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Alexander Blumin is a student of the Constitution and

Blumin Wants to Bring Conservative Voice to City Council

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Alexander Blumin felt compelled to run for City Council because he says the city's government isn't functioning on behalf of the citizens.
"I'm running for city councilor at large because I seen so much incompetence, confusion, and even violations of Massachusetts General law," he said. "I could not resist myself and I decided that I need to try, OK, I need to try to run to fix this."
Blumin has been a regular attendee at City Council meetings over the past few years, frequently critiquing the council's actions, budgets and what he says is a lack of transparency and accountability.  
Armed with a copy of the U.S. Constitution, Blumin described himself as contrarian and conservative and said people who hold  his views have difficulty running for positions in Massachusetts. 
"It is my duty to bring it to the people, conservative ideas," he said. "Our belief in federal law, our belief in United States Constitution, as it was written, not a breathing and living document. It is given by founding fathers."
He was particularly frustrated with the Human Rights Commission, which he said did not understand the Open Meeting Law and wanted people to be able to submit complaints privately. He said he asked to give the commission a presentation but was refused. 
"I openly stated to them that as a conservative person, I would like to explain conservative views," he said. "And they did not bring my letter even to the table."
Blumin said he was incredulous that he would be asked to give a preview of what he wanted to speak because his views might be offensive. 
"They ask me, American citizen, not to talk about certain things. I was in disbelief. I said, 'Excuse me. I'm a little bit confused. Can you repeat what you just said?'" he said, adding he planned to speak on civil rights. "United States is basically one among the few countries in the world with unlimited free speech. OK? Completely unlimited guaranteed by Constitution, except quote 'for violence' and quote 'for terrorism' are not allowed."
This violation of his basic right to speak is why he's running, he said.
Blumin emigrated from Ukraine in 1994 and almost immediately began the process of becoming an American citizen. He was naturalized in 1999. He spent his first years here in Brooklyn, N.Y., and moved to Pittsfield in 2005. He operates a real estate rental business and has had a real estate license in New York. He holds an associate degree in industrial technology and has community college credits in a number of fields. 
He said he's tried to become involved in local government but the administration has not been welcoming. Too much of the city government is tied up by special interests, Blumin said, particularly the School Committee.
"All the people are ex-teachers, ex-educators, their wives, their relatives, all of them. Very rare you can find some person who was not working or still not working for School Department," he said. "This is super corruption. They basically create money to feed their family and friends. It should not be like that."
He says that special interest groups have seized power in city's administration, describing the School Department's more than 1,500 employees; "not all" but some of the Police Department's 120-150 employees; and the Fire Department "because they have a school union, they have police union."
Being on the City Council will allow him to have input on the school budget, he said, noting that all education costs aren't included in the School Department's $63 million spending plan. 
"I'm saying the school budget is excessive," he said. He questioned the number secretaries and the department having a separate finance structure. When the city got an extra $5 million in state education funds, about a million was used for hiring 19 teachers across grades.
"So two months ago, 19 educators were not necessary. Now it's necessary," he exclaimed.
Blumin also doesn't believe that education is a primary concern of voters as another council candidate said. 
"I was asking people myself, not even one person [said education]. I'm not concerned about education. Why? Because we have superintendent with a $150,000 salary. He should be concerned. We have 1,500 educators. This is their job to be concerned. We paid them $63 million."
He disagreed with the decision to forgive the loans to the Beacon Cinema and using the General Electric Economic Development Fund to underwrite Covanta upgrades. "We could have bought this Covanta completely instead of giving them half-million dollars," he said.
Having had experience with authoritarian governments, Blumin is adamant that democratic principles guide him.
"I don't want socialism. I don't want communism anywhere in the United States, including Pittsfield," he said. "I want to represent residents, including people who work everywhere, including School Department and police that are just some people in Police Department as well."
Blumin faces off against incumbents Earl Persip, Peter Marchetti and Peter White and newcomers Jay Hamling, Auron Stark, Yuki Cohen and Richard Latura on Tuesday for four at-large seats on the City Council.

Tags: candidate interviews,   city election,   election 2019,   Pittsfield city council ,   

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New Wahconah High Going Up Fast

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

School Building Committee co-Chairman Tom Callahan, left, with MSBA Executive Director Jack McCarthy. The old high school is in the background.
DALTON, Mass. — A traditional topping off ceremony was held on Thursday to mark the completion of the steel skeleton for what will be Wahconah Regional High School. 
School officials gathered to mark the milestone with the sounds of construction and sparks from welding giving proof that their vision was being made reality after a  long and arduous process. 
"As far as this building goes, the process by which to make it happen to get the vote was an arduous one," said Principal Aaron Robb. "I would say that this building was willed into existence. Absolutely 100 percent willed into existence."
Robb had only been principal three days when news came that the high school had been accepted into the feasibility stage with the Massachusetts School Building Authority. The four-year process to get to Thursday was fraught with division as the seven towns in the Central Berkshire Regional School District last year weighed the worth of the $72.7 million project.
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