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.
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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.
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