STRATEGIC RESPONSE TEAM: NECESSARY OR NEEDLESS? POLITICIANS, DECIDE! plus, Red Crosswalks, Fishy Jail House Audits, Sherman’s Misstep on Charter Review, and KK: Call a Press Conference
BY DAN VALENTI
Do We Need the Strategic Response Team, or Is is an OT Scam of Guys Playing Rambo? That’s Just a Question, by the Way.
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MAY 14, 2011 ) — The question will be among the top this campaign season, so candidates had better begin doing research now: Does Pittsfield need a Strategic Response Team, a.k.a., a SWAT team? There are sources within Pittsfield Police Department who claim that the SRT is simple the vehicle through which some officers can feed at the public trough with massive amounts of OT, being paid for members to train and even to sit around and do nothing but wait for the calls that never come.
How much does this team cost? Where does the money come from? Where does the money go? What is the demonstrated need, specifically, for this team in the bucolic town of Pittsfield? How many crises have the SRT handled? What would be the effects if the city does not have such a team.
Candidates for political office need to have a position and convince us of their view based on the facts. Of course, one would expect law enforcement brass to say yes to this, even if SRt is a toy and an excuse for guys to play Rambo. Therefore, we can’t take their word that it’s needed. Anyone who advocates for the SRT, given the boatloads of money this is costing, need to demonstrate on the facts, not on the what ifs or the speculative.
History is the science and study of events that only happen once and are never repeated. Politics is the science and study of events that happen over and over again. Does this explain why the city has such a team? The Planet will let you work through the logic on your own.
Crosswalks are Red, My Love, Violets are Blue
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MAY 14, 2001) — Don’t you love the snazzy new burnt-red crosswalks in Pittsfield? The Planet doesn’t. Crosswalks need to be visible in a prominent way, which is why they are painted. The shade of red might look good in daylight, but under artificial lighting, they all but wash out and become invisible — a combination of the shallow angle of the driver’s line of vision with respect to the plane of the road, the nature of artificial light, AND the steep angle the light beams travel to the paving.
Light behaves in a predictable way, and in fact is one of the few physical constants of the quantum world. You don’t have to be Einstein, though, to see that under the lights, the red of the crosswalk turns purt-near invisible.
Only in Pittsfield
In the Boring Broadsheet, Tony Dobrowolski reported that the mayor in consultation (of course) with Der Wunderbarrett decided on red essentially because it was a pretty color. By some form of anti-pedestrian logic, Mayor Jimmy Ruberto also decided that this shade of red fit the city’s 250th anniversary? Huh? Is that any way to run an airline or a DPW department. The Planet had to laugh at the way the newly hired DPW chief thought the mayor picked the most fabulous, terrific, colossal color in the History of Mankind. Right. And it couldn’t be that the guy was kissing up to his new boss, could it? The color’s A LOUSY ONE!!
Only the city of Pittsfield would choose the color of its sidewalks for such silly reasons. Other towns go for safety first, and the #1 safety color for this type of public use is the shade of green Stockbridge uses for their just-painted walks. The color is a specially formulated shade meant to work in day and especially at night.
Only in Benigno Numine. That is why, friends, I shall remain a Pedestrian.
Two Days After The Planet Questions the Jail House Audit, the Boring Broadsheet Comes to the Rescue. “Why, Everything’s Hunky Dory,” the Establishment Claims. “Just Trust Us!”
And did you notice how fast it took for the Boring Broadsheet to get out the “news” that, by golly Suzie Bump, state auditor, completed her exhaustive weeks-long audit of the county lockup, known for 30 years as Carmen’s Holiday Ranch. It came in record time just two days after The Planet reported on questions being raised by staffers at the jail.
We called upon Sheriff Tom Bowler to conduct a management audit (a.k.a., a forensic audit) to determine how bad or good Carmen left the joint. We tried to contact Bowler five times, and received not one hint of interest. But Sheriff Tom runs right to the BB to “leak” the good news. In other words, he gave the BB a golden shower.
The Jail Needs a Forensic Audit from an Independent Source. A Math Audit from Suzie Bump Doesn’t Satisfy Us
From Bump’s statements and from sources at the jail who say they participated in the methodology, Bump did an accounting audit. THAT’S NOT THE KIND OF HONEST AUDIT BERKSHIRE COUNTY NEEDS. WE NEED A MANAGEMENT AUDIT.
Here’s the difference. An accounting audit simple checks the math. If the books show you spent $250,000 for ping pong balls, and the math adds up, they it says everything’s great. A management audit will check the math, but then it asks: “Hmmmm, why would the sheriff’s department spend a quarter million bucks on ping-pong balls?” So it checks, and it finds that, in this hypothetical, the ping-pong ball supplier is best friends with the sheriff. If then asks, “Gosh, did the sheriff get a kickback”?
UNTIL SHERIFF TOM BOWLER CONDUCTS HIS OWN INDEPENDENT MANAGEMENT AUDIT AND MAKES THOSE RECORDS PUBLIC, THE PLANET SHALL CONSIDER THAT HE’S SHORT ONE ON FULFILLMENT OF HIS CAMPAIGN PROMISES.
We also call upon the sheriff to release every page of the Bump audit, online.
Tom Bowler ran on a platform of transparency. Now is the time to prove it.
The story in the BB shows how quick the Newspaper Formerly Known As The Berkshire Eagle will please its GOB masters. The Planet was the sole reason for the page one story, with huge picture. We raised questions. The word got out: “Run a story saying all is great.” Bingo. Done. Corruption as a way of life in the public institutions of Berkshire County and Pittsfield are such a way of life, We The People will not believe anyone’s word. We want the documents so we can check the facts ourselves. Then again, that would mean we have to trust there are only one set of books.
Call for Charter Review is a Misstep for Kevin Sherman and Not Good for We The People
Melissa Mazzeo submitted one of the best petitions of the council’s term when she sought to cub the mayor’s ability to name “acting” appointments as a way of circumventing council oversight. Ward 2 councilor Peter White had an excellent amendment, which would cub the mayor’s power but give him or her the ability to make 180-day one-time “acting” appointments. But no. My Right Honorable Good Friends could listen to common sense and reason. Instead of getting this on the books, councilor-at-large Kevin Sherman wants to fold the “acting” legislation into a charter review.
Wrong idea. The review will take months if not years to complete. It’s not to say a review should not be done. In the abstract, Pittsfield citizens should examine its constitutional charter and see if it’s dated or if it can be improved. Of course, the catch is: This is Pittsfield. The Planet can tell you right now: The charter commission will be stacked with political hacks and GOBs. They will write new legislation that would make the Civic Authority look like springtime.
Sherman’s move is a rare misstep for the man. He read the tea leaves, but incorrectly. Rather than support Mazzeo’s common sense approach, for some reason he decided to go procedural on us. The move doesn’t add up, politically, that Sherman would be the one to propose this. The matter needs to be closely watched during the campaign. What and who are truly behind Sherman’s march to a charter review?
Planet Urges Kris Knutson to Call a Press Conference. If He’s Got Something to Say, Say it Then, and There
A poster by the name of Kris Knutson has made on this site and other online sites sensational charges relating to this time as a law enforcement officer in Berkshire County, including time as an employee at the county jail. He says he used steroids and implicates others as well.
The Planet calls upon Knutson to take his information public via a press conference to which all area media — print, radio, TV, cyberspace, smoke signals, etc. — are invited. He can make his statements publicly. We can then ask questions. Until he takes such a step, he will continue to be marginalized by others. Knutson can send The Planet an e-mail with his decision.
We have made the decision to remove Knutson’s posts. The Planet will not become the “throwaway forum” for charges that are this serious. If Mr. K calls such a press conference, we will attend and we will cover it thoroughly. We will not allow further posts of the nature of Mr. K’s Topix posts. The Planet will rest. If Mr. K wants to continue in that vein, we know there are other such forums. Ours will no longer be one that this particular matter (and only this matter).
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES. NOW ONTO NEW ONES.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE”
LOVE TO ALL.