**PLANET EXCLUSIVE** STATE AG RULES IN FAVOR OF TERRY KINNAS NOT ONCE, NOT TWICE, BUT THREE TIMES … KINNAS’ COMPLAINTS AGAINST REID MIDDLE SCHOOL SUBCOMMITTEE UPHELD … EAT CROW, JULIA SABOURIN, DAN BIANCHI, ALF BARBALUNGA, and SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEMBERS
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, AUG. 29, 2013) — Congratulations again to Terry Kinnas,
Pittsfield’s most effective public servant. Once more (actually, thrice more), the office of state Attorney Gen. Martha Coakley has ruled in favor of Kinnas in three open meeting complaints related to the Reid Middle School Council Community Outreach Committee. The AG ruled that the Reid group, chaired by Julia Sabourin (aka Julia Berkowitz), violated the law three times in its deliberations, including two meetings illegally held to plan what became the most embarrassing evening for any city deliberative body in years.
THE PLANET speaks, of course, of the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial, in which Mayor Dan Bianchi and the rest of Kinnas’ school committee colleagues put Kinnas on trial for having the audacity to file the Reid complaints with the AG in the first place.
The AG’s ruling makes clear: Terry Kinnas was in the right. The Reid-ites, the Pittsfield School Committee, Dan Bianchi, and the PSD administration were in the wrong. Shame on them, and more glory to Kinnas. Do you wonder why, folks, the Pittsfield public schools have turned into a joke? You shouldn’t anymore.
“I feel vindicated,” Kinnas told THE PLANET. “I received unwarranted political and legal harassment via the Pittsfield School Committee [of which Kinnas is a member] and the mayor. That would be Bianchi, of course. Kinnas also pointed out the “arrogance” of the Reid subcommittee, which ignored the Kinnas’ complaints. As the AG ruled, “failing to respond to Mr. Kinnas’ two Dec. 11, 2012 complaints … also violated the Open Meeting Law.” Jonathan Sclarsic, assistant AG, sent letters to Sabourin informing her of the decisions.
Let’s take a look at the three rulings:
Violation #1: The AG found that the Reid subcommittee broke the Open Meeting law on Nov. 14, 2012, for conducting a meeting “that was inaccessible to the public.” The AG determined that in response to Kinnas’ complaint, the subcommittee took remedial action and that no further remedial action was necessary beyond a slap on the wrist. The Reid Critters didn’t get off as well on Violations 2 and 3.
Violations 2 and 3: The AG found that the Reid-ites violated the Open Meeting law twice for “failing to provide 48 hours notice for its November 21, 2012 and December 3, 2012 meetings.” Moreover, the AG also determined that the Reid-ites broke the law by failing to respond to Kinnas’ Feb. 7, 2013 allegations. The law requires that “a public body shall, within 14 business days of receipt of an Open Meeting Law complaint, review the complainant’s allegations; take remedial action, if appropriate; and send to the Attorney General a copy of the complaint and a description of any remedial action taken” [PLANET's underline]. The Reid-ites did none of this.
Kinnas, therefore, is more than justified in his criticism of the subcommittee’s “arrogance.” Public officials must sign an affidavit of compliance and file it with the city clerk’s office that they have read the state’s Open Meeting Law, that they understand it, and that they will obey it. This is not discretionary, except that many Pittsfield officials seem to think the laws do not apply in the city. Well, as everyone on Bear Creek can tell them, those laws DO apply. Think for a moment if it wasn’t for Kinnas, nothing would have happened. The Reid-ites would have continued to meet illegally, and no one on the PSC or in the administration — including all the troughers who lap up six-figure salaries out of taxpayers’ pockets — would have done a thing about it.
For these violations, the AG:
1.) Ordered the Reid-ites’ “immediate and future compliance” with the law.
2.) Put the subcommittee on notice “that similar future violations may be considered evidence of an intentional violation of the law.” This is AG-speak for saying, “The next time, it’s going to hit the members of the subcommittee in the pocketbook.”
3. Ordered “the subcommittee members to review and certify in writing to our office within thirty (30) days that the members have complied.” In other words, the AG gave the Reid-ites a homework assignment and a deadline. They have to eat crow, and rightly so. They must put it in writing, and we shall eagerly look forward to obtaining a copy of the letter, which we shall share. We hope Sabourin can avoid further embarrassment by at least spelling her mea culpa correctly. She is, after all, connected with the PSD.
It shall furthermore be the case, in light of the AG’s finding, that all personnel on all city boards, councils, and commissions had better start following the law. Simply put: They have to do the public’s business in public.
Also invited to the crow feast is Bianchi, Alf Barbalunga, Dan Elias, Jim Conant, Kathy Amuso, and Kathy Yon. These accomplices aided and abetted the unjust persecution of Kinnas in the now infamous “Scopes Monkey Trial.” This occurred in January of this year, as THE PLANET recalls, on a night in which Bianchi conveniently found it “necessary” to be out of town. The mayor has yet to explain his role in arranging the Trial or why he wasn’t in the room that night. Was it a miraculous coincidence or was it an example of Bianchi’s political cowardice? We’ll leave it to you to decide for yourself.
During the Trial, the school committee chastised Kinnas for pursuing these violations of the law. Now that Kinnas has basically stuck it to them, at minimum Barbalunga, Bianchi and the rest owe Kinnas a public apology at the next school committee meeting.
The violations send the message that Bianchi and the others, caught red-handed, think they are above the law. It also makes us wince to think about the message these yahoos send to Boston. No wonder the politicians think the state ends at Worcester, despite the neat little photo ops of Mayor Bianchi shining the shoes of newly minted U.S. Sen. Ed Markey.
We also throw school committee lawyer Mr. Dupere in with the hooligans. Dupere presided as legal counsel to the committee during the Monkey Trial. In essence, he gave a stamp of approval to nothing less than a violation of Terry Kinnas’ civil rights. We aren’t lawyers here at THE PLANET, but we know plenty of law, and it would seem to us to be an actionable situation.
Oh, by the way, for his stellar work on behalf of the school committee, that body gave Dupere, who’s a private lawyer serving the PSC as a hired gun, a $10,000 raise! When that came up early in this term, all but one member of the PSC voted to boost Dupere from $35,000 to $45,000 a year for his part-time gig.
Guess who was the only school committeeman who voted against this? If you guessed Terry Kinnas, you got it right!
Incidentally, THE PLANET shares this “veddy interesting” side note from the AG’s action. It has to do with the online postings.
As we said, the AG sent the complaints via post directly to Julia Sabourin c/o of Reid Middle School. Kinnas, as the complainant, received a copy by mail as well. If you want to see the actual letters online from the AG’s website, you follow these steps (there’s a reason we are sharing this information, so bear with us uno momento):
a.) Go to www.mass.gov/ago
b.) Click on “Government Resources” on the top menu bar.
c.) Click on the hot link for “Open Meeting Law.”
d.) Under the heading :Open Meeting Law Resources,” click on the first hot link, which reads, “Browse OML Determinations.” This lists the recent findings from the AG on the Open Meeting Law.
Do all this, and you will see a list of determinations that go back to Jan. 3, 2013. It is a ponderous list, some 127 items in all. Here’s the anomaly: Every one of the links on this long list is a hot one except two. Can you guess which two? If you guessed the two dated 8/26/13, OML 2013-125 and 126, “Reid Middle School Council Community Outreach Subcommittee,” you are correct once more.
What are the odds, ladies and gentlemen, that this should be a coincidence? Gosh, you think someone out there doesn’t want the good people of Pittsfield to know about the reckless attitude toward the law exhibited by the mayor and the school committee.
No problem, though: THE PLANET is here, once again, to break a story that the GOB-controlled local mainstream and alternate media wouldn’t find in a million years — not because the Boring Broadsheet, WBEC, WUHN, WBRK, and all the rest of them aren’t capable of finding.
It’s because they’re too friggin’ afraid to look.
“One can see what will trouble / This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is. / Were he not gone, / The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his / Long sleep, as I describe it coming on, / Or just some human sleep.” — Robert Frost, closing stanza, “After Apple-Picking.”
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.