RAILCARS FOR ‘THE T’: HARD TO DO ANY WORSE THAN THE LATEST BATCH OF NEW CARS THAT COST TAXPAYERS $175 MILLION … REALLY, THOUGH, DOES THE PEDA ‘A TEAM’ INSPIRE CONFIDENCE? … plus … WILL THERE BE MOVEMENT ON ACTING TO RE-OPEN THE CONSENT AGREEMENT? MAZZEO STATEMENT OFFERS SHARD OF HOPE
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, FEB. 3, 2014) — Whether it’s Framingham, Newton, or Dalton, whichever company on whatever city that lands the $850 million contract to build rails cars for the MBTA, it’s likely they won’t do any worse than 75 commuter rail cars delivered to The T by Hyundai Rotem, a South Korean manufacturer. As reported in the Boston Globe, the new fleet, which cost taxpayers $190 million, was delivered two and a half years late in unusable condition. The cars were so affected by mechanical, engineering, and computer problems that The T had to send the fleet to a company in Rhode Island for fixing.
You can read the Globe story here: MBTA’s new rail cars heading for a retooling
We mention this to suggest that doing business with The T isn’t always the straightforward proposition that it should be. The state agency, long reputed to be plagued by waste, corruption, and a distended bureaucracy, seems to make its decisions in a most serpentine way. With an $850 million contract to dangle in front of cities and towns looking to finally land a “Big One,” what are the odds that The T will make a decision to award to manufacturing of cars to the region that will buy it the most political cred? If that is the case, what are the odds of Pittsfield being in the mix?
Does anyone on the current PEDA board want to bet on the city in this contest? We thought not. Board members, by the way, include Mick Callahan, acting chairman and president; Christina Barrett; Mayor Danny Do Nothing; Doug Crane; Paul Dalton; Mike Filpi; Pam Green; Mike Matthews; Patrick Reuss; Larry Tallman; and George Whaling. All are mayoral appointees. No politics there, surely.
They are led by executive director Corydon Thurston, a man chosen for his vast experience in economic development. The key is choosing a wealthy and connected sire in a field (broadcasting) that has as much to do with economic development as chestnuts do to Chesterfields. He is assisted by his secretary, the able Donna Cowan (the one who does the actual work at PEDA) and Colleen Hunter-Mullett, assistant treasurer. Where have we heard that name before?
That is your A Team, ladies and gentlemen, such as it is, trying to land one from The T. If Team Cory Don inspires oodles and boodles of confidence in you, then God bless you. The only problem is, this team, which acts as if it can land one from The T, does not have a Mr. T.
On a related note, when the GOB went to work caving in to GE in a swindle known as the Consent Decree, the crack representatives negotiating on behalf of Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski as well as every citizen of the city of Pittsfield and Berkshire County to the south, it made sure to put in the following language:
PEDA will indemnify GE against claims related to environmental liabilities not retained by GE, including remedial requirements on the transferred property beyond those that GE will have performed under the Consent Decree.
PEDA will also indemnify GE against claims related to tort liability associated with PEDA’s ownership, use, or occupancy of the property; off-site migration of contamination caused by PEDA or a user for which GE is not responsible; damage with a remedy caused by PEDA or a user for which GE is not responsible; maintenance and operation of the transferred property; and unknown issues, except those that GE had a responsibility to disclose.
The City has agreed not to sue GE regarding contamination at the property to be transferred to PEDA, contamination migrating from the transferred property onto property owned by someone other than the City, and contamination at City-owned property that is being remediated by GE under the Consent De- cree. Regarding contamination at City-owned property that is not being remediated under the Consent Decree, the City and GE have agreed upon an expedited arbitration procedure to resolve any claims the City may have against GE.
Talk about giving away the store.
THE PLANET asked both Mr. T and our in-house prognosticator, Bombo The Great, what they thought of such inclusive language and the poor people of Pittsfield, who were literally sold down the river — the Housatonic River.
Mr. T: “I pity da fools.”
Bombo: “I’m looking to start a company that will produce electric cars that teach music online. Do you know where I can get $1 million and a huge tax break?
MAZZEO AND THE REOPENING OF THE CONSET DECREE
These remarks can act as a preamble, of sorts, to the question we posed of our Right Honorable Good Friend Madame President, otherwise known as Melissa Mazzeo. During Campaign 2011, Mazzeo promised to use every effort in an attempt to get the GE Consent Decree reopened. Aside from a couple of e-mails with little to no follow-up, the matter died an unmourned death after Mazzeo won re-election that year.
Now it’s a new term and time to take a new turn, long overdue. Mazzeo not only retained her citywide position as a councilor at large, but she also holds additional clout as president of the city council. It’s not the most powerful position on the planet, granted, but it’s more than “dental hygienist.” THE PLANET asked her if she would now follow through with her promise from 2011.
She responded this way: “I think we can all agree that Pittsfield didn’t get the best deal from the Consent Decree. When I spoke about this a few years ago, I said the biggest obstacle was not having enough clout to get anyone to listen to you. In my opinion you need someone to go to bat for you that can get their foot in the door.
“I think we may have that opportunity now that the City of Pittsfield has joined up with some surrounding communities to hire a law firm to work on their behalf with the clean up remediation for the rest of the river,” Mazzeo said. “Once we start engaging this firm, I think that there may be an opportunity to start talking with them about the issues that still plague Pittsfield, since I think some of those will continue to effect the future cleanup. So I am waiting to hear from this law firm ,and the first chance I get I am going to start asking my questions.”
As one who has made a living asking questions, THE PLANET thinks that’s a step in the right directions. The questions, however, have to be pointed and the questioning has to be relentless if it is to have any chance to succeed.
The Consent Decree has been reopened at least 10 times, most or all dealing with routine, procedural matters. Routine or not, though, it does prove there is a mechanism for reopening, an act that potentially could put many long-festering matters back on the table.
“You tell me I’m wrong. / Who are you, who is anybody to tell me I’m wrong? / I am not wrong.” — D.H. Lawrence, “Pomegranate,” (1918).
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.