Article

TOMORROW, THE INSIDE DIRTY DEALING ON CONTRACTGATE, BUT FOR TODAY, THE PLANET DISSECTS A BIZARRE, MEMORABLE, AND ANTICLIMACTIC SET OF ACTIONS AND NON-ACTION ON THE COUNCIL’S DELIBERATION OF NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE IN CITY SOLICITOR DEGNAN … NOBODY WON AND NOT ONLY THAT, EVERYBODY LOST

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, OCT. 11, 2012) — No. No, no, no, no, no.

Did you get that? No.

THE PLANET has NOTHING — n-o-t-h-i-n-g — to do with “helping Paul Ryan‘s prep team” for tonight’s debate against the vice president. We’ve been patient with a lot of ridiculous rumors of this sort, but having had to deal with the above several times today, wethinks the trolls are out there working overtime, for some reason. We say good, for as they expend — nay, waste — time and energy on us, they can’t be doing further harm to We The People.

It’s amazing how blindly political, in the worst sense, the fundamentalist supporters on both sides of the presidential race can be. This being Massachusetts, of course, it means being surrounded by Obama-ites and, trickling down from there, lockstep loyalty to the Party above all, even when it violates common sense. In THEIR minds, of course, saying that someone is working for Romney or Ryan is considered the ultimate put-down. Anywhere else, than can be seen as a compliment.

In the end, no one will ever know who we worked for, if anybody or nobody, in this campaign, and who we didn’t work for, because we never discuss our client list. THE PLANET still toils in the Dreaded Private Sector, which means we rely on our own initiative for put food on the table and fuel in the furnace. That affords us luxurious layers of secrecy not available for those who choose to be fed from the public trough.

We wouldn’t have it any other way.

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NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE IN CITY SOLICITOR SOLICITED NOTHING, IN THE END, BUT SHAKING AN ALREDY SHKY CONFIDENCE IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Speaking of our two favorite people, Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski, they got a good hosing down last night during No-confidence-gate and Contractgate.

Simply out, nobody “won.” Everybody lost.

Kathy Degnan lost by having her professional competence challenged, with the issue not resolved. Mayor Dan Bianchi lost by blowing his cool at the end. Chris Yon lost by caving in at the end and pulling back the petition when it was far too late for that to do anything but antagonize everyone in the room, on both sides. Kevin Sherman lost by going out on a limb, supporting Yon, only to have her saw the limb off at the nub, resulting in a painful (though not fatal) crash. Proponents (Kroll, Clairmont, Lothrop et. al) and opponents (Mazzeo, Morandi, Connell et. al.) lost by not getting a chance to vote, up or down, on the measure. Those who said nothing at the meeting (Cotton, Capitanio, Simonelli) lost by having turned in a blank sheet on a night when leadership was required. It’s hard to imagine any move being as badly played, on both sides. You would have to make this stuff up anywhere else, but, remember, “This is Pittsfield.”

No-confidence-gate: Where Do We Begin?

Since we commented yesterday at more length on Contractgate, let’s talk about the bizarre unfolding of events Tuesday night during the council’s deliberations on the motion by Kevin Sherman and Chris Yon of the city council seeking a no-confidence vote against city solicitor Kathy DegnanTHE PLANET shall reserve out choicest remarks for that outrageous travesty of justice — Contractgate — tomorrow.

Now, on to No-Confidence-Gate (every scandal is a “gate,” right? Thank you, Richard Nixon).

Where do we begin?

The night got off to a bad start. Sherman told the crowd, which as wound tighter than Ringo Starr’s snare drum head on the night of Feb. 9, 1964, that this was a city council meeting. It wasn’t a court room, a radio talk show, or a blog (we appreciated the nod; THE PLANET came up in several references throughout the evening). Despite the fact that it wasn’t a court room, several personages were put on trial. You shall see how (but not why — that is a questions for the hearts and souls of others).

It’s clear that Mayor Bianchi’s team worked the phones and beer halls, the Friends list and socials, and called on those who owed them one to not just attend the meeting but also to make remarks at the open mic portion of the meeting. In stacking the room with supporters, Bianchi tilted the playing field just enough to make level-headed discourse — always difficult even under optimum conditions — all the more of a challenge.

More than 20 people spoke at the open mic, only one (from memory, Debbie Dwyer) remotely in favor of Yon’s action. A handful spoke on unrelated matters (Dave Hover and Lee Everett). The remainder spoke against the Sherman-Yon Act, some in visceral and even threatening terms. After each person dissed Sherman-Yon, you could count on a burst of raucous applause when the speaker finished. It’s almost as if one of the mayor’s flunkies had the applause sign lit up on cue.

Sherman made attempts to silence the outbursts, but to no avail. This was due to (a) the recalcitrance of the crowd, which at times resembled a nascent mob and (b) Sherman’s lack of forcefulness. He should have more heavily gaveled such outbursts, and when they didn’t stop, offered to provide free police escorts out of chambers to anyone who couldn’t behave in an adult manner.

The worst of the open mic speakers was Don Davis, who issued a veiled physical threat to opposing councilors. Sadly, his ignorant remarks were greeted with the loudest cheers. Davis’ remarks inflamed the crowd, got the meeting off to a bad start, and had no proper place among people of good will trying to work through a problem. Bianchi can’t control what a hot-headed citizen might say at open mic, but Davis did the mayor no good in issuing his threat.

THE PLANET says this as an advocate of the most rough-and-tumble politics, but they must be done with a certain amount of aplomb. The best example we can provide is the British Parliament. That chamber is not for the feint of heart, but they bludgeon with wit, razor sharp rhetoric, satire, and humor.

A ‘Never Mind’ for the Ages

The meeting got under way. Before we get inside the guts of the debate, we must fast forward to the denouement, which occurred when, out of the blue, after a couple hours of emotional deliberation, Yon — incredibly — pulled her petition off the table. The denouement is that point in a story where the plot has its ultimate revelation.

It was the most egregious “never mind” we can recall in 37 years of covering politics in three states. Yon’s action provided a moment consisting of equal parts dumbfoundedness, implausibility, dissatisfaction, and unrelieved alleviation (if we can be oxymoronic about it). Her action caught everyone, on both sides, off guard.

The Eagle launches off the perch of the cliff, goes into the dive for the kill, and at the last second changes his mind. The detective comes into the room with the murder suspects, reveals that one of them is the killer, and right before he names the guilty party, he says, “You know, I’m not going to tell you.” The condemned is led to the chair, strapped in, but there’s a power outage and the juice won’t flow. 

Anticlimax: a deterioration of a situation that presents an unsatisfactory conclusion to a previously built up ascent or rise. A letdown. A bummer.

Think about it.

A Series of Steps that Led to the Worst Action 

1.) Yon originally, in frustration and rightly or wrongly having felt she was being scapegoated for Spectrum by Mayor Bianchi and attorney Degnan, drafted the no-confidence petition.

2.) She went to council president Kevin Sherman, a get-along to go-along type, a born peace-maker who as his default position follows the road of accommodation and statesmanship, for backing. She did not want to introduce this glowing, sulphur-hot petition alone. Sherman, being a stand-up guy and, frankly, sharing many of the concerns mentioned by Yon, took a big risk in backing her, lending his name to the call for no-confidence. Sherman went out on a precarious limb, no doubt.

3.) Sherman immediately places the resolution on the council agenda.

4.) The matter receives more than two hours of emotional, loud, indignant debate, conducted in a spirit of vexation.

5.) The council chambers and everyone in it — our Right Honorable Good Friends on the dais, the mayor and his backers, spectators, the press, all watching in via PCTV — have been whisked up into a state of lathered expectancy, waiting at last for the resolution: a vote that will, one way of the other and for good or not put the matter behind everyone.

6.) And then …

6.) And then …

6.) And then …

7.) Nothing. Yon says “never mind,” which was the worst thing she could have done.

You Can’t Pull Back from a Point of No Return

She deprived her backers and opponents to express themselves in the only way that actually tallies, that is, in a vote. Her backers were upset and her opponents equally angry, viewing the move as a pre-planned stunt — Yon having her cake and eating it too.

THE PLANET must be clear: We don’t subscribe to that version. Based on our post-meeting interviews, we can say with confidence that Yon pulled the motion from the table in and at the moment. She intended it to be seen as a peace offering and as the easiest way to disperse the big, black clouds that had gathered over city hall. Instead, it produced the opposite. The Black clouds are still there, only they weren’t allowed to spill their rain on Tuesday night. The rain will continue to build up, and mark THE PLANET’s words, will spill out in a deluge sometime between now and the November 2013 municipal elections. It’s going to be an interesting year.

For his efforts, Sherman was left holding the bag when Yon pulled her petition off the table, literally at the last hour. If he had known the petition would be pulled, would he have lent his name to it? Would he have even allowed it to go on the agenda.

Pulling the Rug Out from Under Everyone

As part of our interview with councilor Yon about a week before Tuesday’s meeting, when she informed us of her move, we though it our duty to question her resolve. Without getting into details, we asked her, basically, “Do you realize how serious this step is? Sure, it doesn’t have legal consequences, but this takes whatever animus there is now and raises it to an entirely new level. Once you introduce this, it can’t be taken back. It’s a point-of-no-return position. You sure that’s what this has come to?” She said yes, understood the ramifications, and subsequently, in his expression of frustration that he couldn’t resolve the matter in meetings with the mayor, so did Sherman.

Moving the petition off the table when she did had the effect of pulling the rug out from under everyone standing on it, which was the entire room.

THE PLANET spoke to Yon twice, first last night at the break after two and a half hours of Spectrum and today. We can relay this much:

a. Her motion was done at the last minute, impromptu, and totally in the moment — not the best time or circumstance for an action in a deliberative body.

b. No one had advanced notice of this, including Sherman.

c. She now regrets her action, partially, and partially doesn’t, which is to say, she still finds herself conflicted over the move. Yon was conflicted in submitting the petition in the first place and was as equally divided pulling it back. When one introduces a petition with the political consequences of a no-confidence vote in the administration (and make no mistake, the ultimate target was the Bianchi Administration, not just the admin’s city solicitor), one has to be in a mindset of “Damn the torpedoes.” It’s “over the top” time. Total commitment.

d. When she made a motion to speak again, denied by president Sherman, it was NOT to put the petition back on the table.

Another Lost Opportunity

There’s only one scenario that could have saved Yon’s anti-climactic action: if Bianchi had responded with acceptance. The move to rescind could have been a good thing, had Mayor Bianchi acted upon two of his three options. After Yon made the grand gesture to fall on her sword, thereby extending a big olive branch to the administration, Bianchi had three options:

a.) Do nothing

b.) Speak and use this as a healing moment.

c.) Speak and stir up the coals.

Either a.) or b.) would have worked out. In a.) the Yon’s gesture of reconciliation, if that’s what it was, would have been taken as a kind of ink-blot test by all those involved in the contentious debate. Both sides could have said, “we won,” fooled themselves into thinking it was true, and probably slept pretty good at night. In b.) he could have made a speech along these lines:

BIANCHI: I appreciate the councilwoman’s gesture. No one wanted to be here tonight having this debate, and it was painful for both sides. Mistakes were made on both sides. I acknowledge that and certainly can say I made a few, but I believe that because of this, we can all grow and learn. I have no doubt we all acted in what we thought was good faith, but in light of Councilor Yon’s withdrawing of this petition, let me put forth to this council that we, together, use this moment as the tipping point, one that gets us on the right track again, to collaboration and action for the good of the citizens of Pittsfield. 

… or some such.

But no. In a rarity, Bianchi let his emotions get the run of him. He chose c.), went to the microphone, and tore Yon and her allies a new one, basically over what he called the mischaracterization of Yon and Sherman when they said they tried on multiple occasions to settle the matter in discussion and diplomacy. Sad to say, but Bianchi lost his cool. In one three- or four-minute diatribe, he threw Yon’s olive branch back in her face, assuring that the divisiveness felt so acutely in the chambers up to that point would linger, go on living, and probably breed like rabbits.

The moment Bianchi threw back Yon’s gesture, he gave birth to a Monster that will eventually come back into the village to wreak havoc. On whom? That remains to be seen. It was, without question, the lowest moment of Bianchi’s tenure. In sinking to that level, he threw away a golden opportunity for healing.

We understand where Bianchi was coming from, having had to sit through a long, unpleasant meeting in which he was, essentially, on trial. Things got hot. He’s human. He felt the need to protect one of his own, the same way Sherman felt he had to fly cover for Yon. We understand that, but in such moments, the great ones rise above their emotions and do the right thing.

No Winners, Only Losers

Bianchi’s attack on Yon served only to whip up his troops to a frenzy. Not long after the mayor spoke his words to Yon and Sherman, Bianchi loyalists noisily got up during Barry Clairmont‘s second turn on the floor, disrupting Clairmont and leaving Sherman exasperated and having to gavel with a beat that failed to be heard, as loud as it was. Clairmon’t 15-minute recitation of Massachusetts law involving attorney-client privileges, and how in his view, Degnan violated them, occurred for one reason only: He and the others didn’t get a chance to vote. Was it unnecessary? Sure. Again, though, all is context, and, placed within the events of a most unthinkable meeting, understandable.

All in all, the scene played out as a bottom, of sorts, on a night where it looked like things couldn’t sink any lower. Instead of rising above their emotions, Bianchi’s troops lowered themselves to the least common denominators on the other side of this ugly “debate.” No one “won.” Everyone lost.

How utterly “Pittsfield.”

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AND ON SUCH STRANGE EVENTS WE, LIKE MIDAS, SIT AS LORD CHANCELLOR OF PLAYS. ON POLICIANS’ TOMBS WE SEE LARGE LETTERS WRIT: “LO! THEIR ACTIONS ARE BAD. WE MUCH PREFERRED WIT.”

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

 

 

83 Responses to “TOMORROW, THE INSIDE DIRTY DEALING ON CONTRACTGATE, BUT FOR TODAY, THE PLANET DISSECTS A BIZARRE, MEMORABLE, AND ANTICLIMACTIC SET OF ACTIONS AND NON-ACTION ON THE COUNCIL’S DELIBERATION OF NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE IN CITY SOLICITOR DEGNAN … NOBODY WON AND NOT ONLY THAT, EVERYBODY LOST”

  1. taxmano
    October 11, 2012 at 9:16 am #

    Dan,
    Interesting analysis.
    Some other thoughts:
    1. Only Yon herself will ever really know if she had planned to file the motion all along (still giving her the opportunity to humiliate deeply another human being), or if she intended to put the petition back on the table after being admonished by the mayor. Both possibilities still seem very plausible to me.

    2. I think that the mayor was right to show a pair under the circumstances.

    3. Barry’s arrogant display was a flagrant attempt to show his legal chops (which were sadly lacking), but his mean-spirited attacks only served to reveal much about him as a person.

    • dusty
      October 11, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

      I am with you taxmano. I feel the mayor had every right to be pissed and to hell with political correctness. It showed backbone. People are complaining that he is too soft. He can’t win and with the GOB riding his ass in the background it cannot be easy. I am sure there is a lot more going on behind the scenes that we do not know about but he does.

      I feel the same way about the Spectrum situation. It is easy to armchair quarterback the situation from afar but only those in the middle of the mess really know what is going on.

      He still has my full support. Maybe more now that I see what he is up against.

      • Scott
        October 11, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

        Well why don’t he inform the public if he ran a race on transparency what’s the issue?

      • BEE
        October 14, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

        The mayor needs a lesson in anger management. I wouldn’t visit him in his office if he treats people like he treated Yon. I have seen him yell several times at council meetings, not
        good as a leader. He will NEVER get my vote again.

  2. joetaxpayer
    October 11, 2012 at 9:39 am #

    Dan, vote or no vote everyone is a loser . Vote meant nothing, was all about a woman scorned. If Mrs Yon would have stop saying the Mayor would not meet her and Mr.Sherman he would not have lost it. She should of just said, make a motion to file.That would have been the end of it.

  3. FPR
    October 11, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    Hey Dan,

    yeah wow, what a mess!

    I’d still like to see the council meeting but that City Link web-site is probably thee most useless site I’ve ever seen. Whoever is running that site has no idea what they’re doing.

    If someone recorded it can you upload it to youtube.com so we can see it? I would appreciate it.

    This council meeting is pivotal to the future of Pittsfield.

    Scary when you have so many who do not know what they’re doing.

  4. Bill Rupprecht
    October 11, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    This is not the first controversy regarding Kathleen Degnan. As far as I’m concerned she abused her office in the past. A neighbor complained to her about a lot I was trying to sell. Rather than continue here, I will post my Web page telling the complete story. People can make up their minds on this. http://www.inthepitts.com

    Thanks to all who reply.

    • danvalenti
      October 11, 2012 at 11:12 am #

      Thank you, BILL

      • JB
        October 11, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

        Interesting that the key aspect of Bills issue is refusal to issue a building permit.

    • Scott
      October 11, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

      I heard the city was tough to do business with from a lumberjack who had a chance to build on an old lot on Crofut st. It was a dilapidated structure compared to what else is on that street but what the heck a house on the tax roll is better then a vacant lot. I assume he lost too because there ain’t no house there now and it’s been a while. Oh yeah this was after he invested is own money out of pocket in the place. Too bad he didn’t have better connections like Allegrone.

      • danvalenti
        October 11, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

        Stories abound from entrepreneurs frustrated with the lack of cooperation and even outright hostility shown by key members of the city. In fact, THE PLANET will have one such story next week, naming names.

        • Donald
          October 11, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

          I bet Don Davis isn’t on that list. I’m sure his performance the other night is worth a few city contracts as long as Bianchi is in office.

  5. AMBROSE
    October 11, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    What do you think they’ll do about the speeding on Circular Ave.? Chooch should be on the council.

    • Scott
      October 11, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

      Circular ave has bigger problems then speeding.

  6. Levitan
    October 11, 2012 at 10:48 am #

    It’s clear that Mayor Bianchi’s team worked the phones and beer halls, the Friends list and socials, and called on those who owed them one to not just attend the meeting but also to make remarks at the open mic portion of the meeting. In stacking the room with supporters, Bianchi tilted the playing field just enough to make level-headed discourse — always difficult even under optimum conditions — all the more of a challenge

    No, Dan, it came from people not willing to sit by and watch an administration get trashed by holdovers from the last. I showed up because I feel strongly this was not a professional matter but the ‘politics of destruction’ with the intent to damage a member of the public and undermine the Mayor.

    The Marchetti – Bianchi was hotly contested, and people on both sides are not going to take things for granted.

    Your anger towards public participation is unbecoming.

    • Levitan
      October 11, 2012 at 10:50 am #

      Also, you follow the Eagle’s model by neglecting to mention the common message from the public which was challenging the offending councilors to return their focus to matters of governing, not political sideshows.

      • danvalenti
        October 11, 2012 at 10:57 am #

        LEV
        Fair point, but we are saving that aspect for tomorrow’s piece. No, the Eagle’s model is superficial coverage than fails to get at the underlying issues.

    • danvalenti
      October 11, 2012 at 10:54 am #

      LEV
      There’s no anger at public participation. We love that part of it. Participating by threatening physical violence, however, helps no one. And come on, let’s be honest here: Much of the crowd showed up, vociferously, because of coordination and, as they like to call it, “energizing the base.” More than one person told me as much. Believe me, I well know of the hostilities left over from the previous administration and Bianchi-Marchetti.

      • Scott
        October 11, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

        I agree once violence comes into play all bets are off all is fair in love and war. Are we gonna have shoot outs or intellectual discussions to better the situation I hate idiots who think brute force is the answer shame on Don Davis for threatening I don’t like that. The mayors off ice contacted me in response from a post on “disqus”. They’re watching. (damage control.)

  7. Gene
    October 11, 2012 at 10:49 am #

    Excellent report Dan fair minded and even handed. Gives a good sense of what really happened. Much better than the Eagle’s.

    • Levitan
      October 11, 2012 at 10:53 am #

      Even handed? I don’t feel that he treated me in an even handed fashion at all. In addition, he focuses entirely on 1 speaker and doesn’t even mention what the public was complaining about.

      In addition, the reporting on this matter is so skewed and slanted it doesn’t even pass for journalism.

      • danvalenti
        October 11, 2012 at 11:04 am #

        LEV
        Which speaker were you? How could I treat you in any fashion, when I didn’t know you from any of the other speakers. And just because we didn’t mention that aspect of the meeting in today’s story doesn’t mean we were not going to do it. That will be in tomorrow’s piece. It’s interesting that you should view my account as skewed and slanted, but that only reflects your emotions. WIth all due respect, you aren’t what we would called the “disinterested observer.” I didn’t have a dog in the fight. As a journalist, I can’t afford that. I have to take a more omniscient point of view, which I did. I go where the evidence takes me. Thanks for your views.

        • Levitan
          October 11, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

          The disinterested have left town or don’t care to follow the news. Wasp for example would have us believe that governments elsewhere run smooth and without contention.

          Solution to Pittsfield Politics? Get off the Spectrum bandwagon the Eagle is rolling, and get your eyes on the Charter Review. It’s our only chance to make the biggest improvement and slash 6 seats off the Council and make it a council of 5. (We should be a city the size of Philadelphia to need that many seats on Fed. Street.)

          • danvalenti
            October 11, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

            LEV
            We agree on the importance of the charter review, though we tremble that it’s happening in Pittsfield. I’ve been all over the country and am familiar with many other towns. I’ve seen dysfunction at all levels of government. Trust me, the perforated nature of Pittsfield politics is in a class unto itself.

          • Levitan
            October 11, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

            In Philly ’80′s), they had the Mayor. And they had the City Council which met in the presence of the Police force needed to keep them from killing each other.

            We are not in a separate class.

          • danvalenti
            October 11, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

            Yeah, well you can cherry pick and find other in the same class, but it would not be representative of government in most other communities. We agree: Every government, no matter what level, has its issues, but in Pittsfield, going on a generation now, the clownery has been almost beyond belief. Proof is how, so long after the GE pullout, the city still hasn’t gotten itself together. Everything threatens to turn into a mess, and most of the time, it does.

      • Scott
        October 11, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

        You could clear things up by using your true identity.

        • levitan
          October 11, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

          Have I misrepresented myself? I thought I was very clear and consistent.

          Ohhhhhhhhh. My name. Actually, I rather like it and use it frequently outside of PV, so who is to say it isn’t my true identity.

          • danvalenti
            October 11, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

            Well, I could go back to old e-mails and get your name then compare it to the open mic speaker list, but why? If you want to identify yourself and tell us which speaker you were, then maybe we could respect your point.

  8. tito
    October 11, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    Posey and Valenti are Grand Slams!

  9. Wasp
    October 11, 2012 at 11:52 am #

    Tuesday evenings city council meeting was a shining example of why hundreds of young professionals like myself have had to leave the city we were born and raised in to find opportunities outside of Pittsfield to prosper. Not only was that meeting one of the most embarrassing and dysfunctional public displays I have ever witnessed but also a reflection of why our city will never reach it’s true potential. Where was the professionalism, leadership and vision that we need to make this city a better place?
    Engaging in an emotion fueled public debate served the citizens of Pittsfield no purpose. No professional setting would ever allow that behavior. Why did something so seemingly black and white become such a sensitive issue? Ms Degnan’s job was to represent the city and the city councilors, including Yon. Documents show she did not do that to the best of her ability and her performance was called into question. Also seems quite obvious that if a lawyer representing a client called the opposing council and provided them with information that helped their case they would be fired by their client, period. Why is this such a shock? This is work, it is not personal.
    No business would ever want to work and grow with us after watching that meeting. Mayor Bianchi had the opportunity to try to unite our city for the greater good and instead let his feelings get the best of him. He is supposed to be our leader, instead of leading he completely lost his cool and came unraveled.

    • danvalenti
      October 11, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

      Thank you, WASP, for your views.

    • BEE
      October 14, 2012 at 9:20 pm #

      Wasp, I couldn’t have said it better. CASE CLOSED. Now all go play nice in the sand box.

  10. Chuck Vincelette
    October 11, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    Councilors that had no confidence in the city solicitor should have voted against the petition to file. Especially Jonathan, John and Barry. Don’t understand their votes to file.

    • danvalenti
      October 11, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

      CHUCK
      Thanks for this clarification. The vote was not a roll call vote but an anonymous group significance. When they all spoke out their vote, I couldn’t tell the count. It’s only after Sherman said 7-3 and identified the three did I know. I wondered: Why didn’t anyone opposed to the filing (and I know several were) didn’t do as you say? Did they realize they could do it. And why wasn’t a roll-call vote taken? And why was the actual vote so hurried?

    • Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
      October 11, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

      Chuck and Dan, I believe all those involved knew they could have voted against the petition to file, but let’s be honest, those 3 didn’t have the uh, intestinal fortitude to do so

      • Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
        October 11, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

        If they truly believed she was incompetent, then is there any other reason that they would not have voted against the motion to file other than THAT THEY ARE GUTLESS?

    • B. Clairmont
      October 11, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

      Chuck,

      Good question. Let me try and explain.

      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.

      Dan, to your point, I did realize I could have voted no.

      Hill Billy, there are a lot of ways people have described me, but gutless, that would be a first.

      • danvalenti
        October 11, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

        Thanks, BARRY, for the honesty of admission. I agree with you: The council, those who would have supported Sherman-Yon, and especially those who back the mayor and Degnan deserved a vote. To pull the item at the last second was the worst possible move, one that will, unfortunately, not be forgotten by those who interpreted as proof of intent to disparage and not to get an actual vote.

        • B. Clairmont
          October 11, 2012 at 3:03 pm #

          Dan,

          I don’t disagree with your analysis.

          Barry

        • Nomad
          October 11, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

          Gee Dan. Maybe the next time you’re good friend Barry has Jim Ruberto over to his house for coffee, he’ll invite you to join them.

      • Dave
        October 11, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

        Barry- “How could I not support the person who submitted the petition”. First off, it was 2 people who submitted said petition. Even though he was non existent, except to bitch slap you when you were trying to teach us all about how to be a lawyer, Council President Sherman’s name was also on the petition. Second, following your logic, every ammendment brought by a councillor to one of their petitions should be voted for by you, because how could you vote against someone ammending their own petition. I appreciate you admitting your mistake, but it doesn’t undo the damage that was done.

      • levitan
        October 11, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

        Fairness to Degnan is an award in court for libel. Situations such as these is why we have that protection.

      • Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
        October 12, 2012 at 7:15 am #

        Thanks, Dancing BARRY, for the honesty of admission..

  11. Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
    October 11, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    Hey Dan, Lay Off Don Davis…You say wit and humor are used in the British Parliment and I submit to you that Mr Davis’s comment had humor and wit attached to them and frankly I can’t believe you would protect J-Lo, Krolly and dancing Barry, amoung others who had already used a metaphorical bat against Atty. Deegan…Karma DV, what goes around comes around, those guys slander someone to the Eagle and then don’t have the guts to do it on the record! Come on DV, this is Pittsfield, we like out heroes rough and tumble like Mr. Davis, truly a Man of the People!

    • Levitan
      October 11, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

      Makes me think, “Kettle meet the pot.” In court Dan V. explained the use of ‘rhetorical hyperbole,’ but look what happens to Mr. Davis when he tries it.

      • danvalenti
        October 11, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

        Good one, LEV, and we’ll award you style points, but it doesn’t wash. Being in court, defending the use of a rhetorical term written and consumed as words to be read (implying all the thoughtfulness that implies) is far different than using fighting words, even rhetorically, in front of a crowd of people jacked up with emotion, live and in real time. Written words allow thought that spoken words do not. You should know that.

        • Levitan
          October 11, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

          That’s nutty, and you know it. Did you feel frightened by the crowd? Everyone was seated and well behaved.

          The Eagle would have us believe it was attended by rabble-rousers and scofflaws, yet no police were summoned, no one was ejected, and no one is complaining about mistreatment. Compare that outcome to a North Adams or even Adams Council meeting.

          Tangent: On the other, what goes into print and is consumed by deranged people well out of sight could be a cause for concern.

          • danvalenti
            October 11, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

            Not, LEV, I never feel threatened, even when I am. The outbursts of the crowd made rational discourse even more problematic. That’s my point, and it cannot be refuted.

    • danvalenti
      October 11, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

      We will defend to the last Davis’ right to say what he did. Our point it merely this: Coming when it did, HOW it did, served no useful purpose in framing the deliberation to item 12 to come. That’s my only point. You have to know when to pull your punches and when not.

    • Scott
      October 11, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

      You make a good point out of context his comments appear threatening but I wasn’t able to see them first hand maybe I’ll attend a meeting some day.

      • levitan
        October 11, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

        No one, including DV felt threatened. It was rhetorical flourish, not unlike Skowron’s.

        • danvalenti
          October 11, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

          LEV
          Again, that point is granted. We raise the simple observation that Davis’ “rhetorical flourish” coming as it did in the long, grey line of what seemed to be orchestrated comments did nothing to help the discussion to follow. It only helped set a bad tone, one of derailment. At best, poor taste. At worst … we leave that to you.

    • BEE
      October 14, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

      Hill Billy, all I can say is your name fits your red-neck way of thinking. You are still in the sand box trying to play with the big boys – you WON’T Win.

  12. grams
    October 11, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    Hill Billy 2 in Ward 4 says it all! Those counselors had field day bullying Ms Degnan. All Don did was give them a taste of their own medicine. He is a hero in many ways!!!!

    • Dawn
      October 11, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

      Really? I saw someone behaving like a big thug.

    • BEE
      October 14, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

      Grams, go join Hill billy in the sand box.

  13. Not buying it
    October 11, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    President Sherman may have said it wasn’t a trial, but it sure looked like one on TV. Ms. Degnan had 2 defense lawyers, who I thought did a great job presenting the facts. For example, the damning voice mail. I now believe it was previously taken out of context in print. The explanation at the meeting made a lot of sense, once it was put in perspective. Plus, councilor Yon was never specifically identified. Then we had the other councilors, who may not be professional attorneys, but obviously spent a lot of time prepping with a few, just for this assault. I was also amazed to learn that Yon had gone to the Mayor and demanded he fire Degnan. Talk about growing a pair! Thankfully the Mayor finally did and asserted his outrage the other night. Good for him. If he didn’t, you’d probably be writing about how he wimped out. I’d imagine that President Sherman just wanted to crawl under his desk after allowing this fiasco to unfold on his watch.

    I wasn’t shocked when the rug was pulled. All along it appeared that this was nothing more than a public flogging / tar and feathering. Once the damage was done, Roseanne Roseannadanna showed up and said “Never mind.” The problem is that it wasn’t SNL in the 70s or the least bit funny! This selfish act caused a huge scar, not only on the intended victim, but also on everyone else involved.

    The whole ugly chapter did nothing to move the city forward. Instead, it reinforced the depth of decline in the city of Pittsfield. We can’t even attract a carasole. How are we ever going to get a major employer here? Sorry, stupid question.

    • Mark Smith
      October 11, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

      I agree. Attorney Glover defended Ms. Degnan well and the Council did not challenge her statements. Let’s discuss the Ruberto Administration’s Confidentiality Agreement. This is the reason for the lack of transparency. Councilor Lothrop could have called executive session during the June budget hearing as suggested by Ms. Degnan, but chose not to. Then, he has the audacity to claim he was not informed. I saw that meeting and it seemed clear to me the Councilors knew what she was talking about. The $100k was paid to Spectrum so they would withdraw their lawsuit, that as Atty Glover explained, the City would have lost due to Ruberto’s animus public statements.

      • danvalenti
        October 11, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

        We appreciate the well-expressed views, Mark.

      • Not buying it
        October 11, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

        Mark,
        Absolutely agree. Maybe there should be a no confidence vote for any councilor who admits they signed off on the budget, without knowing what every single dollar was for. That’s fiscally irresponsible!

  14. Ron Kitterman
    October 11, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    I don’t know political damage is hard to assess on this one. The crowd at the open mic was pretty much orchestrated, so we’ll have to see what chapter 2 brings out.

    • danvalenti
      October 11, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

      An astute comment, RON. Political damage? There sure was more than “some.” The assessment will likely come in next’s year’s elections.

  15. tito
    October 11, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

    A local taxpayer is going to ask for the removal of President Sherman next meeting, that is what we heard on the Diva’s show today From what has been happening lately, anyone can now be brought up on a no confidence vote.

  16. Ron Kitterman
    October 11, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

    Like the profiles in courage comparison by Council Clairmont and his honesty.

    • dusty
      October 12, 2012 at 2:49 am #

      He admitted he made a mistake. Does this mean he is not perfect? So can he allow that others may not meet this standard as well? And not be persecuted?

  17. Lisa
    October 11, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    Dan, I expected much more from you than your comments on the city council meeting the other night. Not only did Christine Yon run scared after listening to all the Bianchi supporters the other night but then she poorly decided at the last minute to take back the vote while she continually insulted Dan Bianchi’s integrity over again. I am so relieved that he let the public know the true facts of communications between Yon, Sherman and himself. I truly feel that if Christine Yon plans to stay in office, she should really think about what she plans to do and stand by her decision. And lets really be honest….Yon, Krol, and Clairmont will do anything to try to get Dan out of office even if they continue to look ridiculous. and I personally have NO CONFIDENCE in them.

    • danvalenti
      October 11, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

      Thank you, Lisa.

  18. tito
    October 11, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

    If you want to view incompetence, check out the vice presidential debate.

    • danvalenti
      October 11, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

      We’re watching it right now. There’s 20 minutes left. Unless Ryan comes up with the lucky punch, this goes to Biden.

  19. tito
    October 11, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

    If that is the case Planet, then the congressman will literally have to knock him out. With that being said, I am totally against violence.

    • danvalenti
      October 11, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

      He didn’t. Biden smoked him. It wasn’t even close as the Old Man took to young boy to the woodshed.

      • CONCERNED
        October 11, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

        what were you watching Dan ?????

      • joetaxpayer
        October 12, 2012 at 3:48 am #

        I thought Ryan won. Biden interupped Ryan over eighty times and was acting kinda strange. Really don’t see anything funny about the state of our country.

        • joetaxpayer
          October 12, 2012 at 3:58 am #

          Biden had better teeth, though I think they are fake.

      • taxmano
        October 12, 2012 at 4:53 am #

        I agree with you, Dan, the debate was a man vs. a boy
        ( and a lying, snarky, disrespectful one at that).

        Some much for the popular “liberal media” myth: nobody seems to be agreeing with our assessment of the debate…They seem to feel it was much closer and are handpicking soundbites that favor Lyin’ Ryan.

  20. tito
    October 11, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    Topo Gigio, good night, wherever you are?

    • danvalenti
      October 11, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

      “Good night, Eddieeee.”

  21. Rick
    October 12, 2012 at 5:50 am #

    I would like to thank Chris Yon for having the guts to bring the facts to the light. Having the resolve to do what is right even when it’s hard makes her a true leader. She isn’t even my councilor but she has my support.

    • Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
      October 12, 2012 at 7:13 am #

      What resolve are you talking about??

  22. grams
    October 12, 2012 at 7:46 am #

    To Dawn: You say he is a big thug. Apparently you don’t know him at all. He is a businessman with a huge heart who supports this city in so many ways, from, from Cancer programs to little league softball, special needs programs, etc. Before you make statements you really should think first. He is just one of many of us who are sick and tired of all the crap that goes on in this city.

  23. grams
    October 12, 2012 at 8:04 am #

    Barry: Just re-read your comments about being caught off-guard. You said you froze and didn’t know what to do. When that happens most people keep their mouth shut and listen to try and make sense. The truth is you are a bully, you are a gutless wonder with your own agenda. You were not expecting the comments and the “other side of the story”, by the way which was the truth read by Attorney Lee. You have the meanest spirit of any of them on the council. The others are just a little smarter and know when to keep their mouths shut (sometimes). Enjoy your false sense of power…believe me it will be a short ride for you. Election time is coming!!!!

  24. just sayin
    October 12, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    no comment