Article

‘HAPPY’ PATRIOTS DAY, WHEN TAXPAYERS THROW A PARTY FOR PUBLIC WORKERS … plus … TENS OF MILLIONS $$ RIDING ON TUESDAY’S SCHOOL BUS VOTE REDUX

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, APRIL 21, 2018) — Hey, it’s Patriot’s Day, that lame excuse the Commonwealth uses to give public employees a paid day off courtesy of taxpayers.

Let’s see. Working up a rough heading on that, we take the state’s $37 billion budget. THE PLANET conservatively assumes about 70% of it is for salaries. We then multiply for result of $37B x .7 and divide by 250 for the number of work days in a year. Again as you can see, THE PLANET is being conservative in this estimate The result is $106 million dollars.

That’s what taxpayers are donating to the state work force today: $106 million. In return, they receive zero productivity. This is government’s idea of a fair shake.

How much are Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski supporting the free ride of Pittsfield city workers today? Take a municipal budget of $134 million. Again figuring low, multiply that by .7 for money spent on salaries (the school department is 85%). Then take the result and divide by 250. The answer is $367,814.14. That’s how much Pittsfield citizens are paying for this one day.

Enjoy it. Don’t spend it all in one place.

Unions, Suits, and GOB Have Taxpayers on the Rack

This is only one example of how the large public employee unions, especially teachers, have stretched cities and towns beyond their capacity to keep up. That’s why Pittsfield, for example, has hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in post-employment benefits that do not include obligations for healthcare.

Keep this in mind during budget season when the Pittsfield School Department resorts to its usual lies and blackmail, when the mayor fails to cut a dime, and when our Right Honorable Friends on the City Council go along with it — all except Nick Caccamo, of course, who — without express written permission by the State Ethics Commission to do so — would be breaking the law should he cast any vote that involves the school department.

The State Ethics Commission is the only legal entity with standing in the question of Caccamo’s fitness to vote. City solicitor Kathy Degnan can give all of the advice she wishes, but, according to the SEC, she has no legal standing in the matter. If Caccamo were to act solely on Degnan’s advice, he, she, and the city would be in violation of the law.

Speaking of which, you’ve probably noticed by now that Mayor Dan Bianchi found time between the heavy lifting of ribbon cuttings, certificate awards, and D.A.R.E. graduations to resubmit his request to the council forcing a vote on school buses. Gee, could it be the mayor has advanced knowledge of something that has been kept from the public?

You’ll recall that the council, in the most recent meeting, turned down this needless expenditure on a 7-3-1 vote. The vote required a supermajority of eight votes, and it fell short because of the integrity of Tony Simonelli, Lisa Tully, and Kevin Morandi … oh yeah, and the inability of Caccamo to vote, Bog bless him.

The fact that the mayor would bring it back for a vote one meeting later has the wires burning with speculation. Politically, would he risk the embarrassment of another rejection? The “usual suspects” say no. This would mean, once again during Bianchi’s reign of error, that “The Fix Is In.” It would also indicate then that Bianchi has preordained knowledge that the vote will be successful, apparently in violation of state law. Is he that crass to risk an armada of legal damage to the city simply to foist upon the public an unnecessary, inadvisable purchase that clearly the vast majority of citizens do not want.

It’s Either (a) or (b)

The second vote on the buses can only be successful in two ways: (a) If at least one among Simonelli, Tully, and Morandi switch their votes in a flip-flop or (b) if somehow Caccamo votes. Let’s deal with these two possibilities in reverse order. Speculation has put forth the possibility that city solicitor Kathy Degnan will “rule” or proffer an opinion that Caccamo can vote on the bus issue and not be in conflict with state ethics law.

As we have stated, and let everyone be forewarned: THAT IS INCORRECT.

Degnan has no legal standing here. She “cain’t rool on squat,” as our old buddy Jed The K would say. The State Ethics Commission is the only entity that can legally rule on Caccamo’s fitness to vote. The SEC has already done that, which is why Caccamo did not vote on the buses the first time around.

THE PLANET sent Caccamo the following e-mail, copying in the city solicitor:

PLANET: Question regarding Tuesday’s meeting, wherein the mayor has brought back the school bus vote. Will you be recusing yourself again, as state law requires?

If not, why not, and by what legal right? The State Ethics Commission, as you probably know, is the only entity that can legally rule on your eligibility when it comes to school department votes. The city solicitor has not power to do so. That comes not from me but from the state.

Appreciate a response.

He answered this way, late Sunday night:

CACCAMO: I can neither confirm nor deny that I will voting on Tuesday at this time. I am still pulling together all available information and working through the proper channels to get a clearer picture before Tuesday night.

Since tomorrow is Patriot’s Day and the SEC will be closed, Caccamo will have to wait until Tuesday should he wish to talk to them. That’s cutting it a bit close.

If Caccamo can’t vote, which the SEC has previously ruled and it likely to uphold on Tuesday, then the other possibility is that one among the three “no” votes has flipped. Which one, if any? To whom did Bianchi “get?” It’s like an Agatha Christie mystery, or one of Mongram’s el cheapo Charlie Chan movies.

So who cracks?

Who Cracks? THE PLANET, Ever The Optimist, says ‘No One.”

Simonelli? We can’t see it. Tony has the most experience here, and he know why every other school district in Berkshire County except Pittsfield privatizes buses, because it saves taxpayers’ money, the business is better run, buses are better maintained, and workers do a better job. Morandi? Nope. You’ve probably read Kevin’s well-thought-out explanation for his vote, in his statement sent to THE PLANET. We contacted him subsequent to that, and he responded this way: “Like I said, I feel very confident with the way I voted on April 8 about the bus issue and have stated my reasons.” He added that he hadn’t received “any new information” that would change his mind.

That leaves Tully. When THE PLANET asked her if she would you pledge to citizens not to change her vote, she ominously responded: “No. I cannot pledge that I will not change my vote.  I am not infallible.  If I make a wrong decision I will rectify it.  The school department did not address my concerns to my satisfaction at the Council meeting.”

Certainly a lot of eyes will be on Tully Tuesday night.

THE PLANET has asked her if she plans to stick by her original vote or not and why? We shall share her response if and when we receive it.

Call us optimistic or naive, perhaps having inhaled too much of the pure oxygen of victory when the council handed The Little Guy a rare, if symbolic, victory on April 8 over the Suits and Special Interests.

We say no one will crack. Perhaps we are letting our emotions clouding our vision, in violation of one of our cardinal rules, but we say that following Tuesday night’s vote, taxpayers (and the city itself) shall be the winners.

Bianchi, PSD: Lies, Lies, and More Lies

One of the lies the school department and the mayor have used in so relentlessly pursuing the bus business involves cost. Bianchi points to it costing “only” $2,766,075. But is that so? Let’s take a closer look at how much this $2,766,075 purchase will actually cost.

To that base amount, all of which will be borrowed, you have to add interest. Then you must add an additional $1.2 million that the city still owes on the current fleet. That loan is also being serviced. To that, add the cost for bus drivers ($743,262), supervisor ($41,208), mechanics ($120,634), maintenance ($249,600), handicapped transportation ($88,322), gas ($287,248), health insurance ($720,000 estimated), vehicle insurance ($250,000 estimated), other post-employment benefits ($500,000 estimated), and garaging and parking of buses ($200,000 estimated). That totals $7,166,349 for buses.

Now, in fairness, we must add $1.5 million. Why? That is the amount of the negotiated pay raises taxpayers owe PSD staffers in the FY15 budget. It’s not a bus cost, granted, but it nonetheless is an obligation upon taxpayers before they pay their first penny for new buses. This brings us to a figure of about $8.67 million.

Oh yeah, we forgot debt service on $4.66 million. At, what, 8%, that’s about $341,000 a year. Rounding off, that’s $9 million.

We’re not done yet.

Kristen Behnke, the out-of-tune bag lady for the PSD, says the department will take five years to pay off the buses. That requires us to subtract the one-time purchase ($2,766,075 and the current debt for the old fleet), and multiply that figure by five (five years of recurring costs for drivers, maintenance, insurance, etc.). That gives us approximately $15 million.

$8.67 million + $15 million — That’s what Bianchi’s “$2,766.075″ amounts to: a grand total of $23,670,000.

Every councilor should keep this in mind when the vote comes before them again. Based on a more thorough look at the numbers (we could say a more “honest” look over the numbers the school department gave), THE PLANET is hoping citizens pick up at least one or two votes from those councilors who previously voted yes on the buses. Awaiting them will be instant hero status, a statue in Park Square, a guarantee of re-election, and a free meal with THE PLANET at the world-famous Red Lion Inn — not that politics (or bribery) would ever cross our sainted lips.

After all, Ward 4 councilor Chris Connell said that he had not seen honest numbers from the department first time around (of course, that begs the question: Well, why did you feel you had enough infomation to vote?). Now that he and others presumably have a better grasp of the real deal, and throwing in the fact that virtually all neutral observers say the current fleet of buses can last from a minimum of two to five years or better, we hope the “no” side picks up steam and this measure is resigned to the porcelain commode, where it belongs.

———————————————————————————-

“So your lead to the local color, serving coffee with a cruller. Dunking doesn’t take a lot of skill. They’ve got a lot of coffee in Brazil.” — “Coffee Song,” Frank Sinatra and many artists, written by Bob Hilliard and Dick Mills, (1946).

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

 

This

As such, THE PLANET’s protest

88 Responses to “‘HAPPY’ PATRIOTS DAY, WHEN TAXPAYERS THROW A PARTY FOR PUBLIC WORKERS … plus … TENS OF MILLIONS $$ RIDING ON TUESDAY’S SCHOOL BUS VOTE REDUX”

  1. dusty
    April 21, 2014 at 12:45 am #

    Sounds like the Caccamo angle is being pressured for sure. If Mrs Tully flips I will lose respect for her. I was hoping for change from her predecessor.

    If the mayor was a real man trying to do his job taking care of his city and the people in it he would himself be leading the charge for privatization of the buses. But he does not have the time because he is to busy bailing water out of his own sinking ship.

    • danvalenti
      April 21, 2014 at 7:59 am #

      Thanks, DUSTY.

  2. B. Clairmont
    April 21, 2014 at 4:24 am #

    Dusty,

    Just a side note….Councilor Tully’s predecessor, former Councilor Yon was the first councilor, in 2010, to vote against the budget for the school department. She voted against using the $1,300,000 in Federal grant dollars that was given out as raises to the teachers. Then Councilor Sherman was the only other Councilor to vote with her (I wasn’t on the council then).

    Then, last year, she joined me in reducing the school department budget by $200,000.

    If Councilor Tully flips her vote to a yes, you have the change you were seeking. Just wanted to point that out.

    Barry

    • danvalenti
      April 21, 2014 at 7:59 am #

      Good points, BARRY. Chris Yon along with Kevin Sherman cast courageous votes — the right votes, in fact. We’re hoping you and your colleagues will have the gumption to act the same when the bloated carcass of the PSD budget comes waddling your way.

    • dusty
      April 21, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

      Thanks Barry. What I was trying to say is that I want a councilor who is an independent thinker and does not respond to pressure from others. I want representation from a person who has left the peer pressure back in high school. And if she uses the “my ward people kept calling me telling me to change my vote” I will not believe it. Although I can see where the school committee might recruit some telemarketers to fake such calls.

  3. Spider
    April 21, 2014 at 4:53 am #

    Keep in mind that our mayor not only strongly supported Tully but helped her immensely in her campaign to oust Yon…..where do you think her allegiance lies?

    Second…..Caccamo says he is “pulling together all available information” Translate that to Degnan’s permission to vote.
    HELLO!

    It’s very possible both scenarios will happen….yes votes from both Tully and Caccamo. Nothing surprises me in this city!

    • danvalenti
      April 21, 2014 at 7:57 am #

      Well, as we have written, they may try to use Degnan as an excuse so Caccamo can vote. If they do, however, it would be illegal and open to near-certain (and near-certainly successful) challenge.

  4. levitan
    April 21, 2014 at 5:07 am #

    Perhaps suggesting to Tully that there is a difference between being ‘infallable’ and a wishy-washy pushover. She took a position, defended it publicly, and she ought to insist on it. Otherwise, she can kiss whatever future credibility she hopes to earn farewell.

    • levitan
      April 21, 2014 at 5:14 am #

      (She would have a hard time convincing anybody that 1.7 milion dollars funded out of taxpayers’ pockets for next 5 years looked better on Tuesday evening than it did two weeks prior.)

      • danvalenti
        April 21, 2014 at 7:55 am #

        Actually, it’s $2.7+million, but the point is well made. What would have changed to so dramatically alter the situation?

    • danvalenti
      April 21, 2014 at 7:56 am #

      Excellent. No one is expecting her to be “infallible.” Citizens, however, have every right to expect integrity.

  5. Spider
    April 21, 2014 at 5:12 am #

    As for Connell….does he ever make a decision on his own, without first testing the water?

    He said he lacked all the info, but still felt certain enough to vote “yes”….on whose instructions?

  6. Scott
    April 21, 2014 at 5:13 am #

    I always thought I was just a day behind but planet come on you need a better web person I don’t imagine getting the dates and times right would be a difficult task.

    The paid day hits close to home with my wife and I we actually do business with people public and private who on one hand get the day off paid yet him and haw over us getting paid for the day off as well it always amazes me how people feel entitled yet look down on others for wanting the same thing in all fairness but it kills them to give it to others. I hope they all enjoy the day we’re both working today.

    • levitan
      April 21, 2014 at 5:15 am #

      Just paying them not to break anything. If we could get the Governor, Grossman, and Coakley to take a 365 day vacation…

    • danvalenti
      April 21, 2014 at 7:55 am #

      I can’t follow your point here, S. This needs some clarity.

      • Downtown Dweller
        April 21, 2014 at 1:20 pm #

        Your “Fortress of Solitude” line is sporting the date April 21, 2018…you’re 4 years into the future.

        • Downtown Dweller
          April 21, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

          Oh, and posting times are off by 3 hours.

          • danvalenti
            April 21, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

            WE post in local time, i.e., PLANET time.

        • danvalenti
          April 21, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

          DD
          Thanks. It is always the future here on THE PLANET.

  7. Sal
    April 21, 2014 at 6:09 am #

    To Barry Clairmont:

    Would you mind explaining to us PLANET readers, why you voted for the buses? Since you are in the financial field, I trust your calculations.

    Will you be changing your mind Tuesday, night?

  8. Bill Sturgeon
    April 21, 2014 at 6:24 am #

    The City still owing money from the last school bus purchase is not the fault of the PSD.. The PSD had nothing to do with the structuring and repayment of the debt. That process falls upon the various “Administrations”.

    If Lisa changes her mind and votes for the purchase of new school buses could be the results of her Ward people expressing their displeasure with her initial vote. A councilor’s personal opinion is one thing, but if the majority of a councilor’s Ward or City have opinion that are different, I think that they should vote the way their citizen feel.

    As for the people in Ward 2 who are dependent on buses to get their children to school and back home safely you might want to call your Ward councilor I don’t think he understands your needs.

    • levitan
      April 21, 2014 at 6:45 am #

      Thanks, Bill – that possibility is fair. I’m doubtful that a wardful of voters would demand the purchase of a bus fleet, but if that shoe fits then the rest of the City’s residents deserve to know about it.

    • danvalenti
      April 21, 2014 at 7:53 am #

      BILL
      What you say about the money still owed on the current buses is true — all the more reason for the mayor, the PSD, and the council to realize it is yet another reason why refinancing a new fleet makes no sense. If Tully changes her vote because “of her Ward people expressing their displeasure with her initial vote,” she would have to document that. Both Simonelli and Morandi tell a different story. They say they have received nothing but support for their vote. Why would Ward 1 be different when, as Barry Clairmont has pointed out, their previous representative, Chris Yon, voted to reject the school department budgets until they were trimmed.

  9. Dave
    April 21, 2014 at 6:37 am #

    How many of these things will happen Tuesday night? Councilor Caccamo abstains again, one or more councilors change their vote, a PHS baseball parent with a tear streaking down their face pleads for the councilors to fund the new buses, each councilor who speaks defending the purchase mentions the baseball bus breakdown, and finally Terry Kinnass gives Ms. Sabourin a ringing endorsement during his bi-weekly 3 minutes.

  10. Nota
    April 21, 2014 at 8:50 am #

    Planet, how about a contest to see who can pick the scenerio of the voting for the bus contract. There will be a billion dollars for the taxpayer that picks the scenerio in chronological order, good luck!

    • danvalenti
      April 21, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

      OK. We shall put up the cutter.

  11. Rafael
    April 21, 2014 at 8:56 am #

    I guess all the MA public employees needed another day off today, to recover from all the other days off they get, plus the ridiculous amount of sick days, etc. Must conserve energy to be able to retire at 55 with full pension.
    This week also reminds us that there is zero need for a week off from school this time of year. Just another paid vacation for the school system.

    • Pat
      April 21, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

      True. I can’t believe how many paid vacations they get not to mention other perks. All being paid for by the taxpayers.

    • Wilson
      April 21, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

      Don’t worry, I’m sure plenty of state employees came in to work for double time, and maybe overtime too: we wouldn’t be able to sustain our lives for more than a few moments without the support of government!

  12. dusty
    April 21, 2014 at 9:49 am #

    By now all councilors have had time to do their homework on the bus issue. Before they vote i would like to hear each one of them give their reason (in 300 words or less), as to why they voted yea or nay,

    I would actually like to hear the mayor chime in as well. (once again, 300 words or less) and skip all the bullshit

    • levitan
      April 21, 2014 at 10:29 am #

      I’m really cheesed off that a recent graduate is proposed for a Director’s position. Her accomplishments, per her resume, consists of gmail, Google Docs, iPhoto (photo album), and Powerpoint.

      I have never seen a Powerpoint presentation that did not immediately anesthetized me. She also did something impressive for the Hockey team and helped write a grant.

      She should be an intern, and Pam M. should be nominated for Director of Admin.

      Barry and whoever else is listening, please do the right thing and toss out that nomination. Executive secretarial/admin work is complex and should be awarded to someone with professional experience. The last one in that seat produced this holy horror of a website, replete with kittens, purple, boats, and lens-flare and probably little else.

      Quality counts.

      • levitan
        April 21, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

        (Apologies – I thought Matoon was the prior Director of Admin)

        • ed shepardson
          April 21, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

          Who’s Pam M?

          • levitan
            April 21, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

            Pam Malumphy.

    • levitan
      April 21, 2014 at 10:30 am #

      Her resume resides here.

      • Dave
        April 21, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

        I was expecting much less after reading your post. It is not really that bad of a resume for the position, but I would have added under qualifications- follows order extremely well, can stay adrift as long as needed without rocking the boat, etc….. A question, so the first person that comes in with a new initiative is going to see her first? I hope they don’t get red faced or talk loudly!

        • levitan
          April 21, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

          Her resume simply states that she owns a iPad, uses gmail, and has teaching experience. She appears to have broken the elements of ‘Teaching Seventh Grade’ down to minutiae and present those details as gross experience.

          Starting a new year, ‘develop a curriculum.’ Co-author a grant? Who found the grant? Did she actually perform the purpose of the Grant and what did she produce? I suspect nothing given the evidence of window dressing.

          Remove her High School experience and hobbies and there really is nothing that points to Director capacity.

          To me, she appears qualified to teach middle school

          • levitan
            April 21, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

            Silly analogy seems appropriate here:

            It’s as though a beginning dentist puts on his skill set,

            “Extraction of integral tissues
            Complex repair of multi-planar topography
            Knowledge of multi-strata biololgical and synthetic manipulations, etc.. ”

            to present his qualifications to a brain surgeon.

          • danvalenti
            April 21, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

            THE PLANET shall be running a story, after her confirmation, which is a certainty given that Bianchi’s playing with a stacked deck. And please don’t look for a pun in that last remark.

      • Pat
        April 21, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

        Blogging is a skill? That’s news to me. I guess I should add it to my resume.

        • levitan
          April 21, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

          Got an email account and an iPhone?

      • ed shepardson
        April 21, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

        I think Pam Malumphy is seriously over qualified for that job and I doubt she’d want it.

        • Dave
          April 21, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

          Hey settle down.. Bianchi named her to the Human Rights Commission. Her “resume” is also on the agenda–yeah she is over qualified, I see a lot of consulting and non-profit public sector positions…I direct you to Levitan’s dentist analogy above.

          • ed shepardson
            April 21, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

            Versus teaching?

        • levitan
          April 21, 2014 at 7:46 pm #

          Ok, Malumphy is over-qualified. But the 25 year old middle school teacher should not get pretend to be a Director without a bicker-fest.

          Dan Bianchi would not hire from this resume for Director position in his own company, he should not push it in City Hall. (Where I come from, Director is a position that means something. ‘Team Leader’ is a position that means nothing in terms of responsibility or pay level.)

          • MrG1188
            April 22, 2014 at 7:20 am #

            Thanks to shrewd union contract negotiation, “Team Leader” in most districts actually does carry a stipend; smallish usually, but if you have 5 different stipended positions as many do, it starts to add up to real money. Also, not sure how it works in Pittsfield, but Team Leader position is often rotated among the teachers in the department so everyone can wet their beak at the trough.

  13. amandaWell
    April 21, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    How about if councilor Tully pulls a Marham out of her play book……..my constiuents have called me and 10- 1 overwhelmingly are for the buses, so, while I am against it, I have to go with my people. g a w d

  14. Bill Sturgeon
    April 21, 2014 at 11:06 am #

    With Megan Whilden leaving this would be a perfect time to fill that position with “qualified” A&I veteran, a person from a minority group, or one of the people who have been working with Megan.

    I hope that mayor dan’s (small letters used intentionally) nationwide search exceeds the boundaries of childhood friends and his kitchen table. He has not been doing so well with them.

    I am waiting to see who he appoints to the search committee, that will tell all of us a great deal!

    NO MORE POLITICAL AND CHILDHOOD FRIENDS, there is more to running the City of Pittsfield than DARE graduations and free events!!!

    • C. J.
      April 21, 2014 at 11:54 am #

      It appears the “posted” (how long ?) qualifications for the Mayor’s Director of Administrative Services were a direct reflection of Ms. Sanbourin’s resume’.
      Mary McGiness’ resume didn’t compare with what was required this time. Note: Mary did a great job, in spite.
      Do custom tailored requirements mean the fix was in ?
      Shufflin Sheffield John DeAngelo probably posted as instructed.

    • Dave
      April 21, 2014 at 1:20 pm #

      HOW ABOUT A “qualified” A&I veteran, a “qualified” person from a minority group, or one of the “qualified” people who have been working with Megan. I will agree with you then bill.

    • Wilson
      April 21, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

      This is the perfect time to fill the position with a cat (a black one if that is more “diverse”), which would both demonstrate the city’s commitment to animal rights, and raise the city’s stature as a cultural destination.

  15. amandaWell
    April 21, 2014 at 11:20 am #

    I would like to see a Vegas Stripper apply for some of these positions.

    • Dave
      April 21, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

      I would vote for one for city clerk!

  16. Bill Sturgeon
    April 21, 2014 at 11:27 am #

    I heard rumor that Pete Bruno is going to be retiring very soon! If this is a fact the City will be losing another wonderful employee!

    • Chris Connell
      April 21, 2014 at 11:47 am #

      Dan, I just want to set the record strait. I voted for the buses because I feel based on the information that was provided to us, that some of the buses are not in good shape. In order to maximize our trade in value, it was the best solution to make this deal while we have a value from the older buses. I AM NOT VOTING IN FAVOR BECAUSE SOMEONE WHATS ME TO. My vote is ALWAYS not only for my ward but the city. However, I will NOT vote for any future funding without a actual comparison between keeping the buses in house or sub-contracting. Any questions that people have can be made by e-mailing me at cconnell@pittsfieldch.com. Thank You

      • danvalenti
        April 21, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

        Appreciate the clarification, CHRIS. The call for a direct, apples-to-apples comparison is a wise one. I’m with you on that, provided you can find a neutral, third-party source to to the comparisons. Another way would be to have Tony Simonelli do one and one of the proponents do one, then go with the more credible.

        • Dave
          April 21, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

          Thank you also Chris. One question you should ask the superintendent. He stated the last meeting that 40 was the magic number of when contracting out could be beneficial. We are looking for 43, could we get by with 40? Then ask him why if he thought it possibly could be beneficial to privatize and the number of buses is so close, why wasn’t a more up to date analysis done. In the PSD’s own words, this process has been ongoing for 18 months, and with the numbers being so close we are supposed to believe the Garden of Eden of hired consultants didn’t want to spend a mere pittance that could possibly save the city millions in the long run. At least Mayor Barrett is getting a good chuckle out of recent happenings.

      • Rafael
        April 21, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

        Mr. Connell,
        Did you properly vet “the information that was provided to us” or did you just believe what was told to you? What concrete evidence was presented to you and the council that the buses “are not in good shape” – which is such a general term that it should never be used to make a decision involving almost 3 mil. What spreadsheet was provided to you showing you the total cost and the cost of each individual bus for the maintenance they’ve undergone? What factual evidence did you look at that states each buses trade in value now, and what that trade in value is projected to be 1 year, 2 years, etc. from now?
        What spreadsheet did you look at that compares the maintence cost of each current bus, to what the maintenance cost of a new bus would be?
        Did you do any of the above, at all?

      • levitan
        April 21, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

        Mr. Connell,

        Doesn’t the purchase request intend to reduce the fleet to 43 from 52? Then why not sell the less desirable ones (or burn them and claim insurance)?

    • dusty
      April 21, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

      And if it is true is the fix in on his replacement?

      If you are from Pittsfield should you even bother to apply for the job?

    • danvalenti
      April 21, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

      Wow. Donna Mattoon gone. Mary McGinness, gone. Megan Whilden, gone. DPW employee fired on a charge of stealing. Monterosso suspended WITH PAY. Peter Bruneau leaving. Principal of Reid suspended, sources say, WITH PAY. Great record, Mr. Mayor.

  17. amandaWell
    April 21, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

    There is. There is no such city employee named Pete Bruno, try again.

  18. Pat
    April 21, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

    Why does anyone bother to apply for jobs in Pittsfield as just as in the Boston probate court scandal, they already know who they are going to put in the position before they place the ad. They are just going through the motions to make it all seem legal.

    • Dave
      April 21, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

      You are preaching to the choir Pat.

    • danvalenti
      April 21, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

      Bianchi has proven the most “political” in this respect than any of his predecessors.

  19. Nota
    April 21, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

    It’s Pete BRUNEAU!

  20. amandaWell
    April 21, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    Does anyone know who is replacing Mehgan Wlihelm?

  21. Nota
    April 21, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

    Who the hell is Wlihelm?

  22. Nota
    April 21, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

    Oh, you’re talking about Megan Wilkins, the arts culture gooroo.

    • danvalenti
      April 21, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

      whilden, Whilden, WHILden, WHILDEN.

  23. Mark
    April 21, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

    I work in the dreaded private sector and very much enjoyed my paid holiday day off today…don’t hate the player hate the game.

    • Rafael
      April 21, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

      The difference, Mark, is if you work in the private sector, the taxpayers are not paying for your time off. I imagine that no one would begrudge a paid holiday your private sector employer gives you.

  24. Nota
    April 21, 2014 at 3:53 pm #

    I was impressed with Mrs. Blankey and her knowledge of bus engines in particular. She certainly is a well rounded individual, our school system is lucky to have this young Lady!

    • Dave
      April 21, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

      Get on the (new) bus, forget about us (the taxpayer), and put the blame on me (office holder afraid of the PSD voting block) and tie a yellow ribbon round the old, the old oak tree (last one out of here turn out the lights).

  25. Bill Sturgeon
    April 21, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

    OK shoot me I spelled Peter Bruneau name wrong! Pete I am sorry! I worked for years with a Major Bruno. I believe you know I meant you no disrespect. I have the greatest admiration for you and all you have done for the people of the City of Pittsfield. I owe you a coffee!

  26. Spider
    April 21, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

    Mr. Connell….you say you will not vote for any “future funding” without comparison. What future funding are you talking about and when? We are concerned about the funding requested here and now….not somewhere in the future.

    It appears that you plan to vote “yes” again on Tues. Did you read all the info Mr. Simonelli has provided? Isn’t that enough comparison for you.

  27. danvalenti
    April 21, 2014 at 4:55 pm #

    It’s amazing that the school department, to “make” its case that the current buses are not in good enough shape to continue, has relied on hearsay and not data. There has been no data put forth to qualify that claim. Likewise, the PSD has given no current comparisons for privatizing a 43-bus fleet and running it in house. Behnke and Mccandless have themselves admitted that at 40 buses, its more cost-effective to privatize the bus service. If so, then the solution is to privatize a 40-bus (or 35 or 30) bus fleet and keep the best three (or eight or 13) of the current fleet. There’s your solution.

    • B
      April 22, 2014 at 10:42 am #

      We’ll said Dan, you should be mayor.

      • B
        April 22, 2014 at 10:43 am #

        We’ll not we’ll

        • B
          April 22, 2014 at 10:45 am #

          My computer keeps changing my wording.

  28. dusty
    April 21, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

    Did anyone factor in the rate kids are leaving the Pittsfield school system? Seems like we should need three less buses every year until we don’t need any at all.

    • Dave
      April 21, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

      Bahahahahahaah

  29. Nota
    April 21, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

    Remember when mom used to tell us walking to school two miles with snow up to the knees and wind drifts as high as six feet. Just curious, how are the JUvy DeTeNTIon Center kids transported?

  30. amandaWell
    April 21, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

    @ NOTA….one at a time!

  31. amandaWell
    April 21, 2014 at 7:08 pm #

    I called city hall, Bianchi answers (recorded) and says leave a message. Now that’s service.

    • levitan
      April 21, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

      It’s Patriots’ Day. They probably are not even allowed to show up.