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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.