PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, DEC. 19, 2011) — It’s beginning to look a lot more like Christmas. Take a gander at this list, based on research compiled by MASSPIRG.

The “average” Massachusetts resident paid $10,062 in federal taxes each year from tax years 2008 through 2010. As a percentage of income, this amount to just under 20%. Add in state, local, excise, sales, and other levies forced upon average, hard-working, taxpaying citizens, and the average tax bill amounts to about half your income. In other words, for every dollar you make, the government steals about half of it before you get a sniff.

In the same tax years — 2008, 2009, and 2010 — here’s how a corporations made out. Hint: They did slightly better than you did.

* General Electric — you remember them; they did lots of business in Pittsfield for 100 years, then pulled out, taking all their jobs and leaving behind countless tons of industrial toxins in Pittsfield’s water, land, and air. In that time period from TY ’08-’10, GE paid NO TAXES. If that’s not enough, in that time, it actually made 4.74 billion from the tax code. That translates to an effective tax rate of -45.3%. Let’s repeat that: MINUS 45.4%.

* PG&E made 1.02 billion from the tax code, for an effective tax rate of -21.2%.

* Verizon made $951 billion from the tax code for a rate of -2.9%.

* Wells Farg0, $681 million from the tax code for a rate of -1.4%.

* Du Pont, $72 million in profits from the tax code for a rate of -3.4%.

* Boeing, $178 million from the tax code for a rate of -1.8%

These conglomerates not only paid not taxes but in effect made money come tax time. It doesn’t take an Occupation to see the inequity. Pittsfield residents just got hammered again on property taxes, and yet GE — the company that ruined the city — gets billions in income from you, the taxpayers.

Anyone still think Pittsfield should NOT push to a removal of Hill 78, a total cleanup of Silver Lake, and a reopener of the Consent Agreement?



Speaking of the Rape of Pittsfield by GE, the infamous collapsed Bridge to Nowhere that litters the banks of the Housatonic River in a hard-to-access spot behind the Eric Drive area symbolizes all that stinks about GE, the state, and the city of Pittsfield regarding the massive amount of industrial toxins left in Pittsfield and environs by GE.

This is an end view of The Bridge to Nowhere (PLANET VALENTI)

When GE made a business decision to pull out of Pittsfield after 100 years, it left behind uncounted massive amounts of all manner of industrial waste and poison. Pittsfield had a Golden Opportunity to finally hold the company accountable when they met at the negotiating table. The discussions that led up to the GE-favored Consent Agreement have never been made public. Minutes were kept, but those minutes have never been released. The screwing Pittsfield accepted suggests that there’s a lot of embarrassing material in those minutes.

This photo shows the buildup of debris caused by the long-downed Bridge to Nowhere. (PLANET VALENTI Photos)

This bridge, with two new views seen here for the first time, idles away, forgotten by time. The state and GE, which own the banks spanned by the bridge, don’t want this junked bridge publicized, for it show how little they care about the city. Pittsfield itself doesn’t want you to know this wreckage is still there, because it is an embarrassment and a disgrace to its leaders and an insult to its citizens.

On Dec. 12, Sen. Ben Downing told THE PLANET that the city “is aware of the bridge issue.” The senator said he had contacted the state and GE as well. Downing said the three parties “are talking and determining next steps.” We urge the senator to aggressively stay on top of this issue.

Who owns the bridge itself? Who is responsible for cleanup? How did the bridge collapse? An accident? A demolition? When was it felled? Are there any records? For what purpose was the bridge used? Was this bridge part of a dumping ground for industrial wastes? Is that why they’ve tried to keep you from knowing?

THE PLANET wonders: Has anything been resolved in cleaning up this monstrosity, or will it simply be forgotten?

GE, State, and City: Clean Up That Mess. Come clean.



THE PLANET HEARD that the remediation of pollution that has been going on for years on Elm Street, at the former Mobil gas station next to the former Friendly’s restaurant, is the site of one of the largest gas-oil pollution sites in Massachusetts. Is this true? If so, how come no one has told us? The Stooley says “a Boston geophysics company” is working at the location, next to Elm Street Car Wash. Is this pollution GE related or not? Are there any hazards for adjacent properties?

We have long wondered about that site. It is fenced off from the public. There are all sorts of strange looking machines there. And not one word of what it all means.

— THE PLANET HEARD that Angelo Stracuzzi, the disgraced former president of Greylock Federal Credit Union, who was charged by Maine police with four count criminal counts involving two teenage boys in two separate incidents stemming from July 2005, has been formally invited to Mayor-elect Dan Bianchi‘s inauguration in January. The general public is invited to the inauguration, of course, but dignitaries receive a formal, person invite. The Stooley says that Bianchi is not aware that Stracuzzi will be there, because the invitations were sent out by the city clerk’s office from city hall. THE PLANET wonders if Bianchi is OK with the presence of a man who — in failing himself, his family, his friends, and his community  — symbolizes everything that is sleezy, slimy, and creepy in GOB politics.

— THE PLANET HEARD that the third semi-serious injury has happened at the new skateboard park. The Stooley says one of the older kids, on a bike, who looked to be about 14 or 15, plowed into a much younger and smaller skateboarding boy, who ended up with a broken arm and lots of scrapes and bruises. The Stooley said the ‘accident’ appeared deliberate. This corresponds to other reports about this practice. Apparently, going hunting for kids younger and smaller than you is what some of these punk  skateboarders and bicyclists like to do. We used to call that bullying. The skatepark was the stupidest way to blow $150,000 in taxpayer money.

— THE PLANET HEARD that on Thursday evening, at a about 6:30 p.m., an assistant from the mayor’s office was seen in the newsroom of the Boring Broadsheet, “standing and directing discussion at the city news desk.” The Stooley didn’t have the details of the discussion, adding, “I can’t for the life of me think why she would be over there except for ‘policing’ content.” Would any of our readers be shocked to learn than city hall has sway over the reporting of local news by the BB? Hmmmmm?






    December 18, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

    Well if Dan Bianchi is ok with Angelo (pervert) Stracuzzi being there I will no longer be ok with Mr. Bianchi.

    • danvalenti
      December 19, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

      If in fact Mr. Stracuzzi was invited to attend the inauguration as a special, invited guest and dignitary, Mayor-elect Dan Bianchi MUST disinvite Mr. Stracuzzi, who can attend like anyone else, as a private citizen. No honors and no spot on the dais should go to Mr. Stracuzzi. This will be an important (symbolic) first “test” for Mr. Bianchi.

      • Jim Gleason
        December 19, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

        Not only was Stracuzzi on the list but Former Sheriff Massimiano, John Bissell, and Gerry Doyle were also on it. The only thing is that this isn’t the inauguration list, it;s the list for ruberto’s farewell party made out by him and sent out by Linda Tyer. She, on ruberto’s behalf has im the past years, at taxpayer expense for stamps and on city letterhead, illegally sent out invitations to his inaugurations. The campaigns are supposed to pay for EVERYTHING in a mayor’s swearing in and apparently this didn’t totally happen under ruberto. Surprised? I’m not.

    • Jim Gleason
      December 19, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

      Linda Tyer made out the invitation list and didn’t consult the Mayor-elect on who was or is on it and Dan IS NOT ok with Stracuzzi being there. I wonder who told her to include Angeblow? Does the name Squiggy ruberto sound right? It does to me.

  2. Shakes His Head
    December 18, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    I’d say maybe it was approval of the “mayor praises police” or The “homage” to Ruberto articles.

  3. dusty
    December 19, 2011 at 1:47 am #

    I don’t think it is a revelation that Rubertos watch dogs are both writing and editing content at the Berkshire Eagle. Did ya see the recent article painting Ruberto as the second coming of Christ? I would guess this thing was birthed in the corner office PR dept. and hand delivered to the Eagle by some pompous stuffed shirt with instructions to make sure it hit the print AS IS.

    • danvalenti
      December 19, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

      More power to Jimmy Ruberto, but shame on the BB. Its coverage of the “snooze” and its avoidance of The News is a shame. It is timid, toothless, and trembling. It is not a member of The Fourth Estate championing The Little Guy. THE PLANET has assumed that responsibility.

      • Shakes His Head
        December 19, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

        There were some critical statements of Ruberto in the online article, from Mazzeo and Ferrin. I don’t know if they were in the print article. I won’t say I think that everything he did as mayor was tainted. BUT…even if a decent, hardworking person robs a gas station because they believe they have no other choice, they are still a felon (and not that decent) and must face the consequences. I feel sorry for any other community desperate enough to think that charlatan is going to help anything but his own bottom line. Hopefully he’ll take JBIII with him to Florida.

  4. Bull Durham
    December 19, 2011 at 7:34 am #

    I just love how we sit and wait for Congress to extend a small tax cut for all of us, as they bicker over the minute details, while companies like GE just laugh at the tax code and shovel more money to their shareholders. And yet still my 401K is dying because Wall Street doesn’t feel that 4.74 billion is enough profit. This entire system is corrupt. What did “we the people” accomplish by pushing the Dems out of the House? Nothing. We just replaced them with Republicans who can’t get out of their own way. They claim they will “never” support a tax increase, and then by refusing to extend the payroll tax cut, they do just that.

    And both sides are complicit in this fiasco. Instead of just putting together a bill that extends the payroll tax cut, they both add ridiculously selfish and partisan amendments they know will never pass muster in the entire house and senate. Ron Paul looks better every day.

      December 19, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

      Dr. Paul is the ONLY choice.
      The rest of em seem to be clones of the moron in office at the present time.

  5. Rivetor
    December 19, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    An open message to DanBianchi. please please please see to it that Angelo Stracuzzi is nowhere near a place of honor or dignity on your inauguration, if that happens, it will ruin the day and it will be a shame for the city. Don’t let thathappen, please.

  6. Ray Ovac
    December 19, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

    DV, re: the secret little bridge off Eric Drive: It seems pretty clear judging from the time-stamped satellite images on Google Earth that the bridge only very recently became dislodged from its moorings, most certainly during the intense flooding of Tropical Storm Irene. What your own excellent photos show is the direct result of a huge pressure build-up behind the structure from river detritus (like those large tree limbs clearly shown above) caught up in the structure. To dislodge and move that bridge, water pressure on the structure had to be enormous. It’s quite a testament to the solidity and sturdiness of the design that the bridge held up as well as the photos indicate it has. It even looks as though with just a new set of footings, the old structure could be lifted back into place, reset, to last another 75 or so years.
    As you say, though, there is a more important question in all this, and that is just why was there need for a bridge in this location in the first place, and whether it was used to transport industrial chemical waste to the land on the other side of the bridge. Is there the equivalent of another Hill 78 or Silver Lake buried on the other side, waiting to be unearthed and revealed? Soil samples and test bores all need to be taken. Perhaps too there might be some old timers around from GE’s salad days who might have knowledge as to what was going on in that area, why GE owned property there, and what its use might have been.

    • Scott
      December 20, 2011 at 4:24 am #

      Well they dumped waste on every other property so what makes this one any different.

  7. Ray Ovac
    December 19, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    DV, regarding General Electric Co.’s lack of tax liability. So what? The less paid to Uncle Sam, the more to be distributed to shareowners in the form of dividends which indeed are taxed. And should the White House change hands in 2012 along with the Senate, you better believe the first order of business after disposing of ObamaCare (if the US Supreme Court doesn’t) will be hopefully to zero-out corporate income taxes, estate taxes, and capital gains taxes. If GE can take advantage of loop holes in the current impossible matrix of IRS regulations, so be it. At least you and all us little guys are afforded the opportunity to participate by buying GE stock at a rock bottom price and reaping what is now a 4%!!! dividend on a true Blue Chip. Not so, with not-for-profit, tax-exempt Berkshire Health Systems, Inc. wherein the beneficiaries of that firm’s nine-digit revenue stream are only those lucky enough to be in the senior executive suite. Meantime, there are no shareowners, either to keep BHS management accountable nor to share in the dividends BHS management plainly gets.

    • Steve Wade
      December 20, 2011 at 5:56 am #

      Ray Ovac = Glen Heller.

      • Ray Ovac
        December 20, 2011 at 7:27 am #

        Steve Wade = Former Pittsfield Mayor Gerry Doyle, the sobriety-challenged Good Ol’ Boy Democrat who sold Pittsfield down the river on the G.E. Consent Decree.

    • Molly
      December 20, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

      Although I agree that BHS shouldn’t be allowed to make those hundreds of millions of dollars tax free, that doesn’t make it right that a huge Corporation like GE doesn’t pay any taxes!! I have GE stock – a good portion of my retirement is in GE stock and guess what? All it has done (since Jack Welch left) is LOSE money! There’s no way that I could retire on that. So don’t tell me that people can reap huge benefits from buying GE stock – their stock sucks and has for years and years now. But their profits are still in the billions and why is it “ok” that they can take advantage of loopholes in IRS regulations to pay NO TAXES, thereby leaving it up to the rest of our struggling citizens to pay for all the waste in Washington because there are no “loopholes” for us? And how many TRILLION in debt are we now? Come on — how can you say, “so be it”??? This is just out and out WRONG!

      Don’t get me wrong – I am FOR companies/businesses/corporations both large and small. This is what our country is built upon – this is how people get jobs. And to tax the hell out of the them (or to regulate the hell out of them to the point of absurdity) is not going to bring any new jobs to this country. HOWEVER, they must also pay a fair piece of the tax pie and it’s well past time to overhaul the tax code to be sure that they do.

      • Ray Ovac
        December 20, 2011 at 12:48 pm #

        Molly, so how many times should GE’s corporate profits be taxed? Without the loopholes, if GE’s annual profits get taxed at 20% when GE first reports them to IRS, then why should those same profits get taxed a second time the moment they’re distributed as dividends to shareowners? Isn’t that double taxation?

        • The Kraken
          December 20, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

          Ray, when corporations pay its employees that gets taxed a 2nd time – the payroll tax. Why aren’t dividends being taxed at the higher tax rate like our paychecks are?
          And if GE got this huge tax break, where are all the jobs it created? You mean there aren’t any? Oh, that’s right, tax breaks to the wealthy and to corporations don’t really create jobs do they?

          • Ray Ovac
            December 20, 2011 at 8:22 pm #

            The Kraken, you’re comparing apples to oranges. GE pays compensation to its employees out of pretax revenues. That compensation is subject to the IRS tax rates in effect on personal income. That compensation is thus taxed once when the employee gets it. Whereas, dividends are paid out to shareowners from GE’s after-tax profit. Shareowners have already used after-tax monies when they originally bought their GE stock. GE’s corporate profit thus gets taxed twice – once as earnings and then again as dividends. Where’s the fairness in that?

  8. Scott
    December 19, 2011 at 7:26 pm #

    I called the company listed on the gate at the mobile on Elm a few years back and they wouldn’t give me any info on who was responsible for the contamination but just told me it was an on sight pollution cleaning system and asked me if the gates had been breached. There are old barrels in the back behind there maybe since the gas station wen’t out of business they’re using that as a cover to monitor PCB and other contaminant levels in the ground water. I’ve also seen a company check ground water over on east st across from KFC and that guy was very vague and reluctant to speak with me as well. There is a on site system on the infamous Rose property (which is listed as a Superfund site.) in Lanesborough they dumped tons of stuff up there and the ground water has reached the brook that flows into pontoosuc lake which is why the EPA has put up a fish advisory for that body of water but I don’t know why there’s not signs like Moorewood lake and the Housatonic river.

  9. Scott
    December 19, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

    If I had to bet that bridge led somewhere at some point and it wasn’t for easy access to go fishing in the river it was most likely to dump toxic waste. I’m not touching the tax issue whatever. I will point out though that PG & E were responsible for contaminating ground water with hexium chromium. There was a movie about it Erin Brockovich.

  10. San Simeon
    December 19, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

    The bridge to nowhere, aptly named, would be used for conveyance and dumping of industrial toxins, that would be the most reasonable conclusion. Agree with above: site needs to be tested to find out whats there and how dangerous it is. Its a residential area nearby, right? Good reporting.

    • Molly
      December 20, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

      There’s also a lot of farm land around there who also has a very popular corn stand on E. New Lenox Road. Makes me wonder just how nutritious, or poisoned, this corn is…

      • Scott
        December 20, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

        They had to stop producing milk there years ago because the cows drank out of the Housatonic so they def dumped there.

  11. Ray Ovac
    December 20, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    DV, you really think Angelo Stracuzzi would attend a Bianchi-related inaugural event knowing the likelihood of your publishing on PlanetValenti photographs documenting that attendance?