Our Opinion: Troubling circumstances of Frieri departure
Pittsfield is now without a veterans’ agent following the suspension without pay of Rosanne Frieri by Mayor Daniel Bianchi. Mayor Bianchi says the suspension is "work-related" and Ms. Frieri cites disputes within City Hall that may be at the root of the issue. What is most worrisome is that Ms. Frieri didn’t make a case for herself because she was uncomfortable meeting with the mayor in his office.
Ms. Frieri told The Eagle’s Jim Therrien that on a previous occasion the mayor "started yelling and screaming at me. I said, never again without a third party." Ms. Frieri is not the first person to claim to have experienced the mayor’s wrath in his office -- most recently City Councilor Barry Clairmont said he was "dressed down" by the mayor when he was last in his office in City Hall. People will lose their tempers, but in the mayor’s case, it appears to be a pattern and a counterproductive one when it comes to governing.
The mayor told The Eagle that there are other veterans’ agents within Berkshire County to help with paperwork, but they are not as familiar with the cases as is Ms. Frieri. She is an experienced veteran regarded highly enough to serve as veterans’ agent for several other Berkshire towns as an independent contractor. Her concerns about how efficiently the office will run in her absence are likely justified.
Ms. Frieri has been the veterans’ agent for seven years, beginning during the tenure of Mayor James Ruberto, and if the two had any disputes, they didn’t emerge in public with her suspension. Ideally, Ms. Frieri will be back on the job soon, but when she is, her relationship with Mayor Bianchi is probably irreparably damaged. City government is complicated enough when running smoothly, and in Pittsfield’s City Hall, there is too much drama.