Article

PITTSFIELD POLITICIANS FORCE TAXPAYERS TO ‘ASSUME THE POSITION’ ONCE AGAIN … PLUS … A CASE OF WELFARE FRAUD YOU WON’T BELIEVE, AND WHAT YOUR STATE REPS (BUT ONE) HAVE TO SAY ABOUT IT

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, DEC. 17, 2011) — In a sense, the timing of the welfare fraud story you will read in just a bit (below) is perfect, given the hefty tax increase Mayor Ruberto proposed and the city council set in stone Wednesday night in Pittsfield. Thus, the fruits of the council’s June approval of the mayor’s FY2013 budget ripen.

Merry Christmas, again, Pittsfield taxpayers. Your council didn’t have the where-whithall to cut a penny out of the budget, and you — as you do year after year — pay the price.

A couple of points. First, it’s no coincidence that the council approves the budget in June but sets the tax rate at the classification hearing well past Election Day. Do you ever notice how much bad news gets announced AFTER the elections? Do you think it would have any effect on the outcomes of Election Day if the tax classification hearing were held, say, a week before the elections? It sure would.

Second, my Right Honorable Good Friend Mike Ward was correct when he pointed out (paraphrasing) that We The People have become conditioned to “expect” a 2-3% increase each year. Through apathy, We The People have allowed themselves to be beaten into meek submission. How ironic, when they actually OWN the government and the pols and officials are merely the hired help.

THE PLANET is waiting for some mayor or the majority of ANY duly-constituted Pittsfield city council to declare: “We have heard the outrage of honest, law-abiding, struggling taxpayers. We will for once stand for them. This year, we are decreasing taxes for them.” How do you do this.

(A) Trim fat. That has not been done. Two quick examples: the over-generous pension deals negotiated by certain public employee unions over the years. Pension reform could address this. Also, a bloated bureaucracy in the school department, particularly the cost of administration and management.

(B) Raise revenue. There’s money waiting to be had. Again, two quick examples: reform of the not-for-profit tax dodge being perpetuated in the city. Also, lower the taxpayers share of providing health insurance for municipal workers to 70%. Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski now pay 85%. Most private sectors companies that provide insurance (not all do) do so in the 50-50 or 60/40 range. A 70-30 municipal split is more than generous and saves the city millions. We count that as budgetary addition by subtraction.

The point is, taxes do NOT have to go up each year. Take note, incoming city council and Mayor Bianchi.

Yes, Mike Ward’s comments may have frosted some, but again, he’s only testifying to the true state of affairs. People have stopped caring — that’s how we should interpret Ward’s comments.

— Some have become frustrated and fed up. They drop out and seethe.

— Others never cared in the first place.

— Still others are too busy trying to keep their heads above water. Their incomes are flat or falling. They must tighten their belt. How dare anyone expect government to do the same?

Case of Outrageous Welfare Fraud Should Rankle Every Honest Citizen of This State

— Still others, probably well more than one out of every two citizens now, can be classified in some category of … what do we call it? … undesirable, freeloading, bummery, riff-raff? These are the ones who live off of welfare, do drugs, and get a free ride. To be sure, there’s a legitimate need to provide a temporary helping hand to honest, good people who have been knocked down, but we can no longer afford to fund the lifestyles of a growing number of deadbeats who have clearly chosen Pittsfield as their Shangri-La.

With all of this as a preamble, dig this story from the Boston Herald (note that EBT refers to “electronic benefit transfers”):

Beacon Hill Republicans are calling for a massive overhaul of the state’s welfare system after a crew of alleged Lynn grifters was charged with scamming thousands from taxpayer-funded EBT cards — including some who allegedly took the public money as payment for crack.

“I want to see major reform here in Massachusetts,” fumed state Rep. Shaunna O’Connell, a Taunton Republican heading a legislative panel reviewing the EBT program. “You can spend that money on anything you want. There’s no oversight.”

The latest example of alleged rampant abuse occurred in Lynn, where authorities said four convenience stores let customers withdraw hundreds in cash while keeping half as a fee. Agents from the federal Department of Agriculture, along with state troopers from Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett’s office and Lynn police, raided the stores yesterday, arrested eight people and seized a half-kilo of crack cocaine and 700 grams of heroin, officials said.

Undercover cops allegedly used EBT cards at the market on several occasions to withdraw $80 in cash at a time, which was used to buy $40 worth of crack. The other $40 would be kept by the store as a fee, Essex First Assistant District Attorney Jack Dawley said in Lynn District Court yesterday. An undercover state trooper also witnessed many “blatant drug deals using EBT cards” at the store, Dawley said.

“This is an affront and an insult to all taxpayers,” Blodgett said.

“This money is supposed to be going to those who need it,” added Lynn Police Chief Kevin Coppinger. “It’s outrageous.”

Charged with cocaine dealing and EBT fraud are store owners Midlher Cherubin, 41, and his son, Allan, 20; and Jean Saint Preux, 23, all of Lynn; and Jayson Powell, 26. All four pleaded not guilty and were ordered held on high bail. Lawyers for the Cherubins said the store owners had no knowledge of the alleged fraud or drug sales.

Charged with EBT fraud in the sweep were Amimada Jean Geffide, 33; Amanda Repp, 24; and Sheena White, 27, all of Lynn; and Pierre Saint Fort. All four were released on personal recognizance.

In the wake of Herald reports that found EBT cards were used to buy booze, lottery tickets, jewelry and other luxuries, the Legislature created a panel to review the program. O’Connell, who chairs it, wants restrictions on what can be bought. Current rules allow welfare recipients to withdraw up to $300 in state cash per month, in addition to federal food stipends.

“I want a complete overhaul of the system,” said Sen. Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth). “It’s a farce.”

Jennifer Kritz, state Department of Transitional Assistance spokeswoman, said the agency regularly probes fraud and recovered $4 million in 2010. “We take allegations of fraud very seriously,” she said.

———————————————————–

The Berkshire Delegation Speaks Out (all Except for Gail Cariddi, whose Constituents Must Fend for Themselves)

THE PLANET contacted the entire Berkshire delegation for their comments on this outrage. We present then here in full, as they sent them. We asked Reps. Gail Carridi, Paul Mark, Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Smitty Pignatelli, and Sen. Ben Downing the following questions:

* Do you share the outrage?

* Will you support “a complete overhaul of the [EBT] system,” As Sen. Hudland of Weymouth has pledged? In what form will this take?

* Are you aware of any such abuse in your district?

* Do you intend to investigate the use of EBTs in your district to ensure that this is not happening here?

* Feel free to add anything you wish.

We heard from the entire delegation except for Rep. Cariddi. We present them in the order received.

SEN. BEN DOWNING (FIRST TO RESPOND)

- Yes. No one can read that story and not be outraged. At a time where more families are seeking temporary & emergency food assistance due to extended unemployment, it’s sickening that some would be illegally abusing the system.
- I would certainly support reform of the system. For instance, Rep. O’Connell has filed legislation that would codify regulations which restrict use of EBT cards on alcohol, lottery tickets, tobacco products and other improper uses. Additionally, Rep. O’Connell has legislation that would require yearly audits of businesses that accept these benefits. Again, this makes sense to me. In my initial review of legislation, those were the first that jumped out at me, but I am certainly open to other ideas. Again, no matter your place on the political spectrum, stories of illegal abuse (and its worth noting and emphasizing that these actions were all illegal), such as this, are the most frustrating thing we can hear. Its the last thing anyone wants, because those benefits are needed by many people who want them as a temporary stop gap while they work to find a job.
- At times, we have had individual constituents raise concerns about specific practices or locations and we have always passed along that information to the DTA fraud unit. Never have those concerns had anything to do with drug dealing, which I would have passed directly to the DA’s office.

SMITTY PIGNATELLI

I am absolutely disappointed and outraged with the most recent reports of deliberative fraud and abuse of the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system between a welfare recipient and a convenience store owner in the city of Lynn. It is not acceptable that taxpayer money is being wasted in such a way. We have to keep in mind, though, while fraud and abuse is despicable, there are many people that abide by the rules and depend on EBT cards and state assistance to feed and care for their families. Even though the vast majority of people use their cards for legitimate purposes, it is true that some people continue to abuse the system and we need to do better in stopping them.

We made progress this past year by passing bills that prohibit people from purchasing alcohol, lottery tickets and tobacco with their EBT cards and levying stiff penalties, such as fines up to $25,000 and up to 5 years imprisonment, on the store owners that sell these items to them. I also think the bill that establishes a commission to study this issue and come up with recommendations is a good step as well. But at the end of the day, regardless of any more legislation, this comes down to enforcement at both the state and local level. What good is going to come out of passing more legislation if we can’t enforce what we already have? Regulations exist stating how EBT cards can be used, but obviously we lack on the enforcement side. We need stricter penalties and fines for liquor or convenience stores that participate in this abuse and perhaps give local licensing boards greater authority to suspend or revoke liquor licenses in connection with this abuse. It makes sense that if a store owner is caught in such activity that they should be faced with stiff penalties, including denying them the right to sell lottery tickets or offer keno games. I believe this would go a long way in deterring store owners from accepting EBT cards for these purposes. Without such enforcement, we can have all the rules and regulations we want, but people will continue to scam the system if we can’t back up our words with actions.

TRICIA FARLEY-BOUVIER

Abuse of assistance programs such as the fraud uncovered in Lynn highlight the need for changes in the program. The legislature has established a commission to investigate the abuse and I look forward to reviewing the findings and recommendations of that commission. Additionally, the legislature has outlawed the use of EBT cards for purchases of alcohol, tobacco, and lottery tickets. (MGL Chap. 18 Sects 5I-5K). Scams such as the one uncovered evidence that the penalties for abuse of the system are not deterring abuse as they were intended. For this reason I would like to see what can be done regarding punishment for those fraudulently using and fraudulently accepting the EBT cards. The real cost in situations such as this is that any funds being lost to fraud are dollars not going to those who really need it. While I am not aware of abuse in Pittsfield, any abuse in the Commonwealth costs taxpayers in Pittsfield money. Additionally, I am confident that if such abuse does exist in Pittsfield that our law enforcement agents are working hard to prevent it.
PAUL MARK

* Do you share the outrage?

Yes

* Will you support “a complete overhaul of the [EBT] system,” as Sen Hudland from Weymouth has pledged? In what form will this take?

I support changes that will prevent crooks from robbing a system designed to help those in need and look forward to the recommendations of the panel chaired by Rep. O’Connell.

* Are you aware of any such abuse in your district?

No

* Do you intend to investigate the use of EBTs in your district to ensure that this is not happening here?

If law enforcement personnel or residents of my district know of abuses in the 2nd Berkshire District I encourage them to contact me.

THE PLANET thank our Right Honorable Good Friends in the Berkshire Delegation (save one). We shall let you judge these  answers for yourself. You can be sure of two things, and both apply statewide and locally. Where electronic benefit transfers are used in this manner,

(1) The fraud is more widespread than just this egregious case (they are the dopes who just happened to get caught), and

(2) The System doesn’t not know how widespread the abuse actually is.

In light of the fact that Pittsfield taxpayers have just been dumped on again with a huge tax increase, and given that there is such abuse going on locally, even ONE CASE OF THIS TYPE OF PUBLIC SCAM CANNOT BE PERMITTED.

You’ve heard from your representatives — except for Cariddi. They are paying attention to this story and they read THE PLANET. We want your comments and solutions. Think of it as placing a direct call to your rep.

—————————————————————————–

WEEKENDS ARE WONDERFUL THINGS, AND THE WAY A RABBIT SPRINGS ONTO A NEW PATH, SO WE WRAP UP OUR RIGHTEOUS WRATH AND VENTURE INTO THE WEEKEND, AGAIN, WITH FRIENDS.

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE”

LOVE TO ALL.

 

57 Responses to “PITTSFIELD POLITICIANS FORCE TAXPAYERS TO ‘ASSUME THE POSITION’ ONCE AGAIN … PLUS … A CASE OF WELFARE FRAUD YOU WON’T BELIEVE, AND WHAT YOUR STATE REPS (BUT ONE) HAVE TO SAY ABOUT IT”

  1. Tito
    December 16, 2011 at 9:06 am #

    Radio host b s said the mayor looked liked he belonged on the short bus, making a comment on the tie he wore at the council meeting. Can someone explain what the hell that meant?

    • Jim Gleason
      December 17, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

      The short bus is the one usually taken by the special needs kids. If Sturgeon really said that then he’s a schmuck ( I’d like to use a much stronger word but, as Ronnie Van Zant said, they won’t let me) That is a totally idiotic statement form someone who claims to be the champion of these kids and people. Disgusting.

      • joetaxpayer
        December 18, 2011 at 10:56 am #

        @Jim,for someone who listens to Bills show you must know that he did not mean to insult any special needs people.Also kids that live out in the boondocks,would also take the short bus to school to save on fuel.It was only a silly jab at Mayor Ruberto no more no less,people should not try to read so much into every word said.I think Bill provides a great service to his listeners,who want a outlet to get there veiws out there.I dont always agree with him but respect what he does.

        • Jim Gleason
          December 18, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

          As Dan V. would say, BULLSPIT!!

          • joetaxpayer
            December 18, 2011 at 6:28 pm #

            As I would say if you don’t like what you are listening to,don’t tune in.

          • Jim Gleason
            December 19, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

            As I would say, I plan on no longer doing so!!

  2. Bull Durham
    December 16, 2011 at 9:24 am #

    Welfare reform is long overdue on both the state and federal levels. There are certainly legitimate claims, but you’re right, Dan, there are far too many people abusing this system, staying on it forever, and not lifting one finger to find work. It’s unfortunate Rep. Carriddi did not respond, as she represents my district, and I would like to hear her comments on this. Keep up the good work, Dan.

  3. Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
    December 16, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    This abuse is disgusting to be sure. EBT should be restricted to food and home needs. That is a service that is not only needed for unemployed people (as long as they are actively looking for work or trying to improve their job skill set thru education , in my opiniion) but also for the average struggling middle class family with a few kids and a house. The most recent AP study that shows 1 out of 2 Americans are considered “low income” ($45,000 annual income for a family of 4), is scary. It just shows how middle America is getting squeezed with flat or decreasing wages and increased expenses…In todays world a full time job and a part time gig are essential for those young families trying to make it

  4. Richard
    December 16, 2011 at 10:51 am #

    Tricia
    I am confident that if such abuse does exist in Pittsfield that our law enforcement agents are working hard to prevent it.What do you mean if?

    Today on the talk show they had the Mayor and Uncle Gerry on and if anyone ever had a doubt that Gerry was the Mayors man that show should have taken any doubt away. In my opinion the council president is supposed to be taken care of the tax payers entrance not the Mayor.

    • Bull Durham
      December 16, 2011 at 11:27 am #

      Anyone have the nerve to ask Uncle Gerry how much he pocketed as a “finders fee” to bring in a Boston area ambulance company so they could hurt a local business? Where do you think Action Ambulance’s profits go – not Pittsfield, to be sure. They use the same formula as the owner of the BB – make the money here, send it to Denver.

      I heard Gerry pocketed a pretty nice check from Action, followed immediately by the Mayor’s approval of bringing in a second ambulance company.

      • Shakes His Head
        December 16, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

        Doyle has publicly acknowledged working for both the ambulance company and for an out-of-state firm that contracts ‘red light cameras’ services to municipalities. I’m not so sure that Lee and Ruberto don’t do anything without Doyle’s input, at least until the split with TFB’s campaign.

        Better yet, Action is going to construct a building in the Stanley Business Park… IF Woodlawn Ave is reopened across a bridge that GE owns(ed) to the north. The bridge is in need of substantial repair/replacement. Council and PEDA are pushed to accept the next batch of PEDA property and inherit the bridge liability in order to facilitate Action’s tax breaks.

        • Bull Durham
          December 16, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

          I’d like to know how a second ambulance company, with no ties or loyalties to this city, is a “good thing” in the mind of either the Mayor or his puppet-master Doyle. And how much did Doyle make off of this – and since he’s so close to the Mayor, doesn’t that just scream conflict of interest?

          I was told, by a good source, that Action has a plan to put local ambulance companies out of business, including those in North and South Berkshire, and this is just the start.

          • Boom
            December 16, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

            Wait, so a BHS monopoly isn’t good but a County one is? Just trying to follow the short bus logic here.

          • Rivetor
            December 17, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

            When ACtion moved to Pittsfield, Doyle’s “insulating company” got the contract ot fix the building, so the word is on the street. Also, is it beyond the realm of likelihood that Doyle got a piece of the action when he “convinced” Ruberto and citycouncil behind the scenes of course to bring Action Ambulance here. And how much will he make when (if) the new building goes up on the PEDA property. This whole think stinks. I hope Mayor Bianchi looks into this

        • PITTSFIELD BELIEVER
          December 16, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

          Gerry Doyle was one of the best mayors the city ever had. He negotiated an historic consent agreement, he started the downtown revitalization that came to fruition after Hathaway left, and he’s done a great job working for Pittsfield with Secy. of State Bill Galvin. Mayor Doyle is out of the public sector now, and his work in getting the ambulance company here is a credit to him for helping the city. Also, the city will be experiencing a great loss of institutional knowledge with the loss of Council President Lee. Also to Molly, glad to see you confirm Valenti’s relationship with James Taylor. Wonder if they met in the psych ward at Riggs?

          • Ray Ovac
            December 16, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

            Thank you, Mr. Doyle, for that unsolicited press release. Everyone in Pittsfield, especially in the neighborhoods around Silver Lake and Hill 78 are always saying how very impressed they’ve always been with your negotiating skills, the ones that resulted in the ‘historic’ GE Consent Agreement. Bravo. BRAVO!

          • Fan Dan Go
            December 16, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

            Are you kidding? Doyle was a disaster. Uncle Gerry Lee has been a pathetic enabler for people like Doyle and his cronies. Glad to see the phony head off permanently to the American Legion bar.

          • Molly
            December 16, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

            Make no mistake — I did NOT confirm ANYTHING! Do NOT put words into my mouth!! I have never even met Dan Valenti, nor James Taylor. Nor do I have any knowledge of who their business associates are nor their personal friends. And nor do I care! Not even a little!

            My point was that Dan Valenti does own a private business and perhaps James Taylor is a client of his. OR, perhaps they ARE “good buddies”. Perhaps they happened to meet for the first time. I have no idea, BUT WHO CARES? How is that anyone else’s business? How is being seen having a drink a bad thing? And how is Dan Valenti being blamed for some idiot causing a raucous with James Taylor and getting kicked out of the place which then lead to mocking of a “fighter of the little guy”. Talk about really looking HARD for any stupid little thing!! A huge stretch, with lots of imagination. Whoever was the poster of that comment should be embarrassed as should you for trying to put words into my mouth and for being just plain out-and-out nasty.

          • Molly
            December 16, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

            Gerry Doyle did nothing but hang flags all over North Street that said, “It’s Happening”. Yeah, it was happening, alright! The city was getting screwed!

          • dusty
            December 17, 2011 at 2:24 am #

            Kind of self serving to be tooting your own horn ain’t it Gerry?

          • Scott
            December 17, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

            Your new name is Pittsfield Deceiver.

          • Jim Gleason
            December 19, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

            You are delusional. Doyle left us with a $10 million insurance liability when he left office which Dan Bianchi and others had to straighten out so the city was solvent again. Doyle has also had major input, if not total control, of the disastrous ruberto administration which this city will pay for for generations.

      • Jim Gleason
        December 17, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

        Sturgeon didn’t let anyone call to ask questions of the Three Stooges (ruberto, lee and barrett) who were all on at once on his show. The day after the mayor raised the tax rate, again, for the 8th year in a row the people were again silenced by the GOB’s. All too typical.

        • Molly
          December 17, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

          That is absolutely unbeeeeelievable!!!!!!! This is the stuff that HAS to stop! Message to the Mayor-elect and City Council-elect = TRANSPARENCY!!! And LISTENING to the citizens of Pittsfield…

        • rick
          December 18, 2011 at 5:44 am #

          once again your right jim, the little toad(roberto) ran eight years ago on a no tax no crime platform and look at us now. are we any better after after 8 years of him? i can answer that with a big fat NO. he did nothing with the GE pcbs, and neither did the councilors… his years are like the 80s….. non eventful…. all he did was show how the gobs run the city, and thats why bianchi is in.

          • Molly
            December 18, 2011 at 9:33 am #

            Agree. Where’s my like button? Oh yeah — :-)

  5. Shakes His Head
    December 16, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

    It is what it is, I have no opinion on the local versus not, the big vs. little guy, but I do struggle with how there are essentially local political puppetmasters that are paid in order to marshal votes that benefit private companies.

  6. joetaxpayer
    December 16, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    Bill was just making a joke to a friend.In todays hyper sensitive society some would say it was not politicly correct.I say it was pretty funny.I also road the short bus to school

    • Jim Gleason
      December 18, 2011 at 8:54 am #

      There is no excuse for poking fun at special needs people, period. Although you “road” the short bus you have no excuses for pardoning that kind of talk. As I said earlier, DISGUSTING!!

      • Steve Wade
        December 18, 2011 at 9:32 am #

        Look out Fat Man! Jimmy Gleason is mad at you! [REDACTED; THE POSTER IS REMINDED TO STAY WITHIN FAIR COMMENT. HE IS WARNED, THE WEBMASTER]

        • Scott
          December 18, 2011 at 6:55 pm #

          Steve Wade is walking on thin ice.

      • joetaxpayer
        December 18, 2011 at 11:29 am #

        Making fun of someones typo (road) is DISGUSTING! There is no excuse.

  7. Scott
    December 16, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

    Let’s just say I grew up on the other side of the tracks where it wasn’t uncommon in the 90′s to see drug dealers with huge stacks of food stamp currency this scam has been going on for years the only difference is now it’s electronic.

  8. Pat
    December 17, 2011 at 7:16 am #

    Molly = Sarah Palin

    • Molly
      December 17, 2011 at 9:03 am #

      Hahaha Nope! But for the money she’s made in the last 3 years, wish I was! I don’t have her whiney voice.

  9. Richard
    December 17, 2011 at 11:08 am #

    Dan I wish someone would do a study on just how many students actually ride the schools bus. By looking on how many kids I see on the bus they could do with a much smaller bus. And look at how many cars there are picking up kids from school.

    • Molly
      December 17, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

      Since we bought the school buses (vs. contracting it out or leases or whatever), let’s not give them an excuse to buy MORE new buses…

  10. danvalenti
    December 17, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    THE PLANET will be on the air with The Fat Man on wednesday, Dec. 21, 10:30 to noon.

  11. Jim Gleason
    December 17, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

    ruberto could have made it so there was no tax raise, 0%, flat, accross the line, by using $2.5 million from free cash in addition to what he used. That would have left us with more than we had coming in to this fiscal year. ruberto and the usual suspects on the council said they wanted to be “responsible” and not leave the new mayor with too little free cash. In my opinion, ruberto could give a rats ass for the new mayor and I bet he hopes Bianchi fails miserably. The council members just didn’t want to have to do their job, which is cutting money from a bloated budget and, with the exception of Joe Nichols and Melissa Mazzeo, passed the tax increase in the usual 9-2 tally. If these remaining councilors didn’t want to have to work in this position then why did they all run for office. THEY DON’T AND DIDN’T HAVE THE GUTS TO SEND IT BACK TO ruberto FOR USE OF MORE FREE CASH. Spineless.

    • Molly
      December 17, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

      Totally agree. And disgusting. They also could have cut out all of the “fat” that is in that budget, too!!! Spineless. I have lost ALL respect for Kevin Sherman and I so hope that he doesn’t become the next president of the city council. Actually, the only two that I have respect for are Melissa Mazzeo and Joe Nichols (and not just because of this vote, but because of their entire voting record) – they are the only two on that entire council that aren’t owned by the GOB’s!

      • dusty
        December 18, 2011 at 5:38 am #

        Outside of a thousand taxpayers occupying city hall this mayor and his tribe will continue. He does not and never has given a damn about the regular person in Pittsfield and he has proven it over and over and over. He is a power monger out of control. I hope his not being mayor helps the city but he has deeply planted seeds which may make change difficult. If Dan Bianchi does not swing a big strong stick from day one nothing will change. Obama tried to be nice…it did not work. If Dan tries to be nice it will not work either. He needs to clean house where he can and not pay attention the the negative crap the GOB newspaper will surely be spewing out their ass.

  12. San Simeon
    December 17, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    I would like to thank the Berkshire delegation, Paul Mark, Smitty, Senator Downing, and TRicia for responding here. The answers were reassuring and at leat we know they are aware of the problem of EBTs. I am disappointe,d thoug, to say the least, in Gail Carridi. She is my state rep here in north county. That she would not respond at all, and her being so new, doesn’t sit right with me. I think she has turned “arrogant.”

  13. San Simeon
    December 17, 2011 at 11:47 pm #

    Owned by the GOB = No good.
    The Planet = Good.
    Molly = Good.

    • Molly
      December 18, 2011 at 9:45 am #

      :-)

  14. rick
    December 18, 2011 at 6:02 am #

    we need educated people on the council, these fools are playing games with our money, and it needs to end…. mazzeo and nichols have tried to do the right thing for the tax payers but the rest of them just dont get it…. and why at this time with roberto leaving office are we passing important things thru, we should wait till bianchi comes in……… and is there any way we can stop their bad judgements from being law? we need to find a way of running this city with less councilors and more input from the tax payers….. i think the council position should be on a volunteer basis and no pay.. and at this time of the year i would like to see the council give some if not all the money we paid them back to the tax payers to help ease the tax increase…

  15. rick
    December 18, 2011 at 6:07 am #

    does any one out there know if we can recall any of these councilors if we see they are conncted to the g o b s?

  16. JUST SAYING
    December 18, 2011 at 7:56 am #

    With the exception of the truly handicapped, any and all who receive EBT must be made to perform community service and pass drug tests.

    • Molly
      December 18, 2011 at 9:48 am #

      Like :-)

  17. JUST SAYING
    December 18, 2011 at 8:02 am #

    Also, if a person is in fact caught abusing their EBT benefits, those benefits should be taken away from them for life. No exceptions.

    • Molly
      December 18, 2011 at 9:47 am #

      Good thought – something to look into…

    • Scott
      December 18, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

      Did you know it’s completely legal to buy alcohol with them? I think if you need food assistance you shouldn’t be using the money for booze. Matter of fact I’ve gotten food stamps before and I never even thought to use them for that purpose.

      • JUST SAYING
        December 18, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

        Scott-
        Yes I believe cigs and booze were in fact ok. People seem to have no problem swiping the card with their new iphone in the same hand while holding their new car keys in the other.
        Seem to remember a quote from B. Downing that restricting this be would wrong. (This was some time ago, if I have it wrong, sorry there easy pass downing, big government advocate that you are).
        People try to sell you EBT cards in front of a certain all hours store on first street.
        The abuse is unchecked, its been going on for many years.
        The big government libs will never stop it. Our present ‘leaders’ appear to advocate the theft from the taxpayers.
        The destruction of the middle class worker is almost complete. How will the society suckers live when the money stops being given to them? Most likely they will attempt to take what you have by whatever means they can.
        We are at a sad place in America, brought to us by bleeding heart libs.

        • Molly
          December 18, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

          Agree! I also wonder if it’s gone too far to fix and it just might have!!

        • Scott
          December 19, 2011 at 7:08 pm #

          Only people with children should benefit anyone who’s able to work and can live as a single adult shouldn’t get any assistance get out of bed and find work doing something and cigarettes and alcohol should not be able to be purchased but even then you’d have legit business’s illegally profiting off of the addictions of others.

  18. CONCERNED
    December 19, 2011 at 5:41 am #

    Agree Molly so maybe we should put a new one in place, then throw out the old abused one.

  19. Disdain for the People
    December 24, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

    “Still others, probably well more than one out of every two citizens now, can be classified in some category of … what do we call it? … undesirable, freeloading, bummery, riff-raff? These are the ones who live off of welfare, do drugs, and get a free ride. To be sure, there’s a legitimate need to provide a temporary helping hand to honest, good people who have been knocked down, but we can no longer afford to fund the lifestyles of a growing number of deadbeats who have clearly chosen Pittsfield as their Shangri-La.”

    Do you personally know these people? I didn’t think so. Yet, you allege that there is well over 20,000 people in Pittsfield that are worthless and no good to the City? Why do you look at half the population, that you don’t even know, with such contempt and disdain?