MAYOR-ELECT DAN BIANCHI SCORES FIRST TRIUMPH FOR WE THE PEOPLE IN HIS HANDLING OF ‘THE STRACUZZI INVITE’
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, DEC. 20, 2011) — His administration still awaits for its cue to enter into City Hall council chambers on Inauguration Day, and mayor-elect Dan Bianchi has scored his first “victory” not just for We The People but also for everyone who upholds integrity, honesty, and decency in local government.
Bianchi Racks Up First Political Win as Mayor-elect
The story got out that Angelo Stracuzzi, disgraced former CEO of Greylock Federal Credit Union, the county’s largest financial institution, had wormed an VIP invitation to attend the swearing of Bianchi and new city officials in January. That he had was never confirmed. Nonetheless, populist outrage was soon to follow. Stracuzzi, you will recall, got busted in Maine on consecutive days in July 2005 on four counts having to do with teenage boys: two counts of soliciting prostitution of a minor and two counts of assault. The release of this story five years later resulted in Stracuzzi’s shame-filled ouster from his huge job at Greylock.
A quiet howl of protest could be heard throughout the city regarding Stracuzzi’s inaugural invitation. It’s clear that We The People wanted him nowhere near the dais or VIP section. He can attend as a private citizen, though it would take some nerve to show his face after what he did. THE PLANET contacted Bianchi early yesterday about this potentially ugly scene. He got back to us late last night.
“[Stracuzzi's] not on our list of invites,” Bianchi said. “I put in a call to the [city] clerk’s office to see if they are aware of this.” Later, Bianchi had a bit more information: “I just talked to [city clerk] Linda Tyer. She said the auditors suggested that she couldn’t use city funds to send out invitations, therefore she didn’t. Theresa [Bianchi's wife] sent out some. No Angelo.”
With those words, Dan Bianchi scored a first triumph on behalf of reclaiming government in the name of We The People. It’s not evidence of anything more than that, but it could have been handled so much worse. The behind-the-scenes political pressure brought to bear to have Stracuzzi as part of the swearing-in ceremonies waned in light of the backlash against it.
Stracuzzi Case Not About One’s Man’s Failure; It Disgraced the Entire City
You could argue that this is not a big deal. THE PLANET would not be convinced.
Let’s be clear: We bear Angelo Stracuzzi no ill will. Whatever graces he has as a man, we applaud. His inner demons, whatever they may be, are his own, except, of course, to the extent that other innocent people have been hurt by them. As a person, we hope he receives whatever help he needs, or if he needs none, then moves on to reclamation and personal fulfillment. We’ve known Angelo since he was a kid and graduated in the same class at PHS (Class of ’69).
But Angelo Stracuzzi isn’t just another Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski. He was “Tell ‘em Angelo sent you.” He was the self-proclaimed community pillar, a master of self-promotion. He was the GOB’s GOB. He had the plastered-on smile that the blue-ahired ladies and grandmothers loved. Most of the guys, though, except those in his inner circle, saw right through him.
Stracuzzi held positions of power. He headed the largest financial institution in Berkshire County. He served as council president. He ran for mayor. He served on a million boards and committees. What he did in Biddeford, Maine, became not just the personal legal ordeal of Angelo Stracuzzi but, in a way, an indictment on the corrupt GOB network of which he was a key part. And not once since his removal at Greylock, for an alleged severance package said to be in the millions, has Stracuzzi publicly apologized to the city. That’s all it would take for Angelo to right the ship: A full admission of his wrong-doing and an apology.
The charges stemming from Biddeford, Maine, July 2005, mattered — and still do.
The Arrest of Stracuzzi and the Ensuing Situation with His Court-Ordered Sentence Revealed the GOB System in Berkshire County Operating at its Worst
Prosecutors in Maine dropped the two prostitution charges, Stracuzzi copped a plea [guilty] on the assault charges, and he got off with a one-year suspended jail sentence, court-ordered psychological counseling, and probation. Why prosecutors dropped the prostitution charges isn’t known, though stories circulate in York County, Maine, about that. Our own trip to Biddeford, Maine police department, and our off-the-record talks there, say as much.
As for the probation sentence on the other two charges, Stracuzzi convinced the courts to transfer his probation to Berkshire County, Mass., instead of York County — not typical but no unheard of. Of course, it was just a wild coincidence that Stracuzzi’s close friend, Clifford Nilan, headed the county probation department. Nilan also happened to be a key executive on the board of … you guessed it … Greylock Federal.
There’s no record of Stracuzzi serving his probation period. If he served probation like any other convict, we would like to see the records on that.
When the story of his arrests broke, based in large part on the work of Conor Berry of the BB, Stracuzzi told the press that when he went to the courthouse, someone would ask him if he wanted to see an officer. He said, no, and that was it. THE PLANET had never heard, and hasn’t since, of a convict being able to dictate the terms of probation, including and especially should I even do it in the first place. There’s no record also no evidence that Stracuzzi received court-ordered psychological counseling. It may have happened, but we just don’t know.
For five years, from 2005 to 2010, Stracuzzi managed to keep the story of his arrest hidden. John Bissell, a VP at Greylock and a spokesperson for the company after the Stracuzzi story broke, did his best at spin and damage control. He claimed the Greylock board had no inkling of Stracuzzi’s brush with the law, something THE PLANET quickly corrected when we pointed out that Nilan served on the board.
Bianchi Stepped in and Took Charge
Anyhow, the affair “ended” when Stracuzzi “resigned” from his position at Greylock. Since then, he has been a shadowy figure hanging around on the sordid outskirts of the more poisonous side of city politics. Stracuzzi’s alleged VIP invitation to Bianchi’s inauguration rattled many in the city, including just about everyone who looks to the new mayor to set a new tone — one more transparent, one less secretive. People have placed great symbolic importance on this change of captains, seeing in the ascendance of the Chosen One, Bianchi, and the minimization of the other, which is the GOB.
AS WE LOOK FOR ENOUGH SNOW TO MAKE A SNOWBALL, WE LEAVE YOU WITH YOUR THOUGHTS OF SUGAR-PLUM FAIRIES, WAFERS, AND “A CHRISTMAS CAROL,” PLAYING TONIGHT AT 7 P.M. AT THE COLONIAL.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.