Article

HEY, PSSSSSST! YEAH YOU!! WANNA BUY A MALL, CHEAP?

BY DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI NEWS AND COMMENTARY

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THE WEEKEND EDITION JULY 19-21, 2019) — The Town of Lanesboro expressed relief after the sale of the Berkshire Mall. The new owner, Durga Property Holdings, paid back taxes owed by previous owner Mehan Kohanesieh. Win-Win-Win, right? Possibly, and we hope so, but looking deeper into the sale and the principals poses interesting questions.

Perhaps the most prominent puzzler is why anyone would take on this albatross, which would seem more challenging than putting a man on the moon 50 years ago with the computing power of a dime-store calculator. Aside: Kudos to the fabulous moment afforded the world by the crew of Apollo 11 and all the people who got them there and back. THE PLANET remembers well watching Neil Armstrong’s breathtaking first step “for all mankind.” It was the second time Walter Cronkite showed emotion on the air, the first being the somber news delivered to the nation on Nov. 22, 1963.

The Berkshire Mall’s daisy chain of ownership starts with Pyramid Associates, the mausoleum’s builders in 1988. This occurred after Pittsfield’s “leaders” and Special Interests killed the downtown mall even after voters twice approved it in referenda. Pyramid eventually sold to Strategic Associates, who bailed to Kohan Retail Investment group (dba Mehan Kohanesieh), and now to Durga. Each time, the sale price evaporated faster than and ice cube on the surface of Venus, with Durga paying $1 million — three cents on the dollar, maybe if we round it up?

Kohanesieh owns or manages more than two dozen malls (27 as of 2018). Masslive.com calls his record “mixed,” which is a euphemism for, uh, mixed. Online sources reveal his many business aliases: Mike Kohen, Mehan Kohansiek, Mehran Kohansieh, Mehran Kohansiek, and Mehrzad I. Kohansieh. Free advice: If you’re going to use a fake name, pick something ordinary such as Duke Snider. And is there any legitimate reason to use so many fake names?

Here is a listing of Kohanesieh’s “mixed” record (from online sources, primarily Wikipedia):

  • Lost the Jamestown Mall in late 2011 due to foreclosure, but retained some ownership in late 2012. The mall had previously declared bankruptcy in August 2011.
  • After purchasing Woodville Mall in 2009, it was closed in December 2011 by court order, and demolished by Northwood, Ohio in March 2014 due to its poor material condition.
  • Lincoln Mall suffered from serious material condition issues during Kohan’s ownership and in August 2013 went into receivership.
  • Matteson, Illinois took over ownership in June 2014 and it closed in January 2015 after running out of money. At the mall’s closure, Kohan owed more than $10 million in fines and taxes to Matteson.
  • Lincoln Mall was demolished starting in May 2017. During a 2013 police drug search, serious issues were discovered in Northland Mall’s former Kmart that included mold, roof damage, and other major issues. Ownership also owed $141,081.61 in taxes to Nobles County, Minnesota. The mall had serious material condition issues in April 2014 that Worthington, Minnesota took action on. Worthington won a court decision about the former Kmart in June 2014, and demolition began in February 2015.The mall was sold to 7&41 LLC in May 2015.
  • Due to lack of payment on a $300,000 bill, Rotterdam Square Mall lost power on February 12, 2015. The mall was later sold to ViaPort USA for $9.25 million.
  • Since its purchase [by Kohan], Berkshire Mall has suffered from serious tax issues with many payments being missed. Kohan has been taken to court several times over these issues and has narrowly avoided Berkshire’s seizure. Berkshire has also suffered from a series of power outages.
  • Kohan owed $627,789 in property taxes on the Washington Square Mall in 2017, and the mall was put up for tax sale. The mall’s outstanding taxes were paid off in October 2018 for $1.1 million.
  • VF Factory Outlet Mall closed in October 2017.
  • Indian River Mall almost lost power in December 2017 due to unpaid electric bills and bounced checks totaling $428,175. The bill was paid the day electric was to be shutoff.
  • Mayberry Mall was almost closed on February 1, 2018 by local government officials due to roof and mold issues. It was sold to WRS Inc. Real Estate Investments in 2019.
  • In August 2018, Kohan sued Clay, New York for a reduction in the Great Northern Mall’s taxes, while owing $1.53 million to county government.
  • Due to the roof’s poor condition, Effingham City declared Village Square Mall unsafe in August 2018.
  • Due to Kohan not paying Lycoming Mall’s PPL electric bill, it lost power in late August 2018.
  • In September 2018, Southbridge Mall was sued by Cerro Gordo County for $177,324 in back taxes. Those taxes were paid off in December 2018, with three of the previous four checks sent to the county bouncing.
  • Kohan owed around $550,000 on The Orchards Mall in various taxes before its sale in late 2018.
  • Lycoming County Water and Sewer Authority placed Lycoming Mall on the February 2019 sheriff’s sale list due to unpaid bills.Kohan made a partial payment to stop the auction.
  • Chapel Hill Mall almost had power disconnected by Ohio Edison due to unpaid bills in April 2019.

It leads THE PLANET to wonder: How does one make money buying dead-and-dying malls in arrears, pay the back taxes, fork over the purchase price, and begin with near-empty tombs millions down? What’s the trick?

———- ooo ———-

A records search shows Vemulpanni has been or is registered in Michigan, Ohio, and Massachusetts. Are there others? Even if not, doesn’t three headquarter locations seem as if he doesn’t want people to know where he might be at any given time?

When Vermulapillar was in Michigan, he sued the city of Flint over damage to a building he bought at auction for $500,000.  The city had previously condemned the building and had scheduled it for demolition. Vermulpillar bought the building but, according to the courts, “ran it into the ground.” He then sued Flint, claiming the city’s negligence had caused water damage and loss of tenants. Vermulpillar’s assessor valued the building at $7,338,840. An arbitrator awarded him $6,024,128.10. Was that the motivation all along? Buy cheap, sue, and collect six times your investment?

Flint fought back, taking it to the Michigan State Court of Appeals. How unlike Pittsfield:

VIJAYAKUMAR VEMULAPALLI and SASIKALA VEMULAPALLI, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. CITY OF FLINT, Defendant-Appellee.
Court of Appeals of Michigan.
December 22, 2009.

“After considering the parties’ arguments, the circuit court found that the arbitrator did not exceed his powers but expressed dismay at the amount awarded plaintiffs, stating:

“This really is a travesty when a man buys a building for $400,000 and runs it into the ground and then gets an arbitrator’s ruling for millions which the taxpayers are going to pay for. It looks like plaintiff has finally struck the pot of gold. Unfortunately, the taxpayers are in the pot.”

The circuit court affirmed the arbitration order but subsequently granted Flint’s motion for reconsideration. The Michigan Court of Appeals voided the judgment. See, it pays for a city to stick up for taxpayers, the way Pittsfield doesn’t (e.g. the EPA’s questionable $75 million water “upgrade” and the $121 million spent on an unneeded high school).

Vemulapalli appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court. On June 3, 2010, the court refused to hear the case:

VEMULAPALLI v. CITY OF FLINT
Docket No. 140494. COA No. 287566.

Vijayakumar VEMULAPALLI and Sasikala Vemulapalli, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. CITY OF FLINT, Defendant-Appellant.
Supreme Court of Michigan.
June 3, 2010.

Order
On order of the Court, the application for leave to appeal the December 22, 2009 judgment of the Court of Appeals is considered, and it is DENIED, because we are not persuaded that the question presented should be reviewed by this Court.

———- ooo ———-

Yes, the sale was a private transaction. Lanesboro taxpayers were paid the tax arrears, but don’t you have the nagging feeling that there’s an itch somewhere in this body that’s not being scratched.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

—————————————————————————————————————————–

“We get so used to the stories we tell ourselves. This is why we sometimes need to find ourselves in the stories of others”Leslie Jamison.

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

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96 Responses to “HEY, PSSSSSST! YEAH YOU!! WANNA BUY A MALL, CHEAP?”

  1. Johnny99
    July 18, 2019 at 10:03 pm #

    Holy Moly Batman and Robin. This just in:

    According to The DEA, From 2006 to 2012 there were 32,603,610 prescription pain pills supplied to Berkshire County, Mass.

    According to my research, that works out to around 250 pain pills per man, woman and child.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/dea-pain-pill-database/?utm_term=.b88b5c59a54e&wpisrc=nl_most&wpmm=1

    How many of these did you choose to pop?

    • Johnny Absurd
      July 19, 2019 at 12:25 am #

      Would be nice to know the names of the local doctors dispensing them. Could BMC please release a list of their doctors by name and how many OxyContin pills each dispensed?

      Uh, NO!

      • Mr. G
        July 19, 2019 at 5:59 am #

        My teeth are just terrible as a result of many factors. Dental work has, on and off over the years, been a significant occurrence in my life. Vicodin has been important in many of those episodes. I did not abuse it. I never became addicted and I dont think I should feel bad for using it responsibly, nor should I be not allowed access to this class of drug “for my own protection.” Nanny state indeed.

        • Edward R. Murrow
          July 20, 2019 at 6:29 am #

          Yes, responsible adults should have no problem with opioid pain-killers such as Percocet and Vicodin and their generics, oxycodone/acetaminophen and hydrocodone/acetaminophen.

          The pain clinic at BHS is pretty strict–must sign for each script, random urine tests.

          I think the problem comes when people take 2, 3, 4?, or more? pills at a time. Then perhaps mix those with alcohol/THC. And take them repeatedly over the long term.

          If I don’t have any pain, or even not that much, the opioids don’t do much if anything.

  2. The school committee
    July 19, 2019 at 3:12 am #

    It’s time to ask the condition and the cost associated with problems at the 121 million high school that solved nothing for Pittsfield Where is ex mayor Tyer on the issue.Mayor Mazzeo should soon be asking whats going on there besides a coverup of the great problems there.The schools Department head needs to be grilled on this problem.These people designed a to small gym,cafeteria and auditorium.Where is Bouvier on this ?

    • B. Clairmont
      July 19, 2019 at 6:54 am #

      SC,

      Might I remind you that Councilor Mazzeo is and has been all along, on the School Buildings Needs Commission, and not Mayor Tyer.

      I believe she was on the design review commit as well, but not 100% sure. I do know that Kathy Amuso and Melissa Mazzeo picked out all the color schemes.

      So if you are going to complain about the school design, I believe your bitch is more with Mazzeo than it is with Tyer.

      Barry

      • danvalenti
        July 19, 2019 at 9:00 am #

        BARRY
        As you know, THE PLANET exposed the workings of the Amuso-led design review committee. Nothing, of course, was done. The design flaws were there, evident, exposed, then denied by the committee. Now, we keep getting reports of the serious problems in the building. The school committee chairwoman needs to come clean. Also to your point about Mazzeo, she needs to get out front of this issue.

    • Johnny99
      July 19, 2019 at 9:57 am #

      Like her or not TSC, she is still the mayor and you should not be referring to her as “ex”, and as I said many times if Mazzeo doesn’t get on the stick she’s going nowhere and all Kalinowski has done is write a letter to the editor and remind me again who else is running??? You might as well get used to “Mayor” Tyer because I don’t see her being beat. I personally couldn’t stand Obama and dislike his wife even more but I still respected the fact he was our president and wished him the best from day one. R E S P E C T for the office.

  3. The school committee
    July 19, 2019 at 3:18 am #

    Ex Mayor Tyer needs to address the taxpayers about her 80 million dollar water treatment project and why she demands it be done yesterday.Marchetti also needs to address why he can’t control money.Hes a banker.New Mayor Mazzeo is going to win in a landslide based solely on mismanagement of budgets in her department

    • pothole
      July 19, 2019 at 6:50 am #

      What exactly is she running on? She voted to pass budgets made by Mayor Tyer, she has been one the council and has not been able to negotiate well enough with the other council members to get them to understand her point of views and to stop measures that she disagrees with, and to this point I haven’t seen anything except her touting her last name. I am not 100% happy with everything that the current administration ahas done and there have been times that I have called them out on things like the beacon and the garbage issue, but I don’t see what Mrs. Mazzeo is bringing to the table. I would like to hear what makes her different.

      • danvalenti
        July 19, 2019 at 9:01 am #

        POT
        Yup. What does MM bring to the table, as you put it? How is she different from Linda Tyer. She has yet to say a peep. This will be her biggest campaign challenge.

  4. Mr. Fritz
    July 19, 2019 at 3:53 am #

    The former Macy’s at Eastfield Mall, Springfield will potentially be turned into a marijuana cultivation/manufacturing facility. Rumor has it that the Berkshire Mall will be turned into an indoor pickleball arena.

    • Thomas More
      July 19, 2019 at 10:41 am #

      Where did you hear that funny rumor, in Westfield?

  5. Scoop Duty
    July 19, 2019 at 4:41 am #

    Speaker no f Tyers water plan, was listening to the Stooge crying poverty about his retirement income,my relatives are current making a five hundred a month pension as they retired in the early eighties,….stooges wife alone has to drawing in fifty- sixty….he’s been over all the world has to being doing better than her.

    • Thomas More
      July 19, 2019 at 10:48 am #

      $55,710.00 for ms stooge in 2018

  6. CC The Maze Sun
    July 19, 2019 at 5:21 am #

    As we move into the technological age where Pluto is out and Nine is in, buying and selling move out of the brick and mortar spaces and into cyber space.

    We have all returned from a stay on the Moon in the hotel California where mother Mary has stood right in front of us to receive the mark of the beast where no one can buy or sell without incarnating into this beast commerce system.

    The Game is changing. Buying online started off with no taxes and free shipping but is quickly moving into cash cow status for the governments and once crypto currency is fully established and embraced, technology will change this Game forever.

    “In the year 5555
    Your arms are hanging limp at your sides
    Your legs not nothing to do
    Some machine is doing that for you

    Now it’s been 10,000 years
    Man has cried a billion tears
    For what he never knew
    Now man’s reign is through
    But through the eternal night
    The twinkling of starlight
    So very far away
    Maybe it’s only yesterday”

    – In the year …. (Zager and Evans)

    • Ham Anex
      July 19, 2019 at 12:55 pm #

      In the year 2020 if Tyer is in office say goodbye to your money.

  7. Spider
    July 19, 2019 at 6:11 am #

    Who were the idiots who approved the plans for Taconic?

    Areas too small (gym, cafeteria, auditorium, etc.) Numerous other complaints.

    I seriously would like to know. It’s a disgrace and we won’t know the cost to the taxpayers until 2020.

    • Ham Anex
      July 19, 2019 at 1:10 pm #

      There wasn’t any technical expertise on the SBNs committee and there wasn’t any on the sewer and water committee. If we had one person on the council who had technical understanding we would be far better off and we wouldn’t have been taken to the cleaners so many time. At least Mazzeo, Connell and Morandi have been asking the right questions about the wadte water plant and the drinking water plant.

  8. Al Eyoup
    July 19, 2019 at 6:13 am #

    Article In The Eagle about wayfair hiring, but nothing in iberkshires?

    • Johnny Absurd
      July 19, 2019 at 9:37 am #

      Looks like the Eagle finally scooped another news source. Kudos to the editor in the newsroom that leaned on his people to get this vital news out in a timely fashion. This should boost sales and fatten some judges wallet.

      Sorry iBerkshires…ya blew it this time.

      • ProxyDate
        July 19, 2019 at 3:28 pm #

        The Eagle and Wayfair are in the same complex. Wayfair rents from the holding company for the Eagle building.

  9. Still wondering
    July 19, 2019 at 6:41 am #

    One thing that will happen for sure is the property will be “depreciated” for tax purposes. This is a sneaky way that landlords use the tax laws to avoid paying federal taxes. Slumlords do it all the time. Look it up.

  10. Bull Durham
    July 19, 2019 at 7:01 am #

    Dan, I think they should turn the empty mall into a virtual Stamford Links. That dogleg at the Food Court would be challenging.

    • danvalenti
      July 19, 2019 at 8:57 am #

      BULL
      Maybe they turn the dogleg into two par-2s, but the idea of a virtual Stamford CC is brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. It being virtual, it could easily include climate control. Some prefer sunny and 70s, but I know one hacker who would occasionally — just now and then, mind you — want sleet. I think you know him, too. Actually, being virtual, I do believe it would have a chance in going viral. Think of it. Some 200 years into the future (should there be one), an archeologist will turn up evidence that Sleet Golf, which by then might replace the NFL in popularity, was born in Berkshire County … not that there will be a Berkshire County any longer, as the population decrease from the Berkshire Regional Planners shows.

  11. Drew Z
    July 19, 2019 at 11:36 am #

    Congrats to Larry Hazzard becoming Berkshire Life President.

  12. Cody Yox
    July 19, 2019 at 12:13 pm #

    To me it sounds like corners were cut to come in at budget,anyone think about that? And was the size of the Gym discussed,at all?

  13. Jonathan Melle
    July 19, 2019 at 12:40 pm #

    The Berkshire Mall was always a stupid idea! Maybe the Good Old Boys were on to something when they blocked it in Pittsfield!

    PEDA was always a stupid idea, too! The Good Old Boys screwed up 21 years ago when PEDA opened as a vacant wasteland.

    I disagree with the “Blame Linda” meme. She inherited all of the problems Pittsfield politics has passed.

    The lovely Linda Tyer is the best thing to happen to Pittsfield in decades!

    • Herb Pease
      July 19, 2019 at 1:00 pm #

      She wanted the job. She’s done nothing for Pittsfield. She’ll improve Pittsfield when she leaves office.

    • Merry & Bright
      July 19, 2019 at 1:51 pm #

      JM – Yes Linda inherited a lot of issues but she has had almost 4 years to rectify at least a few of them. She seems to be oblivious to the fact that many of her Department Heads are not helping her administration. Wynn, Turocy, Kerwood and Ruffer have all hurt her run in office. Not one of them can answer questions from the City Council and if they do answer they pull the blame game. Many of their answers to the City Council are actually pathetically comical. She needs to advise her Department Heads to start performing their jobs to make Pittsfield a cleaner safer City. If they don’t perform, they should be fired. As I have said many times in the past, the Mayor and most of her Department heads would not survive working in the private sector.

      • B.Clairmont
        July 21, 2019 at 6:58 am #

        Mike,

        When I was on the Council I would let the department heads know what I thought my questions would be ahead of time so they could gather any necessary materials and be prepared to provide the answers.

        The Councilors you refer to never pick up the phone ahead of time to give the department heads the courtesy of a heads up. The department heads are NOT mind readers. Some of the places these councilors take the conversations is way of base and they love to play the “gotcha” card. This is all just politics. Its not about the issue, its about politics and power.

        Barry

        • danvalenti
          July 21, 2019 at 8:59 am #

          BARRY
          Yup. There’s two ways for councilors to play it, as you obviously well know: The first is the honest attempt to get information from department heads. The second is to play “goatcha” by asking things for which they aren’t ready. In today’s polarized political climate, the second seems to be the preferred option. What you say about councilors picking up the phone is true, but it works the other way around. All I know is if I was head of a department, I would prepare for everything, any area, as best I could and get on the horn (or text or email) councilors and ask them for what areas should I prepare. Then if they still play “gotcha,” I’ve got ammo. Politics IS power, and that has been since time immemorial, its fatal flaw. Combined with human nature? Do we really have a chance? Thanks for your participation on this board.

        • Merry & Bright
          July 22, 2019 at 3:56 pm #

          So now you are blaming the Councilors. Just what I said above. The blame game. Department Heads should be prepared to answer questions about their departments, not keep saying “Oh, I left the information on my desk”. I attend meetings and participate on conference calls all week and we are prepared to answer questions. If we don’t have the answer we better find it fast, we don’t say “I don’t remember”.

  14. Dick Flimsy
    July 19, 2019 at 1:19 pm #

    Today is the deadline for getting on the ballot. Who turned in enough signatures and for which office.

    • Acute Angina
      July 19, 2019 at 5:32 pm #

      The Eagle won’t report on candidates but they posted an article about a nudist colony in Otis in 1933….# news you can use.

    • Johnny2Shoes
      July 20, 2019 at 3:06 am #

      The list is revealed. This article from the Beagle lists those who are in the races.

      https://www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/candidates-emerge-in-pittsfield-races-as-nomination-deadline-passes,579960

      • danvalenti
        July 20, 2019 at 8:27 am #

        J2S
        Don’t you just love how The BB forces you to subscribe if you want to read such articles? Another reason for the dying bird. People who go online for news will not pay. Pure and simple. The upper tier of journals may be able to do it, but not the lower. The BB refuses to adapt and learn.

        • Drew Z
          July 20, 2019 at 1:40 pm #

          That is an excellent point Dan. First of all the advertisement money from on line should be sufficient, but no, they want to squeeze the reader.
          Another key factor,the advertisement will be viewed by more on-line readers..if you don’t pay (readers) less people will see what’s being advertised.

        • Johnny2Shoes
          July 21, 2019 at 6:55 am #

          You would think after the first shot into the foot they would learn what you mention.They seem content to empty six rounds into to the foot. The Eagle is a shell of what was a decent paper once upon a time.

          • danvalenti
            July 21, 2019 at 8:49 am #

            Yes, J2S. The plan to revival then health is clear to anyone who has (a) studied this and (b) has the creative leap of imagination to go against the grain when needed. Here’s the formula: (1) Invest heavily in the online product, including both content and design. On the internet, both are equally important. Right now, both are substandard. The site is also muddled and difficult to navigate. (2) Reduce the physical paper to two (maybe three) days a week, plus Sunday. (3) Start truly covering the news. The paper doesn’t do that now. (4) Launch a REAL investigative team, minimum, three people. Have them dig out the stories that are now buried. Some aren’t buried at all because there’s little fear in being a subject of the local daily. (5) Get and keep fresh talent at more-than-competitive wages. Key word is “talent.” Hire only those who have it and who have ambition. Of course, all this assumes intelligent management. Department heads must be top caliber. Keep those who are so. Get rid of the slackers. It would take three years for the turnaround, but by the end, the local daily would be making a great ROI and be nearly as necessary to its circulation base as air and water.

        • Ben Weldon
          July 22, 2019 at 10:03 am #

          Keep changing browsers or get a VPN. The Eagle will be stumped.

  15. ProxyDate
    July 19, 2019 at 3:30 pm #

    Mazzeo is just another warm body. But in this case ANYTHING is better than Tyer. She is clearly the MOST incompetent mayor in decades.

  16. ProxyDate
    July 19, 2019 at 3:37 pm #

    The mall is about money laundering, nothing else.
    Not sure how paying $600k in back taxes or buying a dilapidated mall for a cool million is money laundering.

    Here’s your lesson for the day

    https://people.exeter.ac.uk/watupman/undergrad/ron/methods%20and%20stages.htm

  17. From Mars
    July 19, 2019 at 3:47 pm #

    Hello Planet. I went to HS in Dalton, college in UMASS, and I came back to the Berkshires and I have lived in ward four now for three years, despite my entire family relocating elsewhere. I am 35 with a pretty underwhelming job and single with no kids. I understand my city councilor Connell is being challenged. Unfortunately I know nothing about what the incumbent offers vs the challenger. I do know I don’t want my rent to go up. I do know I don’t want to have to pay for my trash. I do know I want my street’s potholes to get fixed. I do know that I have spent zero time carelessly strolling down north st and venturing in and out of shops since the meters have gone up. I am strictly in and out now at hot harrys or panchos or house of india (lets be honest, there is no shopping to be had) So anyway, back to my point- Planet can we get some sort of primer on where some of these people stand specifically? Also, should I just get out? Like really, is there any point for someone like me to actually try to stay here and make my life? My parents think I am crazy but I love the Berkshires. Maybe they are right, though?

    • Blare
      July 19, 2019 at 10:17 pm #

      Mars,
      If you are content with being poor in a beautiful area, stay in the Berkshires. If you want to be around people of substance, who have aspirations beyond petty anger and grievances directed against their neighbors, move anywhere else on the planet. This place is insular poison.

      Good Luck,
      B

      • Johnny Absurd
        July 19, 2019 at 11:51 pm #

        This is useful advice. The truth is that many people living in Pittsfield would pack up and move if they could. But many of these people are trapped elderly just hoping to live out there remaining years in dignity. Hoping they do not lose their homes due to oppressive and ever increasing taxes. They could not afford to move anyway. Many others only stay because of family ties.

        With the crime, bad schools and deteriorating infrastructure there is not that much for the city to brag about these days.

        • Kermit Frog
          July 20, 2019 at 9:08 am #

          It’s sad how many under employed people there are here – bright people eeking out a living. The goon squad fills the government and schools with their people and it gets more dumb with each inbred generation.
          Property taxes are going to be at 10% to fund the school districts and the North Street bs so they can get the votes. There will be 15-20 donor types (if that isn’t the status quo) whose money influences the city and everyone else pays.
          To the dude who is paying rent – move!! Hillsborough NC is a progressive town with jobs and decent schools and pretty country side.

    • danvalenti
      July 20, 2019 at 8:20 am #

      MARS
      As the campaign develops, we may reach out to the various candidates for position “papers.” There are many things in your favor. First, you show an interest in the issues. Second, you have youth on your side — 35 is still young enough to explore your options. Third, you are not tied down (single, no kids). The decision to ride it out for move is an entirely personal one, of course. All things being equal, it comes down to your heart. Does your “love of the Berkshires” outweigh the frustrations of living in Pittsfield? Also, in general terms, listen to your parents. They’ve been around. Take their advice into consideration. As for Ward 4, you’ve got good one there. Councilor Connell has done an outstanding job. He has THE PLANET’s full endorsement for re-election. We have found him responsive not just to us, but, more importantly, to his constituents. In any case, we wish you the best with your choices.

      • The school committee
        July 21, 2019 at 9:35 am #

        My complaint with councilors is they dont know the issues.You learn issues like water filtration by asking questions.When Mayor Tyer hands the water issue off to someone else it means she does not fully understand it.Tyer needs to be more like Mazzeo and not be shy about wanting to learn.

    • Chris Connell
      July 20, 2019 at 2:13 pm #

      Please feel free to call me at 413-822-6008. I will be more than happy to discuss my stand on these issues as well as answer any other questions you may have. Thanks

    • Johnny99
      July 21, 2019 at 6:21 am #

      Well if you love Da Berkshire but dislike Pissfield, just move to another Berkshire town. Pretty simple

      • danvalenti
        July 21, 2019 at 8:59 am #

        Our choice? Stockbridge!

        • Harrison
          July 21, 2019 at 1:45 pm #

          If you want no diversity at all and literally live in a 1950’s oil painting then yes Stockbridge is your town. I think Mars is looking for something a little more real.

          • danvalenti
            July 21, 2019 at 4:14 pm #

            Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it!

  18. jon doe
    July 19, 2019 at 9:06 pm #

    The Berkshire are a beautiful area that people from all over come to visit or set up second homes. It has it problems, like most places but that doesn’t change the inherent beauty, the change of seasons, and the mix of nature, culture and the arts that many find appealing. The glass is either half full or half empty. This board often seems populated by bitter, disgruntled people who only see the glass as half empty. From Mars-if you are 35 with an underwelming job I have to wonder what you got your degree in. I interview people with degrees regularly who have no drive or ambition, and quite frankly, seem to have learned very in college. I’m told by people in the HVAC industry that a kid out of high school who knew HVAC could start at $70,000 in the first year. I’m not suggesting that you go into HVAC, but I am suggesting that if your job is underwelming and going no where, that you start looking for a job that puts you in a position to succeed. despite what people say, opportunities abound for sharp people who are willing to work hard to get ahead. I hope you do just that and make Pittsfield your permanent home. We need more people like you.

    • danvalenti
      July 20, 2019 at 8:24 am #

      JON
      Good points, especially about HVAC. We have long advised, even to our students, that college is not for everyone. Man, if a kid learns a trade (electrical, plumbing, HVAC, mechanics, machining, drafting) he or she can write their own ticket. I know the owner of an electrical contracting company, and he tells me of his constant search for good, young talent to replace his aging staff. Kids have fallen for the “must go to college” route when there are better alternatives for those who would rather have the hand skills for services that will always be in high demand. Thanks for the comments. The Berkshires are one of the most wondrous areas on THE PLANET … and the planet.

    • Kermit Frog
      July 20, 2019 at 9:26 am #

      If that were true – then the employers could train adults to work this mythical 70k a year jobs. Most of the young people here aren’t afraid to work. They work their balls off for two of three jobs without benefits. The reason they are offering these ‘opportunities’ to high school kids is that they are probably offering jobs that have awful pay and they are treated like indentured servants.
      Roger Moore could do a film about all the exploited kids working for the harridans and trolls that own business in Great Barrington. I don’t buy there are good jobs here – because if you could train a 17 year old to do them you could train a 30 year old to do them.
      Hinds always spouts this nonsense and that is what it is.
      If you have an infilled job for longer than six weeks you aren’t paying enough or you are a shit business owner.

      • Kermit Frog
        July 20, 2019 at 5:27 pm #

        Look at my misspeak – I meant Michael Moore. Roger Moore made some cool movies as bond not probably down with the struggle.
        Also, I think schools and retail in Hillsborough NC are better than here.

    • The school committee
      July 20, 2019 at 3:54 pm #

      Pittsfield is in need of somebody who questions budgets.It is not negative to want every dollar we get taxed to be successfully spent.Mayor Tyer has not been able to do that.Mayor Mazzeo inteligence is in her desire to understand spending in the City and is it successful in what it was intended to do.She rattles the Mayors office and when she takes office she will be up to the job of transparency. Pick up the loose broken asphalt in the city streets when your elected Mayor Melissa

      • Pat
        July 20, 2019 at 8:54 pm #

        Melissa Mazzeo, in true Progressive style, loves high taxes.

        • The school committee
          July 21, 2019 at 4:32 am #

          Republican party is running deficits in order to give wealthy people more cash. Your a republican. You support Trump and all he stands for.Are you a supporter of Russia controlling America from the inside?When your brainwashed and being groomed by a President to do and say things that American citizens find so bizzar we fear another type goverment is being prepared and they need your support.They need your fear and want you scared and when the time comes who knows what Trump will ask of you.

          • Pat
            July 21, 2019 at 6:02 am #

            The Russian influence is coming from the far left media which is just how it is in Russia and China where the government controls what the public is allowed to hear. That’s how they keep control of the people.

    • ProxyDate
      July 21, 2019 at 5:52 am #

      This is completely Booooooogus!

      Yes the trades are good, yes college isn’t for everyone, we need ditch diggers, but no high school kid is going to make $70k a year as an apprentice in HVAC, that’s just a bald-faced lie.
      I own several businesses and am a partner in two, one being an HVAC company. Our out of tech school grads start at $12-15 an hour, they can make overtime and “emergency call” pay but there’s not one person working for us in HVAC that’s a teen agent making $70k a year and it takes years to get to that. HVAC is great if you plan on owning your own company, as are most of the trades, but you won’t seem $70k for quite some time. I mean I see guys advertising earn $100k in your first year but that be a 60 hour week, union, with a veteran “bump” on a govt contract.

      • danvalenti
        July 21, 2019 at 8:52 am #

        PROXY
        Yes, $70K is unrealistic as starting pay. But the trades do offer opportunity. There will always be a job if you’re good at it. And as you say, for those who want to open a business, sky’s the limit. I know an electrical shop that would gladly hire the right young gun and groom him or her to take over once the old man calls it quit, which won’t be too long from now. As that that ad man making $100K, perhaps, but let me tell you: At that level, the company OWNS you. A 60-hour week would be considered a vacation. I think the overall point, and one we can agree on, is that college is not for everyone, and for those who go a different route, the trades offer a viable alternative.

      • jon doe
        July 21, 2019 at 8:25 pm #

        Proxy-if you reread my post you will see that I said if a kid out of school “knew” HVAC, ie. was trained in it, they could make $70,000 the first year. Would it include overtime pay? Probably, sure. Making money means working hard, that’s how people get ahead. The days of hiding at the GE are over.
        The person who told me that had no reason to lie. He was lamenting the lack of qualified applicants, and I heard the same complaint from the owner of another HVAC company, although we didn’t discuss compensation in that conversation. The take aways in my mind are 1.) we should probably offer HVAC at Taconic. And 2.) There are opportunities for people who are willing to work hard and advance. And by the way, most business owners who make in the six figures are working 60 hours or more per week themselves. There’s an old saying, the harder I work, the luckier I get!

  19. doomiedodger
    July 20, 2019 at 12:04 am #

    An article in the July 11 Eagle talks about the city plans to ramp up bike travel on the city streets. Bike lanes along Elm, Springside, Williams, Waconah and East streets.

    I was aghast when I first read this thinking about how dangerous the Pittsfield streets are on a daily basis. I have at least one near miss every time I venture out as there seems to be no rules on the Pittsfield roads. There is all the faded paint from past lane markings. Many or most crosswalks are still not painted. My street still has not even been swept.

    If I had a family member who thought it was a good idea to ride a bicycle on any Pittsfield road I would sweat bullets every time they left the house on their bike. Would also suggest they have their head checked by a psychiatrist. I would submit that skydiving is safer than riding a bicycle on Pittsfield’s free-for-all roadways.

    • Pat
      July 20, 2019 at 8:51 pm #

      Very well said. Pittsfield allows drivers to break so many safety rules of driving. Bicycling on Pittsfield roads is extremely risky. We need bicycle paths away from the main roads.

    • The school committee
      July 21, 2019 at 4:22 am #

      Bike riders on busy city streets need to slow down with traffic.Bikes in city roads need to use safety 1st.Bikes assume that they are see and they are almost stealth attaining speeds of 30 plus mph.Bikers pass parked cars on Elm as if the whole world knows your on the way.Bikers are not being safe.Bikers believe they are the royalty of transportation and they are going to get injured if they dont get into a single file line.I hear them carrying on a conversation while in traffic…..Bike people are very brazen and unsafe

      • Johnny Absurd
        July 21, 2019 at 9:42 am #

        I think it would be child abuse to get your kid a bike and send him or her out on Pittsfield streets. I would like a list of every person who plans on riding a bike on Pittsfield streets so that I can take out life insurance policies. Maybe that is what city hall is planning to shore up its unfunded liabilities. No one in their right mind would think this is a good idea. Car insurance rates will probably double now.

  20. Pat
    July 20, 2019 at 6:27 am #

    Too much money to the schools and not enough to all the other problems in the city. Retail is dead in this area.

    • The school committee
      July 21, 2019 at 4:11 am #

      Tyer did not cut tree branches in the hood,Tyer did not light up the hood and make it safe. Advice to Tyer from here.Youn need to double down on making 1st street the brightest street in Pittsfield.As the tourist drive North to Williamstown they only see a very dark stretch of road .Common is bright,Cumberland is bright,the corner of Tyler is bright so now do your part .Cut tree limbs and install lights.The biggest best crosswalks should be on 1st street…..Light up the hood.Cut tree limbs and light up the hood.

  21. Drew Z
    July 20, 2019 at 8:29 am #

    Agree with doozie,dead on. Only a matter of time before a bicyclist gets mowed down. I’ve saved at least twenty accidents in the last couple years alone,stuff like driving over double lines, passing on the inside of the white line,veering over to avoid getting hit at least ten times.

  22. Thomas-More
    July 20, 2019 at 8:30 am #

    My suggestion Mars is that you leave for the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee/NC or the hills of Kentucky. If you love it here for the beauty of the Berkshires these places are equally as beautiful. There are plenty of jobs there and the retail districts are so flourishing that even Pat would be happy there. The political leaders are as honest and straight as the day is long. The schools are super and the teachers work 11 hours a day for $13.00 an hour. Unlike here, you can live a very prosperous life and never have to work for it. Most of the people around here who are prosperous worked for what they have rather than consuming themselves with the imaginary gobsigs and suits who they believe are watching their every move.

    • Kermit Frog
      July 20, 2019 at 5:03 pm #

      Maybe the teachers of NC should come here and everyone could be better off!!! They could live like kings for 75k per 8 months of work. We wouldn’t be able to send them home.

    • The school committee
      July 20, 2019 at 5:35 pm #

      Mitch Mcconnells Kentucky teachers make 13 bucks.Its about the most heavily fed dependent states.

      • Johnny Absurd
        July 21, 2019 at 9:44 am #

        thank god this fool is on his way out. McConnel is poison to the democratic process. He acts like a KGB insert.

  23. Shakes
    July 20, 2019 at 12:18 pm #

    The new mall’s owner has other successes. I’m disappointed the planet only cherry picked controversial incidents. The mall site would be great for an indoor water park/convention center.

  24. Jonathan Melle
    July 20, 2019 at 2:18 pm #

    Pittsfield politics makes economic matters worse by high taxes, huge municipal debts, corruption, and a distressed economy with scarce living wage jobs.

    Pittsfield politics never changes and is always predictable. Taxes increase by 5 percent per fiscal year, the Good Old Boys run the show, and Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski always have to assume the position.

    To illustrate, if you are not doing well in Pittsfield, then you are at or near poverty and rely on social services to subsist. If you are politically connected, you are well taken care of by the G.O.B. It has resulted in many thousands of residents moving away. It has resulted in thousands of living wage jobs being lost over the decades.

    PEDA and the Berkshire Mall are examples of post-industrial Pittsfield’s downfall.

    • ProxyDate
      July 21, 2019 at 5:53 am #

      The mall is in Lanesborough. Malls all over the country are failing. It’s not a symbol of Pittsfield anything

      • danvalenti
        July 21, 2019 at 9:02 am #

        True, that, about SOME malls. But Destiny USA, for instance, in Syracuse recently DOUBLED its size to accommodate the crowds. It’s been called the best mall in the U.S. True, it’s one of the biggest, but it’s for a reason. Malls, like newspaper, need to find a new plan to fit the new way people are shopping.

        • ProxyDate
          July 21, 2019 at 9:49 am #

          Look at the anchor retailers at the old Berkshire mall.
          Everyone of them closed HUNDREDS if not thousands of stores across the USA.
          Jc Penny, Sears, Best Buy, all closed not because of the area but because of the retail apocalypse.

          • Shakes
            July 21, 2019 at 10:48 am #

            Interestingly, Pyramid developed Destiny USA.

            Also got 100’s of millions in tax breaks.

            https://joyinger.expressions.syr.edu/wp-content/uploads/PAI735ECN635FinalPapers.2016.Argersinger.pdf

            Comparing Pittsfield to Syracuse is laughable.

          • danvalenti
            July 21, 2019 at 4:19 pm #

            SHAKES
            We’re not comparing Pittsfield to Syracuse. We’re comparing two malls. One’s dead. One’s thriving. One has three cars in the parking lot. One has cars circling the gigantic lots … in July. One has horrible customer service. One has sharp, intelligent customer service. One has access roads that look like the surface of the moon. One has wide, well designed highways smooth as silk. One remained stagnant. One redesigned with the times. You’re right: It I-S laughable! Thanks for making my case.

          • Shakes
            July 21, 2019 at 6:41 pm #

            No response as to how the malls had the same developer and destiny USA got hundreds of millions in tax breaks?

  25. Peter Harper
    July 21, 2019 at 7:55 am #

    In the Eagle today. Somebody help me out. The city can delay signing the contract but the people holding the option have to pay $50k?!?

    I think this thing is bottoms up. Their lawyer and consultant is now in charge of another failure in the making the Innovation Center.

    NORTH ADAMS — The option that a proposed model railroad museum held to buy the Western Gateway Heritage State Park expired June 30, but the city and museum continue to pursue a deal.

    “We are negotiating a new contract,” said North Adams Mayor Thomas Bernard. “We don’t expect it will be materially different.”

    The option is one step in the complex process undertaken by Thomas Krens’ Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture Museum to build an 83,000-square-foot museum, which is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of annual visitors if and when it opens.

    Bernard said the delay was a result of the city’s need to perform due diligence by reviewing the contract to make sure it still works for the city.

    The option contract had expired in May, but was extended to June 30.

    The Krens effort already has paid $20,000 for the first year and $30,000 for the second year under the previous option contract. An option is a fee paid to the owner of property to make sure it is not sold before the buyer has the opportunity to close the sale.

    “It’s been moving slowly on our end,” Bernard said. “We’re still working our way through it.

  26. Jonathan Melle
    July 21, 2019 at 8:12 am #

    @ProxyDate: (Sarcasm) – You are right about the Berkshire Mall.

    The Pittsfield area is booming with living wage jobs for the working class.

    PEDA has dozens of Fortune 500 companies investing in the former GE property.

    Oh, and Pigs have Wings and they fly around with Unicorns!

    • ProxyDate
      July 21, 2019 at 9:03 am #

      Malls failing in the Berkshires has nothing to do with the “Berkshires”. It’s a common trend in the US as online sales supersede brick and mortar sales.
      Malls close, even in good economic areas.

  27. Merry & Bright
    July 21, 2019 at 10:09 am #

    Does anyone else think it is ironic that Wayfair announced they are hiring for the Pittsfield branch the same day that the City Of Pittsfield nomination papers closed? What a coincidence so that Lovely Linda could toot her horn in the BB. In checking the Wayfair jobs listings I only saw 6 job offerings, all Managers or Supervision. Just wondering how many of the $15.00 an hour jobs (when posted) will be full-time and offering benefits?

    Also, does anyone know if the PPD has a Traffic Division. I looked on the City of Pittsfield website and it shows Officer Coco (Fired-In Prison) and Officer McIntyre (retired). How many other parts of the website are incorrect? That leaves two officers and how are they suppose to cover all three shifts 24/7? Meanwhile the Pittsfield roads are getting more dangerous by the day. Not having road lines and crosswalks not painted and many knocked down signage replaced with the Famous Pittsfield Orange Barrels only makes matters worse. Speed limits on Merrill, Dalton, East and West streets plus most of the city streets seems to be well over 65 these days, not a cruiser to be seen. Rumor has it some of the new hires don’t want to waste their time on writing tickets. Maybe Wynn should take his new vehicle paid for by hardworking taxpayers money and grab a ticket book and get to work or why not institute that every officer needs to have a quota on each shift of traffic citations written. They certainly would not have a hard time finding speeders, cross walk issues and red light violations, plus it would be adding revenue to the City.

    • Mr. Fritz
      July 21, 2019 at 5:56 pm #

      Spot on Merry! Well said.

  28. Jonathan Melle
    July 21, 2019 at 12:37 pm #

    July 21, 2019

    I have long held a theoretical view about post-industrial communities, like my native hometown of Pittsfield, which in economics is called “Perverse Incentives”. My theory is that post-industrial communities want public money over private sector living wage jobs of the 1950’s and 1960’s. That means that if a family is poor or near poverty, the post-industrial community receives many millions of dollars in public funds for welfare social services programs, poorly performing public schools, disability caseloads, its not-for-profit organizations, and the like. The more family financial insecurity means more money for communities than financially secure families with living wage jobs.

    The problem with post-industrial communities like Pittsfield (Mass.) that use “perverse incentives” is that poverty begets more poverty for future generations. For example, teen pregnancy and welfare caseloads double the statewide average in Pittsfield. North Street has long been known as “Social Services Alley” instead of a bustling business district full of stores. The people Pittsfield attracts are not middle class families and small businesses, as Pittsfield has seen big losses in population and jobs over the past decades.

    In traditional economics, a community invests in its people so they have good public schools, living wage jobs, affordable housing, healthcare, and financial security. The key term is “Invest in People!” In turn, the people pay taxes, shop at stores, and small businesses invest in hiring young adults so they can stay in their community they grew up in. In the classic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”, George Bailey’s town of Bedford Falls saw poor and working people as valuable investments, while Henry Potter’s town of Pottersville saw these same people as chattel to make Mr. Potter more and more wealthy at the expense of the community.

    I have long followed Pittsfield politics over the decades of my life of nearly 44 years, and the Good Old Boys who run the show in Pittsfield have done absolutely nothing to bring jobs back after GE left in 1990 – or 29 years ago. The distressed local economy in Pittsfield has led to growth in the underclass, violent crime, poorly performing public schools, and the like. Post-industrial Pittsfield has made more money from “perverse incentives” or public dollars from poverty than when the working class had living wage jobs in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The trade-off is that Pittsfield has become one of the most economically unequal communities in the state and nation.

    – Jonathan Melle

  29. The school committee
    July 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm #

    Let’s talk about Trump baiting racist instead of his other issue his party planning with Epstien and the minor young teens for 45 year olds.

    • ProxyDate
      July 21, 2019 at 3:58 pm #

      I think you mean the Clintons

  30. ProxyDate
    July 21, 2019 at 3:57 pm #

    And the plot thickens…..looking at some sealed records that will soon be unsealed.

    Chelsea Clinton and Ghislaine Maxwell were evidently VERY close so close in fact that Chelsea allegedly procured young girls for Maxwell to provide to Epstein.

    In a series of interview notes, an alleged victim makes the statement that she and her best friend (both 14 at the time) were introduced to Maxwell by Chelsea at a series of private “pool parties” at a Georgetown location while on summer break from Sidwell Friends School. The alleged victim knew, via friends, that if you went to a party at the “old man’s house” sometimes you would see the president (Bill Clinton) and that he and the owner of the house would provide alcohol.
    The alleged victim remarked that they didn’t have to get preapproved by the secret service, which would happen on other outings with Chelsea BUT they were required to dress in school uniforms (which were provided by Maxwell) as well as very specific and tiny bikinis as provided by Maxwell.
    Maxwell made a specific point of measuring each girl for their outfits and told them if there was a party and the girls were menstruating, they should skip the party.
    The alleged victim says she later went onto have sex with Epstein as well as a number of other men at his request. She eventually was “kicked out” of the parties as she developed an alcohol problem and got pregnant by an 48 year old she met at one of the parties. She was forced to have an abortion at just after her 16th birthday.

    • shakes
      July 22, 2019 at 6:33 am #

      I’m sure that s completely legit. Source Please?

  31. Bucky Wheet
    July 21, 2019 at 4:45 pm #

    Proxy get a clue,then a life,three and a half years of trump nonsense vs Clinton’s.

  32. Ben Weldon
    July 22, 2019 at 10:20 am #

    A question was posed in the other local paper: If the Pyramid Company had built the mall on North St. , would it have survived? I don’t need to go into all the political reasons Pyramid left Pittsfield.