!!ANOTHER PLANET EXCLUSIVE!! MORE CLUES IN THE GREAT PROM ROBBERY; DID Ofc. QUETTI LET 200 KIDS INTO PHS AFTER HOURS?
BY DAN VALENTI
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, JUNE 2, 2011) — The Pittsfield Colonials are on the road to Quebec to take on the Capitales in a four-game set. Meanwhile, the Mysterious Case of the Stolen Prom Money yields more clues.
Colonel Mustard, in the Classroom, with the Master Key
Yesterday, The Planet broke the news that PHS students were let into the school building after hours Wednesday and into Thursday last week by PPD officer Russ Quetti. This lapse in judgment made possible the theft of $10,000 raised by the junior class to pay for the senior prom (the Boring Broadsheet still continues to publish the incorrect figure of $9K). That means that those who are getting their news on this grand theft are getting the real story. Those who are getting the BB are getting fish wrap.
Unbelievably, under the principalship of Trevor Benson, the money was locked in a teacher’s desk drawer in a PHS English classroom. There’s a safe in the principal’s office, but it wasn’t used to hold the money. It defies logic and all good faith to understand how so-called responsible adults could be that cavalier with such a large sum.
It’s all well and good that Benson now promises better security in handling funds now that Mr. Ed has left the stall, leaving Wilbur to close the barn door. However, his promise to handle money in a better comes about $10 grand too late. If this is not evidence that Benson is over his head as top dog of Pittsfield’s flagship school, we won’t look for any substitutes.
The Planet has learned the following NEW information:
* There were as many as 200 kids in the building on the night/morning in question, participants in “prank day” by seniors. This information comes from one of the speakers at last night’s school committee meeting. A Mr. Austin, who has a child in the PHS junior class, wanted to know why his child should be punished because of this theft. He’s referring to the planned junior Class Day at Six Flags Amusement Park, which has been canceled.
* Quetti’s decision to admit the student after hours violated a number of school committee policies dealing with safety, access, and other rules.
* The Planet has learned that the money was held likely longer than one night in the desk drawer of a teacher in the English Department. That would shoot down Benson’s excuse for not depositing the money in the school safe. There was plenty of time. The principal claims multiple calls to deposit the money presumably by the teacher were not answered by administrative personnel. Why? He didn’t say. If the money was there for days (and nights), it only adds to the level of stupidity and the justifiable outrage by the rest of us.
* We have also learned that the classroom in question is not protected by videotape security. Sources do not know, and authorities have not said, if the locks on the classroom door and the lock on the desk drawer were broken. We do have an unconfirmed report from a reliable source who says there was no forced entry.
As Always, Lots of Questions
The episode leaves us in a familiar place when it comes to the corruption that routinely goes on in Pittsfield. We have lots of questions.
— Who has accountability for the violation of school committee polices. What will be the consequences?
— How can an experienced officer like Quetti let one kid, let alone 200 according to Mr. Austin’s claim, into a school building after hours?
— How can one officer possibly secure the building after letting 200 kids inside, past midnight, on prank day? Did it not occur to Quetti that maybe he was taking an unwise risk?
— Did anyone authorize Quetti’s actions? If so, who? Michael Wynn, the police chief? Benson? If not, then what are the consequences for Quetti for making a bad, unilateral, policy decision?
— If the classroom is not videotaped, and if the locks were not broken — both of which seem to be the case — does this not indicate an inside job?
— Who has master keys for the building? Who has the master key for all the classroom doors? That will provide one custom-made list of suspects.
— Was the money all cash? Officials have been strangely silent on that point?
— The two most important and consequential questions deal with culpability. The immediate culprit is the thief or thieves if there is more than one. It doesn’t take Lt. Tragg of Homicide or Sam Spade to figure that out. But beyond the robbers, there are others who aided in this crime, albeit innocently. At minimum those others include Quetti and Benson. Will there be accountability? What will be the consequences, if any?
The $500 reward being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction is a good idea. There are people who know whodunnit. One of them needs to step forward, if not for altruism and the common good but for the money.
Stealing then a Request for More Security $$: Oh, the Irony
Meanwhile, a delicious irony occurred during the public hearing portion of the school committee meeting last night, when they took up the bloated school department budget. Incidentally, the schools are asking taxpayers for $52,484,497 (not counting transportation and health insurance costs). That’s a whopping 68% of what it takes to run the entire city ($76,852,967). Anyway, during the hearing — in which citizen watchdog Terry Kinnas was the only citizen who spoke — Kinnas questioned the portion of the budget document labeled “Strategic Investments.”
These are items such as “academic coaches,” “middle school deans,” “attendance support,” “juvenile resource center,” “counseling services,” “assessment systems,” and “security enhancements.” You got it: a lot of navel-gazing items to enable students to “feel good about themselves” while they continue their journey into the academic dumpster.
Kinnas asked a great question: What do these items cost (there are 20), and what’s the return? The document doesn’t say. Hmmm, wonder why.
But notice that item “security enhancements.” Isn’t it ironic that the school department is presenting this to the school committee in the wake of the magnificent level of stupidity shown by all with responsibility in the Great Mysterious Prom Money Robbery.
The simple solution to the mess caused by the theft, of course, is to cancel the prom. They are for show and not for go, anyhow. They only sucker parents into forking over way too much money so their kid can play at The Royal Wedding. And truth be told, many parents are doing it for themselves trying to relive their faded youth. Ah, but what is solipsism for? We end on that preposition.
STAY TUNED FOR MORE GREAT COVERAGE OF THIS AND A WORLD OF OTHER STUFF ON THE PLANET.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE”
LOVE TO ALL.