MORE ON CONTRACTGATE: AN ALMOST UNBELIEVABLE BREAKDOWN IN WE THE PEOPLE’s LINE OF DEFENSES … plus … PFD: SMOKIN’ IN THE BOYZ ROOM II — WILL TIM BARTINI ANSWER THE QUESTIONS?
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, OCT. 22, 2012) — It has happened again. The sharpest, most astute readership on THE PLANET has put forth an idea eminently doable with exactly the right means … if this was a fair fight, that is, if power rested where it belongs — in the hands of We the People instead of the clutches of the GOB‘s claws.
We credit Ron Kitterman for coming up with it: Why wouldn’t you want to put student carpenters and builders from Taconic High School to work rehabbing the Springside House instead of providing free, coerced labor for a favored secretary of the assistant superintendent of schools and head of the vocational department? Why would you want to put the students at work on a project that would benefit the entire city as opposed to having them used (and we mean “used”) to build a house for a Connected Insider, for her and her alone?
Ron Kitterman, you are a genius. That idea is even better than having students work on a Habitat for Humanity house. Have to bring back the Springside House.
As Ron points out, rehabbing Springside House benefits every citizen of Pittsfield. Building a mansion on Brickhouse Lane for Lynn Whitney benefits Lynn Whitney — all because of her connections.
We have caught them in the cookie jar on this one, ladies and gentlemen, and we have to put a stop to this.
How? By overturning this vote. The mayor could do it. The city council could do it. The school committee could do it. The superintendent of schools could do it. The State Ethics Commission could do it. We the People could do it.
It must be done.
Pittsfield City Government is on notice, including the mayor’s office, the city council, the school department, and the superintendent: Reverse this bad deal, or forever declare yourself an enemy of honest government.
How Could this Many Safeguards be Skirted? Ah, Everything is Possible in a City as Corrupt as Pittsfield
Anywhere else, one would say with so many safeguards in place, this type of deal could not happen.
(1) First line of defense — You stop this type of syspect dealing from even advancing by having it as a rule that no employee of the school department can apply for student labor. If this policy had been in place, the “legal” rip-off would have have been avoided.
(2) Second line of defense — If your community is asleep at the wheel, and the provision for keeping school department employees from bidding on such free work is not in the works, you stop this deal from happening because you have faith in the integrity of the school department itself. It is a community’s fair assumption that it should have public employees in place (rank-in-file and administrators) that would not seek to profit so selfishly and in such a morally bankrupt manner.
(3) Third line of defense — If you live in a city that cannot count on school department employees possessing ethics, citizens should have a right to expect oversight and accountability from the public school administration. The superintendent would step in and make a unilateral decision: This deal will not be allowed to proceed.
(4) Fourth line of defense — In Pittsfield, the deal orchestrated by Lynn Whitney and her boss, assistant superintendent Frank Cote, began under the long gone (thank heavens) supt. of schools, Jake Eberwein III, under whose watch the rioting mob cleaned out the store. The Whitney contract was executed under an interim superintendent, Gordon Noseworthy, who probably didn’t know about it and, when he did, probably didn’t want to step forward. Such is what We the People get when their representatives hire mercenaries. Protection therefore not forthcoming from the superintendent, the good citizens of an honest city would be able to rely on the school committee it elected. No school committee with integrity would ever allow such a contract to be approved. Ah, but this is Pittsfield, whose school committee had no problem saying OK. Chairman Alf Barbalunga, Jim Conant, Kathy Yon, Dan Elias, and Mayor Dan Bianchi all approved. Kathy Amuso did not vote (attending the funeral of her mother-in-law). Only Terry Kinnas said “No way.” Elias, to his credit, said he made a mistake in this vote. Bianchi hasn’t said a peep on his “yes” vote. THE PLANET has contacted him to explain, and we hope third time is a charm. He has not returned our last two requests for comment (on Spectrum). It will not be well for his political health to go into hiding.
(5) Fifth line of defense — Should the school committee fail the Little Guy, the State Ethics Commission should be counted upon to rectify the situation. In this case, the commission said that Whitney failed to meet three of the five criteria. Nonetheless, the GOB misapplied a loophole and got the matter kicked over to a deliberative body that has no jurisdiction: our Right Honorable Good Friends on the city council. The council should never have received this matter.
(6) The sixth line of defense — The council, having received this dubious matter, would, under normal circumstances, have immediately filed this measure, sending it back to the school committee for rebid. But no. Not in the land of Benigno Numine. The council approved, 7-3 (Chris Yon, Jonathan Lothrop, and Kevin Sherman voting no, with Barry Clairmont having recused himself since Whitney is a client). Unbelievable.
(7) The seventh line of defense — The CEO of the city, Mayor Bianchi, could have thrown the bully pulpit against this measure and taken the moral high ground. The mayor, though, already voted to approve in his role on the school committee. As far as that goes, he could move now to oppose this deal, doing as Elias did: Admit his mistake and go after it.
That’s where you stand on this, Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski. Seven lines of defense that, in a community with the minimum amount of honesty and integrity, would have been enough to prevent this legal swindle.
That’s where you stand, Mary Jane and Joe: Screwed. … unless, of course, some last-minute action proves successful. Let’s put it this way: Doug Flutie to Gerard Phelan. Get it?
SMOKIN IN THE BOYZ ROOM II
On our little item on the smokers of the Pittsfield Fire Department, we received lots of comment. The policy prohibits any fire fighter hired in 1988 or after from smoking. There’s no question there are fire fighters who smoke. Why, then, does acting chief Robert Czerwinski allow this flaunting of the rules?
When we asked specific question of Czerwinski, he did not respond. We put the same questions to Tim Bartini, head of the fire fighters union. He stated the policy: “Any FF hired after 1988 can not use tobacco products. They would be subject to termination if caught. I will say this that everyone knows of this state law and are aware that there have been cases in MA(not Pittsfield) where the FF or Police officer were terminated.”
We had asked him: “Firemen who smoke. What is the department rule about this? Zero tolerance? How many firemen smoke? The figure I have from my sources is about 20%. That accurate?”
The usually straightforward Bartini, as you can see, did not answer our questions. We ask them again and call upon Bartini to offer specific answers to allay the widespread belief that he is hiding information to protect the puff addicts.
You dodged my question about the smokers. You stated the policy. You did not admit the obvious: There are smokers, hired after 1988. So, “chief,” I ask you point blank:
(a) Are there such smokers on the force?
(b) Do you know who they are, some or all?
(c) Does command know who they are?
(d) Should such members of the department be retained if they refuse to quit?
(e) How many smokers are there. My sources tell me between 10 and 15, probably closer to 15.
And that’s the way it is, Monday, Oct. 22, two thousand twelve.
What, you were expecting Walter Cronkite perhaps?