SOME NOT-SO-RANDOM THOUGHTS ON A FRIDAY MORNING & AFTERNOON. YES, STEROIDsGATE IS MENTIONED, and SO is SOMETHING SHOCKING ABOUT MOSQUITOGATE. LEARN THE DEEP, DARK SECRETS OF A PROGRAM THAT COST THE CITY SIX FIGURES, ALL OF IT WASTE
BY DAN VALENTI
The Planet, in the middle of an extremely busy and productive morning picking hundreds off the money tree, offers a few quick though not-so-random thoughts on matters that have come out way in the past 24 hours:
— SURE TO HAPPEN: Before he leaves office in early January, 2012, assuming the world doesn’t end prior to that, Mayor Jimmy Ruberto will appoint Acting Chief Mike Wynn as full-fledged chief. The council will approve, 8-3, as Uncle Gerry gets out his pruned rubber stamp.
— If Lew Markham and Jonathan Lothrop, of Dumb and Dumber fame, REALLY want to “get” The Planet, they would invite him on their show and double-team him. Of course, that would mean they were doing it face to face, man to man, and not behind his back. It would also mean The Planet could, you know, give it back, on a “twofer” basis.
— If the Consent Agreement signed with GE in 1998 is the greatest thing since Wonder Bread Built Strong Boies 12 Ways, why, after 13 years (*) are all of GE’s toxins still in the water, land, and soil of Pittsfield? (*) Why is the Housatonic River still sick? (*) Why are there NO (ZERO) companies on the PEDA site (think pollution and liability is scaring them away)? Also, why are we supposed to believe that when the Consent Decree was being negotiated between the pricipals of GE and the city of Pittsfield, the city’s barroom politics were sharper than the four floors of the sharpest legal minds in the world that GE brought to the table?
— Has Acting Police Chief Wynn and the department provided medical help for officer David Kirchner to supervise his withdraw from steroids, assuming Kirchner was using and not selling? The side effects of withdrawal are potentially lethal, as Joe Pinhead shows in the comments section of yesterday’s post.
— Why is the Pittsfield School Department looking to saddle taxpayers with another school bus purchase, totaling $4.3 million, after just five years ago replacing the fleet. Who’s getting rich off that one? The numbers don’t add up, the move stinks, but watch how fact the school committee and the city council fall in love with it.
— Chief Wynn admitted to The Planet that he had no idea of officer Kirchner’s involvement in illegal steroids. He said he learned about it from another (and ongoing) investigation from a second local law enforcement agency that he would not name. Therefore, how can the chief say that Kirchner is the only one in a force of 120 that is involving in juicing? If he didn’t know about Kirchner, how can he know about anybody else?
— As to the above question, why doesn’t Chief Wynn want to find out, for sure, the answer to the question. Why not institute a policy of random drug testing for the PPD, effective immediately. We know the union will support it because police union head Marc Maddalena himself told The Planet that the union supports such testing. He said the only reason the department doesn’t have such testing is a contractual matter.
What’s All That Buzzing? or HOW Stupid Can One Get?
How dysfunctional are the politics, policies, and carry-out of same in the city of Pittsfield. Last year, the city committed more than $600,000 to wrap everyone up in a protective bubble to save them from … mosquitoes … as if this is equatorial French Guiana.
Common sense can arm people without stinking government programs, actions such as draining wet spots and standing water, wearing long sleeves and pants, personal insecticide, and avoiving the dawn-dusk periods. Follow those four steps, and you’ve personally taken care of 95% of the problem, without government getting involved. The other 5% we used to be able to put up with as a given in life, something not fun but not debilitating.
A Bad Deal from the Get Go
Nonetheless, the Mosquiters, that is, those who supported this plan (John Krol, Mike Ward, etc. among my Right Honorable Good Friends), convinced a skeptical Mayor Jimmy Ruberto to sign on the buzzing line.
One year later, and the program turned out to be such a colossal failure as to be considered a sham. The city blew six figures on the following. We take this from the March 7, 2011 Mosquito Task Force Meeting. Just the title has to let you know, in case there were any doubts, that you were in Palookaville with a lot of Barney Fifes. Nonetheless, at the meeting:
- The task force voted in favor (4-0) of a petition to opt-out of the Berkshire Mosquito Control Program (BCMCP). It cited:
* No confidence in Berkshire County Mosquito Control Program to meet needs of the city to promote an integrated pest management system
- Voted against (3-1) adulticiding (spraying) ) for nuisance (which could have begun as early as mid-June). It did so because of:
* Failure to meet 33 CMR Standard for Application of Pesticides.
* Short-term answer only (2-3 days)
* Difficulty to reach agreement on definition/threshold for nuisance
* Emphasis should be on larviciding, ditch digging, & education
* One in favor qualified vote: “Only in favor with very clear protocols for
- Voted in favor of the following expected outcomes (what they call in bureaucratese “deliverables”) from the BCMCP for the remainder of FY ’11: (4-0)
* Comprehensive Public Education Campaign enacted by end of April
2011 emphasizing: information for residents on prevention of mosquito
(Inclusion of pesticide information i.e. safety/toxicity and related topics
i.e. protection of Honey bees, only if decision made to spray for
* Emphasis on surveillance (to begin mid-April) and larviciding (to
begin late April/early May) and continued through June 30th.
(throughout summer if decision to continue in BCMCP)
* Designated oversight of BCMCP to ensure
WE INTERRUPT TO ASK A QUESTION: IF THE COUNTY MOSQUITO SERVICE IS SO POORLY MANAGED, WHY AND HOW COULD ANYONE BE DECEIVED INTO THINKING IT WAS A GOOD PROGRAM FOR PITTSFIELD. SORRY. THE PLANET REALIZES THAT QUESTIONS, IN PITTSFIELD, ARE CONSIDERED DISLOYAL AND ANARCHISTIC.
IT GETS WORSE. The task force also expressed its “Rationale/Concerns with Mosquito Control Program to date.” They are:
- History of spraying without notification of city leaders i.e. Mayor, Director of Health Department. This is code for “Spraying of Dr. Phil Adamo’s house without his permission. The city physician wasn’t too happy, and, since he’s not a Little Guy, he got attention right away.
- History of spraying without knowledge of locations of schools, day care centers (regarding the MGL re the Children and Families’ Protection Act). See above note on Dr. Adamo.
- No budgetary allocation for public education and no actual plan to do so even though requested repeatedly by the task force and BOH.
- BCMCP wrote in their September 10,2010 report: “A public education program is in process of being completed with input from the Pittsfield BOH” and outlined in the BCMCP 2010 Annual Report dated 12/14/10 as: “An Educational/Public Outreach Program will be put in place this winter as requested by the Pittsfield BOH”. When asked why nothing to date has been accomplished with the educational campaign, the comments were, “No work done [from Oct- March] because there is nothing to do in mosquito control in the winter.” “Can’t afford to do mass mailings.” and “Waiting for you [Task force] to tell us what you want.”
- READ THE ABOVE CAREFULLY. THAT IS ACTAUL LANGUAGE FROM THE BCMCP. This sounds like the mosquitos wrote the report. The county mosquito project says it will include “public education” (WHAT, WE DON’T KNOW WHAT A MOSQUITO IS OR HOW TO SLAP ONE INTO NIRVANA?). When asked why it it didn’t fulfill its promise, it said: “No work done [from Oct- March] because there is nothing to do in mosquito control in the winter.” “Can’t afford to do mass mailings.” and “Waiting for you [Task force] to tell us what you want.”
- No coordination to date with the Pittsfield DPW regarding catch-basin cleaning and larviciding after repeated requests to do so. (Last assessed with Bruce Collingwood on March 7th.)
- Lack of confidence in knowledge and lack of consistent viewpoints among members of Program in addressing questions/concerns from task force members i.e. wetlands, neighbors’ right to opt out, options when limited road access for truck spraying, regulatory guidelines.
- General lack of customer service/awareness/follow-through of expected outcomes developed by task force in early December as of this date.
How could Mayor Ruberto Have Fallen For the Mosquito Program?
The report makes us all geniuses with hindsight, even Mayor Ruberto, who at least admitted his mistake. The Planet can honestly report we were against this the first time that pest Matt “Kufflinks” Kerwood fixated on mosquitos. We failed them ,we failed last year, and we certainly fail now to see how a government program can take care of a perceived problem that is no problem in actuality.
In short, WHY DID THE CITY EVER SIGN ON FOR SUCH A STUPID PROGRAM? Don’t we have better ways to spend $650,000? It is state money, you say, and doesn’t come out of our budget?
(a) Guess where the state gets its money (gotta mirror, taxpayers?)
(b) That’s no excuse for waste
(c) It is a sign of government run amok.
What ever happened to self-sufficiency? What ever happened to people dealing with mosquitos (or not, as they see fit) on their own? The sign-on to the mosquito program last year and the lack of communication between the county and the city on the administration of it in 2010 sounds like fiction. An outsider would be justified in saying The Planet made all this up. We didn’t.
Now if we can show that Berkshire County mosquitos are unusually large, bull-headed, and aggressive because they are taking steroids, that’s a different story. In that case, let’s call the County Drug Task Force and the Pittsfield Police Department.
We’re sure the problem will disappear, right quick.
MORE LATER. GOTTA GO. LOVE TO ALL & OPEN THE WINDOWS, AUNT MILLIE.