Article

WHITE, WARD, KROL, NICHOLS, SHERMAN, & MAZZEO COME THROUGH FOR WE the PEOPLE on 3 CRITICAL Qs; LEE, MARCHETTI, YON, CAPITANIO, and LOTHROP “SHIT THE BED” ON SAME

BY DAN VALENTI

Today, we present the views of city councilors on the three “show stopping” questions that should, and will, if common sense and wise care have anything to do with it, become enormously important in municipal Campaign 2011.

To recap and as a continuation of the discussions initiated on and by The Planet, we polled each of the 11 city councilors in Pittsfield for their views on:

(1) PCB cleanup

(2) Hill 78

(3) $331 million in unfunded liabilities that taxpayers in Pittsfield must eventually pay

Our purpose was to get councilors on the record, to establish a benchmark of positions as we move forward this year. On behalf of constituents, taxpayers, residents, citiznes, and Little Guys — the Joe and Mary Jane Kapanskis of Pittsfield — the Planet won a majority. Six of the 11 councilors responded. We will not judge or comment on views. Our job today is merely to serve as a conduit of information on these three vital topics.

The Planet expresses profound thanks to councilors Peter White, Mike Ward, John Krol, Joe Nichols, Melissa Mazzeo, and Kevin Sherman. As you will read, they gave serious thought to our queries. Similarly, The Planet expresses profound contempt to Christine Yon, Paul Capitanio, Jonathan Lothrup, Gerry Lee, and Peter Marchetti for snubbing We The People. The recalcitrant five, to use the term of one of our posters, turned “coward” when asked to share their views. We know, because of the traction this website continues to gain every day, that this affect outcomes in November.

JOHN KROL, WARD 6

(1) Regarding PCBs and other toxins in the Housatonic River put there and throughout the city by GE, what do you advocate — removal, partial removal, or leave alone.

Not being a scientist, I have to rely on the feedback from the EPA, DEP, and our environmental community. With that said, doing nothing (low impact) through the entire Rest of River is not an option. If there are certain collection points with greater levels of PCBs we should address those areas aggressively. In lower level areas, we may have the opportunity to be more sensitive. We need to take a reasonable approach and, as others have wisely stated, be open to any and all new technologies that can address PCBs. In addition to funding the cleanup, we should challenge GE to provide research and dollars for these types of technologies that can be developed in Pittsfield, which can ultimately create new opportunities and jobs in an effort to address GE’s devastating environmental legacy in Pittsfield and beyond.

(2) Do you favor removal of Hill 78 from its present location and out of the city?

Hill 78 is one of the truly unfortunate results of the consent decree. However, I believe that the potential environmental hazards presented by moving the contaminated material far outweigh the risk of leaving Hill 78 where it is today. I am not a scientist, nor a physician, so I have to rely on the data that is provided by the EPA and regular reports of the Board of Health. As chairman of the Public Health & Safety Committee, I hope that you will attend or view the committee’s meeting on Monday, March 21, when Board of Health Chairman Dr. Phil Adamo will present the latest update on PCB testing at and around Hill 78.

(3) Do you think unfunded liabilities (currently $331 million facing city taxpayers) should be addressed immediately or not?

Asking whether unfunded liabilities “should be addressed immediately or not” is the wrong question. It is important to understand that many of us have our own “unfunded liabilities” in the form of a mortgage – owing significantly more money than what we own in assets. While you may see the statement that shows you owe hundreds of thousands of dollars (which you may not be able to pay off today), there is a set plan of paying that debt over the long term. So, in the city’s case, the right question is “What is the plan to address this over the long term?” To give the city credit, there have been some things done already to reduce the burden on taxpayers by asking employees and retirees to contribute more to the cost of health insurance throughout negotiations and the by entering the Group Insurance Commission. As you know, the skyrocketing cost of health insurance is one of the major challenges that contribute to the city’s long-term debt. While we’ve all heard quite a bit in the national dialogue focusing on cuts, cuts, cuts. I would warn against this mantra. Just like in the federal budget, there are cuts that can be made that are visible and symbolic but do not address the real issue. Short-term budget slashing of important services (for instance) will not make a dent in the long-range debt. Before taking knee-jerk actions to numbers like $331 million, I suggest putting it into perspective, hearing what the city has (or has not) done in recent years to address the issue, and examine what options we have. This is an excellent higher-level discussion particularly for the mayor’s campaign, as it will be the mayor who will need to understand these complexities to move forward with a budgetary plan that will ensure the city’s long-term sustainability.

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MIKE WARD, WARD 4

(1) Regarding PCBs and other toxins in the Housatonic River put there and throughout the city by GE, what do you advocate — removal, partial removal, or leave alone.

Technically there is no “full removal,” option so I advocate partial removal.  Even the most aggressive plans discussed (including some that would take decades to accomplish) constitute a partial removal.  The reason that bank stabilization (stones) was used in the first phase of the cleanup was to prevent the river from eroding, as rivers do, past the “clean zone” and releasing PCBs.  It is understood that PCBs still exist in the soil beyond a certain depth of clean fill.

My job as an elected official is to represent the opinion of the majority of my constituents, and this has proven difficult because no unified opinion has emerged on this subject, perhaps because it requires a huge investment of time to learn all the facets of this debate.  Perhaps this is the case because people have faith that the EPA will hold GE’s feet to the fire.

I’ve spent a lot of time on the subject, and I now know how much I don’t know.  Yes, I think a cleanup is necessary.  But what constitutes a “smart cleanup” for me?  I have plenty of opinions but not necessarily answers.  I saw a number of things in the 2008 CMS that I didn’t agree with.  For starters, I don’t believe in committing to a multi-decade plan that would prevent us from adopting new technologies as they become available.  I don’t believe in spending a ton of money to dredge the river and dump the mud in a newly created Hill 79.  In other words I don’t believe in simply moving the PCBs around Pittsfield like a shell game.  An acceptable plan, for me, must eliminate PCBs.  If we’re going to make the effort to dig up all that sediment I would rather see the PCBs removed and the sediment returned to the riverbed.  To me that makes much more sense than having a million truck trips through our community.  However, I am dubious about the thermal desorption treatment option because I don’t trust that it won’t poison the air.  So what does that leave for treatment options?  Maybe chemical extraction, or mechanical washing, or one of the newfangled methods of separating PCBs or rendering them inert.

(2) Do you favor removal of Hill 78 from its present location and out of the city?

Sure, I’d like to see Hill 78 gone, but that’s a lot like being in favor of the Pittsfield bypass.  That ship has sailed.  Some say that re-opening the consent decree is impossible and others claim that it’s as easy as opening a box of Cracker Jack.  I have no legal expertise to offer an opinion on that, but you might end up spending more money on lawyers than the remediation would cost.

While I wasn’t privy to the consent decree negotiations, I do think that letting GE get away with an unlined landfill (especially one with some particularly nasty stuff at the bottom) was a huge concession on our part for a $10 million dollar settlement.  Ecuador recently fined Chevron $8 billion (with a “B”) for polluting the Amazon.  Just an observation.

(3) Do you think unfunded liabilities (currently $331 million facing city taxpayers) should be addressed immediately or not?

Ultimately this is a question for Joe Nichols and Pete Marchetti because it’s a budget decision to be made by the corner office.  As mayor, you could fix the roads or you could pay down the debt.  Which do you think is more appealing to voters?  That’s right, the situation creates short-term leadership.  The sacrifices necessary to get us back on track would probably make anyone a one-term mayor.  So what’s the solution?  Perhaps an amendment to the city charter codifying a certain level of funding for long-term liabilities in our annual budget.

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PETE WHITE, WARD 2

1. Regarding PCBs and other toxins in the Housatonic River put there and throughout the city by GE, what do you advocate — removal, partial removal, or leave alone.

I think that the PCB cleanup of the Housatonic River should start at the beginning of the contaminated area and take a microhabitat approach. This microhabitat approach would take small sections of the river and use scientific knowledge to not destroy the habitat for the plants, birds and animals but still cleanup the worst areas. There are areas of the river that should be completely cleaned, but I don’t agree with destroying the entire river ecosystems. I also do not agree with the leave alone approach, I feel that something must be done.

The areas that are most contaminated should be cleaned to the fullest extent that the current methods will accomplish. So partial removal is what I would advocate for now, but I think a fund needs to be set up to address the PCBs that still remain. As technology advances this fund should be available to attempt full cleanup overtime and also to continue to cleanup Woods Pond where the PCBs seem to settle in higher concentration. At Woods Pond aggressive cleanup should be conducted once the microhabitat approach has been completed. Regular monitoring and cleanup when part per million levels rise to unacceptable levels should be written into any agreement before it is signed. We need to strike a balance between the potential health hazards and the ecosystem of the river. We also need to be careful that not all scientists will agree and that we need to listen to all sides before making final decisions.

The Housatonic River is special to me because I am a kayaker. I spend quite a bit of my free time on the Housatonic and I would hate to see the wildlife displaced by a full dredging. One weekend I counted between 150 to 200 turtles, countless birds, 8 beavers and other wildlife that call the banks of the Housatonic home. We need to think of them as well as humans in any cleanup plan.

2. Do you favor removal of Hill 78 from its present location and out of the city?

I encourage your readers to attend the next City Council Public Health and Safety subcommittee meeting this coming Monday at 7:30 pm. At this meeting Dr. Adamo will be giving a presentation on the status of Hill 78 and monitoring.

I do favor the full removal of Hill 78 and Building 71 from their present locations, to locations out of the City, however I do not think that is a realistic option at this time. We must always keep communication channels open if one day becomes an option. With that said I think that G.E. and the EPA are doing a great job of monitoring and reporting on the safety of Hill 78 and Building 71. Hill 78 is a capped PCB landfill that has safety measures in place that include ground water, air and leaching system monitoring. The Pittsfield Board of Health, the EPA and GE has representatives meet throughout the year to discuss ongoing monitoring. The reports that I have read have the monitoring within accepted levels. It is important that this monitoring remains in place and that the public has access to it.

I understand the uneasiness of the location of Hill 78 and Building 71, in regards to the school and neighborhood, but I am confident that the proper monitoring is in place. I am open minded to any ideas that present themselves for removal in the future, but for now I am confident in the monitoring that is taking place. Please remember that the Pittsfield Board of Health is an autonomous resource available to all citizens if they have further questions.

Here are some links that may give your readers more information. Allendale School property PCB air sampling results for 2010 is available at the EPA web site at:

http://www.epa.gov/region01/ge/thesite/allendale/reports/474451.pdf

Comparison of 2010 EPA and GE OPCA Replicate PCB Air Sampling Results is

available at the EPA web site at:

http://www.epa.gov/region01/ge/thesite/opca/reports/474452.pdf

GE’s 2010 PCB Air Sampling Results for the Hill 78/Building 71 OPCAs is

available at the EPA web site at:

http://www.epa.gov/region01/ge/thesite/opca/reports/474453.pdf

3. Do you think unfunded liabilities (currently $331 million facing city taxpayers) should be addressed immediately or not?

I do think that we need to address unfunded liabilities. This needs to be done through communication with the Massachusetts Municipal Association, the Berkshire Delegation, City Council, Mayor, Unions and other affected parties. I do not think that this is something that I as a City Councilor with solve in a response to the Planet, however I do want to thank you for making people aware of the issue. I hope that this will start community dialogue that will lead to an eventual plan. I think that during this economy we should be focused on reducing future unfunded liabilities, but I am not afraid to say that I do not have the answer to this but will participate in the dialogue that will hopefully find a solution.

http://www.epa.gov/region0

1/ge/thesite/allendale/rep

orts/474451.pdf

www.epa.gov

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JOE NICHOLS, WARD 7

(1) Regarding PCBs and other toxins in the Housatonic River put there and throughout the city by GE, what do you advocate — removal, partial removal, or leave alone.

I believe the PCBs should be removed from the river and everywhere else in Pittsfield at GE’s expense, not the taxpayers’ expense.

(2) Do you favor removal of Hill 78 from its present location and out of the city?

Hill 78 should be moved by GE away from Pittsfield. Until it is, the school should be closed with the children moved to a safer location.  Why have they not moved the children already?  This is unforgivable.

(3) Do you think unfunded liabilities (currently $331 million facing city taxpayers) should be addressed immediately or not?

I will address the unfunded liability as mayor.  Unfunded pensions no longer exist for the private sector, and they should not exist at all as they are unsustainable.  We need to put a halt on them. [One solution is to] grandfather those who have them but stop taking on anymore so that the liability begins decreasing from that point forward.  Certain measures must be taken to begin from scratch with our public work force and the negotiations, which take place in a completely irresponsible manner.  What were they thinking?

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KEVIN SHERMAN, AT LARGE

(1) Regarding PCBs and other toxins in the Housatonic River put there and throughout the city by GE, what do you advocate — removal, partial removal, or leave alone.

First, I stand by my position following the previous Corrective Measures Study in 2007/2008. I do not support any plan that includes so-called “upland storage facilities.” I made this clear at that time when Councilor Ward and I filed a petition asking our colleagues to go on record against that plan.  The petition passed unanimously.  If any dredging is to be done, it is not acceptable for any removed toxic sediment to placed on Pittsfield’s soil or any soil of our neighboring communities.  I’m told there are areas of the country that hold large reservoirs of the waste, and that’s where it needs to go.  By truck, by rail, by hook, or by crook.  It’s got to go.

My preference would be to begin the removal of highly concentrated areas while concurrently establishing the PCB Remediation Facility at the William Stanely Business Park.  This R and D facility could use the Housatonic River as a living classroom to develop more scientific methods of destroying the toxins.  GE would provide the funds, the EPA and scientists would provide the knowledge, and the City of Pittsfield would provide the labor.  How we get this to happen is a larger question, but this would be my ideal preference.

(2) Do you favor removal of Hill 78 from its present location and out of the city?

I favor the removal provided we have assurances that the moving of the sediment would not spread the toxins and there is a specified, appropriate location outside of Berkshire County to which the sediment can be transported. I know Dr. Adamo and the Board of Health have gone to great lengths to monitor the levels and that the school and parents have been communicated with at regular intervals by the Board and the EPA.  However, that in and of itself does not excuse the fact that if the Hill sediment can be moved, it should [be moved].  Another issue other than the proximity of the school is the neighborhood in general.  Having lived on California Avenue, I know that the PCB issue can be prevalent when buying and selling a home.  Removing the large shadow of the “Hill” would go a long way in eradicating concerns or questions.

(3) Do you think unfunded liabilities (currently $331 million facing city taxpayers) should be addressed immediately or not?

If by “address immediately” you mean the $331 million be raised and put in a reserve account today, my answer is no, and I don’t see that as a reality.  What I see are future payments for obligations made through prior negotiation and bargaining.  As Tim Bartini noted on the pages of The Planet, one’s mortgage could be considered an unfunded liability, as could other items such as automobile loans.  The bills are not coming due today, but you understand what obligations you have in the future and you adjust accordingly.  When non-cash items are negotiated in the future, the estimated cost must be considered.  The council has no say in negotiations, but it’s my hope that whoever is in the room, on both sides, carries a reasonableness that is necessary not to turn over blank checks.

Thanks for the questions.  Positions and ideas are arbitrary without the ability to respectfully communicate and cooperate with many interested parties.  I regret that I don’t have a magic arrow in my quiver as I sit here on Saturday night watching a “Band of Brothers” marathon, but I do recognize the enormity of the issues you’ve presented and hope to be part of the solutions going forward.

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MELISSA MAZZEO, AT-LARGE

1. Regarding PCBs and other toxins in the Housatonic River put there and throughout the city by GE, what do you advocate — removal, partial removal, or leave alone.

I will support the full removal of all PCBs from the Housatonic River. I have read many articles and letters from people far more knowledgeable than me and they clearly say that only full removal of the toxins in the river will save it. In addition, I have had a hard time believing the data given by those who did the polluting and are now responsible for the cleanup. We have seen the removal done on other parts of the river, so just keep going and stop wasting time.

(2) Do you favor removal of Hill 78 from its present location and out of the city?

I have never been comfortable with Hill 78. I think there was a huge disservice to the citizens of Pittsfield when all these decisions were made between GE and City/State Officials.  More should have been done to better involve the residents of Pittsfield to weigh in on the issues of the Hill or the consent decree for that matter. The proximity to the school is mind-boggling, and as a parent, I would have concerns if my child had to attend this School. The notion that because it is capped and no toxins are floating around is absurd. The hill is not lined, and we all know that leaching will happen if it hasn’t already. This hill can be removed just as it was put in place, truckload by truckload. Extreme caution needs to be used when they uncover the hill and start the removal. Allendale School should be closed during this process. There are unused school buildings that could house students temporarily during the removal.  And, let’s not forget during the elementary school renovations of the 90s and early 2000s, we did place our kids in unused or under-used schools.

(3) Do you think unfunded liabilities (currently $331 million facing city taxpayers) should be addressed immediately or not?

Dan, you have written a lot about Unfunded Liabilities on your website over the last few weeks and posted links to some good articles to help support your concern about this issue. You now want members of the council to explain what they would do to help resolve this crisis. The hard part here is that after reading all of these articles and looking at the data collected from all over the country (this is not a Pittsfield only problem, unlike the PCBs, and if anything is what could potentially bring down the Federal government) even the so-called experts do not have the answers as to how to fix this problem. They point out that this is a “kick the can down the road” and “let the next group of elected officials” deal with it problem that time is catching up to. If I’m correct in reading some of the data, we may only have 10-20 years left before we run out of money to pay for these liabilities.  I am in no position to solely fix this problem, but what I do suggest is that we form a task force ASAP to look at the following:

1. What do we owe right now in unfunded Liabilities (the real numbers for the city and what do those numbers represent)?

2. What monies have we been putting aside to pay for them (we obviously know that our problem isn’t that we haven’t put aside enough)?

3. When will we run out of money if nothing changes right now?

4. How do we stop adding to the problem now, while we work on fixing what we have already done?

5. What is the state of muni bonds right now for short-term and long-term debt?

6. What are our options if we are not able to pay when due…declare bankruptcy? government bailouts?

7. Discussions with the public as to the problem and what it will take to fix it…higher taxes, cuts in services, etc.

8. Bring in outside help to facilitate public discussions and the task force to keep us completely aware of any new options that other municipalities may be using.

Dan, in no way do I mean to sound like I’m skirting the question, but until you began bringing this issue to my attention, I hadn’t done enough research and I am now doing that.  The only way I see to gain knowledge and get insight into this is to start right away with a group of elected officials, financial advisors, union members, the business community, retired pensioners and tax-paying residents who ALL have a stake in how we clean up this mess that maybe we didn’t create, but it falls on us to rectify.  I’m sure I will be sharing more as the campaign season takes off but hope this helps in the meantime.

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53 Responses to “WHITE, WARD, KROL, NICHOLS, SHERMAN, & MAZZEO COME THROUGH FOR WE the PEOPLE on 3 CRITICAL Qs; LEE, MARCHETTI, YON, CAPITANIO, and LOTHROP “SHIT THE BED” ON SAME”

  1. Ed
    March 18, 2011 at 11:38 am #

    Dan: Be gentle and kind toward the fecal fivesome. In their defense and mitigation, our illustrious mayor remains on another self entitled sabbatical in Florida. Perhaps the puppet strings aren’t quite that long and they just weren’t able to respond all alone without the usual coaching.

    • danvalenti
      March 18, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

      Yes, great point, Ed. The five who didn’t respond are the five who take orders from the GOB network. The six who responded showed their independence. Lee, as so-called council “president,” have proven himself unfit for that job. He’s little more than a cardboard cutout at this point. As president, he has a responsibility to lead. He is leading, all right: leading the city into oblivion, unless voters clean house.

  2. Jeff Ferrin
    March 18, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    Dan

    I like the fact that those councilors that did respond were able to shed light on the fact that regardless of what the questions you posed were are in no way easy fixes and will require some very hard work on any elected body who cares to address them. I place a challenge to my councilor and Ward 3 apponent Mr. Capitanio to respond as I have, to the very same questions.Although my responses were not mentioned, I feel as a true candidate I had a responsibility to address a concern that was brought before those of us running for office.Regardless of Ward Councilor, At Large Councilor or mayor we must face these issues head on. Delay is no longer an option anymore. Delay is what got us where we are today.

    I, like all the councilors who responded did not have a true definative answer as to how to make those changes. You wrote as they responded of the different perspectives and approaches that are all viable. But the fact that it creates open honest dialogue which is the first step in addressing issues we try not to face is a step in the right direction.
    So I commend you for the research and dilegence you have done in keeping us all on our toes and in a small way forcing us not only as candidates or incumbents,but as residence, to take a real look at what we have to face. It is not just budgetary, jobs, Peda, and other issues we need to deal with.It is also our surroundings and environment. One that we are leaving to our children.

    Like I have said the next sitting elected body will have some true and at times terrifying decisions to make and “WE MUST” educate ourselves and our constituents of the overall picture and allow them to have an educated input into what is decided for everyones future. After all it is their city as well.

    • danvalenti
      March 18, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

      JEFF
      I did not post yours, since this was the time and space for the presently seated councilors. I will be posting your response on a future post, soon. As I told you privately, you showed tremendous instincts in jumping on this as a declared candidate for office (Ward 3, as you say). Mr. Capitanio had every opportunity to respond and chose not to. That is a fact. The losers, once again, are the good people of Pittsfield, Ward 3 in this case, who were flicked off as a “nuisance” by the present office holder. This is the sort of B.S. that’s going to stop in Pittsfield.

      • Jeff Ferrin
        March 19, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

        Thank’s for the reply Dan. I understood why you did not publish my responses. I like the fact that a true challenge on real issues was presented to the sitting council and that those I expected to answer did. I was only saying I am disappointed that My own councilor did not respond. Especially since so much of the contamonation sits in Ward 3. I will make it clear hear as I did on the Sturgeon show that I will not talk about Paul in any negative light as a man or in any wa,y his personal life. They are off limits. I will however attack the issues and the votes of which I have a record. Votes that have negativley impacted this city. I will make it a point to show that Ward 3 has not had a voice or been well represented as they should be. I will make it a point to show that all votes regardless of being a ward councilor or councilor at large is that those votes effect the city as a whole. I will run a clean campaign and expect the same

      • Chris Connell
        March 20, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

        Dan,

        I assumed that you were asking for ALL candiates for office responses; thats why i submitted answers to your questions. I do have more input I could give you in regards to the three issues. Considering the fact that I am running for ward 4, I am especially concerned about the proposed Housatonic river project because the next phase starts at Fred Garner Park which is in the middle of ward 4. I would like to talk to you in person. Give me a call.

        Thanks

        • danvalenti
          March 20, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

          CHRIS
          I’d be glad to take your responses to the three questions. My first poll was for those now in office, who now hold the power, and who are positioned to do something about these three critical matters. Glad to see they concern you as well.

          • Chris Connell
            March 21, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

            Dan,

            My position on the items you requested responses for are as follows:

            PCB removal: I feel that GE should be totally responsible for the COMPLETE removal of PCBs from all of Berkshire county. I believe the best way to tackle this situation is for all of the affected towns to band together (power in numbers) and look into loopholes in the consent decree. One loophole to investigate is the absence of mention of ground water testing as opposed to surface water. Does this represent an opportunity to test all wells and if found positive, do we then take legal action against GE ? As far as the clean-up of the Housatonic; after reviewing information regarding the Genesis Fluid Solution, I feel it’s process as presented, offers the best solution with much less impact to the evvironment as any other solution that has been proposed.

            Hill 78: This situation is a disgrace. I can’t believe that the city has allowed a superfund site to exist in the city next to a school for this long. I feel whatever legal recourse available should be used to remediate this site at GE’s expense. Again, you need to have a smart group of lawyers to find loopholes in the decree.

            Unfunded Liabilities: I have always believed in Joe Nichol’s solution in that we should grandfather in the current employees due to the promises that were made I assume when they were hired .However, going forward, all new hires be brought into a new system similar to the private sector.(i.e. retirement plan similar to a 401k, and setting a retirement age closer to 65 or 67)
            Another solution would be to cut down on the number of muncipal employees by (where feasible) sub-contracting out some duties performed whereby the expense is direct and without future expense liabilities .

            Thanks and have a good day

          • danvalenti
            March 21, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

            CHRIS
            Many thanks for going on the record. Along with the seven councilors who responded and Mr. Ferrin, a candidate in Ward 3, the Planet tips our cap for stepping up for We The People. That’s what this exercise is all about. It’s not about The Planet, Jeff Ferrin, Chris Connell, Gerry Lee, or the Caledonian Moon. It’s about getting the city of Pittsfield healthy.

  3. joetaxpayer
    March 18, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    Melesia should close school already have too many elementary schools.AS you stated we added class rooms in 5 of are elementary schools in late 90 early 2000.Since tha time we have had enrollment decliine 700 students.Would be a help to try to balance the budget.

  4. PCP
    March 18, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    Generally,the answers to the unfunded liability seemed about the best of the three questions. Would one of those respondents be able to produce an annual time line with associated costs? Councilors, thank you.

  5. Fan Dan Go
    March 18, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    This is a treeeeemendous service you have provided, Dan. You have singlehandely done more to raise consciousness on three 3 issues and others than all the other local media combined. People are paying attention to this website. Office holders and candidates had better realize that. Cyberspace has finally caught up with Pittsfield. You proved that last Noveember when M Miller nearly up set that pantload Speranzo. People better play ball with The Planet or take the medicine.

  6. GMHeller
    March 18, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

    The beast in this room — and throughout Pittsfield;
    The beast which Mr. Valenti said earlier he would certainly include in his questioning of politicos but unfortunately has not;
    And which beast far overshadows even the formidable Hill 78;
    That beast is Silver Lake.
    Not to ask these pols specifically to address Silver Lake is to leave unanswered the biggest, most poisonous question in the city.

    • danvalenti
      March 18, 2011 at 6:31 pm #

      My article in this week’s GAZETTE addressed The Beast. Patience, my friend. I shall be asking of The Beast.

  7. rick
    March 18, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

    looks like the rest pulled a speranzo, out of all of them i think only one can make it back ignoring the people, but those days are shortening with politics changing every year and as the good old boys die off. too many important issues today and too many people thinking independently. the eagle should have some nice soft questions for you next week.

  8. PITTSFIELD BELIEVER
    March 18, 2011 at 6:55 pm #

    The menace plaguing Pittsfield now is this site, the planet, and Valenti. I “get’ him. He’s a little guy. Napolean complex. I have follwoed his work a long time. It’s Fascist. Totalitarian. Dictator. He’s a neo Mussolini and Hitler. He dictates. He’s a menace. He’s dangerous. He has his hands on more of Pittsfield politics than anyone knows and the “evil” he decries is much of his own doing. You ask Mayor Ruberto about Dan Valenti. He won’t tell you. Valenti’s got him.

    • joetaxpayer
      March 19, 2011 at 6:39 am #

      The fact that you dislike dan is erelevant.Believe it or not there are people who woulld like some change in Pittsfields same old same you know that’s the way we always do it atitude.CAnnot afford to increase budget with shrinking tax base and population.Does that me I am not a Pittsfield BELIEVER.

  9. Marchetti Supporter
    March 18, 2011 at 10:04 pm #

    I am new to this site. I am tropubled at the bias of Mr. Valenti. He is a menace. Mr. Marchetti wants only for the good, Dan Valenti is scary. He is controlling jim RUberto. He got Ruberto to give it up. I know this is true. Valenti is the most troubling aspect of recent develmopments. Th9is is awful.

    • Nichols for mayor
      March 19, 2011 at 8:31 am #

      @Marchetti Supporter,

      First of all, best of luck to your candidate. I am looking forward to spirted debates.

      But you are crazy if you think that Mr. Valenti is “controlling” Jim Ruberto or was even an inkling of a consideration in not running for mayor.

      I’m not a Ruberto fan, but he is not a man easily swayed, and certrainly not by some some blog (either this one or the Gazette, which is just a blog masquerding as news)

  10. Dusty
    March 19, 2011 at 2:53 am #

    looks like the GOB is pulling out their PR people to start their slash and burn dirty politics

  11. rick
    March 19, 2011 at 3:22 am #

    lol, thats marchettis campaign mgr.

  12. rick
    March 19, 2011 at 4:25 am #

    pitts believer, time to wake up and smell the change in the air, a site like this was needed 20yrs ago, you have been fed fluff by the eagle for too long.. if you like the way things are going, good for u .others want to see a change , good for us, free world… if the outcry this election is anything like the last we will see a big change……one pittsfield is petes theme for his run,( hey pete, this isnt a parade you dont have to put themes on things, like its a float.). but hasnt it always been pittsfield first for u…. or do your votes ring true like pam said…..wich ever way the wind blows so does pete.

  13. toto
    March 19, 2011 at 6:08 am #

    I think your all goofy!

    • Nichols for mayor
      March 19, 2011 at 8:32 am #

      1st, it’s “you are” (just a pet peeve, sorry).

      2nd, you are totally right!

  14. RandyB
    March 19, 2011 at 8:12 am #

    Anyone who calls Dan Valenti a “menace” needs to look up its definition in a dictionary. Addiitionally, for anyone to think Dan pushed Ruberto to not run again is just plain ridiculous. Did you ever stop to think that perhaps the truths that have been coming out, the fact he may no longer have a rubbert stamp city council, and that he may have a politically lined up job led to the mayor’s decision not to run? If you are concerned about menaces, how about gettig involved in real menaces: Hill 78, PCBs, and gov’t corruption.

    • Nichols for mayor
      March 19, 2011 at 8:38 am #

      This is getting silly. Again, I’m not a Ruberto fan, but his decision not to run has nothing to do with a “rubber stamp city council”.

      The man is at retirement age, has served 8 years, hasn’t had time yet to properly grieve the loss of his wife, and simply doesn’t need to work. (Really? You think he’s got a “politically lined up job? You are just making stuff up to be mean spirited.)

      Stop being petty. I never voted for Ruberto, and wouldn’t vote for him if he ran again, but only because I don’t agree with his vision and process. He’s a good man with good intentions, and would be able to work with any council.

      Is it his fault that the majority of Pittsfield voters agree with his vision and process? And be extension, is it his fault that the majority of Pittsfield voters prefer city councilors to support their decision in a mayor?

      • joetaxpayer
        March 19, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

        Fact the man wonn by the skin of his teeth and he realized he had know chance

        • joetaxpayer
          March 19, 2011 at 6:11 pm #

          Wish hr would run so we could vote him out

      • RandyB
        March 20, 2011 at 7:02 am #

        Nichols for mayor,
        Please allow me to expand on my thoughts regarding Mr. Ruberto so that you understand them better. He has had pretty much a free reign during his 8 years as mayor (hence the term “rubber stamp city council”). It has only been during the last term or so that he has begun to face opposition and scrutiny on his “vision”. It has become readily apparent that all this scrutiny and criticism has had an affect on him – one only need to watch his unwarranted reaction to Councilor Mazzeo’s valid questions during the last council meeting to realize this. It is also becoming apparent that come November there will be more change on the City Council and alot of these “rubber stamps” will no longer be there. I think he is seeing this tough road ahead and decided to get out while the going was still good.
        As far as retimement age is concerned, there is no retirement age for politicians – they often serve well into their 70′s and even 80′s so I do not buy into that. Additionally, 8 years is really not that long to serve as mayor, with John Barrett being a good example.
        In regards to my list of other possiblities for him not running, please notice that I used the word “perhaps” which means “possibly” or “maybe” therefore are not statements of fact but are actually food for thought.
        The only thing I find petty about these emails is the fact that you obviously did not read mine thoroughly before using the terms “petty” and “mean spirited” which degrades a spirted debate into the realm of name calling.

    • Dusty
      March 19, 2011 at 8:41 am #

      I don’t think the “truths coming out” affected Rubertos decision because I don’ think he gives a rats sphincter what the people think of him or his self serving method of governing.

  15. rick
    March 19, 2011 at 10:45 am #

    politics ia a dirty buisness, heres a scenario, with the last election being so close, the powers that be see him(roberto) as a liability in this election and most likely to loose the corner office to bianchi. they cant have that so they offer him peda as a consolation prize…. now marchetti, a viable candidate, he has been on the council for years , italian and believes in the set path for their city. marchetti needs the votes from 3 wards to win, like roberto did, so he tells people he has the vision of roberto,and i think that would get him their votes.

  16. PCP
    March 19, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    The 331 million dollars is 16. 5 million for each of the next 20 years or 8.25 million for the next 40 years. Add into this the sewer, water, and road infrastructure improvements needed (minus the magic pothole machine) x 10s of millions. We are in deep fecal trouble. We must also address the unfunded mandates by the state and federal governments in education. This is not good, councilors and taxpayers!

  17. dusty
    March 19, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    whadda bout the visionary $200 million school Ruberto wants named after him? whadda about the replacement building for the public works dept? etc etc

    • joetaxpayer
      March 19, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

      One of the things a did agree with roberto was one great high school instead of two good ones.

  18. toto
    March 19, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    Dan, Lothrop is like a man on an island, all alone. He is a stae paysquawker who supported the GIC, his downfall. He tried to carry water also, for the mayor. But when it backfired and everyone is off the thinkers’ bus. Now why or where you decided to join the Pete White bandwagon is beyond comprehension. Listen to him speak, please. He speaks double talk and makes a fool out of himself, as shown on THE BILL STURGEON SHOW FRIDAY. THE SURGEON STURGEON, ATE HIM UP AND PAM MALUMPHY CALLED IN SPIT HIM OUT.

  19. Jeff Ferrin
    March 19, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    Ron

    I am not sure I understand your question. Please rephrase and I would be happy to answer. My responses are different than the others, but yet similar in the fact that none of the questions posed will be easy fixes and will have many angles and require much input to resolve. I look forward to the challenges ahead and do understand they will be tough choices. I look forward to debates and talking with everyone. I enjoyed my call in last week while councilor White was on and he as I told him that night should have been able to answer my questions on air. To say I will discuss it over codffe seems to be how so many deicisions are being made. Those questions I asked should have been very easy to answer and able to be answered on air. When we debate do we do it over coffe and hope the public does not find out about it..NO we do it in the public’s eye so they know how we will respond so that they are informed.

    I look forward to talking with anyone who has a question or an issue. I said in 2009 and believe still that complte openness and transparency is crucial to getting back the very much needed trust of our residence.

    Dan stated he would publish my responses soon. I was not asked and rightfully so as they were questions posed to the sitting councilors. I took it upon myself to respond since these will be topics of the debate season as well as ones we will have to address.

    Sorry my short answer is long.

  20. rick
    March 20, 2011 at 8:34 am #

    questions are now being asked, and were finding out that the people we ask the questions to dont have the answers. the councilors who didnt reply are proof positive. the last city council meeting should have seald any doubt. the amount of i dont knows to mazzeos questions are mind boggling, and this from the top incharge. the best from city solicitor i think was in answer to the failed firsy reading was its “confusing”, yet still gave his ok to preceed. the next was you can break all the rules but you cant goe against the charter . on that one i saw mazzeos head spin around twice . now if u wonder why the rest didnt reply, they are on the same page as the solicitor( confused but lets go ahead anyway). if we dont aked questions this time around we are going to be f@#%ed if were not already!!!

  21. jon dough
    March 20, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

    Are you talking about yourself in the third person?

  22. jon dough
    March 20, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    Why did you delete the post below? Were you pretending to be someone else and forgot to change your handle?

    If so, you’re no better that everyone else you talk about.

    COMMENT DELETED

    • danvalenti
      March 21, 2011 at 6:34 am #

      JON DOUGH
      First, I find it interesting for you to be questioning this, when you are so afraid to use our real name. That post was taken down because someone posted using my name. I only post with my name, and everything I post carries my byline. It’s that simple. The one thing I won’t tolerate on this site is a degeneration of the comments feature the way it happened to the Eagle. I would ask all to respect this simple guideline. Slam the ideas on this site. Slam me if you wish. But (this isn’t at you, Jon, but at the fake “dan valenti”) don’t take license. Take liberty? yes. Not license.

      • jon dough
        March 21, 2011 at 9:28 am #

        Dan,

        I didn’t use my real name because I’ve seen how vicious you can be towards people who have done nothing to you, let alone someone who is calling you out on the carpet for something.

        When I first read your post I thought you were just confused, then I realized you meant to post under some other name.It makes me wonder how many people posting on this site are really you.

        You can say it wasn’t you, but I have a hard time believing someone made up a whole post defending you,then faked your name. By the way, if it was a fake, it was pretty good as it had the same orange signature as yours that hyperlinked back to the planet website.

        I’m reposting it below, and if you’re all for truth as you purport, then let it stand and let the people decide. I’ve actually always respected you, so I find this disturbing.

        • danvalenti
          March 21, 2011 at 10:07 am #

          JON
          1. OK, I understand. Few people use their own names, so that can’t be held against you.
          2. I AM confused … by this response and your inability to accept my explanation.
          3. You asked me. I told you. I WILL NOT post something from someone who’s claiming to be me, for whatever reason they have. I won’t have that kind of stuff. When I post, use my own name and sign my own thoughts. It’s as simple as that.
          4. I would ask you not to repost.
          Thanks.

          • jon dough
            March 21, 2011 at 10:11 am #

            So be it.

            I can only say that it read like classic “Dan Valenti” and did have your signature that linked back to your site.

            Certainly anything can be faked on the internet, and I’ll have to take your word for it.

            If I am wrong, you have my apology, only you know for certain.

            I will now let it drop.

          • danvalenti
            March 21, 2011 at 10:37 am #

            JON
            Thank you. That is an honorable response. You are an honorable man.
            I try my best to keep everything on this site on the level. I understand why someone would want to post under a name other than his or her own, but when I post something, it’s under my name.
            Again, many thanks.

  23. ambrose bearse
    March 20, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

    please tell me – why in the hell should they report to you? a self appointed busy body. you’ve got a fired fire chief who served the town for 50 years just down the road from you and you ignore it The BB at least asked some ? – if this were a pittsfield firefighter youl’d be all over somebody – dan, you love deriding Uncle Gerry, but you’ld give anything to be 6’3″. you’re “The Littlel Guy” and always will be. Next up to defend you – Liz Arrington – to call you facinating ’cause you look like jesus. i heard her father owned a couple of dairy queens in the ’60s

    • danvalenti
      March 21, 2011 at 6:40 am #

      AMBROSE
      1. Who is “they” in your first question. Be clear. That’s what I tell my students.
      2. I do not comment on or cover Stockbridge politics
      3. Why do you bring up size? Take on MY IDEAS instead? That I could respect.

      • ambrose bearse
        March 21, 2011 at 4:39 pm #

        1. Sorry, “THEY” are every pol that you try to put on the spot. Who are you that they (the city councilors) should have to answer to. I love Mazzeo and Nichols (though I wish he’d stay in his ward as he’ll NEVER be mayor), but they lessen themselves by acknowleging you.
        2. Why not? You certainly scolded the BB for nor jumping on a fatal in New Marlborough. Yet you didn’t report the coverage of a head on that involved a Pittsfield school administrator. You see what you want to see.You certainly spend many inches covering unruly children in the RLI. Unruly chidren are as big a pain in Burger King as they are in the sanctified halls of the RLI. Dick George puts up with it, why can’t Nancy?
        3. I guess I got the size thing from reading this what ever you call it and the Gaz. I remember “Cufflinks” Did his cufflinks have something to do with his council performance. Then there was Rudolph, refering to someones nose, I forget which councilor. It had nothing to do with his service on the council.

        • danvalenti
          March 21, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

          @AB
          1. “They” should respond to me as they would to any member of the media. As public figures, they have the responsibility.
          2. Let me educate you. At a sight like this, I set the agenda and cover what I decide to cover. My interest is not in breaking news per se but covering stories and topics the local mainstream media is afraid to touch.
          3. You confirm my original point: You can’t take on my ideas! Admit it. You’re outmatched.

  24. Christine Yon
    March 20, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

    1. Regarding PCBs and other toxins in the Housatonic River put there and throughout the city by GE, what do you advocate- removal, partial removal, or leave alone.

    I’m not a scientist or a member of the EPA or DEP. I am a Ward Councilor. I’m not dismissing the importance of the PCB clean-up in the river, but would rather leave the scientific procedures, plans and practices to those educated in this field. My common sense answer would be, to aggressively remove the pockets of higher level PCBs where needed, and be more conservative in areas with trace amounts of PCBs, preserving the natural environment of the river as much as possible.

    2. Do you favor removal of Hill 78 from its present location and out of the city?

    The obvious answer is yes, remove it and take it far away, but the complicated question is how? Creating a hazardous waste site in a residential neighborhood adjacent to an elementary school playground is beyond comprehension. During a meeting at Allendale School, a few years back, we were informed the consent decree is “iron clad”. Waging a fight against GE’s four floors of corporate lawyers in Fairfield CT to remove Hill 78 is a monumental task which could take a lifetime and a fortune and could prove to be futile.
    My question is: “Is there an Erin Brockovich out there that would be willing to take this one on?”

    3. Do you think unfunded liabilities (currently $331 million facing city taxpayers) should be addressed immediately or not?

    Absolutely, unfunded liabilities need to be addressed. Is Social Security the answer; one retirement system for everyone, municipal and private sector? The current municipal pension system was created for an era that no longer exists. As we move forward, we need to rethink the entire process. We need to reduce future unfunded liabilities as we work at paying down the current ones.

    • danvalenti
      March 21, 2011 at 6:37 am #

      THE PLANET thanks Christine Yon for this response.

  25. toto
    March 21, 2011 at 7:42 am #

    The beagle is taking credit as first in on the new hirees. Lothrop needs to shaddup, when it comes to questions. Remember you wanted the initial vote to count, that night…remember?

  26. danvalenti
    March 21, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    TOTO
    If they are, they are, once again, in error.
    The Planet had it before them (and I think iBerkshires and The Pitts Gazette before us).

  27. toto
    March 22, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    Agreed, Deacon. Lothrop still needs to go. Even Gilligan had an idea.