Congressman Richard Neal

Congressman Richard Neal
STOP "LUCIFORO" in 2012! ***************

Friday, March 17, 2017

Luciforo invested in a Pittsfield medical marijuana dispensary!



Attorney Andrea Nuciforo presented the Zoning Board of Appeals copies of the floor plans on Wednesday night.

“Medical Marijuana Dispensary On Pace To Open In Pittsfield Soon”
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff, March 16, 2017

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Construction is on pace for what could be the first medical marijuana dispensary in the county.

Khem Organics has started renovations to a building on Dalton Avenue, which currently houses Jay's Custom Muffler & Auto, Casey's Billiards, and used to house the Salvation Army store. All three businesses are vacating the facility to make way for the dispensary.

"Our goal is to be substantially complete in about six weeks and we are online for that. We've filed for a building permit and obtained a building permit. It is mostly interior renovations," said Frank DeMarinis, the Sage Engineering president and the engineer on the project.

"It is on schedule to be growing in six weeks and then in about another two months after that to go to sale."

The company filed detailed floor plans with the city and the Zoning Board of Appeals ruled that the changes to expand into additional space weren't significant enough to require another permit. The plans had evolved from originally using about 14,000 square feet of the building, taking over just the Salvation Army storefront, to using the entire building.

"We're occupying the entire building in lieu of Casey's Billiards and the muffler spot in the back," DeMarinis said.

The expanded footprint, however, doesn't come with any increases in volume, he said. The plans previously submitted were conceptual, needed spaces for break rooms, offices, and utility rooms, and it was determined that it needed more space to grow than previously anticipated.

While the company will use more space to grow the cannabis, it intends to produce the same amount per month.

"We weren't planning on increasing production. We were planning to produce the same amount," DeMarinis told the ZBA.

The move does reduce the required number of parking spaces from 54 to 45, but DeMarinis said the company is still sticking with the same plan for parking. The ZBA was particularly fond of the changes because it makes the entire building one use, and not multiple.

"I think it is a better environment not having Casey's there and having it be a one-use facility," DeMarinis said.

Casey's Billiards uses the most space in the building. But, the lease is going to be ended by Nov. 1. DeMarinis said right now the former Salvation Army space is being renovated with grow rooms and retail. After Casey's moves, the next phase of the project will unfold.

"We don't need that space right now for construction and development of the retail space," DeMarinis said. "When they are gone we will demo everything in there, clean it up into more sterile space."

Khem is just one of three medical marijuana facilities in Pittsfield to receive a provisional license. Attorney Andrea Nuciforo, an investor in Khem, said the company is currently in the "architectural review" period in which the state keeps a close eye on the floor plans and development proposals.

"That process has been exhaustive and comprehensive," Nuciforo said.

On Wednesday, the company brought those floor plans to the Zoning Board of Appeals, submitting them to the Office of Community Development. The company hopes to start growing in six weeks and then open for retail shortly after.

"We've begun construction on the facility and we've made good progress," Nuciforo said.

Two other medical marijuana projects are also in the works. Temescal Wellness, which is an offshoot of the former Manna Wellness, plans to build a new facility on Callahan Drive. Heka Health is looking to open just down the street from Khem at the former Countrywide Rentals on Dalton Avenue.

Currently, there is not a medical marijuana facility within an hour drive of the city.

Those three will also have the first crack at getting a license to sell recreationally but it isn't known if any of them are intending to pursue that.



Letter: “Pot is about the money”
The Berkshire Eagle, August 4, 2017

To the editor:

Isn't it ironic that at the same time we are trying to eradicate the use of tobacco we are legalizing the use of another substance that is probably more carcinogenic — marijuana?

I guess that's OK as long as our government can tax it.

Greg Keen,


Sunday, February 7, 2010

"Luciforo" is a voice for shared parenting

"Shared parenting not an obstacle"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letters, February 7, 2010

We at the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition certainly do not claim that Scott Brown was elected because of his support of shared parenting. However, the election of Brown by a considerable margin clearly demonstrates that being an outspoken supporter of shared parenting is hardly an obstacle to political success. Why would it?

In 2004, we put a public policy question on shared parenting on the ballot in about 25 percent of all Massachusetts precincts. It won by 87 percent, an unprecedented margin of victory. It is this ability to connect with what the people want and need that propelled Brown into office. We expect similar success for the likes of former state Senator Andrea Nuciforo, another strong advocate for shared parenting, when he makes his bid for Congressman John Olver's seat.

It is likely that the economy will be poor in November. Those who want to get elected and stand for "change" might consider really getting something done for once and finally make shared parenting law. People are so sick of more of the same, empty rhetoric, and political sloganeering.

Great Barrington, Massachusetts
The author is an officer of the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition
(no comments)

Rinaldo Del Gallo III

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Luciforo supports Olver in 2010 but opposes Olver in 2012!


United States Representative John Walter Olver (above)
"Luciforo supports Olver in 2010 but opposes Olver in 2012!"


LUCIFORO! (above)

Michael Engel (above)

"Educator to run for Congress"
The (Springfield) Republican (Online), September 16, 2009

SOUTHAMPTON - Michael Engel, a professor emeritus of political science at Westfield State College and former Easthampton selectman, will run in 2010 as an independent candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1st Congressional District, currently represented by Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst.

Engel, who served on the Easthampton Select Board and School Committee in the 1990s, is seeking the 2,000 signatures needed to place his name on the ballot.

In a statement, Engel said he believes "the federal government is wasting time and money trying to fix the old, failed economic and financial system, and that working people have gained little or nothing from those efforts." He called on "citizens to start building a new system."

Olver, who has held his seat for 18 years, served three terms in the state House of Representatives before serving nine terms in the state Senate. In 1991, he won a special election to replace U.S. Rep. Silvio O. Conte, who died in office.

Former state Sen. Andrea Nuciforo, a Democrat, announced in July that he would make a run for Olver's seat in 2012 but supports Olver's bid for re-election in 2010.

Olver holds a seat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

The 1st Congressional District touches the borders of four states - Connecticut, New York, Vermont and New Hampshire - and includes 107 communities.




"2012 race for Congress starts early"
By David Pepose, Berkshire Eagle Staff, December 3, 2010

PITTSFIELD -- The 2012 elections are nearly two years away and the sitting congressman hasn't even been sworn into his next term, but the race for 1st Congressional District -- whatever it may look like in two years -- is heating up.

While questions of redistricting linger as a result of the 2010 U.S. Census, U.S. Rep. John W. Olver says he intends to run for his seat once more in 2012, which may put him head-to-head against Middle Berkshire Register of Deeds Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr.

"I do intend to run for re-election in 2012," Olver, 74, told WAMC Northeast Public Radio. "I'm planning and preparing for that. My experience is that the very best way for me to prepare is to do the very best job I can to promote the interests of the people in my district."

A former University of Massachusetts chemistry professor, Olver has been the U.S. representative in the 1st Congressional District since 1991, having been a member of the state House of Representatives and the state Senate. Olver chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and holds a seat on the House Appropriations Committee.

Olver's announcement comes early, before he even begins the two-year term he won in last month's midterm elections. It also heralds what may be a primary battle with fellow Democrat Nuciforo, who said in July 2009 that he would be aiming for the seat in 2012.

At the time of his initial announcement, Nuciforo wouldn't say what kind of conversation he'd had with the veteran Olver over the positioning of his campaign.

"I have had a very friendly and cordial conversation with the congressman," Nuciforo told The Eagle at the time. "I am not at liberty to discuss the details of the conversation with you."

With the redistricting of Massachusetts and the impending loss of one House member in Congress, there is a possibility that Olver's home base of Amherst may wind up in a district outside of Pittsfield, avoiding a race between the two candidates.

Yet state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, said that with Rep. Olver running for re-election in the 1st Congressional District and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal of Springfield running once more in the 2nd, the chances were strong that Western Massachusetts could retain two congressional seats.

Even with that in mind, Downing said the likelihood of redistricting separating Nuciforo and Olver's races was extremely unlikely.

"Theoretically there are ways you could draw up the district that Amherst and Pittsfield are in different districts, but in reality, there is no likelihood of the two being separate," he said.

When Olver was asked by WAMC if he felt any resentment over Nuciforo allegedly implying that he would not run again, Olver replied, "I do, a little bit."

"But this is not a seat that one owns -- it is a seat you borrow for a period of time as long as your constituents want you to have it," Olver added. "Anybody's free to run -- I have no resentment for the people who ran against me in the last election, and it worked out fine."

Shortly before a reception held in his honor Thursday evening at the ITAM Lodge in Pittsfield, Nuciforo, 46, said his campaign anticipated that Olver would run again.

"Congressman Olver is doing exactly what we thought he would do," Nuciforo said.

Nuciforo said he could not speculate on how other political figures in the Berkshires might react to Olver's intentions.

Nuciforo began his 10-year stint in the state Senate in 1996, and it was a position his father, the late Andrea Sr., also held from 1964 to 1972. The younger Nuciforo, an attorney, stepped aside in 1996 to run for Middle Berkshire Register of Deeds, a post he's held since.

When asked about his decision last year to hold off running in 2010 and run in 2012 instead, Nuciforo said his rationale was based on pragmatism, not insider politics.

"People that know me well know that I prepare carefully and an undertaking as substantial as this one needs preparation," he said. "I thought it was reasonable that we take the time and prepare."

Nuciforo said that the major battles of the 2012 congressional race would "not be between candidates ... [but] about redistricting."

"My intentions have been clear for many months: My name will appear on the ballot for the 1st Congressional District in 2012 -- and that's whether that district includes Amherst or not," Nuciforo said.

"Local pols throw early support behind Olver"
By David Pepose, Berkshire Eagle Staff, December 4, 2010

PITTSFIELD -- Even with two years before the 2012 elections, some political power brokers in the Berkshires have already begun choosing sides in the battle for the 1st Congressional District.

U.S. Rep. John W. Olver confirmed his decision to run for re-election in 2012 this week, which is likely to mean a challenge from Middle Berkshire Register of Deeds Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. of Pittsfield.

"It's important for a sitting mayor to support a sitting congressman who has earned that support," said Pittsfield Mayor James M. Ruberto on Friday. "I have a great deal of respect for Andrea Nuciforo ... but [Olver] has earned that position, and the right to continue in that position."

Ruberto said he had donated to Nuciforo's congressional campaign last year, believing at the time that Olver was not running again.

Following Olver's announcement to run again, however, Ruberto said he would support the incumbent legislator because "[Olver] has been a good friend and very generous in supporting Pittsfield's agenda in Washington."

State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, who worked in Olver's office from 2003 to 2005, said he wasn't surprised about Olver's announcement, and that he stood behind his former employer "110 percent."

"Anyone who puts their name up for Congress ought to be able to say why [Olver] shouldn't be our congressman," Downing said. "Anyone who would seek to unseat him shouldn't simply do it out of personal ambition -- they should have a good reason for it."

Questions loom about the redistricting of Massachusetts' House districts as a result of the 2010 U.S. Census, which could alter the House membership for Massachusetts. Still, it's likely that Olver and Nuciforo would face off in a primary election in 2012.

With that potential showdown still in the air, many well-known political figures in the Berkshires said they would side with Olver.

"Andy's been a great supporter of mine and a good friend," North Adams Mayor Richard J. Alcombright said on Friday. "But I've been in Olver's corner for a long time, and if you're asking me if I'd expect that to change, I'd say no."

Alcombright said that he didn't see Olver's announcement coming, particularly not before the Amherst Democrat is even sworn in for the two-year term he won last month.

"But if all things are equal and there's a primary in two years, you have to look at the big picture," Alcombright said. "If Andy is running against the congressman, you have to look at the big picture."

Nuciforo, 46, signaled his intention to run for the 1st Congressional District seat in July 2009. A former state senator of 10 years, Nuciforo stepped down in 1996 to run for his current post, the Middle Berkshire Register of Deeds.

Meanwhile, Olver, 72, a former chemistry teacher from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, has served as the U.S. Representative for the 1st Congressional District since 1991. A longtime political veteran, Olver chairs the Appropriations subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and sits on the House Appropriations Committee.

Meanwhile, state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli praised the veteran Olver for his intention to run again, which he felt could help protect the 1st Congressional District from redistricting.

"I wasn't taken off guard at all. He's a healthy man. He's passionate about his job," Pignatelli said. "If we lose that congressional seat, the Berkshires lose."

Yet when asked whether he would back Olver or Nuciforo in the coming election, Pignatelli remained noncommittal.

"Two years is a lifetime in politics, and I think it's too early to presume anything's going to happen," Pignatelli said. "I'm not even thinking about it. It's too far in advance."

December 4, 2010

Re: Nuciforo's run

There is no surprise that "Luciforo" plans to challenge Congressman John W. Olver for U.S. Congress. I have written about this event for years. Please review Mary E. Carey's Blog page from 2007 featuring my prediction that "Luciforo" will use his dirty politics to challenge Olver for his seat in Congress.

"Luciforo" is the most insidious, conspiratorial, vindictive and mean-spirited small-town politician with a misguided big-head that I have ever dealt with. "Luciforo" thinks that he is great because his Father was a state Senator and Judge, his Uncle was a Pittsfield State Representative, and his Aunt was Mayor of Pittsfield, who also ran the office politics at Berkshire Community College. Nuciforo has layered his bullying of me since the Spring of 1996 when I was 20 years old. Nuciforo's network manipulated people to harass me and put me in conspiratorial situations. Nuciforo also tried to get my Dad fired from his courthouse job by filing false "ethics" complaints against him. Please review my Blog page explaining the cruelty Nuciforo's network put me through as a young man.

Nuciforo got caught double-dipping with both the state government and big banks and insurance companies. Mary E. Carey blogged my reaction to Nuciforo's illegal conflict of interests.

Nuciforo wants to go to U.S. Congress to in order to represent big banks and insurance companies (NOT the People) so he may take in many thousands of dollars in special interest dollars. Please review my Blog page chronicalling "Luciforo's" corruption in state government.

Nuciforo strong-armed 2 women candidates out of the 2006 state government election for Pittsfield Registrar of Deeds. Please review my Blog page that explains how "Luciforo" views himself when it comes to women and democracy.

When Nuciforo was a State Senator, "Luciforo" voted against the all felon DNA database. Please review my Blog page that list the criminal offenses "Luciforo" would have allowed to be exempted from the all felon DNA database.

I have an entire Blog dedicated to criticizing and dissenting against "Luciforo" and his run for U.S. Congress!

I hope that Congressman John W. Olver stays strong against "Luciforo" and his dirty politics. Nuciforo went after me and my family when I was a young adult to show his political network's (abuses of) power. Nuciforo represents a small-town politician with a big ego who will do anything for power. I hope people read my Blogs, and Mary E. Carey's Blog pages, too, and see what a fraud "Luciforo" is to decency, democracy and good governance.

- Jonathan Melle


"Olver will be part of new majority"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letter to the Editor, December 14, 2010

The Williamstown Democratic Town Committee congratulates John Olver on his election victory this Nov. 2. With his long experience serving the 1st Berkshire District since 1991, Congressman Olver has been a tireless and effective advocate for causes and programs important to Western Massachusetts and to the nation, including land conservation, energy efficiency, transportation development, and workers' rights. We wish him continued good health.

When he runs again in 2012 we will support him, as we look forward to returning a Democratic majority to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Williamstown, Massachusetts
The writer is chair of the WDTC and writes on its behalf.

"Former state senator Andrea Nuciforo Jr. plots a run for Congress"
By BEN STORROW, Staff Writer, - February 23, 2011

When Andrea Nuciforo Jr. ran his first campaign for elected office in 1996, he had little support from the Berkshire County political establishment. Jane Swift, then a state senator representing Berkshire County, announced that she would not seek re-election that year and would instead challenge U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, for a seat in the U.S. Congress.

Six candidates jumped in the race to succeed Swift: one independent, two Republicans and three Democrats. Among them was Ed Reilly, the sitting Democratic mayor of Pittsfield and the favorite of many in the political establishment.

However, that did not deter the then 31-year-old Nuciforo - a member of a family long active in Berkshire County politics - from leaving his job at a Boston law firm to run for the senate seat.

"It was a race where all the inside players were not with us," Nuciforo said in an interview at the Gazette last month. "The sheriff, the state rep, the city council president, everybody who was anybody was not with us. I remember people crossing the street when they saw me coming. And we worked real hard and we won that primary."

Reilly eventually withdrew from the primary race, citing a bad back and the need to care for his elderly relatives, according to reports in the Berkshire Eagle at the time.

Nuciforo went on to win the general election that year and represented Berkshire County in the state senate for the following decade. In 2007, he resigned from his seat to run for Berkshire Middle District Register of Deeds. He won that race and still holds the position today.

Now running for Congress

Yet it is that first 1996 race that is perhaps most important in understanding Nuciforo today. Now 46, the Pittsfield native is crisscrossing western and central Massachusetts to lay the groundwork for a 2012 congressional bid. And much like the 1996 contest, the region's political establishment is lining up behind his likely opponent, Olver, the 11-term Democratic congressman from Amherst who announced in December his intention to seek reelection in 2012.

"I am supporting John Olver," said state Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst. "He said he is running and I am supporting him."

Asked to describe Nuciforo to area residents who may not be familiar with him, Rosenberg said, "He's energetic and ambitious."

State Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield, now occupies the seat on Beacon Hill that Nuciforo once held. And like Nuciforo, he admits to holding Congressional ambitions. But Downing, a former Olver staffer, is adamant that he will not consider such a bid until his former boss announces his retirement.

"So long as John Olver is running for re-election I will support him," Downing said. "If he decided he didn't want to run, I'd take a look at it."

Downing argued that Olver's 20 years in Congress make him an effective advocate for the 107 western and central Massachusetts communities now in the 1st District, saying "the experience and seniority that he has accumulated should not easily be dismissed."

Olver is a member of the Appropriations Committee and the ranking minority member on its Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee.

Nuciforo is not discouraged, saying, "We'll take our support from wherever we can find it ... What we are going to do for the next year is build an organization, raise money and meet voters."

As of Dec. 31, he had raised $130,000 and had $101,537 in his campaign bank account, according to the Federal Elections Commission.

Points to Obama, Patrick

Nuciforo also pointed to the examples of Barack Obama and Deval Patrick, arguing that each represented an example of candidates who won office despite not being the initial choice of the Democratic Party's establishment.

"These races have a certain commonality where you have a favorite inside candidate and then you have someone running from the outside," Nuciforo said. "The Barack Obama example is a perfect one, if you take a look at who is primary opponent was, Hillary Clinton.

"You can take Deval Patrick who had the sitting attorney general (Thomas Reilly) who had run successfully statewide in the previous election cycle," he added. "... You see these races happening all over the country and what you find is that voters want voice."

Nuciforo won't discuss Olver or the possibility of running against him, noting that redistricting, in which the state Legislature will reconfigure the congressional boundaries, has yet to start. Because Massachusetts will lose one of its 10 congressional seats, that could radically alter the shape of each district.

The 1st Congressional District now includes all of Berkshire and Franklin counties and parts of Hampden, Hampshire, Middlesex and Worcester counties.

"There are two big events that have to occur here - first we have to understand what the district is and number two we have to know who the candidates are yet," Nuciforo said when asked about Olver. "It's very premature to say what the race is going to look like."

Sitting congressman

Still, Nuciforo would likely have to defeat a sitting Democratic congressman if he is to win the seat. The other obvious candidate to represent all or part of western Massachusetts is U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, who also has announced his plan to seek re-election. The 2nd Congressional District, which Neal represents, currently includes parts of Hampshire and Hampden counties.

When pressed on why he would run against a sitting member of Congress from his own party, Nuciforo responded, "I certainly am not going to contrast myself or compare myself to any other candidates ... Certainly at this stage when we don't know what the district looks like much less who the other candidates are, I am not going to go down the road of criticizing or comparing other candidates."

Olver, 74, is equally reluctant to discuss a possible challenge by Nuciforo.

"We don't own this district, we rent it," the Amherst congressman said in a recent interview at the Gazette. "Andy is someone who wants to run for Congress."

What Nuciforo does talk about is how the changes he's seen in Pittsfield since he grew up there in the 1960s and 1970s has motivated him to run for Congress.

"I am running to protect and stick up for middle- and working-class people in western Massachusetts," Nuciforo said.

Nuciforo describes the Pittsfield of his youth as a "working-class" town, where most people were employed at General Electric or in manufacturing. The loss of manufacturing jobs in recent years has takena heavy toll on the city's economy, he said.

"Think what Pittsfield looked like in the 1950s, '60s, '70s and '80s, even into the '90s, and you look at the impact this economy has had on small cities and towns today. It's been brutal," Nuciforo said.

"For middle-class families living in places like Westfield, Pittsfield, Holyoke, Fitchburg, these trends have been devastating," he added. "I see it with my own eyes and in my own family."

One of five children, Nuciforo graduated from Taconic High School in Pittsfield in 1982 and the University of Massachusetts in Amherst where he received a bachelor's degree in English in 1986. He has a law degree from Boston University and a master of business administration from New York University.

In the state Senate, Nuciforo served as chair of the Joint Committee on Financial Services and Joint Committee on Banks and Banking. He also served as a member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Political family

Nuciforo comes from a long line of Berkshire County politicians. His father Andrea Nuciforo Sr. served as a state senator there between 1964 and 1973 before being appointed First Justice of the Berkshire Probate and Family Court by former Gov. Francis Sargent. His uncle Thomas C. Wojtkowski was a state representative from Pittsfield for 18 years, and his aunt Anne E. Wojtkowski served as mayor of Pittsfield between 1988 and 1992.

Nuciforo's plan to run for Congress does not come as a surprise to many who know him. Matt Barron, a Democratic political consultant and former Olver staffer, said it has long been known that Nuciforo wanted to run for higher office.

Barron, who lives in Chesterfield, recalled how the pair used to attend ribbon-cutting ceremonies together when Nuciforo was a state senator.

Olver would joke with the young legislator, Barron said, by taking Nuciforo's hand and placing it on his wrist, as if Nuciforo was taking Olver's pulse.

"In those days John would laugh and Andy's face would turn beet red," Barron said.

Ben Storrow can be reached at


"Berkshire County Officials Stress Maintenance of Congressional Lines at Redistricting Hearing" - Patrick Donges (2011-06-14)

PITTSFIELD, MA (WAMC) - More than 80,000; that's how many more residents officials say must be added to the state's first congressional district to maintain its current borders. It is already the largest district in the state containing all of Berkshire and Franklin counties and parts of Hampden, Hampshire, Middlesex, and Worcester counties.

That number was stated Saturday during a hearing in Pittsfield held by the Massachusetts Special Joint Committee on Redistricting, the eighth of 13 hearings being held across the state by the panel of state legislators charged with re-drawing the district lines in advance of the November 2012 elections.

Based on population figures taken from the 2010 census, Massachusetts is slated to lose one of its ten congressional districts in this year's process.

From 2000 to 2010, Berkshire County lost nearly 3 percent of its population, from almost 135,000 residents to just more than 131,200.

State Senator Stanley Rosenberg, senate co-chair of the redistricting committee, broke down the number of residents that would need to be drawn into in the state's three most western congressional districts to maintain their current boundaries.

"On the first congressional district we have to pick up 82,558, the second congressional district is 66,469, and the third is 62,595."

Those figures have stoked strong speculation of consolidation of the state's first and second districts, a move which would force a primary battle between first district Representative John Olver, the eldest member of the delegation, and second district Representative Richard Neal, who has held that seat since 1989.

Olver was the first to speak at Saturday's hearing; his remarks set the stage for most of the testimony that followed.

"The first congressional district encompasses 107 of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts. It has a substantially rural character."

"With a multitude of these small towns, they have shared interests which come from their relatively rural nature. I urge you to reject any plan that might come before you that would split Berkshire County in any way whatsoever."

Berkshire Middle District Register of Deeds Andrea Nuciforo, who has announced he will challenge Olver in a Democratic primary next year, agreed that the county should remain whole.

"It's very important that Berkshire County not be split. I think that would be dreadful. All of Berkshire County together are, as a whole, one community of common interest."

Nuciforo also cited maps drawn by, a non-profit proposing a consolidation of the first and second districts.

"One of the proponents of this thing said, there is frankly no reason to keep two seats headquartered in Western Massachusetts.' That is incorrect."

"There are many, many billions of dollars that are allocated by the federal government every year that go to small towns and small cities. The small towns and small cities, including my hometown of Pittsfield, deserve and need a congressman that will be speaking exclusively for them."

Nuciforo said he believed the committee could maintain the rural nature of the first district by adding Northampton, Hadley, South Hadley and other communities in Middlesex and Worcester counties.

Jack Robinson, CEO of, agrees that the consolidation would be "unfortunate" for Berkshire County residents, however

"It's really unavoidable given the math. The western part of the state has lost population. It's really just an unfortunate consequence that (we) go back to kind of what the maps were in the late 1800's and early 1900's."

As for Nuciforo's suggested changes, again Robinson said they don't add up.

"We looked at that; looking at Northampton, Holyoke, West Springfield, even Longmeadow, some of the larger communities out west. You just can't get enough of them to get to the additional people that you need to create a legal district."


"District lines looking shaky"
By Ned Oliver, Berkshire Eagle Staff, July 24, 2011

As the work of redrawing Massachusetts’ federal and state legislative districts begins, county leaders say it’s still unlikely that Berkshire County will escape the process unscathed.

The redistricting committee recently wrapped up a series of 13 public hearings held in communities throughout Massachusetts, including one in Pittsfield last month.

State Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, the co-chairman of the committee, said he heard essentially the same thing from residents across the state: Don’t touch my district.

"Very few people pointed fingers, but the few times fingers were pointed, they were pointed west," said Rosenberg. "They argue that there’s been a consistent loss in population in Western Massachusetts, you should reduce the number of seats there."

Rosenberg said the committee’s staff is completing its analysis of census data. Soon, he said, committee leaders will begin the process of drawing maps.

The state’s legislative districts are redrawn every 10 years to reflect population changes recorded in the decennial census. Berkshire County’s population shrank from 135,000 residents in 2000 to 131,000 in 2010, while populations grew in eastern parts of the state.

And because of sluggish population growth across the commonwealth, Massachusetts is being forced to merge 10 congressional districts into nine.

According to area politicians, the Berkshires is facing the loss of one state representative, while Western Massachusetts as a whole stands to have its two congressional district merged into one.

At the very least, state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing’s district, already the geographically largest in the state, will be getting even bigger. The Pittsfield Democrat said he’ll have to add another 12,000 constituents to his district by picking up between three and five communities to the east.

Likewise, if one of the county’s four seats in the state House of Representatives isn’t eliminated, those districts will also have to grow by adding more out-of-county communities.

Downing said he’s less concerned about his district growing than he is about the prospect of losing a congressional representative.

"Obviously we know these districts have to change and it’s up to the committee to figure out the best way to do that, but I think that when you have five members of Congress from the state’s 10-member delegation living within 15 minutes of Boston, that part of the state wouldn’t suffer from a lack of voice the way we would if we went from two representatives to one," said Downing.

Rosenberg said special-interest groups in Boston have been pushing plans that call for Western Massachusetts’ 1st and 2nd Congressional districts to be combined. Among those groups is Fair Districts Mass, which contends that because the West’s population is shrinking and the East’s is growing, it’s only fair to redraw congressional districts accordingly.

State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, is worried that concerns about the western half of the state’s congressional representation may be overshadowing what he described as a very real threat to the Berkshire’s representation in the state House of Representatives.

Pignatelli said it’s already a challenge for the county’s four-member delegation in the House to advocate for the region in a body that totals 160 members.

"It’s still not too late for the public to weigh in, and I think people should," he said.

Rosenberg said he hopes to have a preliminary plan before the entire redistricting committee by Thanksgiving.


"Olver's exit averts intraparty fight"

Massachusetts Rep. John Olver has announced that he won’t seek reelection in 2012 – a decision that saves Democrats from an ugly post-redistricting fight that would eliminate one of their members.

With the state losing one of its 10 seats – all held by Democrats – Olver, whose congressional career spanned more than two decades, faced the prospect of being forced into the same district as his western Massachusetts colleague, Democratic Rep. Richard Neal.

His announcement came just weeks before state lawmakers are expected to release a draft congressional map. With Olver’s retirement, line-drawers will have the easy choice of erasing his seat and creating one western Massachusetts seat.

Olver’s decision will come as a relief to other members as well: Line-drawers also had the option of combining the neighboring districts held by Democratic Reps. Stephen Lynch and Bill Keating, on the eastern side of the state.

In his retirement statement, Olver alluded to his wife’s cancer diagnosis, which was recently made public, as a key factor in his decision to forego another race.

“Last December, I announced that I intended to seek to continue my congressional service beyond 2012. Over the past six months, circumstances within my family have substantially changed, and I now find I must reconsider my earlier decision,” he said. “Therefore, I will retire from the House of Representatives at the conclusion of the current (112th) Congress.”

Democratic officials had been concerned about a potential Olver-Neal clash, which would pit two of the party’s most senior lawmakers against each other. Olver is a longtime member of the House Appropriations Committee; Neal is a senior member on the tax-writing Ways & Means Committee.

Eliminating a seat from the state’s western region was an easy option for state lawmakers because its population has dropped at a faster rate than other parts of the state over the last decade. Olver’s sprawling district is regarded as oversized –a reality he acknowledged to in his statement.

“Since 1991, I have had the privilege and great honor of representing the people of the First District of Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives,” he said. “The district has grown much larger from the district as it was in 1991, and these twenty years have been tumultuous years for America.”

Neal’s path to reelection is not entirely clear. Democrat Andrea Nuciforo, a former state senator, has said he will run for a western Massachusetts-based seat no matter who is on the ballot.


Monday, August 17, 2009

John W Olver speaks out on Luciforo's planned 2012 run for US Congress!



John W. Olver

"Make no assumptions"

U.S. Rep. John W. Olver says that a potential Democratic opponent in 2012 is "making assumptions" when there may be no basis for such assumptions.

Olver didn't say it, but it seems that former state Sen. Andrea Nuciforo, a Pittsfield Democrat, is assuming that Olver will not be running for re-election in 2012. Nuciforo, now a register of deeds in a Berkshire County district, last month said he would be running for Congress in 2012 in the 1st congressional district.

Olver said he will be a candidate for re-election next year, but he said he never comments beyond the immediate next election.

One thing is for sure: Olver and Nuciforo have made no bargains regarding 2012. "There is no deal, none whatsoever," Olver told the editorial board of The Republican.

Olver's sprawling congressional district touches the borders of four other states, including Connecticut, New York, Vermont and New Hampshire. A big advantage for Olver is that the size of the district makes it difficult for a challenger to create a base to run against an entrenched incumbent.

Source: "Talk about twittering!" (Posted by The Republican, Categories: Cries & Whispers, August 17, 2009) -


"Unkind census"
The Berkshire Eagle, Editorials, Monday, August 17, 2009

Barring the discovery of a lost civilization in the hills of Savoy or Sandisfield, Massachusetts is almost assuredly going to lose a seat in the U.S. House after next year's census. Should the state Legislature look west when it comes time to redistrict, as seems probable, that will affect the Berkshires' status and perhaps the identity of its representative.

Massachusetts' population has grown by just 2.3 percent since the last census compared to 8 percent nationally as the country's populace continues its shift to the south and west. Kimball Brace of the political consulting firm Election Data Services told The Boston Globe that Massachusetts lost a congressional seat in all five of the scenarios it did in anticipation of the 2010 census. That would leave Massachusetts, which had 16 seats in the House as of 1930, with nine seats following its first loss of a seat since 1990.

In redistricting in anticipation of the 2012 elections, the eastern-oriented Legislature is sure to look long and hard at the sparsely populated western region of the state. The political pull of the 10 representatives will be a major factor in redistricting, and the state currently has 10 veteran Democrats whose seniority became significantly more important to the state when the Democrats took control of the House in 2006. A newcomer on the national scene could, however, be holding the First District congressional seat after the elections of November 2012.

Representative John Olver of Amherst has served the district since 1991 and has gained influence on issues such as finance and transportation. He is planning on running for re-election in 2010, but told The Eagle last week that he hasn't thought as far ahead as 2012. Mr. Olver said he has struck no deal with former state senator and current Central Berkshire Register of Deeds Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., who plans to run for Congress in 2012, in which he would step aside after one more term. Mr. Olver observed that he has run against primary challengers before, most recently in 2008. Mr. Nuciforo, however, would pose the biggest challenge he has faced from a fellow Democrat, should it come to that. It would serve the interests of the district if Mr. Olver kept the Legislature guessing about his intentions.

The mammoth First District, which currently includes towns in Central Massachusetts along the New Hampshire border as well as South Berkshire towns bordering Connecticut, could be merged with the Second District now served by Springfield's Richard Neal. If that happened, the Berkshires would see precious little of a congressman whose turf would comprise more than half the state.

Secretary of State William Galvin promises to conduct an aggressive census outreach to help the state not only keep its 10 seats but access to its current share of federal funds, which depends to a degree on population. We wish him all the best.

"U.S. Rep. Olver stepping down after this term"
Berkshire Eagle - October 26, 2011

PITTSFIELD -- Congressmen John W. Olver, one of the most liberal members of the U.S. House, announced today he's stepping down at the end of his term.

In a short statement, the 75-year-old Democrat from Amherst said he had reconsidered his decision to seek another term in 2012 because "over the past six months, circumstances within my family have substantially changed."

Olver's 1st Congressional District's viability has also been in doubt under congressional redistricting as Massachusetts goes from 10 to nine House members for the 2012 election. The 1st Congressional District includes mostly rural Western Massachusetts including the Berkshires.

"Since 1991, I have had the privilege and great honor of representing the people of the 1st District of Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives," Olver said in his statement. "The district has grown much larger from the district as it was in 1991, and these 20 years have been tumultuous years for America."


Friday, August 14, 2009

Luciforo plans to run for US Congress in 2012


Losing clout


"Massachusetts likely to lose seat in US House: Population shifting to West, South"
By Alan Wirzbicki, Boston Globe Correspondent, August 14, 2009

WASHINGTON - Massachusetts almost certainly will lose one of its 10 congressional districts after next year’s census, the result of a long-term population shift that is giving Southern and Western states more political power in Washington at the expense of the Northeast, say specialists who have been poring over data in advance of the 2010 count.

Long-term economic and demographic shifts in favor of warmer climates with less expensive housing are to blame for the state’s slower growth, and thus the loss of a congressional district, according to estimates. Massachusetts’ population grew by just 2.3 percent from 2000 to 2008, compared with 8 percent nationally, a disparity that is expected to continue next year and beyond.

“We did five different scenarios projecting the population forward, and in each of those five scenarios, Massachusetts would lose a seat,’’ said Kimball Brace of Election Data Services, a political consulting firm in Washington. Demographic trends are “not a good sign from a Massachusetts standpoint. You’ve got a long way to go to keep the seat.’’

Several other Northeastern and Midwestern states, including New York and New Jersey, are also expected to lose seats, said Brace.

For the Bay State, the expected delegation downsizing would occur at an especially inopportune time, just as the state has reached its highest degree of clout in the US House of Representatives in two decades. The all-Democrat group includes members such as Edward Markey and Barney Frank, who lead powerful committees and are shaping historic legislation, as well as other members who wield extensive influence on powerful budget-setting and taxation committees.

The census changes would require a redistricting before their reelection races in 2012. Several members of the delegation said that they are prepared to deal with a potential cut, but that they do not know which among them would be forced out. Redistricting would be up to the Legislature.

“I haven’t got any control over it, so why worry about it?’’ said Representative Michael E. Capuano, Democrat of Somerville. “I don’t think there’s anyone around who has figured out how to stop the population flow to the Southwest.’’

The last time the state lost a seat, after the 1990 Census, it set off intense infighting among the state’s Democrats, confrontations with then-governor William F. Weld, and even an ultimately futile legal challenge that went all the way to the US Supreme Court.

If anything, the state has more to lose now, because so many of its representatives have risen to senior leadership posts at a time of Democratic dominance in Washington.

“Everybody in the delegation is particularly well positioned with their committee assignments,’’ said Representative Richard E. Neal, Democrat of Springfield, a member and subcommittee chairman on the Ways and Means Committee. “It obviously would present a challenge for the state.’’

Losing a seat would also reduce the state’s votes in the Electoral College from 12 to 11.

In interviews, members of the delegation said the possibility of losing a seat was troubling for the state, but adopted a philosophical stance when asked about the potential impact on their careers.

“I’ve got plenty of other things to worry about right now,’’ said Representative Stephen F. Lynch, Democrat of South Boston.

In the meantime, the state is spending $2 million on census outreach, targeting hard-to-reach immigrant and minority communities where distrust of government has historically been higher. Markey, the senior member of the delegation, said he rejected the idea that the state would inevitably lose a seat.

“I believe that if we count every person in the state that we still have a chance to hold on to the seat,’’ he said.

William F. Galvin, the secretary of state and the lead Massachusetts official on the census, also said predictions of losing a seat were “speculative.’’ He pointed out that similar predictions were made before the 2000 Census, which ultimately maintained the status quo.

Increasing participation in the census is crucial, Galvin said. Not only does it determine representation in Congress, but it is also used to set federal funding for dozens of health care, transportation, and education programs.

“We need to explain to people why it’s important,’’ Galvin said. “We should get our fair share.’’

Paradoxically, the main factors that could play in the state’s favor are the weak national economy and the foreclosure crisis, because they might check the rapid growth in the Sun Belt, he said.

The most likely outcome of redistricting would be to place two incumbents in the same district, forcing them to run against each other. In many states a nonpartisan board handles redistricting, but in Massachusetts the Legislature draws the borders and has a long history of gerrymandering. Massachusetts’ House speaker, Robert A. DeLeo, declined to comment.

Until 1920, most states added representatives every 10 years, until Congress capped its own membership at 435 amid fears that the body was growing so large it would lose its collegiality. Since then, the number of representatives from New England has dwindled from 32 to 22.

James Brett, a former Massachusetts state legislator who chaired the state’s redistricting committee in 1990 and now runs the New England Council, said the six states had to face up to the reality.

“It’s not a good sign when we lose a voice going to Washington,’’ he said. “That’s why it’s important the delegation work as a region - because we tend to be losing these seats every time there’s a decennial.’’

Barney Frank is now 69. (Photo by Patrick Whittemore)

"Some solon in this lifeboat is going to become breakfast"
By Howie Carr

Sunday, August 16, 2009, - Columnists

The good news is, Massachusetts is probably going to lose one of its 10 congressmen in the upcoming national redistricting.

The bad news is, we’re not going to lose two.

The reason for this political RIF is that the Bay State’s population is not growing - what a surprise. I mean, what’s not to like about this wonderful commonwealth, at least if you’re a pinky-ring union thug, a trust-funded moonbat, a hack out on a fake disability pension or a freeloading illegal alien with an anchor baby?

Alas for our solons, almost everyone in Massachusetts not on the dole is fleeing. That’s a problem - for the political class, anyway.

In the past, when we had to lose a congressman to a low-tax Sunbelt state, the one to go was usually the guy who’d been indicted most recently. If you doubt me, look up U.S. Rep. Tom Lane of Lawrence.

The problem with our current crop of limousine liberals is that they’ve pretty much aged themselves out of the active criminal class. The ever-worthless John Olver turns 73 next month, Barney Frank (D-Fannie Mae) is 69. Bill Delahunt (D-Venezuela and Club Hedonism) is 68. Fast Eddie Markey, the “dean” of the delegation, is slowing down at 63, and even Richie Neal has reached 60.

Some people compare the elimination of a congressional district to a political version of musical chairs. Actually, it’s more like the Donner party - only instead of starving pioneers in the snow, it’s hungry hacks, sizing one another up for dinner.

Cannibalism among the congressional comrades. What would their dear leader Fidel Castro say?

Most likely nominee for the stew pot: Olver, from Amherst. He’s the most ancient and the least relevant. The problem is that 1st District of his. The Golden West he represents is so sparsely populated that in the last redistricting, to make the numbers work, the map-drawers had to run him all the way east to the outskirts of Lowell.

Whichever district is eliminated, the remaining nine solons will each have to pick up about 75,000 people. The 1st District is just too far west to allow the inside-128 solons to recruit more voters to replace the ones who are voting with their feet by the thousands.

Most of the eastern districts are already stretched tight, which is a polite way of saying gerrymandered. Steve Lynch has South Boston and a corridor that snakes through JP and Ward 18 to reach the Southie diaspora on the South Shore and in Plymouth County. Barney’s twin pillars are Brookline-Newton and New Bedford. Fall River is split between Barney and Jim McGovern, our man in Havana.

The most logical district to dismember is Fast Eddie’s. Winthrop to Framingham - it makes about as much sense as Markey’s cap-and-trade bill, which is to say, none. He’s hardly ever seen in Malden, where he allegedly lives, and out on Route 9, Fast Eddie is not even a rumor.

Nobody would miss “the Dean,” except the Dean himself.

Mike Capuano seems safe. He has most of Boston and all of Cambridge. The comrades say, “Thanks but no thanks.”

Come 2011, the gerrymandering, er redistricting, will be done by the Legislature. It’s never too early to start bumkissing at the State House. Just ask Fast Eddie. If I were these dolts, I’d forget about calling Hugo Chavez and Hot Bottom for awhile, and concentrate instead on brown-nosing Senate President Terry Murray.

Madame President’s birthday is Oct. 10. Do I have to draw you guys a diagram?


"Student count might tip census in Massachusetts"
By Michael McAuliffe, The (Springfield) Republican (Online), September 26, 2009

There was opportunity for socializing and a good meal, but Secretary of State William F. Galvin planned to conduct some business in Agawam last month at the annual clambake hosted by Hampden County Sheriff Michael J. Ashe Jr.

“Part of my reason for going ... is to do a little missionary work on the census,” Galvin said.

The country’s population count, which takes place every 10 years, is set for March and April. Galvin is intent on ensuring the state gets as accurate a count of its residents as possible. There is much at stake based on population, including Massachusetts’ share of hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds and whether the Bay State loses a seat in the U.S. House.

“This is going to require a grassroots effort,” said Galvin, who spoke to civic officials at the clambake about the census. Galvin, the state’s designated liaison to the U.S. Census Bureau, also recalled the challenge from the 2000 census which resulted in Springfield’s population estimate rising from 149,938 to beyond the threshold 150,000 figure to ensure eligibility for a number of federal programs and grants.

The state, with an estimated population of slightly less than 6.5 million last year, has 10 U.S. representatives, including two in Western Massachusetts: Democrats John W. Olver of Amherst, representing the 1st Congressional District, and Richard E. Neal of Springfield, representing the 2nd Congressional District. Past counts have resulted in Massachusetts losing a House seat, and that may happen again as a result of the 2010 census.

“I have consistently expressed my belief that the people of Western Massachusetts should continue to have two voices representing their interests in the United States House of Representatives,” Neal, in his 11th term, said in an e-mail. “Since the late 1890s ... we have had two members of Congress from the western part of the state.”

“As we debate issues like health care and the economy, it is crucial that Western Massachusetts continues to have two votes to cast in Congress,” Neal added.

Both Neal and Olver are scheduled to attend the Tuesday kick-off event of the Pioneer Valley Region Complete Count Committee, which has been organized by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. Kathleen Ludgate, regional director of the Census Bureau’s office in Boston, is also scheduled to be present.

Molly Jackson-Watts, regional information and policy center manager for the commission, said the Complete Count Committee focuses on Hampden and Hampshire counties and currently has about 40 members. Jackson-Watts also said the committee will assist the Census Bureau as it hires local people and creates centers where residents can get assistance in filling out census forms.

Galvin said college students could prove critical in the state’s count. Massachusetts is known for its many colleges and universities, and out-of-state students can be counted as Bay State residents because they spend most of the year here.

“They should be counted here. They should not be counted in their home state,” Galvin said.

Western New England College spokesman David M. Stawasz said Massachusetts is a “net importer of students” and “an accurate count of all college students would certainly work in the state’s favor when it comes to the census.”

Stawasz also said Western New England and census bureau personnel will meet next month to map out details for the count of the colleges’ students.


U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal addresses a group at the 2010 census meeting sponsored by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission at its new offices at 60 Congress St., Springfield. (Photo by John Suchocki / The Republican)

"U.S. Census bureau to open 2 new offices in Western Mass. to make sure everyone is counted next year"
By Jack Flynn, & By Jim Kinney, - The (Springfield) Republican (Online), September 29, 2009

SPRINGFIELD – Local efforts to get everyone, especially hard-to-count immigrants, transients and young adults, to fill out their U.S. Census forms next year kicked off Tuesday with a meeting at the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission offices here.

“I don’t think it will do any good for a census taker to stand in front of a tenement block and guess the number. And, that will be the temptation,” said U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield.

Neal and U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, attended the event along with 44 other elected officials and community leaders from Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties.

The congressmen are especially interested in the federal census because its results are used to determine how many seats each state gets in the House of Representatives. Massachusetts, a slow-growth state, is likely to lose a seat.

But the U.S. Census also determines how federal dollars are spent. Olver said an 50,000-person under-count in Massachusetts during the last census will likely cost the state $500 million in federal funding over the decade.

Kathleen Ludgate, regional director for the U.S. Census Bureau in Boston, said she hopes to have offices open in Pittsfield and Springfield in the next few weeks. Each one will have an office staff of 35 to 50 and a field staff of temporary workers ranging from 600 to 1,000.

“And we’ll be drawing those workers from the communities that are hard to count,” she said. “So that person who knocks on you door won’t be a stranger.”
NEWS VIDEO: "Lots at stake for 2010 census in Western Massachusetts"

"Math vs. gerrymandering"
The Berkshire Eagle, Editorial, November 24, 2009

The upcoming national census is almost certain to determine that Massachusetts has lost enough population over the last 10 years to cost it a congressional seat, triggering a politically motivated redistricting that will more than likely end up penalizing the Berkshires for its small population. Is it to much to ask in this era in which everything is seen through either red- or blue-colored glasses to set aside politics and let the cold logic of mathematics determine the redistricting?

In a column in Sunday's Boston Globe, writer Joe Keohane uses the presence in Congress of Missouri Representative Todd Akin as an argument for geometry over gerrymandering, the politically calculated designing of districts named after Elbridge Gerry, a Massachusetts governor elected in 1810 who pushed through an unpopular redistricting in 1812 and was tossed out by voters that same year. Mr. Akin was in the news recently when he interrupted his delivery of the Pledge of Allegiance at a teabaggers' rally to note that the phrase "Under God" "drives liberals crazy," and then botched the rest of the pledge. Missouri's Second District is a convoluted contraption designed to link traditionally conservative areas so Mr. Akin and his ilk can be elected forever.

Mr. Keohane argues that districts should by law be as square or rectangular in shape as mathematically possible. The only straight lines in Massachusetts' 10 congressional districts come of necessity when the districts reach obstacles like New York or Vermont. Mr. Keohane asserts that the 2nd District looks like a sea monster, and indeed it is easy to visualize a sea creature swimming from west to east along the state's southern border with its crooked tail sticking up into the 1st District when one looks at a district map. The giant 1st District resembles a mirror image of Montana, and if the state loses a seat, Montana and the sea monster could do battle.

Geometry can be used to assure that districts cannot snake through states collecting either red or blue voters. They can be drawn larger or smaller to balance populations. The Web site explains the math and provides a 10-district map of Massachusetts drawn to the geometric model. As redrawn, the 1st District containing the Berkshires has a razor-straight eastern border, with the Quabbin Reservoir just on the other side. The current district's northern border extends well along New Hampshire, enabling this unlikely configuration to include both Fitchburg and Mount Washington.

Should Massachusetts have to redistrict, use of this formula would assure fairness, eliminate nonsensical configurations, and spare politicians the fate of former House Speaker Thomas Finneran, whose role in a state redistricting designed to isolate minorities cost him his political career. As the state that invented gerrymandering, Massachusetts should for penance lead the way in reforming the redistricting process.

Nat Karns, executive director of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, is part of a committee that meets monthly to discuss local census issues. (Ben Garver / Berkshire Eagle Staff)

"Figuring it all out: Census prep ongoing; $400 billion at stake"
By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff, December 16, 2009

PITTSFIELD -- They meet once a month behind closed doors.

They talk about ways to find you -- and the repercussions if they don't.

They talk about the millions of dollars that hinge on Berkshire County's population, about the representation that could be lost.

They talk about just how badly Uncle Sam wants you.

They aren't a secret society, but rather members of social service organizations, the federal government and the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission who gather at the BRPC's second-floor conference room on Fenn Street.

Their mission: To discuss ways of locating Berkshire County residents in preparation for the 2010 U.S. Census, the constitutionally mandated head count of all U.S. residents that takes place every 10 years.

Forms containing 10 questions will be mailed to county residents in March, and the forms don't have to be completed until April. All U.S. residents -- citizens and non-citizens -- are required to be counted, and officials want to make sure that as many Berkshire residents as possible are tallied.

The state's annual share of $400 billion in federal funding is at stake over the next decade. Less participation means a lower head count, which means less federal funding for Berkshire County transportation projects such as the straightening of Pittsfield's Park Square rotary, or less money for education programs that provide federal funding to local school districts.

The size of each state's federal Congressional delegation also is determined by population statistics gleaned from the census.

"There are certain parts of the population that are traditionally harder to get to respond to the census," said Nathaniel W. Karns, executive director of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, which is working with U.S. Census Bureau officials to help local municipalities prepare for the count.

This group, the Berkshire Complete Count Committee, meets monthly at the BRPC. The U.S. Department of Commerce, which conducts the federal census, has established a local census office on West Housatonic Street in Pittsfield.

"The upper-middle-class family living in a suburban house probably responds to [the census form]," Karns said. "But the immigrant family or a collection of individuals living in an apartment probably will not."

Karns said that in the Berkshires, municipal government involvement in preparing for the 2010 census is "fairly limited." However, he said, several local municipalities did participate in an "address check program" the past two years. In that program, existing addresses were compared to a master list for accuracy.

"In Pittsfield, I heard that they discovered a portion of the homes on Dalton Division Road were not on the address list," Karns said. "That's 50 houses that might not have been counted in 2000. That could be 130 people that should have been counted. Start to multiply that by how many other streets."

In Adams, Town Manager Jonathan Butler said he met with Census Bureau officials for the first time on Dec. 3. The town intends to spread the word about census participation through civic organizations such as the Elks' Club and the American Legion.

"A lot of jobs have been lost in North Berkshire," Butler said. "We don't want to get any smaller."

Berkshire County's response rate in the 2000 census was about 78 percent, according to census officials. That was higher than the national rate of 67 percent and the state rate of 69.

The county's population in the 2000 census was 134,953.

Karns said every person turned up in the Berkshires by the census equals $2,000 per person in federal aid for this area each year.

"Our main focus is getting an accurate count, especially in places that are hard to count," said Susan B. Hagen, a Census Bureau official based in Pittsfield.

In order to plan for the 2010 census, the bureau compiled a tract-level database of social and economic factors from the 2000 census that have been linked to low participation.

Based on those numbers, Hagen said there are 35 hard-to-count tracts in Western Massachusetts, including some areas of Pittsfield and North Adams. Those areas are mainly occupied by either low-income households, university students, immigrants or the elderly.

Mark Maloy, a Geographic Information Systems coordinator for the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, said the BRPC has been working with the Berkshire Immigrant Center in Pittsfield, along with the Manos Unidas multicultural organization in South County, to get information about the census to the county's immigrant community.

Maloy said fear of the government is not unusual among immigrants, especially for those who are in the United States illegally. He said the top priority is overcoming that fear, and letting immigrants know they won't be deported if they participate in the census.

Under federal law, census information is protected for 72 years.

To reach people in hard-to-count tracts, Hagen said the U.S. Census Bureau has distributed materials in schools, and plans to reach out to the elderly through contacts in senior centers or through caregivers who supply them with services.

The bureau also is reaching out to institutions of higher learning to get college students to participate. The students, not the schools, will need to fill out the census questionnaires, Maloy said.

Brad Spear, manager of Pittsfield's census office, said that with the exception of Boston, Western Massachusetts has the highest concentration of colleges and universities in New England and in New York state (minus New York City).

Berkshire County municipal officials said they don't expect drastic cuts in federal funding to come from the census, but some say they would be hurt by any funding reductions.

Also, with Congressional representation based on population, there has been talk that Massachusetts may lose one of its seats in the House of Representatives after the 2010 Census.

State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, acknowledges that as a possibility.

"I don't think we know yet if it's more than a 50 percent chance, but if the projections hold true from the last census, we definitely could go from 10 seats to nine," Downing said.
To reach Tony Dobrowolski: (413) 496-6224.

December 16, 2009

Re: Political hacks run the Berkshire County 2010 U.S. Census

I hope that Congressman John W. Olver trounces "Luciforo" for in the 2012 election!

Nat Karns is a phony hack for "Luciforo", Ruberto, et al. I heard that when people apply for local public sector jobs, Karns invites Ruberto, "Luciforo", et al, to filter through the resumes. I trust Nat Karns as much as a thief in the night!

When I took out nomination papers to run for Berkshire State Senator against "Luciforo" in 2004, I heard Nat Karns said that if I was elected, he would retire from the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission so he would not have to work with me. Nat Karns was, is and always will be a political hack. When my Dad was a Berkshire County Commissioner in 1997, "Luciforo" submitted a plan to abolish the county government and form a volutary "Council of Governments" (CoG). In the Summer of 1997, the State House blocked "Luciforo's" state Senate plan. The next year in the Summer of 1998, "Luciforo" & state Rep. Dan Bosley abolished Berkshire County government effective July 1, 2000, but without "Luciforo's" plan to form a "CoG". In 1999, Nat Karns and his Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC) formed a task force to study the idea of forming a new entity to replace county government in the Berkshires. They spent tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayers' money to formulate the plan. There plan was an exact copy of "Luciforo's" plan from 1997, which I kept a copy of and distributed to the cities and towns during the Fall of 1999, along with other writings I collected on the issue. The result of my actions was that the cities and towns voted down Nat Karns and the BRPC's plan to form a "CoG". I wanted to speak at their public meeting after handing out my literature to the cities and towns, but Nat Karns did not allow me to speak. At that moment, I realized that Nat Karns is nothing more than a political hack who is willing to waste taxpayer dollars as a false pretense to push through political agendas! I don't trust Nat Karns as far as I can throw him! He will use the 2010 U.S. Census data gathering for political ends, not accurate head counts of local residents!

- Jonathan Melle


"2010 Massachusetts Democratic State Convention"
By Citizens for Nuciforo - 12/14/2009

Andrea will be attending:

2010 Massachusetts Democratic State Convention

Friday June 4th and Saturday June 5th

DCU Center Worcester


"Massachusetts Democratic Campaign Institute"
By Citizens for Nuciforo - 12/14/2009

Andrea will be attending:

Massachusetts Democratic Campaign Institute

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Location TBD (Worcester). For more info contact Brian Muldoon at


"Anxious Mass. pushes census participation: Funds, House seats at stake"
By Maria Sacchetti, Boston Globe Staff, January 4, 2010

Worried government officials and nonprofits are launching widespread campaigns urging every Massachusetts household to participate in the 2010 Census in the coming months, focusing on burgeoning immigrant communities that are fueling the state’s population growth but are historically hard to count.

Officials and nonprofit organizations are promoting the census on Brazilian talk radio shows in Boston, in a Cambodian neighborhood in Lowell, and at African churches in Worcester, among other places - rushing to get the word out before the forms are mailed to every residence in March.

Officials say more than $13 billion in federal funding and a congressional seat depend on an accurate tally. Census figures are used to determine where to allocate federal dollars - about $2,000 a person - for hospitals, senior centers, bridges and tunnels, job training, and emergency services nationwide, as well as to determine a state’s representation in Washington. The more people respond, officials say, the more Massachusetts benefits.

Secretary of State William F. Galvin, the state’s liaison to the federal census, said the rapidly changing population is forcing officials and nonprofits to broaden their outreach to new immigrant groups. They traditionally reach out to groups from Latin America and China, but they are also attempting to inform newer groups, such as Burmese in Lowell and Ugandans in Waltham.

“We’re trying desperately to alert people and make them aware of it,’’ said Galvin, who plans to issue up to $300,000 in grants in coming weeks to local groups for census outreach. “We have an extraordinarily diverse place here, and to count it is going to be challenging.’’

A group of private foundations is so concerned about the census that it created the Massachusetts Census Equity Fund late last year to increase the response rate by 5 percent over the last census, in 2000. Last month the group gave out $350,000 to nonprofits to publicize the census across the state.

“In an economy like this, we can’t pass up funds to our communities,’’ said Kelly Bates, executive director of Access Strategies Fund, a nonprofit that is coordinating the effort. “This is a serious, serious effort.’’

Immigrants, now 14 percent of the state, are among the hardest-to-count groups for a number of reasons. Some are unfamiliar with the census, others are from countries with repressive regimes that left them reluctant to divulge personal information to the government, and a minority are here illegally and fear deportation.

Complicating matters, a small group is boycotting the census until illegal immigrants can apply for legal residency. Most of the state’s proimmigrant groups oppose a boycott as counterproductive.

The US Census is a head count of every resident in the United States, and it is required by the Constitution every 10 years. The government counts citizens, noncitizens, and illegal immigrants, stressing that the information is confidential. Census employees take an oath and face a $250,000 fine and five years in jail if they reveal any personal information on the forms.

In March, census forms will be mailed to every household asking 10 questions, including the name, date of birth, and race of the person filling out the form, and how many people live in the home.

Residents are required to fill out the form and return it in a postage-paid envelope, though the $100 fine for failing to respond is rarely imposed.

Census takers will visit the homes of people who do not respond by April 1, but they prefer to receive the form by mail to get a more accurate count.

In 2000, only 69 percent of Massachusetts households returned the form by mail, close to the national average, and it was lower in many cities where a high proportion of residents are immigrants or poor.

Bates said she hopes early outreach will improve the response. The Massachusetts Census Equity Fund awarded a grant to One Lowell, a nonprofit that will work in a sprawling low-income neighborhood to notify residents about the census. Chelsea Collaborative will knock on doors in a city where only 55 percent mailed in the census form in 2000, the lowest in the state.

The fund is also targeting Boston, where Mayor Thomas M. Menino has complained that census estimates are too low in a city with large numbers of immigrants, but also with many college students, who are notorious for failing to return the forms. In 2000 only 57 percent of Bostonians mailed in the census forms.

In Fitchburg, an industrial city in central Massachusetts, community activist Adrian L. Ford said he is promoting the census on his radio show, fearing that immigrants - and other minority groups - have been undercounted for years. By the official census, the city of 41,000 residents posted a small increase in immigrants, from 8 percent in 1990 to 10 percent in 2008, below the state average.

Ford, the chief administrator of Three Pyramids, a nonprofit and the oldest minority-led community development organization in the city, said the percentage of immigrants is probably higher. “When you’re out on the streets you see a whole different view of what we are really about,’’ he said.

On Mechanic Street, Uruguayan and American flags fly above Nona Mia’s, a new pizzeria owned by some of the estimated 5,000 immigrants who have flocked to Fitchburg from the small South American nation. A new mosque recently opened downtown, and in schools, the percentage of students who speak another language at home soared to 29 percent last year, from 17 percent in 1991.

One recent day, Laotian refugees flowed into Wat Lao Dhammaram, a bright yellow Buddhist temple erected on the edge of the city in 1996. A bumper sticker on the side door says “Proud to be an American,’’ and the founder, Khamphouy Sommala, sported a prounion sweatshirt.

Asked about the census, he shook his head.

“I’m not sure I understand,’’ said Sommala, who arrived 28 years ago from Laos.

Tony Adams, 49, a US-born factory supervisor whose wife, Amy, attends the temple, said even some native-born Americans are unfamiliar with the census, because it rarely comes up.

“You’d be surprised how many people don’t pay attention to that,’’ he said, adding that he plans to fill it out this year.

Lisa Wong, the daughter of Chinese immigrants and Fitchburg’s first minority person to become mayor, said she is working daily to increase civic engagement and hopes that the census will be one area in which it pays off. She is launching a “mayor of your street’’ program to increase community involvement with the city by recruiting neighborhood leaders. She is also considering allowing residents, such as Hmong refugees, who have farming roots, to plant crops on vacant land.

“The census is really a huge opportunity for us,’’ Wong said.

Ford said he is hopeful this year’s count will increase. Despite the differences, all groups want the same things: good schools, a living wage, good medical care, and paved roads. The census can help them pay for it.

“This is about dollars,’’ he said. “This is serious stuff.’’

"Massachusetts could lose congressman in population count"
By Dan Ring, The (Springfield) Republican, January 5, 2010

BOSTON – Massachusetts is expected to surrender a congressional seat in this year’s federal census, but recent population estimates give the state an outside chance of keeping all its 10 members in the U.S. House of Representatives.

If the state does relinquish a position, Western Massachusetts could lose one of its two seats, based on a 4 percent loss of population in Berkshire County since 2000.

The U.S. Census Bureau last month released new state-by-state population estimates for this decade through July 1 of last year.

Based on that information, two Washington-based consultants – Election Data Services and Polidata – released projections that show Massachusetts needs to count an extra 70,000 to 90,000 people more than the July 1 estimate to keep its 10 U.S. House seats.

Secretary of State William F. Galvin said he is encouraged, but there is a lot of work ahead to assure everyone is counted.

“We’re in the hunt,” Galvin said in a brief interview.

Galvin said it won’t be easy to count all immigrants.

The state would lose political clout in Washington if a U.S. House seat is taken away, said Rep. Daniel E. Bosley, D-North Adams. The state’s political influence in Washington was hurt when U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., died of brain cancer in August after 47 years as a senator.

The state Legislature and the governor would be in charge of approving election districts for the U.S. House of Representatives and the state House and Senate by accounting for population shifts.

Legislators would need to draw nine congressional districts equal in population if Massachusetts loses a seat.

The clerk of the U.S. House in Washington would analyze census numbers from April of this year and notify each state by Jan. 1, 2011 of its share of 435 seats.

Bosley said he would emphasize that the two Western Massachusetts congressmen – Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, and John W. Olver, D-Amherst, – have too much seniority and clout to eliminate either of their seats.

Neal, elected in 1988, is the sixth-ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee and is chairman of the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures.

Olver, elected in 1991, is a member of the Appropriations Committee and chairman of the subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

Olver, 73, is running for re-election this year, but has declined comment if he will run in 2012, saying he never comments beyond the immediate next election.

If Olver does decide against re-election in 2012, it would make easier for legislators to eliminate his seat since there would be no incumbent seeking another term.

Otherwise, legislators could also seek to abolish the seat of U.S. Rep. Nicola S. Tsongas, D-Lowell, who has the least seniority in the 10-member state delegation.

According to Election Data Services, the annual population growth rate for Massachusetts has increased each of the past three years, but is still lagging the growth rate for the nation as a whole.

The U.S. Census Bureau released estimates last month showing the population of Massachusetts was 6,593,587 as of July 1, up almost 4 percent from 2000.

Kimball W. Brace, president of Election Data Services, said for Massachusetts to keep its 10 seats in the U.S. House the state needs to count 70,609 people more than the July 1 estimate, assuming that populations of certain other states remain the same.

Massachusetts must compete with other states that are close to keeping their current number of seats or adding seats.

According to the analysis by Election Data Services, five other states – Oregon, Ohio, Louisiana, New Jersey and Arizona – are closer than Massachusetts to retaining or adding seats.

“Massachusetts needs to do well enough in the census count to both make up those 70,609 people and exceed any extra people those other five states find,” said Douglas M. Johnson, a fellow at the Rose Institute of State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California.


Richard E. Neal

"Political observers say surprise election of Scott Brown to Ted Kennedy's former Senate seat serves as a wake-up call"
By George Graham, The (Springfield) Republican, January 20, 2010

SPRINGFIELD – U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, said Republican Scott P. Brown’s stunning victory Tuesday serves as a wake-up call.

“I think if there is a silver lining in this, it’s a good wake-up call for everybody,” Neal said Wednesday morning.

Might Brown’s out-of-the-blue win bring dramatic changes to Western Massachusetts political landscape?

Former Republican governor W. Mitt Romney said as much for the nation when he joined Brown at the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston Tuesday night to celebrate.

“This changes everything, do you know that?” said Romney, no stranger to bringing a generous splash of red to what many consider to be the bluest of blue states.

If a state senator from Wrentham can win over an uneasy electorate to take the seat that the late Edward M. Kennedy held for nearly 50 years, what other surprises might lie ahead?

Could a former Easthampton selectmen, running as an independent, take Rep. John W. Olver’s seat?

How about a lawyer from Northampton or an unknown from Hopedale? Could Republican candidates such as these pose a serious challenge to Neal who has held the seat for 11 terms.

Neal said he was not surprised by Brown’s win. As to how it might impact his political fortunes, Neal said it’s important to listen to voters.

“You have to pay attention,” he said.

Thomas A. Wesley, who is seeking Neal’s seat in November, said state Attorney General Martha M. Coakley’s defeat confirms what he has been hearing out on the campaign trail for months.

“People are looking for change,” Wesley said. “They are tired of the imperial style of leadership that is coming out of Washington.”

Southampton resident Michael Engel, a former Easthampton selectmen who will run in 2010 as an independent candidate for the seat currently held by Olver, said the election’s stunning outcome bodes well for independents.

“This might be the year for independents because people are really turned off by the two-party system,” said, a professor emeritus of political science at Westfield State College.

Olver, who told The Republican in August that he will be running for re-election, could not be reached for comment Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

Engel said he voted for Coakley “reluctantly.” He was quick to add, however, that Brown’s win confirmed the way that he is approaching his campaign.

“Change comes from the bottom, not from the top,” Engel said. “I can’t change things as single congressman but I want to help the groups that are working for change,” Engel said.

Neal has held the 2nd Congressional District seat since 1988 and has been unopposed for re-election since 1996.

Wesley, who lives in Hopedale, said he was heartened by the Brown’s strong support throughout vast swathes of the district.

“This seat has been taken for granted to too long,” Wesley said.

Coakley did well in such strongholds as Springfield, Northampton and Hadley.

Dr. Jay Fleitman of Northampton has also said he is running as a GOP candidate against Neal.

Neal said that Coakley erred in not talking about such key issues as Social Security and deficit reduction.

The former Springfield mayor said that as he moves forward he will make the case for a “slimmed down” version of health care reform.

“Incremental change, that is where you want to be,” Neal said.

Former state Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo, a Pittsfield Democrat, announced in July that he, too, will be seeking Olver’s 1st Congressional District seat.

Nuciforo, now a register of deeds in Berkshire County, could not be reached for comment.

Olver has held federal office since June 4, 1991, when he narrowly defeated Republican Steven Pierce of Westfield in a special election called after former U.S. Rep. Silvio O. Conte, R-Pittsfield, died.

In 2008, Olver cruised to victory over Republican and first-time challenger Nathan A. Bech.


"Mail in and be counted"
The Berkshire Eagle, Editorial, March 12, 2010

U.S. census forms will begin arriving in the mailboxes of more than 120 million households next week and we strongly urge Berkshire residents to do their civic duty and return their completed forms. Federal aid is at stake, as is the fate of the congressional district the Berkshires are currently a portion of.

The federal census takes place once every 10 years and will affect the state's share of federal funding for the next decade. Pittsfield receives $1.5 million annually in federal block grant money determined through census data, says Mayor James Ruberto, and with each Berkshire resident included in the census representing $2,000 in federal aid, according to Nathaniel Karns, executive director of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, the importance of filling out and returning census forms can be easily defined by what it means in hard cash to communities.

The form contains only 10 questions and is far simpler to fill out than past forms. While big government paranoiacs have challenged its legitimacy, the census has passed constitutional muster in the courts many times over the decades. The census has been with us since the nation began, and its purpose was and is to assure that its citizens are treated fairly by the federal government. Our founding fathers employed it to determine the number of representatives from each state, and it is possible that this census will cost Massachusetts a seat because of declining population and reshape the First Congressional District. All the more reason to fill out the forms and be counted.

Failure to fill out the form triggers a visit from a census taker, at a cost of about $75 to taxpayers. Let's save that cost and improve on the Berkshires' admirable return rate of 78 percent in 2000. When it comes to the census, everybody counts.

"Neal should pursue top post, but not by charging for access"
June 9, 2010

IF REPRESENTATIVE Richard Neal succeeds in his ambition to be the next chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, it would be a boon to Massachusetts and a testament to Neal’s behind-the-scenes diligence. But in seeking to become one of Washington’s top dealmakers, Neal shouldn’t also accede to the capital’s money culture. He shouldn’t sell access to himself. The trading of influence for campaign contributions rightly outrages the public; and while no congressman can operate in a vacuum, Neal must avoid the fund-raising excesses that are open to top D.C. powerbrokers.

His $5,000-a-head “summer weekend on Cape Cod’’ with representatives of special interests at the Chatham Bars Inn was one such excess. It’s one thing to accept contributions from those hoping for favors; it’s another to hunker down with them for a weekend, with a fat entry fee.

Neal is hardly alone in this type of fund-raising. Building a campaign war chest and then doling out contributions to fellow members helps grease the path to plum chairmanships. But there are plenty of ways for Neal to raise funds without explicitly offering closed-door access to himself, and the fact that other members use similar methods doesn’t make it right.

Neal has a good case to make for himself. He was orphaned as a child, and raised in part on Social Security survivor benefits. His personal story helped make him one of the most effective advocates against former President George W. Bush’s attempt to privatize portions of Social Security. Neal argued that the Social Security trust fund should be kept by the government, as a last resort for people without other means. His common touch and sensitivity are assets. So is his on-the-ground experience as mayor of Springfield.

In addition, Neal’s hard work in positioning himself for leadership on the Ways and Means Committee is a service in itself to his constituents. The Ways and Means Committee, which oversees taxes and spending, is a prime perch for delivering federal aid to struggling communities like his own. Massachusetts has always benefited from savvy congressmen in top positions, from the late Speaker Tip O’Neill to the late Rules Committee chairman Joe Moakley, who always delivered aid to Boston.

But Neal must be mindful of the range of scandals that brought down past Ways and Means chairmen, from Wilbur Mills to Dan Rostenkowski to Charles Rangel this year. The chairmanship is one of Washington’s great temptations. Neal should by all means pursue it — but not in a way that compromises his integrity.

"U.S. House redistricting likely for Valley"
By RICHIE DAVIS, Gazette Contributing Writer, November 9, 2010

Eastward, ho?

That's likely to be the battle cry for the next election cycle, since census figures due to be released early next year are expected to show a decline in Berkshire County's population and slow growth in Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties compared to our neighbors east, especially Worcester, Suffolk and Plymouth counties.

And since parts of the country are also growing more quickly than the Bay State, it's also generally assumed that 10 Massachusetts Congressional Districts will be a thing of the past as well. So like a game of musical chairs, it's likely that the seats won Tuesday by incumbent U.S. Reps. John W. Olver and Richard Neal won't exist the next time voters head to the polls.

According to Census estimates for 2000 to 2009, even though Massachusetts grew in population by nearly 4 percent, the nation as a whole increased by about 9 percent, with Georgia growing by more than 20 percent and Arizona booming by nearly 28.5 percent.

Secretary of State William F. Galvin called predictions of losing a seat "speculative," pointing to similar predictions that proved unfounded a decade ago.

But state Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, the chairman of the redistricting committee that will be formed early next year to begin figuring the new jigsaw puzzle of House, Senate, Congressional and Governor's Council districts according to the realities of population, said, "We're expecting to lose a seat, so that means there will be pressure all over the commonwealth from different perspectives."

Think of it as a tug-of-war, or multiple tugs-of-war, played out according to places where population is shown to be growing and shrinking. Census estimates show that Berkshire County lost more than 4 percent of its population from 2000 to 2009, while Franklin County's population grew by about 0.4 percent, Hampshire's population was up by about 2.5 percent and Hampden County increased by an estimated 3.2 percent.

Meanwhile, Worcester County grew by about 7 percent, Suffolk County (Boston) grew an estimated 9 percent, and Plymouth County increased nearly 5.5 percent.

Rosenberg said, unlike the 2000 redistricting effort, "This is not going to be an easy or fun redistricting. This time, we're losing a seat. This time, it's more than a threat. It's almost a certainty, if not a certainty. It will be quite a show this year," said Rosenberg.

There will be some who push for a north-south demarcation between the newly configured First and Second Congressional districts. The mammoth First District - framed by Connecticut, New York and Vermont and constitutes nearly 40 percent of the state geographically, from Mount Washington to Pepperell - includes all of the Pioneer Valley together with Berkshire County.

The Second District runs eastward from Northampton all the way east to Bellingham, nearly to where the state extends southward toward Providence.

Olver, who has represented the district since 1991, said in a 2008 interview there's a logic to it sitting on the four western counties, instead of having Amherst split from Northampton and Springfield split from West Springfield.

On the other hand, that would create a huge power shift in the district, dominated by Springfield and threatening to marginalize the three more rural counties.


"No place for politics"
The Berkshire Eagle, Editorial, December 4, 2010

It's always election season in Massachusetts, and the 2012 campaign is now under way with the announcement by Representative John Olver that he will seek to retain his seat in the 1st Congressional District. This sets up a potential primary battle with fellow Democrat Andrea Nuciforo Jr., with the wild card the congressional redistricting to begin when the final 2010 census figures are released.

Mr. Nuciforo of Pittsfield, a former state senator and current Middle Berkshire Register of Deeds, could pose a threat to Mr. Olver, who has had few from inside or outside his party. Massachusetts, however, is likely to lose a congressional seat because of population losses over the past 10 years, and the sprawling 1st Congressional District could have a considerably different look after redistricting. It's possible, although unlikely, that Pittsfield and Amherst, the home town of Mr. Olver, could be in different districts, ending the Olver-Nuciforo battle before it even begins.

Redistricting should not be a political process but it is, certainly in Massachusetts, which more than two centuries ago invented gerrymandering -- the drawing up of election districts to give one group, candidate or political party an advantage. The state's current districts are drawn in part to keep populations roughly equal, which is one reason why the huge, contorted 1st Congressional District includes both Mount Washington and Fitchburg.

The borders of districts led by long-term incumbents are less likely to be tampered with, which may be why the veteran Mr. Olver made such an uncommonly early announcement of his intentions for 2012. Ideally, however, politics would be removed from the equation by the creation of an independent board to determine redistricting. Many states have done this, with the goal of creating districts that are compact and reasonably shaped and are not designed to protect or exclude anyone on the basis of race or political party.

We urge Massachusetts to do the same. It is obvious that the Legislature cannot keep politics out of any equation, and redistricting is wide open to political maneuvering. Neutrality is necessary, and should be mandated in time for 2012.

"State loses clout in D.C."
By Trevor Jones, Berkshire Eagle Staff, December 22, 2010

PITTSFIELD -- Massachusetts will lose one of its 10 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 because its population is falling behind other parts of the nation.

The latest population drop paves the way for a redistricting fight on Beacon Hill that could impact the representation of Berkshire County.

And though local figures have not been released yet, area legislators also say it's possible Berkshire County will lose one of its four seats in the state House of Representatives.

The U.S. Census Bureau released its 2010 state and federal population data on Tuesday. The state's population rose by 3.1 percent over the past decade to 6,547,629, but fell short of growth in other parts of the nation, particularly in the South and West. The Census figures determine the configuration of the 435 House districts, and the Massachusetts Legislature will have to reconfigure the nine districts in advance of the 2012 election.

None of the state's 10 House members have indicated their upcoming term would be their last, although two -- Michael Capuano and Stephen Lynch -- have been mentioned as possible candidates against Republican Sen. Scott Brown in 2012.

It's likely the 1st Congressional District, currently represented by John W. Olver, D-Amherst, will either expand in 2013 or be combined with the 2nd Congressional District, currently represented by Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield.

Olver, in a prepared statement, said the announcement was expected and it's up to the state Legislature to determine the new parameters of the districts. He also reiterated his plans to run in 2012.

"This long-anticipated announcement does not change my plans for 2012," said Olver.

William Tranghese, a spokesman for Neal, said the Congressman supports keeping both seats.

"From a historical perspective, the region has been represented effectively by two members of Congress for years," said Tranghese. "As the redistricting process moves forward, preserving and protecting those two seats west of Worcester will be his preference."

State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, said it would be "unacceptable" to lose Olver or Neal's seats.

"It's disappointing news," said Downing. "It's incumbent on those of us who represent Western Massachusetts to stand united for two seats west of Worcester."

State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, said Olver's decision to run for re-election in 2012 could lead to the seat being maintained. Pignatelli said Olver and Neal are both influential figures in Washington, and losing one of those two seats would be a mistake.

"I don't think it makes good sense politically to have those two guys running against each other," said Pignatelli.

Olver is already facing a potential primary opponent in 2012, as Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., the Middle Berkshire register of deeds, has announced his intention to run for the seat. Nuciforo, of Pittsfield, this week called for public hearings on redistricting ahead of the Legislature's decision.

The Census data will also affect federal funding for Massachusetts, as some programs -- including education, highway, and transit -- are based in part on population figures, while one less voice in the House could impact the delegation's political clout.

Meanwhile, Pignatelli believes the redistricting fight could also impact Berkshire County's representation on Beacon Hill. The state Legislature also will be redistricted in advance of the 2012 election based on Census data expected to be released in the coming weeks.

"It's going to be a challenge to maintain four state representatives for the Berkshires," said Pignatelli. "Our numbers are reflective of three state representatives and it's going to be hard to redraw these lines."

Downing said he will fight to maintain four state representative seats in Berkshire County, but acknowledged his Senate district, currently consisting of 48 towns, will likely expand in 2013.

Materials from The Associated Press were used in this article.
To reach Trevor Jones:, or (413) 528-3660.


"Luciforo" will LOSE to Congressman John W. Olver in 2012. Nuciforo has a terrible track record as a Berkshire State Senator & Registrar of Deeds. It is all on my "Luciforo" Blog:
. "Luciforo" raised big $'s from Boston area big banks & insurance companies serving as both a corporate Attorney for a private Boston law firm and a State Senator chairing the financial committee overseeing these financial institutions
. "Luciforo" strong-armed 2 women candidates - Sharon Henault & Sarah Hathaway - out of the 2006 state government election for Berkshire Registrar of Deeds he anointed himself to as a political sinecure
. "Luciforo" voted against the all-felon Massachusetts DNA database in 2003. "Luciforo's" vote was against the DNA database covering such serious crimes as drugging with the intent to rape, assault and battery on a child, and all gun and drug felonies
. "Luciforo" persecuted me and other members of my family since the Spring of 1996. Nuciforo tried to get my Dad fired from his courthouse job by filing "ethics" complaints against my Dad and then tried to have me arrested by the Pittsfield Police Department and jailed. Nuciforo's network conspiratorially manipulated people and events to harass and threaten me since I was 20 years old (I'm now 35)
. "Luciforo" failed on economic development for Berkshire County, which is known as the #1 place in Massachusetts for job loss with high rates of unemployment and population attrition
. "Luciforo" is the son of a former State Senator and Judge. Nuciforo is the nephew of a former Pittsfield State Senator and his Aunt is a former Pittsfield Mayor. Nuciforo is a political brat who is using Pittsfield as a launching pad for U.S. Congress
In conclusion, Andrea Nuciforo II is a corrupt politician who is vying for a seat in U.S. Congress in order to represent Boston area big banks and insurance companies on Capitol Hill. "Luciforo" plans on collecting large amounts of special interest campaign dollars from wealthy corporate financial institutions. Nuciforo's priorities have absolutely nothing to do with Pittsfield, Berkshire County, Western Massachusetts, and other area's of the sprawling 1st Congressional District. Nuciforo is challenging Representative John W. Olver for his own political and financial interests. Moreover, Nuciforo has shown himself to be a top-down and sexist politician by forcing 2 women out of the election for his post as Registrar of Deeds. Nuciforo took a political sinecure to transition himself from a corrupt State Senator to a would-be Congressman. That is politics at its worst. Nuciforo's vote against the all-felon DNA database showed his lack of compassion for victims of serious crimes. For speaking our consciences, Nuciforo persecuted me and other members of my family for dissenting against and criticizing his poor leadership in state and local governments. Nuciforo's network manipulated people by using conspiratorial situations and events to harass and threaten me since the Spring of 1996. "Luciforo's" record on economic development produced job loss, unemployment and population loss for his legislative district: Berkshire County. Nuciforo is using his family's careers in state and local politics in Pittsfield to run for U.S. Congress. "Luciforo" is nothing more than a political brat who wants political power for all the wrong reasons.
I hope you will join me in supporting U.S. Representative John W. Olver for re-election to U.S. Congress in 2012. Mr. Olver has a good public record of supporting progressive causes on Capitol Hill and valuable programs for his constituency and legislative districts. Mr. Olver is a proven leader.

- Jonathan A. Melle


* Rep. John Olver - Olver has insisted that he is running for reelection, but he's 74 years old and he's already got a primary challenger, in former state Sen. Andrea Nuciforo. If Nuciforo can run a viable campaign, that's an incentive for Olver to step aside. (Insider tip: state Sen. Stanley Rosenberg (D), who is often thought of as a potential Olver successor, will play a major role in drawing the map, so don't expect him to do Nuciforo any favors.)

Source: The Washington Post: The Fix - Political News & Analysis by Chris Cillizza, "Which Massachusetts Democrat will leave the House?" By Aaron Blake, 12/30/2010. Link:

Related: "Neal and Olver will seek re-election to Congress in 2012" By John Appleton, The (Springfield) Republican, December 01, 2010. Link:


"Nuciforo's campaign heats up"
By Clarence Fanto, Berkshire Eagle Staff, January 6, 2011

PITTSFIELD -- A political donnybrook continues to engulf county Democrats as Berkshire Middle Register of Deeds Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., revs up his campaign to oust veteran U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, by running against him in a primary next year.

Tensions between prominent Olver supporters and Nuciforo first bubbled to the surface in November, when a group of 23 billing itself as Concerned Democrats of Berkshire County sent Nuciforo a strongly worded letter touting Olver's power, influence and 20-year record in Washington. The group acknowledged Nuciforo's right to run but urged him to "announce you'll run only if Congressman Olver does not run."

"On behalf of many concerned Democrats," the letter continued, "we sincerely appreciate your serious consideration and would appreciate your response within the next few days."

The letter, dated Nov. 19, was kept under wraps until it appeared on Dan Valenti's blog. Meanwhile, Olver announced his bid for re-election and indicated he was miffed by Nuciforo's effort to push him aside.

Undeterred, Nuciforo wrote to the 23 letter-signers, led by Pittsfield attorney and former politician Sherwood Guernsey II, reasserting his candidacy and arguing that "Democratic primary voters deserve to choose their nominees. Democrats throughout western Massachusetts will be stronger for it."

Nuciforo also emphasized a more urgent issue -- the questionable survival of the sprawling 1st Congressional District, which includes 107 cities and towns from Berkshire County east toward Fitchburg.

Because of population growth lagging behind most other states, Massachusetts will lose one of its 10 districts and there have been forecasts that the 1st and 2nd Districts would be combined. The 2nd District, centered in Springfield, is represented by U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, who wields clout in Washington similar to Olver's.

Interviewed on Wednesday, Nuciforo repeated his position that Democratic voters deserve a choice, and expressed hope that the existing district, which represents 645,000 people, will remain intact. The lengthy, cumbersome redistricting process could include an independent commission, possible public hearings and wheeling-and-dealing leading to a decision by state lawmakers in Boston.

"We're building an organization, raising money, going out into the community to talk to voters and preparing for 2012, hoping for a favorable answer," said Nuciforo.

Potential scenarios include a merger of two districts in eastern Massachusetts if one of the incumbent Democratic Congressmen there decides to run against Republican Sen. Scott Brown in the 2012 election.

Nuciforo pointed out that although the U.S. Census Bureau has reported statewide population of 6,547,629, a gain of 3.1 percent since 2000, results of last year's tally for cities, towns and counties won't be released until next month or March.

"People deserve a small-city and -town district," Nuciforo said, "and we hope the state Legislature will listen." He acknowledged that the outcome might not be known until a year from now.

According to Nuciforo, if U.S. Rep. Michael E. Capuano, Stephen Lynch, Edward Markey or Barney Frank challenge Brown, "it might make this a little easier to sort out."

One of the politicians who signed the letter to Nuciforo, city of Pittsfield consultant and former North Adams Mayor John Barrett III, said Wednesday that "the way Andy is going about this is wrong, he has pulled this kind of stunt in the past and he hasn't taken into consideration the long service of John Olver to this district." He described Nuciforo as showing disrespect toward Olver.

Barrett described Nuciforo as "an opportunist" who edged out former Pittsfield Mayor Sara Hathaway when she was seeking the Berkshire Middle Registry post.

He also contended that if Olver were seen as cruising to likely re-election with no Democratic challenger, his clout would improve prospects for the survival of the district as it's now drawn.

"If Olver stays in office, then don't mess with the 1st District," said Barrett bluntly. "We would have a much stronger hand."

"Nuciforo should have waited," Barrett maintained. "But Olver will blow anybody away in a primary because he has strong union support. He's a formidable opponent and he has always walked to the beat of his own drummer."

Pittsfield Mayor James Ruberto said Wednesday that he was informed of the letter as it was being prepared, but decided not to sign it. But, he added, "all Democrats are concerned about trying to avoid inter-party rivalries in this era of tea party candidates."

"I have a lot of respect for Andy," Ruberto emphasized. "He's an independent thinker who plans well and moves forward to execute a plan. But Olver has served the community well. He has certainly helped us here in Pittsfield and continues to be strongly influential in Washington, so I intend to support him going forward. I'm not sure the letter accomplished any purpose."

Olver was instrumental in helping General Dynamics secure a lucrative Navy contract for 10 ships, a project that will bring 200 or more highly-paid engineering jobs to the city this year, and at least 300 more by 2015.


"Nuciforo's right to run"
The Berkshire Eagle, Editorial, January 7, 2011

It is too early for a 2012 congressional campaign to be heating up, as an Eagle headline observed Thursday, but a possible Democratic primary battle between 1st District Representative John Olver and Berkshire Middle Register of Deeds Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. is already boiling. Perhaps it should cool off for a year.

The heat was applied in November by a group of 23 billing itself as Concerned Democrats of Berkshire County that said kind things about Mr. Nuciforo before essentially advising him to get lost. The group touted Mr. Olver's record and influence gained over 20 years in Congress and suggested that Mr. Nuciforo only run for the office should Mr. Olver decide not to seek re-election. The Amherst Democrat has since announced his intention of seeking another term in 2012.

Serving as background to this debate is the upcoming House redistricting triggered by Massachusetts' loss of one seat based on U.S. Census results. The Olver Democrats argue that the 1st District will not be tinkered with if Mr. Olver remains in office, but they also appear to believe that Mr. Nuciforo cannot defeat Mr. Olver anyway. Should an eastern congressman decide to run for Senate next year against Republican Scott Brown, that congressman's district will almost assuredly be merged with another. However, if all congressmen (and all are Democrats) decide to sit tight, Beacon Hill is likely to look to the far west to find a seat to eliminate.

Mr. Olver knows Pittsfield and the Berkshires and has consistently delivered for both, most notably for the city's downtown projects. He has also been a reasonable, progressive voice on national issues. However, contested elections are healthy for a congressional district, and beyond his tough race against Republican former Acting Governor Jane Swift, Mr. Olver has not had many. His most recent Republican opponent, Bill Gunn, might have won in Mississippi, but his extremist views didn't register with voters here.

Redistricting may change the dynamic entirely, but if Republicans can't produce viable candidates for the office then perhaps a hard-fought Democratic primary race will give the issues of the day -- local, state and national -- a thorough airing. A former state senator, Mr. Nuciforo has the credentials to make a run, and while it may be difficult to make a case against Mr. Olver's election to another term, Mr. Nuciforo has every right to make that case. This is not Mr. Olver's seat, any more than the seat now held by Scott Brown belonged to Ted Kennedy.

Much may change in the year ahead because of the redistricting, so this is a debate that can be revisited. In Pittsfield anyway, there's a mayoral race to run first, and 2012 can wait.

"Western Mass. must have a voice"
By Andrea "Luciforo", Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, February 2, 2011
PITTSFIELD, Massachusetts

The U.S. Census Bureau announced last month that Massachusetts will lose a congressional seat in 2012, dropping from 10 seats to nine. City and town officials universally expressed disappointment, but few were surprised. Since 2001, the population of Massachusetts has grown by just 3.1 percent, while the nation as a whole has grown by 9.7 percent. Over the years, as America's population moved south and west, Massachusetts has seen its numbers shrink on Capitol Hill. Massachusetts boasted 14 congressmen as recently as 1963. By falling to nine seats in 2012, Massachusetts will have lost more than a third of its representation in the U.S. House of Representatives in the last 50 years.

This dynamic creates a challenge for our state legislators as they begin to craft new congressional districts. It will be up to our leaders in the Massachusetts Senate and House of Representatives to make sure that the small cities and towns of western and central Massachusetts have a voice in Washington that will speak exclusively for them.

Why is this important? Because billions of federal dollars are allocated based, in part, on community population, and small cities and towns deserve to be represented when those funding formulas are determined. For example, rural hospitals such as Fairview in Great Barrington receive federal funding under the "critical access hospital" program. Small business financing through the Rural Business Enterprise Grant program provides start-up capital in rural markets underserved by traditional lenders. And small communities must compete to gain access to funds under the $4 billion Community Development Block Grant program. These programs, and many others like them, are designed to serve rural communities, and those communities deserve a voice advocating exclusively for them in Washington.

Make no mistake: Massachusetts will continue to see a concentration of congressional power in larger urban areas. As a general rule, congressional districts in Massachusetts consist of one or two large cities, surrounded by a handful of smaller towns. Consider, for example, the 3rd district, which includes the cities of Worcester and Fall River with 26 smaller communities.

Similarly, the 10th district stretches from Quincy and Weymouth down to Cape Cod and the islands. The only exception to this general rule is the 1st district in western and central Massachusetts. That district is comprised of 107 small cities and towns. The most populous city in the first congressional district is Pittsfield, with approximately 41,000 people. Westfield, Leominster, Fitchburg and other small cities run close behind. These small cities and towns have many common interests, distinct from the interests of large urban areas.

It is critical that we preserve a rural district in western and central Massachusetts. Three congressional districts are currently based in western and central Massachusetts, but some people have proposed reducing that number to two. Cutting our representation in the U.S. House of Representatives by 33 percent would be disastrous for the families, businesses and municipalities in our region. If you agree, make your voice heard. Tell your state representative or state senator. Tell him or her that you believe that the interests of small cities and towns in Massachusetts deserve a voice of their own in Washington. After all, our federal funding could depend on it.

Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. served as state senator for the Berkshire district from 1997 to 2007. He currently serves as Register of Deeds in Pittsfield, and will be a candidate for U.S. Congress in the First Congressional District in 2012. To learn more, please visit,facebook. com/andreanuciforo, and,--Jr.


Andrea Nuciforo is readying his campaign ahead of the 2012 congressional elections as he plans to unseat longtime Congressman John W. Olver. (Ben Garver)

"Nuciforo sets sights on Olver's seat"
By Clarence Fanto, Berkshire Eagle Staff, April 8, 2011

PITTSFIELD -- With a complex redistricting scenario affecting Berkshire County still to unfold, Middle Berkshire Register of Deeds Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., a former state senator who represented the district from 1997-2006, is raising money, adding staff, and campaigning to unseat U.S. Rep. John W. Olver next year.

Having irritated the local Democratic establishment by jumping into the race last December, a full 18 months before a potential primary showdown with Olver, the 74-year-old Democrat from Amherst, Nuciforo, who's 47, said the veteran congressman's loyalists are still giving him the cold shoulder.

"I'm still very much the outsider," he acknowledged. "There is a band of folks accustomed to picking Democratic nominees. ... My hope is that we can build an organization that's committed to us and if we do that as successfully as we did the first time around, I think we'll be OK."

Nuciforo emphasized his major campaign theme -- "voters deserve a choice, not a small band of self-appointed political insiders. They will have that choice."

But major uncertainty surrounds the 2012 election for the state's representation in Congress.

"The issue is going to be redistricting because at this point, I don't know what the district is going to look like," he said. "No one does. My primary interest is in having at least one district in Massachusetts that is comprised entirely of small towns and small cities" such as Pittsfield, Leominster and Fitchburg.

Because the state's rate of population growth in the 2010 census was lower than the national average, Massachusetts will lose one of its 10 members of Congress. The expansive 1st Congressional District, which includes 107 communities from Berkshire County east to Fitchburg, has a slightly lower population, by 82,000, than the minimum required, which is 727,000.

The 2nd Congressional District, which includes Springfield, is about on target with the population formula and there has been speculation that the 1st and 2nd might be combined.

But, as Nuciforo pointed out in a meeting with Eagle reporters and editors Thursday, as many as 10 scenarios have surfaced. They include Pittsfield and Springfield together without Amherst, Pittsfield and Amherst together without Springfield, all three cities together in a district, and even a bizarre possibility that would split Berkshire County in half to create two horizontal-tier districts extending into eastern Massachusetts that would put Pittsfield and Worcester together.

"There are a lot of crazy scenarios knocking around out there," Nuciforo said. "With so much uncertainty, we thought it was important that we put a stake in the ground, that we get our organization together, start raising money and do the things we have to do to succeed."

He reported having raised $140,000 so far, with a goal of $200,000 by the end of the year.

A public hearing by the state Legislature's Joint Committee on Redistricting is slated for Monday, April 25, at Pittsfield City Hall starting at 6 p.m. State lawmakers are expected to redraw the district map by November.

Despite all the uncertainties, Nuciforo explained the early launch of his campaign because he anticipated running in a primary next May in "new and very different terrain," depending on the outcome of the redistricting snafu.

One outcome, he said, would be a combination of the 1st and 2nd districts, producing a potential three-way primary contest involving him, Olver, and veteran U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield.

On policy issues, Nuciforo is focusing on what he termed "an eroding middle class with a smaller and smaller concentration of wealth, retirement assets that have crumbled, high unemployment and the demise of manufacturing that is affecting a lot of places like Pittsfield. People are very unhappy with the solutions that are coming from Washington."

He declined to criticize Olver's performance, but blasted Democrats for failing to stop the extension of tax cuts for the wealthy while they controlled both houses of Congress and the White House for two years until this past January.

"If you send the exact same people to Washington, you're guaranteed to get the same result," he asserted.

"I am not going to depict or characterize other candidates or the positions other candidates take," he continued, "until we know what the district looks like and who the candidates are. I'm extremely disappointed with the performance I've seen from our Democratic, elected representatives."

He included all of the state's 10 Democratic congressmen in his critique -- "I would put my progressive credentials up against any of those guys."

He promised, if elected, that he would be "a very aggressive, prominent, proud and outspoken voice for progressive values."

Whatever the outcome of his political ambitions, Nuciforo said he will not seek re-election to his Registry position. "That's OK," he said when asked about the possibility that he could be out of a job if he fails to win a Democratic primary next spring.

Last November, a group of 23 politicians billing themselves as Concerned Democrats of Berkshire County sent Nuciforo a strongly worded, critical letter of complaint after he revealed his intentions to challenge Olver, who also expressed irritation over Nuciforo's early entry into the race.


"Connecting Point: Former State Sen. Andrea Nuciforo discusses plans to run against Rep. John Olver in 2012"
By S.P. Sullivan, - May 27, 2011

Former State Senator and current Berkshire County Middle District Register of Deeds Andrea Nuciforo appeared on WGBY's "Connecting Point" recently to discuss plans to unseat U.S. Rep. John Olver in 2012.

Nuciforo, a Democrat, plans to run against Olver in the primary, but first must wait to see how the state's redistricting process pans out, as state legislators redraw Congressional maps. Massachusetts lost one of its 10 Congressional seats after the results of the 2010 census showed its population growth did not keep pace with other states.

"The real issue is whether we can fight hard enough to keep two seats headquartered in Western Massachusetts," said Nuciforo, who has been offering regular testimony at the hearings held around the state by the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting, including the first hearing in Springfield.

Nuciforo has a lot at stake as the committee redraws Congressional districts. Already seeking to unseat an incumbent in his own party, Nuciforo would have to run against both Olver and Richard Neal, D-Springfield, if Western Mass. sees its two districts merged.

Neal and Olver have both made clear their intentions to seek reelection in 2012.

There has been significant speculation that the less densely-populated western part of the state would see its Congressional representation cut, but the seniority of its two Congressmen, Olver and Neal, could be a factor in maintaining two seats.

During his interview with WGBY's Jim Madigan, Nuciforo made the case that the rural 1st Congressional district, which he is seeking to represent, fits the description of a "community of interest," one of several considerations the committee will weigh when redrawing maps. He said:

"It's the small cities and small towns of Western Massachusetts. Cities like Pittsfield, my hometown, Westfield, Easthampton, North Adams, Greenfield — those kinds of communities. There's a logic for this kind of a drawing, of these two districts. It makes sense to put together small cities with a manufacturing pedigree that have a common history that are struggling to find their way in the new economy."

Pressed by Madigan to outline why he was more fit to govern than Olver, Nuciforo declined to levy any attacks against his fellow Democrat, saying simply that "voters deserve a choice."

He cited primaries in two of the areas district attorney races, Hampden County and the Northwest Region, which saw contested races and significant public interest as a result.

"There has not been a meaningful Democratic primary for either seat in Western Massachusetts in the United States Congress since 1991," he said. "Giving Democratic primary voters a choice once every 20 years is not too often."


'Everything's on the table'
By AP Wire - 8/20/2011

BOSTON - State lawmakers charged with reshaping Massachusetts' political map are considering a multitude of ways to merge two congressional districts, but at least one scenario could pit two Democratic representatives from the Boston area against each other in next year's election.

Many possible maps could emerge from the redistricting process, but the districts of U.S. Reps. Stephen Lynch of South Boston and William Keating of Quincy could be vulnerable if the committee chooses to protect high-ranking lawmakers and the only woman in the state's congressional delegation.

Lynch has represented parts of Boston and 20 communities south of the city since 2001. Keating, who is serving his first term, represents the South Shore and Cape Cod.

Lawmakers on the redistricting committee say the state's political clout and the delegation's diversity are considerations, but they have not made any final decisions about how to cut one of the state's 10 congressional seats, all held by Democrats. The prospects have caught a number of eyes in western Massachusetts, a sprawling two-seat region held by U.S. Reps. John Olver and Richard Neal. Berkshire Register of Deeds and former state Sen. Andrea Nuciforo is also looking to land a congressional seat in the Pioneer Valley and Berkshires, but it's unclear whom he will be running against.

"Everything's on the table," said Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, the Senate chairman of the legislative redistricting committee, saying the panel is still poring over census data and statistics and has yet to begin drawing any maps.

However, Rosenberg dismissed recent reports that any decisions had been set in stone.

"That's all speculation. There are no decisions. Only speculation," said Rosenberg.

Olver's campaign manager, Debra Guachione, said the congressman has "officially no comment on the matter. He has faith in the committee and in the process."

She said their office has been "privy to as much as the public has been privy to. ... We are anxious like everyone else" to see a new map.

Rosenberg and the committee's House chairman, Rep. Michael Moran, D-Boston, say their main concerns are maintaining a district with a majority of minority voters, and creating balanced, contiguous districts that will withstand constitutional challenges.

Given these standards, the state's current majority-minority 8th District, which was redrawn after 2000 to improve the representation of minorities in Congress, is not likely to see drastic changes. U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano of Somerville represents the district, which consists of parts of Boston, Chelsea, Somerville and Cambridge.

Rosenberg said many members of the public testified they wanted the district of U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas of Lowell protected because she is the only woman in the state's delegation, but there is no requirement to do so.

"There is a thought process and principle that we, as Massachusetts, should consider that she is the only woman," said Moran, but said this idea did not have as much weight as standards created by law.

Congressional lawmakers that could see a reprieve because of their political power include U.S. Reps. Barney Frank of Newton, the ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee; Edward Markey of Malden, who was elected in 1976, is a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the longest serving member of the delegation; James McGovern of Worcester, who is likely to be the next Democratic chairman of the House Rules Committee; Neal of Springfield, who is set to be the next chairman of the Ways and Means Committee if Democrats regain House control; and Olver of Amherst, a senior member of the appropriations committee.

"We're not doing our job as good as we could if we don't consider that," said Moran, adding that these considerations do not mean the changes will be in eastern Massachusetts.

The chairmen said the scenario of Keating and Lynch facing off was "speculation" and "rumor" but both said they were concerned that no congressman currently lives in Southeastern Massachusetts or Cape Cod where 1.5 million constituents live.

"That's a problem," Moran said.

That could cause other shake-ups in eastern Massachusetts and possibly change the shape of Frank's district, which covers the South Coast and snakes north to Newton and Brookline. It could also shift McGovern's district, which extends as far south as Fall River.

Keating and Lynch issued statements downplaying the speculation one of them could lose their seats.

"I spoke with Sen. Rosenberg this afternoon and he informed me that no decisions have been made nor even a draft map drawn, and given our natural, coastal borders, I feel that the integrity of the district will likely be preserved," Keating said.

"Until there is a map to comment on, this is all speculation. I have tremendous confidence that their decisions will be in the public interest and respectful of the constitutional standards involved," Lynch said.

The state is losing one of its 10 U.S. House seats because of population declines.


"Future of Mass. congressional districts still shaky"
By Trevor Jones, Berkshire Eagle Staff, October 12, 2011

With the debate on redistricting the state's Congressional districts nearing its conclusion, maps showing how one of the 10 seats will be eliminated could be released as early as this week, according to one state legislator.

State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing told The Eagle on Tuesday that he has spoken with state Sen. Stanley C. Rosenberg, Senate co-chairman of the Legislature's redistricting committee, about the need to maintain a two-seat representation for Western Massachusetts and the rumors of what districts will be eliminated.

In those discussions, Downing said, Rosenberg told him the maps could be released as soon as this week or as late as early next week.

"He told me nothing's been settled at this point, but that we can expect to see maps within the next week," said Downing in a phone interview from Boston.

An article in Tuesday's Boston Globe reported the debate is pitting the eastern part of the state against the west. Citing unnamed sources, the article stated the most likely scenarios would involve a merger of the seats of South Boston's Stephen F. Lynch and William R. Keating of Quincy to encompass most of the South Shore and Cape Cod, or a merger of the 1st and 2nd districts in Western Massachusetts, currently held by John W. Olver of Amherst and Richard E. Neal of Springfield, respectively.

Downing said he has heard talk of merging those districts, as well as possible consolidation of the 5th and 6th districts in the Middlesex Valley, but added, "At this point they're still rumors."

Downing said it's important for the two Western Massachusetts seats to be maintained because of the diverse needs of Neal's district, which largely encompasses Springfield, and Olver's district, which covers mostly small towns and cities, including all of Berkshire County.

"The needs of those two areas are distinct and they are largely different," said Downing. "They require each to have a representative."

Olver, a proponent of keeping a two-seat representation in Western Massachusetts who has repeatedly stated his intentions to seek another term, declined to comment for this story.

The joint redistricting committee is tasked with configuring the state's legislative districts after U.S. Census data showed the state's population increases had not kept pace with other parts of the nation. The number of U.S. House members has to go from 10 to nine.

Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., the Middle Berkshire District Register of Deeds, has been an ardent supporter of maintaining two seats in Western Massachusetts, and intends to run for the U.S. House of Representatives seat for this area in 2012. Nuciforo said it's critical that locals make their voice heard as the committee nears the end of its deliberation, as the 1st District is the last in the state to exclusively represent rural communities.

"If we blow this up," said Nuciforo, "there won't be any rural districts and all the districts here will be dominated by the larger cities."

To reach Trevor Jones:, or (413) 528-3660.


"Rep. Neal has campaign cushion: Congressional candidates report finances"
By Scott Flaherty SPECIAL TO THE TELEGRAM & GAZETTE - October 19, 2011

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, has one of the largest campaign treasuries in the U.S. House, but over the past three months, he has raised much less than U.S. Reps. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester, and John W. Olver, D-Amherst.

Mr. McGovern led the Central Massachusetts delegation, raising less than $171,000 from July 1 to Sept. 30, according to third-quarter campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission. Mr. Olver raised about $93,000 over the same period, and Mr. Neal, $51,000. Candidates’ reports were due Saturday.

While Mr. Neal raised the least last quarter, he still had about $2.3 million in cash on hand as of Sept. 30, much of it left over from previous campaigns.

That amount puts him 10th on a nationwide list of the largest campaign war chests among incumbents in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks and analyzes reports submitted to the FEC.

For the 2011-2012 election cycle to date, Mr. Neal has raised $404,699 and spent about $294,542, according to his FEC filing. Almost three-quarters of Mr. Neal’s campaign donations came from political action committees, through which interest groups donate to candidates. He raised $83,453 from individual contributors during the third quarter, according to the FEC.

About half of Mr. Neal’s individual donations came from Massachusetts, with the remaining half from the Washington, D.C., area and a few other states, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The top donors to Mr. Neal’s campaign include PACs representing the high-technology manufacturer United Technologies, the insurance company Northwestern Mutual, and national industry associations such as the American College of Emergency Physicians. Mr. Neal is one of the most senior Democrats on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which drafts the country’s tax laws. Because of a loss in population, Massachusetts will lose one of its seats in the House for the 2012 election, which could impact Mr. Neal and Mr. Olver: The state has not released its final plan to redraw the congressional districts, but one option would eliminate a district in the western part of the state.

As of Sept. 30, Mr. Olver had a little more than $205,000 on hand, according to the FEC, or less than 10 percent of the amount that Mr. Neal had in his treasury. Mr. Olver has raised $354,062 in the 2011-2012 election cycle to date and has spent about $207,267.

A little less than half of Mr. Olver’s contributions came from PACs, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Individual donors made up almost $178,000 of his contributions, 86 percent of which came from in-state.

Mr. McGovern, who had about $269,000 in cash on hand as of Sept. 30, second among the three House members, has raised $410,423 in the 2011-2012 election cycle, according to his third-quarter FEC filing. He has spent $167,452 to date.

In contrast to Mr. Neal and Mr. Olver, less than 40 percent of Mr. McGovern’s donations for the 2011-2012 election cycle have come from PACs, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Mr. McGovern has received about $250,000 from individual contributors, which accounts for 61 percent of his donations for the 2012 campaign.

Most of Mr. McGovern’s individual donations came from within Massachusetts, with less than 30 percent coming from out-of state, according to the center.

Mr. Olver is the only member of the Central Massachusetts delegation who has an opponent. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., a former Democratic state senator from Pittsfield, has raised about $101,000 so far this year, according to the FEC.

An opponent who is steadily raising money, as Mr. Nuciforo is, can put pressure on an incumbent to step up his fundraising efforts, said Michael Beckel, spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics.

“In a seat with no challenger, it’s a lot easier to coast,” Mr. Beckel said.

Regardless of the final redistricting plan, it is likely that most of the state’s districts will experience at least minor changes and representatives may pick up constituents from new cities and towns, which can also have a notable impact on campaigns and fundraising efforts, Mr. Beckel said.

“Redistricting can throw an incumbent or a challenger into a whole new ballgame,” said Mr. Beckel. He explained that, especially for incumbents, a change in the districts can mean losing longtime supporters and gaining potential voters who may not be familiar with a certain candidate.

“If the lines move, if the boundaries change, there are a lot of people who the politician is just another face to,” Mr. Beckel said.


"New map: Berkshires would go to Neal's Springfield district"
November 7, 2011

BOSTON (AP) -- A new congressional map would lump the Berkshires into the district represented by Rep. Richard Neal of Springfield.

The proposed map, unveiled Monday by the Legislature's Redistricting Committee, puts two members of the state's all-Democratic delegation into a single district, creating one new district without an incumbent.

Under the proposal, the district represented by Rep. Niki Tsongas of Lowell would pick up Lawrence. The district represented by Neal of Springfield would pick up the Berkshires.

It would place U.S. Reps. Stephen Lynch of South Boston and William Keating of Quincy in the same district by pulling Quincy into the district now represented by Lynch.

The map would give Keating the option of relocating to a family home in the new district. Keating could not immediately be reached for comment.

The redrawn district now represented by Rep. Michael Capuano of Somerville would be a minority-majority district.


Nat Karns, executive director of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, speaks about the changing vision of the organization on Wednesday. Photo by Ben Garver of The Berkshire Eagle.

“What's the plan? Berkshire Regional Planning Commission rewrites its mission”
By Larry Parnass, – The Berkshire Eagle, November 17, 2016

PITTSFIELD - What's good for all Berkshire County residents?

It pays to be specific on that, one of the region's leading public institutions believes.

After 23 years operating under a vague mission statement, the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission may adopt wording Thursday designed to be "aspirational."

The old statement speaks only of service to the "common good."

But how?

Final drafts to be examined Thursday night include pledges to help people in the county - and leaders of their communities - achieve "prosperity, opportunities, quality of life, strength and vibrancy."

And while the old mission statement spoke in dry terms of convening forums and delivering services, the new ones up for a vote embrace a spirit of fight and advocacy, calling for the commission to "seize opportunities and confront challenges for the Berkshires."

The commission's chairman, Kyle Hanlon, of North Adams, said times demand that the group fight on behalf of the county's 128,715 residents.

"Who else is going to advocate for the entire region?" he asked. "If not us, who?"

Nathaniel W. Karns, the commission's executive director, said small groups working on a new mission statement decided this year to reach for a more meaningful definition of what constitutes the common good.

"They asked, 'What are we really trying to do here?' It's more aspirational for what we're trying to do for the communities of the region," he said. "This is a way to set the big picture."

The commission's board will also consider new statements detailing the group's vision and values shaped by members of its executive committee, with help from civic leaders.

Karns' group provides technical assistance of a range of projects to the 32 cities and towns in the county. Since the demise of county government in Massachusetts, the commission has emerged as a key municipal ally, particularly in smaller towns unable to afford their own planning staff. It operates on a $2,445,432 budget this year.

Hanlon, who took the chairman's seat two months ago after years as the North Adams delegate, said that after county government was phased out, the commission stepped into the breach. But its mission was never adjusted or its role redefined.

"It's never really been spelled out," he said.

The commission's civic purpose appears prominently in the "values" statement that could get the green light today: "The highest quality information and analysis is the basis for our work," a passage reads.

The outside community leaders who helped devise the new statements included Ellen Kennedy, president Berkshire Community College; Kristine Hazzard, president and CEO of Berkshire United Way; Christopher J. Ketchen, the Lenox town manager; Jim Huebner, chairman of the Berkshire Public Health Alliance; and Tad Ames, president of the Berkshire Natural Resources Council.

Their ideas were expanded and refined in a session led by a facilitator, Al Bashevkin, the retired executive director of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition.


Karns said the old mission statement, created just before he joined the group, should have dreamed bigger.

"We weren't willing to take risks to try and better the region," he said. "We weren't trying to excel."

C.J. Hoss, Pittsfield's city planner, said that given economic realities throughout the county, "we are in this together."

Hoss, who serves as an alternate to the commission, said the approach he and others take to economic development, growth and jobs has shifted since the last mission statement was written.

While once the hope might have been to lure in big new companies able to create lots of jobs at once, it is vital now to help existing firms prosper, he said.

"There is more and more realization that we have companies left here in the Berkshires, and [we must] make sure that they have the resources they need," Hoss said.

On that front, the commission's proposed vision statement cites principles laid out in an earlier plan, Sustainable Berkshires. Its new vision seeks to advance growth, but also puts other goals up front with a pledge to back "environmental, social and economic equity."

"I think it's right on target," Hoss said of the new mission statement.

Hazzard, the United Way leader who shared ideas on the mission statement, said Wednesday the commission's work to track economic realities remains essential to the region's well-being.

"It's really important to stay fact-based," she said. "The economic landscape - the economic challenges, the loss of jobs - is a primary one that they've been able to document."

In her own work with the United Way, Hazzard said the commission is a valued ally. "My team can call them any day of the week -- and they do. And they get right back to you. ... They really are our objective data source when we talk about priorities and our community."

The commission meeting is open to the public and starts at 7 p.m. in its office at 1 Fenn St., Suite 201, in Pittsfield.

Reach staff writer Larry Parnass at 413-496-6214 or @larryparnass.

Nat Karns, executive director of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, discusses the current state of broadband internet in the Berkshires. Photo by Ben Garver of The Berkshire Eagle.

Nat Karns, executive director of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, speaks to the changing vision of the organization, Wednesday, November 16, 2016. Credit: Ben Garver - The Berkshire Eagle.

“New job for Berkshire Regional Planning chief: Help find his successor”
By Larry Parnass, – The Berkshire Eagle, March 3, 2017

PITTSFIELD — Enough with the Berkshire winters.

That's one of the things pushing the 23-year leader of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission toward retirement.

But slowly.

Nathaniel W. Karns told his Executive Committee this week he would like to leave his position by year's end, before next winter's blizzards hit.

"That was not entirely in jest," Karns, 64, said Friday of his reference to bad weather.

But first, like any good planner, he has armed commission leaders with a step-by-step outline on how to find a new leader.

The public agency, based on Fenn Street in Pittsfield, helps cities and towns throughout the county understand and solve problems they face. It operates on a $2.45 million budget this year.

Karns became the commission's second leader when he arrived in August 1994, replacing Karl Hekler, who had been hired at the organization's founding in 1966.

The need to replace Karns was the final piece of business the Executive Committee took up Thursday — and was the first full discussion of the challenge it faces in finding only the group's third leader in 50 years.

"We're going to be starting the process," said Kyle Hanlon of North Adams, the commission's chairman.

In an interview later, Hanlon praised Karns' ability to digest complex mandates and reach out for divergent views.

"Nat certainly is one of the most inclusive people I've ever met," Hanlon said.

The commission will seek that skill in its next leader. "The ability to reach out to people is the most important thing — and thoughtfully weigh opposing positions," he said. "I hold Nat in high regard for his ability to do that."

Over more than two decades, Karns developed a professional network across the county and state, since well before Facebook.

"He knows more about stuff in my backyard than I do," Hanlon said. "And he reaches out across the state and pushes to represent Berkshire County — because we are the forgotten ones."

The salary for the next leader is expected to be in the low $100,000 range. Karns earns roughly $117,000 a year.

High points

Asked to name a pivotal moment in his job, Karns said it might have come when the commission gave up the ghost on the idea of adding the "Pittsfield bypass," a north-south travel route on the west side of downtown.

The issue had split the community. And state transportation officials eventually made it clear, Karns said, that the project wasn't going to advance. So the commission's transportation planning turned a page.

"It had been a battle that had been going on since the 1960s," he said of the road. "After 30 years, sometimes reality does need to sink in. (Since then) it's been a much more realistic and productive process."

About all that remains of the bypass is Dan Fox Drive off South Street. That road was designed to meet limited-access highway standards to serve as part of a bypass, Karns said, but ends at the Bousquet Ski Area.

On the transportation front, landing state support remains difficult. Compared to other parts of the state, the Berkshires endures what he termed "inequitable treatment" on public transportation.

"We need buses that run much more frequently than they do," Karns said.

A few years after Karns arrived, the commission took a lead role in pushing for broadband internet access in the region. Today, nearly a dozen Berkshire County towns are still considered "unserved." In December, the commission sent a detailed letter to Gov. Charlie Baker arguing that communities with limited internet connections, including even those served by cable companies, face future economic disadvantages.

"Some of it has been frustrating, but we're in a whole lot better position than we were in 1996," he said of broadband.

The next executive director could face increased funding challenges, Karns said.

For instance, government funding for certain environmental projects has already tightened. Karns said the commission had four people devoted to water quality issues 15 years ago. Today, no one holds that duty full time.

"It just dropped off the state's radar screen," he said.

And ahead, uncertainty about funding could spike under what he termed "monumental changes" under the Trump administration.

Though the guide Karns provided on hiring outlines timelines on recruiting external candidates, he said more than one current employee could step up and apply.

"I think we've got the strongest staff that I can recall," he said.

Calling it a day

After two decades in the Berkshires, Karns said he expects to keep a home here.

"It's the longest I've lived, by far, in any place," he said.

Karns and his wife have two grown sons, one in the area and another in Salt Lake City.

By retiring at 65, Karns said he hopes to take advantage of good health and mobility to travel, something he and his wife enjoy. They want to be able to explore places for more than a week at a time.

"When you're a working stiff you don't get to experience that as much as you'd like," he said.

Travel aside, Karns said he wants a life outside the office, saying, "I have no desire to go out with my boots on."

Reach staff writer Larry Parnass at 413-496-6214 or @larryparnass