"’Curious’ sheriff looks toward future"
By Conor Berry, Berkshire Eagle Staff, 1/9/2010
PITTSFIELD -- Carmen Massimiano doesn’t seem worried.
The Berkshire County Sheriff, who hasn’t faced a challenger for the job in 30 years, appears unfazed by rumblings of a possible opponent in November.
"I don’t listen to rumblings," said Massimiano, 65, who’s been sheriff for 32 years, longer than anyone in county history. "I just do what I do, and that is that I’m running for re-election as sheriff for Berkshire County."
Some local law enforcement officials have hinted at running against Massimiano, though none have publicly declared their intentions.
The last time Massimiano faced a challenger was in 1980, when Richard H. Smith unsuccessfully attempted to unseat the sheriff, who is widely considered to be one of Berkshire County’s most powerful political figures.
Massimiano has a reputation as a behind-the-scenes powerbroker and belongs to a prominent family, which includes Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Justice Francis X. Spina and retired Central Berkshire District Court Judge Alfred A. Barbalunga, both of whom are Massimiano’s cousins.
The sheriff said it "remains to be seen" if anyone will challenge him in this year’s election.
"I do not shy away from campaigns," said Massimiano, whose greatest legacy as sheriff is the $34 million Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction, which opened in 2001. "I have the greatest faith in the citizens of Berkshire County, and they have always been good to me."
Hampden County Sheriff Michael J. Ashe Jr., a longtime friend and colleague of Massimiano’s, called the sheriff "a pioneer in corrections" and credits him with running a "first-class" jail operation.
When Massimiano took over as sheriff in 1978, there were 65 prisoners at the old Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction on Second Street. Today there are approximately 300 prisoners in the 500-bed, 9-year-old facility off Cheshire Road.
But for all of his successes as sheriff, Massimiano has experienced a defeat in his political life: Two months ago, he lost his re-election bid to the Pittsfield School Committee after serving on the board for 12 years.
Massimiano was the only candidate eliminated in a seven-way race for six school board seats in the Nov. 3 election. His 7,154-vote total was the lowest of any candidate.
"I found it curious," Massimiano said of the results.
Nevertheless, he downplayed his loss and scoffed at the notion that it could be a sign of things to come in a potential sheriff’s race.
"It’s done and gone," Massimiano said of the school race. "I’m running for re-election to the sheriff’s office. I don’t feel vulnerable at all, and people can read whatever they want into this."
Newcomers to the School Committee are Katherine L. Yon, a retired Pittsfield schoolteacher and the second-highest vote-getter in the race, and Alfred E. "Alf" Barbalunga, the probation chief for Southern Berkshire District Court and the son of the retired Alfred A. Barbalunga.
Incumbent Angel Ramirez Jr. chose not to seek re-election.
"I think we were all quite shocked," Yon said of Massimiano’s loss. "It was a scenario that nobody envisioned."
Massimiano participated in the pre-election debates, while Barbalunga did not. Yet Barbalunga still beat Massimiano by 80 votes, making Barbalunga the second-lowest vote-getter after his cousin.
Massimiano declined to speculate why he lost his seat. He said he "did what I always do," including placing campaign signs throughout the city and attending debates.
School Committee Chairwoman Kathleen A. Amuso -- the top vote-getter with 9,791 votes -- said incumbents sometimes lose simply because people are
looking for new members, and Massimiano happened to place last.
"Sometimes the people of Pittsfield like to have change," Amuso said, adding that Massimiano had been "a committed member" of the panel. "I think we just had seven outstanding people running for School Committee."
Massimiano said he probably won’t run for School Committee again, but added that he’ll always have "a great interest in the education of children."
The sheriff served on the school board for 12 years -- six two-year terms -- intermittently from 1988 until this year. He decided not to seek re-election twice during that period, including at the conclusion of terms ending in January 1992 and January 2006. In each instance, Massimiano cited his duties as sheriff and other factors for not running again.
Massimiano was board chairman for two of the years during his stint on the School Committee from January 1988 to January 1992, and chair for all six years from 2000 to 2006. His final two years were served from January 2008 until this month.
Dec. 16 was Massimiano’s last School Committee meeting, a session that included heaping praise for his devotion to public education in Pittsfield.
"There’s no stronger advocate for the students of Pittsfield, and no stronger advocate for at-risk children in our city," Mayor James M. Ruberto said.
School Committee member Daniel C. Elias, who was re-elected to his seventh two-year term, offered mixed emotions about election night.
"My happiness lasted all but five seconds that night, as [Massimiano’s] losing was a great loss for Pittsfield," Elias said. "He’s always advocated for what was right for kids."
Massimiano was a member of the school board’s negotiating team, which put him in the middle of sometimes tense contract talks between School Department officials and unionized employees.
Among the highlights of his School Committee tenure was the founding of the Juvenile Resource Center, a program that requires suspended students to attend classes at the former Berkshire County House of Correction on Second Street.
The first School Committee meeting without Massimiano is scheduled for Wednesday, when Yon and Barbalunga will be sworn in as members.
Yon said Massimiano will be missed.
"He does have a great deal of political clout, and I think that’s served us well," she said.
Eagle reporters Dick Lindsay and Tony Dobrowolski contributed to this report.
To reach Conor Berry: firstname.lastname@example.org; (413) 496-6249.
"Sheriff outlasted foe in ‘80 race"
By Conor Berry, Berkshire Eagle Staff, 1/9/2010
PITTSFIELD -- The 1980 race for Berkshire County Sheriff was rancorous, marking the first-and-only time that Carmen C. Massimiano Jr. was challenged for the job he’s held for 32 years.
In 1978, then-Gov. Michael S. Dukakis appointed Massimiano to replace Sheriff John D. Courtney Jr., who resigned with two years remaining in his six-year term. Massimiano served out Courtney’s term, then announced he would run for sheriff in 1980.
His challenger was Richard H. Smith, who ran the work-release program at the old Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction and took a political risk by challenging his boss for sheriff.
The tone of the race was shrill at times, with Smith accusing Massimiano of using jail guards and prisoners to work on the sheriff’s residence.
Massimiano ultimately won, garnering 35,936 votes to Smith’s 30,178, though Smith narrowly defeated Massimiano in Pittsfield.
The pair sparred publicly in the press, particularly after Massimiano, a Democrat, issued an order barring any corrections officer from running for office without first taking a leave of absence.
Smith, a Republican, argued that the order also should have applied to Massimiano, who was merely a gubernatorial appointee serving out Courtney’s term. Massimiano claimed he had the same status as an elected sheriff, since he held an office normally filled by election, and therefore he should not have to take leave to run for his first six-year term as sheriff.
Massimiano eventually rescinded the leave-of-absence order, telling The Eagle in May 1980 that he "chose not to implement the order" after researching a law that restricts public law enforcement employees from running because he couldn’t find cases pertaining to corrections officers.
No other sheriff challengers emerged after 1980, allowing Massimiano to oversee the growing law enforcement agency for the next three decades and to shepherd construction of the $34 million Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction, which opened in 2001.
Massimiano’s name is emblazoned on the jail’s main sign, and his presence has been widely felt in the county for more than three decades.
As sheriff, he has direct control over hundreds of public-sector jobs. As a politician, he’s an effective fundraiser and a major player in the local Democratic Party, and his annual picnic is considered a can’t-miss event for those seeking elected office.
Retired Central Berkshire District Court Judge Alfred A. Barbalunga, a cousin of Massimiano’s, credits the sheriff for starting him on the path toward a judgeship.
In a June 2005 interview with The Eagle, Barbalunga said it was Massimiano who got him involved in Francis X. Bellotti’s campaign to become Massachusetts Attorney General, a position Bellotti held from 1975 to 1987.
Barbalunga worked for Bellotti for nearly eight years.
"That got me off and running into the political arena," Barbalunga said. "And that parlayed into a job as an assistant attorney general ... which was the cornerstone of eventually getting to the bench."
"Ousted Massachusetts mayor to consult for another city"
By Associated Press, www.bostonherald.com - Local Politics, January 10, 2010
PITTSFIELD - Former North Adams Mayor John Barrett is going to work as a consultant for another Berkshire County city.
Barrett has been hired by Pittsfield Mayor James Ruberto to recommend how the city can better serve neighborhood residents.
Barrett was the longest serving mayor in Massachusetts until he lost his bid for a 14th term in November. He left office in North Adams in January after 26 years.
Ruberto says Barrett will receive a yet-to-be determined consultants’ fee that must be approved by the city council. He’s expected to work for about three to four months in Pittsfield.
In early-2008, Jimmy Ruberto had fellow "Good Old Boy" Andrea "Luciforo" swear him in to his 3rd term as Pittsfield Mayor.
Where is Carmen Massimiano? He must have been off to the side! OR Carmen Massimiano may be been busy "cashing in" on his 6-figure salary.
Boston Globe Graphic: "Cashing In" -
Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. (D) - Current Salary $101,499 - Proposed Salary $123,209 - Percent Increase 21% - Average inmate population 336 (9th out of 14 in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts).
Notes: Inmate population figures as of March 28, 2005. Massachusetts Department of Correction.
The running joke on political payroll hacks like Carmen Massimiano is that he works one hour a day and takes his lunch in between!
Note: Then Berkshire State Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. voted in favor of giving Berkshire Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. a 21% pay raise! (Of course!)
"Maduro at peace with term"
By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff, The Berkshire Eagle, Saturday, January 28, 2006
PITTSFIELD — Miriam Maduro is proud of the work she did as chairwoman of the Licensing Board and sad that she has been replaced.
But Maduro is far from angry.
She is realistic enough to know that Mayor James M. Ruberto has the authority to appoint whomever he wants to serve on city boards.
In an effort to crack down on the unsavory activities that were reported at several city watering holes last year, Ruberto has decided to replace Maduro with Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano Jr.
The City Council approved Massimiano's appointment on Tuesday.
"I would have loved to have stayed on," said Maduro, who had been a member of the three-member board since 1993. She became chairwoman when the late Edward O'Keefe died in 2003.
"I thought we did real good work, and I'm proud of the work we did in getting (the city) new liquor licenses," she added. "I really loved that job and enjoyed being a part of it."
Maduro's current term on the Licensing Board had expired in June, but she had the option of remaining a member until Ruberto decided to replace her.
"The mayor has the right to appoint who he wants," Maduro said.
Ruberto, whose father, the late Anthony J. Ruberto Sr., chaired the Licensing Board in the mid-1970s, did not present Massimiano's appointment to the City Council for consideration until shortly before Tuesday night's meeting. He did, however, inform Maduro of his decision ahead of time.
"I guess I wasn't surprised," Maduro said. "I was more sad. I liked the job. I was sad that I couldn't continue my work. But that's not my call. It's his administration, and he has the right to pick and choose when appointments come up."
Ruberto said Maduro has served the city well, but he chose Massimiano to be her successor because he would like to continue infusing "new blood" into different boards.
"I believe that Sheriff Massimiano is evident of my interest in holding all liquor license owners to a very high standard," Ruberto said. "While I say that, it is not to be critical of the role that Miriam Maduro played."
The mayor said he believes that Massimiano is a "very persuasive man" whose leadership qualities will be an asset to the Licensing Board.
"I think he is a forceful and direct leader," Ruberto said.
Under state law, the Licensing Board has the authority to either grant all-alcoholic restaurant licenses, or to modify, suspend or revoke them. The board works closely with the Pittsfield Police Department, because the department usually brings forward allegations regarding liquor license violations.
The board had its hands full last year. It investigated possible liquor license violations at Club Red on Wendell Avenue Extension, The Tavern at 238 Fourth St., Pepe's Wings and Dogs at 87 Wahconah St. and Zen's Pub at 303 Tyler St. Under Maduro's guidance, the board limited the hours of those first three establishments for various periods of time and issued a warning to Zen's.
The alleged liquor license violations included unruly patrons and underage drinking at Club Red, a shooting and a stabbing at The Tavern, fistfights and patrons drinking outside the bar at Pepe's, and a fight involving 60 people at Zen's that spilled out of the bar onto the street.
Massimiano, who has been Berkshire County sheriff since 1978, has a master's degree in criminal justice administration from American International College. But Maduro is a lawyer, having graduated from both Union College and the New England College of Law.
On Tuesday, several councilors said that Maduro's legal expertise on the Licensing Board would be missed.
"I thought she did a great job," Ward 6 Councilor Daniel L. Bianchi said. "I've been at several hearings that she deliberated over. There was an incredible amount of institutional knowledge that she had. She took a very professional and scholarly approach to this.
"I thought she was fair and that board was appropriately tough. I didn't see the need for a replacement."
"Massimiano choice is business as usual"
THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE, Letters, Friday, February 03, 2006
To the Editor of THE EAGLE:-
I couldn't help but laugh when I read the article regarding the mayor's choice for chairman of the city's Licensing Board. In particular, two comments that were made by Mayor Ruberto when asked about his decision to replace Miriam Maduro with Sheriff Massimiano.
The first comment, that the mayor considered the sheriff to be "a very persuasive man." Apparently so, seeing the mayor rushed his appointment through the City Council without any prior public notification, and little or no debate amongst the Council members.
Secondly, the mayor's comment the he would like to continue 'infusing new blood" into various City boards. If the mayor considers the sheriff, recently removed from his extended tenure on the school board, "new blood," then call me the next Pope.
By appointing the sheriff to this board, as chairman no less, all the mayor has done is play a shell game, keeping the same old, stale cronies in positions of importance.
January 28, 2006
Pittsfield Police Detective Thomas Bowler is going to run for the office of Berkshire County Sherriff. January 13, 2010. (Ben Garver).
"Sheriff Massimiano to face his first contest: Police Detective Thomas N. Bowler has announced that he will run against longtime incumbent."
By Conor Berry, Berkshire Eagle Staff, 1/14/2010
PITTSFIELD -- A veteran Pittsfield police officer is aiming to unseat longtime Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano Jr., who hasn't faced a challenger since 1980.
Pittsfield Police Detective Thomas N. Bowler, a 23-year veteran of the force and a onetime assistant deputy superintendent at the Sheriff's Office, announced on Wednesday that he's running against Massimiano. This is Bowler's first bid for public office.
Massimiano last week confirmed to The Eagle and other area media organizations that he would seek another six-year term as sheriff, though it remains unclear if Bowler's candidacy might affect the sheriff's decision to seek re-election. Massimiano didn't respond to multiple requests for comment on Wednesday, and efforts to reach him at his office and home were unsuccessful.
Bowler formally announced his intentions to run for sheriff during a meeting with Eagle news staff on Wednesday. However, Bowler informed the sheriff of his plans during a phone call last Thursday, he said, noting that the tone of that conversation was "amicable."
"Out of respect for the sheriff, I had planned to wait for his retirement to announce my own plans. When the sheriff said he intended to seek another term, I felt I had no choice but to run against him," Bowler said. "The time is right for me and my family to pursue this next step in my law enforcement career."
Asked what he would bring to the job as sheriff, Bowler's one-word reply was "integrity."
He's the first person to publicly declare his candidacy for sheriff, though other possible candidates could still emerge. Nomination papers must be available to candidates by Feb. 9 and must be filed with the office of Secretary of State William F. Galvin by May 25, according to a spokesman for Galvin.
Bowler cited his extensive law enforcement background -- including his role in many prominent criminal investigations over the years -- as his strongest asset. He also cited his "great working relationship" with the Berkshire District Attorney's Office and other county law enforcement agencies among the reasons he would make a good, effective sheriff who's accountable to the voters.
"I don't want to be a politician," Bowler said. "I want to be a public servant."
As a detective, the Pittsfield native and married father of four has been involved in police investigations ranging from homicides to kidnappings and sexual assault cases. Bowler was a member of the Police Department's drug unit and an arson investigator.
A standout high school and college athlete, Bowler is a 1978 graduate of Taconic High School and a 1982 graduate of American International College in Springfield, where he earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. Six years later, he received a master's in criminal justice from the Springfield school.
In 2000, Bowler left the Pittsfield Police Department to become the assistant deputy superintendent in charge of security affairs at the new Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction, a position he held until 2002.
Bowler said his relationship with Massimiano during that two-year period was good. He said he joined the Sheriff's Office during a period of "major transformation," as the law enforcement agency was vacating its old Second Street location for a state-of-the-art facility on Cheshire Road.
"I was always grateful to the sheriff for [that] opportunity, and it was a wonderful experience. I truly enjoyed working with the very talented men and women at the jail," Bowler said.
The seasoned Pittsfield detective said he ultimately missed "the street-level challenges" of police work, however, and rejoined the Police Department in 2002.
Bowler plans to remain on the force during his campaign for sheriff.
"Detective Bowler did notify me of his intentions, and I wished him the best of luck," Pittsfield Police Chief Michael J. Wynn said Wednesday.
With no public reaction from the Massimiano camp, it remains to be seen if the sheriff's first challenger in 30 years might influence his decision to seek re-election. As recently as last week, Massimiano was adamant about seeking another term.
"He was unequivocal that he was running," said Sherman Baldwin, a local radio host, adding that the sheriff confirmed his intentions during a live broadcast last week. The sheriff was equally firm about his political aspirations during an interview with The Eagle, excerpts of which were featured in a Sunday story about a possible challenger in the November sheriff's election.
Since Bowler's entry into the race, efforts to reach Massimiano have been unsuccessful. The sheriff was spotted exiting the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction shortly before 4 p.m. on Wednesday, but numerous calls placed to his work and cell phones throughout the day were not returned. His home phone number apparently does not include an option to leave a message, and even people who know the sheriff well claimed they couldn't reach him on Wednesday.
"I last talked to him 1 1/2 days ago," said Jack Downing, the president and CEO of the veterans organization Soldier On, adding that he was unsure of the sheriff's whereabouts.
Others speculated that the sheriff might still be smarting from his November defeat for a Pittsfield School Committee seat.
"He was hurt badly by losing the school race," said Baldwin, the local radio personality.
Massimiano told The Eagle that losing his school board seat -- he placed last in a seven-way race for six seats -- didn't make him more vulnerable to losing his sheriff's seat on Nov. 2.
Berkshire County Sheriff
"Massimiano stepping down: Citing health challenges, says he won't run again"
Berkshire Eagle Staff, 1/14/2010
Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano Jr. says he will not seek re-election this fall out of concerns about his health and that of his wife, Linda.
In a news statement released this morning by the sheriff's department, Massimiano said he came to the decision after a discussion with his wife. Massimiano said he met with senior staff on Wednesday at his office at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction, which he runs.
As recently as last week, Massimiano was confident in statements to The Eagle and WBRK radio that he would seek re-election. He has been sheriff for 32 years, and he has never faced a challenger.
On Wednesday, Pittsfield Police Detective Thomas N. Bowler, a 23-year veteran of the force and a onetime assistant deputy superintendent at the Sheriff's Office, announced he's running for sheriff. This is Bowler's first bid for public office.
The Sheriff's Department statement continued: "The sheriff concluded that he could not effectively manage a re-election campaign while continuing to uphold the duties of his office, addressing his own health issues, and providing support to his wife as she deals with her ongoing medical concerns."
Massimiano said he will finish out his term.
Bowler is the first person to publicly declare his candidacy for sheriff, though other possible candidates could still emerge. Nomination papers must be available to candidates by Feb. 9 and must be filed with the office of Secretary of State William F. Galvin by May 25, according to a spokesman for Galvin.
"Massimiano pulls out of race: Cites health issues"
Berkshire Eagle Staff, 1/15/2010
PITTSFIELD — Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano Jr. announced Thursday that he's withdrawing from the sheriff's race because of “ ongoing health issues” involving him and his wife.
The announcement, via press release, came four days after The Eagle ran a story in which Massimiano, 65, said he would seek re-election in November.
The health issues were not specified in the release.
Massimiano — the county sheriff since 1978 — could not be reached for comment again Thursday, and has not spoken with The Eagle since last week. He and his wife, Linda, are vacationing in Puerto Rico, according to Darby O'Brien, whose South Hadley-based public relations firm was hired by Massimiano's campaign. O'Brien said Massimiano will finish his current term.
But the sheriff cannot “effectively manage a re-election campaign while continuing to uphold the duties of his office, addressing his own health issues, and providing support to his wife as she deals with her ongoing medical concerns,” O'Brien said in the release.
“We were working on the re-election campaign. We were really zeroing in on the issues and his record,” O'Brien told The Eagle in a live interview.
The press release said Massimiano's decision grew out of a discussion with his wife. Massimiano's six-year term expires on Jan. 5, 2011, the day before a new sheriff will be sworn in. One candidate — veteran Pittsfield Police Detective Thomas N. Bowler — has announced his intention to run, and one other — state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley — has decided to run, according to sources with close ties to the North Adams Democrat.
Bowler announced his candidacy on Wednesday, the day before Massimiano withdrew from the race. The sheriff hadn't faced an opponent since 1980.
Bowler, 50, said Massimiano's decision caught him off-guard. "I didn't see this one coming," Bowler said. "I was prepared for a very difficult race against a tough incumbent."
The fact that Massimiano has decided not to run again "in no way diminishes his contributions to our community for more than 30 years," Bowler said. "I wish the sheriff and Linda a long, healthy and happy retirement."
Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless also was taken aback by Massimiano's announcement, although he said he was aware of the declining health of the sheriff and his wife. " We've always had a great working relationship," Capeless said. "But considering what he's going through, I sympathize with that decision. We have very difficult jobs, and our families are of primary importance to us."
Capeless said the next sheriff should be someone "who understands law enforcement and has a good working relationship with the law enforcement community."
Mayor James M. Ruberto said he was surprised by the timing of Massimiano's decision. He praised the sheriff's service to the community.
" The sheriff has used that office to prevent people from ending up in the jail," he said. "His passion and investment in education for at-risk youth speaks volumes. People will say his legacy is the jail itself, but I say it's all those kids who have graduated from our school system."
Massimiano served on the Pittsfield School Committee for 12 years before losing in the Nov. 3 election. He was the only candidate ousted in a seven-way race for six school board seats. As sheriff, Massimiano's greatest legacy is the $ 34 million Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction, which opened in 2001.
Massimiano, who was first appointed sheriff by then-Gov. Michael S. Dukakis in 1978, is the longest- serving sheriff in county history. On Wednesday, he told his staff at the jail that he would not seek another six-year term, effectively ending his 32-year career.
According to state payroll records, Massimiano earned $123,209 as sheriff in 2008. The primary function of the job is to oversee the daily administration of the county jail, which as of this week had 321 inmates, according to the Massachusetts Department of Correction.
Eagle staff members Conor Berry, Benning W. De La Mater, Tim Farkas and Kevin Moran contributed to this report.
"State Representative Daniel E. Bosley to run for sheriff"
By Tim Farkas and David Pepose, Berkshire Eagle Staff, 1/15/2010
State Rep. Daniel E. Bosley will run for the Berkshire County Sheriff's seat in November, according to sources with close ties to Bosley.
" He's in," said one of the sources, who requested anonymity. Bosley was on his way to a conference in Orlando on Thursday and could not be reached for comment, but sources said the North Adams Democrat will seek the position held for the past 32 years by Carmen C. Massimiano Jr., who Thursday cited health reasons in announcing he would not seek re-election.
Bosley, a state lawmaker since 1987, becomes the second candidate for the sheriff's job, joining Pittsfield Police Detective Thomas N. Bowler, a 23-year veteran of the force who Wednesday announced he would run.
Nomination papers for the job -- which carries a six-year term and pays about $123,000 annually -- must be available to candidates by Feb. 9 and must be filed with the Secretary of State by May 25.
Bosley's current two-year term as a state representative expires this year.
Bosley's role in the House isn't as prominent as it once was. He lost his position as chairman of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies when Robert DeLeo became Speaker of the House last January.
Bosley now serves as vice chairman of the House Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditure and State Assets.
Former North Adams Mayor John Barrett III, currently acting as a temporary consultant to Pittsfield Mayor James M. Ruberto, said Thursday that he isn't interested running for state representative if Bosley seeks the sheriff's post.
"No, no - I'm retired," said Barrett, who in November was defeated by Richard J. Alcombright in the North Adams mayor's race after serving in the position for 26 years.
Bosley, 56, represents the First Berkshire District, which consists of the towns of Adams, Clarksburg, Florida, North Adams, Savoy and Williamstown in Berkshire County, and the towns of Charlemont, Hawley, Heath, Monroe and Rowe in Franklin County.
Bosley is a graduate of Drury High School in North Adams, the former North Adams State College, and the University of Massachusetts.
"Bosley confirms run for sheriff"
By Jennifer Huberdeau, North Adams Transcript, 1/15/2010
NORTH ADAMS - State. Rep. Daniel E. Bosley, D-North Adams, confirmed Friday morning that he will seek the Berkshire County sheriff's seat in November.
"I had heard that the sheriff was not going to run again, but I wanted to wait until after he made that decision known," Bosley said during a telephone interview from Orlando, where he is moderating a panel discussion on how emissions caps and tax credits will affect dairy farmers.
Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano Jr., who has held the county seat since 1978, announced Thursday that he would not seek re-election in November because of health issues involving him and his wife.
"I've made some calls to the rest of the [Berkshire] delegation and some key leaders in the state, but I wanted to have some time to contact my really strong supporters to tell them about my decision before making a formal announcement," Bosley said.
The Berkshire County House of Correction is more than just a jail, he said, it's an opportunity to rehabilitate those who find their way there.
"This position would allow me to return to the issues that were key to me when I first entered government - literacy, rehabilitation and adult basic education," Bosley said. "I also bring 24 years of experience in government to this position. A lot of this position is being an administrator and being a politician."
A state lawmaker since 1987, Bosley is the second candidate for the sheriff's position, joining Pittsfield Police Detective Thomas N. Bowler, who announced his intentions to run for the post on Wednesday.
Bosley's current two-year term as state representative for the First Berkshire District expires at the end of the year.
January 15, 2010
Re: Ironies of county government in Massachusetts
I find it very ironic that the 2 Beacon Hill Legislators who abolished Berkshire County Government via a rider in the FY1999 Massachusetts State Budget during the summer of 1998 now have their sights in former county government posts. Andrea "Luciforo" is the middle Berkshire Registrar of Deeds, which was a long-time county government elected post. Dan Bosley is running for Berkshire Sheriff, which was another long-time county government elected post. These two elected posts are now state government plums being sought after by former and current state Legislators. It is almost like "Luciforo" & Bosley set themselves up for their respective sinecures at the expense of the hard hit taxpayers!
- Jonathan Melle
Son of Berkshire County Commissioner Bob Melle
Daniel E. Bosley or Daniel Bosley or Dan Bosley or bureaucRAT Bosley (above)
The Berkshire Eagle, Editorial, 1/15/2010
The decision of Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano Jr. not to run for re-election would be stunning even without the timing factor. His decision to step down after 32 years on the job because of "ongoing health issues" came just four days after he confirmed his intention to run again in an Eagle article and on the same day that Thomas N. Bowler announced his plan to run for the office. It seems likely that the field will expand beyond Mr. Bowler, a former police detective and assistant deputy superintendent in the sheriff's office.
The longest-serving sheriff in Berkshire history, Mr. Massimiano has not only been a key player in crime prevention and punishment for 30 years but he has been a political mover and shaker and an active member of the educational community. The Juvenile Resource Center housed in the former House of Correction on Pittsfield's Second Street, the result of a collaboration between the Sheriff's Office and School Department, is a particular source of pride for the sheriff.
Last November, Mr. Massimiano finished a surprising last in the Pittsfield School Committee election, and Mr. Bowler would have been his first opponent in 30 years. With the veteran sheriff stepping aside, other candidates are sure to join, including it appears, state Representative Daniel Bosley. Change is coming with shocking quickness to an office that has been in the same hands since 1978.
"Sheriff's cousin may be in race for seat: Alfred E. Barbalunga says he is considering a run for Berkshire County sheriff; Daniel E. Bosley has also confirmed his candidacy."
By Conor Berry, Berkshire Eagle Staff, 1/16/2010
PITTSFIELD -- A cousin of Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano Jr. is the latest person to emerge as a possible candidate for the sheriff's race in November, and state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley confirmed Friday that he will run for the position being vacated by Massimiano, who has announced he will not seek re-election.
Massimiano's second cousin, Southern Berkshire District Court Probation Chief Alfred E. "Alf" Barbalunga, told The Eagle on Friday that he is seriously considering entering the race, a move that would bring the candidates list to three.
On Wednesday, veteran Pittsfield Police Detective Thomas N. Bowler became the first to announce his candidacy.
Massimiano, 65, said in a press release Thursday that he was withdrawing from the sheriff's race, citing "ongoing health issues" involving him and his wife. No issues were specified. Massimiano has been the county sheriff since 1978.
Barbalunga, the son of retired Central Berkshire District Court Judge Alfred A. Barbalunga, declined Friday to discuss Massimiano's health, as did Berkshire Superior Court Probation Chief Clifford J. Nilan, a confidante of Massimiano's.
"I'm not going to comment on that," Nilan said. "He's a good friend, and I'm just going to keep that between him and me."
When the younger Barbalunga was asked if he discussed his decision to run with Massimiano, Barbalunga's response simply was "No." When asked if his cousin had reached out to him, Barbalunga replied "No."
But, he said: "I am definitely contemplating the option of running for Berkshire County sheriff. There's no doubt that I consider the sheriff's staff to be brothers and sisters to me."
Barbalunga, who is expected to formally announce his intentions next week, worked in the Sheriff's Office for three years before working for other law enforcement agencies and becoming a probation officer.
Massimiano hasn't returned multiple calls from The Eagle since the newspaper quoted him Sunday as saying he would run for re-election. The sheriff and his wife, Linda, are vacationing in Puerto Rico, according to Darby O'Brien, the president and founder of Darby O'Brien Advertising & Public Relations, the South Hadley firm originally hired by Massimiano's campaign.
Massimiano's term expires on Jan. 5, 2011. Only five men have served as Berkshire County Sheriff since 1900.
Meanwhile, Bosley, 56, confirmed the news in which The Eagle used anonymous sources to break in Friday's editions.
"Yes, I'm in this race," Bosley, a state lawmaker since 1987, said Friday in a brief phone message to the newspaper.
In an interview with the Statehouse News Service, he touted his political skills for the sheriff's position."You need to know how budgets are constructed, what the sheriff's budget looks like," the North Adams Democrat said. "You also need to know people in Boston and in Washington, because grants are going to play a big role in continuing the programs we use to combat recidivism."
Bowler, 50, points to his 23 years as a lawman -- the bulk of which was spent with the Pittsfield Police Department -- as the type of background that would make for a good sheriff. He spent two years of his career -- from 2000 to 2002 -- working for Massimiano as assistant deputy superintendent in charge of security affairs at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction.
Barbalunga said his strengths include his 20-year background in corrections, including his tenure at the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office and stints at two different jails in the Boston area.
The probation chief also was an investigator with the State Attorney General's Office for a year and previously worked at the Berkshire County Community Corrections Center.
"Bosley says the moment is right: The state representative says he has been thinking of running for sheriff for a while."
By David Pepose, The Berkshire Eagle, 1/23/2010
PITTSFIELD -- State Rep. Daniel E. Bosley said he’s been contemplating a run for Berkshire County sheriff for some time, and a variety of factors, including the incumbent’s decision against seeking re-election, finally aligned to make it a reality.
Bosley said he hasn’t discussed his decision to enter the race with Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano Jr.
"I haven’t spoken to him much for the past three months, other than saying hello at Dick Alcombright’s inauguration," Bosley said, referring to the North Adams mayor. "I certainly am going to reach out to him shortly, because I do want to sit down and talk to him."
Bosley, who has represented the 1st Berkshire District since 1987, confirmed on Jan. 15 that he would run for sheriff in the fall.
Bosley’s decision came one day after the 65-year-old Massimiano changed his mind about seeking re-election to the position he has held since 1978. Four days earlier, Massimiano said he intended to seek re-election. Massimiano said he was withdrawing from the race due to ongoing health issues affecting both him and his wife.
Considered running for years
Bosley said he had considered the sheriff’s office for years, but stayed out of the running in deference to Massimiano.
"I had thought about this on and off for a while," Bosley said.
Two others -- Southern Berkshire District Court Probation Chief Alfred E. "Alf" Barbalunga and veteran Pittsfield Police Detective Thomas N. Bowler -- have said they are also in the race for Berkshire County sheriff.
Bosley is one of the most senior members of the Statehouse and is seen by many as the unofficial "dean" of the Berkshire legislative delegation.
"It’s hard to leave the Legislature. I’ve been there nearly a quarter of a century, but I thought it was time," said Bosley. "I haven’t been happy. I think we haven’t been working as hard as I think we could."
Reasons for leaving House
The North Adams Democrat said one of the reasons he decided to leave the House of Representatives was because the political climate had shifted following the resignation of former House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi and the rise of his successor, Robert DeLeo.
"This year I became a vice chairman," Bosley said, referring to losing his position as chairman of the Joint Committee on Economic and Developing Technologies last January. "You can’t direct what’s in committee. Š Maybe it was time for me to leave."
If Bosley is elected sheriff, he would be in for a substantial pay raise. Massimiano’s salary was $123,209 in 2008, compared to the $73,237 that Bosley received as a state representative that year.
Bosley said that if he were elected the position would bring him "back to my legislative roots," focusing on fighting substance abuse, adult basic education, rehabilitation programs, and job training.
"It’s a law enforcement position, but it’s not that the sheriff goes out and solves crimes," Bosley said. "There are people that have more public safety experience than I do, but you have to keep the jail safe and run programs that help people who are in jail, so we don’t end up housing them again."
Despite the pay bump, is the sheriff’s seat a step down for a man whose name had previously been bandied about in 2004 as a potential speaker of the House?
"It’s not really a downsizing," Bosley replied. "After 24 years in Boston, it’d be nice to work every day in the Berkshires."
"Sheriff mum as questions linger"
By Conor Berry, Berkshire Eagle Staff, January 27, 2010
PITTSFIELD -- After dodging repeated questions about his health and plans for the future, Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano Jr. has quietly returned to work amid mounting speculation that he will resign from the position he has held since 1978.
On Jan. 14, Massimiano withdrew from the 2010 sheriff's race via press release, citing his and his wife's "ongoing health issues." Those issues were not specified. Massimiano's withdrawal came four days after The Eagle published a story in which the sheriff confirmed he would run for re-election in November.
But over the past two weeks, Massimiano has not responded to multiple phone calls by The Eagle seeking comment about his health issues and his tenure as sheriff. The calls have gone to his cell phone, to the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction, and to his main Pittsfield home.
Meanwhile, no one has answered the door for an Eagle reporter at Massimiano's two Pittsfield residences on multiple occasions, and the sheriff's cell phone was disconnected Tuesday morning after being in service on Monday night.
On Tuesday, phone messages left for Massimiano, Superintendent John J. Quinn Jr. -- the second in command at the jail -- and Bob McDonough, the jail's public information officer, were not returned, although Diane M. Maynes, the sheriff's executive assistant, did confirm to The Eagle that Massimiano was "back from vacation" on Monday.
Even though the Jan. 14 press release said Massimiano would continue to run the county jail until his term expires on Jan. 4, 2011, the silence over the past two weeks has fueled public speculation about whether he intends to complete his six-year term as sheriff, whether he might resign, and who might succeed him if he does resign.
If the sheriff steps down before his term ends, the governor must appoint a replacement, according to Terrel Harris, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.
The news of Massimiano's withdrawal from the race came on the same day that veteran Pittsfield Police Detective Thomas N. Bowler announced his plans to challenge Massimiano, who last faced an opponent in 1980.
Since then, Southern Berkshire District Court Probation Chief Alfred E. "Alf" Barbalunga, a cousin of Massimiano's, has expressed interest in the sheriff's job, while state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley -- a longtime county Democrat and dean of the Berkshire legislative delegation -- has confirmed his intentions to run for sheriff.
Other potential candidates apparently are still mulling whether to enter the race, but none have publicly stated their intentions.
Even though Massimiano has withdrawn from the sheriff's race, he remains the chairman of the Pittsfield Licensing Board, which is scheduled to meet today at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall.
It remains unclear if Massimiano will attend.
"That's a good question," said Robert Quattrochi, one of three Licensing Board members. "[Massimiano] doesn't consult with me."
To reach Conor Berry: email@example.com, or (413) 496-6249.
"Sheriff says he won't resign: In a statement, Carmen C. Massimiano also elaborates on his health issues."
Berkshire Eagle Staff, January 28, 2010
PITTSFIELD -- In his first public words in 13 days, Carmen C. Massimiano Jr. said Wednesday that he would not resign as Berkshire County sheriff and that he has been dealing with "a bone marrow deficiency for the past several years."
The words came in a written statement that followed an Eagle story on Wednesday that said Massimiano had returned to work amid speculation that he would step down from the position he has held since 1978.
Despite written requests and repeated calls by The Eagle to his two Pittsfield homes, his office and his cell phone, Massimiano has not spoken with the newspaper since he said in a Jan. 10 article that he would seek re-election in November. He withdrew from the sheriff's race four days later, citing his and his wife's "ongoing health issues." Those issues were not specified.
In Wednesday's statement, Massimiano, 65, said he has no plans to leave the sheriff's position before his six-year term expires on Jan. 4, 2011.
"My [medical] condition has not and will not negatively affect my job performance," he said.
Massimiano also elaborated on his bone marrow deficiency.
"I have become increasingly dependent on blood transfusions in order to maintain my health," he said in the statement. "I receive a transfusion once every two to five weeks, though I'm currently taking medication that my doctors hope will allow me to go longer between transfusions."
The sheriff reiterated Wednesday what he said in the written statement of 13 days ago, that the rigors of the sheriff's race would have interfered with his ability to do his job.
"I couldn't do my job and run a campaign while attending to my health," he said Wednesday.
Massimiano would have faced his first challenger in a sheriff's race since 1980. He dropped out of the race one day after veteran Pittsfield Police Detective Thomas N. Bowler announced he would run against Massimiano, who would have been seeking his sixth term as sheriff.
Since Bowler's announcement, state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley has said that he'll run for the position, and Southern Berkshire District Court Probation Chief Alfred E. "Alf" Barbalunga has said he's mulling a bid.
Meanwhile, Massimiano said Wednesday that he would continue to serve as chairman of the Pittsfield Licensing Board. However, he did not attend Wednesday's meeting at City Hall because he was busy catching up with his work as sheriff following a vacation, the press release said.
Meanwhile, Massimiano said Wednesday that he would continue to serve as chairman of the Pittsfield Licensing Board. However, he did not attend Wednesday's meeting at City Hall because he was busy catching up with his work as sheriff following a vacation, the press release said.
Massimiano was back at work Monday after a vacation that started on Jan. 15. A spokesman for the sheriff said Massimiano went to Puerto Rico.
The Berkshire Eagle, Editorials, January 29, 2010
We're sympathetic to Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen Massimiano Jr.'s struggle with a bone marrow deficiency, which is the specific nature of the health issues he cited Wednesday, along with those of his wife, in deciding not to seek another term in office this November. The Eagle's repeated requests for that specific information, following speculation that the sheriff may resign, were not unreasonable given Mr. Massimiano's status as a public official, an influential one at that. Mr. Massimiano has built an imposing fiefdom over the decades, but unlike his generic equivalents in the private sector, he is answerable to the public and its representatives in the media.
The sheriff last spoke to The Eagle for a January 10 article in which he said he would run for office. Four days later, a day after a challenger emerged, he withdrew from the race, and has not gone beyond issuing press releases, with apparent reluctance, since the January 10 story. Mr. Massimiano has done some fine work as sheriff and has never been reluctant to promote it to The Eagle, which has shared those efforts with the community. However, communication between the press and public officials is a two-way street, and not solely on the public official's terms.
A race for the sheriff seat's is shaping up that will put a needed spotlight on the public position. Along with issues of crime, punishment and prevention, we expect a discussion on how the press and public can be kept better informed on the workings of this important office.
"Berkshire County Sheriff's Race: Union gives early support to Bowler"
By Conor Berry, Berkshire Eagle Staff, March 2, 2010
PITTSFIELD -- The correctional officers union at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction has thrown its support behind Pittsfield Police Detective Thomas N. Bowler to become the county's next sheriff.
Local 297 of the International Brotherhood of Correctional Officers overwhelmingly backed Bowler on Friday, when union members voted to support him to succeed Carmen C. Massimiano Jr.
The union's vote "means that the membership wants to go with Mr. Bowler, someone who is law enforcement from the outside," said Vin Morgano, president of Local 297.
Morgano, a correctional officer at the jail, said 74 of the union's 130 members turned out for Friday's vote at John F. Kennedy Hall on Tyler Street in Pittsfield.
Of the three potential sheriff candidates who asked for the union's support -- Bowler of Pittsfield, Southern Berkshire District Court Chief Alfred E. "Alf" Barbalunga of Pittsfield, and state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley of North Adams -- Bowler received 71 votes to Barbalunga's three votes. Bosley did not receive any votes.
Whoever wins the Nov. 2 election will succeed Massimiano, the county's sheriff since 1978. In January, Massimiano cited "ongoing health issues" as the reason he would not seek re-election.
"It's a good feeling knowing that, if elected sheriff of Berkshire County, the people I will lead want me there," said Bowler, acknowledging the union's support.
Bosley said he was disappointed the vote went the way it did, and that it remains his intention to work with the union and correctional officers to improve transparency if he's elected.
"There's a bigger poll that's going to be done in the primary in September, and that's the one that I'm working on," he said.
Besides Bowler, Bosley and Barbalunga, other potential candidates for sheriff include Michael W. Garvey, an assistant superintendent at the jail, William M. Palmer, and John T. Zelazo. All six men have picked up nominating papers, which were made available to potential candidates on Feb. 9.
Efforts to reach Garvey on Monday were unsuccessful, but Palmer and Zelazo confirmed that they were still mulling whether to run for sheriff.
Palmer, 54, of Pittsfield, is recently retired from the Federal Bureau of Prisons after a 28-year career in the law enforcement field.
"I feel that I have a lot to offer this community, this area, with my knowledge and experience with the prison system," said Palmer, noting that he would likely make a decision whether to run for sheriff "within the next couple of days."
Zelazo, 56, of Adams, who has made numerous unsuccessful bids for public office over the years, is a licensed beautician and real estate broker who currently provides care to his elderly mother.
Candidates must each gather 500 signatures to get on the November ballot. Those signatures first must be submitted to the local Board of Elections by April 27 before the paperwork is forwarded to Secretary of State William F. Galvin by May 25.
Just because someone picks up nominating papers doesn't necessarily mean he or she is running for office, though such a move is typically a tell-tale sign of one's possible candidacy. Bowler and Bosley are the only two candidates who have confirmed to The Eagle that they intend to run for sheriff, while Barbalunga has stated that he's strongly considering the option.
Considering all but one of the potential candidates are Democrats -- Garvey is unenrolled in a political party -- the likelihood of a Democratic primary on Sept. 14 appears inevitable. The general election is on Nov. 2.
To reach Conor Berry: firstname.lastname@example.org, or (413) 496-6249.
"Bowler, Bosley gearing up"
By Conor Berry, Berkshire Eagle Staff, April 3, 2010
PITTSFIELD -- The only candidates for sheriff who have publicly announced their intentions to run for the countywide position will officially launch their campaigns this month.
Pittsfield Police Det. Thomas N. Bowler will hold a kickoff event on April 8 at 5:30 p.m., at the ITAM Lodge in Pittsfield, while state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley plans to commence his campaign in the next few weeks.
"We'll do a kickoff and launch and everything at the same time," Bosley said Friday.
Bowler is expected to discuss his campaign objectives at the ITAM event, according to Donna Matoon, a former journalist who's handling communications for the Bowler campaign.
Bowler and Bosley -- both Democrats -- are the only confirmed candidates among a prospective field of six individuals who obtained nomination papers when they became available in February. They are vying for the position held for 32 years by Carmen C. Massimiano Jr., who in January announced he would not seek another term as Berkshire County sheriff.
Independent Michael W. Garvey and Democrats William M. Palmer, John T. Zelazzo and Alfred E. "Alf" Barbalunga also picked up nomination papers in February, but they haven't confirmed their candidacies. Brian McNiff, a spokesman for Secretary of State William F. Galvin, said individuals considering elective office typically announce their candidacies through the press.
Each candidate is required to gather 500 signatures, which must be submitted to the local Board of Elections by April 27. After signatures are verified, they must be forwarded to Galvin by May 25.
Bowler, of Pittsfield, is a veteran city police detective. He believes his law enforcement background and the support he has received from the union representing correctional officers at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction will help him be a good public servant and an effective leader.
Bosley, of North Adams, is a veteran state politician. He has previously considered running for sheriff, but he never made a bid for the position in deference to Massimiano.
If elected, Bosley said it would be like returning to his "legislative roots," allowing him to focus on adult basic education, rehabilitation programs and job training, among other issues.
Bosley, who's viewed as the "dean" of the Berkshire legislative delegation, was first elected to the Statehouse in 1987
"Chiefs to back Bowler"
Berkshire Eagle Staff, April 12, 2010
PITTSFIELD -- Sheriff's candidate Thomas N. Bowler, who has already received backing from rank-and-file correctional officers at the county jail, can soon add the county's police chiefs to his growing list of supporters.
On Tuesday, the Berkshire County Police Chiefs Association is expected to gather at the Williamstown Police Department to endorse Bowler, a veteran Pittsfield police detective. The announcement is expected to take place at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday in the office of Williamstown Police Chief Kyle J. Johnson, according to Donna Mattoon, Bowler's sister and campaign manager.
In February, Local 297 of the International Brotherhood of Correctional Officers overwhelmingly backed Bowler to succeed Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano Jr., whose term expires in January. Massimiano has been sheriff since 1978.
Bowler was the first person to challenge Massimiano since 1980, which was the only other time Massimiano faced an opponent during his 32-year tenure as sheriff. But Massimiano, citing ongoing health issues, dropped out of the race the same day Bowler announced his candidacy.
According to Vin Morgano, the president of Local 297, union members backed Bowler because they want a law enforcement "from the outside."
Morgano said only three of several potential candidates sought the union's support, including Bowler, Alfred E. "Alf" Barbalunga and Daniel E. Bosley.
Barbalunga is the probation chief for Southern Berkshire District Court, while Bosley is a well-known state representative and the unofficial dean of the county's Statehouse delegation.
Several people have taken out official nomination papers, including the aforementioned individuals. But only two -- Bowler and Bosley -- have confirmed their candidacies to The Eagle. The election will be held on Nov. 2.
Meanwhile, Mattoon said Bowler's campaign kickoff event at Pittsfield's ITAM lodge last week attracted around 600 people, including a crime victim who praised Bowler for the compassion and tenacity that he exhibited while investigating her case.
"Bowler gets DA backing: Capeless: ‘He's going to be ... great'"
By Conor Berry, Berkshire Eagle Staff, April 14, 2010
WILLIAMSTOWN -- Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless on Tuesday endorsed candidate Thomas N. Bowler for sheriff, lending another layer of support to the police detective's campaign for the countywide position.
Capeless said Bowler, a 23-year veteran of the Pittsfield Police Department, has the empathy, honesty and intellect to lead the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office.
"He's going to be a great sheriff," Capeless said Tuesday, offering his endorsement at the monthly meeting of the Berkshire County Police Chiefs Association, which was held in Williamstown.
Several leading county law enforcement officials attended the meeting at the Williams Inn, where they discussed various issues and formally endorsed Bowler.
The association made its choice for sheriff known prior to Tuesday's meeting, but the session marked the first time Capeless publicly identified his preferred candidate to succeed Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano Jr.
Massimiano has been sheriff since his appointment to the post in 1978. During that time, Massimiano had only faced one challenger, whom he defeated. Bowler was only the second person to challenge Massimiano during his 32-year tenure as sheriff.
Massimiano told The Eagle on Jan. 10 that he would seek another six-year term, but dropped out of the race four days later citing ongoing health issues. His withdrawal coincided with Bowler's entry into the race.
To date, several people have taken out nomination papers to get on the ballot for November's sheriff's election, but only two -- Bowler and state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley -- have confirmed their candidacies to The Eagle.
Bowler and Bosley are both Democrats, increasing the likelihood of a Democratic primary.
To date, no Republicans have entered the race, whose potential field includes several Democrats and one independent.
According to Capeless, part of Bowler's appeal is that "Tom speaks plainly and honestly." Capeless noted that those qualities have helped Bowler earn the respect and support of the county's law enforcement community, including the union that represents correctional officers at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction.
"He has exceptional abilities and great intelligence and common sense," Capeless said.
Lenox Police Chief Stephen E. O'Brien, speaking on behalf of the chiefs association, said Bowler's experience as a Pittsfield police officer will make him an empathetic leader.
"Tom knows what the victims of crime actually go through," O'Brien said, praising the detective for his work ethic and integrity.
"We support Tom Bowler for his quest to become the county sheriff," he said.
To reach Conor Berry: email@example.com, or (413) 496-6249.
"Bowler highlights importance of law background"
By Jennifer Huberdeau, North Adams Transcript, April 14, 2010
NORTH ADAMS -- The Berkshire County Sheriff needs to be a person with experience in law enforcement -- not a politician, according to candidate Thomas N. Bowler, a 23-year member of the Pittsfield Police Department.
"The sheriff is the chief law enforcement agent in the county. In my opinion, this is a law enforcement position. I’m not a politician -- I’m a public servant and plan to continue to be one if I’m elected sheriff," he said Tuesday morning, after receiving endorsements from Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless and the Berkshire County Police Chiefs’ Association.
Bowler, who served under Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano Jr. as the assistant deputy superintendent at the Berkshire County Jail and House of Correction from 2000 to 2002, announced his intention to run for the seat in January. This is his first political bid.
Massimiano, who was first elected to the sheriff’s office in 1978, announced in January that he will not seek re-election because of health issues.
"I was always grateful to the sheriff for the opportunity," Bowler, who has spent 19 years as a detective, said. "It was during a very transformative period at the facility -- they were moving from Second Street [in Pittsfield] to the new location on Cheshire Road [in Lanesborough]. I left because I missed the street-level investigations."
He added, "It’s always been a hope of mine to end my career as sheriff. It’s the right time."
Pointing to his experience as a police officer, Bowler said anyone taking over the position must continue to maintain successful relationships with other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.
"One reason for our success in solving violent crimes in Pittsfield is the collaborative effort and team approach we have with the district attorney’s office, the state police, and other county, state and federal-level agencies," he said.
Incorporating collaboration into every facet of the sheriff’s office is one of his major goals.
"One of the first things I would like to achieve in the jail itself is to create and develop great working relationships with the correctional officers, educational services and substance abuse workers," he said. "Once that is established, I want to network that out to collaborate effectively with other law enforcement and service agencies in the area."
Bowler received the endorsement of the correctional officers union at the jail last month.
He’s also pledging to maintain educational and rehabilitation services at the House of Correction, but doesn’t plan to increase the nearly $15 million budget, without reason, until the economy improves.
"Today, the state is in financial crisis. I think we can work within the budget we have until the state is in better financial shape," Bowler said. "The primary focus of the prison is to re-integrate the inmates into society. We can utilize the fine programs that are already in place -- education services, substance abuse programs, vocational and job training -- which are run by some very talented men and women. I don’t want to petition the state and taxpayers for funds unless they are absolutely necessary."
As a detective, the Pittsfield native has been involved in police investigations ranging from homicides to kidnappings and sexual assault cases. He also served as a member of the department’s drug unit and as an arson investigator.
Bowler is a 1978 graduate of Taconic High School. He earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 1982 from American International College in Springfield. He earned his master’s in criminal justice from the college in 1988.
He and his wife, Dayle, have four children.
Bowler is joined in the quest for the sheriff’s office by longtime state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley, D-North Adams, who also announced his intention to run for Massimiano’s seat in January. Others who have taken out nomination papers for the seat include Democrats Alfred J. Barbalunga, William M. Palmer, Shahid S. Nur and John T. Zelazo, as well as independent Michael W. Garvey, the current assistant deputy superintendent at the jail.
Candidates have until April 27 to return their papers, with the required 500 signatures from registered voters, to their local board of registrars for certification. Certified nomination papers must be filed with state Secretary William Galvin’s office in Boston by May 25. A primary, if required, would be held on Sept. 14.
To reach Jennifer Huberdeau, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alfred E. "Alf" Barbalunga. (Ben Garver)
"Barbalunga won't pursue job"
By Conor Berry, Berkshire Eagle Staff, April 27, 2010
PITTSFIELD -- He picked up nomination papers to run for sheriff and secured more than 1,400 signatures along the way. But now, Alfred E. "Alf" Barbalunga said he won't run for the countywide position held by Carmen C. Massimiano Jr. since 1978.
"We're out," said Barbalunga, the 38-year-old Southern Berkshire District Court probation chief, who came to The Eagle on Monday to announce his decision.
Although Barbalunga never formally announced his entry into the race, he and several other potential candidates took out nomination papers in February -- the first indication he was considering a run for the office.
The next step required prospective candidates to submit at least 500 unique signatures to the local Board of Election by today. After those signatures are verified, they must be forwarded to Secretary of State William F. Galvin by May 25.
By Monday morning, Barbalunga realized he couldn't wage a successful campaign for sheriff due to the fact that his employer, the Massachusetts Trial Court, would require him to take an unpaid leave of absence from his job the moment his campaign became official -- something Barbalunga simply can't afford to do, he said.
Barbalunga was widely viewed as a potential challenger to Pittsfield Police Detective Thomas N. Bowler and state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley, both of whom confirmed their candidacies in January and neither of whom is required to take leave from work to run for sheriff.
"Even though the three of us are all public employees, I am the only individual -- due to the fact I am a Trial Court public servant -- who will have to take up to a 6 1/2-month unpaid leave from my job," said Barbalunga, the son of Alfred A. Barbalunga, a retired county judge.
The probation chief said he'll now offer his support to Bosley, a veteran state lawmaker from North Adams. "I'm going to vote for [Bosley]," Barbalunga said.
Barbalunga had contemplated running for sheriff since 1991, when he first landed a part-time job as a deputy sheriff and correctional officer working for Massimiano, his first cousin once removed. But Barbalunga said he couldn't run against Massimiano "for personal reasons."
When Massimiano withdrew from the sheriff's race in January, Barbalunga saw a window of opportunity. "I was caught by surprise," he said of Massimiano's sudden withdrawal. Massimiano confirmed he would seek another six-year term just days before he dropped out of the race.
Although Barbalunga said he's disappointed "extreme economic disadvantage[s]" forced him from the race, he's looking forward to mounting a successful campaign for sheriff in 2016.
"I'm going back to the drawing board. 2016 is definitely on the horizon," he said.
To reach Conor Berry: email@example.com, or (413) 496-6249.
"Bowler will be a good sheriff"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letter to the Editor, May 4, 2010
It feels good to recognize a candidate for office that one can wholeheartedly support.
Tommy Bowler has been a contributing citizen in many ways for many years. He can be trusted, and he is intelligent and caring.
I will for vote for him for Berkshire County sheriff.
Representative Daniel E. Bosley
"Bosley Officially Launches Sheriff Campaign"
By: Campaign to Elect Dan Bosley; On: 5-9-2010
NORTH ADAMS, Massachusetts — Daniel E. Bosley will officially launch his campaign for sheriff of Berkshire County on Wednesday, May 12.
Bosley, a Democrat who has represented the 1st Berkshire District in the state Legislature since 1987, is running to fill the post being vacated by Sheriff Carmen Massimiano.
The official campaign kickoff event will be held at the American Legion beginning at 7 p.m.
Bosley said he plans to put his background in public policy, public financing and public safety to work running an effective and proactive sheriff's office and a jail that is not only secure but cost- and resource-efficient.
During his 24 years serving the 1st Berkshire District, Bosley said he has shown consistent leadership in the areas of budgeting and economic development. As sheriff, Bosley will draw on his experience to ensure the Berkshire County sheriff's office, the jail and House of Correction, and the programs run by the sheriff's office receive fair funding from the state. Additionally, he said he will bring to the office an innovative approach that will allow him to improve systems and programs, making Berkshire County a safer place to live while conserving taxpayer dollars.
He would like to thank everyone who has helped him in the past and talk about his future vision for Berkshire County sheriff and the Berkshire House of Corrections.
The public is invited to celebrate his formal kick-Off for the race for Berkshire County sheriff.
"Paths differ in the race for sheriff's post"
By Conor Berry, Berkshire Eagle Staff, May 12, 2010
PITTSFIELD -- Campaigns are familiar ground for state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley, a seasoned politician from North Adams. But for Pittsfield Police Detective Thomas N. Bowler, who's making his first bid for public office, campaigns are a whole new ballgame.
Both men are longtime public servants seeking to become the next sheriff of Berkshire County, a position that hasn't been contested since 1980. And both are Democrats who say they have the skills to succeed in the public safety position.
Only one can become sheriff, however, which is why the Sept. 14 Democratic primary is shaping up to be a high-noon standoff for the seat held by Carmen C. Massimiano Jr. since 1978.
Although Bowler and Bosley have a lot in common, they diverge when it comes to campaigning. Bowler, 50, of Pittsfield, is relying on his large, tight-knit family for support during his first political race, while Bosley, 56, of North Adams, has tapped Darby O'Brien, a well-known Pioneer Valley public relations executive, to help deliver his message to voters.
With Bowler banking on his 23 1/2 years as a lawman and Bosley drawing upon his 24 years as a lawmaker, the candidates are locked in a sheriff's race that likely will be decided well before the Nov. 2 election.
Because there are no Republicans in the race, the winner of September's Democratic primary will become the sheriff-elect. That essentially reduces the November election to a procedural affirmation of September's primary results. Write-in candidates still could emerge in the race, but conventional political wisdom suggests they would be long shots.
That's why Bowler and Bosley are rolling up their sleeves in preparation for a long, tough campaign that's expected to feature multiple debates and a multimedia onslaught by Bosley.
Bowler officially launched his campaign for sheriff in April, and Bosley will hold his kickoff event tonightat 7 at the American Legion in North Adams.
"I've used [public relation firms] in the past for bits and pieces in campaigns, but I think this is a little more comprehensive," Bosley said of his decision to hire O'Brien for this campaign.
O'Brien has gained national notoriety in the case of Phoebe Prince, the 15-year-old South Hadley student who committed suicide Jan. 14 after she was repeatedly bullied by her peers. O'Brien's support of the Prince family and criticism of South Hadley school officials have earned him national press and appearances on CNN and syndicated talk shows such as "Dr. Phil."
Bosley said he was familiar with O'Brien's work -- his advertising clients have ranged from colleges and law firms to national companies such as Hasbro, Lego and Spalding -- long before O'Brien gained exposure through the Prince case. And Bosley likes what he's seen.
"He does it right," Bosley said. "We need to grab the younger voter, and I think [O'Brien] is very good at that. He has some great ideas."
Today, working the phone banks and mailing out flyers isn't enough to get a candidate elected, according to Bosley, who will make good use of the Internet and cutting-edge technologies in his bid for sheriff. "It'll be a multimedia [campaign]," Bosley said. "There's no one answer to this."
O'Brien, in an interview with The Eagle last week, said his public relations and advertising firm does not shy away from political campaigns and causes. O'Brien cited as an example his firm's work on behalf of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s Riverkeeper organization, which is known for its efforts to clean up and protect New York's Hudson River.
O'Brien's firm originally was hired to run Massimiano's re-election campaign, but Massimiano withdrew from the race on Jan. 14, the day after Bowler announced his candidacy and became Massimiano's first challenger in 30 years. Massimiano has cited health issues among the reasons for not seeking re-election after 32 years as sheriff.
A family affair
For his part, Bowler has enlisted his sister, Donna Mattoon, to be his campaign manager. Mattoon is a former Berkshire Eagle reporter who went on to work in public relations before starting her own Pittsfield-based firm, Mattoon Communications. But Bowler is quick to point out that his entire family is involved in the campaign, from his wife, Dayle, to his four children, six siblings, and many nieces and nephews.
Bowler's sister, Mary Murphy, is campaign treasurer, while his niece, Maura Mattoon, is in charge of the social-networking aspect of the campaign, which included establishing a Facebook page for her uncle. Dayle Bowler, meanwhile, is playing an all-purpose role as the campaign's chief cook and bottle washer.
"She's a big part of my moral support network," Thomas Bowler said.
Because it's been 32 years since someone last became sheriff, Bosley said a key campaign goal will be to educate people about the sheriff's duties and role in public safety. And Bosley said he'll rely on O'Brien to help convey to voters why Bosley thinks he's the best man for the job.
"You need somebody to deliver a consistent message," Bosley said of O'Brien.
The sheriff's public safety role is not solely a crime-and-punishment role, Bosley said. It's also about education and rehabilitation.
"If you take a look at what sheriffs are doing in Massachusetts -- three-quarters of whom, I might point out, were not police officers -- they're talking about rehabilitation and re-entry [for criminals]. How do we keep people from re-offending?" Bosley said.
The veteran state representative, a top ally of former Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, said his background in public policy, public financing and public safety would help him run a cost- and resource-efficient sheriff's office, which includes administration of the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction.
‘A balancing act'
Bosley said a sheriff must wear many hats, including those of a social worker, capital planner and budget analyst. And, he added, his background as a state lawmaker familiar with spending plans puts him in a good position to oversee the $16 million budget for the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office. The office typically receives a few more million in grant money each year, he said.
"It's really a balancing act of knowing where money comes from and who provides that money," Bosley said.
Meanwhile, Bowler said he'll continue to focus on building on the support he has already received, including endorsements from Berkshire County District Attorney David F. Capeless, the Berkshire County Police Chiefs Association, and the union representing correctional officers at the county jail.
"One thing that's actually been keeping us going as well is the overwhelming support, enthusiasm and energy that we've received from supporters," said Bowler, who already has canvassed for votes in Pittsfield, North County and South County and plans more field work.
"The sheriff is the top law enforcement official in the county. He has the obligation and the opportunity to lead," Bowler said. "Who better to do that than a law enforcement professional who's been doing just that for the past 24 years? Everything I've done has led to me here."
Bowler said he won't waiver from his primary objective: "to increase the safety of our communities and the quality of life that we all cherish by reducing the number of offenders living among us."
"Bowler will be an excellent sheriff"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letter to the Editor, May 14, 2010
Over the last month I have had the opportunity to attend several events hosted by Tom Bowler, candidate for the next sheriff of Berkshire County. It was at these events that the excitement and energy among the hundreds in attendance was almost palpable.
It is evident that Tom Bowler's following is rapidly gaining strength and the number of enthusiastic supporters continues to grow. Those of us in the county that know Tom can say with confidence that his campaign slogan: Integrity. His experience is spot on. These two words, integrity and experience, will serve as the basis of Tom's campaign and these two words will inevitably stand as the foundation of Tom's tenure as the next sheriff of Berkshire County.
For those of you that don't yet know Tom, I implore you to take advantage of every opportunity to meet him, talk with him, and listen to his message. After doing so, I'm sure you will agree; Tom Bowler is an outstanding candidate for sheriff, and Tom Bowler will be an excellent sheriff.
Tom's dedicated and successful service as a Pittsfield police detective has given him the opportunity to work with many different agencies and departments throughout the county in an effort to make our community a safer place to live. As proof of Tom's competence, sincerity, and professional ability, the Berkshire County district attorney and the local police chiefs have publicly announced their support of Tom as a candidate. Prior to that, the local International Brotherhood of Correctional Officers 297 voted 97 percent in favor of endorsing Tom as a candidate for sheriff. There is simply no greater compliment to one's character than to have earned the respect and support of one's peers, colleagues, and professional acquaintances.
In less than four months, on Sept. 14, the citizens of Berkshire County will decide in the democratic primary which candidate will be the next sheriff of Berkshire County. As a proud member of the local IBCO 297, as a father raising a young family, and as a concerned citizen of Berkshire County, I will undoubtedly cast my vote for Tom Bowler. As the next few months progress and Tom indomitably heads down the campaign trail, I hope more and more voters of Berkshire County fall in behind him and join us in cheering: Tom Bowler for sheriff!
IAN C. TAYLOR
"State probation commissioner is suspended"
The Berkshire Eagle, Staff and wire reports, May 25, 2010
BOSTON -- Massachusetts Probation Commissioner John O'Brien was suspended Monday and an investigation was begun into his agency's hiring and promotion of probation officers.
Chief Justice Margaret Marshall and Chief Justice for Admini-stration and Management Robert Mulligan said in a joint statement that they were deeply concerned about published reports about management practices within the Probation Department.
They said O'Brien has been placed on administrative leave, effective immediately.
A message left at the Probation Department seeking comment from O'Brien was not immediately returned.
O'Brien's hiring practices have been the subject of front-page stories in The Boston Globe, which detailed what it said was an agency where patronage was rampant and where political contributions helped advance careers.
"We are deeply concerned with not only the proper administration of the Probation Department, but with how such reports may affect the public's perception of the integrity of all aspects of the judicial branch," the top justices wrote.
One of the officials named in the Globe's report on patronage in the Probation Department was Alfred E. "Alf" Barbalunga, South Berkshire District Court's chief probation officer.
The Globe said Barbalunga's father, the retired judge Alfred A. Barbalunga, is friendly with O'Brien, and that the younger Barbalunga went unscathed after a 1999 investigation for poor job performance as a probation officer in North Adams, which included complaints he wasn't always showing up for work. A judge recommended Barbalunga be fired and another pushed for a reprimand, but in the end he received no discipline.
Three years later, in 2002, O'Brien promoted Barbalunga to chief probation officer at the South Berkshire District Court.
When contacted by The Eagle on Monday, Barbalunga said that, due to a mandate from the Probation Department issued last Thursday, he could not comment without authorization from the department.
The Globe reported that Barbalunga said his work ethic as a probation officer in North Adams was not the central part of the investigation. "That was a very unfortunate time," Barbalunga told The Globe. "I think I've done an outstanding job."
Barbalunga mulled a run for Berkshire County sheriff, but formally ended his candidacy last month and threw his backing to Daniel E. Bosley, who is running for the job.
Bosley, the state representative from North Adams, called the allegations against Barbalunga "harsh."
"There's a lot of good people in the probation system and unfortunately everybody gets smeared with the same broad brush when you start to point fingers," said Bosley, the North Adams Democratic.
"[Barbalunga] was never disciplined, was never removed, and granted a transfer he had requested a year after that, and actually was promoted," Bosley said. "It's not a question about cronyism, it's about how you do the job -- I thought it was incredibly harsh, it was a real stretch."
Also Monday, all seven justices of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court signed an order calling for "a prompt and thorough administrative inquiry into alleged improprieties with respect to the hiring and promotion of employees within the Probation Department as well as other practices and management decisions within the Probation Department."
The court appointed Paul Ware, an attorney with the Boston law firm of Goodwin Procter, to conduct the inquiry and report back to the court within 90 days.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Martha Coakley said that she is staying out of the Probation Department investigation for now.
"We anticipate that should Mr. Ware encounter matters that warrant review or investigation by the Attorney General's office, he will refer them to our office," Coakley said in a statement.
The justices appointed Ronald Corbett, executive director of the Supreme Judicial Court and the former deputy commissioner of probation, as acting administrator of the Probation Department to replace O'Brien.
The brewing storm at the Probation Department could alter the governor's race because of O'Brien's connections to independent gubernatorial candidate Timothy Cahill.
Cahill said Monday that O'Brien has supported his political career in their hometown of Quincy, but that neither influenced Cahill's decision to hire O'Brien's wife, Laurie, and one of the couple's daughters.
Two of Cahill's contenders for the governor's office, incumbent Democrat Deval Patrick and Republican gubernatorial candidate Charles Baker both called on Coakley to investigate.
State Rep. Christopher N. Speranzo, D-Pittsfield, who serves as vice chairman for the Joint Committee on Judiciary, said he felt the allegations were "troubling."
While Speranzo said he couldn't speculate over specific cases, he said the state's response would send a message to the Probation Department and taxpayers.
"They've made it very clear they're going to investigate the management of this agency," Speranzo said. "They wouldn't have moved this quickly if there wasn't changes that needed to be made."
Bosley said he'd like to bring probation under the auspice of sheriffs. "There's a need to have one seamless system that starts at the House of Corrections," Bosley said. With the sheriff and courts pooling their efforts, he said "you would get rid of some of the cronyism."
"It's not about the jobs, it's about the function," Bosley said. "We need to look past who runs the thing and look at what the function of the job is because there are a lot of good people out here."
The Berkshire Eagle, Editorial, May 25, 2010
The state's Probation Department has been exposed as a cesspool of patronage and nepotism, a situation that didn't evolve overnight. The Legislature and the judiciary share responsibility, and while the Probation Department's abuses may be unique in their magnitude, they are not unique to Massachusetts government.
A Boston Globe Spotlight story Sunday linked Probation Commissioner John J. "Jack" O'Brien to at least 250 jobs held by friends, relatives or financial backers of politicians and high court officials. Included was Alfred E. Barbalunga, whose promotion to chief probation officer in Southern Berkshire despite a poor job record as a Northern Berkshire probation officer, said The Globe, may have resulted from Mr. O'Brien's friendship with Mr. Barbalunga's father, a Pittsfield judge. Mr. Barbalunga denied the allegations.
Nine years ago, the Legislature removed the Probation Department from its control to that of the judiciary, where oversight was evidently non-existent. Shedding oversight responsibilities enabled the Legislature to seek patronage appointments while regularly fattening the department's budget. Governor Patrick and Republican gubernatorial candidate Charles Baker Monday asked the attorney general to review the department, with the governor urging the Legislature to pass a bill he offered in January to shift its oversight from the judiciary to the executive branch. That bill should be passed expeditiously.
State treasurer and independent gubernatorial candidate Tim Cahill, who hired Mr. O'Brien's wife and daughter, took a "patronage happens" approach and accused the governor of playing politics. Patronage, fat salaries and huge pensions are indeed not uncommon in state government. That should outrage elected officials as it does taxpayers, who will be watching to see if the Probation Department is overhauled or given a touch-up in hope the scandal will eventually blow over.
"Bowler will bring integrity to office"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letter to the Editor, May 27, 2010
In light of the recent probe into Massachusetts Probation Department concerning management practices it is easy to come to the conclusion that Thomas Bowler is the clear choice to become the next sheriff of Berkshire County.
The article that headlined the Eagle on Tuesday, May 25 concerning the Probation Department smacks of greed, corruption and arrogance. It is all rather a nasty business, with those who had wanted to run for sheriff and those who are now running for sheriff speaking up for each other and covering each other’s tracks. Rep. Bosley says "It’s not a question about cronyism, it’s about how you do the job." Well obviously, if Mr. Barbalunga was investigated for poor job performance, there must of been some kind of reason for it. Recommendations of dismissal or reprimand are serious and is it really surprising that "he received no discipline."
At the end of the article Rep. Bosley goes says that it is his desire to bring the probation department under the umbrella of the sheriff’s department. With the sheriff’s department and courts pooling their efforts, "you would get rid of some of the cronyism." Well is there cronyism or isn’t there? It is a very nice package all tied up with a nice neat bow. Bosley vouching for Barbalunga and Barbalunga backing Bosley.
I for one am tired of being the last one to know how my country is run. I am tired of watching my family and neighbors struggle with jobs and the economy, all the while right in my back yard the fat cats have migrated to the Berkshires. I know that I will do my part come September. I will not be voting for Dan Bosley for sheriff, I will be voting for Tom Bowler.
I believe that he has integrity and will not dip into the well of cronyism or nepotism. I believe that he will step up and do his job honestly and keep the people’s best interests in his heart.
"Bosley calls for weekly debates"
The North Adams Transcript, June 3, 2010
NORTH ADAMS -- Daniel E. Bosley, a candidate for Berkshire County sheriff, is calling for weekly debates in the race for Berkshire County sheriff.
Daniel Bosley, the Democrat state representative who is leaving the Legislature after 24 years, is seeking an ongoing series of debates throughout Berkshire County. Bosley and Thomas N. Bowler, a Pittsfield police detective, are squaring off for the Democratic nomination for sheriff. Without a Republican in the race, the winner in the Sept. 14 primary election will be the next sheriff.
"It has been 32 years since this has been a contested position," Bosley said in a news release. "We need to engage in our understanding of what the functions of the sheriff's duties are, and we need to let people know, not just our hopes of how we can improve the quality of life in Berkshire County by making our communities safer while saving money, but our backgrounds, abilities, creative ideas, and whether we bring an ability to do all aspects of this complex job."
Bosley said he is hoping that his opponent agrees and that media or local groups will assist in setting up forums throughout the summer.
Additionally, the Bosley camp announced that the campaign's website is up at danbosley.com and the campaign has a Facebook page.
"We need a sheriff, not a debater"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letter to the Editor, June 7, 2010
Dan Bosley wants 15 debates before the September sheriff’s primary. Of course he does! He’s had 24 years in Boston, more than enough time to perfect the glib, slick style of a professional pol. Twenty-four years experience with other pols, lobbyists, big contributors and the like will more than likely give him an advantage in the public speaking arena.
Meanwhile, his opponent, Tom Bowler has spent the last 24 years investigating and solving crime in our community. Twenty-four years of protecting and serving the people. Twenty-four years to learn all aspects of the criminal justice system.
We do not need a smooth-talking sheriff. We need a sheriff with experience, integrity and the ability to do the job from day one. We need Tom Bowler as our next sheriff.
JEFFREY D. WHITEHOUSE
"Sheriff candidates square off in debate"
By David Pepose, New England Newspapers: The Berkshire Eagle & The North Adams Transcript, June 18, 2010
WILLIAMSTOWN -- The two candidates for Berkshire County sheriff squared off in one of their first public debates Wednesday, as state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley weighed his political leadership against veteran Pittsfield Police Detective Thomas N. Bowler’s law enforcement training.
The candidates had previously spoken together while meeting with the International Union of Electricians and the Communication Workers of America in May, but this forum was one of the first opportunities for them to take questions from the general public.
Many of the questions asked by the three dozen in attendance at Town Hall stemmed from the philosophical and occupational divide between Bowler’s history as a veteran detective and Bosley’s role as a longtime politician.
"I think it’s important to have someone who understands how budgets are done," Bosley said.
The sheriff’s department needs to be more than just a line item on the Massachusetts state budget, he said.
"I think it’s important to know people in Boston and Washington, because that’s where the money comes from," said the North Adams state representative.
Bowler served as an assistant department superintendent under outgoing Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano Jr. from 2000 to 2002. He described the sheriff’s department as a rank-and-file "paramilitary organization" that could work with law enforcement officials countywide.
Citing his experience investigating "horrific" crimes on the streets of Pittsfield, Bowler said that he could tap into a wealth of information gleaned from the inmates at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction.
"The same kind of people who are inside those walls are also on the outside, and the information flows freely between them," Bowler said. "I firmly believe in utilizing that information ... to work on a team approach [with law enforcement] to make this into a better community."
Bosley discussed the necessary roles that both public safety and prisoner rehabilitation play in the sheriff’s department.
"If we want to be safe, be secure and to save money, we have to make sure people don’t re-offend," he said.
One audience member asked about the role of sheriff as social worker.
"Not everyone in there are bad people -- they’ve just made bad decisions," Bowler said. "The focus is to re-enter these people into the community, having them leave as better people than when they came in."
Bosley agreed: "75 percent of people who are sheriffs right now weren’t police officers -- some were social workers," he said, adding "on the first day [prisoners] come in, you need to start working on the day they’ll leave."
One area where the two disagreed was on the level of rehabilitation given to prisoners, and if they felt it was necessary for taxpayers to provide more programming.
Bowler said that "the services we provide now are adequate."
Bosley disagreed: "I think we need to do more -- but I think we can do more with the same amount of money," he said, adding that by applying for federal grants and alternative funding streams, the sheriff’s department could find new means of rehabilitating prisoners.
When asked about their management styles, Bowler said he subscribed to the following philosophy: "Being fair, being firm and they also need to know who’s in charge."
"Not enough people in public office have enough self-confidence to delegate," Bosley replied. "No one person has an answer for everything, no one person can be an expert on everything ... when you have a paramilitary organization like this, you have to let people do their jobs."
"Bowler takes police leave while campaigning: He volunteers to step down while he runs for sheriff."
By Conor Berry, Berkshire Eagle Staff, June 18, 2010
PITTSFIELD -- Detective Thomas N. Bowler has agreed to take a leave of absence from the Pittsfield Police Department while he campaigns to become the next sheriff of Berkshire County.
"Detective Bowler is voluntarily taking earned time," said Richard M. Dohoney, the city's attorney.
After discussing the matter with city officials, Bowler decided last week to step down from his daily duties while he runs for sheriff, according to Donna Mattoon, Bowler's campaign manager.
"The city of Pittsfield clearly articulated that they have the power to require a leave of absence while Tom campaigned," Mattoon said. "Tom discussed the matter with his attorney, David W. Murphy Jr., of Pittsfield, and attorneys with the International Brotherhood of Police Officers in Springfield, and they confirmed that the city had the discretion to require him to take a leave of absence."
Dohoney emphasized that the veteran police officer made the decision on his own.
"No one has compelled Detective Bowler to take a leave. There was a long-standing conversation between Police Department officials and Detective Bowler," Dohoney said.
"I think Detective Bowler acted in the best interest of the Pittsfield Police Department. The city believes his actions are appropriate and they are appreciated," the attorney added.
"Police work and politics do not mix," said Dohoney, citing the "inherent conflict of interest" when a public employee runs for political office. And there's ample case law to support that point, he added.
Bowler's challenger in the race for sheriff is state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley, who opted to run for the countywide position rather than seek re-election to the legislative seat he's held since 1987. Bowler and Bosley are both Democrats.
Mattoon said Bowler and city officials signed an agreement last Friday. If Bowler loses to Bosley, he's eligible to return to work as a Pittsfield police officer on Sept. 15, the day after the Democratic primary.
To reach Conor Berry: firstname.lastname@example.org, or (413) 496-6249.
"Bowler brings experience to tough job"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letter to the Editor, June 23, 2010
Tom Bowler has worked for more than 21 years as a detective for the Pittsfield Police Department. He has a Masters Degree in criminal justice. Detective Bowler has worked on and helped solve some of the most heinous crimes in Berkshire County -- murders, rapes, violent crimes against children, drug and gang violence. Tom Bowler knows criminals and their families, he also knows the victims and their families. Detective Bowler's experience helping, counseling, and arresting criminals in Berkshire County is exemplary.
In 2000 he was hired as the assistant deputy superintendent in charge of security for the Berkshire County sheriff's department. His primary duty was to oversee and manage the transition from the old jail and house of corrections to the new state-of-the-art facility on Cheshire Road. This was the most stressful and difficult time for both the officers and inmates. He was in charge of over 150 corrections officers and all security issues.
At the old facility a staff of approximately 50-60 corrections officers and supervisors tried to control approximately 250 inmates in a 125-year-old jail. There were very few rules and it was chaotic at best. The new facility would have three times the staff and be able to hold double the inmates. Due to the layout of the building and pod design, officers would have more control and there would be a lot more rules. The new facility has cameras everywhere and inmate and officer actions are now recorded and monitored. Tom Bowler did what he was hired to do, he took the department through a very difficult transition. Those same employees, the 150 corrections officers he led, are unanimously supporting him now. We know Tom is a fair, compassionate, and experienced leader who will support us and keep the staff and inmates safe.
With Tom you know what you get -- an experienced detective who knows both criminals and victims well. An experienced leader who has already worked at the facility for two years during the most difficult time in the department's history. This is why he has the unanimous support of the employees, Berkshire County district attorney's Office and all of the Berkshire County police departments.
Experience. Integrity. Leadership. Compassion. Vote Tom Bowler for sheriff on Sept. 14.
The writer is a correction officer, Berkshire County sheriff's office.
Candidate Tom Bowler’s signs can be seen dotting the lawns up and down the streets of Pittsfield. Bosley said he favors debates over placing signs. (Caroline Bonnivier Snyder / Berkshire Eagle Staff)
"Signs of things to come"
By Conor Berry, Berkshire Eagle Staff, July 2, 2010
If the race for Berkshire County sheriff comes down to which candidate has more lawn signs, Tom Bowler is clearly winning the ground war.
No matter where you look, from Sheffield to Savoy, you're bound to see a "Bowler for Sheriff" sign planted in the ground. They're even sprouting from lawns in North Berkshire, the stomping ground of Dan Bosley, the longtime state lawmaker locked in a two-way race against Bowler, a veteran Pittsfield police officer.
Bowler and Bosley, both Democrats, will square off in a Sept. 14 primary, the winner of which will likely become the county's next sheriff -- barring a successful last-minute write-in campaign from a political heavyweight.
"It's very humbling. It's overwhelming," Bowler said of the signs of support dotting the county's landscape. "And obviously, when you see these things, it gives you a great deal of encouragement."
The lawn signs are going like hot cakes, according to Donna Mattoon, Bowler's campaign manager.
"They're contacting us. Every day I come into the office and go through a long list of messages from people who want signs," she said.
The Bowler camp has large stockpiles of signs in garages throughout the county. Whenever someone inquires about displaying one, a campaign volunteer from that section of the Berkshires quickly delivers a sign.
"We have a very well-organized team of volunteers -- from North Berkshire all the way through South Berkshire -- and that's how a campaign of this magnitude gets done," Mattoon said. "You can't do it without a lot of people on your side, working for you."
Bosley hasn't made campaign signs a priority at this point in the race.
"It's a little early for lawn signs," he said, noting that Florida, where much of the Bosley clan resides, is currently the only place you'll see signs for "Sheriff Bosley."
"I'd much rather be debating him, but he'd rather put up signs," Bosley said of Bowler, who rebuffed Bosley's call for weekly debates leading up to the Democratic primary.
First-time candidate Bowler, who remains focused on getting his name out there, said such frequent face-to-face encounters are unnecessary and would be unprecedented. He instead favors holding two debates before the September primary.
As the campaign progresses, the candidates have tried different tactics -- some traditional and some not so traditional. Seasoned campaigner Bosley is banking on a Pioneer Valley public relations firm to help re-brand his political image.
The North Adams lawmaker, perennially mentioned as a potential candidate for House speaker during his long career, is optimistic Darby O'Brien Advertising and Public Relations can assist with the image makeover. We're not talking about an overhaul involving a new look and wardrobe, mind you.
Rather, Darby O'Brien -- the creative force behind the South Hadley PR firm -- is focusing on one of Bosley's most identifiable features: his beard.
These days, Bosley is all about celebrating his beard, images of which are emblazoned on Bosley campaign paraphernalia. O'Brien's branding campaign is an attempt to create a Bosley brand, so to speak, humanizing the Beacon Hill Democrat in the process.
"It's just getting people to identify you in some manner. You're just trying to brand yourself," said Bosley, referring to campaign T-shirts, stickers and pins featuring his bushy beard and eyebrows.
"It is fun," Bosley said, "And the beard is readily identifiable."
His campaign website (www.danbosley.com) includes such features as "The Trustworthiness of Beards" -- a humorous "trust" scale that suggests the bearded are more trustworthy than the unbearded. (Bowler is clean-shaven.) There's also a profile titled "The Man Behind the Beard," listing Bosley's accomplishments as a public servant.
"I've been winning elections since I was very, very young and I've always had a beard," said Bosley, a representative since 1987.
The website is a clearinghouse for all things Bosley. It's hip and deliberately offbeat -- hallmarks of O'Brien's handiwork -- from its choice of colors to its choice of content.
"I think the reason for [hiring] Darby O'Brien was to do things professionally," Bosley said. "We tried to do something that would drive people back to the website."
Bosley issued a $5,000 check to O'Brien for "website design," according to campaign finance reports filed with the state last month.
O'Brien is known throughout the Pioneer Valley and beyond for unconventional multimedia marketing crusades, including viral and guerrilla campaigns that meld sharp humor with hard facts. "We don't dumb down the message," O'Brien states on his website.
Just because Bosley has embraced the latest modes of communication for this race (he also has a Facebook page) doesn't mean he's abandoned more traditional tactics.
"I'm out every night," he said, adding that he regularly meets with supporters, attends campaign events, and addresses community groups to disseminate his message.
Bowler, who recently took a leave of absence from the Pittsfield Police Department to avoid a conflict of interest while running for sheriff, also has embraced the Internet (www.tombowlerforsheriff.com) and social networking sites such as Facebook. But his campaign is still more focused on door-to-door, face-to-face encounters with the electorate.
"That's grassroots campaigning -- going out and meeting the people," said Bowler, a 23-year member of the Pittsfield Police Department who briefly served as an assistant deputy superintendent for the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office.
State campaign finance records for June listed Bowler's war chest at around $27,600, while Bosley's campaign balance had fallen below $1,000 as of June 17.
From June 1 to June 15, Bosley had more than $6,300 in his account. During that two-week period, however, he brought in receipts of $1,200 but spent around $6,700, leaving him with a balance of $838 by June 17 -- the most recent date for which data was available.
During that same period, Bowler's beginning balance was about $22,700, with receipts of around $5,800. After spending just $900, his June 17 balance was $27,600.
Bowler so far has spent around $2,500 on newspaper advertisements. Bosley has spent around $1,200 for local radio spots.
To reach Conor Berry: email@example.com, or (413) 496-6249.
"Bosley proposes building regional lockup facility"
By Trevor Jones, New England Newspapers: The Berkshire Eagle & The North Adams Transcript, July 9, 2010
PITTSFIELD -- State Rep. Daniel E. Bosley wants a regional lockup facility built to aid smaller towns in the county, despite the failure of similar efforts for more than a decade.
Bosley, a North Adams Democrat and candidate for Berkshire County sheriff, would like to see the facility built on the grounds of the Berkshire County House of Corrections, providing lockup space for persons arrested and being held by municipal and state police departments.
"It would make sense for us to do something locally with a regional lockup instead of every community having do deal with their own pick ups, their own arrests," said Bosley, adding he didn’t know what the cost of building such a facility would be.
Currently, communities with more than 5,000 residents are required to have their own lockup facilities, while smaller towns can transfer people to the sheriff’s custody.
Bosley said his familiarity with the state Legislature and his experience on the Bonding and Capital Assets Committee would aid in garnering funds for a new facility, while putting it on the House of Corrections property would save money, too.
Bosley’s opponent in the race and fellow Democrat, Thomas N. Bowler, questioned the timing of such a request.
"Everyone realizes that having a facility, a regional lockup, would be a great resource," said Bowler, a veteran of the Pittsfield Police Department. "Due to the serious budget cuts that the jail has taken over the last couple years and the economic crunch that the state is in, I think at this particular time it would be economically irresponsible to build a new facility."
Bowler said he would instead like to see more collaborative efforts between the Sheriff’s Department and other local departments to find savings within the current financial parameters.
Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano Jr., who has not publicly supported either candidate and is not seeking re-election, has been a proponent of a regional lockup for years. When the House of Corrections was completed in 2000, Massimiano wanted to have the then-vacant Second Street facility, now used as the Juvenile Resource Center, converted into a regional lockup.
"It makes a great deal of sense," Massimiano said. "But we have never been able to get funding for that, and it comes down to funding."
Massimiano said operating a facility could prove difficult as well, given that his department has had $2 million cut from its budget in the past two years.
"You can’t expand services and not expand the ability to pay for those services," he said. "I don’t even have the money that is necessary to do what we have now, and no matter what anyone says, it would require an increase in finances simply because you increase the staff."
Local police chiefs said a regional facility, if fiscally viable, would aid towns by cutting back on the manpower, transportation and overtime costs currently attached to holding individuals.
Paying for the operation of the facility, Bosley said, would likely mean creating a per diem or predetermined rate for towns that transfer those being held, much in the same way it is done in other parts of the state.
"You don’t have to reinvent the wheel on this to cut down on costs," Bosley said.
Transportation would be another issue, and Bosley said he would prefer the Sheriff’s Department pick up any prisoners because of its expertise in dealing with these situations.
Although previous efforts to create a regional facility have failed, Bosley said now is different because of the state Department of Correction’s push for regionalization efforts.
"The time might be right to take a look at trying to piggyback on what ever DOC is doing," he said.
"Sheriff: Support of candidates OK as individuals"
By Conor Berry, Berkshire Eagle Staff, July 15, 2010
PITTSFIELD -- Carmen C. Massimiano Jr., the county's outgoing sheriff, issued a "clarification" earlier this week, stating that employees of the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office are free to support whomever they want in the upcoming sheriff's race. But they cannot offer that support in their official capacities as employees of his office.
The release, issued by Massimiano's spokesman Bob McDonough late Monday afternoon, states: "Sheriff Massimiano, who is stepping down at the end of his current term after 32 years in office, has reminded Sheriff's Office staff that while they are free to participate in campaigns, they do so as individuals and must not represent themselves as campaigning in any official capacity."
The release was issued to the media after Massimiano heard "from several county residents," all of whom said they were approached by "workers for the Thomas Bowler campaign who claimed to be representing the Sheriff's Office."
According to the statement, "at least one resident reported feeling she was being intimidated into posting a Bowler campaign sign on her property."
McDonough, in a brief interview with The Eagle on Wednesday, clarified the sheriff's clarification, noting that Massimiano wasn't directly contacted by "several county residents," but rather had heard about their complaints through other parties. McDonough did not specify who reported the information to Massimiano.
"They were just reports that the sheriff received," said McDonough, adding that he had no information about the woman who allegedly felt intimidated. "I don't have a name for her," he said.
A spokeswoman for Bowler, who's locked in a two-way race for sheriff against fellow Democrat Daniel Bosley, a veteran state lawmaker, called Massimiano's statement "ridiculous."
"This is a non-issue as far as I can see," said Donna Mattoon, Bowler's campaign manager.
No one has contacted the Bowler campaign to complain, according to Mattoon.
"This press release looks ridiculous," Mattoon said Tuesday, adding that it read more like an office memo to the sheriff's employees than a news release.
Mattoon said she would like the woman who felt intimidated into accepting a Bowler lawn sign to contact the Bowler campaign.
"We haven't heard anything about this," she said.
If anyone claiming to represent Bowler did engage in inappropriate behavior, "I'd like to know about it, because intimidation is the last thing I'd associate with the Bowler campaign," Mattoon said.
She said people continue to clamor for Bowler support signs, which dot the county's landscape.
"We ordered 5,000 lawn signs, and we're close to being out," Mattoon said. "We don't have to force anybody to take one of our signs. They call us."
Massimiano isn't accusing the Bowler campaign of any improprieties, according to his spokesman.
"We're not saying the Bowler campaign is behind this," McDonough said. "We're just saying that people who support him are being zealous beyond propriety."
Bowler could not immediately be reached for comment. His father-in-law, Richard M. Klemansky, died on Tuesday and he and his wife, Dayle, were busy making funeral arrangements.
"I want people to understand that no one is putting up signs on behalf of the Sheriff's Office," Massimiano said in the statement. "If you have been told that this office wants you to post a sign -- for either candidate -- please call and let me know. The situation will be taken care of."
The Bowler campaign has received strong public support from the union representing many employees of the sheriff's office.
Local 297 of the International Brotherhood of Correctional Officers overwhelmingly voted in March to endorse Bowler to succeed Massimiano as sheriff.
Of the three sheriff candidates who had requested support from the union -- Bowler of Pittsfield, Bosley of North Adams, and Southern Berkshire District Court Chief Alfred E. "Alf" Barbalunga of Pittsfield, who later backed out of the race -- 71 votes were cast for Bowler and three were cast for Barbalunga. Bosley didn't receive any votes.
To reach Conor Berry: firstname.lastname@example.org; (413) 496-6249.
"State police to endorse Bosley"
By Conor Berry, Berkshire Eagle Staff, July 15, 2010
PITTSFIELD -- As sheriff candidate Tom Bowler continues to rack up support from unions and other organizations, his challenger, Dan Bosley, is set to receive his first formal endorsement of the political season at 3 p.m. today in Pittsfield.
That's when the veteran state lawmaker will officially be endorsed by the State Police Association of Massachusetts (SPAM) -- the union representing Massachusetts State Police troopers.
"They know me, and I'm humbled by their support," Bosley said of SPAM, adding that he's worked well with state troopers over the years.
The event will be held outside of the Juvenile Resource Center on Second Street. The center, a collaboration of the Sheriff's Office and Pittsfield School Department, was formed by Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano Jr. in 2002 to provide programs for youths at risk of not graduating high school.
Bosley, who's represented the First Berkshire District in the House of Representatives since 1987, said he's worked with the Massachusetts State Police on a number of key issues, including the Move Over bill that's now a state law.
Aimed at increasing police officers' safety, the Move Over law requires motorists to shift lanes away from a police cruiser that's stopped along a highway while issuing a traffic ticket, for example. Under the law, drivers must slow down if they cannot move over.
"Representative Bosley understands the value of a strong working relationship between the Sheriff's Office and the State Police in the effort to better protect the residents of Western Massachusetts," Ed Hunter, SPAM's secretary, said in a statement Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Bowler, a veteran Pittsfield police officer, recently landed the support of Local 447 of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers and Local 228 and Local 230 of the National Association of Government Employees, which represent court officers and associate court officers, respectively.
Bowler's other recent endorsements include backing from the Central Berkshire Labor Council and Local 98 of the International Union of Operating Engineers. This support follows earlier endorsements by Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless, the Berkshire County Police Chiefs Association, and Local 297 of the International Brotherhood of Correctional Officers, whose membership includes employees of the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction -- the very facility Bowler hopes to run as sheriff.
To reach Conor Berry: email@example.com, or (413) 496-6249.
"Sheriff's Race: Candidates differ on need for lockup"
By David Pepose, Berkshire Eagle Staff, July 20, 2010
PITTSFIELD -- State Rep. Daniel E. Bosley, a Berkshire County sheriff's candidate, pushed back against his critics on Monday, saying that the establishment of a regional lockup facility would "put more officers back on the streets."
"If you have six or seven communities on a Friday night that each lock somebody up for whatever reason, you have six officers that are watching prisoners in six or seven different communities," said Bosley, a Democrat from North Adams. "That costs money, so why not transfer them to one facility and let correctional officers that are trained to do this handle it?"
After Bosley advocated for the measure early last week, both his opponent -- veteran Pittsfield Police Detective Thomas N. Bowler -- and outgoing Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano Jr. questioned the financial feasibility of building a regional lockup, saying that a second facility would require more funding than was available.
"You can't expand services and not expand the ability to pay for those services," Massimiano, a longtime proponent of a second facility, told The Eagle last week. "I don't even have the money that is necessary to do what we have now, and no matter what anyone says, it would require an increase in finances simply because you increase the staff."
Yet after Bowler and Massimiano's statements, Bosley shot back, pointing to the regional lockup facility in Hampshire County as a working example.
"It cost $2.3 million to build and they charged 92 cents, less than a dollar per capita," Bosley said. "They go down and pick the prisoners up at whatever town it is. The sheriff's department transports them, feeds them, takes care of their medical needs and watches them."
In addition to saving on personnel hours, food and medicine, and transportation costs, as well as reducing town liability on the safety of the prisoners, Bosley said he envisioned "overbuilding" a new facility that would incorporate video arraignments -- a procedure he said would cut transportation and court costs.
Bosley added that his background as a vice chairman of the Committee on Bonding and Capital Expenditures could help push a new facility through with state backing.
"This is what we do during the day," Bosley said. "I know what doors to knock on."
Bowler, however, still remained skeptical of the measure.
"The state build nothing; taxpayers build everything -- and this proposal will end up riding on the taxpayers' back," he said Monday.
Referencing the 13 percent cut in the sheriff's budget in the past two years, Bowler added that "adequately staffing [the Berkshire County jail] is an issue, so how are we going to staff a second facility under these issues?"
When asked how much cities and towns would save with a regional lockup facility, Bosley said there were no firm numbers yet, and that each town would find different savings.
"But every time they've done it elsewhere in the state, it's been a win-win situation," Bosley said. "You reduce their liability and you're saving them money, and you're giving the cities and towns more resources on the street because they're not sitting around watching prisoners."
Bosley and Bowler will square off in the Democratic primary on Sept. 14.
To reach David Pepose: (413) 496-6240, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Bowler says he wants debates: Dan Bosley still claims he's avoiding face-to-face meetings."
By Conor Berry, Berkshire Eagle Staff, July 23, 2010
PITTSFIELD -- Berkshire County sheriff candidate Thomas N. Bowler said he's bewildered by a press release issued Thursday by rival candidate Daniel E. Bosley, who criticizes Bowler for "his refusal to debate the issues and qualifications of the next sheriff."
The veteran Pittsfield police officer said not only has he agreed to debate Bosley, a veteran state representative, but the Bowler campaign is actively organizing four debates and possibly more -- and the Bosley campaign has been kept fully in the loop.
Meanwhile, Bosley claims Bowler is deliberately avoiding face-to-face encounters in an effort to delay debating the issues until late in the race, which likely will be decided by the Sept. 14 Democratic primary. Whichever Democrat wins that primary is widely expected to become the next sheriff of Berkshire County, a position held by Carmen C. Massimiano Jr. since 1978.
Too much face-to-face time?
"It's debate avoidance," said Bosley, who's frustrated by Bowler's refusal to debate on a weekly basis.
"We've gone through over half of this campaign and we haven't debated yet," said Bosley, a state lawmaker since 1987.
For his part, Bowler believes frequent face-to-face encounters would be "unprecedented" and "unnecessary." When Bosley in May issued a challenge to hold weekly debates right up until September's primary, Bowler responded by proposing two large debates in August.
The Bowler campaign has since upped that number to four debates, including possible radio and television forums and regional debates catering to voters in North Berkshire, South Berkshire and greater Pittsfield.
Bowler stands firm
"No organization, including Dan Bosley, is going to dictate how we run our campaign," Bowler said. "The issues will matter more when [the voters] know me."
Bowler took a leave of absence from the Pittsfield Police Department last month so he could hit the campaign trail hard. The first-time candidate acknowledges that Bosley, a career politician, has the name-brand recognition, which means Bowler must work twice as hard to get his name and résumé out there.
Focus on meeting public
Bowler said he's fed up with Bosley's constant chiding about the debate issue. He instead has focused on frequent face-to-face encounters with the public, spending the past several months making house calls and hand-delivering campaign lawn signs to county voters.
"That's why the whole lawn-sign issue is such a big issue," Bowler said. "It's an opportunity to meet people face to face."
Bowler and Donna Mattoon, his campaign manager, visited The Eagle Thursday to combat what they say is misleading and inaccurate information contained in Bosley's press release, which was sent to numerous media outlets that same day.
"It's just not true that we refuse to debate," Mattoon said. "We've made a substantial, good-faith effort to set up debates in the month of August, and I've kept the Bosley campaign abreast every step of the way."
To prove her point, Mattoon produced several recent e-mail communications between the Bowler and Bosley campaigns in which Mattoon discusses potential debate times, venues, host organizations and moderators, among other logistical issues. The tone of Mattoon's messages is generally professional and mannerly.
However, the tone of a Bosley campaign response to Mattoon's July 16 debate query is noticeably sharp, stating: "We don't feel that it is necessary for us to meet together to schedule debates, because we have agreed to meet at any time to debate. Dan is willing to move around his schedule for a debate, and is puzzled as to why we have to wait until August to do so."
Bosley, in a phone interview with The Eagle on Thursday, stood by the response to the Bowler campaign, which was issued by his daughter.
"I don't want to debate the debates," Bosley said. "I don't think there's any need to meet about logistics. This is their way to push off these debates and only hold a few."
Bowler: Debate logistics key
The Bowler campaign said it wholly disagrees that logistics aren't important when it comes to scheduling debates in sprawling Berkshire County, which is why Bowler organizers are focusing on three regional forums and a possible countywide radio debate.
Mattoon said the Pittsfield Gazette has already agreed to sponsor an Aug. 30 debate at Berkshire Community College, and a Williams College professor is expected to serve as moderator for an Aug. 10 debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters at a North Berkshire venue, although specifics are still being ironed out.
Mattoon said a South Berkshire debate is also being planned with Community Television of the Southern Berkshires, a public-access TV station based in South Lee.
Bosley said he's ready and willing to go toe to toe with Bowler any time, any place.
"I was in the science club in high school," Bosley said. "[Bowler] was a star football player. I thought he'd be more competitive."
To reach Conor Berry: email@example.com; (413) 496-6249.
"Bosley alleges ethics breach: Campaign signs were brought to the DA's office, he claims."
By David Pepose, Berkshire Eagle Staff, July 30, 2010
PITTSFIELD -- The Berkshire District Attorney's office came under fire this week, after state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley accused one of its employees of violating ethics laws by conducting campaign activity for his competitor on state property.
"I think it's not only unethical, its illegal," Bosley said. The District Attorney's office is "a state-funded office where people who work there are not supposed to be engaged in political campaigning during working hours, and I think everyone knows that."
The sheriff candidate's complaint stemmed from a conversation on Facebook on July 8 and 9 between Assistant District Attorney Dana Parsons and Jennifer Breen Kirsch, a campaign worker for Bosley's opponent, Pittsfield Police Detective Thomas N. Bowler.
"Do you think you could get some Bowler signs for ppl [sic] at the D.A.'s office? I know a bunch of people were looking for them," Parsons wrote at 10:07 p.m. on July 8.
"Yup! How many? I can have one of our guys drop them off," Kirsch replied at 7:07 a.m. on July 9. "He can bring them to the front desk at the DA's office."
After Kirsch confirmed that 25 signs would be delivered to Parsons at the District Attorney's office "sometime today," Parsons replied at 5:55 p.m., "Sweet! I will pass them around!"
The Facebook posts have since been removed from the website. Bosley said he obtained a copy of the Facebook conversation between Kirsch and Parsons, which he produced for The Eagle this week.
Campaigning not allowed
While Parsons and Kirsch's conversations did not take place during typical business hours, the State Ethics Commission has ruled that it is illegal for government employees to campaign for a candidate on state property -- which includes receiving and distributing campaign materials such as signs.
Parsons did not respond to messages left through the District Attorney's office.
District Attorney David Capeless said that while Parsons "apparently" did receive those signs at the office, he also stressed that this was an individual promoting a candidate without his knowledge or direction, and not an organized effort by the District Attorney's office.
"I was informed about it, and I spoke to Dana and said, ‘You shouldn't be having signs delivered here in the office. I understand it's convenient, it's during the day, you're here.' I said, ‘Get them in the parking lot,' " Capeless said. "It was not a proper thing, but I don't think it was ill-intentioned."
Capeless, who has endorsed Bowler in the election, also said that he sent a memo out to his staff on Monday reminding them of their legal restrictions. He refused to send a copy of the memo to The Eagle, but said that he did not expect to issue Parsons any additional reprimand.
"It's my expectation that that's the end of that," he said, adding that he did not instruct Parsons to remove the posts. "I expect their conduct to be of a higher standard, and I would not want even the appearance of impropriety to be attached to this office, so that's why as soon as I heard about this, I took the actions that I did."
Donna Mattoon of the Bowler campaign said that Kirsch "has taken literally hundreds of requests of thousands of lawn signs. ... This was an innocent mistake, but Jenn has spoken to our volunteers to make sure they understand that we can't deliver lawn signs to government locations."
Bosley said he has not decided whether or not he will pursue the matter with the state Ethics Commission.
To reach David Pepose: firstname.lastname@example.org or (413) 496-6240.
Longtime Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano Jr., state Rep. Daniel Bosley and veteran Pittsfield Police Detective Thomas Bowler have differing opinions on whether the position has the potential for the abuse of power. Either Bosley or Bowler will be the county’s next sheriff; their main duty will be to run the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction, which is surrounded by razor wire. (Ben Garver / Berkshire Eagle Staff)
"There's no question that Massachusetts sheriffs have power. But is it too much?"
By Clarence Fanto, Special to The [Berkshire] Eagle, August 8, 2010
Voters don't see what goes on behind closed doors. They don't review the annual reports of their elected officials. They don't witness the preparation of spending plans.
What, then, really does happen in the office of a sheriff in Massachusetts, where in Berkshire County the position will be contested next month for the first time in 30 years?
Despite budget controls in Boston and annual assessments by the state Department of Correction, county sheriffs across Massachusetts have no direct day-to-day supervision.
Since they report to their "bosses" -- the voters -- just once every six years, does the position carry the potential for the abuse of power?
Some say yes. Some say no. Some hedge. And others won't comment.
State Rep. Daniel Bosley, D-North Adams, who is running for Berkshire County Sheriff against veteran Pittsfield Police Detective Thomas Bowler in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary, acknowledges there's always the possibility of abuse if there is no oversight.
"Clearly, any time you have a system like this, where so much responsibility is given to one individual, you always have to make sure there are checks and balances," Bosley said. "We need to be very transparent. [But] I haven't seen any abuse in our county."
The sheriff here primarily is responsible for supervising the inmates, employees and security at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction, and for overseeing the annual budget of the Sheriff's Office. This fiscal year that figure is $14.2 million.
Carmen C. Massimiano Jr. has been the county sheriff since 1978 and hadn't faced a challenger since 1980, but he withdrew from this year's race in January, citing health issues.
Bowler, with nearly 24 years on the Pittsfield police force but on leave from his detective's position this summer, said that although he's not aware of any abuse of power in the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office, he doesn't know if the current level of state oversight "would prevent abuse of power or excessive power."
"It would not necessarily deter abuse," Bowler said.
Gov. Deval Patrick and state Attorney General Martha Coakley have declined to speak with The Eagle about the potential for abuse. They also declined comment when asked whether a case could be made for more state scrutiny and oversight of county sheriff's offices in the wake of revelations of rampant political patronage, campaign contributions and corruption in the state Department of Probation.
Commissioner John O'Brien was suspended in May, and Patrick called it an "unaccountable and to some extent rogue agency."
Bowler cites what he sees as "sufficient, pretty strict" oversight of sheriff's departments through state codes covering policies and procedures implemented by the Department of Correction under Commissioner Harold W. Clarke.
An audit team from Clarke's office visits every sheriff's department once a year to ensure compliance.
"They check and go over all the records the facility has," said Bowler, the deputy superintendent in charge of security at the Berkshire County jail from May 2000 to December 2001. "It's pretty intense."
But according to Diane Wiffin, the Department of Correction's director of public affairs, the department doesn't have oversight of county correctional facilities.
"That is the responsibility of the respective sheriff," she said. "The DOC conducts annual audits of each county correctional facility to assess operational compliance with Commonwealth of Massachusetts regulations, ensuring operational effectiveness for safety and security," she said in an e-mail.
Bowler said that although he sees no need for additional scrutiny now, he reserves the right to change his mind if he is elected sheriff.
Statewide, an attorney at a Boston law firm said he thinks the possibility for abuse exists within sheriff's offices.
"The sheriffs have a lot of important decisions to make, and the position is ripe for abuse if you don't have the right people in the job," said the attorney, Joseph F. Savage Jr., a former prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Boston office and chief of the public corruption unit.
State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli and Andrea Nuciforo, the Berkshire Middle District Register of Deeds, acknowledge that the sheriff's position in Massachusetts is powerful.
"I think there are sheriffs around the state who have built up empires," said Pignatelli, a Democrat from Lenox. "I wouldn't call it abuse of power, but I would call it flexing of muscle."
"There's a very substantial workforce dependent totally or partially on the sheriff," Nuciforo said. "No public official in Berkshire County has more power than the sheriff."
As the second-highest-paid elected official countywide -- $123,209 a year compared with Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless at $148,843 -- Massimiano has built an influential political and public-safety power base in his 32 years as sheriff.
When asked about the potential for abuse in the position, Massimiano responded: "I have as many police powers as any state policeman or chief of police. By statute, the sheriff has tremendous authority to appoint deputies and do things [other duties of the job]."
The Berkshire County Sheriff's Department has 275 employees, most of whom work at the $34 million county jail, which opened in 2001.
"The sheriff is the most powerful elected official in the county," said John J. Pignatelli, Smitty's father and the former 20-year county commissioner and 32-year Lenox selectman who retired in 1992. "The elimination of county government here gave the sheriff even more power. Massimiano is a strong person, a tough guy. He had the temperament for it."
After the demise of seven of the state's 14 county governments, including Berkshire, in 2000, Massimiano and the six other sheriffs became state employees, along with their staffs.
On July 1 of this year, as a result of a proposal made last year by Patrick and approved by the Legislature, the 14 county sheriffs are under the same state government umbrella, submitting their budgets and functioning as state employees.
Annual line-by-line spending plans prepared by all county sheriffs are given to the state Executive Office for Administration and Finance (EOAF) for scrutiny and potential modification, then to budget analysts for both the House and Senate before being submitted to the governor and state Legislature for final approval.
"All 14 sheriffs are independently elected, but all are now under increased oversight," said Cyndi Roy, the EOAF's communications director. "We track expenses and personnel, and since they're all Massachusetts government employees on the state payroll system, they have to comply with state regulations."
It remains to be seen how sheriff's departments will handle the new rules, but in the past there were some problems.
In 2006, an investigative team at WBZ-TV in Boston uncovered questionable spending of at least $3 million by sheriffs in Bristol, Plymouth and Middlesex counties for homeland-security projects considered beyond their purview.
And a 2010 Boston Globe investigation found that many current and former employees of Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson greatly enhanced their retirement benefits by working for the sheriff and taking advantage of loopholes in the state pension system.
State oversight of sheriff's departments "isn't great" but has improved, according to Savage, the former prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Savage, who prosecuted corruption cases against sheriffs in Essex and Middlesex counties during the 1990s, said he believes there's more accountability now than there's ever been.
"People elect a sheriff and expect him to be accountable," Savage said.
Asked whether more state control would be desirable, he replied: "There are always things you could do, but I'm not sure how appropriate it is to institute further supervision of elected officials. It ought to be the voters who supervise them.
"Strong state ethics regulations apply to sheriffs. If the voters don't care, they get what they deserve. We get exactly the amount of corruption that we tolerate."
Although state prisons are controlled by the Massachusetts Department of Correction, county sheriffs differ greatly in how they run their correctional facilities, according to professor Arthur Wolf, who has taught at the Western New England College of Law in Springfield since 1978.
Although state prisons are controlled by the Massachusetts Department of Correction, county sheriffs differ greatly in how they run their correctional facilities, according to professor Arthur Wolf, who has taught at the Western New England College of Law in Springfield since 1978.
For example, as reported by the Globe, half the inmates in Bristol County return to jail to face new charges.
But in Springfield, Hampden County Sheriff Michael Ashe Jr., in office for 36 years and now seeking his seventh term without opposition, has stressed rehabilitation programs that have resulted in a three-year recidivism rate of 36 percent.
Ashe credits his long-standing collaboration with Massimiano for the creation of four regional facilities in Springfield dealing with alcohol abuse, mental health issues, the needs of female prisoners, and a sheriff's academy for training.
Citing Department of Correction regulations and inspections as well as legal remedies if needed, Ashe said he thinks there is enough oversight today to avoid the abuse of power.
"If issues come up, there are no secrets inside these facilities," he said. "We have very transparent organizations. You have to be open and transparent."
The latest recidivism rate at the Berkshire County House of Correction is 26 percent. The American Accreditation Association has evaluated 3,751 adult local detention facilities nationwide, and the Berkshire County facility is only the 144th of that group to gain accreditation.
Even though the state controls all budgets for the 14 county sheriffs, the Legislature has imposed severe cuts -- such as Berkshire County's nearly 14 percent decrease in the past two years -- because of declining tax revenues statewide.
"Smitty" Pignatelli said he thinks Massimiano has been "way too conservative in spending and has stretched his dollars very far."
"When the economy goes sour, he falls far behind his peers," Pignatelli said. "I think he was too honest, and that's a compliment."
Pignatelli faults other sheriffs for padding their budgets.
"But there have been no abuses whatsoever in Berkshire County," he said of Massimiano's $14.2 million budget. "If anything, the sheriff could have advocated for even more money for programs."
"I probably should have been as aggressive in seeking funding as other jurisdictions were," Massimiano said. "I'm a very conservative spender. I believe you don't do more than what is reasonable and proper, and if you don't need it, don't take it."
The winner of the Democratic primary in September effectively will become the sheriff-elect in November since there are no Republicans in the race. If Bosley wins, he plans a "top-to-bottom review of the books just to see where everything is, where the funds are going. That's standard operating procedure."
Annual state audits of the Berkshire County Sheriff's Department have not uncovered any budget improprieties, according to Bosley.
Bowler supports a sheriff's right to allocate available funds as he sees fit.
"The sheriffs are given a budget that's allotted to different programs," he said. "I believe it should be at the sheriff's discretion as to how it's spent, as long as the sheriff's department can show it's complying with state regulations and standards."
As Massimiano enters his final five months in office, and as the race for the first new Berkshire County Sheriff since 1978 heats up, Massimiano's tenure is being looked at closely.
But District Attorney Capeless, the only other countywide elected public-safety official, said he has no issue with what he calls Massimiano's success at cultivating power and influence.
"He has instituted a large number of programs not only within the jail but outside the jail that are very positive," Capeless said. "If this gives you greater ‘influence' because you gain good will and respect, all the power to him. Those are the kinds of things you are supposed to do in office -- extend good will and do good for the community."
Clarence Fanto, a former managing editor of The Eagle, is an Eagle columnist and contributing reporter. He can be reached at email@example.com.
The Berkshire County Sheriff is responsible for and supervises the following:
. Jail & House of Corrections security: Care and custody of inmates
. On-site physical and mental health care; social, educational, rehabilitation and job-training programs to minimize recidivism; supervision of on-site physical, mental health and education professionals.
. Staff, including Superintendent Jack Quinn, assistant superintendents, guards and other employees; 275 total
. Preparation of annual budget and plan capital expenditures
. Lobbying of state legislators and the state's U.S. representatives and senators for funding
. Preparation of grant applications
. Juvenile Resources Center
. 911 Emergency County Communications System
. CHILD program (more than 2,000 county elementary-school students enrolled in national data bank to help identify missing children)
. Child Identification Booklets (neighborhood public-safety events where deputies fingerprint, videotape and photograph children for use if children turn up missing or are abducted)
. Senior Safety Net to identify and track missing persons
. Berkshire County Triad program: safety-related programs in partnership with the district attorney's office, local police and fire departments and senior protective services
. Uniform Division: volunteer sheriff's deputies assigned to security details, parking assistance and traffic control (Tanglewood, etc.)
. Assignment of civil process-servers
. Sheriff's Underwater Search and Rescue Team
. Community Service Work Crews (inmates assigned to community facility and roadside clean-ups)
Sources: Eagle news services, Berkshire County Sheriff's Office
"Sheriffs through the years"
Carmen C. Massimiano Jr. is the 20th sheriff in county history:
Years Sheriff Hometown
1761-1776 Elijah Williams Stockbridge
1776-1781 Israel Dickinson-x Pittsfield
1776-1781 Israel Dickinson-x Pittsfield
1778-1781 John Fellows* Sheffield
1781-1791 Caleb Hyde Lenox
1791-1792 Thompson J. Skinner Williamstown
1792-1812 Simon Larned Pittsfield
1812-1838 Henry C. Brown** Pittsfield
1838-1842 Thomas Twining Sandisfield
1843-1848 Edward F. Ensign Sheffield
1853-1855 George S. Willis Pittsfield
1855-1880 Graham A. Root Sheffield
1881-1887 Hiram B. Wellington Pittsfield
1887-1896 John Crosby Pittsfield
1896-1905 Charles W. Fuller** North Adams
1905-1932 John Nicholson Pittsfield
1933-1962 J. Bruce McIntyre North Adams
World War II Thomas H. Sullivan*** Pittsfield
1963-1978 John D. Courtney Jr. Williamstown
1978 (3 months) James J. Mooney*** Richmond
1978-2010 Carmen C. Massimiano Jr. Pittsfield
x-According to the Berkshire County Sheriff's Department.
* Served as ‘sheriff designate' during Revolutionary War, according to Berkshire Historical and Scientific Society.
** Died in office. *** Interim sheriff.
Sources: Eagle archives, Berkshire Athenaeum local history department, Berkshire County Sheriff's Department, Berkshire Historical and Scientific Society, local historian Bernard Drew.
"County has seen 20 sheriffs"
By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff, August 8, 2010
PITTSFIELD -- The position is as old as Berkshire County itself, but only 20 men have officially served as the county's sheriff since the job was established 14 years before the Revolutionary War began.
Since the office's inception in 1761, the year Berkshire officially became a county, those 20 sheriffs have included the half-brother of the founder of Williams College; military officers; state legislators; two lawyers; former police chiefs; and a chief probation officer -- current Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano Jr.
At 32 years, Massimiano has held the position longer than anyone else. But five others have served at least 20 years, led by J. Bruce McIntyre, who was in the job for 30 years between 1933 and 1962.
Three from that group -- McIntyre, Graham A. Root (1855-80) and John Nicholson (1905-32) -- served after the sheriff became an elected position in 1856.
Before that, the sheriff was appointed by the governor.
Nicholson, a former Pittsfield police chief, came within one vote of being unanimously re-elected in 1926.
Berkshire County has had two interim sheriffs: Thomas H. Sullivan, who held the position for three years during World War II, when McIntyre served as a lieutenant colonel in the Army; and James J. Mooney, who held the office during the three months in 1978 between John D. Courtney Jr.'s resignation and Massimiano's appointment by Gov. Michael Dukakis to serve the remaining two years of his term.
John Fellows was Berkshire County's "sheriff designate" during the Revolutionary War, although Israel Dickinson is listed as having officially served in that position between 1776 and 1781, according to the Berkshire County Sheriff's Department's website.
In a case of conflicting information, the Berkshire Historical and Scientific Society lists Fellows as having served between 1778 and 1781.
The only lawyers to hold the position -- Thomas Twining of Sandisfield and Edward Ensign of Sheffield -- were the only sheriffs to serve two separate terms, with each succeeding the other during the period between 1838 and 1853.
The only lawyers to hold the position -- Thomas Twining of Sandisfield and Edward Ensign of Sheffield -- were the only sheriffs to serve two separate terms, with each succeeding the other during the period between 1838 and 1853.
After Twining served between 1838 and 1842, Ensign was appointed in 1843. Twining was re-appointed sheriff in 1848, before Ensign replaced him a second time in 1852, this time serving only one year.
Pittsfield's Israel Stoddard does not appear on official lists of Berkshire County sheriffs, but according to the Berkshire Historical and Scientific Society, he was appointed to the job by the British Crown in 1774 to succeed the office's original occupant, Stockbridge's Elijah Williams, who is the half-brother of Williams College founder Ephraim Williams Jr.
Stoddard, the son of a famous colonel and the major of a Berkshire regiment in colonial days, was a supporter of the British crown. Because of his social standing, he came to be regarded as a "bitter Tory." When the local authorities attempted to question him, Stoddard fled to New York in 1775. He returned to Pittsfield after a short absence, but was kept under surveillance until he swore allegiance to the United States.
In 1777, Stoddard fought as a volunteer with the Colonial Army at the battle of Bennington in Vermont. He died in 1782.
"Jail braces for cuts: Layoffs and furloughs are the result after another round of budget reductions issued by the state."
By Scott Stafford, Berkshire Eagle Staff, August 7, 2010
PITTSFIELD - Due to state budget reductions, the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office is implementing a total of seven layoffs of uniformed personnel and 1,840 days of unpaid furlough for other staff members.
Five uniformed employees have already been let go with two more layoffs due soon. For the furloughs, 92 staff members will take one furlough day per week for 20 weeks, according to Robert M. McDonough, public information officer for the sheriff's office, which oversees the Berkshire County Jail & House of Corrections.
"This is a reprise of last year because of reductions in state funding," he said.
He declined to discuss how the layoffs and furloughs might affect the jail's operation.
The more than $ 14 million budget incurred a 2 percent reduction for this fiscal year, McDonough said.
The sheriff's office employs 244 people to operate the jail, which houses an average population of 350 inmates.
Carmen C. Massimiano Jr., the county's outgoing sheriff, is stepping down at the end of his current term after 32 years. One of two men running to replace Massimiano will inherit the difficult budgetary predicament.
Thomas Bowler, on leave of absence from the Pittsfield Police Department, is running against fellow Daniel Bosley, a veteran state lawmaker.
The Bowler campaign has received strong public support from the union representing many employees of the sheriff's office. Local 297 of the International Brotherhood of Correctional Officers voted in March to endorse Bowler.
To reach Scott Stafford: firstname.lastname@example.org or (413) 496-6241.
"Sheriff contest offers 2 views: Opinions on who would do the job most effectively vary widely between the candidates."
By Conor Berry, Berkshire Eagle Staff, August 9, 2010
PITTSFIELD -- State Rep. Daniel E. Bosley has made a persistent point during his campaign to become the county's next sheriff: You don't need to be a law man to be a good sheriff.
The veteran North Adams lawmaker points to the fact that 75 percent of all current Massachusetts sheriffs don't have law-enforcement backgrounds. The state has 14 sheriffs.
The management job is about education and rehabilitation, being a steward of public resources, and overseeing the $14 million budget for the sheriff's office and county jail, according to Bosley, who believes his 24-year career on Beacon Hill is the right background for the job.
On the other hand, Thomas N. Bowler, a 24-year law enforcement veteran who worked as a deputy county jail superintendent from 2000 to 2002, says the sheriff's job is best fit for someone with a police background.
Bowler, a Pittsfield police detective on leave while he makes his first bid for public office, hammered home that point in a letter to The Eagle last week, citing a recent spike in Pittsfield's crime rate as proof that "now is exactly the right time for a law enforcement professional to be sheriff."
The Bowler campaign also has emphasized "collaboration." He has called for "sharing information and resources with other law enforcement professionals" to create safer cities and towns while saving money.
Both candidates are Democrats, and whether the law man or lawmaker is better suited to become sheriff is up to voters in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary. With no Republicans in the race, the winner effectively would become the sheriff-elect ahead of the November general election.
Bowler and Bosley have yet to meet in a debate -- the first one is scheduled for Aug. 16 -- but already they have staked out policy differences.
Bosley has proposed various initiatives, such as building a regional lockup facility at the county jail. Bowler has said he wouldn't back new initiatives until he "assesses the value" of existing sheriff-run programs.
Bowler has criticized Bosley's plan to create the regional lockup, claiming taxpayers can't afford it in the current economic climate. Bosley, meanwhile, has argued that the proposed facility wouldn't cost taxpayers money. He said it would generate revenue for the sheriff's office.
He said a state-financed facility would put more officers on the streets because they wouldn't have to guard prisoners, and that securing money for such projects is among the skills he honed as a representative familiar with grants and the budgetary process.
"I've spent the past 24 years finding ways to fund things," Bosley said.
The state's lingering fiscal crisis has resulted in "far fewer resources to address all serious issues," including funding for schools, programs for senior citizens and the disabled, and people who are out of work, Bowler said.
"In this economic environment, we need to use what we have to its highest potential, and that will take the right leadership," he said, expressing a preference to rely on the "multitude of rehabilitation programs already in place at the jail" before exploring any new initiatives.
That said, Bowler has vowed to "aggressively pursue" grants and private money for worthy initiatives, while also counting on the Berkshire Statehouse delegation to secure adequate jail funding.
Bosley said his opponent's seemingly cautious approach to administering the jail is evidence of a candidate who lacks ideas.
"Given our budget situation in Massachusetts, we need to be thoughtful and innovative. We need to offer up a vision of how we will perform as sheriff, and not just offer vague platitudes about collaboration," Bosley said last month.
Donna Mattoon, Bowler's campaign manager, said collaboration and frugality have been solid planks of Bowler's platform since the beginning.
"Collaboration doesn't cost money," Mattoon said.
Bosley responded: "I wasn't mocking collaboration. What I've said is that he [Bowler] hasn't put together one single idea so far. Collaboration is a wonderful thing. [But] you have to have a plan. You have to have some idea on how to run the jail."
Bosley said his proposals range from cutting inmate transportation costs by holding video arraignments at the county jail to working more closely with the state Department of Corrections.
However, Bowler isn't the only one skeptical about Bosley's regional lockup plan.
Outgoing Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano Jr. said he supports the concept, but he recently told The Eagle: "You can't expand services and not expand the ability to pay for those services. I don't even have the money that is necessary to do what we have now. And no matter what anyone says, it would require an increase in finances simply because you increase the staff."
"Bosley upset at D.A. office: He has filed a complaint with the state Ethics Commission alleging unethical practices."
By David Pepose, Berkshire Eagle Staff, August 10, 2010
PITTSFIELD -- Sheriff candidate Daniel Bosley has taken aim once more at the Berkshire District Attorney's Office, filing a complaint with the state Ethics Commission alleging that David Capeless' staff was actively engaged in a political campaign on state property.
"They didn't show that they demonstrated any inkling that what they did was illegal," Bosley said Monday. "[Capeless] is supposed to be the top prosecutor in the county, and he doesn't understand this or he doesn't care. Either way, it's disturbing."
Bosley's complaint stems from a July conversation on Facebook between Assistant District Attorney Dana Parsons and Jennifer Breen Kirsch, the Northern Berkshire campaign coordinator for Bosley's rival, Pittsfield Police Detective Thomas Bowler.
Bosley, a state representative from North Adams, said publicly at the time that he was unhappy about the situation and wasn't sure whether he would file a complaint.
According to a Facebook transcript produced by Bosley last month, Parsons had contacted Kirsch on July 8, asking: "Do you think you could get some Bowler signs for ppl [sic] at the D.A.'s office? I know a bunch of people were looking for them."
The next day, Kirsch said she could have a campaign volunteer "bring them to the front desk of the DA's office." Parsons replied later that evening, "Sweet! I will pass them around!"
The conversation has since been deleted from the social networking site.
The Ethics Commission has said it is illegal for government workers to campaign on state time or property -- which includes receiving campaign signs or materials.
Bosley also has criticized Kirsch, who posted the following statement on Facebook on July 31, one day after the initial Eagle story was published: "At this point all I am hearing is whining. Can somebody please get this man a pacifier, a blankey and some diet baby formula for his bah-bah so he can call it a career already?"
"[The post] shows no remorse or regret for her actions," Bosley wrote in his complaint, a copy of which he sent to The Eagle. "I believe that the post from this officer of the court demonstrates contempt for our ethics law as well as an ignorance of the seriousness of her actions."
Capeless, who previously told The Eagle that he had spoken with Parsons about the issue and would not admonish her further, said Monday: "I don't understand what [Bosley's] thinking is -- I did deal with this. ... I took action, and I did it appropriately to what occurred."
"Any suggestion that this office has been involved in this way is wholly unfounded and ridiculous," added Capeless, who has endorsed Bowler in the election. "There are a number of people who work here in this office who are supporting political candidates this summer ... and I encourage people to do that."
When contacted by The Eagle to see if Kirsch would continue with his campaign, Bowler said: "This issue was already addressed a week and a half ago. We have no further comment. End of story."
Kirsch was similarly terse Monday: "My thoughts are simple on this -- our campaign addressed the sign issue last week, and I apologize if Dan was offended by my comment. That's it."
Representatives from the State Ethics Commission said that confidentiality rules prohibit them from discussing any open or prospective cases until their conclusion. Ethics investigations can take years to complete; the Democratic primary between Bosley and Bowler is Sept. 14.
"All I was looking for was an apology, an assurance to make sure that this doesn't happen again, but [Capeless] didn't even reprimand the person," Bosley said. "The goal is to get some understanding from our D.A.'s office that that's just wrong, and to stop this behavior."
"Bowler is clearly best choice for job"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letter to the Editor, August 11, 2010
Berkshire County is fortunate to have such a well-qualified candidate for sheriff in Tom Bowler. Tom is thoroughly experienced in law enforcement and with his many years as a Pittsfield police officer, is the ideal person for the job. In addition, Tom has worked at the House of Corrections, adding to his qualifications for the job.
On the other hand, we have state Representative Dan Bosley, who is claiming his 20-plus years in the Statehouse qualify him for the job. How ludicrous! Twenty years in that place, which I call the House of Corruption, does not qualify a person to be in charge of a House of Corrections. Some advice, Dan, if you need a job -- apply to the court system in the commonwealth, the major dumping ground for unqualified ex-state representatives.
And by the way, as your bumper sticker states "Sheriff Bosley" -- you are not the sheriff. Hopefully, you will never be.
"Policeman over politician for sheriff"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letter to the Editor, August 12, 2010
It's time for a real sheriff for Berkshire County. Politicians are just that -- politicians. Merriam-Webster's dictionary says that a politician is: A person experienced in the art or science of government; also, a person primarily interested in political office for selfish or other narrow, usually shortsighted reasons. Mr. Bosley has told us that he has many friends in Boston and can bring the money back to the Berkshires. Now we read in The Berkshire Eagle that there will be furloughs and more layoffs in the House of Correction. Why hasn't he brought back the money already? Does he have to be sheriff first?
We also have a policeman, Tom Bowler. By definition, a policeman is a person with police power, which is the inherent power of a government to exercise reasonable control over persons and property within its jurisdiction in the interest of the general security, health, safety, morals and welfare, except where legally prohibited. That is some difference between a politician and a police officer.
Tom Bowler is trained in dealing with all phases of police work. My guess is that he would concentrate on dealing with all aspects of jail activities. In other words, he would run a proper jail dealing with all problems in an experienced manner.
What would have worked great would be for Rep. Bosley to have stayed in his present position, deal with all the people he knows in Boston, and get the money and other needs for the House of Correction. If he becomes sheriff, as his sign designates, we would have another politician running the jail.
Let's elect Tom Bowler and have a real qualified professional for sheriff. Remember to vote in the Democratic primary.
Great Barrington, Massachusetts
"Berkshire sheriff’s candidates to debate"
By Associated Press via bostonherald.com - Local Coverage - August 15, 2010
PITTSFIELD — The two candidates for Berkshire County Sheriff are meeting in their first public debate.
Daniel Bosley and Thomas Bowler will debate Monday (8/16/2010) at the Silvio Conte Community School in Pittsfield starting at 6:30 p.m.
The debate is sponsored by the West Side and Morningside neighborhood initiatives in collaboration with The Berkshire Eagle. The paper’s executive editor, Tim Farkas, will moderate.
Bosley is a longtime state representative from North Adams, and Bowler is a veteran Pittsfield police detective.
Both men are Democrats. No Republican candidate has declared.
The Democratic primary is Sept. 14 and the general election is Nov. 2.
Carmen Massimiano Jr., who’s been sheriff since 1978, is not seeking re-election.
"In the first debate, a familiar political narrative emerges"
By Dick Lindsay, Berkshire Eagle Staff, August 17, 2010
PITTSFIELD -- Pittsfield police detective Thomas Bowler and state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley each believes they have the right stuff to become the county's next sheriff, and they had the chance to sway the public to their cause on Monday during the first debate between the two candidates.
Bowler said his 24 years on the Pittsfield police force is experience enough for the job.
"If elected, I would become the chief law enforcement officer in Berkshire County," said Bowler. "A school committee wouldn't hire a new school superintendent, if the person didn't have experience in education."
Bosley said he's better qualified for the sheriff's job because it's about the "care and custody of inmates" at the Berkshire County Jail and House of Correction -- not law and order.
"If [Bowler] thinks this is about law enforcement, I think he should stay there," said the 24-year lawmaker from North Adams. "This is not a law enforcement job, it's a social-service job."
The two candidates are seeking to succeed Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano Jr., who's retiring after 31 years.
The debate was sponsored by the West Side and Morningside neighborhood initiatives in collaboration with The Berkshire Eagle. The media company's executive editor, Tim Farkas, moderated the event at Conte Community School.
Bosley and Bowler will square off Sept. 14 in the Democratic primary. The winner effectively becomes the county's next sheriff for the next six years because there are no Republicans in the race, relegating the Nov. 2 to a procedural event.
The would-be sheriffs spent 90 minutes answering written questions from the two neighborhood groups and several of the nearly 200 audience members. Bowler and Bosley were queried on topics that included improving the rehabilitation of prisoners, dealing with youthful offenders, and whether the county lock-up should be expanded.
Bosley has strongly advocated for adding a regional jail to the current facility off Route 8 near the Berkshire Mall, claiming it would increase local law enforcement.
"If we take prisoners from Pittsfield, [the city] can put more officers on the street," he said.
Bowler said a regional jail at this time wouldn't be "economically responsible to the taxpayers."
"Hampshire County built a facility that stayed vacant for two and a half years because the state couldn't staff it," he said.
The state took over the funding of Berkshire, Hampshire and other county jails, when county government in those areas was abolished in the 1990s.
As for rehabilitating inmates and keeping them from becoming repeat offenders, Bowler called for a "top-down assessment" of the programs already in place at the Berkshire County House of Correction.
"We need to get the inmates input on how [the programs] can be better and why some of them are coming back to jail," Bowler said.
Bosley said the key to lowering the recidivism rate is to get help for the inmate population from outside the county jail.
"I think we need to reach out into the community to social-service agencies we already have, and it will save money too," he said.
Bosley also called for expanding the sheriff's role in reforming youthful offenders. He wants to build upon the success of the Juvenile Resource Center (JRC) that Massimiano established to help keep teenagers in school.
"We need to have an alternative school," Bosley said. "Many in jail are young males with substance abuse problems from single-family homes."
Bowler said relying on school resource officers, neighborhood groups, as well as the JRC are crucial to reaching out to "at-risk youth who are our future felons."
Bowler and Bosley appeared to agree on the issue of further state oversight of the sheriff's position.
The two candidates were asked if they felt the Berkshire sheriff had too much power, lacking daily supervision since county government went away.
"If we start to blend into the state system, we'll have people from the outside come in and we'll lose control," Bosley said.
Meanwhile, Bowler dismissed the suggestion of term limits to reduce any one person's control on the sheriff's job.
"Voters should decide if there should be a change," he said.
To reach Dick Lindsay: email@example.com, or (413) 496-6233.
"Bosley will put end to old boy network"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letter to the Editor, August 20, 2010
I find it shameful that a district attorney elected to uphold the laws has demonstrated so little concern toward a blatant violation of the state's ethics laws committed by his own employee in his own office. I refer, of course, to the Facebook request by Assistant District Attorney Dana Parsons to have lawn signs for her sheriff candidate brought to the DA's office to "pass them around."
District Attorney Capeless' cavalier dismissal of the violation is in sharp contrast to the cowboy attitude he exhibited in refusing such leniency to a youth who was underhandedly guided by an undercover agent into a spot less than a thousand feet from a Head Start location to score a joint. That youth got the mandatory two years in jail sought by Capeless and a record that will follow him for the rest of his life.
The truth is that the DA and his ilk are part of the good old boy city network hoping to bulldoze their policeman candidate into the sheriff's office, so equal protection under the law apparently isn't a matter of concern.
Voters need to know that, after 36 years of incumbency, they will need to air out the jail with a sheriff who has the wherewithal, competence, experience and most important of all, integrity, to implement policies that serve the jail's population, its workforce and the citizenry, and not use the jail as a shadowy bastion for self-promotion and power-wielding. Aside from integrity, the most important aspect we will need in the new sheriff is transparency. Dan Bosley has the integrity and the knowledge to bring that about.
I hope the Ethics Commission looks at Bosley's complaint against the district attorney's office very closely, and perhaps it will probe to be a lesson for Ms. Parsons and the DA on how justice is truly wielded.
RICHARD T. DELMASTO
"Bowler has earned election as sheriff"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letter to the Editor, August 27, 2010
It has been 25 years since I first met Tom Bowler as we traveled down to the Massachusetts Municipal Police Officers Academy in Agawam. We worked together for 12 years and attended each other's weddings. Our children have played on the same sports teams and against each other through the years. We are both family men, having been married nearly 24 years each this fall.
I now work in a related field and still have regular contact with Tom. I am offering him my full support. He has shown himself to be an excellent police officer. I can remember his helpful presence at serious disturbances on the street and in the neighborhoods. His performance as a patrolman quickly led to a promotion to the detective bureau. His tenure in the detective bureau has witnessed some of the most horrible crimes that make one wish never to have known the facts. A good detective needs to keep his or her emotions separate from the investigation. Tom does this quite well. Detective Bowler's work was always excellent and the results speak for themselves with regular convictions in Superior and District courts. (Investigatory skills far out weigh debating skills in such an arena).
Tom Bowler has experience at the Berkshire County House of Correction as he served as deputy superintendent. He has the support of the BCHC staff, and the local law enforcement community for a reason.
Several writers have noted the definition of a "sheriff" and it seems that someone that has spent his career in law enforcement comes much closer. If I were in Dan Bosley's shoes I would probably try to re-define the role as well. With Rep. Bosley in Boston there are still cuts being made at the BCHC. I am not sure why he feels he needs to be sheriff before he can help in this regard. It must be nice to have a job where you do not need to leave your current position in order to campaign. Dan Bosley was quick to accuse people of impropriety but it seems that the politicians must have made their own rules so that the incumbents can spend 24/7 running for office. That would tend to give someone a bit of an advantage in a political race. Please stick to the real issues.
The race for sheriff comes down to a choice between a career politician and a professional in the law enforcement field. Bosley has spent 25 years in Boston as a state representative. In contrast, Bowler has spent 25 years in Berkshire County as a policeman, detective and deputy superintendent at the House of Correction. I am tired of politicians who believe they are entitled to any job or position because they are politically connected. Hopefully, this election will be based on merit. I hope the majority of voters support my friend, Tom Bowler, this fall.
JAMES A. HUNT
"Race for Sheriff: Contributions divide candidates"
By Dick Lindsay, Berkshire Eagle Staff, August 28, 2010
PITTSFIELD -- State Rep. Daniel Bosley said he won't accept -- and hasn't accepted -- campaign contributions from employees at the Berkshire County House of Corrections.
However, Pittsfield Police detective Thomas Bowler -- who has received donations from county jail workers -- believes voters have a "God-given right" to financially support any candidate they choose.
The two candidates for county sheriff squared off on Friday in separate interviews with The Eagle over the issue of campaign finances. The Democratic hopefuls in next month's primary are seeking to succeed Berkshire Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano Jr., who's retiring after 31 years.
The winner on Sept. 14 effectively becomes the county's next sheriff for the next six years because there are no Republicans in the race, relegating the Nov. 2 election to a procedural event.
Bosley said it's "wrong" for he and Bowler to take donations from employees one of them will oversee, if elected next month.
"For too long in past political races, I have witnessed people donating to a candidate because they are afraid they will lose their job if they don't write a check," said Bosley.
"The next sheriff will have to make a lot of decisions regarding personnel [at the jail], upon entering office," he said. "People should be hired and promoted based on their ability, performance and experience -- not on the size of their political contribution."
Bowler agreed with Bosley's last statement, but stopped short of a self-imposed ban on accepting campaign funds from county jail personnel.
"I've made it very clear from the start of my campaign that promotions in that facility won't be based on who contributes to my campaign," Bowler said. "However, people donating to my campaign are doing so because it's their God-given right to support who they want."
Bowler said he has received a "small amount" of his contributions from employees at the Berkshire County House of Corrections and has no plans to return the money.
"I'm sure Dan would love to have the support I've had from the jail," he said.
While Bosley has received a "few contributions" from jail workers, he has returned the money as the 24-year lawmaker has done in his past political campaigns.
"I have never taken a contribution from people I've employed," he said. "It's just not a good practice, policy and doesn't inspire public confidence."
"Sheriff job skills at issue"
By Derek Gentile, Berkshire Eagle Staff, August 31, 2010
PITTSFIELD -- A regional lockup, relevant job experience and sources of campaign contributions dominated Monday night's debate for sheriff at Berkshire Community College.
State Rep. Daniel Bosley, D-North Adams, and Thomas Bowler, a detective with Pittsfield police, are competing to replace Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, who is not seeking re-election.
About 90 people attended the debate, which was sponsored by the Pittsfield Gazette and moderated by Clarence Fanto.
The candidates continued to be deeply divided over the concept of a regional jail, which Bosley favors and Bowler opposes.
In response to a question about the potential cost of such a facility, Bosley said he believed that a regional lockup would cost about $2.3 million and could be paid for by a bond. He said that the new jail would return more police to the streets, because officers from surrounding communities could be freed up from duties associated with jailing suspects.
"It's a no-brainer, to me," Bosley said.
Bowler differed, saying that there was no need to commit taxpayer money to another facility when the jail the county has now is underused.
"What we need is better communication between the sheriff's department and local police departments," Bowler said.
In their opening remarks, the candidates returned to a familiar campaign theme. Bosley stressed his political experience while Bowler touted his law enforcement background.
The job "is an extension of the [administrative] job I already have," Bosley said.
Bowler pointed out that he has earned the endorsement of several law enforcement organizations. "Because of my experience. My network isn't in politics, it's in law enforcement," he said.
Fanto asked Bosley if Bowler might have a point.
"No," Bosley said. "And here's why: David Phelps runs [Berkshire Medical Center] and he has no medical experience. He has won awards for his leadership. Gene Dellea runs Hillcrest [Educational Center]. What these two guys have in common is that they are great administrators."
Fanto asked Bowler why he briefly left Pittsfield police to work for the sheriff's department in 2001.
"The longer I stayed away from it, the more I missed being a street-level investigator," Bowler said. "What I learned was the rapport I had with correctional officers and staff."
The candidates also addressed concerns that the sheriff's department lacks oversight.
"There's always potential for abuse," Bosley said. "What is needed is to make the system as transparent as possible."
Bowler said he was not interested in running a closed sheriff's department.
"Abuse of power depends on the individual," he said. "It's not my intention to build an empire. It's my intention to make the community safer."
Another hot-button issue that surfaced at the debate was the sources of campaign contributions. Bosley criticized Bowler for accepting contributions from staff at the sheriff's department.
Bosley emphasized that he has never taken contributions from his employees, because he believed it would create an atmosphere where employees felt pressured.
Bowler said he would not prevent co-workers from contributing, adding that he saw no difference when lobbyists and political action committees make donations to a politician's coffers.
"Bowler wins big"
By Conor Berry, Berkshire Eagle Staff, September 15, 2010
PITTSFIELD -- Tom Bowler was introduced as the "next high sheriff of Berkshire County" Tuesday night.
Bowler, who addressed supporters at the Crowne Plaza in Pittsfield around 9 p.m. Tuesday, announced that Dan Bosley, his Democratic rival, had just called him to concede the election. With no Republicans in the race, Bowler will be sworn in as sheriff on Jan. 3.
With 26 of 32 Berkshire towns reporting unofficial results, Bowler had 12,961 votes to Bosley's 7,128. Results for all 14 of Pittsfield's election precincts indicated Bowler had won more than 80 percent of the vote in the county's largest city -- or 6,128 votes to Bosley's 1,489. In Bosley's home of North Adams, he beat Bowler, 1,630 to 1,035.
Bowler, a veteran Pittsfield police detective, and Bosley, a veteran state lawmaker, engaged in a hard-fought battle to succeed Carmen Massimiano, sheriff since 1978.
At the Crowne Plaza, as the lively crowd erupted into cheers for Bowler, an image of Massimiano lingered on a large television screen at stage right, prompting Bowler supporters to demand someone to shut off the TV. Massimiano appeared in a re-broadcast of a Pittsfield Licensing Board meeting on a local public access channel that also was announcing live election results.
"Can we get that TV off?" bellowed a male Bowler supporter standing on a chair inside the Crowne Plaza's large, packed banquet hall.
As the image of Massimiano continued to create a distraction, more and more people voiced their displeasure.
"Pull the plug," another man shouted loudly, eliciting laughter from the audience.
Seconds later, the TV screen went dark -- and Bowler supporters went wild.
"I have to say this -- I can't say it as well as Eddie Murphy did [in the 1982 film "48 Hours"] -- but ‘There's a new sheriff in town,'" said Bowler, as the crowd rejoiced and broke into a chant of "Pudgy, Pudgy, Pudgy."
Pudgy, or Pudge, is Bowler's nickname. The former standout high school and college athlete, who dropped more than 25 pounds during his campaign against Bosley, vowed to seek out and personally thank supporters.
Bowler said the sheriff's race came down to "politics versus public service." And Bowler pledged to be a public servant, not a politician -- an allusion to Bosley, a state representative since 1987.
"Yes, there is a new sheriff in town, and he works for you," Bowler said.
Bosley said the results of the election spoke for themselves.
"That's a democracy," he said, adding that he phoned Bowler to congratulate him and to offer his support to the veteran police officer, who will oversee the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office and the County Jail & House of Correction.
"It is what it is -- the people have spoken, and that's the way it is," Bosley said of his loss.
Bosley said he would probably take today off, "then get right back at it" as representative of the 1st Berkshire District.
Bosley's last day on the job as a state lawmaker is Jan. 3, and he has no immediate plans for the future.
"I'll be looking for a job," he said.
To reach Conor Berry: firstname.lastname@example.org; (413) 496-6249.
"The new sheriff"
The Berkshire Eagle, Editorial, September 15, 2010
The Carmen Massimiano era neared an end Tuesday with the election of Pittsfield's Tom Bowler as High Sheriff of Berkshire County. The title is anachronistic but the responsibilities are real, and Mr. Bowler appears prepared to fill them.
Carried by a decisive victory in his home city, Mr. Bowler defeated Dan Bosley of North Adams in the hotly contested race to succeed Mr. Massimiano in January. Mr. Bowler emphasized the law enforcement credentials that will be an obvious strength in his new position. He'll need to hone his political skills to gain and protect funding for the many programs under the sheriff's bailiwick that apply not only to law enforcement but to rehabilitation.
The race for sheriff gave residents insight into an office that only an election, the first contested one in three decades, can bring. Mr. Bosley had a sterling 24-year career as state representative from the 1st Berkshire District and we hope that he will find a way to continue to serve the region in the years ahead. ...
"As new sheriff, Bowler will seek a state audit"
By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff, November 24, 2010
PITTSFIELD -- For the first time in 32 years, a new Berkshire County sheriff will take over in January and the incoming sheriff said he will ask the state auditor to review the operation to provide a fresh start.
Sheriff-elect Thomas N. Bowler said an audit will help provide him "with a fresh set of books and a fresh budget."
With an audit, "I will know where I stand when I take office," he said.
Meanwhile, planning for the transition began this week with a meeting between Bowler and Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano Jr. Bowler, a police detective who once worked at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction, said he will spend the next month at the county jail with Massimiano and his staff. Bowler officially takes over on Jan. 5
The last state audit of the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office took place in 2005.
Glenn Briere, the director of communications for outgoing state Auditor A. Joseph DeNucci, said there are about 800 state agencies and each is required to be audited every two years. But the state auditor's resources are limited, and if the agency cannot perform the duty, that task is covered by the state comptroller's office in the commonwealth's annual financial report.
"Just because we haven't done a specific audit with blue covers doesn't mean there hasn't been any kind of coverage," Briere said. "We have limited resources. We try to focus on those areas with the most vulnerability."
The Berkshire County Sheriffs Department came under the state's jurisdiction in 2000 after Berkshire County government was abolished. The 2005 audit determined that the Berkshire Sheriffs Department had "adequate internal control over its financial and program operations and was in compliance with applicable laws, rules and regulations."
But the audit also found a few discrepancies, including inadequate controls over compensatory time recording and usage, the improper recording and usage of sick time, and improvements that were needed over inventory controls.
Massimiano said the discrepancies discovered in the 2005 audit were addressed "immediately."
"Most of them were absolutely minor and were done before the auditor left," he said.
The compensatory and sick time issues resulted from budget issues that occurred when the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction moved from Second Street to the new facility on Cheshire Road in 2001, Massimiano said.
"Going from the old jail to the new jail, I didn't have as much money as I did the last year on Second Street," Massimiano said. "We had to make up in compensatory time what I couldn't pay for. That was taken care of immediately. It was a struggle to get an adequate budget."
To provide additional oversight over state spending, the state Legislature passed a law in 2009 that required the seven remaining county sheriffs offices that still operated autonomously to come under the state's jurisdiction.
The transfer law, which went into effect Jan. 1, required the state to audit each of those departments. The state audited eight sheriffs department in 2010, and performed two others in 2009. The audits did not include Berkshire County's sheriff's operations.
Auditing those sheriff's departments "was a daunting task," Briere said. "That kind of sucked the oxygen out of what we had for sheriffs."
Briere said an audit of the Berkshire Sheriffs Department is "in our audit plan," but added, "I can't give you a date when we will be up there."
However, he said the state auditor often performs transition audits at the request of newly elected public officials when they enter office.
"If a new sheriff requests a transition audit, we would entertain the request," Briere said
Auditor-elect Suzanne Bump will also be stepping into office in January.
"There's a lot going on with their transition," Bowler said. "In January, I will contact them about a transition audit or an audit itself."
"Bowler will be sworn in next week"
By Conor Berry, New England Newspapers: The Berkshire Eagle & The North Adams Transcript, December 30, 2010
PITTSFIELD -- Detective Thomas N. Bowler will officially retire his police badge on Sunday, paving the way for his swearing-in as sheriff next week.
The veteran Pittsfield police officer is scheduled to take the oath of office on Wednesday, Jan. 5 at 3 p.m. at the Berkshire County Courthouse, 76 East St. The public event is expected to draw dignitaries, elected officials and Bowler’s family and supporters.
Berkshire Superior Court Judge John A. Agostini will oversee the swearing-in ceremony, which will be held in Superior Court’s second-floor courtroom. Bowler said he’s honored that Agostini, "my good friend," will initiate the oath of office.
Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless, one of Bowler’s earliest backers, will give the introductory remarks.
The celebration continues from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza, 1 West St. The free public event will be held inside the hotel’s ballroom, the same venue where Bowler supporters gathered to mark his September primary victory over challenger Daniel E. Bosley.
Bowler’s ascendancy to the office of sheriff was hardly something political observers would have predicted when the popular police officer, who had never run for public office, announced he was a candidate for sheriff in January. On Sept. 14, however, Bowler upended conventional political wisdom by routing Bosley, the veteran state lawmaker, in the Democratic primary.
Bowler will succeed Carmen C. Massimiano Jr., a former school teacher and probation officer, who was appointed sheriff in 1978. In 1980, Massimiano faced his first -- and only -- challenger, whom he narrowly defeated.
Massimiano, a Democratic powerbroker whose extended family includes well-known judges and lawyers, originally said he planned to seek another six-year term. But he later announced he would not run again, a decision that coincided with Bowler’s entry into the race.
Massimiano cited the difficulty of running an effective political campaign due to lingering health issues. Bowler was the first candidate to challenge Massimiano since 1980.
Despite being touted as a possible candidate for House speaker during his lengthy Beacon Hill career, Bosley was trounced by Bowler, who received around 13,800 votes to Bosley’s 7,750.
Bowler said it will be tough to say goodbye to his 24-year career as a Pittsfield police officer.
"I’ve had a wonderful career here. It’s been very enjoyable and a great experience," he said Wednesday.
"The people I’ve worked with, I can’t say enough about them. They’ve been a tremendous group of individuals, and I’m going to miss each and every one of them," Bowler said.
Sheriff Tom Bowler flashes a smile in Berkshire Superior Court on Wednesday after being sworn in. He is the first new sheriff in the county since 1978. (Photos by Ben Garver / Berkshire Eagle Staff)
"Sheriff Bowler takes reins"
By Conor Berry, Berkshire Eagle Staff, January 6, 2011
PITTSFIELD -- History was made in less than 20 minutes Wednesday, which is about how long it took to swear in Thomas N. Bowler as the 21st sheriff of Berkshire County.
"I will serve honestly and honorably," Bowler said.
In many ways, the standing-room-only event in Berkshire Superior Court was like a family affair for Bowler, a career police officer who was sworn in as sheriff in front of his family, supporters and "brothers and sisters" from the Pittsfield Police Department, many of whom packed the courtroom.
The room was so full of law enforcement officials -- city police, state police, chiefs from various Berkshire departments and deputies from the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office -- it prompted District Attorney David F. Capeless to wonder if anyone was watching the police station.
The district attorney's light-hearted quip set the tone for the event, a mix of formal pageantry and relaxed familiarity, as many in the room knew each other professionally through the county's tight-knit law enforcement community. There were prosecutors on hand, judges, beat cops and detectives, not to mention narcotics investigators and the entire Massachusetts State Police detective unit attached to Capeless' office.
Also in attendance were many of Bowler's civilian supporters, who helped him defeat veteran state lawmaker Daniel E. Bosley in the Democratic primary for sheriff. With no Republican challenger on the ballot, Bowler glided to an easy victory in November.
But Wednesday was really a chance for those who have worked with Bowler -- befriending him in the process -- to congratulate the Pittsfield native and wish him well in his new role as leader of the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office and its many ancillary functions, from running the county jail to overseeing the county's communications, community corrections and juvenile resource centers.
"For the many years I've known him, I've called him many things. But Thomas was not one of them," Capeless said, eliciting a collective chuckle from the crowd before introducing Bowler.
Capeless said the relationship between the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office and the county's law enforcement community has been good, but is poised to get even better with Bowler at the helm. Bowler "is a man of trust" who engenders trust from others, Capeless said.
Superior Court Judge John A. Agostini then formally administered the oath of office to Bowler, beginning a new chapter in the history of the sheriff's office.
"Sheriff Tom Bowler, congratulations," said Agostini, triggering thunderous applause from the crowd.
With that, Bowler, 51, officially took the reins from Carmen C. Massimiano Jr., the county's sheriff since 1978 and the longest-serving sheriff in county history. Massimiano did not attend the ceremony and did not return messages seeking comment.
Bowler let out a barely audible "wow" before thanking Capeless and Agostini, his friends and colleagues. He praised courthouse personnel and thanked Judge Daniel A. Ford, the presiding justice of Berkshire Superior Court, for allowing the ceremony to be held in Ford's courtroom.
Bowler immediately revisited the most prominent theme in his campaign for sheriff -- collaboration -- stressing the importance of communicating and working closely with other law enforcement and social service agencies in "this dire economy." He also spoke about reducing crime and recidivism rates.
Bowler's message of sharing resources and making the most of existing programs apparently resonated with voters. Nearly twice as many voters supported Bowler over Bosley, the latter of whom proposed numerous new initiatives for the Sheriff's Office but left many wondering how he would pay for them.
When Bowler got around to thanking his family, the ceremony's festive mood was suddenly serious as the new sheriff struggled to keep his emotions at bay.
"Now comes the hard part," said Bowler, thanking his late parents for looking down on him and guiding him.
He also thanked his wife, Dayle, his four children and his many siblings -- Bowler was one of seven children born to Thomas and Anitta Bowler -- for the "strength and courage" to sustain him throughout the long campaign.
During that campaign, Bowler pledged that the best days lay ahead for employees of the Sheriff's Office -- a nod to the difficult times some employees faced under Massimiano's leadership.
"Your best years are here," said Bowler, eliciting sustained applause from the audience.
After flashing a double thumbs-up, Bowler invited everyone to attend a post-swearing-in party at Pittsfield's Crowne Plaza.
To reach Conor Berry: email@example.com, or (413) 496-6249.
Thomas N. Bowler takes the oath of office Wednesday from Judge John Agostini to become the 21st sheriff of Berkshire County. (Ben Garver/New England Newspapers)
Tom Bowler, peering during his swearing-in ceremony Wednesday, gained experience at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction when he served as an assistant deputy superintendent there from 2000 to 2002. (Ben Garver / Berkshire Eagle Staff)
"Amiable Bowler in familiar territory"
By Conor Berry, Berkshire Eagle Staff, January 9, 2011
By all accounts, Tom Bowler is known for his affability. He's the sort of person who likes to talk, and who likes to hear others talk.
Those who know the former detective, who retired a week ago from the Pittsfield Police Department to become Berkshire County's first new sheriff in 32 years, say Bowler, 51, will bring to his new job a natural ability to make people comfortable.
Bowler's amiable approach made it easy for suspects and witnesses to relax in the normally tense environment of the police interview room.
"The guy was amazing the way he put people at ease," said Detective Capt. Patrick F. Barry, commanding officer of the Pittsfield Police Department Detective Bureau.
Barry was Bowler's direct supervisor until Wednesday, when Bowler was sworn in as the county's 21st sheriff during a Berkshire Superior Court ceremony that attracted dozens of law enforcement officials.
"His greatest strength as an investigator was his interviewing skills, and the key to good interviewing skills is your interpersonal skills," Barry said.
Bowler was instrumental in securing several murder confessions and had a gift for getting even tight-lipped suspects to talk, according to Barry.
"We wish him well and we'll miss him," Barry said. "It'll be a loss for 39 Allen St. [the Pittsfield Police Department], but a win for the county."
Back to the jail
Author Thomas Wolfe famously declared, "You can't go home again."
For Bowler, settling into his role as sheriff is sort of like going home again. That's because he previously worked as an assistant deputy superintendent for security affairs at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction from 2000 to 2002.
The major difference between then and now, however, is that Bowler today runs the $34 million jail on Cheshire Road. He's also responsible for supervising about 275 employees, managing a roughly $14 million annual budget, and overseeing the Juvenile Resource Center, the Community Corrections Center and the Communications Center, which serves about two dozen communities in Southern Vermont and Berkshire and Hampden counties.
Bowler replaces Carmen C. Massimiano Jr., who was first appointed sheriff in 1978 and held onto the job until last week, making Massimiano the longest-serving sheriff in county history. When Bowler announced his plans to run for sheriff last January, he became the first person to challenge Massimiano since 1980.
Massimiano, a prominent Democrat whose substantial political clout extends well beyond the Berkshires, initially said he would seek another six-year term. But he withdrew from the race, citing health issues just as Bowler was preparing to challenge him.
Bowler had never run for public office, but he went on to a landslide victory over veteran state lawmaker Dan Bosley in the September Democratic primary. That rendered the November general election virtually irrelevant, considering no Republican was in the race.
One of Bowler's counterparts, Hampden County Sheriff Michael J. Ashe Jr., said Bowler has made all the right moves so far. Ashe said he was impressed with Bowler's desire to learn as much as possible about the job before taking office.
"Tom Bowler took the time to come here after he was elected and spent the better part of a day learning about the operational efficiencies and regional cooperation that were put in place over the years," Ashe said.
"To me, it said a great deal, that he was already working hard to be the most knowledgeable sheriff that he could be even before he was officially sworn in. His coming here, as he did, laid the groundwork for future mutual efforts by our counties, which will benefit all of us in terms of cost savings and public safety."
Bowler also spent time last month with Massimiano and his staff to familiarize himself with the jail's daily operations and protocol. Bowler has declined to say how the training went. Massimiano did not respond to requests for comment, nor did he attend Bowler's swearing-in ceremony Wednesday.
In late November, Bowler said he would request a state audit of the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office to get a better sense of the agency's fiscal health. A 2005 audit determined that sick time was improperly used and recorded, and controls over the use and recording of compensatory time were inadequate.
Massimiano has said those discrepancies were "minor" and were resolved immediately. A spokesman for the state auditor confirmed in November that the Sheriff's Office is "in our audit plan," but he did not pinpoint a timeline for the procedure.
Taking the helm of a county agency that had only one leader for the past three decades is a tall order, but Bowler said he's eager to get to work. That includes putting his campaign theme of "collaboration" into action by working closely with his deputies, cementing bonds with law enforcement officials -- many of whom supported Bowler's bid for sheriff -- and forging relationships with the state's other 13 sheriffs.
Taking the helm of a county agency that had only one leader for the past three decades is a tall order, but Bowler said he's eager to get to work. That includes putting his campaign theme of "collaboration" into action by working closely with his deputies, cementing bonds with law enforcement officials -- many of whom supported Bowler's bid for sheriff -- and forging relationships with the state's other 13 sheriffs.
Hampshire County Sheriff Robert J. Garvey said he's eager to begin working with Bowler.
"I have every confidence that he will use his experiences in the criminal justice area to great advantage in the administration of the Berkshire [County] Sheriff's Office," Garvey said.
Garvey said Bowler is fortunate to follow Massimiano, "a very dedicated and talented administrator," and is lucky to acquire "a wonderful staff with a wealth of experience."
Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless was the first elected official to publicly endorse Bowler for sheriff. Capeless said Bowler was eminently qualified for the post, praising the detective's "exceptional abilities," common sense and keen intelligence.
The endorsement came early in the campaign during a meeting of the Berkshire County Police Chiefs Association, which unanimously backed Bowler. Lenox Police Chief Stephen E. O'Brien, a member of the association, has credited Bowler with displaying "honesty, integrity and an impeccable work ethic like he displays his badge every day."
As Bowler picked up more support from unions representing police officers, court officers, correctional officers and other employees, Bosley's campaign struggled to get off the ground.
Bowler supporters quickly covered the county with lawn signs, implying that the cop was winning the ground war, while Bosley didn't start planting placards until the summer.
Bowler's decisive victory over Bosley -- the detective's 14,000-plus vote tally was nearly double the veteran politician's total -- prompted Bowler to speculate that his win might encourage other political newcomers to seek public office.
Simply put, Bowler wasn't supposed to beat Bosley, the savvy, seasoned politician who hadn't lost an election in his quarter-century career on Beacon Hill. At points during his tenure, Bosley was touted as a possible candidate for House speaker.
Bosley, who didn't return messages seeking comment for this article, criticized Bowler during the campaign for lacking a vision for the sheriff's office. Bosley said Bowler was big on bromides and short on ideas, while the representative seemingly proposed new initiatives every week.
Despite Bosley's name recognition, his hiring of a public relations firm known for waging incisive political campaigns, and his receiving support from many establishment Democrats, the man who could have been speaker lost to the cop with an army of grass-roots campaign workers.
"I've been preparing for this job my whole life," said Bowler, a strong competitor since his days as a standout athlete in college and high school.
Bowler said becoming sheriff is really an opportunity to expand upon his 24-year career as a law enforcement officer. After his brief stint at the county jail last decade, he yearned to get back to his first love -- police work.
Bowler said he missed the investigative work he did as a Pittsfield detective. By 2002, he was on the job again -- first as a uniformed cop, then as a plainclothes detective.
"It was my pleasure to recommend him as a detective when he came back from working at the jail," Barry said.
No rush decisions
As sheriff, Bowler will earn more than $123,000 a year, making him the second-highest-paid elected official in the county after the district attorney, who earns nearly $150,000 annually.
Bowler's staff includes jail Superintendent Jack Quinn, assistant superintendents, sheriff's deputies, correctional officers and civilian personnel, but he said he isn't ready to consider any personnel changes.
"I'll wait to see how things work," Bowler said.
As one of 14 sheriffs in Massachusetts, Bowler now belongs to a group that includes former prosecutors, social workers, probation officers and police officers, according to James F. Walsh, executive director of the Massachusetts Sheriffs' Association.
The association serves as a support agency for sheriffs and is "very pleased" to add Bowler to its ranks, Walsh said.
"At the same time, we are a bit sad that the 32-year legacy of Sheriff Carmen Massimiano is coming to a close and wish to be mindful of [his] significant contributions to the county corrections profession," Walsh added.
The association's first meeting with Bowler is scheduled for Thursday in Worcester.
To reach Conor Berry: firstname.lastname@example.org; (413) 496-6249.
Berkshire County Sheriff Thomas N. Bowler, seen here in front of the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction, is only four months into his term and is already fighting possible budget cuts that could lead to the layoff of up to 5 percent of his staff. (Photos by Ben Garver / Berkshire Eagle Staff)
"Sheriff Bowler battling looming cutbacks"
By Clarence Fanto, Berkshire Eagle Staff, May 14, 2011
PITTSFIELD -- Four months into what he calls the busiest period of his public safety career, Berkshire County Sheriff Thomas N. Bowler is battling potential state budget cuts that could force layoffs affecting up to 5 percent of his staff, or approximately 10 employees, at the Jail & House of Correction.
"The staff has been placed on notice, since I felt it was very important to let them know layoffs were imminent," he told The Eagle.
"It's hard times all over," Bowler acknowledged during a three-hour interview and tour of the Cheshire Road facility. "I'm not resigned to the worst-case outcome, but I'm prepared for it and I'm still hopeful.
"It's very disheartening because you have an agency here that gives so much back to the community. You have a very loyal and dedicated staff and an inmate population that's going to suffer," he said.
The department's current budget of $14,396,000 would be cut $288,000, or 2 percent, if the proposed fiscal 2012 budget of $14,108,000 is approved.
Bowler warned that "if our budgets keep getting cut, we're going to make institutions like this very unsafe and we'll end up being a warehouse for inmates. It's a no-win situation and I have concerns for the community. I can't compromise security. If we have to cut back on programs and treatment, the community does suffer."
State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, said since there has been an uptick in state tax revenues, the Senate could restore some funding to sheriff's departments statewide.
"It's halftime with this game called the budget," he said.
The House completed budget action three weeks ago. Any changes made by the Senate would go to a conference committee to work out differences.
Pignatelli said that the Berkshire County Sheriff's Department budgets have been underfunded for many years, "but we have a new sheriff and the Senate has an obligation to consider how the additional tax revenue can be spent. But it's not going to be what the sheriff wants to have because of the times we're in."
Bowler has been shuttling back and forth to Boston, meeting with the 13 other county sheriffs, attending budget hearings and meetings.
The sheriff said he was dismayed to learn that, in addition to a projected 2 percent cut in his operating budget, the state will not fund a scheduled 3 percent raise for fiscal 2012 negotiated by unionized employees through collective bargaining.
"It's kind of hard to swallow," he said, describing the total impact as a $1.2 million drop from current spending. "We have agonized over every possible scenario."
According to state Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield, the "somewhat increased state revenue gives us a compelling case to try to reduce the amount of cuts the sheriff faces. I'll be doing everything I can, and my hope is that if we can get the collective-bargaining funded for the year, we can be in a much better position to avoid cuts in services at the jail."
With 345 inmates listed on the prison census as of Thursday, the Jail & House of Correction is seeing the effects of a so-far unexplained statewide drop in the crime rate this year. But Bowler contended that the facility, with a potential capacity of 500, remains understaffed as it has been from the day it opened in 2001.
The sheriff described growing drug-related, gang-fueled violence in Pittsfield, and advocated a collaborative effort involving federal, state, local and correctional authorities.
"We should all be on the same page, sharing information," he said.
Members of the Crips, Bloods, Latin Kings and other gangs who have been active in Berkshire County are now in prison locally or in the state system, actively recruiting new members, according to Bowler. His goal is to share information with District Attorney David Capeless, as well as probation and parole departments in a combined effort to fight any expansion of gang influence.
According to Bowler, his department could have handled the 2 percent cut to the operating budget, but the state's failure to fund the terms of the collective bargaining agreement requires the anticipated staff reduction from the current total of 207, full- and part-time staffers.
He listed a long series of contract givebacks imposed on his staff by state cuts over the past several years, including 20 furlough days last year. "It's way too much for us to absorb," he said.
"My biggest disappointment and my biggest challenge is this budget," Bowler said. "The disappointment comes from dealing with the state. It's very, very difficult and disheartening."
Sheriff's budget by the numbers
Source: Sheriff's Department Superintendent John J. Quinn Jr.
"Sheriff's department gets high marks in audit"
By Clarence Fanto, Berkshire Eagle Staff, May 14, 2011
PITTSFIELD -- Preliminary findings from a financial audit by the state commissioned by Berkshire County Sheriff Thomas N. Bowler indicate no irregularities in his department.
Bowler disclosed the findings this week during an interview with The Eagle.
The six-week investigation by State Auditor Suzanne Bump's office determined that the Sheriff's Department's internal-control policies were "very efficient," said Superintendent John J. Quinn. However, the final report from auditor John Wilkes will include a series of "best practices" recommendations.
Bowler said he wrote to Bump's office during his first week in office last January requesting the audit, which was conducted from early February to mid-March. He characterized the result as similar to an A-minus report card.
"We're still waiting for the final written report," Bowler explained. "But based on conversations we've had with the auditors, there were some areas that needed adjustment on procedures. Fiscally, this facility was in order, in good shape."
According to Bowler, the "best practices" recommendations from the auditors included "some things we could do to enhance what we have already, but they felt that our internal control-policies here could be a pilot for other agencies, other sheriff's departments throughout the state. They were very, very impressed with our control policies. Our budget is reviewed every single day internally."
The state audit uncovered no issues with payroll or personnel, Bowler said. "There were no illegalities, nothing is missing."
The best practices recommendations involve better software for asset management, unclaimed $7-a-day witness fees, as well as telephone and canteen revenue from inmates that should be returned to the state. Also, meals provided to officers on duty require payment by the staff. Other unclaimed funds from the inmate canteen also were listed as due to the state treasurer's office instead of being held by the Sheriff's Department.
Describing his first four months in office, Bowler emphasized that he was "very well-received when I came here, and every single day I am truly amazed at the display of professionalism from every employee. This has been a tremendous move for me."
Bowler was sworn in Jan. 5, succeeding Sheriff Carmen Massimiano, who had served for three decades.
Bowler, a 24-year Pittsfield police detective who spent 18 months under Massimiano as an assistant superintendent for security in 2000 and 2001, vowed to create an atmosphere of transparency.
Apart from his budget challenges, Bowler said his top priority was to "create a better working environment" by spending most of his time interacting with inmates and staff.
"It's very hands-on," he said. "We are running bare-bones with the budget, so if I treat people with respect and decency, pat them on the back for a job well-done, they see that I appreciate what they do, and that goes a long way."
He declined to discuss the approach of his predecessor, asserting that every sheriff adopts an individual philosophy.
"Our primary responsibility is the care and custody of our 345 inmates," he said. "The majority of the people housed here are getting out. We provide these individuals with the educational and life skills they lack, deal with their alcohol and drug abuse, and provide them with tools so that when they are back out in society, they're able to withstand negative influences.
"We try to keep them very structured here," he added. "Work is very important for a lot of these people, and we provide them with that."
Inmates handle landscaping, perform kitchen duty, serve on roadside litter cleanup crews and on the sheriff's pothole-repair unit for Pittsfield, along with many other assignments.
Bowler said he has been pleasantly surprised at his reception by the inmates.
"I knew it was very important for me to interact with them every day, they need to know who you are and understand what this place is about," he said. "It's going better than I anticipated."
He also cited a recent accreditation report by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care.
"We're nearly No. 1 out of 500 facilities accredited," Bowler said. "They told us that the Berkshire County House of Correction should write the book on suicide prevention."
In addition, the American Correctional Association's 2008 accreditation of the facility will be reviewed later this year.
"They'll be back in November and we're expecting 100 percent compliance," Bowler said. "We are among 144 out of 3,750 adult detention facilities in the country that earned this distinguished accreditation, and I can't take credit for that."
He described the honor as a tribute to the staff during Massimiano's administration.
"Budget cuts lead Bowler to lay off 9"
By Clarence Fanto, Berkshire Eagle Staff, May 17, 2011
PITTSFIELD -- In anticipation of a fourth year of sharp state budget cuts for the Berkshire County Jail and House of Correction, Sheriff Thomas N. Bowler has laid off nine staffers, amounting to a nearly 5 percent reduction in his staff.
"What I had expected has now become a reality," Bower told The Eagle Monday afternoon. He said the nine people let go -- seven full-timers and two part-timers -- were not correctional officers but were administrative and support staffers.
In addition, three scheduled retirements have brought the total number of employees at the Cheshire Street facility and the Howard Street alcohol-rehabilitation center from 207 to 195.
"This doesn't mean we stop fighting for funding," Bowler said.
The sheriff said he is heading back to Boston this week to try to work out additional savings with legislative leaders.
The state budget is now wending its way through the Senate. State Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield, has said he's pushing efforts to restore $500,000 in lost funding for the third year of scheduled contract raises at the Berkshire facility. The state withdrew funding for the 3 percent raise earlier this year.
"Our Berkshire delegation has been tremendously supportive during this ordeal," Bowler said. "I've relied on them to help with our funding issues and they are following through and doing their due diligence."
Asked if the layoffs had been accelerated following his recent description of them as imminent, he responded that "there's a difficult and complicated process our financial team had to go through. Once it was completed, rather than wait, I took immediate action. If I had waited until the fiscal year begins [July 1], that would have doubled the layoffs. I had to pay them out -- vacation pay, for example -- and all those things have to come into play."
As Bowler put it, "our budget crisis is no secret. We had to look at all the different scenarios and once we decided, I didn't want to prolong it."
Depending on the outcome of the final budget action in Boston, the sheriff acknowledged the possibility that some of the staffers let go could be rehired. "But there also could be more layoffs," he warned.
For fiscal 2012 that begins July 1, Bowler said, the Sheriff's Department requested $15.7 million in funding to cover operations as well as scheduled raises through collective bargaining, along with step and longevity increases, but received $14.1 million in the budget approved by the state House of Representatives late last month.
"Our goal is, hopefully, to restore the funding and bring people back," he said.
Bowler said the average salary for staff at the jail and House of Correction ranges from $48,000 to $50,000.
"It doesn't feel good to have to send people home through no fault of their own because we don't receive the funding," he said. "It's disturbing and upsetting."
From fiscal 2009, when the budget was $16,259,000, severe cuts brought it down to $14,396,000 for the current year, with an additional cut of $188,000 in operating funds plus a $1 million loss representing two years of unfunded raises, according to statistics supplied by the Sheriff's Department.
"Budget crunch squeezes sheriff"
By Clarence Fanto, New England Newspapers: The Berkshire Eagle & The North Adams Transcript, 9/6/2011
PITTSFIELD - Despite an aggressive lobbying effort by Sheriff Thomas N. Bowler, the budget crunch affecting his department as well as the Berkshire County Jail and House of Correction remains as formidable as it was last spring.
The facility suffered a 2 percent budget reduction this year, aggravated by a state decision not to cover the cost of a scheduled 3 percent raise for unionized staffers. That amounted to a 5 percent slash, Bowler explained, since the raises had to be funded internally.
As a result, the correctional officers' union and the communications workers' union have agreed to take 12 furlough days this year. "To take the sting out of it, they're working for free two hours once a week over the course of the year," explained Superintendent John J. Quinn during a joint interview with New England Newspapers in the sheriff's office last week.
"We worked together with the union to come up with this solution to save jobs," said Bowler. The current fiscal year runs from July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012.
"Because of retirements and attrition, we have saved and kept our budget on track," Bowler added. Now, hiring is under way to fill as many as four vacant security department positions, including correctional line officers and custodial staffers. Last spring, Bowler laid off nine administrative support staffers.
"We are in dire need of security," Bowler emphasized. "We are understaffed when it comes to line officers and our custodial staff."
Through savings from retirements, Bowler hopes to identify several qualified candidates to attend an eight-week training academy starting in late October under the supervision of Franklin County Sheriff Chistopher Donelan in Greenfield.
The current inmate count of 349 at the Berkshire County facility is hovering below the typical average of 400, not because crime is down but because the judicial system is affected by vacations, slowing the pace of convictions. The inmate capacity is 468, said Quinn. The current staff count, including the jail, the communications department and the Juvenile Resource Center, is 195. The average salary runs from $45,000 to $50,000.
Over the past three years, the state has cut the annual budget for the sheriff's department and the jail facility from $16.3 million in 2009-10 to $14.4 million in 2010-11 and $14.1 million in the current budget year.
"We're looking to get a waiver from the state to save some indirect costs of about $73,000," said Quinn. "We're trying all these different things." He credited state Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield, for helping win legislative approval of the reductions involving billing for communications costs.
Bowler said community service projects by inmates have been stepped up since he was sworn in at the beginning of the year, succeeding Sheriff Carmen Massimiano. As an example, Bowler listed cleanup efforts at St. Joseph's Cemetery following a microburst storm earlier this summer, as well as other projects from Great Barrington to Clarksburg. On a typical day, 36 inmates are assigned to such efforts.
“Mayor is aggressive on public safety”
The Berkshire Eagle, Letters, September 18, 2015
To the editor:
Since Dan Bianchi was elected mayor four years ago, I've been participating in monthly meetings of the mayor's Public Safety Task Force to keep him updated on what we know about criminal activity in the city, and to discuss strategies to prevent crime. I know first-hand that Mayor Bianchi is very well informed about public safety issues and is willing to listen. These meetings have led to working together to implement changes in tactics where needed, and those changes have been successful.
I've been in law enforcement my entire adult life, with most of those years spent as a police detective. Now, as sheriff, I still have access to a great deal of information about potential situations, which is always shared with the appropriate law enforcement agencies. Despite having as much information as possible, we don't always know when the next gang member is going to obtain an illegal firearm and choose to shoot someone in a rival gang. Those instances are obviously impossible to predict and prevent.
Despite that fact, what is proving to be very helpful is the city's Shannon Grant, which Mayor Bianchi secured in his first year in office and which has been renewed and increased every year. This grant specifically targets gang violence — the focus of the most severe problem in Pittsfield — and funds the Communities Connections program where many committed individuals are working hard with at-risk youth. The problem is investing in these youth to show them that they are able to choose a different path other than the gang lifestyle that only leads to death or being in and our of our criminal justice system.
Having our youth engaged in productive activities is one of the best ways to prevent violent crime that plagues many urban areas across our nation. The mayor deserves many kudos for obtaining and growing this grant program.
Mayor Bianchi is one of the most ethical and hard-working individuals that I know. I've watched him make difficult decisions for Pittsfield without any regard to politics. I know he cares deeply for the people of this city and has a vision for Pittsfield that I share.
He has earned our support as mayor. Dan is the same man we elected four years ago, with one important difference: he has moved our city forward.
I proudly and strongly endorse his candidacy for re-election and ask that you join me in voting for Mayor Dan Bianchi.
Thomas N. Bowler, Pittsfield
The writer is Berkshire County sheriff.
“Collaborative style benefits North Adams”
The Berkshire Eagle, Letters, October 27, 2015
To the editor:
Leadership has many faces, and for the city of North Adams, that face is Mayor Dick Alcombright.
Since becoming your sheriff, I have had the opportunity to work with Mayor Alcombright in varying capacities related to public safety. He has called me on many occasions seeking assistance from the sheriff's department, from the two hurricanes, the collapse of the cell tower, helping with the crackdown on drugs and assisting with public events. Mayor Alcombright is a collaborator and does not operate in a vacuum.
Dick has fostered relationships throughout Berkshire County that have and continue to benefit those he serves. While to some his leadership style is perceived to be "quiet," rest assured that he is "very loud" when it comes to speaking for the needs of his community and the residents he serves.
Underneath that smiling and soft-spoken face, you can trust that inside there is a leader who is tough but with empathy, collaborative but with determination, and intelligent but with great common sense. Dick Alcombright is a leader in every sense of the word and I wholeheartedly support his re-election on Nov. 3.
Thomas Bowler, Pittsfield
The writer is Berkshire County sheriff.
Berkshire County Sheriff Thomas Bowler chats with North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright on Thursday at the Berkshire Hills Country Club in Pittsfield. Bowler formally launched his bid for another six-year term. (Jim Therrien — The Berkshire Eagle)
"Berkshire County Sheriff Thomas Bowler launches re-election bid"
By Jim Therrien, The Berkshire Eagle, April 8, 2016
PITTSFIELD - During an event attended by more than 200 area residents and numerous public officials, Berkshire County Sheriff Thomas Bowler on Thursday formally launched his campaign for another term.
"This has been an honor and a privilege for the past five and a half years," Bowler told supporters gathered at the Berkshire Hills Country Club in Pittsfield.
The incumbent, first elected in 2010 is thus far unopposed for another six-year term as head of the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office and administrator of the Jail and House of Correction
"I've got 31 years in public service, as a police officer and a sheriff," Bowler said. "Very easy to retire."
But he said he remains enthusiastic about his job and is inspired by working with others in the field. He paid tribute to the Pittsfield Police Department, where he worked 24 years before running for sheriff.
"The people I worked with, bar none, are some of the most talented — just great comrades, intelligent and wonderful people I've ever worked with," Bowler said. "There wasn't a day I did not want to go to work. I enjoyed my job immensely, as a police officer, and because of the people I worked with and the people of this community."
He said he feels fortunate today because, "I'm working with some of the most talented individuals in Berkshire County ... I'm proud to work with them, proud to serve with them, and most importantly, I'm proud to serve all of you."
Bowler added, "Because of you, your confidence in me, your generosity, your support, we've been able to accomplish a great deal over the last five and a half years."
He referred to the department's emphasis on a collaborative approach to inmate education, providing medical and mental health services and job experiences, leading into post-incarceration efforts to help them transition back into society.
"I'm very proud to say, I am going again for another six years," Bowler said.
The event was attended by a number of municipal and state officials and candidates for state offices this year, along with many officials in law enforcement or public safety throughout the county.
Bowler is a 1978 graduate of Taconic High School and a graduate of American International College in Springfield, where he earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice in 1982 and a master's degree in criminal justice in 1988.
Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247. email@example.com @BE_therrien on Twitter.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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