Article

EMPTYING OUT THE MAILBAG … PLANET HEARS FROM ‘THE PEOPLE’ ON A WEALTH OF TOPICS

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, JUNE 25, 2014) — While we have a moment, allow us to catch up on some back mail that came in recently, which we are publishing here for the first time. The first letter is actually a copy of a letter sent a few days ago by Charles Garivaltis, former city councilor, school committee member, parks commissioner, and mayoral candidate.

Garivaltis’ Words prove Prophetic

Dear Mr. Mayor:

I was a candidate for an at-large seat summer of 2003. The Eagle ran my release Aug. 13, 2003 pertaining to what I saw as a major drug problem “coming our way” if we did not take action. My message was big city drug gangs are targeting Pittsfield because of our location and naivete thinking we are immune because of our isolation. They are not here at this time but they are coming. Of course, I lost my election that year .One does not win elections n Pittsfield by stepping on big toes and pompous personalities. The usual thing, the big fish (empty suits) in a small pond( Pittsfield), convinced folks they, meaning the pros, had things under control and Chuck G. did not know what he was talking about. Here’s my release published by the Eagle 10 years ago. Was I wrong?

Garivaltis:  City has become drug hub

Pittsfield – The city’s geographical proximity to large cities and its rural location may have combined to make Pittsfield a “hub” of a drug distribution system in Vermont, New Hampshire, Western Massachusetts, and areas of eastern New York state, said city candidate Charles P. Garivaltis.

Garivaltis, who is seeking election to an at-large seat on the City Council , said that if he is elected, he will seek to have the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration establish a field division in Pittsfield.

Currently, Garivaltis said, the DEA maintains field divisions in Boston, New Bedford, Cape cod, Worcester, Logan Airport, Lowell and Springfield.

“These field divisions help local law enforcement in identifying primary illicit drugs of concern, the violence associated with the trade, and the violence of trafficking through their areas of responsibilities”, Garivaltis wrote in a prepared statement.

 ”They are not desk agents. These men walk in neighborhoods where drug activity takes place and talk to folks in the neighborhoods. They work with the area team. There is a federal office building in Pittsfield, so space for the DEA field division will not be a problem. The DEA picks up the full cost so local taxpayers will not pick up the tab.”

End of release as written in the Eagle Aug. 13, 2003.

Now here’s my point. When I wrote this piece gangs had not established a foothold in Pittsfield.  Now we have a major problem. Gangs, guns, and violence are here. And our leaders are  silent.  I don’t know if the Drug Enforcement Administration has programs and resources of a decade ago. But I do know we have a problem and there is no trouble and no expense asking the feds if they can help us out.Don’t wait until our community reputation is destroyed or innocent citizens are shot dead. The hour is late.

 ——– 000 ——–

Bianchi’s Gags His Staffers

I can tell you anonymously that Bianchi wouldn’t let any of City Hall’s staffers talk to the press without his permission. — Scoop Jackson

PLANET RESPONDS: This came in to us from a fellow member of the media. Our source confirms something that we had suspected. Of course, when the mayor’s stooges fail to respond to our requests, we just go to our many alternate sources within the building (and outside the building).

——– 000 ——–

FROM MAYOR BIANCHI’S FACEBOOK PAGE, Sent in By One of Our Spies

“I enjoyed the Downtown Pittsfield Farmers Market - and Story Time- this past Saturday.” — TES

While crime threatens to turn downtown Pittsfield into a ghost town, Mayor Bianchi shows aggressive respose. Here, he reads to a handful of disinterested children at the Farmers’ Markets. No parent has of yet filed child abuse charges. (Photo: Mayor’s Facebook page)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

——– 000 ——–

Sabouring Hiring ‘Galling’

The hiring of the 7th grade english teacher [Julia Berkowitz Sabourin by Mayor Bianchi as his new "director of administrative services"] was galling.  She did not meet the minimum qualifications posted for the job (did others who applied?). In New York State, anyone appointed must meet the minimumn qualifications.  Gonna be interesting to see who can meet the minimum qualifications for ED at Berkshire Works and if qualified people have applied. It is likely that the insider doesn’t meet the stated minimum quals of the position. They can get away with that so long as no other applicant does meet them.  The director of admin services certainly didn’t meet the mimimum of 5 years of senior municipal experience. Oh well. I would expect that affirmative action could demand a review of all applicants for any job to ascertain that affirmative action is being effected. — Denise

——– 000 ——–

School Pitch is Hollow

[Ward 6 city councilor] John Krol has frequently used his radio show to promote a new high school. Had [school committee member] Tony Riello on yesterday assisting with the pitch. Part of John’s logic is that a new school would decrease the number of school choice students opting out and increase the number opting in. I’ve been to both Mt. Greylock and Monument Mountain recently and those schools are no better than Taconic. It’s not the school, the bricks and mortar, or the  building’s environment that are driving school choice decisions. It’s the criminal environment. Until we can get a handle on the crime and drugs, 100 new schools won’t help. Not an easy task, however. — Schoolmaster

——- 000 ——–

Thanks for Planet’s ‘Watchdog-like Approach to Journalism’

I would like to thank you for your watch dog like approach to journalism as it applies to Pittsfield issues and in particular the Nick Caccamo piece.  Because of your coverage and my exposure from some of your dedicated followers, I was discovered.  The Mayor (TES) offered me the Data Analysis Coordinator position formerly held by Nick Caccamo.  Although the pay level isn’t the 88 to 99K range of the Berkshire Works gig,  he suggested  a $75K range, which would be acceptable.  The challenge of doing something for “the children” and “giving  to something to the community” was just too much for me to resist. The only stipulation was that my sporadic postings of your blog would have to cease.  I will be following the Planet faithfully but not be able to post!! — Officer Joe Bolton

——– 000 ——–

The Empty Suit, Sheriff Cooley: Separated at Birth?

I actually wanted to check it out and see if there was a real resemblance, because there are a handful of people who joke that Bianchi looks like Sheriff Cooley (the metaphorical devil character in Oh Brother Where Art Thou – the Cohen Bros. film loosely based on The Odyssey) when he wears those sort-of creepy sunglasses. — Derek

Sheriff Cooley as Bianchi?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bianchi, in “creepy” sunglasses, as Sheriff Cooley? Mark Miller is seen at right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

——– 000 ——–

‘Generalissimo Has Legs’

The Generalissimo has legs. Another entertaining show. The wimp doesn’t have guts to to come out of his hole to say hello. — Groundhog

——– 000 ——–

Berkshire Works Job Posting Fishy

Regarding the one-week posting for the $86K to $94K Berkshire Works job, I can’t believe that there is such a bald political move… not even cover of posting/interview.

Are there no posting requirements of municipal jobs in Massachusetts?  No Affirmative Action considerations of the announcement?  For a $90,000 a year job, there is aone week posting but for a nurse, the posting went up mid-May to close in mid-June. Ironically, Berkshire Works is supposed to help employers find good workers. Apparently they don’t as a matter of course post jobs in other areas of media. Go figure.

I worked in government at local, regional and statewide levels for 40 years and this is beyond anything I’ve ever experienced.  Ms this a municipality or monarchy?

What makes this so galling is the firing of Barrett, the blatant politcal choice of Monterosso, and now, strike 3 , what is likely to be another an amateur in the field of employment. No wonder Berkshire Works is so reviled by its “consumers.” — I love it… it reminds me of north korea banning outside information… it is almost funny. —I love it… it reminds me of north korea banning outside information… it is almost funny. — Allan Rossi

——— 000 ——–

Tourism Director Appointment ‘Very Confusing’

City has selected Jennifer Glockner to be new Director of Cultural Development as the City said that she has been the City’s Tourism Director in the past. The fact is that the Tourism Commission is run by volunteers and it has never had a paid Director… which is very confusing. In the Bizzaro World of Pittsfield Politics and City of Pittsfield Employment, if a woman with a BA in Journalism and no artistic experience can land a job as the Director of Cultural Development, than why can’t an artist with thirty years of management experience qualify and get a job as the Executive Director of Berkshire Works Career Center…hey… maybe this time around I’ll get an interview.

As George Coztanza says ” just do the opposite!” — Da Kooning

——– 000 ——–

Frieri Compensation ‘A Real Sin’

Pittsfield’s budget has my old friend Ms. Frieri earning 50K. She also makes $6,700 from Dalton, $1,100 from Richmond and an unknown amount from Lenox. Richmond’s website also instructs users to contact her at Pittsfield City Hall. So, she conducts Richmond’s vets business using Pittsfield’s office, phones, heat, light etc. Sadly, she earns more than our very competent city clerk and way more than the very competent assistants in the clerk’s office. That’s the real sin here. — Sinbad

——– 000 ——–

J-Lo Asking for Pay Hikes for Himself, School Committee?

Question? I’m I correct in hearing [Ward 5 councilor] Jonathan Lothrup is asking for the councilor’s as well as School Committee to get raises? After the city resident’s have been getting nothing but increases in taxes by this administration!?! Do they get it? The city youth and the ones they touch at graduation cerimonies LEAVE!!! Nothing for them here, leaving behind an older population with no new business to grow, just assisted living and Arts!  And we aren’t getting raises for the pay increases they pass … but they are?? I’m born and raised here in Pittsfield and I’m paying more while getting less. They work for us! They should do the same.

Thanks for listening to my rant! — Rant Paul

THE PLANET RESPONDS: They funny thing, Rant, is that they DO work for you, that is, We the People. It’s just that most of “you” have left them alone to their deeds, without accountability. Every single time, when The People leave politicians alone, they (The People) get screwed. It’s a fact of life.

——— 000 ——–

‘Not Only a Phony but a Turncoat too’

Did I miss something on the hot dog man?  The last time I talked to Ernie, he said that Bianchi was smart enough to say hello to him and more less go out of his way to greet him, and then he offered his prediction on the next mayor. If this is so, Bianchi is not only a phony but a turn coat too.

——– 000 ——–

‘Bring Health Insurance Premiums in Line with Real World’

If the mayor could bring health insurance premiums in line with the real world, that alone would be worth millions. I say “that alone,” but in all honestly it would be an all-consuming year-long campaign (involving communication skills and charm that he probably lacks) to pull it off. But then, gee, you could say you did something. — Ward Cleavage

THE PLANET RESPONDSWe agree. If the mayor managed to whittle the ruinous 85-15% split down in favor of taxpayers, that alone would be a fine legacy. What are the odds, ladies and gentlemen?

——– 000 ——–

Burlington VT School Budget a Model (and a Lesson) for Pittsfield

Burlington VT school budget. About the same size as Pittsfield. They are proposing a decrease. How does that happen? My best guess is that Burlington’s total budget is about 130 million. They seem to do OK there.

http://district.bsd.schoolfusion.us/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/2383192/File/Budget/4_29_14%20Budget%20Presentation.pdf?sessionid=ffb01e57ba7d38e0e0fc8f19bd1d735c

——– 000 ——–

These represented but a few of the many letters than have come over the transom. We thank all for their participation in the marketplace of ideas.

———————————————————————————-

“She knew how to please me, / She black-eye peas me / Made Elderberry wine.”Elton John, “Elderberry Wine,” from the album, “Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player.”

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

 

51 Responses to “EMPTYING OUT THE MAILBAG … PLANET HEARS FROM ‘THE PEOPLE’ ON A WEALTH OF TOPICS”

  1. Still wondering
    June 25, 2014 at 9:14 am #

    Roseanne Frieri is the Veterans Agent for Lanesboro also. And believe me, she could count the people who are happy with the job she is doing on one hand.

    • Jonathan Melle
      June 25, 2014 at 9:17 am #

      Jack Downing is not a Veteran, yet he runs the homeless shelters in Northampton and Pittsfield for homeless Veterans. Jack Downing gives tens of thousands of dollars per year from his non-profit homeless shelters for Veterans to GE Lobbyist Peter J. Larkin. Jack Downing contributes hundreds of dollars per year to political candidates like John Olver and Richard Neal.

      • Silence Dogood
        June 25, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

        Jack is a hack….a democrat hack

        • levitan
          June 25, 2014 at 8:04 pm #

          Finish it!

    • Hurdygurdy Man
      June 25, 2014 at 11:17 am #

      She is a do-nothing hack in a job that demands a do-something person with a passion not for a paycheck but for veterans care and service.

      How she holds on to her job is beyond me and prob beyond belief.

  2. Jonathan Melle
    June 25, 2014 at 9:15 am #

    From Facebook –
    Mayor Dan Bianchi:
    “I have joined twitter. Follow me @MayorBianchi.”

  3. amandaWell
    June 25, 2014 at 9:15 am #

    On the sunglass…..Krol and Bianchi both wear those 70 retrospecks

    . Not cool at all. Clint Eastwood, yes.

  4. Jonathan Melle
    June 25, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    Dan Valenti for Mayor of Pittsfield in 2015!

    • Jonathan Melle
      June 25, 2014 at 10:16 am #

      Re: My synopsis of Dan Valenti’s blog on Pittsfield politics

      Dan Valenti bitches and moans about Pittsfield politics every weekday on his blog. The following is a synopsis of what Dan Valenti vents about.

      In Pittsfield:
      * Taxes are very high with a weak tax base
      * Tens of thousands of people have left Pittsfield and Berkshire County over the past several decades
      * Pittsfield and Berkshire County is the #1 place in Massachusetts for job loss
      * There are more people on welfare assistance than have private sector jobs
      * Teen pregnancies and welfare caseloads double the statewide average
      * The public school system is overpriced and underperforming
      * Tens of millions of dollars were spent on North Street and the dowtown area is still dead and place to avoid especially after hours
      * Crime, drugs, violence, gangs are real problems
      * The Good Old Boy network runs Pittsfield politics and serves the special interests instead of the common good
      * The Good Old Boys consist of multi-generation, inter-related Pittsfield families that derive from two camps: the Del Gallo political machine and the Wojtkowski political machine (both camps do business under the banner of the Massachusetts Democratic Party)
      * Pittsfield’s finances have many millions of dollars in unfunded liabilities or debts that today’s Pittsfield politicians are not adequately addressing
      * Pittsfield has gone into state receivership before after the Doyle administration debacle and may go the way of insolvency like the Detroit bankruptcy
      * The number one employer in Pittsfield is the City of Pittsfield
      * Thousands of local residents work for the city government and the public school system
      * Many people and entities, such as the labor unions, depend on the system and control the Pittsfield politicians
      * After the public payroll patriots, non-profits, such as the Hospital, depend on taxpayer dollars and employ thousands more Pittsfield residents
      * The above vested interests make Pittsfield unaffordable to the little guy (the “Kapanski” family) who is not politically connected to get a city, school, or non-profit job
      * Pittsfield needs new Pittsfield politicians who will take on the special interests to regain control of city finances
      * PCBs left behind by GE have polluted Pittsfield’s air, water, and ground
      * Thousands upon thousands of Pittsfield residents have suffered through and died of cancer caused by Pittsfield’s toxic waste PCBs
      * GE left Pittsfield behind for Wall Street
      —–
      According to Dan Valenti, all of Pittsfield’s problems are the fault of one man named Dan Bianchi, who is the sitting Mayor of Pittsfield. Dan Valenti wants the people to vote out Mayor Dan Bianchi in 2015.

      • EddieP
        June 25, 2014 at 11:33 am #

        Jon..you ran that one before. How about some new material. In order for you to do that, you have to live here. Drink the polluted water, breath the foul air and drive our cratered roads. We read you every day, nothing new here.

        • Jonathan Melle
          June 25, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

          True, I ran my synopsis column a couple of times before on Dan Valenti’s blog. But, Pittsfield politics will never change! It will take a miracle worker to change Pittsfield for the better. Good luck with that!

          • levitan
            June 25, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

            Sounds like you ran into a brick wall. You need a new passion than bashing a small city from which you escaped. You’re smart enough, you’re good looking enough, and doggone it people like you.

            I envy you, and I don’t since I consider my corner of turf to be sovereign territory. I molded it to how I like it, and no one dares to touch it.

          • EddieP
            June 25, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

            Yeah..we know. We live here…

    • #nomorebianchi
      June 25, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

      He would have to move to Pittsfield and he’s a stockbridge snob so there is no chance of him leaving that stuck up town

  5. Jonathan Melle
    June 25, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    Charles Garivaltis for Mayor of Pittsfield in 2015!

    • chuck garivaltis
      June 25, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

      Jonathon, not me, but if Dan Valenti moves back to Pittsfield he is my guy.

      • DowagerHat
        June 25, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

        Interesting. Who, Who, Who. A BARRED OWL.

  6. Jonathan Melle
    June 25, 2014 at 9:30 am #

    I saw Jack Welch swimming in Silver Lake today.

    • Jonathan Melle
      June 25, 2014 at 10:06 am #

      Jack Welch had 3 Teo’s hot dogs and a mug of cold beer after his swim in Silver Lake. Jack Welch is loading up on PCBs.

      • Jonathan Melle
        June 25, 2014 at 10:18 am #

        News Alert!
        PEDA has recruited a Fortune 500 corporation to its capped business park.
        Just kidding!

        • Jonathan Melle
          June 25, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

          News Alert!

          Jack Welch named the new CEO of PEDA!

          Just kidding!

      • Silence Dogood
        June 25, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

        Join us for a cruise on beautiful Silver Lake cruise lines….we will be serving dinner consisting of delicious food from the newist Dunkin Donuts

        • Dave
          June 25, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

          The newEst Dunkin Donuts was brought about by private dollars- an investment in Pittsfield that has been lacking! Sorry it doesn’t meet your uppity criteria for what should be so close to our precious downtown(and by the way the plans include space for other businesses)
          Was that building as “historic” when the city sold it years back? Pittsfield should have lost it’s say in what happened to that building when they sold it. But wait, let’s use a Historical designation upteen years after the sale to delay a private company who bought it from exercising their right to demolish it, oh and wait let’s deny them a reasonable request for a drive through that will actually help traffic flow(oh wait we thought that if we denied it they wouldn’t go through with their ” threat”(city councilperson’s words) to build anyway. Imagine everyone who wants a DD coffee know will have to park, get out, wait in line, get back in their car, and leave before someone else can take their parking spot and do the same, yeah that won’t keep people from waiting in the street to get in. That is as smart as the post office blocking the stairs on Willis St, because now people will wait 3 deep on Fenn street instead of parking and walking all the way around!
          I personally hope that the rubble from MY old elementary school stays just like it is now, for six months, to make a statement. How cool would that be that when they the Gov comes to see the finished Common, the rubble from private investment spurned and delayed was in the background.

  7. nostrodumbass
    June 25, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    Dan,

    When Christ walked among the people he skillfully used words. Large crowds of people gathered to hear him. One in the crowd said, “never has any man spoken like this” “this is the son of the carpenter is it not?” “the crowds were astounded at his way of teaching”.

    He stood up to “The Suits” of his day on the side of truth. They were so enraged, they had him executed publicly.

    Another man who stood on the side of truth and stood up to “The Suits” of his day was John Lennon.
    Drawing on his own life experiences, he had the unique ability of use common words and set them to music in such a way as to pierce and melt right into the heart and soul of a man. The people resonated with his lyrics and found much relevance in their own lives.

    His work was on par with that of Mozart, Shakespeare, Beethoven, and Rembrandt.
    All the while maintaining the persona of a normal man.

    He was so famous that it was difficult for him to walk the streets as a common man. He came up with idea to wear a bag over his entire body. Went out on the streets of New York and handing out flowers and talking to people.
    Once asked, “who are you?” while in the bag, he said it was “total communication”. You could not tell if he was while, black, yellow, red or green. Instead you had to listen to what he was saying with an open mind.
    The sheer genius of it was wasted on his critics, it was very intellectual.
    Dan, I know you get it.

    You think along those same lines. Generalissimo reminds me of that same line of thinking.

    When Lennon got married, he knew that it would make the headlines. So, he said he might as well also get the word Peace in there along with it. He said if it gets the message of Peace out there, “we are willing to be the world’s clowns”.

    I find it refreshing to see you using the web and TV as a means of relating to the people on the side of truth. Your skillful use of words resonates with the people. It also infuriates “The Suits”.

    http://www.planetvalenti.com is making a difference.

    • Silence Dogood
      June 25, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

      notice that Jesus did not walk on the waters of Silver Lake

    • Albert Prince
      June 25, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

      I would put DV in that same class ,nostrodumbass (love the name!) Dans critics can’t follow him, he’s too fast and his mind works on too many levels.And anything that ‘infuritates the Suits’ is fine by me

  8. levitan
    June 25, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    The letter from Chuck G is enough to make one want to pull his eyes out. How could past admins have sat those warnings out.

    Thanks for the mail, DV – good stuff.

  9. Scott
    June 25, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    Interesting on te gang/ drug activity. I grew up in the 90′s downtown. It wasn’t rare to see DT’s raiding a crack house early mornings or mid afternoon controlled buy busts. I remember thinking how stupid Latin kings and other gangs were and telling my friends that got involved it was corny. That was late 90′s fast forward to 2003 and then to 2014 you’d have to be an idiot to not see it’s gotten progressively worse. Maybe it’s time to start effecting change on our social issues as opposed to more laws that do nothing but make the drug trade more violent and lucrative. Remember the big brother program. These young guys have plenty of brother they need strong male role models.

    • joetaxpayer
      June 25, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

      It is to bad that these young men have no one to give them a little leather love, a boot in the ass and a belt in the mouth.

      • Scott
        June 25, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

        It is. I think about it every time my son talks back to his mom and I intervene. A lack of a father figure is a major issue. It’s sad really.

  10. Scott
    June 25, 2014 at 11:06 am #

    I was wondering how story time wit duh mayor went I frequent the market on Saturdays and fortunately I missed story time. Dan, insinuating the mayor abuses children is going over the line. Other than that good entry.

    • Hurdygurdy Man
      June 25, 2014 at 11:20 am #

      Well I for one found the caption funny. It could be considered a form of child exploitation to have to listen to this guy. Thats one meaning of abuse, to exploit and take advantage of .

      Politics politics all is politics and in this city the politics are abusive.

  11. Nota
    June 25, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

    Anyone check out the recent P e d a meeting. T E S is still clamoring about the Albany Area opportunities. Pretty sad considering were into our umpteenth year over at this useless sight. one year at a time. Cory should be ready to retire pretty soon,heh.

  12. Pat
    June 25, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

    Many of the people earning the high salaries in this area probably don’t even live in Pittsfield or they live in an area far from the major crime. This is why they could care less about it.

    • C.J.
      June 25, 2014 at 3:20 pm #

      Most of them work for the City of Pittsfield and accordingly aren’t impacted by tax increases or even the actual condition of Pittsfield as they commute to their homes outside of the city or outside of Massachusetts even.
      Dan, THIS IS A CHALLENGE TO THE PLANET !!!….Find out and make public the number of City of Pittsfield employees that reside outside of the Pittsfield city limits: Include ALL city employees, in All depts, including public safety, city hall, school system, etc,etc. And why these positions were unable to be filled by qualified city residents ?
      Noto: PEDA’s CEO is a Williamstown resident, Why should he retire ?

  13. levitan
    June 25, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

    Response to DaKooning.

    No one in their right wits wants an artist suffering from advanced alzheimers and having trouble getting the paint to stay on his canvas to run a marketing department.

    Best bet is to dispose of it and push the resources to forcing gangsters out of town. It shouldn’t take an MFA to figure out how to make it very costly to conduct a life of crime in Pittsfield.

  14. PopKornSutton
    June 25, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    We are doomed’ North street looks like downtown Bagdag.

    • Silence Dogood
      June 25, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

      but we have bagdad dan not badag bob

      • Jonathan Melle
        June 25, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

        Keep it classy, Pittsfield!

        News Article:

        “Three people robbed, one at knifepoint, over the weekend in Pittsfield”
        By Andrew Amelinckx, Berkshire Eagle Staff, 6/25/2014

        PITTSFIELD — Police are investigating three reported robberies, including one that left a victim with lacerations.

        The three separate robberies took place between midnight Friday and 11 p.m. Sunday, police said.

        Around midnight on Friday, a 21-year-old Adams man leaving a nearby bar was robbed by two men in the area of South Street and Park Square. The man told police the two men punched him and knocked him to the ground, stole a small amount of cash from him, and damaged the front tire of his bicycle.

        The victim apparently slept outside and came to the police station early Saturday morning to report the crime.

        The men are described as a white male, approximately 5-feet tall, who was on foot, and a black male, about 5-foot-8 who was on a bicycle.

        On Saturday night, a 45-year-old Pittsfield man was treated at Berkshire Medical Center for lacerations to his forehead, cheek and arms. He told police he was walking on Onota Street near West Union Street just after 10 p.m. when he was approached by two teens. A knife was put to his throat and the pair demanded his money. After they got his money and had taken the knife from his throat, the man fought back and was cut several times during the ensuing struggle, police said.

        The first suspect in that case is described as a tall, thin dark-skinned black male wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt. The other suspect was described as a light-skinned black male.

        Sometime between 10 and 11 p.m. Sunday, a 60-year-old woman walking on Melville Street had her purse snatched from her shoulder by a suspect described as a young black male, about 5-foot-6, wearing a hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled up.

        The woman told police she had been at the Cumberland Farms on First Street just before the robbery.

        Pittsfield Police Detective Captain Patrick F. Barry said it was still too early to say whether these crimes are linked. All three continue to be under investigation.

        Anyone who may have witnessed the crimes or has information concerning them is urged to call police at (413)448-9700.

        http://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/ci_26032479/three-people-robbed-one-at-knifepoint-over-weekend

  15. AA
    June 25, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

    I blame the Arts for the attraction to seedy character’s that traverse downtown, and Tom!

  16. amandaWell
    June 25, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

    I think that’s Baghdad,boys!

  17. Jonathan Melle
    June 25, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

    NEWS ARTICLE:

    “Pittsfield Council Approves Budget, Shoots Down Capital Projects; North Adams Passes Budget”
    By Jim Levulis, WAMC public radio, June 25, 2014

    The Pittsfield City Council approved a $141 million budget for 2015, but is not seeing eye-to-eye with Mayor Dan Bianchi on capital investments.

    The council approved the municipal budget by a vote of 9-2 with many expressing concern about not enough investment in public safety. The budget includes funding for two police officer hires for downtown walking patrols, although Police Chief Michael Wynn requested five. Councilors Lisa Tully and Kevin Morandi voted no, citing the 5 percent tax increase for residents and businesses needed to support the $4.1 million budget hike.

    “Maybe we should be looking at cutting some things and consolidating some things,” Morandi said. “But I haven’t seen that done here. So I think it would be a good time to start maybe looking out a little more for what we can really afford in this city.”

    The council had until the end of June to pass a new budget, which has been worked out in meetings over the past several months. Morandi asked Bianchi what would happen if the council sent it back to the mayor, who would’ve had to call a special meeting before July 1.

    “So this could be not approved tonight and sent back to you,” said Morandi.

    “Well it could be, but you shouldn’t do it because it would be irresponsible unless you offered some recommendations for cuts which you haven’t done to this point,” replied Bianchi.

    However, the mayor’s $9.5 million capital budget failed to get the necessary two-thirds vote. The council had suggested a $7.5 million plan. Councilors Jonathan Lothrop, Barry Clairmont, John Krol and Morandi opposed borrowing the money that would fund improvements, which Bianchi read to the council.

    “Sidewalk repairs at the schools won’t happen,” Bianchi said. “The bleacher replacement at Pittsfield High School won’t happen. A number of other things won’t happen as well. I can go on if you’d like.”

    The sticking point for those refusing to pass the capital spending plan was that it did not designate money to buy a new fire engine, requested by the fire department. Councilor Krol voted to send the plan back to the mayor.

    “Clearly everyone here wants a fire engine, so let’s get it in the capital budget,” said Krol.

    Bianchi proposed five SUVs also requested by the fire department to respond to 3,800 yearly medical calls instead of sending engines, according to the mayor. Those were removed from the plan at the council’s request. Those who voted to approve the capital measures, such as Councilor Kathleen Amuso, said they want to see a new fire engine and believe Bianchi can make it happen in the future.

    “He did take out the five emergency vehicles,” Amuso said.

    “Which I didn’t agree with,” Bianchi chimed in.

    “I know you didn’t,” responded Amuso.

    “But this is a compromise,” Bianchi said. “And I thought we were working together on this, but if you want to play this out, feel free councilors.”

    “But I do think it could come to us before the beginning of next year’s budget,” Amuso said. “I’m voting for this because I don’t want to put the other items on hold.”

    The city has about $2 million in state aid and money from last year’s capital budget for roadwork, according to Public Works Commissioner Bruce Collingwood. Councilor Lothrop, who voted no on the current capital plan, says the fire truck, at a cost of roughly a half a million dollars, could easily be added since the original proposed spending plan was near $11 million.

    “Frankly our next council meeting is only in two weeks and it would be hard pressed to understand where any of these projects would be negatively affected for two weeks,” said Lothrop.

    Councilor Anthony Simonelli voted to approve the capital plan.

    “I don’t think it’s just a fire truck that’s the issue and if it is I think one issue is questionable in my mind even though I think a fire truck is needed,” Simonelli said. “I would strongly suggest that anyone who voted against it set up an appointment and meet with the mayor and discuss it so that it can get aired out. Time is of the essence here.”

    Mayor Bianchi says he plans to include money for a fire engine in next year’s operating budget. After the meeting, the mayor said he is seriously considering whether to submit an altered capital spending plan to the council at its next meeting July 8th.

    “We may not get to attend to some of those projects,” Bianchi said. “But, that’s yet to be seen.”

    The council could also reconsider its vote. Meanwhile, the North Adams City Council approved a $37.7 million budget. That’s an increase of $1.2 million, but takes nearly 20 people off the payroll across city and school departments. It includes $600,000 in cuts and a revenue package that increases water and sewer rates by 10 percent.

    Link:
    http://wamc.org/post/pittsfield-council-approves-budget-shoots-down-capital-projects-north-adams-passes-budget

    Pittsfield’s municipal budget:
    http://www.cityofpittsfield.org/city_hall/fy2015_city_budget.php

    • Jonathan Melle
      June 25, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

      NEWS ARTICLE:

      “Pittsfield Council Passes 2015 Budget Minus Capital Plan”
      By Joe Durwin, Pittsfield Correspondent, iBerkshires.com – June 24, 2014

      PITTSFIELD, Massachusetts — By a 9-2 vote on Tuesday, the City Council approved the $141.2 million budget proposed by Mayor Daniel Bianchi for the coming fiscal year.

      Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi and Ward 1 Councilor Lisa Tully voted against the FY15 budget, which represents a $4.1 million increase over the previous year. Both councilors cited the increase as too much of a tax burden on lower-income homeowners and local business.

      “Over half of my constituents are over 65,” said Tully. “I’m getting emails, I’m getting phone calls, begging me to support them.

      “We’re not increasing our tax base, so that’s being passed on to the residential taxpayers of Pittsfield,” said Morandi, also voicing concerns about the requisite tax rate increase that will follow from this budget at the end of the calendar year. “Now is the time to send a message, not in December.”

      Bianchi said that for the council to vote down the budget at this juncture would be “irresponsible, unless you offer some recommendations for cuts, which you haven’t done to this point.”

      “I have to agree with the mayor on this,” said Councilor Barry Clairmont. “The time to suggest cuts is during the budget hearings. Talking about it now, having not proposed any cuts, to me that’s just sort of lip service.”

      Other councilors voted to approve the operating budget despite reservations with some aspects.

      Councilors Jonathan Lothrop and John Krol voiced disappointment that more positions were not budgeted in the police and fire departments, saying public safety was a major concern of residents

      Councilor Kathy Amuso felt that more could be done to fine-tune expenditures and reduce spending through more rigorous reorganization.

      “I think we need to start doing things differently,” said Amuso.

      While the main budget passed, the proposed $7.5 million Capital Improvement Program received only seven votes, one less than the two-thirds majority required, with Clairmont, Lothrop, Krol, Morandi voting in opposition.

      While several compromises were brokered between the council and mayor in a previous hearing earlier this month, continued disagreement centered around the purchase of a new fire engine, which though supported by a majority of the council did not make it into the list of capital expenses.

      Bianchi said the purchase is planned for next year, expressing the opinion that the current vehicle capacity is “adequate.”

      “We’d love to be able to have everything that we ask for, but it’s just not possible,” said Bianchi.

      Councilor Anthony Simonelli expressed concern about the failure to pass the capital plan, suggesting that the councilors who voted in opposition should arrange to meet with the mayor soon in order to negotiate their concerns. Others, however, suggested that this is not an immediate necessity to pass the capital project plan, and the city will not suffer by waiting until the council’s next meeting in two weeks.

      “It’s hard for me to see where a delay of a couple of weeks is a major problem,” said Lothrop.

      “I haven’t heard anyone [on the council] that says they don’t want the fire truck,” agreed Krol. “My suggestion is, if it’s a priority for you, then we make that recommendation, and strongly say that to the mayor.”

      http://www.iberkshires.com/story/46821/Pittsfield-Council-Passes-2015-Budget-Minus-Capital-Plan.html

      • Albert Prince
        June 25, 2014 at 6:29 pm #

        Thank you councilors Tully and Morandi for sticking up for taxpayers. Wish you were my councilor. Bianchi is a disaster not waiting to happen cuz its already happenging

        • Albert Prince
          June 25, 2014 at 6:29 pm #

          sorry for spelling getting used to new mobile device

  18. Silence Dogood
    June 25, 2014 at 6:07 pm #

    or bagdad bianchi

  19. Jonathan Melle
    June 25, 2014 at 6:55 pm #

    BAD Economics and Financial Management by Pittsfield Mayor Dan BIanchi –
    Pittsfield’s tax base is shrinking with thousands of people leaving the area, businesses closing, and job losses.
    Dan Bianchi’s answer is to raise municipal taxes by about 5 percent via a $4.1 million increase over the previous year’s municipal budget for a total of $141.2 million, plus a pending $7.5 – $9.5 million proposed capital budget.
    May I say future finanical insolvency and then bankruptcy for Pittsfield politics?
    That is about a total of $150 million for Pittsfield’s collective municipal budget for Fiscal Year 2015,
    There is no way to pay for it!

    • Pat
      June 25, 2014 at 7:43 pm #

      No money except for pay raises for the mayor and his city managers.

      • Jonathan Melle
        June 25, 2014 at 7:49 pm #

        Even Dan Bianchi works 2 jobs! He deserves a 40 percent pay raise in 2016.when he wins a 3rd term as Mayor of Pittsfield. By then, Pittsfield’s taxes will be at a record high.

      • joetaxpayer
        June 26, 2014 at 3:22 am #

        It’s amazing how Mayor Dan can squeeze 2 hours work into a 8 hour day.

  20. Giacometti
    June 25, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

    Jonathan Melle seems to have a lot of time on his hands…how could someone who left the City of Pittsfield have so much concern for what happens in Pittsfield ?

    Perhaps when he retires from his job in New Hampshire
    he will move back to Pittsfield to work for the kind of change
    he feels so strongly that Pittsfield needs.

    We need you here young man.