!!UNCONFIRMED LATE REPORT!! GREG YON QUITS AS HEAD OF CITY MAINTENANCE; …30-1 ORANGE SET FOR TITLE RUN … THINGS MAY GET MORE INTERESTING IN NILAN-MOORE CASE … WHY THE RUSHED SEARCH FOR A NEW SUPT. MUST BE HALTED … plus … NEWS FROM NUCIFORO
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
ADD #1 MONDAY 3/5/12
HAS GREG YON RESIGNED AS ACTING HEAD OF MAINTENANCE?
We have an unconfirmed report that Greg Yon, acting head of the maintenance department, has left his position with the city of Pittsfield. Yon was appointed acting director of the department last year by Mayor Jimmy Ruberto.
THE PLANET doesn’t know any more at this time. Calls to city hall and to the Yon residence were not returned.
If the news is true, it means that Mayor Dan Bianchi will have an opportunity to put his stamp on a key city department. It also means he will be presenting the new council with another appointment, this one in the high-profile category. It could serve as a further litmus test for determining the political loyalties and disloyalties on the city council.
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MARCH 5, 2012) — First off, congratulations to our Syracuse Orangemen, #2 in the nation, who capped a brilliant 30-1 basketball season with a win Saturday. Excellence in any endeavor is to be commended, but 30-1, with the distractions and media circus that have pounded the team this year, is unconscious. We have been following SU hoop since our days as a graduate student, when Roy Danforth was the coach. This is by far Jim Boeheim‘s greatest coaching job. THE PLANET PREDICTS: The Orange, NCAA Division I Champions when March Madness subsides in early April.
THINGS MAY ABOUT TO GET EVEN MORE INTERESTING IN THE NILAN-MOORE CASE
Copies of the papers in the case are missing, so claims Meredith Nilan defense attorney Tim Shurgue. This claim, if true, indicates a level of corruption in the Pittsfield courts far worse than even the most jaded among us would guess. If not true, it suggests a shameless desperation of the defense in keeping a guilty party from justice. Either way, it doesn’t bode well for those who expect truth and justice to be part of the American Way.
Putting the “missing” papers aside, for the moment, THE PLANET is working on a new development in the Nilan-Moore Case that, if true, will be a significant addition to understanding the extremely odd occurrences that have happened almost from the moment the driver of a vehicle ran down, nearly killed, then heartlessly left Peter Moore to his fate. You’ll recall Toby Moore, Peter’s little terrier, showed more humanity than the driver of that vehicle by staying with his master so long that his fur froze into the spilt blood.
The events, well known by now, have defied belief, from Miss Nilan’s claim that she wasn’t sure what she hit, to the initial attempt to keep this news from getting out, to the closed kangaroo hearing conducted by the ringer from Westfield.
We received a tip Friday from a person we have in the past known to be a reliable source. This source has connections to both the police and the courts. The information has to do with the inner workings of the courthouse in the handling of this case. When and if we confirm what we’ve been told, we shall, of course, share with the world. On THE PLANET, we believe in transparency.
ALF’s QUIXOTIC ODYSSEY IN SUPT. QUEST MUST BE HALTED FOR DUE DILIGENCE; BIANCHI MUST HONOR CAMPAIGN PLEGE OF OPENNESS AND INCLUSION
Speaking of transparency, we remind Mayor Dan Bianchi of his campaign promise to run an open and above-board government. Bianchi’s position as both mayor and school committee member gives him a ideal opportunity to demonstrate if his pledge was the usual hocus-pocus politicking or if he actually meant it.
We think he meant it. The process of hiring a school superintendent gives him a definable, measurable issue upon which he can demonstrate his belief in transparency. He needs to use his influence and bully pulpit to take the job search off the fast track for the sake of due diligence.
With Jake Staying on the Job Until June and Beyond, and with a Wagonload of Associate, Assistant, and Deputy Superintendents, There’s No Rush to Fill this Position
As most of you know, Pittsfield is in the market for a new superintendent. Despite the fact that Supt. Jake Eberwein has pledged to remain on the job to June and beyond, if needed … and despite the fact that the taxpayers in Pittsfield supports Assistant, Associate, and Deputy Supers at 100K per year as if they were so many M&Ms in a package … school board chairman Alf Barbalunga — after consulting with the state, Eberwein, and Carmen Fanzone, Carmen Basilio, Carmen Miranda, and George Bizet — made a unilateral decision to launch a hurried search for applicants, giving the world 14 days to apply for the job.
The rapid time frame and the unilateral action have invited the inevitable speculation that The Fix is in. THE PLANET keeps hearing one name, herself already lucratively ensconced in The System, who is the Anointed One. From what we know, it would be best for taxpayers to see that she doesn’t become the Appointed One.
After all the analysis is in, the move by chairman Alf Barbalunga to go solo and advertise for the position without involving the other members of his committee, the public, the business community, or other shareholders in our public education system begs for intervention. As a general rule of thumb in the Game of Pittsfield Politics, when “They” want to hurry-hurry-hurry, it’s best to slow it down. When “They” want to wait-wait-wait, it’s time to speed it up.
This is a perfect opportunity for the community to have a long-overdue discussion about the Pittsfield public schools. We need to do this first before we can select the person who will be the new leader. The community must make noise, telling the administration, the school committee, and the school system that we want the politics taken out of the classroom, as much as humanly possible.
Let’s Remember Who’s Reporting to Whom
In the up-is-down world of Pittsfield procedure and politics, a peculiar and dangerous reversal has taken place over the years regarding the job of superintendent and the school committee. It didn’t happen all at once. Rather, it has been an osmotic and gradual decline, one unnoticeable from day to day. The dangerous devolution has resulted in today’s “given”— the accepted wisdom — that the school committee works for the superintendent.
It’s the other way around. It’s about time this relationship assumes its proper formation, for it does matter who’s on top.
NEWS FLASH: The superintendent of schools is a direct report to the school committee.
He works for them, and they represent us. This simple, protective mechanism that safeguards the checks and balances over public education has broken down through as series of weak hires by the committee. The school committee has compounded this by essentially playing enabler to a school system that has lacked imagination, performance, and excellence.
The committee has historically given token approval to year after year of wish-list budgets presented by the administration. The public, equally to blame, has stopped paying attention. Parents have become part of the problem and not the solution. The city council and mayor have also been complicit, again, through the rubber stamping of virtually every money request made by the schools.
If we’ve learned one thing in all this, it’s that money is not the problem. LEt me spout some heresy that is truth: We are OVERFUNDING public education in America in general and certainly in Pittsfield, where the schools consume 70% of the entire municipal budget.
The Rx for Public Schools Is Not More Money; the Answer is Accountability
Despite this huge chow-down of taxpayer money, year after year, administrators, teachers, politicians, parents, and others perpetuate and then fall for the fable-turned-fib, that if only we pumped more taxpayer dollars into public education, things would magically get better.
This is a lie perpetuated by the Special Interests, notably, the public education employees unions.
Things don’t, and won’t, get better unless the schools begin to focus on results and get serious about the job of education. Students must be required to meet high standards. We must get rid of the silly notion that school must be “fun.” We must abandon half-hearted measures such as MCAS and costly pandering such as the worthless but expensive D.A.R.E. program, which not only fails in its mission to keep kids from drugs but likely produces the opposite effect.
Feel-good programs such as computerization of classrooms, school centralization, and wishy-washy progressive educational experiments have failed. The solution is to revamp the curriculum to focus on basics and hold individual pupils and students accountable for their performance.
Currently, this does not happen in the Pittsfield schools and will not as long as the various educational constituencies work not for what’s best for children but what’s best for their isolated constituencies. We speak of such educational lobbies as teachers unions, lobbyists, administrators, and the politicians they have tucked neatly away in their pockets.
Meanwhile, businesses and higher education have to deal with the inferior product of the public schools. The cultural trends in the Pittsfield public schools, as we have examined in previous posts, have worked to destroy education. Children aren’t ready for school because too many parents have stopped caring about their kids. Single-parent households, plus an overrun of deficient subpopulations (ethnic and minority, special education, illegal immigrants, English as second language, addicts, etc.) have left classrooms ill equipped for doing much more than baby sitting those who do not wish to learn. The good kids who do wish to learn have to suffer as the least common denominators among them spit Superglue into the machinery.
Classroom discipline has been destroyed, improper use of technology has shredded attention spans, and there is no moral basis for what students are expected to learn. Boys and girls dress like every class day in Halloween, drugs are awash in the corridors, and “everything is OK.” Perform a test: Ask any pupil in middle school if he or she knows where they can get drugs that same day. Practically all will say yes.
Unless We Get Serious About the Disaster of our Pubic Schools, the Great American Experiment is Over
America’s world ranking in education continues to plummet. For example, only 8 percent of 11th graders can solve problems with more than one step requiring algebra; 91 percent don’t know what the Federalist Papers are, and almost 90% do not know when Abraham Lincoln was president; on the other hand, virtually 100% of the little darlings know who Snooki is). In sum, American students leave high school without enough knowledge and without the ability to think in an adult manner. They lack the communication, rhetorical, and computational skills needed to succeed either on the job or in college.
You can introduce all the well-intended reform you wish. Nothing will change unless we begin to hold individuals — parents, students, teachers, administrators, politicians — accountable for their individual decisions. More than anything else, what The Individual decides will determine the quality of public education.
This brings us back to the important individual decision each member of the school board will make on the hiring of a new superintendent. When it comes down to it, the seven members of the school committee must make an individual decision: Do they stand for improvement in the public schools and reel in the hasty superintendent search or will they bow to the wishes of the GOBs, who want an insider elevated — not to achieve greatness in the schools, but to ensure that the bodies will remain buried.
NEWS FROM NUCIFORO … AND A NINE-POINT PLAY
THE PLANET received notice from the Nuciforo for Congress campaign that it’s moving into a more spacious campaign headquarters in the 1400 block of East Street, just past Teo‘s. We’ve got a feeling that before his darkhorse campaign to defeat Richie Neal in the redrawn 1st Massachusetts Congressional District is over, Andy will have Teo’s hot dogs coming out his ears.
The campaign is looking for desks, chairs, and other office equipment. If you have any to loan or lend, give the campaign a call at 413-281-3302.
THE PLANET endorses Nuciforo in this race because he is the best candidate to represent the interests of Pittsfield and Berkshire County in Washington. On his website, we found this nine-point outline for how Andy will “follow a consistent approach to developing policies and positions.” We found it to be one of more refreshing pieces of campaign literature we’ve seen in a while, and that includes the presidential campaign.
Here’s the method:
1. Facts matter. We will gather facts and data before forming opinions.
2. Listen to other points of view.
3. Consult with experts and practioners.
4. Focus on ideas to promote economic growth.
5. Stop wasting time, money, and energy on ideas that cannot possibly advance.
6. Include citizen input. The government belongs to the people.
7. Understand the costs and benefits. No plan makes sense unless we know how it costs and how we’re going to pay it.
8. Put the plan on paper and share it widely.
9. Build the consensus necessary to get it done.
We love the use of the active voice, a condition for verbs equivalent to predicate bliss.
HAVING AWAKENED, WE WILL NOW LEAVE ALL THE MEANER THINGS TO THOSE WITH LOW AMBITION WHO TAKE PRIDE IN “THINGS.” WE, MEANWHILE, WILL PONDER FREE OVER THE STATE OF MAN — A MIGHT MAZE, BUT NOT WITHOUT A PLAN.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE”
LOVE TO ALL.