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’
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.
“I got blisters on my fingers.” — Ringo Starr, from The Beatles‘ White Album, (1968).
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.