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A SALUTE TO VETS, plus HELLER ON WAMC, SNOW POLITICS, & CEDS SHENANIGANS

BY DAN VALENTI

The Planet begins a new series today: TO VETS, WITH GRATITUDE. It will be periodic and ongoing. In it, we salute veterans. We will be soliciting JPEGS or hard copies of service commendations (plaques, certificates, honors, letter of merit, and the like) with the intention of  posting them on this site.

War can NEVER be justified. Service for others, including that of laying down your life, can NEVER be ignored. We do this as our small part to recognize the time people have spent, interrupting their lives in service to others. The honors of our first post go to Richard Carlotta of Stockbridge.

Richard fought in Korean in the early 1950s. He was a member of the Army’s 29th Infantry Regiment, based in Okinawa. His outfit saw heavy action, including being on the receiving end of a firefight that historians now call a massacre. This summer, Carlotta received this commendation from the President of South Korea. We present it here, and invite others to salute Mr. Carlotta for his service:

We apologize for not being able to reproduce this in a larger version, but the technical gremlins that occasionally play tag with The Planet decided we should not show anything larger that this. The citation by President Lee Myung-bak acknowledges the debt the South Korean nation holds to Mr. Carlotta.
It acknowledges his heroic service on behalf of a foreign county, and the president attributes South Korea’s economic success and democratic status to the sacrifice made by Carlotta and other members of the United States military during the Korean conflict.
Thus, The Planet salutes Mr. Carlotta. If you wish to shake his hand in person, you can find him most mornings in the Stockbridge Coffee House on Elm Street. He’d be glad to meet you. Meanwhile, we invite anyone in our readership to send in notices of commendations received in military service. We shall post them, as received, as part of this ongoing new series. Send information online to danvalenti@verizon.net or by mail to him at PLANET VALENTI, c/o Vets with Gratitude, PO Box 1268, Stockbridge, MA 01262.
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Heller on WAMC, an Evolving Order of Things
The Planet welcomes guest writer Glenn Heller, who posts this observation on Alan Chartock and WAMC, Northeast Public Radio. We welcome guest columns with differing views. — Dan Valenti

BY GLENN HELLER

Alan Chartock asks the question: “Wouldn’t you like a job where you could fix the hiring process so that you would be assured of keeping your job?”

Mr. Chartock no doubt asked his mirror this identical question 30 years ago — and no doubt it answered in the affirmative. This is precisely what Mr. Chartock has accomplished vis-a-vis his own lucrative position at WAMC Northeast Public Radio.

For three decades, Mr. Chartock has hand-picked those who would serve on his loyal board of trustees, these same obliging folks who then vote annually to retain Mr. Chartock as the organization’s president and CEO. But that’s not all.

A salary committee composed of these same obliging appointees then grants Mr. Chartock boku salary increases every year.

CHARTOCK: $200Gs, plus perks, plus pension, plus a roll-over board.

Mr. Chartock’s personal take from the Albany-based, tax-exempt NPR affiliate — which begs thrice-annually to listeners to please give, give, give to the ‘not-for-profit’ charity — is around $200,000 annually. That figure doesn’t include the five-figures worth of annual executive fringe benefits, aka ‘perks,’ that WAMC’s trustees lavishly provide their out-of-state residing boss.(Mr. Chartock lives in neighboring Gt. Barrington, Mass.).

This is just from the WAMC gig.

These figures do not include the  pension New York State already pays Mr. Chartock for his years teaching at SUNY, where lest we forget he simultaneously ‘moonlighted’ at WAMC in blatant violation of SUNY’s strict employment policy that specifically forbids such full-time off-campus employment.

In exchange for all this, these same compliant, hand-picked WAMC trustees conveniently have looked the other way when it  comes to WAMC’s choice of auditors (it’s the same firm for the past 30 years), and also when [allegedly] not noticing the various misappropriations of station funds, and also when [allegedly] ignoring WAMC’s continual failure to file accurate Form 990 reports annually with IRS.

So when Alan Chartock asks his readers the leading question, “Wouldn’t you like a job where you could fix the hiring process so that you would be assured of keeping -your job?”,  you can bet he already knows from long experience whereof he speaks.

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The Economics and Politics of Snow White & Krol

It snowed yesterday. We received a few inches of light, fluffy angel dust, and, again, the supermarkets reported panic buying. The weathermen — oops, excuse me, they are meteorologists and most of them are pretty females — love it when they have a “weather event,” and the media are in cahoots with the ski areas to play up even the mildest of snow with an Armageddon-like doom.

There's money and politics in each beautiful flake.

When I did “The Dan Valenti Show” on WBRK from 1992 to 2006, the station had “The WBRS Storm Center.” Each fall, long before the first flake fell, the sales team would sell the Storm Center to local sponsors. The package included live commercials coming in and going out, whenever the weather caused the station to activate the Storm Center. Naturally, the more the station could activate the Storm Center, the better it was for everybody but the listener.

Doppler Radar would pick up three snowflakes hovering over the Lake Michigan, possibly heading east, and WBRK would activate the Storm Center. It came on with a musical theme appropriate for the end of the world. Thus, weather is money, and the more you can panic people into acting irrationally when the weather changes, the more money you can make.

Twenty years ago, the idea that of a 24/7/365 Weather Channel would be laughable. Today, viewers stare mindlessly for hours at a time to watch the same, repeating weather reports that suggest trouble ahead. Even if we are enjoying clear sailing with the sun showing in January, someone like Paul Caiano or Steve Capparizzo will be telling you: “We’ve got our eye on a system now could (COULD, mind you) head out way, if conditions break the right way.” In other words, if you pay attention to weather reports, you will never find peace.

There’s also good politics in weather, as we saw in the latest large storm. The city of Pittsfield declared a state of emergency. That wasn’t enough, though. John Krol and Peter White had to break into their Facebook pages and tell us of the emergency. They did so with pretty mugs shots and their name splattered all over, as if it were a placard placed on a door handle during a campaign.

CEDS: It Ain’t Going Away Because The Planet Won’t Let It

Meanwhile, neither Krol nor White, nor any other city councilor for that matter, has said a word about the disastrous failure authored by the city of Pittsfield in the ongoing Community Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) process. Qualifying for federal assistance under the CEDS program is what brought more than $3 billion in investment into western South Carolina by such private sector companies as Apple, Microsoft, Google, and WiPro, all in the last three years.

Pittsfield, meanwhile, hasn’t had a successful CEDS since 2001, when Sara Hathway was mayor. Why? Who will answer? Who, that is, beside The Planet. Why has the region put up with a decade of abysmal failure?

Berkshire Regional Planning Commission director Nat Karns was quick to point out on this site that there was no CEDS process in 2009, as if that was a badge of honor. We reported that were was a 2009 effort. Karns was incorrect. The Planet was right.

We quote from the CEDS committee meeting minutes from Nov. 30, 2010: “In 2009, BPRC approached the EDA [Economic Development Administration] with the intent of securing funding for an update to the 2001 CEDS. Due to some logistical and approval issues, this CEDS process hasn’t been able to begin until now.”

This is an interesting statement. It proves The Planet was correct in referring to a 2009 CEDS process. Moreover, it appears Karns covered up in his reply to this site. The statement also suggests that rather than begin afresh, the BRPC tried to dust off the 2001 CEDS. Why? Why go back to a plan that was nearly 10 years old? Wouldn’t that guarantee immediate dismissal? And what, exactly, does “some logistical and approval issues” mean?

We invite Mr. Karns to explain that, for if the region is to go forward with a coherent CEDS plan for 2011, it must know, precisely, the issues in the past that have prevented success.

One thing that will be different this time around is monitoring. Due to the coverage of this website, many people are now aware of the ongoing 2011 CEDS effort. The next meeting is Tuesday, Jan. 11, at 12:30 p.m., at the BRPC offices at 1 Fenn Street (same as 100 North St.), Room 201. The meetings are covered by the Open Meeting laws and are open to the public.

Many eyes will be following the 2011 CEDS. This time, failure will be called on the carpet, and head, we hope, will roll.

19 Responses to “A SALUTE TO VETS, plus HELLER ON WAMC, SNOW POLITICS, & CEDS SHENANIGANS”

  1. Jonathan Melle
    January 8, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

    I am a disabled Veteran. I served Honorably in the U.S. Army. I believe Veterans should be given quality services to end homelessness, and provide healthcare.
    I like Alan Chartock. He does a good job covering the news for public radio. He stands up for Human Rights, too.
    Pete White and John Krol are the future of Pittsfield. So what if they are ambitious.
    Nat Karns is a political hack. I heard he invites Mayor Jimmy Ruberto to his office to go over resumes. Nat Karns has a record of failure for Berkshire County with job & population loss.

    • Tim
      January 9, 2011 at 9:39 am #

      Just wondering what type of disability do you have? Also why don’t you have a job?

  2. Ambition
    January 8, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    Not that I agree with Valenti’s premise regarding the Facebook pages of Krol & White, but If you were to I’d have side with Melle on this one.

    Do you want lazy people running government? What’s wrong with ambition?

    I have seen Valenti on Good Morning Pittsfield promoting his website in a very blatant fashion. Is that not ambition?

    • danvalenti
      January 10, 2011 at 11:07 am #

      AMBITION: Nothing wrong with ambition, but why promote insignificant events (it’s snowing so be careful) instead of commenting on substantial issues (the city’s failure on economic development)? That’s the question I am raising. Thanks for the post.

  3. Jamie
    January 8, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

    Great show for the veterans, Dan. On the ceds, you have uncovered a major previously undiscussed element in the citys persistent failures to create good jobs. I hope more politicians pay attention to this.

    • danvalenti
      January 10, 2011 at 11:08 am #

      JAMIE
      Thanks. We don’t have to support wars to acknowledged those who fight wars.

  4. Dee
    January 8, 2011 at 10:00 pm #

    In light of the latest senseless shootings (this time in Arizona and in the name of politics) could we all just have a moment of silence, and say a prayer for those who have lost their lives and those who continue to fight for their lives.

    Perhaps a day of rest from politics would be in order. There are too many factions creating too much diversion causing unstable people to be more paranoid and unstable than they normally would be. Rambling, I know, but that is how my mind is working tonight. To think of a 9 year-old little girl killed because a neighbor thought she might be interested in seeing a politican speak. It’s wrong, just wrong.

    • Ambition
      January 9, 2011 at 6:43 am #

      Prayer?

      You do know that there is no such thing as some mystical being floating in the clouds right?

      It would benefit all of us if you continued that moment of silence until further notice.

      • Dee
        January 9, 2011 at 5:24 pm #

        My dear, I did not say to whom one should offer a prayer, but that the sentiment would be nice. For all I care, you can offer a prayer to the tree growing outside your window. The feeling would be the same; that you are thinking of another rather than yourself.

        As far as continuing that moment of silence, for these unfortunate individuals, yes. For you, no. I will continue to speak/write/comment as I see fit. But, thank you for your remarks.

        • Ambition
          January 11, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

          Yup, pray to a tree.

          That’ll get you as far as praying to whatever piece of science fiction you prefer.

          • Dee
            January 12, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

            Mr. Valenti makes an excellent point. Reglion versus spirituality. I am not a religious person. In fact were I to walk into a church, it would probably crumble around my sinful self. I am however enlightened enough to believe there is something greater than our mere selves. Perhaps I lack your obvious narcassim in thinking that you (man) are the only possible being. Perhaps there is nothing greater, but perhaps there is.

            As far as your argument that all life woes have been in the name of religion – you’re half right. All life woes have been perpetuated by religious zealots. To say all religion is bad because of what it makes some men do, is again very narrow-minded. Look at what is done in the name of money. Does that make all money bad? Or just those whose pursuit of money takes them to the extreme.

      • GMHeller
        January 12, 2011 at 3:06 am #

        Ah, the soothing words of a fashionable Berkshire atheist.
        But for the actions of an atheist in Arizona, people around the country would not now be in mourning.
        Not only is shooter/murderer Jared Loughner reported to be an ardent atheist, but for his private worship, he felt compelled to build a shrine incorporating as its central component a skull.

        • Ambition
          January 12, 2011 at 5:13 am #

          Really? I should accept the premise that atheism is to blame for the death of a half dozen people? Fine let’s keep score.

          Religion is to blame for most wars, the Crusades, the Inquisition, 9/11, arranged marriages to minors, blowing up girls’ schools, the suppression of women and homosexuals, fatwas, ethnic cleansing, honor rape, human sacrifice, burning witches, suicide bombings, condoning slavery, and the systematic rape of children…

          It’s incredible. A country founded, in part, on religious tolerance can nary find a fan of God fearing person who is tolerant of the freedom to not believe in your science fiction.

          atheists could pray to Darth Vader and you’d be more respectful of that decision

          • danvalenti
            January 12, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

            @ AMBITION
            You have made some excellent points. I would only point out a difference which I’m sure you realize: “religion” versus spirituality. There’s also an interesting difference between an “atheist” and an “a-theist,” as Christopher Hitchens points out. The first has as much belief in the non-existence of God as does a believer in His existence. The second means “without God.” The prefix “a” is used here as it is used, for example, in “typical” versus “atypical.”
            Appreciate your alternate point of view.

  5. TRUST ME
    January 8, 2011 at 10:16 pm #

    We honor Dee’s request for silence and prayer. God be with all of us.

  6. Wally
    January 10, 2011 at 7:32 am #

    @Ambition: My, but aren’t we the oh-so-sophisitcated atheist. Your post reveals you to be an ignoramus. Nothing more, and a lot less. You apparently think God is “mystical being floating in the clouds.” What howling naivte. GRow up, you moron. Find out what “God” actually is. If you do, you will see that Dee’s call for “prayer” and a gesture of silent respect is actually a practical good that can be done in a sutuation like this. And Ambition: Suck a wet one, will ya. I send this in love as your brother.

    • Ambition
      January 10, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

      God, and religion in general, is a crutch for the weak-minded. Not necessarily uneducated, but scared, lonely, confused, etc.

      Don’t be ashamed of it. Some of the most prominent folks in history have been to scared to accept that once you die, you simply fill a hole in the ground.

      But religion is good for a few things, well, other than most wars, the Crusades, the Inquisition, 9/11, arranged marriages to minors, blowing up girls’ schools, the suppression of women and homosexuals, fatwas, ethnic cleansing, honor rape, human sacrifice, burning witches, suicide bombings, condoning slavery, and the systematic rape of children…

      But those are just a few little things I have a problem with. Maybe it’s just me being naive:)

  7. GMHeller
    January 12, 2011 at 4:03 am #

    In Re: Alan Chartock and his compliant WAMC board of trustees:
    To that list of corporate governance horrors about which Mr. Chartock’s hand-picked trustees have conveniently looked the other way over the course of thirty years, please add this:
    the WAMC board’s approval of the expenditure of $20,000 in station funds to pay-off a long-time WAMC employee who alleged she was being sexually harassed by Mr. Chartock.

  8. GMHeller
    January 12, 2011 at 8:20 pm #

    On a Topix thread regarding this entire matter, the following set of responsive comments were posted by poster ‘Smeller’.
    My response follows immediately after each.
    ———————————-
    [QUOTE who="Smeller"]Didn’t the same thing happen to Bill O’Reilly?[/QUOTE]

    Mr. Smeller, are you claiming that Bill O’Reilly used tax-exempt listener contributions to pay off a sex harassment claim.
    Gee, from what WAMC’s listeners have always been told, pledged contributions to the station WAMC are intended to pay for running the station — not paying off a victim of the CEO’s sexual fantasies.
    ——————————-

    [QUOTE who="Smeller"]
    Yes, Bill O’Reilly payed off a woman accusing him of sexual harassment to keep her quiet. Yes, the money to pay O’Reilly comes out of my pocket in many ways, through both public and private means.[/QUOTE]

    Mr. Smeller, assuming arguendo (for argument’s sake) that Bill O’Reilly paid a cash settlement to someone to whom he gave unwanted attentions, how would a single dime of that settlement have ever come from ANY public source?
    Further, it was O’Reilly using HIS own after-tax money out of HIS own pocket to pay-off a settlement (on which sum he would already have paid income taxes).
    Whereas, in the case of WAMC’s trustees buying-off the silence of Alan Chartock’s sex harassment victim, 100% of those dollars paid ($20,000) to the young lady came tax-exempt from WAMC’s listeners (and U.S. taxpayers) who subsidize 100% of WAMC’s tax-exempt operation.
    Further, Chartock himself was NEVER out a single penny of his own money for his indescretions with a WAMC employee.
    In other words, none of WAMC’s settlement with the young woman came out of Chartock’s own personal pocket, and the dollars used were tax-exempt to WAMC — an additional savings for Chartock in that Chartock did not need to use his own after-tax earnings to pay-off the settlement.
    WAMC’s listeners (and federal taxpayers) were totally on the hook for buying-off Chartock’s victim — and WAMC’s board obediently signed off on the arrangement looking totally the other way on whether the transaction passed the corporate governance smell test.