THE PCB ISSUE, EXPLAINED AS CLEARLY AS IT GETS, plus, PITTSFIELD CITY COUNCIL SLAPS RESIDENTS IN THE FACE, & PETER MARCHETTI, THE HOT SEAT’s CALLING
BY DAN VALENTI
‘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. http://www.lightparty.com/Economic/MonsantoDioxinFraud.html http://www.foxriverwatch.com/dioxins_pcb_pcbs_1.html
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
(b) Managerially, or
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 firstname.lastname@example.org (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?
THUS, PINEAPPLES BID US LEAVE, WITH SMOOTHIES IN OUR FUTURE. LOVE TO ALL.