Article

SHORT-TERM THINKING, OVER-ESTIMATING DEMAND, UNDERESTIMATING COSTS PRODUCE ARTS GLUT … WILL IT SPELL DOOM FOR PITTSFIELD? … plus … UNEARTHING AN IMPORTANT CLUE TO THE CITY’S FUTURE

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, JULY 6, 2012) — Yesterday, as we have done on numerous occasions prior, THE PLANET discussed the folly of relying upon a recreation-and-resort economy as a city’s economic cost center. Most of the jobs of such an economy  are service-type positions that pay minimum wage or not much more. Benefits are rare to non-existent.

There is, of course, a direct correlation — an ironic one — with a city not known for the arts trying to function economically solely off the arts. The makeup of Pittsfield — its culture, its mindset — is blue collar. Riding Recreation-and-Resort for the sum of its economy leaves too many residents without the jobs or the means to earn a livable salary.

The presence of a dangerous demographic of dropouts, druggies, mentally ill, Sec. 8 families, handicapped, teen single moms, welfare recipients, prisoners and their families, and other needy populations invariably follows. For example, Pittsfield leads the state in the number of group homes, and it’s for a reason: Money. Many of the statuary benefits “given” to the city by Beacon Hill are the payment for taking unwanted human subpopulations from other parts of the Commonwealth and environs.

One problem with an Arts economy in a city like Pittsfield is the bewildering array of choices in Berkshire County on any given evening, especially from July through Labor Day. That’s when the Berkshires get as hot as the weather. So much to do, so little time, and too little money in Pittsfield with which to do it. The discretionary income isn’t there, for the locals have little.

Pittsfield Isn’t Great Barrington 

Owning to second homeowners who have driven the price of real estate up and who use relatively little of a town’s public services, communities where the arts have been historically and culturally integrated into the local culture — Great Barrington, Stockbridge, and Williamstown, for example — do well during this time and, to some extent, year round.

Pittsfield never was, is not, and likely never will be such a place. The city is a blue-collar town where manufacturing once ruled. Its social, political, and economic infrastructure hasn’t been and is not geared to be a Stockbridge or a Great Barrington. The heck-bent-for-leather push for the R&R economy has largely ignored the local demographic makeup. It’s like forcing a construction worker to wear ballet slippers to work.

In the whooshing exit of more than 20,000 good manufacturing jobs (GE, Sheaffer-Eaton, Beloit-Jones, the woolen and paper mills, Sprague), the city panicked and made many colossal and irrevocable mistakes. It allowed cronyism and barroom politics to win the day ahead of sound policy and sober decision making. These short-sighted blunders include failure to build a downtown mall, tearing down too much of its heritage in a disastrous Urban Renewal frenzy, and letting Berkshire Community College move miles away to the city’s fringes instead of keeping it downtown (you think downtown wouldn’t benefit from having 2,000 students, faculty, and administrators there every day?).

Another hidden problem is one of market. Stockbridge and Williamstown will always get the arts dollars. People will want to live there and play there. Railroad Street in Great Barrington will always be packed. Williams College will keep Williamstown vibrant. The Red Lion Inn, Tanglewood, Naumkeg, Eden Hill, the Berkshire Theater Festival, Kripalu, and the Norman Rockwell Museum will take care of Stockbridge just fine.

Pittsfield, on the other hand, cannot cut it with South and North county spillover. It can’t keep adding performance space, eateries, screens, galleries, and other ingredients of an R&R economy without again shooting itself in the foot. The market isn’t there, nor is the discretionary income. Moreover, as the town adds to its problematic population — a scary sub-class mix mentioned earlier — there will be a growing disconnect between the city’s public and private lives. Caught in the middle with be the vanishing middle and lower middle class.

A Glut of Options: What is a City’s Capacity for Art, Recreation, and Leisure?

That leads to an interesting and apropos article brought to THE PLANET’s attention by our good friend Laurie Norton Moffatt, executive director of the Norman Rockwell Museum. It seems that nationwide, Pittsfield, Mass., was at or near the top of the biggest spenders on the arts. Before the local cheerleaders take that and run with it, as if it’s some sort of badge of achievement and proof of the Renaissance, let’s head that off at the pass with some honesty.

The careless overspending has created a glut of options, will fail to produce a return (why do you think private capital wants no part in building arts space in places like Pittsfield?), and will drive down value. To keep it all going, public subsidies will be sought.

Here’s the article, first published in theatlanticcities.com. It was written by Emily Badger:

“Demand” is an inherently tricky concept to measure when it comes to the arts. How can a museum know, for instance, that a million new visitors will surely come through if it opens a new gallery? Or how can a theater accurately gauge that its community has the capacity to support a new stage, if it can just find the money to build one? There is no neat way to count a city’s untapped demand for museums, cultural centers and performing arts spaces.

That being said, it’s becoming pretty clear that during the boom years, American cities built too many of them, surpassing demand with a supply that would come to weigh down arts institutions that had no business chasing after their own Guggenheim Bilbao. A massive new study by the Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago reaches this conclusion after surveying 725 new arts facilities and expansions that sprang up in American cities between 1994 and 2008, at a collective cost of more than $15 billion.

Here are a pair of maps from the final report of the metropolitan statistical areas with cultural projects under way in 1994 (at left) and with projects begun between 1994 and 2008.

Every corner of the country was in on the craze, as were communities of all sizes. Per capita, the biggest total spenders on cultural projects during this period were Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the San Francisco/Oakland/Fremont region of California, Appleton and Madison, Wisconsin, and Lawrence, Kansas. (The biggest total spender, not surprisingly, was the New York region, coming in at more than $1.5 billion.)

“If demand is difficult to measure in the first place, then what’s the justification for the supply?” asks Joanna Woronkowicz, one of the report’s co-authors and an associate with the Cultural Policy Center. Repeatedly, the researchers came across arts organizations that failed to thoughtfully assess this question. We know in retrospect that the demand often wasn’t there: In overbuilding for audiences that did not come, many of these organizations have since run into financial trouble.

So why the building glut? The researchers point first to some demographic trends. The communities that tended to invest in these new arts facilities were often those experiencing population growth with rising rates of education. We also saw during this period a building boom in multiple sectors (although it’s particularly noteworthy that building in the arts grew faster than or on par with building in the health and education sectors).

“We’d just finished this huge period of economic growth, and a lot of institutions were under the guise that they were doing very, very well,” Woronkowicz says. “What we concluded is that there’s a lot of short-term thinking going on. A lot of institutions felt very successful, however they weren’t really thinking down the line.”

She also points to one other factor: Cities’ own Richard Florida’s books, such as The Rise of the Creative Class. This theme recurred throughout the center’s surveys and interviews: “This Florida hypothesis was a belief that was taking hold in a lot of cities,” Woronkowicz says, “that if we have cultural amenities, we’ll have better, more creative populations.”

The biggest arts building boom in fact occurred in the South, a potential sign of cities there trying to catch up with the rest of the country. Often, these institutions made the assumption – “if you build it, they will come,” Woronkowicz says – that revenue and bigger crowds would necessarily result from the new buildings. “We saw that everywhere,” she says.

“These projects are very much emotional, they’re projects that have a lot of passion in them,” Woronkowicz says. “A lot of the rationality that goes into running a business sometimes doesn’t go into these projects.”

Arts institutions are also particularly susceptible to the idea that the building itself should be a piece of art (one case study from the research tells the story of a museum in Roanake, Virginia, whose humble plans were sidetracked by the dream of a Bilbao-like architectural landmark). Within this community, Woronkowicz adds, there is often the perception that a successful arts organization must have its own building.

Those organizations that genuinely did need new space (and kept to their budgets, with consistent leadership and community input) tended to fare the best. As for the others that got into trouble, the researchers document a formula. The operating expenses of the new facilities wound up being higher than anyone anticipated. The revenues turned out to be lower. Then to bridge that gap, institutions began to cut programs, then their hours of operation, and sometimes even days of the week, and eventually their staff.

The recession surely played a role in this process. Plenty of arts centers and museums that were planned in good times later opened their doors to an approaching recession. But the lesson here, Woronkowicz says, is not that all these institutions suffered from poor economic timing beyond their control.

The authors of the report are all self-described arts lovers themselves, and so they’re not out to discourage cultural institutions from ever building anything new again. But Woronkowicz says these findings may suggest organizations over-invested in bricks and mortar when they might have been wiser to spend on programming. The report also suggests we may need to change the way we think about what it means to have a “healthy” arts sector.

“This has been coming up in a lot of discussions about ‘what is health?’ Is health growth? Or is health quantity?” Woronkowicz asks. “And that doesn’t seem to be the case for the cultural sector. We’ve seen a big expansion in the cultural sector in terms of organizations and facilities. Is that necessarily healthy? I don’t think so.”

—– 00 —–
In Front of Our Faces
Notice how the article points out the obvious, which, because it’s in front of our faces, needs to be highlighted. Even in communities with a growing population and rising education rates had trouble.
Pittsfield was and is a town where the population, once nearly 60,000, now flirts with 40,000. Education rates … well, we won’t even get into that. Let’s just say the Pittsfield Public Schools are on the blue side of down.
The “short-term thinking” the article mentions, though, can be found in ample supply in Pittsfield. Arts projects, as the report says, tend to be “emotional,” driven by the passion of a few believers rather than the practicalities of the free market. That’s all well and good if someone is willing to use his own money or borrowed private capital to build the next performance space. Viva capitalism! When your talking about the dough of Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski, however, cities can’t afford to be reckless or fall prey to emotional pitches to pry loose millions of the public’s dollars.
For example, the Colonial Theater came in at 10 times the original cost estimate for refurbishing ($2.8 million versus $30 million). The subsequent administrative upheavals there and the spotty programming followed the formula mentioned in the article: Expenses were higher than anticipated, revenues lower, programs were cut (the Colonial at first iteration was supposed to have a resident theater headed by James Warwick), hours were reduced, and staff let go. The jury is out on whether the partnership with the Berkshire Theater Festival will prevent what may soon be the inevitable push for taxpayer subsidies. THE PLANET must say that if anyone can make the Colonial profitable, it will be the BTF’s Kate Maguire.
Meanwhile, Pittsfield fails to do what other communities (for instance, Syracuse, N.Y., Burlington, Vt., Schenectady, N.Y., and Newburyport, Mass.) have done or are doing, which is to reinvent themselves along lines consistent with their history, demographics, and strengths. One of Pittsfield’s strengths used to be a quality work force. That has disappeared. Until the city can address that issue, and as long as its politicians keep thinking short term, Pittsfield will continue its march to irrelevancy and, most likely, insolvency.
Perhaps that is the dominant clue. The city of Pittsfield needs to get serious about education. The recent Keystone Kops adventures of the Pittsfield Public Schools in losing a superintendent and trying to find a replacement suggest that hasn’t happened yet. THE PLANET hears from too many inside the system — students, parents, teachers, and administrators — that the PPS is first about politics. Education will have to wait its turn.
The hiring of the next superintendent will provide a major indication as to whether the city is serious about its future. Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski are deadly serious. Question is: Will Pittsfield begin to listen to them?
————————————————————————-
THIS  WEEKEND, ELECTED SILENCE WILL SING TO US AND WHISPER SOOTHINGLY INTO OUR EARS. IT WILL PIPE US TO GREEN PASTURES AND REMAIN THE MUSIC THAT WE CARE TO HEAR. HAVE A GREAT ONE!
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.

 

This article

68 Responses to “SHORT-TERM THINKING, OVER-ESTIMATING DEMAND, UNDERESTIMATING COSTS PRODUCE ARTS GLUT … WILL IT SPELL DOOM FOR PITTSFIELD? … plus … UNEARTHING AN IMPORTANT CLUE TO THE CITY’S FUTURE”

  1. Shakes His Head
    July 6, 2012 at 8:15 am #

    The rBerkshires depend on Arts and Tourism, but communities must have a broader economic perspective, particularly Pittsfield, Lee, Dalton, Adams, and North Adams because of workforce characteristics. Do not discount the burden that Massacusetts’ lack of a residency requirement for many services places on these communities.

  2. Freedom
    July 6, 2012 at 8:46 am #

    Dan,
    Best of luck Monday! Please be sure to report the results. What time is the hearing?

    • danvalenti
      July 6, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

      THe hearing is at 10 a.m. We shall be there in defense of the First Amendment.

      • Joe Blow
        July 6, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

        Is the hearing open to the public.

        • danvalenti
          July 6, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

          Yes. You’re welcome to attend.

          • Ed Shepardson
            July 7, 2012 at 5:42 am #

            I sent “the story” to the New England Press Association. They have provided a link in their bulletin.

            http://www.nenpa.com/

      • Richard
        July 8, 2012 at 8:00 am #

        You have my suport Dan.

        • danvalenti
          July 8, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

          Thanks, Richard.

  3. Spectator
    July 6, 2012 at 9:35 am #

    I worked for a very prosperous arts organization based in Pittsfield for close to 10 years. That organization NEVER ONCE, while I was working there, serviced the local community due to the staggering lack of a market in Pittsfield proper for the “Arts.” Local political croynism didn’t help either, where those controlling the “scene” were more interested in protecting their personal interests, and agendas, than offering a little bit of diversity up to the community.

    It is obvious that those making the decision to use “Arts,” as a building block for economic development had/have zero experience with the “business” of Cultural Arts.

    Pittsfield will never succeed at this endeavor when the tourism dollars that it so covets can more safely, and comfortably, be spent just a short drive away, at BTF, Tanglewood, Jacobs Pillow, Mahawie, and Infiniti Music Hall in Norfolk CT etc. It’s just never going to happen. The encumbering stigma of a land of desolation, and desperation, that Pittsfield developed over the decades by welcoming the part of society who does not value “quality of life” we so dearly cling to as residents of the Berkshires, is finally reaching a fever pitch. Clean up the community first, and then start rebuilding. The Band-Aid remedy clearly is not working, as crime, violence, municipal corruption in Pittsfield continues to rise at an alarming rate.

    If the City of Pittsfield wishes to have any chance of economic and social revitalization, money should be spent on finding a way to create a value export. Pittsfield cannot thrive on it’s own as it’s leaders seem to think it can. Pittsfield needs to find a real “value proposition” to offer to society, or it will remain in it’s stagnant, degenerating state for a long time to come.

    • danvalenti
      July 6, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

      SPEC
      Excellent points. In Pittsfield, we are now seeing the fruition of all those years of neglect, of bad decisions, of political corruption, or cronyism, or turf wars. The try to force fit The Arts, Nothing but The Arts, and Only the Arts onto a crumbling social structure will not help the situation but only make it worse. As you say, this “culture of death” subpopulation must be cleaned up before anything can happen. until then, companies looking to expand or relocate will not give the city the time of day.

    • dusty
      July 7, 2012 at 1:49 am #

      I have often wondered if these “artsy” folk are really “artsy” folk. Given that Rubertos Colonial theater project went from a projected 2.8 million dollar project to an almost 30 million dollar project suggests to me that, either the original planners were complete idiots, or foxes looking to cash in on a scam they referred to as “saving Pittsfield with culture.”

      Seriously, how can you be that far off?

  4. Scott
    July 6, 2012 at 11:45 am #

    “you think downtown wouldn’t benefit from having 2,000 students, faculty, and administrators there every day?”

    Of course it would for the service jobs you despise it wold be wonderful bagels too could expand.

    • danvalenti
      July 6, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

      The infusion of a college’s students, faculty, and staff will be a vital adjunct to a healthy economy.

  5. Scott
    July 6, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    I wonder if these art districts have the same or worse crime as Pittsfields, it seems they would.

  6. Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
    July 6, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    No reference to the Lenoxologists as a Cultural Arts Hub DV?

    • danvalenti
      July 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

      HILLY
      That’s coming!

  7. tito
    July 6, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    I’m sure the Planet will be lawered up,who is the lucky barrister, Cigarette Johnny?

    • Ed Shepardson
      July 6, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

      Tito,
      Help me out. I only read the Eagle online. Was it the ad with TFB endorsing the Eagle?

  8. tito
    July 6, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    Planetarians, check out the back page of Thursday’s Berkshire Eagle sports section……you can’t make it up.

  9. Pat
    July 6, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    I find the whole situation in Pittsfield to be extremely ironic. First of all, Pittsfield encourages the so-called unsavory people to locate here due to the extremely progressive policies of this City and of this State, but then gets uncomfortable when this same population of people wants to mingle with the class of people that the promoters of artistic events hope to have come to their events. Does everybody see how here in Pittsfield we have created a very ironic and sad situation indeed?

    I feel bad for the people who are being encouraged to come here because our progressive policies throw out this safety net for these people, but when they act up as they inevitably will, seeing as how there is little for them here in the way of jobs or even things that they can afford in this area except for substance abuse addictions and rowdy behavior. This is not to make an excuse for crime and violence and these people obviously have to ultimately take responsibility for their actions and try to become functioning members of society, but does this artist based economy actually help them in this endeavor?

    We have created a tale of two cities within one city right here in Pittsfield. We have the artists and their promoters who want their artsy events where they can mingle with the upper class patrons of the arts and not be disturbed by the lower class antics of those that the progressive policies of this city have encouraged to come here. You can’t have it both ways.

    A smarter solution for this City would have been to have a balance of people that we can actually help by bringing them here and finding them work, but that is not possible in an artist based economy. How can they overcome their addictions and other issues unless this city can actually help them to do so? This raises issues of co-dependency on the part of the city as it relates to this population of people. Many of these people would have been better served in an area where they could reasonably make a living for themselves and have some hope for the future.

    That won’t happen here in Pittsfield, however, where the ultimate hypocrisy is that the political ideology that brought these people here is not co-existing comfortably with the cultural atmosphere that the city wants to be promote.

    • danvalenti
      July 6, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

      PAT
      Excellent post, well thought out. This “tale of two cities” has been in the making since the attempt to sneak in the Civic Authority back in 2001. The mechanisms that allowed this attempted legislation were constructed in the 15-20 years prior to that.

    • Scott
      July 6, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

      excellent Pat it’s like spitting on the guy shinning your shoes.

  10. tito
    July 6, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

    @Ed, yes, you got it.

  11. tito
    July 6, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

    Thank you for the compliment, appreciate it!

  12. Giacometti
    July 7, 2012 at 2:25 am #

    In the development of a cultural community the one thing that the Ruberto Administration failed to do was to follow up on a Community Cultural Plan for the City of Pittsfield that was set up prior to his administration. His administration fully developed the facilities without planning on who would actually use these facilities. A Cultural Plan blends the entire community together to be a part of the creative economy. He was elitist in his approach of using public monies to develop the arts here in Pittsfield. Prior to his administration policies were set up to make sure that all segments of the community could share in the arts. To this day if a family is interested in attending an art exhibit or theatrical performance in any art museum or theater in Berkshire County they can pick up a free pass for the entire family at the library reference desk and check it out the same as they would a library book. This free pass can only be used by one family at a time and must be returned to the Public Library after the family or individual is using it. This is a program that has been running year round for over twenty years and was set up to create a system of true economic accessibility by the writers of a Cultural Plan that was suppose to be followed by the Ruberto Administration but was ignored. This program is just one program that makes up a Community Cultural Plan. I’m sure very few members of the community even knows it exists. A Community Cultural Plan is good for a community if it is fully developed.

    • Dave
      July 7, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

      I call it the “Joe Nichols running for Mayor syndrome”. Joe was told by hundreds of people that he met that he should run for mayor after his first stint as councillor. Unfortunately it was hundreds of people who sought him out and would vote for him, and not even close to the thousands needed to actually win the majority, which was more than confirmed by his poor showing in the polls. Mayor Ruberto was surrounded by the artsy clique who convinced him that investment in the arts was the way to go. It definately worked out for the heads of all these organizations that, from what I remember the Gazette published,
      each make upwards of 100k per year, but was it worth the money invested.

  13. Gene
    July 7, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    We’ve used that library pass to get into the Clark Museum, Mass Moca, the Berkshire Museum, and a lot of other places. It’s a great community assett but I agree with Giacometti about how the arts under Ruberto became elitist. They are still that way in Pittsfield. Theres that divide that DV wrote about, the have and have nots, a tale of two cities acttually three, the few wealthy, the many poor and takers that receive all the aid, and the middle class thats just getting killed .

  14. gEE Whiz
    July 7, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

    The “Joe Nichols Running for mayor Syndrome” that’s funny, Dave. Might be accurate too. Wonder who will step up to challenge Bianchi. they’ve got to feel he’s vulnerable, since he barely won in 2011. All the arts comments are accurate. No market in Pittsfield for Pittsfield residents.

    • dusty
      July 7, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

      Early money is on Krol. He is the shining star of the GOB and as pliable as they need him to be. Give him some power and he will follow orders. He is already campaigning without saying he is.

      • Still wondering
        July 9, 2012 at 6:12 am #

        There is no more obvious thing in Pittsfield than JK wanting to be mayor. He probably will be too. Unfortunately, I have not seen anything original from him in the years he’s been around. He’s a lump of playdoh for the GOB’s.

    • Ed
      July 8, 2012 at 4:02 am #

      gW; Very insightful. Bianchi is very vulnerable.He seemingly is a nice guy, reluctant to make changes, hence, he manages an administration forged and loyal to previous mayors and their inner circle.Things remain virtually the same from city hall, dept. heads, peda, to John Barrett and Deanna Ruffer (contract not withstanding).His appointments are superficial in many respects and he exerts little intimidation or commands little respect from opposing city councilors.Many of his campaign promises that remain on facebook, have not been addressed. I was told by an individual yesterday who sitting near me in a local eatery that the voters wanted change but didn’t get it and that although he was a tireless campaign worker for Bianchi’ this was over, Many of his supporters are seeking a more aggressive public executive and will not repeat their campaign efforts. Right or wrong, perception is reality and the door is opening wide, Mr. Krol.

      • dusty
        July 8, 2012 at 7:19 am #

        That is kind of the way I see it, that he is a unwilling figurehead for the majority GOB. They are still getting pretty much what they want, blowing through taxpayer money without abatement. I am sure prying these embedded soldiers out of their candy store is no easy task but I want to believe he is strong enough to do it. He still has a lot of people behind him, but I am disappointed that some of the old appointed cronies were allowed to remain as they were a good size part of the citizen disenchantment. And that was the place to start because it would have at least weakened the core power.

  15. Sheriff Dawg
    July 7, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    Krol lost his job at Sweetwood a few months ago. He’s bounced around quite a bit of late. That would make him desireable to the GOB because he’ll need the gig. It will get the Ruberto gang back in. Does it ever stop in this lost town?

  16. rick
    July 8, 2012 at 4:07 am #

    if bianchi can sweep up robertos mess of 8yrs, i cant see anyone running against him….. what we need are people who cant be influenced in local politics…. they are tough to find but they are out there. if you all payed attention to the vote counts and where they come from you can see where this city is run…i will vote for anyone who says they are not involved with the gob network… about the arts…. tanglewood is in a panic with b.s.o. attendance waning as the true blue concert goers get older and cant attend, more and more pop shows will pick up the slack.. younger people arent supporting the arts and with out their money picking up the loss of revenue guess whos money will, thats right the taxpayers….. and that goes for north street arts also.

  17. Taxi Squad
    July 8, 2012 at 9:44 am #

    Interesting discussion. I don’t know much about Pittsfield politics, but I will not go to the city any longer. We saw “Fiddler” with friends the other night. Coming out of the theater and walking to our parking (little before midnight) we were followed by a bunch of kids, looked like teens, and they were making threatening remarks. I told my wife and friends never again. As for the arts it’s true. The seniors that make up most of the audiences (like us) are not being replaced. The young people aren’t interested.

    • Scott
      July 8, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

      Taxi Squad that’s very unfortunate and I feel bad that you came here to spend money and enjoy a night out and did not feel safe. That really stinks but at the same time you may want to consider a plan of action in the event that you do encounter more then just talk. It’s a dangerous world out there be safe!

      • danvalenti
        July 8, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

        TAXI
        I share Scott’s sentiments. You spent, what, $200 on tickets, only to be hassled. Your experience, in essence, has come to characterize the public safety situation in what was once an ideal city.

  18. Giacometti
    July 8, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

    Whoever Mayor Bianchi appointed to a position in City Hall he did the honorable thing and had the City Council confirm each appointment, not what Ruberto did and thus controlled everyone because without confirmation people had no security in their jobs.
    In the end Bianchi is not the control freak that Ruberto was.

    • levitan
      July 9, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

      You are addressing folk who are up to their eyeballs in GOB’s to the extent that they can’t distinguish between anyone in City hall.

  19. CONCERNED
    July 8, 2012 at 7:10 pm #

    Hear these stories all the time about the punks taking over the street. What the hell is our Chief and the Mayor doing about it, NOTHING at all. I never see a cop on North St. except during the day doing traffic. The Mayor the Chief and Capts, Lt. etc. should all be walking around these street and see what is going on. It is getting to be a shame, and the blame is with the Mayor and a Chief who has ne clue what to do. Pittsfield better wake up and take the streets back. Wouldn’t hurt to see the Council, Dept. heads and all are officials getting out on the streets to show they are behind the Police and for the Police to start cleaning up the streets

    • danvalenti
      July 8, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

      CONCERNED
      It’s as you say. The police — both the brass and the officers — should be out there, downtown. I like your suggestion about the council. They need to get involved. Having been to many other downtowns, the situation in Pittsfield is eerie: not a cop in sight except for day shift traffic. Strange — and dangerous.

      • levitan
        July 9, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

        I definitely agree with that point, DV. Why aren’t there police walking the streets?

  20. Jonathan Melle
    July 8, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

    Pittsfield’s economy stinks!

  21. Molly
    July 9, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    DV – how did you make out in court this morning?

  22. Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
    July 9, 2012 at 11:05 am #

    Anyone know what happened Uptown today in the WInesap Resident who can’t tell a man from a deer vs. the 1st Ammendment showdown???

    • Spectator
      July 9, 2012 at 11:21 am #

      I think that whether your post remains or gets pulled will tell us before any public announcement gets made.

    • joe blow
      July 9, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

      thought we would know what happend by now

  23. Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
    July 9, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    Exactly..

  24. Ron Kitterman
    July 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    Dan is waiting for computer time from Pudgie’s crowbar hotel.

  25. Ed Shepardson
    July 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    Judge vacated the order.

  26. Susan Moore
    July 9, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    Congratulations Dan!!! It appears that there is some justice in Pittsfield. You did nothing wrong. Here in FL there is a law regarding malicious prosecution, do you having anything like that up there?
    Here’s to Aunt Millie’s windows remaining open :-)

  27. Susan Moore
    July 9, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    Congratulations Dan!!! It appears that there is some justice in Pittsfield. You did nothing wrong. Here in FL there is a law regarding malicious prosecution, do you having anything like that up there?
    Here’s to Aunt Millie’s windows remaining open :-)

  28. Susan Moore
    July 9, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    Congratulations Dan!!! It appears that there is some justice in Pittsfield. You did nothing wrong. Here in FL there is a law regarding malicious prosecution, do you having anything like that up there?
    Here’s to Aunt Millie’s windows remaining open :-)

  29. Susan Moore
    July 9, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    Congratulations Dan!!! It appears that there is some justice in Pittsfield. You did nothing wrong. Here in FL there is a law regarding malicious prosecution, do you having anything like that up there?
    Here’s to Aunt Millie’s windows remaining open :-)

  30. Susan Moore
    July 9, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    Congratulations Dan!!! It appears that there is some justice in Pittsfield. You did nothing wrong. Here in FL there is a law regarding malicious prosecution, do you having anything like that up there?
    Here’s to Aunt Millie’s windows remaining open :-)

    • Molly
      July 9, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

      Does your keyboard have sticky keys? ;-)

  31. Alice
    July 9, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    Congratulations Dan, never should have gone this far

  32. Alice
    July 9, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    Congratulations Dan, never should have happened

  33. Alice
    July 9, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    Congratulations Dan, never should have happened

  34. Blind Justice
    July 9, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    Dan,

    Can you sue Judges in Ma for civil rights violations?

  35. Susan Moore
    July 9, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    Looks like a computer malfunction or something as both Alice and my comment got posted multiple times!

  36. Spectator
    July 9, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    Funny how the BB won’t name the planet, but just Dan. Guess they don’t want to make it *that* easy for their readers to migrate to some higher quality journalism.

    • skier1
      July 9, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

      and telling the TRUTH and not being bought off. If I didn’t have to work today I would’ve been outside with signs and recruited friends. Hopefully there won’t be a next time. Good work Dan!

  37. tito
    July 9, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

    Dan, what do you want me to do with the vino, books, magazines, salami and cigarettes.
    ?

    Dan, what do you want me to do with the salami,wine,magazines and cigarettes?

  38. tito
    July 9, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

    ……and Nylons?

  39. levitan
    July 9, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

    Great news, Dan!

    You proved the Eagle incorrect in their opinion that First Admendment exercise should be limited to non-controversial topics so as not to encourage judges to curtail speech.

  40. Scott
    July 9, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

    Keep exposing people Dan, in all actuality this situation made people talk even more it totally back fired. We know there’s child sexual abuse cover up’s, patronage and other political corruption in Pittsfield it’s only a matter of time before it all comes out.

  41. Tim
    July 9, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    Dan
    What is your source that the Pitts has the highest number of group homes statewide? And how do you define that?
    As far as your more traditional group home for minors, there are only 5 in the city, serving approx 95% or more Berkshire county residents, as opposed to satewide outcasts that you claim.
    If you are including places like hilcrest ed, those kids largely stay at the school or on supervised outings, and out of town famlies only come for short visits and arent causing trouble, certainly not relocating to live here and draining our local tax dollars (state taxes of course though).
    If you are also including the developmentally disabled, yes there are quite a few services around, but again, by and large not problematic. There are a handful of homes for adults in transition etc, but generally locals.
    If you are counting foster homes, again overwhelmingly local kids. In fact we probably ship out more to springfield area than we take in from outside. Do the local kids in foster homes cause problems in the 2 neighborhoods and north st, yes. The solution is much more than increasing police presence.
    Either way, id like to see more proof to your statement that the city gets money as payment for accepting these populations from outside the county. There is money going direct to the agencies dealing with these populations of course.