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