ADD 1: SPECIAL INTERESTS BULLY TAXPAYERS AGAIN, AT SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING …MOM AND DAD PLANET: CELEBRATING 68 YEARS OF MARRIAGE TODAY … LETTERS ON PLANET’s D-DAY PIECE … NILAN VERDICT: WAS JUSTICE SERVED … NILAN-MOORE CASE WILL LIKELY PLAY OUT IN CIVIL COURT … CIVIL TRIAL COULD BE EXPLOSIVE
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
ADD #1 THURSDAY JUNE 7, 2012
Last night, 150 toadies of the Special Interests attempted to intimidate members of the Pittsfield School Committee regarding the bloated school budget. That budget is not $54 million, as the cowed Boring Broadsheet reports today, but $90+ million.
These 150 apparently didn’t get the message sent from Wisconsin, where We the People overwhelmingly supported the governor in his attempt to deal with the out-of-control costs inflicted on bedraggled taxpayers by public unions, the chief offender of which are the teachers’ unions. Taxpayers are beginning to catch on, but here, in the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, we come late to the table of right and righteousness, courtesy of gutless politicians who live inside the pockets of the teacher, fire, and police unions.
Never mind that Mayor Dan Bianchi is actually boosting funding of the department by $1 million. When the union doesn’t get the amount of increase they want, they portray this as a “cut.” Again, they trotted our “The Children” to act as human shields to prevent spineless politicians from backbone implants. Will the school committee, the mayor, and the city council again fall for it? This is Pittsfield. This is not Wisconsin.
Pittsfield day is coming, however, and when the budget can no longer pay up the hundreds of millions of dollars taxpayers owe retirees due to years of tack ons to already fat pensions, the system will come crashing down. Then all bets are off. All municipal contracts will be canceled, and receivership will begin to restore order and fiscal sanity.
Next week, when it comes time for the school committee to vote on the budget, and the night after, when the city council does the same thing, perhaps that would be a good time for 151 ordinary citizens to rally at city hall and demand: “No more.”
Make the cuts. They will not be nearly as painful as the suffering for allowing this financial shell game to continue.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, MOM AND DAD PLANET
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, JUNE 7, 2012) — Happy 68th anniversary, mom and dad! We won’t go into this much more, except to salute the kind of toughness, stability, and decency people like you brought to bear on an America much on the wane.
Your generation lived through the Great Depression. When you were in your early 20s, you went to war. In your 30s, you brought your values into communities all across this country, giving it what is perhaps its last era of greatness. Enjoy the day, as you have for each of 24,837 that have preceded it.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Thanks for the touching piece on your Father on the Planet, be sure to give him your love tomorrow on his anniversary and a hand salute of thanks and pride to him from us.
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Your article on D-Day was the best I’ve seen today, and I read many tributes and articles on that great and yet that terrible Day. It was one of the best tributes to our veterans I’ve ever read as a matter of fact.
My father went in to Normandy a few days later after the invasion as part of the second wave. Like most men of that era, he was a silent hero. He didn’t talk much about his experiences, but from what my mom told me, he had some rough times, saw a lot of killing and had to do some. I’m not ashamed to say that your words brought tears to my eyes, remembering my loving dad. Please don’t publish my name. In gratitude, FB
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THE PLANET touched a chord with our D-Day tribute. It’s interesting that, while we knew we wanted to say something about D-Day, we didn’t know what, until literally on deadline. Then we wrote what you read yesterday in one quick burst. It came out as you read it, fully formed. Sometimes writing works that way, and when it does, all we can do is let the words flow.
NILAN CASE BRINGS OUTRAGE, RESIGNATION; CRIMINAL CASE CLOSES, CIVIL CASE LOOMING
In Central Berkshire Court yesterday, Meredith Nilan go off as expected: Lightly. The daughter of Clifford Nilan, head of probation for Berkshire Superior Court, pleaded guilty to one charge of misdemeanor negligent operation of a motor vehicle. She admitted she was the driver of her father’s SUV on Dec. 8, the night she struck and almost killed pedestrian Peter Moore, who was out walking his dog Toby. Toby stayed. Nilan drove away.
‘Continued Without Finding’
As part of the deal struck between her attorney, Tim Shugrue, and Worcester special prosecutor Joe Quinlan, Nilan’s guilty plea became a “continuation without finding of guilt.” A charge of leaving the scene of a personal injury accident was dropped. The verdict brought a combination of outrage from many who have been following this case and resignation from those who pointed out the verdict was about as expected for a first-time offender.
In plain English, the verdict means that if Nilan stays out of trouble for six months, the case disappears, as if it never happened.
Why didn’t Meredith Nilan call the police after the accident? Shugrue repeated the claim that Nilan waited for the police to show up, but they never did. Why? Because the police dispatcher gave officers the wrong address. There was no mention of intervention by either the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny. While a mistake like that is possible, given the names and positions of the people involved on the defendant’s side, reason causes this excuse to stick in the throat.
Was Justice Served?
Was justice served? The answer to that will not be in criminal court but in civil proceedings. In a statement issued after the court action, Moore’s attorney, Michael Hinckley, said, “As the victim in this case, Peter was consulted prior to the entry of the defendant’s plea; however, his interests and focus remain on his recovery and his family. At the same time, Peter continues to evaluate his options for full and fair adjudication of the charges within the civil realm.”
This justice of this case will unfold in “the civil realm.” While the Moore’s have made no official move in civil court, it will likely be a matter of time.
In a civil trial, the case is heard again. A judge or jury examines the evidence to decide whether the “preponderance” of that evidence requires that the defendant be held legally responsible for the damages alleged by the plaintiff.
In civil court, Peter Moore will have his best opportunity to argue his case against Meredith Nilan for the pain, shock, trauma, and duress her reckless driving caused in nearly taking and then severely impacting his life.
Criminal Versus Civil Trial
As in criminal court, a civil trial allows attorneys to call witnesses. It would, for example, allow Moore’s attorney to questions Meredith and Clifford Nilan, under oath and penalty of perjury. It could also allow questioning of other witnesses that may have bearing on the actions of the defendant. That’s where the case could get more than interesting. Depending upon who was called to the stand and what questions were asked, any civil trial with Nilan as a defendant could get explosive. We remind our readers of Clifford Nilan’s Siamese-Twin attachment to the innermost seats of power in Pittsfield this past and often disastrous quarter century.
The plaintiff in a civil case can also introduce physical evidence (photographs, documents, medical reports). For example, Moore could introduce the infamous photographs of damage done to her father’s SUV, which clearly show a man-sized hole in the windshield next to the driver. Nilan said she thought she had hit a deer. In a civil case, lawyers could introduce the photos of the SUV as evidence and ask: How is it possible for a young, healthy, 24-year-old with good vision and a bright mind to mistake this damage for a deer? One possible answer: She lied. Another possible answer: She was impaired on the night of the accident, possibly by alcohol.
The judge or jury will have to weight one set of claims versus the other.
Person to Person
Civil suits can be brought in either state or federal court. Unlike the criminal case, there is no prosecutor acting on behalf of We The People. The case is strictly between the two parties. In a criminal case, it’s not the victim’s responsibility to bring the case to court. The government can prosecute. In a civil case, the injured party initiates the case.
Perhaps the key different between a criminal trial and a civil trial is this: In a criminal case, with a prosecutor acting for The People, at issue is whether the action’s of the defendant caused harm to society as a whole. That’s often difficult to show. In a civil case, the question becomes much narrower: Did Defendant A caused harm to Individual B? Did Meredith Nilan harm Peter Moore? That’s a different order of magnitude than: Did Meredith Nilan harm We the People?
When a party wins a civil case, they are awarded damages in the form of money. Depending on the amount awarded, the discovery process examines the defendant’s assets. Bank accounts can be garnished. Wages can be impounded. A guilty finding against a defendant in a civil case can wipe them out financially.
Those are the essential facts of the case. As often happens, the facts don’t begin to present the full picture. That picture still remains to be revealed.
MORE TO COME. STAY TUNED. WE WILL PRESENT, FOR EXAMPLE, AND INITIAL COMMENT AND COVERAGE OF THE ANNUAL DOG-AND-PONY SHOW KNOWN AS “THE RAPE OF THE TAXPAYERS.” YES, WE’RE TALKING OF THE SCHOOL DEPARTMENT BUDGET. THINK OF “THE CHILDREN. THE CHILDREN” AND WHAT TOTAL DEVASTATION WILL COME IF THE MAYOR, SCHOOL COMMITTEE, OR CITY COUNCIL PROPOSES ONE PENNY OF CUTS AND DOES NOT CAVE IN TO MORE MORE MORE MONEY! BACK LATER.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.