BUST AT LOCAL DIVE TURNS UP COPS, FIREMAN, GUARDS, BUT NO ARRESTS … WERE THEY TIPPED OFF IN ADVANCE BY A DISPATCHER? … PEDA BOARD TELLS CITY COUNCIL TO #$%^ ITSELF AFTER MAZZEO REQUESTS PUBLIC HEARING … THE STOOLEY REPORTS ON SCHOOL DEPARTMENT SOILINGS, INCLUDING WHAT MAY BE JAKE’S NEW GIG
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, MAY 11, 2012) — Through sources, we heard that one fireman, one police officer, and three guards at the Berkshire County House of Corrections were involved in an incident at Herman Alexander‘s on Lyman Street in Pittsfield, an establishment that gives insult to the word dive. Calls returned gave us information, off the record and not for attribution. Only acting fire chief Bob Czerwinski did not respond to our request for comment.
Members of the county drug task force showed up at Alexander’s recently expecting to find “the goods.” They found, instead, a bunch of altar boys playing tiddly winks and drinking milk. Now that couldn’t be because, despite what we heard were “unusually high precautions” by law enforcement authorities to keep their planned raid secret, a dispatcher relayed advance word to the innocent at the Lyman Street hole, could it?
No, that could never happen. This is Pittsfield. The game doesn’t work that way here. A dispatcher did not call ahead to the bar. A dispatcher would never call ahead to a bar. Swine were also seen flying in the sky over the Lakewood area.
The Many Always Get Silenced by the Few
There are a lot of good cops, firemen, and jail guards. That can be said of most public servants. They do a good job, take their work seriously, and see themselves as guardians of public good. They occupy a position of trust, and the shame of it is that they have to keep their mouths shut about the one-too-many bad eggs in their midst who are dealing, doping, slacking, cheating, stealing, and engaging in malfeasance. The majority, the good ones, have to keep their mouth shut because of fear. In clubs, circles, and most any order of rank and rile where a handful are getting away with stuff, a climate of fear is created. Snitch, and you’ll be sorry.
The police, fire, and school departments — The Big Three — operate under these conditions. A vast number of good public servants, who know what’s going on, must fund, run, and operate these departments with a non-nod, wink-wink. Corruption is not ferreted out, and the ordinary citizen — the Mary Jane and Joe Kapanskis of Berkshire County — knows it. The condition of consciousness and awareness on the part of thoughtful, conscientious citizens today typically brings one to apathy. It’s not the apathy of “I don’t care,” which does happen, but the apathy of “I care too much.” Because they do, and because they realize that in supporting The System is to support corruption, most of us leave the skunks alone and let them play with, and waste, our money.
What a long and sad distance from Madison, Jefferson, and the grand experiment envisioned by the Founding Fathers.
Is there a Serpico in the school department, in the fire department, in the police department?
The Code of Silence: It Takes Courage to Stand Up to It
We can understand the fear. They have families and careers. They won’t dare break the Code of Silence. We understand, while adding this: Every man or woman who knows of official corruption and who does nothing about it stands guilty as a silent accomplice. THE PLANET asks, among those who will talk off the record and in the shadows of darkened parking garages and those who won’t: Will one man or woman among them come forward with what they know, put their name to it, and become a hero to a city in such desperate need of one?
Their bosses, too, know what’s going on, but they have a vested interest in portraying a tranquil picture where all is well. That picture, in official Pittsfield, is a lie.
So who will step forward, on the record?
RED FLAGS FLYING ALL OVER PEDA AS BOARD REFUSES COUNCIL INVITATION TO ANSWER QUESTIONS IN OPEN SESSION … WHAT IS THE PEDA BOARD HIDING?
When Mayor Dan Bianchi installed himself on the PEDA executive board, he did so as part of his campaign pledge of transparency. Bianchi knew that he was stepping into a closed PEDA culture that circled the wagons and sent out smoke screens to hide the simple fact that this board has been an utter failure in its mission to drive economic development at the site. The mayor didn’t know, though, how dead set the PEDA board, led by Corydon Thurston, is against letting the public in on their secret members-only club.
Our right honorable good friend, at-large councilor Melissa Mazzeo, has been consistent in her opposition to the fossilized, leather-chaired, and mahogany-paneled atmosphere of PEDA. Unlike most of her council colleagues, she has taken a clear stand against Hill 78, against the capping (as opposed to the cleaning) of Silver Lake, and for reopening the GE Consent Agreement to force the company back to the bargaining table in order to obtain more equitable terms for the citizens of Pittsfield, who daily have to deal with the toxicity GE left behind in their air, soil, and water.
PEDA Board: No, Councilor, We Won’t Appear
Mazzeo recently queried the PEDA board, wanting to arrange for another information meeting of the board with the city council. Bottom line: The board refuses to talk.
“Cory Thurston called me in April to let me know that he did encourage the board members to respond to the request from the council,” Mazzeo said. “He said her would be willing to come speak and that he understands why I was asking for ‘long term’ members to come before the council.”
Sounds good so far, but wait. There’s more.
Mazzeo then sent an e-mail to Gary Grunin. Grunin responded that he, Bill Hines, and/or Mick Callahan “were the logical one to have speak” at the May 22 council meeting. Since then, Grunin and Mazzeo have sent each other several e-mails, and the situation has degenerated. Seems that Grunin and the board wanted to see in advance what questions the council would want answered.
Whenever THE PLANET had a guest on my radio show who wanted to know in advance what we would ask, we would invite them to show up in the studio, and at 9 a.m., and when the show began and the mics became live, he or she would find out. Invariably, a guest who wants to know the questions in advance is either petrified from stage fright, not confident in themselves or what they have to say, or they are outright trying to hide something.
Ultimately, Mazzeo says, Grunin opted out of the invitation.
“Gary felt there was NO need [her emphasis] for the board to come and speak at the council meeting.”
RED FLAG #2.
Why? Why would Grunin or any long-term member of that board fear questions from representatives of We The People? What are they hiding?
“I still strongly believe that the board should come and give us, the council and the public, a run down of events from start to finish,” Mazzeo said. “I plan on speaking to Mayor Bianchi today [Thursday] and get his take on why the PEDA board feels they don’t need to come. And I will continue to try to reach out to Bill and Mick to hear what they have to say, since Gary didn’t say that he spoke with them and that the decision not to appear before the council was a group decision. I am disappointed in their unwillingness to address the public and answer some questions.”
THE PLANET agree with councilor Mazzeo. The board needs to appear in open session and answer questions about what’s going on at PEDA, and, for example, why the promised update on the Waterstone Big Box project in April never happened.
Silence, taciturnity, and uncommunicativeness: RED FLAG #3.
SCHOOL DEPARTMENT SOILINGS, or WHAT’S IN A NAMIN?
School committee members Terry Kinnas and Dan Bianchi wanted to hire Reza Namin as Pittsfield’s new school superintendent. The remainder of the committee didn’t. That right there tells you all you need to know about Namin, that he was a super candidate with a track record of accomplishment. Moreover, he showed an independent streak and indicated a willingness to look into the cubbyholes and behind the curtains.
The majority got rattled by signs that Namin would be an independent voice bringing an outside view. This wouldn’t do well for the deadbeats, layabouts, and slackers employed by the dismal system, who hold 6,000+ children enrolled in the Pittsfield public schools human hostage to their cushy deals and dysfunctional policies.
Wanted: In-House Coat-Holder Who Won’t Rock the Boat
There are half the students of 25 years ago, double the staff, and triple the budget, and the schools are an under-performing mess. No wonder the school committee majority, feelings pressure from the teachers union and other school officers, will appoint an interim, in-house coat-holder who won’t rock the boat.
Memo to Mr. Namin, not getting the Pittsfield job was the biggest break of your career.
THE STOOLEY Files a Most Interesting Report
Meanwhile, our operatives from the field, which we publish under the collective name of THE STOOLEY, filed this report with some questions, assertions, and answers on various items.
— Don’t tell anybody, because it’s supposed to be a BIG, TOP, EYES-ONLY SECRET: Soon-to-be ex-Supt. Howard “Jake” Eberwin III is expected to be named new “Director of Education” at Hillcrest school. Salary: The better or worse side of 100 grand territory. What a small world, after all! An ad that ran for ages on the Hillcrest website has disappeared, signaling an end to the nationwide search. That’s clue #1 of Jake’s purported new gig. Clue #2: In March, Jake, THE STOOLEY reports, was named “Person of the Year” by Hillcrest.
— When unruly lads and lassies in the Pittsfield school system get too out of control, they get sent to, you got it, Hillcrest school on Rt. 20 in Pittsfield. THE STOOLEY reports: “The unruly darlings only cost the city a cool 50 to 80 grand at the least, sometimes much more, depending on how troubled these kids are. That’s a nice price tag that Mr. Jerry Burke of Hillcrest loves for his little paws as he sits on his throne during the search for a new superintendent.” Burke sits on the search committee charged with delivering candidates for the job to the school committee. Again, it’s a small, small world.
— THE STOOLEY raises this thought-provoking question: “Where did [the director] of the Parent Teen Program go? Some say Oz came and whisked her away in cuffs. Underlings are now lining up for her job since she disappeared in April with three men in suits, who came to her work office and escorted her away. She has not been seen or heard from since. This position gets funding from the Pittsfield School System and also a lot of money via fund raising, United Way, etc. Money makes for temptation. The Tin Man, Lion, and Scarecrow took her on a wee trip, possibly to answer to The Wizard. Wherever they went, we know for sure she ain’t in Kansas no more.”
WE THRILL TO THE EXCITEMENT OF THE WEEKEND, WITH OUR SCALLOP-SHELL OF QUIET, OUR STAFF OF FAITH TO WALK UPON, OUR SCRIP OF JOY (THE IMMORTAL DIET). HOPE YOU HAVE FUN, TOO!
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.