Article

A WARNING TO TROLLS … plus … GETTING TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SONSINI AFFAIR

BY DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI NEWS AND COMMENTARY

(FORTRESS OF SOLITYDE WEDNESDAY APRIL 11, 2018) — On this, the 57th anniversary of Carl Yastrzemski’s debut with the Boston Red Sox (1-for-4 off Ray Herbert, a 4-0 extra-inning win), THE PLANET does a tiny bit of housekeeping before we get on to the business of the day. We have been lenient with posts that add nothing to the conversation except to gum it up with absurdities as name calling, trumpets of “Fake news,” “You are fake news,” and other similar nonsense.

Be warned, offenders. THE PLANET‘s editorial hand has gotten at once heavier to be on the quick to banish repeat offenders and lighter to move swiftly in bouncing off all who insist on trolling. Therefore, pay heed. You know who you are. We offer this board as a privilege, not a right. It is unique among all local and regional sites for giving our readers information that cannot be had anywhere else, with an honesty that comes from fearing no one, premised on facts and driven by the commentary that only comes from a forthright attempt to get the story right and to always be truthful.

Abide.

End of sermon.

——— ooo ———

THE PLANET has recently been in touch with principals involved in the controversy over the Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter. It’s been a story hard to pin down, with the city and the Friends of Sonsini making competing claims. Here’s the skinny on what we’ve learned. Our sources have been from both sides of the case, those most closely involved.

(1) The Sonsini will not close. After the Friends vacate the city-owned property on Hubbard Avenue no later than the end of this month, they will take the animals entrusted to its care and for whom it has responsibility. Sources say the Friends will seek to open a new facility, with a new name, organizational structure, and operational process. Meanwhile, the city will maintain the Sonsini facility on Hubbard. Animal control officer Joe Chague will be responsible there on a temporary basis. The city plans to reach an agreement with a new group of animal lovers, with a new manager and board. Chague will have charge of all animals within the city’s jurisdiction.

The city retains control of all animals surrendered to the facility for 10 days. After that, they are turned over for adoption to the Friends. The non-profit received about $50,000 a year for its services. Incidentally, Pittsfield is required by law to operate an animal control center.

(2) THE PLANET has confirmed that the Friends made an offer to buy the building on Hubbard Avenue from the city. The only problem is that the building was not, is not, and will not be for sale. One can’t buy something that the owner won’t sell. The Friends are reportedly interested in relocating to a facility on Crane Avenue. If that happens, the facility would operate independently of the city.

(3) You can put to rest the wild speculations of the rumor mill, which had that one of area’s Big Shots (among The Suits, The Connected) has been behind the push to “drive the Friends out” so that this person/family could use the location for some unspecified business opportunity. This speculation has no truth to it and appears to be a tale begun by opponents of the mayor who wanted to cover their tracks. What tracks? That part of the story isn’t clear.

(4) The city can, and did, cancel its contract with the Friends, with or without cause. It gave the required 30-day notice and has acted entirely within its legal rights.

(5) The city was driven to take action because of numerous reports over a period of time (beginning late 2017 and continuing) that the Friends were letting animals for adoption that hadn’t been properly evaluated, medically treated, or qualified — in short, that it failed in living up to its terms of the contract with the city.

(6) With Stacey Rossi, Friends’ attorney, agreeing that the city acted properly (legally) and that they would abide by the evacuation order, the group should have no quarrel with either the city or the mayor. It should retreat quietly and, if it wishes, open its own facility for animals. There have been murmurings of financial irregularities occurring with respect to the Friends operation of the shelter, but no public accusations have been made. THE PLANET cannot at this point determine the reliability of those whisperings.

With all that, and in the interests of presenting a more panoramic view, THE PLANET shares the text of a letter sent to us by Krista Wroldson Miller, chairwoman of the Friends of Sonsini. We present it edited only for continuity, without comment, which we leave to you, our dear readers.

LETTER FROM KRISTA WROLDSON MILLER TO THE PLANET

“[Here] is the letter that the city council received (and was forwarded to you) concerning the shelter. Although it is accurate, I did not write it. However, in the letter is a dropbox link (https://www.dropbox.com/sh/1zgp3977eu3jl2s/AABgPgt9sdpk6UD1gOv1G-Q9a?dl=0) with a treasure trove of documents. The smoking gun (pardon the reference) is Exhibit A51. It is a Facebook conversation between Renee Dodds (of the Animal Control Commission) and our former manager, Lori Robertson. They speak of Renee’s meeting with the mayor and their goal of removing Judith and I from the Board at Sonsini.

“For the record, Judith and I have requested an audit from the State Auditor Susan Bump’s office (to clear our names as we have been the victims of a vicious smear campaign by the former employees working for Renee, Renee herself and our former manager). The State Auditor will ONLY perform an audit if it is requested by the municipality. Linda [mayor Tyer] hasn’t requested one; I have to wonder why. If all the rumors were true, then WHY would we still be asking for one?

“According to Renee, it seems that the mayor intends to turn the shelter (and its contract) over to her (who I suspect will be starting a 501(c)(3) shortly) and possibly rehiring the manager that wasn’t properly caring for the animals. Renee is a former board member and owed Sonsini a duty of loyalty. The Mayor has NO plan for the animals except to have Officer Chague take care of them, in addition to his regular job. (Sonsini has never operated with less than 2 full time key people.) Animals WILL die (investigate the ACO’s ability to handle the dogs as well). And we will be gone and unable to stop it.

“Following this meeting with Renee, Linda also refused to reappoint me to the Animal Control Commission. (I suspect that the ACC will be addressing the shelter issue – and removing me ensures that the truth remains hidden.) Without a voice on the ACC, I am stuck with the 3 minutes of open public comment at the beginning of the meeting to get the real story out there. Furthermore, I feel that my continued engagement on these issues will only hurt the shelter as we rely on donations. Despite the current climate, we will be there on the 12th (ACC meeting) to announce our plans for the future.

“I am reaching out to you because I believe that you might be the only person that the Mayor’s office cannot muzzle.

“I am hopeful that you can get to the bottom of this.”

——— 000 ———

We thank Miller for the letter.  THE PLANET has gotten to the bottom of it. Each party — Miller and Friends, the mayor, and other with a dog in the fight — says it wants only what’s best for the animals.

God save us from those with good intentions.

That bottom? THE PLANET wonders if it’s a false bottom. We trust that it’s not, but only time will tell.

Our chief concern is for the welfare of innocent animals who only have us, people, to advocate on their behalf.

———————————————————————————————-

“Watch out for No. 1, but when you do make sure you don’t step in No. 2”Rodney Dangerfield

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

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153 Responses to “A WARNING TO TROLLS … plus … GETTING TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SONSINI AFFAIR”

    • Steven Dean
      April 12, 2018 at 2:59 pm #

      Very well put and agreed. All properly educated people agree there is no collusion

  1. The school committee
    April 12, 2018 at 2:37 pm #

    Pittsfield School Department is the enemy of the City of Pittsfield.We just cant afford how McCandless run this department. McCandless know we cant afford it but wants to be considered a moral leader in education and not a department head with a budget. The cusdodial leader makes 60 k and does little and he is really just another assistant to Mrs Behnke.I saw 3 people sitting accross from Miss Taylor making 8 k and I thought how do they pay bills. Judging from how the run the department they will never have enough money

  2. Unwanted Carl
    April 12, 2018 at 2:56 pm #

    Captai. Carl my favorite player. You hear over and over, but he was a Players Player.

  3. h
    April 12, 2018 at 3:50 pm #

    I have to laugh at the Animal Control Commission meeting,there were complaintants concerning barking, everytime a neighbor goes into her own yard the dogs in the area bark,blah blah blah.

    But during the Meeting, the Chairman as well as a couple members had to tell the audience to keep quiet because they were barking (talking)themselves during the meeting. You can’t make it up, outer West Street residents.

    Trump didn’t mention the other day anything about the DOW tanking almost 600 points, but was saying today how great the DOW was doing today, then again patted himself on the back.

    • Steven Dean
      April 13, 2018 at 12:37 am #

      How does mentioning our president at all advance the conversation?