PEDA: TO INSURE OR NOT TO INSURE, BUT AGAINST WHAT? … QUICK HITS AND HOT LICKS LOOKS AT COMMISSION APPTS (FRIERI AND POLICE BOARD) & WARREN PEACE, or, HOW CAN ELIZABETH CLAIM TO BE REPRESENTING MARY JANE AND JOE KAPANSKI?
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, SEPT. 18, 2012) — It’s been 14 years the creation of the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority (PEDA). Progress, once the most important product for PEDA’s illustrious successor — General Electric Co. — has been painfully slow. That’s an understatement of the order that Custer lost at Little Big Horn.
PEDA has been hampered by a combination of politics (petty as best, poison at worst), the failure of its leaders to achieve consensus with We The People, lack of vision, a sense of complacency, and the kind of self-triumph too often associated with those who hold power, as if power itself is the mark not only of their justification for also their achievements (even when there is a lack of achievement!).
An annotated list of misses by PEDA would take far longer than THE PLANET has on this day, and we see no need to recount the litany. Let’s exemplify by the latest illustration of PEDA’s non-functionality.
Does PEDA Need Liability Insurance Against Toxins?
On Aug. 21, PEDA’s insurance for environmental liability lapsed. Did PEDA renew? We have no idea. A visit to the PEDA website brings up stale news of the all-is-well variety. The website remains moribund, functional only in a technical sense. Now that we’re on it, isn’t it funny how many Pittsfield websites, in this, the age of cyberspace, work as if it’s 1989 and not 2012. The city’s site, for example, lacks e-mail addresses. News is dated and skewed. In many other towns and cities, one would have a reasonable expectation that going to a site like PEDA’s would supply the answer on its insurance status, since, after all, Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski are shareholders.
Does PEDA even need such insurance? If the property has been sufficiently cleaned up to market and for prospective companies to buy in and build, why does the authority need protection against industrial toxins which are not there in the ground? Wasnt the land cleaned up to acceptable standards allowing build up?
THE PLANET can only think of one reasonable scenario for purchasing the expensive policy: There are still poison surprises located on the site, or at least, there is the fear that there are surprises lurking in the ground. That issue has been longstanding for the former GE campus. If a company moves in and finds, for example, it has a “sick building” on its hands, where does the liability fall. Where does it end?
The lapsed policy indemnified PEDA for $50 million against such risk. Discussions were toward purchasing a new insurance contract with a $5 million cap. The risk-benefit analysis shows that coverage is reduced by 90% but premiums are much lower. Should PEDA take a chance on exposure?
THE PLANET went online to find out. One would expect to find relevant information on the website: What is the cost of the different policies? What its the status of the insurance? What does the policy cover. Why isn’t there a copy of the actual policy, so the public can examine for itself?
This “stuff” is known as information, and in official Pittsfield, authorities do not sufficiently trust Mary Jane and Joe to keep them supplied with the info they need to self- govern.
Self-govern, we say. The way government has taken over lives, that sounds like so much nostalgic civics clap-trap.
Does PEDA Even Need the Insurance?
Does PEDA need pollution insurance? The answer is no, providing it is confident that the property presents itself in clean enough shape. The answer is yes if PEDA has reason to believe the site is still polluted. Again, PEDA’s website is of no help in determining if the authority renewed the policy and at what level.
PEDA Executive Director Corydon Thurston favored more insurance, claiming that it’s a recruiting tool to get companies aboard and assuage their concerns that they might be building on a toxic time bomb.. Perhaps, but THE PLANET wonders: If that is so, and with $50 million of insurance in place against toxic risk, why haven’t more companies moved into the site?
QUICK HITS AND HOT LICKS
Noted in Passing — Mayor Bianchi appointed veterans affairs director Rosanne Frieri to the disability commission, to complete the term of Deborah Sadowy. Readers will recall that Frieri came under fire from certain members of the media and public stemming from an alleged lack of performance in her job working with and for veterans. Seemingly qualified parties — Soldier On executive director Jack Downing, for example, and veteran activists such as Bill Sturgeon — claimed Frieri was not doing the job. There were complaints that she treated the nearly $50,000 a year job as a cost center so she could run her photography business, on taxpayers’ time. Frieri has denied that. Others including veterans say she has done a good job in helping them. Go figure. THE PLANET wonders, though: Can she take on this added responsibility, do it justice, and still function as an effective veteran’s advocate (all the while going all shutterbug on us?).
Crime Busters — With crime, drug problems, and gang-related activity continuing to scald Pittsfield and keep people away from the downtown except for circus events (Third Thursdays, First Fridays, and the like), you’ll be interested to know that Mayor Dan Bianchi has brought to resurrected life the police advisory board. The board consists of Sheriff Tom Bowler, Larry Tallman, Phyllis Smith, Ken Wilson, Radcliffe Harewood, and Scott Clements. THE PLANET wishes them success, but we wonder: What is the barometer by which we can make an intelligent, fact-based assessment. On behalf of Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski, we want more than good intentions. We would like to know: What can the commission reasonably promise?
Warren Peace — Elizabeth Warren is a law professor at Harvard. She makes $500,000 a year. She has a net worth of $14.5 million. She has a large stock portfolio. She lives in a multimillion dollar home in Cambridge. She has raised more than $24 million in her campaign, most of it from Hollywood stars and New York City media moguls. She’s running for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, where every member of Congress is from the Democratic Party except her opponent, Sen. Scott Brown. Someone, please compute all of this information and tell us how Warren can with a straight face claim to be in close touch with Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski, whose interest she claims she will represent in Congress?
“WHEN THE SUN IN THE MORNING PEEPS OVER THE HILL, AND IT KISSES THE ROSES ON OUR WINDOWSILL, THEN OUR HEART FILLS WITH GLADNESS …
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.