PERMIT PARTY HITS PITTSFIELD AGAIN, THIS TIME FOR SPRINGSIDE PARK CLEANUP VOLS … TAXPAYER RIPOFFS LEAD RANDOM OBSERVATIONS … plus … WHAT MR. MITT HAS TO DO NOW
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, April 9, 2012) — Not long ago, we told you about the machinations the city of Pittsfield put Ken Ramsdell through when it came to getting a permit to … to what, square the circle? to build a time machine on Park Square? to test a hydrogen bomb? No, to … walk his dog in Kirvin Park, a designated dog-walk park.
The story took on one of those “Only in Pittsfield” dimensions as Ramsdell had to traipse from office to office and building to building, getting signatures from department heads and an assortment of vital offices whose foundations would be shaken if city residents were to walk their dogs in a city park without the proper papers. Ramsdell took one for Team Pittsfield so he could experience the ridiculous process and then write about it, which he did, exclusively, for THE PLANET.
‘Vee Haf Our Vays’
On Sunday, April 15, at Kirvin Park, the Toby II dog walk will take place. This will be a mini-Woofstock for dogs and dog lovers, with plenty of fun and exercise, plus information booths on various items and services of interest. Toby II, which honors heroic little Toby Moore, is the rescheduled version, prevented by the city the first time around because Ramsdell didn’t have a permit. One can see Deanna Rufer checking the dog walkers next Sunday, enunciating in a perfect German accent: “Your papers, please.” Otherwise, it’s “Vee haf our vays.”
Along these lines, each year a number of conscientious Pittsfield citizens has been gathering in Springside Park for the annual cleanup there. The city has little if anything to do with this cleanup. In fact, for the city’s part, it has ignored its most beautiful park for years, causing it to lapse into a jungle of overgrowth, trash, and neglect. And to think of the pool, the manicured baseball diamonds, the beautiful forest paths.
The little band of volunteers has, for several years, taken to task and taken it upon themselves to do what they can in helping the neglected park regain its beauty.
Not this year, though. This year, the city demands that the Friends of Springside Park get “za proper pay-pahs.”
That’s beautiful, isn’t it? Here we have a bunch of civic-minded people who are willing to volunteer their time, efforts, and materials for the cleanup, and the city is getting all Heinrich Himmler on them.
The de facto leader of the park pack is former parks commissioner Gene Nadeau, a good man to have with you in any battle foxhole. Prior to two years ago, the group did its clean up and the city left them alone, receiving in return a park in much better shape. Two years ago, according to Nadeau, Royal Hartigan, a longtime member of Friends, received forms from Jim McGrath of the Parks Department upon order of Ms. Rufer. Hartigan, who handles publicity for the event, asked Nadeau for assistance in filling out the form. Nadeau, being the stout fellow that he is, obliged, going through the Ramsdellian Gauntlet.
Last Year: ‘Another Story’
“Last year is another story,” Nadeau tell THE PLANET. “The Readers’ Digest version of it is that another individual went through the long process [of filling out the form] but didn’t submit the paperwork in time to get on the Parks Commission agenda prior to the date, for approval. [Readers will recall from Ramsdell's ordeal with Toby II, the commissioners need 45 days advance notice — this in the age of texting]. I became involved again.”
Nadeau continued: “I contacted Becky Tefft, who suggested that we reschedule the cleanup. I asked if people needed a permit to pick up litter left on the city’s tree line. When told they didn’t, I informed Becky that we would hold the cleanup as planned, but as individuals. I also called [city council president] Gerry Lee, who seemed unaware of the process. He eventually called me back. He said he had spoken to the Parks Commissioner chairman, “Cliffy” Nilan, who gave his approval to hold the event as scheduled.
That’s the same Nilan whose daughter is plays the lead in the Nilan-Moore Case, the same one who performed a peck full of favors for Angelo Stracuzzi after the latter’s escapades in Biddeford, Maine. Funny about those six degrees of removal, eh? And were you shocked, shocked, that Uncle Gerry Lee was “unaware of the process?”
What will happen this year? More forms? More hassles? THE PLANET shall do our best to keep you posted. By the way: anyone know the date for this year’s planned cleanup, or even if it’s happening? If so, can you pass it along?
With the discouragement the city inserts into the process of civic-minded events such as Toby II and the Springside Park cleanup, is it any wonder why businesses have nightmares about having to deal with the city for anything. That’s assuming all is on the level, of course, and that the business in question doesn’t have friends in High, Exalted Places. In that case, rules are bent, laws are broken, and Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski end up paying for it in the end.
— THE PLANET is a limousine liberal.
— THE PLANET is a Conde Naste conservative.
— Certs is a candy mint.
— Certs is a breath mint.
— Wouldn’t it be great if the Red Sox and Yankees go winless this year and have to play off for last place?
— What do Newburyport, Mass., Burlington, Vt., and Syracuse, N.Y. have in common, besides bustling, thriving downtowns? Answer: Their center cities are all littler free. What prompted this is a land-mine walk through downtown Pittsfield, where one is appalled at the trash, litter, garbage, and filth. That’s what happens when you lead the league in Sec. 8, welfare queens, English-as-non-functioning second-lauange, and other transient populations who are here only because the city has no residency requirements before one can get on the dole and begin receiving for food, housing, etc., etc., etc.
— With all the talk about change and transparency, hard choices and bold action during the campaign, are you wondering what Mayor Dan Bianchi‘s first budget will look like? Will it begin to address the looming fiscal troubles of the city or will it be same -old-same ole? If the city doesn’t begin now to get tough with its budget, we can safely predict — without benefit of a Mayan calendar — doom for Benigno Numine.
— Bianchi will be asking my Right Honorable Good Friends on the city council tomorrow night for an additional $1.5 million in borrowing for the McKay Street Parking Garage repairs. The project was initially expected to cost $6.6 million, of which the city’s share was to be $3.5 million. If we understand the proposal correctly, the administration is asking for another $1.5 million. Why? What’s the new money going to do? And what is the plan for oversight on the project to prevent any additional last-second surprises? Who is the contractor for this project? Has there been proper oversight? The $1.5 million in new borrowing in the name of taxpayers represents a 43% increase in taxpayers’ share of the project. What company in the private sector could stay in business with last-minute price increases like this?
— Speaking of cost bumps, it’s not bad enough that taxpayers had to pay for the demolition of the privately-owned Pennell Building (the former Grossman’s on East Street), but — hang on to your wallets — the project jumped the track on finances. The $239,000 demo job has had unexplained cost-overruns attached to it. THE PLANET disagrees with councilor John Krol and Bianchi. Krol writes in his constituent newsletter that “we have to meet our financial obligations, and a vote against this additional funding would be irresponsible.” We think the overrun should be rejected until the reasons are full understood. Why is the additional money needed? What kind of project supervision has been in place for to “require” this type of hit to the taxpayers? Also, has the city exhausted its legal options against the owner. This is a privately owned building. The owner has other assets that could be attached. Granted, it’s not that simple, but you mean to say that while the city can give dog walks and volunteer park cleaners what Wally and the Beaver used to call “the business,” they can’t do a thing against a deadbeat building owner? THE PLANEt refuses to accept that.
— We do commended our Right Honorable Good Friend Krol for publishing the most informative constituent newsletter of any councilor. Krol routinely includes the council agenda plus a highlight discussion of key issues.
— Hope you all had a great Easter celebration. We did, with family, friends, and loved ones. The food was five-star, courtesy of MRS. PLANET, the wine and beer were flowing, and the guests were in delight.
Now that our boy, Mr. Mitt, has Gingrich conceding (but competing) and Santorum bowing out (sooner rather than later), he can plan his assault in November.
Here’s what Mr. Mitt has to do:
* Raise as much money as possible in the least amount of time as possible.
* Not a day can go by without raising money. President Obama will have about a billion dollars to play with. Romney will need every nickel he can raise. As of today, Mr. Mitt has about $300 million.
* He must narrow the gap with Obama not just in fundraising but in organization.
* Begin to think about a VP selection. This will be a much more critical choice for Mr. Mitt than for Obama. The VP nod will be key in Team Romeny’s strategy to win the 270 electoral votes needed to become the next President.
* Mend the fissures in GOP ranks among Tea Party zealots on the far right, party loyalists in the middle, and moderate Republicans on the left.
* Get into “Presidential” mode. If we were advising Team Romney, we would say: Act more like a candidate for general election. In short, “Get out of primary mode.”
* “Energize the base” — one of the great campaign cliches, but the key to any election. It comes down to votes. The winner will get more of them (electorally, anyhow).
* There IS a path to 270 electoral votes for Romney. He CAN win.
* Triple any fees THE PLANET is receiving when campaign switches into Presidential gear.
AND NOW BY OWN OWN AUGUST MAJESTY WE SWEAR, BY THE SCEPTERED PEN WE BEAR, THAT WE WILL WELCOME WHAT THE DAY BRINGS, AND WITH OUR HEARTS, SING …
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.