Article

THE PLANET OFFERS ‘RECALL 101,’ A CRASH COURSE IN REMOVING A MAYOR FROM OFFICE

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY-TUESDAY, JULY 28-29, 2014) — THE PLANET has been asked about the recall process for an elected public official in Pittsfield, a city “led” by a part-time, no-show mayor up to his ass in the scandalous muck of Pittsfield’s swamp politics.

The buzz about a recall effort has become hard to ignore. The city’s new charter provides a recall mechanism for We The People to correct electoral mistakes — in Bianchi’s case, what turned out to be a colossal mistake.

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Recall is Largely a Local Mechanism, Eminently Doable

Recall is a political mechanism by which citizens can remove an office holder before his or her term expires. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, historically, recall efforts occur most often at the local level.

Contrary to assumed belief, local recall efforts aren’t typically based on allegations of criminal wrongdoing or other “large” matters. Rather, “mayors are being targeted over issues that in most places would hardly generate headlines. Johnstown, Colo., Mayor Mark Romanowski survived a recall election earlier this year that was prompted, in part, by residents’ opposition to a plan to switch from diagonal to parallel parking spaces. Ogden, Kan., Mayor Jimmy Bonds lost a recall election last year after firing two lifeguards. Opponents said he overstepped his bounds” (Ryan Holeywell, April 2011, at government.com. Here’s the hot link):

The Rise of the Recall Election - Governing

www.governing.com/topics/politics/rise-recall-election.html
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THE PLANET would suggest Bianchi has far exceeded the threshold needed for a recall effort.

From Encyclopedia Britannica: “[R]ecall is designed to ensure an elected official will act in the interests of his constituency rather than in the interests of his political party or according to his own conscience.” It is also designed to remove officials who ignores constituents for selfish purposes or to advance the causes of The Special Interests, as TES has done.

Here’s the oath of office Bianchi took in January:

Pittsfield Mayor Takes Oath of Office - YouTube

www.youtube.com/watch?v=KepvAEsW04U

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An oath is an affirmation. It is not ceremonial. It means something. Bianchi swore to “faithfully and impartially perform all of the duties” of his office, according to federal, state, and local law, including “the ordinances of the city of Pittsfield.” He has neither been faithful nor impartial on matters that go far beyond “parallel parking,” laying a green, globby “loogie” all over the oath.

The City Charter Speaks 

Here’s how the charter handles recall:

Application – Any holder of an elected office in the city, with more than six months remaining in the term of office for which the officer was elected, may be recalled therefrom by the voters of the city in the manner provided in this section. No recall petition shall be filed against an officer within six months after taking office.
 
(b) 

Recall Petition – A recall petition may be initiated by the filing of an affidavit containing the name of the officer sought to be recalled and a statement of the grounds for recall, provided that the affidavit is signed by at least 500 voters for the office of mayor or councilor-at-large and at least 300 voters for any other elected officials; provided, however, that the signatures for a recall petition for the office of ward city councilor shall be from certified voters in the ward for which the councilor was elected. The city clerk shall thereupon deliver to those voters making the affidavit copies of petition blanks demanding such recall, copies of which printed forms the city clerk shall keep available. The blanks shall be issued by the city clerk, with signature and official seal attached thereto. The blanks shall be dated, shall be addressed to the city council and shall contain the names of all the persons to whom the blanks are issued, the number of blanks so issued, the name of the person whose recall is sought, the office from which removal is sought and the grounds of recall as stated in the affidavit. A copy of the petition shall be entered in a record book to be kept in the office of the city clerk. Said recall petition shall be returned and filed with the city clerk within 28 days after the filing of the affidavit, and shall have been signed by at least 20% of the voters of the city for any officer elected at large and signed by at least 20% of the voters of the ward for an officer elected by ward. The city clerk shall submit the petition to the registrars of voters and the registrars shall, within five days, certify thereon the number of signatures which are names of voters.
 
(c) 

Recall Election – If the petition shall be found and certified by the city clerk to be sufficient, the city clerk shall submit the same with such certificate to the city council within five days, and the city council shall give written notice of the receipt of the certificate to the officer sought to be recalled and shall, if the officer does not resign within five days thereafter, order an election to be held on a date fixed by the city council not less than 64 days and not more than 90 days after the date of the city clerk’s certificate that a sufficient petition has been filed; provided, however, that if any other city election is to occur within 120 days after the date of the certificate, the city council shall postpone the holding of the recall election to the date of such other election. If a vacancy occurs in said office after a recall election has been ordered, the election shall not proceed as provided in this section.
 
(d) 

Office Holder – The incumbent shall continue to perform the duties of the office until the recall election. If said incumbent is not recalled, the incumbent shall continue in office for the remainder of the unexpired term subject to recall as before. If recalled, the officer shall be deemed removed and the office vacant. The vacancy created thereby shall be filled under articles 2, 3, 4 and 5 of this charter for filling vacancies in such office. A person chosen to fill the vacancy caused by a recall shall hold office until the next regular city election. Should the person be a candidate in the subsequent election, that person will not be allowed to have “candidate for reelection” appear on the ballot at such election.
 
(e) 

Ballot Proposition – The form of the question to be voted upon shall be substantially as follows:
“Shall [here insert the name and title of the elective officer whose recall is sought] be recalled?”
Yes No
If a majority of the votes cast upon the question of recall is in the affirmative, such elected officer shall be recalled.
 
(f) 

Repeat of Recall – In the case of an officer subjected to a recall election and not recalled thereby, no recall petition shall be filed against such officer until at least 270 days after the election at which the officer’s recall was submitted to the voters of the city.
 
(g) 

Office Holder Recalled – No person who has been recalled from an office or who has resigned from office while recall proceedings were pending against such person shall be appointed to any city office within two years after such recall or such resignation.

SECTION 9-5REQUIRED VOTER PARTICIPATION.

For any measure to be effective under initiative procedure and for any measure to be declared null and void under a referendum procedure and for any recall election, at least 20% of the voters as of the most recent regular city election must vote at an election that includes on the ballot submission to the voters of one or more initiative or referendum or recall questions.
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A recall effort may be asking you to get involved and flex your electoral muscles. Think of it as not just an offer but an opportunity. Think of it as an opportunity — to wrest back control of your government from the corruptive elements that hold hostage. Sooner or later, one way or the other, Bianchi must go.
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“In and around the lake, mountains come out of the sky and they stand there. One mile over we’ll be there  and we’ll see you. Ten true summer we’ll be there and laughing too.”Yes, “The Roundabout,” (1973).
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.

42 Responses to “THE PLANET OFFERS ‘RECALL 101,’ A CRASH COURSE IN REMOVING A MAYOR FROM OFFICE”

  1. PR
    July 28, 2014 at 5:36 am #

    Would it not be funny if Bianchi receives more recall signatures than he did votes to get elected?

    Campaign slogan:

    Your signature is a vote of “no confidence” in this mayor.

  2. Its your tax dollars
    July 28, 2014 at 6:25 am #

    Dan,

    Today’s BB:

    Bianchi finds funds to consolidate inspectors’ offices despite Pittsfield City Council’s rejection
    By Jim Therrien, Berkshire Eagle Staff,
    Posted: 07/28/2014 06:51:11 AM EDT3 Comments | Updated: about 2 hours ago

    PITTSFIELD — Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi is moving ahead with plans to consolidate all city inspectors into a single office, despite rejection by the City Council of a $100,000 request for office renovation work.

    The office space, he said, is located on the second floor at 100 North St., in the historic First Agricultural Bank building. The building, owned by Scarafoni Realty, has entrances on Fenn and North streets, and an elevator to the upper floors.

    Bianchi said he is utilizing existing funds in the city budget and won’t have to put in another request for renovation funding. He said the changes won’t have to go before the council for further approvals.

    The plan was spurred by requests from contractors and others who complained about having to visit several offices concerning various types of inspections and permits. Bianchi hopes to combine building, public utilities, fire and safety and other city inspectors in one office, he said.

    “This will give us a coordinated, one-stop area for people to have inspectors sign off on permits,” he said.

    The city Purchasing Department put out advertisements with requests for proposals to provide the office space, he said, and only Scarafoni replied.

    Because only one bid was entered, he said, state law allowed the city to negotiate the price, which was lowered from the original amount. He said the negotiations are not completed and declined to discuss the exact terms at this time.

    However, Councilor at large Barry Clairmont said Friday he obtained copies of the Scarafoni proposal and a draft copy of the lease from the city Purchasing Department.

    He said that shows the original bid was for $18 per square foot for 9,000 square feet of space, but the draft lease shows $14 per square foot in the first year, $13 per square foot in the second and $12 per square foot in the third year.

    Those figures would mean an annual cost of $126,000 in the first year, he said.

    The city would have an option to renew in the second and third years, Clairmont said.

    Bianchi said three years should provide a good test of the efficiency of having centralized inspection offices at that location, which he said met an important qualification in being close to City Hall.

    The space in the basement of City Hall where the scattered offices now are located could be used for storage, he said.

    Another component of the mayor’s long-range proposal will require approval from the council. He proposes $100,000 for software to allow online permitting from the city’s website, but that is one of the line items currently stalled after the council voted down a $9.5 million capital budget for fiscal 2015.

    The mayor has not yet resubmitted to the council any of the approximately 40 projects in that budget.

    Clairmont said he has concerns about the office lease arrangement but said he wants to research the matter further before decided whether to raise them.

    To reach Jim Therrien:
    jtherrien@berkshireeagle.com,
    or (413) 496-6247
    On Twitter: @BE_therrien

    • Spider
      July 28, 2014 at 9:44 am #

      This whole idea is outrageous. He may have enough money for the move and renovations, but as you pointed out, the city will be paying monthly rent. City = taxpayers

      There are city owned empty bldgs. throughout the city…..use one of them “rent free”.

      This stupidity has to stop. CITY COUNCIL: HELP!

      • Gene
        July 28, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

        No need to do anything. All the depts are ‘under one roof’ now except fire are in city hall (with police a 20-second walk). The only thing this ‘solves’ is getting $126,ooo a year into the pockets of a friend whos having trouble giving space away. Taxpayers pay. Friends make out.

        As DV pointed out when he broke this story over weekend Bianchi has had his office in same bldg for a lot of yrs. The mayor admits he still works at Global. His Global time will only go up.

        Terrrible job of reporting bec./ it doesn’t ask the sticky questions about the mayors relationship with the landlord etc etc etc.

        • danvalenti
          July 28, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

          Excellent points, G.

      • danvalenti
        July 28, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

        “Stupidity” is the mayor’s middle name.

    • Joe Blow
      July 28, 2014 at 11:44 am #

      I love that they didn’t write about his other office is in the same building. These so called reporters should be ashamed of themselves!

      • danvalenti
        July 28, 2014 at 6:37 pm #

        Beautiful, isn’t it. The article also didn’t mention the connection between The Boring Broadsheet and Scarafoni Associates. That’s OK. THE PLANET will be doing that on Tuesday’s post.

  3. Mad Trapper
    July 28, 2014 at 6:54 am #

    So if I read this right you need 20% of registered voters to sign on?

    Pittsfield can’t get 20% to show up for a general election!!!!

  4. BOC
    July 28, 2014 at 7:10 am #

    If the petition for recall goes around, I’d support it. But it has little chance of success as Bianchi still has his followers, as evidenced by the huge support he still gets from the city council which passed his rididulous budget 9-2.
    And if the definition by Encyclopedia Brittanica is accurate, then 90% of all elected officials should be recalled!

    • dusty
      July 28, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

      I am sure when the recall clause was set up it had a back door escape amendment.

      i.e. If a recall is started against a man whose first name begins with the letter D, and the sky is partly cloudy at any point of the initiating day, and any or all of Jupiter’s moons are aligned with Saturn or Pluto (which may or may not still be a planet) then said recall will be rendered null and void and may not be restarted in the same or any other, calendar year.

  5. Get out: Still your best option
    July 28, 2014 at 7:53 am #

    Even IF a successful recall was done and Bianchi sent packing from the corner office; the people are still on the hook for all the damage he has done. He would just simply be replaced by a GOB mayor and the fleecing will continue.

    Honestly, you can’t win. Pittsfield politics is deeply entrenched and one recall will not solve anything. If you choose to live in Pittsfield, you do so at your own peril.

    Living in Pittsfield is damned if you do damned if you don’t scenario. Your best option is to make like a tree and get out. In just a few short years from now, you will be very glad you did.

    Believe it or not, there are far better places to live in this country.

    • dusty
      July 28, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

      I so totally agree. You can’t win and you won’t win and you are going to find out the hard way should you try. The only way is to be connected or marry into an existing connection. Elsewise you are the equivalent of an indentured servant whose master keeps raising the release cost.

      and the horse never does catch up to the carrot

  6. Shakes His Head
    July 28, 2014 at 7:54 am #

    Couldn’t they just go to online permitting? why do inspectors need an office to do the same paperwork they can fill out on tablets onsite, complete with photos and commentary?

    • Carolyn Barry
      July 28, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

      We applied last October online in Lenox for a permit to put in 2 windows. I called 2 days later to see if they had any questions. They still hadn’t received it!! It took 9 days for the inspector to be able to see it online. Ridiculous!

      • danvalenti
        July 28, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

        Welcome to DWD: Dealing With Government.

  7. Hurdygurdy Man
    July 28, 2014 at 9:19 am #

    I will not only support recall but be part of the team. Get the bum out of office.

  8. joetaxpayer
    July 28, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    Eagle makes it sound like he found money in the couch at city hall. Hey Dan that’s my money your wasting, could you please stop being foolish.

  9. Jonathan Melle
    July 28, 2014 at 9:59 am #

    What is the alternative to removing Mayor Dan Bianchi from office? Will Pittsfield politics get any better? Or, will Pittsfield politics get even worse?
    I still believe that Mayor Dan Bianchi was handed a big mess by former Pittsfield Mayors Gerry Doyle and Jimmy Ruberto. It is also true that Dan Bianchi hasn’t improved anything in Pittsfield politics.

  10. Larry Legend
    July 28, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    DV,

    Congrats to your parents on their 70th….amazing

  11. Nota
    July 28, 2014 at 11:13 am #

    Status quo has gotta go!

  12. Tim
    July 28, 2014 at 11:46 am #

    Has anyone called city hall yet to tell the mayor what you think of the plan?

    • Joe Blow
      July 28, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

      I’m sorry the Mayor is not in his office right now, can I take a message.

      • danvalenti
        July 28, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

        The Amazing, Transparent Man Meets The Invisible Man

  13. amandaWell
    July 28, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

    Last time I called City Hall the mayor answered on a recorded message. The last time I heard from the mayor was a two minute recorded message on my answering machine about traffic routes for the July 4th parade.

  14. levitan
    July 28, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

    Fine with me, so long as I get my Mininstry position as promised.

    • danvalenti
      July 28, 2014 at 6:36 pm #

      Oh yes, everything is still in order on that one.

  15. BOC
    July 28, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    Recalling TES is very unlikely, so the plan has got to be to come up with a strong candidate for the next election. For all his failings and faults, TES will still be very hard to beat as the GOBs are on his side. He has his loyalists and blind followers still. I can’t run myself as I would quit my current job so I could be a full time mayor, and I just can’t do that.

    • dusty
      July 28, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

      Seriously? Right now anyone on the council would win in a landslide.

      (and then we would likely be in the same boat six months down the road)

    • danvalenti
      July 28, 2014 at 6:36 pm #

      Recall, we agree, is unlikely, but possible. As for beating TES in 2015, it is CERTAIN. He’s toast.

      • levitan
        July 29, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

        I prefer a coup. More exciting, more opportunities for change, and a good situation for me.

  16. Mr. X
    July 28, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    FYI to all…the HRC meeting from last Tue. with the fireworks is on channel 18 at 6pm tonight

    • downtown dweller
      July 28, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

      O.M.G. I have no words. This is snowballing into a giant clusterf***. It has veered way off track.

      • danvalenti
        July 28, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

        It IS unbelievable. This would have been hidden until AFTER THE FACT were it not for THE PLANET and our civic-minded sources.

  17. Luke
    July 28, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

    If there is not a revolt of the city council to the proposed $126,000 payoff to a friend and ongoing payoffs each subsequent year, it’s clear to me that the Orwell is right and the people of Pittsfield have the government they deserve… fleeced with the consent of the governed…

    • danvalenti
      July 28, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

      This has the feelings of a “last straw” type of deal.

  18. amandaWell
    July 28, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

    Does the new Charter give da Mayor the ability to lease as he pleases? Pour Favour.

    • danvalenti
      July 28, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

      I don’t think so. This phony deal requires council approval, it would appear.

  19. amandaWell
    July 28, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    after watching the HRC meeting, one thing is perfectly clear. they need a Bouncer.

  20. Some Questions
    July 28, 2014 at 8:19 pm #

    How does the Mayor just “find” $126,000.00?
    Is it his money to spend as he sees fit?
    What, is there some kind of secret “slush” fund hidden from the city council?
    If this money existed, why was it hidden from the city council and not appropriated?
    Can the Mayor just do as he pleases?
    The BB reported that the Mayor does not need to resubmit the city council – Oh Really? And why is that?
    Should not the city council call him on the carpet in council chambers in full public view?
    Is this the Mayor’s “Oh Shit” moment?

    • danvalenti
      July 28, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

      GREAT questions, SQ!