Article

HOME-IMPROVEMENT SCHEME A BLATANT MISUSE OF GE SETTLEMENT DOLLARS

BY DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI NEWS AND COMMENTARY

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY MARCH 13, 2016) — With current poverty levels, high welfare incidence, and the public treasury open for the “gimme groups,” Pittsfield has long been operating under a socialist system. It may be called something else, but “a rose by any other name” …

Thus, when the city council’s committee on community and economic development took up Mayor Linda Tyer’s proposed home-repair giveaway of another $250,000 from the GE settlement fund, committee members members gave unanimous consent. That’s how one-party systems operate. No honest debate. Little discussion. The committee’s apparatchiks, operating under the 7-iron of chairman Nick Caccamo, got out the rubber stamp. It was all “Home, Home on the Range” from there. You know, “where never is heard a discouraging word.” That’s how it sits in socialist utopias.

Tyer’s request represents the latest abuse of the $10 million, those 30 pieces of silver Pittsfield accepted from GE in exchange for letting the company off the hook for polluting land, water, and air. The money was to be used for (a) tax relief and (b) economic development. It took Elastic Man from DC Comics, Marcel Marceau, and “Stretch” McCovey to argue that taxpayer-funded home improvements for private home owners would qualify as (b). Yet wading through the city council packet, that’s what Tyer and Community Development director Deanna Ruffer claim.

Ruffer estimated that home assessments will rise 7 to 12% after the work is done, bringing in more to the general fund. Let’s do something risky. Let’s take Ruffer at her word. What do you get? A tax-hike scheme, pure and simple. We would only advise homeowners who apply for the repair money to read the contract three times and hire a cheap lawyer before signing this Trojan-Horse deal.

For Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski, who would never think upkeep of their home was Big Government’s responsibility, the program will end up bringing more financial pressure. Just what they need. Here’s how it works:

  • If you make $87,480 or less, you qualify.
  • Deferred-payment loans (DPL) will be made using GE settlement money and/or private equity from one of four participating local financial institutions (Lee Bank, Berkshire Bank, Greylock Federal Credit Union, and the Pittsfield Co-Op Bank; THE PLANET wonders if council president Peter Marchetti recused himself from the vote Tuesday night [March 12]. Marchetti works for the Co-Op).
  • These will be 0% interest loans requiring”no monthly repayment.”
  • Payment is due when the homeowner vacates the property or transfers the obligation to the new owner.
  • Ruffer’s office will administer the DPL program.

———- ooo ———-

In addition to a blatant misuse of the GE funds, the program has one other rotten kicker. The fine print in the enabling documents contains a “no payback” clause: “The city is exploring options that would allow for the forgiveness of a portion or all” of a loan’s value. It apparently never occurred to Caccamo or the other three committee bobble heads to clarify this language and the city’s intent.

Dum-de-dum-dum.

You know, THE PLANET knows, Judge Crater knows that we’re talking “free money.” You can bet your bottom tuppence that this language will not only be included but enacted, meaning that the city will be able to forgive as many of the loans as it wishes. When this happens, you know who will be on the hook for the full amount?

Gotta mirror?

The wording allows the city to forgive or not forgive on a whim. If you have “connections,” if you “know someone who knows someone,” if you donated to the correct political campaigns, that’s good news. You’ll get free money and not worry about repaying a dime. If you’re just another honest, hard-working taxpayer without any inside chit, you’ll be in debtor’s jail if you don’t cough up every cent.

There’s also one other sneak provision in the documents. Homeowners living on the West Side or Morningside will not be required to go through any of the four private banks. Private equity, see, likes to do its homework. It likes to actually vet loan applicants. If they’re deemed bad risks, they don’t get the dough. From this we can safely conclude the city anticipates giving “don’t ask/don’t tell” dollars to unqualified homeowners. When you realize also that Ruffer tilted the scales in favor of the Tyler Street redevelopment initiatives, you have what amounts to a crooked deck. Is this discriminatory provision an attempt to win votes in November? Remember, Ruffer serves solely at the discretion of the mayor; her job depends on Tyer’s re-election.

The full council was scheduled to vote on this Tuesday night. As of press time, THE PLANET had no word of the vote. We’re sure that as the day passes, our superb commentators will fill us in on what happened.

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“It’s not the high price of talent that bothers me about professional sports. It’s the high price of mediocrity” — Sir Tiberius Fruitjuice.

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

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127 Responses to “HOME-IMPROVEMENT SCHEME A BLATANT MISUSE OF GE SETTLEMENT DOLLARS”

  1. Gigi
    March 14, 2019 at 3:31 pm #

    Murder – suicide. How awful.

    https://www.masslive.com/news/2019/03/sheffield-family-of-5-killed-in-murder-suicide.html

  2. Gigi
    March 14, 2019 at 3:56 pm #

    Possible murder-suicide. This doesn’t add up to me.

  3. JoePesci
    March 14, 2019 at 4:31 pm #

    Ya heard it hear first ladies and gentlemen – “This smells like a quadruple whammy burger but at least there’s no killer on the loose.”.

    Sad, tragic, and sick. Off yourself but leave the wife or husband and the kids alone. At least we won’t have to worry about the new DA’s homicide prosecutor getting a conviction, since the perp took the easy way out.

  4. Reignbow
    March 14, 2019 at 6:55 pm #

    The poor D A must deal with the gruesome side of society, hope she can handle that, it’s not a situation a lot of people can handle.

  5. The school committee
    March 15, 2019 at 9:49 am #

    We have a chance to cut the schools budget.Only wealth and incompetence and no compassion for the elderly keep the Mayor from doing this.It is a great opportunity for her to show us that our leader can show discipline .We are always messing with the schools.Anybody get the feeling Mccandless runs our poverty.

  6. C. Trzcinka
    March 15, 2019 at 1:34 pm #

    The $10 million should be used for a tax cut. People could then afford to repair their houses but more importantly, it would change the expectations for an economically devastated city.

    I am not holding my breadth waiting for taxes to be cut in Pittsfield.