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Letters: Mayoral Opponent 'Slinging the Mud'
By Dick Alcombright On: 09:35PM / Friday November 01, 2013

Many weeks ago, I spoke with Bob Moulton when he informed me he was going to run for mayor.  Bob assured me that he would run a clean campaign and that he would respect our long term friendship and that of our families.

The campaign until this week has been very quiet and Bob has been an admirable challenger debating his points of view. At this 11th hour, however, he has decided or has been told to begin to degenerate this campaign by unfounded lies.

Two recent flyers that came to my house and I am certain to most households stated the following:

1. "I gave out tax deals to influential friends."
For those of you who know me, I have spent my entire adult life building my integrity. I have NEVER given one penny to any friends in tax deals.

2. "By shifting the tax rate, I gave Walmart, Time Warner, National Grid, Verizon and others tax breaks." Not one of those entities received a tax break ... they paid their fair share.

3. "I gave out more than $700,000 in pay raises."
That number is the total of additional contracted compensation to all city and school employees over the past four years. That represents less than 1 percent increase each year. I trust you value our teachers, firefighters, police, DPW and office workers enough to understand that these increases were earned and were among the lowest in the state. Mr. Moulton only needs to do the math.

4.  "I entered office with nearly $3.5 million in reserves."
That could not be further from the truth ... he fails to mention that I also entered office with a $2.6 million deficit in the budget and an unfunded and mismanaged insurance issue amounting to $800,000 left me by former Mayor John Barrett.

5.  "Bob's priority will always be what is best for the forgotten middle class of North Adams."
We have a population consisting of 17 percent poverty, 60 percent low to moderate income ... what about them? I have acted on behalf of and in the best interests of all of our residents.

6. "$80,000 a year will be spent on swanky new school administrative offices on Main Street when space could have been found in a city-owned property."
The School Department leased office space for some 35 administrative workers for a three-year lease at $69,000 annually with the first year heavily discounted to under $50,000. All city buildings including City Hall were considered with none able to accommodate that many people. The School Department was spending over $100,000 annually at Conte and two other buildings to house administration. This move saves the district more than $30,000 annually.

7.  "Invest in a state-of-the-art curriculum starting in Grade 1."
Mr. Moulton is so uninformed that he only needs to look online at the school website to see that we have a curriculum for each Grade K-12, that is mandated by the Massachusetts Frameworks and the Federal Common Core.

It is very unfortunate that Mr. Moulton has resorted to "slinging the mud" this late in the race. He has not proposed ONE idea that has substance. He says he has an action plan: what is it? He will hire more police: how will he pay for them and will it be on the back of a volunteer fire department?

The city voted to do the Conte School renovation project: he has yet to clearly answer whether or not if elected, he will scrap Conte. He told the MCLA Beacon he would, WGBY Public Television "everything was on the table" and during the radio debate he claimed he would support it. Which is it?  

He has said that he will stop the privatization of Heritage State Park ... a project that I have been working on for three years that promises over $6 million in investment and will put the park back on the tax rolls.

I simply don't get it, saving all of these lies and empty promises for the 11th hour. I am fully convinced that collectively and transparently, we have moved this city forward over the past four years. Please read the information that you have received from both of us very carefully and make an informed decision.

Richard Alcombright is running for a third term as mayor of North Adams.

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Letters: It's All Dick's Fault
Letters to the Editor On: 11:35AM / Thursday October 31, 2013

To the Editor:

"It's All Dick's Fault!"

On Jan. 27, 2011, Cariddi Auto Agency's building burned to a total loss. The building was not salvageable.  Mayor Alcombright came to the scene of the fire and sought me out to console me as a business owner watching my 29 years of work, go up in smoke. The North Adams Fire Department did a wonderful job, along with many of the local town fire departments, bringing the fire under control with their efforts on that cold night, we were in good hands! My hats off to the North Adams Fire Department and all of the fire fighters that provided mutual aid!

Mayor Alcombright was a serious inspiration to the ongoing existence of my business! I told him if we were going to survive this fire, we were going to have to find a temporary location to set up shop. He assured me that he would do all he could to help with that process and advised, when I find a temporary location, to let him know in the form of a letter. Well with the help of other business friends and family we relocated on Jan. 28 a little further down Curran Highway. We created the letter and delivered it to Mayor Alcombright on that same morning. With a lot of friends, valued customers and family we emptied the burnt-out building and set up shop down the street on Jan. 29. It was a fast move!  

At the time, Cariddi Auto and Tunnel City Transport employed about 12 full-time and five part-time employees. Without the extensive support of Mayor Alcombright and his staff granting permission allowing the emergency move, all of these people would have been out of work and it may have been the demise of our 29 year old company!

So to summarize the facts:

"It's All Dicks Fault!!"

1) Cariddi Auto/Tunnel City Transport – Reopened 48 hours after a devastating fire.
2) Not one employee lost a day's pay or got laid off.
3) Cariddi Auto/Tunnel City Transport – built a new state of the art building.
4) Cariddi Auto/Tunnel City Transport is steadily growing and has since then doubled its work force in the city.
5) We have two new business neighbors down the street.
6) The new Wal-Mart is newly opened up the street.
7) Crane is still here with a larger work force.
8) Main Street merchants have been moving around and expanding.
9) Our city is a pleasant place to live – with reasonable cost of living expenses.
10) We're getting a city landmark school restored to its once grandeur, where many of my family and close friends graduated from high school and many of our local citizens can tell you about the fun high school day stories.  I know: I went there as a middle school student in 1977 – 1978 as the first graduating middle school class.  My mother was a teacher and I received my diploma from my mom in that gym.  A savored memory!  My dad graduated high school there. Hopefully, my grandchildren will also go there!
11) I know that 24/7, I can walk down any street in North Adams and feel safe. Try that in other local communities; I have been on these streets many nights plowing and towing and I have been in other cities when I was scared to death, to say the least.  My hats off to the local North Adams Police Department.
12) REMEMBER ON ELECTION DAY: It's all Dick's fault! Let's allow him to continue his ability to make North Adams a better place. Out future is RIGHT with Alcombright!

Guy Cariddi
North Adams
Oct. 31, 2013

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7 Make Case For Pittsfield At-Large Council Seats
By Joe Durwin On: 10:58PM / Wednesday October 30, 2013

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Three incumbents and four challengers outlined accomplishments, experience and positions as they compete for four at-large seats on the City Council, to be chosen by voters of all seven of Pittsfield's wards next Tuesday.

Incumbents Barry Clairmont, Churchill Cotton and Melissa Mazzeo laid out their records and positions against those of hopefuls Kathleen Amuso, James Conant, Mark Miller and Donna Rivers in a debate held at Berkshire Community College on Monday, ranging over issues such as school budget, new business development, and the future of some city buildings.
In statements, each sought to distinguish themselves from the rest of the field of candidates, all of whom are well-known figures in local politics.
"I believe in a bold, progressive, and dynamic city," said Clairmont, touting what he deemed the accomplishments of his first term, including a volunteer tax abatement for seniors, a new advanced manufacturing study, and support for attempts to put in new businesses at the site of the former Plunkett School and Crane Freight House buildings.
"I think I've had life experiences that give me a different perspective from most of the other panel members," said Cotton, who said he was seeking re-election "So that everyone has an opportunity to be represented at City Hall."
"I hope you all take the time to think about what is important to you, your family, and your community," said Mazzeo, who highlighted herself as being without ulterior agendas, in contrast to others on the City Council. "And ask if we really have been doing our job, or if it's time for a change."
"I have proven results," said Amuso, who pointed to a 12 percent increase in graduation rates during her tenure as chairman of the PIttsfield School Committee as an example. "Being a member of the City Council will give me an opportunity to use my expertise and knowledge to work collaboratively to move Pittsfield forward."
"I have the experience and working knowledge of city government, as I have served on board and committees in Pittsfield for the past then years," offered Conant, a former parks commissioner who currently serves on the School Committee and as chairman of the Conservation Commission.
"I'm the outsider in this race," said Miller, a longtime newsman and 2011 state representative candidate, who highlighted his knowledge and extensive education in political science, journalism and management against the others' governmental experience.
"I'm running because I believe it is time for us to embrace a new way of looking at old problems," said Rivers, a local business owner and radio personality. "I'm running because a lifetime of experiences has lead me to this very moment."
Candidates offered varying takes on a currently controversial proposal to develop big box retail at the quasi-public-owned Williams Stanley Business Park.
Cotton suggested it was premature to say categorically there should be no retail at the former General Electric site, while Mazzeo and Amuso spoke strongly against the current proposal, and Conant said retail should only be considered after all other possibilities have been exhausted. Miller proposed that regular tours to showcase the mostly vacant, fenced-off industrial park be held by the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority that oversees it.
Opinions also differed on another hot-button issue over the past term, that of the City Council's handling of school budget issues. Cotton said the council's responsibility was the same as within any budget: "To review, ask questions and then accept or reject it. But to try and pick and choose which things should be taken out I don't think is our responsibility."
"The School Committee and the superintendent should be allowed to do their job," answered Rivers.  
"Expecting accountability is not opposition," said Clairmont, "It is unreasonable to expect an unquestioned budget."
Opinions were also polled on what should be done with regard to two dormant city-owned buildings, the former Hibbard School and Springside House, which just began a process of assessment through a recent grant from the state.
Several candidates favored rehab of the Newell Street school to return it to an educational purpose. Conant strongly emphasized the need to return it to use as an alternative high school for students who would not succeed in the mainstream high schools, with which Miller voiced agreement. Rivers suggested that it could be looked at as a home for the Adult Learning Center, whose relocation last year was a matter of considerable municipal debate. 
Clairmont, Cotton, Rivers and Amuso all spoke fervently in favor of restoration of the Springside House for its value as a potential historic and educational asset to the city. Conant expressed skepticism about its condition and said the study of the house needs to be completed before any further funds are invested. Miller believed restoration of the house should not be a priority for any major funds, suggesting instead that a new more modern building could be constructed there to enhance use of Springside Park.
The seven contenders will appear on ballots in all seven wards in Pittsfield's citywide election on Tuesday, Nov. 5.  The four top vote recipients will become the at-large members of the 11-member City Council for the upcoming two-year term beginning in January.

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Crime, Finance Return in 2nd Alcombright, Moulton Debate
By Tammy Daniels On: 08:02PM / Wednesday October 30, 2013
Richard Alcombright, left, and Robert M. Moulton Jr. shake hands after Wednesday's debate at the WNAW radio studio.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Incumbent Richard Alcombright, seeking a third term, and Robert M. Moulton Jr., a local businessman and former city councilor, traded jabs for an hour over crime, blight and taxes Wednesday morning live at the WNAW radio studio in their second and final mayoral debate.

Megan Duley of WNAW moderated and asked questions along with Tammy Daniels of and Jennifer Huberdeau of the North Adams Transcript. The debate was taped for broadcast on NBCTV.

Moulton stuck with his campaign platform of making the community "safe and affordable," saying he would "put together a team that will get North Adams moving again and will make sure that the middle class of North Adams has a voice again." The same statement he made during last week's debate.

Alcombright, however, focused like a laser in on Moulton's prior public comments, asking for specifics of his challenger's "action plan" and "can he say he will not raise taxes and if so, what will he cut from city services to balance the budget?"

Moulton, pressed repeatedly by the panelists, declined to say how he would fund his ideas of more police, expanded inspection services or a charter school other than saying they would have to be "sustainable" and the state could play a role.

Instead, he claimed that Alcombright had been left with $3 million on taking office and had raised fees and taxes. "I'm not the one spending money ... Where's the money? Where's the money?"

Alcombright responded that he'd been left with $1.2 million in reserves and a $2.6 million deficit that's been whittled down to just over $300,000. Taxes have gone up, but they've gone up every year for more than a decade, he said, (pointing out that both he and Moulton had approved increases as councilors) while the budget is up only about 1.5 percent, making it more "a 12 to 14 percent reduction."

"We've raised taxes but cut the budget significantly and not replaced many staffing positions," he continued. "We've downsized where we could, we've created efficiencies where we could."

That was the tempo of the debate, starting when the two clashed over the first question, when Moulton repeated his assertion that crime is up 60 percent in the city and that residents are scared and even feel unsafe their homes.

"We've got to be more proactive than reactive, we need more money for police," he said, adding that the with overtime being spent the police structure could reviewed. "The community has to be part of this and be involved."

He accused Alcombright of failing to fulfill a priority he'd laid out four years ago to address crime in his first run for mayor. The incumbent, however, said Moulton's continued reference to a broken promise was false.

"I did not run on crime, I ran on financial integrity, economic development and transparency, those were my three topics that I ran on," said Alcombright. (His priorities also included housing, according to a 2007 article; in 2009, it was partnerships and economic growth.)

"We do not have a 60 percent increase on crime. .... Crime is up about 25 percent as far breaking and entering are concerned. Other than that most crime is really stable," he said.

The violent incidents involved people who knew each other, he continued, and more police wouldn't have stopped those crimes.

Alcombright said his administration hasn't "had our heads in the sand over this," pointing to increased patrols and support from the district attorney and sheriff's offices and state police during the spike in crime over the last few months, and the closure of a local bar after a stabbing.

"To really bring closure to this, we need to look at the roots of the problem," he said, such as drug addiction and poverty.

The Moulton kept it simple, pounding the incumbent on crime and finances; Alcmbright pressed the challenger for how he'd fund his ideas.

Moulton, however, maintained "this is nothing that just popped up in the last few months it's been ongoing and it's been a problem."

The incumbent called for Moulton to say how he was going to pay for more officers — by raising taxes, cutting services or making the Fire Department volunteer?

The challenger didn't respond to Alcombright's question.

Both did agree that jobs were critical to attracting homeowners and expanding the tax base but differed greatly on how to do it.

Moulton continued to the tout the 20-year-old Hyett Palma report for reinvigorating the downtown while Alcombright pointed to the ongoing master planning process that looks at all areas of the city. Moulton described the master plan concept as "sexy" but not particularly useful despite the state's use of such plans for grant funding and the majority of the current City Council as well as candidates not only backing the process but actively engaging in it.

He also called for the health inspector post be reinstated to crack down on blight.

"It is arguably the strongest enforcement board that we have and that's critical," he said, and inspectors should be walking the neighborhoods to find violators. "Make them responsible for their properties, making your neighborhood safer and more attractive and also it's going to increase your property values."

Alcombright said the post was not eliminated when the building and health departments were combined as Inspection Services to save some $55,000 by not replacing an assistant inspector.

"These guys are out every day they are doing inspections, they are writing citations, they are very, very active and very, very responsive," he said, challenging  Moulton to find the money in the budget for another inspector.

Moulton made it clear where he stood on two issues: for the Conte School renovation and against the planned Greylock Market project.

Moulton strongly backed a petition against the school and lost. "I'd have to support the school, that's what the people wanted," he said, although adding "I think we're spending way too much money for that school."

He would toss out, however, a nearly-completed agreement for the privatization of Heritage State Park that could bring in some $6 million in private investment and look for new proposals. The city has made money on the park, he said, and it shouldn't abandon the non-profits located at the park now.

He also cast doubt that the state would fund it as a new gateway to Mount Greylock. "I don't believe the state has the money for that."

Alcombright said not only the state was onboard, but the Berkshire Scenic Railway was a factor as well.

The park hasn't made any money for the city because it belongs to the Redevelopment Authority, he said. It has for years been "a loss leader as it is," he continued. "We ought to get it out of our hair."

There was also some discussion over the relocation of the school district's central office and student needs into a single location on Main Street. Moulton said it may be costing taxpayers too much money at $70,000; others during the campaign have described is as "hundreds of thousands."

According to the contract, the school district is paying $69,000 a year for three years (with the first year heavily discounted) including utilities, new carpeting and office modules on the second floor of the Berkshire Bank building. Superintendent James Montepare had said at previous meetings that it was costing around $100,000 annually to keep the offices in Conte School.


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Alcombright Rings Up Endorsements in Mayoral Race
On: 10:31AM / Tuesday October 29, 2013

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Incumbent Richard Alcombright has received endorsements in his campaign for a third term as mayor of North Adams from U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, Attorney General Martha Coakley, state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, and Berkshire County Sheriff Thomas N. Bowler.

"Over the course of his tenure as mayor, Dick Alcombright has continued to put the residents of North Adams first. Whether it is through his efforts to work with the northern Berkshire communities to regionalize veterans services or his diligence in finding new businesses to grow the Route 8 corridor and create more jobs, Mayor Alcombright understands what it takes to keep North Adams thriving.  Knowing his history and dedication to the City, I wholeheartedly endorse Mayor Dick Alcombright for re-election."

Congressman Richard Neal

"As your attorney general, it goes without saying that I am a strong advocate of public safety.  As a prior resident of North Adams, I commend Mayor Alcombright for taking decisive steps to work with District Attorney Capeless, the state police and the sheriff's department to increase police presence over the past three months. Dick has clearly recognized the problems within the community and has taken action to protect the citizens of North Adams. Dick's ability to work collaboratively with law enforcement has resulted in multiple arrests and created a safer city for residents and visitors alike. I have known Dick for over 50 years and can attest that his only motivation day in and out is to move North Adams forward.  I am proud to support Dick for re-election."

Attorney General Martha Coakley

"Dick Alcombright cares deeply about every issue a mayor deals with, and more. He is a passionate advocate for North Adams and for those causes which will improve quality of life in his community. He has been an able partner in every effort we have undertaken regionally to expand opportunity in the Berkshires. I am proud to call him a friend and hope that residents of North Adams agree with me that he has earned a 3rd term."

Sen. Benjamin Downing

"As sheriff of Berkshire County, I have had the delightful pleasure for the past  2 1/2 years of working very closely with Mayor Dick Alcombright. What I have discovered is that he is a man of integrity, and simply a person who cares for the citizens of North Adams. Since in office, he has reduced the city’s deficit, created new jobs and brought many new businesses to the city of North Adams.  It is very evident his goal is to enhance your quality of life ... which all of you deserve."

Sheriff Thomas N. Bowler

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State Election
Tuesday, Nov. 4

Voting is from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Deadline to register or change party affiliation was Oct.15.

Candidates on the ballot in races for state office; all others on the ballot are unopposed. Links will take you to their campaign websites.

U.S. Senator
Edward J. Markey, Democrat
Brian J. Herr, Republican

Governor/Lieutenant Governor
Charlie Baker & Karyn Polito, Republican
Martha Coakley & Stephen Kerrigan, Democrat
Evan Falchuk & Angus Jennings, United Independent Party
Scott Lively & Shelly Saunders, Independent
Jeff McCormick & Tracy Post, Independent 

Attorney General
Maura Healey, Democratic
John B. Miller, Republican

Secretary of State
William Francis Galvin, Democratic
David D'Arcangelo, Republican
Daniel L. Factor, Green-Rainbow

Deborah B. Goldberg, Democratic
Michael James Heffernan, Republican
Ian T. Jackson, Green-Rainbow

Suzanne M. Bump, Democratic
Patricia S. Saint Aubin, Republican
MK Merelice, Green-Rainbow

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The cities of Pittsfield and North Adams will hold municipal elections for mayor, city council and school committee in 2015

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