THE PLANET’S COVERAGE SAVES PITTSFIELD TAXPAYERS $4MM, plus, the STATE OF THE UNION & MORE PROBATION NEWS
BY DAN VALENTI
People of Pittsfield, rejoice! The Planet just saved you $4 million.
Sweeter than that is Jonathan Lothrop crediting The Planet for the save. The fattened Ward 5 councilor told the public last night that he thought they had the deal sewn up, but the cat got out of the bag. He means The Planet’s relentless job of educating the public on the sordid details of what would have been a ruinous deal for taxpayers.
It would have cost taxpayers $4 million to purchase and retrofit the polluted property that a realty trust thought it had palmed off on the city for a new DPW headquarters. For the past two days, we have educated citizens, who pressured their representatives, about this would-be folly. Last night, the city council came up big for constituents by defeating the mayor’s proposal to spend $875,000 on 11 acres and a building at 1644 East St.
DPW chief Bruce Collingwood has admitted PCBs on the site. The acreage borders a protected wetland, restricting development. In addition, the city wanted to spend a preposterous 45% over the price the owner paid for it in 2007. Guess Ruberto and Company didn’t hear it was a down market.
The council shot down the proposal 8-3. It was this council’s greatest moment. On the side of right and justice were Christine Yon, Paul Capitanio, Mike Ward, Joe Nichols, Gerry Lee, Melissa Mazzeo, Kevin Sherman, and Peter Marchetti. Voting in favor of an unholy deal were Lothrop, John Krol, and Peter White.
Ward was quick to see the light, based on his usual and thorough job of doing his homework. That came through during the council meeting. As for Ruberto’s three stooges, they would rather risk The Planet’s ire than go against the mayor’s orders. Lothrop was a given to be in favor of this stinker deal, since it appeared to be laced with insider politics. Krol did his usual job of being Ruberto’s “Mini Me” on the council. White still hasn’t found the spine for enough independence. The Planet isn’t giving up on him, though, and feels that will come.
The State of the Union Sucks
Would you pay five bucks for a President, any President, to start the State of the Union speech.
President Obama delivered the annual pabulum required of his office this time of year as good as it can be done, given the notorious gobs of vanilla frosting required to bake a cake this non-caloric. He’s an orator, all the more reason for abandoning the stupid Teleprompter.
State of the Union addresses are long on generalities, stout with bromides, thin with specifics, and short on substance. This isn’t Obama’s fault. The speech requires part pep talk, part salesmanship. Facing a divided House, Obama blew reconciliatory bubbles from the soap bottle of “bipartisanship.” The State of the Union, thus, always becomes an ink-blot test for citizens: Those who love Obama reviewed the speech as if he had squared the circle and found the last digit if Pi. The Obama haters made him sound like Ted Bundy.
And what are we to make of the thoroughly clueless airhead known as a Michelle Bachmann? Her “rebuttal” remarks revealed a petri-dish depth of intellect and a supreme ignorance of history. Where’s that dude Loughner when you really need him?
Obama whiffed on his spending cuts. He called for a freeze on non-military discretionary spending. Getting rid of earmarks is all well and good, but we won’t make a dent in the deficit until we pull completely out of Afghanistan and severely curtail Defense Department spending. Naturally, he called for an increase in education spending, the majority of which will end up not in the classroom but to fund outlandish public union deals.
Obama wants to “out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build” the rest of the world. Sorry, though, it’s not 1889, and Joseph Pulitzer isn’t running The World. It’s 2011, and cyberspace has taken care of the future.
We have seen the enemy. It be us.
Just because it isn’t making news around here, which means the Boring Broadsheet won’t go near it, it doesn’t mean that the heads have stopped rolling in the wake of the State Probation Department scandal.
First, commissioner John O’Brien resigned. Now his first deputy commish, Elizabeth Tavares, has quit. In an amazing coincidence, Tavares stepped down a day before her disciplinary hearing, in which she would have been fired. In quitting, the department lost a demographic “three-fer” — a women, Latina, and swarthy-skinned. Talk about a PR disaster.
Tavares was the subject of many lines of attorney Paul Ware’s probe into the “pay for play” department. In November, the department suspended Tavares … with pay, natch. After cooperating with Ware, Tavares suddenly clammed up. Wonder why? She followed the example of O’Brien, former House speaker Tom Finneran, and state rep. Tom Perlotti of Ludlow in refusing to testify. My father has a great expression for such stalwarts: “God damned phoney bastards.”
Will the current probes (IG and AG) filter down to the local department, led by Clifford Nilan? A songbird is singing, but for once, we ain’t swinging. All in due time, me lads, all in due time. The Planet can say from a local employee of the Probation Department that the nouns and verbs “are on pins and needles” over there.
The sad part of this is that Probabation, once an excellent department, has sunken to this mucky level. The Planet personally knows many fine people in probation. Their bosses have dumped all over them. There are interviews coming, under oath,. Those who lie or present perjury will regret it. Those who tell the truth will be given a break.