Our Opinion: For want of a fire truck
Pittsfield residents reading about the dispute between Pittsfield Mayor Daniel Bianchi and the City Council over a fire truck can be forgiven for flashing back to their young children fighting over a toy. It is more serious than that, however, especially if the ensuing stalemate continues to stall or jeopardize needed city projects.
The failure of the capital projects budget to pass in June by the necessary two-thirds majority is rooted in the desire of four councilors to include a fire truck in the budget (others appear similarly inclined), while the mayor would prefer a fleet of rapid-response vehicles for the department. The parties accuse each other of playing politics and aren't communicating.
In today's Eagle, the mayor said he has offered to put the fire truck in next year's budget or consider it again later this year, either of which is a good solution. So why hasn't this happened? While the stalemate continues, other capital projects are stalled and a large chunk of the construction season has been lost. With $3 million earmarked for road work in the city, Ward 4 City Councilor Christopher Connell worries not only about the lost construction time but the fact that the best contractors are already working other jobs.
The fire truck is the least of the problems here. Elected officials have to communicate with one another regardless of personal feelings and a city councilor should not be worried that he will be "dressed down" by the mayor, as Councilor Barry Clairmont says he was when he last went to Mr. Bianchi's office. That politics and poor communication have stalled worthy capital projects in the city should anger taxpayers. This is not an issue that should have been allowed to drag toward August.