Two Charter Objections Called at Pittsfield City Council Meeting, One for the FY23 Budget

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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Rinaldo del Gallo, who proposed the nip bottle ban diplays one before downing it at Tuesday's City Council meeting.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Tuesday's City Council meeting saw two charter objections, one for the city's $189 million fiscal 2023 budget and another on a petition to ban nip bottles in Pittsfield.

Ward 2 Councilor Charles Kronick halted the council's vote on the $189 million fiscal 2023 budget. This will void all of the recommended amendments that were made to the proposal over four nights of deliberations.  

These include an additional $1,000 to the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP,) $65,000 for school maintenance, and $50,000 to the building inspector's department, and a recommendation for the Pittsfield Police to earmark up to $250,000 in grant money to have additional clinicians as co-responders.

Kronick proposed the amendment to RSVP.

Councilor at Large Earl Persip III was visually and audibly frustrated with the motion, which the councilor said he made on behalf of his ward. Persip commented something along the lines of "you've got to be joking" after the charter objection and walked out of the room.

"I think it's a cop-out. It doesn't accomplish anything. It doesn't do anything. It delays the process and I don't believe he understands what actually his charter objection did to the budget and the things that we actually accomplished, especially around mental health, this year," Persip said after the meeting.

"He has nixed all that accomplishment that we pulled off this year, and I was very proud of some of the things we did but they don't matter."

Before the charter objection was solidified, President Peter Marchetti made sure that Kronick knew what his action would entail.

"Let me make you aware that if you charter object, we cannot take up this budget until the June 26 meeting, and the 45 days in the charter will pass and the mayor will have her original budget without the increases that we've put forward," He said.

"Is that what you really want to do?"

The original budget amount is $188,706,018. A special meeting could have been called to challenge the charter objection but after it was made, Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Maffuccio supported it.

Kronick has made a number of stances against the budget during deliberations. Notably, he scrutinized Chief Diversity Officer Michael Obasohan's credentials for an annual salary of around $90,000 and made a transphobic comment pertaining to the Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion.

"People want to know how to talk to everybody else, are you a 'he,' 'she,' or 'her,' my sister, she's a ‘she' and 'her' she put it in her LinkedIn thing and I'm never confused when I talk to her," Kronick said at the May meeting.

"I feel, and maybe it's just an opinion, but I don't think it's just an opinion, I think that this is sort of a commonsense sort of thing, you know what you are because we were told that when you were born. It is a religious principle of mine, I think that what we're talking about here is spending money on things that you can research on the side."

After unsuccessfully motioning to send a petition from local attorney Rinaldo Del Gallo III to ban nip bottles in the city to the Green Commission, Persip called for a charter objection.

This was met with exasperated laughter but it wasn't the only time that council chambers were giggling that night. While presenting his petition, Del Gallo displayed a nip bottle as a prop and took a swig from it at the podium.

Last week, the Ordinances and Rules subcommittee rejected the petition after hearing from several liquor store owners about how it would financially cripple the businesses. The owners also spoke at the city council meeting and said they are committed to addressing the issue of people littering the tiny liquor bottles.

Persip argued that the only solution to nip bottle litter is for the state to put a five-cent bottle deposit on them. Del Gallo presented a motion to refer the petition to the Green Committee, which meets on an ad hoc basis, to weigh in on the situation.

He supports the ban to get the state's attention and wanted the petition to at least to be referred off so that the conversation doesn't end.

"I ask you all that's what was being done before this petition came up? Zilch, nothing." Persip said.

"If this goes away, nothing happens."

The motion to refer the ban to the committee failed 3-8 with just Persip, Maffuccio, and Ward 6 Councilor Dina Guiel Lampiasi voting in favor.

Maffuccio was 50/50 on the ban at the subcommittee meeting but is now in favor of it. He called the nip bottle litter a hindrance throughout the whole city.

"This is blight," he said, "I understand lottery tickets are a problem, I understand cups are a problem, you know what? Cigarette packs are a problem. This is a problem. Everything's a problem but we have to start somewhere."

Tags: fiscal 2023,   pittsfield_budget,   

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West Side Mural Wishes for Greener Future

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

The mural was commissioned by Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity. Director Carolyn Valli says murals bring 'a sense of hope.' The nonprofit is building two units of housing near the artwork.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A new mural on the West Side depicts a vision of a green community.
On Friday, the completion of "I Wish … For a Greener Future" by Hope Aguilera was celebrated by Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, which commissioned the piece as a part of neighborhood revitalization efforts.
Located on the B&P Auto Body Supply at the corner of Robbins Avenue and Columbus Avenue, it depicts a young boy making a wish on a dandelion with an eco-friendly landscape in the background. Within the mural is a farm, windmills to supply energy, an electric car, and a Bird scooter.
"Whenever you start thinking about doing a mural project or doing anything like this Habitat's perspective is 'What do we want to help the community do because it's something they want?'" CEO Carolyn Valli said.
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