PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, AUG. 1, 2011) —  Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day, except on THE PLANET.

DON’T SHOOT ME. I’M ONLY THE PIANO PLAYER — Those tuning into “Good Morning, Pittsfield” either on the radio or TV this morning expecting THE PLANET’s guest appearance got music instead. THE PLANET showed up on time, but host Jim Campagna pulled a no-show. We took a call last night from our right honorable good friend, John Krol, asking up to guest for this morning. This last-minute, pinch-hitstuff happens on daily shows, as THE PLANET only too well knows. We happily obliged, but it wasn’t to be. All was not lost, however. We used our trip into Pittsfield to stock up on bird seed, suet, and sweet corn for the squirrels.

DIVA DUMPSTER DIVING — When Donna Todd Rivers, aka “The Downtown Diva,” took her show on WBRK, she spouted lots of big talk on how the show would be hard-hitting, address real issues, and inject some life into the broadcast seen. In fact, when the Diva came to THE PLANET for radio advice, we freely gave. In return, she promised that THE PLANET would be her first guest. That didn’t happen. Then, later, she said THE PLANET would be “a regular guest.” That didn’t happen. Then, she reassured on Facebook that after getting the hang of it, she would get away from the fairy dust chamber boosterism pabulum listeners heard in the first month. THAT didn’t happen. Looks like the Diva was all talk and not much else. We remind DTR that it’s not too late to change. Take on some real issues. Put those in power on the hot seat. Otherwise you will become just another pretty face layering on the schlock. That would be sad. Just a few more “and now, Joe Boil and Jane Fry join us to discuss the upcoming Rotary pancake breakfast” and you will become irrelevant, Diva.

DEBT CRISIS? YOU’RE KIDDING, RIGHT? — THE PLANET has said and written this all along. At the 11th hour, a miracle compromise would be reach on the debt ceiling crisis. Both sides would then rush in and claim they “saved the Republic.” What a bunch of sour mash. First, if you studied the officials statements of the President and his treasury secretary, no one ever said the U.S. would run out of money. They said the country would reach its limit for borrowing. Fact is, the Treasury’s own web site indicates enough cash on hand to fund the government’s obligations until at least Aug. 15. That includes making a $23 billion payment tomorrow (Aug. 2) for Social Security checks. Of course, the quick solution would be for the U.S. to devalue its currency and pay off debt in whole dollars redeemable at some predetermined fraction of their previous worth. The United States did that in 1934, when it devalued and redeemed notes from WWI debt at 40 cents to the dollar.

PITTSFIELD WATER TORTURE — It’s funny. One of two water department employees are involved in a six-figure theft of money via an ongoing overtime fraud. One of the suspects is allowed to leaves his job and gets hired to run another town’s water works. Neither the city nor the district attorney presses charges. Now, city taxpayers will have to swallow more foul liquid. According to reporting done in the July 14 issue of the Pittsfield Gazette, Pittsfield faces $24 million of emergency water improvements, a long-term bill of $32 million in upgrades, and $8 million to replace hydrants. Where taxpayers will come up with $64 million remains to be seen.

MARCHETTI HAS NOTHING TO SAY, YET — On this website, we pointed out the hypocrisy of Peter Marchetti’s stance regarding voters. He said Pittsfield voters weren’t adept enough to understand the issues involved in whether to build or not to build a new high school, but at the same time, he’s campaigning to these same voters for their support in his bid for mayor. We asked Marchetti for a clarification. Why are voters he deems not sophisticated enough to vote on spending to build a new school somehow mentally and civically equipped to cast a ballot for him, any anyone else, in the mayoral contest? He either answers this question straight up, or he shall have taken a bad first step in his corner office bid.

COP-A-CABANA — This ought to be good. In a little noticed moved at the most recent meeting of the city council’s ordinance and rules committee, members voted to reinstate Pittsfield’s police advisory commission (PAC). The PAC has been dormant for the past 11 years. The full council will get O&R’s endorsement, and it is expected to pass. Gee, do you think that Chief Mike Wynn and Mayor Jimmy Ruberto truly want ordinary citizens to share their honest concerns, such as the status of Steroidsgate, or do you think they want a rubber-stamp PAC to give the appearance of legitimacy to the PPD’s “business as usual”?

DOWNTOWN INKADINK. — Why are taxpayers funding this useless office? Is it to keep DINC president Peter Lafayette in the money? Is it to provide a lot of self-promoters their “name on the letterhead”? We don’t know, but we doubt DINK returns the $45,000 it receives from taxpayers. The city could trim this expense, and no one would notice, not even a mouse.

STAND UP AND BE COUNTED — The school building needs commission (SBNC) with city council endorsement does not believe Pittsfield voters are intelligent enough or important enough to offer their views via the ballot box on whether taxpayers should be stuck with a pricey bill to build a new high school. THE PLANET wonders: How do the individual members of the SBNC feel? And just WHO serves on that commission? Here’s the current list, from the city’s records:

School Building Needs Commission (up to 21), TERM EXPIRES

* John M. Krol, Jr. January 26, 2012

* Sally Douglas January 26, 2013

* Paul Raverta May 1, 2012

* Carmen Massimiano May 1, 2011

* Tricia Farley-Bouvier May 1, 2010

* Louis A. Costi, Councilor May 1, 2010

* Peter M. Marchetti January 26, 2012

* Floriana Fitzgerald January 26, 2012

* Patrick J. Mele, Jr. May 1, 2013

* Cheryl Bethel May 1, 2010

* John Barber January 26, 2011

* Ernie Fortini serves as long as qualified

* Kathleen Amuso serves as long as qualified

* Jake Eberwein serves as long as qualified

* Lisa C. Buchinski serves as long as qualified

* JoAnne Soules serves as long as qualified

* Keith Babuszczak serves as long as qualified

* Frank LaRagione serves as long as qualified

* Guy C. Pannesco serves as long as qualified

* Jessica Moon serves as long as qualified

* Stephanie VanBramer serves as long as qualified

* Barry Clairmont May 1, 2012

* Warren Dews, Jr. May 1, 2011

Are we then to assume that ALL of these people agree that the city should shut out voters and taxpayers on this important issue? Since Tricia Farley-Bouvier has spoken on behalf of the group, and since we have not heard otherwise from any of the other members, we shall assume so. We invite any commission member to disagrees with TFB to tell us.

FIXED, AND IT’S NOT EVEN BROKEN — Not wanting public input on the school seems logical enough, though, since the SBNC KNOWS that the overall public will tell them Pittsfield doesn’t need a new school building. The sorry state of Pittsfield public schools has nothing to do with bricks and mortar. It has everything to do with a lack of accountability. In short, this has all the hallmarks of a deal that’s already been decided … probably in the back room at Remo’s.






  1. Italian Voter
    August 1, 2011 at 8:33 am #

    Congratulations Dan ! This is truly one of your more insightful, honest, and germane posts. The city council ( with the usual two exceptions), the school building needs commission, and all the other various patronage commissions, commitees, et al, both public and quasi public; assume a pretentious position of superiority and demagogy that scoffs at the very constituents they alledgedly represent, the long suffering tax payers of Pittsfield.
    Peter Marchetti, obstensibly seems likeable, but his inital campaign promise to continue the policies and management of the current administration is cause for concern, not to mention his disrespect for the intellect and decisiveness of the voting public.
    What ever happened to government by the people, for the people ?

    • danvalenti
      August 1, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

      Thanks for the feedback. Your last question, of course, it the most pertinent. In the city of Pittsfield, “government of the people…etc.” exists only as a quaint memory, which the GOB says, seems hardly worth troubling about.

  2. concerned citizen
    August 1, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    I saw the city council meeting for which Peter Marchetti was speaking about the vote on construction of the potentially new school. I took his comments that a vote on the question at this point would not yield an answer of any true value. I may be in favor of a new school that offers the possibility of regionalization at a cost of $20 million dollars but not in favor of a school that costs $50 million dollars that is only intended to consolidate the educational needs of Pittsfield public high schools alone. Anyone who was worked with a software program that requires input information to yield an answer knows that garbage in is garbage out. I don’t take the comments of the councilors who voted against the specific petition to have the question on the ballot as a slight on the Pittsfield voters. I see their position as a matter of the vote, based upon current information available would not truly represent what the citizens will truly want. Certainly there will be outliers who are in favor of nothing at all, those who want a top of the line brand new school at any expense but if you asked me today to say yes or no on a new school I’d have a hard time producing any facts to justify either a yes or no vote. I hope this debate moving forward will ultimately be more about the facts such as actual construction cost estimates, realistic predicitons of our reimbursement rate from the state and the improvements to the educational programs and facilities. I enjoy this website because it stresses the need for arguement and debate based upon the facts. Hopefully as more facts become available the candidates can take a stand and be held accountable to that in debate.

    • danvalenti
      August 1, 2011 at 5:48 pm #

      Excellent, well reasoned post. well thought out. THE PLANET is indebted.

  3. Joetaxpayer
    August 1, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

    Facts are no matter how you slice it a new school will cost more money than a renovated school.Really dont need to have a study to figure that out.Reimbersment might make a little difference but would not make building new cheaper.Really would like to see a vote on one high school in pittsfield

  4. concerned citizen
    August 1, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

    @ Joetaxpayer, I agree that anything that comes forward from the SBNC will cost money. The question really is what is a better investment of those same dollars long term. If you could ask the city and state officials who approved Taconic high school back in the mid 1960’s that the project (building and construction methods) they were approving, 40 years later would be rendered in worst condition than a building the city currently owned that was over 40 years old, the decision would have been looked at again with either a greater investment put into Taconic or re-consideration of the need of the project. The other point I’d say is that we don’t truly know how much more the new construction would be than renovation and I emphasize the word more. More than likelythe dollar amount will be higher but I’ve heard figures of many millions of dollars invested in Taconic’s roof to have the same poor building in the same poor condition that we’ve just sunk additional millions of dollars that could have paid for a foundation for a brand new building that will meet and exceed current bulding and energy efficiency standards, we’re comparing apples to oranges. I pay taxes in this city and have seen my tax bills go up yearly and will be the first to admit I’m not happy with it. With such a large dollar value being considered either way for renovation or new construction I hope the due diligence process can provide more accurate informaiton before we’re asked to decide. It appears to maintain our accrediation we do not have the option to do nothing.

  5. beezer
    August 2, 2011 at 3:40 am #

    @c c… Although you have a couple of good points the rest is all rhetoric.

  6. Joe Pinhead
    August 2, 2011 at 5:07 am #

    I watched with great interest as it is often more important what isn’t mentioned or stated. There are all the valid points that have been mentioned about keeping the public out while the GOB’s cash in here but equally important is the lessons that can be learned and shared here.
    Example could a civics course comprised of students from both the high school and community college examine the process from start to finish to see how democracy is supposed to work?
    Is there nothing that could be learned from the budgeting and bonding process? What of the environmental concerns and process set up by the state? Is there nothing age appropriate to be learned? The planning etc this would be a once in a life time real learning experience for the kids to actually see first hand all of these things as they develop.
    Silly me wanting the City to do more than pay lip service to the kids in the schools everyone knows they cant vote, Right Peter?
    Or would the development of the above mentioned curriculum violate the work to rule arrangements?

  7. George H Rogers
    August 2, 2011 at 6:04 am #

    I followed the council meeting closely and was disappointed in both sides. The mazzeo side had a question that wasn’t well worded. They would have done better to have done their homework on this. It had the papearance of a last-minute thing, not well thought out. On the marchetti side, was disappointed that farleybouvier could be allwoed to set herself up as a spokesperson. On the list published of sbnc members, she isn’t chair. Though mr. marchetti should have been open to the idea of a vote but threw the question back to be retooled.

  8. Joetaxpayer
    August 2, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    @CC You make some good points.My feeling on the high school issue is we can afford to renovate both high schools or build one new one,just my thoughts