BHS TAX FILING CREATES ONE VERSION OF THE LOCAL ECONOMY, AND THE CITY PITTSFIELD, CHAMBER OF COMMERCE CREATE ANOTHER PICTURE OF THE SAME THING. CAN YOU GUESS WHICH ONE IS MORE ACCURATE AND WHICH IS A FAIRY TALE? OUR EXCLUSIVE BHS COVERAGE CONTINUES
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, DEC. 6, 2011) — Happy 43rd anniversary, Linda, wherever you may be. Yes, we still remember.
PERRY MASON SENDS IN QUESTIONS — A “connected” local attorney sent into some interesting comments on the BHS articles THE PLANET has featured. They came as a “This didn’t come from me, but …”. Perry Mason sends us through Della Street the following:
We wonder if Paul Drake will come barging into the court room at the last second with a note to hand Mr. Mason, answering these questions? We wonder if anyone at BHS cares to respond? We wonder if anyone there will respond to specifically to the three questions we posted at the end of yesterday’s PLANET.
We thank our right honorable esquiric friend, Mr. Mason. We will point out that we have heard not a peep in response to the three questions we asked BHS at the end of yesterday’s PLANET.
When the phone doesn’t ring, I know it is David Phelps not getting back to us!
What Is Our Moral Obligation in Life? We Own Ourselves. It is to Make Responsible Choices for Ourselves and Expect Others to to the Same
If we have learned one thing about the nature of local health care, it’s that Berkshire Health Systems struggles with a problem that may yet be the undoing of this great country of ours. Most of its patients are low-income, needy, indigent, on the dole, or in some other way unable to pay for their health care costs.
These needy populations not only account for the majority of health care transactions, they also consume healthcare services at a rate far greater than those who haul their own freight. It goes beyond class warfare. Calling it “class warfare” implies that most of the free-loaders are victims. The fact is, at some point, we each become responsible for our lives. We own ourselves. No one else can own you but yourself.
We make choices. We can decide to eat good, healthy food or eat junk. We can decide to smoke two packs of Camels a day or not. We can choose between blowing $100 a week on lottery tickets or not. We can drink to excess regularly or not. We can decide to have children or not. Too much of the Occupy Wall Street movement obscures the fact that We Own Ourselves. THE PLANET asks: At what point do the unhealthy choices people make for themselves become the responsibility of people who do the right thing for themselves and the community?
What is our responsibility, moral or otherwise, to that overweight person stuffing a craw with Twinkies and Cheetos, washing it down with Boone’s Farm and soda? What is our responsibility to those who have made welfare (disability checks, food stamps, and many other forms of “relief”) a way of life instead of a temporary way of getting on their own two feet. What is our responsibility to those who take, take, take and never give, give, give?
THE PLANET suggests that our prime responsibility is to ourselves, to be Self-ish in a healthy way without being selfish in a greedy way. We have no moral obligation to “help” those who refuse to help themselves.
Pittsfield and Environs: A Tale of Two Cities, One fact, One Fiction
The freeloaders do not as a whole practice preventative health care as much as others who pay their own way. Many of them live less healthy lifestyles, mostly as a result of poor choices … but choice nonetheless. BHS has a long lists of people who fall under “Populations Exempt from Collection Activities,” who get their healthcare on the house. Granted, so people DO need a temporary hand up. Virtually no one, those, is entitled to a hand out. “Entitled.” That’s a word we hear a lot about of late.
BHS, as a non-profit organization, must report to the federal government in many different ways, including to the IRS on its finances. In describing its service region to the IRS, BHS must be accurate, meticulous, and honest to a fault — under penalty of law.
It’s interesting to read the BHS descriptions of the local region — Pittsfield and environs — and to see how it compares with all the rah-rah, siz-boom-bah (humbug!) manufactured out of whole air by the Chamber of Commerce, the city of Pittsfield, and other “boosters” of the Renaissance.
BHS Form 990: Pittsfield is Poor, Uneducated, Drug-Addled … and The Arts Have Not Saved the City Job-wise
On Form 990, Schedule H, Part VI, Supplemental Information, Line 4, of its latest tax return (Aug. 15, 2011), BHS describes Berkshire County.
* “Berkshire County is a community in transition from an economy relying on manufacturing to a service sector dependent economy. The General Electric Company, which at one point in the 1970s employed upwards of 15,000 people, sold the last segment of its business in the Berkshires. … Other major employers, for example, Sprague Electric (electrical components) and Beloit-Jones (paper-making machinery) also closed[.] The last two years have seen the closing of five paper mills …”
Nothing new here. We all know the reality. Then the report continues, and here’s where it gets interesting:
“Subsequently, the county has tried to take advantage of its rural environment, cultural attractions, and its small town atmosphere to develop a three-season tourist/vacation ‘destination’ … The jobs created in this employment sector[, however,] cannot adequately replace what has been lost due to the major deindustrialization of the county over the last two decades.” THE PLANET has added the italics and underline for emphasis. Read that underlined sentence again.
The italicized sentence is nothing but a confirmation of a point THE PLANET has been making in print, over the air, and now in cyberspace ever since the returns on the much-aggandized “Recreation and Resort” economic model of Pittsfield started coming in. The evidence made it clear: The Arts were not enough to save the local economy. They never are.
The R&R Economy was the low-hanging fruit. Was Pittsfield right to pick it? Yes? Unfortunately, it did so at the expense of failing to replace the manufacturing economic sector. This, too, was a choice. For example, go back to early this year and read THE PLANET’s exclusive coverage of the joke that was the Pittsfield-driven Community Economic Develop Strategy session. Analyze the anatomy of what this regions “best minds” cobbled together in the name of economic development.
Rather than admit this, the GOBs, Special Interests, and other “usual suspects” proclaimed a Renaissance in downtown Pittsfield. They still do.
Each time THE PLANET dared to question the rosy fictions of The Vested Interests, they called us “entertainers,” “showboaters,” and worse. We were “grandstanding” to drive ratings and readers. The intelligent people, and there are many, who could see the city’s economic infrastructure decaying by the day, they believed THE PLANET. The GOBs and Vested Interests called these people “negative.” We became a threat, and THAT’s what pushed our popularity, regardless of the medium. We The People know THE PLANET has their backs.
BHS Form H is Spot-on True and Confirms, Vindicates PLANET’s Contentions on Pittsfield ‘Renaissance’
We are, therefore, delighted that BHS has vindicated what THE PLANET has been saying all along.The R&R economy can’t do carry a regional economy. People don’t make enough with its jobs to support themselves. True, you WILL find some victims in the Arts Economy. It’s been a bust. The Arts, recreation, and resorts can provide great ancillaries to local economies, but they can’t drive those economies. That BHS should uphold THE PLANET’s main economic observations is better than irony. It’s watertight and absolutely convincing, because if BHS says it, the GOBs Believe It … the “phony bastards.”(R)
We also learn from the 990 Schedule H filing:
* Per-capita income in the county lags 16% behind the rest of the state.
* The average local median household income trails the rest of the state by 23%.
* The population is poor and it’s shrinking … In the decade between 2000 and 2010, county population dropped an alarming 28% (Pittsfield, of course, rather than admit this, has blamed the census takers). The previous decade (1990-2000) the population dropped 3.25%. Can anyone say “free fall”?
* There are one-third more old seniors (65 and older) and 10% fewer young people (20 or under) in the couty compared to the rest of the state.
* Pittsfield and North Adams ranked first and second, statewide, of all Commonwealth cities in “Reporting Rate for Child Maltreatment.”
* Pittsfield and county suicide rates, alcohol and drug abuse exceed state averages.
* 25% of 12th grade students reported being either drunk or high at school (2009).
City of Pittsfield Website and Chamber of Commerce Descriptions of Pittsfield and Environs: Fluff, Fiction, Fantasy … and the Deliberate Creation of a Credibility Gap
These are just the low lights. Now, compare the city and region BHS has just described, under oath, to the federal government with this description of same:
On the city’s “video” welcome at its website, Mayor Jimmy Ruberto says he is “extremely excited to show you around this around this vibrant city of more than 40,000 people.” The “virtual tour” is tedious, dotted with boring commercials. Who would watch this junk?
We learn on the city’s website, which still contains no e-mail addresses for city employees (other than my right honorable good friends on the city council), that “Pittsfield is a wonderful place to live, work, and to play; [sic] including our reinvigorated downtown with world-class entertainment and other fine attractions.” Do you think Sunday night’s murder victim would agree?
The city invites visitors to the website to “learn about why some of the most forward-thinking and creative entrepreneurs are calling Pittsfield home.” They must have been thinking of guys like Angelo Stracuzzi, uncle Gerry Lee, and the rest of the barroom barristers. The site describes downtown Pittsfield as “a dynamic urban center with a growing arts district at its core …” The business situation is described as “A center for excellence and public service.”
The Berkshire Chamber of Commerce lays the gunk on just as thickly. It says its mission is to “lead and advance economic development and support the civic and social welfare of Berkshire County. …” Looks like it did a great job, eh, judging by the Tobacco Road nature of the same area that BHS has just described to the IRS.
The Berkshire Chamber of Commerce writes this about Tobacco Road:
“In terms of economic development, Berkshire County organizations and agencies apply a sensitive balance of growth, technology and regard for the environmental, cultural and rural aspects of the area to regional planning. Their nitiatives focus on using existing infrastructures, buildings and sites; downtown revitalization; and creation of a strong regional identity to market the area.
“According to a report issued by the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute in February, 2002, the “technology enterprise” sector, defined as technology services rather than manufacturing, has enjoyed greater growth in employment than other portions of the Berkshire economy. In the telecommunications sector, an organization called Berkshire Connect is hard at work making sure that the county has a high-quality, low-cost broadband telecommunications service network. Broadband infrastructure had been installed to serve three principal sub-markets in the Berkshires for a cross section of business, industry, cultural and nonprofit organizations.
“The upshot is a more relaxed pace that characterizes a lifestyle where people can live well, without the hubbub and frenzy of large metropolitan cities. Berkshire residents can train for new careers, take advantage of business resources and funding, network easily throughout the region, and enjoy a satisfying career, all the time making the most of the recreational and cultural attractions this rich region has to offer. Family picnics, nights at the theatre, a weekend by the lake, or, perhaps, a three-mile commute to work are part of life in the Berkshires.”
What a crock, fib, fabrication, fantasy, fiction, and untruth.
The point is that there is a chasmic disconnect between the propaganda and PR spewed out by The Suits concerning the region and especially Pittsfield, the county seat, and what honest declarations require. The credibility gap dispirits decent citizens, who have to live amidst the poverty, crime, drugs use, violence, and in an environment whose air, land, and water has been contaminated with a witch’s brew of industrial toxins courtesy of General Electric’s rape of the area.
The Suits love the disconnect because it keeps their little empires intact. Think of all of the Economic Revitalization Organizations in Pittsfield alone. How many? Half dozen? A dozen? Each creates at least three jobs: A con job, a snow job, and a high-paying job for an executive director who must, at any cost, not actually drive economic development but play politics and be a Loyal Soldier.
There’s Trouble Brewing Based on the Righteous Anger of Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski, the Eternal ‘Little Guy’
There is a fierce anger festering throughout this community. It will continue to grow, and at some point, We The People will demand in many different ways accountability in, of, and from its leaders. THE PLANET predicts the beginning wave of this discontent will be visited upon the new government that will be seated in Pittsfield in 2012, a new council, a new mayor, and a new school committee. They better be listening. We The People are fed up. We The People have had it up to here.
The Avenging Angel of Accountability watches the city silently, and in a month, it will slink into town. The center — can it hold?
WE THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATRONAGE OF THIS WEBSITE, THE ONLY AREA MEDIA OUTLET THAT IS UNBOUGHT, UNBOSSED, UTTERLY CONNECTED, AND FIGHTING FOR ONE CONSTITUENCY: THE LITTLE GUY.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.