LINDA TYER SHOWS WHY SHES ACES AS CITY CLERK, SUPPLYING INFO HIDDEN BY THE REGISTRAR OF VOTERS … COUNCILOR CLAIRMONT: ‘I DON’T LIKE THINKING THE MAYOR ISN’T A TRUTHFUL PERSON’ … ADULT LEARNING CENTER LEASE OUT TO BID AGAIN THANKS TO LEGAL ACTION BY MASSERY … plus … MR. MITT GOES ON THE COUNTER-ATTACK
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 12, 2012) — THE PLANET received this e-mail from Linda Tyer, Pittsfield’s city clerk. It illustrates how Tyer has made that office her own, which is to say, one of the offices on city side that operates more or less at full efficiency — in a proactive, helpful, utilitarian, and informative way. As an added bonus, she has not botched one election in her tenure, unlike per predecessor.
A few days ago, talking about the recently concluded party primaries, THE PLANET mentioned the odd position of the city council to take up the United vs. FEC matter with respect to campaign financing. THE PLANET has no quarrel with the issue, per se, but we found it strange that my Right honorable Good Friends on the council would take the trouble to weigh in on a matter that clearly lies in a universe beyond their jurisdiction. We explained their puzzling action in terms of one-party hegemony of the Democratic Party in Massachusetts.
Two Offices, Two Different Levels of ‘Customer’ Service
We mentioned enrollment numbers, guesstimating because the Registrar of Voters under the misdirection of Jeff Whitehouse does not make that information available online. The office is run like much of online Pittsfield, as if it’s 1985, in the Internet’s popular infancy. Unlike the city clerk’s office under Tyer, the voting office under Whitehouse keeps outflow of information to a minimum, obfuscation to a maximum, and transparency to a state of invisibility (her, we rather like that last one).
Tyer, answering the call unbeckoned, sent us this:
I was reading the Planet’s blog today and thought I would pass along some information regarding voter registration totals. You’re right. It’s not on the city’s website. It’s not there because the numbers fluctuate on an almost daily basis – not by huge swinging deviations I’ll admit – but it is a moving target especially this year since it’s a presidential election year. The numbers I’m giving you are as of August 19, 2012 which was the most recent deadline to register (or change your party) in order to participate in last Thursday’s state primary. On that date, there were 29,492 registered voters in Pittsfield. This is the base number that’s used to determine voter turnout on September 6. Here’s how it breaks out:
If you add these up you’ll see that it doesn’t equal 29,492. That’s because 152 voters are registered in a “designation” such as Libertarian or Reform or Constitution. I do anticipate that these numbers will adjust again, and again, and again, as we approach the November 6 election (new voters registering, current voters changing parties or unenrolling, people moving out of Pittsfield, etc.).
I hope this helps. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
It did help, and a great deal, for it confirmed our guesstimates as decidedly “in the ballpark.” We thank Linda Tyer for supplying information without us having to ask. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s customer service.
CLAIRMONT: MAYOR’s CONTRADICTORY STATEMENTS ON SPECTRUM CAN’T BE RECONCILED
The matter of The Council Trio (John Krol, Jonathan Lothrop, and Barry Clairmont) vs. The Corner Office (Mayor Dan Bianchi, administrative services chief Donna Mattoon, and city solicitor Kathy Degnan) on the deal cut with respect to Spectrum Health Systems’ methadone clinic, set to open next month in the Yon Building on Summer Street in downtown Pittsfield, continues.
In the latest chapter of this saga, Clairmont contacted THE PLANET with what he labels a flip-flop on the part of Mayor Bianchi.
“As background information,” Clairmont said, “if you read the BB article from last Friday concerning the $76,500 potential payout to Spectrum, on the second page, first column, starting with the second full paragraph, it says:
‘In an interview this week, Bianchi said he doesn’t think the city will end up paying rent reimbursement costs to Spectrum, which is why he didn’t disclose that aspect of the settlement last month. The fact is that we’re not anticipating that to happen, the Mayor said.’
“Dan, I know you have a copy of the July 3, 2012 executive minutes. Read the first paragraph, 2/3 of the way down:
‘He (meaning the Mayor) is confident that Spectrum will not be at the Summer Street location long-term and that Spectrum is aware of the proposed alternate location.’
“I’m not sure how one reconciles those two opposing statements, Clairmont said. “It appears to me that [Mayor Bianchi] was either lying to the Council or lying to Kevin Moran [of the BoringBroadsheet]. If I’m not seeing something, please let me know. I don’t like walking around thinking the Mayor is not a truthful person. It makes my job as a Councilor much more difficult.
—– 00 —–
The councilor raises a fair point. On the surface, it would appear the two statements by Bianchi contradict each other. In the first, he tells the BB that he doesn’t expect Spectrum to move. In the second, he tells the council in secret session that “Spectrum will not be at the Summer Street location long term …” The quote is from the notes of city clerk Linda Tyer at the July 3 secret session. “Will not be at … Summer Street” appears definitive.
THE PLANET calls on the mayor’s office to explain this seeming contradiction. We join with our Right Honorable Good Friend in asking with Bianchi or Mattoon: “If I’m not seeing something, please let me know.”
‘SELFISH ACTIONS’ CAUSE REBID ON ALC LEASE, HITTING TAXPAYERS WHERE IT HURTS
Well, spoiled-sport landlord Phil Massery got what he wanted: Through legal Twister, he forced the city to cancel its deal with GDL Associates. Now, the city and taxpayers have to go through the bidding process all over again.
The school department selected GDL when it came in a small fortune lower than Massery’s bid to retain space for the city’s Adult Learning Center, which for years had been renting at exorbitant rates from the property Massery owns on East Street at Lyman, in the same complex as the nefarious den of sin and inequity, Hermann Alexander‘s bar.
Money Grab Didn’t Work, So Massery Took City to Court
Massery wanted to hold up the city for $330,000 vs. GDL’s $225,000 for a five-year lease on the ALC. The GDL bid, which the city accepted until the courts got involved, (A) would have saved taxpayers’s $105,000 a year, (B) placed the ALC in a more central location, and (C) given it more modern facilities. But no. Massery tantrumed his way into a legal fit, took his ball, and went not home but to court. (SEE PLANET STORY FROM AUG. 29, 2012, AVAILABLE IN ARCHIVES).
Kristen Behnke, who is handling the bidding process for the School Department, told The Pittsfield Gazette that the new bidding process will be open to new prospective landlords: “We’re encouraging anyone who is interested to apply.” Information on the bidding process as well as a bid packet can be obtained at the headquarters of the Pittsfield School Department. Prospective bidders can also call her at 413-499-9502.
The contract for a lease is out to bid again. We know he’s got gall of the unmitigated variety, but even THE PLANET won’t believe Massery will have the stones to re-bid again after coming up short the first time and bringing suit to follow. That being said, nothing would surprise us given Pittsfield incestuous politics.
Having been burned by Massery, the city will be offering a one-year lease, with two one-year options to be exercised at the discretion of the school committee.
“Mr. Massery’s actions were selfish, in my view,” said a school department administrator familiar with the proceedings. “He presented an inferior offer, and the [GDL offer] met the requirements in every way. The court didn’t see it that way, and we strongly disagree with the ruling. Let me be generous and say the court had good intentions but grossly misread the law and for some strange reason found, in error, in Mr. Massery’s favor. The losers here are the taxpayers, and I honestly think Mr. Massery cares only about his bottom line and about nothing or no one else. He didn’t react well when he didn’t win the lease that he thought would be renewed automatically. Nothing is automatic. We have a new mayor, a new administration, and new people [in administration on school side] here.”
What About Hibbard School?
We wonder if this issue will come up at the next school committee meeting.
All that being said, THE PLANET also wonders — What became of the Hibbard School option? Is the ALC now there, under “emergency conditions?” If so, why couldn’t the center stay there? Is that or is that not a feasible option? Taxpayers own the building and would be saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent if the ALC stayed there. Does anyone on the school committee or in the School Department have an answer?
FROM CAMPAIGN TRAIL, ROMNEY COMES OUT WITH GUNS BLAZING
The latest pools show President Obama getting the predicted boost from the Democratic National Convention. He now leads Romney by anywhere from five to 10 percentage points. THE PLANET thinks national polls are about as useful as a trap door on a kayak, not that they aren’t sometimes accurate but that we are sick and tired of electoral prognostications, which every four years year more and more meticulously intransigent.
Are you better off than you were four years ago? That’s the question “they” like to ask. It’s a hilarious question, given that it cannot be asked of individuals, has no answer, and has little to do with the man who occupies the Oval Office.
Mitt Romney’s campaign has counterpunched in wake of the Obama bounce, making the following points:
- The Obama Economy: The stakes are very high in this election, and voters understand the future of our country is on the line. This may be lost on those living within the hyper-political world in and around the Beltway, but it is not lost in communities in battleground states. In short, the Romney-Ryan campaign understands Americans struggling in the Obama economy will determine the outcome of the race, and once the preponderance of information about the President’s failed policies – combined with Mitt Romney’s vision to strengthen the middle class – are communicated, our nation will move in a different direction.
- All Signs Point to a Tight Race: Those watching the daily tracking polls know that, while the President has seen a bounce from his convention, his approval has already begun to slip, indicating it is likely to recede further. In eight states, Pollster.com‘s reporting of the most recent statewide polls puts the margin between the two candidates at less than three points, virtually guaranteeing a tight race.
- Next, the battlefield has actually expanded, not contracted. Note that Wisconsin is now in play and our campaign is now up with ads in that state, while the latest poll numbers from the Albuquerque Journal in New Mexico show the race closing there. And this tightening is not an anomaly. Consider the traditional Democratic strongholds of New Jersey and Connecticut, won by President Obama in 2008 by margins of 15 points and 22 points, respectively. In both states, Pollster.com‘s reporting of the most recent statewide polls puts Obama’s lead at only seven points in each of these states.
- In North Carolina, fresh off of hosting the Democratic National Convention, the Obama campaign is laying the groundwork for a stealth withdrawal. In a state the President won by a mere 14,000 votes in 2008, all one has to do is look at the Obama campaign’s television buy in the state to understand how they view their chances there. The Obama campaign’s North Carolina television buy has dropped 35% compared to June, and they have run more than twice as much advertising over the past two weeks in Rochester, Minnesota (hitting a small slice of Iowa), than they have in any North Carolina market.
- Historical Data: Political campaign historians will recall President Jimmy Carter led Ronald Reagan by a near double digit margin late in the fall in 1980. In that race, the voters made their decision based on the key issues confronting the nation and it determined the outcome. On the economy, the most important issue of this race, Mitt Romney leads by 51%-45%, according to the most recent CNN/ORC poll.
- Targeted Campaign: The Romney-Ryan campaign is running deeply local and targeted efforts in each of the states focusing on the voter groups that will make the difference on Election Day. Anyone asserting a “one-size-fits-all-campaign” effort is being put forward is simply misinformed, as evidenced by the 15 different ads released by the Romney Ryan campaign this past Friday and now running in nine states, including Wisconsin.
- New Money Advantage: All of this is not possible without resources, and the Romney-Ryan campaign and the Republican Party have a real advantage. In August alone, the Romney Victory effort raised more than $111 million, marking the third straight fundraising month of more than $100 million, putting us on a very strong financial footing for the final two months.
- Energy and Enthusiasm: CNN/ORC’s most recent polling shows that 62% of Republicans are “extremely” or “very” excited about this election, while only 56% of Democrats report being “extremely” or “very” excited. This Republican enthusiasm advantage has manifested itself in an unprecedented and historic grassroots effort that will have a significant impact on turnout in battleground states on Election Day. For instance, as of today, Victory volunteers have already knocked on more doors than during the entire 2008 campaign. (2.72 million in 2012 through September 8 compared to 2.43 million overall in 2008.)
- Romney’s Ground Game: During last weekend’s “Super Saturday,” we crossed the 20 million volunteer voter contact threshold. Also, the Romney campaign knocked on more doors last week than in any week during the 2008 campaign. More than 55,000 volunteers have knocked doors or made phone calls for Victory this year and that number is growing by the week. And volunteers have collected person-to-person identification information on nearly 1.7 million swing voters in battleground states thus far. And the numbers are even more startling when one looks at individual states. For instance, in Ohio alone, five times more phone calls and 28 times more door knocks have been made than at this time in 2008. This past Saturday, more than 100,000 doors were knocked on by Victory volunteers in the Buckeye State. And in Wisconsin, five times more phone calls and 72 times more door knocks have been made than at this time in 2008. And the list goes on and on.
THE PLANET would like to know your views on these issues.
JANUARY WEYMOUTH AND A COVE. NO LAGOONS FOR THE PATRONS OF JANUARY WEYMOUTH.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.