Article

$510,000 TAX BREAK TO NUCLEA BIOTECH RAISES QUESTIONS … DOES THE CITY HAVE A GRIP ON THE RIGHT ANSWERS?

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, FEB. 26, 2014) — Last week, The Boring Broadsheet ran a page one story notifying poor taxpaying citizens that $510,000 of their hard-earned dollars — “appropriated” from them by state revenuers — were being given to Nuclea Biotechnologies in the form of tax breaks. The company has offices at 46 Elm St., Pittsfield.

Tax breaks: Isn’t that a laugh? THE PLANET wonders how hard the Suits would jeer at Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski — you know, the proverbial underrepresented “Little Guys” in Pittsfield — if they were to ask for a nickel in tax breaks, let alone a half million. Tax breaks? Just wait until this year’s 2015 fiscal budget, when the mayor passes and council approves millions more for government at the expense of homeowners and businesses.

The state put in some token qualifiers for the Nuclea deal, for example, that the company had to create 17-20 jobs in Pittsfield to receive the dough. That’s all well and good, except that the history of these giveaways for private-public “partnerships” shows that too often the private part grabs after the public is forced to loosen its grip. What’s bad business for taxpayers, though, is good business for The Suits. Isn’t it all that matters in Pittsfield?

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“This was huge for our region, said Pat Muraca, Nuclea head honcho. “We’re very happy.”

THE PLANET doesn’t doubt that Muraca is “very happy.”

PAT MURACA: He’s not Michael Armitage, of course. (Photo bizjournals.com)

As we recall, Michael Armitage was happy, too, when he conned the Feds out of millions and the Pittsfield coffers out of $250,000 for EV Worldwide. Remember how The BB reported in “Second Coming” type the 1,000 jobs the initiative would create? The only jobs it created were a con job and a snow job. Armitage was sentenced to prison for fraud and tax evasion. He pleaded guilty to embezzling $4.2 million in federal grant money that he said would be used to develop a battery-powered bus.

THE PLANET points out the obvious, of course, which is that Muraca is not Armitage. Nonetheless, the EV Worldwide case should give federal, state, and city officials pause before they throw money around like Monopoly bucks. The other “of course,” of course, is that maybe — just maybe — the half-a-million+ tax break will payoff for Pittsfield. THE PLANET hopes the investment in Nuclea does wonders and spits cucumbers.

Until we see how it, though, we’re from Missouri. That’s the “Show me” state. They claim it’s great. Our response: “Yeah? Show me.” We gotta see, touch, and taste it. We can already smell it.

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A Feb. 20, 2013 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission lists Muraca as “Executive Officer” and “Director” of Nuclea. Other company executives on the filing include Robert Pierce, Paula Evans, William Harman, Richard Victor, and Charles Stetson. All list their address as “46 Elm St., Pittsfield.” Gee, do they all live together, kind of like “The Waltons”?

The SEC form asks Nuclea to list a “Revenue Range” or “Aggregate Net Asset Value Range.” They chose the former.

“Revenue Range” lists the following eight options:

(   ) No Revenues

(   ) $1—$1,000,000

(   ) $5,000,001—$25,000,000

(   ) $25,000,001—$100,000,000

(   ) Over $100,000,000

(   ) Decline to Disclose

(   ) Not Applicable.

Nuclea put an “X” in front of “Decline to Disclose.”

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THE PLANET also found a website called: “Nuclea Biotechnologies — A Tissue of Lies?” The site address is http://nucleabiomarkers.blogspot.com/. The site contains interesting reading, but THE PLANET cautions that we do not vouch for the veracity of the information. We let our readers judge for themselves. We include it simply to add another point of view in a case highly relevant to taxpayers.

BIANCHI, left. and MURACA: “Hurry, hurry, step right up, folks.” Giving away the store? (Photo Berkshire Eagle)

Here’s more information to feed into the Big Red Magic Pothole Machine, which, we’re told, has been transformed into the world’s smartest and fastest computer, one of such magnitude as to make IBM‘s Big Blue look like Gainsborough‘s “Little Boy Blue.” It’s sure not being used to fix potholes.

According to Secretary of State Bill Galvin‘s website, Pittsfield former state rep Peter Larkin represents Nuclea as one of Larkin’s “clients.” Larkin is a registered lobbyist. A lobbyist is often a former legislator who, after leaving office, sells his or her Rolodex to the highest bidder.

You might recall how Larkin resigned shortly after winning re-election as state rep, paving the way for Chris Speranzo to continue his meteoric, miraculous rise to the top. One hand washes the others, both hands dunk the taxpayer’s head in the apple-bobbing bucket — and hold it there. Here’s iBerkshires‘ story from Jan 11, 2005:

Larkin resigns to join lobbyist firm / iBerkshires.com – The Berkshires 

Reminds us of the joke: Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, and honest lobbyist, and an old drunk were walking along when they simultaneously spotted a hundred-dollar bill laying in the street. Who gets it? The old drunk, of course, the other three are mythological creatures. 

Galvin lists Larkin’s business name as Public Policy Advisers. PPA’s address is 496 Cross St., Boylston, Mass. 413-441-7575, with an e-mail address of  peter.larkin.@verizon.net.

On his disclosure form for the period  July 1, 2011 to Dec. 31, 2011, Larkin reported income of $116,000. That included $15,000 from Nuclea Technologies. He listed $60,000 from GE and $19,500 from Sabic Innovative Plastics (the former GE Plastics). The latest disclosure we could find covers Jan. 1, 2013 to June 30, 2013, during which Larkin took in $80,000 over the six months. This included  another $15,000 from Nuclea.

We wonder: What does a lobbyist do for all that money? For Nuclea in 2013, Larkin says he “Monitored MA Life Science Center.”

All of this is legal.

Remember that someone will have to make up the difference for the $510,000 in tax credits handed to Nuclea. Can you guess to whom that distinguished honor will be given?

Got a mirror?

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“It was the time of the preacher in the year of ’01. Now the preachin’ of over and the lesson’s begun.”Willie Nelson, “Time of the Preacher,” from the album “Red Headed Stranger,” (1975).

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

 

 

 

H

 

 

22 Responses to “$510,000 TAX BREAK TO NUCLEA BIOTECH RAISES QUESTIONS … DOES THE CITY HAVE A GRIP ON THE RIGHT ANSWERS?”

  1. Billy
    February 25, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

    What does Nuclea bring in for tax revenue? Waterstone and Marriott were going to be 800 Thousand. If they won’t disclose what their number is its a waste of money for something that drains cash. We only have 5 million left

  2. Billy
    February 25, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

    What does Nuclea bring in for tax revenue? Waterstone and Marriott were going to be 800 Thousand. If they won’t disclose what their number is its a waste of money for something that drains cash. We only have 5 million left

  3. Ron Kitterman
    February 26, 2014 at 5:24 am #

    I like how Amanda gives grades to the City Councilors after the meetings. I thought along the same path about checking some of the facts that they come up with during the process. The first one goes out to Councilor At Large Barry Clairmont a strong advocate of dishing out $10,000 to $14,000 to review all the ordinances for discrepancies or conflicts with the new charter or with Massachusetts General Law. Clairmont said the committee likely could review the ordinances, but checking the code for conflicts with state law ‘is a more daunting’ task. He termed the amount reasonable for the potential benefits gained from the firm’s experience. Ms. Degnan said she doesn’t believe a consultant is needed. “I’m pretty good with my workload right now,” she said at one point. “ I believe I can do this. She pointed out that Northampton, which also adopted a new charter recently that is very similar to the Pittsfield charter approved in the Nov. 5 election, did not use a consultant to review its ordinances for compliance. Clairmont, argued that ‘Northampton’s charter wasn’t 80 years old,’ adding that he believes the firm would likely have a computer model that could immediately highlight areas of conflict or other potential problems. As it turns out Councilor Clairmont is correct the Northampton Charter isn’t 80 years old it 129 years old. •Acts of 1883, Chapter 250, An Act to Establish the City of Northampton.
    1. The second fact goes out to President Mazzeo, seen holding her copy of Demeter’s Manual of Parliamentary Law and Procedure over her head saying “ This is a really old book you know “ as if it was a copy of the foundation of all our laws only to be equal to the parchment of the Constitution. President Mazzeo is correct that is an old book it was written by George Demeter in circa 1949 , back in the day when former President Gerry Lee was in entering kindergarden

  4. Ron Kitterman
    February 26, 2014 at 5:25 am #

    . Some communities use Robert’s Rules of Order , written by Brig. Gen. Henry Martyn Robert, containing rules of order intended to be adopted as a parliamentary authority for use by a deliberative assembly 1876 or oddly enough around the same time the city of Northampton wrote their charter.

    • Sparkie
      February 26, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

      Before we present our report card on the Pittsfield City Council’s most recent activities we have been advised by the many followers of the Sparkie Meister that we need to be more tolerate, less critical, and add some suggestive thought to our report card. So here it is, hope you enjoy it.
      Prez Mazz (F) We all know umm, you would never file a petition umm, that would, you know, help the Mayor line up votes to push his agenda, umm, you know, thru without proper vetting. You know it’s just to make things the smooth way. There are just sometimes and something’s that we should just not send over there. After all, we all know, and you know, umm, you told the Planet that you’re really not that close to Mayor Danny Do- Little. And we know that you know you are umm working very hard on opening the umm consent decree. We really appreciate that you have been looking at Demeter’s rules a little bit and it is nice to know you did not write them. But you know we would suggest you actually try reading the book. It may help you to avoid the continued procedural mistakes you constantly make. Your homework assignment is to go home and practice saying ‘’ A motion to table is not debatable, A motion to table is not debatable, a motion to table is not debatable’’ you get it a little bit right.

      VP Connell (F) Alright, you did not call upon the City Solicitor to speak on something that was not on the agenda right? O.K. You would never do that, like start back peddling when Lothrop called you on it alright. You have two homework assignments alright. 1) Read the Open Meeting Laws alright 2) Go home and repeat to yourself ten times every day until the next meeting. “A Whatnot is a piece of English furniture and is not to be used in the English language as a filler word” alright.
      Amuso (C) Fairly good job on a very simple agenda. Not much else of a contribution. Your assignment is to go home and repeat to yourself “I am not on the School Committee anymore; I am on the City Council and if I raise my hand I will be able to speak on the council agenda”
      Cotton (A) Good job last night; See it’s not that hard of a decision to make when it’s the right thing to do. Big swing vote Church way to go. No home work for you!
      Barry (A) Once again your speech on the Maz petition was fact filled and you did not need to repeat it over and over again. See you were not on the losing side. The charter objection actually worked. However your homework is to make sure that Crazy Cathy Degnan’s opinion on the charter objection is not skewed. Let’s not forget her last opinion on tabling motion.
      Tully (F) Lisa what in the world did you say and what has Sadler Ave parking signs have to do with the debate on rule changes. OMG you are so confused. Your homework is to go home take a life size picture of yourself, cut it out, make a backing and put it on the chair in the council chambers. Then just go back and stay in Florida. Trust us no one will notice you’re not there it will be just like the Community Development Meeting.
      Morandi (D) I was elected to represent the people of my ward and to talk on their behalf and I am willing to stay here as long as it takes to talk and make no sense at all. You want to know why I know I can do this, I asked the Mayyyyooor, and he told me there was an election, and I won, and if the Mayyyyoooor said I won, then it must be….. Because….. He’s the Mayyyyyoooor and he knows who won. Now that you are part of the clowncil your homework is to make an application to Clown College.
      Caccamo (A) There really was nothing more you could have said. No homework for you Good vote.
      Lothrop (A) Once again he showed leadership, experience, and gave a very detailed explanation of the circumstances around a very ridiculous petition. Also you again saved face for Maz & Connell. You would think the City Solicitor would know she was making an infraction of the open meeting laws by speaking at the council meeting on a non-agenda item. Your homework is to somehow give your knowledge of procedure and lend your experience to Maz & Connell. Good Luck with that!!!
      Krol (A) Steady, honest, articulate, factual debater. He always delivers his comments with conviction and confidence because they are based on common sense and truth. No Home work for you John… You’ve done enough.

      Simonelli (A+) Tony your back!!! Barry’s speech was good but your breakdown and reasoning for changing your vote was awesome. You thoroughly considered all points and articulated them very well. We were planning on sending you to the school adjustment councilor but after last night you are off the hook for now. Welcome back!!

      • GeoSims
        February 26, 2014 at 6:45 pm #

        Well done.

      • Spider
        February 26, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

        Great job, Sparkie! You nailed it!
        I agreed with your entire review.. Hope we can look forward to this after every meeting.

        • Jamie
          February 26, 2014 at 7:43 pm #

          Sparkie your spark ignited a flame..I agree with the grades but maybe Connell a D not F. Hes not the council president after all.

      • Billy
        February 26, 2014 at 9:04 pm #

        I tip my hat to a funny but insightful view of the clownsul

  5. Jonathan Melle
    February 26, 2014 at 7:34 am #

    Economics and finance is all about INCENTIVES. If you can efficiently make a profit, then you will provide a good or service to people. In Pittsfield politics, the state and local government gives out incentives to people and businesses who lose money. Not all businesses make money everyday. Their are peak times of the year when businesses makes enough profits to sustain their losses during down times of the year. Some years, profits are lower than other years. Most businesses go out of business because they go bankrupt.
    If I was the Mayor of Pittsfield, I would provide incentives to businesses with a solid infrastructure of low crime, high quality public schools, first class transporations, low taxes, and a fair and just political system. In other words, I would totally change the way Pittsfield poltiics operates!

  6. Dave
    February 26, 2014 at 7:44 am #

    Off topic, but I was so amazed I had to bring
    it up. A notice of a whittle ball league for kids
    in grades K-2. Sounds great right? $20 league fee plus $10 membership fee! So much for the
    Boys and Girls Club being a non-profit. Has the price of whiffle balls and bats gone up that much since I was a kid? I actually got a
    chuckle thinking what my father’s reaction
    would have been to my asking ” Dad can I have $30 , I want to go play whiffleball?”.

    • dusty
      February 26, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

      Those fees are probably for the grounds crew. Those wiffle balls and K2 kids can really tear a field up.

  7. Phil
    February 26, 2014 at 8:23 am #

    I for one am hoping that the Nuclea investment is a good one for the city. Pittsfield cold certainly use one of these tax-incentive driven giveaways to pay off.

  8. Phil
    February 26, 2014 at 8:23 am #

    Ooops meant “could” not “cold”

  9. Scott
    February 26, 2014 at 9:43 am #

    Nucleus is a joke. He has the entire whiskey city band on his payroll those guys are like mechanics and obviously musicians not scientist. It’s a cover to leech money what are they really doing over there. Since they are funded by grants are their company sheets available. You know like profits and salaries for employees? I know they were all at tangle wood for Steve miller. I bet that was a big write off. Now I’m kicking myself in the ass for not writing off my night out on my tax return!

    • DowagerHat
      February 26, 2014 at 10:01 am #

      Can you say Ponzi Scheme.

  10. joetaxpayer
    February 26, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    I believe also getting tax breaks in Worcester and Cambridge too.

  11. Mr. X
    February 27, 2014 at 4:09 am #

    Sparkie…how can you give Cac and Churh an A? Cac didn’t say a word and Church mumbled very few.

    • Sparkie
      February 27, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

      They stayed out of the Prez Maz madness and voted the correct way

  12. amandaWell
    February 27, 2014 at 5:18 am #

    I stand by My grade for Low. He has struggled and incrementally for years, has tried to be the Council class clown, without success, he just doesn’t have a Gerry Lee type personality, who was always quit witted and humorous without trying. Low for the last six years has complained about his agenda packet not arriving on time to review last minute agenda items. He is the only one to complain about it, and quite frankly, he is correct, but he needs to suck it up like all the other Councilors and do the best that he can and stop bitching about every little thing. Low, you’re not the President, so stop thinking you are, and start calling Melissa, the President, not the Chair, it’s disrespectful in my opinion.

    • Spider
      February 27, 2014 at 7:13 am #

      Why should Lothrop have to “suck it up” when the packets do not arrive in time? And why aren’t they delivered on time? I would like to think that all the councilors had time to review the packets before voting.

      This reminds me of Pelosi saying they must pass the bill so they can find out what’s in it.

  13. Billy
    February 27, 2014 at 7:37 am #

    Nuclea just don’t smell right,we turn away tax generators and give them half a million. Something stinks here