Bumpouts and Self-watering Planters Disastrously Perfect for Clueless Pittsfield … plus … The War on Drugs is Over; We Lost … and … Guest Writer Raps ‘Smitty’ on Pot Bill
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY,OCT. 25, 2011) — THE PLANET’s discussion of the bumpouts so foolishly incorporated into the alleged re-vamping of downtown Pittsfield has generated much comment, both on the site and off.
As we explored yesterday, the bumpouts will eat up 20 parking spaces, they have the snow plowers up in arms, they reduce the street’s vehicle lanes, create a disproportionately wide sidewalk that will be more difficult to maintain, especially in winter, and will add to the already mismanaged curbside snow-removal. Now one of our Adams commentators informs us of another unintended side-effect: wider turn radii for busses.
Because of the bumpouts, busses will have to execute much wider left turns, as happens in Adams. Our source says the bumpouts force busses into the right hand lane, resulting in backed-up traffic. Apparently, the design approval team thought this combination of ill-effects were just what the downtown needed for continuing revitalization.
One comment yesterday brought up another aspect of the inept plan: self-watering planters. When workers did the initial excavations, THE PLANET and others couldn’t understand what the long, rectangular, concrete reinforced trenches were for adjacent to curb and lane. They had complicated channels, wire management systems, water pipes, equipment punch outs, and other doo-hickies. The elaborate mechanisms will house the maintenance system for self-watering the plants contained, we think (this is Pittsfield, remember?) above ground.
Apparently for the city, watering by hand wasn’t high-tech enough. They couldn’t send a water truck around with water and fertilizer, they way it used to be done. That wasn’t good enough the 21st century downtown Pittsfield. THE PLANET knows from our rudimentary experience with household plumbing at VILLA VALENTI that the more complicated the hydro system, the more maintenance is required, at a more costly rate, with a greater chance of break-down problems.
Taxpayers should take solace in knowing that their hard earned money — the bucks they now try to manage among the competing middle-class responsibilities groceries, fuel bill, prescription medicine, insurance, cost of keeping vehicles on the road and the like — will go for such nonsense.
At the mayoral debate last night, the TV reporter-cum-moderator asking the questions failed to press the candidates on their view of the bumpouts and planters. The moderator missed other opportunities as well, trying to squeeze safe questions into a fast-moving hours. Example: Not content that his first question of the meeting was of the softball variety (dealing with the city’s website), he continued with a follow-up question. Neither man, by the way, addressed the single most important problem with the archaic and user-UN-friendly city website: Lack of e-mail addresses for city employees.
THE PLANET shall have more on the debate tomorrow, along with Jeff Ferrin’s concerns about a bill filed by State Sen. Ben Downing. Ferrin addresses an issue that involves two stories that THE PLANET broke locally: Cranwell and Patrick’s Pub caught withholding millions of dollars in tips from waitstaff.
DON’T BOGART THAT JOINT, MY FRIEND, BUT DON’T PASS IT OVER TO ME
Drugs should be legalized.
A lively discussion yesterday about the rampant drug problem in Pittsfield prompted this assertion from a full-throated PLANET to a less-than-receptive audience of badges and blue legs. Funny thing is — while we do not use, enjoy, recreate with, or otherwise inhale, ingest, or imbibe any illegal substances — we know that at least several in the audience did. We were kvetching to the choir.
LEGALIZING DRUGS IS ‘THINKABLE,’ OPRAH
Oprah Winfrey once did a show on the “unthinkable” proposition that drugs should be legalized (attorney Alan Dershwitz used the word ironically to blast the premise of Winfrey’s show). However, we ask: “What’s so ‘unthinkable‘ about freedom? If we uphold the notion of personal liberty, which THE PLANET does, and we subscribe to the attendant requirement of personal responsibility, which we do, then why not legalize drugs? What is it about freedom that we so fear?
Do we even know what “freedom” is anymore. Freedom is not license. It’s not “Do whatever you wish.” “It’s do what you wish, and own up to the consequences.” Freedom can be understood through the proposition: “You own yourself.” Perhaps at some other time THE PLANET will share the enormous implications of such a personal philosophy.
Pot, cocaine, LSD, heroin, and other recreational drugs (RDs) can be classified in the same way as two other far-more dangerous, lethal, and legal products: cigarettes and alcohol. If those two killer products are legal, it logically follows to grant the same legal status to RDs.
“Crime” is a legal concept and nothing more. The problem, though, is that lawmakers, almost all of whom are politicians, are incapable of having a serious discussion about RDs. So, apparently, are talk-show hosts. They abandon reason and logic, ignore the data, avoid the philosophical dimension, and perpetuate the foolishness of the utterly wasteful “War on Drugs.”
Keeping drugs illegal creates the thriving black market, rewards drug kings with untold money, puts ordinary, decent people in jail needlessly, and flies in the face of most everything for which this country stands: “one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.” We won’t even bring up the overwhelming commercial case to be made for the hemp plant.
The “War on Drugs” — the phrase alone elicits laughs and invites scorn. War? Send in the gyrenes. Poison the poppy fields, beautiful flower though it is. Throw those teen users away for life for sneaking a joint. Or one can adopt the delightfully idiotic solution championed by the synthetic Nancy Reagan of “Just say no.” We saw the enemy, and we were it. We lost that war, long ago, creating an inverse relationship: the harder we tried to stamp out drugs, the more lucrative we made the trade.
YOU CAN LEGISLATE ‘CRIME’ BUT NOT MORALITY
Since the Nixon Administration, each U.S. president has endorsed this obtuse war. The strategies have been as preposterous as they have been expensive.
Under Bush and now Obama, drug warriors have tried to curtail the exporting of drugs from Columbia, Peru, and Bolivia — the Golden Triangle of drug producers. The task is logistically impossible and morally hypocritical. In Columbia alone, the drug lords employ 140 private armies. These paramilitary units operate with the best equipment and the highest training. There’s so much money in drugs that such mercenaries routinely make six-figure salaries. That buys a lot of loyalty. Billionaire drug lords have bought off judges, police, army, generals, and public officials.
Fact is drugs are simple to manufacture or grow, straightforward to process, and easy to smuggle. The arrest and incarceration rates for drug offenses are up greatly in two decades, and despite that, the rate of use and abuse is higher.
· Mind altering substances will always be in demand.
· Laws do not deter users, especially addicts (see: “Prohibition”).
· Morality cannot be legislated.
The solution is both comprehensive and simple. Legalize. Instantly, drug profits go up in smoke. The black market disappears. People will have the same choice as they do with cigarettes or booze: They can use or not use, and if they use, they can do so responsibly or irresponsibly. The government can get in on the windfall, regulate the industry, and provide a safer society (with or without the help of the private sector).
The criminal justice system will see relief from drug-case overload. Police can get back to the business of fighting true crime. The war on drugs will finally be won.
With that, we present this guest commentary on a related subject. The author criticizes State Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli (D-4th Berkshire District) for the legislator’s efforts to re-criminalize possession of smarts amounts of marijuana under certain conditions.
We remind our readers that when THE PLANET publishes guest essays, it doesn’t necessarily imply endorsement of the commentator’s view. We aim to serve as the conduit for all reasonable views from all qualified observers.
SMITTY ‘UNDERMINING THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE’ ON MARIJUANA STANCE
By JONATHAN MELLE
Special to PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
William “Smitty” Pignatelli is undermining the will of the people by sponsoring legislation that would gut 2008’s Question 2 that removed criminal penalties for possessing an ounce of marijuana.
H. 477 filed by Representative Pignatelli seeks to re-criminalize possession of an ounce or less of marijuana if captured on school, youth center, or community center grounds. Does the legislator want teenagers to once again receive a criminal history and possibly go to jail?
I found the news story at the following web link:
The author of the news story concludes: “What I know for sure is that when making such proposals they are not adhering to the fundamental principles of our government founded upon the consent of the governed and those of justice, moderation and frugality, absolutely necessary to preserve the advantages of liberty, and to maintain a free government.”
By this action, Pignatelli shows himself to be an undemocratic politician. He voted for top-down Speakers (now convicted felons) Tom Finneran and Sal DiMasi. He has come out in opposition of sunshine laws that would subject the state legislature to open meeting laws and accountable governance. Now, Pignatelli is undermining the will of the people who voted to decriminalize possession of an ounce of marijuana. He wants teenagers to have a criminal history and possibly go to jail for possessing an ounce of marijuana. That is wrong.
THE PLANET thanks Jonathan Melle for his article. We encourage contributions send to this address.
EXIT, SELF-OWNING ALL THE WAY, STAGE RIGHT …
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.