To the editor of THE EAGLE:
On Jan. 28, an editorial, "Truth teller joins the line," appeared in the Eagle referencing an article about John Barrett, the recently replaced director at Berkshire Works. The editorial page editor, Bill Everhart, makes a suggestion that "it would be unfortunate if the capable Mr. Barrett was penalized for his appointment by the current mayor’s former rival (Jim Ruberto) or for whistle blowing." I agree, it would be unfortunate, and it would also be highly unlikely.
If I was going to act politically I would have replaced Mr. Barrett two years ago. "Whistle blowing" or horn blowing had nothing to do with my decision. Certainly any relationship with the former mayor had no bearing either. Many other appointments of my predecessor working in local government are proof of that. About two years ago I informed Mr. Barrett of my plans for a change. I honored, however, the contract signed by the former mayor.
I believe the work at the career center is very important to the economic development of the region. I also believe that we need a professional with experience in the field of workforce development and in the area of unemployment. I was looking for someone who was compassionate about helping the unemployed and who had the professional experience to be effective. I included North Adams Mayor Alcombright and a member of the Berkshire Town Managers Association to participate in the final interview. This position is critical to the entire county. After a couple of search attempts, we found someone who fit the bill.
Perhaps The Eagle should have attempted to contact someone at the Department of Labor to get a more accurate account and balanced view before they wrote their article regarding the on-line benefits application process. Perhaps they could have contacted me to understand the lengthy process that my staff and I went through to find a person who could advance regional workforce development before they wrote their editorial. Perhaps they could have sought a clearer explanation for my objectives for making a change at the career center. The Eagle could generally be more fair and balanced. The Eagle editor should resist attempting to erode people’s confidence of the current community leadership just because we weren’t his choice.
A daily, community newspaper should help to advance the community and be civically supportive of positive change. It is my goal to put the most effective people possible in critical positions. I work to keep politics out of all of my decision making. I would hope that politics would not be motivating the Eagle editor. I would invite the Eagle to help this great community address its challenges and be a positive partner to help us realize our strong potential.
The writer is the mayor of Pittsfield.