PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, AUG. 24, 2012) — THE PLANET gets a kick out of the ponderous lengths of honor rolls at the Pittsfield Middle Schools, where every kid is a genius and the star of his or her own bumper sticker. It has nothing to do with grade inflation, of course, or the fact that the teachers have lost control of the classrooms and, rather than deal with solipcistic parents, they hand out “A”s they way a flier hawker passes out handbills by the penny. Giving out unearned good grades is also a neat way to help in a bid for tenure.

When it comes to the Pittsfield School Committee, the grade story is far different, at least according to one of its members who, to say the least, remains less than impressed with the job the body has done in the first seven months of the year.

Committeeman Terry Kinnas, a fellow known for speaking his mind and bringing a data- and fact-based form of analysis to issues, sent this report to THE PLANET:

“There may have been some grade inflation …’

“This is a summary of my six-month grading of the Pittsfield School Committee, for there may have been some grade inflation in the D- to D+ range,” Kinnas writes.  “The grade was based on

* “The poor superintendent search that was directed by the chairman.



* “The budget process was last minute and did not really evaluate the operational units of the school department.

* The individual schools never presented their individual needs with all the associated costs.

* “Some additional items of concern were/are reorganization of subcommittees, receiving information at the last minute just before the start of the meeting, school department computer problems, etc.

“I have started to present suggestions and proposals before the school committee to correct or improve the overall management process. Briefly, the first proposal gives the entire school committee the right to approve each specific step in the superintendent search process. The second proposal deals with the budget process — that it should be started in September with each operational unit presenting its staffing and associated costs, including benefits, square footage needed, major operational tasks with time and associated cost to each.”

School Committee on Verge of Flunking Out

Kinnas’ grade is a tad higher than THE PLANET’s. Our would be in the F to D- range,  based on a range of factors, including:

* The botched superintendent’s search

* Failure to be transparent on many matters

* A lack of interest based on the dated nature of the school department’s web site.

* A failure to advocate for taxpayers at budget time.

* A failure to reel in an out-of-control budget

* Poor negotiations with the teachers’ union

* Failure to address the problem of slovenly dress and the blatant denial of the dress code by students.

* The pitiful performance when they had Larry Kratka before them.

* The failure to address systemic problems with the administration at specific schools.

* The failure to properly handle the $9,000 theft of prom money in 2011, and a host of other performance issues. All in all, it’s the type of report card kids used to dread bringing home to mom and dad.

The blame lies squarely on each member, of course, in varying degrees, with chairman Alf Barbalunga by virtue of his position needing to shoulder most of the blame.


There has been too much secrecy, too much sloppiness, and too little accountability of the school committee under Barbalunga’s leadership. He has also not yet looked comfortable in his role as chairman. There have been too many instances of straying from form, for instance, the tardiness in putting school committee meeting minutes on the website.

Another case in point: the mysterious disappearance of the minutes from the contentious executive session that gave new deputy superintendent of schools N. Tracy Crowe a pay raise of nearly $15,000, a relocation payment, and other sweeteners. In most other towns, that’s the subject of an investigation with heads on the line. In Pittsfield, it’s business as usual. We yawn, and they spawn — ineptitude.

THE PLANET’s individual grades are as follows:

Barbalunga — F; Yon — D-; Amuso, F; Kinnas: A-; Elias: B; Bianchi — C-; Conant— D-. The collective grade, F to D-, is based on the committee’s failure to achieve consensus as a board to drive tangible progress on the many specific areas we have identified.

THE PLANET finds it more than ironic that a board that handles $90 million of a $130 million municipal budget should face so little scrutiny and accountability. The school committee better wise up, or We The People shall have to take action.

This is not a threat. It is a statement of fact.



Do any of these names have a tired ring to them? Do you feel like it’s deja vu, all over again?

Mike Filpi, Peter Marchetti, David Murphy Jr., Edward LaPointe, “Won’t You Come Home” Bill Barry, Diane Ferraro, Brad Gordon, Arthur Jones, Vicki Kane, Michael McCarthy, Debbie Sadowy.

In the Land of No Accountability, Charter Review Borders on Farce

PETER MARCHETTI: One of the retreads on the Pittsfield Charter Review Commission (iBerkshires photo)

These 11 people, some of them recycled from past Pittsfield debacles, were unanimously approved by my Right Honorable Friends on the City Council to sit on the Charter Review Commission.

The city that can’t plan a one-car funeral without botching it now wants to take on the grand task of reviewing its rules — the city charter. THE PLANET wonders why, since in the past 20 years or so, the rules have largely been ignored. What difference does the charter make? “They” will go ahead and do whatever they want, won’t they?

Let’s assume not. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that (a) there is honest, capable government in Pittsfield and (b) that the charter review is needed and (c) well intended. Let’s also assume that (d) this commission will be able to do what almost no city commission can accomplish, which is to deliberate honestly, openly, and without secret dealings. In other words, no Big Shots will be dictating terms from behind the scenes. GOB keep out! Has the makings of a Pittsfield fairy tale of the “Once upon a time” variety.

The charter review commission, so we are told, will examine the full charter. This certainly means that most of the members won’t read more than two paragraphs of the lengthy document. That’s how it’s done in Pittsfield, at half mast. We are further told in the press release that the commission will seek the public input. That’s what they call a howler. As we know from past experience, the meaning of this enigmatic phrase is that no ideas from the general public will be taken seriously, especially the ones that make sense.

Window Dressing for GOB Rule

Technically, a city charter is a legal document. In Pittsfield, it’s window dressing for GOB rule. We are instructed not to look behind the curtain. There, we see the likes of Peter Marchetti, a man who could have been good if not great, but he did not have the belief in himself. And so he surrounded himself with flunkies by the name of Colleen and such, and he fated himself to irrelevancy and a bloated type of desperate hanging on. We feel sad because it could have been so different for him.

There are several forms of government available to a city, generally divided into three categories: strong mayor-weak council; strong council-weak mayor; and equal division of power. Tell me, Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski, do you trust this group, or any, for that matter, operating in and under the auspices of Pittsfield city government to get this right?

Time and time again, panels and commissions, boards and agencies set up in the name of We The People have failed in their appointed tasks (the examples are numerous, for instance, the school’s committee’s failed search for a superintendent, the amateurish CEDS application, the master plan process … we could go on and on). Why should we expect this one to be any different?

Burghers and Serfs

A diagram of Pittsfield new charter. Note the "taxes" line.

This being Pittsfield, all we’ve heard is the repeated claim, which we shall take as fact, that the last structural look at the charter came back in 1932.

We have yet to see articulated the need, at this time, for a charter review. The city has not made the case. That’s not to say a great case isn’t there, just that Pittsfield has failed to spell out why this, why now, and why them.

THE PLANET is betting that by the time the charter commission gets finished monkeying the with system — having had time to digest the orders being given to it from the smoke-filled back room — Pittsfield will resemble a feudal community of the middle ages, with the GOB “burghers” ruling the uneducated “serfs.” When Pittsfield opens up a new “Burgher King,” you know it will mark the beginning of the end.

Nope. No more benefit of the doubt. From now on, with official Pittsfield, THE PLANET is from Missouri, the “show me” state. Any claim, fatuous or otherwise, that’s made as a statement of fact will draw this reply: “Oh yeah? Show me.” Usually, they can’t.



What does it take for a Pittsfield bar to lose its license?

Philosophers have had easier questions with which to contend. The question becomes even more tangled when the bar in question resides on the lower end of the scuz. The joint has a Giant Germ who serves as doorman, and the granular residue of white powder outlines the bodies on the floor. We speak of Hermann Alexander’s, the fun-filled dump on Lyman Street known for its extracurricular activities such as plying patrons — including some of Pittsfield’s finest — with all sorts of exotic items on and off the menu.

Hermann Alexander’s had its three-month suspension of its liquor license lifted by the Pittsfield Licensing Board on condition that owner Mitchell Grossjung sell the establishment. HA remains closed until then, with the city holding the liquor license. Upon sale of the bar, the license will be forwarded to the new owner.

‘Family Oriented,’ Massery Says, but That’s What They Said When HA Opened

This all sound innocuous enough, but what are we to make of landlord Phil Massery’s comments? Massery told Dick Lindsay of the Boring Broadsheet he has a potential buyer lined up. The new enterprise would be “a restaurant, not a bar. It will be family oriented,” Massery told Lindsay. Massery paints a pretty picture, except that it sounds like the famous last words.

We will remind the landlord that when Hermann Alexander’s opened in the early 80s, it did so as a “family-oriented restaurant, not a bar.” It was a respectable joint. We remember treating our employees to a wonderful Christmas dinner party at HA’s in 1982. Over the years, however, Massery stood by as Hermann’s took a long and inexcusable journey over the years into the dregs.

Lindsay reported that Pittsfield Police expect Grossjung to be indicted on drug charges over action at the bar. Police say Grossjung knew about the drug trafficking at his bar. Grossjung’s attorney has denied his client conspired to violate drug laws. Meanwhile, four Pittsfield residents face drug charges on charges of dealing cocaine inside HA’s and in its parking lot. They have denied the charges in court.

Doesn’t a landlord need to know about the operations that take place in his building?  It has been one of the longest standing jokes about both the patrons and the alleged trafficking at Hermann’s. Are we to believe that Massery knew nothing about the rumors and stories, when practically everyone else did? Also, based on what happened at HA,  should we believe Massery will be any more responsible a landlord with the new establishment? He may be. Perhaps he learned his lesson, but the jury will be out on this one for a while.



You did not notice this. The Boring Broadsheet did not cover this, of course, because it testifies to something not quite working in the “renaissance” of downtown.

The New Stage Performing Arts Center, which never made the radar screen, gave up the ghost. No one noticed. No one was there.

We won’t belabor the point, except to show how, one by one, venues of this sort are unsustainable in a city whose economy consists solely on the recreation and resort crowd. They are the only ones with discretionary income, and they are here for two months out of the year. THE PLANET commends the New Stage folks for trying, but it’s just not going to happen in a city whose main operating mode is contraction (everything except the budget, that is).







  1. Joe T
    August 24, 2012 at 7:36 am #


    While I understand your comments on Massery, I wonder exactly what are our expectations of landlords? What are their legal responsibilities and as importantly moral responsibilities?

    My father, as owner of a duplex was a landlord and would tolerate no tom foolery – he lived next door with his family so involvement was a necessity.

    But do we hold absentee landlords to be knowledgeable of activities and act upon common knowledge if not proven fact? What about the owners of Zens another place rumored to be shady? And does it stop there? There are lots of shady tenants on Dewey, Francis, Daniels, and all over the city, are those landlords responsible for those tenants? What legal actions could they take and if they did what tenants would come in place?

    I agree there is some landlord culpability but how much?

    • dusty
      August 25, 2012 at 3:43 am #

      The Masserys are astute business men who do not miss a trick especially when it involves money. Hard for me to believe they would not know everything going on with their business ventures. Very hard

      They are also in that protected globe of the connected so draw your own conclusions

      • danvalenti
        August 25, 2012 at 10:59 am #

        I do know that Phil and Jim carried lots of GOB water during the campaign to establish the Civic Authority. That apparently bought lots of “loyalty.”

        • Dave
          August 25, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

          We make Landlords accountable where they have to now pay to register their multi family properties in case their is a problem(i.e. furniture by the road, excessive garbage and 10″ grass by golly) but we don’t hold a landlord accountable for this????? at all??? Rubbish!

        • dusty
          August 25, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

          Oh yeah they did. It was sickening listening to them two talk about tearing down Waconah park. P T Barnum and his other brother Baily.

  2. Dead to Rights
    August 24, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    These are valid questions asked in this story. You mean to say Phil Massery, the same man who overcharged the city for years for the adult learning center, didn’t realize that place was dealing, according to not only what the cops charge but what was common assumption accross the city. Seems to me PM had one thing on his mind, $ $ $.

  3. Demitrius T. Gladiator
    August 24, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    DV Funny how PM can mean Massery, Malumphy, or Marchetti, three of a kind that will lose any hand. Agree with what you said about the school committee and Alexanders. I hope PM is being sincere when he says it will be a family restaurant.

    • danvalenti
      August 24, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

      It hadn’t occurred to me, but now that you mention it …!

    August 24, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    Phil Massery is an honorable man, who has done a lot of good for kids and this community.

  5. ShirleyKnutz
    August 24, 2012 at 7:35 pm #

    How can the citizens of Pittsfield change the culture of their government is the only prop;e wi;;ing to run are affiliated with the GOB? Not many people are running for office so it is easy for the GOB to control the system.

    • danvalenti
      August 24, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

      There is one race that can send the right message. That is the race for register. Normally, this is not a high profile race, but this time it is, mostly because there’s not a lot going on otherwise. There are two GOB candidates, Phillips and Pignatelli, going against a woman who is not a politician but who is clearly by far the most qualified and best pick for the electorate. She is Patsy Harris. A Harris victory is a victory for We The People.

      • Dave
        August 25, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

        BEST POST BY DV EVER!!!!!

  6. Beacon Hill Mob
    August 24, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

    Dear Dan,

    You hit the nail on the head.

    Modern “Serfdom” has been caused by: Government Local to Federal, Banks, ADMINISTRATORS, and other PARASITES .

    They prey upon those whom actually work and produce.

    This has been known by Scientists for quite some time. It is caused by a new element, Administratium:

    Major U.S. Research University Discovers New Element!!!!!

    The heaviest element known to science was recently discovered by investigators at a major U.S. research university. The element, tentatively named Administratium, has no protons or electrons and thus has an atomic number of 0.

    However, it does have one neutron, 125 assistant neutrons, 75 vice neutrons, and 111 assistant vice neutrons. This gives it an atomic mass of 312.

    These 312 particles are held together by a force that involves the continuous exchange of meson-like particles called morons. It is also surrounded by vast quantities of electron-like particles called peons.

    Since it has no electrons, Administratium is inert. However, it can be detected chemically as it impedes every reaction it comes in contact with. According to the discovers, a minute amount of Administratium causes one reaction to take over four days to complete when it would have normally occurred in less than one second.

    Administratium has a normal half-life of approximately three years, at which time it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which assistant neutrons, vice neutrons, and assistant vice neutrons exchange places.

    In fact, Administratium sample’s mass actually INCREASES over time, since with each reorganization some of the morons inevitably become neutrons, forming new isotopes.

    This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to speculate that perhaps Administratium is spontaneously formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as “critical morass.”

    • Scott
      August 25, 2012 at 6:12 am #

      And how many bums are getting disability because they’re sad all the time or make the poor choice to abuse drugs? Yet we’re all concussed why social security is running out.

      • Chet Hunter
        August 25, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

        Scott. I. Agree with you. But what do we do with these leaches of the system? Let them live on the streets?

    • Beacon Hill Mob
      August 25, 2012 at 8:50 am #


      body of this should have quoted, sorry.

      Author, originally unknown

      • danvalenti
        August 25, 2012 at 10:52 am #

        Noted. We admire your knowledge of citation.

    • Dave
      August 25, 2012 at 12:03 pm #


  7. Giacometti
    August 24, 2012 at 10:20 pm #

    While Vermin Alexanders was never a pretty place there must exist some place in the community for vermin to hang their hat and have liquid refreshment…otherwise they will hang out at watering holes where their like just don’t fit in…so while Vermin Alexanders was never appreciated for its aesthetic values it was in it’s own context a needed establishment.

    • joetaxpayer
      August 25, 2012 at 7:57 am #

      Giacometti, you make a good point.They should think of Vermin Alexanders as a Meth clinic that pays tax’s.

      • danvalenti
        August 25, 2012 at 10:55 am #

        Comment of the week!

    • Dave
      August 25, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

      Is there such a thing as a “family bar”? And even if the Crossroads is as you say, if you go there to have a beer or two and don’t act like an ass, it probably wouldn’t matter who was hanging out.

      • Dave
        August 26, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

        Don’t know the particulars as you probably don’t either. My post was in response to another that doesn’t exist anymore so I say get rid of them all(posts referring to this). I haven’t been to the crossroads in ages and hate it when businesses get thrown out there. Maybe the poster was thrown out and has a grudge, or acted like an ass and got what was coming. Case in point, the guy who said he worked at Just like new, but didnt and was ripping people off. Great work by the BB by the way, just read the court docket- not even a call to the owner of the business to confirm his employment(or non-employment in this case, ahh who cares if a business is negatively effected for no reason. It’s not like its a bad arts review that will create a few dozen letters to the editor

  8. Brian C. Marquis
    August 25, 2012 at 5:03 am #

    Could someone please explain to me why the Pittsfield School Department employee, convicted in district court of recruiting a high schooler to harass and intimidate her Pittsfield police officer & former husband, is still on the freakin’ public payroll?

    And this poster is hoping the Pittsfield Chater Review Committee closely examines the redundancies of the four at-large council seats. If closely scrutinzed, members might find just cause to eliminate the costly and largely bureaucratic (elected) positions. They’re antiquated and serve no legitimate purpose to the furtherance of the public interest.

    • Chet Hunter
      August 25, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

      If We only had ward councilors then nothing would get done. They would only make sure thier ward was taken care of…

      • Dave
        August 25, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

        Charter Commission should re-ward the city because of our shrinking population. 5 wards 2 at large. even if both at large from same ward they couldn’t bully something in/out of their area.

  9. Scott
    August 25, 2012 at 6:09 am #

    I thought you wanted legalization of all drugs? Stop bitching then and leave the dopers alone it’s all in fun I don’t care if they drink until they drown or snort coke until their heart explodes.

  10. tito
    August 25, 2012 at 6:30 am #

    This weeks King of the Swamp’ award goes to none other than Jimmy G for his comment about local politics.

  11. joetaxpayer
    August 25, 2012 at 8:08 am #

    Dan,find it funny that you blame tht landlord who has no way of really knowing what is going on in his building.As you pointed out there has been all kinds of drug stories concerrning Hermans.Here something to think about,Mitch’s dad sold him the bar a few years ago.Maybe he decided to stop paying protection money to a police source.

    • danvalenti
      August 25, 2012 at 10:55 am #

      The landlord has the responsibility to know, when the activity is that blatant and that much in the whispers. Look, If I own a building, and the building has a barroom, and it’s the scene of constant fights, and it’s continually being talked about as a dope den, then I investigate. I find out, and if necessary, inform the police and initiate eviction proceedings. I don’t love money, of course, and so the almighty rent dollar wouldn’t mean a thing to me.

    • dusty
      August 26, 2012 at 3:38 am #

      If the moronic dopers know they can buy drugs at a certain location one might deduce that a prominent business man, in touch throughout the community, might have picked up on it through the grapevine?

      • danvalenti
        August 26, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

        Yes, that would be a reasonable assumption.

    August 25, 2012 at 8:35 am #

    Joetaxpayer: Thats a very serious allegation !!!!! Whats your proof ???? This is wrong with some people they just like to start some b—s— without backing it up.

    • joetaxpayer
      August 26, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

      I didn’t say I had any proof other than the fact that Hermans has been known to be a place to buy drugs for decades.Now that the original owner is out of the picture the hammer comes down.Maybe I’m watching to many cop shows on t.v

  13. Dave
    August 25, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    Great news for Pittsfield in the BB!!! Reid Middle School getting
    new combination classroom/media production studio. Maybe this is the olive branch the school committee needed to extend to Sturge to stop the massive outcry that has resulted from his show not being on WTBR. I almost forgot that Baba Louie’s had diet root beer, or who Meghan Whilden was or what was playing at the New Stage Theatre this week……………..oh wait it,it,it,closed waaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
    I’m sorry Bill come backkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The fate of the new Pittsfield economy(unfortunately) depends on you. PITTSFIELD -RISE UP CALL WBRK 442-1553 SAVE THE STURGE!!!!!!!

  14. Demitrius T. Gladiator
    August 25, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

    Another great posting, planet!

  15. Giacometti
    August 26, 2012 at 5:48 am #

    New Stage dies…Berkshire Artisans dies…Berkshire Pro Musica dies…The Berkshire Public Theater…the list goes on and on…nobody really cares…in this town it’s not what you have done…it’s what you have done lately. Are you really surprised ? Berkshire Artisans lasted for 25 years and they were gone in an instant…after producing the City Stage, the City Murals, The First Night, The Berkshire Writers Room, Live on the Lake and countless other free to the public cultural programs..who really cares ?….Good Luck New Stage… you’re in good company

    • danvalenti
      August 26, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

      The list goes on and on.

  16. Richard
    August 26, 2012 at 8:25 am #

    As you may or may not know Dan, the as located on Lyman St. next to a bar where drugs were sold and next to Kid’s Zone as well as Chimbo Jock and an excerise place. These are all places where children and young adults are going as well as not being that far from Pittsfield High School.
    Rumor has it that the owner wants the Adult Learning Center to return. I hardly think that this is a place where our young adults should be located. Maybe you could look into this for me.

    • danvalenti
      August 26, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

      There is no reason for the Adult Learning Center to return there. The rents were prohibitively high, rip-off rates paid for by the bedraggled taxpayer. The ALC had a much better deal on North Street, until Mr. Massery cried that his cushy deal was taken away. Give Mr. Bianchi credit for busting up the patronage scheme Massery had going with the ALC business.

    August 26, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    Massery should bo back to the business that made his family rich, selling cigarettes and candy. As for scotty, a good guy, he’s got the GOB dream, a three way race. Just ask Farley-Nesbit.

  18. Beacon Hill Mob
    August 26, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    Dear Dan,

    What are your thoughts of the RNC and Mittens stealing the Dr. Paul delegates?

    Why bother voting if the RNC can instill, at will?

    Will Maines delegates be seated, for Dr. Paul?

    How about the other States the RNC are trying to silence? Just so Dr. Paul can’t talk about Freedom, me you , Mary Jane and Joe.



    • danvalenti
      August 26, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

      It’s more Main Party gestapo tactics. They don’t want a convention. They want a coronation.
      I want all Paul delegates to have a seat and be heard.

  19. joetaxpayer
    August 26, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

    Mr Hall was only buying into Obama’s philosophy of hating the wealthy and all of there fancy possion’ s.He was making a political statement

  20. Kim
    August 28, 2012 at 2:55 am #

    Oh, my, so many issues! Herman’s…..When I was a kid, it used to be a place to get great French onion soup..mmm…that melted cheese….
    Herman’s the local “pharmacy”, should have been stopped long ago. Give me a flippin’ break! Let’s be clear, something shady was going on for them to stay open as long as they did. I know the PPD might have had to actually do a “real” investigation, and then actually follow through with the findings, but, they are sucking down tax dollars faster than the lushes on the stools were sucking down there $1 drafts. And after the whole steroid thing, please. Like I would believe the police weren’t either getting free drugs, or money to keep quiet.

    My kids go to Kidzone. It’s a great daycare. Even they were broken into last year. BUT, the suspects driving the BMW didn’t get that car from going to school and getting good grades, since these morons broke in, stole laptops, but didn’t grab the power cords….duh. Took random things. Stupid. BTW, was that break in ever in the BB? Robbing a daycare…..shame

    As for Pittsfield schools….a joke. These teachers are paid way too much. Considering the list of school supplies required by each kid, and the fact that after working all day, I have to spend hours on homework doing stuff they haven’t even covered yet. If I wanted to be a teacher, I would have become a teacher. Get over your specific colored binders, and teach my kids!

    Damn city of Pittsfield! My kids need to learn, and get good jobs that will hopefully cover the sky high taxes, so I can rot in one of our shining retirement communities. That is if I get to retire.

    And for the record, the diagnosis most used to get scooters approved by insurance? OBESITY!!!! Yes, being fat is a disability. How about this, go for a walk.


  21. Levitan
    August 29, 2012 at 8:16 am #

    The city … wants to take on the grand task of reviewing its rules — the city charter. THE PLANET wonders why, since in the past 20 years or so, the rules have largely been ignored.

    Too true -and amusing.

    I am a burgher, by the way. Living in the city with a white collar job makes me a burgher. Royalty was abolished with merchant dollars and the serfs are emancipated.

    Did you mean to write “boyar” will rules us?

    • Levitan
      August 29, 2012 at 8:21 am #

      *boyari will rule us.”