Article

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?

“Ah will keel you to deaf.”

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.

and

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.

and finally,

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?

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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.

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“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.

and

26 Responses to “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”

  1. Jonathan Melle
    February 2, 2014 at 9:46 pm #

    How did it all happen in Pittsfield politics? Toxic waste PCBs causes cancer in Pittsfield residents. The Consent Decree signed by former Mayor Gerry Doyle and former GE CEO Jack Welch leaves a great majority of this killer pollution in place with CAPS. The problem with caps is that they do not last forever. After the caps become ineffective and expire, all of the PCBs in the land, air and water have to be cleaned up again and recapped. The Consent Decree doesn’t cover the ongoing cycle of recapping Pittsfield’s toxic waste sites. Pittsfield spent millions of dollars from the GE fund on revitalizing the Colonial Theater and North Street or downtown Pittsfield. No living wage jobs were created, while thousands of jobs were lost during the Jimmy Ruberto regime. Mayor Dan Bianchi is not addressing these environmental issues facing Pittsfield’s residents and businesses. Neither did former Mayor Jimmy Ruberto. Dan Valenti wants Melissa Mazzeo (or Mel Maz) to overturn this fraud that is the Consent Decree. If she can overturn the Consent Decree, then she can work miracles!

    • mike r
      February 3, 2014 at 8:00 am #

      So Dan. Your comments section is becoming the Jonathan Melle blog. How do you feel about that? Kind of turning some people off.

      • Jonathan Melle
        February 3, 2014 at 8:04 am #

        I love it that it is a free country and I have Freedom of Speech!

        • mike r
          February 3, 2014 at 8:47 am #

          There are social rules such as consideration for others and appropriateness that you do not seem to adhere to.

          • MrG1188
            February 3, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

            Hey Mike, At least Jonathan was on topic here. I think this is OK…it’s more vexing when he spouts the same speech, but if he’s topical he can stay!

        • danvalenti
          February 3, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

          JM
          It is a free country, and you do have freedom of speech. I would only point out, however, that on this blog, commenting privileges are just that: a privilege and not a right. Something to keep in mind.

      • Allen
        February 3, 2014 at 8:05 am #

        No more than you do. You don’t need to read it

      • danvalenti
        February 3, 2014 at 6:40 pm #

        MIKE
        I hear you. In this case, however, Jon is on topic and meets the main criteria for allowable posts: It moves the discussion forward by adding to it.

  2. Nota
    February 3, 2014 at 5:31 am #

    The problem with the consent decree reopening is that no law firm will take it on, as I suggested many years ago before the agreement was to hire someone like a renegade,Erin Brokovich type law firm, and wasn’t joking. However, we must be real about this, G E has to much political power, (heck they don’t pay tax anymore) and multiple investors out there, over ten million shares are currently owned. The other problem is the misconception that messrs. Doyle, Hickey gave us the best deal at that time, NO, that’s a folly. There was much political pressure to get this done at the time and the settlement was rushed into a substantially low outcome for the City of Pittsfield. We were sold down the River Folks!

    • danvalenti
      February 3, 2014 at 6:43 pm #

      No question. The best opportunity to get an equitable deal was during the original negotiations. As you point out, Pittsfield badly botched it, giving away too much and receiving too little in return. I’m not sure a reopener is impossible, though it would be daunting. Keep in mind, though, that any serious move in that direction would have a good chance of adding to the city’s leverage. From that, it might be able to settle out of court. If the city doesn’t try, it has ZERO chance. Even a small chance is worth taking.

  3. amandaWell
    February 3, 2014 at 6:22 am #

    Nice NOTA, keep an eye also on Public Policy Advisors,whose clients include GE,Nuclea Biotechnologies, you get the drift!

  4. Bull Durham
    February 3, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    But Dan, I could swear that I saw an ad during the Stupid Bowl from Hyundai claiming their ‘luxury’ car is just as well made as anything by Audi, BMW or Mercedes, and for half the price… how could their rail cars be so bad? I mean, no company ever lies in its ads, right?

    • danvalenti
      February 3, 2014 at 6:44 pm #

      BULL
      As we both know, ads are 100% the God’s honest truth, and we should believe everything we see, read, or hear in an advertisement.

  5. amandaWell
    February 3, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    Speaking of Hyandai, have you ever noticed Fucillo commercials, every time he seems to forget his own incentives and information on the cars. But it is……Huge uh!

  6. Pittsfield Patriot
    February 3, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    Your “champion of the little guy, people, meaning Mr. Valenti, had seats about 20 rows up near midfield Seattle sideline. Got to and back by Abbott Limousine. Preemo seats, limo, etc and all free of charge.. do you know how much those seats were going for???

    or at least DV didn’t see a bill. Mr. Valenti will not print this remark because of “off topic” but it is on topic for a website that champoins itself as the Hero of all the downtrodden etc.

    • danvalenti
      February 3, 2014 at 6:46 pm #

      We print it to give you enough rope from which to swing! We refer you to “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce, which points out the folly of a condemned man living in a dream.

  7. dusty
    February 4, 2014 at 2:24 am #

    We know that Gerry Doyle signed off on leaving PCBs buried in a hill next to Allendale school but was anyone giving him legal advice at the time? Was there a city solicitor?

    And is anyone following the health condition of any of the children who spent several years of their lives playing on the school property? It seems like a logical thing to do.

  8. outfox
    February 4, 2014 at 5:52 am #

    The city cannot sue GE but the residents can. There are probably eniugh people here as well as downstream from here, who have been affected by GE’s reckless disregard towards Central and South County, to file a class action suit. If the filing could be timed to coincide with when Ms. Mazzeo takes in formal procedures to re-open the Consect Decrer, peopke might begin to take notice. Tie the two together in an onslaugh of press releases to every media, and it is possible that GE would come up with a better agreement for we, the people. The fact that is is called a decree, rather than an agreement, assumes a power differential between the two parties,and implies an adversarial relationship between GE and Pittsfield.

    As far as I am concerned

  9. Mike Ward
    February 4, 2014 at 7:17 am #

    How appropriate to post this on Groundhog Day, Dan. Because reading this article and the responses feels like something I’ve done many times before.

    • danvalenti
      February 4, 2014 at 8:26 am #

      You have been here before, Mike … only you haven’t been here before. Think on it.

  10. Jim Gleason
    February 4, 2014 at 8:34 am #

    Dan, on another subject, I watched your good friend John Krol and tthe excuse for a sports editor at the BB, Matther Sprague, go on yesterday morning to supposedly talk about the preceeding days’ Super Bowl. Krol started his analysis by saying that Seattle didn’t completely dominate the game in every facet. A more untrue and uninformed opinion I have never heard. They then talked about the game for maybe 5 minutes and then proceeded to talk about the commercials for the rest of the time they spent on the game.They talked about their (Sprague’s) coverage of the coach Moynihan situation and Sprague said he broke the story 3 weeks ago, or a time to that effect, don’t remember exactly, and that you were not the first one to bring it up. He said no story was spiked by management and they told the whole story on this happening. Response?

    • ShirleyKnutz
      February 4, 2014 at 4:55 pm #

      I don’t remember the eagle stating who the person was or how many kids played baseball at PHS. I believe Dan was the first to put a name on this topic.

    • danvalenti
      February 4, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

      JIM
      Sprague’s coverage of the Coach M situation was strictly “me too.” THE PLANET broke the WHY of the coach’s situation, and THE PLANET broke the resolution of same. Matt is being cute with words here. THE PLANET wasn’t the first one to bring it up, and we never claimed we were. We were the first ones to explain what was happening. Our coverage resulted in Bobby getting his job back. We know this from our sources on the school committee and in the PSD.

      • Jim Gleason
        February 8, 2014 at 7:42 am #

        Dan, I know all of this. Sprague is a huge (pun intended) disappointment as a supposed sports editor. they have fluff coverage of most everything. howard Herman writes some good stuff, as well as Derek Gentile occasionally, but Sprague himself lacks the local knowledge to be effective. I used to like reading the BB’s sports page but not any longer.

  11. amandaWell
    February 4, 2014 at 4:37 pm #

    Who are those guys sitting in the audience at the last council meeting? sit up straight!

  12. Chris Evans
    February 14, 2014 at 7:55 am #

    PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city will again amend a 1999 agreement forged with the General Electric in order to approve easements that will allow the final stage of the redevelopment of Silver Lake to include a recreational walking trail.