KINNAS: ‘The Taxpayers Lost Big Time Last Night’ — SCHOOL BOARD KNIFEs PETITION TO HALT SUPT. SEARCH … WE HAVE STARTED OUR OWN NEWS’PAPER’ … GROWING NUMBER OF RESTAURANTS, AIRLINES, THEATERS, CINEMAS, ETC. WANT TO BAN THE BRATS — THE PLANET HAS ALL THAT AND MORE
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, MARCH 15, 2012) — “The taxpayers lost big time last night.”
That’s how school committeeman Terry Kinnas characterized the action of his colleagues last night in a 5-1 shooting down of his petition to halt the search for a new superintendent until the job could be better defined and a proper salary determined. The vote is one for extinguishing a dash of reason and logic into a $83 million department that runs too much on the fuzzy-wuzzies of self-esteem, feelings, and objective testing (notably MCAS) that has robotized the curriculum.
THE PLANET has previously posted the school department’s ad for the position. Most agreed with us: The specifications come off as generic. You could take the city of Pittsfield name off the specs, substitute most any other community in the state, and the formulaic document works as imperfectly well.
Fact is, Pittsfield doesn’t know what it wants or needs for this position. For example, does it want an academic or a businessperson? We would prefer the latter. It doesn’t know what it wants, yet the pell-mell search will go ahead, with the process now closed to any applicants, who has a scant 14 days to apply. The window for accepting applications closed last night at 5 p.m.
A Cooked, Crooked Process? Sorry, but It Would Seem to be, Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski
Kinnas told THE PLANET, “If this isn’t a done deal, I’d be stunned.”
We agree. Consider:
* “They” give applicants 14 days. Even teaching positions must by contract be posted for 30 days.
* “They” shut off the process at 5 p.m. exactly one hour before the school committee meeting.
* “They” pass out related material to school committee members last night literally two minutes before the meeting, assuring that no one will have time to study, digest, and research.
* “They” unilaterally advertise the position without any discussion of what the public schools, and the taxpayers who fund them, actually need.
* They will not be naming any Kapanskis to the search committee.
Bottom line leads many to believe they have their stooge picked out.
Don’t Tell Anyone, but Is the New Stooge Supt. Barbara Malkas?
Don’t tell anyone, but THE STOOLEY tells THE PLANET it will be Barbara Malkas (though THE STOOLEY [NOT Kinnas, by the way] did lightly qualify that prognostication). Presently, Malkas is one of the multitude of deputy, associate, assistant superintendents who phatten up the top-heavy administration. Deputy Supt. Malkas makes $100,425 plus bennies. Tough to get buy on money like that. She’s in for a raise.
We hear Malkas also has a great qualification for the job: She’s been promoted over her head, and, as most who are treading water, she needs to find other ways to stay afloat. In her case, it’s probably means looking the other way, playing ball, and kissing the right keisters … or perhaps the “right” people aren’t talking to us about her.
Alf Barbalunga Lawyers Up, But Lawyer Contradicts Alf on Key Point
There was an interesting exchange between Kinnas the the school committee lawyer, Mr. Dupere, on whether or not the barrister gave school committee chairman Alf Barbalunga the OK to make a unilateral decision to advertise for the superintendent’s job. The lawyer said he did not give Barbalunga that advice, testimony that, if we heard it correctly, would seem to contradict what Barbalunga has previously claimed.
Dupuis also admitted that in the school committee meeting minutes, there is no motion made to advertise the post. Thus, we still don’t know the answer to a key question: What is the enabling document or legislation that gives a school committee chairman the right to unilaterally proceed on a key personnel matter such as this?
Search Committee Doesn’t Include Any Kapanskis
“I did get the sense that this was pretty much already orchestrated out,” Kinnas said. “Dan Elias was very open minded. Even though [Jim] Conant doesn’t say anything, he’s a bit more open as well. He did vote to increase the size of the search committee.
Speaking of which, the taxpayers got the shaft again. There will be 17 people on the committee. They do not include one taxpayer of the Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski pedigree. Such people have only one useful function: Give the schools $83 million a year to waste and shut the heck up.
Each one of the 17 represents a special interest. Dig this: three from the teachers union, two school principals, two high school student (one from PHS, one from Taconic), three parents, and five at-large position coming from the private sector, social service agencies, etc. This recipe supports a done deal, does it not? Why two students? Do they have legal standing? You can be sure that the three parents will be the “right” parents, who will think Malkas (or any other stooge in place of her) is peach delight.
One cold, hard fact seems to be emerging: The school committee wants to perpetuate the three-card monty game that masquerades as the Pittsfield Public School system. They want a superintendent who ideally doesn’t know where all the bodies are buried and won’t want or dare to ask … OR … if they do know about previous secret killings and things that go bump in the night, will play deaf and dumb. They will want a cheerleader, who will tell us everything is great, on the up and up, and that orange juice comes, fresh squeezed, from lemon trees.
Don’t buy it, folks.
In all, the school committee received nine applications, which are in the hands of the Massachusetts Association for School Committees, the agency assisting Pittsfield in its search.
Give Us A Business Leader First, Above All Other Qualities
There are assistant, associate, deputy, and third-alternate-substitute superintendents, each hauling down salaries at, near, or over $100 grand a year. They got the fancy sheepskins in education. Give taxpayers a man or woman who has successfully run an $83 million plus business. THE PLANET won’t advise the school committee to think outside the box, because before anyone can do that, they first have to be in the box. Their vote last night means that they have to first find the box.
To use a favorite analogy, let’s say we are jobbing out for an employee to make chicken soup. If you simply put in a generic ad that asks for a qualified person who can make chicken soup, you’re going to get a lot of responses from chefs, cooks, and home ec types. Each will have their own way of doing it.
That’s not good enough for taxpayers, though. Taxpayers like lots of carrots, onions, and other veggies. They like the broth clear and golden, with a lot of free-range chicken. It must be on the spicy side, and with a medium texture. For pasta, only fusili will do.
Pittsfield Must First Decide What Kind of ‘Chicken Soup’ It Wants Before It Hires a Cook
You get the point. Pittsfield has to specify the recipe it wants. What kind of “superintendent soup” will best serve the community? We as a community have not had that discussion, and the school committee has disallowed it. As Molly, one of our most insightful posters, commented, you don’t advertise for the position, cut the search off last night at 5 p.m., and then have the discussion about the recipe. You do it the other way around. First, you qualify the position. Then, you advertise. You will get responses that better fill your specific requirements.
Kinnas’ petition represents one of those rare occasions where someone with insight, courage, and common sense tried to prevail against the tired, old accepted “wisdom.” Naturally, this being Pittsfield, insight and courage lost to the empty suits.
SO WE DID JUST THAT: WE STARTED OUR OWN DURNED NEWS’PAPER’
At the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, we took a seminar course titled “Theories of the Press.” It was one of our all-time favorites. The year would be 1975, when vibrant, healthy newspapers still roamed the face of the earth.
Our instructor, Prof. Burt Marvin, made a comment we never forgot. In discussing American’s so-called Freedom of the Press, he said, “Of course we have a free press. Anyone with $50 million can start their own daily newspaper.”
We Have Started Our Own Daily News’Paper’
How things have changed. Cyberspace has literally put the power of the press into the hands of those willing enough and big enough to grab it. THE PLANET has been successful in our little online editorial experiment because we have, in effect, started our own daily news’paper’. That’s what this site has become.
Unlike all of our other work in print and broadcast journalism, we do not have a boss or a set of sponsors to please. We don’t rely on THE PLANET as our cost center. We do not make, and do not want to make, a cent of revenue here. We have to please a creator of one and an audience of thousands. That is how we like it.
This site has grown in popularity, by word of mouth only, because readers know we will not shy away from any story that peaks out interest. They know we will base stories on fact and due diligence and drive them with opinion, hence, our “News and Commentary” tag line. They know when they come here, they will get Truth. That keeps our fans here and our critics checking in because they know that can’t NOT know what we are reporting.
THE PLANET’s Product has a Proprietary Edge Over Any Other Regional Media Source Even Remotely Similar
This site also has grown because unlike most other blogs of this sort, we bring an impeccable journalistic pedigree to the stories we feature. We are also the only regional site that we know of that produces, creates, and disseminates 2,000+ words of content on a daily basis covering mostly local issues. Today, we had 2,741 words. Granted, a word count means nothing, but we have confidence that our words contain little to no fat. We have something to say, and we aren’t afraid to say it.
Of course, leading from out on a limb the way we do draws a lot of attention and critics. We love all of them, as long as they advance the discussion. When they cross a line, we push the James Bond ejector seat, whose button we employ solely at our discretion. We need no reason, other than: “We know when to pull it when we see it.” We don’t ban people from the sight. Rather, we delete what we judge to be inappropriate comments, deriving a kind of tactile thrill in protecting our website’s intelligence by taking a comment some jerk took the time to scrawl and sending it into cyber-oblivion.
One form of well-meaning carping that DOES NOT CROSS THE LINE is the, “Dan, how come you have written about INSERST ISSUE ‘X’ HERE . We understand where that is coming from, and, granted, Issue “x” usually is a good one — but we have only so many hours in the day, and as many people forget, THE PLANET has many other duties.
We can’t be everything to everybody. We can’t cover every issue. We can’t be a savior for every cause. We will do what we can, as we can, at our discretion, alone. We have created a unique online marketplace of ideas. That is enough.
BRAT BAN: GROWING MOVEMENT STRIKES SYMPATHETIC CHORD
As parents by greater number abandon their responsibilities to be mother and father, as children gain more and more control over the “boss” remote (as they have in the classrooms, for example), and as adults grow in fear of daring to discipline children, a growing number of restaurants, theaters, airlines, and other private/public venues are striking back. They’re instituting a Brat Ban.
Get a babysitter first, mom and dad, otherwise, stay out!
THE PLANET loves it, having had more than one meal, flight, play, and movie wrecked by a snot-nosed brat who hasn’t been taught how to behave in public.
That being said, let us also say words that our critics will deliberately ignore: We are not a Monster. We love children. There are lots of good parents out there.
What’s a good parent: Good parents don’t take their children anywhere unless the kids know how to behave. Simple. Any questions. The growing Brat Ban movement is directed to an increasing number of selfish parents who do not want to sacrifice for their children by putting in the hard work of socializing them … for, as every mature adult knows and respects, the Discipline of Society is one that begins in the home and nowhere else.
With that, we present a guest column by Piper Weiss. Enjoy:
Banning the Kids: The Next Frontier in Destination and Leisure-Product Marketing’
by Piper Weiss / Special to PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
What’s the matter with kids today and why doesn’t anyone want them around? In June, Malaysia Airlines banned babies from many of their first class cabins, prompting other major airlines to consider similar policies.
Lately, complaints about screaming kids are being taken seriously, not only by airlines, but by hotels, movie theaters, restaurants, and even grocery stores.
Read more about restaurants around the country banning kids.
Last year, McDain’s, a Pittsburgh area restaurant that banned kids under 6 became a mascot for the no-kids-zone movement.
According to a Pittsburgh local news poll, more than half of area residents were in favor of the ban. And now big business is paying attention. The restaurant says customers were in favor, 11-to-1.
“Brat bans could well be the next frontier in destination and leisure-product marketing,” writes Robert Klara in an article on the child-free trend in AdWeek.
Klara points to Leavethembehind.com, a travel website for kid-free vacations, with a massive list of yoga retreats, luxury resorts and bargain hotels around the world that ban children.
‘Screaming children/Infant Banshees’ — Put a Rag in Them
“Call me a grinch, a misanthrope, a DINK (dual-income-no-kids), or the anti-cute-police, but I hate (hate a thousand times over) ill-behaved children/infants/screaming banshees in upscale restaurants (ok, anywhere, really, but I don’t want any death threats),” writes Charlotte Savino on Travel and Leisure’s blog. She lists a slew of a popular destination restaurants with kid-free areas and policies for travelers looking for quiet vacation dining.
Traveling is one thing, but what about in kids’ own hometowns? Should kids been banned from local movie theaters, like they were at a recent adults-only Harry Potter screening? In Texas, one cinema chain has even flipped the model, banning kids under six altogether, except on specified “baby days”.
Even running errands with toddlers may be changing. This summer Whole Foods stores in Missouriare offering child-free shopping hours. Kids are allowed inside but childcare service is available for parents who want to shop kid-free. (Whole Foods contacted Shine to clarify that the company does not have a kid’s ban. The store’s child-free shopping hours are “about giving parents a break, not about clearing out the kids for those who want a child-free zone,” says a spokesperson for the grocery chain.)
Actually, ‘the Public Isn’t as Child-Friendly as it Used To Be’
Meanwhile in Florida, a controversy brews over whether kids can be banned from a condominium’s outdoor area. That’s right, some people don’t even want kids outdoors.
When did kids become the equivalent of second-hand smoke? Blame a wave of childless adults with money to spare. “Empty nesters continue to wield a huge swath of discretionary spending dollars, and population dips in first-world countries mean more childless couples than ever,” writes AdWeek‘s Klara.
Catering to the child-free community may be good for business but is it good for parents? It could help narrow choices and make kid-friendly environments even kid-friendlier. And let’s be honest, babies won’t miss flying first class. They won’t even remember it. But their moms and dads will.
Most parents with young children have self-imposed limits on spending and leisure. This new movement imposes limits set by the public. And the public isn’t as child-friendly as it used to be. As businesses respond to their new breed of ‘first-class’ clientele, are parents in danger of becoming second-class citizens?
What do you think? Is this the wave of the future for the Berkshires Recreation and Resort Economy? We pass the suggestion along to our good friend Mike Supranowicz, head of the Chamber of Commerce.
OH, WE THANK THE PALE MARBLE THAT WE COULD TODAY JOIN OUR HEADS, TO DRINK THE FALLING TEARS THE OTHER SHEDS.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.