DeANGELO RESPONSE RAISES MORE QUESTIONS THAN IT ANSWERS … LETTER PROVIDES GREAT EXAMPLE OF BIANCHI ADMINISTRATION’S LACK OF TRANSPARENCY
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEEKEND EDITION, JULY 18-20, 2014) — Mid-July in The Berkshires, when the air is sweet, the brooks are babbling, and tourists of the more obnoxious sort think everyone else is deaf, dumb, and blind. You know the type. Just because they bought their daughter Capezio shoes for her dance lessons, they are experts in the Arts. OH, and the little girl is also a genius, don’t you know.
When these hordes descend in July and August, THE PLANET zips into THE FORTRESS and zones out all the rest.
It works out well for us, although we wonder whether the politicians can admit that while a “recreation and resort economy” can provide fine augmentation to a true economy (built on manufacturing, high-tech, and white-collar service jobs), it fails when it has to pull all the cash-genearting load by its lonesome, low-paying self.
Politicians and public officials, though, rarely admit to their mistakes. They simply raise taxes to cover up their sins.
Speaking of public officials, THE PLANET shares the response we received from Pittsfield personnel director John DeAngelo, a.k.a. “The Sheffield Shuffler,” based on our request to see how many Pittsfield department heads, managers, and exempts actually live in Pittsfield. It was a straightforward request … so we thought.
First we will present DeAngelo’s letter. Then we will provide our commentary:
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OFFICIAL LETTERHEAD OF THE PITTSFIELD DEPARTMENT OF PERSONNEL
July 7, 2014
Mr. Daniel Valenti
Re: Public Records Request
Dear Mr. Valenti:
Please know that this office is writing to you in response to your public records request to M.G.L. c. 66, sec. 10. In your letter you request a “copy of the home addresses of all city department heads, managers[,] and exempt personnel.” [NOTE: THE PLANET always inserts the serial comma].
Pleased be advised that there is no such document in existence addressing the information you have requested, and please be advised further that the above referenced statute does not require the City of Pittsfield to create such a list. Also, even if such a list existed, Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 4, Section 7, cl. 26 paragraph (o) exempts the City from such disclosure.
To be more specific, the City is exempted from disclosing:
“the home addresses and home telephone number of an employee of the judicial branch, an unelected employee of the general court, an agency, exeutive office, department, board, commission, bureau, division or authority of the commonwealth, or of a political subdivision thereof or of an authority established by the general court [the Legislature] to serve a public purpose, in the custody of a government agency which maintains records identifying persons as falling within those categories; provided that the information may be disclosed to an employee organization under chapter 15oE, a nonprofit organization for retired public employees under chapter 180, or a criminal justice agency as defined in section 167 of chapter 6”. (emphasis added)
In the event that you disagree with the action taken herein, please be advised that you may seek redress through the administrative process provided by the Office of the Supervisor of Public Records.
Very Truly Yours,
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* The first point to raise is “damn straight” that we shall “seek redress.”
* Damn straight that we “disagree with the action taken herein.” Before we go to the state, however, there are local avenues to pursue, the exact nature of which shall remain internal for the moment.
* DeAngelo’s assertion that such a list doesn’t exist is preposterous, of course, given that the city HR department, personnel department, and the office of the treasurer must have the current addresses of all employees. The database is there. That is certain. So did DeAngelo lie? Technically, likely not. The list of all employee addresses outside of Pittsfield may not exist, but in two or three keystrokes from a computer keyboard, the list magically comes into being. “It’s moving … it’s alive it’s alive!!”
* That would explain DeAngelo’s comment that “even if such a list existed” the city doesn’t have to provide it. Is that so? We shall see.
* THE PLANET points out that in our many dealings over the years with unimaginative bureaucrats, of which DeAngelo serves as a fine representative, we often have to read in between the lines of such CYS letters. This type of public service, in the end, has as his or her ultimate defense, “I was only following orders.”
* The city does indeed have the right, and the duty, to withhold addresses of employees “of the judicial branch.” THE PLANET has no quarrel with that. It would include police officers and any employees of the courts, and we should have made it clear in our initial request we weren’t looking for those. By not specifying, we likely gave DeAngelo the technical grounds for his non-compliance.
* Another common trick of the bureaucracy in trying to keep We The People‘s business hidden is to tell you that so-and-so law, followed by an exact citation, “does not require” compliance. And that generally will be the case. However, The Suits usually fail to mention other provisions of the law (local, state, and federal) that will trump the passages they cite. THE PLANET’s researchers are looking into this.
* Notice the bold face highlighted words inserted by DeAngelo. They rest upon the question: Is the city of Pittsfield “a political subdivision thereof” of the state? The city is incorporated and chartered by the state. THE PLANET contends, however, that it is not a “political subdivision.” As a state-chartered corporation, We The People are the owners of government at all levels. “We” own the largest number of shares. We remind DeAngelo that We The People cannot, by the constitutional powers extended by the federal government, be considered “a political subdivision” of the state. Initial legal advice tells us that our interpretation is correct and could win in court, all things being equal (quite an important provision, that).
* It’s funny, actually, the way the city has handled this simple, straightforward request, as if THE PLANET is both Julian Assange and Edward Snowden rolled into one and “They” are the NSA. Makes you wonder what, if anything, they are trying to hide? Hmmmm? D’ya think?
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THE PLANET has our operatives researching other more exotic (but perhaps more legally relevant) aspects of this denial of our simple request. We shall keep those to ourselves for the moment. Be sure, however, that, unlike the mayor of Pittsfield and his scared-to-death hostages who nominally are public employees (Bianchi seems to think they are recruits in his private army, sworn to undying loyalty to HIM first, The People de damned), THE PLANET shall share the developments in this story as they occur.
Meantime, as Plan 9, we have the state Office of the Supervisor of Public Records on speed dial.
This may get interesting, because THE PLANET, speaking out for the bedraggled citizens and taxpayers of Pittsfield, should like to know how many of the most highly paid city workers actually live in the town the profess to love.
Have a great weekend, everybody. And if you run into “tourists,” please, feel free run them down. Tell them THE PLANET sent you.
“Art both predicts and reflects. / The first is cause, the second effect.” — Dan Valenti, (2014).
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.