Article

MAZZEO WANTS MAYOR BEFORE COUNCIL SEPT. 2 TO ANSWER QUESTIONS ON ’100gate’, PROCEDURAL MOVE ON AGENDA NOTWITHSTANDING

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY-WEDNESDAY, AUG. 12-13, 2014) — THE PLANET got it our of her. City council president Melissa Mazzeo has joined a host of her council colleagues in wanting and expecting Mayor Dan Bianchi to appear before the city council on Sept. 2 to answer a list of hot questions regarding 100 North St. The mayor will duck that appearance only at the expense of any last remnant of whatever credibility he may have left.

Allow us to explain.

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Welcome back to “100gate.” The issue takes its next step at tonight’s city council meeting (Aug. 12), which promises to be of marathon length. As almost everyone who’s paying attention now knows because of THE PLANET’s exclusive coverage, Mazzeo has sent councilor-at-larg Barry Clairmont‘s petition directly to the mayor under council Rule 27. Yesterday, THE PLANET raised questions surrounding this procedural step, which on its surface seems motivated by politics.

The referral sidesteps a council vote on Clairmont’s petition, which asks his colleagues if they favor having the mayor answer questions at the Sept. 2 meeting on his plans to move 40% of city hall into offices on the second floor of 100 North St. The mayor has his private offices for his current job at Global Montello energy company on the third floor of 100 North. TES has received near unanimous objection to this plan, which would, in rent alone, cost the city $341,000 for the three years mentioned in the proposed lease. This does not include a host of ancillary costs such as moving expenses, insurance, and more. The affected city offices currently are located in city hall at 70 Allen St., rent free.

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Mazzeo Explains Her Move, Wants Mayor to Answer Council’s Questions

THE PLANET has had an interesting and enlightening running dialogue with Mazzeo on her procedural move. After persistent non-committal back-and-forth in previous days, there came a break through. Mazzeo told THE PLANET last night that “the mayor should come to the Sept. 2 council meeting and answer the questions asked [in Clairmont's petition].” This is the first time Mazzeo has gone on the record with such a statement. In the interests of tranasparency and education, THE PLANET now brings you the highlights of our exchanges with the council president.

First, though, we commend Mazzeo for her forthcoming responses to our queries. She did not fail to return one of our calls amid what she say was a week in which she has been flat-out with work and other responsibilities. She sets a good example for the mayor, who — to what will ultimately be his political demise — has continued to ignore our requests for dialogue and comment for two years now.

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Nowhere, Man

Several days ago, THE PLANET asked our Right Honorable Good Friend why she referred Clairmopnt’s petition to the mayor instead of placing it on the agenda.

“I sent it to the mayor because these questions are for him,” she said. “Where else should I have sent it? It’s a long agenda, and we can’t entertain every petition, and this seemed very clear where it should go.”

PLANET COMMENTS: Where else should she have sent it? The answer is simple: nowhere.

The petition asks the council to vote on sending the questions to the mayor. The intended initial audience of the petition was the city council, not the mayor, as the wording of Clairmont’s petition clearly states [ED. NOTE: See THE PLANET's "Weekend Edition, Aug. 8-10" for the full language of Clairmont's petition].

A procedural smoking gun, if you will, comes from the gigantic agenda for tonight’s meeting. The agenda includes a second Clairmont petition asking that the mayor follow city rules to run the department of public services and the department of public utilities as they are currently constituted in city code. The mayor wants to reorganize the departments, an issue also on the agenda.

THE PLANET points out that Mazzeo did not refer that petition to Bianchi under Rule 27, as she did the “100gate” matter. Why?

* Both involve the mayor.

* Both involve the city charter.

* Both ask for his colleague’s considerations.

* Both reflect the will of the people in Clairmont’s role as a citywide representative.

This strongly suggests that Mazzeo referred Clairmont’s “100gate” petition under Rule 27 as part of a political plan as opposed to a procedural efficiency. Rule 27 removes “100gate” from the agenda, keeping it under the radar with the hope that citizens, taxpayers, We The People, Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski, The Little Guy, and John Q. Public are not paying attention.

As to the matter of “it’s a long agenda” and “we can’t entertain every petition,” no one to our knowledge has ever asked any city council president or anyone “to entertain every petition.”  No one has done so in this case. Citizens have a right, however, to expect important, non-routine petitions such as Clairmont’s — with somewhere $500,000 of taxpayer money on the line — to receive a full hearing.

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Mazzeo Denies Mayor’s Involvement

THE PLANET asked Mazzeo if she referred the item “on the mayor’s orders.” She said, “I set the agenda as I see it, not anyone else.” She did not respond to our question on what the mayor’s options are in dealing with an item referred to him under rule 27. THE PLANET has requested comment directly from the mayor. When the phone doesn’t ring, we’ll know it’s Dan Bianchi not calling us.

In a followup, we asked Mazzeo if she had “any communication with the mayor regarding either the agenda or Clairmont’s petition.” She replied, “I’m straight out with stuff, so I’m trying to answer you as best I can. I send many petitions under rule 27 every agenda. When the time arises any one can talk on an item that was referred under that rule . Clairmont wants this sent to the mayor to answer questions so I sent it to the mayor. Hope this clarifies my actions.”

It didn’t, and THE PLANET persisted.

Open Meeting Law Violation? We Think Not

Given that Mazzeo didn’t return our request for comment the first time around on Clairmont’s petition (Church Cotton was the only other councilor who ducked us), we then asked, again, for her views on having the mayor come before the council to answer the questions regarding “100gate.” She ducked the question a second time

Over the weekend, THE PLANET once again asked Mazzeo is she is in favor or not of having Bianchi before the council to answer questions about the proposed move to 100 North, our third request. Yesterday, Mazzeo got back to us. She answered the question this way:

“I didn’t respond because I felt that you asking everyone the same question in a mass email and asking for all of our opinions was a violation of the open meeting law. I did get a call from some one questioning it and I called myself to ask. It can absolutely be considered an OML violation and she sent me 2 cases to back up her opinion. I don’t think any one has made to claim as to the violation but I will be asking the councilors going forward to be careful when they do give their opinion. I will vote on the issue on Tuesday.” [PLANET's underline]

THE PLANET pressed on that point, saying we disagreed with that interpretation. We added that would possibly apply if THE PLANET was a voting member of a municipal deliberative body that had some decision-making say in the issue. We are not. We are the press. A journalist seeking information on a legitimate public issue cannot under even the most liberal interpretation of the Open Meeting Law be under the same restrictions that binds public officials.

THE PLANET asked Mazzeo to be specific about who she called for clarification of her concern about a possible violation of the Open Meeting Law.

“I spoke with Mallory at the AG’s office,” she replied. Mazzeo offered to send THE PLANET “the two examples she [Mallory] sent me.”

We took her up on her offer. When our Right Honorable Good Friend send the two opinions from the AG’s office, she admitted for the first time that Mallory told her “an Open Meeting Law violation didn’t occur in those cases.”

Repeat: The two examples the AG sent were of cases where Martha Coakley‘s office found no OML violations!!

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In the interests certainly not of tedium but of full transparency, here are the two cases Mazzeo says AG Marth Coakley’s office sent her:

FIRST CASE

( LETTERHEAD)

MARTHA COAKLEY

ATTORNEY GENERAL

Robin E. Hamlett Recording Secretary Gill-Montague Regional School Committee 35 Crocker Ave Turner Falls, MA 01376

Dear Ms. Hamlett:

THE COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS

OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

ONE ASHBURTON PLACE BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS 02108

June 4, 2013 OML 2013 – 74

(617) 727-2200 www.mass.gov/ago

This office received an Open Meeting Law complaint from Stephanie Bassett-Fox dated May 16, 2012, alleging that the Gill-Montague Regional School Committee (the “Committee”) violated the Open Meeting Law, G.L. c. 30A, §§ 18-25. The complaint specifically alleges that Committee Chair Mike Langknecht and Committee member Jeff Singleton engaged in “public discussions about School Committee matters” through a website, www.montaguema.net.The complaint was filed with the Committee on or about April 12, 2012. The Committee responded to the complaint by letter dated April 25, 2012.

Following our review, we find that the Committee did not violate the Open Meeting Law because a quorum of the Committee did not engage in discussions on public business within the Committee’s jurisdiction outside of an open meeting. In reaching this determination, we reviewed the April 12, 2012 complaint filed with the Committee; the Committee’s April 25, 2012 response; and the May 16, 2012 complaint filed with our office. We also reviewed a series of messages posted to www.montaguema.net,provided by the complainant, dated December 14, 2011 through May 2, 2012.

FACTS

The Committee is a nine-member public body. The website, www.montaguema.net, describes itself as the “place on the web for local gossip, news, event calendars and business listings for Montague, MA.” The website functions as a message board, allowing members of the public to post, respond to, and read messages. Between December 14, 2011 and May 2, 2012, Committee members Mike Langknecht and Jeff Singleton posted messages to the website, occasionally directed to each other, regarding public business within the Committee’s jurisdiction. Examples of topics discussed by the two Committee members via the website include discussion about the teachers’ union mobilizing teachers to challenge the Committee’slong term planning process and the firing of a School District employee. None of the other Committee members posted messages to the website.

DISCUSSION

The Open Meeting Law requires that “[e]xcept as provided in [G.L. c. 30A, § 21(a)], all meetings of a public body shall be open to the public.” G.L. c. 30A, § 20(a). Meeting is defined, in part, as “a deliberation by a public body with respect to any matter within the body’s jurisdiction.” G.L. c. 30A, § 18. Deliberation is defined, in relevant part, as “an oral or written communication through any medium, including electronic mail, between or among a quorum of a public body on any public business within its jurisdiction.” Id. A quorum is a “simple majority of the members of the public body, unless otherwise provided in a general or special law, executive order or other authorizing provision.” Id.

Here, two members of the nine-member Committee communicated directly with one another via an online message board regarding public business within the Committee’s jurisdiction, including topics regarding the teachers’ union and the firing of a School District employee. Although a majority of the Committee’s members could have read the messages on www.montaguema.net , Mr. Langknecht’s and Mr. Singleton’s messages were not directed to a quorum of the Committee. See OML 2011-33. 1We therefore find that, because the communications were not directed to a quorum of the members of the Committee, and because a quorum of the members did not participate in posting to the website, that the Committee did not deliberate outside of an open meeting and did not violate the Open Meeting Law. See G.L. c. 30A, § 18. However, we caution the Committee that communication on an electronic message board is improper deliberation outside of an open meeting if it is between or among a quorum of the body’s members and concerns public business within its jurisdiction. See id.

CONCLUSION

For the reasons stated above, we find that the Committee did not violate the Open Meeting Law.

We appreciate the patience and cooperation of the parties during this investigation, and now consider this matter closed. Please contact our office at (617) 963-2540 if you have any questions regarding this letter.

Sincerely,

onathan Sc arsic Assistant Attorney General Division of Open Government

Open Meeting Law determinations may be found at the Attorney General’s website, www.mass.goviago/openmeeting.

2

cc: Stephanie Bassett-Fox

[PLANET's underlines]

The second case Mazzeo sent along from the AG’s office again showed no Open Meeting Law violations. We shall not present it, in the interests of brevity. For those interested, it is a July 25, 2011 AG’s ruling OML 2011—33.

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PLANET Presses Where Others Would Have Folded

This is a far cry from the council president’s initial and unchallenged claim that “It can absolutely be considered an Open Meeting Law violation.”

Here’s the point: If THE PLANET did not press for specifics, Mazzeo’s initial claim of an “absolute violation of the Open Meeting Law” would have stood and been published as is. That’s what would have happened if this story had gone this far in the hands of any of the local mainstream media. They would have accepted a general unsupported statement at face value. They would have been reluctant, afraid, or too busy to press. Fortunately, Pittsfield citizens and taxpayers had THE PLANET on the job.

Mazzeo told us that Mallory from the AG’s office “directed me to read carefully the discussion portion of each and that what occurred with the Pittsfield councilors could be looked at as a violation of Deliberation. As I said , the person who called me is not the type of person who would make a claim, just wanted to give me a heads up. I think the best course is to not ask everyone to respond to a petition until after it goes before the council, that way it doesn’t seem like their opinions are influencing each other.

In addition to the fact that in both cases cited no Open Meeting Law violation occurred, THE PLANET points out a key difference between our questions of the city council and the two AG rulings Mazzeo passed along. Both of the AG’s cases referred to deliberations of members of public bodies among themselves.

That is a far cry from an independent journalist, a member of the press, asking members of a public, elected deliberative body (e.g., the city council) for their views on a current public issue. THE PLANET also points out that when we asked councilors for their views on Clairmont’s petition, there was no deliberation involved. This was simply a case of a journalist asking 11 members of the city council to weigh in on the matter. It was not “deliberation.”

THE PLANET heard independently from nine members. Mazzeo and Churchill Cotton were the only two not to reply. Given Mazzeo’s views yesterday that she expects the mayor to be before the council on Sept. 2 to answer questions about “100gate,” only Cotton has not made one peep.

Let’s see what happens tonight. It promises to be a long meeting, with “100gate” apparently to come next to last on the endless agenda.

Hang in there, everybody. This issue is huge on its face, given the numerous legitimate questions of a highly questionable mayoral proposal. It also looms large for what we may learn about the balance of power and politics in the city. Is the city council a legitimate co-governor along with the mayor, the only official voice We The People have in public affairs — or — is it the mayor’s lap dog and rubber stamp?

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“What dya gone tell your momma? What dya gone tell your pa? What dya gone tell your friends when they say, ‘Oooo, la-la?” Wake up little Susy.” — Everly Brothers, “Wake Up Little Suzy,” (1958).
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.

61 Responses to “MAZZEO WANTS MAYOR BEFORE COUNCIL SEPT. 2 TO ANSWER QUESTIONS ON ’100gate’, PROCEDURAL MOVE ON AGENDA NOTWITHSTANDING”

  1. pemetina
    August 11, 2014 at 11:27 pm #

    I’ve supported Melissa right from her start as a city councilor. She was honest and hard working. Now, I can’t believe a word she say’s. She has lost all credibility with me. I’m very saddened by this.

    • Kathy
      August 12, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

      I’m sad to say that I also agree with you! I had high hope for Melissa. Not so much now

  2. dusty
    August 12, 2014 at 1:05 am #

    How quickly it seems Melissa went from potential future mayor to the dunce in the corner. My mother always said, you can be judge by the company you keep. I guess corruption is contagious.

    • darn mad
      August 12, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

      I scrapped off my MAZZEO bumper sticker last night after dark so my neighbors wouldn’t see me! Guess I’m sad more than mad jus sayin…

  3. 100 BC
    August 12, 2014 at 2:03 am #

    It looks like everything is everything is being done backwards like dragging branches over your footprints to hide the fact that you were there.

    I would bet a more likely senario is that the mayor was informed of this petition by Ms. Mazzeo or someone else, got with Degnan and came up with this rule 27 seeming loophole. More likely than not, the mayor probably went to Melissa and “took” the petition from her explaining how she could handle the fallout. Now it seems they are trying to wipe off the fingerprints from the evidence.

    Something really stinks here. If the mayor takes the 5th then he signs away his political career. If he answers the questions it will show the people just what kind of mayor they really have.

    It should prove interesting. Keep your arms and legs in the moving vehicle while on the ride at all times and no flash photography.

  4. Mr. X
    August 12, 2014 at 3:06 am #

    I sense that many people feel the say way. They do say that taking the council Prez position is the “kiss of death”.

  5. Ron Kitterman
    August 12, 2014 at 3:48 am #

    Unbelievable….” I didn’t respond because I felt that you asking everyone the same question in a mass email and asking for all of our opinions was a violation of the open meeting law. “ No wonder the Mayor is calling for gag orders and lock downs in his office.

  6. PopKornSutton
    August 12, 2014 at 4:57 am #

    Will Tone be at the Council Meeting before hand to restore order? if necessary?

  7. gg
    August 12, 2014 at 5:27 am #

    Melissa should have consulted with Julia about what violates the open meeting laws. That’s the one thing she knows something about.

    If Melissa does not understand something as basic as this, what business does she have being President?

    At least she finally did speak with you Dan. We gotta give her credit for that. Mr. Bianchi on the other hand; we’re still waiting for him to respond to the planet.

  8. Dignified
    August 12, 2014 at 5:32 am #

    There she goes again using rules and laws to hide from the public.

  9. Gene
    August 12, 2014 at 6:46 am #

    The OML claim was a ruse. A reporter asking questions of public officials is the only way people even have half a chance of knowing what those officials are up to. Melissa should have remained at-large.

    I think she’s lost all credibility for the mayoral run that’s rumored.

  10. Sparkie
    August 12, 2014 at 6:51 am #

    I guess you can give MM the benefit of at least returning your calls; but her answers to your questions just simply prove that she is way over her head and really has no clue. I though she was an expert on open meeting laws after she turned her colleagues in to the ethics committee on the last council.

    All one has to do is look into her resume’ and you will find she is not qualified and has no prior life experience that would make her the head of any board let alone the President of the City Council.

  11. amandaWell
    August 12, 2014 at 7:27 am #

    The Mayor’s best option would be to pull the Radon card that was insinuated at o e of the press releases. Safety first!

  12. B. Clairmont
    August 12, 2014 at 8:10 am #

    I know this item is scheduled at the end of the agenda and will be taken late if it stays as item # 32. I have asked President Mazzeo to consider moving it up just before item #21 as there appears to be considerable public interest.

    I hope she allows the move, but cannot guarantee that will happen.

    Barry

    • Linda
      August 12, 2014 at 9:26 am #

      First I want to thank Councilor Clairmont for his efforts. Second I agree with him that the item should be moved up on the agenda.

      Please, Ms. Mazzeo, many many people are following this issue.
      It will be a big help to have it come earlier.

    • Spider
      August 12, 2014 at 10:27 am #

      If she doesn’t allow the move, it will make her look worse than ever. It could very well be her down fall.

    • darn mad
      August 12, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

      Your a good man Barry I was wrong about you. I was told to not vote for you or my ward counselor and it was the worst things they said about you oh better late than never!!!

      • GeoSims
        August 13, 2014 at 3:22 am #

        Who said? What was said?

  13. Johnny2Shoes
    August 12, 2014 at 8:54 am #

    Did a quick search on the net and found her campaign releases stating, Tax payers first, if elected . It didn’t say if the taxpayers would be first after being elected though.

  14. CraigS
    August 12, 2014 at 9:08 am #

    It is an interesting question, this open meeting law violation assertion…however I think it is bogus, and I might have a little proof.

    Let’s think about what the Open Meeting Law is really about, it is about stopping back room deals and golf course deliberation, it is about shining a light into those dark places where politicians and officials hide from who….whom….the public and the media! In what crazy, bizzaro world would talking to the 4th estate (or in this case the 5th estate -being a blog and all) be considered an open meeting law violation?

    If we follow Melissa’s “logic” any politician that spoke to constituents about an upcoming vote, be it the same constituent or a whole gaggle of constituents, would be in violation of the open meeting law if his or her comment was heard or seen by a quorum of other members of a committee. Does Melissa think if all the city councilors read the Berkshire Eagle and sees another councilor’s opinion, there is an OML violation?

    Now granted there is the concept of “round robin” deliberation…whereby a councilor may meet with councilors x, y, and z to discuss and deliberate on a topic but in a purposeful manner to never create a quorum …certainly that would be a problem!

    There may be also the issue of how the requests for information was sent out and responded to…

    If Dan sent the email out as one email to all the councilors, and in turn they each “replied all” with opinion, that would be a violation…not so much that they responded to Dan but because they responded and included the other members. It would be on the councilor that “replied all” for the violation…but again Dan notes they replied individually so no violation. Maybe in the future, if you are not doing it now…BCC all the councilors so if they accidentally “reply all” they will only reply to you.

    So I am wondering who came up with the idea that limiting the access of the press to politicians is somehow a violation of the OML, either in letter or spirit. I mean just think about it…the entire purpose of the OPEN meeting law is to allow GREATER access to deliberation of public officials by the public and the press.

    Now to the “proof”

    North Hampton has a similar issue, where public safety committee was interviewed after a meeting, by a reporter, about an upcoming vote. Each member gave an opinion to the reporter, it was actually recorded (video and audio) and everyone went on their way. I mention the video and audio recording only in that it would be the most DOCUMENTED violation of the OML there ever was…with REAL and HARDCORE proof. A citizen thought this was an open meeting violation complained, the council responded and their response was forwarded to the AG. The council, the AG and the ACLU (writing on behalf of citizens) all agreed that talking to a reporter about any topic before a board, even if everyone of them is standing in the same room at the same time, is not a violation (no determination by the AG)….so how could what Dan have done been one?!?!

    Now a reporter asking question of public officials can “absolutely be a violation” of the OML, maybe Melissa knows something that lawyers for the AG’s office, the ACLU and another City Council and their lawyers don’t.

    The onus of not violating the OML is on the elected official, not on the reporter…I find it chilling that Melissa would try and assert otherwise by asking you not to ask questions. (personally I think telling the press not to do their job should be a violation of something) I also find it very strange that the AG’s office that handles the OML would not actually send her a case and determination that is as PRECISELY on point as the Northampton case. Councilors, being asked questions by reporters, about a future vote on a topic presently before them, I mean it is a slam dunk as far as being on point to the situation at hand.

    Northampton

    Complaint and response:

    http://northamptonmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/9-30-Brocklesby-complaint-RESPONSE.pdf

    The AG’s opinion is OML 2011-12

    due to the poor design of the website you can not direct link to the searched decisions.

    http://www.oml.ago.state.ma.us/Search.aspx?section=1

    News Article about the issue
    http://northamptonmedia.com/blog/10/15/2010/no-open-meeting-law-violation-filing-states/

  15. levitan
    August 12, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    MM may be correct if she cc’d the City Council in response. Otherwise, responding to a constituent is not a meeting.

    • CraigS
      August 12, 2014 at 9:46 am #

      She would have to respond to a quorum of councilors

      • levitan
        August 12, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

        Actually I take it back. Cc’ing council members while responding to a reporter does not constitute a meeting. Councilmen, city commissioners communicate freely by email to establish schedules and routine business. Giving an opinion on a public document does not fall into sensitive waters.

  16. nostodumbass
    August 12, 2014 at 9:41 am #

    This whole hoopla revolves around wether the mayor will answer some questions regarding the move to 100 North St, not the move itself.

    Here is some free advise to the mayor:
    Just show up at open mic tonight with the petition in hand and answer the questions, step off and leave the room. Done.

    You know its one thing if the mayor chooses to spend his political capital on foolishness and lose the next election. Its his to lose. Quite another thing to drag Melissa Mazzeo and Barry Clairmont and the head of veterans affairs with him.

  17. amandaWell
    August 12, 2014 at 10:59 am #

    Would Caccamo.Krol,Clairmont and LOw be a quorum?

    • Tom Sakshaug
      August 16, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

      A quorum of the City Council would be a majority of the eleven members, or 6 councilors. Therefore, no.

  18. Nota
    August 12, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    Prediction: President Mazzeo kicks ass and takes names later!

  19. B. Clairmont
    August 12, 2014 at 2:17 pm #

    I heard back from President Mazzeo around 12:30 this afternoon. She said she doesn’t understand all the discussion surrounding this issue and indicated there was no need to move it up on the agenda.

    I reached out to her a second time to try and explain the reasons to her. I have not heard back and hold out little hope of this getting moved up.

    Barry

    • Spider
      August 12, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

      Barry: Why is she being so stubborn in not moving it up? Did she give you a reason?

    • I Care About Pittsfield
      August 12, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

      She doesn’t understand the fuss? Unbelievable. The mayor’s private company rests office space there. The real estate agent has been reported a personal friend of the mayor? The city offices are now in one building, rent free. According to DV column today the 3 years will near half million. And she doesn’t get ‘it?!!?

      • levitan
        August 13, 2014 at 9:26 am #

        I don’t see how moving the offices to a building benefits the Mayor who has no part in permitting processes. Could be a stretch to wonder if it provides benefit to his employer, but that would be a severe conflict of interest. I doubt Bianchi would risk such a blatant action.

        Maybe the subterrainian inhabitants of CH are hoping to evolve to a lit environment. If so, they’ll learn the hard truth of the corporate world. Large windows are immediately plastered over by cubicle walls to prevent workers from being distracted by the passage of Apollo across the heavens.

    • darn mad
      August 12, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

      WHAT? I HAVE NEVER BEEN TO A CITY COUNSELOR MEETING BUT IM GOING TONIGHT TO GIVE A PEICE OF MY MIND!!!

  20. Nota
    August 12, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

    Is PEDA still in business?

    • Quote
      August 12, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

      Mrs. Mazzeo said, “I set the agenda as I see it, not anyone else”.

    • Joe Blow
      August 12, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

      Yes, there was a article in the BB recently looking for more taxpayer $$$$.
      PITTSFIELD — City officials are seeking $500,000 for start-up costs associated with the construction of the 20,000-square-foot Berkshire Innovation Center at the William Stanley Business Park.

      To obtain half of that sum, Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi tonight will ask the City Council to consider a $250,000 allocation from the Pittsfield Economic Development Fund.

      The other half is expected to come from the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority, whose August meeting hasn’t officially been scheduled yet. PEDA is a quasi-public agency charged with the 52-acre Stanley Business Park’s development.

      In May, the city received a $9.7 million capital grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center toward the construction of the BIC. But the capital grant is slated only for the building’s construction and equipment costs, not for any additional funds that will be needed to get the facility up and running.

      “We’ve been given a brand new Cadillac with no gas,” said PEDA’s executive director Cory Thurston.

      The BIC has been proposed as an accelerator facility that will allow local companies that supply products for the life sciences industry access to advanced equipment that will enable them to improve their rate of innovation and product development. Job training in new technologies and educational opportunities also are expected to take place at the BIC.

      During a press conference on Monday at Berkshire Community College, project consultant Rod Jane said the startup costs are needed to get the programs at the BIC “underway” over the next two years. Plans call for the City Council portion of the funding to be disbursed in four payments over that 24- month period.

      Once the building opens, the BIC’s operating company, being set up as a nonprofit, will be responsible for all the facility’s operating costs.

      “It will take about 24 months to get the center designed, constructed and open the doors for operation,” Jane said. “It’s critically important that these 24 months be spent developing the programs that the center is going to offer because when those doors open this center has to start sustaining itself.”

      Those tasks include the formation of a membership list, fulfilling the legal requirements associated with forming the nonprofit organization, getting training programs and equipment in place, and setting up planned collaborations between institutes of higher learning and research facilities, Jane said.

      “All these things really need to be put in place,” Jane said. “And that will require a certain amount of effort to make sure we get it right so that we hit the ground with our feet running when those doors open.”

      On Monday, officials said they hope to have the BIC constructed by July 2016. The city originally wasn’t expected to receive the majority of the funding in the capital grant for another three years, but Jane said it’s possible that as much as $4 million of that sum could come the city’s way during fiscal 2015.

      According to Thurston, the city plans to use the capital funding from the state as leverage to obtain short-term bonds to stimulate cash flow.

      Monday’s gathering was intended to provide the public with more information about the BIC’s purpose. The city has received letters of intent from 19 firms that are interested in participating in the BIC, Jane said.

      Given the facility’s potential to grow local businesses, provide job training in sophisticated technologies, and allow collaborations between several entities to take place, Bianchi said the BIC could accelerate the county’s economic growth,

      “I think it’s going to be a game changer for this community,” he said.

      To reach Tony Dobrowolski:

  21. Mr. X
    August 12, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

    She won’t move up BC’s petition because he is her sworn #1 enemy. 2 names I keep hearing pop up for the Mayor race in 2015 is Rick Scapin and Tony Riellio.

    • Spider
      August 12, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

      Interesting! The two names I hear are Barry Clairmont and John Krol. I like both of them!!!!

    • Deb S
      August 13, 2014 at 4:22 am #

      If Scapin ever got in, you might as well welcome back Doyle..

  22. I Care About Pittsfield
    August 12, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

    I’m hearing Linda Tyer. I pray she runs.

  23. Spider
    August 12, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

    At this very moment, on channel 18 the mayor is explaining the move to 100 North St. complete with layouts. With him is Bruce Collingwood.

    It’s a done deal, folks!

  24. Nota
    August 12, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

    Yeah, he is basically saying screw you, Clairmont.

  25. amandaWell
    August 12, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

    Gee, LOw hasn’t even read the information about it?

  26. Scott
    August 12, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

    MM is very snobby. At least that’s how she comes off. I mailed her one time and she responded by saying you may not like the mayor but blah blah blah. I replied I’m sure the mayor is a wonderful person, a great husband and father but it’s his policy that’s flawed. This isn’t high school you guys are adults and public representatives of the people. Start acting like it. On Churchill I doubt he ever wen checks his email or responds to anything that doesn’t pertain to the Samuel Harrison house or his wards people directly.

  27. amandaWell
    August 12, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

    I think the Water Wizard just bitch slapped the mayor and Wbrk and the eagle, all in one sentence

  28. PopKornSutton
    August 12, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

    Looks like TES is visibly shaken after his proclamation. Water Wizard for Mayor!

  29. Lenny
    August 12, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

    I crack up at everyone lavishly praising Clairmont for his stance on the 100 North street move at $126k per year. What will you all say when he votes on item 21 for the $2M in raises for city department heads. What a distraction his petition is!

    • Lenny
      August 12, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

      Correction – $228K additional annual salary increase. Total salaries will now reach $2M.

    • levitan
      August 13, 2014 at 9:29 am #

      Lenny,

      You can’t be both up and down at the same time until you learn how to take mastery over even one thing. Such as your chair.

      While I acquired this skill years ago, removing your chair with your hands while seated is a good way to accomplish the sort of thinking you are advocating.

  30. Joe Blow
    August 12, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    If you look back when the raises were proposed,everyone posting here was against them.

  31. PopKornSutton
    August 12, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

    Caccamo says we are losing managers because of low pay. Where?

  32. amandaWell
    August 12, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

    Same city clerk, same treasurer, same assessor, same fire chief, police chief.

  33. Nota
    August 12, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

    The former community developement director was a political holdover for I stance. Morandi is the only one who has stuck to his principals. And he is correct.

  34. tito
    August 12, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

    You’re talking about paying managers and what not, what about paying those like the treasurer for instance. Do you really want to pay a raise?

  35. ouch
    August 12, 2014 at 6:19 pm #

    Hold your wallets folks, they just approve the salary increases for the citymanagers.

  36. Nota
    August 12, 2014 at 6:46 pm #

    very disappointed in Mazzeo, you know?

  37. Lenny
    August 12, 2014 at 7:33 pm #

    After watching the meeting tonight, I find it ironic that the State Ethics Commission assured Councilor Clairmont that he could vote for a raise for the City Clerk after disclosing a “personal relationship” with her; yet Councilor Amuso left the chambers for a vote on a catch basin on her street.

    • larry
      August 12, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

      More needs to be investigated in regards to Clairmont’s relationship as admitted with Tyler. Something doesn’t sound right. Didn’t she tell Donna Todd Rivers not to consider a recount because it would prove fruitless. Hmmm 16 vote difference. I Wonder

    • Mike Ward
      August 13, 2014 at 4:41 am #

      The latter case was an over abundance of caution. Do you not represent your neighbors?

  38. B
    August 12, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

    I turned on channel 18 waiting for the councilman meeting to start at seven. I just got the tail end of a show with the mayor and Bruce Collingwood, it appeared they were discussing the 100 North St. situation and everything seems so peachy clean. I saw very little of the show but what I did see made me think – I have a new name for TES, it is Pinocchio. Just my opinion. I think he was trying to answer some of the questions about 100 North street but doing it on his show where he had full control of questions and answers. This way he can tell the councilman just watch my show I’ve answered questions no need to go in front of the council. I don’t think he wants feedback as to what he has said. If he goes in front of the Council on September 2 watch out for the wagging finger or the clenched fist that bobs up-and-down with his thumb sticking in the air; (something that President Clinton used to do especially when he was asked questions about Monica). This is why the mayor should now be called Pinocchio, just my opinion but it seems to fit.

    • levitan
      August 13, 2014 at 9:33 am #

      This fist wagging thing is getting sort of spongy. It began as terrifying and life threatening, but now the thumb’s sticking out?

      • B
        August 13, 2014 at 6:20 pm #

        Yep