PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, JULY 2, 2012) — On poetry Tuesday, the day before the Fourth of July and the annual $85,000 exercise in excess known as the Pittsfield Ringer’s Parade, THE PLANET presents this verse, which we find perfect for the day’s heat and the evening’s recline:


How graceful are your feet in sandals, O queenly maiden.

Your rounded thighs are like jewels, the work of a master hand.

Your navel is a rounded bowl that never lacks mixed wine.

Your belly is a heap of what encircled iwth lillies.

Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle.

Your neck is like an ivory tower.

Your eyes are like pools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bathrabbim.

Your nose is like a tower of Lebanon, overlooking Damascus.

Your head crowns you like Carmel and your locks are flowing like purple.

A king is held captive in the tresses.

How fair and pleasant you are, O loved one, delectable maiden!

You are stately as a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters.

I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its branches.

Yes, the Bible does has some interesting passages. You don’t need Dr. Ruth to explain these words. May love come to all.



ZONING IN — Isn’t it interesting that when Dollar General wanted to locate in a Pittsfield neighborhood zoned “residential,” it had to apply for a reclassification of that neighborhood into “industrial.” Fortunately, our Right Honorable Good Friends on the city council defeated the rezoning request, 7 (Yon, Connell, Krol, Clairmont, Lothrop, Mazzeo, and Morandi) to 4 (Simonelli, Cotton, Sherman, and Capitanio). When Spectrum Health Systems wanted to locate a methadone clinic in Pittsfield, however, the city had no say. Spectrum, set up as a non-profit educational service, did not have to conform to local rule. A Dollar General would have brought jobs, development, and tax revenue. A methadone clinic will bring drug users. Something seems out-of-kilter.

LEARNING ABOUT DOLLARS — When the city decided to pull the Adult Learning Center out of its long-standing address on Lyman Street in a building owned by Phil Massery, it did so to save some bucks. Massery  charged the city $52,800 a year. The five-year lease at 141 North Street, just across the street from THE PLANET’s home of 25 years in the Shipton Building, will cost $45,800 a year — $7,000 a year and a savings of $35,000 over the term of the lease. Not so fast. As reported in The Pittsfield Gazette, councilors who voted for the switch noted “the pact would save the city $21,000 per year when the rent increases hit for the Lyman Street [location].” Woah. If those figures are accurate, that amounts to $105,000 a year in savings. The council approved the move, 7-4. No brainer, with such a steep increase in rent. Opponents argued that prime downtown real estate should be reserved for retail and not for more social services. They got a point, but that was an argument that was needed years ago, before the horses left the barn and downtown Pittsfield got Ad-Lib, the bus station, Juvenile Courts, and other social-service “black holes.”

DOLLARS II IN A SCHOOL SYSTEM NEAR YOU — The Pittsfield School Department came down and Mayor Bianchi went up. The resulting compromise on the budget will still cost taxpayers $300,000 more than Bianchi initially proposed. It’s what we call a Pyrrhic Victory, or a “win” that’s offset by staggering losses. Naturally, the school department portrayed it as a budget “cut,” when they actually got an increase. Speaking of $300,000, that appears to be what it’s going to cost taxpayers to provide laptops for Advanced Placement students. In pushing for the program, backers couldn’t provide school committee member Terry Kinnas‘ request for data that suggested that these devices help students. In fact, there’s credible evidence (studies at Stanford and MIT, for instance) that they actually harm a student’s ability to focus. It’s also not clear how, when, or where the school committee voted to appropriate the money. As Kinnas is fond of saying, “This could get interesting.” Taxpayers, assume the position.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK — “When you’re an interim, the idea is to keep the momentum up” — Gordon Noseworthy, selected by the School Committee as interim superintendent of schools. THE STOOLEY sent us this rejoinder: “In this case, when you’re an interim, the idea is to start some momentum, cuz there ain’t much there.”

KUMBAYA, DAN AND PETE? — At the June 12 council meeting, there was an interesting moment when Peter Marchetti, coordinator of the Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade, presented Mayor Dan Bianchi with a copy of the official parade poster. Bianchi returned the nod by appointing Marchetti to the Conservation Commission. The warms and the fuzzies made a brief appearance, followed soon after adjournment by a rapidly moving cold front that came in from the north. A poster for a commission seat, like Jimmy Piersall for Vic Wertz and Gary Geiger: There had to be a 100 votes in there somewhere.

PLAYING CHICKEN — The city has new laws on neighborhood chickens — uh, the clucking kind. The measures include:

* Egg production must be limited to non-commercial use only and cannot be used to throw at any local elected or appointed officials. Throwing them at bloggers and reporters, however, is permitted.

* No roosters or crowing chickens are allowed. There is enough domestic violence occurring in the city as it is, the law noted.

* Coops must provide three square feet per animal and six square feet per transient, drug user, vagrant, welfare recipient, and “Oh my, THAT is OUR future??”

The rooster crowed, and he determined he was the cause of the sun rising.

LOTS OF ‘STUFF’ PACKED IN THAT PAGE — Per column inch, the most informative, useful page on state government in Berkshire County has to be the “Beacon Hill Roll Call” published each week by Jonathan Levine in the Gazette. The page includes not only photos and contact information of the three local reps and state senator, it provides how they voted on recent legislation, including a summation of the bills. There are also news items pertaining to the State House. That alone is worth the price of the paper.



By Sir Tiberius Fruitjuice

By Royal Commission from King PLANET VALENTI

I looked up from my writing,

And gave a start to see,

As if by rapt indicting,

the court’s full gaze on me.


Its moistly, misty head

Was spectral in its air,

And I involuntarily said,

“What are you doing here?”


“Oh, I’ve been scanning print and hole

and photons hereabout

For the body of one with a radiant soul

to put his life-light out.


“Did you not hear his frenzied tattle?

It was information for our sons,

But it slain in brutish battle

Though we admit, he has injured none.


And now I am curious to look

Into the fervent mind

Of one who wants to write a book

In a world of such a kind.”


Her musing did enlighten me,

And I edged to engage her view,

For I felt assured she thought me

One who should drown her, too.

Well done, Sir Tiberius, well done.






  1. levitan
    July 2, 2012 at 8:17 am #

    Ok. here goes, Dan:

    #1 School budget: I don’t like the $300K, but I do like shaving $750K off the bill. Kudos to Bianchi. Phyrric victory leaves one party dead in his grave, and the other alive, but in the grave.

    #2: Spectrum bringing drug users to the ‘hood. Drug users live in the ‘hood already. There is a letter in today’s BE from a patient trying free himself from heroin. Why not give these guys a little help for salvaging what’s left of their and their communities’ dignity?


    • levitan
      July 2, 2012 at 8:20 am #

      #3:chickens: What does Krol have against chickens? Did a neighbor with chickens step on one his his friend’s toes and now we have a new law?

      I was going to get a chicken, but now am shopping peacocks – they seem a better fit for the neighborhood.

      • Mike Ward
        July 2, 2012 at 11:05 am #

        John Krol is not opposed to keeping chickens. He and I co-sponsored a petition asking the Office of Community Development to draft an ordinance for keeping chickens. We think Pittsfield should copy other communities that allow residents to keep chickens for a reasonable registration fee, unlike our onerous process. Pittsfield residents have had to spend upwards of $300 to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals with no guarantee that their application will be approved.

        • levitan
          July 2, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

          Thanks for correcting me Mr. Ward. My error almost landed an ostrich in my backyard.

        • danvalenti
          July 2, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

          A most reasonable approach. The onerous process now employed in the city should be reformed, as you and JK proposed.

    • levitan
      July 2, 2012 at 8:26 am #

      now for the postscripts”
      #1: Therefore, it’s not a phyrric victory, it is a solid win for the taxpayers, and we owe Bianchi a cheer for standing up to the school committee.

      #2: Here, we have only heard from concerned folk, family members who have been burned through and cheated by addicted relatives, and hysterical ‘activists’. I recommend including the thoughts from the actual patients. Nothing like a complete picture….

      #3: Chickens may be the only way we can get on down the road. Once was a time when cash was cheap, and land was rich. And chickens pay their rent.

      • Scott
        July 2, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

        The biggest lie going is that GMO foods and hormone boosters to make meat bigger and produce more milk is the technology that will feed the world but all it really is, is a way for corporations to maximize profits. I’d love to have chickens and I’m happy to thre church on VAlentine rd. is growing vegetable it would be nice to continue to see things such as that.

        “Civilizations that neglected their soil have perished.” (chickens are good for the soil.)

  2. Gene
    July 2, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    Disagree, levitan. #1: We’re still getting a tax hike. DV is right, the schools tried to say they were getting “cut” but the only thing “cut was the rate of their $$ hike! #2 I have a friend whose two brothers went through from heroin to methadone. Years later the’yre still on meth, still not working, still having their bills paid by the state (thats me and you) 3. Love chickes!

    • levitan
      July 2, 2012 at 8:52 am #

      #1: I think we agree on the points, but my conclusion is “thank you Mr. Mayor for knocking down the bill by 750K. You get it that the City Council probably would override the mayor, so compromise was the only way for him to go, and he had the facts, the revolving budget (secreted by the school committee) and he was firm.

      #2: I understand that the people closest to drug users have the hardest time and I sympathize with them. Addiction treatment is not 100% effective, and some people will not do the hard work needed to change. But, today’s letter is from the perspective of one who is trying to do that work.

      #3: I like chickens, but we may need to shop a new species.

  3. Chet Hunter
    July 2, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    Dan. Another year has gone by and once again we have you slamming the parade. Just don’t go if you think it’s a $85 thousand waste of time! A lot of people do enjoy it !

    • danvalenti
      July 2, 2012 at 9:18 am #

      The parade, as we’ve pointed out many times, has lost its bearings. It’s becomes a once-size-fits-all extravaganza that couldn’t happen without importing ringers, paying them for appearance fees, and bringing in props from the cutting room floor of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. My point is that the parade doesn’t reflect the community anymore. One could put on a perfectly good little home town parade for 1/10th the budget. Also, I wonder if parade organizers have a better plan for trash removal. Each year, the trashing of North Street gets worse. Last year, even a couple days later, downtown North Street looked like Beirut after the siege.

      • Mike
        July 2, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

        Allied waste of FBI used to provide bins that lined the parade route and they would collect them the day after. Why don’t u ask allied waste manager killian Flynn why they stopped doing this

  4. Jim Gleason
    July 2, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    As far as the iPads go, the proposal is to give them to AP (Advanced Placement) students only. What does this say to the other 95% of kids and parents in the high schools? We’re focused on helping only the best and brightest, that’s what it says. Former chair and current committee member Cathy Amuso blurted out that her son is going to get one during the last meeting. Smell something fishy here? Ido.

    • levitan
      July 2, 2012 at 8:56 am #


      To me, what that policy means is that they do not have a good use for iPads. Technology should be used for improving the dynamic and efficiency of the classroom, not for dazzling the students.

      Effective use of technology would mirror the old personal chalkboards of a prior age, which worked pretty well. Teachers need to see who is on top of the current project, who needs help, who is completely lost. The technology ideally would improve the teacher-student connection.

      • Scott
        July 2, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

        My ability to use computers now comes from using them in school. I like how PHS uses Apple.

      • Spectator
        July 3, 2012 at 6:10 am #

        I agree Lev, as an iPad owner, and employed in a position that demands real life application of computers to get the job done, the iPad is nothing more than a toy. The work that I do on my PC to generate my company millions of dollars a year in sales cannot be done on my iPad.

        They are very limited in their actual ability to serve a functional business purpose, and I would go out on a limb to say that they don’t offer any educational advantage that a good ol PC doesn’t already do.

        • danvalenti
          July 3, 2012 at 6:33 am #

          When I went shopping recently with MRS. PLANET for new computers, we went Mac all the way. She got hers, I got his, and we also looked at iPads. We test drove, we talked to owners of iPads, we did our due diligence: Conclusion — As gadgets, they are neat, but they are, as you say, Spec, little more than glorified toys. The iPad move for AP students is done to make it look like Pittsfield is cutting edge in its schools, when it’s really more just “cutting.” Students are being mis-served, good teachers aren’t being supported by administration, and taxpayers are bleeding.

          • Chet Hunter
            July 3, 2012 at 8:38 am #

            Dan. Did you buy locally?

          • danvalenti
            July 3, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

            Yes, as much as we can.

    • dusty
      July 2, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

      Did the city get the best deal they could on these iPads? Buying that many should produce a deep discount I would think. Any kickbacks to Alf on this deal? Are the kids that get them able to use them for whatever they want? Are they leaving them behind for the next years crop of geniuses or do they get to keep them and the taxpayers fork over another quarter million dollars next year?

      Am I allowed to ask these questions or am I harassing someone? Let me know so I don’t cross the line.

      • skier1
        July 2, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

        good questions dusty!!

      • levitan
        July 2, 2012 at 6:37 pm #

        I would assume Apple gave the school a bulk and or educational discount. ipads are the latest craze to replace the last one of laptops and if used appropriately could assist the classroom. But, for that to be true, the school should be designed but structurally and philosophically around the relationship of technology to learning.

        I doubt the thinking has gone that far.

      • Shaniqua Stone
        July 3, 2012 at 4:55 am #

        Dusty, The schools would have to put this out to bid. Low blow on the kick back comment.

        • Spectator
          July 3, 2012 at 6:13 am #

          It would be interesting to see concrete evidence that Apple gave anyone a discount on iPads.
          Please share your knowledge

  5. Richard
    July 2, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    Dan that was a great letter today. Remember the Casey A case I don’t recall any reporter not being able to report on that story. Or a judge telling a reporter to stop reporting on it.

    • danvalenti
      July 2, 2012 at 10:01 am #

      Thank you for the compliment. I don’t know the case to which you refer.

      • Scott
        July 2, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

        Casey Anthony was acquitted on the murder charges of her three year old daughter despite the fact that Nancy Grace and other media outlets condemned her on national T.V. every day from the time her daughter went missing. (Her story was sketchy but the jury must have heard something the media didn’t tell.)

    • Spectator
      July 3, 2012 at 6:14 am #

      Or Jerry Sandusky too. You’d think that after years of covering it all up, that Penn State with it’s infinitely deep pockets, would have attempted the same silencing.

    July 2, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

    Question to Dan: Are you appealing the Judgeless ruling against you and the blog?????

  7. Diogenes
    July 3, 2012 at 1:44 am #

    While reading about chickens and poems and considering all of the crap going on around here lately, I was reminded of one of my favorite childhood “nursery poems” :

    I wish I was a little egg, a-way up in a tree.
    I wish I was a little egg, as rotten as can be.
    And when some mean old (insert name here) did holler up at me,
    I’d throw my rotten little self and splatter down on she!

    (Author Unknown)

    • Scott
      July 3, 2012 at 5:40 am #

      I like that.

    • danvalenti
      July 3, 2012 at 5:51 am #

      The poets usually have, if not the best say, then the last say.

  8. rick
    July 3, 2012 at 1:45 am #

    every 4th of july i think back to the 60s and early 70s parades, and the fun after with wahconah park buzzing with the fireman’s muster, and later that evening the battle of the marching bands and to top it off a fire works display that got better year after year.those days are gone i guess but maybe if we try to bring that format back for one year it could be a hit…. it was a day of family, and friends both new and old. just the marching bands exhibition was worth waiting for, and the price of admission could help pay for the bands… have a nice 4th everyone…

    • danvalenti
      July 3, 2012 at 5:53 am #

      Many thanks. You have stated beautifully the point I was trying to make with less effectiveness: The Fourth was (and still could be) a day much designed like the ones we knew and that you so well outline. That format is simpler, less expensive, more fun, and less hassle. I agree: Let’s try it a for a year or two. It will work. I know it will.

  9. Richard
    July 3, 2012 at 4:57 am #

    I wounder If you will be alowed to report on theMuir case?

    • Scott
      July 3, 2012 at 5:41 am #

      People like Muir once found guilty through due process should be executed.