Article

CITY’s (BIANCHI’s) LAWSUIT AGAINST EX-SOLICITOR DOHONEY SHOULD BE DROPPED AS FRIVOLOUS… LOCAL ATTORNEY, ‘OWEN MARSHALL,’ OUTLINES CITY’S BEST STRATEGY IN BUILDING DEMOLITION CASE … CITY SHOULD FIGHT LIKE A BULLDOG AGAINST THE AWARDING OF ANY SUBSTANTIAL DAMAGES

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

ADD #1 LATER IN THE DAY 1/25/13THE PLANET spoke to assistant city solicitor Darren Lee in the afternoon, after we “went to press,” about the case against attorney Rich Dohoney and also about the demolition of the Melville Street apartment building. Our conversation added clarification to the city’s actions in its proceedings against Dohoney. In our next entry, we shall share what we learned in this conversation and also other information about these two cases, which have assumed an almost symbolic importance.

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, JAN. 25, 2013) — Now that the city of Pittsfield, through  city attorney Kathy Degnan, is suing former city solicitor Rich Dohoney personally over losing $175,000 on the razing of a Melville Street apartment building, THE PLANET wonders why it would take this highly unusual route.

You can read THE PLANET from two days ago for some of the facts of the case, especially as reported by Andrew Amelinckx of the Boring Broadsheet. Keep in mind that cities and towns — bound up as they are in the communal application of a labyrinth of rules, laws, and regulations — get sued all the time. It’s a civic fact of life. Many if not most suits are frivolous and are not heard. Others advance into court and hastily are thrown out. Others get argued, and them, like all of these proceedings, there are winners and losers.

When there is a loss, it’s almost unheard of for the city to go after its own attorney! That’s what’s happening here. To try to find out why, THE PLANET placed a call to the city solicitor’s office. Rosaura Roman, a highly competent executive legal secretary, put us on hold when we told her why we wanted to speak to Degnan. Roman said Degnan is not the attorney handling the case. Assistant city solicitor Darren Lee is handling it. We then asked to speak to Lee. Roman told us that Lee is only in the office one day a week and wasn’t available. She said she would pass our message along to him.

We then asked if we could speak with Degnan. Doing faithful service to her boss, Roman again reminded us that Degnan was not handling the case.

“If you want to speak with [Degnan] on another matter, that would be different, but she’s not handling [the Dohoney case],” Roman said.

“Okay, tell her I want to speak with her about another matter.”

Pause.

“I will leave her that message.”

When the phone doesn’t ring, we’ll know it’s Kathy Degnan not returning our call. Too bad, because we actually wanted to know the answer to one simple question: Why go after Dohoney over this case? Why not put all your energies into the damages hearing and try to chisel that down to nothing?

No Money Has Yet Changed Hands

In the case of the demolition of 11-15 Melville Street in April 2010, the city lost in a summary judgment by Judge John Agostini, who in November 2012 ruled that taxpayers must pay damages to Madeline Culpo, who owned the building through a company called Pesu Inc. Culpo wants $175,000. A hearing to decide damages has not been scheduled.

THE PLANET talked with a local attorney — call him Owen Marshall —  intimately familiar with this case, and he says an appeal should have been the correct route for the city — that or an aggressive showing at the damages hearing.

“If you review the city’s history with the [Melville Street] address, a strong case can be made on appeal,” says Marshall. “From what I understand, there has been no actual award of damages. There was just a judgment. An award of money, if any, will come [in a separate hearing]. The city still has the right of appeal.”

From his review of the case, Marshall says the city “acted with proper restraint against a property that had degenerated into a condition [the Health Department] determined to be, and I quote, ‘unfit for human habitation.’ The city did I believe obtain a condemnation order, one rescinded only three days later, even though no repairs had been made. That’s one mysterious aspect of the case that begs clarification.”

City’s Best Options

What’s the city’s best path from this point? Marshall, a respected and well-known officer of the court, offered three avenues:

(1) Drop the lawsuit against Dohoney. It’s a waste of time, talent, and treasure.

(2) Devote the city’s legal energy into either an appeal or an aggressive appearance at the damages hearing, or both.

THE PLANET asked Marshall how much an appellate court could look into the case. He told us that on appeal, the court can only review such evidence that was introduced in the initial trial. It’s not a retrial, and it can’t open up new evidentiary hearings or introduce any new information. The appellate court is basically an umpire on a play at the plate. It reviews the proceedings of the case makes a finding of safe or out.

Generally, grounds for appeal can include

* A claim that the trial was not conducting fairly

* The judge was fair but incorrectly applied the law

* The applicable law violates the state or federal constitution.

What chances would the city have on appeal? Of course, that’s impossible to answer here and now without full access to all the relevant court documents, including transcripts. In general, according to the state’s court website, roughly 80% of appeals support the initial ruling. In 15%, the appellate court reverses the trial court. In 5%, there’s a mix of affirmation of some part of the trial court’s ruling and a reversal of others. These percentages go up or down based on the unique circumstances of a particular case.

Chisel the Award Down to Nothing

If the city does not appeal and intends to go to the damages hearing, its best option, Marshall says, is to get the best attorney it can find and argue vigorously against the $175,000 figure. How vigorously? “As low as $1,” Marshall says. A token settlement would represent a “victory” for both sides in a Solomon-like way: Culpo would have the satisfaction of holding the city accountable for her building, while the city would have the satisfaction of knowing that, in effect, it acted properly in the first place. Most importantly, taxpayers wouldn’t have to pay anything more than four bits.

Is Kathy Degnan the right lawyer for the damages hearing or Darren Lee? Maybe she is, and maybe she ain’t.  Maybe he is, and maybe he ain’t. THE PLANET will say this: This provides Degnan with a golden opportunity to prove the gravitas of her office.

This is the way out of a legal nightmare, which is what the solicitor’s office has become for the Bianchi Administration. It drops the case against Dohoney and wins in the damages hearing. Degnan and her team should sharpen their teeth into points and go into the damages hearing prepared to chisel to award to Culpo to as little as possible. If she could do this, it would provide her and her office as well as Dan Bianchi a much-needed win heading into this campaign year.

Remember, no money has left city coffers yet. That’s a crucial point. It will take a damages hearing before that amount can be decided. Even then, if our reading of the law is correct, the city could still appeal. We are talking 175 Large of taxpayer money. How much money the Bianchi Administration loses on this case will be one strong measure of its effectiveness in sticking up for the Little Guy.

The Case Against Dohoney

Then there is the case against Dohoney. THE PLANET talked to Dohoney yesterday, but we are pledged to keep that discussion between the two of us. THE PLANET is sure he’s following the same advice he would give to a client: Do not publicly comment until you get your feet under you. In other words, be sure of the facts before you speak. We understand that. We do applaud him for taking the time to return our call, and promptly.

This is just a guess, a gut feeling based on nothing more than a hunch. The city’s “case” against Rich Dohoney will disappear after it has generated a few more headlines. In that regard, it has already served it’s apparent purpose, which is to smear Dohoney in payback to what the Bianchi Administration sees as a smear campaign mounted by certain councilors against city solicitor  Degnan. It’s demoralizing to think that local politics works this way, but it sometimes does.

City government? Yes, that’s what it has come to. Are we wrong? Well, that’s what we wanted to ask Kathy Degnan.

———————————————————————————-

MULTA PETENTIBUS DESUNT MULTA

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

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69 Responses to “CITY’s (BIANCHI’s) LAWSUIT AGAINST EX-SOLICITOR DOHONEY SHOULD BE DROPPED AS FRIVOLOUS… LOCAL ATTORNEY, ‘OWEN MARSHALL,’ OUTLINES CITY’S BEST STRATEGY IN BUILDING DEMOLITION CASE … CITY SHOULD FIGHT LIKE A BULLDOG AGAINST THE AWARDING OF ANY SUBSTANTIAL DAMAGES”

  1. FPR
    January 25, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    “When the phone doesn’t ring, we’ll know it’s Kathy Degnan not returning our call.”

    lol. Dan, that is one of thee best comments I’ve heard in long time. Made me laugh.

    Hypothetically speaking, when James Ruberto runs again and beats Dan Bianchi by a landslide for Mayor again, will a future mayor Ruberto turn around and sue Kathy Degnan for the loss of $100,000.00 in her handling of the Spectrum case?

    • Ed
      January 25, 2013 at 10:29 am #

      Hypothetically, should former mayor Ruberto emerge from his self imposed sabbatical and be elected mayor again, his transition should be relatively smooth as Dan Bianchi has shown great confidence in Ruberto’s managerial skill by retaining almost all of his appointees and staff including the police chief, fire chief, John Barrett, Cory Thurston, and most all of his department heads. Ruberto could hit the ground intact and running, unless the closet skeletons begin to rattle.

      • Still wondering
        January 25, 2013 at 11:39 am #

        It seems there is a fear out there that Squiggy could return to Pittsfield politics. I wouldn’t worry. He’s having to much fun on the brunch circuit down there in Florida.

  2. NBI
    January 25, 2013 at 11:43 am #

    Hey Dan, when you say no money has left the city coffers, it raised a question. Do you know who paid to demolish the house? I believe the taxpayers did for the property on East St. You know… the site of the future DPW HQ.

    Gee, I wonder if that that guy will decide to sue the city for tearing down his property too?

    • danvalenti
      January 25, 2013 at 11:48 am #

      NBI
      Good point. As clarification, when we say no $$ has left city treasury, we mean for the damages in the lawsuit.

  3. Jonathan Melle
    January 25, 2013 at 11:57 am #

    I hope that Jimmy Ruberto is not going to return to Pittsfield politics. He left Mayor Dan Bianch a big mess!

    • Scott
      January 25, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

      Bianchi doesn’t seem to think so he’s spending money like he’s in Vegas or something.

  4. Randy Savage
    January 25, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    What attorney lost the Cupo case

  5. Rivetor
    January 25, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    Darren Lee is a standup man, solid. I’d be confident in him but I can’t say the same for attorney Degnan. DV are the cases separate, the demolition/damages hearing and the case against attorney Dohoney?

  6. Ben
    January 25, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    Ruberto dumped Degnan for reasons that I am not sure of. Some say he didn’t want to be told by the solicitor that what he had in mind or was trying to do was illegal; he wanted a yes man….that man was Dohoney. Another theory says that Ruberto thought Degnan was not a good attorney. I would go along with the latter. Why doesn’t she have her own practice or work for a law firm? What kind of job was she doing for the City of Westfield?

    Ben

    • danvalenti
      January 25, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

      BEN
      I put the question to Jimmy Ruberto a few months after he was out of office: “Why did you get rid of Degnan.” He pulled no punches. “Because she was incompetent,” he replied.

    • dusty
      January 25, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

      Seemed to me that Ruberto wanted yes men in ALL positions of power around him. People who could and would bend rules and remain silent about it.

      • billy
        January 27, 2013 at 9:09 am #

        yes men?he wanted competent legal advice..The proof is in the pudding.,The mayors legal team spends more time writing checks

  7. tito
    January 25, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    One thing Ruberto knows, is lawyers.

  8. Jonathan Melle
    January 25, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

    Jimmy Ruberto is the one who is incompetent. He raised taxes every year. Instead of jobs, Pittsfield got job loss, teen pregnancies, and welfare caseloads. Ruberto is a Good Old Boy. He had Nuciforo swear him in. He appointed Carmen Massimiano as Chair of the Licensing Committee. He had Angelo Stracuzzi advise him. He had Smitty Pignatelli praise him.

    • billy
      January 27, 2013 at 9:25 am #

      What is a good old boy?The mayor has yes men around him.who show up when a issue is raised about such matters Filling the council chambers like a angry mob saying it was some sort of smear. instead answering questions and calming concerns. if nothing is wrong then what do they fear?The District Attorney even had concerns with Spectrum.Are you telling me he is a good ol boy for doing his job? Stop with the nonsense and the good ol boy garbage .what has the mayor accomplished? except division and deflection.I hope someday he will lead and accomplish something., How can the city move forward when his own appointee is going after one of their own.?

      • dusty
        January 27, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

        What makes you think he is “one of their own”? He was a Ruberto lap dog.

        • billy
          January 27, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

          lap dog what plant you smoking he is a attorney at a top notch law firm He is nobodys lap dog.

  9. Joe Blow
    January 25, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    I love watching liberal Democrats fight with each other..good stuff. As far as Degnan goes, if I was in need of a lawyer she would be at the bottom of the list.

    • danvalenti
      January 25, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

      In an area and a state where the politicians are so predominantly of one party (the Dems), the inevitable squabbles produced within and upon the Body Politic have to take the form of infighting. This produces an effect of insignificance and immaturity, a childishness to the fighting. The dangerous part of this is that it can come off as farce. The comic appearance hides the fact that these are serious issues, as anything that might be when we’re talking about democratic (lower “d”) processes.

    • Scott
      January 25, 2013 at 7:09 pm #

      Why isn’t the idea admitting your guilt and taking responsibility? If you ever find yourself in that position just do it yourself it’s cheaper.

      • Joe Blow
        January 25, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

        Not everyone needing a lawyer is guilty and going to court without one is foolhardy.

        • Scott
          January 27, 2013 at 7:31 am #

          I was being sarcastic. The point was Degnan is not a good lawyer.

  10. Scott
    January 25, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

    We should be suing Degnan too then.

  11. billy
    January 25, 2013 at 8:00 pm #

    Dan
    you work on this one has been stellar.I wouldn’t burn the midnight oil waiting for the mayor and and his legal team to do the common sense thing regarding this law suit unless you have a drum of oil handy.What city attorney spends the city’s money and resources attacking one of her one.The office of the mayor seems to have become bigger than the man who has come to occupy it.He spends his time submitting traffic petitions and appointing people to committees.The councilors are out of there before their dinners get cold. I pray to see him lead in some form or another on the school department who has thumbed their nose at the city council not once but twice and has not been willing to work with the city in any regard about fiscal issues as well as explaining their behavior over the 20 million dollar grant.He has not gone after grants with the ferocity that his predecessor did. He has said he is not good at asking for money. I guess he would rather see his legal office spend their time ” eating their own” than working on pressing legal matters that are a daily part of making the city run efficiently. Where has accountability and leadership gone?

    • Taylor
      January 26, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

      the question you ask here billy at the end is a great one. I have to say that under Mayor Ruberto at least we had some leadership. I didnt agree with all that Mayor Ruberto did but at least he did something. I respect hte man for that. Also agree that Dan’s work (Valenti not Bianchi) has been ‘stellar’.

      • billy
        January 26, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

        Taylor i meant Valenti s work on this story showing how The legal dept wont even answer questions.. This story was stellar., the mayor has not really done anything except cut ribbons on projects like the Rice Silk Mill development that he probably voted against when he was a councilor.

      • dusty
        January 26, 2013 at 7:51 pm #

        At least Ruberto raised the taxes every single year he was mayor and spent the money like water. Tough economic times for the taxpayers meant nothing to him. He turned a blind eye to them and took care of his friends first.

        • billy
          January 27, 2013 at 11:47 am #

          Dusty
          please sight some examples of his spending money like water? He was very involved making housing projects like New Amsterdam and the Rice Silk Mill a reality.He pushed for the Common and the redesign of Park Square..must i go on? He allowed countless speakers to come up during council meetings public comment period and spew what ever they blamed him for cause that was their right .I cannot say the same courtesy is afforded by our present mayor with out mobs forming..The mayor just raised our taxes this year instead of getting out of control spending by the schools department under control. and not bringing them to task for not going for the twenty million dollar grant as well as snubbing the council not once but twice.If he so involved in improving the city schools then why not want to get all parties on the same page on finances as well as the direction.He seems unwilling to take that challenge that would ultimately make our teachers and schools more competitive with the charter schools that keep poaching our students at an impressive clip.I think your going to have to take your sunglasses off to really see where the blame lies in the end.

          • dusty
            January 27, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

            You say Ruberto allowed countless speakers to exercise their right of free speech. Well wasn’t that nice of him. How lucky we were to have a mayor who allowed free speech.

  12. Dave
    January 25, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

    I have been impressed by Darren Lee every time I have seen him in action. I can’t say the same for Kathy Degnan. That doesn’t mean she isn’t a good lawyer-I am not qualified to make that judgement. I remember the quote from “A Few Good Men”- “That’s the difference between paper law and trial law” Ms. Degnan may be really good at paper law, but if trial law is needed then hands down Darren Lee is the better option in my opinion.On a weirder note- is the Culpo in the Melville St debacle related to the Miss Universe Culpo?

  13. billy
    January 25, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

    sorry i meant attacking one of her own Dan

  14. Giacometti
    January 25, 2013 at 10:35 pm #

    Remember this one important fact ..

    City employees cannot be sued by anyone for any action they perform in the capacity of their employment

    As Rich Dohoney was a contracted agent of the City and not a City employee he can be sued

    • FPR
      January 26, 2013 at 5:32 am #

      If that is true that a city employee cannot be sued. Then the lawsuit filed by the Bianchi administration and Dan Valenti’s article is moot.

      If the house was illegally demolished then the city of Pittsfield is on the hook for another $175,000.00 of taxpayer money.

      Just remember to smile and wave at the mayor in the 4th of July parade.

  15. Giacometti
    January 26, 2013 at 7:50 am #

    FDR….

    RICH DOHONEY WAS NOT A CITY EMPLOYEE…he was a

    private contractor of the city and therefore HE CAN BE SUED

    and that is why the City is suing Rich Dohoney …get it ?

    • FPR
      January 26, 2013 at 9:08 am #

      So you are saying that Rich Dohoney was not on the City payroll as city solicitor? That he was hired privately as a private contractor giving legal advise to the city of Pittsfield as a lawyer in private practice?

    • billy
      January 26, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

      Gia
      depends who tried the case. that will explain why were in this get out your check book mess again

  16. billy
    January 26, 2013 at 8:16 am #

    Dan
    what attorney lost the Culpo case?

    • danvalenti
      January 26, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

      billy
      I think I know but am not 100% certain. If I find out, I shall pass this along.

  17. FPR
    January 26, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    Dan, let me ask you directly.

    Is it true what Mr. Guacamole is shouting out on your website that Rich Dohoney was not the solicitor for the city of Pittsfield and not on the payroll for the city of Pittsfield as city solicitor?

    Is it true that he was giving paid legal advice to the city of Pittsfield as a private contractor?

    • Ed
      January 26, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

      Check out the BB’s story reprinted in http://www.municipalinsider.com/bianchi-pushes-for-city-solicitor/ .
      Rich Dohoney was considered the city attorney, not the city solicitor. The solicitor’s position was vacant since early 2005 when Christopher Speranzo left to pursue bigger fish. In July 2006 then mayor Ruberto retained the North Adams law firm of Freedman, DeRosa and Rondeau in lieu of filling the city solicitor’s position. Rich Dohoney was affliated with this firm and was to be a part time Pittsfield attorney. Ruberto’s retainer cost the city $90,000 per year, while the city solicitor’s job only paid $66,000.
      It seems Ruberto had an affinity for all things Barrett and North Adams.

      • FPR
        January 26, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

        Thank you for the clarification Ed.

        Indeed then, Mayor Bianchi is doing the right thing here.

        Paying Mr. Dahoney for incorrect legal advise leading to the lost of $175,000.00 to the city of Pittsfield should indeed make Mr. Dahoney liable in my opinion.

        I incorrectly believed Mr. Dahoney to be the city solicitor and on the payroll for the city of Pittsfield.

        Just one thing I’m wondering about. Who did the demolition and did they have a signed contract with the city? Should not the one who signed off on the demolition contract have made sure that the condemnation notice had been properly issued?

        • danvalenti
          January 26, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

          FPR: Ed is correct. Rich Dohoney wasn’t not the city solicitor but the city’s attorney handling legal needs on a contract 9for hire) basis out of the law firm of which he was a member.

      • danvalenti
        January 26, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

        ED
        Thank you for the information. Much appreciated.

      • billy
        January 26, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

        ed
        it was a bargain at 90 so far the city is working in 250000

  18. Bball8
    January 26, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

    Dohoney is very good attorney. Ms Degnan, not so much. You get what you pay for. And the 66k salary does not include health ins , workers comp and payroll taxes. As a comtractor, none of those apply.

  19. Joe Blow
    January 26, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

    In other news Tricia Farley-Bouvier-Kennedy-Onassis is backing a bill to give ILLEGAL immigrants drivers licenses. I feel like I’m living is some sort of bizarro alternate version of the U.S.A. The Obama admin just sent 16 f-16′s and 200 Abrams battle tanks to the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt as part of an aid package. The government from Obama all the way down to Farley-Bouvier-Kennedy-Onassis is out of control and systematically tearing down a once great nation.

    • danvalenti
      January 26, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

      JOE
      For the good ol’ USof A as we knew her, it’s OVAH.

    • joetaxpayer
      January 26, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

      JOE you hit it on the head. Our country well never be the same. God help us

  20. Tax Payer
    January 26, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

    If Dohoney gave bad legal advice then the city certainly has a basis to file a malpractice suit against him. Dohoney is covered by malpractice insurance and his insurance company, not him, will bear the loss. Should he contest the city’s claims, his insurer will also provide him with a defense. This is not the first time Dohoney has been sued and if he messed up, the city (i.e. the tax payers) should not have to pay for his mistake.

    Come to think of it, the city should also explore whether they have a claim against him for the Spectrum fiasco. If he advised the city to defend against a lawsuit that was ultimately unwinnable, it would have a basis for bringing a malpractice action against him.

    • billy
      January 27, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

      Tax he won Spectrum 3 times.Degnan gave the store away.,when all she had to do was tie the loose ends up.The District Attorney even had concerns about how spectrum was handled by our present legal department..It was only unwinnable cause she went in and told the court everything but her favorite color. The city attorney works for Pittsfield and its representatives. I think if you read the court documents you will know where the responsibility lies ..Tax im waiting to see who tried this case

      • Tax Payer
        January 27, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

        He “won” at preliminary hearings, much like Meredith Nilan did when she obtained a restraining order against Dan Valenti. The consensus in the legal community is that both cases were ultimately unwinnable.

  21. joetaxpayer
    January 26, 2013 at 6:23 pm #

    Sorry to mention GOD, don’t want any problems.

  22. Dave
    January 26, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

    I do love the way we are saving money now. If we keep the Christmas Tree in Park Square up all year, we don’t have to pay the city workers to put it up and string on the lights next year!

    • dusty
      January 27, 2013 at 3:33 am #

      Roger that. Think how much money we would save if we could only find a way to pay school committee members that other equally or more qualified people would be willing to do for free because they care about children.

      • Outfox
        January 27, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

        Guess the city has no place to store the Park Sq. Christmas decorations now, that’s why they’re still up!

    • Magic
      January 28, 2013 at 7:59 am #

      Dave, someone will remember this. At one time there was a beautiful tree in Park Square that was always decorated. Somewhere along the line someone decided that a fountain would be better than a tree. Anyone remember whos administration that was.

      • danvalenti
        January 28, 2013 at 8:37 am #

        MAGIC
        I think you’re talking about the grand old Elm. Didn’t it succumb to disease, years ago, in the 1950s? There are city historians out there who know the answer.

  23. tito
    January 26, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

    excellent Dave, funny stuff.

  24. Taylor
    January 27, 2013 at 9:17 am #

    Dusty, well put: “they care about The Children.” The city if it continues under the same of GOB faces (and Bianchi is one so was Ruberto Doyle etc.) is screwed.

  25. Edwardo
    January 27, 2013 at 10:48 am #

    Don’t always agree with DV but this coverage of the Attorney Wars has been prize winning.

  26. billy
    January 27, 2013 at 12:23 pm #

    dusty
    you want the small fish to show they care about the kids. The teachers are paid up to 70000 thousand a year.They have 14 weeks off as well as sick time and pension yet they bitch like we are making them work for nothing..The dropout rate is high and we are loosing students to leaner more adaptive schools.I hope that all parents wake up to the fact that the population has dropped by 20000 yet the school department is bigger than ever.We are living in a dreamworld in this city and need to take the rough steps to size the schools to the population and free up money to stay competitive and agile.

    • FPR
      January 27, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

      So teachers make more than the city solicitor?

      • billy
        January 27, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

        they dont start at 70000 they have 17 step increases till they get there,and thats with out the raises they say they need every year. lol

    • dusty
      January 27, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

      Yes Billy, I would like someone, anyone, in the administrative end of the school system to show they care about the kids. You can’t make school committee members care by paying them. And giving them money is not going to make them any smarter either. If it would i would consider tossing them a few bucks. I have never had children in the local system but if I did I would pull them out and go charter or St Joe. Remember, even Boviuer was not going to risk her kids education being lost forever in the Pittsfield system.

      • billy
        January 27, 2013 at 8:18 pm #

        What are we paying our teachers for it surely not performance.you go after the low hanging fruit,try going after the root of the problem which is a over sized bloated school system who spends more time going “work to rule” than spending time with the kids and trying to stay competitive with leaner more modern schools

        • danvalenti
          January 28, 2013 at 8:40 am #

          The essential facts are these: The city’s population is one-third less than years ago and dropping, student population is half of what it was, the number of teachers has DOUBLED and the number of administrators has QUINTUPLED. Someone put it aptly earlier: The city allows the school department to live in Fantasy Land. At everything else is shrinking, including the tax base, the city keeps giving more and more of your money to the schools. Why? Politics. The pols are afraid to stand up to the school unions.

        • dusty
          January 28, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

          That low hanging fruit as you call them are the ones who are giving away the money. That is why I am going after them. The buck stops with them. They control the purses.

          • billy
            January 28, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

            NO DUSTY WE DO