Article

ITEMS FROM TOP RIGHT DESK DRAWER, & OTHER AMUSEMENTS

BY DAN VALENTI

We will be in and out all day with little, bite-sized nuggets about the size of rhetorical shredded wheat, humbly offered for your amusement, enlightenment, and edification. And don’t bother telling us that our prose IS rhetorical shredded wheat. We know. Jut make sure you notice the delicious cinnamon in between the words.

ITEM — WARD IN ORBIT

The inaugural presentation of the coveted Orbit Award goes to MIKE WARD.

THE PLANET salutes Ward 4 councilor Mike Ward, who wins this week’s coveted Orbit Award. The Orbit Award will be given to the public official who demonstrates responsibility on the job, the way the NFL awards Player of the Week awards to its stellar performers (soon to be called the Tom Brady Award for the year the All-Universe QB is having for the New England Patriots). Ward wins for arguing against the hotel and meals tax. This horrendous tax puts the quadruple whammy on many small businesses and eateries: first, business is taxed at a much higher rate than anyone for the privilege of operating in Pittsfield; second, that rate just went up another 5 percent; third, commercial property is assessed higher than residential, and fourth, on top of all this, because Pittsfield refuses to make the necessary tough choices on spending, they dump a brand new tax burden on stuggling moms and pops. Mike Ward made a cogent argument on the right side of this issue. He, along with John Krol, also argued for a tiny break in the commercial rate. For this, Ward gets a coveted Orbit.

ITEM — LOTHROP IN A DUNGHEAP

THE PLANET also institutes with this posting the redolent Dungheap Award, given to that public official most in need of disappearing right quick. Who, oh who can it be?

COME ON DOWN, JONATHAN LOTHROP!

The Dungheap Award, shown in this steaming pile of crapola, goes to JONATHAN LOTHROP

For whatever reason, Lothrop at some point decided to take his considerable talents and excrete them into the outhouse. It turned him from an honorable advocate into an ignominious toady for the Special Interests, the Establishment, the Gay Mafia, the Pittsfield 100 … call them what you will. He sold out. He’s a political fake. His water boy act has become an embarrassment. THE PLANET predicts that when it comes time to jump on his re-election bicycle, he’s going to find the seat missing.

Ooch! Ouch! Open the windows and let some fresh air inside. Whew!

ITEM: WHO’S NEXT FOR PEDA

THE PLANET broke the big story two days ago that PEDA interim head William Hines will step down and into retirement on April 29, 2011. The Boring Broadsheet was found sleeping in NevahLand Again (that’s the Berkshire Eagle, for those who don’t know). For PEDA, the question becomes: Who’s next? This raises a vital issue that ties directly in with the prospects for PEDA and therefore to the economic fortuned of the city of Pittsfield?

What will be the criteria in selecting the next PEDA head? Will it be a patronage job to reward one of the “usual and familiar” suspects that sleep in the same incestuous political bed that is the city of Pittsfield, or will the PEDA board demonstrate that it — like, you know, uh — actually wants the 52-acre industrial park to succeed? They will show this by bringing in a QUALIFIED PERSON who will not be required to pass a political litmus test or take a loyalty oath to mediocrity.

In selecting a new PEDA boss, we should have a defined and definable list of expectations and a specified skill set. Look, if you want to hire someone to make you chicken soup, you can say: “Hey, make me some chicken soup.” That person can then make any of the infinite varieties, and you will have no complaint if you don’t like it, even if they poured it out of Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup can. However, if you specify that your chicken soup must be made with fresh stock, half a cup of carrots, 1/4 cup of onions, a pinch of Mrs. Dash, and only the white meat of free-range chickens, then you will get the soup and the results you want.

That’s how Pittsfield must hire the next PEDA boss. First define a good recipe, then go out and find the man or woman who fits the job. And no, it can’t be MCLA Loo Lah Mary Grant. She took her responsibilities on the PEDA board so seriously that she missed 99 and 44/100% of all the meetings. Why isn’t she the one buried in Grant’s tomb?

ITEM: ‘THE JULIAN ASSANGE OF BERKSHIRE COUNTY’

JULIAN ASSANGE of Wikileaks

In an interesting “discussion”held in beautiful downtown Pittsfield recently, a couple of downtown apologists (“Everything is Hunky Dory and There Isn’t a Problem and Look at the Hordes of Foot Traffic and All the Shopping and the Big Front Page Stories The Berkshire Eagle Runs”) disagreed with my recipes for a downtown turn-around. Fair enough.

Basically, they wouldn’t admit that a turnaround was even needed. To hear them, the turnaround was made years ago. Now, they say, we’re in the throes of “a renaissance.” Yes: they still serve you that bullshit and expect you to say it’s filet mignon.

Of course, that’s the attitude that prevents downtown from true success. The people who truly care about it are marginalized because they dare point out that it’s NOT a renaissance but that it COULD BE if the city would taken the right actions.

DAN VALENTI: Widely separated from JULIAN ASSANGE at birth. Trust us.

Anyway, the he-she tag team from a taxpayer funded-supported booster group gave me the good cop-bad cop approach. The good cop recognized THE PLANET’S decades long financial commitment to downtown Pittsfield. The bad cop told me, with all the venom (s)he could muster, “You are the Julian Assange of Berkshire County.” Assange is the head of Wikileaks.

She meant it as an insult. I laughed uproariously and thanked him/her for the compliment. Julian Assange is honorable, a man of principle, and he stands for freedom of thought, freedom of information, and transparency in public life. I will gladly be compared to this freedom fighter, who is only the most important person in the media today. If I were Obama, I would give Assange the Congressional Medal of Honor.

ITEM: IF PUBLIC OFFICIALS WERE FOOD, WHAT WOULD; THEY BE?

Jimmy Ruberto — A Snickers bar; John Barrett — Hot dog with sauerkraut; Deanna Ruffer — BB Bats, banana; Chris Yon — a Mary Jane; Peter White — Mallo Cup; Paul Capitanio — Jack Daniels; Mike Ward — a bottle of Gatorade; Jonathan Lothrop — Coke; John Krol — Cracker Jack; Joe Nichols — Habanero pepper; Melissa Mazzeo — Tootsie Pop; Gerry Lee — Geritol; Kevin Sherman — Mars bar; Peter Marchetti — Chunky; Bruce Collingwood — Necco Wafers; Linda Tyer — Red Hot Dollars; Cliffy Nilan — Mr. Goodbar; Jake Eberwein — M&Ms; Carmen Massimiano — Good ‘n Fruity; Kathleen Amuso, Good ‘n Plenty; Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Lick ‘em Aid; Paula King — Marzipan; Remo Del Gallo — Doan’s Pills; Mike Wynn — Crunch bar.

BELLY UP TO THE BAR, BOYS

Rees-Larkin Developers, the private-sector development company, has paid attention to how it works in Pittsfield. Rees-Larkin wants to convert the for H.H. Rice Silk Mill in Morningside into condos. They have their hands out, naturally. They’re looking for at least $806,000 of taxpayer money. That’s not counting the millions in tax credits the project is seeking.

The developers, are you sitting down for this, claim the project will create jobs and add to the housing stock. Whao! Stop the presses. Let’s just ask one simple question, our economic system in America still being capitalism and all, at least nominally: Do the developers think the project will make of lose money?

Oink oink: Private developers seek public money. As a taxpayer, we're sure your shocked, shocked.

If they think it will make money, then why are they hitting Pittsfield, state, and national taxpayers to pay for acquiring the property, putting in sidewalks, water and sewer hookups, and knitting new curtains for the windows? Isn’t that how capitalism works? They have what they think is a good idea. They give it to the market. And the market votes with its dollars?

THE PLANET is guessing (it’s JUST A GUESS) that they are worried the project will lose money. Could that be why they want you, the taxpayer, to be their source of venture capital. Do they want YOU to take the risk while the company directors draw fat salaries while the project is flapping its gums in the Pittsfield wind? It’s just a question?

When the Berkshire Eagle covered  this story, did they dare ask that question or pursue that angle? That’s just another questions.

Repeat after me: QUESTIONS ARE GOOD, QUESTIONS ARE GOOD, QUESTIONS ARE GOOD. Many in the city have been brainwashed into thinking that questions are bad and that they mean you are negative. Well, let me explain something to the Powers That Be: You got another thing coming. THE PLANET is going to change the way public debate is handled in Shire City.

20 Responses to “ITEMS FROM TOP RIGHT DESK DRAWER, & OTHER AMUSEMENTS”

  1. Jonathan Melle
    December 17, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

    What do you think of the loss of population in Pittsfield & Berkshire County in the most recent census count? I think the attrition rate was nearly 5 percent loss of population. Could it be due to all of the tax hikes you write about? I guess downtown Pittsfield’s theaters and movies with new restaurants, bars, and stores is not attracting any new growth after all.

    • danvalenti
      December 17, 2010 at 7:32 pm #

      The loss of population provides hard data to the proposition that Pittsfield as an entity continues its slow (but not inexorable) journey to irrelevance. If you measure new growth by the amount of private venture capital invested in the city, the results are appalling. If you factor in taxpayer dollars, it provides a false indication of “growth.” Whenever public dollars prop up what is ostensible a private economy, the result, you have economic illness.

  2. PITTSFIELD BELIEVER
    December 17, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

    To Dan VAlenti (assuming he gets this) You are the Mr. Assange of berkshire county, and believe, me that’s no complement. This means a man who is opportunistic, full of himself, pompus, calculating, and nasty. Assange is a man without a country you are a man without a city. we who love pittsfield. you moved your offices to south county in the land of snobbery. You don’t work here no more. You are unfair to good public servants like Jonathan Lothrop and Gerry Lee who have served for so long and done such a good job. You must be jealous of him. How does it feel to be a household name with all the households putting you down?

    • danvalenti
      December 17, 2010 at 7:29 pm #

      It feels great!

  3. M Wood
    December 17, 2010 at 5:17 pm #

    In the food catagory we have our first nominee for Ding Dong

  4. Josh
    December 17, 2010 at 6:03 pm #

    Dan,

    The PEDA organization has been a disappointment since day one. We have yet to have been delivered all of the grandiose promises from the 1998 Consent Decree, and it’s such a shame that 52 acres of industrial space in the heart of the city still have to remain fallow. Though Terry Kinnas has stepped forward to open up the meetings to the public by volunteering to tape them (a welcome effort), the organization still gives off clandestine vibes to the public. Industry is at a stand-still in Pittsfield, and the next decade will be telling in where our future will take us.

    To move the project truly forward, Pittsfield must look outside city boundaries for a person who has experience in redeveloping brownfields. While the past two directors have unquestionable experience in their fields (engineering and business respectively), they can hardly claim that they’ve been successful in the reclamation of abandoned facilities. Plus, they can hardly claim that their approach to development is not influenced by political factors. We need a true outsider to complete the next phase of this seemingly endless project.

    I believe the PEDA site has strong potential if the right industries are targeted. Pittsfield needs to play to its’ advantages, in that we are known for our strengths in plastics and defense. The site I’ve longed to see PEDA attempt to delve into the world of Nanotechnology, as the Albany/Troy area continues to dip their toes into. I’ve hoped that PEDA could take advantage of the boost that the town of Malta will receive with their microchip plant. So far, no dice.

    The development of the site holds all the keys to the future of the city. Business which locate (or relocate) to the property can bring some of the jobs back the city has lost with the departures of companies like GE and KB Toys. Families will move to Pittsfield and repopulate the city. The children of these families will help solve the “brain drain” that our school system currently faces and improve our test scores. And furthermore, we could have a city which doesn’t have to raise property taxes every year to balance the budget.

    We have pinned many of our future hopes on the development of this site for the past decade plus. Thus far, it’s been a colossal disappointment. One can only hope we wisen up and find the right person to help PEDA take the next step forward.

    Let’s just hope the person chosen isn’t on the “Top 100″ list.

    • danvalenti
      December 17, 2010 at 7:28 pm #

      JOSH
      You are correct in your assessment of the potential of PEDA. Sadly, potential is a curse if it is never utilized. The first two PEDA directors were unable to love the site forward. The selection of the next head of operations will be crucial. If it is one of the “Pittsfield 100,” forget it. If there is a nationwide search for the best person, it’s the city best shot at economic viability.

    • pjmh
      December 18, 2010 at 3:13 pm #

      PEDA site + Due Diligence by a potential tenant = contamination. Bottom line, it’s not happening.

  5. Stone Hingee
    December 17, 2010 at 6:27 pm #

    DEAR Pittsfield “Believer”
    The only thing you believe in are your own phony press clippings. Valenti has the journalistic integrity to find and publish stories that you guys want to keep covered up. I also know you are false in saying that Valenti no longer works in Pittsfield. He’s on a faculty at BCC, you dolt. BCC is in Pittsfield. Glad he’s gotten under your skin. You rock, Dan!

  6. Keeler
    December 17, 2010 at 8:11 pm #

    Love the planet. Dan keep up the good work. This is now my familys cant miss site.

  7. DJ
    December 17, 2010 at 11:34 pm #

    As one of your loyal readers, I saw Angelo C. Stracuzzi having a sit down meal with some of the players, might the disgraced Stracuzzi be belling up to the Ruberto, good ole boys trough?
    Jimmy was recently defending him at the ITAM, telling one patron, “You can’t talk that way about him, he’s a good man and my friend.” The patrons response, “STFU, no one cares what you think.”

  8. rick
    December 18, 2010 at 7:34 am #

    i think that finally the pro and con debate is going on here. people whos mind sets were always closed are now opening up.its no longer.. their going to do what they want so i wont speak up. people on both sides are commenting on the issues.the berk.eagle is 3days behind the news. dan,so far your breaking news and opinions have panned out, much to the dismay of the roberto admin. with the exudos continuing each year it shines a light on robertos campaing promises on jobs. i believe they were in the 30k range. peda, peddered out. robertos on the defense,complaining about the lies comming from blogs(must be you). keep up the good work.!!!!

  9. PITTSFIELD BELIEVER
    December 18, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

    Valenti is a grandstander who will print anything to get a following. He’s not a journalist. He’s in show biz. He would do an expose on his grandmother if it got him a story. He’s having no effect at all.

    • M Wood
      December 18, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

      There is an effect you put in your 2 cents worth didnt you? How many people have seen or now at least heard of the site and are looking at it? More than you care to admit I would bet.

      • Captain Obvious
        December 18, 2010 at 1:09 pm #

        Yeah, but they’re all laughing at Valenti. He’s a joke, not a journalist.

        A lot of people follow Chelsea Handler, but nobody takes her (or Valenti) seriously.

        • M Wood
          December 18, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

          Captain, please define journalist for me? Is it one who publish’s and prints the press release as handed out with out question? Talk about making up news I just drove down North Street in front of the hardware store 3 of the 5 parking spots avail. 7 cars in the side lot further down 2 open in front of the lantern and so on and so on. Is there a web cam on north so we can see all the activity? if so please post the URL

          • Keeler
            December 18, 2010 at 4:18 pm #

            Capt oblivious has the right psedonim, anyway, oblivious. Valenti is the best journalist in the area hands down and thats what got you rattled!! and were loving it!!

    • Josh
      December 18, 2010 at 1:21 pm #

      If it’s true that he has no effect, how did Mark Miller nearly beat Chris Speranzo in the November election? Normally a Green Party candidate wouldn’t stand a chance in this true blue area.

    • Jim Gleason
      December 18, 2010 at 3:28 pm #

      It seems you are a believer of all the horsesh!t the ruberto administration spews through people like Lothrop and Lee and Krol, sycophants all. If you believe this crap, you are the one who isn’t credible.

  10. Keeler
    December 18, 2010 at 4:23 pm #

    Lets see what kind of effect this site has in the 2011 election. Capt oblivious, you are the joke. Its funny to see a man choke on his own idiotic words. Dan is for the people and has proven it a milliontimes.