Wigwam sign pays homage to Berkshires being seen as 'America's Switzerland' (copy)

North Adams Mayor Thomas Bernard, left, and state Rep. John Barrett III help unveil a new sign at the Wigwam Western Summit in North Adams in 2019. On Monday, Bernard accused Barrett of speaking to him in a threatening manner during a Nov. 9 phone call. Barrett says he was trying to offer advice and his message was misconstrued.

NORTH ADAMS — Two days after North Adams Mayor Tom Bernard called for an ethics review of state Rep. John Barrett III, the state House speaker has given no indication whether there will be any such action.

Bernard sought the review Monday, in light of a comment Barrett made that the mayor perceived as a threat.

When asked by The Eagle whether the House would oblige, the office of Speaker Ronald Mariano did not provide a direct answer, but seemed to suggest that an ethics review would not be appropriate in this situation.

“The Speaker has no firsthand knowledge of this private conversation,” a spokesperson said in an email Tuesday. “Per House rules, the Ethics Committee is able to investigate complaints filed by a Member, officer or employee.”

The spokesperson did not reply to multiple requests for clarification on the statement.

Rep. Thomas Walsh, chair of the House Committee on Ethics, did not respond to a request for comment.

In a Nov. 10 email, Bernard called on Mariano to start an ethics review into a comment Barrett made in a phone conversation about plans for the Mohawk Theater.

“In our conversation you indicated that presenting this update and strategy to the Council and the community would be ‘bad’ for my livelihood, professional standing, and family, which I reasonably infer and construe as a clear, if nonspecific, threat on your part toward me,” Bernard wrote.

Barrett told The Eagle this week that he was trying to provide Bernard advice and Bernard interpreted it in a way he did not intend. “It was not a heated discussion at all,” he said.

In his complaint, Bernard also suggested that Barrett’s status as a trustee of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts be reviewed.

“The Commissioner has spoken with the Chair to apprise him of the correspondence he received from Mayor Bernard,” said Matt Noyes, director of trustee and government relations at the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, in an email. “Under statute (MGL Ch 15A Section 21), the DHE does not have authority over the appointment or removal of institutional trustees.”

An MLCA spokesperson declined to comment.

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@berkshireeagle.com or

413-496-6272.

Reporter

Greta Jochem, a Report for America Corps member, joined the Eagle in 2021. Previously, she was a reporter at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. She is also a member of the investigations team.