Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I turned 39 (2014)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Smitty PIGnatelli's undemocratic proposal


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Smitty PIGnatelli is undermining the will of the people by sponsoring legislation that would gut 2008's Question 2 that removed criminal penalties for possessing an ounce of marijuana. H. 477 filed by Representative Smitty PIGnatelli seeks to re-criminalize possession of an ounce or less of marijuana if captured on school, youth center, or community center grounds. Does "Smitty" PIGnatelli really want teenagers to once again receive a criminal history and possibly go to jail?

I found the news story at the following web link:
www.tauntongazette.com/newsnow/x1872804044/Guest-Opinion-A-regulated-marijuana-market-is-better-than-a-black-market

The author of the news story concludes: "What I know for sure is that when making such proposals they are not adhering to the fundamental principles of our government founded upon the consent of the governed and those of justice, moderation and frugality, absolutely necessary to preserve the advantages of liberty, and to maintain a free government.”

Smitty PIGnatelli is an undemocratic politician. PIGnatelli voted for top-down Speakers (now convicted felons) Tom Finneran & Sal DiMasi. PIGnatelli has come out in opposition of sunshine laws that would subject the state Legislature to open meeting laws and accountable governance. Now, PIGnatelli is undermining the will of the people who voted to decriminalize possession of an ounce of marijuana. PIGnatelli wants teenagers to have a criminal history and possibly go to jail for possessing an ounce of marijuana.

www.topix.com/forum/city/pittsfield-ma/TLUVTF654JODJACUO/p14

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Guest Opinion: "A regulated marijuana market is better than a black market."
By Steve Epstein - Op-Ed - The Taunton Gazette - October 21, 2011

Two members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation and four members of the Massachusetts legislature endorse ending marijuana prohibition. The rest of our congressional delegation has yet to catch up with Barney Frank and Michael Capuano, and 196 members of the state legislature have yet to catch up with Ellen Story of Amherst, Ruth Balser of Newton, Lori Ehrlich of Marblehead and Anne Gobi of Spencer.

These representatives understand, as did a majority in a recent Gallup Poll, that a regulated market is better than a black market.

There are nine representatives on Beacon Hill who continue to suffer from reefer madness. Although it is difficult to assess who suffers the worst case, here are nine nominees. Is it Democrat James M. Murphy of Weymouth, Republican Todd Smola of Palmer, William “Smitty” Pignatelli of Lenox, George Ross of Attleboro, Gailanne Cariddi of North Adams? They are all sponsoring legislation that would gut 2008’s Question 2 that removed criminal penalties for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana.

A proposition supported statewide by more than 64 percent of the voters.

Alternatively, is it John Binienda and John Fresolo both representing Worcester who suffer more? They are the only sponsors of H. 3138, proposing a doubling and in some cases, quintupling of the penalties on those caught engaging in growing or commerce in marijuana.

Representative Murphy’s H 1836 repeals Question 2, while giving municipalities the option of accepting it. His H 1837 restores the criminal law to offenders encountered just about everywhere police are likely to encounter it. In 2009 and again this session this former Assistant District Attorney has filed these bills without co-sponsors.

Representative Smola’s H 507 seeks to make marijuana possession of any amount the only “possession only” controlled substance offense subject to a mandatory minimum 2-year sentence if possessed within 1000 feet of a school or 100 feet of a park. He files this, while legislation seeking to reduce expense to the taxpayers by reducing the number of non-violent offenders serving mandatory minimum sentences is making headway in the legislature. His H 508 seeks to reinstate criminal penalties for possession upon the operator of a motor vehicle in which police find marijuana in the passenger compartment, even if in a passenger’s pocket.

Alone this year, in 2009 Jeffrey Perry, Elizabeth Poirier and Richard Ross joined him. Jeff Perry has left the state legislature. Richard Ross won the Special Election to fill Scott Brown’s seat and may have recovered. Elizabeth Poirier also may have recovered from her reefer madness.

Perhaps the realization that more than 62 percent of their constituents voted for Question 2 cured them with a booster shot in November 2010 when a similar percentage told Ms. Poirier and other representatives in the area to “vote in favor of legislation that would allow patients, with their doctor’s written recommendation, to possess, grow, and purchase marijuana for medical use.”

Finally, there is H. 477 filed by representatives Pignatelli, Ross and Cariddi. It seeks to re-criminalize possession of an ounce or less of marijuana if captured on school, youth center, or community center grounds. Do they really want teenagers to once again receive a criminal history and possibly go to jail?

I leave it to you to decide which of these nine legislators suffers the worst case of reefer madness. What I know for sure is that when making such proposals they are not adhering to the fundamental principles of our government founded upon the consent of the governed and those of justice, moderation and frugality, “absolutely necessary to preserve the advantages of liberty, and to maintain a free government.”

Steven S. Epstein, Esq. practices law in Georgetown, and is a founder and officer of the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition.

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"Rep. Pignatelli: Track drunken drivers' licenses"
By Trevor Jones, Berkshire Eagle Staff, June 2, 2012

BOSTON -- State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli on Friday introduced legislation intended to curb the potentially deadly impact of repeat drunken drivers getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.

Pignatelli’s bill would require anyone whose license had been revoked or suspended due to a drunken driving conviction to get a new license, when eligible, with a red stripe prominently displayed across its face for a period of two years.

The Lenox Democrat said the idea sprang from a meeting of friends and family of Moira Banks-Dobson that was organized by Castle Street Cafe owner Michael Ballon in March. The gathering was held in the wake of the Feb. 28 multi-car crash in Sheffield that killed the 24-year-old resident and severely injured another driver, Russell Brown of Great Barrington.

That crash was allegedly caused by Frederick Weller, 35, of Sandy Hook, Conn., who was seen swerving in and out of traffic on Route 7 before crashing head-on into Brown’s and Banks-Dobson’s vehicles. Weller is facing multiple felony charges, including motor vehicle homicide while under the influence of alcohol and fifth offense drunken driving.

The drunken driving charge was actually Weller’s seventh in four states since 1994, but the maximum charge in Mas sachusetts is fifth offense.

Pignatelli said the purpose of the red stripe would be to give bars, restaurants and package stores pause before excessively serving someone with a past record.

"I don’t look at it as a scarlet letter," said Pignatelli. "I look at it as raising awareness and making the people selling the alcohol more aware and more in tune with the societal problem we have with drinking and driving."

Because the bill was introduced near the end of the legislative session, it likely won’t pass this year. The reason to introduce the bill now, he said, was to raise awareness heading into the prom and graduation season.

Pignatelli said he will push hard to pass the bill next session if he’s re-elected. There are similar laws in Georgia and other states, he said.

Pignatelli said Massachusetts has some of the toughest drunken driving laws in the nation and he acknowledged his bill won’t stop people from driving while intoxicated if they really want to. But if it ends up saving just one life, he said, it will be a success.

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"Pignatelli, Laugenour battle over income taxes, marijuana, nonprofits, leadership"
By Clarence Fanto, Berkshire Eagle, October 23, 2012

GREAT BARRINGTON -- In a fiercely combative public debate, 4th Berkshire District state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, and Green-Rainbow Party candidate Scott Laugenour tangled on state income tax rates, a binding ballot question on legalizing medical marijuana, a potential proposal to tax nonprofits, and leadership issues.

The one-hour debate was attended by about 50 citizens at Monument Mountain Regional High School on Monday night.

"The fire in the belly is strong, the passion for this job is as great as it ever was," said Pignatelli, 53, seeking his sixth two-year term in Boston. The 4th Berkshire District, under redistricting, expands to 20 towns in Berkshire and Hampden Counties as of the new year. The House district will be the largest geographically in the state, stretching from Richmond to Russell.

"I'm proud of the tough votes I've taken, and I can defend, if I even need to be defending, every vote," declared Pignatelli.

Laugenour, 55, is re-challenging Pignatelli, who took 83 percent of the ballots in their 2010 matchup. He emphasized his policy of accepting every public discussion opportunity offered and criticized his opponent for setting a limit on the number of debates. There are two more coming up.

Outlining his 25-year management career with Marriott Resorts, Laugenour explained that his goal is to "challenge lobbyists' power and expose corporate influence on legislation" and he stressed openness, transparency and "an innovative approach to democracy" based on his independence from major political parties.

Calling for upending the state's "regressive tax policy," Laugenour proposed eliminating state income taxes on the first $46,000 of income, while raising the rate to 8.3 percent above that threshold. The current Massachusetts income tax rate is 5.3 percent of gross income. According to Laugenour, his plan would produce $1.5 billion in new revenue for the state.

But Pignatelli countered that Laugenour's progressive tax proposal would require changing the state's constitution, which currently requires a flat tax on all personal income. Attempts to amend the constitution for a progressive rate failed in 1976 and 1994, according to the independent Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.

Laugenour denied that a constitutional amendment would be needed for his income tax proposal, which he claimed would result in lower taxes for income below $90,000.

As an alternative, Pignatelli proposed a review of how state tax dollars are spent, citing a $54 million credit to Evergreen Solar Inc., the clean energy company in Devens that declared bankruptcy six months later, closed its factory, cut 800 jobs and shifted production to China. "That's a waste of $54 million," Pignatelli stated. He described Laugenour's tax plan "as the wrong policy at this stage of the game. Let's not raise taxes and put an additional burden on people's pocketbooks."

Outlining the battle to win a fair share of state aid for regional school districts such as Berkshire Hills, Pignatelli said, "I don't think my opponent has any idea of what happens in the state Legislature on the priorities we have. We've got to fight the fights we can win, we've got to be willing to compromise on the ones we can't, but it's all about the [4th Berkshire] district first."

Pignatelli blasted a proposal endorsed by his opponent to tax nonprofits such as Tanglewood, which pays in lieu of taxes and injects $63 million into the county's economy annually during its summer season, and organizations such as the Railroad Street Youth Program in Great Barrington, which deals with at-risk young people. "We need to be very careful, we'd be putting them out of business," Pignatelli said.

Laugenour called the incumbent's statement "a gross mischaracterization," explaining that he signed a petition circulated by Mount Washington resident Gail Garrett calling for an examination of nonprofits based on a definition of charity "that predominantly helps the poor. The nonprofit sector has morphed into something quite large. There were no proposals there, it was an opportunity to begin discussions."

Asked about support for statewide ballot question 3, which would legalize marijuana for medical purposes as of Jan. 1 if approved, Laugenour voiced his support in a brief statement, while Pignatelli expressed in detail "very serious reservations" about the language of the proposal, which he termed "very open-ended and very loose, there's not even an age restriction."

He called marijuana a "gateway, not for everybody but for some people" to more serious drugs such as heroin. According to Pignatelli, "there's no medical proof that marijuana actually has any healing agents, it may provide some comfort." He predicted the binding referendum would pass on Nov. 6, "but then the Legislature is going to have to fix it."

Laugenour accused Pignatelli of "double-dipping" by "claiming travel deductions on federal tax returns that are already reimbursed by state taxpayers." Pignatelli told The Eagle on Tuesday that the federal tax code allows state lawmakers who must travel more than 50 miles from their districts to claim the deductions, which he compared to deducting interest on home mortgages.

Questions were prepared and presented by student moderators Bridget Monti and Kevin Marzotto, with followups by Meghan St. John, an English and journalism teacher at Monument High and adviser to the student newspaper, the Maroon Tribune. William Fields, a retired social studies teacher, served as emcee. Written queries submitted by audience members were included. Earlier, the candidates discussed the issues in a high school civics class and at a session with reporters, covering many of the same topics.

The candidates debate again at the Lenox Library on Wednesday, Oct. 31, at 7:30 p.m.

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December 15, 2014

Re: Smitty Pignatelli's real public record

Lenox State Representative William "Smitty" Pignatelli's real public record includes voting for top-down State House Speakers/Convicted Felons Tom Finneran and Sal DiMasi. Pignatelli opposes sunshine laws for the State House. Pignatelli spoke in favor of behind closed doors meetings to decide important state government policies. In 2008, the voters in Massachusetts endorsed decriminalizing one ounce or less of marijuana possession. Since then, Pignatelli targeted youth who possess one ounce or less of marijuana near a school, youth center, or community center grounds. Pignatelli wants to ruin the future of youth by giving them a criminal record so they won't receive student loans for college or be able to get a good job due to a criminal record. In this year of 2014, Pignatelli ran unopposed for re-election for State Representative. Pignatelli spoke out about how it is a good thing to run unopposed because he believes the people support him. Pignatelli doesn't believe it is due to the high cost of campaigning, insider politics, and voter apathy. After all, Pignatelli is a career politician due to all of these aforementioned civic problems. In the winter of early 2004, I asked Pignatelli to sign my nomination papers for Berkshire State Senator. Pignatelli looked at me and lied, saying to me, "I don't sign nomination papers." I knew right then and there that Pignatelli is not a man of the people. Instead, Pignatelli is a top-down state government politician who supports corrupt, top-down House Speakers, behind closed-door politics, and targets youths who use a small amount of marijuana to ruin their futures by giving them criminal records. Pignatelli represents top-down politics of the banal!

- Jonathan Melle

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"More ‘sunshine’ a must: State law needs reboot"
By Colman M. Herman, The Boston Herald, January 16, 2015

There is an adage that goes information is the currency of democracy. The trick is how to pry the information loose.

In Massachusetts we have the Public Records Law at our disposal. Sometimes it can help uncover waste and incompetence in government. But the sad reality is that the law is in need of a major overhaul.

One glaring problem is that the Legislature and the judiciary are not covered by it, and governors back to Paul Cellucci have claimed that they are not covered either, relying on one legal case in which they twist the court’s reasoning to suit their purposes.

Every year many pieces of legislation are introduced that would improve the Public Records Law, but they go nowhere.

In the session just ended, for example, Rep. Peter Kocot (D-Northampton) introduced legislation that would have established a special commission to explore whether the Legislature should be subject to the Public Records Law. It would also have limited the fees that can be charged for public records, mandated the providing of more records in electronic form, and required state agencies to post reports, decisions and votes.

But the bill died a quiet death. I strongly believe that it was deep-sixed because legislators wanted no part of any law that might expose the details of their dealings — heaven forbid!

Kocot says he will refile the bill in this session.

Besides exempting key elected public officials, the law has 70 or so exemptions that officials can, and often do, disingenuously claim in order to shield records from public scrutiny.

One often abused provision is the “deliberative process” exemption, which says that citizens cannot get access to any records related to a policy while it is being developed. The question becomes, why not? Are citizens not entitled to know what their elected and appointed officials are thinking as they formulate policy?

Imposing high fees for records is another way to discourage people from obtaining them.

I had previously reported in CommonWealth magazine that oversight of state leases by the Department of Conservation and Recreation has been lax. Rent from some of the state’s leases was going uncollected, expiration dates on others were being ignored, and deals were being renewed in perpetuity at bargain-basement rents.

As a result, last April, DCR Commissioner Jack Murray hired a consultant, TR Advisors, for over half-a-million dollars to try and straighten things out. I recently asked the agency for copies of any documents that might shed light on the specifics of TR’s findings.

But DCR wanted $716 to turn over the records, which they insisted would take the work of seven people to assemble: an accountant, a systems analyst, a program manager, an administrator, a clerk, an attorney and a paralegal.

There is an appeals process through the public records division of the secretary of state’s office. But despite the fact that there is a staff of four attorneys who handle those appeals, it often takes months for a ruling to be issued — even though most of the cases are cookie-cutter.

Kocot’s legislation would fix a lot that is wrong with the Public Records Law. So legislators need to put on their big-boy pants and pass it this time out. After all, it’s been 235 years since the Massachusetts Constitution established the principle of open government.

Colman M. Herman is a freelance writer and reporter living in Boston.

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Massachusetts Public Official Personal Financial Disclosures

State officials are required to submit personal financial disclosures to the State Ethics Commission each year.

The following are state-mandated statements of financial interest made available for public inspection.

link: http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2015/09/massachusetts_financial_disclo.html

“Smitty” Pignatelli:
http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2307435-rep-william-pignatelli-d-2014.html

Ben Downing:
http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2307395-sen-benjamin-downing-d-2014.html

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January 25, 2016

Re: Down with Smitty Pignatelli; No to him as the next State Senator!

Ben Downing stepping down as Pittsfield State Senator after a decade of public service. I wish him well.

I wonder who the G.O.B.'s are going to place in this important political office? Rumors say it will be William "Smitty" Pignatelli.

I dislike Smitty Pignatelli because he represents top-down government of the banal. Rep. Smitty Pignatelli's first vote as on Beacon Hill's State House was a vote for Speaker Tom Finneran in January 2003. Many new state reps. voted "present", while Smitty Pignatelli fell in line with the rest of the bureaucrats impostering as Legislators. Smitty Pignatelli openly spoke out in support for closed doors legislative sessions where a few legislative leaders decided the agenda, while hundreds were powerless or silenced. Smitty Pignatelli even hosted Speaker Tom Finneran at a Lenox fundraiser at Cranwell.

In early 2004, I was gathering signatures for a would be run for Pittsfield State Senator, and I asked all the insiders like Smitty Pignatelli to sign my nomination papers. They all refused! I wasn't an insider, corrupt Berkshire County Democratic Party political hack so I was refused all of their signatures. I knew Smitty Pignatelli was not a man of the people, and that he represented the worst of state and local politics. I read on the blogs that if you are important or a wealthy campaign supporter, Smitty Pignatelli is a complete brown-noser. But if you are someone like me, he gives you an arrogant attitude like he is someone important.

Smitty Pignatelli went on to vote for Speaker Sal DiMasi, who like Tom Finneran, became a convicted felon.

With all of the issues and problems facing the Berkshires and Massachusetts, Smitty Pignatelli focused on giving youth criminal records if they possessed a small amount of marijuana near a youth center. What a guy! Instead of helping youth achieve successes in their young lives, Smitty Pignatelli wants to give youth criminal records so they will have trouble getting ahead in their young lives.

I hope the G.O.B.'s don't set Smitty Pignatelli up to be the next Berkshire State Senator!

- Jonathan Melle

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“State Reps. Smitty Pignatelli, Tricia Farley-Bouvier consider Massachusetts Senate runs”
By Shira Schoenberg | sschoenberg@repub.com – The (Springfield) Republican - January 26, 2016

Two Democratic state representatives are considering running for the state Senate seat that will be vacated by Sen. Ben Downing, D-Pittsfield, when he leaves at the end of this term.

State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, and State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, both told The Republican / MassLive.com that they are seriously considering running.

Pignatelli said he plans to decide in the next couple of days. "I'm working on it with family, friends and key supporters to see what they think," Pignatelli said.

Farley-Bouvier does not have a set time frame, but said she is considering what is best for her family and her constituents. "The compelling issues are around how best to serve the people," Farley-Bouvier said.

While Pignatelli has more political experience than Farley-Bouvier, Farley-Bouvier has a strong base of voters in Pittsfield, the largest city in the 52-community district. She has been a progressive voice on social issues, particularly related to child protection, while he has focused on economic development and education.

The Senate district is geographically the largest in the state, covering parts of all four Western Massachusetts counties.

Pignatelli, who was first elected to the House in 2002, considered running for the Senate a decade ago. He decided not to run then, in order to get more experience in the House, and Downing won the seat.

"Here I am in my seventh term ... saying if I'm going to do it, this will be my next opportunity, and I may never have one again," Pignatelli said. "It's foolish not to look at it."

A decade ago, Pignatelli was raising his children. Now, his son is 26 and his daughter is a college senior. "I'm in a different time in my life. I have a different level of experience that I think could carry over nicely if I do decide to jump into this," Pignatelli said.

Pignatelli is vice chairman of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development, and he serves on the committees on Education, Ways and Means, and Redistricting. But he has not been able to secure a committee chairmanship under House Speaker Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop.

Pignatelli stresses the work he has done on constituent services and working on issues related to his district in areas such as education, job creation and health care. "I take great pride in being a district representative," Pignatelli said.

Pignatelli's district in the Berkshires is geographically the largest House district in the state, and he said he is not intimidated by jumping into the state's largest Senate district.

Pignatelli grew up in Lenox and worked as a master electrician for 20 years before taking over his family's electrical contracting business. He then worked as business development director for Lee Bank before running for the House. He also has served on the Lenox Planning Board and Board of Selectman and as a Berkshire County Commissioner.

Farley-Bouvier was first elected to the House in a 2011 special election. Before that, she was a special education teacher and had worked with English language learners and immigrants. She has also served on the Pittsfield City Council.

In the House, Farley-Bouvier has been an active member of the progressive caucus. Issues that she has focused on include criminal justice reform, pay equity for women, establishing a survivors' bill of rights for sexual assault victims and pushing for a bill protecting the rights of transgender people in places of public accommodation.

As a member of the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, she has been active on issues related to reforming the troubled Department of Children and Families. Farley-Bouvier said she has tried to give voice to foster families and children and others "who don't get a heard a lot."

She also serves on committees related to mental health and substance abuse and to climate change.

She has three teenagers, the youngest of whom is a junior in high school.

As of the end of 2015, Pignatelli had close to $90,000 in his state campaign account. Farley-Bouvier had just $7,000.

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January 27, 2016

Re: Stop Smitty Pignatelli!

"Smitty" Pignatelli is considering a campaign run for Berkshire State Senator. There are many news stories that Smitty Pignatelli and Tricia Farley Bouvier are both in the process of deciding to run for Berkshire State Senator.

Once again, I do not believe Smitty Pignatelli should be elected to State Senator. Smitty Pignatelli is a Democratic Party, Good Old Boy political hack! He voted for now convicted felons, Speakers Tom Finneran and Sal DiMasi. He spoke out against reforming the state Legislature through sunshine and open meeting laws. He spoke in favor of the way business is done on Beacon Hill behind closed doors where hundreds of elected officials are shut out and silenced from setting the political agenda.

He is not a man of the people, and he supports the very corrupt, insider state and local politics that ran Pittsfield and the Berkshires into the proverbial economic ditch.

Smitty Pignatelli even sponsored legislation to give youth criminal records if they possessed a small amount of marijuana near a youth center. His priority is not finding opportunities for local youth, but rather, he wants to make life difficult for them by slapping them with criminal records.

Smitty Pignatelli is a career politician who would die of old age in political office if he could stay in politics long enough. Down with Smitty Pignatelli!

- Jonathan Melle

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State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, is saying no to a run for the state Senate to replace his longtime friend Sen. Ben Downing of Pittsfield. (Eagle File Photo)

“Rep. Pignatelli won't run for state Senate, will seek new House term”
By Jim Therrien, The Berkshire Eagle, February 2, 2016

PITTSFIELD - State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli is saying no to a run for the Senate to replace his longtime friend Sen. Ben Downing of Pittsfield.

Pignatelli, D-Lenox, had been considered a strong candidate for the Berkshire-Franklin-Hampshire Senate district and said recently he was seriously considering a run. However, he said in an emailed release on Tuesday that he wants to remain in the his 4th Berkshire District House seat.

"The opportunity to serve in the Massachusetts state Senate is, admittedly, very tempting," Pignatelli said. "However, I love the House! I am honored to serve! In that spirit and in the best interests of my family and the district that I call home, it will be an honor to run for re-election to the House."

Pignatelli's decision leaves no declared candidates to replace Downing, who announced Jan. 25 that he wouldn't seek another term after 10 years in the Senate. He will, however, serve out his term through the end of 2016.

State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, who also had considered a run for the Senate, said Tuesday that her decision to run for another House term instead won't change. She said that decision "was made without regard for who the other candidates would be."

Farley-Bouvier said of the now wide-open Senate race, "I would expect to see some movement over the next few weeks."

"After an extremely successful run as our state Senator, Ben recently announced that he will not run for another term," Pignatelli said in his statement. "With this news, my name has been offered as a likely candidate to run for Ben's seat and so, today, I have an important decision to make. Running for office, for any office, is a deeply personal and intense decision. I have been on an emotional roller coaster ever since Ben's announcement.

"I have spent considerable time reflecting on my 14 years of service as your state representative for the 4th Berkshire District, and what we have achieved together," Pignatelli said.

After noting ups and downs for the county and some recent successes, Pignatelli added, "Ben and I didn't succeed in all of this as solo enterprises, or even as one half of a 'dynamic duo;' we succeeded together, and we succeeded because of our supporters. In terms of legacy, together, I believe that we have achieved something we should all be proud of."

Quoting the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, Pignatelli said, "'The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.' Those words inspire me each and every day to do good work for the people who have entrusted me to represent them."

Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6347. jtherrien@berkshireeagle.com @BE_therrien on Twitter.

related link: www.iberkshires.com/story/51127/Pignatelli-Seeking-Return-To-House-Not-Running-For-Senate.html

William "Smitty" Pignatelli: "Reflections on a team, and a decision"
By William "Smitty" Pignatelli, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, February 3rd, 2016

LENOX - "Politics" wasn't a dirty word in my house growing up. Nor were politicians thought of as "bad people". On the contrary, my parents, leading by example, taught their children that a life spent in service to others — with passion, leadership and vision — was an honorable profession.

My parents expected my siblings and I to do whatever we could to help others and they proved to us, time and again, that doing so helped to raise our own hopes and aspirations.

Ten years ago, Ben Downing, my lifelong family friend, was first elected to the Massachusetts state Senate. Since then, he and I have tackled the tough issues of the region and delivered great results.

After an extremely successful run, Ben recently announced that he will not run for another term. With this news, my name has been offered as a likely candidate to run for Ben's seat and so, I had an important decision to make.

Running for any office is a deeply personal and intense decision. I have been on an emotional roller coaster ever since Ben's announcement. I have spent time reflecting on my 14 years of service as your state representative for the Fourth Berkshire District and what we have achieved, together.

Together, we have seen the ups and downs of our local, state and global economy. We have seen long-established businesses close and we have seen entrepreneurs open the doors to new endeavors. We have seen buildings, long dormant, brought back to life. We have seen restaurants, theaters and world-class companies once again employ hundreds of hard-working people. We have seen roads and bridges and "streetscapes" repaired and replaced. We have seen new and renovated public schools throughout the district as well as much-needed investments in higher education. We have seen 17 communities pull together in an historic initiative to "share services" that will strengthen municipal budgets and save money for the hard-working taxpayers who call our towns "home".

Ben and I didn't succeed as solo enterprises, or even as one half of a "dynamic duo", we succeeded together, and we succeeded because of our supporters, In terms of legacy, together, I believe, that we have achieved something we should all be proud of.

Throughout my career in public service, I take the greatest pride in providing good constituent service. When the parent of a child with disabilities needed assistance in their school, I was there. When someone was having difficulty finding home care for an elderly parent, I was there. When someone needed help getting veterans benefits or health care, I was there. Whatever the issue, whatever the circumstance, I AM there. I have approached each constituent case with personal attention. I love my job and I aspire to help as many of my constituents as I can. I promise always to do this; with the same passion, leadership, and vision that my parents taught me.

To quote our late US Senator Edward Kennedy "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die".

Those words inspire me to do good work for the people who have entrusted me to represent them. The opportunity to serve in the State Senate is admittedly tempting. However — I love the House! I am honored to serve!

In that spirit and in the best interest of my family and the district that I call home, it will be an honor for me to run for re-election to the House of Representatives. Together with each of you and with the Berkshire delegation, we will continue to make the Berkshires great.

"Smitty" Pignatelli officially announced his decision on Monday, February 1st, 2016.

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Clarence Fanto | The Bottom Line: “Pignatelli passes on Senate shot, but Mark weighs bid”
By Clarence Fanto, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 2/6/2016

LENOX - There's a job open in the state Senate as top lawmaker representing 51 cities and towns in Western Massachusetts, filling Ben Downing's very big shoes.

But the dean of the Berkshire delegation, state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, won't be trying them on for size.

Observers and many of his supporters were quite surprised this past week when the Lenox Democrat announced that he would not be a candidate. He was widely considered the most qualified successor to Downing, whose achievements on behalf of his constituents over the last decade cannot be overstated.

With another potentially strong candidate, state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, also deciding to pass up the Senate contest in order to seek re-election to her current seat in the House, political prognosticators are left scratching their heads.

During a conversation in his district office here on Thursday, Pignatelli emphasized that his decision to run for an eighth two-year term as state rep instead of pursuing Downing's seat was entirely personal, not political.

"I saw no political impediments," he said, noting his three decades of service in local and state government. At the interviewer's suggestion that his election to the state Senate might well have been a slam-dunk, Pignatelli acknowledged that possibility but cautioned, "that's why we have elections, there's a reason they count the votes because nothing's a sure thing."

But he did not quarrel with the notion that he would have been a formidable candidate, given his strong base of supporters and a campaign war chest of nearly $90,000.

He characterized discussions with family and friends as "are you ready to do this, do you want to do this, do you need to do this? And that's what it came down to." Pignatelli had declined to run for state Senate 10 years ago, clearing the way for Downing, then 24, to win the seat.

LETS WINDOW SHUT

At 56, Pignatelli acknowledged, he won't have another shot at a Senate race: "Whoever the next state senator is, unless they're a complete knucklehead, will probably be there for the next 10 years, maybe longer. This was my window of time if I was going to do it."

Instead, he hopes to continue in his current position for the next decade, or even longer, subject to approval of the voters, of course.

Pignatelli evinced no desire for greater power on Beacon Hill, listing his membership on three major committees — Ways and Means, Higher Education, Cultural Development.

Becoming a committee chairman is "totally irrelevant to me," he stressed, because the route to a chairmanship is currying favor and "going lockstep" with the House leadership. "I haven't been able to do that, I vote my conscience, I vote my district and I don't always endear myself to the leadership because of that. So I like that independent streak."

Pignatelli also touted the leading role of the state House in crafting state budgets after the governor offers his template and in playing a key role on other major legislation.

"I like the House, my friends are there and the real work is done in the House, in my opinion, and I like what we're doing. It was very tempting, but I made the right decision I have no regrets and I'm at peace with it."

So, if not Pignatelli, who? As of this writing, only community advocate Adam Hinds has announced his candidacy.

But state Rep. Paul Mark, D-Dalton, is seriously considering a run, according to Pignatelli. Mark's zigzag district in northeastern Berkshire County extends into mostly rural Franklin County, 16 towns in all.

"He would be extremely formidable, one of the hardest-working state reps in the Legislature," Pignatelli said. "Paul was supporting me, but now that I'm out, he's interested."

DECISION TO COME SOON

In a brief phone interview on Friday afternoon, Mark confirmed that he's seriously discussing with family, friends and advisers a potential run for Downing's seat.

He said he expects to announce his decision within the next several days.

Other contenders are likely to emerge, and a competitive Democratic primary in September would be healthy, Pignatelli affirmed, as he prepares to run for re-election himself, whether or not he has a challenger this time.

"I always say, nobody should run unopposed but me," he joked. "Everybody else should have a race."

Turning serious, he explained that "whether I have opposition or not, I run hard, put up my lawn signs, I do my radio ads, I do what it takes to run for re-election and don't take anything for granted."

But Pignatelli does not anticipate a Republican candidate emerging for state Senate. "I think this is a Democratic seat, a Berkshire seat even though the district is very sprawling."

"I've always said that in a presidential election year, Democrats in Massachusetts are unbeatable. I don't see how we could get beaten if we have a legitimate candidate running a legitimate campaign."

He cited a surge of online voter registration, as reported by Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, that could produce an unprecedented turnout of nearly 3 million statewide in November.

The Democrats' favored presidential candidate should become clear after the delegate-rich March 1 "Super Tuesday" Democratic primaries and caucuses in a dozen states, including Massachusetts, Pignatelli predicted. (Republicans choose delegates in 14 states).

If Hillary Clinton emerges as the likely nominee, he said, "I hope she keeps Bernie Sanders engaged in this whole campaign, it's too critically important not to lose this election. I personally think Hillary is the best-suited, she's not the perfect candidate by any stretch of the imagination, but Ted Cruz or Donald Trump? That's kind of frightening."

For Democrats, it comes down to "who's the best candidate to win a 50-state election," he added.

My crystal ball is totally cloudy on the national contest in both parties, but closer to home, there's good reason to feel confident that in the post-Downing era starting next January, the Berkshire delegation to Beacon Hill will remain in steady, capable hands. In this gloomy and stressful campaign year, that's something worth cheering about.

Contact Clarence Fanto at cfanto@yahoo.com

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“Group: Massachusetts lawmakers' open meeting exemption unconstitutional”
The Associated Press, 2/26/2016

BOSTON - The Legislature's exemption from the requirements of the state's open meeting law is unconstitutional, a conservative-leaning think tank said Thursday, but Attorney General Maura Healey declined to wade into the dispute.

The Boston-based Pioneer Institute said the self-exemption restricts public access to certain legislative meetings and undermines the constitutional tenet that government be accountable for its actions.

"A public kept in the dark about critical policy decisions cannot hold its elected representatives accountable," the organization said in a statement.

In a letter to Healey, a Democrat, Pioneer asked that she issue an informal advisory opinion agreeing with its contention that the exemption written into the open meeting law was unconstitutional.

Chris Barry-Smith, first assistant attorney general under Healey, responded in a letter that the office lacked the authority to issue such an opinion. While it was empowered to offer opinions on the operation and implementation of the law, it could not conduct the constitutional analysis that the Pioneer Institute was seeking, the letter said.

The group said it disagreed and has asked Healey to reconsider.

In defending the exemption, lawmakers have said the ability to confer in private, set priorities and have frank exchanges of ideas out of public view is vital to the smooth operation of government.

The open meeting law requires that "all meetings of a public body shall be open to the public," with exceptions for meetings that may involve sensitive information about a government employee.

John Sivolella, a senior fellow in law and policy at the institute, said legislative committees often vote to close meetings or poll its members about legislation by email, which he contended could also be construed as running afoul of the open meeting law.

The institute has not decided whether to ask the state's highest court to rule on the constitutionality of the exemption, Sivolella said.

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December 9, 2016

I continue to read about Lenox State Representative William "Smitty" Pignatelli asking municipalities to consolidate and share administrative services as a form of sacrifice to the hard hit local taxpayers. I would like to point out the following about Smitty Pignatelli:

* He will serve his 8th 2 year term in the State House over the next 2 years
* He is a career politician who plays into the hands of the Good Old Boys club that has tanked Pittsfield's local economy
* He explains how bad things are for the struggling working class families in Western Massachusetts, while he collects all of his taxpayer funded pay and benefits
* He wants the local government to make sacrifices in the name of the hard hit taxpayers, but he never offered to sacrifice any of his own state government pay and benefits
* He will probably serve decades in public office and is banking on collecting a big state government pension in his future old age

In closing, Smitty Pignatelli is everything that is wrong with Pittsfield politics!

- Jonathan Melle

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Letter: “Shared services work, but not in this instance”
The Berkshire Eagle, January 6, 2017

To the editor:

I feel certain that every Stockbridge citizen is in favor of sharing services. I am!

We need to understand that the proposal we will be talking about on Monday (Jan. 9) is about being managed/governed by a shared regional administrator and one regional assistant among three towns. That is it, period! It is not about whether to or not to share services. We do share services and have for many years.

If we were to share a regional town administrator and an assistant with two larger towns we may lose more than we gain. When one enters any agreement there has to be protection. There has to be balance. I believe there is no way to achieve equality with two larger towns. We are the smallest town. We have the potential to be voted down or gobbled up.

I believe that sharing a town administrator would be detrimental to our town. I also believe we may find other areas of sharing that have not been looked at yet. Let's spend our time doing that and get out of this concept where as the smallest town of the three we may not be able to speak for ourselves on important issues or situations.

Consider what the towns of Lee and Lenox found out when they tried to hire a shared school superintendent (Eagle, Jan. 2). After a year, the idea has been abandoned. Lee stated it wanted someone who is vested in its own school district and would be accessible and be the face of Lee schools. They did not move forward with sharing a superintendent, but they did decide to share a food service director.

We have participated in shared services for many years with our neighboring towns and continue to find places where we can share equipment and purchase things together. We already share a highway construction roller and the lake weed-eater. We purchase salt and gravel together. We share "moments of need" among towns, such as in emergency situations. We share the Tri-town Health Department. Let's continue to look for places that make sense, but not at this regionalization of management/governance of our town!

I hope this has helped to clarify what we are talking about and what will be discussed at the Jan. 9 meeting. Please attend Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the gym at the Town Offices.

Mary T. Hart,
Stockbridge

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Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, right, takes the oath in the Statehouse joined by his colleagues, from left, Rep. Frank Moran from Lawrence and Rep. Stephen Hay from Fitchburg. Photo provided by Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli. January 4, 2017.

"Eleven issues to watch in the 2017-2018 session"
By Michael Norton, Katie Lannan, Andy Metzger, and Matt Murphy, State House News Service via The Berkshire Eagle, January 7, 2017

BOSTON — In addition to the wildcard that is Donald Trump's presidency, here's a look at 11 simmering issues that could escalate to a full boil in the 2017-18 legislative session, which got underway Wednesday on Beacon Hill.

1. CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

Smaller prison populations and lower costs, better re-entry programs and services, and reduced recidivism rates are among the goals of criminal justice reform advocates who have seen their policy proposals wither in past sessions. Legislative leaders told Gov. Deval Patrick in 2012 that they would revisit criminal justice and sentencing reforms in the 2013-14 session, but they didn't. The 2015-16 session was also a wipeout for activists, who watched as policymakers and Gov. Charlie Baker punted the issues to outsiders to see if they could come up with a plan. Heading into 2017, administration officials and lawmakers are waiting to see what a special commission recommends after working with outside consultants from the Council of State Governments' Justice Center. Activists pressing major reforms fear the CSG report — scheduled to be released in mid-January — and subsequent legislation will be narrow in scope, with a focus on probation, parole and other post-release services. Frustrated after years of being told to wait for broad reforms, advocates are gearing up to fight for other measures including bail changes, repeals of mandatory minimum sentencing and greater use of diversion programs. Some initiatives that cleared the Senate in 2016, including expungement of juvenile misdemeanor records and raising the cash value at which larceny becomes a felony offense, are expected to resurface in the new session. A new House chairman of the Judiciary committee, to be appointed in January or February by Speaker Robert DeLeo, will play a role in determining how far those and other criminal justice issues make it through the legislative process.

2. HEALTH CARE

Total health care expenditures have outpaced the state's economic growth rate for two straight years, a significant portion of the state's population remains uninsured despite a mandatory health insurance law, and rising premiums and access to care, including oral care, are issues for many patients. Massachusetts is also on the verge of having a staggering 2 million of its residents enrolled in Medicaid, the taxpayer-funded health insurance program for those who are income eligible and individuals with disabilities. Amid the rollout of health care access and cost control laws, the market itself has undergone dramatic consolidation in recent years and there's continuing concern over the financial health of community hospitals. Medicaid is now experimenting with an accountable care payment model, with results due in 2017 that will determine how those pilots perform on cost and patient care measures. At the same time, there's talk in the Trump administration about converting Medicaid to a block grant program in an attempt to limit the flow of federal funds to the state. And a special commission looking at variations in prices charged by hospitals is closing in on possible recommendations. If it sounds like a lot, it is. Per usual, the health care policy arena in Massachusetts is active, with plenty of uncertainty.

3. ENERGY

Diversification, costs and reliability remain the legs of the state's three-legged energy policy stool. Heading into 2017, Gov. Charlie Baker and his administration are implementing a major renewable energy law to procure large-scale hydropower and develop offshore wind farms that will eventually help power homes and businesses around the state. A big hitch is that the fruits of that labor are several years from ripening. In the meantime, expect battles to be fought along familiar lines. As the administration works to finalize a new tariff-based solar renewable energy credit program, solar advocates are pressing the Department of Energy Resources to come up with a plan to bridge the gap between January and the summer, when the new program takes effect, to keep the subsidies flowing to the industry. Caps on solar net metering are also being bumped up against in most utility territories, meaning that debate will perk up for another round early in the year. And while hydropower might eventually address some of the demand and reliability concerns in the grid, a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission investigation of the ongoing maintenance issues at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station will continue to fire up Pilgrim opponents who are pressing Baker to demand the plant's shutdown before a scheduled refueling in 2017 designed to keep the plant running until 2019. Any adjustments to the state's energy mix — including new gas pipeline capacity — must all be balanced against greenhouse gas emission reduction requirements and targets. Lawmakers like Rep. Jay Kaufman and Sen. Michael Barrett will undoubtedly continue to make the case for a carbon tax, but more likely is a more aggressive effort by the Baker administration to promote the purchase of electric vehicles. A boost in zero-emission vehicle sales would dovetail nicely with the aims of the new court-ordered emission regulations from the Department of Environmental Protection that are up for hearings in February. The Supreme Judicial Court ordered the state to spread its emission reduction efforts across all sectors, including transportation, but some critics would like to see stricter caps on power plants.

4. INSTITUTIONAL RIVALRIES

The battles in the 2015-16 session were largely between the House and the Senate, both controlled by Democrats, rather than between the Legislature and the new Republican governor. In addition to famously disagreeing about rules governing the flow of bills, the more liberal Senate was often at odds with the more moderate House. While Gov. Baker's working relationship with legislative leaders is not likely to entirely fizzle in 2017, 2018 is an election year and Democratic legislative leaders just in December bumped heads pretty hard with the Republican governor over spending cuts they viewed as hurtful to people and unnecessary. Democratic legislative leaders have settled their rules-reform differences and have a new party chairman, Gus Bickford, who is taking an aggressive posture toward Baker out of the gate. There are some Democrats who would probably be fine with Baker in the Corner Office for another four years — they can score points for bipartisanship when things are going well and have a convenient target when things are not. But many other Democrats are hoping a strong candidate will step forward to challenge the governor. Another session featuring divided Democrats in the Legislature would bode well for Baker, who like his mentor Bill Weld has made bipartisanship one of his main political selling points. But if Democrats draw clear lines with Baker on a series of issues — the income surtax for example or privatization or new taxes on marijuana or online rentals — the dynamic could shift back to the traditional Republican-versus-Democrat format. And no one can say at this point whether Donald Trump in the White House will be good politically for Baker, or bad. The conventional wisdom is bad, but we saw what happened to conventional wisdom in 2016.

5. ETHICS REFORM

Eight years after passing a reform package strengthening ethics laws in the wake of the indictment of the former speaker on corruption charges, lawmakers plan to revisit the state's approach to conflict of interest laws. A 13-member task force led by the chairs of the House and Senate Ethics committees and the co-chairs of the Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight has a deadline of March 15 to produce a report reviewing conflict of interest, financial disclosure laws, and the regulations of the State Ethics Commission, which enforces state ethics laws. In February after publicizing the idea of the review of ethics laws, House Speaker Robert DeLeo said it was intended "with the idea that some may be strengthened because they haven't been looked at for a period of time, some may have to be updated, again, because they haven't been looked at in a period of time, and some have to be clarified actually." Before agreeing to the task force, lawmakers removed directives from an earlier version to study campaign finance, lobbying and the feasibility of extending the lobbying law to cities and towns. While the task force's mandate has been honed, its charge also remains open-ended. House Ethics Chairman Chris Markey in November said he hopes the process will make the law "more manageable for municipalities as well as appointed and elected officials." Any moves by lawmakers to alter state ethics laws bears watching.

6. FULL-TIME BUDGETING

Gov. Charlie Baker will propose a fiscal 2018 budget Jan. 25, but budgeting has become a year-round necessity for Baker and the Legislature and the story is far from written yet on fiscal 2017. Legislative leaders fuming about Baker's unilateral budget cuts in December are pondering a supplemental budget to restore spending and directly challenge the governor, but their next move will depend on how revenues perform in the next month or two. Around the same time new lawmakers are getting sworn in on Wednesday (if not before), the Department of Revenue will be preparing its latest revenue report for December after mid-month collections showed positive signs with 4 percent growth. With an expected re-election effort in less than two years, Baker's next budget will be viewed through that prism as well as through the usual spending and policy lenses. Baker and the Legislature are under pressure from Wall Street credit rating agencies to boost the state's rainy day fund balance and not back off its pension-funding schedule. Money saved and invested in future pension liabilities, however, is not the stuff campaigns are built on. Everyone involved in the budget-making on Beacon Hill also has to be concerned about relatively anemic tax revenue growth during an economic recovery and the state's positioning should the next economic downturn come sooner rather than later. One concern for early 2017 that appears to have been alleviated for now is how the state planned to come up with the cash to pay for the new Cannabis Control Commission and the enforcement and regulation of recreational marijuana. By passing a six-month delay, lawmakers not only bought themselves time to consider changes to the law, but ensured that paying for the new bureaucracy would not put additional spending pressures on the fiscal 2017 budget.

7. INCOME INEQUALITY

Many pundits are interpreting President-elect Donald Trump's win this year to the frustration of the American worker, both with their own situation and the availability of good jobs and with the widening gap in America between those who make the least and the super wealthy. Backed by a powerful coalition of interest groups, low-income workers in recent years have racked up big wins in Massachusetts with a ballot law broadening access to earned sick time and a law increasing the minimum wage from $8 to $11 an hour, effective Jan. 1, 2017. Now workers are threatening to place on the 2018 ballot a proposal to boost the wage floor to $15 an hour, which could be coupled with a constitutional amendment adding nearly $2 billion in higher taxes on households with incomes above $1 million. The issues are forcing lawmakers and voters to take sides — with workers and tax raisers or with businesses and other opponents of new taxes. The minimum wage and income surtax loom as potentially huge policy matters on Beacon Hill and political issues in November 2018.

8. POT POLITICS

Sooner or later, Massachusetts lawmakers were going to get around to debating marijuana legalization; 2017 qualifies as later — much later. The Legislature's new Committee on Marijuana next year will jump into the debate after not one, not two, but three marijuana-related laws were placed on the books while legislators stayed on the sidelines, unwilling to intervene on an issue with far-reaching societal impacts. Now that adult use of marijuana is legal, lawmakers say they want to make changes to the 2016 voter law. On Dec. 28 the Legislature rushed a bill to Gov. Baker's desk pushing back retail marijuana implementation dates by six months. Baker signed it. Other potential areas for meddling include tax rates, startup regulatory costs, edible marijuana products, marketing and advertising tactics. The debate will bring marijuana industry lobbying off the campaign trail and onto Beacon Hill, where some of the people rewriting the voter law opposed the ballot question. Legislative leaders hope to tackle this issue over the first six months of 2017.

9. TAXES

A riddle that has perplexed lawmakers all year — anemic tax revenue growth amid surging job growth — could receive an answer from the Democrat-led Legislature in the form of new taxes next session. Short-term room rentals, marijuana sales and seven-figure incomes have all emerged as likely candidates for new or increased taxes. Gov. Charlie Baker will not be able to wield his veto pen against a proposed constitutional amendment adding a 4 percent surtax to incomes over $1 million. In a 2016 joint session the House and Senate advanced the measure, which would need one more vote by the branches in constitutional convention — scheduled to begin meeting no later than Wednesday, May 10 under the current joint rules — before potentially advancing to the 2018 ballot. The Democrats who control the flow of business in the House and Senate have raised taxes in 2009 and 2013, and in recent weeks have refused to rule out tax hikes in 2017. Lawmakers are already making time in the first part of the two-year session to grapple with changes to the legalized marijuana sales law passed by voters, with some suggesting the 10 percent combined state sales and excise tax on pot is not high enough. Generally ill-disposed toward tax hikes, Baker initially supported a Senate move last summer to subject vacation rentals to the hotel room tax — a move also backed by Airbnb, the highest-profile online repository of private room rentals. The governor then reversed course arguing the legislation would "impose burdensome taxes and government bureaucracy on folks who utilize short-term vacation rentals." A tax bill, which would need to originate in the House, could open the door to a variety of revenue-raising proposals.

10. EDUCATION FUNDING/REFORM

Lawmakers have identified education funding reform as a priority for the upcoming session, but a combination of overspending (versus budget) and slow revenue growth leaves the question hanging of where any new funding would come from. School aid formula changes wouldn't come cheap — a 2015 report found the current system's starting point underestimates the cost of educating students by at least $1 billion. There's considerable overlap between backers of a funding formula overhaul and the opposition campaign that shut down a 2016 ballot question that would have allowed the up to 12 new charter schools each year. While teachers unions, public school parents, local school committees and others who pushed against the ballot question aren't likely to back down, expansion proponents are rallying supporters for Round 2. "Although we took a punch, we're back at it," KIPP Boston parent Dawn Foye wrote in Dec. 21 email from Great Schools Massachusetts campaign, continuing, "We'll come at it in a different way." A signature issue of Gov. Charlie Baker's in 2016, charter expansion was defeated on two fronts with the loss at the ballot coming after the House and Senate failed to agree on an expansion bill. Baker called for a lift of the charter cap in his State of the State address last year and could use that platform in 2017 to lay out a new plan to ensure there are no gaps in education adequacy or to send a message to forces looking for major new investments. A Senate-backed plan to tie a modest charter cap lift to an big infusion of money across all public schools didn't pique interest in the House, but the distaste voters showed in November for the broader expansion favored by many representatives could change their minds. Baker has also pledged to boost education aid by the projected growth in state revenues, a promise that will be sized up when he releases his fiscal 2018 budget on Jan. 25.

11. ONLINE GAMING, LOTTERY WOES

It's been five years since lawmakers came around to embrace the idea of casino gambling as a panacea for its transportation, local aid and economic development spending desires. But apart from the trickle of slot revenues from Plainridge, that dream is still just that. MGM Springfield isn't expected to open until 2018, and Wynn Resorts won't start dealing cards until a year after that. In the meantime, the lottery —the state's main source of profit for local aid to cities and towns — is showing its age, or maturity. Treasurer Deborah Goldberg testified last month that profits next year would likely fall by $3 million to $965 million. Scratch ticket sales through November were down 3 percent and the Keno market is "virtually saturated," the treasurer said. In other words Lottery revenues are slipping and casinos haven't even opened yet. Though not cataclysmic, Goldberg's forecast for a period of "stagnation" could be the potion needed to get lawmakers to come around to the idea of moving the lottery online to reach a different, and younger, audience. A grab for more gaming revenues could prove enticing because it would not require raising taxes and could be a tact legislative leaders can convince the governor to go for. It wouldn't be easy though. Convenience store owners have never warmed to the idea, and critics will argue safeguards to protect problem gamblers will be difficult to enforce online. Gambling opponents warned casinos would not be the end of expansion and it appears the chase for the eternal gambling dollar is headed into the online world.

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February 3, 2017

Did anyone else notice Lenox State Representative William “Smitty” Pignatelli’s hypocritical vote for a second legislative pay raise this year? He has some nerve! It is the same Smitty Pignatelli who wrote Op-Ed’s in the Berkshire Eagle telling municipalities that they have to make “sacrifices” and regionalize or consolidate their public services.
So on the one hand, Smitty Pignatelli is for 2 legislative pay raises in one year, while on the other hand, local governments must find savings by sacrificing, consolidating, and regionalizing.
Smitty Pignatelli gets 2 pay raises this year, while the rest of us can “eat cake”.
Do as I say, not as I do!
This is politics at its worst!
– Jonathan Melle

*

A true leader, leads by example. When I was in the U.S. Army, I was told to lead from the front lines instead of behind the brave Soldiers who fight for our freedom on our behalf.
If Smitty Pignatelli was a true leader on sacrificing on behalf of the hard hit taxpayers, he would not have voted for 2 legislative pay raises so far this year! Instead, Smitty Pignatelli would have told his legislative leaders that the taxpayers come first and that the Legislature receiving 2 pay raises in one year sends the wrong message.
But no! Smitty Pignatelli voted to override Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto and enriched himself and his fellow politicians, while the taxpayers get poorer.
– Jonathan Melle

*

When people write that “Smitty’s done a lot of good”, they never name even one example of what he has accomplished during his 13+ years as a State Representative.
Smitty Pignatelli wrote Op-Ed’s on how Berkshire County’s local economy has tanked. Over one dozen factories in his legislative district have closed. Municipal taxes along with a aging and diminishing population is financially constraining local governments and school districts. Major employers like GE and Sprague are long gone. Sabic moved to Houston, Texas. The creative economy that Smitty Pignatelli touts produces low wage jobs in the tourism and hospitality industry. In other words, working class families are hurting more than ever!
Smitty Pignatelli’s first vote was for Speaker Tom Finneran. He then voted for Speaker Sal DiMasi. Both are convicted Felons and disgraced politicians. Smitty Pignatelli voted for the current Speaker for Life, Bob DeLeo, whose first piece of legislation was to give himself a huge pay raise, which Smitty Pignatelli voted for.
What makes Smitty Pignatelli so great in the eyes of voters? My answer is that he is a failure! He is a career politician who is intimidating to people who want political change. He comes from a political family and he is enriching himself at the expense of the hard hit taxpayer!
– Jonathan Melle

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February 28, 2017

Smitty Pignatelli recently wrote depressing Op-Ed's in the Berkshire Eagle about how many jobs, companies, and population have been lost in Western Massachusetts over the past couple of decades. Smitty Pignatelli wrote that municipalities must make financial sacrifices by consolidating their public services into regional compacts to spare the hard hit local taxpayers. Yet, Smitty Pignatelli did not offer any personal sacrifices from his own pay and benefits paid for by the same hard hit taxpayers. Then, Smitty Pignatelli voted for his second pay raise this year of 2017! That is the very example of hypocrisy and poor leadership!

- Jonathan Melle

FACTS:

* First pay raise of 2017! The legislators’ base salary was increased from $60,032 to $62,547 beginning in January, 2017.

* Second pay raise of 2017! Stipends for most committee chairs are doubling from $15,000 to $30,000. Even the largely honorary positions of Senate president pro tempore and House speaker pro tempore are getting a hefty raise with their bonuses increasing from $15,000 to $50,000.

* Hypocritical financial management! The same Democratic legislative leaders now getting big bonuses decided last summer to skip the traditional sales tax “holiday” because the state could not afford to forgo the estimated $26 million in revenue that would have been lost. It was only the second year since 2004 that consumers did not benefit from the tax holiday.

* Retirement security for Stan Rosenberg and Bob DeLeo! Stan Rosenberg and Bob DeLeo are among the chief beneficiaries of the pay hikes, with their annual salaries increasing by $45,000, to $142,547 — a 46 percent boost. The pay hikes for legislative leaders take effect immediately. State pensions are based on the three highest-salaried years.

* No public hearings! The hefty raises were passed by the Legislature without a full public airing of the details or justification of increases.

Source: Editorial: “Pay raise windfall for Legislature", The Daily Hampshire Gazette, February 2, 2017.

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Letter: “Eversource should help, not hurt, county”
The Berkshire Eagle, April 16, 2017

To the editor:

Berkshire Democratic Brigades wants to thank Attorney General Maura Healey and everyone who gathered last Monday in Pittsfield to oppose Eversource's electric rate hike proposal.

If the Department of Public Utilities approves it — or anything close to it — the decline of the economy of Berkshire County and all of Western Mass. will accelerate, falling even further behind that of Eastern Mass. As state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli told the audience, in Berkshire County "We are smaller, we are older, we are sicker and we are poorer," and an electric rate hike of this magnitude will only exacerbate the situation.

Very simply, our problems with Eversource's rate hike fall into three categories: revenue and shareholder returns; investments in grid modernization; and rate design.

As AG Healey notes in her DPU testimony, "From 2011-2014, WMECO's average return on equity was over 10 percent and NSTAR's was close to 11 percent — very high profits given today's historically low interest rates. In 2015, NSTAR reported a return on equity of over 13 percent. Last year, no state public utility commission in the country allowed a return that high." Additionally, Healey noted, "In 2016 the average allowed return on equity in the country for electric distribution companies was 9.3 percent. In our neighboring states, it was even less, with Connecticut and Maine allowing ROEs of only 9.1 percent and 9 percent, respectively." Each 1 percent reduction will save Mass. customers $28 million per year.

Yet even having been overpaid compared to our New England neighbors, Eversource has not shown that it has met the DPU's 2014 demands to modernize the grid by: a) reducing the effects of outages; b) optimizing demand, including reducing system and customer costs; c) integrating distributed resources; or d) improving workforce and asset management.

Putting this all together, we can see how absolutely blind Eversource is, not only to its Western Mass. customers' needs, but also its own long-term interests. As Healey has said: "This is an important opportunity for the [DPU] to reset the balance between company profits and customer rates." A progressive, forward-looking utility would work with us to build our economy, not destroy it. While Boston surges, Berkshire County teeters on the brink, and higher electricity prices could push us over the edge.

Frank Farkas,

Sherwood Guernsey,

Lee Harrison.

Williamstown

The writers are all members of Berkshire Democratic Brigades.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Tricia Farley-Bouvier

www.triciafarleybouvier.com


Tricia Farley-Bouvier (Ben Garver)

"Democrat Farley-Bouvier has eye on school building upgrades"
By Dick Lindsay, Berkshire Eagle Staff, October 10, 2011

PITTSFIELD -- Tricia Farley-Bouvier realized the need to upgrade the city's high schools when she was first elected to the City Council nearly eight years ago.

As a member of the Pittsfield School Building Needs Commission since 2005, Farley-Bouvier, a city councilor from 2004 to 2008, has advocated for some type of school building project on the Taconic High School campus. The commission is currently collaborating with the Massachusetts School Building Authority to determine if a proposed project will involve erecting a new Taconic, renovating the existing building, or a combination of renovation and additions. The city and state also want to see Pittsfield High School renovated as well, which would be a separate project.

If elected to the state Legislature next week, the Democratic nominee in the upcoming 3rd Berkshire District special election vows to keep the high school planning process moving forward as Pittsfield's state representative.

"The SBA is driving this, so we need a voice in Boston to keep the project on track and reduce the number of delays that occur in a bureaucracy," she said. "If we get bogged down with the state, they will take the money and build somewhere else."

Improving the Pittsfield public school system was one of several issues Farley-Bouvier addressed in a recent meeting with Eagle editors prior to the 3rd Berkshire election on Oct. 18. The Pittsfield native and former educator is campaigning in a four-way race to succeed Christopher Speranzo, who resigned in July to become clerk magistrate in the Central Berkshire District Court. She will square off against Republican Mark Jester, Green-Rainbow Party nominee Mark C. Miller and independent candidate Pam Malumphy. The 3rd Berkshire District encompasses all but two of Pittsfield's 14 precincts: Ward 1B and Ward 5B.

Farley-Bouvier, 47, is a Pittsfield native who spent 20 years in education as a teacher locally, elsewhere in New England and in Central America. She worked six years for the Literacy Network of South Berkshire before becoming an aide to Mayor James M. Ruberto in March 2010. The Democrat resigned from her City Hall job when she announced her candidacy on Aug. 9.

Farley-Bouvier's political party affiliation has come under fire recently by Malumphy, who claimed her opponent isn't a true Democrat and is hiding her stance on abortion. Personally, Farley-Bouvier said she is against abortion, but accepts current federal law of a woman's right to end an unwanted pregnancy.

"The Democratic Party has a big tent and doesn't keep out differing viewpoints," she said.

Farley-Bouvier noted she does support gay marriage, but casts a wary eye on the casino gambling bill pending on Beacon Hill.

"I will do everything I can to protect Pittsfield from the financial impact of casinos, especially when it comes to our cultural venues," she said.

The other two candidates for 3rd Berkshire District state representative -- Pam Malumphy and Mark Miller -- will be profiled in Tuesday's Eagle.

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"Tricia Farley-Bouvier hosts governor"
By Jonathan Levine, The Pittsfield Gazette, October 10, 2011

Governor Deval Patrick will be "guest of honor" at a Friday, October 14 fundraiser for Tricia Farley-Bouvier.

The pasta dinner for the state representative candidate will take place from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the Itam Lodge.

Tickets at the door are $25, $50 and $100 with kids free.

Farley-Bouvier is one of four candidates on the Third Berkshire District ballot.

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Tricia Farley-Bouvier - state rep
By Tricia Farley-Bouvier, The Pittsfield Gazette, September 1, 2011

The people of Pittsfield share the common value of caring for our families. As a child growing up in Pittsfield, I appreciated coming from a large family. As an adult, I appreciate even more how my family shaped how I now raise my own three children and how I will approach the job as your state representative.

Education: My father, Dr. George T. Farley, taught me the value of education. He learned that a solid educational background was the foundation upon which a person could build a successful future. He had been raised by a single mom who, among other things, cleaned houses to raise her son. With the help of the GI bill, he became the first in his family to go to college. He went on to get both a MA and Doctorate in Education and was a beloved principal in the Pittsfield Schools for nearly 30 years. Education makes stronger individuals, stronger families and stronger communities. As your state representative, I will support funding for public education, from pre-Kindergarten through college.

Small Business: My grandfather taught me the importance of small businesses in a community. George Nesbit ran Nesbit’s Market on Tyler Street for years. He was responsible for running an enterprise while providing for his family in difficult economic times. Several of his grandchildren, who now run small businesses of their own, emulate his example of treating customers and employees both fairly and honestly. As your state representative, I recognize that small businesses are the cornerstone of economic prosperity. I will support businesses that create local jobs through aid for workforce development, targeted tax incentives, and upgrading technology infrastructure.

Responsible Budgeting: The most important lesson of family is that we take care of one another, especially our seniors. We need to protect pensions, curb our over-reliance on property taxes, and give seniors a meaningful seat at the table when negotiating health insurance. As is the case in most families, ours is stronger because of our support for one another in times of great joy and tragedy. The same can be said for communities; a society is stronger when the members of that society invest in the well being of all. As your state representative, I will support seniors and the safety net programs that are designed to support families.

What sets me apart from my opponents? Experience. With 20+ years of experience being a teacher, parent, and teacher-trainer, I have the understanding to know how to advocate for improved education. As a two-term city councilor, I have a record of legislative accomplishments, including initiating the Board of Health, spearheading a strong ordinance to keep Adult Entertainment out of Pittsfield, and bringing sensible management to the Sonsini Animal Shelter. Most importantly, I have the experience of being part of a team that brought civility and collaboration back to Pittsfield government. Through our hard work, Pittsfield has now become a destination for tourists, businesses, and families.

I respectfully ask for your vote so I can be a strong Voice for Pittsfield Families.

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"Farley-Bouvier focused on issues"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letter to the Editor, October 13, 2011

Tricia Farley-Bouvier is my choice in the upcoming 3rd Berkshire state representative election.

Tricia is focused on the important issues of our district -- jobs, education and the need for honest, transparent government.

Tricia works collaboratively; she takes the time to hear from all sides on the issue at hand, then makes a decision based on what she believes is in the best interest of the community.

As a city councilor, Tricia was a leader in writing the legislation that prevented strip clubs from opening in Pittsfield, and led the way to creating the city's Board of Health.

She fought to get our school nurses status in the teachers union and has worked (and was the chairperson) for the past several years on the School Building Needs Commission.

Tricia brings her love of Pittsfield and her passion for the community to her work. Please join me in voting for Tricia Farley-Bouvier on Oct. 18.

CAROLYN SIBNER
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

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Tricia Farley-Bouvier, front, answers a question during Thursday’s debate on WBEC-AM radio as her foes in the 3rd Berkshire District race, left to right, Pam Malumphy, Mark Miller and Mark Jester listen. (Ben Garver / Berkshire Eagle Staff)

"Farley-Bouvier, Malumphy exchange verbal jabs in final debate"
By Clarence Fanto, Berkshire Eagle Staff, October 14, 2011

PITTSFIELD -- In their final public debate before Tuesday's 3rd Berkshire District special election, two of the four candidates to fill former state Rep. Christopher Speranzo's seat in Boston traded sharply worded personal attacks on truthfulness in campaigning.

In her opening statement during a live, one-hour radio appearance on WBEC-AM Thursday morning, Democrat Tricia Farley-Bouvier asserted that she has "run a positive campaign and knocked on thousands of doors throughout the community."

She cited Pittsfield voters' worries over jobs and schools, arguing that, based on "hundreds of one-on-one conversations," they want "an end to negative campaigning that they see around them every day."

Independent candidate Pam Malumphy responded by declaring that "claiming to run a positive campaign does not mean it was a truthful one."

Referring to Malumphy's recent criticism over her decision to send two of her three children to Lenox public schools, Farley-Bouvier asserted that "I have not let the negative campaigning get to me. I've kept on my message and I'll continue to keep my campaign a positive one."

Later in the hour, Farley-Bouvier decried "an awful lot of negative attacks based on a family decision we made about our children based on their educational needs and nothing else. We feel that we have the right to do that, and that does not take away one bit from all the time I've spent working for education in this city."

Malumphy acknowledged that "Tricia is obviously talking about me as the candidate who is attacking her."

"Running a positive campaign doesn't mean you're running a truthful campaign," Malumphy went on. "Telling the truth shouldn't be seen as an attack or being negative." She described school-choice, resulting in an outflow of hundreds of students from Pittsfield, as a key issue.

Addressing Farley-Bouvier directly, Malumphy asserted that "no one is attacking your choice to have your children go to another district. I would defend you to the death to do what's best for your children. But you can't, at the same time, be running for public office as someone who is speaking as an advocate for Pittsfield's public schools and sending your kids to another district."

Malumphy also criticized Farley-Bouvier for "lack of communication" to the public during her five years as chair of the School Building Needs Commission, which was weighing the best solution for renovating or replacing the city's high schools.

"It's why I was removed by you and the mayor from that commission last year because I kept repeatedly saying the same thing -- why are we not involving the community in this conversation...it is the single biggest complaint from the voters I'm talking to," Malumphy said.

Ratcheting up the rhetoric, Malumphy argued: "If you can't make that connection, Tricia, between being this vocal advocate who is shoving a philosophy of education down our throats while sending your kids to another district, I can't understand why you can't get that disconnect because every voter in the city of Pittsfield does."

In her final statement, Malumphy returned to the theme, declaring that "convoluting and contorting is what's turning people off about elected officials."

Summing up her campaign, Farley-Bouvier depicted herself as "the best candidate with the leadership style that will do what Pittsfield needs. ... We have to leave the politics of ‘no' behind us and pull this community together by working as a team to solve the problems of Pittsfield."

She also described herself as a "proud Democrat because we share core values, better jobs for working families, the key to our future is education. Democrats believe we take care of each other."

Republican Mark Jester acknowledged that he's "not a professional politician" but felt "this is a great opportunity to get somebody down there who's not your usual politician, to get some refreshing ideas coming out of Pittsfield instead of the same-old, same-old."

Mark Miller, the Green-Rainbow candidate, called it "the party of the future rather than the party of the status quo and the past" and said his platform is based on "new jobs in a new economy, because the old economy is going away." He advocated "clean government including fair taxes, single-payer health insurance and a commitment to public education at all levels."

Voters in most of Pittsfield, except Wards 1-B and 5-B, will go to the polls next Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. to choose among the four candidates.

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"Final push in 3rd Berkshire rep. race"
By Ned Oliver, Berkshire Eagle Staff, October 15, 2011

PITTSFIELD -- With the 3rd Berkshire District special election just days away, Democratic Party operatives from across the state are descending on the Berkshires to help make a final push for their candidate, Tricia Farley-Bouvier.

In addition to the influx of manpower, Farley-Bouvier said she plans to spend $20,000 on her campaign to become the city’s next representative in the Statehouse -- twice as much as her nearest competitors.

The state Democratic Party is also pouring money into the district, running radio advertisements featuring Gov. Deval Patrick and providing boots-on-the-ground support to launch an intense door-to-door, get-out-the-vote effort.

Opponents say they’re undaunted by Farley-Bouvier’s big budget and high-profile endorsements.

"Does it concern me that she’s spent twice as much money? No. If it takes that much money to beat me, that’s fine. It tells you something," said Republican candidate Mark Jester, who said he expects by the special election on Tuesday he’ll have spent a little more than $10,000 on advertisements, signs and other campaign materials.

Green-Rainbow candidate Mark Miller, on the other hand, blasted Democrats for relying on corporate dollars to run their campaigns.

"It skews taxing and spending, and it effects what businesses get tax breaks; these corporations are buying our public policy," said Miller. "If [Tricia] thinks it’s necessary to take this money and support, fine, but it will make her beholden to [Democratic leadership] and corporate interests."

Miller said the Green-Rainbow Party refuses to accept donations from corporations. Miller is self-funding his campaign with a $10,000 loan, according to the latest report from the state campaign finance office. By the end of the race, however, he said he expects to have recouped at least half that amount through donations from supporters.

Farley-Bouvier said her donations don’t come because they influence decisions, they come because supporters "believe a candidate shares a vision."

She said it’s disingenuous for Miller to disparage her fundraising efforts when he’s wealthy enough to finance his own campaign.

"I’m a middle-class person who needed support from people in the community to launch and run a good campaign," said Farley-Bouvier.

Miller was unapologetic about his decision to invest his own money in his campaign.

"We’re out to win, not just to get a few good ideas across. We’re up against big money; rather than just rolling over, we’re trying to do something about it," he said.

Independent candidate Pam Malumphy is trailing her three opponents in fundraising. As of Sept. 30, her campaign had raised $4,683. But she says more donations have rolled in since then, and she was able to save a large amount of money by recycling campaign signs used in her last run for public office.

Malumphy said she’s not worried about finances. She said that, in the end, the election will be about who was able to connect, face-to-face, with the most voters.

Malumphy’s three opponents seem to agree. All said their biggest plan for this weekend is to knock on as many doors as possible.

But some of the candidates will have outside help. Miller said Green-Rainbow supporters from across Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut were planning to come up to help with the final campaign effort.

Likewise, Farley-Bouvier is benefiting from teams of canvassers provided by the state Democratic Party.

Since it’s a special election, Tuesday’s contest to fill the 3rd Berkshire seat is not competing with other local or statewide elections. And Democrats statewide are giving it their attention. Last month, the party lost a seat in the House in a special election for state representative from Bristol’s 12th District, traditionally a Democratic stronghold.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo has also offered free transportation for House members who wish to travel from Boston to campaign in the city for Farley-Bouvier.

And on Friday, Gov. Deval Patrick appeared at a fundraiser for Farley-Bouvier in Pittsfield.

Farley-Bouvier said she’s received support from a broad range of people. She said there’s nothing insidious about all the out-of-town support she’s receiving. In fact, she said she was floored by the governor’s decision to come down and campaign on her behalf.

"It’s pretty cool to have someone of his caliber believing in me," she said. "It means a lot to me."

Candidates on the issues

Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Democrat

Jobs: In addition to the important work of reducing energy and health care costs and continuing to invest in work force development, I plan to continue work on the plan to bring fiber-optic Internet connections to every business and resident in Pittsfield. It will benefit every business in Pittsfield and will be a key recruiting tool in bringing new businesses to the city.

Housatonic River cleanup: I believe a thoughtful, targeted approach is the best course of action. In the rest of the river, we should be identifying hotspots of PCBs and removing them using the best technology available at that time.

Open government: I believe that transparency in government is essential so I am in favor of expanding the open meeting law.

Mark Jester, Republican

Jobs: I want to ensure that regulations and fees on small businesses, which seem like a good idea in Boston and for Boston, stop inhibiting job growth in Pittsfield. Additionally, I want to see more construction jobs in Pittsfield. We have a need for more infrastructure repair. Many of our roads and bridges are in disrepair. There’s state money that needs to be here. I’m not asking for a handout, I’m demanding our fair share.

Housatonic River cleanup: As the president of the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, I have been involved with the clean-up process from the beginning. We quickly realized that the proposed cleanups would in fact destroy the critical habitat further down the river. I support the Environmentally Sensitive Approach to the cleanup.

Open Government: I think open government/records laws should be expanded. There is a culture in Boston that is not good for us here in Pittsfield.

Pam Malumphy, independent

Jobs: I’ve learned that there’s nothing more important than supporting the creation and nourishment of small business. I’d like to create a matching grant program that would partner the state with the GE Economic Development Fund so we can provide either low-interest loans or grants to local businesses that need an extra push.

Housatonic River cleanup: Although I appreciate the low-impact approach, it doesn’t go as far as it need to. And I’m concerned that the high-impact cleanup is not seeking alternatives to dredging. I would very much advocate for a less-invasive alternative to dredging and I would very much advocate for those alternative to be veted going forward.

Open government: I absolutely think the open meeting and records laws should be extended to cover the state Legislature. What does open government mean if it’s not subject to the open meeting law?

Mark Miller, Green-Rainbow Party

Jobs: I would seek a collaborative effort including local businesses, municipal leaders and state officials to draft and implement a jobs plan for Pittsfield. It might include a citywide contest similar to the countywide Operation Jump Start contest I led in the early 1990s as editor of The Eagle.

Housatonic River cleanup: I await the release of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s plan this fall and anticipate favoring it over the minimalist plan backed by GE and 1Berkshire. I see the EPA’s mission as geared toward real river and floodplain cleanup for posterity. I see the GE/1Berkshire plan as primarily aimed at keeping GE’s costs at a minimum.

Open government: Extending the scope of the open-meeting and public-records laws would be a good start toward informing the public about what goes on in state government. Transparency cannot make all office-holders honest or competent, but can lead to greater public participation and better government.

-- Compiled by Ned Oliver

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"Farley-Bouvier in 3rd Berkshire"
Berkshire Eagle, Berkshire Eagle, October 16, 2011

Residents of the 3rd Berkshire District need a state representative who is open and accessible, aware of the particular needs of Pittsfield, knowledgeable about government and willing to fight for the interests of the city and Berkshires as a whole in the Statehouse. All four candidates in Tuesday's special elections have their strengths, but on balance, Democratic candidate Tricia Farley-Bouvier is the best choice for this important position.

For the past nine years, since she got involved in city politics with the Save Our Schools program, Ms. Farley-Bouvier has not only worked hard for Pittsfield she has worked hard with others, and the latter quality will benefit her as a state legislator from a western district. As a city councilor, she was a stalwart proponent of the downtown projects whose success is a key to Pittsfield's resurgence, and she continued those efforts as public affairs coordinator for Mayor James Ruberto. Her six years with the School Building Needs Commission have given her insight that will be valuable for her as a state representative as Pittsfield works with the state to determine the future of its high schools.

Independent candidate Pam Malumphy has criticized Ms. Farley-Bouvier because she and her husband send two of their three children to public schools in Lenox, but we see this as a personal issue and one that does not reflect poorly on Ms. Farley-Bouvier's opinion of and dedication to the Pittsfield public school system. Ms. Malumphy has also drawn attention to her opponent's social conservatism, and indeed, Ms. Farley-Bouvier's opposition to the right to abortion is not a mainstream Democratic view. The Eagle editorial page is pro-choice, but we take Ms. Farley-Bouvier's word that she will not go to Boston as an anti-abortion crusader and that she will support funding for relevant social programs like those dedicated to reducing teen pregnancy. This election is essentially about the economy and education, and we regard Ms. Farley-Bouvier as the strongest candidate overall on these issues.

Ms. Malumphy, who was regional director for the Mass. Office of Business and Development for Western Massachusetts, brings strong economic credentials to the table. She has worked with area businesses and would serve as an effective spokesperson for them in Boston. As a city councilor and a member of the School Building Needs Commission, she gained insight into the issues specific to Pittsfield, including those involving education.

We believe, however, that Ms. Farley-Bouvier has been more effective at working with other officials in bringing goals to fruition. Ms. Malumphy was a Democrat before taking unenrolled status 21 2 years ago and has expressed a desire to caucus with majority Democrats in the House. There is no guarantee, however, that this will happen. What has been going on in Boston regarding casino legislation is a textbook example of the perils of one-party rule, and all of the candidates have justly criticized Democrats for operating behind closed doors. Pragmatically, however, Pittsfield must have a presence behind those closed doors and Ms. Farley-Bouvier is the only candidate of the four who can guarantee it.

Republican candidate Mark Jester says he will be a mediator and conciliator in Boston, and with 15 years under his belt as president of the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, a group that includes a wide variety of interests, we believe him. He promises to go beyond party labels to pursue what is best for the district.

Mr. Jester, however, is not nearly as knowledgeable on specific issues as are Ms. Farley-Bouvier and Ms. Malumphy. In a meeting with Eagle editors, he proposed lowering the sales tax to 5 percent but could not say how that lost revenue would be made up, or what programs would be cut because of that lost revenue. Everyone wants their taxes cut, but that is the easy part. Mr. Jester needed to better flesh out his stances during the campaign.

Mark Miller, who ran for this seat a year ago, was again an enthusiastic advocate for the positions of the Green-Rainbow Party. He was less effective at explaining how he would be a better representative for Pittsfield than his opponents. His victory would indeed be a landmark for his party, but that is of no interest to Pittsfield, and most or many of the positions advocated by the Green-Rainbow Party are supported by the Democratic Party. Mr. Miller said he would be an independent figure in the Statehouse, but that independence could also lead to isolation, which Pittsfield and Berkshire County, with its four House seats, cannot afford.

We thank all four candidates for giving the district the campaign it didn't get last fall when incumbent and now departed state representative Christopher Speranzo spent his time ducking Mr. Miller. We believe Ms. Farley-Bouvier will be the open and accessible representative her predecessor was not, and will be a wise and effective advocate for the city and region. The Eagle endorses Tricia Farley-Bouvier for election as state representative from the 3rd Berkshire District.

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"Farley-Bouvier wins 3rd Berkshire District race"
Berkshire Eagle Staff, October 18, 2011

PITTSFIELD -- Tricia Farley-Bouvier is headed to the Statehouse.

City voters have elected the Democratic nominee as the new state representative from the 3rd Berkshire District during Tuesday's special election to fill the vacant seat.

Farley-Bouvier, who garnered 1,940 votes, edged out Green-Rainbow Party candidate Mark C. Miller, who notched 1,748 votes in the four-way race. Independent candidate Pam Malumphy was third with 1,325 votes, and Republican Mark Jester came in last with 899 votes.

A total of 5,922 ballots were cast out of 24,791 registered voters -- a 24 percent voter turnout, according to City Clerk Linda M. Tyer.

All but two of Pittsfield's 14 precincts -- Ward 1B and Ward 5 B -- make up the state legislative district. Christopher Speranzo left the position in July to become the clerk magistrate in the Central Berkshire District Court.

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Tricia Farley-Bouvier celebrates her victory Tuesday in the the 3rd Berkshire District race for state representative with her family at the Crowne Plaza hotel. Farley-Bouvier narrowly edged out Green-Rainbow Party candidate Mark C. Miller for the seat, winning by 192 votes. (Ben Garver / Berkshire Eagle Staff)

"Farley-Bouvier edges out Miller for 3rd Berkshire seat"
By Dick Lindsay, Berkshire Eagle Staff, October 19, 2011

PITTSFIELD -- Tricia Farley-Bouvier is headed to the Statehouse.

City voters chose the Democratic nominee as the new state representative from the 3rd Berkshire District during Tuesday's special election to fill the vacant seat.

Farley-Bouvier, who garnered 1,940 votes, edged out Green-Rainbow Party candidate Mark C. Miller, who notched 1,748 votes in the four-way race. Independent candidate Pam Malumphy was third with 1,325 votes, and Republican Mark Jester came in last with 899 votes.

A total of 5,922 ballots were cast out of 24,791 registered voters -- a 24 percent voter turnout, according to City Clerk Linda M. Tyer.

All but two of Pittsfield's 14 precincts -- Ward 1B and Ward 5B -- make up the state legislative district. Christopher Speranzo left the position in July to become the clerk magistrate in the Central Berkshire District Court.

Farley-Bouvier's 192-vote victory was her second consecutive close finish in a month, winning the Democratic primary on Sept. 20 by 196 votes. Did she expect another tight race?

"I didn't have a sense of what the final figures would be," she said. "I'm happy I came out on top."

The former Pittsfield city councilor and aide to Mayor James M. Ruberto has to wait until state election officials certify Tuesday's results before she is sworn into office. She expects that could take up to two weeks.

Nevertheless, Farley-Bouvier will begin preparing for her new political career on Beacon Hill.

"I have a lot to learn," she said. "I said I would hit the ground running and I wasn't kidding."

Meanwhile, Miller said he wasn't surprised at his second-place showing, given his impressive showing last year. The first-time political candidate lost to Speranzo by 981 votes in the regularly scheduled 3rd Berkshire election.

He felt a four-way race hurt his second attempt to capture the seat.

"I got a lot of Republican votes last time, because they didn't want to see a Democrat return to Boston," Miller said.

The former executive editor of The Eagle isn't sure if he'll make a third run at the 3rd Berkshire seat in 2012 when the entire state Legislature is up for election.

"I can't really say as I have to think of my family, which has been through a lot since last year.

However, Jester said another 3rd Berkshire campaign next year is possible. He said he was encouraged by the support he received in both the primary and Tuesday's run-off. The real estate agent had to mount a write-in campaign last month in order to win the GOP nomination.

"I went from 200 votes to 900 votes in very little time," he said. "My supporters are encouraging me to run and it's something I will seriously consider."

As for Malumphy, she wouldn't comment on whether another 3rd Berkshire race is in her political future. The former Pittsfield city councilor and mayoral candidate did say she was pleased with her latest campaign.

"We ran a good race, a great race," she said. "I'm appreciative of my supporters and proud of what we did."

When asked by an Eagle reporter if a lack of party backing hurt the independent candidate she said, "The money and resources going to the Democratic nominee proved successful."

To reach Dick Lindsay: rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com, or (413) 496-6233.

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State Rep.-elect Tricia Farley-Bouvier listens intently during the celebration of the opening of the center. She spoke at the gathering in her first official act as a state representative-elect. (Ben Garver / Berkshire Eagle Staff)

"Rep.-elect Farley-Bouvier faces divided constituency"
Berkshire Eagle, October 20, 2011

PITTSFIELD -- In her first official act as Pittsfield’s state-representative-elect, a beaming Tricia Farley-Bouvier spoke at the opening of the Education Center at Conte on Wednesday.

But as much as Farley-Bouvier was thrilled to win the seat during the 3rd Berkshire District special election on Tuesday, she acknowledged it will be a challenge to bring together the needs and desires of a divided constituency that elected her by only 192 votes.

All told, Farley-Bouvier was elected with 33 percent of the vote. A voter turnout of 24 percent means just 8 percent of registered voters in Pittsfield elected to send her to Beacon Hill.

Farley-Bouvier pledged to work with her former opponents, and to draw on their knowledge of the various issues they championed.

"It’s my job to be there representative for the whole district; the people who voted for me, the people who didn’t vote for me and even the people who didn’t vote," Farley-Bouvier told an Eagle reporter after the opening of the educational collaborative at the Conte Federal Building in Pittsfield. "That’s my job and I certainly intend to do it."

Farley-Bouvier edged out Green-Rainbow candidate Mark Miller with 1,940 votes to Miller’s 1,748. Meanwhile, independent candidate Pam Malumphy received 1,325 votes. Republican Mark Jester won 899 votes.

Farley-Bouvier stopped short of saying she’d adopt some of her former opponents’ positions, but she said that, for example, she plans to work with Miller on environmental issues and health care.

"It’s about learning from them the things that they’ve become particularly immersed in, and working with them to help communicate with people and represent different ideas," said Farley-Bouvier.

Miller said he’s still considering a run during the next regularly scheduled election in November 2012. But he said he was open to working with his former -- and possibly future -- opponent.

"I think it makes a lot of sense to do that, to reach out," he said. "I think it’s fairly standard and don’t think it’s just rhetoric, either."

Members of the all-Democrat Berkshire delegation welcomed Farley-Bouvier’s election.

Her victory means the Berkshire delegation is back to full strength, which will be crucial come the first of the year, according to state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli.

Pignatelli, the dean of the delegation, which also includes state representatives Gailanne M. Cariddi and Paul W. Mark and Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, cites two crucial issues lawmakers will deal with when the new legislative session begins in January.

"Pension reform and health care cost reform are two matters the Berkshires needs a full voting membership," Pignatelli said. "Our voices must be heard on these two important issues."

In order for Farley-Bouvier to have an immediate impact on Beacon Hill, Pignatelli urged her to find a mentor and pace herself.

"I leaned on [former state representatives] Dan Bosley and Peter Larkin when I first got in nine years ago," he said. "And remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint."

Nevertheless, Cariddi has found having a constant presence in the Statehouse has been key to her first year in office. Last fall, Cariddi, along with Mark, were elected to their initial two-year term.

"Attend as many [legislative] hearings as you can, especially on items important to your constituents," she said. "I’ve already done that dozens of times."

Cariddi believes Farley-Bouvier will have one advantage she didn’t in order to get acclimated to being a state lawmaker: The newest state lawmakers represents one community compared to the 11 in Cariddi’s 1st Berkshire District.

"That will allow Tricia to delve into constituent issues more deeply," Cariddi said.

Farley-Bouvier said that in coming weeks she’ll be officially sworn in to her new role, but didn’t have an exact date.

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"Farley-Bouvier eyes key votes"
By Ned Oliver, Berkshire Eagle Staff, November 15, 2011

PITTSFIELD -- Going into her first full week as Pittsfield’s representative in the Statehouse, Tricia Farley-Bouvier said she’s focused on getting up to speed on major upcoming votes.

Elected during a special election in October, Farley-Bouvier will be weighing in this week on a number of hot button issues, from casino gambling to congressional redistricting.

Like her fellow Berkshire County legislators, she said she plans to vote for the redistricting plan released last week, which combines the Berkshires with a Springfield-based district currently represented by Rep. Richard Neal.

On casino gambling, Farley-Bouvier said she won’t be sure which way to vote until she sees what kind of protections for cultural nonprofits are included in the final text of the legislation, which is currently being debated behind closed doors by a House and Senate conference committee.

Sworn in Wednesday, Farley-Bouvier made her first vote Friday, voting in favor of approving rules of order for debating the redistricting process.

She has yet to be assigned to any legislative committees, but said she expects appointments to come soon.

She said she’s been overwhelmed by the warm welcome she’s received at the Statehouse.

"I was struck with the camaraderie and the friendliness of everyone," said Farley-Bouvier. "How much they welcomed me, and particularly my family, was very gratifying."

Farley-Bouvier brought 15 members of the Pittsfield step group Youth Alive, who performed in the House’s member lounge before the new representative was sworn in by Gov. Deval Patrick.

The ceremony was also attended by House Speaker Robert DeLeo.

DeLeo commended Farley-Bouvier.

"Representative Farley-Bouvier’s enthusiasm is tangible," he said in a statement. "Her strong leadership skills and knowledge of her district will make her an outstanding advocate for the people of the 3rd Berkshire District."

Making contact

To contact Tricia Farley-Bouvier with legislative issues:

Boston office:
Statehouse, Room 156
Boston, MA 02133
(617) 722-2240

District office (temporary):
113 Oliver Ave.
Pittsfield, MA 01201
(413) 281-7415

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"Mass. House, Senate roll call vote on casino bill"
Boston.com - November 15, 2011

BOSTON — Here's how members of the Massachusetts House and Senate voted Tuesday on a final compromise bill to license the construction of three resort casinos and a slots parlor.

The House voted 118-33 to approve the bill. The Senate passed the bill on a 23-14 vote.

A "yes" vote was in favor of the bill; a "no" vote was in opposition to the bill.

HOUSE:

Gailanne M. Cariddi, D-North Adams - Y

Trisha Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield - Y

Paul W. Mark, D-Hancock - Y

William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox - N

SENATE:

Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfied - N

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"Farley-Bouvier Appointed to Legislative Committees"
Pittsfield.com - December 08, 2011

BOSTON — State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, has been named to the Joint Committees on Elder Services and on Children and Families, and the House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change by the House Speaker Robert DeLeo.

The Committee on Elder Affairs is tasked with considering all matters concerning the elderly, handicapped elders, nursing facilities, prescription drugs, reverse mortgages, senior pharmacy and such other matters as may be referred.

"This assignment gives me a great opportunity to work with elders throughout my district," said Farley-Bouvier. "I look forward to tackling issues to help protect and assist seniors here and across the commonwealth."

It shall be the duty of the committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities to consider all matters concerning mental health and public health issues involving children, child nutrition, homelessness and homeless shelters, public welfare, children, handicapped children and adults, mental retardation, and such other matters as may be referred.

"I am particularly excited to put my professional background and skill set to work on this committee," said Farley-Bouvier. "Ensuring the well-being of children and those with disabilities is a primary responsibility of government."

The House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change has the duty of considering all matters related to the commonwealth's climate policy, including but not limited to greenhouse gas emissions, the climate impacts of renewable energy development and climate change adaptation and mitigation. The committee shall also serve in an advisory capacity to other joint committees that consider legislation with significant climate impacts.

"The commonwealth's climate policy is an incredibly important emerging issue and I am honored to be asked to work on it," she said. "The commonwealth's climate policy will have a great effect on many different aspects of our government and lives."

Farley-Bouvier was elected as representative of the 3rd Berkshire District, which encompasses Pittsfield, in a special election in October.

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"Seniors get advocate in Farley-Bouvier"
By Ned Oliver, Berkshire Eagle Staff, December 18, 2011

With her appointment to the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Elder Services, state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier says she’ll be pushing her peers in the Statehouse to restore funding to local senior centers.

"It’s the first thing I’ll be going after when it comes to budgeting," said the recently elected 3rd Berkshire District representative. She said the centers, which are largely funded through state grants, have taken a hit during recent budget cycles.

Farley-Bouvier officially took office on Nov. 9, but only recently recieved her committee appointments from House leadership.

In addition to her position on the Joint Committee on Elder Services, Farley-Bouvier was appointed to the Joint Committee on Children and Families, as well as the House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change.

While Farley-Bouvier said she appreciates the range of topics offered by her various appointments, she said she’s most excited about her opportunity to advocate on behalf of local seniors.

"I’ve worked so closely with seniors in the city for the last 10 years," she said. In addition to spending three years working on the board of the Berkshire’s Retired Seniors Volunteer Program, Farley-Bouvier said she regularly spends time visiting the Pittsfield Senior Center.

Farley-Bouvier said she’s been focusing on making contact with her constituents in recent weeks.

She said she’s been able to wind down some since her first two whirlwind weeks in office, which coincided with the end of the Legislature’s formal session for the year and included numerous high-profile votes, ranging from the approval of casino gambling to the passage of redrawn congressional maps.

"The votes came fast and furious," she said. "But now I’m really concentrating on meeting with people in the district to better understand the needs here and how I can partner with them to make Pittsfield a stronger place."

Aside from state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli’s appointment to the influental House Ways and Means committee, there were no other major changes in the Berkshire delegations various appointments.

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State Sen. Benjamin Downing holds a town hall meeting at EPOCH Assisted Living at Melbourne on Monday. (Stephanie Zollshan / Berkshire Eagle Staff)

"Delegates look to reverse senior cuts"
By Amanda Korman, Berkshire Eagle Staff, February 7, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Several local delegates said they are ready to go to bat on Beacon Hill for the growing senior citizen population in the Berkshires that faces cuts to some of its key programs.

Both a proposed decrease to Meals on Wheels coffers and a dip that is already in effect in the funding councils on aging receive per capita could put a dent in social services for the 60-and-over set in the county, local leaders say.

Gov. Deval Patrick's proposed budget contains an approximately $1.5 million funding decrease to the elder nutrition program, a reduction state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, said she will fight to undo in order to prevent the loss of about a fourth of the 1,000 free meals produced every weekday in the Berkshires.

Members of the state Legislature will input and debate their budget recommendations over the next three to four months.

Meals on Wheels serves at sites throughout the Berkshires as well as through home delivery, Farley-Bouvier said, during which volunteers also do wellness checks on the elderly recipients.

"Whenever you see cuts in tough budget times, it seems to go in these human services areas, and of course those are the most vulnerable people," Farley-Bouvier said, noting that many senior citizens live in poverty.

Farley-Bouvier, a member of the Legislature's Elder Affairs Committee, also said she would like to see the amount of money granted to councils on aging keep pace with the growing numbers of people age 60 and older. Although Massachusetts' total spending in the line item increased slightly for the current fiscal year, the amount municipal groups received per senior dropped from $7 to $6.25.

Councils on aging conduct various social and outreach programs for seniors including meals, transportation, health screenings and health insurance information.

Farley-Bouvier did not yet know what other budget cuts she would suggest in order to offset the restoration of those funds.

At a town hall-style meeting at EPOCH Assisted Living at Melbourne on Monday, State Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield, said he and the other state representatives in the area are hoping to reverse the proportional decrease in money allotted to councils on aging.

"Everyone in the Berkshire delegation was concerned about the change in funding," Downing told a group of about a dozen senior citizens at the Pittsfield facility. "It's certainly something we have concerns about and are going to try to do everything we can to get that restored."

Diane Weinstein, director of EPOCH and a member of the Pittsfield Council on Aging, said the councils on aging rely on the so-called "formula grants" as a major part of their annual budgets.

"Nobody wants to think about any age group of persons' value going down by 75 cents a head in a year," Weinstein said.

Local advocates are already feeling the squeeze on the formula grant rate reduction. Charis Keeler, director of Lanesborough's Council on Aging, said that because her program is small, "Any little cut, to us, is a big cut."

The loss of 75 cents per senior has sliced into the council's ability to put out a quarterly newsletter, Keeler said, the only way she can communicate with the town's approximately 750 people over age 60.

The council also would like to replace some of the fold-up furniture in its community room with more comfortable chairs, but may not be able to without a turnaround in the budget situation.

To reach Amanda Korman: akorman@berkshireeagle.com (413) 496-6243

By the numbers

Elder nutrition program ...

FY 2012: $6,325,328

Governor's proposal for FY 2013: $4,810,824

Grants to councils on aging ...

FY 2012: $8,254,327

Mass. Council on Aging request for FY 2013 to restore previous "per senior" levels: $9,300,000

Governor's proposal for FY 2013: $8,433,748

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"Reps push to keep funding for senior meals"
By Ned Oliver, Berkshire Eagle Staff, February 22, 2012

DALTON -- Helga Knappe has lived in Dalton since 1950. The 84-year-old says she’s seen firsthand the importance of state-funded elder services like Meals on Wheels.

That’s why she’s worried about Gov. Deval Patrick’s proposal to cut funding for senior nutrition programs.

"The need is dire," she said. "There seems to be an increase in people coming in for food, too. ... How do you want us to deprive some of the elders?"

Knappe and advocates like her across the county are pushing their state representatives to prevent funding cutbacks. In turn, members of the Berkshire legislative delegation are pledging to take the fight to Boston.

"The overarching theme is that, these people have worked hard their whole lives, and it’s not right to make these cuts," said Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, after a forum Tuesday at the Dalton Senior Center. "For some people, these programs provide the only nutritious meals they get."

Patrick’s budget contains a $1.5 million funding decrease to the elder nutrition program, which could mean the loss of about a fourth of the 1,000 free meals produced and delivered every weekday to seniors in the Berkshires.

State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, and Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, already have said they are working to restore funding.

Downing, who held his own open forum Tuesday in North Adams, said concern about elder services has been a common theme as he travels his district talking to constituents.

He said he supports returning the senior program funding to the same levels as years past.

As currently proposed by Patrick, local councils on aging are facing a cut of 75 cents per senior. Currently, they receive $6.25, down from $7 the year before.

Mark and Downing both said other common concerns shared by voters include the typical municipal worries about cuts to local aid. And a theme new to this year, they said, centers around Patrick’s proposal to shift control of Berkshire Community College to a Boston-based board, a prospect the representatives say locals have found unsettling.

The representatives said that, in all cases, it’s easier to get their colleagues in Boston to take their concerns to heart when they’re backed by comments and petitions from constituents.

"The more people that call, write, email, send us petitions, the easier it is to go into the governor’s office and say, look at this, it means something," Mark said.

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"Bianchi: Pittsfield’s downtown wins coveted cultural district designation"
Berkshire Eagle, March 20, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Pittsfield’s downtown has won the state’s designation as a Cultural District, opening up the area to showcase its creative arts and business scene to visitors and residents with help from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Mayor Daniel Bianchi announced today that downtown became one of the first state-designated cultural districts in Massachusetts. Four others -- in Lynn, Gloucester, Rockport and Boston -- also won rights. More than 100 communities were interested in the designation.

Pittsfield’s district will be called the Upstreet Cultural District, a nod to the longtime nickname -- "upstreet" -- given downtown by generations of Pittsfielders.

The district encompasses 50 restaurants, wine bars and cafes, as well as retail shops, museums, theaters and other arts centers. This area in Downtown Pittsfield also has its year-round events ranging from Third Thursdays to the WordXWord Festival.

With the designation, Pittsfield can use it to support and promote its unique identity and sense of place.

It also is aimed at helping Pittsfield attract artists and cultural enterprises, encouraging business and job growth, expanding tourism, preserving and re-using historic buildings, enhancing property values, and fostering local cultural development.

The district will have signs delineating it and the area also will be promoted on the websites of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism and Massachusetts Cultural Council.

"We have a wealth of cultural assets and activities, and together we have worked hard to make them available to more residents and visitors. This designation will help us advance these efforts so that arts and culture continue to strengthen our local economy and enhance our quality of life," said Pittsfield-based state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing in a prepared statement.

"As a 4th generation Pittsfield native, I am thrilled to see Pittsfield’s creative resurgence recognized by the Commonwealth, and I’m especially happy that we are bringing back the beloved name ‘upstreet’ for our downtown cultural district," said Pittsfield’s state representative, Tricia Farley Bouvier, in a statement. "A generation ago, upstreet was the place to be, and I am happy to see upstreet once again as a vibrant hub of the Berkshires."

The Massachusetts Cultural Council’s board approved the Upstreet Cultural District in a vote today. Bianchi and other officials from Pittsfield attended the meeting.

MCC’s Cultural District Initiative came out of an economic stimulus bill passed by the Massachusetts Legislature in 2010.

"Our Cultural Districts Initiative shines a brand new spotlight on the breadth and depth of creative activity happening in every corner of Massachusetts," said Anita Walker, MCC executive director, in a statement. "Each of these communities has something very special to offer a visitor - whether they are coming from across town or across the globe. With this designation, these cities can now take their cultural life to a new level."

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"Local lawmakers say state surplus should be used only for emergencies"
By Dick Lindsay, Berkshire Eagle Staff, November 5, 2012

Massachusetts has amassed the third largest state surplus in the country -- $1.652 billion -- funds local state lawmakers want to remain limited to emergency expenditures.

Late last week, state financial officials reported the so-called "Rainy Day Fund" increased from $1.379 billion at the end of fiscal 2011 to $1.652 when fiscal 2012 wrapped up June 30. The additional $273 million deposited in the Massachusetts fund was fueled by the $116 million left unspent in the fiscal 2012 budget.

Only Alaska and Texas currently have higher reserve fund balances, mainly due to billions of dollars in oil tax revenues, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers.

The Rainy Day Fund is set up to help cover budget shortfalls, pay for the cleanup and recovery from destructive weather and other unforeseen expenses.

The Berkshire legislative delegation cited how deviating from the fund's intent could put the state's financial health at risk.

"Whether a natural disaster or economic crisis, the past five to six years has shown you never have to much money stored away," said state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield.

Local state lawmakers noted how the fund helped the Springfield area rebuild from last year's tornado and helped the state weather the "Great Recession" by avoiding cuts in local aid.

"Taxpayers should feel really good about the state's ability to manage its finances," said state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield.

Tempting as it may be to spend the surplus on non-emergency situations, area legislators say the state is already bracing for several unexpected costs.

"If there is a significant cut in Medicaid from the federal government, that will have a big impact on our budget," Downing said.

"We have no idea what Congress is going to do after the election," added state Rep. Paul W. Mark, D-Peru. "We are doing the right thing with the fund."

Mark noted how state funds may be needed to deal with the fallout from the deadly outbreak of fungal meningitis linked to a Framingham pharmaceutical company. New England Compounding Co. distributed vials of epidural steroid injections to 23 states that resulted in 29 deaths and more than 400 people becoming ill.

"The governor is looking for $30 million for costs associated with the laboratory catastrophe," he said.

A healthy reserve fund balance also saves taxpayers money, when it comes time for the state to borrow money, according to state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli.

"The state continuing to show a surplus should sit well with Moody's and Standard & Poor's in regards to our bond rating," Pignatelli said.

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Pittsfield attorney Michael J. McCarthy’s nomination to a judicial post has been denied. (Eagle file)

"Judge nominee Michael McCarthy rejected for District Court post"
By Jim Therrien, Berkshire Eagle, February 14, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- For the second time in less than six months, the Massachusetts Governor's Council has failed to approve the nomination of Pittsfield attorney Michael J. McCarthy to a judicial post in Southern Berkshire District Court.

Despite the arguments of this region's representative and support from colleagues, the council during an afternoon meeting in Boston voted 5-3 against McCarthy's appointment to fill the vacant judgeship.

Reaction among Berkshires officials was swift and harsh.

"I could not be more disappointed," said state Sen. Ben Downing, D-Pittsfield. "This was essentially a couple of Boston politicians figuring they know better about the judicial system in Berkshire County, and that they know more about the integrity and professionalism of Michael McCarthy. I don't think this reflects well on the Governor's Council."

Downing added that, in the meantime, the Southern Berkshire judgeship remains vacant, putting an extended strain on the justice system in this area. "I don't know what it will take to fill this position. I don't know what the Governor's Council is looking for."

The District Court position would fill a vacancy created with the retirement of Judge James B. McElroy. Judge Fredric D. Rutberg of the Central Berkshire District Court is serving as acting judge for Southern Berkshire District Court until the vacancy is filled.

McCarthy, who was nominated to the position by Gov. Deval Patrick, also failed to win approval in September when the council vote was 3-3. Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray was out of the country on a trade mission to Europe at the time and thus unable to cast a tie-breaking vote in favor of the governor's nominee.

"It is terribly disappointing for me, and for the county," McCarthy said. "But I am heartened by the great outpouring of support."

Currently an attorney with George, DeGregorio, Massimiano & McCarthy in Pittsfield, McCarthy also has served as city solicitor in Pittsfield for two years and has served as an assistant district attorney in Berkshire County.

He said colleagues and others from the area, as well as some council members, "spoke eloquently on my behalf" during a council hearing on his nomination.

State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, assailed what she termed "the antiquated process of a broken system," referring to Governor's Council reviews of judicial appointments.

"Mike McCarthy is a very good man and an outstanding jurist," she said, "and he had gone through a comprehensive vetting and interview process before being nominated by the governor. This was a disservice to Berkshire County and a disservice to Mr. McCarthy."

Farley-Bouvier said she found the possible political machinations "very confusing," but said they seem to indicate "a bias toward Berkshire County."

The nomination process for justices includes a review by the statewide Judicial Nominating Commission, a nonpartisan, 21-member committee of volunteer appointees. They are charged with providing from three to six names of applicants for the governor to review in making his nomination for each judicial vacancy.

State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, who represents the area where the court is located, said McCarthy is a friend and a well-respected lawyer who became ensnared in a still-murky political situation.

"I am very disappointed," Pignatelli said. "They are always looking for quality people to sit on the bench, and in the 25 years I have known Mike McCarthy, there have been none better."

Pignatelli added, "In my opinion, in the last couple of years, the council has become very political."

The eight-member council, which reviews and confirms gubernatorial nominations for the court among other duties, gained four new members following the November election. Murray is an ex officio member.

One of the new members is Michael Albano, a former Springfield mayor who represents Western Massachusetts District 8 on the council. Albano strongly supported McCarthy in comments prior to and during the meeting. He said he heard nothing but praise for the attorney during a recent visit to the Berkshires.

Albano tried Wednesday to have the council postpone its vote so that more input could be received from Berkshire County residents who have worked with McCarthy or otherwise know him.

But according to officials present at the meeting, Murray reluctantly opposed postponing the vote, saying it could set a bad precedent for future council meetings. Murray could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Among those who voiced support or wrote some 30 letters of support to the council were state Supreme Judicial Court Justice Francis X. Spina, Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Ford, all seven members of the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Lawyers practicing in the county; city Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi, Probate and Family Court Judge Richard A. Simons, District Court Judge Paul M. Vrebel, and a number of other local attorneys, court personnel, business and community leaders from the Berkshires and Western Massachusetts.

"Michael McCarthy was a qualified candidate with a tremendous amount of support throughout Western Massachusetts, and we are disappointed by today's vote," said Patrick spokeswoman Bonnie McGilpin, who released a statement on behalf of the governor.

It was not immediately known when another nomination might be forwarded to the council.

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"Rep. Farley-Bouvier critical of legislature's transportation funding plan"
By Jim Therrien, Berkshire Eagle, April 8, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- The $500 million transportation funding plan proposed this week by House and Senate leaders could have a negative impact on Berkshire County, state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, said Friday.

When compared to Gov. Deval Patrick’s $1.9 billion proposal to reform the tax structure and boost transportation, as well as early and higher education funding, the legislative plan is "definitely smaller in scope," Farley-Bouvier said.

Her principal objection, however, is that the House-Senate proposal hikes gasoline taxes by 3 cents from the current 23.5 cents a gallon, along with hiking tobacco and some business-related taxes to fund the transportation budget.

"I’m definitely in favor of using the income tax [as in the governor’s plan], because I feel it will be more evenly distributed across the state," Farley-Bouvier said.

A gas tax hike is unfair to Berkshire County, she said, because this area is rural and lacks a transit system to reduce reliance on motor vehicles.

The governor’s proposal included a plan to raise $1.9 billion a year in new taxes for education and transportation needs, in part through an increase in the income tax from 5.25 percent to 6.25 percent and other tax changes.

Farley-Bouvier said the long-term transportation infrastructure needs the governor’s plan sought to address would get less funding under the legislative plan. "I believe we are going to have to go back and ask for more taxes in the next couple of years," she said. "It’s kicking the can down the road, as the governor said."

Farley-Bouvier said the House is expected to take up the transportation plan today, and the Senate could have it by the end of the week. Lawmakers likely "won’t get to vote on the governor’s plan," she said.

The legislative proposal was outlined in a news conference Tuesday by Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo. The governor held his own news conference Thursday and ripped the plan, according to the Associated Press, calling the House-Senate proposal a "fiscal shell game" that only pretended to solve the state’s transportation needs.

Patrick said he would veto the bill in its current form if it reaches his desk.

DeLeo countered Thursday, saying that the legislative proposal addresses the most urgent problems without imposing a bigger tax burden.

Aside from the tax issue, the plan outlined by the House and Senate leadership was criticized as failing to meet urgent, long-term needs of the state’s transportation infrastructure.

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Tricia Farley-Bouvier: "Teen pregnancy is community issue"
By Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Special to The Berkshire Eagle, June 25, 2013
PITTSFIELD, Massachusetts

I am glad that so many concerned citizens are joining in the discussion surrounding effective sex education, and I’m encouraged to note that our recent discussion has been initiated in part by students themselves. Teen pregnancy is a complicated problem and solutions must come from the community as a whole.

At 34 births per thousand women aged 15 to 19, Pittsfield has the 11th highest teen pregnancy rate of the commonwealth’s 351 communities and a rate double our state’s average. In 2010, teen moms accounted for 46 births in Pittsfield and outcomes for these teenagers and their children can be alarming.

Pregnancy is the chief reason teenaged girls drop out of school. Only one-third of adolescent mothers will graduate high school, and only slightly over 1 percent of those will earn a college degree by age 30. In turn, the children of teen moms are less likely to finish high school than those born to older parents, and nearly half fail a grade along the way. Daughters of teen moms are three times more likely to become teenage mothers themselves. The sons of teen moms are two times more likely to end up in prison. Meanwhile, a staggering two-thirds of families begun by a young unmarried mother live in poverty while more than half of all mothers on welfare had their first child as a teenager.

Stop. Take another look at these figures and consider what they mean to these families. Dreams go unrealized and potential is unreached. Parents and children alike face a higher risk of experiencing poverty, being stuck in dead-end jobs, or becoming entangled in the justice system. Now think what it means to our community and individual taxpayers as we deal with higher dropout rates, fewer people contributing tax dollars, and a less educated workforce that creates barriers to attracting good employers. If we truly want to address cyclical poverty, it is critical that we address teen pregnancy.

I would like to commend the Berkshire United Way and CEO Kristine Hazzard for renewing the effort to combat this problem with their Face the Facts campaign. When Kristine and I spoke in front of the School Committee last month, our goal was to ensure that the school system will be part of the solution by providing students with comprehensive, medically accurate, and age appropriate information.

Some still believe that schools should leave this subject to parents, but studies have shown that providing information from many sources is the more effective approach to sex education. Any setting where adults provide guidance to teens is the right place to discuss relationships, contraception, and the consequences of teen pregnancy. Homes, churches, sports teams, and community centers should serve as open forums to expand on what our students learn in school. Community groups could host forums for parents and students to attend together, similar to the LAMO program many of my contemporaries may remember. I would encourage both classes divided by gender and co-educational sessions that allow girls and boys to listen to each other’s perspectives.

We do not have to choose just one model. The solution to ensuring that our children are exposed to our values concerning sexuality and relationships is having more conversations, not limiting them.

In addition to broad efforts at the local level, I support a bill currently before the Massachusetts Legislature entitled "An Act Relative to Healthy Youth," which ensures that Massachusetts schools choosing to teach sex education will provide information about both abstinence and effective contraceptive use, as well as sexually transmitted infections and healthy relationships. This bill is not a mandate, ensuring that local control over curriculum will be preserved while also maintaining parents’ option to take their children out of sexuality education programs.

With parents, schools, and the community working together we can successfully educate and empower young people to make healthy decisions that will positively impact their individual futures and the future of our entire community.

Tricia Farley-Bouvier is the state representative from the 3rd Berkshire District.

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"Remembering those who served: Devonshire veterans honored"
By John Sakata, Berkshire Eagle, 9/1/2013

LENOX -- During the Vietnam War, Army soldier Patricia McCord worked in the personnel department in Virginia. On a daily basis she watched soldiers dutifully serve their country and go overseas. She said every day was emotionally taxing.

"It was wrenching. I was in the office that determined what unit would go and at what time," McCord, said. "You knew many weren't coming back."

On Saturday, McCord, 79, and more than 30 others were recognized for their military service at Devonshire Estate in Lenox. McCord and the portraits of other veterans were prominently hung in the dining area surrounding a newly painted mural depicting a billowing American flag.

During McCord's time of service she rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel, serving from 1959 through 1979, which included stints in Germany and Panama.

Although she served more than 30 years ago, she still vividly recalls returning soldiers greeted with hostility and even spit upon. She said she hopes the mural and recogonition from Devonshire ease some of that pain.

"I think it's a very nice thing to do and to be recognized in your lifetime," McCord said.

Earlier in the day, President Barack Obama said he'd be asking Congress to approve a limited strike against Syria following evidence that chemical weapons were used by President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. The ceremony carried extra weight with state representatives expressing concern about sending troops overseas into a war zone, a scenario many of the veterans honored experienced first hand.

To open the 30-minute ceremony, Devonshire residents were encouraged to stand -- if they could -- as they were led in the Pledge of Allegiance by Devonshire staff member Beth Bachetti.

Jean Bolan, 92, had a husband and brother-in-law both serve in World War II. Even though she depends on a walker to get around, she grabbed the arms of her chair to lift herself up to participate.

"We all went through a lot," Bolan said. "You don't know it until you've gone through it yourself."

In years past, veterans who found themselves at Devonshire were honored with their photo placed on a black board. In the last week, a special mural depicting a billowing flag was painted by Egremont artist David Vosburgh.

State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier attended the ceremony and read the name of every veteran at Devonshire Estates. The opening remarks were read by State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli who he called for a moment of silence to honor the veterans. During his brief remarks, Pignatelli recalled the nickname "Smitty" is after his dad's best friend who died in WWII, and he said the loss retained its poignancy with his father. Farley-Bouvier -- who has a son who is serving his third tour in Afghanistan -- encouraged the veterans in the room to share their past experience with others.

State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier attended the ceremony and read the name of every veteran at Devonshire Estates. The opening remarks were read by State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli who he called for a moment of silence to honor the veterans. During his brief remarks, Pignatelli recalled the nickname "Smitty" is after his dad's best friend who died in WWII, and he said the loss retained its poignancy with his father. Farley-Bouvier -- who has a son who is serving his third tour in Afghanistan -- encouraged the veterans in the room to share their past experience with others.

During the Korean War, Robert Vanderslice, 84, was one of the infantryman standing between Chinese forces in the north and U.S.-supported forces in the south. Vanderslice, one of three lieutenant colonels at Devonshire, said he's grateful not to be fighting in the current conditions.

"At least you knew where the enemy was," Vanderslice said.

Following the ceremony, McCord and Vanderslice gathered in a corner to talk. When asked about military intervention in Syria, McCord withheld an opinion, but she said the country's leaders should carefully consider the decision.

"I'd like to think they know more than what I know and they are mulling this information carefully in their minds."

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"Most local representatives wary of Massachusetts minimum wage increase"
By Nathan Mayberg, Berkshire Eagle, 11/29/2013

BOSTON -- A measure to increase the minimum wage in Massachusetts, which the state Senate approved last week, came as a surprise to Berkshire representatives in the House.

And while the lone state senator was strongly in favor of the plan, three of the four members of the House delegation are taking a more cautious approach, calling for measures to help businesses before approving a wage hike.

"It's good that the Senate is taking some action," said Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru. "The bill that is going to end up coming out of the House is going to be very different."

Mark, as well as Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Pittsfield, and Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, D-North Adams, said they would be focusing on building protections for businesses before determining an increase in the minimum wage. All three spoke of a need to lower the cost of doing business in the state.

The Senate bill would increase the minimum hourly salary for most workers to $11 by 2016, beginning with a $1 raise in 2014 from the present rate of $8 an hour. The House will take up the measure when it reopens in January.

"I'm very pleased with that action," Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, said on Thursday.

Farley-Bouvier is the only representative of the four to publicly support the Senate bill, which also was backed by state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield.

"I am very much in favor of raising the minimum wage," he said. "A dollar a year over three years is a good rate."

The representatives said they are looking at freezing or lowering the amount that businesses have to contribute to the unemployment insurance fund. Farley-Bouvier said the length of time people receive unemployment insurance benefits could also be lowered.

"Wages are stagnant. People that work a full-time job should not be making $320 a week," Mark said. "There are a lot of people that are working full time and are at the poverty level."

Mark wants a bill that "will offset costs to businesses so that everybody wins," he said.

"If you work a full-time job, it's disgraceful that you will need supplemental (government) assistance," Mark said. "If people make more money, they will have more money to spend."

But, Mark said, an increase in the minimum wage will drive up "the costs of doing business."

Farley-Bouvier said she has spoken with a number of small-business owners who say they pay above the minimum wage. One small-business owner contacted her to oppose the minimum wage bill and dozens of individuals have told her they support it, she said.

"I am very concerned with employees at big-box stores getting paid the minimum wage," she said.

"We pay so much to support these workers at Walmart with SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits and housing," Farley-Bouvier said.

Cariddi said she is waiting until "a more comprehensive look" is taken on the issue. "We need to look at the costs of businesses," she said.

"I'm not on the workforce committee and I haven't really been looking at those issues," she said.

Farley-Bouvier downplayed some of her colleagues' concerns, noting that "people are hurting."

Every time a minimum wage bill comes up, people say it will hurt small businesses, she said. "It never turns out to be true."

Berkshire Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Michael Supranowitz said he hasn't heard from smaller, locally owned establishments, but he has received three calls on the issue -- all from retail and hospitality companies that employ more than 50 people.

"They called to let us know there is a direct impact to their bottom line," he said.

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"Sens. Markey, Warren and Rep. Neal push Time Warner on NECN decision"
By Clarence Fanto, Special to The Berkshire Eagle, 12/13/2013

Time Warner Cable is taking heat from local representatives in Washington over its decision to drop New England Cable News (NECN) from its Berkshire lineup.

Massachusetts Democratic Sens. Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, fired off a letter to the company’s CEO, Glenn A. Britt, late Friday asking him to reconsider the unexplained decision to pull the 24-hour news and weather channel from Time Warner’s cable systems throughout Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire.

The letter came in response to a request from the entire Berkshire delegation of lawmakers to take action on the decision to yank NECN.

Warren, Markey and Neal expressed concern over the TWC action.

"Given that NECN is the only 24-hour source of televised regional news coverage available to Massachusetts residents, we strongly support maintaining its availability to TWC subscribers in the Berkshires," the lawmakers wrote.

"Without NECN, Berkshire communities will be severed from other parts of the Commonwealth," the letter continued, "and be left without access to a wide range of important information about Massachusetts and the rest of New England."

The letter was released late Friday by state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, who told The Eagle that while he appreciated the effort, he would have preferred a stronger approach, such as a phone call to Time Warner’s CEO.

"While we understand that TWC has to consider numerous factors in determining its channel offerings to consumers," the Washington lawmakers wrote, "we urge you to revisit and reverse TWC’s decision to drop NECN. We appreciate your attention to this important matter."

In a statement Friday night responding to the letter, Time Warner said that while it always seeks to keep the lines of communication open, there will be no change in its decision to discontinue NECN.

Berkshire lawmakers, including Pignatelli, State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, and state Reps. Gailanne Cariddi, Paul Mark and Tricia Farley-Bouvier had formally protested the Time Warner action in a strongly worded letter Thursday to the Washington lawmakers.

In response to The Eagle’s query, Time Warner public relations executive Scott Pryzwansky issued a statement earlier this week that "we do not believe NECN represents a good value for all of our New England customers. Value includes several factors, including cost, viewership and unique content." He described the decision as final.

At NECN, Senior Vice President and General Manager Mike St. Peter stated: "We have negotiated with Time Warner Cable, and are very disappointed in their decision, which will result in fewer options and diminished service for their New England customers."

News of NECN’s impending removal from Time Warner at the end of the month unleashed a wave of protest from viewers, some of whom threatened to cancel their cable service.

Although a Boston TV channel is available on the company’s Berkshire systems for scheduled local newscasts, they are blacked out for most of the day and night since the county is designated as part of the Albany TV market, which gives that city’s channels exclusive rights to televise network and syndicated programming to this county.

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Senator Ed Markey at Ben Downing's office in Pittsfield with Mayor Dick Alcombright, Benjamin Downing, Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Gail Cariddi, Paul Mark, and Mayor Dan Bianchi on January 26, 2014.
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"Lawmakers lament impact of benefit cuts on long-term Berkshire jobless"
By Nathan Mayberg, Berkshire Eagle Staff, 1/28/2014

PITTSFIELD -- It's been more than a month since unemployment benefits expired for the long-term jobless, cutting a critical safety net for more than 1,000 Berkshire County residents.

And while Congress currently is debating a bill to extend benefits for the long-term jobless, it's of little solace to more than 1.6 million Americans who are estimated to have already lost them since Dec. 28.

"Nationwide, you've got 72,000 people who are losing their unemployment insurance every week on top of 1.3 million people who lost it on December 28," said U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield. "Economic recovery remains tepid. Demand remains slow."

Neal thinks that President Barack Obama's State of the Union address tonight will be an opportunity for the president to "make his case for extending unemployment insurance," he said.

House Republicans and Senate Democrats forged a budget deal in December that let the benefits expire for those who have received 30 weeks of unemployment insurance in exchange for staving off billions of dollars in automatic budget cuts to defense, Head Start, public housing, the energy department and other government agencies -- a policy known as sequestration.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., vowed that extending unemployment benefits would be at the top of the agenda for Congress when it returned to session earlier this month. While a bipartisan bill is on the floor, the two parties have been unable to bridge their differences.

"Nothing right now," said Giselle Barry, a spokesperson for U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. Markey supports the extension of unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless, though he voted for the budget deal last month.

Barry blamed Republicans in the House who want to pay for extending unemployment benefits with other budget cuts, for holding up a deal. "The longer we wait, the longer people are falling off the program. There is an urgency."

Neal, who also supported the December budget deal, blamed procedural hurdles put up by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for delaying the bill.

"I think it's pretty obvious that it's stalled." he said.

Earlier this month, the Associated Press reported that McConnell offered to extend unemployment benefits by delaying a requirement for Americans to purchase health insurance under Obamacare.

If Congress fails to act, there is little movement in the state Legislature to pick up the slack.

A bill to increase the minimum wage from $8 to $11 in Massachusetts passed the state Senate last December and is expected to be taken up in the House amid talk of possibly lowering the duration of unemployment benefits, from 30 weeks to 26,

State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, said he opposes such a proposal. "They are two separate issues," he said.

"Right now, if you are working for minimum wage, you live well below poverty," he said. With a wage increase, Downing said, "if you are out there working hard by the rules, you (will) get a fair day's pay for it."

Downing said poverty has increased in Massachusetts over the past six years.

"I would rather not decrease the benefits," said state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, D-North Adams.

State Rep. William Pignatelli, D-Lenox, said legislators aren't talking about changing benefits but are looking at reducing unemployment costs for businesses, which pay for the program. He is looking forward to Gov. Deval Patrick's State of the State speech tonight for new proposals.

"I field calls every day of the week from folks frustrated by the online and phone system (for unemployment benefits)," he said.

It can take six to eight weeks for some to receive unemployment benefits from the time they sign up, he said. The state underwent a massive, $46 million overhaul of its unemployment system to a Web-based application last summer, which has caused numerous problems.

"We need to be proactive to find these folks new jobs," Pignatelli said. "We need case managers."

"A minimum wage is only good for people who have a job," he said. "There certainly is a commitment to raise the minimum wage but to what point is anybody's guess," Pignatelli said.

"The bigger story is people who are working and still in poverty," said state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield. "In general, things are getting better (economically) but for somebody without a job it isn't better."

Downing said doing more to help the long-term unemployed is "something we've talked about." He is hopeful Congress will extend benefits again but he is worried they will do "what they have done all too often, which is nothing."

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., issued a statement saying "I'm appalled that Republicans have repeatedly filibustered an extension of emergency unemployment benefits for Massachusetts families who are struggling to make ends meet during tough economic times. This is just wrong. I'm going to keep fighting in the Senate to extend this critical lifeline -- it is the right thing to do for our families and will help strengthen our economy."

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"Berkshire reps seek increased state funds for road repair"
By Richard Lindsay, Berkshire Eagle Staff, February 6, 2014

PITTSFIELD -- Berkshire highway superintendents want Gov. Deval L. Patrick to back a proposed $100 million increase in state aid to fix municipal roads -- some on the verge of beyond repair.

Last week, the Massachusetts House of Representatives proposed boosting so-called Chapter 90 money from $200 million to $300 million for fiscal 2015 starting July 1.

Lawmakers approved a similar funding hike in 2013 for the current fiscal year, only to have the governor pull the plug in August, because of a lack of revenue. State officials say the 3-cent increase in the state gasoline tax wasn’t enough to pay for more state aid to repair and maintain city and town roads.

Given Massachusetts officials want to maintain Chapter 90 money at $200 million as part of a five year, state-wide transportation plan, local highway bosses expect any proposed increase request will fall on deaf ears.

"How can we trust the [Patrick] Administration to come up with this plan again," said Richmond Highway Superintendent Jerry Coppola.

Becket Highway Superintendent Chris Bouchard says municipal road bosses are miffed because they were promised the extra highway funds for fiscal 2014, if they supported the higher gasoline tax.

"This plundering of funds has hit cities and towns hard," Bouchard noted. "We need to fix our roads or we’ll have the most expensive gravel roads, ever."

Bouchard and Coppola were commenting during a recent Massachusetts Department of Transportation hearing into MassDOT’s proposed $12.4 billion Capital Investment Plan. The CIP proposal calls for level funding Chapter 90 money through fiscal 2018.

Monday’s hearing was one of six being held prior to the MassDOT Board of Directors scheduled vote on the transportation plan at its Feb. 12 meeting.

The funding strategy -- subject to state legislative approval every year -- dedicates $6.5 million toward state highway improvements with only $1.58 million for municipal roads.

In addition, MassDOT wants to see $473 million set aside for rail and mass transit, the majority going to the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) that primarily serves the Greater Boston area.

However, state highway officials say the plan is already in trouble, facing a possible $55 million revenue shortfall for fiscal 2015. They told the small gathering at the Pittsfield hearing significant increases in Registry of Motor Vehicle fees are being considered to close the gap, or cut $55 million from the transportation plan. MassDOT officials couldn’t say which of the RMV fees will be targeted, but two Berkshire state lawmakers worry the increase will benefit MBTA riders more than Berkshire motorists.

State Reps. Tricia Farley-Bouvier and Gail Cariddi say county drivers pay millions in fees only to see it go to Boston mass transit. They worry increasing the cost of driver’s licenses, registrations, etc. won’t fully benefit needed road repairs in the Berkshires and Western Massachusetts.

"The money goes to people who go through more sneakers than tires," Cariddi.

Farley-Bouvier suggested a special assessment to cars registered within the MBTA service area to help fund Boston-area public transportation, instead of higher registry fees for all.

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State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier is on a House of Representatives panel reviewing the Department of Family and Children after the high profile Jeremiah Oliver case.

link: www.iberkshires.com/story/45658/Farley-Bouvier-Calling-for-DCF-Changes-In-Wake-of-Oliver-Case.html

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"State Rep. Farley-Bouvier sponsors immigrant driver's license bill"
By Jim Therrien, Berkshire Eagle Staff, 3/6/2014

PITTSFIELD -- A legislative hearing Wednesday on a bill that would allow immigrants to obtain a Massachusetts driver's license drew an overflow crowd, according to co-sponsor and state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield.

The Statehouse hearing room during a session of the Legislature's Joint Committee on Transportation held about 100 people and was packed, Farley-Bouvier said, and it was estimated that twice that number waited outside the room.

"I think a lot of people here are in favor," she said. "There is no question that, for every one against, there are about 20 in favor."

Referred to as the "Safe Driving Bill," House Bill 3285 would allow immigrants, who don't qualify for a Social Security card, to apply for a driver's license.

Farley-Bouvier and state Sen. Patricia Jehlen, D-Middlesex, are the initial sponsors, and about two dozen other lawmakers have signed on in support of the initiative.

The bill also is backed by the Safe Driving Coalition, which represents a number of organizations in the state, and individuals in law enforcement, the medical community and mayors and other municipal officials.

Pittsfield Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi and city Police Chief Michael J. Wynn have entered letters supporting the measure.

"At the core of this legislation is a directed effort to improve roadway safety," Wynn said. "Currently, immigration status is a barrier to applying for and receiving a learner's permit or a driver's license."

Bianchi said in part: "In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level, it is our responsibility at the state and local levels to devise practical responses to the presence of undocumented residents of our communities."

Farley-Bouvier said there are an estimated 120,000 undocumented immigrants in the state, and, as is the case with citizens, about half of those people might be of age and wish to obtain a driver's license.

Because of confusion over provisions allowing documented immigrants to drive here, some of those people also would be covered by the legislation, she said.

Provisions of the bill include that a person who is ineligible to obtain a Social Security card -- and therefore a license -- ask for a letter to document that status. The person would then take the letter to a Registry of Motor Vehicles office to apply for a license.

The bill would require all drivers to be licensed and includes a provision requiring proof of liability insurance. By bringing immigrants into the licensing system, supporters argued that the level of driver training will rise and those who now are forced to drive illegally -- and without insurance -- will obtain a license.

The license would not allow a person to apply to vote in elections or become eligible for public benefits, and it does not provide documentation for employment.

Licenses issued to immigrants would be made distinct in some way from those citizens obtain.

"There is a lot of misinformation out there," Farley-Bouvier said. "We will continue to try to educate people that this is only the right to drive, and it requires that all those who drive have a driver's license."

She said the first indication of the bill's chances for passage will be in mid-March when it would have to be reported out of committee.

Asked whether undocumented immigrants who now drive illegally would step forward to obtain a license, Farley-Bouvier said the strongest indication is that "there is overwhelming support for this in the immigrant community. They certainly are for this."

If the bill is enacted, Massachusetts would join nine states with similar legislation. In the Northeast, Vermont allows licenses for immigrants, and Connecticut will do so beginning in 2015. New York is considering a bill.

Other states addressing the issue include New Mexico, Utah, California, Oregon, Illinois, Maryland, Colorado and Nevada, as well as the District of Columbia and the territory of Puerto Rico.

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"Berkshire lawmakers favor laws on GMO labeling"
By Nathan Mayberg, Berkshire Eagle Staff, 3/17/2014

BOSTON - All five local state lawmakers are backing their constituents' right to know what they are eating.

Berkshire County's four representatives and Sen. Benjamin B. Downing support pending legislation that would require genetically modified organism (GMO) food to be labeled as such in Massachusetts.

One of the five bills - or any combination of them - currently before joint committees of the House and Senate must be reported out with a recommendation to the full Legislature by Wednesday.

Under two of the bills, food sold across the commonwealth containing genetically modified ingredients can't be advertised as natural.

"The point is to get our food labeled so people know what they are eating," said state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield. "People are trying to do a good job of being health conscious and feeding their children good food."

Farley-Bouvier also questions the nutritional value of GMOs and the inability of using seeds from genetically modified food to produce a new crop.

GMOs have been accepted as ingredients that don't have to be labeled due to a 1992 FDA policy statement, according to Martin Dagoberto, campaign coordinator for MA Right to Know GMOs. He said that "recent science shows there are substantial differences in protein structures" and " material differences" of GMOs. Dagoberto pointed out that approximately 90 percent of corn grown in the United States is genetically modified and more than 80 percent of soy and cottonseed is genetically engineered.

"I think the industry is concerned that people will take a second look at it and it will hurt their bottom line." Farley-Bouvier said.

The Grocery Manufacture's Association, which reportedly opposes the proposed new law, didn't return a phone call from The Eagle seeking comment.

State Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, D-North Adams, says more than 300 people have contacted her in support of GMOs being listed on food labels. Cariddi, who sits on the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, supports labeling genetically modified food and seeds.

"We don't know exactly what are the long-term effects of GMOs being put into our food. It's a right-to-know issue for me," she said. Cariddi believes GMOs should be listed along with saturated fat, vitamins and other ingredients currently printed on food labels.

"It's a consumer choice bill," said state Rep. William " Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox. "People want to see what's in the food they're buying off the shelf."

Pignatelli is sponsoring a bill that would require GMOs to be labeled and which would disqualify items as natural if they use GMOs. That bill would exempt products which are from animals that are fed GMO food.

In addition, state Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, supports labeling GMO products in large print to make consumers more aware of their presence in the food they are buying.

"I think it just makes sense that people should have the right to know what they are eating," he said.

Similar legislation has passed in Connecticut and Vermont, according to state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, who says proper labeling is necessary because GMOs "play a huge role in our food production system."

Downing, who serves with Cariddi on the same joint committee, noted the panel was given presentations of studies that differed on whether GMOs pose a health risk to consumers.

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Tricia Farley-Bouvier: "Experience counts as we go to polls"
By Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Special to The Berkshire Eagle, 9/6/2014
PITTSFIELD, Massachusetts

As we get ready to say goodbye to Gov. Deval Patrick, we need to get ready for the next four (maybe eight?) years. Next week, we have an opportunity to go to cast our ballots in the commonwealth’s primary election. It’s been a quiet summer here in the Berkshires as far as political activity and this primary is sneaking up on us. I urge everyone to please take the opportunity to have your say in choosing our next governor, attorney general and treasurer.

After looking carefully at all the candidates, having personal conversations with most of them and comparing their records, I have decided to endorse Steve Grossman for governor, Maura Healey for attorney general and Tom Conroy for treasurer.

Steve Grossman has proven himself as an effective leader in both the public and private sector. I have witnessed how he brings people together to address issues, even the tough ones. I am particularly grateful to and impressed by Steve on how he has handled the Taconic school project in Pittsfield.

Upon being elected to the Legislature, one of my first conversations was with Treasurer Grossman who oversees the Massachusetts School Building Authority to express my concerns for the long-delayed project. After being briefed on the whole background, Steve promised me that he would get the project moving and keep it moving. And he has done just that.

The MSBA process remains vigorous, ensuring that we will have a quality project and spend taxpayers’ dollars efficiently, but gone are the days of wild goose chases of conducting one 18-month-long study after another. Pittsfield is well on its way to getting this long-awaited project approved and we have Steve Grossman to thank for it.
The office of attorney general has also opened up this year and I am supporting Maura Healey. Until Maura started campaigning, she ran about 50 percent of the divisions of the current AG office. Maura has an outstanding reputation for working for Massachusetts families. She led the nation’s first successful challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal law that discriminated against same-sex married couples. She took on subprime lenders, recovering millions on behalf of Massachusetts homeowners.

Maura oversaw the groundbreaking HomeCorps program, which was created to stop unnecessary foreclosures and keep Massachusetts families in their homes. She trained law enforcement on preventing hate crimes and led the attorney general’s efforts to address bullying in schools in addition to achieving breakthrough settlements to ensure that new technologies were accessible to people with disabilities. And talk about pluck! In 10 months’ time, she has come from being a political unknown to leading in the polls due to hard work and getting her message out to voters.

As Steve Grossman is leaving the treasurer’s office to run for governor, this important post is open and I am supporting Tom Conroy. Tom is a colleague in the House of Representatives who shares many of my values. His legislative agenda has focused on the need to create a more just economic system where everyone has a fair shot at success. Many of his initiatives -- raising the minimum wage, advocating for earned sick time, passing a law that affords child care subsidies for single parents who are in job training programs -- disproportionately affect and benefit women in the workplace and working families.

With two advanced degrees in finance and economics and 16 years in the private sector in the finance and management consulting sector, Tom is the only candidate with experience in the financial service industry. One of the main jobs of the treasurer is to help Massachusetts get low interest rates when it sells bonds; Tom’s experience in this arena is literally worth millions to taxpayers. And just as Steve Grossman took a special interest in the Taconic building project Tom, as the new head of the MSBA has already been briefed and has assured us that we will continue our momentum in moving forward.

I urge everyone to get out to vote on Tuesday, Sept. 9, and to find out more about Steve, Maura and Tom.

Tricia Farley-Bouvier is a Democratic state representative from Pittsfield.

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"Berkshire Lawmakers Head Into 2015 With New Governor"
By Jim Levulis, WAMC, December 29, 2014

As 2015 approaches, Democratic lawmakers from the Berkshires are eying a new legislative session — and for the first time in eight years, a Republican governor.

Although the Berkshire delegation remains unchanged from the previous legislative session, there will be some shifts and new faces in the Statehouse in 2015. Republican Charlie Baker replaces Democratic Governor Deval Patrick, who did not seek a third term. Democratic Senate President Therese Murray is retiring after more than two decades on Beacon Hill and is expected to be replaced by Stan Rosenberg of Amherst. Running unopposed, State Representative Smitty Pignatelli was elected to a seventh term. The Democrat’s reelection comes at time when Governor Patrick is proposing cuts to close what his administration says is a $329 million budget gap, which the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation claims is closer to $750 million.

“I think its somewhere in the middle,” Pignatelli said. “I think the new governor-elect and the legislature has to get really working on that. I’ve had meetings and discussions with the House Ways and Means chairman about this and where things are going to go. We’ve seen mid-December revenues exceeding expectations, which is a good trend to try to close that gap.”

Governor-elect Baker has not said how he might address a possible budget gap, except to rule out tax increases and cuts to local aid. State Senator Ben Downing ran unopposed while serving as the Massachusetts Democrats’ coordinated campaign chair this election. Democrats took all the statewide offices except governor and lieutenant governor. In 2015, Downing says he wants to increase economic opportunity in western Massachusetts.

“Part of that I think is tackling poverty,” Downing said. “It’s about making sure that we’re creating economic opportunity at all rungs on that economic ladder. We’ve got a lot of work to do there. That’s stuff actually that Governor-elect Baker talked about when he talked about increasing the earned income tax credit in other areas. Certainly I hope to be a part of that conversation.”

Pittsfield State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier did not face a challenger. The Democrat plans to continue proposing drivers licenses for undocumented people, something Baker said he was opposed to during the campaign.

“I think it makes the road to success more difficult,” Farley-Bouvier said. “But if we can work with the governor [Baker] on understanding that indeed because someone doesn’t have the proper immigrant documentation doesn’t mean they don’t have good identification. That we know who these people are seems to be his primary concern. If somebody has a passport from their home country or something like that then we can use that to prove their identity. Then we can forward to insure that all the drivers on the road are trained, licensed and insured.”

Farley-Bouvier also plans to look at the best ways to address sexual assaults on college campuses, while Pignatelli expects cutting expenses to be increasingly important for small school districts with shrinking enrollments. A shared services agreement between six Berkshire districts was not funded this year as Governor Patrick cut the grant program to address the budget gap. Pignatelli also believes opiate addiction will remain a top issue, and Downing plans to continue his focus on energy issues with pipeline proposals taking up many headlines in 2014. Democratic Representatives Paul Mark and Gailanne Cariddi also ran unopposed in November.

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Charlie Baker, center, is sworn in as governor of Massachusetts by Mass. Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, front left, Thursday in the House Chamber of the Statehouse in Boston. Baker's wife Lauren, right, holds the family Bible as his daughter Caroline, behind left, and his sons, A.J., behind center left, and Charlie, behind right, look on. (Steven Senne — The Associated Press)

"Democratic Berkshire delegation encouraged by new governor's approach"
By Dick Lindsay, The Berkshire Eagle, 1/9/2015

BOSTON - The Democratic Berkshire delegation was encouraged by how Republican Gov. Charlie Baker addressed budgetary, economic and health issues — especially prescription drug abuse — during his inauguration speech Thursday afternoon.

The state's newest chief executive spoke for about a half hour after being sworn in at the Statehouse with a tone that resonated with the people of Massachusetts as much as it did the state Legislature voters elected in November, according to several local state lawmakers.

Pittsfield state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier said Baker's commitment to deal with opiate addiction across the commonwealth resonated with her and likely her constituents.

"That not only stood out, but showed a commitment ... that clearly got resounding support in the House chamber," she said.

"This is a gigantic issue that affects family, friends and neighborhoods across the state," added state Rep. Paul Mark, of the 2nd Berkshire District.

Baker's comments regarding the misuse of powerful painkillers and other prescription drugs drew a sustained standing ovation — the only one he received — from everyone attending the inauguration ceremony in Boston.

"[Opiate addiction] has the ability to wipe out all the good work we do in education, job creation; it can undermine the family foundation," said Berkshire state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing.

The 58-year-old successor to Democrat Deval L. Patrick, who didn't seek re-election, made opiate addiction one of his priorities two days after defeating Democrat Martha Coakley and three others in the Nov. 4 gubernatorial race.

In an interview with The Boston Globe, he said he was concerned his son AJ Baker would become reliant on Percocet, which was prescribed to the college student after he broke his arm days before the election playing football for Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.

Baker said he believes economic growth will be a key solution to dealing with controlling state spending, both short and long term. The state's current fiscal 2015 budget is running a $500 million deficit that he said he and legislators must address immediately.

The two branches working together to erase the red ink will be key to developing a good working relationship, Downing said.

"The budget issue will set the tone, but it won't necessarily test our resolve," he said. "Budget challenges will come and go and we'll have other pressing issues down the road."

From January 1991 to January 2007 a Republican governor and Democratic-controlled Legislature in Massachusetts achieved some successes, which lawmakers attributed to working together as people, not partisans.

"I don't think it's about party, but common sense," Mark said.

Farley-Bouvier noted Baker's political neutrality was reflected in his wardrobe during the inauguration.

"He wore a purple tie, not red or blue, but purple," she said.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233. rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com @BE_DLindsay on Twitter

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"Time is right to invest in our future"
By Tricia Farley-Bouvier, The Berkshire Eagle, March 31, 2015

BOSTON - In Pittsfield we are about to make the most important economic development decision in a generation. After a decade of planning and more than 50 public meetings, the new Taconic High School can soon become a reality.

A decade ago it was reported through Taconic's re-accreditation process that the existing building fell far short of today's standards. In response the mayor re-energized the School Building Needs Commission. In the fall of 2007, a 5-day workshop was held in which 40 people, teachers, business people, elected officials and parents got together and drafted a vision for high school education in our community. After much thought and discussion we settled on some core values:

* We wanted our school to be welcome members of the public and be a center of the community. After all, the whole public is paying for it.

* We wanted Career Vocational Technical Education (or CVTE, the shops) to be integrated with the traditional academic classrooms.

* We wanted the design to facilitate collaborative learning and to allow for flexibility for changes in educational practices over time, without being "trendy." We were clear that we did not want to repeat the mistake of the open classroom design of the early 1970s.

* We wanted the building to be safe and we wanted it to be as energy efficient as we could make it.

REFLECTS OUR VALUES

I am delighted and deeply appreciative that the beautiful and highly functional design that has emerged in the last few months reflects the very values we put forth in those visioning sessions.

The city and the school district have been partnering with the Massachusetts School Building Authority in developing a program of study and a building designed for the 21st century. It is based on solid enrollment projections that indicate we can expect a high school enrollment of approximately 1,850 students, which makes a two high school plan the right one for Pittsfield.

Labor market studies and input from local industry assisted the School Committee in determining the right mix of CVTE programs needed to prepare our students for college and/or career readiness, and provide local employers with a steady stream of high quality workers.

Some residents may ask whether the city can afford this project right now. My response is we cannot afford to turn down this vital economy-boosting project. We should draw inspiration from our grandparents who built the Pittsfield High School building in the middle of the Great Depression, without state financial assistance. If they were willing to invest in the future during hard times, then we should too.

LET'S GET OUR SHARE

It is also important to note that the commonwealth's portion of the cost comes from one penny of the sales tax. That means that whether you buy a cup of coffee or a flat screen TV, one cent of that 6.5 percent tax goes to the MSBA to fund projects all over the state. An estimated $10 million leaves Pittsfield each year and goes to the MSBA. That's a lot of pennies that Pittsfield taxpayers have been providing to build projects in other communities.

I think the time is right for people in the rest of the state to send their pennies right here to Pittsfield. Our children, and our community, deserve that kind of investment.

Tricia Farley-Bouvier is the Democratic state representative from the 3rd Berkshire District.

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April 14, 2015

Re: Tricia Farley Bouvier's proposal for Veterans services

Why is Pittsfield Representative Tricia Farley Bouvier sponsoring legislation to eliminate local veterans agents and create regional operations centers ran by the state government instead? She wrote: "The agents and their deputies, assistants, and any administrative staff, would be state employees who provide benefits directly from the state to the veterans and veterans' dependents within their district, removing the burden of those benefits from local taxes."

Communities throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are sending Tricia Farley Bouvier letters opposing her bill.

As a 100 percent service connected disabled Veteran who lived in Pittsfield, Massachusetts after my honorable discharge from the U.S. Army, I, too, oppose Representative Tricia Farley Bouvier's proposal. Veterans have sacrificed their lives to serve our country, and they should not have to face a state bureaucracy when they are in need of public services.

- Jonathan Melle

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During a tour of Pittsfield with Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi and Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey looks at the sculpture 'Infinite Dance' by artist Carol Gold Monday in the Common in Pittsfield. (Gillian Jones — The Berkshire Eagle). August 10, 2015
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Sheila Irvin, Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Sean Calnan and Peter Lafayette examine maps of Tyler Street. Tyler Street is the target of a Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) that kicked off Wednesday. (Ben Garver — The Berkshire Eagle)

"Pittsfield, state launch initiative to revitalize Tyler Street: Initiative will draft plan for revitalization on neighborhood"
By Dick Lindsay, The Berkshire Eagle, August 20, 2015

PITTSFIELD — Bill Cormier pictures the Morningside neighborhood creating a new image for itself.

The art gallery owner on Tyler Street envisions a graphic arts museum on one of the dormant properties along Tyler as a way to breathe new life into the business district, just as theaters did for the city's downtown a decade ago.

And as Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art did for North Adams.

"In a strange way, [Mass] MoCA would help us as it demonstrates how arts can rejuvenate a community," he said.

Cormier and dozens of other area shopkeepers, homeowners along with city, state officials and community leaders wrote their suggested improvements on poster boards during a two-hour meeting Wednesday morning to kick off the Tyler Street Transformative Development Initiative.

The initiative is one of 12 in cities across the commonwealth being funded and overseen by MassDevelopment. The state's quasi-public financing agency, with the help of a consultant, the city and neighborhood organization, will spend the next several months asking those who live and work in the Tyler Street district how best to bolster the area's economy and improve the quality of life for residents.

Once the information gathering is complete, Elan Planning, Design and Landscape Architecture of Saratoga Springs, N.Y. will draft a plan for review, make necessary changes based on public feedback and issue a final report early next spring.

City and state planners hope to build on recent individual redevelopment in the Morningside area, such as the Silk Mill Apartments, the conversion of a century-old factory into affordable housing, and the soon-to-be-built Berkshire Innovation Center within the William Stanley Business Park of the Berkshires.

Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi grew up two blocks from Tyler Street and recalls how the area was "incredibly vibrant" during the heyday of General Electric in the 1950s and '60s, now replaced by the underdeveloped business park.

"Anything the working family needed, was right here in the Morningside area," he told the gathering at the IUE Local 255 Union Hall, across from Woodlawn Avenue.

Today, Bianchi and others view the dozens of small businesses — and its residents — as the backbone of the newly defined development district and key to building on the current grassroots attempt to revitalize the area. The rectangular section is bordered by First Street to the west, Woodlawn to the east, Stoddard Avenue to the north and Maude and Kellogg streets to the south.

In recent years, the Morningside Initiative and the Tyler Street Business Group have fostered individual and community improvements such as neighborhood cleanups, the annual Discover Tyler Street block party, this year set for Aug. 27, and encouraging home and businesses owners to stay and attract new ones.

"Never underestimate the importance of neighborhood groups," said Peter Marchetti, vice chairman of the 14-year-old Morningside Initiative. "But those sitting on the sidelines must now get involved."

Anne Haynes, the new initiative's program director for MassDevelopment, urged the neighborhood to control its own destiny.

"Property owners, business owners and residents all need to be part of the redevelopment," she said.

During the planning process, the consultant will conduct individual interviews, host focus groups, open houses, public information meetings and study the socio-economic makeup of the new initiative. In addition, the proposal will identify potential funding for improvements, beyond using city taxpayer dollars.

The result should be an action plan that invites public/private investment in the district, according to Lisa Nagle, Elan's co-founder and principal planner.

"We're going to create a brand image for [Tyler Street,]" she said.

David Twiggs believes that image needs to include more youth programs, such as the mentorship program at the Goodwill Industries of the Berkshires at the west end of Tyler Street.

Twigg, a city resident, is the logistics manager for the local Goodwill who told The Eagle he welcomes the all-inclusive approach to shaping the neighborhood's future.

"Most important is what the community wants and needs and that we're talking about an area beyond Tyler as just as a street," he said.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233. rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com @BE_DLindsay on Twitter.


Ben Garver — The Berkshire Eagle The first meeting of the Tyler Street Transfomative Development Initiative provided an introduction to the project and input from the participants.

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"Many came through for arts community"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letters, September 7, 2015

To the editor:

The Eagle's Sept. 3 editorial "MCC funding has impact in Berkshires" rightfully shows the importance and value of state investment in the arts and cultural sector. To communities across the state, the Berkshires are a model region for how to utilize the cultural community to drive economic and cultural vibrancy.

The increase in the MCC budget this year was no easy fight. Kudos go out to Jen Glockner, the director of Pittsfield's Office of Cultural Development, and the dozens of institutions and working artists who let their voices be heard loud and clear in the six-month budget making process.

This was true especially in July when the legislature voted to overturn Gov. Baker's veto of the increase. The Berkshires delegation, Sen. Downing and Reps. Pignatelli, Farley-Bouvier, Mark, and Cariddi, were once again arts champions at the forefront of the fight for the override.

Matt Wilson, Boston
The writer is executive director, MASSCreative.

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Tricia Farley-Bouvier: "Our right to know what's in our food"
By Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, September 19, 2015

PITTSFIELD - Growing up, I looked forward to the end of August as it meant a visit to my grandfather's garden in Richmond. Rows of fresh, unadulterated, sweet corn were ripe for the picking, and that's exactly what we did. The taste was unforgettable.

But as I reflect on this experience, my thoughts shift to the concerning state of our food today. It is not the food we served up when we were kids, and in the last 10 years the changes have come at an increasingly rapid rate. This is due in part to genetically modified organisms (GMOs), whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated due to genetic engineering. Our food has been changed at the cellular level by Big Agriculture companies like Monsanto in order to be weed resistant.

In the U.S., GMOs are in as much as 80 percent of conventional processed food, according to the NonGMO Project, a nonprofit organization, which provides third party verification and labeling for non-GMO food and products in the U.S. The fact there is no scientific consensus on the safety of genetically engineered foods is all the more unnerving.

However, consumers are denied the opportunity to make informed choices about their food selections because of the widespread inclusion of GMOs into the food stream. Considering that some of the most common GMO foods include soy, cotton, canola, corn, sugar beets, yellow squash, and zucchini, it's becoming hard to know what to avoid.

We all have a basic right to know what's in our food, and it starts with H3242, an act establishing the genetic engineering transparency food and seed labeling. I fully support this bipartisan legislation, and it clearly struck a chord among members of both the House and Senate — 153 of my colleagues, including the entire Berkshire delegation — have signed on as co-sponsors.

That rare breadth of support is due to the groundswell of individuals who have contacted their own elected leaders demanding to know what they are eating and serving their families. A 2013 New York Times poll revealed that 93 percent of respondents supported labeling food that has been genetically modified or engineered.

H 3242, modeled after similar legislation in Vermont, Connecticut and Maine, will require all food offered for retail sale in Massachusetts that is entirely or partially produced with genetic engineering to be labeled clearly and conspicuously with the following: "produced or partially produced with genetic engineering." If the product is not individually packaged, this label will be put on the bin or shelf where it is sold. Food produced with genetic engineering shall not be labeled as "natural," "naturally grown," "all natural," "naturally made" or anything similar that would tend to mislead a consumer.

The public will have an opportunity to share its thoughts on this legislation before the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture on Tuesday, Sept. 22. If passed, GMO labeling will equip Massachusetts residents with similar rights that already exists in 64 countries where GMO food has either been banned or requires labeling.

Food labeling is not a new concept, and the steps we have taken in past years have empowered consumers to make informed decisions. The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 revealed per-serving nutritional information and the Food Allergy Labeling and Consumer Protection Act has helped vulnerable individuals avoid life-threatening ingredients. GMO labeling is simply another step to maintain transparency to the American food system and to ensure consumer confidence.

The well-funded opposition will argue that this measure will increase grocery costs for families. That is completely false. Food products often have different labels depending on region of sale. For example, some of the same products that we have here in the U.S. are sold in Europe under labels clearly indicating the GMO ingredients.

Big Agri also wants you to believe that what they are doing now is no different than developing hybrid fruits and vegetables. Another falsehood. While the creation of hybrids create a bigger variety, GMO produce exists to have a higher tolerance to herbicides. Therein lies the difference, and it's an important one to understand.

The data clearly show that when people know more about GMOs, their demand for transparency increases. Here in the commonwealth, we are listening, and this legislation will help to create a food system that we can all feel confident about.

Information is truly power when it comes to knowing what's in our food, and I encourage you to learn more. The Massachusetts Right to Know GMOs, a statewide network of safe food advocates, is leading the effort to pass the GMO labeling in the commonwealth. To learn more, please visit marighttoknow.com.

Tricia Farley-Bouvier is a Democratic state representative from Pittsfield.

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Tricia Farley-Bouvier: "Gender ID bill is a matter of fairness"
By Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, November 5, 2015

PITTSFIELD - Did you know, today, in the year 2015, there is class of people who are not protected by law as to where they can eat, sleep, shop, and even use the bathroom?

While we'd like to believe that all persons, especially here in the commonwealth of Massachusetts, are afforded such protections under the law, the truth is that in public places transgender persons are not protected under current law.

In 2011, the Massachusetts legislature passed An Act Relative to Gender Identity – which I'm proud to say was filed in the Senate by Sen. Ben Downing of Pittsfield — that allowed Massachusetts to become the 16th state to add nondiscrimination laws for gender identity in the areas of employment, housing, K-12 public education, and credit. It also ensured that Massachusetts Hate Crimes laws included gender identity — as defined in the 2011 law as "a person's gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person's physiology or assigned sex at birth.

OPEN TO DISCRIMINATION

However, protections in public accommodations was left out of the final bill. Therefore, transgender persons are still susceptible to discrimination in any place that is open to the public and provides goods and services. According to a national transgender discrimination survey, 58 percent of Massachusetts respondents "experienced verbal harassment or mistreatment in public accommodations like hotels, restaurants, buses, airports and government agencies because they were transgender."

The gap in the law boils down to this: businesses cannot discriminate in employment against transgender persons, but have the right to deny them services as customers.

It is clear that this loophole needs to be addressed, and we have an opportunity to remedy this with the proposed legislation, the Act relative to Transgender Nondiscrimination (H1577 & S735), otherwise known as the Transgender Accommodation Bill. Filed by Reps. Denise Provost (D-Somerville), Rep. Byron Rushing (D-Boston) and Sen. Chang-Diaz (D-Boston), offers transgender persons full protection under the law, allowing them to enter and use public accommodations without fear of discrimination or subjective reproach.

On Oct. 6, the Joint Committee on the Judiciary listened to testimony from individuals and families who shared their experiences of discrimination. The legislation is now under review and there are several more steps before the full legislature will have an opportunity to vote on it.

I am hopeful that this legislation will move forward to provide a full measure of protection to those vulnerable to discrimination, and as a member of the Democratic caucus, I am especially proud to note the staunch advocacy efforts of so many of my colleagues toward this effort.

At the core of this legislation is basic civil rights under the law. However, I am cognizant that the subject of transgender persons — those with either assistance from medical intervention or by visible presentation who transition to a different gender — is a provocative issue and something new for a lot of people. There are a lot of people who don't understand, and I am admit, I don't understand everything about the subject.

What I am crystal clear is this: I believe you don't have to understand everyone's perspective, or agree with it, to realize that every person deserves equal protection under the law.

The proposed legislation is good news for individuals like Ella DeGiorgis, a transgender woman who was a guest on my public television show, Berkshires to Beacon Hill, earlier this month.

DeGiorgis, who said she considers herself an activist, described her concerns including worrying about if the restaurant she frequents will allow her to use the bathroom or if a gym membership will allow her access to appropriate changing facilities. "It makes it hard to enjoy a full life," she said.

You can't get any more basic than having the right to use a restroom. Interestingly enough, there actually is no law that specifies males and females must use their gender-assigned restroom, noted Representative Provost, who was also a guest on my show; rather, enforcement is something that occurs through social custom.

CRUEL MISCONCEPTIONS

And while these are basic rights, opponents of the legislation view it much differently. Dubbed "the bathroom bill," opponents believe the legislation legalizes predators to go into girls' bathrooms and carry out assaults. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Current data simply does not point to incidents of transgender individuals using gender identity to harm people. The proposed law does not sanction criminal activity – it has always been illegal for anyone to enter a restroom to either harm or sexually harass another individual.

Another important area to note is that this bill would not place any mandates on the school systems across the commonwealth to change their policies. Since 2011, school districts have been, and continue to, make arrangements, as they best determine, to accommodate needs of transgender students.

As stated before, I understand that this is an issue that will generate spirited discussion, and that's always a good thing. But it is my hope that in the midst of the conversation, we don't lose sight of the fact that a lack of understanding of individual perspectives should never impede basic rights under the law.

Tricia Farley-Bouvier is a Democratic state representative from Pittsfield.

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[Tricia Farley-]Bouvier just posted this on Facebook

"Massachusetts Property Taxes Grow By Largest Amount In Five Years"
December 1, 2015 via Dan Valenti's blog comment section on 12/2/2015

Property tax revenues across Massachusetts rose by 4.1 percent in the last fiscal year, the largest annual increase since fiscal 2010, but cities and towns continue to struggle to pay for employees and services due to unfunded fixed costs, according to a new report.

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation (MTF) concluded in its annual municipal financial data report that Bay State cities and towns are “stuck in an era of modest rebound.” Overall, total municipal revenues grew by 3.8 percent.

“The pursuit of the 5.2 percent average annual revenue growth we witnessed between 1982 and 2009 continues to become more unattainable in the short term,” MTF President Eileen McAnneny said in a statement.

Cities and towns face a collective $45 billion in unfunded pension and retiree health care liabilities, a burden that’s forcing local officials to make difficult decisions about spending priorities.

“Municipalities’ growing reliance on and limited control over property taxes, along with the unlikelihood of dramatic increases to state aid and local receipts, signals that municipal budgets must increasingly align with the slower growth rate of recent years,” the report said.

Local non-property tax receipts such as motor vehicle excise, hotel and meals taxes, building permits and service charges grew by $220 million in fiscal 2015. The 5.1 percent increase in those revenues was the largest leap since fiscal 2008.

Gov. Charlie Baker, who has emphasized his support for cities and towns sharing in the state’s revenue growth, is scheduled next month to unveil his second state budget proposal, including proposed local aid levels for fiscal 2017 which starts on July 1, 2016.

Cities and towns use local aid to supplement property taxes, the two main revenue sources for municipal budgets. Property taxes across Massachusetts totaled $14.6 billion in fiscal 2015, an increase of $579 million over fiscal 2014.

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"Local tax revenues slow to rise"
The Boston Globe, December 6, 2015

A new report by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation finds that even as the overall economy improves, the state’s cities and towns are still feeling plenty of financial strain. Municipal revenues grew by a modest 3.8 percent in the last fiscal year, a figure that remains below historical averages prior to the recent recession. Wages for municipal employees grew by 3.7 percent last year, a rate higher than the average for private sector workers in Massachusetts. Municipalities collected a total of $14.6 billion in property taxes last year, an increase of 4.1 percent and the largest year-over-year increase since 2010, according to the report. (AP)

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Pittsfield City Councilor Christopher Connell recently was elected to his third term representing Ward 4. Eagle file.

"Pittsfield City Councilor Christopher Connell to announce bid for House seat"
By Jim Therrien, The Berkshire Eagle, January 13, 2016

PITTSFIELD — City Councilor Christopher Connell plans to enter the 2016 race for the House seat now held by Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield.

Connell, of Dawes Avenue, said he will detail his reasons for running for the 3rd Berkshire District seat during a press conference at 3:30 p.m. Thursday on the City Hall front steps.

The Ward 4 councilor, now beginning his third term, said he is an independent politically and is not enrolled in either the Democratic or Republican party. He said he has until March 8 to declare whether to seek the nomination of one of the parties or pursue an independent ballot line.

While a councilor, Connell has also served on several committees and commissions, including the Traffic Commission.

Connell, 57, has said his interest in seeking a legislative seat dates back to his early years growing up in the Bennington, Vt., area. After graduating from St. Michael's College in Colchester, Vt., he worked in Rhode Island for many years before moving to Pittsfield in 2002.

He said family members have lived in Pittsfield since the 1970s.

Asked Wednesday whether she will seek another term in 2016, Farley-Bouvier said, "I am indeed running."

Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247. jtherrien@berkshireeagle.com @BE_therrien on Twitter.

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City Councilor Chris Connell announces his candidacy for state representative Thursday on the steps of Pittsfield City Hall. The 3rd Berkshire House seat is currently held by Tricia Farley-Bouvier. Connell said he would remain on the council if elected. (Stephanie Zollshan — The Berkshire Eagle)

“Chris Connell to seek House seat, would remain on Pittsfield City Council”
By Jim Therrien, The Berkshire Eagle, January 14, 2016

PITTSFIELD — City Councilor Christopher Connell, who said he is unafraid of long work weeks, intends to run for the 3rd Berkshire House seat in the fall election and would retain his seat on the council if elected.

The Ward 4 councilor and about two dozen supporters gathered on the City Hall steps Thursday afternoon to announce his bid for the House seat now held by state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield. Connell confirmed afterward that he also intends to remain on the council if elected to the Legislature in November.

"During my two terms on the City Council, I started to understand that there is only so much I can do locally, and I feel I can accomplish more for the city at the state level," Connell said.

He said the city needs someone to more effectively advocate for funding for infrastructure repairs and for the school system.

"I can see them as glaring needs, and as a councilor, there is only so much I can do," he said.

"We also need to explore options of regionalization with neighboring communities due to shrinking populations and increasing costs," Connell said.

Connell, 57, of Dawes Avenue, said he is now running as an independent for the office, but will decide whether to seek one of the party nominations for the House seat before a March 8 deadline to make that declaration. He has stressed as a councilor his preference for working with all political factions toward practical solutions to problems and said he is comfortable with that role.

"I've always been an independent voice for the city of Pittsfield, and I am going to go forward as an independent voice," he said.

One change that could influence the upcoming Berkshire legislative race lineup would be if one or more of the House or Senate incumbents decides against seeking a new term, but thus far none has made such an announcement.

Contacted Thursday, Farley-Bouvier said she intends to seek another term. "This is what democracy is," she said of Connell's bid. "I feel confident in running on my record, which I would put up against anyone."

The incumbent also was critical of Connell's intention to continue as a councilor if elected to the House. "It is certainly legal to collect both those paychecks, but it is not possible to do both these jobs," she said, "especially if you're from the Berkshires. He may not be accounting for the time on the [Turnpike]. So he is either fooling himself or fooling the voters."

She said the dual role might be possible "with a helicopter."

"It is my intention to do both," Connell said during a short press conference after his announcement. "Logistically, I think I can."

He said that is in part due to the fact council meetings are at night while most legislative sessions are held during the daytime. He said he has also checked with the state Ethics Commission to learn that there would be no conflict of interest.

Connell added that he wants to provide "a direct link from local government to state government. I want a local voice in the Statehouse."

As for his private sector work, Connell said he owns rental properties and has reliable employees working with him so he can be freed up to serve both on the council and in the Legislature. His wife, Esther, who is his campaign treasurer, also has experience in real estate, he said.

His prior work, he said, included 20 years in management with the F.W. Woolworth Co., and with the Cumberland Farms Inc., where he became a regional manager with 45 stores in the Rhode Island area, with an annual budget of more than $100 million.

In addition to serving on the council for the past four years, he has served on a number of commissions, committees or boards in city government and with local organizations.

"I think I have enough knowledge to do the job as state rep," Connell said. "And I am used to dealing with big numbers and big budgets."

In his remarks, Connell said his long-term interest in state politics dates to his early years growing up in Bennington, Vt., where he worked as a teen in a men's clothing shop he termed "the hub of Bennington politics," where "people were always coming in and talking politics."

The late Joseph Shaffe owned the shop on Main Street, Connell said, and his son, David, was a state representative, traveling [roughly 100 miles] to Montpelier for 12 years for House sessions at the Vermont Statehouse.

"His father taught me business," Connell said, "and David introduced me to politics."

Connell's family moved to Pittsfield during the 1970s, he said, and after working elsewhere, he settled here in 2002.

"I have always been a hard worker, both in the corporate world and in the construction field," Connell told supporters. "I've been classified as a blue collar worker with white collar experience. I'm a work horse, not a show horse."

Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247. jtherrien@berkshireeagle.com @BE_therrien on Twitter.

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January 14, 2016

This is unbelievable, but Pittsfield politics City Councilors unanimously sent the lovely Linda Tyer a petition to reduce municipal taxes by having an outside consultant (or a task force) to find ways to efficiently restructure city and school departments through an independent review of the municipal budget.

The link to this news story is found on iBerkshires:

www.iberkshires.com/story/50985/Pittsfield-Council-Asks-Mayor-For-Independent-Review-of-Budgets.html

Usually, Pittsfield politics adds about 5% more to the next fiscal year budget to satisfy the vested interests: Police, Fire, and School Unions.

What will the lovely Linda Tyer do with this petition that her predecessor Dan Bianchi ignored over the past year? Will she reduce, level fund, or increase municipal taxes by about 5%?

This is a good question for Dan Valenti to ask the lovely Linda Tyer on his local, live TV show tonight!

As for Tricia Farley-Bouvier facing opposition from Christopher Connell, I hope they have a healthy and positive public discussion on the important issues facing Pittsfield. The rub on Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier is that she is a do-nothing, political hack (like the rest of the Berkshire delegation) who is supported by the local power-brokers or establishment.

The iron rule of Pittsfield politics is that you have to be a registered Democrat to win local, state, and federal elected office. The real election in Pittsfield politics is decided on the primary election instead of the general election. Pittsfield voters get to choose from unopposed or G.O.B. elections. There is no real democracy in Pittsfield politics!

- Jonathan Melle

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Pittsfield State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier is running for re-election.

"Farley-Bouvier Confirms Re-election Bid"
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff, January 19, 2016

PITTSFIELD, Massachusetts — State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouiver has confirmed she will seek re-election for a third full term.

The Democrat won the office in a special election in 2011 after Christopher Speranzo took a lifetime appointment in Berkshire Superior Court. Farley-Bouvier first defeated Peter White and Ryan Scago in the Democratic primary and then Green-Rainbow Party Mark Miller, Republican Mark Jester, and independent Pam Malumphy in the general election. She ran unopposed in the following two elections.

She'll face competition in 2016 with Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell's announcement that he intends to seek the 3rd Berkshire representative seat.

"This is a democracy and I encourage people to run. And I'm confident to run on my record," Farley-Bouvier said when asked about competition.

Farley-Bouvier served on the City Council from 2004 until 2008. She then was hired as director of administration for former Mayor James Ruberto before running for the state office. She currently sits on the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, the House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, and the House Committee on Steering, Policy and Scheduling.

In responding to Connell's announcement, Farley-Bouvier confirmed that she would seek re-election and questioned Connell's intention to continue to serve on the City Council if elected.

"While it is legal to collect these two paychecks, it is not logistically possible," Farley-Bouvier said. "He's either fooling himself or fooling the voters."

Connell said he hasn't decided if he'll run on a party ticket or as an independent; he is the first challenger to an incumbent in the Berkshire delegation. If there is a primary, it would held on Sept. 8. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 8.

State Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, D-North Adams, and state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, have both affirmed that they will run for re-election.

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Tricia Farley-Bouvier (Eagle file photo)

"Farley-Bouvier will run again for House seat"
Berkshire Eagle Staff, 1/28/2016

PITTSFIELD - Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier says she will seek a third term in the House and forgo a run for the Senate seat being vacated by Benjamin Downing.

In a news statement issued Thursday morning, Farley-Bouvier said Pittsfield is at a "critical juncture in its redevelopment."

"We need an experienced legislator laser focused on advocating for our needs," she said. "As is well known, Pittsfield's success is critical to the success of the region."

The district encompasses most of Pittsfield.

"I am looking forward to working closely with Mayor [Linda] Tyer and Superintendent [Jason] McCandless, public safety officials and our business and neighborhood leaders forging partnerships that will provide the best possible economic and educational opportunities for every Pittsfield resident," she said. "I truly value being a part of Team Pittsfield."

Farley-Bouvier, a Democrat, will face a challenge for her 3rd Berkshire District post. Pittsfield's Ward 4 city councilor, Chris Connell, has said he will run for the office as well.

State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, confirmed he will consider a Senate bid.

Downing said this week he would not seek re-election to a sixth term.

"I wish I was voting for Ben Downing this November but with him stepping down I have been faced with a choice," Farley-Bouvier said.

"I took this decision very seriously and consulted with many stakeholders to discern what is best for my family, for Pittsfield and the larger Senate district. What has become very clear to me is that I am exactly where I need to be."

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Our Opinion: “Buffet workers victims of corporate indifference”
The Berkshire Eagle, Editorial, 2/5/2016

The closing of the Old Country Buffet in Pittsfield, a blow to workers and loyal customers, is particularly shameful because it came without any advance notice.

Like State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier of Pittsfield, we would all "like to think that a company would treat its employees in a better manner than this." (Eagle, February 5). But as we have seen in recent months in the Berkshires, this is how restaurant chains, largely unanswerable to unions, treat workers.

Most of the suddenly jobless workers are in no position to accept the parent company's thoughtful invitation to apply for jobs at two Old Country Buffet restaurants in eastern Massachusetts — from where they would probably get laid off anyway. They are now at the mercy of the tough Berkshire job market.

Last month, members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association won a financial settlement because North Adams Regional Hospital closed without the required 60 days notice. However, federal law applied in this case because NARH employed more than 100 people (roughly 530) while Old Country Buffet only employed about 30 in Pittsfield. The parent company did close 74 buffet restaurants nationwide Thursday, which would well exceed 100 workers, but a collective appeal would be difficult to pursue without the help of a union or association.

The Old Country closing makes the case for unions. And with presidential candidates extolling the virtues of the struggling American worker, Washington should extend protection against closing businesses without warning to workers at small companies.

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Our Opinion: “State should create larger fines for jaywalking”
The Berkshire Eagle, Editorial, 2/12/2016

For Berkshire communities, Pittsfield foremost among them, to address jaywalking, the Legislature will have to act. That may finally happen this session.

Senate Majority Leader Harriette Chandler, a Worcester Democrat dismayed by pedestrian deaths in her city attributed to jaywalking, asked her counterparts Wednesday to raise the fine for jaywalking, which is currently a meaningless $1. She proposes increasing the fine for a first offense to $25, followed by two steps to $50 and then a maximum fine of $75.

A similar bill filed in the House by Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier, a Pittsfield Democrat, would raise the fine to $50. Ms. Farley-Bouvier, while an adviser to then-Mayor James Ruberto, and Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn, took on jaywalking in the city five years ago following five accidents, three of them fatal, involving pedestrians in 2010. Progress was made, but there are limits to what communities can do in terms of raising fines without the Legislature changing the law. Ms. Farley Bouvier's bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

A quick visit downtown (or upstreet) reveals Pittsfield's severe jaywalking problem. It is apparent that far too many pedestrians either don't know the rules pertaining to crosswalks or don't care about them. Walking against the traffic lights and the electronic red hand signaling pedestrians to stay put on the sidewalk is not only illegal it could lead to a crippling injury or death.

A $1 fine won't dissuade jaywalkers or give police any incentive to enforce the law. A heavier fine will accomplish both. A combination of the Farley-Bouvier and Chandler bills beginning the fines at $50 with a cap at $75 is ideal, but any bill raising fines substantially is acceptable as long as it is passed and sent to the governor this year. We urge the Legislature to act quickly on a law that will give communities an important tool in making their streets safer.

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From left, Mary O'Brien and state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier speak to a third Hillary Clinton supporter Saturday at the candidate's new local office. (Phil Demers — The Berkshire Eagle | photos.berkshireeagle.com)

“Clinton, Sanders backers rally for support in Pittsfield”
By Phil Demers, The Berkshire Eagle, 2/20/2016

PITTSFIELD - With New Hampshire's primaries in the rear view and Massachusetts' 10 days ahead, the city got political on Saturday.

Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton opened a "pop-up office" on heavily trafficked North Street, while supporters of her rival for the Democratic nomination, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, canvassed neighborhoods door-to-door.

The latest polls show Sanders has opened up a seven-point lead on Clinton in the state. His local supporter sought to build on it.

"We have a ton of support on the ground [in Berkshire County]," Steven Coyne, a Sanders supporter, said. "We have momentum. Right now we've pulled ahead in the [Massachusetts] polls dramatically."

Roughly 30 people gathered at Pittsfield team leader Ray Alt's home on Bartlett Avenue intending to fan out from there.

Blocks away on North Street, Clinton's local team touted their candidate's experience and cool head, deriding Sanders' policy proposals as too radical.

"We have much in common with the other candidate, but we believe our candidate has the experience to get the job done," Clinton supporter state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, said at the new office. Around 10 people gathered at the office on Saturday.

Clinton supporter Mary O'Brien contrasted Clinton's coolness under fire during the Benghazi Hearing with Sanders' "intensity and anger."

"I'm not sure that would fit in the White House," O'Brien said, preferring Hillary's demeanor. "His idea that we're going to have a revolution — that does not appeal to me. The word 'revolution' has to more frighten than inspire you, in my opinion. I think we need change, to follow up on President Obama and continue to achieve change for the better. Bernie seems to stop everything where it is and start all over again."

The Sanders crowd up the road did not find political revolution so disagreeable an idea.

Nominating Sanders, Coyne said, would be the best way to start "steering this country away from some of the destructive policies of the past 30 to 40 years."

"One of the points of politics is to say, 'Hey, we want to take ownership as the people of America and start taking the Titanic, steering it away from the iceberg and getting it back into port so we can rebuild this country," Coyne said. "I think Bernie Sanders can do that."

Ward 6 City Councilor John Krol said, "I want to make Pittsfield a centerpiece of" Sanders movement.

"I think we're a very progressive city," Krol said, pointing to Sanders' broad appeal here. Alt, too, said Sanders enjoys "a lot of organic support in Berkshire County."

Lee Doctor Michael Kaplan said Sanders' calls for a single-payer health care system alone make him a superior candidate to Hillary. Kaplan has fought for such a system for 30 years with Physicians for a National Health Program.

"Bernie's program is basically our program," Kaplan said. "It's the only answer if you're looking to cover everybody and keep health care affordable."

On the other hand, state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, D-North Adams, said Clinton has been far more successful in proposing and passing legislation in her political career.

"As a legislator, I know what needs to occur to see good legislation passed," Cariddi said. "The president needs to work with Congress. I don't think what [Sanders] is proposing would get any traction."

Each gathering featured individuals whose history with the candidates went back decades.

Irmgard Arruda, a German immigrant and Sanders supporter, said U.S. politics frightened her in the '80s, the era of Ronald Reagan, when she was living in northern Vermont.

Then Sanders was elected mayor of Burlington 1981, and changed her view.

"He was a beacon of hope for me," Arruda said. "And over the years you build a certain trust. He has fought for the same causes since then with consistency and energy, and will continue to stand up for what's right."

On Clinton's side, Kathy Nuffer of Albany, N.Y., said she followed closely Clinton's political career and misses having her as a senator.

"She spent her early years working with families and children in need," Nuffer said. "When she ran for senator here, people initially called her a carpetbagger, but then she visited all 62 counties and really won people over. When she got to office, she started moving on her initiatives, and by the second time she ran it was a no-brainer who to vote for."

While their local supporters were busy on Pittsfield's streets on Saturday, the candidates themselves campaigned until the very last in Nevada while that state's caucus' were underway.

Clinton led by as much as 20 points in Nevada through late 2015, but polls showed the race had narrowed to a tossup by Saturday.

Farley-Bouvier said despite polls showing a statewide lead for Sanders in Massachusetts, she thinks the primary will be "tight" here, too.

"We need to counteract [Sanders' recent gains] with a very robust local campaign," she said. "We know what works is identifying our voters, having lots of one-on-one conversations, and getting them to the polls."

Sanders supporters meanwhile felt the wind was at their backs, and with their candidate headed back to Massachusetts for a rally in Amherst on Monday, the lead would only grow more dramatic, they said.

Contact Phil Demers at 413-496-6214. pdemers@berkshireeagle.com @BE_PhilD on Twitter.


Supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders rally Saturday in Pittsfield. His supporters canvassed neighborhoods door to door. (Phil Demers — The Berkshire Eagle | photos.berkshireeagle.com)

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Michael Bloomberg — a first cousin once removed of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg — will challenge state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier for her House seat. (Courtesy photo)

"Pittsfield resident Michael Bloomberg to challenge Farley-Bouvier for House seat"
By Jim Therrien, The Berkshire Eagle, 2/26/2016

PITTSFIELD - A city man will challenge for the Democratic nomination for the 3rd Berkshire District House seat now held by state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier.

Michael Bloomberg, of Holmes Road, confirmed Friday that he will make a formal announcement next week, and he has taken steps to create a campaign finance committee.

One question sure to be asked during his announcement is whether he is related to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He is — as a first cousin, once removed. The candidate's father and the former mayor are cousins.

He said his mother is Nancy Shulman and his uncle is Jim Shulman, of the Berkshire Carousel project, and his grandfather was Irving Shulman, who began Jim's House of Shoes in Pittsfield.

Bloomberg is a 2008 graduate of Pittsfield High School and a 2012 graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

His entry into the race would ensure a primary contest in September for the House seat to determine who will represent the party in the November election.

Farley-Bouvier has said she will seek another term. She was first elected in 2011 and previously served on the Pittsfield City Council.

Also seeking the House seat is Ward 4 City Councilor Christopher Connell, who is running as an independent.

Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247. jtherrien@berkshireeagle.com @BE_therrien on Twitter.

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Letter: “Clinton is leader with experience, passion”
The Berkshire Eagle, Letters, 2/26/2016

To the editor:

Hillary Clinton is the most qualified person on the planet to be the next US president. She has the breadth and depth of experience that is comparable to absolutely no one else in the field. I trust her to lead our country.

Secretary Clinton reflects my progressive values and has the ability to accomplish our shared goals of addressing income inequality, debilitating college debt, environmental injustice, our crumbling infrastructure and our terrible campaign financing laws. And in the complicated, sometimes scary world that we live in, I trust that Secretary Clinton has an understanding of international issues and the problem-solving ability to keep us safe.

It was only 12 years ago that I began my political career with a grassroots organization whose aim was to take on the local political establishment. What the leadership of the WHEN! organization proposed caught fire in a climate of frustration in the city. You might say it was a little revolution right here in our own community.

Now, I have the honor of serving Pittsfield as your state representative (and I am proud to say my fellow WHEN! candidate serves in Pittsfield's corner office). I do so fighting for a progressive agenda on Beacon Hill — on gender issues, social justice, environmental justice, economic justice. I know that fighting for justice means that I am given the label of liberal, and it is a term I wear as a badge of honor.

So, as a relative newcomer and someone with solid progressive credentials, I support the candidate who has fought her whole life for the values I care about. I appreciate and admire the outstanding message that Sen. Sanders has proclaimed and I applaud the activists who are rallying in support of that message. At the same time, I understand that it takes much more than messaging and ideals to lead this country and the free world.

Leadership takes a combination of experience, wisdom and the willingness to work with others — even those with whom you don't always agree. Leadership is the ability to take a hit and get back up. Leadership is fighting for values that are not always the most popular, but are the right thing to do. Leadership means going beyond the sound bite to understand the myriad of details and the deep consequences of the complex issues that we face. Leadership means that proposals that you put forward can stand up to the scrutiny of experts and that the numbers will add up.

Hillary Clinton has those leadership qualities. She has the experience. She has the passion and the fortitude. I trust her to take our progressive ideals and turn them into the reality that will impact our everyday lives.

I'm proudly casting my vote for Hillary in the March 1 Massachusetts primary and I ask you to join me.

Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Pittsfield
The writer is a Democratic state representative.

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Pittsfield resident Michael Bloomberg launches his campaign for state representative in the 3rd Berkshire District on Thursday during an event at Flavours of Malaysia. (Gillian Jones — The Berkshire Eagle | photos.berkshireeagle.com)

“Pittsfield candidate Michael Bloomberg launches bid for 3rd Berkshire District seat”
By Jim Therrien, The Berkshire Eagle, 3/3/2016

PITTSFIELD — Michael Bloomberg on Thursday formally launched his run for the Democratic nomination for the 3rd Berkshire District, calling for strong new representation at the Statehouse in Boston.

"We have the opportunity now to create our future," Bloomberg told a crowd of about 30 during his remarks at Flavours of Malaysia restaurant.

He said that in newly elected Mayor Linda M. Tyer, Pittsfield has a leader for the future. "Linda has jumped headfirst into her responsibilities and is leading at the local level," he said, adding, "But now, more than ever, Pittsfield needs a leader in Boston."

Bloomberg, 26, of Holmes Road, is challenging incumbent state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, in the Sept. 8 Democratic primary. City Councilor Christopher Connell is seeking the district House seat as an independent.

Noting the city's economic and population decline since the days of General Electric employment in Pittsfield, Bloomberg said reversing that trend would be his overriding focus.

"But let me make one thing very clear tonight," he said. "Those numbers, those facts, they're history. As a community and as a city in the commonwealth of Massachusetts we have the opportunity — now — to create our future. And that's what this campaign is about. The future."

Bloomberg said the city has always been known for innovation in business and the arts, and he wants to further encourage that type of atmosphere. "And so, to all the innovators in this city," he said, "I hear you, I see you, I feel you — and let's do this."

The candidate promised to release a number of position papers on issues like economic development, taxes and public safety, providing "nothing but the facts." He added to applause, "Because Pittsfield doesn't just happen; we have to make it happen."

He thanked supporters, including his mother, Nancy Shulman, and Sabrina Tan and Chin Lee, operators of the North Street eatery.

Bloomberg introduced members of his campaign team, as well, including campaign manager Maya Richards, treasurer Montee Wasch and David Bowler.

He was introduced by Councilor at large Peter White, who said he has known Bloomberg for about 10 years as the candidate became involved in political campaigns and with the Berkshire Brigades organization.

"I've always been impressed by how much Mike cares about Pittsfield, and how much he is willing to give back, White said.

Also attending were former Councilors Barry Clairmont and Jonathan Lothrop and Conservation Commission member Thomas Sakshaug.

Bloomberg said his inspiration to run for office here stems from the "compassionate values" and love of Pittsfield instilled in him by his grandparents, Irving and Helen Shulman, who with family members founded the shop that became Jim's House of Shoes 70 years ago. That inspiration is evident in his parents' generation and now his, he said.

He said his reasons for living in Pittsfield "all come back to that story of a young man took a risk for a place he loved."

Bloomberg is a 2008 graduate of Pittsfield High School and a 2012 graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, majoring in political science. He also recently attended PDX Code Guild, a technology training program in Oregon, and he has been taking courses at UMass in labor economics and statistics.

He has worked for Bridgewater Associates, a hedge fund management firm, focusing in part on technology, and previously worked for a start-up, Kora Management, also a hedge fund.

Bloomberg said he has long been interested in politics, working on the 2006 state Senate campaign of Helen Sharron of Worthington and others. He also served an internship with the U.S. Olympic Committee, including work during the 2012 games in London.

Bloomberg's famous name prompted several inquiries from media interested whether he is related to the former New York mayor. He is a cousin, once removed, he said, as his father and the former mayor are first cousins.

Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247. jtherrien@berkshireeagle.com @BE_therrien on Twitter.

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City Councilor Chris Connell kicks off his campaign for the 3rd Berkshire District House seat Wednesday with a rally at the American Legion in Pittsfield. (Stephanie Zollshan — The Berkshire Eagle | photos.berkshireeagle.com)

“Chris Connell kicks off run for 3rd Berkshire District seat”
By Jim Therrien, The Berkshire Eagle, March 18, 2016

PITTSFIELD — Christopher Connell kicked off his independent run for the 3rd Berkshire District House of Representatives seat on Thursday with an event at the American Legion post attended by more than 60 people.

Connell, the Ward 4 city councilor, reiterated his called for "a stronger voice in Boston" to push for a greater share of funding and other support for Pittsfield.

"Over the last four-plus years serving on the City Council, I have come to realize there is only so much I can accomplish to help the city," Connell said in his remarks.

He noted that as Pittsfield's population and industrial base has declined in recent decades, the tax base has eroded and the city has "limited flexibility in raising taxes to support ever increasing city services."

Among needs for which he said the city should have "our fair share of tax revenue from the state," are for a new police station, major educational investments and street and other infrastructure upgrades.

"That's why the citizens of Pittsfield need a strong voice on Beacon Hill that will put Pittsfield's needs first," Connell said.

Running as an independent, he will face the winner of a Democratic primary race and any Republican, Green/Rainbow Party or United Independent Party candidates who enter the contest.

Currently, incumbent state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, is facing a challenge in the September primary from newcomer Michael Bloomberg of Holmes Road. No other candidates have announced a campaign.

Connell was introduced prior to his remarks Thursday by Ward 7 City Councilor Anthony Simonelli. Others attending the Connell event were Mayor Linda M. Tyer, council President Peter Marchetti, councilors Peter White and Kevin Morandi, and former Mayor Gerald S. Doyle and former Councilor Barry Clairmont.

Connell said that while a councilor and previously he has worked with a number of boards and commissions and on bipartisan initiatives. He said those include work with former Assistant City Solicitor Darren Lee, who in attendance, to submit a council petition to help prompt the city's first-ever tax lien sale, which recouped more than $2 million in back taxes owed.

He also cited work with former council President and current at large Councilor Melissa Mazzeo and others to update the city's parking fine schedule, and on a study group he proposed to look into city water and wastewater system operations, as well proposing, along with councilors Mazzeo and Donna Todd Rivers, a study of operations at the Pittsfield Municipal Airport to determine whether other management options might be more cost-effective.

"I have always tried to think out of the box and collaborate with others to offer alternative ways of doing business and hopefully save the city and taxpayers money," he said.

Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247. jtherrien@berkshireeagle.com @BE_therrien on Twitter.

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“Four potential Berkshire County legislative candidates take papers”
By Jim Therrien, The Berkshire Eagle, 3/28/2016

PITTSFIELD — There are at least four new potential candidates for state House and Senate seats in Berkshire County.

Three potential candidates have taken out nomination papers this month at the city clerk's office for the 3rd Berkshire District House seat now held by state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, and one took papers for the state Senate seat held by Sen. Ben Downing, D-Pittsfield, who is not seeking another term.

Taking papers for the Democratic nomination for the House seat was local attorney and environmental activist Rinaldo Del Gallo. In the September primary, he would face Farley-Bouvier, who is seeking another term, and Michael Bloomberg of Holmes Road.

The first possible Republican candidates for Berkshire legislative seats also have pulled nomination papers at City Hall. These are Alexander Blumin, who has been an advocate for more liberal public comment period rules at City Council meetings, and Thomas Wallace, both of Pittsfield.

If they return nomination papers, the two would face off in a Republican primary in September to run against the Democratic House candidate in November.

Pittsfield Ward 4 City Councilor Christopher Connell is running for the House seat as an independent.

Thus far unopposed for new terms in the House are Reps. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, Gailanne Cariddi, D-North Adams, and Paul Mark, D-Peru.

Christine Canning, of Lanesborough, has taken out papers to run for the state Senate seat now held by Downing. She is seeking the Republican nomination.

Also announcing for the seat are Democrats Adam Hinds, the executive director of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition in North Adams and former coordinator of the Pittsfield Community Connection anti-youth violence initiative, and Andrea Harrington, of Richmond, an attorney with Hellman, Shearn & Arienti of Great Barrington.

The Senate District represents 52 communities and includes all of Berkshire County and parts of Hampshire, Hamden and Franklin counties.

Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247. jtherrien@berkshireeagle.com @BE_therrien on Twitter.

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"Clarification: Del Gallo running for Massachusetts Senate"
The Berkshire Eagle, 3/29/2016

PITTSFIELD - Attorney Rinaldo Del Gallo clarified Tuesday that is running for the state Senate in the Democratic primary, not for the state House seat in Pittsfield, as incorrectly reported in an article on legislative candidates.

Del Gallo said he is actively gathering signatures for a run for the seat now held by Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield, who is not seeking another term.

In the Democratic primary in September, he would face announced candidates Adam Hinds, of Pittsfield, and Andrea Harrington, of Richmond.

On the Republican side, Christine Canning, of Lanesborough, has taken out papers to seek that party's nomination.

Del Gallo said he intends "to run as a Bernie Sanders progressive" in the race, favoring a single-payer health care system, raising the minimum wage, government-funded educational opportunities and other progressive positions.

— Jim Therrien

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State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, left, accepts the "2016 Legislators of the Year" award from Children's League of Massachusetts Vice Chairman Matt Stone and Chairwoman Carla Saccone during a ceremony at the State House recently during the Children's League's annual Advocacy Day event. (Courtesy photo)

County Fare: “State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier honored by Children's League”
The Berkshire Eagle, 3/29/2016

State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, and Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, were co-honored as the "2016 Legislators of the Year" as part of the Advocacy Day 2016 event and "Superheroes 4 Kids" campaign of the Children's League of Massachusetts (CLM).

A March 22 ceremony was held at Nurses Hall at the Massachusetts State House as part of the event. The campaign and honors are designed to celebrate Children's League members of and community members who advocate for increased protections, resources and funding for children in care in the fiscal 2017 budget.

"Both Senator Tarr's and Representative Farley-Bouvier's commitment to protecting the well-being of our children is unmatched," Children's League Executive Director Erin G. Bradley said. "The most vulnerable children of our commonwealth do not have access to the corridors of power to advocate for themselves, so having eloquent and dedicated legislators who give voice to the issues of importance to children is very much appreciated. We look forward to continuing to work with both of them to further improve the safety and success of the children of Massachusetts."

Said Rep. Farley-Bouvier, "I do thank the Children's League for this great honor, but it is them and the providers who do the ever important work of advocating for children every day that deserve the accolades."

Farley-Bouvier was honored for her creation and leadership of a legislative Child Welfare Subcommittee, driven by her belief that child welfare warrants a special body of legislators who can closely examine issues affecting system-involved youth. She was also acknowledged for bringing attention to the additional burdens placed on social workers in Western Massachusetts, where long drive times and rising caseloads decrease the amount of time they can spend on any one case.

Farley-Bouvier said child welfare should be a priority for legislators and noted that, "During times like these when the heroin epidemic is running rampant in the commonwealth and income inequality continues to leave more and more families behind, it is the children that get hurt the worst."

"Protecting children should always be a priority," said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr.

Children's League highlighted Tarr's championship in the Senate of a bill that would ban "re-homing," a process by which adoptive parents use Internet message boards to find other adults to care for adopted children when an adoption is not working. They also noted his work to pass "Jessica's Law," which created stronger protections for children from child sexual predators, as well as his work to pass legislation to raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction from 17 to 18 years old.

County Fare, a weekly column featuring "tales from throughout the Berkshires," is compiled by Eagle staffers.

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Letter: "This time, Pittsfield must heed the market"
The Berkshire Eagle, 4/9/2016

To the editor:

Fifty years ago, the market spoke to Pittsfield. It said loud and clear that manufacturing as we know it in America was packing up and heading out of town. The message was broadcast to every city in this country. Some, like New York, Fort Collins, and Asheville, heeded the warning; many, like Detroit, Akron, and Pittsfield, did not.

Today the market speaks again. It is telling us that young people, seniors, entrepreneurs and investors are flocking to cities at the fastest rate in history. They want access to quality schools, health services, restaurants and entertainment. They want to walk outside and see streets and sidewalks full of people. They want the energy of a booming vibrant community. We can be that city.

Our downtown, (Tyler Street included) can be a vibrant city center like Burlington or Boulder, but we can't get there just doing what we've been doing. In the past two weeks alone we have seen front page articles on the rise in foreclosures, stagnant property values, and a plea from the mall for lower taxes.

While many see these signals as troubling, and understandably so, they also present an opportunity. The opportunity for our city and state officials to rethink our historical approach to economic development; the opportunity, to show our legislative support to the people and businesses who are investing in a strong, sustainable future.

A strong city starts at its center. This isn't just a feeling, it's a fact. The denser the city, the less we need to spend on roads and cars and the more we can spend on people and programs. Right now, the Greystone building (Mission and Dotties) pays taxes on a valuation of $130 per square foot of of its downtown footprint. The Allendale plaza — $16 per square foot.

This disparity has made downtown development unsustainable for many businesses and the result is a growth in big-box stores that pay low wages, require a car to reach, and which destroy vast plots of grass and trees to build their cheap, temporary structures. This issue is just one of many resulting from an old way of thinking that needs to be addressed in order to be a growing, strong, sustainable city.

Now is the time to think outside the box, look at the facts, and make use of 21st century technology. Now is the time to build partnerships with other cities around the state, country and world. Now is the time that we stop focusing on the city we once were, and start focusing on what we can be.

Mike Bloomberg, Pittsfield
Mike Bloomberg is a Democratic candidate for state representative, 3rd Berkshire District. (Pittsfield.)

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State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier has co-authored a letter calling on the commonwealth to emphasize renewable energy sources over natural gas and other fossil fuels. (Eagle file)

"Tricia Farley-Bouvier fuels legislative effort to focus more on renewable energy"
By Dick Lindsay, The Berkshire Eagle, 5/12/2016

BOSTON - State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier is powering efforts for a more diverse and renewable fuel-based omnibus energy bill than the one being debated on Beacon Hill.

The Pittsfield Democrat has co-authored a letter signed by 56 representatives — including all four members of the Berkshire delegation — that calls for the commonwealth to emphasize, solar, wind and other green energy sources over natural gas and other fossil fuels.

"The decisions we make this spring will have a major impact on where our energy comes from for the next few decades," Farley-Bouvier said in a prepared statement. "We have the opportunity to create local jobs and create healthier communities, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, so we are seeking the forthcoming legislation to prioritize clean energy."

The lawmakers want the House leadership to release a bill that also won't spend taxpayer dollars on natural gas pipeline projects. They instead want pipeline owners to fix the tens of thousands of leaks in their existing delivery systems, which would save consumers more than $90 million a year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent, according to the legislators.

"We have heard loudly and clearly from our constituents on the issue of pipeline funding." Farley-Bouvier stated. "To have ratepayers pay for these infrastructure investment would be unprecedented. The investors who, in the end, will be profiting, should absolutely be the ones on the hook."

Recently, opponents of Kinder Morgan's Northeast pipeline plan to traverse the Berkshires claimed victory after the energy giant suspended work on the project. Kinder Morgan representatives said they couldn't line up enough natural gas providers to make it profitable.

The lawmakers said they want alternative energy sources that make sense economically and environmentally, such as meaningful offshore wind energy development and hydropower purchased from Canada coupled with environmentally sensitive transmission lines and related infrastructure.

"We can and we must balance the need for reliable energy at an affordable price for both our residents and our commercial customers, while be extremely mindful of the impact our energy policy has on our environment," Farley-Bouvier said.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413 496-6233. rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com @BE_DLindsay on Twitter.

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Pittsfield Superintendent of Schools Jason "Jake" McCandless mingles Friday at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Taconic High School. (Ben Garver — The Berkshire Eagle | Photos.berkshireeagle.com)

Dignitaries take shovels to the construction site Friday at Taconic High School to officially recognize the construction of the new school. (Ben Garver — The Berkshire Eagle | Photos.berkshireeagle.com)

Katheleen Amuso introduces Taconic High School student Taylor Hebert to speak Friday at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new school. (Ben Garver — The Berkshire Eagle | Photos.berkshireeagle.com)

“Groundbreaking kicks off construction on new Taconic High School”
By Jim Therrien, The Berkshire Eagle, May 13, 2016

PITTSFIELD - A groundbreaking Friday to launch Pittsfield's $120.8 million new Taconic High School project drew more than 100 current and former school, city and state officials — as well as faculty, staff and students of the current school off Valentine Road.

A series of speakers — including School Building Needs Commission Co-Chairwoman Kathleen Amuso, state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, state Treasurer Deborah Goldberg and Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless — took turns thanking those who worked over nearly a decade to make the project a reality.

Amuso, a former School Committee member and now also a city councilor, and Farley-Bouvier noted that three mayors, five Pittsfield schools superintendents, some 30 councilors, and approximately 50 people who served on the SBNC have shown consistent, long-term support for the project.

"It really has been a long journey," said Amuso, later adding, "I can't wait until September 2018 to walk through the doors of a new Taconic High School."

The 246,520-square-foot academic and vocational school will be constructed directly across from the current school's main entrance, and the old building will be razed around the time of the 2018 ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The Massachusetts School Building Authority has issued approval for $74.2 million in state funding toward the Taconic project, and the City Council has approved bonding for up to $45 million for Pittsfield's share of the cost.

Goldberg, who chairs the MSBA board, said that as a former Brookline selectwoman, she understands the tremendous effort involved in reaching this stage of a school construction project.

"I know what you went through," the treasurer said. "But soon we will be putting shovels into that wet ground."

When she thinks about such moments, Goldberg added, "it gives me chills."

The treasurer said she has added staff members at the MSBA with local government experience, and she intends to develop new methods and strategies of working closely with school districts to facilitate construction projects.

Farley-Bouvier, who like Tyer became an early supporter of a new school while both were city councilors a decade ago, stressed that the effort was a collaborative one, stretching across the administrations of Mayors James M. Ruberto, Daniel L. Bianchi and now Tyer, who took office in January.

"This is everybody's groundbreaking," Farley-Bouvier said, citing for credit the MSBA, her fellow local state lawmakers, local school officials, city councilors who last year unanimously approved a bond for the construction and the many residents who voiced support.

"This has been a long ... time ... coming," she said, speaking slowly for emphasis.

Speaking last, before officials left the school auditorium and braved a steady drizzle to sink golden shovels into the earth of the project site, McCandless joked that he felt like massive former Chicago Bears lineman William "Refrigerator" Perry, who occasionally was given the football near the goal line and rammed home a touchdown.

However, Amuso lauded McCandless for the multitasking job he did over his three years in Pittsfield schools in helping to nail down the final project approvals. That included securing state funding, working with the project designers, traveling to MSBA sessions in Boston, and remaining calm and positive despite the long, sometimes frustrating process, even when she was not so calm, Amuso said.

Thanking educators, officials, residents and state officials, McCandless said, "Thank you for believing in the power of education." In the new Taconic High, he said, "we celebrate potential; we celebrate hope."

"This is a milestone for all of us," said Tyer, telling those present that "it is tempting in difficult economic times to dial back" such investments in the future, "but I think that is precisely the time to invest."

She praised all those involved in making that commitment.

The new Taconic, with an enhanced vocational/technical course curriculum and modern classrooms, shops and other school spaces, is considered a key to boosting the city's economy by preparing students for good-paying jobs now sometimes going unfilled in the region.

The project sends a message that "we are investing in our children and economic development," Farley-Bouvier said.

When potential business investors approach the city, she said, their first concern "is quite frankly, not lower taxes." More important to businesses, she said, is "a well-educated work force."

She added that the greatest concern expressed by parents is that their children have a good education and opportunity for a good job afterward. "We are saying today to families, Pittsfield has invested in the education you want for your children," the lawmaker said.

Taconic Principal John Vosburgh thanked the officials involved and residents for "having the courage to take this step," saying he remembers other negative votes that sunk major development projects in the city.

Taylor Hebert, a member of the SkillsUSA team at Taconic, said she wishes she could experience the new high school but knows students and staff members will appreciate the planned building, as it will eliminate roof leaks, wild swings in indoor temperatures and hall sections not handicapped accessible in the aging current school.

"Thank you for investing in education, specifically in vocational education," she said.

Also lauded were the city's project consultants, Skanska USA, the project designers, Drummey Rosane Anderson of Waltham, the construction management firm, Gilbane Inc., and David Tierney Construction, a local firm working on the project.

They have been, "our outstanding professional partners," Farley-Bouvier said.

The Taconic Chorus, directed by Jessica Passetto, performed at the start of the afternoon program.

Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247. jtherrien@berkshireeagle.com @BE_therrien on Twitter.

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Our Opinion: “New Taconic a demonstration of faith by Pittsfield”
The Berkshire Eagle, Opinion: Editorial, 5/15/2016

Friday's groundbreaking ceremony for the new Taconic High School was a well-earned celebration for a city that was in need of one.

Pittsfield has struggled economically and with a loss of population for a number of years now, and while the new Taconic is certainly not a cure-all it has the potential to bring dramatic change for the better. The beginning of the construction project marked Friday is a source of pride for the many public officials who made it happen and for the residents of Pittsfield as well.

State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, who chairs the Massachusetts School Building Authority that is contributing $74 million to the project, said at an Eagle editorial board meeting before she went to the ceremony that there is a direct connection between top-notch schools and the strength of a community. The new state-of-the-art Taconic, an academic and vocational school, will not only provide a good education for Pittsfield students but should draw students from surrounding communities. Along with Pittsfield High, it will provide the city with two fine high schools.

To turn around its economy and stem its population loss, Pittsfield must keep current residents and businesses and attract more. A new Taconic designed to prepare students for the many challenges of the current job market, specifically the need for specialized technology knowledge, will help accomplish both.

Practical considerations aside, a project of this magnitude speaks well of the city's determination to do well by its students, and in so doing, improve the city as a whole. (It's unfortunate that Great Barrington won't adopt the same attitude.) As state Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier of Pittsfield said at the ceremony, "This is everybody's groundbreaking."

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Mayor Linda Tyer signs a Community Compact for the city of Pittsfield with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, accompanied by state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier on Tuesday at Pittsfield City Hall. (Stephanie Zollshan — The Berkshire Eagle | photos.berkshireeagle.com)

“Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito signs 'compacts,' tours Pittsfield sites”
By Jim Therrien, The Berkshire Eagle, May 18, 2016

PITTSFIELD — Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and officials from the city and three Berkshire towns gathered Tuesday at City Hall to sign their respective Community Compact agreements.

Polito also visited Taconic High School and took a bus tour Tuesday of the Tyler Street Transformative Development Initiative District, a section of the city's Morningside neighborhood that officials are hoping to revive with help from MassDevelopment.

Mayor Linda M. Tyer said prior to the formal compact signing that she quickly learned upon taking office in January that the Baker administration "has made partnerships with cities and towns a top priority."

In Pittsfield's case, the Community Compact agreement will provide state funding for initiatives to develop a long-range budget capital planning system that can be updated, and to create a more transparent budget format.

The city will receive $25,000 in funding to hire a consultant for the projects.

"This couldn't have come at a better time for Pittsfield," Tyer said, as the city expects to face tough budgetary decisions in creating a fiscal 2017 spending plan.

Also signing compact agreements — in which the communities agree to complete certain best practices initiatives and receive modest state grants — were officials from Cheshire, Hinsdale and Williamstown.

Hinsdale Selectwoman Laurel Scialabba said the money will go toward creating a town master plan and a comprehensive budget plan.

Williamstown Town Manager Jason Hoch said the compact agreement will provide the town with funding to focus on implementing a Complete Streets initiative — increasing pedestrian, bicycle and other enhancements within street projects.

Cheshire Selectwoman Carol Francesconi said the town has talked about creating a master plan and now will have the opportunity with the grant assistance. A goal is to contain some of the rapid growth the town has experienced, she said.

State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, said the Berkshire legislative delegation "understands that you have to have teamwork," telling Polito "we appreciate what you do with communities."

"The funding is just part of this," Polito said, adding that another intent of the program "is to reach all cities and towns" in the state. The four signed compact agreements bring the number to 198 since the Baker administration launched the program a year ago, she said.

"I love the program," she said, because it allows communities to choose the type of best practices effort to tackle, rather than have the state decide which projects to fund with grant support.

Tyer administration department heads and City Council President Peter Marchetti and Vice President John Krol also attended the afternoon session in council chambers.

Accompanied by Tyer and Farley-Bouvier, Polito was shown five different sites during a tour of the city's TDI District. These included the Raymond Crow Playground on Winter Street; the Rice Silk Mill Apartments on Burbank Street; the old Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction on Second Street; the old Tyler Street firehouse that once housed the city's Emergency Services operations, and the vacant St. Mary the Morning Star Church property on Tyler Street.

City Planner C.J. Hoss outlined the district's history and the city's plans for each of those sites.

"This grew up as a neighborhood business district," Hoss said, during the stop at the old firehouse building, built in 1906 but currently vacant. "We'd like it to be again."

Following the bus tour, Polito stopped at the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority's headquarters at 81 Kellogg St., and received a briefing on the William Stanley Business Park of the Berkshires and the yet-to-be-built Berkshire Innovation Center.

"It's very interesting to come and tour a transformative development neighborhood," Polito said.

The Tyler Street TDI is one of 12 in cities across the commonwealth that are being funded and overseen by MassDevelopment. It is also one of the areas where MassDevelopment has assigned an economic development expert.

That specialist, Amewusika "Sika" D. Sedzro, began her three-year assignment in Pittsfield on May 9.

"Now you're at a point in time when the city is planning for the next 40 or 50 years, and the neighborhood that they've identified is one that has great potential of becoming a place of home ownership, a neighborhood connected within itself to parks and open space and a downtown that has seen some revitalization," Polito said.

"So, it's important that we assigned our fellow to this TDI, and this fellow will directly work with the city to see this initiative through over the next three years."

Polito also visited Taconic High School, where construction is underway on a new $120.8 million school adjacent the existing 47-year-old building.

The lieutenant governor visited the school's shop areas and viewed equipment used in advanced manufacturing education programs.

Business Editor Tony Dobrowolski contributed to this report.

jtherrien@berkshireeagle.com @BE_therrien on Twitter.

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Letter: “For real change, Pittsfield must build on its strengths”
The Berkshire Eagle, 6/16/2016

To the editor:

When I decided to run for state representative in Pittsfield, I promised myself that I would never compromise my values to get elected. Those values have been tried and tested, yet when I knock on the doors of our city, and listen to all of you, my values grow stronger.

There are many in this community who have asked me to remain quiet on issues large and small. From the newly announced "super Walmart" in the heart of the city to the slashing of the school budget.

I cannot, and will not, stay silent on these issues.

This city was built by innovators with the help of hard-working, highly skilled people. Hard-working people like my grandfather, and like many of you, who lent their backs to the cause to create an excellent place to raise a family.

Now we need changes, but change is hard. It was Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, who famously said that "change has no constituency. People like the status quo. They like the way it was."

I believe that Jack was wrong. I believe that change does have a constituency. I believe that constituency is the PEOPLE of Pittsfield, and that the people of Pittsfield know that our future does not rest in the hands of a mega-Walmart.

Our future is in our beautiful outdoors, it's in our machine shops, our theaters, our labs, and our schools. Our future is in our local businesses and our local innovators who make this place home. Our future is a place where great people want to raise great families, regardless of their wealth, race, sexual preference, or gender.

I'm asking you to not wait until election day, Sept. 8, to have your voice heard. I'm asking you to make your voice heard now. Because this city doesn't need me, it needs you.

Our city needs you to write a letter to the editor telling our representatives about the future you want to see. Our city needs you to go downtown, to go to Tyler Street, to go to any one of our local businesses and say thank you, we're with you.

Our city needs help. And that help won't come from Boston or Washington, and it definitely won't come from a "super-Walmart." It has to come from right here in Pittsfield.

Because WE make this city.

Michael Bloomberg, Pittsfield
The writer is a Democratic candidate for 3rd Berkshire District state representative.

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Pittsfield: Farley-Bouvier to launch re-election campaign
The Berkshire Eagle, 6/16/2016

State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier will officially launch her re-election campaign at a kick-off event from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, June 17, at the ITAM Lodge, 93 Waubeek Road.

The event will feature special guest Attorney General Maura Healey.

Farley-Bouvier was elected to the House of Representatives in a 2011 special election.

She currently serves on the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, the House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, and the House Committee on Steering, Policy and Scheduling.

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ON THE TRAIL: Campaign news from around the Berkshires

"Rep. Farley-Bouvier to kick off House campaign"
The Berkshire Eagle, 6/16/2016

PITTSFIELD - State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier will officially launch her re-election campaign during a kick-off even Friday, June 17, at the Itam Lodge, 93 Waubeek Road, from 5 to 7 p.m.

The event will feature special guest Attorney General Maura Healey.

"I'm thrilled and honored to be running for re-election in Pittsfield, so that I can continue advocating for the values and concerns of everyone who resides, visits, and does business in our city," said Farley-Bouvier. "I'm honored that the AG is making the trip out to support me, she said.

"This campaign is about being invested in Pittsfield families. That includes finding common sense solutions to create jobs, invest in the local economy, and solve the opioid crisis," she said. "These are the issues important to Pittsfield and to our commonwealth. These are the reasons why I'm running."

In 2002, Farley-Bouvier became involved in local politics, working with the "Save Our Schools" campaign to secure reliable funding for Pittsfield Public Schools. The following year, the grassroots group "Women Helping Empower Neighbors" supported her campaign for at-large city councilor. She received more votes than any other elected official.

Farley-Bouvier has served as the director of administration in the Pittsfield mayor's office, and was elected to the Legislature in a 2011 special election.

She currently serves on the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, the House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, and the House Committee on Steering, Policy and Scheduling.

During her tenure, she said she has gotten progressive results by fighting for an array of pressing reforms, including those addressing sexual violence on college campuses, gun violence, veterans' services, transgender anti-discrimination, public records access, safe driving, and clean energy.

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Tricia Farley-Bouvier: “Teamwork is key to good government”
By Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 7/3/2016

PITTSFIELD - State government does not happen in a marble building with a golden dome, on a hill in a faraway city. State government happens right here, in our community. With this principle in mind, I have prioritized being accessible to all my constituents in Pittsfield.

When I was first sworn into office, I established a full-time district office in the heart of downtown to make it convenient for anyone to call or stop by anytime. I am accessible via social media, and my constituents know I am there for them to answer questions, to help solve problems, and to gain their vital feedback on state legislation.

LISTENING IS CRITICAL

This is because I believe my most important job as a legislator is to listen to people who work, do business, and make their homes in Pittsfield, and then to collaborate with others to address challenges they face. I count on the expertise of our community partners on issues of economic development, education, child welfare, health care, housing, and the cultural economy. I also learn from my constituents who are passionate about environmental, economic, and social justice issues.

I work closely with the mayor, and I am always available to city councilors, School Committee members, the schools superintendent, and other city officials. Having all of us working together makes all the difference in securing state funding.

We all agree that economic development is job one for Pittsfield. When I listen to employers both large and small, their number one concern is a well-prepared workforce. This is why I am so proud that our perseverance is paying off with the construction of the new Taconic High School. We owe it to our children and our own future as a community to invest in a 21st century facility that will support the excellent work of our teachers.

In addition to leading the charge on the new Taconic, I am an active member of the Berkshire Compact for Education, which brings together diverse stakeholders with the mission of raising the educational aspirations and attainment levels of all people.

In the legislature, I have been active on four strong teams: the progressive caucus, the Gateway city caucus, and two legislative committees. During my tenure as a leader in the progressive caucus, we have partnered with advocacy groups to pass forward-thinking bills, such as raising the minimum wage and creating equal protection for transgender people.

A great example of the work of The Gateway city caucus is a partnership with MassDevelopment called the transformative development initiative. With Sen. Downing, we were able to pass legislation, secure funding, and advocate for the local application to transform the Tyler Street neighborhood.

Since my first term, I have served on the Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities. Past cuts and the ongoing surge in the opioid epidemic have created immense pressure on the system. In response, I brought together a group of legislators to learn from stakeholders who are too often ignored. We now have an understanding of the importance of strengthening families so that children can stay safely at home and of supporting foster families.

PITTSFIELD EXPERIENCE

Concerned about the opioid epidemic and its devastating toll on Pittsfield, I pushed for a seat on the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Committee. I am proud of my contributions to our most recent omnibus opioid bill, I am pleased that there are plans for two more facilities in Pittsfield with 46 new long-term recovery beds.

I grew up in Pittsfield and chose to raise my family here. Through my work on community projects, School Council, the City Council, and now as your state representative, I am looking forward to continuing my partnerships with local government, businesses, and community members to advance the needs of Pittsfield and advance a progressive agenda.

I truly love my job and I hope that those of you who work, do business, and make Pittsfield your home see fit to return me for another term.

Tricia Farley-Bouvier is the Democratic state representative from the 3rd Berkshire District.

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Michael Bloomberg: Working diligently to rebuild Pittsfield
By Michael Bloomberg, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 7/3/2016

PITTSFIELD - Pittsfield was built on energy.

It wasn't the energy of General Electric, but the energy of an entire generation.

My grandparents, along with many of you, were not handed prosperity; they worked hard for it. And while Pittsfield cannot dwell on the past and the wonders of the '50s and '60s, I believe this generation can show and lead our new generation with their example. I will bring their lessons with me to the State House as your next state representative.

Lesson 1. Success doesn't just happen, you have to make it happen.

My grandparents opened Jim's Working Man's Store on Woodlawn Avenue 70 years ago. While my grandfather built and stocked the shelves, my grandmother greeted parents and their children late into the night on Thursday evenings. They worked hard not just for their business, but for the entire community, to make this the place that they wanted to raise their family.

BE PART OF CHANGE

Six months ago, when weighing my decision to run, I reached out to many friends of mine who graduated from the Pittsfield public schools and moved away from the city. I asked them if they would ever move back to Pittsfield to raise a family here. None said yes. That unfortunate answer is what sparked this campaign.

It's easy to sit, wait, and complain about the change you want to see. It's much harder to be a part of that change. My task remains the same one that my grandparents had: to make Pittsfield a greater place to raise a family.

Lesson 2. — Real collaboration yields real results.

Whether it was working on the line at General Electric, in the kitchen at the Highland, or on the field at Wahconah Park, collaboration brought results to the people of Pittsfield. Today politicians talk the talk of "collaboration" without walking the walk. Our current legislator is 0 for 25 in bills that she has sponsored. Advocacy alone does not bring about effective change.

With two elementary schools ranked in the bottom 3 percent of the state and an average family income more than $25,000 below the state average, the people of Pittsfield need more than talk. We cannot afford another day of stalled progress because of a failure to work together. I've been a blue-blooded Democrat since the day I was born, and I am a member of the Democratic City Committee, but right now, working for Pittsfield means working with a Republican governor, not just trotting out the same old talking points.

Lesson 3. — Hold yourself accountable and learn from your mistakes.

When Jim's House of Shoes burnt down in 1957, there was no mourning, no blaming, no call to the city for assistance. My grandfather and friends picked up their tools and got to work.

Over the years, Pittsfield has had its share of ups and downs, missed opportunities, and reasons to complain. Whether it was saying no to a downtown mall, a baseball stadium or a bypass, it seems for every issue we face, there is an excuse to go with it. No more excuses.

As your next state representative I will be rebuilding Pittsfield, as my grandfather did long before me. My success won't be measured by two by fours and storefronts, but by votes, bills, and funding.

ACTIONS, NOT WORDS

I pledge to the people of Pittsfield that if after four years, you don't see that positive change and progress, then you can hold me accountable: not to my words — those come easy — but to my actions and my results.

It's on us now.

While I hold my grandparents' generation in esteem, and carry with me the lessons I have learned from them, the future of this city is in the hands of a new generation — one that believes passionately in equality, sustainability, and continued progress for our community.

I am knocking on doors seven days a week asking for your vote on Sept. 8 in the Democratic preliminary election. And If we haven't yet met, I want to hear from you, 413-212-9386 or bloombergforpittsfield@gmail.com.

Michael Bloomberg is a Democratic candidate for state representative from the 3rd Berkshire District.

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On the trail: Berkshire campaigns in brief
The Berkshire Eagle, 7/9/2016

“Environmental Group Endorses Farley-Bouvier”

PITTSFIELD - The Environmental League of Massachusetts Action Fund endorsed of state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, for re-election.

"We are grateful for Tricia's leadership on environmental issues and for her work to build a more sustainable commonwealth and we are proud to stand with her," ELM stated in a letter announcing the endorsement.

"ELM has been a key player in shaping environmental policy in Massachusetts and is committed to fighting climate change and preserving the land, water, and health of the commonwealth," Farley-Bouvier said. "Good government is about teamwork and I look forward to continuing to work with ELM in ensuring that Massachusetts is on the forefront of environmental issues."

The fund is a nonprofit educational and advocacy organization committed to fighting climate change as well as the protection of the commonwealth's natural resources.

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Letter: "Farley-Bouvier works for city and residents"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/1/2016

To the editor:

I hope that the voters are paying attention right now because there is just over a month until the Thursday, Sept. 8 state primary elections.

Tricia Farley-Bouvier has earned my whole-hearted support for state representative in the Democratic primary. She is the work horse in this race. Her record of service to Pittsfield speaks for itself.

She is present at every significant event in the city, and understands the issues they represent. She works hard to improve the economy, the cultural aspect, and the social needs of all our citizens.

Please remember to go to the polls on Thursday, Sept. 8 and vote for Tricia Farley-Bouvier for state representative.

Mary K. O'Brien, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Farley-Bouvier is dedicated to city"
The Berkshire Eagle, 10/28/2016

To the editor:

I strongly support the re-election of State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier because of her proven dedication to the people of Pittsfield and the many needs of our city.

She has learned how difficult life can be for some of our citizens when they need transportation to a job or, for seniors and disabled people, to medical appointments.

She knows how vital it is for our city to provide suitable educational opportunities to children and adults. Her deep knowledge of the agencies that help us to live more comfortably, whether for kids' day care and recreation, or to help seniors remain in their own homes as they age.

She supports and participates in the wonderful cultural activities that make Pittsfield a good place to live, and that bring people from all over to visit and come to know us.

State Rep. Farley-Bouvier knows that our city needs the help of the Berkshire legislative delegation, working as a team, to bring home our fair share of the "bacon" from Boston.

Please re-elect Tricia whose dedication and experience deserve our votes.

Mary K. O'Brien, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Help Farley-Bouvier to keep serving Pittsfield"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/4/2016

To the editor:

Our state representative, Tricia Farley Bouvier, is one of the hardest-working individuals I have ever met. Her heart is with the city of Pittsfield.

Tricia has worked tirelessly to improve our quality of life and has served the city over decades, from teaching in our schools to city councilor and now as our state representative. I am voting for her re-election starting with the primary on Thursday, Sept. 8.

Mary L. McGinnis, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Farley-Bouvier strong on environmental issues"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/5/2016

To the editor:

We are writing to urge voters in Pittsfield to support the re-election of state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, who is running for re-election in the Democratic primary on Thursday, Sept. 8.

We are proud to support Rep. Farley-Bouvier due to her steadfast leadership on environmental issues in the Legislature and her tireless work on behalf of the people of Pittsfield. She understands the importance of our state investing in clean energy, sustainable transportation, and parks to help address climate change, create jobs, and build healthier communities.

This past session, she has been a leader on legislation to prevent ratepayers from subsidizing unnecessary gas pipelines and addressing the issue of gas leaks. She has also been working to create jobs and has secured new state investments in the regional economy that will encourage new companies to locate in Pittsfield.

With critical environmental issues confronting the Legislature this next session, we ask you to please support a real environmental champion this fall.

Joe O'Brien, Boston
The writer is political director, Environmental League of Massachusetts, Action Fund.

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Letter: "Why I will be voting for Mike Bloomberg"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/10/2016

To the editor:

I am a young, biracial, single mother struggling to get by. I was raised by a single mother who struggled to get by as well. I've never lived on the nice side of town or had any of the nice things that kids with two parents had. My mother raised me to be proud of who I am and what I accomplish. My family has always worked hard for what we have, no matter how little it may be.

I was never interested in politics until I heard Bernie Sanders' speech on single mothers being heroines and his not understanding how we do it. Since then I have campaigned for ward councilors, our mayor and even Bernie himself. With my new-found love of politics, I was able to re-spark the love of Pittsfield I had as a child.

When I met Mike Bloomberg, I found someone who shares my passion for Pittsfield and who speaks positively of our city. I love walking around my neighborhood with Mike because he doesn't see it for what it once was, in "the glory days," nor does he see it in a negative light as many do today. He sees my neighborhood like he sees Pittsfield, for what it can be. It's a vision and an energy this city desperately needs.

We may have grown up on different sides of town, but we both know what it's like to be raised by a single mother who worked more than one job. I see that work ethic in him every morning when he is first to the office, every afternoon as he knocks on doors for hours on end, and every night as he works well past midnight, trying to make our home a better place for me to raise my son.

We need a state representative like Mike Bloomberg, who can relate to the younger and older generations. We need a new perspective and new energy representing us in Boston.

Please get out your vote on Thursday, Sept. 8 and please vote for Mike Bloomberg in the Democratic primary!

Nycole Gallagher, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Farley-Bouvier offers experience, commitment"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/10/2016

To the editor:

I feel privileged to have Tricia Farley-Bouvier as my state representative and acquaintance. It was a pleasure to see her son excel in his courses at Berkshire Community College, where I teach. His accomplishments are a fitting tribute to Tricia's background as an educator and strong supporter of education, particularly in securing funding for a new Taconic school building in Pittsfield.

Please know that our votes for Tricia Farley-Bouvier will sustain a tradition of outstanding representation for us through her experience, maturity, and deep commitment to our area — the home we share with her.

June Sprigg Tooley, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Allow Farley-Bouvier to keep doing good work"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/11/2016

To the editor:

I have known Tricia Farley-Bouvier for over 30 years. I am proud to say that I was her first employer and recognized very early on that she was a talented, hard-working, caring and motivated individual.

I have watched her over the years with admiration as she has developed into an incredibly dedicated leader who has worked day in and day out to help our community. Her determination to improve and protect the lives of the Berkshires' citizens is a model for us all to follow.

From the time she was first elected to the Pittsfield City Council, Tricia has shown great determination to help her constituents. In the Legislature, she has worked tirelessly to support legislation that has enhanced the lives of children, families, the elderly and individuals with disabilities.

Whenever a crucial meeting takes place, whether in Pittsfield or Boston you can count on Tricia being part of the conversation. She has advocated for our region, and worked hard with her Berkshire delegation colleagues to bring funding to the Berkshires.

Whether it was for the cities and towns to support schools, cultural organizations to support the arts, the nonprofit agencies that serve so many of us or to improve our environment, Tricia has continued to lead the charge to improve lives. We are so fortunate that she is fighting for us in Boston and it is important that we show our appreciation and support. I urge you to vote in the September primary to make sure we return our passionate, dedicated state representative, Tricia Farley-Bouvier, to represent us in Boston.

Kenneth W. Singer, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Bloomberg will close gap in education, technology"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/11/2016

To the editor:

As a professor of engineering at MIT, I have worked with thousands of students and researchers, all seeking to build technology that helps transform and advance our world. As the former dean for graduate education at MIT, and through many public and private partnerships, I have worked to expand access to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education to students of underrepresented backgrounds.

It is very difficult and, thus, rare to find individuals who are capable of bridging the gap between education, technology and public service, but Mike Bloomberg gets it.

His experience working with top technologists, his passion for education advancement, and his ability to go from the big picture, to the minute details is very unique.

What impresses me most about Mike is that his passion for the people of Pittsfield, and our state, has driven him to apply those talents to our state government. We need people like Mike on Beacon Hill if we want to continue to be the most innovate state in the most innovate country in the world.

I encourage all of you to cast your vote for Mike Bloomberg for state representative in the Democratic primary on Sept. 8.

Christine Ortiz, Cambridge
Dr. Ortiz is the Morris Cohen Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT and the former dean for graduate education at MIT.

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"Democratic House and Senate hopefuls face off in Berkshire Brigades debates"
By Jim Therrien, The Berkshire Eagle, 8/12/2016

PITTSFIELD — The five Democratic candidates seeking legislative nominations in the Sept. 8 primary participated in wide-ranging candidate debates Thursday evening at Berkshire Community College.

In back-to-back events sponsored by the Berkshire Brigades, incumbent state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, and challenger Michael Bloomberg, of Holmes Road, faced off first in a one-hour debate.

Then, Democratic Senate candidates Andrea Harrington, of Richmond, Rinaldo Del Gallo, of Lenox, and Adam Hinds of Pittsfield, who are vying to replace Sen. Ben Downing, D-Pittsfield, debated over 90 minutes.

Progressive positions — and often which candidate was the most progressive on an issue — dominated the debates. But differences over perceived qualifications and approaches to serving in the Legislature did emerge and provoked some of the sharpest exchanges.

In the House debate, moderated by Williams College political science professor Jim Mahon, Bloomberg was critical of what he termed a lack of progress during Farley-Bouvier's time in the House since 2011. Talking about the flight of young adults from the Berkshires in search of economic opportunity, he said, "This is why we need new energy; we need fresh ideas. We need change."

The area has received less state funding and support in recent years than during the terms of Farley-Bouvier's predecessors, Bloomberg asserted.

The incumbent fired back by asking voters to look at her training and work in the special education field, at her work at City Hall and as a city councilor in Pittsfield prior to her election to the House, and asked them to note "the absence of such experience by my opponent."

In her closing remarks, Farley-Bouvier also asked voters to "think of this election as a job application and put my resume and my opponent's side by side."

She cited "gaps in his work resume" and lack of significant employment in Berkshire County.

Bloomberg, a 2008 Pittsfield High School graduate and 2012 University of Massachusetts grad, said he hasn't been working recently because he is studying economic issues at UMass. He said he previously gained experience working for a start-up hedge fund, Kora Management.

The candidate added that he grew up in the Berkshires and his family has deep roots in Pittsfield. He said he always intended to return to the area and now hopes to help foster an economic climate that will lure other young adults to settle here.

Farley-Bouvier asked voters to compare the endorsements from political figures and organizations she has received to those Bloomberg, a first time candidate for office, has attracted in the primary race.

And she touted what she termed a "proven progressive record" in Boston and a reputation "for being everywhere" at community events, and for working in a collaborative manner to accomplish legislative goals. Among initiatives she expressed pride in were efforts to ensure equal pay for equal work, which she said involved a tough 20-year struggle that recently came to fruition.

Bloomberg said he has gained experience working in a high-pressure industry and through his studies that would lead to new approaches to economic development here. One change he would pursue, he said, would be to organize the House representatives from the 26 Gateway Cities, such as Pittsfield, toward gaining a larger share of economic development funding.

The candidates are seeking the party's nomination for the 3rd Berkshire House seat, with the winner facing independent Christopher Connell, a Pittsfield city councilor, in the Nov. 8 general election.

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Tricia Farley-Bouvier: “A proven record of accomplishment”
By Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 8/12/2016

PITTSFIELD - I have always thought of a campaign as a kind of a job interview with the voters. Candidates present their resumes, they participate in interviews (debates), offer references and engage in conversations with people on their front porches.

In this election, I invite you to put my resume and that of my opponent side by side. I have 30 years of professional experience in education and public service in Pittsfield. I've taught in the public schools and I have run a non-profit organization. I have been your city councilor and your state representative. I have a proven record as an effective legislator both advocating for the passing of sound progressive legislation and supporting my district through grant funding and earmarks.

I sponsored the 2013 legislation that allowed for the changes in the City Charter. In addition, I have passed legislation on insurance mandates and protections for sexual assault survivors. As chair of the Progressive Caucus, I have proudly taken a lead role in passing such bills as the Equal Pay Act, the Transgender Public Accommodation law and the Gas Leak provisions in the Energy bill.

Through my leadership role in the Gateway City Caucus, I helped pass and then fund the Transformative Development Initiative, which will bring focused planning and development into Gateway City neighborhoods. Further, I played a key role in getting Pittsfield named as one of only 10 districts selected and then further to receive one of the few full-time planning fellowships to focus on the transformation of Tyler Street.

I have spearheaded the $76 million of state investment in the Taconic High School Building Project, won $9.6 million for the Berkshire Innovation Center, secured bond authorization of $6 million for the repair of the Columbus Street Garage, secured $1.9 million in funding for the last two phases of the renovation of the Common and facilitated such applications for the Shannon Grant and Safe & Supportive Youth. I have also secured the funding for the recently opened opioid treatment facility in Pittsfield with plans for a second in the near future.

NEIGHBORHOOD EFFORTS

I have spent a great deal of time in the many different neighborhoods of Pittsfield meeting with and addressing the needs of residents. I'm particularly proud of my work in supporting both the coalition to reduce teen pregnancy and the Pittsfield Promise campaign whose goal is to have all our third graders reading at grade level. In that effort, I have worked directly with Manny and Vanessa Slaughter in helping them take their popular neighborhood sports and games playground program and extend it into a Summer Literacy Program.

Now let's compare this experience to that of my challenger. According to Mr. Bloomberg, he had internships working for the Olympics, Bloomberg Sports, Bloomberg News, all of which require pretty unusual connections to secure. It is also concerning that the longest he has stayed in any job is eight months; that's two professional jobs, for eight months each. Since November 2014, he has not been employed.

Mr. Bloomberg makes the repeated claim of being experienced at urban planning. His major was Political Science and neither of his internships nor his two jobs involved planning. Urban planning is a technical field that requires not only a great deal of course work but also years of experience in the field.

Finally, I think the voters might be concerned that he has almost no experience in the city he wants to represent. Not only has he not worked here professionally, he has not served on any boards or commissions and he has not held any local elected position. He's been here for a matter of months and by all appearances, he moved back here for the sole purpose of running for office.

The position of state representative is not an entry-level position.

When seeking a job it is customary to provide references. The advocacy organizations who most closely follow the issues facing the community offer endorsements. In contrast to my opponent who has not received a single endorsement from these kinds of groups, I am proud to have received the following to date:

For my leadership on environmental issues, The Environmental League of Massachusetts, The Sierra Club, and Clean Water Action.

For my work standing up for the Scientists and Engineers of MA, their union, MOSES.

For my consistent advocacy for all things educational, including my strong opposition of lifting the Charter Cap, The Massachusetts Teachers Association, including the United Educators of Pittsfield.

For my proven record on protecting workers rights and our strong and strategic advocacy of raising the minimum wage, SEIU1199 and SEIU888.

For my leadership on women's rights and civil rights, particularly my role in the passage of the Transgender Public Accommodation law and the Equal Pay Act, the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus.

Taking into account our professional experience, our record of commitment to Pittsfield and our job references, I believe it is clear that I am the strongest candidate to serve as Pittsfield's state representative.

Tricia Farley-Bouvier is the Democratic representative from the 3rd Berkshire District.

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Letter: “Speedskater attests to Bloomberg's hard work”
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/12/2016

To the editor:

As an Olympic athlete, I commit myself to training every day, whether I have a rough night's sleep or a sore back, there is always work to be done, no excuses. I took a break today to write this letter in support of Mike Bloomberg, a Democratic candidate for state representative, because wherever he is right now, he is without a doubt busting his butt for your community.

Mike will be the first person to tell you he's not an athlete (sorry, Mike), but don't let him tell you he doesn't work as hard as one. He is always striving to make himself, and everyone around him, better at what they do. That's leadership. That's dedication. I don't know much about politics at the Statehouse, but I would imagine those are great qualities to have in a representative.

If you vote for Mike Bloomberg on Sept. 8 and again in November, I guarantee you that you will have the hardest working state representative in Boston.

Brian Hansen, South Salt Lake City, Utah
Brian Hansen is a two-time Olympic speedskater who won a silver medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Hansen met Bloomberg at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs where he was rehabbing an injury and Bloomberg was serving as an intern with the U.S. Olympic Committee. Hansen is training for the 2018 Winter Games.

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Letter: "Farley-Bouvier is a proven state representative"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/15/2016

To the editor:

Michael Bloomberg is a bright young man who has done his research but lacks important skills and experience to be our state representative. For 12 years, Tricia Farley-Bouvier has demonstrated her ability to make things happen. She listens and learns from constituents in every neighborhood in Pittsfield to represent our city well. She earned the reputation for "being everywhere" because she is.

She has a unique ability to listen to both sides of an issue and to withhold judgment until a careful analysis is completed. She has the skills to negotiate a win-win solution. During her years in the House, she developed relationships on both sides of the aisle to facilitate important legislation. She used these skills to help to pass such important legislation as the Transgender Public Accommodation Bill and the Equal Pay Act.

She has the respect of the Speaker of the House because she can bring people to the table, along with the support of her colleagues in the Berkshire delegation, the Progressive Caucus and the Gateway City Caucus, all of whom think we are lucky to have her represent us. These connections take time to develop. We can't afford to start over and Michael's "just give them facts" response at the recent debate reflects his political naiveté in understanding the importance of those relationships.

Michael's suggestion that he would work with the other Gateway Cities is old news to Tricia, who has worked with the Gateway Cities Caucus to secure the funds for the Tyler Street development and for the three-year planning fellow to facilitate that process. His accusation that Tricia doesn't secure needed funding for education are unfounded. She has been a teacher, a member of the original building needs committee, a city councilor liaison to the Taconic High School project, which shows that she cares about education, and been the voice in Boston that helped secure that funding. She has been endorsed by the teachers union because she advocates for their issues, specifically increased pay for early educators. Obtaining funds for additional substance abuse treatment is another.

Michael has some good ideas for Pittsfield and he would be smart to find a way to contribute to the City's future. He is not ready to be our state representative. I am voting for Tricia Farley-Bouvier on Thursday, Sept. 8 because she has proven she has the skills.

Marjorie Safran, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Bloomberg brings energy, and a fresh perspective"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/15/2016

To the editor:

As a lifelong resident of Pittsfield and a downtown merchant for over 30 years, I encourage my fellow citizens to vote for Michael Bloomberg to represent the 3rd Berkshire District (Pittsfield) in Boston.

I am impressed with Michael's fresh outlook on some of Pittsfield's most vexing problems. As much as we love this city, I think that vision is largely due to him having gone out and lived elsewhere. For me this isn't a deterrent, but a positive to electing him to office.

His energy reminds me of another young man who ran for office some 10 years ago, Ben Downing, who at an even younger age than Michael, has gone on to be one of our city's greatest representatives.

Many people who escape the gravity of family and finances leave to greener pastures. Michael has returned to Pittsfield to bring state attention to the renewal of our economy. It's going to take a lot of work, but I believe he has the energy and vision to make it happen.

I think he will be an important voice for Pittsfield in the Statehouse if elected. Please remember to exercise your right to vote on Sept. 8.

Thomas Martin, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Bloomberg offers energy, new ideas"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/15/2016

To the editor:

In 2011, I served as field organizer for Western Massachusetts for Barack Obama's campaign. In spite of a lifelong passion for women's liberation, my deepest conviction was that Barack Obama was the right person for the job.

These past eight years, I've learned to be a political operative and mentored young women in the field. You may be surprised that I'm now working for Michael Bloomberg, a millennial who grew up here in Pittsfield, a graduate of Pittsfield High, and UMass, in his race to become the next state representative of his home city.

Why would I work for Mike, rather than support the incumbent, a lovely woman who has been a friend?

I believe we need new energy and ideas. Pittsfield is a treasure, but the city desperately needs bright, creative thinkers who can create the kind of jobs that will keep and bring in youthful energy.

As I have gotten to know Mike, I see Pittsfield through his eyes, a walkable, green, beautiful downtown, a city with history yet even more potential. He sees a city with great education for ALL children, and safety in every neighborhood. He sees citizens of all ages integrated for the betterment of all.

Most importantly, he has a realistic vision for how we get there. He worked in finance in the heart of New York City, and has studied urban revitalization efforts around the country. He wants to bring back the lessons learned from other cities and states, and put them to work for the town he grew up in.

People often talk about women working together, and I know that can be a beautiful thing. I am also finding that Mike naturally collaborates, not merely as a strategy, but rather as an innate understanding that that is just how things get done. I'm impressed.

So Pittsfieldians, mark your calendar — Thursday, Sept. 8 — and cast your vote for Mike Bloomberg.

Susan Olshuff, Lenox

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Letter to the Editor: "Bloomberg will take on Pittsfield's negativity"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/16/2016

To the editor:

As a 20-year-old born and raised in Pittsfield, I grew up completely immersed in the mythology of the negativity of our local politics. I remember being taken to Joe Bruno Stadium in Troy, N.Y., for a ValleyCats game and being told, "This stadium was almost in Pittsfield, but politics got in the way." I remember going to the Berkshire Mall and being told, "This was almost in Pittsfield, but politics got in the way." Nothing good would ever happen because people were always against this or that, never for anything.

"Things have always been this way" is an excuse I've heard ad nauseum, but that I, and my generation, refuse to accept. Pittsfield needs youth and fresh ideas. Pittsfield needs people like Mike Bloomberg.

I was Mike's campaign manager for two months before leaving for school. As someone who cares deeply about what I do, I would not have worked for him unless I truly believed in his message and ability to do the job. I've seen how he operates from the inside. When Mike says something, he means it.

There is no tolerance for excuses. Mike is willing to give constructive criticism but also, more importantly, is eager to receive it. If there were ever a political candidate who is willing and able to break the cycle of negativity that has dominated our local political discourse for several decades, to move Pittsfield forward without excuses or a wait-your-turn-and-trade-votes mentality, it is Mike Bloomberg.

As of late, there has been much talk of resumes and some vague insinuations of favoritism due to Mike's last name. While his opponent was busy digging up opposition research from an old LinkedIn profile (which hadn't been updated in several years), I can promise you that he was doing one of two things: knocking on doors to hear from people like you, or burying his nose in policy briefs to figure out how to best help people like you. Like me, Mike is tired of the negativity and mudslinging. We all are. It's time to move forward.

On Sept. 8, I urge you to vote for Mike Bloomberg.

Lucas Benjamin, Pittsfield

Reader's comment:

"Mikes9152" wrote:

Lucas your preaching to choir here. Massachusetts is liberal Democratic controlled state. Most of what you described is so true, we were going have a bypass in the 70's the people killed that. You see the people here think the bigger the government the better and we don't need change to keep up with the rest of the world. Why? Because we live in a utopia where everyone would just love be here and enjoy the scenery. But the truth is the population is declining business is closing or leaving. You only have to listen to the politicians who insist we will fight to get more of our fair share of dollars from the State, a State that can't even afford to improve the roads and bridges and can't even live within the budget because the money is not there. TFB fits that role because they operated that way for decades and the voters like it, but I assure they won't like it in the end because the money is running out. If it wasn't for our Republican Governor Charlie Baker who has refused to raise taxes Tricia would have the mileage tax in place. We already going to vote in this election to raise the tax on people who make over million dollars a year to pay 4% more on the money above that. I'm not for that because that is sending a terrible message that if you come to Massachusetts to create business, jobs, or wealth you will be penalized. Which will make a bad situation even worse. We used to be a people in this country to strive to succeed and create wealth for ourselves but now we have become a country of what can we take from the people who have more than me without no effort to produce for ourselves. This is the policy of the Democratic Party for which Michael Bloomberg is a part of and that I find a little troublesome. Is he a true Democrat or is he just saying it because he knows he can't win if he runs as a Republican or an Independent? My take is the whole system needs to change and for that to happen the mentality of the voters and the parties need to change. There are many legs to this example we have a Governor who would like to make change but a democratic house and senate that will hold him back because they want more spending on everything and anything. This true even with the local politicians, property taxes and business taxes keep increasing because of the democratic party policy of more taxes to prop it up, except it's not working the middle class jobs are disappearing. Were in an election for President this year, we can vote for Hillary for which she will continue the Democratic policy or vote for Donald for hope of some change to move this country in the right direction. I believe a vote for Hillary will change this country to the point of no return. The politics in this country have become so bad that even the politicians can't speak the truth, we either don't want to here it or we have to be political correct, if not don't speak. This what the people have forced on the politicians it's very saddening. Because if they can't speak their minds then we never really know what their thinking.

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Letter: "Connell is a proven hard worker for city"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/17/2016

To the editor:

I am writing this letter to express my support for Christopher Connell, who is running as an independent for state representative from the 3rd Berkshire District.

It is unusual for me to write in support of a candidate, as I tend to be skeptical of politicians who too often are in politics for power and to promote their self–interest. I can tell you first-hand that Chris is not a typical politician.

Chris became my first friend in the area when I moved to the Berkshires eight years ago. Chris wasn't in politics then. I met him playing basketball at the Pittsfield YMCA.

Basketball reveals character. Chris was the ultimate gentleman on the court and looked to pass to teammates rather than score himself. Over the eight years I have known Chris, I have observed that he is concerned about the success of others.

My business struggled during the financial crisis and even though we had just become friends, Chris took the time to listen to my problems and offered me helpful and creative ideas that made a difference.

I was so impressed by his business experience, from being a regional manager for Cumberland Farms, a contractor, and a rental property owner/manager. His wealth of experience enabled him to see solutions to my business challenges that I had overlooked.

When I learned Chris was running for the Pittsfield City Council 4 ½ years ago, I became interested in local politics. I have observed that as a city councilor Chris works hard to listen to people and get things done for them. He is a lot more action than talk. For example, during the last four years he has been fighting to get more parking spaces in Pittsfield for the physically challenged.

Chris has collaborated with other city councilors to improve the quality of life for those of us living in Pittsfield. Chris is not into party politics. His agenda for running for state representative is to bring needed dollars from Beacon Hill back to Pittsfield.

On a personal note, I have made so many friends in Pittsfield these last eight years, and I love this town. With all the companies that have gone out of business or left the region, I worry about its financial well-being.

It is not because Chris Connell is my friend that I pray that he wins this election; it is because Chris will work harder than any other candidate to help Pittsfield receive the funding it needs to maintain our infrastructure and create more business opportunities and jobs.

Michael Eitelberg Pittsfield

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Letter: “Many reasons to vote for Farley-Bouvier”
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/14/2016

To the editor:

As a School Committee member, educator and 20-year resident of Pittsfield, I am voting to reelect Tricia Farley-Bouvier for state representative and this is why:

First, Tricia is a staunch advocate for education. She has fought passionately for funding for the full-time kindergarten grant and continues to fight for universal pre-K, especially for the Gateway Cities, of which Pittsfield is one, and she will continue the fight to keep the cap on charter schools. Tricia has also fought tirelessly over the past decade and secured funding for the new Taconic High School.

But, her advocacy does not stop at pre-K-12 education. Tricia fights passionately to ensure equity in funding for our community colleges and has been committed to working with administrators at Berkshire Community College to keep abreast of issues impacting higher education. Tricia meets regularly with Supt. McCandless of the Pittsfield Public Schools and President Kennedy of BCC. She understands education is the way out of poverty and the key to improved economic development.

Second, I am voting to reelect Tricia Farley-Bouvier because of her character. Tricia is service oriented, not politically motivated. She has been advocating for the improvement of people's lives long before she became a state rep and will continue long after she leaves public office. Tricia is known as the leader in the House on issues of child welfare and her advocacy for social workers.

As a member of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Tricia was instrumental in passing the new opioid bill and advocating for the establishment of two new opioid addiction facilities in Pittsfield. As co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, she was a key leader in advocating for a strong renewable energy bill, including having rules put in place to hold the gas companies accountable for their gas leaks.

Finally, I am voting to reelect Tricia because she represents all her constituents. She is accessible, values diversity and appreciates others' differences. Tricia is a good listener who seeks first to understand, then to be understood. I have personally witnessed Tricia work to bring diverse members of our community together to solve problems and become a more culturally competent community.

She is the kind of person I want representing my community in Boston and it is why I urge you to join me in voting to reelect Tricia Farley-Bouvier for our state representative on Thursday, Sept. 8.

Pamela A. Farron, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Michael Bloomberg keeps politics positive"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/18/2016

To the editor:

I have always been active in politics over the years, whether it was as an early member of WHEN (Women Helping Empower Neighborhoods) or through conversations with the many people who have walked through the doors at our restaurant, Teddy's Pizza, which has been open for more than 40 years.

Being right next to Pittsfield High School, I meet hundreds of young adults every year, athletes, actors and actresses, you name it. One young man I have had the pleasure of knowing for over 12 years is Michael Bloomberg, who is now running for state representative in Pittsfield.

I'm writing this letter because I recently read online, and in the newspaper, some people saying that Michael hasn't been involved in the community before. I couldn't believe it. That is just nasty politics and couldn't be further from the truth.

This young man has been involved with local politics since he was 14-years-old! He helped run a campaign for state Senate when he was 16, was a member of the County Democratic Organization, president of the Pittsfield Youth Commission, member of Rotary Interact, and I am sure much more that I can't remember.

Over the years, even as he went off to college and then to work in New York City, he has always stayed involved in local politics. I can always count on him to walk me through the issues of our city, listen to my concerns, and help find solutions.

But my favorite thing about Michael, and why I encourage all of you to vote for him on Sept. 8, is that he always stays positive.

Susan Bilis, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Farley-Bouvier has made case for re-election"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/19/2016

To the editor:

There are many reasons why I support re-electing state Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier to represent Pittsfield's 3rd District.

Tricia has an incredible ability to connect with people. Tricia is involved in many programs that support Pittsfield residents and neighborhoods. When she is not in Boston, Tricia meets with more groups than I could possibly mention to understand the needs of our families and neighbors. She is accessible and understands that collaboration is the key to successful representation in the state house.

Tricia has worked closely with administrators in the Pittsfield schools and at Berkshire Community College. Tricia has a solid understanding of the need for accessible education as a way to break the cycle of poverty. She has been endorsed by the United Educators of Pittsfield and the Mass Teachers Association in recognition of her support for public education.

Tricia is co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus, has been a leading advocate for renewable energy as well as for holding natural gas companies responsible for fixing leaking gas pipelines, and she has been endorsed by the Environmental League of Massachusetts and the Sierra Club for her actions.

Tricia has been a leader in the Gateway City Caucus, and was able to help secure one of a very few grants for a full time fellowship position focusing on Tyler Street redevelopment.

I am proud to call Tricia a friend and hope that you will join me in voting for Tricia Farley-Bouvier on Thursday, Sept 8 and again in the November general election.

Peter Sibner, Pittsfield

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Letter: “Farley-Bouvier is the education candidate”
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/21/2016

To the editor:

As someone who has over 30 years of experience working in many administrative capacities for the Pittsfield Public Schools, I enthusiastically endorse state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier as the clear education candidate in this election.

Throughout her life, Tricia has worn many hats in support of education. After graduating college, Tricia spent a year volunteering as a teacher for hearing impaired children in Belize, Central America. Upon her return to the U.S., she became a special education teacher here in Pittsfield. Once she earned her Master's Degree, Tricia taught for two years at the American School in Uruguay. Once she and her husband decided it was time to start a family, they returned to Pittsfield and Tricia began teaching at the Adult Learning Center. While she sat on the City Council, she also served as the executive director of the Literacy Network of South Berkshire.

As an original member and at one point co-chair of the School Building Needs Commission, Tricia met with teachers, administrators, parents, architects, and concerned citizens to initiate the process of upgrading Taconic High School. Tricia's collaborative approach not only gave all vested parties a voice at the table, but also gave all of us an example of how good government works.

Tricia's involvement in local politics began when Pittsfield Public Schools were facing the prospect of massive layoffs. Tricia collaborated with a group of fellow parents and concerned citizens called "Save Our Schools" to successfully pressure the city to find the funds needed to avert an educational disaster.

Once Tricia became our state representative, she helped to secure the funding needed to make the Taconic High School project a reality. Tricia's tireless efforts in support of this project will pay dividends for thousands of Pittsfield students for many years.

It would be difficult to find any candidate for office that is more dedicated to education than Tricia Farley-Bouvier. I am honored to have such a dedicated public servant represent me in Boston. She is a tireless fighter for education who gets things done. She is a doer, not just a sayer.

Charles Bordeau, Pittsfield

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U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (Eagle File)

“Sen. Elizabeth Warren to visit Berkshires as part of 'America's Agenda' tour”
By Dick Lindsay, The Berkshire Eagle, 8/21/2016

PITTSFIELD — The Democratic presidential campaign sort of makes a stop in the Berkshires next weekend.

On Saturday, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren brings her "America's Agenda" tour to the Berkshire Community College West Street campus.

According to organizers, the doors at BCC's Boland Theater will open at 11 a.m. and those planning to attend are asked to RSVP at everett.handford@gmail.com

Since the mid-term elections two years ago, Warren has espoused the income inequality in the country, focusing on the erosion of the middle class. In recent weeks, she has criss-crossed the commonwealth to discuss her agenda, at times doing so in the context of stumping for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Warren reportedly was on Clinton's short list of vice presidential running mates, with the former first lady choosing U.S. Tim Kaine of Virginia.

Warren has said in radio and newspaper interviews, the one-time U.S. senator from New York is best suited for taking back the federal government influence by corporate America.

It's a position she has maintained since the opinion piece she wrote in the Washington Post, Nov. 7, 2014.

"It's not the size of government that worries people; rather it's deep-down concern over who government works for," she wrote. "People are ready to work, ready to do their part, ready to fight for their futures and their kids' futures, but they see a government that bows and scrapes for big corporations, big banks, big oil companies and big political donors — and they know this government does not work for them."

Among Warren's reported economic solutions:

• Raising the minimum wage

• Create more jobs

• Protect Social Security and medicare and encourage more private pension plans

• Reduce Wall Street's grip on the American economic and political systems

• Close federal tax loopholes and raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233. rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com @BE_DLindsay on Twitter.

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Senator Elizabeth Warren gives a presentation on the American economy and the middle class to a packed auditorium and additional overflow room at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield on Saturday. (Stephanie Zollshan — The Berkshire Eagle | photos.berkshireeagle.com)

Hundreds fill the auditorium and an additional overflow room at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield for a presentation by Senator Elizabeth Warren on the American economy and the middle class on Saturday. (Stephanie Zollshan — The Berkshire Eagle | photos.berkshireeagle.com)

Hundreds line up outside at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield waiting to hear a presentation by Senator Elizabeth Warren on Saturday. (Stephanie Zollshan — The Berkshire Eagle | photos.berkshireeagle.com)

Before her main event, a presentation on the American economy and the middle class, Senator Elizabeth Warren visits an overflow room filled with those who could not get a seat in the auditorium at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield. She thanks them for coming, shows them the screen that they will watch her from. Though she will be in the other room, she entreats them to "still laugh at my jokes though, I need the encouragement!" (Stephanie Zollshan — The Berkshire Eagle | photos.berkshireeagle.com)

'She gives us hope that things can change': Warren invigorates BCC crowd
Sen. Warren invigorates crowd of hundreds with speech at BCC
By Derek Gentile, The Berkshire Eagle, 8/27/2016

PITTSFIELD - The message was, at it's core, very simple: Get involved and we can make the country better.

But U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Saturday morning galvanized an overflow crowd at Berkshire Community College with an hour-long discussion of economics, history and political policy that had the audience standing and cheering at its conclusion.

"She was exhilarating," said Karen Andrews of West Stockbridge after the event. "I really love everything she stands for."

"You can tell she was a teacher," observed June Wink of Sandisfield after the presentation. "She's just so clear. I think she should be president. Obviously not this time around, but maybe four years from now."

Warren has been a professor at Harvard.

Warren explained to the audience that Saturday's talk was a "preview" of the economic position and points she would present to the rest of the country.

The audience filled the 500-seat Robert Boland Theater at the college's Koussevitzky Arts Center. In addition, according to Director of Marketing Christina Barrett, about 100 more attendees were settled into the smaller theater across the hall from Boland.

A Warren staffer explained that the senator stopped in to visit that contingent before she spoke in the main theater.

If there was one frustration, it was that the crowd was so big that, prior to opening the doors, the line of attendees waiting to enter snaked down the main concourse into the "quad" common area. Several in line complained of excessive exposure to the heat.

Warren's discussion was, for the most part, bipartisan. Her basic position was that for the first part of the 20th century, the country and it's leaders invested in the middle class.

She used as an example her own family experience. When she was a young girl in Oklahoma, her father suffered a heart attack, leaving her mother to support her and her three brothers.

Warren's point was that although her home life was financially difficult, her mother managed to support herself and four children on a minimum-wage job.

"That would be impossible now," she said.

Warren said she believed the decline of the middle class began in 1980, "when we stopped investing in the middle class and began investing in the wealthier members of our country — with the expectation that their prosperity would trickle down to the middle class."

Warren was clearly referring to the country's immersion in Reaganomics — but she did not mention the term.

"And while this was a Republican idea," she said. "There were many Democrats who bought into it, as well."

The various legislative initiatives, said Warren, included tax loopholes for huge corporations, less regulation on Wall Street and various laws deregulating commerce in the country.

All this, said Warren, led to the richest 10 percent of the country's population accruing literally all the new wealth in the United States since 1980. This situation makes it nearly impossible for middle class families to do anything but live paycheck to paycheck and accrue crushing debt.

The irony, said Warren, is that the economy is soaring, but only for those at the top.

"But there is hope," she said. Warren urged those in the audience to "raise your hand. Get involved. Nothing is inevitable. It's about choice. If our government has been taken over by the rich and powerful, we can take it back. They have money. We have numbers."

She suggested an emphasis on investing in education, infrastructure and research.

"We need a government that works for all of us," she said. "That's the point here."

Following the event, Warren posed for selfies with several dozen members of the audience, patiently chatting with each person with whom she posed.

"She's my idol," said Eileen Lawlor of Great Barrington. "You listen to her, and you can see why she was such a great teacher. She's very clear. I wish I had taken one of her classes."

"I just want to see her up close," said Lisa Hawkins of Pittsfield, who was standing nearby, not in the selfie line. "She gives us hope that things can change."

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251. dgentile@berkshireeagle.com @DerekGentile on Twitter.

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Letter: “Farley-Bouvier a part of BIC, PEDA failures”
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/22/2016

To the editor:

John Krol's radio mini-debate with the candidates for state representative the other day was illuminating. The incumbent, Tricia Farley-Bouvier, while trying to act more qualified and mature than her opponent, Michael Bloomberg, was pretty condescending toward her 26-year-old challenger. Suggesting he get a job and come back later is kind of laughable. The current (retiring) state senator, Ben Downing, was but 24 years old when he ran for the seat he now occupies. Ben has done yeoman's work, and his youth has been an advantage, not a liability.

As I listened further, I had a double-take moment as Ms. Farley-Bouvier suggested we need to get the Berkshire Innovation Center (BIC) started. We have $6 million in funding and bids totaling $9 million. Is starting a project we don't have all the money to complete responsible? Would you start a home renovation if you were 33 percent short on the known costs? And if you would, should we vote for you to manage our affairs? To claim the state will have to kick in the difference is not only naive, but irresponsible.

The BIC, taken together with the Waterstone proposal for retail on a site we all believed would house industrial development, represents the failure of PEDA and our state rep. to move anything forward on that site. She takes credit for much in the community by telling us she is a "partner" with city government. Well if there is failure, was she a partner in that?

One would think that if the BIC planning process was a quality job, the bids would have pretty much aligned with what PEDA sold to the state. That the bid was off by about 50 percent shows someone really didn't know what was going on and the contractors who bid saw the true costs as they put pencil to paper.

Pittsfield taxpayers should not presume the state will come through with the additional funding. This shortfall may give the state a good reason to ask the question many of us ask: What does PEDA DO anyway?

I say don't dig an inch into that polluted soil until 100 percent of the cost is in hand. If the BIC needs to be built at all, we need to wait. If Walmart is all this site can attract, and businesses in the nanotech industry are fully aware of the site, why have they not come here to build? The answer probably lies in the former use of the property on the one hand and the constant "what have we found now?" nature of the surprises which keep popping up on the other. The place is destined never to be re-used as promised.

He may be young, but how could Bloomberg do any worse for our community than the folks who have brought us this hot mess?

Dave Pill, Pittsfield

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Letter: “Farley-Bouvier is there for community, constituents”
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/22/2016

To the editor:

The job of state representative isn't only about the number of times your name appears first on legislation. It's how available a representative is to help a constituent who is having a challenge. It's how well that person cultivates and sustains relationships with colleagues and community leaders and it's demonstrating a proven commitment to improve Pittsfield for all its residents.

Tricia Farley-Bouvier brings this and more to the table through her years of public service, and that's why she will be getting my vote on primary day, Thursday, Sept. 8.

Pamela Knisley, Pittsfield

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Letter: “Farley-Bouvier always rises to the challenge”
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/22/2016

To the editor:

I first met Tricia Farley-Bouvier when we were in high school volunteering for Special Olympics. She shared her spirit of service with me and asked me to join her as a volunteer tutor aid at school with the special needs students. We became fast friends.

High school ended and the college years happened. We took different paths but still ended up back in our hometown. We reconnected when our children were very young sharing play dates. When those children started school, she was back at volunteering again. We worked together on many events for Egremont Elementary School.

When an opportunity presented itself for a bigger challenge, Tricia ran for a City Council at large seat. It was easy to support her as she was a natural choice, and her huge victory as the top vote-getter both times she ran proved Pittsfield thought so too.

When another opportunity to become our representative in Boston came up, she again rose to the challenge and assembled a team. I was proud to again be a part of her team as I am now. Again, the people of Pittsfield spoke and again she was their first choice.

Tricia has always been involved as a positive light for our fine city. A lifelong resident and someone who has always contributed her time and her many talents to serve others, Tricia has a way of bringing people together for a greater good. She is approachable and she will take the time to listen to anyone's concerns. She has been our voice and our advocate in Boston since 2011. She works as a team member to bring about change that benefits us all.

It is because of that team spirit, that caring for the city that has always been a part of her entire life, that I ask you to join me on Sept. 8 and once again vote for Tricia Farley-Bouvier so that she can continue to be that strong and positive voice for Pittsfield.

Karen A. Winslow, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Farley-Bouvier listens, works hard for community"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/25/2016

To the editor:

Over the last six years, we have had the opportunity to observe the exemplary work Tricia Farley-Bouvier has done on behalf of Pittsfield residents, both in her role as our state representative and as the public affairs coordinator for the mayor's office. Without exception, she has always made an extraordinary effort to listen to the concerns of her constituents and work with them to identify and develop effective solutions to address their challenges.

She possesses an inclusive and collaborative leadership style, which makes her ideally suited for serving as a representative of a community with a diverse range of interests and concerns. Without fanfare, she has worked to garner a better understanding of the underlying economic needs of our community and to create greater opportunities for educational attainment, living wage employment, and stable, decent housing.

Her substantive and deliberative style may not be flashy enough for some, but it has proven to be tremendously effective. It is our hope that you will join us in supporting Tricia Farley-Bouvier for state representative in the upcoming election.

Brad and Kristen Gordon, Pittsfield

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Letter: “Farley-Bouvier is a proven education advocate”
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/23/2016

To the editor:

I am an educator and volunteer who supports Tricia Farley-Bouvier with enthusiasm. Tricia is steadfast, reliable, energetic and works hard to get things done. For example, using teamwork and collaboration, Tricia connected the dots to advocate to rebuild Taconic High School and to bring in tax dollars to make it happen.

Tricia has worked with parents and other concerned citizens to avoid massive layoffs in the schools. Tricia supports caps on charter schools.

Every vote counts. Please join me at the polls. Remember, the primary is on Thursday, Sept. 8. Vote for Tricia.

Marietta Rapetti Cawse, Pittsfield

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Letter: “A hard-working, dedicated state rep.”
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/26/2016

To the editor:

Pittsfield needs Tricia Farley-Bouvier to keep doing what she is doing for our city, our neighborhoods and our future. Her indefatigable, optimistic commitment to our city is matched only by her tireless determination to make things happen.

As new downtown residents in 2008, our paths crossed and I am so glad they did! Tricia is one of the most talented, hard-working, caring leaders of this city's revitalization. Her advice and support as a member of the Gateway Cities Caucus has been invaluable to help establish and gain progress on the Tyler Street District Transformative Development Initiative (TDI). Those of us involved in the initiative seek her advice and counsel often.

Her breadth of knowledge, willingness to listen to both sides of an issue, find common ground and win-win solutions has placed our city in a stronger position on Capital Hill in Boston. Because Tricia knows "State government happens right here, in our community."

From education to the environment, child welfare to charter schools, equal rights to gas leaks, mental health and substance abuse, and more, Tricia is here working for us, with us, on the challenges facing our city and our commonwealth.

Our community is fortunate to have such a dedicated public servant representing our city in Boston. Please join me in voting for Tricia Farley-Bouvier for re-election on Thursday, Sept. 8 and again in the November general election.

Suzanne Engels, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Farley-Bouvier instrumental to St. Mary endeavor"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/26/2016

To the editor:

Eight years ago my parish, St. Mary Morning Star, was scheduled to close. I had a sense of the fine example of Romanesque architecture that existed inside and outside of the church but it was only when I became the author and historian of the booklet, "St. Mary the Morning Star Parish, 1915–2008" that I realized the significance of its parishioners.

At the August, 1941 Silver Jubilee Celebration, 500 people marched from Park Square to the Tyler Street lawn party grounds. The celebration's purpose was to help fund the building of a new church for St. Mary's. Amongst the parishioners who were important contributors to this endeavor were several members of the Nesbit family. George Nesbit was an advisory board member and John Nesbit served as a lawn fete worker.

One of the advertisements in the jubilee booklet was Nesbit Bros, Inc., "Where You Get That Real Personal Service." It described the Nesbit grocery store that was located at 770 Tyler Street. I know many people who are reading this letter will fondly remember that store. In 1963, when I became a parishioner of St. Mary's, there was always a Nesbit serving in some capacity.

When the announcement in Sept., 2014 came that the Diocese of Springfield had a purchase agreement with Dunkin' Donuts through Cafua Management to purchase the St. Mary campus and Dunkin' Donuts planned to raze the church, 1,500 people protested via a Facebook page almost overnight. The Friends of St. Mary's ad hoc committee was formed to try to save and re-purpose the church.

Over the last two years. another member of the Nesbit Family, Tricia Farley-Bouvier, continued the Nesbit service to St. Mary's. In her quiet way, she supports and is informed about our preservation activity. She is always available to help and I personally feel secure knowing that if there is anything that can be done out of Boston she will be there to help. Through a state-funded transformative district initiative, Tyler Street is finally receiving the attention and funding it deserves.

Our efforts to save St. Mary's church building have not been achieved yet but I feel we are on the cusp of some exciting things for the campus. We need a representative who will not need a learning curve to help us achieve our goals.

Please vote to keep Tricia Farley-Bouvier as our state representative in the primary on Sept. 8 so she may continue her strong support for helping to re-purpose St. Mary Morning Star Church.

Dianne DiNicola, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Farley-Bouvier has succeeded for Pittsfield"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/26/2016

To the editor:

I support re-electing Tricia Farley-Bouvier as our state representative in the 3rd Berkshire District.

Tricia has remarkable energy, as evidenced by her attendance at the meetings of various organizations and her willingness to work to improve the lives of all Pittsfieldians. She recognizes that education holds the key to successful futures for our citizens and works with parents, teachers and administrators to assure access to education for all.

Tricia has the ability to bring people together to work for the common good. Working with others, she's done much to move Pittsfield forward, never seeking to take credit for her accomplishments. As a resident of Morningside, I was delighted that Tricia obtained grants establishing a fellowship for the Transformative Development Initative project. Once again she accomplished this without fanfare.

I urge you to vote for Tricia Farley-Bouvier in the Sept. 8 primary and the general election in November.

June C. Stewart, Pittsfield

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Letter: “Bloomberg exemplifies youth Pittsfield needs”
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/26/2016

To the editor:

As a lifelong resident of Pittsfield, I am a woman who has raised her children here, sometimes by myself, but always surrounded by the goodness of our community. That community includes some of the most devoted family members: health care providers, educators and public servants who care deeply about Pittsfield.

We have health care in Pittsfield, equal to, and in so many ways, better than the care you have to travel 50 and sometimes 150 miles to receive. These providers choose to work here, to educate their children here, and serve our community here, a place where you receive care from people who know your name.

Our children are taught in a school system by a host of dedicated individuals. These educators are the force that keep our schools open, our children safe, and teach our children beyond the classroom, in a grand way, with a restricted budget.

We know our firemen, our policemen, and EMTs, dedicated first responders who are our neighbors and friends. We know our political leaders and city officials. Pittsfield is all about community, but it's a community that needs new energy.

On Sept. 8, I'll be voting for Mike Bloomberg for state representative. Mike is a product of this very community, a success story who has gained experience around the country and has returned to breathe fresh life into a tired city. We need this.

There isn't one of us who doesn't wish the young would stay or come back to Pittsfield to raise families. Now, here we have an opportunity on Sept. 8 to take action on these conversations.

So to the parents and grandparents who are reading this, this letter is for you. If we want Pittsfield to be a great place for young families, the Pittsfield we grew up in, that attracts smart young adults, let's start by electing one on Sept. 8. Let's elect Mike Bloomberg.

Bernadette C. Kennedy, Pittsfield

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"State rep. is vocation for Farley-Bouvier"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/26/2016

To the editor:

I support Tricia Farley-Bouvier for election to represent us in the Massachusetts Statehouse.

I am committed to her sense of leadership because of her commitment to us. A recent David Brooks column in the New York Times distinguished the types of politicians by those who have a vocation — a calling — and the careerist. The ones with a vocation believe that they must bring their abilities, energies and talent to serve the public good, and are committed to serving that long-term ideal. Tricia has that vocation.

Quite simply, it is sacred work they do, and that she does: helping address our social, economic and health problems. Look at Tricia's work with the opioid bill. Our sense of community — look at her work in bringing funding for our amazing Commons Park. Have you seen the city's children in the sweltering heat, laughing in the delights of that splash pad or met a neighbor at the next booth at the Saturday farmers market, or stretched out in a lawn chair for Shakespeare in the Park? This is the heartbeat of our community, in a park brought to us by the vision of Deval Patrick and the work on funding of Tricia and our City's Park Commission.

Look forward toward the future, there is the building (and funding) for a new Taconic High School, and growing our city's economy. Consider her amazing work for Pittsfield as a designated Gateway City to bring money to our schools, fund the Innovation Center, and help our most precious resource, our children, with The Shannon Grant that benefits children at risk.

She explores creative ways to improve our future, an example of which is the Tyler Street development for new businesses and a revitalization of that neighborhood. She takes joy in this work, and is always accessible to us, and open to listening.

Examine her record, ask her about your concerns. She will be there, with an open heart and mind, guided by her sense of commitment to action.

Sheila E. McKenna, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Now more than ever, city needs Farley-Bouvier"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/28/2016

To the editor:

For the past year, I've been fulfilling a family commitment in the Albany area. Being removed from the center of the vortex, so to speak, has given me a unique perspective on the race for state representative in Pittsfield.

It's concerning to see a candidate who is encouraging people to "listen to my great ideas" without the substance to back it up. Yet even more concerning when there are clear indications that candidate's actions do not sync with the wonderful, larger-than-life, philosophies being professed.

Recently, State Representative. Tricia Farley-Bouvier's opponent in the Democratic primary, Mike Bloomberg, has been spinning himself as "the positive candidate". Yet on Aug. 8, he fired an ugly, inaccurate attack on Rep. Farley-Bouvier's record, stating that she had an 0-25 record of legislative history in the Statehouse. This would be laughable if it weren't part of a scary pattern of destructive political strategy that we are seeing spread across the nation — say anything negative, even if it is untrue, and then smile and pretend like you are pure as the driven snow. This is a red flag that reflects on the integrity of any candidate who employs these tactics.

I won't belabor the point, but I think it's helpful to mention a few of Rep. Farley-Bouvier's accomplishments. She has been a sponsor of the following bills that are now law: the omnibus opioid bill; the Equal Pay Act; the transgender public accommodation bill, and the gas leak protection bill. She filed and successfully navigated through the House multiple bonds and funding bills that have had a direct impact on our city, bringing real dollars home to her district. She got our new city charter approved.

All of this takes a seasoned, skilled, and respected elected official who is dedicated and committed to the people of her district. The reason that Rep. Farley-Bouvier is so successful is that she has always put Pittsfield first, allocating resources to maintain a visible and accessible office here and showing up for events, meetings, and bake sales in every corner of our community to listen to her constituents. She not only has her own brilliant ideas, but she listens to our ideas, our needs, and our expectations of a state representative.

Is there more work to do? Absolutely. Now more than ever we need Rep Farley-Bouvier, who is held in high regard by her colleagues in Boston, who has put Pittsfield on the map in a positive way through her leadership role at the Democratic National Convention, to continue to represent us and get our voice heard at the Statehouse.

Judy Williamson, Castleton, N.Y.

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Letter: “Bloomberg's 'attacks' were truthful statements”
The Berkshire Eagle, 9/5/2016

To the editor:

I am writing this letter in response to Judy Williamson's recent letter in support of Rep. Farley-Bouvier.

Rep. Farley-Bouvier has certainly been a co-sponsor on many bills, but that's just signing your name onto someone else's work. The point Mike Bloomberg was making is that she has never successfully been able to get a bill that she originated to pass.

Rep. Farley-Bouvier's "accomplishments" are for the most part the fruits of other legislators' labors which she was then able to attach her name to. His "attack" was a truthful statement and completely consistent with how Mr. Bloomberg has run his campaign; backing up his opinions with firm, factual evidence. Trying to link Mr. Bloomberg's campaign with the vitriol and negativity that dominate national politics is completely disingenuous. Scrutinizing Rep. Farley-Bouvier's record is not only appropriate, but how voters should act with any incumbent candidate.

Mr. Bloomberg is a young person and many supporters of Rep. Farley-Bouvier seem to find that as a negative. I seem to remember someone else with boundless energy and big ideas who happened to be fairly young during his first election; his name was Ben Downing and he worked out pretty well for our community. In fact, with the aging population and flight of youth from the area, who better to understand what it will take to retain and bring back the young people of Pittsfield than someone who is one? With his valuable financial background and more importantly, his experience studying urban revitalization, Mr. Bloomberg finds himself well-positioned to be a leader in the effort to reinvigorate our city.

Rep. Farley-Bouvier is a wonderful person and has done her best, but she simply falls short of what our community needs. Being among the people and attending local events is important to staying in touch with constituents, but it is meaningless for an elected official if they cannot provide those constituents with the voice they need in Boston. On Thursday, I'm voting for an effective voice in Boston: Mike Bloomberg.

Joan Grossman, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Rep. Farley-Bouvier is great at her job"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/29/2016

To the editor:

I have known Tricia Farley-Bouvier for 19 years since having the good fortune of moving into a house on the street where she lived. At that time she was the most understanding, caring and tireless mom I'd ever met. I have no doubt she always will be.

When her children got older and she decided to run for Pittsfield City Council, it didn't surprise me because, again, she cares so much. I knew she was a woman with honor and seriously hard-working and that the city would be better for having her ideas, reasoning, diplomacy and energy!

She has retained these qualities in implementing her job as our state representative from the 3rd Berkshire District. Do you remember Rep. Silvio Conte, Rep. John Olver and Sen. Ted Kennedy? They were amazing at their jobs and got re-elected time and time again. Tricia Farley-Bouvier is amazing at her job and should also be re-elected. We're all lucky to have her!

Denise Billow, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Bloomberg is choice to lead in tough times"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/29/2016

To the editor:

Those of us who understand the history of Pittsfield know that we're a far cry from our heyday. We're clawing back, but we need the help of our next state representative, Mike Bloomberg.

Tricia Farley-Bouvier has generally voted the way I would on most topics. I've spoken with her many times, she's a wonderful person, and I think she would be well suited as a state rep. if the times were better. But she has taken a passive role in Boston. Others generate ideas, bring bills to a vote, and if somebody else in the state wrote something that benefits Pittsfield, Pittsfield benefits. She is treading water and we're ebbing and flowing with the tide.

No more passive voice. No more treading water. No more "quiet way." We need an active voice in Boston.

Pittsfield has an income problem and we've maxed out our property tax revenue. I bought a house two years ago (the second time I've bought a home in Pittsfield) and the property tax increased $150/month immediately after I closed. If I had sent that $150 as an extra principal payment, I'd have saved $38,000 in interest and paid off my house six years sooner —but I got a tax increase.

We don't need clever ways to add taxes to existing citizens and businesses (like the proposed mileage tax and discussions on taxing non-profits the incumbent has been supporting). Pittsfield needs to increase revenue by growing the tax base.

Mike Bloomberg has a background and education in urban economics — he's studied cities, how their economies work, how they grow and collapse. He understands how the energy costs in Massachusetts hurt us in our competition for businesses with neighboring New York state. He knows that to address crime we must address the poverty that breeds it. And he knows how to give something for our educated sons and daughters to return to after college.

He understands the national models for revitalization like Asheville, N.C., and how to bring that model here. A strong, walkable city core full of local businesses with a sense of place, a sense of Pittsfield.

We need positive language, we need new energy, we need action. We need Mike Bloomberg. On Sept. 8, I'll be voting Mike Bloomberg for state rep. I hope you will too.

Evan Hickok, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Bloomberg represents future of Pittsfield"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/29/2016

To the editor:

I grew up in Pittsfield and have lived through the good times and the bad. I have served this country, spending four years in the Navy, and I have served this city, spending 30 years as a member of the Pittsfield Fire Department.

When it comes to politics I've seen it all. (Actually, I thought I did until I saw Donald Trump.)

It's no secret that our city is hurting, but if you are like me, you have seen it before. More politicians selling the same old song and dance every year.

A few weeks ago I met a young man, Michael Bloomberg, who is running for state representative. He looked me in the eye as he shook my hand and told me that Pittsfield will never be the city it once was, but that doesn't mean we can give up. He's right.

I just turned 81, but I gladly agreed to go knock on doors with Michael in my neighborhood, and I would gladly do it again. I think it is high time we've passed responsibility to the younger generation as it is their generation who will be living and working in Pittsfield for much longer than I'll be around.

Michael's character makes it clear that he respects his elders, his veterans and his community. On Thursday, Sept. 8th, I will honor his respect with my vote, and I hope you will too.

John Amuso, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Farley-Bouvier supports youth and needed programs"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/30/2016

To the editor:

Throughout our development, we as youth, require support and encouragement to reach our goals and strive for excellence. Tricia Farley-Bouvier provides this and more.

Tricia supports youth and their futures by acknowledging the important moments in their lives and always offering the opportunity for guidance when asked for help. She uses her leadership role to not only support programs promoting positive youth development but to inspire youth firsthand to be the best that they can be. She did it for me and has done it for many others.

As I head off to my top choice college in a week, Tricia is at the top of the list of people I credit with helping me to achieve my most difficult goals thus far. She supports our community, she supports our future, and she supports us. Thank you Tricia!

Jeter A. White, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Apolitical Bloomberg is right choice for rep."
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/30/2016

To the editor:

There are 160 state representatives in Boston. We get one. I've supported our current representative, Tricia Farley-Bouvier since she was part of the WHEN group that helped Pittsfield shake the cloud of indecision of the '90s.

However, this Sept. 8, we have the right candidate, at the right time, to take the next step for Pittsfield. Mike Bloomberg has a background in finance, technology, and in building a business. He has visited and studied cities that have faced many of the same hurdles we face now. He has gone outside of the box that is Pittsfield and is bringing fresh ideas back.

There are two parts of politics, one I enjoy and one that's not my bag. I like the part of politics where people think together, pool resources and visions and make decisions that support people to try and strengthen communities. The second part of politics is the "politics" part of the process that leaves a bad taste in our mouth. It's about who you know, where you worked or what you did for someone in the past.

This summer I have heard Mike Bloomberg get into the details of redevelopment at the William Stanley Business Park and offer tangible solutions. This summer I have heard Mike stand up for the small businesses on North Street who are getting the raw end of the deal when it comes to tax rates compared to big box stores.

I've listened to Mike stand up and talk about the drugs, the crime and the blight in our neighborhoods, he didn't offer a fluff response, like more police. He dives into the root cause, poverty, and can walk you through the fundamentals of what can bring cities back.

A state representative's job is to create legislation and bring funding back from Boston so that local groups who understand local issues can make effective changes that help grow our community. This is where I draw a major distinction between the two candidates. Rep. Farley-Bouvier has exercised her political clout to support bills such as prescription eye drops legislation and a vehicle mileage tax. These are not the priorities of Pittsfield, and not a single bill she has proposed has passed in five years.

On Sept. 8, I'm voting for Mike Bloomberg because his #1 priority is economic growth, and that's what we need.

Nicholas Watroba, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Bloomberg has local roots and outside experience"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/30/2016

To the editor:

I am fortunate enough to have lived in Pittsfield many years ago and I continue to visit the city often. This year my trip coincided with the August 11 state representative debate, held at BCC, which I eagerly attended. The spirited and timely debate was well attended, the amphitheater filled to capacity.

I was impressed with the poise, energy and fresh ideas offered by candidate Michael Bloomberg. He held his own and then some against the incumbent, who has not passed a bill in her tenure in the House. Bloomberg has done his homework, speaking with local and state experts on pressing issues facing Pittsfield. Equally important, Bloomberg looked beyond the city boundaries, investigating similar struggling towns across the nation to glean lessons learned and bring them back to the area.

I was stunned that the incumbent used her closing speech as an attempt to paint Michael as a well-heeled outsider. For the record, Bloomberg graduated from Pittsfield High School and UMass and returned specifically to put his shoulder to the grindstone here, after experiencing other pursuits. Ms. Farley-Bouvier's comments were not only unkind, they were untrue and exhibited a whiff of desperation.

Though he shares a name with a well-known former mayor of New York City, it's clear that he is a distant relative without access to Bloomberg's wealth. His mother, Nancy Shulman, is a life-long resident of Pittsfield and raised Michael and his brother in a modest home.

Pittsfield can only benefit from those who are knowledgeable about the city, passionate about its future, and able to weave new ideas into the fabric of the community.

Alan Schiff, Wyncote, Pa.

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Letter: "Pittsfield has change-agent in Rep. Farley-Bouvier"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/30/2016

To the editor:

What Pittsfield does not need right now is a change in the state representative position. We will already have a new state senator replacing Ben Downing. Tricia Farley-Bouvier will provide the support and contacts to help the senator learn the ropes.

To those that suggest we need change, I say Tricia is the change-maker. She was a part of a group of women who changed the Pittsfield City Council by electing three women to a formerly all-male council and she served us very well in that role. She is the first woman state representative from Pittsfield. She has made representing families the focus of her political career before it began popular.

She is a member of important committees — Committee of Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities and the Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, where change has happened in the way we treat children in state custody, individuals with substance abuse issues, victims of sexual assault and transgender individuals. Tricia has worked hard on the Equal Pay Act and raising the minimum wage because she knows changing the wage structure supports families.

When we talk about political change we want an honest, smart, hard-working representative who does not make decisions based on electability but on sound understanding of the issues, a representative, who can listen to both sides and find a win-win solution and a representative who is respected by her peers.

In re-electing Tricia Farley-Bouvier on Sept. 8 we will have a representative who has proven she can make change happen and be an honest and respected elected official. As Rep. Benjamin Swan (D-Springfield), a 22-year veteran of the House said in a recent trip to Pittsfield "Why would you change when you have one of the best representatives in the House?"

Marjorie Cohan, Pittsfield

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State Representative incumbent Tricia Farley-Bouvier listens to her opponent Michael E. Bloomberg during a State Representative debate at Berkshire Community College on Monday, August 29, 2016. Gillian Jones — The Berkshire Eagle | photos.berkshireeagle.com

“Beacon Hill hopefuls trade barbs at Berkshire Community College debate ahead of Democratic primary”
By Dick Lindsay, The Berkshire Eagle, 8/29/2016

PITTSFIELD — Michael Bloomberg finds Tricia Farley-Bouvier ineffective on Beacon Hill, while the incumbent state representative feels her challenger might be better suited for a seat on the Pittsfield City Council, not in the state Legislature.

The two Democratic hopefuls in next week's primary exchanged several barbs Monday night over who would best serve the 3rd Berkshire District — nearly all of Pittsfield — for the next two years.

The candidates vying to face an independent candidate, and current Ward 4 Pittsfield Councilor Christopher Connell in the Nov. 8 general election squared off in the first of two political debates on the Berkshire Community College campus.

Bloomberg took Farley-Bouvier to task on her inability to get a single bill passed she spearheaded.

"Many bills have co-sponsors, but the lead sponsor writes the bills; as lead sponsor none of your bills passed," he said.

Farley-Bouvier fired back to explain it's all about collaboration in the Statehouse, not who has the best batting average.

"He's used this 0 for 25 over and over, he doesn't understand the process," she said. "I have been part of a team to get legislation passed."

The five-year veteran state representative cited her 30 years of experience in the public and private sector helping the city grow such as being a Pittsfield city councilor and director of administration for former Mayor James Ruberto.

Farley-Bouvier is glad her opponent has returned and wants to improve his hometown, but he should start at the local level, such as running for a ward council seat.

"State representative is not an entry level position," she noted.

Bloomberg countered with his financial experience gained working in New York City and elsewhere in the country as the kind of resume Pittsfield needs for its next state representative.

The Pittsfield native says he understands the issues.

"This city hasn't seen private economic growth in 30 years," he said.

Both candidates agree Massachusetts has a revenue problem, not a spending problem, but Bloomberg says new taxes won't solve that problem.

"How can we spend state tax dollars to create economic growth," he said.

Farley-Bouvier deemed the current state budget a responsible one that could see improvement on the revenue side.

"We had a rough spring with revenue down, but things have started to look up," she said.

The pair of Democrats differed on the Massachusetts Turnpike switching to a E-Z Pass system only for motorist paying the tolls on the 125-mile stretch of Interstate 90.

Bloomberg worries about the jobs lost as the state invests very little money in job retraining. Farley-Bouvier says the elimination of toll booths in favor of overhead transponder readers will reduce highway congestion and be a time-saver for motorists.

On a crucial local issue, Bloomberg stands by his earlier statement denouncing the latest Wal Mart Supercenter plan for the William Stanley Business Park claiming it won't help revitalize the Tyler Street area.

Farley-Bouvier refused to pass judgement on the project until it is formally presented to city officials and properly aired out in public meetings.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233. rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com @BE_DLindsay on Twitter.

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Letter: "New ideas, new energy needed in Statehouse"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/31/2016

To the editor:

Mike Bloomberg is the right choice to be state representative for Pittsfield.

At a time when the rhetoric nationally has poisoned the world of elections, Mr. Bloomberg has conducted his campaign responsibly and respectfully.

Whenever he has criticized his opponent, Rep. Farley-Bouvier, he has done so by citing her record and using facts that can easily be verified. It is not a simple task to conduct a campaign that can be critical of an opponent while remaining civil, and Mr. Bloomberg should be applauded for doing so. He points out areas in which Rep. Farley-Bouvier has fallen short, such as her inability to get any of the more than 20 bills that she was the lead sponsor on, passed; while at the same time acknowledging how clearly she cares for our community.

I urge the residents of Pittsfield to visit the websites of both candidates and compare them. Rep. Farley-Bouvier lists bills she has co-sponsored, which is simply adding her name to a bill that was written by someone else. She lists endorsements, and she lists her voting record, which contains no bills that she actually wrote. Rep. Farley-Bouvier's website lacks a section expressing new ideas; there is nowhere on her website that she speaks about plans for the future.

Mr. Bloomberg's website is full of ideas, it offers solutions, and it has the facts to back them up.

Rep. Farley-Bouvier is a good person, but being a good person doesn't mean you will be a good rep. Just look around the city, or look at the data, either way you can see that we clearly need change.

We need new energy and new ideas, we need Michael Bloomberg in the Statehouse.

Scott Steinman, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Farley-Bouvier is a positive force as state representative"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/31/2016

To the editor:

I'm adding my support for Tricia Farley-Bouvier, state representative from the 3rd Berkshire District, in the Sept. 8 primary.

I trust her work ethic, values and ability to get things done and see no reason why she shouldn't be returned to the position she holds. Tricia is a positive force as our state representative.

Elaine J. LaPierre, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Farley-Bouvier went above and beyond in wake of Orlando"
The Berkshire Eagle, 8/31/2016

To the editor:

A few hours after the shocking massacre of 49 human beings in Orlando, I sent an email out to a group of people, searching for others who felt called to do something in response to this terrible tragedy. The first person to respond that Sunday morning was our state representative, Tricia Farley-Bouvier.

Together we and a small group of other community members, in particular Ed Sedarbaum of Berkshire Rainbow Seniors, organized a public vigil to express our profound grief and our fierce resolve to work together to prevent future mass shootings from happening and to end homophobia.

Tricia went above and beyond in those 48 hours when we put the vigil together. Always responsive, she helped ensure we had the necessary permits in hand to gather in Park Square and then spoke directly and powerfully at the vigil itself.

That's what it means to be a leader. That's what it means to be a responsive and committed member of this community. That's what it means to be an outspoken advocate for positive change.

I'm proud to be voting to re-elect state Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier on Thursday, Sept. 8, and I invite you to join me.

Megan Whilden, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Farley-Bouvier is a proven state representative"
The Berkshire Eagle, 9/1/2016

To the editor:

"The only source of knowledge is experience." This quote by Albert Einstein is a reflection of State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier.

She is a strong, independent woman who understands family values and the value of the community. She should be re-elected as state representative because she is active in the community, but most importantly she shows compassion and love for what she does.

Since becoming state representative in 2011 she has successfully been the representative for our families, for education, and on many other more issues that we face today.

Jack A. Quattrochi, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Farley-Bouvier on team that has boosted Pittsfield"
The Berkshire Eagle, 9/1/2016

To the editor:

Before Tricia Farley-Bouvier first served as an at-large councilor on the City Council, there was little or no growth in downtown Pittsfield. Our downtown wasn't a destination. Since then, Pittsfield has been experiencing a revitalization that would be the envy of any small city. We now have the Colonial Theatre, the Beacon Cinema, Barrington Stage Company, a downtown farmers market, and a new high school under construction.

The process of bringing each of these projects to Pittsfield required long hours and years-long collaboration. In each case, Tricia was a part of the leadership team that navigated the many obstacles that could have sidelined any one of these projects.

When it comes to state representative, we need someone who has demonstrated the ability to work with others to get the job done. We need someone who is here and has been here for the long haul and has invested time helping our community.

We need Tricia. Please join me in voting for Tricia Farley-Bouvier on Thursday, Sept. 8.

Kevin Winslow, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Bloomberg will bring youth, leadership"
The Berkshire Eagle, 9/1/2016

To the editor:

I grew up in Pittsfield and now, 55 years later, I am back. It troubles me greatly to see how much economic decline the city has suffered since I left. The loss of GE in the 1980s was critical, but many years later, Pittsfield continues to struggle.

I have followed the primary race for state representative closely, as it is clear to me that the flight of youth for better opportunity elsewhere and poverty are critical issues here in the heart of the Berkshires.

Collaboration in state government is important but even more important to the fate of Western Massachusetts is leadership. Mike Bloomberg has returned to Pittsfield to try to make a difference. He did not wait 55 years, but instead returned just a few years after he graduated from UMass and gained experience in business, technology, and urban economics before his return. He studied cities that have transformed their economies like Saratoga Springs and Lowell. He came back, prepared not just to follow, but to lead.

Pittsfield needs the energy of youth, fresh ideas and the commitment of a born leader. Yes, he is young, but how soon we forget that one of our most effective legislators, Ben Downing, was just 24 years old when he first ran. Mike will collaborate when the opportunity arises, as all legislators do, but he is prepared to lead by introducing legislation that will bring needed resources to Pittsfield.

Pittsfield needs this kind of leadership. Mike's opponent has served 2 1/2 terms and has failed to sponsor a single bill that has passed, and has yet to hold a committee chair or vice-chairmanship. I urge you to watch the Aug. 29 debate between the candidates on PCTV, or on the internet, as there is a clear difference in priorities for our city.

Mike has my vote on primary day, Thursday, Sept. 8. I hope he will have yours.

Virginia E. O'Leary, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Buying into Bloomberg's enthusiasm for city"
The Berkshire Eagle, 9/1/2016

To the editor:

I grew up admiring people like Mike Bloomberg. I never understood their enthusiasm, or their drive to make a difference, but I admired that they did have it. I used to think that I grew up in a different Pittsfield than people like Mike. I used to think that they were born on the right side of town, or with the right parents, and that was why they were able to be optimistic about this city.

I didn't grow up optimistic about this city at all. I grew up in the Wilson projects, where over half of the kids were from single parent homes like mine. I grew up watching drug deals go on in my back yard, and guys get taken to jail for beating up their girlfriends. I always wondered why no one ever did anything about it. Where were all the "grown ups?" Finally, I just gave up too, and resigned myself to what I thought was the inevitable decline of this city.

My attitude started to change a few years back when I met my wife. We have since had two amazing children, and today I am working to open my own business which provides healthy meals to the people of Pittsfield. My renewed desire, to see a city that I want to raise my son and daughter in, is how I came to meet Mike Bloomberg.

We met in June as a group of us took a walk down Tyler Street. Where I stood and saw empty buildings, Mike saw shops and restaurants. I watched, listened, and questioned him, as he explained the rise and fall of not only our city, but cities around the country, and what we can do to come back. He walked me through tax policies that hold back real estate development and introduced me to people who can help me with my business.

Mike's enthusiasm for Pittsfield is contagious. He has changed the way I look at our home, our problems, and all our potential. He has made me see Pittsfield as a place where I want to raise my family. I hope you will join me in voting for him for state representative in the Democratic primary on Sept. 8.

Zachary Durso, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Farley-Bouvier a leader on local, state issues"
The Berkshire Eagle, 9/2/2016

To the editor:

We would like to join with many others in our community in voicing our support for re-electing Tricia Farley-Bouvier as our state representative.

For us, she exemplifies what is best in the label "Democratic." She displays the values and the activism that make the Democratic Party, at its best, representative of the interests of the majority of our citizens. She understands, as does Sen. Elizabeth Warren said this past Saturday at Berkshire Community College, that the progressive agenda is, above all, an American agenda. And she takes seriously Sen. Warren's dictum, "you can't win what you don't fight for."

Tricia is not just someone who votes the right way. Her record in the House reflects her commitment to fighting and winning for us legislation that will level the playing field and make the commonwealth a better place in which to live, even when it means she has to buck the leadership to do so. As chair of the House Progressive Caucus, she has worked with her colleagues to champion the causes that she ardently believes in, raising the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, preserving our Article 97 conservation land from corporate overreaching and protecting us from dangerous gas leaks. Equally important is what Tricia and her caucus has saved us from: permission in energy bills for utilities to tack on a tariff to consumers to pay for pipelines that would not benefit them.

Tricia's election to the co-chairmanship of the Progressive Caucus is indicative of the respect she has earned among her colleagues. She has also become a respected voice within the state Democratic Party, not least of all because she goes to bat for progressive legislators in other districts to preserve their seats from Republican challengers. As a result, Tricia was appointed deputy whip at the Democratic national convention in Philadelphia this past July.

What's also remarkable about Tricia is that she does not wear blinders. She speaks out forcefully and knowledgeably on momentous national issues as well as local ones. So when the Pittsfield City Council was considering a resolution calling for the overturning of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, she spoke to the Council about the importance of adding its voice to the movement to reinstitute limits on campaign financing. Her advocacy helped move the needle and in the end the council voted overwhelmingly for the resolution.

She exemplifies the mature leadership we need to deal with the economic, educational and energy challenges Pittsfield and the Berkshires face in the coming years. We urge you to vote on Thursday, Sept. 8 to return Tricia Farley-Bouvier to the Massachusetts House.

Louise and Frank Farkas, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Bloomberg offers a positive vision for Pittsfield"
The Berkshire Eagle, 9/2/2016

To the editor:

I grew up in Pittsfield and have lived here all my life. I'm a proud graduate of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and love every day I get to spend in the Berkshires, whether it's at work, or on the golf course.

I'm writing this letter in support of Mike Bloomberg for state representative because he represents a vision for Pittsfield that I want to see.

We've grown increasingly tired as a community. Less people are working and less people are really living. While the resurgence of the arts community has made for some great shows, there is still much to be desired in the way of community engagement.

Parks that were once full every day of the week, are now largely empty, as the youth turn to video games, and adults so often to drugs and alcohol for entertainment. We've been watching this for years, seemingly helpless and just trying to deal with the consequences of the change.

I support Mike Bloomberg because his vision for the city brings the community back together, not in the boardrooms for another "task-force," but in the parks and coffee shops, in the neighborhoods and in the community centers. He is focused on what we need right here in Pittsfield, not distracted by special interest groups in Boston.

We've got a long way to go as a city, but that doesn't mean we can just give up. Mike Bloomberg has the energy and the vision to be our voice in Boston. I'm voting for him on Sept. 8 in the Democratic primary and I hope you will too.

Shane Ortega, Pittsfield

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“Campaigns spar over finance reports”
Money related to charter schools, climate change spark criticism
By Jim Therrien, The Berkshire Eagle, 9/2/2016

PITTSFIELD - Both legislative races in Berkshire County are producing campaign finance-related disputes as the House and Senate contests move closer to the Sept. 8 primary election.

State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield and Michael Bloomberg, her Democratic challenger for the 3rd District House seat, traded barbs Friday over what the incumbent said in a press release was the introduction of "dark money" contributions in support of her opponent.

Farley-Bouvier said in her statement: "On Aug. 30, the organization Democrats for Education Reform, an organization tied to hedge fund executives in favor of lifting the charter school cap, reported spending $3,830 in support of Mr. Bloomberg's campaign."

She noted that Bloomberg has said he opposes the Nov. 8 ballot question aimed at lifting the cap on new charter schools and the number of student placements, saying, "Mr. Bloomberg has repeatedly told the people of Pittsfield that he is against lifting the cap on charter schools; meanwhile, he has taken substantial support from a group whose main mission is to lift the Charter cap. This group invested serious dollars into getting Question 2 on the ballot, they are pouring millions into marketing to get it passed and they are now interfering in local elections."

Bloomberg responded in an email to The Eagle, "I am against lifting the charter cap. I see this is becoming an issue because one of the pro-lifting groups has decided to support me in the race. I believe (have not confirmed) it is just because they see me as more in favor of overall [education] reform than [Farley-Bouvier]."

He said in a subsequent interview that it is important to note that the group did not directly contributed to his campaign, but decided to support him in the race through its own mailing. He added that when he filled out a questionnaire sent by the group on his positions on education, he stated, "I do not support a lifting of the charter cap given the current funding model for education ... I do support working to bring charter-like benefits to the local school districts through Innovation and Horace Mann schools and through cooperation of currently existing Commonwealth charters."

Farley-Bouvier, who has spoken against raising the charter cap, said she refused to participate in the group's questionnaire process.

Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247. jtherrien@berkshireeagle.com @BE_therrien on Twitter.

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“Incumbent Rep. Farley-Bouviver, newcomer Bloomberg ready for Sept. 8 Democratic primary faceoff”
By Jim Therrien, The Berkshire Eagle, 9/4/2016

PITTSFIELD - The Democratic Primary in the 3rd District House race in Pittsfield pits incumbent state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier against Michael Bloomberg of Holmes Road.

The winner in Thursday's voting will face independent candidate and City Councilor Christopher Connell.

In the Democratic race, the candidates have clashed over how effective Farley-Bouvier has been in five years in office in passing legislation to benefit the district and in securing state funding for Pittsfield.

She has pointed to their comparative resumes, noting the many jobs and positions she has held and the "gaps" in the 26-year-old Bloomberg's resume since college.

He has called for a fresh approach on the issues and renewed energy in dealing with the Legislature, which she contends her "team approach" has greatly benefitted the city during her terms.



MICHAEL BLOOMBERG

Michael Bloomberg knows he faces a tough challenge in trying to defeat incumbent Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier.

But the 26-year-old city resident said he senses momentum building behind his candidacy and he believes he is better addressing the issue voters are most interested in — economic development.

"My priorities are the No. 1 difference," he said during an interview. "I am not big on sweeping progressive issues," which he said has been a principal focus of the incumbent.

Citing such issues as GMO labeling and a bill to allow residents to obtain licenses regardless of their immigration status, Bloomberg said he would likely vote for those proposals but believes reps. from wealthier districts can and should provide leadership on those issues, while the important issues in Pittsfield revolve around jobs and economic development.

Bloomberg, who has worked for investment firms in New York and has an educational background in economics and technology, said he could have an immediate impact on local development by "bringing attention to Pittsfield" among innovative business people from outside the area.

He said he would ask to be appointed to legislative committees like the Joint Committee on Revenue, the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, the House Committee on Technology and Intergovernmental Affairs, or similar committees where he believes his familiarity with finances and technology would benefit the district.

The candidate also notes that Farley-Bouvier is active in the Legislature's Progressive Caucus, saying he would focus on the much larger Gateway Cities Caucus, which represents small- to medium-size cities in the state that, like Pittsfield, face economic development challenges. That group of representatives could be an effective lobbying force for additional state funding and resources for those cities, he said, adding that he would seek a leadership role in the caucus.

Bloomberg said one of his principal reasons for running for the House is to help the city as it approaches its Proposition 2 1/2 levy ceiling, after which override votes would be required to raise local tax revenue. Sluggish growth and overall declining real estate values here since the recession of 2008-09 have been cited as the reason the city's tax levy total has risen close to the override ceiling level.

On specific issues, Bloomberg said he would push for more workforce development funding, noting that Massachusetts spends on worker training at a level well below the average in other states. That's one reason, he said, that hundreds of open jobs typically go unfilled in the Berkshire region.

Bloomberg also said that, while Farley-Bouvier "is well liked around Pittsfield," she "hasn't passed a bill" she proposed in five years as a lawmaker, and did not obtain budget amendment funding for local projects until this year. He said the other three House reps in Berkshire county have obtained more than her total "in this year alone."

He said some local officials have told him that when they hoping for state funding and looking for "who to lean on, it hasn't been Trish."

Unlike Farley-Bouvier, Bloomberg also has taken a strong stand against the proposed Walmart Supercenter for a William Stanley Business Park site, saying a retail project there instead of industrial development "is the antithesis of smart development."

The other key to development, he said, is in finding ways to work in collaboration with businesses. "Incentivizing the private sector is what really works," he said.

After college, Bloomberg worked in New York City with a startup hedge fund and also with a large financial institution with the firm's technology and recruiting teams.

He is a 2008 graduate of Pittsfield High School and 2012 graduate of the University of Massachusetts.

For information: bloombergforpittsfield.com



TRICIA FARLEY-BOUVIER

The incumbent said she is getting mostly positive feedback while going door-to-door in Pittsfield's 3rd House district. But one issue which generates some negative comments, she said, is the new Taconic High School project, for which the city will borrow about $44 million.

"But I stand very firm on the school," she said. "It is the key to economic development." She adds that, after the City Council unanimously approved borrowing for the new school — which also will receive $76 million in state funding — "people could have taken it to a ballot vote, started a petition. The option was out there, but there was no movement to do it."

Farley-Bouvier said she believes most voters understand the vocational component of the new high school will be one of the driving forces behind future economic development in the city, which most believe is dependent upon advanced manufacturing and similar businesses and the necessary work force training.

In responding to criticism from her opponent that she has been unable to pass any bills she originated and that she has brought home fewer budget amendment items for smaller projects than the other Berkshire lawmakers, Farley-Bouvier said Bloomberg doesn't really understand the legislative process because "being a legislator means being part of a team; that's how it works ... There isn't a piece of legislation that passes because of one person."

She added, "If look at bills I have [co-sponsored] and worked very hard on, such as gas leaks, pay equity, public accommodations for transgender people — those bills that I put a lot of time and energy on have become law."

As co-chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus in the Legislature, Farley-Bouvier said that group "had a primary role in all those bills." In addition, she said, the caucus has learned to work well with House Speaker Robert DeLeo toward getting the most progressive measures possible through the House and signed into law.

"Budget amendments are a very small part funding," she said, although she noted the $75,000 she put in this year for the George B. Crane Memorial Center in Pittsfield.

But the major funding to a municipality, she said, includes big ticket items like the $76 million in school construction, which she worked on for many years along with city officials and other local lawmakers; $1 million in a state environmental bond for an turf athletic field planned for the Berkshire Community College campus; and the last two phases of state funding for The Common and downtown Streetscape work.

"That happened because of good relationship with [former] Gov. Deval Patrick" and work by her and many other officials in Pittsfield and in the region, she said.

State funding for the Tyler Street Transformative Development Initiative is another project she worked hard to bring about, Farley-Bouvier said. "TDI is a really big deal," she said, "and again it was teamwork."

She said lawmakers in the Gateway Cities Caucus pushed to create the enabling legislation and got the Pittsfield project and others funded. She said she is "a very, very active member of the Gateway Cities Caucus. I have gotten to know most of the members; we work together, and some of them are my closest colleagues."

On the Walmart Supercenter plan for the William Stanley Business Park, Farley-Bouvier said Bloomberg's quick opposition reflected "a difference of approach" from her own.

"Within an hour he came in and said this is a terrible idea," she said. "My approach is that the first job of a legislator is to listen."

She added that she reserved comment before talking to city officials, small business people and residents. "When I go door to door, by far more people want this," she said, "and this also is not a Legislature decision; it will be the city's choice."

Her job resume compared to her opponent's is something else Farley-Bouvier said she wants voters to consider.

That includes teaching special education students in Central America with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, which is similar to the Peace Corps; working with the city's Adult Learning Center; serving as a city councilor for four years, followed by a stint as director of administration in former Mayor James M. Ruberto's office, and then first winning election to the House seat in 2011 in a mid-term election.

For information: triciafarleybouvier.com

jtherrien@berkshireeagle.com @BE_therrien on Twitter.

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Incumbent State Representative candidate Tricia Farley-Bouvier introduces herself at an event for candidates for the State Senate and State Representative offices to gather and introduce themselves and meet members of the LGBTQ and senior communities on Saturday. (Stephanie Zollshan photos — The Berkshire Eagle | photos.berkshireeagle.com)

“Beacon Hill candidates stake out turf on health care, business and other issues at LGBTQ, seniors forum”
Where do they stand?: Candidates discuss equality, health care, business and more
By Derek Gentile, The Berkshire Eagle, 9/4/2016

PITTSFIELD - The seven local candidates for contested public office in Berkshire County tried to carve out their own respective positions on the progressive platform in a candidates' forum at the Berkshire Athenaeum on Saturday afternoon.

A total of 52 people attended the event in the library's auditorium.

The event was co-sponsored by the Rainbow Seniors of Berkshire County and the Age-Friendly Berkshire Task Force. The event was open to the public, although it was populated, for the most part, by older residents, most of whom were from Pittsfield.

Rainbow Seniors organizer Edward Sederbaum, who co-moderated the event with Age Friendly organizer Bobbi Orsi, explained that he and Orsi wanted to get some sense of where all the candidates stood on senior issues and issues concerning to the LGBTQ community.

All seven candidates attended the event. This included state Senate candidates Andrea Harrington, Adam Hinds and Rinaldo del Gallo, all Democrats, and Republican candidate Christine Canning.

In addition, the three candidates for the state representative race attended, including incumbent Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier and fellow Democrat Michael Bloomberg and Independent candidate Chris Connell.

For Democrats Harrington, Hinds, Del Gallo, Farley-Bouvier and Bloomberg, the Democratic primary is Sept. 8. The winners there will meet Canning and Connell in the general election Nov. 8.

Not every candidate answered every question. But all seven candidates, in different ways, indicated their support for LGBTQ causes.

Canning, the lone candidate representing the GOP on the panel, described herself as a "progressive Republican" when it came to most issues, including those directly affecting the LGBTQ community, adding that she was "tired of labels" and that the needs of the LGBTQ community were as valid as any.

"The first thing you learn as a legislator is to listen," said Farley-Bouvier, who admitted that before she was elected, she did not know many members of the LGBTQ community. She suggested that medical professionals in particular needed training in dealing with that strata of individuals.

Hinds said he believed the LGBTQ community is statistically more vulnerable as it ages than other senior citizens, in part because they tend not to have children as caregivers.

Harrington said she would like to see more education about LGBTQ issues in school, particularly younger children.

Bloomberg suggested that improved health care for seniors and the LGBTQ community was a "basic right."

Regarding spiraling drug costs, all seven hopefuls were in favor of some way to cap costs. Connell suggested improved transparency in how drug companies set prices would be a way to keep the costs reasonable.

"It's very simple," said Del Gallo. "Single-payer health care system. That's it. Single-payer system."

It was a sentiment to which Bloomberg agreed.

Farley-Bouvier said she believes the way drug companies set costs "is a crime, and should be treated as a crime."

Harrington suggested that "taking Big Money out of politics" would solve this and many other issues.

In a more general discussion, six of the seven candidates were not wild about the new planned Super Walmart at the Stanley Business Park.

Connell, who is also a member of the Pittsfield City Council, said he had not made up his mind yet. A survey he took of the seven businesses that would potentially surround the Walmart saw six owners in favor of the store, he said.

"This is not what will bring people to Pittsfield," said Bloomberg.

Del Gallo took it a step further.

"I think it would be the end of the Stanley Business Park," he said.

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251. dgentile@berkshireeagle.com @DerekGentile on Twitter.


Rainbow Seniors Executive Director Ed Cedarbaum introduces the candidates for the state Senate and state Representative offices at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield on Saturday.

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Our Opinion: “Farley-Bouvier earns primary endorsement”
The Berkshire Eagle, Editorial, 9/4/2016

Races for state representative in Berkshire districts or portions of them don't happen that often, and the race for the Democratic nomination from the 3rd Berkshire District has been a good one for the county.

The contest between incumbent Tricia Farley-Bouvier and challenger Michael Bloomberg has been a lively one. Issues confronting the district, which is essentially Pittsfield, have been brought to the foreground. The winner will meet independent candidate Chris Connell in November.

Mr. Bloomberg argues that Ms. Farley-Bouvier has been too passive and failed the city by not getting bills passed into law, but the Legislature is a collaborative body and Ms. Farley-Bouvier is a proven team player. There is no disputing her role in getting funding for important city projects like the new Taconic High School, the turf field for BCC and the last two phases of streetscape.

Her work on the Gateway Cities caucus helped Pittsfield become one of the 10 cities, out of 26, to receive a Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) grant, in this case, targeted for Tyler Street. Her fingerprints are on legislation increasing the minimum wage and assuring equal pay for women, among others. She is strong on constituent services in Pittsfield and has been a leader on working for diversity within the city. Her background as an educator, city councilor and director of administration in the mayor's office prepared her well to become a state representative.

Mr. Bloomberg has run an aggressive campaign based on his background in finance and technology, which he maintains will prepare him to explore ways of boosting the local economy. Pittsfield needs young people like him involved in city politics and his work outside the city, along with his insights into urban economics, enabled him to bring a fresh perspective to the race.

Mr. Bloomberg, however, hasn't made the case for turning out a proven incumbent. Should he not win the primary, he will ideally remain in his native city and get involved with groups that could use his enthusiasm and provide him with experience in city affairs.

Ms. Farley-Bouvier has that experience, and it shows in the team approach she encourages in addressing Pittsfield issues and in advocating for the city and for progressive statewide causes in Boston. The Eagle endorses Ms. Farley-Bouvier in the Democratic primary on September 8.

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Tricia Farley-Bouvier: “A shared progressive agenda”
By Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 9/2/2016

PITTSFIELD - Sen. Elizabeth Warren recently came to Pittsfield to deliver her "American Agenda" presentation to an overflow crowd at our own Berkshire Community College. The message she conveyed is that changes in public policy in the last three decades have led to growing income inequality and that big money is having far too much influence on policies that benefit only the top earners, at a great cost to the rest of us. Sen. Warren calls for all of us to get involved to change that trajectory.

I was pleased to see that some of the policies she calls for to level the playing field are ones Massachusetts is already enacting. The Massachusetts Legislature, led by the Progressive Caucus, has passed a strong minimum wage law, raising it from $8/hour to $11/hour over three years. Earned Paid Sick time is also the law in Massachusetts and we will continue to fight for paid family leave.

This year, we passed the Equal Pay Act, a historic law that not only calls for equal pay for equal work, but includes specific provisions to address the gender pay gap. Making it illegal to ask for salary history in pay negotiations or to fire workers for discussing their pay will help solve the unacceptable fact that women in Massachusetts are still making 79 cents to the dollar compared to what a man makes for the same work. This legislation is serving as a model across the nation.

Sen. Warren is a strong voice for getting big money out of politics. The fact that we have gone from $200 million being spent by lobbyists in 2002 to a staggering $3.3 billion today demonstrates how effective it is for corporations to invest in trying to buy Congress.

A recent example is that of the company Mylan, which cornered the market on the EpiPen, while intensely lobbying for all schools to stock them (at taxpayers' expense). The company then jacked up the price by 600 percent, while corporate executive salaries rose 400 percent simultaneously.

The obvious solution to this problem is overturning the horrendous Citizens United Supreme Court decision that allows unlimited, unreported money in politics. Our Legislature has taken steps to stem the tide in Massachusetts through strong disclosure laws and strict contribution limits.

EARLY EDUCATION KEY

The senator also presented data that shows that families are struggling daily with significant increases in transportation, health care, college costs and especially a staggering 935 percent increase in the cost of child care. Addressing the access and affordability of early education is a critical, but often overlooked, issue in economic development.

It has been proven that access to quality early education is the best way to ensure that children are reading properly by third grade, which in turn is a great predictor of future school success. We have had excellent work done locally through the Berkshire United Way's Pittsfield Promise Campaign, bringing together many stakeholders to promote early education and school partnerships. I have taken this fight to the Statehouse, where I championed funding for expanded access to early education so that more children have opportunity.

We also learned that a staggering 30 percent turnover rate in the field of early education is the result of unacceptable poverty level wages. Over the years we have called for raising the educational and professional standards for these teachers, but increases in earnings have not kept pace. It would be impossible for many families to cover any more of the cost. Unless and until state government plays a more active role in paying for this essential service, this problem will continue.

It's estimated that we have over 500 jobs in early education here in Pittsfield. Did you know that many of these teachers earn just over minimum wage and often qualify for food stamps? This needs to change. I look forward to returning to the Legislature to continue the fight for Universal Pre-K, particularly in Gateway Cities.

Protecting workers, investing in early education, and getting big money out of politics. These are critical policies to protect working families, and I ask for your vote on Thursday, Sept. 8 so that I can continue effectively representing the people of Pittsfield in this critical work.

Tricia Farley-Bouvier is the Democratic state representative in the 3rd Berkshire District.

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Mike Bloomberg: “A path forward for Pittsfield”
By Mike Bloomberg, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 9/2/2016

PITTSFIELD - As I walk through the neighborhoods of our city, the one message I hear more than anything — more than the need for jobs, more than rising crime — is that voters are fed-up with politics. They are fed-up with empty promises and the reality show-like nature in which candidates are portrayed and operate, fed-up with catchphrases and buzzwords like "progressive" and "collaboration."

Pittsfield, I want you to know that I hear you loud and clear. That is why I want to use this final op-ed to cut through the noise and plainly state what I will do as your state representative. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out anytime at 413-212-9386.

Fifty years ago, the city of Pittsfield was home to almost 60,000 people with a median family income about 10 percent above the state average. This prosperity was built on top of one company, a dependency that would eventually hurt us. Today we have a population of 42,000, with a median family income more than 37 percent below the state average.

When we add together the costs of maintaining our infrastructure, providing a 21st century education to our children, and paying our municipal employees, we get our city budget. While that number goes up every year, the basis for how we pay for it, property values and income, does not. Instead, over the past 10 years, we have seen a 41 percent increase in our single-family tax bills, and for seniors, a 0% increase in their Social Security benefits.

As a city, we have now reached an unfortunate point known as the "levy ceiling": under Massachusetts state law, we can no longer increase our property taxes to pay for these critical services unless we see growth in our property values and growth in our local economy.

STUDIED OTHER CITIES

In my time working in finance in New York City, I had a front-row seat to how the private sector analyzes economic trends to make smart investing decisions. In the past two years, as I have gone around the country to study cities like Detroit, Cleveland, and Baltimore, I have seen what struggling communities are doing at the grassroots level to solve many of the same problems we have in Pittsfield.

We need leadership on Beacon Hill. The rubber always hits the road at the municipal level, but state laws, state organizations, and state funding play an integral role in transforming a community. My number one approach as your state representative will be to examine what has worked elsewhere and help make it happen here in Pittsfield.

Investing in the urban core pays big dividends. This is much more than just tearing up and replacing roads, and it goes beyond North Street. What we see from analyzing tax receipt data is that downtown buildings often return between three times and 10 times the value per square foot than large suburban shopping centers like the Allendale Plaza or Walmart. We can continue to support this growth by raising the cap on the state's HDIP funding, which provides tax credits to developers who build market rate housing in the urban core. The more people downtown, the more business becomes sustainable.

I will be focused on boosting access to education and job training. As a state, we only spend one percent of our federal welfare funding on job training, which is eight times less than the national average. Such funds can and must be redirected into programs that actually provide a pathway out of poverty.

The best institution for managing those programs is Berkshire Community College. I will work to speed the growth of BCC's downtown campus at the Silvio Conte Federal Building on Columbus Avenue, because bringing classes and job training closer to downtown increases the accessibility of education to our community and trains our workforce for the 21st century.

We need to aggressively pursue repairing our property tax system. A child's education should not be determined by their street address and a business looking to grow must not be faced with a $25,000 tax bill before they even open their doors.

We can be a 21st century sustainable city, but we cannot wait for change to happen, we have to make it happen. On Sept. 8, I hope to have your vote.

Mike Bloomberg is a Democratic candidate for state representative from the 3rd Berkshire District.

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Letter: “Dedicated to education and to community”
The Berkshire Eagle, 9/6/2016

To the editor:

We are happy to lend our voices to the list of supporters encouraging people to get out and vote for state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier in the primary election Thursday.

The Marilyn Hamilton Sports and Literacy Program is a vital summer support program for children on the west side of Pittsfield that engages youth in a fun, safe, structured, experience that maintains and enhances their literary skills while giving them an outlet for their boundless energy, exposing them to all kinds of wonderful community opportunities. As directors of this important community resource, we have worked closely with Tricia for many years as a valued education mentor for our program. She is truly dedicated to promoting literacy.

Tricia didn't just show up for photo opportunities and award ceremonies. She frequently showed up to listen to our children read, noting and celebrating our children's progress, and made connections with families and the entire West Side community. Her presence had a real impact on our children's lives.

She also linked us to other community resources to support our program's success in so many ways. We have a beautiful relationship with Superintendent Jake McCandless thanks to Tricia's facilitation. She finds ways to make win-win situations at every level of community and government to benefit all the citizens in her community.

Through state Rep. Farley-Bouvier, we are truly all being represented. This is why it is so important to return her to this office. Please vote on Thursday.

Manfred Slaughter, Vannessa Slaughter, Pittsfield

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Letter: “Bloomberg will focus on Pittsfield's real needs”
The Berkshire Eagle, 9/6/2016

To the editor:

I grew up in Pittsfield, work two jobs, pay my taxes, and am currently saving up to buy a home. I'm constantly out and about in the community and because of that, I've seen Rep. Farley-Bouvier many times. She would show up, listen to people for a bit, pose for a few pictures, and I never thought much of it. Honestly, I barely knew anything about what a state representative does.

As I've gotten older and begun paying more and more taxes, I've finally started paying attention. I've tried to do my homework, learning as much as I could about all of the issues. While I've educated myself, I realized that a lot more of what happens in Boston affects me than I thought.

Our state representative is supposed to make laws on our behalf, and get funding on our behalf (after all, it's our tax dollars anyway). I get that money is hard to come by in Boston. I get that laws take time to pass too. But what I don't get is why our representative isn't focusing on the biggest needs of Pittsfield?

Prescription eye drops, vehicle miles tax, GMO labeling? These bills help some people, but in a city that is losing jobs left and right, and where I see my tax bill double, those just aren't our priorities. Not every bill needs to help me, but these bills don't help the people who work hard every day just to scrape by. They don't help the seniors who see their taxes go up, but not their Social Security. They don't help our kids, our teachers, our police, or our firefighters. It's just fine that our representative wants to fight for some unique issues, but if you want to do that, how about we make sure we have a city that's in good shape first? Pittsfield isn't; we're broke and we need leadership.

I'm supporting Mike Bloomberg on Thursday because he's focused on fixing the basics. I can understand if my representative struggles to gain traction in Boston, but at least struggle for what we need to help this community.

Jacob Rand, Pittsfield

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Letter: “A successful history of working for city”
The Berkshire Eagle, 9/6/2016

To the editor:

I first met Tricia Farley-Bouvier some 14 years ago. We were both running for four at-large-seats on the Pittsfield City Council. Tricia surprised me with her knowledge of Pittsfield and its people. (She also surprised me when she received more votes than I did.)

I became the City Council president and appointed Tricia as chair of the Public Building Subcommittee of the City Council. I also served on that committee. Tricia learned that there were funds left over from the account used to renovate the two middle schools and a number of elementary schools. The funds were dedicated for school improvements only. PHS, Taconic, Conte, Morningside and Crosby had received no improvements.

Tricia scheduled a meeting with her committee, not in the Council chambers in front of TV cameras, but at each school while they were in session. Yes, the meetings were posted but the press seemed to have little interest.

The principal and staff at each school told us what their #1 request was. Two schools requested improved security systems for the safety of staff and students. Two needed repairs to the gym floors, and the last school needed windows replaced. All of that was accomplished without fanfare, thanks to Tricia.

Tricia Farley-Bouvier proved she was an effective city councilor for four years. She was an asset when she was on Mayor Jim Ruberto's director of administration. As Tricia has gained experience, she is even better as our state representative.

The last time Tricia and I were on the ballot for councilor at Large, she received more votes than I did, again. I won't hold that against her.

Please join me in keeping Tricia Farley-Bouvier on Beacon Hill.

Gerald Lee, Pittsfield

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Letter: “Bloomberg offers hope for Pittsfield's future”
The Berkshire Eagle, 9/6/2016

To the editor:

I knew Mike Bloomberg had my vote within the first hour of meeting him. At the same time I walked into his campaign office in early June, I was planning my escape from Pittsfield once and for all. As a first generation and recent college graduate, I couldn't wait to thrive in an unknown place and leave this perceived area of political and economic decline.

Now, I believe in the future of Pittsfield for the first time in my life. Now, I envision settling down and starting a family in the Berkshires. Right now, Pittsfield and the Berkshires need people like myself to think this way for its long-term survival and growth.

Now, our beautiful city needs a transformation. Mike Bloomberg is a component of this transformation. As I sat down in his office that sunny day in early June, Mike listened and engaged with issues such as Black Lives Matter: its misconceptions and importance. He listened to my concerns about drug addiction in the Berkshires. He listened to my ideas about creating a thriving start-up and entrepreneurship culture that's energizing cities across the U.S.

I don't believe anyone has the ability to confront challenges, fight for the oppressed, and reinvigorate our community quite like Mike does.

We need a dedicated individual with measurable results in Boston. We need politicians to actually listen and engage with our community, especially those of color and socio-economically disadvantaged individuals.

Our votes truly count and create results when we elect the right people. If our leadership continues to fail us, my generation will be forced to leave and miss out on our families, natural beauty, and cultural vitality.

Jordan Wood, Pittsfield

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Letter: “Why I like Mike”
The Berkshire Eagle, 9/6/2016

To the editor:

I want to tell you why I'm voting for Michael Bloomberg for state representative.

I've known several of Mike's friends and members of his family for years, but before this election I hadn't met Mike. Not long after he announced he was running, he sought me out and we met for lunch at Teddy's Pizza. I was impressed by his vast knowledge on every issue relevant to the city of Pittsfield and the state of Massachusetts that I asked about, as well as his knowledge of national issues.

When I asked him about dealing with poverty in Pittsfield, I was surprised by how easily he was able to provide statistics and reference studies, then describe how he used that information, along with input from people who deal with poverty daily, to formulate concrete plans to improve our community. I soon learned that he was as equally diligent with every issue. Still, while I left our meeting impressed, I knew how involved Rep. Farley-Bouvier has been in the community and I was still conflicted on who to support.

As a few weeks passed I noticed that no matter how late it was, there was always a light on in Mike's campaign headquarters. He was always in there working, often as late as 11 p.m. Once, after midnight and while on an emergency grocery run, I saw him in the office, still working, still educating himself on the issues. I realized then that he was my guy and in every conversation since I have only come away more impressed at the depth of his knowledge and commitment to improving the lives of all of Pittsfield's residents. He even read the entire Consent Decree to make sure he was as well informed on every issue as possible!

Mike's campaign has typified a grassroots effort; you will often see him around town, riding his bike and knocking on doors. He doesn't just listen to the concerns of residents, he will ask what they think about his suggestions and when he discovers new information from them, he updates his ideas. When he learns of a new problem, he throws himself into finding a solution with incredible energy and studies to make sure he understands every angle. That's what we need in Boston and that's why I'm voting for Mike.

Dan Johnson, Pittsfield

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Letter: “Farley-Bouvier's bold stance on mileage tax”
The Berkshire Eagle, 9/6/2016

To the editor:

Much has been made this primary season about Rep. Farley-Bouvier's support, and Gov. Baker's subsequent veto, of a federally funded pilot program to investigate if a mileage-based tax is a viable alternative to the state's current gasoline tax. Now, I cannot objectively say if our community would be better served paying taxes by the mile or the gallon; and, thanks to Gov. Baker, that question will go on unanswered.

This is what I can say: inflation-adjusted gas tax revenues have been on a broad decline for decades. Our roadways aren't getting any shorter. Many of us seem content to ignore this problem, or attack any perceived change to the status quo.

Tricia Farley-Bouvier chose to confront unsustainable revenues head on, diving into the details, instead of chasing a cheap sound bite. It is that focus and dedication which has earned her my vote this Thursday.

Tom Swanton, Pittsfield

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Letter: “Elections are a chance to vote out GOB-SIGs”
The Berkshire Eagle, 9/7/2016

To the editor:

Taxpayers of the city of Pittsfield, we can definitely make Pittsfield a better city for all who love here. The first thing we can do is rid ourselves for state representatives and senators who refuse to do the bidding of taxpayers.

Topping the list is state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, a stalwart of the Pittsfield Good Old Boy, Special Interest Group (GOB-SIG) network who led the charge to build the new and unneeded Taconic High School. Taxpayers were never given an opportunity to vote on this project even though a poll indicated taxpayers were against it by a 4-1 margin.

The other individual who needs to go in November is City Councilor Chris Connell, who is as taxpayer unfriendly as any councilor can be. We have to insure that he is not elected as a state representative in November and we must get rid of him again in November of 2017 as a city councilor, along with the majority of the individuals sitting on this council.

I ask that all registered voters in Pittsfield take this election seriously, as well as all other future elections, in the city of Pittsfield. When you go into the voting booth, think carefully as to which politicians have listened to you the taxpayer. Those that haven't can be outed with the stroke of your pen on election days. Let's elect people to public office who have the taxpayers' interest at heart. That means the majority of the individuals on the City Council must be replaced, as well as Rep. Farley-Bouvier.

Let's come out in full force and elect individuals who will work for the taxpayer and not against them. Let's break up these broken houses we call the City Council and School Committee. Follow me on my TV show that airs four times on Fridays on Channel 16. Let's rebuild Pittsfield as a city who is concerned for all its residents and not just for the GOB-SIGS.

Craig Gaetani, Pittsfield

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Tricia Farley-Bouvier is greeted by her supporters at her campaign headquarters at Crawford Square in Pittsfield following her win on Thursday night. (Gillian Jones — The Berkshire Eagle | photos.berkshireeagle.com)

“Farley-Bouvier clinches Democratic nomination for rep. seat race; Hurley tops race for gov. council seat”
Mary Hurley essentially clinches 8th district seat on gov.'s council
By Dick Lindsay, The Berkshire Eagle, 9/8/2016

PITTSFIELD - A battle-tested Tricia Farley-Bouvier moves onto November after winning a hard-fought campaign in Tuesday's state primary.

The 3rd Berkshire District Representative held off a hard-charging Michael Bloomberg, 2687-2305 to capture the Democratic Party nomination and the right to face independent candidate and Pittsfield City Councilor Christopher Connell in the Nov. 8 general election. The district covers all but one of the city's 14 precincts as Ward 1B is part of the 2nd Berkshire District where Paul Mark is running unopposed.

Farley-Bouvier slowly, but surely, built a lead she never relinquished, sealing the deal by winning Wards 4 and 5 by a combined 248 votes.

Despite the verbal sparring during several political debates, the incumbent and challenger are expected to show a united front in trying to defeat Connell.

"Mike and I will combine forces to make sure we have a Democrat representing the 3rd Berkshire District," Farley-Bouvier said. "We have an excellent team and we'll start [on Friday]."

Bloomberg says he will be in Farley-Bouvier's political corner for the next two months as, after all, he is a Democrat.

"There's a 'D' next to my name for a reason," he said.

Farley-Bouvier is a five-year veteran state representative with 30 years of experience in the public and private sector helping the city grow such as being a Pittsfield city councilor and director of administration for former Mayor James Ruberto.

The first to announce his candidacy in January, Connell has had to take a back seat to the Democratic primary as no other challengers emerged. He has said the city needs someone to more effectively advocate for funding for infrastructure repairs and for the school system.

While Farley-Bouvier hopes to pull in the Bloomberg supporters, she knows Thursday's 20 percent voter turnout is just the tip of the electorate iceberg, especially since the race for the White House is at stake.

"It's really a different race on Nov. 8 with a different turnout," she said.

If anything, the primary, her first since winning 3rd Berkshire as an open seat in 2011, got people talking about the issues, according to Farley-Bouvier.

"The issues that were very concerning are the economy and opioid [addiction,]" she said.

Bloomberg's pounding the pavement and knocking on doors the past few months found many people wanting to revitalize the city, including the younger generation.

"The exciting part was meeting young people who started their own business in the city," he said at his post-election gathering. "What was once a tired city is showing signs of life."

Bloomberg hopes to be a part of the Pittsfield revival.

"What I want to do the rest of my life is urban revitalization," he added. "It's no secret the city is at a crossroads."

Meanwhile, Berkshire County was a big influence in the 8th District Governor's Council race between Mary Hurley and Jeff Morneau. Hurley carried the 32 cities and towns by nearly 4,000 votes, more than half the approximately 7,000-vote lead she had when the Associated Press called the race just after 10:30 p.m.

The two Springfield-area candidates were vying for the Democratic nomination, with Hurley essentially becoming the newest councilor as the political race lacks a Republican or third-party candidate in the Nov. 8 general election.

Hurley will succeed Michael Albano, who is stepping down after two terms dating back to 2012 to run for the Hampden County Sheriff's position.

The Governor's Council is an eight-person panel with the 8th District representing Berkshire, Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties and one town in Worcester County. The more high-profile duties included voting on gubernatorial appointments such as judges, clerk-magistrates, public administrators and members of the Parole Board.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233. rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com @BE_DLindsay on Twitter.

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Our Opinion: “A welcome political debate moves to final stage”
The Berkshire Eagle, Editorial, 9/9/2016

The stage is set for the November elections for Pittsfield state representative and Western Massachusetts state senator, and the continuation of a good debate on the issues.

Incumbent State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier held off a formidable challenge from Mike Bloomberg to win the Democratic primary. Incumbent legislators traditionally win primary challenges handily, but two incumbent state legislators in Eastern Massachusetts were defeated and Ms. Farley-Bouvier won a hard-fought race.

Mr. Bloomberg impressed with his aggressive campaign and hard work on the campaign trail. He says he wants to dedicate himself to urban revitalization and ideally he can do this from Pittsfield, where he would be a positive contributor.

Adam Hinds, who established him as an active member of the Berkshire community in just a few years, won the Democratic primary for state senator over Andrea Harrington and Rinaldo Del Gallo, III. Ms. Harrington polled well after a solid campaign and, like Mr. Bloomberg, established herself as someone to watch on the political scene in the years ahead.

Ms. Farley-Bouvier will now take on independent candidate Christopher Connell while Mr. Hinds meets Republican Christine Canning for the seat to be vacated by the retiring Ben Downing. While voter turnout was predictably low for the primaries, that shouldn't be the case on November 8, when a presidential election will be decided and four ballot questions, including questions on charter schools and legalizing marijuana, will go before voters.

The primary season debate on critical Berkshire and Massachusetts issues was healthy for the region. We look forward to that continuing in the weeks ahead.

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“Challengers present choices: Independent Connell takes on Farley-Bouvier....”
By Jim Therrien, The Berkshire Eagle, 9/10/2016

PITTSFIELD - With the dust settling from the Democratic primary races for state House and Senate, independent 3rd District House candidate Christopher Connell and Republican Senate candidate Christine Canning are gearing up for the final push to the Nov. 8 election.

Connell, a Pittsfield city councilor, is challenging incumbent Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield in that race.

CHRISTOPHER CONNELL

"I have been going door-to-door every weekend since April," Connell said Friday, "and I will now switch to every night as well."

Connell acknowledges he is likely to be far outspent by a regular party candidate for the House seat, who also is an incumbent. But he does plan a few campaign events and at least one mailing, and he is focusing on meeting voters on an individual basis and in small groups.

His work on the council also has given him visibility in the district, Connell said. That is particularly the case, he said, in residents being aware he has consistently pushed for efficiencies in government and to reduce unnecessary spending.

The issue of creating a more efficient government that can meet the demand for city services is especially important, he said, in light of the city's fiscal concerns as annual budgets approach the Proposition 2 1/2 levy ceiling — possibly necessitating override votes in the near future to raise taxes.

"A lot of people have said they like what I've been doing," Connell said.

Getting a bigger share of state aid for education and other needs also is a key for the city, he said, and Connell believes he could do that more effectively than Farley-Bouvier. "We need someone who is aggressive," he said.

Connell said he would like to debate the incumbent at least two or three times before Nov. 8. One debate is now scheduled, he said, and will be held at Berkshire Community College.

Connell also praised Michael Bloomberg for his effort in challenging Farley-Bouvier in the primary. The 26-year-old first time candidate was defeated by the incumbent in the Democratic Primary by a margin of 2,687 to 2,305, with Bloomberg taking just under 47 percent of the total vote.

"Mike ran a very good campaign," Connell said. "He brought a lot to the table and did a fantastic job. He reminded me a lot of myself at that age. I probably would have supported him if I wasn't running."

When announcing his run for the seat as an independent earlier this year, Connell cited his accomplishments on the council as working with former Assistant City Solicitor Darren Lee to help prompt the city's first-ever tax lien sale, which recouped more than $2 million in back taxes owed, along with his efforts to spur a study of city water and sewer operations and of the municipal airport operations, both with the goal of finding efficiencies to reduce costs.

Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247. jtherrien@berkshireeagle.com @BE_therrien on Twitter.

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Letter: "Allow Farley-Bouvier to continue good work"
The Berkshire Eagle, 10/14/2016

To the editor:

It is with pleasure that I support State Rep. Tricia Farley Bouvier for re-election.

I have known Tricia my entire life and I respect her work ethic,, her effectiveness, and her determination to make this district better. Through political and personal investments, Tricia has had a long-term commitment to Pittsfield and has proven that to seniors, families, teachers, and our youth in countless ways.

Tricia, along with the School Department, led the Taconic High School project from its inception. She worked hard to make sure that we received our fair share, not only providing Pittsfield with a new school but the best investment we can make in economic development.

She is a strong supporter of the cultural economy and advanced manufacturing, and collaborates with her colleagues in the House and Senate and with the governor to be sure that Pittsfield's needs are a top priority. In this race, particularly, Pittsfield needs a skilled negotiator and someone who has the experience to lead us. Pittsfield needs to send Tricia back to Boston to fight for us.

Debra Guachione, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Farley-Bouvier backs early childhood education"
The Berkshire Eagle, 10/19/2016

To the editor:

State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier works hard for Berkshire County's children and families. She supports early childhood education, which is the best investment our state and country can make.

Tricia has established herself both locally and at the Statehouse as a leader in the fight to increase access to early childhood education and to raise the standards of the profession and the salaries of early childhood educators. She was successful in her efforts to increase early childhood teachers' salaries but the governor later vetoed them.

In addition to fighting for early childhood education, Tricia was a strong advocate for paid sick leave, which is now law in Massachusetts. Now, along with her colleagues, Tricia is working on paid family leave. She knows that families are their strongest when parents can take time to care for their children without fear of losing their job.

Our children need someone who will fight for their future. Our children need Tricia Farley Bouvier.

Julia Sabourin, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Connell is an ally of disabled citizens"
The Berkshire Eagle, 10/19/2016

To the editor:

As a disabled citizen who tries to live as independently as possible, it is very important to have heavily trafficked areas safe for all citizens.

The intersection in Pittsfield at Elm, East, and Fourth Street is filled with traffic coming from every direction and nearly impossible to navigate if you are confined to a wheelchair.

City Councilor Chris Connell, a candidate for state representative, has dedicated himself to making this intersection ADA compliant and safer for all. He has worked on this project and does not take no for an answer when it comes to fighting for our safety, and continues to look for ways to fund this project.

I have spoken with Chris a number of times and helping the disabled have better road conditions is very important to him. He will bring awareness to the state of our local needs for ADA compliance if he is elected to represent us in the commonwealth.

I am writing this letter to ask Pittsfield citizens who care about safe roads for disabled citizens to please consider voting for Chris Connell for state representative.

Ken Keefner, Pittsfield

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Letter: "A Rep. Connell won't be same old, same old"
The Berkshire Eagle, 10/20/2016

To the editor:

As a life-long resident of Pittsfield, I've seen our town go from good times to bad times and then struggle to make a comeback and improve.

Sometimes, I worry that our locally elected officials keep doing too much of the "same old, same old" and it is not surprising that we are getting the same results for our community. Pittsfield needs new ideas and new energy and I believe that by making Chis Connell our state representative, we will gain much needed improvements for our city.

Chris first came to my attention five years ago when he was running for Ward 4 city councilor. At that time he was going door to door and listening to what his neighbors felt needed to be improved. As soon as he was elected he went to work on the things that his constituents needed.

Over the years I have watched Chris work hard to make things happen for our city. Collaborating with our former mayor, Chris initiated a tax lien sale that brought in millions of dollars of much needed revenue for our city.

Chris knows the needs of the city and what funding will be necessary to complete projects that will better our life in the city and create jobs. He will go to the Statehouse armed with specific dollars and cents plans and he will fight to bring in dollars to help revitalize the city and the region.

I encourage voters in this city to support Chris Connell for state representative rather than settle for the same old, same old.

William D. Barry, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Farley-Bouvier takes strong stance on sexual, domestic assault"
The Berkshire Eagle, 10/24/2016

To the Editor,

The board, staff and clients of the Elizabeth Freeman Center thank Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier for her leadership in sponsoring House Bill 4364 from its inception to its enactment. This new law requires that sexual assault evidence be preserved for at least 15 years, the statute of limitation for prosecution of rape cases. This replaces the old law that evidence from sexual assaults not brought to court need only be held for six months, unless the survivor files a formal request that the evidence kit be held longer.

We know from recent disclosures in Berkshire County and in our country that it may take months, even years, before a rape survivor discloses the crime to family and friends, never mind law enforcement. There are many reasons for this, including fears for personal safety, the trauma caused by this horrific crime, concerns about whether they will be believed or blamed, fear of being ostracized, fear of being seen as a victim, the fear of going to court and being judged.

It takes time and help to heal from rape. Rape survivors should have the maximum amount of time to come forward and decide to prosecute and if they do, they should have the full amount of evidence available. This new law not only takes a significant burden off of survivors who are dealing with the aftermath of sexual violence related trauma, it may also help hold rapists accountable.

This change becomes even more critical to survivors in Berkshire County. In November 2016, Berkshire Medical Center finally became a SANE hospital after years of advocacy by many, including our own District Attorney David Capeless. As a SANE hospital, rape survivors going to the hospital will be seen by a specially trained nurse examiner and have access to a trained sexual assault counselor. Since BMC became a SANE site, our counselors have been called and responded 35 times, compared to five times during the same period last year.

Rep. Farley-Bouvier does our community proud with the strong stances she takes for survivors of sexual and domestic violence.

Jane B. Lawless, Janis Broderick
Jane B. Lawless is president of the Board of Directors and Janis Broderick is executive director of the Elizabeth Freeman Center.

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Tricia Farley-Bouvier: "Key step in changing rape culture"
By Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 10/24/2016

PITTSFIELD - This is been an extremely difficult presidential campaign season and the rhetoric seems to have hit an all time low recently. There may, however, be a silver lining. The bragging about sexual assault by one of the candidates has broadened the conversation about its prevalence and many survivors are coming forward and speaking up. This new wave of awareness and advocacy can lead to real change.

For too long, we have had a culture that allows, sometimes even encourages, sexual abuse and assault in this country. Why? Among the many reasons, there is the issue of how survivors are treated after the assault.

We have all heard the statistic that 1 in 5 women are assaulted, but did you know that only 1 in 5 of those survivors report the assault to authorities? Often the criminal justice process and victim-shaming from the community re-traumatizes the victim. What did she do to bring this on? Wear the wrong clothes? Be out after dark? Drink alcohol?

In addition, some recent high profile cases demonstrate that even in the very rare occurrence that a case is taken to trial resulting in a clear conviction, there is a tendency for ridiculously light sentences because the judge is concerned about ruining this otherwise fine young man's life. As if the victim's life hasn't been severely altered by the trauma.

It is hard to blame the survivor for not coming forward under current circumstances, but let's remember when crimes are not reported, assailants strike again. This makes our community much less safe.

I am proud that Massachusetts has taken a small, but important, step in the direction of further ensuring the rights of survivors. We are on our way to make reporting and pursuing charges against assailants more bearable with the goals of both protecting the rights of survivors and encouraging more reporting.

Last week, Gov. Baker signed into law H4364 — An Act relative to preservation of evidence for victims of rape and sexual assault. This will ensure the preservation of forensic evidence collected from sexual assault survivors for the statute of limitations, regardless of whether or not a crime has been charged.

In the past, sexual assault survivors in Massachusetts had to endure repeated cycles of trauma even after being raped. Under the prior laws, "Jane Doe" survivors were required to undertake their own investigation and ensure law enforcement preservation of this important evidence by calling state crime laboratories every six months in order to prevent destruction of their rape kits. I have worked with survivors over this legislative session to alleviate the burden of evidence retention from their shoulders.

MET WITH SURVIVORS

The incredible accounts of sexual assault survivors and allies from the organization RISE spurred me to introduce this bill. I spoke with many survivors who described their experience with the criminal justice system as re-victimizing; these survivors felt unsupported and betrayed by the very system tasked with their protection. They spoke of how traumatic it was to be reminded of their rapes every six months, and they told stories of friends whose rape kits had been destroyed without notice or knowledge.

Throughout my time working with them, these survivors and allies demonstrated the need to change this system. The volunteers at RISE worked tirelessly to push this bill forward, collaborating with members throughout the Statehouse, and reaching out to allies from across the state.

With the passage of this bill, victims in Massachusetts will no longer bear the burden of ensuring the retention of their rape kits. Each kit will automatically be held for 15 years or the length of the statute of limitations before being destroyed.

Earlier this month, President Obama signed a Survivor Right's Bill, a resolution passed by Congress encouraging states to consider comprehensive protection for sexual assault survivors. Since the great majority of sexual assaults are prosecuted at the state level, these reforms have to be enacted by state legislatures. I see Bill H4364 as the first step towards ensuring those rights for survivors here in Massachusetts and hope that state legislators across the country will take up the mantel and pass similar laws to help turn the tide in our efforts to end the culture of sexual assault in our country.

Here in Massachusetts, we have more work to do in the education, prevention and response to sexual assault, including the alarming number that happen on our college campuses. I look forward to working with community partners and my colleagues to make those further reforms a reality.

Tricia Farley-Bouvier, a Democratic state legislator from the 3rd Berkshire District, is seeking re-election.

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"Pittsfield needs advocate as state representative"
By Chris Connell, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, 10/24/2016

PITTSFIELD - Nine months ago I began a campaign for state representative for the 3rd Berkshire District. My decision to run was based mainly on the financial state of the city of Pittsfield.

We as a city can no longer fund large projects for the foreseeable future due to the city hitting our tax levy limit. Large projects such as a new police station and major infrastructure repairs such as dams, roads, ADA complaint streets, sidewalks and intersections as well as specialized educational needs will be unattainable due to our heavy debt burden unless we can get our fair share of tax revenue from the state. That's why the city of Pittsfield needs a much stronger representative with years of business and municipal experience who understands the needs of the city if we are going to continue to grow.

My background varies from working in the corporate world managing millions of dollars in sales to owning a small business to owning and managing rental property. I moved to Pittsfield 14 years ago to take care of my mother who has lived in the same house on Pomeroy Avenue since 1979.

ACTIVE IN CITY

In 2009, I decided to run for City Council because I was frustrated with things going on in city government, and no longer wanted to complain without being part of the solution. I was defeated in my first attempt, but I didn't give up and became involved in the city by serving on the traffic commission. In 2011, I was elected to my first term on the council and have been serving ever since.

All of the time I have served on the City Council I have tried to be an independent voice echoing the needs of the residents. I have always tried to find new ways in which the city could run more efficiently, thereby saving the residents an unnecessary tax burden. I have had some success as well as some failures. But I have continued my quest to find new and innovative ways to help the city.

I am running as unenrolled or independent for state representative position because I represent the hard-working people of Pittsfield. From the dishwasher to landscaper to contractor, I understand your needs because I have worked at all of these positions in my life, at times holding two to three jobs at one time. I want to represent the residents of Pittsfield regardless of political party to ensure that all of your voices are heard.

This race between myself and the current state representative comes down to basically two things: Performance and priorities. In their five years in office my opponent has not passed any legislation she has sponsored. That represents 25 bills. In fact, two pieces of legislation that were sponsored, if passed, would have severely affected the citizens in a very negative way.

House bill H1590 would have made all of the veterans agents become employees of the Dept. of Veterans services and the department would appoint the agents regionally. This would have meant that veterans services would be consolidated to approximately 25 locations and our veterans would have to travel great distances in order to receive guidance on their benefits. Is this how we reward our veterans who have protected our way of life?

House bill H3142 which was sponsored by my opponent requested a pilot study to investigate the effect of a vehicle mileage tax. If enacted, this would have severely affected the residents of Pittsfield and Berkshire County who by our geographical location have to drive further distances because of anemic public transportation. The residents of the eastern part of the state would have shouldered much less of the tax. Is this true representation?

Over two years ago, the police advisory committee asked for an increase in the fines for jaywalking from our state representative as they currently are only $2 and not being enforced because of the low amount. This request fell on deaf ears. This is a quality of life issue here in the city especially on our thoroughfares. This did not seem like a large request as home rule petitions have been passed on other issues for the city fairly easily by former state representatives.

CHANGE IS NEEDED

It is clear that we need a change in representation. This has been the common theme in the hundreds of conversations that I have had with residents and business leaders since I started my campaign. I represent that change. My performance and my priorities serving the public on the City Council have always been for the public good. I encourage everyone to view my website at www.chrisconnell.org to learn more about me as a person and as a candidate.

This city needs help and we will not get there by re-electing the same person. Elect Chris Connell on Nov. 8.

Chris Connell is an independent candidate for state representative.

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State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, listens while Pittsfield City Councilor Christopher Connell speaks during a State Representative Debate for the Third Berkshire District in the Koussevitsky Arts Center at Berkshire Community College on Monday. (Gillian Jones — The Berkshire Eagle)

State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, speaks during a State Representative Debate for the Third Berkshire District with City Councilor Christopher Connell in the Koussevitsky Arts Center at Berkshire Community College on Monday.

“Connell vs. Farley-Bouvier: BCC hosts debate House hopefuls”
Debate: Connell vs. incumbent Rep. Farley-Bouvier
By Dick Lindsay, The Berkshire Eagle, October 24, 2016

PITTSFIELD - Two weeks left in their campaigns, candidates for Pittsfield state representative ramped up their political platforms Monday night during a debate at Berkshire Community College.

The economy, state wide ballot questions and their philosophy of how to represent the constituency highlighted each 50- minute, televised event.

In Pittsfield, all but one precinct have a battle for 3rd Berkshire District between incumbent Tricia Farley-Bouvier and Pittsfield Ward 4 Councilor and independent candidate Christopher Connell.

If re-elected state representative, Farley-Bouvier vow to keep her constituents in mind when at the Statehouse.

"Accessibility, collaboration, advocacy, put those things together and great things will happen."

Her challenger believes he can do a better job of getting the city's fair share of state funds.

"The funds are there; the state representative has to go get them," Connell said.

Both candidates vowed to secure additional funding for the refurbishing of the Columbus Avenue parking garage and Berkshire Innovation Center.

However, revenue was a problem this year, forcing state budget cutbacks and the elimination of the sale tax-free weekend in August, popular with consumers and retailers.

Should the tax free Saturday and Sunday return for 2017? Yes, but ...

"This year wasn't a good idea," Farley Bouvier said. "We must make a determination each year."

Connell suggested it should be a one-day event, but felt the loss of sale tax money is part of a bigger issue.

"What it comes down to is the whole budget, not one event," he said. "We have a revenue problem, not an expense problem."

The state representative hopefuls did join the senate candidates in opposing Question 2. Connell urged voters to show their support for the Pittsfield Public Schools and vote against increasing the number of charter schools across the commonwealth.

"I think [Pittsfield] is head and shoulders above charter schools," he said.

Farley-Bouvier opposes the referendum citing outside money is funding the "yes" vote and that charter schools are a money drain on traditional public school systems.

"The [charter] schools aren't bad, it's the way they are funded is bad," she said.

Starting Friday night when Berkshire state lawmakers and their constituents travel to Boston and points in between on the Massachusetts Turnpike the highway becomes an entirely electronic toll road.

Farley-Bouvier says her local office has done all it can to make sure people get their transponders, otherwise pay higher tolls without one.

"Online is the most efficient way to [get one]," she said.

Given the trouble some people have had with their transponders, both candidates called for the waving of stiff penalties for faulty dashboard devices.

"We have people getting $30 and $50 fines for bad transponders," Connell noted.

Nevertheless, the political opponents agree electronic tolls is the way to go on the MassPike.

rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com @BE_DLindsay on Twitter.

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Letter: "Return hard-working Farley-Bouvier to office"
The Berkshire Eagle, 10/25/2016

To the Editor:

I am a voter, volunteer and educator who supports Tricia Farley-Bouvier with increasing enthusiasm. Tricia is steadfast, reliable, energetic and works hard to make things happen. For example, thanks to her patient and tireless leadership, House Bill 4364 passed. This new law requires sexual assault evidence to be preserved at least 15 years to be compatible with the statute of limitation for prosecution of rape cases. Tricia's strong stance advocates for survivors of sexual and domestic violence.

Tricia's collaborative style used teamwork to bring tax dollars to rebuild Taconic High School. Tricia works with parents and other concerned citizens to avoid massive layoffs in the schools. Tricia supports caps on charter schools.

Please join me at the polls on Nov. 8 and vote to re-elect Tricia for state representative!

Marietta Rapetti Cawse, Pittsfield

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Letter: "Farley-Bouvier responds to needs of constituents"
The Berkshire Eagle, 10/26/2016

To the editor:

State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier has been so responsive to the needs of the people here in Pittsfield. I have experienced that myself.

When I needed help, I called Tricia's district office and she responded right away. It's great to know that we have someone we can count on to help us with state issues and pays close attention to the needs of the residents.

I appreciate that she has a full-time office right here in our downtown that I can call or drop in anytime. Pittsfield benefits greatly from Tricia's dedication to her constituents. I'm voting for Tricia and I hope you do too.

Margery Light, Pittsfield

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Letter: "No need to change our state representative"
The Berkshire Eagle, 10/26/2016

To the editor:

The suggestion that we need a "new face" to represent us in Statehouse will be fulfilled by a new senator to replace Ben Downing. We do not need two freshmen representatives.

Tricia Farley-Bouvier will provide the support and contacts to help the new face learn the ropes. She humbly admits that it took almost two years to learn the job and be appointed to committees, where she can make change.

To the suggestion that we need change I say look how Tricia has made change. She was a part of a group of women who changed the Pittsfield City Council by electing three women to a formerly all-male council. She is the first woman to represent Pittsfield and only the second woman to represent Berkshire County in the House. She has made representing families the focus of her political career before it became popular.

She is a member of important committees like the Committee of Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities and the Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse where change has happened in the way we treat children in state custody, individuals with substance abuse issues, victims of sexual assault and transgender individuals. Tricia has worked hard on the Equal Pay Act because she knows changing the wage structure supports families.

When we talk about political change we want an honest, smart, hard-working representative who does not make decisions based on electability but on sound understanding of the issues, a representative, who can listen to both sides and find a win-win solution and a representative who is respected by her peers.

In electing Tricia Farley-Bouvier on Nov. 8 we will have a representative who has proven she can make change happen and be a honest and respected politician. As Ben Swan, representative from Springfield, said at Tricia's campaign kick-off "Why would you change when you have one of the best representatives in the House?"

Marjorie Cohan, Pittsfield

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Our Opinion: “Farley-Bouvier, Hinds, for state Legislature”
The Berkshire Eagle, Editorial, 10/27/2016

Contested races for the state Legislature are relatively rare in the Berkshires, and voters have benefited from the issue-oriented dialogue triggered by campaigns for state representative and state senator.

Tricia Farley-Bouvier, the Democratic state representative from the 3rd Berkshire District, was tested in the party primary by Michael Bloomberg and again by independent candidate Chris Connell in the general election. Ultimately, however, neither made the case for ousting an accomplished legislator.

Ms. Farley-Bouvier has worked successfully for Pittsfield in advocating for the new Taconic High School and pushing for a development grant for Tyler Street in Pittsfield, for example. She has made her mark on state issues, such as minimum wage legislation and most recently on a new law making it easier for survivors of sexual assault to navigate the legal system. She is a consistently strong progressive voice and has earned a reputation for providing constituent services.

Mr. Connell has shown his dedication to Pittsfield in a variety of ways, including as a Ward 4 city councilor who effectively serves his ward and the city as well. He promises to emphasize economic development for Pittsfield and would bring a background in business to the job.

If elected, Mr. Connell will continue to serve as a city councilor, and it will be a considerable challenge even for someone as hard-working as Mr. Connell to do both jobs as effectively as Ms. Farley-Bouvier fulfills her position as state representative. As an independent, he would be free of political allegiances but he would also be invisible to leadership of the majority Democratic Party. Ms. Farley-Bouvier has earned committee positions and tenure that the isolated Berkshires can't afford to sacrifice. The Eagle endorses Tricia Farley-Bouvier for re-election.

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Letter: “Devoted son will be dedicated state rep.”
The Berkshire Eagle, 10/28/2016

To the editor:

My son Chris is running for state representative and I want to share with you that my son is dedicated to the people and the well-being of the city of Pittsfield. I think that he's a great person to represent Pittsfield.

He grew up in a small town, Bennington, Vt., lost his father when he was 8-years-old, and has done wonderful things on his own. Chris is a self-made man. He attended St. Michael's College and received a BS in business administration. He paid for his own education and received merit scholarships.

He has been successful in business managing large regions for national retailers and he has also built a business in rental property management. Despite all of his success, Chris has remained humble and dedicated to helping others.

He always thinks of older people first. If he sees an old person struggling, Chris is the first person to help them cross the street. This stems from the fact that Christopher was taken care of as a child by his great-aunt when I was working all day.

They say you can judge a man by the way he treats his mother. Chris never forgets his mother. When I was diagnosed with cancer over 14 years ago, Chris was the most helpful son with constant visits and moral support. He recently gave me credit for working so hard to survive cancer and that he was very grateful. This touched my heart deeply.

I moved to Pittsfield 36 years ago. Even though I am Chris's mom and you might perceive me as biased, I feel that I am being objective when I express that Chris has demonstrated the knowledge and ability to do what is right for the city of Pittsfield. I think that if people look at what he's accomplished as city councilor of Ward 4, they will feel very good about voting for him and knowing that he will do an excellent job as our next state representative.

Loretta Connell, Pittsfield

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Letter: “Help Farley-Bouvier help us”
The Berkshire Eagle, 10/28/2016

To the editor:

Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier is going above and beyond to help us get EZPass transponders for the Turnpike. The new system is confusing for some, and many of us have resisted getting the transponders. Now that the deadline for getting them is here, I'm glad to have the help. With her office right near City Hall, it is easy to stop in and fill out the form needed and her staff is so helpful.

It is this kind of service that makes her a great state representative. She knows that some things in government can be confusing and she advocates for all of us. Let's all of us vote for her so she can continue her great work for us.

Robert Coakley, Pittsfield

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Pittsfield City Councilor Christopher Connell is running against incumbent Tricia Farley-Bouvier for state representative for the 3rd Berkshire District.

3RD BERKSHIRE DISTRICT
"Connell looks to unseat Farley-Bouvier"
Dick Lindsay, rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com - The Berkshire Eagle - November 5, 2016

PITTSFIELD - Unlike the Berkshire, Hampshire, Frankin and Hampden state senate race, the two candidates in the county's lone state representative contest on Tuesday didn't have far to travel to get out the vote this fall.

The 3rd Berkshire District, which Tricia Farley-Bouvier has represented the past five years, spans the city of Pittsfield, with the exception of Ward 1B. The Democrat won a hotly contested four-way special election in 2011 to fill the seat vacated by Christopher Speranzo.

She has since captured two full, two-year terms in 2012 and 2014.

Prior to working at the Statehouse in Boston, Farley-Bouvier was a city councilor from 2004-08 and served as the director of administration for former Mayor James M. Ruberto.

Challenger Christopher Connell is a relative newcomer who has quickly gained experience in the municipal government arena. Ward 4 Councilor since 2012, the independent candidate has served on several City Council subcommittees, spent a year on the Pittsfield Conservation Commission and has been on the local traffic commission for the past six years.

Connell says he will work harder to attract jobs and being an independent, he plans to reach across party lines to get things accomplished in the state Legislature.

Farley-Bouvier believes her proven track record on the local and state level should convince voters to give her two more years.

TRICIA FARLEY-BOUVIER

As a Massachusetts Gateway City, Pittsfield has managed to help secure funding for a variety of projects to improve the quality of life during Farley-Bouvier's tenure, including The Common on First Street, a new Taconic High School, and funding toward developing the William Stanley Business Park.

Yet, the incumbent has found many city residents struggling to "keep their head above water, financially.""Some are struggling with student debt, many young families, even those with good paying jobs, have had a hard time paying for child care," she said. "We have a surprising number of individuals and families who, though they work full time, still rely on SNAP benefits and/or food pantries to put food on the table."

For those reason, the state representative says she will fight to boost the state investment in early child education, find relief for student debt and work to increase wages. The lawmaker also will advocate for paid family leave.

"These initiatives are concrete steps we can take to level the playing field for families and spur economic development," she said.

A special education professional by trade who taught locally and overseas, Farley-Bouvier sees workforce development key to filling skilled jobs as well as attracting new businesses in search of a well trained workforce.

The incumbent also cites her collaboration with state and local leaders to secure $9 million for the Berkshire Innovation Center at the William Stanley Business Park, but she realizes more money is needed to close the funding gap to get the facility up and running.

Farley-Bouvier's most recent success was Gov. Charlie Baker signing into law a bill she spearheaded to passage that requires all forensic evidence in rape cases to be automatically kept for the entire 15-year statute of limitations on prosecuting sexual assault cases in the commonwealth.

"This is just one step in what will be a robust roll out of legislative initiatives to change the sexual assault culture in which we have to acknowledge we live in," she said.

If re-elected, Farley-Bouvier vows to follow through on projects well under way, such as the Tyler Street Development Initiative.

The state-sponsored TDI will be the blueprint for the future look of the city's Morningside area in terms of housing, job opportunities and development of vacant or underutilized properties.

While rural Western Massachusetts has been the focus of high-speed internet expansion, Farley-Bouvier still finds remote areas of the city unserved by better a broadband network.

CHRIS CONNELL

As a property manager and a ward councilor, Connell gets to see first-hand how district residents are living and working.

Should Connell get elected to the state Legislature, he has vowed to do double duty, remaining on the council until at least his term expires in January 2018.

"I made a commitment to the community," he said of keeping both elected positions. "I don't want to shortchange the city and I don't want to short change the state."

High atop Connell's priorities, if he becomes a state representative, is better paying jobs for his constituents.

"I'm going to be keeping my ear to the ground for companies looking to expand here," he said.

Connell would like to see Tax Increment Financing, or TIFs, along with money from the Pittsfield Economic Development Fund be used to entice new businesses to the city. Using those funding mechanisms ultimately requires City Council approval.

Keeping or luring employers with skilled, well paying jobs depends on whether the local workforce is qualified to fill those jobs. according to Connell. He says that's where workforce development comes in.

"If elected, I will be talking to businesses in the eastern part of [Massachusetts] that are looking to expand. I will promote Pittsfield to these businesses," he said.

Connell cited how one local, successful company near the Richmond town line is eager to boost its payroll.

"Interprint is hiring and training from the bottom up," he noted. "Young people need to know they must put in the work."

Economic growth is also dependent on cheaper, more reliable energy, deregulation and the need to lower the corporate tax rate without impacting state revenue, he said.

As Connell has campaigned across the city, he's surprised there's been little talk of public safety.

"I wasn't hearing about crime, especially given what's been happened here the last year or two," he said.

Connell's campaign platform also includes working to get a more balanced formula for Chapter 90 funds, the local state funds for roads and bridges.

In addition, he will work for amendments to public bond bills for large infrastructure projects.

A more equitable distribution of Chapter 70 money for public school systems is also on Connell's agenda, if he reaches Beacon Hill.


Incumbent Tricia Farley-Bouvier seeks to retain her position as state representative for the 3rd Berkshire District. (Photo by Ben Garver of The Berkshire Eagle.)

Independent Christopher Connell, a Pittsfield City Councilor, is running for state representative for the 3rd Berkshire District. (Photo by Ben Garver of The Berkshire Eagle.)

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State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier celebrates her re-election with her father, Tom Farley, behind her at J. Allen's Clubhouse Grill in Pittsfield. Tuesday, November 8, 2016. Stephanie Zollshan - The Berkshire Eagle.

"Farley-Bouvier fends off challenge for 3rd Berkshire House seat"
By Derek Gentile, The Berkshire Eagle, November 8, 2016

PITTSFIELD - Incumbent state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier was returned to office on Tuesday, cruising to victory over challenger Christopher Connell.

Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, who was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2011, was declared the winner at about 9:10 p.m. on Tuesday.

Farley-Bouvier secured 11,695 votes to Connell's 5,942. She won every ward in the city, most by a 2-to-1 margin.

"I'm looking forward to continuing the work I've started for the 3rd Berkshire District," she said at a reception in her honor at the J. Allen Clubhouse Grille on North Street. "The voters made a really close choice, and I want to thank them.

"It's all about teamwork here, and I'm proud to be a part of team Pittsfield," she said.

She added that her opponent, Connell, called her a few moments before she got to the restaurant to concede the election.

"He was very gracious," she said. "I appreciated his response."

Connell confirmed a few minutes later that his conversation with Farley-Bouvier was cordial.

"I called her and congratulated her and that was it," he said. "My main reason for running was because I believe the city of Pittsfield is in a financial crisis, and I wanted to do something about that."

Connell remains a city councilor in Ward 4. He said last night that he has not decided if he will run for re-election after his term expires next year.

"I will make that decision sometime next year," he said.

Connell, 57, of Dawes Avenue, announced in January his intention to run for Farley-Bouvier's seat

His principal platforms included an emphasis on infrastructure improvement and repair, as well as a more coordinated approach to school funding. That stance included looking at sharing services and potentially regionalization with schools in other communities.

Along with a host of Farley-Bouvier's supporters and family members, Mayor Linda Tyer was also in attendance at the reception on Tuesday night.

"I'm very pleased with the result and with the turnout," Tyer said. "I'm looking forward to working with Tricia. I was happy to support her candidacy."

Farley-Bouvier said there were several items on her to-do list in the coming term, including a comprehensive paid family leave policy and criminal justice reform. The latter issue, she said, would be an attempt to try to reduce the time accused criminals spend in jail before they are tried.

"It's a drain on the taxpayer," she said.

In addition, she said, she wanted to introduce "aggressive" legislation to address sexual assault in the city.

"We're looking to make our streets safer," she said.

Reach staff reporter Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.

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“Berkshire legislators earn spots in leadership”
By Patricia LeBoeuf, pleboeuf@berkshireeagle.com - The Berkshire Eagle, February 16, 2017

Berkshire County legislators will fill leadership positions in various committees this legislative session, according to information released Thursday.

"The whole Berkshire delegation did very well today in their assignments," said 3rd Berkshire District Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield. Farley-Bouvier will act as vice chairwoman of the House's Labor and Workforce Development Committee.

"There's a lot of important policies that make a different to families [in this committee]," she said. "I'm just really thrilled."

That committee will handle several issues of importance to Farley-Bouvier and her constituents this session, including raising the minimum wage and paid family leave. She is also part of the Technology and Intergovernmental Affairs and the Ways and Means House standing committees, along with the Children and Families joint standing committee.

Other Berkshire County legislators have also been assigned to House or joint committees in the Legislature. Rep. Gailanne M. Cariddi, D-North Adams, will chair the House's Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee. Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, will act as vice chairman of the House's Post Audit and Oversight Committee. Pignatelli is also a member of the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure, the State Administration and Regulatory Oversight and the Education joint standing committees.

On the Senate side, Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, will serve as chairman of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development and as vice chairman of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies.

Reach staff writer Patricia LeBoeuf at 413-496-6247 or @BE_pleboeuf.

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Letter: “Attend workshops on active citizenry”
The Berkshire Eagle, March 30, 2017

To the editor:

Being an American citizen comes with rights and responsibilities. Some of the responsibilities are to know what your government is doing, let your representatives know what you want them to do, and try to get people elected who will work to do what you think is best for your community, state, and nation. Many people complain about government, but all too few do something active and positive to make government what they want it to be.

To help people in our community be more active citizens, the Four Freedoms Coalition and Berkshire Community College are offering a day of workshops to give people tools to effect change. Civic Participation Workshops will be held Saturday (April 1), from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Berkshire Community College on West Street in Pittsfield. We are offering 10 different workshops to give people concrete skills to go out and act.

Workshops include: Writing effective letters to the editor, calling your legislators, door to door canvassing, what is cultural competence and how it can make you a more effective activist, conversations across the political divide, running for local office (or helping someone else to), and social media basics. In addition we will offer three separate workshops on Civics 101 for the local, state and federal levels.

Congressman Richard Neal will give an opening address at 9:30 and state Sen. Adam Hinds will make the closing remarks at 4. Our workshop leaders all have extensive experience in the areas they are presenting and include: state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer, and Pittsfield city councilors John Krol and Donna Rivers, among others.

To register, go to http://4freedomscoalition.org/events. Come on Saturday and get out there and "Act Now!"

Becky Meier,
Canaan, N.Y.

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Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer leads a workshop on local politics and how she got her start in government during Act Now! A series of civic participation workshops at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield. Stephanie Zollshan - The Berkshire Eagle.

“Lessons in local democracy in The Berkshires: Day of workshops tackles organizing, talking about politics”
By Derek Gentile, dgentile@berkshireeagle.com – The Berkshire Eagle, April 1, 2017

PITTSFIELD — Running for local office. Canvassing door-to-door. The basics of social media. The basics of local, state and federal politics. Volunteering.

Topics, that, on their face, seem fairly basic. Pretty self-explanatory. Yet more than 200 people showed up at Berkshire Community College on a stormy Saturday to hear local activists and politicians show them the political ropes in a series of workshops on civic participation.

The event was sponsored by the non-partisan Four Freedoms Coalition in partnership with BCC, according to organizer Becky Meier of Act Now, one of the coalition groups.

Meier did not dispute that many of topics seem to be basic ones, but added that "Americans don't like to disagree. People in other countries are much more comfortable discussing politics. But we have to talk to have a more viable democracy."

She said that many people have been polarized by the most recent election, "They want to do something, but they don't really know where to begin."

The event, she said, was planned as a non-partisan event.

"We're people helping people," she said.

Throughout the day, a host of facilitators presented workshops. Meier said she was pleased with the turnout, but said she was most pleased with the participation of a number of local politicians who gave of their time and expertise to the event. These included U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, who spoke at the beginning of the event; state Sen. Adam Hinds, who spoke at the end of the event, Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer; state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier and City Councilors Donna Todd Rivers and John Krol.

There were many other volunteers who helped out, noted Meier. Farley-Bouvier said she was most impressed with the amount of people and the energy.

"I think the turnout was great, and I was really impressed with the quality of the questions people asked me," she said. Farley-Bouvier talked for about an hour on state politics.

Jack Quattrochi is a student at BCC who attended the event to educate himself about the local political process.

"I'm appreciative of events like this," he said. "I think young people need to understand how the political system works."

As powerful as Saturday's turnout was, there was a question from some quarters as to its sustainability, that while things are humming along four months after the election, can people remain energized?

"I think every day there are reasons to be energized about this subject," said Sherwood Guernsey, one of the founders of the Four Freedoms Coalition. One of the reasons for an April seminar, he said, is to prepare for the next election season.

"It's important to start now," he said.

Reach staff writer Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.

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“Berkshire delegation on board with single-payer health legislation in Mass.”
By Eoin Higgins, ehiggins@berkshireeagle.com – The Berkshire Eagle, April 9, 2017

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire lawmakers are helping to push consideration of a single-payer health care system in Massachusetts.

"I believe that changes like this are more likely to start in a state than in the federal government," said state Rep. Tricia Farley Bouvier, D-Pittsfield. "Just like universal coverage started here, so could single-payer."

Farley-Bouvier, who represents the Berkshires' Third District and is the co-chairwoman of the House Progressive Caucus, is not alone in thinking the future of the American medical system is on the left, not the right.

The entire Berkshire delegation to the Statehouse, all Democrats, supports a single-payer system. And each member is co-sponsoring legislation to that effect this session.

In a single-payer health care system, government facilitates the provision of care to the public. Detractors claim that state-run health care leads to long waits and increased costs.

The United States is one of the only industrialized countries without such a system. Instead, private insurance companies provide coverage through employer or individual plans, while the government offers programs, including through the Affordable Care Act, to reach others.

But that may be about to change, said Ture Richard Turnbull, director of MassCare, a health care nonprofit. The political tide is turning toward single-payer, he told The Eagle, and he's seen that across Massachusetts.

"When we go across the commonwealth and attend local events," Turnbull said, "Health care and especially single-payer is a topic at all of these meetings and gets the largest applause."

D.C. DEBATE

At the federal level, U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, have introduced legislation to provide a single-payer system to Americans.

Their bills aim to establish a Medicare for all system, expanding the health program from only covering those over 65 to the entire population. This year the legislation is getting more attention and support from fellow Democrats in the House and the Senate.

That follows a failure last month in Congress to pass the American Health Care Act. The legislation would have repealed the signature Obama-era legislation, the Affordable Care Act, which itself was modeled on Massachusetts' health care system.

That failure has resulted in a surge in public support for universal health care.

That rise in popular support should be turned into action, said state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox.

"We want serious talk on the national level," said Pignatelli. "People are talking about it, sure. But they have to get something done."

Massachusetts isn't waiting for Washington.

A number of bills advocate a single-payer system at the state level and each one has Berkshire support.

In the Massachusetts system of government, the House and Senate run joint committees in the General Court, or state Legislature. Members of either branch can cross over to sponsor each other's legislation.

That's why S.619, a bill introduced by state Sen. James B. Eldridge, D-Marlborough, to establish Medicare for all in Massachusetts, is co-sponsored by both Pignatelli, who represents the Berkshires' Fourth District, and state Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, who represents the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin, and Hampden Senate District.

The House version of the bill, H.2987, is co-sponsored by state Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, and state Rep. Gail Cariddi, D-North Adams. The bill was introduced by state Rep. Denise Garlick, D-Needham.

Farley-Bouvier has co-sponsored H.596, introduced by state Rep. Jennifer Benson, D-Middlesex, which will evaluate the cost-effectiveness of a single-payer system before instituting the policy.

"It's taking it step by step," Farley-Bouvier said.

With support across the region and the state for a single-payer system, Cariddi said, the legislation will move forward one way or another.

"We just need to get everyone on the same page," she said.

Hearings on the bills will begin later in the session.

Turnbull said he's hopeful that Massachusetts will move forward on single-payer. It may not happen this year, he said, but could within the current two-year session.

Mark told The Eagle that Massachusetts can lead the way on health care once again at the state level.

"I think this is a great time for Massachusetts to lead, as it has done so often in the past," Mark said, "and make single-payer universal health care coverage a reality."

BERKSHIRES ROLE

That process could start in Western Massachusetts.

Turnbull told The Eagle that the entire Berkshire delegation has provided consistent support and leadership on the issue for years. The region has "great leadership," he said, singling out Pignatelli and Farley-Bouvier.

Pignatelli is a "solid leader," Turnbull said, while Farley-Bouvier's new ascendancy to the leadership of the House Progressive Caucus has led to positive changes for MassCare and other left-leaning organizations. It's easier to approach the group now, said Turnbull.

Farley-Bouvier said she has some hesitation in supporting single-payer after living in Uruguay. But she said that even discussing universal health care is a positive move.

"Just saying we want single-payer is a big leap forward," Farley-Bouvier said.

Mark, who represents the Berkshires' Second District, watched the debate last month over health care repeal at the federal level with concern.

"It was clear that we would have lost over one billion dollars in federal money to our state level health care services" if the GOP plan had gone through, he said. The cost of health care, even with Massachusetts' system, is one of the drivers of his support for a single-payer system.

"Our government already spends more per person on health care than any nation that does have a single-payer system," Mark wrote in an email, "and it is time to recognize that basic health care coverage is a utility that needs to be open to all residents as a matter of good fiscal policy, good social policy, and good public health policy."

Hinds described the health care system in Massachusetts as "unsustainable" due to cost — the commonwealth spends 40 percent of its annual budget on health care. That's burdensome for both the private and public sectors, said Hinds, and he hopes to find a solution.

"That is why I have looked at efforts that can start to address efficiencies and cost, including a single-payer system," Hinds wrote in an email. "I look forward to this continued conversation this session."

Legislation must figure out how to cover the cost of single-payer.

"I have supported single-payer as general concept for many years," said Cariddi, who represents the Berkshires' First District. "It's a more efficient funding mechanism for health care."

But Pignatelli, the delegation's longest-serving member, urged caution on that front. Single-payer, he said, will cost money.

"That's the unknown," Pignatelli said.

The Berkshire County branch of the Republican Party did not respond to requests for comment.

Reach staff writer Eoin Higgins at 413-496-6236 or @BE_EoinHiggins.

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“As Berkshire delegation moves for single-payer, local voices weigh in”
By Eoin Higgins, ehiggins@berkshireeagle.com – The Berkshire Eagle, April 9, 2017

PITTSFIELD — "It just makes me sick."

That's how Gail Garret, town clerk and Select Board member in the town of Mount Washington, feels about the cost of health care in Massachusetts.

Garret wants to push the state to adopt a single-payer system for health care.

Supporters say a publicly funded and run health care system will decrease costs and provide medical services to all. Detractors counter that the policy could spur cost overruns and increase state bureaucracy.

Each member the Berkshire state congressional delegation, all Democrats, supports some form of legislation to ensure a single-payer system this session.

The Mount Washington Select Board has adopted a resolution calling on the state to fund a single-payer system. To the north, Stockbridge will ask voters at the annual town meeting to approve a resolution calling on the Legislature to act "at its earliest possible convenience" to adopt a single-payer system across the state.

Garret says she was prompted to act because of the cost of coverage for town employees.

"It's mind boggling that a working person should be paying $1,800 a month for a family plan," Garret said.

Yet that's what a town employee can expect to pay, she said. The town pays half of that cost, but for an employee on the Highway Department, where the base pay is $850 a week, that's a little more than one paycheck a month.

According to Garret, that insurance doesn't even cover everything — some portions of care are left out of the plan.

Compounding her frustration are bonuses paid to Blue Cross Blue Shield executives and the administrative waste she sees in the private insurance industry.

"I just don't see how we couldn't do better," Garret said.

Berkshire Health Systems Chief Financial Officer Darlene Rodowicz said a single-payer system could increase administrative efficiency by instituting one main procedure for claims from the hospital.

"Having said that, these new programs could come with more reporting," she cautioned. "The benefit potential could be offset by the more information that could be needed."

Michael Leary, the facility's director of media relations, said Massachusetts is in a unique position, compared to the rest of the country, because of the four-year head start it got on health care reform.

"We already went through the growing pains," Leary said.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney signed health care reform into law in 2006, four years before former President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act — which was modeled on the Massachusetts system — into law in 2010.

Nobody wants to go back to the way things were before the state and federal bills, Rodocwicz said.

"We can't return to patients using the emergency room as primary care," she said.

Reach staff writer Eoin Higgins at 413-496-6236 or @BE_EoinHiggins.

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“Rep. Farley-Bouvier co-sponsors bill regulating driverless cars”
By Carrie Saldo , csaldo@berkshireeagle.com – The Berkshire Eagle, April 16, 2017

PITTSFIELD — State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier doesn't want the law chasing technology, again. But proposed legislation aimed at the autonomous car industry has some saying it puts the brakes on innovation.

Farley-Bouvier, a Pittsfield Democrat, co-sponsored legislation with Jason M. Lewis, D-5th Middlesex district, that would require that most autonomous — driverless — vehicles be zero-emission, limit how far they could drive without a passenger present, and collect data about the number of passengers and length of trips, among other things.

"This is really going to be a new dawn in the era of transportation," she said. "My point is that there is urgency here, we shouldn't wait a couple of terms before we do this."

Farley-Bouvier said she believes driverless cars will be on the roads within five years and she wants laws in place in advance of that.

"We don't want a repeat of what happened with Uber and Lyft," she said.

Ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft connect drivers and passengers in real time by pinpointing a phone's location and the nearest driver. Uber hit the streets first in 2009 and others have followed. But the state's first regulation of its drivers rolled out in January.

Earlier this month more than 8,200 drivers, of about 71,000 in the state, were taken off the road after it was found they had failed the state's new background check, according to the Boston Globe.

Her bill is one of several proposed laws about driverless vehicles discussed at a Joint Committee on Transportation hearing earlier this week at the Statehouse.

"Early efforts by Massachusetts have created a patchwork of inconsistent standards and frankly some very burdensome regulations," Damon Porter, director of state government affairs for Global Automakers told the committee.

Farley-Bouvier said she disagreed with that.

"You can't put out this brand new technology and have no regulation to it. It does not make sense at all," she said.

Farley-Bouvier explained the data collected under her proposed bill would help the state understand driving habits, which could inform future transportation policy decisions, such as the gas tax.

"The gas tax worked for decades, but we need to find a different way to do it," she said adding that if more people embrace electric vehicles the gas tax won't be as effective a way to put money in state coffers. Moving forward, Farley-Bouvier said zero-emission vehicle drivers would likely be charged based on the amount of driving they do — starting at 2.5 cents per mile.

Without any state laws related to driverless cars, Gov. Charlie Baker formed a working group that will consider laws and regulations. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the city of Boston have authorized nuTonomy to conduct testing in the city's Seaport neighborhood.

Reach staff writer Carrie Saldo at 413-496-6221 or @carriesaldo.

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About Me

My photo
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 jonathan_a_melle@yahoo.com

50th Anniversary - 2009

50th Anniversary - 2009
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Columbus Avenue in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Pittsfield Politics: Capitanio, Mazzeo agree on budget cuts, public safety

Pittsfield Politics: Capitanio, Mazzeo agree on budget cuts, public safety
Paul Capitanio, left, speaks during Monday night's Ward 3 City Council debate with fellow candidate Melissa Mazzeo at Pittsfield Community Television's studio. The special election (3/31/2009) will be held a week from today (3/24/2009). The local issues ranged from economic development and cleaning up blighted areas in Ward 3 to public education and the continued remediation of PCB's.

Red Sox v Yankees

Red Sox v Yankees
Go Red Sox!

Outrage swells in Congress!

Outrage swells in Congress!
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., left, and the committee's ranking Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., listen during a hearing on modernizing insurance regulations, Tuesday, March 17, 2009, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh). - http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20090318/pl_politico/30833

Beacon Hill's $pecial Interest Tax Raisers & $PENDERS!

Beacon Hill's $pecial Interest Tax Raisers & $PENDERS!
Photo Gallery: www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/03/15/St_Patricks_Day_Boston/

The path away from Wall Street ...

The path away from Wall Street ...
...Employers in the finance sector - traditionally a prime landing spot for college seniors, particularly in the Northeast - expect to have 71 percent fewer jobs to offer this year's (2009) graduates.

Economic collapse puts graduates on unforeseen paths: Enrollment in public service jobs rising...

Economic collapse puts graduates on unforeseen paths: Enrollment in public service jobs rising...
www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/03/14/economic_collapse_puts_graduates_on_unforeseen_paths/

Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis

Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis
Should he be fired? As Bank of America's Stock Plummets, CEO Resists Some Calls That He Step Down.

Hookers for Jesus

Hookers for Jesus
Annie Lobert is the founder of "Hookers for Jesus" - www.hookersforjesus.net/home.cfm - Saving Sin City: Las Vegas, Nevada?

Forever personalized stamped envelope

Forever personalized stamped envelope
The Forever stamp will continue to cover the price of a first-class letter. The USPS will also introduce Forever personalized, stamped envelopes. The envelopes will be preprinted with a Forever stamp, the sender's name and return address, and an optional personal message.

Purple Heart

Purple Heart
First issued in 2003, the Purple heart stamp will continue to honor the men and women wounded while serving in the US military. The Purple Heart stamp covers the cost of 44 cents for first-class, one-ounce mail.

Dolphin

Dolphin
The bottlenose is just one of the new animals set to appear on the price-change stamps. It will serve as a 64-cent stamp for odd shaped envelopes.

2009 price-change stamps

2009 price-change stamps
www.boston.com/business/gallery/2009pircechangestamps/ -&- www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2009/02/27/new_stamps_set_for_rate_increase_in_may/

Red Sox v Yankees

Red Sox v Yankees
Go Red Sox!

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama
AP photo v Shepard Fairey

Rush Limbaugh lackeys

Rush Limbaugh lackeys
Posted by Dan Wasserman of the Boston Globe on March 3, 2009.

Honest Abe

Honest Abe
A 2007 US Penny

Dog race

Dog race
Sledding for dogs

The Capital of the Constitution State

The Capital of the Constitution State
Hartford, once the wealthiest city in the United States but now the poorest in Connecticut, is facing an uphill battle.

Brady, Bundchen married

Brady, Bundchen married
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and model Gisele Bundchen wed Feb. 26, 2009 in a Catholic ceremony in Los Angeles. www.boston.com/ae/celebrity/gallery/tom_gisele/

Mayor Jimmy Ruberto

Mayor Jimmy Ruberto
Tanked Pittsfield's local economy while helping his fellow insider political hacks and business campaign contributors!

Journalist Andrew Manuse

Journalist Andrew Manuse
www.manuse.com

New Hampshire Supreme Court Building

New Hampshire Supreme Court Building
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Hampshire_Supreme_Court

Economic State of the Union

Economic State of the Union
A look at some of the economic conditions the Obama administration faces and what resources have already been pledged to help. 2/24/2009

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama
The president addresses the nation's governors during a dinner in the State Dinning Room, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009, at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari).

The Oscars - 2/22/2009.

The Oscars - 2/22/2009.
Hugh Jackman and Beyoncé Knowles teamed up for a musical medley during the show.

The 81st Academy Awards - Oscars - 2009

The 81st Academy Awards - Oscars - 2009
Hugh Jackman pulled actress Anne Hathaway on stage to accompany him during his opening musical number.

Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow
A Progressive News Commentator

$500,000 per year

$500,000 per year
That is chump change for the corporate elite!

THE CORPORATE ELITE...

THE CORPORATE ELITE...
Jeffrey R. Immelt, chairman and chief executive of General Electric

The Presidents' Club

The Presidents' Club
Bush, Obama, Bush Jr, Clinton & Carter.

5 Presidents: Bush, Obama, Bush Jr, Clinton, & Carter!

5 Presidents: Bush, Obama, Bush Jr, Clinton, & Carter!
White House Event: January 7, 2009.

Bank Bailout!

Bank Bailout!
v taxpayer

Actress Elizabeth Banks

Actress Elizabeth Banks
She will present an award to her hometown (Pittsfield) at the Massachusetts State House next month (1/2009). She recently starred in "W" and "Zack and Miri Make a Porno," and just signed a $1 million annual contract to be a spokesmodel for Paris.

Joanna Lipper

Joanna Lipper
Her award-winning 1999 documentary, "Growing Up Fast," about teenaged mothers in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Happy Holidays...

Happy Holidays...
...from "Star Wars"

Massachusetts "poor" economy

Massachusetts "poor" economy
Massachusetts is one of the wealthiest states, but it is also very inequitable. For example, it boasts the nation's most lucrative lottery, which is just a system of regressive taxation so that the corporate elite get to pay less in taxes!

Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon
Hollywood Actress

Peter G. Arlos.

Peter G. Arlos.
Arlos is shown in his Pittsfield office in early 2000.

Turnpike OK's hefty toll hikes

Turnpike OK's hefty toll hikes
Big Dig - East-west commuters take hit; Fees at tunnels would double. 11/15/2008.

The Pink Panther 2

The Pink Panther 2
Starring Steve Martin

Police ABUSE

Police ABUSE
I was a victim of Manchester Police Officer John Cunningham's ILLEGAL USES of FORCE! John Cunningham was reprimanded by the Chief of Police for disrespecting me. John Cunningham yelled at a witness: "I don't care if he (Jonathan Melle) is disabled!"

Barack Obama

Barack Obama
The 44th US President!

Vote

Vote
Elections

The Bailout & the economic stimulus check

The Bailout & the economic stimulus check
A political cartoon by Dan Wasserman

A rainbow over Boston

A rainbow over Boston
"Rainbows galore" 10/2/2008

Our nation's leaders!

Our nation's leaders!
President Bush with both John McCain & Barack Obama - 9/25/2008.

Massachusetts & Big Dig: Big hike in tolls for Pike looming (9/26/2008).

Massachusetts & Big Dig: Big hike in tolls for Pike looming (9/26/2008).
$5 rise at tunnels is one possibility $1 jump posed for elsewhere.

Mary E Carey

Mary E Carey
My FAVORITE Journalist EVER!

9/11/2008 - A Show of Unity!

9/11/2008 - A Show of Unity!
John McCain and Barack Obama appeared together at ground zero in New York City - September 11, 2008.

John McCain...

John McCain...
...has all but abandoned the positions on taxes, torture and immigration. (A cartoon by Dan Wasserman. September 2008).

Dan Wasserman

Dan Wasserman
The deregulated chickens come home to roost... in all our pocketbooks. September 2008.

Sarah Palin's phobia

Sarah Palin's phobia
A scripted candidate! (A cartoon by Dan Wasserman).

Dan Wasserman

Dan Wasserman
Family FInances - September, 2008.

Mark E. Roy

Mark E. Roy
Ward 1 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Theodore “Ted” L. Gatsas

Theodore “Ted” L. Gatsas
Ward 2 Alderman (& NH State Senator) for Manchester, NH (2008).

Peter M. Sullivan

Peter M. Sullivan
Ward 3 (downtown) Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Jim Roy

Jim Roy
Ward 4 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Ed Osborne

Ed Osborne
Ward 5 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Real R. Pinard

Real R. Pinard
Ward 6 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

William P. Shea

William P. Shea
Ward 7 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Betsi DeVries

Betsi DeVries
Ward 8 Alder-woman (& NH State Senator) for Manchester, NH (2008).

Michael Garrity

Michael Garrity
Ward 9 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

George Smith

George Smith
Ward 10 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Russ Ouellette

Russ Ouellette
Ward 11 Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Kelleigh (Domaingue) Murphy

Kelleigh (Domaingue) Murphy
Ward 12 Alder-woman for Manchester, NH (2008).

“Mike” Lopez

“Mike” Lopez
At-Large Alderman for Manchester, NH. (2008).

Daniel P. O’Neil

Daniel P. O’Neil
At-Large Alderman for Manchester, NH (2008).

Sarah Palin for Vice President.

Sarah Palin for Vice President.
Republican John McCain made the surprise pick of Alaska's governor Sarah Palin as his running mate today, August 29, 2008.

U.S. Representative John Olver, D-Amherst, Massachusetts.

U.S. Representative John Olver, D-Amherst, Massachusetts.
Congressman Olver said the country has spent well over a half-trillion dollars on the war in Iraq while the situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate. 8/25/08.

Ed O'Reilly for US Senate in Massachusetts!

Ed O'Reilly for US Senate in Massachusetts!
John Kerry's 9/2008 challenger in the Democratic Primary.

Shays' Rebellion

Shays' Rebellion
In a tax revolt, Massachusetts farmers fought back during Shays' Rebellion in the mid-1780s after The American Revolutionary War.

Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore
Actress. "The Big Lebowski" is one of my favorite movies. I also like "The Fugitive", too.

Rinaldo Del Gallo III & "Superman"

Rinaldo Del Gallo III & "Superman"
Go to: http://www.berkshirefatherhood.com/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=699&cntnt01returnid=69

"Income chasm widening in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts"

"Income chasm widening in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts"
The gap between rich and poor has widened substantially in Massachusetts over the past two decades. (8/15/2008).

Dan "Bureaucrat" Bosley

Dan "Bureaucrat" Bosley
"The Bosley Amendment": To create tax loopholes for the wealthiest corporate interests in Massachusetts!

John Edwards and...

John Edwards and...
...Rielle Hunter. WHO CARES?!

Rep. Edward J. Markey

Rep. Edward J. Markey
He wants online-privacy legislation. Some Web Firms Say They Track Behavior Without Explicit Consent.

Cindy Sheehan

Cindy Sheehan
She gained fame with her antiwar vigil outside the Bush ranch.

Olympics kick off in Beijing

Olympics kick off in Beijing
Go USA!

Exxon Mobil 2Q profit sets US record, shares fall

Exxon Mobil 2Q profit sets US record, shares fall
In this May 1, 2008, file photo, a customer pumps gas at an Exxon station in Middleton, Mass. Exxon Mobil Corp. reported second-quarter earnings of $11.68 billion Thursday, July 31, the biggest quarterly profit ever by any U.S. corporation, but the results were well short of Wall Street expectations and its shares fell as markets opened. (AP Photo/Lisa Poole, File) 7/31/2008.

Onota Lake 'Sea Serpent'

Onota Lake 'Sea Serpent'
Some kind of monster on Onota Lake. Five-year-old Tyler Smith rides a 'sea serpent' on Onota Lake in Pittsfield, Mass. The 'monster,' fashioned by Smith's grandfather, first appeared over July 4 weekend. (Photo courtesy of Ron Smith). 7/30/2008.

Al Gore, Jr.

Al Gore, Jr.
Al Gore issues challenge on energy

The Norman Rockwell Museum

The Norman Rockwell Museum
Stockbridge, Massachusetts

"Big Dig"

"Big Dig"
Boston's financially wasteful pork barrel project!

"Big Dig"

"Big Dig"
Boston's pork barrel public works project cost 50 times more than the original price!

Mary E Carey

Mary E Carey
My favorite journalist EVER!

U.S. Rep. John Olver, state Sen. Stan Rosenberg and Selectwomen Stephanie O'Keeffe and Alisa Brewer

U.S. Rep. John Olver, state Sen. Stan Rosenberg and Selectwomen Stephanie O'Keeffe and Alisa Brewer
Note: Photo from Mary E Carey's Blog.

Tanglewood

Tanglewood
Boston Symphony Orchestra music director James Levine.

Google

Google
Chagall

Jimmy Ruberto

Jimmy Ruberto
Faces multiple persecutions under the Massachusetts "Ethics" conflict of interest laws.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama
Obama vows $500m in faith-based aid.

John McCain

John McCain
He is with his wife, Cindy, who were both met by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe (right) upon arriving in Cartagena.

Daniel Duquette

Daniel Duquette
Sold Mayor James M. Ruberto of Pittsfield two tickets to the 2004 World Series at face value.

Hillary & Barack in Unity, NH - 6/27/2008

Hillary & Barack in Unity, NH - 6/27/2008
Clinton tells Obama, crowd in Unity, N.H.: 'We are one party'

John Forbes Kerry

John Forbes Kerry
Wanna-be Prez?

WALL-E

WALL-E
"out of this World"

Crisis in the Congo - Ben Affleck

Crisis in the Congo - Ben Affleck
http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/popup?id=5057139&contentIndex=1&page=1&start=false - http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/story?id=5234555&page=1

Jeanne Shaheen

Jeanne Shaheen
NH's Democratic returning candidate for U.S. Senate

"Wall-E"

"Wall-E"
a cool robot

Ed O'Reilly

Ed O'Reilly
www.edoreilly.com

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
World Champions - 2008

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
J.D. Drew gets the same welcome whenever he visits the City of Brotherly Love: "Booooooo!"; Drew has been vilified in Philadelphia since refusing to sign with the Phillies after they drafted him in 1997...

Joe Kelly Levasseur & Joe Briggs

Joe Kelly Levasseur & Joe Briggs
www.2joes.org

NH Union Leader

NH Union Leader
Editorial Cartoon

Celtics - World Champions!

Celtics - World Champions!
www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/gallery/06_18_08_front_pages/ - www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/gallery/06_17_08_finals_game_6/ - www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/gallery/06_17_08_celebration/ - www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/gallery/06_15_08_celtics_championships/

"The Nation"

"The Nation"
A "Liberal" weekly political news magazine. Katrina vanden Heuvel.

TV - PBS: NOW

TV - PBS: NOW
http://www.pbs.org/now

The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone
List of Twilight Zone episodes - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Twilight_Zone_episodes

Equality for ALL Marriages

Equality for ALL Marriages
I, Jonathan Melle, am a supporter of same sex marriages.

Kobe Bryant leads his time to a Game 5 victory.

Kobe Bryant leads his time to a Game 5 victory.
L.A. Lakers holds on for the win to force Game 6 at Boston

Mohawk Trail

Mohawk Trail
The 'Hail to the Sunrise' statue in Charlemont is a well-known and easily recognized landmark on the Mohawk Trail. The trail once boasted several souvenir shops, some with motels and restaurants. Now only four remain. (Caroline Bonnivier / Berkshire Eagle Staff).

NASA - June 14, 2008

NASA - June 14, 2008
Space Shuttle Discovery returns to Earth.

Go Celtics! Game # 4 of the 2008 NBA Finals.

Go Celtics! Game # 4 of the 2008 NBA Finals.
Boston took a 20-second timeout, and the Celtics ran off four more points (including this incredible Erving-esque layup from Ray Allen) to build the lead to five points with just 2:10 remaining. Reeling, the Lakers took a full timeout to try to regain their momentum.

Sal DiMasi

Sal DiMasi
Speaker of the Massachusetts State House of Representatives

Kelly Ayotte - Attorney General of New Hampshire

Kelly Ayotte - Attorney General of New Hampshire
http://doj.nh.gov/

John Kerry

John Kerry
He does not like grassroots democracy & being challenged in the 2008 Massachusetts Democratic Party Primary for re-election.

Tim Murray

Tim Murray
Corrupt Lt. Gov. of Massachusetts, 2007 - 2013.

North Adams, Massachusetts

North Adams, Massachusetts
downtown

Howie Carr

Howie Carr
Political Satirist on Massachusetts Corruption/Politics

Polar Bear

Polar Bear
Global Warming

Elizabeth Warren - Web-Site Links

Elizabeth Warren - Web-Site Links
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Warren & http://www.creditslips.org/creditslips/WarrenAuthor.html

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren
Consumer Crusader

Leon Powe

Leon Powe
Celtics forward Leon Powe finished a fast break with a dunk.

Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett reacted during the game.

Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo finished a first half fast break with a dunk.

Teamwork

Teamwork
Los Angeles Lakers teammates help Pau Gasol (16) from the floor in the second quarter.

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant took a shot in the first half of Game 2.

Kendrick Perkins

Kendrick Perkins
Kendrick Perkins (right) backed down Lamar Odom (left) during first half action.

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
The Boston Symphony Orchestra performed the national anthem prior to Game 2.

K.G.!

K.G.!
Garnett reacted to a hard dunk in the first quarter.

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce reacted after hitting a three upon his return to the game since leaving with an injury.

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
Kobe Bryant (left) and Paul Pierce (right) squared off in the second half of the game.

James Taylor

James Taylor
Sings National Anthem at Celtics Game.

John Forbes Kerry & Deval Patrick

John Forbes Kerry & Deval Patrick
Attended Celtics Game.

Greats of the NBA: Dr. J, Bill Russell, & Kareem!

Greats of the NBA: Dr. J, Bill Russell, & Kareem!
Attend Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals.

Bruce Willis

Bruce Willis
The actor (left) and his date were in the crowd before the Celtics game.

John Kerry

John Kerry
Golddigger attends Celtics game

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton
Ends her 2008 bid for Democratic Party nomination

Nonnie Burnes

Nonnie Burnes
Massachusetts Insurance Commish & former Judge

Jones Library

Jones Library
Amherst, Massachusetts

Barack Obama & Hillary Clinton

Barack Obama & Hillary Clinton
2008 Democratic Primary

"US vs Exxon and Halliburton"

"US vs Exxon and Halliburton"
U.S. Senator John Sununu took more than $220,000 from big oil.

Jeanne Shaheen

Jeanne Shaheen
4- U.S. Senate - 2008

William Pignatelli

William Pignatelli
Hack Rep. "Smitty" with Lynne Blake

Ben Bernanke

Ben Bernanke
Federal Reserve Chairman

Gazettenet.com

Gazettenet.com
www.gazettenet.com/beta/

Boys' & Girls' Club

Boys' & Girls' Club
Melville Street, Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Denis Guyer

Denis Guyer
Dalton State Representative

The Berkshire Eagle

The Berkshire Eagle
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Carmen Massimiano

Carmen Massimiano
Williams College - May 2008

Larry Bird & Magic Johnson

Larry Bird & Magic Johnson
www.boston.com/lifestyle/gallery/when_the_celtics_were_cool/

Regressive Taxation! via State Lotteries

Regressive Taxation! via State Lotteries
New Massachusetts state lottery game hits $600 million in sales!

Andrea Nuciforo

Andrea Nuciforo
"Luciforo"

John Barrett III

John Barrett III
Long-time Mayor of North Adams Massachusetts

Shine On

Shine On

Elmo

Elmo
cool!

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce kissed the Eastern Conference trophy. 5/30/2008. AP Photo.

Kevin Garnett & Richard Hamilton

Kevin Garnett & Richard Hamilton
Kevin Garnett (left) talked to Pistons guard Richard Hamilton (right) after the Celtics' victory in Game 6. 5/30/2008. Reuters Photo.

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce showed his team colors as the Celtics closed out the Pistons in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. 5/30/2008. Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis.

Joseph Kelly Levasseur

Joseph Kelly Levasseur
One of my favorite politicians!

Mary E Carey

Mary E Carey
In the Big Apple: NYC! She is the coolest!

Guyer & Kerry

Guyer & Kerry
My 2nd least favorite picture EVER!

Mary Carey

Mary Carey
My favorite journalist EVER!

Nuciforo & Ruberto

Nuciforo & Ruberto
My least favorite picture EVER!

Jeanne Shaheen

Jeanne Shaheen
U.S. Senate - 2008

NH Fisher Cats

NH Fisher Cats
AA Baseball - Toronto Blue Jays affiliate

Manchester, NH

Manchester, NH
Police Patch

Michael Briggs

Michael Briggs
#83 - We will never forget

Michael "Stix" Addison

Michael "Stix" Addison
http://unionleader.com/channel.aspx/News?channel=2af17ff4-f73b-4c44-9f51-092e828e1131

Charlie Gibson

Charlie Gibson
ABC News anchor

Scott McClellan

Scott McClellan
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/scott_mcclellan/index.html?inline=nyt-per

Boise, Idaho

Boise, Idaho
Downtown Boise Idaho

John Forbes Kerry

John Forbes Kerry
Legislative Hearing in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, BCC, on Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson
My favorite classical U.S. President!

NH Governor John Lynch

NH Governor John Lynch
Higher Taxes, Higher Tolls

Paul Hodes

Paul Hodes
My favorite Congressman!

Portland Sea Dogs

Portland Sea Dogs
AA Red Sox

New York

New York
Magnet

Massachusetts

Massachusetts
Magnet

New Hampshire

New Hampshire
Magnet

New Hampshire

New Hampshire
Button

Carmen Massimiano

Carmen Massimiano
"Luciforo" tried to send me to Carmen's Jail during the Spring & Summer of 1998.

Kay Khan - Massachusetts State Representative

Kay Khan - Massachusetts State Representative
www.openmass.org/members/show/174

Luciforo

Luciforo
Andrea F Nuciforo II

B-Eagle

B-Eagle
Pittsfield's monopoly/only daily newspaper

Jon Lester - Go Red Sox!

Jon Lester - Go Red Sox!
A Red Sox No Hitter on 5/19/2008!

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Dustin Pedroia & Manny Ramirez

U.S. Flag

U.S. Flag
God Bless America!

Jonathan Melle's Blog

Jonathan Melle's Blog
Hello, Everyone!

Molly Bish

Molly Bish
We will never forget!

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
Celtics guard Rajon Rondo listens to some advice from Celtics head coach Doc Rivers in the first half.

Go Celtics!

Go Celtics!
Celtics forward Kevin Garnett and Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace embrace at the end of the game.

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon calls for the ball as he charges toward first base. Papelbon made the out en route to picking up his 14th save of the season.

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Red Sox starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka throws to Royals David DeJesus during the first inning.

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka delivers a pitch to Royals second baseman Mark Grudzielanek during the second inning.

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Red Sox right fielder J.D. Drew is welcomed to home plate by teammates Mike Lowell (left), Kevin Youkilis (2nd left) and Manny Ramirez after he hit a grand slam in the second inning.

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!
Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell crosses the plate after hitting a grand slam during the sixth inning. Teammates Manny Ramirez and Jacoby Ellsbury scored on the play. The Red Sox went on to win 11-8 to complete a four-game sweep and perfect homestand.

JD Drew - Go Red Sox

JD Drew - Go Red Sox
www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/gallery/05_22_08_sox_royals/

Thank you for serving; God Bless America!

Thank you for serving; God Bless America!
Master Sgt. Kara B. Stackpole, of Westfield, holds her daughter, Samantha, upon her return today to Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee. She is one of the 38 members of the 439th Aeromedical Staging Squadron who returned after a 4-month deployment in Iraq. Photo by Dave Roback / The Republican.

Kathi-Anne Reinstein

Kathi-Anne Reinstein
www.openmass.org/members/show/175

Ted Kennedy

Ted Kennedy
Tragic diagnosis: Get well Senator!

Google doodle - Jonathan Melle Internet search

Google doodle - Jonathan Melle Internet search
http://blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch?hl=en&q=jonathan+melle+blogurl:http://jonathanmelleonpolitics.blogspot.com/&ie=UTF-8

John Forbes Kerry

John Forbes Kerry
Billionaire U.S. Senator gives address to MCLA graduates in North Adams, Massachusetts in mid-May 2008

Andrea Nuciforo

Andrea Nuciforo
"Luciforo"

A Red Sox Fan in Paris, France

A Red Sox Fan in Paris, France
Go Red Sox!

Rinaldo Del Gallo III

Rinaldo Del Gallo III
Interviewed on local TV

Andrea Nuciforo

Andrea Nuciforo
Luciforo!

John Adams

John Adams
#2 U.S. President

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I stood under a tree on the afternoon of May 9, 2008, on the foregrounds of the NH State House - www.websitetoolbox.com/tool/post/nhinsider/vpost?id=2967773

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Inside the front lobby of the NH State House

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Bill Clinton campaign memorabilia

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Liberty Bell & NH State House

Jon Keller

Jon Keller
Boston based political analyst

Jon Keller

Jon Keller
Boston based political analyst

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Franklin Pierce Statue #14 U.S. President

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
NH State House

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Stop the War NOW!

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
"Mr. Melle, tear down this Blog!"

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I stood next to a JFK photo

Jonathan Levine, Publisher

Jonathan Levine, Publisher
The Pittsfield Gazette Online

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I made rabbit ears with John & George

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I made antenna ears with John & George

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
I impersonated Howard Dean

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
mock-voting

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
pretty ladies -/- Go to: http://www.wgir.com/cc-common/cc_photopop20.html?eventID=28541&pagecontent=&pagenum=4 - Go to: http://current.com/items/88807921_veterans_should_come_first_not_last# - http://www.mcam23.com/cgi-bin/cutter.cgi?c_function=STREAM?c_feature=EDIT?dir_catagory=10MorningRadio?dir_folder=2JoesClips?dir_file=JonathanMelle-090308? -

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Go Red Sox! Me at Fenway Park

Mary E. Carey

Mary E. Carey
My favorite journalist! Her voice sings for the Voiceless. -/- Go to: http://aboutamherst.blogspot.com/search?q=melle -/- Go to: http://ongeicocaveman.blogspot.com/search?q=melle

Velvet Jesus

Velvet Jesus
Mary Carey blogs about my political writings. This is a picture of Jesus from her childhood home in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. -//- "How Can I Keep From Singing" : My life goes on in endless song / Above Earth's lamentations, / I hear the real, though far-off hymn / That hails a new creation. / / Through all the tumult and the strife / I hear its music ringing, / It sounds an echo in my soul. / How can I keep from singing? / / Whey tyrants tremble in their fear / And hear their death knell ringing, / When friends rejoice both far and near / How can I keep from singing? / / In prison cell and dungeon vile / Our thoughts to them are winging / When friends by shame are undefiled / How can I keep from singing?

www.truthdig.com

www.truthdig.com
www.truthdig.com

Jonathan Melle

Jonathan Melle
Concord NH

The Huffington Post

The Huffington Post
http://fundrace.huffingtonpost.com/neighbors.php?type=loc&newest=1&addr=&zip=01201&search=Search

Barack Obama

Barack Obama
smiles & beer

Jonathan Lothrop

Jonathan Lothrop
A Pittsfield City Councilor

Michael L. Ward

Michael L. Ward
A Pittsfield City Councilor

Peter Marchetti - Pittsfield's City Councilor at Large

Peter Marchetti - Pittsfield's City Councilor at Large
Pete always sides with the wealthy's political interests.

Gerald Lee - Pittsfield's City Council Prez

Gerald Lee - Pittsfield's City Council Prez
Gerald Lee told me that I am a Social Problem; Lee executes a top-down system of governance.

Matt Kerwood - Pittsfield's Councilor at Large

Matt Kerwood - Pittsfield's Councilor at Large
Kerwood poured coffee drinks for Jane Swift

Louis Costi

Louis Costi
Pittsfield City Councilor

Lewis Markham

Lewis Markham
Pittsfield City Councilor

Kevin Sherman - Pittsfield City Councilor

Kevin Sherman - Pittsfield City Councilor
Sherman ran for Southern Berkshire State Rep against Smitty Pignatelli; Sherman is a good guy.

Anthony Maffuccio

Anthony Maffuccio
Pittsfield City Councilor

Linda Tyer

Linda Tyer
Pittsfield City Councilor

Daniel Bianchi

Daniel Bianchi
A Pittsfield City Councilor

The Democratic Donkey

The Democratic Donkey
Democratic Party Symbol

Paramount

Paramount
What is Paramount to you?

NH's Congresswoman

NH's Congresswoman
Carol Shea-Porter, Democrat

Sam Adams Beer

Sam Adams Beer
Boston Lager

Ratatouille

Ratatouille
Disney Animation

Ruberto Details Plans for Success - January 07, 2008

Ruberto Details Plans for Success - January 07, 2008
"Luciforo" swears in Mayor Ruberto. Pittsfield Politics at its very worst: 2 INSIDER POWERBROKERS! Where is Carmen Massimiano? He must be off to the side.

Abe

Abe
Lincoln

Optimus Prime

Optimus Prime
Leader of the Autobots

Optimus Prime

Optimus Prime
1984 Autobot Transformer Leader

Cleanup Agreements - GE & Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites

Cleanup Agreements - GE & Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites
www.epa.gov/region1/ge/cleanupagreement.html

GE/Housatonic River Site: Introduction

GE/Housatonic River Site: Introduction
www.epa.gov/region1/ge/

GE/Housatonic River Site - Reports

GE/Housatonic River Site - Reports
www.epa.gov/region1/ge/thesite/opca-reports.html

US EPA - Contact - Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites

US EPA - Contact -  Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites
www.epa.gov/region1/ge/contactinfo.html

GE Corporate Logo - Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites

GE Corporate Logo - Pittsfield's PCBs toxic waste sites
www.epa.gov/region1/ge/index.html

Commonwealth Connector

Commonwealth Connector
Commonwealth Care

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
Healthcare Reform

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
Healthcare Reform

Network Health Forward - A Commonwealth Care Plan

Network Health Forward - A Commonwealth Care Plan
Massachusetts Health Reform

Network Health Together: A MassHealth Plan - Commonwealth Care

Network Health Together: A MassHealth Plan - Commonwealth Care
Massachusetts Health Reform

www.network-health.org

www.network-health.org
Massachusetts Health Reform

Neighborhood Health Plan - Commonwealth Care

Neighborhood Health Plan - Commonwealth Care
Massachusetts Health Reform

Fallon Community Health Plan - Commonwealth Care

Fallon Community Health Plan - Commonwealth Care
Massachusetts Health Reform

BMC HealthNet Plan

BMC HealthNet Plan
Massachusetts Health Reform

Massachusetts Health Reform

Massachusetts Health Reform
Eligibility Chart: 2007

Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare

Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare
Massachusetts Health Reform

Business Peaks

Business Peaks
Voodoo Economics

Laffer Curve - Corporate Elite

Laffer Curve - Corporate Elite
Reagonomics: Supply Side

Corporate Elite Propaganda

Corporate Elite Propaganda
Mock Liberal Democratic Socialism Thinking

Real Estate Blues

Real Estate Blues
www.boston.com/bostonglobe/magazine/2008/0316/

PEACE

PEACE
End ALL Wars!

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of Speech
Norman Rockwell's World War II artwork depicting America's values

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln
A young Abe Lincoln

RACHEL KAPRIELIAN

RACHEL KAPRIELIAN
www.openmass.org/members/show/218 - www.rachelkaprielian.com

Jennifer M. Callahan - Massachusetts State Representative

Jennifer M. Callahan - Massachusetts State Representative
www.openmass.org/members/show/164 - www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/05/04/legislator_describes_threat_as_unnerving/

Human Rights for ALL Peoples!

Human Rights for ALL Peoples!
My #1 Political Belief!

Anne Frank

Anne Frank
Amsterdam, Netherlands, Europe

A young woman Hillary supporter

A young woman Hillary supporter
This excellent picture captures a youth's excitement

Hillary Clinton with Natalie Portman

Hillary Clinton with Natalie Portman
My favorite Actress!

Alan Chartock

Alan Chartock
WAMC public radio in Albany, NY; Political columnist who writes about Berkshire County area politics; Strong supporter for Human Rights for ALL Peoples

OpenCongress.Org

OpenCongress.Org
This web-site uses some of my Blog postings

OpenMass.org

OpenMass.org
This web-site uses some of my blog postings!

Shannon O'Brien

Shannon O'Brien
One of my favorite politicians! She stands for the People first!

The Massachusetts State House

The Massachusetts State House
"The Almighty Golden Dome" - www.masslegislature.tv -

Sara Hathaway

Sara Hathaway
Former Mayor of Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.

Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.
A corrupt Pol who tried to put me in Jail

Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.

Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.
Another view of Pittsfield's inbred, multigenerational political prince. Luciforo!

Luciforo

Luciforo
Nuciforo's nickname

"Andy" Nuciforo

"Andy" Nuciforo
Luciforo!

Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr., Berkshire County Sheriff (Jailer)

Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr., Berkshire County Sheriff (Jailer)
Nuciforo's henchman! Nuciforo tried to send me to Carmen's Jail

Andrea Nuciforo Jr

Andrea Nuciforo Jr
Shhh! Luciforo's other job is working as a private attorney defending wealthy Boston-area corporate insurance companies

Berkshire County Sheriff (Jailer) Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr.

Berkshire County Sheriff (Jailer) Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr.
Nuciforo tried to send me to Carmen's Jail! Carmen sits with the Congressman, John Olver

Congressman John Olver

Congressman John Olver
Nuciforo's envy

The Dome of the U.S. Capitol

The Dome of the U.S. Capitol
Our Beacon of American Democracy

Nuciforo's architect

Nuciforo's architect
Mary O'Brien in red with scarf

Sara Hathaway (www.brynmawr.edu)

Sara Hathaway (www.brynmawr.edu)
Former-Mayor of Pittsfield, Massachusetts; Nuciforo intimidated her, along with another woman, from running in a democratic state election in the Spring of 2006!

Andrea F. Nuciforo II

Andrea F. Nuciforo II
Pittsfield Politics

Berkshire County Republican Association

Berkshire County Republican Association
Go to: www.fcgop.blogspot.com

Denis Guyer

Denis Guyer
Dalton State Representative

John Forbes Kerry & Denis Guyer

John Forbes Kerry & Denis Guyer
U.S. Senator & State Representative

John Kerry

John Kerry
Endorses Barack Obama for Prez then visits Berkshire County

Dan Bosley

Dan Bosley
A Bureaucrat impostering as a Legislator!

Ben Downing

Ben Downing
Berkshire State Senator

Christopher N Speranzo

Christopher N Speranzo
Pittsfield's ANOINTED State Representative

Peter J. Larkin

Peter J. Larkin
Corrupt Lobbyist

GE - Peter Larkin's best friend!

GE - Peter Larkin's best friend!
GE's FRAUDULENT Consent Decree with Pittsfield, Massachusetts, will end up KILLING many innocent school children & other local residents!

GE's CEO Jack Welch

GE's CEO Jack Welch
The Corporate System's Corporate Elite's King

Economics: Where Supply meets Demand

Economics: Where Supply meets Demand
Equilibrium

GE & Pittsfield, Massachusetts

GE & Pittsfield, Massachusetts
In 2007, GE sold its Plastics Division to a Saudi company. Now all that is left over by GE are its toxic PCB pollutants that cause cancer in many Pittsfield residents.

Mayor James M Ruberto

Mayor James M Ruberto
A small-time pol chooses to serve the corporate elite & other elites over the people.

Governor Deval Patrick

Governor Deval Patrick
Deval shakes hands with Mayors in Berkshire County

Deval Patrick

Deval Patrick
Governor of Massachusetts

Pittsfield High School

Pittsfield High School
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Sara Hathaway

Sara Hathaway
Pittsfield's former Mayor

Rinaldo Del Gallo III

Rinaldo Del Gallo III
Pittsfield Attorney focusing on Father's Rights Probate Court Legal Issues, & Local Politician and Political Observer

Rinaldo Del Gallo III

Rinaldo Del Gallo III
Very Intelligent Political Activists in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Rinaldo Del Gallo, III, Esq. is the spokesperson of the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition. He has been practicing family law and has been a member of the Massachusetts bar since 1996.

Mayor Ed Reilly

Mayor Ed Reilly
He supports Mayor Ruberto & works as a municipal Attorney. As Mayor, he backed Bill Weld for Governor in 1994, despite being a Democrat. He was joined by Carmen Massimiano & John Barrett III, the long-standing Mayor of North Adams.

Manchester, NH Mayor Frank Guinta

Manchester, NH Mayor Frank Guinta
Cuts Dental Care for Public School Children-in-Need

Manchester, NH City Hall

Manchester, NH City Hall
My new hometown - view from Hanover St. intersection with Elm St.

Manchester NH City Democrats

Manchester NH City Democrats
Go Dems!

2008 Democratic Candidates for U.S. Prez

2008 Democratic Candidates for U.S. Prez
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, John Edwards

NH State House Dome

NH State House Dome
Concord, NH

Donna Walto

Donna Walto
Pittsfield Politician -- She strongly opposes Mayor Jim Ruberto's elitist tenure.

Elmo

Elmo
Who doesn't LOVE Elmo?

Hillary Clinton for U.S. President!

Hillary Clinton for U.S. President!
Hillary is for Children. She is my choice in 2008.

The White House in 1800

The White House in 1800
Home of our Presidents of the United States

John Adams

John Adams
2nd President of the USA

Hillary Clinton stands with John Edwards and Joe Biden

Hillary Clinton stands with John Edwards and Joe Biden
Hillary is my choice for U.S. President!

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton
Former President Bill Clinton speaks at the Radisson in Manchester NH 11/16/2007

Barack Obama

Barack Obama
U.S. Senator & Candidate for President

Pittsfield's 3 Women City Councillors - 2004

Pittsfield's 3 Women City Councillors - 2004
Linda Tyer, Pam Malumphy, Tricia Farley-Bouvier

Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Massachusetts
My friend Brian Merzbach reviews baseball parks around the nation.

The Corporate Elite: Rational Incentives for only the wealthy

The Corporate Elite: Rational Incentives for only the wealthy
The Elites double their $ every 6 to 8 years, while the "have-nots" double their $ every generation (or 24 years). Good bye Middle Class!

George Will

George Will
The human satellite voice for the Corporate Elite

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren
The Anti-George Will; Harvard Law School Professor; The Corporate Elite's Worst Nightmare

The Flag of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

The Flag of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
I was born and raised in Pittsfield, Massachusetts

State Senator Stan Rosenberg

State Senator Stan Rosenberg
Democratic State Senator from Amherst, Massachusetts -/- Anti-Stan Rosenberg Blog: rosenbergwatch.blogspot.com

Ellen Story

Ellen Story
Amherst Massachusetts' State Representative

Teen Pregnancy in Pittsfield, Mass.

Teen Pregnancy in Pittsfield, Mass.
Books are being written on Pittsfield's high teen pregancy rates! What some intellectuals do NOT understand about the issue is that TEEN PREGNANCIES in Pittsfield double the statewide average by design - Perverse Incentives!

NH Governor John Lynch

NH Governor John Lynch
Supports $30 Scratch Tickets and other forms of regressive taxation. Another Pol that only serves his Corporate Elite Masters instead of the People!

U.S. Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter

U.S. Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter
The first woman whom the People of New Hampshire have voted in to serve in U.S. Congress

U.S. Congressman Paul Hodes

U.S. Congressman Paul Hodes
A good man who wants to bring progressive changes to Capitol Hill!

Paul Hodes for U.S. Congress

Paul Hodes for U.S. Congress
New Hampshire's finest!

Darth Vader

Darth Vader
Star Wars

Dick Cheney & George W. Bush

Dick Cheney & George W. Bush
The Gruesome Two-some! Stop the Neo-Cons' fascism! End the Iraq War NOW!

WAROPOLY

WAROPOLY
The Inequity of Globalism

Bushopoly!

Bushopoly!
The Corporate Elite have redesigned "The System" to enrich themselves at the expense of the people, masses, have-nots, poor & middle-class families

George W. Bush with Karl Rove

George W. Bush with Karl Rove
Rove was a political strategist with extraordinary influence within the Bush II White House

2008's Republican Prez-field

2008's Republican Prez-field
John McCain, Alan Keyes, Rudy Guiliani, Duncan Hunter, Mike Huckabee, WILLARD Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, Ron Paul

Fall in New England

Fall in New England
Autumn is my favorite season

Picturing America

Picturing America
picturingamerica.neh.gov

Winter Weather Map

Winter Weather Map
3:45PM EST 3-Dec-07

Norman Rockwell Painting

Norman Rockwell Painting
Thanksgiving

Norman Rockwell Painting

Norman Rockwell Painting
Depiction of American Values in mid-20th Century America

Larry Bird #33

Larry Bird #33
My favorite basketball player of my childhood

Boston Celtics Basketball - 2007-2008

Boston Celtics Basketball - 2007-2008
Kevin Garnett hugs James Posey

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce
All heart! Awesome basketball star for The Boston Celtics.

Tom Brady

Tom Brady
Go Patriots!

Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch
Owner of Fox News - CORPORATE ELITE!

George Stephanopolous

George Stephanopolous
A Corporate Elite Political News Analyst

Robert Redford

Robert Redford
Starred in the movie "Lions for Lambs"

Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep
Plays a jaded journalist with integrity in the movie "Lions for Lambs"

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise plays the Neo-Con D.C. Pol purely indoctrinated by the Corporate Elite's political agenda in the Middle East

CHARLIZE THERON

CHARLIZE THERON
"I want to say I've never been surrounded by so many fake breasts, but I went to the Academy Awards."

Amherst Town Library

Amherst Town Library
Amherst, NH - www.amherstlibrary.org

Manchester NH Library

Manchester NH Library
I use the library's automated timed 1-hour-per-day Internet computers to post on my Blog - www.manchester.lib.nh.us

Manchester NH's Palace Theater

Manchester NH's Palace Theater
Manchester NH decided to restore its Palace Theater

Pittsfield's Palace Theater

Pittsfield's Palace Theater
Pittsfield tore down this landmark on North Street in favor of a parking lot

Pleasant Street Theater

Pleasant Street Theater
Amherst, Massachusetts

William "Shitty" Pignatelli

William "Shitty" Pignatelli
A top down & banal State House Pol from Lenox Massachusetts -- A GOOD MAN!

The CIA & Mind Control

The CIA & Mind Control
Did the CIA murder people by proxy assassins?

Skull & Bones

Skull & Bones
Yale's Elite

ImpeachBush.org

ImpeachBush.org
I believe President Bush should be IMPEACHED because he is waging an illegal and immoral war against Iraq!

Bob Feuer drumming for U.S. Congress v John Olver in 2008

Bob Feuer drumming for U.S. Congress v John Olver in 2008
www.blog.bobfeuer.us

Abe Lincoln

Abe Lincoln
The 16th President of the USA

Power

Power
Peace

Global Warming Mock Giant Thermometer

Global Warming Mock Giant Thermometer
A member of Green Peace activist sets up a giant thermometer as a symbol of global warming during their campaign in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2007. World leaders launch marathon negotiations Monday on how to fight global warming, which left unchecked could cause devastating sea level rises, send millions further into poverty and lead to the mass extinction of plants and animals.

combat global warming...

combat global warming...
...or risk economic and environmental disaster caused by rising temperatures

www.climatecrisiscoalition.org

www.climatecrisiscoalition.org
P.O. Box 125, South Lee, MA 01260, (413) 243-5665, tstokes@kyotoandbeyond.org, www.kyotoandbeyond.org

3 Democratic presidentional candidates

3 Democratic presidentional candidates
Democratic presidential candidates former senator John Edwards (from right) and Senators Joe Biden and Chris Dodd before the National Public Radio debate yesterday (12/4/2007).

The UN Seal

The UN Seal
An archaic & bureaucratic post WW2 top-down, non-democratic institution that also stands for some good governance values

Superman

Superman
One of my favorite childhood heroes and movies

Web-Site on toxic toys

Web-Site on toxic toys
www.healthytoys.org

Batman

Batman
One of my favorite super-heroes

Deval Patrick & Denis Guyer

Deval Patrick & Denis Guyer
Massachusetts' Governor stands with Dalton's State Rep. Denis E. Guyer.

Bill Cosby & Denis Guyer

Bill Cosby & Denis Guyer
TV Star Bill Cosby stands with Denis E. Guyer

Denis Guyer with his supporters

Denis Guyer with his supporters
Dalton State Representative

Denis Guyer goes to college

Denis Guyer goes to college
Dalton State Representative

Peter Marchetti

Peter Marchetti
He is my second cousin. Pete Marchetti favors MONEY, not fairness!

Matt Barron & Denis Guyer with couple

Matt Barron & Denis Guyer with couple
Matt Barron plays DIRTY politics against his opponents!

Nat Karns

Nat Karns
Top-Down Executive Director of the ELITIST Berkshire Regional Planning Commission

Human Rights for All Peoples & people

Human Rights for All Peoples & people
Stop Anti-Semitism

Massachusetts State Treasurer Tim Cahill

Massachusetts State Treasurer Tim Cahill
State House, Room 227, Boston, MA 02133, 617-367-6900, www.mass.gov/treasury/

Massachusetts State Attorney General Martha Coakley

Massachusetts State Attorney General Martha Coakley
1350 Main Street, Springfield, MA 01103, 413-784-1240 / McCormick Building, One Asburton Place, Boston, MA 02108, 617-727-4765 / marthacoakley.com / www.ago.state.ma.us

Bush v. Gore: December 12, 2007, was the seventh anniversary, the 5-4 Supreme Court decision...

Bush v. Gore: December 12, 2007, was the seventh anniversary, the 5-4 Supreme Court decision...
www.takebackthecourt.org - A political billboard near my downtown apartment in Manchester, NH

Marc Murgo

Marc Murgo
An old friend of mine from Pittsfield

Downtown Manchester, NH

Downtown Manchester, NH
www.newhampshire.com/nh-towns/manchester.aspx

Marisa Tomei

Marisa Tomei
Movie Actress

Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities (MCHC)

Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities (MCHC)
www.masschc.org/issue.php

Mike Firestone & Anna Weisfeiler

Mike Firestone & Anna Weisfeiler
Mike Firestone works in Manchester NH for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign

James Pindell

James Pindell
Covers NH Primary Politcs for The Boston Globe

U.S. History - Declaration

U.S. History - Declaration
A 19th century engraving shows Benjamin Franklin, left, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Philip Livingston and Roger Sherman at work on the Declaration of Independence.

Boston Globe Photos of the Week - www.boston.com/bostonglobe/gallery/

Boston Globe Photos of the Week - www.boston.com/bostonglobe/gallery/
Sybregje Palenstijn (left), who plays Sarah Godbertson at Plimouth Plantation, taught visitors how to roast a turkey on a spit. The plantation often sees a large influx of visitors during the holiday season.

Chris Hodgkins

Chris Hodgkins
Another special interest Berkshire Pol who could not hold his "WATER" on Beacon Hill's State House!

The Big Dig - 15 tons of concrete fell from a tunnel ceiling onto Milena Del Valle's car.

The Big Dig - 15 tons of concrete fell from a tunnel ceiling onto Milena Del Valle's car.
Most of Boston's Big Dig highway remains closed, after a woman was crushed when 15 tons of concrete fell from a tunnel ceiling onto her car. (ABC News)

Jane Swift

Jane Swift
Former Acting Governor of Massachusetts & Berkshire State Senator

Paul Cellucci

Paul Cellucci
Former Massachusetts Governor

William Floyd Weld

William Floyd Weld
$80 Million Trust Fund Former Governor of Massachusetts

Mike Dukakis

Mike Dukakis
Former Governor of Massachusetts

Mary E. Carey

Mary E. Carey
Amherst, Massachusetts, Journalist and Blogger

Caveman

Caveman
www.ongeicocaveman.blogspot.com

Peter G. Arlos

Peter G. Arlos
"The biggest challenge Pittsfield faces is putting its fiscal house in order. The problem is that doing so requires structural changes in local government, many of which I have advocated for years, but which officials do not have the will to implement. Fiscal responsibility requires more than shifting funds from one department to another. Raising taxes and fees and cutting services are not the answer. Structural changes in the way services are delivered and greater productivity are the answer, and without these changes the city's fiscal crisis will not be solved."

James M. Ruberto

James M. Ruberto
"Pittsfield's biggest challenge is to find common ground for a better future. The city is at a crossroads. On one hand, our quality of life is challenged. On the other hand, some important building blocks are in place that could be a strong foundation for our community. Pittsfield needs to unite for the good of its future. The city needs an experienced businessman and a consensus builder who will invite the people to hold him accountable."

Matt Kerwood

Matt Kerwood
Pittsfield's Councilor-At-Large. Go to: extras.berkshireeagle.com/NeBe/profiles/12.htm

Gerald M. Lee

Gerald M. Lee
Pittsfield's City Council Prez. Top-down governance of the first order!

Mary Carey

Mary Carey
Mary with student

Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox
Jonathan Papelbon celebrates with Jason Varitek

Free Bernard Baran!

Free Bernard Baran!
www.freebaran.org

Political Intelligence

Political Intelligence
Capitol Hill

Sherwood Guernsey II

Sherwood Guernsey II
Wealthy Williamstown Political Activist & Pittsfield Attorney

Mary Carey 2

Mary Carey 2
California Pol & porn star

Pittsfield's Good Old Boy Network - Political Machine!

Pittsfield's Good Old Boy Network - Political Machine!
Andy "Luciforo" swears in Jimmy Ruberto for the returning Mayor's 3rd term

Berkshire Grown

Berkshire Grown
www.berkshiregrown.org

Rambo

Rambo

The Mount was built in 1902 & was home to Edith Wharton (1862-1937) from 1903 to 1908.

The Mount was built in 1902 & was home to Edith Wharton (1862-1937) from 1903 to 1908.
The Mount, the historic home in Lenox of famed American novelist Edith Wharton, is facing foreclosure.