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BULLETIN—EX-CLUB DIRECTOR PETER BELL DIES … PEOPLE WIN SMALL VICTORY IN ’100GATE’ AS COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY PUSHES BACK AT MAYOR IN SUPPORT OF CLAIRMONT’S PETITION … plus … LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

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ED. NOTE — THE PLANET is saddened to hear of the death of former Boys and Girls Club Director Peter Bell, who died Tuesday. A source told THE PLANET that Bell died “from a fall off of a roof. I guess he got his legs tied up as he was working on a roof prior to a party for his daughter. Everyone is in shock at the Club.” THE PLANET sends our condolences to the Bell family. We are sad for their loss.

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(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, AUG. 14, 2014) — Last night, our Right Honorable Good Friends on the Pittsfield city council won a small victory for their bosses, We The People. They handed the sinking mayor a stinging political defeat.

Led by councilor-at-large Barry Clairmont, the mayor’s co-governors pushed back on “100gate.” THE PLANET shall keep the champagne corked and the dancing girls in rehearsal, however. The game still has a long way to go.

Clairmont forced a vote on his petition, which requests an appearance by mayor Dan Bianchi at the council’s next meeting, on Sept. 2. The petition asks the mayor or his representative to answer a list of question prepared by Clairmont regarding Bianchi’s controversial, wastefully expensive proposal to relocate 40% of city hall into 100 North St.

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‘Calling TES, Calling TES … Come in, Please”

On Sept. 2, Bianchi must drag it into council chambers and dance for his supper. He’s on political life-support as it is. Snubbing the council on Sept. 2 would instantly turn him fatally radioactive, a “walking dead” political cadaver. In the end, it make not change much, but Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski, the ordinary citizens in whose face this mayor has repeatedly spit, will take any ray of hope they can get, however symbolic.

And maybe, just maybe, the council — in unanimous support of hearing from the mayor — will see the folly of this move and find a way to stop it. Perhaps even TES himself will have a change of heart, convinced by the logic or by the certain knowledge that “100gate” is political poison. Of course, We The People could rise up and bring this folly to an immediate end by flexing the collective muscles, but apathy injects too much pragmatism into such hoped-for projections. We must not lapse into wishful thinking.

Why is ’100gate’ Such a Stupid Idea?

To answer this questions, let’s use dispassionate logic. As THE PLANET has shown:

* The move would be to a building where Bianchi has offices in his lucrative day-job in the Dreaded Private Sector. He’s manager for Larry Global Mondello, a.k.a., Global Montello energy group.

* Global Montello has paid rent for Bianchi’s suite on the third floor for years.

* Bianchi, who claims to be a “full time” mayor, has admitted he still works for Global.

* The city space would be one floor down from Bianchi’s Global office. And citizens are upset over the hours TES spends on Global work as it is? Just wait.

* Sources tell us Bianchi and the rental agent for 100 North, David Carver, are friends.

* The space on the second floor has been empty for quite a while. It has been a hard sell for the landlord.

* The RFP drew no other responses except the one from Scarafoni. Imagine that: The only bidder is the landlord of 100 North. What an amazing coincidence. In another astounding conflux of the stars, Carver is brother-in-law of company principal and downtown “player” Gary Scarafoni,

* At minimum, these relationships give the impression of conflict of interest; at maximum, the many possibilities rise to criminality. They are only possibilities, mind you, but such has been known to happen in politics. See: “Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall.”

* The three-year lease will cost city taxpayers up to $500,000 for offices that now are housed at 70 Allen St., city hall, rent-free.

* Affected city workers THE PLANET talked to have unanimously opposed the move.

* The move has received kid-glove coverage in the local media, especially The Boring Broadsheet. Keep in mind that Scarafoni is also rental agent for Clocktower Condos, adjacent to the brick-and-fern white elephant that is home to The BB. Much of the massive hulk is still empty. Keep in mind, as well, the legal advertising the city throws to The BB as the only local daily. You don’t think any of this explains The BB‘s “hands off” policy in covering this story, do you? As Dickens’ Chizzlewitt might put it, “Makes ya’ feel all tight ‘n cozy like, ain’ it, guv?”

* The mayor has refused to answer the media’s questions about this questionable deal. The most he’s done is play patty cake with The BB and talked about it with DPU chief Bruce Collingwood on the mayor’s dreadfully boring TV show. Collingwood spoke while sitting on the mayor’s lap. TES flipped the switch up and down that control’s Collingwood’s mouth. At one point, the even mayor drank a glass of water while Collingwood spoke. How did he do that? Amazing! Bianchi on TV is so boring that watching paint dry seems comparatively like buzzing a helicopter into the mouth of an active volcano, blindfolded.

Aside from this Dirty Dozen of points, “100gate” represents public policy at its best.

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Pittsfield Goings-on ‘Unbelievable’

TO THE PLANET:

What is going on in the city of Pittsfield is absolutely unbelievable. Is it possible that no bidding requirements for governmental contracts, no RFP standards, no arm’s length independent bidding polices were violated in “100gate?”

Is the position of veterans’ agent a competitive civil service position? What are the rights of the mayor to terminate without cause?

Is there any outcome of Berkshire Works’ Dan Collins (et al) human rights complaints filed a year ago and then this spring? It’s been two months since the Berkshire Works posting came down, and then [ex-director William] Monterosso was on paid leave for several months, so the agency has been without a director for quite an extended time. Is it possible the mayor has run out of friends?

This reads like some Tammany Hall-Boss Tweed history lesson of government corruption. — Salt City Sam

PLANET RESPONDS: Sam, Boss Tweed himself would feel quite at home in the open sewer of Pittsfield politics, particularly the corner-office variety.

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Mazzeo’s Open Meeting Law Claims ‘A Ruse’

TO THE PLANET:
If councilor Clairmont’s petition isn’t on the agenda, how could council president Mazzeo claim that your questions were a violation of the Open Meeting Law? You were asking councilors for an opinion on placing it on the agenda. You were not asking them to deliberate over it.  I’m sure the AG’s office answered it after the question was carefully worded.

I don’t think that her response [to you] falls within the scope or the spirit of the law. How is the public supposed to have an informed discussion if the reps will not give out that information, especially to (and through) the press?

To use an analogy, the city council routinely supports petitions and motions demonstrating support for an issue and forwarding that on to state reps. Those are part of the record. By accepting those results from the council, are the state reps now in violation? I think not.

A ruse is what I think this is — Joe Pinhead

PLANET RESPONDS: Thanks, Joe. What amazed me is when Mazzeo sent the two cases from the AGs office. In both, no Open Meeting Law violations were found! That hardly is the way to support the claim that our polling of councilors was in violation.

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‘PLANET’ Doing ‘Great’ Work

Discovered your blog today and was so impressed I had to write and let you know how great I think it is.

I was born and raised in Dalton and have spent the last decade in the Navy.  I always keep track of what is going on in Pittsfield and have found the lack of progress as well as choices for elected leaders disheartening and sad.

As I continue to read of each frustrating issue in the Mayor’s office, I get an even stronger urge to do something about it.  In that search for ideas, I found your blog and think it is outstanding. Please keep it up.

Are there any candidates for Mayor next year?  Four more years of Mr. Bianchi seem like they may be intolerable.  Thanks for your time and I appreciate you journalism. — Chris

PLANET RESPONDS: Chris, appreciate the kind words, and we congratulate you in your discovery of THE PLANET. Do keep that spirit of involvement alive. It has been a vain hope up to now, but it remains a hope still that enough good people such as yourself will reach a critical mass and explode exponentially into a true citizens’ movement that would sweep all the nonsense and all the nonsense makers. As for mayor, we’re hearing a bunch of names, including John Krol, Linda Tyer, Melissa Mazzeo, Kevin Sherman, Denis Guyer, Mike Ward, and Dan Valenti. These are just names at this point, but from this list a few should emerge as actual candidates. 

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“I got blisters on my fingers.”Ringo Starr, from The BeatlesWhite Album, (1968).

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

This

35 Responses to “BULLETIN—EX-CLUB DIRECTOR PETER BELL DIES … PEOPLE WIN SMALL VICTORY IN ’100GATE’ AS COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY PUSHES BACK AT MAYOR IN SUPPORT OF CLAIRMONT’S PETITION … plus … LETTERS TO THE EDITOR”

  1. dusty
    August 14, 2014 at 1:38 am #

    What about Marchetti for mayor. I assume the GOB money that backed him last time is still looking for a candidate. I hear that there is a mayor in Toronto that may be looking for a job and he might fit right in with the mayoral lineage of Pittsfield.

    • levitan
      August 14, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

      Marchetti was hardly inspirational. Plus, he led the Charter Committer. We all hate the Charter, right?

      • T-bone
        August 14, 2014 at 6:32 pm #

        Marchetti? Nope. Just the other side of the same coin. He’s be just as bad. I want someone from the out-side.

      • #nomorebianchi
        August 15, 2014 at 7:39 am #

        Marchetti did not lead the charter commission. He was just a member of the board.

      • levitan
        August 15, 2014 at 11:24 am #

        #NomoreBianchi,

        Marchetti was Vice Chair. So, he did not lead the Committee, but had leadership role on it.

    • Scott
      August 14, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

      The funny thing is mayor Ford actually saves the tax payers money and people love him. It’s the status quo trying to out him. We need a Rob Ford to cut spending and privatize things like school buses, sewer/water and trash collection.

  2. Ron Kitterman
    August 14, 2014 at 3:32 am #

    http://www.iberkshires.com/story/47195/Pittsfield-to-Demo-Derelict-Dry-Cleaners-for-City-Hall-Parking.html

    What cool spot for the city planners at the proposed 100 North Street to park, I know its a little bit of a hike in the winter months but most of the year it should work out just fine…

    • Deb S
      August 14, 2014 at 6:05 am #

      My thinking is, its for the Allegrone’s high end apartments for parking, you look at the photos and the dry cleaners building is gone. Only time will tell.

    • Dry Cleaners hung out to dry
      August 14, 2014 at 6:34 am #

      Ah yes, Stetson Cleaners. Seems like that place fell from grace 30 years ago. I always wondered as a yoot what really goes on in there while waiting in the Burger King drive thru.

      Now axe yourself, why would a building in a bustling thriving metropolis as is Pittsfield, a prime piece of real estate corner lot in the heart of downtown fall into disrepair and be abandoned?
      Could it be that the taxes on it are just too damn high?

      Houses and business in Detroit that have been abandoned because they could not be sold and the owners could not afford to pay the taxes on, that city is bulldozing back to the earth.

      Stetson Cleaners is just the beginning of what’s in store for good ole Pittsfield Massachusetts.

      • DowagerHat
        August 14, 2014 at 9:47 am #

        Dry Cleaners,

        You are so right.

    • Dry Cleaners hung out to dry
      August 14, 2014 at 6:38 am #

      Also, if the city already owns it, why tear it down?
      Why not renovate it and move the offices in question there?
      I bet it would cost less than what the Mayor found in the couch cushions for a “rented” building.

      All it would cost is a one-time renovation and from there on – free.

      • dusty
        August 14, 2014 at 11:57 am #

        You will never be selected to be on any city boards with a mindset like that. Where would the graft, kickbacks and back door deals come from?

        But it would be nice if let’s say John, Krol, asked the mayor why that would not work.

        • T-bone
          August 14, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

          Krol? He’s another one. As mayor he’d be anotehr tax an spender, worse than TES.

    • C. J.
      August 14, 2014 at 7:02 am #

      Anyone who parks there may be able to be safely escorted to 100 North St. by the downtown Police Student Ambassadors. How is that program working ?

      • Scott
        August 14, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

        Ask RJ Sthor their glass was broken and they were burglarized but no one noticed until a Good Samaritan walking by in the am saw the glass and reported the crime.

  3. nostrodumbass
    August 14, 2014 at 5:16 am #

    So the mayor has rewarded all his buddies with a nice pay raises and will further reward them with brand new offices at 100 North St. He will be getting one whom he doesn’t like out of his way on friday. Officially.

    Just remember all this when they set the new tax rates at record highs. Remember Melissa’s words on raising taxes, “We have to”.

    Tax & Spend. A way of running govt – so easy a kindergardner could do it.

    Now onto the new High school and new water treatment plants.

    • DowagerHat
      August 14, 2014 at 9:44 am #

      nostrodumbass,

      You forgot the new police station.

  4. Hail to the cheif
    August 14, 2014 at 5:47 am #

    Those in the new cubicles can clap their hands and those in the new offices can just rattle their jewelry.

  5. T-bone
    August 14, 2014 at 7:48 am #

    I’m sad to hear about Peter Bell. A fine man.
    100gate makes no sense at all except that it helps Bianchi do more work for Larry Mondello without the People knowing and that it helps his friend Mr. Carber.

    • DowagerHat
      August 14, 2014 at 9:46 am #

      Bianchi needs to go before he bleeds this city dry.

  6. FloggingMolly
    August 14, 2014 at 7:58 am #

    You mean the Downtown Ambassadors that are the worst example of pedestrian crossing laws???

  7. Bureau Crat
    August 14, 2014 at 11:12 am #

    The frustration is at the lack of accountability the mayor seems to achieve for his actions. With his connections and broad hopelessness of the people, he appears invulnerable to the complaints voiced here (and few other places).

    I believe that it is safe to assume: 1. That the council and the other elected officials will have little ability or power to stop his steamroller agenda. 2. That the citizens will not react to these items until the budget reaches their tax bills or his actions adversely impact them personally and 3. that the 4th estate, the media has, except for Planet Valenti, abdicated their responsibility as watchdogs of the public interest.

    Therefore, it appears that the only way to place a check on the mayor run amuck is to examine each action as it may violate municipal purchasing regulatiion, civil service law and regulation, union contract, municipal bidding and contract requirements, human rights and affirmative action laws and policies and to bring specific concerns to the state and/or federal officials responsible for the enforcement of these laws, policies and procedures.

    As someone said, “All it takes for evil to triumph is for men of good will to do nothing.”

  8. Spider
    August 14, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

    If the city owns the dry cleaning bldg., would it be possible to clean it up (get rid of all contaminates), rehab and move the 40% of City Hall now scheduled to move to 100 North for basically the same amount of money it will cost for the move to a private owner?

    And the taxpayer is off the hook for yearly rent for a private owner?

    What are the pros and cons?

  9. Ron Kitterman
    August 14, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    A Pittsfield paradise and the put up a parking lot…..

  10. Nota
    August 14, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

    remember when Peter Paul and Mary stayed overnight at the old Hotel.

  11. levitan
    August 14, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

    I can’t get my mind off which Councilperson runs a gambling operation.

    • ed shepardson
      August 14, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

      Right in front of your eyes, Mr. Levitan.

      • levitan
        August 14, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

        Really? That’s astounding! Why I couldn’t have come up with such a way to make money is beyond me.

        • MrG1188
          August 15, 2014 at 7:10 am #

          You are not as well-connected and would have been arrested immediately! Or soon after

  12. Ron Kitterman
    August 14, 2014 at 6:20 pm #

    My prediction is the Mayor borrows Hillary’s reset button tomorrow and save Pittsfield millions of taxpayer $$…

  13. Jonathan Melle
    August 14, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

    NEWS ARTICLE:

    “Pittsfield Veterans’ Agent Faces Termination Hearing Friday”
    By Jim Levulis, WAMC Northeast Public Radio, August 14, 2014

    A Pittsfield employee’s job hangs in the balance with a hearing scheduled for Friday. It could determine whether the city’s veterans’ agent will remain employed.

    Friday’s termination hearing comes just over a week after Mayor Dan Bianchi suspended Rosanne Frieri without pay.

    “There were concerns I had about her performance and when she decided not to meet with me, the decision was pretty easy to put her on administrative leave,” said Bianchi.

    Reached by phone Wednesday, Frieri said she was uncertain if she will show up for Friday’s hearing and directed further questions to her attorney, Al Cimini. Cimini did not return a call seeking comment. Speaking with The Berkshire Eagle, Frieri was quoted as saying she refused to meet with Bianchi unless a third party was involved, claiming she had been “badgered” by the mayor during an earlier meeting in his office.

    Bianchi has also come under fire from Medford resident Doreen Wade, who claimed similar actions on the part of the mayor. Wade, a black woman, said Bianchi made racist comments to her and then physically intimidated her by standing over her during a subsequent meeting in his office with Will Singleton, president of the Berkshire County NAACP Chapter, in the room. Singleton has said the mayor got agitated during that meeting, but never left his seat. Bianchi has said Wade’s claims of racism are false.

    “As far as Ms. Frieri, I guess when certain people get into hot water they fabricate things,” Bianchi said. “I think that’s exactly what’s happening here. Anybody that knows me, and I’ve got five decades of history, knows that I’m not a bully and knows that I treat people fairly and you can ask anyone in this building.”

    Former Mayor James Ruberto appointed Frieri to the nearly $50,000 a year-position, which handles state and federal benefits for more than 130 of the city’s veterans, in 2007. The position was included among adjusted pay scales allowing for increases based on longevity and performance approved by the City Council earlier this week. Frieri also serves as veterans’ agent for the towns of Lenox, Dalton, Cheshire, Peru, Lanesborough and Richmond. Mayor Bianchi says Pittsfield’s veterans are still being adequately served in Frieri’s absence.

    “We’re fortunate to have another person in that office that does a very good job,” Bianchi said. “I immediately got a call from the Veterans Services Department in Boston who understood what kind of situation we were dealing with here in the city of Pittsfield and they stepped right up and said any help we can give you. I’ve gotten calls from many, many veterans who’ve offered to help.”

    According to The Berkshire Eagle, Frieri is also considering legal action against the city and Mayor Bianchi. The termination hearing is set for 10:30 a.m. Friday at Pittsfield City Hall.

    http://wamc.org/post/pittsfield-veterans-agent-faces-termination-hearing-friday

  14. p
    August 14, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

    I know many city workers that took a job because they needed one, not necessarily for the money at the time. benefits do count.

  15. PopKornSutton
    August 15, 2014 at 8:21 am #

    What does WBRK see in the DTR show? Today they have Meg Whilden on. At least change it up once in a while!

    • Evian
      August 15, 2014 at 8:59 am #

      WBRK doesn’t see a thing. No-thing. No news. No-thing. DTR is wnat the station wants tame filler that wont get into controversy.

  16. Ron Kitterman
    August 15, 2014 at 9:40 am #

    Let’s face it WBRK could have Al Sharpton on and the numbers would be the same.