Article

MIXED RESULTS FROM THE BB, $1 MILLION PLUS RAISE FOR CITY TEACHERS ISN’T ENOUGH, and CZARINA RUFFER STEALS A COMMUNITY GARDEN

BY DAN VALENTI

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, March 15, 2011) — The Boring Broadsheet is forever living up to its name, though once it a while it presents a story that actually would qualify as fitting for a real newspaper. The Planet refers to Dick Lindsay’s informative piece on the continuing riff-tiff between the Pittsfield School Committee and the United Educators of Pittsfield.

This is Lindsay’s best work in some time. He dealt nicely with the all-to-present space constraints that the BB forces upon its writers. Space is measured physically, in newsprint. Newsprint costs have risen monthly for more than a year (in August, the BB was paying almost $650 a metric ton), ads revenues continue to drop (according to a source in the BB circulation department, January figures dropped steeply from a year ago), and the news hole shrinks. Not a good combination.

The Planet recognizes Lindsay and the paper for its work.

On the other hand, on the same day, the BB continued to prove its unstinting loyalty to the Special Interests. It wasn’t enough to flog the economic impact of Congress’ foolish and wasteful decision to fund new warships the US doesn’t need because it created a handful of good, high-paying local jobs at General Dynamic. It wasn’t enough to treat this slim ray of good news (although is feeding the bloated waste of military spending “good”?) for what the aberration it was. No, it has to be trotted out again and made into a Cecil B. DeMille epic.

Fluffy Fluff

Clarence Fanto’s piece that eats up half of page one makes one cringe. The Planet assigns no fault to Fanto, who is a filling in as journeyman reporter for the ailing (and we hope recovering) Derek Gentile. Such is the life of a hired writer. When a writer-for-hire is assigned fluff, you try to create the fluffiest possible. We find no fault with our good friend CF. That the editor-in-chief would approve a story like this, though, given the serious, life-and-death issues that the BB routinely ignores, would boil the blood of any Horace Greeley.

Such spineless coverage results when management that has its first loyalty to the chain hires a sports editor (Tim Farkas, formerly of the Albany Times-Union) as top editorial dog. You get a lapdog. A genuine newspaper needs a German shepherd.

The Planet now lectures publisher Andy Mick, Farkas, and says this for all the good people chaffing at the way the paper is being run (into the ground). This is for THEIR morale:

A newspaper’s first responsibility is to tell the truth about its community. The BB earns a grade of F.

— A newspaper must have as its first loyalty its readers, not its advertisers, local big shots, or the GOB network. Grade: F.

— A newspaper’s most important trait or characteristic is independence. Grade: F.

— The news must be made comprehensive and proportional. Grade: F.

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$1 million+ for Teachers Not Enough for UEP’s Scott Eldridge

The underneath the substance of Lindsay’s story is the he-said, she-said nature of the dispute between the city teachers’ union and the school committee.

For taxpayers, here’s all you need to know.

· Schoolteachers make on average nearly $60,000 a year in the city of Pittsfield.

· They work 183 days (less because “professional days” count as work).

· Through summer vacation, in-year vacations, holidays, personal time, etc., they work less than 180 days, on average.

· Benefits far exceed those in the Dreaded Private Sector.

· Teachers are in line to receive $678,000 as an already-agreed-upon step raise.

· On top of that, the school committee has offered teachers another $328,000.

· In short, on top of their present deals, teachers will hit strapped taxpayers for an additional $1.06 million.

The United Educators of Pittsfield leadership team nonetheless has gone public about how much it is being disrespected. UEP chief Scott Eldridge told Lindsay, “the school committee is not approaching this with the necessary urgency.”

We agree with Eldrige. We need “urgency.” The Planet therefore supports any attempt at urgency that drives pension reform and cancels of give-away-the-store benefits (pensions, health care) that teachers, as sainted public employees, currently hold. It’s not that we want them not to receive, it’s just that taxpayers have nothing left to give.

Taxpayers face a bill of $331 million of promised benefits to the city’s public employees. Not a cent has been paid. At some point, the TRUE stalling tactics will be over, and that bill will be due.

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City Council Scorecard Update: 4 to 7

Here’s a scorecard update. We are making progress for We the People. We have now heard from four city councilors on our tripart question of PCBs, Hill 78, and unfunded liabilities. They are John Krol, Mike Ward, Joe Nichols, and Kevin Sherman.

The other eight (Yon, White, Capitanio, Lothrop, Lee, Marchetti, and Mazzeo) have until the end of the say tomorrow. We will post the comments on Thursday. As to the point of calling out people before the deadline, this is a practice learned from experience, the hard way. By repeating, publicly, that we seek comment, none of our Right Honorable Good Friends who always ignore our requests (they know who they are) cannot later say: “We didn’t know about it.”

There is no excuse for refusing to state clear positions on three issues that are critical for the long-term health and stability on the city of Pittsfield. We shall leave a candle burning in the window for the eight who have yet to reply. We will not assign any motives to their delay, other than to assume the best: They need the time to make sure they reply thoughtfully, since this is for the record.

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“And We Got to Get Back to the Garden”

Once upon a time, a group of community-minded West Side friends and neighbors got together and decided that instead of cursing blight, they would plant a garden. The garden grew, and people enjoyed 3,000 pounds of tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers … and each other.

The garden, in city-owned parcels at 146, 148, and 154 Robbins Ave., enjoyed too much success for its own good, apparently. The city of Pittsfield, under OCD Czarina Deanna Ruffer, has seized the three plots and imposed The Bureaucracy. According to The Planet’s sources, this was done without consulting the gardeners and, as it turns out, against their wishes.

What began as a low-key, easy, fun way for neighbors to socialize and grow closer now has turned into a City Program. the Czarina assigned her serfs at the Bekshire Community Action Council to take over the gardens. This year, look for a new crop to be added to the mix: healthy rows of red tape, plum politics, and lots of bullshit for fertilizer.

The City Will F**K It Up?

We will no longer give the city the benefit of the doubt on such matters. The safe assumption for any reasonable person is that the city will take over and screw this up, big time. After November, it will be certain that the neighborhoods will have plenty of pitchforks on hand to chase the refuse from the election out of town.

The Czarina told Dick Lindsay that such a garden “needs a structure” to keep it “sustainable” and so it can expand. Who says. Word to the All Important Underweared Municipal OCD Bureaucrat: The community gardens on Robbins Avenue had a “structure.” It “sustained” itself for three years before you got involved to f**k it up. It “grew” nicely, thank you.

People of the West Side. Channel your anger. Get involved. This is a political year. Vote for anyone who will fight your fight.

If the West Side Neighborhood Initiative was doing a lousy job, there might, might, be a justification for the city sticking its long schnozz into the soil there. The Initiative did a great job. For literally urning the dirt and reclaiming a small patch of blight in the name of hope and decency, the WSNI finds itself rolled, mugged, and robbed by Ruffer Hood: she steals from the Little Guy and gives to The Empire.

We suggest that Ruffer serve as a model for a life-sized scarecrow at the garden. It will terrify crows, women and children, and, with luck, will be hung in effigy.

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MOVING ON, KEEPING ON, WITH LOVE TO ALL.

19 Responses to “MIXED RESULTS FROM THE BB, $1 MILLION PLUS RAISE FOR CITY TEACHERS ISN’T ENOUGH, and CZARINA RUFFER STEALS A COMMUNITY GARDEN”

  1. rick
    March 15, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    dan, the garden post is a killer, i thought ruffer was a school yard bully, but taking over that garden is just rotten tomatoes…the life size scare crow will forever be her moniker, she does resemble one at that. the wsni has done with that garden, what the rest of us should do to bring a neighorhood together. i just hope when roberto goes so does she….. and they can take barrett with them…now theres a 3some.

  2. toto
    March 15, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

    There were seven workers on Elm St. today without the HHMPMOUSE BOX. Man, Elm St. has some huge potholes.

  3. DJ
    March 15, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    Dummies, all of them. They issued a NO BID contract for a “professional farmer/manager” for $53,000 a YEAR and hired Berkshire Community Action Council who doesn’t have such a person on staff.

    All this is is a way to launder money and increase payola in the city of Pittsfield.

    Watch, next you will read about Deanna Ruffer needing more money to manage “contract relations” or to become a “procurement officer in training”.

  4. Dusty
    March 15, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

    and maybe Deanna and her friends will have to take some veggies home each night to taste test them..just for quality testing

  5. Joetaxpayer
    March 15, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    Must agree with you on General Dynamics more wastefull govt spending The funny thing if they surveyed berk. co. citizens 90% would have voted to cut military spending.But once they find out it might bring some jobs here they hop onboard the pork train. As far as the teachers go they are owed 1 million and are going to get it.That is why the school dept. must consildate as many buildings as possible,close a elementary school lay-off some admin. positions.

  6. Luxor Rex
    March 15, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    Shame on Ruffer and the city for increasing the payroll, increading the bureaucracy, and destroying the community garden. These bastards need to be run out of town. FAST!!
    Like what joe taxpayer says about the phonies and hypocrites: they are against military spending … until it sends from blood money to the city. Bastards, all of them.

  7. Fan Dan Go
    March 15, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    Your website has become almost viral. I found out about it from a referral (a friend who works in City Hall). You are on just about every screen I know at some point in the day. I am now a regular visitor. I thank you for this effort. It’s amazing, what you produce, day by day. Like my moniker?

  8. just saying
    March 15, 2011 at 4:55 pm #

    Damn, that Ruffer is like a mini Obumbler, wants to control everything.
    Hey D. Ruffer leave the people alone they did just fine without you telling them how to do it.
    This is one of the problems we have with liberal/progressive control mongers, they believe that they need to inject their
    Bullshit control on everyone else. Ruffer STFU. The people, the fucking “little” guys got it, they don’t need you. Deal with it, go away robberto whore.

  9. arpaint
    March 15, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

    Deanna Ruffer needs to go she thinks that she can do no wrong and she will tell you so. She has no personality when dealing with the public and she does not want to be asked any questions about what she is doing. I wish I could write about some of the dirty tricks she pulled in the last election. In short I hope whoever the next Mayor is he or she will get rid of her before she can do any more harm.
    The Teachers in Pittsfield don’t care how hard it is for the tax payer as long as they can get as much money as possible from the tax payer. It is time to stop treating them as a group that you can’t touch. They make good money and still have the opportunity to make more in the summer months.

  10. Rivetor
    March 15, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

    Deana Ruffers act against the community garden is shameful. This posting led me to go back to read the boring broadsheets story. I was sickened to see how glowingly they made this sound like without Ruffer coming in the garden, three years going now, would die. My best friend is one of the gardeners and shes heartbroken that the city moved in on them in such a harsh fashion. Popele of Pittsfield this is not the nice littel story the BB told it’s an outrage. Its like the planets story says, theft

    • just saying
      March 15, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

      Yes sir, socailts scum @ work. Resist em man, they have nothing to stand on.
      Therefore they grab what the good people have done and try to make it theirs, they can not stand it when a “little guy” (or gal), makes well without their help. F em. Stand up and say P+*# off, don’t need ya.
      All you good gardeners; stick up for yourselves, you have done just fine without D.Ruffer running YOUR project!

  11. Rivetor
    March 15, 2011 at 7:45 pm #

    Oh yeah and I add about the teachers. They are being offered more than a million dollars pay raise, and all they do is complain, stop working, work to rule, and whine. Time for the city to deal with these jokers who are destroying education for our children.

  12. rick
    March 16, 2011 at 3:04 am #

    every one out there wants to make more money, so you cant blame the teachers, police city and state workers. the only problem is were broke, and if they dont get it then their education failed them.. about the council…. we neeb to get rid of yon or as we call he yawn. lew how did you lose to that, shes worse then the b.b,i take a nap when she talks…. and where did this white guy come from, time for him to go. krol is a pest, like a little gnat, a follower,same as capitano, lothrup marchetti. all the above need to go, wake up people they are the boil on the ass of our city.

  13. SALTY
    March 16, 2011 at 6:13 am #

    The west side farm and garden initiative helped a lot of peple with free food and more. Now the city swoops in like a vulture and takes over the credit. The city has caused so much bad feelings here in the west side. Where was our councilor?

  14. rick
    March 16, 2011 at 9:00 am #

    now is the right time to vote him out……. you need a person from the wsni to run for that seat… this is a perfect reason to show why people are mad, and we have to take our council back… when they do something like this with the garden and pay raises to friends, then they have a negative view of the people in pittsfield. this garden should be one of many wake up calls to the voters, we need to clear the slate and put into office those who respect the office, and the people they serve.

  15. rick
    March 16, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    hey dan, the garden thing really got to u… i could read the anger in your writing. i would not want to be on the recieving end of your pen!!! hopefully the councilors respond. or maybe not, id like to see what their present is.

  16. danvalenti
    March 16, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    RICK
    The anger is justified. This was a great, grassroots program, started by one man. It grew into a community asset that didn’t look for anything from the government. Then, after the group broke their backs for three years and got the gardens humming, the BCAC, backed by DCD, swooped in for the kill. In the vast scheme of things, it’s not significant, but that’s the precise reason why the story is so enlightening. It illustrates how devious the politics in Pittsfield are and how they crush good, innocent people. That is unacceptable.

  17. rick
    March 16, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

    hey dan your 100% right on the garden, seems like the roberto admin. is going out with the scorched earth policy. just when we thought they couldnt sink any lower they slap good people in the face, roberto and ruffer arent out looking for friends, they now have many enimies. how can they go in and do this without anyone knowing? or did people know and then drop the sleaze bomb. i would love to see someone from that group (wsni) run for that ward seat.

  18. toto
    March 16, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

    Maybe this is a ploy to make Nichols look bad, isn’t this in his garden, Ward 7, I mean back yard?