Article

YON MAKES IT 7-4; PRESSURE BUILDS ON CAPPY AND MARCHETTI, plus FERRIN SHOWS A KILLER INSTINCT

BY DAN VALENTI

In a corrected score to our recent poll of city councilors on three of the most important questions facing the city (PCBs and industrial toxins, Hill 78, and unfunded liabilities), The Planet stands at 7-4 as Ward 1 councilor Christine Yon posted the following on our website:

03/20 at 5:29 pm

CHRISTINE YON, WARD 1

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 cleanup in the river, but I 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.

Pressure Continues to Build on Capitanio, Marchetti

The Planet thanks councilor Yon. We were surprised when she didn’t respond to our initial poll, and it turned out to be nothing more than a miscommunication, the details of which are not germane to this entry. The Planet has had a productive relationship with the Ward 1 councilor, and we thank her for once again answering the call.

Councilor Yon joins councilors White, Ward, Krol, Nichols, Mazzeo, and Sherman in the responsive and responsible ranks. Still refusing to reply to our questions and thereby insulting We The People are councilors Capitanio, Lothrop Marchetti, and Lee. Councilor Lee gets a “skate” since he’s a lame duck, as is Mr. Lothrop (only he doesn’t know it).

For Peter Marchetti and Paul Capitanio — Marchetti especially — it’s a different story. The pressures on them are increasing. Assuming they will be running for office this campaign season, they cannot continue to avoid The Planet in open inquiry.

Capitanio has whiffed on two challenges: The Planet’s and the call of candidate Jeff Ferrin for a response. Capitanio will face an aggressive challenge in Ward 3 from city activist and former DPW employee Ferrin, who is prepared to run hard. Ferrin, by virtue of his former employment and his current involvement in public life, represents a formidable obstacle for Capitanio in Ward 3 re-election.

Marchetti: Facing a Career-Defining Choice

For Marchetti, continued avoidance of The Planet will become more marked as the campaign season gains traction, due mainly to the nature of the office he is seeking. Running for mayor will be different than any other campaign in which he’s been involved. This is Pittsfield’s signature office. He will be forced into an area in which he’s not comfortable — debates.

Moreover, he won’t have the comfort of a large field of “at large” candidates to provide cover. We remember moderating “at-large” debates with 10 candidates. Even with five, there’s plenty of time for a candidate to hide. Once you get to more than three or four, individual candidates are required to do little more than spew boilerplate. Marchetti’s waffling nature is perfect for that type of format, wherein he can say nothing while appearing to say as much as his opponents. One on one, if he should survive September prelim, will put him front and center. He’s never been asked to perform under those circumstances.

The longer he continues to run away from The Planet’s inquiries (which will only increase in intensity as we head toward September) the more unbearable it will become for him and his campaign. Gerry Doyle ignored The Planet. Sara Hathaway ignored The Planet. Both lost the corner office. To his credit, Jimmy Ruberto never ignored us. He’s chewed us out. He’s dished back three for every two we gave, but that’s the point: he engaged us in ideas.

Back then, especially the Doyle and Hathaway years, we had a daily radio show. Now, we have a daily website that’s as popular (and by November, will be even more so for the coverage we shall devote to Campaign ’11).

The Planet has great respect for Peter Marchetti. We have told him plenty of times in person, especially during more informal moments, but does he believe that? Are his insecurities preventing that? We don’t know. We can’t play psychiatrist. We can say this campaign represents the opportunity for Marchetti to confront those issues and to flourish in public life in a way he has not yet done. As in the young man in Stephan Crane’s “Red Badge of Courage,” opportunity, of course, comes with a steep and perilous potential downside. We hope Marchetti makes the healthy choice.

Ferrin Takes Up the Challenge and Cleans Cappy’s Clock

Since the currently sitting (on his rear) Ward 3 councilor could not find time to deliver his positions on the three questions, we will post what a candidate in Ward 3 offered. The Planet did not ask anyone other than sitting councilors for input on the questions. At the same time, we didn’t limit then responses to just sitting councilors. Ward 3 hopeful Jeff Ferrin showed great instincts in jumping at an opportunity. That’s the type of representation We The People need.

Ferrin writes:

Question one.

I advocate for removal of as much of the PCBs as possible. Although GE was a booming business that provided good jobs for Pittsfield, I feel it must take full responsibility for contaminating our city. They made millions in profits while lowering the cost of proper disposal of chemicals including PCBs. We now know PCBs are a known carcinogen and many have fallen ill as a result. Even as a kid, I remember PCB oils being spread on the dirt roads in towns as far as Sheffield to keep the dust down.

It is time for this city and the EPA to enforce full cleanup measures on all contaminated properties public and private. Any other company in this country would be held to that responsibility and standard. Why not GE? To recap: Full clean up is the goal.

HILL 78

If PCBs are a carcinogen that had to be removed from the river and other areas like the Longfellow neighborhoods near Little Italy, then I am hopeful someone can explain to me how they are less dangerous being 50 feet from a school? The Hill must be removed and taken from this city for proper disposal as “dirty dirt.” It is we take a stance in this city and stop being afraid of a company like GE just because the have deep pockets and pockets full of lawyers. They know they are wrong, they know what they did, and they must be held accountable to the fullest. Lets force the hand of the EPA to do their job.

UNFUNDED LIABILITIES

We must start ASAP to address this problem. Before long, we will be at $400,000,000. This is not a situation like Popeye, where Wimpy will gladly pay tomorrow for a hamburger today. The country as a whole is facing the same dilemma as we are in Pittsfield. We, however, seem to add new jobs, higher pay, and in doing so add to the crisis. We must develop a financial strategy to start paying down that debt so that we do not leave it in the billion-dollar range for our children. We should not be waiting to see if the Commonwealth or Federal Government would help us. We must tackle this on our own and soon. I suggest we start with looking at seriously having a forensic audit done of the city and finding where money is being wasted and misused. We have the ability to accomplish a successful debiting down of this very important problem over a 25- to 35-year year period while maintaining our required yearly contributions as required by law, if we do it right and have leaders who do not redirect the funds. We must stop adding big raises like we have seen in the seven to ten thousand dollar plus range as we have seen with this mayor and council on the approvals of those raises.

The unfunded issue is more over a result of those who are in the upper management levels, like those we have seen in Springfield and Holyoke, with retirees making between $90-110,000 a year in pensions. So yes we must address this and do it now. The next council and mayor will have some serious decisions to make when it comes to budgets and cutbacks. This includes tackling this issue, PCBs, PEDA, loss of business regardless of how small, the ever-increasing tax burden associated with the tax split between residential and commercial rates, and out of control spending as if we were in the greatest financial position with nothing to worry about.

I am convinced a true Forensic Audit is what we need to get a handle on what our true debt is. As a Ward 3 councilor, I would push to have that done.

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TOMORROW, WE HAVE SOME AMAZING REVELATIONS FROM THE NAKED CITY, PLUS, THE PLANET’S FOOR WRITER TELLS US ABOUT HER LOCAL WISDOM. FOOD FOR THOUGHT AND BODY. LOVE TO ALL.

30 Responses to “YON MAKES IT 7-4; PRESSURE BUILDS ON CAPPY AND MARCHETTI, plus FERRIN SHOWS A KILLER INSTINCT”

  1. GMHeller
    March 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

    Silver Lake; Silver Lake; Silver Lake; Silver Lake……….

    • danvalenti
      March 21, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

      Agreed. Agreed. Agreed. We’ve been working on a Silver Lake splash. It will, with one more successful phone call, run this week.

      • Dave Martindale
        March 21, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

        I take the position that to cap the 5 feet of toxic sludge in the bottom of Silver Lake with a thin layer of sand is a travesty beyond comprehension.

        What I do understand, is that for GE, Silver Lake remediation it is all about money.
        When you have only one contaminant, the cost for disposal is at lot less than if there are multiple contaminants. Disposal cost goes up exponentially for every contaminant in the mix. If there are multiple contaminants, the cost of sampling also escalates significantly to determine extent of contamination and to prove completion. It is no secret to anyone that Silver Lake is a witches caldron of multiple toxins.

        If GE can get away with capping Silver Lake with a thin layer of sand, of course that is what they will do because the cost is far less than proper remediation. If we as residents of this area allow this “sweeping of dirt under the rug” we have only ourselves to blame for future problems and sure as the sun rises there will be problems.

        • Dave Martindale
          March 21, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

          Here is a interesting bit of trivia about Silver Lake. It is said that GE tested torpedos in Silver Lake during WWII.

  2. Dusty
    March 21, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

    Forensic audit?? If the books were ever audited going back ten years we would be tying up the courts with white collar criminals. Now, that is assuming there is any kind of paper trail still in existence, My guess is that any auditor would throw his hands up in despair trying to sort out what has happened with this city’s finances.

    And yah, I know they are audited every year…by the same outfit since Doyle and beyond.

    • danvalenti
      March 21, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

      @DUSTY
      Excellent point. The same audit, by the same company since at least the Doyle Administration simply checks the math. It doesn’t give the city (or the taxpayers) much and probably no useful information on if money is being wasted on foolish purposes. I’m not sure we’re talking about the same thing here, but I would advocate what it called a Management Audit. That’s where you not only check the balance sheets and the math, but also make a determination if the money is well spent. For instance, if DPW buys $100,000 in ping pong balls, the current audit will applaud that if the math adds up and the books reflect that purchase. If will not saying anything on that being a stupid purchase for the department. We need an audit that will supply management information. That, of course, assumed budgets with goals attached to them, and not hte current yearly exercise where Sue Carmel just changes the math on the spreadsheets.

      • Dusty
        March 21, 2011 at 3:13 pm #

        If a mayoral candidate promised a full in depth audit going back several years that would carry a lot of weight in getting my vote. Dan do you remember when Doyle gave the outgoing treasurer (Kyle) $50,000 exit bonus? That was taxpayer money.

    • Jeff Ferrin
      March 21, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

      Dusty

      I was in no way wanting or suggesting a look at an audit by the same company in any way. That would be like asking Mr. Barrett to conduct it like he did the so called never told about investigation into the money issue in the water department. That would be a bad move. I am suggesting an audit by the commonwealth auditors or an outside auditor that has zero connections with the city and being overseen by the commonwealth and not the city. Having a true grip on the totality of our debt and any indescretions is important.

  3. danbeaut
    March 21, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

    The debate between the two’ in Ward 3 could get ugly. Ferrin will not hold back, Cappy better be on his toes. Cappy might need my assistance, since I like him, we’ll see. Right now I have Cappy as the front runner.

    • reality check
      March 21, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

      Cappy wins two to one. Ferrin is this years Rinaldo Delgallo.. What is Ferrins disability retirement anyway?

      • danvalenti
        March 21, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

        @RC
        Ferrin has provided thorough answers to these questions. What has Cappy done but ignore the challenges? I can check on Ferrin’s disability. I don’t know off hand. It’s a fair question. I’ll try to get it.

      • Jeff Ferrin
        March 21, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

        Reality Check.

        Dan I will be happy to answer him..

        A comparison of me to Mr. Delgallo. I will agree to disagree. Their is no comparison.

        It would be nice to know who you really are RC. I feel at a disadvantage. My disability is that I had to have a total rt shoulder replacement and will have to have my left done as well as a result of the injuries occurred while employed by the city. An injury that was proven by seven different surgeons of which three were from the city’s workers comp.

        If you wish to contact me and ask me questions I would be more than happy to discuss the issues and anything you would like to know. I have not nor do I have anything to hide. I truly believe in dealing with the issues and look forward debating my apponent in a clean race. You can email me at jeffrey@jeffferrinward3.com and I will be sure get back to you.

        • danvalenti
          March 22, 2011 at 6:36 am #

          @JEFF
          Thank you. Straightforward and upfront.
          @ RC: I hope you take up Mr. Ferrin’s offer and contact him directly.

    • danvalenti
      March 21, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

      Agree, Cappy is the front runner since it’s so early in the campaign, he’s the incumbent, and nomination papers won’t be out for another seven weeks. It will start cooking in 3 if Cappy stays in and Ferrin gets on the ballot. One has to give Ferrin credit for the way he’s educating himself on the issues. For example, he makes many of the meetings most others ignore. That shows me he wants this.

  4. Payroll Patriot
    March 21, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    In honor of Joetaxpayer and Susietaxpayer:

    The taxpayer – that’s someone who works for the federal government but doesn’t have to take a civil service examination. Per Ronald Reagan

    There is nothing that can teach speed reading as fast as getting an unexpected letter from the IRS

    Taxpayer: A person who resents that death and taxes don’t come in that order

    Why does a slight tax increase cost you $200. and a substantial tax cut save you thirty cents per Peg Bracken

    I’m proud to be paying taxes in the United States. The only thing is I could be just as proud for half the money per Arthur Godfrey

    PS: W4CC later

    • reality check
      March 22, 2011 at 5:09 am #

      What the Hell are you smokeing?

  5. Marchetti Supporter
    March 21, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

    I’m told that Peter will be sending you an answer to the three questions soon. He didn’t know of your request. He didn’t get your e-mail.

    • danvalenti
      March 21, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

      Peter contacted me today. The nature of our dialog reflects what you say. We look forward to his comments.

  6. eric vincelette
    March 21, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

    In the spirit of March Madness….this is part of the reason states & municipalities are scaping by….this is called divide and conquer…..#1 on the list of reserves…GE…$77billion…come on! And we don’t have the gumption to step up as a Community & take back and reclaim what was once ours….

    The small companies and public didn’t have a chance in the early rounds. Now it’s down to a few formidable corporate teams, the Cheat 16:

    - General Electric made $10.3 billion in 2009, but received a $1.1 billion tax rebate.

    - Forbes said about Bank of America in 2010: “How did they not pay any taxes on $4.4 billion in income?”

    - Oil giant Exxon made a $45 billion profit in 2009, but paid no taxes in the United States.

    - Citigroup had 4 quarters of billion-dollar profits in 2010, but paid no taxes.

    - Wells Fargo made $12 billion but purchased Wachovia Bank to claim a $19 billion tax credit.

    - Hewlett Packard’s U.S. income tax rate was 4.3% in 2008 and 2.3% in 2009.

    - Verizon’s 10.5% tax rate, according to Forbes, is due to its partnership with Vodafone, the primary target in UK Uncut’s protests against tax evaders.

    - Chevron’s tax rate was 1% in 2008.

    - Boeing, which just won a $30 billion contract to build 179 airborne tankers, got $124 million back from the taxpayers in 2010.

    - Over the past 5 years Amazon made $3.5 billion and paid taxes at the rate of 4.3%.

    - Carnival Cruise Lines paid 1% in taxes on its $11.5 billion profit over the past 5 years.

    - Koch Industries is not publicly traded, so their antics are kept private. But they benefit from taxpayer subsidies in ranching and logging.

    - In 2008 CorporateWatch said Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp paid “astoundingly low taxes” because of tax havens.

    - Google “cut its taxes by $3.1 billion in the last three years by shifting its money around foreign countries.

    - Merck, the second-largest drugmaker in the U.S., last year brought more than $9 billion from abroad without paying any U.S. tax.

    - Pfizer, the largest drugmaker in the U.S., erased $10 billion in taxes with an “accounting treatment.”

    All the above has been documented by US Uncut Chicago members on PayUpNow.org .

    Who’s projected for the Final Frauding Four?

    Best Defense: Google uses a game plan called a “Double Irish Defense,” which moves most of its foreign profits through Ireland and the Netherlands to Bermuda.

    Best Offense: GE’s 2010 SEC 10-K tax filing boldly states: “At December 31, 2010, $94 billion of earnings have been indefinitely reinvested outside the United States…we do not intend to repatriate these earnings..”

    Most Steals: Citigroup: 427 tax haven subsidiaries

    Best Trash talk: A General Electric spokeswoman: “G.E. pays many other taxes including payroll taxes on the wages of our employees, property taxes, sales and use and value added taxes.”

    Most game-ending bailouts: Bank of America received $45 Billion in tax payer bailout funds in 2008 and 2009. In 2009 the company earned a pretax income of $4.4 billion, but claimed a $1.9 Billion tax benefit from the government.

    Teams with the most reserves:
    General Electric: $77 billion
    Google: $24 billion
    That’s 2 companies holding $101 billion that could be invested in jobs.

    Tax Haven Tourney Champion? GE is the Duke of Tax Avoidance.

    • Nichols for mayor
      March 22, 2011 at 10:00 am #

      Mr. Vincelette,

      Do you consider yourself a socialist or a communist?

  7. Olga
    March 22, 2011 at 7:26 am #

    Dan
    Capitanio is problably waiting for Debra Guachione or Tom Hickey to write it for him. Be patient I am sure it’s coming

    • danvalenti
      March 22, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

      OLGA
      Most likely. Time is up for Cappy. He had more than enough time. If he sends in a response at this point, I will feed it to the fishes. Thanks.

  8. danbeaut
    March 22, 2011 at 11:01 am #

    Olga, go join status on woman.

  9. eric vincelette
    March 22, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    @ Nichols for mayor….It’d be great if you were confident enough to use your own name and you might want to be a little less confrontational if you are using a candidates name for your tagline, as it might brand and label said candidates supporters as harsh, abrasive or less than educated which isn’t good for your candidate, but maybe that was your intention all along who knows….but I digress Mr. Who Knows….to answer your question…I am realist Capitalist, not a redistributionist as you allude to….but you see my friend Capitalism implies a “somewhat” level playing field, i.e. that we all have to play by the same rules ,when the current reality is 75% of all income is at the top 1% or so , thru tax breaks, tax avoidence and “creative bookkeeping” which resembles more of a dictatorship or monarchy or something….Are you some type of a King or Queen or Dictator from some foreign country, that supports Joe Nichols and reads Planet Valenti?…hope that clears up your misperception of me my good anonymous friend…

    • reality check
      March 22, 2011 at 1:56 pm #

      Good come back!!

    • NFM
      March 24, 2011 at 2:20 am #

      Mr. Vincellette,

      As respectfully as I can, you are an excellent example of why not to post your name. You claim to be a capitalist, yet act as a socialist. This makes a person appear uneducated, small and defensive. People could possibly think the same about you.

      While it is entertaining to read comments from you and from Jimmy Gleason, I am far too embarrassed to admit that publicly, for example, you might enjoy watching MTV’s Jersey Shore, but it is a guilty pleasure you keep to yourself.

      You, Mr. Vincellette, are my Jersey Shore.

      And that is the situation.

  10. eric vincelette
    March 24, 2011 at 5:35 am #

    Jersey Shore? Never watched it. but from what I’ve heard it seems about ur speed my invisible friend..

  11. Nichols for mayor
    March 24, 2011 at 6:24 am #

    Dear reality check,

    Accoriding to Mr. Vincellette’s rules, your comment bears no weight given that you, too, refuse to muddy your name with association.

  12. eric vincelette
    March 25, 2011 at 6:48 am #

    In an effort to end this tit for tat w/U NFM & to move onto BIGGER issues I leave U w/this….Communism is a State owned system which I never abdicated for….U brand urself a true “Capitalist” & me a Socialist because I believe the rich & corporations should b taxed lie everyone else? If we were operating in a true “Free Market” sysytem which is @ the heart of Capitalism, then all the BIG Banks , Super Affluent & Rich Corporations that have U brainwashed & doing their bidding because you watch Fox news, would have been left to FAIL & COLLAPSE…..Good day sir/mrs./Casper the friendly ghost…Get ur facts & definitions clear plz…& no someone’s comments r not irrelevabt just because they don’t identify themselves but if they engage another poster in some type of “attack” then their argument loses steam in the “stay in the closet” w/their identity…

    • NFM
      March 28, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

      Chuck must be so proud…