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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.

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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: “Whats 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 wont 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. Theres 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.

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GUEST ESSAY

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 legislators 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 doesnt necessarily imply endorsement of the commentators 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:

www.tauntongazette.com/newsnow/x1872804044/Guest-Opinion-A-regulated-marijuana-market-is-better-than-a-black-market

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.

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EXIT, SELF-OWNING ALL THE WAY, STAGE RIGHT …

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

TJHIS

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19 Responses to “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”

  1. Just Saying
    October 25, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    DV-

    I’ve done my share of plowing snow, business lots and residential. The new North Street appears to be a nightmare for those tasked with snow removal.
    Self watering planters? Really? Pittsfield has nothing else to spend their money on?!

    Pignatelli wants to over turn the voters choice? Typical pol. These people forget who they work for. They are employed by the voters. Most of these self serving asses should be run out of town on a rail, tar and feathers included.
    I personally do not use ‘pot’, however, if a person wishes to that should be their choice.
    The coke and heroin are another story. As a Libertarian, my first instinct is to say these also should be legal.
    However, having seen friends addicted to these substances, I must tell you, they are horrible, disgusting things. A little weed never hurt anyone. But some of the others lead to a person destroying their life. This is one tough issue.
    If these substances were in fact legal, the violence on the streets would subside somewhat. The taxpayer wouldn’t have to fund all of the DEA and police efforts put into controlling sellers and abusers.
    But what about the human toll? The lives ruined by addiction? Many more would opt to use hard drugs if they became legal.
    I have no solution, but seeing the destruction of lives because of addiction makes a person truly hate these substances.
    One belief I do hold is that the Federal gov. Should stay the hell out of it. Let each state regulate or not regulate ‘drugs’. The regulation of substances is not provided for in the Constitution as a power of the fed. Therefore it falls under the Tenth Amendment for each state to decide.

    • scott
      October 25, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

      “The taxpayer wouldn’t have to fund all of the DEA and police efforts put into controlling sellers and abusers.”

      That’s the point our judicial system has become big business at the expense of the tax payer. They pass these laws to keep the money rolling it’s only in their best interest.

  2. hilly Billy
    October 25, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

    There won’t be any more lives ruined by heroin, coke etc. than there already are. As a libertarian, JS, you should realize that it comes down to choice. People who ruin their lives drinking alkie or smoking ciggies make the choice to destroy their lives, too. They risk it anways, the way drug takers do. Not everyone who takes H or coke gets addicted, most do. Personal choice. Hurts no one except the person and family, friends etc. Can’t make a law to change that so free it up. Im totally with Planet.

    • scott
      October 25, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

      Yeah I don’t think I’d rush out and buy a needle kit and some heroin if it became legal tomorrow.

      • hilly Billy
        October 25, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

        Exactly. Scott, you get it, man. The best.

  3. Just Saying
    October 25, 2011 at 7:02 pm #

    HB-
    I agree with most of what you say. On an intellectual level you are right on.
    However, I do see a mental barrier imposed on some people by the illegal status of certain drugs. (As you say, it is a choice), but I also am not blind to the abuse of drugs by the young. Perhaps by keeping certain drugs illegal, we as adults can influence the teens to avoid the despair and violence of addiction. Look at how the 21 age for alcohol consumption is working. Not very well. It is easy to say we should limit by age who can consume certain drugs. In the real world it does not work.
    I have no problem with an adult enjoying a little “recreation” now and again. But most can’t do it here and there. It becomes a lifestyle. I’ve seen it, I’ve seen the death involved with it. When I was younger, I would have backed you and DV up 100%. But I’ve buried too many.
    Should it be criminal to use? No.
    Should it be criminal to sell? Yes, it should be, as long as the majority of voters deem it so.
    If the voters reject criminal penalties for selling, ok, I won’t say a word about that. I will only attempt to save as many as possible from the eventual downfall they will suffer if they abuse cocaine and heroin.

  4. hilly Billy
    October 25, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

    Just saying
    I respect your view and I’m sorry for the pain you’ve suffered. Your a good man.

  5. Jonathan Melle
    October 25, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    Re: Smitty PIGnatelli’s response?
    Dan Valenti shared my email about Smitty PIGnatelli’s proposal to re-criminalize marijuana that targets youths with criminal records and jail time. I would like to hear a response from Representative Smitty PIGnatelli about his sponsoring legislation that would harm the futures of teenagers with legal sanctions. I cannot contact Smitty PIGnatelli because he blocks all of my emails. I think the power went to Smitty’s big head!

    • Ray Ovac
      October 25, 2011 at 11:21 pm #

      JM, is the ad hominem attack on Smitty Pignatelli necessary? DV publishes your guest column, then you blow it by childish name-calling. Charles Bronson’s succinct line from ‘Hard Times’ comes to mind: “Dumb!”

      • scott
        October 26, 2011 at 3:45 am #

        He’s a good writer but [REDACTED] I think he was park of Pittsfield’s MKULTRA program back when GE was in town and Carmen was sheriff.

        • Steve Wade
          October 26, 2011 at 5:16 am #

          Scott [REDACTED] thats why he fits in with Mr Valenti!

        • Barbara Cianfarini
          October 26, 2011 at 11:31 am #

          Scott-
          Could you explain what “MKULTRA” is? And *who* is “a good writer” but part of MKULTRA?

          • Dave Bubriski
            October 27, 2011 at 2:47 am #

            good question

  6. scott
    October 26, 2011 at 3:45 am #

    *part

  7. Yaz
    October 26, 2011 at 6:08 am #

    Steve Wade you have again proven how small and idiotic you are. Valenti proves his mettle again, you prove your jealousy of hium.

  8. Dave Bubriski
    October 26, 2011 at 11:34 am #

    Dan stated: we do not use, enjoy, recreate with, or otherwise inhale, ingest, or imbibe any illegal substances.

    Come on Dan, I know that on a recent trip to NYC you ate foods fried in illeagle trans fats and then you lit up a cigar in illeagle proximity to a restaurant:-)

    • danvalenti
      October 26, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

      DAVE
      Yes, it was in front of “21.” We had their fried hummingbird tongues. Outside, we were smoking 5 Vegas Gold torpedos, maduro as black as coal and sweet as rivers of chocolate.

  9. Dave Bubriski
    October 26, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    Can anyone tell me offhand what the legal consequence a minor could encounter if the minor in question possessed alcohol on school property. Isn’t school property what the Smitty bill deals with in relation to pot?

  10. Just Saying
    October 26, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

    Scott-

    Nice call on the MKULTRA. People aren’t aware of all the little “operations” our government likes to run.
    Garden Plot, Blue Beam, Agenda 21 etc, etc, etc. Maybe some will look into these matters now that they know of them.