FAT MAN AND PLANET GO FOR TWO HOURS, SAYING AND UNSAYING … REMEMBER PETER MOORE BENEFIT FEB. 26 … plus TICKING TIMEBOMB OF PITTSFIELD’S UNFUNDED PENSION LIABILITIES A LITTLE CLOSER TO GOING KABOOM AND KABLOOEY
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
[EDITOR’S NOTE: We have experienced some technical Martians backstage today. We lost some paragraph formatting about halfway through. We apologize for any inconvenience it causes for your glazzies. Our technical wizards are even as we speak at work on the case.]
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, FEB. 9, 2012) — Today, THE PLANET did almost two hours of live talk radio with Bill Sturgeon on WBRK. Lots of people wanted to hear discussion of the Nilan-Moore Case.
We asked Sturgeon off the air how he wanted to play the Nilan-Moore. The gabmeister replied first off, then on the air as a pre-emptive announcement, that it was his policy not to discuss court proceedings that were being adjudicated. Bill made the point that the commercial airwaves over which AM stations broadcast are administered by the FCC, which has rules about what you can and cannot say.
Our reading of FCC regulation would suggest it’s perfectly fine to discuss court proceedings, no matter the stage, adjudicated or not. This would be protected under the radio station’s obligation, as in duty, to keep the public informed of relevant events that effect the good and the interest of the community at large. That being said, though, The Sturgeon Show is not The Dan Valenti Show. We had our daily run, for 14 years. We understand Sturgeon’s rationale, and we support the right of any talk show host to run his or her ship the way they see fit.
THE PLANET expected and received the same when we had the Chair. As guest, we adhere to the rules laid down by the host.
The Fat Man and I did talk, and not in flinching terms, about several topics, including the performance of the school committee, the PEDA board, Silver Lake and Hill 78, the bat-awful GE consent agreement, corruption in government (yeah, stop the presses!), and even the appearance of the Pittsfield band QUARRY — led by my brother Mick at Woodstock.
Bill’s show, and any talk radio in general, provides a great public service. I would include not just the Sturgeon Show but “Good Morning, Pittsfield,” hosted by my Right Honorable Good Friend John Krol, Larry Kratka’s shows, all of the PCTV’s broadcasts. All public access is good public access. Some take advantage more than others, and some do it better than others. Be that as it may, fact is that without public outlets for We The People’s voices, democracy has no pulse.
REMEMBER … 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012 at Chameleon’s at 1350 East St., Pittsfield, Mass. … The REAL Pittsfield Benefit for Peter Moore … Let’s generate an overwhelming show of support for this innocent man, gravely injured by the carelessness and callousness of a hit-and-run driver. Let’s show the world The REAL Pittsfield.
Oohh, Those Pesky Unfunded Liabilities are Making the News Today
Today with Bill Sturgeon, The Fat Man and THE PLANET talked about the ticking time bomb known as municipal unfunded liabilities. This gigantic amount that taxpayers owe to retired town and city workers continues to grow in a staggering way.
These are the monies it will take, in today’s dollars, to pay every dime that public service employee unions won, begged, borrowed, or stole from cities and town to pad their retirement. The biggest single cost is for health care. Think of it as a huge charge to the municipal credit card. In Pittsfield, for example, each year (though sometimes not that) the city will pay a minimum amount of the debt. The rest gets carried over at ruinous rates, similar to what happens when you have a $2000 credit card bill and elect to pay the monthly $20 minimum. In the short run, you think you are OK. In the long run, you are screwed.
The average single-family homeowner in the city of Pittsfield faces a grim choice: Either pay an astonishing lump sum $10,404 today or get hit with a devastating 20 percent property tax increase over the next 30 years. Why? The answer is unfunded municipal liabilities.
Pittsfield taxpayers will have to choose one or a combination of those options to subsidize hundreds of millions of dollars of unfunded health care benefits for public-employee retirees, if local and state lawmakers do not institute pension reform. We based this conclusion on research from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, which recently issues its latest report. You can read the full report here.
Retiree health care liabilities are so large because these benefits are almost universally available to municipal employees in Massachusetts, despite having eroded sharply in the private sector. Virtually every community in the state contributes at least 50 percent towards the cost of retiree health care premiums once an employee— including most part-time employees who work at least 20 hours per week—completes just 10 years of service. By comparison, according to a 2010 survey by the state, only 14 percent of all Massachusetts employers offered health care benefits to retirees over age 65, including those employers that do not contribute anything to premiums.