‘ATTORNEY WARS’ ENDS AS THE PLANET PREDICTED IN JANUARY: CITY DROPS LAWSUIT AGAINST DOHONEY … DEGNAN’S OFFICE ADMITS IT COULDN’T WIN … ACTION SHOWS THE TRUE PURPOSE OF FAUX LITIGATION — REVENGE FOR ‘NO-CONFIDENCEGATE’ … MOVE COMES AS ANOTHER EMBARRASSMENT FOR CITY SOLICITOR … YET AGAIN, A ‘FOUL BALL’ for BOSSIDY BUCKS … plus … SPRINGSIDE CLEANUP SET FOR APRIL 20
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27, 2013) — ”Attorney Wars,” which THE PLANET exposed in all the glory of its initial pettiness more than two months ago, came to the predicted conclusion. As we prognosticated, accurately as it turns out, the city of Pittsfield has dropped its lawsuit against barrister Rich Dohoney. You might say we broke this story two months before it happened. We are that good.
For a full discussion, see THE PLANET columns from Jan. 22, 25, 28, and 29, 2013. We weren’t fooled one bit.
‘Because I thought she was incompetent’
The office of city solicitor Kathy Degnan, via her assistant Darren Lee, concluded there was no “there” there when it came to winning in court against Dohoney, who served as city attorney under Mayor Jimmy Ruberto. Ruberto had dismissed Degnan as in-house city solicitor. When we asked Ruberto why he did that, he told it straight: “Because I thought she was incompetent.” He brought in Dohoney to serve on a contract basis.
Dohoney handled the initial litigation on Spectrumgate, and, as you will recall, the city of Pittsfield prevailed three times in court against Spectrum Health Systems. Three out of three: That’s almost hitting 1.000. It’s no guarantee that the city would have ultimately prevailed (although that is a possibility), but minimally it demonstrates a deftness that would come to be missed when Degnan took over the case a year ago. That led to a costly capitulation and some say unnecessary to Spectrum.
Members of the Pittsfield city council, led by Christine Yon and Kevin Sherman, filed a no-confidence petition against Degnan. At the last second, Yon withdrew the petition. No-Confidencegate, as we dubbed it, angered the Bianchi team and rightly so. They talked of payback, not rightly so, with Donna Mattoon leading the charge, according to a City Hall source.
Payback came in the form of a lawsuit filed by Degnan’s office against Dohoney pertaining to the demolition of an apartment building on Melville Street. Again, for the details, review our columns of Jan.22, 25, 28, and 29 of this year. THE PLANET archives can be located on our home page, on the yellow toolbar. Place your mouse over “BLOG” and you will see the sub-window called “Archive.” Click on that for all of our previous columns.
The Lawsuit Had One Purpose: Payback
Observers, including every attorney with whom THE PLANET talked, agreed that the city’s case had no merit on the facts. It led to the reasonable conclusion that the lawsuit was meant to achieve only one thing: generate unfavorable headlines for Dohoney for the unspeakable crime of providing legal help to Jim Ruberto.
THE PLANET wrote on Jan. 25 that the city’s best option would be to “Drop the lawsuit against Dohoney. It’s a waste of time, talent, and treasure.”
We are pleased to say that the city followed our advice. We won’t even send them a bill for our expert legal opinion. Any dime-store lawyer could have told you the city had no chance. After having eliminated success as a reason to go after Dohoney, it is only reasonable to conclude that the sole purpose in the lawsuit in “Attorney Wars” was to generate some headlines against Dohoney in a revenge move for No-Confidencegatge. The Boring Broadsheet played along, giving the city what it wanted. To that end, we share this letter to the editor:
—– 00 —–
TO THE PLANET
Today’s Eagle shows how much PR B.S. that original article was to begin with.
I have to give Donna Matton all the credit in the world. Instead of the
Eagle headline reading “Degnan loses another winnable case for the City”
they were able to manipulate the Eagle into “City Sues Dahoney.” Brilliant
move, at least in the short term. These type of short-term tactics tend to
fall apart over time. — Interested Observer
—– 00 —–
This letter sums up the dispassionate read of the odd case of “Attorney Wars.” THE PLANET has good reason to believe that attorney Lee — a solid legal talent — knew this was a waste of time, that he didn’t want to file the suit, but that he was following the orders of his boss, Degnan, who was following the orders of her boss, Bianchi, who was following the orders of his boss, Mattoon.
ANOTHER FOUL BALL OFF THE BAT OF THE ‘BOSSIDY BUCKS’
Out of the original $1 million gift outright given by Larry Bossidy to the city of Pittsfield to refurbish city parks, only $65,000 remains. THE PLANET won’t bother with an accounting of how much of this money was wasted by previous administrations, who ignored Bossidy’s wishes and frittered the money on capital expenses (trucks, for example) or ill-conceived “improvements” (the alleged “upgrade” of The Common, including the installation of a costly and little-used Grade A sprinkler system).
Get Out the Nets
It appears that anywhere between $10,000 and $20,000 will go toward a netting system for the batting box area of the Babe Ruth diamond at Deming Park. At least one neighbor has been complaining about foul balls landing in her yard, and the city lost its breath. The final configuration on a ball-capturing system has yet to be delivered, but it appears to involve a nylon net that will stop most foul balls that come off the bat.
The new system, unfortunately, will change the nature of the game, since it will prevent most pop ups that go straight up around the plate area. THE PLANET still recalls batting lead-off for Union Federal Savings (green uniforms) and popping up a ball behind the plate on the old Babe Ruth diamond at Deming. Jimmy Bagdonis, catching that day for (we think) National Guard (maroon uniforms), threw off his mask, heading behind the plate, and made a great catch. He robbed us on the AB, we thought grudgingly, but we secretly admired Bags’ hustle. There no way that play will be made under the new system.
Of course, the foul ball problem is one the city created when it decided to move the Babe Ruth diamond from its old location next to Palmer’s on the Elm Street side of the park to where it currently sits.
Can the netting be considered a park “improvement?” Does it matter, given how Larry Bossidy’s intentions have been so callously ignored. The Bossidy Bucks and the $10 million GE Consent Agreement Fund prove that it’s not wise to give money to the city, even if you specify the use. It will just ignore your wishes once politics gets involved.
Friends of Springside Park Announces 24th Annual Park Cleanup
Over four decades of formal and informal activities, The Friends, a grass roots group, has worked at seasonal cleanups and beautification, assisting with park maintainence in times of city fiscal crisis – including lawn mowing, debris removal, barrier reconstruction, hole filling, and extinguishing grass fires. They have also constructed nature trails, bird houses, bridges, and walking paths, sponsored nature walks and talks, slide shows, and other educational programs. Other activities include cultural and recreational events, such as band, chamber music, and jazz concerts at the Springside House, the Berkshire Museum, or on the park grounds.
“Often I am permitted to return to a meadow / as if it were a given property of the mind / that certain bounds hold against chaos, // that is a place of first permission, everlasting omen of what is.” — Robert Duncan.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.