Bernard says Barrett threatened him, calls for ethics investigation
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – Mayor Thomas Bernard is asking the House Ethics Committee to investigate what he called a threatening phone call from State Representative John Barrett III last week.
In an email sent to Speaker of the House Ronald Mariano Barrett, state officials and members of the press on Monday, Bernard wrote that Barrett called him on November 9 about his Mohawk decision. Theater.
“I saw your statement that my presentation of an update and strategy regarding the divestiture of the Mohawk Theater to North Adams City Council on Tuesday, November 9, 2021 would be ‘bad’ for my livelihood, my professional situation and my family as essential, if not specific, threat from you towards me, “he wrote.
Bernard contextualized the menacing nature of the call by referring to an incident in 2008, when former Gov. Mitt Romney’s assistant Eric Fehrnstrom accused Barrett of pushing him after an appearance on a TV show. information, and Barrett’s own admission at a public event in July of his stubbornly harassing the Governor to release funding for Greylock Glen.
“For the benefit of the parts copied here, I offer the following examples to support this perception and I think I did not misunderstand, and I did not overreact, to your statements over the telephone during the meeting. ‘The aforementioned mishap phone call of November 9, 2021 between us, “he wrote to Barrett.
The crux of the phone call was Bernard’s decision to accept the sole offer for the reuse of the Mohawk Theater, a landmark on Main Street primarily for its nearly century-old marquee. The cinema closed in 1991 after a short-lived attempt to use it as an auditorium and was gutted after the city took it over in 1996.
There have been a number of proposals and studies made over the years to renovate the building, and some work to stabilize the structure, but it has been mostly unoccupied for 30 years. Two years ago, the city council agreed to declare it surplus property. The first round of offers earlier this year drew two offers, neither of which were recommended.
The second request for proposals resulted in an offer from the owner of the Dowlin block adjacent to the theater. The owner plans to transform the empty Main Street building into a hotel and use the theater space for a variety of events.
Barrett, mayor of North Adams for 26 years before his defeat in 2009, objected to Bernard’s permission to negotiate a sale in 2019, saying there had been “a clear plan” for the defunct cinema when he left office in 2010 and that a lot of money had been spent on the building.
The city council had asked for an act restriction on the marquee to maintain it but had decided not to oblige the mayor to bring back any offer in front of it. But it had been based on the assumption that the property would sell for below its value, requiring council approval. However, the town lawyer determined it was not necessary and Bernard simply informed council of what was going on.
Bernard is completing his second term and will be replaced by a new mayor. On Monday, during a public interview for the post of interim general manager at Williamstown, he hinted at a difficult relationship with his predecessor.
“It was a hindrance in my work at North Adams,” he told the Williamstown Select Board. “I don’t have a strong relationship with our current representative from Berkshire First District. And that has been a challenge and an issue and has hindered progress at North Adams.”