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SOURCES SAY FRIDAY HEARING ON FRIERI A FORMALITY, A PRELUDE TO HER FIRING … HAS TES AGAIN LEFT CITY WIDE OPEN?

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By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, AUG. 13, 2014) — Early Monday morning, THE PLANET heard from a source that suspended Pittsfield veteran’s agent Rosanne Frieri had been fired. The report turned out to be inaccurate — by five days. The hearing scheduled for Friday, 10:30 a.m., at city hall will end in Frieri’s firing. The hearing will be a termination hearing — a workplace execution.

The Empty Suit: The unraveling continues.

Pittsfield’s “illustrious” mayor has turned a personnel issue into what could become an open-ended legal mess that could cost the city  dearly.

Was Frieri Set Up to be Fired?

Speaking on condition of anonymity, well-placed sources, including one claiming knowledge of the legal aspects of the case, say the city has made up its mind to fire Frieri in advance. On Friday, they say, the city will follow through with a plan that has been in the works for “some time.”

City hall sources say the firing was decided long before either Frieri’s suspension or her imminent firing. If this is true, it would suggest another Done Deal and another egregious violation of due process and personal civil liberties.

THE PLANET has requested comment from the mayor and city personnel director John DeAngelo. As of press time, they had not gotten back to us. Yeah, we’re shocked, too. You don’t think they would duck us on a story like this, do you?

No Documentation, Frieri Says; Liability, HR Pros Offer

Frieri has told THE PLANET the city presented with her no documentation of its actions when DeAngelo, at the mayor’s order, went to her office last Friday and suspended her without pay. Frieri also said the city presented her with no paperwork regarding the suspension. Both the mayor and DeAngelo have not returned our previous calls on these points.

HR professionals contacted by THE PLANET say the actions of the mayor and DeAngelo “could leave itself wide open” for legal action.

A source we shall call HR1 is personnel manager for one of county’s largest employers. HR1 says suspension without pay is meant to be a “progressive disciplinary measure.” It is generally considered an employer’s penultimate means of discipline prior to termination, HR1 says, a “remedy of last resort.” HR1 says “suspension without pay is not to be used lightly,” and when an employer decides to go that route, “it should document everything.”

One key question will be: Has there been a series of previous and progressive disciplinary actions leading up to Frieri’s suspension? For example, was she previously written up, docked a day’s pay, or demoted prior to Friday? Was she given a chance to rectify any problematic behavior? What does her personnel file show?

“I’d have to see the files,” HR1 said, “but I sure wouldn’t want to be the [personnel manager] in a situation like that.”

‘City Could be Legally Exposed’

Another source, HR2, works in personnel for one of the city’s leading private-sector employers. HR2 agrees with HR1, saying the city will be in a “much better position” if it has documented prior disciplinary actions against Frieri before handing her suspension without pay. Without such a paper trail, the city could be legally exposed, particularly if the record shows no progressive actions against Frieri and her previous job performance has been satisfactory.

HR2 makes an interesting distinction on the question of job performance: In this case, “performance” will be a narrow, legal consideration and not dependent on the perceptions of the veterans in the community. “Performance” will be defined strictly on how Frieri measured up to her job expectations as outlined by her superiors (the mayor) and the city personnel handbook.

“If they fire her on Friday,” HR2 said, “with no previous documentation in Frieri’s personnel file, it would definitely be a cause for concern. I would not want to be in the city’s shoes.”

In addition to the city’s general exposure, HR2 said — adding the caveat of not having seen the actual files — Bianchi, DeAngelo, and possibly the city solicitor could be personally liable to legal action on Frieri’s part. Again, we have repeatedly solicited comments from the mayor and personnel director to get their side, but they have not responded.

‘A Legal Can of Worms’

Our sources say that if the city has no documentation for the suspension without pay, firing Frieri on Friday could “open a legal can of worms.” They add that verbally suspending without pay, as Frieri says the city did to her on Friday, would be unusual and highly problematic.

As for “just cause,” HR1 and 2 suggest that suspension without pay is usually reserved for obvious cases of “severe” employee malfeasance. Examples include theft, threatening or unsafe behavior at work, or blatant violation of company policy  such as sexual harassment, drug use, and lawbreaking.

“This provision [suspension without pay] refers to serious misconduct, not performance or attendance issues,” according to the website hr.org.

THE PLANET points out that when three city DPU workers were suspended over allegations of theft, the suspensions were with pay — even though the city said it had evidence on surveillance video. Moreover, you will recall the hiring and dismissal of William Monterosso as executive director of Berkshire Works. He, too, was suspended with pay.

Thus, why without pay in Frieri’s case?

What Does The Book Say?

ROSANNE FRIERI

Another factor is the city’s employee handbook. Are the city’s reasons for the suspension (and the soon-to-be firing) clearly explained as prohibited in its personnel handbook? For an employee to be suspended, the employee have sufficient education and knowledge beforehand that the offending behavior was not allowed according to company policy.

HR.org says: “If you believe that the unpaid suspension was actually a form of discrimination, rather than discipline for misconduct, if may be advisable to consult with an experienced Labor and Employment attorney to determine your rights.”

Another key factor is Frieri’s status as an exempt employee. Suspending exempt employees without pay is far trickier than non-exempt. The website findlaw.com says “an employer may not make improper deductions from the salary of an exempt employee.” An unsupportable suspension without pay would be such a deduction.

——– 000 ——–

Were the deductions in Frieri’s salary for a week “improper?” Is this just another in a growing line of cases pointing to gross professional incompetence in the corner office? We shall see. The city will have its chance to make the case. If the case files can justify the actions of the mayor and DeAngelo, there should be no problem. If not — “Woah, Nellie!” as Keith Jackson would exclaim.

One thing is certain: Frieri is not going to go quietly into the night.

———————————————————————————————-

“I got a woman, way over town, that’s good to me.” — the genius of Ray Charles.

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

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Luke
Luke
6 years ago

How many human rights complaints are now in the MCAD or EEOC hopepers. while they move slowly the city and/or the individuals (if human right s violations are found) can be severe for the length of time from the violation the finding. Get ready to raise the taxes again!

dusty
dusty
6 years ago

I would like to suggest that when this whole Bianchi debacle is turned into a reality show that eighty percent of the revenue be used to lower property taxes for the residents of Pittsfield.
I have asked my council person to try to get this into the charter as an addendum. But she is concerned that a show might be a violation of the open meeting laws.

MrG1188
MrG1188
6 years ago

Firing Frieri Friday…say THAT 5 times fast!

levitan
levitan
Reply to  MrG1188
6 years ago

Friday is the best day for a firing, MrG1188. Who ever got the boot on a Wednesday or Thursday?

Magic
Magic
6 years ago

Since the City Council approved all the raises and nothing more was mentioned in this mornings BB can we assume that the move to 100 North St., is a done deal as well.
Ms. Frieri, I am so sorry if you have been done wrong

Wilson
Wilson
6 years ago

Just eliminate the position, the feds broke the veterans they should fix them.

I Care About Pittsfield
I Care About Pittsfield
6 years ago

Sorry Rosanne for the injustice. You have a lot of community support.

Scott
Scott
6 years ago

Dan, I wonder if excerpts from this very site referring to Ms Frieri as an incompetent “trifecta minority” who holds the position based on some warped interpretation of affirmative action can be submitted legally in any hearing or process. Are you taking back all you said before? I’ll admit I laughed at the tag but bigotry isn’t so easily purged from a life time of exposure. I’m a work in process and battle conditioned prejudices everyday. The reason most people get pissed is unless you served active duty you don’t qualify for full benefits. Full benefits are reserved for people who did unspeakable acts of bravery and almost paid the ultimate price for the complex or freedom I can’t say those people have to answer what they faught and bled for. With tht said it does look like this mayor has just put one more nail in his coffin.

ed shepardson
ed shepardson
Reply to  Scott
6 years ago

Scott, it’s important to remember that veterans of my age, no matter how or where they served, were forced into service, or face jailtime. We were forced to give up our homes, our families, our jobs. And veterans can receive benefits without serving in combat. We get pissed, not because we are denied benefits. We get pissed when we consistently get bad information. The Pittsfield’s Veterans agent has at least 6 other jobs, some using City Hall’s address and phone. Truly needy veterans, and I’m not one of them, need more than a part time agent. And what a stupid system it is to allow this.

levitan
levitan
Reply to  ed shepardson
6 years ago

Ed,

Before extolling her virtues as a wronged-woman – fired! – she was roundly criticized here for lackluster performance and job-hopping, if my memory serves me well. Of course they didn’t really mean all that, though.

Scott, nothing that is spoken here has weight in court – not even merits a harrassment order.

ed shepardson
ed shepardson
Reply to  levitan
6 years ago

The enemy of my enemy is my friend, perhaps?

levitan
levitan
Reply to  ed shepardson
6 years ago

I plot a straight course, my not-a-friend. In this solar system, pawns will of course be sacrificed, queens too.

ed shepardson
ed shepardson
Reply to  ed shepardson
6 years ago

I was writing of the sudden kid glove treatment of Ms. Frieri on Planet Valenti.

levitan
levitan
Reply to  ed shepardson
6 years ago

Of course you are.

Scott
Scott
Reply to  levitan
6 years ago

Levitan, I know. What’s more interesting to me is ones ability to be racist or discriminatory without being aware of it. Just ask the mayor!

Scott
Scott
Reply to  ed shepardson
6 years ago

Ed, it’s my understanding from nurmerous vets that unless you go active duty you don’t get full benefits. I’m not at liberty to say who deserves what all I know is if they’re letting guys die who actually saw combat what do you think they’re gonna do for a guy they drafted put through boot camp and training then sent them home after serving on some base for a year or whatever???

ed shepardson
ed shepardson
Reply to  Scott
6 years ago

Scott, I have been trying to figure that out since May of 2012. I still don’t know. It seems that people who are being paid to know, should know. What I do know is that 22 veterans commit suicide every day. I repeat, every single day. Part timers helping vets just doesn’t cut it.

levitan
levitan
Reply to  ed shepardson
6 years ago

In fact, we had several (one that I can think of) vets commit suicide in Pittsfield in the past few years.

ed shepardson
ed shepardson
Reply to  ed shepardson
6 years ago

Scott, here’s a flashback for you. A chat with me and Ms. Frieri….

[Comment >From Ed Ed: ]
I served in the US Army Reserve from 1970 until 1973 and then in the Vermont National Guard until 1976. Basic at Fort Campbell, AIT at Fort Polk.Honorably discharged. I’m now 62. Are than any benefits available to me or how can I find out?
[Comment >From Rosanne Rosanne: ]
if you have an honorable discharge you should be able to enroll in the VA health care system

So Scott, am I eligible or not? And I’m now 64 and I still don’t know.

JB
JB
Reply to  Scott
6 years ago

Scott, ‘serving on some base for a year or whatever” IS active duty. Not combat, yet still active. I was active 72 to 76, Reserves ’til 78. Not withstanding ed predicament, active doesn;t mean what you wrote.

Scott
Scott
Reply to  JB
6 years ago

Ok I’m wrong then. My buddy served ten years in the national guard and never got deployed and an honorable discharge and he says he’s not eligae for full benefits. I’m sure you can enroll for health benefits is there another place you can fill out paper work? I’d say if you’re ability allows you’re better off getting insurance on your own. I think te govt should take care of ALL our troops so don’t get me wrong. My biological father has full benefits and so doesn’t a close family friend they get paid big time but it’s not worth what they went through in Vietnam. My father volunteered the family friend was drafted.

ed shepardson
ed shepardson
Reply to  JB
6 years ago

Scott, maybe you’re not wrong. Here’s a later exchange with Ms. Frieri….

“I need a definite answer, one way or the other, if I am entitled to any benefits. PLEASE let me know.
Thank you.”

“Not entitled”
Rosanne M. Frieri
Director/Veterans’ Service Officer

Gronk
Gronk
6 years ago

So the Mayor is going to fire a veteran who happens to be gay. WOW! No law suit there!

Nota
Nota
6 years ago

My condolences to Ms.Fireri also.

Bill
Bill
6 years ago

Levitan wrote “Scott, nothing that is spoken here has weight in court – not even merits a harrassment order.” Thats not what you said to me

levitan
levitan
Reply to  Bill
6 years ago

Bill,

My editor has put a quota on my use of letters, words, and punctuation.

Briefly, food is merchandise and follows different standards.

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
6 years ago

It looks like a Kangaroo Court ran by Mayor Dan “Kangaroo” Bianchi and his “Kangaroo” minions.
What the pending termination of Veterans’ Director Rosanne Frieri is really about is taking away her benefits. She will lose her health benefits and a future retirement from the municipality named the City of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
It is both mean-spirited and vindictive!

levitan
levitan
Reply to  Jonathan Melle
6 years ago

Wouldn’t separating Frieri from Pittsfield bennys and pension be a good thing for Pittsfield taxpayers?

dusty
dusty
Reply to  levitan
6 years ago

Kind of ironic though that it is being done by a guy who is sitting in the mayors chair while working elsewhere. And many feel that he himself is doing so just to pad his own retirement package.

levitan
levitan
Reply to  dusty
6 years ago

How about term limits for public employees as well as elected? Of course we’d have to do something about the Union strangleholds. I like where we are going here.

Jonathan,

Wow, that was brief!

Would it be a bad thing for Pittsfield Taxpayers if Ms Frieri were separated from the Pittsfield Treasury? If so, should she be retained for future use and have a temporary hired to fulfill the responsibilities of the position?

B
B
Reply to  dusty
6 years ago

That is just one reason to recall mayor Pinocchio.

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
Reply to  levitan
6 years ago

That is an absurd question!

Scott
Scott
Reply to  levitan
6 years ago

Sure and you mayor can go with her!

levitan
levitan
Reply to  Scott
6 years ago

I can go along with that, Scott. “All politicians need to be changed as frequently as diapers.”(1) But firing an unaccomplished Mayor already has a process other than fake candidacies.

1) In so many words….

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
Reply to  levitan
6 years ago

When you do business as an employee, you make a contract with your employer that you will perform your job without being treated unfairly or illegally and you will receive pay and benefits in return. That is the deal! Those are the rules! If your employer chooses to mistreat you, then you have the right to pursue legal recourse to protect your job, pay and benefits. The final abuse is for your employer to terminate your employment so he or she can take away your pay and benefits.
Mayor Dan Bianchi looks like a Kangaroo running a Kangaroo Court against Rosanne Frieri. Multiple people have come forward to the news media alleging abuse against them by Mayor Dan Bianchi. Here is a case where he is accusing Rosanne Frieri of not satisfactorily performing her job as Pittsfield Veterans’ Director without admitting his own errors, such as not giving her written documentation to back up his actions against her.

levitan
levitan
Reply to  levitan
6 years ago

It’s an unfair world, JM and people are unfairly treated whereever you find offices.

Scott
Scott
Reply to  levitan
6 years ago

I agree and Bianchi has worn out his welcome. The “you” was a typo it was supposed to be *the.

Silence Dogood
Silence Dogood
Reply to  Jonathan Melle
6 years ago

A great new name for Bianchi , Captain Dangaroo

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
Reply to  Silence Dogood
6 years ago

All I know is that while I have made mistakes and I am a person with flaws, I have a conscience, and I need to sleep at night. We can’t do anything to change the past, but we can make a difference now and we change the future for the better.

YOMomma
YOMomma
Reply to  Silence Dogood
6 years ago

Love the new name!

B
B
Reply to  Silence Dogood
6 years ago

I like Pinocchio.

Nota
Nota
6 years ago

Did the treasurer get a raise. Where can we get a list of increases as well as those who won’t receive any? I’ll keep clear of them.

Pat
Pat
6 years ago

It seems that all the raises were improved for city managers and the mayor too I think. The ones who approved it said it would help to retain the managers if they get lots more money. An increase of some 43% was approved for one management position.

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
Reply to  Pat
6 years ago

When Beacon Hill passed its most recent state budget, the District Attorneys, County Sheriffs, and Trial Court Judges all got big pay raises effective July 1, 2014. The Massachusetts Legislature took care of the politically connected top criminal justice officials. It must be nice to make well over $150,000 + state government benefits per year in the name of the rule of law!

CraigS
CraigS
6 years ago

I’ll bet they have a documented “story” they are crafting right now that will include something about the funding of her office and use of grant money.

This is all going to go back to the horse therapy and interviews she’s done and a trip she took. They will claim that it is some gross insubordination or some gross malfeasance…it will be trumped up but they will make their “case”. In the end it will end up costing Pittsfield a bunch of money but whatever. In the end the more interesting case will be when she sues each personally for a civil rights violation, the City won’t pay for their lawyers and they will each be held personally responsible….there is no indemnification when a city employee violates a persons civil rights.

Bianchi is going to find the term “hostile work environment” to be his albatross.

ed shepardson
ed shepardson
Reply to  CraigS
6 years ago

Craig, nice to hear from you again. Sorry you feel the need not to use your full name. Here’s a “what if” for you. What if, Ms. Frieri, in addition to freelancing as a veterans agent in other towns (Richmond included) while using Pittsfield’s city hall contact info, obtained funding for the veterans’ equine therapy program to benefit a friend, or even herself? This is Pittsfield, anything can happen. A city councilor runs an illegal gambling operation, nobody cares. Having written that, I would find no satisfaction in witnessing her dismissal for reasons other than the right reasons.

Joe Blow
Joe Blow
Reply to  ed shepardson
6 years ago

What councilor runs a gambling operation??

ed shepardson
ed shepardson
Reply to  Joe Blow
6 years ago

Planet Valenti doesn’t know?

ed shepardson
ed shepardson
Reply to  Craig Swinson
6 years ago

Seems like Ms. Frieri should know this, Craig. She did not.

Craig Swinson
Craig Swinson
Reply to  ed shepardson
6 years ago

The best way to find out eligibility is to actually file for benefits. It then gets sent in to Boston (or the VA depending on where you file) and a benefits specialist determines your eligibility.

If you need help, let me know and I’ll help you I have to do this now and again for people in Richmond who are looking for exemptions on real estate.

You will and should always have a copy of your DD214. You can request it here….

http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/

Craig Swinson
Craig Swinson
Reply to  ed shepardson
6 years ago

I have no doubt it will shake out like you describe…how true or accurate all the details will be and if this was a bit of a which hunt, remains to be seen.

It’s going to come down to grant money and not following “orders” from the B man.

I am also curious as to why Melissa M has dropped her like a hot potato? Did she know in advance the Mayor’s plans? Did MM see a pattern of behavior and abandon ship? Was there a quid pro quo with The B Man and MM, a heads up to distance oneself from RF for a heads up on the 100Gate?
Is this some sort of payback for RF’s lack of support of Soldier On?

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
Reply to  Craig Swinson
6 years ago

Jack Downing runs Soldier on in Pittsfield and Northampton, Massachusetts. Jack Downing is NOT a Veteran! Jack Downing uses funds from his non-profit to pay GE Lobbyist Peter J. Larkin tens of thousands of dollars per year in lobbyist fees. Jack Downing contributes to political campaigns of many Massachusetts Democratic politicians. Jack Downing takes home a 6-figure salary in the name of homeless Veterans!

ed shepardson
ed shepardson
Reply to  CraigS
6 years ago

Craig, nice to hear from you again. Sorry you feel the need not to use your full name. Here’s a “what if” for you. What if, Ms. Frieri, in addition to freelancing as a veterans agent in other towns (Richmond included) while using Pittsfield’s city hall contact info, obtained funding for the veterans’ equine therapy program to benefit a friend, or even herself? This is Pittsfield, anything can happen. A city councilor runs an illegal gambling operation, nobody cares. Having written that, I would find no satisfaction in witnessing her dismissal for reasons other than the right reasons.

levitan
levitan
Reply to  CraigS
6 years ago

I understand that Equine therapy is an accepted treatment. But, is it in Frieri’s job description to personally involve herself in establishing it in Pittsfield? What happened to telephones and office staff?

ed shepardson
ed shepardson
Reply to  levitan
6 years ago

She loves horses. Like the old saying about golf, “a bad day on the golf course is better than a good day at work.” And I’m guessing, she has a personal connection to those being paid for this program. I’m hoping not a financial interest but, hey, this is Pittsfield. Who knows?

levitan
levitan
Reply to  ed shepardson
6 years ago

I like horses too, but if I were establishing such a program, as director I’d delegate the work. Unless I was looking for an excuse to recuse myself from the office and had finished up my duties there.

According to Frieri, she had not completed her tasks as numerous veterans are still waiting for her assistance. Priorities?

amandaWell
amandaWell
6 years ago

We get what we pay for? is that what I’m hearing? Then they don’t deserve a raise. Let them walk.

dusty
dusty
Reply to  amandaWell
6 years ago

Most of these people are in the jobs they are in because they were connected to the right people. They are not getting raises because they are doing a great job they are getting raises because they are connected.

And I doubt if any of them are thinking of leaving because of the pay. They might move out of Pittsfield but they are not going to give up the cushy job and bennies.

T-bone
T-bone
Reply to  dusty
6 years ago

Most of these people have city jobs because of who they know as dusty says or because they don’t cut it in the private sector or because they are looking to feed off the gravy train. Bianchi is a fool.

Nota
Nota
6 years ago

Councilors have to mingle with these managers to get things done. Seems Morandi is the only one who has common sense and not let fear dictate an unecessary pay raise, a feel good move for TES amongst his peers…..leery, very leery.

PopKornSutton
PopKornSutton
6 years ago

At some point these pols have to get along some what,with one another, after all, election comes every couple of years.

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
6 years ago

NEWS ARTICLE about GE

“GE to move life sciences headquarters to Massachusetts”
By Priyanka Dayal McCluskey, Boston Globe Staff, August 13, 2014

GE Healthcare will establish a new US headquarters for its Life Sciences division in Massachusetts, in a move that could bring hundreds of jobs.

The company has not said where in Massachusetts the facility will be located.

The unit is currently based in Piscataway, N.J., where it employs about 400 people. It is unclear how many of those jobs will come to Massachusetts.

“Once completed, the new US Life Sciences headquarters will create a significant number of new jobs and economic activity in Massachusetts,” GE spokesman Benjamin Fox said Wednesday.

The company issued a notice to government officials that says 218 positions in Piscataway will be affected by the move, beginning Jan. 1.

GE Healthcare Life Sciences is a $3.7 billion division that provides technologies and services for the discovery and development of drugs.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2014/08/13/move-life-sciences-headquarters-massachusetts/iqjVx66sq1p7BPjJzqSuGN/story.html

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
Reply to  Jonathan Melle
6 years ago

I wonder if GE Healthcare’s plan to move its Life Sciences division U.S. headquarters to an unknown community in Massachusetts is related to PEDA’s plan to build the Berkshire Innovation Center that will open in the Summer of 2016.

News Article:

On Tuesday, August 12, 2014, the Pittsfield City Council accepted a nearly $10 million dollar grant from Massachusetts to build an innovation center in the city.

The chairman of the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority, Mic Callahan made his case before the city council voted unanimously to accept the grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center to build the Berkshire Innovation Center. Callahan, business leaders and those working on the project also urged the council to allocate $250,000 to support a non-profit that will manage the center once it opens at the William Stanley Business Park, expected in summer 2016. The council referred the spending matter to the city’s community and economic development subcommittee, which next meets on August 26, 2014.

“It’s hard to align the stars when you are talking about jobs, economic development and a healthy community,” Callahan said. “This is one time the stars are aligned. The city is working together with the PEDA board and the PEDA board is working with the city. The Life Sciences’ board supported a gift to this community in the amount of $9.7 million.”

Source: “Pittsfield City Council Accepts Innovation Center Grant, Approves Pay Raises During Busy Meeting” (By Jim Levulis, WAMC Northeast Public Radio, August 13, 2014).
http://wamc.org/post/pittsfield-city-council-accepts-innovation-center-grant-approves-pay-raises-during-busy-meeting

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
Reply to  Jonathan Melle
6 years ago

News Article:

“Pittsfield officials weigh request for $250K to launch Innovation Center”
By Jim Therrien, Berkshire Eagle Staff, 8/13/2014

PITTSFIELD — The City Council is considering a request from Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi for $250,000 from the Pittsfield Economic Development Fund to help prepare for the launch of the Berkshire Innovation Center.

After a presentation Tuesday from officials involved with the project, councilors referred the funding request to their Community and Economic Development Committee, which will meet next on August 26, 2014.

The fund was created as part of a settlement leading to an environmental cleanup of former General Electric Co. property in the city. The land now includes the William Stanley Business Park off East Street, where the new center will be located.

Construction of the 20,000-square-foot facility with the help of a $9.7 million capital grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center is expected to begin in 2015, with a center opening planned by July 2016.

The state grant is expected to cover building and equipment costs but not expenses to get the center’s operational structure and programming up and running. Bianchi is seeking another $250,000 toward the start-up costs — expected to come from the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority, the quasi-public agency that is developing the business park.

The mayor, Stephen Boyd of Boyd Technologies, chairman of the center’s board of directors, project consultant Rod Jane of New England Expansion Strategies, and others spoke during the presentation to councilors.

Boyd stressed the opportunities he sees for access to research and development information and equipment and for collaboration and conferencing that the center will offer, which should spur manufacturing development and increase good-paying employment in the Pittsfield area.

The Innovation Center is planned as an accelerator facility that will allow local companies providing products for the life sciences industry access to advanced equipment, enabling them to improve their rate of innovation and product development.

Job training in new technologies and educational opportunities also are planned at the nonprofit center, which is expected to collaborate with institutions of higher learning, research facilities and other organizations.

Start-up tasks and expenses include the formation of a membership list, fulfilling legal requirements of forming the nonprofit organization, establishing training programs and setting up collaborations.

The city has received letters of intent from 19 firms interested in participating in the center. A number of institutions of higher education, including Berkshire Community College, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, the University of Massachusetts, are expected to participate, along with vocational high schools in the area.

http://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/ci_26329874/pittsfield-officials-weigh-request-250k-launch-innovation-center

Luke
Luke
6 years ago

Berkshireworks director was placed on PAID leave for several months for misconduct, while this person is suspended without pay.. what could be worse than misconduct?

Is there no limit to the abuse of power of this mayor?

B
B
Reply to  Luke
6 years ago

Please all you people filing lawsuits please don’t file against the city of Pittsfield, we taxpayers cannot afford it. Please go after the individuals who caused the problems. Teach them a lesson, let them hurt were it counts, the pocketbook.

ouch
ouch
Reply to  B
6 years ago

It will still be in the tax payer back because the city’s insurance company will defend them as city employees, it’s the other employees that have to pay for their own lawyer.

levitan
levitan
Reply to  B
6 years ago

No fears, there will be no lawsuit, no settlements, no judgements.

Badgering is not accepted by the court as harrassment.

Nota
Nota
6 years ago

What is the mandatory retirement age for Rosanne job…anybody?

Ron Kitterman
Ron Kitterman
6 years ago

Was thinking along the same lines as Luke, notice also how quick of a date they got for Rosanne compared to Mr. Montersso

PabloCruz
PabloCruz
6 years ago

Berkshireworks director was also kept on payroll for a few months, even after his resignation!

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
6 years ago

NEWS ARTICLE:

“Pittsfield City Council calls on mayor to address office move queries”
By Jim Therrien, Berkshire Eagle Staff, 8/13/2014

PITTSFIELD — City councilors want Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi to appear before them Sept. 2 to answer questions on his plan to move city inspection services to rented office space at 100 North Street.

Councilor at large Barry Clairmont filed a council petition with the request, listing a number of questions he has about the proposal. Clairmont also has requested a subsequent nonbinding vote of the council to support or oppose the plan, which Bianchi has said does not require council approval.

At the council meeting Tuesday, Clairmont asked that members vote on his request, which they approved.

Bianchi’s proposal calls for leasing 9,000 square feet of second floor space at the historic First Agricultural Bank building at First and Fenn streets, which is owned by Scarafoni Realty. The cost would be $126,000, or $14 per square foot, in the first year of a three-year agreement; $13 per square foot the second year, and $12 per square foot the third year.

Bianchi contends the move would consolidate scattered inspection services offices, now mostly in the basement level of City Hall, into modern office space at one location. He said that will encourage developers, contractors and others to “do business with the city of Pittsfield,” which could produce more tax or other revenue to offset the rental costs.

He said developers have complained about the atmosphere of the current offices and that they are not all in one location. The basement area of City Hall often is damp in wet weather, he said, and moving employees out and using the basement for storage or other purposes would provide a healthier environment for the workers.

Clairmont said on Wednesday that Bianchi did a poor job of informing councilors of his intentions, which he said were in the planning stages by April. “It would have been nice to have some communication beforehand,” he said. “It was poor communication at the least.”

Bianchi could not be reached Wednesday for comment on the council’s request.

In his list of submitted questions for the mayor, Clairmont asked which city personnel would be moving into the new offices, what were the reasons for moving; what data was used in making the decision to move; how will the vacated basement space be used, when would the move take place, and how many permits were issued last year that involved more than one permitting office.

Clairmont also seeks information on a request for proposals for office space that the city posted and to which Scarafoni was the lone downtown property owner to respond. And Clairmont asked for specific information about the lease agreement.

Ward 5 Councilor Jonathan Lothrop added a question to the list, asking for an opinion from the city solicitor on whether the mayor would require council approval to sign a lease for the office space.

Clairmont said he was making the request under Section 2-7 of the new Pittsfield government charter, approved in November, which states in part: “The City Council may make investigations into the affairs of the city and into the conduct and performance of any city agency.”

The section also states that the council may request specific information from the mayor on municipal matters and may request that the mayor “be present to answer written questions relating to that information at a meeting.”

http://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/ci_26331148/pittsfield-city-council-calls-mayor-address-office-move

Nota
Nota
6 years ago

Famous Mayoral quotes: Ruberto..I’ll get the Rolodex out.
Hathaway: It’s an Aberration.
Doyle : The Consent Decree is Fair.
TES: Tom

Giacometti
Giacometti
6 years ago

The basement of City Hall has been suspected in the past to have mold and radon issues after many former City employees who occupied basement offices have died from lung cancer while they were not cigarette smokers. There is a nationwide problem with former post offices, which City Hall formally was, having mold and radon infestation. Perhaps the move out of the basement at City Hall is a good thing for the overall health of City employees.

Scott
Scott
Reply to  Giacometti
6 years ago

Then the mayor should have proposed that to the council and ran a fair ad and seeked out the best price for tax payers not use the building he works another job in for people he’s buddies with. We own how many empty buildings?

Craig Swinson
Craig Swinson
Reply to  Giacometti
6 years ago

If that is true, then the $100k would be much better spent doing mold remediation, putting in dehumidifier sand putting in a radon scavenge system. In fact it is probably required under law as a public building

Scott
Scott
Reply to  Craig Swinson
6 years ago

They’ve done raydon remediation and installed a system already. Last time I pulled a permit they were doing it. I can tell you it’s not the office space that’s the issue with the permitting process it’s the people who work there. Just my opinion. Watch permit pricing and inspections go up too! Fancy new offices same crappy personnel more money for permits.

levitan
levitan
Reply to  Giacometti
6 years ago

Radon is an issue wherever a room is below ground level. They fix it with a cheap exhaust system.

Everyone blames their cancer on that thing that they did. I never seen a shoe that didn’t fit.