Article

TES’ PROPOSED DEAL ON 100 N. ST. MAKES NO SENSE EXCEPT AS A ‘SWEETHEART DEAL’ for SCARAFONI ASSOC. & GLOBAL… PLANET HAS EXCLUSIVE DETAILS OF THE RFP

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY-THURSDAY, JULY 30-31, 2014) — Mayor Dan Bianchi‘s proposal to move 40% of the city hall offices to 100 North Street “really sucks the big one,” as THE PLANET‘s resident theater critic Leonard Pinth Garnell might put it.

THE PLANET has obtained more information on the proposed move. You will recall, TES wants to relocate 40% of city hall to 100 North St., where, by wild coincidence —

From right, Sheriff Tom Bowler; officer on Mr. Ed; officer on Trigger; and a horse’s —. (Photo from Dan Bianchi’s Facebook page)

— He already has office space for his job with Larry Global Mondello, a.k.a., Global Mondello.

— It’s a building rep’d a man sources call one of Bianchi’s buddies, real estate agent and downtown “player,” Dave Carver of  corporate downtown “player” Scarafoni Associates.

— Carver is brother-in-law of SA principal Gary Scarafoni.

— Scarafoni is the agent of record for the Clock Tower building, home of The Boring Broadsheet.

The BB publishes a white-washed version of the “100gate” to try to contain the damage after THE PLANET’s exclusive that brings the erstwhile secret plan into daylight. There it might actually get some debate and push-back.

— The mayor said he “found” the $126,000 to pay for the year-one lease. Presto! Out of thin air, he “finds” $126K when there’s little money for anything other than pay raises for himself, department heads, and school department employees.

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Out of the Mysterious ‘TFII Box’

Here’s the punch line: Bianchi and his loyalitsts might be the only ones who don’t know that, politically, the mayor is sinking to the bottom, an UnTitanic that has just met its iceberg.

The proposed deal for 100 North Street appears to have been in the works before the RFP went out. THE PLANET is working on that and other angles to this fairy tale, which, temporarily, at least, we have   have lifted it out of  the TFII Box.

TFII is for “The Fix Is In.” In the TFII Box, you will find otherwise deliberative items that, because of inside backing, totally ignore due process — for example, Bianchi’s appointment of Julia Sabourin as his administrative aide or the naming of William Monterosso as director of Berkshire Works in January.

One observation can be safely made this far into “100gate.” While the mayor may be able to get this done by end-running the council, he’s damaged himself politically, perhaps fatally. Any city councilor who defends this move when the time comes shall be signing their own political death warrant, especially as far as higher office is concerned.

Let us be more specific. Any councilor with mayoral intentions for 2015 will create a millstone to be worn publicly around the neck during next year’s campaign. Supporters seeking re-election will also have a much tougher time. Both politically and policy-wise, the correct position on “100gate” is opposition.

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Details from, Observations on the RFP

The RFP (request for proposals) is formally titled: “Acquisition of Lease Space for Inspectional Services Department, Estimated Cost $300,000.”

The first question: “What is the “Inspectional Services Department?” Another of Bianchi’s fictions? The city’s one-stop-shopping for Monopoly Money kickbacks from unnecessary contracts awarded to “inside” bidders? We can only assume it refers to the permitting process.

The second question: “$300 thousand dollars?” THE PLANET would guess it refers to the $126,000 cost for the first year, with two options years, respectively, of $117,000 and $108,000. That totals $351,000. The $51,000 of discrepancy is no problem. If the mayor can “find” $126,000, it ought to be 40.47% easier to find $51K.

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Permit, now,  the following observations:

(1) The ad for the RFP was published in The Boring Broadsheet (where else?) on April 23 and 30. If you want to make sure as few people as possible know about an RFP, The BB is the place to publish it. You would never run it for a week or more in multiple media outlets. You would also never directly contact downtown landlords with the invitation to submit bids. Why? Keeping the RFP under the radar was part of this plan, it appears, so that the Chosen One (Scarafoni Assoc.) would have smooth sailing. Sources say Scarafoni Associate’s bid was the only one the city received.

(2) The request for bids includes this ironic line: “Attention is called to the ‘Equal Opportunity Clause’ and the standard Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Construction contract specifications.” Just a guess, but THE PLANET wonders if that boilerplate language is the absolution that keeps the city lily white, since it appears that TES seems to have a problem with minorities and people of color.

(3) The RFP calls for a minimum of 9,000 sq. ft., on a single floor, located “within two blocks of City Hall”  with a July occupancy date. July has passed, but two conditions prevail to make sure 100 North Street would be the only suitable building, with other downtown landlords shut out of “equal opportunity.” 100 North Street is probably 40 feet away from city hall. Sources say suitable space on the second floor of 100 North fitting the RFP specs was already gutted and ready to be customized in March.

(4) The mayor and his cronies can talk all they want about streamlining permitting, but the only pragmatic reason for “100gate” we see is the added personal convenience for a businessman and private citizen named “Dan Bianchi,” whose Global Montello Group Corp. business card bears the title “Manager: Natural Gas, Electricity, Fuel Oil.” If 40% of Allen Street moves to 100 North St., the mayor would have plenty of excuses to be in the building, go one floor up to Suite 301, and work for Global.

(5) Does Global’s “Dan Bianchi” do any business with the city of Pittsfield, any city or county-based clients (for example, gas station chains), or Scarafoni Associates holdings? Does it sell gas, electricity, or fuel oil to any clients posing a direct conflict of interest to mayor Dan Bianchi?

(6) The RFP states, “No charges for Federal, State, or Municipal sales or excise taxes will be allowed. The City of Pittsfield is exempt from these taxes.” Yeah, but the city of Pittsfield has no problem gouging out the eyeballs of its bedraggled taxpayers.

(7) Dig this example of  prose: “No security deposit shall be requirements [sic]. If you’re going to screw citizens, TES, at least be grammatical about it.

(8) The RFP calls for two reception areas, 15 administrative offices, five areas for cubicles, a utility room, a conference room, a computer lab, a kitchen, and restrooms, something more easily achieved with a reconfiguration of existing space within city hall.

(9) The mayor’s capital budget contains $100,000 for permitting software. Other communities, some much larger than Pittsfield, rely on this advanced software and not physical arrangement of space to ease permitting. Why can’t Pittsfield?

(10) All affected departments mentioned by the mayor are presently under one roof in city hall. Only the fire inspectors are not at 70 Allen St. Surely there is room there for one more office. That would put all the offices under one roof. Rent Free. “100gate” would divide city hall into two buildings and add $126,000 to the taxpayers’ burden in the first year.

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The mayor has not made a case for this move. Chip in your two cents. Contact the mayor’s office and your city councilors. Speak up. Take back your government.

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“Incidentally, there will be some changes made.”The Bee Gees, from the album Horizontal, 1964.

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

41 Responses to “TES’ PROPOSED DEAL ON 100 N. ST. MAKES NO SENSE EXCEPT AS A ‘SWEETHEART DEAL’ for SCARAFONI ASSOC. & GLOBAL… PLANET HAS EXCLUSIVE DETAILS OF THE RFP”

  1. dusty
    July 31, 2014 at 2:07 am #

    Thank you Dan for shining some light on what goes on behind the curtains of city hall. Lord knows what else happens in the shadows of city politics. These people know that the ethics committee in Boston is going to cover for them so they run amuck.

  2. Scott
    July 31, 2014 at 3:27 am #

    I wonder if radon is the real reason for the move. A few years ago I had to walk a couple flights of stairs to get a permit for my fireplace insert. Two flights of freak’n stairs and ten minutes of paperwork and a month wait to have some jacka*** come make sure my couch was three feet from the stove. I asked aren’t you going to check the connection ? “No we don’t do that” wow good thing govt is keeping us safe. But the basement had radon reduction going on at the time.

    • dusty
      July 31, 2014 at 12:08 pm #

      Scott that reminds me a few years ago I had a chimney liner put in. It took forever to have the city inspector come to sign off on it and when he did he just looked at it from the outside…from the ground no less. I asked if he did not want to go into the cellar and see the connection and he said no.

      So all he really knew was that there was something shiny on top of my chimney and the city got their money. What a joke. That inspection deal is a lot like cops at construction sites. Just another way to get taxpayer money.

      • Scott
        July 31, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

        What a joke.

  3. Ron Kitterman
    July 31, 2014 at 3:40 am #

    I’m just glad Bianchi kept his campaign promise on transparency.

  4. Davy Jones
    July 31, 2014 at 4:20 am #

    I propose that we move the city council chambers to the Colonial Theater. Whoever designed that upper room at city hall needs to be on anti-depressants.

    The city could just rent the Colonial Theater and set up once a month for less than $500,000.00 a year. They could charge the people to view from the much more comfortable seats. Balcony seats much higher in costs.

    Each council meeting could start with jugglers and clowns instead of the pledge of allegiance to the flag.

    The upper room at city hall can be used for storage.

    “Those in the cheaper seats can clap and those in upper balcony seat can rattle their jewelry.”

    Madame President can jump through a hoop of real fire to adjourn the meetings. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.

    • dusty
      July 31, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

      Well they do serve booze there. Oh never mind Gerry is not on the council anymore.

      Neither one of them

  5. GeoSims
    July 31, 2014 at 4:27 am #

    Where you going to park to go get all your permits?

  6. Tito
    July 31, 2014 at 4:35 am #

    Enlarge the picture of the mayor and check out the cigarette butt in front of the sheriff and the buildup of curb water? Can’t the mayor get some Existing Funds to take care of street clean up. I believe the horse on the right of the picture is entered at Saratoga today.

    • Dave
      July 31, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

      Yeah, a cigarette butt and some water in the street, that’s the problem. Tito for Mayor!!! I would say you were off topic but that’s your line.

  7. Davy Jones
    July 31, 2014 at 5:21 am #

    Dan, good job of putting all these pieces together.

    Can you imagine Bianchi’s reaction when the city council rejected his original bid? To then pull $126,000 of taxpayer’s money out of thin air and use it without council approval is beyond belief.
    This combined with the fact that this second floor of 100 north street was already gutted and waiting for the city money seems to call for a State ethics commission investigation.

    Once these offices get moved, Scarafoni will get rent forever as its doubtful the offices will ever be moved out. This results in a permanent tax increase for the taxpayers of Pittsfield. The offices will remain there until the city file bankruptcy.

    Also, there seems to be no hour requirements in Mayor’s office. Its seems like a conflict of interest to even have a another job. When he is “out of his office” but needed as Mayor and is over at his other job at Global Mondello – in my opinion – that’s a conflict of interest. I seriously doubt he puts in a 9-5 daytime workday as Mayor then at spends the evening at Mondello. Every hour spent during the day at Mondello is time that should be deducted from his pay as Mayor.

    Working people usually have to punch a time-clock or record their hours and only get paid for the hours they work. Even salaried jobs have minimal hour requirements.

  8. Mike Ward
    July 31, 2014 at 5:24 am #

    I have a lot of questions about this and I already contacted my councilor. If the proposed space is a one-stop-shop for contractors why does proximity to city hall matter? Wouldn’t parking be a better requirement?
    I agree that the current permit system is cumbersome – especially for low impact park events – but I’m not convinced that this is the best or most cost effective remedy.

    • donna walto
      July 31, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

      Thank you Mike Ward.

  9. BOC
    July 31, 2014 at 5:33 am #

    If a decision such as moving offices to 100 North fails to make sense, and has no logic or reason to it, you can rest assured there is an ulterior motive behind it. To this mayoral administration transparency = hidden agenda.

    • Payroll Patriot
      July 31, 2014 at 10:08 am #

      Read the 6×8 foot sign in front of the building, just to the left of the picture from the other realtor.

      • ed shepardson
        July 31, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

        And the sign says?

  10. Problem Solver
    July 31, 2014 at 6:16 am #

    All the city has to do is quadruple the fees contractors pay to get these permits.

    This money can be used to replenish the alleged “slush fund” the mayor uses to draw from to get money from thin air.

    Parking can be solved by tearing down city hall and make it into a metered parking lot. Meters that accept dollar bills instead of coin can prove much more profitable. If not enough space still, the police station can be torn down also and paved.

    Why not move all offices to 100 North Street? Come On, we can go places with this.

    We can change the name of Pittsfield to “The City of Mondello”.

    Problem solved.

  11. There are legal issues
    July 31, 2014 at 6:32 am #

    The Mayor’s use of taxpayer money to fund this, especially after the city council denied its use for such, is quite simply taxation without representation.

    I believe this is illegal.

  12. amandaWell
    July 31, 2014 at 6:35 am #

    Do any of the Councilors know or can explain exactly what, Existing Funds are? I is befuddled!

  13. PopKornSutton
    July 31, 2014 at 7:11 am #

    Yes Mando, I think I can help with that? In my opinion, existing funds are money that just exists.

  14. Bill Sturgeon
    July 31, 2014 at 7:26 am #

    It is not the space that needs to be corrected – It is the process itself. I would think that much of this permitting process could be done on-line.
    Also, if I am having a squirt gun fighting party at 1:00 PM on Saturday why do I need the Fire Department and Health Department to sign-off on a permit?

    The process itself is flawed.

    I understand that that by correcting the process no political favors will be granted or money will be reallocated..

  15. Two Questions
    July 31, 2014 at 7:34 am #

    When they crafted the new city charter, they made sure to include a new mayoral term of 4 years instead of 2 years. Why did they not set an hour requirement? I think most people who vote for mayor assume that its a full time job. Never assume anything.

    “Free Cash” simply means the city took more money from taxes and fees than what they needed to run the city. Its not “Free”. It belongs to the taxpayers. It should be given back to the taxpayers by means of a tax credit or by physically mailing a check to every single taxpayer. Why when they crafted the new city charter did they not close this windfall loophole? Using (or rather stealing) this money from the taxpayers only encourages them to raise taxes higher than what they actually need every single time. It would be nice if the people could launch a class action law suit against the city to recover all this “free cash” all the years the city has taken and used it. Retroactive, just like pay raises.

  16. Dave
    July 31, 2014 at 7:40 am #

    If we spend thousands on the floor at city hall why can’t we renovate the bottom floor? A one time expense rather than paying rent forever, because you know after 3 years the reviews will all be glowing and we would have to continue. Once something is part of a governmental budget it is there forever. DPI is a perfect example.

  17. Kevin
    July 31, 2014 at 8:31 am #

    I too thank the Planet for bringing this story to light and like Mr Ward have contacted my councilor. Called mayor’s office. No answer not even voice mail.

    • Magic
      July 31, 2014 at 9:34 am #

      I too have contacted my councilman – no response to two different e-mails. And have called city hall with no response.

  18. Cubical Salesman
    July 31, 2014 at 8:59 am #

    Dan,

    You mentioned that the proposal is for 5 areas for cubicles.
    This is space reserved for the people who actually do the work.
    Take a wander through city hall and see all the wasted space in offices. If someone with pay attention to details there is plenty of room there for “cubicles” and reorganization of existing space would be a piece of cake. Why can’t even department heads operate out of a cubicle?

    If your job operates out of a cubicle, you are not on top of the totem pole.

    The mayor’s corner office is vacant most of the time and only used for angered finger wagging and doesn’t even have an answering machine turned on to receive phone calls. Couldn’t the Mayor himself operate out of a cubicle? His real office is up on the third floor of 100 North Street. How many cubicles will fit into the corner office itself?

    If the goal is truly to streamline efficiency then it can be easily accomplished with existing free space.

    I would bet if you took an empty city hall and starting from scratch you could easily organize all the existing space at maximum efficiency and still use the basement for storage.

  19. Dave
    July 31, 2014 at 9:31 am #

    Some questions that need asking

    Which line item did this money come from?
    If this was such a bare bones budget as advertised, how can we know less than a month into the fiscal year that this line item will not need these funds?
    Why was this budget approved with inflated numbers in this line item?
    How many other line items have inflated numbers?

  20. Nota
    July 31, 2014 at 9:47 am #

    te$ ought a get one of those trailers and park it on the side of city hall.

  21. levitan
    July 31, 2014 at 9:59 am #

    (5) Does Global’s “Dan Bianchi” do any business with the city of Pittsfield, any city or county-based clients (for example, gas station chains), or Scarafoni Associates holdings? Does it sell gas, electricity, or fuel oil to any clients posing a direct conflict of interest to mayor Dan Bianchi?

    Good question there. Otherwise, the process of multiple permitting for singular events is the source of inefficiency. I don’t believe people will be anymore relieved that they still have to fill out multiple applications and deal with several departments even if the walk is now just a 4 minute one versus a 5 minute one.

    (Not considering the parking ticket that would still be paid on Allen Street.)

  22. levitan
    July 31, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    Er…. did I say something naughty? Moderation?

  23. Mr. X
    July 31, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    Thanks to the Sturgeon General…the voice of reason…as usual

  24. Shakes His Head
    July 31, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

    The RFP would also have to be published in the Massachusetts Registry. The City should hire an architect to work with them on space needs and technology assimilation to plan beyond the next three years for all city functions, including fire and police. If the city has some sort of master plan with population and revenue forecasts, it should also address government space through a capital program.

  25. B
    July 31, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    Maybe Tes will have a secret staircase from his third floor office going down to the second floor. He can even install cameras at all entrances at 100 North St. that can recognize face recognition. Tes can program the system to alarm him if anyone comes in the building who is on his face recognition list, he can then slither down the stairs to be on the second floor and no one would know that he had really been up on the third floor working. Should Tes all of a sudden start losing a lot of weight then we know he’s been doing a lot of slithering. That is one way of getting rid of him he will just waste away from all his slithering.

  26. amandWell
    July 31, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

    Hey Everybody,(commissioner of food) Willuts wants us to knock off the smoking and pigging out at restaurants. Willuts would have made a good Blight Commisioner. What happened with that?

  27. Nota
    July 31, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

    I’m all for moving the permit offices to the Colonial Theatre. And the City Council meetings, with a new three hour open mike. Just the chance to maybe see Three Dog Night rehearsing while waiting for a permit will be well worth it.

  28. joetaxpayer
    July 31, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

    The basement would be a perfect place to store Mayor Dan’s golden shovles, scissors and ribbons.

  29. Luke
    July 31, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

    While I enjoy a joke as much as the next person,the tragedy of this malfeasance is so great as to demand some concrete action.

    What can be done to address this travesty of governance? Is it truly possible for the mayor to direct city funds from some unnamed source for an unnecessary goal to the financial gain of a friend with no justification,oe competitive bidding?

    Have the people of Pittsfield truly abdicated their oversight of their own government? This makes Pittsfield a laughingstock

  30. Jonathan Melle
    July 31, 2014 at 6:18 pm #

    Jimmy Ruberto spent hundreds of times more taxpayer’s dollars on “dowtown revitalization” than Dan Bianchi’s proposed renting of office space! How soon Dan Valenti forgets!

  31. joetaxpayer
    July 31, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

    Agree, Luke politicians are laughing stocks, not just Pittsfield. Our President and Mr. Patrick pull the same crap as Mayor Dan only on a much larger scale.

  32. dusty
    August 1, 2014 at 1:05 am #

    Perhaps something simple like a march on city hall could be put together. Make it easy for the people. Pick a convenient time. Or maybe we could march around 100 North street. Let us do something to gauge the citizens strength as a force. If there are enough of us maybe we can make a statement. If not then we just continue to roll over and let the machine take our money without representing us.