Article

ELECTION YEAR CRAZIES, PCBs REAR UGLY HEAD ON PROPOSED DPW SITE, and GOAL LINE FAILURE DOOMS JETS

BY DAN VALENTI

The political fallout from Jimmy Ruberto’s decision not to run for mayor in 2011 won’t be felt until later this year, in May, when nomination papers become available. These papers are as every bit mind altering as substance within the papers used to roll and smoke mother nature.

The euphoria produces in some a case of political munchies characterized by desire for office but not an appetite. In short, it will bring out the nut jobs, the wannabes, the fringes, and those who want to get their name in news coverage for reasons other than knocking off a liquor store. With the incumbent having voluntarily donned the Lame Duck costume, the marginal, the light weights, and the rest with no shot of winning will have added reason to take out nomination papers — as if they, and We the Electorate, needed it.

Poppapalooza Primary

The result will be another poppapalooza primary, with too many “candidates” and not enough time. Two winnas and lots of loozas. The Planet predicts at least 10 candidates on the ballot in September. That was the number who ran the last time an incumbent mayor (Gerry Doyle) decided to pull out (2001). Voters whittled the 10-pack that year to Sara Hathaway and Jimmy Ruberto. Before that happened, we heard about the possibility of creating jobs in Pittsfield by manufacturing flying cars.

Don’t be fooled by imposters. Two things, and two things only, will mark a serious candidate: (1) money and (2) organization.

(1) is by the most important indicator. Ruberto has set the standard for election spending in one losing bid and four winning ones, shelling out between $60,000 and $100,000.

It won’t take nearly that much for the right candidate but we would think more than $10 grand. The Planet sets that as the bar for admission into the circle of “serious” candidates. Hopefuls should be willing either to put up that much as ante to get in the game or be able to raise that much for the sake of legitimacy.

Cry to us about how politics shouldn’t be money. We don’t care, because that’s how it is. You want to win? Then pony up.

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‘Education Mayor’ Eluded Ruberto

Ruberto will leave office having failed to secure what was to him an important measure of his tenure. He wanted to be known as the Education Mayor. He wanted to leave behind a superschool in place of the PHS-Taconic bicampus situation we have today. That won’t happen.

Ruberto said and did all the “right” things for a politician to be perceived as pro-education. In Massachusetts, it means a politician who was afraid to get tough with the schools. The politician’s answer, as we’ve seen from Gov. Patrick’s proposed $140 million increase in state educational spending, is to throw money at the schools and use that as their commitment to the schools. The problem with state public schools, including Pittsfield’s, isn’t lack of money. The Pittsfield schools eat up more than half of a $120 million budget. Taxpayers have precious little to show for footing the bill.

The irony is that schools could be improved vastly by reform that costs little in money but much in determination and political will. For example, it doesn’t cost $$ to address the out-of-control students who are now, sadly, the norm, particularly in middle school. Adults — administrators, teachers, public offcials, parents, and citizens — need to stop being “friends” with the kids, worry less about such bullspit as the kids’ “self esteem,” and give them the structure and discipline they need and secretly crave.

The Planet will not bore you with the long grey line of horror stories of Pittsfield students gone wild, ruining their own educations, setting a bad example for gullible peers, and preventing good students from learning. Suffice it to say that three simple actions could begin to reverse the trend:

* School Uniforms: Forget a dress code. The school department has a dress code and ignores it. Bring in uniforms and behavior improves, performance increases, and bullying on the basis of clothes disappears.

* Opt out of MCAS, a failed experiment, and exert local control over curriculum to emphasize learning in math, reading, writing, memorization, thinking, science, history, geography, and ethics/morality. Above all, set the bar high. Make students rise to meet it.

* Institute a new policy on cell phones. Restrict cell phone use completely to all but high schoolers. For middle school and below, a cell phone would now be a banned item. Oh yes, restrict all unexcused off-campus sojourns — lunch or otherwise — during class hours.

Each of these three reforms could be done with little or no money. The Planet calls on Mayor Ruberto, now that he is lame duck and needs not accumulate political capital, to get tough this year with the schools. We have half as many students and twice as many teachers as years ago. The ranks of teachers and staff can be thinned with no loss of learning — if adults regain control. As we said, it doesn’t cost much money, but it takes a ton of political will.

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PCBs on the Proposed DPW Site?

There’s a likely problem with the city wanting to move the DPW to the proposed site on outer East Street. That problem is PCBs. During the time that dumping PCBs was legal, General Electric dumped all over the city. Does that include the site at 1644 East St.?

Old timers who worked for GE at its Power Transformer Division tell The Planet they know the company dumped PCBs into the soil and wetlands there. One, a truck driver, said he personally dumped the material at that site. This raises the serious question of liability. Will taxpayers be on the hook for a massive cleanup on what may be polluted property?

As it is, the site’s acquisition would cost plenty. The site is 11 acres and the present building would require millions in updgrades. Is this the best the city can do in trying to get a new site for DPW? Don’t answer until you read The Planet’s story tomorrow on this, including some bombshell information.

Thissa and Thatta

Apropos to nothing, it’s interesting that:

— Since the government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, taxpayers have spent more than $160 million defending their former top executives in fraud lawsuits. –The New York Times

— Americans lead the world in restaurant spending. About 44 percent of food dollars are spent outside the home. –AP

— Nearly 1 in 5 women say that they use indoor tanning facilities, yet only 13 percent of women say that people should avoid tanning salons when considering ways to prevent skin cancer. –University of Minnesota School of Public Health

— The New York Jets lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers because they couldn’t punch it in from the two yard line with a first down. A first down run got a yard, then, inexplicably, they tried to throw on 2nd and 3rd down. Both fell incomplete. With 4th and 1, they gave the ball to LaD Tomlinson. They brought Tomlinson in precisely to get that yard. The Steelers stuffed him. The goal line failure spelled another agonizing defeat. With it, the Jets become the only team in history to go winless in four tries at the Conference Championship Game. Rex Ryan also becomes a coach who has lost the last three, consecutively. Rex: Stick foot in mouth.

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40 Responses to “ELECTION YEAR CRAZIES, PCBs REAR UGLY HEAD ON PROPOSED DPW SITE, and GOAL LINE FAILURE DOOMS JETS”

  1. candidates
    January 24, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

    ten mayoral candidates sounds right. That’s what there was last time:

    Nicholas J. Caccamo,
    Patricia ‘Pam’ Malumphy,
    Mark A. Marciano
    Rick E. Moon
    Dan Bianchi
    Paul Kwasniowski
    Lisa M. Boyd
    Jeffrey W. Ferrin
    Stephen A. Fillio
    James Ruberto

    Now you also (possibly) have:

    Joe Nichols
    Melissa Mazzeo
    Peter Marchetti
    Eric Vincellette
    Donna Walto

    …and maybe

    Guy Noto
    Terry Kinnas
    Bill Hines, Sr.
    David Rooney

    • danvalenti
      January 24, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

      CANDS
      I tried to forget the “10 pack” from last time! Interesting names. Now Bill Hines Sr., I hadn’t thought about that. Thanks for the post.

  2. Terry Kinnas
    January 24, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    As I have previously stated, I am not going to be running for mayor or city council.

    • danvalenti
      January 24, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

      TERRY
      We’re counting you out.

    • candidates
      January 25, 2011 at 5:38 am #

      Thank God! We don’t need a liar in office.

      My post specifically said that you did not mention running yourself, that you were talking more in generalities.

      It also said nothing about you saying these comments while having coffee.

      Maybe you aren’t a liar, but you at least proved some level of ignorance when reading said post.

    • GMHeller
      January 27, 2011 at 3:31 am #

      As I too have previously stated, I too am not going to be running for mayor or city council.

  3. eric vincelette
    January 24, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    Interesting names for sure. However I am currently not a resident of my hometown of Pittsfield…
    where did that info/thought come from? was it an endorsement? if so, thanks for the mention..

    • candidates
      January 24, 2011 at 3:33 pm #

      coffee shop gossip for Vincellete- Valenti seems to really like you (Vincellette), so we figured that the mention of such affection stemmed, in part, from conversation with Valenti regarding your ambition to run for office.

      jit was just gossip/guessing. We figured by adding your name to the list, maybe we’d get some sort of information or comments. Thanks for the info. And good luck to your wife with her new shop.

      …hopefully we’ll also get more information or comments on the others…

      The Bill Hines mention was from the head of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, Mike S. who said that he’d be supporting Hines if/when he ran (and that’s all he said, it wasn’t much). A couple weeks prior to the Mike S conversattion (if you can call it that), Hines said that he doesn’t want to work for PEDA, he wants to work with Ruberto – Hines words almost quoted. But Hines hasn’t made up his mind.

      Terry Kinnas was talking about running – well, not him specifically, but running in general, saying things like “it would be anybody’s race” and “now would be the time to run”, but he didn’t specifically say himself. I wasn’t part of the conversation, just sitting next to him.

      Donna Walto was just because she’s shown interest before (no conversations regarding her interest)

      Guy Noto becaus he’s got a lot of opinions, I just don’t know if he has the ambition/interest to run (also no conversations regarding her interest). Admittedly, I stole that one from Valenti’s previous article.

      David Rooney told me (or at least the group we were all in) he would run if he didn’t have to go agaisnt Marchetti, but he’d be more interested in running if it were against Hines, as a grudge match. But like Vincellete, I don’t know if he even lives in Pittsfield. Rooney was a little tipsy and blowing off steam about Hines, so he may have just been talking out of anger. Rooney really seems to dislike Hines, like a REAL lot!

  4. candidates
    January 24, 2011 at 3:37 pm #

    To clarify on Terry Kinnas, he was definitely talking about the Mayor’s race and I did not hear him talk about Ward 4. Perhaps he’s weighing a race in both since he’s coveted the City Councilor slot in the past.

  5. eric vincelette
    January 24, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

    thanks for the good wishes for my wife’s Boutique, Bizzy Bs for kids & moms @ 6 Burbank St…U seem like someone w/a good ear or 2 to the ground, thx for sharing & thx to DV for the kind words

  6. Laura Gross
    January 24, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

    I polled a real live teenager and here it is. Uniforms might get you injured (he didn’t say that, I inferred.) The MCAS are a waste of time, they are just like SAT’s you have to take 9 times, and teachers have to (in his words) stop teaching the cool stuff to get you ready about a month before. Agreed with the cell phone policy. My suggestion? Ask teenagers for their opinions. Many are experiencing a lack of voice so they try to be heard in unproductive ways (ie the problems you wrote about.) Give them the problem to solve instead of expecting adults to assert control (which will just backfire, it did when I was that age.) As a parent I think that I need to be responsible for the way my child acts. I know he has a certain amount of free will, but my child was a wanted child and I think they get that. It comes out in the way I communicate with him. Easier access to birth control maybe, or just an opener for that can of worms?

    • danvalenti
      January 24, 2011 at 5:48 pm #

      Uniforms work. The resistance the teenage you quoted just mentioned is what I’m talking about. It doesn’t matter if they like it. What matters is that they will come to like it. Happens every time it’s been done. There are more than 12 million public school students in the US who are wearing unis this year. There’s a lot of data to back it up.

      • Jeffrey Turner
        January 26, 2011 at 8:50 am #

        Uniforms work? Then show us the data. Where’s a link? If everyone was jumping off cliffs, I’ll bet you’d be next in line.

        • danvalenti
          January 26, 2011 at 11:26 am #

          JT
          I’m not doing your homework for you. Or should I, since you an an RPI spawn? No, I don’t think so. You have a computer? Ever hear of Google? The data is there, but since it doesn’t fit into your preconceived worldview, you don’t want it. Keep reading!

  7. Terry Kinnas
    January 24, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

    Candidates is full of it. The only time I had coffee out of the house was in Arizona and “candidates” was not there.

    • Avoidance
      January 24, 2011 at 7:05 pm #

      Nobody said anything about you,Terry, having coffee. The coffee was referenced in regard to the conversation about Eric.

      It seems as if Terry Kinnas’ reading comprehension is not sufficient to hold public office….or he’s a liar…

    • candidates
      January 25, 2011 at 5:41 am #

      My post specifically said that you did not mention running yourself, that you were talking more in generalities.

      It also said nothing about you saying these comments while having coffee.

      I am 100% accurate, and you completely read incorrectly everyting I wrote

      You are telling me that you didn’t say these things? I was one chair away from you!

      Either re-read my post and understand what I read, or admit that you are lying.

      Terry, it’s not a big deal that you were talking politics publicly (whether about you or in general). It is a big deal to lie about it.

      Don’t kill what little credibility you think that you may have. Correct yourself now!

    • candidates
      January 25, 2011 at 5:42 am #

      Terry Kinnas,

      My post specifically said that you did not mention running yourself, that you were talking more in generalities.

      It also said nothing about you saying these comments while having coffee.

      I am 100% accurate, and you completely read incorrectly everyting I wrote

      You are telling me that you didn’t say these things? I was one chair away from you!

      Either re-read my post and understand what I read, or admit that you are lying.

      Terry, it’s not a big deal that you were talking politics publicly (whether about you or in general). It is a big deal to lie about it.

      Don’t kill what little credibility you think that you may have. Correct yourself now!

      • Jim Gleason
        January 25, 2011 at 9:36 am #

        Terry Kinnas does NOT lie. He is one of the most honest people I know. Who says you’re credible, your name isn’t on your post. At least he backs up his words with his name, unlike you who uses a pseudonym. We’re supposed to take the word of someone who doesn’t have the courage to use his/her own name over a person who stands behind his words with his name? I don’t think so.

        • James Beasely
          January 25, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

          If Terry Kinnas isn’t lying then that means he’s slow. Now we know.

          By the way, just because we know someone’s name doesn’t make them credible (ex. Jim Gleason has no credibility with the intellectuals)

          • Jim Gleason
            January 25, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

            I hope you’re not counting yourself among that number (the intellectuals) By the way you sound in this post you’re certainly not.

          • seems odd
            January 26, 2011 at 9:59 am #

            Name calling, Mr. Gleason?

            Let’s try to show some maturity, shall we?

  8. Jeffrey Turner
    January 24, 2011 at 5:10 pm #

    Nut jobs? Are you announcing your candidacy? We know you’re possibly the only person in Berkshire County who knows how to run the City of Pittsfield. You sure know nothing about school administration.

    But with your interest in disciplining children in uniforms, have you considered becoming a nun instead?

  9. Marcus A.
    January 24, 2011 at 5:34 pm #

    HAve to say Valenti for mayor, Jeffrey Turner would be a race i would pay to see. Hed be a great candidate. He’s also right about everything in his article on schools. You just can admit it cause you’re in bed with them! Admit it.

    • Jeffrey Turner
      January 25, 2011 at 7:08 am #

      Don’t talk about being in bed while Dan’s focused on high school girls in uniforms. It’s nice to know that you and Dan share the same religion about dressing kids up and ordering them around. But magical thinking about that and how it allows fewer teachers to do a better job of teaching more kids is just wishful. Hey, I’m sorry this isn’t the 1950s any more. But your rose-colored nostalgia doesn’t mean you or he know anything about running a school or running a city.

  10. PITTSFIELD BELIEVER
    January 24, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

    Bill Hines would make an excellent mayor. He has executive experience as well as political experience. He knows the players and could tap into a lot of help. Hines has done a great job since taking over as PEDA director. That job will be done in the spring. Pittsfield needs a man like Hines. He can keep Mayor Ruberto’s progessive agenda going and keep the negative elements the naysayers in their place.

    • Avoidance
      January 24, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

      I’d vote for Bill Hines (at least he’s not a liar like Terry Kinnas)

    • Jim Gleason
      January 25, 2011 at 9:51 am #

      Hines has done nothing for PEDA except make a bunch of unfulfilled promises on businesses coming there. If you consider that a lot then your judgement is as skewed as your beliefs on hines and ruberto. We DO NOT need ruberto’s misguided agenda continued by some clone. We need jobs, something ruberto hasn’t and Hines wouldn’t produce.

      • Tim
        January 25, 2011 at 11:18 am #

        Jimmy you really need a job! or a life! Are you going to “run” for office?

      • James Beasely
        January 25, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

        There you go not being credible again. David Rooney was in charge of bringing business to PEDA. Bill Hines successfully oversaw demolition, removal, pad preparedness, and even the WMECO project.

        Get your facts straight. It’s hard enough to take you serious when your comments are so filled with hate. Your misguided assertions don’t help your cause.

        We get it – you don’t like successful people; you profit wanna-bees and never-will-bees like Terry Kinnas

        • Jim Gleason
          January 25, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

          What’s a “profit wanna be”? Did you mean prophet wanna be? Like I said earlier, please don’t count yourself among any group of intellectuals. You can’t even use the right form of a simple word.

          • seems odd
            January 26, 2011 at 10:04 am #

            “prophet” wanna-bes does not work in the context of that sentence.

            Please allow me to educate you.

            The sentence begs differentiation, where as you do not like successful people. Thus the 2nd part of that sentence would be to dispay the contradiction – what you do like (wanna bes).

            The second part of that sentence intends to read something like “you prefer wanna-bees”. Given the speeling of “bees” it appears as if the auto-spell was on a mobile device and shaped the words.

            Thus, the original writer is guilty of not caring about grammar, spelling, punctuation, whatever on a “blog” site.

            You, however, are guilty of false and ignorant assumptions and a lack of derivate knowledge.

            What’s worse?

  11. Ron Kitterman
    January 24, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    I think you fortgot to mention Tom Hickey on your list Dan

  12. Josh
    January 24, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

    I’m very excited about the prospects of this year’s municipal election because this will be the first time in many years where there will truly be a fresh infusion of blood to city government. I’m more eager to see the quality of candidates rather than the quantity. In the past, we’ve rarely had a strong panel of mayoral candidates (aside from the top two candidates), and I feel that a choice of four or five qualified candidates can only be a good thing.

    It will be interesting to see who emerges out of the vote-rich Ward 4. As a constituent, I’ve felt that Councilor Ward has provided us with excellent service, and it will be hard to fill his shoes. I wouldn’t be surprised if 2009 runner-up Chris Connell makes another go of it, as it seems he’s been working hard to raise his profile. I would also like to see Terry Kinnas take another crack at it. It’s hard to question anyone who does their homework to help prevent costly decisions, and in a time of economic question, I appreciate his fiscal acumen. We’ll have to see if a wild card emerges as well, though it is VERY early in this process.

    In the mayoral race, as it currently stands, I think that it’s Dan Bianchi’s race to lose. As someone who has been and is a Ruberto supporter (and viewing the race from an objective standpoint), I believe it will be very difficult for someone from his camp to win this election cycle, especially after a non-establishment candidate (Miller) dominated Ward 4 in the State Rep. election this past fall.

    I have always liked Pete Marchetti as well and would like to see him take a crack at it. Having another candidate with extensive financial experience (including the Council’s finance committee) is always a plus. I’m pleased by Councilor Nichols’ aggressiveness, but as of now, I think his efforts would be best served continuing to help rebuild and take care of Ward 7. This isn’t to say I won’t consider him, but I think he provides a nice balance to the council. The rest of the potential candidates listed above do not intrigue me whatsoever, though I think that Jeff Ferrin has done his due diligence in raising his profile for a potential Council bid.

  13. Jim Gleason
    January 25, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    he JETS were six inches from the Super Bowl. Good game by Pittsburgh and the JETS too. See ya next year, Brady.

  14. Canyon Raunch
    January 25, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    Aw Jimmy, I wasn’t gonna say anything about the J-E-t-S choke. They couldn’t get two yards in four tries this team that talked (all they do) about smashmouth football then put the ball in Sanchez hands from the two, twice. Brady’s the best QB in football thats what a unanimous QB vote for all-pro means. The Patriots have a ton of draft choices in april and will only get better the jets had a chance twice and blew it too bad and cant wait for next year.

    • Jim Gleason
      January 26, 2011 at 8:03 am #

      It seems the supposed best quarterback in football couldn’t get past the first game in the playoffs two years in a row. Sanchez is a second year player and has gotten to the AC C HAMPIONSHIP GAME TWICE IN TWO YEARS.Brady is going downhill from here, make way for the next great, Mark Sanchez. Having draft picks and knowing how to use them is two different things. Scott Pioli isn’t there anymore, he was the one behind the good drafts the Cheatriots had.

  15. Eric Vincelette
    January 25, 2011 at 10:59 am #

    Bill Hines said on Bill Sturgeon’s show last week that he wasn’t running for mayor…that it was completly out of the question…

    • James Beasely
      January 25, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

      I can’t blame him. What’s it pay? 90k a year? That’s garbage pay for the amount of work involved, especially if you’re already at retirement age

  16. GMHeller
    January 27, 2011 at 3:40 am #

    Mr. Valenti, you write:
    “During the time that dumping PCBs was legal, General Electric dumped all over the city.”

    Polluting the environment and intentionally endangering public welfare has NEVER been “legal”.
    The City of Pittsfield could have put a stop to this dumping decades ago if the political establishment had shown any willingness to do so.
    If it was legal at any time to dump toxic chemicals, GE would never have had cause nor need to make a point of hiding its illegal dumping activities.