NILAN-MOORE PRETRIAL HEARING POSTPONED TO MAY 2 … PARKS COMMISSION GETS SMART, APPROVES RAMDELL ‘TOBY II’ DOG WALK PERMIT, 5-0 … VOTE INCLUDES THE TAINTED COMMISSIONER, MR. NILAN … PLANET ATTENDS, JUST TO MAKE SURE EVERYTHING WAS DONE NICE AND PROPER … plus … THE PERMITTING PROCESS IN PITTSFIELD: A KAFKA-ESQUE NIGHTMARE
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE IN NILAN-MOORE CASE POSTPONED TO MAY 2
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21, 2012) — We were all set to post today’s entry on THE PLANET when we learned that the Nilan-Moore Case pretrial conference, originally slated today in District Court, was postponed to 9 a.m., May 2.
A court spokesperson said the postponement was the result of an out-of-court agreement reached yesterday between the office of Worcester County Assistant District Attorney Joseph Qunilan, representing We The People for the prosecution, and Tim Shugrue, Meredith Nilan‘s attorney.
THE PLANET will be trying to get more on the reasons for the delay. Stay tuned.
We will add this interesting bit of information. When we called the office of DA David Capeless for the time of today’s (now canceled) pretrial conference, his spokesman, Fred Lantz, said the office didn’t know and that we should check with the Worcester DA. Lantz explained that Capeless had recused himself and that the special prosecutor was handling the case.
We asked Lantz words to the effect of: “Do you mean your office is out of the loop to such an extent that you can’t even tell me what time the hearing is or even if it is scheduled for today? is that what you’re telling me.”
“Yes,” came reply. That’s how far out of the loop Lantz says the DA’s office is on Nilan-Moore.
TOBY II UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED: LIKE THE MONSTER MASH, IT WAS OVER IN A FLASH
It was over in a flash, just like the Monster Mash. If you blinked, you missed it.
The Parks Commission unanimously approved Ken Ramsdell‘s application for the TOBY II Dog Walk (officially named with an alliterative title with a lot of “P”s in it). With THE PLANET sitting in the front row with gaze fixed and notarizing the proceedings with our Beautiful Mind, and with the small hearing room at city hall nearly full, chairman John Herman brought the item to the floor.
Clean Sweep Vote Includes Angelo Stracuzzi’s Best Friend, Clifford Nilan
There was no debate, discussion, or deliberation. No runs, not hits, no errors, and no one left on — The vote passed on unanimous consent, 5-0. Toby II will take place on April 15 at Kirvin Park, which has a dedicated dog area.
Among those saying “aye” was commissioner Clifford Nilan, looking tired and nervous but crisp in a white shirt and green tie (THE PLANET to Nilan: St. Patrick’s Day was four days ago). Nilan exhibited the furtive glances of a bird, twitching its head this way and that to see if it was safe to descend to the suet.
Neither Herman, Nilan, or any member of the commission acknowledged, made eye contact with, thanked, or otherwise gave any indication toward the people sitting in the room. This slight of citizens demonstrates the arrogance of too many elected and appointed officials in the city. We ask: Would it have spoiled some vast, eternal plan if the chair or someone on the panel had at least thanked the public for showing up? Or don’t they want the public to show up? Do they, rather, feel that the public is interfering with THEIR business? It’s a small thing, but the kind of which big things are ultimately composed.
Herman had to get in a little tweak, pulling his “Chairman” act before an after the minute or so it took to approve TOBY II. First, he expressed what sounded like mild surprise. Herman said he expected Ramsdell at the previous meeting. That would have been slightly impossible without a time machine. Then, after the unanimous consent vote, he lectured Ramsdel, pointing out that dogs will not be permitted on any of the playing fields — as if all dog owners are irresponsible louts.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, but you were talking to a man — Ken Ramsdell — who is perhaps the most conscientious citizen we have ever met in our long public and professional life. Ramsdell was not asked to speak, nor was he even thanked for sponsoring what will be a positive, uplifting, and fun event for the bedraggled citizens of Pittsfield.
Well, Ken Ramsdell, on behalf of the good citizens of Pittsfield and Berkshire County, THE PLANET thanks you.
Does anyone wonder why citizen morale is so low in town? It’s not because of a lack of beautiful, generous, good people. It’s because of Barney Fifes of the kind that populate too many boards, offices, and commissions — not because they do well in their posts but because they love to wear the deputy badge and give the Founders of Mayberry Parade Committee a working over.
Tippiecanoe and TOBY II — With or Without The Parks Commission Approval, A DOG WALK Would Have Taken Place on April 15
The perfunctory action of the Parks Commission is simple to fathom, actually — Herman, Nilan & Co., did not want ANY part of Mr. Ramsdell, nor did they envy the certain coverage in the following days thereafter had they given him the business (as Wally and Beaver used to say) or, worse, denied the permit. That coverage would have been in THE PLANET and possibly on Masslive.com, since all the other so-called news organizations in the city failed to attend the meeting.
THE PLANET spoke at length to Ramsdell prior to the meeting. We can say this much — Even if the commission had rejected his permit for TOBY II at Kirvin Park, there would have been a dog walk — unpermitted but allowable, as it were. That dog walk would have taken place on the same day, April 15, on Winesap Avenue in Pittsfield.
We will let be the issue of whether Nilan’s vote should have counted last night, given his relationship to an accused criminal hit-and-run driver, whose callousness or vapidity (is there a third possibility?) on the evening of Dec. 8, 2011, made TOBY II necessary.
Commissioners Chose the Easy Way, and Wisely
In fact, when you boiled down the possibilities to extract the nectar of probability, the commission had only two ways to play TOBY II: the Easy Way or the Hard Way. They chose the first. They knew better to try to run Ramsdell roughly into the boards. It wouldn’t have looked good in the blogs for about the next seven years. Plus, Ramsdell came well equipped and ready to rumble. He is a walking encyclopedia of protocol and procedure, and he carries Jetson-like devices to call up legions of information to do his bidding. He deals from facts, and most officials in the city don’t know how to handle a guy like that. Ask Terry Kinnas.
Not a switchblade was stirring, though, not even a shiv. The TOBY II business was all handled nice and polite — the way we prefer, in Bartleby style — all Kumbaya-like.
Of course, the real story here is that Ramsdell was forced to run the gauntlet of getting the city’s stinking forms filled out and signed by about 258 department heads and assistants. OK, not 258, but when you have to take a day off of work and run around all over the city to get signatures to walk your dog, something’s wrong there, Fido.
Apparently, it’s officially easier to mow down an innocent pedestrian and leave him for dead than it is to walk your dog in the city of Pittsfield. Let me share something with my Right Honorable Good Friends, the esteemed commissioners: No citizen needs a stinking permit to walk his dog.
Speaking of the insane process of conducting an innocent walking of your dog in the city of Pittsfield, we now bring in Ken Ramsdell, for this first hand account. Read this and see why no companies, businesses, enterprises, or firms that do any form of due diligence would ever want to do business with Pittsfield. All this is so a man can walk his dog.
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TAKING A WALK IN THE PARK IS NO WALK IN THE PARK
BY KEN RAMSDELL
Special to PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
Getting permission to have a walk in the park is anything but a walk in the park. That is if you live in the City of Pittsfield. You would think that the city would encourage the citizens to use and enjoy the parks that the citizens pay for. The health benefits alone should be enough, but — as with most things in life — the Government has set up a gauntlet to be maneuvered through that is not user friendly and is set up around the needs of the bureaucracy instead of the needs of the citizens the bureaucracy is supposed to and claims to serve.
As I have stated before, for the most part, the processors were nice people who were pleasant and helpful. But the process to use a park for a group of people together is out of line.
First one needs to go to City Hall and get a Special Event Permit Application, which also needs to be posted at the “event.” Remember, were talking about citizens meeting in a taxpayer-supported park to walk dogs. Once the who, whens, and wheres are completed, one must go to eight different offices scattered throughout the city to get sign offs. It’s like being in grammar school and needing your mom, aunt, uncle grandmother and at least one priest to sign the permission slip for the big field trip to the Balance Rock.
“This application must be brought in person to each department in the order listed below for sign-offs. Once all the sign offs have been received, this application will need to be returned to the Licensing Board Clerk in the City Clerk’s office for final approval” Huh? So who approves it, the Parks Commission or the Licensing Clerk?
The health department needs to sign off, but if there is no food, then why? As the health department approver put it — “all set no food”
The department of public works was next. They wrote: “Does not need PW for anything.”
Then it’s across the city to Hawthorne Street to garner the buildings and grounds approval.
Back in the car and up to Columbus Avenue to see the fire department. They explained they were cool, because there would be no food, no cooking, no fires.
Off to the police department. No officers needed for traffic control or security. Approval granted.
So to this point, I had spent some six hours running around the city to get “approvals” to have my dog and your dog walk in a community park. Not all the people with the proper credentials are in the office when you show up, so you need to make multiple trips back and forth.
Please bear in mind these signatures have to be gotten in person during normal business hours. Presumably you work as well to fund the parks. What do you do? Burn a vacation day? Call in sick? I scoured my employee handbook and there is only one way to complete this: take a personal day. A personal day with pay may not be available to everyone; could you afford to lose a day’s pay to get approval to walk your dog in your park?
Then when the above is completed, you submit it at least 45 days in advance so it gets put on the Parks Commission agenda. You must show up at the meeting.
Last night, the commission approved the request, adding yet another signature. No one acknowledge me or asked if I wanted a moment of their precious time to publicize the “Special Event.” Remember — they are the ones who request you complete this process. Wouldn’t you think it just a plain old fashioned courtesy for them to offer you the time to announce your event to the citizens?
One stop left. Now I must change my travel plans tomorrow to depart after the City Clerk’s office is open, because I need to get the sign-off of the Licensing Board, and they wont be open until 8:30 a.m.
I don’t want to just seem like I am complaining without solutions, so here are a few simple things that could be done to streamline the process.
- When you request a “Special Event Permit Application” the in-take worker could ask you a few standard and simple questions — Do you plan on serving food? Will you be cooking the food? Will you have a fire? Will you be setting up a tent or other structure? Depending upon the answers to those questions, the application would print out the Sign-offs needed.
- Once we have determined the sign-offs needed, an e-mail could be routed in the order the Licensing Board determines proper to the appropriate department head or signatory. It’s not complicated. At each stage, an e-mail would be generated by the system indicating Bob has signed it is now in Martha’s realm and so on. If business can function like this across continents, I have to think the city can across streets.
- Better yet let people use and enjoy the parks they pay for without being hassled.
Thanks to THE PLANET and its readers for all the support both in print and in person. I really did appreciate it, and I look forward to seeing you all at Kirvin Park in April on the 15.
Don’t let anyone ever tell you something was a walk in the park.
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So there you have it. The long, winding road — a tortuous one at that. None of it is necessary. The parks are paid for by and with taxes. Ramsdell and any other citizen should be able to enjoy the parks freely, without the bad breath of government halitosing over everyone.
Tell you what. Why don’t a bunch of us brings out bats, gloves, and balls, and play a pick up game of ball at Kirvin on April 15 — without a stinking permit. Who’s in?
THIS IS HUMP DAY, RIGHT, SO WHY AREN’T YOU OUT THERE HUMPING — ONE TIDE OF GLORY, ONE UNCLOUDED BLAZE, FOUND IN A SET OF SUPERIOR RAYS.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE”
LOVE TO ALL.