PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, DEC. 15, 2011) — Another day, another injury at the Folly Skatepark on East and Appleton in Pittsfield. Sometime yesterday, a 12-year-old kid without a helmet wiped out on a skateboard while attempting a maneuver well above his skill set.

Result: Hyperextended elbow, concussion, and a couple lost teeth.

We have no further comment, except to wonder: When is the first lawsuit coming?


MOLLY Has the Answers

One of THE PLANET’s most astute and exacting commentators, Molly, yesterday posted a most remarkable statement. It amounted to an essay, and it answers several of the hot and outstanding questions this website has dared to ask recently. We have a figure of the “substantial” contribution that Berkshire Health Systems makes in lieu of taxes. We find out many other things on other topics. Here’s what MOLLY posted:


December 15, 2011 at 12:59 am # Edit

There have been a “few” questions on here lately that have remained unanswered. The one that has been asked the most and remains unanswered is “what is the ‘substantial’ payment in lieu of taxes that BHS paid to The City Of Pittsfield?

BHS (or just BMC): A Whopping $118,000 ‘doantion’ in lieu of taxes on a tax value of $3,644,422

According to the FY12 City Budget (Line Item Budget – I FINALLY found it!!), on page 18, under “Estimated Local Receipts”, there is a line item entitled “Payment In Lieu Of Taxes” with an amount of… drum roll please! … A Whopping $118,000. Here’s the link: There goes the credibility of Steven Colbert!!!!

So I went to the new property assessments that were recently released and I can only find “Berkshire Medical Center” – there are no listings for Berkshire Health Systems. (Question for everyone – where can I find the names of the 26 Corporations that are under the BHS umbrella?) [EDITOR’s NOTE: YOU CAN FIND THIS LISTING IN THE PLANET OF DEC. 2, 2011] So for just BMC, the properties listed there have a total assessed value of $118,398,760. At the 2011 Commercial Tax Rate of $30.95 per thousand, the amount of tax they would owe, if not “tax exempt”, is $3,664,442.00. And they gave a “substantial donation” of $118,000. Remember, this is JUST Berkshire Medical Center and does not include the other corporations (Hillcrest Commons, Greylock Extended Care, on and on).

[EDITOR’S NOTE TWO: THE $118K payment on a tax assessment of $3.664 million amounts to three-tenths of one percent. Hardly “substantial,” which is how BHS characterizes their “donation” to Pittsfield in lieu of taxes. This is a tax dodge, pure and simple. And legal. Remember, there’s two sets of rules: one for Them, and one for the rest of you unwashed masses.]

Pittsfield Property Taxes to Rise — Again

Speaking of taxes, did I miss an announcement that our property taxes are being raised AGAIN this year? The new rate is $16.18 per $1,000 (up from $15.19) and the new Commercial rate is $33.70 per $1,000 (up from $30.95).

REALLY???? Again?? This is according to the FY12 City Budget (page 19 on the above link). Perhaps this will still need to be approved by the new mayor and the new city council? I have NOT seen this at all – I was shocked! Can anyone shed any light on this?

Also take note of the new school budget on page 23, of $63,548,902. Didn’t Dr. Eberwein tell us that it was $52 mil last year? Plus the $15 mil Maintenance/Insurance and $15 mil in grants, plus the $7 mil I forgot from where bringing it to $89 mil)? Yet the FY2012 City Budget is listing a School Dept. Budget of $63.5 mil??? Up 11.5 MILLION? Everyone should take a look at this budget – but be prepared and have a barf bag close by!!! Oh – by the way, using the new commercial tax rate of $33.70, the amount of tax BMC would owe would be $3,990,038 (the better part of FOUR MILLION DOLLARS). And again, this is JUST BMC!!!!

Hey, School Department, Guess the State Doesn’t Like What You’re Doing as Much as You Do

Speaking of the School Department, Dan has asked a few times (the last time on Dec. 1st) where the State’s Review (Level 3 District Review of the Pittsfield Public Schools) is and what were the results? I found this as well and it is not nearly as complimentary as what Dr. Eberwein made everything seem to be in the PPS Annual Report!!! Here’s the link to the state’s review (can’t wait for Dan to read this and then comment on it!!):
Even the numbers don’t seem to be the same as the PPS Annual Report, or maybe it’s just me and my sorry memory. Here’s the link to the PPS Annual Report for reference:

Going After the “Not For Profit’ Tax Dodgers

I was glad to see that Dan still thinks that the City of Pittsfield can do something about these “not-for-profits” and perhaps start collecting some of those tax dollars!! Personally, I’m not convinced, but I do like his optimism and perhaps he is right since as I said in my post, somehow the city of Boston was able to strong-arm them into paying something (but then they didn’t end up doing it?? What?? Some politician get in the way of that or what? That sure smells of something rotten!)

Somewhere I found (I’ll look up where tomorrow and let you know) that the Tax Exempt Organizations in Pittsfield have a total income amount of $626,248,800 and a total asset amount of $719,226,484.

Not only are they exempt from property taxes, they are also exempt from income taxes (state & federal). Just going through all of these organizations and finding the ones that should not be tax exempt, on a national level, could sure help close the deficit in a hurry!!! And for the property taxes in Pittsfield, I just cannot beeeelieve that they get away with this crap and now the city is raising our taxes yet again? I am SO LIVID!!!

Does anyone see a reason why Carr Hardware & Supply Company would be listed as a “tax exempt company” on both and I also happened to see that the Dakota Restaurant has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and that one of their debtors is Carr Hardware. And in this document, the Dakota Restaurant (Pittsfield DWH, Inc. – Sirloin Saloon) lists Carr Hardware as a tax exempt company. Hard to believe – I’m so hoping that there is an error somewhere.

Skaters Away, Like Gulls at Play

As for the skate park, how can a sign that reads “use at your own risk” be a legal thing when you are dealing with kids? How many 14 and 15 year old boys go out riding their bicycles and go to the park without their parents knowing? Probably most. There are so many people out there just waiting for an opportunity to sue someone whom they believe has money and I guarantee you that there will be lawsuits against Pittsfield.

There’s no one there to enforce them wearing helmets, or being aggressive and wiping out the little kids, etc. I drove by there today and was stopped at the red light on the corner and watched these little kids (like 6 or 7 years old) on their little scooters about to get absolutely creamed by the bigger kids.

Especially for them I was thinking, “where are your parents? You’re about to get hurt pretty bad!” I actually couldn’t watch as when I was, I wanted to roll down the window and yell to them “watch out!” I can’t believe the money we spent on that, and also the money we’re spending on The Common, so that the drug dealers will have a nice place to sell their drugs!

What parent today allows their kids to go to The Common alone anyway? I went to parks as a kid, but that was an entirely different time and there’s no way that I’d allow my kid to go to a city park alone today – even if the city spends millions making it “pretty”! And yes, I agree – the skate park WILL be trashed and it will be overrun with drug dealers – guaranteed. And I agree that the gangs will “tag it” prior to January 1st.

Perhaps the Police get very discouraged making many arrests only to have the Judges release them on $500 bail and then they’re out there doing the same thing again within hours! I know that I’d sure be discouraged by that! I thought that from what I read about the Morningside Meeting, that the residents repeatedly said that they were very scared (terrified) of calling the Police and having these punks find out that they did.

That’s a very real thing as these punks and gangs take seriously the “don’t rat out – no matter what” saying and they WILL punish them for calling the cops! That’s their home, that’s where they live, and these little punk terrorists are making them live in fear. And the city nor the police really addressed that at all. For the amount of money that we’re paying in taxes, I think that Mayor-elect Bianchi had better take this stuff seriously and start being MUCH more proactive in stopping it.

I’ll reply to the doctor article in a separate post as I have some personal experiences to share about this topic.




  1. Joe Blow
    December 15, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    Molly, good call on the judges…time after time I see repeat offenders get released on own recognizance, then arrested 2 days later on new charges and released again. Judge Rutberg does this over and over and people are getting tired of it. Is there a way to get these bleeding heart judges off the bench? I lived out west for many years and the police and courts out there would never put up with the bull that goes on around here!

    • Bull Durham
      December 15, 2011 at 11:44 am #

      You’re absolutely right, Joe. The excuse given is that there isn’t enough room in our penal system to house all of these ne’er-do-wells, and the courts would be even fuller if they went all the way to punish them. Too bad! How much time and court effort is wasted on people who are repeatedly in the system then just put out on the street the next day? It’s not even just criminal cases. I have a neighbor who fancies himself a lawyer, and he hasn’t paid his real estate taxes in years. He’s taken the city to court over and over again for completely frivolous lawsuits, and every single judge lets these cases go on for years before dismissing them. Time for a judge like Roy Bean – don’t do the crime if you can’t serve the time.

      • Kevin
        December 15, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

        Take the repeat idiots out back and shoot ’em. Save the honest taxpayers a lot of money and put these creeps out of their misery.

  2. ambrose
    December 15, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    businesses don’t pay taxes, people pay taxes – if we tax bmc 3 or 4 mil it’ll cost 40 times as much at the blood drawing stable – doesn’t matter how much business are taxed , the customer always pays it –

    • dusty
      December 15, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

      Does Carr hardware really not pay taxes? I did think something was fishy about the place a while back. One could check the political donations for the last 20 years for a clue.

      • Molly
        December 15, 2011 at 11:11 pm #

        It appears that way, but I’ve always liked Carr Hardware and if so, I’ll be very disappointed from many aspects – disappointed in Carr’s and disappointed that a totally private business, that’s been in business for how many years? Many! can be designated as “tax exempt”. I’m really hoping that it’s a mistake somewhere — perhaps they’ll jump on here and straighten it out for us?? That would be a good thing! We’ll see…

        • dusty
          December 16, 2011 at 2:27 am #

          Someone needs to get the records and spend a few days finding out who does and who does not pay their fair share. Several years ago someone suggested that some city councilors homes were were undervalued as compared to their neighbors

          and then make the info public

          Ex gob mayor/loser Doyle tried to make it impossible for people to check by raising the cost of copies of records at city hall

          • Rivetor
            December 16, 2011 at 7:26 am #

            All photocopies should be done at cost, no more, for taxpayers. That’s a penny apiece.

  3. Kim
    December 15, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    Dear Molly,

    I was enjoying a delicious pimpkin pie pop tart when I read this. Barf bag is right. There has to be something people can do. How sad that so many people would rather have more money than they know what to do with, then help people who need it, lower property taxes, so the average working person can get by without counting every penny. I don’t know what I can do, but I’d love some ideas. Sick to my stomach doesn’t even describe how I feel. My only hope is that Karma shows up, and kicks some butt. Very sad information. It would be nice if people could just be kind. What a concept.

  4. Kevin
    December 15, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    I would like ot say “Shame on BHS, BMC, the city of Pittsfield, and all the politicians who let this go by. They get off paying a third of 1 percent of what they would be due if they paid taxes? Come on. As for kids skae park let them take their risks but don’t come crying to me as a taxpayer when then crack a skull of break a leg and don’t sue me either. Stupid idea to spend $200 thousand of my money on this

  5. ambrose
    December 15, 2011 at 5:22 pm #

    Sub a T for an M and E for an O and RR for LLs and keep the Y what of you got – why can’t he just put his nose in his armpit and wait til th first of thr year

    • Molly
      December 15, 2011 at 11:06 pm #

      Would you mind explaining what you mean by this post? Who’s Terry? And what does he/she have to do with me? “Wait til th first of thr year” for what?

      • Rivetor
        December 16, 2011 at 7:28 am #

        Ambrose I’m with Molly. This post is stupid. If you have something to say say it but the tone tells me you have nothing to say or contribute. why don’t you stayt home next time?

  6. Tito
    December 15, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    We need extensive amounts of free cash,why? Because we can spend it on people like John Barrett while putting the fear of having as mush free cash as we can, or else. Joe wish you didn’t run for mayor.

  7. Tito
    December 15, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    Lothrop is such a phony when it comes to protecting the mayor’s agenda.He is so full of she height. Send the budget back.

  8. Tito
    December 15, 2011 at 7:05 pm #

    Fear is not an option in any scenario councilor.

  9. Tito
    December 15, 2011 at 7:08 pm #

    Ward actually said people expect a two or three percent tax property tax increase, are you serious?

    December 15, 2011 at 8:28 pm #

    The City Council didn’t disappoint me again. The last meeting and they struck it to the people again. Lothrop is a phony!!! Telling us he is for the people BULL____ !!!!!! On the good side Gerald Lee is gone!!!!

    One question on tax rate per the Eagle today. If the rate goes up 92 cents per thousand. On a $178,000. home they say it would be about $68.00, Isn’t that around $164.00 increase. Maybe I’m missing something here. Someone might shed some light on this for me.

    • Molly
      December 15, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

      Because, supposedly, the property valuations went down… NOT! At least not mine, nor anyone I know. And so yes, without a HUGE decrease in that property’s value (a $6,400 decrease in its value – or a 3.48% decrease!), it would be a $163.37 increase in taxes and that’s a 5.84% increase in taxes this year. This is called “spin”!! Sadly, people believe what they read in newspapers.

      • Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
        December 16, 2011 at 7:35 am #

        Are you saying that most people’s property value has gone up?

        • Molly
          December 16, 2011 at 8:07 am #

          For one, I’m saying that mine went up along with other people that I’ve talked to. However, the city says that overall, they’ve gone down 2%. Wellllll, if you just believe what the Eagle prints, that can’t be true either since in order for a mere $68 tax increase on a $178,000 single family house to be true, that property had to have its property value decrease almost 4% and last year’s value would have needed to be $183,972.00. Otherwise, the numbers just don’t add up – plain and simple. The increase in tax dollars would be $163.47. Did the Eagle explain this? NO! Because they know that most people just believe whatever they print.

          Personally, I think that most property values DID go up but since all instances of last year’s assessments are now gone from cyberspace, I can’t prove that. But neither can they prove that they went down 2% (or in using the Eagle’s example, 4%!!!!!)

          • Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
            December 16, 2011 at 10:37 am #

            Its important that we, the BB included, are using ASSESSED value…based on the tax rolls

    December 15, 2011 at 8:38 pm #

    Councilor Lothrop, thank you for standing for common sense and reason. Do not listen to Valenti and the mob he has stirred up. This “Voice of the Little Guy” was spotted last night at the Red Lion inn bar with James Taylor. Best buddies, don’t you know. There was an incident. One woman recognized Taylor and asked him to go up and sing (Dave grover playing there). Valenti snapped his fingers, got his goons, and had her kicked out. Nice “Voice of the Little Guy.”

    December 15, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

    I will also say this. Valenti has been behind the scenes, dictating terms to (want names?) Terry Kinnas, Dan Bianchi, Melissa Mazzeo, KEvin Morandi, Kevin Sherman, Dan Elias, Alf Barbalunga, and Kathy Yon. They are doing his bidding. Pittsfield is in for a screwing. Thank you, “Voice of the Little Guy.”

    • Molly
      December 15, 2011 at 10:54 pm #

      First, I think James Taylor is a client of DV. But whether he is or not, or whether he’s a good buddy of James Taylor or not, SOOOO WHAT??? What’s it to you? So let me make sure that I have this correct – because someone that you were with caused a raucous with James Taylor and got kicked out, you somehow blame Dan Valenti and somehow he’s not “really” a voice for the “little guy”? hahahaha And what exactly do you mean by “dictating terms”?? Terms of what? Pittsfield is in for a screwing? Just what in the hell do you think has been happening in Pittsfield for years? The people and the city as a whole have been getting screwed! Too bad you got screwed and didn’t even know it…

      • danvalenti
        December 16, 2011 at 8:50 am #

        Thanks. My client list is private and proprietary, but my business is, well, MY business. You and 99.9% of other know and understand this. The small remainder want to create smokescreens. We know that the posters who use PITTSFIELD BELIEVER are a small group of connected GOBs who think they are embarrassing me with their ridiculous claims. I have tried to leave all of PBs comments in tact, so people can get a taste of their nonsense. You, Concerned, and others have responded with intelligence. “Dictating terms”? To whom? Certainly to none of the people on PBs list. Again, to you, Concerned, and others: Thanks for telling it like it is.

    December 15, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    PIttsfield Believer: Are you drinking kool aid or just drinking. You are saying Dan Valenti is dictating terms to the people you mentioned. Wow I didn’t think he was so powerful!!!!!!! Show me the facts PB He snapped his fingers an d out she goes wow again what a powerful man Dan Valenti is

    December 15, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    Kevin The problem is god forbid, if one gets a serious head injury for life, who takes care of that person for the next 60-70 yrs. Yep the taxpayers. You can heal a broken leg, arm etc. but never a permanent head injury. Hope they are made to wear a helmet!!!

  15. Molly
    December 15, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

    What a scam these property tax increases are! (Another scam!) And I really dislike politicians — a lot! They seem to ALL belong to the same breed – named sleazy! Power hungry, money hungry, “do anything that I need to do to get more power and money” breed of sleaze. Whether it be local, state, or federal politicians, they are truly all from the same breed.

    This year’s increase is a mirror of last year’s increase, as is the way it was done (which bugs me to no end! We The People are NOT as stupid as they think!) Although, perhaps we are as we keep electing the same ones again and again and again!

    First of all, Proposition 2 ½ is a huge scam and is not even close to what the people thought it was when it was voted in. People still think that they can’t raise the taxes more than 2 ½% per year. To the contrary, last year’s increase was 6.97% above 2010’s taxes (my out of pocket, regardless of what funny figures they used or tried to use). Look into it. Even if you allow for the “supposed” decrease in property values, last year’s increase was STILL 5.75%. However, I’d like to see who’s property values went down as mine went UP, as did everyone else’s that I spoke to. It is not the taxes that can’t be raised more than 2.5%, it’s the tax ceiling (look into this, too. It’s all “funny money” and a scam). And last year, the public wasn’t notified in the BB until the day of the vote, too!! And the article wording was almost exact to last years.

    And yet again, the figures that are quoted in the BB are WRONG. Using the “average single family home” valuation that the Eagle quoted of $177,580.00 would mean a 2012 tax of $2,860.81. OK. But to have last year’s taxes be $2794.53 with an increase in taxes of only $66.28 this year, the valuation on that house last year would’ve had to have been $183,972.00. That’s a $6,400 DECREASE in that property’s value from last year to this year. And that equals a 3.48% DECREASE in this property’s value and NOT a 2% decrease as quoted in the BB (a 2% decrease would be a $3,679.44 decrease). Looking at this another way (as my property values didn’t go down!) a .92 raise in the tax rate, on a valuation example of $177,580.00, would be an increased dollar amount of $163.37 and NOT $66.28! (.92 x 177.589 = 163.37). And that’s a 5.84% increase in tax dollars. Is there anyone out there who’s property value (as determined by the City of Pittsfield) decreased last year? Or decreased 2% this year? Or decreased 3.48% this year? Perhaps the valuation decrease was in BMC’s $118,398,760.00 assessed value… Interesting that I cannot find anywhere the 2011 property assessments – they were taken down when 2012’s became public and cannot be found anywhere.

    Honestly, I have truly “had it” with the incestuous, sleazy politics of this city and with their wasting SO many taxpayer’s hard-earned dollars! I’m struggling very hard to keep my house and have had to cut to the bare bones. Yet they have the nerve to give all of these corporations that make hundreds of millions of dollars a tax-exempt status and RAISE my taxes yet again, so that I can pay for a nice park for the drug dealers and automatic flower waterers and “Streetscape” on North Street. Nice to have, yes – but it would also be nice for me to be able to afford groceries after I pay for everything else, including a LOT of money in taxes. Perhaps my next project should be figuring out what the REAL percentage of my salary goes to taxes – all taxes, including federal & state income taxes, social security & Medicare (you know, those “Entitlements”!), property tax, water, sewer, excise tax, gasoline tax, heating oil tax, sales tax, meals tax, hotel tax, turnpike tolls, license & registration fees, inspection sticker fees, plus separate “local, state & federal fees” on telephone, cable and electric in addition to the tax – anything else that I’m missing?

    • ambrose
      December 15, 2011 at 11:58 pm #

      if you work a full year and had to pay all of your taxes before you got any $ for yourself it would be the end of may before you could buy a beer

    • Bull Durham
      December 16, 2011 at 7:32 am #

      Proposition 2 1/2 was never meant to hold the individual property tax increases to a 2.5% limit each year. What it limits is a rise of more than 2.5% in overall tax levy for the city. So, if the city had a levy limit of $1 million last year (I know it’s not, this is just an example), it could only raise the overall taxation the following year to $1.25 million. Depending on the value of one’s home or the overall valuation of all properties, this likely results in a much higher “tax increase” for the individual property owner, which is what you’re seeing.

      No one would disagree that taxes are too high, especially in the economic slump we’re experiencing and have been in for the past three years. Unfortunately, even if you got your way and the not for profits were mandated to pay taxes, that money would disappear into the black hole that is municipal government. It would go to pay for union raises, pension funds (come on, how many of us in the real world have a pension anymore) and a lot of other waste in city government. Believing that some huge infusion of tax money would somehow reduce your property tax is a delusion greater than the tooth fairy.

      • danvalenti
        December 16, 2011 at 8:45 am #

        You are correct. This reminds THE PLANET that we should run a piece or even a series on the hoax of Prop. 2 1/2.

    • Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
      December 16, 2011 at 7:40 am #

      A run for office?

      • Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
        December 16, 2011 at 7:42 am #

        @ Molly, A run for office?

        • danvalenti
          December 16, 2011 at 8:44 am #

          Great suggestion, Hilly. VOTE MOLLY in ’13!

          • Molly
            December 16, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

            Hahahaha For personal reasons, there’s not a chance. Actually, too bad because I’d like to be a part of the change that is needed to get rid of these GOB’s once and or all… So I’ll still do what I can to make the changes happen that really need to happen, in other ways – with this site being an important one of those ways. There are a lot of extremely intelligent people on this site and with just a few exceptions, we can disagree with mutual respect and making intelligent arguments for our points of view. It’s very refreshing!

  16. joetaxpayer
    December 16, 2011 at 7:18 am #

    Problem is no one has the balls to cut anything out of the budget.The cast may change,put the results stay the same.If I had a dollar for everytime a councilor said this cut would only be a drop in the bucket,I would be rich.I say lets start putting drops in the bucket,it will add up.

    • Molly
      December 16, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

      I agree, Joe! Personally, I believe that it is not our elected officials that run this city — and it doesn’t matter who we elect. It’s the GOB network that runs this city and they have GOT to go!

  17. dusty
    December 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    What Ruberto is doing to the taxpayers is not so much different than what the people collecting SSD, Section 8 or welfare illegally are doing. The only difference is that most white collar crime is either legal or protected.

    I almost want to give a high five to the people scamming the system. Maybe they are the smart ones. Ruberto and his cronies can’t touch their money.