Article

FOLLOW-UP TO BIANCHI-PSD BUS BOND BLUNDER: LOTS OF TALK SWIRLING, INCLUDING TALK OF LEGAL ACTION

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, NOV. 26, 2013) — As school committee member Terry Kinnas shared with readers of this website yesterday, the Bianchi Administration‘s blunder — shared equally with the Pittsfield School Department over the now-doomed bonding deal on replacement of the city’s school buses — is a “developing story.” Not only is the city back to square one in terms of the buses, but it has been thrown back into the flack of the botched deal.

You remember Kinnas: He survived the Scopes Monkey Trial and did so with a flair, following up with a perfect five-for-five in whistle-blowing action attempting to teach the city, the mayor, and the PSD how to follow the law. Kinnas had the good sense not to re-up for a school committee term for more time living the life of a country gentleman. From that perch, he shall be equally as effective. He won’t be going away, the mayor and the school department shall be pleased to know.

Yesterday, THE PLANET got various indications that the embarrassing bonding goof may result in more than just an “uh-oh.” We hear that there is talk of legal proceedings, the details of which aren’t clear, such as, “Who might be suing whom.” Is the city going to go after First Southwest? Is the bonding company going after the city? Is the school department in anyone’s crosshairs? Officially, no one would speak for the record or for attribution. That’s how it is in a small town with so much that has gone rotten.

THE PLANET’s resident expert in municipal finance, bonding, and matters of the kind is Mr. Bond. That’s not his real name, of course, but the now-retired former NYC-based executive served as a high-ranking officer from one of the world’s top bond-rating firms. He told us based on the admittedly incomplete information that has been made public, including the dogged investigations of this web site, it would appear that the city has more exposure. Mr. Bond says a firm with the reputation of First Southwest would not take kindly to any legal action by the city and would likely be able to defend itself vigorously … and successfully.

Mr. Bond also pointed out the performance of the city’s legal department, mentioning Spectrumgate as one example. He said there doesn’t appear to be much justification for confidence in the city solicitor.

From city hall, we hear that the mayor blew his stack when he learned about the collapse of the bond deal. According to one of our spies there, Mayor Dan Bianchi was not so much upset over the mistake he made along with Sue Carmel, Kristen Behnke, and then-acting school supt. Gordon Noseworthy in their June meeting with the city’s bonding company, though he was that.

What made him madder, apparently, was  that THE PLANET found out about the goof and had the audacity to report it. Remember, this has happened on his watch. Bianchi can’t blame it on the phantom “mess he inherited from Jimmy Ruberto.” That’s been the one-size-fits-all excuse used by Bianchi and his loyalists whenever anything goes wrong. You may have your own tests for character, but one of the most important questions on that test as far as THE PLANET is concerned is how a person handles mistakes. When things go wrong, does he or she own it or does the person run away from it by blaming others?

If this is true about the mayor’s eruption, we must surmise that he prefers his media lame and toothless, the way he gets them from local radio and The Boring Broadsheet.

Well let us tell ya’ — THE PLANET doesn’t roll that way.

We would, of course, be more than happy to post the mayor’s reaction to Behnke’s bomb-drop at Wednesday’s school department meeting, which, we hear, he left early. We can’t imagine he was too happy to hear about the goof any more than he is to keep making headlines here, as THE PLANET continues out treatment of tough love for our Right Honorable Good Friend. If the mayor wishes to send us a statement, we will be more than happy to consider it for publication. We go all the way back to high school together, you see. In other words, he has our address.

—– 00 —–

First Southwest is has offices in 13 states and the District of Columbia. Its Massachusetts office is located in on Canal Street Boston. It describes itself as “an investment bank specializing in public finance, capital markets, correspondent clearing, and asset management. We set ourselves apart by putting our public first, offering them access to our vast resources and experience.”

The company seems to be well-positioned in the industry. All things being equal, which they rarely are when it involves city officials, THE PLANET would take First Southwest’s side in any dispute involving competence and incompetence. Should there be legal action, that question would become crucial: Who goofed? Was it the city, that had the responsibility to inform First Southwest what it intended to do with the money, or was it First Southwest, that had a fiduciary responsibility to solicit that information from the city? THE PLANET defers to the experts such as Mr. Bond, but we do point out that based on our experiences, as a default position, we would go with First Southwest.

 Here’s what First Southwest shares about itself on its website:

About Municipal Underwriting

Since 1946, FirstSouthwest has been a trusted leader in public finance and has provided underwriting expertise for municipal clients across the U.S.

During 2012, we underwrote more than $14.79 billion of bank qualified securities.

Unique Benefits
The diversity of our in-house resources translates into a number of unique benefits for our underwriting clients.

  • As of one the largest public financial advisory firms that is also a registered broker-dealer, FirstSouthwest is exposed to a wide variety of underwritings. This provides us a unique perspective and allows us to offer our clients the latest structuring ideas and marketing strategies being employed across all sectors of the market.
  • Our distribution network enhances our ability to pre-market and distribute municipal bonds and notes to a wide variety of investor categories, including large institutional investors, regional institutions and high net worth individuals.
  • FirstSouthwest is dedicated to the municipal bond market. We are known best for our long history as a leading underwriter or financial advisor to municipalities across the nation. Our capital and resources directly support our municipal trading and underwriting activities, and our management thoroughly understands municipal risk.

Distribution Network
Our position as a national leader in public finance enhances our ability to both maintain and expand our distribution network throughout the following investor groups:

  • Tier 1 Firms Large institutional investors, including mutual funds, trust departments, large corporations, money managers, and insurance companies. Our prominence in the financial advisory arena provides us with added credibility when selling bonds to these institutions.
  • Tier 2 Firms Regional institutions, such as trust departments, smaller corporations and regional banks. Major underwriting firms often overlook these markets, while we are continuing to expand our sales force within this segment.
  • Tier 3 Firms Retail, such as high net worth individuals, local money managers, and prime brokers. We continue to expand our sales force within this valuable segment.
—– 00 —–
Here’s what the City of Pittsfield shares about itself on its website [paraphrased]:
The mayor received 393 invitations in 2012; made 195 appointments to see people from the business community; had 237 appointments with city employees; accepted 259 invitations from scouts, dedications, etc.; attended 24 PEDA board meetings; presented 47 certificates; and, our personal favorite, attended a bunch of ribbon cuttings. His TV show dealt with such critical topics as “Kids 4 Harmony,” “The Pittsfield Promise,” and “Follow-Up: Pittsfield Babe Ruth All Stars.”
Based on this, which party would you put your money on in a court battle — First Southwest or The City of Pittsfield?
We thought so.
————————————————————————–
“MRS KANE: ‘But Charles, people will think —’ … MR. KANE: ‘—What I tell them to think.’“— Orson Welles as Charles Foster Kane in Citizen Kane, 1941.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.

 

 

23 Responses to “FOLLOW-UP TO BIANCHI-PSD BUS BOND BLUNDER: LOTS OF TALK SWIRLING, INCLUDING TALK OF LEGAL ACTION”

  1. Nota
    November 26, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    Gee Dan, didn’t see anything about the Mayor square dancing on at the Common a few months ago. Hizzhoner was doing the thing’ or actually a promenade, it was on PCTV also.

    • danvalenti
      November 26, 2013 at 8:24 pm #

      I leave big stories like this for the investigative team at the BB.

  2. AmandaWell
    November 26, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    I got a chance to see that Nota, the Mayor reminded me of Ray Bolger dancing in the
    Wizard of Oz.

    • danvalenti
      November 26, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

      When the mayor dances around me, he tells me, “Don’t look behind that curtain.”

  3. joetaxpayer
    November 26, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    Nota , Mr. Mayor was dancing at Pork Park formerly called the Common. The times they are a changing! Surprised he didn’t blame the bus debacle on Bush.

    • Dave
      November 26, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

      Pork Park.hahaha.. another tax hike tonight sort of takes all of the hilarity out of it unfortunately.

    • danvalenti
      November 26, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

      Pork Park: Joe, you have the honors!

  4. Gene
    November 26, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

    Good follow-up DV. Where was the eagle on this story?

    • danvalenti
      November 26, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

      Where they usually are on important stories the Status Quo won’t like: Hiding in the dirt, like Saddam.

  5. Rivetor
    November 26, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    Maybe the mayor can cut the ribbon for First SW when the company opens up its Pittsfield office

    • Shakes His Head
      December 3, 2013 at 7:59 am #

      Maybe the mayor will have a desk.

  6. Nota
    November 26, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

    Hizzhoner is giving out proclamations,shhhhh.

    • Dave
      November 26, 2013 at 6:03 pm #

      Proclamations have an abundance of “where as” -perfect for the tax rate meeting because the taxpayers are wondering where there ass is after bending over year after year.

      • danvalenti
        November 26, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

        It’s a stretch, DAVE, but a funny one in its attempt!

  7. Nota
    November 26, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

    Sensitive, better urgency, closing the gap, we understand, not in that bad of shape, we support education..blah blah blah. Try this, no increase without trying to cut some programs in the real business community, the public schools trout.

    • danvalenti
      November 26, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

      Bianchi and the rest of them (J-Lo, Krol etc.) have no recourse but the usual BS in trying to “spin” and “sell” this latest in the 1000 cuts. Not tax cuts, the cuts that are reaching a fatal accumulation for the body politick.

  8. Jonathan Melle
    November 26, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

    Re: Nuciforo invested +$400,000 in marijuana dispensary

    Excerpt from a news article:

    Nuciforo, also a western Massachusetts politico, is an investor in Kind Medical, which seeks to open a clinic in Easthampton. He served as the Democratic senator from Pittsfield through 2006, when he was elected to one term as register of deeds for Berkshire County’s middle division. He has committed more than $400,000 as financial backing, according to the group’s preliminary application.

    Source: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2013/11/26/former-politicos-get-medical-marijuana-competition/5O2YE7ANAKzOgSCKlVOuHO/story-1.html

    • scott
      November 27, 2013 at 5:27 am #

      If you read the eagle today they just threw a nice young man in the slammer for his own private marijuana venture and he was a vegetarian! Three years of jail food is going to ruin that!

    • Teecha teecha
      November 27, 2013 at 8:10 am #

      Wow, easthampton? Really? Hope its not on my street !

  9. Billy
    November 27, 2013 at 8:48 am #

    Dan
    A great point was brought up last night. At the council, why does it have to be all or nothing with development .? The. Mayor and his party of No drove away Watersone development at the Peda site,and this morning in the Eagle the Marriott development is packing up shop and going to Lenox with the Tax revenue so sorely needed.
    The Mayor has got a trifecta of failures going the bus debacle, the steady bleeding of hundreds of students going to where they are getting more bang for their buck.the parents see the towns are being fiscally responsible and see what’s coming in the future and are making those fundamental changes to be strong for future and allow infrastructure and other vital parts of the budget to stop being allow to go into grave disrepair. Like many have in Pittsfield. The third was from a senior who spoke saying. He wished the majority of the council would put as much effort as the do fighting the cable company putting up a pole into finding places to consolidate in the school department. The Mayor is spending time chasing people he doesn’t like politically instead of doing his job and it’s starting to show by everyone voting with their feet and going elsewhere for education and business .

  10. Billy
    November 27, 2013 at 8:53 am #

    A great point was brought up last night. At the council, why does it have to be all or nothing with development .? The. Mayor and his party of No drove away Watersone development at the Peda site,and this morning in the Eagle the Marriott development is packing up shop and going to Lenox with the Tax revenue so sorely needed.
    The Mayor has got a trifecta of failures going the bus debacle, the steady bleeding of hundreds of students going to where they are getting more bang for their buck.The parents see the towns are being fiscally responsible and see what’s coming in the future and are making those fundamental changes to be strong for future and allow infrastructure and other vital parts of the budget to stop being allowed to go into grave disrepair. Like many have in Pittsfield. The third was from a senior who spoke saying. He wished the majority of the council would put as much effort as they do fighting the cable company putting up a pole into finding places to consolidate in the school department. The Mayor is spending time chasing people he doesn’t like politically instead of doing his job and it’s starting to show by everyone voting with their feet and going elsewhere for education and business .

    • danvalenti
      November 27, 2013 at 9:31 am #

      Thanks, BILLY. The senior who spoke up speaks wisdom itself. It will fall on deaf ears, no doubt, but I congratulate this person for speaking up and out.

    • joetaxpayer
      November 27, 2013 at 10:38 am #

      Billy, You hit the nail on the head. So much money is wasted on hanging on to out dated and decript buildings. Mercer and Hibbard are a colossal waste of taxpayers dollars. There is no reason why the school department cannot consolidate there empire. There are some golden opportunities out there with the new high school being built. Also the garbage situation in Pittsfield should be revisited. The City of W.Springfield saved $140,000 it’s first year stream lining it’s recycling.Pittsfield a larger City could have even greater savings.