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:

Good start on BHS….
Who owns the properties?
Are rents fair?
Why have officers been the same for decades?
At what point are they shareholders?
This is big business….you hit it.
The same old people voting to pay themselves and friends great salaries.
Probably same accountants who are paid a fortune for independent review…
just like wallstreet.
I just remember years ago saying to myself….so that is who is really profiting…..
I have been complaining about non-profits for a while too…..
Big business, big questions.

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.

We wrote:

We would like to leave BHS with three simple questions:

(1) What is the value of the entire BHS holdings?

(2) What, specifically, is the “substantial” (Mr. Colbert’s word) payment to the city of Pittsfield, in lieu of taxes (as a “non-profit,” BHS pays no property, excise, or sales taxes. In short, those rules don’t apply to them. Yes, it’s all legal. Remember, “crime” is merely a legal construct. We can’t agree on “Monopoly,” so let’s see how we do with “substantial.” Only then can we make an assessment of your claim’s accuracy.

(3) What is the value of the BHS holdings in the Cayman Islands? What is the nature of those holdings?

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?







  1. Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
    December 6, 2011 at 9:31 am #

    @ Dan…The other person who might be that non ringing sound on your phone or non email in your in-box is Steve Wade’s favorite Councilor, the distinguished Councilor from Ward 6, John Krol….where the WHOLE discussion started remember? Why did he file the petition about the proposed meth clinic and why was he coy or untruthful, depending on your point of view, on his relationship with BHS, ie, former employer, underwrites Good Morn Pitts website, etc…this discussion has moved to National Healthcare, Cayman Islands holdings, etc, all important questions and relevant discussion to be sure, but what about Councilor Krol and his involvement? Are we letting him off the hook without him answering some basic questions??? So here they are again for you Councilor and today I’m going to add this; since we know you are reading this blog, if you refuse to answer the question, we will NOW ASSUME, that you have something to hide…
    In case you missed it Councilor Krol, here is my question from 2 days ago…. could you explain why you removed the “underwritten by Berkshire Health Systems” from the bottom of your web page, ?? Dare you respond for all Planet Valenti’s viewers to see?? I saw it on Friday and then checked back today and viloa…it magically disappeared, care to explain?

  2. jimbo
    December 6, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    Hilly, didn’t Krol give you his contact info? If it’s bothering you SO much, get a sac and email/call him directly. You know what they say about people that assume…

    • Anytime
      December 6, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

      Have to say jimbo is right.

    • steve wade
      December 6, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

      Jimbo Good call on Hilly. He is all mouth and no action. Hilly why won’t you call Krol?

  3. Ray Ovac
    December 6, 2011 at 12:48 pm #

    DV, you write: “Most of (Berkshire Health Systems’) patients are low-income, needy, indigent, on the dole, or in some other way unable to pay for their health care costs.”

    DV, if indeed that is the case, then how come Berkshire Health Systems, Inc.’s top executives are able to draw so much money from the business? Who is subsidizing this gravy train?

    • echo
      December 7, 2011 at 7:14 am #

      Those of us who have insurance, BHS charged my insurance company $7000 for a 3 hour visit to the ER for my wife and I following a auto accident.

  4. Scott
    December 6, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    So Dan if I get sick due to environmental reason’s from living in Pittsfiled all my life who pick’s up the tab?

    • Ray Ovac
      December 6, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

      Speaking of which, it would be informative to know BHS, Inc.’s morbidity statistics for the kinds of Cancers resulting from exposure to the kinds of toxic chemicals dumped by General Electric Co. into Berkshire County’s environment.

  5. Tim
    December 6, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

    I know this goes off track a little, but its relevant to your other articles on the school system. But still speaks to the abuses of the system. I noticed you posted they pay an HR director a salary of $70,000 and I was recently contacted by a background checking firm for a former employee who applied for a position at PPS. That means they outsource this sort of labor. And all the firm did was send me an email asking me to respond by email. I could be anyone claiming to be a supervisor. So… What? This HR director isnt qualified to send emails? Director infers that there are at least a department that includes an assistant or secretary to help the HR department. These employees cant do that either? Why spend the money to outsource? The director, I’m sure (ha!), is very busy writing policies and attending admin meetings, and disciplining staff, so making certain of the quality of staff is low on the priority list. Seriously, hiring for a school happens in bunches, mostly in summer or spring, the rest is sporadic, certainly not overloading work so the other HR job tasks can’t get done. Certainly reminds me of the 3 job theory you mentioned: con, snow, admin. something you see in many levels of nonprofit, government type agencies.

  6. Kevin
    December 6, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

    The comments about the two different views of Pittsfield are right on. First Berhkshire Health Systems is reporting to the Feds, the IRS. It had better paint an accurate picture. This is the picture of city we all see depressingly every day, where we just had another murder, the what Planet calls zis boom ba picture is fake and any business that begins to look into the area in detail sees it immediatelyt. All you have to do is walk down N, Street and look around. scary

    • dusty
      December 7, 2011 at 1:45 am #

      Dan, you ask which of the two city views is a fairy tale. And my answer (and I know I am not supposed to use his name in association with negativity on your forum) is, Rubertos view is the fairy tale. It is he who has had the power to make positive changes or at the very least admit that the city has problems. Instead, we have all been sent rose colored glasses with our inflated tax bills and told to suck it up for the common good.

      While most consumer product packaging has become smaller, horse shit is coming in big sloppy doses from the Allen street distribution center.

  7. up in smoke
    December 6, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    I’ve been following this riveting discusion and as a Pittsfield voter I too would like to see Councilor Krol answer Hill Billys questions. John, you were forthcoming before, why not just answer him so we all don’t have to hear about it anymore? Unless, there is something there?

    • Humpty Dumpty
      December 7, 2011 at 6:41 am #

      I agree with Hill Billy and you , Smokey, fess up Councilor Krol…Whats the story with your website change?? I am an avid listener of Good Morning Pittsfield by the way….

  8. Joe Pinhead
    December 6, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

    Councilor Krol:
    With all due respect I have to question you in regards to your lack of participation in the entire healthcare discussion. I hope at least you read the posts and were responsible for as many hits in the count as Steven Colbert who by all counts is interested in fostering discussion in what appears to be an attempt to understand the aspects from a multitude of angles. I mean it in a good way Mr. Colbert and am happy that you were a part in the discussion and are part of our community.
    With That said Councilor Krol could you please tell us why you brought forth a petition that would essentially do nothing? I mean it wouldn’t stop the Clinics currently in place or as of now proposed. With your vast understanding of the healthcare system (I hope the title of executive administrator means something) albeit lacking in the understanding of the hierarchy of your previous employment, might have something to offer in the way of elder care or possibly you could have spoken to SNF’s etc.
    A councilor on the Pittsfield city council must have something to add, I will ask you here knowing the numbers that were filed in both IRS and Written testimony on behalf of the healthcare provider funding or revenue streams please explain the following to us.
    I used the data to help develop my position on?
    Or I just learned the information and will use it to do?
    During my time on the Council the publicly insured or disproportionate-share went up down or remained the same because I pushed for program XXXXX as an economic development tool.
    I will work to lower that number by xx points in this term ;to do so I will fund economic development programs that are based upon the concept of xxxx
    I don’t think that these questions are out of bounds and I look forward to a meaningful response, not an invite to fill your social calendar on tv. Just a thought you might be spreading yourself to thin, give up the TV program and concentrate on the City and its business or give up the City Council position and concentrate on the TV thing.
    Just sayin

    • Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
      December 7, 2011 at 6:12 am #

      Good luck on getting a response to your legitimate questions Joe P, Councilor KROL doesn’t seem to want to or be able to engage in meaningful discussion but rather spins off questions and deflects…Thanks for your contriution to this discussion Joe Pin…

      @ Jimbo, Anytime and Steve Wade….My questions are posed here from Councilor Krol to see and answer in a PUBLIC forum. I have no interest in calling him, hanging out over coffee or going on his radio show. My name is changed to protect my identity you numskulls, why would I want to reveal my identity, when I’m posting under Hilly B? Thats the whole point. My questions are legitimate. Why does it matter whether they come from me, President Obama or Bill O’Rielly? They are questions from a Pittsfield resident to a sitting City Councilor who has some SERIOUS credibility issues going here they are again John Boy..

      could you explain why you removed the “underwritten by Berkshire Health Systems” from the bottom of your web page, ?? Dare you respond for all Planet Valenti’s viewers to see?? I saw it on Friday and then checked back today and viloa…it magically disappeared, care to explain?

      • jimbo
        December 7, 2011 at 9:38 am #

        Hilly, let me explain a little something about yahoo, gmail, hotmail, etc: Just like this forum, you can create a username that keeps your real identity protected. Maybe or thinkingaboutkrol24/ are available. Be creative…

        • Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
          December 7, 2011 at 11:35 am #

          Thats funny Jimbo!! Good one..

        • Steve Wade
          December 7, 2011 at 11:49 am #

          Jimbo you Da man!

    December 6, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    Barry Clairmont must love this with Krol takes all that heat he was receiving off. But Barry I have forgotting

    December 6, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    Sorry meant ” have not”

  11. Anytime
    December 7, 2011 at 7:45 am #

    Yeah, Barry Clairmont, you are a councilor to be. What is your position on the issues of the meth clinic in Pittsfield. How will you vote on Councilor Krols petition? Are you going to speak with Valenti when he comes a calling once you are sworn in. Listen, we are not going to take another stooge for the GOB, I’ll tell you that much. Mr. Clairmont, I ask you to respond: What is your view of the petition before the council, a petition that is toothless and meaningless.