Article

MAZZEO: SEWER RATE HIKES TO TOP 400% AFTER COUNCIL’s ‘FLAWED VOTE’ ON UPGRADE

BY DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI NEWS AND COMMENTARY

(FORTRESS OF SOLIUTUDE THE WEEKEND EDITION APRIL 27-29, 2018) — THE PLANET called the flip-flop of Donna Todd Rivers long before Tuesday night, when she “got religion” and voted to approved borrowing for a $74 million upgrade to the Pittsfield sewer facility. When she first ran for office, we identified her penchant for backflips, the kind indicative of an insecure personality who needs everyone’s approval. THE PLANET won’t delve further into the psychology displayed by DTR’s vote, other than to say we called that one, too.

Bottom line: Rivers flipped because she couldn’t withstand the pressure from six of her colleagues — Moon, Caccamo, Simonelli, Persip, Krol, and Marchetti, particularly the latter two. Moon and Persip be rookies, and they have quickly learned that their submissive role in winning their masters’ approval on such high-ticket items. At this point, they are council back benchers. Caccamo and Simonelli sit back-bench as veterans who love to collect their $8,000 stipend but not bother themselves with the policy details that once served as prerequisites to office. That leaves Krol and Marchetti, two of a certain kind who define “bravery” as the first inserting a helpless victim’s cocoanut in a vice and the second turning the screw handle. They don’t like fair fights.

On the sewer vote, citizens should retain a long memory that Kevin Morandi, Chris Connell, and Melissa Mazzeo acted in the best interests of their constituents. THE PLANET notes that citizens, not offices, constitute the city. People, not policy, must come first, and the righteous trio voted in a way that understood this critical distinction. They did their homework and knew the EPA’s demand mounted to the onerous burden of an unfunded mandate. The EPA demands could have been successfully turned back in court on the basis that the federal government has no authority to order a city as beleaguered financially as Pittsfield to “invest” $74-80 million in a sewer system that’s already in compliance.

In an exclusive to THE PLANET, Mazzeo blasted the end run performed by the Tyer Administration to fix the sewer vote.

Mazzeo said she, Connell, and Morandi asked the mayor for “a face-to-face meeting with EPA officials to discuss the issues regarding the 2008 draft permit.” That permit referred to the city’s initial appeal to the EPA over the new regulations, an effort Pittsfield lost, Mazzeo said, “because of horribly inept paperwork.” Mazzeo viewed such losing on a technicality as “a $74 million mistake that had to be re-addressed.” Mazzeo, Connell, and Morandi then asked the mayor to reach out to federal officials for help. The mayor sent a letter to Congressman Richie Neal, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Sen. Ed Markey but, Mazzeo said, Tyer ignored Mazzeo’s request to see the letter before it went out.” To date, the text of the letter remains secret, begging the question: Did the letter reflect the concerns of Mazzeo, Connel, and Morandi (acting on behalf of citizens, who cannot absorb more water and sewer costs), or was it worded to get the Washington bunch behind the effort to ramrod the update through without proper diligence?

Mazzeo said that after the council’s initial 4-7 vote to deny the borrowing needed to fund the project, a week went by without hearing anything from the mayor. She then requested meeting with Tyer “to discuss what to do next. The mayor and her entourage said they were waiting on a meeting with Alex Dunn from the state Department of Environmental Protection,” Mazzeo said. “I told the mayor I would want to attend that meeting, and Chris did, too. The mayor made no comment to my request. On April 3, out of the blue, the mayor called me to tell me she was on her way to meet with Dunn and others. I again said I wanted to attend, but the mayor put me off, saying that she would ask my questions for me. I viewed that presumption as a slap in the face not to me but to the citizens and businesses of Pittsfield, since I, like she, hold a citywide office. I had every right to attend what turned out to be a closed meeting.”

Mazzeo called the meeting the mayor had with MADEP “a joke.”

“I wanted to attend but wasn’t allowed. Only the people who supported the sewer upgrade were there.”

In short, Mazzeo said, the mayor made sure to tilt the playing field. If true, that would place the council’s approval Tuesday night as a vote under duress, since it occurred with incomplete, even false, information. THE PLANET has learned that attendance at the key meeting was limited to Mayor Tyer, Peter Marchetti, DPW chief Turocy, and city consultant Al Wells — all staunch advocates of the wanton spending. No critics of the plan were there to voice the reasonable concerns over a project with more holes than Blackburn Lancashire.

“The rest is history,” Mazzeo said. “After the meeting, the mayor ran to The [Berkshire] Eagle and made her statements, all before we even got our letter [from the EPA]. I sent an e-mail to the mayor telling her I was not happy that she would not be at the council meeting on Tuesday. She wrote back that [finance director] Kerwood [city attorney] Dahoney were capable of handling all the questions. So that’s it in a nutshell: A flawed vote that will raise sewer rates more than 400% in the next five years, and we don’t even know what the EPA permit will require the city to do. The more responsible action would have been to wait until we had direct knowledge of those requirements before moving ahead with this, but at least the consultants will still be making money.”

On that ending note, THE PLANET wishes al a happy draft weekend.

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“It is what it is, but it’s never as it seems”Sir Tiberius Ffruitjuice.

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

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160 Responses to “MAZZEO: SEWER RATE HIKES TO TOP 400% AFTER COUNCIL’s ‘FLAWED VOTE’ ON UPGRADE”

  1. dusty
    April 29, 2018 at 1:09 pm #

    The Hubbard ave bridge pothole was fixed last fall. Must have used the speedy fix n go method.

    • Robem
      April 29, 2018 at 1:42 pm #

      It’s back. Careful in the lane going towards East St.

      • U
        April 29, 2018 at 4:07 pm #

        I know that one, thanx. We call it…The Shelter’

        • U
          April 29, 2018 at 4:09 pm #

          Or Son of Big Dig? There are others, it’s infamous.

  2. dusty
    April 29, 2018 at 1:12 pm #

    There is an article in Today’s paper about how Stockbridge is going after non-profits for help with much needed tax money. Pittsfield should do the same as there are dozens of organizations that list as non profit. Are some of these merely tax shelters with good lawyers?

    It is past time a thorough check through that long list occurs. Let us list them and vet them for the public. Money sitting right in front of us if you can lift the political cover.

  3. h
    April 29, 2018 at 5:02 pm #

    Happy new year.

  4. h
    April 29, 2018 at 5:04 pm #

    Gaetani sent his letter to have an audience of the public and EPA.

  5. amandaWell
    April 29, 2018 at 5:10 pm #

    Did Mr. G proofread it?

  6. V P of Lurning
    April 29, 2018 at 7:23 pm #

    Thank you Councilor Mazzeo for keeping the Wal Mart out of my Neighborhood!

  7. H
    April 29, 2018 at 8:23 pm #

    Did the City Council take a vote during executive session to vote for the water fleecing?.. because all three councilor’s before the floor vote coming back from the Executive Session knew it wasn’t going to pass…. so did the Council vote before and after executive session? Is that even legal? And I agree, where is the Publics opinion on this. Donna,we don’t want you handling our money. Flip Flop Fony.

    There is a reason you sell beads.

  8. H
    April 29, 2018 at 8:25 pm #

    Can City councilors be recalled? I could get the signatures in my Ward in two, three days, tops.