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Hoping defend himself, Kronick takes to the stand during Pittsfield City Council meeting open mic

 Ward 2 city councilor Charles Kronick during the open mic portion of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts city council meeting of June 28th, 2022.
Screenshot by Josh Landes for WAMC
Ward 2 city councilor Charles Kronick during the open mic portion of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts city council meeting of June 28th, 2022.

At Tuesday night’s Pittsfield, Massachusetts city council meeting, Ward 2 councilor Charles Kronick used the open mic segment of the meeting to respond to widespread criticism directed toward him in recent weeks over a number of issues.

During budget hearings this spring, Kronick said that as a religious principle, he believes people are the gender they were assigned at birth, provoking backlash from community members and city leaders. Resident Tonya Frazier described him as “very blind and ignorant to the city’s problems” at the May 24th city council meeting.

“You said it was common sense that people know what they are because they are born that way, and that is against your religious beliefs," said Frazier. "You insulted so many members of this community by saying such a biased statement.”

Just weeks into his first term, Kronick made waves in February by attempting to halt a rudimentary appointment vote on the city’s first Chief Diversity Officer, Michael Obasohan — who became the first Black city councilor in North Adams history in 2021.

“You tried to cut his budget, and were so scattered on what your motion even was because you feel so intimidated by a Black man making more money than you do,” said Frazier.

During a closed door press conference last week, Mayor Linda Tyer spoke out on Kronick’s remarks in the context of his ongoing opposition to funding the city’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

“It simply proves the reason and the need for the city's Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion," said Tyer. "We are still fighting against those racist, homophobic, transphobic, misogynistic attitudes. And yes, sometimes people of that mindset get elected to office. And it just proves why we need to do this work and why I am committed to it, so much so that we created the office and hired a director so that we can be, so that we can not be that.”

The briefing by Tyer and Council President Peter Marchetti was in response to another source of criticism toward Kronick: his decision to use a charter objection at the first council meeting of June to hinder the passing of the amended 2023 budget ahead of the new fiscal year July 1st.

Tyer and Marchetti also took questions about what it would take to recall Kronick at the press conference.

All of this preceded Kronick’s attempt at self-defense Tuesday. Given the councilor’s allegations that he has been mistreated by the press, WAMC is airing his remarks in full to allow listeners to hear his explanation.

“I’m going to start out saying I have been singled out over the last several months, and before I even ran for office, before I got on the ticket for this office," said Kronick. "And depriving 4,000 people a road maintenance money and refusing to address petitions for disabled residents of Ward 2 among many other examples come out to hit me and, I, responding, I’m bringing right up to here. The reason, the last meeting, Councilor Lampiasi stifling me because I mentioned my religious views. And the President Marchetti angrily, and I say wrongly, accuses me of debasing people because I was bold enough to argue to protect the public employees’ pensions. And not to mention, in concert, I do suspect, with Mayor Tyer promoting my recall, and calling me in a slanderous fashion, though I don't believe you mean it, feel that way, transphobic and homophobic. I thought, why did I mentioned religion in response to the pronoun training? It was spontaneous, but punishing pronoun training discriminates against Judaic and the Christian faithful. We are now told to lie about the biological gender that, violating the Ninth Commandment. We’re further they're told to deny our beliefs that God created man and woman and set our moral compass on mankind's teaching though and not on the Almighty's and that violates the Second and Third Commandments. I recently witnessed modeling of gender identity language to the first graders and older at Morningside Elementary School. And that's regular, that's an ongoing thing. So now the faithful have to teach their children in to violate the Fifth Commandment of the, of the Testaments, and honor the schools and their peers above the parents. The other key reason I mentioned my faith, singling me out in the past, and now they're calling me racist, greedy, transphobic, homophobic, and promoting my recall, seems to prove that I mentioned my religion because I was reacting to a very familiar opponent, the opponent, causing, in the past, 6 million murdered Jews, and then talking about anti-Semitism, but really, I'm talking about religious anti-Semitism, which is full display, not necessarily deliberate, but it's there in the city government, in the press. And the hatred these days I bring to your attention is a very subtle thing, and it hides itself in contemporary trends.”

At this point, Marchetti told Kronick to wrap up his remarks as he had exceeded the 3-minute limit afforded to the meeting’s open mic participants.

“In conclusion, I'm going to say no, I am not going to apologize by calling a charter objection in the name of Ward 2, and no, I do not apologize for fighting for the city employees’ pensions and saving money for all these citizens who are facing historic inflation," said Kronick. "And I do not certainly apologize for insisting that the majority interest on this city council-“

“Councilor, I need you to wrap it up,” said Marchetti.

“-with the minority interests who represent thousands of citizens instead of screwing those people over, and I swore an oath – I’m done – to the people who elected me and I will uphold my oath," continued Kronick. "So may God help me and guide me and the city council.”

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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