Article

PITTSFIELD STILL IN CYBER STONE AGE, PLUS 1BERKSHIRE and ‘The Money’ and CEDS Follies Continue

BY DAN VALENTI

Behind the Times

You would think that the good folks at the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission would change the outdated information on its CEDS page (listing the “next meeting” taking place on Jan. 25) given the fact that The Planet notified them of the embarrassing error. Moreover, based on the amount of mocking, anger, and sarcasm directed at the CEDS committee based on our public-spirited act of goodwill, you’d think maybe they might want to show more responsiveness to the public.

That is not the case. The website as of today still advertises for the future a meeting conducted seven weeks ago. Do you need more proof that the Powers that Be, who have held the region’s economy back by incompetence and nepotism, don’t care?

This inaction on such a simple (yet important) thing aligns nicely with a comment made today on yesterday’s Planet posting. It’s from a person who went to the city of Pittsfield website, looking for contact information for members of municipal boards and commissions. Go there yourself. You’ll find:

(a) Outdated information

(b) No phone numbers or mail addresses

(c) No e-mail or other electronic addresses.

In fact, the city’s website as a whole lists no e-mails for any municipal employees except for city councilors. If you were an out of town businessperson looking to expand in Pittsfield and wanted to e-mail Deanna Ruffer in the Office of Community Development, you couldn’t find that information on the “user-friendly” website.

Campaign Promise Not Fulfilled: Don’t Stop the Presses

In the 2009 municipal election, in a televised debate, The Planet brought the lack of e-mail addresses up to Mayor Jimmy Ruberto. He said he wasn’t aware of the problem and then pledged to look into it immediately, giving the impression he would address the problem. As it turns out, nothing was done. The site hasn’t changed in years.

The city’s web presence is like something from the stone ages. It consists of dated PR and puffery, not at all easy to use, and a detriment more than a help.

Here’s the no-cost solution: Work with Berkshire Community College, get the school’s top three web designers and programmers, and offer them the job. BCC would make payment in the form of three credits earned for each of the students (equal to one course for one semester). The city then gets a new and better site at virtually no expense. The students get a nice item for their resumes. Taxpayers get a cost break. People get better service.

Free advice to the next mayor and council: For one of your first joint projects, get the city’s web presence out of 1996 and into 2012. To the present mayor and council: One simple fix that will do wonders would be to hire a temp to insert working e-mail addresses for all city personnel in the appropriate places on the official web site.

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Where’s the Money?

Many are still wondering about the identities of the “eight to 12″ companies identified by 1Berkshire that in addition to GE provided start-up  money to the group. In April 2010, the board of four existing Berkshire rah-rah organizations — including the Berkshire Chamber of Mike Supranowicz — formed for the purpose of …

… Let’s stop right there. No one knows why they formed. No one knows why they needed to add a layer of redundancy to the already non-functioning plethora of “economic development agencies” that crop up in Pittsfield (county seat, don’t cha know) like poppies in the fields of Iraq.

We don’t know why the group  formed. It  just did, and from April of last year to January of this year, 1Berkshire did nothing (The Planet doesn’t count halitosis in the form of say-nothing press releases). Then it 1Berkshires found Facebook, alleluia, where it announced its first policy initiative: a clean-up plan for the Housatonic River that matched GE’s plan like a set of dueling pistols. Dum-de-dum-dum.

The Plot Thickens

The plot thickened when 1Berkshire first flatly denied receiving funds from GE then got caught in the lie and admitted taking $300,000. In the Berkshire Record, David Scribner reported that a 1Berkshire board member told him of GE’s promise of millions more to come. Eugenie Sills, publisher of the Women’s Times, resigned from 1Berkshire in wake of the revelations. Meanwhile, more discontent from within the ranks has been reported. The group has many principled members, people The Planet knows and respects, and they aren’t happy with the GE development.

The discontent with 1Berkshire seems to be growing, and it wouldn’t surprise The Planet to learn of more resignations and to hear from upset members who will stick with it but need to share what they know with the public. Stay tuned on this one, folks.

The Boston Globe spoke to two 1Berkshire members on condition of anonymity. The Planet also has multiple such sources. Are they the same? We don’t know. We can report that our anonymous sources wish to remain that way because of the fear of professional reprisal, the same reason used by the Globe’s sources.

We ask how can fear and intimidation can be seen as a good way to lure outsiders who might make relocate or set up in Pittsfield. Unless the politics change, that would be a fatal mistake. It might explain, for example, why in the 14 years since the Consent Agreement was signed, the PEDA site in Pittsfield remains idle. It might also explain why Dan Fox Drive went from being “Pittsfield Silicon Valley” to “Recreation & Resort Service-Job Central.”

How stupid to the Grand High Exalted Mytic Poo-Bahs think We The People are?

Question Needing Answers

If we can believe 1Berkshire that they have received money from “8 to twelve” companies, one of which is GE, the following questions need immediate answers:

* How much is the total amount received? GE gave a reported $300,000. What about the seven to 11 other companies. How much is there?

* Other than brochures and press releases, what is the money’s purpose? Who’s getting paid in the group and how much?

* Where is that money? Is it on deposit? Can honest accounting be presented that will lead a reasonable person to believe that all is above board here?

* What were the stipulations placed on receipt of the money? 1Berkshire has carefully worded its response to the question as it pertains to the GE $300K, saying GE provided the money but “not specifically to support the Smart Clean-Up Coalition” (quote from Tony Dobrowolski’s article in the Feb. 19 Berkshire Eagle). How do we read that? “Not specifically” would seen to include but not be limited to pushing the Smart plan. Wiggle room, they call it.

1Berkshire has to answer these questions publicly, with verification and supporting documents, for the public to feel that its Smart Clean-Up Plan is a legitimate option and not just a front for GE. The pity is that perhaps the so-called “Smart” (less invasive) cleanup IS the best option at this point. 1Berkshire, though, has poisoned the waters.

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The Usual and Unusual Suspects

CEDS: Who Attended and Who Didn’t

The Planet can report that since we’ve been writing about the Pittsfield CEDs process, attendance by the CEDS committee has been on the uptick.

During the Jan. 25 meeting, Chamber chief Mike Supranowicz finally cleared time from his feverishly busy day (“busier than a one-armed paper hanger”) to attend. Nice of him. We were beginning to think Mountain Mike didn’t want to waste his valuable time on this non-starter. “Showing up” absent (if that is possible) were Deanna Ruffer, Heather Boulger, and Robert Wilson.

Ruffer’s absence is understandable. She’s busy running the city as Deputy Mayor along with First Deputy Mayor John Barrett. Yes, and Mayor Ruberto wants to give Tricia Farley-Bouvier a $15,000 raise by making her “First Assistant Deputy Mayor.”

The Planet gives honor and praise to Allison Johnson, who was the lone member of the public to attend. The next meeting of the CEDS committee is NOT Jan. 25, as the CEDS site boasts, but at 12:30 p.m., March 8, at BRPC, 1 Fenn St., Suite 201. We hope other members of the public can attend to watch the paint dry and the grass not grow.

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It’s All in How You Define It

The Jan. 25 CEDS meeting included a discussion of how to define the “New Economy,” which the committee established last spring. The master minds at CEDS decided they needed a “New Economy.” That’s like the ugly person buying a new mirror because the old one showed too much. He thinks the new mirror will reveal Adonis.

There is this tidbit in the minutes: The CEDS team has received 82 proposals to present to the Feds for funding. Proposals will be scored and evaluated by the committee (“It’s not what you know, kid, it’s WHO you know”). Proposals would be ranked with “High, Medium, and Low” priorities.

“High” — A proposal with this ranking is “in the bank.” It is submitted by people with high-end political connections and table-tilted business pull. These people are “Connected.” You can say they are “Made,” the way the Mob uses the word.

“Medium” — Proposals from people who want to be “Players” but still haven’t forked over the required “tribute” or kissed the right bums. If they cough up, maybe they get greased.

“Low” — These describe diligent, descriptive proposals that might actually open up the local economy (and its politics) to fresh blood. These proposals make practical sense and would help ordinary people. The CEDS team uses colorful internal language for “Low” priority proposals. They are labeled “Fat Chance” and filed under “N” for “Now a Snowball’s Chance.”

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He Said It (and We Wish THEY Would, Too)

The Planet shares this quote from the governor of Wisconsin. Never mind his name or party affiliation (in an attempt to avoid a hackneyed descent into partisan politics. We just find it heartening that there is a politician out there capable of uttering such a hopeful statement.

Now if only we could get Deval Patrick to say this and mean it (also Jimmy Ruberto, Chris Yon, Peter White, Paul Capitanio, Mike Ward, Jonathan Lothrop, John Krol, Joe Nichols, Gerry Lee, Kevin Shreman, Peter Marchetti, and Meliss MAzzeo, plus the School committee): “This is a major step forward in correcting the imbalance between taxpayers and the government unions that work for them,” Kasich said.

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BYE FOR NOW, MY GOOD FRIENDS. LOVE TO ALL.

29 Responses to “PITTSFIELD STILL IN CYBER STONE AGE, PLUS 1BERKSHIRE and ‘The Money’ and CEDS Follies Continue”

  1. Baby Baby
    March 3, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    I thought her name was Allison Krol now. Was this a honest mistake by the author? I think not, as he knows her and her husband all too well. He also knows that she works for Ben Downing. A member of the public? I think not, unless you count Mike Supranowicz as a member of the public as well.

    Something smells fishy to this reader. Dan, what gives? Please ocme clean with your readers.

    • danvalenti
      March 4, 2011 at 8:33 am #

      @BABY
      I’ll be glad to answer. Her name, as listed in the official minutes, shows she attended as a member of the public as “Allison Johnson.”
      THE PLANET made no mistake, honest or otherwise.
      I know John Krol well and consider him a friend. I know his lovely wife, also, and met her at a Colonials game last summer. I know Allison’s dad, Mr. Johnson, a great guy and a man for whom I have great respect.
      I did not know Allison worked for Ben Downing. All I can say is that Sen. Downing’s got a keeper.
      That’s coming clean as it gets, baby.

  2. Joetaxpayer
    March 3, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

    If G.E is jn such a giving mood,maybe they could spring for new lighs at Wahconah Park.

  3. Ariste
    March 3, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

    The information on your site is at times overwhelming. i mean that in a good way. You are bowling over people. Much appaluse and admiration

  4. Dusty
    March 3, 2011 at 5:56 pm #

    and what would lame duck Ruberto say now if asked about why his website is so fourth grade?

  5. Baby Baby
    March 3, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    Dan, now that I think about it, why don’t you “update” your brain? You slam the CEDS for not having a current website for the date of the next meeting. Yet, Allison Johnson has been Allison Krol for how long? Around two years I think. Should you face the same ridicule you hand out for outdated information? Or, are you exempt, because you draw portraits of Jesus using yourself as the model. All hail the mighty Dan!

    • Joetaxpayer
      March 3, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

      Baby Baby,her maiden name is Allison Johnson,so technically Dan is right.You seem to be very angry is there anything else you want to get off your chest.

    • Craig Swinson
      March 3, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

      I think I have her business card around here and I am pretty sure she uses her maiden name, as recently as last year.

    • danvalenti
      March 4, 2011 at 9:26 am #

      @BABY
      It’s YOU that needs the update. Check the OFFICIAL minutes of the meeting, or do the facts become inconvenient for you at that point?

  6. Craig Swinson
    March 3, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    Come On Dan, don’t you know that Pittsfield at the “Atheaneum” (sic) has the “countries” largest information network “with 180 volumes” (sic)

    Don’t believe me?!?!

    Right from the City website!
    http://www.elocallink.tv/clients3/ma/pittsfield/tourplay.php?movie=pimaqol_rev3&spon=qualityo&type=wh&flver=10&brver=6

  7. eric vincelette
    March 3, 2011 at 8:27 pm #

    I was @ the last CED meeting, for the first hour, in fact I chatted w/Allison Johnson Krol & I’m not sure the attendance record you have is entirely accurate….

    What do you know about pittsfield needing to upgrade its water/sewer (in 3~5 yrs) to meet new EPA regs? & the costs associated w/that? Here’s hoping Pittsfield decides to market & sell the heck out of a Lenox & other towns surrounding Pittsfield, partnership to share in these costs ($40 mil?) that currently doesn’t exist & save taxpayers $ & make a more effiecient & cost effective system for all the towns involved

  8. Ariste
    March 3, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

    I checked the minutes The Planet refers to. Dan is right. The minutes for 1-25 mtg lists “Allison Johnson” as the “civilian” attendant. Baby Baby, you better update your anger. Valenti was again right.

  9. Roxy Girl
    March 3, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    I am in love with Dan Valenti. He’s a genius. He’s the model for Jesus. He walks on water. He curs the sick. He turns water into wine.

    • danvalenti
      March 4, 2011 at 9:28 am #

      Nor will I recommend that anyone cast the first stone at you, R Girl, for being caught in the wrong bed!

  10. Pittsfield Patriot
    March 3, 2011 at 8:39 pm #

    Valenti draws portraits of Jesus Christ and uses himself as the model. If he’s a “genius,” it’s the “a beautiful mind” type. Like scary. He posted some formulas on FB today where he seriously says will compute the exact time from now to the arrival of spring. He doesn’t need the muse. He needs a bevy of psychiatric nurses.

    • danvalenti
      March 4, 2011 at 8:27 am #

      I’m not sure what the point is here, other than to display ignorance. Yes, I did share some of my artwork. Yes, it included two portraits of Jesus. Yes, I posted equations on FB. Those are factual statements. Posting equations of gibberish on FB, though, has no relevance here, for example. Painting Jesus doesn’t mean I’m being disrespectful or arrogant. Quite the opposite, in fact. That’s all it was, and the two comments were complete non-sequiturs.
      @The two “Pittsfield” posters (or are they the same person?!): Don’t get all “grassy knoll” on us simply because we are chiseling away at the granite wall now blocking ordinary people from truth and justice. As said above, the website believes fiercely in free speech, even knowing that on a site like this, we become fair game for having such a policy. Fine. We welcome that. But we will NOT let the line be crossed, though. We would ask all posters to respect that, especially when expressing disagreement or disapproval.

  11. PITTSFIELD BELIEVER
    March 3, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

    This is true. Valenti did publish equations on Facebook today. That is fact. It had something to do with predicting the exact time until spring (way above me). I showed it to a friend of mine in the math department at an Elite College in Northern Berk Cty (Williamstown) so I think you can guess wi=hich one, like maybe Williams College. He said valenti’s math is real. He said Valenti is “scary crazy”. Can we leave it at that?

  12. No Reply
    March 3, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

    Geesh. Leave him alone, will ya? I can’t follow the last two posts, but the tone of them are disturbing. I respect Dan Valenti for his writing and the direct truth of his posts. If he has unusual abilities in other areas, leave it and leave him alone. Dan had tried to keep the discussion legitimate and substantial. I would ask Pitts Believer and Pittsfieled Patriot to respect that. Don’t let this degenerate into tpoix.

  13. Amanda Blake
    March 3, 2011 at 10:04 pm #

    This is my first post. I have recently discovered this website I think the planet is the best thing that’s happened to berkshire county and pittsfield in ages, If idiots like the “Pittsfield” guys above (believer and patriot) want to slam Mr,. Valenti it jsut h=shows their littleness. Forgive my typoing. New at this,.

    • Joetaxpayer
      March 4, 2011 at 4:27 am #

      Amenda, Must agree with you typical people who instead of coming up with ideas,insite or even debate,just attack the messenger.

      • danvalenti
        March 4, 2011 at 8:08 am #

        JOE, AMANDA, and OTHERS
        Thanks for the kind words. The postings to which you refer were personal, were below the belt, and FOR THAT REASON, they are staying up. But as we’ve said many times before, we will not allow the “feedback” aspect of PLANET VALENTI to degenerate with what happened at the Eagle. This site is monitored and maintained on a daily basis. We will respect free speech, however harsh, but we won’t ccross the line into an exchange of idiocy. To you, my good friends, we appreciate the support.

  14. GMHeller
    March 4, 2011 at 3:02 am #

    Mr. Valenti:
    RE: Pittsfield’s backwoods web site.
    A good way to get the attention of the arrogant soon-to-be-million-dollar-pensioners in Pittsfield City Hall is to hack the City’s Web site and upload a big photo of Alfred E. Newman onto the web page where the mayor’s photo is presently displayed.
    The incompetents in City Hall might not see it for a month or so, but then the longer the better!

    • danvalenti
      March 4, 2011 at 8:13 am #

      Funny. Yes. The city wouldn’t notice it for weeks. That’s how much it cares about or understands its web presentation.

  15. GMHeller
    March 4, 2011 at 3:24 am #

    Mr. Valenti:
    RE: 1Berkshire and the proposed ‘Low-Impact on GE’s Bottom Line’ PCB Clean-up’.

    Note the article just posted to Berkshire Blog.
    ‘In Bed With General Electric Company — What the Hell Are These People Thinking?’

    If you or anyone else can provide the names of more people in the organization, their photos will be added to those already posted.
    SEE:
    http://berkshireeagle.blogspot.com/2011/03/in-bed-with-general-electric-company.html

    ——————–
    Also, please note that the bottom line rationale behind GE’s desire for a ‘do nothing’ approach to PCB remediation in the Berkshires in the Housatonic River flood plain can be found in the little noticed report (on Christmas eve) by GE as to just how much the company has been spending for its Hudson River PCB clean-up in New York.

    SEE:
    GE’s PCB Clean-Up Costs $1.33 Billion So Far in Hudson River
    http://www.topix.net/forum/city/pittsfield-ma/T5236PQNVKGELM2R4

    SEE:
    ‘GE to Finish Cleanup Project — Further Hudson River Dredging Prompts $500 Million Fourth-Quarter Charge’

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704278404576037430328524852.html

  16. Albert Prince
    March 4, 2011 at 7:47 am #

    The two idiots above, who each use the name of “PITSFIELD” in their name, should be ashamed of those posts. On the one hand I am angry they are allowed but then I have to give Dan V. credit for allowing them he knows what all the rest of us do that these screeds avoid the issues he raises. He’s hitting home I guess

  17. danbeaut
    March 4, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    Great article as always Dan!

  18. PCP
    March 4, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    The individual BABY BABY should apologize to Mrs. Allison Johnson(Krol) and Mr. John Krol along with State Senator Dowing for trying to besmirch an individual for just going to a public meeting. This may be beyoud you, BABY BABY, but professional women sometimes just use their maiden names.