COP CAPERS, or “A DOWNTOWN CROSSING” … plus MARCHETTI CAMPAIGN COMES TO LIFE, FIRST IN TO ANSWER PLANET’S DEBATE CHALLENGE … BIANCHI THUSFAR A NON-RESPONDER
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, SEPT. 30, 2011) — Where don’t know where, but the time sure is on a jet plane. We just welcomed summer, it seems, and here we are, doing the Romeo and Juliet balcony scene with September. it has been a good, often soggy, month in many respects. We put one book to bed (Jerri Chaplin’s Vertically Coastal), began our latest composition class with a new platoon of privates, got away to an deserted island for a week, made lots of smoothies, witnessed two elections, and went to a rodeo.
YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK, BREAKING THE LAW
On Wednesday, THE PLANET fearlessly ventured into the unchartered wastes of downtown Pittsfield. Knowing there might be women and children aboard, we shall save the colorful details for when the gentlemen retire to the library for cigars and brandy.
We shall, however, share one of our tamer adventures, this occurring at the corner or North Street and Orchard, where all manner of exotic flora and fauna, creatures and critters, wander about in broad daylight. To make a short story short, THE PLANET needed to cross the street. Why? Because we needed to get to the other side, west to east. We ran into The Chicken there, by the way.
Let’s be clear, as the witness with whom we traipsed can testify in any court of law, that we pressed the “cross” button before attempting such a daring maneuver. We waited briefly. The red “don’t walk” icon turned as white as the GOB and PITTSFIELD BELIEVER did when they learned of Tuesday’s results. We also shall remind the color blind that the crosswalk at that location is painted the most horrid shade of cheap red one could want short of a maroon pillow in a marooned brothel. In short, the trip appeared safe as safe as an ocean crossing. Ask the Titanic how it worked out.
Lo and behold, as THE PLANET and guest got about ¼ of the way into the walk, a Pittsfield police cruiser, lights NOT flashing, ran the red light, ignored the crosswalk, and had the old “I’m Above the Law” cop-look, a method of distinction, as my dear friend Ambrose Bierce might put it, so cheap that steroid-choked fools employ it to accentuate their many incapacities. We do cut the musclehead some slack, of course, since he may have been on an emergency call — nothing as serious as a run to Dunkin Donuts — but certainly in the “need to get to my afternoon delight” category.
We smiled, wish the fellow well, and presented the left forefinger (forefinger, mind you and none other) in the “J’accuse” manner. THE PLANET will next time make a citizen’s arrest.
HOW MANY COPS DOES IT TAKE TO WATCH A BACKHOE?
The answer to that Eternal Question, my dear friends, depends on where you are. If you are in Stockbridge, Mass., Newburyport, Mass., Woodstock, Vt., or any other civilized outpost, the answer is “zero.” If you are in downtown Pittsfield, the answer is “five.” Technicians will demand that we make this distinction: four cops and one sheriff’s deputy, each looking both official and bored out of their gourds.
Except for the female officer — who was busy watching a beefy construction worker pound a metal stake into the ground — the five were “employed” scratching themselves, yakking on cell phones, surfing the Internet, chatting with workers, and otherwise oblivious to the traffic driving by in need of instruction or the pedestrians trying to figure out how to walk North to South in the one block from Fenn Street to where the old Pittsfield Sporting Goods used to be located, a million years ago, when there was life and limb downtown.
We didn’t count the law enforcement donut team on the other side of the street. Our calculator doesn’t count that high. Massachusetts is the only state in the union that allows cops to become crooks and legally rip off taxpayers this way, on construction details. The costs hit the taxpayer indirectly, of course, since the Barney Fifes bill the contractors, who happily take that fee and tack on 20% for the project, for which the bedraggled tax-paying public must pay. Such unnecessary “make work,” as we all know, solely enables cops with base pays of $60,000 to end up making twice that amount.
While skate boarded and bikers run down passengers, while drives ignore pedestrians and pedestrians deny motorists, while drug dealers deal, and while decent citizens fear for their lives on the mean streets of downtown Pittsfield, there’s not a cop ever in sight. Yet when there’s a hardhat and a shovel, the entire force gathers to talk on their cell phones, sip their coffee, and eat their donuts. Is that why the police is an armed force created for the participation in crime?
MARCHETTI FIRST TO ANSWER DEBATE CHALLENGE AS CAMPAIGN SHOWS SIGNS OF LIFE
THE PLANET giddily reports that first to accept our challenge of a still-to-be-defined series of debates between Peter Marchetti and Dan Bianchi — should any occur — is …
Drumroll, doctor …
Pete. Yes. Late Wednesday night, Pete got in touch electronically to say he’s in. He was also the first of the two candidates to say yes to Bill Sturgeon’s invitation to debate on WBRK. We took that as a sign of life in what was, in the prelim phase, a moribund Marchetti campaign. THE PLANET wrote in light of his nearly 700-vote finish to Dan Bianchi that if Pete wanted a realistic chance on winning and not whining in November, he would have to change course and tactics.
Our goal is simple: To help bring out whatever latent and inherent fire Marchetti has inside and help him apply that to the campaign. We believe he’s got such fire in the belly. We just haven’t seen it yet. The mayoral race, Finals Division, will be the perfect time to gamble and let loose. THE PLANET believes in Pete’s ability to do that.
Marchetti’s blanket acceptance, no questions asked, indicated that he might have seen the light. THE PLANET believes we haven’t seen “what’s inside” of this man, politically. His long years on the council haven’t convinced us one way or the other about who he is at the core. We suspect he’s different than the indecisive man who in public meetings seemed afraid of saying boo to any GOBs or special interests. One had the impression that he said boo only upon getting orders.
Personally, we have had a number of discussion with Peter since April. Both of us let the defenses down and talked to each other openly and frankly. THE PLANET, and THE PEOPLE, want to see THAT person become the politician. We want, in other words, the man to become the politician, and not the politician becoming the man.
No word yet from the Bianchi campaign on what they’re thinking.
THE PLANET throws this out in the toss-up round: Wouldn’t it be interesting to have a series of forums, say two a week one-hour apiece, with the two men? Each could be in a different location, covering different topics, with a mix of media coverage. One night we cold hold the forum on stage at the Little Cinema. The next time, we gather in a restaurant.
A television or radio studio, a school classroom, auditoriums, Park Square, street corners — Anywhere could suffice. We could experiment with different times of the day, days of the week. THE PLANET is willing to be creative and flexible. We only insist on final say with any arrangements. We shall also need help from both campaigns, interesting organizations, or volunteers from the public, to help coordinate the arrangements. With our unforgiving schedule, we have almost zero time to spend on logistics. We are willing to serve. Let’s see what happens.
We wish both campaigns well.
TOMORROW, THE PLANET PRESENT A GUEST COLUMN THAT RAISES INTRIGUING QUESTIONS IN THE TRIPLE MURDER CASE. YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS WHAT IS SURE TO BE AN EYEBROW RAISER. UNTIL THEN …
… “OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE!”
LOVE TO ALL.