"We Wanna Hear Your 2 Cents!"
Serving Berkshires' Bloggers and Other Great Minds
posted by G.M.Heller at Monday, May 16, 2005
"10 reasons to vote against Nuciforo"Written in December of 2003The following is a top ten list why the voters of Berkshire County should vote the current state Senator out of political office:10. In 2003, Nuciforo had the 2nd worst voting record in the Massachusetts Senate, missing 96 roll call votes with a 77-percent attendance record.9. Nuciforo is a Democrat in name only. In the 2002 gubernatorial election, Nuciforo was a weak supporter of Shannon O’Brien and told BCC students vote for the third party candidates.8. Similar to his colleague, state Rep. Larkin, Nuciforo openly admitted he resides and spends more time out of Berkshire County than within, which leads to…7. A great majority of Nuciforo’s campaign contributions comes from out of his legislative district, leaving the impression that his real constituency are special interests in the Boston Metropolitan region, which leads to…6. While two out of three Berkshire County voters endorsed Clean Elections several years ago, Nuciforo overruled the voters and worked to abolish this reformist campaign finance voluntary program.5. Nuciforo abolished Berkshire County government in the FY99 state budget, but not before Commissioners Tom Stokes, Bob Melle and Ron Kitterman worked on behalf of Cheshire residents to purchase and save their reservoir/lake from weed infestation and the plight of a negligent private owner. At the same time period, Nuciforo placed the Gem of the County into a state accounting agency, leaving Pontoosuc Lake to waste for over two years.4. Nuciforo failed to sell the Berkshire Economic Development Authority to any one of the 31 municipalities outside of Pittsfield. Instead of selling the Berkshires to outside developers, Nuciforo was left to amending the program to cover only Pittsfield; hence PEDA.3. Nuciforo voted for leadership payraises this year while local aid, education and public works funding, and lottery money for good causes were all slashed.2. Nuciforo was the only state Senator to vote against an all felon DNA database, despite the fact that the measure now covers such violent crimes as drugging with the intent to rape and assault and battery on a child to inflict bodily injury.1. Nuciforo is part of the problem on Beacon Hill. Berkshire County is not being represented in our state government by sincere and grassroots delegates. For the past couple of years we have experienced painful cuts to our communities while our state Legislators have received indefensible payraises and aristocratic treatment.Sincerely,Jonathan A. Melle
NOTE: I have posted additional comments concerning the corruption and poor leadership of State Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. under other blog headings within this web blog. -Jonathan
NOTE: NUCIFORO CREATED A MONOPOLY FOR BERKSHIRE HEALTH SYSTEMS BY EXCLUDING ACCESS TO CERTAIN CRITICAL HEALTH EQUIPMENT BY ALL OTHER HEALTH PROVIDERS IN BERKSHIRE COUNTY. THIS HELPS THE MONOPOLY BHS, BUT HURTS THE MEDICAL PATIENTS WHO NEED LIFE-SAVING TREATMENTS.NUCIFORO DID SO WITH NO PUBLIC HEARINGS OR COMMENTS. NUCIFORO PASSED THIS LAW VIA A SECRET AMENDMENT TO THE FISCAL YEAR 2002 "THANKSGIVING" STATE BUDGET.THIS STORY IS YET ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF NUCIFORO'S CORRUPT AND POOR LEADERSHIP. ... The Berkshire Eagle Competitive image MRI site, facing state obstacle, opens in New Lebanon By Jack Dew, Berkshire Eagle Staff Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - PITTSFIELD -- A group of radiologists who broke off from Berkshire Medical Center 18 months ago are expanding their offerings, bringing in cutting-edge technology and offering an open-style MRI machine just over the border in New York. Berkshire Radiological Associates opened their imaging center at 610 North St. in May 2003 after their three doctors emerged from a prolonged divorce with Berkshire Medical Center, which had fought their plans to open their free-standing clinic. In its first year, the group reported 22,000 patient visits for X-rays, CT scans, mammograms and other services, but the physicians had been unable to offer MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging. They were blocked by a law passed by the Legislature in 2001 after heavy lobbying by Berkshire Health Systems, the parent company of both BMC and Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington. That law essentially made it impossible for any entity other than a hospital to get a state license to operate an MRI in Berkshire County. In June, Berkshire Radiological found a way around that prohibition and bought a state-of-the-art, open MRI that they installed in a storefront where the Massachusetts laws don't apply -- just over the state line in New Lebanon, N.Y., 10 miles from its North Street clinic. The three partners in the practice, Jerome M. Auerbach, Robert B. Geehr and Stuart J. Masters, all said they were relieved to be able to again offer MRI to their patients. By choosing an open-style machine instead of the more common tunnel-style scanners that make some patients feel claustrophobic, they said they are complementing the service available in Berkshire County. "To have an office that allows us to do everything is very, very important," Geehr said. "I have been doing MR for 15 or 16 years, and I missed doing it and always anticipated that we would be able to do it in some way." He added, "I would prefer to have it [in Pittsfield] rather than [New Lebanon]. It is an added expense for us, but we really felt that we needed to do this, and I think we have managed to provide the same level of service here that we do in Pittsfield." Berkshire Health Systems has opposed the doctors and their outpatient clinic because it fears the new office is draining patients and profits from its own facilities. In a medical marketplace that has been unkind to hospitals by offering low reimbursements for many services, MRI has been one of the profitable bright spots. The nonprofit company says competition from an outside clinic threatens its ability to provide the essential but money-losing services that only a hospital can offer, such as an emergency room and an intensive care unit. The radiologists said they are meeting a need in Berkshire County and serving patients who would otherwise have waited weeks for a scan. They are already performing scans on 10 patients a day, five days a week and are considering extending their hours. Their open machine, shaped like a giant "C," is the only one of its kind serving the Berkshire population. In addition to MRI, the physicians are starting to offer a broader range of services and recently began performing virtual colonoscopy, which uses a CT -- or computed tomography -- scan to conduct a colon cancer screening. Although it is not for everyone, said Masters, it is a less-invasive and less time-consuming way to examine a colon and look for polyps that could be the precursor to cancer. Sitting in a darkened room lined with bright, flat-screen computer monitors, Masters demonstrated the virtual colonoscopy. The patient had already been scanned, and with the movements of a mouse and few computer clicks, Masters was able to move through the digital image of the colon like a character in a video game, zooming in to take a closer look at anything suspicious, able to rotate the image anyway necessary to examine the walls of the 3- to 4-foot-long intestine. The standard colonoscopy performed by a gastroenterologist with a colonoscope is still the "gold standard," Masters said, particularly because it allows doctors to biopsy anything that looks suspicious. If the virtual colonoscopy detects a potential problem, the patient would then have to undergo the traditional procedure.So far, neither Medicare nor most private insurers cover the virtual study, which costs roughly $1,100, and the group has administered it to only a handful of patients. The procedure is also available at Berkshire Medical Center, but will not be offered until it is reimbursed. Dr. Robert J. Cella, vice president for medical affairs for Berkshire Health Systems, said the hospital is still not sure what place the virtual colonoscopy has in treating patients. In studies, patients have complained having their colons filled with air -- which is necessary to get a clear image -- is more uncomfortable than the traditional colonoscopy. "We have had no demand for this particular service," Cella said. The doctors of Berkshire Radiological expect that virtual colonoscopy will become more and more popular. A study published in the Dec. 4, 2003, New England Journal of Medicine and summarized by the National Cancer Institute found that virtual colonoscopy, when given to people at average risk for colorectal cancer, "was just as accurate as traditional colonoscopy at detecting potential signs of colon or rectal cancer, and was less invasive." There are indications that Medicare will begin paying for it relatively soon. And with the recommendation that all people over the age of 50 be screened for colon cancer -- the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute -- the doctors expect demand will eventually eclipse the availability of gastroenterologists, making virtual colonoscopy an attractive alternative to people not considered at high risk for colon cancer.
NOTE: THIS IS EVIDENCE OF NUCIFORO'S VOTE FOR GIVING HIMSELF A PAY RAISE DURING A 3-YEAR PERIOD OF STATE BUDGET CUTS!On page B4 in the SUNDAY REPUBLICAN (May 18, 2003), there is a vote that state Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. and all but 9 of his colleagues took that upset me terribly. The roll call is titled: LEADERSHIP JOBS. It reads: Senate 29-9, gave near final approval to a House-approved bill allowing the House & Senate, through their operating rules, to UNILATERALLY set the bonus pay, above the $53, 381 base salary, of their committee chairs and other majority and minority members in leadership positions. Under current law, any bonus pay proposal must be filed as a bill and then go through the regular legislative process and be sent to the governor who can sign or veto it. (A "Yea" vote is for the bill allowing the Legislature to unilaterally set bonus pay. A "Nay" vote is against the bill). Voting yes: Sens. Brewer, Melconian, NUCIFORO and Rosenberg. Voting no: Sens. Knapik and Lees.Please note: The May 08, 2003 edition of THE PITTSFIELD GAZETTE, page 21, bottom left to center of page, which is titled, "BEACON HILL ROLL CALL," also records state Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo II's vote on "Leadership Jobs and Salaries (H3743)."
My stand against State Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.’s inhumane stand against the All Felon DNA Database…Three years ago on June 27, 2000, Molly Bish, then 16, was reported missing from her lifeguard post in Warren. She was recently positively identified as a murder victim. Unfortunately, her murderer was not found. John and Magdalen Bish, Molly Bish's parents, showed true courage when they went to the Statehouse this month to lobby for a bill to require DNA samples from all felons so that the Commonwealth would have the capacity to apprehend such violent criminals. All but three state Senators listened to the Bish family's case for a DNA database. The three state Senators who opposed the DNA database are state Senators Robert Creedon Jr., D-Brockton, Cynthia Creem, D-Newton, and Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., D-Pittsfield.I oppose state Senator Nuciforo's cold and pitiless position against a[n all Felon] DNA database. Senator Nuciforo argued that the [all Felon] DNA database would violate the civil liberties of nonviolent criminals. However, Senator Nuciforo supported omitting the following felonies, including, but not limited to, drugging with the intent to rape, assault and battery on a child with bodily injury, and all drug and gun felonies.This is the delegate that Berkshire County has sent to Beacon Hill since the 1996 election. A politician so removed from everyday life that he would classify child abuse and other felonies as "nonviolent" crimes under the false pretenses of protecting the civil liberties of "nonviolent" felons. It is time that we organize and oppose legislators like Senator Nuciforo so that we can protect our youth in Molly Bish's name.Note: This bill was signed into law last year by Gov. Romney and only opposed by Nuciforo in the final state Senate vote.-Jonathan A. MelleNote: Originally sent in late-June, 2003.~The author is a fomer-Lifelong resident of Berkshire County, MA. AND, Nuciforo tried to have the author arrested by the Pittsfield Police Department in the Spring of 1998. Nuciforo falsely told the Pittsfield Police Department that I was threatening him. Nuciforo violated my civil liberties! There is more about this corrupt leader's actions against me in another blog heading within this blog web site.~
"My personal reasons for speaking out against the intimidating, corrupt and poor leadership of state Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr."My open letter was written on June 25, 2004Hello, Gordon, Dawn, I agree with you, Gordon, about specific persons in relations to PeacePlans. I leave it to you to forward any messages about Nuciforo, such as this one, to the PeacePlans message board. In regards to the PeacePlan message board, President Bush is different than Senator Nuciforo because Bush has supported military solutions to areas where there were diplomatic resolutions. No person in power should use the military instead of diplomacy as a solution unless that solution is in self-defense and/or a last resort. Obviously, Iraq was not what it was made out to be by the Bush administration. I am definitely voting for John F. Kerry for President! As for state Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., I do have a strong dislike for this person. Nuciforo tried to have me arrested in the Spring of 1998 for speaking my views to the public against his (poor) leadership in abolishing Berkshire County government--i.e.-from July 1, 2000 to July 1, 2002, Nuciforo put the former-County government's Pontoosuc Lake in a State Accounting Agency where the body of water was left to neglect for TWO-plus years (see below)! Moreover, Nuciforo neither told me or my family about his false complaints about me to the police. Nuciforo was to have me arrested if I went to his district Senate office in Pittsfield because he deemed me a "threat." I never threatened Nuciforo. He tried to ruin my life by corruptly and secretly working with the police. Fortunately, the police had the integrity to apprise both me and my father, then-Berkshire County Commissioner Bob Melle, about Nuciforo's corrupt and secret plans against me. Nuciforo also put me down at a public meeting in June 1997 when I challenged his record on the issues. Nuciforo told me that he did not like me in front of many public citizens. Nuciforo is a very intimidating top-down public official and he stands against everything that I stand for. I stand for Democracy and the will of the People. I stand for Freedom of Speech and open participation in American government. That is what I do and will always continue to do for as long as I live. Nuciforo will never stop me from speaking my mind and apprising the public of his corrupt public record. Indeed, I will always speak my good conscience as long as I live. And that goes for Peter Larkin, Dan Bosley & "Smitty" Pignatelli, too. I love my country and no one will ever take my citizenship away from me. I am an American citizen! Shaun Kelly never tried to intimidate me from speaking about on government issues, even when I dissented against Shaun Kelly's record, which also has some real good accomplishments and merit. Unlike Nuciforo, Larkin and Bosley, and possibly Pignatelli, Shaun Kelly is a true advocate of the People! The reason why voters should be concerned about Nuciforo's "extra income" is because he stated to the ethics commission nothing about his affiliation with the "Berman & Dowell" Boston Law Firm as a Corporate Attorney for big banks and insurance companies. Moreover, Nuciforo has not apprised the public about his position as a Corporate Attorney for "Berman & Dowell" in Boston. Instead, Nuciforo has stated that he earned his "extra income" from his Pittsfield Law Practice. Nuciforo is being very misleading in his statement to the ethics commission. I do, indeed, believe Nuciforo committed a willful violation of the law by committing perjury to the state ethics commission. I do, indeed, believe that Nuciforo is in conflict of interest to be Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and also serving as a private Corporate Attorney for Banks in a private Boston Law Firm which his constituents no nothing about. This could very well be part of the reason why Nuciforo supported repealing the Clean Elections Law. Has Nuciforo been a good Senator? My answer is a 100% NO! See my further reasons about Nuciforo's poor public record below / at the bottom of this email message. Who is Dawn Taylor Thompson? I am leaving that part up to the candidate herself. I hope the People listen to Dawn Taylor Thompson and her platform, views and ideas for Berkshire County, Western Mass., and state government. I have spoke to Dawn several times as well as emailed her both my views on public policy and on Nuciforo's poor record as a public servant. Dawn is a Republican. Dawn is also bipartisan and supports universal healthcare, public education and increased state aid to our communities. I will leave you with Dawn's Contact information and I hope you contact her and she contacts you. Please give Dawn Taylor Thompson your due consideration.Thank you,Jonathan A. MelleDemocratFormer resident of Berkshire County6/25/2004
NOTE: THIS IS NOT MY LETTER. THIS LETTER IS BY DAWN TAYLOR THOMPSON, WHO OPPOSED NUCIFORO IN THE 2004 BERKSHIRE STATE SENATORIAL ELECTION.Are legislators above the law? Saturday, July 03, 2004 - To the Editor of THE EAGLE:- Did anyone feel that? I believe it was another slap in the face to democracy! From whence did it come? Your Legislature. That's right; those who are supposed to be representing you, the people, are illegally and unlawfully ignoring your voice, says the Supreme Judicial Court -- unanimously. Over 130,000 voters from the commonwealth of Massachusetts signed a petition through the referendum process, compelling the state Legislature to convene a Constitutional Convention. The General Court dutifully met; however, in a show of cowardice, the Senate minority leader, Brian Lees, motioned to adjourn the meeting, and with a vote of 131 to 59, the democratic process ended right there and they all went home. They did not vote on the issue! What was the issue? The definition of marriage. Regardless of one's position, the people wanted a voice in their government, legally compelled the Legislature to vote on it, and most of the law-breaking cowards on Beacon Hill did not have the chutzpah to let their position be known. I hope I am not alone in saying that I would trust a politician who would tell me his stance, though it opposes mine, over one who hides his position or speaks with forked tongue. What has become of the "rule of law"? Does it only apply to the "ruled" and not to the "rulers"? Our constitutional rights are being eradicated and ignored by Nuciforo and Bosley and Pignatelli and Larkin (who since then has changed his tune), among others, who unlawfully voted to adjourn and spit in the face of their unsuspecting constituencies. Even after being instructed by the SJC that they broke the law, Nuciforo again, voted to adjourn another Constitutional Convention. Is the senator above the law? We are stewards of our government and therefore have a duty to our family and to ourselves to ensure that this Republic, this representative government, shall endure long after we are gone. With that in mind, carefully consider who, in the Legislature, has been a good steward, and who should step down. It's not about who you "like" it's about the future of your children and whether their rights and freedoms are as paramount as yours. DAWN TAYLOR THOMPSON Richmond, June 24, 2004 The author is a candidate for state Senate from the Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin District.
June 10, 2005Dear Berkshire Bloggers:Re: “Biosafety lab opponents call for more regulations” (The Boston Globe, 6/10/05): Should not State Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., D—Pittsfield, be more concerned with the myriad of issues facing his Berkshire District instead of the affairs and goings-on in the city of Boston? Are there not already enough Boston politicians to handle their own city issues? It is bad enough that he violates both the letter and spirit of the law by serving as a private corporate banking and insurance lawyer for Berman & Dowell in Boston, but now Nuciforo is also speaking out against a bill for the state to regulate a proposed Biosafety Level-4 laboratory proposed by Boston University.Of course, as noted in the news article, Nuciforo is always on the side of the big corporate interests: “…opponents included Representative Patrick Natale, Democrat of Woburn, and Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., Democrat of Pittsfield, as well as a leading business executive. … Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Paul Guzzi said the bill would thwart the BU lab, which is expected to create more than 600 jobs. `This goes in just the wrong direction to support the growth of the life-sciences cluster here within Greater Boston,’ he said.”How come Berkshire County elects Boston politicians such as Nuciforo to serve her interests? Shouldn’t Western Massachusetts have people who have families, careers, homes and personal lives in the region representing them on Beacon Hill? PLEASE vote out Nuciforo!Sincerely,JonathanThe Boston GlobeBiosafety lab opponents call for more regulationsBy Janette Neuwahl, Globe Correspondent | June 10, 2005Boston politicians and residents, some wearing surgical masks that said ''This won't save us!" spoke out against a proposed biosafety lab yesterday as lawmakers weighed a plan to regulate labs that study infectious diseases throughout Massachusetts.A crowd packed a public hearing held to discuss a bill submitted by Representative Gloria L. Fox, Democrat of Boston, that would give the state's Office of Environmental Affairs a greater say in locating biosafety labs. The bill also calls for the Department of Public Health to monitor the labs, including a Biosafety Level-4 laboratory proposed by Boston University.''We regulate and we inspect beauty parlors, restaurants, nail salons, and just about everything else is regulated and inspected, but not so with Level 3's and 2's and now this Level 4 that is being planned. Nothing is regulated. There is a guideline process, but it isn't mandatory," said Fox. ''This [bill] lifts the veil of secrecy enough to let the public know what they are sitting next to in their homes and communities."The lab, which would be built on Albany Street adjacent to the South End, has received the blessing of an array of local, state, and federal agencies. Final approval must come from the National Institutes of Health and involves a review of the project's potential environmental impact. NIH has issued a draft report concluding that the lab will pose no substantive environmental risks.Yesterday, city councilors Maura Hennigan, Chuck Turner, and Charles Yancey testified in support of the bill while opponents included Representative Patrick Natale, Democrat of Woburn, and Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., Democrat of Pittsfield, as well as a leading business executive.Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Paul Guzzi said the bill would thwart the BU lab, which is expected to create more than 600 jobs. ''This goes in just the wrong direction to support the growth of the life-sciences cluster here within Greater Boston," he said.Yet, Peter Shorett, director of programs at the Council for Responsible Genetics in Cambridge, warned about the consequences of not regulating the labs. He said he has tracked laboratory mishaps in China, Russia, and Maryland.A panel of BU staff members said federal standards provide plenty of protections for the public. ''There are existing laws, regulations, and guidelines that make this legislation redundant," said Mark Klempner, associate provost for research at BU Medical Center.Neighborhood opponents weren't satisfied. ''Despite the best safeguards in the world, accidents are happening and people are fallible," said Aileen Montour of Roslindale. With this lab, she said, ''what we are doing is setting ourselves up as a target."
The Berkshire Eagle OnlineJune, 2005Lawmakers back Patriot Act changesBOSTON -- More than 40 lawmakers have signed onto a proposed legislative resolution calling on Congress to repeal certain portions of the USA Patriot Act, the sweeping antiterrorism bill that was approved shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., D-Pittsfield, is one of two main sponsors of the bill, which also calls on lawmakers to affirm civil liberties for Massachusetts residents. It is scheduled for a hearing today.Among other provisions, the proposed resolution calls on Congress to repeal or amend sections of the act that its sponsors believe infringe on individual rights.While the resolution is not specific about which sections should be repealed, civil libertarians have criticized parts of the act that give law enforcement access to business records and allow the use of delayed-notification search warrants, roving wiretaps, and other surveillance methods.According to the proposed resolution, 358 U.S. cities and towns, including 49 in Massachusetts, have stated official opposition to the Patriot Act and policies the Justice Department has adopted to enforce it.
Senator: end ties with companies dealing with Sudan6/27/2005 10:11 AMBy: The Associated PressDemocratic Senator Andrea Nuciforo Junior of Pittsfield is the lead sponsor of a bill that would require Massachusetts to divest from companies with ties to the government of Sudan. The government is accused of killing thousands in the Darfur region. The state has an estimated $1.4 billion of its pension fund is invested in such companies.
July 25, 2005Petition changes irk interest groups By Erik Arvidson, Eagle Boston BureauBerkshire Eagle BOSTON -- State lawmakers have angered political action groups across a broad political spectrum after legislation was proposed to make it tougher for sponsors of ballot questions to pay firms to collect signatures for them.Conservative groups like Citizens for Limited Taxation have joined with liberal organizations like the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group to oppose a bill that would prohibit sponsors of ballot initiatives from paying people on a per-signature basis when they are circulating a petition.The bill appeared headed for swift approval by the Legislature after the Election Laws Committee last week gave it a favorable recommendation, over objections from a group that opposes same-sex marriage and is targeting a ballot question for 2008.Though the bill's sponsors argued that the measure is aimed at reducing fraud, opponents said it was a threat to the right of citizens to directly petition for a law, bypassing the legislative process."There isn't any fraud in the initiative petition process," Barbara Anderson, executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation, said. "There may be a couple of careless voters who happened to sign a petition on gay marriage thinking it was for horse's rights. If that's the case, those people shouldn't be voting."Anderson said that the bill, sponsored by state Sen. Edward Augustus, D-Worcester, is an attempt by Beacon Hill Democrats to thwart several ongoing ballot drives."These people don't like the voters going around them making their own laws," Anderson said. "They'd rather there was no such thing as the initiative petition process. It's just a phony issue."Carla Howell, a Libertarian candidate for governor in 2002 who helped sponsor a ballot question to eliminate the state income tax, called the bill "a thinly veiled attempt to kill the initiative process.""Their claims are absurd. A volunteer signature gatherer can be just as fraudulent as a paid person," she said, adding that legislators are re-elected at such a high rate, and they want "a monopoly on state government."Janet Domenitz, executive director of MassPIRG, said she did not see the bill as "an antidote to fraud" and that lawmakers should be trying to make the ballot initiative process easier.Augustus and other supporters of the bill, including the Massachusetts League of Women Voters, have argued that paying firms on a per-signature basis to collect signatures was an incentive to add names to a petition fraudulently. The firms could still be paid, but on an hourly basis.In addition, the bill requires that the person gathering signatures to sign each page or the signatures would be disqualified, and also allows opponents of a ballot question easier access to the names and addresses of people who sign a petition.Supporters also have pointed to the 2001 ballot petition drive by opponents of same-sex marriage, who were accused of tricking voters into signing a petition to ban the slaughter of horses when the petition was to ban gay marriage.Anderson said that every ballot initiative petition has a description of the question on one side of the paper, but that in some cases, people were duped into signing the blank side of the paper, without turning the sheet over. Anderson said that if those people were fooled, it was their own fault.Massachusetts is one of 24 states where people can bring an initiative petition before the voters. Sponsors must gather valid signatures from 3 percent of the total number of voters who cast ballots in the last state election to qualify for the ballot. Last year, sponsors needed 65,825 signatures to get a question on the ballot.There are also two layers of review to verify that the signatures are valid, both by the city or town clerks where the signatures were gathered and by the secretary of state's office.Proponents of the bill argue that the minimum signature requirement is so high and the window of time to gather them so short that it requires the use of signature-gathering firms, and that paying them on an hourly basis would be more costly than per-signature.State Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., D-Pittsfield, a member of the Election Laws Committee, supports the legislation, saying that the goal is to crack down on some of the "bait and switch" tactics used by ballot question committees."I think this bill is fair. I think the Legislature continues to believe that we should have an initiative petition process available to the public," he said. "It's a very important tool for the citizens to have. But with the growing technology out there, I think it's reasonable that we have in place some protections for voters."State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, said that, although he hasn't seen the bill, he has always been suspicious of ballot question campaigns."I don't want to take away anybody's right to petition the Legislature, but it can't be done happenstance. I've always had concerns about government by petition. You elect a legislator to lead and make decisions. I think there has to be tighter requirements on what the language can say. It has to be a straightforward vote, so that when you vote 'yes,' it means 'yes,' " he said.State Rep. Denis Guyer, D-Dalton, said that he supports the concept behind the bill, and that paying people by the signature tends to invite fraud."The supporters of certain causes, whether it's a tax cut or banning gay marriage, like to point out that they have the will of the people behind them," Guyer said. "I would say that if these folks feel as if their issue has enough grassroots support, getting enough signatures shouldn't be an issue."The bill now sits before the Senate's Rules Committee, where a vote has been tabled.Erik Arvidson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (617) 722-2495.
NOTE: 5-terms and going in elected state office, and Nuciforo's results include ...THE BOSTON GLOBEUS study finds rise in state's uninsured Trend underlines need for reform, officials sayBy Liz Kowalczyk, Globe Staff | August 31, 2005The number of Massachusetts residents without health insurance jumped about 10 percent last year, surpassing the growth in the uninsured nationally and raising concerns whether climbing private health insurance premiums are shutting out middle-income workers.The federal Census Bureau reported yesterday that the number of uninsured residents in Massachusetts grew to 748,000 last year, up by 66,000 people from 2003. Massachusetts healthcare organizations and the state have estimated a smaller number of uninsured -- between 460,000 and 532,000 residents last year.But consumer advocates and Governor Mitt Romney's administration said that the underlying trend in the Census Bureau's figures is probably accurate.''It's a huge increase and unfortunately it's not a surprise," said John McDonough, executive director of a Boston-based advocacy group, Health Care for All. ''It's all tied to the cost of health insurance. It's either employers dropping coverage, which we haven't seen much of, or employers raising the cost of coverage to workers, so they can no longer afford it."The state, which surveys residents about healthcare issues every other year, found that the number of uninsured jumped 10 percent to 460,000 last year, from 418,000 in 2002. The census numbers are higher because the federal government does not fully count the number of residents who do not have private insurance through work but are enrolled in Medicaid, the state and federal health insurance program for the poor, state officials and advocates said.Tim Murphy, secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, said the federal report provides further evidence of the need for healthcare reform.''This is something that has been of concern to the administration, and is the reason the governor put forth a plan," the Romney Cabinet official said. ''We realize small businesses are having more and more trouble absorbing the double-digit premium increases each year."Romney has made a plan to cover the state's uninsured a major part of his legislative agenda. His proposal includes an ''individual mandate," which would require residents who do not qualify for state programs to obtain insurance or face tax penalties and even the garnishing of their wages.McDonough is part of a large coalition of groups pushing for a different healthcare plan that would require most employers to cover their workers.According to the Census Bureau, 11.7 percent of the state's 6.4 million residents lacked health insurance last year, up from 10.7 percent in 2003. It is a lower percentage than for the country as a whole, where 15.7 percent of Americans did not have health insurance last year. But the national percentage has remained steady the last two years.From 2001 to 2004, according to the Census Bureau, the number of uninsured Massachusetts residents soared 44 percent; the biggest jump came in 2002, when the increase was 24 percent.''Although Massachusetts has historically been a leader in protecting access to healthcare, the recent trend has been in the wrong direction. Without state action to address the problem, more and more people in Massachusetts may find themselves unable to secure health insurance for their families," Noah Berger, executive director of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, said in a statement. The nonprofit group analyzes the impact of state policies on the poor and middle-class.The Census Bureau found that for 2003-2004, the poverty rate in Massachusetts was 9.7 percent, almost unchanged from the 2002-2003 rate of 10.1 percent. In constant 2004 dollars, median household income in Massachusetts was $52,347 for the 2003-2004 period, nearly the same as for the 2002-2003 period, when it was $52,346.The national poverty rate was 12.7 percent in 2004, almost unchanged from the previous year's figure of 12.5.In Washington, analysts disagreed on what the Census Bureau figures show about the economy.Kathleen Cooper, a former Bush administration official who oversaw the Census Bureau until her recent retirement, said the overall results are encouraging.Speaking on a panel yesterday, Cooper said that the 2004 poverty rate ''is still lower than all but one year in the 1980s and 1990s."But others were troubled that Medicaid programs are covering more Americans because employers are providing less health insurance coverage.''The new data are particularly troubling for working people, showing backward movement for most workers," Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonprofit research organization in Washington, said in a telephone conference call yesterday with reporters. ''In short, the census data provide new evidence that, as in 2002 and 2003, the recovery was neither robust nor broad-based."
Legislature Enacts Nuciforo Bill Expanding Liquor Licenses in Pittsfield- August, 01 2005Measure Seen as Integral to Downtown Development The Massachusetts Legislature has enacted a bill authored by state Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. that would expand the number of liquor licenses in Pittsfield. "Downtown Pittsfield continues to improve. As more residents, visitors, and businesses explore opportunities in the downtown, the city needs the capacity to allow more licenses there," said Nuciforo (D-Pittsfield), specifically crediting Pittsfield Mayor James Ruberto's support of the bill as critical to its passage. "Mayor Ruberto has done an excellent job in working with the Berkshire legislative delegation to ensure the economic revitalization of Pittsfield. The Mayor recognizes the critical role that a vibrant downtown will have on the community as a whole." The legislation, which now goes to the Governor, would allow for additional liquor licenses to several restaurateurs in Pittsfield's downtown corridor. The bill has a range of support from local businesses, restaurants, and elected and appointed officials. Specifically, it grants five additional licenses for the sale of all alcoholic beverages and four additional licenses for the sale of wine and beer. "The passage of this legislation is another important element in the revitalization of the City of Pittsfield," said Ruberto (D-Pittsfield). "This will make downtown Pittsfield a more attractive destination, which is at the core our economic development effort. I want to congratulate the City Council, and Councilor Louis Costi in particular, for showing such leadership. The passage of this legislation is a testament to how well the Berkshire delegation works with local government to make good things happen." According to Nuciforo, the Commonwealth is making significant investments in downtown Pittsfield, from the Colonial Theater and streetscape improvements on North Street, to tax credits for the Pittsfield Cinema Center and State Police funding for public safety. "By granting these additional licenses, the Legislature is providing the City of Pittsfield with additional tools to continue the economic redevelopment of the City's downtown", said state Rep. Christopher Speranzo (D-Pittsfield). "This action allows the City to concentrate its growth in the downtown, while providing the Licensing Board the ability to reserve licenses for specific important projects, such as the cinema center and the Colonial Theatre." "This bill will clearly help revitalize downtown Pittsfield, and will keep the city moving in a forward direction," said state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli (D-Lenox), who represents a portion of Pittsfield. Nuciforo said that he has spoken with members of the Romney Administration, who indicated to him that the Governor recognizes the importance of the legislation to Pittsfield's economic growth. According to Pittsfield Ward 2 Councilor Louis Costi, "This is an important step toward revitalizing the downtown." Costi led the effort on the City Council to support the legislation. The Governor has 10 days to act on the legislation.
Applaud Nuciforo for stance on gas taxLetters Tuesday, September 20To the Editor of THE EAGLE:-I'd like to applaud Sen. Nuciforo's stance of clearly opposing the temporary elimination of the state gas tax. I think some of the other politicians mentioned in The Eagle's article should take a look around the state to determine how much "relief" their constituents really need. I see people driving a few hundred yards to get to a church I live near.I see people driving to get to the bike path because road conditions are too hostile in and around Pittsfield. I see people making special trips just to pick up a coffee or a doughnut. People floor the gas pedal to the next traffic signal or down residential streets. Some are driving on clearly deflated tires. Harley riders goose the throttle as they pass me on my bike just to announce their presence, I guess. People mow tiny lawns with huge lawnmowers. Some keep huge lawns mowed to perfection. People still tow huge motor boats to small lakes or ATVs to serene forests.I'll bet even if gas prices hit $4 and beyond, we'll still use leaf blowers this fall instead of raking. We'll snow-blow or plow 2 inches of snow instead of shovel it. We'll warm up our cars for 10 minutes before going anywhere.Politicians, from councilors up to the governor, should base their positions on what their constituents do and not what they say. The working people of this state aren't really suffering because of high gas prices. They're suffering because they choose to suffer. Now is the perfect time to popularize renewable energy sources and efficient forms of transportation even if we still act like we really don't want it. Thank you, Sen. Nuciforo, for having this foresight.JEFF LACATELLPittsfield, Sept. 5, 2005
Taking advantage of nation's tragedyLetters Friday, September 09, 2005To the Editor of THE EAGLE:-In the wake of possibly the worst natural disaster to hit American soil, I'm surrounded by people in my own community interested in profiting from people's suffering. In the past week, I have visited several gas stations and asked for an explanation for the continuing spike in gas prices. It is simply not possible that oil has been purchased by every one of these places within the past five days, which would justify the present cost of gasoline.But it is very possible to believe that the hourly increase in price per gallon in Pittsfield is the result of dishonest people taking advantage of a crisis to make a buck. I am a nurse at Berkshire Medical Center and have spent my career taking care of people in need, not taking advantage of people in need. I have yet to receive a return phone call from our mayor or Sen. Nuciforo about any possible action that could/should be taken to attempt to stop this price gouging. I have, however, been led to believe that things will only get worse.When/if this country's oil situation begins to improve, I can't help but wonder, will we see as steady a decrease in gas prices? It is apparent that our basic need for transportation has given the local gas stations an opportunity to profit dishonestly. It's unfortunate that these people involved in price gouging have such a lack of compassion and concern for our country's current condition. I may have been given no choice but to pay your "chosen" gas prices but at the end of the day you must find a way to live with yourselves. I'd rather be me.BONNIE EICHORNPittsfield, Sept. 3, 2005
Bish family backs memorable platesBy Annie Sherman, Transcript Statehouse Bureau Friday, September 23, 2005BOSTON — Spurred by memories of their murdered daughter, Magi and John Bish stood at the Statehouse Thursday with dozens of lawmakers, police and friends to appeal for a law in Molly's name that they say would make it easier for citizens to identify cars used in crimes."We gave birth to Molly, but you have given her a future that we couldn't give her," said Magi Bish. "This is an easy identification and it makes sense."Molly's Law launches a new concept for license plates in the commonwealth. A new design would replace the current six-digit format with just three letters and an easily-recognizable symbol, plus glow-in-the-dark photoluminescence that would make the plates stand out at night and in bad weather.If approved, the plate would be phased in over five years, becoming standard issue for new registrations. The law would exempt cars with vanity and specialty plates, such as those honoring veterans, Massachusetts sports teams or Cape Cod plates.Symbols for the new plates include stars and shapes that the state would select, plus optional specialty shapes, such as a baseball or a boat, which would be an additional cost to the motorist.The money raised from the sale of those specialty plates would be deposited into the new License Plate Symbol Revenue Fund, which would help pay for the new program and support local charities.Bish said that if she had remembered the license plate of the white car that was sitting in the parking lot the day she dropped Molly off at her lifeguard job in June 2000, her daughter might still be alive."I didn't get the license plate number that day, and I search for white cars now," she said.Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Wilmington, the bill's sponsor, said the new design makes license plates more readable, more understandable, and more effective."This is an innovative effort to improve safety," he said.Gary Richard, president and CEO of Sun-Up Productions, the Danvers company that is creating the design for the plates, said the law makes sense."The bad guys, they don't take the bus. They take vehicles," said Richard. "This will be a deterrent to those people."Tarr plans to file Molly's Law in the next few days. If approved, the law would require the Registry of Motor Vehicles to complete a feasibility study on the proposed system and initiate the process of designing the new plates in 90 days.Amie O'Hearn, director of public relations for the RMV, said the RMV will review the bill with the registrar and general counsel.
Legislators square off on expanding gamblingBy Rebecca DeusserN.A. Transcript Statehouse BureauWednesday, September 28, 2005Nuciforo against expansionState Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., D-Pittsfield, said he does not support the expansion of gambling in Massachusetts. "I continue to believe ... that the expansion of gaming would have a detrimental effect on Massachusetts communities, and not generate nearly as much revenue as the promoters say," Nuciforo said.He noted that voters in Berkshire County voted down two referendums related to expanding gaming in that region roughly four years ago.
THE BERKSHIRE EAGLERomney pitches universal health careBy Rebecca Deusser, Eagle Boston Bureau Friday, September 30, 2005BOSTON — Local legislators seem ready to support at least part of Gov. Mitt Romney's plan to revamp healthcare, as the House and the Senate prepare to take up the matter this fall."(Something) is about to happen here, and chances like this happen once in a political career or a generation," Romney told legislators during a hearing yesterday for the Committee on Healthcare Financing and the Committee on Financial Services.The governor testified in favor of his universal healthcare plan.Romney's proposal hinges on one important thing — getting the estimated half million state residents without health insurance to participate.The proposal calls for mandatory health insurance for all state residents, much like auto insurance, either through a private health plan, a proposed subsidized health plan costing roughly $2 a week, or MassHealth.The governor said that moving uninsured people, who now use the state's uncompensated care pool for emergency treatment, over to some form of health coverage will save "hundreds of millions of dollars." Romney said he would spend what it takes to make the new system work, including a provision for a $250 transitional assistance fund to help those "who fall through the cracks." State Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. , D-Pittsfield, chairman of the Financial Services committee, said that he supports the governor's proposal to make health insurance mandatory, which would allow most people to have a doctor."I think those are very promising ideas," Nuciforo said.Nuciforo said that some ideas in the plan, such as the new affordable health care plan, still need to be developed, but he believes the Legislature will pass a bill before it adjourns for the year in November.There are three healthcare reform plans on the table right now, including Romney's proposal, a Senate bill and a bill filed by advocacy group Health Care For All.House leaders are expected to release their own plan early next month.State Rep. Bob Hargraves, R-Groton, also believes "something is going to fly" this fall."The staff from the House and the governor's people have been working together," Hargraves said. "What kind of a marriage will come out of it, I can't tell you right now. . . . We are going to come out with a product that is the best we can put together for what we can afford." Hargraves is a member of the Health Care Financing Committee.State Sen. Susan Tucker, D-Andover, said she would not throw her support behind any plan until she sees a thorough financial analysis."The bottom line is that we are going to have to work the numbers," she said.
--2005--Welcome to My Online OfficeSenate President Robert E. Travaglini recently appointed me to serve as chairman of the newly-formed Committee on Financial Services. The committee will have jurisdiction relating to banks, credit unions, insurance companies, insurance agents, state securities laws, and a variety of other matters. This assignment, in addition to my membership on the Elder Affairs, Higher Education, Consumer Protection, and Election Laws Committees gives me an extraordinary opportunity to serve the citizens of the Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin District. The Financial Services committee will consider changes to Massachusetts laws relating to automobile insurance, homeowners insurance, mortgage lending, and other matters that have a direct impact on consumers across the Commonwealth. I encourage you to visit Nuciforo.com often, as the site will be updated regularly to keep you informed about legislative activities, and upcoming events in western Massachusetts and the State House. Thank you for the privilege of representing you in the Massachusetts Senate. As always, please feel free to contact me should you need my help. Sincerely, Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. State Senator
Senate approves slot machine billBy Erik Arvidson, (North Adams) Transcript Statehouse Bureau Friday, October 7, 2005BOSTON — State senators Thursday approved a plan to install 2,000 slot machines at each of the four racetracks in Massachusetts, while gambling foes predicted a tougher fight in the House.Hoping the slot machines would keep the struggling racetracks in business and provide more revenue for cities and towns, Senators approved the legislation by a vote of 26 to 9.The measure also extends through 2007 the law allowing the racetracks to simultaneously broadcast races from other tracks, as long as they maintain some live racing.There are about 2,000 people employed at the Suffolk Downs and Plainridge horse racing tracks, and Raynham-Taunton and Wonderland greyhound tracks.At least two of those facilities are considered to be in danger of going out of business because of a decline in lucrative live racing, and in recent years they have depended on revenue from simulcasting to stay open. Proponents expect that the slot machines would raise about $300 million to $400 million in revenue each year.State Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., D-Pittsfield, voted in favor of the measure, even though he has historically been opposed to expanded gaming."I am generally very uncomfortable with the idea of doing full-blown casinos or expanding gambling in any way, but this bill is limited in scope," Nuciforo said.He added that the state is facing "extraordinary revenue demands over the next several years," including the possibility of an omnibus bill to expand health care, which is being reviewed by the committee he chairs.Nuciforo said that Massachusetts is in danger of losing $400 million in federal Medicaid funds if it does not change how it pays for some Medicaid programs."We have extraordinary revenue needs. I thought it was appropriate to support a limited expansion of gaming at the four licensed Greater Boston tracks, which have all had gaming for a very long time," Nuciforo said.In November of 2003, Nuciforo said during a similar debate on slot machines that such proposals were "generally destructive to our communities" and "I don't think it would enhance the aesthetics of our communities by introducing slot machines."There are roughly 100 farms in Massachusetts which do training of thoroughbreds, and about 15,000 acres of farmland and open space used by the horse racing industry.Opponents, including state Sen. Susan C. Tucker, D-Andover, said it was disingenuous to describe the bill as promoting economic development, and that it was a tax on the poor."There is a difference between slot parlors and resorts," Tucker said during the debate. "Your constituents will continue to get on that bus and go down to Foxwoods for that type of gambling experience."She continued, "Who's going to be gambling at the convenient slot parlors that we're putting all over the Boston area? Those are people who can stop by on the way home from work, who can visit at the drop of a hat, without any prior planning, and that is where a great number of our addiction problems come in."Gov. Mitt Romney has said he is skeptical of any expansion of gambling now that the state's economic picture is better and revenues are increasing. It's unclear whether the vote in the Senate is sufficient to override a gubernatorial veto, since newly-elected Sen. Patricia Jehlen, D-Somerville, a gambling opponent, has not been sworn in yet.The prospects for the bill in the House are also uncertain. House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, D-Boston, is believed to be more open to gambling than his predecessor, but he placed state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley, D-North Adams, a gambling opponent, in the chairmanship of the committee which reviews gambling.Erik Arvidson's email address is email@example.com.
House needs to stall slot machinesTHE BERKSHIRE EAGLE's Editorial Monday, October 10, 2005...Pittsfield Senator Andrea Nuciforo, who voted for the slots, was among 13 senators who have received more than $1,000 from lobbyists whose clients include gambling interests. Twelve of the 13 who received that level of funding voted yes on slot machines. We assume the contributions did not affect the judgment of the senators, and that their support was strictly tied to a misguided attempt to boost the economy, which is the argument made by gambling advocates. ...
11/18/2005 Sen. wants Hill 78 cleared Nuciforo troubled by PCB dump By Jack Dew, Berkshire Eagle StaffyBerkshire Eagle Friday, November 18, 2005PITTSFIELD — State Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. yesterday called for the removal of a toxic landfill that sits next to a city elementary school. He is the first elected official to seek the elimination of the controversial site.Nuciforo said state and federal regulators should work with General Electric to remove the dump known as Hill 78, where PCB-tainted soil and debris from the dredged Housatonic River and the polluted GE plant are being consolidated.The 5.6-acre landfill sits about 50 feet from Allendale Elementary School and has been met with growing concern from the school community and nearby residents."I don't think it will be easy, and I'm sure that GE will resist," said Nuciforo, D-Pittsfield, in a telephone interview. "But shame on us if we don't take aggressive steps to remove a toxic mess that sits in a 38-foot mound, 50 feet from an elementary school. I think it is incumbent on us as elected officials and public officials to urge GE to do the right thing."Removing the dump, however, could mean reopening the hard-fought settlement that requires GE and EPA to share the costs of cleaning up contamination from Pittsfield and the river. The agreement was finalized in October 2000 as a consent decree, and the government has estimated the cleanup it outlines could cost as much as $700 million.Dump part of negotiationsHill 78 was included in the consent decree despite a protest from the Pittsfield City Council during the 1998 negotiations. When the final draft emerged with the dump still intact, the City Council and former Mayor Gerald S. Doyle Jr. approved it nonetheless.According to state and federal records, GE had long used the spot as a dumping ground for waste from its transformer plant, including large metal drums of Pyranol, an oil that contains 60 percent PCBs. The consent decree allows that waste to remain and entitles GE to dump soil and other debris — but no liquids — that have PCB content of up to 50 parts per million. By comparison, the federal standard for a residential property is 2 parts per million.While Hill 78 will eventually be capped, there is no liner underneath it to keep the pollution from seeping to the groundwater and migrating out of the dump. The EPA has said the air and water around it are carefully monitored, and that so far no pollution has moved off site.Nuciforo said monitoring is not good enough."Materials that end up in landfills like Hill 78 tend to move over time. We may not see any migration of this material this year, and we won't see any next year, but there is a strong likelihood that there will be some movement of this material over time. And that should concern everyone."GE doesn't support removalGE spokesman Peter O'Toole said GE would "absolutely not" support reopening the consent decree to remove Hill 78."There is just no evidence that the landfill is a threat to the school. All the study data is showing that there isn't a problem," O'Toole said.David Deegan, an EPA spokesman, said the agency has not received any communication from Nuciforo but indicated it supports the consent decree as written: "Hill 78 was obviously addressed in the consent decree, which had a wide-ranging support at the time, and it is all designed to ensure protecting the health of the community. Beyond that, I don't think we will want to weigh in until we actually see what the senator is requesting."Parents and teachers at Allendale have been calling on state or federal authorities to test the inside of the school for PCBs to determine whether the children are at risk.Authorities had refused until this week, when the Department of Environmental Protection announced that the Department of Public Health would conduct the tests.The DPH, however, has said it will first do an assessment and may or may not test for PCBs inside the school. Nuciforo yesterday sent a letter to the commissioners of both agencies, asking for thorough PCB tests to be done in the school and its school yard. The two agencies are essentially equals, both answering to the governor."We have to begin with proper information. DPH needs to do a test," Nuciforo said.Yesterday, a member of the Pittsfield Board of Health, Bobbi Orsi, said the DPH promised her it would test the school for PCBs. A call to DPH seeking confirmation was not returned in time for this report.-----Jack Dew can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (413) 496-6241.
Hefty raise for sheriffs OK'd by state senatorsBy Rebecca Fater, [The North Adams] Transcript Statehouse Bureau Saturday, November 19, 2005BOSTON — Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen Massimiano Jr. could see his salary jump by $21,710, thanks to an across-the-board pay hike approved by state senators.The raise would put all the state's sheriffs on an equal salary footing of $123,209 a year. They currently earn from $84,583 to $107,138, based on a formula calculated on the size of their county.Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., D-Pittsfield, who voted in favor of the raise, said he did not think the average salaries were out of line compared to other states."The sheriffs work hard and have done a great job, particularly in Berkshire County," Nuciforo said.For Massimiano, who currently receives a salary of $101,499, the legislation means a 21 percent pay raise.He is one of the state's longest-serving sheriffs, having first been elected in 1978. Massimiano was not available to comment Thursday...."Sometimes public officials do deserve more money, but the case has to be made and it has to be... tied to real need and not look like it's being done behind closed doors," said Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause.Sheriffs in Massachusetts have vastly different responsibilities than their counterparts in other states. In Florida, for example, law enforcement is handled primarily by the county sheriff. In Massachusetts, a town or city's police department oversees law enforcement, while sheriffs oversee the county's prisons and jails....District attorneys currently are paid $117,500 annually.
THE BERKSHIRE EAGLEGet the facts about Hill 78Editorial Saturday, November 19, 2005When government officials start doing their bureaucratic tap dance, as has been the case this past week concerning Hill 78 in Pittsfield, people become nervous, and with reason. However, it is a huge leap from prodding agencies to test for PCBs at Allendale Elementary School to re-opening the consent decree, which state Senator Andrea Nuciforo Jr. has in essence proposed by urging for the elimination of the waste disposal site. That would entail heading down a long road with no guarantee of a happy return.Earlier this week Elaine Krueger, executive director of the state Department of Public Health, said there was a "good likelihood" the Allendale school would be tested for PCB contamination, but no assurances until initial tests of air quality, ventilation and heating systems came back. The agency has since altered its position, perhaps motivated by the scrutiny of recent news coverage, and in a letter to the Department of Environmental Protection has said it will test for PCBs following the initial findings. The Allendale school sits near the toxic landfill, Hill 78, and the facts on whether or not it is contaminated must come out.Hill 78 is the ugliest part of the compromise that General Electric, the city and a variety of agencies signed in October 2000. The hill was already the most contaminated site in the city, and the consent decree allowed GE to use it to dump the rest of the contaminated soil it removed from other city environs. It comes as no surprise to the signers of the agreement, or anyone who paid attention at the time, that the toxic hill would grow 50 feet from the Allendale school, but the reality of the PCB mound is more alarming than it was on paper. Of course, with the ugly rise of Hill 78 came a far cleaner Housatonic River and city and a $10 million dollar GE Fund. Without the agreement the city would still have a contaminated site at Hill 78, pockets of contamination throughout the city, and an unusable GE site instead of a business park.The parents of Allendale students deserve to know if their children are being exposed to dangerous levels of PCBs. If GE is right and the site poses no threat to the school we will know sooner rather than later. GE also says it will not reopen the consent decree. Those two statements could end up in conflict but they aren't now, which means that Senator Nuciforo has jumped the gun.The senator boasts excellent environmental credentials, and was in fact just named legislator of the year by the Environmental League of Massachusetts. However, he took the debate on Hill 78 to an ill-advised point by calling for the removal of the hill. He said we have to begin with proper information, so let's wait for the tests before calling for a drastic move that could mire Pittsfield in a long, costly legal fight and prompt GE to abandon its obligations under the consent decree with the argument that other parties are trying to do the same.With the DPH showing signs of acting, firm data on Hill 78 and its threat, if any, to the surrounding area, will be coming. The city and state and federal agencies can decide then what course of action to take, but they should take care to avoid dead ends.
Nuciforo's divestment plan debated By Erik Arvidson, Statehouse BureauBerkshire Eagle Sunday, November 20, 2005BOSTON — A state official has criticized a proposal to divest all of the state's pension assets in companies with business ties to the corrupt government of Sudan, saying it could hurt investment returns.Lawmakers have proposed legislation that would prohibit the assets or pension annuities from the state employee retirement system from being invested in companies with any connection with the regime in Sudan.But Michael Travaglini, executive director of the state Pension Reserve Investment Management board, told a legislative committee this week that doing so could hurt profits in the $37 billion pension system."We don't condone what's going on in Sudan, but where do you draw the line?" Travaglini said in an interview. "If it's Sudan today, then it's Country B tomorrow. The exception swallows the rule at some point." The conflict, in the Darfur region of the East African nation, is between Arab militias recruited by the government and black African residents. The United Nations World Health Organization estimates that between 6,000 and 10,000 people are dying per month.Nuciforo is chief supporterState Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., D-Pittsfield, the bill's chief Senate sponsor, said the state has a moral obligation to send the Sudanese government and companies with ties to it a message by withdrawing its assets.However, Travaglini said that the PRIM board's goal is "to make money for our investors," and it does not analyze the humanitarian records of companies it invests in.One of the companies in which PRIM has invested the state's pension assets is Petrochina Co., the sixth-largest oil producer in the world in market value, which has an oil exploration contract with Sudan.Critics say the Sudanese regime is able to stay in place because of oil profits."Petrochina is an enormous oil company. They didn't get into the business to support the government in Sudan," Travaglini said. "They sell oil for money. Sudan happens to be a country where they sell oil. The oil they sell to Sudan is a pimple in the amount of profits they make." Travaglini added, "It's not bullets or munitions Petrochina is selling in Sudan. It's a utility. I don't know that they would stop selling oil in Sudan if we divested our pension assets in them." But Nuciforo believes that opponents are missing the point, and that there are "thousands of highly profitable, publicly-traded companies" — that don't do business in Sudan — which the state could invest its pension money in."This bill is not requiring that PRIM divest itself of all of its stock in companies that do business with oppressive regimes around the globe," Nuciforo said. "Sudan has a long and unfortunate history of human rights abuses, and by implementing these changes, we can help to bring about change in those practices."
Dear Berkshire Bloggers:If one goes to the following web page: http://www.lawyers.com/berdow/jsp2196567.jsp ……Then one will see that Nuciforo is a Corporate Attorney for a private Boston Law Firm representing Insurance companies.Then if one goes to the following web page (Excerpt of news article below):http://www.boston.com/business/globe/articles/2005/12/16/average_cut_of_95_okd_in_auto_rates/?page=2 ……Then one would see that Nuciforo is a State Senator who is against a big rate cut for Insurance companies. Moreover, he is against opening up the Insurance market up to a free market.One would reasonably conclude that Nuciforo is making money, both as a private Corporate Attorney representing financial companies and as a politician filling his campaign coffers with contributions from these financial companies, by pursuing his own interests instead of serving the interest of the people.Please vote State Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. out of political office in the year 2006! End the politics of Special Interests now!Sincerely,Jonathan A. Melle-----THE BOSTON GLOBEAverage cut of $95 OK'd in auto rates8.7% drop called biggest in over 25 yearsBy Bruce Mohl, Globe Staff | December 16, 2005Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., cochairman of the Legislature's Financial Services Committee, which held hearings on Romney's bill last month, said the big rate cut announced yesterday takes some of the steam out of the push for wholesale changes in the system.''We're seeing some great progress in the marketplace right now, without any changes," in the law, Nuciforo said. The senator said he favored passing antifraud measures, revamping the way high-risk drivers are apportioned among companies, and reducing medical costs in the system. But he indicated he was not in favor of opening the market up to competition.
Article Last Updated: 1/21/2006 Insurers swell senator's war chest Nuciforo able to raise $137,000 in donations By Erik Arvidson, Eagle Boston BureauThe Berkshire Eagle Saturday, January 21, 2006BOSTON — Ka-ching! That sound might as well have accompanied the announcement in 2004 that state Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. would be Senate chairman of the influential Financial Services Committee. The five-term Pittsfield Democrat raked in a whopping $137,000 in political contributions in 2005, likely setting a record for a Berkshire legislator, and had $138,809 in his campaign account as of Jan. 1, enough to scare away most would-be Republican competitors. "In 2004, Gov. Mitt Romney targeted this Senate seat and a number of others," Nuciforo said yesterday. "We have worked since to make sure we were positioned financially for whatever race might occur in 2006." Legislators were required to file their campaign finance reports with the state yesterday. Nuciforo's report shows that he received more than 300 contributions from individuals or lobbyists representing a broad spectrum of the financial services industry, from mortgage bankers to major insurers to credit unions. His top donor was the Webster-based Commerce Insurance Co., the state's largest auto insurer, which had 18 executives or employees donate a total of $9,000. All of them donated the maximum $500 allowed to an individual under the state's campaign finance laws. Nuciforo's committee is considering several proposals to change the auto insurance industry in Massachusetts to make it more affordable for insurers to write policies. Commerce has lobbied the Legislature heavily to retain the current closely regulated system, opposing a plan by Romney to provide drivers with more choice and to introduce more competition. Employees of insurance giant Liberty Mutual of Boston, which is lobbying in favor of the Romney plan, gave the senator his second largest contribution, $6,800. Nuciforo sidestepped a question as to whether he could maintain a balanced view on the issue with so many special-interest contributors, insisting that his campaign "enjoys a very broad spectrum of contributors that cut across many professions." Besides auto insurance, Nuciforo's committee has been involved in helping to craft legislation to expand health insurance coverage to many of the state's estimated 500,000 uninsured. His committee also may consider changes to the state's Uniform Securities Act to prevent mutual-fund abuses. Nuciforo previously was chairman of the Banks and Banking Committee. When the House and Senate agreed to reorganize the Legislature's committee structure, he was placed in charge of the newly created Financial Services Committee, which brought other industries with deep pockets — including insurance and securities — under the scrutiny of his panel. Although his war chest is impressive for a Western Massachusetts legislator, it's not the most of anyone from a district west of Worcester. That billing belonged to state Sen. Stephen M. Brewer, D-Barre, who had $196,778 as of Jan. 1. Rep. Ronald Mariano, D-Quincy, the House chairman of the Financial Services Committee, had not filed his report yesterday afternoon, but had $172,576 in his campaign account at the end of 2004. Meanwhile, state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley, D-North Adams, reported that he had only $672 in his campaign account as of the beginning of 2006. He raised $42,105 last year and spent $42,062. State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, had $15,647 in his account, after raising $22,380 in 2005. State Rep. Christopher Speranzo, D-Pittsfield, had the lowest fundraising total in the Berkshire delegation last year, raising $6,185. He had $6,410 in his campaign fund. State Rep. Denis E. Guyer, D-Dalton, started 2005 with a balance of zero, but raised $9,319 and had $6,207 remaining in his account. -----» Top five donors These are the top five companies that had employees contributing to state Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr.'s campaign in 2005:1. Commerce Insurance Co. — $9,0002. Liberty Mutual — $6,8003. Nation One Mortgage — $5,3504. Arbella Insurance Group — $2,4005. Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas LLP — $1,775
Dear Berkshire Bloggers:State Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., D-Pittsfield, Mass., is a special interest politician serving the demands of the state's financial companies, especially big banks and insurance companies. Moreover, he also serves as a private Attorney for a private Boston Law Firm serving big banks and insurance companies while at the same time heading a Senate Finance Committee setting public policies for these same companies. The news article by The Berkshire Eagle (Sat., 1/21/06) further illustrates NUCIFORO's CORRUPTION in state politics. When are the people of Berkshire County going to gain the courage enough to stand up to this bought off piece of garbage and his ring of henchmen, most namely Berkshire Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr., N.A. Mayor John Barrett III, N.A. State Rep. Daniel Bosley, Dalton State Rep. Denis E. Guyer, Pittsfield Registrar of Deeds Mary O'Brien, and the rest of these groupthink and pathetic career politicians who are all doing the state Senator's dirty work in order to keep him in political office? VOTE OUT NUCIFORO IN 2006!Sincerely,Jonathan A. MelleP.S. Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr., John Barrett III, Dan Bosley, Denis Guyer, Mary O'Brien: You can all listen to this. I WILL ALWAYS SPEAK MY GOOD CONSCIENCE FOR AS LONG AS I LIVE. I am not afraid of you. I live in a free country. God Bless America!
January 23, 2006 VIA Email to: email@example.comMASSACHUSETTS INSURANCE FEDERATION, INC.Two Center Plaza, 8th Floor Boston, MA 02108 Re: My Open Letter to the Massachusetts Insurance Federation, Inc. Dear Massachusetts Insurance Federation, Inc.: I read the following news article: “Despite auto-rate cut, insurers offering deals:Safe-driver reductions drying up, but group discounts are plentiful” (The Boston Globe, January 18, 2006), and the following excerpt caught my attention. "Senator Andrea Nuciforo Jr., cochairman of the legislative committee considering changes in the state's auto insurance system, said the continuation of voluntary discounts is a good sign for drivers. "''It tells me that there continues to be competitive options for those consumers that want to shop around," he said. "Nuciforo, a Pittsfield Democrat, is not in favor of the sweeping changes sought by the Romney administration, but he does favor taking steps to cut costs for companies, reduce fraud, and change the way high-risk drivers are apportioned. "Nuciforo's reluctance to endorse competitive rate setting has made him the target of an ad campaign by the Massachusetts Insurance Federation, which consists of companies pushing for more control of the rate-setting process."In response to your ad campaign against Nuciforo, I urge you to go to the following web page entitled BERKSHIRE BLOG and you will find out just how CORRUPT State Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. really is! The following are just some of many issues where Nuciforo is a power hungry, vindictive and mean-spirited politician: (a) In the Spring of 1998, Nuciforo set up secret plans with the Pittsfield Police Department to try to have me arrested if I stopped by his Pittsfield District Office, (b) Nuciforo tried to ruin both my dad’s 31-year career as a probation officer and also his brief position as a County Commissioner, during the same time period as when he tried to put me in jail, in the same secretive manner, (c) Nuciforo mean-mugged me by getting in my face while two family members had to step in front of me to ward him off during the 1997 North Adams Fall Foliage Parade, (d) Nuciforo has given me many very mean looks for speaking out against his corruption as a State Senator, (e) Nuciforo has political henchmen who have either directly or indirectly harassed me for speaking out against his corruption as a State Senator, which include Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr., N.A. Mayor John Barrett III, North Adams state Representative Dan Bosley, Dalton State Representative Denis Guyer, and Pittsfield Registrar of Deeds Mary O’Brien. These Berkshire career politicians do Nuciforo’s dirty work in order to keep him in office, (f) Nuciforo serves as a private corporate Attorney for a private Boston Law Firm representing big financial companies, especially big banks and insurance companies, while at the same time he sets public policies for these companies as Senate Chairman of the Finance Committee regulating these corporate entities, (g) Nuciforo collected well over $100,000 in campaign contributions from these big insurance and other financial companies, (h) Nuciforo is poised to run for U.S. Congress very soon with all of his political corruption.I am very happy that you are taking a stand against Nuciforo. If I can be of any help to you in legally and legitimately ending Nuciforo’s political career, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Together, we can stop Nuciforo’s corruption in state politics!Sincerely,Jonathan A. Melle
Dear Berkshire Bloggers:Nuciforo is a CORRUPT Boston politician. Your (The Berkshire Eagle's) editorial today was truly reprehensible! Nuciforo raised all the campaign money you speak of by doing the special interest bidding of the state's large financial companies, especially the big banks and insurance companies. Moreover, Nuciforo works as a private corporate Attorney for a private Boston law firm representing these same companies that he sets public policy for as state Senate Chairman of the Financial Services Committee. If this is not corruption at the highest level of state government, then what is?Sincerely,Jonathan A. MelleSaying no to campaign contributions EditorialBerkshire Eagle Tuesday, January 24, 2006State Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. was playing within the rules in accumulating an impressive campaign war chest in 2005, but the rules need to be changed. As currently constituted, campaign finance regulations protect incumbents, invite abuse and increase the cynicism of an electorate that is convinced government is a cesspool of corruption whether that is true or not.Senator Nuciforo, who raised a substantial $137,000 in donations last year, was being somewhat disingenuous when he said money had to be raised because of Governor Romney's targeting of his seat and a number of others held by Democrats. The Pittsfield Democrat's seat was never in jeopardy in 2004 and the Republican Party actually lost seats in the Legislature. The big pot of money he says will help him take on a challenger this year is more likely to discourage anyone from mounting a challenge, depriving voters of a choice this November.It is no surprise that Mr. Nuciforo, the chairman of the Financial Services Committee, has received a number of healthy donations from prominent insurance companies seeking to fend off reform of the state's worst-in-the-nation car insurance system. Commerce Insurance, the state's largest insurer, was Mr. Nuciforo's largest donor, as 18 executives generously donated the maximum $500 each for a total of $9,000. Commerce has figured out how to work the broken system to its advantage and doesn't want to see reform legislation that will encourage the competitors who currently want no part of Massachusetts.Mr. Nuciforo may indeed be able to put those donations from Commerce, Liberty Mutual and others out of mind in considering auto insurance reform legislation, but if he contributes to the demise or watering down of reform, voters may assume he was influenced even if his opposition was based on sincere objections. In taking money from those seeking influence, especially money that in Mr. Nuciforo's case probably won't be needed, legislators are putting themselves in no-win situations before the voters.Efforts to introduce public financing were squashed several years ago, largely through the efforts of House Speaker Thomas Finneran, who is now back on Beacon Hill lobbying the same Democrats he helped cement into office. Public financing isn't going to happen, but Democratic legislative leaders should propose further limits on campaign contributions, or at least know enough to decline money from contributors who directly or indirectly have business before them. If they don't take some steps this year then they shouldn't be surprised when another Republican governor is elected in November to keep an eye on them.http://berkshireeagle.com/editorials/ci_3431504
Dear Berkshire Bloggers:Before I respond to the news article below, I would like to issue an apology to Pittsfield Mayor Jim Ruberto. I reacted far too angrily to his appointment of Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. to the city’s Licensing Board. While I dissent against this decision, I believe Ruberto is doing what is in the best interest of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.My response to the news article below may seem tangential, but to me it is not. In this news article, Nuciforo, once again, is acting to protect the rights of the people as captive consumers of financial companies hunger pangs for lucrative business deals and ever-higher profits. This disingenuousness, once again, by Nuciforo comes as a shock to me.From the Fall of 1997 through the Spring of 1998, Nuciforo harassed both my father, Bob Melle, then a Berkshire County Commissioner, and myself. Nuciforo’s harassment made no space for our legal protections. I promised my dad that I wont tell his story of Nuciforo’s harassment against him. For my father’s story is for him to tell. BUT, I will always speak my good conscience as long as I live, I will always tell my story of how Nuciforo harassed me.Nuciforo gave me a threatening and dirty look at the Summer of 1997 post-swearing-in reception of State Judge Francis X. Spina by Governor Cellucci in Pittsfield. During the North Adams Fall Foliage Parade in 1997, Nuciforo, with Sara Hathaway at his side, left his parade route to get into my face with aggression and threatening. It took two of my family members to ward him off of me. During the Spring of 1998, Nuciforo tried to get my dad fired from his 31-year position as a probation officer and his then elected position as a Berkshire County Commissioner. During this same time period, Nuciforo went to the Pittsfield Police Department to try to have me arrested by not only omitting his harassment of both my dad and I, but also by slandering my good name by telling the Pittsfield Police Department that I was threatening him. Nuciforo set up a secret plan with the Pittsfield Police Department to have me arrested if I stopped by his Pittsfield District Office where Sara Hathaway was working at the time. How does this all relate to the news article below? The answer is that Nuciforo is a hypocrite. If Nuciforo were so interested in protecting the legal rights of the people, he would not have tried to squash the same legal rights of both my dad and I. Moreover, what no news media entity will not yet report is that Nuciforo has and continues to serve as a private Corporate Attorney for big financial companies at a private Boston Law Firm. Nuciforo is making large sums of money, both privately and publicly, by the same insurance companies that he is both defending in private practice and regulating as a very powerful state government elected official. Indeed, Nuciforo is disingenuous, malicious, and, above all else, belongs in state prison for his illegal and immoral political corruption and harassment.In conclusion, I am not intimidated by state Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr., and the like. If Nuciforo, Massimiano, or any other political insider does anything further to harass me, I will publicly prosecute and sue them to the fullest extent of the law! This message is for Nuciforo, Massimiano, and the like: I AM AN AMERICAN CITIZEN with U.S. Constitutional Rights and Civil Liberties AND I WILL ALWAYS SPEAK MY GOOD CONSCIENCE FOR AS LONG AS I SHALL LIVE! Give me Liberty or Give me Death!Sincerely,Jonathan A. Melle[State] Sen[ator Nuciforo]. in midst of rates fightBy Jack Dew, Berkshire Eagle StaffThe Berkshire EagleThursday, February 02, 2006PITTSFIELD — State Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. has felt the wrath and the warmth of the insurance industry for several months. As chairman of the Financial Services Committee, Nuciforo, D-Pittsfield, has been heavily lobbied by companies that want the state to eliminate the price control system that limits auto insurance rates each year. A group of insurance companies and trade organizations have formed the Fairness for Good Drivers Coalition, which estimates it has spent $60,000 on newspaper, radio and television ads urging constituents to contact Nuciforo and pressure him for change. Meanwhile, the senator has received thousands in campaign contributions from companies on both sides of the issue.Insurance changes Nuciforo said yesterday that he expects his committee to release a proposal in March or April that would maintain the state's price controls on auto insurance, while tweaking the system with adjustments to fight fraud, reduce costs and change how high-risk drivers are insured. The plan will not be as dramatic an adjustment as Gov. Mitt Romney has sought, and will draw fire from those insurance companies that want the state to end its last-in-the-nation price control system. But it will likely please nonprofit consumer groups like MassPIRG and the Center for Insurance Research that want to see consumer protections preserved. "There are some national (insurance companies) that are never going to come to Massachusetts unless they can eliminate the consumer protections we have here," Nuciforo said in a telephone interview. "These companies want to do here in Massachusetts what they have done in other states, which is cherry-pick the business considered best and not write (policies) for anybody else. The bill that Romney has proposed would eliminate many of the protections that exist for consumers." The legislation Nuciforo is considering would reduce fraud by copying a model used in Lawrence, where police, prosecutors and the insurance industry cracked down after an elderly woman was killed in a staged car accident. That led to a $30 million reduction in auto insurance claims in just one year, Nuciforo said. "If we reduce auto insurance claims like that, premiums will go down," he said. To reduce costs, Nuciforo's proposal would take steps to rein in some expenses. Among the changes, it would set a fee structure for medical costs associated with car accidents, so chiropractors, physical therapists, acupuncturists and others would be offered flat rates for treatment, similar to how HMOs reimburse doctors. To change how high-risk drivers are handled, Nuciforo's proposal would adjust the risk pool that covers them.High-risks shuffled Under Massachusetts' system, insurers must provide coverage to everyone who wants it, but they can shuffle high-risk drivers like teenagers and senior citizens into a pool where insurers share the risks and costs associated with those few drivers. Some companies have been adept at gaming this system; though they may cover 10 percent of the state's drivers, they pay only 5 percent of the high-risk costs. Nuciforo wants to implement a system in which companies with 10 percent of the drivers would pay 10 percent of the high-risk costs. Romney and many insurance companies want more. They say the only real fix will be to eliminate price controls and have an open market that will attract additional insurance companies to the state. They reason that those companies would compete with each other and keep prices down. To ensure that consumers don't get gouged, the Romney administration has said it would place some restrictions on how quickly rates could rise, so any increases would be phased in over four or five years. "We have a market that is unhealthy because we have only 18 carriers," said Jim Harrington, executive director of the Massachusetts Insurance Federation and spokesman for the Fairness for Good Drivers Coalition. "What we are ultimately trying to do is attract more financial capacity to the marketplace in terms of more companies writing policies so that consumers have better choices, more choices. Most states have in excess of a 100 companies. Massachusetts has 18." Berkshire drivers subsidize Christopher Goetchus, spokesman for the state Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, said the current system forces drivers in Berkshire County to subsidize residents in higher-risk areas like Boston, Lawrence and Brockton because insurers can't raise rates in those more dangerous areas. Though statewide rates decreased 8 percent this year, he said Berkshire drivers should be paying even less. Goetchus said the state is facing a lack of capital in all parts of the insurance market — particularly property insurance — because companies aren't interested in doing business here, scared away by the commonwealth's auto insurance price controls. "We don't have the presence of large, national carriers because they don't like the system for state-set rates," Goetchus said. The result, he said, is that there are fewer companies providing polices in the coastal areas like Cape Cod, which could lead to disaster if a hurricane were to devastate the area. The insurance industry could stand to gain substantial profits from a revised system. Romney's reforms are similar to those made in New Jersey in 2001. According to the Auto Insurance Report, a trade magazine, auto insurance industry profits were $346 million in 2001 when the changes were made. They rose to $437 million in 2002, and to $741 million in 2003, an increase of 114 percent in three years. As of 2003, New Jersey had the highest auto insurance rates in the country, followed by New York, Washington, D.C., and then Massachusetts, in fourth. High accident rate The Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group, or MassPIRG, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, has testified against Romney and the insurance companies' plan, arguing it will lead to higher prices and fewer consumer protections. Deirdre Cummings, MassPIRG's consumer program director, said the argument that increased competition will reduce prices is a "red herring." The real reason for expensive premiums, she said, is that Massachusetts has by far the highest accident rate in the country, with 40 percent more accidents per year than the next highest state, Rhode Island. "Unless they address that, all they will do is shift costs, and to do that they are going to make the system far more discretionary and use factors unrelated to driving to figure out how much they want to charge you," Cummings said. Under the current system, companies can only base rates on someone's driving record, how many years a person has been driving, how many miles and where the person lives, along with some smaller factors like whether the car has airbags or an alarm. Consumer groups say insurers would add dozens of other factors to the rate formula if the protections are thrown out, including credit score, marital status and occupation. Stephen D'Amato, a consultant to the Center for Insurance Research, a nonprofit group in Cambridge, said the consequence of the Romney reforms would be to devalue good driving history by diluting the formula with so many unrelated factors. "The pretense that this has anything to do with fairness to good drivers is a complete ruse," D'Amato said. To reduce premiums, D'Amato believes the state should tackle the number of accidents in Massachusetts by fixing problem intersections, beefing up traffic enforcement and publicizing the fact that just a single speeding ticket can mean paying $1,000 more a year in insurance. While he agrees that the way high-risk drivers are dealt with is flawed, he said it can be easily fixed by switching to a risk program like Nuciforo's. "There are lots of ways to skin that cat. But they have been pretending the current system is broken, and they are right, one aspect is very broken, but it could be fixed," he said. "But the real reason for our high premiums is the high accident rate. But that, they are just ignoring."--The Berkshires footing the billAccording to the state Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, drivers in every Berkshire County town pay more for auto insurance and subsidize higher-risk drivers in other parts of the state. Amount of over-payment per year, community: $87.83 — Dalton, Florida, Hinsdale, North Adams, Otis, Stockbridge$85.48 — Becket$82.06 — Adams, Alford, Cheshire, Clarksburg, Cummington, Egremont, Great Barrington, Hancock, Lanesborough, Lee, Lenox, Monterey, Mount Washington, New Ashford, New Marlborough, Peru, Richmond, Sandisfield, Savoy, Sheffield, Tyringham, Washington, West Stockbridge, Williamstown, Windsor$69.53 — Pittsfield--Nuciforo's insurance goalsReduce Fraud. A program would target insurance fraud in the so-called seven cites, where there are the highest number of suspicious personal injury cases from car accidents. Set a medical fee schedule. The state would implement a schedule of fees that insurers would pay for treatment of people injured in car accidents. The fees would cover chiropractors, acupuncturists, physical therapists and others. Change how high-risk drivers are insured. The state would assign high-risk drivers to insurers based on how much business that insurer does in the state. A company with 10 percent of the auto insurance business in Massachusetts would thus be assigned 10 percent of the high-risk drivers.
THE BERKSHIRE EAGLENuciforo plan falls shortLetters Sunday, February 12, 2006To the Editor of THE EAGLE:-The time is ripe for the auto insurance system in the commonwealth to undergo a major overhaul. Chairman of the Senate Financial Services Committee Andrea Nuciforo Jr. of Pittsfield has taken the first steps towards accomplishing this. However, his proposals do not go far enough.Massachusetts has one of the worst auto insurance systems in the country. We need to put pressure on Sen. Nuciforo to go even further with his proposals. You can be sure he hears how the auto insurance companies feel about the matter on a daily basis. Please call or write to Sen. Nuciforo and let him know what you think. He can be reached at Andrea.Nuciforo@state.ma.us, district office Telephone: (413) 442-6810, or state office telephone: (617) 722-1625.I wrote a letter to him I saying his proposals don't go quite far enough. I understand the economic reasons for taking the insurance rates out of competition. However, this plan has failed. It has allowed a few auto insurance companies to become immensely wealthy and powerful in the state. In effect they now have a monopoly and no reasonable insurance company would enter the commonwealth to compete with them.I have had my license for roughly nine years now, have absolutely no infractions on my driving record and am still forced to pay well over $100 per month on auto insurance. In no other state would that happen. I also understand that the auto insurance companies comprise the senator's main campaign contributors. I do hope that he will not let this effect his decision-making process.The residents of Berkshire County are being squeezed to the breaking point this year. With auto insurance rates as high as ever and heating and energy bills that are absolutely through the roof I know of countless families that are no longer struggling, but simply can not make ends meet. I believe it is time that we get organized around these issues.JOSEPH DRURY JR.Pittsfield, Feb. 4, 2006
A tweaking won't be enough--A Berkshire Eagle Editorial--Saturday, February 04, 2006As chairman of the Senate Financial Services Committee, Pittsfield Democrat Andrea Nuciforo, Jr. finds himself in the middle of an auto insurance reform debate that has grown ugly in recent months. On the positive side for the senator, his campaign coffers are being filled by insurance companies who agree on little other than their distaste for one another. On the down side, whatever the senator's committee offers in coming months is going to gore someone's ox and generate spirited, money-fueled opposition.Mr. Nuciforo indicated in a story by Jack Dew Thursday that his committee will propose changes to the system without overhauling it, and the senator's goals are certainly admirable. But the senator appears content to fine-tune a program that should have a sledgehammer taken to it, and if his program is passed it is unlikely that Berkshire drivers will see significant declines in their auto insurance payments.If there is one thing the insurance companies that do business in the state agree on it's that fraud is a major problem, and the senator wants to attack it in ways to be specified in the legislation, which will emerge in March or April. In a similar vein, Mr. Nuciforo wants to see a medical fee schedule for insurers to discourage various specialists treating an accident victim from rolling up unnecessary expenses. He also wants high-risk drivers assigned in proportion to how much business an insurer does in the state. These are all good ideas, in particular the latter, as insurers with long experience in the state have proven to be resourceful in sticking high-risk drivers with competitors.But the basic problem with Massachusetts' auto insurance system is that it discourages competition, and Mr. Nuciforo's proposals don't address this failing, as does the plan offered by Governor Romney. Massachusetts is the only state in the union whose rates are set by an insurance commissioner, and no one has come up with an explanation as to why this has to be the case when 49 other states do otherwise. Massachusetts has the fourth highest auto insurance rate in the nation, in part because it has only 18 carriers, while most states have more than 100. Many large companies want nothing to do with the over-regulated state, nor do they want to compete with the few favored companies that know how to game the system. Who can blame them?The Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (Mass-PIRG) argues that the governor's plan will lead to higher prices, but tell that to drivers in Berkshire County, every single one of whom is overpaying to subsidize high-risk drivers elsewhere, according to the state Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. This system needs a steam-cleaning not a dusting.
Divest state funds to pressure SudanLetters Friday, February 24, 2006To the editor [of The North Adams Transcript]:The United States has already labeled the situation in Sudan as "genocide." Kofi Annan has called for the U.S. to take a more active stance.Currently, the commonwealth of Massachusetts has an endowment fund with $1.4 billion invested in companies that do business with the government of Sudan, which is funding the genocide. As Massachusetts citizens, we demand that bill No. 2166, introduced by state Sen. Andrea Nuciforo, be passed. Already, the legislatures of Illinois, New Jersey, and Oregon have divested their respective treasuries, as well as colleges and universities like Stanford, Harvard, Amherst, Dartmouth and Yale.We, the residents of Massachusetts, cannot continue to support this genocide; please write to your representative and let them know that bill No. 2166 must become law.Thus far, 400,000 people have already been killed, and 2.5 million people have been driven from their homes. Passing this bill will put huge financial pressure on the Sudanese government, since it has the highest foreign debt per capita in the world.As taxpayers, this is not what we want our money to support. It is our moral duty to pass bill No. 2166, so that we can help stop the genocide by putting pressure on the Sudanese government.Daniel McGeeneyAmherst CollegeAmherst, MassachusettsFeb. 20, 2006
Thursday, March 16, 2006, 5:30 PM Nuciforo Fundraiser The Nuciforo Committee and State Senate President Robert E. Travaglini sponsoring a fundraiser for State Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. Date: Thursday March 16th time: 5:30 - 7:30 pm where: West Street Grille 15 West St. Boston donation: $125 per person for more info or to RSVP contact Nuciforo Committee 413-997-4848Contact: joe engwerPhone: 413-997-4848Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgLocation: West Street Grille 15 West Street Boston, Massachusetts
Open meeting law poised for change By Rebecca Fater, [N.A] Transcript Statehouse BureauNorth Adams Transcript Wednesday, March 15, 2006BOSTON — After watching residents, businesses and government pass by into the computer age, the decades-old open meeting law could be on the brink of catching up.As the second annual Sunshine Week kicks off this week, a legislative committee is poised to release a bill to strengthen the open meeting law by updating its language to incorporate new technology and to introduce fines for violations, as well as a more efficient method of handling complaints.The bill is a redraft of several similar measures, including one filed in December 2004 by Rep. Arthur Broadhurst, D-Methuen, to impose fines on those who willfully violate the law."I felt there was a need to go beyond just the fines, and really craft something a little more comprehensive," said Rep. Antonio Cabral, D-New Bedford, House chairman of the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.His redraft contains Broadhurst's recommendation to attach fines to violations; boards and committees found to have willfully violated the law could be fined up to $1,000, while individual members could be fined up to $500.His redraft goes beyond the original, tacking state boards and committees onto the list of those eligible for fines.And the long turnaround time? Cabral wants to create a new office — the Office of Public Accountability — under the attorney general.That office would be maintained by seven people, appointed by the governor, the attorney general and the secretary of state, called the Open Meeting Law Board. The office would become a clearinghouse for complaints of violations, and the board would have 10 days to review each complaint and determine its validity.Genuine cases of violations would be sent on to the local district attorney, who would then be required to rule within 90 days.Cabral's proposal would also update the law's exemptions to consider technology including e-mail, Internet chat rooms and video conferencing."Right now, there are a lot of gray areas," Cabral said. The redraft also attempts to tighten one of the law's nine exemptions. The law currently allows a board or committee to meet in executive session to interview potential job candidates if the list of candidates is considered preliminary. The law does not define preliminary, or note how many "preliminary" cuts a board can make before the list of candidates is final.Cabral said he hopes the committee will release the bill next week with a favorable recommendation, making it available for the Legislature to take it up for a vote.The fines included in the bill have received mixed support."If you go through a stop sign, you have a fine," said Peter Caruso, an attorney who represents several Massachusetts newspapers. "If you violate the open meeting law, there is no fine. There is no punishment."The only penalty contained in the existing law is to force those found in violation to conduct the meeting all over again, in public view, he added.Rep. Daniel E. Bosley, D-North Adams, said he knows that officials working on the bill are trying to balance the ability to enter executive session with the right of constituents to know what is going on."I'd have to see the bill (before supporting it.) It's important to let people know what is going on, but at the same time executive sessions may be needed. Executive sessions should never be entered into in a cavalier fashion, but some times there are things people cannot and will not say unless they are in executive session," he said.Bosley also said he would like to see Cabral host a statewide listening tour, visiting communities to find out what local boards are up against."The smaller communities are struggling to fill seats, fines might have too big of a dampening effect," he said.Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, who served for 11 years as a selectman in Lenox, applauds the idea of holding communities as a whole accountable — but he will not support a bill that threatens fines for individual members."They're having great difficulty finding someone to volunteer on those committees," said the Democrat, citing vacancies on community boards. "Selectmen (in Lenox) get $3,000 a year. And now you're going to fine me $500 because (you) see me walking out of Town Hall with a couple of members? That's wrong."Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., D-Pittsfield, said he also does not support the bill as drafted."It is very difficult already to find people to serve on local boards and committees, whether elected or appointed," he said. "The fines strike me as unreasonable."He said fines of $500 to $1,000 would only create disincentives, further discouraging individuals from running for public office."We have an open meeting law, which has remedies in place for violations," Nuciforo said. "If we need to adjust those remedies, I am not opposed to entering into that conversation."Rep. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, said he also believes most officials have good intentions when it comes to following the law.New technology, however, does warrant a review of the law's language, he added."The challenge now is that many conversations that would happen at a meeting can now happen over e-mail," said Eldridge, who served as a member of his town's housing authority and planning board. "So I think the law would have to be updated for that."Rarely questionedIt appears the public rarely questions the actions of board and committee members regarding open meeting law. The Middlesex district attorney's office issued responses to only 29 complaints of open meeting violations in 2002, 14 in 2003 and 29 in 2004, the latest available data.Of those 72 total complaints, the district attorney ruled that board members had committed violations 18 times.Rep. Christopher Speranzo, D-Pittsfield, who has worked with the law both as a city solicitor for Pittsfield and an assistant attorney general, said a fine is unnecessary."The average person who volunteers their time, gives themselves to their community — when they unintentionally violate the law, to have those people be subject to the fine would discourage the participation of the kind of people you want participating," he said.
Nuciforo won't run for Senate Inevitable political scramble set in motion in Berkshires By Jack Dew and Eric Arvidson, Berkshire Eagle StaffThe Berkshire Eagle Saturday, March 18, 2006PITTSFIELD — State Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. will not seek re-election to the Senate in November and will instead run for registrar of the Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds.His decision was nothing short of an earthquake that shook Berkshire County's political world and sent its denizens scrambling to map the changing landscape.Nuciforo's departure will create a vacant Senate seat, sparking speculation over who will seek to represent the sprawling district that includes 48 towns and cities, including all of Berkshire County. Whoever runs to replace Nuciforo — be it a state representative or municipal office holder — could create yet another vacancy, potentially setting off a rapid reshuffling.As the news spread, rumors flew over who would run for Nuciforo's vacant seat, with the name of every member of the Berkshire delegation suggested as a possibility, along with dozens of selectmen and city councilors. As of last night, the only person to confirm his interest was former Pittsfield Mayor Gerald S. Doyle Jr., who said he will take out nomination papers for Senate on Monday.Throughout the day yesterday, politicians and observers mulled the possibilities and debated what Nuciforo's decision means about the five-term senator's future.The deeds office is a low-profile post that seldom comes to the voters' attention. But with a salary of almost $80,000 a year, it is an attractive and comfortable position that incumbents usually hold for decades. The Middle Berkshire registrar oversees a staff responsible for recording all property transfers in 12 communities, including Pittsfield, Lenox, Stockbridge and Dalton.In a telephone interview, Nuciforo confirmed that he will pursue the Registry of Deeds position but declined to discuss his motives, saying he would reserve those comments until he makes a formal announcement of his candidacy."The Registry of Deeds is a position of great opportunity for the people of Berkshire County, and a position with a lot of promise," Nuciforo said. "I am going to be making a formal announcement in the next couple of days."Registrar of Deeds Mary O'Brien said she will step down after serving nearly 30 years in the office. Her assistant, Sharon Henault, has already taken out nomination papers to succeed O'Brien, as has former Pittsfield Mayor Sara Hathaway, who worked as Nuciforo's chief of staff until she ran for mayor in 2001.Henault could not be reached for comment last night. Hathaway — who had decided to run for registrar just this week and picked up the nomination papers on Thursday — said Nuciforo's entrance into the race will force her to "mull her options.""I have been thinking about the Registry of Deeds for some time and talking about it with friends, but it's politics — things change, and you roll with it," Hathaway said.She said she was "quite surprised" when she heard Nuciforo's decision yesterday."I had had a couple or three conversations with him over the last three months, and there was never any hint that this was something that appealed to him," Hathaway said.Over the past 10 years, Nuciforo has risen to power in the Senate, assuming the chairmanship of the influential Financial Services Committee. There, he has been in the middle of a fight over auto insurance, drawing fire from companies that want the state to stop setting insurance rates but winning accolades from consumer protection groups.Financial Services also has brought Nuciforo a fundraising windfall, with insurance company employees contributing thousands to his campaign. As of Jan. 20, he had $137,000 in his war chest, which he will be able to spend in his campaign for Registry of Deeds.State Sen. Stanley C. Rosenberg, D-Amherst, has spent 16 years in the Senate and said the grind of constant travel to Boston and the strain of trying to balance time in the Statehouse with time in his massive home district may have worn on Nuciforo."It's a very, very challenging and grinding situation for people in Western Massachusetts. How Andy managed to get around and represent all those communities and be as active, visible and effective is a testament to his stamina," Rosenberg said.North Adams Mayor John Barrett III said the news was a "shocker.""The one who's going to lose the most in this is Pittsfield. (Nuciforo) has brought home a lot of bacon to Pittsfield in his tenure. He took very good care of their needs," Barrett said.Pittsfield Mayor James M. Ruberto agreed, saying Nuciforo's departure will be a blow to the city. Whoever replaces him "will move down the seniority ladder, which always creates an issue for Berkshire County. Senator Nuciforo has worked very closely with my administration in helping to advance Pittsfield, and I wish him nothing but the best."Nuciforo has long been considered one of the likely candidates to succeed U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, if Olver decides to leave Congress. Nuciforo's sudden decision to leave the Senate fueled speculation yesterday that he may have given up that ambition.Matt Barron, a Democratic activist from Chesterfield, suggested that Nuciforo, who is also a lawyer, may now have set his sites on the judge's bench. He called the Registry of Deeds position "a place to park yourself and wait for a Democrat to gain control of the judicial nominating machinery."With the state losing population, it is likely to lose a congressional seat in 2010, and many believe a large chunk of Olver's district will be merged with Springfield, giving U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, a nine-term incumbent and a former mayor of Springfield, a decided edge."The Registry of Deeds position has been perfect for Mary O'Brien because she can use it as an opportunity to be a party delegate," Barron said. "But if you want to go for higher office, it doesn't afford you the same kind of opportunity to have an impact on policy as the Senate would."
Saturday, March 18, 2006Dear Bloggers:I am gladdened by the recent news that Nuciforo is finally giving up his state Senate seat, but disappointed in that he is marrying himself into the Berkshire County incestuous political machine by running for the Pittsfield District Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds. I find this move by Nuciforo interesting for the following reasons:#1. Nuciforo is now going to be even a greater machine politician in Pittsfield and state politics than he already was. What possible good does this serve? The purpose of free government is to serve the people, not the incestuous Pittsfield area political machine. Now Nuciforo can join such local machine politicians as North Adams Mayor John Barrett III, Berkshire Sheriff Carmen Massimiano II, Mary O’Brien, and the like, as another career politician who can whimsically make or break careers in public service in the parochial Berkshire area. Nuciforo’s past machine politics had a great impact on my family and me personally. Nuciforo tried to get my father fired from his public position in the courts and also attempted to put me in jail during the same time period in the Spring of 1998. Nuciforo’s machine politics will serve his own power and not the greater good of the Pittsfield/North Adams area. As my brother told me about Pittsfield politics: SO WHAT? So Nuciforo controls Pittsfield. There is a much bigger world out there than little old Pittsfield/North Adams, Massachusetts.#2. Nuciforo abolished Berkshire County Government and now is going to try to join the state functioning Registry of Deeds. I find that very ironic. Maybe Nuciforo abolished county government to give himself a future high paying state job in Pittsfield. Hmmm. I would not put it past him.#3. If Nuciforo is nominated to be a Judge, I will legally and legitimately attempt to stop him through sworn testimony about how he threatened me several times, then tried to have me arrested by falsely telling the Pittsfield Police Department that I threatened him, which I did not; while at the same time period, he tried to have my dad fired from his state job with the courts. I will also testify against Nuciforo that while he was a state Senator, he corruptly served as a private Corporate Banking Attorney for a private Boston Law Firm while at the same time set financial policy for the state. Indeed, if Nuciforo is nominated to be a Judge in the future, I will be there to fully testify against him under oath!#4. If Nuciforo runs for Congress when Congressman John Olver steps down in the future, I will help his opposition by giving to them his terrible public record from voting against campaign finance reforms to voting for his own public pay raises during times of state cuts to municipalities and regional districts. Indeed, I will oppose Nuciforo’s possible future bid for U.S. Congress by working with his opposition for that powerful political office.In conclusion, I currently oppose Nuciforo’s candidacy for Registry of Deeds. I hope he is defeated for this office and his deficient political career will abruptly come to an end by the end of 2006!Sincerely,Jonathan A. Melle
Re: Alan Chartock’s infuriating review of Nuciforo & LarkinDear Berkshire Bloggers:Re: “I Publius: They could be contenders” (A political column by Alan Chartock, The Berkshire, Saturday, March 25, 2006): Alan Chartock is infuriating in his one-sided compliments on two of Pittsfield’s biggest power broker politicians: State Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo II and former-State Representative Peter J. Larkin. After taking the time to read Chartock’s weekly nonsense, I am thankful I no longer live in WAMC’s listening area and listen to his assaults on the Bush Administration while he speaks out of the other side of his mouth on state and local politics who are much worse the our 43rd U.S. President.While I am no fan of the Bush Administration’s unsettling public policy record, or of our current lackluster U.S. Congress, I believe fairness should be used when speaking out in dissent or concurrence of our entire system of American government. That is my contention with Alan Chartock, and I will upset him today with my by dissenting against his political BIASES. Alan Chartock is a politician in that the news media represents the Fourth Estate of our American Government. Alan Chartock is a politician because he is part of the press, which is the unofficial Fourth Branch of our American Government. He may be upset with me for what I have to write, but I can assure you all that my Freedom of Speech Rights are well protected here, despite what Chartock may say to the contrary!First, Chartock lauds Nuciforo. On what points? Let us list them: (1) Nuciforo represented a large and tough district, (2) Nuciforo had a long commute, (3) Nuciforo had a thankless job, (4) Nuciforo worked in the state Senate for 10 years, (5) Nuciforo will make a great Registrar of Deeds, (6) Nuciforo carried on the tradition of his late father, who was also a state Senator, (7) Nuciforo is a terrific lawyer, (8) Nuciforo will be a major player in the Berkshire legal community, (9) Nuciforo has a bright future in Berkshire County politics.Second, Chartock backs Larkin. On what points? Let us list them, too: (1) He has the connections, “residency” and experience to win the now open state Senate race, (2) He brought laptop computers and the like to the disadvantaged public school students of Pittsfield and North Adams, (3) He is passionate about constituent services, (4) He has “credible” service in the not-for-profit sector, (5) Larkin has the inside edge.Third, let us counter Chartock’s 9 bullet points on his praises for Nuciforo: (1) Nuciforo was a 100% “Boston Pol” from day one to year ten. Nuciforo’s votes almost always mirrored the demands of the corrupt state Senate leadership. My best example was the drastic cuts made to the large district’s communities. During 3-straight grueling years of state cuts to local governments, Nuciforo either voted for or supported 3 pay raises for himself and his fellow state Legislative leaders. I challenge Chartock to back up his claim that Nuciforo representing anything other than his chums in the State Legislature or the private interests of big banks and insurance companies. Just one example that I cannot refute is all I ask from Chartock. However, I have the strong belief that Chartock sold us the Brooklyn Bridge on Nuciforo’s public policy record; (2) Nuciforo openly admitted that he stays in Boston most of the time. He has stated that his sister is a doctor in Boston and he stays with her most nights. I challenge Chartock on the long commute theory, too; (3) Nuciforo’s job was very rewarding. He earned well over $70,000 per year, health benefits, and a pension plan. Moreover, Nuciforo unethically used his power to be a private corporate Attorney for a private Boston law firm representing big banks and insurance companies, while setting policies for these corporate entities as a state Senator; (4) Nuciforo’s 10 years in the state Senate included voting against campaign finance reforms, voting against an all-felon DNA database that now includes such crimes as drugging with the intent to rape and assault and battery on a child to inflict bodily injury. I challenge Chartock to defend Nuciforo’s voting record, especially in these two critical areas of reform and criminal justice!; (5) Nuciforo wants to be Registrar of Deeds so he can join such insidious inside machine politicians as Carmen Massimiano II, John Barrett III, and the like. I challenge Chartock to defend the insidious machine politics of Berkshire County. How is the political machine effectively serving the common citizen?; (6) Nuciforo’s father was a good man. That fact does not necessarily mean that Nuciforo is the same. In fact, and it is just my opinion based on personal experience, that Nuciforo is a very bad man. Nuciforo, during the Spring of 1998, tried to both get my father fired from his 31-year career position in the courts and me put in jail. Fortunately, Nuciforo did not succeed in either attempt to silence both my father and myself in our Constitutionally protected right to Freedom of Speech. I challenge Chartock to defend Nuciforo’s mean-spiritedness and malice towards my family and myself; (7) I would like Chartock to cite one example of how Nuciforo is a terrific lawyer. He is a politician who has corrupted the law in every way for his own personal gain. I call that a terrific fascist!; (8) I hope Chartock is wrong that Nuciforo will be a major player in the Berkshire County legal community. If Nuciforo is nominated to be a state Judge someday in the future, JONATHAN ALAN MELLE will be there to testify against Nuciforo under oath!; (9) I completely disagree with Chartock that Nuciforo has a bright future in Berkshire County politics! I hope Nuciforo loses this year’s election for Registrar of Deeds and stays out of politics forevermore. Fourth and finally, let us counter Chartock’s backing of Peter J. Larkin’s run for state Senate: (1) Larkin does not even live in Pittsfield, but with his M.D. wife in a $1/2-Million home in a Worcestor Suburb. Larkin is a businessman after big money. If Larkin is elected to the state Senate, not only would it be unconstitutional due to his non-residency, but also would be much more worse in the way of the politics of special interests than under the terrible reign of Nuciforo!; (2) While Larkin has brought technological educational programs to the disadvantaged public school districts of Pittsfield and North Adams, Larkin was the sole state Representative who blocked the only effective proposal to bail out the bankrupt municipal government of the City of Springfield. So while Larkin helped Pittsfield & North Adams, he fed Springfield to the Wolves!; (3) I hope Larkin and everyone else in politics is passionate about constituent services. That is what the government is here for, to serve the people. However, Larkin’s public policy record has been to serve special interests, not the common citizen; (4) Larkin’s post legislative work record has been one of very high paying jobs that personally profit and serve one person: Larkin; (5) Larkin has the inside edge because he is an insider. Berkshire County doesn’t need anymore insiders in state and local politics.In conclusion, I offer my 100% dissent against Alan Chartock’s points in praising Andrea F. Nuciforo II and Peter J. Larkin. Lastly, I offer no apologies for my dissent to Alan Chartcok!Sincerely.Jonathan A. Melle
Register race narrows to two By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire [The Berkshire] Eagle StaffBerkshire Eagle Wednesday, March 29, 2006PITTSFIELD — Sharon E. Henault yesterday withdrew as a candidate to succeed Berkshire Middle District Register of Deeds Mary K. O'Brien and said she will instead support State Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr.'s bid.The 38-year-old Henault's decision leaves Nuciforo and his former chief of staff, ex-Pittsfield Mayor Sara Hathaway, both Democrats, as the only two candidates who have so far taken out nomination papers to run for the six-year term as O'Brien's successor in the November elections."I love and enjoy my job," said Henault, who has been the first assistant register to O'Brien for almost four years. She began working at the registry of deeds 21 years ago as a junior clerk."I was running because I was concerned about what was going to happen to the office," she said. "When I took out my papers, I didn't know who was running or who was interested in the position."Henault was the first to take out nomination papers for the office, but after meeting with Nuciforo to discuss how the registry operates, and after talking over her decision with family, friends and supporters, Henault said she decided to withdraw from the race and back Nuciforo."I've always respected him and enjoyed talking to him," she said. "I felt confident that if he got into office that it would remain the same."Both Nuciforo and Hathaway could not be reached for comment last night.The register's position is a low-profile post but carries an annual salary of roughly $80,000 and is a position that incumbents can hold for decades. O'Brien was first elected in 1975, when she defeated three men in the Democratic primary and then out-polled the Republican candidate, the late Paul Abkowitz.Henault said the register performs more administrative duties than the first assistant does."I enjoy being an assistant because I like everything I do and because I'm very hands-on," Henault said. "I felt that if I was elected register it wouldn't be as hands-on. I hope he (Nuciforo) gets in so that I can remain in the position that I'm in."Henault said she will support Nuciforo's candidacy, but isn't sure how."I will do what I can, but as a state employee I have to be careful," Henault said.
Re: Nuciforo's DOMINATION!April 3, 2006 Dear Berkshire Bloggers:My dissent has never been stronger than after thinking about the following news article, “Registrer race narrows to two” (The Berkshire Eagle, 3/29/06): This is the exact example of SMALL town close-minded politics that makes Pittsfield so ruined and hopeless for fair-minded people with ideals. Moreover, Nuciforo’s coercive persuasion over the Pittsfield Middle District Registrar of Deeds race is yet another example of Nuciforo’s INTIMIDATION and controlling use of the insidious machine facetiously known to many intellectuals as “Pittsfield Politics.” The problem with Nuciforo’s heavy-handed move to gain the support of Sharon Henault and have her drop out of this current race for “elected” public office is that if Sharon Henault acted otherwise, Nuciforo would have with total banality ruined Henault’s career in public service by terminating her employment and blacklisting her from employment in the tight Pittsfield economy if she opposed him. WE LIVE IN A FREE COUNTRY for crying out loud! Nuciforo should not be able to get away with such top-down, insidious machine politics that smack of fascism. Is not there anyone out there who can hear me? Doesn’t anyone care? I will assist anyone who cares about our precious gift of American Democracy to legally and legitimately oppose the domination of Nuciforo’s PITTSFIELD POLITICS! Stop Nuciforo NOW! Sincerely, Jonathan A. Melle
Join NUCIFORO's political machine on Monday, April Tenth, 2006, in Pittsfield (see below) and submit yourself to Berkshire County's insidious and Nazi-esque political machine. Submit to Nuciforo's insidious and fascist political machine and watch him further consolidate his power over Pittsfield Politics. Support Nuciforo's fascistic use of political power in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Supporters of Nuciforo's quest for total domination of Pittsfield Politics will be able to use his power over Berkshire County politics and blacklist anyone who dares to believe in American Democracy by speaking out against this monster. Those who don't support Nuciforo will be blacklisted and will never find a living wage job with benefits in Western Massachusetts, and especially Pittsfield. So please join Nuciforo and fall in line like a good little fascist supporter of the insidious Pittsfield Political Machine and its chief HENCHMAN! In Sarcasm and Truth,Jonathan A. Melle Berkshire Calendar of Democratic EventsMon., April 10, 2006, kickoff rally for Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. democratic candidate for register of deeds Berkshire middle district. 5:30 to 7:30 pm, american legion post 68, 41 Wendell Ave. Pittsfield. The event is free - pasta & meatball dinner & cash bar. For info contact 997-4848
Support Veterans Outreach centerLetters Sunday, April 09, 2006To the Editor of THE EAGLE:-After several unsuccessful attempts to contact state Sen. Nuciforo, local veterans are still trying to understand why the annual state-allotted funds were withheld from the Veterans Outreach Center on North Street in Pittsfield, which inevitably resulted in a recent "close down" due to their excessive debts.One rumor has it that the allotment was held back because of "double funding," supposedly meaning that additional funds were simultaneously being distributed to "another agency" for the purpose of providing the same services as the V.O.C. In reality, the fact remains that there is no other agency that is dedicated to serving our local veterans as significantly as the V.O.C. did.A few concerned volunteers have been grasping at straws, trying to come up with a few fundraising ideas in a feeble attempt to at least cover the outstanding debts, but these well-intentioned suggestions can't compare to the state-funding that had kept the V.O.C. in existence for the last 20 years. Other state-funded programs are not specifically geared to meet the needs of veterans. They simply provide temporary fixes to permanent problems, in addition to having extreme time limitations for how often a person can return for assistance; whereas, the V.O.C. was available for veterans on a daily basis.In a previous letter to the editor I implored the public for donations to help the V.O.C. , and the few monetary contributions that were sent by local businesses and concerned citizens were immensely appreciated. However, those few donations were only a drop in the bucket toward repaying some debts. Our military veterans, past and present, gave their 110 percent in support of our country.Don't cut corners on their benefits and services when they need continuous support in return. We urge Sen. Nuciforo to get the ball rolling and restore the annual funding for local services for our veterans. All other public donations are still being welcomed, accepted, and appreciated.DIANNE C. BRAZEEPittsfield, April 2, 2006
Mass. auto insurance rates include subsidies for someBy Rebecca Deusser, [The North Adams] Transcript Statehouse Bureau Saturday, April 8, 2006(In Part) ...Few disagree that a key reason why insurance rates are high in Massachusetts is because it fosters a culture of bad driving. "We have here bad weather, aggressive drivers, unfriendly attitudes, a high concentration of trial lawyers and chiropractors, congested streets and a propensity to sue," said state Sen. Andrea Nuciforo Jr., D-Pittsfield. "Given those things, we shouldn't expect to pay rates like those in Iowa."Massachusetts ranks No. 1 in property damage and No. 1 in bodily injury from car accidents nationwide.The Joint Committee on Financial Services, which is reviewing several bills related to auto insurance, is expected to release some type of reform bill in May, after budget debates.It appears House chairman state Rep. Ron Mariano, D-Quincy, and Senate chairman Nuciforo, are far from an agreement. Mariano strongly supports assigned risk, though he said he "hasn't made a decision yet," on how best to protect state drivers from unfair classifications.Mariano said he is unsure if fraud prevention programs in other cities will pan out like it did in Lawrence, while Nuciforo said a strong attack on fraud will help drive premiums down.The senator opposes the idea assigned risk in the state's car insurance market.
Nuciforo Pledges To Remain A Working SenatoriBerkshires.com, North AdamsBy Susan Bush - March 25, 2006[Nuciforo] vowed to fight aggressively for state health care reform. ...Employers and individuals have a stake in, and a responsibility to, health care, he said. ..."I hope that a bill includes that employers contribute in some way to the health care of employees," Nuciforo said. ...Steps should be in place requiring uninsured persons with financial capabilities to contribute to any care provided by hospitals. And employee access to employer-offered health care must be improved, he said. ..."In this state, we have some large companies, Wal-Mart included, that have created health care programs that are inaccessible to the employees," he said. "I am committed to changing that." $$$$-Seeking New Challenges-$$$$ Nuciforo reiterated the reasons that led to his decision to leave the senate post. "I have served in the state Senate for 10 years," Nuciforo said. "I have loved every minute of my service. But it's meant 10 years of driving up and down the turnpike, and it's time to move on to other things." Nuciforo has announced that he is seeking election in November as registrar of the Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds. He has termed the registrar's post a "great opportunity" and "a position with a lot of promise." District voters have returned Nuciforo to the state Senate five times. Nuciforo is currently the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Financial Services and the Vice-chair of the Elder Affairs Committee. He is a member of the Higher Education, Consumer Protection, and Election Laws committees.
Dear Berkshire Eagle, Et Al, & Berkshire Bloggers:Re: "Seat Belt Law Has A Price" (Berkshire Eagle Editorial, 5/22/06): The Berkshire Eagle states: "However, what has come to be known as the primary seat belt law permitting police officers to pull over drivers who aren't wearing their seat belts gives government, in the form of law enforcement agents, a considerable amount of discretion, which invites abuse. State Senator Andrea Nuciforo of Pittsfield, who voted against the bill last week, warned his colleagues about allowing government to `use its power to interfere in the lives of ordinary citizens,' a warning that is particularly timely given the eroding of civil liberties at the hands of the federal government."I have written to The Berkshire Eagle on many times about how Nuciforo has tried to take away my civil liberties! To retell the true story once again, in the Spring of 1998, state Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo II made secret plans with the Pittsfield Police Department to have me arrested if I stopped by his district office. Nuciforo did so without either the Pittsfield Police Department or himself informing myself and/or my family. Nuciforo illegally told the Pittsfield Police Department that I was threatening him, which was a lie. Moreover, Nuciforo failed to apprise the Pittsfield Police Department that he was the one who threatened me on two occassions prior to his false allegations to the Pittsfield Police Department; with a mean look and long stare in the Summer of 1997 at Judge Spina's promotion ceremony reception; and again in the Fall of 1997 at the North Adams Fall Foliage Parade when Nuciforo broke his parade route to get in my face to intimidate me with his then-Aide Sara Hathaway at his side. Nuciforo's real goal was to have had me put in the Berkshire County Jail whereby Sheriff Carmen Massimiano II would have seen to it that his Jailer staff would have tortured me! The City of Pittsfield & the Berkshire County Jail should thank their lucky stars that they did not go through with Nuciforo & Sheriff Massimiano's insidious plans to have me arrested, jailed & tortured. Furthermore, during the Spring of 1998, Nuciforo, again unsuccessfully, tried to get my father fired from his long-standing state job in the Courts through a Kafkaesque Ethics Commission Complaint in Boston. Nuciforo standing for civil liberties is a JOKE! If Nuciforo is nominated to be a Judge, I will testify against him under oath. If Nuciforo runs for U.S. Congress on a Civil Liberties platform, I will expose him for the machine politician and tyrant that he truly is. Nuciforo's true colors are NOT red, white & blue. Nuciforo is EVIL!Sincerely & In Truth,Jonathan A. Melle
Dear Berkshire Eagle,Nuciforo is bought and paid for on Beacon Hill. He serves as a private Corporate big Banking and Insurance Company lawyer for a private Boston Law Firm -- Berman & Dowell -- while at the same time Chairing the Massachusetts Senate Financial Services Committee that sets public policies for these wealthy financial institutions! Your editorial today couldn't have been better stated!Thank you for stating the following Editorial:The Berkshire Eagle - EditorialFriday, June 09, 2006Insurance reform stuck in neutralWith auto insurance reform legislation all but dead again on Beacon Hill, residents can at least look forward to a projected decline in insurance rates next year, following two years of lowered rates. But while Pittsfield Democrat Andrea Nuciforo, the Senate chairman of the Financial Services Committee, says this is an argument against reform, why not institute reform before the rates skyrocket again, as they inevitably will? A good House bill that anticipates this day by deregulating the market over a five-year period may not get through the House and is doomed in the Senate anyway. As long as Webster-based insurance giant Commerce is happy and many national insurers avoid Massachusetts as if it is radioactive, the state's broken auto insurance system will be poised to bite consumers.Sincerely,Jonathan A. Melle
Dear Boston Globe:Your newspaper's citation of State Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo's strong opposition to the Auto Insurance Reform Bill for Massachusetts skips some very important points:-----Nuciforo is a private Corporate Attorney for a private Boston Law Firm representing Insurance companies.-AND-Nuciforo received more than 300 contributions from individuals or lobbyists representing a broad spectrum of the financial services industry, from mortgage bankers to major insurers to credit unions. His top donor was the Webster-based Commerce Insurance Co., the state's largest auto insurer, which had 18 executives or employees donate a total of $9,000. All of them donated the maximum $500 allowed to an individual under the state's campaign finance laws. Nuciforo's committee is considering several proposals to change the auto insurance industry in Massachusetts to make it more affordable for insurers to write policies. Commerce has lobbied the Legislature heavily to retain the current closely regulated system, opposing a plan by Romney to provide drivers with more choice and to introduce more competition. -----Thank you, Boston Globe, for taking these important facts into consideration.Sincerely,Jonathan A. MelleDRIVE TIME | [The Boston] GLOBE EDITORIALInsure cars fairlyJune 12, 2006THE AUTO insurance bill offered up this week by House members from the Joint Financial Services Committee is not appreciably better than an earlier, ill-conceived version from Governor Mitt Romney, who thought little of burdening urban drivers with higher rates for a chance to woo national insurance carriers to Massachusetts. While such proposals might promote competition, they hardly qualify as serious reform of the state's auto insurance system.Clashes are underway between domestic insurance companies, like Commerce, that defend the current system of flattening rates for drivers in low-income neighborhoods and big-name insurers, like Geico, which eschew the state, in part, because the rules here don't allow them to reject clients or use company-controlled criteria to set premiums. The new bill, sponsored by Representative Ronald Mariano of Quincy, comes down squarely in the camp of the out-of-state titans. It would phase out state-set rates over five years and open the door for companies to use factors that have little to do with driving records, such as education, occupation, and homeownership status, when determining premiums.On the surface, it might seem unfair that roughly three-quarters of the state's drivers pay about $100 more each year for auto insurance so that mostly urban drivers, who live in areas with more accidents and theft, as well as young drivers, can pay about $400 less. But that system starts to look better when compared with states where premiums are driven up by the risk of getting into an accident with uninsured drivers who are priced out of the market. There is security in knowing that all drivers in Massachusetts are required to carry auto insurance and that premiums are determined by defensible criteria, such as driving records, experience, and geographic area. While in need of some reforms, auto insurance here is basically sound and looks even better in recent years as rates have fallen.Senate leaders are heeding warnings from the Center for Insurance Research in Cambridge, which predicts that passage of the House bill could push premiums 25 percent higher in many urban neighborhoods. Mariano scoffs at that estimate. But Senator Dianne Wilkerson of Boston calls his bill ``the most disastrous economic policy that I've seen in my time in the Senate." Senator Andrea Nuciforo of Pittsfield, co-chair of the Financial Services Committee, thinks the bill is so pernicious that he vows to ``drive a dogwood stake through the heart of the proposal."Thoughtful legislation aimed at preventing accidents and cracking down on the state's high rate of fraud would be the right place to start. That can't be accomplished with a House bill that antagonizes urban drivers and feeds feuds in the insurance industry.
Nuciforo: Insurance overhaul not needed By Erik Arvidson, [The North Adams]Transcript Statehouse BureauNorth Adams Transcript Wednesday, June 7, 2006BOSTON — A key state lawmaker said Tuesday that the state's current auto insurance system is working fine and he would fight against any attempts to introduce competition into the Massachusetts' market.State Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., D-Pittsfield, the Senate chairman of the Financial Services Committee, said while it's possible to wring more savings and crack down on fraud, any attempt to make sweeping changes to the auto insurance market would be a mistake."Auto insurance rates went down 8.7 percent this year. They declined 2 percent in 2005. Next year, they'll go down again. Given that trend, it's hard for me to see why we should change the system now," Nuciforo said.On Monday, Nuciforo's House counterpart on the Financial Services Committee, Rep. Ronald Mariano of Quincy, proposed a sweeping overhaul that would phase in a deregulation of the current auto insurance market over five years.For the first five years, changes in auto insurance premiums would be limited to a range of between 5 percent and 10 percent of a baseline set by the Division of Insurance the first year. After the fifth year, rates would be unregulated by the state.Mariano acknowledged that his plan would not guarantee a rate reduction for all drivers, though the drivers with the best record would likely see a decrease."This isn't about saving. This is about trying to make us look more like other states in the union so that companies will be able to look at us and say, 'Our business model can work in Massachusetts,'" Mariano said.Under Mariano's bill, which may be debated by the House this month, high-risk drivers who the insurance companies often don't want to provide coverage for would be divvied up and randomly assigned to insurers. Those drivers would be charged an enhanced premium controlled by a new insurance board.In addition, Mariano's plan would reduce the amount of money charged to rural and suburban drivers pay to help subsidize the insurance premiums of urban drivers and keep those policies affordable.Nuciforo said the bill has some good proposals, such as fraud-fighting measures and setting a medical fee schedule for personal injury protection claims.Higher costsHowever, Nuciforo cited a 2004 report by consultant Tillinghast Towers Perrin, hired by the Division of Insurance, which found that in states with a competitive auto insurance system, youthful males paid on average two to three times higher rates than those in Massachusetts."What happens in states where people have very expensive insurance in urban areas is that they drive without a policy. They'll pay the first month's installment of the premium, then won't pay again," Nuciforo said.That means higher costs for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage for people who do carry auto insurance to cover themselves in case they are in an accident with someone who is not covered, Nuciforo said.
Dear Berkshire Bloggers:State Senator Stan Rosenberg (The Rosenberg Report, 6/20/06) states: On May 25th, the Massachusetts Senate approved a resolution I sponsored that calls on the federal government to “immediately institute a windfall profits tax on energy companies.” The Windfall Profits Tax resolution was co-sponsored by 19 other Senators along with Stan Rosenberg. Co-Sponsors:Stan RosenbergRobert A. AntonioniEdward M. AugustusStephen M. BrewerStephen J. BuonicontiHarriette L. ChandlerRobert S. CreedonSusan C. FargoJack HartRobert A. HavernPatricia D. JehlenThomas M. McGeeJoan M. MenardRichard T. MooreRobert O’LearyPamela P. ResorKaren E. SpilkaSteven A. TolmanSusan C. TuckerDianne WilkersonState Senator Stan Rosenberg states: "I understand that there are many factors that contribute to energy prices, but I cannot reconcile the fact that energy companies are reaping record profits while low- and moderate-income residents and small businesses are suffering. Energy companies enjoy the best of everything this country has to offer and its time they gave something back. If they won’t do it voluntarily, then government should compel them to do it. Enough is enough. I am proud that the Massachusetts Senate is joining the growing chorus of voices calling on the federal government to act on this matter, and act now."-----JONATHAN ALAN MELLE states:My open criticisms of the Massachusetts Senate! Questions for State Senator Stan Rosenberg.The Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Legislature is fiscally conservative because more and more of its revenues come off of the backs of the low to moderate income residents rather than those who are more financially able to pay local and state taxes. To provide examples of my claim that Stan Rosenberg means well, but is duplicitious in his logic of wanting the federal government to tax the very high profits of the wealthy oil companies that have a pronounced negative economic impact on oil dependent northeast states such as Massachusetts due to cold winters and the like, the following proves that the Massachusetts Legislature is hypocritical for pointing its collective finger at the Bush oil company establishment.#1) Senator Rosenberg: You voted for and/or approved your own legislative pay raises while you and your legislative colleagues cut state funding for local governments for three straight consecutive years from FY2002 - FY 2004. As you enter FY2007 next month, your funding of local governments will be less than it was in FY2001, which was six years ago. Senator Rosenberg: How can you sit there and point your finger at oil companies when you and your legislative colleagues have devastated the state funding structures for local governments that are filled with children and senior citizens who are very dependent on their public services? Like the oil companies, Senator Rosenberg, et al, helped themselves to pay raises while cutting local aid! #2) Senator Rosenberg: You railed against county governments in the late 1990's for economic inefficiencies while at the same time your legislative body put the Commonwealth of Massachusetts so deep into debt that it will take approximately 40 years for the state to regain any real fiscal solvency by way of the state government borrowing billions upon billions upon billions...of dollars to fund the never-ending "Big Dig" public works project (The most expensive and wasteful public works project in U.S. History). You pushed for the abolition of Berkshire County Government while my dad served on the Berkshire County Commission, but you never pushed for any real oversight or cost-cutting efforts for the Big Dig. Massachusetts is now one of the top debtor states in the nation because you picked on local governments instead of the state government where you exercise so much power, privilege and dominance. After all, you are the hand-picked successor to John W. Olver's Congressional seat. It seems self-interests guides you like self-interests guide the greedy oil companies.#3) Senator Rosenberg: The Massachusetts Lottery has never been more profitable! You know full well that the only function of a public lottery is to further place the burden of taxation on the poor. Let's scope out the big picture here: 3 straight years of state cuts to local governments, the Big Dig consuming public dollars, and a wealthy lottery. That leaves the poor with all of the bills! Senator Rosenberg: How can you point your finger at the oil companies when you have shifted the economic burden of your state government on the backs of the poor and middle class? Do you see the hypocrisy yet? #4) Senator Rosenberg: Property Taxes have never been higher in Massachusetts communities. Why is that? You know why: BECAUSE YOU CUT STATE AID to the bone! What kind of taxes are property taxes? Well, you know that answer, too: REGRESSIVE TAXES! Hey! Look at the picture you have painted, Senator Rosenberg: The economic burden of taxation in Massachusetts has shifted from the wealthy, high income earners to the middle class and poor residents ALL DURING YOUR TENURE! ...JUST LIKE BIG OIL! Wow! Hmmm...how interesting, indeed!Senator Rosenberg: I agree with you that the federal government should be taxing these disgustingly corrupt record oil company profits that are collected on the backs of the poor and middle class citizens, especially in Massachusetts--similar to the way you and your colleagues have done in collecting public revenues as State Legislators! Both you and your legislative colleagues are hypocrites for pointing your fingers at the oil companies when the outcome of your own public policy record shows very distinct similarities in fiscal conservatism where you all vote yourselves pay raises while the poor get less public dollars for their municipal services!I am glad you are making a good recovery from your illness. You are my friend and I wish you the best! Please accept my dissenting views to the way you and your legislative colleagues have ran the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Thank you!My very best regards,Jonathan A. Melle
Forward to: The Massachusetts State Ethics Commission, Room 619, One Ashburton Place, Boston, MA 02108June 22, 2006Re: My letter of DISSENT against The Massachusetts State Ethics Commission!Dear Berkshire Bloggers, News Media, the People, & Politicians: Re: "Arlos to pay fines as part of settlement" (The Berkshire Eagle, 6/22/06): I remember what my dad went through during the state abolition and takeover of Berkshire County Government with the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission, and it was all NOT at all fair! Mary O'Brien wanted a pay raise when my Dad was a Berkshire County Commissioner. My dad and the other County Commissioners voted "NO", which made this long-standing Pittsfield Central Berkshire Register of Deeds very angry with my dad. She threatened to sue my dad and the other two Berkshire County Commissioners for not getting a pay raise after Peter Arlos received one of his many self-serving pay raises as Berkshire County Treasurer. At the time, as well, I was living with my paternal grandparents in Mayor John Barrett III's North Adams and I was going to intern at the North Adams City Hall while attending the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Mayor Barrett personally called my dad to tell him to give Mary O'Brien the pay raise. My dad declined Mayor Barrett's request. Mayor Barrett then turned on both my dad and I, denying me my internship and not taking any more of my dad's telephone calls. My dad then went through a Kafkaesque Massachusetts State Ethics Commission hearing because he worked for the state Courts and spoke out against the state government's underfunding of the Courthouse rent. (What happened to Freedom of Speech under the Constitution?) Who lodged the complaint against my dad? Hmmm...Let's see: The Pittsfield political machine retaliated against my dad for not giving Mary O'Brien her pay raise. Nuciforo, who is now the sole candidate--after two other (both female) candidates were strong-armed out of this election--to be coronated into Mary O'Brien's Registrar position later this year, then made unsuccessful secret plans with the Pittsfield Police Department to have me arrested by way of falsely accusing me of threatening him after he threatened me twice and I ignored his taunting aggressive behaviors. Nuciforo's ultimate goal was to have me become an inmate at Sheriff Massimiano's Berkshire County Jail whereby Carmen Massimiano would have seen to it that his Jailer staff would have tortured me. Peter Arlos is no better than Mary O'Brien, Carmen Massimiano, Andrea Nuciforo or John Barrett III. They are all machine politicians who only serve themselves by voting themselves pay raises while the local people they are supposed to be serving go homeless, on welfare, and generally live in poverty. Well, I have one thing to say to all of Pittsfield's machine politicians, who are Peter Arlos, Mary O'Brien, Carmen Massimiano II, Andrea Nuciforo II & John Barrett III: You are all CORRUPT and FOUL! The reason why the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission only picks on the weak in state and local politics is because of the conflicts of interest I have evidentially and publicly disclosed against state Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. I openly told the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission that Nuciforo never once reported to them or the people that he illegally works as a private sector Attorney for Berman & Dowell, which is a private Boston Law Firm that serves the special interests of big corporate banks and insurance companies, while he also sets public policy for these same big corporate banks and insurance companies as the Massachusetts Senate Chairman of the Financial Services Committee. The Massachusetts State Ethics Commission would not investigate and/or take action on Nuciforo's conflicts of interest because Nuciforo is a powerful machine politician in the state government. The Massachusetts State Ethics Commission is CORRUPT, HYPOCRITICAL, and only picks on the weak! Sincerely & In Truth,Jonathan A. Melle
Politics will drive this reform debateBy Boston Herald editorial staffMonday, July 3, 2006 We’re not under any illusions that merit and democratic process will govern which bills make it to the governor’s desk and which do not by the end of this formal session July 31. No, old-fashioned power politics and the particular desires of House and Senate leadership will determine whether Massachusetts moves toward a competitive rate setting system for auto insurance. So long as it does, we won’t quibble over process. This issue has been debated ad nauseum. A solid reform measure was put forward a month ago by Rep. Ron Mariano (D-Quincy), building on Gov. Mitt Romney’s proposal addressing the need for competition in a reasonable, phased approach to avoid so-called rate shock. It’s past time to pull the trigger. Certainly, the facts are all on reform’s side and bear repeating: Fact: Only 18 companies currently write auto insurance policies in the state compared to states with competitive systems which can have 100 or more. Fact: The nation’s most well-known insurers like Geico, Progressive and AllState will continue to tantalize Massachusetts residents with ubiquitous national ad campaigns on TV, but a resident who dials them up will only hear a figurative click when they say what state they’re from. Fact: As special as we think we are in the Hub of the Universe, it defies logic that our singular rate-setting system is better for consumers than that used in 49 other states. Fact: Without reform, the 80 percent of the state’s good drivers will continue to subsidize insurance (paying too much) for the 20 percent who don’t pay what they would in a competitive market. Back to our supposition that legislative leaders, not facts, will determine auto reform’s fate this session, recent comments by Sen. Andrea Nuciforo (D-Pittsfield) ought to make us resigned to continued over-regulation. “I hope that House members have a chance to look at this bill and defeat it,” Nuciforo said. “If it does not die the death it deserves in the House, it will be dead on arrival in the Senate.” Surely, the fact that Nuciforo is a beneficiary of the largesse of an insurance company with a stranglehold on Massachusetts consumers has nothing to do with such bombast. And just as surely, Senate President Robert Travaglini and House Speaker Sal DiMasi will make the call for or against reform. Do the right thing guys, for all the right reasons.
Dear Berkshire Bloggers:I have a short message today. The people who should be held accountable for the Big Dig are the negligent insider Boston politicians, such as state Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. and his fellow state government hack Golden Domers, who were at all times responsible for the state's funding and oversight of the "Big Dig!"Sincerely,Jonathan A. Melle-----Crime scene Death at the Big Dig Tunnel topples, killing woman Staff and Wire reportsThe Berkshire Eagle Wednesday, July 12, 2006BOSTON — The fatal collapse of tons of ceiling slabs on a car passing through Boston's Big Dig tunnel sparked a criminal investigation, political wrangling and doubts yesterday about the safety of the most expensive highway project in U.S. history.Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly said yesterday that he was treating the collapse of the concrete slabs as a crime scene that could lead to charges of negligent homicide.Moments earlier, Gov. Mitt Romney stepped up his attack on the head of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, which oversees the Big Dig highway system, and vowed to take legal action to oust him. Romney, who has little authority over the independent agency, has long sought to force Matthew Amorello from the job."People should not have to drive through the Turnpike tunnels with their fingers crossed," Romney said. "Neither I nor anyone else could be or should be satisfied until we have new leadership at the Turnpike Authority."Late Monday, a newlywed and her husband were traveling along the eastbound section of the turnpike, near the entrance of a connector road to Logan International Airport.***VICTIM: Milena Del Valle***Twelve tons of concrete fell, crushing their car and killing Milena Del Valle, who was riding on the passenger side, which bore the brunt of the collapse. Angel Del Valle managed to crawl through a window to safety. He was treated for minor injuries and released from a hospital.The trouble-plagued Big Dig has gained nationwide scrutiny for rising costs that have reached nearly $15 billion, years of traffic snarls, a criminal investigation into faulty concrete from suppliers and problems with hundreds of leaks that sprouted in another of the Big Dig tunnels.Romney, who has fought with Amorello for control of the Turnpike Authority for years, has said in the past that he could not legally remove the chairman from office. Yesterday, however, he said the faults by Amorello had escalated to such a crescendo that the courts are more likely to uphold the dismissal."People have heard Chairman Amorello stand up and say the tunnels are safe, only to find that they're not," Romney said. "The list is now long enough and severe enough that the court will support the dismissal of Amorello."Reached yesterday by The Eagle, three Berkshire County lawmakers all called for holding those contractors responsible for the design flaw accountable."I've been very supportive of that project, but I'm beginning to wonder now," said state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, who said he drives through the tunnel "a lot.""It's unthinkable to think that something like that would occur," said state Rep. Christopher N. Speranzo, D-Pittsfield. "I was shocked.""We should hold the contractors accountable when the work is not performed," said state Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. "In this case, the evidence has indicated that the roof panels were not fixed properly to the roof."Pignatelli, Nuciforo and Speranzo all acknowledged Romney's long-standing disagreement with Amorello.Speranzo said that when it comes to considering Amorello's ouster, Romney's should be a "nonpoliticized response" because of the public confidence in this project."Governor Romney has had a political agenda against Matt Amorello," Pignatelli said. But the Lenox lawmaker doesn't think having Romney take Amorello out now would be a good idea because the successor would be subject to a "tremendous" learning curve.Pignatelli said "very aggressive action" should be taken in the wake of the accident, and that the state should "go after the contractors hard and heavy."Nuciforo said his understanding of the accident is that the steel rods that bolted the cement panels failed."From what I've heard, there is no indication that the cement was improperly poured, but that the steel rods failed," Nuciforo said."I think we need to get to the bottom of this — find out who did it and hold them accountable," he continued. "When I say accountable, I mean civilly. And if it warrants it, criminally.""The federal government should step in and hold the contractors accountable here," Pignatelli added.The state attorney general's office began issuing subpoenas yesterday to those involved in the design, manufacture, testing, construction and oversight of the panels and tunnel, including the Turnpike Authority and project manager Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff.Reilly said the investigation could look at any state and federal agency that signed off on the project."What we are looking at is anyone who had anything to do with what happened last night," Reilly said. "No one is going to be spared."The U.S. Attorney's Office was investigating, but had no immediate comment.Dan McNichol, a former Big Dig spokesman and Boston author, reached by phone yesterday, recalled his days on the job from the mid-1990s to 2000."I had complete confidence in the project," he said. "I was doing celebratory pieces with the History Channel and the Learning Channel. We were proud peacocks. We were showing it off."Those memories shifted to disgust yesterday morning, McNichol said, after awaking to the tragedy."Now it's a shameful time for people associated with the project," he said. "This is inexcusable in that it's public safety. Any failure is supposed to be caught by another backup."Before joining the Big Dig, McNichol worked in Washington at the federal Department of Transportation. He came to Boston in 1991 to view the project and officially joined the staff in 1993 as executive assistant to then project director Peter Zuk.He recalled a change in design to the section of tunnel where the panels crumbled Monday — a change order in the wall tiles that was meant to cut costs.It's possible, he said, that the shift in design affected the ceiling panels in a way that eventually caused them to fail."It was cheapened by stripping the interiors and putting up less," he said. "In that design change, they may have altered (the structure). I would start, if I was an investigator, with that and find out if that's the smoking gun."Officials yesterday said the portion of the tunnel where the collapse occurred will likely remain closed through today."You have to look at the entire project, and it starts with the Turnpike Authority here in the commonwealth, and it goes right on down to the person who fastened the last bolt," McNichol said. "You have a wrongful death. So is that scene a crime scene or a civil engineering (problem)? And the answer is both."
July 21, 2006Auto reform fight consumes cashCommerce, Hanover among insurers contributing to groups’ PR campaignsBy Bob Kievra TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFFrkievra@telegram.com With the state legislative session set to end this month, the prospects have dimmed for enactment of automobile insurance reform legislation, a battle being waged by opposing industry groups that have spent millions this year on consultants, lobbyists and radio and TV advertisements. Key lawmakers yesterday said they don’t expect the House of Representatives to take up the issue by the end of the session on July 31, despite a favorable recommendation from the House Committee on Financial Services. The Senate has showed little interest in the House bill and there is no competing version pending in the Senate. State Rep. Robert P. Spellane, D-Worcester, said the House bill, which would phase in deregulation of rates to consumers, has less than a 1 percent chance of advancement this year. The bill, which Mr. Spellane supports, was sidetracked earlier this year during the debate on health care reform, costing proponents valuable time to advance the legislation. “Right now, there’s no appetite on the Senate side,” said Mr. Spellane, vice chairman of the Joint Committee on Financial Services. “But we’ll bring it up in 2007. For me, it’ll be my number one priority.” Massachusetts regulators annually establish automobile insurance rates, and Gov. Mitt Romney has pushed to allow insurers to compete for business and price their policies independently. His efforts have been backed by some of the largest insurers in the country, while those opposed include some of the leading Massachusetts-based insurers. A group known as the Fairness for Good Drivers Coalition, operating through the Massachusetts Insurance Federation Inc., raised approximately $2.3 million in the past six months from insurance companies and trade organizations seeking to change the status quo. According to records filed with the secretary of state’s office, the group spent $1.3 million on the campaign during the first six months of the year, much of it on paid advertisements for television and radio. Among the insurers contributing money to the campaign were the Hanover Insurance Group and Premier Insurance Co., both of Worcester. Both Premier and Hanover donated $350,000 for use by the coalition. Other companies that donated $350,000 include Boston-based Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. and MetLife Inc. of New York. Amica Mutual Insurance Co. of Lincoln, R.I., donated $330,000. A spokesman for the coalition, James T. Harrington, declined to say how much money the Fairness coalition had on hand. He said he felt the organization had sufficient votes in the House of Representatives, but if the measure doesn’t move ahead it will return in 2007. “We’re going to stay committed until the 31st of July,” Mr. Harrington said. “If it doesn’t pass, I can assure you it’ll be back next year.” The group wanting to keep state-operated rates in place, known as the Massachusetts Coalition for Affordable Auto Insurance for All, counted upon Webster-based Commerce Insurance Co. and the Arbella Mutual Insurance Co. of Quincy for all of its donations. Commerce, the No. 1 auto insurer in the state, donated $714,000. Arbella, the third-largest auto insurer in the state, contributed $483,010 in the first half of 2006, according to records filed with state regulators. The Commerce/Arbella coalition had total expenditures of $1.1 million in the first half of 2006, almost all of it for paid consultants and radio and TV advertisements. The group said it solicits contributions for all of its expenses and doesn’t keep any spare contributions on hand. “The other side came out pretty aggressively and we had to respond,” said James A. Ermilio, senior vice president and general counsel at Commerce Group Inc., the parent company of Commerce Insurance. “Their side was being communicated in sound bites, and because our views are a little more complicated we had to spend accordingly. We think we did a good job, but we remain vigilant and understand that it’s going to keep reoccurring regularly.” State Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., D-Pittsfield, co-chairman of the legislative committee reviewing Mr. Romney’s bill, said yesterday the House bill remains unappealing to him, labeling it the most consumer-unfriendly piece of legislation he’s come across in recent memory. But Mr. Nuciforo, who is not seeking re-election, said he expects the legislation will return next year. Those involved in the debate said the dynamics might be different in 2007. In addition to Mr. Nuciforo, Mr. Romney is not seeking re-election and automobile insurance rates, which fell 8.7 percent this year, will likely drop again for 2007, according to industry experts. Contact business reporter Bob Kievra by e-mail at email@example.com.
Dear BERKSHIRE BLOGGERS, Honorable State Representative Daniel Bosley, Matt Kinnaman, The Berkshire Eagle, Bill Everhart, Honorable President Bush II, Honorable Mayor Jim Ruberto, Richard Delmasto, N.A. Transcript, Jonathan Levine & The Pittsfield Gazette, Mary Carey, Joan Vennochi, Hiawatha Bray, Big Dave Vallette, Larry Kratka, Honorable State Representative William "Smitty" Pignatelli, Honorable State Senator Stan Rosenberg, Jack Dew, Ned McGlynn, The Boston Globe, The Berkshire Record, The Springfield Republican, The Women's Times, The Advocate & Glenn Drohan, and Denis E. Guyer:Re: "Session closes; laws left behind: Higher education bill, others are unresolved" (The Berkshire Eagle, August 01st, 2006): State Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo is a corrupt, insider Boston Pol because he has both (a) taken in a very large amount of special interest campaign contributions from Boston area big banks and insurance companies and (b) continued to illegally serve as a private Banking and Insurance Corporate Attorney in a private Boston Law Firm named "Berman & Dowell" in violation of the state's conflicts of interest laws while at the same time setting public policies for these very same financial institutions as Chairman of the Massachusetts Senator Financial Services Committee!-----The news article states:Auto insurance reform is another key issue on which the Legislature adjourned without taking any major action. Gov. Mitt Romney proposed his own legislation that would have scrapped the current system in which the state regulates the rates and allows competition to drive the market.A similar proposal was advanced by House lawmakers, but state Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., D-Pittsfield, strongly opposed it. Nuciforo, the chairman of the Financial Services Committee, said both proposals to deregulate the auto insurance market would lead to sharply higher rates for young drivers in urban areas.However, state Rep. Denis E. Guyer, D-Dalton, said he wants to see auto insurance on the agenda when lawmakers reconvene next year and address inequities between rural and urban drivers."Drivers in our region are subsidizing the auto insurance rates of drivers in Boston, and I don't think it's fair. My constituents deserve the same types of rates and deals as drivers in Boston," Guyer said.-----My reason for dissent is short, simple, & sweet:Nuciforo represents rural Berkshire County with only +2% of the Commonwealth's entire population of approximately 6 million citizens! Why is Nuciforo concerned about young urban drivers when his "constituents" have always been rural drivers? The sorry answer is that Nuciforo is a corrupt, insider Boston Pol who never once served the interests of the people of Berkshire County and the surrounding Western Massachusetts region!In conclusion, Nuciforo has only served the Pittsfield Political Machine--as is evident of him being given Pittsfield Registrar of Deeds Mary O'Brien's position at a salary of over $80,000.00 per year, benefits and a continuing state government pension plan. Moreover, Nuciforo should be fined and jailed for his blatant and continual violations of the state's conflicts of interests laws. Lastly, Nuciforo's Boston area campaign contributions show him to be a special interest, corrupt and insider Boston Pol.I WILL ALWAYS SPEAK MY GOOD CONSCIENCE FOR AS LONG AS I SHALL LIVE! I am an American Citizen with U.S. Constitutional Rights and Civil Liberties! Give me Liberty or Give me Death!In truth,Jonathan A. MelleP.S. Despite Denis E. Guyer's vicious and mean-spirited violence, attacks and slandering of me about this time last year, I must praise him for voicing the concerns of his rural constituents on this important matter of Auto Insurance Reform in the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts!
8/4/06Dear Berkshire Bloggers:I must register my DISSENT against Massachusetts Senate President Bob Travaglini's praise for the corrupt, special interest and abusive State Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.! The news article below points out that Nuciforo is exiting the Massachusetts Senate after 10 years of public service. The following is a synopsis of the truth about Nuciforo's real public record:1 - Nuciforo tried to JAIL me in the Spring of 1998 for speaking out against the state government's proposal to abolish Berkshire County Government. After Nuciforo threatened me two times the previous year, he made false reports to the Pittsfield Police Department that I was threatening him. Nuciforo's real goal was to have me put in Berkshire Sheriff Carmen Massimiano's Jail where I would have been tortured and abused by Sheriff Massimiano's jailer staff. Moreover, during the same time period, Nuciforo launched a Kafkaesque "Ethics" hearing against my dad for speaking out on the state's proposed abolition and takeover of Berkshire County Government. Nuciforo's real goal was to have my dad fired from his Courthouse job and forcing him to resign his elected post as a Berkshire County Commissioner.2 - Speaking of Conflicts of Interests and "Ethics" hearings, Nuciforo received very large amounts of campaign contributions from the Boston area financial institutions in order to block "Auto Insurance Reform." Moreover, as Chair of the Massachusetts Senate Financial Services Committee, Nuciforo also served as a private Attorney for a Boston Law Firm named "Berman & Dowell" as a Corporate Lawyer for the Boston Area big banks and insurance companies. Ergo, while Nuciforo was setting public policies for Boston's big financials, he was doing their private bidding by way of the "Berman & Dowell" law firm, which he never disclosed on his Ethics forms under the pains and penalties of perjury, fines and jail.3 - Nuciforo created a monopoly for Berkshire Health Systems by excluding others in the Berkshires from having access to life-saving medical equipment by a secret midnight rider in the FY2002 "Thanksgiving Budget" in the Fall of 2001. There was no debates, deliberations or hearings on the matter. Without doctors having access to this life-saving medical equipment, Nuciforo placed at risk the medical needs of countless number of local medical patients throughout Berkshire County!4 - During three straight years of state budget cuts to cities and towns, Nuciforo voted himself and his legislative cronies 3 straight pay raises!5- In this year's Registrar of Deeds race, there were initially two WOMEN running for the democratically elected office. Nuciforo strong-armed both WOMEN candidates out of the race to be the sole annointed politician to take this office. Talk about slighting diversity and democracy at the same time!6- In the final vote, Nuciforo was the only State Senator to oppose the state's all felon DNA Database to catch violent criminals. Amazingly and bizarrely enough, he did so in the name of "civil liberties." This was the same Nuciforo that tried to Jail me and fire my dad from his job in Spring of 1998 for exercising our Constitutionally protected right to exercise our Civil Liberties! By opposing the all felon DNA database, Nuciforo was opposing including the following felonies to the list: Drugging with the Intent to Rape, Assault and Battery on a Child to cause bodily injury, all gun felonies, and all drug felonies!7- Nuciforo and the state Legislature have illegally used the State Constitution to silence the rights of the people to decide the complex issues of marriage in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. By a vote of 4-3, the Supreme Judicial Court took judicial activism to a whole new level by saying the state constitution allows same sex couples to marry. Since then the people have been silenced on the matter due to the Legislature's illegal use of the State Constitution! Nuciforo does not believe in letting the people be heard on Constitutional matters.8- Speaking of letting the People be heard, in the Fall of 1998, 2-out-of-3 voters in Nuciforo's Berkshire Legislative District endorsed Clean Elections. Nuciforo overruled the will of the people he supposedly represents by strongly opposing campaign finance reform. Moreover, Nuciforo for years has received a great majority portion of his campaign donation from well outside of his Berkshire Legislative District!9- Nuciforo and his legislative cronies have cut state funding to local governments to the bone, bankrupted the City of Springfield by these cuts, and attacked any inefficiencies in local governments with loud outcry's! YET, Nuciforo and his fellow Boston Pols have completely ignored the "Big Dig"! Boston's Big Dig is the most expensive, wasteful and life-threatening public works project in the history of the great United States of America. While Nuciforo has supported drastic cuts to cities and town, pay raises for himself, and corrupt campaign contributions from Boston area big banks and insurance companies, he has done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to reform the "Big Dig."10- Nuciforo's real purpose in public office was to serve the powerful Boston Pols, wealth financial institutions in and around Boston, and the Pittsfield Political Machine. Nuciforo voted Berkshire County Sheriff a substantial pay raise because Carmen Massimiano runs the incestuous Pittsfield Political Machine! For doing Nuciforo's dirty work for nearly a decade, Nuciforo voted Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. a $21,710 pay raise thereby taking the corrupt Sheriff's pay to $123,209 a year. While Nuciforo voted his cronie a 21 percent pay raise, he has done little to serve the people he supposedly represents for nearly a decade.The list goes on and on against Nuciforo's corruption, conflicts of interest, and abuses of power! I hope I have provided you all with a truthful synopsis of Nuciforo's poor and deficient public record as one of Berkshire County's WORST politicians ever!Sincerely & In Truth,Jonathan A. Melle-----Sen. Nuciforo exits after his final vote By Erik Arvidson, Eagle Boston BureauThe Berkshire Eagle Thursday, August 03, 2006BOSTON — His Senate term doesn't end until next January, but state Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. may have taken his final roll-call vote when the Senate enacted a bill allowing a land conveyance in Winthrop at close to midnight Monday.The 42-year-old Pittsfield Democrat, who is ending a 10-year legislative career to run for the office of Central Berkshire Register of Deeds, is one of two leaving the Senate — the other being Senate Minority Leader Brian P. Lees, R-East Longmeadow.On Monday, the Legislature recessed from meeting in formal sessions until next January, and most lawmakers will spend little time at the Statehouse as many run for re-election.Nuciforo didn't make a lengthy farewell speech, which he said he's saving for a Senate session in November after the election, but told his Senate colleagues it had been a "tremendous pleasure" serving with them.Senate President Robert E. Travaglini, D-East Boston, said that Lees and Nuciforo "represent all that's good about the institution."It's possible that the Senate could meet again in an rare formal session between now and the end of the year. Gov. Mitt Romney said Tuesday that it was likely he'd have to call the House and Senate back in for a formal session to approve a capital facilities bond bill that was not enacted and which was to pay for public works projects and information technology improvements in state government. House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi rejected that request yesterday.Also, state lawmakers are scheduled to meet in a Constitutional Convention Nov. 9 to consider, among many proposals, one which would define marriage as solely for heterosexual couples. However, even some proponents acknowledge that a meeting may never be called.Nuciforo, who served as Senate chairman of the Financial Services Committee, was pleased that he helped stop a proposed bill to scrap the state's current system in which the commissioner of insurance sets auto insurance rates."In my judgment, that bill would have enriched huge national insurance companies at the expense of the consumer. I was happy to see it didn't pass," Nuciforo said.Nuciforo said he wanted to see the bill focus on fighting fraud, reducing bodily injury claims and fairly distribute losses between insurers, but he and other legislators weren't able to come to a consensus.Still, Nuciforo said the 2005-06 legislative session saw "substantial victories for the city of Pittsfield and Berkshire County," including state funds for a downtown Pittsfield cinema center and money for streetscape improvements, along with support for local cultural venues."I think we as the Berkshire delegation really raised the profile of the cultural community here in Berkshire County," Nuciforo said.Like many of his colleagues, Nuciforo was disappointed that a bill increasing funding for public higher education by $400 million over the next seven years was not enacted.Erik Arvidson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear BERKSHIRE BLOGGERS, News Media, Politicians, & the People:Re: "Arlos must step down from board: Commission rules on conflict of interest" (The Berkshire Eagle, 8/31/06): In the Spring of 1998, State Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. and his cohorts in Pittsfield & Massachusetts State Government PERSECUTED both my father and myself. Nuciforo, et al, charged my father for violating the state's conflict of interest law for speaking out (1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution) on the issue of the state's underfunding of the Courthouse rent to the then Berkshire County Government while being under the employment of the state as a Pittsfield District Court Probation Officer. Moreover, during this same time period, Nuciforo set up secret plans with the Pittsfield Police Department to have me arrested through Nuciforo's FALSE reports to the Pittsfield Police Department that I threatened him after Nuciforo had really threatened me twice the previous year. The intent of Nuciforo's charge against my father was to have him be fired from his state job and be forced to resign from his elected position. The intent of Nuciforo's FALSE reports against me to the Pittsfield Police Department was to have me arrested and sent to the Berkshire County Jail and House of Correction where his cohort, Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr., in Pittsfield and state government politics would have seen to it that his Jailer staff would have TORTURED me. Thank God and a few good people that Nuciforo failed in his PERSECUTION of both my father and I. Now, my father and I, along with our entire wonderful nuclear family lives in the great and beautiful state of New Hampshire whereby Nuciforo, Massimiano, et al, have no authority to threaten us with through their collective corrupted abuse of power.As for Peter Arlos: While I no longer like this individual anymore, he was one my political friend. During the same time the Pittsfield Political Machine persucuted my father via the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission for speaking out against the almight Nuciforo, these same corrupt state and local government officials looked for ways to SILENCE other dissenters of their collective corrupted abuse of authority. When Berkshire County Government was abolished and taken over by the state government effective July 01, 2000, Peter Arlos found a way to stay on in his position as Berkshire County Treasurer/Chairman of the Retirement Board. He voted for his own pay raise, which is typical of Pols today, and the Nuciforo people got him where they wanted him. The rest is history in the making.As for NUCIFORO: Time and time again, I, Jonathan A. Melle, have reported this monstrosity and abomination of a politician to the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission for BLATANTLY violating the state's conflict of interest law FOR:NUCIFORO SERVED and continues to SERVE as a private CORPORATE ATTORNEY for a Boston Law Firm entitled "Berman and Dowell" and represents big Boston Financial Institutions (big banks and insurance companies) WHILE at the SAME TIME sitting on powerful Massachusetts State Senate Committees setting public policies, laws and regulation for these same companies he is serving in both a public and private capacity.Every time I have reported Nuciforo for his BLATANT VIOLATIONS of the state's conflict of interest law, the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission has responded with a letter stating they are not going to pursue this case.This leads me to conclude the following:(1) Nuciforo is a corrupted machine politicians who abuses his authority by PERSECUTING American Citizens who speak out against his people in state and local governmeent through (a) the CORRUPT Massachusetts State Ethics Commission, (b) the Pittsfield Police Department, and (c) the CORRUPT Sheriff of Berkshire County: Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr.(2) The Massachusetts State Ethics Commission is a CORRUPT state government agency that will only prosecute the outsider, weak local politicians such as both my dad and Peter G. Arlos. This state agency is used to SILENCE the people when they make procedural errors in using their 1st AMENDMENT U.S. Constitutionally protected FREEDOM OF SPEECH.Well, Pittsfield and state Boston Pols, I AM AN AMERICAN CITIZEN with U.S. Constitutional Rights and Civil Liberties, and I WILL ALWAYS SPEAK MY GOOD CONSCIENCE AS LONG AS I LIVE. As for Nuciforo, Massimiano, Mary O'Brien, Peter Arlos, and John Barrett III, among other machine politicians: You all will always hear from one good man: JONATHAN ALAN MELLE! I will always be there to speak out against the Pittsfield and state political machine that has corrupted the very state of our great gift of democracy! To anyone who will attempt to silence Jonathan A. Melle: GIVE ME LIBERTY or GIVE ME DEATH!In Truth,Jonathan A. Melle
Re: My open letter to Deval PatrickDear Deval Patrick:I am in strong support of your candidacy for Massachusetts Governor. Your platform is one that centers around investing in the infrastructure and community needs of Massachusetts, and I am in 100% agreement with you. For over 10 years now, since my dad ran and won a local government elected position in Berkshire County, I have followed Massachusetts Politics with a very close eye. While I have had many, many, many...differences with North Adams State Representative Dan Bosley, I also think he is the most intelligent politician in Western Massachusetts and knows a lot about economic development projects. I think you should work closely with Bosley when you are voted Governor to help the Western end of the commonwealth where I was born and lived for over 28-1/2 years until the Spring of 2004. However, there is another politician whom I must warn you about. His name in outgoing State Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. This politician is nothing more than a "Henry F. Potter" (from the old-time movie: "It's A Wonderful Life", starring James Stewart) strong-arm politician in sheep's clothing. Nuciforo wants nothing more in life than to follow in his late-father's footsteps and have a Governor (like you) nominate him as a Berkshire County Judge. When you are elected Governor, you will be lobbied by the strong-arm of the state political machine man: the Berkshire County Sheriff, Carmen Massimiano, Jr. and his political puppet Pittsfield Mayor, Jim Ruberto, among others you already now know, for you to nominate Nuciforo as a Pittsfield Judge. While Mayor Ruberto is a good man on a personal level, he always does the political bidding of Massimiano and please don't be fooled by his real political agenda --Sheriff Massimiano's political machine "yes man", either. I would shudder to see Nuciforo be nominated by you or any other fair-minded Massachusetts Governor as a Judge because Nuciforo is really only a strong-arm politician who uses corrupted political power for special interest money and then his blood money for even more corrupted political power. In the Spring of 1998, Nuciforo, who had previously threatened me two separate times -- once in the Summer of 1997 and again the Fall of 1997 -- filed false reports against me to the Pittsfield Police Department to have me arrested so that I would be sent to Sheriff Massimiano's Jail where they would have abused and bullied me. Nuciforo's personal threats and then his corrupted use of Sheriff Massimiano really scared me and I still live in a constant fear of "Pittsfield Politics" today, as vicious rumors continue to be spread about me by various Pittsfield area Pols. During the same time period in the Spring of 1998, Nuciforo had also tried to get my dad fired from his 3-decades long state job by filing a Kafkaesque complaint against my dad to the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission. Fortunately for my family, Nuciforo's henchman efforts were unsuccessful and my dad got to keep his job until retirement and I was spared the mockery of corrupted justice ran by Sheriff Massimiano. Unfortunately for me, I keep on hearing of vicious rumors being spread about me to many people throughout the Pittsfield area by Nuciforo's henchmen cohorts. I just wish they stopped their blatant abuses of political power and Mayor Jim Ruberto would for once show the integrity he always talks about and tell his city's politicians to leave me alone, but he cannot because he takes marching orders from strong-arm political men. I am so frustrated, Deval Patrick, and I know you dealt with issues of discrimination and hatred when you worked for U.S. President Bill Clinton's Justice Department in the mid-1990s. I hope that you will please take the time to listen to what I have to say to you. I hope that you really do have integrity and will live up to your lofty ideals of fairness and social justice when you are the next Massachusetts Governor!Moreover, this year, Mary O'Brien finished 30 years as the Pittsfield Registrar of Deeds and when she announced her retirement, two women candidates from Pittsfield had taken out nomination papers to run for this elected office. Then, the "Pittsfield Political Machine" (a.k.a. Sheriff Massimiano) reared its (his) ugly head and decreed that only Nuciforo may run for this "elected" seat. After several news articles were published in The Berkshire Eagle during this past Spring of 2006, it was apparent through basic political analysis that the two women initially running for this seat were strong-armed out of the race by Nuciforo's "candidacy" (a.k.a. annointment), who then (Nuciforo) ultimately ran unopposed in the September, 2006 Democratic Primary "election" and will, of course, now, once again, run unopposed in next week's general "election". The bottom line is that the mere thought for me of Nuciforo makes me sick to my stomach. I have closely watched state politics in Massachusetts for over 10 years since my dad was first elected to a local government seat, and I strongly state to you that the worst of the worst of machine politics and political strong-arm tactics and corruption is not in Boston or even Springfield, but it is truly centered in Pittsfield and he even has a name and an M.O. political title: Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., the strong-arm, corrupted machine politician in sheeps clothing!My point of relaying to you my thoughts and predictable prophecies about the corrupted Pittsfield Political Machine --starring Berkshire County Sheriff Massimiano and his puppet cohorts-- lobbying you in the near future to nominate Nuciforo to be a Pittsfield Judge is to prevent such a tragedy from ever occuring before it happens. Hopefully, you will have listened to me before making the biggest political mistake of your future administration. Indeed, Deval Patrick, as much as I fully support your candidacy for Massachusetts Governor, if Nuciforo is ever nominated to be a Judge I will submit written essays of this kind to the approving authority, namely the Governor's Council, and I will also swear my spoken words against Nuciforo under oath so as to finally end the political corruption and abuse that I have had the unpleasant experience of enduring and watching over for 10 years. Like me, I know you will rise above the banality of Pittsfield Politics and be your own good man and make the right choices and good decisions that will best benefit the people of the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Thank you for your time and I hope that you win and become the best Governor in the history of the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts!My very best regards,Jonathan A. Melle
Seat shifts in changing countyNuciforos bookended Republican stronghold in state SenateBy Jack Dew, Berkshire Eagle StaffArticle Launched:11/03/2006Friday, November 03, 2006For 23 years, the Republicans controlled the Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin state Senate seat, a period that was bookended by Democratic Nuciforos.The Republican rule began when Andrea F. Nuciforo Sr. stepped down to accept the judgeship in the Berkshire Probate Court. It ended when his son, Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., won the seat in 1996.Nuciforo's decision to step aside after 10 years in office to run for the Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds has created a rare open seat, giving the Berkshire Republicans a chance to reclaim one of the county's five spots in the Legislature.But Democrats say the Berkshires are now a thoroughly Democratic region that has shifted to theAndrea F. Nuciforo Sr.left, and the Republican Party has moved to the right.Republican Matthew W. Kinnaman of Lee and Democrat Benjamin B. Downing of Pittsfield are running to replace Nuciforo in the Senate, along with Green-Rainbow candidate Dion C. Robbins-Zust of Richmond.Realizing that he is up against 10 years of Democratic control of the seat, Kinnaman has urged voters to "do something different, or nothing will change."The Berkshire County Republican Association is aware of the difficulty.Peter Giftos, the executive director of the BCRA, said the party suffered as it lost some of its Republican leaders, like U.S. Rep. Silvio O. Conte of Pittsfield, who died in 1991 after spending 34 years in Congress.As the Republican leaders left the field, Giftos said, the Democratic Party was growing stronger. With a majority on Beacon Hill, it appointed other Democrats to state positions and built voter loyalty from the ground up."Put it all together, and what do you have? You have the deterioration of one party, a monopoly by another party," he said. "But I think, in time, it is going to turn around. I sense that we are getting close to that turnaround point."North Adams Mayor John Barrett III, a Democrat who lost a race for state Senate to Republican Peter C. Webber in 1980, said the Republican Party now suffers from a lack of leadership that has led to total party disorder.There is no better example, he said, than when Berkshire District Attorney Gerard D. Downing Jr. — Benjamin Downing's father — died while in office in 2003. Gov. Mitt Romney looked for a Republican to fill the post but could find none. After a five-week search, he named Downing's first assistant, Democrat David F. Capeless."They had an opportunity to fill an office, and they couldn't find anyone," Barrett said. "The Green Party has more candidates running for statewide office than the Republicans."Barrett said the Republicans who have won in the Berkshires have been moderates. In his last year in office, Conte voted against President George H.W. Bush 69 percent of the time, according to Congressional Quarterly."The Republicans that I grew up with, it was easy to cross party lines because the ideology wasn't like it is today," Barrett said.While the parties may have changed, so, too, has the district.The Berkshires have looked consistently bluer: No city or town in the county voted for Romney in 2002. Former state Rep. Shaun P. Kelly was the last Berkshire Republican to hold a constitutional office, and the Dalton resident left his seat in 2004.Douglas Stephenson, a Republican and member of the Great Barrington Board of Selectmen, dismisses the role of political party in deciding Berkshire elections. He said the Senate has always been filled "based upon the issues.""The people who have held that seat were really credible people, and the voters of Berkshire County have always done a really good job of looking beyond the labels," Stephenson said."It is not about the label, it is about who is the right person to represent the county in the Legislature," he said. "It's a matter of who is the best candidate."----------» A storied history A 50-year history of the state Senate seat that is now known as the Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin seat. The year listed is when the candidate first won the seat.1956 — Silvio O. Conte, Republican of Pittsfield1958 — Robert P. Cramer, Democrat of Williamstown1961 — Edmund R. St. John Jr., Republican of Adams1964 — Andrea F. Nuciforo Sr., Democrat of Pittsfield1973 — John H. Fitzpatrick, Republican of Stockbridge1980 — Peter C. Webber, Republican of Pittsfield1990 — Jane Swift, Republican of North Adams - **The worst Governor in the history of Massachusetts**1996 — 2006: Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., "Democrat" "of Pittsfield"- ***The political persecutor and strong-arm of the state opportunist in sheep's clothing!***
Lame Duck Romney Team Proceeds with Mass. Auto ChangesNovember 9, 2006 Massachusetts Insurance Commissioner Julianne Bowler said she intends to finish what she started three years ago in trying to refashion the state's high risk auto insurance system, despite urgings by some that she leave the task for the administration of newly-elected Gov. Deval Patrick, who will replace her boss, Mitt Romney, on Jan. 4, 2007.Bowler, who could soon be out of her job due to the election of Democrat Patrick, told Insurance Journal that the Romney administration's plan to replace the current reinsurance system with an assigned risk plan "would have been implemented by now if not for the appeal which was resoundingly rejected by the SJC (Supreme Judicial Court)." She was referring to a failed court challenge to her authority to implement the MAIP. The outgoing chair of the Financial Services Committee, Sen. Andrea Nuciforo, among other opponents of the ARP, has urged Bowler to leave the decision of what to do about the high risk system to the incoming Patrick administration.But Bowler takes the next step toward implementation of the ARP, known as the Massachusetts Assigned Insurance Plan, today when she convenes a public hearing to hear comments on the latest draft of the MAIP rules.It promises to be a lengthy hearing, judging from the number of insurers, insurance agents, consumer advocates and elected officials who have indicated a desire to testify.Among those testifying will be Daniel Foley, Jr., director of government affairs for the Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents, who will urge that some rules that affect agents be clarified. He is also expected to ask Bowler to make sure the implementation schedule, which now calls for the MAIP to be open for new business on April 1, 2007, is realistic.According to Frank Mancini, executive director for MAIA, agents also want to be assured that the electronic system through which agents would access the MAIP is all tested and ready in time for MAIP's launching.Incoming Gov. Patrick has not indicated whether he supports the MAIP but industry observers said that regardless of his position they would not expect him to intervene before he actually takes office.Bowler has argued that the MAIP is needed to bring the state's auto insurance system more in line with those of other states in part as a way to attract new insurers to a market she thinks needs more capital and competition.The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America agrees with Bowler."The creation of the MAIP will be a significant and very positive development for the Massachusetts private passenger auto insurance market," according to Frank O'Brien, vice president and regional manager for PCI. "This will mean that for the first time since the creation of the current residual market structure, the participants will be assured that the losses and burdens of the system will be distributed fairly and equitably as required by law. Additionally, the MAIP will eliminate the manipulation and gaming that have been the hallmarks of our bizarre residual market."In testimony he will submit today, O'Brien maintains that Bowler "has an obligation to finalize the establishment of the MAIP in accordance with the schedule in the proposed rules. This is an important step in reforming an auto insurance system plagued by inefficiencies, government control of forms and prices, and domination by a few large insurers."The American Insurance Association (AIA) is also backing Bowler."The current residual market system has become a roadblock to writing auto insurance in the Commonwealth," said John Murphy, AIA vice president, Northeast Region. "The current system is unfair and benefits some insurers over others."In his testimony, AIA's Murphy will point out that the attorney general concluded months ago that the current system does not meet the statutory mandate for a fair and equitable sharing of residual market losses."The rapid transition to a traditional assigned risk plan will be helpful to the broader auto insurance market. It will address current inequities in the system, which are a critical problem. It will also send an important positive signal that Massachusetts is serious about normalizing its auto insurance system," added Murphy.But opponents, who include some of the biggest domestic auto insurers and elected officials, are expected to tell Bowler that what she wants to do is a substantial change that is unnecessary. They will argue that the switch to MAIP is unnecessary because past problems with certain insurers manipulating the system have been resolved, the industry has made inroads in combating fraud and drivers' rates have been going down for several years.Under the plan being heard today, new business could be written in the MAIP as of April 1, 2007 and renewal business as of July 1, 2007. This would apply to all agents, including agents with voluntary markets as well as those without voluntary markets.Meanwhile, personnel at Commonwealth Auto Reinsurers, which runs the state's high risk system, have been working to meet Bowler's proposed implementation schedule. CAR President Ralph Iannaco has created several MAIP project teams to develop procedures and systems. CAR has added a "MAIP Information Section" to its web site (www.commauto.com).According to CAR's MAIP update, the front-end producer system being developed will allow producers to access the MAIP by upload from an agency management system or directly on CAR's website.
Dear News Media, Pols, & People:#1 - Governor Romney was upset that the state Legislature did not recenly vote on a state constitutional amendment regarding same sex marriage. While Romney is right that the state Legislature is a non-democratic body, but rather another otherwise useless and problematic bureaucracy of incompetency and power, Romney is wrong also for using a racist 1913 law meant to keep black men from marrying white women, and so on, in order to stop out of state same sex couples from marrying in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.#2 - Andrea F. Nuciforo II is a notorious filer of complaints against citizens and government officials who dare to dissent against the incompentency of the state government in Massachusetts. Yet, Nuciforo is breaking several conflict of interests state ethics laws by holding "elected" (not really!!!) political office while also serving as a private corporate banking lawyer for a private Boston law firm named "Berman & Dowell." While Nuciforo is right to uphold the ethics laws, he is wrong for his persecutions of people who dissent against his big business and government fiscally conservative views and positions. Moreover, if ethics laws should be upheld, Nuciforo should resign his "elected" (not really!!!) governmental position(s) because he is serving the private interests of the state's big banks and insurance companies in and around Boston.Sincerely,Jonathan A. Melle
Dear BERKSHIRE BLOGGERS, News Media, Politicians, & the People:I am in 100% agreement with the letter to the Eagle, below! State Senator Nuciforo & State Representative Speranzo are a DISGRACE to constitutional governance by not allowing the state Legislature and the People vote on the issue of same sex marriage. Speranzo is very intelligent and may be a Congressman someday in the future. It is a damned shame Chris Speranzo puts the political machine over the political institutions that, in theory, make us a democracy. I hope Speranzo bows out of politics by his insider acts of COWARDICE!Sincerely,Jonathan A. Melle-----Lawmakers will pay next Election DayLettersArticle Launched:12/01/2006 03:02:26 AM ESTFriday, December 01, 2006To the Editor of THE EAGLE: Every one of our elected officials takes an oath to uphold the Massachusetts Constitution. On Nov. 9, my representative, Christopher Speranzo, and Sen. Nuciforo, violated that oath. According to Article 48 of our Constitution, the Legislature is required to vote on all initiative petitions put before them, including the petition on marriage, and the petition on health care. Instead they cowardly recessed until Jan. 2, immediately before time will run out. It's because they think we're not paying attention and will re-elect them even if they break the law. Rep. Speranzo and Sen. Nuciforo's actions are truly disgraceful. They speak of contempt for the Constitution, the petition process, and the voting public. We must hold them accountable on Election Day. KAREN TOWNE Pittsfield, Nov. 29, 2006
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December 7, 2006Dear BERKSHIRE BLOGGERS, News Media, Politicians, & the People:The following Time Magazine news article illustrates what “Pittsfield’s” state Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., and to a lesser extent then state Representative Peter J. Larkin, did to the Berkshire County Oncology Doctors in passing a secret law as a rider to the “Thanksgiving” FY02 Massachusetts State Budget prohibiting them from owning and using MRI and PTE medical instruments to treat cancer patients, and thereby giving Berkshire Health Systems sole monopoly power to provide medical care.My thoughts on this news article and Nuciforo’s market interference are as follows:(a) Hospitals need profits, and competition, such as the private Berkshire Oncology practice, would cut into BHS’ profits.(b) Private Medical Providers need profits and by competing with Hospitals, medical care is provided in more economical and cutting edge ways than guaranteeing Hospitals monopoly power over the market.(c) Nuciforo’s legislation making it illegal for the Berkshire Oncology private practice to own and use MRI and PTE medical instruments interfered with the free market and demand for medical patients to receive more economical cancer treatments.(d) Nuciforo passed his legislation (with Larkin) without even holding one public hearing on the matter and attached it to a late state budget without public disclosure.(e) Nuciforo has illegally served as a private corporate attorney for a Boston law firm named Berman & Dowell without disclosing his conflicts of interest to the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission, which has done nothing to stop Nuciforo’s illegal transgressions of state ethics laws (because the Ethics Commission is a disgustingly corrupted bureaucracy that only picks on the weak!). Nuciforo’s private law practice in Boston focuses on big banks and insurance companies, which are the heart of any hospital’s profit margins. (f) Therefore, Nuciforo has put his own perverse economic incentives in place to illegal personally profit off of big financial companies payments to hospitals to protect the hospital’s profit margins instead of proposing regulations to stop the perverse economic incentives used by private medical practices as stated in the news article, below.In conclusion, Nuciforo is a corrupt politician who breaks state laws to profits off (through perverse economic incentives) of the needs of the people the state is supposed to be, in theory, serving by supposedly ensuring the best possible medical care offered to physically and/or mentally ill medical patients. Moreover, Nuciforo’s secret budget rider law giving Berkshire Health Systems monopoly powers only applies to Berkshire County, not the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Nuciforo is one corrupt, secretive, top-down, strong-armed, insidious, machine-driven, intimidating and abuse of power politician! I hope the people will join me in stopping this terrible man do any more damage in both the public sector and private sectors of society.I WILL ALWAYS SPEAK MY GOOD CONSCIENCE AS LONG AS I LIVE! Carmen Massimiano II, et al, may all stuff it! My opposition to Andrea F. Nuciforo II’s corruption will be as strong and solid now as it ever once was and will always be. I will always oppose the political career of corruption and under-handedness that defines the anointed incoming Pittsfield Register of Deeds (who strong-armed 2 women out of the “elected” race in the Spring of 2006) & who also politically persecuted my dad & illegally jail his son (me) in the Spring of 1998: the one and only, Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.!Sincerely,Jonathan A. Melle----->TIME MAGAZINE via Time.comTHE HOSPITAL WARSDecember 11, 2006Surgery and imaging centers owned by doctors are swiping patients from traditional hospitals. Competition is good, right? Not always in health care, where an arms race keeps the costs risingBy Unmesh Kher/Wichita Posted Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2006Kevin Conlin has a problem. Physicians in Wichita have been catching a bug. An entrepreneurial bug. One that compels them to build highly specialized hospitals, diagnostic imaging facilities stocked with next-generation scanners, and same-day surgery centers that have hotel-like touches. Conlin, CEO of the $1.2 billion nonprofit Via Christi Health System in Kansas, complains that these outfits are competing unfairly against St. Francis and St. Joseph, his two general hospitals in Wichita. And he intends to do something about it. Via Christi provided Kansans with some $30 million in charity care and $33 million in unpaid Medicaid services this year. Conlin says Via Christi can no longer afford those costs if it keeps losing money to the new guys. "We're left with no option," says Conlin, "but to set a limit on how much of this kind of work we're going to do. Only then will we have a public conversation about the issues this phenomenon raises."That phenomenon has sparked a war between hospitals and doctors across the country that is transforming the landscape of the U.S. health-care system--while not necessarily improving it. Hospital bosses say doctors, who wield huge influence over their patients, steer the most profitable procedures to facilities they own and shunt the least lucrative ones to the general hospital. This threatens the ability of the general hospital to provide money-losing services like emergency care, which it subsidizes in part with profits from procedures like cardiac surgery. The specialty competitors deny that they are the problem. Quite the opposite. "We raise the bar for the community," says Ed French, CEO of MedCath, which runs 12 specialty hospitals. "Everybody invests in more equipment and focuses more on nursing care because we set the competitive standard."But researchers led by Paul Ginsburg at the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) in Washington find that this standard is fueling a de facto medical arms race, a competition that, perversely, increases health-care costs. Competition is not supposed to do that, but in the topsy-turvy U.S. health economy, excess supply often induces demand.Hospital executives are responding to the assault of specialists by building and aggressively marketing profitable "service lines," like cancer, heart and brain centers. They're snapping up $1.4 million computed tomography (CT) scanners, which produce palpably detailed, 3-D pictures of bones and organs, and $2.2 million "high field" MRI machines that can watch the brain at work. The inflationary dynamic spawned by this expansion of health-care capacity exposes flaws in the payment system that sustains U.S. health care. Those flaws partly explain why Americans spend $2 trillion, or 16% of their GDP, for medical care, an outlay that's increasing roughly 7% annually.There are only about 130 specialty hospitals in the U.S., compared with some 5,000 community hospitals, but dozens more are in the works since Congress this summer lifted a three-year moratorium on Medicare payments to new specialty hospitals. These typically focus on orthopedic and cardiac surgeries--which account for more than half the profits of many hospitals--and most lack costly emergency rooms. As these and other doctor-owned facilities spread and tensions soar, hospitals are finding it harder to get specialists on call in their ERs, reports HSC researcher Dr. Robert Berenson in a study published on the Web this week by Health Affairs.Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs), which compete with hospital outpatient departments for procedures that don't require overnight stays, like colonoscopies and some joint surgeries, are hollowing out hospitals as well. There are almost 5,000 ASCs today, nearly twice as many as a decade ago. Four in five are at least partly owned by physicians, many in partnership with hospitals seeking to minimize losses. The number of imaging centers has climbed to 6,037, up from 4,159 in 2001, according to the data firm Verispan. The scanning machines are costly to maintain, but once those costs are covered, the machines mint money. "There's an intense market-share competition taking place between hospital outpatient departments and imaging centers," says John Donahue, chairman of National Imaging Associates, which manages radiology for insurers in 36 states. "This battle is under way in Florida, Texas and virtually every state in which we operate."Wichitans have had front- row seats to the war. In 1997, disgruntled cardiologists led by Dr. Gregory Duick approached Via Christi about establishing a heart hospital. "There was no grand conspiracy to make more dollars for doctors," says Duick. "It was fanned by frustration with the hospitals' inability to get things done and a lack of input from physicians on administration." When Via Christi declined, the doctors tapped local investors, and in 1999 opened the smartly designed, one-story Kansas Heart Hospital in a tony northeastern quadrant of town.Kansas Heart triggered a cascade. This quiet, airy city of 540,000 already had--besides Via Christi's hospitals--the Wesley Medical Center, part of the for-profit HCA chain. Wichita now has five doctor-owned hospitals as well, along with a dozen ASCs and at least 10 free-standing diagnostic imaging centers, eight of which have physician investors. (Via Christi has a share in four of them, as it does in one ASC and a specialty hospital.) "The fear that emergency rooms and cardiovascular programs would close at community hospitals," says Duick, "has not been borne out over seven years in Wichita."Money isn't the only motivator. Entrepreneurial physicians say they're tired of waiting for inefficiently scheduled hospital ORs to open up, that they're more productive and have better nursing support at their own facilities. Scott Barlow, CEO of the Central Utah Clinic in Provo, which runs an ASC, says that until the clinic bought its own imaging machines, patients had to wait up to 24 days to get a diagnostic scan at the nearby hospital. "This is about convenience, lower cost and higher quality," says Glen Tullman, CEO of Allscripts, an electronic-medical-records firm that works with ASCs and specialty hospitals. "Nobody in health care wants to be on the wrong side of that equation."But is the competition fair? Within two years after Galichia Heart Hospital opened in Wichita in 2001, Wesley's net revenues from its cardiovascular program plummeted from a notch above $18 million to roughly $2 million. In 2003 the Kansas Spine Hospital opened, and in a year Wesley's neurosurgery revenues dropped $8.8 million, to roughly $1 million. Via Christi cardiovascular surgeries declined from 4,334 in 1998 to an estimated 2,950 this year. In that period, its executives say, the number of nonsurgically treated cardiac patients--who, say, have heart failure--remained relatively steady, around 4,300.This matters, as Medicare reimburses most surgeries above the cost of care and nonsurgical treatments at lower rates, sometimes below cost. Hospitals make up the losses--and those from treating the uninsured--largely with profits from surgeries. They also hike the prices they charge insurers and employers, who give hospitals a 22% margin, according to researchers at the Lewin Group, a consultancy, helping cover overall losses of 5% or more from Medicare and Medicaid. That comes back to the rest of us as higher insurance premiums, making health care all the more costly to employers.Physician-owned facilities do less charity care and treat fewer Medicaid patients than community hospitals do, government research shows. And they treat healthier (hence more profitable) patients, or--as in the case of heart hospitals--favor well-remunerated treatments. Not surprisingly, doctors who own a piece of the action are more likely to send patients to their own facilities.The shift of patients can be devastating. Regionally owned Lincoln General Hospital in Ruston, La., lost about $2.5 million in business a year to imaging centers and an ASC, but was managing to stay afloat, according to CEO Tom Stone. Then, in 2003, the 40 physicians who ran the ASC opened the Green Clinic Surgical Hospital. Lincoln's inpatient and ambulatory surgeries halved, and by 2005 the hospital was $8 million in the red. "They've gone beyond cherry-picking," says Stone. "They've removed virtually everything they could take out of this facility." He is selling the hospital to a for-profit chain.Green Clinic's CEO, Robert Goodwill, says Lincoln just screwed up. Its board declined an offer to invest in the specialty hospital, he says, and the hospital's losses stem from a "spending binge" Stone began in his attempt to compete. "Patients are choosing us because we're vastly superior," Goodwill says. But hospital bosses say this choice isn't a real one. "You're not going to disagree with the guy who's going to be cuttin' on you," says John Goodnow, CEO of Benefis Healthcare, a hospital system in Great Falls, Mont., that tried unsuccessfully to shut down a specialty hospital opened by half the city's doctors. "You can say patients have choice. Yes, theoretically. But c'mon, who's going to go against their own physician?"Hospitals are fighting back in none-too-subtle ways. Some won't let an ASC physician-investor admit patients in their wards. And powerful health systems often use their leverage to lock physician-owned competitors out of preferred networks of insurers. Via Christi owns Kansas' largest managed-care plan; Wesley has an exclusive contract in Wichita with the state's leading insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield. "It's brutal competition," says David Laird, CEO of the Heart Hospital of Austin, which competes with the Texas nonprofit Seton Medical Center. "They act like they have a halo over their heads."Such competition is fueling the arms race. Via Christi is counterattacking with a new neuromedicine service line. The weapons: a 64-slice CT scanner; and a brand-new $3.5 million CyberKnife, an X-ray gun that zaps tumors with pinpoint precision, housed in its own $1.5 million building. It has set up a stroke-treatment center and brain-aneurysm lab. "This is one of the areas that we've beefed up since all the specialty stuff happened," says Larry Schumacher, CEO of Via Christi's Wichita operations. "We're trying very hard to protect that." Wesley, for its part, has remodeled its operating rooms, opened a $54 million, four-story critical-care building and invested in its own gadgetry. "We compete on technology and have to stay state of the art," says Francie Ekengren, chief medical officer.And if they build it, we'll fill it. The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission found that health-care markets with specialty hospitals have roughly 6% more cardiac surgeries and 9% more bypasses than markets without them. It's not that doctors deliberately push unnecessary surgery, but when a choice of treatments exists, capacity and monetary incentives have been known to influence the choices physicians make.Nowhere is this more apparent than in diagnostic imaging. Last year Americans spent more than $100 billion on outpatient scans. Medicare's imaging costs have been growing 16% a year, much faster than the 9.6% rise for all physician services. The most lucrative--MRI and CT--climbed 25% last year. A third of the testing, says Donahue of National Imaging, is inappropriate; doctors order unnecessary scans, or two when one would suffice. "This is one of the most unsavory and concerning areas of how imaging is delivered," he says. "It's when imaging studies are not based upon clinical needs but on entrepreneurial requirements." Much of the growth is coming from cardiologists and orthopedists, who increasingly own such devices. It angers radiologists, who rely on referrals, and even imaging-center executives. "There should be some relief on the physician self-referral problem," says Bret Jorgensen, CEO of the chain InSight Health. "It's the single biggest reason imaging centers have been growing so rapidly." Physicians say much of the supposedly excessive testing is defensive. "If you fail to do a test and there's a bad outcome," says Dr. Kim Allan Williams, a nuclear cardiologist at the University of Chicago, "you will get sued in this country."Congress and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have taken steps to rein in imaging. Beginning next year, imaging centers will see payment cuts that the industry and its manufacturing allies--GE, Siemens, Phillips--say will reduce some payments to 20% of the cost of doing them. To level the specialty-hospital playing field, CMS will pay hospitals more for their more complex cases. Similarly it proposes to pay ASCs at 62% the rate of hospital outpatient departments. The industry is asking for 75%. Lobbyists are racing to the scene.Though these changes are probably a step in the right direction, they do not directly address the problem of physician self-referral--or the distorted economics that underpin the rise of specialty facilities. Next year Medicare will pay physicians more for the time they spend on their patients' well-being, but, HSC researcher Dr. Hoangmai Pham notes, it still rewards them far more generously for procedures than for cognitive services like diagnosis and management of disease. So Wichita, which 15 years ago had seven psychiatric inpatient facilities, now has one, run by Via Christi. It has six that do heart surgeries.Further, since physicians get paid through fee-for-service rather than, say, for curing their patients, their primary incentive is to do more stuff. CMS is starting to experiment with pay-for-performance programs that address this concern. But such measures can work only if they are remunerative enough to counter the base incentives that drive excess care. "A few pennies here and there is not going to change what physicians do every day," says Pham. "They're not stupid, and they have business managers."And political clout. As do the manufacturers of medical technology. So creating a payment system that makes competition work as it ought to--reducing costs rather than inflating them--won't be easy. But the same can be said for living in a society that can't afford its sick and dying.With reporting by With reporting by Pat Dawson/Billings, Hilary Hylton/Austin
'Thirty years — it's just time' Outgoing register of deeds looks back on long career By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle StaffThe Berkshire Eagle Article Launched: Monday, December 04, 2006PITTSFIELD — The way Mary O'Brien sees it, she's had two careers.There were the 23 years she took to raise her six daughters, followed by the 30 years she has spent as Middle Berkshire register of deeds.That second career comes to an end next month, when O'Brien, 73, is replaced by outgoing state Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr.O'Brien decided not to seek re-election in November after having served five six-year terms."Thirty years — it's just time for me," she said during a recent interview at her office in the Berkshire Probate Court Building on Bank Row. "I feel as though I've accomplished what I wanted to do."More time with familyShe plans to spend more time with her eight grandchildren and to travel with her husband of 51 years, Robert, a retired building contractor. She also intends to continue her activities with the Democratic Party on the state and local levels and with WHEN (Women Helping Empower Neighborhoods), the political action group she helped found four years ago."I feel that I would like to have time to myself that isn't strictly measured by the demands of the office, which I've enjoyed immensely," O'Brien said. "I've enjoyed my career here."One of her proudest accomplishments during her tenure is placing all the real estate deeds at the registry into a computer system that can now be accessed online. She said the registry received between 7,000 and 9,000 deeds a year when she first took office. It currently processes between 25,000 and 36,000 on an annual basis.Long term no exceptionLong terms as the register of deeds in the Middle Berkshire District have been the norm rather than the exception since the district was first established in 1784. Only 11 people have served in the position since 1790 (O'Brien is the only woman). She is only the fourth person to serve in the position since 1881.O'Brien's 30-year term in office is the third longest in the elected position's history behind Joseph Tucker's 46 years (1801 to 1847) and Henry M. Pitt's 41 years (1881 to 1922). Her predecessor, the late Harold F. "Cy" Goggins, who served from 1950 to 1976, was noted for having never lost an election in a 51-year political career that began in 1925.But unlike her predecessor and successor, O'Brien had never run for a political office before she announced her candidacy for the Democratic Party's nomination for the office in July 1976.Her six daughters, each born one year apart, were entering college, and O'Brien was looking for ways to provide extra income for her family."We had four children in college for several years," O'Brien said. "I had idle time on my hands, and we frankly needed the money. Putting that many children through college was an expensive proposition even then."Goggins, who was 76 when he announced his retirement, was leaving office, and the register of deeds seemed to fit O'Brien's needs. A medical secretary before she married, she also had been involved in running numerous community activities, including church bazaars and Girl Scout camps, which made her comfortable with running things.She had some political experience, but it had been limited to working for the Ward 4 Democratic Committee and holding coffee hours for political candidates."Traditional women things," she said."I was sitting out with a bunch of friends at the Girls' Club — we were raising money for something — and I thought, 'Gee, I could do that,' " O'Brien said. "And they all said 'Why don't you?' And that sort of spurred me to make the decision to run."In the Democratic primary, O'Brien faced the ubiquitous Peter G. Arlos, who then held the dual roles of county commissioner and city councilor; Pittsfield businessman Anthony M. Sacchetti; and Joseph T. DelGallo, a state tax examiner.According to Eagle files, Arlos said he would give up his salary as county commissioner if elected. He wanted to serve as register until running for mayor. There were rumblings that the state Division of Elections considered Arlos' intentions to serve as county commissioner and register of deeds a violation of the state's conflict of interest law, but Arlos disagreed.All three primary candidates criticized Arlos' intentions, but O'Brien created the most buzz, labeling Arlos a "triple dipper" into taxpayers' money for intending to hold three political offices simultaneously."It made people laugh," O'Brien said, referring to that comment. "And, at the same time, put the point out that he was attempting to bite off more than he could chew, you could say."Her comment paid off at the polls. O'Brien won the primary with 5,048 votes, almost 3,000 more than Arlos, who finished third among the four candidates. She then defeated the Republican candidate, Pittsfield lawyer Paul Abkowitz, in the general election to win her first six-year term.O'Brien said growing up as one of seven siblings, who she said are all opinionated, made her confident enough to go after Arlos in her first political campaign.She also has survived several clashes with the Board of County Commissioners, which oversaw the Registry of Deeds before county government was dissolved six years ago."That's my nature, I think," O'Brien said."I think I just tend to be straightforward, and I hope not offensive, but able to define the issue and speak to it, and that certainly was the issue there," O'Brien said, referring to her first election campaign."I wanted to make my case, and let my name be known to the public, and hope to do it in a way that wouldn't be offensive to people, but let them know that I was capable of doing the job and being assertive enough."You can't say aggressive if you're a woman," she laughed.Referring to her appearance, O'Brien said: "People see me as sort of a schoolteacher personality, but that's a great protection in many ways."O'Brien, one of Pittsfield's first female politicians, has served in a variety of political roles over the past 30 years. In 1978, she was named deputy coordinator of former Gov. Michael S. Dukakis' re-election campaign. Three years later, she was named to the state rules committee, which helps develop plans for the Democratic State Convention.In 1980, she was named a board member of the Women for Political Action Committee, a precursor of WHEN."It's really in retrospect that I've seen myself, in your word, as a pioneer," O'Brien said. "At times, it's been very difficult to be the only woman. Some men in politics simply don't acknowledge that you're on the same plane as they are."But O'Brien said she was fortunate to have her family to fall back on."I was very fortunate when I take a look (back) with some perspective to have been a married woman with a family and a place in the community, other than perhaps a much younger woman trying to enter public life," she said."I always had that solid who-I-am in the community," she added. "I think (people) still don't think of me as Mary the register of deeds. They think of me as Mrs. O'Brien."Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at (413) 496-6224.
Dear BERKSHIRE BLOGGERS, News Media, Politicians, & the People:Re: Rear-view mirror: Mother's death, long drive to Boston are part of Andrea Nuciforo's look back on 10 years as a state senator; Up next: a new job" (The Berkshire Eagle, 12/20/2006): WHAT UTTER PROPAGANDA! Nuciforo is the WORST politician to ever be "elected" to any and all political offices. WHY? Because Nuciforo has made a MOCKERY out of our democratic institutions of government be CORRUPTING everything in government to fit his own perverse economic incentives, pathetic political career, and his trivial Pittsfield Political Machine that will NEVER get him elected to the United States Congress!Nuciforo was elected to Berkshire State Senator in 1996 after Jane Swift vacated this seat to oppose John Olver for U.S. Congress. During his first 2 years in office: 1997 and 1998, Nuciforo worked to abolish Berkshire County Government -- a hostile takeover that placed all of the county's assets under the Secretary of State's Office while putting all of the LIABILITIES onto the municipalities. As my father was an elected Berkshire County Commissioner who dissented against Nuciforo's deficient leadership, Nuciforo retaliated against my dad by filing a complaint to the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission against my dad to get him (a) fired from my dad's state courthouse job, and (b) fired from my dad's County Commissioner job. In the same time framework of the Spring of 1998, Nuciforo set up secretive plans with the Pittsfield Police Department to have my dad's son -- me -- arrested by Nuciforo filing false reports to the local police that I was threatening him. To the contrary, it was Nuciforo who had threatened me twice before he filed his complaints to have me arrested. Nuciforo's intent was to have me sent to the Berkshire County Jail where his best political friend Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr., would have seen to it that I would have been abused by his Jailer Staff and inmate population. Fortunately, good people stood up against Nuciforo and for both my dad and his son -- me -- and we were spared the worst of Nuciforo's political persecutions.From 1999 through 2006, Nuciforo became known to the people of Berkshire County as a Boston Pol, Pittsfield Machine Politician, and a heavy-handed authority figure who was a legal bully by using "the strong arm of the state" against people who dissented against his ever growing corruption in political office.In 2001, Nuciforo used his Pittsfield Political Machine to place his former-state Senate aide Sara Hathaway as Mayor of Pittsfield. This was one of the worst mistakes Nuciforo ever made. During Hathaway's 2 years as Mayor, Pittsfield's crime-rate, especially murders, went up, as well as the ballooning property tax rates. Mayor Sara Hathaway proved to be Nuciforo's operator, as she was criticized for being a cheerleader for Tom Birmingham's failed run for Governor in 2002.As time went on, Pittsfield Mayor Jim Ruberto promised the people that he would change Pittsfield by giving the city back to the people. But, Ruberto then caved to Nuciforo's political power and the good things happening in Pittsfield were all falsely credited to Nuciforo's leadership on Beacon Hill.As for Nuciforo's leadership on Beacon Hill, he (a) illegally served as a private corporate banking and insurance company attorney for "Berman & Dowell" in Boston while Chairing the state Senate's Financial Committees regulating these same companies -- IN VIOLATION OF THE STATE'S CONFLICT OF INTEREST LAWS! (b) overruled the will of the people by opposing Clean Elections while taking in record levels of campaign contributions from special interest Boston area financial institutions. (c) Supported or voted for 3 legislative pay raises during the 3 straight years of state budget cuts to municipalities from FY02 - FY04. (d) The list goes on and on ...THIS YEAR, Nuciforo strong-armed 2 women candidates out of the Pittsfield Register of Deed race and then ran unopposed for that "elected" political office. In closing, if Nuciforo ever runs for U.S. Congress, I, Jonathan A. Melle, will oppose his candidacy with all of my heart. I will keep the "Anti-Nuciforo Blog page" filled with his terrible antics and deficient public policy record. Nuciforo will always hear from me. Best yet, Nuciforo's Congressional opponents will benefit greatly by my voice of dissent against the awful reign of Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. in local, state, and possibly federal "elected" politics!I will always oppose Nuciforo's political career!-Jonathan A. Melle-----------Rear-view mirrorMother's death, long drive to Boston are part of Andrea Nuciforo's look back on 10 years as a state senator. Up next: a new job.By Jack Dew, Staff,The Berkshire Eagle Article Launched: 12/20/2006 Wednesday, December 20, 2006For state Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., the political was never as tough as the personal.Looking back on his 10 years representing the Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin Senate district in Boston, Nuciforo said the scrappy politics on Beacon Hill never fazed him.Not health-care reform. Not the fight to keep auto insurance under the state's control. Not the struggle to clean up pollution in Pittsfield. Instead, he said, his hardest time came when his mother died just 17 days after he won his first term in November 1996."I remember how much advice she had given me throughout the campaign," he said. "Her first piece of advice was, that if I was going to be a state senator, I had to look like one. I wore a jacket and tie every day from that moment on."Nuciforo, 42, delivered his farewell address last week and will officially leave his fifth term in the Legislature on Jan. 2. The next day, his replacement, Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, will be sworn in.A good time to leaveNuciforo announced his decision in March. In November, the Pittsfield Democrat was elected as the Middle Berkshire register of deeds, a job that will pay him more than $80,000 a year — a raise from his current salary of about $70,000 — and allow him to practice law on the side. He will take over the deeds office on Jan. 3, replacing Mary K. O'Brien, who is retiring.While Nuciforo hasn't ruled out running for U.S. Congress some day, there is no doubt that life will become simpler for him. In the deeds office, he'll be responsible for recording the property transfers of 12 communities, instead of representing the interests of roughly 160,000 residents in the 48 cities and towns of the state's largest Senate district. His commute to work will be four miles on city streets, rather than 130 on the Massachusetts Turnpike, the longest trip for any member of the Senate."Ten years in the Senate is enough," he said. "Certainly, 10 years on the Pike is enough."When I came to the Senate, I never intended to stay for my whole career. I came here to serve, I came here to make whatever contribution I could make to the city of Pittsfield and to the Berkshire community generally. But I also intended, after some point, to go about my personal and professional life. Now was a good time to do that."In the deeds office, Nuciforo said he'll look forward "to continuing public service with a more local flavor." "Over the last 10 years, the issues of rural development and suburban sprawl have been very much on the front burner," he said. "I would like to see a greater focus on smart growth and community preservation principles."Growing districtNuciforo's uncle, Thomas C. Wojtkowski, was a state representative from 1954 to 1972. He made the trip to Beacon Hill with Nuciforo's father, who served in the Senate from 1964 to 1973 and died in 1994.Back then, Berkshire County was represented by two senators. Now, the district includes all of the Berkshires and slices of Hampshire and Franklin counties."I think you just get burned out," Wojtkowski said. "There comes a point where you just tire out. It's a huge district, a lot bigger than it was when his father started, and it's an awful lot of work."In his final year in office, Nuciforo watched some of his most cherished projects come to fruition.In Pittsfield, the Colonial Theatre opened, representing a major piece of the downtown rejuvenation. Nuciforo had secured $2.5 million in state funds for the project in 1997, when the money was needed to help convince a doubting public that the $21.6 million restoration was possible.Also during his final year, the state passed a sweeping health-care reform law that will require every Massachusetts resident to have health insurance. Nuciforo helped craft the health insurance connector, a new state agency that will pair residents with affordable and adequate health plans.Throughout his decade in office, Nuciforo rose in seniority, becoming chairman of the influential Financial Services Committee. That seat put him in the middle as insurance companies battled over whether the state should join the rest of the country and give up its price-control system that determines what insurers can charge drivers. The fight eased when insurance rates dropped and the public seemed to lose interest in reform.As an opponent of opening the market, Nuciforo sided with consumer organizations such as the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MassPIRG) in arguing that state controls were essential to protecting consumers."I happen to believe that if we have a state law that requires every motorist to buy auto insurance, we have an obligation to make it affordable for everyone," he said.Insurance companies lobbying for change will be happy to see Nuciforo go. Jim Harrington, executive director of the Massachusetts Insurance Federation, said he hopes the next financial services chairman "is more objective when it comes to issues of auto insurance reform."Cool amid the heatThe Statehouse is never short on battles, but even when Nuciforo was at the center of the insurance fight and his office phone was jammed with calls from constituents, he never appeared ruffled. He also kept his cool in 2002, when droves of supporters blasted him for his opposition to the Clean Elections law, which would have reformed the campaign finance system by using public dollars to fund campaigns."Politics is a contact sport, and there is a certain rough-and-tumble that comes with serving in the Senate," Nuciforo said. "I took a lot of heat on a lot of issues: seat belts, Clean Elections, gay marriage, the various permutations of the abortion question, the death penalty, just to name a few."Through it all, Nuciforo has maintained his placid exterior. Wojtkowski, his uncle, said he inherited it from his parents."His mother and father were very laid-back people ... and he was brought up in that kind of peaceful atmosphere," Wojtkowski said. "He was always a very, very people-oriented person, and that is what politics is all about: people."Environmental advocateAs the senator from the state's most rural region, Nuciforo was a champion of environmental causes and state parks. He was the first and, to this point, the only elected official to call for the removal of a PCB dump that sits next to a Pittsfield elementary school.In 2005, he was named the Environmental League of Massachusetts' "Legislator of the Year.""He understands environmental issues. He cares about them, he understands how they affect constituents," said Megan Amundson, the league's legislative director. "He uses the state parks, he knows about the problems that exist there, and he was a great messenger on these issues. Because of that, we have seen large (funding) increases in our parks agency."Senate President Robert E. Travaglini, D-Boston, said he is sad to see Nuciforo go."He brought a significant amount of revenue to downtown Pittsfield," Travaglini said. "He convinced many investors it was a worthwhile commitment." Sen. Steven Panagiotakos, D-Lowell, said Nuciforo was undaunted by the task of serving such a large geographical area."He has more cities and towns to represent than anyone else, and being accountable and accessible to them is a yeoman's task for a legislator. He did it well," Panagiotakos said. "He'll be missed." Nuciforo's replacement — Downing — enters office pledging to work on economic development, health-care reform, and an improved educational system from pre-kindergarten through college.U.S. Congress? Nuciforo has long been considered a suitor for the congressional seat currently held by U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, who is 70 and might retire in the next few years.Political observers say there are too many questions surrounding that seat, and that Nuciforo can't be certain that a congressional run is in his future.Olver just won re-election to a two-year term and, with the Democrats in control, he might run again in 2008. Meanwhile, the state could lose a congressional seat after the 2010 census, which could add the Berkshires to the district already represented by U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, who is a 10-term incumbent."I'm not aware of any vacancy in the office of the First Congressional District," Nuciforo said when asked about his plans. "But I certainly won't rule any future opportunities out."CAPTION #1 -NOW Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. holds a book of Massachusetts legislators, opened to the page with his father's biography, as he delivers his farewell speech to the Senate in Boston, last Thursday,. The book was given to Nuciforo by a statehouse security guard on the legislator's first day in office. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds) CAPTION #2 -THEN Nuciforo campaigns with volunteer Joe Engwer in 1996, before being elected to the Senate for the first of his five terms. Photo by Ben Garver / Berkshire Eagle Staff CAPTION #3 -Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. Age: 42.Residence: Pittsfield.Marital status: Single.Born: 1964 in Pittsfield.Education: Taconic High School, 1982 graduate; University of Massachusetts at Amherst, bachelor's degree in English, 1986; Boston University, law degree, 1989.Experience: Elected to state Senate in 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004. Elected to Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds in 2006.
Dear Dan, Alan & Deval:Every Saturday, I love to read Alan's political column in the Berkshire Eagle. He always get me thinking about new perspectives in politics. I often wonder why Alan wasn't a more high profile figure in politics than he is in the expansive Capital Region N.Y. State area that encompasses most of Western Massachusetts and limited points north & south. The fascinating part of Albany, New York and the surrounding rural region is that there is absolutely no economic opportunity for a family to be self-sufficient without piggybacking on a powerful politician or businessman. In other words, you are either an insider or an outsider. You don't have the anonymity of living in New York City or San Francisco; moreover, everyone knows everything about you and when you dissent or struggle, the insiders paint you in the worst possible light. Alas, that is the sorry story of me: Jonathan A. Melle.While I moved away from the Pittsfield area on April 7, 2004 and became a resident of New Hampshire, I am now a full fledged outsider -- both politically or economically, and physically or geographically. I have listened to the false rumors and slander spread around the Pittsfield area about me, most notably by the Gold-Digger named Denis E. Guyer, and I know that I am not welcomed back to the Berkshires ever again. I say, "Good Riddance!" So now, as the outsider, I read about local events on the Internet and read about Dan & Deval's political networking from Beacon Hill to the Berkshire Hills. I read Alan's praises for many of the same Beacon Hill insiders who have done much more harm than good to the fiscally constrained communities of Western Massachusetts. I find that the insider view of Massachusetts Politics whitewashes the truth about what it is like to be self-sufficient in these parts that, in truth and reality, get the shaft or short end of the stick.Dan, Deval, Alan: You guys are INSIDERS! I share many of the same political views and wishes that you three all collectively share, but I am an OUTSIDER! I am a working poor, uninsured, mocked, slandered, lonely, disadvantaged, exploited 31 year old man who sees both your cozy world and my cruel one as it really and truly is. You guys have high incomes, in some cases wealth (which always is in small pockets -- get the pun?), healthcare insurance, dental insurance, pension plans, and the like. Dan, Deval, Alan, you guys are the exception to the rule for the people of Western Massachusetts, the nation and especially the world whereby over 1/2 of the over 6 Billion inhabitants lives in absolute poverty, fear and isolation. You know what -- Dan, Deval, Alan -- I would rather be the most powerless, poorest, fearful and isolated man with a good heart than sell my soul for false pretenses and "insider" statuses. Someday, I am going to be more than all three of you phonies put together! Someday, I am going to be the President of the United States of America and when I am president, I am going to represent the 6 year old homeless child way before the $6 Billion American CEO.I am going to upset all 3 of you insiders right now, and I am proud to do so. I sent out "Holiday" cards to you (except Deval) -- either in past or this year -- and you did not even respond to me because I am marginalized in your "Ivory Tower" eyes. The reason why I am going to upset you is because your only response to me is SILENCE. Well, Dan, Alan & Deval, I WILL ALWAYS SPEAK MY GOOD CONSCIENCE FOR AS LONG AS I LIVE! In the face of SILENCE, I will still speak! What you are doing is WRONG! You have allowed SPECIAL INTERESTS to write a "universal" healthcare policy that is NOT Single Payer, which is the most economically efficient, and now over the next several years, many more Western Massachusetts communities will go BANKRUPT -- which is NOT "Economic Development, but the very opposite of building local economies -- due to NUCIFORO and the like's perverse economic incentives to allow the commonwealth to subsidize the Boston area's big insurance companies' HMO plans to the working poor without any way for the commonwealth to pay for this reckless program!I have written about this ad nauseum, and I do NOT receive a response from ALAN CHARTOCK, DAN BOSLEY, and/or DEVAL PATRICK! Why? Because they are all so elite and inside that their collective political interests do not concern the working poor residents living in these Western Massachusetts' financially constrained communities. Indeed, if I was working for the commonwealth or one of her political subdivisions, DAN BOSLEY would now have my head on a silver platter -- meaning I would be fired within a heartbeat of "Bos'" power brokering "visible hand." Next year, Governor DEVAL PATRICK has to implement a healthcare program that will cause the state to cut state aid to cities and towns for so many consecutive coming years that the communities that "Bos" will be approving grant and other appropriations to will be economically forced into bankruptcies! THERE IS NO FUNDING MECHANISM and/or WAY FOR THE COMMONWEALTH TO PAY FOR THIS PROGRAM that is nothing more than a GIVEAWAY TO THE BOSTON AREA INSURANCE COMPANIES that have made NUCIFORO (who has for many years now privately and illegally represented as Boston Attorney for the "Berman & Dowell" law firm on Commercial Street that privately represents the same Boston area big banks, insurance companies and other financial giants that will benefit greatly from this aforementioned SCAM "universal" healthcare program) and the like rich with special interest campaign donations.In Nuciforo's case, he is going to run for United States Congress sometime within the next ten years by SCAMMING the COMMONWEALTH and her political subdivisions out of billions of U.S. Dollars while taking in the Boston area insurance companies excesses for doing their dirty work on "universal" healthcare and stopping the auto insurance reform measures. While Massachusetts will cut back on funding for Western Massachusetts because Dan, Alan and Deval are to insulated as INSIDERS from stopping CORRUPTION and standing up for what is right and just, Pols like Nuciforo will step in with insincerity and say the only way to fix this mess is with "Single Payer." When they do this, OUTSIDERS such as myself will as ALAN, DAN & DEVAL: WELL? INSTEAD OF GOVERNOR DEVAL PATRICK IMPLEMENTING THIS INSURANCE COMPANY GIVEAWAY IN 2007, and doing what was right for Western Massachusetts in the first place, WHY DIDN'T HE ABOLISH THIS SCAM PROGRAM WRITTEN BY SPECIAL INTEREST BEACON HILL POLS such as Nuciforo, et al, in the first place, and then pass and implement a SINGLE PAYER health insurance program in 2007? The answer will be that the Boston area insurance companies' LOBBYISTS (such as the likes of Peter J. Larkin -- who also and already BANKRUPTED Springfield, Massachusetts in the Summer of 2003 but the threw some free laptop computers at public school children in Pittsfield & North Adams as his payoff) that wrote the flawed 2006 "universal" healthcare law will be so wealthy that they can then find ways to mitigate their risks in helping the state to be the sole provider of healthcare insurance to all of Massachusetts residents. In the end, Boston Pols like Nuciforo will then be in Congress mocking the "Halliburton-styled" pork and greed by calling for a Single Payer healthcare system for both Massachusetts and the nation.In conclusion, although I am an OUTSIDER, I am more intelligent and courageous than ALAN CHARTOCK, DAN BOSLEY AND DEVAL PATRICK. All that Alan, Dan & Deval are doing is giving the people an INSIDER view of the political or economic world that most people don't really and truly live in. I will always be there for the people of the United States of America and the CITIZENS of the World. Someday, I will be a future President of the United States of America, and when I am, real reforms, compassionate programs and economic development policies will take the place of these INSIDER propaganda and substandard governmental policies We the People are being forced fed by these types of idiotic and self-serving corporate and governmental power brokers. When I am powerful, I will serve all of God's Children with an expansive view of understanding and empowerment. Nothing will ever shut me up! I don't care if Dan & Deval ignore me, or Alan gets upset with me because I AM AN AMERICAN CITIZEN WITH U.S. CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS AND CIVIL LIBERTIES AND I WILL ALWAYS BE THERE FOR THE PEOPLE AND SPEAKING MY GOOD CONSCIENCE AS LONG AS I LIVE! GIVE JONATHAN ALAN MELLE LIBERTY OR GIVE JONATHAN ALAN MELLE DEATH!GOD BLESS YOU ALL! Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays, and please have a prosperous and Happy New Year!Love for All,Jonathan A. Melle
LIAR...Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., D-Pittsfield, ...Income: $70,570**Does NOT include his unreported income and illegal work as a private Attorney for Boston area big banks & insurace agencies for the Boston Law Firm "Berman & Dowell."Source: N.A. Transcript, 12/26/2006.
Sign-up push is on for health coverageSweeping state law gets a major testBy Jeffrey Krasner, [The Boston] Globe StaffDecember 29, 2006The state's landmark law to broaden healthcare coverage is about to face its biggest challenge: persuading about 100,000 uninsured Massachusetts residents to sign up for health insurance and pay part of the bill.Starting Tuesday, individuals who earn between $9,804 and $29,412 annually can purchase subsidized health insurance called Commonwealth Care. Those who don't do so by July 1 will face penalties, including the loss of their personal state income tax deduction.But getting them to pay for health coverage poses a marketing challenge for the four health plans that have exclusive rights to sell the subsidized insurance for three years under the law that was enacted in April. To entice residents to sign up, insurers are rolling out an advertising campaign that includes billboards and radio spots. They are also offering incentives such as gift cards to Target and Wal-Mart , discounts for Pilates and yoga classes, and reimbursement for Weight Watchers membership. And the state is planning to supplement the advertising with its own educational and outreach programs.Lower-income residents' monthly premiums will depend on their income. Many low-wage earners have gotten by for years without insurance, relying instead on walk-in clinics and free emergency-room care. They may not want to pay for something that they have received at no cost."That will create a formidable marketing challenge for the four plans to explain this new program. It needs to be explained on an individual basis," said John E. McDonough , executive director of Health Care For All, an advocacy group that played a key role in shaping healthcare reform.The plans selling the subsidized insurance are HealthNet, part of Boston Medical Center; Neighborhood Health Plan, which focuses on community health centers in the Boston region; Network Health, part of Cambridge Health Alliance, a regional system that serves low-income residents; and Fallon Community Health Plan, an HMO that is strongest in Worcester and surrounding communities. The basic elements of the plans are determined by the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, which is overseeing implementation. The state has contact information for about 73,000 of the uninsured residents because they have previously received free care from hospitals or other providers. The Connector will mail letters to them over nine weeks starting Tuesday, informing them of the program and urging them to choose a plan.Each insurer is required to offer three levels of coverage with the same mandated benefits. The least expensive level is for residents at the lower end of the income range and includes copayments of $10 or less for visits to doctors , $50 copays for hospital stays, and comprehensive prescription drug coverage. Other benefits of the basic package include ambulance service, comprehensive care for mental health and substance abuse, rehabilitation services for a variety of diseases, and free eyeglasses every two years."These plans are equivalent to anything you'd get in the commercial world," said Melissa Boudreault , director of Commonwealth Care for the connector.Two more expensive subsidized plans are for residents with higher incomes. They provide the same benefits, but have additional out-of-pocket expenses.Monthly premiums for those in the lowest income bracket range from $18 to $58, depending on which insurer they choose. Subscribers whose income is near the top of the subsidized-plan range will pay from $70 to $180 monthly. Family coverage is also available under the subsidized plans. For example, a family of four would qualify if its annual income is between $20,004 and $60,012.The plans have already started promoting the new insurance. HealthNet has paid for billboard, bus, print, television, and radio advertising. In addition to traditional advertising, Network Health is working with community groups and charities, and reaching out to doctors who treat uninsured patients."You have a real challenge telling people who aren't insured what coverage is and why you should pay every single month even if you're not sick," said John Cragin , senior director of Commonwealth Care for Boston Medical Center/HealthNet. "But you're also trying to reach employees of companies that don't offer health insurance and part-timers earning between $20,000 and $30,000 who don't qualify for benefits."Ultimately, the threat of penalties could make the difference in persuading many to sign up, said Michael Nickey , manager of Connector programs for Neighborhood Health Plan."These folks in general have a desire to be in the healthcare system," he said. "It's important to promote the importance of comprehensive healthcare. But if individuals don't have health insurance, there will be consequences to that, and it's an integral part of the law."Despite the state mandates, the plans will be able to compete on three fronts:The geographic networks of hospitals and clinics each provide. For instance, HealthNet has coverage throughout most of the state, while Fallon is mostly limited to central Massachusetts and some communities near Boston.Prices. For instance, the basic-level plan in Greater Boston will cost $18 a month through HealthNet, but $58 through Neighborhood Health Plan.Add-on health and wellness programs in all three levels of coverage.Plan officials emphasized aspects of their insurance that they say will win them customers."We're the only Commonwealth Care plan that's available throughout the Commonwealth," said Cragin.Deborah Enos , chief executive of Neighborhood Health Plan, said the insurer will provide its services largely through community health centers -- places where many potential members already go for care.At Network Health, executive director Christina Severin said her company will focus on value and low premiums. It has the lowest or second-lowest prices for all levels of coverage.Each plan is also striving to outdo the others by including features and programs that range from practical to gimmicky. Fallon will reimburse members up to $200 for health club memberships, Weight Watchers, yoga and Pilates classes, as well as offering chiropractic care.Neighborhood Health Plan will give members their choice of a $25 gift card to CVS, Target, Walgreen's, Wal-Mart, and other retailers when they visit a doctor for the first time, and they will receive a $25 Stop and Shop gift card after completing a health questionnaire. Network Health will also hand out a $25 gift card for an initial doctor's visit, and a $10 gift card to Brooks Pharmacy for diabetes patients who get screenings.The various strategies provide insight into the challenges of persuading low-income residents to start paying for health insurance."It's hard work," said Beth Helenius, Fallon's senior director of business and product development. "These people tend to wait until something is really wrong before they go to the doctor. It's going to take time before they take advantage of the benefits of being part of an insurance plan."Jon Kingsdale , executive director of the Connector, said health insurance can be a tough sell."We'll be very interested to see how many of the eligible population we can reach, how many are interested and how many buy," he said. "You cannot underestimate how many times you have to hit people with a message before they hear it and respond to it."But some are already encouraged by the initial response to the fully subsidized plans that went into effect in October and now cover about 29,000 residents of the estimated 47,000 whose annual incomes are below the federal poverty level."We've learned that it's really easy for people to critique the healthcare reform law," said Severin, of Network Health. "But we recently enrolled a 28-year-old who hadn't been to the doctor in 10 years. These people are thrilled with Commonwealth Care, and they think it's really meaningful to them."
Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo, D-Pittsfield, was at an event for outgoing Middle Berkshire Register of Deeds Mary O'Brien (whom he is replacing), and didn't vote at the joint session.Source: "Gay-marriage petition passes: Under pressure, lawmakers reluctantly OK amendment" (The North Adams Transcript Online, By Steve LeBlanc, Associated Press, Article Launched: 01/03/2007)------The son of the late Berkshire District Attorney Gerard D. Downing takes over the Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin district seat from Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., who left after 10 years to become Middle Berkshire County register of deeds."Politics is a people business. As you know, Ben has a very nice personality. He's likable and I think he'll do well in the Statehouse and the district," Nuciforo said of his successor. "If I had to give him advice, I'd say, understand that maintaining good relationships with the people you work with is of paramount importance. That's easy to say, but not always easy to do."Nuciforo was sworn in Wednesday as register of deeds and will be sworn in today as the official Land Court recorder for Berkshire County.He said he was excited about the new challenge and opportunity to continue his public service.Source: "In with the newDowning takes oath in Senate" (By Matt Murphy, [The N.A.] Transcript Statehouse Bureau, Article Launched: 01/04/2007)
Patrick doesn't reappoint insurance commissionerBy Bruce Mohl, Globe Staff | January 9, 2007The Patrick administration late yesterday sacked state Insurance Commissioner Julianne M. Bowler, signaling that the new governor may be moving in a different direction on insurance issues.Nicole St. Peter, a spokeswoman for the state Office of Consumer Affairs, which oversees the Division of Insurance and a host of other regulatory agencies, said Bowler had not been reappointed and deputy director Joseph Murphy would become acting insurance commissioner."She's the only one that has not been reappointed at this time at Consumer Affairs and its agencies," St. Peter said. "That's all the information I have."Efforts to reach Bowler were unsuccessful.Kyle Sullivan, a spokesman for Governor Deval L. Patrick, would say only: "Replacement of commissioners and directors at the start of a new administration is standard and expected."$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$The state insurance commissioner is one of relatively few government officials with the power to affect consumers directly by setting rates for auto insurance and regulating them for homeowner's and health insurance. Automobile insurers have been lobbying behind the scenes over Bowler, with some companies urging Patrick to keep her and others telling him to get rid of her.$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$Bowler and former Governor Mitt Romney had aggressively pushed for deregulation of the auto insurance business in Massachusetts and, last month, ordered the phased-in implementation of a new system for assigning to companies those drivers no insurer wants to cover.$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$Bowler's decision to move ahead with an assigned risk plan, in which as many as 1 million of the state's drivers would be randomly assigned to carriers based on market share, was...$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$...strongly opposed by several lawmakers... ...[i.e., NUCIFORO]...$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$...and insurers, who argued that such a radical change should have been put off until Patrick came into office and had time to evaluate it.$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$Patrick officials have been vague about their plans for insurance regulation, with the governor at one point last year saying he hoped to spur more competition within the existing system.$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$...Massachusetts is currently the only state in which regulators set all auto insurance rates. ...$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$...Bowler last month approved a major rate cut that will lower the statewide average auto insurance premium from $1,019 to $899 on April 1.
THE BOSTON GLOBENEWS ARTICLEEx-senator moving on insurance positionSix say Nuciforo sought adviceBy Frank Phillips, Globe Staff January 16, 2007Former state senator Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., who was sworn in two weeks ago as Berkshire County register of deeds, is already moving on to his next job search: a bid to become Governor Deval Patrick's commissioner of insurance.Nuciforo, who has been the Senate chairman of the committee that oversees the state's heavily regulated insurance industry, has told his former colleagues and politically connected figures on Beacon Hill that he wants the insurance post, which would pay about $120,000 a year. The move would require him to resign as register, which pays him about $80,000 a year but also permits him to practice law.Nuciforo, a Pittsfield Democrat, did not return calls over the last several days seeking comment. Nuciforo's former Senate aide, Patrick J. Quirk, said the senator would have no comment other than he would be "flattered" to be considered for a position in the Patrick administration.But six of his former Senate and political colleagues on Beacon Hill have told the Globe that he has sought their advice and help in seeking the insurance post.It is not clear what chance Nuciforo has in landing the position in the Patrick administration. A senior adviser to the governor said the former state senator probably would not get the position, although he may be granted an interview. Patrick's press secretary, Kyle Sullivan, said the administration does not comment on "pending personnel matters."Nuciforo's campaign to become insurance commissioner has confounded many of his former colleagues in the State House and stirred the political world in Pittsfield, where Nuciforo has been a popular state senator for 10 years.Last March, he shocked local political observers when he announced he would not seek reelection and instead run for the register of deeds position that was being vacated.Because he was a popular senator with a bulging campaign account, his presence in the campaign for register persuaded two other contestants, including a former Pittsfield mayor who once served as his aide, to drop out of the race. He ran unopposed in the primary and general election, taking over what is considered a political sinecure.Nuciforo, a 10-year incumbent whose final Senate term ended Jan. 2, was deeply involved in several controversial auto insurance reform proposals designed to change the way auto insurance is regulated in Massachusetts, including plans by several major firms and former governor Mitt Romney that sought to create a more competitive market.Nuciforo , the former Senate chairman of the Financial Services Committee, came out strongly against House legislation proposed last June that would have phased out state-set rates and phase in competitive rate setting over five years. He predicted that if it passed the House, the bill would be "dead on arrival" in the Senate, contending it was "consumer-unfriendly." He and other critics said it would sharply increase premiums for drivers in urban areas.Commerce Insurance Co., the state's largest auto insurer, has lobbied heavily against many of the proposals on Beacon Hill, contending that proposals to overhaul the system would raise rates for drivers in urban areas. Those opponents say the legislation would reduce subsidies that currently flow from suburban and rural drivers to urban motorists.Nuciforo collected $11,000 in political donations from Commerce executives in the last year. As his committee considered the bill last year, he also collected donations from insurance company executives who wanted more autonomy in setting rates. Massachusetts is the only state in which regulators set auto insurance rates.Patrick has yet to clearly outline his views on insurance reform, although during the campaign last year, he said he would like to see more competition.Nuciforo has focused his private law practice on insurance issues during the time he chaired the committee. He is listed as "of counsel" to Berman & Dowell, a Boston law firm that cites insurance defense as one of its three practice groups. He joined the firm the year he became committee chairman. Nuciforo's practice area is listed "insurance coverage" and "insurance defense , " according to the firm's website. That legal work entails defense work for insurance companies against claimants.According to the firm's promotional material, Joseph S. Berman, a partner, "leads the insurance defense group which provides clients with aggressive and cost-effective representation in a broad range of insurance matters, including insurance defense, coverage, and the defense of unfair insurance practices lawsuits."Berman said in an interview several months ago that Nuciforo does not refer insurance defense work to him or others in the firm.Nuciforo, who made $72,000 a year as a state senator, listed receiving $15,000 in income from the law firm in 2005, according to his latest financial statements filed with the State Ethics Committee.Last week, Patrick fired Julianne M. Bowler, Romney's insurance commissioner, who was implementing an assigned risk plan, in which as many as 1 million of the state's drivers would be randomly assigned to carriers based on market share. The plan marked a radical change from current policy.-----THE BERKSHIRE EAGLENEWS ARTICLENuciforo angles for state post Registry position exit would raise eyebrows By Jack Dew and Hillary Chabot, Berkshire Eagle Staff Wednesday, January 17, 2007PITTSFIELD — If former state Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. leaves his new job as Middle Berkshire register of deeds, it would create an opening in the county's best-paying elected office.The Boston Globe reported yesterday that six of Nuciforo's "former Senate and political colleagues" have said he is seeking a position as Gov. Deval L. Patrick's commissioner of insurance, a job that would pay $120,000 a year. The deeds position, meanwhile, pays $80,000 annually.The insurance commissioner's position would be a logical step from Nuciforo's role in the Senate, where he presided over the Financial Services Committee, which includes the state's insurance industry in its portfolio.Patrick's administration has not commented on The Globe's report, and Patrick spokesman Kyle Sullivan would not say whether Nuciforo is a candidate for the insurance post."We do not comment on pending personnel matters," Sullivan said.Nuciforo left the Senate in January after serving 10 years, saying he had never intended to spend his career on Beacon Hill and that a decade of commuting to Boston was enough.He was elected in November to replace the outgoing Middle Berkshire register, Mary K. O'Brien. But even before Nuciforo was sworn in to the six-year term, there were reports in Berkshire political circles that he would forgo that job for a post in the Patrick administration.Those same reports said Secretary of State William F. Galvin would appoint his friend and close political ally, Gerald S. Doyle Jr., to the deeds office. Doyle was Pittsfield's mayor from 1997 to 2001.Doyle said yesterday that he has had no conversations with Galvin about any such plans. If the job were offered, he said, he would "keep an open mind."According to the secretary of state's office, the deeds post would be filled by appointment until the next state election is held in 2008. The office did not comment on the Nuciforo situation.Nuciforo's departure would perpetuate the recent Berkshire political merry-go-round. The race for his seat drew a host of political veterans and newcomers, and was won by Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, in his first campaign for political office.Just as the dust from that race was settling, state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley announced he was stepping down from the Legislature to join Patrick's cabinet. Candidates had begun lining up for Bosley's seat when he changed his mind and said he would stay in the Statehouse.Bosley said he wouldn't be surprised if Nuciforo were a candidate for the insurance commissioner's job."(Nuciforo) is a person who has more than a passing (interest) in this stuff," Bosley said. "If the governor calls you, you listen. And if they are looking for someone with expertise, they would at least look at him."Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, said he heard rumors as soon as Nuciforo was elected to the registry position that the former senator was lobbying for the insurance job.Other colleagues, such as Sen. Stephen Brewer, D-Barre, wouldn't say whether Nuciforo had discussed the position with them."Even if we did talk about it, I couldn't divulge that. I would never discuss a private conversation," Brewer said, adding that Nuciforo would be a perfect fit for the job. "I think the world of him. He's bright and he's fair and he'd make a great insurance commissioner."While in the Senate, Nuciforo was opposed to ending state control of auto insurance rates. That made him a friend of consumer organizations such as the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group and some insurance companies, and the enemy of insurers that want to see state control end.During the campaign and his first days in office, Patrick has been largely quiet on insurance. He did, however, cut loose the insurance commissioner who served under Gov. Mitt Romney, Julianne Bowler, who was seen by industry groups as supportive of ending state controls.-----THE BERKSHIRE EAGLEEDITORIALNuciforo should remain in Registry EditorialThe Berkshire Eagle Wednesday, January 17, 2007If former state senator and current Middle Berkshire Register of Deeds Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. is lobbying for appointment to the post of state commissioner of insurance, a Berkshire political silly season that appeared to have ended with Representative Daniel Bosley's decision not to take a position in the Patrick administration will continue. It would raise questions, among other things, about Mr. Nuciforo's interest in the register's job, to which he was just sworn in, and the future of a position that shouldn't be a political football.The Berkshire political rumor mill has buzzed with speculation of Mr. Nuciforo's interest in the position since shortly after the new year began, and a story on the speculated move ran in Tuesday's Boston Globe. Last week, Mr. Patrick fired former Governor Romney's insurance commissioner, Julianne M. Bowler, who was planning to implement a controversial assigned risk plan that would have randomly shifted a large portion of the state's drivers to different carriers based on market share. This suggests that Mr. Patrick is not interested in major reform, a position that would align him with Mr. Nuciforo.As Senate chairman of the Financial Services Committee, Mr. Nuciforo was at the core of the heated debate over auto insurance reform. He was opposed to an ambitious House reform effort that would have instituted competitive rate setting over a five-year period, observing that declines in rates made change unnecessary. Auto insurance reform in Massachusetts, the only state in the union where rates are established by government, has always run into opposition from lawmakers and deep-pocketed insurers like Commerce who are happy with a heavily regulated system that works in their favor. Mr. Nuciforo's campaign till was fattened by contributions from insurance companies that both supported and opposed reform of auto insurance.Mr. Nuciforo surprised political observers when he decided to leave his secure Senate position after 10 years, and his interest in the open register of deeds position prompted two candidates, longtime registry employee Sharon Henault and former Pittsfield Mayor Sara Hathaway, Mr. Nuciforo's former chief of staff, to abandon their campaigns. Should, as has been speculated, controversial former Pittsfield Mayor Gerald S. Doyle be appointed by political ally Secretary of State William Galvin to fill the Registry position upon Mr. Nuciforo's departure, voters can be forgiven for assuming political hi-jinks were at work.Mr. Patrick can find plenty of prospective commissioners to maintain the state's costly, cumbersome auto insurance system, if that is what he truly wants. Mr. Nuciforo should remain in the job he was just elected to do.
January 17, 2007Dear News Media, Politicians, & the People: I cannot believe that Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. is not in jail for his illegal political corruption that The Boston Globe cited in their 1/16/07 news article titled, "Ex-senator moving on insurance position: Six say Nuciforo sought advice". The Boston Globe exposed Nuciforo to the entire New England region for his ILLEGAL CONFLICTS OF INTERESTS concerning his deficient public policy record chairing state committees regulating state insurance companies while at the same time serving these wealthy financial institutions as a private Attorney for the Boston Law Firm "Berman & Dowell"! Moreover, today The Berkshire Eagle had two articles --one news and the other opinion -- in reaction to the Globe's reporting on this matter and they did not even touch upon Berkshire County's most deplorable Pol's, Nuciforo's, illegal and corrupt activities in collusion with the state's insurance companies. HOW DARE THE EAGLE NOT DISCLOSE TO THEIR READERS THE TRUTH ABOUT NUCIFORO's DEFICIENT, CORRUPT AND ILLEGAL PUBLIC POLICY RECORD. On top of that, I called my dad last night to read to him the Globe's news article regarding Nuciforo's lobbying for the state's top insurance post in Deval L. Patrick's administration. Like many living in (or originally from in my family's case) Berkshire County, my dad seems to fear strong-arm hack Pols like Nuciforo (along with the rest of the Pittsfield area "Good Old Boy Network"). I don't understand why my dad fears anyone because I believe that if my dad would be the best U.S. President in the history of our free nation if he had that important political post. My dad is intelligent and believes in the precepts of human rights, Constitutional Law, and F.D.R.'s quote that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." After my dad shied away from the news, I reminded him that it was Nuciforo that attempted to get him fired from his state job in the Spring of 1998 and that if he would not have the state pension he collects today if Nuciforo had gotten the best of him. My dad then acquiesced and let me read him the news article about Nuciforo's misdeeds and attempting opportunistic power grab with Governor Deval L. Patrick. I then told my dad how both my dad and I have been through a lot together because of what Nuciforo tried to do to both of us -- as I, too, was a victim of Nuciforo's political PERSECUTIONS when Nuciforo set up secretive plans with the Pittsfield Police Department to have me arrested, also in the Spring of 1998, so that I would have been sent to his "Good Old Boy" political friend's, Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano's, Jail where the Sheriff would have saw to it that I would have been abused by both his Jailer Staff and inmate population. My dad's fear of the Pittsfield area's "Good Old Boy Network" then returned to him and he requested to me that I not comment on The Globe's reporting of Nuciforo's illegal political corruption. I apologize only to my father, Bob, for refusing his request. My reasons for commenting on this matter centers on the fact that I will never fear anyone in the great and free country that I am entitled to live freely in. In the political world, I take my citizenship very seriously. I believe that I may be a future President of the United States of America someday and that to be a good president for the American People, I must never fear anything but fear itself. Furthermore, I was born and raised in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and I looked into the eyes of social injustice, which I label the Pittsfield Political Machine run by the "Good Old Boys Network." Both my father and myself were victims of the daily political persecutions by Nuciforo and his pathetic network of both incompetent and "incestuously-related" (dangerously low genetic familial pool / inbred fourth-plus...generational) political friends. In conclusion, I both know and believe that Nuciforo is the most corrupt Pol in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts! I believe it is morally wrong for Nuciforo to show his true colors by stepping down from the Berkshire State Senate position after 10 terrible years on Beacon Hill in order to continue to do the bidding of the state's insurance companies and other wealthy financial institutions in and around the Boston area; (Similar to the political career of Massachusetts' U.S. Senator John Forbes Kerry). I don't give a damn if Cliff Nilan continues to call my dad, or Mayor Jim Ruberto blacklists me,...or the like. I will never fear Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. and / or Mayor John Barrett III either. I will never give into to Denis E. Guyer's vicious and hurtful rumors -- that are anti-semetic and otherwise racist and violent (like Adolf Hitler's character) -- that unfairly target me by making me look like the most criminal and disturbed person on the face of the Earth to the mostly innocent people of the Pittsfield area. Lastly, I believe Nuciforo was wrong to file a Kafka-esque Massachusetts State Ethics Commission complaint against my dad that would have economically force him into poverty while at the same time attempting to Jail his son (me) in the Spring of 1998; Moreover, I think Nuciforo was wrong to Chair State Legislative Financial Committees that regulate big banks and insurance companies while at the same time serving as a private Attorney representing these same wealthy financial entities for a private Boston Law Firm named "Berman & Dowell": Moreover, I believe Nuciforo was wrong for strong-arming two women Pittsfield candidates out of the 2006 Registry of Deeds elections via the "Good Old Boy Network" and his campaign coffer largesse from entrenched state insurance companies that are fighting auto insurance reform measures through corrupt Pols like Nuciforo; Moreover, I believe Nuciforo was wrong to take the oath of office for the Registry position while at the same time trying to grab for a powerful and top insurance post in the Deval L. Patrick Administration. All of this political maneuvering leads to Nuciforo building a political power base to become the next member of the United States House of Representatives either before or after the current Congressman from Western Massachusetts -- John W. Olver -- steps down from his elected post. Nuciforo will have so much money and political power that he will be able to outspend and outnetwork the rest of his political opponents, possibly including the current man serving in Nuciforo's desired political office on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The one thing Nuciforo has yet to factor in to his political equations is me: JONATHAN ALAN MELLE! I will always oppose Nuciforo's political career. And, I will always speak my good conscience for as long as I shall live! Give Jonathan A. Melle LIBERTY or Give me Death! I will always supply The Boston Globe with quality material against Nuciforo's illegal political corruption and deficient public policy record. Even with all of the money and power in the World, Nuciforo, et al, is no match for the outspoken voice of JONATHAN ALAN MELLE! Mark my words everyone: NUCIFORO WILL NEVER GET ELECTED TO THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS! John W. Olver and his successors will always have my help in defeating the most corrupt Pol in the commonwealth: Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. In truth, Jonathan A. Melle1/17/2007
Wednesday, 1/24/07Dear Jamie Cooney, News Media, Pols, & the People:Thank you for your letter of dissent against my letter last week (1/17) against Nuciforo's attempted power grab for the state's top insurance post in the Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick Administration. I am happy to receive dissenting views from my own opinions -- as I dissent against any and all Pols on a daily basis. That is what the United States of America is truly all about: The power of dissent when a citizen is not in concurrence with the governing, corporate and/or communal elite. As a working poor and isolated American citizen, I find myself shut out of governments, corporations and communities instead of represented by those in power. In short, I am but the governed by the governors. Yet, I still dissent and my voice is predictably silenced by the power brokers. Yet, I still dissent and encourage dissent by all people and peoples. SPEAK OUT! Be loud! Be heard! Rise up! Get mad! Get involved! Resist! Defy!...Gerry Doyle and Dracula Galvin are insiders very much like Luciforo, indeed. I would not be surprised if Luciforo sat down with Doyle and Galvin to secure Doyle Luciforo's sinecure seat as Pittsfield's Registrar of Deeds. Indeed, all that insider Pols do is take care of themselves while they may let working poor "assholes" like me "eat cake" if I am lucky enough to avoid their petty pitfalls, traps, and political persecutions. I also would not be surprised if U.S. Congressman John W. Olver retires after his Congressional District is redrawn. With Worcester and Springfield in the mix, communities such as Amherst, Northampton, Pittsfield, and the like, do not stand a snow ball's chance in hell at electing a native son or daughter to Capitol Hill. Ergo, Luciforo is going nowhere in his future bid for U.S. Congress unless he can unseat the current incumbent Congressman in the 2008 election via Luciforo's campaign coffer largesse from the commonwealth's entrenched insurance companies in and around the Boston area who have payed Luciforo for Luciforo's past, present and future illegal corruption in Massachusetts State Government. Olver would press his future challenger, Luciforo, on this matter -- that was reported by The Boston Globe on 1/16 -- and then Olver would easily defeat Luciforo and go on to his final 2-year term representing the good people of Western Massachusetts on Capitol Hill.Jaime Cooney: You are wrong about Luciforo's motivations. Luciforo is motivated to secure the commonwealth's top insurance post so that he can trounce Olver in 2008 by taking in double or triple the amount of campaign donations from the Boston area insurance companies when Luciforo challenges Olver in 2008. LUCIFORO's MOTIVATION IS TO OUT-SPEND and DEFEAT JOHN W. OLVER FOR U.S. CONGRESS in 2008 so that LUCIFORO CAN THEN HAVE THE UPPER HAND AGAINST THE POLs FROM SPRINGFIELD and WORCESTER in 2010 VIA LUCIFORO's ILLEGAL CORRUPTION and COLLUSION with the COMMONWEALTH's INSURANCE COMPANIES! That, my political friend, is why Luciforo is "slithering" back to Boston Politics in 2006: In order for Luciforo to then "slither" into Washington, D.C. Politics in 2008 & 2010! In short, Luciforo is just another human calculator, plotting his next 5 chess moves to gain political power in the future no matter who he marginalizes, screws over, brings down, ... In clarity, Luciforo has no conscience, only ambitions.In Pittsfield, Luciforo ends up as another political hack attack against good yet naive and innocent people with positive ideals for this working class community that is controlled by the political machine ran by the banal Good Old Boy Network: Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr., Gerry Doyle, Peter Arlos, Mary O'Brien, John Barrett III, Jimmy Ruberto, Peter Larkin, Cliff Nilan, Chris Speranzo, the Crane Family of Dalton and their new Gold-Digger Pol Denis E. Guyer, Luciforo, and the like. To dissent against Luciforo is to dissent against Ruberto or Massimiano... To participate in Pittsfield Politics is to be made a pawn in a chess board ran by power brokering idiots whose only goal is to further consolidate and strengthen their own political power. In Pittsfield, Luciforo has to make deals with Gerry Doyle or else he becomes a pawn -- or even worse, an outsider -- and the cycle of chasing your own tail in a vicious circle spins faster than before. The only way Luciforo's registry seat is formidably challenged in 2012 is if Luciforo doesn't play foul ball with the aforementioned "Good Old Boy Network". Otherwise, Luciforo will have his sinecure for many decades to come as he rots in the bed he has made for himself and ends up in the political graveyard. I say, "GOOD RIDDANCE, LUCIFORO! MAY YOU ROT IN HELL FOR ETERNITY, YOU NO GOOD SON OF A BITCH!"Thank you, again, Jaime Cooney, for your email to me last week. I printed it out and thought about what you had to say to me for the past week. I am happy that you keep in contact with me and express your views to me on matters of politics and public policies. I hope we will always remain friends whether I am a village idiot or a future president of the U.S.A. or anywhere in between. I am with you on dissenting against special interests Pols so that our voices will be heard no matter the outcome. Keep up your good work!Sincerely,Jonathan A. Melle----------Dude, I dissent. I think the little alcoholic weasel Gerry Doyle and his buddy Dracula Galvin are among the paragons of corruption. Luciforo is a far second and a saint compared to them .I think this deal was cut last May with all 3 parties. I'm hoping Patrick won't go near it now that it's been aired in a public forum by the Globe and Eagle. BTW Olver admits the 2010 census will probably eliminate his seat. Luciforo knows this. That's why he's slithering back to Boston- more wampum, better profile, better deals. Registrar of Deeds is as far as he goes here as local hero- not US Rep- and now this has tarnished some of that Eagle shine. I'm willing to bet if he doesn't get the Patrick post (50/50), his Registrar position can be successfully challenged come next election.
Jan 21, 2007Electoral redesign may oust OlverRedistricting proposal could affect District 1By Shaun Sutner, Worcester TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFFAt 70, U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, is the third-longest-serving member of the Massachusetts congressional House delegation. The former college chemistry professor bounced back after being hospitalized in 2005 with a serious brain infection and has given few signs of stepping down anytime soon. But Mr. Olver’s career longevity could be in serious jeopardy because of demographic changes that have Massachusetts growing at a considerably slower pace than many other states — as residents flee high home and utility prices here for sunnier and more affordable climes and fewer people move in to take their place. Massachusetts could lose one of its 10 seats in the House in the next decade because of the population changes. According to new U.S. Census Bureau counts, Massachusetts is now 113,000 residents short of keeping its 10 congressional seats. The House will maintain its 435 seats; at issue is how the seats will be apportioned among the 50 states. “We find that Massachusetts, for instance, is scheduled to lose a seat right now,” said Kimball W. Brace, president of Election Data Services, a Washington, D.C., consulting firm that released a study in December showing Massachusetts is among 13 states that would lose seats if congressional redistricting were to take place now. Some political observers think the seat to be eliminated in the redrawing of congressional and legislative boundary lines — a once-a-decade process set to start up next year and be done in time for the 2012 elections — will be Mr. Olver’s 1st District, which extends from the Fitchburg-Leominster area to Western Massachusetts. “I think Olver is the potential target because he could end up (retiring) anyway in the next four years,” said David Eisenthal, who produces a popular Internet blog focusing on Western Massachusetts politics from his home in West Brookfield. In such a redistricting, which would reduce the state’s congressional districts to nine, Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester, could lose his Fall River-area communities, but add more Worcester suburbs to the urban base of his 3rd Congressional District. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, meanwhile, would take over most of Western Massachusetts and retreat from the Central Massachusetts areas he now represents in the 2nd District. If Mr. Olver’s district ends up being obliterated, a slew of Massachusetts politicians who covet the seat could also be out of luck. They include former Republican Gov. Jane Swift of Williamstown; state Sen. Stanley C. Rosenberg, D-Amherst, a former Olver aide;...$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$...Berkshire County Register of Deeds Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., a Democrat;...$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$...Westfield Mayor Richard K. Sullivan, another Democrat; and state Sen. Stephen M. Brewer, D-Barre. Some of them are not optimistic. “Clearly, we’re losing population,” Mr. Brewer said. “Clearly, it appears we’re going to lose a congressional seat, and the pressure points will be on the 1st and 2nd districts.” Mr. Olver, who has held his 1st District seat representing most of Western Massachusetts and 22 communities in Central Massachusetts since 1991, has acknowledged that the state is at serious risk of losing a seat in Congress. He declined to be interviewed for this story, referring questions about redistricting to his chief of staff, Hunter Ridgeway. Mr. Ridgeway said the veteran congressman, who served in the state Legislature before going to Washington, hasn’t thought about redistricting much and thinks it is somewhat premature to do so. The many variables involved in redrawing the lines — ranging from the composition of the legislative committee that will do the redistricting and internal population shifts to the career plans of the state’s congressmen — make the whole issue too complex to make predictions, he said. “Plus, you could have reconfiguring all over, so it wold be hard to see whose district will be whose,” Mr. Ridegway said. “The desires of the local communities should be a major factor for the Legislature, and the regions of the state might have suggestions that play a large role in exactly what the map ends up looking like. “We don’t know who will be running for Congress in 2011. Congressman Olver has made no decision for 2012, but he is running in 2008,” Mr. Ridgeway continued. Many of Mr. Olver’s Western Massachusetts constituents are already worried about the prospect of losing a congressman who is well-liked in the area and whose liberal political view meshes well with his Amherst base, though outside of his home district Mr. Olver, despite his seniority, is rarely considered one of the most effective members of the state delegation. Anthony L. Cignoli, a Springfield-based political consultant, said he thinks Mr. Olver’s seat may indeed be in danger. He blamed Beacon Hill legislators intent on safeguarding their Eastern Massachusetts base. “There’s a thought process in Eastern Massachusetts where they just might try to gerrymander or play games to preserve their own members of Congress,” Mr. Cignoli said. “John Olver is a really smart politician and he’s got to stay on top of this thing. “Really, the fight might be for the state to fight to keep all of its delegation,” he added. Mr. McGovern, the Worcester congressman, said redistricting is by no means a done deal. He said he thinks the state’s new governor, Deval L. Patrick, has a good chance of promoting economic development policies that could reverse the population drain. Meanwhile, Secretary of State William F. Galvin may be able to do such a good job on the next census head count, by ensuring that all college students and legal immigrants are counted, that Massachusetts, which has been last on a list of the 10 slowest-growing states, may end up untouched, Mr. McGovern argued. “The next census is in 2010. That’s a long way away and a lot of things can change,” Mr. McGovern said. “I also expect our population to grow as we make our state more affordable. It’s too soon to start wringing our hands, but it’s not in our interest to lose a seat. “Every time you lose a seat, you lose a little bit of clout,” he continued. Going from 10 to nine seats may not be the catastrophe some predict, though. The state already boasts three or four committee chairmen in the newly Democrat-dominated House, and several members, including Mr. McGovern, are in line to run committees soon. Even so, no one in Massachusetts wants to see the state’s political influence weakened, especially at the expense of the increasingly powerful Sunbelt states that appear to be benefiting from the Bay State’s brain and body drain. One who least wants to see such a scenario is Ms. Swift, who remains popular in Western Massachusetts and is seen as a possible front-runner to replace Mr. Olver. Ms. Swift now serves on the boards of several nonprofit groups and private companies. “Jane would oppose Western Massachusetts losing a seat or the loss of political clout for Western Massachusetts,” said Jason Kauppi, her spokesman. “The region already takes a back seat to Eastern Massachusetts, and to lose a seat would be even more detrimental.”
The current Acting Insurance Commissioner for the Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick Administration is Joseph G. Murphy.Source: The Boston Globe, 1/19/07.
Mass. Auto Insurer Tops in Spending on Beacon Hill LobbyistsBy Steve LeBlancJanuary 23, 2007 Lobbyists trying to influence Massachusetts legislation on Beacon Hill raked in a record $64.3 million in 2006, as they plied their trade on issues ranging from education and insurance to tobacco and cable television, according to state Secretary William Galvin.The millions in fees and salaries collected by the 568 lobbyists registered with the state reflects a dramatic increase in the amount of money flowing into Beacon Hill in recent years.Last year, lobbysts collected $60.3 million. Just six years ago, lobbyists collected $47.7 million, an 11 percent jump from $43 million in 1999.By 2002 that number had grown to $53.7 million, putting Massachusetts third in the nation behind much larger states California and New York in the amount of money spent on lobbying."It is a stunning statistic when you consider how little gets done,'' Galvin said in an interview with The Associated Press. "Obviously there's a great amount of money being spent.''The Commerce Insurance Company of Webster topped the list, spending $464,049 on lobbyists, followed by the Massachusetts Teachers Association ($449,267), the Life Insurance Association of Massachusetts ($309,730), Comcast Cable Corporation ($309,500), and Washington-based Altria Corporate Services ($295,748), the parent corporation of tobacco giant Philip Morris USA.The amount spent on lobbying was less a factor of last years' closely watched gubernatorial election and more a reflection of types of legislation being considered by lawmakers, Galvin said.Insurers took a keen interest in activities at the Statehouse, including former Gov. Mitt Romney's failed push for auto insurance deregulation, and the passing of the state's landmark health care bill.The teacher's association was involved in the gay marriage fight and Comcast's is a heavily regulated industry. Cigarettes and other tobacco-related issues have been a target of legislation and regulation for years.The top lobbying firms in 2006, were Kearney, Donovan & McGee, who received $1,303,630 in fees and salary, followed by Holland and Knight ($1,243,038), Donoghue, Barrett and Signal ($1,152,300), the Brennan Group ($1,152,264), and O'Neill and Associates ($1,121,944)Galvin said the reported numbers are "just the tip of the iceberg'' of the actual lobbying that goes on at the Statehouse. As secretary of state, Galvin registers lobbyists, but he says he has little authority to pursue where the money goes."The laws the way they currently exist limit my ability to question what the money is being spent on,'' Galvin said.It's unlikely that the level of spending on lobbying will drop dramatically as Gov. Deval Patrick begins to push through his new agenda and lawmakers gear up for a new legislative session.Patrick has already said he will comprehensively review the state auto insurance system after the acting insurance commissioner on Friday suspended rules changes made in the system during the final weeks of the Romney administration.Sources: Insurance Journal, Associated Press.
Dear Berkshire Bloggers, News Media, Politicians, & the People:Re: "Nuciforo has biggest war chest..." (The North Adams Transcript Online, 1/26/2007): Once again, Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. is exposed for his illegal corruption in Massachusetts State Government! In the aforementioned news article, it states: "...[F]ormer Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr.'s campaign account topped his former [Berkshire] colleagues once again [in 2006;]...Nuciforo started the year with $176,009 [and] ended the year with $137,000, more than $100,000 over other Berkshire lawmakers..."What does this mean? The answer to that question is simply put that Nuciforo is a Boston Pol with Capitol Hill aspirations. More clearly stated, Nuciforo never represented the grassroots interests on Beacon Hill. Moreover, if Nuciforo is someday elected to the U.S. Congress, he still won't be representing the people of his legislative district. Who does Nuciforo represent if he is not representing the people of his legislative district? The answer to that question is simply put that Nuciforo is representing big business via big government.Why would Nuciforo choose to represent the interests of corporate wealth over common people? Don't we elect delegates to big government seats to represent the interests of the common man and woman and child? The answers to those questions are simply put that money buys political influence and that the money politicians such as Nuciforo collect do not come from common people, but from wealth corporate executives and their lobbying firms.Well, what then happens to our American Democracy if the common people are shut out of big government? The answer to that question is simply put that because of politicians such as Nuciforo with campaign coffers full of corporate largesse, the people no longer live in a democracy, but still live in America.What then do we live in if we don't live in a democracy? The answer to that question is simply put that because of special interest politicians such as Nuciforo, we live in a fascist American State much like the one Adolf Hitler imposed on 1930's Germany, but without the overt racist and violent political persecutions of minorities, especially the iniquitable scapegoating, imprisonment and mass murder or genocide of the Jewish people. What do you mean that America is a fascist state in the 21st Century and why would you bring in Hitler to the mix? The answers to those questions are simply put that a fascist state is an all powerful legal apparatus with political borders that hold and operates a government that only represents the interests of business and military entities in order to have rigid order for the optimal or efficient production of goods and services that serve an elite political power base. Moreover, Hitler at first corrupted the democratic state of 1920's Germany in order to then transform 1930's Germany into a fascist state that shut out the German common people from their once democratic government.What about what Nuciforo did with Clean Election from 1998 to 2003? Did not 2-out-of-3 of his legislative district voters vote for this campaign finance reform measure that would have returned the common people's voices to their government? Well, Nuciforo opposed Clean Elections for most of those 5 years of reform efforts. He did not want to diminish the power of big business in big government, so his voting record and work on Clean Elections was mostly in opposition to campaign finance reform.What about when 2 women candidates were running for Pittsfield Registry of Deeds in the Spring of 2006? Is not an election about having many people voicing their interests to the people so that the voters are able to choose the candidate that best represents their views? Well, Nuciforo strong-armed first Sharon Henault and then Sara Hathaway out of last year's election. Nuciforo did not want the people to have a choice based on candidate's voicing their interests and concerns to the voters. Nuciforo ran unopposed for this office in 2006 via (a) his campaign coffers that boasted well over $100,000 in big business donations, (b) the Pittsfield Political Machine via the Good Old Boy Network, and (c) Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr., James Ruberto, Cliff Nilan, et al, who would have blacklisted Nuciforo's political opposing women candidates from ever finding a decent job in the tight Pittsfield economy.So what do the common people do about a politician like Nuciforo who so demonstrably corrupted the political system in similar thematic parallel methods used by such strong-men as Adolf Hitler? How do we -- the common man -- ever stop him from getting elected to the United States Congress? The answer is to rise above strong-men like Nuciforo (or Hitler), and always speak out in matters of state. Nuciforo (or Hitler) may have gotten away with transforming democracy to fascism -- as that was the overarching trend in the 1920's and 1930's, and is now the overarching trend in the early 21st Century -- but we can and will stand up to these kinds of strong men and expose them for the cowards and frauds that they really are. In conclusion, We the People will speak out in matters of state to our government and our voices will get so loud that the politicians will have to listen to us. Nuciforo tried to have my father fired from his state job and his son (me) put in jail in the Spring of 1998 for speaking out against his special interest politics. Nuciforo's political pawn, Denis E. Guyer, has spread vicious rumors against me to the people of the Pittsfield area in order to shut me up about Nuciforo and his terrible public policy records. Many members of the Pittsfield Political Machine ran by the Good Old Boy Network openly resent my dissenting voice against Nuciforo and want me to shut about about his illegal corruption in state government. But the one thing that will never happen is me shutting up about Nuciforo's strong arm tactics against the common people of Massachusetts. I WILL ALWAYS SPEAK MY GOOD CONSCIENCE AS LONG AS I LIVE. Like Patrick Henry of Revolutionary Era Virginia: "Give me Liberty or Give me Death!" I believe in democracy and I will always speak out for the common man, woman and child in America and throughout the World so that all of our voices are and will always be heard forevermore by the states, governments and every other entity that influences politics and public policies. Lastly, I will always oppose the corrupt and terrible political career of Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.!Sincerely and In Truth,Jonathan A. Melle-----Nuciforo has biggest war chest; Downing spent most in electionBy Hillary Chabot, Transcript Statehouse BureauArticle Launched: 01/26/2007 Friday, January 26, 2007BOSTON — Despite running an unopposed race for Central Berkshire registry of deeds, former Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr.'s campaign account topped his former colleagues once again.Nuciforo ended the year with $137,000, more than $100,000 over other Berkshire lawmakers. Because of a record-keeping mistake, the online records show Nuciforo with $367,000 in his campaign account.Nuciforo did not return calls asking how the error had happened but his assistant provided the actual balance. Nuciforo, who faced challengers early on in the race, started the year with $176,009. ...
THE BOSTON GLOBE-----6-figure pay for care plan overseersSalaries at new state agency stir concernBy Andrea Estes, Globe StaffJanuary 27, 2007Employees of the new state agency established to provide health insurance to the state's low-income residents have been hired at an average salary of $111,000 a year, with 12 of the 22 staff members making more than $100,000 and six earning more than Governor Deval Patrick and his Cabinet secretaries.The state's landmark universal healthcare law, approved last year to provide affordable coverage to the state's approximately 500,000 uninsured residents, has created a bureaucracy with a salary scale like that of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority or the Massachusetts Port Authority, two quasi-independent agencies that Patrick and former governor Mitt Romney have railed against for their overly generous compensation packages.With the agency struggling to provide the affordable premiums the legislation promised, some community leaders and lawmakers involved in the program's development said they were surprised by the salaries, which are being paid initially through a $25 million appropriation by the Legislature. Eventually the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector's administrative costs will be funded by insurance companies through a surcharge on premiums."I am going to call in the director and find out where they're spending the money," said House Speaker Salvatore F . DiMasi, one of the architects of the legislation. "We don't want administrative costs to be too high. We want the money spent efficiently."Senator Richard Moore, who helped shepherd the bill through the Legislature, said : "If they're paying large salaries, the $25 million isn't going to last long."A spokesman for the Connector said the salaries reflect "each individual's ability, experience, and responsibilities."People who have come to work at the Connector did so to be involved in something exciting, challenging, and historic, and for some that means earning less," said Richard Powers, the Connector's director of public affairs, who pointed out that five of the eight senior staff members are making less than they did at their previous jobs.He said most of the employees had an extensive background in the health insurance industry.Under the health insurance law, approved last April, all adults must obtain insurance coverage by July 1 or pay a penalty, unless they secure a waiver by proving they can't afford insurance.The law established the Connector, which has a staff of 22 employees and is overseen by an unpaid 10-member board.Last week, the board postponed a vote to set minimal coverage requirements, after learning that it could cost the average individual $380 a month.The Connector's executive director, Jon Kingsdale, who earns $225,000 a year, determined the compensation for other employees.The second-highest paid, deputy director Rosemarie Day, was hired at $195,000 a year, but her salary was reduced to $175,500 when she opted for a four-day week.Some members of the 10-member board that oversees the Connector were also surprised when Kingsdale informed them of the high salaries and administrative costs, including a recently awarded $4 million advertising contract to educate the public, according to one board member."We had to go with the people he chose," said the board member, who spoke on condition of anonymity because members are not authorized to speak to the media. "We didn't have time for people to learn on the job. We needed people who at least understood the industries they were dealing with. The real problem is the industry pays their folks really high, and to get them to come over -- they're not going to do it for a huge wage cut."Ultimately, under the state's plan, insurers will fund the salaries and other administrative expenses by paying a surcharge of 4 to 5 percent on the premiums they collect as a result of the program. Some have raised concerns that insurers will pass along the cost to consumers in higher premiums."The cost of the salaries will be part of the cost of the insurance, " asserted David Tuerck, executive director of the Beacon Hill Institute, a conservative think tank."The Connector was created to take the cost off budget and put it onto the insurance companies," he said. "I would describe [the surcharge] as a disingenuous attempt to mask the cost of healthcare reform."A spokesman for the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans was not available to comment on the surcharge.Several lawmakers said that they did not intend to create a cumbersome new bureaucracy when they passed the landmark law.According to DiMasi, the House specifically pressed to make the Connector a state agency, part of the Secretariat of Administration and Finance, so it would be directly accountable to the governor.Others, particularly members of the Senate, argued that the Connector should be independent so it could have more flexibility in hiring and compensation.The 10-member board is composed of four state officials, three appointed by the governor and three by the attorney general.Eric Fehrnstrom, a spokesman for Romney, said the former governor pushed for an independent authority because it was the most efficient way for uninsured employees to buy health insurance on a pretax basis."The quasi-governmental entity structure was selected due to the singular mission of the Connector, which is to maximize the number of people with insurance," Fehrnstrom said. "No other state agency is tasked with this assignment."John McDonough, executive director of Health Care for All and a former state representative, said he does not believe the compensation is too high."Compared to what people make in state government, these salaries are high, but not compared to what comparable people make in a commercial insurance world," he said. "If they didn't pay these salaries, I don't believe they would be getting the quality people they need to do this highly complex operation."But McDonough cautioned that the financial underpinnings of the system are so precarious that the Connector may not be able to sustain itself as envisioned."The whole structure is fraught with uncertainty," he said. "This is a challenging task requiring a lot of thoughtful delicate balancing to make the coverage favorable enough so people want it and affordable enough so people can buy it."If they fail to do that and people don't buy the policies, they won't have the revenue to support the operation."A spokesman for Patrick, whose salary is $140,535 a year, declined comment on Connector salaries.-----State starts a new push to overhaul auto systemStudy group to look for ways to cut costs, increase competitionBy Bruce Mohl, Globe StaffJanuary 27, 2007Governor Deval L. Patrick's new consumer affairs chief yesterday launched a study group whose goal is to report by mid-March on ways to cut costs and increase competition within the state's heavily regulated auto insurance system.Daniel Crane, former bar counsel at the state's Board of Bar Overseers, starts Monday as director of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. He said one of his first priorities will be to work with a six-member study group to help set an agenda for changing the state's auto insurance system."We'll be identifying opportunities within the existing system to increase competition and reduce costs while maintaining capital," Crane said. Massachusetts is the only state in the nation where regulators set all auto insurance rates.Crane said the group won't attempt a "soup-to-nuts" review of the system with the goal of coming up with a "solution," but will instead attempt to assist the state's insurance commissioner chart a new direction.Auto insurance has been the focus of an intense industry struggle over the past several years, with many of the state's carriers pushing for a system in which companies would be able to set their own rates. Former Governor Mitt Romney supported competitive rate-setting, but his administration made little headway against Commerce Insurance of Webster and Arbella Mutual Insurance of Quincy, which generally opposed change.Since taking office, Patrick has sacked Romney's insurance commissioner and put on hold her plan for revamping the way drivers that companies won't insure voluntarily are apportioned among companies.Crane's study group, due to report back by March 15, includes two auto insurance executives on opposing sides of the broader regulatory issue, but consists largely of members who have little involvement in the auto insurance business.The group includes:Susan Scott, legal counsel at Premier Insurance of Worcester, which is in favor of competitive rate-setting.Paula Gold, a vice president at Plymouth Rock Assurance Corp. of Boston, which opposed many of the Romney administration's proposals.Joseph Meador, a professor of finance and insurance at Northeastern University.Springfield lawyer Paul Doherty.Developer Patrick Lee of Trinity Financial.Deirdre Cummings, consumer program director for the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group.Cummings, who has participated in or testified before a number of previous auto insurance task forces, said she was invited by Crane on Thursday to join the group. "It's a good signal that the Patrick administration is including and embracing the consumer voice," said Cummings, who opposed many of the Romney administration's initiatives.James Harrington, head of the Massachusetts Insurance Federation, an industry group that supported Romney's auto insurance measures, said he knew little about the study group's members."We're hopeful that the task force will come to consensus to continue the reforms initiated by the last insurance commissioner," he said.Crane, 56, worked nearly seven years at the board of bar overseers, managing the roughly 6,000 complaints filed each year against lawyers in Massachusetts, and personally handled a number of high-profile cases.He said he has been on sabbatical for the past six months.Several consumer activists said they were not familiar with Crane, but Jack Cinquegrana, president of the Boston Bar Association, said he has known Crane professionally for many years."Dan's reputation as bar counsel was competent, fair, and even-minded," he said.
THE BOSTON GLOBEOP EDMARCIA ANGELLFix the system with Medicare for allBy Marcia AngellJanuary 29, 2007Today the Globe launches a rotating seat on the op-ed page. Each guest columnist will appear each Monday for six weeks, before the next columnist takes over.THE GREATEST source of insecurity for many Americans is the soaring cost of health care. Leaving jobs can mean losing health insurance, and even when insurance is offered, many workers turn it down because they can't afford their growing share of the premiums.Businesses are having trouble, too. Those that provide good health benefits see more of their revenues siphoned off by the health insurance industry, with a resulting loss of competitiveness (General Motors spends far more on health benefits than Toyota).Insurance is not the same thing as health care -- not by a long shot. Private insurers maximize profits mainly by limiting benefits or by not covering people with health problems. The United States is the only advanced country in the world with a health care system based on avoiding sick people.It's not surprising, then, that health care reform is at the top of the political agenda. Most current proposals de-couple health benefits from employment and encourage individuals to buy their own insurance. The fact that they were ever coupled is a historical accident; there is no logical reason for it. Yet, employment-based insurance has been the only practical option for people not old enough for Medicare or poor enough for Medicaid, since the individual insurance market is notoriously treacherous.In his State of the Union address, President Bush proposed tax deductions for individuals who venture into that market and buy insurance on their own. Family premiums above $15,000 and single premiums above $7,500 would be taxed. This is a gesture, not a plan. It is just one more example of the conceit, shared by many on the right, that nearly any problem can be solved by jiggering the tax code. In fact, many of the uninsured don't pay taxes at all, and many more would find their small tax relief greatly outweighed by the price of insurance.More serious proposals are coming from the states, with Massachusetts in the lead. These aim for universal coverage by requiring uninsured individuals to purchase health insurance, under pain of -- you guessed it -- tax penalties, with state subsidies for the poor and near poor. In Massachusetts, there will be a token contribution by employers who don't provide health benefits, but most of the cost will be borne by individuals. A new state agency, the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector, is charged with seeing that insurers offer adequate benefit packages at reasonable premiums.Though well-intentioned, plans like these all have the same fatal flaw: They offer no workable mechanism to control costs, mainly because they leave the private insurance industry in place. Yet, soaring costs are the fundamental problem ; lack of coverage follows from that. Already the Massachusetts Connector is having difficulty holding premiums down to the levels forecast when the plan was enacted. Even if they are held down at the start, there is little to stop insurers from raising them afterward , shrinking benefits, or both. It will take a large and costly bureaucracy to ride herd on all the ways to game this system. Perhaps the biggest risk is that failure will give universal care a bad name, just as the failure of the Clinton plan did 13 years ago. (That plan, too, made the mistake of giving the private insurance industry a central role.)We need to change the system completely and get the insurance industry, as well as employers, out of it. Private insurance companies offer little of value, yet skim off 15 to 25 percent of the health care dollar for profits and overhead. It would make much more sense to extend Medicare to everyone. That could be done gradually by dropping the eligibility age a decade at a time, while phasing out the insurance companies. The loss of insurance jobs would probably be more than offset by job gains in other industries no longer saddled with health costs.Medicare is not perfect, but its problems are readily fixed. It is far more efficient than private insurance, with overhead of less than 4 percent, and since it is administered by a single public agency, controlling costs would be possible. Unlike private insurers, it cannot select whom to cover or deny care to those who need it most.It is time to stop tinkering at the margins. Medicare for all is the only reform that has a prayer of providing universal coverage while containing costs.Dr. Marcia Angell is a senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School and former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine.
RE: Luciforo passed over! Yeah!Dear Berkshire Bloggers, Pols, News Media,& the People:Hurray! Luciforo was passed over. Yeah!In truth,Jonathan A. Melle-----------Insurance post goes to judgeEx-Patrick law colleague tapped as top regulatorBy Bruce Mohl, [The Boston] Globe Staff February 13, 2007Governor Deval L. Patrick yesterday appointed a Superior Court judge with no professional background in insurance as the state's top insurance regulator.Nonnie S. Burnes , 64, a former law partner of Patrick , will give up her court robes Feb. 26, but as the new insurance commissioner she will still issue plenty of rulings, establishing auto insurance rates for the state's 4 million drivers and setting policy on health, worker's compensation, and coastal home insurance issues.In a telephone interview, Burnes said she assumed that Patrick hired her in part because she will bring a fresh set of eyes to the job -- "someone not committed to one point of view or another," she said.Burnes listed three major issues facing the Division of Insurance: the future of automobile insurance regulation, skyrocketing coastal home insurance rates, and health insurance.Dan O'Connell , Patrick's secretary of housing and economic development, in a prepared statement called Burnes "the right choice at this critical time."The appointment sent industry officials scrambling for information about the judge, who was unknown to them. James Harrington , president of the Massachusetts Insurance Federation, called Burnes an "interesting" appointment."It's reflective of the Patrick administration recognizing the commissioner of insurance is a significant post with a whole host of responsibilities," he said.Stephen D'Amato , a consultant to the Center for Insurance Research in Cambridge, said the appointment of a judge made a lot of sense. "We're very hopeful that the insurance commissioner will be dedicated to protecting the public on insurance issues," he said.Burnes is replacing Julianne M. Bowler , who was let go by Patrick shortly after he took office. Bowler had been a champion of the Romney administration's efforts to let auto insurers set their own rates. Patrick has said he wants to encourage greater competition among auto insurers within the existing regulatory framework, in which state officials set all rates.Burnes offered no insights on how she would go about increasing competition within a totally regulated environment except to say that Patrick has given her no marching orders. She said she intends to research the issues, listen to all sides, and then make recommendations to the governor.Patrick administration officials have talked about reaching a consensus on reform in the automobile insurance industry, but Burnes was skeptical. "That would be lovely," she said, "but that would be a tall order."The industry is sharply divided on how it should be regulated, and both sides have lobbied hard for their positions. The two camps ran advertising campaigns for and against change last year.Employees of Liberty Mutual Group of Boston donated nearly $20,000 to former lieutenant governor Kerry Healey's campaign for governor last year, while employees of Commerce Group Inc. of Webster gave more than $27,000 to Patrick and his running mate.Liberty, Commerce, and two other automobile insurers were some of the biggest donors to Patrick's inaugural celebration.As a homeowner on Cape Cod, Burnes said, she has seen her premiums for homeowner's insurance increase as companies have either raised their rates or pulled out of the area entirely because of growing concerns that a hurricane would cause greater damage along the coast than previously believed."It's a huge problem up and down every coast. This is not unique to Massachusetts," she said.Superior Court judges earn $129,694 a year. Burnes said she did not think she would be taking a pay cut at her new job but said she hadn't discussed her salary yet with Patrick administration officials. Bowler earned $122,135.Burnes starts work Feb. 26, more than a week after a hearing scheduled on a major Romney administration initiative to change the way automobile insurers are assigned drivers that no company wants to cover voluntarily. Bowler pushed ahead with the initiative late last year, but Patrick put it on hold until a six-person study group reports back in mid-March and Burnes gets up to speed.Prior to becoming a judge, Burnes worked 19 years at Hill & Barlow, the same law firm that Patrick worked at from 1986 until 1994. Patrick has already tapped three other veterans of Hill & Barlow for administration posts.Then-governor William F. Weld appointed Burnes to the bench in 1996. She has worked in Suffolk County and more recently in Middlesex.She said she worked six months in the business litigation session in Suffolk Superior Court.Burnes is a graduate of Wellesley College and the Northeastern University School of Law.
MASS dot govWilliam Francis Galvin,Secretary of the Commonwealth (of Massachusetts)Registry of Deeds,Middle BerkshireAndrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.44 Bank RowPittsfield, MA 01201(413) 443-7438Fax: (413) 448-6025Email: andrea dot nuciforo at sec dot state dot ma dot usWeb: www dot berkshiremiddledeeds dot com------WELCOME--NOW RETIRED--Mary K. O'Brien, Register of Deeds, Assistant Recorder for Land Court and Commissioner to Qualify Public Officers Sharon E. Henault, Assistant Register of Deeds and Commissioner to Qualify Public OfficersJean Boudreau, Technical Assistant for Land Court and Commissioner to Qualify Public OfficersThe Registry is located in Pittsfield, the county seat, in the same court building as the Probate Court. The Registry is linked by computer to all Registries in the State. Records can be searched from personal computers at www.masslandrecords.com Berkshire County has three Registries. Berkshire Northern District is located in Adams, MA and records for the city of North Adams and the towns of Adams, Cheshire, Clarksburg, Florida, Hancock, Lanesborough, New Ashford, Savoy, Williamstown and Windsor.Berkshire Middle District is located in Pittsfield MA and records for the city of Pittsfield and the towns of Becket, Dalton, Hinsdale, Lee, Lenox, Otis, Peru, Richmond, Stockbridge, Tyringham and Washington.Berkshire Southern District is located in Great Barrington, MA and records for the towns of Alford, Egremont, Great Barrington, Monterey, Mount Washington, New Marlborough, Sandisfield, Sheffield and West Stockbridge.All offices are open Monday - Friday 8:30 to 4:30. The hours of recording are Monday - Friday 8:30 to 4:00.Indices and images are available for the Berkshire Registries as well as Bristol, Dukes, Franklin, Hampshire, Nantucket, North Middlesex, South Middlesex, Suffolk and Worcester South at www.masslandrecords.comThe Registry now has Berkshire County Assessors' maps on the PC in the search room. The maps are for all the cities and towns in Berkshire County and 8 1/2 x 11 copies may be made at a cost of $.50 per copy. These are maps only, the data base with owners' name is not available.DirectionsFrom Massachusetts Turnpike take Exit 2 follow Route 7 North through Lee, Lenox and into Pittsfield. In Pittsfield at Park Square, right turn to Bank Row, Registry on the right in gray stone building on the 2nd floor, next to the Superior Courthouse.From Northampton follow Route 9 to Route 9 and Route 8A in Dalton, continue on Route 9 into Pittsfield. At First Street intersection turn left onto First Street, follow First Street to the end. At the intersection turn right onto East Street, go around Park Square. Registry is on the right in a gray stone building on the 2nd floor, next to the Superior Courthouse.------
Patrick appoints insurance commissionerNuciforo not named, despite reported interest in jobThe Associated PressWednesday, February 14, 2007BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Deval Patrick has appointed Superior Court Justice Nonnie Burnes to serve as the state's new insurance commissioner.Burnes will oversee the agency that protects consumers through the regulation of the insurance industry. Burnes replaces Julianne Bowler, who has held the post since 2002.Nuciforo noted last monthMiddle Berkshire Register of Deeds Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., the former state senator from Pittsfield, was said to be interested in the job, according to a report in January by The Boston Globe.In the Senate, Nuciforo presided over the Financial Services Committee, which includes the state's insurance industry in its portfolio. Among the commissioner's many other jobs, it will be up to Burnes each year to set auto insurance rates.Employment historyBurnes has been a Superior Court justice since 1996, and before that was a member of the law firm Hill and Barlow. She has also served as the vice chair of the State Ethics Commission.Burnes is also a member of the visiting committee for Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government, the Center for Ethics and the Professions.She graduated from Wellesley College and received her law degree from Northeastern University Law School.Burnes, a Boston resident, is set to start her new job on Feb. 26.
The Berkshire Eagle's new section, "The vent":Wednesday, February 14, 2007"Just after The Eagle prints an article, which sounded more like a tribute to former state Sen. Nuciforo, we read about Pittsfield having one of the highest teen pregnancy and high school dropout rates in the state. Why can't this paper be intellectually honest and criticize a Democrat when things go bad on his/her watch like they take so much pleasure in doing to Republicans? Maybe if this so-called newspaper printed the whole story instead of just the talking points from the Democratic Party, this county would actually elect officials that can get things done."— B.L., Pittsfield-----Need to vent about something?E-mail us atvent at berkshireeagle dot comPlease include your full name and address; we'll publish your initials and hometown. Not all vents will be published.-----
NEWS ARTICLE:Murray takes Senate helm First woman earns leadership post By Hillary Chabot, Eagle Boston BureauThe Berkshire Eagle Thursday, March 22, 2007BOSTON — She supports same-sex marriage, is open to expanded gambling and she's the new sheriff in town.Sen. Therese Murray, D-Plymouth, took over as the state's first woman Senate president yesterday. While in many ways her leadership style mirrors former Senate President Robert Travaglini, D-Boston, Murray could shake up the Senate when it comes to some controversial issues.Travaglini stepped down to explore a job as a consultant in the private sector after five years as Senate president, saying he wants to spend more time with his family."Today's a special day for me and Terry. For me, it marks an end of a commitment to you and to the citizens of the commonwealth as president of the Senate," Travaglini said as he gave a sometimes tearful final speech yesterday.Murray described her new post as "kind of surreal.""This kid from Dorchester never thought she'd be here," she said. "I never thought I'd be here as a senator, never mind as the Senate president."The president has broad powers to appoint senators to committees and to head committees.Murray promised to work closely, but not too closely, with House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi and House Ways and Means chairman Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop."I have enjoyed working with both gentlemen over the past two years and I look forward to a hearty and spirited discourse with our friends in the House over the next two years," she said.Murray differs from Travaglini by focusing on issues found outside Greater Boston, such as fishing and agriculture, said Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield."I think she brings a different perspective," said Downing. "I know she understands the plight of regional schools and she understands the issues of broadband availability and access, and hopefully she can help us build statewide coalition to address issues."Former Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo, D-Pittsfield, who admitted he "just couldn't stay away" from the Senate chamber, said while Murray isn't quite as warm as Travaglini, she's a hard worker and perfect for the job."She's smart, tough, fair-minded and has terrific instincts," Nuciforo said, adding "I can't imagine any person being more warm and engaging as Senator Travaglini."Shift on same-sex marriage?Murray, 54, has had a close relationship with Travaglini, but has differed with him on some key questions, such as same-sex marriage. Travaglini pushed to put an amendment banning gay marriage on a ballot in January. Murray has voted against the move, but said she doesn't know if she will block a vote on the measure in the year ahead."I haven't even discussed that with myself," she said. "When that comes up, I will give it every consideration."Downing said the new leadership changes the outlook for same-sex marriage."I think she's in a position to strongly advocate for protection of equal marriage rights," Downing said.Legislators must hold another constitutional convention by May, but Murray could decide not to move for a vote on the issue. Same-sex marriage advocate Marc Solomon said he is looking forward to working with the new leader.Murray, who was first elected to the Senate in 1992, also seems to have a different view toward expanded gambling, which Travaglini strongly supported.While Murray voted for installing slots at racetracks in 2005, some senators in the leadership say she privately doesn't support it."I don't think expanded gambling has much of a chance now that she's president," said Sen. Robert Havern, D-Arlington.But Sen. Steven Panagiotakos, D-Lowell, who has worked closely with Murray, said she's open to the idea.Murray also is unsure about Gov. Deval L. Patrick's bid to close corporate tax loopholes and use the funding towards this year's $1.3 billion budget gap. Murray said the Senate budget is 95 percent finished, and that revenue isn't included."I think we gave the previous three or four governors the ability to have their bills heard, and I think we should give this governor the same courtesy," Murray said.Many of Travaglini's initiatives will continue under Murray, however. She promised to focus on implementing the new health care mandate, expanding affordable housing and promoting public education.Permanent chairs pendingTravaglini thanked colleagues like DiMasi, Boston Mayor Tom Menino, former Attorney General Tom Reilly and other friends and family who packed the Senate chambers.Murray assigned Panagiotakos as acting Ways and Means chairman, and said she will appoint permanent chairs on Monday. She privately met with many senators and asked them if there were any new committees they wanted to be on, and was coy when asked if there will be any big shakeup in terms of committee appointments.Murray, who is known for her nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic, ended her first speech as Senate president with what many expect to be a common phrase."Let's get to work."
Dear Berkshire Bloggers, News Media, Politicians, & the People:Timothy G. Kiely is Denis E. Guyer's campaign manager for Dalton State Representative, and I believe Mr. Kiely is the propaganda source for Denis E. Guyer's continual SLANDER against me to the good people in the Pittsfield area. Tim Kiely was my Citizens Bank Branch Manager from around the tragic day of September 11th, 2001 through April 10th, 2002 -- for about 7-months. Also working for Tim Kiely during that time was a woman named Robin, whose ex-husband worked as a Massachusetts State Police Officer at the Berkshire County District Attorney's Office, who shared inside information about me to Tim Kiely about my past dispute with the Becket woman (who was married in the Summer of 2002), whom Denis E. Guyer racistly refers to in his slanderous rumors he spreads against me, and her vicious and verbally abusive father who threatened to assault me. Denis E. Guyer and Tim Kiely play dirty politics and conduct themselves for the purposes of gaining political power for blood money for more political power... I hope the people will legally and legitimately STOP such slick, unethical, golddigging Pols, and sorry excuses for human beings, as Denis E. Guyer and Tim Kiely!For the record, I did the right thing by going to and co-operating with the police to end the domestic violence perpetrated by the vicious father of the Becket woman I had befriended. This woman Denis E. Guyer refers to in his slanderous attacks against me was married in 2002, lives a safe life, and is no threat of danger from me. Denis Guyer tried to incite violence against me by telling many people in the Pittsfield area that "I stalked a Jewish woman from Otis" and that "I belong in a psychiatric institution", and the like.Throughout my whole life, I have had to deal with hypocritical ASSHOLES like Denis E. Guyer, Tim Kiely, Andy Luciforo, Carmen Massimiano, Cliff Nilan, and the like. I have made the decision in my life to always reject "the Bully Principles", but rather to only work to help people and society.The following are my GOALS in my LIFE--JONATHAN A. MELLE's CAREER GOALS:My career goals focus on helping people and society. I strongly believe in the moral principles of social justice for positive peace. I am committed to helping people both on a local scale with compassion to a global scope with understanding. One way I would be able to accomplish my goals would to become a powerful politician – maybe even a president.I want to be able to grow with an institution and work towards my own financial independence, or at least self-sufficiency. In my institutional role, I would work with people to listen to the diverse views on social issues and problems in both a caring individual and tolerating group environment.I hope to use my training in public management to deal with the many complex dynamics of government agencies in collaboration with all stakeholders to produce positive societal outcomes. As a public manager, I would ensure efficiency with equity, effectiveness with fairness, and accountability with merit under responsible management methodologies.In my personal life, I hope to meet a good woman to grow into a long-term, healthy and financially equitable relationship with and always be together for each other’s mutual benefit. I hope to live a good life, marry a good woman, and live happily in a safe and healthy community that I am free to contribute to unharassed.I may go to Law School someday.The following was my negative experience working for Tim Kiely:NOTES: On Citizens Bank—· Tim Kiely, Branch Manager, is a BULLY! Mr. Kiely sees management under the banal precepts of the corporate bully principles. He misused his authoritative power for his own ends, behaved inappropriately without witnesses, baited his employees into inappropriate behavior, and then held them accountable only for their transgressions while denying his own wrongdoing. Mr. Kiely used racist language, was sexist towards his female subordinates, and he was always political in his outside life (meaning he did favors for favors—dirty business, black and white, not right or wrong). Mr. Kiely not only denied his own bad behavior while baiting and then holding his subordinates accountable for their inappropriate behavior, he then also lied about the inappropriate behavior of his employees to protect himself in his acts of retaliation. Mr. Kiely saw me coming, read me, and reveled in his abuse of me to justify his own terrible code or way of life. Mr. Kiely is a GOLDDIGGER! He bragged about his then wife’s trust fund, and how he lives in a nice home for free without even having to pay the property taxes. Mr. Kiely explained to me that if his wife ever divorced him and ended the entitlements, he would then just go and find another wealthy woman to marry and live off of. I recall Mr. Kiely taking large sums of money out of his young daughter’s trust fund account and then saying he would pay her back the money. Mr. Kiely then moved from his wife’s Town of Dalton to the City of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, presumably after his wife divorced him after he presumably robbed her trust fund of assets and money. He worked at Colt’s Investments and is now a Branch Manager for Greylock Federal Credit Union. His birthday is in early-1969, and he is now 38 years old. In Mr. Kiely’s malevolence against me for formally complaining to Citizens Bank and then the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination against his misconduct, he made it very difficult for me to find employment by badmouthing me and lying about me to both the bank and then prospective employers. From the beginning, I was doomed under Mr. Kiely because I despise bullying and prescribing to the bully principles to make myself “safe.” It has been said to me on many occasions and times by diverse groups of professional people that my TERMINATION from Citizens Bank is the major impediment that I face to finding a full-time job. Mr. Kiely knew what he was doing to me, and carried out his disadvantageous agenda against me to full deleterious effect. The back-story was that I was already blacklisted in the Berkshires for my participation in state and local government. Mr. Kiely is a POLITICIAN and it was to his advantage to sink me to gain favor with career politicians like Andy Nuciforo, John Barrett III, Dan Bosley, et al. Career politicians make life difficult for average citizens by manipulating people and events as retaliation, for their own personal amusements, and as excuses under false pretenses to uphold their small-minded blacklists. Nuciforo, Barrett and Bosley, et al, have done this kind of thing to many people in their area of control. I was not the first, nor will I be the last. Of course, I am made to look like the bad guy in the highly manipulated eyes of their sphere of influence.· After the April 10, 2002 incident between Tim Kiely and myself, whereby Mr. Kiely threatened me by ordering me in a hostile voice into the safe room [of the bank] where there would be no witnesses and then putting his body within one inch of me for a lengthy period of time after I disobeyed his threatening order, I was transferred to another bank branch under Larry Panzeri. While my fate was sealed on April 10th, my TERMINATION of employment was played out skillfully over the next 6 weeks by all of the insider Tim Kiely sympathizers. On May 21st, Human Resources Manager Jeff Zinn called me to Holyoke from Pittsfield to TERMINATE my employment under the false pretenses of two separate errors I made in Customer Service – one of which was initially made by Mr. Panzeri.· For the next year and 3-months, I pursued my grievances with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. Another Citizens Bank employee, Michele Zamboni-DuCharme did the same. Both her and my separate cases were dismissed with a finding of no probable cause. I realize now that without an Attorney, no system of justice is going to weigh the merits of a case because the system and the bureaucrats that run them are lazy, and they are there primarily for their own pay check and compensation, not for truth, justice and fairness!· The bottom line is that the system is a done deal. There are predetermined winners and losers. Management uses the corporate bully principles for a reason, and that reason is power based on a reality of black and white, NOT right or wrong. Winner: TIM KIELY. Loser: Jonathan A. Melle. Regardless of my economic class and social status, I will never go down to the base level of using the corporate bully principles. Even if I am at the bottom of society’s rankings of class and status, which I am, at least I will live at my own level of dignity without having to hurt people for my own ego and place in society. Tim Kiely is phony and has and will hurt many people throughout his miserable life! The bottom line is that while I don’t have to become an insider or subscripe to the corporate bully principles to keep my job, I MUST LEARN TO PASS THROUGH OFFICE POLITICS.
RE: What about Luciforo's violations of the conflict of interest law?Dear Berkshire Bloggers, News Media, Pols, & the People:Re: "Former official's lobbying is eyed: Ex-utilities head aids power firms" (The Boston Globe, June 7, 2007): The news article states: "State Representative Daniel Bosley, Democrat of North Adams, who helped write the law [deregulating the electric industry], said lawmakers wanted to professionalize the commission, by expanding the number of members and raising their salaries. In return, he said, they should `take the year off,' not jump from the agency to the companies they regulated. `You're trying to build a little insulation around your commission,' he said. `[Paul G.] Afonso is a good guy," Bosley added. `I wouldn't see him knowingly violating' the ethics statute's one-year rule."How come some of these state and local government officials in Massachusetts are accused of violating the conflict of interest laws, but not all? What about Luciforo's violations of the conflict of interest law? Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. served as Chair of several State Senate Committees regulating Insurance companies and other large financial institutions while at the same time serving as a private Attorney for a Boston Law Firm serving the interests of the same Insurance companies and other large financial institutions that Luciforo was regulating. The answer as to why some get accused, while others are above the law, is Orwell's thesis that "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."Patrick Fennell has written on many occassions how Massachusetts Pols from U.S. Senator John Kerry, State Senator Stan Rosenberg to Pittsfield Mayor Jimmy Ruberto have all violated the State Ethic's conflict of interest laws without consequences, while other less connected politicians and public servants have lost their jobs, pensions, healthcare, and the like. To illustrate this point, John Kerry's campaign account coffers are filled with the same financial institutions that have a stake in putting Luciforo into John Olver's congressional seat. About 3 years ago, when John Kerry was running for President, both he and Luciforo both hosted a corporate elite gala on Nantucket together, pandering to the special interests of Boston's big financial institutions in return for big campaign donations. Just as big oil and the interconnected military machine were George W. Bush's campaign contributors in 2000 and 2004, Boston's corporate elite large financial institutions were John Forbes Kerry's campaign contributors in 2004. In fact, John Forbes Kerry raised millions of more dollars in campaign contributions for his run for U.S. President in 2004 than did his opponent, yet by the November election day, Kerry was outspent by Bush by $15 million and lost by 3 points and a slim margin in the electoral college votes.I concur with Patrick Fennell's thesis that the State Ethic's conflict of interest law is not really enforced against the powerful and well connected politicians in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Because Luciforo is so coveted by the same special interests who almost put John Kerry in The White House in 2004, the State Ethics Commission will never really have any consequences against Luciforo's conflict of interest activities that were cited in a 1/16/2007 Boston Globe news article. Moreover, these special interests have a stake in putting Luciforo in John W. Olver's congressional seat so that Boston's big financials will have even more political power on Capitol Hill than they do right now. In Political Science 101, one learns that the true de facto government is ran by the corporate elite, who controls the de jure government through large sums of money, which is called influence. While in theory, the state serves the People, the reality is "We the Corporate Elite". The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is one of the most CORRUPTED governments in the free World. The State Ethics conflict of interest law is misused to show good governance on the superficial facade, while the true context is a government of powerful and well connected politicians serving the corporate elite's special interest for their own gain and hopes for higher office. In closing, both John Forbes Kerry and Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. (a.k.a. Luciforo) got what they deserved! They both made a mockery out of the political system, and now John Kerry will never be elected U.S. President, and Luciforo's chances to takeover Olver's Congressional seat have greatly diminished.In Truth,Jonathan A. Melle
Dear Deval-uator Patrick, News Media, Pols, & the People:According to the following blog: http://blogs.townonline.com/parkwayBlog/?p=1391 ,Insurance companies were among [Massachusetts Governor Deval] Patrick’s biggest campaign cash supporters [in 2006]...", and now, "According to the Boston Globe, Insurance Commissioner Nonnie S. Burnes is making a lot of comments that have insurance industry officials, consumer advocates and legislators believing that she favors returning the state to market-based auto insurance."Is Deval Patrick selling out to the Insurance Industry Lobby? Hmmm. No wonder why Governor Patrick would NOT appoint former state Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. (aka Luciforo) to the state's Insurance Commissioner post -- as Luciforo unethically represented the established Insurance Companies as a private Boston Attorney for the Berman & Dowell law firm while chairing state legislative committees setting public policies for these greedy, large financial institutions. Luciforo's corrupted interests would have stood in Patrick's way of receiving large amounts of blood money in the form of campaign contributions to his own campaign coffers.In Truth,Jonathan A. Melle
THE BOSTON GLOBE -A NEWS ARTICLE:Battle brewing on auto insuranceState may overhaul rate-setting systemBy Frank Phillips, Globe StaffJuly 1, 2007The battle over the future of the state's $3.9 billion auto insurance market has trapped Governor Deval Patrick in a political crossfire between his insurance commissioner, who is signaling she wants to overhaul the rate-setting system, and his allies in urban legislative districts, who fear the changes would lead to sky-high premiums for their constituents.Patrick's insurance commissioner, Nonnie S. Burnes, has made comments both privately and publicly that have convinced industry officials, consumer advocates, and legislators that she is ready to introduce some level of market-based competition to the state's highly regulated auto insurance market and overhaul the system that deals with high-risk drivers.Massachusetts is the only state that requires the insurance commissioner to set auto rates. This system was established decades ago and is designed to ease the disparity in insurance rates between cities and suburbs. A high-risk pool provides coverage for drivers who cannot get coverage in the regular market.Allowing insurers to have more control over rates could lure some large companies back to Massachusetts, such as Liberty Mutual, a strong financial supporter of Patrick and other Beacon Hill leaders.But for urban voters, one of Patrick's core constituencies, it brings back memories of the 1970s, when a brief effort to introduce competition left some city residents annually paying more for car insurance than their vehicles were worth."I think this is potentially the worst, negative economic policy decision that faces this governor during his tenure," said Senator Dianne Wilkerson, a Democrat of Boston and an early Patrick supporter in last year's gubernatorial campaign. "This would be a disaster."Patrick, the state's first African - American governor, runs the risk of being accused of turning his back on drivers in minority communities. Wilkerson said the proposed changes are, in effect, "auto insurance redlining" -- referring to discriminating marketing practices that target urban neighborhoods, which Patrick battled as chief of the US Justice Department's civil rights division in the Clinton administration."This would be a most egregious form of 21st-century state-sanctioned insurance redlining," she said. Wilkerson said she is confident that Patrick's experience would influence the outcome.But, by introducing a market-based overhaul, Patrick would make strides in his effort to show a friendly face to the corporate world, including auto insurance companies, many of whom left Massachusetts to seek more profitable, less regulated markets.Patrick's aides maintain that, while the two sides have presented their case to the insurance commission, no decision has been made. They did not respond directly to Wilkerson's statements. "Any speculation that a final decision has been made or that the administration is leaning in any direction is just that -- speculation," said Patrick's press secretary, Kyle Sullivan.Wilkerson, Senate majority leader Frederick E. Berry, and Senator Joan M. Menard met last week with Patrick to press their case after Burnes refused to meet with them, saying she faced potential conflicts, according to the senators. Burnes and Daniel O'Connell, economic development secretary, met with the senators many days later in Berry's office.Burnes is a former superior court judge. She is scheduled to sit down with several of Patrick's aides next week as the governor and his staff try to prepare for what could be an explosive decision, if the state's past history is any guide. Her decision is expected by July 15.The debate pits the so-called domestic insurers -- mainly Commerce Insurance and Arbella Insurance, which dominate the auto insurance business in the Bay State -- against those firms, led by Liberty Mutual, that have abandoned Massachusetts but would be eager to return if they can set their own rates.Attorney General Martha Coakley has raised a number of questions about implementing a competitive market-rating system, providing Wilkerson and other opponents with strong fodder. Her insurance division has warned that rates in Boston could jump 20 percent and by as much as 35 percent in Roxbury and Dorchester. Other urban areas in the state would see hikes of between 15 and 20 percent, her staff said.A group of insurers, which includes Liberty Mutual and calls itself the Fairness for Good Drivers Coalition, has proposed a compromise that would implement a form of competition by allowing companies to change their overall rates, up or down, 5 percent next year. Under the proposal, individual driver rates could not rise more than 10 percent. The group also said it supports the current system, in which suburban car owners subsidize lower rates for urban owners.John Cusilito, Liberty's spokesman, said history in other states, such as New Jersey and Connecticut, shows that urban communities are not hit with higher rates when competition is introduced. "We support the continuance of subsidies for high - risk drivers in high-risk territories to help avoid rate-sticker shock," he said.The group's proposal reflects many of the recommendations of a task force the governor created earlier this year, which called on Burnes to "examine alternative moves toward competitive rating."Wilkerson said the push for a competitive rating system is based on the companies' quest for profits, not what is best for consumers. The profit margin for auto insurers in Massachusetts, she said, is about 40 percent below the national average. In 2005, the profit by Bay State companies was 5.7 percent, while the national average was 8.1 percent.With a decision on the horizon, the insurance industry, which floods the State House hallways with high -paid lobbyists and pads political campaign accounts with donations, is drawing on its years of cultivating support.Commerce Insurance, Arbella, and Plymouth Rock Assurance Corp. -- which are fiercely guarding their dominance of the Massachusetts market -- lead the fund-raising. Campaign finance records show that the firms' executives and lobbyists donated $154,000 in the 2005-2006 election cycle. Menard picked up $40,000 from the insurers; Wilkerson, $14,000; and Berry, $33,000.Meanwhile, the Globe reported last week that Edmund F. Kelly, Liberty Mutual's president and chief executive officer, co-hosted a fund-raiser for Patrick on June 18 that produced more than $25,000 in donations for the governor. Kelly's fund-raising focus on the Democratic governor is occurring after several years of directing donations to former governor Mitt Romney, who had pushed for dismantling the current rate-setting system.(Correction: Because of a reporting error, a story in Sunday's City & Region section about possible changes in the state's auto insurance rate-setting system incorrectly characterized Liberty Mutual's status in the Massachusetts market. The insurance company does provide auto insurance to Massachusetts drivers.)
Auto insurers expect 3d rate dropPrediction comes as Patrick official looks at deregulating pricesBy Bruce Mohl, [The Boston] Globe StaffJuly 6, 2007The state's automobile insurers say they are likely to ask for a rate decrease next year if the Patrick administration decides to continue regulating the prices they can charge.It would be the third straight year insurers have asked state regulators to cut premiums, a trend reflecting an unprecedented downturn in the dollar value of insurance claims.Daniel J. Johnston, president of the Automobile Insurers Bureau of Massachusetts, said the size of any requested rate reduction won't be known until company expense numbers and other data are crunched over the next two months.But he said claims data indicate the cost and severity of auto insurance claims continued to fall in 2006, with the value of all claims dropping 8.5 percent compared to 2005."It's good news, and it likely suggests we'll be filing for another rate decrease," Johnston said.An industry request for a reduction would guarantee Massachusetts drivers some premium relief next year, since the filing by the companies is typically the starting point for the state rate-setting process.This year the auto insurance companies asked for a 3.7 percent reduction in rates and the state's insurance commissioner ultimately approved an 11.7 percent drop, resulting in a statewide average premium of $899. In 2006, the companies requested their first rate reduction ever, asking for a 0.1 percent decrease. The commissioner ultimately approved an 8.7 percent cut.Nonnie S. Burnes, the insurance commissioner appointed by Governor Deval Patrick in February, hasn't decided yet whether to set auto insurance rates for 2008. She is giving serious consideration to deregulating the rate-setting process and letting automobile insurers set their own premiums. A decision is expected by July 16.Many of the state's auto insurers say premiums would probably fall even faster if they were allowed to set their own rates rather than having to wait for the state's annual review. But opponents of competitive rate setting say there's no need to tinker with the process ."Rates have never plummeted like this, ever," said Stephen D'Amato, a consultant to the Center for Insurance Research in Cambridge. "This just shows there's no crisis in the auto insurance market, and the current rating system is working for consumers."But proponents of change argue that rates overall will drop more quickly if competition is allowed, and any increase in rates affecting some drivers would be mitigated in an environment where prices are falling."This is the perfect time to move to competition," said James Harrington, executive director of the Massachusetts Insurance Federation, which represents state insurers pushing for competition.Paul Mattera, senior vice president for public affairs at Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. of Boston, which favors some deregulation, said the benefits of competition go well beyond the prospect for lower premiums. He said Liberty in other states is free to offer better services, such as policies that let customers off the hook for an accident if their record has been clean for five years, or replace a car without any depreciation if the vehicle is less than four years old."There are benefits to the consumer beyond price diversity," he said.Johnston, of the Automobile Insurers Bureau, attributed the decline in the value of claims to a mild winter in 2006 and success in fighting fraud. Analysts say claims also have been dropping nationally, possibly because cars are safer and people are driving fewer miles because of high er gas prices.-----EditorialThe Berkshire Eagle Monday, July 09, 2007A bid for car insurance reformMajor auto insurance reform is not in the cards in Massachusetts, the only state in which rates are set by the government, but Nonnie S. Burns, Governor Patrick's recently appointed insurance commissioner, is considering modest changes that may attract a little much-needed competition. Rather than establish fixed rates as in the past, the commissioner may establish a range of rates within which insurers can work, which might persuade some of the national companies that want no part of the state to consider coming in. Rates are likely to decline for a third straight year, but it is unclear why and they may rise again just as inexplicably. Competition may introduce lower rates that car owners can count on.
The Boston HeraldOn auto insurance, gov won’t drive us to poor houseBy Michael GrahamFriday, July 6, 2007 As a lawyer and a politician, Deval Patrick has defended rapists, racial quotas and even reparations for slavery. Now he’s ready to defend something truly radical: capitalism. In a move utterly unexpected from the “Cadillac of Governors,” Patrick may become a champion of free markets and consumer choice - at least in the area of auto insurance. A panel appointed by Patrick in January to consider car insurance reform has recommended less government interference and (members of the Massachusetts teachers unions may want to sit down for this) “competitive, market-based” insurance rates. Instead of denouncing them as right-wing extremists, Patrick called the panel’s recommendations “a meaningful first step introducing a level of competition which will prove beneficial to all Massachusetts drivers.” For a business-basher like Patrick, that’s positively Reaganesque. Now comes word that Patrick’s insurance commissioner, Nonnie Burnes, has been overheard suggesting that there may be something to this whole “free enterprise” system after all. When confronted with these rumors, the Patrick administration did not throw the usual Massachusetts liberal tantrum and throw the bourgeoisie under the anti-big-business bus. Instead, a spokesman merely denied that Patrick has made a decision either way. Which sent state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson (D-Boston) into a pseudo-Marxist frenzy. “I think this is potentially the worst, negative economic policy decision that faces this governor during his tenure,” she said, calling market-based auto insurance a “disaster.” Maybe capitalism is a “disaster,” but without it, Massachusetts has the fourth highest car insurance rates in America. We’re also the only state that lets state regulators, not the market, set rates. Wilkerson points out that state regulators have lowered rates three years in a row. She’s right. But according to the Insurance Fraud Bureau, most of that reduction came from a statewide crackdown on insurance fraud. About half of rate cuts since 2004 can be traced back to reducing fraud in just five communities: Lawrence, Haverhill, Methuen, Andover and North Andover. Lawrence is notorious for auto insurance fraud. But thanks to the Massachusetts system, drivers across the state pay higher premiums to subsidize the bad behavior in Lawrence. How is that fair? To her credit, Wilkerson acknowledges that “fair” is not her objective. Her objective is to protect people who live in high-claims, high-crime, high-risk areas - i.e., her constituents - from the consequences of their actions. Ask Wilkerson why our government-controlled insurance system has rates 25 percent higher than the national average, and Wilkerson blames Bay Staters for being lousy drivers (her words, not mine). It’s not the system, she claims, it’s the stupidity of the people of Massachusetts. Well, every state has some bad drivers, of course. But our bad drivers are the worst of the worst, passing an estimated $300 million in costs onto the rest of us. That’s because, in Massachusetts, the worse you drive, the more subsidies you get from good drivers. Dangerous drivers who would be paying $6,000 or more per year in New York or Connecticut can pay as little as $2,000 here. Who pays the other $4,000? All you suckers driving in the right-hand lane and obeying the speed limit. It’s not fair. It’s not right. And, as astonishing as it may sound, the champion of capitalism who steps forward to stop it may be Deval Patrick of Milton (Friedman?), Mass.
However, Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. -- aka Luciforo -- represents the Twilight Zone theme of Berkshire County's inner workings. Luciforo's father was a Berkshire State Senator and then a Berkshire Probate Judge. Luciforo's aunt was a Mayor of Pittsfield in the late 1980's. Luciforo tried to jail me for exercising my free speech rights during the period I defended my dad's stance for county governments. Luciforo tried to ruin my dad's career during the same time period: The Spring of 1998. As Berkshire State Senator, Luciforo went onto chair legislative committees regulating big banks and insurance companies while at the same time serving as a private Attorney for a Boston Law Firm named "Berman & Dowell" where Luciforo represented the same financial institutions he was setting public policies, laws and regulations for in the Massachusetts State Legislature from around 2001 - 2006. Moreover, Luciforo still represents these big business financial institution in 2007 while publicly serving as a Berkshire Register of Deeds, which he was annointed to after he strong-armed two women candidates out of the state election for this seat in the Spring of 2006. In 2008 or 2010, it is heavily predicted that Luciforo is going to make a run for the United States Congressional Seat by ousting John W. Olver out of the Democratic Party Primary election before Olver's seat is lost to population attrition in the 2012 Congressional Election cycle. Of course, Luciforo stands a solid chance at ousting Olver either next year and/or in 3 years from now because the big financial institutions in and around Boston will heavily finance his bid to represent their special interests on Capitol Hill.The reason why I illustrate Luciforo's political designs is because it gives a context to the inner workings of Berkshire County's Twilight Zone styled inner workings. Only in Berkshire County would the political elite give into Luciforo's agenda, which would continue to see persecutions, undemocratic state elections, conflicts of interests, and the selling out of a snowed in local population for the special interests of Boston's financial sector corporate elites. The reason why everyone gives into Luciforo is because of his inbred, multigenerational family history of entrenched political control of a local area. To illustrate, during the 6 weeks I went around Pittsfield in the late winter of 2004 when I attempted to oppose him for Berkshire State Senator, many people told me that they did not like or respect Luciforo, but if the local political ruling class found out I was receiving their support then they would lose their respective jobs. People actually feared for their jobs if they did not give lip service to Luciforo's political agenda. That is The Twilight Zone theme of Berkshire County politics.-----
Foreclosure fund to aid borrowers Wire and Staff Reports Berkshire Eagle Article Last Updated:07/12/2007 Thursday, July 12, 2007BOSTON — Massachusetts will become one of the first states in the nation to try to curb rising foreclosures by raising cash through bond sales, a move that will help create a $250 million fund to help struggling borrowers refinance and stay in their homes. Fannie Mae, the federally sponsored buyer of home mortgages, will provide $190 million for the program announced yesterday by Gov. Deval L. Patrick's administration. MassHousing, the state's quasi-public affordable housing agency, will sell bonds to cover its $60 million portion.The money will help provide foreclosure prevention counseling to homeowners, and help those behind on their payments to refinance from high-risk subprime mortgages into conventional fixed-rate loans.Housing agencies will negotiate on behalf of individual homeowners. The state will seek to have lenders absorb some of the financial hit from recently declining home values by encouraging them to agree to new loans smaller than the ones that got homeowners into trouble, rather than pursuing foreclosure."They can either accept 90 or 95 percent of the original loan, or they would have to take that borrower through foreclosure," Tina Brooks, Patrick's undersecretary of housing, said in a phone interview. "Foreclosure means making a bet that once the lender receives the property, they would then be able to sell it at a value to recover the full balance of the loan, plus all of the costs involved in taking it through foreclosure."Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., Middle Berkshire Registrar of Deeds, said the plan is a step in the right direction."Many of the borrowers with poor credit situations are falling below the line, and the governor has made housing and keeping housed families in housing a priority of his," Nuciforo said.Amid the current housing market slump, lenders typically can't sell homes in foreclosure auctions at prices that would grant a payout equal to the original loan amount, said John Battaglia, a board member of the Massachusetts Mortgage Bankers Association.So it may make sense to accept a smaller, refinanced loan in cases where borrowers appear able to afford new repayment terms, Battaglia said. But the state can't force a lender to do so."Each one has to be looked at individually," he said. "If you're talking about a 10 percent hit or a 20 percent hit, it's probably a lot better than foreclosing, because you tend to lose 30 percent or more on a foreclosure property."Massachusetts is among many states that have recently sought to ease spiking foreclosure rates by tightening lending regulations. Because Massachusetts will now also back refinancing through bond sales, its statewide foreclosure prevention program "is the most comprehensive and flexible we're aware of to date," Brooks said.In a separate announcement yesterday, Attorney General Martha Coakley said her office reached a preliminary agreement with subprime lender Fremont Investment & Loan to immediately halt foreclosures on the firm's mortgage loans in Massachusetts.Material from The Associated Press was used in this report. Eagle staffer Hillary Chabot contributed to this story.
Insure chief may revamp auto system, ignite furorBy Bruce Mohl, Globe Staff | July 12, 2007For the past 30 years, state insurance commissioners in Massachusetts have held a hearing each spring on whether automobile insurers should be allowed to set their own rates. Like actors following a script, the answer has always been the same: no.But this year there's a new director with a new script. Insurance Commissioner Nonnie S. Burnes , a Superior Court judge until five months ago, has signaled that she would like to give auto insurers some flexibility in setting their own premiums, shedding Massachusetts' distinction as the only state in the nation where regulators set all rates.The commissioner is unlikely to approve unfettered competition. During a hearing in May, Burnes indicated with her questions that she favored allowing companies to set their own rates within certain ranges approved by her. If she follows the recommendations of a gubernatorial study group, she also is likely to retain subsidies for urban drivers and bar companies from using credit scores to set rates. A decision is expected by Monday.As the high-stakes drama unfolds, insurance industry officials have privately been speculating about what is driving Burnes. Why is a commissioner with just five months on the job pressing so hard for changes that are likely to spawn legal challenges to her authority as well as a political firestorm for the governor?Drivers aren't clamoring for change. Massachusetts premiums are among the highest in the nation, in part because the accident rate here is the highest in the nation. But rates have been falling here as they have elsewhere around the country, dropping 8.7 percent in 2006 and 11.7 percent this year. Rates are expected to drop sharply again next year.Attorney General Martha Coakley , half the state's auto insurers, and the two consumer groups that follow auto insurance issues have urged Burnes to continue to set rates next year. Glenn Kaplan , chief of Coakley's insurance and financial services division, warned Burnes in a 10-page memo that she could face "significant and costly litigation" if she tries to usher in on her own a "hybrid" form of competition where companies compete within price ranges."There is no reliable basis in the record of this docket to support a shift to deregulation of rates this year," wrote Kaplan, whose office would defend Burnes if she is sued. "Such a sudden shift would be bad for consumers and bad for the long term viability of our marketplace."James Harrington , executive director of the Massachusetts Insurance Federation, a group of auto insurers pushing for competition, said Burnes is handling the competition issue the same way she handled cases for 10 years in Superior Court."She's done a dispassionate, objective, thorough, and independent analysis of this auto insurance market," he said.At one hearing, Burnes said she had read all the prior auto insurance cases and decisions dating back to 1977, the last time a commissioner administratively implemented competition and rates skyrocketed for many young and urban drivers.Burnes also appears to be following the marching orders of Governor Deval Patrick , her current boss and legal partner at Hill & Barlow in the late 1980s and early 1990s. During the campaign for governor, Patrick indicated he would support increasing competition among auto insurers within the existing regulatory framework.A study group appointed by Patrick backed limited competition. Some industry officials have said competition would drive down insurance premiums, but the study group supported phased-in competition to appeal to large national insurers such as Progressive Corp., Geico, and Allstate Corp., which currently shun the state because of its heavily regulated system."The automobile insurance market is ailing, and some form of competitive rating is essential to attract and retain insurers willing to write this line of business," the study group said.Those opposed to auto insurance competition in Massachusetts are dismayed that Burnes, the appointee of a Democrat, seems to be following the lead of former Republican Governor Mitt Romney . Romney pushed hard for auto insurance competition in the Legislature, but got nowhere. His insurance commissioner, Julianne M. Bowler , did not implement competition administratively.According to these officials, Burnes is pushing hard for competition in part because her staff, hand-picked by her pro competition predecessor, is egging her on. Payroll records indicate the staff at the Division of Insurance is largely the same today as it was under Bowler; only 10 of the 128 employees have changed since Burnes took over in late February.The top advisers are all the same, including legal counsel Elisabeth Ditomassi , who helped draft Romney's auto insurance bill; actuary Cara Blank ; and Deputy Commissioner Joseph Murphy .At a recent auto insurance hearing, Democratic Senator Marc R. Pacheco of Taunton raised the staff issue with Burnes, telling her "there are still members left from that administration that continue to make recommendations all across the government that, quite frankly, are not or have not been proconsumer."Burnes assured Pacheco she was making her own decisions, just as she did in a dramatic opening statement at an auto insurance hearing in May."I have been hearing through the grapevine, and you all know how active this grapevine is, that I'm not making my own decisions here, that somebody else is telling me what to do, whether it's my staff or somebody else. That's not true," Burnes said. "I take a lot of advice, both from my staff and from all of you. But any decision that you see coming out of this agency I'm responsible for, and I want to make that very clear."
Dear Berkshire Bloggers: I BELIEVE IT IS A SURE BET THAT NUCIFORO (aka Luciforo) is going to run for U.S. Congress next year and/or in 3 years from now to serve the Boston area corporate elite's large financial institution's interests in Washington, D.C. now that Beacon Hill has approved competitive insurance public policies on the state government level. I hope John W. Olver, the current Congressman representing Western Massachusetts, defeat's his future opponent in a landslide victory!Here is Luciforo's recent history of conflicts of interest--public and private dealings--with insurance companies:Part One.Senate President Robert E. Travaglini recently appointed me [Luciforo] to serve as chairman of the newly-formed Committee on Financial Services. The committee will have jurisdiction relating to banks, credit unions, insurance companies, insurance agents, state securities laws, and a variety of other matters. The Financial Services committee will consider changes to Massachusetts laws relating to automobile insurance, homeowners insurance, mortgage lending, and other matters that have a direct impact on consumers across the Commonwealth. Part Two.Luciforo is a Corporate Attorney for a private Boston Law Firm representing Insurance companies.Go to: http://www.bermananddowell.com/jsp2196567.jspBerman & Dowell 210 Commercial Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02109-1305 Telephone: 617-723-9911 Facsimile: 617-723-6688 bermananddowell.comAndrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.Of CounselEmail: email@example.comPractice Areas: Professional Liability Defense; Commercial Litigation; Banking Law; Insurance Coverage; Insurance Defense.Admitted: 1989, Massachusetts; 1990, New York; 1991, U.S. District Court, District of MassachusettsLaw School: Boston University, J.D., 1989College: University of Massachusetts, B.A., 1986Member: Berkshire and Massachusetts Bar Associations.Biography: Law Clerk to Chief Judge Frank H. Freedman, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts, 1989-1991. State Senator, Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin District, 1997-2007 and Member, 1997-2007 and Chairman, 1999-2007, Committee on Financial Services, Massachusetts State Senate.Born: Pittsfield, Massachusetts, February 26, 1964ISLN: 904108949Luciforo was also a recent [Berkshire] State Senator who is against a big rate cut for Insurance companies. Moreover, he is against opening up the Insurance market up to a free market.Part Three.Insurers swell senator's war chest Nuciforo able to raise $137,000 in donations By Erik Arvidson, Eagle Boston BureauThe Berkshire EagleSaturday, January 21, 2006Luciforo's top donor was the Webster-based Commerce Insurance Co., the state's largest auto insurer, which had 18 executives or employees donate a total of $9,000. All of them donated the maximum $500 allowed to an individual under the state's campaign finance laws. Commerce has lobbied the Legislature heavily to retain the current closely regulated system, opposing a plan by Romney to provide drivers with more choice and to introduce more competition. » Luciforo's top five donors These are the top five companies that had employees contributing to state Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr.'s campaign in 2005:1. Commerce Insurance Co. — $9,0002. Liberty Mutual — $6,8003. Nation One Mortgage — $5,3504. Arbella Insurance Group — $2,4005. Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas LLP — $1,775 Part Four.A Boston Globe NEWS ARTICLEEx-senator moving on insurance positionSix say Nuciforo sought adviceBy Frank Phillips, Globe Staff January 16, 2007Former state senator Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., who was sworn in two weeks ago as Berkshire County register of deeds, is already moving on to his next job search: a bid to become Governor Deval Patrick's commissioner of insurance.Nuciforo, who has been the Senate chairman of the committee that oversees the state's heavily regulated insurance industry, has told his former colleagues and politically connected figures on Beacon Hill that he wants the insurance post, which would pay about $120,000 a year. The move would require him to resign as register, which pays him about $80,000 a year but also permits him to practice law. ...-----State's auto insurance could shift By Hillary Chabot, Eagle Boston BureauThe Berkshire Eagle Sunday, July 15, 2007BOSTON — Newly appointed state Insurance Commissioner Nonnie Burns will announce tomorrow whether competition will be introduced into the state's regulated auto-insurance market.Massachusetts is the only state in the nation where the state sets auto insurance rates. Insurers and legislators have been arguing for years over whether competition will improve the auto-insurance market, pointing to the effect on rates, coverage and the number of drivers insured. For many motorists, however, the question is simple — will I pay less? The answer, at least for the most recent state to introduce a slightly regulated form of competition into the auto insurance market, is yes.Drivers in New Jersey — which allows insurance companies to set auto insurance rates within a certain percent range each year — have seen their premiums go down by $53 since 2003, when they approved sweeping auto insurance reform.Complaints also have gone down, from 5,770 consumer complaints in 2003 to 2,465 in 2006, while the number of companies offering auto insurance in New Jersey has gone up from 62 to 70. Massachusetts currently has 19 carriers.James Harrington, executive director for the Massachusetts Insurance Foundation, believes that this is the best step for the state. He represents a group of auto insurers pressing for competition."We have recommended reform for years, but we've also suggested on a regular basis that we need to protect existing subsidies," Harrington said.So what is keeping former state Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., D-Pittsfield, along with Attorney General Martha Coakley, consumer advocates, urban legislators and half of the state's auto insurers from supporting a move toward competition? What you get for the money."(New Jersey drivers) have a policy insurance product that is significantly less than what you used to be able to buy there," said Deirdre Cummings, MassPIRG consumer advocate. "They're seeing a drop in rates because they're selling half a loaf of bread."Cummings served on the seven-member Auto Insurance Study Group selected by Gov. Deval L. Patrick to review competition and report on the best way to introduce it to the state.The report that the group issued called for a move toward introducing competition, but it also emphasized other routes to lower auto insurance costs, such as improving high-risk intersections. Members expressed deep concern about insurers' ability to cherry-pick good drivers using not only age but also credit scores and marital status to jack up rates.Another deterrent is that rates are falling already. The average driver has seen his or her premium go down by 30 percent in the past three years. Why fix something that isn't broken? Nuciforo said.Coakley, who would have to defend Burns in possible lawsuits if she goes ahead with allowing competition, argued against the change, saying that the sudden switch would spark lawsuits and confuse consumers.But perhaps the biggest argument against change is history. Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, said current lawmakers can learn from the attempt to introduce competition in the 1970s, which led to astronomical rates for urban drivers."We need to address the systemic issues on the part of the Legislature by addressing fraud, driving habits and trying to get at the root cause of the prices instead of getting a quick fix. I'd have more of an appetite to go that route," Downing said.New Jersey did not go to a completely deregulated system, such as Massachusetts did in 1976, and it still subsidizes its high-risk drivers. A portion of every premium goes toward subsidizing urban drivers so they are not paying rates they cannot afford, said Jim Gardner, spokesman for the Department of Banking and Insurance in New Jersey.The state also is currently redrawing territories to try and include a mix of urban and suburban in each to ensure that urban drivers do not get whacked, Gardner said.Patrick, although he implied support for introducing competition during his campaign, has remained tight-lipped on the issue. He refused to answer a reporter's questions about allowing competition into the auto-insurance market last Thursday.Burns would not speak about the upcoming ruling, and Coakley declined to discuss her views on deregulating auto insurance. -----Auto Insurance Insurance reform to give more choice Providers will be permitted to propose their own rates under a 'managed competition' system. Tuesday, July 17, 2007Wire and Staff ReportsBOSTON — Car owners could gradually see more competition in the auto insurance market under a plan unveiled yesterday by the state insurance commissioner.The transition to "managed competition" will continue to give the state strong regulatory control to protect consumers from excessive rates, but will also introduce more competition and create more choice and lower premiums, Insurance Commissioner Nonnie S. Burnes said.Massachusetts in the only state where state regulators, not the market, set car insurance rates.Consumers should be able to take advantage of the new competitive rates for policies renewing on or after April 1, 2008, Burnes said."Taking gradual steps to introduce competition to the auto insurance market will have a positive impact on consumers across Massachusetts," Burnes said.But for many local legislators, the devil is in the details."We're definitely going to look at the long-term viability and where it's going," said Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield. "I thought it was a pretty good middle ground, considering that there is some compelling evidence that some changes are required to ensure we continue to bring rates down."In March, a panel appointed by Gov. Deval L. Patrick to study ways of reforming Massachusetts' auto insurance system recommended curbing state regulation and moving toward competitive, market-based rates.The panel found that competitive rating is "essential to attract and retain insurers to write this line of business in the Commonwealth."Nineteen insurers currently write auto insurance policies in Massachusetts. Since 1990, 35 companies, including national carriers, have left the market.The state's insurance rates have been going down in recent years because of decreasing claims, and a crackdown on auto insurance fraud.Under the new regulations, which don't need legislative approval, insurance companies will still need to get the approval of Burnes' office, submitting their proposed insurance products and rates before offering them to the public."It's not like the grocery store, where they can have any price they want," she said.Burnes said she decided to take the step to partially deregulate the industry now because the industry is relatively healthy at the moment and rates are trending down anyway.She also said she will view with "extreme skepticism" insurers who propose to base rates on socio-economic factors, including education, occupation, home ownership or credit scores.Burnes said she'll retain her power to disapprove rates before they become effective, prevent rates that are unfairly discriminatory and step in after rates take effect if they appear excessive in any given territory.The plan has its skeptics.Deirdre Cummings, program director for the consumer advocacy group MassPIRG, said she's reserving judgment until she's had more time to study the issue.Cummings it would be better to ban outright rates based on socio-economic factors like education, occupation and home ownership. She also hoped the new regulations are the subject of a public hearing before they are made final."There are clearly ways to design a competitive insurance market preserving consumer protections," she said, reserving judgment until she sees more details.Stephen D'Amato of the Center for Insurance Research, a consumer advocacy nonprofit in Cambridge, said drivers could actually end up losing their choice of insurer under the plan.Right now, any driver can choose any insurer, but under the plan, D'Amato said, insurers could try to limit access to discount and lower rates based on factors that mirror race and income."(Burnes) can say it will increase choice, but today you have total flexibility," he said. "Under her plan, (insurers) can use a slew of factors that we believe are discriminatory."Others applauded the plan.Joseph Meador, a professor in the college of business at Northeastern University and a member of Patrick's auto insurance task force, said Burnes' proposal bring some reality to the auto insurance rate-setting process."Hopefully (insurers) will be able to develop more accurate rates and be able to reflect groups of drivers' actual cost in setting rates, rather than some arbitrary statewide average," he said.Fred Eppinger, chief executive officer of The Hanover Insurance Group, called the decision "thoughtful and measured" and said it will "enable quality agents to provide their customers with more choices — more products and services."Patrick, who appointed Burnes, said the decision will "bring greater choice and savings to consumers, reduce costs and maintain equity and fairness for all Massachusetts drivers."In a separate decision issued yesterday, Burnes adopted an assigned risk plan, changing the way high-risk drivers are distributed among insurers.Hillary Chabot of the Eagle Boston Bureau and The Associated Press contributed to this report. -----State to let drivers shop for best rates'Managed competition' for insurers starts in '08By Bruce Mohl, Globe Staff | July 17, 2007Insurance Commissioner Nonnie S. Burnes yesterday said she plans to give the 4 million drivers in Massachusetts a taste of auto insurance competition next year, letting them shop around for the best deal for the first time in 30 years.Instead of approving one set of rates that every company must charge, which has been past practice, Burnes said she plans to let companies set their own rates for 2008, under close supervision from the Division of Insurance.The new rate-setting process will start April 1.Burnes called the new system "managed competition," but offered few details about how it would work. She said details would emerge when she issues regulations covering the competitive rate-setting process.She promised at least one public hearing on the regulations.In a telephone interview, Burnes said companies would file their rates with supporting analysis, and they would take effect unless her office rejected them.She said companies could base their premiums on such factors as driving record, the number and severity of at-fault accidents, and traffic violations.She said she would view "with extreme skepticism" any rate proposal based on socioeconomic considerations, such as education, occupation, home ownership, or an individual's credit score.In materials accompanying her decision, she said her managed competition would fall short of "unfettered competition." She said it would ensure that good drivers, irrespective of where they live, would receive lower rates. She said it would also give insur ers more flexibility to introduce "competitive products."Separately, Burnes said she plans to change the method of assigning drivers whom no insurer wants to cover voluntarily . Currently, those higher-risk drivers can select any insurer, and the insurer then decides whether to assign the driver to an industry pool, where profits and losses are split among the companies doing business in the state.Under Burnes's proposal, such drivers would be randomly assigned, with the number of assignments to any one carrier based on that company's market share. Drivers who are assigned will lose the ability to select their own insurer.The decision was issued after 6 last night. A spokeswoman for Attorney General Martha Coakley , who had urged Burnes not to introduce competition and warned that she might face an industry lawsuit if she did, declined to comment. The spokeswoman said Coakley had not had time to review the decision.James Ermilio , a senior vice president at Commerce Insurance of Webster, the state's largest automobile insurer, with more than a third of the market, said a system allowing the company to set its own rates would be beneficial. But Ermilio, who has opposed earlier attempts to introduce competition, said much would depend on the details and how agents and young and urban drivers would be affected."If the details protect those interests, then it's going to be a good system for us," he said.The last time a state insurance commissioner permitted competition among auto insurers was in 1977. Rates at that time rose 14.5 percent statewide, but rates in some urban areas skyrocketed. The seven-month experiment was quickly canceled, and insurance commissioners ever since have set all auto insurance rates."We can no longer be held hostage to the failed 1977 experience," Burnes wrote in her 25-page decision.Massachusetts is the only state in the nation where regulators set all auto insurance rates. Since 1990, 35 companies have abandoned the state because of its insurance system, according to the division. Many major national insurers, including Progressive Corp., Geico, and Allstate Corp., currently shun the state because of its heavily regulated system.Several other states, including most recently New Jersey, have opened their markets to greater competition in the past decade. The moves have attracted more insurers to those states and often have resulted in lower rates for good drivers. But in some cases, rates for young and urban drivers have risen. Young drivers tend to have higher accident rates because of their lack of experience, while rates in urban areas are higher because of greater congestion, theft, and fraud.Burnes vowed to protect young and urban drivers as Massachusetts moves toward auto insurance competition.Currently, suburban and experienced drivers pay slightly higher premiums, so the rates of urban and inexperienced drivers can be kept relatively low. Burnes promised to continue the existing system of subsidies."We're going to continue to protect them through the regulatory process," she said.Burnes said she believes there is too much emphasis in the current rates on where a car is garaged, which she says penalizes good drivers. She said she intends to review the number of territories in use in 2009.Across the country, auto insurance rates have been falling as safer cars and other factors have resulted in a drop in the number of claims. Massachusetts auto insurance rates fell 8.7 percent in 2006 and 11.7 percent this year. Industry officials say they expect rates to continue falling in 2009, and Burnes said rates should fall further under the new competitive rate-setting system."Structurally, they should," Burnes said.Burnes, a former Superior Court judge who was appointed by Governor Deval Patrick in late February, said she decided to move to competition because the governing statute demanded it. Under the law, she said, the commissioner sets the rates only if competitive rates would be excessive, or lead to the insolvency of insurers. She said testimony she heard indicated neither of those conditions existed.Burnes said she briefed Patrick on her plans last week, but noted that "he had no input" on the decision. Patrick's office issued a statement last night saying he supported her."I am confident that she will keep a steady hand on this process as it moves forward to ensure that all Massachusetts consumers realize the benefits inherent to this transition," Patrick said.------ Jonathan A. Melle
Car insurers: Competition should workBut critics say new system will end up penalizing someBy Bruce Mohl, Globe Staff | July 18, 2007Insurance Commissioner Nonnie S. Burnes's decision to introduce "managed" auto insurance competition next year won strong industry support yesterday, even from companies that have opposed competition in the past.Attorney General Martha Coakley , several state senators, and consumer activists voiced concerns, but they adopted a wait-and-see attitude on the changes.National insurers that have shunned the state for years because of its heavily regulated system applauded Burnes's decision but said they weren't ready to start selling policies here anytime soon.Burnes, a Superior Court judge until Governor Deval Patrick appointed her insurance commissioner in late February, said Monday night that she planned to open the state's auto insurance market to "managed competition," starting April 1.The commissioner offered few details, but said insurers would be allowed to set their own rates, subject to close supervision by the Division of Insurance. Burnes also said she would start randomly assigning drivers that no insurer wants to cover voluntarily to carriers.The two initiatives are the most sweeping changes to the state's auto insurance system since 1977, the last time a commissioner approved competitive rate-setting. That experiment proved to be a disaster, as rates skyrocketed in some urban areas. Regulators scrapped competition after just seven months and began setting uniform rates that every company was required to charge.Burnes now says she plans to scrap the state rate-setting process -- the only one of its kind in the nation -- dismissing concerns raised by Coakley, industry opponents, and consumer groups.Coakley had said that auto insurance rates might rise, particularly in urban areas, if competition was introduced. She also warned Burnes that she would probably be sued if she tried to introduce competition administratively.In an appendix to her decision, Burnes called Coakley's "doomsday prophecy" about rising rates "wholly unsupported." She also said the threat of litigation was not an appropriate basis for inaction.Coakley yesterday issued a muted statement, saying she had concerns about whether the Massachusetts market was ready for competition but indicating she was moving on, gearing up to scrutinize company rate filings.Commerce Insurance of Webster, the state's largest automobile insurer and in the past a fierce of opponent of change, indicated yesterday that it would not try to block the changes with a lawsuit. Company officials said they would focus on making money under the new system."We're fully on board with this. We will support the commissioner," said Gerard Fels , president and chief executive of Commerce, on a conference call with analysts.Patrick administration officials met with five senators opposed to the changes and urged them to postpone any action until Burnes develops the regulatory framework for managed competition.State Senator Dianne Wilkerson , a Democrat from Roxbury, said the changes ordered by Burnes were being implemented so out-of-state insurers could come into Massachusetts and make as much money as they do elsewhere.Wilkerson said urban drivers will be the big losers under Burnes's managed competition. She said urban drivers, because of where they live and not because of how they drive, would be randomly assigned to carriers and denied the ability to shop for the best rate."People who live in cities will not be participating in competition," Wilkerson said. "We may be heading down a path where we turn our regulated system into a segregated system."Burnes indicated she would not allow insurers to use socioeconomic factors such as credit scores, income, occupation, and home ownership status in setting rates.But the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group and the Center for Insurance Research in Cambridge said insurers would use those socioeconomic factors to decide whom to insure. The consumer groups predicted hundreds of thousands of drivers, possibly a million, would end up being randomly assigned to carriers, losing their ability to shop around.Douglas Nadeau , a spokesman for Illinois-based State Farm Insurance, which refuses to write auto insurance in Massachusetts, called the Burnes decision "a positive step in the right direction." But he said the company was still concerned about the way experienced and suburban drivers in Massachusetts pay higher rates to subsidize the rates of young and urban drivers.Cristy Cote , a spokeswoman for Ohio-based Progressive Group of Insurance Cos., which also shuns the state, said the company was encouraged by the changes. "We look forward to the day when we can offer our private passenger auto products to Massachusetts drivers," she said.Bruce Mohl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GLOBE EDITORIALInsurance unsettlementJuly 18, 2007INSURANCE Commissioner Nonnie Burnes made some auto insurers happy this week by dismantling the decades-old "fixed and established" system by which the state sets the annual maximum rate used by insurers to calculate premiums. No such joyous sounds, however, are coming from consumer organizations concerned about what these changes could mean for young and urban drivers.Next year, insurers will begin proposing their own rates.Burnes says she is confident that her "managed competition" system will lead to lower premiums for many of the state's drivers. Suburban motorists who look like good risks to insurance underwriters could catch a break, especially if there are no teen drivers in the family. But a few years down the road, upward of 1 million Massachusetts drivers could find themselves thrown into an assigned risk pool, randomly assigned to an insurer, and slapped with higher premiums and the loss of discounts, according to the nonprofit group MASSPIRG.Burnes says she is motivated by a desire to bring lower rates to all consumers with good driving records, regardless of where they live. We have no reason to question her sincerity. But her case would be more convincing if she would unequivocally reject the practices of national insurers now looking to expand into Massachusetts. In other states, they use extraneous factors, such as a driver's education, occupation, homeownership status, and credit score, when setting rates.In her decision Monday, Burnes wrote that any such efforts by insurers would be met with "extreme skepticism" on her part. And in an interview yesterday, she said she doubts any company could provide compelling evidence justifying the use of such data. Yet she did not categorically rule out the application of socioeconomic factors that would likely fall especially hard on urban and immigrant drivers. She needs to set that limit specifically before national insurers arrive with their big promises and small print.At least during the transition stage, Burnes says, she will protect the system that flattens rates for urban and inexperienced drivers. But the future is uncertain. In Massachusetts, about 80 percent of drivers pay a little more so that 20 percent of drivers can pay a lot less. That subsidy is a significant reason that Massachusetts has the second-lowest rate of uninsured motorists in the nation. It would be a shame, and a potentially costly one for all insured motorists, to see that rate rise.Burnes, a former Superior Court judge, isn't reluctant to use her discretion or assert control. But it's one thing to manage a courtroom and another to control an auto insurance market with roughly 4 million autos. Until she supplies more details about her deregulation efforts -- especially the factors that mark a driver as high risk -- there will be a lot of nervous drivers around here.
ARCHIVESCOMMENTARY - Car owners need true insurance reformBy MICHAEL S. DUKAKISNonnie Burnes, the new insurance commissioner, has just ruled that Massachusetts will take another stab at competitive auto insurance rating.As the governor who tried it in 1977, with disastrous results, I share the concerns of many about how it is going to affect a lot of Massachusetts motorists, particularly those in our older urban communities such as Quincy and Brockton.Fortunately, the commissioner has made it clear that she will not permit insurance companies under the new system to discriminate against certain drivers for reasons other than their own driving records. Nonnie Burnes and Deval Patrick were young lawyers in the law firm I left to become governor, and I have a lot of respect for both of them. But they are going to have to be very tough if the move to competitive rating is going to avoid the results we experienced some 30 years ago.Unfortunately, competitive rating in whatever form isn’t going to save the system a lot of money. Some people will pay less, and some people will pay more, but unless there is fundamental reform of the auto insurance system itself, there won’t be much, if anything, in the way of overall savings, especially for motorists in our older cities.That is where Auto Choice comes in and why it makes so much sense. Auto Choice is a simple but important reform that for the first time would give Massachusetts motorists a choice of straight no-fault coverage for all medical expenses, lost wages and other economic losses but without pain and suffering or the option to remain in the liability/fault system with all its delays, uncertainties and hefty lawyers’ fees.The choice would be yours, and yours alone. And if you chose straight no-fault, your premium would drop by several hundred dollars year. In Quincy, that would mean annual savings in excess of $400 dollars a year. In Weymouth, it would be a little less than $400, while Plymouth would save about $340 a year. And in Brockton, the average annual savings per motorists would be more than $550 a year.In fact, if the vast majority of Massachusetts motorists elected the no-fault option, the overall savings would be the equivalent of a $1 billion tax cut without any loss of revenue to the state treasury.And make no mistake about it- the auto insurance premiums we pay are every bit as much a tax as any other burden imposed on us by state government.At a time when the middle class in this country and state are carrying heavier and heavier burdens and getting almost none of the tax cuts that much wealthier people have been getting since 2001, here is a chance to give them some real relief and remove a big burden on the state’s courts as well.The Legislature has already taken an important first step in this direction. The Legislative Committee on Financial Services, chaired by Quincy’s own Rep. Ron Mariano and Sen. Stephen Buoniconti, D-Springfield, has for the first time reported the bill out favorably from the committee.Now it is up to us. If we want real rate relief and several hundred dollars worth of cuts in our auto insurance premiums every year, we have to let the governor, the insurance commissioner and our legislators know that Auto Choice is the kind of fundamental reform we need.Nobody really knows what impact competitive rating will have on us individually.But the savings from Auto Choice are real - and they will benefit everybody.Michael S. Dukakis was a three-term governor of Massachusetts and the 1988 Democratic nominee for president. He teaches political science at Northeastern University and University of California, Los Angeles.Copyright 2007 The Patriot LedgerTransmitted Thursday, July 19, 2007
Re: NEWS ARTICLE -- "Fender Bender: Last year, opponents thought they had killed auto-insurance reform for good. Its resurrection could be a headache for Deval Patrick" (The [Boston] Phoenix Online, By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN, July 26, 2007): "Advocates of auto-insurance reform insist that naysayers such as Pacheco are a small but vocal minority, and that they are the pawns of insurance companies, including Arbella, Plymouth Rock, and Commerce Insurance, which would be hurt by increased competition from national insurers that currently shun the state because of the restrictive rate-setting system." "[O]pponents of the reform...are pointing to...specific high-placed employees who formerly worked for State Representative Ronald Mariano, a Democrat who has spearheaded auto-insurance-reform legislation." "But if the Patrick administration was for sale on this issue, the other side — the losing one in this past week’s announcement — was also bidding. Reform opponents Arbella and Commerce Insurance were among those Platinum inauguration contributors. Commerce employees and board members also gave tens of thousands to Patrick’s campaign."THE WAR IS NOT OVER ..."How well he (Gov. Patrick) quells those concerns may be seen in the coming months, in how big a fight senators, including Berry, Menard, Pacheco, and Wilkerson, are willing to put up to preserve the auto-insurance status quo. / It would be an unwelcome challenge to the administration from the left, particularly if it is joined by Senate President Therese Murray, who is said to be sympathetic to the anti-reform argument — and who has herself received contributions from Commerce Insurance board members." -----NewsFender benderLast year, opponents thought they had killed auto-insurance reform for good. Its resurrection could be a headache for Deval Patrick.By DAVID S. BERNSTEINJuly 26, 2007 11:52:16 AMRecent signs on Beacon Hill indicate to some that Deval Patrick is not quite the progressive, populist lefty that many of his supporters — and detractors — think he is. On issue after issue, Patrick’s instinct is to offer breaks and incentives to corporations and large nonprofits, and it’s beginning to diminish the support of an increasing number of legislators — including several state senators who are crucial to the success on his more ambitious agenda items. Pushing several would-be allies over the edge was the announcement this past Monday that Patrick’s insurance commissioner, Nonnie Burnes, will end Massachusetts’s decades-long experiment with auto-insurance-rate regulation. Instead of a state commission setting those rates, insurance companies will now have the freedom to compete, within limits. Liberal legislators, who argue that the current system protects poor, young, and urban drivers, have expressed shock that Patrick will usher in this change; they fear that insurers will raise rates most on those who can least afford it, and will punish drivers based on location, credit history, and factors other than one’s driving record. Although Burnes says that she will protect against such outcomes, opponents still think this is a bad, anti-consumer idea that they believed had died when Mitt Romney left office. This auto-insurance stunner, along with other perceived pro-business policies, has helped push progressive senators Joan Menard, Frederick Berry, Steven Panagiotakas, Marc Pacheco, Dianne Wilkerson, and Patricia Jehlen to sour on Patrick, to varying degrees. These are pols who supported Patrick’s candidacy, and should be solid allies now that he is in office. “There are a lot of unhappy people in the building right now,” says Wilkerson. This dynamic is contrary to Patrick’s public reputation, which was forged by the high-profile fight over closing corporate-tax loopholes. That battle cast Patrick as the populist, and the legislature — House Speaker Sal DiMasi in particular — as the corporate shill. But aside from that one issue — which Patrick pushed for the fiscally conservative purpose of balancing the budget without adding new taxes on residents — the governor has embraced a string of what some see as corporate-friendly policies. Patrick has taken heat, for example, for alleged “corporate welfare” in pushing a $10 million grant to the developers of Boston’s Columbus Center. He enthusiastically supported, and this past week signed, new tax breaks for movie studios to film in the Commonwealth. He supports a sales-tax holiday, seen by some as a gift to retail chains with little benefit to the state. He has endorsed financial breaks to help those building the Boston University biotech lab and the Cape Cod wind farm. And in his bio-med/stem-cell bill, he intends to push a billion dollars of investment to companies and universities. New gov, old fight “For a long time, we’ve been the Democratic shield stopping the Republican bullets,” says Pacheco of the State Senate. “We finally have a Democratic governor, and we keep having the same kinds of battles.” Advocates of auto-insurance reform insist that naysayers such as Pacheco are a small but vocal minority, and that they are the pawns of insurance companies, including Arbella, Plymouth Rock, and Commerce Insurance, which would be hurt by increased competition from national insurers that currently shun the state because of the restrictive rate-setting system. Nevertheless, criticisms from liberals in the legislature have prompted the governor to unleash his PR machine, to insulate him from Burnes’s decision. Although Patrick is publicly supporting the reform, he has done so with tepid language. Meanwhile, his staff and Burnes herself have stressed that she worked independently, apolitically, and non-ideologically in making her decision. Together they have hammered that point home in a series of public comments. Burnes tells the Phoenix that she did not have any conversation — any at all — with Patrick concerning auto-insurance reform until she briefed him on her decision days before announcing it publicly. Instead, Burnes, a former Superior Court judge, argues she was required by statute, not driven by ideology, to implement the change. “It really was a legal decision,” she says. Patrick has another reason to insist it was not his decision. Just three weeks before the Burnes bombshell, Patrick solicited, and accepted, $20,000 worth of contributions from executives at Liberty Mutual, the company fighting hardest for reform. That looks unseemly at best, unless Patrick really was totally uninvolved in the decision. According to people close to the issue, Patrick’s advisors had to be aware that Burnes’s decision to adopt a market-driven rate system would cause political problems. Those advisors also knew that they gained little or nothing by it: even supporters of the reform concede that the public isn’t clamoring for such a change. The fact that Patrick allowed Burnes to proceed, then, certainly looks like an example of good government as pledged on the campaign trail — just as his “corporate welfare” items look to many to be smart economic-growth initiatives. In this light, Patrick hired Burnes based on competence rather than ideology or loyalty, gave her the freedom to act independently, and didn’t allow politics to get in the way. But the reaction by angry legislators demonstrates just how hard it is to insulate any governmental action from charges of politics. For starters, opponents of the reform, including Pacheco, are pointing to a large number of Romney holdovers on Burnes’s staff — and to specific high-placed employees who formerly worked for State Representative Ronald Mariano, a Democrat who has spearheaded auto-insurance-reform legislation. Those staffers, critics say, influenced the decision by feeding Burnes bad information. Burnes denies the charge. Then there’s the money trail, including that recent bonanza from almost all of Liberty Mutual’s management team. Edmund Kelly, Liberty Mutual’s CEO, stood beside Romney when the then-governor denounced the existing system as “Stalinist” in 2005. In 2006, Kelly and other Liberty Mutual executives contributed more than $20,000 to Kerry Healey and her running mate, but since the election have opened their wallets for Patrick (see “Crash Test Dummies” sidebar). But if the Patrick administration was for sale on this issue, the other side — the losing one in this past week’s announcement — was also bidding. Reform opponents Arbella and Commerce Insurance were among those Platinum inauguration contributors. Commerce employees and board members also gave tens of thousands to Patrick’s campaign. The war isn’t over Public attacks on Burnes’s staff, or on contributions to Patrick’s campaign, are not as potentially damaging as the other charge being leveled: that Patrick is, at heart, the corporate boardroom director that progressives were willing to overlook when electing him. If that perception takes hold, particularly in the State Senate, Patrick could find himself under increasing attack from the left — as he was recently by state senators who challenged him to debar Big Dig villain Bechtel from eligibility for state contracts. How well he quells those concerns may be seen in the coming months, in how big a fight senators, including Berry, Menard, Pacheco, and Wilkerson, are willing to put up to preserve the auto-insurance status quo. It would be an unwelcome challenge to the administration from the left, particularly if it is joined by Senate President Therese Murray, who is said to be sympathetic to the anti-reform argument — and who has herself received contributions from Commerce Insurance board members. --Crash test dummies After their candidate, Kerry Healey, was defeated, Liberty Mutual quickly began buttering the other side of the bread: the company was one of nine “Platinum” $50,000 donors to the Patrick-Murray Inaugural Committee.Another reform-boosting company, Worcester-based Hanover Insurance, has been particularly cozy with lieutenant governor and former Worcester mayor Timothy Murray, observers say. Hanover was also a Platinum donor for the inauguration, and bestowed a $2 million gift for a Murray pet project: restoration of Worcester’s Poli Palace Theatre. Hanover’s chairman, Michael Angelini, was a co-chair of Patrick’s transition committee. -----New insurance chief goes beyond expectationsAuto deregulation shocks industryBy Bruce Mohl, Globe Staff | July 23, 2007When Nonnie S. Burnes was appointed insurance commissioner in February, the industry group pushing for auto insurance competition in Massachusetts thought all was lost.The assumption was that Burnes, a Superior Court judge who knew nothing about the Byzantine world of auto insurance, would take a long time just to get up to speed. The fact that she was a Democrat and a liberal -- the opposite of her pro-competition predecessor -- made many insurance industry executives nervous.James Harrington , executive director of the Massachusetts Insurance Federation, said former Governor Mitt Romney had championed auto insurance deregulation. By contrast, Governor Deval Patrick had said almost nothing about auto insurance on the campaign trail and Burnes, his pick for commissioner, had a blank slate."We viewed the incoming Patrick administration with some degree of trepidation," he said.But Burnes last week shocked almost everyone. She not only mastered the minutiae of auto insurance regulation in a matter of months, but also set out to break a 30-year-old industry stalemate on deregulation. She said she planned to usher in "managed competition" next year, allowing automobile insurers to set their own rates under the close supervision of state regulators.The decision, which will end Massachusetts's distinction as the only state where regulators set all auto insurance rates, will probably have a major impact on the wallets of the state's four million drivers.Whether the result is positive will depend largely on Burnes, who has promised to protect urban drivers from the rate shock they suffered the last time competition was tried, in 1977. Burnes has offered few details about how she will do that; she plans to develop a regulatory framework for competition over the next three months.While her predecessors agonized over the politics of auto insurance deregulation and were immobilized by worries of what could go wrong, Burnes tuned out the noise and approached the issue the same way she approached cases the past 10 years as a Superior Court judge."She's used to arbitrating disputes and this whole issue of auto insurance deregulation is a classic case of, 'He said, she said,' " said Representative Ronald Mariano , a Quincy Democrat who has been caught in the corporate crossfire many times as head of the Legislature's Financial Services Committee.Monica Halas , who works at Greater Boston Legal Services and is a long time friend of the commissioner, said Burnes has always been a quick study. "She grasps things very quickly," Halas said. "She's someone who's not afraid of making a decision."$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$[Was Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick really only referring to Berkshire County's future special interest Congressman, excuse me, I mean, the Boston area's Private Attorney for wealthy Insurance Companies, Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. (aka Luciforo) in the following quote?]$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$Patrick said he did not want someone [such as Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. (aka "Luciforo")]steeped in the world of insurance as commissioner. "It was important to have an insurance commissioner who could bring a fresh set of eyes to the task at hand, who would look at the facts, not just politics, and did not come with a fixed position on critical issues," he said.$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$[REFERENCE: A Past Boston Globe NEWS ARTICLE: "Ex-senator moving on insurance position: Six say Nuciforo sought advice" (By Frank Phillips, Globe Staff, January 16, 2007): "Former state senator Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., who was sworn in two weeks ago as Berkshire County register of deeds, is already moving on to his next job search: a bid to become Governor Deval Patrick's commissioner of insurance. ..."]--[Recent Source: "State's auto insurance could shift" (By Hillary Chabot, Eagle Boston Bureau, The Berkshire Eagle, Sunday, July 15, 2007): "So what is keeping former state Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., D-Pittsfield, along with Attorney General Martha Coakley, consumer advocates, urban legislators and half of the state's auto insurers from supporting a move toward competition? What you get for the money. ...Another deterrent is that rates are falling already. The average driver has seen his or her premium go down by 30 percent in the past three years. Why fix something that isn't broken? Nuciforo said."REFERENCE: A Past Berkshire Eagle NEWS ARTICLE: "Insurers swell senator's war chest: Nuciforo able to raise $137,000 in donations" (By Erik Arvidson, Eagle Boston BureauThe Berkshire Eagle, Saturday, January 21, 2006): "[L]uciforo's top donor was the Webster-based Commerce Insurance Co., the state's largest auto insurer, which had 18 executives or employees donate a total of $9,000. All of them donated the maximum $500 allowed to an individual under the state's campaign finance laws. / Commerce has lobbied the Legislature heavily to retain the current closely regulated system, opposing a plan by Romney to provide drivers with more choice and to introduce more competition."» Luciforo's top five donors These are the top five companies that had employees contributing to state Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr.'s campaign in 2005:1. Commerce Insurance Co. — $9,0002. Liberty Mutual — $6,8003. Nation One Mortgage — $5,3504. Arbella Insurance Group — $2,4005. Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas LLP — $1,775] $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$Burnes said the decision to introduce auto insurance competition was entirely a legal one. There were no marching orders from the governor -- she says she would not have taken the job if there were -- and no personal preference for either competition or state regulation."There was no ideological motivation," she said. "I don't have a business philosophy, really."Burnes says she did what state law required. She says state law compelled her to let auto insurers set their own rates after she determined that competition was not "insufficient to assure that rates will not be excessive" or "detrimental to the solvency of insurers."Burnes turned 65 in May, a milestone, she says, that entitles her to a 25 percent discount on her auto insurance under Massachusetts law. She may be of retirement age and a grandmother (her three children are all married with children ), but Burnes shows no signs of slowing down.She met her husband of 44 years, Richard Burnes Jr., in college during the early 1960s. She was studying political science at Wellesley College and he was at Harvard University. They currently live on Beacon Hill and also have a home in Osterville. He is a founder and partner of Charles River Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Waltham.They go skiing every year in British Columbia, but not at a resort. They go heliskiing, which is off-trail downhill skiing in which the participants are transported to the top of the mountain by helicopter .The Burneses also like to sail racing boats. They recently participated in a race from Marblehead to Halifax in Canada and race from Newport, R.I., to Bermuda every other year. Burnes also likes to play tennis, garden, and read. Occasionally she baby-sits for her eight grandchildren.Burnes serves on the board of trustees of Northeastern University. She graduated from the law school there in 1978 after taking more than 10 years off after college to raise her family.After law school, she spent 19 years at the politically connected law firm of Hill & Barlow, where she was a partner along with Patrick. She handled a wide variety of cases, but is perhaps best known for representing parents who sued the state seeking better care for their mentally retarded children at state schools. The case, handled by US District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro , brought about sweeping changes in the handling of institutionalized residents.Governor William F. Weld, another veteran of Hill & Barlow, nominated Burnes for a Superior Court judgeship in 1996. She was a judge for a decade, handling everything from murder cases to medical malpractice suits, but was ready for a change when she was asked to join Patrick's administration."She likes judging, but she wanted a different experience," said Superior Court Judge Margot Botsford , a friend and former colleague of Burnes.Her new post is her first outside the legal profession, but it is not a big leap philosophically. "To be a great lawyer you have to have an attitude, the right attitude," she said in a May 25 commencement address at the Northeastern University School of Law. "You have to look for the opportunities to work for the public good wherever and however you choose to practice your profession."-----
www.nuciforo.comWebsite under construction.Please call 413-442-6810 with any questions.Monday, July 30, 2007, 7:15 P.M.
East NewsMass. Agents Could Be Losers Under Competitive Auto RatingJuly 31, 2007 Massachusetts insurance agents aren't happy about the decision to introduce competitive rating into the state's price-regulated private passenger auto insurance system. They enjoy the best market share (86 percent) in the country under the current system and don't want to see that jeopardized. Their commissions are also protected under the current fix-and-establish system."This is going to have a big impact on agents," Frank Mancini, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents, said. Mancini is worried that some smaller agencies, perhaps as many as 20 percent of agencies in the Commonwealth, might have to consider merging or even going out of business as a result of the move to a competitive system.The Democratic administration of Gov. Deval Patrick, led by Insurance Commissioner Nonnie Burnes, has shaken up the agents and the industry with her surprise decision to end the fix-and-establish pricing system and reinstall a file-and-use system under which insurers gain more control over what they charge.Burnes is introducing what she is calling "managed competition" beginning in April, 2008. Under the revived file-and use system, insurers will be able to propose rates and rating criteria and put them into use unless the insurance department disapproves them.Burnes plans on deveoping a regulatory framework, "which will include parameters within which insurers will be free to propose premiums, considering such factors as driving record, number and severity of at-fault accidents, and traffic violations."She has called for suggestions by Aug. 1 for this regulatory framework. She plans a public hearing in August and hopes to issue draft regulations in September.Insurers will not be freed to price completely on their own. Burnes vowed that the state will retain a "strong yet supple regulatory oversight" to ensure that good drivers enjoy the benefits of managed competition, regardless of where they garage their cars.She also indicated that she will limit the rating factors insurers will be permitted to use in pricing. "I will view with extreme skepticism any rate proposal that is based on socio-economic considerations such as education, occupation, home ownership or credit report or score," she advised.Mancini knows agents will be watching for the details of the process and plan, particularly as they relate to their commissions, which are now included in the fix-and-establish rating process. There is one statutory quirk that could comfort agencies. The state has a law that guarantees that agent commissions will continue under state control, based on the previous year's figures, for four years after any switch to competitive rating, according to Mancini.
August 20, 2007Dear Berkshire Bloggers, Pols, News Media, & the People:Last week, my mom told me over a family vacation dinner that someone anonymously mailed her a copy of a previous email that I sent concerning "the most corrupt Pol in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. (aka Luciforo)". My mom told me that I had used the alter-name "Luciforo" over six-times. I have a feeling about who would use intimidating methods like this to silence me, and I strongly assume that Cliff Nilan had something to do with this. Of course, Cliff Nilan can kiss my ASS!I am only sorry that I did not use the word "Luciforo" to describe Nuciforo many more times than I had wrote his alter-name!There was an interesting story on PBS' Now this past Friday evening about Insurance Companies' corrupted special interests within State Legislatures throughout the nation. Below, please find pasted copies of the news stories about how the Insurance Industry has been transformed into an investment capital funding source (on the backs of the poor and middle class, of course) for the benefit of the wealthy financial institutions -- part of the Corporate Elite that rules our "Democratic" Government. "We the People live only to serve our Corporate Elite Masters" should be the new preface to our now in-theory-only national Constitution.After listening to my wonderful mother Beverly tell me about the aforementioned anonymous letter she received in the mail, and then watching the aforementioned insightful PBS Now television show, I have concluded beyond a reasonable doubt that "the Son of the Pittsfield Devil himself" will be making a run for Congress based on many false pretenses, but also for the real reason of serving his Corporate Elite masters as another corrupted delegate on Capitol Hill. And, oh, by the way, if there is even one breath left in my lungs, I will be there to assist in the defeat Luciforo's Congressional run!In my strongest of my Dissents,Jonathan A. Melle -----PBS' NOWHome Insurance 9-1-1About the Show In the fall of 2003, one of the largest recorded wildfires in California's history destroyed over 2,200 houses and killed fifteen people. Soon after, many who'd lost their homes had a rude awakening: their insurance did not nearly cover their losses as expected.The insurance industry, which claims to cover "more property, more lives, more liability-related risks than any time at history," is busy fighting allegations that customers are receiving smaller payouts than what they were promised. This week, NOW collaborates with Bloomberg Markets magazine to investigate tactics some insurance companies may be using to reduce, avoid, or stall homeowners' claims in an effort to boost their own earnings."The insurance industry...is purposely misleading customers," California Lieutenant Governor and former Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi tells NOW. "The first commandment of the insurance industry is, 'Thou shalt pay as little, as late, as possible.'...You go to financial heaven if you can carry out that commandment."The insurance industry is enjoying record-breaking profits, but who's paying the price?-----Home Insurers' Secret Tactics Cheat Fire Victims, Hike Profits By David Dietz and Darrell PrestonAugust 03, 2007 (Bloomberg) -- Julie Tunnell remembers standing in her debris-strewn driveway when the tall man in blue jeans approached. Her northern San Diego tudor-style home had been incinerated a week earlier in the largest wildfire in California history. The blaze in October and November 2003 swept across an area 19 times the size of Manhattan, destroying 2,232 homes and killing 15 people. Now came another blow. A representative of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., the largest home insurer in the U.S., came to the charred remnants of Tunnell's home to tell her the company would pay just $220,000 of the estimated $306,000 cost of rebuilding the house. ``It was devastating; I stood there and cried,'' says Tunnell, 42, who teaches accounting at San Diego City College. ``I felt absolutely abandoned.'' Tunnell joined thousands of people in the U.S. who already knew a secret about the insurance industry: When there's a disaster, the companies homeowners count on to protect them from financial ruin routinely pay less than what policies promise. Insurers often pay 30-60 percent of the cost of rebuilding a damaged home -- even when carriers assure homeowners they're fully covered, thousands of complaints with state insurance departments and civil court cases show. Paying out less to victims of catastrophes has helped produce record profits. In the past 12 years, insurance company net income has soared -- even in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. Highest-Ever Profits Property-casualty insurers, which cover damage to homes and cars, reported their highest-ever profit of $73 billion last year, up 49 percent from $49 billion in 2005, according to Highline Data LLC, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based firm that compiles insurance industry data. The 60 million U.S. homeowners who pay more than $50 billion a year in insurance premiums are often disappointed when they discover insurers won't pay the full cost of rebuilding their damaged or destroyed homes. Property insurers systematically deny and reduce their policyholders' claims, according to court records in California, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, New Hampshire and Tennessee. The insurance companies routinely refuse to pay market prices for homes and replacement contents, they use computer programs to cut payouts, they change policy coverage with no clear explanation, they ignore or alter engineering reports, and they sometimes ask their adjusters to lie to customers, court records and interviews with former employees and state regulators show. `It's Despicable' As Mississippi Republican U.S. Senator Trent Lott and thousands of other homeowners have found, insurers make low offers -- or refuse to pay at all -- and then dare people to fight back. ``It's despicable not to make good-faith offers to everybody,'' says Robert Hunter, who was Texas insurance commissioner from 1993 to 1995 and is now insurance director at the Washington-based Consumer Federation of America. ``Money managers have taken over this whole industry,'' Hunter says. ``Their eyes are not on people who are hurt but on the bottom line for the next quarter.'' The industry's drive for profit has overwhelmed its obligation to policyholders, says California Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, a Democrat. As California's insurance commissioner from 2002 to 2006, Garamendi imposed $18.4 million in fines against carriers for mistreating customers. ``There's a fundamental economic conflict between the customer and the company,'' he says. ``That is, the company doesn't want to pay. The first commandment of insurance is, `Thou shalt pay as little and as late as possible.''' Allstate Hires Consultant Although the tension between insurers and their customers has long existed, it was in the 1990s that the industry began systematically looking for ways to increase profits by streamlining claims handling. Hurricane Hugo was a major catalyst. The 1989 storm, which battered North and South Carolina, left the industry reeling from $4.2 billion in claims. In September 1992, Allstate Corp., the second-largest U.S. home insurer, sought advice on improved efficiency from McKinsey & Co., a New York-based consulting firm that has advised many of the world's biggest corporations, according to records in at least six civil court cases. State Farm, based in Bloomington, Illinois, and Los Angeles-based Farmers Group Inc., the third-largest home insurer in the U.S., also hired McKinsey as a consultant, court records show. `Boxing Gloves' McKinsey produced about 13,000 pages of documents, including PowerPoint slides, in the 1990s, for Northbrook, Illinois-based Allstate. The consulting firm developed methods for the company to become more profitable by paying out less in claims, according to videotaped evidence presented in Fayette Circuit Court in Lexington, Kentucky, in a civil case involving a 1997 car accident. One slide McKinsey prepared for Allstate was entitled ``Good Hands or Boxing Gloves,'' the tape of the Kentucky court hearing shows. For 57 years, Allstate has advertised its employees as the ``Good Hands People,'' telling customers they will be well cared for in times of need. The McKinsey slides had a new twist on that slogan. When a policyholder files a claim, first make a low offer, McKinsey advised Allstate. If a client accepts the low amount, Allstate should treat the person with good hands, McKinsey said. If the customer protests or hires a lawyer, Allstate should fight back. ``If you don't take the pittance they offer, they're going to put on the boxing gloves and they're going to batter injured victims,'' plaintiffs attorney J. Dale Golden told Judge Thomas Clark at the May 12, 2005, hearing in which the lawyer introduced the McKinsey slides. The Alligator One McKinsey slide displayed at the Kentucky hearing featured an alligator with the caption ``Sit and Wait.'' The slide says Allstate can discourage claimants by delaying settlements and stalling court proceedings. By postponing payments, insurance companies can hold money longer and make more on their investments -- and often wear down clients to the point of dropping a challenge. ``An alligator sits and waits,'' Golden told the judge, as they looked at the slide describing a reptile. McKinsey's advice helped spark a turnaround in Allstate's finances. The company's profit rose 140 percent to $4.99 billion in 2006, up from $2.08 billion in 1996. Allstate lifted its income partly by paying less to its policyholders. `Stars in Alignment' Allstate spent 58 percent of its premium income in 2006 for claim payouts and the costs of the process compared with 79 percent in 1996, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The payout expense, called a loss ratio, changes each year based on events such as natural disasters; overall, it's been decreasing since Allstate hired McKinsey. Investors have noticed. Allstate's stock price jumped fourfold to $60.95 on July 11 from its closing price on June 3, 1993, the day of its initial public offering. During the same period, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose threefold. State Farm's profits have doubled since 1996 to $4.8 billion in 2006. Because State Farm is a mutual company, meaning it's owned by its policyholders, it doesn't have shares that trade publicly. ``This is about as good a stretch as I've seen,'' says Michael Chren, who manages $1.5 billion at Allegiant Asset Management Co. in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and has followed the property-casualty industry for 20 years. The industry's performance during the past five years has been superb, even with payouts for Katrina, he says. ``All the stars have been in alignment,'' he says. ``There has been decent pricing of products and an extremely attractive and very low loss ratio.'' `More Audacious' Reducing payouts is just one way the industry has improved profits. Carriers have also raised premiums and withdrawn from storm-plagued areas such as the Gulf Coast of the U.S. and parts of Long Island, New York -- to lower costs and increase income, says Amy Bach, executive director of United Policyholders, a San Francisco-based group that advises consumers on insurance claims. ``What this says is that the industry has been raking in spectacular profits while they're getting more and more audacious in their tactics,'' she says. Allstate spokesman Michael Siemienas says the company won't comment on what role McKinsey played in lowering the insurer's loss ratio and boosting its profits. Allstate did change the way it handles homeowners' insurance claims, he says. `Absolutely Sound' ``In the early 1990s, Allstate redesigned its claims practices to more efficiently and effectively handle claims and better serve our customers,'' he says. ``Allstate's goal remains the same: to investigate, evaluate and promptly resolve each claim based on its merits,'' Siemienas says. ``Allstate believes its claim processes support this goal and are absolutely sound.'' McKinsey doesn't discuss any of its work for clients, spokesman Mark Garrett says. Jerry Choate, Allstate's chief executive officer from 1995 to 1998, said at a news conference in New York in 1997 that the company's new claims-handling process had reduced payments and increased profit, according to a report in a March 1997 edition of National Underwriter magazine. Insurers can't make significantly more money just from cutting sales costs, he told reporters. ``The leverage is really on the claims side,'' Choate said. ``If you don't win there, I don't care what you do on the front end. You're not going to win.'' The more cash insurers can keep from premiums, the more they can invest. This pool of assets -- most of which the companies invest in government and corporate bonds -- is known as float. `Better Than Free' ``Simply put, float is money we hold that is not ours but which we get to invest,'' billionaire Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., wrote in his annual letter to shareholders this year. ``When an insurer earns an underwriting profit, float is better than free,'' he wrote in 2006. Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway generated 51 percent of its $11 billion profit in 2006 from insurance. Claims payouts for the entire property-casualty industry have decreased in the past decade. In 2006, carriers paid out 55 percent of the $435.8 billion in premiums collected, according to the Insurance Information Institute, a trade group in New York. That compares with a 64 percent payout ratio on $267.6 billion in premium revenue in 1996. As companies pay less to policyholders, their investment gains are growing, according to the trade group and research firm A.M. Best Co. in Oldwick, New Jersey. `Purpose Evaporating' The industry has increased profits by an annual average of 46 percent since 1994, Institute data show. In 2006, carriers invested $1.2 trillion and recorded a net gain of $52.3 billion, up from $713.5 billion invested for a gain of $39.1 billion in 1994. Insurance companies are no longer following their mandate to take care of policyholders' money and then pay it out when needed, says Douglas Heller, executive director of the nonprofit Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights in Santa Monica, California. ``The whole purpose of insurance is evaporating before our eyes as we continue to send checks to the companies,'' Heller says. ``Insurers are looking to shed their purpose as a risk bearer and become financial institutions.'' That kind of criticism is unwarranted, says Robert Hartwig, chief economist at the Insurance Information Institute. He says about 1 percent of policyholders contest what they're offered. `Justifiably Proud' ``The insurance industry can be justifiably proud of its performance,'' Hartwig says. ``It's in the insurance industry's best interests to settle claims as fairly and as rapidly as possible.'' Companies have sharpened the use of technology in the past 20 years to help tighten claims payouts. Insurers following McKinsey's advice on claims processing have adopted computer programs with names such as Colossus and Xactimate. Colossus, made by El Segundo, California-based Computer Sciences Corp., calculates the cost of treating people injured in auto accidents, including the degree of pain and suffering they'll endure and any permanent impairment they may have, according to Computer Sciences' Web site. Xactimate, made by Xactware Solutions Inc. of Orem, Utah, is a program that estimates the cost of rebuilding a home. `Designed to Underpay' Insurers sometimes manipulate these programs to pay out as little as possible, lawsuits have asserted. ``Programs like Colossus are designed to systematically underpay policyholders without adequately examining the validity of each individual claim,'' former Texas insurance commissioner Hunter told the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on April 11. He also criticized Xactimate. ``If you don't accept their offer, which is a low ball, you end up in court,'' Hunter said. ``And that was the recommendation of McKinsey.'' Computer Sciences and Xactware declined to comment. Farmers Group, a subsidiary of Zurich Financial Services AG, agreed in 2005 to stop using Colossus to evaluate claims filed by policyholders who have accidents with uninsured or underinsured drivers. The move was part of a $40 million settlement in a class- action lawsuit in Pottawatomie County District Court in Oklahoma in which the plaintiffs claimed the company had repeatedly and wrongly failed to pay enough for crash injuries. `A Toothy Grin' An internal e-mail introduced in the Farmers lawsuit shows the company had pressured its adjusters, whom it calls claims representatives, or CRs, to pay out smaller amounts -- and rewarded them when they did. ``As you know, we have been creeping up in settlements,'' David Harding, a Farmers claims manager, wrote in an e-mail to employees on Nov. 20, 2001. ``Our CRs must resist the temptation of paying more just to move this type file. Teach them to say, `Sorry, no more,' with a toothy grin and mean it.'' Harding praised a worker for making low settlements. ``It can be done as Darren consistently does,'' he wrote. ``If he keeps this up during 2002, we will pay him accordingly.'' Farmers said in court papers that it didn't seek to pay less than customers were due. ``The e-mail speaks for itself,'' Farmers wrote. ``Plaintiff's characterization of it is denied.'' `More Efficient' Edward Rust Jr., CEO of State Farm, testified in a 2006 civil case that his company revamped its claims handling through a project called ACE, or Advanced Claims Excellence. McKinsey suggested the use of ACE, according to evidence presented in the district court of Grady County, Oklahoma. ``Technology has allowed us to really streamline our claim organization to be more efficient and responsive,'' Rust testified. He said the company wanted to cut expenses for claims. In the Oklahoma case, Bridget and Donald Watkins, whose Grady County house was destroyed during a tornado in 1999, accused State Farm of misrepresenting the damage from the storm and won a $12.9 million judgment in May 2006. Watkins and State Farm agreed to an undisclosed settlement after the judgment. Hunter, who also headed the federal flood insurance program under Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, told Congress that Allstate, with McKinsey's guidance, gave the name Claim Core Process Redesign to its strategy to change payout practices. As pervasive as computers have become in insurance, the key actor in settling claims is still the adjuster, the person who talks to policyholders and decides how much they should be paid. `Told To Lie' Allstate has asked adjusters to deceive customers, says Jo Ann Katzman, who worked as a claims adjuster for Allstate in 2002 and 2003. She says managers regularly came to her office in Farmington Hills, Michigan, to give pep talks on keeping claim payments down. They awarded prizes such as portable refrigerators to adjusters who tried to deny claims by blaming fires on arson without justification, she says. ``We were told to lie by our supervisors,'' says Katzman, 49, who quit by taking a company buyout in 2003. ``It's tough to look at people and know you're lying.'' Katzman says an adjuster at Allstate, on orders from a supervisor, told an 89-year-old Detroit fire victim that Allstate wouldn't replace cabinets in her home even though the insurance policy said they were covered. In another case, Katzman says Allstate wouldn't replace a fire-damaged refrigerator -- an appliance she says was covered. Katzman now runs Accurate Estimating Services, an independent adjusting company in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Allstate's Siemienas declined to comment on Katzman's statements. Punitive Damages Insurers sometimes order employees to offer replacement cost settlements that have no connection to actual prices of home contents, according to testimony in a civil trial. A jury in November 2005 awarded Larry Stone and Linda Della Pelle $5.2 million in punitive damages and $616,000 to construct a new house after finding that Fidelity National Insurance Co. of Jacksonville, Florida, had underpaid the couple by $183,000 when it offered them $433,000 to rebuild their two-story Claremont, California, residence. During the trial in Los Angeles Superior Court, Ricardo Echeverria, the couple's attorney, questioned Kenneth Drake, president of Canyon Country, California-based RJG Construction Inc., who had been hired by Fidelity's lawyers to evaluate damage estimates. `Do You Think That's Fair?' ``Are you telling us that sometimes, because the insurance carriers dictate what amounts they are willing to allow for unit costs, estimators then have to comply with that?'' asked Echeverria, according to the court transcript. ``That's absolutely true,'' Drake said. ``Do you think that's fair?'' Echeverria asked. ``Fair or not, it's the name of our business,'' Drake said. Drake declined to comment on his testimony. Fidelity is appealing the award. A New Hampshire case involving a home destroyed in a fire exposed another insurance company tactic: changing a policy retroactively. In April 2003, the Rockingham county attorney in Kingston, New Hampshire, found that a unit of Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. had deleted the replacement cost portion of the homeowner's policy of Terry Bennett after his five-bedroom house burned to the ground in 1993. `Wrong End' Bennett, a physician, sued Twin City Fire Insurance Co., claiming his home and its contents -- including antiques and fine art -- were worth $20 million, not the $1.7 million the insurer paid him. After an 11-year battle, he settled with Hartford in 2004 for an undisclosed amount. ``Fighting an insurance company is like staring down the wrong end of a cannon,'' Bennett says. An unprecedented number of people stared down that cannon after Hurricane Katrina. The August 2005 storm killed more than 1,600 people in Louisiana and Mississippi, left 500,000 people homeless and cost insurers $41.1 billion. More than 1,000 homeowners sued their insurers in the wake of the storm -- the largest-ever number of insurance lawsuits stemming from a U.S. natural disaster. For insurers, the multibillion-dollar question regarding Katrina was how much of the destruction was caused by wind and how much by water. Property insurance policies don't cover damage caused by flooding; homeowners have to purchase separate insurance administered by the U.S. government. Altering Reports The wind/water issue has spurred allegations that insurers manipulated the findings of adjusters and engineers. Ken Overstreet, an engineer based in Diamondhead, Mississippi, who examined destroyed Gulf Coast residences, says someone altered his findings on the cause of the damage to at least four homes. ``We were working for insurance companies, and they wanted certain results,'' says Overstreet, who has been a licensed civil engineer since 1981. ``They wanted to get a desired outcome, and that's what they did.'' Overstreet, who was working for Houston-based Rimkus Consulting Group Inc., prepared a report on the Gulfport, Mississippi, home of Hubert and Joyce Smith for Meritplan Insurance Co. The engineer found that both wind and water had damaged the house. ``The winds out of the east would have racked the entire structure to the west and simply lifted the footings up,'' he wrote. Rejected Meritplan declined to pay anything to the Smiths, telling them that all of the damage was caused by water. The company sent the Smiths what it said was Overstreet's engineering report. ``Due to the extent of the structural damage to the residence, the storm surge accounted for the damage,'' the report they got said. The Smiths called Overstreet and asked him to look at what Meritplan had sent them. Overstreet says he looked at both reports side by side and then told the couple that someone had changed his conclusion after his inspection. ``If they defrauded me, how many more did they defraud?'' asks Hubert Smith, 88, a retired chiropractor. ``There's a lot of crap going on.'' Six lawsuits against Rimkus allege the company altered engineering reports. ``Those allegations are absolutely false,'' says Arch Currid, a Rimkus spokesman. ``There's no fact to those claims. We're going to vigorously defend ourselves in court, and we're confident we will prevail.'' Lawsuit Settled Ed Essa, a spokesman for Calabasas, California-based Countrywide Financial Corp., the parent of Meritplan, says the company confidentially settled a lawsuit with the Smiths in March. Another engineer involved in Katrina, Bob Kochan, CEO of Forensic Analysis & Engineering Corp., says State Farm asked him to redo his reports because the insurer disagreed with the engineers' conclusions. Kochan sent an Oct. 17, 2005, e-mail to his staff saying State Farm executive Alexis ``Lecky'' King asked for the changes. ``Lecky told me that she is experiencing this same concern with other engineering companies,'' Kochan wrote. ``In her words, `They are all too emotionally involved and working too hard to find justifications to call it wind damage.''' Kochan says he complied so State Farm didn't cut its contract with his company. ``They didn't like our conclusions,'' he says. ``We agreed to re-evaluate each of our assignments.'' `Serious Concern' Randy Down, an engineer at Raleigh, North Carolina-based Forensic, wrote this Oct. 18, 2005, e-mail response to Kochan: ``I have a serious concern about the ethics of this whole matter. I really question the ethics of someone who wants to fire us simply because our conclusions don't match theirs.'' The e-mails were made public in a civil case against State Farm in Jackson, Mississippi. State Farm spokesman Phil Supple says Kochan's e-mail comments are out of context. He says sometimes information in engineering reports doesn't support the conclusions. One State Farm policyholder in Mississippi was Senator Lott, who lost his home in Katrina. He sued State Farm for fraud in U.S. District Court in Jackson, after the insurer ruled that his home had been damaged by water and refused to pay him anything. ``It's long overdue for this industry to be held accountable'' Lott, 65, says. Lott and State Farm agreed to a confidential settlement in April. Trent Lott's Bill Lott has introduced legislation to have insurers regulated by the federal government. That would supplant a patchwork system of regulation by states. Insurance has no body analogous to the SEC, which can refer cases to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution. That doesn't happen with insurers. The most that state insurance departments typically do is impose civil fines when companies mistreat customers. Such sanctions are weak and infrequent, says Hunter, the former Texas insurance commissioner. Before Katrina, no state or federal prosecutor had ever investigated a nationally known property-casualty company for criminal mistreatment of policyholders. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood says a federal grand jury is probing insurance company claims handling after the hurricane. There was no criminal investigation after State Farm offered just 15 percent of replacement costs to Michele and Tim Ray, whose house was wrecked by a tornado in April 2006. A contractor estimated the cost to rebuild the Hendersonville, Tennessee, home at $254,000. Living Amid Ruins State Farm made three inspections of the property, Ray says, and sent the Rays a check for $36,000, which the couple returned. A year after the twister, the couple remained in the damaged home, with their tattered roof covered by tarpaulins. In April, after Bloomberg News submitted questions to State Farm about the Ray case, the company inspected the house again. This time, it gave the Rays $302,000. ``We decided to call it a total loss and agreed to pay the policy limits after deciding the damage was caused by the storm,'' State Farm spokesman Shawn Johnson says. State Farm won't discuss what role McKinsey played in helping the insurer shape its approach toward customers. Similarly, no official at any insurer that hired McKinsey is willing to talk about the consulting firm. `Doing What is Right' Privately held McKinsey, which has 14,000 employees in 40 countries, has worked for many of the largest companies in the world, according to its Web site. ``We take pride in doing what is right rather than what is right for the profitability of our firm,'' Managing Director Ian Davis says in a quote posted on the site. McKinsey pioneered the overhaul of the property-casualty industry at Allstate. The company hired McKinsey in 1992 after the insurer was spun off from what's now Sears Holdings Corp. of Hoffman Estates, Illinois, says David Berardinelli, a Santa Fe, New Mexico, lawyer who won access to view the McKinsey documents for a limited time during a lawsuit involving an auto accident. McKinsey advised the insurer to pay claims quickly at low amounts while delaying payments for as long as possible for those who wanted large settlements, Berardinelli says. ``They're capitalizing on the vulnerability of people'' he says. Berardinelli says McKinsey suggested that Allstate hold so- called town hall meetings with claims adjusters to urge them to pay less to customers. Shannon Kmatz, a former Allstate claims adjuster, says she attended some of those sessions. She says managers told employees to keep claim payouts as low as possible. Looking at Stock Price ``The leaders of those town hall meetings were always concerned that we were doing our part to help the stock price by keeping claims down,'' says Kmatz, 34, who worked for Allstate for three years in New Mexico in the late 1990s and is now a police officer. ``It was obvious from the get-go that all they were concerned about was the bottom line.'' Just once, at the May 2005 hearing in Lexington, Kentucky, the PowerPoint slides McKinsey prepared for Allstate were made public. William Hager and his wife, Geneva, who suffered neck and back injuries after the family's car was rear-ended in a 1997 accident in Lexington, sued the insurer, claiming the company failed to cover her medical expenses. The case is scheduled to go to trial in October. One McKinsey slide prepared for Allstate was called ``Zero- Sum Economic Game,'' a videotape of the court hearing shows. The slide explains that there are winners and losers, and the insurance company can win by paying out small amounts. `Finite Pool of Money' ``There is a finite pool of money,'' Golden, the plaintiffs attorney, told the judge at the hearing. ``Either it goes to the injured victim or it goes to Allstate's pocket as surplus.'' Allstate's attorney at the hearing, Mindy Barfield of Lexington, didn't say anything about the McKinsey slides. She didn't return phone calls seeking her comments. Former federal flood insurance commissioner Hunter says the McKinsey approach exploits policyholders. ``McKinsey presented it as a zero-sum game in which the winners would be Allstate and the losers would be the claimants,'' Hunter says. ``I don't think a claims system should be viewed in that light. It's against any principles on how you should settle insurance claims. They should be settled on their merits.'' Allstate convinced the judge to seal the McKinsey slides before and after the Lexington hearing. The insurer has resisted attempts to make the consulting firm's work public in courts across the U.S., arguing it contains trade secrets. In 2004, the company was sanctioned by the Bartholomew Circuit Court in Indiana and fined $10,000 for refusing to turn over the records to attorney Richard Enyon, representing an auto accident victim. Allstate held on to the documents and appealed the punishment. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the sanction. `Go To Court' Allstate then appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court, which hasn't yet made a decision. Lawsuits in California, Florida and Texas have asserted that McKinsey's work for Allstate helped the insurer cheat claimants. Records show that through the company's Claim Core Process Redesign project, Allstate encouraged policyholders to accept small settlements on the spot. The redesign also became a blueprint for fighting more claims in court as Allstate increased its legal staff, according to a 1997 company newsletter obtained by David Poore, a Petaluma, California, attorney who has represented homeowners in lawsuits against carriers. ``The bottom line is that Allstate is trying more cases than ever before,'' the newsletter said. ``If the offer is not accepted, Allstate will go to court, if necessary, to prove the evaluation process is sound.'' San Diego Fire McKinsey-style tactics have spread to insurers large and small, as homeowners discovered after three wildfires ravaged Southern California in 2003, including the one that hit northern San Diego. While Katrina struck thousands of low-income families in New Orleans, the San Diego fire affected mostly affluent homeowners, who fared no better with their insurance companies. The fire obliterated large sections of Scripps Ranch, a community of 30,000 that sits atop a sagebrush and eucalyptus mesa, where homes can cost more than $1 million. After flames swept through the area on winds of up to 50 miles per hour, residents say they expected their insurance companies to live up to coverage promises and pay the full cost to rebuild. The Southern California fires led to 676 formal complaints to the state saying insurers offered payouts that fell far short of actual costs and delayed on paying claims. No Inkling One of the Scripps Ranch houses that went up in flames, a four-bedroom, gray-stucco home on a sloping cul-de-sac, belonged to J.P. Lapeyre, a division director at JDS Uniphase Corp., a Milpitas, California, maker of telecommunications equipment. Lapeyre, 41, who is married and has two children, says he had no inkling as he viewed the remains of his house that his insurance would leave him $280,000 short of what he would need to rebuild. Representatives of Pacific Specialty Insurance Co. of Menlo Park, California, told him the most the firm would pay out was $168,075, not even half of the estimated reconstruction cost of $448,000. The Pacific Specialty representative told Lapeyre in November 2003 that the insurer would pay $75 a square foot (0.09 square meter) to rebuild his 2,241-square-foot house. ``What frustration,'' Lapeyre says. ``I had to try to prove to them that it would cost $200 a square foot.'' That figure came separately from two builders, Norton Construction and TLC Contractors, both of San Diego. Lapeyre's Suit In February 2005, Lapeyre filed suit in San Diego County Superior Court against his insurer and the independent broker who sold him the policy, alleging negligence, breach of contract and fraud for leading him to believe that he was properly covered. After a fight of 19 months, Lapeyre dropped the suit when Pacific Specialty told a mediator assigned to the case it wouldn't raise its offer, he says. ``We decided it was time to get on with our lives and move forward,'' says Lapeyre, who borrowed money to build a new house. Karen and Bill Reimus, both lawyers, fought their carrier, Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., when it told them it wouldn't pay the couple enough to rebuild their burned Scripps Ranch house. Karen, 40, says an agent for Boston-based Liberty Mutual assured her and her husband when they bought their house four months before the 2003 fire that their insurance would replace the home if it were destroyed. `A Low Ball' In a December 2003 letter, two months after the fire, Liberty Mutual offered to pay $40,000 less than the limit of the couple's policy, Karen says. In early 2004, San Diego-based Gafcon Construction Consultants determined the cost to rebuild was well above the limits of the couple's policy. The Reimuses began a phone and letter campaign to convince the company its offer was too low, Karen says. ``It has now been almost seven months since the loss and we are still not agreed as to the numbers,'' Karen wrote in a May 13, 2004, letter to Liberty Mutual. Two weeks later, Liberty Mutual agreed to raise the couple's limits by $100,000, Karen says. ``This is clear evidence that the original estimate was a low ball,'' she says. Liberty Mutual spokesman Glenn Greenberg says the company won't discuss the case because its dealings with policyholders are private. ``The system is set up to take advantage of people when they're at their weakest,'' Karen says. ``We went to one of the most-expensive companies in the country because we wanted to be ready for a rainy day. We asked for coverage that would replace the house. We thought replacement meant replacement.'' Allstate Suit Scripps Ranch couple Leslie Mukau and Robin Seaberg sued Allstate for alleged fraud and negligence for failing to pay the $900,000 that contractors estimate it would cost to replace their two-story home. Allstate offered the Seabergs $311,000, according to the 2004 San Diego County Superior Court suit. Allstate says in court papers the couple hasn't shown the company was negligent and asked for dismissal of the suit, which is pending. The California Department of Insurance examined the practices of Allied Property & Casualty Insurance Co., AMCO Insurance Co. and Allstate in connection with the California fires. It fined Allied and AMCO, both based in Des Moines, Iowa, a total of $20,000 for misleading nine policyholders into believing they were insured for full value. The regulators cited Allstate for six rule violations, including that it ignored complaints that it underinsured homeowners. Fines `Too Small' The state didn't fine Allstate, which told the department it had done nothing wrong. ``Fines by state regulatory agencies have been far too small and infrequent to deter unfair business practices,'' United Policyholders' Bach says. ``It's clear that cheating by insurers is a big, profitable business and regulators can't muster the will or political strength to stop them.'' Most homeowners take what insurers offer because they don't realize they're being deceived or conclude that fighting is too costly and difficult, Bach says. ``Virtually everyone who settles for what the insurer offers is taking less than they're owed,'' she says. Homeowners across the U.S. have found themselves in the same situation. Kevin Hazlett, a lawyer, sued Farmers Group after an April 2006 tornado struck his home in O'Fallon, Illinois. `Thin Air' Farmers had offered to pay him $470,000 to rebuild the house. Royal Construction Inc., based in Collinsville, Illinois, estimated the cost at $1.1 million. Hazlett, 52, accepted a settlement for an undisclosed amount. Hazlett says Illinois Farmers, a subsidiary of Farmers, used the Xactimate software program to first determine what it would pay out. ``They're just pulling numbers out of thin air,'' he says. ``There's no rhyme or reason.'' Farmers spokesman Jerry Davies didn't respond to requests for an interview. Bo Chessor, owner of Royal Construction, says he sees insurers refusing to pay coverage limits all the time. ``Most people just roll over and take it because they don't have the money to fight it,'' Chessor says. ``What the insurance companies are doing is purely robbery.'' It may be robbery, but it's rarely a crime. State insurance departments don't prosecute insurance companies, and the federal government has no oversight. The insurance industry wants to keep it that way. Insurance Lobbying To make their voice heard on federal regulation and other government decisions, insurers spent $98 million on lobbying in Washington in 2006, according to PoliticalMoneyLine, a unit of Congressional Quarterly. That's the second-largest amount spent on lobbying by any group, behind $114.4 million by pharmaceutical companies. Property-casualty companies do want something from the government: bailouts. Insurers beseech states and the federal government to foot more of the bill for rebuilding private homes after natural disasters. Florida has a catastrophe fund that insures some homes to reduce payouts by carriers. The fund paid out about $8.45 billion for storm damage in 2004 and 2005, according to its annual report. The federal flood insurance program covers $800 billion of property nationally, which helped the industry increase profits by 25 percent in 2005, the year of Katrina. Disaster Just the Beginning Homeowners whose properties have been destroyed by catastrophes contend with low payouts, higher premiums, software programs that underestimate rebuilding costs and sudden changes in policy values -- all of which have been calculated methods for insurers to increase profits. Tunnell, the San Diego accounting teacher whose home burned to the ground, says she thought State Farm had adequately insured her family when they bought their three-bedroom house in 1992. She says the policy, destroyed in the fire, provided for ``full replacement coverage.'' It guaranteed to rebuild the house, no matter the cost, she says. The company offered to pay $220,000 -- which was $86,000 less than a $306,000 figure her family got from State Farm's own estimator, Hersum Construction Inc. of San Diego, for rebuilding the 1,700-square-foot house. State Farm spokesman Supple says the company sent letters in 1997 to the Tunnells and other policyholders saying that it would no longer offer full replacement coverage. ``Policyholders, by regulatory order, were sent prominent notices of the coverage change at that time,'' he says. `This is Unthinkable' Tunnell says she doesn't recall being notified. She says her family debated hiring a lawyer and suing, and eventually decided the battle would be too stressful. The Tunnells took the $220,000 and borrowed money to build a new house. ``Why is this happening to people over and over again?'' Tunnell asks. ``State Farm keeps underinsuring people, and they get away with it. This is unthinkable.'' As long as insurers make the rules and control the game, Tunnell and homeowners across the U.S. won't know whether their homes are fully insured, no matter what their policies say. To contact the reporters on this story: David Dietz in San Francisco at ddietz1 at bloomberg dot net ; Darrell Preston in Dallas at dpreston at bloomberg dot net . Last Updated: August 3, 2007 00:12 EDT -----Homeowners InsuranceIn order to buy a house or maintain a mortgage, homeowners insurance is required. But the practices of insurance companies are making this product that we buy to satisfy mortgage companies increasingly irrelevant to us as customers and homeowners. Disaster: Insurance Claims ChecklistCalifornia law requires insurance companies to pay claims promptly and for the full amount covered by the policy. However, as most consumers know, getting an insurance company to pay your claim can be a difficult and stressful experience. Review this checklist, which offers suggestions on how you can protect your rights if a fire, earthquake or other natural disaster causes you a loss. California residents should visit the Cal. Earthquake Authority to learn more about earthquake insurance options available. Your Credit History Should Not Increase Your Insurance PremiumEverybody knows that their credit history will impact their ability to get loans and the interest rate they'll be charged. There is some logical relationship: a bank will risk loaning a customer money as long as the consumer has a history of making good on previous loans. But around the country, people are asking: What does paying off my Visa card have to do with whether or not a windstorm blows shingles off my roof? Read more about why credit scoring should not be allowed to determine how much a customer pays for homeowners insurance. Use It and Lose ItAt FTCR we have heard a lot of complaints about an insurance company practice known as "Use It and Lose It," in which insurers will refuse to renew customers' policies simply because they have filed claims under their policy. Read about the type of reforms we are fighting for to stop this unfair practice. consumerwatchdog dot org / insurance / homeowner -----
Good for BMC, not for countyLettersMonday, August 27, 2007Once again Berkshire Medical Center has shown its power. The radiology group, whose concerns for good patient care were blocked by BMC, has now been taken over. The group provided truly positive experiences for patients: both on North Street and the New Lebanon sites. The orthopedic ambulatory surgical center proposed for Lenox would have been another excellent option for patients. Monopolizing health care in Berkshire County may be good business. But is it good health care to take choices from our citizens? I think not. MARION E. WHITMAN Great Barrington
9/10/2007Re: What do John Olver and Jon Melle have in common?Dear Berkshire Bloggers, News Media, Politicians & the People:The answer to the above question is...ANDREA F. NUCIFORO, Junior, (aka Luciforo)!To explain, John Olver is the long-standing sitting United States Representative for most of Western Massachusetts. Unlike the incumbent Congressman from Amherst, Massachusetts(John Olver), Nuciforo, of Pittsfield/Boston, is a minion of the "John Forbes Kerry, Martin Meehan, Barney Frank...special interest political machine" ran by the large financial institutions in and around Boston. The Corporate Elite in Boston wants Nuciforo elected to Congress, thereby ousting Olver, so that he will do their bidding on Capitol Hill. To illustrate, when John Forbes Kerry ran for the presidency several years ago (in 2004), the Corporate Elite in Boston put on a fundraiser for the wealthy candidate in Nantucket (Spring, 2004). The event, which was hosted by John Kerry, was also co-hosted by Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., who wore a matching tuxedo as he stood next to the junior Massachusetts Senator greeting the wealthy corporate executives and lobbyist who raised more campaign money for Kerry than the incumbent Bush was able to raise from his Corporate Elite donors in 2004.To further illustrate, go to the following web-site:bermananddowell dot com / jsp2196567 dot jspThere you will find that Nuciforo really only serves the Corporate Elite in Boston as a private Corporate Attorney for Boston's big banks and insurance companies.Furthermore, please review the Boston Globe's 1/16/2007 news article, pasted below, which explains that: $$$$$$$$$$$$"Nuciforo , the former Senate chairman of the Financial Services Committee...collected $11,000 in political donations from Commerce executives in ,...Nuciforo has focused his private law practice on insurance issues during the time he chaired the committee. He is listed as "of counsel" to Berman & Dowell, a Boston law firm that cites insurance defense as one of its three practice groups. He joined the firm the year he became committee chairman. Nuciforo's practice area is listed "insurance coverage" and "insurance defense , " according to the firm's website. That legal work entails defense work for insurance companies against claimants. ...Nuciforo, who made $72,000 a year as a state senator, listed receiving $15,000 in income from the law firm in 2005, according to his latest financial statements filed with the State Ethics Committee. ...$$$$$$$$$$$$In 2008, Nuciforo will be able to run for U.S. Congress against John Olver and keep his "sinecure" in Pittsfield where he makes over $80,000 per year as the Central Berkshire Registrar of Deeds with a term of being up for "election" every 6 years. Nuciforo was "elected" to this "sinecure" in 2006 and he will not be up for "election" again until 2012. That gives Nuciforo the best of all Worlds! On the one hand, Nuciforo will raise more campaign money than John Olver because of his affiliations with the Corporate Elite in Boston, and on the other hand, he will have the security of his "sinecure" in Pittsfield. The only advantage that John Olver has against Nuciforo will be his long-standing incumbency. BUT, John Olver has one more ace up his sleave, although he may not know it, and that will be the assistance of Jonathan Melle (me) in defeating Nuciforo in his run for Congress by exposing the FRAUD Nuciforo really is!NOW, here is the difficult part. Jonathan Melle (me) comes from a "have-not" background. My parents rely on public pensions for their financial security. Around this time in (the Autumn) 1997, my dad was quoted in The North Adams Transcript as criticizing the commonwealth for not paying the full amount to the Berkshire County Government for the Courthouse rent. By the Spring of 1998, Nuciforo filed a Massachusetts State Ethics Commission report against my Dad to get him fired from his then state job as a probation officer and force his resignation from my dad's elected position as a Berkshire County Commissioner. Please note that during the same time period in the Spring of 1998, Nuciforo set up secretive plans with the Pittsfield Police Department to have me arrested because Nuciforo alleged that I was a threat to him after Nuciforo threatened me twice the year prior. Please note that if Nuciforo got his way, my dad would have lost both of his jobs and his son (me) would have gone to jail. Had Nuciforo gotten my dad is trouble, my dad would not be collecting a state pension today. My family would be very poor instead of middle class.What is the point? By Cliff Nilan calling my dad, Denis Guyer sending my mom anonymous letters with my emails enclosed, and the like, the point is that if I help John Olver next year win re-election by providing the Congressman with documents of Nuciforo's deficient and corrupt public record, the Pittsfield Political Machine will strike at my family again -- 10 years later. The Pols will try to take away one or both of my parent's public pensions to spite me for my long-term and continued stand against Nuciforo. My parents will blame me instead of the Pols for their plight, and dirty politics will win the day.Because the absurdly trivial Pittsfield Political Machine has their targets on Congressman John Olver to put Nuciforo in political office, my family will be a casualty of war. I will be made to be the bad guy, and Nuciforo will shine like a statue and smell like a rose.What John Olver and Jon Melle have in common is Nuciforo's dirty politics. I hope that John Olver realizes what is coming and will protect more than his own interests--i.e., guard at least my parents in their coming times of hardships. I don't care what happens to me in all of this. Bash me around, spit on my face, slander my name all over the place. I will still be there, standing tall, helping my parents and John Olver during their difficult times of need. I have been through Nuciforo's dirty politics ten years ago, and I am ready and willing to face him in Round #2!In closing and on a human level, my mom is suffering as a cancer survivor. I know that politics is usually banal: Abortion, Healthcare Coverage, Homelessness, etc. BUT, in this case, have a heart for my mother's illness. The odds are against her. She may not survive. Do what you want to me, but please don't harass my mother anymore. If you "Pittsfield Good Old Boys" want to play hardball with me, I will beat you at your pathetic game each and every time around. If you want to play hardball with my mother while she is vulnerable and suffering, then you will meet the strongest of my continual dissents. You don't like me, and I don't like you, and that is the banal reality, but please, please, please have a heart and stop targetting my mother.I WILL ALWAYS SPEAK MY GOOD CONSCIENCE FOR AS LONG AS I LIVE!In Dissent,Jonathan A. Melle--THE BOSTON GLOBENEWS ARTICLEEx-senator moving on insurance positionSix say Nuciforo sought adviceBy Frank Phillips, Globe Staff January 16, 2007Former state senator Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., who was sworn in two weeks ago as Berkshire County register of deeds, is already moving on to his next job search: a bid to become Governor Deval Patrick's commissioner of insurance.Nuciforo, who has been the Senate chairman of the committee that oversees the state's heavily regulated insurance industry, has told his former colleagues and politically connected figures on Beacon Hill that he wants the insurance post, which would pay about $120,000 a year. The move would require him to resign as register, which pays him about $80,000 a year but also permits him to practice law.Nuciforo, a Pittsfield Democrat, did not return calls over the last several days seeking comment. Nuciforo's former Senate aide, Patrick J. Quirk, said the senator would have no comment other than he would be "flattered" to be considered for a position in the Patrick administration.But six of his former Senate and political colleagues on Beacon Hill have told the Globe that he has sought their advice and help in seeking the insurance post.It is not clear what chance Nuciforo has in landing the position in the Patrick administration. A senior adviser to the governor said the former state senator probably would not get the position, although he may be granted an interview. Patrick's press secretary, Kyle Sullivan, said the administration does not comment on "pending personnel matters."Nuciforo's campaign to become insurance commissioner has confounded many of his former colleagues in the State House and stirred the political world in Pittsfield, where Nuciforo has been a popular state senator for 10 years.Last March, he shocked local political observers when he announced he would not seek reelection and instead run for the register of deeds position that was being vacated.Because he was a popular senator with a bulging campaign account, his presence in the campaign for register persuaded two other contestants, including a former Pittsfield mayor who once served as his aide, to drop out of the race. He ran unopposed in the primary and general election, taking over what is considered a political sinecure.Nuciforo, a 10-year incumbent whose final Senate term ended Jan. 2, was deeply involved in several controversial auto insurance reform proposals designed to change the way auto insurance is regulated in Massachusetts, including plans by several major firms and former governor Mitt Romney that sought to create a more competitive market.Nuciforo, the former Senate chairman of the Financial Services Committee, came out strongly against House legislation proposed last June that would have phased out state-set rates and phase in competitive rate setting over five years. He predicted that if it passed the House, the bill would be "dead on arrival" in the Senate, contending it was "consumer-unfriendly." He and other critics said it would sharply increase premiums for drivers in urban areas.Commerce Insurance Co., the state's largest auto insurer, has lobbied heavily against many of the proposals on Beacon Hill, contending that proposals to overhaul the system would raise rates for drivers in urban areas. Those opponents say the legislation would reduce subsidies that currently flow from suburban and rural drivers to urban motorists.Nuciforo collected $11,000 in political donations from Commerce executives in the last year. As his committee considered the bill last year, he also collected donations from insurance company executives who wanted more autonomy in setting rates. Massachusetts is the only state in which regulators set auto insurance rates.Patrick has yet to clearly outline his views on insurance reform, although during the campaign last year, he said he would like to see more competition.Nuciforo has focused his private law practice on insurance issues during the time he chaired the committee. He is listed as "of counsel" to Berman & Dowell, a Boston law firm that cites insurance defense as one of its three practice groups. He joined the firm the year he became committee chairman. Nuciforo's practice area is listed "insurance coverage" and "insurance defense , " according to the firm's website. That legal work entails defense work for insurance companies against claimants.According to the firm's promotional material, Joseph S. Berman, a partner, "leads the insurance defense group which provides clients with aggressive and cost-effective representation in a broad range of insurance matters, including insurance defense, coverage, and the defense of unfair insurance practices lawsuits."Berman said in an interview several months ago that Nuciforo does not refer insurance defense work to him or others in the firm.Nuciforo, who made $72,000 a year as a state senator, listed receiving $15,000 in income from the law firm in 2005, according to his latest financial statements filed with the State Ethics Committee.Last week, Patrick fired Julianne M. Bowler, Romney's insurance commissioner, who was implementing an assigned risk plan, in which as many as 1 million of the state's drivers would be randomly assigned to carriers based on market share. The plan marked a radical change from current policy.
A farewell from Berk. RadiologicalLetters09/18/2007Tuesday, September 18, 2007We, the employees of Berkshire Radiological Associates, would like to thank all the devoted patients, doctors and their staff who have supported us over the past 4 1/2 years. Since the announcement of our closing, your calls, letters and cards have been overwhelming.We have enjoyed being here for you and have made many friends along the way. We will miss each and every one of you. We will especially miss your kindness, humor and occasional goodies. We will take with us many fond memories and hopes that our paths will cross again. Again, thanks to you all. Most importantly, we wish you good health.LISA AVERYCHRISTINE BARNABYPittsfieldThe letter was also signed by Mary Campoli, Bernard Godfrey, Lisa Harrison, Jodi O'Neill, Becky Strout, Jack Troop, Lynn Wellington, Sue White and Missy Zink.
AG: auto insurance rules wouldn't adequately protect consumersBy Mark Jewell, AP Business Writer | September 20, 2007BOSTON --Attorney General Martha Coakley said Thursday that the state's insurance commissioner hasn't gone far enough to protect consumers in proposing rules to open Massachusetts' regulated auto insurance market.Coakley recommended changes she said are needed before Insurance Commissioner Nonnie Burnes drafts a final version of the rules next month.Coakley wants stronger language banning auto insurers' use of consumers' credit scores in setting individual rates and deciding whom to cover.Coakley also said the proposed regulations would unfairly undercut her office's ability to review companies' rate filings, and wouldn't give consumers enough tools to shop for the best deal.The attorney general had previously said the industry might not be ready for an open market, and suggested the current system be kept in place for at least another year.The market transition is expected to begin next April and be completed by March 31, 2009 -- a period when the credit scoring issue would be studied under the proposal from Burnes, a Superior Court justice appointed to the insurance post in February by Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick.On Thursday, three weeks after Burnes issued her proposed regulations, Coakley, also a Democrat, offered recommendations at a public hearing and said a ban is needed on the use of credit scores.Burnes' proposed regulations "are inconsistent with one of the commissioner's four guiding principles: fairness to all drivers through the prohibition of the use of socio-economic factors," Coakley said in prepared testimony presented at the hearing by Glenn Kaplan, head of the insurance division in Coakley's office.A spokeswoman for Burnes did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment.Burnes proposed banning insurers from using credit information for setting premiums during the one-year market transition, but would allow use of such data during that period in deciding whether to cover an individual.Meanwhile, Burnes called for study of the credit scoring issue, saying the implications spread beyond the auto insurance market to other lines of insurance.Under the shift to so-called managed competition, companies would file their own rates with regulators, who would review them.Nineteen insurers currently write auto insurance policies in Massachusetts -- far fewer than in most states, and nearly half the number that participated in 1990. Massachusetts in the only state where state regulators, not the market, set car insurance rates.Burnes' proposal would ban factors in rate-setting including income, marital status, education, occupation and homeownership. Insurers would be limited to considering a motorist's experience and driving record as primary factors in setting rates.Insurance companies have welcomed the shift toward a more open market, but some have opposed strict limits on which socio-economic factors they can consider. They argue that such factors can offer a sound basis for determining how likely a driver is to file an accident claim.
--FindLaw > Lawyer Directory > Lawyer Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. Firm: Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. Address: PO Box 120565 Bartlett AvePittsfield, MA 01202-1205Phone: (413) 499-2244Fax: (413) 499-7911 West Practice Categories: Estate Planning --AND--Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. Lawyer in Boston, Massachusetts Boston, Massachusetts (Suffolk Co.) --
9/22/2007Dear Mary Carey!You are the best journalist ever! Thank you for posting some of my emails on your web blogs. Your voice sings for the voiceless! You have real courage and are a real journalist for the people, not just the elite.ongeicocaveman dot blogspot dot com/2007 / 09 / classic-jonathan-melle dot htmlJust so that all of my powerful and elite political enemies in Massachusetts will know, I will be helping my mom again next month by accompanying her to Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. I have nothing but resentment for my political enemies in Massachusetts for targetting my vulnerable mother by sending her anonymous letters about my political writings (especially my essays against Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. and/or Denis E. Guyer) while her health is ill. Nuciforo ("Luciforo") got what he deserved by Mary Carey's blog-posting of my recent letter against him and those, including the Corporate Elite in Boston/John Forbes Kerry, and the Pittsfield Political Machine, who support his future run against John Olver for U.S. Congress!I have the best advantage over all of you because Mary Carey's voice for the voiceless will keep all of you state and local pols, et al, in check! Anything you try to do to me or my family, Mary Carey will publish on the news wires and blogs! I know you don't want that to happen, especially John Forbes Kerry and his wealthy group of Corporate Elite country club buddies!Thank you, Mary Carey! I will never forget you and your decency in the face of Pittsfield/Boston's "neo-McCarthyism." You are true-blue American!I guess I don't really need John Olver's help after-all because Mary Carey will help me regardless. I still hope that John Olver will protect my parents next year when his seat is targetted by LUCIFORO! Like I said before, I don't care what happens to me. I do, however, care about the corrupt political persecution of my parents, especially my mother, who is struggling with cancer!The hidden point that Mary Carey is making by being a voice for the voiceless is that I am a good man, and it is hard to bring a good man down! I believe Mary Carey is a good person, too! She is my favorite journalist of all time. Mary Carey is what journalism is all about!Yours Very Truly,Jonathan A. Melle
This link used to take you to Nuciforo's Corporate Boston Law Firm web-page:http://www.bermananddowell.com/jsp2196567.jspBut now you will NO LONGER find that Nuciforo serves the Corporate Elite for a Private Boston Law Firm named "Berman & Dowell" as a private Corporate Attorney for Boston's big banks and insurance companies.Now, the link directs you to another web-site:http://www.lawyers.com/In the interim, the web-page reads:WE ARE SORRY... The page you have requested cannot be found.Your browser should refresh to http://www.lawyers.com in 10 seconds. If this doesn't occur, click here.
News Article:New auto rates itemizedBy Jack Dew, Berkshire Eagle StaffWednesday, November 21, 2007Drivers gunning their engines for auto insurance savings might want to shift into park.The rates proposed by the state's 19 auto insurance companies won't take effect until April — anyone renewing a plan between now and then will do so under the old system — and some drivers could see their premiums increase by up to 10 percent, leading critics of competitive rate setting to say that their fears are coming true.The average statewide plan will decrease by 7.7 percent, but good drivers could see reductions of as much as 25 or even 35 percent, with some companies offering aggressive discounts to capture the lowest-risk customers. Drivers with bad records, on the other hand, could see premiums rise by up to 9.9 percent.Massachusetts is allowing auto insurers to set their own rates for the first time since the 1970s, ending years of state-set premiums. Under the rules set by Gov. Deval L. Patrick's administration, there are some restrictions: No driver can see his or her premiums increase by more than 10 percent, and companies are forbidden to use a driver's credit score to assess risk.State Insurance Commissioner Nonnie Burnes released four sample policies yesterday that showed the maximum possible discount for four customers — a single driver with a good record, a family of three with one speeding ticket and so forth. All could find plans offering double-digit discounts, some as high as 36 percent over their current bills.Although Burnes pointed to those rates as proof that good drivers from all areas will benefit under competition, the samples she released included only perfect or near-perfect drivers; she did not release samples that showed increasing rates for bad drivers.The plans showed a broad range of potential prices: The same driver could be offered a 6 percent increase from one company and a 25 percent decrease from another. Burnes said drivers will have to keep their eyes open to make sure they get the best deal."It will be worth people's while to look around for the good deals," Burnes said. "They should be motivated and shop around. There are additional provisions that at least some customers might find interesting."Most insurance experts suggest that consumers wait until the smoke clears and then explore the new marketplace."I would advise clients to do nothing because (the new rates) won't start until April 2008, and those polices won't be issued until the middle or end of February," said Edward Burniske of Reynolds, Barnes & Hebb Inc. insurance company in Pittsfield. "Hopefully, your agent will price them out for you, because a lot of the companies are going to give discounts for customers with homeowners' policies or two cars on the same policy."James T. Harrington, executive director of the Massachusetts Insurance Federation, said that 64 percent of state drivers have good enough records to qualify for cheaper rates. Because 80 percent of all drivers already use insurance brokers, he suggested that they continue to do so, but go to two or three to find the best deals.But critics of competition renewed their charge yesterday that the state is creating a system of insurance haves and have nots. Companies will cherry-pick the least risky drivers in the safest areas.Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., former state senator from Pittsfield, was a leading opponent of competitive pricing when he oversaw the insurance industry as chairman of the Legislature's Financial Services Committee. Now the Middle Berkshire register of deeds, he remains a critic of ending state control."In effect, what has happened is that a playing field that was entirely level for drivers is less level today," he said, "and it is less favorable for some of the most vulnerable drivers."Last year, under the state-controlled system, drivers received an 11.7 percent premium reduction, and many industry observers expected rates to decline another 10 percent if the state set prices again this year. Nuciforo said he was not impressed by the 7.7 percent average drop in pricing."There will be big savings for a few drivers, pretty good savings for other people that are not unlike what they would have had (if the state set the prices), and there are going to be some pretty dramatic spikes for others," he said.And it will be harder for drivers to tell what they are buying, he added, as insurers can now introduce new products that may be confusing or simply incomprehensible to the lay person.And the rates still could change. The companies have a chance to amend their prices next week; although many are expected to either keep their proposals the same or to lower them to compete with other providers, they also could increase them.Eagle Boston Bureau reporter Hillary Chabot contributed to this story.At a glance ...New rates were introduced Monday, as Massachusetts is allowing auto insurers to set their own rates for the first time since the 1970s, ending years of state-set premiums.The average statewide plan will decrease by 7.7 percent. Good drivers could see reductions of as much as 25 or even 35 percent, but bad drivers could see premiums increase up to 9.9 percent.Consumers are advised to shop around for the best deal; one company could increase the premium for a driver, while another company could offer a decrease of as much as 25 percent.
-On "Luciforo's" new business venture:www.jonathanmelleonpolitics.blogspot.com/2008/03/andrea-nuciforo-park-square-ventures.html-On "Luciforo's" corrupt political career:www.jonathanmelleonpolitics.blogspot.com/2007/10/andrea-f-nuciforo-jr-luciforo-devilish.html-On "Luciforo's" write-up in The Boston Globe concerning his collusion with the state's Massachusetts Insurance Companies & other wealthy, corporate elite financial institions lobbying Beacon Hill:www.jonathanmelleonpolitics.blogspot.com/2008/01/nuciforos-corruption.html-On "Luciforo's" Strong-Arming of Sharon Henault and then Sara Hathaway out of a 2006 Massachusetts State Government Election for Registry of Deeds in Pittsfield:www.jonathanmelleonpolitics.blogspot.com/2008/01/andrea-nuciforo-strong-armed-two-women.html-
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Well greetings fellas thanks for the opportunity of post a message , also i would like to know more about State Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo is very interesting , how can i get more information about it , I want to sign up for more details.
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