For now, a judge has spoken, a town is relieved and a plaintiff remains angry.
Such is life in Pittsfield, where Joe McCoy – a sociable man with long, wispy blonde hair, a sunburnt forehead and no filter to say what he’s thinking – exhibited a 52-foot tractor-trailer at his home in 2016 with “ATOUT!” Painted on the side.
His $ 10 million lawsuit, filed last year, accused his hometown of trampling on its constitutional rights and discriminatory behavior. He said Trump’s enemies pushed for a law to be enforced that required him to remove his “storage facility.” He said he was targeted, that others in town had storage units the same size as his. Why single him out?
Earlier this month, however, U.S. District Judge Joseph Laplante found McCoy’s claims to be baseless. He said McCoy had presented no evidence to suggest that the selection board had treated him unfairly, due to his political stance.
Laplante also quashed the class of one, equal protection request. Here, McCoy said officials looked the other way when it came to breaches of ordinances at Pittsfield. Not with him, however.
The judge also dismissed this, writing McCoy “failed to meet its production and persuasion burden to identify similarly-predominant landowners, demonstrated that the City treated him differently from these so-called comparators, or proved that the City had no rational basis for its enforcement of the order against it.
Reached by phone, McCoy declined to comment, saying he preferred to speak to his lawyer, Robert Fojo first. Fojo was not available for comment on Wednesday, but he said he hopes to ask Laplante to reconsider his decision. If that fails, expect a call.
The long-simmering feud brings us back to the line that divided the nation during the Trump administration and continues to do so today.
Five years ago, I met McCoy and his wife, Linda McCoy, shortly after the buzz spread around the city. That of the noisy and obstinate semi-trailer.
They were both on disability and running their own garage sale-like business. They bought items, some found in old storage lockers, and resold them for a profit.
Court documents showed that the trailer first appeared on a large grassy area near the McCoy House, visible above a ridge on a quiet country road, in 2014. It contained tools and equipment. other equipment for maintenance.
City law says something that this size can be used for storage and nothing else. A permit is required. It expires after one year, at which time, presumably, the unit would be moved to another location, out of sight of the neighborhood.
The “Trump! Sign, painted by Joe’s son, appeared a few months before the 2016 election. By that time, officials had already warned McCoy of the requirements for his retention, focusing on the permit and window. a year.
McCoy had received more than one extension. A complaint, filed with the board of directors after McCoy’s choice of president was announced, drew attention, easing the process and suggesting to McCoy that the move was political in nature.
City officials denied this. The judge supported them.
“McCoy,” Laplante wrote, “offers no evidence that the City had no rational basis for ordering him to remove the trailer in 2018. By that time, the City had authorized McCoy to keep the trailer. on his property without authorization from early 2014 to September 2015, granted McCoy an extension of his original storage container license and granted him a new license. The trailer remained on McCoy’s property for more than four years , while the ordinance only allowed storage containers for 12 months.
McCoy relented. At least he thought he had. His son painted on ‘Trump!’ replacing the name with hot air balloons and an American flag. But when McCoy asked for another extension, in 2018, this time the board said no.
“In June 2018,” Judge Laplante wrote in his ruling this month, “the board of directors was at the end of its patience and refused to allow him to keep the trailer on his property. It was a completely rational decision.
McCoy sold the trailer. Then, in 2020, he filed his $ 10 million lawsuit. Fojo then told me that the Pittsfield board of directors at the time – Carl Anderson, Larry Konopka and President Jim Allard – “repeatedly harassed Mr. McCoy about his trailer; after being informed and convinced, they took no action to put similar pressure on other landowners in the city who owned similar trailers.
The judge disagreed. And while McCoy declined to comment on Wednesday, he had a lot to say, making it clear he would be heard again.
It’s just a matter of time.