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!PLANET EXCLUSIVE! CITY VETs’ AGENT FRIERI SUSPENDED; MAYOR’S ACTION COMES ONE DAY AFTER PLANET’s STORY … CITY OFFICIALS FAIL TO RETURN REQUESTS FOR COMMENT

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY-THURSDAY, AUG. 6-7, 2014) — Yesterday, THE

ROSANNE FRIERI: Suspended? (Photo from Rosanne Frieri’s web page)

PLANET reported on information from a well-placed source about city of Pittsfield veteran’s agent Rosanne Frieri.

According to our source, Frieri — who on July 18 appeared on John Krol‘s Good Morning, Pittsfield radio/TV show — had been warned by the mayor through Julia Sabourin not to do the show or her job would be in jeopardy.

Sabourin is director of administrative services, the third woman to fill that position for Mayor Dan Bianchi in little more than a year (Donna Mattoon, Mary McGinness). This morning, THE PLANET confirmed that threat to Frieri.

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It’s not often that one gets the apparent confirmation of a story in so hasty, so timely, and so emphatic a fashion. The day after our story, Bianchi dumps his veterans’ agent. It didn’t take The Empty Suit long, did it?

Sources Say Suspension is Without Pay

Sources tell THE PLANET that on the same day our story ran (Tuesday), Bianchi suspended Frieri without pay.

FRIERI, BIANCHI: Reading her the riot act? (Photo iBerkshires)

According to sources, Pittsfield personnel director John DeAngelo entered Frieri’s office sometime in the afternoon asking her to accompany him to the mayor’s office. Frieri said she would do so only with accompanied by a neutral third party or legal representation, citing previous meetings with Bianchi that left her feeling bullied and harassed. Sound familiar?

A long line of folks have come forward, some on the record, to make similar claims of intimidation, browbeating, harassment, and strong-arming at the hands of the “altar-boy” mayor.

Sources say DeAngelo told Frieri that if she did not report, she could finish out the day and then consider herself suspended without pay. How different the treatment was for Bianchi’s fair-haired boy from the South, who was relived of his position at Berkshire Works after complaints about his actions while on the job. William Monterosso was suspended with pay.

THE PLANET finds it fitting that Bianchi didn’t have the guts to handle this personnel matter himself. In stead, he sent DeAngelo, “The Sheffield Shuffler,” to the task. The Shuffler, who either enjoys playing fetch or who has few professional qualms, obliged his master. We wonder, though, if later events that may unfold legally will cause DeAngelo to regret the action, especially suspending a department head verbally, with nothing apparently in writing. DeAngelo did not reply to our request for comment.

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THE PLANET caught up with Frieri this morning. She confirmed the suspension without pay. She said she wasn’t given a formal reason, nor was she told how long the suspension would run, adding that she was denied due process. That the suspension was verbal, with nothing in writing, THE PLANET finds highly problematic. We think the lawyers will as well, perhaps finding in this appalling lack of due process the meaty grounds for a fat lawsuit.

“I came back from vacation on Monday,” Frieri told THE PLANET. Yesterday, the personnel director came to my office and said ‘The mayor would like to see you.’” She said she told DeAngelo she wouldn’t report to the mayor because she was tired of being bullied by the mayor. The suspension followed. Frieri said the trouble began when she flew out to Chicago for a veteran’s conference and didn’t ask permission. The city made her eat her own expenses. She also agreed that appearing on Good Morning, Pittsfield was a major factor.

Frieri confirmed our original story, stating that she received an e-mail from Sabourin asking her not to appear on the show. Frieri countered with a valid point: She’s not just the veteran’s agent for Pittsfield. She also serves Dalton, Richmond, Lanesboro, Lenox, Peru, and Cheshire. Such media appearances are vital to the free flow of information, especially in the crucial area of veterans’ services. Nonetheless, after that appearance, as it turned out, Bianchi dumped her.

Frieri said she plans to meet with an attorney this week to discuss her next move. She says she intends to file charges.

“[Bianchi] doesn’t intimidate me,” Frieri said. “I’m not a doormat,” she said, adding that she refused to be treated like one.

Opinions may vary on Frieri’s effectiveness as a veterans’ agent, but there’s no wavering on a swift condemnation of the manner in which this suspension was enacted. No one deserves to be treated in such a shoddy manner. The mayor’s pattern in this regard is disturbing.

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Has Bianchi turned city hall into a whited sepulcher: Gleaming on the outside but inside full of stench and the bones of the dying and dead? (Photo City of Pittsfield)

Neither Bianchi nor DeAngelo (as we told you) returned our requests for comment. Neither did  city council president Melissa Mazzeo, who is a friend of Frieri’s. This is an administration, remember, that campaigned on and promised transparency. As for Mazzeo, she always returns our requests, promptly — but not this time.

We shall resist the temptation to speculate on the odd timing of our story yesterday and the suspension. It is, at minimum, coincidental in the extreme.

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Fearful, Insecure Restricting of Information Threatens Civic Health

A boss must be allowed vast leeway in setting communication policy for underlings — in the Dreaded Private Sector. In the public sector, the leeway narrows considerably. Beyond a person’s First Amendment rights to free speech, a department head or manager ultimately works for We the People, not the mayor, a point that Bianchi fails to grasp.

Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski have a right to two-way communication with their employees in public service. Department heads and managers, who have responsibility over their respective areas, must be allowed to speak freely with the press. We remind the mayor that the press, not His Lordship, serves as the most important safeguard of  good government.

It’s a pity THE PLANET is the only media outlet willing to impress this vital lesson in civics upon the clueless, arrogant mayor. We shall be the first to pronounce his once-honorable political career expired. The pity is that in destroying his own future through his present ineptness, Bianchi has managed to soil his past career in public life.

The largest question we save for last: What effect will this have on veteran’s services in Pittsfield? It can’t be a good one.

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“Believe half of what you see, son, and none of what you hear.” Marvin Gaye, “I Heard It through the Grapevine.”

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

 

39 Responses to “!PLANET EXCLUSIVE! CITY VETs’ AGENT FRIERI SUSPENDED; MAYOR’S ACTION COMES ONE DAY AFTER PLANET’s STORY … CITY OFFICIALS FAIL TO RETURN REQUESTS FOR COMMENT”

  1. Sillence Dogood
    August 6, 2014 at 7:56 am #

    I am starting to believe that Bianchi has a problem dealing with women. Is this due to problems with his wife, mother or both.

    • B
      August 6, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

      They say the way you act at work is the opposite to the way you act at home. Maybe he learned this behavior from his wife or mother? Maybe he’s had no power in his personal life so he’s now taking it out on the city of Pittsfield. Revolution!

  2. Shakes His Head
    August 6, 2014 at 8:03 am #

    I haven’t noticed Frieri’s BMW parked all day in the short-term parking next to City Hall lately. Maybe she finally got a parking pass rather than just taking up the close spaces the a tidal wave of contractors need…. if they dare enter the City Hall permit labyrinth.

  3. Russell Moody
    August 6, 2014 at 8:23 am #

    wow…

    That’s it…

    Wow–

  4. Tim
    August 6, 2014 at 8:28 am #

    Snitches get stitches. Especially in Dan Bianchi’s City Hall.

  5. C. J.
    August 6, 2014 at 8:47 am #

    Dan, the Sheffield Sycophant, aka the Sheffield Shuffler, aka the Sheffield Suck to wit: Suck the Pittsfield taxpayers dry while paying no Pittsfield taxes and retreating to Sheffield, is again a simple minded message boy. No wonder the Kolburne School failed under his leadership and again proved the vaildity of the Peter Principle.
    This minion claims (brags) to have intimidated The Planet from seeking further inquiries into the number of Pittsfield municipal employees that reside out of state and outside of the city limits by baffling DV with his astute citing of Mass general law.
    ” Say it ain,t so, Joe”

  6. Spider
    August 6, 2014 at 9:16 am #

    Since our City Council had to approve of her appointment during the Ruberto administration, where do they stand on any suspensions or firings?

    If they have to approve a hiring…..why not approve a firing?

  7. Downtown Dweller
    August 6, 2014 at 9:32 am #

    Mr. Bianchi is becoming quite the tyrant What possible reason could he have for wanting to silence the veterans’ agent? Mr. Mayor, what deep, dark, weasely secrets of yours did you think she’d betray? Attempting to silence people makes me wonder what else the mayor may be up to and what might he may be hiding. And how many more lawsuits are you going to open the city up to Mr. Mayor? You are proving to be a very expensive mistake for the city of Pittsfield.

  8. Still wondering
    August 6, 2014 at 9:34 am #

    While the veterans community is gladdened by the suspension, it does appear to us that there are several incidents of her behavior that added up to her suspension. And there is nothing untoward about the Director of Personnel taking the actions he did.
    The situation is dramatic enough without Dan adding his brand of gas to the flames.

  9. GMHeller
    August 6, 2014 at 9:42 am #

    Mr. Valenti,

    Ms. Frieri may not like getting browbeaten in Hizzoner’s presence, but she should at least have gone to the meeting upon the Mayor’s request. Not attending could technically be interpreted as insubordination.
    Better to have gone, taken notes, and remained silent than not to have attended at all.

  10. GMHeller
    August 6, 2014 at 9:44 am #

    Correction: Refusing to attend could technically be interpreted as insubordination.

    • nostrodumbass
      August 6, 2014 at 10:08 am #

      She asked to have a neutral 3rd party present and was denied. That is not insubordination.

      I hope she gets a good lawyer and hangs the Mayor out to dry.

  11. GMHeller
    August 6, 2014 at 9:50 am #

    Mr. Valenti,

    Is it true that Mayor Bianchi is just about to announce hiring Evan Dobelle to oversee departmental spending and also to act as Pittsfield’s overseas goodwill ambassador?

    • B
      August 6, 2014 at 11:55 am #

      Hiring someone who is in and out of the frying pan is like holding Pittsfield over a volcano and letting the whole city burn in hell. Oh I take that back, we are already in hell and Satan rules.

    • dust cloud
      August 6, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

      Well Dobelle certainly has the credentials to work for Pittsfield city hall. Would he get a new office over at Global MontiPython? Does Saborin like her new job being involved in dropping the hatchet? Is all that money she is being paid worth it to be at Mr lightning rod Bianchis side?

  12. nostrodumbass
    August 6, 2014 at 10:03 am #

    Wow.

    So Bianchi is putting teeth into his new press policy. She apparently did not get Bianchi’s permission to appear on Krol’s show. Good for her. I hope she sues the Mayor personally and the city of Pittsfield for all she can get. She has my full support. She didn’t want to put up with his finger wagging temper tantrum and she doesn’t have to. No one should have to.

    I hope the city council will also take up a vote of NO confidence in this mayor also. A recall is in order now.

    I think this mayor can easily be defeated in the next election.

    • joetaxpayer
      August 6, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

      I know the Mayor will be defeated, but will that make any difference. When was the last time a Mayor stood up to the big 3 ? Not sure Pittsfield voters will get it right, until it’s to late. Detroit here we come!

      • Roman Knows
        August 6, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

        Who are the big three?

        • joetaxpayer
          August 6, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

          Schools, Police and Fire departments.

  13. Jonathan Melle
    August 6, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    I am a 100 percent service connected disabled Veteran who served our country Honorably in the U.S. Army. I was helped by the Pittsfield Mass. Veterans’ Office by Larry Caprari. When I moved to Southern New Hampshire, Pittsfield still helped me with my VA case. I really appreciate Larry Caprari, who retired in early-2007, and his Pittsfield Veterans’ Office. I hope Larry Caprari is doing well in his retirement.
    I believe that neither Jimmy Ruberto nor Dan Bianchi care about Veterans!

  14. Ronnie
    August 6, 2014 at 11:59 am #

    This time TES has kicked veterans in the gut. Get him out!

  15. Donna Walto
    August 6, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    Dan,

    First of all let me thank you for the on line Fourth Estate. While technology has embraced the public, the public’s older generation, your parents and mine, are not informed by this new mode of technology. Therefore, many of our senior citizens are not informed about these current events. This mayor, has been hiding behind letters to the editor, rather than”taking the bull by the horns” and informing WE THE PEOPLE, about our city’s government. I find it troubling that so many good people have resigned, or in the case, if true, of Rosanne Frieri their employment with the City of Pittsfield, seems to be suspended or ended.

  16. PopKornSutton
    August 6, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

    Isn’t Frieri up for a retirement pretty soon?

  17. Evian
    August 6, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    In persnnel matters a person suspended never gets a “verbal” notice. There is always a writeup- one for the files & one for the employee, that is to prevent hesaid-she said in case of legal action which in this case looks to appear likely.

    I cant believe the mayor and mr. deangelo would leave the city so exposed.
    My uncle works in HR for a large company in Minneapolis. He couldn’t believe it either that the city would be so sloppy and negligent in this matter.

    My concern is now as a taxpayer with a new home just bought this year

  18. Mee Thinks
    August 6, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

    Everyone at city hall should stand up to this mayor’s bullying.
    DeAngelo won’t because he’s proven his brownose abilities.
    This mayor should be sued out of office.

    Enough of this crap already.

  19. B
    August 6, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

    Maybe Tes is smarter than we think. Let him bankrupt the city, let’s get a new high school and remodel the other high school, fixup our parks and roads. Just keep spending and make Pittsfield the perfect little city that everyone wants to move to. The sooner the city goes bankrupt the sooner we can be saved and have a new beginning with no debt, with Tes in charge it shouldn’t take long at all. The more we talk about Tes the worse he gets with that wagging finger of his. I say let him keep wagging his finger and let the lawsuits pileup, we will get there sooner. I just hope that people sue him personally because he is malicious in his acts. Break that wagging finger off him and hit him where it hurts.

    • Dave
      August 6, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

      He is not smarter, but he is definitely more arrogant, because the funding for the new school has to go before the voters as far as I know. I am so sick of the politicians telling me that just because we vote for a “possible scenario” that it doesn’t mean that it will definitely happen.
      My favorite example of this is Ward 5 councilor Lothrop, during the debate about the new charter.
      He MADE IT A POINT (when I called into his talk show) about why I may vote against the new city charter. I said I would vote against the charter for the SOLE reason that after so many years the school committee is a volunteer position-non paid- and would vote no because we couldn’t afford to pay them now for that 1 reason, councilor Lothrop (made it a point on the next show!!) that the new charter said “may” not “shall”. And before the ink dried Lothrop put in a petition to pay the school committee.
      Councilor Lothrop, you obviously read… explain !!!

      • dust cloud
        August 6, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

        Let me help you out there. Lothrup is a tool of the GOB. Though elected by the PEOPLE he really works for the establishment. His vow means nothing to him. He is a typical politician serving himself first and if the people should get a bone once in awhile well good for them.

        • Dave
          August 6, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

          thanks dust but I really want a response from councillor Lothrop.

  20. C
    August 6, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    It won’t be long before it turns into a class action suit that way he’s going.

    I agree B. Let the city go bankrupt because it will stop all this madness in its tracks. Pittsfield’s credit will plunge and the Federal Government will seize ownership.

  21. County-Wide gag order
    August 6, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

    “Frieri countered with a valid point: She’s not just the veteran’s agent for Pittsfield. She also serves Dalton, Richmond, Lanesboro, Lenox, Peru, and Cheshire.”

    So now this mayor thinks his dictatorship extends to all of Berkshire County? No F-ing way.

    Hopefully Miss Julia Sabourin’s email has enough in it to implicate her also in this gag order. She put it in writing after all. Hopefully she also will be sued.

  22. Linda
    August 6, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

    My main concern in all this, aside from Mr. Bianchi’s treatment of women who hold office or power, is the refusal of the mayor or Mr. DeAngelo to return Mr. Valenti’s requests for their input.

    Isn’t it obvious to them that DV has what looks like an infinte variety of sources more than willing to talk. Who is giving the mayor advice?

    I am so disappointed. I will vote for anybody but Mr. Bianchi.

  23. Jonathan Melle
    August 6, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

    This issue should be about the Veterans who live in Pittsfield! Now, because of Dan Bianchi, the Veterans who live in Pittsfield no longer have a Veterans’ Director while Rosanne Frieri is on involuntary unpaid leave.

  24. PopKornSutton
    August 6, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

    Isn’t the current Vet getter, a double dipper, also?

  25. ed shepardson
    August 6, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

    This is so entertaining.

  26. Another "Personal" Matter
    August 6, 2014 at 6:20 pm #

    So the official word from city hall is “Its a personal matter”.

    From IBerkshires.com:

    Pittsfield’s Veterans Agent Suspended; Reason Unclear
    By Andy McKeever
    iBerkshires Staff
    01:14PM / Wednesday, August 06, 2014

    PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Veterans Services Agent Rosanne Frieri was placed on administrative leave on Tuesday but city officials are not commenting on the reasons for the suspension.

    The city’s Director of Administrative Services Julia Sabourin said she cannot comment on the matter because it is a “personnel issue.”

    “She has been put on administrative leave without pay effective as of 4 p.m. on Aug. 5,” Sabourin said.

    When asked for reasons, Sabourin replied, “it’s personnel matters and we cannot discuss that.” She added that there is no specific timetable for Frieri’s return.

    Frieri has not yet responded to iBerkshires’ request for comment. She also serves as the veterans services officer for multiple other Central County towns. She was appointed veterans agent in 2007 by then Mayor James Ruberto.

    Frieri has more than 20 years of service with the military, including as a staff sergeant with Massachusetts Air National Guard. In 2010, she ran in the Republican primary for state representative in the 2nd Berkshire District.

    This is the second highly-placed public figure in Pittsfield to be suspended this year. William Monterosso, who earlier this year replaced John Barrett III as the head of BerkshireWorks, was suspended with pay and later resigned. Monterosso was appointed by Mayor Daniel Bianchi to run the agency, a collaboration of the state Division of Career Services and the Berkshire County Regional Employment Board.

    The city issued very limited information on that situation as well.

    Hotlink: http://www.iberkshires.com/story/47137/Pittsfield-s-Veterans-Agent-Suspended-Reason-Unclear.html?source=top_stories

  27. outfox
    August 6, 2014 at 8:26 pm #

    With or without the “megalo”, Bianchi is a maniac. This is too much. Who has the recall petition, and when and where can I sign it? As much as I am a believer in “give ‘em enough rope; they’ll hang themselves”, and see that happening here, really, enough. Get this guy out now.

  28. Scott
    August 7, 2014 at 3:34 am #

    “No one deserves to be treated in such a shoddy manner.” Isn’t this the woman you dubbed the ” trifecta minority”?

  29. Raising my hand
    August 11, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    I find it interesting that so much focus is being deflected from the veterans considering Frieri has treated most of them (us) with the same maltreatment that she is claiming she received from Bianchi. In my experience she has disallowed veterans to apply for benefits that they earned and has certainly not followed due process at all. No one knows why they’re not allowed to use the VSO office to access the services they so desperatley need to acclimate back into society and feel as though their cities and towns, being every one that she serves, has abandoned them and just wants to enjoy their freedom and forget. Your post said in closing that this article does not address her effectiveness in her duties but the treatment that she received that no one deserves. What about the Veterans? Must they continue to endure the same treatment at Ms. Frieri’s hands?