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Pittsfield Neighborhoods Host Sheriff Debate
By: Staff Reports On: 05:11PM / Wednesday August 11, 2010

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The West Side Neighborhood Initiative and Morningside Neighborhood Initiative, in collaboration with The Berkshire Eagle, are sponsoring a debate between the two Berkshire County sheriff candidates on Monday, Aug. 16, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. at Conte Community School.

Daniel E. Bosley, outgoing state representative for the 1st Berkshire District, and Thomas N. Bowler, a 20-year Pittsfield Police detective, will discuss issues that are particularly relevant to the city's two urban neighborhoods, but will also debate questions that are important to the entire Berkshire region. The debate will be moderated by The Berkshire Eagle's Chief Editor Timothy Farkas.

"Our goal is to encourage more specific answers to important questions to help voters in our neighborhoods, the city of Pittsfield, and Berkshire County understand the differences between these two candidates," said Dominick Villane, chairman of the Neighborhood Initiatives Debate subcommittee. "We encourage the community to attend this important event and offer their input during the public portion of the debate."

The event will covered by local news and radio and broadcast on Pittsfield Community Television. iBerkshires.com will also be covering and plans to post audio from the debate.

Debate questions are being provided by members of the neighborhood initiatives. The final portion of the debate will be comprised of seleced questions from the audience. Those attending the debate will have the opportunity to provide questions to be considered. Each candidate will be offered time for opening and closing remarks.

Bosley and Bowler are running to replace Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, who is retiring after 32 years in the post. Both candidates are Democrats so the race will essentially be decided in the Sept. 14 primary.



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Frieri Calls for Property Tax Reform, Relief for Homeowners
By: Frieri Campaign On: 04:53PM / Tuesday August 10, 2010

RICHMOND, Mass. — Rosanne Frieri, a candidate for representative in the 2nd Berkshire District, is calling for immediate property tax reform and relief of homeowners.

"The property tax system is simply unjust to homeowners and does not have adequate checks and balances to protect homeowners from disproportionate assessments," said the Richmond Republican. "Property tax laws by design place every property owner at a distinct disadvantage." 

Frieri has met with property owners and reviewed multiple complaints that the Department of Revenue and other state agencies have largely ignored.

"It is outrageous that homeowners continue to have their property taxes raised in a market that has not just slid, but avalanched downhill since 2006. On top of that is a property tax system with outmoded laws that favor assessors and place every homeowner at substantial risk for an unfair assessment."

Frieri also cites another troubling trend of escalating property tax rates in small towns that offer few services. "What are these good citizens getting in return for the high property taxes they pay?" she asks.

Frieri lists a multitude of problems with the current property tax system, from assessors with no meaningful oversight to an Appellate Tax Board that has no enforcement power. Additionally, current laws force homeowners to pay their property tax bills in full on incorrect assessments or their right to appeal is disallowed, foreclosure sales are not factored into market value, and the appeals process is too complicated and costly.

According to Frieri, property tax issues are impacting everyone negatively, from business owners to homeowners to renters who have property tax increases passed on to them by their landlords. 

"Many people are unemployed, or on fixed incomes such as the elderly and our war veterans. Under the current property tax system, they are faced with losing their homes to seizure unless these skyrocketing property taxes are paid, and how are they supposed to pay them?" she asked. 

Frieri said she is committed to advocating property owners' rights and sponsoring bills to reform the property tax system, which has not undergone a major reform in over 30 years with many of the laws dating back to Colonial times.



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Bosley Files Ethics Complaint
By: Bosley Campaign On: 09:23AM / Monday August 09, 2010

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Daniel E.Bosley, candidate for Berkshire County Sherrif, has mailed a formal complaint to the State Ethics Commission concerning distribution of his opponent’s lawn signs inside the offices of Berkshire County District Attorney David Capeless.

“I don’t take this action lightly”, Bosley said in a statement. "However, the lack of action and the response from the District Attorney concerns me. His cavalier attitude concerning this incident and the wide spread rumors that this is standard practice in this office are unacceptable. Taking delivery of signs at the front desk and distribution by an assistant district attorney would never have been tolerated under his two predecessors, Gerard Downing and Anthony Ruberto. Mr. Capeless didn’t even reprimand his employee.”

Bosley said that there seems to be a disturbing pattern in this campaign. “The present sheriff had to send out a press release concerning people representing themselves as members of the sheriff’s department. My campaign has received [the] similar phone calls from people who felt intimidated when they refused to put a lawn sign on their lawn. As with the DA’s office, there was no apology and the response from the Bowler camp was denial. I know that on two occasions people wearing my opponent’s t-shirts have confronted people wearing mine. While these people are reluctant to come forward, the incident at the DA’s office is documented.”

Bosley also said that he is refusing to accept campaign donations from employees at the Berkshire County House of Corrections (BCHOC) and asked his opponent to take a similar pledge and return any such donations.

“For too long," Bosley said, “I have witnessed people donating to candidates because they are afraid they will lose their job if they don’t write a check. People should be hired and promoted based on their ability, performance and experience; not on the size of their political contribution. The next sheriff will have to make a lot of decisions regarding personnel upon entering office. There should be no question that these decisions are made on merit, not campaign checks. “

Bosley stressed that it is important for the public and employees to have confidence that the system works based on merit. “I have never taken a contribution from one of my employees. It’s just not a good practice, policy, and doesn’t inspire public confidence.”

Bosley's letter to the Ethics Commission appears below:



State Ethics Commission
Enforcement Division
One Ashburton Place, Room 619
Boston, MA  02108-1501                                                    August 4, 2010

Dear Sirs,
 
Please find enclosed documentary evidence that appears to detail the use of a public governmental office for political activity in violation of state campaign finance and ethics laws.   The documents detail the fact that lawn signs for a county wide political candidate were requested by a state employee and then actually delivered to the Berkshire County District Attorney’s Office, a state governmental office. The signs were subsequently distributed through said office. This instance provides documentary proof for what is widely rumored in the community - that the District Attorney's Office and its staff are actively participating in the Bowler campaign during work time and using state resources.

The first document is a saved and enlarged copy of a Face Book message exchange between an area attorney who is a top political activist for the Tom Bowler for Sheriff Campaign, Jennifer Breen Kirsch, and an Assistant District Attorney, Dana Parsons dated July 11.The next document is the actual copied page from Ms. Kirsch’s Face Book that is harder to read but has more documentation. The third document is a local newspaper article responding to my complaint to a local newspaper. It was admitted in that Berkshire Eagle article, “Bosley Alleges Ethics Breach” dated July 30, 2010 that the lawn signs were in fact delivered to a state governmental office.  In the same article, the Berkshire District Attorney, who has publicly endorsed the candidate whose lawn signs were delivered to his office, told the Berkshire Eagle that no discipline was warranted for this violation of state law. The final document is again from Ms. Kirsch. It contains a post that was published on July 31, 2010; the day after the newspaper article was published. It shows no remorse or regret for her actions. I believe that the post from this officer of the court demonstrates contempt for our ethics law as well as an ignorance of the seriousness of her actions.

Massachusetts Campaign Finance law prohibits the use of public buildings, resources, or offices from being involved in political activity and creates a separation between public resources and political involvement.  In Anderson v. City of Boston, 376 Mass. 178, 187, 380 N.E.2nd 628 (1978), appeal dismissed, 439 U.S. 1069 (1979), the Supreme Judicial Court indicated that public resources may generally not be used for political purposes.

The Legislature has passed enhanced ethics laws this term and required that all state and public employees take an annual ethics test to ensure knowledge of and compliance with these enhanced laws.  This documents which are attached appear to show that these laws are not be followed uniformly throughout the Commonwealth and require further investigation.

Thank you for your interest in this matter and can be reached if any further information is needed.

Sincerely,

Daniel E. Bosley



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MacDonald Proposes Cutting Health Care Costs
By: MacDonald Campaign On: 11:35AM / Friday August 06, 2010

ADAMS, Mass. — Ed MacDonald, candidate for state representative in the 1st Berkshire District, proposes to move health care forward by cutting costs by 30 percent. “I will propose legislation to reduce health care costs for working families and businesses,” he said.

According to MacDonald, as recently enacted health care reform laws become implemented, challenges remain to assure the development of a high–performance health care system for the Commonwealth. Despite great achievements in expanding health insurance coverage, MacDonald says we have much to accomplish to achieve a high-value, integrated health delivery system which is patient-centered. In order to  lower costs, increase access to care and improve the overall quality of care delivered, he proposes expanding primary care, creating electronic health information systems, and establishing fair malpractice policies.

According to MacDonald, although it has been shown that a strong primary care foundation can lower costs and improve health outcomes, fewer physicians are choosing primary care careers, and those who are already practicing are changing jobs or retiring early. He says that it's  imperative to commit resources that will provide an incentive to grow and sustain primary care in Massachusetts. MacDonald proposes providing tuition assistance and grants for medical students who desire primary care careers.

"The average medical education debt is now about $200,000. This high education cost burden does not encourage medical students to seek traditionally lower paid fields such as primary care. For those currently in practice in primary care, improvements in reimbursements and lower overhead costs will help to achieve retention of experienced physicians by reducing costs of practice," he stated.

"We need to identify and eliminate those health insurance policies and procedures which only serve to increase medical practice overhead costs and interfere with the doctor-patient relationship. Insurance interference leads to delayed care and poorer outcomes. The best way to make health care more efficient, coordinated and effective is to utilize primary care with an emphasis on disease prevention and wellness as the new model for patient care," he continued.

MacDonald "strongly endorses" electronic medical record (EMR) and health information technology efforts, saying these technologies "will ultimately improve communication within our health care system," providing rapid connection of patient information between health care providers, allowing for better coordinated care and enhance timely diagnosis and treatment. MacDonald said EMR will help reduce costs by eliminating unnecessarily repeated medical testing.

Additionally, MacDonald proposes "fair medical malpractice reform" to maintain patient safety from negligence while not penalizing good doctors.

"This reform is needed to help reduce 'defensive medicine' practice which only increases overall health costs. It is estimated by the GAO that nationwide $1 billion a year is spent solely on factors related to malpractice. These factors include ordering unnecessary tests, rising malpractice insurance premiums and costs of litigation," he stated.

"Health care providers are non profits.  I would propose that the CEOs, board members and upper management reduce their salaries. In a report dated July 22, Blue Cross Blue Shield had in its coffers more than 3 ½ times required for solvency. I would propose that this number be tightened up to one or two percent solvency. This should reduce costs. With all these suggestions implemented, the cost of health insurance should reduce significantly," he stated.



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Patrick Plans Community Event in Adams
By: Staff Reports On: 04:28PM / Thursday August 05, 2010

Deval Patrick will be stumping in Adams on Monday evening, Aug. 8, for one of several campaign events planned across the state. Patrick, a Democrat, is running for re-election as governor.

The "On Our Side: Communities Connecting For Deval Patrick" campaign stop will be held at Forest Park Country Club beginning at 6 p.m.

The meet and greet is open to the public. The Adams Selectmen on Wednesday said they had been informed of the stop as a courtesy and made it clear that Patrick was visiting in his role as a candidate for re-election, not in his capacity as governor.

However, Chairman Michael Ouellette encouraged citizens to attend the event and ask questions of Patrick so to be informed for gubernatorial election.

In a statement on his campaign site, Patrick said: "Policy only matters at the point where it touches people. So, I look forward to the chance to talk with people about the progress we have made in education, health care and job creation, and the work we hope to finish in a second term. This is what grassroots campaigning is all about."

The Adams campaign is the second for the western end of the state and will complete a campaign swing that starts today in Hyannis, followed by Nantucket and Quincy. Patrick has also held a "community connection" in Springfield and in a number of eastern cities.

For more information, go to  devalpatrick.com.

Charlie Baker, the Republican candidate for governor, was in Hancock and Pittsfield on Thursday. He first visited Jiminy Peak Ski Resort and then had lunch at the Highland Restaurant.
 



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Where to vote in Berkshire County

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

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

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

Municipal Elections

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

You may vote absentee: if you will be absent from your town or city on election day, have a physical disability that prevents you from voting at the polls or cannot vote at the polls because to religious beliefs.

2010 Special Senate Election Results

Election 2009 Stories

Election Day 2008

 

 

 



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