KRATKA ON HOT SEAT TONIGHT AT PITTSFIELD SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING … LENOX CONTINUES TO SPIT UP ON THE BED; THIS TIME, ALLEGED OPEN MEETING VIOLATIONS ARE THE ISSUE … plus … ‘LENOXOLOGY’ ENDS IN WITH A WHIMPER, NOT A BANG, BUT TOWN IS $100Gs LIGHTER FOR IT
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, AUG. 22, 2012) — First items first. Tonight, beginning at 6 p.m., the Pittsfield School Committee meets. One the agenda is an appearance by WTBR mananger Larry Kratka. The meeting will be conducted in city council chambers.
Kratka is being hauled in based on the actions of several months ago, where he threw ex-WBRK talkmeister Bill Sturgeon under the bus over what he called heavy political pressure from outside heavies, who, Kratka claimed, were “terrified” of Sturgeon getting a show. Kratka refused to identify the political thugs he claims gave him no choice but to betray a friend and colleague. THE PLANET is wondering if there were any outside bogeymen, or if Kratka invented to story to advance his own private agenda. That would explain his refusal to name names — if there weren’t any names.
This is the Business of Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski
If were were taking about a privately owned station, none of this would be of concern to Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski. WTBR, however, runs on taxpayer money. Kratka himself receives a stipend paid for with public funds. The studio is problematically located inside of Taconic High School. All of this makes it a taxpayer matter.
Kratka didn’t seem to grasp the enormity of his admission, which, basically, is that the operation of the station is not on the level. Until he comes clean, a cloud of suspicion will hang over every aspect of the station’s operation.
The school committee has the obligation to:
(a) Ask Kratka point-blank to reveal the source of the pressure and
(b) Insist on an answer.
If he refuses, there is only one correct option: Pull the plug immediately on his stipend and suspend operations at WTBR until, and only if, a qualified replacement can be found. That would be the time to take a look at all of the programming and to determine is there is enough student interest to justify having the station at all.
Kratka Has No One to Blame but Himself
This is all Kratka’s doing, assuming he is telling the truth about outside pressure. He could have done what any respectable journalist would do, which is to tell the person or persons squeezing him to perform an anatomical impossibility on him- or herself (or selves). If he refuses to name names, it will strongly suggest he has been lying about the pressure and that he, for reasons known to him alone, had personal motives in getting rid of Sturgeon.
It should be an interesting show tonight.
LENOX CONTINUES TO MESS THING UP BIG TIME
What’s is happening to the once model-town of Lenox? Lately, the town can’t stop tripping over its own clown’s feet.
THE PLANET shares the take of Berkshire Beacon editor George Jordan III, the Lenox Board of Selectmen, and the Kennedy Park Committee. Jordan had filed a complaint with the state attorney general, alleging the selectman and the committee violated the open meeting law. Jordan alleged the bodies “failed to post notices of their respective meetings and their respective agendas with reference to the Belvedere that was ultimately built in Kennedy Park.” Moreover, Jordan alleged, they “each failed to publish a legal notice in a newspaper of the said hearings.”
Barney Fife Syndrome an Epidemic in Official Lenox
Too often, as we’ve seen in the city of Pittsfield, boards, councils, and committees get the Barney Fife Bug. Instead of having a proper perspective on their offices, they often possess an inflated view of their own imagined importance and power. Instead of realizing that they serve in the backwaters of Podunk, they behave as if they are dealing with State Secrets and affecting matters of global concern. These two-bit tin horns give local government a bad name, and they cause responsible journalists such as Jordan to administer the medicine.
“There appeared to be a tacit attempt to deny the public from participating in the discussion” over Kennedy Park,” Jordan wrote in a front-page editorial in the Aug. 16 edition of the newspaper. “There was no effort to publicize their respective hearings either by the proponent or his clerk of the works, Robert T. Akroyd of Lenox.”
Capeless Not Interested in Violations of the Law
Unfortunately, Jordan’s complain got caught between shift changes over administering of the open meeting law. On July 1, 2012, the AG’s office took over the job of enforcing compliance. Prior to that date, the local district attorneys — in the Berkshires, the office of David Capeless — were expected to enforce the rules when it came to local and regional commissions, boards, councils, and the like.
The move seemed like a good one in Berkshire County since Capeless, as we know, has routinely looked the other way when it comes to violations of the open meeting law. Capeless’ ineptitude on this matter has maybe as much as any other single issue been responsible for the widely held view that he a pawn of the local Status Quo, a D.A. more interested in protecting the hides of his powerful friends in the GOB than standing as the top law enforcement official representing We The People. His actions of omission in the infamous Triple Murder case, the Angelo Stracuzzi Follies, and the Meredith Nilan-Peter Moore case only fueled that perception.
As Jordan pointed out in his editorial, “[Capeless] ignored prior complains.” At least the AG’s office acknowledged his objection, Jordan said,”but [it] found a convenient way not to hold members of the board of selectman or the park committee in violation.”
That is unfortunate, because every time the enforcing agency, be it the district attorney or the AG, ignores an allegation claiming that We The People were shut out from participating in running their government, it emboldens the Barney Fife‘s of public life to continue to ill-judged and impolitic procedure.
THE PLANET applauds The Beacon and Jordan for their effort. It has raspberries for the AG and the D.A.
Open Meeting Educational Session Planned for Sept. 12 or Lip Service at its Finest
Incidentally and ironically, the AG’s office will conduct four educational sessions on the open meeting law throughout the state. One of scheduled for Lenox on Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. THE PLANET wonders if the Lenox selectman will put a sign in front of the entrance saying: “Public Not Allowed. This Mean You!!”
Official Lenox allowed mindless development, particularly of condos; created the ugliest strip mall this side of the Pecos, and has found itself in a disconnect with the town’s citizens. It fell under the spell of tourism and the recreationists, who had what discretionary income there was to be had since 2008, and in the process of catering to them, lost its soul.
We give you the epitaph, straight from the mouth of selectman John McNinch: “The truth is people think it is impossible to get anything done here.”
Here, here, Mr. M.
‘LENOXOLOGY’ PUT OUT OF ITS MISERY, BUT ONLY AFTER COSTING LENOX TAXPAYERS $100,000
Speaking of Lenox, the Millionaires have finally pulled the plug on “Lenoxology.” You remember the town paid more than $100Gs, most of it to The Big New York City Agency to develop a marketing campaign that would get the town out of its doldrums. It went with The Big New York City Agency for reasons that still strike one as mysterious, especially after passing up any number of competent local agencies.
The BNYCA snickered into town, likely assigned its junior staffers to the job, and came up with “Lenoxology,” a term justly derided from the start. Town officials got on the defensive over their stupid decision, and they couldn’t admit their blunder. Basically, they couldn’t give “Lenoxology” away. To the bitter end, the Lenox marketing and events committee wanted to go down with the ship on Lenoxology, but more rational heads prevailed. The selectman were so embarrassed by Lenoxology that they even refused an offer to purchase the bum term. That offer came from Eiran Gaizit of The Gateways Inn.
“If [he] likes ‘Lenoxology,’ [he can] use it,” said one town official.
“I’ve lost interest, Gaizit replied.
One of “Lenoxology’s” biggest fans, Realtor Bob Romeo, a member of the marketing and events committee, said, “The town has spent probably $100,000 on [“Lenoxology”] so far and [has] now abandoned it.”
Such is life in toney Podunk.
THE PLANET thanks The Berkshire Beacon for providing the quotes to this story.
THERE’S MORE TO COME LATER TODAY, SO KEEP CHECKING IN. THE PLANET IS WORKING ON SEVERAL STORIES THAT WE THE PEOPLE WILL FIND OF INTEREST.
HOMER’s HYMN TO MERCURY, FOR THOSE UNSKILLED IN ITS SWEET TONGUE, COULD TELL NO BETTER A TALE THAN THE ONE TOLD HERE, IN ALL THE BERKSHIRES’ PASTORAL HILLS.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.