QUICK HITS & FUNKY BITS: PROMGATE, TAX CHEATS, HATHAWAY FOR MAYOR?, & CITY TAXES ARE GOING UP 100% (IT’S NOT A JOKE)
By DAN VALENTI
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, JUNE 15, 2011) —Quick hits and funky bits:
* PROMGATE — Funny how $10,000 of school money is stolen, drugs and booze are consumed inside of PHS, and the building is vandalized, and the apologists for this crime eagerly dismisses this as high school hijinx — you know, boys will be boys, and “Aw, it’s Prank Night. Let the children have some fun.”
The children. Bartender, gimme a Bromo, please.
Trevor Benson has hidden from this. The School Committee has hidden from this. The mayor has hidden from this. Chief Wynn has hidden from this. Jake Eberwein has hidden from this. There have been no arrests despite a million clues and a gaggle of informants who can NAME NAMES. What, is The Planet the only place capable of doing 2+2 detective work? Do we know whodunnit. Uh, maybe is all we’ll say.
Promgate, in short, is a microcosm of a peculiary Pittsfield virus called non accountabilitus vitam, or “There’s no accountability in life at this location.” That. my dear friends, is why the city flounders. The disease, which first appeared in mild form during Ed Reilly’s comatose term, bloomed into a full-blown pandemic under Gerry Doyle and Barroom Politics. Sara Hathaway’s two-year stint as battlefield nurse couldn’t keep up with the rampaging virus.
TAXES, BUT ONLY FOR SOME — My grandparents, immigrants from Austria and Italy, came here, got a foothold into the American Dream, and paid taxes. My parents, as solid a couple as you would want to meet, pay their taxes as well, on time and every penny. They’re 90 years old. The Planet pays our unfair share — every penny. So don’t you just love it when you learn how much goes uncollected by the chiselers and bums, the goldbrickers and freeloaders, who consume public services but do not contribute. These are the scofflaws.
The city of Pittsfield entered this year with $3.1 million of property taxes NOT COLLECTED. You think $3.1 million would come in handy?
The tax amnesty program, which allowes delinquents to pay up with no penalty, yielded just over $331,000 during the four months of the program (February through May). That there’s amnesty to begin with is an insult to every property owner in the city who pays on time. That 89% still remains uncollected — roughly $2.8 million — is an outrage times ten.
The salt poured into the taxpayers’ open wounds stems from the casual approach and attitude by city officials. Sue Carmel, the in-over-her-head treasurer and finance director, said the failed amnesty program left her “a little disappointed.” Peter Marchetti, who chairs the council’s finance committee, told the BB’s Dick Lindsay, “Anytime we collect what is owed to us is a success” (11% is a success?!). Mayor Jimmy Ruberto went even further, acting as if all the money had been paid. Like Marchetti, he ignored the 89% NOT collected and focused on the 11% received, saying, “We are pleased …”
There’s nothing to be pleased about. Fact is, the city is owed almost $3 million by deadbeats. The city knows who they are. It knows where they live. The city has all the weight of law on its side. It’s missing only the will to “get ‘er done.” The solution? Go after the deadbeats, and hard, demand payment, and tell them of the immediate consequences that shall rain down on their heads like Thor’s hammer should they keep ignoring their responsibility as citizens. Don’t accept: “It can’t be done. It would cost too much. We don’t have the resources. The sun got in our eyes” or any other flimsy excuses officials give for not collecting these taxes. As long as the city accepts 11% as pleasing, it makes suckers out of the good, honest people who do the right thing. It’s time the city begins rewarding the good people and not the bums.
HATHAWAY FOR MAYOR? — On Facebook, there’s a new fan page whose purpose seems to be to convince Sara Hathaway to run for mayor again. The Planet has found out that the page was put up without Hathaway’s knowledge. Our source, who is in position to know, expressed that Hathaway was “f***ing outraged” when she found out about the page. Interesting, though, that Hathaway has not declared herself OUT of the running. On the surface of it, a Hathaway candidacy would appear to be an attempt to sink Marchetti. The Planet suggests, though, that should Hathaway run, she would be eminently electable.
WHAT PROPOSITION 2-1/2? — Mayor Ruberto has submitted a municipal budget to the city council of more than $129 million. To put that into perspective, it wasn’t so long ago, in a galaxy not too far away, that it cost $60 million to run the city. Two major culprits are the cost of health care and the over-generous benefits packages the city has with the Big Three unions (teachers, police, and fire). Officials have for years failed to address these issues, and as a result, the city has an UNFUNDED pension and health care liability to its workers and ex-workers of $331 million (figure is from the state taxpayers’ association. See The Planet’s Archives, posts from Feb. 25 and Feb. 28, for the full discussion. On the toolbar at the Planet’s homepage, go to blog then click on “archives” on the yellow toolbar just below it).
Ruberto’s spending plan works out to be a 4.39% tax hike for the average, single-family property owner. It’s worse than that, though. Once they city gets done counting everything, every bean in the jar, the average tax hike for that typical owner is 4.97% — let’s call it 5%. The mayor says the budget “is consistent with the values we have” — whatever that means. All we know is that 5% is two times greater — 100% greater — than 2 1/2 percent, the phony tax “ceiling” imposed by Swiss-cheese law.
The winner of the mayoral election will be the person who pledges to put an end to the persecution of Pittsfield taxpayers, who addresses the ungodly pollution still left in the ground by General Electric, who comes clean with the finances and particularly the $331 million UNFUNDED liability that is the taxpayers’ ticking time bomb, who will get close to every penny owed by tax dodgers, and who can clean-up and make safe the downtown (aggressive foot patrols that get rid of the drugs, the violence, and the scum).
THAT’S ALL FOR NOW, FOLKS. MORE LATER, SO STAY TUNED. AMONG THE LATER REPORTS ON THE PLANET WILL BE THE STORY OF THE COLONIALS’ DOUBLEHEADER IN NEW JERSEY.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.