PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, OCT. 12, 2012) — On this, the Real Columbus Day, THE PLANET offers the second part of our ruminations over one of the worst meetings the Pittsfield City Council has likely ever conducted. It left veteran observers shaking their heads, novices agape, and those in-between ready to pack up their troubles. For those expecting the spotlight on Contractgate, please be patient. That will happen early next week. There is another development in this case that may have some bearing, and we want to wait until we learn more.

By the way, THE PLANET also has other stories brewing in the cauldron involving more Tales from the Crypt, involving:

* The Berkshire Carousel

* The Cultural Affairs Office

* The Pittsfield Fire Department

* and … ah, but we can say no more!

Now, on to No-confidence-gate.

A Preamble: Polarizing Politics (“I’m a This and You’re a That”) Has No Place in Rational Discourse and the Sane Living of Life

One first note. It’s a pity to see how polarizing politics has become, from the national level on down. If you’re a “this” and I’m a “that,” it must mean I have to always oppose you, irrespective of the facts or what might otherwise pass as rational discourse.

Case in point: THE PLANET and Barry Clairmont. It’s no secret. We got off on the wrong foot, and the icicles in the relationship were as big as any we saw in the raging winter of two years.

When THE PLANET started doing our investigations into the Spectrum case, we talked to most of the key players involved and assembled what has to be the most complete set of records this side of federal court. THE PLANET spent hours plowing through boring transcripts. We spent hours of interviews, both on and off the record.

We started our probe afresh, as is our modus operandi, pretending we knew nothing, so we could approach it with a new set of peepers. The determination would be decided on where the evidence took us, in a neutral, objective, reasonable, and non-emotional manner. On the basis of all that, we concluded that complaints over the city solicitor’s representation of the city were justified.

Over that time, THE PLANET had to meet with and relate to Clairmont. We don’t hold grudges, and we are always ready to move on to the next issue with the history slate wiped clean. Yet some folks viewed the mere fact that we were talking to be somehow heinous. That’s what politics has become.

We found his case, as he laid it out with others, credible. That’s all. Yet, some out there want to paint that as “traitorous” or somehow faithless and double-dealing. People can and will think what they will. They will draw their own conclusions. We can tell you, however, that no one side has Truth and Goodness wrapped up all the time. People being human and human being flawed, the truth lies where it does, and it takes courage to pursue it and find it, notwithstanding the preconceptions ones brings along.

THE PLANET has always been a truth seeker, willing to go where we should and ready to face whatever people we meet along the way. Let us conclude this preamble by saying that in our personal dealings with Clairmont, we found him intelligent, diligent, and possessing integrity. For instance, he froze, the equivalent of choking, following Yon’s stunning move to pull back the petition. He admitted that in a posting to THE PLANET in response to a comment made by The Man from Mensa, our Right Honorable Good Friend, former Ward 4 councilor Chuck Vincelette. Clairmont wrote:

First, let me acknowledge that is was an error on my part. I was so caught off guard, I froze and wasn’t sure what to do. As I thought about it, while speaking again, I reached the conclusion that how could I not support the person who submitted the petition. That is why I voted the way I did.

What I should have done was this…quote the June 26, 2012 court transcript where the judge todl Ms. Degnan to go back to Pittsfield and encourage everyone to read JFK’s Profile in Courage. I should have mentioned that leaders do the right thing under adversarial circumstances. I blew it!

Not only should the Councilor’s have voted on this petition, I’ll argue that Ms. Degnan deserved had a right to a vote, so she would know where she stood. It was unfair to her and the administration, period.

I accept my role in the mess up and take full responsibility for it.

It takes a man to admit he’s wrong.

I’m not recommending canonization for Clairmont, and we’re sure he’s hasn’t commissioned an artist to sculpt the bust of THE PLANET for the Journalism Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. We’re not going to attend church services together anytime soon, and we will disagree, rock, and roll on other issues, but we now have built a productive relationship built on mutual respect. THE PLANET offers the same to anyone, turns his back on no one, and rejects the type of politics that requires a person’s advance loyalty.


The meeting would not have achieved that dubious distinction had Ward 1 councilor Chris Yon followed through with her no-confidence petition on the table and allowed the measure to come to a vote. Her action had the effect of trying to minimize the importance of a most serious matter. You don’t launch an extreme initiative such as a no-confidence vote then pull it back of a sudden, out of the blue. It did an injustice to everyone, no matter how well intended.

Catharsis Lost

A vote would have been cathartic, not that it would have flushed away the smoldering resentments so palpable in the chambers Tuesday night but, more in the short term. The vote would have allowed the room to vote after being whipped up into a frenzy, the way a release valve let’s steam from a pressure cooker. Remember, the councilors were casting votes not just for themselves, but — as they do each time they “yeah” or “nay” — they speak for hundreds and thousands of others. When they couldn’t vote, thousands of people who were expecting a tally were left hanging. When the meeting moved from agenda item 12 to 13 (Contractgate), people took with them their unresolved animus toward the “other side.”

It was the worst possible outcome, because you know the pressure will continue to build. It has to escape sometime, somewhere, over some issue.

We wish to raise three new points in our coverage of this historical, hysterical meeting: the peanut gallery, the hundred grand, and the deliberations.

PEANUT GALLERY — THE PLANET here refers to a point made by many speakers at the open mic session: They said they wanted the council to drop the nonsense and get on with the business of governing, which, they said, was to deal with issues such as jobs and public safety. A couple of observations:

The refutation of that argument, to be made not by THE PLANET except to bring it to light in a Devil’s Advocate sense is this: The no-confidence petition, the other side was arguing, did involve getting on with governing. Councilors who have lost their trust in a position as key as city solicitor would argue they were doing We The People’s business. Only they can know for sure if the petition was about improving government or political revenge. Also, the way multiple speakers made the same point suggested (though it does not prove) that their remarks were coordinated. They sounded as if they had been coached or reciting from briefings made from the same talking points.

THE PLANET likes for We The People to get involved with government, as they were on Tuesday night. However, we will point that people packed the chambers for one item on a 22-item agenda.   Where were they on the other hot item, Contractgate, #13, that essentially wasted more than $100,000 of taxpayer money in support of an ethically corrupt deal between the Pittsfield School Department and Lynn Whitney.

THE HUNDRED GRAND — Why did the city agree to pay Spectrum $100,000, plus another $76,500 it the company relocates within the city? Was it necessary. The company wanted one thing only: to open up shop. Could that have been enough to satisfy it? Was the payment part of a conditional agreement? Did Spectrum tell the city: We locate where we want, you give us $100,00 plus a relocation fee, or we continue in federal court? Would the city have lost in federal court? As Kathy Degnan’s attorney conceded at the meeting, maybe and maybe not. It’s true, other town have not prevailed and lost greater amounts against the company, but each case is fact-specific. What were Pittsfield unique set of conditions that might have convinced a judge or jury such that even Ms. Degnan’s lawyer admitted? Maybe the city did “get off cheap,” but saying that is saying, “Maybe not.”

Based on the facts that have come to light thus far, it appears that the city’s decision to pay $100,000 plus relocation fee was to settle the suit. It also appears to have been the wise move. THE PLANET says this, though, with the caveat that there may be additional facts that, of discovered, could shed more light on the matter. In any case, it would behoove the mayor to address this question clearly, in plain English, and forthrightly. That has not yet happened, and, for the record, Mayor Bianchi’s office has not responded to this question, which we asked yesterday.

 THE DELIBERATIONS — We won’t attempt to provide a sense of the discussions. For that, we would suggest people turn to the city clerk’s minutes when they are posted. THE PLANEt has a few highlights and lowlights:

Mike Filpi, during open mic, called the petition “a tremendous detriment on how city government should function.” Some version of that line would be echoed again and again by the parade of speakers.

Donna Mattoon, open mic, took the emotional approach. She asked people to imagine how it must feel to be Degnan or one of her family, friends, and loved ones. Of course, governing based on people’s feelings, the same as writing that way, makes about as much sense as giving every kid a medal at the end of the season, irrespective of how they performed. Everyone has feelings. In public life and in positions of authority, you have to toughen the hide. It’s one of the realities that comes with the turf, and it’s as true for city solicitors as it is for journalists.

— Bianchi, open mic, said “people want us to get on with our work.” He said “this whole issue has been filled with a lot of half facts” and “hearsay.” He added that the Yon-Sherman Act did “not promote good government.”

Yon, during deliberation, introducing her petition: “I tried to no avail to resolve the situation in the privacy of Mayor Bianchi’s office, to no avail. … It was never my intention to go after anyone. This is not political. I was simply looking for answers.” Yon and Sherman had previously said that they attempted to meet with Bianchi several times, to no avail. During her opening comments, Yon revealed that Sherman met with Bianchi earlier that day in one last attempt, “to no avail.”  Yon also said she didn’t know and was never told why she was subpoenaed by Degnan for a deposition. She claimed that by her testimony in court, Degnan “opened up a fresh discrimination case against the city” and that she “breached confidential information.”

Chris Connell, Ward 4, chided the no-confidence petition, pointing out his experience in business, dealing with personnel as a manager. Connell said “this is not the [correct] process of how you deal with a situation like this.” He said “people are perceiving us as the old, embarrassing council” of a years ago, a pointed reference to the council led by Rick Scapin and its inability to work collegially with mayor Sara Hathaway. That brought the first outburst of applause from the spectators (during deliberations). Sherman was not forceful enough in ruling this out of order.

Jonathan Lothrop, Ward 5, said the petition was “not about Spectrum” but rather about “the performance of the city solicitor.” Key to the issue, J-Lo said, is that he as a councilor felt that Degnan had misrepresented him and had “misled” him, referencing the June 9 budget meeting when he questioned Degnan about the the additional $100,000 in the solicitor’s budget. “If I am not given accurate information, how am I supposed to do my job?” He said that prior to Degnan’s involvement in the Spectrum case, the city had defeated three motions of Spectrum’s in court.

— Degnan’s attorney, Alexandra Glover of Great Barrington, pointed out that Pittsfield’s three wins in court did not constitute “a judgment on the ultimate facts” but rather were procedural victories. On whether or not Pittsfield would have prevailed against Spectrum in federal court, she said maybe-maybe not. That was a surprising statement, saying that Pittsfield could very well have won. Glover said that during the budget hearing Lothrop referenced, Degnan “answered the council’s questions as best she could, given the confidentiality agreement in place at that time.” She called the agreement reach by the mayor and Spectrum “a good settlement” but did add a curious statement to the effect of “nobody wants to be located next door to this sort of thing [meaning a methadone clinic]. That was the kind of statement made by an under-prepared Degnan that essentially provided Spectrum with a slam-dunk in federal court on the basis of the anti-discriminatory provisions of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Glover said the petition was “meant to disparage” Degnan.

Kevin Morandi, Ward 2, wondered how the Sherman-Yon petition could possibly benefit the city, nothing that the Spectrum mess was “dumped” on Bianchi “by the previous administration.” That, of course, would be Mayor Jimmy Ruberto.

— Melissa Mazzeo, at large, warned her colleagues “were setting precedent tonight,” referring to the “slippery slope” that could ultimately make it fair game for any councilor to go against any administration official, even for the most superficial of reasons. Mazzeo said she was perplexed as to why the Spectrum issue kept resurfacing and questioned the intent of those who were finding ways to keep it alive simply to embarrass Bianchi.

John Krol, Ward 6, agreed with Lothrop, saying the larger issue was the council’s interactions with the city solicitor’s office and not about specifics of the Spectrum case. “This is a very demoralizing time for all of us,” Krol said. He accused Degnan of “delivering information to a company that’s suing [us] in court.” Krol said the issue is all about trust and the necessity of being able to trust the solicitor’s office. Krol said that trust had been betrayed.

Barry Clairmont, at large, mentioned another issue to make the point that J-Lo and Krol previously made, that the no-confidence petition wasn’t about Spectrum but about the actions and ability of the city solicitor. He brought up Degnan’s action in Mayor Bianchi’s attempt to remove a long-time member of the licensing board. He also refuted a point made multiple times for Degnan’s defenders, that she has only been on the job nine months, far too soon for a no-confidence vote. Clairmont referred to Degnan’s two years of previous experience with the city as an assistant solicitor as well as her extensive experience as solicitor in other communities. He accused Degnan of “misrepresentation.” Clairmont also made an unusual statement, revealing  “threats that I’ll be sued” based on what he would be saying in deliberation. As a precaution, he emphasized that what he was to express were his opinions. THE PLANET abhors any threats of this sort that would seek to intimidate a government official or try to hamper or qualify his or her free speech.

Nothing to Say

Amazingly, Paul Capitanio, ward 3; Tony Simonelli, Ward 7; and Churchill Cotton, at large. did not speak. THE PLANET finds this Greta Garbo-Harpo Marx dummying up perplexing, that three councilors with standing, who campaigned for the position, would find nothing to say about an issue of such portent. What does that mean? A lack of interest on their part? A lack of confidence? A lack of leadership and intestinal fortitude? We cannot say. We can only point out that the nature of officials in representative government is to “represent.” The constituents of Capitanio, Simonelli, and Cotton were thus relegated to the back bench as mere spectators. They were among the biggest losers Tuesday night. That “silent treatment” is unsatisfactory. All three had an obligation to let it hang, lay it on the line, and be heard, as did each of their other colleagues, who weren’t afraid of the challenge.

To that point, council president Kevin Sherman also had an obligation to do more than referee the fight. His name was on that petition, and it was no time for him to hide behind the president’s chair. He could have, and should have, turned the chair over to his second-in-command, Lothrop, and weighed in. Not doing so was a big mistake and created the perception, however accurate or not, that he was ducking the hot issue. That, combined with Yon’s filing of the petition, created a bad taste (already bad enough) in the mouths of Degnan’s supporters, especially, who interpreted the two actions as preplanned and evidence of intent. Some Degnan supporters offered Sherman’s silence and Yon’s dramatic last-second action as “proof” that the intent all along wasn’t to get a no-confidence vote but simply to embarrass the mayor by running over Degnan in open session then retreating under the “Mission Accomplished” banner.

The more we write on this story, the more information that surfaces. We shall be revisiting, we’re sure.

The final word is, as we said yesterday, nobody won. Everybody lost.







  1. FPR
    October 12, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    Hey Dan,

    Good coverage of the council meeting. However, you didn’t take it in the direction I was expecting.


    You know before that council meeting I was thinking for sure, there is no way they will approve that. Its unethical beyond any shadow of doubt. It still remains unanswered at least to me if such a contract is legal. Seems no one will even touch that question. There is a definite conflict of interest here.

    Did Ms. Whitney automatically qualify for all 5 requirements set fourth in the ethics report? I don’t see it.

    Someone, perhaps it has to be Terry Kinnas, who should file an objection to this to the ethics commission. Terry probably doesn’t wanna be the bad guy but he already is in the eyes of the GOB network that runs Pittsfield.

    Seems Mr. Cote was rewarded for his unethical bid contract scheme. So too Ms. Whitney. When in fact they should have been punished for such behavior. I just don’t get it.

    Have we reached a point in society that unethical and illegal behavior is the way to go?

    I would disband this entire City Council and impeach this Mayor.
    Install Linda Tyer to run the city until a new gov’t can be elected. I bet the city would never run better.

  2. Berkshire Ex-Pat
    October 12, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    What is the status of “contract-gate?” Is it a done deal on the local level? If so, is there any higher venue to address this blatantly unethical contract?

    • danvalenti
      October 15, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

      THE PLANET shall be outing Contractgate this week. Stay tuned.

  3. Kevin
    October 12, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    I have heard that Mazzeo is friends with Ms Whitney and should of sat out the vote?

    • FPR
      October 12, 2012 at 9:47 am #

      Kevin —- interesting comment because of all the councilors, I felt that Melissa was the most level headed and “for the people” of them all. I was sure that she would be one that voted the right way.

      When she voted for this unethical contract, I lost all respect for her.

  4. joetaxpayer
    October 12, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    Say what you want about that meeting, but I think everyone behaved better than Joe Biden.

    • taxmano
      October 12, 2012 at 11:07 am #

      Mike Lupica said it best: “. . . Ryan started to act like the annoying twerp captain of the debate team.”

      I’m so glad Joe Biden took it to this clown.

      • joetaxpayer
        October 12, 2012 at 11:58 am #

        Don’t thinnk he took it anywhere. Just proved to most what a jack a$$ he is. Most peeople already knew, but now the independent voters got a glimpse of his arrogannce.

        • kevin jennings
          October 12, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

          “When a wise person debates with a fool, the fool rages and laughs, and there is no peace and quiet.” Proverbs 29:9

          • taxmano
            October 13, 2012 at 10:43 am #

            Would this apply to the Romney display at his debate with Obama as well?

        • Tim Bartini
          October 12, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

          Sorry Joe I gotta agree with Taxmano. VP cleaned his clock. Ryan does remind me of the captain of the debate team.

          • I am me
            October 12, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

            Hi Tim, I read your letter to the editor in the Eagle yesterday. You say your union supports Warren but I know a bunch of Pittsfield firemen who are Brown supporters. Do you take a vote to determine what candidate gets the unions support? It is also in the news that Ma. Union members were fined for not showing at Warren events. What say you?

          • joetaxpayer
            October 12, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

            3o year union member voting Brown and Romney. I’m much more than a one issue voter. Biden reminds me of Woody Wood Pecker.

          • kevin jennings
            October 12, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

            How many firefighters want Elizabeth Warren? Did you have a vote of the membership? Or was it just you Elmer and Joey?

          • Tim Bartini
            October 13, 2012 at 6:51 am #

            I am me. The Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts ,which we belong voted last month to endorse Elizabeth Warren.Im sure some firefighters will vote for Brown. No one is told how to vote or fined if they don’t show up at Warren events. That is totally absurd!

      • danvalenti
        October 15, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

        And that he did. Biden Ruled.

  5. Dawn
    October 12, 2012 at 10:34 am #

    Lynn Whitney should buy Chris Yon a fruit basket for changing the subject.

  6. Ed
    October 12, 2012 at 11:18 am #

    DV; Just curious. Wasn’t there a posting on the Planet quite a while ago, regarding the cost of transporting patients to Holyoke/Springfield for methadone treatments ? I recall there was a sizeable amount supposedly being billed weekly to Masshealth and other agencies, somewhere around $30-$35K a week or $1,5 million annually for this transportation. If this was the case, doesn’t a local taxi/transportation firm stand to lose this revenue ? Could this have played a role in the previous administration’s adamant objections to Spectrum ? This consideration wasn’t raised. Can you check your archives ?

  7. Dave
    October 12, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    Dan, interesting article about my favorite waste of taxpayer’s money, Downtown Pittsfield Inc. in the BB today. It seems they are thrilled with their move to the first floor on Dunham Mall because it increases their exposure. My favorite paragraph reads “The Dunham Mall property is owned by local developer David Carver of Scarafoni Associates, who is a DPI board member.Ah, some things never change. And why would a local story like this be on page A6 and not in the local B section.
    Just wondering out loud.

      October 13, 2012 at 5:19 am #

      You should keep wondering to yourself. Downtown Pittsfield, Inc. should be your favorite waste of taxpayer’s money since they don’t get any of it.

      • Mike Ward
        October 13, 2012 at 3:04 pm #

        Last time I checked they were getting $45K from the city. I tried to eliminate this line item during budget hearings two years ago because I think they should be member supported like the Chamber. Only John Krol supported my motion to save taxpayers a few bucks.

        • danvalenti
          October 15, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

          You and JK supported a reasonable measure. The council and the city government misses your pragmatic and informed approach.

      • Dave
        October 13, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

        Apology accepted Ambrose.

        • AMBROSE
          October 15, 2012 at 9:45 am #

          I’m humbled. I’ve been a member of that worthless group for 27 years and never realized or thought that our city could be that stupid. Sometimes I forget where I’m from.

      • danvalenti
        October 15, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

        Every dollar spent on Downtown Pittsfield Inc. is as you call it: A WASTE.

    • danvalenti
      October 15, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

      So true. It’s in the A section because the BB is throwing up over itself over having to publish crap like this. They don’t have the balls to say no. They are BOUGHT!

  8. FPR
    October 12, 2012 at 11:54 am #


    I think I’ve figured it all out. I’ve got a solid plan to move back to Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

    First I’ll hit the streets and hook up with some very unsavory characters and get myself addicted to heroin. Then off to see the doctor to get my free state funded health insurance along with a free pass to the methadone clinic where I can begin to receive my free lifetime supply of drugs courtesy of the state of Massachusetts taxpayers.

    Once I meet those requirements, then I can file for disability as a heroin addict. Naturally I would also qualify for food stamps at that point.

    Then I’d have some free time to go and watch the airplanes land at the new airport.

    My feeling is that none of this would unethical because in Pittsfield there is no such thing as unethical.

    I think its a good plan. Sure beats working for a living.

    I’m learning. It takes me awhile to figure it all out but I’m trying. Just like when Bill Clinton said, “I did not have sex with that woman” taught me that having friends with benefits is OK because its not really sex.

    What do you think?

    • Levitan
      October 12, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

      You belittle the crippling and humiliating effects of heroin addiction, methinks.

      • Scott
        October 12, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

        They put themselves in those conditions. Of course there’s child abuse and poor life quality that plays in there too. I saw in a movie the other night the warden in the film says “what did your mommy not love you enough? or maybe she loved you too much.” Made me laugh.

      • FPR
        October 12, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

        Sheez, those poor heroin addicts. I know they were born that way. Its through no fault of their own that God created them with a heroin deficiency. Just like God musta created smokers with a tar and nicotine deficiency.

        We should feel sorry for them.

        We should have the students at Taconic build them houses for free also.

        • danvalenti
          October 15, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

          You make an excellent point here. Heroin use, drug use, is a CHOICE. When will people take responsibilities for their lousy choices? When will “society” not have to come in and clean up after their messes?

    • Scott
      October 12, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

      Someone I know was telling me “they worked hard enough for 20 years.” They’re claiming “disability” and on medication for depression. No wonder ssi won’t be there for the people who really deserve it who have paid into it for their whole life. And you’re right once you do that everything is paid for by you and you can just take up some stupid hobby and fade away, nice life.

      • levitan
        October 14, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

        It is truly is amazing how 1 person can destroy an entire institution.

        • Scott
          October 15, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

          Please there’s a lot of folks out there with that same thinking.

        • Scott
          October 15, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

          Please there’s a lot of folks out there with that same thinking.

        • levitan
          October 15, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

          Above comment is sarcasm, in case you didn’t notice.

          On another yet related note, Atty. Glover wrote a sensible response. Two take aways, unlike some people, Degnan did not go out and cry for help.

          Point #2: (As I suspected) Spectrum did not use Degnan’s words as fodder for defense. No, in fact, they did not have to look far and deep for signs of discrimination. Now that Spectrum is well behind us, I see it is coming back in fashion to bash addicts.

          “Between the idea and the reality”, you lost your bearings.

          • Scott
            October 15, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

            Are we talking about addiction or disabilities? I was talking about people who have nothing wrong with them other then being lazy with a sense of entitlement and using the tax payers to fund their miserable existence. It comes with the territory. I could walk into any gov’t office and do the same thing tomorrow but I’d rather go to work. I think it’s clear you have had a problem with addiction or a family member with one as I have so lets be truthful and stop enabling this type of behavior.

          • danvalenti
            October 15, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

            There is much in what you say. An addiction still boils down to a choice. Choice is an act of will. Why should we subsidize someone’s poor choices? It makes no sense.

    • danvalenti
      October 15, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

      It’s foolproof. I heartily endorse it!

  9. Still wondering
    October 12, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    Impecable logic!

  10. Sonny
    October 12, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

    I feel what has been overlooked in the city attorney fiasco was the letting go or dismissal of Mrs Yons husband from his city management job by the present mayor. In the game of politics i feel this is her revenge against the mayor. I never understood how Mr Yon magically became head of whatever department with all the Barrett fancy name changes under Ruberto. The past council let it fly quietly. I do not feel that job was advertized and hired above board. It kind of resembles the present fiasco with Mrs Whiting magically winning the semi free labor for her house. This is why their are ethics guidelines in place but if people with authority choose to bypass these you end up with no trust feelings in this town

  11. tito
    October 12, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    Alert! This weeks King of the Swamp’ award goes to non other than, Concerned, who coined the phrase The Whitney House’ …love it!

  12. tito
    October 12, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    We understand the circumstance with the kids doing the project, but this contract has stench written all over it.

  13. tito
    October 12, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    We understand the circumstance with the kids doing the project, but this contract has stench written all over it.

    • levitan
      October 14, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

      It does have it here, but I am still waiting for all the facts sans spin.

  14. Scott
    October 12, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    “delivering information to a company that’s suing [us] in court.”

    Yeah what lawyer does that? If someone cost me $100 they’d be fired.

    • levitan
      October 14, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

      Well, it was Yon apparently who was deposed.The deposition is where the information is obtained.

      • billy
        October 14, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

        scott if you beleive that one she has a bridge to sell you

      • danvalenti
        October 15, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

        She was served with a notice of deposition. The actual deposition never took place, as the case was ostensibly “settled.”

        • levitan
          October 16, 2012 at 6:07 am #

          In that case, no beans were spilled by the lawyer or Yon, were there?

    • billy
      October 14, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

      any other city that would make sense but in this city when our lawyer does it. they come up with a reason she did it or why anyone but them is responsible

    • billy
      October 14, 2012 at 7:46 pm #

      scott read the court transcripts and youll see who did all the talking . . your right on with your your opinion but that will leave no doubt no matter how much spin you hear

      • levitan
        October 15, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

        Billy, could you restate that? I am not following you here.

    • danvalenti
      October 15, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

      Krol nailed it with that characterization.

  15. Pauly
    October 13, 2012 at 5:54 am #

    No vote by the firefighters, they are told by the big union leaders who they should support. Tim Bartini is just a politician in union Pres. clothing.

    • Tim Bartini
      October 13, 2012 at 7:01 am #

      “Pauly” Last month over 300 PFFM members voted to back Warren. Any member of the PFFM could have gone to the meeting and stated thier case for any candidate. Sorry but Im not a politician,just a FF who cares about my career. By the way you know my name but you and “Kevin Jenning” are too cowardly to use your real names.

        October 13, 2012 at 7:27 am #

        Sorry Tim agree with you a lot, but not with your Unions pick on her. Its your choice and right to back who you like however.

      • Scott
        October 13, 2012 at 8:04 am #

        Tim more people should use their real identity I think the discussions would go further.

        I have come to the conclusion that any candidate that the majority of MA liberals get all gooey over is not worthy of my vote. I think of what I’ll lose rather then gain when I cast a vote.

        Scott Moore

        • Tim Bartini
          October 13, 2012 at 9:17 am #

          Scott Thats why we live in the great US. People can make their own choice. I wonder if any ex employees of KB Toys will vote for Romney?

          • joetaxpayer
            October 13, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

            Tim get over it GE would be long gone with or with out Jack Welch. KB Toys would also would be long gone with or with out Romney.

          • Scott
            October 13, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

            There must be. I mean all he did was take a failing company, barrow a huge amount of money it would never be able to pay back, take his cut and walk away.

        • danvalenti
          October 15, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

          One thing everyone can respect from my good friends Scott Moore and Tim Bartini is that they post under their actual names.

      • Scott
        October 15, 2012 at 4:52 am #

        So when they actually vote do they get a penalty if they change their mind?

  16. Pauly
    October 13, 2012 at 7:32 am #

    Paul is my real name go by Pauly.300 out of how many members?Wouldn’t be a more accurate vote if each member was sent a mail in voters ballot?
    Your statement is accurate just a firefighter who cares about MY!!! career sums you up, all about yourself and what you can get from the city and your union.

    • Tim Bartini
      October 13, 2012 at 7:48 am #

      Pauly Your still a coward…I care about my career.. My career not just a job, my Career.. .

  17. Ron Kitterman
    October 13, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    Did the united auto workers endorse anyone for the Mass Senate race ?

  18. dusty
    October 14, 2012 at 3:47 am #

    A gentleman has a letter to the editor in today’s Berkshire Eagle referring to mayor Bianchis detractors as the Opposition Party. I think he has described what is going on very well. These councilors do not see their number one priority as serving the public but rather maligning the current mayor.

    another term might be “goon squad” but either way it is sad (once again) for the poor citizens of the stumbling bumbling city of Pittsfield ma.

    • billy
      October 14, 2012 at 7:35 pm #

      opisition? goon squad? it used to be called debate? and to question the actions of the mayor lawyer …when its in court documents on what was said…its their duty as a branch of goverment to do it not.blind loyalty in spite of the facts. its not picking on anyone its doing their job.. if the facts didnt exist there would nt be the well rehearsed show at the tuesday council meeting …. having another view doesnt make you oppisition ? its called democracy

      • billy
        October 14, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

        scott got it right on the 100 grand and no sooner was it out of his mouth. someone was their spinning it lmao… they dont wanna be responsible or accountable for anything

        • joetaxpayer
          October 15, 2012 at 3:52 am #

          If there was such strong opposition, why file eleven to zero. Something does not smell right. If the couunci had this much passion on every issue, the city would be in better shape though.

        • levitan
          October 15, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

          someone was their spinning it lmao…

          Billy, disregard my prior request for clarification. I’ll never get a handle on the texting culture.

          • danvalenti
            October 15, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

            Me neither. I have sent a total of 0 — zero — texts in my life. I have received the same number.

      • danvalenti
        October 15, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

        “Democracy.” A diminutive of two Greek works: “demos” = people and “krasis” = people. Literally, it means “Power to the people.”

  19. Ron Kitterman
    October 14, 2012 at 4:39 am #

    Thanks Dusty for a great post

  20. skier1
    October 14, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    I’ll say it again, all elected officials need to leave their personal agendas and egos at the door and do what they were elected to do!

    • levitan
      October 15, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

      On the other hand, we have 4 councilors bashfully attempting damage control. The wise ones were those who remained silent. They spoke with their mouths closed.

      • danvalenti
        October 15, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

        Disagree. Those who remained silent chose the ultimate in fence-sitting. That is not leadership. Thanks for your participation on this site!

        • levitan
          October 16, 2012 at 6:11 am #

          There was no fence to sit upon. I can’t see why they would engage in the nonsense. Morandi, the community who had the courage to face the mike, and others said plenty.

          Their silence can be taken as statemenship.

          • danvalenti
            October 16, 2012 at 7:11 am #

            Silence CAN be taken as anything, but in that meeting, given the context, only the misinformed would take it that way. We that sat through the hour after hour of the live session knew that.

  21. tito
    October 14, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    This is Palookaville skier, personal vendettas and ego’s are the going mantra.

  22. outfox
    October 15, 2012 at 11:16 am #

    Wish Palookaville would makes its website user friendly. Wasted a boatload of time navigating the city website trying to help a friend find the voter registration deadline. If we wanted to be in a parade, however, *that* information is right at our fingertips. Deadline is Weds. @ 8p.m., btw.

    • levitan
      October 15, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

      Goes into the “If it’s too hard for you to find, you don’t really want it” Department.

      I get my voter info at It’s nicer and has an pretty picture of Galvin for you to feast your eyes upon.

    • danvalenti
      October 15, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

      The user-UN-friendly nature of the city’s website provides evidence, positive, that the city DOES NOT WANT YOU, THE PRIVATE CITIZEN, INTERFERING WITH ITS BUSINESS. Why? Because THEY “know” better than you. … or so they THINK.

      • outfox
        October 15, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

        Actually, once we found a phone number for Linda Tyer’s office, we had our info in 2.2 seconds.Calls to Michelle Cetti,the clerk listed for voters, went repeatedly to a voicemail that said she was on the phone and to leave a message and our call would be returned. We figured we had a better chance of getting into the Halloween parade with a float depicting KingKong wreaking havoc atop city hall than we did of receiving a return call.

      • levitan
        October 15, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

        Do you really think the designers of the Pittsfield web site sat around and pondered how to personally stick it to the residents? A simpler theory is that the site is the product of a highly decentralized system.

        • outfox
          October 15, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

          I agree it’s a badly designed website; I don’t for a minute think that there’s a conspiracy afoot. Frustrating trying to retrieve useful information from it, to say the least.

        • danvalenti
          October 15, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

          Of course not. The fact that they have a website that acts as if it’s 1999 says it all. It doesn’t take a plan to “stick it to the residents.” It takes a LACK of planning to do that.

          • outfox
            October 15, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

            Touche, DV.

          • levitan
            October 16, 2012 at 6:13 am #

            user-UN-friendly nature of the city’s website provides evidence, positive, that the city DOES NOT WANT YOU, THE PRIVATE CITIZEN, INTERFERING WITH ITS BUSINESS

            I should remember to ignore what you say and just try to imagine what you mean?

          • danvalenti
            October 16, 2012 at 7:01 am #

            Yes, you could do that, OR, you could get underneath the words, as all careful readers (“good” readers) do.

          • levitan
            October 16, 2012 at 9:45 am #

            Dan, there is nothing to look under here. As a careful writer, I try my best not to say things that I do not mean.

  23. Randy Savage
    October 15, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

    Can someone explain to me why Degnan had to get her own lawyer to explain her Spectrum actions during the council meeting last week? The city solicitor’s office is a very high profile job. If she did nothing wrong why would she need a mouth piece. A simple explanation by Degnan would have been in order to the council.
    Answer: She is not capable !!!!!

    • Scott
      October 15, 2012 at 5:28 pm #

      Here’s one for you the mayors office actually contacted me due to a post I left on the Berkshire Eagle disqus bog criticizing the mayor and the handling of the Spectrum case and how I was unhappy with how things have been going since he took office. Sue Santolin thought it would be helpful to me If I contacted them in person so that they could explain things to me as if I didn’t truly understand what was going on. They don’t get it’s them that need to be told how things are.

      • levitan
        October 15, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

        Well fancy that. The Mayor’s office actually had the nerve to contact you in person, as opposed to on this blog. I’m sure they’ll never make that mistake again.

        • Scott
          October 16, 2012 at 4:32 am #

          It’s not that they contacted me it’s the manner in which they spoke to me like here let us tell you. Also I contacted them several times before with no response. I voted for Beanchi through his actions he’s not living up to what he said period I don’t need it explained to me.

    • levitan
      October 16, 2012 at 6:15 am #

      In other words, only the guilty hire lawyers. Good thinking, Randy.

      • danvalenti
        October 16, 2012 at 6:59 am #

        Have to admit, though: Hiring a lawyer, when you are not only a lawyer but the city’s lawyer, is unusual.

        • levitan
          October 16, 2012 at 9:39 am #

          Hmm? I doubt a lawyer would prefer to self represent in court. And given the shameful manner that employee had been libeled, I feel that hiring an attorney to represent her side as very reasonable.

        • levitan
          October 16, 2012 at 9:47 am #

          In addition, I add that a lawyer is your agent – their words belong to you.

  24. Scott
    October 15, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

    There is much in what you say. An addiction still boils down to a choice. Choice is an act of will. Why should we subsidize someone’s poor choices? It makes no sense.

    We all have choices and I have the up most compassion and understanding for those afflicted whether it’s through personal choice during recreation or the destructive environment many of us are unfortunate to be brought up in. I believe through nutrition and education one can overcome whatever life throws at them. At some point we need to take some personal responsibility. My issue is with the system not the people who fall victim to it until they become unwilling to accept and change. There’s a turning point where they become part of the problem as well.

    • levitan
      October 15, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

      Many people fall prey to drugs on account of the environment in which they live. Children of substance abusers are genetically predisposed to becoming addicts themselves. Even alcohol produces genetic changes that result in alcohol tolerance in future generations. (I can look up the study in Science or Nature – dates back to the ’80;s.)

      • outfox
        October 15, 2012 at 7:24 pm #

        Levitan, Stanton Peele, an eminent voice in the addiction field, has much to say on what you have just posted about. Google him if you have the time. Here’s a hint: he’s pro harm reduction, which makes him ok in my book, but a maverick in many others!

        • Scott
          October 16, 2012 at 4:34 am #

          Understanding why you may be the way you are is very helpful.

          • levitan
            October 16, 2012 at 6:19 am #

            Somehow, you have got your head twisted around the notion that if you could just look me up in the phonebook you could somehow manage something miraculous.

            If this helps, I have never met you and do not know who you are. You can assume the same holds on your end.

  25. joetaxpayer
    October 16, 2012 at 3:27 am #

    If we only had a better web site and a Carsouel, GE and KB would still be here.