Council Candidate Chaput: Vote for the Future
At MCLA, I am studying political science, economics, American history, and family studies. I came to North Adams from my hometown of Dracut. Immediately, I fell in love with the city and became engaged in its endless possibilities.
In my years at MCLA, I have volunteered and worked (more the former than the latter) in the community and learned the importance of shopping locally. I have spent time lobbying our representatives, collecting goods for local charities, and connecting with local youth. This past summer, I rented an apartment in North Adams and got an unpaid internship in Mayor Alcombright's office instead of living with my parents in Leominster. North Adams is now my home.
I worked in the mayor's office all summer, going through files dating back to the 1960s and current files. I compiled both budgets and all council packets. I took this time to thoroughly understand the process of city governance.
Like the majority of cities in the world at this point, the biggest problem facing North Adams is our economy. We need to tackle this by creating new and innovative sources of revenue, consolidating costs, cutting unnecessary expenses (regardless of how small), taking advantage of assets in the community (MCLA) and rebuilding reserves.
I can provide a perspective to the City Council that it has never had. I have my future in mind of the next 70 years. I have the insight from living in various places in the state. I have the fresh education from well-traveled and experienced professors with the most up-to-date information on the most pressing issues our society faces.
I understand that MCLA has administrative representation in city governance, but if we want to retain more of the hundreds of graduates as citizens of North Adams, we need a student perspective. The community needs to take students seriously as potential lifelong citizens of North Adams. It happens in other cities, why not North Adams?
Another huge problem facing our society, including North Adams, is our lack of understanding of how the system works. Our City Council should be spending more time explaining what is going on and why. The council is elected to represent the citizens and cannot properly do so if they are left in the dark.
I apologize for the lack of publicity but as I said, I am a junior at a state school. My peers and I have enough income to survive, not enough to spend on bumper stickers, balloons, Web advertisments, and fancy lawn signs. I have been getting my voice heard at community meetings to get publicity instead. If you want someone who is used to working with a low budget, as a broke college student, paying for my education by myself, I'm pretty good.
If you'd like to talk or volunteer, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am the future of North Adams and I would like your vote on Tuesday.
Breen Kirsch Gets Nuciforo Endorsement for City Council
"Jennifer has the educational background, work ethicand vision to provide leadership for the city," Nuciforo said. "Her strong commitment to serve will benefit the people of North Adams, and I endorse her without reservation."
"I would just like to thank Andy for his support today," Breen Kirsch said. "I have much respect for him as an attorney,and as a respected political figure in Berkshire County. I know him and his wife Elena personally, and I look forward to working with him on behalf of our fine city."
Breen Kirsch earned her bachelor of science degree from Union College, and a law degree from Northeastern University School of Law. She served as an assistant district attorney in the Middlesex district attorney's office before returning to her hometown of North Adams to enter private practice. She has recently opened Breen Law Office and Mediation, located in Building 13, second floor at Mass MOCA.
Breen Kirsch has served as chairman of the North Adams Housing Authority and serves on the Berkshire Commission on the Status of Women. She is one of 16 candidates seeking election to the North Adams City Council.
Nuciforo Endorses Blackmer for City Council
"Lisa has shown her willingness to work with others to address the issues facing North Adams," Nuciforo said. "She does her homework. Her work ethic and commitment to improving the local economy are impressive. I am pleased to give Lisa my support."
"I would like to thanks Andrea for his support," Blackmer said. "This endorsement adds to the forward momentum for my City Council campaign and I look forward to working with Andrea on addressing the issues facing our great city."
Blackmer is seeking re-election to her third term on the City Council. She has served on numerous city and regional organizations such as the Northern Berkshire Food Festival, Berkshire Food Project, Fall Foliage Parade and Festival Committee, and the North Adams Open Studios Committee. She is a graduate of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, holding a degree in business administration.
Ward 5 Candidates Spar Over 2005 Strip-Club Permit
|Ward 5 candidates Jonathan Lothrop and J.Joseph Breault have traded jabs over the extent of Breault's involvement with a proposed strip club six years ago.|
The controversy began at the Oct. 24 debate at Berkshire Community College. Incumbent Ward 5 Councilor Jonathan Lothrop, in his closing remarks, said he was "disappointed" in what he described as opponent J. Joseph Breault's proposal to open a strip club at the site of the former Munchies Pub.
The debate closed on that, leaving no time for Breault to respond to this, and the candidates were seen exchanging tense words during the post-debate handshake.
In a letter to the editor printed in Wednesday's Berkshire Eagle, Breault fired back, accusing Lothrop of launching "a low blow and a false accusation." He said that at the time, he had been entertaining possible buyers for the restaurant, and it was they, not he, who had sought to open the adult establishment.
"I had no interest in bringing a strip club to the former restaurant," Breault said in his letter.
In response, Lothrop issued a statement Thursday defending his remarks. "In Mr. Breault's letter to the Berkshire Eagle of November 2, 2011, he attacked my integrity for bringing up this issue. If these facts were not true, I never would have raised it as an issue.
"Mr. Breault admits his role in attempting to sell the property to someone who wanted to open a strip club, in his letter to the Eagle. Mr. Breault's statement that, 'I had no interest in bringing a strip club to the former restaurant,' is itself a false statement."
To support his claim, Lothrop pointed to records from the Zoning Board of Appeals that feature Mr. Breault's name and signature, as the owner of the property, on the application for an Adult Entertainment Permit.
"I think it is more than fair to say that Mr. Breault was in favor of his own application."
Documents obtained by iBerkshires include a 2005 application to the zoning Board of Appeals to construct a new facility at 1525 West Housatonic Street "to offer adult entertainment," specifically "live nude dancing from Noon to 2 A.M." The primary applicant is listed as Michael Brisbois, MJB Management, of Springfield, and includes his signature as applicant as well as that of J.Joseph Breault as the property owner. According to information provided in the Board of Appeals' report on the application hearing, under the business proposal being submitted the property was to be purchased by Finch LLC from Mr. Breault, and leased to MJB Management who would have operated the club.
At the June 1, 2005, hearing, attorney Daniel Kelly of Springfield presented a presentation of the proposal at a hearing before the Zoning Board of Appeals. Two area residents, Ron Blaszak of Lenox and Steve Fillio of Pittsfield, spoke in favor of the application, while Councilors Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Dan Bianchi, Pamela Malumphy, Lou Costi, Linda Tyer, and Lothrop, along with administrators from nearby Hancock Shaker Village and the Ramada Inn, and numerous other neighbors in Ward 5 spoke against it.
In the ZBA's ruling to deny the permit, one problem cited in the report was that "The applicant does not own the property. The application is signed by Michael Brisbois as the the applicant and Joseph Breault as owner. No information is provided regarding the current relationship between the applicant and owner."
Board members John Fitzgerald, Sylvia Stein, Ben Kaplan, Hank Ervin, and Albert A. Igegni III voted unanimously to deny the Special Permit request.
Pittsfield Ward 4 Candidates Offer Experience, New Ideas
Ozias "Chuck" Vincelette and Christopher J. Connell faced off last Monday in one of a series of debates for candidates sponsored by The Pittsfield Gazette and Pittsfield Community Television, and hosted at Berkshire Community College. The moderator was David Cachat of PCTV.
They are vying to replace outgoing Ward 4 Councilor Michael Ward. Connell lead Vincelette by less than 100 votes in September's preliminary, which left third-place candidate James Brosnan out of the running. Connell failed to best Ward two years ago; Vincelette is seeking a return to the council after being defeated by Ward in 2005.
Connell said he had learned a lot since his defeat in 2009 about safety, taxes and PCB issues, and touted his current involvement in the city. The property manager has served on the Traffic Commission and on local boards like the Pittsfield Family YMCA and participation in fundraisers for local organizations. He moved to the city nine years ago.
Vincelette touted his 40 years living in the ward and his prior service representing it, and pointed to his years as a math teacher at Pittsfield High and in local banking. He upbraided Connell for a candidate's statement on PCTV that claimed Vincelette had done nothing to contribute to the city in the past six years. "I take exception, strong exception" to that statement, he said. "Because it is simply not true."
Vincelette said the problem goes back a decade and is further complicated by the several different speed limits along the road. "It all has to do with enforcement," he said, suggesting that "police officers on their time off come in and write citations ... They would get paid based on the number of citations they write."
Connell claimed he'd mentioned hiring enforcement officers at a prior debate "to not only monitor Holmes Road and Ward 4 but the other hotspots in the city." Rather than overtime, he said the city should hire a traffic officer and that the revenue "for wirting tickets would more than pay for the salary, the vehicle, and whatnot for this type of officer." Using electronic enforcement might also work, Connell said.
Neither really supported the plan proffered by the state for remediating the polychlorinated biphenyls from the so-called "Rest of the River," which includes dredging Woods Pond.
"I would personally like to see all the PCBs taken out but there are things to consider, for example the ecosystem ... and the property values," said Connell. "If we go to bank-to-bank remediation, the property values for those homes on the river are going to go down dramatically and people are going to be trapped because they won't be able to sell their houses."
He held out hope that advances in technology would allow a less invasive cleanup.
Vincelette said the city hadn't actually seen the plan yet, that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would decide the course in conjunction with the state. Of concern was the fact that city no longer had an official voice in the issue becuase of the consent agreement.
"All we can do is accept the decision. There's only one dog in this fight and it's the EPA," he said. "We're all wiating to find out what is the final decision."
They both supported continued municipal trash pickup, with Vincelette saying its a service that works well for citizens and Connell advocating for more education to increase recycling and reduce costs.
Both believed the city needs to change its budget review process.
"The process we have now starts only a month before the budget has to be approved and certified," said Connell. "Starting earlier will give us more in-depth perception of what's actually in the line items. ... what areas we could tweak a little bit."
Vincelette thought the current processs "is an excerise in futility" that has failed to rein in spending. "We tried to cut the capital budget but we actually raised it by $450,000," he said, suggesting a "select subcommittee" do a separate review and report back to the entire council. "You'll never get six people to agree to a cut.
Both also came down against replacing the school bus fleet at this point. The buses were purchased five years ago with the pledge to set aside money for replacements.
Vincelette said the school system had promised to do that for years with no results. "It's never going to be set aside yet we still have the problem of bringing our kids to school," he said, adding the city needed to explore other options including reviewing routes that appeared to have to few children riding.
Connell said the city should to look into leasing. "The bottom line is, we bought a new fleet, the money was supposed to be put aside every year to purchase a new fleet and it wasn't now we have to deal with it," he said. "We have to weigh all the costs, all the options and pick the best one."
In closing, Vincelette said it was "time to talk turkey" and laid out his credentials and experience within the ward and community. "Living a life of honest work, civic engagement and straight talk; this is the experience and traits I want to bring to the council table."
Connell called for new ideas. "We need new and innovative ideas to press forward in this difficult times," he said, adding he'd have a website and other social media to keep in contact with constituents. "The ways of the past just don't work anymore ... we're in the 21st century."