Our Opinion: Veterans in the middle
This story has been modified to clarify that the mayor cites Rosanne Frieri's failure to defend her department's budget before the City Council as among the reasons for her suspension.
The postponement Friday of a job-related hearing regarding suspended Pittsfield Veterans Services Office Rosanne Frieri at the request of Ms. Frieri's attorney provides additional time for a resolution to be found, if it is not too late. Beyond the dispute over the reasons for the suspension, the role of city veterans in this situation, if any, has become an issue.
A statement from the office of Mayor Daniel Bianchi says Ms. Frieri was suspended for, among other reasons, failing to prepare a budget for fiscal 2015 and failing to defend her department's budget before the City Council. Ms. Frieri has told The Eagle she prepared a budget, attended a City Council session on her department budget but not the overall budget session, and was suspended for refusing to meet with the mayor, asserting that she had been badgered by him at a past meeting.
The mayor's office also released letters from two veterans' groups from 2012 saying that they had passed votes of "no confidence" in Ms. Frieri. The letter from Thomas J. Landry, commander of Charles A. Persip Pittsfield American Legion Post 68, said the vote was unanimous with two abstentions. The letter from Thomas Van Wert, commander of the Disabled Veterans Chapter 15 of Pittsfield said the vote was passed unanimously.
Neither letter offers any hint as to what Ms. Frieri did or failed to do to get the votes of "no confidence." The absence of any formal complaints since then suggests that the issues the groups had with the veterans agent have been resolved. But more significantly, if Ms. Frieri was suspended because of what the mayor has described as "work-related" issues, the "no confidence" letters are of no relevance. If they were significant, the mayor could have acted on them two years ago.
The Eagle has printed letters to the editor from local veterans defending Ms. Frieri and praising her job performance. It has received no letters from veterans praising the suspension, criticizing her performance or explaining the past "no confidence" votes. The issue here is between Mr. Bianchi and Ms. Frieri, and her relationship with veterans, which appears sound, is not significant.
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