‘People Will Continue to Get Sick and Die’

Today, The Planet presents this remarkable story on PCBs. We call it “remarkable” for the way it explains what’s at stake for Pittsfield and Berkshire County in as concise, coherent, and complete a treatment as we have to date seen.

Guest writer Dave Martindale makes the essential point: The Housatonic is a sick river. If left alone, it will not clean itself. Anything short of removing the toxins from the river will leave the sickness there. The poison will continue to leech into the soil, escape into the air, and migrate into the water. People will continue to get sick and some will die.

And since Peter Marchetti has declared along with Joe Nichols his intent to run for mayor, we call upon him as well as Nichols to state, unequivocally, where they stand on what will perhaps the most important issue in Pittsfield’s Campaign 2011. If Marchetti and Nichols do not directly read this challenge, we know that friends will convey that they are being put on the Hot Seat, now, on the PCB cleanup issue. We The People expect a timely response.

We thank Martindale for lending his obvious expertise to the discussion. As always, The Planet, being an advocate of free speech, invites opposing points of view.

Removal: A Rationale for Cleaning the River

By Dave Martindale

The rational to thoroughly remove PCBs from our environment must be made clearly evident.

PCB is a stable compound and naturally breaks down slowly. Its stability was one of the reasons it was chosen to be used as a dielectric fluid.

We should not depend on the river cleaning itself of PCB. If the river purges itself of PCB, where will that contamination end up? One truth left out of a lot of discussions is that the river is deathly sick. It is not the pristine environment that many portray. GE destroyed the river, not the pending clean-up.

We need to remove these toxins from the river before they do more harm to local residents or move into the environment and cause harm elsewhere.

PCBs have been found in the food chain, even in vegetables. PCBs are bio-accumulative. They move up the food chain. PCBs have been found in every part of the world and all the way to the Arctic. PCB has been measured in alarming quantities in the fat of seals and polar bears. It is reported that polar bears are experiencing reproductive issues that are linked to PCB exposure. PCB is proven to be cancer causing in animals. PCB exposure, even in small quantities, has been linked to numerous health problems in humans.

One frightening aspect of PCB is that when PCB is heated, dioxin and furans are created at temperatures below 2000 degrees F. Consequently, if you are frying a piece of fish contaminated with PCB on the stove in your kitchen, the potential exists for you to contaminate your house and expose yourself and your family to dioxin and furan.

Dioxin and furan are known carcinogens. Dioxin has been labeled as one of the most toxic man-made chemicals. The contamination that is in the river, more than likely, contains more than just PCB. A reality of the transformer manufacturing process was the failure of transformers in test prior to shipment and the repair of transformers that failed in the field. In the development of ever larger transformers, transformers often failed in test. Oil from failed transformers was no longer suitable for reuse and was discarded, often into the environment. Transformer failures were high-heat-related events.

As stated above, heating PCB creates dioxin and furans. More than likely, a large percentage of the oil that was carelessly dumped by GE into the environment was oil from failed transformers. One can only assume that a percentage of that oil contained dioxin created by the transformer failure.

Another reality of PCB is that Monsanto knowingly shipped PCB that contained a percentage of dioxin.

Just because they are not sampling for Dioxin does not mean it is not part of our problem.


The Planet thanks Dave Martindale for his essay.

City Council Creams Little Guy Again

The City Council once again spit on The Little Guy in approving by 8-3 vote the creation of the position of what is essentially “chief of staff” for the mayor’s office. The move will cost taxpayers around $15,000 a year. The eight who supported Mayor Ruberto’s request (Yon, White, Capitanio, Ward, Lothrop, Krol, Lee, and Marchetti) bought into the fiction that Pittsfield needs this position, since the job has become too much for one person — this at a time when the city’s population has dipped below 40,000 and falling.

The mayor’s office has three employees. The Office of Community Development director has the equivalent power of an associate mayor. There is also the presence of ex-North Adams mayor John Barrett for the past 15 months, on whom Mayor Ruberto has heavily relied.

Speaking for Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski, our mythical, typical middle-class couple struggling to keep up with the increasingly heavier financial burdens the Pittsfield GOB (Good Old Boys) Network keeps placing on their backs, The Planet thanks Kevin Sherman, Joe Nichols, and Melissa Mazzeo for their support of fiscal sanity and principled consideration.

Adding to the Fattened Bureaucracy

To the Status Quo bunch, Smaller City = Bigger Administration = More Plum Patronage. Fact is, supporters of creating the new position never articulated a convincing case as to why the city would need to spend the extra money. The honest answer is to give a sainted someone a glorified title and a fat raise.

Can we be honest about what’s going on here? This is part of Jimmy Ruberto’s farewell tour, where he rewards his political friends before leaving office. It’s not his money he’s giving away. Yon, White, Cappy, Ward, J-Lo, JK, Lee, and Marchetti didn’t give away a dime of their dough, either. Essentially, they gave Tricia Farley-Bouvier a $15 grand raise for the same job. Not bad if you’re her. Terrible if you’re the Kapanskis.

Marchetti is this Tale’s Villain

The villain in this tale is Peter Marchetti, The Man Who Wants to be Mayor (MAWATMA). Mr. Mawatma had the key vote stemming from the earlier 7-3 first reading. He became the clincher for the super-majority needed to approve this dubious move, not that is was a surprise. Marchetti historically has been one of Ruberto’s most reliable lap dogs, and the vote in favor was expected. The Planet wonders if anyone will spill what rewards came (or will come) Mr. Mawatma’s way for his unflagging support of an issue that doesn’t make sense.

Of course, it’s mere coincidence that on the day Marchetti casts this vote, on the day he’s seen at the council meeting channeling the Ghost of Greylock Credit Union CEO Past, that he announced he’s running for mayor. Can you guess where the Ruberto team (John Bissell, Angelo Stracuzzi, et al) will be camping this fall?

Doesn’t Add Up

The vote to needlessly waste $15,000 of precious taxpayer money doesn’t add up, either

(a) Financially,

(b) Managerially, or

(c) Administratively.

This is a political patronage action taken by a spineless council while the city is in a financial mess due, in large part, to its own inaction on a bill-due of $311 million (and counting) in unfunded liabilities. Sure, $15,000 won’t make a dent, but as symbolism, it’s huge.

Thank you Nichols, Sherman, and Mazzeo for fighting the good fight. No thank you to the rest for laying a slippery, slimy loogie in Mr. and Mrs. Kapanski’s faces.


Sizing Up ‘Mayor’ Marchetti

There will be ample time to assess all of the candidates in this year’s election, and The Planet shall. Since Peter Marchetti has decided to declare early, we can offer a few initial thoughts, the same as we did with Joe Nichols in December.

(a) When we first met Marchetti, it was in a losing effort for a council seat. The Planet remembers telling him after his loss that he impressed us and that, if he learned from his mistakes, he would likely be successful. That he was.

(b) Our high hopes for this man of obvious intelligence and decent will were dashed once he did attain office, for two reasons: his tendency to waver on hot issues, and for what turned out to be his inability to standup up to the GOBs.

(c) Marchetti can be counted on, every time, to vote the GOB way, as he has made clear now during his long tenure on the council, at large.

(d) He has not shown voters, constituents, or The Planet perhaps the most important characteristic a political representative must have: independence.

(e) And Please, don’t tell us that he’s a “good guy.” Of course he is. We agree. Everyone’s a “good guy or gal” at heart. Our assessments of candidates are NEVER made on feelings, emotions, or other non-starters. It isn’t and will never be whether someone is a “good guy” or not. It’s whether they are good representatives, that is, resolute in standing up for The Little Guy, dealing effectively with the Special Interests (including saying “no” when “no” is the answer), able to express through reason and logic the rationales of his or her position, and utterly determined, that is, not wishy-washy on tough issues.

(f) Message to Marchetti, Nichols, and anyone else who decides to throw their fedoras into the ring: It’s not personal. Keep repeating, oh ye of thin skin: It’s not personal, it’s not personal, it’s not personal. The Planet loves you — loves you — as people. As politicians? That’s another story.

Marchetti Asked to Take a Stance

The Planet thus asks Marchetti, either in this forum or in a written e-mail to us at (we want it in writing) to give us his view of three specific issues:

What is his stance on the PCB-Housatonic River issue? Total removal of PCBs or leaving the PCBs there?

  • Does he think Hill 78 should be removed from its present location, 50 feet from Allendale School?
  • Will he, as mayor, address the $331 million unfunded liability issue. If so, how. If not, why not?
  • We address this personally to Marchetti. We would like your answers to these three specific questions. The Planet would like then sooner rather than later (we think within a week from today is reasonable). Hey, you declared for the office. For you, it’s campaign time. You are on a job interview. I am conducting the interview on behalf of your would-be constituents.

Ain’t democracy grand?




  1. Ron Kitterman
    March 10, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    excellent post Dan, not only essentially but he stated in his quote to the Eagle that he would create a Chief of Staff position if elected. Hey why not keep violating the law and the city code. good for you Pete keep up the good work. We are at a time when instead of growing government, we should be making bold moves to reduce the size and scope of government. I would be in total support of knowing where the candidates stand on the PCB cleanup as well, Keep their feet to the fire on this issue for sure.

  2. PCP
    March 10, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    Dan, you left out the school department and its explosive expansion and no one in charge lives in Pittsfield. Too scared to live here, but they will take our money and leave. Do they really know the community and kids? The school committee is a bigger joke than the city council. Accountability, some should ask the superintendent how many students graduated from hs on administrative convenience to make the numbers look good. The mayor is on the school committee and has the ability to actually cut their budget.
    In the past most mayors never addressed the school department. To give Ruberto credit, he has used the schools to get himself elected.

    • danvalenti
      March 10, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

      In this dire fiscal time, the school committee has offered the schools almost $700,000 in salary increases (on taxpayers). The teachers are still crying “They’re cutting schools. The children! Oh, the children!” And yet, because people aren’t paying attention, all you’ll hear is more gibberish of the kind Mr. Marchetti has said in the past and even now, about schools being a sacred cow. Nope. Pittsfield needs a tough mayor and a taxpayer-friendly school board.

    • Joetaxpayer
      March 10, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

      Dan I would like to know if Pete would have the guts to close one elementary school since we have lost over 700 students the last 10 years and have added over 10 class rooms at that level.Would be a great chance to get all the eggheads out of the old Mercer school and move them into the school they choose to close.

  3. toto
    March 10, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    Remember, it was Marchetti who wanted to give the Museum 500g after it was downsized like a happy meal to 250g. That could be another lightning rod for mayoral hopefuls against Marchetti during debate. Have many more misques against many of the candidates. Heard Mike Ward had a tree removed on his property, residents getting the same treatment there over on {\}Whittier Ave.?

    • Mike Ward
      March 10, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

      Nope. Sorry. I’m not going to let that kind of creepy insinuation go unanswered from an anonymous poster on a blog. I’ve requested the removal of dozens of rotten trees on city property including the rotten tree that was on city property in front of my house. Am I any less of a taxpayer than my neighbors? Get your facts straight before you gossip.

      Just keep treating elected officials with contempt and the result will be that only contemptible people will run for office.

      • Tim Bartini
        March 11, 2011 at 6:29 am #

        Mike I agree with you 100%. Keep up the good work!

  4. toto
    March 10, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    Maybe I’m wrong, but Mr. Marchetti seems to know every answer to every question to Queen Ruffer and alike, that he asks this administration. Another political ploy is mentioning fire, police, and schools in the mickbeagle. You don’t think there will be cuts? Cops making over 100g? Maybe they need some oversight there as public works does.

  5. danvalenti
    March 10, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    Mr. Marchetti’s track record is for big government, spending public money stupidly, and squashing The Little Guy every time the GOB Network tells him to. Unless he shows a side of him he’s completely hidden in his years in a citywide position at large, a Marchetti mayorship will be disastrous for Pittsfield. It will finish the job Mayor Doyle started.

  6. toto
    March 10, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    Exactamundo Deacon! Obviously evident when Lee gave him the VP on the Council. March in step. hut hut hut hut..

  7. rick
    March 10, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

    pete said himself that hes in step with robertos vision, the only difference with him is the managing of city hall. and there is all the yes votes. so 2 more years of the same old stuff if he wins. i dont think with people leaving the area that we can afford a roberto minime. more people leave the more the tax payer has to pick up the slack…. the problem with some of these people is that once their in they forget who they work for… as krol said 2 weeks ago at the meeting in response to nichols who said these meetings are the peoples…krol dissagreed and said it was their meeting. now with that mind set do you think we are in good hands.???

  8. PCP
    March 10, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    CHICKENS,no insult to the birds. Why don’t any of the members of the school committee, city council, or state representatives defend themselves and their positions? OR, are they like the typical DEMOCRATS: RUN and HIDE!

    • Joetaxpayer
      March 10, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

      PCP, must agree with you.Dont understand why nobody has come out and stated the fact that we are at the brink finacial ruins.Keep spending on foolish things like magic pot hole fixer,toxic mosqito control and 15,000 dollar raises,time to wake up

  9. Jonathan Melle
    March 10, 2011 at 8:22 pm #

    Vote ALL of the bums OUT of Office! Vote OUT Pete Marchetti first! They’re all BUMS!

  10. Are We Dreaming?
    March 10, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    Another great post by The Planet!! We’re hooked.

  11. rick
    March 11, 2011 at 7:34 am #

    with the pcb issue looming its nice to see the reps in boston fence sitting, if they dont have the facts and figures after all these yrs and studies, then what have they been doing. its a huge issue and should have been ready for it….. all u political junkies want to see what the republican/tea parties all about….brown cant be found for comment. this party feels that pollution is ok as long as its moderated.

    • Joetaxpayer
      March 11, 2011 at 9:38 am #

      Majority of reps. in Boston are Democrates,sorry

  12. eric vincelette
    March 11, 2011 at 8:54 am #

    Ridiculous editorial today by the Eagle, ‘A City Job by any other Name’….First of all to criticize Councilor Mazzeo for doing her homework and being passionate about an issue is ridiculous. Towns and Cities need more councilors and selectmen and woman to be more passionate and actually do their homework BEFORE the meeting which Mrs. Mazzeo clearly does. Many Elected Town officials open their info packets 10 minutes before the meeting, UNACCEPTABLE! And the second ridiculous point was that Mrs. Mazzeo seemed “put out” that her other councilors felt differently than her. Didn’t 2 other Councilors agree with her? And isn’t it logical to be dismayed , if not outright ANGERED ,at a new position , with a pay increase , to be created 8 plus years into a soon to be outgoing administration, DURING A TIME OF DIRE FINANCIAL STRAIGHTS?

  13. PCP
    March 11, 2011 at 8:59 am #







  14. Simon Sez
    March 11, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    Quik comment on mayor’s new chief of staff post: unecessary and pure political payback Thank you Melissa Mazzeo (and Nicols, Sherman) for representing the gigantic majority of honest ordinary people/ Now id like to return to mr martindale’s original piece on PBCs .. the main point: “The river is sick, people are dying.” can’t wait to see if either nichols or marchetti answers dan’s challenge.

  15. danbeaut
    March 11, 2011 at 11:00 am #

    Fire station and layoffs in all departments might have to be closed and laid off. WE BROKE!

    • Joetaxpayer
      March 11, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

      Agree,but would like to see as much consoladation of buildings as possible to keep the lay-offs as small as possible. Lets get rid of some of are many buildings and properties and get them back on the tax rolls.

  16. rick
    March 11, 2011 at 11:38 am #

    we the people need to step up and take this city back..the nonsense thats going on is crazy. we cant let a mayor run loose , he/she has to be accountable monthly to a board. he/she has to have a monthly plan and get called on it.if u take a look at robertos promises… i dont think he hit one…….im sorry he did/with not laying off any teachers,now marchetti wants to pick up the baton and continue on. if u think the last eight years of tax increases hurt u, just open up ur bank accounts for this guy….but i must say he puts on one hell of a parade!

    • danvalenti
      March 11, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

      In any democratic process, even republicanism (note lower case “d” and “r”), participation of We The People is key. Once they drop out of the process, for whatever reason, the skunks take over.

      • rick
        March 11, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

        got that right dan, its begining to stink here

  17. danbeaut
    March 11, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    Barrett says he might stay a couple of weeks to train the new Commisioner. WILL IT EVER END? The streets need to be swept now, people can’t afford a flat tire from nails or screws, let alone potholes.

  18. GMHeller
    March 11, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    In Re: PCB’s, Dioxins, and other Chemical Toxins in Silver Lake, the Housatonic River, and the river flood plain.

    Isn’t the bottom line this: How many of your neighbors and friends died last year the result of these chemicals having a likely effect on the human body.
    How many will die this year?
    How many next.
    A corollary question: Do the fertile women and expectant mothers living in neighborhoods near Silver Lake aware of the real danger?

  19. GMHeller
    March 11, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    CORRECTION: Are the fertile women and expectant mothers living in neighborhoods near Silver Lake aware of the real danger?

  20. danbeaut
    March 11, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    @ Gm…. Mr. Martindale seems to have extensive knowledge of contamination problems around the G E site. It seems as though he could share all of his knowledge if we asked. But I think it is pretty pathetic that we have to ask someone other than the powers in charge, of this toxic wasteland and the effects on its surroundings.

    • danvalenti
      March 11, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

      Fair point. All through this long process, the “Powers” have been keeping their cards hidden.

      • GMHeller
        March 11, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

        With last Sunday’s death from rare brain Cancer of a long-time Berkshire Eagle employee who resided less than a half-mile from Silver Lake, it causes one to wonder whether The Eagle will now finally be taking a more aggressive stance regarding total remediation of Pittsfield’s ultra-toxic environment.

    • Dave Martindale
      March 13, 2011 at 8:27 pm #

      I am available anytime. I will do anything in my power to assist those that wish to work towards a thorough and meaningfull clean-up of the mess that GE has left behind.

  21. Baby Baby
    March 11, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

    Dan, you write “The villain in this tale is Peter Marchetti”. Just because he wasn’t at the previous meeting doesn’t mean other councilors couldn’t have changed their minds. Therefore, they are all villains.

    Then there is this “It’s whether they are good representatives, that is, resolute in standing up for The Little Guy, dealing effectively with the Special Interests (including saying “no” when “no” is the answer” Are you the person who decides what the right vote is?

    One more quote…”He has not shown voters, constituents, or The Planet perhaps the most important characteristic a political representative must have: independence.” Obviously he has shown the votres what they wanted to see, as he keeps getting reelected. Ask yourself if its you who are out of touch with the majority of voters.

    “Ain’t democracy grand?” On this we agree. Here is to Mr. Marchetti being our next mayor.

    • Joetaxpayer
      March 11, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

      If you read up further in the postings you would see that this issue was already addressed.Heres to Pete not becoming the next Mayor,we cannot afford his Roberto agenda.The fact that he is gay has no bearing on anything.If anyone should be offended it should be the senior citizens who were pigeoned holed as being bigots.(10% of them)

  22. rick
    March 11, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

    joe, i was going to let what he said about the elderly alone, im glad some one else said it. looks like hes already played the gay card. its going to be an interesting mayoral election.

  23. danbeaut
    March 11, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    Pretty clever to hone in on that 10% quip joetaxpayer! Marchetti did the same thing our Messiah (The Deacon) did, good catch.

  24. Voter for Marchetti
    March 12, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

    go back to stockbridge and stay there