Pittsfield City Council Kicks Off New Session
The Pittsfield, Massachusetts city council held its first meeting of the new session this week.
With the dust settled from November’s election, a new 11-member body took their seats in the city council chambers for the next two-year term. The four at-large positions are held by council president Peter Marchetti, council vice president Peter White, Earl Persip, and newcomer Yuki Cohen. Wards one, two, three, and four are represented by returning councilors Helen Moon, Kevin Morandi, Nick Caccamo, and Chris Connell, respectively. Patrick Kavey and Dina Guiel Lampiasi are joining the council to represent wards five and six, respectively, and returning councilor Anthony Maffuccio represents ward seven.
At its first meeting Tuesday, the council accepted a $10,000 grant from the Massachusetts lnterlocal Insurance Association to have the city’s playgrounds inspected, as well as to have city staffers trained to do so moving forward. Councilor Persip said the effort was long overdue, citing pressure from the state Department of Early Education and Care.
“We have afterschool programs at our elementary schools that can’t use the playground because an EEC licensor comes out and is telling us these playgrounds aren’t safe because of the mulch," said Persip. "This book requires nine inches of mulch for fall zones. Not one of our playgrounds has nine inches of mulch at any of them. This has been an ongoing problem for the last 15, 20 years.”
The council also established the subcommittee assignments for 2020 as designated by council president Marchetti.
On Ordinance and Rules, Caccamo will serve as chair, alongside vice chair White, Persip, Kavey, and Maffuccio.
On Public Health and Safety, Moon will serve as chair, with vice chair Maffuccio, Connell, Cohen, and Morandi.
Persip will chair Community and Economic Development, with vice chair Caccamo, Moon, Kavey, and Guiel Lampiasi.
The Finance subcommittee will be chaired by Marchetti, with vice chair Persip, Cohen, White, and Morandi.
Public Buildings and Maintenance will be chaired by Maffuccio, with vice chair Marchetti, Morandi, Guiel Lampiasi, and Cohen.
Public Works will be chaired by White, with vice chair Maffuccio, Kavey, Guiel Lampiasi, and Connell.
But not everyone was happy with the assignments.
“There used to be a little bit of dialogue going back to councilors to see what committees they would like to serve on, and whatever was left over the president would obviously fill in the blanks,” said Connell. He said would not vote for the assignments in protest, but – without specifying his complaints – said he was working with Marchetti.
“He has indicated to me that he is willing to re-look at these and possibly make some changes,” said the Ward 4 councilor.
Connell neither chairs nor vice chairs any subcommittee this session, unlike the 2018-2019 session when he led the public works committee and vice chaired finance.
“I have made it a practice to change up committee chairs as I go along," Marchetti told WAMC. “I’m very concerned that I hear from the public on a regular basis about the level of respect and discourse within the city council so I made some choices and decisions to try to rectify that.”
The council president did not specific if those complaints concerned councilor Connell. He confirmed that he had discussed the assignments with Connell.
“I did tell him that when I was in a fresh state of mind that I would review them," said Marchetti. "As to whether or not there will be changes, I have not had the time to sit down and look at them to make that decision.”
Connell was unavailable for comment on this story by airtime.
Councilors Morandi and Moon joined Connell in voting against the assignments, which passed easily. Like Connell, Morandi chaired and vice chaired two subcommittees in the previous session – Public Health and Safety and Public Works, respectively – and now does not hold any such position. Moon – who now chairs Public Health and Safety – did not hold any chair or vice chair positions in the last session.
Councilor Maffuccio submitted 16 petitions to the council at his first meeting back in office since 2010, ranging from a request for the city to present a list of real estate holdings available for auction to an update on the city’s public schools and their repair needs.
Audio from the meeting is from Pittsfield Community Television.
You can hear the full meeting here: