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Class of 2011

Class of 2011 Difference Makers

Executive Director, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission

Tim Brennan

Tim Brennan

Tim Brennan was talking about the specific skills one must possess to be a successful planner, especially a long-range planner, which is his unofficial job title.

And he focused on two traits — patience and tenacity — noting that one must have them in abundance in this arena, because some — actually, it’s more like most — initiatives don’t take a few months or years to become reality; they take a few decades, at least.

“If you get disappointed easily, and you don’t have the grit to keep coming back over and over again and make the plans work that you think should work, then you’ve picked the wrong job,” he told BusinessWest, laughing as he did so. “And it happens; some people just don’t have that demeanor for this.”

As an example of patience and tenacity, he cited work to create bike paths in the region, an initiative that dates back to when he started working for what was then known as the Lower Pioneer Valley Regional Planning Commission (LPVRPC), as the transportation planner, in 1973.

“There were none at that time, but the temperature started to change and the federal government became interested in things other than autos and transit,” he explained. “We started working on what was then the Five College Bikeway, which was a conceptual idea. Once the media-release value was gone, everyone abandoned it; but we stayed with it, and 20-something years later, I’m at the ribbon-cutting for the trail. I’m not the planner in the Transportation Department, I’m the director, and I’ve got two young daughters who are going to be able to use the Norwottuck trail.

“That’s a long time to wait for some satisfaction,” he continued, putting extra emphasis on that word ‘long.’ “But now we have these bikeway projects springing up across the area, and I think they’re really attraction amenities; they add a lot of value to communities, and when we get them to hook up with one another, they’re great assets.”

There are several other examples from Brennan’s tenure with what is now simply the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. They include everything from Connecticut River clean-up efforts to initiatives to bring more and better rail service to the area; from work to maximize the CSX complex in West Springfield as a regional economic-development asset to efforts to promote greater regionalization in this region and also neighboring Northern Conn.

For achieving progress in these areas and, overall, for giving that grit he described earlier, Brennan has been named one of BusinessWest’s Difference Makers for 2011. Some of the work he’s led is easy to see, such as those bike trails, a cleaner Connecticut River, and a reconstructed Coolidge Bridge. But some of it is outwardly less visible, yet equally important, such as the creation in 1994 of the Plan for Progress — a blueprint for helping the Valley remain competitive in an increasingly global economy — and its many updates since.

Brennan has seemingly always been a little ahead of his time, dating to when he did his thesis at UMass Amherst on issues concerning the collection and management of solid waste, and, specifically, the need for greater recycling. “That was kind of a radical idea at the time,” he said.

While at UMass, he took part in an internship with the city of Northampton, “which at that time was as downtrodden as any city you could imagine,” and worked on solid waste and, eventually, planning issues for then-Mayor Sean Dunphey. He was part of efforts to create a new master plan and revamped zoning laws, and was there to see the very beginnings of that city’s renaissance.

After graduating from UMass, Brennan commenced a search for employment in the region and found an opportunity at the LPVRPC as transportation planner. While in that position, he led the formation of the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA), one of many regional transit systems created by the state Legislature.

In 1980, when the directorship of the LPVRPC came open, Brennan applied, but did not get the nod. But when the individual who was chosen ultimately decided not to relocate from Illinois, another search was commenced, and this time Brennan triumphed.

When asked what’s kept him in this job for more than 30 years, working for and alongside countless mayors, selectmen, and planning and development leaders, Brennan said it’s the diversity of the work and the satisfaction that comes with overcoming the many challenges it takes to bring projects that are decades in the making to fruition.

He also likes the balance between working in both the present and future tenses.
“I tell people, and I really believe this, that one of the interesting things about planners is that you have to be bipolar in terms of your time zone,” he explained. “And I don’t know if you can quantify it, but both switches are always on because, if you can’t demonstrate that you’re relevant to the present, all your conjecture about the future gets completely tuned out.”

So when asked what the Greater Springfield area might look like in 30 years, the man who always has one eye focused at least that far down the road said there will be some recognizable changes.

“What’s going to shape the region is energy and climate change,” Brennan said. “Suddenly, it’s politically unpopular to talk about climate change, but the scientists are screaming that it’s real and we have to do something about it. A few weeks ago, the state set greenhouse-gas emission-reduction goals for 2020 and 2050. I don’t think I’ll be around in 2050, but it’s my job to start, with my colleagues, to take this seriously and try to get us ready.

“So what I see is that we won’t be on fossil fuels anymore; we’ll be running off different kinds of fuels, and we’ll need a more-compact land-use pattern — we can’t keep spreading out like we have been,” he continued. “We’ll be going back to the future in a way, where some of the places that we depopulated get repopulated, including many of the urban areas, the downtowns.”

Meanwhile, the Valley will have to focus its energies on successfully existing in one of what are projected to be a dozen or so ‘super regions,’ the one in question stretching from Philadelphia to Boston.

“We have to be connected to the Northeast mega-region, or we’re toast,” Brennan told BusinessWest. “There was a guy here 10 years ago who has a national reputation, who said that if we didn’t have firm plans and follow through on them, much of New England, including this region, could end up as a cul-de-sac, and that really stuck in my mind.

“I think the Valley has all the right building blocks to be one of those regions that can sustain itself going into all these major changes,” he continued. “That’s why we’re working on rail, that’s why we’re working on the broadband, that’s why we will be working on food security; these are all designed to put the infrastructure in place for the region to be vibrant and attractive.”

Getting to that place won’t be easy, but Brennan has the requisite personality traits — patience, tenacity, and that all-important grit — to get the job done.

— George O’Brien

Class of 2011 Difference Makers

Founder, Rays of Hope

Lucy Giuggio Carvalho

Lucy Giuggio Carvalho

Lucy Giuggio Carvalho calls them her “million-dollar sunglasses.”

She found them in a bargain bin at T.J. Maxx in the summer of 2009, and knew at first sight that she had something special.

“I think I paid $2 for them; they’re pink, they’re sparkly, they’re different,” said Carvalho, who gave them their name because she thought that, by wearing them, she could help will the fund-raising walk known as Rays of Hope — which she founded after becoming a breast-cancer survivor in 1994 — over the $1 million mark for that year’s walk.

Thus far, the shades haven’t lived up to their name — the tallies for the past few walks have come tantalizing close to what is, for now, anyway, the magic number, but haven’t crossed that threshold. But Carvalho isn’t ready to give up on her latest good-luck charm.

“They’ll be back for a third year,” she said with a large dose of conviction, adding quickly that her choice of eyewear is just one of myriad decisions to make when it comes to her Rays of Hope ensemble (everything goes with pink sneakers, apparently). Indeed, over the years she has collected vast amounts of keepsakes and gifts from event organizers and fellow walkers — survivor pins and badges, scarves, T-shirts, and assorted chochkies, as she calls them. “I couldn’t wear it all,” she joked. “If I did, it would weigh me down so much I couldn’t walk.”

There are far more scientific ways of measuring just how far Rays of Hope has come in 17 years than Carvalho’s inventory of options when it comes to accessorizing for the annual walk — such as the total raised to date, more than $8 million. But there are perhaps none that are more poignant.

They show how the event has evolved into more than a fund-raiser — although it is that, first and foremost. It has become, said Carvalho, a very powerful show of strength, and unity, in a fight that’s far from over — a sobering fact that draws more individuals and teams to the starting line every year.

For creating and nurturing this show of unity, Carvalho, a former oncology nurse and currently director of case management for Jewish Geriatric Services, has been named one of BusinessWest’s Difference Makers for 2011. She said that, if she had her way, she would bring the tens of thousands of walkers and event organizers to the podium with her, because it is their collective efforts that have made the event, through the dollars it raises, a difference maker in the lives of breast-cancer victims, and a role player in the ongoing efforts to find a cure.

When asked how Rays of Hope came to be, Carvalho didn’t start with her own well-documented battle with breast cancer, which began when she discovered a lump during a self-exam. Instead, she focused on her nephew’s involvement, and also her own, in an AIDS walk in Boston several years earlier, and the very important lessons she took from it.

“I come from a family that gets involved,” she said while explaining how and why she became a participant. “And it’s from that walk that I gained a lot of the vision that I wanted to see happen here. That’s where I learned so much about how important it is, and how much you can do, if you can get a group of people who are dedicated to a cause and try to make a difference.

“They raised a lot of money, and they made it fun,” she continued. “They made it fun, exciting, and educational. While you were walking, you talked with people and learned about the disease; all that made it such a fulfilling experience that you wanted to do it again, and we did.”

To make a long and inspiring story short, Calvalho and other Rays of Hope organizers have managed to do the same with their event.

Indeed, with memories of that AIDS walk still fresh in her mind and an American Cancer Society breast-cancer walk that netted $400,000 in the pouring rain further inspiring her, Carvalho, while still recovering from her own lengthy battle with the disease, set out to create her own event.

She recruited organizers, secured a media sponsor (Channel 40), and gained commitments for startup funds. Still, many people involved with her wanted her to wait a year to get on even more solid ground. She listened to that advice, but pressed ahead with her plans for that year, and is glad she did.

“I believe to this day that, if I waited a year, it wouldn’t have happened,” she explained. “It had to happen, and it had to happen that year. I had the energy, I had the passion, I had the motivation, I had the group … the stars were aligned, and it was meant to be.”

Today, funds from Rays of Hope go in several directions. Some are put toward ongoing research, including work at the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute in Springfield. Funds also go toward a wide range of services, including what are known as ‘complementary services’ for those battling the disease. These include yoga, Reiki, and something known as Art from the Heart.

Carvalho is traditionally assigned the task of reviewing requests in this complementary-services category, which she says has perhaps the most compelling direct impact on breast-cancer patients.

“It’s probably the most unscientific aspect of all this, but the piece that really helps people,” she explained. “It’s promoting wellness, and a way of helping people through the process.”

Over the years, Carvalho has turned over most all of the operational aspects of the walk to partner Baystate Health, employees there, and a massive team of volunteers. She describes the broad planning and execution process as a “well-oiled machine” with which she is still quite active.

She has what she considers a lifetime seat on the committee that receives and considers funding requests and ultimately rewards proceeds, and played a role in a five-year strategic plan for the walk undertaken in 2004. “Obviously, we’re overdue for another one.”

As for walk day itself, she said she has a badge (somewhat lost amid everything else she wears) that identifies her as the founder. “It gets me a parking space close to the start line,” she joked, adding that she is largely anonymous for the event itself, walking with a team from JGS and family members, and getting to meet as many new people as time and circumstances allow.

Carvalho told BusinessWest that fund-raising veterans have marveled at the longevity of Rays of Hope. “They say an event like this one usually runs its course in 10 years, and then you have to find something else. This one, though, shows no signs of slowing down; I don’t see it ending unless we find a cure for breast cancer.”

The one constant, she said, is change — in everything from the size and composition of the crowd of participants, to new wrinkles (a run and a walk in Greenfield were added for 2010), to the programs funded by the proceeds.

One thing that won’t change for 2011 is that pair of million-dollar sunglasses.

Carvalho isn’t sure what else she’ll be wearing — again, there are a lot of decisions to make — but weather permitting (and perhaps even if it doesn’t), the shades will return.

And Carvalho believes this year they will live up to their name.

— George O’Brien

Class of 2011 Difference Makers

President, Human Resources Unlimited

Don Kozera

Don Kozera

Don Kozera says he applies a number of lessons from his time in teaching to his day-to-day work as president of Human Resources Unlimited (HRU).

And one of the most important dates back to his first full day at Green Mountain Union High School in Chester, Vt., and what happened after.

“The administration thought it would be an excellent idea to have the students choose their homeroom teacher,” he recalled for BusinessWest in a voice conveying no small dose of cynicism, “because if they choose their homeroom teacher they’ll be more bonded to that individual, and the teacher will become their advisor … that was the theory, anyway.

“I was a young guy right out of school, 22 years old. I coached soccer, and some of the kids thought I was a cool guy who could relate to people,” he continued. “Anyway, I had no idea what I was doing, really, but I had 300 names on my door when I arrived that first day. And then, there was this extremely experienced, but tough, science teacher across the hall from me, and she had two.”

The moral to this story? “The concept was a great one, but the execution of it just created all kinds of problems,” he explained. “That woman … she hated me for the rest of my time there, and she made my life a living hell.

“Often in management, there is great intent on the part of people like those administrators at Green Mountain Union,” he went on. “But when you put it into action, the unintended consequences of that decision were worse than having left things the way they were. By choosing their homeroom teacher, the students did bond better with the teacher — that part was true, but what they failed to realize was that they destroyed the collaboration between teachers, the sharing of information; everybody then became an island.

“That piece is something I carry with me all the time,” he continued, “and the way you apply it is that you don’t think you know the answer, and you don’t do things in isolation.”

Kozera has let that experience and many others help guide him as he’s steered HRU to continued growth and success as an organization devoted to helping mentally and physically disabled individuals find work — and, in the process, gain confidence, self-esteem, and all the other rewards that come with meaningful employment, and become productive members of society.

Since arriving in 1980 as fiscal director of what was known then as the Carval Workshop, Kozera has led the agency, which currently operates on an annual budget of $7.5 million and assists more than 1,500 people a year, on a course of expansion and evolution to where it now includes a number of working parts, including:

• A component known as Workforce Alternatives, which helps transition individuals from public assistance to the workplace through job-readiness skills, placement assistance, and ongoing support;

• Pyramid, a ‘day habilitation’ program that provides a caring environment in which individuals with developmental disabilities can enhance their physical, mental, and social competencies;

• ETS (Employment Training Support) Career Services, which provides individuals who are disabled or have developmental or other disabilities with opportunities to increase their vocational skills and find meaningful work that ranges from light assembly to sorting greeting cards bound for the Final Markdown;

• Custom Packaging, HRU’s commercial division that provides a wide range of customers with services that include light assembly, heat-sealing, shrink-wrapping, folding, collating, and mailing; and

• Four clubhouses — Lighthouse, Star Light, Forum House, and Trade Winds — that help transition members, who join on a volunteer basis, to meaningful employment.

For these efforts, as well as his recent and ongoing efforts to successfully combat what he called “mission drift,” Kozera has been named one of BusinessWest’s Difference Makers for 2011. More specifically, Kozera is being recognized for his work in leading the organization through times of change and extreme challenge.

This leadership comes in a number of forms — from successfully managing day-to-day operations to conducting long-term strategic planning, to maintaining the critical balance that is part and parcel to both of those assignments. And, overall, and to borrow Kozera’s own words, “making sure that the guiding principles of the organization are not simply words on a wall.”

When asked for his job description and the approach that he takes to everything on that list, Kozera thought for a minute and said that, at the end of the day, it is essentially to set goals for the agency and give his staff the tools and the direction to meet them.

And these goals must be realistic, he continued.

“That’s because, when people are constantly working on unrealistic goals, they become deflated, and then it becomes OK never to achieve — they just work hard, but they don’t achieve,” he explained. “You must have action phases that are really defined, timelines that are really defined, and goals that are aggressive but ultimately achievable.

“My job is to really define reality and to make sure everyone knows what that reality is and to pull people toward that vision and ensure that we stay in balance,” he continued. “Staying in balance is how you manage change.”

Kozera said that, whenever he’s looking or acting like the bureaucracy or regulatory aspects of his work are dragging him down, they’ll find some way to get him out to one of HRU’s various programs.

“They’ll call one of the managers to invite me to the program for some purpose,” he explained, “and then I’m fine. That’s when I’m reminded of exactly what I’m doing; by far the most rewarding thing for me is seeing the outcome of those programs.”

Which brings him back to that mission drift he mentioned and the need to be vigilant about allowing it to happen.

“Especially in bad times, it’s easy to get mission drift and essentially chase money, and we have not done that,” he explained. “Sometimes you’ll see agencies like ours, specializing in employment services, see a residential contract come out and say, ‘let’s do some residential work.’ Is that really their expertise? And is there a need for that? Often, they’re just trying to make their organization survive.

“We’ve remained very true to our mission, even in the tough times, and there have been none tougher than what we’re seeing now,” he continued. “We have a niche mission — our major focus is employment services; they are the tool to empowerment for us. In these times, everyone’s grabbing, and it’s not just on human services — you’re seeing painters looking at paving; people are just trying to stay in the game. We’re very conscious of mission drift and are committed to not letting that happen.”

As he goes about meeting that overriding goal, Kozera will keep in mind the lessons he’s learned over the past 30 years, and some that go back further, to those lists of names on the teachers’ doors at Green Mountain Union High School.

In short, he won’t just think he knows the answer, and won’t do anything in isolation.

— George O’Brien

Class of 2011 Difference Makers

Retired Partner/Consultant, Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C.

Robert Perry

Robert Perry

Robert Perry admits that he’s not much of a handyman.

So he makes no apologies for the fact that, over the course of more than a decade’s work with Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity, he’s probably spent three or four days “working,” at least by his estimation.

And while others would disagree with that math — they say Perry enjoys getting his hands dirty and is always ready, willing, and able to pitch in — they usually don’t quibble with his numbers, or his leadership, for that matter.

That’s because Perry’s contributions usually haven’t been with a hammer, shovel, or level, but rather with a telephone, gavel, and calculator. A quasi-retired CPA — ‘retired partner/consultant’ with Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. in Holyoke, to be more exact — Perry spent an unheard-of seven years as president of the organization’s board (“I wasn’t smart enough to find a replacement”) while also serving as treasurer.

He said that, instead of framing, tiling, or putting up sheetrock, his main contributions to Habitat’s mission have come in the form of leadership, organization, fund-raising, finding and cultivating sponsors, and keeping track of the financial details.

Those who have worked with him over the years would say that he and his wife (Bob and Bobbi to those who know them) have provided something else — hefty amounts of inspiration. A large dose of it came in late 2008 when, in conjunction with their 35th wedding anniversary, they donated and raised $35,000 each toward the construction of a Habitat home in Monson.

Perry said there was a was good deal of serendipity, or symmetry, to that project — it was the 35th house built by the Greater Springfield Habitat group, and it was dedicated on Valentine’s Day in 2010. And, overall, it was an appropriate way for he and his wife to give back and celebrate all they’ve been able to enjoy together. “We’ve had a lot of good things happen in our lives.”

Meanwhile, the overall experience with Habitat has been perhaps the best example of how, through more than 30 years of work within the community — here and elsewhere — he’s sought out opportunities where the results are visible and significant. It was this way with his work at Big Brothers Big Sisters in Framingham much earlier in his professional career, and also with his recent efforts mentoring students at Putnam Vocational-Technical High School in Springfield.

“The connection I made between being a big brother and being in Habitat is being able to see the results of your efforts every day,” he explained. “When I was working as a big brother with a kid, you could see his progress — you could see his self-esteem growing, you could see him learning things that you were imparting. In Habitat, when we raised some money or when we found a family, you could see the change immediately — you could see the cause and effect of your relationship.

“That’s the essence of Habitat for me,” he continued. “We all know we’re doing good when we donate to cancer or when we take part in the breast-cancer walk, or take part in Rotary, but it’s a little more difficult to connect the dots. And that’s one of the big benefits of work with Habitat; you truly get to see that every day.”

Recapping his professional career and work in the community, Perry said they’ve dovetailed nicely. He told BusinessWest that he was always drawn to accounting work, and, after graduating from Northeastern, he went to work for Alexander Grant in Boston. After a stint as a CFO for a textile manufacturer in the late ’70s, he went to Greenberg Rosenblatt in Worcester, and later, when that firm bought an accounting practice in Springfield, he was transferred here to run that operation. After a few years as a self-employed consultant, he went to work for Meyers Brothers, which merged with the Kalicka firm in 2003.

Today, Perry is what one colleague, also semi-retired, calls a “partner emeritus.” He says he spends about 500 hours a year as a consultant — 250 during the three crunch months of tax season, and the balance spread out over the remainder of the year. The rest of his time is devoted to a few passions, but especially golf and community service.

He and Bobbi are members at Wilbraham Country Club (he’s a 16 handicapper and she’s a 20), and they play together frequently. As for the community-service piece, it’s been a career-long constant, inspired in part by Bobbi’s work with deaf children and their families.

Perry spent several years as a member of the Exchange Club that serves Longmeadow, East Longmeadow, and Wilbraham, but found he wanted to be more on what he called the “front lines” of community work. He looked for ways to address this desire, and found one when friend York Mayo, then-volunteer president of Habitat for Humanity, recruited him to look at the group’s finances.

Little did he know that he would soon work his way up to president and spend seven years in that seat, helping the organization “get to the next level” organizationally, as he put it, while also building three or four houses a year.

As for the house he and Bobbi helped sponsor for their 35th anniversary, Perry said, “sometimes, things just come together in a natural sort of way. “This was the 35th house. We saw it coming, looked at it, saw an opportunity to give back, and worked with some church groups to make it happen.”

He’s been making things happen with other organizations as well, especially the Greater Springfield YMCA, which he’s served on the corporate and finance boards, as chair of the audit board, and as co-chair of the Scantic golf tournament. He also involved with Springfield School Volunteers, and is currently in his second year of mentoring students at Putnam.

“I have a sophomore student who’s on point,” he said. “He’s a little shy; I think he’s looking for some self-confidence, and he’s looking for someone outside his family to be a role model. It’s a mini-version of Big Brothers Big Sisters, and I find it very rewarding.”

Mayo, summing up Perry’s contributions to Habitat and other groups, had this to say: “Bob has compassion for others. He converts his beliefs into action through hard work and relentless dedication. When he makes the decision to support an organization, he is the first to roll up his sleeves and get involved. He is persistent and never gives up.

“He is a critical thinker, learns quickly, and is a great listener,” Mayo continued. “His contribution to Habitat for Humanity is immeasurable. But Habitat is not the only recipient of Bob’s many talents. A partial list includes ReStore Home Improvement, the Red Cross, the YMCA, the Roger L. Putnam Technical Fund, and the Millbrook Scholars Fund for homeless high-school students.”

As for what he considers a lack of handyman skills, “I think it’s funny that I would get involved in a volunteer construction organization,” Perry joked, adding quickly that he believes he’s more than made up for that deficiency with organizational and leadership abilities.

And no one would argue with that point.

— George O’Brien

Class of 2011 Difference Makers

Police Chief, City of Holyoke

Anthony Scott

Anthony Scott

Anthony Scott was talking about his penchant for garnering media attention.

He insists that he’s not a publicity hound, and that newspaper headlines and broadcast sound bites “have just happened” — everywhere he’s gone, including Holyoke.

But Scott, the city’s police chief since 2001, freely admits that he tries to align himself with the press — “I meet the media on their grounds” — and use its reach to get his various messages across. “You can’t sit down and talk to 40,000 people,” he said, noting the approximate population of the Paper City, “but you can use the media to reach them.”

As for what he does with the press and how he does it, he summons a few quotes from an old Cajun friend, passed along when Scott was a young officer with the New Orleans Police Department.

“He told me to never get into a pissing contest with someone who buys their ink by the barrel, their paper by the ton, or their videotape by the mile,” Scott told BusinessWest, acknowledging that this is time-honored advice uttered by many. “He also said that, if you can’t say something kind, nice, or good, tell the truth.”

And through a 44-year career in law enforcement, that’s exactly what Scott has been doing — telling the truth. Sometimes, actually, much of the time, it comes with a little sarcasm, and more often than not it hurts those to whom he’s referring. But this certainly has never stopped the truly outspoken Scott, who will be retiring in April, from speaking his mind.

Consider these comments concerning various topics and constituencies:

On the Holyoke City Council, with which he has butted heads seemingly since the day he arrived: “It’s funny … but when an individual gets 400 or maybe 1,000 votes, they suddenly think they know more about your job than you do. I’ve only been doing this for 40-something years. I’m not trying to be a smart aleck, but I think I know a little more about law enforcement than the average politician.”

On his seemingly incessant criticism of judges for what he considers light sentences and releasing criminals on their own recognizance, and whether this campaign has made an impact: “The judiciary won’t admit it, but it has. We can see that judges are getting a little stiffer on the sentencing and bails are increasing. I’ve been a royal pain in their tuckus; they don’t like me, and personally, I don’t care. I’m here to look out for the citizens of Holyoke, and I’m going to do that until the day I walk out of this office.”

And how about this letter, which Scott wrote to the state parole board when informed that one Angel Santiago, found guilty of breaking and entering and assault on a police officer, was scheduled for a parole hearing just six days into a 60-day sentence? “Inmate Santiago hasn’t had sufficient time to adjust to the luxuries in his present surroundings within the House of Corrections before you are in a rush to push him out the door and back into the civilized community to which he has shown nothing but contempt. Once again I ask that you excuse my sense of right and wrong, but scheduling a parole hearing does not appear to be in the best interest of public safety, nor does it send a message that one must pay for the crimes they commit. Inmate Santiago is a thief, and at the young age of 21, inmate Santiago has been arraigned 11 times in the Holyoke and Springfield district courts. To even consider this rascal for parole is an insult to me, the arresting officers, and the citizens of Holyoke.”

Scott told BusinessWest that he considers such letter-writing, such telling it like it is, to be an important part of his job. He describes all of these various efforts as part of his work to be a voice for victims — and he says there are not enough of them.

“You have a lot of people out there who are very vocal about the rights of criminals, and how fairly criminals should be treated when they go to court,” he said. “There are a lot of voices out there. But not a lot of voices saying, ‘how about the victims of crime?’”

For standing up for victims and, more importantly, for making Holyoke an inhospitable place for criminals and would-be criminals, Chief Scott has made another headline, this time as one of BusinessWest’s Difference Makers for 2011.

And the chief found a little irony in the fact that he was being honored by a business publication, because he has a degree in business, and, more to the point, he approaches crime like a business.

Well, to be more specific, he says he wants to make it so criminals won’t want to do business in his city.

“If a business is operating within a city and that city continues to raise its taxes and raise its fees, and the business overhead gets to be expensive for them, they’ll relocate,” he explained. “They’ll go to another city where the taxes are lower and the fees are low enough so they can operate and make a profit.

“I look at that the same way I do at criminals,” he continued. “I try to make the overhead as high as possible; I try to wreck their drug business, I try to get fees and fines increased … and those individuals from the dark side, the attorneys, help me out a lot. They charge a great deal of money for their services. So the criminal has to pay higher attorney fees, higher fines, they lose their drugs — so they are going to seek out a city that’s not driving up the overhead. I get calls from correctional officers working in Massachusetts and Connecticut who tell me that the criminal element is telling other criminals, ‘don’t go to Holyoke — that chief is crazy.’”

Dark side?

Lawyers probably like Scott because his war on crime has created more business for them, but if they don’t, it really doesn’t matter to him. As he said, he’s told the City Council on many occasions, “I don’t do touchy-feely. My job is to remove the criminal element from the street and make the community safe.”

Scott will reach mandatory retirement age (65) in a few months, and is stepping down in April. He said his plan for life after police work — and it seems well-thought-out — is to do consulting work with police departments, handle background checks on candidates for executive positions, and similar investigatory work. He said he won’t miss the judges — and took one more shot on his way out the door, saying he’ll be extra careful in retirement “because, if I get arrested for a parking ticket, I’m going to jail” — or the city councilors. He will miss the people of Holyoke, though.

“They welcomed me into their community and made me feel at home,” he said, adding that he’s not quite sure what retirement will bring for him.

Probably more of what he’s been doing all along: telling the truth.

— George O’Brien

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