BY DAN VALENTI
Pittsfield is Poisoned
FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE (MARCH 14, 2011) — Alone among local media, The Planet has driven the recent and urgent discussion on industrial poisons in Pittsfield. Ironically, this came about as the result of a development that, at first, appeared to have nothing to do with PCBs, mercury, and the host of other nasty chemicals that saturate Pittsfield and environs. We refer to the city’s proposed purchase of property on outer East Street, which turned out to contain PCBs.
The summary line of everything on this site published to date is this: Pittsfield has been poisoned. There’s no polite way to say it. The toxins are still in Pittsfield’s ecosystem. They will not go away on their own. Mother Nature will not heal herself in Pittsfield. It is, thus, a dying city.
Only a formal study would establish causality between this sad reality and the fact that, while GE was in Pittsfield and the many years after, no substantial companies have chosen the town for expansion or relocation. There have been economic booms in biotechnology and in computer-related industries in other locales, many within an easy drive of the city, but Pittsfield did not get a drop of the action.
Economic Failure, Industrial Toxins: Cause and Effect?
The anecdotal evidence clearly suggests that Pittsfield’s poisons, known the world over by the world over, have been a major reason, if not THE reason, why so many “economic development” efforts have failed in Benigno Numine. For example, the city quickly dropped its proposed “High Tech Highway,” Dan Fox Drive, and turned it into a failed recreation-and-resort wasteland, anchored by the empty Patriots Resort Hotel on the corner. They couldn’t give it away. The same problem has plagues the PEDA site. What board of directors would take the chance of coming to Pittsfield?
What company, school, shop, organization, or enterprise, would want to move to Pittsfield or set up there knowing that its water, air, and soil remains drenched in a laundry list of toxic industrial chemicals? What outfit would want to be part of a community where the leaders allowed this situation to happen and then let the poisoner off the hook — a consent decree that put a Band-aid over a mortal wound? What sophisticated enterprise would want a part of what passes for local politics? Who would want in on a game of Russian Roulette in in a city where there isn’t even an inventory of all the poisons that were buried in the ground for more than eight decades?
Past is Passed, but the Future can be Changed
The past cannot be changed. The 80+ years of unquestioned prosperity GE brought to Pittsfield came at a severe price. However, we can decide, going forward, to take action. The question then becomes: What will the city do about it? That question is the thrust of our recent mailing to each member of the city council, asking them for positions on PCBs, Hill 78, and unfunded liabilities. This election season, candidates had better be prepared to discuss these issues. The days of candidates ignoring these life-and-death matters, of keeping the electorate in the dark, of pretending all is well and there’s a renaissance under way, are over.
The Planet has been to four rodeos, three bordellos, two masonic temples, and a pineapple farm, and here’s a campaign promise we make: We will harelip a pack of hyenas in our efforts to see that We The People are properly represented in Campaign 2011.
For the record, The Planet has heard from Joe Nichols and Kevin Sherman on our three questions. We have yet to hear from Yon, White, Capitanio, Ward, Lothrop, Kroll, Lee, Marchetti, and Mazzeo. To clarfiy on Mazzeo, she did at least have the courtesy to acknowledge our inquiry. The Planet will wait until the end of the day Wednesday to hear from all. On Thursday, we will post the responses. Non-respondents will have a special gift waiting for them. Personally, we don’t care one way of the other. As representative of The Little Guy, however, we will not take well any snubs.
Flaggin’ Down the Truth
In the ensuing discussion stirred up on The Planet over the time and energy wasted on a Pittsfield flag came the comment asking about sponsorship. What does a politician’s “sponsorship” of a flag mean? The city of Pittsfield flag was sponsored by Mayor Jimmy Ruberto and State Sen. Ben Downing. Is there taxpayers’ money involved?
Senator Downing’s office, on the ball as ever, monitored the discussion, and the senator provided The Planet with this answer.
Dan – saw the question about what “sponsorship” of the flag contest meant. On my end, it just meant lending my name. After I got elected, I was hosting a local group at the state house (can’t recall the organization). When we gave the tour, we came through the Hall of Flags at the State House and some of the group members couldn’t find their town/city’s flag.
After this, I asked the folks at the Bureau of State Office Buildings if they had a list of all the communities that had flags and those which didn’t. Once I had it, I let all the communities know and told them, if they wanted to, I’d do what I could to publicize the opportunity if they thought it would be helpful. Some communities jumped on it. Pittsfield waited to align it with the 250th.
So thats that. No monetary sponsorship or staff work on my side.
The Planet thanks Sen. Downing for the information. We will not assume anything from the mayor’s side of this but hope someone from City Hall can report the same: no public money nor city employees are involved.
Is the GOP Imploding?
Is the national GOP imploding? It’s hard to think the hearings by U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) are the result of a well-devised strategy, especially so close to a presidential campaign. This week, the House Homeland Security Committee, which King chairs, conducts hearings into the “radicalization of American Muslims.”
It’s hard to see this as anything other than a nod to the rabid right, which thinks Sara Palin is the next Joan of Arc (although, for this once-nobody from Alaska, Joan of Arctic is not out of the question).
Here’s The Planet’s problem with King’s hearings:
* King has accused young Muslims of heavily supporting Al Qaeda, without supplying evidence.
* He alleges, against, with little support, that “80 percent” of mosques in the United States are run by radical imams who are out to destroy America.
* This targeting of Islam reeks of racism, that is, the scapegoating of dark-skinned “foreigners” who have committed the sin of not being white and Christian.
Republicans Could Own (and Once Did) the Muslim Vote
The GOP’s stance on Islam is difficult to fathom. As pointed out in an excellent discussion at politico.com/news/stories, American Muslims “seem predisposed to vote Republican. They are generally affluent and well-educated, and more than a quarter are small-business owners — a traditional GOP constituency.” They also tend to be socially and politically conservative.
The King playbook spells bad news for the GOP, unless their intention is to drive Muslims from the party and into the hands of the Democrats. Consider the reversal in a few short years. When George “W” Bush rang against Al Gore in 2000, he took 70 percent of the Muslim vote. He even became the first presidential candidate to visit a mosque. Given the narrow outcome of the 2000 race, you could make the case that Muslims elected “W” president.
Eight years later, Muslims got the message. Barack Obama won 80 percent of the Muslim vote. McCain-Palin won 2 percent. The GOP continued its slide from 2004, from John Kerry took 70 percent of the Islamic vote (figures according to election results, Pew Research Center).
Peter Giftos, why don’t you send The Planet’s comments to the national GOP? Someone had better start listening, or you guys will be as cooked nationally as you are in the Bay State.
MORE GOODIES AWAIT TOMORROW, MY GOOD FRIENDS, AS THE PLANET CONTINUES TILTING AT WINDMILLS AND FURNACES ON ITS AXIS. LOVE TO ALL.