PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, FEB. 26, 2013) — The answer to yesterday’s quiz on whether councilor-at-large Melissa Mazzeo kept her 2011 campaign promise about pushing for a reopening of the GE Consent Agreement is:

( x ) All of the above.

To refresh your memory, on Feb. 17, THE PLANET sent Mazzeo this e-mail:

>> During the 2011 campaign, you promised that if re-elected you would push hard for a reopening of the GE consent decree.
>> Have you done anything to fulfill that promise? If so, what actions, and when, specifically? If not, do you intend action soon?
>> I recently wrote a PEDA column on THE PLANET and I included your promise. Judging from the response, there are a lot of people who want follow up on this.
>> Please send me a statement for the record.
>> Thanks,
>> DAN

On Feb. 22, Mazzeo sent this reply:


  Last year, February to be exact, I had a meeting with a gentlemen in the community with extensive knowledge of the PCB problems in Pittsfield. At the meeting we both agreed that taking on the Consent Decree was a Huge undertaking for anyone person or even a group of people with out some political clout or MONEY. We did however agree that if we could get someone with Clout to shine a light on our problem it may help us to start the process of cracking open the Decree. We wanted to focus on the PCB clean -up of Sliver Lake and thought of contacting the Harvard School of Public Health. We felt that if we could get them to come here and study our contamination of this lake that maybe this would give us the leverage we needed to re-adress the other concerns..Hill 78, etc.  I Sent an email to them:
 —–Original Message—–

From: []
Sent: Monday, February 27, 2012 12:21 PM
To: Barrett, Joanna J
Subject: ***The Harvard School of Public Health: Searching for Faculty Contact Information

        Message from The Harvard School of Public Health Website Contact Us Form

        Melissa Mazzeo

         I am a City Councilor in Pittsfield MA, a city of about 41,000. I would like to speak with someone from HSPH about the possiblity of doing a study on PCB’s in Pittsfield MA. GE has polluted our city and was made to clean-up “hot spots”..I and many in our city wonder what are, if any, potention problems we can have by PCB’s being left in the soil? I think this would be a great oppurtunity for research and study for your Dept. I can give more details if someone wants to contact me… my email is listed above or I can be reached by phone at 413-443-4079. I thank you for your consideration.
Melissa Mazzeo

—– 00 —–

Mazzeo then continues her response to THE PLANET:

I received an email response back giving me another link to send my request to. So I sent off another email to that address , twice , and never got a response. Having said all this… Alot of things were going on with the City that I needed to address as a Councilor and I did not follow up any further. I have spoken with a lot of people in the community who think Changing the Consent Decree will never happen, GE has too many lawyers and deep pockets. Would I like to try, absolutely. Can i do it by myself, No. I do think the way this person and I wanted to try to go about it was a start and when I have time to reach out to Harvard again and try to make a contact, I will. But I first have to do the work that is in front of me. 
Melissa Mazzeo
—– 00 —–

This is why we say that the correct answer, from among these choices — 1. Yes … 2. No … 3. Yes and No …  4. Kinda Sorta … 5. All of the above — is the final option.

1. Yes, she technically kept her promise, sending an e-mail and then attempting to follow up..

2. No, she did not keep her promise because of the way she failed to press with strong follow up. Also, just sending an e-mail, cold, out of the blue, to an institution like Harvard is all-but a guarantee you will be ignored. The way you make a contact like this is person-to-person.

3. Therefore, Yes and No.

4. Therefore Kinda Sorta.

5. Thus, “All of the above.”

Several points are worth making here:

* Mazzeo sent her request to Harvard as a cold call, rather than first established a contact there. This likely would have prevented to e-mail getting sent into the “dead letter file.”

* Nowhere does her request address the Consent Decree, much less the reopening of it. Perhaps a better first step might have been pushing for the transcripts.

* After a couple of times hitting the “send” button on her e-mail, Mazzeo in effect gave up: “I did not follow up any further.” That is not indicative of an official “on a mission.”


THE PLANET appreciates Mazzeo’s directness here. That manner of conduct has been one of her major political strengths. We appreciate her initial efforts. We also realize that if we had not on behalf of Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski made this request, THE PLANET, and by extension, We The People, would have never known about this modest effort. We issued a general challenge to all officials and candidates. Mazzeo was the only one to respond.

* She would “absolutely … love to try” to reopen the agreement. She admits she can’t do it by herself. This suggests a strategy that would have yielded better results for her: Don’t go it alone. Browbeat the Berkshire delegation. Try to forge consensus  from among her colleagues on the council and from citizens via a petition. Perhaps a question could be introduced to the ballot for citizens to cast their vote: “Do you favor the city of Pittsfield reopening the GE Consent Agreement so that the city can get a more comprehensible cleanup and/or reparation for industrial pollution from General Electric Co.?”

* Mazzeo implies that she will contact Harvard again, but only after she does “the work that is in front of me.” What work, specifically? As an at-large councilor, this type of broad initiative would be more in her court than in that of her ward colleagues. Why wouldn’t this be considered “work in front of” her?

* THE PLANET does award well-earned points to our Right Honorable Good Friend, the councilwoman, for taking up the matter in the first place. She stood alone in that effort, and while her actions could and likely should be explained by political expediency, at least she did something.

There it is, gang. Based on her actions, how would you rate Mazzeo’s performance with respect to the keeping of her campaign promise?



Speaking of the Mazzeo family, THE PLANET wants to thank Tony Mazzeo and his staff for the wonderful service Saturday night, as we made an evening of a great Happy Birthday bash for our brother, Mick, who took time out from recording and music to serve as Man of the Hour.

Our table of seven enjoyed the repast so much that we literally closed the place. The fete included an operatic version of “Happy Birthday” by one baritonal waiter and a bottle of bubbly, complements of the house.

A splendid time was had by all, and we thanks Mazzeo’s and staff for their graciousness.


“ring down the leaves / ring in the frost upon them / and the death of the flowers / ring out the grackle” — William Carlos Williams




  1. FPR
    February 26, 2013 at 8:00 am #

    Dan, you posted a picture of a warning sign on Silver Lake. Can’t read it on my computer. Can I trouble you to quote exactly what it says?

    Was it put there by the City or by GE?


    • Scott
      February 26, 2013 at 8:53 am #

      It just says that the water is contaminated by pcb’s a known carcinogen and to stay out they have been there for years. There are similar ones on moorwood lake warning you not to eat any fish from there. Canoe meadows also has warning signs.

      • Kevin
        February 27, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

        Our family has owned a house on Silver Lake since the 1940’s, it’s now the launching pad in our family for many 18+. My Wife and I lived on Silver Lake 2009-2010 before buying a home here. The birds on the lake are amazing and I pulled several large bass as well(yeah catch and release). A lot of potential in the area. Also so far no one has developed a single cancer since the 1940’s, all have passed of natural causes.

      • tim
        February 27, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

        Canoe meadows is ridiculous. On one of the deepest trails there is a toxic dump and its an animal sanctuary?! The water that pools there turns purple-ish. Theres all these old corroded fences. How that was allowed to happen or at least not get cleaned up is ridiculous. Makes you think that the epa or autbahn society etc really dont care about the environment

    • danvalenti
      February 26, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

      It’s a “No Trespassing” sign. It tells people of pollution and not to eat any fish caught there.

      • Scott
        February 26, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

        Seems like they almost have the liner installed you’ll see boats in there this summer maybe. Not mine…

  2. FPR
    February 26, 2013 at 8:43 am #

    Oh and on the impending economic collapse, I did send off two emails to President Obama, Timothy Geithner, and Ben Bernanke, I figured I needed to get a hold of someone with “Clout”. A total of six clicks of my mouse.

    I asked them to stop printing so much money and flooding the economy with worthless dollars as it won’t fix anything.

    I got no response. At least I “did something”. Hey I can’t go this alone.

    • rivetor
      February 26, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

      Yes. I also sent a e-mail to Pope Benedict asking him to forgive all of Pittsfield sins before he steps down. The pope didn’t answer me. But I “did something.”

  3. tito
    February 26, 2013 at 8:49 am #

    Harvard? You need someone like Nader..Brockovich…Harvard, ya think G E tentacles stretch to Harvard, or Yale or M I T or Stanford, or B C betch! Of course Harvard didn’t respond. Where are your promised sidewalks, Missy?

  4. tito
    February 26, 2013 at 8:54 am #

    Forget about Bianchi taking on G E. He’s busy with the Springside House and feeding the poor. The elderly are on your own.

  5. In the know
    February 26, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

    Free bottle of bubbly? Taking bribes now Dan?

    • Dawn
      February 26, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

      Some animals are more equal than others.

    • Scott
      February 26, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

      Most places do that when you have a large party and it’s a special occasion. I went to Trattoria so much over the last five years he always gives us free dessert and drinks. One time he gave me lentils. I doubt he’ll be using it against me to get something later.

    • danvalenti
      February 26, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

      For Mick, we’d do anything.

  6. tito
    February 26, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    You can get a good Mumm Cordon Rouge for under ten bucks, what’s the big deal?

  7. Randy Savage
    February 26, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    Your article is further proof that Mazzeo has no clue and will say and do anything to get votes. To make the statement, If I’m elected I will open the consent decree proves she shot first and aimed later, which is a dangerous way to do business. She stated in her response that she talked to someone who had knowledge (who?) and then sent an email to someone (who?). Really!!!!! This is keeping a campaign promise? Wouldn’t you think this kind of research should be done before you shoot your mouth off making promised to voters you can’t keep? Do you think this type of behavior would be acceptable in the private sector? I would check none of the above.

    • rivetor
      February 26, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

      well put, Randy. She made a big promise in the campaign and did little to keep it. Sent an e-mail. To Harvard. Wow. Good job on followup to this story DV.

      • Dawn
        February 26, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

        It was a good follow up, even though Dan was wearing Prosecco goggles just a bit.

      • danvalenti
        February 26, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

        Our readers asked, and THE PLANET responded. Novel, isn’t it … that a “public figure” actually cares enough to do that.

    • danvalenti
      February 26, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

      As we said, sending a “cold call” e-mail to Harvard technically means she did something, but she had to know there would be next-to-zero chances of success. We need more effort for an issue as large as this.

  8. Blind Justice
    February 26, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

    Maybe we could ask Drunken Gerry what went down in the clandestine meetings with GE and the EPA?

    How about Mr DeVillar of the EPA, who later took a job at Pollution Inc, a.k.a. General Electric (who brings new jobs , to China)?

    How about Mass DEP? They are paid with out tax dollars.

  9. Tony
    February 26, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

    Councilor Mazzeo’s weak attempt to contact Harvard had nothing to do with trying to reopen the consent decree. I can understand why Harvard did little to respond to her letter, it is full of typos and misspelled words. How can Harvard take this elected official serious? With spell check available on all computers, it takes “little” effort to proof read and click spell check before sending off a professional request representing the City of Pittsfield. Councilor Mazzeo’s letter is an embarrassment showing a lack of time and effort spent. My vote is NO; she did not keep her promise.

    • Kevin
      February 27, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

      Agreed Tony

  10. dusty
    February 26, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    On the other hand, Jimmjy Ruberto, who came all the way across the country to save Pittsfield from high taxes, had eight years to address the poisons left by GE. But then again, he never said he would help in the first place so he gets a pass on this one.

    • Jonathan Melle
      February 26, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

      Jimmy Ruberto spent millions of GE dollars on North Street.

  11. Jonathan Melle
    February 26, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

    Jack Welch made hundreds of millions of dollars for himself as CEO of GE. He also made a lot of wealthy people a lot of money. Pittsfield lost.

  12. luxor Rex
    February 26, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

    Councilor Mazzeo at least did something. She’s been one of the few to actually advocate for meaningful change. Who else? Krol? Give me a break. Krol is afraid to say peep to a canary. He’s GOB waterboy all the way.

  13. billy
    February 26, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

    I loved your follow up. I hope the day of the pseudo politician will end..Mazzeo has spent her years on the council complaining about everything but her camera angle during the council meeting.. i used to laugh watching her and Joe Nichols talk about giving the tax payers a break during the meetings setting the tax rate at the end of the budget process when if they actually meant what they said you do it at the beginning of the process ferreting out those savings for the Kapinskis they say they so dearly represent.I guess. its like trying to save the horses after the barn has burned down.I believe she believes if she shows up and votes that she believes that means she doing her job .If that was the ruler by how we judge effective public service we be carrying are elected officials around on our shoulders as hero’s instead as hypocrites.She only reenforces the latter perception.

  14. billy
    February 26, 2013 at 9:04 pm #

    Is one of those pretty ambulance chasers in politics. she spends her time criticizing work already done by previous councils or mayors instead of rolling up her sleeves and working.any person can send a email but very few spend the time to make there word count for more than a political sound bite. i guess we know what camp she set her tent up in

    • dusty
      February 27, 2013 at 2:39 am #

      So perhaps billy, you can tell us which other councilors have spent the time making their words count for more than a political sound bite. Which one of the other councilors is your favorite to deal with PCB issues in Pittsfield? Feel free to dig into the past if you have to. In fact, name me one who has even sent an email to anyone anywhere anytime to help this situation.

  15. rusty nail
    February 27, 2013 at 7:22 am #

    nice work Dan exposing flash not substance

  16. billy
    February 27, 2013 at 7:53 am #

    Ha you call that working? maybe she should make a phone call and take a nap. better yet maybe she should run for Congress to work on the budget deficit

  17. Randy Savage
    February 28, 2013 at 5:14 am #

    Dusty, seems you like to change the conversation away from the main subject. Please try to stay on the point, which is Mazzeo’s lack of effort with her campaign promise. I will agree with you on one point. No other person that I am aware of would send an unprofessional letter with poor grammar, and mis-spelled words to any government or professional agency; and then say that they kept there promise.