Article

MR MITT FLYING, MR. JAKE NOT RE-APPLYING, PEDA DYING, AND LOCAL THEATERS TRYING

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

ADD 1, THURSDAY JAN. 15

The PEDA board meeting is tomorrow at 8 a.m., at the PEDA offices, 81 Kellogg St., near Woodlawn. Mike Ward, who has engineered a petition to fight the stupid use of the sight as a B- or C-level Big Box manufacturing site (sign on at  http://bit.ly/sB8VAc) will be there along with others. Ward is looking for a show of force and support. This is an opportunity for you to be counted and make a difference. This is an chance for We The People to demonstrate that we don’t appreciate PEDA’s lack of transparency, and not just on PEDALS (the PEDA Land Swindle). THE PLANET will try to make the meeting as well, although much depends on our schedule, which is heavy-laden with deadlined writing assignments. 

Spread the word, people. One tells two. Two tells four. Four tells eight. Let’s show up tomorrow at 8 a.m. (a time selected deliberately to keep you away). Let’s give them a taste of The People.

THE PLANET thanks WBRK’s Chip Hodgkins and morning host Bill Sturgeon for the invite to be on today and with frequency in the future. We feel comfy cozy at our once-radio home. Bill and THE PLANET gave a full-throated discussion to PEDALS and to the resignation of Jake Eberwein.

THE PLANET will next be on from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Jan., 19.

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(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, JAN. 5, 2012) — MR. MITT FLYING HIGHMitt Romney‘s win in Iowa puts him a step closer to where he will ultimately be. And you all know where that is, don’t cha? “My fellow Americans …”

PEDA MEETING FRIDAY — They don’t want you to know about it, but the PEDA board meets Friday at 8 a.m. at its Woodlawn Avenue offices in Pittsfield. If you go to the Bog-awful website of this Agency of Pointlessness as currently managed, you will find no mention of the meeting. This “quasi-public” agency has “news” as old as Gerry Staley and little else. The home page has a blurb in tiny type that tells us “PEDA’s work must be transparent, fiscally and socially responsible, socially and environmentally sustainable, consistent, inclusive, equitable, and Jerry Mathers as the Beaver.” We made up that last part. All seriousness aside, does Corydon Thurston and the others actually expect their cobbled efforts of mush to create the interest of outside investors? Really, Corydon? Don’t you also love how they meet at 8 a.m., to assure no one will make it? On the Friday agenda: MountainOne, Action Ambulance, and Waterstone Development.

APOLOGISTS IN BLOOMJake Eberwein got the job as Pittsfield Superintendent as much on the basis of the city’s incestuous politics than on any outstanding ability. He had the requisite degree and the requisite number of years in the city school system, plus he had connections with “the right people.” It didn’t make him Montessori‘s gift to our Kinder Gartens. It did bring a lot of political loyalty, as you can read in the remarks of those who are required (for good standing) to sings Jake’s praises. The guy didn’t see to the utter demise of the Pittsfield Public Schools. We’ll give him that much. Besides, deadbeat parents are doing a pretty good job of that. And example of the unabashed praise can be found in this Facebook posting from my Right Honorable Good Friend, the Ward 6 representative:

Jake faced taking the reigns of the school system. He has ushered in significant improvements in the drop-out rates, MCAS scores, the most diverse range of AP courses in the county, his leadership instilled greater pride and confidence in our schools among teachers, students and the entire community. He’s also been incredibly effective in identifying young talent to serve as principals who provide forward-thinking, innovative leadership in our schools. This has created a great new team of leaders for the future.

Uh, right, John Krol. You can stop talking now, the mic is dead. Krol conveniently sidesteps the net loss of $3 million plus due to school choice, the unrestrained money grab, unimpressive testing, inability of graduates to do college level work, the PHS Prank Night scandal, the lack of accountability in the system. As long as politicians like Krol want to insist on the greatness of mediocrity, Pittsfield shall continue its journey into the depths.

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THEATRICALLY SPEAKING, ONE WAS TONE DEAF AND ONE WASN’T

A few days ago, THE PLANET received this comment from Max:

The other day I received an email from Julianne Boyd, Artistic Director at Barrington Stage Company, requesting a contribution from me. I recalled that I (and each of you along with every citizen of Pittsfield) has already contributed to them this year, to the tune of $500,000.00 that was given to them from The City Of Pittsfield from the “GE Fund”.

My reply to this email stated just that and asked for an explanation of why they are asking me for more contributions. The following is the response that I received:

“Thanks for your message. Like all nonprofits we rely on donations from individuals, foundations, government and corporations to stay in business. Donations not only support the work of the theatre, but also support important educational programs that serve our community, including our Playwright Mentoring Project (PMP) which serves at-risk youth in Pittsfield and North Adams. PMP serves over 60 students per year and has received national attention (and a distinguished award from Laura Bush) as a model program for teens in need.

In 2007, Barrington Stage was awarded a loan of $500,000 and the Colonial Theatre was awarded a loan of $1M through the City’s GE Fund. Let me clarify that this was not tax payer money–it was actually given to the City by GE. There were many conditions that we had to meet in order to be forgiven from this loan, including remaining in the City for over five years and giving back to the community through educational programs for youth. Also, our award was a very small percentage the total given to the City by GE. According to a 2008 article published in HomeStyle Magazine, the total amount that GE gave to Pittsfield included $250 million in cleanup funds, a $15.3 million redevelopment fund and a gift of $10 million payable over ten annual installments.

We are very proud that the City invested in us through the GE Fund and we have worked hard to make sure that investment is paying off. Each year, BSC draws thousands of people downtown Pittsfield to shop, dine and stroll before they attend our theatre productions. We feel that we have made a big impact on our downtown and continue to take pride in being a good neighbor to this community.

Thanks for attending our productions and we hope to see you again next summer. Happy holidays to you and your family.

Warmest regards,
Michelle Clarkin
Director of Development
Barrington Stage Company”

Remember, this is a “Tax Exempt Corporation” (yes, another one – this time listed under EDUCATIONAL) who doesn’t pay any real estate taxes. Although I really like Barrington Stage, understand the value of having quality theater in our city, have enjoyed going to see some of their plays, and would certainly be greatly saddened if they had to close, I thought the tone of this letter was poor to say the least and as well, I didn’t like the attitude!!

The “City’s GE Fund” belongs to the CITIZENS OF PITTSFIELD!! Just what the heck does she mean “Let me clarify – This was not tax payer money – it was given to The City by GE”!! Holy Cow – I can’t believe that statement! And also the statement “This was a very small percentage of the total given to The City by GE”!!! Oh well then, we should’ve given Barrington Stage MUCH MORE money then! That money could have been spent on not giving us taxpayers yet another tax increase this year!

In addition, although I enjoy going to the theater, I can no longer afford to go to the theater! The per ticket price of seeing “Guys & Dolls” on a Saturday evening was $60 for Section A seats, $54 for Section B and $40 for Section C. However, it is extremely difficult to get a Section B or C seat as by far, the majority of seats are in Section A (61%) compared to Section B (25%) and Section C (14%). And Stage 2 tickets are $39. Who can afford to bring their family to the theater at those prices? I can’t any longer as my real estate taxes have gone up EVERY SINGLE YEAR for the past 8 years! By contrast, I can see “Les Miserable” via “Broadway Across America” (superb top-notch production!) in Boston for a price range of $30 to $125, with the majority of the seats in the Orchestra Section for $42.50.

As I said, they are yet another “tax exempt corporation” who doesn’t pay any taxes and who’s income last year was 3.1 MILLION. In addition, they received a State Grant (TAX PAYER MONEY) for $390,000.00 in 2009 (2011 Grants apparently haven’t been published yet). Colonial Theatre’s income was 1.94 million and Berkshire Theater Festival’s income was 2.8 million. I’d say that they’re doing just fine and my contribution this year has to go to The City Of Pittsfield to help me pay the increase in my property taxes! How many of us have ever had a $500,000.00 forgiven?

What’s your opinion?

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That’s how Max ends, for your opinion, and we invite it as well.

 

 

We share Max’s amazement at the incredulous statement of Ms. Clarkin: In 2007, Barrington Stage was awarded a loan of $500,000 and the Colonial Theatre was awarded a loan of $1M through the City’s GE Fund. Let me clarify that this was not tax payer money–it was actually given to the City by GE. MICHELLE, my belle, let THE PLANET clarify: Every hard-earned penny in the $10 million GE Fund was indeed taxpayer money. We don’t know you. We guess that you are either a young 20-something who is clueless of local history, a gopher-type not adept at customer relations, or genuinely tone deaf. We shall forgive your mistake, but remember, when it comes to public funds, it’s ALL taxpayer money.    Compare that community tone deafness with what the Colonial Theater just pulled off with its production of “A Christmas Carol.” We present the press release of Colleen Hughes of The Colonial’s PR staff: Pittsfield, MA—Berkshire Theatre Group’s Annual Community Production of A Christmas Carol finishes its run leaving an indelible mark on all who experienced it.

 
Kate Maguire, Artistic Director/CEO, comments “This holiday community production has exceeded our expectations in every way. We are so grateful to the Berkshire Community for their tremendous support and enthusiasm for the production. We were so happy to be able to give back to our community through the food drive and ticket donations. We are also incredibly thankful to the Taylors and the entire cast for their dedication to this project. What a wonderful end to our first year as the newly merged Berkshire Theatre Group.”

James and Kim Taylor added, “It was a remarkable experience, not just getting to work with our own children, but joining a cast that gave their heart and soul to this endeavor; from Eric Hill and Gray Simons at the top, to our beloved Tiny Tim. The whole production was an extraordinary tour de force in large part to Kate Maguire’s presence and leadership. It’s hard to think about next year at this point but never say never.”

Over 10,000 people came from 22 different states to see A Christmas Carol this year. Our incredibly supportive Berkshire community accounted for more than 75% of total ticket sales. Ticket revenue was approximately $175,000 with a significant donation amount raised from sponsors and individuals to go directly towards the Berkshire Theatre Group Education Fund. For the month of December over 14,500 people attended events at the Colonial in Pittsfield or Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge. 

Berkshire Theatre Group embraced the idea of giving back during the holidays with several philanthropic initiatives in conjunction with A Christmas Carol. In collaboration with Greylock Federal Credit Union, Berkshire Theatre Group has provided donations of non-perishable food from audience members to local Berkshire food banks. Greylock matched these donations by donating $1 for every pound of food donated to the local food banks. 

Berkshire Theatre Group donated tickets to local organizations to ensure that people, who may not normally be able to attend the theatre, could enjoy a live performance of A Christmas Carol. The organizations that received tickets are, Habitat for Humanity, Adult Learning Center/Family Literacy Center, Conte Community School, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Elder Services of Berkshire County, Community Health Programs/WIC (Great Barrington), Youth Alive, Berkshire Immigrant Center, Berkshire County Residential Program for Adults with Mental Retardation, Helen Barube Teen Parent Program, Berkshire Children and Families and the Boys and Girls Club of Pittsfield. 


Finally, at each performance before Christmas, a fresh, local turkey, donated by Guido’s Fresh Marketplace, was raffled off. Six lucky audience members were chosen to receive a turkey to complete their holiday dinner.

A Christmas Carol Founding Sponsor was The Fitzpatrick Family, Production Sponsor was Greylock Federal Credit Union, Supporting Sponsor was Berkshire Life, A Guardian Company and Performance Sponsors were Laurin Publishing, Comalli Group, Inc., Interprint, Inc., Toole Insurance, Onyx Specialty Papers, Dominion Dealer Solutions, Carr Hardware and Lee Bank.

Food and beverage partners were The Meat Market, SoMa Catering and Wandering Star Brewery.

Now THAT’s how you serve a community. We’re not saying you have to get James Taylor to rip every ticket, but please, before you as the recipient respond with a comment dealing with taxpayer handouts, get the facts straight. For the record, we will say your production of GUYS AND DOLLS was the best we saw in 2011.

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AND SO, SUFFICIENT FOR THIS DAY AS WE FIND THIS DAY’S WORRIES TO BE, WE BID YOU ADIEU, AND …

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL

 

69 Responses to “MR MITT FLYING, MR. JAKE NOT RE-APPLYING, PEDA DYING, AND LOCAL THEATERS TRYING”

  1. JUST SAYING
    January 4, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    The ‘nonprofit’ people are certainly out of touch with the common working family that actually has to work hard at budgeting, trying to pay bills and still live a little.
    Ms. Clarkin can be forgiven for her response, title aside, I’m sure her agenda is spelled out for her to the letter.
    The problem here is special people getting special treatment from the same fools who give the taxpayers money away to anyone claiming to represent ‘art’, or any other pretentious crap that provides no real, long term jobs.
    Art groups and retail stores= a great path to destruction of what’s left of a once viable community.
    Also, Mr. Romney is 0bama lite. Same social give aways to the non tax payers, same warmonger agenda for the Middle East. 75% of the voters in Iowa chose someone else.

  2. Giacometti
    January 4, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

    Any time a non profit speaks of a donation coming from a bank you should be aware of the fact that banks MUST make cash
    donations according to federal banking laws back to their communities…the law is called the Community Reinvestment Act and by federal guidelines the banking institution must give back a percentage of the total deposits the community makes to the banking institution.

    • old banker
      January 5, 2012 at 10:01 am #

      That is not accurate. The Community Reinvestment Act is in place to ensure that banks provide lending services, commercial loans, mortgages, etc. to underserved populations and low income sections of a community. It was put in place in the late 70′s and revised several times since to make sure underserved populations could have their financial needs met. It also requires banks to disclose what they do in a community as far as monetary donations, volunteerism, loans, community development projects etc. and rates them accordingly. They are not required by law to give back a percentage of their profits nor do anything else in the community other than provide loans to low income populations that may not have the best credit and may not otherwise be able to get a loan for a house or business. Without the support of the many banks in this community as well as many other businesses many organizations, nonprofits, and services would not exist.

      • Shakes His Head
        January 5, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

        There are many loopholes for CRA requirements to be met without actually lending to underserved populations.

    • Scott
      January 5, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

      Hmmmm that’s interesting I was wondering why they gave $50k to the effort to restore the Samuel Harrison house on third street.

  3. taxmano
    January 5, 2012 at 4:46 am #

    Dan,
    Your comments about the former superintendent are right on target. These praises just show his connections.
    I should add that a lot of people say he got the necessary credentials for principal and the necessary credentials for super AFTER he was in the positions! It’s not clear whether his tuition was on the city’s dime, but he reportedly did take a lot of (paid?) time off to pursue these degrees, while acting as principal and super.
    BTW, how long did he promise to stay as super during that travesty of an interview (featuring Massimiano) televised on community tv?

  4. Unchy
    January 5, 2012 at 5:58 am #

    Why doesn’t Mz. Boyd clarify the real intent of a gift giver? (ugh).. That intent, is also to provide cushy jobs for the playground of the arts community foal. Just what is Mz. Boyd’s compensation for instance? Does the artsy community actually think that the community as a whole is on board with all of these tax incentives handouts because of a mentoring program, heck, why doesn’t someone open up a car wash and have break dancing contests in the parking lot to secure its funding. Is a Stage Company actually successful when it needs tax donations to survive. NO… CLOSE THE TROFT!

  5. Hoppity
    January 5, 2012 at 7:02 am #

    The arsty folks done priced me out of my hometown, that’s what they did. What we need are real jobs, and not retail shopping jobs, Corydon. Good jobs that pay a liveable wage.

  6. Bull Durham
    January 5, 2012 at 8:21 am #

    We would all love to see giant manufacturing companies return to the Berkshires. We’d all love to see the next GE or Sprague Electric come to our rescue and provide what many of you label as “real jobs,” but please, it is not going to happen. That ship left the dock many years ago and headed right to China and Mexico and South Korea. While I agree that the retail industry does not pay the highest wages, I am tired of seeing the majority in this forum act as if retail provides nothing to our economy.

    Not every retailer is Walmart, which does pay very poorly and has some of the worst benefits ever. My wife has worked for Price Chopper for over 20 years, and earns a very good living and we use HER benefits for our health insurance coverage, even though I work for a company that provides good benefits. Hers are just as good, and in some cases better. The three supermarket chains in this community provide many good paying jobs, and the same can be said of many other retailers.

    I am not siding with PEDA, just pointing out that retail is not a dead-end for an employee. I would also agree that if a Super Walmart were to locate in Pittsfield tomorrow, it would likely only hurt those existing decent paying retail jobs (and I predict this will happen when the giant megaMart opens in North Adams – say goodbye to at least one of the three supermarkets in that city).

    I have no clue what will be built at the PEDA site, and in principal believe the mission of that agency was to bring in industrial jobs. But… this is 2012… and in the Northeast those industrial jobs pretty much don’t exist. Maybe Dan’s pal Mitt, if elected, can do something about providing a lower federal tax on business, to encourage more to build here and not overseas, but… heck, if GE can find those loopholes and not pay a dime in taxes, why can’t Google, IBM, Apple and others do the same?

    • levitan
      January 5, 2012 at 11:10 am #

      It can be argued that one can make a decent living at stores such as Price Chopper, but comparing the local – and long standing – supermarkets to incoming box retailers needs a market plan to support it. The controversy really sits on at least three issues.

      #1:The PEDA board announces a possible contract while taking complete shelter from the public. The board says not even the Mayor will have any input or influence.

      #2:If bylaws have been violated, that is also problematic, even if the proposal were not half-baked, as doing so would lay a policy of cherry-picking which laws may or need not be followed.

      #3: Supporters claim retail is justified because it will add jobs to the community, but they offer neither proof nor arguments as to how that may happen. Will a box store add unique purchasing opportunities and new additional jobs? Or, as some fear, will the added competition drain revenues from existing stores resulting in their reducing their workforce’s jobs or hours. And will the projected downsized workers then be seeking limited hours in the new stores? Mr. Durham, this question really pertains more to you than to me because if that situation does happen, it could be your family that will pay the price in reduced benefits and income.

      Thanks for letting me weigh in.

    • Dave
      January 5, 2012 at 11:18 am #

      Bill

      If the property is chewed up by retail space, the opportunity for manufacturing will never take place, you have totally eliminated that option.

      Don’t you think that the areas capacity for retail is saturated?

      If a major retail tennant moves into the PEDA site, where will all this extra money to purchase from this new retail facility come from? Yes, from the retail establishments already here, which are already severely stressed. That is a bad plan for the area. This PEDA site is susposed to benefit the area not hurt existing retailers.

      Add on that when at PEDA there are tax breaks, an unfair advantage over existing retailers.

      The average retail job is poor pay and benifits. NOT what a family needs to survive.

      I doubt that your family exists solely on your wife’s salary at the Price Chopper. You both have to work, no doubt, to make ends meet like most of the rest of us.

      I am adamantly against retail at the PEDA site.

      • Bull Durham
        January 5, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

        I did say I also work, and no one in this economy can exist on one salary, and that’s been the case for many years, not just since 2008. My only point is there are many blanket comments about retail jobs not being good paying jobs, and many are, especially if you do work for a good company like Price Chopper. I know people who work at Stop & Shop and Big Y who feel the same way. I also said that I am not in support of the PEDA plan, and I’m also opposed to the super Walmart for North Adams, for the same reasons you cite – we have hit saturation, countywide, and unlike the Price Choppers of the world, Walmart has one goal in mind – drain every dime out of a city or town and close down as many other retail outlets as you can.

        A friend of mine who lives down south said he even saw a memo from Walmart corporate to the manager of their new Superstore… it said the company wants to become the nation’s only “national” supermarket chain, and in doing so must undercut all regional chains until they dominate the market. It’s entirely legal, but as you said, all it leads to is job-shifting, and the people who now work for the regional chains end up working for Walmart for half the salary.

        • danvalenti
          January 5, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

          BULL
          Good points that contribute to the discussion.
          I would add, though, that comparing Big Box retailing with local supermarket chains is an apples to chainsaws comparison. Big Y and Price Chopper, for example, are family owned and, in Big Y’s case (which we know from personal experience) treat their employees well — salary-wise and benefits-wise. Plus, a point I made on the air today: The country and city population is shrinking. Where will all the new shoppers come from, given BJs, Berkshire Crossing, Allendale, and the Mall? Also, what will the impact be on downtown merchants?

    • Mike Ward
      January 5, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

      I’ve noticed that everyone who supports big box retail at the William Stanley Business Park likes to frame the situation as an inability to land a “giant manufacturing” business, as Bull Durham has done here. As if the only choices we have are one huge manufacturing employer or retail shopping.

      What about all the small to medium sized manufacturers who are already here and are growing. Example? Here’s a Pittsfield manufacturing success story from a few days ago:
      http://plasticsnews.com/headlines2.html?id=24090

      Pittsfield Plastics Engineering took the space formerly used by Sinicon Plastics when they expanded two years ago and ended up in Dalton.

      And let’s not forget my good friend John Gigliotti and his manufacturing company, Whole Life Pet:
      http://www.berkshireeagle.com/ci_19643656

      Let’s be clear. I envision the William Stanley Park being built out gradually and intelligently, with companies like these. Is that too much to ask for?

      • danvalenti
        January 5, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

        MIKE
        Great point. Big Manufacturing is not viable, but that’s not what PEDA was created to go after. It was meant to provide a campus-like business park for light manufacturing, biotech, computer-realted business, and other “clean” manufacturing. That’s where the opportunity is. I plugged you petition on the air today, and also the PEDA meeting tomorrow.
        1. The meeting begins at 8 a.m. at 81 Kellogg St., Pittsfield (the PEDA offices)
        2. It is open the the pubic
        3. Both you and I are calling for people to show up at the meeting, just to let the PEDA crew know that people are paying attention to this one and they don’t like it one bit.

        • Mike Ward
          January 5, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

          Thanks for talking it up, Dan!

      • Shakes His Head
        January 5, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

        The PEDA marketing study identified that the target was growing firms that needed access to space on the next tier that what was available in the current regional market. To get a giant manufacturing space you need 400+ contiguous acres.

      • Terry Kinnas
        January 5, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

        This is a shortened post from last week

        Contrary to what some people think, manufacturing is not dead.

        Manufacturing in Pittsfield, according to the state’s employment and wage report(Q1-11), has 60 establishments with 2,163 employees, average per quarter, with quarterly wages of $ 55,205,740.

        http://lmi2.detma.org/lmi/lmi_es_b.asp?AT=05&A=000371&Y=2011&P=01&O=50&I=10~0&Iopt=1&Dopt=TEXT

        Retail for the same period has 194 establishments with 3,149 employees, average per quarter, and quarterly wages of $19,922,252.

        As the industrial zoned land has been taken over by housing and retail operations, has the city zoned other properties industrial to keep proper land use requirements in place?

        • acheshirecat
          January 5, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

          I agree. There are small and medium manufacturing jobs out there. They are not going to come because the area has lots of theaters or other nonsense. They go to an area with a ready workforce and easy in and out for their goods and not a lot of crime. And to places where they are not met with nimbys at every corner. Remember, when G.E started in Pittsfield it was not the giant it is today. It was Stanley Electric, but it grew. If PEDA was around back then, who knows if there would be a G.E. today.

        • levitan
          January 6, 2012 at 7:58 am #

          I was thinking similar thoughts, Terry. Why buy into the argument that industry is dead in Pittsfield when we have Sabic Plastics serving an international market and GD, both very large? Add on many more smaller manufacturers including Wandering Star Brewery which may or may not survive,

          I am not inclined to accept the assumption that we need to depend on retail.

        • Bull Durham
          January 6, 2012 at 8:43 am #

          Your numbers are misleading, Mr. Kinnas. You cite only “retail trade” from that state listing, but you fail to add together all of the other listings that are clearly retail related. Grocery stores is a separate listing entirely, not included under “retail trade,” as are many other stores that are clearly retail, but not classified as “retail trade.” If you look closely you will see there are a lot more retail ventures in the city than those just under “retail trade,” and their numbers added together are pretty large. And I’m looking at this from a countywide perspective, and not just from Pittsfield’s point of view. The days of Pittsfield being the be-all and end-all of the Berkshires is long past.

          Yes there is still small manufacturing, and that’s great and should be further encouraged.

      • Max
        January 6, 2012 at 1:55 am #

        Channel 6 news last night had a large piece on about Amsterdam and they just landed yet another “light manufacturing” company to relocate there – they make chest style freezers. And they now have numerous of these types! So if they can do it, perhaps our PEDA people need to take a short drive to Amsterdam, NY and ask their mayor how they did it!!!

  7. joetaxpayer
    January 5, 2012 at 9:13 am #

    @Bill,I agree big industry will not be coming to Pittsfield.But we can fill that park with small nitch business.Look at Downing industrial park,it was not built overnite,but is full now.That park provides jobs and much needed tax revenue.Any retail built in that park will only shift jobs from other retail areas.We are a city of only40,000+ and our county is only 130,00+.There is only so much retail we can support.Time to clean out the PEDA board and get some new blood in there.There is nothing wronge with going after smaller companys.A bunch of singles are just as good as a home run.

  8. Bull Durham
    January 5, 2012 at 9:57 am #

    I agree, Joe, I was just trying to point out that many here are painting “retail” jobs with a single brush, and they are not all the same. Many are full time, many pay much, much higher than the stereotypical minimum wage retail job, many provide good benefits, including profit sharing and 401Ks, and… retail does represent a huge part of our local economy. I would love to have the park filled with small businesses like those at Downing, but in this economy, and with our current tax structure, those kind of businesses are becoming fewer and farther in between.

    • Molly
      January 5, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

      BUT, the larger “big box stores” tend to bring in their own Managers and there are VERY FEW full-time jobs with benefits, unlike some of the smaller chains like Price Chopper and Big Y. The overwhelming majority of employees at WalMart make minimum wage, are part-time, and receive no benefits. That’s the reality…

      • danvalenti
        January 5, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

        Correct, Molly. Bib Boxes are run by imported managers. The service-type jobs are filled by locals. Big Boxes drain money from the area, and they bring the worst type of management: Out of town. We’ve seen how well out-of-town ownership has worked in local media — the Boring Broadsheet, for example. Service-type jobs do not pay a livable wage unless combined with one or two other such jobs.

      • Bull Durham
        January 6, 2012 at 9:28 am #

        Hate to beat a dead horse to further death, but unless you actually personally know the managers of Walmart, Target, BJ’s, etc. locally, you really don’t know that what you said is true, Molly.

        I happen to know the manager of the North Adams Walmart, who will also be the manager of the new superstore when it opens – local, lives in North Adams, has for a long, long time. I know that the managers of all of the local Price Choppers are local (and before you again call it a “small chain,” please consider it has 24,000 employees in six states, with equivalent employee numbers compared to BJ’s and with 3 billion dollars in revenue), the Stop & Shop managers are also all local. BJ’s, I don’t know their store manager, but I do know that many of the full-timers are indeed locally hired. It’s entirely possible their overall manager was brought in.

        Full time employment in retail is not just the big boss of the store. It’s front end supervisors, cash and sales, office personnel, stockroom personnel (the overnight stockers are full-time), department managers (in a grocery store there are managers for the deli, bakery, grocery dept, dairy, meat, seafood, produce, general merchandise) – and ALL are full-time and hired locally. These are jobs with good pay and good benefits, despite your comment that there are “very few” of them in existence.

        Are there a lot of part-time workers? Yes, certainly, it’s the nature of retail, but there are more full-timers than you claim, and they are local people. And by the way, if a store manager is brought in from elsewhere, they don’t still live in that elsewhere, they buy a house here and pay taxes here and live here. They don’t commute from New York City or Boston every day to Pittsfield or Great Barrington or North Adams. That, Molly, is the reality.

  9. joetaxpayer
    January 5, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    Bull not putting down anyone who works retail and true there are some good paying jobs in that industry.But don’t feel that we would get a net gain of jobs because we are already saturated with retail.Wondering if anyone knows how many people signed Mike Wards petition.

    • danvalenti
      January 5, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

      As of this morning, it was 189 signatories.

      • Molly
        January 6, 2012 at 1:58 am #

        We need MANY, MANY more signatures! Anyone who agrees that we don’t need more retail, and especially at the WSBP, please send the link on to everyone that you know. Post it on your facebook page. Tweet it out to everyone you know. Please! Thanks muchly.

  10. Shakes His Head
    January 5, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    I think that a majority of the comments here are well intentioned but are shaped more by mass media’s portrayal of our economy than reality. Manufacturing is not dead. Manufacturing is not all offshored to third world countries. The lack of an economic development professional leading the strategy for the Berkshires is very telling.

  11. Unchy
    January 5, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    There is a large market for electricity. Does anyone here think that conductive energy has disappeared?

  12. Unchy
    January 5, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    We are an arts community? Give me a break!

  13. Unchy
    January 5, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    Sturgeon just called Unico monkies?

  14. Ray Ovac
    January 5, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    DV, is PEDA’s meeting open to the general public?
    Also, where, if any, has legal notice been posted regarding this meeting?

    • Hoppity
      January 5, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

      Meetings are open

    • danvalenti
      January 5, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

      Meetings are open to the public. Tomorrow, it’s at 8 a.m. Mike Ward will be there. So will I (schedule permitting). We’re trying to get people there. Please join us.

  15. Unchy
    January 5, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    Raykovic….Yes it;s open to the public. Eight in the morning.

  16. Bill Sturgeon
    January 5, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    Dan:
    Thanks for coming on this morning. I always enjoy our discussions. I thought all of the callers this morning were great! I am looking forward to Jan 19th at 10:30 when you will be coming back on.

    Oh Unchy, I called UNICO, Jimmy Fund and Civitan monkeys out of fondness for their giving spirits.

    If you have comments about me why don’t you use your own name. Dan and I use our own names. Also, check your spelling next time.

    Merry Christmas!

    • Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
      January 5, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

      Happy Holidays Bill

    • levitan
      January 5, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

      Pseudonyms are a reasonable and long-standing tradition used to pursue happiness and to maintain free and unencumbered speech. You and Dan have public personalities, and I assume you are both comfortable with that status. Otherwise, like many authors you could also use a pen-name. However, the other writers here presumably have good reason not to set themselves up for public scrutiny from employers and others.

    • joetaxpayer
      January 5, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

      Bill,Great show,agree with you about the police doing a great job.Wondering your thoughts on the judges in berkshire co. being so easy on sentencing and bail.Must be frustrating for the police.

    • danvalenti
      January 5, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

      BILL
      My pleasure. We shall be there on the 19th and as often as the invitation is there.
      You’re doing a great job with the show, and I know from 14 years of the daily grind, that’s not easy.
      DAN

  17. GMHeller
    January 5, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    Mr. Valenti, the press release you post above from Colonial Theatre inadvertently exposes some unpleasant truths.
    Here are the revealing passages:
    “Over 10,000 people came from 22 different states to see A Christmas Carol this year. Our incredibly supportive Berkshire community accounted for more than 75% of total ticket sales. Ticket revenue was approximately $175,000 with a significant donation amount raised from sponsors and individuals to go directly towards the Berkshire Theatre Group Education Fund.”
    And:
    “Berkshire Theatre Group donated tickets to local organizations to ensure that people, who may not normally be able to attend the theatre, could enjoy a live performance of A Christmas Carol.”

    Mr. Valenti, notwithstanding yours and others’ praiseworthy reviews of ‘A Christmas Carol’, please note that barely $175,000 in ticket revenue was generated from a total of 10,000 (ten thousand) Colonial Theatre-goers.
    That figures out to be an average sale of $17.50 per ticket.
    Now $17.50 is probably what should have been the advertised sale price from the start for tickets to that production, except that The Colonial’s ‘Christmas Carol’ Web site advertised seats in the Gallery (second balcony) at $15 per child ticket and $25 per adult, while Balcony and Orchestra tickets were all priced at $100 per seat (with opening-night orchestra tix advertised at a whopping $300 per ticket!).
    (And add to each online ticket sale a service/handling charge of $3-$5 per ticket depending upon each ticket’s underlying price.)
    What’s revealed by the release of all these dismal numbers is that had Colonial Theater management not given out all those mounds of free passes, ‘A Christmas Carol’ would have for the bulk of its run played to a near empty house — except for those up there in the Gallery’s ‘cheap seats’!
    If The Colonial can’t attract paying audiences even with big name talent like James Taylor, then what’s it going to take to make The Colonial a going concern?

    • danvalenti
      January 5, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

      To make The Colonial “a going concern” is why the theater brought Kate M. in to run the show. The merger with BTF gives the Colonial its best shot at being sustainable without public money. Agree, though, that it’s an enormous challenge.

      • dusty
        January 5, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

        Speaking of the Colonial..does anyone know how much money, if any, Ruberto left of the GE, in lieu of taxes, monies?
        And does anyone know how much of the total GE money the Colonial got from the get go till today?

      • Molly
        January 6, 2012 at 2:14 am #

        Dan – I had a post all written about the Colonial and suddenly got a PC virus and just got my PC back, and I’m NOT retyping it now… ;-) However, very quickly, the Colonial was (is) a “tax exempt non-profit corporation” (and AGAIN, under the category of EDUCATION!) The corporation that they merged with, Berkshire Theater Festival, was (is) a tax exempt non-profit organization. So now they are creating yet a THIRD non-profit, tax exempt corporation for the merged Corporation. How much money has our fair city given to both the restoration and the continued operation of The Colonial? Many millions! So fair is fair – it’s not JUST Barrington Stage, it’s ALL of them! And it’s a huge ripoff!!

        I agree that the email that Max got and the letter from the Colonial are night to day, but that doesn’t mean that The Colonial is any better in this regard because in fact, we’ve given them a TON of money!!! And they have HUGE fund-raising campaigns and HUGE amounts of money in advertising in many different venues, on and on and on. And they STILL can’t make it without our giving them yet another 1 million dollar loan that was also forgiven? I agree – let them close! If they can’t make it without our tax dollars, they should close!! It’s bad enough that they aren’t paying any property taxes (or ANY taxes!) Barrington Stage made (what did Max say — 3+ million last year?) And the Colonial close to that. Cut back on the big salaries or close it down! I, for one, am tired of paying for it!!!

        • dusty
          January 6, 2012 at 2:47 am #

          i agree with Molly. The Colonial is a wonderful idea, but has too much financial baggage. If someone besides the taxpayers wants to fund it that is fine but the taxpayers should have the option. Individually.

  18. Unchy
    January 5, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

    Stooge, that is my name!

  19. Unchy
    January 5, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    A lot of personalities come from out of town including Diamond James Ruberto and others. And a lot of projects including the arts are supported and practically force fed to the taxpayers of this City. Thank goodness, at least the Skateboarders were given a beautiful place to go for there activities.

  20. Unchy
    January 5, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

    @ Wild Bill troft… troff…does Dan get a grammar error for his ”YOU DOING A GREAT JOB” and he’s a wordsmith…..We love ya Bill,relax.

    • danvalenti
      January 5, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

      UNCHY
      Get your glasses cleaned, man. Check the post again. “You’re,” a contraction for “you are.” Still room in one of my Comp II sections for the Spring semester.

  21. Max
    January 5, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

    Also want to re-publish the additional comments that I had added as these are important:

    Also, the 62 kids who participate in the PMP, do so for 2 hours, once a week, for 7 months. Although I’m sure this is a great program for those kids, remember also that Barrington Stage received their “not for profit” and “tax exempt status” by being listed as an EDUCATIONAL charity. So I’d venture to say that they’ve made quite a chunk of change on this program by not having to pay ANY taxes… One of the requirements for the $500,000 loan forgiveness was that they had to enroll 50% of the “students” from Pittsfield. Why only 50%?

    In addition, according to their website, this program is also sponsored by:
    The Ruth P. and Nicholas Boraski Fund to benefit BSC’s Educational Programming. Alpern-Rosenthal Foundation Fund, Berkshire Bank Foundation, Berkshire United Way, Elayne Bernstein & Sol Schwartz, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Mary & Peter Levin, Leon Lowenstein Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Bessie Pappas Charitable Foundation, Robbins de Beaumont Foundation, Ungar Foundation.

  22. Ray Ovac
    January 5, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

    The Ruth P. and Nicholas Boraski Fund.
    It would pay to remember folks just who Nicholas Boraski is and what the man’s position at GE-Pittsfield was.
    He was a GE-VP and the operating arm of the boys at the top of the firm and no doubt knows much about who, what, where, how, when, and just about everything else relevant to GE-Pittfield over the decades.
    Think of the Boraski Fund as blood money.

  23. Bill Sturgeon
    January 5, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    Unchy: Don’t put yourself down. Believe me other people will do it for you. Levitan comments are very true and made me think. Thanks for listening.
    Bill

  24. Scott
    January 5, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

    Forget about entry level college students just read the blogs the general publics lack of knowledge of basic homophones is disturbing I mean I’m no scholar in printed work but Jesus I know the difference between your and you’re, you know what I mean?

    • Boom
      January 5, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

      Scott: Have you heard about punctuation marks? I haven’t see a run on sentence like that since elementary school.

      • Boom
        January 5, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

        seen

        • Molly
          January 6, 2012 at 2:19 am #

          LOL

      • Scott
        January 6, 2012 at 4:39 am #

        Like I said I’m no scholar, how was your reading comprehension in grade school?

  25. Demitrius T. Gladiator
    January 5, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

    LEt’s not get hung up on typos and grammar here. The idea is to vet a truly terrible idea, what Valenti calls PEDALS, the PEDA Land swindle. That’s what the Big Box shopping is a sea change out of the blue from what we were all led to believe. I cant believe Mayor Bianchi will let this quietly pass. I am going to be there tomorrow with Mike Ward and company. 8 a.m. folks. Early call, I know, but worth the show.

  26. rick
    January 6, 2012 at 2:22 am #

    good luck all, im sure the eagle reporter will be there to cover it…this will probably be the earliest that brunin and the boys have been up in a long time.

    • dusty
      January 6, 2012 at 2:49 am #

      The Eagle reporter will be there to cover the story about the renegades who dared to invade the sacred temple, not the PEDA meeting itself.

  27. rick
    January 6, 2012 at 4:46 am #

    its unfortunate but if we don’t keep both eyes on these people they will sell us down the river, not just peda but the school committee, city council, mayors office { HOPE NOT BIANCHI}, any where there is big dollars needs to be transparent…and the officials shouldn’t be insulted that people want to help. they dont have all the answers, and the more question we ask(mazzeo,nichols) the more we get them thinking in ways to help the city. id like to see a sign in the councilors chambers that says ” leave all egos here” with an arrow pointing to the trash can.

  28. Tito
    January 6, 2012 at 4:49 am #

    Don’t look now but the new Mayor is going to be pressed with many projects, either started by Ruberto or on the back burner.Hope Dan can please everyone. Watch the snakes on the Council!

  29. Unchy
    January 6, 2012 at 5:57 am #

    Gee isle try to be more proficient at spelling.

  30. Unchy
    January 6, 2012 at 6:42 am #

    @levitan, exactly. And as long as spiteful comments aren’t involved, carry on. We should all be inquisitive when donations and taxes are involved, in any non profit. And taxpayers have the right to ask someone if the company car they drive, is payed for by the taxpayer?

    • levitan
      January 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

      A good policy would be if one can’t say it to someone’s face, one may need to think hard whether an anonymous expression is reasonable to post. I don’t see much, if anything, on this site that demeans the conversation.

      Courage for the deed, grace in the doing, (apologies to Tom.)

  31. New to PV
    January 6, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    Someone please correct me if I’m mistaken, but hasn’t a lot of the spending over the past 8 years (airport runway, revitalization of North St., Common, infusion of cash into the arts, etc.) been under the justification that we need to bolster Pittsfield’s recreational activities and infrastructure in order to attract industry?

    And now that the monies have been spent, PEDA is going to pull the rug out from under taxpayers’ feet and concede that the rationale for spending is unrealistic?