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Falchuk spoke to some two dozen people who attended the meet and greet.

Falchuk Looking To Grow Independent Party, Reject Olympics

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Former independent gubernatorial candidate Evan Falchuk held a meet and greet at Starbase Technologies Saturday night.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — When Gov. Deval Patrick announced in July that state taxpayers would spend $1 billion to expand the Boston Convention Center, it became Evan Falchuk's favorite example of how the state's priorities were out of whack.
 
He was running for governor at the time and forming the new United Independent Party. He didn't win the state's top executive office but the party did reel in enough votes to become recognized by the state.
 
Official parties can raise up to $15,000 from individuals while unofficial parties can only raise $1,500.
 
"You always hear Democrats and Republicans talking about money in politics. They know how to keep it out, but they just keep it out for the people who want to compete with them," Falchuk said.
 
"As an official party you get to play by a little bit better rules in terms of access to the ballot and fund raising."
 
Despite the lack of fundraising, being excluded from debates and being unknown, the new party was able to get that designation. But keeping it is another challenge.
 
"There are a lot of rules in place that prevent people from doing what we did," Falchuk said. 
 
On Saturday, he returned to Starbase Technologies on Peck's Road, where he gained a lot of support during a campaign stop. Falchuk is pushing the party's next initiatives as it attempts to grow. 
 
Those steps are to enroll voters as United Independent members, grow grass-roots support, field candidates in local races, and prevent taxpayer money from going to the Olympics, Falchuk's latest example of wrong priorities.
 
Falchuk needs to get 1 percent of voters — around 50,000 — to declare party membership in order to keep it official recognition or get 3 percent to vote United Independent in the next statewide election. But the next election in 2016 will be presidential and the fledgling party won't have statewide offices to run in or to vote in the presidential primaries.
 
In Massachusetts, unenrolled voters can vote in primaries for any party; others can only vote in primaries for the parties in which the are enrolled. Since United Independent is currently too young to have a presidential candidate, declared United Independent voters will be excluded from those primaries. 
 
Falchuk is asking voters to give up that primary to register in United Independent and keep that 1 percent registration margin all the way to 2018, when it will have statewide candidates on the ballot. He reminded voters that they can switch over to unenrolled if they want to vote in the primaries when that comes, but to come back to his side when they are done.
 
While the party won't have a candidate on the presidential ballot, it will be focusing on issues. The party's first major initiative after becoming official is its newest example of how the state's priorities are out of whack: the 2024 Summer Olympics. 
 
Boston was recently selected by the U.S. Olympics Committee to represent the United States in bidding in September for the Summer Games. The International Olympics Committee is not expected to make a decision until 2017.
Following a campaign for governor, Falchuk is back on the road campaigning against the Olympics and to grow his party.

"They want to spent about $5 billion — $4.7 billion — that they are going to raise from sponsors. They say there are about $5 billion in transportation improvements that the taxpayers will pay for. We supposedly already decided to do those transportation improvements but that's not actually true," Falchuk said.

"The history of the Olympic Games is that they cost 200 times more than people estimate." 

Falchuk claimed that, on average, the cost will be closer to $15 billion to $20 billion, with the excess being picked up by the taxpayers. As the party's first initiative, he's pushing for a ballot question to be placed on the statewide ballot in 2016 to prevent taxpayer money from being used on hosting the Olympics.
 
"Our highest priorities should be that our schools are funded; that there are job training programs for veterans and seniors where there are shortfalls. That's what you think our government should be doing," Falchuk said. 
 
The Olympics is headed by a group of construction company heads and lobbyists, he said, while both sides of the political aisle support it.
 
"They don't want you involved in the process. The mayor of Boston has been very supportive of this. The governor of Massachusetts, a Republican, has been happy about it. The Republicans in Legislature aren't complaining about this. The silence across both parties is pretty startling," he said, accusing party officials of caring more about helping their friends who will make money on the contracts than the taxpayers.
 
With the dual focus, the party has a lot of work ahead of them. United Independent, now with six full-time employees, has goals to change not only change politics in Massachusetts but to eventually change the entire two-party system nationwide.

Tags: Olympics,   united independent,   voter registration,   


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Pittsfield: Toters Are a Go

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city is toter-lly ready for a new trash system.

Call it a victory for Mayor Peter Marchetti, who was able push through in six months a new waste pickup model that had eluded his predecessors. 

The City Council approved draft five-year contracts with Casella Waste Management on Tuesday, moving Pittsfield from unlimited curbside collection to automated collection with 48-gallon toters for trash and recycling.

Recycling will begin on Sept. 13 and trash routes will start on Oct. 18 with toters provided at no cost to residents. Officials predict this will trim the trash budget by about $600,000 to $4.6 million, with $80,000 in savings embedded in the FY25 operating budget.

"There has been more communication and education, at least, about this rollout than I've seen before," Councilor at Large Kathy Amuso said.

Solid waste and recycling pickup was the main point of contention.

The contract for collection passed 8-3 with Councilor at Large Alisa Costa, Ward 1 Councilor Kenneth Warren, and Ward 5 Councilor Patrick Kavey in opposition and the contract for Casella's operation of the transfer station at 500 Hubbard Ave passed unanimously.

Warren explained that he is not against the contract but has issues with the procedure and some of the terms. He suggested that if the councilors "really don't scrutinize this contract," they are doing a disservice to the city.

"We need to learn by our recent mistakes. The settlement contract case where we were sued, the cannabis case, by companies based on the contract and without getting into specifics, let's just say better scrutiny of the contract would have protected city taxpayers," he said.

"And someone will say 'Well, that doesn't apply here' but there are minor errors in the contract as we talk that have not been addressed."

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