PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, DEC. 14, 2011) — With the opening of the new skatepark at the corner of East Street and Appleton Avenue across the street from Pittsfield High School, THE PLANET yesterday asked a series of questions. One we didn’t ask was: How long will it take before one of  the reckless little darlings gets hurt?

Within 30 Minutes of Opening, New Skatepark Claims Its First Little Darling

We got our answer in Facebook this morning, when a parent posted:

“Within the first half hour of the new skate park opening, my son (Name) fractured a growth plate in his ankle. Anyone with history about what we should expect”?

THE PLANET answers the parent’s plaintive call: Yes, we can expect more of the same. We can also report that the monkey bars in Deming Park stood for 50 years, and not one kid fractured a growth plate or a piece of Corningware. Monkey bars, sandboxes, and baseball fields are not as inviting of injury, see, as the tricks kids (let’s be specific: boys and young men) pull on their bikes and skateboards.

The city’s policy is that the user assumes all the risks for playing on park land, but we wonder: Will that be sufficient down the road to keep a lawsuit from an irresponsible parent out of the taxpayers’ mailbox?

We can also expect before long that the site will be trashed, “problems” will show up, drug deals will go down, and ugly “gang” graffiti will soon adorn the spanking new equipment. In fact, THE PLANET has started a pool — How soon will it be before the park sees its first spray-painted coating of graffiti? The over-under as determined by THE PLANET’s sports book of Jan. 1. Early action says the park will be defaced before the first of the year. Anyone want in?


Are the Pittsfield Police Afraid of the ‘Bad Actors’?

Speaking of crime, we heard from a one-time resident of the Lincoln Street area where a young man was gunned down and killed a week ago Sunday. Our source, who grew up there in the 1950s, says his daughter still lives in the neighborhood, and she speaks of how a small gang of thugs has moved in and terrorized the area. Police don’t seem to be interested, she says.

For example, this summer, a fight started. Soon, there were about 40 punks swinging it out with baseball bats and knives. Guns were pulled. The cops were immediately called. According to the story, they didn’t show up until 10 minutes after the fight broke up and the vermin had scattered back into their sewers. Why so long? Word on the street is that the Pittsfield police are afraid to tangle with these bad actors?

THE PLANET doesn’t believe this hold true of all the city’s cops, but even one is one too many.


The Politicization of Crime in the City

The crime prevention meeting held for the Morningside neighborhood on Monday night was the kind that provides cops, politicians, and community leaders a nice photo op on “looking concerned.” These meetings give the warm and fuzzy appearance that someone out there gives a hoot. Don’t be fooled by appearances. Intellectually, of course, they all do care, but that hasn’t translated into cleaning up the problems in neighborhoods like Morningside.

This meeting will have long came and went, and the wave of violence that has the city of Pittsfield within its icy grip will still be putting on the squeeze.

The Morningside residents voiced legitimate concerns over safety. They spoke of living in a neighborhood gripped with fear,  as if anyone in law enforcement needed to hear this. Fact is, the police have known of the hot spots for some time, but they seem powerless to stop it. Have they lost their will? Is the criminal justice system too hamstrung with rules and regulations? Whatever it is, the situation seems to be worsening, not getting better.

“They didn’t talk enough about what they’re going to do to prevent it from happening again,” said an unnamed woman, quoted in the story by the BB’s Ned Oliver. The reason for that, my good woman, is that police work is by nature reactive and not proactive. Police get involved after the crime has been committed, and generally not before.

The answer to solving crime lies within the human heart. We have free will. We choose right or wrong. We live with the consequences. Individuals who make life miserable for law forfeit their rights. Perhaps a little mob rule might wake people up, some frontier justice, a dab of vigilante vinegarette.


How Doctors Die

THE PLANET now shares a thought-provoking article on end-of-life issues. This article is written by a medical doctor. It describes how doctors, being on the inside of the national abomination that is the healthcare industry in America, do not want their own medicine. It explains in part why the cost of healthcare is so outrageously high, why extreme treatments for terminally ill people are shoved down their throats, and how money has replaced compassion as the driver in healthcare. We feel this article well fits in with the recent series we have presented centering around not-for-profit companies, particularly Berkshire Health Systems.



(Reprinted courtesy Nexus,

by Dr. Ken Murray, MD

Special to PLANET VALENTI News and Science

Years ago, Charlie, a highly respected orthopedist and a mentor of mine, found a lump in his stomach. He had a surgeon explore the area, and the diagnosis was pancreatic cancer. This surgeon was one of the best in the country. He had even invented a new procedure for this exact cancer that could triple a patient’s five-year-survival odds—from 5 percent to 15 percent—albeit with a poor quality of life. Charlie was uninterested.

He went home the next day, closed his practice, and never set foot in a hospital again. He focused on spending time with family and feeling as good as possible. Several months later, he died at home. He got no chemotherapy, radiation, or surgical treatment. Medicare didn’t spend much on him.

It’s not a frequent topic of discussion, but doctors die, too. And they don’t die like the rest of us. What’s unusual about them is not how much treatment they get compared to most Americans, but how little. For all the time they spend fending off the deaths of others, they tend to be fairly serene when faced with death themselves. They know exactly what is going to happen, they know the choices, and they generally have access to any sort of medical care they could want. But they go gently.

— * —

Of course, doctors don’t want to die; they want to live. But they know enough about modern medicine to know its limits. And they know enough about death to know what all people fear most: dying in pain, and dying alone. They’ve talked about this with their families. They want to be sure, when the time comes, that no heroic measures will happen—that they will never experience, during their last moments on earth, someone breaking their ribs in an attempt to resuscitate them with CPR (that’s what happens if CPR is done right).

Almost all medical professionals have seen what we call “futile care” being performed on people. That’s when doctors bring the cutting edge of technology to bear on a grievously ill person near the end of life. The patient will get cut open, perforated with tubes, hooked up to machines, and assaulted with drugs. All of this occurs in the Intensive Care Unit at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars a day. What it buys is misery we would not inflict on a terrorist. I cannot count the number of times fellow physicians have told me, in words that vary only slightly, “Promise me if you find me like this that you’ll kill me.” They mean it. Some medical personnel wear medallions stamped “NO CODE” to tell physicians not to perform CPR on them. I have even seen it as a tattoo.

To administer medical care that makes people suffer is anguishing. Physicians are trained to gather information without revealing any of their own feelings, but in private, among fellow doctors, they’ll vent. “How can anyone do that to their family members?” they’ll ask. I suspect it’s one reason physicians have higher rates of alcohol abuse and depression than professionals in most other fields. I know it’s one reason I stopped participating in hospital care for the last 10 years of my practice.

— * —

How has it come to this—that doctors administer so much care that they wouldn’t want for themselves? The simple, or not-so-simple, answer is this: patients, doctors, and the system.

To see how patients play a role, imagine a scenario in which someone has lost consciousness and been admitted to an emergency room. As is so often the case, no one has made a plan for this situation, and shocked and scared family members find themselves caught up in a maze of choices. They’re overwhelmed. When doctors ask if they want “everything” done, they answer yes. Then the nightmare begins. Sometimes, a family really means “do everything,” but often they just mean “do everything that’s reasonable.” The problem is that they may not know what’s reasonable, nor, in their confusion and sorrow, will they ask about it or hear what a physician may be telling them. For their part, doctors told to do “everything” will do it, whether it is reasonable or not.

The above scenario is a common one. Feeding into the problem are unrealistic expectations of what doctors can accomplish. Many people think of CPR as a reliable lifesaver when, in fact, the results are usually poor. I’ve had hundreds of people brought to me in the emergency room after getting CPR. Exactly one, a healthy man who’d had no heart troubles (for those who want specifics, he had a “tension pneumothorax”), walked out of the hospital. If a patient suffers from severe illness, old age, or a terminal disease, the odds of a good outcome from CPR are infinitesimal, while the odds of suffering are overwhelming. Poor knowledge and misguided expectations lead to a lot of bad decisions.

But of course it’s not just patients making these things happen. Doctors play an enabling role, too. The trouble is that even doctors who hate to administer futile care must find a way to address the wishes of patients and families. Imagine, once again, the emergency room with those grieving, possibly hysterical, family members. They do not know the doctor. Establishing trust and confidence under such circumstances is a very delicate thing. People are prepared to think the doctor is acting out of base motives, trying to save time, or money, or effort, especially if the doctor is advising against further treatment.

— * —

Some doctors are stronger communicators than others, and some doctors are more adamant, but the pressures they all face are similar. When I faced circumstances involving end-of-life choices, I adopted the approach of laying out only the options that I thought were reasonable (as I would in any situation) as early in the process as possible. When patients or families brought up unreasonable choices, I would discuss the issue in layman’s terms that portrayed the downsides clearly. If patients or families still insisted on treatments I considered pointless or harmful, I would offer to transfer their care to another doctor or hospital.

Should I have been more forceful at times? I know that some of those transfers still haunt me. One of the patients of whom I was most fond was an attorney from a famous political family. She had severe diabetes and terrible circulation, and, at one point, she developed a painful sore on her foot. Knowing the hazards of hospitals, I did everything I could to keep her from resorting to surgery. Still, she sought out outside experts with whom I had no relationship. Not knowing as much about her as I did, they decided to perform bypass surgery on her chronically clogged blood vessels in both legs. This didn’t restore her circulation, and the surgical wounds wouldn’t heal. Her feet became gangrenous, and she endured bilateral leg amputations. Two weeks later, in the famous medical center in which all this had occurred, she died.

It’s easy to find fault with both doctors and patients in such stories, but in many ways all the parties are simply victims of a larger system that encourages excessive treatment. In some unfortunate cases, doctors use the fee-for-service model to do everything they can, no matter how pointless, to make money. More commonly, though, doctors are fearful of litigation and do whatever they’re asked, with little feedback, to avoid getting in trouble.

— * —

Even when the right preparations have been made, the system can still swallow people up. One of my patients was a man named Jack, a 78-year-old who had been ill for years and undergone about 15 major surgical procedures. He explained to me that he never, under any circumstances, wanted to be placed on life support machines again. One Saturday, however, Jack suffered a massive stroke and got admitted to the emergency room unconscious, without his wife. Doctors did everything possible to resuscitate him and put him on life support in the ICU. This was Jack’s worst nightmare. When I arrived at the hospital and took over Jack’s care, I spoke to his wife and to hospital staff, bringing in my office notes with his care preferences. Then I turned off the life support machines and sat with him. He died two hours later.

Even with all his wishes documented, Jack hadn’t died as he’d hoped. The system had intervened. One of the nurses, I later found out, even reported my unplugging of Jack to the authorities as a possible homicide. Nothing came of it, of course; Jack’s wishes had been spelled out explicitly, and he’d left the paperwork to prove it. But the prospect of a police investigation is terrifying for any physician. I could far more easily have left Jack on life support against his stated wishes, prolonging his life, and his suffering, a few more weeks. I would even have made a little more money, and Medicare would have ended up with an additional $500,000 bill. It’s no wonder many doctors err on the side of overtreatment.

But doctors still don’t over-treat themselves. They see the consequences of this constantly. Almost anyone can find a way to die in peace at home, and pain can be managed better than ever. Hospice care, which focuses on providing terminally ill patients with comfort and dignity rather than on futile cures, provides most people with much better final days. Amazingly, studies have found that people placed in hospice care often live longer than people with the same disease who are seeking active cures. I was struck to hear on the radio recently that the famous reporter Tom Wicker had “died peacefully at home, surrounded by his family.” Such stories are, thankfully, increasingly common.

— * —

Several years ago, my older cousin Torch (born at home by the light of a flashlight—or torch) had a seizure that turned out to be the result of lung cancer that had gone to his brain. I arranged for him to see various specialists, and we learned that with aggressive treatment of his condition, including three to five hospital visits a week for chemotherapy, he would live perhaps four months. Ultimately, Torch decided against any treatment and simply took pills for brain swelling. He moved in with me.

We spent the next eight months doing a bunch of things that he enjoyed, having fun together like we hadn’t had in decades. We went to Disneyland, his first time. We’d hang out at home. Torch was a sports nut, and he was very happy to watch sports and eat my cooking. He even gained a bit of weight, eating his favorite foods rather than hospital foods. He had no serious pain, and he remained high-spirited. One day, he didn’t wake up. He spent the next three days in a coma-like sleep and then died. The cost of his medical care for those eight months, for the one drug he was taking, was about $20.

Torch was no doctor, but he knew he wanted a life of quality, not just quantity. Don’t most of us? If there is a state of the art of end-of-life care, it is this: death with dignity. As for me, my physician has my choices. They were easy to make, as they are for most physicians. There will be no heroics, and I will go gentle into that good night. Like my mentor Charlie. Like my cousin Torch. Like my fellow doctors.

Ken Murray, MD, is Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at USC.






    December 14, 2011 at 8:15 am #

    Picture in Eagle showed them flying through the air NO HELMETS

    December 14, 2011 at 8:19 am #

    Agree about you article about crime DV However how about holding the parents responsible. They are the biggest problem.

    • Rivetor
      December 14, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

      Yup. It’s the parents first, concerned. I drove by the skatepark today. There were about 4 or 5 kids crossing Appleton, taking their sweet time, causing me to stop after just making a left turn from East street, and I blow the horn. One gives me the finger. Then in park itself several with no helmets looking like there trying to get hurt. Planet is right. Theres a lawsuit coming for hte citydown the road. Bad bad idea this park.

      • danvalenti
        December 14, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

        Thanks, Rivetor

    • danvalenti
      December 14, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

      Yes, parents MUST be held accountable for their chittlins until the brats turn 18.

  3. Bull Durham
    December 14, 2011 at 9:27 am #

    Much of what I see in the physician’s article on end of life care is sadly true, but the “blame” goes up even further. Physicians are taught to do whatever they can to save lives, and as we’ve seen, some take this to extremes, but… the patient and family are often an equal partner, and the biggest culprit isn’t the doctors, families or even the hospitals. It’s a national system called Medicare and it handles end-of-life care miserably, by throwing money at it instead of common sense and compassion.

    Every time a politician proposes changes to end of life care, they are hit with the dreaded “you want to establish death panels” label. How can anything change when there is so much divisiveness on each and every healthcare issue between the “liberals” and “conservatives.” (I don’t know about you, but I’ve found the majority of people I know are neither – they’re somewhere in the middle of being lib or conservative).

    My father died of pancreatic cancer many years ago. His doctor, who is local and retired, gave us all of the options. My dad chose chemo, but when it became clear it only reduced his quality of life, he dropped out. He spent his final days at BMC, in no pain, and I honestly feel the doctor who cared for him intentionally gave him more morphine that final day to help him pass sooner, and that was the right thing to do.

    My mother died five years ago. She has a bowel obstruction and had spent the past few years before that losing weight due to an endocrinology disorder. When her bowel obstruction happened, she had emergency surgery to remove it, and the doctor found colon cancer. He recommended chemo and radiation, and my mom said no. She demanded that she be placed only on pain medication and be allowed to die. She was placed in the hospice unit at BMC, and we later found out the doctor who operated on her countermanded her explicit instructions and put her back on nutritive care. We immediately told the nurses to remove it, and they did (and they agreed with us).

    I spoke with the doctor later, and I believe he genuinely felt she could have recovered and lived longer, and had a decent quality of life – but he couldn’t guarantee that. I don’t blame him for thinking that or for wanting to help her. I think this is why families need to be very explicit in backing the wishes of their loved ones, and react quickly if that doesn’t happen.

    End of life care is becoming a much more publicized issue, and it deserves to be. I agree with much of what this physician writes, but I also think the biggest step that needs to happen is for the politicians to get out of the way and stop pushing agendas on healthcare for their own motives.

    • Ray Ovac
      December 14, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

      Bill Durham, sorry to hear about your loss. Where did your folks reside during their time in Berkshire County? The diseases you describe are all symptomatic of exposure to the types of industrial chemicals General Electric Co. dumped throughout the local environment.

      • Bull Durham
        December 14, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

        My father actually worked for GE Transformers, as a supervisor, and he often commented, after the first PCB exposure stories came out, “I had my arms in that oil up to my elbows day in and day out, no gloves, nothing…” He died when he was 69. Mom didn’t pass until she was 85, and she had, unfortunately, refused her colonoscopy screening the final four or five years, even though she had polyps before.

        I’ve always believed Dad got the cancer from the PCBs, and his oncologist even said it’s normally a cancer related to “environmental factors.”

        We grew up on the south side of Pittsfield, off of South Street.

        • danvalenti
          December 14, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

          THE PLANET renews its call for all incoming politicians and officials to
          1. Insist on the removal and full cleanup of Hill 78
          2. Insist on the removal and full cleanup of Silver Lake
          3. Seriously explore reopening the Consent Agreement
          4. Calling out GE for the massive pollution it has left in Pittsfield’s air, water, and soil.

    • danvalenti
      December 14, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

      Excellent post. Thanks you for sharing your personal story. I am sorry for your loss.

  4. joetaxpayer
    December 14, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    Should make helments mandatory for anyone using park,kids must protect there melons from turning into squash.

    • dusty
      December 14, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

      So let me get this straight. If a kid rides his bicycle at 5 mph down the sidewalk on North street, he legally needs a helmet. However, if he wants to ride a skateboard up and down a cement obstacle course doing spins, handstands and jumps he can legally wear a pair of headphones in lieu of a helmet?

      Its all a cartoon’s not really real

  5. Ron Kitterman
    December 14, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    I heard these kids on WBRK a few months back on either Diva or Sturgeon general. You got to hand it to them though they convienced the city to hand over $150 K of our money for this project. I’m not sure, but I don’t think they are registered voters. I don’t think helmets protect against broken ankles though, so like Jimmy says parks don’t to be for baseball with grass and tress like they use to be…

    • danvalenti
      December 14, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

      As you say, they pulled one over on the city. These parks are bad news, if not policed … and the city has not, in the past, done this. So until they begin doing it, or until the kids themselves do a lot of growing up in a lot of hurry, THE PLANET sees this as a waste of taxpayer dollars.

      • Steve Wade
        December 14, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

        Dan People bitch that there is nothing for kids to do in Pittsfield but when they try to do something like this park they bitch that its a waist of tax dollars. What would you have done Dan?

        • joetaxpayer
          December 14, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

          Steve kids will always bitch(adults too)there is nothing to do.The fact is there is more than enough.All you have to have is alittle faith in the kids to find there niche.Should that be skating skiing,bmxing where ever there passion lies.My thought is make all wear protective gear.

        • danvalenti
          December 14, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

          I would NOT have funded a skatepark at that location, for six figures, that’s for sure. I would have left it up to kids and parents to create their own facilities in back yards and other private locations, with their own resources. This is not a team activity, and it doesn’t need public fields. I would also unplug their screens, boot them outside, and encourage them to explore having fun. Or are they too jaded, wasted, and programmed to know how to do that anymore?

          • Shakes His Head
            December 15, 2011 at 8:42 am #

            Aren’t the precious little snowflakes outside, having fun? There is adequate signage to explain the risks involved, but its close to what would be at Bosquet. Whether it is what I did as a kid or not doesnt matter, these are kids in the now.

  6. Shakes His Head
    December 14, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    Local government liability is capped within Mass. The manufacturer or installer of the equipment is the only one liable, and likely only if there is a defect or improper installation.

    At least they aren’t terrorizing North Street (as much). It appears the Planet’s solution was to just outlaw bikes and stkateboards. I wonder if the Planet would support CCTV cameras at the skate park so it could be monitored since it is a magnet for felonious activity.

    • Steve Wade
      December 14, 2011 at 11:12 am #

      Hopefully the kids will police this on their own.

      • Still wondering
        December 14, 2011 at 11:16 am #

        Oh sure they will, Steve.

        • Steve Wade
          December 14, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

          SW You never know. If this place means so much to them who knows?

      • danvalenti
        December 14, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

        I share your hope. It’s all up to them, to “police this on their own.”

  7. Dave
    December 14, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    With the ongoing gang activity in the city and them wanting to “mark” their turf, I would guess that it will be a relativley short time before the grafitti will be visible at the skate park.

    As far as kids getting hurt at the skate park and not wearing helmets: I have a harsh perspective. There is not nearly enough individual accountablility in this world.

    When I was a kid (here we go), there were no laws requiring seat belts in cars or helmets for kids riding bicycles. As a kid, if you were not careful you suffered the consequences. Most of us survived but not without incidents.

    If you did something stupid like taking your homemade go cart down the steepest hill in the neighborhood and crashed and lost major amounts of skin or broke a bone, you not only suffered the physical repercussions, you also had to go home to answer to mom and dad. More than likely you would be punished by your parents for doing something stupid. It was all part of growing up.

    It is my humble opinion, in this day and age, we are far too quick to blame someone else when we are stupid and get hurt when in reality it is our own fault. We are far too quick to attempt to shift the blame to someone else and sue. The city has provided what appears to be an awesome skake board park and if a kid gets hurt, why is it the city’s fault and why should the city be held responsible if a kid choses to use it and gets hurt because he isn’t wearing a helmet. Lets suspose that we make a rule requiring helmet use. Will there be a new position made: helmet policeman?

    We are far to quick to try to protect us from ourselves. We are far to quick to aim the blame to someone else when we get hurt.

    I look at it differently. Lets teach individual responsibility and have people be responsible for their own actions.

    • danvalenti
      December 14, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

      Agree 1000%. Let’s teach bad actors about personal responsibility. We must teach then that good choices have good consequences and bad ones have bad. If parents won’t do their job, then hit them, too … in the pocketbook or, if they won’t pay, some jail time.

  8. Joe Blow
    December 14, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    C’mon Dan…..lumping these kid’s in with gangs is silly! Gang member are more likely to be on the basketball or football team. I’m sure some kid’s at that skate do drugs BUT drug deals go down everywhere in this city…I hear you can score some good roids at the p.p.d! The most dangerous sport for a teen is believe it or not cheerleading! When I was growing I was terrible at traditional team sport,I wish they had a skate park when I was a kid. I just read in the paper today the city is spending 500 grand on light’s for w. park,,,pffffft you come off as a grumpy old man today!

    • danvalenti
      December 14, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

      JOE B
      My post simply makes the connection between gang activity and skateparks, which is based on Pittsfield’s previous experience at the Common and on the experience at the East and Appleton site. The latter, when it was an impromptu skatepark, “featured” lots of littler and was well-known as a place of drug dealing and using. When you gets drugs, you get the gangs. The connection is undeniable.

      • joetaxpayer
        December 14, 2011 at 7:18 pm #

        see your point dan but the skate park in Lee seems like the best park for drug activitity,with the close aproximinity to the pike.

      • Scott
        December 15, 2011 at 4:13 am #

        Dan a lot of skate kids are straight edge.

    • Dave
      December 15, 2011 at 6:20 am #

      Open your perspective window a little bit. Drug dealers are constantly looking to expand markets. If there is a “collection” of prospective clients, would you not think that the drug dealers would have representation at that facility?

      • danvalenti
        December 15, 2011 at 8:48 am #

        Sad, but soooooooooooo true.

  9. Ray Ovac
    December 14, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    DV writes, “The city’s policy is that the user assumes all the risks for playing on park land, but we wonder: Will that be sufficient down the road to keep a lawsuit from an irresponsible parent out of the taxpayers’ mailbox?”
    Not to worry, DV. if not a single Pittsfield resident in one hundred years has had the stones to sue General Electric Co. for polluting the local environment with toxic chemicals and/or the City for never doing anything to stop it, then it’s a pretty good bet that lawsuits over skate park injuries are not a serious consideration.

  10. Tito
    December 14, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    Well, first of all we knew there would be a injury sooner or later. That’s not a surprise,is it

  11. Scott
    December 14, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    #1 Skating is a dangerous sport and the ones that do it take the risk and responsibility along with it period.

    #2 “Police get involved after the crime has been committed, and generally not before.” This is a little known FACT by the general public aka SHEEP it’s something the anti gun lobby won’t see the police can NOT be every where to protect every one at all times it’s not their job anyways.

    #3 I’m totally gong to let nature take it’s natural course. PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE people think about it. Every time you shove a doughnut in your fat face, chomp down a bag of chips and wash it all down with a diet coke you are potentially shaving years off of a quality life. It still baffles me that people can afford to smoke I mean I can’t and I make decent money.

    • Ray Ovac
      December 14, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

      Scott: As the centenarian said to his doctor, “I don’t smoke, and I don’t drink, and two out of three ain’t bad!”

      • Scott
        December 14, 2011 at 5:30 pm #

        Whats the third?

        • danvalenti
          December 14, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

          I think the third is, what else, women.

          • Dave
            December 15, 2011 at 6:23 am #

            Women. Can’t live with them, shouldn’t ???????

            I keep forgetting how the rest of this goes. I am pretty sure is doesn’t go well.

  12. Tito
    December 14, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

    My doctor told me I had six months to live, when I couldn’t pay the bill, he gave me another six months.

    • danvalenti
      December 14, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

      True story: For awhile, I wrote jokes for Henny Youngman.

      • Ray Ovac
        December 14, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

        DV, Can you give us a sample of some of the jokes you wrote for Youngman which he used in his act?

        • danvalenti
          December 15, 2011 at 8:55 am #

          RAY O
          Yes. First let me say I met Henny Youngman in Syracuse, 1977, when I was did a story on him for the Post-Standard. We hit it off. Next thing I know, I’m helping him with material for a couple gigs he had at Syracuse University. I maintained a relationship with him throughout the 80s. In fact, in 1983, I produced a concert starring The King of the One Liners, with the opening act the band RUDE. Show was held at the Boys Club in Pittsfield. Wrote lots of jokes, but the only one he actually used was this:

          “The other day I walked by a bookstore. In the window, they had a book called ‘The World’s Greatest Optical Illusions.’ I went in to buy it. When the manager went to get the book, it wasn’t there.”

          Badda Boom.

          • Ray Ovac
            December 15, 2011 at 9:05 am #


          • Ray Ovac
            December 15, 2011 at 9:14 am #

            DV, did Youngman fine tune the joke or did he use it exactly as you wrote it?

          • danvalenti
            December 15, 2011 at 9:33 am #

            Geez, what is this? The Third Degree?
            He used the joke the way I wrote it. I was I, in fact, who sometimes helped him fine-tune his jokes. Example:
            “I have a nephew. He’s not very good at anything, but he finally got a job. He now works as a Moam Back. You know, guy who stands behind garbage trucks when they’re backing up and says, “Moam back.”

            I remember our discussion, where I advised shortening the delivery. He agreed. It became:

            “My nephew works as a Moam Back. You know, the guy who stands behind garbage trucks and says, “Moam back.” Every time, this version got bigger laughs.

  13. Scott
    December 14, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    Diabetes’s is on the rise in this country but it’s not all the processed sugary foods and lack of whole food in one’s diet if you ask the average person.

    • danvalenti
      December 14, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

      Put junk into your body, and there won’t be good outcomes.

  14. Molly
    December 15, 2011 at 12:59 am #

    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?

    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?) 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).

    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!!!!

    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:

    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…

    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.

    • Molly
      December 15, 2011 at 1:06 am #

      Again, my comment is awaiting moderation… Why is it just me??

      • Dave
        December 15, 2011 at 6:25 am #

        Double secret probation??

    • Molly
      December 15, 2011 at 7:27 am #

      Yep – there it is in today’s BB – taxes are going UP (again)! I scooped the BB. I didn’t know that they are voting on it TONIGHT!! Flipping BB – very little time to contact our Councilors!!! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Yet again, the BB screws us and reports on things only when they are told to!!! And they expect me to PAY for that? No way…

      • Shakes His Head
        December 15, 2011 at 8:45 am #

        The Mayor’s office kept them from printing it until today so that it would fly under the radar. maybe next year, without JB3 getting his gravy payoff, the City can have enough surplus to not have to increase taxes.

        • danvalenti
          December 15, 2011 at 8:47 am #

          The tax classification hearing is tonight. Hang on to your wallets, everybody.

      • danvalenti
        December 15, 2011 at 8:47 am #

        BB = Fish wrap

    • danvalenti
      December 15, 2011 at 8:51 am #

      FANTASTIC post. It will be featured on THE PLANET today.

    • Ray Ovac
      December 15, 2011 at 9:23 am #

      Here is a listing of Berkshire Health Systems, Inc.’s corporate subsidiaries and related firms :

      1. Berkshire Health Systems, Inc.
      2. Berkshire Medical Center, Inc.
      3. Fairview Hospital, Inc.
      4. Berkshire Faculty Services, Inc.
      5. Berkshire Indemnity Company, SPC, LTD
      6. BHS Management Services, Inc.
      7. Berkshire Healthcare Systems, Inc.
      8. Bourne Management Systems, Inc.
      9. Greenfield Management Systems, Inc.
      10. New Bedford Management Systems, Inc.
      11. Northampton Management Systems, Inc.
      12. East Longmeadow Management Systems, Inc.
      13. Danvers Management Systems, Inc.
      14. Peabody Management Systems, Inc.
      15. South Yarmouth Management Systems, Inc.
      16. Berkshire Pennsylvania, Inc.
      17. Xenia East Management Systems, Inc.
      18. Willowood of Great Barrington, Inc.
      19. Willowood of North Adams, Inc.
      20. Willowood of Williamstown, Inc.
      21. Hillcrest Extended Care Services, Inc.
      22. Berkshire Retirement Community, Inc.
      23. Berkshire Extended Care Services, Inc.
      24. Integri Nurse, Inc.
      25. Integriscript, Inc.
      26. Hospicecare in the Berkshires
      27. Pittsfield Management Systems, Inc.

      Link to Guidestar at PDF pgs. 22, 23, 24, & 25:

    • Ray Ovac
      December 15, 2011 at 9:44 am #

      Molly, Mt. Greylock Extended Care Facility is not listed as a separate corporate entity on Berkshire Health Systems, Inc.’s IRS Form 990 for the period ended Sept. 30, 2010, nor does show MGECF as being registered as a separate tax-exempt, not-for-profit organization. It may be a part of one of BHS, Inc.’s other subsidiaries or related companies.

      • Molly
        December 16, 2011 at 12:46 am #

        Thanks Ray – and for the list of corporations under the BHS umbrella. I’ll look for it — it’s buried there somewhere!

  15. Giacometti
    December 15, 2011 at 6:12 am #

    Graffiti can be stopped by using acrylic coating used on public art on West Coast where graffiti artists number more than shopping carts….if the City wants to invest in stopping graffiti it has to put the coating on before first marks are made

  16. Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
    December 15, 2011 at 10:24 am #

    Word has it that the kid who fell first at the skate park is the 10yr old son of a prominent local jewelry store owner.

    • Steve Wade
      December 15, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

      WOW Riviting News Hilly!!!!!

  17. dusty
    December 15, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    Amongst all the other pork projects for payola to special interest friends is the half million dollar lights for Waconah park. You say your taxes are going up? Can you count the number of dubious projects that have been undertaken by city hall in the last three years alone? Ruberto is CLUELESS and HEARTLESS….I hope he moves far far away when his term is up What could the people of Pittsfield possibly have done to deserve this man?

    • Molly
      December 16, 2011 at 12:45 am #

      They elected him, over and over again! So they DID deserve him! It’s those of us who never voted for him that didn’t deserve him…

      I agree – a lot of money for Wahconah Park lights! Do we even have a baseball team going to be using it?

  18. Ray Ovac
    December 15, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

    Molly, what makes you think anyone in Pittsfield has the stones to sue the City over cracked skulls on a skating ramp, especially when the largest class action in American history is festering right here in the ground, in the water, and in the air surrounding everybody and every other living thing and no one is doing a damn thing about it. Given the various body organs affected from the bladder to the pancreas to the brain, given the undeniable Cancer Clusters, given the extensive numbers of related deaths, and of course the vast numbers of lives ultimately affected throughout the city, not to mention the effect of unremediated chemical pollution on local property values, $100 Billion is not an unreasonable amount of damages to seek in a class action that would involve the entire populace of an American city pitted against the nation’s largest industrial corporation. It’s very likely that $100B is the lower end of the scale of damages and that a more realistic estimation of total damages would come up with a figure that is a multiple of that number.

    • Molly
      December 16, 2011 at 12:39 am #

      Excellent points, Ray. And if local government’s liability is capped in MA, then most lawyers won’t want to go after the city for that reason alone. But I think the city kind of left themselves open on this one with building these cement structures and an environment where kids can get seriously injured, with no one to supervise or to enforce that helmets be worn, etc.

      Maybe it’s GE’s big money that scares some people away (vs attracting them to it) as GE isn’t afraid to spend really big bucks defending a lawsuit? Or maybe more accurately, their big bucks/big legal teams scare the lawyers away? Or perhaps there will be some PCB lawsuits coming up in the near future? I honestly don’t know. What do you think are the reasons?

  19. Tito
    December 15, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

    Mike ward just said most people expect a two to three tax percent valuations are down, crime and income are not factori

    I don’t know what was more ridiculous, a councilor saying most people expect a tax increase of two or three percent or the mayor and his ridiculous tie.