Article

IS THE ROOF CAVING IN ON WHAT APPEARS TO BE AN ‘INSIDER’ DEAL GIVEN TO SCHOOL ASST. SUPT. COTE’s SECRETARY, LYNN WHITNEY, ON FREE SLAVE LABOR FROM THS VOCATIONAL CARPENTRY STUDENTS? … KINNAS SNIFFS OUT AN EGREGIOUS CASE OF APPARENT INSIDER TRADING … CITY COUNCIL WONDERS: HOW THE HECK DID WE GET INVOLVED? … JUST ANOTHER “OIP” — “ONLY IN PALOOKAVILLE,” WHERE MARY JANE AND JOE KAPANSKI GET SCREWED

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, SEPT. 28, 2012) — This story bears watching. On Tuesday this week, the city council entertained an unusual communication, listed on the agenda as No. 8:

A communication from Frank K. Cote, Assistant Superintendent, Pittsfield Public Schools, submitting an Order authorizing the City of Pittsfield to enter into a construction contract for the purpose of promoting vocational education for students at Taconic High School.

Sounds good, right? Ah, my friends, but this is Pittsfield, and the item has a peculiar redolence to it. One question immediately becomes apparent: Why is the city council being asked to vote on an item that should be before the school committee? You won’t like the answer.

This little caper shows how “the law” routinely finds itself abused by those in power and those with access to those in power.

Deep Behind the Scenes, Where They Are Used to No One Watching

The stinky saga began, as most things do in the city, deep behind the scenes and, while officially in the public’s notice, it remained practically invisible except to the inside players, the way it has for many years prior. That’s how they like it: Keep taxpayers dumb and ignorant while they go to work cherry picking.

On April 13, 14, 15, and 16 of this year, the Pittsfield Public Schools ran a “Public Notice” ad in the Boring Broadsheet reading as follows:

Pittsfield Public Schools’ Carpentry Program is seeking a sponsor for the 2012-2013 school year. Scope of work may include; [sic] new house construction, additions to existing homes, renovations, or garages. These programs exclude roofing. Prospective applications should apply in writing to: Frank K. Cote, Assistant Superintendent of Vocation, Workforce and College Readiness Pittsfield Public Schools 269 First Street Pittsfield, MA 02102[.] No phone calls please. Deadline for applications is April 27th, 2012.

Apart from the horrible punctuation misusage, the ad seems innocuous enough, advertising fuzzily for projects on which the carpentry students will work. Keep in mind the bidding for this work is theoretically open to the general public. The deal is you supply the materials and the students build it, free of charge, although the ad doesn’t tell you that latter part (for good reason, as you shall discover).

On April 25, Cote received this application letter. It was only one of two he received.

—– 00 —–

7 Old Cheshire Rd PO Box 25

Lanesborough, MA 01237

Frank K. Cote, Assistant Superintendent [etc.]

Dear Mr. Cote:

Please consider this an application in regard to the Public Notice dated April 13, 2012 for a new house construction for the Carpentry program at Taconic High School. I own a six-acre parcel of land on Brickhouse Mountain Road in Pittsfield, MA. The land is flat, cleared and has been surveyed. I am very much interested in having a one-story, ranch-style home with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, two-car garage and a small front porch construction on this property. It would have vinyl siding, one fireplace, granite countertops and wood cabinets, with a combination of hardwood, ceramic and carpet for flooring. After reviewing the logistics of this job and it is acceptable to both parties, I can then enter into a contract between the Pittsfield Public School and myself.

Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

Lynn K. Whitney

attachment

—– 00 —–

A Little Inside Wheeling and Dealing, Perhaps?

Ah, still most all well and good (except for Whitney’s avoidance of the serial comma) She sounds like a public-spirited citizen who wants to help out the carpentry program. A couple of things do seem odd, though. Whitney refers to “the Carpentry program at Taconic High School.” Where in the ad is the school specified? How did Whitney know that? Did she have inside information?

On the attachment that has her completed application, we see this line:

EMPLOYED BY: Pittsfield Public Schools

Does that send up a red flag? No, then consider that Lynn Whitney is Frank Cote’s secretary. We repeat: Lynn Whitney is Frank Cote’s secretary. What we have, then, is the secretary of the person advertising the bidding applying for and receiving the construction free work on a $250,000 home (value not including the land). We have another OIP! — Only in Pittsfield!

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but, lo and behold, in the loaded “competition,” Whitney was awarded the contract: free slave labor from the students in the carpentry program at THS.

From the vast universe of eligible bidders for free construction work, for which only two applied the bid goes to the superintendent’s secretary! The other bid, we learned, was filed by the Office of Community Development for work on a city building.

Free Carpentry Work? Works Fine for Lynn Whitney

Nowhere in the original ad does it state that students shall work for free, but Whitney would be in a position to know that little tidbit, working as she does for Cote. You think there would be more applicants if it were to become routinely known that it includes free construction work? Answer: A resounding yes.

Is that why the GOB hid the innocuously worded ad in agate in the Boring Broadsheet (yes, Cote is a member of the GOB by virtue of his position; no one gets to that rank in Pittsfield without being vetted by Them)? Whitney would know when the ad was placed, exactly what it included, and for the magic price of “free.” Note too that the date of her letter, April 25, is only two days before deadline. Was this done with knowledge that only one other proposal had been received and that hers would receive (a) no more competition and (b) a favorable response.

It gets worse. As the ad states, the work shall not include roofing. However, when the schools awarded the contract to Cote for the free work, the specs on the job were miraculously changed, after the fact, the include roofing. As an attachment to the contract drawn up “between the Pittsfield Public Schools (herinafter ‘District’) and Lynn Whitney (hereinafter ‘Owner’)” work on her manse “shall occur on or about September 10, 2012 in Pittsfield. Said plans may not be changed with a change order request signed by the Owner and the District.”

Hmmm, that latter stipulation seems to have prevented no hurdle to Whitney (Owner) and Cote (District), as we see on an addendum to the contract: “TACONIC HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR: Roofing, frame floor system/install subfloor, install steel I-Beams (metal fabrication), install stairs to basement, install hatchway cover, frame exterior/interior walls, sheathe exterior walls, install roof trusses/sheathe roof, install vented soffits/fascias/rakes, install windows and exterior doors, install house wrap, install insulation, install drywall, tape closets and garage, install interior doors, install trim at doors and windows, install hardwood floors and apply baseboards, install kitchen cabinets, install bath vanities, install siding, landscaping (PHS Horticulture), primer walls.”

That short list or work shall be paid for by Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski (hereinafter “Taxpayers” hereinafter-after “Suckers”). “Roofing” is the first item mentioned on the list. Back to the ad put in by Cote, Whitney’s boss: “These projects exclude roofing.”

We’re supposed to think, what, that all this is an innocent mistake or a coincidence of a leviathan order? This being Pittsfield, and this sort of crud having been done to taxpayers without consequences for years, we’re sure “They” never thought they would get caught or be called for this type of outrageous end run.

“They” thought wrongly. First, there’s at least one member of the school committee who is sharp enough and morally sound enough to catch and call out on this sort of thing. His name is Terry Kinnas. Second, there’s now something other than the Boring Broadsheet as a daily source of news and commentary, which means the GOB no longer can control stories like this.

By the way, back the list, outside of roofing, why is the installation of steel I-beams and metal fabrication on the list? That’s not a carpentry matter? And landscaping by “PHS Horticulture”?

TERRY KINNAS: Of the People, By the People, and For the People.

Moreover, there was no place on the contract for the city solicitor to attest to its legality. Signatories are the Pittsfield Schoool Committee, “By its Chairperson” [that would be Alf Barbalunga, for those keeping score at home] and “Owner.”

Apparently, this is the way the vocational work has been doled out in Pittsfield for years. We only know about it this time because of the work of Kinnas.

At a school board meeting on Aug. 22, when this matter came before the school committee, Kinnas, and Kinnas alone, noticed that while the original ad specified no roofing, the actual job contract included roofing. He had a problem with that. Then, when Kinnas investigated further, he learned Whitney’s true identity as Cote’s secretary. Whitney wasn’t a Mary Jane Kapanski, someone without connections or clout. She was someone hard-wired into Cote’s office. That didn’t bother Barbalunga, Kathy Yon, Kathleen Amuso, Jim Conant, or Dan Elias, Kinnas’ colleagues on the committee (Mayor Dan Bianchi, also a member of the committee, wasn’t present when the vote was taken). They were all set to rubber stamp this foul deal.

Think about this, ladies and gentleman. Without the voice of one lone crusader fighting for taxpayers, this assault on the moral dignity of the Body Politick would have been signed, sealed, and delivered, and you wouldn’t have known a thing about it. We wonder: How many times in the past have they pulled the wool over your eyes?

Contract 1, Contract 2, Contract 3: Will the Real Agreement Please Stand Up

Kinnas said he met four times with city solicitor Kathy Degnan, and she ultimately agreed with him there was a problem. Instead of voiding the contract, however, she rewrote it to agree to the original specs in the ad! That’s like a student writing her essay first and the the perfect outline, after, to match, like a set of well-crafted dueling pistols. We are not lawyers, though we sometimes have to play one in court, but does anyone else have an ethical if not legal issue with this sort of after-the-fact reverse contractual engineering?

The rewritten contract (Contract #2) was the one that went before our Right Honorable Good Friends on the city council on Tuesday, who were baffled as to why they were dealing with a school matter. The answer to that, it seems, is that because Whitney is an employee of the schools, the school committee can’t vote on it. How’s that for irony: The school committee, which was prepared to vote on it, now can’t, because Whitney works for them, and yet she, as the secretary of the person placing the ad, can bid on and “win” the contract, and that’s OK?

THE PLANET offers some free advice to councilors: Don’t touch this with a 20-foot Wallenda balancing beam, because this is going to come back to bite them hard.

Late word just in before we went to press is that the contract has yet again been rewritten (Contract #3). Version #3 surfaced last night at the school committee hearing, we are told. We don’t know more at this time but shall try to find out. This means that the city council had before it a contract that has since been invalidated, one that had previously invalidated an earlier (and first) version. What a fine mess, as Oliver Hardy would say.

Confused? You have every right to be. It boils down to insider trading, and that cannot be allowed to stand.

City council president, our Right Honorable Good Friend Kevin Sherman, is also a bit baffled, since in his memory (and in fact, in the institutional memory of any of the old timers we asked), the council has never been asked to vote on a school department matters.

In response to a series of questions from THE PLANET, Sherman had this to say, in its entirety and verbatim:

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CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT KEVIN SHERMAN

The council voted to file the item.  My understanding coming in was that there was direction from the state Ethics Commission indicating that the City Council should take a vote on the measure despite having never done so in past years.  I may have looked confused at times due to the fact that apparently there is no written directive available for viewing.  Some concern from the Council was that we should, at minimum, have an understanding of why the item was before us and what our legal role is on the vote.  I was not expecting the bidder to rise from the audience to add to the discussion, which may have also caused me to look surprised [EDITOR'S NOTE: SHERMAN REFERS HERE TO WHITNEY SPEAKING FROM THE FLOOR ON THE CONTRACT DURING DEBATE, ALSO AN UNPRECEDENTED PROCEDURE. OUR QUESTION: WHY WAS SHE GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK? DID COUNCIL CALL ON HER OR DID SHE DO THIS ON HER OWN OR SOMEONE ELSE'S ORDER?].

Another concern was the fact that the contract before us was not the same as the one originally presented to the School Committee.  The change in the contract, as I understand it, was not minor or cosmetic in nature (such as misspellings or administrative items) and therefore it did not seem appropriate for us to be voting on a proposal that was altered from its original state according to the bid that was awarded.  It was also my understanding that the School Committee has this item on the agenda tonight (9/27) to clear up any bidding or contract issues and/or to revisit the entire proposal.  With the above information, the Council unanimously voted to file the proposal and we will be happy to revisit it if put back before us.  

However, it would be helpful to know why the Ethics Commission concluded that this would be a matter before the Council when it has not been in the past.  I would not want to vote without knowing the extent of our powers and/or liability.  Currently we have no direction on that front. 

As far as the specs and bidding, I don’t have specifics on that as I was not involved.  I won’t speak for anyone but myself and having not spoken personally with Mr. Cote nor the bidder to this point, I am currently concerned with the perception of conflict of interest on this matter.  I assume the Ethics Commission has ruled that it is legal but I have no written evidence of that.  

As noted previously, this is the Council’s first time addressing this matter that I can recall as it is typically reviewed and approved by the School Committee.  

—– 00 —–

[EDITOR'S NOTE 2: IN ANSWER TO OUR QUESTION OF WHY WHITNEY WAS ALLOWED TO SPEAK, SHERMAN THIS MORNING CLARIFIED: "As a point of clarification regarding your editor's note, Ms. Whitney stood and  indicated that she could clear up questions being asked by the Council regarding the missing Ethics Commission ruling.  I indicated that if any Councilors had questions for her, then she may respond.  I concluded that the questions or uncertainty surrounding the Ethics ruling which had already been expressed by the Council constituted questions for her as she indicated she may have the answers.  Thus the reason I allowed the conversation." THE PLANET THANKS OUR RIGHT HONORABLE GOOD FRIEND FOR THIS CLARIFICATION].

The underlines are those of THE PLANET’s, meant to highlight the incredible situation that was unfairly dropped in councilor’s laps. They had no advance warning, no written directives, and here they’re being asked to vote on a highly questionable contract. They did right to file it, and again, would do well not to touch this again.

As THE PLANET understands this, in his position as mayor, Dan Bianchi has to sign off on this deal. The city solicitor also has to sign. We urge them to refuse. We urge the city council to reject this on the grounds of failing the smell test. Regardless of the legalities or illegalities, if Whitney wins this bid, it creates the perception of favoritism and a rigged deck.

There is only one just solution: Rebid the work,  allowing everyone to know the terms, and see what happens. School department employees should automatically be excluded from bidding. Blow up the whole thing and start from scratch.

We wonder, in years past, how much free labor was awarded from student slave labor for members of the school department and other “connected” people. This is the kind of egregious lack of accountability on the part of Pittsfield Public Schools’ procedures has been frosting taxpayers in the butt for years.

———————————————————–

WITH ASPECT OPEN, WE SHALL RAISE OUR HEAD AND ROUND THE ORB IN LASTING NOTES SHALL BE READ.

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

60 Responses to “IS THE ROOF CAVING IN ON WHAT APPEARS TO BE AN ‘INSIDER’ DEAL GIVEN TO SCHOOL ASST. SUPT. COTE’s SECRETARY, LYNN WHITNEY, ON FREE SLAVE LABOR FROM THS VOCATIONAL CARPENTRY STUDENTS? … KINNAS SNIFFS OUT AN EGREGIOUS CASE OF APPARENT INSIDER TRADING … CITY COUNCIL WONDERS: HOW THE HECK DID WE GET INVOLVED? … JUST ANOTHER “OIP” — “ONLY IN PALOOKAVILLE,” WHERE MARY JANE AND JOE KAPANSKI GET SCREWED”

  1. Ed
    September 28, 2012 at 8:19 am #

    Suggest that Dan and those interested, go to the city’s web site, click on city depts., open the city clerk’s office page, and link to the conspicuously placed: “Conflict of Interest Law Mandatory Summary”. “On-Line Ethics training”.
    Take the simple ethics training course that is required of municipal employees and officials’ and draw your own conclusions regarding this issue.
    The city also has its own Code of Conduct manual, issued by the city clerk.
    Very Interesting.

  2. taxmano
    September 28, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    Anybody who knows Frank knows that he may very well be the most incompetent hack of all the incompetent hacks in the school department GOB network. King Jake III (and much of the school committee, excepting Mr. Kinnas, of course) appointed Frank for his years of being Jake’s lackey, not because Frank was qualified for the postion.

  3. Teecha teecha
    September 28, 2012 at 8:58 am #

    I say award the contract as they wished and donate the proceeds of the house sale to the school program

  4. joetaxpayer
    September 28, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    With the need for money for these programs, it boogles my mind that they don’t charge something for this service.I think 5 to 10 thousand is fair. It is a win win for both sides.

    • Debbie
      September 30, 2012 at 7:49 am #

      This is total Bulls–t!! The city of Pittsfield has lots of empty dumpy homes that the Taconic Vocational Program can fix up!…who the hell does Mr. Cote and Lynn Whitney think they are? …………………..Just for labor alone it would be around $40,000 – $60,000. And to get it for free, I don’t think so…………………nice try!!!………………..Let’s call the Berkshire Eagle and post an Ad for free Labor for construction and see how many people would be interested.

      • danvalenti
        September 30, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

        DEBBIE
        Yes. “Total BS.” It must be stopped.

  5. Tim Bartini
    September 28, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    Dan, My son is a senior carpentry student at Taconic. Last year they renovated a apartment on Linden St. Thanks to this screw up ,he will not be able to work on “New” construction until at least January. There are not many new homes being built, due to the economy,so by rebidding they may not get more bids. I say find out if this bid is legal ASAP so that the students can get the work experience of building a new home.

    • levitan
      September 28, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

      Sorry for the inconvenience to your son’s education and professional development – I trust he will find his way. If there is no “oh of course” alternative argument, I agree this story looks like an inside deal and unethical. Your son would appear to be another wronged party in this situation.

  6. Judas Priest
    September 28, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    Unbelievable but as DV says, “OIP” Only in Palookaville. How can the guy secretary even be allowed to bid? Why is that not a HUGE conflict of interest? How much did the general public know about this? Did they know the work would be done free?As article points out doesn’t look like anyone but Frank Cote’s secrtary knew. She bids she wins. My plea to school committee, mayor, and city council which will probably get this back: Rebid the work, you can’t allow this to happen. As Kevin Sherman says it at minimum creates the perception of a phony rigged system. At worst its illegal and there will be penalties.

  7. Mitt Romney
    September 28, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    If you ask city lawyer Degnan she will tell you nothing that average joe can tell you right now. It’s not right an should be rebid

  8. Ron Kitterman
    September 28, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    Sounds a little bit like Habitat for Humanity Mitt Romney style to me

  9. Are We Dreaming?
    September 28, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

    A taxpayer nightmare. Thanks to Terry Kinnas and Dan Valenti we at least know once in a while when they’re sticking it to us.

  10. Scott
    September 28, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

    Damn that’s bs.

  11. Dave
    September 28, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    I think it is pretty obvious why the Ethics Commission wants the city council to make the decision. If the owner works for the school department, then common sense says she may have an unfair advantage in the bidding process if the school committee were to make the final decision. They probably would feel there would be less of a conflict if the city council made the call. Remember, the Ethics Commission probably make decisions based on normalcy, they can’t possibly know everything in this city is so toxically intertwined. I feel bad for the kids and hope things work out for the best. Taking bets on which councillor is the first to bring up “making the best of a bad situation” as they vote to let this go through.

    • Judas Priest
      September 29, 2012 at 8:30 am #

      I hope the city council reads this: DO not allow this to happen, please. Please look out for us, the hard working taxpaying people, and reject this use of carpentry students to build a house for free for the secretary of the asst supt. Please Mr. Sherman and councilors, do the right thing here by your constitutents.

  12. Giacometti
    September 28, 2012 at 11:52 pm #

    to Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski:

    Every day when you pick up your newspapers you buy a lottery ticket hoping to win money…everybody does it…but they seldom win because the odds are against you…you are competing with thousands of others in Massachusetts to win $ 10 or 20 or 100 dollars…but wait…what if you could fill out a free form that you can pick up at the Library or at the Mayor’s Office and write a simple letter asking for that $ 10 or 20 or 100 dollars…heck you can ask for up to $ 2,000 dollars…would you do it ? You would only be competing with say 50 other citizens for your chance at winning the big bucks…sure you would do it…

    Well here’s the story…between September 15th and October 15th each year ( THAT’S NOW ) the State of Massachusetts gives money away to citizens who apply for Cultural Council Grants…the money comes directly out of the Mega Bucks Game…so it’s like going for the leftover cash…all you have to do is sign your name to the application and propose a project that you will do to be awarded the money ( read poetry in a nursing home or school….or teach wood carving at the Boy’s and Girl’s Club…or knitting classes in nursing homes…the sky is the limit….and you will get paid by the Council Council for your time. It’s as simple as that.

    Nobody tells you about this free cash from the Mass Lottery because they want the money for themselves or their friends…
    but it’s out there for you Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski if you just take the time to apply ( the GOB’s are hoping you don’t know about this and therefore you won’t apply by the Oct 15th deadline )

    psst…keep it under your hat this is on a need to know basis !

    you MUST mail the application back to the Pittsfield Cultural Council or any other Cultural Council in over 300 communities
    around the State by the October 15th deadline or you will be ineligible…contact the Mayor’s Office or the front desk at the library for your application and more information. Good Luck !

    • Scott
      September 29, 2012 at 5:29 am #

      Are the people that get this money the same people who look down on a family for getting food stamps or a single mom getting section 8 and college tuition?

      • taxmano
        September 29, 2012 at 8:24 am #

        @Scott,
        Are you saying you’re in favor of these programs? Are you the same Scott who is the Scott Brown supporter? If so, methinks there is great inconsistency here.
        A Brown victory might very well mean a Republican-controlled senate. Since the Republicans have been hijacked by the teabaggers (sic), these programs would be in grave danger. With a Republican controlled Senate, Brown would be under tremendous pressure to vote even more in-line with right-wing interest than he already does. Only a Warren victory could prevent this.

        • Scott
          September 29, 2012 at 10:47 am #

          I have criticized Scott Brown on this forum for being against the very programs he benefited from as a child. That being said I can’t vote for Warren. Look at her stats her answer to crime is tougher guns laws she’s a smart woman I’m sure when it comes to law but an idiot in her stance on guns, violence and drugs. I will not cast a vote for anyone who want’s more gun laws in a state that already has the toughest or opposes the medicinal use of marijuana. You can criticize my stance but it won’t change anything.

        • Scott
          September 29, 2012 at 10:50 am #

          And yes I am in favor for these programs for people who need them. A Brown victory will not eliminate these programs that is misinformation.

          • taxmano
            September 29, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

            @Scott,

            A Brown victory won’t eliminate these programs immediately, but, for reasons I explicated above, make Ryan-esque decimation of the New Deal much more likely in the Senate.

  13. dusty
    September 29, 2012 at 1:10 am #

    Big shout out for Mr Kinnas. The man has integrity and balls. There are probably about six people in the city with this combination of attributes.

    Long time ago I know that connected folk could get free car repair work done at Taconic. And that included auto body work. Yes the kids need cars to work on but they were not able to touch Mr Kapinskis car. He was not special enough for freebies even though his taxes were high and going up every year.

    As far as this deal goes, I agree, blow it up. And let’s talk about those who facilitated it and why. The mayor should be very careful if he endorses this because it could stain him permanently.

    Let’s see some serious outrage.

  14. AMBROSE
    September 29, 2012 at 6:04 am #

    a past superintendent and prior to that as an assistant superntendent had all of his auto work performed at THS. the rule was and probably still is, THS teachers first, then other school dept employees. Of course the mercer school folks and the school committee had special priority. Rank has its privlages, or is it privileges.

    • Judas Priest
      September 29, 2012 at 8:41 am #

      Ambrose is right about that. Ask Jake the Snake how much free car work he got done. Ask the other administration and certain other school dept employees. Gosh I am so sick of this atmospjhere of poison in city govt.

    • taxmano
      September 29, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

      @Ambrose,
      Do you mean King Jake III and his Scott Brown-like pick-up truck?

    • Tired of BS
      September 30, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

      It was the same at McCann Tech when our son was a student there and might still be the same. Faculty, students and family members were able to get their cars done for parts only.

      • danvalenti
        September 30, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

        TIRED
        This sort of insider trading is wrong. It must be stopped. Pittsfield now has a perfect opportunity to stop it. The city council has this now, and it should be shot down.

  15. Berkshire Ex-Pat
    September 29, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    As PLANET VALENTI reminds us on a regular basis, Pittsfield stinks. I’m 300 miles upwind and I can smell the stench of entrenched GOB’s picking clean the festering carcass of a once great city. Want to solve Pittsfield’s problems? Take a lesson from New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina- fill it with water and then start over.

  16. tito
    September 29, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    Attention….This weeks winner of the King of the Swamp’ award goes to , for the quote “it’s not illegal to be illegal”, congratulations joetaxpayer!

  17. Gene
    September 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    Let me second and third those who have praised Mr. Kinnas for his tireless efforts for taxpayers. He’s the only one who bothers doing his job on that school board including the chairman. Also appreciate The Planet site as do many of my out of town family and friends. I also agree with those who asking the city council to refuse to grant this free work to the secretary of the man whos authorizing the work. Bad bad bad.

  18. Beacon Hill Mob
    September 29, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

    Dan,

    Want the whole dirty story?

    Talk to Voc students from THS over the last 40 years.

  19. PITTSFIELD BELIEVER
    September 29, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

    Things must be desperate for Romney campaign. Valenti was in Virginia yesterday and today then today in Pennsylvania. We say things are hard up for Mitt the Loser because Valenti had to fly commercial out of Albany. No more Romney Lear jet at the Pittsfield airport. Way to go Dan. Keep doing the job for Mitt the Loser. Oh, and why will you be in Colorado on Wed?

    • Scott
      September 30, 2012 at 4:47 am #

      Give us your opinion on the secretary getting the work for free is that a conflict of interest? IF Dan is writing for Romney who cares he’s at least earning his money. I’m not voting for Romney and if Dan is writing for him well good for him.

    • danvalenti
      September 30, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

      PB
      We leave your ridiculous posts up so show the true nature of my so-called “critics.” Critics I respect, for they offer studious and well-intentioned feedback. You we do not respect, for your blind, political ideology. What’s the point of these foolish remarks? Please tell us.

      • PITTSFIELD BELIEVER
        September 30, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

        What’s the point? The point is that you are helping this man Lose. Deny it. You’re out straight between now and Wednesday helping Romney in the debate that night. He’s floudering and you’re a big part of it. Sure your making a fortune off it but you like to pretend your the voice of the little guy and the Kapinskis but your working for a blue blood. The point is that if you help a Loser lose you must be a loser.

        • Scott
          October 1, 2012 at 4:26 am #

          Dan, you shouldn’t let people post unless they use their real name. I hate idiots like this who call people out but use anonymous names it’s ridiculous.

    • Tired of BS
      September 30, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

      Talk about having an agenda! People are commenting on the topic and out of the blue comes this post. Very bizarre.

  20. tito
    September 29, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

    It’s hard to beat Bedard’s!

  21. Evian
    September 29, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

    PB is a jerk! Give it up, you loser.

  22. GMHeller
    September 30, 2012 at 3:49 am #

    Mr. Valenti,
    This is reminiscent of the no-bid sweetheart contracts Pittsfield Public Works Department for years entered into with Petricca Construction Company.
    The job could be street reconstruction, or sewer installation, or sidewalk reconstruction, etc. — it didn’t matter how big nor how costly.
    These were projects each costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes more than a million, yet there was never any serious effort made by city officials, the awarding authority, to advertise these projects properly in order to obtain the lowest competitive bid.
    Petricca ALWAYS had the inside straight.
    It sure looks like things haven’t changed much, at least over at the Pittsfield Public Schools.
    The Mayor and/or DA Capeless should immediately launch an investigation.
    Further, both Asst. School Superintendent Frank Cote along with his secretary, Lynn Whitney, should be placed on leave OR EVEN TERMINATED from city employ for obviously cooking up this sleazy scheme by which the secretary would net a newly-constructed house free of the labor costs of construction.
    (Is there more to the Cote/Whitney relationship than just that of boss/secretary?)
    Further, does anyone doubt that, except for Terry Kinnas (and the Mayor), the school committee — Alfred Barbalunga, Jr., Kathy Yon, Kathleen Amuso, Jim Conant, and Dan Elias, may all have been in on this?

    • Debbie
      September 30, 2012 at 7:09 am #

      If Alfred Barbalunga had anything to do with it, It smells! If you all recall when he was a Probation Officer in Northern Berkshire he was allowing probationer’s to do CS at his own home (slave labor for free) and then marking it off in the probation books as CS served! Just another shady scam by Pittsfield’s finest. Great work Mr. Kinnas keep your eyes open for the tax payers. As far as Lynn Whitney shame on you! taking advantage of young children……. THIS ISN’T CHINA!!!!!

      • danvalenti
        September 30, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

        DEBBIE
        Kinnas is the hero of this story so far.

  23. FPR
    September 30, 2012 at 4:56 am #

    Chalk one up for Terry Kinnas!

    How safe is his job on the school committee now?

    • danvalenti
      September 30, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

      Kinnas’ job on the school committee has been solidified. People know he is out for them and not the GOB. This assures his re-election, should he decide to re-up in 2013.

      • Joe Blow
        September 30, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

        I would love to see Mr. Kinnas run for mayor! I had high hopes for Bianchi but he turned out to be more of the same IMO.

  24. FPR
    September 30, 2012 at 5:10 am #

    I agree with Heller “Frank Cote along with his secretary, Lynn Whitney, should be placed on leave OR EVEN TERMINATED from city employ” 100%.

    This should be front page news on The Berkshire Eagle.

    Wanna sell some newpapers? Grow some balls.

    Put Terry Kinnas in as Superintendent of Schools.

    • Debbie
      September 30, 2012 at 7:15 am #

      Mr. Kinnas has my vote. Why hasn’t anyone called the The Berkshire Eagle. The tax payer’s have the right to know.

      • dusty
        September 30, 2012 at 7:24 am #

        If you called the Berkshire Eagle with this story they would laugh in your face and hang up. Odds are they were the first to know about the story but as gob aid and abettors they would not say anything.

        The suggestion to call them with anything related to taxpayer fraud is actually quite comical.

        • danvalenti
          September 30, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

          The BORING BROADSHEET? Interested in a legitimate expose that would show up the GOB? No way.

    • danvalenti
      September 30, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

      FPR
      I would be in support of strong disciplinary action, as you and Heller suggest.

  25. dusty
    September 30, 2012 at 7:29 am #

    However, perhaps self appointed watch dog Barry Clairmont will fly in and hand carry this story to the Eagle. And then maybe he can do his usual top notch investigative work and bring it out into the open. Or maybe Barry has not been given this assignment and so has chosen not to bother himself with it. Some councilors can be rather selective in what bothers them ya know.

    How about Lothrop? Does his moral compass get excited about such things? I doubt it.

    • danvalenti
      September 30, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

      DUSTY
      You are right, and not just about Clairmont or Lothrop. The entire council is on the hook here. Do they stand for Right or for Corruption?

  26. Jim Gleason
    September 30, 2012 at 7:51 am #

    Great job Terry Kinnas, AGAIN!! He was the only committee member to protest the giving of iPads to AP students only under this school committee and Howard Eberwein the third, possibly one of the most crooked superintendents we’ve ever had. As far as Cote goes, he is, as others here have described, THE most incompetent person in the school administration if not the whole dept. As I always said when I worked in the schools, incompetence means promotion in the Pittsfield School Dept., not in all cases but in many. Howard and Frank are two prime examples.

    • danvalenti
      September 30, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

      “Incompetence means promotion.” That, in a nutshell, explains much of what has been wrong over the late year in the Pittsfield schools.

  27. layla Lady Lay
    September 30, 2012 at 8:32 am #

    Great expose. I just read this today. As a former school department employee, I can tell you many of the good ones knew about such dealings and were afraid to speak out because it would come with repercussions. I am ashamed I didn’t speak out but I’ would urge anyone with knowledge of this type of corruption not to take it anymore. There are still too many good honest workers in the schools. They need to say, no more. Also the mayor and city council need to step in as well as school committee and say “enough is enough.” Use this case and make and example of it. My thanks to Terry Kinnas and Dan Valenti for bringing this situation to light.

    • danvalenti
      September 30, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

      Thanks, LADY.

  28. Evian
    September 30, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    If this is now a city council matter, I expect them to kill this thing. Let the students work on projects to help those in true need. Thank you Mr. Kinnas.

    • danvalenti
      September 30, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

      You are correct, EV. The council has this, and it in its action on this it will make a statement about itself: Is it for truth and right or will it “play ball” with the GOB?

  29. jlo
    September 30, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

    Dan – I am amazed that you and your posters appear to have forgotten, or perhaps not understood, that tthe City Council FILED (voted down) the Contract, due to the many questions and issues with it. According to Ms. Whitney’s representations at the Council meeting, it was City Attorney Degnan who advised Ms. Whitney to submit the contract to the Council to begin with.

    There is also the matter of the Ethics rulling that was never shown, nor presented to the Council. Of course there was no one present from the MAyor’s Office or the Solicitor’s Office at the meeting. So the Council did not approve what was presented.

    • danvalenti
      September 30, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

      JLO
      We were told by school department sources that you filed version two of the contract. There is now a third version, amended, that is before you. In short, you filed a contract that is not the current one. As for the Ethics Commission ruling, we are trying to pry that document loose from the tight clutches of those who don’t want it to be seen. It appears, my Right Honorable Good Friend, that you are “one contract behind” in this mess. It’s going to come back to you again, and you would be wise not just to file this but to take a stand against the obvious corruption.