Article

MORE TRIBUTES TO KITTY LICHTENSTEIN … PLANET PUBLISHES THE FAMILY OBIT … O’CONNELL PAYS FINAL TRIBUTE & THE STOOLEY CONDEMNS CITY’s NEGLECT of 28 RENNE AVE. … WHY DID STATE REP. TFB VOTE AGAINST MELISSA’S LAW: A READER WANTS TO KNOW … STATE STICKS TAXPAYERS TO BAIL OUT MBTA … STATE SUDITOR BUMP GRANTS HEFTY PAY RAISES TO 100 STAFF MEMBERS … plus … JONATHAN LEVINE REVEALS THE RUINOUS ‘N. TRACEY PRUFROCK’ CONTRACT WITH CITY SCHOOLS

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, JULY 26, 2012) — Former Pittsfield Arts Commissioner Dan O’Connell has sent the family obituary for Kitty Lichtenstein, the partron of the arts in Pittsfield who did more for the cause than any 10 you might care to offer.

O’Connell writes:

In the past 26 years the City under the Ruberto Administration had absolutely no communication at all with Kitty and has violated her direct wishes that the arts center piano remain accessible to all citizens of the community on a 7/24/365 day basis.
The sculpture garden ( at the rear of the arts center ) which was built as a final resting place for Kitty’s ashes is presently trashed and in disrepair with bronze sculptures dug up and destroyed.
My heart was broken when I recently looked out the back window of the gallery to view the condition of the final resting space of Kitty Lichtenstein. I certainly hope this sculpture garden is cleaned up and that all the murals she funded in this community are fully restored as a tribute to her contributions. I sincerely believe it’s time to give something back to the remembrance of this great lady.
Here is the obituary for this great woman:

Born Katherine Ester Gollerstepper, Kitty fled Vienna at the age of 12 with her family to escape the Holocaust, settling in what was to become the new Jewish State of Israel. There she met her first husband, Henry Lichtenstein, with whom she immigrated to the US.

The family settled down in Los Angeles to start their new life.

There Henry built up the family business, Henry’s Camera. In Los Angeles, Kitty and Henry’s home was always filled with friends and relatives. Being in the camera business, they had an active social life and attended many Industry events such as the Oscars.

Kitty was actively involved in community affairs, scouting, temple events, and various charities, such as fundraising for the United Jewish Welfare Fund.

After raising her two sons, Bernard and Ron, she pursued the education that she had been denied in Austria. Receiving her GED, she went on to attain a bachelor’s degree, a Masters in psychology from Goddard College, and a PhD. in psychology.

Kitty, whose great interests included the mind and fundamental ideas of humanity and ethics, pursued Jungian Psychology and studied Kaballah, combining the two philosophies’ paths to self understanding in her writings. Later in life, she published “Grace Origin Dialogue: Kabba- lah – Jungian Kabbalah that is!” and “That Confounded Apple.

Having experienced and seen so many stripped of their humanity during the war, Kitty deeply felt that music and the arts were the fundamental cornerstones of human dignity and an intellectual humanitarian life. Having lost her father, a musician, in the Holocaust and grappling with her survival when so many had per- ished, she felt a responsibility to foster what was good and beautiful of the human spirit and began the Lichtenstein Foundation for Music and Arts in Pittsfield, MA, which became her home later in life.

Dan O’Connell — who worked for the City of Pittsfield and co-ordinated with her for many years, developing projects with Kitty — told how Kitty would go down to the building site of the Lichtenstein Foundation every morning and bring croissants to the kids working there. Most of the kids were invited to work on the renovations as part of a skill development project and were from low-income households.

Dan recalled how many of them had never had a croissant before and how it delighted Kitty go down there in her hard hat and work with them. Kitty wanted people from across society to have access and opportunity to participate in the arts. It was Kitty’s explicit wish that the grand piano at the center of the Lichtenstein Foundation always be accessible to the entire community to practice on any time of the day or night, and Kitty had hundreds of keys distributed, so that especially those who didn’t have other opportunities would have this one.

When she gave the building to the city, she stipulated that it must always remain so. Her years in Pittsfield were a very happy time for Kitty. This is where she married Albert Askenazy. Kitty, with her husband, spent her later years traveling and pursuing her intellectual interests, settling closer to family again on the west coast. Kitty visited the Jung Institute in Switzerland, gave college classes in Las Vegas, and continued to find delight in all her interests especially Bible study, philosophy, Kabbahla, her writing, and her friends and her family, for whom she was always there.

We thank Dan O’Connell for furnishing this.

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

CITY HAS LET ARTS BUILDING GARDENS GO TO SEED

Meanwhile, the tribute from O’Connell that we published two days ago on THE PLANET prompted this, from THE STOOLEY:

It’s deplorable what the city has allowed to happen the the building and grounds of 28 Renne Ave., the Lichtenstein Center. The condition of the sculpture garden at the arts center as well as the inability for the community to use the gallery piano on a 24/7/365 basis, as were the wishes of Kitty, are an insult to her memory and to the good people of Pittsfield. It is in my humble opinion really the fault of Megan Wildan that the garden is trashed and spewed with garbage and filth and the piano is not available to the community at large. Thank you for considering printing this, since I personally benefitted from Kitty’s generosity. — THE STOOLEY.

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Why Did TFB Vote Against Melissa’s Law?

Don’t know much about this but got this from Save Mass Children:

Mass Children 12:21am Jul 22

Dear Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier, why did you vote against Melissa’s Law targeting violent habitual offenders? The bill also provides leniency for criminals convicted of drug crimes?

We are curious why you would vote against such necessary legislation? We are not trying to disrespectful, instead just trying to understand why you would vote against protecting our children from violent repeat sex offenders.

This is the list of all 42 of the crimes listed in the bill: Child rape, rape and abuse of a child, rape of a child repeat offender, assault with intent to rape, assault with intent to rape a child with a weapon, kidnapping, kidnapping with drugging, enticement, rape, rape with a weapon, rape of a child under 14, child rape causing bodily harm, poison with intent to kill or injure, battery with intent to intimidate, burglary, weapons of mass destruction, inducing a minor into prostitution, incest, exhibiting a child under 18 in sexual conduct, disseminating material of child under 18 in sexual conduct, possession of child pornography, unnatural and lascivious acts to a child under 16, paying for sexual conduct with child under 14, murder, manslaughter, manslaughter with automobile, assault and battery causing serious bodily injury, indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 in the commission of another crime, indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 previous offender, indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, indecent assault and battery with intellectual disability, assault and battery with intellectual disability, indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 causing bodily injury, mayhem, assault with intent to murder or maim, assault and battery dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury, attempted murder, robbery with a firearm, assault with intent to rob or murder while armed with a firearm, assault with intent to commit a felony in dwelling house with dangerous weapon, use of a firearm in a felony, entry into a dwelling with others present with an armed dangerous weapon, and bank robbery. Thank you. — Outraged.

THE PLANET invited State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, who will be running unopposed in this year’s election, to respond with her logic in voting against this bill.

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STATE STICKS IT TO TAXPAYERS AGAIN

All of our fearless state representatives here in the wilds of the Berkshires played ball with the Patrick Administration and the House and Senate leadership, voting in favor of a “one-time” transfer of $49 million to bail out the MBTA, the T,” the public transportation system in Boston on which “Charley” is still riding.

The money came from motor vehicle inspections. It could have been used to lower your taxes, but no — the Special Interests intervened, and Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski got creamed again. The money also could have been used to buy 2,450 dinners at the $20,000 per plate fundraiser that Gov. Deval Patrick is hosting at his Richmond shack for the First Lady, Michelle what’s her name.

Our fearless leaders also transferred $2 million of your taxes to the MBTS for snow removal. That was “surplus” money — taxes you paid but that weren’t needed. Instead of returning that money back to you, government Knows Better How To Spend It, the bastards.

For those keeping score at home, the MBTA, which hardly benefits residents of the Berkshires, is running in the hole to the tune of $1.7 billion, with a “b.” This is a ridiculous waste of taxpayer money. This “one-time” hit will do nothing to solve the structural debt problems of the MBTA … but it sure does keep the public service unions happy.

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BUMP IN THE ROAD: ASSUME THE POSITION

State Auditor Suzanne Bump, a part-time resident of Great Barrington, won the office in 2009 in a race against Mary Connaughton and Nat Fortune. She was the thrid best qualified candidate in that race (THE PLANET had first hand experience from the debate we moderated on TV), and yet, because she’s a Democrat (all genuflect here), she won. She pledged fiscal reform. Right.

Bump announced recently that she will increase the salaries, retroactively, for 100 staff members. This will cost you an extra $500,000, but what’s a half mill among friends? The hikes range from $3,515 to $9,453. They took effect on July 6, retroactive to June 4.

It gets worse. Bump decided to grant the raises after she commissioned some hack outfit to “study” the situation. Surprise, Shock, and Awe! The study came back recommending raises. The “study” cost $30,000. In an interview with Statehouse News, Bump justified the pay raises this way: Without them, she would be unable to recruit and keep well-qualified people. Sure, sure. And it certainly doesn’t hurt come election time, does it. Each of these 100 employees have family, friends, and loved one. Most will be sporting a “Bump” sticker.

They just don’t get it. THE PLANET wonders: What will finally make them see the light. We have our thoughts on this, but we shall keep them to ourselves for the moment,as swift as justice can be.

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FINALLY, THE DETAILS ON N. NANCY’S RUINOUS CONTRACT AS DEPUTY SUPER FOR PPS, PER JONATHAN LEVINE

Finally, we present these important observations of Jonathan Levine in the Pittsfield Gazette on N. Tracey Crowe, the new deputy superintendent of the Pittsfield Public School System and winner of THE PLANET’s first annual J. Alfred Prufrock Award (known by insiders as “The Alf”).

Levine points out:

* Crowe has “no applicable district-wide experience,” yet she will pull down an $18,283 raise in the budgeted salarly for the position.

* Crowe receives a city-paid (i.e., “taxpayer paid”) life insurance policy with an annual premium up to $1,500.

* Crowe will get a relocation bonus of up to $3,000.

* Crowe will receive a “technology package” for a personal iPad and a smart phone, again, with taxpayers picking up the bill.

* Crowe will get more paid vacation time this year than any other city Pittsfield employee. Keep in mind she has yet to complete one day on the job.

* Crowe will receive a 10 percent annual pay bonus, 20 paid sick days, and the ability to convert unused sick days and vacation time into C$A$S$H.

This is a ruinous contract for taxpayers, and it will open the floodgates when new administrators are hired. The only school committee member to vote against this awful contract was Dan Elias.

We wonder if school committeecChairman Alf Barbalunga might himself qualify for an “Alf” for masterminding this dumb deal. THE PLANET also wonders: Is there a “casting couch” in the city of Pittsfield for new hires such as N. Tracey?

Kudos to Levine and the Gazette for detailing the ugly specifics of N. Tracey’s sweetheart deal. Once again, Jonathan beat the pants off the Boring Broadsheet, which continues to spit up the oatmeal on its journalistic bib.

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ON AND ON WE GO, AND WHERE WE STOP, ONLY WE KNOW. WE SAY TO THE WHITE RABBIT: K-B4.

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

35 Responses to “MORE TRIBUTES TO KITTY LICHTENSTEIN … PLANET PUBLISHES THE FAMILY OBIT … O’CONNELL PAYS FINAL TRIBUTE & THE STOOLEY CONDEMNS CITY’s NEGLECT of 28 RENNE AVE. … WHY DID STATE REP. TFB VOTE AGAINST MELISSA’S LAW: A READER WANTS TO KNOW … STATE STICKS TAXPAYERS TO BAIL OUT MBTA … STATE SUDITOR BUMP GRANTS HEFTY PAY RAISES TO 100 STAFF MEMBERS … plus … JONATHAN LEVINE REVEALS THE RUINOUS ‘N. TRACEY PRUFROCK’ CONTRACT WITH CITY SCHOOLS”

  1. Dave
    July 26, 2012 at 8:01 am #

    I am so tired of hearing that in order to get the qualified people we need to keep paying these ridiculous contracts. When we had Jake, he worked for salary X. Either everyone was lying to us about his performance, or we CAN get someone so wonderful for Salary X. He didn’t leave over a salary issue. It seems that in the public sector this is the battle cry to justify giving raises in hard times when the private sector cannot afford to do the same, ironically while paying for said raises. The funny part is with these “A-listers” it never seems to get any better.

    Actually I stand corrected-It’s really not funny.

  2. Scott
    July 26, 2012 at 9:13 am #

    Perhaps at first glance the bill looks good and in the interest of protecting children from sex offenders but maybe upon further reading it leaves things too broad like what does possession of a fire arm have to do with it? There’s already laws on the books for felons in possession of a firearm and possession in the commission of a crime and possessing while dealing drugs. there’s a fine line between protecting the public and an all out police state.

    There should be more severe penalties for repeat sex offenders and mandatory minimums.

    • Wilson
      July 26, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

      Someone gets to rape 3 children before “striking out”? Create 3 nuclear weapons of mass destruction? A lot of the crimes like kidnapping, assault, mayhem are thrown around for trivial offenses and are no indication of dangerousness. Bundling up crimes into one mandatory punishment isn’t logical or just, and therefore likely won’t be effective.

      What will this cost taxpayers? Would it have even saved “Melissa” who was killed by a professional thief? Will it increase safety or make thousands of two-strike petty criminals into very dangerous people?

  3. Scott
    July 26, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    http://protectmasschildren.org/

  4. Rivetor
    July 26, 2012 at 9:49 am #

    The crowe salary is ridiculous. Mytaxes keep going up, the city cries poor at budget time, and then they give away the store to someone with no district experience. This stinks. Shame on the PPS and the school committee for allowing this to happen.

  5. Ron Kitterman
    July 26, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    I was listening to the DTR program this morning. She had as guest the Honorable Mayor Daniel Biachi, someone from the listening audience addressed the above question. Dan’s response was that this was negotiated by the chairman of the school committee along with other remarks. It is certainly premature to throw stones at this point, however, hopefully negotiations are not through the Chairman and then sent on to the school committee ? Just asking ….

  6. Rivetor
    July 26, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    What a bunch of bull. Bianchi blamed it on Alf Barbalunga, and Alf shares a big part of hte blame, but the mayor is also on the school committee. No one created a fuss about this, bottom line. They caved in to a ridiculous set of demands. I’m steaming right now. Please everyone reread what she shook out of the Schools. And I heard the show DTR let him off the hook, another of her fairy dust interviews. Fortunately DV was on with Sturgeon today, kick-a** radio. Planet needs to be on the air again

    • dusty
      July 26, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

      Maybe she did not demand all this money. It may have been thrown at her forcefully by the GOB representative (Alf) in order to buy her good will when it comes time for kickback spending initiatives. By the way. Do I need to ask if she is in favor of a new 200 million dollar high school? Probably not….or she would not have gotten the job.

      • danvalenti
        July 26, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

        But she DID get the job. Don’t know her position on the high school.

  7. tito
    July 26, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    Taxes to high? Come on, you should pay attention to people like Jonathan Lowthrup, he’ll be the first to say the economy is hurting the average taxpayer, on the other hand if water rates are raised, Lowthrup says were one of the Lowest in the state. now that is clever, Jonathan.Just another phrase for higher and more of the same, taxes.

    • Dave
      July 26, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

      Another thing I am sick of hearing from our Honorable contingency. “Our rates are one of the lowest in the state”.
      Do they ever qualify that with the medium income for our area?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Browning
        July 26, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

        Dave youre right, when you look at income we are at or near the bottom. So when you factor in ability to pay our taxes are among the highest in the state if not the highest. The readers of this site are too smart to fall for that line from the “honorable” contengency.

        • danvalenti
          July 26, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

          Correct: Our pols in Pittsfield rarely if ever factor in the economic conditions locally. They take the rate, out of context, to justify unaffordable additional tax burdens on people.

  8. Joe Durwin
    July 26, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    To the Stooley:

    It is a humble, humble opinion indeed when you cannot even spell the name of the person you’re complaining about.

    And how patently ridiculous to suggest the Lichtenstein was better off when it offered a tiny fraction of the amount of exhibits, programs, performances and space use for community groups as it now does. Just because a city employee chooses not to maintain sleeping quarters in her workplace (as her predecessor did) so people can wander in and play piano at any ungodly hour is a poor, poor excuse to exploit the passing of a great individual for a personal and/or political attack.
    Shame on you.

    • Maxwell Edison
      July 26, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

      Bravo!

    • Andy
      August 3, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

      I was just over there banging on the door at 2am this morning, no wonder why no one answered, no one is LIVING there any longer!

  9. tito
    July 26, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    Rest in peace Ms. Kitty.

  10. GMHeller
    July 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

    Mr. Valenti, as you may recall, North Adams-based ‘Andrew Stevens ‘ is the same Internet troll who perpetrated a hoax a few months back on PlanetValenti by posing as a branch manager at Greylock Federal Credit Union and then spreading false and misleading information about that institution.
    Now, ‘Andrew Stevens’ aka ‘Praxis33′ is falsely alleging a murder has been committed.

    NA Mystery Man Falsely Alleges Murder on Topix

    By G.M.Heller
    Published July 26, 2012

    North Adams, MA — In an apparent response to a contest seeking a photograph to unmask his identity, an anonymous North Adams-based Topix poster known as Praxis33 (aka Solons aka ‘Andrew Stevens’ aka at least a few dozen other screen names) has now resorted to making false allegations and alleging criminal acts the evidence for which appears to be in the imagination of the anonymous Praxis33.
    In a Topix thread created Wednesday evening, the headline “North Adams man on scooter Murdered by crazed Gunman from Falls Church VA” was posted by an anonymous Topix poster calling himself ‘I Witness’, a screen persona apparently created by Praxis33 using a proxy-server to disguise his North Adams location to make it seem as though the comment emanated from Reston, VA.
    Under Massachusetts law, the penalty for filing a false police report can be a hefty fine and up to six months imprisonment.
    Whether state law would apply in the case of an individual filing a false report of a capital crime using Topix or other Internet bulletin board would be up to the local District Attorney to decide. <<<<<

    To reach G.M.Heller: editor @ berkshirerecord .com , or (202) 973-2141

    SEE:
    http://www.topix.net/forum/city/north-adams-ma/TTOP4EN799LU42MUQ

    • Shaniqua Stone
      July 26, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

      Dan Are you going to let Mr. Heller turn this into his own crazy blog?

      • danvalenti
        July 26, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

        SS
        No. We let him have his say. He posted under his own name. Moreover, he left his contact information, including phone number. Beyond that, we shall not allow an “Andrew Stevens/Praxis 33-Heller” civil war to erupt on this website.

    • Former Pittsfield Resident
      July 26, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

      Heller is this costing the taxpayers of Pittsfield any money?

      Is it relevant to anything on the face of this earth even?

      What is this obsession with the two of you and why are dragging Dan into the middle of this?

    • Scott
      July 27, 2012 at 3:47 am #

      go away, if you don’t know by now that topix is just a bunch of people who are bored that contribute nothing to any conversation by now then there’s no hope for you.

    • Scott
      July 27, 2012 at 3:50 am #

      also you do realize in order to file a false report you have to actually go to the police department and file it. Topix does not count. Heller Topix is not real.

  11. Shaniqua Stone
    July 26, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    Outraged, Did you contact Rep Farley- Bouvier before you got all worked up? Im guessing no.

  12. tito
    July 26, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

    Fairly Bouvier is busy doing advertisement for the Beagle and doesn’t have time for this kind of nonsense.

    • danvalenti
      July 26, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

      Touche. That ad was embarrassing, both for the BB and for TFB.

      • Andy
        August 3, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

        I read the Eagle every day, where’s my ad?

  13. Jonathan Melle
    July 26, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    Pittsfield received $10 million in GE economic development funds and used it to revitalize North Street. It is that simple.

    • GMHeller
      July 26, 2012 at 9:50 pm #

      North Street revitalized?
      Who knew?
      Are you referring to what is now being referred to as Social Services Alley?

      • levitan
        July 28, 2012 at 7:40 am #

        I work on North Street and find the criticism is a bit off-centered. The plantings and road admendments are pleasant on the eye and if maintained, are likely appreciated by others who work or spend time there.

        Black hole issues are the biggest challenge and are troublesome, especially for the merchants.

        • joetaxpayer
          July 28, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

          Every small town and city gets these state and federal grants for the period lighting fake or real brick walk ways,planters and the such.Bottom line is it is a waste of taxpayers dollars and just more pork .There are so many pressing needs, stop wasting my money!

      • levitan
        July 28, 2012 at 7:43 am #

        *road admendments

        I know, I know it’s spelled wrong, and it’s a not quite right. I refer to the plantings, the aesthetic improvements to the paving. I do not refer to the bump-outs and the lost parking spaces.

  14. Joe Durwin
    July 27, 2012 at 10:06 am #

    “Pittsfield received $10 million in GE economic development funds and used it to revitalize North Street. It is that simple.”

    Really??

    There is 6 million dollars left in GE economic development money. What has been allocated already went to companies all over the city, though the two million that went to downtown arts organizations has helped drive a 40% increase in annual economic activity, to the tune of $25 million, and generated more than $2 million in tax revenue.

    Is there anyone who thinks anything Melle says has any credibility at this point?

    • GMHeller
      July 27, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

      Joe Durwin,
      You claim “two million (of GE economic development money) that went to downtown arts organizations has helped drive a 40% increase in annual economic activity, to the tune of $25 million, and generated more than $2 million in tax revenue.”
      What is the evidence that any of the numbers you cite had anything to do with the expenditure of GE economic development money?

  15. Jonathan Melle
    July 27, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

    I guess I have no credibility on the issue of Pittsfield’s finances. But I support Dan Valenti’s essays that point out that Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski are getting screwed by the political system. I am happy that North Street is artsy-fartsy now. Do I think it was worth the money? “No”. I think North Street is still a place to stay away from and is struggling to draw tourists from New York City and other areas. GE gave Pittsfield $10 million in return for being able to leave behind tons of toxic waste PCBs pollutants that cause cancer in thousands of local residents. The Devil is in the details. Pittsfield politics needs major changes!