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Discrimination Complaint Against Pittsfield Mayor In Federal Hands

By Joe Durwin
iBerkshires Correspondent
08:10AM / Tuesday, June 17, 2014
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Medford, Mass., resident Doreen Wade, who claims that discriminatory attitudes by Mayor Daniel Bianchi and the city of Pittsfield have prevented her from relocating her business to the area, testifies at the Human Rights Commission in Pittsfield on Monday night.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A local inquiry into claims of racial discrimination by Mayor Daniel Bianchi may be on pause, following the sudden revelation on Monday night that a federal investigation is allegedly also under way.

Medford, Mass., resident Doreen Wade, who claims that discriminatory attitudes by Bianchi and the city of Pittsfield have prevented her from relocating her business to the area, told the recently convened Human Rights Commission that she has also filed complaints with the Department of Justice and the Attorney General's office.
 
At the conclusion of a lengthy second hearing on the complaint, no direct evidence had yet been provided to substantiate any of the claims made by the complainant. But to the surprise of the commission, Wade disclosed that she had also filed the complaint on the federal level, at which time the commission voted to table further inquiry on their part until the status of these alleged inquiries could be ascertained.
 
"If two other departments much higher than this commission in Pittsfield are investigating it, I'm sitting here wondering why we're investigating it also," said member Susan O'Leary.
 
"We're a local body, and the reason that we're here, as volunteers, is to look seriously at the complaints to determine if they need to go somewhere else," agreed Pamela Malumphy.  "If we had known a month ago that you had already filed a complaint with a much higher body, with lots of paid employees who can look at that complaint, I don't think I would be sitting here right now."
 
"I wanted to show the city of Pittsfield respect, by following bureaucracy," Wade answered. "I'm trying to come to the truth, and deal with this."
 
Wade's complaints surround a series of meetings with Mayor Bianchi in the spring of 2013, during which she says said Bianchi told her she would receive no public funding assistance for bringing her business to Pittsfield, made racially insensitive comments and caused her to feel threatened.  
 
Other witness testimony heard Monday, however, differed somewhat from that heard from Wade last month regarding a second meeting last spring during which the online publisher said the mayor gestured in a way she considered a criminal assault. At that meeting, she said, Bianchi was "yelling and screaming," then physically loomed over her and shook his finger in her face.
 
NAACP President Will Singleton, who was present at the meeting, said the meeting became "agitated" as Bianchi disputed what he said were misrepresentations of his words by Wade, at which time he shook his finger while leaning forward in his chair, but did not enter her personal space.
 
"I wouldn't say he was shouting," Singleton told the commission, "He was obviously angry."
 
When asked if he had heard the mayor make any remarks he considered racially discriminatory, either at that meeting or any other at which he had been present, Singleton said no.
 
Other statments made by Wade last month concerning alleged retaliation by Bianchi in communications with the mayor in her home city of Medford could not be confirmed in conversation with Mayor Michael McGlynn, according to Malumphy.
 
"I can't make people tell the truth," answered Wade.
 
The commission questioned Wade for more than an hour and a half in an effort to establish some specific details regarding a list of issues that Wade has listed in her formal complaint this year, with a particular focus on a sequence of applications by Wade to key positions in the Bianchi cabinet since her dispute with him last spring. Wade stated she had applied for some half dozen positions working for the city, and applications had either been lost or otherwise disqualified from consideration by Bianchi.
 
More clarification was asked regarding those applications for which there was a record, including the recently changing director of Administrative Services and director of Cultural Development positions, and the complainant was asked if she could substantiate credentials listed in those applications.  Wade said she could provide the Commission with documentation of media and marketing experience that included a work history with Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Colonial Theatre and the city of Springfield.  
 
Proceedings took a turn, however, when Wade mentioned to the commission that her complaints were also being investigated by the Attorney General and Department of Justice, a fact not known by either the commission or Mayor Bianchi.
 
O'Leary made a motion to table further questions in the commission's inquiry until the status of these investigations could be ascertained, approved unanimously. The date of a July meeting has not yet been set.

 

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