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MONTEROSSO RESIGNATION ENDS ANOTHER PERSONNEL DISASTER BY BIANCHI … TALE ILLUSTRATES THE PRICE A COMMUNITY PAYS WHEN IT ESCHEWS COMPETENCE IN FAVOR OF POLITICAL HACKS

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By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, MAY 20, 2014) — The resignation of William Monterosso as executive director of Berkshire Works — first reported by THE PLANET, who was also the first to bring the spotlight on the situation in the first place — ends one phase of a sorry saga brought about by another disastrous personnel decision made by Pittsfield Mayor Dan Bianchi.

We say “disastrous” because it was unnecessary. How much “due diligence” did the mayor and his search committee perform when looking to fill the big footprint of John Barrett III? Also, think of the impact it had on out-of-work folks who depend on agencies such as Berkshire Works being something more than a resting home for political hacks who need a situation.

In his blind haste to deep-six Barrett from Berkshire Works, sources say, Bianchi employed the dreaded “nationwide search.” It ended in bringing Monterosso to Berkshire Works on Jan. 21, 2014, not long after he had left public-sector executive jobs in Kentucky and Virginia in what appears to be a right-quick hurry. Monterosso, a Pittsfield native, was in the same high school graduating class as former state senator, register of deeds, and failed congressional candidate Andy Nuciforo, sources say, adding that “they were buddies.” It is widely believed that Nuciforo brought Monterosso’s name before Bianchi.

What’s that “they” say: “It’s not what you know, it’s …”

Though Monterosso’s exit from Berkshire Works is being called a resignation, it’s clear he had little choice in the matter. With pressure mounting from internal complaints, with the mayor looking for a way out of a wet corner, and with state job officials angered over these latest Pittsfield shenanigans, it was only a matter of time before Monterosso’s affiliation with Berkshire Works came to an inglorious end.

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Sources say city personnel director John DeAngelo notified Monterosso by phone yesterday afternoon (Monday, 5-19). Monterosso has been on administrative leave with pay. DeAngelo’s call came following a meeting he had with long-time Berkshire Works employee Dan Collins, who late last month filed a discrimination complaint against Monterosso with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD).

MCAD has yet to rule on the complaint, the nature of which hasn’t been officially revealed. Sources say Collins complaint includes allegations of age discrimination and harassment. It’s unclear what effect Monterosso’s resignation will have on the discrimination suit.

Sources say that prior to Monterosso’s resignation, the atmosphere at Berkshire Works has been dominated by fear, toxicity, and intimidation. One source intimately familiar with the day-to-day activities of the office says that since Monterosso’s hiring, the agency has become “frozen” and ineffective.

Sources familiar with Monterosso’s management style described it as that of “a blowhard with an arrogant personality.” One source says Monterosso “made enemies all over the state [with officials] in workforce development.” For example, the source says Monterosso would attend professional conferences “and tell the professionals there how to do their job. ‘He’d say, “That’s not how we did it in Kentucky.”‘”

Ah, good ol’ Kentucky. Where everyone has the same DNA. Where birds fly upside down because there’s not enough on which to crap. Where the toothbrush was invented. How do we know? Because if it was invented anywhere else, it would have been called a “teethbrush.”

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Then there’s the infamous “Fish Story” that’s been running wild through the offices and corridors of city hall. The story goes that Berkshire Works hosted a workshop on a Friday afternoon. Most of the attendees were female, including many nurses. At one point, according to the fable, Monterosso said out loud, “I know it’s Friday, but boy does it smell fishy in here today.” Attendees were shocked.

“[Berkshire Works] employees were scared to death” of Monterosso, one source said. “Some employees would literally get sick to their stomach” having to work there.

It’s interesting to note that when John Barrett’s contract expired, Barrett applied for re-instatement. In that first round of the executive search, Barrett and one other person applied for the job. That person dropped out, leaving only Barrett. BW staffers confirm they wrote a “please keep John Barrett” letter to Bianchi. They wrote to Bianchi, said a former staffer, because the office was running smoothly, with quotas met, morale high, and an internal audit that uncovered no issues.

Bianchi had other intentions than to keep Barrett, however. Barrett could have been a combination of Gandhi, the Cisco Kid, and Tupelo Honey, and Bianchi still wouldn’t have had him back.

Old Jamaican saying: “Politics be hot, and him bite hard.”

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Rather than deliver the word personally, Bianchi had DeAngelo tell Barrett he would not be coming back. The mayor then instituted a second-round talent search. Sources say that’s when Nuciforo got involved, telling Bianchi “about his buddy [Monterosso].” It should be noted that the first call for candidates did not include Monterosso.

Shortly after Monterosso took over on Jan. 21, BW staff began to complain to DeAngelo that “Something’s wrong with this guy.” Sources say DeAngelo and the mayor met regarding the situation more than once but decided to do nothing, hoping the situation would settle itself. Above all, sources say, the mayor wanted to keep the deteriorating situation hidden from the public.

And what of the silence of Heather Boulger, executive director of the Berkshire County Regional Employment Board? BCREB is the umbrella agency for Berkshire Works. Boulger’s style has been described as “trying to fly below the radar,” indicating the type of timid bureaucrat who may be in over her head but one who has political cover and an instinct for political survival. Generally, such a talent involves a lot of “yessing” and little to no independence. Boulger, sources say, was notified about the problems with Monterosso two months ago, yet she did nothing. Note also that the BCREB board includes a “Who’s Who” of The Suits, people like Al Ingegni III, Mike Supranowicz, and Doug McNally. They, too, did nothing — except once again fail the public and the poor, beaten-down staff of Berkshire Works.

Perhaps that is the most revelatory aspect of the Monterosso Affair. It illustrates what happens to a community when the political hacks take over. When trouble comes, as it always will, the hacks don’t want to make waves. They have a vested interest in maintaining the fiction that everything’s Ethel Merman, you know, coming up roses.

Meanwhile, the good, honest, ordinary people of the community see through the lies and liars, the fakes and the phonies. The Monterosso case shows what can happen when good people ignore the fear, speak up, and act to take back their government. It sure beats apathy.

We sense a build-up. It’s arriving slowly for We The People, but it is arriving. One way of the other, the Status Quo has to come down.

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“One summer day, she went away, gone and left me. She’s gone to stay. She’s gone, but I don’t worry. I’m sittin’ on top of the world.” — By numerous artists including Cream, Les Paul and Mary Ford, Doc Watson, and Howlin’ Wolf, “Sittin’ on Top of the World,” (1930).

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

 

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dusty
dusty
8 years ago

I doubt there was ever a “nationwide search”. The guy they wanted was from a state far away so it just sounded good to call it as such.

Then, as now, they should just call it a “political hack” search.

C. J.
C. J.
Reply to  dusty
8 years ago

My myopic Pittsfield native reasoning, can’t connect all the dots in this typical Pittsfield city personnel quagmire. Dan Collins of North Adams, a political ally of North Adams’ own John Barrett, filed an age discrimination complaint against newly hired B-Works executive director, Wm Monterosso, who is politically connected to his attorney, Andrea Nuciforo. However, this very same Dan Collins was a integral member of the search committee, that recruited, interviewed and recommended Monterosso for the job. This same search committee that Dan Collins was part of also included John DeAngelo, the Sheffield, MA Shuffler, who also recruited, interviewed, recommended, and obstensibly did a “professional” background check on Monterosso. Why was Dan Collins so hot to trot to hire Monterosso over all other candidates, except perhaps his buddy John Barrett ? It’s obvious John DeAngelo manages Pittsfield Personnel Dept., with the same adroitness he displayed at the defunct Kobourne School. Also impressed with Monterosso had to be the other members of this questionable search committee which included Hidden Heather, Carmelized Sue and some HR dweb from Hillcrest School.
Ironically, Dan Collins was the first search committee member to raise the longevity (age) issue during the post interview discussion sessions.
Maybe Mayor Bianchi should have displayed some strong mayor ,prowness and simply made an executive appointment without the drama and facade of a nationwide search committe. Jim Ruberto wasn’t timid when making appointments.

Matt
Matt
8 years ago

Berkshireworks requires leadership of the most adroit sort to meld its disparate elements of state and local employees and staff engaged in a wide variety of programs into a cohesive effective unit. In such difficult employment times the people of Berkshire County deserve the best services possible. A search for a new director should focus on widely disseminated ads seeking a person with strong background in human service programs with special attention to the demonstrated ability to create and lead a staff. A salary of 90,000+ should draw a large number of well qualified candidates. The people of Berkshire County desperately need a positive, dynamic, people oriented leader of Berkshireworks.

Selecting people from an interview is difficult. The more points of view brought to the process the better. The screening committee should have several levels of interviews: one with business owners and consumers, one with Berkshireworks staff, and one with city and county leaders. Due diligence in background review should be completed for this important appointment. The effort it takes to find and hire an outstanding individuals is far less than the convulsive dynamics of the past four months.

Demonstrate that the process is above politics and is for the people! Do it right!

Pat
Pat
8 years ago

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!

Shakes His Head
Shakes His Head
8 years ago

And the residents that our elected leaders represent, those that truly need resources from BerkshireWorks, are the ones that suffer with no accountability.

Jamie
Jamie
8 years ago

More great coverage DV. I agree that the major lesson in this is the consequences of hiring hacks instead of talent into key positions. That’s why the city is reeling.

Shakes His Head
Shakes His Head
8 years ago

Maybe the City should hire some Clowncilors and a Mayor that aren’t hacks.

Silence Dogood
Silence Dogood
8 years ago

I guess the hacks feel obliged to get the family FLICKUPS jobs after after they mess up everywhere else. good work Andy N.

EddieP
EddieP
8 years ago

I see in todays BB that “Freehouse” is leaving.

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
8 years ago

Nuciforo is a Good Old Boy who has ran Pittsfield politics for the past 2 decades. He is my enemy #1. Over one decade ago, I tried to find a job – any job – in Pittsfield as a young man in my mid-20’s, but no one would hire me for over one year of my life. Nuciforo blacklisted me from employment because I spoke out against him. In early-2004, when I was collecting nomination signatures to run against Nuciforo for State Senator, people told me they wouldn’t sign my nomination papers because they feared losing their jobs if they supported me. Nuciforo rules Pittsfield politics by fear via his political network that screws people who oppose him. Nuciforo has made many enemies over the past 2 decades during his reign over Pittsfield politics. Nuciforo’s Aunt, Anne E. Wojtkowski, was Mayor of Pittsfield when she hired Dan Bianchi to work for her administration. That is why Mayor Dan Bianchi hired one of Nuciforo’s cronies to head Berkshire Works earlier this year. Bianchi is beholden to Nuciforo and his political network because they gave Bianchi his start in Pittsfield politics and supported him ever since.

Scott
Scott
Reply to  Jonathan Melle
8 years ago

Haven’t you been a Bianchi GOB denier all this time? I was wondering what your take would be now that there’s evidence he’s connected to all the same movers and shakers.