!EXCLUSIVE! PLANET PUBLISHES MEMO FROM PURCHASING AGENT TO ALF BARBALUNGA: ‘CITY DID EVERYTHING RIGHT IN ADULT CENTER LEASE, BUT JUDGE FORCES PLAN B AT HIBBARD’ … WHY NOT HIBBARD AS THE PERMANENT PLACE FOR ADULT LEARNING CENTER? … plus … KUFFLINKS KERWOOD TOADIES TO KEEP FIRST LADY FROM BOUNCING
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, JULY 20, 2012) — THE PLANET has obtained a copy of the following e-mail, from Alfred “Alf” Barbalunga, school committee chair, to members of his committee, council-committee liason Kevin Sherman, and Dupere, the committee’s $3,000-a-month law firm. The e-mail is actually the “forward” of a message sent to Barbalunga from Kristen Behnke, school department administrator, who has a purchasing role.
The subject is the controversial pulling of the school department’s lease from a building owned by Phil Massery on Lyman Street. The committee voted not to renew the lease with Massery, getting what it judged to be a far better lease arrangement on North Street, saving taxpayers many thousands of dollars in the process. It looked like Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski, the bedraggled Pittsfield taxpayers, might finally win one. God forbid.
On July 2, THE PLANET had this story:
LEARNING ABOUT DOLLARS — When the city decided to pull the Adult Learning Center out of its long-standing address on Lyman Street in a building owned by Phil Massery, it did so to save some bucks. Massery charged the city $52,800 a year. The five-year lease at 141 North Street, just across the street from THE PLANET’s home of 25 years in theShipton Building, will cost $45,800 a year — $7,000 a year and a savings of $35,000 over the term of the lease. Not so fast. As reported in The Pittsfield Gazette, councilors who voted for the switch noted “the pact would save the city $21,000 per year when the rent increases hit for the Lyman Street [location].” Woah. If those figures are accurate, that amounts to $105,000 a year in savings. The council approved the move, 7-4. No brainer, with such a steep increase in rent. Opponents argued that prime downtown real estate should be reserved for retail and not for more social services. They got a point, but that was an argument that was needed years ago, before the horses left the barn and downtown Pittsfield got Ad-Lib, the bus station, Juvenile Courts, and other social-service “black holes.”
So the city would save $105,000 over the course of the lease. Great deal, eh?
“Hold on, thar,” yelled an activist judge, who overturned the lease at Massery’s request. Massery had problems with the reqeust-for-proposal process (RFP), as outlined in the memo from Behnke to Barbalunga:
—– 00 —–
It has been a disappointing end to the week but I am making plans to deal with this unexpected outcome. I spoke briefly with the owner of 141 North Street, Giora Witkowski, to inform him of the situation. Our next course of legal action through the city solicitor will guide where we go from here, but I am making plans to rebid the lease. We may win on appeal but it may take months before that concludes, and in the meantime we need to have a place to hold classes in the fall if we have to move out of 141 North Street. Our plan B at this point is to temporarily relocate to Hibbard School, pending a new lease. Real estate is required to be advertised for at least 30 days in a state publication which next publishes on July 25. I am already working on revised RFP language taking the Judge’s order into account, but realistically, we are looking at the September 15 to October 1 start date for a new lease due to the 30-day advertising requirement.
I will be checking email periodically while I am away and will keep you informed of any developments. As it stands now the new RFP will be released on July 25.
School Business Administrator
Pittsfield Public Schools
269 First Street
Pittsfield, MA 01201
Kufflinks tells the BB of Michelle Obama’s trip: “I offered any assistance to make sure her trip was pleasurable.” Oh, Lord, won’t you buy me a bottle of ipecac?
Seems that Kufflinks toadied up to the state’s request to have the potholes filled up in Duval‘s “second home” town of Richmond so the First Lady wouldn’t have to worry about bouncing if her limo hit a road dimple.
The Boston Herald broke the story:
Deval Patrick’s office personally asked town officials to dispatch road crews this week to fill potholes near his Berkshires mansion to pave the way for a smooth ride for first lady Michelle Obama when she hits the Bay State for a presidential fundraiser at the governor’s getaway next month.
Richmond Town Administrator Matthew Kerwood said a staffer from the governor’s State House office called this week and asked him to plug potholes on Cone Hill Road, which leads to Patrick’s Sweet P Farm, where he’s hosting a $20,000-a-seat dinner on Aug. 3 with the first lady for the Obama Victory Fund.
“They just mentioned the condition of the road and requested if it could be addressed,” said Kerwood. “I said, ‘OK, we’ll look at it.’ ”
The stretch of road in question apparently lies in neighboring West Stockbridge, and that town’s administrator, Mark Webber, said he got a call from Kerwood yesterday asking if he would repair the road — and “prior to the visit would be nice.”
“It’s on the list, but it wasn’t a priority,” Webber said of repairs he claims will cost only “couple hundred” dollars. “That’s one of those spots we had planned to fix. Now we’ll just fix it a couple weeks sooner.”
Also in Today’s Boston Herald:
Both town administrators insisted the West Stockbridge side of Cone Hill Road would be filled in, but a Herald reporter and photographer found the road in good shape. Neighbors said it was resurfaced last month. But nearby roads, including Furnace Road — which leads to the governor’s manse — contained bumps and holes.
Webber and Kerwood insisted the governor’s request was paved with good intentions.
“It’s not a big deal,” said Webber. “A couple of tons of blacktop, a couple of hundred bucks.”
“To me, he’s a resident,” Kerwood said of the governor. “He has the same rights and privileges as anyone else in town.”
Spokespeople for both Patrick’s administrative and campaign staff did not return calls and emails seeking comment.
But some of Patrick’s neighbors rolled their eyes at the effort to ensure Michelle Obama avoids a bumpy Berkshires ride.
“The roads are fine,” said Jim Sacksteder, 67, who lives on Patrick’s street. “I’m sure (Michelle Obama’s) got shock absorbers. It’s unnecessary.”
“They’re like natural speed bumps,” said neighbor Karen Andrews, 55, who worried about tar fumes. “I’m chemically sensitive. … I don’t want it paved. It makes me ill.”
—– 00 —–
Karen, you’re not the only one made ill by what goes on in the name of We The People.
OUR WORDS OF LOVE AND AWE, THE WONDROUS STORY / OF HOW ALL THINGS ARE TRANSFIGURED, EXCEPT LOVE / FOR DEAF AS IS A SEA, THE WORLD WILL BE MADE TO HEAR THE SWEET NOTES THAT MOVE THE MELODY TO LOVERS.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.