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Ward 3 Candidates Split on GE Fund, Grossman's Demo
By Tammy Daniels On: 08:26PM / Tuesday October 25, 2011
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Challenger Jeffrey Ferrin did his best to pummel Paul Capitanio on the issues in Monday's Ward 3 debate, while the incumbent took the former mayoral candidate to task for acting like he's already been elected. 

The candidates took the stage in the first of four debates on Monday night sponsored by the Pittsfield Gazette and Berkshire Community College, and aired on Pittsfield Community Television. The moderator was Shawn Serre of PCTV.

The two had little in common and split immediately on the thorny subject of taking down the 35,000-square-foot former Grossman's Outlet on East Street. Capitanio said it would cost $190,000; Ferrin, $2 million or more.

Capitanio said the vacant eyesore "should be demolished; it's blight ... it's certainly not an asset."

The current councilor has asked the city to foot some of the bill for tearing down the condemned structure. "If anybody else has a plan we'd certainly listen to it but they've been trying to sell it for five years."


Ward 3 incumbent Paul Capitanio, above, said he would continue to work hard for his ward; challenger Jeffrey Ferrin said he'd do his homework to protect taxpayers.
Ferrin, however, claims the demolition would cost the city nearly $2 million and leave it with a PCB-contaminated property. He said his numbers came from a lengthy conversation with Michael T. Carroll, manager of GE Pittsfield Remediation Program, and that he'd filed a petition with the council to have Carroll and the major players in the property appear to answer questions.

"Councilor Capitanio voted against that, which concerned me because his question was where'd I get my information and how did we know it was true I spoke to them," said Ferrin. "That would have been the perfect opportunity to ask those very questions. ... I'm kind of concerned he wanted to approve the money to raze it but didn't want anybody to answer any questions."

They also disagreed on problems at Deming Park, with the Capitanio saying flooding had been an issue but he worked with Pittsfield Economic Development Authority to alleviate the problem. "We took care of the four or five properties that were affected," he said. "I don't know of any flooding issues."

Ferrin said the flooding hasn't been completely dealt with and may have been affected by unpermitted changes to the infield and other areas. He vowed if elected to ensure that any future work was properly permitted.

The two generally agreed on the continuance of curbside trash pickup, with Capitanio considering further exploration of using the toter system and Ferrin saying "education, education, education," was the key to increasing recycling.

Capitanio defended the use of up to $275,000 in GE Economic Development Funds to reimburse Ice River Springs for moving its cooling tower because of neighborhood noise complaints and tied in increments to adding jobs. "I'm absolutely for that," he responded to a question on personal standards for release of the funds.

"I'm unsure about the Shaker Village, I did vote for that," Capitanio continued, referring to funds to aid the living history museum in launching a historical architectural program with Amherst College. "I don't know if I regret that or not but, hopefully, it will work out."

Ferrin took a harsher view, saying he was "absolutely against Ice River Springs" getting fund money because the company "lied about their employment status — they employed part-time and temporary workers from agencies instead of full-time workers under their TIF agreement."

He said he was leery of giving economic development money to nonprofits such as Shaker Village, but thought he could have supported the Colonial Theatre, "but it still hasn't produced livable wage jobs for the community."

Both were against borrowing to replace the school bus fleet at this point, with Ferrin saying a comprehensive plan needs to be laid out first and Capitanio that other options should be considered, particularly privatization. Both also agreed the dissolution of the Parks Department had some benefits but has also affected the other departments' abilities to get the work done.

Ferrin stressed the research he does on issues and vowed to be the voice of the taxpayers. "I have no connection to the good old boy network."

Capitanio briefly chastised Ferrin for failing to pass on an email from a constituent, leading her to believe Ferrin was her councilor. He then talked of the projects in Ward 3 he helped bring to fruition, and said he would continue to work hard for his ward. "If we work together and help each other we can maintain the quality of life Ward 3 deserves."


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Candidates Clash on Voting Records, Visions for Pittsfield
By Joe Durwin On: 05:24PM / Tuesday October 25, 2011
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Heated disagreement and barbed comments characterized the debate between mayoral hopefuls Daniel Bianchi and Peter Marchetti on Monday night at Berkshire Community College.

This final debate of the evening at the college interspersed questions from moderator Brandon Walker of YNN with opportunities for the candidates to pose them to each other. The debates were sponsored by The Pittsfield Gazette and the college, and broadcast on Pittsfield Community Television.

Several of the questions were hauntingly familiar to those sparred over in the 2009 mayoral debates between Bianchi and James Ruberto, among them PEDA, cultural development, and school buildings.


The candidates were seated according to their positions on the ballot, with Daniel Bianchi first and Peter Marchetti second.
The candidates clashed, as they have throughout the campaign, on whether as mayor they would choose to sit on the board of the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority, which oversee the redevelopment of the former GE property now known as William Stanley Business Park.

Bianchi, who also expressed impatience with the progress of PEDA during his unsuccessful 2009 campaign, has repeatedly stated that he would appoint himself to its board, as Ruberto had. "We have not operated with a sense of urgency when it comes to new jobs and new job creation," he said.

Marchetti repeated his view that the mayor's role was to link the PEDA board with that of Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corp., the state Office of Economic Development, and other relevant agencies "to set clear goals and objectives ... and if that board cannot meet those goals and objectives, then it's the mayor's responsibility to replace them with those that can.”"

In one of Marchetti's open questions to Bianchi, he challenged the former city councilor on his votes against the creation of the Office of Cultural Development, as well as the $1 million allocation to the Colonial Theatre from the GE Economic Development Fund.

Bianchi said he had supported the Colonial, previously voting in favor of $460,000 in funding, but felt that the million-dollar "gift" was not necessary because of the Colonial's other fundraising efforts.

As for the Office of Cultural Development, Bianchi said he had voted for Megan Whilden's appointment twice, acknowledging he had voted against the post initially. "I was frustrated the first time the appointment came around. That frustration was a result of the mayor getting rid of a longtime employee," he said, referring to Daniel O'Connell, who previously developed and coordinated public arts and activities from the Lichtenstein Center from the 1970s to 2005, when he was let go to make way for Whilden to take the helm of the newly created office.]

"I guess we both like to rewrite history in our own ways, because I have the minutes from the City Council meetings where you voted twice against the Office of Cultural Development," Marchetti responded.

In one his questions, Bianchi took issue with his opponent's record on what he depicted as favoritism in Ruberto's hiring practices, including a 40 percent raise for Tricia Farley-Bouvier when she worked at City Hall.

Marchetti suggested Bianchi was being misleading, that in fact the vote had been to create a new position, director of administration, not just increase a salary.

"I never took a vote to give the mayor's ally a raise, I took a vote to create a job position," Marchetti said. He also vowed that in his administration, there would be none of the "acting appointments" that have become controversial during Ruberto's tenure.

On a related subject to those appointments, Bianchi spoke in support of a suggested charter review commission to retool the city's governing rules, "and I believe, Pete, that you've suggested you would not do that."

At this, Marchetti once again accused his opponent of "rewriting history."

"Any chance I've had the ability to vote for the establishment of a charter commission, I voted in favor, so let's just make sure we keep our facts straight in this debate."

It was on the thorny issue of school building needs that the sparring between the two candidates became most heated. Both men said they have always supported major overhauls of both Taconic and Pittsfield high schools as opposed to a "one high school plan."

Marchetti was asked by his opponent why he had opposed a recent petition brought forth by Councilors Melissa Mazzeo and Joseph Nichols to place a question on the ballot asking voters to weigh in on the school building decision process. When Marchetti began to answer that the question as phrased was flawed and did not address any of the issues both candidates had just discussed, Bianchi interrupted him several times to interject that it could have, if it had been referred to the Committee on Ordinances and Rules for retooling.

"You asked me a question, please be respectful enough to let me answer it," Marchetti said, raising his voice.  Moderator Brandon Walker interjected, asking Bianchi to allow Marchetti to answer the question.

"I made comment that night that there is not enough information at this stage of the game to craft a question. It wasn't that I wasn't looking for the people's input ... the question was premature."

The question, as presented to the council at its July 12 meeting, read "Do you support the School Building Needs Commission's decision to build a new high school in Pittsfield?" It was voted down 9-2, with only Mazzeo and Nichols in support. The majority opinion was that the question proposed would be confusing and misleading to voters, as the commission has reached no such decision.

In closing statements, candidates continued to outline differences in their visions for Pittsfield.  Marchetti highlighted his five priorities for moving Pittsfield forward: job creation, continued improvement in education, neighborhood improvements, continued support of the arts community, and improved communication. "I believe that my record supported many of the positive changes that have taken place in Pittsfield over the last eight years."

Bianchi said the election offers "a clear choice" for voters. "I'm the candidate with an ambitious, comprehensive plan to create an atmosphere within City Hall that welcomes public opinion and embraces our differences, and sets a reasonable pace for moving Pittsfield in a new direction."


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Beacon Hill Upholds Preliminary Election Results
Staff Reports On: 01:31PM / Monday October 24, 2011
Communication from the governor's office on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011, timed at 11:24 a.m.: Governor Patrick just signed the North Adams election validation into law. It is now Chapter 141 of the Acts of 2011.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The state House of Representatives and Senate approved Monday validating the preliminary mayoral election results.

The special legislation now awaits Gov. Deval Patrick's approval in the next 10 days. The city adopted a homerule petition three weeks ago to accept the results as counted despite 460 votes being illegally cast.

The ballots instructed voters to pick two candidates and 460 voters did so. However, state law does not allow voters to choose more candidates than there are available seats.

The difference between the second highest vote-getter and the last vote-getter was more than the 460 illegal votes and, therefore, the results would still have narrowed the field to Ronald Boucher and Richard Alcombright. Instead of throwing out the votes, the City Council agreed to let the extra votes stand instead of holding a second election but that requires state approval.


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Boucher Shares Views on Mohawk Theater Development
Boucher Campaign On: 10:28AM / Saturday October 22, 2011
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — This is the second installment of mayoral candidate Ron Boucher sharing his views and ideas on important issues facing the city of North Adams. The below discussion focuses on the development of the Mohawk Theater.

"I believe the Mohawk Theater will play a significant role in the economic recovery of the city and also the revitalization of Main Street. Many of us remember what downtown used to be like growing up, with all the consumer foot traffic on Main Street, and re-engaging the Mohawk as an entertainment venue is key to this. I would move immediately to restart the renovation of the Mohawk which has been dormant the past two years under the current administration."

"Key to this initiative is to establish a for profit organization to access the $2.2 million in readily available historical tax credits which were awarded to the city during the prior administration. Once renovations are complete, the Mohawk can be sold to a for-profit organization of the city's choosing. Included in this sale would be stipulations that the Mohawk must be used for performances, shows, or movies, similar to the Colonial Theater in Pittsfield, which has revitalized that section of South Street. Also, selling the Mohawk to a for-profit organization would place the city in a position to continue to receive property taxes from a sought after location on our Main Street. Under the mayor's plan, he would turn the Mohawk over to the MCLA, which would make the property tax exempt and each year the city would lose a large amount of potential property taxes."

"Please remember, election day is Tuesday, Nov. 8. At this crucial point in time for our city, it is very important that all residents take the time to make their voices heard and vote."

The campaign to elect Ron Boucher Mayor of North Adams would like to extend an invitation to the public for Boucher's second Spaghetti Supper Fundraiser at the American Legion on Nov. 2, and also to stop by his new campaign headquarters at 107 Main St.

You can also learn more about Boucher, his campaign and views by visiting his website at www.VoteBoucher2011.com or emailing him at VoteBoucher2011@yahoo.com.


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Marchetti Campaign Plans Pancake Fundraiser
Marchetti Campaign On: 10:10AM / Saturday October 22, 2011
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The public is invited to attend a Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser for mayoral candidate Peter Marchetti to be held on Sunday, Oct. 30, from 9 to noon at the Polish Community Club on Linden Street.

Cost for the breakfast is a $7 donation. Kids eat free. Tickets may be purchased at the door, or reserved by calling 413443-1411.

Marchetti is currently in his eighth year on the Pittsfield City Council. He is the vice president, chairman of the council subcommittee on Finance and vice chairman of the Community and Economic Development subcommittee, and serves on the Public Health and Safety Council and as council representative to the Conservation Commission.

Marchetti's five-point plan for Pittsfield includes job creation, education, the arts, neighborhoods, and improved communication. He says he wants to see us write the next chapter in our history by building on the successes of the past and growing optimistically into the future. 

He has always been very active in the community, serving with the Morningside Initiative, the board of PCTV, state youth and adult bowling leagues, the Helen Berube Teen Parent Program, the Pittsfield Parade Committee, and many others.  

Marchetti Campaign Headquarters if at 766 Tyler St. Campaign volunteers and supporters are welcome to stop in and sign up to help.

For more information, visit the campaign website at www.petemarchetti.com, send an e-mail to pete@petemarchetti.com, or call headquarters at 413-443-1411 or 413-443-1220. 


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Where to vote in Berkshire County

State Election
Tuesday, Nov. 4

Voting is from 7 to 8 p.m.
Deadline to register or change party affiliation is 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.

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