SIR TIBERIUS RESPONDS TO PLANET’s ‘ENEMIES’ … MINNESOTA STADIUM DEAL WOULD HIDE THE BOOKS FROM TAXPAYING PUBLIC (SOUND FAMILIAR?) … MINUTES OF LAST 3 SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETINGS STILL NOT POSTED … OLD MINUTES REVEAL SNEAKY BUSINESS, AND ONLY THE PLANET DARES TO EXPLORE
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, MAY16, 2012) — THE PLANET‘s Poet Laureate has again been at work. On commission, he has crafted a response to our enemies. First, though, we present a point of clarification.
THE PLANET has no enemies. We only have friends who remain unconvinced. We bear no animosity in our hearts for any human being, created thing, or living creature. We choose to love. We oppose only some actions, especially those committed by those given by We The People the honor of governance and who abuse that power. We oppose only what certain people do that can be termed “wayward” and “detrimental” to the good of citizens, taxpayers, and Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski, our proverbial Little Guys.
A prime example of this has become the Pittsfield School Department, which has been totally politicized to the detriment of educating children. As one of our commentators, Dusty, pointed out yesterday, the school department has become an Empire Unto Itself. It eats up 70% ($90 million) of a $130 million budget. It has been, to date, largely unaccountable. Pay raises are granted, mindlessly, year after year, without being tied to performance. The schools bear the lion’s share of the crushing tax load that We The People, and businesses in the Dreaded Private Sector, must bare in the city of Pittsfield.
The question is: How much longer will people put up with such crud? There: digression over. It is with great aplomb that we present Sir T’s latest epic.
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FROM THE PLANET, TO OUR ENEMIES
By Sir Tiberius Fruitjuice
The blind man’s mark is the fool’s self-chosen snare,
A trap of fond fancy’s scum and dregs of scattered thought.
Band of all evil, cradle of causeless worry and care,
Your web of will is one whose end is never wrought.
Taxpayer! Taxpayer! You have too dearly bought
At dear price these mangled minds, their worthless wares.
Too long, too long asleep have you been brought
By those whose minds should to higher things prepare.
Yet in vain, they have THE PLANET’s ruin sought.
In vain, they tried to make me to vain things aspire.
In vain, they have kindled all their smoky fires,
For virtue has us this better lesson taught:
With ourselves and in our counsel alone we seek our only hire,
Desiring nothing but how to kill your desires.
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Submitted without comment, as Rod Serling used to say.
MINNEAPOLIS WANTS TAXPAYERS TO COUGH UP $$ FOR STADIUM, BUT IT WANTS TO KEEP THEM AND THEIR NOSES OUT OF THE BOOKS (DOES IT HAVE A FAMILIAR RING?)
Do you want still more proof that you can’t trust the GOB, aka Establishment, Special Interests, Status Quo, Mucky Mucks, etc.? This little item will recall the civil way Pittsfield fought in 2000-01, when a bunch of GOBs tried to use a baseball stadium as a Trojan Horse to put into effect a Civic Authority. The CA would have broad, undefined powers. It would be a board appointed by the mayor (at the time, Gerry Doyle).
We The People, you remember, rose to the occasion and — in an act of democracy unequalled in city history — took the CA enabling legislation and shoved it down their throats. David bested Goliath. During the debate, the GOB was especially guarded about the finances for the project, which brings us to Minnesota.
From an AP report:
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) The Vikings stadium deal that Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law Monday involves plenty of public participation, but it also prevents the public from getting a look at the team’s finances during their partnership to build the $975 million stadium.
The law commits the state and city of Minneapolis to pay a combined $498 million, while the team will bring in $477 million from private sources.
One provision would shield ”any financial information” from the team from public eyes. Critics say the blanket protection goes beyond current state law, leaving taxpayers in the dark on one of the state’s biggest public works projects. Minnesota law already allows businesses that get state money to avoid disclosing trade secrets, business plans, tax returns and other financial data.
”We now have the largest public commitment in the state’s history in an agreement with the Vikings, and we have an unprecedented lack of disclosure,” said Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville, who voted against the stadium bill. ”I just think that sunshine in government is good, and in exchange for nearly half a billion dollars in public commitment, there should be some sunshine on the other side of the ledger.”
The law creates a new Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority -with members to be appointed by Dayton and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak – to vet the team’s ability to fulfill its financial commitment to build, operate and repair the stadium over 30 years. (PLANET’s emphasis).
We will stop there. We point out one dissimilarity in the Pittsfield and Minneapolis positions. They would create a Sports Authority, with power limited to the building and operation of the stadium. Pittsfield wanted to create a Civic Authority, with powers city wide.
Moral of the story: Whenever “They” want to take your money, taxpayers, BEWARE!! Ask questions. Be a pain in the ass. Make it difficult. Demand accountability.
To my good friends in the GOB in Pittsfield: The gravy train, admittedly still in town, is being sabotaged from freedom fighters! The Underground has only just begun to fight!
BEING LATE ON MINUTES EXEMPLIFIES SCHOOL DEPARTMENT DYSFUNCTION or WHAT ARE THEY HIDING?
Oh, how many a young man has heard these dreaded words from their flings and fled in panic?
“Late” is a work that rarely indicates good. He is “the late Mr. Barnes.” Your boss tell you you’re “late” for work. The Pittsfield School Committee is “late” on the public posting of its minutes. Why? With no good reason to believe otherwise, can we take it to mean the committee doesn’t care? Or worse, does it mean the minutes, having once been ready, are being doctored before being allowed to see the light of day? Don’t laugh: Far stranger things have happened in that department.
School Minutes Can Reveal Telling Insights for Those Who Have Patience
The minutes for the April 11, April 25, and May 9 meetings are still as of today not posted. This makes an aggregate of two months tardy. Try getting away with that kind of service You’d be fired in two shakes in the Dreaded Private Sector. Taxpayers shell out $90 million a year, 70% of the city budget, on schools. Do you think there might be enough in that $90 million to get minutes posted in a timely way?
Minutes can reveal interesting items that might escape notice the first time out. For example, take the curious “Item C” from Sec. VI of the March 28 minutes.
The first thing we need to settle is which “Item C.” There are two, yes, two. Section VI moves from A, to, B, to C, to C. The second “C” should be a “D” as in “Dan,” C The First being “Approval of Change in Objectives and Procedures in Policy SC-53 (School Committee-Staff Communications)” and C The Second being “Approval of PEAA Settlement Agreement.” Doesn’t anyone review the minutes before they are approved? A-B-C-C?
C The First goes into an enlightening area regarding accountability. It begins innocently enough, with a bit of cottony bureaucratic prose: “Deputy Superintendent Malkas reviewed the proposed changes in policy and responded to a question regarding voting procedures.” Of course, the minutes do not detail the “proposed changes” of the “policy.” Readers in some long-ahead age will be assumed to possess ESP.
Then we read this: “Mr. Kinnas asserted that School Committee members should have access to the school without being required to announce their visits beforehand, saying that such access would better enable School Committee members to uphold their fiduciary responsibilities and to maintain due diligence.
“Motion by Katherine Yon, seconded by James Conant, that the School Committee approve the changes in Objectives and Procedures in Revised Policy SC-53 (School Committee-Staff Communications), as outlined in Enclosure No. 5 was by vote unanimously opposed. (See page 52.)
“Mr. Kinnas reiterated his comments above. Other members of the School Committee also shared their opinions about the proposed policy.
“Motion by Katherine Yon, that the School Committee accept the language as amended to say, ‘Individual Committee members interested in visiting schools will make arrangements for visitations through the principals for a mutually agreed upon time and date. Principals will notify the Office of the Superintendent that a school visitation had been scheduled. Such visits shall be regarded as informal expressions of interest in school affairs and not as “inspections” or visits for supervisory or administrative purposes,” seconded by James Conant, was by vote approved: 6 in favor (Amuso, Barbalunga, Bianchi, Conant, Elias, Yon) and 1 opposed (Kinnas). (See page 53).”
A few point, if you please:
* Minutes need to be more carefully composed and more thoroughly proofed.
* The minutes state other members commented on Kinnas’ proposal, but it doesn’t say who spoke or what they said.
* Terry Kinnas, again, and this time alone, stood for freer access. He made a reasonable point about unannounced visits. As a school committee member, he has already been vetted thoroughly. He should be able to visit schools as he sees fit. In addition, as a school member, he is, if we are not mistaken, an employee of the school department with a ranking ahead of the superintendent. In other words, he’s the superintendent’s boss, as if every other committee member.
* Having to make arrangement through the principal’s office (who has to get approval from the superintendent) defeats the purpose and value of surprise visits. We must rely on the professionalism of committeemen and women. Their presence will not cause disruption, and only unannounced visits offer a truer picture of what is happening in the trenches. Consider that we aren’t talking about secret visits. A school committee person should be able to walk into any school without pre-arrangement, but, of course, when entering the building, he or she would notify the school.
* The other six members of the board did not want unhindered access. They agreed to pre-notice, which gives principals and staff a chance to “tidy up.” It’s telling that the school committee would agree to such a humiliating condition. THEY are boss. They are acting like underlings. Why? Who is running the show here?
* Why the language that such visits shall not be “inspections” or done for a “supervisory or administrative” reason? Why strip any potential visit of any teeth? Why put a school committee person in legal jeopardy if, on such a visit, he or she comes upon a supervisory or administrative situation?
THE PLANET gives Kinnas credit for objecting to his committee’s emasculation. The board chopped off its own balls. Fortunately, Kinnas still has his pair.
Totalitarian Language Par for the School Administration
In the staff-committee communications language, the School Department gets downright totalitarian. All school staff — “principals, supervisors, teachers, and other staff members” — are prohibited from “all communications” to the committee without the superintendent approving first.
When leaders and managers move to curtail the free flow of communication between and among constituent parties in any type of socio-economic political arrangement such as a public school system, it’s a danger sign.
This leads to a question that can be asked for far too many school department intrigues:
WHAT ARE THEY HIDING?
BEHOLD, A LA GLORIA CUBANA “LGC ARTESANOS RETRO ESPECIALE” (7″ x 52) AWAITS WITH OUR MORNING JOE. THUS WE WILL BID YOU ADIEU, SAYING THAT MORE REVELATIONS ON THE SCHOOL DEPARTMENT ARE IN THE WORKS. TUNE IN LATER ON.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE”
LOVE TO ALL.