HARRIS, PIGNATELLI, PHILLIPS DEBATE REGISTER’S OFFICE TONIGHT, 7 P.M., AT BCC … QUICK HITS AND HOT LICKS EXAMINES MAYOR-COUNCIL RIFT, KRATKAGATE, AND A FOOTBAWLER’s FAILURE … plus … ‘TOO BIG TO FAIL’ DID A NUMBER OF AMERICA, AND, IN A MICRO SENSE, ON PITTSFIELD …
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, AUG. 27, 2012) — At 7 p.m. Tonight in the small theater, K-111, at BCC, and important debate takes place. The three candidates for Middle Berkshire County register of deeds — Patsy Harris, Scott Pignatelli, and Jody Phillips — square off.
The race is unusual in that it has drawn three legitimate candidates. Two — Phillips and Pignatelli — have strong candidacies strictly based on their ties to the GOB. Only Patsy Harris brings to the campaign a working knowledge of the register’s office. She should have that. She’s worked in the office for 11 years.
Only Pasty Harris can say “been there, done that.”
Not Your Typical Year, and So the Register’s Race is Getting a Lot of Attention
The register’s race typically doesn’t get a lot of attention, but this is not a typical year. The current register, Andrea Nuciforo, gave up the post (and some say, the ghost) to run for Congress. The race looked a lot different a couple years ago, when it became known that incumbent 1st District U.S. Rep. John Olver (D-Amherst) would not seek re-election.
The wide open seat proved irresistible for Nuciforo, who bounced from the state senate, to register, and — according to his plan — wanted to ride that comet straight to Capitol Hill. Redistricting, however, put a crimp in those plans. Instead of running for an open seat, Nuciforo faces a challenger much more formidable that Olver or an empty seat. Congressman Richie Neal is a two-decade veteran of the U.S. House of Representatives, holds an important committee assignment, and is well funded, well organized, and well known. Nuciforo made a long shot even tougher when the third man in the Democratic primary (Sept. 6), Bill Shein, uncovered apparent plagiarism on Nuciforo’s website.
When Nuciforo made it clear he was stepping down, it set into motions delusions of grandeur in the Phillips camp.
Phillips, you recall, quit her post as city clerk when the greener grass of General Dynamics came into view. Now, after a few years in the Dreaded Private Sector, she and her people (including her live-in boyfriend, acting Pittsfield fire chief Bob Czerwinski) told her: “It’s yours. $90 grand a year, huge benefits, and little work. No one can match you. You have a lot of friends. We will see that you get in.” That’s pretty much the scenario according to a source who was once part of her campaign but who left.
We can imagine a similar sort of thing going on with Pignatelli. He’s the son of the legendary Big Jawn and the brother of 4th District state rep Smitty. There’s money, there’s organization, and there’s the last name that always looks good on a lawn sign.
Pignatelli said in a recent radio interview that he will continue as the head of the Pignatelli electrical contracting business and serve as registrar. This tells a reasonable person that he will show in the register’s office up to collect his paycheck, maybe play a few games on the office computer, sign a few papers, and head to his business … or the golf course.
Pignatelli says he will be a full-time register. It’s hard to envision the scenario if he intends to stay fully involved in the family business.
Harris: The Only One Who Knows the Job
Harris was the last to declare her candidacy, and we can see the faces of Phillips and Pignatelli growing long when they found out. They didn’t expect a qualified opponent. Phillips and Pignatelli are politicians. Harris is not. Phillips and Pignatelli works rooms. Harris just plain works. Phillips and Pignatelli haven’t the foggiest on the working details of the office. Harris does, to a level of expertise. Phillips and Pignatelli are counting on friends in the right places to pull strings. Harris is counting on the intelligence of the electorate.
If ever Pittsfield (and middle county) has an election where We The People can repudiate the GOB and their mobbed up and made friends, it’s this race. A vote for Patsy Harris is way more than a vote for register. It’s a vote where voters can send a loud message” “We’re made as hell, and we want some honesty in government for a change.” Granted, in terms of practical influence, not much will change, but a Harris win could signal seismic rumblings for the 2013 municipal campaign.
There is a lot more to say about this race, and THE PLANET — and only THE PLANET — will dare to say it. Tomorrow, we shall has some thoughts on tonight’s debate.
Tonight’s debate is sponsored by The Pittsfield Gazette. Bill Sturgeon will moderate.
QUICK HITS AND HOT LICKS
GANG OF THREE — THE PLANET has received numerous comments and requests for comment on the interesting development in corner office-council relations. At-large councilor Barry Clairmont, Ward 6’s John Krol, and Ward 5’s Jonathan Lothrop have come out with both barrels firing, aimed at mayor Dan Bianchi.
We have some snooping to do on this one, and so we won’t say too much.
Dancing Barry, JK, and J-Lo have called the mayor a liar over the $100,000 paid out to settle with Spectrum Health Services. They claim the mayor lied about the money in the FY13 budget. The mayor has vigorously disputed that. He points to the council approval of that budget in late June, after our Right honorable Good Friends on that body were informed of the purpose of the money. They both can’t be telling the truth. THE PLANET will be checking in on this case, which smacks of pure politics. Is that perception correct? We shall be reporting back on that.
WARREN REPORT — THE PLANET received an interesting post on Kratkagate and his attempted assassination of Bill Sturgeon. Brian Marquis wrote:
|The first name to pop into my frontal lobe, in the Kratkagate scandal, would be none other than the notorious Kenneth G. Warren, Jr. Mr. Warren is know for his vicious and unprovoked attacks on those who threaten the vitality of the GOBers’ promise land! He is the unspoken gatekeeper to a mindless mindset of mushy minds! (and besides, he’s Mr. Kratka’s brother-in-law)|
We had not heard this theory, we replied, though it would seem to fit all the facts of the case. THE PLANET invites Ken Warren and/or Larry Kratka to comment. When the phone doesn’t ring, we’ll know it’s them, on a conference call.
THE PLANET’s main memory of Warren is when he was a gas-pump jockey at the filling station on the corner of East and Lyman streets, living proof of the Peter Principal. Kratka, as most of you know, has refused repeated attempts by THE PLANET to tell us his side of the case. Must be his side is a tad embarrassing, or maybe he doesn’t have a side.
We will go on the air with him any time, anywhere, to discuss this matter, live. Yes, that is a challenge.
SHE DOESN’T HAVE THE NECESSITIES — (From Yahoo! Sports): The former LSU women’s soccer player took another stab at becoming one of the Tigers’ kickers, but fell short. She also tried out in the spring, didn’t make the roster, but was encouraged to get better during the summer and come back out in the fall.
At the time, coach Les Miles said he had four kickers on the team that were going to be tough to supplant and noted that her physical limitations would be difficult to overcome.
“She’s a great person, but there’s some things she can’t do and she knows it,” Miles said in the spring. “We go to kicking off into the corner, we count on our kicker making some tackles and it’s just not something I’m comfortable she’s ready to do. It’s one of those spots you really can’t put a person that cannot tackle.”
The girl’s name is Mo Isam. She thinks soccer and football are the same. We remind her than in football, you can use your hands.
Her tryout is the sort of nonsense Title IX has allowed.
Title IX, or some remedy for giving women a chance at playing school sports, was certainly needed, but like most other attempts at social engineering, it has been taken to radical extremes.
Isam had no chance of making the team. Instead of telling her in the spring, with no invitation back, Miles had to humor the applicant. Or what are lawsuits for?
THE PARADIGM OF PERPETUAL GROWTH
“Too big to fail.” Where have we heard that before?
All this year, as in the many before it, citizens of Pittsfield have been hearing the mantra that we might call, “the paradigm of perpetual growth.” That phrase comes from a highly recommended book, Too Much Magic by James Kuntsler.
The Little Economic Engine that Couldn’t
In context, we refer to practically every civic project — initiated in the names and wallets of Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski. Such projects — for example, the downtown face lift, PEDA, the needless airport runway extension, or the opening of any new restaurant or cultural venue ordinary people can’t afford — are called by various names, “economic engines” or “renaissance,” for example. These monikers, which look great on banners but fall busted in application, imply miraculous powers of these mostly foolish expenditures and ventures to initiate economic revival. This is a fiction, of course. Taxpayer money continues to be misspent with all sorts of vague promises of revival that simply never materialize.
Another Piece of Humble PIE
Pittsfield stands as a mini-version of what has happened economically across the nation, except the city makes the situation worse by wave after wave of economic, political, and social dysfunction.
After manufacturing vacated U.S. soil (after GE, Sheaffer-Eaton, Sprague, Beloit Jones, and the woolen and paper mills left the Berkshires) the country (the city) entertained the delusion that we had a “post-industrial economy” (PIE).
Nationally, various “sectors” were forwarded as linchpins of the PIE, including finance (and the ruinous changes that took place in banking after deregulation), housing, construction, information, and service. As Too Much Magic artfully demonstrates, these sectors represented too much mis-invested money “in more stuff with no future.”
Locally, the banks were too small to get into much trouble. Housing took a tumble, especially in Pittsfield. Construction slacked off as a result. Information technology never got going in the city as a “sector.”
“Service,” however, overran Pittsfield like the Ebola virus. The city created a “recreation and resort” economy, one that failed to created jobs with livable wages, jobs designed to serve the function of peasants and serfs of feudal days. Our leaders, meanwhile, boasted in the “arts,” those elite time wasters only people with discretionary incomes can employ, mainly to relive their ennui and boredom.
The economic collapse, led by the rapacious, gullible, and greedy, serves as a case in point. One of the hidden “blessings” of Pittsfield awful economy is that when the economy tanked, the city wasn’t hit as hard. The hits largely had already been absorbed. Nonetheless, people in town lost homes, jobs, and the means of a living.
Little More than Swindles
Investment banks, driven by greed and lack of responsibility in the face of deregulation, began to package mortgages into bundles, backing them with securities and derivatives that turned out to be little more than swindles. Those who offered these investments — which were nothing more than non-performing loans — pawned them off “to hapless investors in every corner of the globe, from pension funds in faraway lands desperate for yield, to the fellow underwriters, the banks themselves” (Too Much Magic).
That’s why the banks, more than anyone else, pressured the White House and Congress for the TARP bill (supported by Paul Ryan, by the way). Those bailouts, which enraged ordinary taxpayers, became the one, true bipartisan “accomplishment” in the Bush-Obama years. The rest has been gridlock. When it comes to reforming health care or any other measure that will bring some relief to ordinary people, the bozos in Washington don’t care. When it comes to bailing out the moneyed plutocrats, suddenly they can get things done.
To think, this country, once known as America, actually existed. So did a city called Pittsfield. Both have become too toxic to succeed.
HERE, AS I WATCH THE CANDIDATES MOVE AROUND, FROM YONDER SHRINE I HEAR A SOUND. “COME, VOTER, COME,” IT SEEMS TO SAY. “YOUR VOTE IS WITH HARRIS. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY.”
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.