Article

300 RESPONSES TO PFD’s RELUCTANCE TO ACCEPT UNCONDITIONAL RANDOM DRUG TESTING SHOW TAXPAYING PUBLIC WANTS THOSE TESTS; FIREMEN out of touch WITH PUBLIC SENTIMENTS; plus … FLORES FANS 14, TIES CAN-AM LEAGUE RECORD AS RED-HOT COLONIALS GET 12th WIN IN 13 GAMES

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, SATURDAY, AUG. 13, 2011) — The firestorm over THE PLANET’s exclusive coverage of the inside details of the contract squabble between the city of Pittsfield and the Pittsfield Fire Department has elicted an avalanche of comment.

There have been nearly 100 comments on THE PLANET. In addition, we’ve probably received at least that many e-mails. These are from people who want input but don’t want to post. Phone calls and in-person reaction would probably add another 100. That’s roughly 300 views representing both sides of the issue.

City: Fire Department ‘Hemmed and Hawed’ So it Pulled Offer of 4% Pay Hike

That issue, to recap, is THE PLANET’s revelation that the city offer firemen a 4 percent pay raise. Two weeks later, it pulled the offer off the table for what city sources called the firemen’s union “hemming and hawing” over an “overly generous” offer, especially in these times of financial uncertainty. A source within the fire department — from whom information on the city offer came — said the PFD union balked at the quid pro quo: For the pay hike, the firemen would have to agree to random drug testing.

THE PLANET tallied from data, records, and memory the 300 responses. About 75%-to-80% of those who gave us their views favor random drug testing for firemen without conditions. Many also said they favored drug testing for police and, in fact, all public employees. Moreover, they feel the testing should not have to cost taxpayers. Several comments on THE PLANET made the same point: In the private sector, the “benefit” of submitting to drug testing is “keeping your job.”

Fire Department Letter Shows PFD Won’t Accept Drug Testing Unless Firemen Receive Pay ‘of Comparable Value’

The letter sent to THE PLANET by the acting fire chief and the union president of the fireman’s guild made it clear: They wold not agree to testing without getting paid. They wrote: ” … the Union is willing to entertain that notion [random drug testing], providing that something is offered that is comparable in value.”

The vast majority of our feedback expressed deep disappointment and anger over that position. It is clear to THE PLANET that voters would be extremely upset if the city gives in on this and provides “something that is offered that is comparable in value.” THE PLANET shall address this further on Monday when we formally respond to the letter of the fire chief and union president.

We will say, meanwhile, that EVERY man and woman seeking public office should declare as soon as possible in the campaign their stand on this issue. Taxpayers and the electorate demand a clear, unequivocal position: No fancy dancing, no “hemming and hawing.”

The question is: “Do you favor immediate random drug testing, with no conditions attached that would cost the city anything, for the Pittsfield fire department”? The follow up is: Do you favor such testing for all public employees, including elected officials”?

We The People demand answers. Thus far, only one candidate that we know of has made his position clear: Terry Kinnas, candidate for school committee. That alone wins Kinnas THE PLANET’s endorsement.

Every Candidate for Office Must State His or Her Position on the Testing Issue, Not Because THE PLANET asks but Because WE THE PEOPLE Demand.

Incidentally, Kinnas favors such testing, but that’s not why THE PLANET is endorsing him, We endorse Terry Kinnas for being accountable to the electorate by responding to our question, which we asked earlier. Candidates can get away with much this early in the campaign, but once we hit September, voters will demand answers. They are sick and fed up with politics as usual, which is PHONY politics.

So, where are the rest of the candidates beside Terry Kinnas? Before the calendar turns to September, THE PLANET wants to hear from everyone. Wrath and brimstone will be heaped on any candidate what doesn’t respond. That includes all candidates for city council, school committee, and mayor — ESPECIALLY Dan Bianchi, Peter Marchetti, and Joe Nichols.

———————————————————–

FLORES DOMINATES IN WIN

By CHAD COOPER

Special to PLANET VALENTI Sports

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Miguel Flores tied a single-game Can-Am League record with 14 strikeouts and the Pittsfield Colonials scored four runs over the final three innings as the Colonials matched their season high with their sixth consecutive win, a 5-2 victory over the Brockton Rox.

The win was Pittsfield’s 12th in their last 13 games.

After Brockton tallied a run in the top of the third inning on an RBI groundout by Keith Brachold, Flores struck out Trey Hernandez to end the inning. Pittsfield tied the game on an Angel Molina ground-rule double in the bottom of the frame.

It was then that Flores (3-8) started to rack up the strikeouts. He fanned two in the fourth and whiffed the side in the fifth to push his total to eight. After getting out of the sixth inning with the help of a double play ball, the righthander struck out two batters in each of the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings to tie the single-game league record.

Flores nearly set a new record when Rox catcher, Chris Grossman, checked his swing on a 1-2 pitch with two outs in the ninth, but the appeal to first base was denied. The 14 strikeouts also vaulted him into the league lead with 88 on the year.

The Colonials provided Flores with the offense he needed in the sixth with a two-out rally that saw Peter Fatse single in front of Chris Torres’ third homerun of the year to give Pittsfield a 3-1 lead. The Colonials would add single runs in the seventh and eighth on a single by Fatse and a groundout by Jerod Edmondson to push the advantage to 5-1.

Brachold would homer in the ninth to create the final margin.

Julian Sampson (7-4) took the loss for Brockton. Cruising through the fifth, Sampson ran out of gas in the seventh, ending with 6.1 inning, giving up four runs on eight hits.

The second game of the Brockton series comes up on Saturday at 7 p.m. with a battle of veteran righthanders on tap. Chad Paronto (7-5, 4.10) gets the start for Pittsfield against John Kelly (0-0, 1.29) for the Rox. For tickets or information visit pittsfieldcolonials.com or call (413)-236-2961

38 Responses to “300 RESPONSES TO PFD’s RELUCTANCE TO ACCEPT UNCONDITIONAL RANDOM DRUG TESTING SHOW TAXPAYING PUBLIC WANTS THOSE TESTS; FIREMEN out of touch WITH PUBLIC SENTIMENTS; plus … FLORES FANS 14, TIES CAN-AM LEAGUE RECORD AS RED-HOT COLONIALS GET 12th WIN IN 13 GAMES”

  1. for Pittsfield
    August 13, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    This story is one of the most important that will be published this year because it comes just before the campaign gets going, The pfd contract is where taxpayers have to start drwing a line in the sand. We can’t keep paying the outrageous benefits the teachers, fire, and police have won from us. This time to politicians must listen to us.

  2. Richard
    August 13, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    Dan I understanding that they want to get paid more for taking a drug test. Is that correct and if so are they serious? After what just happen at the Police Department No question it needs to be mandatory for all departments.

  3. San Simeon
    August 13, 2011 at 8:20 pm #

    Agree. MAndatory testing, no give backs in return. The Planet has captured the mood of taxpayers and voters perfectly in this piece

  4. Jim Gleason
    August 14, 2011 at 8:34 am #

    People like to complain about benefits and pay for Fire and Police, that is until they need them for themselves or family members. These guys do an awesome job and deserve e very penny and benny they get. I’d like to see these complainers put their asses on the line for others for 1 month, then their stories would change drastically.

    • Joe Pinhead
      August 14, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

      Jim,
      While I can understand your emotion that’s all that it is emotion. Not that emotion is a bad thing but it leads one to think from only that vantage point. Where would the Fireman and Police officers be if we didn’t live up to our parts in the private sector? Producing say; protective gear? Or building the squad cars? Not to mention paying taxes into a system that allows for a fund that they can draw from?
      Some of us who don’t have our ass’s on the line as you say are the very people that do so everyday. Example I was part of a team that designed, developed and implemented a digital cardiac catheterization system, others develop the medicine each of us counts on to either make life better or possible. Jim if we don’t get it right each time we go to market we get our ass’s sued off and rightfully so. I would say our ass’s are on the line each and everyday we know that society is interdependent upon each of us doing what we can.
      It appears it is the public sector that sets up and plays the class warfare game. While I will not attempt to diminish the contributions that fire fighters and police officers put into society, I would not expect that anyone else would diminish the contributions of those of us picking up the tab either.

      • danvalenti
        August 14, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

        JP
        Another great post. The police for firemen play this “we risk our lives every day” angle to the hilt. Everyone who does a job has his or her derriere on the line. As you say, we don’t diminish the contributions of cops and jakes, but we also will not inflate them or pretend they are doing anything more or less valuable than any other workers who’s earning his keep. Glad you’re on the side of the law.

        • Joe Pinhead
          August 14, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

          Just in case anyone is wondering according to the US department of labor, Police officer is number 12 and Firefighter is 13 as far as danger goes.
          http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2010/04/08/the-20-most-dangerous-jobs.html

          • Teacher
            August 15, 2011 at 10:18 am #

            Pinhead, so your data indicates that out of the hundreds of thousands of dangerous and life threatening jobs in the United States, police officers and firefighters just miss the top ten? Did your profession make that list, or Valenti’s, or even mine for that matter? Would our professions be included in the top 1000? Top 10,000? It goes without saying that we are invaluable members of our communities, and that the country would cease to exist without us, and those like us, who contribute to society each day in ways too numerous to mention. It takes all of us, as cogs in the wheel, to make this world go ’round. However, I believe Mr. Gleason is saying that the police officers and firefighters LITERALLY lay their lives on the line whenever they are required to do so. You and I do not. While that is certainly the nature of the job that they chose to do, please don’t minimize their commitment or even begin to suggest that you can put a dollar figure on someone’s life. By the way, which professions would have topped the list in 2001? How soon they forget.

        • Real Deal 2
          August 15, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

          Dan and pinhead, while it’s true that not every call or situation the police and fire department respond to is a life or death situation, the fact is, they do respond to situations you and I don’t. Dan, you complain about no police officers walking the beat on North Street to run off the dregs from “Hobo Park,” why don’t you do it? Or form a volunteer security walking detail to clean up North Street. Pinhead, while the work you did saved lives and is invaluable in the medical field, I’m willing to beat you worked in a cool, sanitary, office like environment? Have you ever had to wear fifty pounds of gear in 90 degree weather or the freezing cold? Probably not. You both had the opportunity to become police officers or firefighters back in the day. You chose not to because of choice, criminal record, or maybe your both scared of your own shadow and realized that it’s job your not cut out to do physically. I do agree that all public officials need to have mandatory, random drug testing-much like the US military does. Dan, when are you going to take your drug test and post the results on-line?

          • danvalenti
            August 15, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

            RD2
            It’s not my job to police Hobo Park. That’s the job of the Pittsfield Police Department.
            I chose to be a writer, broadcaster, and teacher because that’s where I found my calling.
            We find common ground in your agreement that “all public officials need to have mandatory, random drug testing, much like the U.S. military.
            I shall take a drug test and post the results when I join the Pittsfield Fire Department.

        • Jeffrey Turner
          August 16, 2011 at 8:51 pm #

          Yeah, Dan once got a paper cut. That was before all his writing was online. Too funny, Dan. I see Buddy even let you write about the Clownials losing again. You’re such a valuable citizen of Stockbridge.

      • Jeffrey Turner
        August 15, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

        Joe,

        You’ve got fine Walter Mitty tendencies. You should complain to your employer if you’re not paid enough to live on. Why do the wimpy whiner’s always want to take out their frustration on folks who are just trying to make a decent living?

        • Joe Pinhead
          August 17, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

          Well I see we read what we want not what’s written as I said I am not diminishing the contributions of anyone. I also will not diminish the contributions of those that decided upon different pursuits. Yes there is a whole big world out there and thankfully we live in a society that we get to choose what to do with our lives. Yes I have worn 50lbs of gear in both 90 degree weather and subzero weather. Try chemical warfare gear for 2 week periods on the Korean peninsula in both Febuary and July.
          Have you spent 8 years in the armed forces overseas real deal? Or should I pose your statement to you? “You chose not to because of choice, criminal record, or maybe your both scared of your own shadow and realized that it’s job your not cut out to do physically.” Or would you not pass the drug test?

          • danvalenti
            August 18, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

            JP
            Once again, your logic prevails.
            THE PLANET also salutes your tour of duty with a TEN-hut!!

  5. Jim Gleason
    August 14, 2011 at 8:37 am #

    I agree that all public employees should be required to take ramdom drug tests. How about people getting up in arms about welfare recipients not having to take drug tests for their checks or cards? That is a huge problem in Pittsfield and the country. Any comments on that?

    • Dave
      August 15, 2011 at 4:42 am #

      Yes Drug test for ANYONE who receives public money. And while we are at it, if you are on welfare, no new babies, no alcohol, no new tatoo s or piercings.

  6. Jim Gleason
    August 14, 2011 at 8:38 am #

    Sorry, random drug tests for welfare checks.

  7. San Simeon
    August 14, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    Yes, Jim G, I do have a comment on that in that I agree about drug testing for welfare recipients. That’s only fair, it’s our tax dollars. Also agree with you on all public employees facing random drug testing. I hope the candidates are listening to the people on this, I will not vote for any candidate who doesn’t take a position. I will not vote for any candidate who takes a position and opposes drug testing for all public employes.

  8. A Vet
    August 14, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    As a veteran I can say we had to submit to testing and I was glad to do it because I was clean. In my unit, tests cuaght several dead beats. Every guy who was clean like me welcomed the tests and every guy who bitched and moaned “used”, so this is the evidence that can’t be denied. In the unions letter, it makes it sound like the firemen dont want testing. To me, as a honest hardworking taxpayer, thats a hue proble,m. ALsi I agree with San simeon above about my vote. I wont give it to anyone who wont support testing.

    • Jeffrey Turner
      August 15, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

      We know you sign away your Constitutional rights when you go into the military. You also have some very high-powered weaponry. The rest of your whining is just prurient interest and too much time on your hands. Get a job.

  9. beezer
    August 14, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    Random checks for fire,police, and welfare recipients? Why stop there? Why not senators,congress,mayors, city clerks, counilcors talk show hosts ,grant takers, Big corporate billionaires like Citi Bank.

    • Jeffrey Turner
      August 15, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

      And bloggers.

  10. Beezer
    August 14, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    ..has anyone noticed that Obamass plan to tax the rich and not give to the rich has not succeeded. He has given to the rich and tax loopholes are still in place for the wealthiest.

    • Jeffrey Turner
      August 15, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

      Er, that’s because the Republicans insisted on it. You probably get your news, er propaganda, from Fox, right?

  11. edconnect
    August 14, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    Anyone with a drivers license should be subject to a random drug test? Who wants crazed drug addicts driving OUR tax funded streets?

    • Jeffrey Turner
      August 15, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

      I was wondering where the Gestapo retired to.

      • edconnect
        August 15, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

        Jeff, that was an attempt at sarcasm. But see where these guys on this board are heading? I always thought Dan was for FREEDOM.

        But does everyone here know that random drug testing for employees “without cause” is illegal in Massachusetts? Random drug-tests are limited to “safety sensitive” positions.

        What is a “Safety Sensitive position”? Massachusetts has not defined “Safety sensitive positions” but the federal courts have found that the following positions are “safety sensitive” such that random drug testing should be permitted: a) air traffic controllers; b) aircraft maintenance personnel; c) railroad safety inspectors; d) highway and motor carrier safety specialists; e) lock and dam operators; f) heavy equipment operators (e.g., forklift, tractor and crane operators). However, federal courts have held that Department of Energy employees whose jobs included driving cars and vans containing documents and Department of Agriculture employees whose jobs included driving shuttle buses, mail vans, and cars, DID NOT occupy “safety sensitive” positions.

        The city asking for “Random Drug Testing” may actually violate Massachusetts labor laws.

        Again if you want to change the LAW petition your lawmakers!

        • danvalenti
          August 15, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

          ED
          You are correct. Massachusetts has not defined “safety sensitive position.” We can, though, apply common sense. If the position of fire and police are called “public safety” jobs, we can reasonably assume they are “safety sensitive positions.” As for the federal courts, you are right: The feds defined some jobs as “safety sensitive” and other not. But you need to tell the entire truth. The only reason they didn’t define police and fire as “safety sensitive” is that the United States has no National Police Force (even though we are a national security state) or National Fire Department. The feds dom however, employ every job category you mention. Nice try.

          • edconnect
            August 15, 2011 at 8:44 pm #

            Dan

            we could go back and forth on this for days. I’ll just say this. The FBI does NOT have random drug testing. They are sort of an national police force also national park rangers are not randomly tested AFTER employment, also there are numerous federal fire departments, but whatever.

            Federal Laws do not really pertain here. Massachusetts laws are what really matter. Oh yeah and remember a little thing called the 4th amendment?

            Like I said in the above post. Want to change the LAW? Petition the lawmakers. Dan you know some theater, a little baseball but you must have been sleeping our HIGH during civics class.

  12. Shakes His Head
    August 15, 2011 at 10:44 am #

    JP again states a valid point. Although police officers and firemen do not daily find themselves in life-threatening situations, the possibility of danger exists- and they are compensated appropriately for it. If the union(s) or management wanted to get to the nitty gritty, they would release the compensation and overhead rates of comparable communities. They don’t want to do that because then they would be exposed on how firemen ‘work’ fewer hours.

    If the City/union wished to explain how the FD works to lower the community’s insurance rates through participation in a nationally accredited program like ISO’s Public Protection Classification system.

    I happened to be at a firehouse over the weekend and they were remarking how bored they were but thankful they didn’t have anything to do

  13. A Vet
    August 15, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    Shakes His Head, Right on! The firemen work 2 48-hour shifts. They hgave the other 5 days off. On those two days, 16 go for sleep (8 hours rest these growing boys need). Actual “work” week: 32 hours. Of those, AT LEAST half is downtime, nothing to do time to kill. So let’s give them 16 hours of work per weel.And you wonder they taxpayers are hot. Aldo, where are teh other candidates on the planet’s challege. Only Terry kinnas has responded on his view on drug testing for fire dept.

    • edconnect
      August 15, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

      A vet:

      Why would it matter if half of their time is “downtown”

      The lights are much brighter there
      You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares
      So go downtown, things’ll be great when you’re
      Downtown – no finer place, for sure
      Downtown – everything’s waiting for you

      Don’t hang around and let your problems surround you
      There are movie shows – downtown
      Maybe you know some little places to go to
      Where they never close – downtown
      Just listen to the rhythm of a gentle bossa nova
      You’ll be dancing with him too before the night is over
      Happy again- downtown

      • danvalenti
        August 15, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

        ED
        The “Vet” e-mailed THE PLANET to say he meant “down time.”
        The webmaster will make the correction. Great song, though.

        • edconnect
          August 15, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

          Oh now I get it. down time, not downtown. Did he e-mail you and tell you the hidden meaning behind this:

          >>>>And you wonder they taxpayers are hot. Aldo, where are teh other candidates on the planet’s challege. <<<

  14. beezer
    August 15, 2011 at 1:32 pm #

    Thanks Petula!

  15. Jeffrey Turner
    August 15, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    12 of 13 against the worst teams in the league. Ho hum. Eventually they have to play decent teams – like Brockton.

    Have there been problems with fires not getting put out? Where’s the beef? Nothing new about a bunch of voyeuristic losers running Pittsfield – or reading Valenti’s mewlings – but I haven’t seen any reason to worry about the competence of our firefighters.

  16. San Simeon
    August 15, 2011 at 5:00 pm #

    TURNER That’s because there are no fires. These guys let’s face it get paid for practically nothing. Typical Pittsfield call: kids playingwith matches, or drunks fighting at Pepe’s. Who are the voyerusitic loser you are referring to, btw?

    • Jeffrey Turner
      August 16, 2011 at 8:44 pm #

      You’ve probably been drinking too much to notice the fires reported in the Eagle. The Planet doesn’t bother with such trifles, and only reports about kids putting their fists through windows. Ah, all the important stuff we learn from Valenti.