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JURY STILL OUT ON LEGALITY OF BUS VOTE … plus … PSD’s SPOON-FED BUS NUMBERS DON’T HOLD UP TO INDEPENDENT ANALYSIS … TRUE COST TO TAXPAYERS OF RUNNING BUSES IN-HOUSE: $4.5 MILLION

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, APRIL 24, 2014) — First off, gang, after hearing from and consulting various authorities (city clerk’s office, former council president Kevin Sherman, self-appointed parliamentarians, and an attorney or two) it’s still very much an unanswered question THE PLANET raised (what, you think The Boring Broadsheet would raise a challenging question to its Masters? Shoot, man, The BB didn’t even have next-day coverage of Tuesday’s council meeting. That’s how pathetic the excremental rag has become.).

Here’s the question, in its crystalline essence: Was the city council vote on the bus bonding legal?

According to our interpretation of council rule 18, the answer is no. The city clerk was not in the office yesterday to weigh in on the matter. Of the four “experts” we asked (two parliamentarians and two lawyers) three said no and one said yes. Sherman said yes. Terry Kinnas said no. Remember, these are merely interpretations. It would appear the only definitive authority might be the state attorney general.

Here is what our Right Honorable Good Friend Sherman opined:

——- 000 ——-

KEVIN SHERMAN: In reading your column today and being the procedural/rules honk that I am, here is my unsolicited feedback regarding “Reconsideration.”  The following is the text of Rule 18: 

 Rule 18. When a vote requiring a simple majority is carried, it shall be in order for any member voting with the majority to move reconsideration. When a vote requiring more than a simple majority fails of passage, it shall be in order for any member voting with the prevailing side, even though that side is not in the majority, to move for reconsideration. A move for reconsideration may be made only at the same session as the vote to be reconsidered and when a motion for reconsideration is decided that vote shall not be reconsidered. 

The rule does not say “may be brought back for reconsideration” as you noted. Rule 18 is referring to the method in which a vote can be “reconsidered” at the same meeting that a vote occurred.  It is the only opportunity for a “do-over” during the meeting in the event that there was confusion on the vote. 

It would be out of order for a Councilor to move Reconsideration at a subsequent meeting but it is not out of order to bring back the matter in its entirety in a subsequent meeting as New Business.  It’s not a common occurrence but it can happen. Typically it can occur when a narrow vote is taken and generally speaking the item may be re-introduced with modifications to the original proposal addressing the concerns of those who voted in the opposition.   

While the Council was in essence asked last night to reconsider a vote, it was not under a motion for “Reconsideration” which is a term of art in this case.  Any party can submit an item to be placed on the Council agenda for the Council to address at a subsequent meeting even if it failed previously.  The one exception is a Special Permit application which requires typically at least a year to elapse before it can be re-introduced (I’d have to check on the time frame.)   

Therefore, in my humble opinion, the vote last night was not illegal nor in conflict with Council rules. 

Clear as mud?   

——- 000 ——-

We thank Kev for his opinion and love his last three words, which well sum up the situation.

THE PLANET would only add that the mayor’s petition on bus bonding was not brought back under “New Business.” It was merely placed once again on the agenda, apparently without any time limit or any public discussion. As Sherman points out, while not a formal motion for reconsideration, the council on Tuesday night in point of fact reconsidered a previous vote — the one on the buses.

THE PLANET finds it hard to believe that the council’s new rules would allow “any party [to] submit an item to be placed on the Council agenda for the Council to address at a subsequent meeting, even if it failed previously.” Most parliamentary procedures prohibit this without an imposed time frame, such as the one Sherman noted for Special Permits. Otherwise, what would prevent “anyone” (let alone any councilor) from resubmitting the same petition over and over again. That would be an invitation for a type of gridlock that would make the workings of Congress seem as speedy as the Daytona 500.

Bottom line: It is still very much an open question as to whether the vote Tuesday night on the buses was legal. If not, it will have to be rescinded. THE PLANET wonders if Mayor What’s His Face will ask his Legal Eagle for an “opinion.” We all know what happens when that occurs

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Tully’s Flip-Flop Seems Sincere, but Her School-Fed Figures Look to be Way off, More Propaganda than Factual

On another aspect of the bus vote, many questioned Ward 1 councilor Lisa Tully‘s flip-flop. THE PLANET, in another exclusive, published Tully’s lengthy explanation for her change. It would appear she had a genuine change of mind based on figures the school department gave her. Only Tully knows for sure her motivations, but THE PLANET accepts her switch on face value and, along with our friend and collegue Bill Sturgeon, commend her for having the courage to do it. We can fully respect the councilwoman for her stance.

However, we would point out that many questioned her “easy willingness” to accept school department figures. THE PLANET has learned over the years in dealing with the PSD that any figures must be considered suspect until their provenance can be proven genuine and reliable. As we have seen, even when the figures are technically correct, the presentation of the figures is often misleading and deceptive.

Tully writes: “I’ve updated my spreadsheet and calculated that, on average, we could expect to pay over $615,000 per year for 5 years to replace the fleet.” That would amount to a five-year cost of $3.075 million.

That’s a far different figure than THE PLANET’s, which we derived from three sources: The Scanlon audit, the FY14 school department budget, and the FY15 school department budget book. We calculated a yearly cost of operating school buses in house of about $4.6 million for a five-year total of $23 million. Our column earlier this week broke out the costs.

Add to that the figures Terry Kinnas presented to the city council Tuesday night. You have to believe these figures are much more accurate and reflective of the true costs that the numbers Kristen Behnke, Sue Carmel, and Bianchi spoon fed to Lisa Tully simply by the way Bianchi got red face and lost his cool when Kinnas delivered big-time for We the People. The mayor, as most of us have come to realize, doesn’t like “discordant notes.” He only wants “yes” people and bum kissers. We’ve got a message for Hizzoner: Not at this address, you unprofessional punk!

Here’s the Kinnas Analysis:

Transportation Salaries FY15
1   director    57,000
1   secretary    36,000
1   supervisor    42,000
3   bus mechanics 123,000
53  bus drivers   755,000
athletics    47,300
18 bus monitors   242,000
Direct Total Salaries……………$1,302,300

Health Insurance for bus-service personnel, based on 34 family plans and 11 single
Average Cost…………………………  $760,000

Per year cost  from old (but most recently available) Scanlon report 
workman’s comp cost      55,000
Medicare           13,000
life ins            3,300
Total Limited Benefits…………….$831,300

From the FY15 budget
bus operation truck              500
bus operations & maint      160,000
Gasoline              300,000
handicap trans 7D vehicles    88,300
Total Non-personnel Costs………………$548,800

Cost of New Buses
2,800,000  financed at  560,000 per year for five years

Total annual cost………………$3,242,400

Note that this figures does not include workman’s comp payouts, interest cost and fees for bonding, pension costs, unemployment costs, the $1.2 million to pay off the loan for old buses, utilities, depreciation of buses, or support functions for payroll, legal, health care etc.

In an interview last night with Kinnas, he said that once the true figures for these other “dis-included” costs were figured into the $3,242,400, the yearly cost would be “well over $4 million.”

Thus, an independent analysis using the school department’s own figures strongly suggests that the true cost of running the bus operation in house will be around $4.5 million a year.

Lies, lies, and more lies — and once again, taxpayers, you got hosed.

Anyone for a recall?

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QUICK LOOK AHEAD TO TOMORROW’S POST: THE PLANET DEAL WITH THE APPOINTMENT OF JULIA BERKOWITZ SABOURIN, “Miss Scopes Money Trial of 2013.” 

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“It doesn’t take him very long to get a tumble. Oh, all the rhumba lovers go into their rumble. Oh, how I’d love to be his double.”Xavier Cugat, “Yuba and His Tuba.”

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

 

45 Responses to “JURY STILL OUT ON LEGALITY OF BUS VOTE … plus … PSD’s SPOON-FED BUS NUMBERS DON’T HOLD UP TO INDEPENDENT ANALYSIS … TRUE COST TO TAXPAYERS OF RUNNING BUSES IN-HOUSE: $4.5 MILLION”

  1. buzz saw
    April 23, 2014 at 9:18 pm #

    Dan,
    Could it be that this Mayor is getting a kickback from this bus deal? There is little doubt in my mind about this.

    Can his bank accounts be a matter of public record being he serves in public office?

    What a hose job on the citizens of Pittsfield.

    • Scott
      April 24, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

      That’s the story if it exist but the bank that holds the loan and who we’re buying the busses from is a mystery. I believe the AG could access bank accounts. That’s venturing on conspiracy theory though.

  2. dusty
    April 24, 2014 at 1:11 am #

    “excremental rag” , priceless wordage.

    I would like to know which set of figures, if either, Barry Clairmont sides with.

  3. Frank
    April 24, 2014 at 3:13 am #

    Very interesting but one cost was not mentioned. How much is Pittsfield paying for the bus lot? Is the lot a bid item? I do not recall ever seeing it posted as up for bidding.

    • dusty
      April 24, 2014 at 4:25 pm #

      Yes, I wish this figure could be flushed out. I heard it was $80,000 20 years ago but it never seems to surface any more. I wonder if JLO knows and if so is it a secret.

  4. Mark
    April 24, 2014 at 3:27 am #

    Either way he is obviously ok with it because he voted in favor both times. As the financial watch dog on the council, because of those votes, it must be a good deal for us the tax paying peeps.

    • dusty
      April 24, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

      OK. So then I would like to know where Barry finds fault with Terry Kinnas figures.

  5. amandaWell
    April 24, 2014 at 4:41 am #

    Many things have been dredged with this bus contract fiasco. Inuendos and flinging accusations abound from everywhere. If and when you listen closely,many things add up. Many individuals directly involved in these decisions show there true character, reasons why Pittsfield can’t move forward, thus never will.

    Mcandless: It’s a lot of hard work.
    Caccamo: Out of the room.
    Simonelli: We shouldn’t be in the bus business
    Low: You been essentially working on this for a year and a half (water boy)
    Krol: LIke to commend Councilor Tully on her change of vote
    Cotton: Drives older vehicle, but grand kids have a 2014?
    Valenti: unprofessional punk…high fiving school committee members after the vote…and on and on and on…

    • Downtown Dweller
      April 24, 2014 at 6:17 am #

      Valenti unprofessional punk or should that be Bianchi?

  6. Joe Pinhead
    April 24, 2014 at 4:47 am #

    I missed the council meeting the other night however, I am just wondering about something. All accounts indicate that the Mayor was visible upset, red face and raising his voice at Mr. Kinnas.
    So when is the trial? Isn’t that what Mr. Kinnas supposedly did at the Reid meeting? Was Ms. Sabourin in attendance Tuesday night? If so has she prepared her charges to be brought forth? Any word on that?

    just sayin

  7. Nota
    April 24, 2014 at 4:50 am #

    Their true character is correct! This is why Tully is incorrect. She sought numbers from the powers that be. Her reason for a NO VOTE is simple. WE shouldn’t be in the transportation business.

  8. Tony
    April 24, 2014 at 5:01 am #

    Dan, If you really know Lisa Tully you will find that she can neither create a spread sheet or read one. Also you can take it to the bank that there is no way she herself can produce the lengthy response she submitted to you yesterday. If you believe she did , I have a steel span that connects two prominent boroughs in NYC that I will sell or lease to you cheap.

    • levitan
      April 24, 2014 at 8:54 am #

      What do you mean ‘she can’t read a spreadsheet.’ ?Spreadsheets aren’t read, they are tables of data.

  9. shakes his head
    April 24, 2014 at 5:36 am #

    You are forgetting a 3-5% increase per year in cost for the program. Thinking about this in 2013 dollars is a sure way for the administration to throw another screwball by the taxpayers.

  10. Payroll Patriot
    April 24, 2014 at 6:40 am #

    The agenda item should be New Monkey Business.

  11. Linda
    April 24, 2014 at 7:14 am #

    The lengthy responses that Councilor Tully had at the ready for DV on the same night of the vote, let me repeat that on the same night of the vote, show that this statement was done well in advance, probably as Tony says prepared for her by Bianchi Behnke Carmel or someone of the ilk.

    This was truly an orchestrated set-up phony vote.

  12. Spider
    April 24, 2014 at 7:35 am #

    Linda: I couldn’t agree more! I’m sure she will be better prepared and learn her lines before the vote on the school budget. How proud the mayor must be of her!

  13. Bill Sturgeon
    April 24, 2014 at 10:16 am #

    Payroll:
    I like your suggestion for the agenda!! The problem is most of monkey business is down in the corner office.

  14. Jonathan Melle
    April 24, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

    Gerry Doyle bankrupted the city of Pittsfield and sent the municpality into state receivership. Millions of taxpayer dollars are still unaccounted for.
    Jimmy Ruberto spent tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on downtown revitalization, including millions from the GE fund. Taxes were raised way above the rate of inflation for 8 consecutive years.
    Dan Bianchi spends millions on new school buses. I wonder who is worse: Gerry, Jimmy, or Danny?

  15. Mark
    April 24, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

    AWell…

    I believe what C. Cotton said was he drives 2 cars…an old one just himself in it…but when he needs to haul the grandkids they ride in his new 2014.

  16. Gene
    April 24, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

    It’s interesting that the bb only had a story Thursday today, as bad as it was. Yet this website had the results the same night as the vote!!
    No one has topped this website for coverage of this (and many other)issues.

    • danvalenti
      April 24, 2014 at 5:57 pm #

      We kicked their butts once again, GENE.

  17. Nota
    April 24, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

    Yeah, Gene, but the BB prides themselves in running stories from Lunenburg¥~<£?.

    • danvalenti
      April 24, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

      That and having its columnists tell us how great the restaurants are in Barrington and on Tyler Street.

  18. Scott
    April 24, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

    I would imagine theist thing our govt wants is regular people understanding intricacies like you are pointing out Dan, thank you for your service.

  19. Scott
    April 24, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

    Mayor Dans letter comes off defensive he doesn’t like tough questions or any criticism. I learned this first hand when I wrote them to praise a decision and when I wrote them to criticize a decision. He likes smiling and cutting ribbons I can’t blame him I wouldn’t want the job but he asked to serve us maybe football coach would be a better outlet for him to serve his community but even then you have to answer to parents when their kid doesn’t get enough playing time.

    • danvalenti
      April 24, 2014 at 5:54 pm #

      I’ve been around a lot of thin-skinned pols, SCOTT, and many panty-waisted pols, but Bianchi stands ahead of them all. The documentary of his tenure as mayor will be titled: “I am Curious and Yellow.”

      • MrG1188
        April 25, 2014 at 7:32 am #

        Wow…brutal. Valenti plays rough!

  20. sonny
    April 24, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

    Strange how some of the councils biggest speech makers went silent on such a big financial issue as the bus debate. Krol, Lothrop, Clairmont, and Mazzeo can go on ad nauseam about a stop sign or some trivial ordinance. Particulary disappointed in Clairmont. It is kind of expected from the other lap dogs. Councilors Simonelli and Morandi stood by their convictions, they stood tall. Councilor Tully you’ve lost all credibility, if you ever had any. This should have been tabled with some ball park privatization possible costs, brought forth so the TAXPAYER could really see the best direction to go with this.

    • dusty
      April 24, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

      Seems like I remember when Ruberto was mayor that none of the councilors were allowed on talk radio. He spoke for all of them. Maybe Bianchi is telling his backers to clam up. Whatever the reason they are doing it together.

      • danvalenti
        April 24, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

        This seems to be the case, DUSTY. We hear Bianchi has got the word out: No one talks to THE PLANET. Evidently, that’s how scared he is. Scared of what, though? That’s an interesting question.

        • Scott
          April 25, 2014 at 3:58 am #

          Because he wants to keep the regular people ignorant to the fine details.

    • danvalenti
      April 24, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

      SONNY
      The four councilors you mention rolled over and played dead on this one. Most suspicious, especially the first three, K, J-Lo, and C.

      • Sal
        April 25, 2014 at 7:17 am #

        Not much to say when you don’t have real numbers… I think everyone expected this to be a cake walk. Only Councilor Tully requested data and provided that data to the PLANET

        • danvalenti
          April 25, 2014 at 7:22 am #

          SAL
          Yup. At least she did that. At least she made the attempt to find out. Bottom line is that (my guess) a combination of Bianchi, Carmel, and Behnke snow-balled her and overloaded her, but she did struck me as sincere. I would attribute that same quality to some others on the council. Still though Morandi and Simonelli were the most compelling and believable, the most convincing and open-minded.

  21. Bill Sturgeon
    April 25, 2014 at 6:16 am #

    Dusty:
    I am afraid you are not correct about Ruberto, “not letting councilors talk on the radio”! I interviewed City Councilors and other City Employees on my radio shows.

  22. Matt
    April 25, 2014 at 7:39 am #

    According to the Berkshire Eage, the first human rights complaint has been filed with MCAD naming the career center and the City of Pittsfield. This has triggered an MCAD “active investigation” which may prove more responsive to staff harassment complaints than that of the city. Kudos to Dan Collins, a 35 year employee, for his courage in this.

  23. Rosaura Roman
    April 25, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

    That’s not true; I filed a complaint with MCAD last year. I’m 55 years old female working for the city for 18 years; over 13 years in the Solicitor’s office. I was hire by the city in 1996 after taking a test and scoring top three on the civil service list. No one did me any favors; I earn my position in City Hall. I have been harassed since then.

    • danvalenti
      April 25, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

      ROSAURA
      Thank you for this and for sticking up for your rights. In doing that, you are sticking up for the rights of all, most of whom, unlike you, are too afraid to speak out and continue to endure their mistreatment at the hands of bullies in silence.

      • Rosaura Roman
        April 25, 2014 at 7:15 pm #

        I don’t blame them; they have to protect their jobs. Because this is a pending matter, I can’t say more. I promise to tell my story when this is over.

        • danvalenti
          April 25, 2014 at 8:20 pm #

          I understand the need to keep a job. But people should realize how many people in City Hall, good people, know what’s going on but dare not say because of fear. Is this the “openness” and “transparency” upon which the mayor campaigned in 2011? We all know how that turned out. When your complaint reaches resolution and you’re ready to share your story, let us know. There will be many interested in it.

    • matt
      April 25, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

      Rosaura,
      A clarification: What I meant was that the first MCAD complaint AT Berkshireworks in this current situation has been filed, not that it was the first one ever in Pittsfield.

      I am aware of your situation and wish you well in seeking redress for what has happened to you. Danvalenti is absolutely correct that many people are reluctant to speak out because of the retaliation that they have seen happen to others. It is sad when the people charged with helping others threaten them for protesting how they are treated.