THE PLANET RAISES A SLEW OF QUESTIONS: IN PITTSFIELD, ASKING ONE QUESTION IS TOO MANY BUT ASKING ‘TOO MANY’ IS NOT ENOUGH … ONLY THE PLANET DARES TO ASK
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, AUG. 3, 2011) — In Pittsfield, it’s considered bad form to ask to many questions. The rulers who secretly call the shots in their tavern-like kabal call questions “uppity.” The proper behavior for The Little Guy is to keep his mouth shut, pay his taxes, and agree that “everything’s hunky dory.”
Fortunately, The Little Guy — Joe and Mary Jane Kapanski — has The Planet. Our list of questions goes on an on, and here we present a mere few:
* Won’t you at least give Mayor Jimmy Ruberto credit for opposing the contract of hiring Kristen Behnke as new school department budget chief? Taxpayers will be required to present Behnke with a first-year salary of $85,000. There’s a salary “reopener” that kicks in after two years (salary hike all but guaranteed). Ruberto stood alone on the school committee in voting against this phat-cat compensation package. Plus, GET THIS, the school committee is giving Miss Kris 25 vacation days, 20 sick days, and an unspecified number of “personal” and “bereavement” days.
* Which leads to this question: Should the city provide unlimited “bereavement days” to taxpayers, who are perpetually in mourning at being stomped into the ground by the Haves?
* Tricia Farley-Bouvier, a candidate for 3rd Berkshire District representative in the upcoming special election, has taken a leave of absence. Is this a paid or unpaid leave? Taxpayers want to know.
* Who’s excited to be getting a BJ’s club coming to Hubbard Avenue later this year?
* Who thinks a skateboard park is the best possible use for the former tennis courts on East Street and Appleton Avenue, across from PHS? That location has been turned into a drug-riddled trash heap, so how long do you think it will be before the new park will be in the same shape? Thusfar, the denizens of that lot have not called to mind a striking resemblance to a Normal Rockwell painting of the Boy Scouts’ manual.
* Who besides THE PLANET wonders what became of the two investigations into Steroidsgate at the Pittsfield Police Department? Into thin air such dreams do pass.
* Who besides THE PLANET wonder what consequences, if any, came as a result of the boneheaded decisions by the PHS principal and vice-principal that led to Promgate and the theft of $10Gs from a teacher’s desk?
* Isn’t it amazing at how such recklessness, of which these are mere represetatives, bears no consequences in the Land of Benigno Numine?
* This is another way of asking, “Wherefore art thou, accountability?”
* Where are the police foot patrols on North Street? Has there been one since 1958?
* Can the heart of downtown get any less inviting, with empty storefronts, trashy streets, road construction, and — most of all — a daily population of s-c-a-r-y people that seems as if it’s straight out of a zombie movie?
* If the question formulated by 36 registered voters calling for placement of a non-binding, informational question on the November municipal ballot was so poorly worded — “Do you support the school building needs commission’s decision to build a new high school in Pittsfield?” — why didn’t any of the objecting officials (councilors, members of the SBNC) rewrite it rather than simply reject it out of hand?
* When Tricia Farley-Bouvier made a recent appearance on local talk radio, why wasn’t she asked about the fact that two of her children attend Lenox public schools, not Pittsfield public schools?
* Could the maintenance department under the direction of Greg Yon have done a better job at Beloved Wahconah Park this year, keeping the field in the greatest possible shape? This is the only question THE PLANET will answer: “No.” Great job by Vinnie Barbarrotta, Tony Stracuzzi, and company.
* Has Chris “No Show” Speranzo reported yet, even once, for his new job as clerk magistrate in Central Berkshire District Court?
* Did someone leave an upturned tack on No Show’s chair?
* Does No Show honestly think he’s earned or will receive an ounce of professional respect at his new job, given the circumstances surrounding his taking possession of it?
* Does the Pittsfield Public Schools’ food allergy policy include a ban on feeding the taxpaying public a continuing crock of how great the schools are, when $3 million worth of school choice has left the building?
* If the Pittsfield schools are so zippity-do-dah, as officials like to keep reminding the taxpayers, why are parents taking their kids out in droves?
* When it comes to the city’s schools and the $60 to $70 million spent on them each year, don’t you wonder, “That’s all we get for the money”?
* Why is there the sneaking suspicion that school building needs commission’s $200,000, consultant-driven “feasibility study” on possibly building a new high school to replace Taconic High School is window dressing to cover up the decision already made in secret to go forward with the project, regardless of the finances or circumstances?
* Why is there already talk, in the gas-filled back rooms, about which contractors and vendors will be awarded the lucrative building work?
* Why did my right honorable good friends on the Pittsfield city council approve without discussion — WITHOUT DISCUSSION — the Pittsfield Police Department’s rules and regulations? Wouldn’t that have been a good time to discuss the consequences of certain policies, or better yet, inquire as to how well certain rules are enforced? Steroidsgate, anyone?
* Why didn’t the Boring Broadsheet or local radio news and talk make more of the objections of four councilors — Christine Yon, Mike Ward, Kevin Sherman, and Melissa Mazzeo — to the bloated $130 million city budget?
* Didn’t Mazzeo make THE pertinent budget point: “We [the council] didn’t do anything. It’s unacceptable. [The budget] could have been cut by a lot”?
* Wasn’t it also a flicker of wonderment and hope when Sherman asked why the city was using federal grant money to fund salary hikes? Of course, no straight answer would be given by the city.
* Why on earth and how in heaven could the council have passed a budget that included nearly across-the-board pay hikes at the same time taxpayers struggle to find two pennies to rub together at the end of every month?
* Why doesn’t WBRK’s Downtown Diva decide on relevancy over worrying about making everyone “love her” on her radio show? Doesn’t she remember the line from the Ricky Nelson song, “You can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.”
* And doesn’t the Diva’s ownership in a downtown business call into serious question her ability to be honest in here discussions about the “bankability” of Pittsfield?
* How interesting will it be to see mayoral candidates Peter Marchetti and Dan Bianchi set the course of Campaign ’11? Each will be trying to dictate the pace of the game and define the rules of engagement, but only one will be able to pull it off. The one who does becomes the next mayor.
* How many citizens know that, in addition to the nearly $130 million municipal budget approved by my right honorable good friends, city councilors OKd the borrowing of more than $9 million? That’s $9 million more in interest on debt that taxpayers will have to service.
* Does Joe Nichols have a shot of displacing either Bianchi or Marchetti to survive the mayoral primary?
* If the November showdown for the corner office is between Marchetti and Bianchi, how does Marchetti survive the Nichols’ prelim votes, most of which will probably go to Bianchi?
* Yes, she’s lost her last three elections, but isn’t it something to admire in Pam Malumphy taking another shot at office, running as an independent for state rep?
* Can Mark Miller draw on his strong showing against No Show and be a force in the state rep special election? Miller’s party label — Rainbow-Green — will turn some voters off, but if voters actually listen to each of the candidates, they will find him the most knowledgeable and thoughtful about his positions. If this race is about the best qualified to represent 12 of Pittsfield’s 14 precincts in the General Court on Beacon Hill, then the next rep should be Mark Miller.
* How much of a red flag for the city’s economy is it that nearly one third of its workforce is employed either by health care or social service? Welfare does not a renaissance make.
* Why isn’t the Larded Lout No Show being billed for the $40,000 he’s costing Pittsfield taxpayers for bailing out of his job as state rep for the old stab-in-the-back that landed him in a $110,000 a year lifetime post with the courts?
* Who else in Berkshire County dares to raise questions like this but THE PLANET, Voice of The Little Guy?
ENOUGH QUESTIONS FOR ONE DAY, SO …
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE!”
LOVE TO ALL.