campaigns are increasingly expensive and candidates need to be proactive when it comes to preparing for their re-election efforts.”

Mr. McGovern, who has raised the second-largest amount of money of the three Central Massachusetts representatives ($485,213 to date), has also made several donations to other Democrats’ campaigns.

For this election cycle, OpenSecrets reports that Mr. McGovern made approximately $14,400 in contributions — including $1,000 each to Abercrombie, to U.S. Reps. David R. Obey, D-Wis., and Scott Murphy, D-N.Y., and to Terry McAuliffe, who sought this year’s Democratic nomination for governor of Virginia.

Mr. McGovern has raised $485,213 for the 2010 race so far, and spent $252,559, according to his third-quarter filing with the Federal Election Commission.

The top three donors to his campaign so far are the American Association for Justice, an association of trial lawyers; AstraZeneca PLC, a leading pharmaceutical company, which has a supply facility in Westboro; and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Union, which represents more than 730,000 workers in the airline, shipbuilding and railroad industries, according to OpenSecrets.

“Two issues that McGovern supports that are very important to us are the Employee Free Choice Act and the Trade Reform Act,” said Frank Larkin, spokesman for the union. “Those are just two of the reasons that we’re supporting him.”

Of the total contributions to Mr. McGovern’s campaign, 33 percent have come from political action committees, OpenSecrets reports.

In contrast to Mr. Neal, Mr. McGovern is receiving the vast majority of his support from local Massachusetts interests, according to the geographic breakdown of donations provided by OpenSecrets. At this point in the 2010 campaign, only 34 percent of his contributions have come from out of state, compared to 68 percent for Mr. Neal.

Mr. Olver, whose First Congressional District spans the New York border to Leominster, has raised only 14 percent of his campaign contributions from out of state, according to OpenSecrets.

Mr. Olver, who has raised $227,023 thus far in the 2010 campaign cycle, was in the bottom half of OpenSecret’s list of House members for cash on hand.

“It’s probably all the money John Olver will need between now and when he retires,” Mr. Wasserman said. “The cost of advertising in the Springfield media market is relatively low. His district is so overwhelmingly Democratic that Republicans wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot-pole. Olver doesn’t set the world on fire, but in Amherst he is a deity.”

“Something else at work is that Massachusetts will lose a congressional seat in 2012,” Mr. Wasserman added. “And when that happens, the state Legislature, dominated by Boston politicians, is going to have to merge two districts somewhere in the state. The betting right now is that those districts are Neal’s and Olver’s, and the betting is that Olver will retire in 2012 if he doesn’t in 2010.”

Congressional districts are redrawn every 10 years when the U.S. Census Bureau reports are released, but the Bureau also publishes yearly population estimates that some outside organizations use to project congressional redistricting, said Robert Bernstein, a spokesperson for the bureau.

Mr. Olver has also spent less than the other Worcester-area representatives, with $130,381 in reported expenditures, according to OpenSecrets. The bulk of those expenditures (approximately $31,500) went to administrative costs, and only $2,000 went to another Democratic candidate— in March, Mr. Olver contributed that sum to the political action committee for U.S. Rep. Scott Murphy, D-N.Y., according to OpenSecrets.

Of those who have donated to Mr. Olver’s campaign so far, the top three donors are American Crystal Sugar, an agricultural cooperative; the Operating Engineers Union, which represents more than 400,000 heavy-equipment operators, mechanics, construction surveyors and operations and maintenance workers; and Global Petroleum. In all, 35 percent of Mr. Olver’s contributions have come from political action committees, OpenSecrets reports.

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"Capuano endorsed by Congressman John Olver"
Wicked Local, Somerville, November 10, 2009

Somerville — Congressman John W. Olver will formally endorse Mike Capuano for U.S. Senate during an “Open Mike” conversation at the Black Sheep in Amherst today at 5 p.m.

“I am happy and excited to endorse my colleague, Congressman Mike Capuano, for U.S. Senate,” said Olver. “Mike is a strong, proven champion of everything that Massachusetts needs right now — affordable health care, quality public education, living wages, retirement security, innovative transportation, clean energy, investments in science and technology that pay off, and corporate and financial institution responsibility.”

“He has used his principled voice and vote in Washington to stand up for those most vulnerable in our society, to honor our commitment to children, seniors and veterans, and to insist on fair treatment and civil rights for all Americans.”

“Mike has made a career in the House of fighting hard for jobs and economic growth for Massachusetts, and he will be even more effective in that role in the Senate.”

“He is a good friend, an outstanding leader in our congressional delegation, and he will make a great U.S. senator for the commonwealth.”

Olver is serving his ninth term representing the First Congressional District of Massachusetts. He is the only member of the Massachusetts delegation with a seat on the House Appropriations Committee. He chairs the subcommittee of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies. He also serves on the Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies and the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development.

“I am very proud to have John’s endorsement of my candidacy,” said Capuano. “We have fought together to bring federal transportation dollars back to Massachusetts and John has always been there with me, fighting to advance progressive causes. His commitment to my campaign demonstrates a recognition of what I’ve accomplished in the U.S. House and of what I can achieve as a senator.”

Other legislators from Western Massachusetts have also endorsed Capuano’s campaign for U.S. Senate.

“Mike has a tremendous passion that he brings to this job,” said state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley of the First Berkshire District. “It is that passion and commitment that separates him from the others. It is this passion that gets things done and reminds us of the people that we are working for.”

“Mike Capuano’s experience as an effective municipal leader and representative in Congress make him uniquely qualified to be our next United State senator,” said state Rep. Stephen Kulik of the First Franklin District. “He is a strong voice for education, the environment, health care, and building our economic future. He will be a great senator for Western Massachusetts, and I am proud to support him.”

“I’ve known Mike Capuano for more than 15 years, having first met him when we both served on the Massachusetts Municipal Association Board,” said state Rep. John W. Scibak of Second Hampshire District. “Mike recognizes the issues and challenges facing our municipalities and is the only candidate who understands that these may differ for cities versus towns and for metropolitan areas versus suburban or rural communities.”

State Rep. Ellen Story of the Third Hampshire District has also endorsed Congressman Capuano for U.S. Senate.

“I am grateful for the endorsement of these talented and committed individuals who fight for the interests of their constituents every day. I appreciate their confidence and their support of my candidacy,” said Capuano.

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"Earmarks’ cash flow lifts firms, lobbyists, lawmakers: Companies often bolster campaigns"
By Bryan Bender, Boston Globe Staff, November 12, 2009

WASHINGTON - kSARIA Corp., a small defense company in Lawrence, has landed $3.5 million in congressional handouts in recent years and now, thanks to Representative Niki Tsongas of Lowell, the company is in line for $2.5 million more.

The money is supposed to fund development of a fiber-optic cable repair tool, one that could, at least theoretically, one day be useful to the Navy. But the Navy never requested the tool and, with development no further along than a prototype, taxpayers have little to show for the multimillion-dollar investment.

kSARIA is one of 16 defense-related firms in Massachusetts that have secured nearly $30 million in federal funding in next year’s defense appropriations bill pending in Congress. The tally offers a lesson in the practice known as congressional earmarking, in which lawmakers direct federal money to specific projects, usually in their districts.

The phenomenon carries clear rewards for local companies as well as lobbyists and politicians: In Massachusetts, nearly 40 percent of the defense earmarks are slated to go to companies whose top executives contributed to the sponsor’s campaigns, hired former lawmakers or congressional aides to lobby on their behalf, or both.

Massachusetts lawmakers say the money will help create jobs and eventually prove useful to the military. The earmarks were chosen after careful review, they maintain, and campaign contributions played no role in the decisions.

For example, a Tsongas spokesman, John Noble, said the money for kSARIA, which employs 25 people, “will create and retain jobs in an area where unemployment is near 20 percent.’’

But critics say earmarking is also central to a system of political backscratching.

“An enormous percentage of earmarks are going to campaign contributors,’’ said Laura Peterson, a senior analyst at Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan watchdog that tracks government spending. “If the companies are smart they will hire a [lobbyist] that has a relationship with lawmakers on the right committee, and then they will sell their project to the lawmaker.’’

Peterson’s organization found that campaign contributors who gave a total of $823,000 to members of the subcommittee who drafted the defense bill are set to receive 148 earmarks worth $461 million.

“We think the process is broken,’’ she said. “It creates fertile ground for the pay-to-play system.’’

There are no allegations of wrongdoing by Massachusetts lawmakers, unlike others - including Representative John Murtha of Pennsylvania, chairman of the defense subcommittee - who have secured earmarks for clients of the lobbying firm PMA Group. At least a half a dozen lawmakers are under scrutiny by the House Ethics Committee for their dealings with the lobbying firm, whose offices have were raided by the FBI earlier this year.

Instead, Massachusetts representatives are partaking in a ritual embedded in the Capitol Hill culture - and one that, despite its cost to taxpayers, many of their constituents say they count on.

kSARIA’s chief executive says assistance from Tsongas and her predecessor in the Fifth Congressional District seat, Marty Meehan, has been crucial. “They have been very helpful,’’ said Sebastian Sicari, who donated $1,000 to Tsongas in 2007, according to campaign records.

kSARIA’s lobbyist is Bill McCann, Meehan’s former chief of staff, who worked in Meehan’s congressional office when the earmark was first requested.

“I worked with [Tsongas’] office,’’ said McCann, who contributed at least $7,000 to her primary campaign and general election campaigns since 2007, Federal Election Commission records show. “The value we have is understanding the process.’’

Noble said the money for kSARIA has broad support in the district and as with other earmarks slated for Massachusetts, Senator John F. Kerry also was enlisted in the effort, cosponsoring funding in the Senate version of the appropriations bill. Other earmarks are also in the Senate version, and the two bills are being negotiated in a conference committee.

Another Massachusetts earmark beneficiary has been Scientific Systems Co. in Woburn, which was assisted by Representative Edward J. Markey, a Malden Democrat.

The company, which employs 53 people, received $800,000 last year to develop a navigation system that the Pentagon did not request. The company is slated to receive the same amount next year.

Raman Mehra, the founder of Scientific Systems, has contributed $2,000 to Markey’s campaign since 2008, while another top executive, Andrew Bennett, gave $250, the records show. The company did not respond to several requests for comment.

The company’s main lobbyist, according to federal records, is Steven A. Wolfe, who served as a senior policy adviser on military issues to Senator Edward M. Kennedy and is now a senior executive at Cardinal Point Partners, a government relations firm.

The Woburn company has paid at least $80,000 to Wolfe’s firm in the last two years, including to secure backing for the project from both Kerry and, before Kennedy’s death in August, his old boss.

Wolfe contributed at least $2,000 to Markey’s 2008 campaign, according to public records. Wolfe declined to comment. “We have a firm policy of not talking about our client’s business with outside folks,’’ he said.

Markey’s spokesman, Daniel Reilly, insisted that “campaign contributions do not play a part in the selection process.’’

He said the money will “help protect local jobs in these difficult economic times’’ and if the project is successful, the military will have access to precise navigation in case of a failure of the Global Positioning System, the primary satellite guidance system for military and civilian use.

In another case, after being turned down by the military, a tiny Pittsfield company with just three employees is now in line to receive $1 million - in addition to $1.2 million approved last year. The money was inserted through an earmark sponsored by Representative John Olver.

“Unfortunately, there is not a mechanism to approach the military,’’ said Gene Krug, the president of Springboard CIM, who has contributed $1,250 to Olver’s campaign coffers. “You have to kind of go to the top and have it filter back down.’’

Krug is hoping to develop a new manufacturing process that will make better-fitting ceramic body armor for troops. He acknowledges that the technology, known as ceramic injection molding, “is still very developmental.’’ Krug doesn’t expect to have a product to sell until the “2012 timeframe,’’ and said he will probably need millions more to succeed.

Olver also included $1 million for Fosta-Tek Optics, which employs about 150 people in Leominster, to develop new optical sites for rifles. The company first received a $1.2 million earmark for the project from Olver over the last two years, his office said, adding that he hopes the company will grow.

Fosta-Tek’s main lobbyists are David Urban, a longtime aide to Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, and Michael Barbera, a former aide to Representative Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, according to lobby disclosure records.

Olver’s spokeswoman, Sara Merriam, says her boss employs four economic development aides who “thoroughly research [earmark] requests’’ to determine which ones hold the most promise for the economy in Central and Western Massachusetts.

“Per congressional ethics rule,’’ she added, “Congressman Olver and his staff keep a strict separation between congressional and campaign activity.’’

Some lawmakers want earmark money destined for private companies to be awarded through a bidding process. But there is strong opposition to such a measure in both parties.

Even if such a requirement were adopted, watchdog groups say they doubt bidding would be fair, because the earmark language is commonly tailored for a specific product and manufacturer.

Critics of the earmarking also assert that whether the individual projects are worthwhile or not is almost beside the point.

“The process is largely the problem here,’’ said Mandy Smithberger, national security investigator at the Project on Government Oversight, another watchdog group. “The only review that occurs is in the office of the member requesting them.’’
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Bryan Bender can be reached at bender@globe.com.
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"Lawmaker wants readers to know where she stands on earmarks"
The Boston Globe (Online), Letters, November 17, 2009

RE “EARMARKS’ cash flow lifts firms, lobbyists, lawmakers" (Page A1, Nov. 12): I wholeheartedly disagree with the premise of the article, and I think Globe readers deserve to know my priorities when considering appropriations requests.

Each year, I meet with local elected officials, nonprofit organizations, and employers to determine where my district could benefit most from federal investment. I submit to the Appropriations Committee those projects that will retain and create jobs, advance economic development, and improve the quality of life for Fifth District residents.

When I was elected, I took the extra step of publicly disclosing all of the federal investments that I asked the Appropriations Committee to consider - something the Ethics Committee now requires of all members.

In addition, new transparency requirements mandate that any earmark must go through a competitive bid process, meaning that the military has the ultimate say in where the money goes.

Your article suggests that kSARIA, a company in Lawrence that manufactures innovative products for the Navy, will receive federal funds for reasons unrelated to the merit of its work. Nothing could be further from the truth.

My support for kSARIA’s request for funding, which was also supported by Senator Kerry, the late Senator Kennedy, and six members of the Virginia delegation, is based on two factors. First, kSARIA develops technologies with demonstrated benefits to the Navy, which the Navy has acknowledged. Second, this funding is helping kSARIA create jobs and employ residents in an area of my district where unemployment is nearly 20 percent.

Niki Tsongas
Democrat of Lowell
Washington

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"Change is due in health care"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letters to the Editor, Friday, November 13, 2009

Thanks to Rep. Olver for his courageous vote for the House health care reform bill. I have personal experience with our broken health insurance system. I worked for a paper mill in Lee for 36 years. The mill closed last year and over 200 employees were left without coverage. Our rates had increased from less than $100 per month to over $600 per month and benefits were cut drastically during the last five years.

Only those who are fortunate enough to be employed and have decent coverage think that our system works. Insurance companies' first concerns are to stockholders and executives. They care about returning a profit and do not care about their customers. It is time for a change!

LEON SERRA
Pittsfield, Massachusetts
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JOAN VENNOCHI: "The strength of the old boy network in Massachusetts"
By Joan Vennochi, The Boston Globe, December 3, 2009

IT’S ENDORSEMENT deja vu all over again. Nearly all the guys are with the guy.

Seven male members of the Massachusetts delegation - Representatives Barney Frank, Stephen Lynch, Edward Markey, Jim McGovern, Richard Neal, John Olver, and John Tierney - like their colleague Michael Capuano in the race to win the Senate seat held by the late Ted Kennedy.

Representative Bill Delahunt has yet to endorse.

The only woman in the Bay State delegation - Representative Niki Tsongas - backs Attorney General Martha Coakley. If Coakley wins next week’s Democratic primary and takes the general election, she will be the first woman to represent Massachusetts in the Senate.

“Fascinating,’’ blogged WBZ political analyst Jon Keller, after former Governor Michael Dukakis gave his first endorsement blessing since leaving office nearly 20 years ago to Capuano. “The only major Massachusetts elected official who has seen fit to endorse the only woman in the field for US Senate is . . . the only major female elected official . . .’’

Of course, Dukakis probably felt as much pressure from the speaker of his house - his wife, Kitty, a Capuano backer - as the Massachusetts delegation felt from Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of their House and also a Capuano supporter.

Fascinating it all is, and familiar, too. In the Massachusetts presidential primary in 2008, nearly all the leading male politicians backed Barack Obama, upsetting a circle of prominent women who backed Clinton. In the end, Clinton overwhelmingly won Massachusetts, but the gender divide left a bitter taste.

What’s happening in 2009 is a reminder that in Massachusetts, the definition of progressive politics allows the Democratic political establishment to maintain the highest levels of elective office as a mostly-men’s club.

Massachusetts has sent only four women to Congress and two of them followed their husbands.

Edith Nourse Rogers, a Lowell Republican, won election in 1925, following the death of her husband, and served until her death in 1960. Niki Tsongas, also of Lowell, was elected to the House in 2007. Her husband, Paul Tsongas, served in the House from 1975 to 1979 and in the Senate, from 1979 to 1985. He retired from the Senate after he was diagnosed with cancer and died in 1997.

Margaret Heckler, a Wellesley Republican, was the first woman from Massachusetts elected to Congress without a husband preceding her. She served from 1967 to 1983. Representative Louise Day Hicks, a Democrat from South Boston, won election in 1970. She was defeated in 1972 by Joe Moakley, who ran as an independent and switched his affiliation back to Democrat.

It’s not surprising that Capuano’s colleagues would stick with him in this contest. Once again, it illustrates the strength of the old boy network in Massachusetts politics.

If Delahunt goes with the rest of the delegation, he would be the last piece of that network to fall Capuano’s way. He’s also considered one of the closest to the Kennedy family.

When Ted Kennedy Jr. announced that he would not endorse anyone in this special election, he said he might feel differently if a close personal friend - “one of the Bill Delahunts or the Ed Markeys of the world’’ - was in the running.

But Delahunt also has a background as a longtime prosecutor with an innovative approach on women’s issues. During his tenure of nearly two decades as district attorney of Norfolk County, he developed the first prosecutorial unit focused on domestic violence in the United States.His prosecutorial background gives him some reason to be sympathetic to the cause of a prosecutor such as Coakley, who is trying to learn the language of lawmaker in a short period of time.

Coakley is an imperfect female candidate running against three imperfect men. Now, it’s up to the voters to decide whose imperfections they want to overlook - and in the process, whether they want to make history. The men of the Massachusetts delegation are happy to repeat it.
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Joan Vennochi can be reached at vennochi@globe.com.
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"Time for Olver to step aside"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letters, 1/12/2010

I do not know if John Olver, our representative in Congress, will run again in 2010. However, even though I am a registered Democrat, I hope Mr. Olver will act out of a sense of what is fair and announce his retirement from that body in the very near future.

There are several reasons I feel this way -- not necessarily in the following order. The 2010 census may well result in Massachusetts losing one congressional seat. The best bet is that it will be the First Congressional District presently held by Mr. Olver.

If indeed we do lose that seat, Mr. Olver will likely not be a viable candidate after redistricting, even if he chooses to run in 2012. And I believe that is doubtful.

The voters of the First Congressional District deserve to have a person elected to Congress in 2010 who can gain enough recognition in Western Massachusetts to have a chance to win in 2012 after redistricting. Even if gerrymandering takes place.

Also, Mr. Olver has held the office for 18 years now. Like most of the rest of the sitting members of Congress, that is too long.

I would thank Mr. Olver for his service. But, we continue to need change, and that means new blood.

JIM EDELMAN
Monterey, Massachusetts
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www.topix.net/forum/source/berkshire-eagle/TLF7GH1FC5QHP22NT
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"Time for Olver to step aside"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letter to the Editor, April 13, 2010

In 2009 our congressman, John Olver, voted in favor of appropriating over $80 billion to continue funding our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

These are not "winnable" wars. At one time I though Rep. Olver was intelligent enough to understand this. The man is out of touch in many ways.

As a resident of the first congressional district and a registered Democrat, I am more than a little disappointed in him. Mr. Olver, please step aside.

JIM EDELMAN
Monterey, Massachusetts
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www.topix.net/forum/source/berkshire-eagle/TI7H0UD1CN39BS7IP
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"Independent steps up with bid for Olver's seat"
By RICHIE DAVIS, [Greenfield] Recorder Staff, February 10, 2010

SOUTHAMPTON -- Retired political science professor Michael Engel has announced that he is running as an independent candidate for the First District Congress-ional seat held by John W. Olver, D-Amherst.

Engel, an emeritus professor at Westfield State College, said he is launching his campaign to collect 2,000 voter signatures beginning this week because ''It seems to be time to raise that message, that the system is broken. We need to start building a new one. This is my way to try to do something about it.''

The 65-year-old former Easthampton selectman and former Easthampton School Committee member said he decided to run for the congressional seat last September.

''The economy is in tatters,'' the Southampton resident says on his Web site. ''The so-called 'recovery' is visible only on Wall Street and bank balance sheets. The rest of us are losing our jobs, our homes and our savings. … We have a tax system that penalizes wage workers, small businesspeople and middle-income families; an escalating war in Afghanistan; a dysfunctional health-care system that needs restructuring, not just reform; and an increasingly unlivable environment.''

For the full version of this story, you may purchase The Recorder electronically, by returning to the home page and clicking under ''E-Edition'' on the right side of your screen, or you can purchase the print edition, which is available throughout Franklin County, Massachusetts.

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"The ancient John Olver, in the bluest of the blue First Congressional District, has two Republican challengers, plus an independent."

Source: "New day in Massachusetts politics, but same old hackerama" (By Howie Carr, Columnist, www.bostonherald.com - February 14, 2010)

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"Olver contributes to a great victory"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letter to the Editor, March 25, 2010

Social Security. Medicare. Civil rights. These are historic legislative victories that changed the lives of generations of Americans for the better.

Now, thanks in part to Congressman John Olver, we will soon be able to add health care reform to that list.

It's about time. America has been trying to fix our health care system for decades, and while Washington debated and then Republicans obstructed, people in America died or went bankrupt trying to pay for health insurance.

This bill is not perfect, and we must work to continue to improve it. But this is history, and Congressman Olver's "yes" vote helped make it happen.

I'm proud to have a representative in Washington who understands what it means to stand up for working families and to be on the right side of history.

CINDY BIRD
Adams, Massachusetts
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www.topix.net/forum/source/berkshire-eagle/TNCUTDJ2V66FLN8P3
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"Olver, Kerry stood up for America"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letter to the Editor, April 12, 2010

Now that health care reform is a reality, many Massachusetts residents, particularly those suffering from heart disease, stroke and other chronic illnesses, will have improved access to affordable, quality health care. As an American Heart volunteer and a parent of a heart disease survivor I'm pleased that Congressman Olver and Senator Kerry made the right choice and voted in favor of health care reform.

My family, like so many who have children with congenital heart defects, struggle daily with fears that our coverage will not be enough if there is one more surgery. Among the key provisions that will benefit Massachusetts residents, lifetime and annual limits on benefits will be eliminated to help protect my family and others from not having to face that fear. For many of us, high medical expenses have depleted household budgets and forced us to make difficult choices. This legislation will expand research and broaden its scope to help those currently living with congenital heart disease and perhaps, one day, find a cure.

Congressman Olver and Senator Kerry should be commended for standing up for patients and all Americans to improve the health care system.

AMY WOLFE
Pittsfield, Massachusetts
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www.topix.net/forum/source/berkshire-eagle/TFE7JQM65AG4R0DAG
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POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE - Congress
"Olver will not seek chairmanship of House Appropriations Committee"
Posted by Stephanie Vallejo, By Susan Milligan, Boston Globe Staff, May 6, 2010

WASHINGTON -- Jockeying has begun over a looming vacancy in the House Appropriations Committee leadership, so Massachusetts residents may be permitted to daydream about the extra clout the state would wield if Representative John Olver of Holyoke, who is a subcommittee chairman, assumed the overall chairmanship of the powerful committee.

But Olver today gave a clear answer: Keep dreaming.

"Of course I'm interested in the chairmanship. I'm interested in who is the chairman," Olver said, declaring that he has no personal aspirations to succeed the retiring Wisconsin Democrat David Obey.

As tenth in seniority (including Obey), Olver, a 19-year House veteran, is a bit too far down the ladder to compete for the chairmanship, although House rules don't preclude it. But Olver is already a "cardinal,'' meaning he chairs an appropriations subcommittee on transportation, housing and urban development. Appropriations subcommittee chairmanship are unusually powerful, since the panels determined how much money the government spends on federal programs.

The Appropriations Committee itself is considered so powerful that its members are not allowed to serve on any other committees.

Olver noted that Massachusetts is already blessed with one chairmanship -- Representative Barney Frank heads the Financial Services Committee. And the number may well grow, he added. Representative Richard E. Neal,. Democrat of Springfield, is a strong candidate to take the House Ways and means Committee chairmanship next year. Representative James McGovern, Democrat of Worcester, is second in seniority on the House Rules Committee, which writes the final versions of all bills and determined what amendments, if any, may be offered on the floor.

Representative Louise Slaughter, Democrat of New York, currently chairs the panel and said Thursday she intends to run for re-election. While the 81-year-old lawmaker is known on the Hill for having more energy than many 20-something staffers, she presumably will retire before the 50-year-old Massachusetts congressman, giving McGovern a shot at the chairmanship once held by the late Representative Joseph Moakley of Boston. McGovern was once a staffer for Moakley.

Representative Edward Markey, meanwhile, already chairs the House Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming, and is a subcommittee chair and senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Several other members of the delegation hold subcommittee chairmanships.

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"Olver: Dems to keep control"
By Trevor Jones, Berkshire Eagle Staff, September 2, 2010

PITTSFIELD -- Rep. John Olver doesn't believe Democrats will lose control of either house of Congress this fall, but he still feared the direction Republicans would take the country should they return to power, he said during a meeting with The Eagle editorial board on Tuesday.

"I don't think we'll lose both [houses] or either, but we'll see," Olver said. However, he also didn't expect to be in the minority before Republicans took the control of Congress in 1994, he said.

The Amherst Democrat, who has served the Berkshires in Congress since 1991, praised the efforts of the Obama administration and Congress to pass reforms in health care and finance, as well as the passage of the stimulus bill in early 2009.

"We need legislation, we need to have these reforms," he said.

But were the Republicans to take control, Olver said, it could mean efforts to repeal a number of the Democratic-led initiatives.

Olver, who faces re-election challenges from Republican William L. Gunn Jr. and Independent Michael Engel, said there has been discussion among Republicans to repeal the new health care law, and said increased attention to environmental affairs under the Obama administration could be in danger.

"If we go back into the minority, my guess is there will be a clear effort to stop what has been started or not fund it any longer," he said.

In terms of added efforts to stimulate the economy and boost job growth, Olver said it's possible two bills offering aid to small businesses could be passed, but tax cuts, a common push among Republicans, are not the answer.

"Tax-cutting is the least efficient way of to have an impact upon the economy," he said. "The things that have the greatest impact are those which are immediately spent like food stamps ... and unemployment compensation."

Olver went on to say Republicans have obstructed much of the Obama administration's efforts during the past two years, calling the Senate a "black hole" because of the legislative pace there.

"The failure of the Obama administration is to [Republicans'] political, they believe, their political gain, and they are doing whatever they can to obstruct wherever they can," he said.

Meanwhile, with declining population figures, Olver said there was a 75-percent chance Massachusetts would lose one of its seats in the House, and it would be up to the state Legislature to redistrict. However, Olver declined to comment on his political future beyond the current campaign.

"I can't worry about that, I've got to worry about what I'm doing, what we [Congress] have got to do."
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To reach Trevor Jones: tjones@berkshireeagle.com, or (413) 528-3660.
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"Olver: Health reforms on way Young adults, elderly among beneficiaries"
By Jennifer Huberdeau, North Adams Transcript, September 8, 2010

NORTH ADAMS -- Although most of the health coverage changes enacted under the national health care reform law, enacted by Congress earlier this year, won’t take effect until 2014, a spate of initiatives aimed at increasing coverage to young adults, the elderly, individuals with pre-existing conditions and aiding small business are being implemented this month.

"With the changes that are going into effect, we believe we’ve extended the Medicare Insurance Trust Fund for about 10 years," U.S. Rep. John W. Olver said Tuesday at a forum of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition. "While more needs to be done, this month’s legislation to close gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage, known as the ‘doughnut hole,’ goes into effect."

Subscribers to Medicare Part D, who fall in the hole, will begin receiving a $250 rebate for prescription drugs this year. Beginning in 2011, subscribers will receive a 50 percent discount on major brand-name prescription drugs.

"In essence, we’ll phase out the gap completely by 2020 through the use of this subsidy," Olver said. "We won’t have many residents in Massachusetts who will fall into this category, since many have already taken advantage of the state’s Prescription Advantage program."

Medicare recipients will also have the added benefit of annual preventative screenings, which until now, only had the benefit of one preventative screening when they joined the health plan.

Al Nelson, a member of the coalition’s board, expressed the concern of many senior residents, who fear the reduction and elimination of Medicare benefits.

"We have [news] networks that keep repeating that Medicare is going to be reduced or eliminated and that Social Security benefits will never go up again," he said. "When you hear something like that continue to be repeated, you become fearful."

Olver said that plenty of misinformation about both Medicare and Social Security is out there.

"We as Democrats would not ever knowingly hurt the Social Security Trust Fund," he said. "The Social Security Trust Fund is in much better shape than the Medicare Insurance Trust Fund, which would have permanently gone into the red in 2017 without the measures taken by health care reform."

Much of the national health care reform law focuses on preventative and primary care -- an issue that the United States doesn’t handle very well, Olver said.

"By increasing preventative and primary care visits, such as screenings for diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer, we won’t get to the end-of-life kinds of high-technology payments and high-range costs," he said. "Over the next five years, we’re investing $13 billion in health care clinics, specifically in rural areas with high poverty and high Medicare populations where preventative and primary care isn’t readily available. We also have to put out incentives to produce primary care personnel and that takes time."

As part of the changes that go into effect on Sept. 23, a lengthy list of preventative care services will be provided with-out out-of-pocket expenses for people on new employer-sponsored plans. The rule goes into effect on Jan. 1 for people buying individual insurance.

Preventive services include screenings for high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, depression, HIV, high cholesterol and some kinds of cancer. Colorectal cancer screenings for adults over 50 will be covered, as will mammograms for women over 40, and cervical cancer screenings for women.

For children, services such as autism and developmental screenings, hearing and vision screenings, and alcohol and drug use assessments for adolescents will be covered.

"Many people have heard from their grandparents and their parents that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," Olver said. "Diseases are easier to prevent then the expensive cures we use today."

However, many who are insured through their employers won’t see those changes at all because of a provision in the law that allowed existing plans to be "grandfathered." The law will limit the amount of employees pay for their co-pays and deductibles and how much premiums can be increased for those plans that are grandfathered.

Also going into effect on Sept. 23 is the elimination of health plans denying coverage to children and teens up to the age of 19 because of pre-existing conditions, beginning when a health insurance policy renews.

Adult children up to the age of 26, who don’t have health insurance offered by their employer, will also be able to remain on their parents health insurance plans beginning on Sept. 23.

"While the law goes into effect on Sept. 23, the children can’t go onto their parents plans until the next open enrollment period," Charles "Chip" Joffe-Halpern, executive director of ECU Health Care, pointed out.

There’s also a provision for small businesses, who provide insurance for employees, allowing them to receive a tax credit equal to 35 percent of their contribution toward the premium cost, if they contribute at least 50 percent.

To qualify, businesses must employ fewer than 25 full-time people who earn less than $50,000 on average.

"It’s a major benefit for small business," Olver said. "In Massachusetts, more than 99 percent of employers provide insurance to their employees."

Many in attendance questioned how health care reform would impact their bottom line -- with insurance companies being required to cover more preventative services, could premiums increase?

"We’re doing a number of things to save money," Olver said. "Under the old system, which we’re still operating under, insurance companies expend 30 percent of the premiums they raise on administrative costs -- political contributions, lobbying and advertising. When fully in place in 2014, they’ll only be able to spend 15 percent of premiums on overhead -- that’s $2 trillion in premiums that will be saved."

He also said the legislation will change the way Medicare payments are made, which has led for-profit hospitals to create "assembly line" procedures for patients -- requiring many tests and procedures for patients that aren’t necessary but earn them extra money.

By 2014, states will also have health care exchanges in place, allowing small employers and individuals purchasing their own plans to opt-in to a network of health care coverage plans that will offer subsidies based on income.

"The only thing harder than public health care legislation is implementing health care legislation," Joffe-Halpern said. "The implementation is just beginning."

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"Olver prodded to debate"
By Jenn SmithBerkshire Eagle Staff, October 13, 2010

PITTSFIELD -- The two challengers to incumbent Congressman John Olver say they’re disappointed the representative has declined to participate in a Springfield-area debate. According to an Olver campaign spokeswoman, all three candidates agreed to three debates at the onset of the campaign, and this wasn’t one of them.

Independent Michael Engel on Wednesday said Olver "has refused to participate" in a debate scheduled to be broadcast on Oct. 17 on the WWLP Channel 22 News "InFocus" program.

In a news release, Engel said that according to Mark Wiernasz, a producer at the station, Olver’s campaign manager cited a "busy schedule in Washington as they finish the session and the very short window available once Congress formally adjourns in mid-October."

Engel called the explanation a "transparently phony excuse."

"When the invitations went out, the debate was originally scheduled for the third week in October, long after Congress has gone out of session," said Engel, a retired political science professor from Easthampton. "John Olver has been visible at ribbon-cuttings and community events since mid-September, so it’s obvious there is no ‘busy schedule’ preventing his participation."

Engel said he believes the real reason may be the debate’s unique format: Candidates will ask each other questions rather than answer from the media.

"That arrangement is not one that Rep. Olver is comfortable with because it allows his opponents to challenge him directly," said Engel.

The other challenger, Republican Bill Gunn Jr. of Ware, said if Olver wanted to debate he could.

"But he is still doing [other debates] and I appreciate that," said Gunn in a phone interview Wednesday.

"All I can say is I’ve never debated before. This is all new to me," said Gunn. "But I am looking forward to showing the differences between, Mr. Olver, Mr. Engel and myself."

Olver’s campaign director Debra Guachione said that Olver sent a letter on Sept. 3 inviting his challengers to participate in a series of three public debates; all accepted the terms.

"We feel that it’s very important to have public debates, and we felt we proposed three very different styles of debates that would reach the most corners of the district," said Guachione.

The confirmed debates among all three First District candidates include:

. Oct. 20: A television debate during Jim Madigan’s twice-broadcast "The State We’re In" program at WGBY TV in Springfield.

. Oct. 22: An hour-long radio debate hosted by Larry Kratka live on WBEC 1420 AM and re-broadcast on the Berkshire News Network stations throughout Berkshire County, including WNAW AM 1230 in North Adams, WSBS AM 860 in Great Barrington, and 100.1 FM, 94.1 FM, 1110 AM, and Live 95.9 (WBEC-FM) in Pittsfield.

. Oct. 26, an auditorium-style debate at Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, with a moderator from the college and a panel of three reporters, one from the Gardner News, one from the Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise and one from WEIM-Fitchburg.
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U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, right, campaigns in Gardner today with City Councilor Ronald F. Cormier. (GEORGE BARNES)
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"John Olver repeats in 1st District"
TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF - telegram.com - November 2, 2010

Bucking the anti-incumbent trend and fending off a determined campaign from a Republican opponent who made his name with the Tea Party movement, U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, will return to Congress for two more years.

With Mr. Olver holding a commanding lead over both Republican William L. Gunn Jr. of Ware and Independent Michael Engel of Southampton, the Associated Press has declared Mr. Olver the winner in what was a hard-fought campaign.

When he completes this term, Mr. Olver, 74, of Amherst, will have served in Congress 21 years and as a public official 43 years.

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Current congressional districts


"Unbeatable since ’68, Olver threatened by redistricting"
By Mark Arsenault, Boston Globe Staff, April 21, 2011

WASHINGTON — The congressman appears to lack the basic skill set of politics. John Olver is wonkish, rarely quotable, and not much of an orator — and this is according to his friends.

The former chemistry teacher dryly notes that he still talks in 50-minute blocks. He can bury weary listeners in minutia.

“He’s an enigma wrapped in a paradox — the most unlikely politician,’’ state Senator Stanley Rosenberg, a Democrat, said of Olver, his former boss.

The unlikely politician from the First Congressional District has also proven to be unbeatable. Olver has won a state or federal election every two years since 1968, plus one special election to Congress, giving him more continuous time in public office than any of his Bay State colleagues.

But with redistricting and the loss of one US House seat hanging over the state’s 10-member delegation, speculation is building over which one will lose a brutal game of political roulette.

Olver could be the odd man out.

“He’s from an obviously gerry mandered district and is also the oldest guy in the delegation,’’ said Dennis Hale, a Boston College political scientist.

“I think Olver and his staff know that the finger is pointing in their direction,’’ he said.

The 74-year-old Olver, 6-foot-4 and gangly, with a deep voice, could make things easy for district mapmakers by retiring, which would open a path to redraw the congressional lines without forcing Democratic incumbents into primaries against each other. But Olver slapped down retirement speculation in December, announcing his intention to run for a 12th term before he was sworn in to his 11th, in January.

He revealed this week that his wife, Rose, a professor at Amherst College, has started treatment for ovarian cancer but said her illness “for the time being’’ has not affected his plans. He continues to raise money for the next campaign.

State officials will hold public hearings across Massachusetts in the coming months before redrawing the lines that will eliminate one congressional district, starting with the next election.

Olver insists he does not dwell on who might lose out. “We’re all in exactly the same boat,’’ he said.

Olver remains a lone wolf among the state’s chummy and media-savvy delegation. He does not seek out statewide news coverage and seems to be missing the standard political genes for back-slapping and self-promotion.

“I’ve been most fascinated about how unsuited I was for the job,’’ Olver, a Democrat, said in a rare interview. “But once I get my head into a job, then I do the job.’’

Over 20 years in Washington, Olver has risen by seniority and a mastery of arcane policy details to a potent position: As the former chairman, now ranking minority member, of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development, Olver has delivered money for projects in his district and amassed a bulging campaign war chest to fortify his position.

He has been ranked the “most liberal’’ member of the House, yet thrives in a district that had been held by Republicans from the 19th century to his win in 1991. During last November’s Republican wave, Olver won reelection with 60 percent of the vote.

“Politics is not my field,’’ Olver insisted, despite 42 years on the job.

“I’m rather too, too — eh — shy and a little bit too academic and so forth. . . . Sometimes I can be good. I’ve learned how to survive in it, that’s obvious,’’ he said.

He has learned to survive while traversing the state’s most far-flung congressional district. The First District covers some 40 percent of the state, stretching from the liberal college towns of the Pioneer Valley to the struggling former mill cities of northern Worcester County.

Olver is a transplant to the district. He was born in northeast Pennsylvania in 1936 and grew up on a dairy farm. He attended a schoolhouse in which four grades learned together in one room; Olver managed to complete more than one grade per year and graduated at 15. He earned a bachelor of science degree in 1955, two years before the launch of Sputnik, then got his master’s from Tufts University and a doctorate in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He taught chemistry at the University of Massachusetts in the 1960s. A love of scientific data still permeates his life — even his affection for sports: Though a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan, Olver finds baseball “a rather slow game.’’ He follows the sport through the box scores and daily standings, preferring the data produced by baseball to the actual games.

At home in Amherst, Olver is a devoted gardener, though admits he would starve if forced to live on what he grew. He still rock-climbs for fun.

In 2006, Olver and James McGovern were among five members of Congress arrested for civil disobedience while protesting the Darfur genocide. The Bay State representatives shared a cell.

“I’m glad they took my shoelaces because John was reading the graffiti [aloud] and I think I might have hanged myself,’’ said McGovern, a Worcester Democrat.

It was Olver’s enthusiasm for factoids and picky details that caught the attention of state Democratic leaders four decades ago, soon after he won a seat in the state Legislature. “Pretty soon I’m on the Ways and Means Committee because the leadership understood that I would understand the details of all these budgets really well,’’ said Olver. He championed liberal policies, became an early supporter of gay-rights legislation, and ended up the nemesis of tax-cap advocates.

In 1991, Congressman Silvio Conte, a moderate Republican, died in office. The flamboyant Conte was famous for roaring around the district in a fire-red convertible and for wearing a pig’s snout to protest pork-barrel spending. Into this charisma void stepped Olver, by then a state senator. “He was about as under the radar as Silvio Conte was over the screen,’’ said Anthony Cignoli, a Springfield political consultant.

Yet Olver defeated Republican Steve Pierce in a close race. Over the next two decades, Olver built a reputation as a quiet workhorse, said UMass political scientist Ray La Raja. “Olver plays an inside game. He’s an institution builder, which means you don’t tear down people you disagree with,’’ he said.

“He can afford to play the quiet game because he’s not running for higher office, and when you do that you make this steady rise through the leadership if they have trust in you.’’

From his post on the Appropriations Committee, Olver has drawn the support of powerful special interests, including labor unions and the defense industry. In the 2010 campaign, Olver outspent Republican challenger William Gunn by $908,000 to $53,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. About half of Olver’s money came from special-interest political action committees.

Gunn, in an interview, said Olver “is a wonderful example of the problems with our government’’ due to “his propensity for spending.’’ He gives Olver credit, however, for standing on his liberal record during the campaign: “This guy is who he appears to be.’’

And that is very much the same person who was elected 42 years ago. Olver insists he has not changed much since entering politics. “I’m loyal,’’ said Olver, “loyal to my instincts.’’

Cignoli, the consultant, agreed: “This is still the chemistry professor who ran for the Massachusetts House in 1968.’’

In the redistricting debate, many eyes will be on Rosenberg, the Democratic lawmaker from Amherst who is Olver’s friend. As Senate chairman of the state’s redistricting committee, Rosenberg wields significant power over the process, said David Wasserman, who studies House races for Cook Political Report.

He said Rosenberg is likely to “fight to preserve the Pioneer Valley in a district separate from industrial Springfield.’’

In an interview, Rosenberg said it is “much too early’’ to speculate about where the new lines will go.

Mark Arsenault can be reached at marsenault@globe.com.

John Olver

Age: 74

Hometown: Amherst

Positions: US representative, First Congressional District; first elected in a special election, 1991; state senator, 1973-91; state representative, 1969-73

Previous occupation: Chemistry professor, University of Massachusetts

Birthplace: Honesdale, Pa.

Family: Married to Rose Olver; one daughter

Hobbies: rock climbing, gardening

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"Locals speak out on congressional districts at hearing"
By Trevor Jones, New England Newspapers: The Berkshire Eagle & The North Adams Transcript, June 13, 2011

PITTSFIELD -- Area politicians, business leaders and citizens on Saturday advocated for maintaining two congressional districts in Western Massachusetts, while decrying any proposal that would split Berkshire County between districts.

That message was reiterated throughout testimony given at a public hearing for the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting -- a group of state legislators tasked with redrawing federal and state districts in advance of the 2012 elections.

U.S. Rep John W. Olver, D-Amherst, said there are shared interests in small cities and towns that have been well served by the current configuration of the 1st District. Olver was among a number of speakers saying Berkshire County needs to remain intact under one congressional district.

"I would urge you as a committee to reject any plan that may come before you that would split Berkshire County in any way," said Olver.

Massachusetts will lose one of its 10 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives due to population increases that have not kept pace with other parts of the country. Existing districts are between 40,000 and 80,000 residents shy of what they need to be.

State Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, committee co-chair, noted that the committee has not made any decisions or proposals yet.

"We’re not going to begin drawing maps until all 13 hearings are complete," said Rosenberg, D-Amherst.

The hearing was the eighth the committee has held. Rosenberg said he would like to see a vote on a new map by Thanksgiving.

Some critics have called for Western Massachusetts to take the brunt of any losses incurred by redistricting because of its population losses, but much of Saturday’s testimony focused on having representation for the unique challenges faced in this rural part of the state, despite the population shortage.

Mayor James M. Ruberto said that if a district with a larger metropolitan base was to be included in an area representing Berkshire County, the smaller communities would be in danger of have lesser representation by being "out-shouted when it comes to ... being at the table."

Concerns about splitting Berkshire County abound in the testimony of local business leaders, who said there is a north-south relationship here and an identity of the Berkshires that needs to be maintained.

The committee is also responsible for redrawing the lines of state districts as well. State Rep. Michael J. Moran, committee co-chair, noted that each of the four Berkshire districts -- with the possible exception of the 2nd District, represented by Paul Mark -- will need to add population.

Moran said the committee’s decision is not as simple as adding several towns to meet the population requirements for the districts.

"If you pick up a town, you’re taking away from somewhere else," said Moran, D-Brighton. "It’s a very large jigsaw puzzle."

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"After 20 years in congress, John Olver of Amherst has clout, if not pizazz"
By Ben Storrow, gazettenet.com - 9/20/2011

DEERFIELD - U.S. Congressman John W. Olver stood in the remains of a formerly thriving vegetable field Friday, surveying the flood damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene.

The scene was one of utter destruction. Most of the field lay blanketed by a layer of silt. In places, much of the topsoil had washed way. Mangled irrigation pipes law strewn about the ground, twisted like a pretzel, in the words of one farmer.

To the dozen or so farmers on hand Olver posed questions: How far had the Deerfield River risen? Where did it cut through the field? How many acres were affected? What percentage of crops were salvageable? What about crop insurance? What was the estimated cost of the damage? And so on.

Those who know him say such exchanges are typical Olver, an Amherst Democrat who this year marks his 20th in Congress. A fledgling state representative some four decades ago, today Olver is one of the most senior Democrats in the U.S. Congress.

Its a long tenure, and one that shows no signs of coming to a close. Now 75, Olver announced that he would seek an 11th term soon after winning a 10th term in November, a move widely seen as an effort to protect the 1st Congressional District against impending redistricting. Massachusetts will lose one of its 10 congressional seats, though the state Legislature has yet to determine which district will be eliminated.

On Sunday, Olver continued a round of recent fundraisers, urging supporters to try and rally around President Obama and to sign on to consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren's nascent campaign for the U.S. Senate.

"We've got things to do in this state," he told the crowd.

Things to do

For Olver those "things to do" include securing federal assistance to help farmers and others impacted by flooding from the August storm. Indeed, interactions such as the one in Deerfield are key to understanding Olver, said local politicians and personal acquaintances.

They describe him as a policy wonk, a man who feels most at home working out the details of a transportation project in his district or corralling funding for an initiative at the University of Massachusetts.

"His honesty and his down-to-earth approach just comes through," said state Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, an Amherst Democrat who got his start in politics working in Olver's office when the latter was a state senator in the 1970s.

"He analyzes the issues, figures out what he can and can't do," said Rosenberg. "He doesn't lose track of his principals and values."

Two decades in Congress

Olver entered Congress in 1991 after winning a special election to fill the 1st Congressional seat following the death of legendary Pittsfield Republican Silvio O. Conte. In so doing, he became the first Democrat to represent the 1st Congressional District since 1895.

Olver has not lost an election before or since that time. Beginning in 1969, when he first won a seat representing Amherst in the Massachusetts House, Olver has been on the general election ballot 23 times: twice while seeking election as state representative, 10 times running for state Senate and 11 for Congress, including the special election.

In 1991, Olver won a bruising primary with 31 percent of the vote, defeating nine other Democrats on the ballot. He went on to beat Steven D. Pierce, a Westfield Republican and former House minority leader, by 1,970 votes in the general election.

Today, as a senior Democratic, Olver serves as ranking member of the Transportation, Urban Development and Housing Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee, a powerful post in deciding how federal money is spent on infrastructure.

His influence can be seen not only in fire stations and bridges built with federal money, but also in the former staffers now hold elected office. Among them are state senators Rosenberg and Benjamin Downing of Pittsfield, as well as David Narkewicz, the City Council president and acting mayor of Northampton.

But Olver's longevity is surprising in some respects because he lacks polish in areas where politicians are expected to excel. A former chemistry professor, his speeches at times are rambling and he often appears to be uncomfortable with small talk.

"I am able to raise a lot more money for him if I assure people that they won't have to listen to him talk," joked long-time Olver supporter Patrick Goggins, a Northampton businessman.

His critics see that as aloofness. William Gunn, a Ware Republican who ran against Olver in 2010 under the tea party banner, noted that Olver is a proud supporter of big government.

"If large government is good, he's had a successful career. But realistically anyone is the House or Senate should be working to decrease the amount of government in peoples lives," said Gunn. "He and I have a fundamental disagreement about that."

'Work horse not a show horse'

Part of Olver's success seems best explained by his ability to turn potential weaknesses into strengths. During his first run for Congress in 1991, Olver's campaign theme portrayed him as "a work horse, not a show horse."

Today, he cites as a point of pride the earmarks, or federal funding, that he has been able to direct toward western and central Massachusetts, including the $73 million Knowledge Corridor High Speed Rail Project and the $2.5 million extension of the Boston commuter line to Fitchburg.

"I was known as an earmark person," Olver said in a recent interview. "I did lots of earmarks that helped my district. So those are things of which I am proud."

He brushes aside criticism that earmarks are wasteful spending, saying "necessary earmarks are what are in your district; wasteful spending is in everyone else's district."

Earmarks, he said, have never made up more than 1 percent of the federal budget, arguing that cries to eliminate them have more to do with politics than sound accounting.

"Politics is the art of compromise and you get things done for your district by helping others get things done for their district," he said.

"My job as chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee was to make certain that I had helped other members of Congress - all my Democratic members at least; it was not my job to help the Republican members, they have their own ranking member for that - to help get them things they desired. That way I got things done in my own transportation area, but other areas as well: for colleges, environmental things, energy projects for my district."

Bipartisan praise

Such an approach has won him praise across the political spectrum.

"Politically most Republicans are on the opposite side of the issues as John, especially the area of the district that I'm from, and that's as it should be," said state Sen. Michael R. Knapik, R-Westfield. "But I think the thing you can say about John and his service is that he's done a good job of reaching out to different regions of his district and advancing their initiatives."

He cited Olver's work seeing the 104th National Guard at Barnes Airport in Westfield through a realignment process in 2005. Earlier, Olver served as ranking member of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, securing $150 million in investments for Barnes Airport and the Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee.

That proved key to keeping both open, Knapik said.

"I don't think anyone would characterize John as a hawk, but he recognized their importance to the region in terms of jobs and the economy," Knapik said. "He almost single-handedly saved those bases. I think that's just emblematic of John's wider service to the district."

Easthampton Mayor Michael Tautznik believes Olver is the quintessential public servant.

"We so often see people in the political world whose objective is winning re-election, but I never got that sense with John." Tautznik said. "He's not in it to look good, he's in it to do good."

Olver remains a fiercely partisan politician, however. He says Congress has become much more partisan during his tenure and lays the blame at the feet of former Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich and his take-over of the House in the mid-1990s.

"That was the beginning of the dysfunction in the House, the almost complete loss of civility," Olver said.

He derides Republicans for supporting tax cuts, which he says are almost exclusively aimed at helping the wealthy, and rails against their opposition to the health-care reform legislation passed last year.

And he is most critical of the GOP's leadership, which he claims is prepared to sacrifice the country's economic well-being in order to win the White House and Senate in the 2012 election.

"They have no intention of allowing anything to pass that might have a serious impact upon the job crisis, the job deficit, in this year because they believe in a year from now they will take over the whole thing and have everything their way," Olver told supporters who attended the fundraiser in Amherst on Sunday marking his 20 years in office.

In an interview last week, Olver provided no timetable for when he might call it quits. He listed a series of ambitious priorities: adding additional community health centers, extending the east-west rail service from Boston to Springfield.

As for his approach to the job, Olver answered concisely: "Help as many people in need as I can."

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Before a tour of damaged farmland in Deerfield, U.S. Rep. John W. Olver meets with farmer Frank Ciesluk, center, and John Devine, of the U. S. Department of Agriculture, right, along with other farmers who suffered losses from flooding by the Deerfield River. (GORDON DANIELS)

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Congressman John W. Olver of Amherst arrives at a meeting with Deerfield farmers to view the damage along the Deerfield River caused by Tropical Storm Irene. (GORDON DANIELS)

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"'Humble' Olver announces retirement"
By Trevor Jones, Berkshire Eagle Staff, October 27, 2011

Congressman John W. Olver, one of the most liberal members of the U.S. House, announced on Wednesday he's stepping down at the end of his term.

Olver's decision raises questions about the fate of the 1st Congressional District he has represented since 1991.

In a short statement, the 75-year-old Democrat from Amherst said he had reconsidered his decision to seek another term in 2012 because "over the past six months, circumstances within my family have substantially changed." Olver's wife, Rose, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in March. Rose, a professor at Amherst College, has been on leave from her work since July, according to the school's website.

President Barack Obama was among a number of officials to praise Olver's service.

"In the State House and Congress, John Olver has proudly served the people of Massachusetts for over 40 years," Obama said in a statement. "He has fought tirelessly for a cleaner environment, modern infrastructure, more affordable housing, and more accessible health care. Michelle and I join the people of Massachusetts in thanking Congressman Olver for his service, and we wish John, his wife Rose, and daughter Martha the very best in the future."

The viability of Olver's district has also been in doubt in recent months because the state will lose one of its 10 House districts for the 2012 election due to national population shifts. The 1st Congressional District is mostly comprised of rural Western Massachusetts including the Berkshires, but population declines in the district have made it a target for elimination.

"Since 1991, I have had the privilege and great honor of representing the people of the 1st District of Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives," Olver said in his statement. "The district has grown much larger from the district as it was in 1991, and these 20 years have been tumultuous years for America."

Olver becomes the first of the 10 representatives from the state to announce he would not be seeking another term, and his decision to retire could pave the way for the state's redistricting committee to produce maps that would avoid having two incumbents run against each other in 2012.

Through his representative, Olver declined to be interviewed.

State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli said he was saddened by Olver's decision. And while he didn't know if Rose's health factored into Olver's decision, Pignatelli said, "If that weighted into his decision, I admire him even more."

Olver was first elected in 1991 in a special election to complete the term of the late Rep. Silvio O. Conte. He currently sits on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. He also serves on the Energy and Water and the Homeland Security subcommittees.

Born in Honesdale, Pa., Olver formerly worked as a chemistry professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He served in the state House of Representatives from 1969 to 1973, and the state Senate from 1973 to 1991.

Colleagues describe Olver as a workhorse who lets his accomplishments speak for him, as well as a champion of liberal causes and lower- and middle-income constituents.

"He's a public servant of principle who has served Western Massachusetts with great skill and deep passions belied by his unassuming and humble demeanor," said U.S. Sen. John Kerry in a statement. Kerry went on to describe Olver as a "congressional workhorse with the heart of an Amherst activist."

In a prepared statement, U.S. Rep Richard Neal, whose 2nd District has often been the subject of speculation about merging with the 1st District, described his colleague as "honest, sincere and intelligent," and said his ability to direct millions of dollars to the region will be remembered for years to come.

Former North Adams Mayor John Barrett has known Olver for 40 years, dating back to when Olver was a state senator. Barrett said he was "totally shocked" by the announcement, but praised Olver for his tireless work and his dedication to his convictions.

"I often said he was one of the first real, true liberals in Massachusetts politics," said Barrett. "He was pure. He never wavered in his beliefs."

Local politicians lauded Olver for his role in revitalizing Pittsfield, from the current airport and downtown streetscape projects to the Joseph Scelsi Intermodal Transportation Center. They also pointed to his involvement in a variety of other projects throughout Berkshire County, as well as his support of veterans and social services.

"He's one of those individuals who believes that government can do good work, and who works very, very hard every day to make sure that government is representing people in a positive way," said Pittsfield Mayor James Ruberto.

U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester, commended Olver, calling him a dedicated Democrat who went above and beyond his peers -- to the point where he was once arrested and jailed for protesting the genocide in Darfur on the property of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington.

McGovern, who arranged the protest, said Olver was one of only four members of Congress willing to participate in the 2006 protest.

The two congressmen spent six hours in a jail cell together after they refused to follow police orders to disperse.

"It shows what a gutsy guy he was, and I admire that about him," said McGovern. "He's not fiery and he doesn't pound his fist on the table when he speaks, but he's a man of incredible integrity. And when it comes to standing up for what he believes, this guy who will do whatever it takes to get his point across."

Eagle Staff Writer Ned Oliver and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

To reach Trevor Jones: tjones@berkshireeagle.com, or (413) 496-6214.

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"U.S. Rep. Olver explains his decision to retire"
By Ben Storrow, Daily Hampshire Gazette, 11/9/2011

AMHERST - U.S. Rep. John W. Olver-D Amherst said in an interview today he felt "liberated" by his decision to retire, adding it came at the "right time for me and my family."

Those comments broke two weeks of public silence from Olver on his reasons for announcing Oct. 26 that he would not seek reelection when his term expires in December 2012.

The decision was a reversal for Olver, 75, who said last December he would seek reelection to a 12th term. It came just as state lawmakers were preparing to release a new map of the commonwealth's Congressional districts, which will reduce the number of Massachusetts U.S. House seats from 10 to nine due to the state's relatively slow population growth.

Olver said he initially decided to announce he would run again so he would not be seen as a lame duck.

"I knew way back then we were going to lose a seat," Olver said in a phone interview from his Amherst home. "Every assumption was because of my age and position I would become a target [for redistricting]. Now I am a lame duck who got out on his own terms."

He said he was at peace with his decision. "Can you imagine me wandering around another whole term? I'd be finishing at 78. I've been at this a long time."

A senior Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, Olver also explained how his wife's ongoing cancer treatments influenced his decision. "My family circumstances began to change in April. I had to begin to think of other possibilities," Olver said.

"As the treatments moved on, [Rose] realized that it wasn't possible to continue teaching as she had planned. She went on academic leave and will retire at the end of the [school] year," he said.

Rose Olver is a professor of psychology and women's and gender studies at Amherst College. Olver said his wife has now finished chemotherapy and her cancer is in remission.

"Remission is either long or short. We don't know," he said, adding, "We're in the process of living with cancer."

Timing of decision

Olver said he made the decision to retire in mid-September and was only contemplating the timing. Allowing his district to move farther eastward through redistricting seemed hard to justify, he said. "If they kept the district whole I'd have been inside [Route] 495. That would have made the problem in eastern part of the state much worse."

In the end, Olver said he concluded it was better to retire before the redistricting committee finished its work, allowing it to move forward.

A former state legislator himself, having served two terms in the House and 11 in the state Senate, Olver, praised the redistricting committee's work. He said he believes the proposal released Monday removes two "gerrymanders" - those oddly shaped districts shaped more by political goals than geography.

"To have my district reach Pepperell is a gerrymander," he said.

And he said he was happy to see U.S. Reps. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, and James McGovern, D-Worcester, assume much of his former district.

"It seemed valuable to me to have my constituents served by people of that power and clout," Olver said, noting that Neal is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee. McGovern is the ranking Democrat on the Rules Committee.

"Jim McGovern - he and I are two of the most progressive people in the delegation. For him to get the core of the Franklin-Hampshire county progressive community fits well for what was my base territory."

Talks with Rosenberg

Asked if he had contact with state Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, the Amherst lawmaker who once served as an aide in his state Senate office and is co-chair of this year's redistricting committee, before his announcement, Olver said, "The decision was totally mine."

He then added, "We have breakfast from time to time and talk about all sorts of things, including representation and potential communities of interest."

Olver, who was first elected to the state House in 1968, said he was felt "liberated" from raising money as a candidate, and from campaigning.

He said he will spend his remaining 13 months in Congress focused "on the projects I'd like to see move forward."

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Letter: "Hinds is well-qualified to serve in state Senate"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/1/2016

To the editor:

Serving as U.S. representative in the First Congressional District — our home — was one of the greatest honors of my life, and there is no other place in the country that I would choose to represent. I care a great deal about the future of Western Massachusetts, and that is why I support and endorse Democrat Adam Hinds for state Senate in the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin, and Hampden District.

I came to know Adam well when he worked on my campaigns in 1998 and 2000. Adam has unquestionable character, a guiding principle to do what is right, and an inestimable work ethic. Adam served as a peacemaker for the United Nations, often moving into harm's way in the Middle East to create a better way of life for those who live there. He founded Pittsfield Community Connection, and devoted himself to confronting the impact of poverty and keeping at-risk kids from falling into gangs and violence. Working for the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, Adam tackles community issues of addiction, health care, and employment head-on.

Before I served as a member of Congress, I was a state senator for 19 years. In my time in the Massachusetts Legislature, and elsewhere in my career, I learned what it takes to get things done in government. I know Adam Hinds has exactly what it takes to be a strong voice and powerful advocate for this region.

As an unabashed progressive, I naturally want to see another progressive champion take up the mantle of representation in Western Massachusetts. Adam Hinds is the candidate to do that. He has a demonstrated commitment to social and economic justice.

These are qualities that we need in the next state senator: a proven dedication to solve our toughest regional challenges; a demonstrated, community-oriented work ethic; and a proactive passion for the district. Adam Hinds embodies all these qualities. I proudly support his campaign.

If you agree, I ask that you take the steps to support him too. Mark Sept. 8 on your calendar as the day to go out and vote. Visit the website adamhinds.org to volunteer. Knock on doors, tell your neighbors, and put out a lawn sign.

We are a little over a month away from the Sept. 8 primary. Please join me in supporting Adam Hinds for state Senate.

John W. Olver, Amherst

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I am a citizen defending the people against corrupt Pols who only serve their Corporate Elite masters, not the people! / My 2 political enemies are Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., nicknamed "Luciforo" and former Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. / I have also pasted many of my political essays on "The Berkshire Blog": berkshireeagle.blogspot.com / I AM THE ANTI-FRANK GUINTA! / Please contact me at jonathan_a_melle@yahoo.com

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Daniel P. O’Neil

Daniel P. O’Neil
At-Large Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Sarah Palin for Vice President.

Sarah Palin for Vice President.
Republican John McCain made the surprise pick of Alaska's governor Sarah Palin as his running mate today, August 29, 2008.

U.S. Representative John Olver, D-Amherst, Massachusetts.

U.S. Representative John Olver, D-Amherst, Massachusetts.
Congressman Olver said the country has spent well over a half-trillion dollars on the war in Iraq while the situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate. 8/25/08.

Ed O'Reilly for US Senate in Massachusetts!

Ed O'Reilly for US Senate in Massachusetts!
John Kerry's 9/2008 challenger in the Democratic Primary.

Shays' Rebellion

Shays' Rebellion
In a tax revolt, Massachusetts farmers fought back during Shays' Rebellion in the mid-1780s after The American Revolutionary War.

Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore
Actress. "The Big Lebowski" is one of my favorite movies. I also like "The Fugitive", too.

Rinaldo Del Gallo III & "Superman"

Rinaldo Del Gallo III & "Superman"
Go to: http://www.berkshirefatherhood.com/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=699&cntnt01returnid=69

"Income chasm widening in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts"

"Income chasm widening in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts"
The gap between rich and poor has widened substantially in Massachusetts over the past two decades. (8/15/2008).

Dan "Bureaucrat" Bosley

Dan "Bureaucrat" Bosley
"The Bosley Amendment": To create tax loopholes for the wealthiest corporate interests in Massachusetts!

John Edwards and...

John Edwards and...
...Rielle Hunter. WHO CARES?!

Rep. Edward J. Markey

Rep. Edward J. Markey
He wants online-privacy legislation. Some Web Firms Say They Track Behavior Without Explicit Consent.

Cindy Sheehan

Cindy Sheehan
She gained fame with her antiwar vigil outside the Bush ranch.

Olympics kick off in Beijing

Olympics kick off in Beijing
Go USA!

Exxon Mobil 2Q profit sets US record, shares fall

Exxon Mobil 2Q profit sets US record, shares fall
In this May 1, 2008, file photo, a customer pumps gas at an Exxon station in Middleton, Mass. Exxon Mobil Corp. reported second-quarter earnings of $11.68 billion Thursday, July 31, the biggest quarterly profit ever by any U.S. corporation, but the results were well short of Wall Street expectations and its shares fell as markets opened. (AP Photo/Lisa Poole, File) 7/31/2008.

Onota Lake 'Sea Serpent'

Onota Lake 'Sea Serpent'
Some kind of monster on Onota Lake. Five-year-old Tyler Smith rides a 'sea serpent' on Onota Lake in Pittsfield, Mass. The 'monster,' fashioned by Smith's grandfather, first appeared over July 4 weekend. (Photo courtesy of Ron Smith). 7/30/2008.

Al Gore, Jr.

Al Gore, Jr.
Al Gore issues challenge on energy

The Norman Rockwell Museum

The Norman Rockwell Museum
Stockbridge, Massachusetts

"Big Dig"

"Big Dig"
Boston's financially wasteful pork barrel project!

"Big Dig"

"Big Dig"
Boston's pork barrel public works project cost 50 times more than the original price!

Mary E Carey

Mary E Carey
My favorite journalist EVER!

U.S. Rep. John Olver, state Sen. Stan Rosenberg and Selectwomen Stephanie O'Keeffe and Alisa Brewer

U.S. Rep. John Olver, state Sen. Stan Rosenberg and Selectwomen Stephanie O'Keeffe and Alisa Brewer
Note: Photo from Mary E Carey's Blog.

Tanglewood

Tanglewood
Boston Symphony Orchestra music director James Levine.

Google

Google
Chagall

Jimmy Ruberto

Jimmy Ruberto
Faces multiple persecutions under the Massachusetts "Ethics" conflict of interest laws.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama
Obama vows $500m in faith-based aid.

John McCain

John McCain
He is with his wife, Cindy, who were both met by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe (right) upon arriving in Cartagena.

Daniel Duquette

Daniel Duquette
Sold Mayor James M. Ruberto of Pittsfield two tickets to the 2004 World Series at face value.

Hillary & Barack in Unity, NH - 6/27/2008

Hillary & Barack in Unity, NH - 6/27/2008
Clinton tells Obama, crowd in Unity, N.H.: 'We are one party'

John Forbes Kerry

John Forbes Kerry
Wanna-be Prez?

WALL-E

WALL-E
"out of this World"

Crisis in the Congo - Ben Affleck

Crisis in the Congo - Ben Affleck
http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/popup?id=5057139&contentIndex=1&page=1&start=false - http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/story?id=5234555&page=1

Jeanne Shaheen

Jeanne Shaheen
NH's Democratic returning candidate for U.S. Senate

"Wall-E"

"Wall-E"
a cool robot

Ed O'Reilly

Ed O'Reilly
www.edoreilly.com

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
World Champions - 2008

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
J.D. Drew gets the same welcome whenever he visits the City of Brotherly Love: "Booooooo!"; Drew has been vilified in Philadelphia since refusing to sign with the Phillies after they drafted him in 1997...

Joe Kelly Levasseur & Joe Briggs

Joe Kelly Levasseur & Joe Briggs
www.2joes.org

NH Union Leader

NH Union Leader
Editorial Cartoon

Celtics - World Champions!

Celtics - World Champions!
www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/gallery/06_18_08_front_pages/ - www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/gallery/06_17_08_finals_game_6/ - www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/gallery/06_17_08_celebration/ - www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/gallery/06_15_08_celtics_championships/

"The Nation"

"The Nation"
A "Liberal" weekly political news magazine. Katrina vanden Heuvel.

TV - PBS: NOW

TV - PBS: NOW
http://www.pbs.org/now

The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone
List of Twilight Zone episodes - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Twilight_Zone_episodes

Equality for ALL Marriages

Equality for ALL Marriages
I, Jonathan Melle, am a supporter of same sex marriages.

Kobe Bryant leads his time to a Game 5 victory.

Kobe Bryant leads his time to a Game 5 victory.
L.A. Lakers holds on for the win to force Game 6 at Boston

Mohawk Trail

Mohawk Trail
The 'Hail to the Sunrise' statue in Charlemont is a well-known and easily recognized landmark on the Mohawk Trail. The trail once boasted several souvenir shops, some with motels and restaurants. Now only four remain. (Caroline Bonnivier / Berkshire Eagle Staff).

NASA - June 14, 2008

NASA - June 14, 2008
Space Shuttle Discovery returns to Earth.

Go Celtics! Game # 4 of the 2008 NBA Finals.

Go Celtics! Game # 4 of the 2008 NBA Finals.
Boston took a 20-second timeout, and the Celtics ran off four more points (including this incredible Erving-esque layup from Ray Allen) to build the lead to five points with just 2:10 remaining. Reeling, the Lakers took a full timeout to try to regain their momentum.

Sal DiMasi

Sal DiMasi
Speaker of the Massachusetts State House of Representatives

Kelly Ayotte - Attorney General of New Hampshire

Kelly Ayotte - Attorney General of New Hampshire
http://doj.nh.gov/

John Kerry

John Kerry
He does not like grassroots democracy & being challenged in the 2008 Massachusetts Democratic Party Primary for re-election.

Tim Murray

Tim Murray
Corrupt Lt. Gov. of Massachusetts, 2007 - 2013.

North Adams, Massachusetts

North Adams, Massachusetts
downtown

Howie Carr

Howie Carr
Political Satirist on Massachusetts Corruption/Politics

Polar Bear

Polar Bear
Global Warming

Elizabeth Warren - Web-Site Links

Elizabeth Warren - Web-Site Links
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Warren & http://www.creditslips.org/creditslips/WarrenAuthor.html

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren
Consumer Crusader

Leon Powe

Leon Powe
Celtics forward Leon Powe finished a fast break with a dunk.

Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett reacted during the game.

Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo finished a first half fast break with a dunk.

Teamwork

Teamwork
Los Angeles Lakers teammates help Pau Gasol (16) from the floor in the second quarter.

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant took a shot in the first half of Game 2.

Kendrick Perkins

Kendrick Perkins
Kendrick Perkins (right) backed down Lamar Odom (left) during first half action.

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
The Boston Symphony Orchestra performed the national anthem prior to Game 2.

K.G.!

K.G.!
Garnett reacted to a hard dunk in the first quarter.

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce reacted after hitting a three upon his return to the game since leaving with an injury.

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
Kobe Bryant (left) and Paul Pierce (right) squared off in the second half of the game.

James Taylor

James Taylor
Sings National Anthem at Celtics Game.

John Forbes Kerry & Deval Patrick

John Forbes Kerry & Deval Patrick
Attended Celtics Game.

Greats of the NBA: Dr. J, Bill Russell, & Kareem!

Greats of the NBA: Dr. J, Bill Russell, & Kareem!
Attend Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals.

Bruce Willis

Bruce Willis
The actor (left) and his date were in the crowd before the Celtics game.

John Kerry

John Kerry
Golddigger attends Celtics game

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton
Ends her 2008 bid for Democratic Party nomination

Nonnie Burnes

Nonnie Burnes
Massachusetts Insurance Commish & former Judge

Jones Library

Jones Library
Amherst, Massachusetts

Barack Obama & Hillary Clinton

Barack Obama & Hillary Clinton
2008 Democratic Primary

"US vs Exxon and Halliburton"

"US vs Exxon and Halliburton"
U.S. Senator John Sununu took more than $220,000 from big oil.

Jeanne Shaheen

Jeanne Shaheen
4- U.S. Senate - 2008

William Pignatelli

William Pignatelli
Hack Rep. "Smitty" with Lynne Blake

Ben Bernanke

Ben Bernanke
Federal Reserve Chairman

Gazettenet.com

Gazettenet.com
www.gazettenet.com/beta/

Boys' & Girls' Club

Boys' & Girls' Club
Melville Street, Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Denis Guyer

Denis Guyer
Dalton State Representative

The Berkshire Eagle

The Berkshire Eagle
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Carmen Massimiano

Carmen Massimiano
Williams College - May 2008

Larry Bird & Magic Johnson

Larry Bird & Magic Johnson
www.boston.com/lifestyle/gallery/when_the_celtics_were_cool/

Regressive Taxation! via State Lotteries

Regressive Taxation! via State Lotteries
New Massachusetts state lottery game hits $600 million in sales!

Andrea Nuciforo

Andrea Nuciforo
"Luciforo"

John Barrett III

John Barrett III
Long-time Mayor of North Adams Massachusetts

Shine On

Shine On

Elmo

Elmo
cool!

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce kissed the Eastern Conference trophy. 5/30/2008. AP Photo.

Kevin Garnett & Richard Hamilton

Kevin Garnett & Richard Hamilton
Kevin Garnett (left) talked to Pistons guard Richard Hamilton (right) after the Celtics' victory in Game 6. 5/30/2008. Reuters Photo.

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce showed his team colors as the Celtics closed out the Pistons in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. 5/30/2008. Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis.

Joseph Kelly Levasseur

Joseph Kelly Levasseur
One of my favorite politicians!

Mary E Carey

Mary E Carey
In the Big Apple: NYC! She is the coolest!

Guyer & Kerry

Guyer & Kerry
My 2nd least favorite picture EVER!

Mary Carey

Mary Carey
My favorite journalist EVER!

Nuciforo & Ruberto

Nuciforo & Ruberto
My least favorite picture EVER!

Jeanne Shaheen

Jeanne Shaheen
U.S. Senate - 2008

NH Fisher Cats

NH Fisher Cats
AA Baseball - Toronto Blue Jays affiliate

Manchester, NH

Manchester, NH
Police Patch

Michael Briggs

Michael Briggs
#83 - We will never forget

Michael "Stix" Addison

Michael "Stix" Addison
http://unionleader.com/channel.aspx/News?channel=2af17ff4-f73b-4c44-9f51-092e828e1131

Charlie Gibson

Charlie Gibson
ABC News anchor

Scott McClellan

Scott McClellan
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/scott_mcclellan/index.html?inline=nyt-per

Boise, Idaho

Boise, Idaho
Downtown Boise Idaho

John Forbes Kerry

John Forbes Kerry
Legislative Hearing in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, BCC, on Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson
My favorite classical U.S. President!

NH Governor John Lynch

NH Governor John Lynch
Higher Taxes, Higher Tolls

Paul Hodes

Paul Hodes
My favorite Congressman!

Portland Sea Dogs

Portland Sea Dogs
AA Red Sox

New York

New York
Magnet

Massachusetts

Massachusetts
Magnet

New Hampshire

New Hampshire
Magnet

New Hampshire

New Hampshire
Button

Carmen Massimiano

Carmen Massimiano
"Luciforo" tried to send me to Carmen's Jail during the Spring & Summer of 1998.

Kay Khan - Massachusetts State Representative

Kay Khan - Massachusetts State Representative
www.openmass.org/members/show/174

Luciforo

Luciforo
Andrea F Nuciforo II

B-Eagle

B-Eagle
Pittsfield's monopoly/only daily newspaper

Jon Lester - Go Red Sox!

Jon Lester - Go Red Sox!
A Red Sox No Hitter on 5/19/2008!

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Dustin Pedroia & Manny Ramirez

U.S. Flag

U.S. Flag
God Bless America!

Jonathan Melle's Blog

Jonathan Melle's Blog
Hello, Everyone!

Molly Bish

Molly Bish
We will never forget!

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
Celtics guard Rajon Rondo listens to some advice from Celtics head coach Doc Rivers in the first half.

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
Celtics forward Kevin Garnett and Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace embrace at the end of the game.

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon calls for the ball as he charges toward first base. Papelbon made the out en route to picking up his 14th save of the season.

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Red Sox starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka throws to Royals David DeJesus during the first inning.

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka delivers a pitch to Royals second baseman Mark Grudzielanek during the second inning.

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Red Sox right fielder J.D. Drew is welcomed to home plate by teammates Mike Lowell (left), Kevin Youkilis (2nd left) and Manny Ramirez after he hit a grand slam in the second inning.

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell crosses the plate after hitting a grand slam during the sixth inning. Teammates Manny Ramirez and Jacoby Ellsbury scored on the play. The Red Sox went on to win 11-8 to complete a four-game sweep and perfect homestand.

JD Drew - Go Red Sox

JD Drew - Go Red Sox
www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/gallery/05_22_08_sox_royals/

Thank you for serving; God Bless America!

Thank you for serving; God Bless America!
Master Sgt. Kara B. Stackpole, of Westfield, holds her daughter, Samantha, upon her return today to Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee. She is one of the 38 members of the 439th Aeromedical Staging Squadron who returned after a 4-month deployment in Iraq. Photo by Dave Roback / The Republican.

Kathi-Anne Reinstein

Kathi-Anne Reinstein
www.openmass.org/members/show/175

Ted Kennedy

Ted Kennedy
Tragic diagnosis: Get well Senator!

Google doodle - Jonathan Melle Internet search

Google doodle - Jonathan Melle Internet search
http://blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch?hl=en&q=jonathan+melle+blogurl:http://jonathanmelleonpolitics.blogspot.com/&ie=UTF-8

John Forbes Kerry

John Forbes Kerry
Billionaire U.S. Senator gives address to MCLA graduates in North Adams, Massachusetts in mid-May 2008

Andrea Nuciforo

Andrea Nuciforo
"Luciforo"

A Red Sox Fan in Paris, France

A Red Sox Fan in Paris, France
Go Red Sox!

Rinaldo Del Gallo III

Rinaldo Del Gallo III
Interviewed on local TV

Andrea Nuciforo

Andrea Nuciforo
Luciforo!

John Adams

John Adams
#2 U.S. President

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I stood under a tree on the afternoon of May 9, 2008, on the foregrounds of the NH State House - www.websitetoolbox.com/tool/post/nhinsider/vpost?id=2967773

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Inside the front lobby of the NH State House

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Bill Clinton campaign memorabilia

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Liberty Bell & NH State House

Jon Keller

Jon Keller
Boston based political analyst

Jon Keller

Jon Keller
Boston based political analyst

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Franklin Pierce Statue #14 U.S. President

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
NH State House

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Stop the War NOW!

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
"Mr. Melle, tear down this Blog!"

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I stood next to a JFK photo

Jonathan Levine, Publisher

Jonathan Levine, Publisher
The Pittsfield Gazette Online

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I made rabbit ears with John & George

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I made antenna ears with John & George

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I impersonated Howard Dean

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
mock-voting

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
pretty ladies -/- Go to: http://www.wgir.com/cc-common/cc_photopop20.html?eventID=28541&pagecontent=&pagenum=4 - Go to: http://current.com/items/88807921_veterans_should_come_first_not_last# - http://www.mcam23.com/cgi-bin/cutter.cgi?c_function=STREAM?c_feature=EDIT?dir_catagory=10MorningRadio?dir_folder=2JoesClips?dir_file=JonathanMelle-090308? -

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Go Red Sox! Me at Fenway Park

Mary E. Carey

Mary E. Carey
My favorite journalist! Her voice sings for the Voiceless. -/- Go to: http://aboutamherst.blogspot.com/search?q=melle -/- Go to: http://ongeicocaveman.blogspot.com/search?q=melle

Velvet Jesus

Velvet Jesus
Mary Carey blogs about my political writings. This is a picture of Jesus from her childhood home in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. -//- "How Can I Keep From Singing" : My life goes on in endless song / Above Earth's lamentations, / I hear the real, though far-off hymn / That hails a new creation. / / Through all the tumult and the strife / I hear its music ringing, / It sounds an echo in my soul. / How can I keep from singing? / / Whey tyrants tremble in their fear / And hear their death knell ringing, / When friends rejoice both far and near / How can I keep from singing? / / In prison cell and dungeon vile / Our thoughts to them are winging / When friends by shame are undefiled / How can I keep from singing?

www.truthdig.com

www.truthdig.com
www.truthdig.com

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Concord NH

The Huffington Post

The Huffington Post
http://fundrace.huffingtonpost.com/neighbors.php?type=loc&newest=1&addr=&zip=01201&search=Search

Barack Obama

Barack Obama
smiles & beer

Jonathan Lothrop

Jonathan Lothrop
A Pittsfield City Councilor

Michael L. Ward

Michael L. Ward
A Pittsfield City Councilor

Peter Marchetti - Pittsfield's City Councilor at Large

Peter Marchetti - Pittsfield's City Councilor at Large
Pete always sides with the wealthy's political interests.

Gerald Lee - Pittsfield's City Council Prez

Gerald Lee - Pittsfield's City Council Prez
Gerald Lee told me that I am a Social Problem; Lee executes a top-down system of governance.

Matt Kerwood - Pittsfield's Councilor at Large

Matt Kerwood - Pittsfield's Councilor at Large
Kerwood poured coffee drinks for Jane Swift

Louis Costi

Louis Costi
Pittsfield City Councilor

Lewis Markham

Lewis Markham
Pittsfield City Councilor

Kevin Sherman - Pittsfield City Councilor

Kevin Sherman - Pittsfield City Councilor
Sherman ran for Southern Berkshire State Rep against Smitty Pignatelli; Sherman is a good guy.

Anthony Maffuccio

Anthony Maffuccio
Pittsfield City Councilor

Linda Tyer

Linda Tyer
Pittsfield City Councilor

Daniel Bianchi

Daniel Bianchi
A Pittsfield City Councilor

The Democratic Donkey

The Democratic Donkey
Democratic Party Symbol

Paramount

Paramount
What is Paramount to you?

NH's Congresswoman

NH's Congresswoman
Carol Shea-Porter, Democrat

Sam Adams Beer

Sam Adams Beer
Boston Lager

Ratatouille

Ratatouille
Disney Animation

Ruberto Details Plans for Success - January 07, 2008

Ruberto Details Plans for Success - January 07, 2008
"Luciforo" swears in Mayor Ruberto. Pittsfield Politics at its very worst: 2 INSIDER POWERBROKERS! Where is Carmen Massimiano? He must be off to the side.

Abe

Abe
Lincoln

Optimus Prime

Optimus Prime
Leader of the Autobots

Optimus Prime

Optimus Prime
1984 Autobot Transformer Leader

Cleanup Agreements - GE & Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites

Cleanup Agreements - GE & Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites
www.epa.gov/region1/ge/cleanupagreement.html

GE/Housatonic River Site: Introduction

GE/Housatonic River Site: Introduction
www.epa.gov/region1/ge/

GE/Housatonic River Site - Reports

GE/Housatonic River Site - Reports
www.epa.gov/region1/ge/thesite/opca-reports.html

US EPA - Contact - Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites

US EPA - Contact -  Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites
www.epa.gov/region1/ge/contactinfo.html

GE Corporate Logo - Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites

GE Corporate Logo - Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites
www.epa.gov/region1/ge/index.html

Commonwealth Connector

Commonwealth Connector
Commonwealth Care

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
Healthcare Reform

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
Healthcare Reform

Network Health Forward - A Commonwealth Care Plan

Network Health Forward - A Commonwealth Care Plan
Massachusetts Health Reform

Network Health Together: A MassHealth Plan - Commonwealth Care

Network Health Together: A MassHealth Plan - Commonwealth Care
Massachusetts Health Reform

www.network-health.org

www.network-health.org
Massachusetts Health Reform

Neighborhood Health Plan - Commonwealth Care

Neighborhood Health Plan - Commonwealth Care
Massachusetts Health Reform

Fallon Community Health Plan - Commonwealth Care

Fallon Community Health Plan - Commonwealth Care
Massachusetts Health Reform

BMC HealthNet Plan

BMC HealthNet Plan
Massachusetts Health Reform

Massachusetts Health Reform

Massachusetts Health Reform
Eligibility Chart: 2007

Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare

Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare
Massachusetts Health Reform

Business Peaks

Business Peaks
Voodoo Economics

Laffer Curve - Corporate Elite

Laffer Curve - Corporate Elite
Reagonomics: Supply Side

Corporate Elite Propaganda

Corporate Elite Propaganda
Mock Liberal Democratic Socialism Thinking

Real Estate Blues

Real Estate Blues
www.boston.com/bostonglobe/magazine/2008/0316/

PEACE

PEACE
End ALL Wars!

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of Speech
Norman Rockwell's World War II artwork depicting America's values

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln
A young Abe Lincoln

RACHEL KAPRIELIAN

RACHEL KAPRIELIAN
www.openmass.org/members/show/218 - www.rachelkaprielian.com

Jennifer M. Callahan - Massachusetts State Representative

Jennifer M. Callahan - Massachusetts State Representative
www.openmass.org/members/show/164 - www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/05/04/legislator_describes_threat_as_unnerving/

Human Rights for ALL Peoples!

Human Rights for ALL Peoples!
My #1 Political Belief!

Anne Frank

Anne Frank
Amsterdam, Netherlands, Europe

A young woman Hillary supporter

A young woman Hillary supporter
This excellent picture captures a youth's excitement

Hillary Clinton with Natalie Portman

Hillary Clinton with Natalie Portman
My favorite Actress!

Alan Chartock

Alan Chartock
WAMC public radio in Albany, NY; Political columnist who writes about Berkshire County area politics; Strong supporter for Human Rights for ALL Peoples

OpenCongress.Org

OpenCongress.Org
This web-site uses some of my Blog postings

OpenMass.org

OpenMass.org
This web-site uses some of my blog postings!

Shannon O'Brien

Shannon O'Brien
One of my favorite politicians! She stands for the People first!

The Massachusetts State House

The Massachusetts State House
"The Almighty Golden Dome" - www.masslegislature.tv -

Sara Hathaway

Sara Hathaway
Former Mayor of Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.

Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.
A corrupt Pol who tried to put me in Jail

Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.

Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.
Another view of Pittsfield's inbred, multigenerational political prince. Luciforo!

Luciforo

Luciforo
Nuciforo's nickname

"Andy" Nuciforo

"Andy" Nuciforo
Luciforo!

Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr., Berkshire County Sheriff (Jailer)

Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr., Berkshire County Sheriff (Jailer)
Nuciforo's henchman! Nuciforo tried to send me to Carmen's Jail

Andrea Nuciforo Jr

Andrea Nuciforo Jr
Shhh! Luciforo's other job is working as a private attorney defending wealthy Boston-area corporate insurance companies

Berkshire County Sheriff (Jailer) Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr.

Berkshire County Sheriff (Jailer) Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr.
Nuciforo tried to send me to Carmen's Jail! Carmen sits with the Congressman, John Olver

Congressman John Olver

Congressman John Olver
Nuciforo's envy

The Dome of the U.S. Capitol

The Dome of the U.S. Capitol
Our Beacon of American Democracy

Nuciforo's architect

Nuciforo's architect
Mary O'Brien in red with scarf

Sara Hathaway (www.brynmawr.edu)

Sara Hathaway (www.brynmawr.edu)
Former-Mayor of Pittsfield, Massachusetts; Nuciforo intimidated her, along with another woman, from running in a democratic state election in the Spring of 2006!

Andrea F. Nuciforo II

Andrea F. Nuciforo II
Pittsfield Politics

Berkshire County Republican Association

Berkshire County Republican Association
Go to: www.fcgop.blogspot.com

Denis Guyer

Denis Guyer
Dalton State Representative

John Forbes Kerry & Denis Guyer

John Forbes Kerry & Denis Guyer
U.S. Senator & State Representative

John Kerry

John Kerry
Endorses Barack Obama for Prez then visits Berkshire County

Dan Bosley

Dan Bosley
A Bureaucrat impostering as a Legislator!

Ben Downing

Ben Downing
Berkshire State Senator

Christopher N Speranzo

Christopher N Speranzo
Pittsfield's ANOINTED State Representative

Peter J. Larkin

Peter J. Larkin
Corrupt Lobbyist

GE - Peter Larkin's best friend!

GE - Peter Larkin's best friend!
GE's FRAUDULENT Consent Decree with Pittsfield, Massachusetts, will end up KILLING many innocent school children & other local residents!

GE's CEO Jack Welch

GE's CEO Jack Welch
The Corporate System's Corporate Elite's King

Economics: Where Supply meets Demand

Economics: Where Supply meets Demand
Equilibrium

GE & Pittsfield, Massachusetts

GE & Pittsfield, Massachusetts
In 2007, GE sold its Plastics Division to a Saudi company. Now all that is left over by GE are its toxic PCB pollutants that cause cancer in many Pittsfield residents.

Mayor James M Ruberto

Mayor James M Ruberto
A small-time pol chooses to serve the corporate elite & other elites over the people.

Governor Deval Patrick

Governor Deval Patrick
Deval shakes hands with Mayors in Berkshire County

Deval Patrick

Deval Patrick
Governor of Massachusetts

Pittsfield High School

Pittsfield High School
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Sara Hathaway

Sara Hathaway
Pittsfield's former Mayor

Rinaldo Del Gallo III

Rinaldo Del Gallo III
Pittsfield Attorney focusing on Father's Rights Probate Court Legal Issues, & Local Politician and Political Observer

Rinaldo Del Gallo III

Rinaldo Del Gallo III
Very Intelligent Political Activists in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Rinaldo Del Gallo, III, Esq. is the spokesperson of the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition. He has been practicing family law and has been a member of the Massachusetts bar since 1996.

Mayor Ed Reilly

Mayor Ed Reilly
He supports Mayor Ruberto & works as a municipal Attorney. As Mayor, he backed Bill Weld for Governor in 1994, despite being a Democrat. He was joined by Carmen Massimiano & John Barrett III, the long-standing Mayor of North Adams.

Manchester, NH Mayor Frank Guinta

Manchester, NH Mayor Frank Guinta
Cuts Dental Care for Public School Children-in-Need

Manchester, NH City Hall

Manchester, NH City Hall
My new hometown - view from Hanover St. intersection with Elm St.

Manchester NH City Democrats

Manchester NH City Democrats
Go Dems!

2008 Democratic Candidates for U.S. Prez

2008 Democratic Candidates for U.S. Prez
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, John Edwards

NH State House Dome

NH State House Dome
Concord, NH

Donna Walto

Donna Walto
Pittsfield Politician -- She strongly opposes Mayor Jim Ruberto's elitist tenure.

Elmo

Elmo
Who doesn't LOVE Elmo?

Hillary Clinton for U.S. President!

Hillary Clinton for U.S. President!
Hillary is for Children. She is my choice in 2008.

The White House in 1800

The White House in 1800
Home of our Presidents of the United States

John Adams

John Adams
2nd President of the USA

Hillary Clinton stands with John Edwards and Joe Biden

Hillary Clinton stands with John Edwards and Joe Biden
Hillary is my choice for U.S. President!

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton
Former President Bill Clinton speaks at the Radisson in Manchester NH 11/16/2007

Barack Obama

Barack Obama
U.S. Senator & Candidate for President

Pittsfield's 3 Women City Councillors - 2004

Pittsfield's 3 Women City Councillors - 2004
Linda Tyer, Pam Malumphy, Tricia Farley-Bouvier

Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Massachusetts
My friend Brian Merzbach reviews baseball parks around the nation.

The Corporate Elite: Rational Incentives for only the wealthy

The Corporate Elite: Rational Incentives for only the wealthy
The Elites double their $ every 6 to 8 years, while the "have-nots" double their $ every generation (or 24 years). Good bye Middle Class!

George Will

George Will
The human satellite voice for the Corporate Elite

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren
The Anti-George Will; Harvard Law School Professor; The Corporate Elite's Worst Nightmare

The Flag of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

The Flag of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
I was born and raised in Pittsfield, Massachusetts

State Senator Stan Rosenberg

State Senator Stan Rosenberg
Democratic State Senator from Amherst, Massachusetts -/- Anti-Stan Rosenberg Blog: rosenbergwatch.blogspot.com

Ellen Story

Ellen Story
Amherst Massachusetts' State Representative

Teen Pregnancy in Pittsfield, Mass.

Teen Pregnancy in Pittsfield, Mass.
Books are being written on Pittsfield's high teen pregancy rates! What some intellectuals do NOT understand about the issue is that TEEN PREGNANCIES in Pittsfield double the statewide average by design - Perverse Incentives!

NH Governor John Lynch

NH Governor John Lynch
Supports $30 Scratch Tickets and other forms of regressive taxation. Another Pol that only serves his Corporate Elite Masters instead of the People!

U.S. Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter

U.S. Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter
The first woman whom the People of New Hampshire have voted in to serve in U.S. Congress

U.S. Congressman Paul Hodes

U.S. Congressman Paul Hodes
A good man who wants to bring progressive changes to Capitol Hill!

Paul Hodes for U.S. Congress

Paul Hodes for U.S. Congress
New Hampshire's finest!

Darth Vader

Darth Vader
Star Wars

Dick Cheney & George W. Bush

Dick Cheney & George W. Bush
The Gruesome Two-some! Stop the Neo-Cons' fascism! End the Iraq War NOW!

WAROPOLY

WAROPOLY
The Inequity of Globalism

Bushopoly!

Bushopoly!
The Corporate Elite have redesigned "The System" to enrich themselves at the expense of the people, masses, have-nots, poor & middle-class families

George W. Bush with Karl Rove

George W. Bush with Karl Rove
Rove was a political strategist with extraordinary influence within the Bush II White House

2008's Republican Prez-field

2008's Republican Prez-field
John McCain, Alan Keyes, Rudy Guiliani, Duncan Hunter, Mike Huckabee, WILLARD Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, Ron Paul

Fall in New England

Fall in New England
Autumn is my favorite season

Picturing America

Picturing America
picturingamerica.neh.gov

Winter Weather Map

Winter Weather Map
3:45PM EST 3-Dec-07

Norman Rockwell Painting

Norman Rockwell Painting
Thanksgiving

Norman Rockwell Painting

Norman Rockwell Painting
Depiction of American Values in mid-20th Century America

Larry Bird #33

Larry Bird #33
My favorite basketball player of my childhood

Boston Celtics Basketball - 2007-2008

Boston Celtics Basketball - 2007-2008
Kevin Garnett hugs James Posey

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce
All heart! Awesome basketball star for The Boston Celtics.

Tom Brady

Tom Brady
Go Patriots!

Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch
Owner of Fox News - CORPORATE ELITE!

George Stephanopolous

George Stephanopolous
A Corporate Elite Political News Analyst

Robert Redford

Robert Redford
Starred in the movie "Lions for Lambs"

Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep
Plays a jaded journalist with integrity in the movie "Lions for Lambs"

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise plays the Neo-Con D.C. Pol purely indoctrinated by the Corporate Elite's political agenda in the Middle East

CHARLIZE THERON

CHARLIZE THERON
"I want to say I've never been surrounded by so many fake breasts, but I went to the Academy Awards."

Amherst Town Library

Amherst Town Library
Amherst, NH - www.amherstlibrary.org

Manchester NH Library

Manchester NH Library
I use the library's automated timed 1-hour-per-day Internet computers to post on my Blog - www.manchester.lib.nh.us

Manchester NH's Palace Theater

Manchester NH's Palace Theater
Manchester NH decided to restore its Palace Theater

Pittsfield's Palace Theater

Pittsfield's Palace Theater
Pittsfield tore down this landmark on North Street in favor of a parking lot

Pleasant Street Theater

Pleasant Street Theater
Amherst, Massachusetts

William "Shitty" Pignatelli

William "Shitty" Pignatelli
A top down & banal State House Pol from Lenox Massachusetts -- A GOOD MAN!

The CIA & Mind Control

The CIA & Mind Control
Did the CIA murder people by proxy assassins?

Skull & Bones

Skull & Bones
Yale's Elite

ImpeachBush.org

ImpeachBush.org
I believe President Bush should be IMPEACHED because he is waging an illegal and immoral war against Iraq!

Bob Feuer drumming for U.S. Congress v John Olver in 2008

Bob Feuer drumming for U.S. Congress v John Olver in 2008
www.blog.bobfeuer.us

Abe Lincoln

Abe Lincoln
The 16th President of the USA

Power

Power
Peace

Global Warming Mock Giant Thermometer

Global Warming Mock Giant Thermometer
A member of Green Peace activist sets up a giant thermometer as a symbol of global warming during their campaign in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2007. World leaders launch marathon negotiations Monday on how to fight global warming, which left unchecked could cause devastating sea level rises, send millions further into poverty and lead to the mass extinction of plants and animals.

combat global warming...

combat global warming...
...or risk economic and environmental disaster caused by rising temperatures

www.climatecrisiscoalition.org

www.climatecrisiscoalition.org
P.O. Box 125, South Lee, MA 01260, (413) 243-5665, tstokes@kyotoandbeyond.org, www.kyotoandbeyond.org

3 Democratic presidentional candidates

3 Democratic presidentional candidates
Democratic presidential candidates former senator John Edwards (from right) and Senators Joe Biden and Chris Dodd before the National Public Radio debate yesterday (12/4/2007).

The UN Seal

The UN Seal
An archaic & bureaucratic post WW2 top-down, non-democratic institution that also stands for some good governance values

Superman

Superman
One of my favorite childhood heroes and movies

Web-Site on toxic toys

Web-Site on toxic toys
www.healthytoys.org

Batman

Batman
One of my favorite super-heroes

Deval Patrick & Denis Guyer

Deval Patrick & Denis Guyer
Massachusetts' Governor stands with Dalton's State Rep. Denis E. Guyer.

Bill Cosby & Denis Guyer

Bill Cosby & Denis Guyer
TV Star Bill Cosby stands with Denis E. Guyer

Denis Guyer with his supporters

Denis Guyer with his supporters
Dalton State Representative

Denis Guyer goes to college

Denis Guyer goes to college
Dalton State Representative

Peter Marchetti

Peter Marchetti
He is my second cousin. Pete Marchetti favors MONEY, not fairness!

Matt Barron & Denis Guyer with couple

Matt Barron & Denis Guyer with couple
Matt Barron plays DIRTY politics against his opponents!

Nat Karns

Nat Karns
Top-Down Executive Director of the ELITIST Berkshire Regional Planning Commission

Human Rights for All Peoples & people

Human Rights for All Peoples & people
Stop Anti-Semitism

Massachusetts State Treasurer Tim Cahill

Massachusetts State Treasurer Tim Cahill
State House, Room 227, Boston, MA 02133, 617-367-6900, www.mass.gov/treasury/

Massachusetts State Attorney General Martha Coakley

Massachusetts State Attorney General Martha Coakley
1350 Main Street, Springfield, MA 01103, 413-784-1240 / McCormick Building, One Asburton Place, Boston, MA 02108, 617-727-4765 / marthacoakley.com / www.ago.state.ma.us

Bush v. Gore: December 12, 2007, was the seventh anniversary, the 5-4 Supreme Court decision...

Bush v. Gore: December 12, 2007, was the seventh anniversary, the 5-4 Supreme Court decision...
www.takebackthecourt.org - A political billboard near my downtown apartment in Manchester, NH

Marc Murgo

Marc Murgo
An old friend of mine from Pittsfield

Downtown Manchester, NH

Downtown Manchester, NH
www.newhampshire.com/nh-towns/manchester.aspx

Marisa Tomei

Marisa Tomei
Movie Actress

Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities (MCHC)

Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities (MCHC)
www.masschc.org/issue.php

Mike Firestone & Anna Weisfeiler

Mike Firestone & Anna Weisfeiler
Mike Firestone works in Manchester NH for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign

James Pindell

James Pindell
Covers NH Primary Politcs for The Boston Globe

U.S. History - Declaration

U.S. History - Declaration
A 19th century engraving shows Benjamin Franklin, left, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Philip Livingston and Roger Sherman at work on the Declaration of Independence.

Boston Globe Photos of the Week - www.boston.com/bostonglobe/gallery/

Boston Globe Photos of the Week - www.boston.com/bostonglobe/gallery/
Sybregje Palenstijn (left), who plays Sarah Godbertson at Plimouth Plantation, taught visitors how to roast a turkey on a spit. The plantation often sees a large influx of visitors during the holiday season.

Chris Hodgkins

Chris Hodgkins
Another special interest Berkshire Pol who could not hold his "WATER" on Beacon Hill's State House!

The Big Dig - 15 tons of concrete fell from a tunnel ceiling onto Milena Del Valle's car.

The Big Dig - 15 tons of concrete fell from a tunnel ceiling onto Milena Del Valle's car.
Most of Boston's Big Dig highway remains closed, after a woman was crushed when 15 tons of concrete fell from a tunnel ceiling onto her car. (ABC News)

Jane Swift

Jane Swift
Former Acting Governor of Massachusetts & Berkshire State Senator

Paul Cellucci

Paul Cellucci
Former Massachusetts Governor

William Floyd Weld

William Floyd Weld
$80 Million Trust Fund Former Governor of Massachusetts

Mike Dukakis

Mike Dukakis
Former Governor of Massachusetts

Mary E. Carey

Mary E. Carey
Amherst, Massachusetts, Journalist and Blogger

Caveman

Caveman
www.ongeicocaveman.blogspot.com

Peter G. Arlos

Peter G. Arlos
"The biggest challenge Pittsfield faces is putting its fiscal house in order. The problem is that doing so requires structural changes in local government, many of which I have advocated for years, but which officials do not have the will to implement. Fiscal responsibility requires more than shifting funds from one department to another. Raising taxes and fees and cutting services are not the answer. Structural changes in the way services are delivered and greater productivity are the answer, and without these changes the city's fiscal crisis will not be solved."

James M. Ruberto

James M. Ruberto
"Pittsfield's biggest challenge is to find common ground for a better future. The city is at a crossroads. On one hand, our quality of life is challenged. On the other hand, some important building blocks are in place that could be a strong foundation for our community. Pittsfield needs to unite for the good of its future. The city needs an experienced businessman and a consensus builder who will invite the people to hold him accountable."

Matt Kerwood

Matt Kerwood
Pittsfield's Councilor-At-Large. Go to: extras.berkshireeagle.com/NeBe/profiles/12.htm

Gerald M. Lee

Gerald M. Lee
Pittsfield's City Council Prez. Top-down governance of the first order!

Mary Carey

Mary Carey
Mary with student

Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox
Jonathan Papelbon celebrates with Jason Varitek

Free Bernard Baran!

Free Bernard Baran!
www.freebaran.org

Political Intelligence

Political Intelligence
Capitol Hill

Sherwood Guernsey II

Sherwood Guernsey II
Wealthy Williamstown Political Activist & Pittsfield Attorney

Mary Carey 2

Mary Carey 2
California Pol & porn star

Pittsfield's Good Old Boy Network - Political Machine!

Pittsfield's Good Old Boy Network - Political Machine!
Andy "Luciforo" swears in Jimmy Ruberto for the returning Mayor's 3rd term

Berkshire Grown

Berkshire Grown
www.berkshiregrown.org

Rambo

Rambo

The Mount was built in 1902 & was home to Edith Wharton (1862-1937) from 1903 to 1908.

The Mount was built in 1902 & was home to Edith Wharton (1862-1937) from 1903 to 1908.
The Mount, the historic home in Lenox of famed American novelist Edith Wharton, is facing foreclosure.