Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Topic: Incompetence in Pittsfield city government.

Your feedback:


Blogger jonathan said...

Re: My dissent against BRTA fare hikes

Dear Berkshire Bloggers,

Berkshire County (via her state politicians) has sent another message to the local business community: BERKSHIRE COUNTY IS NO PLACE TO DO BUSINESS! By hiking the fares for lower-income commuters, many workers and college students will not be able to affordably travel to work and/or school.

When I was separated from the military 4-years ago, I took the B-Bus everywhere. I bought a pass guaranteeing me a certain amount of bus rides for a fixed price. When I found a job, I was able to buy a car, which I still own today. The B-Bus was a crucial part of my life for several months of my life. Some people have spouses and children and other obligations, and they cannot buy a motor vehicle with their constrained low- income budgets. I was fortunate to be single and have the support of my family. Now that I live in Manchester, N.H., I plan on using their bus system if and when the day comes that my car no longer runs. I would use public transportation because I would have to budget for a new or used car. The bus system still figures into my life.

Look, the “Big Dig” is the most expensive and costly public works project in U.S. History! If the state government can bail out the “Big Dig’s” cost overruns year after year and decade after decade, cannot they bail out local public transportation systems and municipalities, too. In my opinion, the “Big Dig” is to blame for the financial constraints that Massachusetts’ municipalities and regional entities are currently facing.

Vote out Nuciforo, Bosley, Pignatelli, Guyer & all the other inept politicians who cower to Boston’s “Big Dig” big shots!

-Jonathan A. Melle

Friday, July 15, 2005 5:19:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

August 4th, 2005

Arlos faces state conflict charges

By Jennifer Fenn, Eagle Boston Bureau, Berkshire Eagle

BOSTON -- The Massachusetts Ethics Commission is alleging that Peter G. Arlos, the chairman of the Berkshire County Retirement System, violated the state's conflict-of-interest law by voting on his own salary during his tenure as county treasurer more than five years ago.
After reviewing a complaint filed with the Ethics Commission, members found reasonable cause at their April meeting to believe that Arlos violated the law by voting on motions that affected his compensation. The commission's Enforcement Division yesterday issued an order to show cause, commission spokeswoman Carol Carson said.

The commission does not disclose who filed the complaint or when.

Carson had no information about when the issue came to the commission's attention.

As the elected Berkshire County treasurer from 1985 to 2002, Arlos served as treasurer/custodian of the Berkshire County Retirement Board. The order to show cause alleges that, in June 2000, the board discussed raises for staff, during which time one board member made a motion to exclude Arlos from a proposed 3 percent increase. The motion failed by a 2-3 vote, with Arlos voting against not giving himself a raise. He then voted with the majority to increase his compensation by 3 percent. He received a total of $1,200 in additional compensation between June 2000 and December 2002.

State law prohibits a county employee from participating in a matter in which, to his or her knowledge, he or she has a financial interest.

By taking the vote against not giving himself a raise, then a second vote to increase his salary, Arlos allegedly violated the law twice.

The commission has the authority to impose civil penalties of up to $2,000 per violation.

Carson said the order to show cause is the first step in the process.

Arlos now has about three weeks to file an answer to the charges.

A public hearing will be scheduled within 90 days from now before one of the five members of the Ethics Commission, who will serve as a hearing officer. The entire commission then will review records of the hearing and make a decision as to whether Arlos violated he law.

He could appeal the decision to the Superior Court.

Arlos was named chairman of the Berkshire Retirement System in March 2003, filling a position that was created by the abolition of county government; his term as county treasurer expired Dec. 31, 2002. The system oversees the pension funds of most county towns.

Thursday, August 04, 2005 8:46:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...

ELECTION RESULTS from 9-27-2005 Pittsfield Primary...


VOTERS FAVOR THE FAMILIAR: Tuesday's preliminary election found electoral support (among the few who voted) for current and former elected officials.

Despite a number of "blanks" Mayor James Ruberto eased to the top spot in the mayoral race, with Donna Walto earning a place on the November ballot with a distant second place finish.

In ward two, incumbent councilor Lou Costi dominated the voting, with John Bigelow Sr. earning the other November ballot space.

In the at-large race, incumbents Gerald Lee, Matt Kerwood and Tricia Farley-Bouvier took the top three spaces, with former councilors Peter Arlos and Peter Marchetti finishing neck and neck. In sixth was incumbent Pam Malumphy. Rounding out the field for November are former councilors Rick Scapin and James Arpante.

-NOTE: This information comes from Jonathan Levine's Pittsfield Gazette web page. I, Jonathan A. Melle, posted this information for the Berkshire Bloggers.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 5:57:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

NOTE: Talk about petty politics and keeping score of mis-steps! ...

Article: 10/06/2005

Ousted councilors disagree on blame

By Jack Dew, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Berkshire Eagle

Thursday, October 06, 2005

PITTSFIELD — In 2003, the voters knocked seven of the 11 incumbent city councilors out of office after two years of turmoil. Two years later, four of those councilors are trying to make a comeback but are already facing questions about their prior service.

All four challengers in the at-large City Council race served from 2001 to 2003. Their tenure was dominated by fights with Mayor Sara Hathaway's administration and squabbles in the council chambers.

To many, Ward 1 Councilor Robert G. Tuttle became the embodiment of the conflicts; after he was defeated in November, he left for Florida and refused to attend the final meetings of his two-year term and threatened to sue the city if it withheld his paycheck.

Now, Peter G. Arlos, James A. Arpante, Peter M. Marchetti and Richard A. Scapin want the voters to put them back in office. Election day will determine whether the voters think they deserve a second chance or will support incumbents Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Matthew M. Kerwood, Gerald M. Lee and Pam Malumphy.

Scapin was council president from 2001 to 2003. He said yesterday that he decided to mount a comeback after people repeatedly stopped him on the street and asked him to run again. As the council president, he said, he takes the blame for the bad and the credit for the good.

"But people have to realize that the whole council wasn't bad. There were a select few on there that were trouble, that were like kids in a classroom being disruptive. I had a few councilors who were disruptive, but you can't just call the police and have them thrown out," Scapin said.

Though the process wasn't always pretty, Scapin said, the council left Pittsfield in good position, and the city had roughly $7 million in savings and about $5 million in the General Electric economic development fund. Two years later, the city has about $3 million in savings, has committed about $2 million from the GE fund to the Colonial Theatre and other economic development projects, and has raised taxes by 3.8 percent in 2004 and 4.25 percent this year.

"People tell me I have to run because (the council) is killing us on taxes," Scapin said. "People just aren't happy with everything. They say this is a rubber-stamp council that doesn't know what's going on and just shoves everything to committee."

Arlos has served 28 years on the council. He was defeated in 1999 and made a return in 2001. He said the public blames Scapin for that council's missteps, not the other members.

Scapin and Hathaway had high-profile fights. One was over the Parks Department, where Scapin tried unsuccessfully to reshape the department and promote one of his allies to be director. Another was over the position of fire chief, where Hathaway pushed former Chief Raymond E. Risley to retire, even as Scapin was trying to protect him and give him a pay raise.

"Rick Scapin was constantly fighting with, constantly at odds with, Hathaway. That was a damning thing," Arlos said. "It wasn't Tuttle. Tuttle was a factor, but that constant bickering she had with him is what undermined (the council)."

Scapin said Arlos "ought to look in the mirror. ... I'm not going to start finger-pointing at people, but when Peter Arlos makes a comment like that, all I can say is that (people should) remember who disrupted the council."

Marchetti said he believes the voters will not judge him based on his colleagues: "They will judge me as an individual and judge my records and not me as a member of a prior council. I think my behavior on the council was somewhat different than the ones who created all the controversy, and I'm hoping that the people of Pittsfield see that."

Marchetti is campaigning heavily on what he has done since losing his seat. He has been the chairman of the Morningside neighborhood revitalization initiative, sits on the Traffic Commission and is treasurer of the Pittsfield Parade Committee.

"I don't look at this as trying to come back," he said of his campaign. "I haven't been serving on the council for the past two years, but I've still been working for the people of Pittsfield."

When Arpante left office, he had some harsh words for the voters. He appeared on the "Dan Valenti Show" on WBRK (AM-1340) and said the city had an "uninformed electorate." Asked about those comments yesterday, he didn't back down from his criticism.

"I still have some critical thinking about the constituency," he said. "Pittsfield seems to be a place where the average resident — never mind the average voter — doesn't really pay attention to local affairs, and that is very disheartening."

Arpante said his conduct on the council was always professional. He rose from his chair whenever he spoke in order to show respect to his colleagues, the people in the council chamber and those watching on television at home, he said. While there was a great deal of debate, he said it "was a healthy thing for the city."

Current Council President Gerald M. Lee also served from 2001 to 2003. Now, he said, the councilors and the mayor's office have better communication, making it possible to pass legislation that stumped the previous council, like the adult entertainment ordinance that spent two years bottled up in committee.

"I don't know why, but there was just a mix of people and there were a lot of things we didn't get done," Lee said.

Jack Dew can be reached at jdew@berkshireeagle.com or at (413) 496-6241.

Thursday, October 06, 2005 4:07:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear Berkshire Bloggers,

Peter Arlos is building a political machine through such high profile Pittsfield Politicians as Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr., who is the long standing Berkshire County Sheriff.

Arlos' goal is not to save the City of Pittsfield any money, but to consolidate his power by placing more public sector positions under the control and authority of his close political ally, Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr.

I believe Peter Arlos is feeding people to the wolves by proposing to place public sector employees under Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. The following are my reasons for stating this assertion.

#1 - Peter Arlos loves to take away peoples' pensions, benefits and other entitlements in the name of saving the city money. In my own case, I have a long standing, over 4 year case with the VA for Veterans Disability Benefits. The President of the U.S.A., George W. Bush, ordered me a hearing on July 19, 2004 in Washington, D.C. so that I could state my case for these benefits. When I returned from the hearing, Peter Arlos informed me that he was going to write to President Bush and end my benefits. I asked Arlos why he would do such a nasty thing. Arlos said that I am an abled body man who should work for a living. I told Arlos that I do work for a living at Sears as a Tool Associate. Arlos then laughed at me and said that I am foolish for working in a retail store because I won't receive a pension. I replied to Arlos that the VA is supposed to grant me a disability pension. Arlos told me he would fight my disability pension. Arlos then told me that if President Bush really wanted to help me then he should have given me a job. I replied that I did not ask for a job from President Bush. I asked President Bush for my VA disability benefits. Arlos said he would write to the President to stop me from receiving my VA disability benefits.

#2 - Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. is a most foul individual. I once was in Peter Arlos' office when Massimiano paid a visit. Massimiano disparaged one of his former Deputy Sheriffs, calling him the sexually humiliating name for one who performs oral sex on a man. Massimiano is a vindictive and mean-spirited man. People have told me many times over the years how they fear Massimiano, and that he creates such an environment in the County Jail. People have told me that Massimiano is a bully. Moreover, I have experienced Massimiano's bullying first-hand when I wanted to run the Democratic Primaries in 2004 against State Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. Massimiano showed up at most of the Democratic events and continually refused to sign my nomination papers. Massimiano spoke to me in a put down tone of voice like he was dominant and superior. Truth be told, I just saw Massimiano as a sorry, pathetic, fat old man who was too full of himself to accept reality. I asked one of Massimiano's workers at the County Jail if he would serve on my campaign committee and he replied that I should know that Massimiano would fire him if he campaigned for me. One of the reasons why I moved out of Massachusetts and to New Hampshire, and had to drop out of the Senate race, was because of Massimiano's intimidation.

In conclusion, I believe Arlos is playing into Massimiano's hands by transfering City of Pittsfield dispatchers to the Berkshire Sheriff. I hope that this measure is seen for what it is, and summarily opposed.


Jonathan A. Melle


Arlos sees savings in dispatch merger

By Jack Dew, Berkshire Eagle Staff

Sunday, October 09, 2005

PITTSFIELD — At-large City Council candidate Peter G. Arlos has proposed merging the city's police and fire dispatch services with the communications center run by the Berkshire County Sheriff's office, a move he claims would save hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars but which others say would lead to minimal savings, at best.

Arlos has filed a petition with the City Council asking the city to transfer police and fire dispatch service to the sheriff's new communication's center, which is being installed at the Berkshire County House of Correction. The new office is expected to open by the end of the year.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Arlos claimed the move would save $304,130 in salaries paid to Pittsfield's dispatchers, $44,458 in annual overtime and about $100,000 per year in health insurance and pension benefits. It would mean firing the city's nine dispatchers, and Arlos said the city could ask the sheriff's office to give priority to hiring those nine as it expands its services.

In addition to cost savings, Arlos said the merger would free police officers who supervise and train the dispatchers, allowing them to patrol city streets.

"We have an opportunity to use the most advanced communication technology around (at the sheriff's center). Even if it ends up being the same cost, we would free those policemen to go out and pound the beat and deal with the turkey war that we have going on," Arlos said, referring to Thursday's killing of two wild turkeys in Pittsfield.

Each year, Pittsfield dispatchers field 35,000 phone calls, 15,000 of which are 911 calls. The sheriff's office handles about 30,000 calls a year from 23 towns; about 3,000 of them are made to 911.

Sheriff's spokesman Bob McDonough said the agency would likely charge Pittsfield a per-call fee to take over its dispatching. He said he did not know what that cost might be and declined to speculate. He said Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano's "view on this is that, even on a per-call basis, it would be cheaper than what (Pittsfield) pays now, what with the costs of equipment and contracts and software."

Police Chief Anthony J. Riello said past studies have indicated the costs are about the same.

"We have explored it in the past with the state police because they were planning on a regional communications center. One of the issues they had is that they could not handle our call volume," Riello said. "The sheriff's (office) cannot do it with their existing staff. If they were to take our service over ... it would not be for free."

Riello said the priority should not be the cost, but the effectiveness of the service. "All I have ever wanted out of dispatch is that they give good, quality dispatch service for the city of Pittsfield. Period. If we can do that in a creative way, that is fine with me, as long as we get good, quality dispatch."

City Council President Gerald M. Lee, a retired Pittsfield police chief, said he doubts the savings would be significant. But he said the city could lose dispatchers who are familiar with the city and its frequent callers, which would diminish the quality of the service.

"You are joining a bigger department that is not as familiar with the city. The more dispatchers you have, the more diluted the familiarity with the calls," Lee said. "A dispatcher can be familiar with a call or an address, and that can help the police. If you are handling one call from Stockbridge and then one call from Pittsfield, you are not going to be as familiar with it."

Instead of giving up dispatch services, Lee said he would prefer to see the city give up its prisoners.

Currently, the city holds the people it arrests until they are arraigned in District Court and either released or sent to the Berkshire County House of Correction to await trial. That means officers must staff the police headquarters at all times to monitor and guard the prisoners.

When the new jail was built five years ago, the state had intended to transfer that prisoner function to the sheriff's office and free Pittsfield officers to patrol the streets, but the state has never funded that program, Lee said.

Arlos said he believes the city could persuade the sheriff to handle dispatch on behalf of Pittsfield for $40,000 a year. He said he would argue that the city already subsidizes the jail since the $34 million facility is a public building and does not pay property taxes.

"That's another bargaining point," Arlos said. "We've already contributed to the jail, and the most we should pay is $40,000."

"We would free those policemen to go out and pound the beat and deal with the turkey war that we have going on." — Peter Arlos

Tuesday, October 11, 2005 9:08:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...

November 27, 2006

The Pittsfield Gazette
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Attention: Jonathan Levine, Editor

Re: Jonathan Levine’s Editorials questioning the city government’s public policies concerning the business district in and surrounding North Street

Dear Jonathan Levine:

I was given a recent copy of your excellent community newspaper. I must say that I am impressed by your first-rate journalistic skills! It is an honor for me to have known you while I lived in the otherwise great city of Pittsfield, Massachusetts that I will have criticized in the following paragraphs.

You have often questioned the city government’s public policies concerning the business district in and around North Street. I find your insights to be thoughtful, but also lacking in the cruel reality of the context of economic perverse incentives that has dominated the North Street area for over four decades. In other words, when social injustices and exploitation are recurring as thematic yet banal daily events, I must cut through the onion and explain why North Street has not recovered from its rational business peak in the 1950s.

In the 1960s, national welfare displaced communal care, and both the solid work ethic and brotherhood of small town America transformed into both an entitlement culture and seeing those in needs as inputs into a formulaic equation for aid instead of a person looking to be a tax paying citizen. As the unique small towns went into a monolithic and plastic national vision of cookie cutter uniformity, so did North Street.

The great retail stores in the center of town became a disincentive next to guaranteed entitlement money for people simply in need of a job. So herein lies the perverse economic incentive that North Street has become for a city government ever desperate for more and more revenues. By transforming North Street into a corridor of social service entities a.k.a. state and local government and non-profit agencies, the city government guaranteed itself both fixed revenues and jobs. What came next was not major retail business center like in the 1950s, but rather small businesses to complement the social service public businesses that have long monopolized the city’s central business district.

So why is all of this a perverse economic incentive? The answer is that the city government modeled its main business district on the needs of the poor people instead of the demands of the citizenry. The reason why the city government kept North Street the way it is now for about 4 decades is because the city is in a win-win (or moral hazard) situation. There will always be disabled people, elderly residents, and welfare families all in need of services. The federal government appropriates many billions of federal tax dollars to the state governments to administer grants and like funds to the municipalities for social service programs. The state government provides these public monies to cities such as Pittsfield so that, in theory, but not in the cruel reality, the people will be guaranteed social services to improve their lives. This money is highly valuable to the city government because it guarantees many millions of dollars to the municipal revenues and city coffers. In short, the city government has been more concerned about the annual millions coming in from Washington, D.C. via Boston’s State House than the actual people receiving the sub-par social services for so many consecutive decades.

Then, in 2003, Pittsfield elected the best Mayor in her recent history. Jim Ruberto promised to break the downward cycle and rusty mold of Pittsfield politics and promised to bring change to the city. He was an energetic and positive voice for real and positive change. During his local administration, he has seen the Colonial Theater open on South Street, and the beginnings of a cinema center on North Street – all of which have been proposed for many years and decades before he took the oath of office. Unfortunately, Mayor Ruberto has caved to the same old machine politicians that have kept Pittsfield a place of social injustice and exploitation via the perverse economic incentives and moral hazards. Moreover, he has also not yet improved the public educational system, lowered the staggering teen pregnancy rate (that doubles the statewide average), and brought the changes to Pittsfield that he had promised to the voters whom he campaigned to as then valuable members of his leadership team.

To illustrate my point of self-defeatism as the norm for common residents, I must highlight the longest serving Pittsfield Pol I have known of and heard about since my birth in the summer of 1975. This liability and abomination of a human being I am referring to is Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. This man exemplifies the banality of social injustice! When I participated in local and state politics, he always made snide and negative remarks. When I tried to talk to Carmen Massimiano, he talked down to me in a negative and abuse of power tone of voice.

What I mean to say is that Carmen Massimiano is one of those guys who profited by the failings of Pittsfield residents. By the teen pregnancy rate doubling the statewide average on an annual basis, Carmen was guaranteed to control Pittsfield’s entitlement state allocated funds over the local poor people in need of social services, and then to ultimately meet them in his capacity of Berkshire County Sheriff. By Pittsfield’s worsening public school system, Carmen is guaranteed to have unskilled people come to him for jobs at the Berkshire County Jail and also use his networking prowess in other areas of this perversely incentivized and tightly constrained local economy. In short, Carmen Massimiano profits by Pittsfield’s social problems! My personal conclusion is that Carmen Massimiano is a terrible and mean-spirited man for cultivating the worse of a city and people with so much otherwise positive potential.

In conclusion, Pittsfield controls its poor people by an unjust system of perverse economic incentives and uses an economic model of moral hazards to guarantee itself state administered revenues originally appropriated from the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C. that in theory (but not in the cruel reality of life) are supposed to help the plight of poor people nationwide.

To illustrate, if I were to have had become another Pittsfield poor resident statistic by way of having an unplanned for baby with a Pittsfield (area) woman whom I did not marry and/or cohabitate with, Pittsfield would definitely own my soul by way of probate mandated child support payments and then like civil and criminal laws. I would be another poor resident who was economically forced into being filed into North Street and then going to local machine Pittsfield Pol like Carmen Massimiano to get “out of trouble with the strong arm of the state”. Regardless of their possible “help” to me, they would definitely treat me like crap while ringing their greedy hands with their power over me while I became another number inputted to the broken system that provides Pittsfield with now more public dollars for sub-par social services that would keep me down and under their control. That is the reality I faced for so many years growing up and living in Pittsfield, and I resented it then as I resent reading about it now!


Jonathan A. Melle

Monday, November 27, 2006 8:18:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

December 16, 2006

Dear News Media, Politicians, & the People:


Re: “Arlos' ouster upheld: Appeal denied in ethics violation” (The Berkshire Eagle, Saturday, December 16, 2006): WHAT A MOCKERY OF THE LEGAL SYSTEM!

What do I mean? Massachusetts has (a) a bankrupted municipality in the great City of Springfield (the third most populated city in the commonwealth), a (b) fatal, most expensive and wasteful in U.S. History, and dangerous public works project in the “Big Dig”, a (c) flawed “universal” healthcare insurance law that the incoming Governor, Deval Patrick, is mandated to implement in 2007, which gives many millions (if not billions) of state tax dollars to HMO’s or insurance companies with no funding mechanism to pay for the program, a (d) outgoing Pittsfield State Senator by the name of Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., who not only strong-armed to women candidates out of his anointed Pittsfield Registrar of Deeds “elected” position where he then ran unopposed, but also has served for many years as a private corporate attorney for a Boston Law Firm by the name of “Berman & Dowell” while at the same time Chairing the state government legislative committees regulating these same companies in violation of the state’s conflict of interest laws! Moreover, this list of UNETHICAL BEHAVIORS and OUTCOMES goes on and on in and throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

What is the point? The point is that PETER G. ARLOS is being “persecuted” against by the state government big leaguers, who themselves never get touched by the (unethical) Massachusetts State “Ethics” Commission, because all that he (Arlos) really is in this authoritarian system of government called “Massachusetts Politics” that pretends with mockery to be democratic body politic is a SCAPEGOAT to be made an unfair example of. In an extreme but also fitting example, Arlos’ persecution by the Beacon Hill state Pols parallels the Nazi German’s 1930s persecution of the Jews as SCAPEGOATS for their nation’s then military, economic and social problems.


Re: ALAN CHARTOCK’s columns (The Berkshire Eagle, every Saturday throughout the years): A similar theme goes for Chartock that goes for my criticisms of the “Ethics” Commission.

Look around you, ALAN CHARTOCK! Please re-read every criticism that I have stated in the first paragraph of this letter. How can you criticize some people, in today’s case the Town Fathers of Great Barrington, while remaining silent against others, such as the soon to be implemented Massachusetts’ “universal” healthcare law that will be a giveaway to the state’s insurance companies which also, but not coincidentally, pour in many thousands of campaign donation dollars to your own Legislator’s campaign coffers? Moreover, look at the “Hill 78” long-standing PCB problem and the complicity of the Pittsfield City Government to allow elementary public school children to be at risk of cancer later in their lives because GE and other corporate powers are the real power brokers in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Look at my mother, who had cancer in 1989 and 1990, and now has cancer again in 2006 and 2007. My mother was born and grew up in Pittsfield in the mid-1940s and was exposed to these risks of high and DANGEROUS levels of PCBs. Then, from the 1970s onward, PCBs were outlawed, but the Pittsfield Politicians, including your own much adored incoming Berkshire State Senator Ben Downing, have mostly been complicit in the higher rates of cancer rates in the city than throughout the nation. In Pittsfield Politics, the local people in and from Pittsfield have SUFFERED and DIED from GE’s, et al, high levels of PCB pollution, but a cinema project is underway so let them eat cake. BULLSHIT! Use your voice to fix the goddamned problems instead of following the similar suit of the asinine Pittsfield area Political Machine and the terrible public policy record of Beacon Hill Politics. Alan, PLEASE be the man you once were, who once spoke for the people instead of for the authoritarian power brokers.


LOOK AROUND YOU EVERYONE: POLITICIANS (mostly bought and paid for), the PEOPLE (mostly intimidated by strong-armed Pols like Carmen Massimiano), & NEWS MEDIA (mostly corporate owned)!

Look once again at Peter G. Arlos and then take a look at the bigger picture of Massachusetts Politics. I hope you will have then seen that which I have written and seen (& experienced).

Happy Holidays!

-Jonathan A. Melle

Arlos' ouster upheld
Appeal denied in ethics violation
By Tony Dobrowolski,
The Berkshire Eagle
Article Launched:12/16/2006

SUBJECT: Peter G. Arlos

Saturday, December 16, 2006

PITTSFIELD — Peter G. Arlos will not be returning to the Berkshire Regional Retirement Board.

The state Division of Administrative Law Appeals has upheld the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission's decision to remove the 80-year-old Arlos from the local retirement board for violating the state's conflict-of-interest law. Arlos had appealed PERAC's decision.

Three weeks after PERAC issued its ruling, the Berkshire Regional Retirement Board voted unanimously on Aug. 31 to remove Arlos as its chairman/treasurer pending his appeal. PERAC provides oversight, guidance, monitoring and regulation of the state's 106 public pension systems.

Arlos could not be reached for comment yesterday.

His wife, Alma Arlos, who is a lawyer, had asked the retirement board in August to stay any action on PERAC's determination until her husband's appeal could be decided, but the local board refused.

On May 23, Peter Arlos had agreed to pay $2,200 in restitution to settle allegations that he violated the conflict-of-interest law by voting in favor of his own 3 percent pay raise on June 21, 2000. He received approximately $1,200 in additional compensation from 2001 to 2003.

In a written decision, the Division of Administrative Law Appeals found that PERAC had applied both its statutes and its regulations correctly in seeking Arlos' removal from the Berkshire Regional Retirement Board.

Those laws include regulations that outline PERAC's authority to facilitate oversight of the retirement board, and State Ethics Commission findings that board members who are found to have broken the conflict-of-interest law cannot serve in any capacity that involves decisions regarding the "authority, custody or control" of "monies, funds, assets or property of any system."

In an August letter to the Berkshire Regional Retirement Board, PERAC stated that any individual who has been found by the state Ethics Commission or any court to have violated the conflict-of-interest law cannot legally serve as a member of the board.

When the retirement board met in August, Alma Arlos said that after reviewing state retirement law, she didn't believe that PERAC had the legal authority to remove one of its members. She also believed that PERAC's entire regulation did not apply to her husband because he had agreed to a settlement with the state Ethics Commission.

Retirement Board member Michael Ovitt told Alma Arlos in August that a section of the disposition agreement between the state Ethics Commission and Peter Arlos states that he admitted to violating the state conflict-of-interest law when he agreed to pay restitution. That agreement also stated that Peter Arlos "also agrees to waive all right to contest the findings of fact, conclusions or law and terms and conditions" that are contained in the disposition.

Arlos admitted fault

In its decision, the state Division of Administrative Law Appeals states that the State Ethics Commission had found that Arlos had violated the conflict-of-interest law and that he "admitted as much," but stated that he had done so "unintentionally and mistakenly."

Under the terms of the disposition, Arlos was ordered to pay a $1,000 civil penalty and to forfeit the remaining $1,200 to PERAC. The state Ethics Commission then dismissed the adjudicatory proceedings against him.

Arlos spent 28 years on the Pittsfield City Council and served as Berkshire County treasurer from 1985 to 2002. Through the latter position, he served as treasurer/custodian of the Berkshire County Retirement Board, which became the Berkshire Regional Retirement Board on June 30, 2000.

Saturday, December 16, 2006 2:13:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

RE: My letter to Rinaldo Del Gallo III concerning economic development in Pittsfield

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

Despite Alan Chartock and The Berkshire Eagle's collective one-sided criticisms of Rinaldo Del Gallo III's political platforms, and despite his low vote tallies in the Pittsfield area, I have had and to continue to enjoy the benefit of being able to read this highly intelligent man's writings and also I talk to him about political matters over the phone every now and then. I believe that if Rinaldo was listened to instead of just Alan and the Eagle's useless musings, the common people of Pittsfield would be much better off than they are now working in $8 an hour jobs and being stigmatized by the broader Berkshire region over as the "Working Poor".

Rinaldo recently emailed me a letter he wrote to Bill Everhart of The Berkshire Eagle newspaper about economic development issues facing Pittsfield, Massachusetts. In his email to Everhart, Rinaldo stated clear methods and goals to bring industrial and high tech jobs to the Pittsfield area. So, I took the time to read what my political friend from Pittsfield had to say and I hand wrote him a response in the U.S. Mail.

Basically, Rinaldo does not see the perverse OUTCOMES to Pittsfield Politics (or Eagle Politics; or Alan Chartock Politics)... He is very good at seeing how public policies are formed or inputted by the city and state government, and even better at looking at what is produced and "who got what" (or who were the winners versus the losers). Where Rinaldo lacks any coherence on public policies is in the areas of the OUTCOMES: For example, how did spending over $1,000,000 of PEDA's GE economic development money impact the common working poor Pittsfield resident? While Rinaldo will shout out the obvious answer: "SPECIAL INTERESTS!", he does not understand why the outcomes mean what they mean.

In order to see if a public policy is rational or perversely incentivized, one has to do more than only describe then identify the outcomes of a public policy. Generally speaking, the name of the game in private (or business) and public administration is not so much profits (or fiscal surpluses), but rather LIABILITIES: meaning COVER YOUR ASS at ALL COSTS! Further meaning, a businessman or politician is not about right or wrong at all, but rather they are about first limiting liabilities (financial obligations most commonly known as debts) and second about making money. For a government -- whether on the municipal, state or federal level -- limiting liabilities is highly incentived while making money is a far second. So what does this mean for Rinaldo's understanding of why Pittsfield would spend so much money on a theater that won't net dollar one for the common man? The meaning is that the economic incentives for his city government are almost always going to be PERVERSE. In other words, producing good jobs, lower taxes, surpluses is NOT the OUTCOME for his city's economic development "team."

Pittsfield has millions of dollars of PEDA GE money to spend. Rinaldo identifies that most of this money is already been spent (in so many words) perversely. He points out that not one industrial or high tech job has come into the PEDA industrial property. The answer that Rinaldo doesn't see, but that I clearly do see is that the city government does not want to use their millions of dollars in PEDA money rationally because that would entail risks, which would increase the city's liabilities: meaning higher taxes -- as what had happened after Mayor Gerry Doyle's financial mismanagement of the city's health insurance program somewhere around the year 2000. True to form for Pittsfield, as with many other levels of American governments, economic rationalism is a far second to economic irrationalism or perverse economic incentives. That is why we don't have a state run economy like China or other communist countries: Because of Perverse Economic Incentives and the damage that economic irrationalism causes to the economy!

In the end, a similar story is unfolding in our nation's nearing (come 3/17) 4-year second of 2 so far conflicts in Iraq. President Bush II and the U.S. Congress have been and are still spending away our future economic resources on a never-ending war that will perversely help only the war contractors and oil companies -- namely V.P. Dick Cheney's former company: HALLIBURTON ("Special Interests!").

Another way to put it is that in the City of Pittsfield, the largest employer is the City of Pittsfield; and in the United States of America, the largest employer is the United States of America! That, my friends, is the growth of big government and it is leading to our economy to becoming more similar to both the former-Soviet and current Chinese state run economies than our own free market economy for most of our nation's history. The growth of big government in our economy is going to do more damage to our economy than even global competition because the former is perversely incentivized while the latter is rationally incentived to produce real economic growth instead of just the economic hardship we are collectively facing today. In short, the government is more of a threat to the common man than even the fleeing corporations. Moreover, both are colluding and thereby putting the American economy to shame and ruins! Meaning that the common man faces greater risks (or liabilities) than ever while city, et al, governments and businessman are working together to limit their financial obligations to society. The net result is the OUTCOME, and it is NOT a pretty big picture.

In conclusion, economic irrationalism and its perverse economic incentives are the name of the game for government moreso than business. Good jobs and surpluses for communities, states and the nation are an after thought for a Mayor, Governor and President. The solution lies in electing politicians by the likes of Rinaldo Del Gallo III to public office so that the common man may once again be able to self-sufficiently raise his (or her) family in a community representing a free, just and equitable society we may again be proud to call The United States of America.

KEEP UP YOUR GOOD WORK, RINALDO! I am very proud of you.

-Jonathan A. Melle

Friday, January 12, 2007 2:58:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Perverse Economic Incentives: When a business or government incentivizes their policies to fit their own narrow interests instead of the rational interests of efficient and equitable economic growth for efficient and equitable production, profits, jobs, and the like.

Two Examples:

1 - In California, the state has the strictest gasoline environmental standards in the nation. The oil companies perversely have limited gas production in this state, which drives up the cost of gas consumption by about $1 more than the rest of the averaged national price. The oil companies' rational incentive would be to increase gas production in California thereby increasing the supply of gas there. All that the oil companies would have to do to solve the gas price problem in California would be to build more oil refineries (than the 6 already existing plants) in order to produce and increase the supply of gasoline there. However, the oil companies perversely incentivized their limited supply of California gasoline to punish the state for such strict environmental laws. The oil companies goal is to get California to repeal their strict environmental gasoline emission laws.

2 - The Bush administration has control over huge governmental oil reserves. When gas was over $3 a gallon nationwide (& over $4 a gallon in California), the rational incentive would have been for the U.S. Government to lower gas prices by using some of their oil reserves for civilian consumption during the gas crisis after the tragic hurricanes in 2005. However, the perverse incentive was for Bush to help his campaign contributors -- the oil companies -- collect record profits off the gas/oil crisis.
The latter perverse public policy is what happened, unfortunately!

My point is that perverse economic incentives are not only unintended, but that they are also intentional. If big government continues to run our national economy, not even state governments -- nonetheless small businesses -- will be able to stop the ongoing tragedies of irrational and perverse economic policies by large scale and politically powerful businesses and the federal government. Only after analyzing the OUTCOMES of public policies is one able to see if the economic inputs and outputs were rationally or perversely incentivized.

I believe that the city, state and national government all use economic irrationalism via perverse economic incentives to limit their liabilities, which will leave our economy in ruins. The solution lies in limiting the size and scope of big government, except for the regulating of rational free market business to prevent the very perversities that the government uses on a daily basis. Only through rational economic policies will our great nation's economy be saved from the special interests everyone in complaining about. In short, limit government, but at the same time, ensure economic rationalism in business.

Thursday, January 18, 2007 4:28:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Pittsfield Flexible Development
Ordinance agreed upon
Council could vote Tuesday
By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff
The Berkshire Eagle

Friday, January 19, 2007

PITTSFIELD — After several months of debate and discussion, the City Council has reached agreement on a flexible development ordinance that it can now consider for approval.

During a special meeting Wednesday night, the council voted to refer the proposed ordinance to its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, where the 11-member board will consider the approval of a first reading. The council is required to approve two readings of an ordinance change before the new measure can go into effect. The next regularly scheduled council meeting after Tuesday is Feb. 13.

It is technically possible for the council on Tuesday night to refer the proposal to its ordinance and rules subcommittee for further discussion. But Council President Gerald M. Lee said he doubts the council will go that route.

"It's a possibility," Lee said. "But I think it's remote. ... Four times we've kind of wrestled with it."

'A lot of concerns' in the past

The council has already discussed the proposed flexible development ordinance in three special meetings, after briefly discussing the measure at a regularly scheduled meeting in November. Flexible development standards were first proposed last April during the fallout from the failed resort development bylaw.

"In retrospect, I think a lot of councilors had a lot of concerns and, as time went by, those concerns were answered by the Community Development Department's staff," Lee said. "As time went by, we felt more comfortable with it."

Officials have considered replacing the city's Planned Unit Residential Development standards with flexible development, which requires developers to set aside a greater percentage of open space to receive a density bonus on parcels that are considered under the current method.

Grier Horner of East Acres Road, a member of the Master Plan Advisory Committee, who helped lead the fight against the proposed resort development bylaw, believes that the development proposal "is so flexible that it is contortionist." He said the measure is a "big improvement" over the current PURD standards, however.

"It leaves a lot in the hands of the Community Development Board," Horner said. "A lot depends on how judiciously they police projects that go into neighborhoods."

On Wednesday night, the council approved three changes from the draft ordinance that it had considered at December's special meeting. It increased the amount of developable area allowed on a building lot from 25 to 35 percent and voted to require developers to install 50-foot buffers between adjoining property lines in developments that are either greater than 20 acres or that contain more than 40 units.

Deanna Ruffer, director of the Community Development Department, said the council increased the amount of developable area on each parcel because it feared that developers would build higher developments to skirt the requirement.

The council also voted to keep references to "neighborhood character (and) development patterns of the immediate neighborhood" in the ordinance.

"They felt that was important," Ruffer said.

A suggestion to limit buildings in R-20 and R-43 residential zones to only six units and to allow no more than 12 units for buildings in other zoning districts was rejected.

Ruffer said the council believes that the criteria contained in the special permit decision-making process are more than adequate to determine the number of units allowed in each development.

Friday, January 19, 2007 3:13:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear Rinaldo,

During the Winter months of 2004, I gathered a majority of my campaign signatures at exterior of the Pittsfield U.S. Post Office building. I wanted to oppose state Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. in the Democratic Primary, but then I dropped out of the race on April 6th, 2004, which was my last day as a Massachusetts resident, and then moved to New Hampshire to be with my family starting on April 7th, 2004 through the present day. Contrary to Denis E. Guyer's vicious rumors, I did have the option of staying in Pittsfield, but I chose my family over politics -- and I always will place my family before politics.

If you need me to travel to Pittsfield to testify in your favor that you were singled out by the Pittsfield Police Department, et al, for collecting campaign signatures outside the Pittsfield U.S. Post Office building, I would be happy to continue to be of assistance to you. I believe that you are one of the best Pittsfield Politicians EVER, Rinaldo! You are very intelligent, fair and hard working. Pittsfield would be a better community than it is under the current hackery -- as noted by the 1/16 Boston Globe article pointing out that Nuciforo's current "elected" position is seen by everyone in the commonwealth as a SINECURE -- if you were an elected local and/or state government official representing the many unmet needs of rural Berkshire County on Beacon Hill and Capitol Hill, respectively.

I believe that Rinaldo Del Gallo III is being singled out, scapegoated, picked on, and the like, by the city, state and federal government(s), The Berkshire Eagle, et al, and by political pundits like Alan Chartock for standing up and exercising his U.S. Constitutional Rights and Civil Liberties by participating in his government. Unlike Nuciforo, Rinaldo is not a hack and did not strong-arm 2 women out of the 2006 Pittsfield Registrar of Deeds race, which was the real crime -- among many other illegal corruption activities that the Globe has stated against Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.'s hack-tivities in government!

Keep up the good work, Rinaldo. I am here to help you, buddy!

Yours Truly,

Jonathan A. Melle

Rinaldo Del Gallo III wrote:


I know you once told me that you gathered signatures at the Pittsfield Post Office. Who did you see getting signatures at the Pittsfield Post Office?


Wednesday, January 31, 2007 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear Rinaldo Del Gallo III:

I had lunch with my dad yesterday afternoon. We discussed your situation. Both my dad and I have respectively used the Pittsfield U.S. Post Office as a place to collect campaign signatures in order to be nominated to run for political office. While I remained outside of the building, my dad told me he stood inside of the lobby.

My dad and I discussed the late George Crane. My dad said he was a good man and was sad when I gave him the Eagle obituary a friend mailed to me. My dad said that he would have attended the funeral services for Mr. Crane if he was still in the Pittsfield area. My dad and I then talked about Pittsfield Judge Fred Rutberg. My dad was pleased that he is succeeding the good man: Judge Alfred Barbalunga. My dad told me that Judge Rutberg was a friend and supporter of my dad's political career.

My dad and I then discussed our enemy in Pittsfield: Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. As Nuciforo filed an Ethics complaint against my dad while at the same time as filing false criminal complaints against my dad's son -- me -- to the Pittsfield Police Department in the Spring of 1998, which would have led to my dad getting fired from his state job instead of now drawing a state pension, meaning my dad would now be a poverty stricken old man if Nuciforo had gotten the better of him, and would have led to me being arrested and ultimately placed in the Berkshire County Jail where Nuciforo's good old boy network buddy Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. would have saw to it that I was abused by his Jailer Staff and Inmate Population, meaning I would now have a criminal record (without merit) if Nuciforo had gotten the better of me, my dad and I believe that if Nuciforo were in your place at the Pittsfield U.S. Post Office, he would not have been arrested, harassed, or even asked to leave the premises.

My dad and I then went onto discuss the harsh media treatment against you by The Berkshire Eagle and its political pundit Alan Chartock. My dad and I believe that when Nuciforo strong-armed two women out of the Pittsfield Registry of Deeds "election" in the Spring of 2006, Nuciforo's actions were not only unethical, but also criminal. We said that if either my dad or myself pulled something so wrongful and undemocratic, both The Berkshire Eagle and Alan Chartock would have ripped either of us to shreds.

BUT, Nuciforo is the exception to the rule. Only after The Boston Globe's 1/16 news media article against Nuciforo did the Eagle then run a news media Editorial addressing what Nuciforo did to Sara Hathaway and Sharon Henault's respective bids for Pittsfield Registry of Deeds. WELL, the Eagle was about 10 months late in its criticisms of Nuciforo's actions. MOREOVER, Alan Chartock has only PRAISED Nuciforo's political career since his strong-arm actions against two women candidates running for political office in 21st Century America. WELL, Alan Chartock, you have proven yourself to be a hack, and if you do not address Nuciforo's strong-arm actions then you have absolutely no credibility left to your name in politics and news media journalism!

Rinaldo: To clearly answer your questions: I only know that both my dad and I respectively collected campaign signatures in the lobby and outside of the Pittsfield U.S. Post Office. I assume many other political participants used this building to do the same. Also, for you, Rinaldo, I would gladly drive to Springfield, Massachusetts with advanced notification to testify in writing and/or verbally in person to help you win your case.

It is unbelievable to me that in the 21st Century, Orwell's philosophies are still applicable in government and society! Specifically, "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." If it had been Nuciforo at the Pittsfield U.S. Post Office, he would have been allowed to collect campaign signatures there. When Nuciforo tried to ruin my dad and his son -- me -- no one ever spoke out against Nuciforo for what he tried to do to my father (except that The Berkshire Record newspaper of Great Barrington published my claims on the matter -- THANK YOU Editors of The Berkshire Record newspaper!). When Nuciforo strong-armed two women candidates out of the Pittsfield Registry of Deeds "election" after he entered the race, it took The Berkshire Eagle about 10-months to dissent against Nuciforo. Moreover, Alan Chartock has only written praises for Nuciforo's political record, while at the same time he through his battle axe at you, Rinaldo. In short, Alan Chartock epitomizes Orwell's philosophies that "some animals are more equal than others." If my dad, myself or you, Rinaldo, pulled the same shit that Nuciforo has pulled throughout his political career, Alan Chartock would have us ripped apart in his political columns and news media journalism pertaining to Berkshire County politics.

What is your prediction, Rinaldo, that Alan Chartock will ever criticize Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.'s deficient political career and public record? My prediction is between zero and none. What is your prediction, Rinaldo, that Alan Chartock will criticize you, Rinaldo, again for any missteps and mistakes, but with good intentions, you make in politics? My prediction is between 100% and full certainty! What is your prediction, Rinaldo, that if I strong-armed Sara Hathaway and Sharon Henault out of a state government "election" then Alan Chartock would rip me apart in his writings and speaking? My prediction would be that I am equal in merit to you, Rinaldo, but that I am not as equal in merit to Nuciforo because to Alan Chartock, Nuciforo is more equal than "others", meaning guys like you and me.

My dad and I discussed 3 men when discussing your situation: Jesus Christ, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Like my dad, myself, and now yourself, Christ, Gandhi and King were all respectively persecuted by unjust governments and societies for allegedly breaking unfair laws when all of our SPIRITS and HEARTS were in the right place but conflicted with the dominant power, authority and socioeconomic systems that ruled men (& women and children). NUCIFORO TRIED TO JAIL ME, Rinaldo! Martin Luther King, Jr. was JAILED by strong-armed men like Nuciforo! I AM NOT AFRAID, Rinaldo. Be not afraid, my friend. Be a good man like Jesus Christ, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., the late George Crane, Judges Alfred Barbalunga and Fred Rutberg, my dad, Bob, his son, Jonathan, and the many others who stand for truth, justice, freedom, goodness, and TRUE EQUALITY!

Sure, guys like Nuciforo and Denis E. Guyer have lots of money, and I am as poor as a man can ever be, BUT THE ONE THING that the animals that are made to be more equal than me do not have is RESPECT! When Nuciforo tried to ruin my dad and jail me in the Spring of 1998, Nuciforo was made to look bad. When Denis E. Guyer said the most hurtful and mean-spirited, vicious rumors against me, Guyer looked cheap and trashy, not me. The Berkshire Eagle and Alan Chartock may bow to Orwell's philosophies by never criticizing Nuciforo and Guyer's poor character, and you may be made to stand trial in Springfield, Massachusetts for having the good intentions of participating in our 21st Century American Democracy's "elected" system of government, but in the end we are the good guys, Rinaldo, not the animals who are more equal than others like us. We have respect, they don't!

Rinaldo: I loved reading your letter to The Eagle today, which I have pasted below my letter to you. Christian values should be listened to in government and society, but be careful about mixing economics, politics and your religious faith -- that is always a recipe for disaster. However, I believe in your Constitutional Rights and Civil Liberties to FREEDOM of SPEECH, and I believe in you and your political career!

In Truth,

Jonathan A. Melle


Have you yourself seen or known about others gathering signatures at the Pittsfield Post Office?


Can you make it to Springfield, MA?


Eliminate 'perverse incentives'


The Berkshire Eagle

Article Launched:02/01/2007

Thursday, February 01, 2007

To the Editor of THE EAGLE:

Apropos of today's article on teen pregnancy (Jan. 29), part of the "complex web of socioeconomic factors," as the Eagle story touched on, is what economist term "perverse incentives." A "perverse incentive" is defined as an incentive to engage in a behavior that has deleterious effects on society.

Our welfare system itself conditions the social safety net on having children. As the article stated, "Once a baby enters the picture, so does state-financed housing." The obvious solution to this perverse incentive is to provide state-financed housing regardless of whether a baby enters the picture. Poor women engage in the behavior necessary to receive the benefits of the social safety net because it beats hunger and homelessness. As a practicing family law attorney, I have seen women explicitly argue in family court that they need custody of a child so that they can apply for Section Eight benefits.

Compounding this already perverse incentive, in order to receive welfare, the father has to be absent and removed from the house. It is a wonder that there are people that wonder why a system that provides incentives for out-of-wedlock child rearing and fatherlessness has more of it.

The solution I am proposing is not the elimination of the social safety net, in fact I argue for its expansion. The solution is ceasing to condition relief from poverty on child rearing status and fatherlessness, perhaps the most invidious and irrational form of discrimination imaginable. Poor men especially feel the problem — the overwhelming amount of homeless are men who could not get public housing, welfare benefits, and whose only state aid was food stamps because they biologically cannot have children. When they do have children, they almost never get custody of the children so that they can enjoy of the benefits of the social safety net — in fact, government starts attacking the poor fathers as "dead beat" dads as the mother applies for government benefits.

These perverse incentives represent more than irrational policy. It is immoral to refuse to provide housing, medical and welfare assistance because someone has chosen not to have children, because someone cannot biologically have children, because the courts have taken their children, or because someone having a child has chosen to remain in an intact family relationship with the father present. There is an air of an anti-conservative Christian element to the policy, for those that choose to remain in intact families, or those that desist from child rearing due to their poverty, are penalized for adhering to their religious convictions.

A society that penalizes people for not having children while poor or for choosing to have a father present has lost its moral compass.


Pittsfield, Jan. 29, 2007

The writer is the spokesperson of the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition.


Thursday, February 01, 2007 1:15:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...



Pittsfield graduate rates low

Ranked in bottom 13% in state

By Matt Murphy, Eagle Boston Bureau

Friday, February 02, 2007

BOSTON — Statewide graduation rates compiled for the first time in Massachusetts show a great disparity between urban and wealthier, suburban districts, highlighting the need to find new ways to engage students, officials said.

Outgoing Education Commissioner David Driscoll called the four-year graduation rate a "disgrace" yesterday, placing responsibility for the education of young adults squarely at the feet of both schools and parents.

"The four-year cumulative rate, that we've talked about for a long time is, frankly, a national disgrace, and it's a disgrace here in Massachusetts," Driscoll said yesterday.

Overall, nearly 80 percent of students statewide who entered high school in 2002 graduated within four years, well above the national estimate of 70 percent.

But only 62.3 percent of students enrolled in any of the state's 22 urban school districts graduated on time.

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.

The city ranked in the bottom 13 percent of school districts statewide.

Pittsfield Superintendent Katherine Darlington did not return calls for comment.
But in neighboring Lenox, with a class size of only 67 students, 94 percent graduated on time. Two students are still enrolled at the high school, and one received a GED.

"It's a product of our size, that we know a lot of the students and are able to work with them and specialize programs and deal with any adjustment issues to high school they might have," Lenox Superintendent William Coan said.

Southern Berkshire also graduated 94 percent of its students, and Central Berkshire had a rate of 85.1. North Adams had a graduation rate of 74.7 percent.

Massachusetts is one of only three states nationwide to finish compiling four-year graduate rate data, a process that took five years to accomplish.

About one-third of school districts graduated more than 90 percent of their students in four years, while another one-third graduated between 80 percent and 90 percent.

Although most students in Massachusetts are succeeding at a high level, Driscoll said, more must be done to retain those students being lost from the school system who, without a high school diploma, will face an increasingly difficult time in the marketplace.

Driscoll and local education leaders say that the new graduation data hopefully will start a dialogue about new programs and approaches to education that will keep students engaged in their education.

More girls than boys of every ethnicity graduated within four years — 83.5 percent compared with 76.4 percent overall. Hispanic males were the most likely to drop out of school, at a rate of almost 30 percent.

The Department of Education included all students in its calculations, including the severely handicapped and those who take longer than four years to graduate.

Urban districts also face the challenge of a more transient student population, those who transfer from school to school and are unable to get to know administrators or take advantage of support programs.

Driscoll, however, did not hesitate to put some of the responsibility for graduation on children's parents.

"From my perspective as a commissioner, the great majority of the problem is not the schools," Driscoll said. "How about parents stepping forward and doing their job? Parents get a free ride, in my view, in our society for the way they misraise their children. We ought to give them a fine or something for the way these parents ignore the educational needs of their children."

He acknowledged the state's tight budget outlook for next year, stating that it has always been difficult to find sustained funding for alternative schools and programs.

He said he hopes that, in his last few months on the job, he will be able to work with Gov. Deval L. Patrick and his administration to start formulating an education plan for the future.

The Department of Education also plans over the next two years to calculate five- and six-year graduation rates to recognize school districts that have succeeded in keeping children in school, even if those students take longer to graduate.


» Berkshire County's 2006 graduation rate report

Hoosac Valley 119 80.7 2.5 3.4 13.4
Monument Mountain Regional 142 90.1 4.2 0.7 4.9
Wahconah Regional 174 85.6 2.9 0.0 11.5
Lee 99 87.9 6.1 0.0 6.1
Lenox Memorial 67 94.0 3.0 1.5 1.5
Mount Greylock Regional 123 94.3 0.8 0.0 4.9
Drury 153 75.2 9.2 0.7 15.0
Charles McCann Vocational 97 91.8 4.1 0.0 4.1
Pittsfield 234 67.6 10.3 0.4 25.6
Taconic 272 76.5 5.1 0.4 17.6
Mount Everett Regional 50 94.0 0.0 0.0 6.0

Source: Massachusetts Department of Education

Friday, February 02, 2007 2:06:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear News Media, Politicians, & the People:

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...

In truth,

Jonathan A. Melle


Teen pregnancy up, youth programs down


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.


Pittsfield, Jan. 29, 2007

The writer is a former health/physical education teacher who lost her job because of budget cuts in 2002.

Saturday, February 03, 2007 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear Rinaldo Del Gallo III:

Before I get into your email: "Economics in Pittsfield", I want to note that I think it is cool that Mary Carey blogged about us. She is from Pittsfield, too, and is a good person who also calls for positive change for the Western Massachusetts region, including for Pittsfield!

Anyway, back to your recent email focusing on the pathetic outcomes and negative impacts for Pittsfield by "The Pittsfield Economic Development Authority" (PEDA). Last night, I printed out you lengthy email and spent the later hours of the evening reading what you had to say very closely. Let me begin by saying that you are much more informed and intelligent about legal matters than I am. I liked how you began your letter looking at outcomes and whether the impacts of PEDA were either positive or negative for the Pittsfield local economy. Of course, PEDA's outcomes are all FAILURES and the impacts for the Pittsfield local economy are all NEGATIVE.

You went on to describe "Spice" restaurant on North Street, which is a false facade for "social service alley" and the "banality of social injustice". My mother did not understand why North Street was a banality when the outcomes and impacts on Pittsfield are net losses. I explained my logic to my mom. In college, I read Hannah Arendt's "Eichmann in Jerusalem: The Banality of Evil." My mom interrupted me and said that there was nothing "banal" about the Holocaust. Furthermore, there is nothing banal about "Welfare Mothers" and "Troubled people" going to North Street for social services. I replied to my mom that the Holocaust was very tragic, and the needy people that fall victim to North Street is also very sad, indeed. I told my mom that the point I was making is that the banality of both situations is that some BUREAUCRAT -- Adolf Eichmann -- sat behind a desk and designed the genocide against the 1930's Jewish people; and some BUREAUCRAT sat behind a desk and designed and transformed North Street from a business district into a social service district. The banality of both very different situations was not the Holocaust itself, nor the needy people themselves, but the planning, implementation and administration of the mass murder of the 1930's Jewish people, and the exploitation of the needy Pittsfield area people on North Street (for the city to annually receive tens of millions of state administered, federally funded dollars for social service programs and public education dollars, and then meet the minimal regulatory requirements so that the city can then complement that state via federal money to their own tax base to artifically lower property taxes and also spend the rest on a new restaurant and the renovation of a theater). My mother then understood my point that North Street was not only "social service alley", but it is also "the banality of social injustice" via the city's intentional PERVERSE INCENTIVES.

Remember what I said about failed policies and negative impacts: The INCENTIVES were intentionally PERVERSE instead of RATIONAL! Instead of the city growing the local economy, the city's real interest was to grow its own fiscal coffers while they let the local people "eat cake." In your essay, Rinaldo, I find it interesting that you use the word INCENTIVES, but I find it frustrating that you don't put the word "PERVERSE" in front of it. All of your points led me to conclude that Pittsfield's incentives were perverse instead of rational, but you rarely made that distinction.

Under "C: PEDA's Rights and Obligations With Respect To The Transferred Property", you, Rinaldo, ask "Why are the [PEDA] tenants accountable to GE [and not PEDA]?" I am actually able to answer your question, Rinaldo! The answer to your questions about who is liable to whom and why GE is really still in charge, not PEDA, are because the clean up of PCB pollution on the GE/PEDA site mainly consisted of "capping", not really cleaning up and disposing of, the PCBs. Now, the "capping" of PCB pollution only lasts a maximum of 25 years before the "caps" become useless and PCBs will begin to be toxic and spread around the city and region. So in the "Consent Decree", GE has 15 years of control before PEDA may transfer fee title to land without GE's written approval. After the "caps" become useless in about 25 year from when GE "capped" the PCB pollution, PEDA -- meaning the City of Pittsfield -- will have to "re-cap" the PCB pollution on the PEDA site every concurrent 25 years. In short, PCBs were never really cleaned-up and disposed of, but rather "capped" for a 25 year period so that GE can "get out of Dodge" and leave PEDA with all of the liabilities ("Financial Obligations").

On your point that GE's legal settlement with Pittsfield was not really a "gift" at all, but I saw the $10,000,000 in 10 yearly installments as a bribe that provides further proof to me that the real power brokers in Pittsfield have instituted an insidious system of perverse incentives to fill their fiscal coffers while also limiting liabilities in the short-term. In short, Pittsfield took the BRIBE from GE. Whoever wrote up PEDA and participated in the "Consent Decree" must have had experience and skill in the insurance field because many of the issues in the "Consent Decree" center around "Insurance Issues", which seem like "Insurance Fraud." Not to be petty, but the name ANDY NUCIFORO comes to mind.

In your email, Rinaldo, you ask many questions that there are answers to. If you want to know where the PEDA money is and came from then simply use the proper legal procedures and request an audit of all funds, liabilities, and accounts. Moreover, to answer your questions about the location of GE's PCB infested oil barrels and other pollution that was omitted in the "Consent Decree", again, use the proper legal procedures and request a Freedom of Information Act disclosure of these omitted items. If you legally demonstrate that there was financial fraud and bad faith business dealings between the City of Pittsfield and GE, et al, then you will be able to help Pittsfield annul the "Consent Decree" and begin anew to finally find real solutions to Pittsfield's problems of "Post-Industrial Waste!"

Rinaldo, you made many other good and solid points in your essay. Please use the power of the rule of law to find legitimate answers and solutions to the very good questions you have asked and points you have made. I admire your work, Rinaldo, and I hope that you are someday elected to a municipal and/or state government office so that your strong voice is able to represent the needs of the people of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. You have every right to speak out, and I enjoy listening to what you have to say.

Yours Very Truly,

Jonathan A. Melle

Tuesday, February 13, 2007 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...

Dear Berkshire Eagle, Rinaldo Del Gallo III, Berkshire Bloggers, News Media, Politicians, & the People:

The reason why the Pittsfield area lacks an optimal level of affordable housing, and the reason why PEDA has no business tenants after about 8 to 9 years, is due to one thing and one thing only: PERVERSE ECONOMIC INCENTIVES. I grew up in Pittsfield and watched the socioeconomic perversities play out every day of my young life. Moreover, I now live in Manchester, NH, and similar perverse incentives are used up here as used in the heart of the Berkshires.

The reason why Pittsfield lacks an optimal level of affordable housing to attract new businesses to the area is because new businesses are not the real resource. Yes, in a perfect and rational economic world, which I have yet see to exist anywhere at anytime in human history, Pittsfield and PEDA would be providing rational incentives to attract new businesses to attract new jobs and grow the shrinking and stagnating local economy. BUT, the real economic resource under the perversities of the Pittsfield Political System are the people in and around the Pittsfield area!

Hypothetically, if I was foolish enough to be a "deadbeat dad" after impregnating a local Pittsfield (area) woman -- or a local Manchester, NH (area) woman for that matter, the respective political system would now own my soul and life. The kicker here is that is the respective political system's perverse incentive. Before I explain why the system is designed to control a "have not" man such as myself, I want to explain the predicament I would be in. (a) I would be debt-ridden by medical bills, child support payments, and the extra major costs of bringing an innocent baby into this cruel world of rich v. poor (and I am POOR!), (b) I would become needy on the political system. I may have to join the U.S. Military, or work 3 part-time jobs, or cut the check by ulterior and maybe even illegal means, such as prostitution, drug dealing, working under the table, and the like. Life would not be pretty for Jonathan A. Melle anymore. (c) Because I would be dependent on the political system, I would have to fall in line with the idiotic politicians that run the community I lived in.

If I was really dependent on the local political system, guys like Denis E. Guyer would slander me, and I would have to fake a smile and look down and sheepishly say "thank you, Mr. Guyer" instead of proudly saying:
"You are an ASSHOLE, Denis E. Guyer; and the only reason why you are successful is because you married a wealthy woman named Allison Crane, and your rumors against me reflect more on your own poor character than my conflicted one. Guyer, you are nothing more than a 'mean-spritited Son of a Bitch' who used people to get ahead in life. The one word I have to describe you is 'Gold-Digger.' You go to Beacon Hill most days of the year as a State Representative from Dalton, Massachusetts, and you are such an idiot that you don't even begin to understand the complex public policy issues before you. You go back to your rich wife -- one of the select Crane Family owners of Crane & Company -- and you don't even understand that, once again, the Boston Pols have screwed over the people you so poorly represent at the State House of Representatives."

The reason why the Pittsfield local political system is designed by perversely incentiving the poor people's dependecy on the local government and not rationally incentiving the attraction and retention of businesses is because of the annual $10's of millions in federally funded and subsidized, state administered and subsidized public monies to Pittsfield for substandard social service programs and public education dollars. Now, if I was one of the "deadbeat dads" dependent on the Pittsfield local political system, I would be nothing more than another epitomy of an input providing the city of Pittsfield the opportunity to point their finger at me to the germane state agency providing Pittsfield with so much public money every year. Pittsfield (or Manchester) would then treat me like crap, but keep me just enough dependent on the system so that they could squeeze every state administered public dollar out of me.

So, I grew up in Pittsfield, and with my germane education (A Master of Public Administration from UMass Amherst, May, 1999), I am able to see through every public policy and political behavior of the Mayors, State Representatives, and the like. But, because I raised and continue to raise these points, all of these politicians pretty much hate me, with first prize going to the sleaziest guy in the Berkshires: Denis E. Guyer! They find point after point after point of Jonathan A. Melle's history of "bad boy" behavior and slander my name all of the Pittsfield area. Why do they do this? Two reasons: (a) to say, "Shut the (expletive) Up!", and (b) to ensure that if I ever moved back to the Pittsfield area, I would not find a job and become dependent of the very same local political system I love to criticize.

The reasons why Pittsfield has not (a) built or even planned for an apparatus for more affordable housing, and (b) attracted nor even planned for an appartus for even one private business tenant for PEDA are because (a) that would be a rational way for a local person to be independent (or not be in the control) of the local political system and become a taxpaying citizen, and (b) PEDA would lose its $10's of millions of GE dollar revenues and assume the liabilities of accommodating even one new private tenant. In short, the city of Pittsfield (similar to the city of Manchester, NH) uses perverse incentives to exploit the needy people in order to receive the multiple millions of federally funded, state administered public dollars so that they are able to provide substandard social service programs and public education to the masses by meeting the minimal regulatory standards and then taking the rest of the financial cut and spending it on keeping the property tax rate artificially lower than it should be and special interest projects that never really assist the common man (woman, or family) to live a better quality of life in the community they worked so hard to invest in or screwed up and ended up being stuck in.

In conclusion, THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE EDITORs and Rinaldo Del Gallo III, the city of Pittsfield, Massachusetts does not want to provide affordable housing to a young workforce because that would conflict with their true intentions: USING PERVERSE ECONOMIC INCENTIVES in order to ANNUALLY RECEIVE the $10's of MILLIONS of DOLLARS in FEDERALLY FUNDED, STATE ADMINISTERED social service programs and public education dollars!

In truth,

Jonathan A. Melle

Former resident of "The Pittsfield Area" for the 1st 28.5+ years of my life.


Key issue of affordable housing

A Berkshire Eagle Editorial

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

If Pittsfield and the Berkshires are to attract new business and industry, they must address the lack of affordable housing. Companies will be less inclined to put down roots here if there is a shortage of good, reasonably priced housing stock, and that shortage also makes it difficult to stem the tide of young people from the city and county. The appearance in Pittsfield last week of new housing and economic development secretary Daniel O'Connell is an indicator of the Patrick administration's concern about this and related economic issues confronting the region, and Mr. O'Connell came away with a better understanding of the need to tailor state affordable housing policies to small communities. State funding for housing initiatives has declined by about 50 percent over the past decade and a budget deficit may preclude an increase in the coming fiscal year, but the Legislature's Joint Committee on Housing is considering measures like grants for first-home buyers and incentives for towns that allow more housing in appropriate areas that may address a situation that must be resolved for the state's economy to flourish.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007 3:27:00 PM  
Blogger jonathan said...


Dear Rinaldo:

Thank you for your response to my letter about perverse incentives used by the city of Pittsfield (or the city of Manchester, NH for that matter) instead of rational incentives to plan, implement and administer its public policies. I have cited your comments, which I wholly concur with, below.

The answer to your problem with Tom Hickey should be a simple one, indeed. Look at the outcomes of his tenure, and if they are substandard, terminate his employment and then find a more competent replacement. The bottom line, Rinaldo, is that people like you and me have to continue to have the guts to say to our governments: "STOP using perverse incentives AND START using rational incentives." If the news media and politicians hate us for it, then at least we will have the respect of the People!


Jonathan A. Melle



Subject: Re: The Eagle, like Rinaldo, does not mention PERVERSE INCENTIVES!


There is a more direct and immediate "perverse incentive" to PEDA. The longer PEDA is unproductive, the more Tom Hickey can claim for his pension. Moreover, he will be vested at higher rate of his work at PEDA, not as a city councilor.


Thursday, February 15, 2007 8:48:00 AM  
Blogger jonathan said...


Dear Rinaldo Del Gallo III,

I have read a lot of what you have written about economics in Pittsfield. I came across the following news article: "Bump looks to address job losses in Berkshires" (Capital News 9: The Berkshires, 2/19/2007): This news article states: "Currently the Berkshires have the highest rate of job loss in Massachusetts."

Suzanne Bump says this sad statistic can be changed with the right policies in place. Have you attempted to contact Ms. Bump to share some of your great ideas for economic growth for Pittsfield?

In Friendship,

Jonathan A. Melle


Bump looks to address job losses in Berkshires


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.

Friday, February 23, 2007 3:35:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...


Residency need debated
A subcommittee votes in favor of allowing the Building Commissioner to live outside Pittsfield.
By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff
The Berkshire Eagle

Monday, May 14, 2007

PITTSFIELD — Despite concerns about public safety, officials recently recommended the City Council vote to drop the requirement that the Building Commissioner live within the city of Pittsfield.

Mayor James M. Ruberto told the board that it was time to "relax the standard" to give the City Council the opportunity to vote for building commissioner nominees "like you do for so many other positions under the present charter."

The recently retired William Thornton was known as Pittsfield's "acting" Building Inspector for the last 10 years because he lived in Lenox.

3-2 vote to eliminate requirement

The ordinance and rules subcommittee voted 3-2 in favor of the proposal to eliminate the residency requirement.

Ward 7 Councilor Anthony V. Maffuccio opposed the measure, suggesting it would be better to have the Building Commissioner living in Pittsfield if a disaster occurred.

"I believe, as I said two years ago, you're putting public safety at risk," Maffuccio said. "You need to have these individuals close."

Ward 5 Councilor Jonathan N. Lothrop said if the Building Commissioner's salary were increased, Pittsfield could attract a good candidate that lives within the city.

Referring to Thornton's living situation, Councilor at large Gerald M. Lee he would be in favor of a measure that would determine how far from Pittsfield the Building Commissioner should live.

"I don't want someone living in another time zone," Lee said. "But if you live in Lenox or Dalton, you're still part of the Pittsfield community.

"If you can't hire a building inspector, have people come back on a part-time basis," he said.

Referring to the situation in the School Department where neither the superintendent nor assistant superintendent are full-time city residents, Lee said: "I don't want to become like the School Department where there's a complete disconnect from the community."

Maffuccio said that living in Dalton or Lenox is not the same as living in Pittsfield, and that he had already spoken to Ruberto about increasing the Building Commissioner's yearly compensation.

Ruberto said if the council was interested in having him look at increasing the salaries for public safety employees that he would be happy to do so, but said that would affect the city's salary scale and take "a considerable amount of money."

"We can't isolate one job and say we have to raise the level of that job because we have to fill it," Ruberto said.

In other business, the subcommittee voted 3-2 in favor of rezoning three parcels off of Gamwell Avenue from light industrial to residential.

The property consists of three vacant parcels that are situated behind residences on Gamwell and Velma avenues and the Housatonic Railroad tracks that cross under South Street. All of the surrounding land is zoned residential. The proposal, which has been before various boards the past month, was originally brought forward by Gamwell Avenue resident Walter Doerle who had circulated a citizens' petition.

Ruberto, who lives near Gamwell Avenue, spoke in favor of the rezoning, saying as "a resident of the neighborhood", he hoped the council would approve the measure to maintain "the integrity of the neighborhood."

Ward 2 Councilor Louis A. Costi referred to the rezoning as "unwise" saying all it would accomplish would be to take developable land "off of the tax rolls."

"No one's going to build a house next to a railroad siding," Costi said.

Also in opposition was Joel F. Cooper, the president of Filkins Transportation Co. of Pittsfield, who said he had signed a purchase-and-sales agreement with the Valley Mill Corp. in December to purchase some of the land. If the council approves the rezoning, Filkins said he could move to New York's Rensselaer County the business that he planned to build on the site.

Ordinance and rules also approved a measure that would amend a City Council rule to allow the public health and safety subcommittee, in conjunction with the Board of Health and several state and federal agencies, to conduct bi-annual updates of monitoring activity associated with Hill 78, a PCB-contaminated waste dump behind the Allendale Elementary School.

All three proposals were referred with favorable recommendations to the City Council for consideration.

Monday, May 14, 2007 2:03:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

School merger details wanted

Officials hope for no lingering questions from an upcoming study on consolidating Pittsfield and Taconic.

By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff

Thursday, May 31, 2007

PITTSFIELD — School Committee members want all issues surrounding a possible consolidation of Pittsfield and Taconic high schools resolved once an initial examination of the idea is completed in January.

"What I want out of this is no questions unanswered," said School Committee member Daniel C. Elias.

Elias's comment followed a presentation by Lee Dore from Dore & Whittier Architects Inc., the firm that school and city officials selected two months ago to examine consolidating the city's two high schools.

Harkening back to the lengthy debate over privatizing the city's school bus fleet several years ago, Elias said: "I want a finality to this so that we can move forward in whichever way we may choose."

Once Dore conducts an information-gathering process, Dore & Whittier will present a written report that the city can use as a "jumping-off point for options," Dore said.

"We think we can wrap all of this up by the end of January," Dore added.

Dore said he'd like to get a "handle" on the "expectation and ideas" that the School Committee had regarding the consolidation study.

"We kind of look at this as a blank slate," he said.

Dore told the School Committee on Tuesday the firm plans to bring in a team of architects and engineers to study the two existing high school buildings, perform a structural analysis, examine existing utility issues and work with the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative on sustainable design issues to make the buildings more energy efficient.

The firm will also look at possible environmental impacts on the two properties, and examine the surrounding neighborhoods to see the context that each school is located. Dore & Whittier will also assess the air and water quality in each building; and examine spatial requirements, especially classroom size and the proximity of academic departments to each other; and building code issues.

"We will look at the existing condition of the buildings and come up with a menu of things that need improving from an architectural standpoint," Dore said.

A capacity for the expansion of each building will also be examined.

"Can you build on the top of the school? We don't know. We will be analyzing that," he added.

The firm will also examine enrollment projections to see "what's going to happen over the next 10 years," Dore said.

"We'd like to visit the schools, hopefully before the end of the (school) year," he added.

Once Dore & Whittier finishes examining all of these issues, it will try and determine how much the entire consolidation project would cost the city. He said the firm would try to assess the "total cost," not just the "total construction costs" because such a project would involve a number of "soft costs."

"We try and give you a soup-to-nuts budget so that you can analyze them against each other," Dore said.

He said Whittier & Dore also plans to keep both the Massachusetts School Building Association and the public informed with the ongoing process, by holding neighborhood and community meetings.

Earlier, board members Angel D. Ramirez Jr. and Dorothy J. van den Honert said the effect of consolidation on students' educational opportunities should be given more weight than architectural and structural considerations.

"Unless you can show that there is a significant educational advantage to consolidation, I don't think it's going to work here," van den Honert said. "It's got to really be worth the money in this town if it's going to fly."

"Our top priority is what is the educational plan going to look like regardless of what the building or buildings look like?" said School Committee Chairwoman Kathleen A. Amuso.

Dore, the director of marketing and project manager for Dore & Whittier's office in South Burlington, Vt. (the firm also has an office in Newburyport), outlined the company's plans for a "high school consolidation study" at a Tuesday night special School Committee meeting scheduled specifically for that purpose.

"We all want to be on the same page with the consolidation study from day one," Business Manager Sally Douglas said, explaining why Dore & Whittier had been asked to appear before the board.

Thursday, May 31, 2007 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

RE: An ode to Rinaldo Del Gallo III

Dear Rinaldo Del Gallo III, Berkshire Bloggers, News Media, Politicians, & the People:

Pittsfield Politics is the politics of persecution, not grassroots democracy.

I had dinner this past Thursday evening with my 97 year old maternal grandmother, along with my parents and brother and his lovely family. I thought of the vicious rumor that Denis E. Guyer's conduit, Peter Marchetti, spread about me that my Grandma asked me to leave her Pittsfield home in the early Spring of 2004. My grandmother's maiden name is Marchetti, and the corrupted Pittsfield City Councilor is her great nephew. Talking to my elderly grandmother made me feel proud of myself because prior to parting ways with her, I saved her life by ensuring she go to the local hospital after the doctor's office called and apprised me that she had a diabetic blood sugar count of over 600, and a normal blood sugar count would be between the numbers of 60 - 120. At 97 years of age, my grandmother looks better than ever in recent years. Due to my help of my elderly grandmother, she is still living and proud of herself for her savvy sale of her Pittsfield home. She loves living in Rhode Island with her son/my uncle George. While I like New Hampshire, In only a good way, I envy my grandmother for living in Rhode Island because it is such a beautiful state to live in!

My grandmother and I talked about my paternal grandmother who passed away in North Adams this past March 16, 2007 at 81 years of age from diabetes. Like my maternal grandmother, I wish I still lived in the Berkshires so I would have been able to save my paternal grandmother's life. I lived with my paternal grandmother in North Adams from July 1, 1997 through August 31, 1998 during my semester breaks while attending graduate school at U Mass. My paternal grandmother and I would play Parcheesi and watch TV together. She helped me through a family crisis, and the wounds of family conflict have healed due to my paternal grandmother's grace.

Then my grandmother asked me about my 83 year old elderly lady political friend in Pittsfield. I told her that she is doing well, too. Later this past Thursday evening, the night of a Blue Moon, I called my elderly lady political friend to say hello and tell her about my grandmother. After talking for a while, and being updated about different events and people in Pittsfield Politics, she apprised me that she attended a political dinner and was honored for being a Democratic Party member for 62 years, and that everyone stood up and applauded her work except one man: Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. She apprised me that Luciforo laughed at her during her moment of recognition. I responded that Luciforo should not have been mean-spirited to her.

My grandmother and I talked about her friends and family in Pittsfield. I asked her about her friend Harriet, whom I would also help out during the time I lived with my grandmother and saved her life. My grandmother did not know how her friend of many decades was doing and informed me that she should giver her a telephone call. My grandmother told me I looked good. I responded to her, "Thank you, but I have a belly." I then shook my belly to be funny, and she said to me, "I have a belly, too. That means we eat well." We both laughed.

I think of Pittsfield Politics and the negative tone set by some of the insider politicians there and I shake my head in disgust. Growing up in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the people were NOT like the politicians who now run the city. Back in the summer of 2005, when Cliff Nilan called me and asked me about my father, which I credit him for doing, I told Cliff that during my childhood everything in Pittsfield was not the way it is now: The Eagle was locally owned, the politicians were about the people, not themselves, and the community cared about each other, there was NO persecution. I told Cliff that a few bad apples with bad agendas claimed Pittsfield for their own ends and now the people live in fear and intimidation. Cliff responded that no one cares about politics anymore.

That leads me to my point about why I love my grandmother and get along well with elderly people, in general. During the period of time I lived with my paternal grandmother in North Adams, the dichotomy was clear that she and her elderly friends cherished me, but the younger generations were out to spite me for supporting my father's tenure as Berkshire County Commissioner. When I had political disputes with Dan Bosley, John Barrett III, Andy Luciforo, et al, my late paternal grandmother said to me, "It is a beautiful thing that you are doing, Jonathan!" I said to my grandmother, "What do you mean, the entire Berkshire political machine dislikes me intensely, Grandma?" She said to me, "You love my son, who is your father. You are committed to helping him in his time of need, Jonathan. You have shown yourself to be a good man because you put aside all of your own interests to protect your father from what Nuciforo and those guys down in Pittsfield have done to him."

In the end, it was Judge Barbalunga who ultimately saved my father from ruin. My heart was in the right place, but I will never be as good of a man as my father's old boss. But like me, Judge Barbalunga represented the Pittsfield of my youth. He saw my father being politically persecuted by the Berkshire State Senator, Luciforo, and he also saw Luciforo's dual, coterminous attempt to have my father's son jailed under false pretenses, and worked to assist my dad to keep his state job until his retirement. I thank God for the good man that is Judge Barbalunga who helped my father at the risk of his own interests.

My elderly Pittsfield political friend told me on many occasions the slanderous rumors being spread about me in the Pittsfield area after I moved from the beautiful Berkshires to Southern New Hampshire to live with my family. When she was being applauded for over 6 decades of work on behalf of the Democratic Party, I knew that Luciforo laughed at her because she is committed to humanely helping her fellow man and woman before fulfilling an agenda or corrupted interest. She, like my dad, two grandmothers and Judge Barbalunga, still represent the Pittsfield of my childhood. My elderly Pittsfield friend, my two grandmothers, my dad and Judge Barbalunga, are the people I admire most in politics for their commitment to what matters most in life: PEOPLE! Friends! Family!

There are other good people in the Pittsfield area whom I admire immensely who participate in politics: Rhonda Serre, Richard Delmasto, Larry Caprari, among others.

I consider Rinaldo Del Gallo III as another person who represents the Pittsfield of my childhood. Furthermore, I consider Rinaldo as one of my political friends. Rinaldo has worked tirelessly to better the ailing social conditions in Pittsfield, but because he does not comply with the corrupted agenda of the local political oligarchy, he is laughed at like my elderly Pittsfield political friend was laughed at by Luciforo amidst a room of standing applause. Rinaldo did what countless others have done, including myself, which was to collect campaign signatures inside and outside of the United States Post Office on Fenn Street in Pittsfield. The corrupted special intests who have taken over and soured the Pittsfield of my childhood saw it as an opportunity to politically persecute him for practicing his constitutionally protected rights and liberties to participate in democracy.

For the same reason I wanted to help my dad in his time of political persecution, I protected the sanctity of human lives during my honorable service in the U.S. Army and was honored by the sitting president by being ordered a hearing one block from The White House to be granted my VA Benefits, for saving my maternal grandmother's life during her time of illness and need, and for leading a good life and being best known for being a good man, I am going to sign the following affidavit on behalf of another good man, Rinaldo Del Gallo III.

In Truth,

Jonathan A. Melle



I, JONATHAN MELLE, testify under pains of perjury that all of the following statements of facts are either true or believed to be true, all of the following statements of belief are believed to be true, and that all of the following statements of law are beliefs believed to be true:

That on or about the time period of the entire month of February and up to the middle of March of 2004 I gathered signatures on the sidewalk of the Pittsfield Post Office when I was running for State Senator in Berkshire County.

Jonathan A. Melle
Date: June 02, 2007

Saturday, June 02, 2007 1:32:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...


Dear Rinaldo,

I concur with your essay, below. I think you are one of the most intelligent and good-hearted people I have ever met. I enjoy reading your policy essays a lot!

I think Pittsfield, Massachusetts is a good place to live! I am glad I grew up and spent most of my life in the Pittsfield area.

It is just that mean-spirited politicians like Denis E. Guyer, who spread vicious, hurtful, racist and violent rumors against me, Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr., who always picks on me to political insiders, and Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., who tried to both ruin my dad's career and put me in Carmen's County Jail, and who is also now behind Denis E. Guyer's dirty politics, makes me very angry.

When I read online propaganda news articles describing how wonderful Denis E. Guyer is, I want to vomit! When I see through Carmen Massimiano's backing of Andrea Nuciforo for a future run for U.S. Congress based on the pretense of Western Massachusetts issues when they are both insider Boston-run Pols, I want to scream! When I hear Mayor Jim Ruberto mock me while playing into the hands of Denis Guyer, Carmen Massimiano & Andrea Nuciforo, I want to dissent.

The ugly truth, Rinaldo, is that Pittsfield is being ran by the Boston Pols' political machine special interests. Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Jim Ruberto talk up Pittsfield's economy, but it is all propaganda!

Pittsfield is the number ONE place in Massachusetts for job LOSSES! Pittsfield's public schools are among the ten worst performing educational institutions in the commonwealth. Pittsfield's teen pregnancy rate doubles the statewide average. Pittsfield's welfare caseloads are skyrocketing upwards every year. Pittsfield, Massachusetts is a place with a myriad of devastating social programs. The Mayor and like state and local politicians are to blame!

I feel like Pittsfield's public policies are all done by design for the city to collect its annual tens of millions of dollars in state administered, federal funds for social programs, including public education, and then complement the public dollars to its municipal tax base to fund only special interests and keep the property tax liability artificially low for the elite wealthy residents. This kind of governance behavior is called (intentional) "Perverse Incentives" in Economics.

Rinaldo, this was NOT the community you and I both grew up in. It breaks my heart to read about even one more teen pregnancy, high school drop-out, underperforming public school, lost job, and the like. A couple of years ago, you used to write essays about Pittsfield's perverse governance behaviors. Now, you remain silent. That breaks my heart, too.

As Amherst, Massachusetts State Senator Stan Rosenberg pointed out to me in our past email correspondences, the problems he works on for Western Massachusetts are in New Hampshire too. He is absolutely right. Every public school in Manchester, NH is now underperforming! That breaks my heart, too. Suffice it to say, I will NOT be voting for Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta next Tuesday or possibly in November either!

Thank you to all of you who correspond with me. I read all of your emails. We should all care about each other. That is why I continue to write, because I CARE!

Yours Truly,

Jonathan A. Melle

RDelGalloIII at aol dot com wrote:


You have many good things to say which are very intelligent. Here however you accuse the mayor of essentially not loving his mother, using her, and putting her in a nursing home in an effort to steal her house. I have had many disagreements with the mayor Jonathan on policy, but I am 100% certain that he has the utmost affection for his mother and would not do anything that he did not think was in her own interest. The decison to put a parent in a nursing home is a difficult one to make. I am sure the mayor's only motives were what was best for his mother and that his own interest had nothing to do with the analysis. Jonathan, I think it might be better to keep your criticism centered around public policy. I know deep inside there is a lot of good in you.


Thursday, September 13, 2007 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

City schools lag in area

By Jenn Smith, Berkshire Eagle Staff

Article Last Updated: 09/15/2007
Saturday, September 15, 2007

PITTSFIELD — Pittsfield remains the only school system in Berkshire County still listed as needing "corrective action" on the federal No Child Left Behind standards, but school administrators said 11 of its 12 schools are meeting their achievement targets.

According to preliminary annual yearly progress reports released yesterday, the district is still labeled with a corrective action status because six of its schools did not meet goals for achievement either in subgroup performance or, in the case of one school, aggregate performance, which measures the performance of a school as a whole.

In 2006, the district did not meet the standards for adequate yearly progress in English/language arts. And its subgroups — student data categories broken down by limited English proficiency, special education, low-income and ethnic groups — did not make their targets in math.

But for 2007, according to the data released yesterday, the district only failed to get all its subgroups to make progress in English/language arts.

In an interview yesterday, Superintendent Katherine E. Darlington and Deputy Superintendent Howard J. Eberwein III, discussed the status changes in their schools.

Darlington said the results show "not incremental, but dramatic improvement" for the district.

According to the data, Morningside Elementary School was the only Pittsfield school to show a decline in performance in 2007. This is the second year the school has been identified for improvement.

Crosby Elementary and Conte Community schools met their academic targets in math and English/language arts overall, but not in English/language arts for all of its subgroups. This is the first year both schools have been identified for improvement of its subgroup performances in this subject.

Eberwein said Pittsfield High School has been identified for improvement within its subgroups for English/language arts scores, but only because the school did not meet the state threshold for graduation rates, something that was factored into scores for the first time this year.

The other two schools, Reid and Herberg middle schools, are being reviewed by the state because they missed the attendance threshold of 92 percent by marginal percentages.

Reid had an attendance rate of 91.6 percent, and Herberg had a rate of 90.6 percent.

Darlington said the district is going to look more closely at how it collects data to see whether the discrepancies are reporting issues, medical-related absences or other reasons why kids are not in school.

"We know now that we have a great deal of work to do in how we plan for Morningside," she said, adding that administrators will be in the school working with students, staff and faculty and keeping parents informed.

Letters will be sent home with all the district's students as early as Monday detailing the district's performance scores.


Saturday, September 15, 2007 1:47:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

MCAS scores are up
By Hillary Chabot, Transcript statehouse bureau
Article Launched: 09/13/2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007

BOSTON — After years of staying relatively flat, MCAS scores got a boost across all grades and subjects, according to results released Wednesday for the state Department of Education.
Scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Achievement System tests for elementary through middle school students saw the most improvement, with 8 percent more elementary students scoring proficient or higher in math and a 6 percent increase for fourth-graders who scored proficient or higher in English Language Arts.

More 10th-graders managed a proficient or higher score after they took the test for the first time, with 87 passing last spring, up from 84 percent in 2006.

"I think this is the result of schools focusing their curriculum on the standards of the test," said Acting Commissioner of Education Jeffrey Nellhaus. "As the students who got exposure to those standards come up through the grades, the scores have been going up."

The biggest jump was in elementary mathematics, which saw an 8 percent proficiency increase for students in grades three, four and five.

Adams Cheshire regional District Superintendent Alfred W. Skrocki said the results are heartening.

"Our preliminary results look good also," Skrocki said. "We've been making some significant changes in the way we're operating in all of our schools, and I'm sure this has some impact on that change."
Students are expected to get a score of 240 or above to achieve a proficiency score on the MCAS test. The scores of elementary students have remained flat, and sometimes even declined, for the past two years. Gov. Deval Patrick said the boost is a welcome change.

"It is a testament to the diligence of our students and the hard work of our teachers and administrators," Patrick said in a statement. "But let's not lose sight of the fact that while kids with disabilities and limited English proficiency and minority kids, are improving, the achievement gap persists. We have work to do there."

The "achievement gap" shows that minority, low-income and disabled students still have a tougher time making proficiency scores in all grades. While 91 percent of white students scored proficient on their first try, only 73 percent of black students and 67 percent of Hispanic students did so. Only 60 percent of disabled students made proficiency their first try, as did 73 percent of low-income students.

Minority students saw gains in MCAS scores overall, however. Black and Hispanic students in all grades tested improved their scores in math by 1 to 8 percent. They also increased scores on their English Language Arts tests by 1 to 5 percent.

Skrocki said the results reflect hard work that must continue.

"It's a one-year thing, and you're also talking about different kids," he said. "We have been working on substantive changes and programs that will hopefully keep our results rising in the long term."

Scores for individual scores are not expected to be released until next month.

Saturday, September 15, 2007 1:56:00 PM  

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