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BIANCHI’s SHADY, POSSIBLY ILLEGAL BERKOWITZ SABOURIN APPOINTMENT NEEDS TO BE CHALLENGED. HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION, ARE YOU LISTENING? ‘WE THE PEOPLE’ ISSUE A MOURNFUL CRY FOR RELIEF

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By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, APRIL 29, 2014) — It was the redoubtable Joe Pinhead, one of THE PLANET‘s most astute, formidable, and scrupulous correspondents, who pointed out the supreme irony. On the night our Right Honorable Good Friends of the Pittsfield City Council unanimously approved Mayor Dan Bianchi‘s selection of Julia Berkowitz Sabourin to be his new director of administrative services, the council turned into Dr. Frankenstein and experimentally brought back to life the cadaver of the Human Rights Commission (HRC).

The HRC, sewn together from grave-dug body parts, has a choice: It can be an eye-slitted monster that will turn and destroy its creator, the mayor, or it can defy the myth and actually become a force for goodness and justice. Its first test already awaits the HRC. Will it investigate Bianchi’s suspicious, likely illegal appointment of a woman we have dubbed Lady Light Weight on the evidential basis of her halitosic resume.

Commission members are Celia Rock, school committee member Josh Cutler, city councilor Church Cotton, Pam Malumphy, Robert Sykes, Len Kates, Susan O’Leary, Pastor Alfred johnson, and Louis Perez.

Who among these members will prove themselves to be human beings concerned with civic morality and who will, by their kowtowing to the mayor’s political agenda, reveal their true nature as political hacks — rotting flesh that should have been left in the grave?

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When THE PLANET features a reader’s comment for treatment itself in a column, it is, as one correspondent pointed out, like that moment when Johnny Carson would invite a new comedian for a brief sit-down on the couch. That meant Johnny gave his ringing endorsement. Here’s what Joe Pinhead wrote:

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The entire Sabourin affair has become comical to say the least. We have an individual who through her own actions has demonstrated that she is devoid of moral character appointed in an extremely inappropriate manner on the same agenda that the Human Rights Commission is established.
Where to start on this one? Sabourin demonstrated that nothing as trivial as fact will get in her way as she does the dirty bidding of the Mayor and the School Committee. She railroaded Mr. Kinnas and self admittedly attempted to violate each and every citizens right to participate in a vibrant open Democracy.
I cite you example 1 from her “resume” (resume being used very loosly) “Municipal employee with knowledge of local, state and federal government processes and procedures.” Really? How many with such a command of those processes and procedures have been taken to the wood shed for open meeting violations? I recall the entire meeting was redone because the first one did not satisfy the law. Is it fair to presume that “..local, state and federal government processes and procedures.” Are drafted and developed within the guidelines of the LAW?
How sad that with all those impressive accomplishments she will go no further, she has reached the pinnacle of her career — Administrative Support Specialist Helping Out Local Electeds.Just sayin’but it is for the children Right?

——- 000 ——-

Right, Joe. It is always for “The Children” in Podunk. It’s never for ordinary citizens and taxpayers.

Bianchi Making a Mockery of Due Process

The HRC is supposed to prevent the very thing that Bianchi pulled with his apotheosis of Berkowitz Sabourin. In rewarding the girl for her lead role in the prosecution and persecution of Terry Kinnas in The Scopes Monkey Trial, Bianchi made a mockery not only of the HRC but also all notion of due process, fair play, and goodness in government. It’s time for Cutler, Malumphy and the rest of the commission to redeem the soiled condition of their birth at last Tuesday’s council meeting.

Even without her law breaking and her role in the Monkey Trial, Berkowitz Sabourin’s resume does not seem at all ideal for the position in the mayor’s office. One of THE PLANET’s readers posted the official job description and matched it with the girl’s resume. She’s about as suited for that job as Donald Sterling is for a spot on the HRC.

One never knows how such appointments will turn out, of course, but going in, as Joe P points out, the girl has already shown what appears to be a low moral character. Her fluff-n-puss resume brags of her vast knowledge of governmental procedures but makes no mention of how the state Attorney General’s office found her, as chairwoman of the Reid Community Outreach Subcommittee, guilty of a serious violation the law … or is that why Bianchi wants the girl. Is he counting on this appointment being unchallenged and thereby obtaining a compliant lackey who can double as hatchet girl?

From our sources in city hall, it appears Bianchi violated the spirit if not the letter of the city’s hiring practices when he secretly tapped Berkowitz Sabourin. We got wind of The Fix well before the job was even posted. THE PLANET predicted the crime, in advance. That didn’t stop the moribund mayor from snubbing his nose at We The People, to say nothing of anyone who might wished to have applied for the position, which pays $50,000 plus benefits worth between $16,000 and $17,000. We wonder, too, how many qualified people of color or from other minorities might have wanted a shot at the plum? How many of that subpopulation were invited to apply?

THE PLANET has contacted Mayor Bianchi asking him to comment and to share his perspective for the appointment. Likely the mayor will continue his policy of hiding from us, and that is his right. THE PLANET never wants it said, however, that we denied anyone, least of all Bianchi, a chance to speak. THE PLANET sent an request for comment, also, to Berkowitz Sabourin.

HRC Must File a Challenge to This Immoral, Likely Illegal, Appointment

The coincidental timing of the re-establishment of the HRC and the shady, possibly illegal appointment of Berkowitz Sabourin can be fortuitous — providing someone in official (or unofficial) Pittsfield files a challenge.

Celia Rock, step forward. Josh Cutler, the city needs you.  Church Cotton, you’re a brother, man. Surely you won’t sit idly by. Pam Malumphy, how about pummelin’ for a good cause? Robert Sykes, Len Kates, Susan O’Leary, Pastor Alfred johnson, and Louis Perez: Now’s your big chance to make an immediate, positive difference. Investigate what by all objective measure appears to be a shameful travesty of due process.

The HRC  has power to conduct hearings, “subpoena witnesses, compel their testimony, administer oaths, take … testimony,” and receive evidence. The new ordinance allows the HRC to “receive and investigate complaints of, and to initiate its own investigation of ‘discrimination in employment, housing, education, recreation[,] or public accommodations.” Alleged discrimination could involve individuals or groups, public or private, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, ancestry, marital status, handicap, or sexual orientation.

Great. Now how’s about the HRC takes the initiative by launching an investigation into the suspicious “Fix Is In” appointment of Bianchi’s third director of administrative services in a little more than one year.?

Thanks to Bianchi’s dud of a tenure as mayor, public confidence in government is at an all-time low in Pittsfield. Whether the new HRC knows it or not, many view it as just another self-important board with little passion for justice but a lot of interest in politics, the Status Quo, and names having their names spelled right on the letterhead. The Berkowitz Sabourin case is the perfect opportunity for the commission to step forward and show it will not be the mayor’s puppet.

This hire was done under the moist darkness of an ectoplasmic rock. The creepy-crawly things that have emerged since THE PLANET kicked over that rock have left a slime trail that leads directly into the corner office. The oozy scales dropped along the way serve as the breadcrumbs leading back to the corrupt source. There’s a lot of putrid, greenish guts dripping from the corner office pipes.

Thus, THE PLANET makes this public appeal to any and all members of the HRC: Do your job. Investigate, investigate, investigate.

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“There’s a place, where I can go when I feel low, when I feel blue. And it’s my mind.”The Beatles, “There’s a Place,” (1963).

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

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Rafael
Rafael
8 years ago

The HRC will not, and probably cannot, do anything about the Sabourin hiring. Apparently, she was hired because she is a political friend of Bianchi’s, and I do not see how it can be proved it was discrimination “based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, ancestry, marital status, handicap, or sexual orientation.”
There is nothing in anti discrimination laws about hiring your friends. Happens all the time in both public and private sectors. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve been turned down for a job I applied for, only to find out I was more qualified than the person they hired, but that person ‘knew someone’ or was related to someone.
Or the CEO who hires all his golf buddies to VP positions in his company.
Is it right, or fair? Of course not. Violation of anti discrimination laws? Probably not.

MrG1188
MrG1188
8 years ago

The CEO of a private company is held to a different standard than the “CEO” of a public entity like a city. While I will not pretend to know the letter of the law on this, I think it’s safe to say that just as there are very specific rules regarding the bidding process for performing public work, to prevent bid-rigging and patronage, there must also be very specific rules for public hiring processes to satisfy EEOC laws, as well as best practices to assure the best person gets the job…not the best-connected person. The very fact that this blog was able to NAME the new hire in advance of the job even being posted is reason enough to open an investigation. WHat comes of it, who can say, but it certainly should be looked into just as the announcement of a floor contractor to install a gym floor in a public school should be investigated if THAT announcement is made prior to an RFP being issued! Common sense.

shakes his head
shakes his head
Reply to  MrG1188
8 years ago

Are you kidding? No way the Mayor McCheese hires a person of color for his top assistant, because he doesn’t know any people of color!

Scott
Scott
Reply to  shakes his head
8 years ago

That’s only because there are no people of color qualified to be the mayors assistance, crap did I just say that out loud?

Bill Sturgeon
Bill Sturgeon
8 years ago

I don’t think that it person who was selected for the position, rather it was the process that was used. According to municipal hiring rules and regulations the position was posted.
I don’t know if anyone applied for the position other than the Ms. Berkowitz Sabourin.
It would be interesting to find out how many people actually applied for the position, their qualifications, and were they given a “fair and impartial” interview.

Pat
Pat
Reply to  Bill Sturgeon
8 years ago

It’s hard to believe that with so many people out of work that only one person applied for the job. That seems highly unlikely.

Pat
Pat
Reply to  danvalenti
8 years ago

I’d love to make the noise to fix this problem, but would need backup as well.

I believe I’m already on somebody’s list of not to hire me because of the fact that I have written articles and blogged against certain policies of the city in the past and this has not gone over well with others. That’s a big reason why I don’t put my full name on this column. Others can do that because they are established here and in a secure position, but I’m not that comfortable that my thoughts and comments wouldn’t be used against me seeing as how this area has such nasty politics and I do need a job.

Pat
Pat
Reply to  danvalenti
8 years ago

True. I have stopped applying at City Hall because its useless to try to get a job there. I have lived here all my life and worked hard and have great skills, but that gets little respect in this area.

Scott
Scott
Reply to  Pat
8 years ago

Put your skills to work privately it will be more rewarding in the long run.

Jamie
Jamie
8 years ago

All well and good but here’s my question, … Given that the city has a highly detailed hiring procedure(the letter of the law), if this job was posted fairly so that all could apply then how did DV get word of this weeks before any public announcement or any job posting?
Answer…the process was rigged. Thats precisely why the human rights commission is there.

Rafael
Rafael
8 years ago

I worked for a company, that due to their own Human Resource rules (or maybe even the law), had to post every job that came up, so that every one in the company had an ‘equal opportunity’ to appy for it. It was all BS. They always hired the person they had already hand picked for the job.
Again, it’s not right or fair. But try proving discrimination occurred? Good luck with that.
The HRC will do nothing on this, just watch.

C. J.
C. J.
8 years ago

The personnel practices emanating from Pittfield city hall are convoluted and capricious at best.
There is a certain irony in that one of Bianchi’s chosen minions who was part of the Berkshire Works executive director screening committee, is now, ex post facto the Monterosso allegations, claiming discrimination against the mayor and the very selection process that he was an integral part of.
This is the same member of the screening committee that Bianchi cited in the BE as demonstrating his objectivity in the hiring process. It is even more hypocritical , if this 35 year employee of Bershire Works claims age discrimination as behind closed doors he denigrated older applicants and used innuendo during the interviews to elicit their age as a negative.
Another possible twist is that this poor, downtrodden discriminated Berkshire Works employee is a long time North Adams fringe politician. Where is John Barrett, the replaced Berkshire Works exec. dir. from and isn’t he a North Adams pol. ?
Good luck HRC. Maybe the Sheffield Shuffler, John Deangelo will become the mayor’s champion.
”Oh, What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”.- Sir Walter Scott.

Pat
Pat
Reply to  C. J.
8 years ago

I agree that the hiring practices of city hall are very suspicious. Again, it’s who you know, that gets you the job and not your qualifications. As a 53 year old who has been trying to find a job for what seems like forever in this area, I can tell you that age discrimination is alive and well and a lot of it does come from Berkshire Works. I have attempted to get into a training program there, but keep getting discouraged from doing it due largely due, I believe, to the fact that I’m an older worker. They do not want to invest money and time into an older worker. I have questioned them on this repeatedly and they deny it by siting other reasons why I’m not eligible for training programs, but their reasons for not accepting me do not seem legitimate. I have at least another 12 to 15 years when I would like to be working, but in this area that seems like an impossible dream.

Scott
Scott
Reply to  C. J.
8 years ago

CJ I enjoyed that post.

Hilly Billy
Hilly Billy
8 years ago

This hire by Mayor Nothing is as phony as thee dollar bill. Agree HRC will do nothing but only because its a do-nothing bunch. Hear see speak no evil bec. thats how the mayor wants it.

Scott
Scott
Reply to  Hilly Billy
8 years ago

You’re allowed to say “queer” on this site. I hope…

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
8 years ago

Dan Valenti’s criticisms of Julia Berkowitz Sabourin is over the top. In terms of diversity, Julia Sabourin is a woman. She may be a minority, too. Why don’t we give her a chance to do her job before we try to take her down? What if Julia B. Sabourin does a first-rate job for Mayor Dan Bianchi? If Dan Valenti had his way, we would never know!
Jimmy Ruberto hired Johnny Barrett for multiple plum jobs. No one filed a discrimination complaint.
Terry Kinnas has a long history of filing complaints against local officials in Pittsfield politics. He filed “ethics” complaints against Jimmy Ruberto. He filed “open meeting law” complaints against Dan Bianchi. To use Terry Kinnas as a victim of being persecuted and railroaded is only a small piece of the story. Terry Kinnas is pretty good at going after Pittsfield politicians, too.
Dan Valenti dislikes Dan Bianchi. That is the bottom line here. While I agree with a lot of what Dan Valenti has to say and write about Pittsfield politics, I disagree with his excessive criticisms of Julia Berkowitz Sabourin.

ed shepardson
ed shepardson
Reply to  Jonathan Melle
8 years ago

I may hate myself for this but… Jonathon, I don’t believe Mr. Valenti is picking on Ms. Sabourin personally. I believe he is questioning her qualifications and the circumstances surrounding her hiring.

joetaxpayer
joetaxpayer
Reply to  Jonathan Melle
8 years ago

(S)

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
Reply to  joetaxpayer
8 years ago

I think Dan Valenti raises valid points, but logic and reason are two different things. I agree to disagree with Dan Valenti on Julia Sabourin. My feeling on the matter is that she should be given a chance to do her job before we pass judgment on her. What is her vision for Pittsfield? How will she deal with Pittsfield politics? Is she an effective public manager? She has the job. It is over! Dan Valenti’s arguments are academic. Let us see how she does working for the Mayor of Pittsfield.

Spider
Spider
8 years ago

Let’s get off of this Sabourin thing. We all know it’s a fixed deal….done all the time….and nothing anyone can do about it. including the HRC (even if they wanted to).

Let’s go back and zero in on the upcoming school budget. Sabourin’s appointment isn’t going to hurt the taxpayers….but the school budget sure as hell will!

Who among our City Council members will stand up and be counted?

Let’s not count on Tully for this one! Why you ask?

dusty
dusty
8 years ago

You would have thought that with certain people watching Pittsfield s hiring practices closely that the mayor would have at least gone through the motions. Take some applications, do a couple of pretend interviews, put some lipstick on this pig.

But he obviously does not give a brown stool what people think. How great is that for everyone who had high hopes for change in Pittsfield?

Nota
Nota
8 years ago

Gee, wonder if the new staff member is connected, somehow. Kick A Buck! Clairmont,Low and Krol are very silent lately.

Bill Sturgeon
Bill Sturgeon
8 years ago

Jonathan I have to agree with DV. I respect you as a fellow serviceman, but please get off Ruberto and Doyle. We know you hate them and think they did a horrible job, that’s you opinion and you right.

Jonathan there are certain things that while they may be legal (perhaps) they are just not ethical.

Dan I know your thing is the school budget but, this pay raise deal the mayor is trying to get passed by the Council is unbelieveable and will cost the City mega bucks.

I will be “SHOCKED” if the council passes it once they realize what it will cost the City now and in the future. I am placing my faith in the “Integrity” of the Council. Check it out!!

ed shepardson
ed shepardson
Reply to  Bill Sturgeon
8 years ago

Bill, I don’t think you need to respect everyone just because they served. Hitler served, Ghadafy served, Saddam served, William Calley served, Rumsfeld, Bush II and Cheney all served as leaders of the pack. I appreciate your loyalty to the comrades who served in another one of our wars that should have never been, but you need not respect everyone who served. Some, quite frankly, don’t deserve it.

Scott
Scott
Reply to  ed shepardson
8 years ago

People who served the United States Ed not foreign evil dictators. Plus you can respect a persons service and not thier opinion political or otherwise.

ed shepardson
ed shepardson
Reply to  Scott
8 years ago

Calley, Rumsfeld, Bush II and Cheney were not foreign, evil dictators. I don’t think.

Scott
Scott
Reply to  ed shepardson
8 years ago

You can still respect the fact they gave thier life to the US in the form of a career yet whether or not it benefited us is another debate.

ed shepardson
ed shepardson
Reply to  Scott
8 years ago

I respect those who do their jobs well. I don’t respect mass murderers.

Johnny2Shoes
Johnny2Shoes
8 years ago

I remember a time when pay raises were earned from hard work and going above and beyond. Raises were also based on how well the company was doing profit wise. Is the mayor saying the flow chart is in a upward trend?

Johnny2Shoes
Johnny2Shoes
8 years ago

Ah, A good one! My brother hired a new girl at his place after the girl pretty much begged for a job. The first day she came in as he was making the schedule out and was looking it over and said, Geez, I can’t work that day because and that day because. This after stating she was willing to work most days that were offered her up front! Took her uniform and sent her on her way.

Nota
Nota
8 years ago

Was watching the news, and in Albany, the city council supoenaed an employee, or inquisition. Is this practice practical or legal in Pittsfield?

Bill sturgeon
Bill sturgeon
8 years ago

Ed, as a Vietnam Veteran I strive to live up to our motto “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another”
Cheney was never in the service. As for Lt. Calley you have to been there. I am not excusing what he did, but I may have a better perspective on why he did it.

ed shepardson
ed shepardson
Reply to  Bill sturgeon
8 years ago

Bill,

Bill, I mean no disrespect to those who served honorably and you should really read the book “Kill Everything That Moves.” And Cheney was in a position to command the deployment of troops.