C’MON DOWN, FRANK COTE! C’MON DOWN, LYNNE WHITNEY! WELCOME TO “THE PRICE IS RIGHT,” PLANET STYLE … FLOWER SHOP REPRIEVE ONLY A ONE-SHOT DEAL? … plus … A STAR IS BORN: MUSIC REVIEW OF LAKECIA BENJAMIN AT CHAMELEONS
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, OCT. 1, 2012) — Once again, THE PLANET caught “Them” with “Their” hand in the cookie jar. We can call it our reason for being or an occupational hazard. Take your pick.
C’mon down, Frank Cote, assistant superintendent of schools, Pittsfield School Department!
C’mon down, Lynn Whitney, secretary to Frank Cote, assistant superintendent of schools, Pittsfield School Department!
Welcome to, “The Price is Right,” PLANET style. The price certainly was right for Whitney, when, with the assistance of Cote, she “won” the “bid” for free slave labor provided by Taconic High School carpentry students to build her highness a house — until Terry Kinnas stepped in, then the city solicitor, then the city council.
More Revelations to Come
The case of the Great Inside Job (GIB) nearly pulled off to perfection by a secretary to an assistant superintendent in the Pittsfield School Department is far from over.
Readers can refer to Friday’s posting, Sept. 28, 2012, for the details of this outrageous scam (we don’t know what else to call it), foisted off with all due “proper” “legalities” by Frank Cote, the assistant super; Lynn Whitney, his secretary and the erstwhile recipient of free slave labor from Taconic High School carpentry students; and five of the seven members of the Pittsfield School Committee, all except Terry Kinnas, the hero of this story, and Mayor Dan Bianchi, who was not present when the vote was taken.
THE PLANET‘s investigation continues, and tomorrow, we shall have the second fruits of an abhorrent case of apparent insider trading. For purposes of administration, the case bounced back into the reluctant hands of our Right Honorable Good Friends on the Pittsfield city council.
You won’t believe what we’ve uncovered. Hint: Does the Fats Waller tune, “I’m Going to Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” ring a bell? Find out more tomorrow, but meanwhile …
The school committee cannot proceed further because of the conflict of interest: The winner of the contract to receive free home construction — Whitney — is technically the committee’s employee. That’s great, eh? She can bid on the job that her own boss puts out to bid, and she can “win” the bid, and that’s no conflict of interest, but the school committee, her collective Boss, cannot touch her because of “conflict.” As one of our good friends used to say, “What kind of shit-shakin’ operation are they running over there?”
Folks interested in learning more squeamish details should be sure to check this website tomorrow. For now, though, THE PLANET has one important point to make: Don’t put any of this on the new acting superintendent, Gordon Noseworthy (doesn’t the name sound like it should be played by the late, great comedian Louis Nye?). Whitney’s letter applying for the free slave labor came on April 25, when Jake Eberwein The Third controlled the den of girl scouts and thieves that has become the school department administration.
Ask yourselves, ladies and gentlemen, if it’s mere coincidence that —
(a) Whitney sent her letter into Cote when Jake was boss.
(b) “They” — the school committee — waited until Jake had left, all the way to Aug. 22, before voting on it.
(c) The school committee, at its Aug. 22 meeting, approved awarding the free labor to Whitney by a 5-1 vote, with Terry Kinnas the lone dissenting vote (Mayor Bianchi wasn’t in the room when the vote was taken). This comes at a time when supt. Dr. Noseworthy, is still cramming on the 5,001 details of the new job. “They” have to figure he won’t have any clue as to what’s going on.
(d) Moreover, Noseworthy has Jake’s glowing report on how well everything is functioning in the most dysfunctional city department of all, one that eats up 70% of a $132,000,000 budget. This is to put Noseworthy at ease and not look into things that, if left unattended, will blacken an otherwise distinguished academic record before his term as acting superintendent ends.
Noseworthy or Council: Please Take the Appropriate Action and Nip This in the Bud, as Barney Fife Would Advise Andy
THE PLANET realizes, though, that from this moment on, Noseworthy becomes involved. He’s the boss now, and he will win instant fame and a statue in Park Square if he steps in, asserts his authority, takes the city council off the hook, and unilaterally disqualifies Lynn Whitney — or ANY school department employee — from receiving free carpentry works from students … or free auto repair, or free anything that vocational students can do.
There are several agents who can kill this phony deal:
2. The mayor.
3. The city solicitor.
4. The city council.
5. The school commitee.
The question THE PLANET has on behalf of Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski is this: Which one (or more) among them will step forward and declare this a travesty and put it to a well-deserved death?
Since THE PLANET published our story on Friday, we have received numerous reports from honest employees of the school department, who are fed up with certain individuals abusing their positions to get vocational students to work for them, for free. We will stay on this story for them, as well.
DOCTOR NOSEWORTHY: THIS HAS GOT TO STOP!
Tune in tomorrow, boys and girls, for the next thrill-packed adventure in “The Great Inside Job.”
FLOWER SHOP GETS REPRIEVE … RIGHT?
The Berkshire Flower Shop at 910 South St., Pittsfield, where the Quarry snack bar used to be, hears the clock ticking. Is this justified, or are officials taking a foolishthat will be regretted later?
Last year, on May 11, the flower shop got an 18-month reprieve. That brings it to November 2012. What’s the update? What then? Does the business close and the building come down after that, likely as part of South Street road work, or is there a last-minute reprieve for a business that has every right to be where it is.
When midnight comes, the flower shop is required to give up the ghost for conservation purposes.
Who Will Step Up to the Plate?
The May vote marked the second time the city council voted (8 to 3) to extend the residency of the Berkshire Flower Shop. Following the lead of the conservation commission, the council in 2010 had awarded a one-year extension. Who will step forward, stop this nonsense, and convey common sense by letting the flower shop stay where it is?
The action to close the shop comes as a result of an agreement the city reached with the late developer, Gordon Rose, on what is now Dan Fox Drive. Remember? That area was supposed to be Pittsfield Hi-Tech Park, the city’s own Silicon Valley and Route 128 Tech Corridor. The road was developed under that premise, but as all too often happens in Palookaville, Pittsfield botched the opportunity. For reasons still not entirely clear, the city abandoned the pursuit of high-tech, clean- and bio-manufacturing. It gave up on going after the jobs that Albany and other regional areas won, settling instead for a losing substitute, the Recreation and Resort ecomony. Instead, it put in retail shopping and arts and, in 2003, conveyed the land on the corner of the Drive and South Street to Patriot Suites. D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R.
This isn’t Monday Morning Quarterbacking on our part. THE PLANET recalls predicting the ultimate fate of the “Resort Hotel.” It became a hot-button topic on The Dan Valenti Show at the time of the foolish vote of the city council, then headed by Rick Scapin. We questioned the investment plan, the decision by the council to allow a monstrosity of that size foul the area, and we wondered — with the glut of hotel rooms — how the hotel could stay open. It couldn’t.
It didn’t. The Resort flopped big time. Now it stands on the cliff on the corner, an empty shell, echoing from its abandoned corridors the sonorous banshee cry of another Pittsfield failure.
‘Undeveloped.’ How’s that for a Joke?
As we said, Patriot Suites took over the covenant in 2003. In exchange for development rights and access for the Rose business park and the hotels, the developers pledged to vacate the South Street property as part of a greenway meant to ensure that a section of South Street remains undeveloped.
How’s that for a joke? Undeveloped? Heading just a moment south from that location, a driver runs into the ugliest type of strip mall this side of Ohio. An adult book and magazine store assaults you on the left, and after you cross the Pittsfield-Lenox line, the wave includes motels, gas stations, barrooms, shopping, car dealers, and more “stuff” that the senses were meant to bear.
As businesses go, you can’t get more green than a flower company. How is a bit of landscaping that we know won’t be kept up compare (especially after it has been allowed to get overgrown) to a functioning, perhaps thriving flower business? You tell us.
Lakecia Benjamin is Destined to Be A Star, Here’s Why
By Andy Poncherello
Special to PLANET VALENTI Arts
I had the special pleasure of catching up and coming jazz phenom Lakecia Benjamin and her band Soulsquad here in Pittsfield at a warm-up gig for her performance on a national morning program the following morning. Ms. Benjamin’s instrument of choice is a saxophone, and she leads Soulsquad with incredible stage presence and conviction even at a mid-week club appearance in the middle of nowhere.
The band followed her lead and nailed what was referred to as their “warm-up number” and kept a steady yet frantic pace to their short but sweet forty-minute set. Most of this evening’s set was taken from her critically acclaimed debut “Retox,” and just because she’s touring in support of a debut is not to say Lakecia is a new kid on the block. In fact, she’s been performing with a virtual who’s who in the jazz, R & B ,and hip hop scene for a number of years. She even performed at President Obama’s inaugural ball — and there she was right here in Pittsfield.
Her band, Soulsquad — consisting of keyboards, drums, bass, vocals, and trumpet along with Lakecia’s saxophone — was incredibly tight. Improvisation was kept to a minimum as Benjamin kept things cool, calm, and intense. Some of the songs had lyrics while others were left up to her top-notch vocalist to use her voice as instrument. The band had a great time, and it showed in their performance to the small but extremely appreciative crowd.
It was a treat to catch someone such as Lakecia Benjamin and Soulsquad in such an intimate setting. She packs clubs in New York City, and it’s easy to understand why she’s working with some of the biggest names in music today.
Following this powerful kickoff to a great evening of music was Noumenon in one of their final performances of 2012. This former duo is now boasting a top-notch drummer, and they fill the room now more than ever with vocals, guitars, and drums. While they were an experience without the drums, this sound has brought a whole new element to their angst-filled indie rock. Look for new things from them in 2013!
Tempest hadn’t played a show in Pittsfield in approximately two years, and it was a treat to have them run through a set comprised of new material as well as old favorites on this dreary Wednesday. While their older material was simple pop, their new songs have more of an aggressive edge. It’s still pop, but it would fit nicely on college radio circa 1995 in-between Yo La Tango and They Might Be Giants. Tonight Tempest was comprised of Jon on drums and Simon on guitar/vocals. They debut a new bassist soon, hopefully in time for their next local performance.
NOTE: THE PLANET COULD NOT DOWNLOAD PHOTOS FROM THIS CONCERT DUE TO A TECHNICAL GLITCH. SO SOLLY.
AND NOW, DEAR CHILDREN, LET US GIVE THANKS. WITH GRATITUDE, LET US BREATHE DEEPLY, SMILE, AND LOVE THE FEEL OF THE BEDROOM FLOOR IN THE MORNING.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.