Friday, March 25, 2005

Topic: Pittsfield's Mayor

Your feedback:

88 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think he really blew it when it came to getting AAA baseball in Wahconah Park. I think Bouton's people would have done a good job for the city as well as for the park.

Saturday, March 26, 2005 7:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...but let's be real. If that baseball fanatic couldn't pull it off, then nobody could. Let's put our energies into havign the Dukes be successful.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005 1:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think there will be any serious competition in the fall??????

Wednesday, March 30, 2005 1:08:00 PM  
Blogger pfennell said...

The story, 'The Emperor's New Clothes' ring a bell?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005 4:01:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Mayor Ruberto is a great Mayor for the City of Pittsfield. I couldn't think of a better Chief Executive Officer to run the city government. He will work with businessmen and businesswomen to build investment capital and growth in Pittsfield. I believe great things will happen for Pittsfield with Jim Ruberto as Mayor.

Friday, May 13, 2005 8:50:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...

April 28, 2005

The Berkshire Eagle
Attn: Letters to the Editor
Pittsfield, Massachusetts, USA

Dear Berkshire Eagle, et al:

Re: “Economy in government” (Eagle Editorial, 4/28): I believe Mayor Jim Ruberto is not doing enough to keep property taxes low because the real issues of cost are not being comprehensively addressed by Beacon Hill Legislators (bureaucrats). Mayor Ruberto is in a “Catch-22” because he cannot afford to antagonize the state power brokers by coming straight out from his gut to say what I am willing to write: “Raise the Revenues, Stop the Cuts”! For 3 straight fiscal years, Pittsfield, among with her 350 municipal neighbors, felt the pain of budget cuts to local programs, including, but not limited to, cuts in public education, cuts in public works (see “Big Dig”), cuts in Lottery Aid, cuts in public health and safety, etcetera. From FY2002 to FY2004, the Massachusetts Legislature and the two respective governors (one “Acting”) saw fit to cut local aid to municipalities. In FY2005, or now until June 30th, the state increased local aid by an average of a paltry 3%, which means Pittsfield, et al, received more state funding in FY2001 than it has in FY2005 and will in FY2006.

What does Mayor Ruberto need to do? He knows my feelings on the issues. I don’t know if he likes them, but I know he respects me enough to listen. Mayor Ruberto needs to be a part-time Mayor and a part-time politician on Beacon Hill. I know that is not the ideal for a Mayor, but it certainly is the reality! An effective Pittsfield Mayor will be known well at the State House. He (or she) will protest, in a polite way (something I have never been good at), every cut in local aid that the Beacon Hill power brokers hurl at their cities and towns. If enough Mayors came together and spoke their consciences about the realities of the 3 consecutive years of budget cuts by the Beacon Hill power brokers then the cuts will end and real state funding would be restored. The now annual 3% increases in local aid would become 20% increases in local aid until the state pays its fair share of expenses to municipalities; then, the state can legitimately increase local aid by 3%. Right now, the Beacon Hill power brokers are just that: Power Brokers (NOT Representatives).

The Legislature is not responding to the will of the people by their colossal cuts in local aid to the lowest level in recent history. The Legislature should know that in the United States of America, we are a government of the people, by the people and for the people. We should follow the example of are Founders and other great leaders by being fair, just and equitable. This paradigm of our nation’s rich past would mean electing new leaders to represent us in the State House and on Capital Hill. We would need to send a message to our leaders that we want our fair share of funding so that we will have quality public schools, transportation, health-care, and the like.

I, Jonathan A. Melle, will always be there for the people. I will always make people (especially politicians and special interests) and organizations angry at me for speaking the truth, such as in the tradition of President “Give `em hell, Harry” Truman. I will always be a leader in the tradition of our nation’s rich heritage. I love my country so much that I will both always speak my good conscience as long as I live, and always represent and advocate for the weakest members of our society in the spirit of Jesus Christ. I don’t know if I will ever be a “successful” politician, but I will always have a good heart; and NO ONE will ever take away my FREEDOM!

Sincerely,

Jonathan A. Melle

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 9:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Donna M. Walto said...

The citizens of Pittsfield are discovering that our City’s administration is out of touch with the average taxpayer. On June 14, 2005, the Mayor was in Boston urging the Legislature to create an Artist Zone in Pittsfield and asking that the artists living in the zone be exempt from paying state taxes on the first one- hundred thousand dollars of income per year that they earn. Is this Mayor so out of touch with reality that he doesn’t realize that most hard working people of our City make less than one- hundred thousand dollars per year and get no tax breaks? I wonder if he sees the irony of his seeking tax breaks for these “artists” while at the same time asking the taxpayers of Pittsfield “to make sacrifices” by paying significant tax increases for the past two years, and paying an imposing a fifty-two per cent increase in water and sewer fees. It seems that this Mayor is so impressed with the “ world of art” that he has completely lost sight of the rest of us. He needs to know that, we the people, the citizens and taxpayers of Pittsfield, not just the “artists”, need a state tax break so that we can afford to pay our escalating real estate taxes and the significant increase in our water and sewer fees.

Monday, July 11, 2005 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear Berkshire Bloggers,

I read the Eagle's rosy editorial, "Peace on the Culture Front", this summer morning. I liked, but was not fooled by, what the Eagle had to say about Pittsfield & North Adams embracing the arts community and their deep pockets. I think it is important to give North Adams' 20+ year Mayor John Barrett III credit for helping the arts via Mass MoCA and the downtown, but there are so many other countless contributors to this important accomplishment. I hope at least someone out there keeps that in mind. Mayor Barrett is not a god, but just a Mayor. He serves the people as a public servant. I dissent against this deification "bullshit" the Eagle puts into ink about this man and his city.

I know Mayor Ruberto reads my emails. I have to say to him that I think both Mayors Barrett and Ruberto are really good men who want the best for their communities and the Berkshires. They both have my support for this reason. Although Mayor Barrett picks on me, while Mayor Ruberto is nice to me, I see both people as men, not gods or any other fantastic character. Mayors Barrett and Ruberto have both taken solemn oaths to serve the American people who live in their communities. If either of them deviates from their oaths, they will have my opposition. If Mayor Ruberto follows the Eagle, Mayor Barrett, or any other lead than his own leadership, then Mayor Ruberto will lose my support. I support a man (or woman) who will lead, not follow, in a position such as Mayor or President.

I support Mayor Ruberto and Mayor Barrett because they are fighting for their communities. This is only a good thing. Both people are only just men who want to lead. This, too, is good. I believe tourism and the economic development to increase tourist demand to urban centers is a very intelligent plan for a region rich with beauty, the arts and good community leaders.

I know tourism is the Berkshires biggest and most lucrative industry, but there are so many holes and weaknesses to this industry that the arts must be a complement to many other industries. The biggest weakness of the tourism industry in the Berkshires is that it is very seasonal. A lot of money is made in a condensed period of time. Another huge hole in the tourism industry is that the money leaves with the tourists. Only a fraction of the tourism revenue raised actually stays in the Berkshires, while the rest goes to Boston, New York City and other centralized corporate coffers. This weakness exposes an inequity in the industry not only for the Berkshire tourist workers, but also for the local communities. Who does the tourist industry serve? The answer is the elite and wealthy nonprofits and corporations. The Berkshires gets the leftovers.

I hope we don't fool ourselves into thinking we have found the answer to the inequities so apparent in rural Berkshire County when they are still so obviously there.

Sincerely,

Jonathan A. Melle

~Former-lifelong resident of Berkshire County~

Monday, August 08, 2005 9:25:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...

NOTE: This is not my letter, but I am in concurrence with the author.

Friday, September 02, 2005

To the Editor of THE EAGLE:-

On many fronts Pittsfield is making progress. Efforts clearly under way because of Mayor Ruberto have succeeded in many cases and, in many other areas, initiatives have begun to make or re-make a city which has gone through a bad period.

GE leaving for the most part and clear evidence of general neighborhood decay persists in certain areas. The resurgence of North Street is under way along with the cultural venues, movie theaters, restaurants. More needs to be done, but I feel momentum gaining.

Fire and police departments continue to do a great job despite force reductions and a new team in the School Department will mean improvement.

It is essential, therefore, that James Ruberto be continued in office. This will enable Pittsfield to move into a more hopeful and better future as a city.

LESLIE R. RATHBUN

Pittsfield, Aug. 26, 2005

Friday, September 02, 2005 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

September 08, 2005

Dear Berkshire Bloggers,

Re: “Ruberto will run again” (9/8/2005, The Berkshire Eagle): There is a most important message missing from Mayor Jim Ruberto’s 2005 re-election campaign that was front and center in his 2003 campaign: Citizen Participation in Pittsfield Government!

When I voted for Jim Ruberto in 2003, this issue was the crucial reason why I chose Jim Ruberto over Sara Hathaway for Pittsfield’s Mayor. During the brief Sara Hathaway 2-years, both then-Mayor Sara Hathaway and the then-City Council made it very intimidating for citizens to participate in their local government. At that time, there was much inter-governmental conflict and personality clashes, and the people the city served were marginalized by the government’s boyish immaturity.

I am curious, Mayor Ruberto, where do the people stand in your Administration and re-election campaign? If the answer is that the people belong on the sidelines (or marginalized), then you, Mayor Ruberto, will have lost my support. If the answer is that every citizen in the City of Pittsfield counts and is heard by the city government, then you, Mayor Ruberto, will have my tremendous approval and continued support. For, your 2003 campaign message of citizen participation in Pittsfield government was the reason I supported you, Mayor Ruberto, and the reason why I hope to support you from afar this year as well.

Sincerely,
Jonathan A. Melle
~Former resident of Pittsfield, Mass.~

Thursday, September 08, 2005 9:30:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear Berkshire Bloggers:

In reply to: “Ruberto discusses plans for Pittsfield” (September 13, 2005, The Berkshire Eagle): I am again let down by Mayor Jim Ruberto’s silence on the importance of the people he is serving as Pittsfield’s Mayor. This silence creates an ambiguity of where Ruberto now stands on where the average citizen stands in his administration.

In 1998, my dad was an elected Berkshire County Commissioner. Bob Melle, my dad, was in a public argument with North Adams State Representative Dan Bosley concerning the fate of Berkshire County Government. My dad’s position was that the people were the owners and voice of the government. Dan Bosley’s position was that the state, a non-human entity, were the owners and voice of the government. Dan Bosley helped State Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., to abolish Berkshire County Government in the FY1999 state budget. My dad called Bosley’s philosophies towards the people, state and government “reprehensible.” Bosley responded that it did not matter what my dad thought because Bosley asserted that the state owns the county government. My dad then sent shivers of joy down my spine and made me very proud when he said to Bosley: “No. The state doesn’t own the county. The people own the county.”

I never was so proud and thankful in my life that someone out there, especially my father, stood up to a power broker like Dan Bosley and set the record straight.

We live in a Democracy. We live in a country where all elected and appointed government officials work for the state but serve the people. We live in a country where power brokers such as Dan Bosley may put the people down in state oppression, take their public jobs away via his heavy handed politics, pull funding to programs that don’t praise him, have $100 per plate fund raisers at the Pier 4 in Boston, but in the end Dan Bosley must accede to the fact that the people own the government and that the people will always speak out against tyranny, abuses of power, and heavy-handed politicians like him.

I am not saying that Dan Bosley is a bad guy. I just think he is wrong in his authoritarian philosophies on government!

I want to know where Mayor Ruberto stands on this issue. After all, two years ago he spoke at public hearings, such as the one covering the Ward 5 Garrity Transfer Station. As a citizen and candidate, Ruberto wanted his voice heard. Is he hearing his constituent’s voices now that he is the Mayor?

Sincerely,
Jonathan A. Melle

Tuesday, September 13, 2005 4:29:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

In concurrence with Mayor Ruberto’s stand against crime

Dear Berkshire Bloggers:

Re: “Candidate repeats false reports” (The Berkshire Eagle, September 17, 2005): Mayoral candidate Donna M. Walto makes a ridiculous statement that if she becomes mayor crimes such as the shooting on Lincoln Street in July "will not be allowed." Of course such a criminal act of violence is not tolerated by any Mayor, past, present and future.
Mayor Ruberto’s stand against crime has been a strong one, indeed. I concur with the Mayor that he did not want a “photo-op.” However, I do believe Mayor Ruberto needs to strengthen his ties with the community and a public statement, even now, against violence would help matters. I have not heard from Mayor Ruberto lately, but I wish him well in his mission to revitalize Pittsfield. Mayor Ruberto needs to stay connected to the people because his positive goals are his greatest strength in leadership.
The best way to stop crime is through compassion, not coercion. A community that cares about their fellow neighbors is a strong community—rich or poor. I am glad that law enforcement agencies and political leaders are working together, but it takes a little more than bureaucracy to answer society’s toughest problems and tragedies.
God Bless Pittsfield & America!
Sincerely,
Jonathan A. Melle

Saturday, September 17, 2005 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Endorses Ruberto for second term

Letters

Thursday, September 22, 2005

To the Editor of THE EAGLE:-

In 2003, as the then president and owner of radio stations WUPE and WUHN I editorially endorsed James Ruberto for the
office of mayor of Pittsfield.

While I may not agree 100 percent with everything the mayor has done during his first term in office, I am absolutely convinced that overall he's done a commendable job, and in the best interests of the city should be re-elected for a second two-year term.

Neither of Ruberto's two opponents in the upcoming Sept. 27 primary election have the experience or background necessary to function as mayor. This community can't afford a mayor-in-training taking over as chief executive officer of the city.

I urge Pittsfield voters to re-elect James Ruberto mayor of Pittsfield.

PHILIP A. WEINER

Pittsfield, Sept. 19, 2005

Thursday, September 22, 2005 8:06:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

November 5, 2005

Re: In concurrence with the Eagle for Mayor Ruberto’s re-election!

Dear Berkshire Bloggers,

I also endorse Mayor Jim Ruberto for re-election. While I have strong political differences with this great Mayor of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, I also have a great respect for his leadership, integrity and compassion for the people of the beautiful city of Pittsfield.

I was born and raised in this beautiful city. I love Pittsfield very much. My dad was a long participant in Pittsfield politics, including being a member of the School Committee in the 1970s and later as a Berkshire County Commissioner in the 1990s. Through my dad’s good deeds in public service, public school lunches were kept affordable in the 1970s and a reservoir/lake in Cheshire was saved from the plight of a negligent and private landowner. But also, I came to know of a very rotten man my father once allied himself to as part of Pittsfield’s political machines. The mean-spirited man I speak of is Peter G. Arlos, who served as a County Commissioner and Treasurer, and also many years as a Pittsfield City Councilor.

The reason why Arlos is pertinent is due to the fact that Ruberto’s “Rovian” challenger, Donna Walto, has put herself in the eye of the Arlos political machine for her own political gain. My point is that every Walto slight against Ruberto is emanating from Arlos’ publicly funded Berkshire Regional Retirement System office where Arlos sits as Chairman, double-dipping as a pensioner from this same system and currently collecting a stipend for doing virtually the same job as before. Arlos’ motives to help Walto’s efforts to defeat Ruberto are due to both Mayor Jim Ruberto having the integrity to stand up against Arlos’ machine politics, and also for Arlos to control Walto if she won office. This shows both Arlos to be Machiavellian and Walto to be bought and paid for on the cheap.

Look, Mayor Jim Ruberto has integrity. He is a good man who wants to do good things for Pittsfield and her inhabitants. My differences with Ruberto is that while he doesn’t give in to the various powerful political machines that truly run Pittsfield, he also doesn’t stand up to them either. Mayor Ruberto is not a fighter when he needs to stand and fight. For example, when the Labor Unions’ political machines negotiated with Ruberto, he did not stand up to the State Government for increases in local aid and public education funding, or to the Federal Government for increases in Special Education Funding. Rather, Ruberto was only tough with the local labor unions. I do not believe that this was the right thing to do, but rather the easy way out to make a short-term good impression in local politics. That being said, one of the aspects I appreciate about Ruberto is that one can dissent against his public policies and still be treated with the utmost respect and good will.

Mayor Ruberto is like the protagonist character in “A Man for All Seasons.” No matter my concurrence or dissent, Mayor Ruberto listens to what I have to say to him. No matter the cherries or blacklists, Mayor Ruberto stands by his community and their people. I proudly endorse Mayor Jim Ruberto for re-election as Pittsfield, Massachusetts’ Mayor!

Sincerely,
Jonathan A. Melle
~Former lifelong member of Berkshire County~

Saturday, November 05, 2005 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Mayor wary of PCBs study

By Jack Dew, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Berkshire Eagle

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

PITTSFIELD — A proposal to commission an independent study of two controversial PCB sites in Pittsfield is being met with a lukewarm response from Mayor James M. Ruberto, who yesterday said it would be a premature move.
At-large City Councilor Pam Malumphy is seeking an city-financed study of a polluted Newell Street site where hundreds of barrels have been found, some of which contained PCB oil, and of Hill 78, a toxic landfill that sits next to Allendale Elementary School.

To pay for the tests, Malumphy has proposed spending some of the $10 million Pittsfield is receiving from General Electric under the terms of a settlement agreement among GE, the city, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and others. The funds were designed to compensate Pittsfield for a loss of property tax revenue and to give it money to spur economic redevelopment.

Any use of the economic development funds needs the approval of the mayor and at least eight of the 11 city councilors. Ruberto said yesterday that he believes the city should wait for results of tests inside Allendale and should continue to monitor the cleanup of the Newell Street site.

"Let us get the facts," Ruberto said. "Our responsibility as city government is to ensure the public health and safety. That is something that can never be taken lightly, and getting the facts, collecting information, understanding the data is the first major step I see."

The City Council is scheduled to consider Malumphy's petition when it meets tonight at 7:30 p.m. in City Hall. Malumphy has said an independent study of the sites would help Pittsfield marshal the information it needs to make an informed decision on the cleanup and, if necessary, push for changes.

The Newell Street site where GE and the EPA have found hundreds of barrels dumped there sometime before 1977, when the federal government banned PCBs, sits in Councilor Linda Tyer's Ward 3.

Tyer yesterday also described the call for an independent study as premature, and said it was an "awful long way from the original intent" of the economic development funds, and she questioned how much it could cost.

"If it starts to feel like we are not making progress with the EPA and GE, and we decide that an independent audit is what we need, then there should be another source of money for that," Tyer said, saying the city should only use those funds to encourage economic growth.

"If it feels like we aren't getting answers — and I don't think we are at that point yet — then maybe an independent audit is the way to go," she added.

For the past three months, the City Council has shown a renewed interest in the ongoing PCB cleanup, spurred largely by the barrels found in the Newell Street parking lot.

While that spot was long known to be heavily polluted, the discovery of the barrels raised its profile and drove home the fact that the site will be capped — not cleaned entirely — so the pollution will remain underground.

Meanwhile, the Allendale Elementary School community has grown increasingly concerned about the presence of Hill 78, a 5.6 acre toxic landfill that sits 50 feet from the school yard. They have been calling on state and federal authorities to test their school; last week the state Department of Public Health agreed.

PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are considered a probable cause of cancer. Studies have shown that exposure to the chemical can also lead to developmental disabilities in children.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Mayor sets 2nd-term agenda

By Scott Stafford, Berkshire Eagle Staff

Pittsfield Mayor James Ruberto is sworn in by Judge Daniel Ford during a ceremony at City Hall. Below, the new Pittsfield City Council assembles for the first time. Photos by Ben Garver / Berkshire Eagle Staff

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

PITTSFIELD — Re-elected Mayor James M. Ruberto yesterday called for sacrifice and "reasonable compromise" from residents to help complete the economic "renaissance" of the city.

In his second inaugural address at City Hall, Ruberto challenged the community to engage in a "citywide dialogue on the pros and cons" on the possible consolidation of the Pittsfield high schools, and for an ad hoc committee to conduct a complete review of the city charter.

Speaking to a supportive and enthusiastic audience yesterday, after a swearing-in ceremony for himself and the new City Council, Ruberto expressed gratitude to the former City Council and city residents for "optimism and hope."

In Pittsfield's 2005 city council election, two seats changed hands with races in three of the city's seven wards. Ward 4 elected challenger Michael Ward, and, "at large" incumbent city councilor Pam Malumphy lost by 32 votes to Peter Marchetti.

Ruberto also expressed gratitude to the voters for his re-election. He defeated Donna M. Walto by a 72 percent margin on Nov. 8.

"Evaluating school consolidation may tell us that maintaining two separate high schools is still the best approach, or it may tell us that we should invest in making one top-notch, state-of-the-art high school campus," Ruberto said. Whatever the result, he said, it is a discussion that needs to take place.

He noted that former Pittsfield Mayor Evan Dobelle has agreed to chair an ad hoc committee to conduct a full review of the city's charter.

"It's high time to move this issue beyond water cooler talk and determine the most beneficial charter structure for Pittsfield's future," he said.

Ruberto set several goals, including:

Creating a new master plan, which he described as "a comprehensive road map for smart growth that preserves open space, while creating areas for new commercial development."

Bringing into the city more new employees and businesses.

Upgrading housing stock via better code enforcement, more building inspections and an increase in staff to handle the increased demand.

Broadening the tax base.

"Attracting new investment is hard work, and each new source of revenue will require some sort of sacrifice on our part," the mayor said. "The simple fact is this: Attracting second-home owners, condominium owners and time-share developers is an excellent — and probably most immediate — source of new revenue."

Tuesday, January 03, 2006 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Re: Stopping Pollution in Pittsfield

Dear Berkshire Bloggers:

Re: “Mayor refuses to sign petition” (Berkshire Eagle, January 11, 2006): I believe that city leaders need to listen to the will of their residents and stop the pollution in Pittsfield. However, I also know a little about the disadvantageous positions one’s political opponents put their object of ridicule in, especially in the divisive factions of Pittsfield politics.

Former City Councilor William D. Barry is an insincere man, attorney and politician. I have little to no respect for him or his political activities. On the other hand, I have much respect for Mayor Jim Ruberto and his administration. I believe that Ruberto is sincere in wanting the best possible future for Pittsfield and her residents. While I have been known to openly dissent against Ruberto’s policies, I also see his integrity and merit. Where Barry is self-interested, Ruberto is putting forth his best interests for the benefit of the community he serves as the Mayor. I believe Barry’s true intent is to put Ruberto in a disadvantageous position with his constituents in order to build further opposition to the Mayor for his own personal and political advantages: i.e., to elect a new Mayor in 2007.

Pittsfield has problems. Ironically, I was discussing this very issue with my dad over dinner last evening. I expressed to my dad that Pittsfield politicians have their heads in the sand about many important issues impacting the city. The local politicians not only won’t acknowledge and act on any issue of social justice, but also they turn the issue around on you by telling one that people like myself are the real problems. In fact, I had this experience with City Council President Gerry Lee before moving to N.H. I wanted to work with Lee and other local politicians to lower the above-nationwide-average teen pregnancy rate in Pittsfield. Lee’s response was that I was among the social problems in Pittsfield (per his past conversations with North Adams Mayor John Barrett III) and then snarled at me. Lee, like many other politicians, had no intent in helping people, but rather they only choose to pick on them. I now think that there are many groups of self-interested people in Pittsfield who treat teen pregnancy as a growing industry for police, jails, welfare programs, public schools and the like.

Ruberto’s responses in this news article lack compassion and are also very sadly bureaucratic. Ruberto does well to be rational, but he should also show emotion and caring in his rationalities. Ruberto, Lee and others either supporting or seeming to sympathize with GE’s position concerning the remediation of the dangerous levels of pollution in Pittsfield also need to realize that former Mayor Gerry Doyle was a mentally-ill alcoholic when he signed the consent decree without ever opening it up for review. Doyle was not in sound body and mind to represent the entire city as its most infamous and failed Mayor.

In conclusion, this is yet another embarrassing moment in a long-list of sad times in Pittsfield politics! Here we have a former City Councilor with a not so secret agenda of bringing down the current Mayor for the advantage of his opponents in 2007, a Mayor who is super-rational and defensive with no outward compassion for the peoples’ worries and welfare over GE’s polluting ways, and a very dominating City Council President who has done well by himself in his past and current running of Pittsfield government at the expense of common good of the city. I just wish Pittsfield would change. I still believe having Mayor Jim Ruberto in office is a good start. He is not perfect, and that is what I like best about my friend who is a human being first and foremost!

Sincerely,

Jonathan A. Melle

Mayor refuses to sign petition

By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

PITTSFIELD — A former city councilor's attempt to get Mayor James M. Ruberto to sign a citizens' petition asking General Electric Co. to stop dumping PCB-contaminated waste at three city sites resulted in an angry confrontation between the two men at last night's City Council meeting.
During the public comment period, former City Councilor William D. Barry of 24 Kittredge Road asked the entire council and the mayor to add their names to a petition signed by 838 city residents asking that GE stop dumping contaminated material at Hill 78, Hill 71 and in an area bordered by Merrill Road and New York Avenue. Barry represented Ward 1 before deciding not to seek re-election in 2001.
In response to Barry's remarks, Council President Gerald M. Lee said that the 11-member council and Ruberto were not required to honor Barry's intentions at a council meeting. Ruberto then rose from his seat and addressed Barry personally.
"Unfortunately, I'm not going to sign his petition," Ruberto said. "I can't sign that petition. I continue to understand from all parties involved that the data suggests that GE is indeed in compliance with the agreement signed when Mr. Barry was a councilor."
Ruberto was referring to the consent decree that requires GE to clean up PCB contamination in Pittsfield.
As a few people in the audience began yelling at the mayor, Ruberto said that the city would continue to investigate the issue and would not settle it based on emotion.
"The people have spoken," Barry said. "The mayor has decided to side with GE."
"I think that it's highly improper to say that I side with GE," Ruberto said. He said the city would continue to use the resources of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Environmental Protection and the state Department of Public Health in conjunction with the city's independent legal counsel to monitor the situation.
"What I do resent, however, is that personal attack that Mr. Barry has made on me," Ruberto said, his voice rising, "particularly since, when he had the opportunity to establish consent agreements, when he was in the seats that you are to set policy and to establish course, he executed the agreement which I am now defending."
"I don't want to get into a debate with the mayor," Barry responded. "It's real simple. The kids in the community at Allendale are at stake. We've studied it and studied it for six years, and not a darn thing has been done.
"If the mayor doesn't want to act on it, we'll take it to a higher authority."
Before confronting Ruberto, Barry said he planned to take the petition to the School Committee and to U.S. Rep. John W. Olver's office.
As Barry left the podium set up in front of the council, sporadic clapping broke out in the audience.
One woman yelled, "Our children are so important."
"Please, please. That's not going to do any good," Lee said.
"I don't care," the woman said.
"Well, that's apparent," Lee responded.
Before Barry spoke, Denise Yon of 2 South Carolina Ave. and Tanya Hunt of 15 Allengate Ave. also asked the council to take action on PCB pollution, specifically at Hill 78, which is situated behind the athletic fields in back of Allendale Elementary School.
Hunt said the representatives of various agencies have told the parents of the Allendale pupils that the levels of PCBs in the school are under the required standards, but that the levels of PCBs under the school are not.
"Please support stopping the dumping behind the school," Yon said.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 5:23:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Re: Pittsfield never changes, not even the Mayors

Dear Berkshire Bloggers:

Lip Service! That is all that James M. Ruberto gave to the people of Pittsfield during his campaigns for Mayor in 2001, 2003 & 2005 – Lip Service! I cannot believe the news article, below, whereby Ruberto brought in such an abomination and appalling machine politician to head the city’s Licensing Board at the expense of a hard-working and qualified citizen who gave her time and energy to Pittsfield.

Boy, am I a dupe. I naively listened to James M. Ruberto point out all of the problems, solutions and changes that he would bring to Pittsfield, Massachusetts as its new Mayor. What a goddamned liar James M. Ruberto was and is. For Ruberto to appoint Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. to this municipal board shows me in full evidence and light of day that James M. Ruberto represents the fact that Pittsfield, Massachusetts will never change, that lip service towards change is a form of facetious sarcasm, and that Ruberto was, is and always will be part of the GOOD OLD BOYS NETWORK!

This is the last email I will ever send to Mayor Jim Ruberto in my entire life. I am through with him. He lied, betrayed my trust, and will run Pittsfield even further into the ground just like all of the other Good Old Boys have successfully done in the past. Boy, I am glad I don’t live in Pittsfield anymore. I am glad I don’t have to look at all of those fat old men who do nothing more than glad hand each other at the expense of so many bright and promising people in a city with so much potential that is squashed by these type of insincere guys.

DISGUSTED! I am very disgusted with Pittsfield Politics! What a shame! I am so very disappointed, even at the point of heartbreak. I was raised in Pittsfield on the false pretense that Pittsfield would someday change. I now see how wrong I was for believing such propaganda.

Boy, I am so glad to be away from Pittsfield! I hope I will stay away, too!

In sad truth and sincerely,

Jonathan A. Melle

Maduro at peace with term

By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff

The Berkshire Eagle

Saturday, January 28, 2006

PITTSFIELD — Miriam Maduro is proud of the work she did as chairwoman of the Licensing Board and sad that she has been replaced.

But Maduro is far from angry.

She is realistic enough to know that Mayor James M. Ruberto has the authority to appoint whomever he wants to serve on city boards.

In an effort to crack down on the unsavory activities that were reported at several city watering holes last year, Ruberto has decided to replace Maduro with Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano Jr.

The City Council approved Massimiano's appointment on Tuesday.

"I would have loved to have stayed on," said Maduro, who had been a member of the three-member board since 1993. She became chairwoman when the late Edward O'Keefe died in 2003.

"I thought we did real good work, and I'm proud of the work we did in getting (the city) new liquor licenses," she added. "I really loved that job and enjoyed being a part of it."

Maduro's current term on the Licensing Board had expired in June, but she had the option of remaining a member until Ruberto decided to replace her.

"The mayor has the right to appoint who he wants," Maduro said.

Ruberto, whose father, the late Anthony J. Ruberto Sr., chaired the Licensing Board in the mid-1970s, did not present Massimiano's appointment to the City Council for consideration until shortly before Tuesday night's meeting. He did, however, inform Maduro of his decision ahead of time.

"I guess I wasn't surprised," Maduro said. "I was more sad. I liked the job. I was sad that I couldn't continue my work. But that's not my call. It's his administration, and he has the right to pick and choose when appointments come up."

Ruberto said Maduro has served the city well, but he chose Massimiano to be her successor because he would like to continue infusing "new blood" into different boards.

"I believe that Sheriff Massimiano is evident of my interest in holding all liquor license owners to a very high standard," Ruberto said. "While I say that, it is not to be critical of the role that Miriam Maduro played."

The mayor said he believes that Massimiano is a "very persuasive man" whose leadership qualities will be an asset to the Licensing Board.

"I think he is a forceful and direct leader," Ruberto said.

Under state law, the Licensing Board has the authority to either grant all-alcoholic restaurant licenses, or to modify, suspend or revoke them. The board works closely with the Pittsfield Police Department, because the department usually brings forward allegations regarding liquor license violations.

The board had its hands full last year. It investigated possible liquor license violations at Club Red on Wendell Avenue Extension, The Tavern at 238 Fourth St., Pepe's Wings and Dogs at 87 Wahconah St. and Zen's Pub at 303 Tyler St. Under Maduro's guidance, the board limited the hours of those first three establishments for various periods of time and issued a warning to Zen's.

The alleged liquor license violations included unruly patrons and underage drinking at Club Red, a shooting and a stabbing at The Tavern, fistfights and patrons drinking outside the bar at Pepe's, and a fight involving 60 people at Zen's that spilled out of the bar onto the street.

Massimiano, who has been Berkshire County sheriff since 1978, has a master's degree in criminal justice administration from American International College. But Maduro is a lawyer, having graduated from both Union College and the New England College of Law.

On Tuesday, several councilors said that Maduro's legal expertise on the Licensing Board would be missed.

"I thought she did a great job," Ward 6 Councilor Daniel L. Bianchi said. "I've been at several hearings that she deliberated over. There was an incredible amount of institutional knowledge that she had. She took a very professional and scholarly approach to this.

"I thought she was fair and that board was appropriately tough. I didn't see the need for a replacement."

Monday, January 30, 2006 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Massimiano choice is business as usual

THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE

Letters

Friday, February 03, 2006

To the Editor of THE EAGLE:-

I couldn't help but laugh when I read the article regarding the mayor's choice for chairman of the city's Licensing Board. In particular, two comments that were made by Mayor Ruberto when asked about his decision to replace Miriam Maduro with Sheriff Massimiano.

The first comment, that the mayor considered the sheriff to be "a very persuasive man." Apparently so, seeing the mayor rushed his appointment through the City Council without any prior public notification, and little or no debate amongst the Council members.

Secondly, the mayor's comment the he would like to continue 'infusing new blood" into various City boards. If the mayor considers the sheriff, recently removed from his extended tenure on the school board, "new blood," then call me the next Pope.

By appointing the sheriff to this board, as chairman no less, all the mayor has done is play a shell game, keeping the same old, stale cronies in positions of importance.

TIM DISILVA

Pittsfield, Jan. 28, 2006

Monday, February 13, 2006 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear Berkshire Bloggers:

I HAVE MY DOUBTS THAT PITTSFIELD MAYOR JIM RUBERTO IS AT ALL A SINCERE MAN!

What do you think of Ruberto's integrity?

-Jonathan A. Melle

Thursday, February 23, 2006 2:54:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear Berkshire Bloggers:

Why do Pittsfield Mayor Jim Ruberto and Berkshire Sheriff Carmen Massimiano always act hand-in-hand on political issues in Pittsfield? Is Ruberto, who originally campaigned against machine politics, really part of a political machine with Massimiano? If so, Ruberto is really only serving special interests via a political machine instead of serving the people of Pittsfield and Berkshire County. Ruberto promised change for Pittsfield, but has only produced the same old product of insider machine good old boy politics for the people of Pittsfield. What a disservice machine politicians like Ruberto and Massimiano bring to government. I never understood the attraction of machine politics for fair-minded voters. This is really ashame for my native hometown. I hope Ruberto and Massimiano are voted out of political office soon.

Sincerely,

Jonathan

Capeless announces will seek re-election
4/25/2006 12:30 PM
By: Capital News 9 Web Staff

Berkshire County's District Attorney is seeking re-election.

David Capeless made the announcement Tuesday at the Berkshire Hills Country Club.

The Democrat was joined by supporters including Sheriff Carmen Massimiano and Pittsfield Mayor James Ruberto.


Capeless was named interim district attorney in 2003 after DA Gerard Downing died. He was then elected to the seat permanently in 2004.

So far, Capeless is the only candidate in the race. But there is speculation that attorney Judith Knight will throw her hat in the ring.

Knight has been a vocal opponent of Capeless' tough stance on prosecuting first-time drug offenders.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006 5:22:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear Honorable Mayor Jim Ruberto:

When you ran for office in 2003, your voice was not in unison with many of the local and state politicians (political machine). In fact, you spoke of making Pittsfield's schools the best in the state, thereby reversing the downward trend in performance. You were a solid voice for no drugs and public safety, thereby reversing another downward trend with the many murders that took place in the city during the Hathaway administration. You spoke of economic revitalization for the downtown and business community in Pittsfield, thereby reversing yet another downward trend with a tanking local economy. As you can see, you spoke of REVERSING or CHANGING the way things were going in Pittsfield. Are you doing that? Are our public schools better off, drugs and crime lowering in numbers, and is the business community growing? If so, then I am wrong to criticize you. If not, then you are wrong to have promised these changes. You wanted to bring positive CHANGE to Pittsfield.

As for D.A. Capeless: I believe, with the exceptions of heinous crimes, such as rape and murder, the system of Justice must be flexible and fair to those being tried for breaking the law. What I see from D.A. Capeless, et al, including yourself, is similar to what I see in the Bush Administration as it pertains to WAR, especially with IRAQ. With President Bush II, WAR is being used for political gain, there is no clear objective for military victory, our military stations are installed around oil fields, and we are achieving not military successes in Iraq, but rather strategic goals for: POLITICAL GAIN, CONTROL & ACCESS TO OIL FIELDS, MILITARY STRATEGIC GOALS. With DA Capeless, I see the race card being played for the same type of POLITICAL GAIN, no real reduction in drug crimes, and an inflexible and biased system of Justice against vulnerable young adult first offenders whose futures are being crushed by a region with a median age group of around 60 years of age.

In conclusion, I believe the political machine in Berkshire County, as the political machine in the nation's beltway, is INSINCERE! If I was Mayor of Pittsfield or President of the U.S.A., I would rather be unpopular and stand alone than support and order the current respective political machines that are ALL standing for INJUSTICE!

Sincerely,

Jonathan A. Melle

Tuesday, May 02, 2006 1:04:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Unions ignored in health proposal
Letters

Thursday, May 25, 2006

To the Editor of THE EAGLE:-

As a member of the Insurance Advisory Committee I was dismayed to read in the paper that the mayor had decided to shift, yet again, more of the health care costs on to the backs of present and future retirees.

What was especially dismaying was the lack of regard exhibited toward the IAC and the city municipal unions to read about this after the fact. The mayor completely disregarded the provisions of Massachusetts General Law 32b in failing to consult the IAC. The Insurance Advisory raised this issue in a meeting last October with the mayor's health care consultant. We asked if the mayor planned to increase the retiree contribution rate, the mayor's representative refused to answer. The surreptitious manner in which this has been handled discourages collaborative efforts to work with this administration. It is unfortunate that the press didn't chose to cover the IAC meeting on May 8, to report on the unions' perspectives of the mayor's proposal.

I think everyone agrees the key to controlling costs in promoting healthier life styles among employees and retirees, but the mayor's strategy thus far has simply been to shift costs on to employees and retirees. The Insurance Advisory Committee for the last four years has pushed for a comprehensive wellness program and that Tuesday members voiced their frustrations at the failure of both the city and school department to institute such a program.

Last year the IAC was told the programs would be rolled out in Jan. of 2005. Now another year has gone by and the city promises this will be the year.

Let us hope the promise won't be as empty as the anemic effort behind the Canadian drug program — introduced with much fanfare and little else.

According to Blue Cross the number one class of medications prescribed for city employees is antidepressants, it's not surprising considering the treatment shown city employees lately.

BILL TOBIN

Pittsfield, May 23, 2006

The writer is a member of the United Educators of Pittsfield.

Thursday, June 01, 2006 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Re: My open letter to Pittsfield Mayor Jim Ruberto

Dear Honorable Mayor Jim Ruberto:

Re: "Mayor fields policy gripes" (The Berkshire Eagle, June 2nd, 2006): You are misleading when you state that your plan to raise health insurance premiums for early retirees under the age of 65 from 10 percent to 20 percent would protect all retirees over the age of 65; and that you will ask the City Council to support a special request of the state Legislature to grandfather that group at 10 percent.

I read a lot of news articles about government as my academic background is in public administration, which is the function of your current position as Mayor of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Courts have ruled that it is ILLEGAL age discrimination for a public or private entity, such as the City of Pittsfield, to diminish the retiree's entitlements to pay and/or compensation after she or he is 65 or older in age. The reason why you are not going to raise the health insurance rates for Pittsfield municipal retirees at or over the age of 65 is due to the case law governing your public entity--the City of Pittsfield. By law, you, as Mayor of Pittsfield, cannot diminish the compensation of your city employees and municipal retirees after they are 65 or older. That was very misleading, Mayor Ruberto, and you should be placing substance over style, as governing is not the same as campaigning.

Sincerely,

Jonathan A. Melle
-----
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Mayor fields policy gripes

By Jack Dew, Berkshire Eagle Staff

The Berkshire Eagle

Friday, June 02, 2006

PITTSFIELD — Mayor James M. Ruberto's plan to raise health insurance premiums for early retirees was given a cold reception yesterday from an advisory committee.
Ruberto has proposed raising the contribution from retirees under the age of 65 from 10 percent to 20 percent of the cost of health insurance. He has estimated the change would save Pittsfield $266,000 in the fiscal year that begins July 1. It would reap even heavier benefits as the city faces a tidal wave of retirees in the coming decade.

Yesterday, members of the city's Health Insurance Advisory Committee, comprised of eight representatives of unions and city retirees, offered strong criticism of the plan, saying it will unfairly target those on a fixed income and will yield only a small savings to Pittsfield.

Ruberto defended his plan, saying it is necessary for the city to build. He reminded the board that his plan would protect all retirees over the age of 65: He will ask the City Council to support a special request of the state Legislature to grandfather that group at 10 percent. The higher premiums would then only affect the 248 retirees under the age of 65 and — once they retire — all current employees.

"We are trying ... to rebuild a community here," Ruberto said. "Were this the private sector, you probably wouldn't have any retiree health insurance because the company would have gone bankrupt and gone out of business."

The mayor described the budget as a balancing act that is trying to weigh city services against property taxes, and said Pittsfield has to continue to build on what it already has, not scale back.

Board member George Howes, himself a retiree, questioned whether saving $266,000 on the backs of retired workers is worth the pain it could inflict on them.

Frances Kennedy, representing the Pittsfield firefighters, agreed.

"For me to go from paying 20 percent (as an employee) to 10 percent when I retire is probably wrong. But there are police and fire who have been retired for 5 years, paying 10 percent, and who never paid 20 percent, and I don't think it's right for them" to pay the higher premium, he said.

Holly Taylor, the city's broker from True North Insurance, said while the savings in the coming fiscal year will be small in comparison to the $18.4 million cost of the health plan, it will translate into larger dollars in coming years.

When Ruberto unveiled his retiree plan on May 4, he had expected the change to take effect on July 1, the first day of the new fiscal year. He does not need the approval of the City Council or of the advisory board to increase the premiums.

Yesterday, however, he told the board that the change must first be subject to talks with the city unions. That will delay implementation of the plan, and it will not be in place by July 1.

Friday, June 02, 2006 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear Honorable Mayor Jim Ruberto, News Media, Politicians, and the People, & Berkshire Bloggers:

Re: "Community Preservation Act: Mayor Against Tax Surcharge" (The Berkshire Eagle, Saturday, 8/26/2006): What kind of community do you envision the great City of Pittsfield, Massachusetts becoming? A gentrified estate complementing Stockbridge? A strip of businesses cluttered amongst themselves? OR, a place where common citizens can enjoy the benefits of a safe community, a first-rate education (you promised in your 2003 campaign), and a nice place to raise a family?

I have traveled around the country and different parts of the World, and the one place everyone from Germany to New York City are able to tell me about is Stockbridge when I have mentioned Berkshire County to them. What a wealthy and well known Town! Every town in Western Massachusetts must want to be like Stockbridge. But is that the way to go? Should Stockbridge be the economic model for the rural Northeast? I would dare to say, "No." While there is nothing wrong with this beautiful and well to do Town, it would be impractical, if not impossible, for every rural Town to be the upscale retail store in the area.

So what does a municipality need to grow ecomonically if Stockbridge's model of wealth and status is not the answer? The biggest resource for the common rural Towns in the Northeast are its people. For some reason, economics works vastly differently on the small scale of a rural Town or even a suburban City than it does for a large scale urban area or an entire state and/or nation. For a Town such as Pittsfield, the biggest economic resource is not businesses, wealth and status, but its People. The greatest economic benefit of Pittsfield's citizens are the very things the Community Preservation Act stands for, which is a stable and well-funded property tax base by encouraging citizen investment dollars.

While businesses, wealth and status are important, (and they get all of the attention; i.e., Stockbridge), it is the citizens of Pittsfield that will decide the City's fate in years to come. Ergo, if Pittsfield becomes Stockbridge's playground, it may become unfriendly to common residents. Eventually, the wealthy and status-mongers from New York City and Boston will provide additional revenues through growing tourism dollars, but at the cost of a loss in (a) population, (b) stability in the property tax base and (c) citizen investment dollars into their community. In essence, your plan< Mayor Ruberto, for Pittsfield seems quite conservative in the way that you will be gutting the middle class, along side of the current wealthy corporate elites in Washington, D.C., Wall Street, and Beacon Hill. When Pittsfield becomes Stockbridge's complementary community, you will be divesting in the people you are supposedly representing as an elected public official.

On the other hand, Mayor Ruberto, a business strip model that you are seeming to be proposing will also alienate the common citizens of Pittsfield. Citizen investment dollars, which are the most valuable for Pittsfield, are (supposed to be) spent on nice parks, quality public schools, effective public safety, and the like. You, Mayor Ruberto, seem to be taking citizen dollars and throwing them at businesses. This will eventually mean the loss of citizen investment dollars for Pittsfield, too, as people will move away in hope for a community where they can better raise a family than stimulate a select group of businesses.

As a native of Pittsfield, I have been bothered by the median age of Pittsfield and most of Berkshire County being somwhere near 60 years old. The emphasis of this demographical deviating statistic has always told me that Pittsfield and Berkshire County, as well as many of the other areas of the rural northeast are no place for young adults and young families. Yet, the most valuable resource for any community are young professional families investing their money into communities such as Pittsfield. It is almost like Pittsfield and the rest of Northeastern rural Towns have missed the boat in order to save money in the short-term to have wasted it over many decades in the past, present and future.

My very best regards,

Jonathan A. Melle

Monday, August 28, 2006 8:20:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Community Preservation Act

Mayor against tax surcharge

By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff

Saturday, August 26, 2006

PITTSFIELD — Mayor James M. Ruberto said that he will not support the Community Preservation Act, a measure that would use a property tax surcharge to raise revenue to protect open space, preserve historic properties and develop affordable housing.

Speaking on The Dan Valenti Show on WBRK-AM 1340 and later with The Eagle, Ruberto said on Thursday that he sees the merits of the Community Preservation Act (CPA) and the advantages that it could bring to Pittsfield, but he believes that it would place a financial burden on the city's commercial taxpayers.

"I believe that the city of Pittsfield has a number of investments that it needs to make," Ruberto said. "While I believe that the CPA is a well-intended act, and while I see everything that it can bring to Pittsfield, I don't think at this time that we can put an additional burden on the commercial tax base.

"The commercial tax rate is increasing at a higher rate than the residential tax rate," he said. "As a result of that, we're asking the commercial taxpayer to carry a greater percentage of the burden. I don't think imposing a tax on the commercial taxpayer is a wise idea today when we're trying hard to locate companies to come to Pittsfield."

The residential property tax rate remained at $15.65 per $1,000 of valuation in fiscal 2005 and 2006, however, the tax bill for the owners of the average single-family home did increase from $2,238 to $2,344 during that same time span.

The city's commercial tax rate increased from $25.05 per $1,000 of valuation in fiscal 2005 to $27.66 in fiscal 2006.

Councilor-at-large Matthew M. Kerwood, who co-sponsored the Community Preservation Act with Ward 4 Councilor Michael L. Ward, said he disagrees with the mayor's position, and calls his view "shortsighted" because it contradicts Ruberto's previous comments that in order for Pittsfield to advance it needs to reinvest in itself.

The Community Preservation Act, which became available to state communities in December 2000, allows communities to assess a property tax surcharge of between 1 and 3 percent. The state matches the money the city collects through the surcharge residents pay for real estate transactions.

The City Council on Aug. 8 voted 8-3 to place the Community Preservation Act before voters in the form of a ballot question at the general election on Nov. 7. The council approved a 1 percent surcharge and two of the act's three exemptions. The first exemption spares property owners from the first $100,000 of taxable value for residential real estate. Under that exemption, a 1 percent surcharge would cost the owner of the average single-family home in Pittsfield, assessed at $149,932, $8 per year.

The second exemption is for those who qualify for low-income housing, or for persons over the age of 60 who live on less than $42,840 ($48,960 for a couple). The third exemption, which would not be applied in Pittsfield, is for all Class 3 commercial properties and all Class 4 industrial properties as they are defined by state law.

Kerwood said that only four of the 111 state communities that have adopted the Community Preservation Act, Maynard, Nantucket, Rockport and Sudbury, have approved the commercial exemption. The communities that haven't exempted commercial property include Stockbridge and Williamstown.

Businesses OK

Kerwood said, according to his estimates, the one percent surcharge would cost the owner of the average commercial property in Pittsfield an additional $136 per year.

"As far as the business piece of this, the business community is not shy about making its voice heard," Kerwood said. "The only business that we have heard from said they were thankful for the CPA and grateful that Councilor Ward and I have brought it forward."

Ward said he hasn't been contacted by any business owners who have had concerns regarding the Community Preservation Act, and that the surcharge should be viewed differently than a tax because of the items that the funding is slated for.

"It depends on how you look at it," Ward said. "Taxes go to infrastructure. This is going to an investment in the community. Do we want to make an investment in something like the (Samuel) Harrison House?

"I've learned as a ward councilor that we don't have money to pave our roads," Ward said. "We really don't have discretionary money to work on these sorts of things."

City Council President Gerald M. Lee, who called the Community Preservation Act a "terrible" piece of legislation suitable for wealthy communities, Ward 7 Councilor Anthony V. Maffuccio and Ward 2 Councilor Louis A. Costi voted against placing the measure on the ballot when the council met earlier this month.

Not just for rich

Kerwood said there are several wealthy communities among the 111 that have already adopted the Community Preservation Act, but that others similar to Pittsfield are on that list.

"Westfield, Southwick, Easthampton, even Northampton to a degree," Kerwood said. Quincy has also placed the CPA on the November ballot.

"So I don't see this as a rich community-only club," Kerwood said.

Any community that is considering the acquisition of open space, and preserving historic parcels, "should look at the CPA as a vehicle to have those goals and priorities supported," he said.

Margaret Ware, a Democratic state Senate candidate and former Williamstown selectmen, and Mary K. O'Brien, the outgoing register of the Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds, support the Community Preservation Act.

O'Brien said she reluctantly supports the Community Preservation Act, because despite its flaws it is the only way the city can tap into the $300,000 and $500,000 per year that city residents pay for real estate transactions at the Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds.

"The Pittsfield people have paid it, and the only way to get it is through the surcharge," she said. "So, I'm reluctantly drawn to support it."

Monday, August 28, 2006 8:22:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

10/3/06

Dear Berkshire Bloggers, People, News Media, and Politicians:

Re "Kerwood taking to Airwaves: Preservation measure is focus of campaign" (The Berkshire Eagle Online, 10/3/06): Pittsfield Mayor Jim Ruberto is wrong to say that the Community Preservation Act is well-intended but would additionally burden the city's commercial taxpayers. The reason why Ruberto is wrong is because his ecomonic outlook is that of a CEO or Governor or President running a large economy of scale that focuses on business over people to achieve increased private sector tax revenues through supply side economics. As Mayor Pittsfield or any other small economic scale community, Ruberto's focus should be on the most valuable resource, which is the people. That is the guts of public administration, and I am frustrated in Jim Ruberto that he doesn't understand his position in local government. For economic efficiency on a small scale such as a municipality or small business, the primary investment is in the people these kinds of entities serve.

To make this public policy issue understandable to those with a basic comprehension of public administration, watch the movie: "It is a Wonderful Life" with James Stewart's character George Baily who manages the old Building and Loans Office in Bedford Falls, N.Y. Old George Baily invested his small business in the people of Bedford Falls while the old tycoon big business banker Potter did the opposite by using the strong arm of the state to exploit the poor in order to invest in commercial taxpayers. George Baily believed in a middle class and the power of local economies. This drove Potter mad and he took revenge in putting Bailey in the clutches of the strong arm of the state to make an example of him to the people he took advantage of by making the poor pay for the inefficient excesses of the large economy of scale that Potter ran. In the movie, one saw what life would be in Bedford Falls versuses Pottersville. In Bedford Falls, human nature was good and people assisted each other to make a middle class community with good jobs and nice homes. In Pottersville, human nature was bad and people served the Potter business and political machine to make for an elite wealthy class with mostly disadvantaged citizens living in slums ran by the company town.

Mayor Jim Ruberto is like Potter. He doesn't believe in investing in the people of Pittsfield to make a solid middle class. He has worked with the elite top-down business and political machines to control the people instead of assist them. I am disgusted in Jim Ruberto because, above all else, he knows the difference. The contrasting messages from his 2003 campaign where he wanted to hold neighborhood meetings to hear from the people, invest in the public schools for Pittsfield to have the best educational achievement results in the commonwealth, to standing up to the political machines as he stated many times in support of the people he spoke to in asking for their votes, to the here and now are strong and reprehensible, where Ruberto has now and explicitly put commercial taxpayer's interest above those of the people or residential taxpayers, used such machine politicians as Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. to divest public taxpayer dollars from Pittsfield Public School Teachers and then remain silent as Massimiano is voted a 21%/$21,000 pay raise as Berkshire County Sheriff, to shutting the common people out of Pittsfield municipal government, and the list goes on and on. In essence, Mayor Jim Ruberto thinks he is CEO of GE with a large economy of scale where the middle class does not at all matter to the Wall Street and Beltway elites. Ruberto's philosophy is dead wrong for Pittsfield, which has a small economy of scale and needs to invest in its people in order to have a healthy middle class citizenry for optimal tax revenues and economic efficiency.

I am very disappointed in Mayor Jim Ruberto and I do, indeed, place his claims of integrity in strong question. I am just glad I don't live in Pittsfield anymore and don't have to be the George Baily poster boy to be made example of by the Potter machine that dominates the area.

Sincerely,

Jonathan A. Melle

Tuesday, October 03, 2006 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear Honorable Mayor Jim Ruberto:

You know the community you lead far better than I do. In my many years of my studies of public administration, which is what you, Mitt Romney and George Bush #2, among others, all currently do, the economic differences between Main Street (in this case: Pittsfield) and Wall Street (in these two cases: both the whole of the commonwealth and the nation; and as noted further on, GE and Jack Welch) is the economy of scale.

The reason why municipal governments like Pittsfield have two sets of tax rates: one set for residential property taxpayers and another set for commercial ones, is due to the unique economic nature of small business, local government or a small economy of scale. If one is an owner of a small business or a mayor of a city, the most valuable economic resource is not business, but the people. To illustrate this point, let us talk about the former CEO of GE Jack Welch, who was the corporate darling of Wall Street but the reviled corporate hatchet man of Main Street.

Living in and around the Pittsfield area for over 28 years of my life, I have heard countless locals sound off about how Jack Welch destroyed Pittsfield's local economy. But the question is: Why did Jack Welch sink Main Street (Pittsfield) but at the same time lift Wall Street (GE)? The answer is that for a CEO, Governor and/or U.S. President, the people are (in economics terminology) a LIABILITY.

A Jack Welch, a Bill Weld or Mitt Romney, and George Bush #2 all led or currently lead institutions with large economies of scale where business productivity and commercial tax revenues, not the people, produce the largest profits or surpluses. When things go bad for business for GE, the commonwealth and/or the nation's beltway, people are made to pay for the inefficient costs and wasteful excesses of big government or business.

To illustrate, (a) when GE had high labor and other associated business costs in Pittsfield, Jack Welch pulled GE out of the area, downsized operations, and then also relocated the more efficient operations to more economical regions of the nation and World, while the people of Pittsfield were then made to deal with the sad aftermath of lost jobs, wages and prosperity; (b) - (i) when the commonwealth had record state budget deficits, the respective Governors and Legislatures cut state aid to local governments by record numbers for three straight fiscal years from FY02 - FY04 and then the Massachusetts municipalities were economically forced to raise their property taxes by over 33% or more so that the state could finally balance its financial books; (ii) when the "Big Dig" had an over $2 Billion cost overrun in the Spring of 2000, the commonwealth's Golden Domers cut road and bridge funding to municipalities throughout the commonwealth to record low levels to make up the shortfall so that the state could then provide the U.S. Congress with phony but rosy balance sheets in their sorry and ineffective requests for more federal dollars for their Boston boondoggle; (c) when U.S. President George W. Bush #2 defends the never-ending war in Iraq with no clear objectives at a current nominal cost of over $2 Billion per week, as well as the U.S. Congress and current president spending federal dollars at record levels while cutting federal taxes three consecutive times in a row, among the many other federal government inefficient and wasteful excesses, our nation's national debt limit is now over $9 Trillion, which is a cost that the people will have to pay for over many years, decades and centuries, but, of course, the people won't benefit from the federal government's wasteful spending in what they will have to pay back to the federal government in any kind of equitable or fair manner.

For a small business owner or a community like Pittsfield to prosper, the investments must be made in the people they serve. If a small business owner doesn't have customers because he doesn't meet their specific demands, he will go out of business. If a city like Pittsfield doesn't provide investments in its public schools, open spaces, historic landmarks, roads, bridges and infrastructure, the residents will leave Pittsfield for another community. --PLEASE NOTE: THESE SAME SET OF ECONOMIC RULES DO NOT APPLY TO LARGE ECONOMIES OF SCALE such as the state government: Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the federal government: United States of America, and/or GE.

For a small economy of scale, Mayor Ruberto, the people are an asset, and this sets Main Street's economic outlook far apart from that of Wall Street's. What amazes me is that in your 2003 campaign for Mayor, your messages reinforced the investment in Main Street and you were going to put your energy and funding into better public schools, more effective public safety measures and a sharper focus on neighborhoods than your then opponent and predecessor: Mayor Sara Hathaway. While you spoke of assisting business, which has merits and value to a community, your focus was on the people you wanted to serve as Pittsfield's newest Mayor. I supported you then and I request that you go back in time three years and fulfill your campaign promises to make Pittsfield the city that both you and the many voters who stood by you all envisioned.

My very best regards,
Jonathan A. Melle
----------
"Ruberto, Jim"
jruberto at pittsfieldch dot com wrote:

Jonathan: I’m sorry that you are disappointed with my decision concerning the CPA. However, it is the correct decision. Business (which has been taxed at a disproportionately higher rate than residential over the past few years) simply cannot afford this additional tax. I believe this to be true. Jim

Thursday, October 05, 2006 1:35:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Pittsfield Cinema Center Financial Package Finalized

iBerkshires

- October 06, 2006

Pittsfield – Mayor James M. Ruberto released details of the financial package for the long-planned downtown cinema center on Oct. 5, representing a major milestone after several years of work by leaders in state and city government, business, and many others in the community.

The partnership includes a consortium of five local financial institutions, the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation (MHIC), the Berkshire Legislative Delegation, Downtown, Inc., developer Richard Stanley, and the City of Pittsfield. The package includes $2,000,000 in state funding, $900,000 in Historic Tax Credits, $4,700,000 in equity through the Federal New Market Tax Credit and Historic Tax Credits, and $4,000,000 in private funding, and $1 million from the City of Pittsfield.

The state of the art cinema complex, to be constructed in the historic Kinnell and Kresge buildings at 49-55 North St, will include six screens, including two stadium seating screens. The capacity of the theaters will range from 130 to 226 seats.

“This is the centerpiece of our downtown revitalization and will truly bring the masses back to North Street,” said Ruberto. “It will also serve as a platform for the city to further strengthen our urban neighborhoods.”

Ruberto will present a proposal to the City Council on Tuesday, October 10th, requesting $1 million in G.E. Economic Development funding to be allocated to project, which is essential for the completion of the cinema center complex. The million dollars represents a $500,000 required match to the Massachusetts Community Development Action Grant (CDAG) which was approved by the City Council on February 8, 2005; and an additional $500,000 to complete the funding required for the project.

“Downtown, Inc. has worked for ten years to locate a downtown cinema developer. We have learned that the large chains are not investing in these markets. Richard Stanley is the right partner for this project,” said Michael MacDonald, past president of Downtown, Inc. and member of the Downtown, Inc. Development Committee. “Mr. Stanley could have developed this project outside the downtown for less money and a greater personal return. With the public support of the city and Berkshire legislative delegation, we can bring this project downtown.”

The group of local financial institutions partnering in the financial package, making the project possible, includes Berkshire Bank, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Legacy Banks, Pittsfield Cooperative Bank, and TD BankNorth.

Friday, October 06, 2006 1:24:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Valenti 'hiatus' raises suspicion of fans

Letters

Article Launched: 12/28/2006

Thursday, December 28, 2006

To the Editor of THE EAGLE:

I am writing in response to the front page article "Where has Valenti's voice gone?" I remember years ago when a similar "hiatus" occurred. It involved Eric Craig, another popular radio personality who was of, by and for the people. Is this history repeating itself?

Mr. Valenti's voice may be gone for now, but it will always echo in the hearts and minds of his enormous amount of friends and fans.

MELANIE S. BURNELL

Pittsfield, Dec. 23, 2006

-----

Valenti's departure costs city its voice

Letters

Article Launched: 12/26/2006

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

To the Editor of THE EAGLE:

Once again, the citizens of Pittsfield have been silenced. With the loss of the Dan Valenti show, on WBRK, the people of Pittsfield have lost the only forum which allowed them to speak, freely, on the issues. My only question is why? And why hasn't someone else taken over the show? Was Dan Valenti pressured into leaving, or was WBRK pressured?

Without the Dan Valenti show, the people of Pittsfield would never have won the battle against the civic authority. Without the Dan Valenti show, the people of Pittsfield would never have defeated the Community Preservation Act. Without the Dan Valenti show, the people of Pittsfield would never have known about the questionable activities of the Ruberto administration, regarding the endorsements issued in his office, and the funds, illegally expended, for the Patrick rally.

Pittsfield needs another forum. Without it, we are doomed. The Berkshire Eagle is always a day late, and a dollar short, when it comes to reporting about the City Council activities. And if you write a letter to the editor, they will, most assuredly, edit it, if it fails to comport with their ideology.

WBRK, as the only independent media source in Berkshire County (save the Pittsfield Gazette) will recognize the needs of the listeners, and continue to provide a forum for those who patronize their sponsors.

Please do not abandon us. We need you, and our First Amendment rights!

"Vox Populus"

G. R. NOTO

Pittsfield, Dec. 14, 2006

Thursday, December 28, 2006 1:39:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

12/28/2006

Re: Open letter to Pittsfield Mayor Jim Ruberto

Dear Honorable Mayor Jim Ruberto:

Re: "Valenti's departure costs city its voice" (The Berkshire Eagle, Letters to the Editor, Authored by Guy Noto, published on 12/26/2006): Mr. Noto states, "Without the Dan Valenti show, the people of Pittsfield would never have known about the questionable activities of the Ruberto administration, regarding the endorsements issued in his office, and the funds, illegally expended, for the Patrick rally."

Pittsfield is not a business! Pittsfield is a community! You have demonstrably FAILED as Mayor of Pittsfield because you have distinguished yourself as an INSIDER to only the corrupt machine politicians and elitist wealthy businessmen. I am disappointed in you because you both knew the difference and spoke the difference prior to your usurpation of the "throne."

I cannot write to you anymore. Like Alan Chartock -- another power brokering insider in sheep's clothing -- you did not return my Christmas/Holiday wishes to you and your wife this year. If I was a powerful Pol and/or wealthy businessman, like the wealthy GOLD-DIGGER but racist and violent, Jew-bashing, neo-Nazi named Denis E. Guyer, you would be kissing my behind, not ignoring me. THAT IS NOT LEADERSHIP, Mr. Ruberto, but a sycophanitic business and political methodology for gratutitous self-interest.

You are the BANALITY of political power brokering and nothing more than a pawn in a corrupt, incestuously machine-driven political chess game.

You did not even have the decency to return my letter asking you to be kind to Larry Caprari when he retires in early-January, 2007. You are an ASSHOLE for threatening not to re-appoint him after he helped me and so many other local Veterans. You probably even asked Mr. Caprari not to write to the VA a letter in support of my case. You probably would be happy to see me as a homeless disabled Veteran. Moreover, you only want to fill posts with patronage appointments to make yourself look good. Mr. Caprari's replacement will be more about you than the city's Veterans! That is terrible.

YOU, CARMEN MASSIMIANO, ANDREA NUCIFORO, DENIS GUYER, et al, may have been able to silence many outsiders -- most recently, Dan Valenti -- BUT YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO SILENCE ME. I will always speak my good conscience as long as I live.

I care!

I care about the many thousands of PCB CANCER VICTIMS that Pittsfield and GE has created over the past 6+ decades. I care that you will do nothing to help the local residents by ignoring the scientific facts and reported outcomes on the matter. I care about North Street's perverse incentives for the city government's vested interests a.k.a. fiscal coffers. I care that you are complicit with the Good Old Boys' "vested & self-serving interests" to keep the masses exploited by this banality of social injustice -- as reported in the news media over the years -- called North Street. I care that Nuciforo has time and time again screwed Pittsfield and other Berkshire County political entities on Beacon Hill. I care that you bow down to the political machine and allow Nuciforo to take credit for any progress made in Pittsfield. I care that Peter J. Larkin is still meddling in Pittsfield Politics. I care that you attended his Democratic Party city gathering(s) despite Larkin leaving Pittsfield without a state Representative for several months in early-2005 and then anointing your political patronage hack Speranzo as the insider to usurp his "elected" position. I care that you have been complicit with all of this INSIDER bullshit that keeps Pittsfield sucking so much ass!

You can try to silence me, Jim Ruberto, Carmen Massimiano, et al, but I will put you all behind bars and then sue you because I believe in the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment: FREEDOM OF SPEECH! You may have been able to silence DAN VALENTI, but you will always hear from JONATHAN ALAN MELLE!

I will always stand up to Pittsfield's INSIDER Pols. I once thought I could be respected in Pittsfield, but I now know that I am another enemy to be silenced because I, like Dan Valenti, exposed the "vested and self-interests" of a city doomed
to social problems, poverty, high teen pregnancy rates, PCB pollution and cancer victims, and the like. PITTSFIELD and RUBERTO, et al, do NOT fool me anymore.

Please do not run for re-election in 2007. Give the government back to the people of Pittsfield, Massachusetts!

In opposition and dissent,

JONATHAN A. MELLE

P.S. As you were part of the conspiracy to silence Dan Valenti's voice, I now believe in the conspiracy of you bankrupting a Texas corporation, then leaving the state after taking the company's loot with your wife Ellen to live in your mother's Pittsfield home on Spadina Parkway, then throwing your mother in a nursing home under the pretenses of Almheizer's Disease, but really getting her out of the way so you could run for Mayor. You are a dispicable human being! Good Riddance!
-----
NOTE: I wish CLIFF NILAN would stop calling my dad! Cliff Nilan is part of the Good Old Boys' network that tried to send me to Carmen Massimiano's JAIL in the Spring of 1998. I don't trust him because he is one of Carmen Massimiano's best friends. I hope my dad does NOT betray me to Cliff Nilan's insidious network. If I am to be made a victim of Pittsfield Politics, I swear that I will put all of you sons' of bitches/politicians behind bars, not the other way around!

Thursday, December 28, 2006 3:38:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Patrick's city visit is tailored to the elite

Letters

Article Launched: 12/31/2006

Saturday, December 30, 2006

To the Editor of THE EAGLE:

Pittsfield's plans for our new Governor Patrick's inaugural visit on Jan. 6 are grossly inappropriate. How could the campaign's coordinating committee turn this long-awaited Berkshire celebration into a grubby commercial exhibition? (Eagle, Dec. 23).

Further, it is insulting to impose a $20 admission fee that most county residents can ill afford for an event that has been promoted as "all-inclusive." Sounds to me that this "event" is being orchestrated for the favorite few.

JOY M. BROWN

Otis, Dec. 27, 2006

The writer is chair of the Otis Town Democratic Committee.

Monday, January 01, 2007 9:43:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Thursday, 4 Jan 2007

Jonathan:

I read your letter and have re-read it every day since. My goal was to understand why you would level such a verbal assault upon me. We have often disagreed in the past, but kept our disagreements focused on the issues at hand. Your most recent email went well beyond what had been accepted practice.

I will try to respond to those comments which I can seriously deal with. (1) Your comments about my treatment of Mr. Caprari are incorrect. He retired, period. He was not pushed nor threatened. Ask Mr. Caprari. (2) Your belief that I did not support your request for an appeal is also incorrect. Again, ask Mr. Caprari. (3) Your criticism of my handling of the PCB site is again incorrect. I immediately went to work with the medical doctors and had the school tested through procedures they agreed to and – in some cases – recommended. (4) Your fascination tying me into an old both net work is unfortunate. But I will continue to follow my conscience. (5) Your claim that in some way I am responsible for silencing Dan Valenti is laughable. Even the Gazette says that no such conspiracy exists.

Had you stopped there, I would have accepted but disagreed with all your acquisitions. However, your claim about the way I treat my mother went too far. It was vicious, nasty, and hateful. Not only is it untrue, but it also suggests that you have no regard for the personal feelings I have for a mother who is stricken with one of the most demeaning diseases on earth. I need not profess my love of her to you nor will I.

And so, Jonathan, I ask one thing. Have your father (whom I greatly respect) read your letter to me. See what he has to say about it. Then learn one lesson of life that is so important: treat people as you would want to be treated. Good bye, Jonathan. There is no need to apologize nor is there a need to keep me on your distribution list. We have nothing more to discuss.

Jim
---
(Mayor Ruberto)

Friday, January 05, 2007 6:20:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear News Media, Pols, & People:

Briefly, Mayor Jim Ruberto is mean-spirited and cruel because his hidden messages (letter below) are against all of my interests!

What Ruberto means:

(a) Verbal Assaults. Ruberto is referring to the criminal behavior of the Becket man who threatened to assault me because I was friends with his daughter, who was a victim of this man's abuse.

(b) Larry Caprari. Mr. Caprari told me that Mayor Ruberto told him he would not be re-appointing him and that retirement was his only way because of the Mayor's decision. Again, he uses the word "threatened" -- referring to the criminal behavior of the Becket man who threatened to assault me.

(c) My Veterans case. I asked Ruberto and Caprari to write to the VA on my behalf. Neither did so. Probably because Ruberto did not want to assist me.

(d) PCBs. For 6 decades, people in Pittsfield have been victims of PCB pollution and cancer. Nothing has changed under Ruberto's tenure!

(e) The Good Old Boy Network. Despite demonstrable evidence to the contrary, Ruberto still denies being tied to these power brokers.

(f) Valenti. Dan Valenti dissented against Ruberto...and now he is off the air. hmmm.

(g) Edith Ruberto. The Mayor's mother was forced into a nursing home by her son after he fled Texas when he bankrupted a plastics company there and then usurped her home -- never having to pay a mortgage and the like. hmmm.

(h) Bob Melle. My dad! Ruberto is referring to the sentiments of some of my dad's Pittsfield friends who have tried to Jail me in the Spring of 1998. I hope my dad stays loyal to me.

In truth,

Jonathan A. Melle

Saturday, January 06, 2007 1:37:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear Berkshire Bloggers,News Media, Politicians, People:

Too bad for Pittsfield that GE is reportedly seeking the sale of its plastics unit. (Article Below). Hopefully, the new buyer will keep its plastics business in Pittsfield. If not, they should go to the current Mayor of Pittsfield for advice on how to (a) bankrupt a plastics company, (b) then get a cut of the plastic company's loot, (c) then flee the commonwealth for a far away state, (d) then move into their widowed mother's home, (e) then put their elderly mother in a nursing home in order to usurp her home without ever owing a mortgage and/or liabilities for their mother's nursing home care, and (f) then spend his cut of the company's loot on a political career where common citizens are all first lied to and then ultimately shut out of their local government by strong-armed, political machine and Good Old Boy Network dirty business tactics. If the plastics company exectives ultimately leave Pittsfield for another far away state, then the executives may profit by following the actions of James M. Ruberto. So a few common people will be screwed in the process, but at least the plastic company executives will make out ahead of the game. After all, that is all that matters in the plastic's world of life.

...You are now entering the Twilight Zone's perverse dimension known to a select few as "Pittsfield Politics"! ...Good Luck! Don't be intimidated by opportunistic plastic executives, but don't be fooled (or screwed) by them either.

-Jonathan A. Melle
----------
GE reportedly seeks sale of plastics unit

Competition concerns may put limits on bidders

By Associated Press | January 9, 2007

FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- General Electric Co. is seeking bids on its $10 billion plastics business, which has been hit hard by inflation in raw materials, The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.

GE has told several private equity firms contacted about the possible sale that they could be restricted in joining other private equity bidders, the newspaper reported on its website, citing unidentified sources.

A GE spokesman would not comment.

The possible restrictions on bidders reflect concerns by the Department of Justice about a lack of competition among possible private equity buyers, the newspaper reported.

In October, the Justice Department began an antitrust probe of private equity funds, looking particularly at equity firms that team up, prompting fears among some sellers that the number of bidders and size of the bids would be limited.

GE chief executive Jeff Immelt, in a conference call with analysts in October, called GE's plastics segment "the business we really need to remain focused on."

He said higher-than-expected commodities prices pushed down margins.

The plastics unit has current estimated revenue of $7 billion. Its value is estimated at between $8 billion and $10 billion. In the first nine months of 2006, its revenue rose 1 percent, to $5 billion, but operating profit fell 13 percent, to $560 million.

GE has been shifting from commodity products such as plastic used in compact discs into higher-priced specialty materials used in autos, aviation, and healthcare. GE has developed lightweight materials including resins for car roofs, fenders, and steering wheels.

GE also said it would buy the oil services company Vetco Gray from a group of private equity funds in a $1.9 billion deal in a bid to tap into the growing global demand for energy. GE expects demand for energy to increase by another 50 percent by 2025.

Vetco Gray provides drilling and production equipment for oil and gas fields. Its owners include private equity funds Candover Partners Ltd., 3i Group PLC, and JP Morgan Partners LLC.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007 3:18:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Don't sell out by selling naming rights

Letters

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

To the Editor of THE EAGLE:

That's so great that we're thinking of selling naming rights to the Colonial Theatre and Wahconah Park. It's nice to know that even here in rock-ribbed New England we're not revolted by the idea of being total sell-outs.

ALAN CLARK

Housatonic, Jan. 6, 2007

Tuesday, January 09, 2007 3:31:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Local officials meet reports with caution

By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff

The Berkshire Eagle

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

PITTSFIELD — City and state officials reacted cautiously yesterday on word that General Electric is seeking bids on its $10 billion plastics business.

Meanwhile, local business officials spent time trying to ascertain how such a move could affect Pittsfield, according to Patricia "Pam" Malumphy, the regional director of the Massachusetts Office of Business Development and a former Pittsfield city councilor.

Pittsfield is the world headquarters of GE Plastics and the home of its research and development operation.

GE officials declined to confirm or deny reports of the auction published yesterday in the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. That was in contrast to the company's public posture last fall, when it strongly denied similar reports.

As a result, local officials had little solid information to rely on.

"We'll have to wait and see how it develops," Malumphy said. "We're kind of in a 'wait mode' right now."

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Mayor James M. Ruberto, who spent 24 years as an executive in the plastics industry, declined to comment on the published reports.

"Having lived through that in my life in the industry, I understand that it is rumors and speculation," Ruberto said. "Rumors get out there and they become exaggerated and they find their way into the mainstream media."

"I spoke with General Electric (yesterday) and they're not commenting on the issue," Ruberto added. "This is only a rumor. And until we hear otherwise, we will be treating it as only a rumor."
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Yesterday afternoon, state Rep. Christopher N. Speranzo, D-Pittsfield, and state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, declined to comment on the situation. Each said they were following the news reports and had made phone calls in an attempt to find out more about the situation.

According to the Wall Street Journal, GE is seeking bids on its plastics business because the company has been hit hard by inflation in raw materials. In the first nine months of 2006, GE's revenue from its plastic business rose 1 percent, to $5 billion, but operating profit fell 13 percent, to $560 million, according to The Associated Press.

Richard Rilla, president of the Berkshire Plastics Network, which represents the county's 26 plastics firms, said the entire industry has been impacted by the rise in costs of raw materials, particularly fluctuating oil prices. Rilla said that if GE decides to sell its plastic business, the impact on local companies would be minimal.

Berkshire County plastic firms employ 2,500 people and manufacture $200 million worth of product with 60 percent being sold overseas, according to figures compiled last year by the Plastics Network.

Thomas E. Hickey Jr., the executive director of the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority, said that if GE does decide to sell its plastics business, the impact on Pittsfield would be more severe if the business was moved. GE currently employees about 450 people in Pittsfield.

"We still have a lot of folks over there who do well by this community," he said. "We'll have to hold our breath again and see what happens."

Hickey was employed by GE when part of the operation was sold to defense contractor Martin Marietta. He said the Pittsfield employees were shocked when Jack Welch, then the chairman of GE, announced the sale, but that the transition between companies went smoothly.

"(Welch) assured us it would be a smooth transition, and it was," Hickey said. "The benefits stayed the same."

City Council President Gerald M. Lee said the prospect of losing GE Plastics' local employees is "troubling." On the other hand, he said, it is conceivable that the Pittsfield operations would remain, since they largely consist of research and development, not manufacturing.

---------------

Reports hint at GE auction

Plastics for sale?
Company mum on bid talk

By Scott Stafford, Berkshire Eagle Staff

The Berkshire Eagle

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

PITTSFIELD — GE Plastics, which employs about 450 people at its worldwide headquarters on Plastics Avenue, is reportedly up for sale at auction.

In recent months, the General Electric division — valued at between $8 billion and $10 billion — has been financially hit by the rising cost of raw materials, increased competition and a slide in the automobile industry, a large customer.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., a Wall Street investment bank, has been authorized to contact private equity firms and companies interested in bidding on GE's weak-performing plastics division, which still generates about $6.6 billion annually, according to reports yesterday in the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

In September, GE Plastics CEO Charlene Begley flatly rejected a sale report in the Wall Street Journal. No such denial was forthcoming yesterday.

"We're not going to confirm or deny any reports in the media," said Christopher Tessier, spokesman for GE Plastics. A spokesman at GE's corporate headquarters in Fairfield, Conn., declined comment, as did a Goldman Sachs official.

The news immediately sparked concern among Berkshire County's business community. Local officials, including Tyler Fairbank, president of the Berkshire Economic Development Corporation, convened an afternoon meeting to discuss the reports and find ways to be proactive about a potential sale. No GE officials were at the meeting.

Afterward, Fairbank pointed to a range of possible outcomes — from "new investment in the local facilities to a reduction of the local operation" — if the GE division was sold.

"At this point, it's so speculative," said Fairbank. "But in case something does pop on this, we are going to find ways to turn it into an opportunity."

In the first nine months of 2006, GE's revenue from its plastic business rose 1 percent, to $5 billion, but operating profit fell 13 percent, to $560 million, according to The Associated Press. GE Plastics contributes 8 percent of the company's revenue and 5 percent of its profit, according to the Times.

Industry insiders say that GE Plastics is facing three strategic challenges:


The cost of the raw material to produce its plastics has been rising at an unpredictable rate, resulting in production pressure to raise prices to the end user. For instance, the cost of benzene, a chemical used in plastics production, increased 13 percent last year.

Competitors worldwide have been increasing their production capacity, which puts more product in the marketplace, resulting in market pressure for lower prices.

The downturn in the automobile industry, a big component of GE Plastic's marketplace, has resulted in shrinking demand for its product — another competitive pressure to reduce prices.

Mel Schlechter, a plastics industry analyst and consultant based on Long Island, N.Y., noted that domestic plastics companies like Dow Chemical and Bayer MaterialScience would probably not be players in the auction for fear of violating antitrust laws.
That leaves private equity firms as the likely bidders. They specialize in buying companies — or parts of them — using money borrowed from pension funds, endowments or plastic concerns based in other countries.

Private equity firms, according to Schlechter, would probably not tinker with the GE Plastics unit; instead, they would want the company to continue generating product and revenues. After evaluating the operation, changes would be designed to increase profitability and would likely come after one or two years and in phases.

An international plastics company, however, might want to eliminate duplicate operations, he said.

Overall, Schlechter expressed surprise at the apparent willingness of GE to shed its plastics division.

"They are a global leader, prices of the raw materials are starting to go back down, and the electronics market is expanding for their product," he said. "So I don't know why they would want to sell it. It's a huge market and to give that up doesn't make any sense. But they don't have to sell the whole unit, they could sell it off in pieces."

In the meantime, Fairbank urged the business community to remain calm.

After yesterday's meeting, he said officials will gather "as much information (about the prospect of a GE plastics sale) as we can."

In terms of the opportunity a sale would present, Fairbank said, "It appears it could be a private equity operation (that purchases the company), which could have potential for the region."

The 450 jobs at GE Plastics are "high-quality employment that this region needs — professional, executive-level employment," he said. "I believe they have a strong research and development component there as well."

GE Plastics in Pittsfield includes the world headquarters facility and the research and development operation they refer to as the Polymer Processing Development Center, the large building overlooking East Street with the moniker GE Advanced Materials on the side.

GE Plastics also has production facilities in Selkirk, N.Y.; Ottawa, Alberta, Canada; Burkville, Ala.; Mount Vernon, Ind.; and plants in Spain, Holland and China. GE Plastics employs about 300,000 people worldwide.

» GE through the years

1903 — General Electric buys the William Stanley transformer plants in Pittsfield.
1912 — Charles P. Steinmetz, GE mathematician and electrical theorist, urges the company to invest in "artificial resins," laying the groundwork for plastics business.
1931 — GE Plastics is given "department" status within the company.
1954 — GE closes its plastic molding operations in Pittsfield, choosing to concentrate on development of plastic materials instead of fabrication.
1955 — Daniel W. Fox invents Lexan, the first engineered plastic. Strong and durable enough to replace metal, it becomes the core of GE's plastics business.
1960s — Fox hires John F. Welch Jr. who works in — and eventually heads — the plastics department.
1973 — Plastics grows from a department to a division within GE. It has roughly 600 employees, a small piece of GE's roughly 10,000 Pittsfield workers.
1981 — Welch is named president and CEO of GE.
1986 — GE announces it is shutting most of its transformer plant. This hastens the decline of GE jobs in Pittsfield from roughly 7,000 to 3,600 over the next five years.
1988 — Arguably the height of GE Plastics, the division nears $5 billion in revenues, capping three straight years of record-setting profits.
1989 — Fox, inventor of Lexan and holder of more than 40 patents, dies at age 65.
1992 — GE sells its aerospace division to Martin Marietta, l eaving GE Plastics, with 530 employees, its only Pittsfield business.
2001 — Welch retires as president and CEO of GE. Jeff Immelt takes over.
2005 — Charlene Begley named president and CEO of GE Plastics.
2007 — GE reported to be seeking bids for its Plastics division.

Source: Eagle research

Wednesday, January 10, 2007 9:19:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Burden put on a few to save taxes for many

Letters

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

To the Editor of THE EAGLE:

I would like to applaud Mayor Ruberto on the fine job he is doing with the revitalization of North Street. Obviously, he's not doing it all by himself, but his leadership appears to be making the difference. I look forward to the day when North Street is as vital as the main street in Northampton.

However, I have a question. How is it acceptable to implement a plan that taxes one small segment of Pittsfield's population in order not to increase the property taxes of the entire city? According to the Oct. 11 Eagle, "the fee was needed, supporters say, because of an impending deficit brought about by the council's slashing of $250,000 from waste collection with it passed the city budget in June. That move was made to avoid an increase in property taxes."

So in order not to increase property taxes, the mayor and the City Council decided to shift the burden to landlords who own property with four or more units. What was the council thinking when it cut the waste collection budget?

I own two units in Pittsfield with four apartments. Renting in Pittsfield is already fairly expensive, and thanks to the mayor and the council, it will get more expensive.

PHILIP O'ROURKE

Pittsfield, Jan. 5, 2007

Wednesday, January 10, 2007 9:22:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...

NEWS ARTICLE:

State closes book on compliance

By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff

The Berkshire Eagle

Saturday, February 24, 2007

PITTSFIELD — Mayor James M. Ruberto said yesterday that because his office failed to comply with a campaign finance law last fall, the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance has provided him with guidelines to ensure that the situation does not happen again.

In a two-page letter to Ruberto, OCPR's director, Michael J. Sullivan, states that public resources were used by the mayor's office to endorse Benjamin B. Downing, then a candidate for state Senate. The endorsement held in Ruberto's office on Oct. 31, 2006, "did not comply with the campaign finance law."

The letter lists the time that Ruberto's aide, John Krol, spent arranging the press conference, the use of a city fax machine and telephone to promote Downing's endorsement, and the use of Ruberto's office as acts that were not in compliance with the law.

The Office of Campaign and Political Finance took no punitive action against Ruberto.

"Because we believe that the guidance in this letter will ensure further compliance, this office considers this matter closed," Sullivan's letter states.

"The Election Commission is saying that they believed the guidance provided in this letter will result in future compliance," Ruberto said yesterday during an interview in his office. "And that's what they're treating this as. They're advising me that an action was inappropriate. And at the same time, they're saying that, with their guidance, they consider the matter closed. And I do, too. I appreciate their help in clarifying the question."

Ruberto said that he was unaware in October that any of his actions involved in his endorsement of Downing were not compliant with state campaign finance laws.

"We had endorsed Deval Patrick in this office," Ruberto said. "And my assistant, John Krol, had contacted the election office. The issue here is not so much being in this office. If we had not issued the press advisory from this office, the issue would have been addressed differently." A press advisory alerts media to an event.

"The modest error was made in good faith and in what I thought was in the best interests of Pittsfield," the mayor said.

Denis Kennedy, a spokesman for the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance, said the law that prohibits the use of public resources in campaigns can be vague.

"It's OK for a mayor to endorse a candidate," Kennedy said. "It gets a little trickier when city staff is involved in an event at City Hall that is used for a political purpose."

Although no punitive action was taken against the city, Kennedy said the actions cited in the letter "were inconsistent with the law."

"It's being closed because we're pretty confident that steps will be taken in the future" to prevent the same actions from happening again, he said.

Other actions examined

The letter further states that, if public funds or resources are used to influence an election in a manner that is not consistent with case law in the future, the person authorizing the expenditure would be required to pay restitution.

A serious violation of the campaign finance law would lead the Office of Campaign and Political Finance to forward the allegations to the state attorney general's office, Kennedy said.

The office also examined the city's role in holding a rally for then Democratic gubernatorial candidate Patrick at Pittsfield High School the day after the Downing endorsement took place. Citing case law, the letter states that school grounds can be used as the site for a political rally as long as equal access to any candidate is provided.

Because students are not considered to be public resources within the context of the campaign finance law, the decision by school administrators to encourage their attendance at the rally during the school day at such an event on school grounds is considered to be a question of education judgment and outside the scope of case law, the letter states.

Saturday, February 24, 2007 6:53:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Re: Open letter to Patrick FENNELL: Mayor Jimmy Ruberto sucks ASS!

2/27/2007

Dear Patrick Fennell, Berkshire Bloggers, the News Media, Pols, & the People:

The following is Pittsfield Mayor Jim Ruberto's very dysfunctional and poor public record. He ran for Mayor of Pittsfield in 2001 after the Gerry Doyle debacle of a bankrupted city government. Ruberto is beaten by Luciforo's then-minion/puppet, Sara Hathaway. From 2001 to 2003, Jim Ruberto plots for the Mayor's seat by pretending to be a grassroots candidate. From what I have heard, somewhere during these 2 years of sour grapes, Ruberto, who (with his wife Ellen) moved into his elderly mother's Pittsfield home after bankrupting a Texas plastics company -- as one of its corporate executives -- named Rexene and taking his cut of the corporate loot, Jim Ruberto then placed his mother Edith Ruberto into a nursing home under the pretenses of Alzheimer's Disease. By doing so, Ruberto now had the security of living in his mother's home plus the cut of the loot he took from the bankrupted Texas plastics company. Ruberto made sizable donations to the Colonial Theater, including one for $25,000. In short, Ruberto bought Pittsfield Politics by design, including screwing investors in Texas and his mother in Pittsfield, Massachusetts!

In 2003, Jim Ruberto put on a "grassroots" Pittsfield campaign whereby he promised the best public schools in the commonwealth, among other common man causes. All of his promises over the next 4 years went undone.

Here are but some of the pathetic outcomes of the Ruberto Regime:

(a) The teen pregnancy rate in Pittsfield continually rose to higher numbers and now doubles the statewide average!

(b) The only thing in the Pittsfield economy that has grown has been the escalating WELFARE CASELOADS!

(c) Property Taxes continued to skyrocket under Mayor Ruberto!

(d) Pittsfield Public Schools have seen lower and lower standardized test scores, among other educational problematic issues. Instead of the public schools getting better, they have demonstrably gotten worse!

(e) Your -- Patrick Fennell's -- Letter in today's (2/27/2007) Eagle about Mayor Ruberto blatantly breaking state election laws!

(f) The "Good Old Boys Network" is in full bloom, not grassroots democracy!

(g) The spending of GE's economic development funds on the Colonial Theater and Spice Restaurant instead of industry's that would have created living wage jobs.

(h) PEDA being created in the Summmer of 1998 and almost 9 years later having not one private business tenant.

(i) PCB pollution being capped, not cleaned up. The PCB caps only last a maximum of 25 years, and then they will spread again all over Pittsfield and down south through Southern Berkshire County, Connecticut, and the Long Island Sound.

(j) The implementation of an inequitable garbage collection fee on working poor tenants and their landlords.

(k) The impending loss of GE Plastics, and Berkshire County being the number one region in the commonwealth for job losses.

(l) The proposed selling of the names of the Colonial Theater and Wahconah Park to private corporations.

(m) The forced retirement of Larry Caprari from the Veterans Office after many decades of quality service to the city's Veteran population because he wouldn't fudge quantitative numbers for Mayor Ruberto.

(n) Imposing a $20 admissions fee for Deval Patrick's Pittsfield Inauguration Ball. From 2003 grassroots candidate to 2007 elitist Mayor!

(o) The possible conspiratorial silencing of Dan Valenti after Valenti exposed Ruberto's violations of state election laws, which was the subject of you -- Patrick Fennell's -- letter.

(p) The costly financing of a Pittsfield Cinema Package when North Adams' financing made much more sense without the use of so many public taxpayers dollars.

(q) Opposing the Community Preservation Act to meet the tax needs of business over the residents.

(r) Proposals to raise health insurance premiums to early retirees, thereby taking away their incentive to retire early.

(s) Supporting D.A. Capless' persecution of 7 first time drug offenders in a Great Barrington drug bust, and supporting the fallacious argument that Pittsfield drug offenders are treated harshly so therefore Great Barrington drug offenders must be treated harshly too.

(t) Replacing a more qualified woman chair of the city's licensing board with "Good Old Boy" Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr.

...And the list goes on and on!

In Truth,

Jonathan A. Melle
------------------------------

Bay State politicians get too many breaks

Letters

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

To the Editor of THE EAGLE:

Has anyone looked to see how few last names there are in and around the Statehouse in Boston? Even in Berkshire County we elect one generation after another, again politicians with the same last names as the generation before and surely the next generation of candidates will get the same free ride to the riches and benefits of "Public Service," where a $179,000 a year in retirement money is not unheard of.

So it angers me and many other voters to see Mayor Ruberto get away with clear election violations! Not only is it unethical to use city and state paid for a fax machine, and telephone, but it a way of stealing from city taxpayers as well, paid time should be used for city services not taking care of yourselves.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is one of the most corrupt states in the union, where it isn't "what you know," but "who you know," and "what have you done for me lately?" Where the likes of William Bulger walk away with a huge pension in spite of his evil past actions. It is where an underhanded deed like Mayor Ruberto did, is rewarded with a bigger no lifting, high paying state position.

With the luxury-loving Governor Patrick in office, these practices won't end anytime soon or if at all.

So shame on the State Office of Campaign and Finance for giving another politician a break. I wonder who they are related to in the Statehouse.

PATRICK FENNELL

Great Barrington, Feb. 25, 2007

Tuesday, February 27, 2007 1:33:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

'Stories' in the numbers
Officials seek solutions to graduation-rate slump
By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff
The Berkshire Eagle

Friday, March 02, 2007

PITTSFIELD — The School Committee is concerned by Pittsfield's low high school graduation rates, and Mayor James M. Ruberto says the board needs help from the entire community to find solutions to this issue.

"I really think that this information, though disheartening, is important for us to be discussing," Ruberto told the committee. "All the principals need to help us make better decisions and educate us on what we're not doing. For Pittsfield to be the community we want it to be, we need it to be integrated and educated. This information doesn't suggest that it will be."

Pittsfield's high school graduation rates do not paint a pretty picture, no matter what method is used to assess them. Information on 2006 high school graduation rates, released by the state Department of Education on Feb. 1, showed that Pittsfield graduated only 67.6 percent of its students who entered high school in the fall of 2002.

Those figures, known as the unadjusted graduation rate, account for all students who began ninth grade during the 2002-03 academic year, but subtracts pupils who transferred to another school district.

According to those figures, Pittsfield is ranked in the bottom 11 percent statewide, ranking 29th from the bottom of the state's 279 school districts.

The city's adjusted graduation rate, which includes all students who enrolled in Pittsfield high schools as ninth-graders and spent four years there, rises to 72.6 percent, according to the DOE's statistics.

But the adjusted rate leaves Pittsfield in the bottom 6 percent statewide, 15th from the bottom among the state's 279 school districts. Students who later transferred out to other schools or who transferred in to Pittsfield's high schools after Oct. 1, 2002, are not included in the adjusted rate.

"It's very frustrating," School Committee Chairwoman Kathleen A. Amuso said yesterday. "I think for some kids it's easier to quit than work on their issues. We have to put a plan into place because sometimes I think that (school) is overwhelming to a young kid and they see quitting as a short-term answer."

"There are so many stories behind the numbers," Pittsfield High School Principal Howard J. Eberwein III told the School Committee.

'Aggressive' requirements

He said several students who drop out of school do well on the MCAS tests but struggle with completing the course work needed to graduate.

In order to graduate from high school, Pittsfield students are required to earn 260 academic credits, which include four years of English and three years of science, including chemistry, biology and physics, he said.

"We have, in my estimation, one of the most aggressive graduation requirements of any of the high schools in Western Massachusetts," Eberwein said. "It's a tough haul."

In a telephone interview yesterday, Superintendent of Schools Katherine E. Darlington said she would not be in favor of lowering Pittsfield's high school graduation requirements.

"I think we need to be real careful with that," she said. "We always want to focus on getting our kids ready for college. We don't want to go in a different direction so that when our kids go to college they're not ready. We have a good college admission rate at this point. What we need to look at is more of a safety net."

Taconic High School Principal Douglas McNally said yesterday the problems occur because the biggest number of youngsters drop out of school in the ninth grade, which, he said, is "a large reversal from 20 years ago."

"We have to make sure that the kids who come to high school have the academic skills to succeed in high school," McNally said. "They walk into high school with a second-grade reading level, and we hand them a textbook."

McNally said the School Department needs to work on encouraging students and mentoring them. He said Taconic's academy program, which allows students to embark on a career path while they're still in high school, has had no dropouts in seven years.

"Kids who drop out don't connect to high school," McNally said.

Under the adjusted figures, Pittsfield High School's graduation rate increases from 63.2 to 70.5 percent, while Taconic High School's rate rises from 76.5 percent to 82.2 percent. The adjusted graduation rates for the entire school district and both high schools are higher than the U.S. rate of 70 percent, while Taconic's is above the state rate of 79.9 percent.

With the unadjusted data, both high schools and the entire school district are below the state graduation rate, while the school district is slightly higher than the U.S. graduation rate.

The city's total unadjusted rate is only 5 percent higher than the 62.3 percent graduation rate for the state's 22 urban school districts, of which Pittsfield is a member.

"It's what it is," Darlington said, referring to the city's graduation rate as a whole. "I'm a little bit encouraged by how our numbers stack up against the other urban districts."

On Wednesday night, Darlington said: "The key to this is we need to work on retaining the students but we need to work on retaining students by (keeping the same group together that enters school in the ninth grade) over time."

Although the graduation rate for Asian students is 100 percent — all seven students in that category graduated — it is much lower for African American and Hispanic students, whose 2006 graduation rates were 46.5 and 40 percent, respectively.

"Atrocious — not bad, atrocious," Ruberto told the School Committee.

Ruberto told Eberwein and his colleagues in the School Department to give the School Committee what it needs to level "the playing field" when it comes to graduation rates because based on the data supplied for student subgroups the field is "not level."

Truancy program pilot

The School Committee on Wednesday night also approved a pilot truancy program at the Juvenile Resource Center to re-engage 16 students, eight each from Pittsfield High and Taconic, who have been chronically truant, are failing academically, and are on the verge of dropping out of school.




» Graduation rates

The Pittsfield school district's high schools have a low four-year graduation rate when compared to districts across the state.

The state calculates the numbers two ways:

The unadjusted graduation rate accounts for all students who began 9th grade in the 2002-2003 school year, but subtracts those who transferred to another district. This method is used for most state data.

The adjusted graduation rate accounts for only those students who enrolled in Pittsfield's high schools as ninth-graders in September 2002 and spent all four years there. Students who later transferred out to other schools or who transferred in to Pittsfield after Oct. 1 are not included.

Unadjusted Graduation Rate:


Number of students: 527
Percent graduated in 4 years: 67.6
Percent dropped out: 24.1
Percent didn't graduate and still in school: 7.4
Percent didn't graduate who completed school: 0.4
Percent who obtained GED: 0.4

Pittsfield is in the bottom 11 percent statewide, ranking 29th from the bottom out of 279 school districts.
Adjusted Graduation Rate:


Number of students: 436
Percent graduated in 4 years: 72.9
Percent dropped out: 20
Percent didn't graduate and still in school: 7.1
Percent didn't graduate who completed school: 0
Percent who obtained GED: 0

Pittsfield's adjusted rate is in the bottom 6 percent statewide, ranking 15th from the bottom out of 279 school district.
Source: Massachusetts Department of Education

Friday, March 02, 2007 4:47:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

State says Ruberto broke law

Campaign law violation: Ruberto misuses taxpayer resources

22.FEB.07

Mayor James Ruberto violated state laws by using taxpayer-funded resources to promote political candidates.

The state’s office of campaign and political finance formally informed Ruberto of this determination in a letter dated February 13.

Michael J. Sullivan, director of the campaign finance office, wrote that Ruberto’s activities “did not comply with the campaign finance law.”

Sullivan specifically cited a City Hall press conference during which Ruberto announced his support of state senate candidate Ben Downing. Sullivan wrote that “the time spent by your aide to arrange for the conference, as well as the use of the City fax and phone for purposes of promoting the endorsement, and the use of your office for the endorsement, did not comply with the campaign finance law.”

Ruberto declined multiple requests this week for comment regarding the state ruling.

In November – when the Gazette highlighted his use of taxpayer resources for political activity — Ruberto also declined to answer specific questions about why he felt his actions were legal and appropriate.

At that time, however, he did issue a written statement in which he stated: “I was elected to represent the best interests of the City of Pittsfield. Throughout my term as mayor, I have endorsed candidates who I thought would help move Pittsfield forward... Pittsfield continues to have friends in important offices and I’m grateful for that.”

In addition to the heavily promoted Downing press conference in the mayor’s office, Ruberto has acknowledged using public resources to promote the candidacies of Governor Deval Patrick and secretary of state William Galvin.

The mayor’s office also played a role in a controversial November Democratic Party rally held at Pittsfield High School that promoted the candidacies of Downing, Patrick and U.S. Representative John Olver.

The state campaign finance office, however, decided not to pursue that issue, determining that as long as the school department provided “equal access” to other candidates, the issue does not create a campaign finance issue. Ruberto told the campaign office that his staff only “used personal time” in connection with the rally.

Separate from the finance office query, the state ethics commission is reviewing the rally as well as the illegal press conferences and other public resources questions. The ethics commission does not discuss its activities.

The Gazette’s November coverage prompted several citizens to file complaints about Ruberto’s actions with the campaign finance office and the ethics commission.

Denis Kennedy, spokesperson for the campaign finance office, said that the ruling reflects the use of public resources, not the mayor’s personal endorsements.

“We’ve made it clear that it’s completely O.K. for elected officials to endorse candidates, they have the right to free speech like everyone else,” said Kennedy. “But when endorsements are coupled with a quantifiable use of resources that gets to be a problem.”

Kennedy said that an elected official can publicly show support for another politician’s candidacy, but can’t use “public resources” as part of that endorsement. The state definition of public resources includes staff time, buildings, equipment and governmental seals.

“If I use staff to schedule an event, for example, that is something to be avoided,” said Kennedy.

Ruberto’s endorsements have involved using taxpayer-funded resources such as his office at City Hall, equipment such as city phones, fax machines and computers and the time of public employees.

In his determination letter, Sullivan notes that state law specifically precludes publicly funded endorsements. “Although elected officials may endorse candidates and respond to questions from the media regarding which candidates they support, officials may not, consistent with ‘Anderson’ [a 1978 court case] use public resources to arrange a press conference for the purpose of supporting a candidate.”

While Ruberto faces no financial penalty from the campaign finance office at this time, Sullivan’s letter warns that future illegal acts will not be tolerated. Sullivan writes that “In the future, if public funds or resources are used to influence an election in a manner not consistent with Anderson, the person(s) who authorizes the use of the public funds or resources will be required to provide restitution.”

Former city councilor and county treasurer Peter Arlos, a state Democratic committeeman, said that Ruberto has repeatedly crossed the ethical line with misuse of public resources.

“He thinks he can do as he pleases and, unfortunately, he’s right,” said Arlos. “He does all this because he has the protection of the Eagle and no opposition.”

The former councilor said that elected officials need to “inspire public trust, not violate it.”

“Your job is to be the custodian of the public trust and not to think you’re above it and can do as you please,” said Arlos.

-----------

State cites Democratic activists for Patrick event

08.FEB.07

An October fundraising event in Pittsfield for the gubernatorial campaign of Deval Patrick violated state campaign finance laws precluding corporate support of candidates.

In an official letter this week, the director of the state campaign & political finance office ordered the sponsors of the event held at Interprint to retroactively pay the Pittsfield firm for use of its facilities.

The event was sponsored by the Berkshire Brigades, a political action committee that promotes Democratic candidates. Funds went directly to the “Patrick-Murray Victory Fund,” a state Democratic committee for gubernatorial candidate Patrick and lieutenant governor candidate Tim Murray.

The state office this week ordered the Berkshire Brigades or the Democratic State Committee “or a combination of both” to “promptly” pay Interprint for hosting the fundraiser.

In his letter to the Brigades, campaign finance director Michael J. Sullivan explains that “Corporations may not directly or indirectly give anything of value for the purpose of aiding or promoting a candidate’s nomination or election.”

Since the political action committee used the Interprint facilities for the fundraiser — and did not pay market value — the use of the factory could qualify as an illegal “in-kind” corporate donation.

Sullivan cites Massachusetts General Law chapter 55 and an attorney general opinion.

He writes of the Pittsfield event; “In this case, it is our understanding that Interprint provided their facility free of charge to the Patrick-Murray Victory Fund for their fundraising event. The event was held on a Saturday evening for approximately 250-300 people. You [the Brigades] stated that the Victory Fund created the invitation list. Additionally, the Victory Fund sent out invitations and the Berkshire Brigades sent out flyers. OCPF also learned that the Massachusetts Democratic State Committee paid $2,988.40 to Zucchini’s Restaurant, the event’s caterer.”

The state has “determined that the approximate value of the use of the Interprint facility for the Victory Fund event is $500.” The Brigades or state party must pay this fee to Interprint.

The Brigades are obligated to inform the campaign office of how and when the payment is made. After that corrective action, writes Sullivan, “this office will consider this matter closed.” The ruling will henceforth be used to “ensure future compliance with the campaign finance law.”

Denis Kennedy, spokesman for the campaign finance office, explained on Wednesday that “there is an absolute prohibition under campaign finance law against corporations spending anything of value to benefit candidates.”
In addition, said Kennedy, “the attorney general ruled years ago that corporations cannot provide something for nothing.“ The only exception would be “ordinary hospitality,” which would not apply for a fundraising event.

Kennedy said that in this case, “this was use of” the facility, “something of value“ that a corporation ordinarily would not supply at no charge. Kennedy said that even restaurants that are corporations are subject to this sort of provision: a restaurant cannot provide free space to a campaign event unless that space would generally be available at no charge.

Kennedy could not comment specifically on how the state reached the $500 figure for this case, saying that generally “we try to get an idea of market value.”

The Berkshire Brigades — which in 2006 raised more than $23,000 with its own events and solicitations, separate from the October 21 fundraiser — billed the Interprint event as “a ‘Homecoming’ fundraiser hosted by Berkshire Brigades, the countywide Democratic Organization.“

In the Brigades’ publicity for the event, chairman Sherwood Guernsey stated: “The Patrick-Murray Campaign needs to raise $1 million per week just to stay competitive with their Republican rivals. We know how much support Deval has here in Berkshire County, and we’re confident that his Berkshire homecoming will rally all his local supporters and that they will be as generous as possible.”

The Brigades’ announcement stated that “contributions of $50, $100, $200 or more are encouraged.” Checks were to be made payable to “The Patrick-Murray Victory Fund.”

In a voicemail message to the Gazette on Wednesday night, Guernsey said he had not yet received formal notification from the campaign finance office.
Bill Hines, Sr., president of Interprint, was traveling and unavailable for comment.

-----------

Tangled web - City web site revisited

Firm created mayor's campaign site without getting payment, then got city contract
With fanfare, the city of Pittsfield just unveiled a renovated municipal web site.

Among other "enhancements," the new site eliminates a link to www dot pittsfieldgazette dot com, while maintaining a link to www.berkshireeagle.com and trumpeting content by Boxcar Media, a firm with mayoral connections that received and has retained the web contract under questionable circumstances.

In honor of the January 2007 relaunch of www.pittsfield.com, here's the Gazette's original February 2005 story investigating the first generation of the Boxcar-created Pittsfield web site...

February 10, 2005

The Pittsfield Gazette

City officials are preparing to unveil an upgraded municipal web site — but the long-delayed debut is overshadowed by questions about the awarding of the internet design contract to a North Adams company with close ties to Mayor James Ruberto.

Boxcar Media — which produced Ruberto’s campaign web site — was the only local vendor invited to offer a quote to develop the new City of Pittsfield web site.

Boxcar received the contract even though an out-of-area vendor provided a lower bid.

City officials stress that Boxcar did not receive preferential treatment, but spokespeople for other local internet firms say they would have jumped at the opportunity to design the city site.

Boxcar has close ties to the mayor:

• Boxcar president Osmin Alvarez, a Williamstown resident, donated the maximum permissible $500 to Ruberto’s 2003 campaign

• Ruberto appointed Alvarez to the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority board

• In what the mayor terms an “internal oversight,” his campaign finance forms do not list any payments to or in-kind services from Boxcar for the development of his campaign web site in 2003.

Purchasing agent Michelle Hunt stressed that her department met all legal requirements in awarding that $21,325 base contract and $2,295 annual maintenance pact to Boxcar.

“This office completely followed [Massachusetts General Law] 30B in the procurement of the services,” said Hunt.

Carol Nichols, the city’s technology director, said that “there was absolutely no pressure“ to award the contract to a particular vendor.

The controversy began last summer when, after years of political campaigns discussing a new city web site, Ruberto initiated the project.

Since the contract would be under $25,000, state law only requires that the city seek quotes from at least three qualified vendors.

The city’s specifications required that “the successful quoter must be on-site within four hours of notification of technical difficulty.” The services sought included a web site that would allow individual departments to update pages; a database system to report and track citizen complaints; a City Hall directory; online forms; a calendar of events; and community links.

The city invited three companies to offer quotes: Boxcar, based in North Adams; Virtual Town Hall, based in Portland, Maine; and Qscend Technologies, based in Waterbury, Connecticut.

Hunt said that the firms were based on recommendations from Nichols.

“Our MIS manager reviewed both local and not-local companies that she thought were qualified,” she said.

Hunt said that the number of quotes sought varies based on the type of project and the recommendation of managers. “The departments know more about the companies,” she said. “They may give me three names, other departments have a list of six names.”

Hunt said it is important that firms seeking city business make themselves known, since in cases such as this one, phone book listings and promotional materials may be the primary source of locating vendors.

Representatives of several local firms that provide internet design services say they would have provided aggressive price quotes for the opportunity to design the high-profile city site.

“It would have been something we would have been interested in,” said Ray Gargan of Gargan Communications, a Dalton firm whose internet clients include Hancock Shaker Village and the Red Lion Inn.

Mike Ward of Lenox Softworks said his firm had indicated an interest in working with the city but did not receive the opportunity to offer a quote.
“Yes we would have bid,” he said.

Lenox Softworks’ clients include Jiminy Peak, Legacy Banks and Simon’s Rock.

Pittsfield-based NetConnex has grown from being primarily a web design firm to a full-service technology company with 14 employees.

“It certainly would have been something we would have been interested in,” said David Monterosso.

When the city closed the bidding process at the end of July, Boxcar and Qscend were the only bidders.

A third bid from Vadar Systems of Maynard — presumably affiliated with the Maine firm — arrived 45 minutes after the deadline and was never opened.

Boxcar bid $21,325 and Qscend bid $18,760.

The city awarded the contract to Boxcar because it ruled that the Qscend bid did not meet a tracking standard for “ticketing” of comments submitted by residents.

A letter to Qscend from Hunt reads: “One of our major concerns is that our residents can submit their complaints/requests via our web site. While both your company and Boxcar Media offer this capability, your product does not offer, at this time, the ability for residents to log in and check the status of their requests. We feel this is a very important option and have therefore decided to contract with Boxcar Media.”

Qscend — a firm that specializes in governmental web sites and offers several predesigned software modules that it customizes — then sent a request to Hunt, asking for a copy of Boxcar’s winning bid package.

Qscend appeared confused about the rationale for awarding the contract, since Boxcar would be creating the “ticketing” feature — as well as the entire site — from scratch. According to Qscend’s current web site, the “ticketing“ feature is available as a routine part of its package. Qscend was also in position to meet the requirement to have the new web site up and running by the stated August 31 deadline.

Hunt said the delay in launching the site is not Boxcar’s fault.
“It is not the contractor, it is the city,” she said.

Nichols said that the City Hall technology department has been overwhelmed by other projects.

“We were going through multiple migrations,” she said. “Our workload is enormous now... As much as the Pittsfield web site is a priority, we have had so many other things going on.”
Contacted this past week, Keith LeBeau of Qscend said that his firm sent the follow-up letter last summer to learn why it did not win the contract.

“Qscend Technologies was surprised given the low number of bidders that they didn’t win considering their vast e-government expertise,” he said.

On Wednesday, Ruberto said he played no role in the awarding of the contract.

“I have not tried to influence Michelle Hunt in the way she went about her job,” he said. “I have not tried to influence the use of a vendor for this or any project.”

Ruberto said he was unaware that only one local company had a chance to offer a quote.

“I have been an advocate of having Pittsfield purchases first,” he said. “I have insisted that we give local vendors the chance for everything from police cars to firefighters’ vehicles.”

While stressing that he did not promote giving the business to Boxcar, Ruberto said the firm “produces a tremendous product and does incredible work.”

Ruberto said he considers Boxcar president Alvarez “a personal friend.”

“Ossie Alvarez is giving of his own energy and time to Pittsfield, Massachusetts as a member of the chamber and as a member of the PEDA board,” said Ruberto. “He is an entrepreneur’s entrepreneur and a person of integrity.”

The mayor said that the failure to report his campaign’s dealings with Boxcar was an error.

“It’s an unfortunate incident,” he said. “We’re going to make the necessary corrections with our apologies.”

Ruberto campaign treasurer George Diehl says he has reviewed records and cannot find any reference to Boxcar other than Alvarez’s personal donation, which is properly noted.

“We just didn’t get an invoice,” Diehl said. “This is just one that got by us and we’re going to rectify it.”

Diehl said that he cannot find any invoices that indicate Boxcar was directly or indirectly paid for the Ruberto web site. The treasurer said that it may have been an “in-kind” service. In-kind services would still need to be listed and are subject to regulations limiting corporate donations to campaigns.

Diehl said that Alvarez is currently out of the country. “Once he’s back, we’re going to fix it and see what happened,” he said.

Ruberto said that he is not sure “what the [financial] intention was” in the providing of the service by Boxcar.

“The campaign clearly overlooked recording that service or fee,” he said.

Denis J. Kennedy of the state office of campaign & political finance, said campaigns can correct filing errors.

“Candidates can always amend reports after discovering something was incorrect,” said Kennedy. “The law is designed to give people the chance to correct errors or omissions.“

Ruberto stressed that “there was no intent to deceive anyone.”
The mayor also expressed hopes that the web site will be well received.

“It’s my dream that this will ultimately become an incredible communication tool between the people of Pittsfield and city government,” he said. “We’re looking at using our web site as a factor of convenience for the people of Pittsfield.”

Rob Adams, director of sales and marketing for Boxcar and the city’s contact for the web site project, did not respond to queries from the Gazette.

Monday, March 26, 2007 4:34:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Proposed Restructuring Plan in Pittsfield
Worker may apply for other positions
Parks Department employee's job faces elimination
By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff
The Berkshire Eagle

Sunday, April 22, 2007

PITTSFIELD — A longtime Parks Department employee whose job will be eliminated if the City Council approves a restructuring plan Tuesday will be able to apply for other city positions, Community Development Director Deanna Ruffer said Friday.

"It doesn't necessarily mean that she will be without a job," Ruffer said.

Tina L. Bernat-Samia, who has been employed by the city of Pittsfield for 21 years, has specific rights that are tied to her longevity as a member of her collective bargaining unit, the Pittsfield Supervisory and Professional Employees Association, Ruffer said.

Those rights include the ability to apply for similar city positions if they become available and "bumping rights" over other in-house employees because of her seniority, Personnel Director David Battistoni said.

If the City Council approves the restructuring plan on Tuesday, Bernat-Samia also can apply for the new position of recreation activities coordinator provided she is interested and qualified, Ruffer added.

Council approval pending

Bernat-Samia, 48, is currently the head clerk in the Parks Department. Her position is scheduled to be eliminated if the council approves Mayor James M. Ruberto's proposal to eliminate the Department of Community Services and divide its duties between the maintenance and community development departments.

If approved, the restructuring will not go into effect until July 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year.

The proposal has been suggested as a way to make city services more efficient and to improve the quality of park maintenance. If it does go into effect, current Community Services Director Jim McGrath will become the city's open space and natural resources program manager — a position that will focus on shaping the long-term goals of the city's open space and natural resources — and will pursue grants to help meet those goals.

The head clerk's position, however, will be cut and replaced by the new recreation coordinator's position.

Position unnecessary under plan

"We looked at the proposed restructuring and decided that an additional clerk would not be needed in either the billing department or in community development," Ruffer said. "The critical void was for a recreation director. Tina can apply for that job if she's interested and has the qualifications."

Although the restructuring plan had been in the works since last fall, and the Personnel Review Board approved the proposal on March 13, this week's official announcement that the proposal had been forwarded to the City Council apparently took several of the principals by surprise.

Bernat-Samia said she did not know her position would be officially eliminated until the city made the news public; the three active members of the Park Commission also were surprised at the news.

"I had no idea she was leaving her position," board member Sheila LaBarbera said.

"I was aware that this was happening," said Chairman Charles P. Garivaltis. "I had heard that Tina was going to lose her job, but not officially."

During an informal discussion at Tuesday night's board meeting, Garivaltis, LaBarbera and fellow board member John P. Herman all said that they hoped the city could retain Bernat-Samia in some capacity because her experience and institutional knowledge of the Parks Department would be missed.

Herman said Friday that he had been told Bernat-Samia would be encouraged to apply for the recreation coordinator's position.

"I think she would be a good person for that job," Herman said.

Ruffer said that Bernat-Samia was "informally" aware of the restructuring considerations. Battistoni said he spoke with Bernat-Samia two or three times about the proposal having been approved by the Personnel Review Board and forwarded to the City Council. Battistoni said he also e-mailed Bernat-Samia's union representative, Patricia Mayhew.

Ruffer said the city is not required to provide formal notification to Bernat-Samia regarding the elimination of her job "before action is taken by the City Council."

"Keep in mind that there is no formal action as of yet," she said.

Monday, April 23, 2007 4:13:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Dear Berkshire Bloggers, News Media, Politicians, & the People:

Re: "School chief on way out? Malden names Pittsfield's leader, Darlington, as a finalist for top job" (The Berkshire Eagle, 4/25/2007): This is yet another example of Pittsfield Mayor Jim Ruberto's deficient leadership on the poor retention of public school administrators during his depressing and dismal tenure in public office!

In 2003, candidate Jim Ruberto promised to make Pittsfield Public Schools the best in the commonwealth, and the outcome over 3 years later is that they have fallen downwards in achievement to among the worst. With Ruberto's top-down, good old boy network, closed door governance, and quality city administrator bolting like inmates from jail, one must ask, "What is really going on with the Ruberto Administration?"

My answer is that Jim Ruberto is serving an elite and narrow constituency that does not benefit the common good of the city, nor the common man, woman and child doing the living, learning, working, paying and dying in Pittsfield. Boy, the good old boy network and special interest must be really wring their hands in Pittsfield thanks to Mayor Jim Ruberto's special favors to the special interests!

VOTE RUBERTO OUT IN 2007! Enough is enough!

In Truth,

Jonathan A. Melle

---------------------

School chief on way out?
Malden names Pittsfield's leader, Darlington, as a finalist for top job.
By Benning W. De La Mater and Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Berkshire Eagle

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

PITTSFIELD — The first female superintendent in the history of the Pittsfield public schools is in the running for a similar position in suburban Boston.

Katherine E. Darlington confirmed last night that she is one of three finalists for the position of superintendent of schools in Malden, a city with a population of about 56,000 that is just six miles north of the state's capital.

Darlington, in her second year of a three-year contract in Pittsfield, said the Malden job was enticing because it would place her closer to her son, a graduate student.

"I have a son back east, and he needs my support," she said. "It's a parenting issue."

Darlington, 55, will be interviewed by the Malden School Committee during a public session tonight at 5. The other two finalists, Mary Ellen Johnson, a superintendent for the New York City Board of Education, and Sidney Smith, director of curriculum and instruction for the Boston Public Schools, also will be interviewed tonight.

Malden Mayor Richard C. Howard said the committee may vote on the candidates following the interviews.

"(Darlington) comes highly regarded," he said.

Mayor James M. Ruberto, an ex-officio member of the School Committee, said that anyone who has seen Darlington operate as a professional during the time she has been in Pittsfield should not be shocked that other school districts would be interested in hiring her. However, he said that he had no idea whether Malden contacted Darlington or whether she contacted them.

"Remember, Dr. Darlington is interviewing," Ruberto said. "I guess that's an emphasis I'd like you to make from me. That does not mean that if that position is offered, she's going to accept it, nor does it mean that Dr. Darlington is going to leave.

"I think we need to wait until that process is complete before we begin to discuss what is next," he said.

Darlington said that if she is not offered the job in Malden, she will stay in Pittsfield through the remainder of her contract, which expires June 30, 2008. If she leaves, she said, she is confident that the Pittsfield schools would not suffer because of the turnover.

"I believe we have made an effort to make advances; it's been a very collaborative approach," she said. "So I feel confident that if I was to assume the position, Pittsfield would be in a good place."

School Committee Chairwoman Kathleen A. Amuso said that Darlington was upfront about the job with the seven-member board.

"She was honest with us, but, honestly, I would have liked to see her finish her contract here," Amuso said. "I think when your top official leaves, it's significant."

Amuso added that the timing "isn't great" because William J. Cameron Jr., Pittsfield's assistant superintendent of personnel and negotiations, accepted a job as Salem's superintendent just two weeks ago.

"It's especially significant when you have two top officials leaving," Amuso said.

In her time here, Darlington instituted programs in the schools that have brought success, including restoring the district's curriculum directors, establishing attendance officers and bolstering remediation for MCAS by starting an afterschool program that meets four times a week.

"I think she came in and saw weak areas and provided new eyes for the district," Amuso said.

As the city's highest-paid municipal employee with a salary of $114,730, Darlington has divided her time between an apartment on Harding Street, where she lives during the week, and her home in North Andover, where she stays on weekends with her son.

When she was hired in May 2005, she told The Eagle that if Pittsfield "was a fit, I would be looking to stay because it's a place where I could grow as a professional."

Through her tenure, though, she has declined to say how long she would stay.

This is Darlington's first job as a superintendent. Previously, she was the principal of James F. Leonard Middle School in Lawrence, a transitional bilingual education teacher in Methuen, an elementary school teacher at the American Community School in Surrey, England, and a reading specialist and teacher in the U.S. Department of Defense schools in Panama.

A graduate of Michigan State University, she also has received doctoral degrees in literacy, language and cultural studies from Boston University. She replaced William D. Travis, who resigned before taking the superintendent's post at Mount Greylock Regional School District.

Malden's mayor, Howard, said that the city hired a consulting firm, the New England School Development Council, to help in the search. Ads were placed in a number of educational publications as well as in The Boston Globe.

Although Malden is bigger in size than Pittsfield, its school district is similar, with both serving roughly 6,500 students. Howard said the students there face similar hurdles as those across the state and locally.

"Our current superintendent is retiring, and we're struggling with MCAS performance and achievement, and with No Child Left Behind," he said. "There are 40 superintendent openings across the state, and it's a demanding job. It's very competitive."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007 1:20:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Schools chief passes interview
Pittsfield's Darlington is among the final two vying for superintendent spot in Malden.
By Derek Gentile, Berkshire Eagle Staff
The Berkshire Eagle

Thursday, April 26, 2007

PITTSFIELD — Members of the Malden School Committee will be scheduling a site visit to the city in the wake of Pittsfield Superintendent Katherine E. Darlington's interview with that board last night for their vacated superintendent's position.

The visit comes after the committee appeared to narrow from three to two its list of candidates for the job after conducting interviews yesterday with Darlington, Boston Public Schools Director of Curriculum and Instruction Sidney Smith, and New York City Board of Education Superintendent Mary Ellen Johnson.

The committee then opted to make site visits to Pittsfield and Boston — essentially eliminating Johnson.

Yesterday, Darlington was the first candidate to be interviewed, followed by Johnson and Smith in that order. Each interview lasted about an hour, and the candidates were quizzed about their qualifications, credentials and educational philosophy.

Following the interviews, the school committee discussed the candidates for about 15 minutes. At the end of that discussion, the committee voted unanimously to plan the site visits, which have not yet been scheduled.

At those visits, school committee members will tour the schools overseen by the respective candidates and meet with administrators and staff.

Malden Mayor Richard C. Howard said yesterday before the interviews began that he expected the committee would decide on a site visit rather than make a final decision.

"I think the committee will want to get out to these schools before they make a final decision," he said. "That's just my feeling."

Last night, back in Berkshire County, the Pittsfield School Committee did not discuss Darlington's candidacy. Assistant Superintendent Henry Kaiser handled the superintendent's report.

Darlington has said she would remain in Pittsfield for the remainder of her contract if she is not hired in Malden. In 2005, she signed a three-year pact with the city, which expires on June 30, 2008. Darlington, who earns a salary of $114,730, has said part of Malden's appeal is it would place her closer to her son, a graduate student in Boston.

Darlington, if she is hired, would be moving to a larger city, of 53,000 residents, with eight public schools and a total enrollment of 7,337. The district has 525 teachers under contract and a student-teacher ratio of 14-1, according to MassSchools.com. Pittsfield's school population is 6,500, with about 500 teachers.

According to Howard, the Malden School District hired a consulting firm, the New England School Development Council, to coordinate the search. Ads were placed in various educational periodicals in New England, as well as The Boston Globe.

Pittsfield was Darlington's first superintendent's job; she was previously the principal of James F. Leonard Middle School in Lawrence.

-------------------------

School-choice numbers

The Pittsfield Public School Committee voted unanimously last night to continue to participate in the School Choice Program, even though 108 more students left the district this year than arrived. It is still in the district's interest to remain in the program, according to assistant superintendent Dr. William Cameron. Not participating, he said, would prevent students from coming into the district, but not prevent them from leaving.

Student breakdown

Students out, 2007: 252
Students in, 2007: 144
Students out, 2006: 241
Students in, 2006: 132.

2007 costs

Estimated revenue from school choice: $850,000
Estimated costs of school choice: $1.4 million
Net cost of school choice/tuition: - $550,000

Thursday, April 26, 2007 3:00:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

12/22/2004

To the News Media, People and Politicians,

I found Jack Dew's news article "Ruberto denies columnist's claims" (Eagle, 12/21/04) to be very interesting because I went through a similar set of experiences with local, regional and state politicians when I was still a lifelong resident of Berkshire County, especially those with the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission's Executive Director Nat Karns. Despite my following comments, I do believe Karns has both a positive intent and set of accomplishments for the Berkshires.

First, I remember in the late Spring of 1997, Nuciforo had basically copied the Franklin Regional Council of Governments model, with the interesting exception of excluding the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission from the proposal. He submitted the legislation in the FY98 state budget (July, 1997) for approval, which was voted down that year in the Massachusetts State House of Representatives. The next year's FY99--July, 1998--state budget, Bosley (North Adams State Rep.) ensured that Berkshire County Government would successfully be abolished. Two years later (in 1999) from Nuciforo's initial proposal in the Spring of 1997--his first year in political office as Berkshire County's State Senator, Nuciforo and Karns formed Berkshire 2000 Task Force to study the soon to be abolished Berkshire County Government and what entity should be formed to take its place. This task force was a FARCE! What Karns did was basically take Nuciforo's 1997 proposal and made minor changes to it with the approval of the Berkshire 2000 Task Force, which was an undemocratic body. I was allowed to attend some of the meetings, but Karns made it specific to me that the state's open meeting law did not apply despite the use of all public funds in the tens of thousands of taxpayer's dollars to basically cut and paste Nuciforo's original proposal. I raised my hand to speak at the meeting in the fall of 1999 at the Pittsfield Country Club, but Karns would not call on me and did not let me speak. However, I passed around a lengthy set of copies to the officials and people at the meeting. Karns' hack proposal, which was a farce, bit the dust! Several years later, I applied for an entry-level planning position with the BRPC and Karns sent me a rejection letter stating the he debated my qualifications (I have a Masters of Public Administration from U Mass Amherst), but decided to reject me for even an interview and gave me no consideration for the position.

MAYOR RUBERTO: You are engaging in foolish insider politics that is NOT serving the interests of the people of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. You should not try to ruin Andrew Lenton's career behind closed doors with the political hack, Nat Karns. Please explain your real interests in being the Mayor of Pittsfield!!!! I am growing very wary.

Lastly, I am an American Citizen with U.S. Constitutional Rights and Civil Liberties:
#1- I will always speak my good conscience as long as I live; GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH!
#2- The strong will always pick on the weak; and I, Jonathan Alan Melle, will always defend the weak! Tyrants and other top down bureaucrats will never win me over to their self-serving interests! Whether it is starving kids around the world or the little county government in my native region, I will defend the weak. I defend Andrew Lenton from Karns and Ruberto, et al!

Sincerely,

Jonathan A. Melle

Thursday, April 26, 2007 3:02:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Dear Berkshire Bloggers, News Media, Politicians, & the People:

Much as I am part of the post industrial waste's social problems: I am educated but chronically unemployed or underemployed, I sit in the perfect societal seat to understand why the laws of economics apply to some municipalities demanding social problems and ultimately receiving a growing supply of have nots.

Manchester, NH, the community I know call home, sells itself as being a step above Lowell, and many steps above Lawrence, Massachusetts. Like Pittsfield, Manchester is a working class community with an exclusive elite class that runs the city and business systems. Like Pittsfield, Manchester has high rates of social problems: Poverty, Teen Pregnancies, Poorly Performing Public Schools, and the like.

Let me get to the point: The demand placed on someone like me -- a have not -- by the small but powerful elite class in either Pittsfield or Manchester is for me to SCREW UP to the point that my social problems make me powerless against the city and business systems. The demand by these working class communities that I am economically forced to live in because I am a Proletariat (or a "have not") is to make me dependent on the area's "systems."

Let me make it clearer: The rational economic incentive for Pittsfield or Manchester, NH is NOT to make me economically self-sufficient.

WHY?

Because if I was well off I would step into the inner circle of the exclusive city and business systems' elite classes. If someone like me became economically, socially and politically powerful, I may change the systems of manipulation against those who cannot see through true societal power. In short, I would change the systems to ensure that all people, regardless of economic class and social status, are treated rationally, and are thereby given a FAIR chance to succeed.

What kind of incentives to the elite classes use against the poor and middle class?

ONCE AGAIN, for all of you who write about social problems in Pittsfield, Massachusetts and elsewhere, the communal insiders manipulate at least 90% of their populations with PERVERSE INCENTIVES?

So, if that is true, then what does Pittsfield or Manchester have to gain by demanding social problems and receiving the supply of people with them?

The answer, as in all things POLITICAL is MONEY! $'s! Green colored bills with dead presidents and other founding fathers.

ONCE AGAIN, the people with social problems are inputted into the system by the city who then qualifies for state administered, federally funded dollars to provide the outputs to meet the demand of dependent people. The outcome is more and more people see their "way out" of hunger, homelessness, and other situations that should not even exist in a civilized society by having a baby at 16 years old, dropping out of public school, being unemployed, and the like.

To close, when I went to U Mass Amherst and received my Master of Public Administration I had access to all of Pittsfield's quantitative spreadsheets. By the high level of welfare caseloads and other related social problems, Pittsfield was pulling in several tens of millions of state administered, federally funded public dollars to provide programs to meet the demand for government assistance. What Pittsfield then did with those dollars was used a percentage on the programs to meet the minimum regulatory compliance standards, and then complemented the rest of the money on special interest programs and artificially lowering the municipal tax rate so that the incumbent Pols could stay in office.

In Truth,

Jonathan A. Melle

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Trouble ... for life

Pittsfield's high dropout rate — only 67.6 percent of students graduated in 2006 — has created a sense of urgency with regard to federal mandates.

By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff

Sunday, April 29, 2007

PITTSFIELD — There's a story behind every high school dropout.
"I've got a kid who gets a 270 out of 280 on the MCAS test, top 5 percent in his class," Pittsfield High School Principal Howard J. Eberwein III said, "and he says without notice, 'Hey, I'm going to work with my dad.'

"That kid will probably be fine," Eberwein said. "There are stories of kids who drop out and go into a field where it will be successful for them. But the bottom line is ... if you don't have a high school education, you're going to be in serious trouble for the rest of your life."

Eberwein's statement is true everywhere, but it's especially noticeable in Pittsfield, where the city's four-year graduation rate, measured for the first time this year by the state Department of Education, showed that only 67.6 percent of students who entered the two public high schools and Hibbard Alternative School in the fall of 2002 graduated in the spring of 2006.

Pittsfield, factoring in Hibbard, Pittsfield High and Taconic High, is ranked in the lower 11 percent statewide, 29th from the bottom of the state's 279 school districts. This method of calculation, known as the unadjusted graduation rate, is used for most data collections.

There is a new urgency to graduation rates because Massachusetts is required to use them as a measuring stick for school districts to reach Adequate Yearly Progress standards mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The scarcity of low-skilled jobs — combined with poverty, mobility among the poor, and the breakdown of the traditional family structure — has made it more difficult for high school dropouts to find a place in modern society, according to Pittsfield school administrators.

"Our demographics in Pittsfield are changing," said Taconic Principal Douglas McNally. "We have more kids coming from single-parent households, more kids growing up in poverty, and more where English is not the primary language.

"The community has to take more responsibility, and the home has to take more responsibility. But unlike private schools or private enterprise, we can't choose our students. So as a school system ... we have to do the best job that we can for them."

Compared to high school graduates, dropouts are more likely to be unemployed, earn less money, and wind up in jail.

. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the dropout unemployment rate was 7 percent as of March, compared with 4.1 percent for graduates and 1.8 percent for those with a bachelor's degree.

. Dropouts, on average, earn $9,245 less per year than high school graduates, according to a report released by the Employment Policy Foundation in 2002. A dropout's lifetime earnings are $500,000 less than a graduate's and $1.5 million less than those with a bachelor's degree, a Northeastern University study found.

. High school dropouts are eight times more likely to end up in jail or in prison; 75 percent of America's state prison inmates are dropouts, according to the National Dropout Prevention Network.

An April 2006 survey on dropouts by the Massachusetts Department of Education found that 46 percent of the state's school districts cited a lack of academic success as a main reason that students left school.
Ann Marie Carpenter, who heads the Pittsfield School Department's school adjustment counselors, said absenteeism is a key factor, both locally and nationally, because dropouts usually don't see themselves succeeding in life.

"They don't have that capacity to think maybe two, three, five or 10 years down the road," she said. "They see someone out there working, and they don't really understand the challenges they're going to face."

Pittsfield has one of the most stringent high school graduation requirements in Western Massachusetts, Eberwein said, with students needing to earn 260 academic credits. They also need to complete one of four certificate programs — arts and sciences, vocational/technical, business technology, or work-based learning — besides passing the MCAS tests.

Cheryl Nolan-Wallah, executive director of the Christian Center, said dropouts frequently come from families with parents who don't have time to spend with them because the parents need to work two or three jobs.

"Kids in elementary schools are falling so far behind that if you don't (catch up), you're defeated by the time you get to the MCAS tests," she said.

Nolan-Wallah said the Christian Center, located on Robbins Avenue, has seen more high school dropouts recently, but has instituted initiatives, such as a homework program, to try to help youngsters succeed in school.

Sometimes, students need more than four years to complete high school. Eberwein said 10.3 percent of those who enter Pittsfield High and 5.1 percent who enter Taconic in the ninth grade are still enrolled in high school after four years.

McNally said that if students who take longer than four years to graduate were added into the city of Pittsfield's graduation rate, it would be closer to 75 percent, the same number it was in 1992 and 2002.

"I'm not saying that 75 percent is acceptable," McNally said. "I'm saying that it's not a new problem. Let's not look at it like it's something that's happened in the past two years. It's an entrenched problem in our school system, and it happens at every level."

Several dropouts choose to pursue their General Educational Development (GED) certificate instead of finishing high school. Begun in 1942 to help returning World War II veterans obtain a diploma, the GED program sometimes is used by students who want to enter college early.

Of the 69 students who dropped out of Pittsfield High between Sept. 1, 2006, and Jan. 8 of this year, 30 left to pursue a GED; four sought the certificate through the BerkshireWorks Career Center, and four sought it through the Adult Learning Center, according to School Department figures. Nine of the 30 students have completed their GED requirements since Jan. 8.

"There are norms which are developed in communities," Eberwein said. "If it becomes acceptable to pursue a GED or work experience, then more students will do that.

"Right now a student could drop out at 16 and get their GED and go to (Berkshire Community College). They could accelerate their education. We've had a handful of kids do that this year. That's a tough thing for me to fight."

Still, high school graduates are more likely to attend college than GED recipients, according to Education Week Magazine; numbers suggest students with a regular diploma are three times as likely to finish at least two years of college than those with a GED.

Eberwein said students who get a GED often don't develop the academic skills needed to succeed in college and need to take remedial classes once they get there.

"It opens up some doors — not all doors," he said.

McNally and Eberwein said Pittsfield's public schools have introduced several new instructional strategies, including increased standards testing in elementary and middle schools. The testing is designed to more closely track students who fall behind academically. The School Department also has introduced work-based learning programs. One such program has high school dropouts attending the Adult Learning Center to learn carpentry skills.

In addition, McNally said there have been discussions about setting up dual enrollment programs with BCC, recruiting more businesses to participate in career-oriented initiatives, and having high school programs that begin in the afternoon for youngsters who work morning shifts, and in the evening for students who work all day.

The Juvenile Resource Program, run by the Berkshire County Sheriff's Department, provides resources for current students with truancy issues. High school dropouts ages 18 and over also can study for an adult diploma, which is similar to the GED certificate except that participants are required pass the MCAS tests in order to enroll.

The School Department also is looking to restructure the education program at Hibbard, where the dropout rate reached 51 percent in 2003-04, when 28 of the 55 high school students who were enrolled dropped out. Hibbard seeks to provide students with the behavioral supports they need to succeed academically.

"The Hibbard model as it is now is not working very well," McNally said. "Everybody knows that. We're looking for alternatives for alternative education."

But Superintendent of Schools Katherine Darlington said she has instituted a structure within the city's public schools that makes it easier to track students who drop out.

"When I started here, there didn't seem to be a system for structure, communicating or talking about now, in the minute, who's dropping out," said Darlington, who was chosen as Pittsfield's superintendent of schools in May 2005. "The system was we'd wait until the spring when they released the dropout (rates) and we'd know whether we went up or went down."

Eberwein said he believes the addition of an extra instructional period during the school day would help students who struggle with high school academic requirements.

"It would give kids an opportunity to have a safety net during the school day to recover credits and maintain pace toward graduation," said Eberwein, who said no such proposal is on the table. "Right now, if students fail a class, they are automatically derailed from a graduation pathway."

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Suzanna Somes, a Taconic High School dropout, talks with an Eagle reporter about her experiences in high school and her completion of the GED program at the Adult Learning Center in Pittsfield.

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Heather Delisle, a Pittsfield High dropout, left, works with teacher Barbara Ouellette on a GED practice test while Kelly St. Leger, center, and Yeleika Hernandez catch up on some other work.

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Pittsfield's high dropout rate has created a sense of urgency with regard to federal mandates.

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High school graduation rates

Unadjusted

(Accounts for all students who began ninth grade in the 2002-03 school year, but subtracts students who transferred to another district. This method is used for most data collection.)

Top five school districts in state*

Weston 98.7 percent
Norwell 98.5
Cohasset 98.0
Norfolk County Agr. 97.9
Hadley 97.2
* Three charter schools had 100 percent graduation rates.

Bottom five districts*

Lawrence 41.0 percent
Chelsea 45.8
Holyoke 49.4
Springfield 51.2
Fall River 54.2
* Charter schools not included.

Berkshire districts

Lenox 94.0 percent
Southern Berkshire 94.0
Mount Greylock 93.5
Berkshire Hills 90.1
Lee 87.9
Central Berkshire 85.1
Adams-Cheshire 79.1
North Adams 74.7
Pittsfield 67.6

Adjusted rate
(Accounts for students who enrolled in high school as ninth-graders in September 2002 and spent all four years at the same school.)

Top five districts
Cohasset 100.0 percent
Hatfield 100.0
Norwell 100.0
Weston 98.6
Winchester 98.6

Bottom five districts

Lawrence 46.4 percent
Chelsea 54.5
Holyoke 57.0
Springfield 57.8
Fall River 59.5

Berkshire districts

Southern Berkshire 97.6 percent
Mount Greylock 95.5
Lenox 94.6
Berkshire Hills 93.4
Central Berkshire 90.0
Lee 89.3
Adams-Cheshire 88.5
North Adams 86.0
Pittsfield 72.6

Note: Charter schools aren't included in either rate.

PITTSFIELD GRADUATION DATA
FOR STUDENT SUBGROUPS

Low-income students: 41.3 percent of 189 students graduated in four years.
Special Education: 31.3 percent of 115 students.
African-American: 43 percent of 35 students.
Hispanic: 40 percent of 15 students.
Limited English: 58.3 percent of 125 students.
Male: 64.1 percent of 287 students.
Female: 71.7 percent of 240 students.
Asian: 100 percent of seven students.

Sources: Massachusetts Department of Education, Pittsfield School Department

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A Dropout's Story
Taconic mom regrets leaving school early

By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff

Sunday, April 29, 2007

PITTSFIELD — Suzanna Somes, 19, dropped out of Taconic High School last April, a month after her son was born.

"I couldn't take care of my baby," she said.

At 18, Somes was only in her sophomore year, having repeated that grade after missing too many classes starting in the eighth grade.

"Too much trouble," she added. "I would get bored. I didn't think it was a challenge."

Somes, however, entered the General Educational Development (GED) program at the Adult Learning Center, and earned her certificate. She currently is enrolled in Project Link at Berkshire Community College, a one-semester transitional initiative that seeks to provide students without high school diplomas the academic skills to succeed in college.

Although Somes said she's proud to have earned her GED, she wishes she had graduated from high school because it would have enhanced her employment opportunities.

"When I was in high school I worked at KFC for three years," Somes said. "Looking at it nowadays, you need a high school diploma or some kind of college certificate. Something stating that you have knowledge and that you completed something.

"So I'm wishing that I stayed in high school. Maybe I would have a job and be going to college part-time instead of receiving (financial) assistance."

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Monday, April 30, 2007 3:01:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Dear Rinaldo Del Gallo III:

As a native of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, I am very concerned about the negative socioeconomic direction the city and its municipal government has gone in during the corrupt, special interest defined tenure of Mayor Jimmy Ruberto. If you go to the following web page...
...you will see my documentation, in part, of the terrible, negative socioeconomic outcomes in Pittsfield since Jim Ruberto became Mayor in 2004. These deleterious societal and deficient governance outcomes under the Ruberto regime include, but are not limited to, From POINT A to Z:

(a) The teen pregnancy rate in Pittsfield continually rose to higher numbers and now doubles the statewide average!

(b) The only thing in the Pittsfield economy that has grown has been the escalating WELFARE CASELOADS!

(c) Property Taxes continued to skyrocket under Mayor Ruberto!

(d) Pittsfield Public Schools have seen lower and lower standardized test scores, among other problematic public educational issues. Instead of the public schools getting better, they have demonstrably gotten worse!

(e) Patrick Fennell's Letter in the 2/27/2007 Eagle edition about Mayor Ruberto blatantly breaking state election laws!

(f) The "Good Old Boys Network" is in full bloom, not grassroots democracy!

(g) The spending of GE's economic development funds on the Colonial Theater and Spice Restaurant instead of industry's that would have created living wage jobs.

(h) PEDA being created in the Summmer of 1998 and almost 9 years later having not one private business tenant.

(i) PCB pollution being capped, not cleaned up. The PCB caps only last a maximum of 25 years, and then they will spread again all over Pittsfield and down south through Southern Berkshire County, Connecticut, and the Long Island Sound.

(j) The implementation of an inequitable garbage collection fee on working poor tenants and their landlords.

(k) The impending loss of GE Plastics, and Berkshire County being the number one region in the commonwealth for job losses.

(l) The proposed selling of the names of the Colonial Theater and Wahconah Park to private corporations.

(m) The forced retirement of Larry Caprari from the Veterans Office after many decades of quality service to the city's Veteran population because he wouldn't fudge quantitative numbers for Mayor Ruberto.

(n) Imposing a $20 admissions fee for Deval Patrick's Pittsfield Inauguration Ball. From 2003 grassroots candidate to 2007 elitist Mayor!

(o) The possible conspiratorial silencing of Dan Valenti after Valenti exposed Ruberto's violations of state election laws, which was the subject of Patrick Fennell's aforementioned letter.

(p) The costly financing of a Pittsfield Cinema Package when North Adams' financing made much more sense without the use of so many public taxpayers dollars.

(q) Opposing the Community Preservation Act to meet the tax needs of business over the residents.

(r) Proposals to raise health insurance premiums to early retirees, thereby taking away their incentive to retire early.

(s) Supporting D.A. Capless' persecution of 7 first time drug offenders in a Great Barrington drug bust, and supporting the fallacious argument that Pittsfield drug offenders are treated harshly so therefore Great Barrington drug offenders must be treated harshly too.

(t) Replacing a more qualified woman chair of the city's licensing board with "Good Old Boy" Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr.

(u) Pittsfield's high and socially unjust public school dropout rates by demographics:

PITTSFIELD GRADUATION DATA - FOR STUDENT SUBGROUPS:

***Low-income students: 41.3 percent of 189 students graduated in four years.***

Special Education: 31.3 percent of 115 students.
African-American: 43 percent of 35 students.
Hispanic: 40 percent of 15 students.
Limited English: 58.3 percent of 125 students.
Male: 64.1 percent of 287 students.
Female: 71.7 percent of 240 students.
Asian: 100 percent of seven students.

(v) The loss of Pittsfield Public School assistant Superintendent Dr. William Cameron to another public school district, and the possible loss of Superintendent Katherine E. Darlington to another public school district, if she is hired.

(w) Jack Dew's news article "Ruberto denies columnist's claims" (Eagle, 12/21/04) that alleged that Mayor Ruberto told Berkshire Regional Planning Commission Director Nat Karns to either censure Andrew Lenton's wife's, Liz Levine's, First Amendment Free Speech Rights or have Andrew Lenton retaliated against and ultimately have his employment terminated.

(x) Ruberto and Deanna Ruffer's restructuring of a city agency without regard to the career status of Tina L. Bernat-Samia, who has been employed by the city of Pittsfield for 21 years.

(y) The awarding of the internet design contract to a North Adams company with close ties to Mayor James Ruberto for the city's municipal web site. Boxcar Media — which produced Ruberto’s campaign web site — was the only local vendor invited to offer a quote to develop the new City of Pittsfield web site. Boxcar received the contract even though an out-of-area vendor provided a lower bid.

(z) Jim Ruberto's unethical backstory: One of several corporate executives to bankrupt a Texas plastics company, Ruberto takes a cut of the corporate loot after screwing over many investors and workers and makes a run out of state to his mother's Pittsfield home. After moving into his mother's Pittsfield home, Ruberto decides to run for Mayor and loses. Ruberto then places his mother into a nursing home under the pretenses of Alzheimer's Disease and then remains living in his mother's home, never having to pay a mortgage or purchase the property. Ruberto then runs for Mayor again two years later not only with his cut of the corporate loot he took from the Texas Plastics Company he bankrupted as a corrupt corporate executive, but now Ruberto has control over his mother's home that he USURPED by placing her into a nursing home and remaining in her Pittsfield home.

RINALDO: Jimmy Ruberto needs to be voted out of political office. It is like Ken Lay has taken over Pittsfield. You, Rinaldo, have solutions. You have written about Pittsfield's economy many, many times to me, and most of your ideas are good and effective ones. You, Rinaldo, have a case against Ruberto, and a platform ready made to turn around Pittsfield's many socioeconomic problems. When you run for Mayor of Pittsfield, Rinaldo, I pledge to you my full support! Please run for Mayor and bring good results back to our beloved native community.

Yours Very Truly,

Jonathan A. Melle

Thursday, May 03, 2007 7:48:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Dear Rinaldo,

Please run for Mayor of Pittsfield. If you do not lead Pittsfield, then the following perversely incentived, troubling social and economic trends will continue under the Ruberto Regime:

#1 - RISING RATES of TEEN PREGNANCIES, HIGH SCHOOL DROP-OUTS & TRUANCIES, WELFARE CASELOADS!

#2 -LOWER and LOWER PUBLIC EDUCATIONAL PERFORMANCE RESULTS!

#3 - SKYROCKETING RISING PROPERTY TAX RATES!

#4 - POLITICALLY CORRUPTED, TOP-DOWN, MACHINE DRIVEN, SPECIAL INTERESTS ONLY, DEFICIENT MUNICIPAL GOVERNANCE!

#5 - PEDA and other ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS PRODUCING EITHER LOW WAGE OR NO JOBS!

#6 - THE MISUSE OF or "BAIT & SWITCH METHOD" for ECONOMIC INCENTIVES!

#7 - The use of PERVERSE INCENTIVES to keep Pittsfield and her residents disadvantaged so that the social and economic problems keep the annual tens of millions of state administered, federally funded public dollars, that would otherwise not be appropriated to Pittsfield, flowing into Pittsfield. THEN, the city taking these tens of millions of state administered, federally funded dollars and giving it to special interests rather than spending it on public education and social service programs. Pittsfield's special interests get rich off of the misery and cycles of poverty of her residents, so Pittsfield perversely incentives socially irresponsible behaviors, SUCH AS THE TEEN PREGNANCY RATE DOUBLING THE STATEWIDE AVERAGE in 2006!

#8 - PCB CAPS that only last 25 years and then the cancer causing and child development stunting pollutant harms future generations of Pittsfield residents and down through Southern Berkshire County, Connecticut, and to the Long Island Sound!

#9 - The implementation and administration of INEQUITABLE FEES, such as the garbage collection fee, that places more of the burden of taxation on the poor, who are really getting screwed by Mayor Ruberto's Regime!

#10 - BERKSHIRE COUNTY HOLDING THE FIRST PRIZE FOR BEING THE NUMBER ONE REGION IN THE COMMONWEALTH FOR JOB LOSSES! Now, GE Plastics is liquidating and hundreds of good jobs are lost forever, and they AINT COMIN' BACK, Jack!

#11 - THE CONSPIRATORIAL TREND OF RUBERTO REGIME DISSENTERS BEING SILENCED: ANDREW LENTON's wife LIZ LEVINE, and then DAN VALENTI! Hey, its Jimmy Ruberto's Regime so THE HELL WITH FREEDOM OF SPEECH. (At least Ruberto will never silence me!)

#12 - SUPPORTING HIGHLY POLITICIZED D.A. PROSECUTIONS FOR FIRST TIME, MINOR POSSESSION THAT DID NOT MEET THE SPIRIT OF THE LAW STANDARD -- the Great Barrington young adults were not selling to school children -- in order to FOR RUBERTO TO KEEP HIS INSIDER, Good Old Boys' Network STATUS. Really Unethical Stuff!

----------------------------------

#13 -

Why a woman chair? LOOK, Rinaldo, Pittsfield Politics has been terrible to women over the past few years. Citation # 1: Chris Speranzo runs for State Representative in the early-2005 Special Election Democratic Party Primary against two women candidates: Rhonda Serre and Pam Malumphy. Lobbyist Larkin bequeaths the "elected" seat to Speranzo with inside connections, including Ruberto's endorsement--as Speranzo was Ruberto's City Solicitor. Serre and Malumphy never had a fair election because Speranzo was always the inside candidate. Citation # 2: Sharon Henault and Sara Hathaway are running for Middle Berkshire Registrar of Deeds. Luciforo enters the race and strong-arms both women candidates out of the state government "election" and goes onto run unopposed. The irony is that when Luciforo lobbied the State House Insiders for the commonwealth's Insurance Commissioner position, A WOMEN JUDGE got the position over Luciforo, who was made to look like the corrupt Pol he truly is in the 1-16-2007 edition of The Boston Globe! As Mary E. Carey headlined her blog story: MELLE VINDICATED! Citation #3: A woman Attorney much more qualified that Good Old Boy Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. held the Chair of the City Licensing Board with distinction for some time. Mayor Ruberto then ousted her by predictably putting in a Good Old Boy--Carmen Massimiano--in her place. THAT IS WHY I ADDRESS THE STATUS OF WOMEN! The Ruberto Regime and his Pittsfield Political Machine HAS DEMONSTRABLY MARGINALIZED WOMEN IN PITTSFIELD state & local POLITICS!

I ASK YOU THIS RINALDO: WHAT IF IN EACH OF THE THREE CASES THE INSIDERS WERE WOMEN and the marginalized OUTSIDERS were MEN?

What if a woman state rep. resigned her seat six days after being sworn into political office to be a lobbyist and then tipped the scales to the woman City Solicitor working for the woman Mayor, and then two men ran in the state "election" and lost under those circumstances?

What if two men were running for Middle Berkshire Registrar of Deeds in the state government "election" and then a powerful woman state Senator decided to enter the race and then told the two men candidates that it is in their best interests to drop out of the state "election" and then that woman candidate ran unopposed? THEN, what if that woman Middle Berkshire Registrar of Deeds decided she would rather be the state's Insurance Commissioner and she lobbied the State House Insiders for the post? Furthermore, what if that woman also unethically worked as a private corporate Insurance Company Attorney for a Boston Law Firm while lobbying for the state's Insurance Commissioner's job, meaning she would have to resign her Middle Berkshire Registrar of Deeds state position that she convinced the two men she strong-armed out of the recent "election" she should be in?

What if a man who was an Attorney served with distinction on the City Licensing Board and the woman Mayor appointed her Good Old Girl buddy to Chair that Board when the woman filling the man's position was blatantly political and less qualified that the aforementioned man?

Rinaldo, what would you say to those scenarios that have played out in Pittsfield Politics over the past several years of the WOMEN were strong-arming the MEN out of state and local government "elected" and appointed seats?

---------------------------------

In closing, Rinaldo, look at the state of Pittsfield, Massachusetts once again. Review all of the great ideas and policy proposals you have made for the city and community! Please run for Mayor of Pittsfield to stop all of these cycles of poverty, social problems, economic ruin, insider networking that serves no common good. You are the only one who still speaks of bring CHANGE for Pittsfield! Please run for Mayor and turn Pittsfield around and back in the right direction!

Thank you,

Jonathan A. Melle

------

Rinaldo Del Gallo III wrote:

Let me reply, to best of my abilities, issue by issue:

(a) The teen pregnancy rate in Pittsfield continually rose to higher numbers and now doubles the statewide average!

We at the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition have talked about this for years, only to be shunned by the Eagle. Click here, here, and here for our stories and letters to the editor. It is one of the few things government can change, but does not.

(b) The only thing in the Pittsfield economy that has grown has been the escalating WELFARE CASELOADS!

Jonathan, I believe that Pittsfield has undergone a massive fall for years—few seem to readily confront this problem. When I ran for office in 2005, the Eagle actually ran stories about the vastly improved Pittsfield economy.

(c) Property Taxes continued to skyrocket under Mayor Ruberto!

There is little public interest in a fiscal conservative such as myself John. All those that ran on a platform that taxes were getting too high lost—and the Eagle ignored us.

(d) Pittsfield Public Schools have seen lower and lower standardized test scores, among other problematic public educational issues. Instead of the public schools getting better, they have demonstrably gotten worse!

Again, we have ideas. Click here and here and here to read them.

(e) Patrick Fennell's Letter in the 2/27/2007 Eagle edition about Mayor Ruberto blatantly breaking state election laws!

Jonathan Levine of the Pittsfield Gazette has written on this subject and I agree with his analysis. Errors were made and laws were broken. Do I think that makes the mayor a monster? No. I think he has learned from his mistake.

(f) The "Good Old Boys Network" is in full bloom, not grassroots democracy!

Jonathan, there is an old saying in politics—dance with those that brought you to the party. Virtually every candidate for office does this. They also want to build on their power base.

(g) The spending of GE's economic development funds on the Colonial Theater and Spice Restaurant instead of industry's that would have created living wage jobs.

I ran on this platform in 2005 and the Berkshire Eagle did not show up, and there was little radio coverage. Even had an economic forum. The economic effect of the Colonial Theater was lower than even my predictions--I thought that it would bring an increase in foot traffic yet has done little. The effect on the local restaurants was also very small—I anticipated a greater return on investment. As you know, I thought the monies could be better spent elsewhere—namely to attract high wage employers.

(h) PEDA being created in the Summmer of 1998 and almost 9 years later having not one private business tenant.

I was the only candidate in 2005 running on PEDA’s underperformance. Again, the Eagle did not show up. Nobody is listening—there is more concern about things such as the gender of candidates.

(i) PCB pollution being capped, not cleaned up. The PCB caps only last a maximum of 25 years, and then they will spread again all over Pittsfield and down south through Southern Berkshire County, Connecticut, and the Long Island Sound.

This is a serious issue.

(j) The implementation of an inequitable garbage collection fee on working poor tenants and their landlords.

I agree. If anybody is to pay, it should the richest not the poorest of our citizens. They claim it is a tax on landlords—those bad landlords—but the cost must be passed along to the tenant.

(k) The impending loss of GE Plastics, and Berkshire County being the number one region in the commonwealth for job losses.

If in 2005 they took up my idea for a business retention programmed, we might be better poised. Eagle editorial slamming a potential buyer was also not helpful.

(l) The proposed selling of the names of the Colonial Theater and Wahconah Park to private corporations.

I am not aware of this but not against this—it is a way to raise capital. Usually, the name “Colonial Theater” or “Wahconah Park” is kept. Obviously, these should be big bucks to warrant such an extreme claim.

(m) The forced retirement of Larry Caprari from the Veterans Office after many decades of quality service to the city's Veteran population because he wouldn't fudge quantitative numbers for Mayor Ruberto.

Know nothing about it so I can’t comment on it.

(n) Imposing a $20 admissions fee for Deval Patrick's Pittsfield Inauguration Ball. From 2003 grassroots candidate to 2007 elitist Mayor!

Jonathan, the mayor was not on the committee—I was. I tried to have a free “Children’s Inaugral” and had obtained a great deal of local talent, lights, and sound, but the idea was nixed. The problem is that the event had to be self-funded. There was a great deal of donated food however.

(o) The possible conspiratorial silencing of Dan Valenti after Valenti exposed Ruberto's violations of state election laws, which was the subject of Patrick Fennell's aforementioned letter.

I don’t know about the subject. Its hard to say that Dan Valenti “exposed” the story—the Gazette did that.

(p) The costly financing of a Pittsfield Cinema Package when North Adams' financing made much more sense without the use of so many public taxpayers dollars.

Tax breaks are one thing—the use of actual city monies is another. I hope it works. As you know, on West Street at the old Big N complex a similar ventured lasted for a number of years but ultimately failed with the coming of the mall. Government is in a poor position to assess the worth of businesses. That’s why I don’t like giving out money until the jobs are created. Tax breaks are another matter.

(q) Opposing the Community Preservation Act to meet the tax needs of business over the residents.

Jonathan, the tax rates on business are too high. It’s a serious concern.

(r) Proposals to raise health insurance premiums to early retirees, thereby taking away their incentive to retire early.

Haven’t thought about this issue.

(s) Supporting D.A. Capless' persecution of 7 first time drug offenders in a Great Barrington drug bust, and supporting the fallacious argument that Pittsfield drug offenders are treated harshly so therefore Great Barrington drug offenders must be treated harshly too.

I respectfully disagree with our District Attorney’s view that prosecutorial discretion is inherently arbitrary. The reasons why DA’s have it, and why prosecutors should use it, is of such widespread knowledge that extensive commentary is not needed. The first hope of the criminal justice system is to turn the lives around of criminals before they become heavily involved in crime. Throwing the book at people for minor first time offenses, such as very small sales of marihuana nowhere in the presence of children seems to make little sense. I was not aware of mayoral support of the DA's position.

(t) Replacing a more qualified woman chair of the city's licensing board with "Good Old Boy" Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr.

Why a woman chair? I personally like Carmen—though I know you had problems with him. I have been offended by people that would not sign my nomination papers. I sign everyone’s nomination papers, even people that I even ran against. I think everyone deserves a right to run. I don’t view signing papers as an “endorsement.” That’s my position. Carmen probably looked at it as an endorsement and opposition to Andrea Nuciforo—I respectfully disagree with this position, but he is not alone in that belief.

(u) Pittsfield's high and socially unjust public school dropout rates by demographics:

PITTSFIELD GRADUATION DATA - FOR STUDENT SUBGROUPS:

***Low-income students: 41.3 percent of 189 students graduated in four years.***

Special Education: 31.3 percent of 115 students.
African-American: 43 percent of 35 students.
Hispanic: 40 percent of 15 students.
Limited English: 58.3 percent of 125 students.
Male: 64.1 percent of 287 students.
Female: 71.7 percent of 240 students.
Asian: 100 percent of seven students.

(u) The loss of Pittsfield Public School assistant Superintendent Dr. William Cameron to another public school district, and the possible loss of Superintendent Katherine E. Darlington to another public school district, if she is hired.

I don’t think it’s the mayor’s fault. I also think there is an element of trying to hop off a sinking ship here.

(v) Jack Dew's news article "Ruberto denies columnist's claims" (Eagle, 12/21/04) that alleged that Mayor Ruberto told Berkshire Regional Planning Commission Director Nat Karns to either censure Andrew Lenton's wife's, Liz Levine's, First Amendment Free Speech Rights or have Andrew Lenton retaliated against and ultimately have his employment terminated.

I would give very little credence to a Jack Dew article. I treat it like any other urban legend—it might be true, it might not. Click here to find out why.

(w) Ruberto and Deanna Ruffer's restructuring of a city agency without regard to the career status of Tina L. Bernat-Samia, who has been employed by the city of Pittsfield for 21 years.

Is this the Parks Department story? I do agree that people should not learn they are losing the jobs through reading a story in the Eagle. I don’t know enough about the particular merits of the case for further comment.

(x) The awarding of the internet design contract to a North Adams company with close ties to Mayor James Ruberto for the city's municipal web site. Boxcar Media — which produced Ruberto’s campaign web site — was the only local vendor invited to offer a quote to develop the new City of Pittsfield web site. Boxcar received the contract even though an out-of-area vendor provided a lower bid.

Why would you want to use an out of area provider unless they were MUCH less expensive? Keep the jobs in the Berkshires.

(y) Jim Ruberto's unethical backstory: One of several corporate executives to bankrupt a Texas plastics company, Ruberto takes a cut of the corporate loot after screwing over many investors and workers and makes a run out of state to his mother's Pittsfield home. After moving into his mother's Pittsfield home, Ruberto decides to run for Mayor and loses. Ruberto then places his mother into a nursing home under the pretenses of Alzheimer's Disease and then remains living in his mother's home, never having to pay a mortgage or purchase the property. Ruberto then runs for Mayor again two years later not only with his cut of the corporate loot he took from the Texas Plastics Company he bankrupted as a corrupt corporate executive, but now Ruberto has control over his mother's home that he USURPED by placing her into a nursing home and remaining in her Pittsfield home.

Jonathan, I have every confidence that Mayor Ruberto loves his mother and would never in a million years do anything to harm her. I also thought that he helped save the Texas Plastics Company, not hurt it. I have not studied his past corporate dealings in depth.

RINALDO: Jimmy Ruberto needs to be voted out of political office. It is like Ken Lay has taken over Pittsfield. You, Rinaldo, have solutions. You have written about Pittsfield's economy many, many times to me, and most of your ideas are good and effective ones. You, Rinaldo, have a case against Ruberto, and a platform ready made to turn around Pittsfield's many socioeconomic problems. When you run for Mayor of Pittsfield, Rinaldo, I pledge to you my full support! Please run for Mayor and bring good results back to our beloved native community.

Jonathan, I have a much different vision for Pittsfield regarding focusing on industry, PEDA, and seem to be much more willing to be “hand on” in such social issues as the dropout rate, bullying, or teen pregnancy. I like Workshop Live, but there seems to be little interest in focusing our efforts on ventures of this nature. We need more Workshop Lives—using incentives to bring business, but not actually giving them money unless they produce. As for other areas of economic development, my predictions became realities.

Jonathan, I very much appreciate your kind words. But nobody is really listening to folks like me who are focused on industry, high tech, and these other social issues such as the dropout rate. To the extent they talk about the problem, they offer no solutions and then degrade my proposed solutions.

The Eagle will not cover me Jonathon, and that makes change nearly impossible. I cannot run even an effective “issues” campaign let alone a real campaign because the Eagle ignores my press releases. And change in the one thing that Pittsfield needs.

I hope the Mayor decides to work with us in the future, and enlist his current help with regards to the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition’s efforts to raise the age for dropping out of school in Pittsfield with a municipal solution instead of relying on the state.

I thank you for your kind thoughts Jonathan.

Rinaldo

Friday, May 04, 2007 5:17:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

[Cliff] Nilan may fill Filpi's spot

By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff

The Berkshire Eagle

Saturday, May 05, 2007

PITTSFIELD — Former Park Commission Chairman Clifford J. Nilan may be returning to the board on which he previously served for 26 years.

Nilan, who resigned from the board in 2003, two years after the commission presided over the fallout from the stadium controversy, has been nominated by Mayor James M. Ruberto to fill the spot vacated by Michael P. Filpi, who resigned in March because of health issues, with six months left on his five-year term.

The City Council will consider Nilan's appointment on Tuesday.

"The mayor asked me to go on," said the 59-year-old Nilan, Berkshire Superior Court's chief probation officer. "I enjoyed it while I was there. I think I have a sense of history, and I think I can add to whatever is lacking, if there is anything lacking.

"It's a good commission and a commission where you can do some good," he added. "I'm very happy that he asked me to go back on."

When Filpi resigned, Ruberto said he considered finding his replacement a top priority, and indicated that he would speak with former park commissioners to gauge their interest in serving again.

With the exception of former Parks Department Recreation Director John C. Marchesi, Ruberto has said that the current commission has been hampered by a lack of institutional knowledge, which became apparent during discussions over the art policy in Park Square earlier this year.

"I agreed with the Park Commission's concerns that we lack someone with the depth of institutional knowledge," Ruberto said. "I couldn't think of anyone better than Cliff to fill that need.

"He served the Parks Department for 20-plus years ably under a series of mayors," the mayor added.

None of the board's three other members, who were all appointed by Ruberto, have served for more than three years. The retired Marchesi's five-year term also is scheduled to expire this month. A 46-year Park Department employee, Marchesi has also has been hampered by health problems and is not interested in serving another term. He was appointed to the board after Nilan resigned in January 2003.

With Filpi gone and Marchesi absent, the board has been operating with just three members the past two months. Chairman Charles P. Garivaltis had to cancel this week's meeting when only two members were able to attend, denying the commission a quorum.

Nilan resigned after then Mayor Sara Hathaway replaced the entire board when she took office in January 2002. He was the final member to be replaced.

"For 26 years, it was fun. But the last six months, it wasn't fun," Nilan said, "just because of circumstances that I'm not going to get into."

In 2001, Nilan chaired the board when, in June, voters rejected the creation of a Civic Authority that would have managed a proposed $18.5 million stadium, killing the entire proposal. The Park Commission was then required to consider two proposals by different groups interested in placing teams in Wahconah Park.

Following a contentious debate that raged all summer, the Park Commission in October chose an independent league team owned by Jonathan Fleisig of New York City over a proposal submitted by a South County group headed by former New York Yankees pitcher and "Ball Four" author Jim Bouton of North Egremont.

Bouton later wrote a book titled "Foul Ball," in which he claimed city officials and members of the community, including The Berkshire Eagle, conspired to deny his group's bid.

"I hope, as a city, that we've moved beyond that issue," Ruberto said.

Nilan had left the Park Commission by the time the South County group, now known as Wahconah Park Inc., had submitted a second proposal for the city's historic ballpark in 2004 that was later withdrawn.

Saturday, May 05, 2007 3:18:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Former parks head to return

By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff

The Berkshire Eagle

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

PITTSFIELD — The City Council last night returned former Park Commissioner Clifford J. Nilan to the board he had previously served on for 26 years.

Nilan, 59, who had resigned from the Park Commission four years ago, was appointed to a five-year term. He will replace Michael J. Filpi, who resigned from the board in March because of health reasons with six months left on his five-year term.

Mayor James M. Ruberto had nominated Nilan to replace Filpi and the council unanimously approved the appointment. Ruberto said last week that he nominated Nilan because his institutional knowledge would be an asset to the board.

"I want to thank Mr. Nilan for coming back," Ward 7 Councilor Anthony V. Maffuccio said. "I think he'll be a great asset to the Park Commission."

"It was a pleasure working with Mr. Nilan on different park events for 10 or 15 years," said Ward 4 Councilor Michael L. Ward, who was president of the Berkshire Cycling Association for several years before he was elected to the City Council. "It will be a pleasure working with him again."

In other business, the council voted unanimously to approve one-way traffic on Union Street between North and Center streets. Peter Cloud, Barrington Stage Company's new managing director, said the change will make it easier for patrons to enter and access the theater, and ease traffic congestion in that area,

Dropout petition favored

The council also voted 7-4 in favor of filing a petition by Rinaldo DelGallo III, of Pittsfield, requesting a legal opinion on whether the city should raise the legal age for high school dropouts to 18.

While some councilors said they believed DelGallo's petition should be referred to the city solicitor's office, others said the issue should be a matter for the state to consider. Councilor at large Tricia Farley-Bouvier said the research involved in forming a legal opinion would be costly, and that city resources would be better spent elsewhere.

"I don't think it's a good use of city resources to look into something that in the end won't be a good policy because there is no enforcement," Farley-Bouvier said.

Last night's session began with a tribute to Pittsfield's oldest living veteran, 97-year-old Margaret Helena Haggerty, who was honored with citations and proclamations from the city, the state Legislature, the state Senate and the governor's office, along with a certificate of special recognition from U.S. Rep. John W. Olver's office. She also received replicas of the seven medals she earned while serving as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army nursing corps during World War II. Haggerty served in North Africa and Italy between 1942 and 1946.

The council and those in attendance, who filled the entire council chambers, gave Haggerty standing ovations after each honor.

A native of Steelton, Pa., Haggerty came to Pittsfield after graduating from St. John's University in New York in 1951. She taught at the former St. Luke's Hospital between 1964 and 1969 and at the former Hillcrest Hospital from 1970 until her retirement in 1972.

Rosanne Frieri, the city's veterans' agent, said Haggerty was honored last night because yesterday was the 62nd anniversary of V-E Day, which marks the end of the fighting in Europe during World War II.

----------------------

School chief to exit in 2008
Pittsfield's Darlington to leave position when contract expires
By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff

The Berkshire Eagle

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

PITTSFIELD — Pittsfield Superintendent of Schools Katherine E. Darlington said yesterday that she will leave her current position in Pittsfield when her three-year contract expires on June 30, 2008.

The move comes after news that the Malden School Committee has selected a Boston educator over Darlington to head that city's school system.

"The understanding that I have with the School Committee and Mayor (James) Ruberto is that I will fulfill the terms of my contract for three years, then seek employment elsewhere," Darlington said.

The Malden board voted 8-1 Monday night in favor of offering a contract to Sydney Smith, the director of curriculum and instruction for the Boston Public Schools, Malden Mayor Richard Howard confirmed yesterday.

Smith and Darlington were the two finalists for the job.

"No pain, no gain," Darlington said. "If you don't go out there, you don't know how you will do."

Darlington also said she had applied for the superintendent's job in Salem earlier this year. That job went to William J. Cameron Jr., Pittsfield's assistant superintendent for personnel and negotiations. Darlington was not a finalist for that position.

She said she applied for both positions because she wanted to be closer to her son, a graduate student, who lives in her home in North Andover. Darlington lives in North Andover on the weekends and in an apartment on Harding Street during the week. North Andover outside of Lawrence, where Darlington was a middle school principal before being hired as Pittsfield's superintendent in the spring of 2005.

"Since they were closer to Andover, they were the only two districts I ventured out to," Darlington said.

Darlington, who is in the second year of her three-year contract, is the city's highest paid employee with a current yearly compensation of $114,730. Her third-year salary has yet to be determined.

The increases in the second and third years of Darlington's contract are determined based on either a rise in the U.S. Department of Labor's Consumer Price Index for the New York-New England region over the previous 12 months, or the mean percentage increase received in that year by members of the School Department bargaining units that ordinarily require state Department of Education certification or license. Darlington's first year salary, set by the School Committee before she was hired, was $110,000.

During her tenure, Darlington has instituted several changes designed to improve academic performance that have run into resistance from some in the local school community. Some people see her living situation as a sign that Darlington is not invested enough in the community.
Ruberto, who was unaware of the Malden School Committee's decision yesterday afternoon, said he didn't think Darlington's final year in Pittsfield will be a distraction.

"Clearly, there is always an element that will take exception to just about anything, but I don't think that will happen here," said Ruberto, who is also an ex-officio member of the School Committee. "I think the School Department — and I really mean this — is comprised of a group of educated professionals who want to help educate the children and build their character.

"I fully expect Dr. Darlington to come back, and come back with the energy and determination that she has shown over the past two years in her third year as superintendent," Ruberto said.

William Berryman III, the president of the United Educators of Pittsfield, which represents the city's teachers, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

School Committee Chairwoman Kathleen A. Amuso said now that the board knows Darlington will return for the final year of her contract, it can concentrate on formulating next year's school budget.

"Honestly, the Malden discussion was a minor distraction," Amuso said. "Now we can be more focused and move forward on the budget."

Darlington also doesn't believe her status as a "lame duck" superintendent will hamper her status within the School Department next year.

"I think we have a great team in Pittsfield," she said. Changes she made to boost academic performance have been done "not from the top down, but the bottom up," she said. "I think we've put a plan into place that will continue."

Malden impressed

Malden's Howard, also a member of the Malden School Committee, said the board was impressed with Darlington's résumé and background. But he said Smith, who has never been a superintendent, told the board that this was the opportunity that he was looking for.

Howard said Smith was also very familiar with the public school system in Malden, a city of 56,000 that is six miles north of Boston.

"If he were not there as a candidate, we wouldn't have hesitated to offer a contract to Katherine Darlington," Howard said.

The Malden School Committee had visited Pittsfield last week after interviewing Darlington in Malden.

» Timeline

May 11, 2005 — Katherine E. Darlington is chosen to succeed William D. Travis as superintendent of schools in Pittsfield. She signs a three-year contract for a first-year salary of $110,000.
April 2007 — Darlington is named a finalist for the superintendent's job in Malden.
Monday — Malden bypasses Darlington in selecting its new superintendent.
Yesterday — Darlington reveals she will not remain on as Pittsfield superintendent after her contract expires in 2008.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007 5:11:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Restructure proposal OK'd
Committee passes plan to City Council
By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff
The Berkshire Eagle
Article Launched:05/10/2007

Thursday, May 10, 2007

PITTSFIELD — A City Council subcommittee has given the go-ahead to Mayor James M. Ruberto's proposal to restructure the Department of Community Services, which allows its current director, Jim McGrath, to concentrate on long-term planning.

The Ordinance and Rules Committee on Monday voted unanimously to recommend the matter to the full City Council. The Council, which met last night, will likely take the matter up at its May 22 meeting.

"When I first heard about this proposal, I was a little bit skeptical," Ward 5 Councilor Jonathan N. Lothrop said. "But the more I got familiar with the details, the more comfortable I became."

Under Ruberto's proposal, a year in the planning, the Department of Community Services, which administers park and recreation activities, will be absorbed into the departments of Community Development and Building Maintenance.

McGrath will become Pittsfield's open space and natural resources program manager, and will be in charge of formulating long-term goals for open space and recreation, and pursuing grant and funding opportunities for those initiatives.

The clerk's position in the Department of Community Services will be cut. Current clerk Tina Bernat-Samia, a 20-year city employee, plans to retire, Community Development Director Deanna Ruffer said on Monday night.

The Building Maintenance Department would assume the maintenance responsibility for Pittsfield's 29 parks and playgrounds. Instead of reporting to McGrath, Superintendent Anthony Stracuzzi, who is in charge of grounds maintenance for Community Development, would report directly to Ernest Fortini, Pittsfield's Building Maintenance Department director.

Fortini told the subcommittee that his department currently receives inquiries for both building and grounds maintenance.

"It kind of makes sense to wrap maintenance into one," Fortini said. "We're already doing that."

The school and parks ground maintenance departments were consolidated last year.

A recreation coordinator's position will be created to handle day-to-day park activities. That job will be part of the Department of Community Development.

Ruberto said the restructuring will better serve the demands of day-to-day park activities, allows for the planning and implementation of "long overdue" park initiatives, and gives the city the opportunity to seek out grants for park initiatives.

McGrath was an environmental planner for the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission before becoming the Department of Community Services Director in the fall of 2002.

Park Commission member John P. Herman said the restructuring will also lessen the burden on McGrath.

"McGrath has had too many hats to wear, it's that simple," Herman said. "Nobody can wear too many hats and do it well."

Under the restructuring, Ruffer said that "80 to almost 90 percent" of the Department of Community Services' line items will be under the Maintenance Department's jurisdiction. There will also be a separate line item in the maintenance budget that the Parks and Recreation Department will be able to track, she said.

Ruffer said rebudgeting in her department for the restructuring may cost the city a little more money, but it will also provide better services.

The restructuring will not change the Park Commission's function of overseeing the city's park land and establishing policies for their use. However, Ruffer said staff from both the Community Development and Maintenance departments will report to the Park Commission. Either she, Fortini or McGrath could attend the board's meeting separately or together depending on the issue, she said.

Friday, May 11, 2007 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Ideal supt. slipped Pittsfield's grasp

Letters

Saturday, May 12, 2007

To the Editor of THE EAGLE:

Your criteria for the selection of a superintendent for the Pittsfield schools in your editorial of May 10 was an accurate portrayal of what the system needs. A qualified individual with ties to the area, who knows the players, problems and issues, would be an excellent fit.

Unfortunately for the citizens of Pittsfield, that person was overlooked when we hired Ms. Darlington. William J. Cameron, Jr. will be missed. Pittsfield's loss will be Salem's gain. Is it too late to offer Mr. Cameron the job?

MARK T. BRENNAN

Pittsfield, May 10, 2007

Saturday, May 12, 2007 4:38:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

NEWS ARTICLE:

Pittsfield Schools

Committee OKs budget

Mayor Ruberto won't support the 7 pecent hike to $49.7M ahead of the municipal budget.

By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff

The Berkshire Eagle

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

PITTSFIELD — The School Committee yesterday voted 6-1 in favor of a $49.7 million fiscal 2008 school budget, a 7 percent increase over the current $46.4 million spending plan. The lone dissenting vote came from Mayor James M. Ruberto.

Ruberto, an ex-officio member of the School Committee, said he wasn't against the recommendations included in the spending plan, which include funding designed to provide services to improve student test scores, and the low high school dropout rate. But he said he would be unable to support a proposed 7 percent increase in school spending while the city is still working on the municipal budget, which is expected to be released on Friday.

The mayor also said he was reluctant to support the budget because of the uncertainty surrounding the amount of state Chapter 70 aid to Pittsfield for the upcoming fiscal year. Figures in Gov. Deval L. Patrick's budget show Pittsfield receiving $2.2 million more in state aid in fiscal 2008. But figures in the House budget, which was released last month, reduced the amount of state aid to Pittsfield by $532,000, to $1.65 million.

"At this moment, it is very difficult to support the increase of 7 percent that is recommended," Ruberto said.

Although the School Committee has approved the spending plan, it needs to be approved by the City Council as part of the municipal budget before it can go into effect. School Committee Chairwoman Kathleen A. Amuso said the council will hold a hearing on the school budget, the largest expenditure in the municipal budget, on June 19. The budget also includes a 7 percent increase in the city's appropriation to Pittsfield's schools, from the current $45.8 million to $49.1 million.

The proposed school budget includes $48.9 million to provide School Department services at the current level as this year, an increase of 5.25 percent, or $2.4 million, over the current budget. All contractually approved raises for all of the School Department's collective bargaining unit employees are included in the level-service budget.

'Tier One' funding

It also includes an additional $812,000 in "Tier One," or critical requests for fiscal 2008, that were compiled during two recent budget workshops. The requests include the addition of some 16 full-time positions at the elementary, middle and high schools, and at the district level. The addition of the Tier One requests increases the budget by 7 percent, or $3.24 million, over the current school spending plan.

"The house figure for Chapter 70 aid is only half of the proposed ($3.24 million) increase," Business Manager Sally Douglas said.

Amuso said the addition of these positions will directly impact the Pittsfield Public Schools' low MCAS test scores, improve student achievement, provide attention for ninth-graders considered at risk for dropping out of school and assist the School Depart-ment's English language learners.

Four of the full-time positions in the Tier One requests are for "academic interventionists" at the city's middle schools, positions that came about because the state Department of Education placed Pittsfield in "corrective action" this year for failing to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) on the MCAS tests for the fourth straight year.

There are also four full-time positions listed for a proposed "ninth grade academy," which Douglas said is designed to help the city's public schools raise the low high-school dropout rate.

"The School Committee recognizes the contribution and support of Mayor Ruberto and the City Council by providing level service funding," Amuso said. "However, the School Committee feels prudent to put the plan presented by our educators that includes programs and processes that will improve the Pittsfield public schools."

Expensive support

During the public comment period, Terry Kinnas, of 14 Cooper Parkway, said he believed a 7 percent increase in school funding would be too expensive for the public to support.

"It will be exceedingly difficult for the taxpayers in the city of Pittsfield to come up with," he said.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007 3:57:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Mayor touts budget

Ruberto proposes a 5.2 percent hike in total spending, including a big bump for education.

By Jack Dew, Berkshire Eagle Staff

Saturday, May 26, 2007

PITTSFIELD — Mayor James M. Ruberto yesterday unveiled a $123 million budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, a plan that would require a substantial tax increase in an election year.
Ruberto's plan would raise spending by 5.2 percent over the current fiscal year, a jump of $6.5 million. The biggest recipient would be the school system, which would get $2.3 million more and a total of $48.7 million, a 5 percent jump.

To soften some of the financial blow, Pittsfield would use $2.5 million from its free cash, but the increased spending would still mean higher taxes for property owners. The average bill would rise from $2,381.18 a year on a house worth $180,000 to $2,480.40, a 4.2 percent change. The tax rate would be set at $13.78 per $1,000 in assessed value.

Ruberto called the plan "an ambitious budget that will take our city to the next level." He said it "aggressively targets the challenges we need to face and overcome to allow Pittsfield to truly become the finest small city in the Northeast."

The budget will now go to the City Council, which will debate it over a series of special hearings, beginning May 30. The same 11 councilors balked last year when the mayor proposed a 3.7 percent tax increase; they eventually trimmed it to 2.7 percent. This year, the council and mayor face re-election in November, which could add political complications.

"It will be a difficult process, I can tell you that," said City Council President Gerald M. Lee. "It is a lot of money. It is going to end up being more than a 4 percent tax increase, and there are a lot of people I know who are already concerned about their taxes, and legitimately so."

Lee expects the School Department's budget to undergo a lengthy debate. The system is already under scrutiny, hurt by data that show the four-year graduation rates for the city's two high schools are among the lowest in the state. In October, the system was one of only nine in Massachusetts that was placed into "corrective action" by the Department of Education after failing to make overall progress for four consecutive years.

Just to maintain the status quo, Ruberto said, the schools will need an additional $1.9 million to fund pay raises and cope with higher costs.

His budget requests an additional $505,000 to keep programs that have been funded by grants that are expiring this year. This includes teachers for a reading program in the elementary schools and staff to cope with increased enrollment of special-education students.

The mayor also is asking for $466,434 to fund new programs that will target MCAS scores, graduation rates and English programs.

In an interview, Ruberto said that the School Department has presented a comprehensive plan for how it will improve its performance. "I think that will go a long way with the council to set the proper tone that this budget ... has been thoroughly thought out."

The mayor's administration also is seeking $3.5 million in borrowed money to improve roads and sidewalks. It would be in addition to the state for highway funds that Pittsfield receives annually, estimated at slightly more than $1 million for the coming fiscal year.

Commissioner of Public Works and Utilities Bruce Collingwood said the city has "tremendous need for improvements" to many of its better-traveled streets, including Holmes Road, Williams Street and East New Lenox Road. The streets around the Conte Community School also are in need of repair, as are sidewalks around the city.

The $3.5 million likely would be borrowed over a 10-year term and spent over a two-year span. Collingwood said the location and timing of the repair work would be decided with input from the councilors and the mayor.

"It will not be hard to spend it. The needs are significant," he said. "But we will try to look at the high-volume streets, and we want to go into the neighborhoods. How far will we get? I'm not sure at this point."

Ruberto also is proposing to add nonuniformed dispatchers to the Police Department at a cost of $83,401. The new personnel would free up four uniformed officers to patrol the city. That change, however, will likely need the approval of the police officers' union.

Some familiar costs are continuing to rise. The city's employee health insurance will go up by 7.6 percent to $19.8 million. But unlike past years, Pittsfield will no longer be self-insured. Instead, Blue Cross Blue Shield will charge the city a premium and then be responsible for Pittsfield's medical costs.

And the contribution to the city employees' pension fund will increase by 8.8 percent to $7.5 million.

Despite the higher costs and the proposed tax increase, Ruberto said he is optimistic that the council will share his vision for the city in the coming fiscal year.

"We certainly have challenges, but they are challenges that we can most certainly overcome," he said. "I am proud that in Pittsfield we are facing these issues together, and we are making progress."

» At a glance ...

Some key pieces of Mayor James M. Ruberto's $123 million budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins July 1:

$48.7 million for the school system, a 5 percent increase over the current allocation.

$19.8 million for the city's share of its employee health insurance, an increase of 7.6 percent.

$7.5 million contribution to the employee pension fund, an increase of 8.8 percent.

$3.5 million in borrowing to repair roads and sidewalks. That would be in addition to annual state highway funds.

$275,000 to update the Wahconah Park parking lot.

$83,401 to hire additional police dispatchers, freeing up four officers for patrol duties.

Mayor James M. Ruberto, right, outlines the budget yesterday at City Hall to members of the City Council, including Lewis C. Markham Jr., left, and Peter M. Marchetti. Photo by Caroline Bonnivier / Berkshire Eagle Staff

Saturday, May 26, 2007 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Budget forecast clear

By Jack Dew, Berkshire Eagle Staff

The Berkshire Eagle

Sunday, May 27, 2007

PITTSFIELD — Last year, the 11 city councilors fought over every penny in the city's budget, scratching and clawing to reduce the anticipated tax increase by a percentage point.

This year, with an election on the horizon and an even steeper tax hike looming, the councilors seem more content with Mayor James M. Ruberto's proposed spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Several councilors interviewed yesterday said they are more willing to support a higher tax increase, largely because the mayor's administration is proposing to add programs to the schools and to invest in the city's roads.

"I think we were doing the right thing as a council last year when we worked to reduce the tax rate," said Ward 1 Councilor Lewis C. Markham. "But I think we cut deep. ... They say pay me now or pay me later, and I think this is pay me later."

Ruberto's budget proposal would spend a total of $123 million and require a 4.2 percent tax increase on the average home, amounting to about $100 more per year for the average taxpayer.

Last year, Ruberto went to the City Council with a request for a 3.7 percent tax increase. By the end of the budget hearings in June, that number had been trimmed to 2.7 percent, thanks to council cuts. By the time the tax rate came to a final vote in November, it had been reduced even further, to 1.5 percent.

Ward 5 Councilor Jonathan Lothrop said that, last year, Pittsfield received an increase in state aid while the mayor was proposing a level-service budget. Consequently, the councilors felt it was a chance to go easy on the tax rate.

This year is different, he said. The school system needs help to preserve some important programs, including reading instruction and outreach efforts to prepare young children for school. The high school dropout rate has been high, while the four-year graduation rate is low. And Pittsfield's school system is one of nine in Massachusetts to be placed in "corrective action" after the state Department of Education concluded that it had not made overall progress for four straight years.

$2.3M school budget increase

Ruberto is proposing to spend an additional $466,434 for new programs that will target some of these areas, and $505,000 to compensate for grants that will expire at the end of the fiscal year. The total school budget would in-crease by $2.3 million to $48.7 million, a 5 percent jump.

Councilor at large Peter M. Marchetti said that the increased school spending must address the deficient areas. "As long as we are putting money toward a solution rather than throwing money at the problem, then I will feel comfortable," he said.

Councilor at large Matthew M. Kerwood agreed.

"We really need to press the School Department and the School Committee for accountability relative to those new dollars," he said. "A year from now, we need to evaluate if that was money well invested and if the outcome that we were looking for was achieved."

Ruberto has proposed borrowing $3.5 million to repair roads and sidewalks, winning applause from city councilors who are weary of complaints from constituents.

The money would be spent over two years and would be in addition to the roughly $1 million a year that Pittsfield receives from the state for road improvements.

"There is new emphasis this year on the roads," Lothrop said, "which I think have been really neglected for 20 years. Every year we have given (the highway department) a bare-bones budget."

Markham said the mayor is keeping his word: Ruberto championed investment in the downtown over the past three years and promised that the improvements eventually would expand into the city and its neighborhoods.

Road planning in process

Although the plan for the road funds has not been fully formed, Ruberto's budget suggests it will focus on heavily traveled streets, including Holmes Road, East New Lenox Road and Williams Street, along with the neighborhood around Conte Community School.

That means some tangible evidence of taxpayer dollars at work, several councilors said, making it easy to justify the higher bills.

"Some years, the tax rate goes up, but there are cuts in services," Lothrop said. "This year, taxes are going up, but it is the first time in a long time that we have been adding services, trying to improve the roads, trying to improve the schools."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 6:28:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

NEWS ARTICLE:

Council plunges into '08 budget

Eight department appropriations are given preliminary approval by the city — two with no debate at all.

By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff

Thursday, May 31, 2007

PITTSFIELD — In the first of five hearings on Mayor James M. Ruberto's proposed $123 million fiscal 2008 city budget, the City Council last night unanimously gave preliminary approval to eight individual department requests.

Two of those requests, a $105,292 appropriation for the City Council and $1,020 for the Board of Appeals, were approved with no debate. The City Council budget contains no increase from the current fiscal year.

Other appropriations given preliminary approval include: $923,820 for the Berkshire Athenaeum; $293,715 for building inspectors; $335,880 for the Council on Aging; $164,349 for Veterans Services; $60,756 for the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP); and $175,545 for the mayor's office. The City Clerk's budget, scheduled to be discussed last night, was rescheduled for the council's fifth and final hearing on June 19.

The second budget hearing will take place tonight, when the council will consider appropriations for the Pittsfield Municipal Airport, the water and sewer enterprise funds and public works and utilities. The third and fourth budget hearings are scheduled for June 6 and June 11. The Police and Fire department budgets will be considered on June 11.

The council will consider the School Department budget, which makes up over a quarter of the entire $123 million proposal, at the final budget hearing on June 19.

Ruberto's plan would raise spending by 5.2 percent over the current fiscal year, an increase of $6.5 million. If the budget is approved, the property tax bill for the city's average homeowner is expected to increase 4.2 percent, from $2381.18 annually on a house worth $180,000 to $2,489.40. The city's property tax rate would be set at $13.78 per $1,000 in assessed value.

To decrease the impact of the tax rate, the city is expected to use $2.5 million of the $3.9 million in its free cash account. Ruberto's proposal would leave the city $4.4 million under the estimated fiscal 2008 levy limit determined by the provisions of Proposition 21/2, city treasurer G. Richard Bordeau told the council last night.

Mayor 'frustrated'

"I'm every bit as frustrated as I expect you to be that your taxes are going to be raised this year," Ruberto said, as he addressed the council before the individual department requests were discussed.

But Ruberto said this year's budget is "really based on need" and contains funding for "critical elements" that Pittsfield needs, "if we want to go to the next level."

As their appropriations indicate, the departments the council discussed last night are some of the smallest in the city.

Berkshire Athenaeum Director Ronald Latham said the city library's budget represented a 3.5 percent increase from the current fiscal year, which included a 2.4 percent rise in negotiated step raises and longevity increases for employees. He said municipalities are required to give libraries annual funding increases of 3.5 percent in order for them to receive state aid.

The building inspector's appropriation includes a $5,000 increase in temporary labor costs, which recently retired department head William Thornton said is needed to digitize city building permits that go back to 1940.

Veterans agent Rosanne M. Frieri said her department's appropriation includes a 10.4 percent increase in program services, but that 75 percent of that $100,000 cost is eligible for reimbursement from the federal government.

Fiscal 2008 budget items given early approval by the Pittsfield City Council:

$105,292 for the City Council.

$1,020 for the Board of Appeals.

$923,820 for the Berkshire Athenaeum.

$293,715 for building inspectors.

$335,880 for the Council on Aging.

$164,349 for Veterans Services.

$60,756 for the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP).

$175,545 for the mayor's office.

Thursday, May 31, 2007 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

RE: Jimmy Ruberto only represents the elite

Dear Berkshire Bloggers, News Media, Pols, & the People:

To recap the news article, below, most of Jimmy Ruberto's "accomplishments" are pending state, federal and other grant and fund-raising financing and regulatory approvals. The following items that fit this description are:

1. $1.8 million in Federal funds secured by U.S. Rep. John Olver, D-Amherst, for the city's Streetscape program that's still pending.

2. The long-planned reconfiguration of Park Square to make it more driver-friendly also has been subject to delays, although Ruberto now expects state funding next year.

3. The Beacon cinema complex, which Ruberto has long touted as key to the ultimate revitalization of the North Street business district, also has been hampered by complications.

4. Another linchpin of downtown revival, the Colonial Theatre,..."Obviously, it's going to continue to face financial challenges," Ruberto acknowledges,..."...It needs a base of contributions to continue to see it operating at break-even."

Ruberto shows a skewed focus about community. Instead of investing in the people he is theoretically serving as Mayor, Jimmy Ruberto favors the second homeowners because they have money. To recap, Ruberto talks about the need for the people to see the value of Pittsfield's capital investments targetted towards tourism with a major focus on revitalizing the downtown business district.

5. Ruberto stresses the goal of attracting "a broader base of people who feel some affiliation and commitment to this community" — he cites an influx of second-home residents to Pittsfield...

Ruberto supports the sleazy political tactics of Berkshire County District Attorney David Capeless! Instead of reassuring local young adults that law enforcement will treat them fairly to protect and serve them, Ruberto supports Capeless after he harshly persecuted 7 young adult Great Barrington first time drug offenders with no intent of selling drugs to school children on the technicality that they were within the school zone. This makes sense because Capeless' logic was that Pittsfield did it, so it makes it right to do it in Great Barrington too. Capeless' ulterior motive was to marry himself into the incestuous Pittsfield Political Machine so he could be a career Berkshire County District Attorney. David Capeless showed himself to be a typical politician by placing expediency over integrity! NO WONDER WHY A MAJORITY OF BERKSHIRE COUNTY YOUNG ADULTS DO NOT LIVE IN BERKSHIRE COUNTY WHEN THEY ARE ADULTS!

6. "...We have a district attorney (David Capeless) for whom I have tremendous respect."

Instead of solving crime on a community level where the police are part of the local neighborhoods, Ruberto supports using the Massachusetts State Police who have no real connection to the faces and social problems of the area.

7. Ruberto points to the increased presence of state police units in the city's neighborhoods as a result of state funding initiated by former state Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. ...

Ruberto supports the gentrification of North Street.

8. Ruberto cites the upsurge of new and renovated residential developments downtown.

On businesses, Ruberto supports Sabic buying GE Plastics, PEDA's potential to attract future business tenants, .

9. GE provided Pittsfield with a few hundred of the best paying jobs. Instead of recognizing the reality that Berkshire County is the # 1 region in the commonwealth for JOB LOSSES, Ruberto states, "We won the lottery..."

10. The PEDA site was never cleaned up, but rather only capped, and the caps only have a lifespan of 25 years before the whole process has to be started all over again to contain the PCBs from causing thousands of local residents cancer in Pittsfield and down through the state of Connecticut. Ruberto is looking for more financial support from Boston; "it's longer and later in the game than I thought we'd before we see some building on it, but all the preparatory work is going to make a better finished product." PEDA WAS A FAILURE FROM THE TIME THE then ALCOHOLIC Mayor Gerry Doyle signed the Consent Decree to cap rather than clean up this de facto Superfund Site. The tragedy is that Ruberto and the other Pittsfield insiders know damn well that in another few decades, Pittsfield is either going to have to come up with the money to clean up this polluted site or negligently allow thousands of local people to contract cancer from Pittsfield down through the state of Connecticut.

Pittsfield Public Schools have never been worse off in many key indicators, including high drop out rates, high truancy rates, low test scores, high teen pregnancy rates, and the like. In response to all of these harsh realities, Ruberto points to the bolting Superintendent instead of to his own failures of leadership.

11. "I'm very happy with where we are, taking the next step toward addressing the problems. I'm very disappointed that (Superintendent) Kathleen Darlington will not be extending her contract because she has taken some bold steps in ensuring that on-site leadership at different schools be strengthened, and ensuring that math, English and science curriculum be given support, and that she was willing to talk about and address the real problems — graduation rates, MCAS scores and other trouble areas."

Despite Pittsfield Public Schools being among the worse performing in the commonwealth, Ruberto states the following:

12. My belly tells me, one high-tech, new comprehensive school is going to have everybody in Berkshire County saying, 'I wish I could get my kid in there.' I want 'Wow,' I want people to come to Pittsfield to see our school system and our facility. I want the steak that has tremendous sizzle."

The news article ends with Ruberto pointing to the Pittsfield Airport.

13. The mayor expects the construction to get under way later this year for what's now a $35 million project — 10 percent from the city, and 90 percent from the state and federal governments — "but there's a process you continually have to address, to get funding that always is challenging for the commitments that you've given. You get forced to jump through hoops, but the funding schedule is all covered." He hopes for completion of the airport expansion by the end of 2010.

In conclusion, Jimmy Ruberto only represents the elite, not the grassroots interests of the people of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Sincerely,

Jonathan A. Melle

--------------------

Ruberto seeks results to projects

By Clarence Fanto, Special to The Eagle
The Berkshire Eagle
Tuesday, June 05, 2007

PITTSFIELD

"Leadership, for reaction and results, has a shelf-life and once you move beyond the shelf-life, you're no longer at your maximum effectiveness," declares Pittsfield Mayor James Ruberto, who's running for re-election to his third term this November but has no intention of seeking to become the city's "mayor for life."
Nevertheless, during an extensive interview recently at his City Hall office, Ruberto, 60, makes it clear that he wants to see the end result of the major projects and priorities he has established since taking office in January 2004. (He lost to Sara Hathaway in his first bid for the corner office in November 2001.)
Ruberto — a Pittsfield native who returned to the city with his wife, Ellen, also born here, after 30 years in plastics and related industries — voices some impatience with the length of time needed to get major initiatives off the ground. As an example, he cites $1.8 million in Federal funds secured by U.S. Rep. John Olver, D-Amherst, for the city's Streetscape program that's still pending.
"There are so many rigidities you confront in government," he complains. "There are so many things that you hope would be started or in progress that are still on the drawing board."
The long-planned reconfiguration of Park Square to make it more driver-friendly also has been subject to delays, although Ruberto now expects state funding next year. The cost has ballooned from $300,000 or $400,000 three years ago to about $1 million now. The goal is to allow northbound traffic to proceed in a straight line rather than traversing the rotary; traffic from West Street could loop directly into northbound lanes.
The Beacon cinema complex, which Ruberto has long touted as key to the ultimate revitalization of the North Street business district, also has been hampered by complications. Construction had been expected to begin in February, but the National Parks Service, which has jurisdiction over the historical qualifications needed for tax credits, filed a series of objections to the planned restoration of the historic Kinnell and Kresge buildings that will house the theater at 49-55 North St.
As a result, the Internal Revenue Service has not green-lighted the cinema complex as a qualified historic tax-credit project. Ruberto says negotiations are proceeding with the National Parks Service and some of the structural elements of the plan are being revised to gain historic tax-credit status. The extent of further delay is expected to be announced shortly; Ruberto now hopes for a 2009 opening of the anticipated six-screen, 1,200-seat facility — at least two cinemas with stadium seating. The mayor projects that, once completed, the cinema center would draw 200,000 people a year to North Street — a big chunk of the mayor's goal of half a million visitors.
"I'm disappointed by the delay, but I refuse to be discouraged," Ruberto declares. "We're going to build that movie theater! We've had so many obstacles, and we've confronted so many issues in trying to get this project off the ground. There have been so many times that I saw the potential for this project to be dead, so I absolutely believe we will build it on the sheer will of all the parties involved — the local business community, the state government, the developer Richard Stanley, who's knee-deep in seeing this through, and the city."
'Absolutely thrilled' with Fleming
Another linchpin of downtown revival, the Colonial Theatre, wins high marks from Ruberto, who says he's "absolutely thrilled" with the leadership of Executive Director David Fleming.
"He's solidly committed to making certain that the community is involved, and the programming to this point has served a wide audience and was well-received. I'm particularly pleased that he was able to open that theater to community activities and events, and that all people are coming to see the theater as a community asset," the mayor says.
"Obviously, it's going to continue to face financial challenges," Ruberto acknowledges, "and my hope and expectation is that the broader element of the community has seen value in the theater and needs to be engaged to support the financial needs. It needs a base of contributions to continue to see it operating at break-even."
Ruberto stresses the goal of attracting "a broader base of people who feel some affiliation and commitment to this community" — he cites an influx of second-home residents to Pittsfield and he hopes to see more second-homers from elsewhere in the county coming to the arts and entertainment venues in the city.
Drug-related crime a reality
The mayor acknowledges the perception and reality of drug-related crime in the city — "this is a county-wide problem and Pittsfield only serves as a place where those dealers find cover, but the tentacles reach everywhere."
Ruberto, the brother of the late District Attorney Anthony Ruberto, emphasizes that he has been committed to full staffing and funding of the police department's drug detective unit — "a top-notch, fully committed drug task force that is addressing the problem, and we're always going to have a problem for as long as people live. We have a district attorney (David Capeless) for whom I have tremendous respect."
Ruberto cites Capeless's commitment "not only to the prosecution side, but also to the prevention and rehabilitation side" and is encouraged by recent drug busts because "it tells the dealers that it might not be today, but it will be for sure sometime tomorrow that your day is up."
He points to the increased presence of state police units in the city's neighborhoods as a result of state funding initiated by former state Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. and now supported by state Rep. Christopher Speranzo, D-Pittsfield, and state Sen. Benjamin Downing.
Major developments
The upsurge of new and renovated residential developments downtown, especially in the upper North Street area, is being cheered on by Ruberto, who sees a 24-hour neighborhood as "critically important" to the vibrancy of downtown.
"When you see residentials on Maplewood off North Street, on North Street at the intersection of Linden and Bradford, you say, 'Wow!' The upper part of North Street is now an incredibly vibrant spot," Ruberto declares. He also cites David Carver's Clock Tower condominium development and Beth Pearson's New Amsterdam Project on Center Street at Bradford — a 31-unit development that includes market-rate as well as affordable housing, "the perfect gateway to the West Side."
"You have to go from the inside out," Ruberto explains, "because the inside, North Street, is traditionally and historically the soul of the city and until people can be proud of where they live, they're going to have a problem being ambassadors, and until North Street becomes something again, people are not going to like what they see in their downtown and they're not going to have that sense of pride. Cities have problems, we have the mixture of diversity and the dynamic of change ... and we have to be willing to expect that this community will have more social problems than any other, and not hide from them, but try to address them."
On other subjects, Ruberto made these points:
Saudi Basic Industries doesn't "want to do anything to distract from a seamless acquisition" of GE Plastics or "interfere with the way this company is being operated. Over time, it will be the local management of this new company that will ultimately be the decider of whether to grow the headquarters in Pittsfield or whether to find other spots. What we're doing today in Pittsfield is going to be more than ample evidence that Pittsfield should remain, for the long term, the home of whatever this new plastics company calls itself. We won the lottery, though; of the suitors, Sabic was the one I was rooting for because they've got deep pockets, absolute access to the raw material, and they were the least likely of all the suitors to carve pieces up to support the acquisition. They have no real presence in the United States, so many of the corporate services supplied by GE from outside the area to the employees and the business here will now have to be replicated within the company, and I see that as a source of growth."
Development of the William Stanley Business Park by the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority has been "a long, frustrating journey to get here. ... We're behind the curve, but now I understand how steep the curve really is. Today, we own the property and now we're going to invest money in the infrastructure, for creating the roadways and the landscaping, to put up a building of our own and in making certain we can effectively market the properties. It's hard to sell a dream when the dream is nothing but a brownfield, with some buildings coming down and some weeds over here. It's now time for us to dress up the facility and allow people to see the potential to be a highly sophisticated, downtown business park." He's looking for more financial support from Boston; "it's longer and later in the game than I thought we'd before we see some building on it, but all the preparatory work is going to make a better finished product." Ruberto expects a major announcement of the first new tenant of the business park this month. "This is a Pittsfield-based, well-recognized, highly positioned company that has experienced tremendous growth. . . a company that will be bringing new 35 to 50 jobs to Pittsfield and broadening the scope of the work that they do."
The proposed city budget meets nearly all of the school department's needs, according to Ruberto, including an English-learning project in the elementary schools; a middle-school initiative to support of English and arts; and a high-school program to focus on ninth-grade, at-risk students. "I'm very happy with where we are, taking the next step toward addressing the problems. I'm very disappointed that (Superintendent) Kathleen Darlington will not be extending her contract because she has taken some bold steps in ensuring that on-site leadership at different schools be strengthened, and ensuring that math, English and science curriculum be given support, and that she was willing to talk about and address the real problems — graduation rates, MCAS scores and other trouble areas."
On the possible consolidation and merger of Pittsfield and Taconic High, "My bias is to say that one high school would better serve the students. I don't believe it will necessarily save any amount of money; I believe it will improve the competition and quality of instruction, and one location properly expanded can be built to bring in all the modern technology that will make this one of those model new schools that are being driven within the academic community." Ruberto acknowledges it will take a lot of work, planning and money to expand, upgrade and overhaul Taconic High as the city's single high school, "and a lot of creative foresight to keep the school feeling small inside of more square feet." A consulting firm will start reviewing "all elements of school improvement" this fall, including one traditional high school and one technical-vocation school, or one comprehensive high school. "We can't support two comprehensive high schools, trying to duplicate all the courses we have in both schools is going to be incredibly challenging, so before we face that fact and start wringing our hands over cost and effectiveness, let's study the issue and address it now. The politics of the issue have to be secondary because the reality of the issue is to how best we educate our children and in what type of environment and cost conditions. It's a very critical issue. My belly tells me, one high-tech, new comprehensive school is going to have everybody in Berkshire County saying, 'I wish I could get my kid in there.' I want 'Wow,' I want people to come to Pittsfield to see our school system and our facility. I want the steak that has tremendous sizzle." Ruberto says that of all he has accomplished in office, he's most proud that "we've completely reversed the notion of any teacher layoffs by level-funding the school budget, and that we were able to resolve the (Pittsfield Municipal) airport issue by saving us court time that could have delayed the project further." He believes it was necessary to "compromise" the original version of the expansion plan in order to achieve the runway extension and the safety enhancements at the facility. "We are not now threatened by any lawsuits by anybody as we move this project forward," he declares. The mayor expects the construction to get under way later this year for what's now a $35 million project — 10 percent from the city, and 90 percent from the state and federal governments — "but there's a process you continually have to address, to get funding that always is challenging for the commitments that you've given. You get forced to jump through hoops, but the funding schedule is all covered." He hopes for completion of the airport expansion by the end of 2010.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007 5:16:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Reopening of Pittsfield’s Fred Garner Park Marks Progress in Cleanup Effort

Release date: 06/06/2007

Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Pittsfield, Mass. – June 6, 2007) – A ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the reopening of the Fred Garner Park in Pittsfield, Mass. helps to underscore the advances being made by federal, state and local partners in the long-term effort to address PCB contamination in the western Massachusetts community.

Officials convened today to celebrate the formal reopening of the park and soccer field on Pomeroy Avenue in Pittsfield. Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office joined with Pittsfield Mayor James M. Ruberto, and other local officials to mark the milestone.

“Just as Pittsfield children will soon be scoring goals in this rejuvenated park, I am proud that EPA, the state and the community have reached another milestone in our efforts to ensure a cleaner environment for the citizens of this community,” said Varney, who toured the refurbished and transformed riverfront park after a ribbon cutting to celebrate the park’s opening to the public. “The progress we’ve achieved over the past few years - including restoring this urban park - is impressive, and it's a credit to the hard work and commitment of the many parties involved in this huge endeavor."

The park was closed to the public in January 2005 and has been utilized as a construction support area during the cleanup and restoration work in and along the 1 ½ mile reach of the Housatonic river – between the Lyman Street Bridge and the confluence of the river’s East and West branches at Fred Garner Park.

In addition to the newly constructed and expanded youth soccer field, the park now also features enhancements such as a new guard rail installed around park, a new roadway and parking lot, a new canoe launch and a new walking path constructed along the riverbank in the rear of the park. Further, more than 1200 trees and shrubs have been planted on the park property.

Pittsfield Mayor James Ruberto commented, “Re-opening this beautiful park symbolizes Pittsfield’s progress toward being the healthiest and greenest small city in the northeast. With this rededication we also celebrate the power of teamwork and collaboration between the EPA, the city of Pittsfield, and people in the public and private sector who believe in achieving positive results by working together. I thank you, and so do the families and children who will play here this season and for years to come.”

The welcome milestone of reopening Fred Garner Park also marks the progress of further work being planned to address PCB contamination in the “Rest of River” portion of the Housatonic River south of Pittsfield. The river cleanup is a key component of a comprehensive PCB cleanup plan approved by a federal judge in October 2000 for the Housatonic River and Berkshire County in western Massachusetts.

More information on EPA’s cleanup efforts in Pittsfield (epa.gov/region1/ge)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007 5:12:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

NEWS ARTICLE:

[PITTSFIELD] Public school official resigns
Deputy Superintendent Kaiser says leaving with one year left on his contract is 'better for Pittsfield.'
By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff
The Berkshire Eagle

Thursday, June 07, 2007

PITTSFIELD — The School Department will need to replace a second top-level administrator, as Deputy Superintendent Henry "Bud" Kaiser plans to resign with one year left on his three-year contract.

Kaiser, 65, who returned to Pittsfield in 2005 after spending 15 years as an administrator in the South Colonie (N.Y.) Public School System, said his resignation, effective at the end of the current school year, "would be better for Pittsfield," but declined to go into specifics.

"I feel that there are a lot of quality administrators in this district that can take Pittsfield to a better place," said Kaiser, whose contract expires June 30, 2008. "I'm confident of that. I don't want to say any more than that."

Kaiser did say his resignation was "my decision."

"My contract runs out next year," he added. "But I thought things would be better if I moved on this year."

The School Committee is expected to officially accept Kaiser's resignation at its next meeting on June 13, but the School Department has already begun to advertise for his replacement.

Assistant superintendent resigning, too

Kaiser follows Assistant Superintendent for Personnel and Negotiations William J. Cameron Jr., who announced in April that he would resign at the end of the school year to become superintendent of schools in Salem. The School Department also has begun advertising for Cameron's replacement.

The resignations leave a leadership void within the School Department because Kaiser and Cameron are the second- and third-ranked administrators, respectively, behind current Superintendent of Schools Katherine E. Darlington.

Darlington leaving in 2008

To further complicate matters, Darlington, a finalist for the superintendent's position in Malden earlier this year, has already said that she will leave Pittsfield after her three-year contract expires in June 2008.

Kaiser came back to Pittsfield two years ago after then Deputy Superintendent Linda J. Porter retired. The School Committee hired Kaiser before it hired a superintendent, although the board did not approve his contract until Darlington was already on board.

Mayor James M. Ruberto, who is an ex-officio member of the School Committee, cast the lone dissenting vote against hiring Kaiser because he believed that the decision should have been Darlington's prerogative.

Ruberto said that he wants to speak with Darlington and School Committee Chairwoman Kathleen A. Amuso before commenting on Kaiser's resignation. Darlington did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

Kaiser served as the Pittsfield Public Schools' mathematics, science and health coordinator before leaving for South Colonie, where his last position was as science curriculum coordinator. He does not intend to retire.

"I'm looking for work," Kaiser said. "I want to continue in education, in Berkshire County preferably."

During the two years since he returned to Pittsfield, Kaiser has worked with Pittsfield's 13 school principals to improve student learning in the classroom.

"I thought that, in his two years, good things happened under his leadership," said Pittsfield High School Principal Howard J. Eberwein III.

Thursday, June 07, 2007 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Pittsfield

Council approves retiree benefit
By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff

The Berkshire Eagle

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

PITTSFIELD — Municipal employees will be able to pay health insurance benefits at the same rate that was in effect at their retirement if the state Legislature approves an act designed specifically for that purpose.

The City Council last night unanimously approved the submission of a special act to the state Legislature, which, if approved, would close a potential loophole that developed when a majority of the city's collective bargaining units agreed to double their health insurance premiums from 10 to 20 percent.

As it stands now, city employees who were active when the collective bargaining units agreed to double their members' health insurance premiums go back to paying 10 percent of that cost when they retire.

To address this issue, several state communities have responded by requiring all of their retirees to pay 20 percent of their health insurance premiums, Mayor James M. Ruberto said.

Closing the gap

Ruberto said closing the gap in this manner creates an unequal situation because it means long-term retirees also have to pay 20 percent of their health insurance premiums. Under the terms of his plan, Ruberto said those who retired before the employee contributions were doubled would continue to pay 10 percent, while recent retirees would stay at the 20 percent contribution.

"In order to close the loophole, there are a number of options," Ruberto said. "Most communities increase it for all their retirees. I've chosen not to do that."

Councilor at large Tricia Farley-Bouvier said she was in favor of Ruberto's plan.

"I think it comes down to one word, and that word is fair," Farley-Bouvier said. "I think it would be unacceptable to have all retirees pay 20 percent. For teachers who retired 20 to 25 years ago, there's a big difference between now and when they retired."

During the public comment period, retired teacher John Fitzgerald and Scott Eldridge, a representative of the United Educators of Pittsfield, which represents some 500 city teachers, urged the council not to approve the measure.

Eldridge said Ruberto's plan was the "wrong approach," adding, "I hope this isn't an attempt to circumvent collective bargaining. Doubling the insurance plan will cripple the retirees." He said a better approach would be for the city to "negotiate" the issue.

Ruberto said the city has "no legal responsibility" to discuss the issue with Pittsfield's Health Insurance Advisory Committee "or anybody," and believed the mayor could bypass the City Council and simply issue an executive order.

"I'm not sure if the mayor needs City Council approval or not," Ruberto said. "I decided to come to the City Council with this legislation, which I think is fair and addresses the increasing costs."

In response to a question from Councilor at large Matthew M. Kerwood, Ruberto said he had originally brought a different proposal before the Health Insurance Advisory Committee that would require all retired municipal employees under the age of 65 to pay 20 percent of their health insurance premiums.

"At that time, I had a more far-reaching proposal," he said. "This proposal developed out of ideas that were thrown out."

Thursday, June 14, 2007 8:57:00 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Pittsfield School Committee Budget item irks mayor

Ruberto says $65K is too much more to ask of taxpayers facing a $50M spending plan.

By Scott Stafford, Berkshire Eagle Staff

The Berkshire Eagle

Thursday, June 14, 2007

PITTSFIELD — Mayor James M. Ruberto strongly chastised the Pittsfield School Committee last night for adding a funding request to the proposed budget, even though it was already submitted to City Council in mid-May.

The $65,000 funding request, which was changed from essential to critical in budgetary priority, would expand a pilot program for truancy prevention and dramatically reduce the dropout rate, according to school district officials.

Ruberto's objection was not with the effectiveness of the program, but with the late date of the funding request.

"I am outright disappointed with my colleagues tonight," he said, responding to the funding proposal during the regular School Committee meeting at Taconic High School. "This city has to understand the importance of education, and this mayor has done everything to demonstrate that. But this committee should have subtracted something to allow for this additional $65,000 earlier in the process."

To preface the proposal earlier in the meeting, the School Committee heard a report from Pittsfield High School Principal Howard J. Eberwein III, Taconic High School Principal Douglas McNally and Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano Jr. about a test program for reclaiming students already in the process of dropping out of school.

McNally indicated that, with the help of the sheriff's department, they had graduated seven of eight students at risk of dropping out, and recovered seven out of seven students in the lower grades who had been in the process of dropping out.

Following the presentation, the mayor indicated that this was obviously an effective and important funding priority but that he would vote against the proposal because he had already advocated a $2.3 million increase, or 5 percent, in the school budget.

"We are asking the taxpayers to pay for an unheard-of increase," he said. "I don't know how much we can stretch it before we earn the disdain of the taxpayer. In a budget of almost $50 million, if we can't find somewhere to cut $65,000, then shame on us."

School Committee member Angel Ramirez contended that there was "no fluff" in the budget and said he knew of no areas where funding could be reduced to pay for the additional truancy reduction program.

School Committee member Daltrey Turner wondered whether there might be a way to "cut $1,000 here and $1,000 there" from various budget items to come up with the funds.

Following a motion to accept the increase in the budget proposal, all committee members present voted for the $65,000 increase except for Ruberto.

He indicated that he would support the proposal in City Council, but said that he was unhappy with the School Committee's inability to make it a priority earlier in the process.

Thursday, June 14, 2007 9:56:00 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Design delays cinema project -
Concerns over historic impact of renovation set back funding

City

The Berkshire Eagle

Saturday, June 16, 2007

By Scott Stafford
Berkshire Eagle Staff

PITTSFIELD — The Beacon Cinema project on North Street has been delayed by a concern with the design's impact on historical aspects of the Kresge-Kinnell building.

The National Park Service has delayed the $12.6 million cinema project in downtown Pittsfield because the design did not retain enough of the historic elements of the facade and entryway interior to qualify it for $900,000 in federal historic tax credits.

Officials are hoping to resolve the issue and start construction before the snow flies. The hope had been to open the cinema as early as spring 2008. It now may be pushed back to 2009.

"We've had a bit of a setback," said Deanna Ruffer, the city's community development director. "The National Park Service was not willing to certify the project for federal tax credits as it was designed. So we're redesigning it to meet these requirements because the federal tax credits are an integral part of the financing structure."

She said that of the 10 criteria used by the National Park Service, seven were met and three were not.

Richard Stanley, an investor and managing partner in the project, is working with a consultant to come up with a way to redesign the building to allay the concerns of the park service.

Ruffer said that the interior of the entryway has some historic elements that federal officials said should be preserved, as does the entire facade, in order to qualify for the tax credits.

The project has been eight years in the making and calls for a state-of-the-art, six-screen cinema complex to be built inside the Kresge-Kinnell building at 49-55 North St.

The main entrance will be through a glass-enclosed walkway tunnel from the lobby of the Central Block building next door. Plans also include a retail space facing North Street and a restaurant facing McKay Street.

The venue will have a capacity to seat about 1,000 people and will include two viewing rooms with stadium-style seating that officials estimate will draw 220,000 people annually to North Street.

Ruffer said Mayor James M. Ruberto is still behind the project and fully committed to seeing the construction start soon.

"Given what has occurred, we are discussing some demolition and mobilization in parallel with the redesign efforts," Ruffer noted.

Stanley was not available to comment.

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Pittsfield Restructuring gets OK

By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff

The Berkshire Eagle

Saturday, June 16, 2007

PITTSFIELD — The City Council has given final approval to an ordinance that will restructure the department that oversees the city's 29 parks and playgrounds.

The ordinance, introduced by Mayor James M. Ruberto in April, divides the Community Services Department's current duties between the departments of Community Development and Building Maintenance.

Community Services Director Jim McGrath will become a member of the Department of Community Services, where his duties will include looking for grant opportunities. The grounds maintenance duties will now be the Building Maintenance Department's responsibility.

The council on Tuesday night voted 9-1 in favor of giving final approval to the ordinance with only Ward 6 Councilor Daniel L. Bianchi in opposition. Ward 7 Councilor Anthony V. Maffuccio was not in attendance.

Expressing concerns similar to the ones he voiced when the council approved a first reading of the ordinance two weeks ago, Bianchi said the measure will eliminate the traditional position of having an independent advocate for the city's parks.

"I think this is something where the influence in the parks will be diluted, and I'm very concerned about that," Bianchi said.

"I know this is supposed to be done for governmental efficiency, but I see more problems," he added.

Councilor at large Matthew M. Kerwood and Ward 4 Councilor Michael L. Ward also expressed concerns about the new ordinance, but elected to vote in favor of its enactment.

"I don't have a 100 percent good feeling about it," said Ward, who added that the Park Commission has also expressed its concerns. "But if it fails we can revisit it."

He also expressed concern that the restructuring will eliminate a clerk's position in the Community Services Department, and that the job's current holder, 20-year city employee Tina L. Bernat-Samia, will only be allowed to interview for, instead of being appointed to, the newly created job of recreation director. Community Development Director Deanna L. Ruffer said that Bernat-Samia has retired.

Ruffer said the restructuring will give Pittsfield three advocates for the city's parks: herself, McGrath and Ernest Fortini, who heads the Building Maintenance Department.

"This is a win-win for the city's open space and parks," Ruffer said on Thursday. "We're already dedicating more resources than we had previously."

In other business, the council voted 10-0 in favor of giving final approval to an ordinance that waives the residency requirement for the city's building commissioner. The vote was taken without any debate. Maffuccio has been the most persistent critic of this proposal.

The council also voted unanimously to refer Mayor James M. Ruberto's request to borrow $5.7 million for a variety of fiscal 2008 capital expenditures to its budget hearing on Monday, when the measure will be considered for preliminary approval.

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School Committee hurts own cause

[A Berkshire Eagle] Editorial

Monday, June 18, 2007

The pilot program for truancy prevention the Pittsfield School Committee added to its budget proposal at the last minute may be worth every penny of its $65,000, but Mayor James Ruberto was right to chastise the committee for its late addition. The School Committee is given to putting forth laundry lists of desired programs without prioritizing them or taking into consideration the challenges the city faces in balancing the budget without overwhelming taxpayers. Its casual approach to budget realities undermines the efforts of the mayor, who has been an aggressive advocate for the city's school system. While City Council elections have been aggressive and issue-oriented in recent years, the School Committee elections tend to fly beneath the radar. We hope that will change this fall, as the city faces many educational issues from funding to a possible merger of high schools to replacing administrators that should get a full airing.

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Monday, June 18, 2007 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

NEWS ARTICLE:

THE PITTSFIELD GAZETTE ONLINE

Mayor unveils $123 million budget plan

31.MAY.07

Mayor James Ruberto has proposed boosting the city budget by more than $6.5 million.

On Friday, the mayor unveiled a spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1 that would put municipal spending over $123 million for Fiscal Year 2008.

The mayor termed the greater than five percent increase ambitious but also necessary, with the biggest share of the hike going to the school department.

Ruberto said that the budget would boost annual taxes for the typical homeowners by 4.2 percent or about $100.

Early reaction from city councilors proved positive. During the first of five budget review meetings on Wednesday, councilors didn’t make any motions to reduce line items — a marked change from recent years.

“This budget is ambitious and I share your frustration over the necessity to increase taxes, but we’re trying to build a community and we need the revenues,” said Ruberto.

The mayor proposes using $2.5 million of leftover “free cash” toward the spending plan. Otherwise the rate hike would be much higher. He also is proposing that the city borrow an additional $5.7 million for a capital budget.
Councilors will continue their budget review with informal 7 p.m. sessions on May 31, June 6, June 11 and June 19.

So what will this bigger, friendlier spending plan buy?

• Ruberto proposes increasing the school budget by $2.3 million to $48.7 million on the operational side, less than school officials wanted but still more than what they termed a “level services” budget.

• The budget for the city’s share of health insurance for municipal employees and retirees, including in the school department, will increase more than $1.4 million to $19.8 million.

• Following a mandated funding schedule, the city will increase its allocation to the municipal pension account by more than $600,000 to total nearly $7.5 million.

The mayor said it’s crucial for the city to not just continue all current school department initiatives but to provide funds to cover new efforts to improve standardized test scores and reduce dropout rates.
“We need to invest in the things we know are lacking,” he said.

Ruberto plans to use the capital budget to launch a multiyear effort to repair and replace roads & sidewalks. “Clearly we’ll move forward in the area of public works,” he said.

The mayor told councilors that this commitment is a direct response to their requests. “You have been imploring me to spend more and give more attention to streets and sidewalks in our neighborhoods,” he said.

The total multiyear expenditure is targeted at $3.5 million on top of the approximately $850,000 the city receives each year in designated state highway aid.

The mayor vowed to continue efforts to increase revenues through initiatives such as pursuing tax delinquents and auctioning surplus property. “We will continue that aggressive posture,” he said.

Ruberto expressed regret about the need to increase tax rates but termed Pittsfield “a city on the rise.”

“We’ve accomplished so much in the past three-and-one-half years,” he said. “People and industry and investors continue to find Pittsfield, Massachusetts to be a city worthy of investment ... The budget we’re looking at now in the city is based on need.”

Finance director G. Richard Bordeau said that under the proposal the city will be raising $56.2 million in local property tax revenues. Under the state levy system, city officials could opt to collect more than $60 million of property taxes.

While the “average” single-family homeowner is projected to see a 4.17 percent tax bill increase, the projected impact on a “typical” commercial property owner — who has a higher tax rate — would be a 2.91 percent increase.

During Wednesday’s initial informal review, councilors unanimously endorsed the proposed budgets for the Berkshire Athenaeum, building inspectors’ department, council on aging, RSVP program, veterans’ office, zoning board of appeals, city council and mayor’s office.

Library director Ron Latham told councilors the proposed library budget is sufficient to prevent the city from having to seek a state waiver, as occurred in some prior years in order to preserve state funding for the Athenaeum.

Acting building commissioner Bill Thornton reported that his office currently has a nearly three-week backlog processing building permits. He said a new clerk position should ease that problem. Thornton also reported that collected fees will cover nearly the entire $300,000 budget for the department.

Thursday, June 21, 2007 7:43:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Council OKs school budget

By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff

The Berkshire Eagle

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

PITTSFIELD — Following a long debate in its fifth and final budget hearing last night, the City Council voted unanimously to give preliminary approval to Mayor James M. Ruberto's entire $123 million fiscal 2008 budget proposal, shortly after it approved the city's $48.7 million contribution to the school budget.

The council, which cut no funding from the mayor's budget proposal during five hearings over the last three weeks, is expected to grant final approval to the city budget on June 26 at its next regularly scheduled meeting.

The city's contribution to the school budget, the largest item in the fiscal 2008 spending plan, represents a $2.3 million or 6.3 percent increase over last year. The $48.7 million city contribution, combined with an additional $600,000 in revenue from the school choice, Richmond tuition and revolving accounts, will bring the total school budget to $49.3 million, around $400,000 shy of the $49.7 million spending plan that the School Committee approved in May.

As a result, the School Department will be unable to fund all of the $822,000 in "critical" requests it has proposed for some 16 full-time positions designed to provide academic support at all educational levels throughout the school district. Most of those positions are geared for programs designed to improve Pittsfield's low graduation and dropout rates.

Once the council gives final approval to the city budget, Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance Sally Douglas said the School Committee will go back and tweak its budget to try and fund all of those requests.

The School Department had asked the city to fund some of those positions, which includes five teachers that were normally funded by federal Title 1 funding. The federal government through the state Department of Education has suggested the city schools use their Title 1 funding next year for academic support programs after the city's public schools were placed in "corrective action" because they failed to make their Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards on the MCAS tests for three years in a row.

Ruberto said the School Department made legitimate funding requests like all other city departments and that he and City Treasurer G. Richard Bordeau decided to fund programs that would be sustainable and solve some of the School Department's problems.

"I think a 6.3 percent increase is unprecedented in Berkshire County," Ruberto said. "We're here to invest in education."

During discussion, School Department officials conducted a detailed presentation that focused primarily on the $822,000 in critical requests. School Committee Chairwoman Kathleen A. Amuso said the School Department this year approached the budget process in a different way, focusing more on districtwide issues instead of the needs of individual schools.

"I know this is difficult, but we wanted to present the budget to you in a different way this year to show you what we went through," Amuso said.

Many councilors said they were impressed.

"In the four years that I've been here, this is one of the best information presentations," said Ward 7 Councilor Anthony V. Maffuccio, a frequent critic of the school budget during his tenure on the Council. "This is probably going to be one of the first School Department budgets I'll support as an elected official. On the municipal side, we're concentrating on the neighborhoods, and now we've stepped up to the plate for education."

Before it discussed the school budget, the council also voted unanimously to approve a $247,628 appropriation for the City Clerk's office.

Monday, June 25, 2007 8:57:00 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Pittsfield School Committee
Retired official set to return — for now
By Jessica Willis, Berkshire Eagle Staff
The Berkshire Eagle
Thursday, June 28, 2007

PITTSFIELD — Retired Deputy Superintendent Linda J. Porter is about to get her old job back — temporarily.

With the resignation of current Deputy Superintendent Henry "Bud" Kaiser, who will leave the position with one year left on his three-year contract, and the departure of Assistant Superintendent for Personnel and Negotiations William J. Cameron Jr. — who will be taking the superintendent job at Salem Public Schools — Porter will be filling in on an "interim basis," according to Kathleen Amuso, chair of the Pittsfield School Committee.

Porter is returning to the administration because the "transition" from Cameron to his permanent successor— who has not been named — "will not be accomplished as of July 1," Amuso told the committee.

Effective July 1, Porter will be paid, as interim assistant superintendent, a per diem rate of $410.74, and Cameron explained that the sum was determined by what Porter would be making "if she had not retired."

Porter was deputy superintendent of Pittsfield Schools for four years, and she retired after the 2004-05 school year.

Her appointment was approved unanimously at last night's School Committee meeting.

Cameron — who has been working for Pittsfield Public Schools since 1978, was given a rueful farewell from his colleagues.

"Your expertise will be missed," Amuso said.

Pittsfield Mayor James M. Ruberto, an ex-officio member of the School Committee, commended Cameron for his "outstanding, dedicated service" and presented him with a proclamation from the city.

Praising Cameron's wildly varied career as an educator and as an administrator — his résumé includes a teaching job at Attica Correctional Facility — Ruberto said he was sad to see Cameron go.

"There's none more bittersweet than this (proclamation)," the mayor said.

The committee also approved a fiscal 2008 school budget of $49,324,289 — an increase of $2,902,289, or 6.25 percent, from the 2007 budget.

The finalization of the school budget was no mean feat; in its first incarnation, in late May, an increase of 7 percent, or $49,669,855, was proposed, and in mid-June, the budget was amended again to $49,734,855, or a 7.14 increase.

Those increases reflected the $877,000 in critical Tier One items on the budget — which included three math coaches for the elementary schools, a reading coach for Egremont Elementary, four academic interventionists for the middle schools, expansion of the truancy and dropout prevention program for the high schools, and an IT tech professional for the district.

According to Sally Douglas, the assistant superintendent for business and finance, those earlier line item budgets had to be trimmed.

"The first phase (of budget planning) far exceeded what City Council could do," Douglas said.

In its final form, a significant amount of the Tier One items had to be cut, Douglas said. The five math coaches for the elementary schools, and the Career Vocational Technical Education Teacher for the high schools were cut, a subtraction of $120,000 and $40,000, respectively — and the IT Technician, at $40,OOO, didn't make it either.

The other programs did, however, and 18.5 new, full-time teaching positions will remain on the new — albeit slimmed down — fiscal 2008 budget.

"It's a proud day for Pittsfield," Ruberto said, and noted that many communities are losing educators — not gaining them.

"So many school districts are looking at it from the other side," he added.

Friday, June 29, 2007 3:37:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Unistress Plans Move to William Stanley Business Park

By Jen Thomas - June 27, 2007

Petricca Industries, Inc. CEO Perri Petricca announced the move of Unistress Corporation's metal fabricating facilities to the William Stanley Business Park.
Pittsfield - After seven years of planning, the William Stanley Business Park will welcome its first tenant as early as next week.

"It's taken awhile to get to today," said Mayor James M. Ruberto at a morning press conference. "But, today is the date where we know for certain, after a couple of false starts, that we have our first tenant at the William Stanley Business Park, one of our own - Petricca Industries."

Petricca Industries will move their Unistress Corporation from its current home on Cheshire Road to a new 22,100 square foot facility at the park as part of a $6 million expansion project. The new location will focus on continuing current metal fabrication operations while the current Unistress facility will be converted to the manufacture of pre-stressed concrete components for use in bridges, stadiums, and other retail and industrial buildings.

Expecting to break ground next week, Perri Petricca, CEO of Petricca Industries, said he is proud to be able to keep his business in its hometown.

"Unistress has been growing at an incredible pace and we have expanded into every nook and cranny of our current facility, which is saying something given the size and acreage we possess down on Route 8," Petricca said. "There was a pride and energy once our focus became on doing something locally that we didn't have when we were looking at out of state locations."

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TDBanknorth's Jay Anderson and Mayor James M. Ruberto participate in the ribbon cutting.
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A joint effort of the city, MassDevelopment, the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority, TDBanknorth, the Pittsfield Economic Redevelopment Agency and Petricca, the move is part of the ongoing effort by city officials to expand local business and economic development opportunities.

"I'm extremely pleased to say today that we've come to this point, a point when we can actually proclaim the start of a new beginning on this very valuable and important piece of real estate near the heart of our city," said PEDA Chairman William M. Hines.

Unistress Corporation's full four-part expansion plan will create 40 new jobs, bringing the total to 365 for Unistress and more than 600 for Petricca Industries and its affiliate companies.

Additionally, the move will allow Petricca Industries to expand other components of their industry. Unistress plans to implement a wireless communications system for instant transmission of design information from the Cheshire Road facility to the metal fabrication area at the business park location. They also intend to construct seven acres of storage facilities on land adjacent to Unistress' current location.

"I am just so proud to think of all these benefits to the city of Pittsfield," said Ruberto.

Planning for a hopeful November grand opening, Pitrecca said he has his work cut out for him. Pitrecca Construction, Co. will begin the process next week of "getting the site up to grade." Pitrecca said this includes breaking up the concrete at the business park site and leveling it as the land is located on a flood plain. The two and a half acre facility will likely begin construction in August.

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Basil Petricca cuts the metal "ribbon" at Wednesday morning's press conference.
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Pitrecca said he expects to give back to the city that has been his company’s home since 1936.

"We anticipate staffing some of these new jobs through vocational partnerships with both the local high schools and the Sheriff's vocational rehab program," Petricca said.

"We're proud to be here; we're a family business and we're really excited to be able to do something in Pittsfield," he said.

Jen Thomas may be reached via e-mail at jthomas@iberkshires.com or at 413-663-3384 ext. 23.

Friday, June 29, 2007 3:45:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Ruberto will digest data before deciding on veto
The mayor has 10 days to overturn the City Council's 6- 5 vote that favored vendor restrictions.
By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Berkshire Eagle
Article Last Updated:07/13/2007

Friday, July 13, 2007

PITTSFIELD — Mayor James M. Ruberto said yesterday that he may veto the City Council's decision to approve, by the slimmest possible margin, an ordinance prohibiting food vendors within 30 feet of licensed food establishments.

After several months of haggling, amending and discussing, the City Council on Tuesday night voted 6-5 in favor of a second reading of the ordinance, which is required for the measure to go into effect.

Ruberto said he believes he is allowed 10 days from the time he receives the ordinance to make a decision.

"I just got the final order today," Ruberto said. "I'm going to review it closely, and I'm going to consult with some councilors on both sides (of the issue). Then, I'm going to make a decision.

"This was, as you were aware, a divided issue within the council," he said.

The last time a Pittsfield mayor vetoed a City Council decision occurred in 2003 when then-Mayor Sara Hathaway vetoed a measure that would have allowed then Fire Chief Raymond E. Risley to receive $10,000 more per year in education incentive pay. The council failed to override her veto.

Councilors Louis A. Costi, Jonathan N. Lothrop, Peter M. Marchetti, Michael L. Ward, Linda M. Tyer and Tricia Farley-Bouvier voted in favor of the second reading of the vendors' ordinance on Tuesday night. Council President Gerald M. Lee, Lewis C. Markham Jr., Anthony V. Maffuccio, Matthew M. Kerwood and Daniel L. Bianchi were opposed.

The vote came after yet another attempt to amend the ordinance, this time by Maffuccio, failed by a 7-4 vote. Only Lee, Kerwood and Bianchi joined Maffuccio in voting for the amendment.

Maffuccio, who was absent on June 27 when the council approved a first reading, suggested excluding North Street hot dog vendor Ernie Jordan and the city's venerable popcorn wagon on Park Square from the ordinance, according to City Clerk Jody L. Phillips. He then tried to file the petition, but the council took no action because a motion to approve the measure was already on the table, Phillips said.

Jordan has been selling hot dogs in front of the walkway between McKay and North streets for 10 years. The popcorn wagon has been in operation on Park Square since 1909. Those are the only current downtown businesses that are affected by the new ordinance.

"Personally, myself, I think this ordinance was made around a certain situation," said Maffuccio, who believes the measure was formed to specifically target Jordan.

"As far as I'm concerned, the Licensing Board and the police chief hand out (vendors') permits, and they're able to handle it themselves," he added. "I don't think it needs an ordinance."

Although the council failed to approve Maffuccio's amendment, the popcorn wagon will have to relocate from the street to the sidewalk in Park Square because the new ordinance allows vendors to set up only on sidewalks, and at least 18 inches, or a foot and a half, from the curb.

Maffuccio said the popcorn wagon, which hadn't been moved as of yesterday, will probably have to be brought further than 18 inches from the street. A large concrete flower pot is currently situated on the sidewalk behind the popcorn wagon's present location.

"It has to be moved farther off the road," he said. "I'd like to see who is going to enforce it."

Ward 2 Councilor Costi, whose jurisdiction includes downtown Pittsfield, filed the petition requesting the ordinance change at the request of Samir Abdallah, the president of Hot Harry's Fresh Burrito's. When Hot Harry's opened a store at 37 North St. in March 2006, Abdallah asked Costi for help in determining the distance Jordan could operate his hot dog cart from the store. Costi has said he suggested the measure so that the city could set standards for any food vendors who wish to operate in the city. Pittsfield has never had an ordinance that established how far a licensed food vendor can set up from a licensed food establishment.

Jordan is not presently affected by the ordinance because his current location is specified in the license that he received from the city.

"It was a big waste of time. I'm still in the same spot, right?" Jordan said around noon yesterday, as he stood in front of his cart. "What did they gain?"

The ordinance, first proposed this spring, was tabled twice, once by a City Council subcommittee, the second time by the full council. The council considered shortening the distance between vendors and licensed establishments.

Friday, July 13, 2007 1:29:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Monday, July 30, 2007, 7:15 P.M.

Re: Ruberto's Rudeness!

Dear "Friend",

...Once again, I am very upset to hear from you that Mayor Jimmy Ruberto ignored you at a recent past event. He turned out to be a big disappointment and phony. I heard that as a past corporate executive, he bankrupted a Texas plastics company, took the loot (and his wife Ellen), moved back to Pittsfield into his mother's home to start a political career, and then lost his first bid for Mayor to Sara Hathaway in 2001, became upset with his mother Edith Ruberto after losing that election and then decided to put her into a nursing home under the pretenses (or excuse) of Alzheimer's Disease, thereby usurping his mother's home without ever having to pay a mortgage or even rent, and then ran again for Mayor of Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 2003, and then again in 2005, and now again in 2007. So for the record, Jimmy Ruberto bankrupted a Texas Plastics company and took the loot, moved back to Pittsfield into his mother's home to start a political career, failed in his first attempt, put his mother into a nursing home under a medical pretense (or excuse), usurped his mother's home for free and then became Mayor of Pittsfield where now only the elite and wealthy business interests have his due attention. If I were you, I would be glad that Mayor Jimmy Ruberto ignored you at a recent past event. At least he did not get an opportunity to take advantage of you!

Pittsfield Politics has always been so "insider v. outsider" themed, and conspiratorial within a feudal context. It all has to do with whom you are related to: INCESTUOUS! Because Ruberto is related to the right local, inbred, multigenerational families, he is able to get away with being unethical and downright RUDE to people! At least he will never shut me up! I despise the dangerously low gene pool, inbred, multigenerational select families that rule Pittsfield, Massachusetts, especially the political career of Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. (aka "Luciforo"). Their negativity (absence or lack of affirmation) by design makes me feel proud of myself for not having to stoop down to their trivial World of chasing one's tail in an endless circle of insignificance.

I do hope, however, that the Mayor's lovely wife, Ellen Ruberto, gets well. ...

Yours Truly,

Jonathan A. Melle

Monday, July 30, 2007 7:13:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Tenant bolts park plans

City

The Berkshire Eagle

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The move leaves William Stanley Business Park with no companies, but Unistress Corp. will still build its new facility in Pittsfield.

By Scott Stafford
Berkshire Eagle Staff

PITTSFIELD — Unistress Corp. is backing out of plans to build a multimillion-dollar metal fabrication facility at William Stanley Business Park, but will build the plant and keep the jobs in Pittsfield on property it owns on Laurel Street.

When test borings revealed that the soil on the Silver Lake Boulevard park site would not support the 22,100-square-foot structure without first constructing an underground support system, company officials determined that the construction project would take too long and would cost an additional $200,000.

Instead, Unistress will build the facility — which makes up nearly half of the company's $6 million expansion — on approximately two acres of land its parent company, Petricca Industries, owns on Laurel Street, just off Merrill Road.

Sinking piles into the park's land to support the facility would take too long for the company's accelerated construction schedule.

"We've got a building scheduled for delivery in August and machinery coming in November," said Perri C. Petricca, president of Unistress. "We want to be in the building and working by the end of the year.

"It's unfortunate," he added. "We were excited about going down there. But the alternate site off Merrill Road is properly zoned, and we believe we can stay on schedule by moving there and still bring those new jobs to the city."

On June 27, officials from Petricca, the city of Pittsfield and the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority announced that Unistress would break ground the following week on the metal fabrication facility. The William Stanley Business Park, a reclaimed former General Electric Co. industrial property, is operated by PEDA.

The plant would have been the park's first tenant.

The Unistress project on Laurel Street is still likely to generate up to 40 jobs and to bring in new manufacturing technology and wireless communications between the new plant and Unistress' Cheshire Road facilities.

Unistress is experiencing a dramatic increase in sales of its concrete beams, used in the construction of parking garages such as the ones for the new Yankee Stadium project.

Unistress also has a number of product-delivery deadlines coming due, which is driving the building schedule. The metal fabrication plant will produce the reinforcement and interlocking parts used in the concrete beams.

Learning experience

Petricca said that, after agreeing to move into the business park, geological borings showed that loose, sandy soil beneath the surface would not hold the weight of the heavy building.

He added that the Unistress project was the first time that Pittsfield Economic Development Authority officials had gone so far through the process of locating a facility at the site, and that they found it to be a learning experience.

PEDA board Chairman William Hines Sr. agreed.

"PEDA ... has learned a tremendous amount from this due diligence process with a potential builder," he said in a prepared statement. "We will be better prepared for other companies seeking to locate facilities at the William Stanley Business Park and will continue to move forward aggressively in marketing the property."

"I consider this to be reflective of the challenges inherent in the development of a former heavily industrial site," said Deanna Ruffer, Pittsfield's community development director. "Through this process, the PEDA board and the city have learned more about the challenges facing this site and that, in itself, is a positive."

Formed in 1998

More than $25 million — 90 percent of which has been funded by GE — has been spent on demolition, cleanup and engineering at the former site of the main GE transformer manufacturing operation, now known as the William Stanley Business Park.

PEDA was formed in 1998 to take ownership of the site for use as an industrial park once GE completed demolition of the structures and decontaminated the land.

The first land transfer of 27 acres came in 2005, and a second transfer of seven more acres is pending. Meanwhile, the third and final land transfer of 18 acres is scheduled for sometime in 2008. In all, the business park eventually will comprise 52 acres. It has been actively marketed since 2003.

In a phone interview, Hines said that the soil makeup will be an early subject of discussion with the next potential tenant.

"Now (that) we know the condition of that particular site, we know what we're up against," Hines said. "It's a show-stopper for the Unistress project there, but for the overall PEDA project it's just a little bump in the road."

"Unistress is a quality organization, and I am thrilled that they are able to move to an alternate site while still remaining in Pittsfield," said Mayor James M. Ruberto in a prepared statement.

Monday, July 30, 2007 7:25:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE

Vendor wording OK, says mayor
By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff

Saturday, August 04, 2007

PITTSFIELD — With the 10-day deadline having recently passed, Mayor James M. Ruberto said he decided not to veto an ordinance regarding the location of food vendors in the downtown area because he believes the measure is good for the city.

"I think the ordinance is a reasonable one," Ruberto said.

Following several months of discussion, the City Council on July 10 narrowly approved a final reading of the ordinance, which prohibits food vendors within 30 feet of licensed food establishments. The council voted 6-5 in favor of the measure.

Ruberto received the ordinance two days later. In July, Ruberto said he wanted to speak with the council first before deciding whether to veto the measure.

In an interview this week, Ruberto said he was never interested in vetoing the measure, but wanted to speak with the council to make sure the ordinance was right for the city.

"I wanted to have an opportunity to speak with the councilors on the ordinance," Ruberto said. "I never considered vetoing it. My feeling at that time is different than my feeling now. The ordinance had just been handed to me.

"Once I reviewed the ordinance, I was in a position to make a decision," Ruberto continued. "It wasn't that I had a bias to veto it or accept it. I just wanted to have the ability to review it.

"I did the review, talked to a number of councilors, and found it to be reasonable," the mayor said.

Ruberto termed the ordinance "proactive" and "forward thinking" because it provides standards the city can use to regulate food vendors who may come to Pittsfield as the planned revitalization of the city's downtown continues.

There are currently only two licensed food vendors in downtown Pittsfield: Ernie Jordan, who sells hot dogs from his cart on North Street in front of the McKay Street walkway, and the popcorn wagon in Park Square. Jordan has been selling hot dogs from his current location for 10 years. The popcorn wagon has been located in Park Square since 1909.

Popcorn wagon affected

The distance prescribed in the new ordinance doesn't affect Jordan, because his cart's location is listed in his city vendor's license. But it does affect the popcorn wagon's on-street location, because the new ordinance allows vendors to set up only on sidewalks at least 18 inches from the curb. The popcorn wagon has not been moved from its traditional location since the ordinance was approved last month.

Ward 2 Councilor Louis A. Costi, whose jurisdiction includes downtown Pittsfield, originally filed the petition requesting the ordinance change at the request of Samir Abdallah, the president of Hot Harry's Fresh Burrito's. When Hot Harry's opened a second Pittsfield store at 37 North St., Abdallah asked Costi for assistance in determining how far Jordan's hot dog cart could be from the store. It was discovered that Pittsfield had no such ordinance.

Several council members, particularly Ward 7 Councilor Anthony V. Maffuccio, believed that the proposed ordinance was directed solely at Jordan. Costi has said he suggested the measure so that the city could set standards for any future food vendors who set up in the downtown area.

"There's nothing in the ordinance that affects Ernie," Ruberto said. "I think there was considerable confusion on that point."

Monday, August 06, 2007 2:27:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Dear News Media, Pols, & the People:

Re: "Pittsfield must do more for its young children" (The Berkshire Eagle, Letters, August 7th, 2007):

Pittsfield has become the de facto center for high per capita welfare caseloads, teen pregnancy rates, high school drop-out and truancy rates, criminal activity, and the like, by design!
Pittsfield's "leaders" do not address their city's social problems on purpose because they use perverse incentives to annually receive tens of millions of dollars in "state administered, federally appropriated" public funds to, in theory only, provide social services. The "Mayor" then complements social service and public education public dollars to his municipal tax revenue base, thereby really using the public monies to (a) keep taxes artificially low, and (b) fund special interest projects. Pittsfield does not invest in children by design because the children are the investment capital for Pittsfield's elites! In short, the real Mayor of Pittsfield is John Barrett III! God, I pray I never have to raise a would be family in Pittsfield, North Adams, or the like, and subject my would be children to such kinds of banalities of social injustice. Well, at least the elites are happy with the inequitable way Pittsfield does its unethical business at the expense of its youth. DISGUSTING! I am very ashamed I was born and raised in Pittsfield, Massachusetts!

In Dissent,

Jonathan A. Melle
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Pittsfield must do more for its young children
Letters
Berkshire Eagle
Article Last Updated:

Monday, August 06
To the Editor of THE EAGLE:
I know that the city of Pittsfield has been focusing on the downtown area and is trying to keep and attract new people to the area. North Street is starting to look good. The restaurants are great, but when is the city of Pittsfield going to step up to the plate and start focusing on our children?

There is nothing for kids of any ages to do. The museum is OK a few times. There are play dates at different libraries. There are a few things here and there. I even noticed that recently they have been scheduling events in five different parks in the area. I brought my son, sister-in-law and her three children one of these "events" which was a ice cream social. It was the most pathetic attempt I have ever seen. There were kids there that get dropped off by their parents to be baby-sat by teenagers, They force the children to play at a table with board games and toys. I have been to the park several times and have yet to see any of these children actually running around playing and laughing.

If the city wants to try to attract people, it needs to think about the children. I grew up in this area, then moved to a larger city for a few years. This city had multiple things for children to do, from play centers, Chucky Cheese, soccer centers, a zoo, and a children's museum, to name a few. The city of Pittsfield really needs to step up and start focusing on our future. If you keep the kids busy, they will be less likely to get into trouble.

I am considering relocating again, as there is nothing for my son to do, It's just not fair to him or any other children around here.

MELISSA HYDE

Pittsfield, July 31, 2007

Monday, August 20, 2007 4:35:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Fwd: Google Alert - Ruberto Pittsfield

Dear Berkshire Eagle, News Media, Pols, & the People:

A weird conspiracy by the Eagle on their website. I clicked on the following item:
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"Parks employee takes tough hit"
Berkshire Eagle - Pittsfield,MA,USA
Mayor James M. Ruberto first proposed the reorganization in April, and the City Council granted final approval in June. Although the measure had been under…
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...and the news story was removed on the web page. However, there was a posted comment dissenting against the dictatorial Ruberto Regime. About ten minutes later, even the comment was then removed on the Eagle web-page. I then went onto "Google" to search for the news story, such as, to see if it was blogged, and I could not find it anywhere.

Does anyone have a copy of this news story? If so, please email it to me so I can blog it for the public record.

Thank you,

Jonathan A. Melle

Tuesday, August 28, 2007 7:48:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Pittsfield's PCB Pollution Clean-up is a FRAUD: (a) There have been newly discovered PCB pollution sites since the Consent Decree, (B) The Consent Decree CAPPED most of the PCB Pollution. The CAPS only last no more than 25 years! Mayor Jim Ruberto has his head buried in the SAND!

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Cleanup work lingers
By Jack Dew, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Berkshire Eagle

Sunday, September 02, 2007

PITTSFIELD — While the sale of GE Plastics heralds the end of the company's manufacturing history in the city, GE will still be in the environmental cleanup business in Pittsfield.

General Electric Co.'s obligation to remove PCB contamination from its plant, the Housatonic River and properties along the riverbanks will not alter with the Plastics sale, according to company officials and government regulators.

Under the terms of a consent decree that was finalized in October 2000, GE must bear most of the costs of the cleanup of its 250-acre plant, the Housatonic River and properties scattered throughout Pittsfield. None of those responsibilities is expected to change following the Plastics deal.

"We don't think it changes anything," said Timothy Conway, an Environmental Protection Agency lawyer and specialist in the consent decree. "We have put some language in the consent decree that makes clear that in no event should the conveyance of property release or affect (GE's) liability."

GE did not return several calls seeking comment for this story. Following the June rededication of Fred Garner River Park in Pittsfield, however, GE's vice president of environmental programs, Stephen Ramsey, said the company's obligations under the consent decree will not change with the sale; he said that question was resolved during negotiations with Sabic, and GE remains financially responsible for the pollution.

The contamination is the final legacy of GE's once-massive transformer manufacturing operation. The company used PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, for decades as an insulating fluid that was cherished for its durability and resistance to heat.

The federal government banned PCBs in 1977, declaring them a probable cause of cancer. By then the chemical had been leaked, dumped or spilled into the ground and the Housatonic. Contaminated soil was used to fill the Allendale Elementary School property, hundreds of barrels of PCB-laden oil were found in a city landfill, and the pollution turned up in more than 100 residential yards in Pittsfield.

Much of that pollution has already been tackled. The Allendale schoolyard was excavated and replaced with clean soil, as were many of the residential yards. GE has cleaned much of its plant, and GE and the EPA together have dredged two miles of the river.

The work continues and could intensify soon. This year, the EPA is expected to decide how much of the rest of the river will be cleaned and by what method., possibly extending the cleanup into Great Barrington.

Tim Gray, executive director of the Housatonic River Initiative, said he doesn't expect GE's departure from Pittsfield to change that project or others specified in the consent decree.

But he does think GE's absence will make it harder to get a deeper cleanup that would tackle problems like the Hill 78 landfill that sits next to Allendale — a federally approved dumping ground, and other sites that have been capped with clean soil but still harbor pollution underneath.

"It remains to be seen whether any of that comes back to haunt us in the future," Gray said. "GE won't be easy to get a hold of. My guess is that they consider this a complete, done deal in their heads and they are moving out of town."

Pittsfield Mayor James M. Ruberto disagreed. He said GE has never shown any signs of flagging on the consent decree and its departure could have the opposite effect.

"There is every reason for GE to be more committed to ensuring that the consent decrees is addressed responsibly," he said. "(Their departure) puts more of a burden on them to make certain that the community will be left in a responsible way."

Wednesday, September 05, 2007 5:15:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

9/7/2007

Dear Rinaldo:

The following (below) is all the information that I have collected about this issue of the City of Pittsfield transferring its pension assets to the state government, while leaving its pension liabilities (debts) with the city government (or local taxpayers).

From the news article link you sent me, it seems that Governor Deval Patrick is finding ways for the state to profit off of the cities and towns. If Governor Deval Patrick was sincere about local pension reform, then he would also have the state government assume the local pension liabilities too. Pittsfield Mayor Jim Ruberto is playing up to the Governor by voluntarily gifting him Pittsfield's pension assets!

Thank you for the response, Rinaldo!

Best regards,

Jonathan A. Melle

--

09/06/2007

Dear Rinaldo Del Gallo III, et al,

On 9/11/07, the Pittsfield City Council will consider voluntarily transferring its pension assets from the city's pension account to the state's pension account. Well, what about the city's pension liabilities (or debts)?

So let me get this straight. The state is assuming Pittsfield's pension assets, while the city is keeping its pension debts. AND this is all being done VOLUNTARILY!

THIS IS THE WORST EXAMPLE OF FINANCIAL (MIS)MANAGEMENT THAT I HAVE READ ABOUT EVER! PITTSFIELD NEEDS LEADERSHIP! I wish Rinaldo Del Gallo III was a local elected leader for my native hometown. He would not let this sort of thing happen to his beloved city government!

A government that robs Peter to pay Paul always has the support of Paul. Unfortunately, Peter is the Pittsfield taxpayer, and Paul is the state government commiting grand larceny against the Pittsfield taxpayer!

In Dissent,

Jonathan A. Melle

--

On the Agenda: Pittsfield City Council

September 06, 2007

The Pittsfield City Council will meet on Tuesday, September 11, at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall on Allen Street.

Here is the agenda:

COMMUNICATIONS FROM HIS HONOR, THE MAYOR

2. A communication submitting an Order authorizing the Retirement Board of the City of Pittsfield to voluntarily transfer assets of the retirement fund to the Pension Reserves Investment Trust

--

The Rosenberg Report - Vol. 51
Wednesday, 08 August, 2007

Senate Accomplishments

We have reached the halfway point of the first year of the 185th session of the Legislature and the Senate has taken up 17 major pieces of legislation, includin...a revision of local pension investments.

Pensions

To produce a greater return on investments, this law directs the assets of underperforming local pension systems into the state's pension fund. The law will allow the state to review the investment performance of local pension funds. The assets of those funds will be rolled into the state system if their assets are less than 65 percent of their liabilities, and if the funds have an average 10-year rate of return at least two percent less than the state's current rate of 10.51 percent.

--

Jonathan:

I really have not studied this issue so I am not prepared to talk about it. I could go read the full text of the petition (which is not available online) by going to city hall.

What I think is happening is simply allowing the state to invest the pension funds because it historically might be doing better on return.

Here is the company's website:
www dot mppf dot org

Here is a Boston Globe article on the subject: (news article below)

That's about all I know. Obviously, "underperforming" pension funds starting looking more "cautious" and "conservative" rather than "underperforming" when there is a downturn in the business cycle. Risk and reward--that sort of thing.

Sorry Jonathan, I have no real opinion either way on this subject. Maybe someday I will.

Rinaldo

--

NEWTON

Pension board hit over returns
Growing chorus for state control

By Connie Paige, Globe Correspondent

February 18, 2007

A new proposal by the governor and a recommendation by a local blue-ribbon commission are turning up the heat on the Newton Retirement Board to increase returns from the city's $250 million pension fund.

On Wednesday, the board is set to consider whether to transfer management of the fund to the state.

The blue-ribbon commission reported, for example, that the city would have gained $12 million more last year if the local pension fund had been managed by the state.

A better return "frees up city funds to be used for other purposes, like salaries and benefits of city workers," rather than covering the pensions of retired city employees, said the commission's chairman, Paul Levy , president of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center . "I should be in favor of that, just like a taxpayer would be. Plus, I am a taxpayer."

The Newton board may not have a choice in the matter if state lawmakers approve a proposal made last week by Governor Deval Patrick. He recommended the state take over local retirement funds that lagged behind the Pension Reserve Investment Trust's investment returns by an average of 2.25 percentage points or more over the last five years, and were less than 80 percent funded -- a measure of how much money a fund has compared with its projected obligations.

Newton's investment returns of 4.61 percent over the last five years are 2.43 percentage points less than the state gain of 7.04 percent ; the city is also funded at only 66.2 percent , state records show.

At least one member of the Newton Retirement Board favors state management of the fund.

"As comptroller of the city," said David Wilkinson , "I think the recommendation of the blue-ribbon commission makes absolute sense." Wilkinson stressed that he was speaking for himself and not the five-member board.

"Turning over $250 million . . . is not something you just do overnight," Wilkinson said. "We're trustees, and we have to act in the best interests of our members."

Wilkinson said he could not respond to Patrick's proposal because he was not familiar with it.

Mayor David B. Cohen also endorsed the panel's recommendation to switch to the state Pension Reserve Investment Trust.

But board members cautioned that the state's investment strategy could be riskier than their more conservative approach.

"If we're taking a higher risk and the market takes a dive, we're going to suffer a lot more" than the state does, "because we're smaller," said the Retirement Board's chairman, Nunzio Piselli .

The blue-ribbon commission, appointed last year to assess the city's financial condition , said the Newton pension plan would have earned $30 million more over the past decade had it invested with the state fund. A comparison of returns for 1995 to 2005 shows Newton outperforming the state in four years .

The decision to transfer to the state trust now rests with local retirement boards. By state law, board membership is stipulated as the city's comptroller, two members elected from among the city's active and retired workforce, a fourth appointed by the board itself, and a fifth appointed by the mayor.

Wilkinson has been on the board since 1992.

The employee-selected members are Francis Capello , president of the firefighters' union and a board member since 1996, and a police officer, Paul Bianchi , a member since 2003.

The board picked Richard Heidlage of Newton, a lawyer in the state attorney general's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and a board member since 1997.

Cohen appointed Piselli, a retired Department of Public Works employee and a board member since 1994.

They receive a $3,000 annual stipend for making decisions on behalf of the city's 1,782 active employees, 1,194 retirees, 152 disabled retirees, and 447 people who once worked for the city and have not yet retired.

The board uses Segal Advisors to help manage its portfolio.

In 2005, after a consultant showed that the state had been getting a higher return in recent years, the board decided to put 5 percent under the state's management.

The board will find out the results of the move on Wednesday.

Another recommendation from the blue-ribbon commission -- to replace at least two members of the board with investment professionals -- drew quick reaction.

Wilkinson pointed out that the only member who could be replaced under the law is Heidlage, who once represented the Massport Retirement Board and wrote a book on pension benefits.

Wilkinson said Heidlage offers expertise when the board decides whether to grant disability benefits -- something that can cost the city $1 million per retiree over the life of the pension.

"I would really hate to see us lose the benefit of his good work," Wilkinson said .

When told of the law's requirements, Levy suggested that the city create an investment committee to advise the board.

--

On the Agenda: Pittsfield City Council

September 06, 2007

NEW BUSINESS

33. A petition from Peter Arlos requesting the Council vote to take all necessary steps to enable the City to join the state's health insurance program as part of the Municipal Partnership Act

The Rosenberg Report - Vol. 51
Wednesday, 08 August, 2007

GIC

With the goal of potentially saving municipalities $120-$180 million a year in health costs, this local option for cities and towns would allow them to buy their health insurance through the state insurance plan commonly known as the Group Insurance Commission. GIC rates are expected to rise by just 5 percent in 2008 compared to 11.3 percent for all other Massachusetts employers. Decisions to join the GIC will require 70 percent approval from a municipality's union employees and retirees.

Friday, September 07, 2007 4:36:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Local business leader to retire

By Scott Stafford, Berkshire Eagle Staff

The Berkshire Eagle

Article Last Updated:09/08/2007

Saturday, September 08, 2007

PITTSFIELD — William M. Hines Sr. is retiring from his post as CEO of Interprint Inc., the company he founded in 1985 and for which he built a new $27 million manufacturing and design facility on Route 41.

But he won't be playing much golf. His retirement leaves him more time for his many civic duties, and he is looking into a couple of other business endeavors.

"I'm at the point where I think it's time I let the younger management go with it," Hines, 61, said during an interview in the office he and his team designed and built on the outskirts of Pittsfield. "The executive staff here is probably the best team in the industry, maybe in any industry."

Hines founded the company with the backing of German printing company Interprint International, after his former employer, Mead Paper Corp., declined to back his business model.

He started the business in a sales office "with a telephone, an airline ticket and a desk, and that's about it."

Since then, the company has grown through four buildings at an old mill site on Peck's Road, ultimately building its own 135,000-square-foot facility in 2004. The company ships about 15,000 tons of paper in and out of Pittsfield annually, printing paper that is sold internationally to other businesses for production of laminate countertops and furniture surfaces.

In addition, Hines' civic involvement mushroomed through the years. Today he is president and co-founder of Berkshire Applied Technology Council; board chairman of the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority; and serves on the boards of Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Alliance for Economic Development, Hancock Shaker Village and the Berkshire Economic Development Corp. He is a past board member of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce and a former member of the Colonial Theatre Association.

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He has been a staunch backer of Pittsfield Mayor James M. Ruberto and an active member of the mayor's past two mayoral campaigns as well as his current re-election effort.

"Bill Hines is someone I have gone to for advice, support and help," Ruberto said. "He has always been there for this city — an incredible man with outstanding leadership capabilities and focus on results. And, yes, he will be active as we put this campaign together, just as he was in the past campaigns."
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So in Hines' case, retirement may be a relative term. He is not likely to be found on the couch eating chips and watching Oprah.

"I don't plan on giving up the community work that I do," he said. "I'm finding that, as I reduce my time here at work, these other things seem to take it up."

And the business world is not exactly rid of Hines yet, either.

See, he has this idea: He's talking to a foreign firm that manufactures banding for the edges of tables, desks and counters about establishing a facility in the United States

Sound familiar?

"It's in the initial stages," Hines said. "We have a possible partner in Mexico looking for a U.S. presence. I guess it all depends on how much I want to work."

And then there is the other company he has. The Hines Site Group, operated by his stepson Bill Murray, runs two stores in Allendale — Stevens World of Flooring and Organize It, both of which carry products made by customers of Interprint.

"It's a good scenario to have a business that uses some of Interprint's customers," Hines said.

Both are doing very well and are on the verge of growth, and there may be other related businesses popping up in the near future, he said.

Hines did say that he played golf recently — but it doesn't happen much. He said it is not very likely to happen much in the near future, either.

"When I was with my former employer, twenty-some years ago, I played a lot of golf," he said. "Then I started working for a living."

Saturday, September 08, 2007 2:20:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

9/12/2007

Dear Berkshire Bloggers, News Media, Politicians, & the People:

Re: "Memory Walk Supports Alzheimer's Caregivers" (iBerkshires.com, By Jen Thomas - September 11, 2007): What is WRONG with the following news article statement?: "This year's honorary chairmen are Pittsfield Mayor James M. Ruberto, whose mother has Alzheimer's disease, and his wife, Ellen. Ruberto will officially proclaim that Sept. 21 is World Alzheimer's Day at the City Council meeting tonight at 7:30."

The answer to the question is the Jim Ruberto's "leadership" on Alzheimer's disease is nothing of the sort! Prior to moving back into his mother's (Edith Ruberto's) home, Jim Ruberto was one of the executives who bankrupted a Texas plastics company named Rexene and took the loot, thereby screwing over workers and investors alike. After the company Jim Ruberto helped to manage tanked into insolvency, he took the his cut of the loot and moved into his mother's home on Spadina Parkway in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. In 2001, Jim Ruberto ran for Mayor of Pittsfield after the Gerry Doyle debacle. He lost to Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.'s then-minion, Sara Hathaway. Jim Ruberto was upset with his loss, and he decided to usurp his mother's home by placing her into a nursing home under the pretext of Alzheimer's disease. Then, with his mother in a nursing home, him usurping his mother's home without ever having to pay a mortgage, rent or the like, and with his remaining cut of the loot from the Texas plastics company he had previously bankrupted, Jim Ruberto ran again for Mayor of Pittsfield, this time ousting Sara Hathaway. In January, 2004 through present day, the Mayor of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, James M. Ruberto, administers a municipal government while living in his mother's usurped home!

Today, The Berkshire Eagle (Online) did NOT even post a news article about Mayor Jimmy Ruberto's 9/11/2007 City Council proposal to transfer all of the city government's pension assets to the commonwealth (or state government), while leaving all of the pension debts with the city government! But, Ruberto's order was #2 on last night's city council agenda, and it all fits into the Mayor's unethical management style!

In conclusion, James M. Ruberto should NOT be a positive example for those who wish to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease! Moreover, he should not be legally able to live in his mother's usurped home without paying a mortgage or rent, or the like! Furthermore, Jimmy Ruberto should be voted out of political office and investigated for his unethical business and elder abuse backgrounds!

In closing, Jim Ruberto was very mean-spirited towards me to people who were good to me. As Mayor, I was told that I could not be Larry Caprari's Veterans Assistant at City Hall because they did NOT want me back after I moved to New Hampshire. My elderly lady political friend told me that she when was being given a ride by Mayor Ruberto, she told him that I was doing well and said hello to him. She then told me that Mayor Ruberto looked at her and mocked me by him sarcastically asking her, "Does Jonathan have a job?" Moreover, Mayor Ruberto made backhanded comments against me in local Eagle Online news articles in his praises for two out of three of my deepest political enemies: Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. (saying he is a very influential person; mocking me because he intimidated me from running for Berkshire State Senate in 2004 before I moved to NH) and Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. (saying what a good person he is and wishing him the best after he stepped down as Berkshire State Senator in 2006; mocking me because Senator Nuciforo tried to ruin my father's career in public service and send me to Sheriff Massimiano's County Jail during the same time period). Well, James M. Ruberto, I proudly write about the unethical FRAUD that you really are! It is all about Karma! You have mocked me, and now your bad deeds are coming back to you!

In Dissent,

Jonathan A. Melle

--

iBerkshires dot com

Memory Walk Supports Alzheimer's Caregivers

By Jen Thomas - September 11, 2007

CHESHIRE - The organizers of the 15th annual Memory Walk in Berkshire County had one word to describe Alzheimer's disease - devastating.

"It's devastating," said William "Bill" Kittler, chairman of the seven-member Memory Walk committee. "This disease is the type of disease that affects individuals and the people around them like no other. It's devastating emotionally and it's devastating financially."

With virtually no treatment and no known causes, Alzheimer's now afflicts an estimated 5 million people nationwide. The degenerative illness affects the brain and is the most common form of dementia, though scientists are still unsure of its origin.

Approximately 170,000 people live with Alzheimer's in Massachusetts, 4,000 of whom reside in Berkshire County.

"Unlike so many other illnesses, everyone in the population is at risk for Alzheimer's," said Karen Gold, a member of the state's Alzheimer's Association board of directors.

With so little attention paid to the disease, it's important that communities find ways to recognize the individuals coping with Alzheimer's and the family members and caregivers who sacrifice so much to care for patients.

"Alzheimer's doesn't get the attention it deserves until we do an event like this," said Kittler.

Organizers expect 400 to 500 Berkshire residents to participate in the Memory Walk on Sept. 15 on the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail. An event to raise awareness and funds for the Alzheimer's Association, the walk takes place in 10 locations across the state throughout the month of September.

To date, the Berkshire chapter has raised $350,000 toward the statewide goal of reaching $1.4 million in pledges.

"It's our chance to speak out for those who can't speak out for themselves," said Gold.

According to Marcia McKenzie, the Western Massachusetts coordinator for the Alzheimer's Association, the walk is an opportunity to salute those caring for Alzheimer's patients.

"There are no survivors of this disease, so the walk in itself is a tribute to caregivers," said McKenzie.

The money raised from the Memory Walk will be used to fund caregiver support programs, including professional education, care consultations and connections to local resources.

"All that we do is for the caregiver. By supporting them, we're ultimately saving them," said McKenzie, noting that caregivers endure tremendous stress and often neglect their own lives.

With the rate of those affected with Alzheimer's increasing as the baby boomer generation ages, the Alzheimer's Association is more dedicated to providing support for caregivers.

"The disease is heading toward epidemic proportions," said Gold.

This year's Memory Walk will kick off from Farnam's Road Causeway on the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail at 9 a.m. on Sept. 15. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. The one- to four-mile walk runs along Cheshire Reservoir and all participants who raise more than $125 receive a free T-Shirt.

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This year's honorary chairmen are Pittsfield Mayor James M. Ruberto, whose mother has Alzheimer's disease, and his wife, Ellen. Ruberto will officially proclaim that Sept. 21 is World Alzheimer's Day at the City Council meeting tonight at 7:30.
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Live entertainment at the walk will be provided by Bernice Lewis and Bowie the Clown and food has been donated by Applebee's and Papa Joe's Pizzeria.

"It's a serious cause, but it's really a party," said Gold.

For more information about Alzheimer's disease, and how to walk in or volunteer for the Berkshire Memory Walk, contact Marcia McKenzie at 413-787-1113; or visit www.memorywalkma.org for more information about all 10 Memory Walks being held in Massachusetts throughout September.

Jen Thomas can be reached at jthomas at iberkshires dot com

Wednesday, September 12, 2007 4:56:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

School heads face inquiry

City

The Berkshire Eagle

Article Last Updated: 09/14/2007
Friday, September 14, 2007

The investigation stems from Gov. Deval L. Patrick's campaign appearance at PHS.

By Tony Dobrowolski

Berkshire Eagle Staff

PITTSFIELD — The state Ethics Commission is investigating the actions of the Pittsfield School Department's top two administrators in relation to Gov. Deval L. Patrick's campaign appearance at Pittsfield High School last fall, a School Department attorney said yesterday.

According to those familiar with the situation, a complaint filed with the Ethics Commission alleges that taxpayer funds were used for Patrick's campaign purposes. He was running for governor at the time.

Superintendent of Schools Katherine E. Darlington and Assistant Superintendent Howard J. Eberwein III are being questioned to determine their part in planning the event at Pittsfield High. State Ethics Commission spokeswoman Carol Carson was unavailable for comment yesterday afternoon.

Although Pittsfield School Committee members said the investigation was in regard to a "political event" that occurred at Pittsfield High in October 2006, Patrick actually appeared at the school on Nov. 1, 2006.

Eberwein, who was promoted to assistant superintendent this summer, was the school's principal when Patrick appeared there.

In response to the investigation, the School Committee has voted to pay the legal fees and costs for Darlington and Eberwein. However, the school system will not pay those fees if the commission finds their actions were "grossly negligent, willful or malicious."

Mayor James M. Ruberto, an ex-officio member of the School Committee, abstained from the vote, saying he also is expected to be questioned by the Ethics Commission for his role in Patrick's appearance.

Ruberto declined to discuss the matter during a telephone interview yesterday, saying, "I can't comment because I expect to be questioned as well by the commission." Darlington also said she did not want to discuss the situation.

Patrick's appearance came the day after Ruberto endorsed state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, during a press conference in the mayor's City Hall office.

In February, the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance found that Ruberto's use of public resources — his office space — to endorse Downing "did not comply with the campaign finance law." It took no punitive action against Ruberto, instead providing him with guidelines to ensure that the situation did not happen again.

The Office of Campaign and Political Finance also examined the city's role in holding the rally for Patrick at Pittsfield High but found no wrongdoing. It ruled that school grounds can be used as the site for a political rally as long as equal access is provided to all candidates.

School Department attorney Fred Dupere said it is common for the department's insurance company to pay for claims made against either the school system or an individual employed by the city's public schools.

"In this particular case, no complaint has been filed in Superior Court," he said. "It's at the investigative level."

Dupere said his representation of the superintendent is already covered by his contract with the School Committee.

"If you agree to indemnify her legal fees, it will not cost the school system a penny more," he said.

But because he has already begun to represent Darlington, the Ethics Commission has advised him that he cannot also serve as Eberwein's legal counsel "because he's the other individual under investigation at this time by the commonwealth." He suggested that Eberwein be allowed to select his own attorney, paid for by the school system.

Dupere said legal expenses for a matter that is in the investigative stage would not cost the School Committee as much as fees for court litigation.

"It would be advice, consultation, maybe attendance at a deposition," Dupere said.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
tdobrowolski at berkshireeagle dot com,(413) 496-6224.

Saturday, September 15, 2007 1:53:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

BCC to Host Mayoral Debate
- September 13, 2007

PITTSFIELD - Berkshire Community College, in collaboration with the Pittsfield Gazette and Pittsfield Community Television, has scheduled a one-hour debate for the candidates running for election as mayor of Pittsfield. The debate is set for Monday evening, Sept. 17, at 7 in the Robert Boland Theatre on BCC’s main campus at 1350 West St.

Candidates invited to participate include incumbent James Ruberto, and challengers Stephen Fillio and Donna Walto. Clarence Fanto, a former news editor and director, respectively, at The Berkshire Eagle and WAMC, will moderate.

The public is invited to attend the debate at BCC or watch via the live telecast on CityLink, the government channel of PCTV. The debate will also be rebroadcast on PCTV several times prior to the preliminary elections.

Additional debates at BCC, following the preliminary elections on Tuesday, Sept. 25, have been scheduled for the two mayoral finalists, as well as candidates in other contested races. The general municipal ballot is set for Tuesday, Nov. 6.

---

Ruberto tends to wife; will miss tonight's debate

The Berkshire Eagle -
Pittsfield,MA,USA

PITTSFIELD -- Tonight's first debate among Pittsfield's three mayoral candidates will be missing one member: current Mayor James M. Ruberto. ...

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The candidates say they're OK with the incumbent's absence.

By Derek Gentile, Berkshire Eagle Staff

The Berkshire Eagle
09/18/2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007

PITTSFIELD — Mayor James M. Ruberto's absence from last night's mayoral debate at Berkshire Community College clearly took a little spice from the event, but both his challengers, who did show, were noncommittal about his nonattendance.

"I don't know. I'm going to say what I'm going to say whether he's here or not," said candidate Stephen Fillio.

Candidate Donna Walto said she heard this afternoon about the illness of the mayor's wife, Ellen Ruberto.

"I didn't really know about this until a few hours ago," she said. "All I will say is that our prayers go out to them."

Ruberto is in Boston with his wife, who underwent surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital on Friday. They are expected to return today.

Last night's event, moderated by Clarence Fanto, former Eagle managing editor and former WAMC news director, was itself a low-key affair. No more than a dozen residents, mostly friends or relatives of the two candidates, made it to the college's Robert Boland Theater.

The debate, televised live, was sponsored by BCC, along with the Pittsfield Gazette and Pittsfield Community Television.

This was the only debate scheduled prior to the city's preliminary election slated for next Tuesday, Sept. 25. The preliminary election will eliminate one of the three candidates.

The two challengers discussed a variety of topics, including the potential for economic development, the use of tax incentives to draw new businesses into town, potential solutions to improve the city's school system and downtown revitalization.

---

Mayoral Candidates Debate the Issues

By Jen Thomas - September 18, 2007

Candidates for mayor of Pittsfield Donna Walto and Stephen Fillio discussed their plans for the city at BCC on Monday night.

PITTSFIELD - Even with the absence of Mayor James M. Ruberto and fewer than 10 audience members, Monday night's mayoral debates did not lack controversy, passion or outrage.

Held at Berkshire Community College and moderated by Clarence Fanto, former Berkshire Eagle managing editor, the debates featured Donna M. Walto, who was defeated by Ruberto in 2005, and newcomer Stephen Fillio. With a primary election scheduled for Sept. 25, the debates were the last opportunity for the candidates to publicly address the issues that are critical to the future growth of the city.

Ruberto was unable to make the debates after making a trip to Boston to remain with his wife, Ellen Ruberto, following cancer surgery.

Walto's Platform: Economic Development

In her statements, Walto said she believed Ruberto had done all that he could do in the way of furthering the city's economic development projects. As a local entrepreneur, Walto said she had the necessary skills to take the city into the next stage, which she said would return it to "the heights we once knew."

For Walto, the key to that economic prosperity is the William Stanley Business Park, a business redevelopment project on the General Electric campus that has yet to welcome its first tenant. Under the auspices of the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority, the site was to be the new home of Petricca Industries Inc. earlier this year. Petricca was forced to back out when it was discovered that the ground could not support the proposed construction.

"The PEDA property is the single most important economic development piece in our puzzle," said Walto, who owns and operates a company that offers guided tours of Berkshire County.

For everything from downtown revitalization to uses for the GE Economic Development Fund to ways to reduce the city's crime rate, Walto cited the business park as a top priority.

"We need to take the center of the city and make it electric," she said. "So goes Pittsfield, so goes the rest of the Berkshires."

Walto called for a private investigation into the goings-on at the site, including an evaluation of PEDA’s board of directors and Executive Director Thomas E. Hickey Jr.

"The loss of Petricca sets a bad precedent; it’s negative imaging for the city of Pittsfield," Walto said. "We need to know, as the people of Pittsfield, what exactly is going on with PEDA and we need to help every business to expand in order to bring us to prosperity again. As mayor of the city, I will make sure something positive happens on the property."

Working Class Heroes

Beginning the night by saying "I just have to get mad a little," Fillio rested on a platform that supports the working class and wished to draw funds away from organizations and businesses that are specifically geared toward the wealthy.

"I’m a hard-working person and I’m here for the hard-working people," Fillio said. "No one’s worried about the elderly, no one’s worried about the veterans. Everything in the city is about helping the upper class, not the working class, not the middle class."

With an emphasis on revitalizing the school system and putting more energy and resources into law enforcement, Fillio said he was sick of seeing "politicians line their pockets" with money that could be used for education.

"Our kids are more important than anything else in this city. We should use our money instead of giving it away to everyone else," he said. "Schools come first, education comes first, our kids come first."

Saying he’d cut the mayor’s salary in half, Fillio wants to reroute funds from what he called "wasteful" projects to supporting teachers and police officers.

"Mayor Ruberto has done nothing but raise taxes over the last four years. I don’t have deep pockets. We’re all just here trying to make a living and survive," he said.

Speaking after the debates, Fillio said, though he did get fired up, he was proud he did not get too out of control.

"I thought I was going to get [angry] and go off," he said. "If I make it up here again, I’ll do better."

The runoff election to determine which candidate will be eliminated will be held on Sept. 25; the final two candidates will face off on Nov. 6.

---

Tuesday, September 18, 2007 4:28:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Mayor Ruberto will run again

9/20/2007 1:00 PM

PITTSFIELD, MASS. -- Pittsfield Mayor James Ruberto is hoping to keep his seat as he announces he'll be making another run for the city's top office.

It's been speculated that Ruberto would run for a third term, and on Thursday, he made it official.

Since taking office in 2004, he has pushed economic development initiatives, including rebuilding Pittsfield's downtown businesses.

Thursday, September 20, 2007 6:45:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Ruberto to give three a try
Pittsfield mayor kicks off re-election bid

By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff

The Berkshire Eagle

Article Last Updated: 09/21/2007

Friday, September 21, 2007

PITTSFIELD — Accompanied by his wife, Ellen, Mayor James M. Ruberto yesterday officially announced his candidacy for a third term as Pittsfield's chief executive during a rally at Sottile Park.

Seven days after Mrs. Ruberto underwent her third cancer operation since 2005, the couple walked the 21 2 blocks from City Hall to the rally at the park, where Ruberto stressed his administration's accomplishments during his four years in office and the goals for the next two.

Ruberto also asked the roughly 50 people in attendance, the majority either supporters or city officials, to join him in continuing to make Pittsfield the best small city in the Northeast.

"We have accomplished a lot in four years, and you know, we've done it together," Ruberto said.

"To ask for your vote, to receive your support, to see the tremendous progress this city has made, it's really overwhelming," the mayor said.

Ruberto, who turns 61 on Dec. 10, is making his fourth run for the mayor's office. He lost to Sara Hathaway in 2001, then defeated her two years later. He was re-elected in 2005, defeating Donna M. Walto, who also is running for the office this year. Stephen Fillio is running for mayor as well.

With only five days remaining before Tuesday's preliminary election, Ruberto is the only one of the three candidates to have made an official campaign announcement.

The top two vote getters in Tuesday's election will meet in the Nov. 6 general election.

Yesterday, Walto said she plans to make her official campaign announcement after Tuesday's preliminaries. "It will be somewhere in Morningside," Walto said, referring to the Pittsfield neighborhood in which she grew up.

Fillio did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

Ruberto has kicked off his last three campaigns at Sottile Park, which is named after his uncle, the late Anthony V. Sottile, a city auditor who served under four mayors.

He referred to his wife of 38 years, the former Ellen Reynolds, as his "partner" and the "first lady of Pittsfield." The couple, who both graduated from St. Joseph's High School in 1964, discussed her health issues last spring before he decided to run for re-election, Ruberto said.

"We felt the best course of action was to move forward," he said.

Ruberto said he does not anticipate his wife's health affecting his running of the city, especially his communication with the 11-member City Council.

"We can communicate whether we're in Pittsfield, or Boston or Bonita Springs, Fla.," Ruberto said, referring to the Florida town where the couple own a condominium.

Ruberto hugged his wife before he began speaking and kissed her when he completed his prepared remarks.

"I'm feeling fantastic," Mrs. Ruberto said. "Prayers really make a large difference."

Ruberto also explained his decision not to participate in Monday night's debate with Walto and Fillio, saying he made the right decision to be with his wife in Boston, where she was recovering from the surgery.

Ruberto said he would be willing to participate in other debates, but added that he had no interest in discussing "innuendo or baseless allegations," referring to his opinion of the 2005 mayoral campaign debates.

During a question-and-answer session, Sandy Burda of Pittsfield asked Ruberto if the city planned to fix the traffic signals in the downtown area. Burda, who is confined to a wheelchair, said the current traffic signals blink and that she was almost hit twice while crossing the street.

Ruberto said that the downtown traffic signals are scheduled to be replaced as part of the city's roughly $3 million Streetscape Project.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski: tdobrowolski at berkshireeagle dot com, (413) 496-6224.

Saturday, September 22, 2007 1:48:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Melle said...

Mayor Ruberto should debate

Letters

The Berkshire Eagle

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Has Mayor Ruberto become so powerful and out of tune with the people that he can decide what debates he will attend and what debates he won't?

As a voter in the city, I want to hear how Mayor Ruberto plans to address the growing crime and gang problem. I want to hear how and when he plans to bring the high paying jobs that he has promised but has yet to deliver.

Mayor Ruberto seems to always talk about his "track record," but if one carefully examines it, the only people he has truly benefited are the rich and elite. Oh, and should I also mention the gang members and drug dealers? It's time to answer at the debates, Mayor Ruberto.

WILLIAM SMITHISON
Pittsfield

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Pittsfield's Race for Mayor

Debating the Debates
Candidates making debate formats a campaign issue

By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff

The Berkshire Eagle

Monday, October 08, 2007

PITTSFIELD — Mayor James M. Ruberto said that he is interested in debating challenger Donna M. Walto twice before next month's election, but only in events sponsored by organizations such as the Berkshire County Chamber of Commerce or the city's Youth Commission.

Ruberto said he would be unwilling to appear in debates sponsored by the Pittsfield Gazette, the city's weekly newspaper. The Gazette, in conjunction with Berkshire Community College and Pittsfield Community Television, has been the most frequent sponsor of debates for candidates running for city or state office over the last few years.

As of Friday, those three organizations were sponsoring one mayoral debate, at 8 p.m., on Oct. 22 at BCC's Boland Theater. Walto and Ruberto, who are facing each other in a rematch of the 2005 mayor's race, are scheduled to appear that night following debates by the candidates in Ward 1 and Ward 2. The event, broadcast live on PCTV, begins at 7 p.m.

Gazette publisher Jonathan Levine said he was unaware that Ruberto had chosen not to participate.

"He has not voiced to me what you just said," he said.

The Gazette has been sponsoring debates between Pittsfield political candidates since 1991, Levine said, and has made efforts to allow the public to see and hear each candidate at all the forums it has co-sponsored.

"If only one candidate wants to go forward, we will proceed," he said.

The Youth Commission is also planning a mayoral debate for 10 a.m., on Oct. 24, at St. Joseph Central High School, commissioner Brittany Berman said. Ruberto debated former Mayor Sara Hathaway at St. Joseph's during the 2003 campaign, but Walto declined to debate at that venue two years ago because Ruberto is a St. Joe graduate.

The chamber sponsored one debate between Ruberto and Walto two years ago. Chamber President and CEO Michael Supranowicz said the organization is interested in sponsoring a debate this year, but has yet to finalize any plans.

Ruberto said that he believes debates sponsored by community organizations or city commissions will be conducted under formats that will allow the candidates to stick closely to the issues.

Gazette/BCC/PCTV-sponsored events have also focused on city issues, but Ruberto said Friday that some of the debate formats have been too open-ended.

He referred specifically to events conducted under the Lincoln-Douglas debate format, which has been used at some Gazette/BCC/PCTV events, including one mayoral debate between Ruberto and Walto during the 2005 campaign.

Based on guidelines that Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas followed when they campaigned for the U.S. Senate in 1858, this style features candidates standing next to each other and discussing their points-of-view with no moderator present.

"I want to have face-to-face meetings with my opponent," Ruberto said. "But I think that it's critical that our campaign teams insure that the format is regulated to focusing on the issues."

When asked if he would participate in a Gazette-sponsored debate that did not include the Lincoln-Douglas format, Ruberto said, "that's a hypothetical, and I'm not going to talk about hypotheticals.

"I think two debates is sufficient," Ruberto said. "We've already met one time at the GE pensioners meeting. I think two more will certainly address the interests of the people in a regulated format and that people will be able to sense the depth of the understanding."

Levine said the Oct. 22 mayoral debate will not be conducted under the Lincoln-Douglas format.

"It tends to be used only for candidates who have made multiple appearances and are better known," Levine said. "This year there is a different dynamic for most of the races."

Ruberto did not appear in the lone debate between the three mayoral candidates that took place before last week's preliminary election that eliminated challenger Stephen R. Fillio. That debate, also sponsored by the Gazette, BCC and PCTV, occurred two days after Ruberto's wife, Ellen, underwent cancer surgery, and the couple was still in Boston.

In a recent interview, Ruberto said he had initially considered not participating in that debate, but later reconsidered because he didn't want to address the "nagging questions" about why he wasn't there.

Ruberto said then that he would be willing to debate Walto, but only under "guidelines" that would ensure the conversation did not include on the "innuendo" and "misrepresentations" that occurred during the candidates' 2005 debates.

Walto could not be reached for comment for this article, but in a recent interview said she was confused by Ruberto's request.

"I'm not sure what he means by guidelines," she said. "Let him say what the guidelines are and I will respond to that."


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Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Casino issue to city voters

Nov. 6 ballot question will assess
public opinion on legalized gambling

By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff

The Berkshire Eagle

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

PITTSFIELD — Gov. Deval L. Patrick is expected to file his resort casino bill with the Legislature this week, but Pittsfield voters will have a chance to express their views on this controversial issue next month.

The non-binding referendum asks voters if they approve of legalized casino gambling in Massachusetts; the question will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot for the general election. It is the only ballot question on the warrant, which the City Council approved last night.

Since the measure is non-binding, the city is not bound by its results.

However, the state secretary of Housing and Economic Development has said the governor's bill will contain a binding referendum for local cities and towns. Daniel O'Connell, the governor's chief adviser on gambling, said that will give local voters the power to approve or reject any gambling casino that is proposed for their community.

At the end of last week, Patrick was putting the finishing touches on his bill, which will have developers paying $300,000 to bid for the three casino licenses.

Neither Pittsfield nor the Berkshires are expected to be considered as one of the three possible sites for a resort-style casino if the governor's bill is approved. Palmer, more than an hour east of Pittsfield, is said to be considered a site for a Western Massachusetts casino. The two other casinos would be in southeastern Massachusetts and the greater Boston area.

But the results of a non-binding referendum can gauge public opinion among city voters both for and against this issue. That is the intent of the ballot question's sponsor, Peter G. Arlos, a casino gambling opponent and a former City Councilor.

"What I'm trying to do is determine how many people are against it," Arlos said.

Arlos has filed a second petition that asks the City Council to invite Patrick to Pittsfield to discuss his plans to allow casino gambling in the state. The Council last night gave that petition a verbal workout before voting to file the measure.

The council voted 6-3 against approval before the measure was filed. Ward 2 Councilor Louis A. Costi joined Ward and Bianchi in voting for approval.

Bianchi said it was doubtful that Patrick would appear in Pittsfield even if the council approved Arlos' petition, but suggested that maybe a member of the governor's staff could be interviewed live on Pittsfield Community Television.

Mayor James M. Ruberto said he's in favor of casino gambling, but would rather see it located in Palmer.

"I would just prefer it to not be in Berkshire County," Ruberto said, "because our focus in Berkshire County is culture. That is our brand: culture and nature in harmony. And gambling doesn't fit with that statement and who we are."

Ruberto is also not in favor of having the issue put before voters as a non-binding referendum.

"I am not in favor of non-binding ballot questions," he said, "simply because they don't carry with them any obligation. A non-binding ballot question is like a beauty contest, because you know in advance that it's not going to result in any action."

Mayoral candidate Donna M. Walto said she plans to release a statement on casino gambling, and that it will be up to city residents to decide the issue.

Patrick has said that he hopes resort-style casinos will generate $400 million in state revenue, create 20,000 well-paying jobs, and an additional 30,000 jobs during construction.

He expects the revenue would be enough to help the state make much needed infrastructure improvements — particularly to roads and bridges, funnel aid to cities and towns, and bring an average of $230 per year in property tax relief to state homeowners.

"I think what Gov. Patrick is looking for is a variety of revenue streams to support local community needs and state needs," Ruberto said. "He's trying to do it by lowering the burden on property owners.

"I will continue to support the governor as he looks to raise revenue in the state without continuing to burden property owners," he said.

Despite the additional revenue casino gambling would bring to the state, a University of Massachusetts study found that 2 percent of state residents, some 123,000 people, already are problem gamblers, which costs the state $170 million a year for treatment, social services, lost job productivity and legal proceedings connected to either bankruptcy or divorce.

A study done by the University of Chicago found that the incidence of problem and pathological gambling doubles in areas within 50 miles of a casino. Palmer is more than 50 miles from Pittsfield.

Regarding the social ills associated with gambling, Ruberto said he supported an earlier Patrick proposal to keep slot machines out of state racetracks.

"I think that feeds an illness," Ruberto said.

Thursday, October 11, 2007 4:56:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Melle said...

American Medical Response laying off 35, closing doors in Pittsfield
By Scott Stafford, Berkshire Eagle
North Adams Transcript
Saturday, October 13, 2007

PITTSFIELD — American Medical Response, one of two emergency medical response companies in Pittsfield, will close its local operation as of Dec. 31.

At a meeting on Tuesday, the company distributed layoff notices to its 35 full- and part-time employees. According to one employee, who wished to remain unnamed, the company was in the midst of contract negotiations with local union officials at the time.

Even though the city of Pittsfield has two emergency response companies handling calls, the city has nevertheless had to seek emergency aid from neighboring towns when crews are spread too thin.

But Pittsfield acting Fire Chief James Sullivan said the loss of AMR emergency response teams should not affect the city's ability to respond to emergencies, as the other company contracted by the city, County Ambulance, is working to add equipment and personnel.

"I believe County is adding vehicles and personnel to meet the anticipated need," he said.

According to David Pelletier, general manager of the Western Massachusetts division of AMR, the company has been working in the Pittsfield area for more than 10 years, with a dispatch garage on West Housatonic Street.

By phone from his Springfield office, Pelletier attributed the closure to declining reimbursements from health insurance companies and Medicare and to the increased expense of doing business.

He said the closing should not reflect poorly on local AMR employees.

"We're very proud of the employees up there," he said. "They are hard workers and good people."

He said the company will be meeting with union representatives soon to discuss severance details.

"Declining reimbursements caused revenue declines. Expenses grew to exceed the income, which makes it hard to run a business unit," Pelletier said.

The ambulances will be "redeployed throughout our company," he added.

Another AMR employee, who also requested anonymity, said that many of the laid-off workers are applying for jobs at County Ambulance and have had favorable results. He declined to elaborate.

Brian Andrews, president of County Ambulance Service, said his company is indeed moving to pick up the slack left when AMR leaves.

AMR employees are being interviewed for "at least a dozen full-time openings and a few part-time slots," he said.

"AMR closing makes us a bigger company over here," Andrews said. "We know there is going to be a void, so we've already started the process buying more vehicles and interviewing their employees."

The family-owned County Ambulance, which has been working in Pittsfield since 1982, also has a new ambulance unit on the way and is in the process of purchasing others, although it is too early to determine exactly how many they will need.

The decline in reimbursements from insurance companies and Medicare, Andrews said, has been an issue for the industry, but hasn't had as much of an effect on County because "we're a small company, and we don't have a lot of that big corporate overhead."

Saturday, October 13, 2007 11:32:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Melle said...

What about the socially unjust poor demographic numbers and the worsening human conditions in Pittsfield, Massachusetts? Pittsfield is the #1 place in the state for job LOSSES; Teen Pregnancies now double the statewide average; the public schools are among the worst performing in the state, with high drop-out and truancy rates; Welfare caseloads are higher than ever. It seems that Ruberto is for "the people" so long as "the people" are among the elite demographics: Wealthy, Tourists, Politically connected, and the like.

-Jonathan Melle

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Ruberto is 'the people's' choice

Letters - The Berkshire Eagle

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Mayor Ruberto's opponent says she is "for the people." I'm not sure what this means as I don't know one person who isn't for the people. What she doesn't put forward are creative ideas or a concrete platform that she would implement to help the people if she became mayor.
Mayor Ruberto is also for the people — aren't we all? But the difference is that he had a vision and plans for the people and has been implementing them the last four years.

Ever since I moved to Pittsfield many years ago, I've been told by longtime residents that "you should have seen Pittsfield when it was alive and active." They further stated it would never return to its old glory as the destination hub of the county.

Well, under the leadership and guidance of our mayor, it has been happening and it continues to happen. Pittsfield is no longer the figurative "hole in the donut" of Berkshire County. Pittsfield is alive again — just as we all had hoped, but had resigned ourselves to the idea that it would probably never happen.

We now have world-class theaters, thriving eateries, new shops and businesses, re-energized museums, and new downtown housing.

Pittsfield is alive and active. Thank you, Mayor Ruberto. You have my vote as well as all "the people" I know.

DENNIS KINNE

Pittsfield

Saturday, October 13, 2007 11:42:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Melle said...

Re: The Mayors and local elites in the Pittsfield/North Adams area are all SELFISH and SICK BASTARDS!

10/31/2007

Re: "Ruberto and Walto Face Off in Debate" (iBerkshires.com, By Jen Thomas, October 30, 2007): Mayor Jim Ruberto predictably paints a rosy picture of his administration to cover up the purposeful use of perverse incentives that have a negative or deleterious impact on society but also with benefits for his wealthy constituency, namely keeping taxes artificially lower on places like Crofut Street and throwing money at special interests that do NOT help the common residents.

Jimmy Ruberto states the following:

#1 - A third term would mean continuing the initiatives he's already put in place and working to produce "more results."
"We're looking at new businesses while also working hard to retain what we have," said Ruberto.

NOTE: Pittsfield, Massachusetts ranked # 1 in job LOSSES in 2006. Ruberto took office in early-2004. That is 3 years of Jimmy Ruberto being Mayor with the WORST POSSIBLE PUBLIC RECORD ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT! (see news articles below).

#2 - Ruberto outlined his administration's commitment to placing more teachers in classrooms as an indicator of his dedication to education. While much had been done in the schools, he said, there are still certain elements where "critical improvement is still needed," including a still-escalating high school dropout rate and less-than-outstanding Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System test scores.

NOTE: Pittsfield graduate rates low; Ranked in bottom 13% in state (Friday, February 02, 2007): Pittsfield graduated only 67.6 percent of its students who entered high school in 2002, a number that climbed to 72.9 percent among students who spent all four years at Pittsfield high schools.

#3 - Ruberto said he plans to follow the city's values of creativity, innovation, compassion, tolerance and entrepreneurship, if re-elected. "We've layed out a vision and we've begun to implement that vision and we will continue to do so. There is history and evidence that this administration has moved forward effectively and efficiently," Ruberto said. "I've seen all the difference."

NOTE: The LEGACY of the Ruberto Administration, like North Adams John Barrett III, and past Pittsfield Mayors before him: Ed Reilly, Gerry Doyle, etc., is a LEGACY of POVERTY and PERVERSE INCENTIVES. PLEASE review all of the TEEN PREGNANCY news articles I have compiled, which may be found below.

-Jonathan A. Melle
Halloween, 2007

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A REVIEW OF THE PROLIFERATION TEEN PREGNANCIES IN MY NATIVE HOMETOWN OF PITTSFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS
-By Jonathan Alan Melle

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TEEN PREGNANCY RATES IN PITTSFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS, DOUBLE THE STATEWIDE AVERAGE!...BY DESIGN...as PERVERSE INCENTIVES RULE PITTSFIELD's GOVERNMENT!...The Mayor and communitarian Elites in the Pittsfield/North Adams area are all SELFISH and SICK BASTARDS!
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Saturday, 3 February, 2007

Re: "Teen pregnancy up, youth programs down" (Letter to the Editor of The Berkshire Eagle, by Holly Brouker, Saturday, February 03, 2007): Teen pregnancies are up in Pittsfield by design. Why? As Rinaldo Del Gallo III pointed out in a previous letter to the Editor of The Berkshire Eagle earlier this week, the answer lies in perverse economic incentives!
A poor, post-industrial city government such as Pittsfield, Massachusetts' biggest economic resource is not business, but government. Why is this so and how does it even begin to make sense? Both from many decades of personal experience of growing up in Pittsfield and the surrounding area, and through my studies and personal interests in political science and public administration, the answers lie in the economic principles of both risk and its close second liabilities.
The political system works and is administered as follows: The Federal Government appropriates billions of social service and public educational dollars every fiscal year to the state governments to administer. With these public dollars, the state governments have to meet certain regulatory guidelines and compliance standards or else they will be penalized and funds will be withheld. To see a state not meet federal regulatory standards, just look at what happened to federal funding with the "Big Dig" in Boston. The state governments then receive these federal dollars for social service and public educational dollars and administer them to the school districts, meaning to the city and town governments.
Let us stop here for a brief moment. The state government uses perverse economic incentives instead of rational economic incentives by taking the federal dollars and meeting the minimal federal regulatory standards for social service and public education. Why do the state's do this? So that the states can take the rest of the federal money and complement it to their own state fiscal year budget. Now the state governments can bridge their own budget gaps, vote each other legislative pay raises, allow a new governor to try to buy off the Legislature with another pay raise (see Deval-uator Patrick), and the like.
Going forward. The cities and towns then receive the federal dollars through the state administered programs for their social services and public educational programs. Now, the municipal government uses perverse economic incentives instead of rational economic incentives by taking the state administered federal dollars and only meets the minimal state regulatory standards for social service and public education. Why to the city and town governments do this? So that the municipality can take the rest of the state administered federal money and complement it to their own local fiscal year budget. Now the municipal governments can artificially lower property taxes (to the extent possible), subsidize business tax breaks, and have fancy new theaters and ball parks.
So, back to the economic principles of both risk and its close second liabilities. Now, to a local government, business open and close, move out of town, lay off workers, and the like. What does this all mean to a Mayor? The answer is long-term risks that if lose money through property taxes, jobs, and the like, mean increase liabilities (financial obligations) for the municipal government the Mayor is administering -- meaning Mayor McCheese will be faced with big property tax hikes to fill the annual fiscal year municipal budget gap, which will lead to the end of his time in political office.
So what does Mayor McCheese invest in? You got it, the government! Why? Because it is a sure thing with low risks and low liabilities. Every year, good old Uncle Sam is going to spend billions of social service and public education federal dollars, and every year the state government is going to take that money to administer to the cities and towns.
So what happens next for a city like Pittsfield? In order to for the municipality to receive the government dollars, they need people to fill the slots for social service and public educational public dollars. How does Pittsfield recruit these people to "North Street" or "Social Service Alley"? You got it! By allowing teenage girls and young woman to have unprotected sexual intercourse and become pregnant and receive all of the social service entitlement welfare benefits. Now, you have a mother receiving benefits, a child that will be in need for many decades to come, and going to the local public schools to boot, and "deadbeat dad" tied down to the locality by child support -- one of two payments one can never write off to bankruptcy (the other debt being student loans).
In the end, Pittsfield now receives tens of millions of dollars in federally appropriated and state administered public dollars every fiscal year. Wow, what a profit! In conclusion, Teen Pregnancies are up in Pittsfield by design because of PERVERSE ECONOMIC INCENTIVES! The letter, pasted below, illustrates everything I just wrote. Read on...

-Jonathan A. Melle
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Teen births - BERKSHIRE County
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Pittsfield's teen birth rate nearly doubles the statewide figure. The following numbers reflect the amount of teen pregnancies for every thousand girls in 2004:
Massachusetts 22
Lawrence 79
Fitchburg 46
Pittsfield 43
Boston 26
Source: Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy
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NEWS ARTICLE:
Teen pregnancy up in Pittsfield, Massachusetts
By Jack Dew, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Thursday, January 25, 2007
PITTSFIELD — The teen pregnancy rate rose in Pittsfield in 2005, even as the state and national numbers declined.
The state Department of Public Health conducts an annual survey of all births in Massachusetts. Its report for 2005, released on Tuesday, shows that Pittsfield continues to buck the state and national trend of slowing teen pregnancies.
There were 67 babies born to mothers aged 15 to 19 in Pittsfield in 2005. That equates to a rate of 52.7 babies for every 1,000 girls in that age group, the seventh-highest in the state.
That is an increase of nearly 14 percent over 2004, when there were 59 teen births, or 46.4 per 1,000 in Pittsfield.
Meanwhile, Massachusetts has watched its teen pregnancy rate decline steadily for the past 15 years: In 2005, there were 21.7 teen mothers per 1,000 teen girls, versus roughly 35 in 1990.
'Growing Up Fast'
The Pittsfield numbers perpetuate a worrisome trend in the city, which has been under scrutiny since 2003, when a book, "Growing Up Fast," and a companion documentary movie focused attention on teen pregnancy in the city.
The book and movie concentrated on six teen mothers, telling their stories as they struggled with their young families.
The new numbers show that, while Pittsfield's rate may fluctuate from one year to the next, it has stayed stubbornly high.
And over the five-year period from 2000 to 2005, teen pregnancies increased by almost 24 percent.
The Pittsfield trend sticks out in a state that has a teen birth rate that is 46 percent below the national average of 40.4 births per 1,000 teens.
In fact, Massachusetts is seeing the average age of its mothers increase, with the majority waiting until they are between the ages of 30 and 34 to have children, according to the Department of Public Health report.
Nationally, the majority of women having children fall into the 25 to 29 age range.
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» Teen pregnancy
Teen births in Pittsfield per 1,000 females aged 15 to 19:
2000 — 42.6
2001 — 36
2002 — 44.8
2003 — 52.9
2004 — 46.4*
2005 — 52.7
*The DPH revised this number this year to take into account a change in Pittsfield's estimated population. The number published in 2006 was 43.4.
Teen births in Massachusetts per 1,000 females aged 15 to 19:
2000 — 25.8
2001 — 24.3
2002 — 22.6
2003 — 22.6
2004 — 22.2
2005 — 21.7
Teen births in the United States per 1,000 females aged 15 to 19:
2000 — 48.5
2001 — 45.8
2002 — 42.9
2003 — 41.7
2004 — 41.2
2005 — 40.4
Source: The Massachusetts Department of Public Health
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Persistent problem of teen pregnancy
Editorial
The Berkshire Eagle
Tuesday, January 30, 2007

While the rest of the state is celebrating modest progress in the effort to combat teen pregnancy, the problem only grows worse in Pittsfield. This is as puzzling as it is disappointing. Pittsfield is not unique in the socioeconomic programs that lead to a high teen pregnancy rate. There is no giving up, but if current strategies aren't working, what can be done?
According to the state Department of Public Health, the teen pregnancy rate declined 2.25 percent to 21.7 per 1,000 in 2005, while the rate skyrocketed 13.6 percent to 46.4 per 1,000 in Pittsfield. The city's prevention programs and agencies were kept well-funded through the advocacy of former state Representative Peter Larkin, and there is no reason to believe agency personnel are not capable and hard working. If, however, teens don't see having babies as a problem, or if they even see it as a benefit, no amount of money or hard work will make a difference.
Mr. Larkin suggests that part of the problem is drug dealers taking up housekeeping with local girls and winning state-financed housing when a baby comes along, providing the dealers with a base of operations. If this is the case, it is difficult to cut funding for the drug dealer without putting the teen and her child out on the street. It would, however, be just one more reason for law enforcement agencies to clean the city and county of drug-dealing parasites.
In exploring the lives of several Pittsfield teen mothers, author and film-maker Joanna Lipper ("Growing Up Fast") found that the teens in general believed that having babies would boost their self-esteem and give meaning to otherwise empty lives. In reality, becoming a teen mom usually means an end to higher education and a lifetime of poverty. The DPH results suggest that nothing has changed in Pittsfield since Ms. Lipper's revealing book was published in the fall of 2003, and an unrealistic attitude toward having babies by teens will frustrate well-intentioned, well-funded prevention efforts.
The coalition of community groups and social service agencies that sponsored the recently released Berkshire Youth Development Project survey are convinced many youth problems, from pregnancy to alcohol to drugs, can be attributed in part to a lost connection with community, which should provide a sense of right and wrong, as well as outlets like after school activities that build esteem and keep young people occupied. That connection must be restored, and teens, boys and girls, must be more responsible. It isn't enough to throw money at the problem of teen pregnancy.
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Teen pregnancy up, youth programs down
Letters
Saturday, February 03, 2007
To the Editor of THE EAGLE:
Let's review last week's news:
Teen pregnancy rate is up in Pittsfield, the police are teaching health in Lanesborough schools (subject to renewal from state budget), and some school districts claim they cannot afford to support a high school bowling team.
Would you say students do not need health classes or more physical education time? Should they be allowed to experiment in unhealthy behaviors such as sex, alcohol, and drug use? We already know childhood obesity is a rising epidemic which leads to more serious disease. One-third if not more of the children in the United States are considered obese, ticking time bombs. Isn't it just easier to follow the crowd rather than be different, especially when schools and towns don't offer alternative healthy guidance?
You mean to tell me a bunch of motivated kids can't have a bowling team at their high school because there isn't enough money for the important sports teams to exist?
I ask you: What is wrong with this picture? Why isn't the government, national, state and local, looking at our school programs, allotting teachers and coaches who love what they do the money they need to keep our kids bowling, healthy, and not pregnant!
Whatever the activity, families, schools and governments need to look at the big picture and promote a healthier living for life. Kudos to those who continue to try.
HOLLY BROUKER
Pittsfield, Jan. 29, 2007
The writer is a former health/physical education teacher who lost her job because of budget cuts in 2002.
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News Article:
The Washington Post Online
Teen Pregnancy, Birth Rates Plummet Across D.C. Region
By Susan Levine
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 29, 2007; Page A01
~In Part~
In a country with the worst rates in the industrialized world, officials have focused on teen pregnancies and births because of their distressing, lifelong ramifications.
Adolescent mothers frequently compromise not only their health but also their future, dropping out of school and struggling financially. Their babies are at greater risk for a host of problems, including low birth weight and abuse, neglect and poor academic performance.
"Teen childbearing affects young people at both ends of childhood," the Annie E. Casey Foundation has noted.
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One in four Berkshire moms not getting prenatal care
By Anthony Fyden - February, 23 2006
In stark contrast to other Massachusetts communities, fewer than 75 percent of Berkshire mothers received adequate prenatal care in 2004, according to a new statewide report. That means that at least one in every four pregnant women failed to get the care needed to safely deliver healthy babies.
From a statewide perspective, the Massachusetts Births 2004 report, released on Wednesday, held some good news, including that the state's teen birth rate reached an all-time low. In fact, the teen birth rate of 22.2 births per 1,000 women ages 15-19 was 46 percent lower than the national rate. (The teen birth rate for Berkshire County was 25.8 percent).
Also, smoking rates during pregnancy reached an all time low statewide, 7.4 percent, 28 percent below the national rate. And in 2004, Massachusetts had the second lowest Infant Mortality Rate in its history: 4.7 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.
But the report raised some startling red flags for Berkshire County, particularly in the area of prenatal care. The report noted "less than 75 percent of mothers received adequate prenatal care in the Community Health Network of Berkshire County.”
In contrast, over 90 percent of mothers living within the Beverly/Gloucester health network received adequate prenatal care.
In Pittsfield, only 69.4 percent of mothers received adequate prenatal care, compared to over 90 percent of mothers living in Brookline and Arlington.
Pittsfield's Berkshire Medical Center (64.6 percent) was among facilities with the lowest reported rate of adequacy of prenatal care among mothers delivering in 2004. Other hospitals in this category were Boston Medical Center (53.9 percent), Tobey Hospital (62.8 percent), Lowell General Hospital (64.5 percent).
The hospitals with the highest rates of prenatal care included Beverly Hospital (93.3 percent), Saint Vincent Hospital (94.8 percent), Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (95.1 percent), and Brigham and Women's Hospital (98.1 percent).
According to a summary issued to the press, other key findings of the report include:
"In 2004, there was a 2 percent decrease in the number of births statewide. The number of births has decreased by 15 percent from 92,461 births in 1990 to 78,460 in 2004.
"The percentage of low birth weight infants (LBW) (less than 2,500 grams or 5.5 pounds) was 7.8 percent, the highest rate ever, although it is 4 percent below the national rate. Two important factors that account for this increase are the ages of mothers giving birth and the increase in multiple births.
"Older women are more likely to deliver LBW infants. The average age of a woman giving birth in Massachusetts is increasing. In 1980, about 1 in 4 births was to a woman aged 30 or older. In 2004, 56 percent of women giving birth were 30 years or older.
"Multiple births accounted for more than one half of the increase of low birth weight since 1990. The percentage of multiple births remained high in 2004. In 2004, 1 out of 21 births was a multiple birth. In 1990 1 out of 38 births was a multiple birth.
"Teen birth rates were highest in Lawrence (79.4 per 1,000 women ages 15- 19), Holyoke (76.0) and Springfield (70.9).
"Disparities in birth outcomes continue. The Black non-Hispanic IMR is 3 times that of white non-Hispanics (11.4 verses 3.8).
"The report in its entirety is available at www.mass.gov/dph/pubstats.htm . The data is also available through MassCHIP at www.masschip.state.ma.us ."
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NEWS ARTICLE:
THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE-
Pittsfield graduate rates low
Ranked in bottom 13% in state
By Matt Murphy, Eagle Boston Bureau
Friday, February 02, 2007
Pittsfield graduated only 67.6 percent of its students who entered high school in 2002, a number that climbed to 72.9 percent among students who spent all four years at Pittsfield high schools.
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Bump looks to address job losses in Berkshires
2/19/2007
By: Karen Honikel
Governor Deval Patrick's new Executive Director of Workforce Development isn't wasting any time getting down to business.
Former State Representative Suzanne Bump is working to introduce herself to the local business communities and let them know she will make sure the Berkshires are not forgotten on Beacon Hill. She says a major concern right now is addressing the loss of jobs in the Berkshires.
Currently the Berkshires have the highest rate of job loss in Massachusetts. Bump says this can be changed with the right policies in place. She says she will be meeting with the Governor once a week to work on bringing skilled workers and higher paying jobs into the area.
Bump says a key part to local job growth and development will be finding a way to keep the younger workers in the Berkshires.
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Wednesday, October 31, 2007 2:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After visiting Pittsfield for 2 weeks I began to vomit violently and was treated for,what I thought was bulimia.After many,many expensive sessions with my Doctor,what a relief it was to know it was only the lousy cooking of Pepe's Dog and Wings after all.
To celebrate I went to this Chinese Restaurant.The fortune cookie at the end of my meal read:"After such string of good luck,you should spend more time on knees.I considered this message to be spiritual,religious.4 hours later I found its true meaning when hit with a major case of food poisoning

Friday, May 08, 2009 8:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey- the guy knows.

Friday, May 22, 2009 6:40:00 PM  
Blogger charles said...

Often we forget the little guy, the SMB, in our discussions of the comings and goings of the Internet marketing industry. Sure there are times like this when a report surfaces talking about their issues and concerns but, for the most part, we like to talk about big brands and how they do the Internet marketing thing well or not so well.


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Tuesday, February 09, 2010 3:41:00 AM  

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