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COUNCIL PRESIDENT MAZZEO RESPONDS TO TEMPEST OVER 100GATE … ISSUE APPROACHES A HEAD TONIGHT AT COUNCIL MEETING

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By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, SEPT. 23, 2014) — Yesterday, we posted on agenda item 11, scheduled for tonight’s meeting of the Pittsfield City Council. In it, Mayor Dan Bianchi will make a presentation on the move of offices from city hall to 100 North St., a move we’re sure you’ve heard about. THE PLANET has tagged it “100gate” for the many unanswered questions involved, the concerns not addressed, the secrets not exposed, and the case not made.

COUNCILOR-AT-LARGE BARRY CLAIRMONT (Photo iBerkshires)

We refer PLANET readers to yesterday’s post for a refresher on the latest developments. They revolve around agenda item 11. Councilor at-large Barry Clairmont is on vacation in Colorado and says he was led to believe the mayor would not be discussing 100gate, much less sign a lease, until he was back in Pittsfield. As you recall, Clairmont submitted a list of questions he wanted to mayor to answer prior to any lease signing.

THE PLANET reported exclusively yesterday that the mayor intends to sign a lease for the move on Wednesday. He will do this without approval of the council and therefore with citizens shut out of the process.

A Delay and Then a Move with Clairmont Out of Town

The mayor was originally supposed to answer the the councilor’s questions on Sept. 2. Bianchi then asked for a delay, which council president Melissa Mazzeo granted, with Clairmont’s agreement. The item was scheduled to be taken up at the first meeting in October. The flurry of activity in Clairmont’s absence, however, has lead to a suspicion in some quarters leads that he was set up. President Mazzeo disputes this.

THE PLANET asked a number of questions of Mazzeo, and yesterday we received her reply. We include it here, verbatim (with only minor “mechanical” edits). She clearly understands her duty to the public via the press. Here are her remarks:

Council President Mazzeo Responds

COUNCIL PRESIDENT MELISSA MAZZEO (Photo mazzeo-at-large.com)

Barry and I spoke yesterday (Sunday ) afternoon. I was frustrated that he wrote many things that were not correct on his FB [Facebook] page and had many people commenting. Barry unfriended me a year ago, so I am not able to see or respond to anything he posts. I did receive a few phone calls from people who read it and wanted to hear my version. Here is the timeline:

The mayor requests to postpone his response to Clairmonts petition until the 9/23 meeting. I informed Barry and he had no problem with this. I did tell Barry and other councilors that the mayor would not sign the lease until after he came to council to respond to the petition.
 
Barry called me later that day and asked to move the petition off until the [first] October meeting saying he was gathering information and was having trouble getting it from the mayor and solicitor. I said that I didn’t see a problem with that.
 
The Mayor [then] called to inform me that he was set to sign the lease on the 24th [September, which would be tomorrow] and that he couldn’t wait until October. I asked him about Barry not getting information, and he stated that Barry could come to his office and he would show him everything he wanted. He said he had nothing to hide and that they were in fact trying to give hime all the stuff he had requested.
 
I called Barry and told him the mayor was not going to hold off until October. I told Barry that I would go with him to the mayor’s office and help him to get all the info that he was looking for. It was then that Barry informed me that he was going on vacation and would not be at the Sept. 23 meeting. This was a surprise to me, since he told me he wanted to postpone to get more info, NOT that he was going on vacation. I told Barry that the mayor was signing on the 24th. Barry said “Tell him  to go ahead, but I still want him to answer my petition on the Oct 14th meeting.” The mayor agreed.
 
Having said all that, I told the mayor that if he is signing [the lease] on the 24th, that the other councilors, myself included, should know the circumstances for the move. The mayor agreed to give an overview of the move at the meeting on Tuesday night. He put in a communication and I put it on the agenda.
 
He is still going to answer the questions put forth in Barry petition on the 14th. That is NOT what is on the AGENDA for Tuesday the 23rd.
 
Now on to Barry’s Facebook [posting]. What he wrote and what was really going on are 2 different things. The council needs to hear about the move — before the signing — and Barry knew he was going to do this on the 24th and said “Go ahead, but keep my petition off,” which I did. I did speak to Barry Sunday afternoon and expressed to him that he should have called or emailed me first and asked about the agenda, which came out on Friday afternoon. I told him that since he UNFRIENDED me it was difficult to respond to something I could not see, and I felt  that a phone call could have kept this from getting misinformation out there. He said he would re-post something to that effect, but I do not think he ever did. He said he would only take 50% of the blame, and that I should have called him after setting the agenda and told him what was on it. I don’t agree. I said when he read the agenda he could have called me to ask instead of posting on social media. But he insisted that he was only half wrong, so I guess I have the other half. 
 
This whole issue is frustrating to me because, as you know, I have never not responded to something when asked. I spoke with Barry at least 3 times during all of this, and he knew what was going to happen on the 24th. Did he think that no other councilor would have a question of their own to ask the Mayor before he signed? I am all for getting information out, but it needs to be correct first. 
Melissa

——– 000 ——–

THE PLANET thanks our right honorable good friend, the council president, for this thorough and straight forward reply. We wonder, though, why no one else on the council has spoken out on 100gate. Are they in favor of the move? If not, why haven’t they been more vocal in demanding that the mayor hold off on signing a lease until the issue can at least be vetted in public?

Tonight’s meeting begins at 7 p.m. Your attendance is important. If you wish to speak, put your name on the sign-up sheet at the podium prior to the start of the meeting.

——————————————————————————————

“From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State / And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze. / Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life, / I woke to black flack and the nightmare fighters. / When I died, they washed me out of the turret with a hose.”Randall Jarrell, “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner,” (1945).

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

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Nota
Nota
6 years ago

Rocky Mountain High…a new TES LOw.

Mike Ward
Mike Ward
6 years ago

Sorry if this already came up in past posts but is there any requirement that the mayor obtain council approval to enter into a lease agreement? We saw it with the Adult Learning Center move – why not in this case?

Sparkie
Sparkie
Reply to  Mike Ward
6 years ago

The response from Mazzeo clearly shows her total lack of professionalism and leadership on the council. It sounds like a little school girl who has been scorned by one of the boys in the school yard. Barry unfriended me BOO-HOO…. So me and Danny are going to fix his wagon…..

What needs to be said
What needs to be said
Reply to  Sparkie
6 years ago

Facebook posts have no place in running local govt.

Open meeting laws are not there who unfriended who.
Melissa’s handling of this was quite professional.

Imagine if she went on vacation instead of being at the council meeting which the people elected her to do.

The mayor will at least be there tonight. Barry will not.
A councilor should plan his vacation around the scheduled meetings.

Carolyn Barry
Carolyn Barry
Reply to  Sparkie
6 years ago

Sparkie- I read the comments on Barry’s facebook page. A few people were commenting on why Mazzeo wasn’t chiming in but if she was unfriended by a fellow councilor she can’t see his posts. Why would a councilor unfriend another councilor? Is this in the best interest of the city they both love? I think Barry does ask some good questions especially on finance but I have a hard time with slamming a fellow councilor on facebook without saying why she can’t respond. Maybe in the future they can both go on a radio show, tv show or do an interview with the locally owned newsweekly. Being only two of them this would not be in violation of any open meeting laws.

Sparkie
Sparkie
Reply to  Carolyn Barry
6 years ago

Carolyn; reading Barry’s Facebook page is not the point. The meeting tonight is that of the City Council, not the meeting of the Mayor. Mazzeo’s unprofessionalism comes from the fact that as the President of the Council she sets the agenda and if she had a normal functioning brain would never allow the Mayor to come forward with a presentation to the council until Barry’s questions could be asked at the same meeting. Barry agreed in good faith at Mazzeo’s request to move his petition to the October meeting and then made an about face to allow discussion on the matter in this evening meeting.
Do you really thing Mazzeo did not know Barry was out of town on vacation? Ya I get it, just another one of those Pittsfield coincidences.

B
B
Reply to  Carolyn Barry
6 years ago

I am just speculating why Councilman Clairmont unfriended Melissa Mazzeo from his Facebook page. If I remember correctly I do believe that was about the time that Melissa’s husband had physically threatened Councilman Clairmont. If that happened to me I would’ve done more than just defriend her, I would be going to the police to report her husband and get a restraining order on him.

Carolyn Barry
Carolyn Barry
Reply to  B
6 years ago

I still think it is unprofessional for any elected official to be slamming another one on facebook. Barry did this also before the last election slamming the mayor (maybe that’s why he won by 16 votes-plus Donna campaigned her ass off). Personally I feel the mayor has made some missteps. So Sparkie if you and B want to sit down and discuss it civilized lets do. Looking forward to it. And as I’ve said before Barry can ask some good questions.

What needs to be said
What needs to be said
6 years ago

Chock one up for Melissa for doing her job.

Subtract one for Clairmont for not being there.

The bottom line is, the mayor gets what he wants and the taxpayers get to pay for it. It will all be reflected in the new tax rates which Barry will vote to increase the burden on taxpayers.

It is the civic responsibility of the taxpayers to pay their taxes or lose their homes.

Best option is and has always been to sell your house and move out of Pittsfield.

Now onto the new high school and new police station.

Bill
Bill
6 years ago

They have the talking part down, that’s for sure…One of them, more likely all, are full of sh*t.

Shakes His Head
Shakes His Head
Reply to  Bill
6 years ago

If they are using social media to communicate about official business or in their capacities as elected officials, then those communications are subject to freedom of information requests.

Tito
Tito
6 years ago

Some form of allegiance is necessary to remain in power. I emphasize the word power, in order to remain in, power. Of course, power goes to one’s head and subsequently these power mongers forget who initially voted these scoundrels in.

Bill Sturgeon
Bill Sturgeon
6 years ago

It’s just my opinion that this entire episode is unnecessary. It is the “Process” of permit getting and not the venue. For what the City is going to pay for this move, etc. etc. etc. they could purchase a computer program to solve its permittng issue.
There are so many more important issues that the Mayor and Council should be working on, in my opinion!

MrG1188
MrG1188
6 years ago

Dan, I have been looking for the text of that poem for years now. Apparently I had been mixing up the title with Yeats’ “An Irish Airman Forsees His Death.” I thought either I was nuts or that it had just faded from existence. Thank you for restoring it for me, and confirming my sanity….at least in this regard.

Spider
Spider
6 years ago

Is this simply a presentation by the mayor? And does it require a vote by the council…if so, a vote for what? Just accepting the presentation and nothing else?

Or will they be voting to approve the move?

Nota
Nota
6 years ago

To many egos involved here. To many allegiances formed. Way to political. What we need is an independent thinker. A City Manager won’t work, they would be beholden to selectmen/ council. We need a Abe Lincoln type, any thoughts?

GeoSims
GeoSims
Reply to  Nota
6 years ago

This city is filled with hate that goes back to the schoolyard. It will never move forward with the two immature factions bickering. Newcomers leave in disgust.

Russell Moody
Russell Moody
6 years ago

Personal Social Media and Official Government Activity and Discussion should not be allowed… While social media is an excellent tool, I would suggest those who wish to use the facebook venue create an ‘official page’ designed for communicating with constituents.. a page with access by everyone who chooses to engage in this manner.

B
B
Reply to  Russell Moody
6 years ago

I think another reason as to why Councilman Clairmont defriended Melissa Mazzeo could be that it breaks the open meeting laws. Just my thought I don’t know for sure.

Crystal Clear
Crystal Clear
Reply to  B
6 years ago

All the councilors should be worried about communicating with each other due to the fact that Melissa Mazzeo turned in five of her colleagues to the Attorney General for braking the open meeting law. Side note; it takes six councilors to be in violation of the open meeting law. Councilor Clairmont was one of the five councilors Mazzeo turned in. Melissa Mazzeo tried to railroad her colleagues secretly and was shocked to discover her complaint needed to go public. I don’t blame Councilor Clairmont for defriending Mazzeo; you need to ack like a friend to be treated like a friend.

Sparkie
Sparkie
Reply to  Crystal Clear
6 years ago

Crystal what you left out of your description is while the Maz was turning on her colleagues; her and Danny do Little were being fined by the State Ethics Committee for Campaign Finance Violations. And she told the Planet her and TES are not that close….

Batman
Batman
6 years ago

Is the mayor wrong in making this move? Absolutely!

Ok, the mayor extended the invitation for Barry to come to the corner office where he would explain everything. Melissa offered to go with him. Barry should have accepted this invitation and added one more thing. Bring Dan Valenti along as an observer and mutual friend of Dan Bianchi.

That would have changed the dynamics of the situation dramatically. However in the interest of transparency and getting this all out in the open, it would have been a good move.

When Barry decides to show up at a council meeting and have his questions answered, it will be a day late and a dollar short. The flease agreement will already have been signed and the move underway.

Fact is: The city does not revolve around Barry Clairmont.
Take a good look at his voting record.
He has voted yes on every single budget the mayor has presented to him.
He voted for the new school busses the taxpayers are on the hook to pay for, along with the remaining debt on the older ones.
He got before a live microphone and publically stated that the city should give raises to city department heads so they won’t steal from the city. Then he voted yes for raises of up to 40%. In effect taking money out of taxpayers pockets and putting it into theirs.
When they vote on raising the new tax rates guess which way he will vote?

I know that the beaten down people are looking for a superhero to step in and save the day. They hang on the least little glimmer of hope that Barry seeming offers once in awhile but step back and look at the forest.

Pittsfield’s taxes are going to be higher than ever in history. OK, so the mayor is not going to run again. With the new high school and if he can squeeze in a new police station — his retirment fund is looking pretty darn good. 4 years in office + Global Montello cash cow………. what does he worry if Pittsfield goes bankrupt under another mayor’s watch.

It seems Barry is trying to squeek out a few more votes to retain his seat on the council but in the end the scorpian stings the frog.

(Parable of the frog and the scorpian: The scorpian asks the frog for a ride on the lillypad across the pond. Frog say no, you’ll sting me. Scorpian promises he won’t do it. They get to the other side and the scorpian stings the frog. Frog says why? Scorpian says I’m a scorpian, its what we do.)

Luke
Luke
6 years ago

Is this some kind of TV Sitcom… municipal business done on social media, unfriending as the basis for non-communication?! This is NUTS!!! and every taxpayer in Pittsfield is paying for a ticket to the show.

The core issues are two:
1. Can the mayor create financial commitments for the city without council approval?

2. Can the mayor engage in a pattern of behavior which has highly questionable conflicts of interest unchecked?

The people of Pittsfield are being robbed by the very person charged with representing the public good, and the oversight body charged with balancing that role has abdicated its responsibility.

Will no one help the citizens of Pittsfield?

Chuck Vincelette
Chuck Vincelette
6 years ago

Dan why don’t you invite Melissa and Barry to be guests on your tv show and discuss various city issues?

Bill
Bill
Reply to  Chuck Vincelette
6 years ago

The only discussion will be more Lip Service.

amandaWell
amandaWell
6 years ago

Wait until we get the bill for the new high school, you think this is bad. Code word is already out concerning the cost, you know that phrase, we’ll get what we pay for. Or the proverbial Favorite,pay me now or pay me later. The price on that bad. Oh is going up as we speak, you know, like a Little Dig. We have all kinds of revenue…don’t ya know.

amandaWell
amandaWell
6 years ago

Option given to Grandma as taxes were to much to bare…

1….sell house, move to fla
2….reverse mortgage
3….Providence Court, here we come
4…..cash in grand kids inheritance…HEY!
5….J G Wentworth…like NOW
6…. Eliminate prescriptions
7…..Hang tough and vote em all out next election…..

DowagerHat
DowagerHat
Reply to  amandaWell
6 years ago

Well brilliance.

Nota
Nota
6 years ago

Funny stuff Mandy. I think too much to bear, not to bare? cute though, and agree……..NONE OF THE ABOVE?

Dave
Dave
6 years ago

Here comes the parade of our dedicated employees! Baaaaaaaa. I wonder where Barlin went on vacation.

Henry Adams
Henry Adams
6 years ago

Hey. Where were all of the big mouths who we’re going to speak at the council meeting. All talk no action. Ha Ha

UAlbany
UAlbany
Reply to  Henry Adams
6 years ago

Henry right on…because Clairmont’s followers are just like him. Shallow, attention seeking, do nothing paper tigers.

Joe Blow
Joe Blow
6 years ago

Negative cognitive map!!!

Nota
Nota
6 years ago

Methinks TES just told WKROL to go***** himself.

Nota
Nota
6 years ago

TES said he wasn’t an Engineer? Well, I’d say you’re quite the engineer. You were able to bullshit and baffle em for over a month, you got Barry to leave town to avoid questioning, and you were able to secure a fat little lease for 100 North Street property owners, nice engineering TES.

Nota
Nota
6 years ago

Other than the fact that TES crapped all over Krol And Lothrop, well maybe just Krol, this processed was flawed from the get go. We all knew TES was going to play the safety card, with that being said, TES ought to forgo the managers pay increase to pay for the new digs. Tully is talking, this oughta be good..SHUTUUUUUUUUP! in all sincerity, this is a kumbaya for next election, everyone is collegiate and in sync. Next! DA SCHOOL

PopKornSutton
PopKornSutton
6 years ago

Grizzly Adams is in town?

Ron Kitterman
Ron Kitterman
6 years ago

Chuck proposed a great idea Barry and Melissa seeing the Mayor doen’t have a pair in his trousers.

amandaWell
amandaWell
6 years ago

I’m at this dumb meeting and I’m staying till the end,enjoy.

Ed
Ed
Reply to  amandaWell
6 years ago

The first open mike speaker was a Pittsfield building inspector office employee who decried the musk and mold in her Pittsfield city hall office, She proudly stated that she lived in Hinsdale. Additionally she stated that no tax increase is worth an employee’s health caused by a substandard workplace. She failed to point out that any such tax increase would impact Pittsfield taxpayers, not Hinsdale residents like herself. Good ole Pittsfield, the motherload for non resident city employees.

Dave
Dave
Reply to  Ed
6 years ago

Too bad it wasn’t like school choice. We could charge all these other communities for employing their taxpayers.

amandaWell
amandaWell
6 years ago

That’s funny Ed. Our workers live out of town and the children go out town for education. You can’t make it up! lee Marvin is speaking,I’m listening intently.

Knows the Truth
Knows the Truth
6 years ago

Hogwash. Where are the formal complaints in writing to the Board of Health of the unsanitary conditions? Answer: there are none….

amandaWell
amandaWell
6 years ago

A W has left the. Uilding. Good Night!

UAlbany
UAlbany
6 years ago

No one showed up to defend Clairmont. Even his cronies. Hilarious.