Article

TWO TICKING PACKAGES … FIRST STORY INVOLVING CHARGES OF RACISM COULD DOOM MAYOR’S CHANCES FOR RE-ELECTION … HIS ACCUSER SPEAKS; THE MAYOR, MEANWHILE, REMAINS MUM … PLANET AWAITS COMMENTS FROM THE MAYOR IN DEFENSE OF DEVASTATING CHARGES BY MEDFORD BUSINESSWOMAN … plus … EYESORE ART SET TO INVADE CITY or ANOTHER FINE USE OF TAXPAYER MONEY

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, MAY 29, 2013) — THE PLANET is tracking several important stories, one that could have major impact on Mayor Dan Bianchi‘s re-election bid and another that illustrates, once again, how the city of Pittsfield continues to sleep at the wheel when it comes to proper procedure.

COUNCIL VOTES TO DENY SPECIAL PERMIT FOR DD-DT

First, though, a quick update on last night’s action at the city council. Cutting to the quick, our Right Honorable Good Friends on the city council (a) concluded the public hearing on the Dunkin Donuts Drive Through (DD-DT) special permit. Prof. John Mullin of UMass, retained by the Office of Community Development and representing his firm Mullin Associates, gave his view that the DT was inappropriate for that location. (b) Attorney Mark Bobrowski, retained by the city, advised councilors to vote on an authorization to draft a legal document either denying Cafua‘s application for the DT or approving it with conditions. (c) The council voted, 10-0, to authorize a denial letter (you’ll recall how THE PLANET called this one; we predicted a 10-1 vote on denial, and we’re not even psychic). Councilor Barry Clairmont was out of the room when councilors voted. We do not know why. Clairmont had argued in favor of the DD-DT.  (d) Legal letter of denial will be drafted by Bobrowski. The letter is not expected to be complete prior to the council’s June 11 meeting. Cafua has threatened the city with legal action of the special permit for the DT was denied.

—– 00 —–

MEDFORD PUBLISHER ACCUSES BIANCHI OF RACISM

The Bianchi story gets ugly, with the mayor being accused of racism. As we continue to gather information on this developing story — one that has been inadequately covered in local media — we await, literally, the mayor’s word.

The story involves an incendiary accusation against the mayor by a black Medford businesswoman looking to relocate to the city. We have already had a lengthy interview with the woman, Doris Wade, who has leveled potentially devastating charges against the mayor — on the record.

Several days ago, at the same time we contacted Wade for comment, we requested to meet with the mayor. He has not responded, continuing a policy that has been in place since THE PLANET broke the story behind the methadone clinic. Yesterday, we sent a second request to Bianchi, telling him we would prefer to go with the story with rather than without his comments.

THE PLANET has known Dan Bianchi for more than 30 years, and we have never known him to show even the slightest signs of racism. Such a trait would seem completely out of character for the man we have known for more than a generation. That being said, however, Wade’s charges are serious and cannot be dismissed. It becomes harder. of course, if the mayor does not speak in his own defense.

Story Ill-Covered if Not Buried

The story has been inadequately reported if not ignored altogether by a couple of weekly newspapers (The Gazette and The Beacon). The Gazette buried the story in the middle of a recent issue. The Beacon had it on page one, but, according to information we received, had several key inaccuracies. The Berkshire Eagle has not touched it, nor has any of its affiliate publications. Local radio won’t go near it. Too hot to handle? Right up THE PLANET’s alley.

THE PLANET simply does what its rivals refuse to do, and that is dig underneath all the election-year rosiness coming out of the corner office on Allen Street to bring the truth of the comings and goings in the land of Benigno Numine.

Keep in mind that everything the mayor thinks, desires, speaks, does, and doesn’t do from now until at least mid-September will be calculated toward poll results this fall. In that respect, Bianchi is that most predictable of species: re-electus politicus anthropolis. Every two years, this typically harmless beast becomes ravenous in its appetite for power. It will devour man, woman, and child to feed its unquenchable hankerings — beware, especially, “The Children.”

DEFINITELY NOT SMOOTH SAILING AT PONTOOSUC 

The other story concerns a development project that has, curiously, has received little to no independent coverage and yet has raised a lot of questions about procedure and the administration of fair play from within and without official Pittsfield.

The story involves the harbormaster of the city of Pittsfield, the issuance of a special permit, and, despite the latter, the city’s apparent lack of knowledge of the details. It appears that the development has, despite promises otherwise, caused the demise of an existing facility/service that appeared after the YMCA closed its boathouse on Pontoosuc Lake.

THE PLANET continues to gather information on both these stories. Stay tuned.

———————————————————————

GIANT PENCILS? EMPTY PICTURE FRAMES? IT CAN ONLY BE THE EYESORES OF ARTSCAPE

Brace yourself, people of Pittsfield. No, not for the certain annual tax increases. You already know they are coming — government cannot curb its appetite for the little money left in your pockets after you’ve met your obligations, and this fat pig will scarf down as much of your dough as it can. Brace yourself, nonetheless.

Artscape has landed, once again. THE PLANET shall eschew the philosophical question of why contemporary art has become so ugly and void of creativity. Rather, we simply point out that these hazards shall once again soon be assaulting senses. That it’s all done in the name of “art” has us thinking in preference of other arts, such as Carney and Ditmar, Linkletter and Fowler.

Sigthts for Sore Eyes

Installation has begun on seven over-sized eyesores near city planters and median strips, at Park Square, and other locations. We won’t call it “art,” since our beholding eye has long since learned to loathe common denominators of this sort. If you have a thing for boring but large pencils, pituitary signage, empty picture frames (we kid you not; the city calls this “art”), you’ve come to the right place — Pittsfield, of course. Funny how when they issue the glowing press releases for this junk, they never tell us how much valuable public money goes into littering the street with these repellent distractions.

“The outdoor display of public art has always been a crowd-pleaser, and often a real head-turner,” says noted art expert Dan Bianchi. The art installation has nothing to do with the upcoming election, of course. The “Bianchi for Mayor” stickers required for each of the works are there simply as coincidence.

Bianchi says the exhibit, now in its 12th year, gives energy, whimsy, and beauty to the downtown area, and “gives people one more reason to visit and spend more time walking our vibrant City streets.”

Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of that typical visitor to the city. Let’s see it from their perspective.

The typical tourists, Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Schectner from Westchester County, New York, arrive downtown. After searching for parking, they land in the Columbus Avenue garage. They drop in at the visitor’s center in the bus station. There, Mrs. Schectner fights through peeping toms hiding out in the ladies room and then the couple tries to get the attention of someone, anyone. They best they can muster is an out-of-date BRTA bus schedule, colored a pretty pink.

Frustrated, they step outside to torn-up fake brick of Persip Park and enjoy the local color and ambience of the regular Denizens of that Deep, scary creatures who come from who knows where to smoke their cigarettes, utter their curses, kiss the sky, and give decent citizens every reason to flee. Across the street, Mr. and Mrs. Schectner gaze in wonder at our local youth as they pile onto North Street outside Juvenile Court, conferring with the lawyers from the advantage of backward baseball caps and baggy, baggy pants. They are The Children! They are the future!

Nothing Up but the Taxes

The Schectners then look at the $50K self-watering planters, drowning with all this year’s rain and being smothered from the garbage being thrown into the recessed pits. The scary denizens of that area have assumed the pits are trash barrels. This being Pittsfield, no one has bothered to maintain the planters.

Yes, the Schectners will get to enjoy all this — plus the “energy, whimsy, and beauty” of oversized pencils and empty picture frames. They will then escape and ameliorate the shock in the civilized lands of South County.

As for the “art,” no word, taxpayers, on how much bread this junk cost you.

No matter. You taxes are going up, up, UP!!!

——————————————————————–

“I could not dig: I dared not rob. / Therefore I lied to please the mob. / Now all my lies are proved untrue . And I must face the men I slew. / What tale shall serve me here among / Mine angry and defrauded young?”Rudyard Kipling, “A Dead Statesman,” from “Epitaphs of the War 1914-1918″

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

47 Responses to “TWO TICKING PACKAGES … FIRST STORY INVOLVING CHARGES OF RACISM COULD DOOM MAYOR’S CHANCES FOR RE-ELECTION … HIS ACCUSER SPEAKS; THE MAYOR, MEANWHILE, REMAINS MUM … PLANET AWAITS COMMENTS FROM THE MAYOR IN DEFENSE OF DEVASTATING CHARGES BY MEDFORD BUSINESSWOMAN … plus … EYESORE ART SET TO INVADE CITY or ANOTHER FINE USE OF TAXPAYER MONEY”

  1. In the know
    May 29, 2013 at 8:32 am #

    BREAKING NEWS. Teirney buys Spice building for high end hotel. Red Lion Inn is also involved In the Know breaks the story!

    • Joe Blow
      May 29, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

      BREAKING NEWS…..In addition to the water/sewer increases Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi has unveiled his proposed $137.7 million fiscal 2014 city budget proposal — a spending plan he claims is “fairly conservative” and would be $4.6 million more than Pittsfield’s current expenditures of $133.1 million.

      • danvalenti
        May 29, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

        “Fairly conservative” = “Taxpayers get screwed from behind, once again.”

        • Joe Blow
          May 29, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

          It’s not just local taxes, it’s everything going up and up. My dog has seizures and has been on medication for 5 years. At first his prescription was 13.99 and stayed that way for 3 years, then it went up to 38. and just recently more than doubled! My health insurance is going up and up,beef is at its highest price in history. Gas is near 4 bucks a gallon. I don’t have a job were I get automatic raises like in the public sector. The little guy is getting destroyed and I have a feeling it will get worse. I’m close to landing a job in the Austin Tx.area and can ‘t wait to move from here again. I’m sure it won’t be perfect but I’ll be keeping more of my money and be in the majority politically . There are a lot of people like me and when we leave the cockroaches for NYC or Holyoke will take our place. Good luck Pittsfield…..your gonna need it.

  2. joetaxpayer
    May 29, 2013 at 8:58 am #

    Hear that noise? It’s the sound of a 10 wheeler backing up at City Hall. Time to drop off the budget. It will only be a small increase to the average taxpayer. Water bill increase not included.

  3. GMHeller
    May 29, 2013 at 9:21 am #

    Mr.Valenti, We are waiting to hear the substance of the charges against Hizzoner.
    Please drop the other shoe.

    • levitan
      May 29, 2013 at 11:28 am #

      Read about it in the Berkbeacon – there is, as usual with charges of “racism!!’ – no substance.

      Ms Wade needs to recalibrate her Offense Meter. On the upside, we are overdue for a racial storm, and Black Mischief is good stuff to stir the pot.

      • danvalenti
        May 29, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

        LEVITAN
        Ms. Wade disputes much of THE BEACON’s coverage.

        • levitan
          May 30, 2013 at 5:12 am #

          Of course she disputes much of the Beacon’s coverage. She comes to town well prepared.

          Racism is the belief that one’s capacity or inherent quality is defined by race. Stating that your business will follow because there is no market may be unhelpful, discouraging, or even incendiary, but it is not racist.

          If I were to open a Judaica store in the Bible Belt region of Pennsylvania, I could be told by a mayor thereabouts that there is no market and no interest for my goods. No claim of anti-semitism would come from that.

          What is Wade’s agenda? She has an impressive background for gaining attention for herself back in Medford.

          • levitan
            May 30, 2013 at 5:15 am #

            * will follow should be ‘will fail’.

            If she wants a grant or money, she should go to the state or federal government. Cities do not give minority grants for businesses.

            I suggest a does of Evelyn Waugh to wash the story down.

  4. In the know
    May 29, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    Breaking News. Dollar General coming to West Housatonic St near old K B warehouse !

  5. FPR
    May 29, 2013 at 11:00 am #

    Dan,

    So Pittsfield came up with self-watering planters / combination trash receptacles? At only a cost of $50,000.00 to taxpayers? What a bargain.

    Good to know that when I visit, I may not be safe on north st. due to no police patrols but at least I will have a place to put my trash.

    These new ingenious devices must have a flaw though. Is it they use too much water? Is that why the mayor raised the water rates on everyone in the city? Doesn’t the trash get kind of soggy and breed mosquitoes and rats and disease?

    The wonders of modern technology.

    • danvalenti
      May 29, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

      Plus, FPR, wait until someone accidentally steps into one of the deep planters. They will fall a couple of feet, get smashed up, and hire a lawyer with sharp teeth.

      • FPR
        May 29, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

        That’s no problem Dan. With the great legal counsel they have in place they can probably settle out of court for a couple 100 thousand on each case. Then just raise taxes to cover it. The people of Pittsfield love it when you raise their taxes. Makes them feel like they are getting something for their money.

        Now they can hire some city workers to clean out the open sewer watering systems. You know 5 guys where 4 stand around talking and drinking Dunkin Donuts coffee while one climbs into the pits and does all the work.

        This all should only cost taxpayers about 10 times as much as it would have if they just sent one guy out to water the shrubbery once a week in the first place. For Pittsfield, it sounds about right.

        Another $50,000.00 — money well spent.
        What a bargain.

  6. Jonathan Melle
    May 29, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    At least Mayor Dan Bianchi is not a Good Old Boy Pittsfield politician like Jimmy Ruberto, Gerry Doyle, Angelo Stracuzzi, Carmen Massimiano, Andrea Nuciforo, Smitty PIGnatelli, et al. Dan Bianchi doesn’t owe anyone anything. He cares about Pittsfield. It seems like the Good Old Boys have been out to get him ever since he took the corner office. Mayor Dan Bianchi was handed “a shit sandwich” by 8 years of the Jimmy Ruberto administration. Just like President Barack Obama inherited “a shit sandwich” by 8 years of the George W. Bush administration. Mayor Dan Bianchi has been in office for less than 2 years and everyone is against him. It makes no sense to me. Isn’t this what the people wanted when they voted against the Good Old Boy network by voting for Dan Bianchi for Mayor of Pittsfield?

    • Joe Blow
      May 29, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

      When one get handed a shit sandwich there are supposed to make it better not worse.

    • Shakes His Head
      May 30, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

      Dan Bianchi is just as much a Good Old Boy as the rest of the political slime in this town.

  7. joetaxpayer
    May 29, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    Jonathan Barry Obama took that sandwich and turned it into a foot long. Jared would be proud. I voted for Bianchi hoping for cuts in the budget. I know it’s not easy, but it’s time to think outside the box.

    • Ed McClelland
      May 29, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

      Notwithstanding normal inflation, does Pittsfield’s GMP and economy grow at the same rate as the automatic yearly tax increases ? This year; 2.5 % on water and on sewer, and 2.7 % proposed on residential and commercial property, yet to mention personal property as well as unrealistic assessments, that surpass market value in many instances.
      What does this bring the commercial rate to, realizing that equipment and assets of businesses are also taxed ? Not sure about sales tax on commercial supplies; and is there an inventory tax ? Are there more ? How does all this help increase the tax base ?
      Out of the box thinking may be inorder.

      • danvalenti
        May 29, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

        ED
        Great question. The answer is “no.” When you factor all indicators of a local economy’s health, Pittsfield is paying one of the highest tax rates — if not the highest — in the Commonwealth.

      • Jonathan Melle
        May 29, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

        If I was the Mayor of Pittsfield, the first thing I would do is work for Social Justice in the community. Poverty in Pittsfield is a social problem. Teen pregnancies double the statewide average in Pittsfield. There is no excuse for that statistic. Pittsfield can’t induce a Fortune 500 corporation to move to the community. It will never happen. GE left town; KB Toys went bankrupt. The single largest employer in Pittsfield is the City of Pittsfield. The local economy is unsustainable. Despite these economic realities in Pittsfield, the community can affect social change. Pittsfield can lower its teen pregnancy rates by caring about its poor people. Pittsfield can empower its large working class population by investing in affordable housing, public education, social programs, and political participation. Pittsfield has little to no power over its economic realities, but the community can change is social realities.

        • Joe Blow
          May 29, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

          Who will pay for your social justice? Tax and spend tax and spend.

          • Jonathan Melle
            May 29, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

            Who pays for all of the teen pregnancies and welfare caseloads in Pittsfield?
            Who pays for all of the homeless and at-risk homeless people in Pittsfield?
            Who pays for all of the high school drop-outs in Pittsfield?
            Who pays for all of the poverty and working class social problems in Pittsfield?
            Who pays for all of the Pittsfield residents in jail?
            Don’t the Pittsfield politicians understand that they have no power over the unsustainable local economy where taxes and fees rise above the inflation rate every single year? Don’t they understand that there will never be another Fortune 500 corporation like GE that will move to PIttsfield? Where Pittsfield has political power is over its social issues. If Pittsfield cared about its poor and working class people, then the community would work to decrease its high per capita teen pregnancies and welfare caseloads rates. It would ensure that its youth stay in school and go to college. It would ensure that there was affordable housing. It would have effective social programs to educate and train its disadvantaged people how to have financially self-sufficient families. Pittsfield, like many post-industrial working class communities across the nation, needs to invest in its people.

    • danvalenti
      May 29, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

      JOE
      To think outside the box implies that the administration first knows there IS a box. No indication that such is the case.

      • Shakes His Head
        May 30, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

        don’t forget that he rate of teen pregnancy is high here, not the actual number, everyone keeps throwing that around, but its just the tale wagging the dog.

  8. Sean
    May 29, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

    “Doris Wade” notwithstanding, The Berkshire Eagle decides what will and what will not be written about the news happening in our area and any other area.

    There will be no compromise and/or no opposing view presented to the reader other than that of The Left.

    The Left Wing Liberal Democratic position of The Berkshire Eagle
    will stand firm.

    All opposing views are demeaned and ridiculed.

    But much worse……will not be printed.

  9. Ron Kitterman
    May 29, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    The Mayor did speak to his own defense in published article ” Mayor denies racial charge • Tue, May 14, 2013 Pittsfield Gazette -Mayor Dan Bianchi faces a racial allegation that he unequivocally denies.” – and the Beacon also covered the issue, am I missing something ? Or is innocent till proven innocent the new way of doing things.

    • danvalenti
      May 29, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

      RON
      Ms. Wade, in her interview with THE PLANET, disputes practically everything the mayor has said. This is information that hasn’t been covered in any media, to my knowledge. That makes it wise for the mayor to allow me to present him with Wade’s accusations.

  10. Outfox
    May 29, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

    BREAKING NEWS: Mass. pays welfare benefits to the dead.

    • Joe Blow
      May 29, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

      I read that today and I have to say I wasn’t surprised.

  11. dusty
    May 29, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

    I am super disappointed in Bianchi because I do not think he has the guts to find and cut waste in city government. For this I think less of him as a real man.

    But I do find it hard to believe he is racist. The bar seems set really low to cross this line. With all the violence and sick things going on in this world today you would think people could over look words. If words can hurt a person so much then I hope they never have a relative die a slow cancer death because you can’t point the finger of blame at anyone and make yourself feel better.

  12. Kevin
    May 29, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    I share the disappointment over Bianchi’s second budget. If for nothing else, he needs to be defeated. Eager to hear about the “racism” story.

  13. joetaxpayer
    May 29, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

    To sink 1.5 million into Hibbard School is fairly foolish. We should be getting out of that building. The 45 thousand for the crime analyst is almost comical.

  14. tito
    May 29, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

    ,,,,,,,,,How is a tax adjustment reduction deemed possible when a majority of the budget is spent on public education. After all, they are the biggest voting block the City has,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,follow the money and you shall be returned to office,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  15. Giacometti
    May 29, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

    Artscape does not cost the taxpayer any money…the artwork is on loan and any insurance to cover the artwork is privately funded

    It is a free program for citizens to enjoy. Most important It’s really about physical accessibility to the arts, available to view 24/7 365 days of the year…art is long. life is short…a God given right for all

    • Varsity mom
      May 29, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

      Recipients are granted financial support in the amount of $500. That money has to come from somewhere.

  16. tito
    May 29, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

    Seems the good old boy is on the way out and the new and improved who you know and what you can do for me has replaced it. Everyone has some kind of connection or interest needed in our daily lives, whether it be Bingo, Babe Ruth, Bowling, or your job, especially your job. The bottom line is you need to go along to get along, been that way for years. Disrupt the apple cart and you’ll find yourself looking in from the outside.

  17. tito
    May 29, 2013 at 7:44 pm #

    Personally doubt that Mr. Bianchi said anything racist. Got audio or witness to this, other than Ms. Wade?

  18. tito
    May 29, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

    ,,,,,the Planet delivers again as the boring broadsheet wallows in plain old same old,,,,,,,,

    • danvalenti
      May 30, 2013 at 8:02 am #

      Appreciate it, T.

  19. Chazz Storie
    May 29, 2013 at 10:48 pm #

    I wasn’t surprised that the City Council denied Cafua their special permit for the DT window as I’m pretty sure they were against the project’s drive thru from the very beginning. As for using the city’s Master Plan as the main reason – give me a break! If the Master Plan was such an issue, why wasn’t John Mullin brought to the first meeting? Why have him come on board when the hearing was already underway? It seems to me that since all the bickering with traffic got the councilors nowhere, they had to come up with another reason.

    I found Krol’s comments on how “Pittsfield has aspired to be something better, and to do something better with its downtown” as comical. I don’t see any business attempting to build on that location other than Kafua – and how many years has that building sat empty? Again, excuses.

    They could have also chosen to draft a letter of approval with conditions. Nope. They didn’t even entertain that idea – which, again, makes me believe they were set against it from the beginning.

    Finally, that beauty Yon – she took the cake when she made the ridiculous comments about public safety. When in doubt, always use the “public safety” card. She said that it was a safety issue to have people cross in front of the drive thru as cars were exiting. Really? Then I guess that every business in the city with a vehicle entrance and a vehicle exit is a public safety concern.

    • joetaxpayer
      May 30, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

      Chazz agree, lots of talk about thing’s that were not relevant to the issue. Do you favor a drive-up window yes or no. I think they yshould build there project anyway and stick it to them. They could come back later for the drive-up.

      • Chazz Storie
        May 30, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

        The DT doesn’t concern me either way. I see it as a business willing to build, willing to put money into a project and ultimately, to give the city some tax money. I’m not sure they would build it without the DT, since apparently, it’s the majority of their business.

  20. Giacometti
    May 29, 2013 at 10:50 pm #

    Any support for Artscape comes from private money Not public money. The artists are past exhibitors of the annual Chesterwood
    Landscape Sculpture Exhibition who show here as an alternative to moving their work to their studios after showing at Chesterwood

  21. Giacometti
    May 30, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    Thank you VM for your update…I was relying on information from years past where Chesterwood did the jury of the work…I wonder who now does the jury now…as it must be a jury that is impartial, accessible and professional…that leaves out most City officials.