U.S. Senator Ed Markey’s new Massachusetts State Director paid a visit to the Berkshires Tuesday at the request of local politicians.
Before his move to Senator Markey’s office in April, Jim Cantwell served alongside Democratic Pittsfield State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier in the Massachusetts House of Representatives — a relationship that precipitated his visit to the county Tuesday.
“We sat side by side at the statehouse, so as soon as it was announced that I was the new state director, first thing she said is ‘you must come to Pittsfield,’ and then she said, ‘oh by the way, congratulations,’" laughed Cantwell. "The order was there.”
Cantwell, formerly the Democratic Representative for the 4th Plymouth district, was invited by both Farley-Bouvier and State Senator Adam Hinds, also a Democrat.
“My former role as being a state representative — when you know how hard it is for both of these folks on my left and right, how hard they work, their reputation at the statehouse is stellar," he told WAMC, "so I wanted to come out to show — you know, Senator Markey was a state representative, knows how important it is to have an ear to the ground, and my role as a state director is to get around to all the different districts to learn how we can be of help from the federal level.”
Cantwell’s comments to WAMC followed a tour of the Pittsfield Police Department given by Chief Michael Wynn, who identified key concerns with the facility that authorities have been raising for years. Farley-Bouvier underscored the importance of collaboration on the local, state, and federal level.
“To have Jim know the real challenges, for example, that we have in the police station is important, because in order to meet our goal of having a new police station, we’re going to need all hands on deck,” said the state rep.
The antiquated station, built in 1939, lacks adequate parking for the department’s fleet of vehicles, and has limited cell space. It fails to meet the current standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act, with its cells for women and children as well as its administrative offices located up a long flight of stairs. Every corner of the station is filled with file cabinets and boxes of documents.
“It’s either the top or very, very near the top of the city priorities of things that have to get done,” said Farley-Bouvier.
“It’s clear that there needs to be some work here at the station," said Cantwell. "The fact that both the senator and the representative have funds in a bond bill right now to start the first phase is a great first step.”
Senator Hinds said that the cross-county visit was both timely and expansive in scope.
“This is a critical moment, when he’s two months in. So to make sure we have a strong relationship right from the start on a lot of these issues that we’re interacting with the federal government on — EPA, Rest of River, Brownfields, a lot of public safety interactions, FCC and our channels, and so- and a whole range of resources that we can bring to bear from the federal government,” Hinds told WAMC.
Markey recently called on the FCC to return the Berkshires to the Massachusetts television market after Charter Spectrum removed a pair of commonwealth news stations from the county’s dial. Cantwell, who said the senator has been in direct contact with the cable giant over what he characterized as broken promises to consumers, said Republican Governor Charlie Baker’s office should join the call.
“To have a unified voice of saying ‘this is unacceptable.’ It’s over 58,000 people who are Charter Spectrum customers who are being told you’re not going to have the same level of service you had before, nor are you going to have the same level of service that other people have around the state and that’s unacceptable,” said Cantwell.