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!!UPDATE!! SNOWGATE: THE SITUATION IS GETTING ‘CURIOUSER and CURIOUSER’

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By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

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THE PLANET will let this column suffice for THE WEEKEND EDITION. The information about Snowgate will be allowed to simmer in advance of the city council meeting, where and when, if our Right Honorable Good Friends do their job, citizens and taxpayers will get the answers they deserve for having been put through such a disaster.

Snowgate is troubling is several respects.

* First, it has no doubt wasted the city’s time, talent, and treasure.

* Second, it strongly suggests a complete lack of accountability beginning with the corner office and including the management of Public Services.

* Third, it demands that an investigation into the situation be thorough, with consequences. We call that troubling because, based solely on recent history, little will be done and there will be no consequences.

* Fourth, it has compromised the morale and misused and abused the great talent the city has in the three divisions of Public Services. These are employees who know the job but who are being prevented from doing the job.

* Fifth, THE PLANET brings your attention to a comment below claiming there were fifteen hundred tons of treated sand — the kind that works when the temperatures fall below 12oF, Mr. Mayor — in the city pile prior to winter. Is this true? We shall attempt to confirm. If it is true, it would suggest (though not in and of itself prove) some funny business going on.

* And finally, sixth, it points out that the mayor’s “reorganization” of Public Services was an utter failure. You will recall that Bianchi pushed through this move in a well-orchestrated plan to avoid council review, thereby taking Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski out of the picture entirely. No one on the council has filed a petition asking for the measure to be rescinded. By the most objective measures we can muster, Bianchi made the move solely to undo the reforms of Jimmy Ruberto, when he brought in Der Wunderbarrett himself, John Barrett, to get Public Services into shape. The Ruberto-Barrett reform worked. They were blown up by the current administration solely for political purposes.

Public Services Director Bruce Collingwood and Highway Division boss Kevin Swail (rhymes with “fail”) have some “‘splainin'” to do, as our good friend Ricky Ricardo would put it. If he is any kind of a mayor and man, Dan Bianchi will not let his charges answer alone. In fact, he will be out in the lead. We shall see.

Moreover, it is incumbent that the council Takes Care of Business. They must not let anyone off the hook. They must cut off at the pass any attempt to stonewall, dodge, or avoid. If the council does not do its job here, they will have, again, let down We The People in a most unacceptable manner. Conversely, if our Right Honorable Good Friends get the job done, they will help restore some semblance of hope as we look ahead, because …

… remember, folks, this is an Election Year.

We now resume our regular coverage. Have a great weekend, everybody!

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(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY AND BEYOND, FEB. 19-22, 2015) — THE PLANET has more on Snowgate, the deplorable job in the past month done by The Bianchi Administration in mishandling perhaps the municipality’s biggest public safety task when winter arrives in The Berkshires.

Courtesy of councilors Krol, Amuso, and Clairmont, The Bumstead Administration shall have to send  public services commissioner Bruce Collingwood and Highway Department director Kevin Swail to answer for the botch job. If Mayor Bumstead had backbone, and if he cared about the poor citizens and taxpayers of the city, he would voluntarily lead his two minions into the fray. Ah, but if Bumstead possessed those qualities in the first place, the city streets would be in fine shape and there would be no need for a hearing.

‘Here Lies Bruce Collingwood. Again.’

Collingwood said when he drove down to Great Barrington, the roads in South County were worse than Pittsfield. Either BC needs to get his eyesight checked or he needs to stop telling tall ones. We can see his epitaph when the next mayor sends him packing: “Here lies Bruce Collingwood. Again.” Perhaps BC can apply his expertise in colon cleansing into the job of snow removal. For those of you who don’t know, that’s his side business. Colon cleansing. Obviously, not snow removal.

Some things you just can’t make up, and as Paddy Cheyefsky once observed, reality has far outstripped fiction, making satire unnecessary. Oh, and by the way, Collingwood failed to return THE PLANET‘s request for comment on Snowgate. When the phone didn’t ring and the e-mail bell didn’t chime, we knew if was Capt. Colon not getting back to us.

Meanwhile, as Swail (rhymes with “fail”) crams for his council examination, THE PLANET has been plying sources within the Public Services Department. One revealing thing we learned is that when the mayor said that salt was useless in the cold, he was either misinformed or he, too, was Fibber McGeeing. Department sources say the city has many options when it comes to treating snow and ice. Straight salt is good until about 12 degrees F. There is also salt treated with magnesium, which is good to -35 degrees F. There is also the mix the state prefers, which is salt laced with calcium.

So much for Mayor Misfit’s declaration that salt is ineffective when the weather turns exceptionally cold. Now if the mayor had said, “I am ineffective when the weather turns cold,” we could buy it.

Department sources say the city sand pile has never been allowed to get so low or become so depleted. They says the sand pile “was never filled this season.” Never. Great management, eh?

‘Things in Highway Department are Horrendous’

Look at the streets leading into Pittsfield. The roads are clear.  Drive Lenox and Stockbridge. The roads are down to the dry asphalt. Is it because the snow in Pittsfield is different? Is South County snow more educated? Or could it be that the mismanagement of Public Services has been the cause of Pittsfield’s roads being in such bad shape? It’s a shame, because Public Services has some of the best, most efficient, and highly trained city workers. These assets, however, have been held in check because of the bungling.

“The things that are happening in the Highway Department are horrendous,” says one informed source. “The guys in that department know how to do their jobs. It’s just that they aren’t being allowed to do their jobs.”

The big question, and one of which our Right Honorable Good Friends on the city council must get to the bottom, is why? Why are city employees being so mismanaged? Is it simple ineptitude? Or is it something more nefarious?

We have seen scandals afflict, affect, and infect city departments in the past. Is something of the sort happening in Public Services? We don’t know, but when the department head refuses to return legitimate inquiries from the investigative press, it doesn’t exactly fill one with over-brimming confidence.

Elsewhere, There Is Accountability

Some other cities, which we mention only in a “Best Practices” sense, take action and demand accountability. For instance, a few days ago, the city of Cleveland, Ohio, demoted its commissioner of streets because of the poor job he did with snow removal. Cleveland Public Works Director Michael Cox said, “There’s [an] accountability factor here. And we had a lot of issues that were not resolved during [the most recent] snow storm.”

Cox also said more city plows were not available because they were in the shop for repairs. So what did he do? He read the riot act to the Motor Vehicle maintenance Department, telling the boss there that “he had to step up his game” or else.

Consequences help ensure better performance.

What accountability is there in Pittsfield? This kind: Screw up, and you get promoted with big, phat pay hikes. That’s just what happened to Collingwood and Swail.

And in Yonkers, N.Y., when the city did a poor job clearing snow and ice from county bus stops, one county legislator called on the mayor to step up his efforts, calling the mayor’s response to the snow “completely abysmal and unacceptable.” The legislator said “that this public safety issue [must] be immediately corrected.” It was.

Did one of Our Profiles in Courage from Beacon Hill — that would be Mssrs. Downing, Mark, and Pignatelli plus Misses Farley-Bouvier and Cariddi — say a peep about the snow job pulled by the mayor of Pittsfield? Farley-Bouvier, as Pittsfield’s rep, would be especially obliged.

Nah. That’s not how it works around here. In Pittsfield, The Suits circle the wagons and put the screws to The Little Guy.

Maybe we need to take out that word, “almost.”

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 “Swellfoot is wived! Though parted by the sea, / The very name of wife had conjugal rights; / Her cursed image ate, drank, and slept with me.”Percy Bysshe Shelley, Oedipus Tyrannus, Scene I, lines 287-289, (1820).

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

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spagirl
spagirl
9 years ago

Abigail Beck from Channel 13 News contacted Mayor Bianchi’s Office for comment on the epic fail in Pittsfield, and TES didn’t return her phone call. Imagine that ….he gets A+ for consistency in lack of response…and can add Coward to his resume. Barry Clairmont stood before the camera and continues to advocate a voice for the people. The Spin Master Mayor is too busy and too arrogant to admit failure. Yet he sits at the top of the heap. This is inexcusable.

spagirl
spagirl
9 years ago

Abigail Bleck is Channel 13 correspondent

dusty
dusty
9 years ago

And the Berkshire Eagle, which loves a critical editorial, must have been ordered to stay clear of Pittsfield s snow debacle. If a story might touch a special interest persona then it is off limits at the BB.

Lots of stories dragged in off the internet about sensational issues in other towns though. Ones you could care less about.

spagirl
spagirl
9 years ago

Dan Valenti…..Your lead blog today is immeasurable, enjoyable, and painfully true. ….disgustingly true.

Bill Sturgeon
Bill Sturgeon
9 years ago

Where is Barrett when we need him? Like Barrett or not, he knows how to manage public resources and serve the taxpayers. He didn’t stay Mayor for over 2.5 decades by not serving the public.
Too often in Gov’t it is a personality contest not who is the best qualified person that decides who gets the job. Just my opinion!

Tony
Tony
Reply to  Bill Sturgeon
9 years ago

Were is Bruneau and Yon. They were they ones that implemented Barrett’s plan.

O’ that’s right forced they were forced out by Bianchi and replaced by the no plan, plan….

amandaWell
amandaWell
9 years ago

Barrett for Mayor!

knows the truth
knows the truth
9 years ago

Mark my words, they will NOT appear before council next week. And the council has nothing to say about it. New charter rules requires at least 7 days notice.Funny how GB roads are worse as I travel on them everyday. Such a lie!!!

spagirl
spagirl
Reply to  knows the truth
9 years ago

The only one who won’t appear is the same one who doesn’t show up everyday….and doesn’t need transparancy….Bumstead!!. The other two will be there..claiming every lie in the book.

The Joker
The Joker
9 years ago

Colon cleansing? Colon cleansing?
hahaha….. now that’s funny

Because … THIS TOWN NEEDS AN ENEMA!

Tourtière
Tourtière
9 years ago

Wait a second, colon cleansing you say? I think the people that are making every excuse for the failed snow removal attempt, may indeed need a good cleansing. They seem to be full of it. A group rate may be in order here.

Still wondering
Still wondering
9 years ago

Amazing stuff Dan. Pittsfield just might be finally out of money. It will only get worse.

MrG8811
MrG8811
9 years ago

2 things: first, DON’T GET DISTRACTED by the snow job turmoil and tempest. Eyes on the prize!! IF there is anyone organizing efforts to secure a vote by the public on the new Taconic…stay focused on that!

Second, anyone who is making $100k+ at their job…has NO right to have a side job! I have made that kind of money, and more, but it takes immersion; like 60-70 hours a week! That would leave little time for a side occupation. Focus on what you DO…put in the hours…DON’T GET DISTRACTED. Sheesh…if your colon is clean enough, can your brains actually slip out the back door?!?

Fred Janson
Fred Janson
Reply to  MrG8811
9 years ago

Mr Valenti. You take my blogs off but let this crap stay? Wow I guess we don’t have freedom of speech in this country!

Joe Kline
Joe Kline
Reply to  Fred Janson
9 years ago

Please redact Fred Janson. Again he is attacking just like on topiz and not advancing the conversation

MrG8811
MrG8811
Reply to  Joe Kline
9 years ago

Disagree Joe. As long as old Fredzo keeps it clean and non-libelous he should be able to say what he pleases. Who are we to judge what advances the conversation and what doesn’t? I mean, dear Jonathan M. Is repetitive and rarely offers anything new, yet his comments stay

Joe Kline
Joe Kline
Reply to  MrG8811
9 years ago

True but we all know who Fred is

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
Reply to  MrG8811
9 years ago

I am imperfect in many ways, but I am a human being who cares about my fellow people. I have a right to Free Speech, and I will always speak my good conscience as long as I live, including speaking out about the corruption in Pittsfield politics ran by the Good Old Boy network that consists of multigenerational, interrelated, low gene pool local families that take care of themselves at the expense of the people. Thousands of people have fled Pittsfield over the past couple of decades. Pittsfield’s tax base is shrinking, while its taxes and spending is increasing (above inflation) every single year. Jimmy Ruberto spent tens of millions of public dollars on revitalizing a dead downtown full of third rate artists, while Dan Bianchi is going to spend tens of millions of dollars on a new Taconic High School with hundreds of students choicing out of Pittsfield public schools to neighboring communities such as Lenox. There is a municipal election this year of 2015, and I wonder who is going to continue to downward spiral in Pittsfield politics?

MrG8811
MrG8811
Reply to  Fred Janson
9 years ago

Crap?!? Witty and urbane perhaps. I talked about brains slipping out the back door…you characterized same as crap! LOL

Constipated in Pissfield
Constipated in Pissfield
9 years ago

If people can’t go anywhere because the condition of the roads make it unsafe to do so, what better is there to do than sit at home and flush out your colon?

Hey, its better than sliding through an intersection and getting T-boned by another vehicle, causing you to shit your pants, which also cleans out your colon.

Gene
Gene
9 years ago

My contacts in Highway say the city stated that the city started the winter with 1,500 tons of treated salt for the roads. Where did all go? The streets of Pittsfield didn’t see it that’s for sure.

Downtown Smashup Derby
Downtown Smashup Derby
Reply to  Gene
9 years ago

Bianchi told the Berkshire Eagle that the sand/salt mix was in very limited supply. He is insinuating that its precious and not be wasted. Claims it doesn’t work in cold weather.

Limited? Limited to what?
Limited to a few connected contractors who need it for their customers in for profit businesses who get it free at taxpayer expense?

He certainly didn’t use it on the roads. He did not put it out for public use. Where did it all go?

I don’t know if Mayor John Barrett reads this blog but would love to see him weigh in on here. Wouldn’t that ever make Bianchi’s blood boil.

Sonny
Sonny
Reply to  Gene
9 years ago

Hey Gene are you still of driving age? Go around Pittsfield and
see if you can find one car that isn’t covered in salt. This has been a harsh winter, and if people fail to realize that they are only kidding themselves. Not sure when this PC Yuppie attitude that there should be no precipitation on the roads came into existence. I remember growing up in this city many years ago when roads were snow covered for much longer period of times.
Slow down and ride the winter out. Maybe some of the loudest whiners can apply for plow routes next year and show everyone how it is done!

accountabilty
accountabilty
Reply to  Sonny
9 years ago

Mayor Barrett already did show us how its done.
The problem only exists in Pittsfield; the surrounding towns and communities all have their roads clear and safe.

Don’t excuse this mayor.

Watch Dog
Watch Dog
Reply to  accountabilty
8 years ago

I plow for a nearby town. We have a system that is efficient. Pittsfield has some serious issues. Bianchi and his staff are too busy making excuses and pointing fingers. They need to spend more time on improving the condition of the roads as well as the snow removal issues. You have to have a system to complete the job efficiently. Pittsfield has no system whatsoever. Oh and by the way…….I did work for Pittsfield at one point…..in a couple departments. I left because I was too embarrassed to be part of Bianchi and Collingwoods staff. Finger pointers and excuses,,,,,,,it never ended.

Tempers Flare
Tempers Flare
9 years ago

I still think it was a case of bad plowing.

Esse
Esse
Reply to  Tempers Flare
9 years ago

Bad plowing? The plowers were sent home. Maybe you should read yesterdays blog.

Mayor sucks
Mayor sucks
9 years ago

So I could not stop on West street because of the glare ice conditions due to the lack of salt or sand on Tuesday morning going to the market, When I finally got into the Big Y parking lot it was down to blacktop due to using salt and sand. The mayor is a buffoon and an outright liar. Lanesboro was fine, and so was Adams. He needs to go away faster than this cold weather !!!!

spagirl
spagirl
Reply to  Mayor sucks
9 years ago

Mayor dumbass says salt doesn’t work. The Big Y needs to stop making him look bad.

Shelly Liver
Shelly Liver
9 years ago

Tes needs to be as transparent as salt melting the ice on the roads.

Cosbiesladies
Cosbiesladies
9 years ago

@Sonny you are right but the fact is someone dropped the ball and the logic says the mayor is to blame. With that being said it was the council and the consultant who said the managers were underpaid..

joetaxpayer
joetaxpayer
9 years ago

Sonny, that salt came from surrounding towns and state highway’s. Do agree that if your not a good winter driver stay off the roads when there slick.

Nota
Nota
9 years ago

One of the City Councilors in particular was leading the charge for raises for managers AND Council. Why do constituents have to call a Councilor to tell them the roads are treacherous? Don’t they traverse the City also?

dusty
dusty
Reply to  Nota
9 years ago

Would that councilor be Mr Lothrup? Yah, he is definitely not the friend of the taxpayer. Is he going to run for mayor?

spagirl
spagirl
9 years ago

Nota… I totally agree that constituents should not have to call their Councilors…or anyone else for that matter. It was a dangerous cluster that only a blind man couldn’t see. It was Total Disaster through the City…and …the only thing we need is Responsible, Competent Leadership…..No Excuses…No Lies….Obviously, there needs to be some replacements in this Dept. to restore and repair the morale and get the job done.

amandaWell
amandaWell
9 years ago

LOw will never be mayor..progressive spending isn’t what we need.

Rudy Guilani
Rudy Guilani
9 years ago

“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that Mayor Bianchi loves the city of Pittsfield”

spagirl
spagirl
Reply to  Rudy Guilani
9 years ago

Lol

Shelly Liver
Shelly Liver
9 years ago

If Craig Gaetani runs for Mayor, that will be my selection.

joetaxpayer
joetaxpayer
9 years ago

My selection would be anyone but Bianchi or any related to him.

Bea Breef
Bea Breef
9 years ago

Definitely NO LOW.

dusty
dusty
Reply to  Bea Breef
9 years ago

Its that “holier than thou” attitude that gets me. He acts like he is superior in every way over the regular folk. He has this scolding look when he talks to the audience. Does not make me feel valued as a citizen. Politician 101 dictates that you must pander to the constituency if you want their support. Guess he was absent the day they taught that class.

Bea Breef
Bea Breef
9 years ago

Dusty, he’s not all that.

spagirl
spagirl
9 years ago

Did everyone get their Code Red phone call from Bruce Collingwood?…

billy
billy
Reply to  spagirl
9 years ago

Lol

Watch Dog
Watch Dog
Reply to  spagirl
8 years ago

Yes…….I did spagirl. I figured out why it was a code red?? Its because they only plowed one side of my street……..they forgot to plow the other side.

Tempers Flare
Tempers Flare
9 years ago

Shovel your own walk Woody,and just shut up.

billy
billy
9 years ago

Now Bianch has people from surrounding towns writing letters to the Editor saying how great Collingwood and Swail are doing.What a absolute joke for a Mayor.If Bianchi or any of his clowns get reelected ,Pittsfield will be the size of Dalton

spagirl
spagirl
Reply to  billy
9 years ago

I thought the same thing. What an asinine letter. All the Pittsfield Residents must be crazy, because she had no problem navigating the systemic fail. This sounded like Theresa doing her magic for … “it’s not necessary to appear before the Council.” I got no splaining to do.

Ed McClelland
Ed McClelland
Reply to  billy
9 years ago

This belies the oild and redundant issue that has been raised many times over and has stymied both Dan Valenti and Craig Gaetani as they have met their match in The Sheffield Shuffler, John DeAngelo. There are a multitude of City employees that are not Pittsfield residents, but commute to city facilities. This is a carefully guarded number. Of course they’re going to support the administration that signs their paychecks and do as they are told. Wonder how DeAngelo’s 40 mile commute was ?

Remington Steele
Remington Steele
Reply to  Ed McClelland
9 years ago

DV was not stymied by the Shuffler. He asked for something he knew he wouldn’t get to prove the point of the citys lack of cooperation. DV splained it all months ago. You musta missed it. Agree with every thing else you say.

Shelly Liver
Shelly Liver
9 years ago

The Last thing we need to hear is Woodrow telling us to shovel and where to park. You’re two months late!

dusty
dusty
9 years ago

It is like Walt Disney has come back to life and created all these cartoon characters to run the city of Pittsfield. It is actually kind of scary when you think about it.

Tito
Tito
9 years ago

It’s goofy!

AlaskanBushClowns
AlaskanBushClowns
9 years ago

I understand about the 219 miles of roads, but why do thee plows do such a lousy job? And they need to remove it better especially around street corners?

Cosbiesladies
Cosbiesladies
9 years ago

This morning Woddoy’s plowboyz scraped the paint off the roads, ages must be trying to impress us? Woody wants us to shovel out the fire hydrants? How is an old lady supposed to do that when plows bury them, for no reason, it’s impractical.

Get some of the city workers to do that, especially in an emergency.

dusty
dusty
Reply to  Cosbiesladies
9 years ago

any reason some of the taxpayer supported jailbirds cannot shovel some snow from hydrants and sidewalks??/ Seems to me it could be done if the powers that be wanted it.

I would like to know the reason why not. How about the kids on probation? seem like a whole lot of strong labor lying around in front of taxpayer paid for televisions and computers.

Dave
Dave
Reply to  dusty
9 years ago

They actually were doing just that a couple of weeks ago dusty.

Watch Dog
Watch Dog
Reply to  Cosbiesladies
8 years ago

I have an idea????? The city has an abundance of superintendants, assistant superintendants, supervisors, assistant supervisors and so forth. They spend a lot of time driving the city streets with their fancy shiny king cab pickups. Maybe they could shovel out a few hydrants. After all, were they not recently rewarded with a generous salary increase while the rest of the DPW got shafted?

spagirl
spagirl
9 years ago

Tuesday’s Council Meeting is well anticipated. We know TES is not facing the music…he’s in charge of finger pointing..and shuffling the cards. It ought to be quite the show Dumb and Dumber quality, with an appearance by Pinnochio.

Cosbiesladies
Cosbiesladies
9 years ago

Thanks for shoveling Dave.

AlaskanBushClowns
AlaskanBushClowns
9 years ago

Mr. Collingwood forget to also mention severe flooding today.

AlaskanBushClowns
AlaskanBushClowns
9 years ago

Spider, correction undo. Where Benedict meets Dalton Ave it is literally one lane when it is supposed to be two..Barely can fit two cars. ccident waiting to happen.

Watch Dog
Watch Dog
8 years ago

Just wanted to give Bruce Colonwood and Kevin Swail a heads up…………It’s supposed to snow again…..on Sunday night. The weather forecast is calling for just a few inches…….nothing severe. A minimal snow squall. So here is a good test for you both. Let’s see if “you guys can get it right”. The winter season is coming to a conclusion and this is your chance to prove something…….anything. You can’t possibly bat zero for the entire winter season. Unless of course you plan on making excuses as you have been all winter. Don’t think that’s going to get you a free pass. That’s just another strikeout. I know it’s a little bit of work but really…….it’s nothing strenuous. I am actually gonna go out on a limb……and give you’s the benefit of the doubt just this once. Will I be shocked if you’s fail once again…….of course not. But every now and again…….a blind squirrell finds a nut once in a while. Go get em boys!!!

Watch Dog
Watch Dog
8 years ago

Message to Kevin Swail (rhymes with fail)………..Hello Mr. Swail,
I thought I would provide you with something that could change you……as a person. It would be in your best interest. You were obviously hired by Colonwoody to be the DPW highway director……..whatever. This was a done deal………no one else had a chance. You had the job even before it was posted. But whatever. Whats done is done. Now to get to my point…..I am thinking that you were probably directed by Colonwoody and Bistanky on how to maintain the roads this winter season. No salt, no plowing, no pre-treating, no pushing back snow banks. Save money. Now comes the outcry from the citizens. You had your chance to be a stand up guy at the recent council meeting. You blew it. But you can still fix this. Blow the whistle on these clowns………they are making you look foolish, stupid, and incompetent. Speak the truth, speak as you should. Show some integrity. Show some morale. Show some character. You will have more respect from people than you ever could have imagined. Even the DPW workers have stated that the roads were not pre-treated. Some were even sent home during a storm. It’s been documented right here on the planet. The truth isn’t always popular…….but it’s still the truth. I sure as hell hope I never end up in the situation that you are in. And if I ever am in a situation similar to yours…….there is no way in hell I would let a couple of bafoons drag me into the gutter with them.