DISCUSSION OF ‘THE TRIO TRIAL’ ON PLANET GOOD FOR THE COMMUNITY … plus … WHAT’S THE BIG ‘TO-DO’ ABOUT MAZZEO’S COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS?
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, JAN. 24, 2014) — THE PLANET thanks everyone involved in the lively discussion of The Trio Trial on yesterday’s post. In it, we explained why we are not covering the trial, mainly because we cannot be in the courtroom, in person, every day. In our judgment and experience, without actual presence, coverage would be hearsay and second rate, at best, precisely because this is an important story.
It’s interesting to note how the discussion of our decision not to feature daily accounts of the case morphed into a hearing on the case itself. THE PLANET takes pride that our forum has served the public good in that way for such an occasion. We noticed that the remarks were done at a high level, the rejoinders pointed, and the tone generally respectful. The leader of the opposition in this case, a person who posts as Levitan (an acronym for “Valent,” and no, Lev is not DV) has made excellent points and has contributed mightily in moving the discussion forward.
It does not appear the Boring Broadsheet cares enough about its readers to send its reporter, the eminently capable Andrew Amelinckx, all the ways to the end of the earth known as Springfield, all of 56 miles from Pittsfield. That shame lies on the BB management and not one drop on the reporter.
A note from one of our newsroom plants: “When the managers had a meeting about coverage of the [Hall] trial, editorial was largely kept out of it.” The Stooley told us that the “business side” made the decisions. Apparently, that included not paying room-and-board for sending their guy to Hampden Superior Court. That’s how much the BB cares about its readership.
COUNCIL PREZ MAZZEO, THE VICTOR, TAKES THE SPOILS — AND THE CLUELESS BB IS ‘SHOCKED, SHOCKED’
Speaking of the ever-thinning Boring Broadsheet, the rag ran a non-plussed editorial last week about city council president Melissa Mazzeo‘s lopsided subcommittee assignments. The BB noted that Mazzeo did not choose either John Krol, Jonathan Lothrop, or Barry Clairmont to act as chair or vice chair of any of the council’s subcommittees (Ordinance and Rules, Community and Economic Development, Buildings and Maintenance, Finance, Public Health and Safety, and Public works), despite the fact that the three are veterans with J-Lo the most senior council member.
Mazzeo named herself and her vice president, Chris Connell, to chair three committees apiece. Mazzeo’s predecessor, Kevin Sherman, on the other hand, did not appoint himself to chair a single subcommittee. Rookie Kathy Amuso received a chairmanship, with Kevin Morandi and Tony Simonelli chairing two subunits. Moreover, all councilors serve on three commiittees except the Unholy Three, who were, are, and for the next two years shall be on the Bianchi-Mazzeo Enemies List.
As for the BB‘s coverage of this predictable situation, we bring out Peggy Lee to sing, “Is that all there is?” Or how about Rudy Vallee to croon, “You’re Kidding, Right?”
The BB acted as if it was shocked — shocked — that the victor would assign the spoils. Apparently, the poo-bahs at the newspaper did not take Western Civ in college and skipped history altogether. Even the most cursory knowledge of how power works suggest that when one side prevails over the other in politics and war, the winner dictates the terms.
When the Allies prevailed over Germany in WWI, they imposed draconian terms of peace. These included forcing Germany to pay for the costs of the war and disarming. The first caused horrendous economic problems, vast unemployment, and planted the seeds for the rise of Adolph Schiklegruber.
THE PLANET isn’t comparing the new council subcommittee assignments to this, except in one small respect: The predictable assignments will likely plant the seeds for robust contention over the next two years of Pittsfield politics. That can be a good thing … or not.
Mazzeo’s Choices: No Surprise at All
THE PLANET could have drawn up these committee assignments in advance and come close to nailing it. The BB acts surprised over Mazzeo’s actions, as if the paper is a waif in its understanding the doings of politics. Of course Mazzeo is going to reward her people and punish the opposition. That’s politics. Anyone who talked with Bianchi, Mazzeo, and the team knew going in there would be no quarter shown to the Unholy Trio of Krol, Clairmont, and Lothrop.
The three men “on the outs”get that, expected that, and, as Clairmont told THE PLANET, “respects it as well.” In reponse to our questions, Clairmont said, “While I was pleased to remain on Finance, I felt I was the most qualified to be the chair of that committee. I did ask President Mazzeo to be the chair, but she obviously declined my request. I also asked to remain on Ordinance and Rules, but was moved to Buildings and Maintenance. I’ll do my best to dive into any issues we have with buildings and will do my best for the citizens of Pittsfield.
“My biggest disappointment,” Clairmont added, “was the treatment of Councilor Lothrop. For the most senior member of the council not to be given either a chair or vice-chair, while giving a chair to a rookie councilor [Amuso] was a true slap in the face and a waste of talent. Whether one agrees with Councilor Lothrop’s political opinions or not, I think everyone would agree he runs fair and balanced meetings. The lack of using his talent is a true loss for the citizens of Pittsfield.
“President Mazzeo made a speech at the inauguration talking about how we all need to get along and move the city forward. Her actions speak louder than her words. I understand that to the victor goes the spoils, and have no problem with that. But, the real losers here are the citizens of Pittsfield; not the three councilors.”
That’s the “Big Boy” approach, and it all-but-assures that the punishments of petty politics will take generally precedence over cooperation and diplomacy in the present council session.
Krol told THE PLANET, “Naturally, I was disappointed, particularly with my removal from the ordinance and rules committee, where I had served since the beginning of my first term in 2010. Here, I believe I was not only a fair-minded contributor to several well-crafted ordinances, but I was also a member who worked respectfully and effectively with Chairwoman Mazzeo during the past two years. However, I respect the president’s power over committee assignments and respect her decision.”
Interestingly, Lothrop did not respond to our requests for comment.
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Mazzeo told THE PLANET she was “not sure about ‘The Big Story’ here. I do not recall President [Kevin] Sherman or President [Gerry] Lee having to explain their assignments.” She then shared with us her protest she sent to The Boring Broadsheet:
“When I began the first regular meeting of the 2014 City Council, I meant it when I said that it is important for the Council to work together. Council subcommittee assignments reflect changes that will allow councilors to be exposed to new assignments, therefore allowing them to share their strengths and experience in other areas, instead of continually remaining on the same committees throughout their tenure on the Council. Why is this not considered a positive thing? I also felt it was important to rotate chair/vice chair posts, again to allow some councilors to develop their skills leading a subcommittee. Councilor Amuso, as you know, has past experience chairing the School committee, and I am looking forward to seeing how she will transfer those skills to the Council. Unfortunately, reading the editorial insinuates that these councilors are not up to the task of chairing a committee, which could not be further from the truth.
“Again, it was very disappointing and surprising that the perception would be that these decisions were politically motivated, and it continues to label individuals as supporters or dissenters of one group or another instead of what we all are – City Councilors. Contrary to what The Berkshire Eagle may think, sometimes change is necessary to grow and move forward.”
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As for the BB, no wonder the writers don’t sign their editorials. Ask yourself: Would you want your name attached to that?