Former Massachusetts Senator Andrea Nuciforo Jr. (aired 5/6/09)
Dr. Alan Chartock - WAMC.org - ALBANY, NY - (2009-05-06)
Today Alan is joined by Former Massachusetts State Senator Andrea Nuciforo Jr. to discuss how things have changed since leaving the Massachusetts Senate to become a Register of Deeds.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Re: Alan Chartock's column in today's B-Eagle:
You are intelligent and usually fair, which is why I canNOT understand how and why you keep praising Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.! You say that "he's been a great state senator, a fine lawyer and has done a lot for all of us." You state that he should win this office (Central Berkshire Register of Deeds) in Pittsfield, which shows how uninformed and therefore BIASED you are about this bad man.
My reasons for writing to you in DISSENT, once again, of your endorsement and praise of Nuciforo focuses primarily on the following issue with an enclosed news article, thereby backing my critical statements against Nuciforo backed with ACTUAL FACTS!!!!, which I have presented below:
(1) Before Nuciforo went into this race, there were two women running. Their names were (a) Sharon E. Henault and (b) Sara Hathaway.
(2) What happened once Nuciforo entered the race?
Is the answer? ...
(a) Nuciforo wanted to uphold the institutions of democracy and support the opposing candidacies of Henault and Hathaway.
(b) Nuciforo, who is a man, wanted to uphold the values of diversity and support the opposing candidacies of the two opposing women candidates.
(c) Nuciforo wanted the people to have a choice by supporting the different views of opposing candidates.
(d) Nuciforo wanted to have a political discussion among his political opposition as to how to best run the Registry of Deeds Office.
(3) The ANSWER is NONE of the ABOVE!
That is right, Alan Chartock! Your sorry praise of Nuciforo is unwarranted. The TRUTH is is that Nuciforo STRONG-ARMED his two opposing political candidates out of the race for Registry of Deeds.
(4) HOW DID NUCIFORO DO IT? The answer to your predictable question of retort is that Nuciforo is part of the Pittsfield Political Machine! If you read the news article, below, you will see by cutting through the unwritten "layers of the onion" that Nuciforo would have FIRED --yes, that is right, Alan, FIRED -- Henault if she had opposed Nuciforo and lost to him on September 19th.
Now, Alan, you would ask, "Jonathan, isn't that the name of the game? My answer to you Alan is that by Nuciforo giving her a "choice" to drop out and letting him run ultimately unopposed -- as Nuciforo soon there-after strong armed Hathaway out of this race -- or Henault would have lost everything. By everything, Alan, I mean Henault would have lost all of her own long-term state pension contributions, her health-care coverage, her income, and the like, and she would be then forced to have lived an old age in poverty. To put it into a phrase everyone can understand, if Henault did not drop out of the race and Nuciforo then defeated her, Nuciforo would have "FED HENAULT TO THE WOLVES!" Ah, now we understand, Alan.
(5) Alan: You are PATHETIC --yes, PATHETIC -- for your praise for state Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.! Nuciforo is a strong arm, machine politician who only represents himself and the powerful special interests that will keep him powerful. Alan: You are a good man, but I am going to legally and legitimately warn you that from here on, when you unduly praise Nuciforo, I will ALWAYS be writing against your biased opinions with the strongest of my DISSENT! I AM AN AMERICAN CITIZEN with U.S. CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS and CIVIL LIBERTIES, AND I WILL ALWAYS SPEAK MY GOOD CONSCIENCE for AS LONG AS I LIVE! GIVE ME LIBERTY or GIVE ME DEATH! (As quoted from the Revolutionary Virginian Leader Patrick Henry, who declared at the Continental Congress that "I am not just a Virginian, I am an American!")
My very best regards and fondness to you Alan Chartock, my friend,
Jonathan A. Melle
ENCLOSED NEWS ARTICLE:
Register race narrows to two
By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire [The Berkshire] Eagle Staff
The Berkshire Eagle
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
PITTSFIELD — Sharon E. Henault yesterday withdrew as a candidate to succeed Berkshire Middle District Register of Deeds Mary K. O'Brien and said she will instead support State Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr.'s bid.
The 38-year-old Henault's decision leaves Nuciforo and his former chief of staff, ex-Pittsfield Mayor Sara Hathaway, both Democrats, as the only two candidates who have so far taken out nomination papers to run for the six-year term as O'Brien's successor in the November elections.
"I love and enjoy my job," said Henault, who has been the first assistant register to O'Brien for almost four years. She began working at the registry of deeds 21 years ago as a junior clerk.
"I was running because I was concerned about what was going to happen to the office," she said. "When I took out my papers, I didn't know who was running or who was interested in the position."
Henault was the first to take out nomination papers for the office, but after meeting with Nuciforo to discuss how the registry operates, and after talking over her decision with family, friends and supporters, Henault said she decided to withdraw from the race and back Nuciforo.
"I've always respected him and enjoyed talking to him," she said. "I felt confident that if he got into office that it would remain the same."
Both Nuciforo and Hathaway could not be reached for comment last night.
The register's position is a low-profile post but carries an annual salary of roughly $80,000 and is a position that incumbents can hold for decades. O'Brien was first elected in 1975, when she defeated three men in the Democratic primary and then out-polled the Republican candidate, the late Paul Abkowitz.
Henault said the register performs more administrative duties than the first assistant does.
"I enjoy being an assistant because I like everything I do and because I'm very hands-on," Henault said. "I felt that if I was elected register it wouldn't be as hands-on. I hope he (Nuciforo) gets in so that I can remain in the position that I'm in."
Henault said she will support Nuciforo's candidacy, but isn't sure how.
"I will do what I can, but as a state employee I have to be careful," Henault said.
"Phantom party thwarts independent voters: Registry forms may cause public confusion"
By Michael Levenson, Boston Globe Staff, March 1, 2008
When Valerie Schechter showed up to vote in the presidential primary on Feb. 5, she expected to take a Democratic ballot and vote for Hillary Clinton. But a poll worker noticed that she was registered as a member of the Interdependent Third Party.
"I'd never even heard of it," she said.
It's no wonder. The party has no website, no phone number, no chairman, no platform. Its last known candidate was a gadfly from the tiny town of Adams who ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate in 2002 on a promise to slash water and sewer rates. He is now deceased.
And yet his party, almost miraculously, is thriving. According to state officials, 2,380 Massachusetts voters are registered members of the Interdependent Third Party. The apparently moribund political group is now the second biggest of the 18 officially recognized minor parties in the state, having swelled its ranks by 31 voters since 2006.
The reason has nothing to do with the residual appeal of the failed Senate candidate, William P. Foley. Instead, election officials trace the party's growth to voters, like Schechter, who filled out voter registration forms at the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
Massachusetts voters who enroll at the Registry must fill out forms that include check-boxes for the state's four major political parties. They also include a check-box for unenrolled to indicate that a voter wants to remain independent. A third option allows voters to write in a minor political affiliation. Election officials believe that many voters who wanted to register as independents be came confused by the selections. Rather than checking unenrolled, they checked the minor affiliation box and wrote the word independent. Clerks processing the forms then entered those voters in the party whose name seemed like the closest match, the Interdependent Third Party.
Secretary of State William F. Galvin, the state's top election official, said he has for years asked Registry workers to double-check with voters to determine whether they really want to join the Interdependent Third Party. He expressed annoyance that so many had still apparently been enrolled in the obscure party. The party, he pointed out, has more members than most others minor affiliations in the state. The Reform Party, for instance, has 576 members statewide, the Socialist Party, has 198 members, the Conservative Party has 104 members, and the We The People party has 17 members.
"We find it very suspect," Galvin said.
Ann C. Dufresne, a Registry spokeswoman, said clerks are double-checking with voters who write in the word "independent." And she said that all voters receive a confirmation slip after they register that shows the party they have joined. Anyone who wants to change parties can do so.
"There are stopgaps, but to a certain extent there's a responsibility to the person who is registering," Dufresne said.
Andrea F. Nuciforo, who beat Foley for the Senate seat in 2002, said he could not recall anyone officially affiliated with the Interdependent Third Party, other than his erstwhile competitor.
"Bill Foley is apparently contributing to democracy from beyond," said Nuciforo, who is now registrar of deeds in Berkshire County.
Foley may also be foiling democracy. Schechter, 60, a real estate broker from Hyde Park, was allowed to vote for Clinton, but her ballot was not counted because only independents and registered Democrats can vote in that party's primary. She was left feeling both angry and foolish, she said. And she has since changed her registration to "unenrolled."
"Why would I be a member of a party that doesn't exist?" she said.
Michael Levenson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Ruberto Details Plans for Success", By Jen Thomas -iBerkshires.com-, January 07, 2008
Mayor James M. Ruberto is sworn in by Register of Deeds Andrea Nuciforo as City Councilors Matthew Kerwood and Michael Ward look on at Monday's inaugural ceremony.
On "Luciforo's" new business venture:
On "Luciforo's" corrupt political career:
On "Luciforo's" write-up in The Boston Globe concerning his collusion with the state's Massachusetts Insurance Companies & other wealthy, corporate elite financial institions lobbying Beacon Hill:
On "Luciforo's" Strong-Arming of Sharon Henault and then Sara Hathaway out of a 2006 Massachusetts State Government Election for Registry of Deeds in Pittsfield:
On "Luciforo" on "Berkshire Blog":
Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.
Register of Deeds
Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. of Pittsfield was elected Register of Deeds for Berkshire Middle District in November 2006. By virtue of that office, he serves as the keeper of real estate records for the Berkshire Middle District.
Prior to assuming the office of Register, Nuciforo served as State Senator for the Berkshire, Hampshire & Franklin District. Representing over 160,000 people in 48 cities and towns throughout western Massachusetts, he was elected to the Senate in 1996, having won a four-way Democratic primary and three-way general election. He was re-elected in 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2004. Among other committee assignments, he served as the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Financial Services and was a member of the Senate Ways & Means Committee from 1998 to 2005.
While serving in the Senate, he authored hundreds of legislative proposals, including several enacted into law: An act Relative to Mortgage Discharges (chapter 63; 2006); an Act to Re-codify the Mortgage Laws of the Commonwealth (chapter 461: 2004); and an Act Relative to Electronic Signatures (chapter 133: 2003). He has also worked closely with municipal officials, including mayors, city councilors, and selectmen and finance committee members on economic development, housing, drinking water, and school construction projects.
A graduate of Boston University School of Law and the University of Massachusetts- Amherst, Nuciforo is an attorney licensed to practice law in Massachusetts and in New York. He has practiced law for many years in Boston and in Pittsfield.
"How’s Sharon Henault?"
Long time visitors and friends of the Registry acknowledge Sharon Henault’s dedication and hard work over her 22 years of service. While Sharon has been out of the office since October 17th, , she is in our thoughts and prayers and we look forward to her speedy recovery. We anticipate her return to the Registry, and her working full days, by the end of the year.
Sharon and the entire registry staff would like to thank you for your kindness, generosity and support over the last few weeks.
Meet Our Staff
ANDREA F. NUCIFORO, JR.,
Deputy Second Assistant
Technical Assistant to Land Court
Head Administrative Clerk
“Leave nothing for tomorrow which can be done today.” -- Abraham Lincoln
The following municipalities comprise the Berkshire Middle District Registry Of Deeds: Pittsfield, Becket, Dalton, Hinsdale, ..., Lee, Lenox, Otis, Peru, Richmond, Stockbridge, Tyringham, and Washington, Massachusetts.
Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Citizens' Guide to State Services
Published by William Francis Galvin, Secretary of the Commonwealth, Citizen Information Service
Secretary of the Commonwealth: Registry of Deeds
Chapter 48 of the Acts of 1997 initiated the process of abolishment of some county government offices. The following is a list of county Registries of Deeds, so far, that have been placed under the supervision of the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth (those not listed are still independent, though contact information is available by visiting the website above):
Berkshire - Middle
Andrea F. Nuciforo, Registrar
44 Bank Row
Pittsfield, MA 01201
Tel: (413) 443-7438
Fax (413) 448-6025
"Berkshire County property sells for $7 million"
By Associated Press, Thursday, July 3, 2008, www.bostonherald.com, Real Estate
RICHMOND - A 44-acre property in Richmond that sold for $7 million is believed to be the most expensive residential real estate transaction in Berkshire County history.
Central Berkshire Registrar of Deeds Andrea Nuciforo says the rumor was that the estate at 311 Summit Road had been bought by Hollywood power couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.
But the buyers are actually Gordon and Adele Binder of Los Angeles. Gordon Binder is the former CEO of pharmaceutical company Amgen.
The property includes a Colonial-style home, tennis court, pool, utility sheds and adjacent land parcels. The previous owner paid $2.2 million for the property in 2002.
The sale surpasses the January 2007 purchase of Southmayd Farm in Stockbridge, which sold for $6.9 million.
Article URL: www.bostonherald.com/business/real_estate/view.bg?articleid=1104841
"Richmond property pulls $7M: The sale of the home on Summit Road is believed to be the highest ever in Berkshire County."
By Ellen G. Lahr, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Thursday, July 03, 2008
RICHMOND — Just for the record, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are not the new owners of property at 311 Summit Road, which changed hands this week for $7 million, believed to be highest-priced residential property deal in the county's history.
"The rumor was rampant for weeks about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, but that ain't it," said Bruce Garlow, town administrator for Richmond.
The buyers of the Colonial-style property, with its tennis court, pool, utility sheds and adjacent land parcels, are the retired CEO of Amgen, a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical research company, and his wife, a developer.
Gordon M. and Adele H. Binder of Los Angeles, trustees of the Binder Trust, bought the 44-acre property privately from Leslie B. and Nannette S. Lewis of Brookline.
The transaction was recorded Monday in the Central Berkshire Registry of Deeds, where Registrar Andrea F. Nuciforo said he cannot recall a residential deal of that magnitude in his office — or in the county.
He, too, had heard the Jolie-Pitt rumor.
The deal reflects a $2.925 million mortgage from Bank of America, according to registry records. The transaction also required the buyers to make a state excise tax payment of $4.56 per $1,000, totaling $31,920, said Nuciforo.
Registry records show that the Lewis couple bought the property in 2002 for $2.2 million.
According to property assessment records at Richmond Town Hall, the main 18-acre parcel, including the residence, is assessed at $1,812,400.
The Summit Road sale surpasses the January 2007 purchase of Southmayd Farm in Stockbridge, which at the time was the county's highest-priced residential transaction at $6.9 million.
In April 2007, the Rock Ridge estate on Tyringham Road in Monterey, sold for $4.05 million.
Richmond is also home to Gov. Deval L. Patrick, who owns a weekend house a few miles away from the Binders' new residence.
The Boston Globe, Editorial: Short Fuse, August 25, 2008
"County office: Send in the pros"
No one is challenging John Buonomo in the race for Middlesex County register of probate, and all indications are that he is running for reelection. Never mind that he was suspended from office by the Supreme Judicial Court after being charged with stealing from government-owned copy machines -- accusations buttressed by police surveillance videos. The courts will assess his guilt or innocence, but his case raises another question: Why is register of probate an elected office in the first place? As an administrative job with little policymaking power, it should be filled by appointment. It shouldn't be what it is: a political fiefdom.
"A far cry from democracy in the Bay State"
The Boston Globe - Letters
October 2, 2008
I APPLAUD the editorial page for its concerns regarding South African democracy ("After Mbeki," Sept. 23). I only wish you held those concerns for our dear Massachusetts.
In South Africa the African National Congress controls 70 percent of the National Assembly and the presidency, while in Massachusetts the Democrats hold 87 percent of the General Court and the governorship. You note that in South Africa, "a virtual one-party state has allowed ANC leaders in power to become less and less accountable to the populace."
But so too in Massachusetts. Disgraced state Senator James Marzilli is still receiving a paycheck. Middlesex Register of Probate John Buonomo took the primary despite having already resigned under corruption charges.
You are outraged by the lack of accountability in far-off Africa while too comfortable with the entrenched Democratic power structure here in Massachusetts. Where is the editorial outrage for Massachusetts? Or will you never bite the hand that feeds you?
Elizabeth Banks (above)
The Boston Globe - Names: "Banks a lot"
By Mark Shanahan and Paysha Rhone, Boston Globe Staff, December 20, 2008
Actress Elizabeth Banks (above) will wing in next month to help present an award to her hometown at the State House. Pittsfield mayor James Ruberto will accept the Creative Community award from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which yesterday announced the winners of its biennial Commonwealth Awards, the state's highest honors in arts and culture. Other winners include: the Worcester Cultural Coalition, Peabody Essex Museum, the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, the Behrakis Foundation, Louis Casagrande, the Boston Children's Museum, and the Codman Academy Charter Public School. Banks will give the keynote speech at the Jan. 13 awards ceremony. She recently starred in "W" and "Zack and Miri Make a Porno," and just signed a $1 million annual contract to be a spokesmodel for L'Or??al Paris. She joins the glamorous ranks of Beyonc?? Knowles, Diane Keaton, and Eva Longoria Parker.
Jonathan Melle's COMMENT:
It is a good thing Elizabeth Mitchell "Banks" did not put her energies into running for political office in Pittsfield! If she did, "Luciforo" would have strong-armed her out of the election like he did Sara Hathaway and Sharon Henault in 2006! Mayor Jimmy Ruberto would have probably picked on her if she protested. Yep! It is a good thing she went into acting instead of Pittsfield Politics!
- Jonathan Melle
Massachusetts Cultural Council's 2009 Commonwealth Awards
On the heels of the Golden Globes...
The Massachusetts Cultural Council's ceremony for its biennial Commonwealth Awards will take place this Tuesday at the Massachusetts Statehouse. The MCC created the Commonwealth Awards in 1993 to "honor individuals and organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to our communities, our economy, and our quality of life in Massachusetts." This year's awards and winners:
The City of Pittsfield, Mayor James Ruberto
For more information, please go to:
Jonathan Melle's thoughts:
This is pure propaganda! Mayor Jimmy Ruberto used many millions of dollars from GE's economic development funds to buy this award! To read about the real Pittsfield, please visit my Blog pages:
Jimmy & Andy (BARF!):
..."This magic moment of Pittsfield Politics...or Pittsfield's real culture!" -Jonathan A. Melle
Google Blogs Alert for: "Ruberto" "Pittsfield"
Our Daily RED
The 2009 Awards ceremony will feature actress Elizabeth Banks, a native of Pittsfield, and will also honor recent MCC Artist Fellows in all disciplines. Each Commonwealth Award winner receives a medal from Reed & Barton and an original ...
Our Daily RED - http://ourdailyred.bigredandshiny.com/
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Photo by WireImage.com
Pittsfield homegal Elizabeth Banks, shown here at last week’s Critics Choice Awards in Santa Monica, California, will appear at the State House tomorrow (1/13/2009) for the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Commonwealth Awards.
"Elizabeth Banks checks in for local awards gig"
By Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa with Simone Press, Monday, January 12, 2009, www.bostonherald.com, The Inside Track
Pittsfield royalty Elizabeth Banks hopes she makes her western Massachusetts hometown proud when the Harvest Queen-turned-Hollywood A-lister headlines the Commonwealth Awards tomorrow at the State House .
“I’m a little nervous, and, yes, I have to write my own speech,” the star of “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” told the Track. “But they did give me some talking points so it won’t be that difficult. I just want to do right by my hometown.”
Banks, a classicly trained stage actress who has made a career out of goofball comedies such as “Zack and Miri,” “The 40 Year Old Virgin” and TV’s “Scrubs,” will present Pittsfield Mayor James Ruberto with the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Creative Community Award.
“The Berkshires was a pretty great place to grow up and Pittsfield was at the heart of it,” she said. “I was very lucky to have found my passion through after-school arts programs, so I love the thought of helping the Cultural Council.”
And then there were the summers sneaking into hoity-toity Tanglewood in nearby Lenox - thanks to all her high school buddies who worked the beer stands or in the parking lots.
“I spent many a night listening to the (Boston Symphony) orchestra, but I was real fond of the Youth Orchestra,” said Banks, who will extend her trip home through the weekend to celebrate her dad’s 60th birthday.
“Appearing at the Williamstown Theatre Festival was a great lifelong dream of mine,” gushed Banks, who played Cherie in the festival’s production of “Bus Stop” in 2005.
“Until then I had gone to the Cabaret Nights, which are totally amazing,” she said. “They brought in hungry, interesting people - writers, directors and musicians. And when you’re young, you’re idealistic and can believe anything can happen in the theater. You think you can put on some Brechtian version of Shakespeare that is just awesome and will just blow people’s minds.”
Then you get real.
This year, Banks and her hubby, Max Handelman, branched out into production with the film “The Surrogates” starring Bruce Willis that filmed in Boston last spring. The sci-fi thriller will hit theaters next fall.
“That was like a moving train,” Banks said. “We got very lucky. It’s sort of a Cinderella story for the producers.”
Also, over the past year the Pittsfield homegal got a lot of screen time with three flicks - “Zack and Miri,” “W” and “Role Models.” And “The Uninvited” - a thriller co-starring David Strathairn that hits megaplexes Jan. 30 - gave her the chance to “play evil.”
“I really relished being baaaaaaaaad,” said Banks, who plays a wicked stepmother. “But it was fun. I heard in a couple of test screenings people were getting really uppity about my character and yelling back at me on the screen. I love the fact I am riling people with this role.”
Article URL: www.bostonherald.com/track/inside_track/view.bg?articleid=1144709
"Pittsfield native Elizabeth Banks will lend a helping hand: Actress will present her hometown a Commonwealth Award."
By Dick Lindsay, Berkshire Eagle Staff, Tuesday, January 13, 2009
PITTSFIELD — Actress and Pittsfield native Elizabeth Banks will be in Boston today to help honor her hometown as one of the top cultural communities in the Bay State.
Banks will formally present to Mayor James M. Ruberto one of the six 2009 Commonwealth Awards being handed out by the Massachusetts Cultural Council during a ceremony at the Statehouse.
Ruberto wasn't surprised that Pittsfield won the creative community category — beating out 68 other cities and towns — when the council announced the winners last month.
"This award is given to the entire community and volunteers who have advanced the arts in Pittsfield," said Ruberto on Monday.
That includes Pittsfield High School drama teacher Ralph Hammann who will introduce Banks, a former student of his.
"This (award) is a tremendous endorsement of the quality of drama in the Pittsfield Public Schools," Ruberto added.
Along with the mayor and his wife, Barrington Stage Co. Artistic Director Julianne Boyd, the city's cultural development staff, and all five Berkshire state lawmakers will be on hand to celebrate Pittsfield's recognition.
"The award validates our move and Pittsfield as a cultural community," said Boyd, whose theater group relocated from Sheffield to the city's downtown in 2006.
"We had a number of naysayers ask, 'Why are you moving to Pittsfield?' " noted Boyd, who said the company's 500-seat theater on Union Street is a "perfect space."
The arrival of Barrington Stage, the revival of The Colonial Theater, the addition of Third Thursdays — the downtown block party-style event held every month from May through October, and the growth of established cultural attractions have also been key to the city's economic development.
"By growing and nourishing cultural activities, we've helped the city move toward economic success," said Megan Whilden, Pittsfield's cultural development director.
Pittsfield joins previous Commonwealth Award winners from the Berkshires such as cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Shakespeare & Co. founder Tina Packer, Mass MoCA Executive Director Joseph Thompson, and arts patron Jane Fitzpatrick of Stockbridge.
To reach Dick Lindsay: email@example.com, or (413) 496-6233.
"Pittsfield Recognized for Cultural Renaissance"
By Tammy Daniels -iBerkshires Staff- January 12, 2009
PITTSFIELD, Massachusetts — The city's decision to create an office of cultural development a few years back was a controversial one.
Elevating the arts to the same level as economic development didn't seem to make a lot of sense to some, even with all the talk about "creative economies."
"It was a huge and bold move forward by the mayor and the City Council," said Megan Whilden, the newly minted department's first — and so far only director. A couple years later, and a burgeoning cultural scene, and a "a pillar of Pittsfield politics" sidled up her and admitted, "I opposed your hiring, I didn't understand why it was necessary ... now, I'm your biggest fan."
That local pillar isn't the only one. On Tuesday, Pittsfield will be the first city ever to receive a Commonwealth Award, the highest awards in the arts, humanities and sciences given by the Massachusetts Cultural Council every two years.
"From the expanded Berkshire Museum to the revitalized Colonial theater, from its 3rd Thursdays to its independent, creative businesses, Pittsfield knows how to nurture its cultural resources," said state council's Executive Director Anita Walker in a statement. "The city's mayor, James Ruberto, and its cultural development director, Megan Whilden, understand what arts and culture can do for their city."
Whilden will join Ruberto, his wife, Ellen, the Berkshire delegation, Barrington Stage Company's artistic director Julianne Boyd and others in Boston for the State House ceremony. To top off Pittsfield's triumph, actress and city native Elizabeth Banks will present the Creative Community Award to Ruberto.
"I hope we get a shot of her kissing the mayor on the cheek," said Whilden, comparing Banks' appearance with the mayor to the 2007 visit by Red Sox Daisuke Matsuzaka for a personal glimpse of the city's 1791 bylaw regulating baseball, believed to be earliest reference to the game.
Banks will be introduced by her high school drama teacher, Ralph Hamman.
There were 69 submissions for the Creative Community Award, which has been given to individuals or organizations that have significantly enriched their communities in the arts and sciences. This year, cities and towns were also accepted for demonstrating the central role of arts and culture in building healthier, more vital more livable communities.
The council pointed to Pittsfield's investment in the arts and cultural sector over the past five years through the office of cultural development, and its support in the renovation of the Colonial, establishing a home for Barrington State Compnay, creating a downtown arts district and the expansion of the Berkshire Museum. That, in turn, has attracted two dozen new businesses to the heart of Pittsfield.
"The City of Pittsfield is incredibly honored to receive this award from the commonwealth of Massachusetts," said Ruberto in a statement. "We strongly believe in, support, and celebrate arts and culture as an essential part of our economic and community revitalization, with the help and support of the Massachusetts Cultural Council and other state agencies. The best way for Pittsfield and the commonwealth to move forward successfully in the 21st century is to continue to invest in the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of our community."
Whilden said the city isn't out to become an arts oasis, but rather a vibrant community in which art plays an important role in the economic sector and improves the quality of life. That can be seen, she said, in the successful 3rd Thursday events during the summer which brings residents downtown for an evening of shopping, music, art, dance, visiting and dining that has broad appeal.
"It's important to me and the mayor that everyone is included," she said. "We really have an approach where art is for everyone."
Something is always happening and its bringing young people back to the city, said Whilden, noting her office's last two VISTA/Americorps volunteers stayed in Pittsfield after completing their terms. "We're actually seeing a rise in young people; they're very excited to participate in the city."
With looming budget cuts at state and local levels on the horizon, she said the city and local organizations will have to think, well, creatively to keep the cultural wheels turning. "This recession means the death of the old way of doing things and the birth of a new way of doing things."
It's more important than ever to ensure the arts and sciences continue to be integrated into the city's goals, especially in education, said Whilden. "[Banks] is a great example of someone who benefited from arts education in high school ... and [astronaut] Stephanie Wilson was at Berkshire Music School. ... It can imbue them with an ability to navigate and problem-solve creatively that can serve them well in any field."
Cultural Highlights 2004
Office of Cultural Development
'Sheeptacular' public art project raises more than $300,000 for the community
Downtown Arts Zoning Overlay District; wins state Smart Growth Award in 2006
CulturalPittsfield.com; e-newsletter reaches nearly 5,000 weekly
Barrington Stage moves downtown
Colonial theater reopens; James Taylor films feature-length documentary there
After 20-year absence, Pittsfield Ethnic Fair returns
'Art of the Game,' a two-year community-based public art project
Ferrin Gallery, one of the nation's most prominent ceramic galleries, relocates from Lenox
3rd Thursdays launches in June; resumes in May 2009. Attendance hits 10,000 at times.
Cultural development director named Arts Marketer of the Month by Americans for the Arts, the national arts advocacy association
Berkshire Museum renovations include a new copper roof and the opening of the Berkshire Hall of Innovation
Photo by David Shankbone
Pittsfield native Elizabeth Banks at the premiere of 'Spider-Man 3.'
"City of Pittsfield to be Honored with Statewide Creative Community Award"
iBerkshires.com - January 12, 2009
PITTSFIELD, Mass. - The City of Pittsfield has been chosen to receive a 2009 Commonwealth Award, Massachusetts' highest awards in the arts, humanities, and sciences. Pittsfield is the first city in Massachusetts to receive the Creative Community Award, given to a city, town, or community-based organization that has demonstrated the central role of arts and culture in building healthier, more vital, more livable communities.
“From the expanded Berkshire Museum to the revitalized Colonial Theater, from its 3rd.Thursdays to its independent, creative businesses, Pittsfield knows how to nurture its cultural resources,” said Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) Executive Director Anita Walker. “The city's mayor, James Ruberto, and its cultural development director, Megan Whilden, understand what arts and culture can do for their city.”
Presented every two years by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Commonwealth Awards honor individuals and organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to our communities, our economy, and our quality of life in Massachusetts. The Commonwealth Awards celebration will take place at the Massachusetts State House Tuesday, January 13 from 1 to 4 p.m. Acclaimed actress and Pittsfield native Elizabeth Banks (W., Role Models, Zach & Miri) will be the keynote speaker. Pittsfield Mayor James M. Ruberto will accept the award on behalf of the city.
“This year's Commonwealth Award winners demonstrate the qualities that make Massachusetts such an extraordinary place: creativity, generosity, and a commitment to community service,” said MCC Executive Director Anita Walker. “We are delighted to recognize these individuals and organizations for their exceptional accomplishments and all they have contributed to the Commonwealth.”
“The City of Pittsfield is incredibly honored to receive this award from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” said Mayor Ruberto. “We strongly believe in, support, and celebrate arts and culture as an essential part of our economic and community revitalization, with the help and support of the Massachusetts Cultural Council and other state agencies. The best way for Pittsfield and the Commonwealth to move forward successfully in the 21st century is to continue to invest in the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of our community.”
Over the past five years, the City of Pittsfield, located in the heart of culturally-rich Berkshire County in western Massachusetts, has invested in its arts and cultural sector through the establishment of a municipal Office of Cultural Development; the renovation of the Colonial Theatre, a world class gilded age masterpiece; the establishment of a permanent home for Barrington Stage Company in downtown Pittsfield; the expansion and renovation of the century old Berkshire Museum; and by creating a downtown arts district; all of which has helped attract two dozen new businesses to the heart of Pittsfield in the past few years.
Other Commonwealth Awards to be presented at the ceremony include Creative Economy Catalyst awards to the Worcester Cultural Coalition and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem; a Leadership award to Louis Casagrande of the Boston Children's Museum; and awards in individual achievement, cultural philanthropy, and creative learning.
In addition, former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smith will be on hand to accept two special awards: one for her work to expand arts access to people with disabilities through the international nonprofit VSA Arts, which she founded; and one on behalf of her brother, Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), for co-founding the Senate Cultural Caucus and his longtime support for arts and culture in Massachusetts.
The Commonwealth Awards ceremony is held every two years and is an opportunity for the Massachusetts cultural community to gather to celebrate the role that arts and culture play in building community, improving education, and strengthening our economy. For more information on City of Pittsfield, visit www.pittsfield.com. For more information on the Massachusetts Cultural Council, please visit www.massculturalcouncil.org.
Actress Elizabeth Banks delivered the keynote speech during Tuesday's award ceremony at the Statehouse in Boston. 'I owe my entire life to arts programming,' the Pittsfield native said. (Matt Murphy / Berkshire Eagle Boston Bureau)
"Actress delivers arts honors"
By Matt Murphy, Berkshire Eagle Boston Bureau, Wednesday, January 14, 2009
BOSTON — She was the belle of the ball, but it was her hometown of Pittsfield taking home the award.
Fresh from the Hollywood red carpet of the Golden Globes, actress Elizabeth Banks came back to Massachusetts on Tuesday to honor the city where she began her climb to the silver screen in theater classes at Pittsfield High School.
Pittsfield on Tuesday took home one of nine Commonwealth Awards, the state's highest honor for achievement in the arts and humanities that recognized Pittsfield's place as a cultural center in the state.
The city was recognized with the "Creative Community" award, the result of a focus in the community on the arts that brought about the revitalization of the Colonial Theatre, the addition of Barrington Stage Company, and the continuing growth of the Berkshire Museum and Hancock Shaker Village.
"I owe my entire life to arts programming," said Banks, who recently starred in Oliver Stone's "W.," portraying First Lady Laura Bush.
Banks, 34, delivered the keynote speech Tuesday at the award ceremony in Boston at the Statehouse, where she commented on the progress the city has made since she was a child growing up there.
"When I come home and walk down that main street, North Street, instead of looking at empty storefronts, which would have been the cliché here, I get to see artists' galleries," Banks said.
Her high school drama teacher was also there, making the Hollywood star blush as he praised her accomplishments and delivered a hello from his current students.
"The reason she is where she is today is not because of her luminous beauty or her talent, but her hard work," said Pittsfield High School drama teacher Ralph Hammann.
Hammann said not all of his student will, or should, try to follow in Banks' footsteps, but he said every one of them benefit from an education in the arts.
The Commonwealth Awards are handed out every two years by the Massachusetts Cultural Council recognizing achievements in the arts, sciences and humanities.
Past Berkshire award winners include cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Shakespeare & Company, and Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival.
"From the expanded Berkshire Museum to the revitalized Colonial Theater, from its Third Thursdays to its independent, creative businesses, Pittsfield knows how to nurture its cultural resources," said Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) Executive Director Anita Walker.
Pittsfield Mayor James M. Ruberto said the award is a "tremendous recognition" of the efforts made by volunteers, the business community, and the artist community to bring Pittsfield's cultural scene to life. He specifically mentioned the City Council for its support in creating a position of director of cultural development in the city, along with the Statehouse delegation for its support in securing funding and tax credits to help lure businesses downtown.
Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, and Reps. Christopher Speranzo, D-Pittsfield, William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, and Denis Guyer, D-Dalton, were all on hand to help present the award.
"What are the arts? Well, to an old plastics salesman, the arts are energy. Human energy," Ruberto said.
Banks, who attended the ceremony with her husband and her father, praised the continued support in Pittsfield and Massachusetts for arts education, which she said helps foster critical thinking, effective communication and teamwork among children and young adults.
"The innovation our world needs right now requires creative minds," Banks said.
Other award recipients Tuesday included the Worcester Cultural Coalition, the Peabody Essex Museum, Louis Casagrande, of the Boston Children's Museum, and Sen. Edward Kennedy and his sister Jean Kennedy Smith for their support of the arts.
"The work you're doing is wicked awesome," Banks said to close her remarks. "Go Celtics."
"Arts and education"
The Berkshire Eagle, Editorial, Thursday, January 15, 2009
The Berkshires have long been associated with the arts, but specifically that meant towns like Lenox, Stockbridge and Williamstown. Now it also means Pittsfield, which earned a Creative Community Award Tuesday, one of nine Commonwealth Awards presented by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
In an effort to diversity its economy, revive downtown and tie into the cultural tourism going on around it, Pittsfield has in recent years emphasized the arts by renovating the Colonial Theatre, adding the Barrington Stage Company, and participating in the growth of institutions like the Berkshire Museum. As keynote speaker Elizabeth Banks, a Pittsfield native and one of Hollywood's busiest actresses, observed, North Street has been re-energized by the artists' galleries that replaced empty storefronts.
Ralph Hammann, Ms. Banks' drama teacher at Pittsfield High School, noted that all of his students will benefit from arts education, even if they don't move on to movie stardom. Arts programs are too often the first to be cut when economic hard times strike, as they have in recent months, but Ms. Banks rightly said Monday that creative minds are needed to address the problems the world faces, and art education cultivates creativity.
Pittsfield's creative community is a public-private effort built by elected and appointed officials, businesses, artists, educators and volunteers. It is enriched by an emphasis on arts education and its many varied benefits. That community and education go hand in hand, and they must continue to do so in the future as the city strives to overcome current economic troubles and emerge stronger for it.
Names: "She's made Pittsfield proud - and it has returned the favor"
By Mark Shanahan & Paysha Rhone, Boston Globe Staff, January 14, 2009
Hometown hero Elizabeth Banks charmed everyone at the State House yesterday (1/13/2009), delivering the keynote address at the Massachusetts Cultural Council's 2009 Commonwealth Awards. The producer and "W" actress schmoozed with legislators and arts honchos at a VIP lunch, then presented the Creative Community award to her hometown, Pittsfield, represented by Mayor James Ruberto. Her father, Mark Mitchell, husband Max Handelman, and high school drama teacher Ralph Hamman, accompanied her. She had worried her voice might sound a little "manly" - she said before her speech she was catching a cold - but when she stepped up to the mike she sounded mostly just humble. "That was thoroughly embarrassing," Banks said, of Hamman's introduction, in which he called his former student "passionate," forceful, and talented. Banks credited Pittsfield High's drama program for her career and said she's proud of her hometown arts community. "I lived through the downturn, when GE pulled out," she remembered. "We were a factory town and suddenly there was no factory. Now when I go home and walk down that main street . . . instead of looking into empty windows . . . I look into art studios." Banks also thanked lawmakers for the state's recent pro-film industry legislation. "I was thrilled that my first movie as a producer - 'The Surrogates' - was filmed here in Massachusetts. It was either here or Australia, so thank you for the tax break."
"Pittsfield Honored for Cultural Renaissance by State: City of Pittsfield honored with one of nine Massachusetts Commonwealth Awards."
Actress Elizabeth Banks, a Pittsfield native, delivered the keynote address at the ceremony honoring individuals and organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to our communities, our economy, and our quality of life in Massachusetts.
Pittsfield was honored as a Creative Community; a city that has demonstrated the central role of arts and culture in building healthier, more vital, more livable communities.
The Boston Globe reports that Banks credited Pittsfield High’s drama program for her career. According to the Globe, Banks stated: “I lived through the downturn, when GE pulled out….We were a factory town and suddenly there was no factory. Now when I go home and walk down that main street . . . instead of looking into empty windows . . . I look into art studios.” The Globe also quoted Banks as thanking Massachusetts lawmakers for the state’s recent pro-film industry legislation. “I was thrilled that my first movie as a producer - ‘The Surrogates’ - was filmed here in Massachusetts. It was either here or Australia, so thank you for the tax break.”
In addition to Pittsfield Mayor James M. Ruberto, who accepted the award on behalf of the city, several Berkshire County delegates and the Massachusetts Creative Economy Industry Director Jason Shupbach, were on hand to help celebrate. According to Megan Whilden, Pittsfield’s Director of Cultural Development, “It was standing room only, the biggest crowd they have ever had at the award ceremony, which featured a number of key legislators, including Senate President Therese Murray, the Senate House Ways and Means Committee Chair.”
Many members of the Berkshire Creative Economy were also in attendance. Julianne Boyd of Barrington Stage Company,who relocated BSC to Pittsfield from Southern Berkshire County in 2007, Laurie Norton Moffatt of the Norman Rockwell Museum, film and theatre designer Carl Sprague and Massachusetts Cultural Council board member, Ira Lapidus of Williamstown were all present.
Matt Murphy, of the Berkshire Eagle’s Boston Bureau writes; “Pittsfield Mayor James M. Ruberto said the award is a ‘tremendous recognition’ of the efforts made by volunteers, the business community, and the artist community to bring Pittsfield’s cultural scene to life. He specifically mentioned the City Council for its support in creating a position of director of cultural development in the city, along with the Statehouse delegation for its support in securing funding and tax credits to help lure businesses downtown.”
Photo by Matt Stone
"‘Porno’ star Elizabeth Banks praises humble Pittsfield roots"
By Simone Press, Wednesday, January 14, 2009, www.bostonherald.com, The Inside Track
Pittsfield homegal Elizabeth Banks might never have tried to seduce “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” if it weren’t for the drama program at her alma mater.
“I owe my life to arts programming,” said the red-hot actress who has starred in a string of hot flicks including “W,” “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” and “Role Models.” “I would not be here today if it weren’t for the theater program at Pittsfield High School.”
Banks, who was at the State House yesterday to headline the 2009 Commonwealth Awards, was introduced by her high-school drama teacher Ralph Hammond, who heads up the theater program at Pittsfield High.
“Elizabeth is a source of inspiration and pride,” he said. “She’s fiercely passionate, courageous and disciplined in what she does.”
Banks spoke of how her hometown has faced the challenges of the last few years - which included the departure of General Electric, a main source of income for the town’s residents.
“When I go home and walk down Main Street, I don’t see empty shops anymore, I see art studios,” she said. “Pittsfield is no longer just a stop on the way to Tanglewood. It’s a destination for arts, cultural tours and creative business.”
The actress said a few of her favorite places to visit during trips home are the area museums including the Isabella Stewart Gardner, Mass MoCA and the Boston Children’s Museum.
Bank said she believes the local art scene - which was celebrated at yesterday’s awards ceremony - “encourages curiosity,” and works to “create well-rounded citizens.” She also thanked the state’s legislators for passsing tax incentives for the film industry here.
“It’s created thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of spending,” she said.
Banks, a producer on the Bruce Willis futuristic flick “The Surrogates,” said the incentives made filming it here a no-brainer.
“It was either here or Australia. As much as I would like to see Australia, I was happy to spend here and get my aunt’s home cooking to boot.”
She ended the speech by saying the Massachusetts Cultural Council is “wicked awesome” and yelled “Go Celtics [team stats]!”
The actress attended the event with her husband Max Handelman and her father, Mark. Former U.S. Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith also was in attedance and accepted an award.
Article URL: www.bostonherald.com/track/inside_track/view.bg?articleid=1145229
Related Links to "Cultural Pittsfield":
"Mazzeo announces that she has the backing of Nuciforo"
By Dick Lindsay, Berkshire Eagle Staff, Wednesday, January 14, 2009
PITTSFIELD — Melissa Mazzeo is hoping a high-powered endorsement will put her in front early in the special election campaign for Ward 3 city councilor.
Mazzeo got a political boost on Tuesday when former state senator and current Central Berkshire Register of Deeds Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. threw his support behind a candidate he said will serve the city well.
"I've known Melissa for 15 to 20 years and find her very thoughtful and diligent," said Nuciforo. "If voters have a chance to meet her, they'll support her."
Ward 3 voters have until the preliminary election on Feb. 24 to learn about Mazzeo and candidates Paul J. Capitanio and Daniel Zunitch. The three are vying to replace Linda M. Tyer, who resigned from the City Council last month to become the new city clerk.
The top two vote-getters next month will advance to a special election on March 31. The winner will serve the last year of Tyer's term until the city-wide general election in November.
Nuciforo's endorsement of Mazzeo came during a brief noontime rally on Tuesday outside of Berkshire Hills Coins & Estate Jewelry at the corner of Elm Street and Holmes Road.
"I chose this location to show Elm Street is a dynamic area in Ward 3 with a diversity of businesses," said Mazzeo, flanked by Nuciforo, her husband, Anthony, who owns Mazzeo's Ristorante on Winter Street, and a dozen supporters.
Mazzeo and Nuciforo noted how both families have known each other for decades and while the candidate married into the Mazzeo family — she grew up in Dalton as Melissa Mason — Nuciforo said Melissa Mazzeo is part of Pittsfield.
"She has had deep roots for many years and is very active in the community," Nuciforo said.
Mazzeo described Nuciforo as a political role model. "When I listened to Andrea speak for years, he always had a positive energy in his voice," she said. "I want to emulate that."
Mazzeo is a dental hygienist by trade but volunteers regularly in the Pittsfield public schools and is a past president of the political action committee WHEN.
Her brother, Mark Mason, said he isn't surprised that his sister seeking political office. He offered some advice for her opponents.
"She's very caring and passionate about her beliefs," Mason said. "You'd better know what you're talking about when you debate her."
To reach Dick Lindsay: firstname.lastname@example.org, or (413) 496-6233.
Re: Luciforo hypocritically endorses Melissa Mazzeo!
From: "Jonathan A. Melle" email@example.com
Date: Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I believe Melissa Mazzeo should be ashamed of herself for receiving the backing of the most corrupt Pol in the history of Pittsfield: Andrea F. Nuciforo II, aka LUCIFORO! The reasons for my belief focus on the fact that Luciforo strong-armed 2 women candidates out of a 2006 Massachusetts State Government Election for Pittsfield Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds and then anointed himself in his plum sinecure. To read more, please visit my Blog page:
Photo of one of the 2 woman candidates, Sara Hathaway:
-Photos of Luciforo:http://bp1.blogger.com/_mBqgM9-hXBo/R7daHPhAwpI/AAAAAAAAA2E/JB3zOhzXWjk/s1600-h/Luciforo.gif-http://bp1.blogger.com/_mBqgM9-hXBo/SGQxZXZyO7I/AAAAAAAACCQ/yxzJKO1DRlE/s1600-h/luciforo2.jpg
-Photo of Nuciforo swearing in Mayor Ruberto:
Photo of Nuciforo:
-I have many Blog pages against my Enemy #1, Luciforo:
Denis E Guyer is one of Luciforo's henchmen:
So is Carmen C Massimiano II:
This is the perverse social reality beneath the propaganda facade of culture (or lobbyist) that Luciforo dominates over:
www.jonathanmelleonpolitics.blogspot.com/2007/11/pittsfields-revitalization-via-perverse.htmlLuciforo is also a political PERSECUTOR. This first Blog page tells of how he went after the late Peter Arlos:
Luciforo also went after my dad & I:
A photo of John Forbes Kerry with Denis E Guyer:
Mary E Carey's complementary Blog postings:
Mary E Carey posts my belief that Luciforo want to run for US Congress:
Congressman Luciforo will someday represent INSURANCE Companies on Capitol Hill like he did so corruptly on Beacon Hill's State Senate:
www.jonathanmelleonpolitics.blogspot.com/2008/01/nuciforos-corruption.htmlI wonder how Luciforo is doing with PARK SQUARE VENTURES?
I entered his new business, but his web page is gone: www.parksquareventures.com
Mary E Carey may say Luciforo's dismal business venture vindicates me, like when Luciforo was exposed for his political corruption by The Boston Globe nearly 2 years ago.
She may even be not that all surprised to know that Luciforo has a dismal record of economic development for the Berkshires:
Luciforo did not do anything to save the commonwealth from "the Big Dig" bankrupting the state government:
www.jonathanmelleonpolitics.blogspot.com/2007/10/on-bill-weld-big-red-big-dig.htmlMary E Carey posts Nuciforo's devilish nickname:
She also posted my prediction that Luciforo will never be elected to US Congress:
This is my favorite Mary E Carey Blog posting about me:
However, I take back my compliments about Daniel BUREAUCRAT Bosley:
While Mary E Carey calls me incomparable, I see her as my favorite journalist ever!
Photos of Mary Carey:
If I were Superman, Mary would be my Lois Lane!This is Luciforo's worst hour:
The reason why Luciforo voted against the all felon DNA database was to take a phony stand for civil liberties to make himself look good as a candidate for US Congress during the reign of the fascist US Attorney General John Ashcroft, who not only trampled all of people's civil liberties, but also shredded the US Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights, too. Remember, however, Luciforo also tried to falsely jail me.
While Luciforo gets away with all of his political corruption and vindictive persecutions, Pittsfield scapegoats other controversial political activists, such as Rinaldo Del Gallo III.
Photo of Father Rights & Pittsfield Political Activist Rinaldo Del Gallo III.
http://bp3.blogger.com/_mBqgM9-hXBo/Rzsq5sNA5CI/AAAAAAAAAJQ/7FV8wYw_O44/s1600-h/Rinaldo+2.bmpWatch out, US Congress, Luciforo is friends with Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin:
Moreover, Luciforo is the product of Pittsfield's most dominant political families. His father was a Judge, his Aunt a Mayor, and his Uncle a State Representative. He comes from a family of ATTORNEYS who control Pittsfield Politics!
Luciforo is also good friends with Pittsfield's current Mayor, Jimmy Ruberto:
One may also "Google" my writings against Luciforo:
Jonathan A. Melle
~Native of Berkshire County, Massachusetts~
"Mazzeo is right for ward, city"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letters, Thursday, February 05, 2009
I am pleased to endorse Melissa Mazzeo for Pittsfield Ward 3 city councilor. I have known Melissa as a neighbor and also from her service to WHEN for the past seven years. I have admired Melissa's advocacy for residential concerns and her community involvement.
Melissa has proven that she has a passion for enhancing the quality of life for the community. Her success is largely due to her willingness to listen to the concerns of residents, and her ability to collaborate with the necessary parties to achieve resolution. Melissa will be a true representative of the people.
On Feb. 24, I urge you to vote for Melissa Mazzeo, Ward 3, Pittsfield City Council representative.
Pittsfield City Council
"Ward 3 priority: Quality of life"
By Dick Lindsay, Berkshire Eagle Staff, Wednesday, February 04, 2009
PITTSFIELD — Public safety. Snow-free sidewalks. Parking.
Residents in Ward 3 seem most concerned about these quality-of-life issues, according to the three candidates vying to be their next city councilor.
"The last two weeks I've heard more about criminal activity and the fear of budget cuts for the police," said Daniel Zunitch.
"Dunkin' Donuts (on East Street) was happy to clear the sidewalk, once they were made aware it was their responsibility," said Paul J. Capitanio who, along with a police officer, responded to complaints of some property owners not obeying a city ordinance requiring they shovel sidewalks in front their buildings.
Melissa Mazzeo said she's increasingly getting calls about illegal street parking, especially during school hours at the Egremont Elementary School.
"Dealing with these issues is what being a ward councilor is all about," Mazzeo said.
Capitanio, Mazzeo and Zunitch continue to battle for voters as round-one of the special election to replace Linda M. Tyer is less than three weeks away. The top two vote-getters in the Feb. 24 preliminary election will advance to the run-off election on March 31.
The ultimate winner will serve out Tyer's term until the regular city-wide election in November. Tyer vacated the City Council in December to become the new city clerk.
Capitanio said public safety has been a top priority of his, since the Ward 3 campaign got into high gear a month ago.
"Everybody would love to keep the police and fire intact — at least I hope we can," he said.
So far, the City Council and Mayor James M. Ruberto have managed to avoid laying off municipal workers to deal with the city's budget crisis. However, Ruberto has asked city department heads to further cut spending in the wake of Pittsfield losing $1 million in local aid for the rest of the current fiscal year, which ends on June 30, and some city jobs could be lost.
"Losing teachers and losing police officers, people are saying we can't afford," Mazzeo said. "But they don't want their taxes increased, either."
Zunitch said he heard people say their "big concern ... with the budget is waiting for the other shoe to drop."
Capitanio's and Mazzeo's campaign strategies have lately mirrored each other. Both rode around in a police cruiser for a couple of hours to get a police officer's perspective of the community. They visited Providence Court, an elderly housing project on East Street, where residents raised concerns about navigating snow and ice-covered sidewalks.
Zunitch said his campaign plan is simply meeting as many voters as possible, as his name is the least known in Ward 3.
"If one thing is evident, there's a core set of voters actively interested in the election," Zunitch said. "Then there are those who are not, and I need to reach those people."
All three candidates will collectively reach out to voters when they debate on Monday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m. at Egremont Elementary School. It's their only scheduled public appearance together.
To reach Dick Lindsay: firstname.lastname@example.org, or (413) 496-6233.
At a glance ...
What: Special election for Ward 3 city councilor.
When: Preliminary election is Feb. 24; the top two finishers advance to a run-off on March 31.
First debate: Monday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m. at Egremont Elementary School.
Term of office: The March 31 winner serves out the term of Linda M. Tyer until the November election.
"Capitanio would benefit council"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letters, Wednesday, February 04, 2009
While we are not residents of Ward 3, we think Paul Capitanio would make an excellent addition to the Pittsfield City Council. Paul is a true advocate for all the city's residents with special emphasis on our young people.
Following the unfortunate passing of his son, Paul and his wife organized a charity golf tournament. The funds from this tournament provide scholarships to college for needy students and other programs for young people. We, as a family, can attest to the value of his efforts.
Our daughter is a Type A juvenile diabetic. Paul, through his memorial fund, donated $500 to Kalie's juvenile diabetes pasta dinner held at the Masonic Lodge. He helped us organize this event along with Mike Evans as it was our first attempt at this type of function. He also donated food from his restaurant to keep our expenses at a minimum. As a result, we raised nearly $2,000 to benefit JDRF.
We ask that every eligible voter give consideration to the candidacy of Paul Capitanio in both the preliminary and general election.
JOHN and PAMELA GARWOOD
"The wrong Image to project"
The Berkshire Eagle - Letters
Thursday, February 26, 2009
I write this on the eve of the Oscars as benighted dilettanti gather at Images Cinema to celebrate mass marketing, Hollywood's self-congratulatory hucksterism, overpriced evening gowns, and the seeming end of Northern Berkshires' once-renowned alternative movie theater. Images has changed its image.
The now-annual Oscar party being held at Images Cinema is indicative of what the not-for-profit movie theater has become, a clubhouse that chiefly celebrates big-money, studio-driven "independent" movies, which are not truly independent, as well as the sort of mainstream films that one can easily see anywhere else in the area.
Aside from specials that are hosted by third parties like Williams College and The Williamstown Film Festival, Images' programming has become predictable, Hollywood-centered, lacking in controversy or edginess, and a far cry from the sort of alternative fare that once made it indispensable.
In addition, and particularly in 2008, many of the selections were of dismal quality, whether "independent" or mainstream.
Those currently in charge of Images will argue that it is more difficult to get films these days and that they are at the mercy of the film distributors. I grant them that times have changed, but this does not explain the decidedly non-alternative programming they have given us of late.
It seems that Images has become home to filmgoers lacking the passion to drive 20 minutes north or south for a popular film, and perhaps the fault of Images' homogenized, publicity machine/ buzz-driven programming lies in part with an audience whose demands are dictated less by film forums like Sight and Sound, Film Comment and Cineaste than junk like Entertainment Weekly and Premiere magazines — and every idiot who critiques with his thumb as opposed to his mind.
Images replaced all of its perfectly serviceable, if slightly worn, seats with tiny, uncomfortable seating that literally places one shoulder-to-shoulder with anyone seated to one's side. Also, a real disservice has also been done to the handicapped. Before, wheelchairs could roll down the ramp to an aisle in the midsection of the theater. Now they are consigned to a raised platform in the very rear of the house while stairs lead to the main seating.
Images has also needlessly expanded its lobby, which now has an entrance on Spring Street, thus increasing the cubic footage that must be heated, but it still can't seem to afford providing adequate heat in the auditorium.
Instead, we are invited to use communal blankets. The night I attended, the discomfort was extended for nearly a half hour beyond the scheduled start time while we waited for a projectionist to arrive.
With its small screen and budget airline-inspired seats, Images can't compete with either of the aforementioned theaters, especially when it shows films they are screening or have already screened. The only reason I'll return is to see films that I can't see — under better conditions — elsewhere.
That used to be Images' calling card, if not its mission, and it is why I donated funds twice in the past to save it when the cinema's existence was threatened. I did not help save Images to support screenings of mass-marketed Academy Award-nominated films or to throw parties to celebrate inane meat parades.
The author is a drama teacher at Pittsfield High School.
Posted by: "BeeZee", 2/26/2009 -
Interesting Hamman seems to endlessly trash Hollywood in this letter but then is always in the media exhaulting love and admiration for his favorite former drama student Elizabeth Banks for going "Hollywood" and making it in mainstream films. I wonder if he considers "Entertainment Weekly" or "Premier" magazines "junk" when she's featured in them.
I'm not saying one can't prefer edgier, independent films. I actually do myself. But the way he, of all people, describes the Hollywood industry and those who support it in this letter sounds downright bitter and less than a month ago he was reading Elizabeth Banks' praises for succeeding in mainstream Hollywood.
I wouldn't even be commenting if it wasn't for WHO wrote this letter. Makes you wonder what his opinion REALLY is on either matter.
Sweet win: Joann Chilton made this Capitanio campaign cake
"Capitanio wins ward three primary"
The Pittsfield Gazette, Jonathan Levine, 24 FEBRUARY, 2009
Paul Capitanio scored a commanding victory in Tuesday's ward three special election primary.
Capitanio captured 51 percent of votes in the three way race for the ward's vacant city council seat.
He'll face Melissa Mazzeo — who tallied nearly 30 percent of Tuesday's votes — in a March 31 special election.
"What a relief it is, believe me," Capitanio declared to supporters at his victory party, held at the Italian-American Club.
Though he captured more votes than Mazzeo and third-place finisher Dan Zunitch combined, Capitanio vowed to campaign just as hard for the next month.
"We have a lot of work to do in the next five weeks and we're going to do it," he said. "We're going to work twice as hard."
Just over 26 percent of the ward's 4,418 registered voters turned out for the election.
The winner of the March 31 (2009) final election will fill the remainder of the two-year term of Linda Tyer, who stepped down from the council. The victor could face a reelection challenge this autumn.
Capitanio recorded 601 votes. Mazzeo had 350, while Zunitch finished with 219 tallies.
Mazzeo said that after one day off, she'll be back trying to close the gap.
"I'll work twice as hard and I have twice as many votes to make up," she said.
Mazzeo vowed to push the campaign beyond the realm of "popularity contests and family & friends" into one focused on leadership.
"Now I want to talk about issues," she said.
Both candidates pledged to eschew negative campaign.
"It's going to stay a great campaign and remain positive," said Mazzeo.
The candidates are scheduled to meet for a television debate on March 23 at 8 p.m.
The ward three special election has already emerged as the most expensive ward race in city history. Through February 6, the candidates had spent more than $18,000.
State Rep. Brian Ashe, D-Longmeadow, right, talks with his father, Hampden County Register of Deeds Donald E. Ashe, Wednesday at the annual St. Patrick's Party held by Donald Ashe's re-election committee at the John Boyle O'Reilly Club in Springfield. (Photo by David Molnar/The Republican)
"Register's party preps Western Mass. politicians for week of corned beef dinners"
By The Springfield Republican Newsroom, By MICHAEL McAULIFFE, email@example.com, Wednesday March 11, 2009
SPRINGFIELD - Winter ending. Weather (seemingly) getting warmer. Days getting longer.
Time for the annual St. Patrick's party hosted by Hampden County Register of Deeds Donald E. Ashe.
Ashe was shaking hands and smiling at the John Boyle O'Reilly Club Wednesday, site of the 26th annual bash put on by his campaign committee. The event is considered the kickoff of the region's political season, but Springfield City Councilor Bud L. Williams said the party is really the kickoff of festivities in the region connected to St. Patrick's Day.
"This is really so festive. It's so enjoyable," said Williams, who described himself as "a regular."
The party included the usual offerings of beer, corned beef sandwiches, and Irish soda bread. For state Rep. Angelo J. Puppolo Jr., D-Springfield, corned beef will be a staple for the next several days.
"This is my week," he said, adding he would probably have corned beef 15 times during the week.
William E. Buzzee, a case specialist at the Hampden County Probate Court, cooked about 150 pounds of corned beef for the party.
"It's a hobby during March," Buzzee said.
Ashe said between 300 and 500 people would attend the party, which is a draw for politicians. However, with no statewide races this year Ashe said local politicians would be populating the party.
"This year nobody's running for a state office, so they won't be here," he said.
One of those local pols was state Rep. Brian Ashe, D-Longmeadow, who is the register's son. Brian Ashe was elected to the Legislature in November, and the former member of the Longmeadow Select Board certainly preferred attending the party as a representative.
"It's a lot better than campaigning and coming here," he said.
One thing missing this year was an O'Bama sign, which would have seemed appropriate given President Obama was just recently inaugurated and the party had more than a couple of fellow Democrats in attendance.
"(If) he sent me a sign, I'd hang it up," said Donald E. Ashe.
"Candidates aim to reach voters"
By Dick Lindsay, Berkshire Eagle Staff, Thursday, March 12, 2009
PITTSFIELD — The two candidates who emerged from last month's primary in the special election for Ward 3 city councilor expect a better voter turnout for the final run-off on March 31 — if they can convince more people to cast ballots.
With only 26 percent of the nearly 4,400 registered voters in Ward 3 going to the polls on Feb. 24, both Paul J. Capitanio and Melissa Mazzeo are reaching out to voters who — for a variety of reasons — didn't cast ballots that day.
The two first-time political office-seekers are vying to replace Linda M. Tyer, who resigned from the council in December to become the new City Clerk. The winner on March 31 will serve out the rest of Tyer's term until the citywide general election in November. Capitanio and Mazzeo advanced in the campaign last month by being the top two finishers as they defeated Daniel Zunitch in the three-way preliminary election.
"I'm making phone calls and getting into voters' heads that their vote counts," said Capitanio, who also continues to campaign door-to-door and hold fundraisers.
Mazzeo is doing the same and handing out new campaign literature to increase her voter support.
"I have six quotes from people in Ward 3 on why they support me," she said.
Mazzeo and Capitanio have found the weather, winter vacations and simple forgetfulness as reasons why voter turnout wasn't higher for the primary.
"I had a couple who couldn't wait to put a sign on their lawn and support me," said Capitanio. "I later found out they failed to vote."
While Capitanio and Mazzeo anticipate certain voting blocs, such as senior citizens, will vote again on March 31, they are courting the younger voters who were energized by last November's national campaign.
"There are a lot of 20-year-olds who voted in the presidential election," noted Mazzeo, "and we want to keep their interest in local politics."
Mazzeo admits she needs to get more voters since she finished a distant second to Capitanio in the preliminary election, 601 to 350. Focusing more on the issues, she said, should help her close that gap.
"I'm polishing up more on the new health insurance for city employees," Mazzeo said, referring to Pittsfield joining the state-sponsored Group Insurance Commission.
On Wednesday, Mazzeo also announced her support for state legislation that would provide economic assistance to Pittsfield and other communities deemed gateway cities in Massachusetts.
Capitanio also called for more progress in bringing new businesses to the city, by doing a better job of promoting the William Stanley Business Park, which located is in Ward 3.
"Now is the time to hire professional marketing people and get companies to move into that area," he said.
When to vote....
What: Special election for Ward 3 city councilor between Paul J. Capitanio and Melissa Mazzeo.
When: Tuesday, March 31 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Precinct A — Providence Court, East Street, Precinct B — Egremont Elementary School, Egremont Avenue.
Term of office: The winner serves out the term of Linda M. Tyer until the November election.
John R. Buckley Jr., the Plymouth County register of deeds, said the idea behind displaying the collection ''was to show off records that we have in this building that have been hidden away for so long.'' (Jonathan Wiggs/Boston Globe Staff)
"From deeds of yore, a window to history"
By David Filipov, Boston Globe Staff, March 16, 2009
PLYMOUTH - New York has the whole Manhattan-went-for-$24-in-trinkets thing. And Massachusetts has this: A tract that includes Bridgewater and parts of Abington, East Bridgewater, Rockland, West Bridgewater, Whitman, and Brockton sold for seven coats, nine hatchets, eight hoes, 20 knives, four moose skins, and 10 1/2 yards of cotton.
And that was 350 years before the housing bubble burst.
The deed for that 1649 deal was signed by Myles Standish, captain of the Mayflower, and Ousamequin, the storied Wampanoag sachem commonly known as Massasoit. It is part of a collection of records, now on display in Plymouth at the nation's oldest registry of deeds, that document land transactions dating back to the first settlers. The exhibition proves, among other things, that even the driest of old documents can tell an interesting tale.
From agreements between the settlers and the native peoples scrawled on yellowed parchment, to neatly penned deeds of the deals that shaped 19th-century Massachusetts, the documents offer a unique window on history, a rediscovery of sorts through the unembellished medium of real estate.
These historical nuggets come unearthed all the time by title examiners as they pore through ledgers of plots of land in Plymouth County for real estate closings and discover deeds - and the ancient lore attached to them - dating back to the Pilgrims.
"The idea was to show off records that we have in this building that have been hidden away for so long," said John R. Buckley Jr., register of deeds, explaining how these hidden gems were pulled from the deep catacombs of history and displayed in the brightly lit entryway of the registry's modern glass-and-red-brick building.
"These are the documents that tell a story," Buckley said.
Often, the story can be momentous, like the description of the first seven homes on Plymouth's first street, scribbled by Governor William Bradford in 1621, the earliest document in the registry's possession. The transaction can be historically significant, like the 1636 document ordering the construction of the Cut River Canal, one of the country's first public works projects. (Talk about harsh economic times: To dig the canal, the county not only raised taxes, it enlisted all the men to work on the waterway, which runs through what is now Duxbury.)
Sometimes, the search for a title uncovers a long-forgotten pearl. Buckley produced a copy of an 1878 record of a sale of land not far from the registry's current location that refers to "Shalligonaked" pasture. The area, according to lore, was named for a woman who would beg passersby for handouts. Whenever she was rebuffed in her request for alms, she would say, "Shall I go naked?"
The description of territories in the earliest deeds is touchingly quaint. The record of a property owned by John Alden - the Mayflower's cooper, credited with taking the first step onto Plymouth Rock - is loaded with references that highlight the earthy simplicity of the Pilgrims' existence. "From an old pine tree by the meadow, ranging along the said Blue Fish River to a burnt walnut stump," is how the deed designates the borders of Alden's land. "And thence to . . . a walnut tree, ranging from the above stump west northwest . . . unto a white oak."
If landmarks in the 17th century were not what they are today, neither were conceptions of wealth. Today, the coats, hatchets, hoes, knives, moose skins, and cotton that the settlers used in 1649 to purchase the swath of land surrounding Bridgewater might seem like a bargain, especially given what a three-bedroom cape in Abington costs, even in this deflated market.
Linda Coombs, a Wampanoag historian at Plimoth Plantation, cautioned against judging the deal by today's measures.
"Those things could have had a greater value than they had now," Coombs said.
At least initially, native people probably thought they were selling the use of the land, Coombs said, and "didn't realize that it was sort of a permanent thing."
"The English were thinking of getting the land, period," she said.
By 1649, Ousamequin likely had no such illusions, Coombs said. The territory he sold was the home to Wampanoag villages that had been decimated by epidemics, presumably brought from Europe. Perhaps, she said, the sachem was pressured into the sale by the settlers, who needed more land to accommodate their growing ranks.
The deterioration of the colonists' relationship with the Wampanoag is reflected in another document, which includes the signatures of English "overseers," reflecting laws passed in the late 17th century that allowed native people to buy and sell land only with the approval of the white colonists. Such transactions often ended in the land being appropriated by the overseers, Coombs said.
This sobering exhibit is juxtaposed with sunnier entries, including copies of deeds from the purchase in Plymouth of what would for a time be the world's largest rope factory, and the Brockton home of boxing legend Rocky Marciano.
"We try to have new ones all the time," said Anthony M. Markella, a title examiner for 25 years who heads the committee that organizes the display.
Buckley is especially proud of an exhibit that shows pictures of all 22 registers of Plymouth County, each with a sample of a document they signed, dating back to Governor Bradford. Buckley pointed out his own name. Then he indicated the Cotton family, which produced registers who served for 134 of the county's 389 years. Does Buckley hope his family will someday match this dynasty? Does he ever think about handing off his duties to his children someday?
"Right now," he replied, "I'm just trying to get them through high school."
David Filipov can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Mazzeo wants to create diverse business district"
By Dick Lindsay, Berkshire Eagle Staff, Sunday, March 29, 2009
PITTSFIELD — When Melissa Mazzeo was a young girl growing up in Dalton, she would occasionally ride into Pittsfield with her grandmother as the day shift was ending at General Electric.
"My grandfather worked at GE, and we would watch the line of men just stream out through the gate," said Mazzeo, 43, now a Pittsfield resident of Ward 3 the past 16 years.
With the glory days of GE and its thousands of employees dominating the local work force long gone, Mazzeo said she now wants to "help Pittsfield move beyond the thought we need a single employer."
Creating a more diverse business climate is just of one several issues Mazzeo has tackled in the special election for Ward 3 city councilor. Mazzeo and her opponent, Paul J. Capitanio, are battling to replace Linda M. Tyer, who resigned her council seat in December to become city clerk. The winner of Tuesday's run-off will serve out the rest of Tyer's term and face re-election in November.
Mazzeo moved to Pittsfield in 1993 — then known as Melissa Mason — where she met and married life-long Ward 3 resident Anthony Mazzeo, owner of Mazzeo's Ristorante.
Although Mazzeo is not a city native, she has felt right at home at 57 Winesap Road with her husband and two young daughters. The part-time dental hygienist has been a full-time mother and wife who often volunteers in the public schools and has been politically active since joining the group WHEN in 2003.
Mazzeo said she wants the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority to be more accountable on the progress of the still-vacant William Stanley Business Park in Ward 3. PEDA, which is currently seeking a new director, is overseeing the development of 54 acres of the former GE factory site.
While Capitanio has requested that, if elected, he be appointed to the PEDA board of directors to improve the accountability, Mazzeo approaches the idea with caution.
"We should keep politics out of PEDA," Mazzeo said, "but still have a liaison as eyes and ears to the City Council."
She added, "Who better than the Ward 3 city councilor?"
Mazzeo, like Capitanio, also wants the former Grossman Lumber building on East Street — which remains privately owned — torn down and the site redeveloped.
The eyesore has plagued the neighborhood long enough, she said.
"Why do we keep putting up with it?" she asked. "Our patience has run out."
Mazzeo also wants to help existing businesses thrive and pointed to how the Elm Street district practically makes Ward 3 self-sufficient.
"You can stop at one end at Harry's Supermarket, then go to a doctor's office, hardware store, gas station, have a pizza," she said. "It just doesn't end."
As for Pittsfield's budget crisis, Mazzeo doesn't want to see city workers lose their jobs, especially teachers who she said deserve a "special place in heaven" for often buying their own supplies for school.
However, a wage freeze may be necessary to prevent layoffs, she said.
"I don't think this is a forever thing," Mazzeo contended, "and a freeze is just to get through this (budget crisis)."
To reach Dick Lindsay: email@example.com, or (413) 496-6233.
"Capitanio says devotion to public service is why he seeks seat"
By Dick Lindsay, Berkshire Eagle Staff, Sunday, March 29, 2009
PITTSFIELD — Paul J. Capitanio has lived and worked in Ward 3 all his life. The owner of the East Side Cafe in Precinct B was born at the former St. Luke's Hospital — now the Providence Court elderly housing project and the polling place for voters in Precinct A.
Capitanio has spent most of his free time helping neighbors and other city residents through the numerous civic and youth organizations that he has volunteered for over the past 30 years.
"I love working with people," said the born and bred Pittsfield resident of 52 years.
"I go day and night," he added, "and I enjoy it."
Capitanio said his devotion to community service is why he wants to become the next Ward 3 city councilor. Capitanio is squaring off against Melissa Mazzeo in the March 31 special election, seeking to replace Linda M. Tyer who resigned her council seat in December to become the new city clerk. The winner will serve the remainder of Tyer's term and face re-election in November.
During an interview with The Eagle, Capitanio cited the re-use of the former Grossman's Lumber building on East Street, moving forward on attracting businesses to the William Stanley Business Park — most of which sits in Ward 3 — and improving public safety.
Capitanio said the former Grossman's warehouse and retail store — currently privately owned — has become an eyesore to the community.
"If I can convince the government the property is blighted and seek a federal grant through (U.S. Rep. John W.) Olver," Capitanio said, " then we can tear it down if the city takes it by eminent domain."
The owner — Kevin Pennell — avoided the city seizing his property, when he paid the nearly $55,000 in taxes and fees owed to Pittsfield.
If the parcel is cleaned up, Capitanio said it can be "marketed as being next to the railroad tracks and right near the PEDA site," referring to the William Stanley business park overseen by the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority.
PEDA itself is on the political hot seat with Capitanio, who said its board of directors has poorly marketed the park and needs to be held more accountable to the public. This is why he's asked Mayor James M. Ruberto to appoint him to the board if he's elected.
Despite the recession, Capitanio said now is the time to begin talks with prospective business park tenants.
"I feel the economy is going to turn around next year," he said.
As for public safety, Capitanio thinks the ranks are "really thin within the Police Department," which has lost several positions in the current fiscal year through attrition.
"It's time consuming," Capitanio said about fighting and preventing crime in Pittsfield, "and the police need the manpower."
But he added that the community has to do its part to keep the city safe, such as forming neighborhood watch programs.
"If you see someone in the area you don't recognize, call the police," Capitanio said. "They will respond."
Meanwhile, Capitanio said he supports events like Third Thursday — which encourage people to shop, eat and be entertained in the downtown — that he said are helping to reunite the city.
"I go up there and see people I haven't seen in years," he said.
Paul J. Capitanio gets a hug from his sister Ann Capitanio Tuesday night at the Italian-American Club after learning that he won the Ward 3 City Council race. (Darren Vanden Berge / Berkshire Eagle Staff)
"Capitanio wins race for Pittsfield City Council"
By Dick Lindsay, Berkshire Eagle Staff, Wednesday, April 1, 2009
PITTSFIELD — Paul J. Capitanio is Pittsfield's new Ward 3 city councilor — a job his mother said will suit him well.
Capitanio defeated Melissa Mazzeo in Tuesday's special election, 767 to 686, and will replace Linda M. Tyer, who resigned from the City Council three months ago to become the new city clerk. He will serve out Tyer's term until the November election.
Tyer reported 1,456 out of 4,422 registered voters in Ward 3 cast ballots — a 33 percent turnout.
"I will hit the ground running," Capitanio said at his post-election party held at the Italian-American Club on Newell Street. "I still want to reach every single person in the ward."
Capitanio's mother, Dolores Capitanio, isn't surprised her son can't wait to officially act as Ward 3 city councilor.
"He's been doing work as a councilor all his life," she said, referring to her son's 30 years of extensive community service throughout Pittsfield.
"Look, his (cell) phone is already ringing," she added. "He wants to go to work."
Capitanio said running for office was "the hardest thing I've done in my life," made more difficult by several family situations in the final two weeks of the campaign.
"My father was ill, my mother had emergency surgery, my wife was in Europe and I had to run a business," said Capitanio, owner of the East Side Cafe, who noted his wife's trip was planned last year.
Mazzeo, a mother of two daughters and part-time hygienist, had her own personal crisis to overcome during the intense, three-month campaign.
"Two days before I began campaigning (in January), my doctor told me I had a ruptured disc in my back," said Mazzeo, who will soon have surgery and recover in time to campaign again.
"I will be back in November," she added. "I got a lot to offer the city."
While Mazzeo would not say if that meant a rematch with Capitanio, she indicated the Ward 3 seat was within her grasp.
"If we had two more weeks of campaigning, we would have closed that 81 vote gap," predicted Mazzeo.
Capitanio expected a closer race than during the February primary when his 600 votes combined beat both Mazzeo and Daniel Zunitch, who finished third and failed to advance to Tuesday's run-off.
"It's been a very tough race," Capitanio told his supporters during his victory speech.
"I commend my opponent," he added. "I wish Melissa well."
Capitanio said one of his first priorities is addressing the rise in violent crime in Pittsfield the last two months.
"I want to work to keep neighborhoods safe." he added.
To reach Dick Lindsay: firstname.lastname@example.org, or (413) 496-6233.
Here's the breakdown of Tuesday's special election for Ward 3 city councilor in Pittsfield:
Precinct A Precinct B Total
Paul J. Capitanio 272 495 767
Melissa Mazzeo 281 405 686
Capitanio will now serve out Linda M. Tyer's term until the November election.
"Foreclosures rising in Berkshire County"
Updated: 3/20/2009, By: Ryan Burgess, Capital News 9 (out of Albany, NY)
PITTSFIELD, Massachusetts - "We see an uptake in foreclosure activity. I think what's happening here in Berkshire County is a reflection of what's happening in America," said Middle Berkshire Register of Deeds Andrea Nuciforo, Jr.
It's a national crisis that's now hitting Berkshire County hard. Foreclosure deeds are being filed fast. That's according to the Middle Berkshire Register of Deeds, whose office handles foreclosures in the area.
"What you see happening in Berkshire County is a lot like what's happening across the state. In 2005, for example, there were about 1,200 foreclosure deeds statewide. In 2008, there were more than 12,000 foreclosure deeds statewide," said Nuciforo.
Locally, it's happening mostly in Pittsfield. Nuciforo says if you can't pay your mortgage, act fast. Banks don't want to own your home and many are willing to help.
"There aren't any secrets here. Certainly go and talk to your bank. Talk to your lender," said Nuciforo.
One realtor says responsible lending by local banks has helped keep foreclosure numbers below national averages.
"We've had a very strong, stable banking community that's been very good about their conservative nature of lending, yet they do lend freely if you meet certain guidelines," said Barbara Davis-Hassan, the owner of Barb Hassan Realty.
They're guidelines she says can help turn a down market into a first time home buyers dream.
"The first time home buyer opportunity, coupled with the lowest interest rates I have ever seen, is amazing," said Hassan.
It's a market that can be a new homeowner's dream, but recently, has been more of a foreclosure nightmare.
Foreclosures rising in Berkshire County
For a while the Berkshires were bucking the trend. But now, the county is seeing a rise in the number of foreclosure deeds filed. Our Ryan Burgess has the story.
April 25, 2009
The Berkshire Brigades is ran by one person and one person only: Mary O'Brien of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, who has seats on both the city and state Democratic Party Boards and is the retired Middle Berkshire Registrar of Deeds. She also runs the sexist Pittsfield's women political group WHEN. The financiers of Pittsfield's machine politics are Williamstown's Sherwood Guernsey II and the author of this hack column Lee Harrison. Sherwood Guernsey is a former Massachusetts State Representative who practices law in downtown Pittsfield. He also inherited and runs multi-million dollar properties -- hotels, I believe -- on the Pacific Ocean near Los Angeles, California. Sherwood Guernsey ran and lost for Berkshire State Senator and U.S. Congress, respectively. The Berkshire Brigades is a very insider outfit ran by political hacks who want a one party -- like China, totalitarian -- political system to run the lives of the people of Pittsfield and Berkshire County. To illustrate, in 2006, there were two women candidates running for Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds until then Berkshire State Senator (and Mary O'Brien minion) Andrea F. Nuciforo II (aka Luciforo) entered the race. Luciforo then strong-armed these two women candidates -- one of whom was a former Pittsfield Mayor -- out of the "election" and anointed himself to the $85k per year sinecure. Weeks after taking that office that Mary O'Brien just retired from, Luciforo was lobbying his Democratic Party insiders to have newly sworn in Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick appoint him to the Commissioner of Insurance post. Due to Luciforo's conflict of interests in regards to Boston area wealthy financial institutions, as he was also representing them as a corporate Attorney for a private Boston law firm, he was passed over. To recap, Luciforo had to step down as State Senator because he was corrupt, anointed himself to a sinecure held by Mary O'Brien, and then weeks later wanted to leave his position to become Commissioner of Insurance but was passed over due to his conflict of interests with the commonwealth's insurance companies. What if Luciforo were a Republican instead of a "Good Old BOY" Democrat? Would Luciforo be able to have gotten away with all of his dirty politics in silence? The answer is "No!" The reason why Berkshire Brigades exist is to promote insider, corrupt Pols like their poster-child: Andrea Nuciforo, while bashing anyone who believes differently or for democracy, fairness, justice, freedom, and bottom up voices of, for and by the people!
- Jonathan Melle
"Memo to teabaggers"
By Lee Harrison, The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, Saturday, April 25, 2009
Until now, Berkshire Brigades has preferred to do its work at the grassroots, organizing voters in the county to vote Democratic in state and national elections. But the prominence given "teabaggers" in local, state, and national news has prompted us to speak out in an effort to bring some balance — and a measure of common sense — to the discussion.
First, let's call "teabagging" what it is: A desperate publicity stunt by people who think George W. Bush was a good President and their cheerleader, Fox News, to give their rapidly decreasing base something to rally around. (To be fair, with Obama's approval ratings hovering between 60 and 70 percent this not an easy task.)
Their argument that Obama is spending the nation into the poor house is not only desperate but also, given the eight profligate years of the Bush administration, patently absurd. It was "W" who took the Clinton budget surplus and turned it into the most monstrous deficit in the nation's history with virtually no lasting investments in the nation's crumbling infrastructure. And it was "W" who chose to wage two wars without raising the taxes necessary to pay for them. (He did, however, employ "off-the-books" accounting shenanigans while also reducing taxes for the wealthy.) With this background, the teabaggers' shouts for a return to fiscal responsibility ring especially hollow.
Of course, claims by Fox News that President Obama's $3.6 trillion fiscal year 2010 budget is "four times bigger than Bush's costliest plan," helped to stir the pot. The fact that President Bush submitted $3.1 and $2.9 trillion budgets for fiscal years 2009 and 2008, respectively, apparently is just an inconvenient truth for Fox — so they simply make stuff up.
Thankfully, most Americans see through this charade and are willing to give President Obama time to remake the economy. But as the president said in a recent speech, "We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand," and Berkshire Brigades agrees. To keep the economy from going into free fall — and to lay a foundation for a sustainable 21st century economy — President Obama chose to stimulate the economy with middle-class tax cuts and a spending program that will, in the short term, increase the federal budget deficit.
In ordinary times the burden that large budget deficits place on future generations would be a concern. But these are not ordinary times and, "the deficit worriers have it all wrong," says Nobel Laureate economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. "Under current conditions, there's no trade-off between what's good in the short run and what's good for the long run; strong fiscal expansion would actually enhance the economy's long-run prospects."
Indeed, Berkshire Brigades, like Krugman, wishes President Obama would go even further in the short run to restructure the economy so the U.S. — and Berkshire County — can be competitive in the long run. On top of the list: increasing education funding, creating universal healthcare, rebuilding our transportation and communications infrastructure, and developing renewable energy.
As White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is famous for saying: "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste." And unless the nation invests in itself during this crisis, the American Dream will be unattainable for today's young people.
Naturally, the Republican Party sees it differently, but instead of offering new ideas, they "Just Say No" and attempt to obstruct every White House initiative, all while teabagging and calling the president names like "socialist" and even "fascist." And then there is Texas Governor Perry, who actually suggested that his state secede from the union.
"You have to come (to this debate) constructive," Emanuel, said recently, "and when you're the party of 'No,' when you're the party of 'Never,' when you're the party of no new ideas, that's not constructive." Or as patriot Tom Paine said: "Lead, follow, or get out of the way."
Our parents and grandparents, who lived through The Great Depression and World War II, would undoubtedly agree.
When the soldiers came home from Europe and the Pacific, they didn't teabag. They got to work. They took advantage of the GI Bill to get a college education, then they invested in roads, bridges, schools, generally set the stage for the great economic expansion of the 1950s and 60s from which we all still benefit. They were indeed The Greatest Generation.
Now, it's our turn, and in President Obama we have the leadership we need to restore America economically and morally to lead the world in the 21st century.
Lee Harrison is chairman of the Berkshire Brigades.
"Howie Carr’s field guide to the Mass. hackerama"
By Howie Carr, Sunday, June 7, 2009, www.bostonherald.com - Columnists
Photo by Jeff Walsh/illustration
Tracking the not-so-elusive hackasaurus greedicus of Massachusetts is a lot like exploring the vast Amazon rain forests or the Marianas Trench - new species are constantly being discovered. The difference is that in the Massachusetts hackerama, no species of hack ever goes extinct.
Evolved mostly from the Group 4 public-safety subspecies. Despite early career-ending disabilities, can often be observed splitting wood, winning body-building contests and driving commercial vans with 28-foot ladders on the roof. Multiplied rapidly in recent years, but suffered a brief die-off in 2008 when the feds impaneled a grand jury and confiscated all retirement records of the Boston Fire Department.
State House hacks
Utterly clueless, lumbering class, identified by such inane calls as “Top o’ the mornin’ Mistah Speakah!” and “How da family?” Like Australian marsupials, have evolved in near-total isolation from outside world, as demonstrated by sighting of indicted ex-House Speaker Sal DiMasi last week. He sniffed to a reporter, “I won’t be shying away from any of my planned events.” Really, Mistah Speakah? You mean like your arraignment in federal court tomorrow at 4:15? You better make that one, or they’ll be issuing a warrant.
Parasites, using State House hacks as their hosts, in return offering the elected pols free booze and golf, as well as the occasional “DiMasi” - or payoff. Despite their leeching nature, most lobbyists have grown far richer than their legislative sponsors. Known by the call, “When’s yer next ‘time,’ Mistah Chairman.” Currently embroiled in a species-wide crisis: Some big-game hunters known as “reformers” want to strip them of the right to collect bonuses for getting bills passed, or not.
Natural habitat: Panels appointed by the governor that recommend tax increases and outrageous pay raises for public “servants.” Can change coloration at will, and often do, going from Democrat to Republican to Democrat, depending on the administration.
This hardy, ancient species has largely vanished from eastern Massachusetts, due to the disappearance of its habitats via state takeover. But in the forests, the county hacks live on as in days of yore. A few weeks ago, several 300-pound-plus leaders of the pack - known as sheriffs - were spotted foraging at the State House for more money. They appeared together in a hearing room, like a herd of grazing mastodons, and several reps mistakenly surmised they had stumbled into a look-alike contest for the Globe’s Dan Totten or state Rep. Brian Wallace.
A recent species, thought to be descended from the legendary moonbat. Have established a large colony in a new agency - the Green Communities Division of the Department of Energy Resources. Infestations reported across the hackerama. Enjoy supervising installation of light bulbs that provide next to no light and toilets that barely flush, as well as issuing RFPs for the purchase of Priuses that no self-respecting hack would be caught dead in driving to a golf course or the Pheasant Lane Mall during business hours. Without careful harvesting - preferably in the 2010 elections - this bold species could easily overrun vast swaths of the bureaucracy.
Two kinds of lawyers become judges in Massachusetts - those who failed miserably in private practice, and those who never even tried.
A colorful subspecies is the “clerk/magistrate,” which may be an even better job than judge. A clerk cannot hire a close relative, so here’s how that works: The clerk hires the dim-bulb offspring of the clerk in the next town over, and then that clerk hires your - well, you get the picture.
Breathtakingly brazen, will endlessly feed at the public trough - in daylight. A genus that includes some of the most shameless hacks in Massachusetts, among them Reps. Bill Delahunt and John Olver, state Sen. Ken “Double Dip” Donnelly of Arlington and MCCA boss Jim Rooney.
Statewide, the unemployment rate may be up around 9 percent, but in the governor’s hometown, it seems to be around zero. The Parole Board, the Division of Capital Asset Management - who knew the 02186 zip code would one day replace 02127 as the gold standard of the hackerama?
A stealthy creature, seldom if ever seen in the wild, because most of them long since completed their 23 years for a full pension and vanished to Florida, leaving behind only a few fossilized footprints, in the form of billion-dollar deficits.
Known by their plaintive wail, “I am not a hack.” Oh yes you are. Talk about feeding frenzies - all those diminutives in the job titles equal big money for the hackademic. Billy Bulger at $359,000 was the tip of the hack fossil record. Look at the career coatholder Albie Sherman, “vice chancellor, university relations,” making $170,000 - for what exactly? Now comes Jim Leary, former state rep. from Worcester, “associate vice chancellor” - today $104,000, next year at least 150 large. Bet on it.
Not everyone can go to college or graduate school, you know. Street guys need no-show jobs, too! Where else will the drivers and bagmen of tomorrow come from? So your average urban hustler becomes an “outreach coordinator” or a “youth advocate” or a “liaison to the community.” Feel free to mix ’n’ match job titles - advocate to the outreach community. Youth liaison to the coordinator of outreach. An infinitely adaptable genus.
Evolving species, about to proliferate very rapidly as Morrissey Boulevard layoffs begin in earnest. Beginning migration to the Public Sector, likely to supplant earlier Herald and Telegram breeds who will be unable to compete for foods against the newcomers’ trust funds and Park Avenue pedigrees. Expect to begin hearing a lot of these voice mails among state flacks: “Hi loveys, I’m Muffy Buffington and I won’t be back in the office until after my squash match. Cheers! If you need me after hours, try the Wauwinet on Nantucket. Right-o!”
A BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL
"Poster child for reforms"
August 3, 2009
RARELY DOES one public official embody so many of the complex problems that undermine confidence in government in Massachusetts. But former legislator Timothy Bassett hasn’t just used his political connections to keep collecting his $41,000 pension even after taking a lucrative public job as the head of the Essex Regional Retirement Board. As the Globe reported last week, Bassett - whose day job pays $137,000 a year - has also been moonlighting as a lobbyist.
This raises two obvious questions: First, did Bassett break the law? The State Ethics Commission and Attorney General Martha Coakley should both investigate. Second, why does the Essex Retirement Board still exist as an independent agency?
State ethics laws prohibit public officials from using their positions to obtain “unwarranted privileges’’ and from doing private business on public time. As the Globe’s Sean P. Murphy detailed Tuesday, Bassett and his lobbying partners have worked on behalf of unions and even another retirement board. Inexplicably, the Salem Retirement Board paid his firm $18,000 for help in getting legislative authorization to buy office space - even though other local boards routinely get such measures passed without outside help. In a different matter, he used an Essex Retirement Board fax machine to lobby on behalf of a police union.
Sadly, few lawmakers seem to have objected to seeing a full-time public employee working as a lobbyist.
But then, Beacon Hill’s cozy culture explains why sinecures such as the Essex Retirement Board have yet to be folded into larger agencies that might do the same job more efficiently. The Essex retirement system’s returns significantly lagged those of the state’s main retirement system last year, over the last five years, and over the last 10 years, according to the most recent report by the Massachusetts Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission.
Under a 2007 state law, underperforming retirement systems can be forced to transfer their assets to the main state retirement plan. The Essex board’s disappointing returns meet one trigger in the law, but it just squeaks past the other. To avoid a takeover, systems must have sufficient funding to pay 65 percent of their obligations; at last count, Essex had 68 percent.
Massachusetts has more than 100 retirement systems, and backers of this approach argue that the plethora of local systems keeps pensioners’ money from being swallowed up by a distant, unaccountable state agency. Then again, this Byzantine system also opens up opportunities for those who know how to work it - and are willing to test the limits of the law.
Polenta for Mazzeo
"Mazzeo sets polenta fundraiser"
The Pittsfield Gazette (Online), Jonathan Levine, Publisher & Editor, 11.SEPTEMBER.2009
At-large council candidate Melissa Mazzeo has scheduled a polenta fundraiser for Monday, September 14.
Chef for the event is Tom Angelini. The menu also includes salad with family-style chicken and sausage.
The benefit takes place at 5:30 p.m. at Mazzeo's Ristorante, 7 Winter Street. Tickets are $25. For information call 413-443-4079.
"Deed offer a bargain -- not: A Berkshire official seeks an investigation into a mail order deal promising $69 copies."
By Scott Stafford, The Berkshire Eagle, February 17, 2010
A copy of your deed for $69.50? Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. says it costs $5.
The Middle Berkshire District register of deeds is asking Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley's office to investigate a mailing by National Record Service Inc. of Northbrook, Ill. The mailings landed in local mailboxes recently.
National Record Service Inc.'s mailing says that for $69.50, it will provide property owners certified copies of their land documents. Nuciforo said anyone can visit their local registry of deeds and get certified copies for $4 or $5. They can also get uncertified copies online for free, he said.
Rick Mawrence, director of operations for National Record Service, said his company is not engaged in deceptive practices, and that his company sells a service that might be available elsewhere for a cheaper price. He noted that the letter in question states that the service can be provided by government agencies "at a nominal cost."
Nuciforo, who's also an attorney and former state Senator, called it "a classic racket."
Deed actually costs $4 or $5
"In effect, this company is offering to consumers for $69 something that they can get at their local land office for $4 or $5," he said. "So I'd like the attorney general's office to contact this company and tell them to stop sending out these deceptive letters."
He noted that the Consumer Protection Statute, which is Chapter 93A of Massachusetts General Laws, prohibits unfair and deceptive acts.
"Is offering somebody a document for $70 which they could get for $4 deceptive? I think it is," Nuciforo said.
His counterparts in the registries of deeds in North and South counties agreed with Nuciforo.
With no legitimate reason
"To charge $69 for this is ludicrous," said Wanda Beckwith, the Southern Berkshire District register of deeds. "There is no reason for anyone to pay that amount of money."
"A couple of people have brought that forward and it is a scam," said Fran Brooks, Northern Berkshire District register of deeds. "We're all on the same page on this."
Amie Breton, a spokeswoman for Coakley, confirmed that the office had received the request from Nuciforo, but as a matter of policy would not confirm or deny that the office is investigating the matter.
"Anybody who has received this letter and feels like it could be a scam is welcome to call our consumer hotline at (617) 727-8400," she added.
"We are a private company and we just provide a service," Mawrence said. in response to Nuciforo's concerns.
"If somebody wants a certified land record, we could get it for them. We do charge a little more than if someone did it on their own, and it does state that in the letter."
He noted that his company provides this service in many different counties through the nation. In some places, the process of obtaining a land record can be tedious and troublesome.
"I don't think it's deceptive -- we do provide the service if someone pays for it," Mawrence added.
To reach Scott Stafford: email@example.com, or (413) 496-6241.
"Good deeds, rewarded"
The North Adams Transcript, Editorial, February 18, 2010
Although we are firm believers in the old saw that no good deed should go unrewarded, a Northbrook, Ill., company is carrying things too far.
As reported in the Transcript on Wednesday, the company has sent a mailing to Berkshire County residents stating that it will provide them certified copies of their land documents for the bargain price of $69.50. As Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., Middle Berkshire District register of deeds, pointed out, certified copies of property owners’ deeds are available at local registries for $5 per copy.
We wish Mr. Nuciforo luck in his quest to get Attorney General Martha Coakley to investigate -- and to stop -- what he is calling deceptive practices by the Illinois firm. He may need it, since the company does spell out in its letter that the deeds are available through government agencies at nominal cost. The letter is not so much deception as it is a bold attempt to prey on people’s ignorance or stupidity.
Believe it or not, there are still people out there who will answer e-mails from Nigerians (and send them money) or who will provide their credit card numbers to almost anyone who asks, as long as they sound official. These are the same people who buy dubious commercial products because they are advertised on TV. They may just be in the market for some good, expensive deeds. And National Record Service will be happy to assist.
Rick Mawrence, the service’s director of operations, says his company provides deeds for counties throughout the nation, and he notes that in some cases the process of obtaining a land record can be tedious and troublesome.
Mr. Mawrence has obviously never been to Berkshire County, where the level of service at all registries is outstanding, honest and downright pleasant. But of course his company would be happy to spare us such encounters -- and laugh all the way to the bank.
"I don’t think it’s deceptive -- we do provide the service if someone pays for it," he said.
And boy would they pay for it.
While National Record Service may be operating within the letter of the law, its solicitation is certainly designed to bilk -- and to milk -- residents of Massachusetts. We urge Ms. Coakley to order the company to cease and desist and to boot these people back under the rock from which they crawled.
"Bill targets Registry of Deeds"
By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff, March 14, 2011
PITTSFIELD -- A state legislator from Western Massachusetts filed a bill last week that would eliminate seven elected Registry of Deeds positions across the state, including two of the three in Berkshire County.
State Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, claims the measure would save the state at least $600,000 annually by eliminating the salaries of those seven elected officials in the 2012 elections.
"The present system is simply inefficient and duplicative," Rosenberg said in a written statement. "There is no need for a separate registrar for each office."
Berkshire and Bristol counties each have three registries, while Essex, Middlesex and Worcester counties have two.
The measure, which Rosenberg filed on Tuesday, does not seek to close any state registries. In lieu of elected officials, they could be staffed by deputies, he has said.
One Berkshire County legislator said he would be in favor of the measure, as long as the three county registries stay open.
"I think the timing of it is interesting," said state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox. "If we're doing it to save money I don't think it's a bad idea, but we have to make sure that the services are maintained. I don't want to run into a situation that we had years ago where we eliminated the Registry of Motor Vehicles offices in the north and south.
"Expecting people to drive from Sandisfield to Pittsfield would be tough for us in the Berkshires," Pignatelli said.
State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, and state Rep. Paul Mark, D-Hancock, did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
The legislation does not specify which of the three elected registers of deeds in Berkshire County would be eliminated, but the Adams and Great Barrington registries are much smaller than the one in Pittsfield, which is located at the county seat. The Berkshire's three elected registers of deeds, Francis T. Brooks in Adams, Wanda M. Beckwith in Great Barrington, and Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. in Pittsfield, each received $93,396 in salary compensation in 2010.
Nuciforo, a former state senator who has announced that he plans for run for U.S. Rep. John W. Olver's seat in 2012, called Rosenberg's proposal a "good first step" adding that "we should look everywhere for savings."
"I think examining every office in the commonwealth including the registry makes sense from time to time," he said.
But like Pignatelli, Nuciforo said the current registry system is important to the residents of Berkshire County.
"If Stan or somebody else wants to change that I'd certainly be willing to review how these places are run from time to time," he said. "But maintaining these records is extremely important for the people own real estate or have real estate in Berkshire County."
Beckwith said that she believes the measure would hamper the services that the register of deeds provides to Berkshire County residents.
"I believe that saving money is extremely important, but not at the expense of the people," Beckwith said in a written statement. "If this proposed legislation becomes law I am worried that the people in Berkshire County will be shortchanged."
Brooks said she did not know enough about Rosenberg's bill to comment.
To reach Tony Dobrowolski: TDobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com (413) 496-6224
"A good registry proposal"
The Berkshire Eagle, Editorial, March 15, 2011
State Senator Stanley Rosenberg's proposal to eliminate seven elected Registry of Deeds positions, including two of three in Berkshire County, is a good one. However, a case could be made for the elimination of all of them.
The position is clearly important, but because it is administrative, not policy-making, there is no need to put it before voters. Each of Berkshire County's three registrars makes a hefty $93,000 a year, so there would be considerable savings in eliminating the positions at a time when desperately needed services are being cut to balance the budget. A procedure would have to be adopted for appointing the top officials are each registry.
We agree with state Representative Smitty Pignatelli that the proposal by the Amherst Democrat can be supported only if it means that all three county registries (Pittsfield, Adams, Great Barrington) remain open. Eliminating two if not three of the elected positions and their salaries may actually help assure all three stay open by reducing their costs to taxpayers.
"Mortgage business 'stiffing' county"
By Dick Lindsay, Berkshire Eagle Staff, August 15, 2011
PITTSFIELD -- A Virginia-based mortgage registry business mired in the nation's housing foreclosure investigation has apparently "stiffed" the three Berkshire Registry of Deeds offices of nearly $2 million in recording fees for more than a decade, local registry officials have claimed.
Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. of Reston, Va. failed to pay an estimated $1.18 million to the Middle District Registry of Deeds in Pittsfield from June 1999 through July of this year, according to Register of Deeds Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. In addition, Nuciforo's staff has calculated that the Southern and Northern District registries in North Adams and Great Barrington respectively are owed a collective $775,000 during the same 12-year period.
The $75 state-mandated fee in question is for each time a home mortgage is sold or swapped -- known as an assignment -- to another lending institution after it has been initially recorded in the appropriate registry. The money collected goes into the state's general revenue fund.
MERS was established 16 years ago by mortgage companies Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and financial giants like Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase to make it easier for banks and lenders to sell mortgages as an investment.
"It's become an elaborate stiffing scheme to avoid paying registry fees," Nuciforo said.
Nuciforo was among the state's 21 registers of deeds who met with Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley last week asking she further probe MERS' recording practices, before signing off on a reportedly $20 billion nationwide settlement. Under the joint federal-states proposal, MERS would compensate the states for the unpaid fees and in return the company would be released from claims in all 50 states, according to published reports.
While Nuciforo couldn't comment on the specifics of the meeting due to the pending litigation, the former Berkshire state senator is confident Coakley will dig deeper into the MERS mess.
"Clearly, [she] understands the issues and appreciates how disruptive [MERS] activities are to the mortgage industry and our ability to collect fees," he said.
Coakley's assurance affirms what she wrote in a recent letter to the states registers of deeds.
"We have made clear that Massachusetts will not sign on to any global agreement with the banks if it includes a comprehensive liability release regarding ... the MERS conduct," she stated. "We strongly believe that these investigations must continue and responsible parties must be held accountable in order to fully protect homeowners and return to a healthy economy."
Coakley was referring to homeowners facing foreclosure unaware of who holds their mortgages after MERS assigned them -- often more than once -- without recording the transaction with the proper registries. In March, The New York Times reported how the lack of public documentation made it difficult for many mortgagees to fight foreclosure proceedings and keep their homes.
"MERS has jeopardized the integrity of the land recording system by assigning individual mortgages time and time again without a public paper trail," wrote John L. O'Brien Jr., Essex South Register of Deeds located in Salem. O'Brien's letter in December to the National Association of County Recorders, Election Officials and Clerks part of his to draw attention to MERS and spearhead the campaign calling for a state and federal probe of the mortgage registry firm.
Registers of deeds usually remain out of the political spotlight, unless up for re-election, but Nuciforo believes he and his colleagues must prevent MERS alleged deceptive practices.
"I have an obligation to make sure our [registry's] documents are an accurate reflection of who owns the mortgage to a property," he said.
To reach Dick Lindsay: firstname.lastname@example.org, or (413) 496-6233.
Pay up ...
Local Registers of Deeds among the 21 statewide seeking millions in compensation from MERS, a private mortgage registry company accused of failing to pay billions in land recording fees across the country. The estimates below are based MERS activities involving Berkshire County home mortgages from June 1999 to July of this year. The money collected goes to the state's general revenue fund.
* $1,180,800 owed the Middle District Registry of Deeds, representing Becket, Dalton, Hinsdale, Lee, Lenox, Otis, Peru, Pittsfield, Richmond, Stockbridge, Tyringham and Washington.
* $447,300 owed the Northern District Registry of Deeds, serving Adams, Cheshire, Clarksburg, Florida, Hancock, Lanesborough, New Ashford, North Adams, Savoy, Williamstown and Windsor.
* $328,085 owed the Southern District Registry of Deeds, covering Alford, Egremont, Great Barrington, Monterey, Mount Washington, New Marlborough, Sandisfield, Sheffield and West Stockbridge.
"Local real estate figures at odds"
By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff, September 4, 2011
PITTSFIELD -- The number of foreclosure petitions filed in Berkshire County last month is double the amount that were initiated in July 2010, according to Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., although an organization that follows the state housing market claims the numbers have actually gone down.
Figures from Berkshire County’s three registries indicate that orders of notice for foreclosure petitions, the first step in the foreclosure process, increased from seven in July 2010 to 14 last month, Nuciforo said.
However, figures released by The Warren Group of Boston show that foreclosure petitions in the Berkshires are down 32.1 percent, from 32 to 19, between July 2010 and last month.
"We see that over the year they’re up by a lot," Nuciforo said. "I don’t know how the Warren Group slices their figures...the first evidence [of foreclosure] that we see at the registry is the order of notice."
More than 1,400 foreclosures were initiated in Massachusetts last month, the highest monthly total for 2011, according to The Warren Group of Boston, which follows the state housing market.
Through the first seven months of 2011, the number of foreclosure notices has dropped by 31 percent to 168 in Berkshire County, while the amount of foreclosure deeds has decreased 47 percent to 73, according to registry statistics compiled by Nuciforo. According to the Warren Group’s statistics, the number of foreclosure petitions in the Berkshires has dropped 52 percent this year, while foreclosure deeds have decreased by 47.7 percent.
Although 1,441 foreclosure petitions were initiated throughout the state last month, that number represents a 37.5 percent decrease from the 2,307 petitions that were initiated in July 2010, according to the Warren Group.
But Cory S. Hopkins, the managing editor of Banker & Tradesmen, said that decrease is somewhat misleading because it was expected that foreclosure petitions would increase greatly during the first three quarters of 2010.
"Being down this year from last year you can look at it and think it’s great," Hopkins said. "But you’re down from what was shaping up to be a banner year for foreclosures.
"I think they’re going to keep going up," for the rest of 2011, Hopkins said. "Homeowners are still in trouble."
Nuciforo expects foreclosures in the county to go up.
"Families are really struggling," Nuciforo said. "We see evidence of that struggle in our documents every day."
Unemployment in the Berkshires dropped from 9.2 percent in January to 7.1 percent last month, while the Pittsfield labor market has experienced the highest level of job growth in Massachusetts over the last 12 months, according to the state.
But personal income in Berkshire County is at the same level it was in 2008, according to the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, while families in the bottom fifth of the income scale in Western Massachusetts have seen inflation-adjusted earnings drop below 1979 levels, according to a recent study by two University of Massachusetts economists.
Nuciforo said the Berkshires may experience a "temporary respite" economically due to the drop in the local unemployment rate, but added, "I think we’re tied to the national indicators like everybody else."
"With consistently high unemployment [nationally], we will see foreclosures continue," he said.
To reach Tony Dobrowolski: TDobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com (413) 499-3419
"Andrea Nuciforo Jr. calls on Attorney General Coakley to pursue action against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for unpaid excise taxes"
By Robert Rizzuto, The Republican, April 4, 2012
PITTSFIELD - Citing a recent U.S. District Court ruling in Michigan, Berkshire Middle Register of Deeds Andrea Nuciforo Jr. is calling on Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley to pursue action against two big mortgage lenders for not paying state excise taxes.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were placed into government conversatorship in 2008 following the sub-prime mortgage crisis. And despite an assertion by the respective lenders that they were exempt from paying state taxes for registering properties, the federal court in Michigan ruled otherwise.
In Oakland County v. Federal Housing Finance Agency, the United States District Court in Michigan held that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were subject to the same excise tax provisions that other mortgage lenders in Michigan were.
The court found that Title 12 of the United States Code did not exempt Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from the payment of excise taxes, while reasoning that the exemption did not apply because Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are privately-owned mortgage companies, not instrumentalities of the United States.
"By asserting this exemption, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have avoided the payment of $155,031 in excise tax in Berkshire County alone, and millions of dollars in excise taxes throughout the Commonwealth," Nuciforo said. "I am urging the Attorney General to take a close look at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's recording practices, and to review the operation of the exemption under Title 12."
In a letter to Coakley, Nuciforo said that in southern Essex County, an additional $4.2 million in unpaid excise taxes have been identified.
Nuciforo is currently squaring off with U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, and Alford political activist and satirist Bill Shein, to represent the newly drawn 1st Congressional District in Massachusetts.
"Harris off to fast start as register of deeds"
By Adam Poulisse, Berkshire Eagle, January 8, 2013
Patsy Harris, who won a primary election in September and faced no opposition in the general election in Novmember, was sworn in as the Middle Berkshire District register of deeds on Monday in Boston. (Ben Garver / Berkshire Eagle Staff)
PITTSFIELD -- Middle Berkshire District Register of Deeds Patsy Harris hasn't wasted any time in her new position.
The Hinsdale resident was sworn into the job in Boston on Wednesday and has already made some changes in the office, she told The Eagle.
"Just moving people to different job titles and a couple of promotions, basically," Harris said. "Also, some of the job duties have been moved around -- certain things that have been done by other personnel have been moved."
Before winning the primary election in September and facing no challengers in the general election in November, Harris had 11 years with the registry including the last five as the assistant register of deeds.
The most noticeable difference between the two jobs, Harris said, is the level of responsibility.
"I am responsible for an extremely important operation and accepting the accountability that goes along with this position," Harris later added in a statement. "There is absolutely no room for errors in the Registry of Deeds."
Harris said one goal is to continue digitizing the office's documents so that, by July, any recorded document on or after July 1, 1963, would be viewable from a person's home or office. The current digital database only goes back to Dec. 1, 1971.
The new assistant register of deeds is Heidi Germanowski. She's held a few different positions throughout her 11 years in the registry, most recently as an archival specialist.
"Before, I was processing copies and recordings as well as making calls," Germanowski said. "Now I'm still doing recording, but I have administration functions, like our daily deposits and payroll."
"I deal with Boston a lot more often now," she added. "I never did that before in the other job."
F. Sydney Smithers, who's been a real estate attorney in the Berkshires for almost 42 years, went to Boston to see Harris be sworn in.
The principal reason Smithers said he supported her is that her registry experience would mean she could land on her feet "where others would have been new to that position, to that office," he said.
The "main goal" of the Registry of Deeds office, according to Harris, "is to record documents that attorneys are bringing to us in the most efficient manner that we can."
The registry maintains all of the land records and transactions for Pittsfield and the towns of Becket, Dalton, Hinsdale, Lee, Lenox, Otis, Peru, Richmond, Stockbridge, Tyringham and Washington.
When someone is sworn in as register of deeds in Massachusetts, they are also sworn in as an assistant record to the Land Court, a separate set of records within the registry. As the assistant recorder, Harris is also responsible for ensuring documents meet the strict recording standards set by the Land Court, she said.
Harris' term lasts six years. The job pays $90,000 annually.
- Jonathan Melle
- Amherst, NH, United States
- 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 email@example.com
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