Grossman Talks Manufacturing, Minimum Wage
|Grossman spoke at the Berkshire Brigades office on Wednesday after filming a television show with the Democratic group.|
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Manufacturing is in the state's DNA so there is no reason why it can't continue to drive the economy, according to Treasurer and gubernatorial candidate Steven Grossman.
Grossman had an informal meeting with the Berkshire Brigades on Wednesday after filming a television show earlier in the day.
To the relatively small audience, Grossman pledged his support for the Brigades' efforts to place questions on raising the minimum wage and earned sick time on the ballot in 2014 while at the same time, asking for their support in his campaign for governor.
Grossman began a short talking portion by saying that requiring all workers be given earned sick time in case of illness is "long overdue."
The earned sick time question is one of two the coalition Raise Up, of which the Berkshire Brigades are a part, is trying to get on the ballot.
Grossman said, in the 35 years he ran his family's business, providing extra benefits made for better workers.
"You empower workers by providing benefits," Grossman said. "Earned sick time is one of the benefits people are provided in our company for 25 years and when people say to me 'I can't afford to do that and I won't support you as a small-business owner,' I say, 'you can't afford not to do it."
He said the family paper company has not gone to arbitration since the workers unionized in 1952 and that's because the owners provide those extra benefits and, in return, received better work.
"For me, fundamentally, the relationship between those who own companies and those who run companies is a symbiotic relationship. They fit together," Grossman said. "You can have a nice looking suit on and a nice looking car but if you walk into your place of business if you don't treat those who work in your company with grace and dignity, particularly when you are sitting across the table from them in a union negotiation, then they are not empowered. If you empower your workers, they give you flexibility, increased productivity."
Raise Up is also seeking an ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage, which Grossman says he supports because at $8 an hour currently, it isn't possible for a worker to be "self sufficient."
|Besides giving a short speech, the treasurer spoke one-on-one with everyone who attended.|
Meanwhile, Grossman is working to get his name on the ballot as well. As he harkened back to his business days to support those initiatives, he did the same Wednesday to explain why he is running for governor.
"I am running for a very simple reason. I believe the people in this commonwealth want a proven leader that will leave no one behind," he said.
As a businessman, he spoke with small businesses across the state about the "roadblocks" in the way of growth. He heard about the cost of health insurance and the need for technical assistance but even more importantly was the need for access to capital.
When he was elected treasurer he started the Small Business Banking Partnership, which took some of the state's reserves from overseas banks and transferred them into loans to businesses. Grossman said Starbase Technology, a Pittsfield molding company, was able to secure a loan through that fund and purchased three new pieces of equipment and added 17 jobs.
Across the state, Grossman says more than $308 million has been loaned to community banks specifically for local businesses while those loans are now worth more than $570 million.
He added that advanced manufacturing, life sciences and green technology jobs are high paying and are an opportunity for growth.
Grossman said he wants to continue to invest in education and rid the state of the waiting lists for early education programs and put more money into vocational programs. Locally, Grossman, who as treasurer is chairman of the Massachusetts School Building Authority, said he is fully supportive of building a new Taconic High School.
"That is the key to our economic future," he said. "There is no reason why manufacturing, which is in the bones, the DNA of this commonwealth for decades, generations — think Pittsfield, think Greenfield, think North Adams, think Chicopee, think Holyoke, think Fall River, think New Bedford — advanced and precision manufacturing. I've set a goal to create 50,000 new manufacturing jobs in this commonwealth in five years."
Overall, Grossman is hoping to pass on the values that were passed onto him. Grossman said his grandfather once told him that he only wanted four things in life — a healthy family, educated children, to own his own business and to give back to the community. And those four things are what Grossman said he wants all residents to have a chance to do.
Independent Candidate For Governor Campaigns In North Adams
|Evan Falchuk shaking hands with voters as he marched in the Fall Foliage Parade in North Adams on Sunday.|
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Evan Falchuk has been keeping his boots on the ground in his campaign for governor.
On Sunday, that took him to the Fall Foliage Parade to meet Berkshire County voters.
|Falchuk outside of the iBerkshires office after an interview.|
Alcombright Rallies Supporters at Campaign Event
|Richard Alcombright 'energized' his campaign with a rally at Public on Tuesday.|
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city's mayoral campaign is heating up as the incumbent fired back at his challenger to a packed Public restaurant on Tuesday night.
Richard Alcombright is running for a third two-year term in the corner office against Robert M. Moulton Jr., a former city councilor and local businessman.
"I have been waiting to hear his platform, to hear what is so bad, to try to wrap my arms around why he would run," said Alcombright about his former supporter, saying Moulton's kick off remarks more than a week ago "reeked of the past."
"My biggest disappointment with his announcement is that the same Bob Moulton supported me four years ago on the hope that past practices would be just that ... past practices."
Alcombright reiterated some of the highlights of his administration, including the cutting the city's deficit from $2.6 million to $335,000 this fiscal year through cuts and tax increases; the development of the Health and Human Services Center to keep critical state social services in North Adams and lobbying the state to ensure the courts and the Registry of Motor Vehicles stays here; the openings or expansions of at least 30 new businesses, from Public to the Walmart Supercenter to the retention of Crane's stationery division.
He singled out Moulton's comments about the downtown losing momentum and the need for an economic plan to help Main and Eagle streets. Moulton's family has operated Moulton's Spectacle Shoppe on Main Street and in Bennington, Vt., for years.
"He talks about downtown revitalization and that all I have done are benches and pocket parks and that I use social events to mask the problems in our business district," said Alcombright. "My guess then is that he works in Bennington way too much to have not realized that the vacancy rate in our downtown is the lowest it has been in two decades."
That comment and others received hoots and applause from the crowded room that included local officials and business owners, many from Main Street.
Councilors President Michael Bloom, Keith Bona, Jennifer Breen, David Bond, Nancy Bullett and Lisa Blackmer were in attendance along with former Pittsfield Mayor James Ruberto, city department heads and council hopefuls Kate Merrigan, Benjamin Lamb, Joshua Moran and David Robbins.
Alcombright promised further economic development with the long awaited proposal for Western Gateway Heritage State Park set to be announced on Wednesday afternoon. The privatization of the park has been in the works for nearly two years.
He also jabbed Moulton for implying the city's police force was not well trained and expanded on the efforts being made to combat crime and its sources — poverty and drug abuse — through task forces and partnerships with local service agencies.
"We are no longer blind to these realities and, as a community, we need to admit to and address these problems," he said, "and I have."
North Adams, he said, was still one of the most affordable communities to live in, ranking 330 out of state's 340 towns and cities in terms of most-taxed municipalities.
"We will be unveiling our master plan in the first quarter of next year, that plan when given to the community and driven by our recently hired planner under the direction of our community development director holds significant promise and will be our roadmap for the future," he said, dismissing his challenger's intent to use the 20-year-old Hyatt-Palma report.
Moulton has laid out an "action" plan he says will stick to basics and revitalize the city and accused Alcombright of having no plan and managing the city's finances poorly.
The fundraiser was designed to "energize" the Alcombright campaign, which has been fairly quiet since his announcement to run in late June. The two candidates are expected to have at least two debates before the November election.
Coakley Visits Berkshire Cities for Governor's Race Kickoff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Attorney General Martha Coakley will announce for governor on Monday at the beginning of a three-day swing through the state that will bring her to the Berkshires on Tuesday.
The North Adams native had been among the high-profile Democrats expected to declare — one way or the other — on their interest in the state's top office.
In a statement, Coakley said, “Massachusetts is poised to take off. We can either grab this moment and move forward together, or risk falling behind.
"I believe we must continue to rebuild our economy in a way that gives everyone the opportunity to succeed, and launch new education reforms so that every child and adult has the skills they need to compete in a global economy."
Coakley will officially announce her gubernatorial campaign by video at www.marthacoakley.com and start the day Monday greeting voters in Medford, Brockton, Attleboro, Fall River, New Bedford and Hyannis. On Tuesday and Wednesday she will campaign in Newton, Framingham, Worcester, Springfield, Pittsfield, North Adams, Boston, Lowell, Lawrence, Newburyport, Gloucester, and Salem among other stops.
Democrats who have already lined up for governor include Treasurer Steven Grossman, who announced at the Democratic convention earlier this summer; Dr. Donald Berwick, former Medicare chief; Joseph Avellone of Wellesley, a biotech executive; and Juliette Kayyem, a former Homeland Security official. State Sen. Dan Wolf of Harwich has suspended his campaign pending appeal to the Ethic Commission to reconsider its ruling that his interest Cape Air impedes his ability to serve in public office.
Running as an independent is Evan Falchuk of Newton; Charlie Baker, who ran unsuccessfully in 2012, is so far the only Republican candidate.
The last time Coakley was in the region to meet with publicly with local leaders was as keynote speaker at a Berkshire Chamber breakfast last August. Coakley talked about her office's efforts to reduce the number of abandoned properties caused by the fallout of the global recession.
Newton Candidate Blurring Party Lines In Governor Race
|Independent candidate Evan Falchuk meeting with voters earlier this year.|
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — In 2012, Newton native Evan Falchuk grew tired of the bickering in politics. And instead of siding with the Democrats or the Republicans, he decided to side with the 53 percent of Massachusetts voters who are unenrolled.
Falchuk is a founding member of United Independent, a designation he hopes to turn into a recognized political party, and is running for governor. His platform is relatively simple — to take a practical, pragmatic approach at solving the state's problems.
"People want to be involved in the decision-making process," the 43-year-old said in an interview on Tuesday. "We're finding our appeal is across the political spectrum."
He uses the state's recent transportation bill as an example of how politics have not fixed a problem. Falchuk says the state's transportation infrastructure is absolutely a problem but prior to the governor pitching his plan earlier this year, residents had ranked it very low in their priorities. In just a short period of time, the governor and Legislature battled over a transportation bill, and passed one that is not enough to fix all the problems. Meanwhile, residents were, for the most part, left out of the process.
"I believe the state is not transparent enough with how we spend taxpayer money," he said. "We need to have to confidence and faith in our government ... voters feel they can only do so much."
So Falchuk's No. 1 priority is to implement fundamental change in how government works. Not just communicating with voters better — though that is an issue, he says — but leading the way so that from the governor's office down, decisions are made in a much more democratic way.
"We've got a political system that is broken," he said. "My No. 1 priority is to rebuild faith in our government."
By getting more people involved and blurring party lines, Falchuk believes he can begin solving some of the state's problems. Particularly he would like the change the tax system to become more progressive, lower the cost of living and doing business, address the economic inequalities among residents and identify barriers that slow small businesses. He calls for going through the budget line by line and analyzing if each department is spending the money correctly.
But Falchuk says to revamp the system, there needs to be a strong, innovative and smart leader at the helm. He believes he's the one for the job.
"I'll put my resume up against anybody else running for governor," he said, but added that isn't why he should "be hired" — it's the extra effort he's willing to put in that elevates him against the rest.
Falchuk was a Washington, D.C., attorney working on Securities and Exchange Commission cases before becoming an executive of Best Doctors Inc., a research company that ensures patients get the right diagnoses. Since he joined in 1999, the Best Doctors has grown from six employees to some 600 people.
But after becoming frustrated with politics, he's resigning his position to concentrate on his political campaign.
"You can either complain about it or you can get a shovel and dig. Nothing happens until people do something," Falchuk said.
Other candidates who have announced for the gubernatorial race in 2014 are Dan Wolf, Joseph Avellone and Don Berwick. Treasurer Steve Grossman is also expected to join the race.