!UPDATE! MUIR ACQUITTED ON ALL COUNTS … QUICK HITZ AND HOT LIX: PHS GYM FLOOR COST WILL FLOOR YOU … ‘A STREETCAR NAMED ARMITAGE’ … AMBULANCE CHASING … WARD 3 FOLLIES TO HEAT UP? or A TALE OF CACCAMO … WILL PREZ MELMAZ KEEP HER WORD ON CONSENT DECREE? … 9,000 UNANSWERED (STOLEN) QUESTIONS … plus … WHAT’S UP WITH COACH BOBBY B?
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
ADD 1, TUESDAY, JAN. 28, 2014 — A jury found Scott Muir, a Stockbridge man accused of 19 counts of sexual assault, not guilty on all counts. The jury reached its verdict Tuesday after deliberating for 94 minutes.
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(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, JAN. 27, 2014) — If you are one of the shrinking few that read The Boring Broadsheet, you’d think the only thing happening in Pittsfield were “Going of of business” ads, obits, lifeless columns that no one reads (talking dogs, the Basses, and the like). Fortunately, you have THE PLANET.
Here are only a few of the stories that the BB is (a) afraid to cover, (b) too disinterested in the public it’s supposed to serve”, or (c) too inept to grasp.
Floor It, Jake — You remember the fiasco involving the PHS gym floor. Instead of costing the $175,000 promised by the school, it ended up hitting Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski for about $100,000 more than that. What’s a hundred grand among friends? You’ll be pleased to note that on Friday, Jan. 31, the new floor will be put into action with a JV-varsity quadruple header. Rumor has it that Frank Cote, assistant superintendent, will be on hand throw out the first free house.
He Never Returned, and His Fate is Still Unlearned — Mayor Dan Bianchi, a.k.a. Mayor Dudley Do Nothing, has finagled a commitment of another $1 million from PEDA‘s “remaining resources” to act as an incentive for winning a state contract worth $800 million to build new rail cars for the Boston MBTA. Bianchi, a member of the PEDA board, got his colleagues on that august board pumped. We know that because Corydon Thurston, PEDA executive director, said, “We’re pumped about this.” Unlike EV Worldwide, which promised 1,000 manufacturing jobs then took the millions and ran, PEDA promises a piddling 250 jobs. This is all smoke and mirrors, of course, to say nothing of pumps, since everyone east of Rt. 495 knows this contract will go to a company out Boston way. We’ll call this latest chapter, “A Streetcar Named Michael Armitage.” When the railcar deal doesn’t go through, the city might want to name a consultant to keep close eyes on where that $1 million ends up.
Emergency — In Pittsfield, as we all know, it’s not what you know but who you know. For example, the city has contracts with not one but two ambulance services (Action and County). What you might not know is that the Pittsfield Fire Department are first responders and attend every one of the approximately 500 ambulance calls each month. The PFD ranks first in training, response time, and just about every other metric for measuring emergency service. It also has none of the dispatch issues that plague the current system. In the real world, the PFD would be given sole responsibility for ambulance calls. In the Fairyland of Pittsfield, however, lucrative contracts were awarded elsewhere — and it looks like both deals will be renewed. The Ambulance Review Committee (ARC) got out the rubber stamp and sent along a request to Mayor Do Nothing to renew both contracts. The ARC includes the ubiquitous Melissa Mazzeo, Jeff Ferin, Chris Pederson, Lucy Britton, Michael Monti, Ron Hayden, and Colleen Hunter-Mullet. “The [current] system right now is working,” Mazzeo said. Yes, but for whom? On the question of who enforces the contractual obligations of the ambulance services, the ARC seemed baffled. Generally, that’s not good news for The Little Guy.
Ward 3 Follies to Heat Up? — As THE PLANET has explained in priot work, the new city charter makes clear that Ward 3 councilor Nick Caccamo has more questions on his jumpsuit than Frank Gorshin. Under terms of the old city charter, under which Caccamo was elected on Nov. 5 last year, he clearly had the right to serve on the council while keeping his full-time job with the Pittsfield School Department, as long as he dropped one of the salaries. Unfortunately for Caccamo, that charter expired on Nov. 18, the day city clerk Linda Tyer certified the election results. As of Nov. 18, the new charter went into effect. That bars a city councilor from holding two paid positions with the city. Caccamo must resign either his council seat or his school position. Beyond that question is the matter of his recusal on any matters related to the PSD. That includes any work on the council (the obvious) as well as any work on its subcommittees (the obscure). Council president Melissa Mazzeo has named Caccamo to the following subcommittees: Community and Economic Development, Public Health & Safety, and Public Works. The first two will definitely have business with the schools. Is the city going to endure the mess that may follow if Caccamo does not recuse himself properly each and every time a school matter crosses his proverbial desk? This recusal is not simply a matter of declaration. The state has a proscribed procedure for recusals to be lawful. Has Mazzeo or Caccamo researched that process? Don’t say THE PLANET didn’t want my Right Honorable Good Friends. Our resident prognosticator, Bombo The Great, sees a formal challenge on its way. Can you say, “Can ‘O Worms”?
Wither, the Consent Decree Reopener? — When reopening the GE Consent Decree got red hot for about 15 seconds in the 2011 municipal campaign, Melissa Mazzeo leapt to the Kapanskis defense, promising that if she was re-elected, she would push strongly for the reopener. Well, her election came and went, and outside of a couple tepid e-mails with no followup, MelMaz didn’t come through. Last November, she not only won another election, but she also won — as THE PLANET first predicted — the council presidency. In her new position, with the presidency’s “bullet pulpit,” we wonder if she is still gung ho about pushing for a repoener. THE PLANET put the question to MelMaz, and we shall share her response when we receive it.
10,000 Unanswered Questions — Remember when thieves stole $10,000 in prom money from a teachers locked desk drawer in early June 2011? Funny how that grand larceny magically disappeared, silently into the good night. No internal investigation, no police investigation of any import — like magic, it “just didn’t happen.” Well, THE PLANET says it did happen, and THE PLANET has done some digging. We are far from cracking the mystery, but, if our sources are correct, we’ve learned this much:
* A child of one of the PHS teachers had a master key to the drawer.
* Though the figure of $9,000 has consistently been reported as the amount stolen by other media, we now believe the number is closer to $10,000.
* A PHS teacher (and department head) is contemplating a lawsuit against the PSD in connection with the theft owing to actions taken at the time by then-principal Trevor Benson.
* A source tells us that the vice principal of PHS at the time, Frank “Free House” Cote, was given custody of the security tapes taken that chaotic night, which was also senior night, during which 200 people — not all of them students — rampaged through the PHS halls. During “Prank Night,” a cool $10Gs were lifted from the locked desk. Our source tells us the security tape shows that a child of a school committee member was among the merry panksters. Question: Where are those tapes? Why haven’t they been made public? THE PLANET has triangulated this with a comment made by former school committee chairman Alf Barbalunga. In a public session, Barbalunga cryptically referred to a secret document pertaining to the theft, an “eyes only” type report. Where is that document? What is in it? Does it picture a “smoking gun” or any sort? Will the current superintendent shed clarity on all this?
Coach Bobby B: Is He Being Railroaded Out? — THE PLANET has some pointed questions about the treatment of current PHS baseball coach (and local baseball legend) Bobby Moynihan. Something stinks in the infield, and we’re going to go snooping around. Anyone with information can contact THE PLANET in confidence.
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Each of these seven items has enough material for a full column, and we invite The Boring Broadsheet to use THE PLANET (once again!) as “assignment editor” and feel free to pick any one of these and go with it.
When it doesn’t appear in the paper, we’ll know it was the BB (once again!) not doing its job.
“Now I don’t want this should scare ya, but my bunkmate has malaria. You remember Jeffrey Hardy. They’re about to organize a searching party.” — Allan Sherman, “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah,” (1963).
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.