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LIGHTHOUSE REuNION JUST FAB … DYNASTIC NE PATRIOTS GET OFF ON RIGHT FOOT IN TENNESSEE … PITTSFIELD CITY COuNCIL ACTION ON ‘UNITED v. FEC’ A WASTE OF TIME, MONEy, & ENERGY … COUNCIL RAISES WATER AND SEWER RATES IN SHIRE CITY ANOTHER 2.5%

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER, 10, 2012) — Just a quick word on the Legends of the Lighthouse reunion concert at the Pittsfield Boys and Girls Club: fabulous! THE PLANET doesn’t know the official attendance figure, but we eyeballed maybe 1,500.

We ran into so many friends we haven’t seen in a while, and that, of course, provided the biggest thrill. The afterglow of human warmth never leaves with friends, and when they meet again, even after decades, it’s not so much a re-acquaintance but a re-ignition. That afterglow ignites again into a fire and time disappears, in its recession revealing the ultimate test of friendship: Can you pick up where you left off, as if the years of interval were flicks of a hand?

What fun. What joy.

What Was and Never Shall Be … But Was Again, for a Day

One other observation, judging by the tremendous performances by all of the acts, is how alive and thriving the Berkshire musical scene was back in the 1960s and 70s. Legions of clubs, dance halls, small arenas, and venues existed in the circle circumscribed by Bennington to the north, Albany to the west, Springfield to the east, and Hartford to the south that it could support wave after wave of bands, acts, and musicians. The bands and talent on display yesterday at the Boys Club testify to the Berkshires’ pedigree as a musical hotbed, a designation that seems misplaced in 2012. Today, the music is mostly synthetic, expressing some form hatred and rage, dependent on software and technology rather than musicianship and showmanship.

The bands and talent made it obvious they took the Legends gig seriously, and all sounded in sparkling timbre, playing period songs that, too, have transcended time after all these years.

Kudos to Dave Healey and Rick Fetridge for bringing this show together. [NOTE: An earlier draft referred to "Dave Hall." THE PLANET meant, of course, Dave Healey who, along Rick F., bore the brunt of the work and deserve the most ample portion of the credit]. The production value were top notch, from lights and sound to filming and green-room hospitality. Bobby Dick from the Sundowners served well as emcee, and, amazingly, the 15 or so acts kept to within their 15-minute set limits. The 1,500 in attendance made this a success, and we hope to plant this thought: The Legends concert should be an annual event.

We loved seeing so many of our good friends backstage in the green room, including Steven Coltrara, Patrick Torra, Puggy Demary, Dave Grover, Jay Fruet, Danny Allen, Terry Hall, Mike Sacco, Tommy Powers, and so many more. We even paid our respects to Club patriarch, Jim Mooney.

THE PLANET got the biggest thrill at seeing brother Mick take center stage with the only solo performance of the afternoon and evening. He went through a blistering set of four original songs, and then, in a surprise that the crowd adored, he introduced band mates Puggy Demary (rhythm guitar, vocals),Mike Sacco (drums) and David Grover (bass) while he handled lead on a crisp, effervescent version of the Searchers‘ “Needles and Pins.” What a moment.

What a show. A splendid time was guaranteed for all.

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NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS WIN IN TENNESSEE

Good to see the New England Patriots getting off on the right foot on the road in a 34-13 dismantling of Tennessee. It’s the ninth straight opener won by the Patriots, the current best string in the NFL.

It’s amazing, in an NFL engineered for homogenized parity, how the New England franchise continues to dominate the league. No team has won more games, more playoff games, more divisional titles, more conferences titles, and more world titles in the past 10 years. It testifies to continuance, solidity, and vision, enabled by Robert Kraft, directed by Bill Belichick, and executed by Tom Brady.

Boston fans have been given great gifts, with the Boston Celtics dynasty of the 50-60-70-80s (plus a world title for good measure in 2008), two Red Sox world championships, a Bruins Stanley Cup, but most of all the Patriots. Once one of the league’s doormat franchise, they are now the #2 valued NFL franchise ($1.65 billion). They join this elite list of NFL Dynasties: 1960s, Green Bay; 1970s, Pittsburgh; 1980s Dallas; 1990s, San Francisco; 2000s, New England. The NE achievement stands alone for having done it in an age of parity, based on winning percentage.

Thank you, Robert Kraft.

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‘CITIZENS’ RESOLuTION BY CITY COUNCIL A LOCAL WASTE OF TIME

What business does the Pittsfield City Council have in entertaining, much less approving, a resolution on an arcane federal matter? THE PLANET speaks of the unanimous consent given by my Right Honorable Good Friends on the council asking the U.S. Congress to initiate a constitutional amendment (28th) aimed at reversing Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

The decision upheld the right of corporations, PACS, and special interest groups to contribute to political campaigns. Essentially, the Supreme Court held that these entities are protected by their constitutional right to free speech, the same as people. Opponents misread and mislead on this notion of “corporations as people.”

Of course, a corporation is not a human being. To mock the idea by presenting a literal meaning is to miss the intent. The notion means that corporations have certain rights, some of them the same as those enjoyed by people, under the Constitution of the United States.

The Horse Done Left ‘da Bahn’

Liberals will point to the super PAC of uber-conservative Karl Rove and brothers Charles and David Koch. By the time it’s all over, this one group alone will spend about $1 billion in this presidential election cycle to defeat President Barack Obama. They tend not to point to the super contributions of groups backed by liberals George Soros and Peter Lewis, however. IThe massive amounts of money about even out, because after  so many hundreds of millions of dollars, money tends not to be heard, because ads reach a saturation point where they fail to convey their message. People begin to tune out. Repetition does not lead to recognition but repulsion.

My good friends on the council are among those who fear a corporate takeover of the political process, but it’s too late for that concern. Since the 1960 presidential election, every four years has seen a greater control of campaigns by the vested interests controlling ever-more obscene amounts of capital. It’s not so much a liberal-conservative divide or a Democratic-Republican one, since these shadowy groups will support both sides in a hedge that will assure influence no matter who wins.

The council should realize that the horse bolted from the barn, and they are now trying to close the barn doors. Amos McCoy would have told you of the futility in this.

There are much more important issues locally for the Pittsfield city council, the chief among them playing a major role in job creation, than to waste their time, talents, and treasure on Citizens v. FEC.

Job creation is tops among local problems to solve , and the others are too numerous to list (excessive taxation, a dysfunctional Pittsfield public school system, crime and public safety issues, a rampant drug scene, etc.) So we might reasonably ask why the council has taken this issue to task? Why would the council bother?

Dem Dominance Decides the Matter

The clue is the local domination of the Democratic Party. You might think it easy to access public information in this day of cyberspace, but try easily finding exact numbers on registered voters among the parties. When you click on the Registrar of Voters link art cityofpittsfield.org, you won’t find the information.

Apparently, chairman Board of Registrar chairman Jeff Whitehouse got the GOB memo: Do not, under any circumstances, provide information online that will be readily accessible by citizens. Neither he nor board members Thomas Hamel or Bill Barry care about you, Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski.

So we can’t tell you the exact number of Democrats, but it’s overwhelming, matched only by disgruntled Dems who have opted out of party politics and are registered as un-enrolled, that is, independent. The 10-to-1 disparity sets up all sorts of political mediocrity and sin.

The city council got its marching orders from Deval Patrick, our governor, and they are fetching water. It might have to do with Patrick’s presidential ambitions in 2016, ambitions he denies. In any case, the state Dems want to close ranks and support the national party lock-step with the directive: Protest Citizens v. FEC.

Like good, unquestioning, robotic foot soldiers, the city council, having received its orders, complied. The only respectable position here would have been either out-and-out defiance or recusal on the grounds of irrelevance.

‘Extremely Important,’ says Krol, but He Doesn’t Explain Why

The action by the council on United v. FEC is “extremely important” says Ward 6′s John Krol, as quoted in the Pittsfield Gazette. Krol means its extremely important for all good Democrats who want to stay politically relevant in the Commonwealth to line up in opposition of United and in favor of messing with the constitution. Neither he nor any other of his council colleagues have made a strong case for why the Pittsfield city council, a local group in the political backwaters of Podunk, should take up this most national of issues.

There’s also a legal consideration. Krol and the other members who voted for this are walking a fine line on thin ice, given that it’s illegal to use the resources of the city and its council for what is obviously a blatantly political overture, what is clearly an initiative of the Democratic Party — not that it matters, of course, because this is Pittsfield, where procedure is pacified and rule of law put under the bushel of one-party politics.

State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, displaying a colossal ignorance of national issues, a denseness so thick as to border the artistic, called the case against United “the single biggest issue we have in this country.” Oh really? It’s not the national debt? It’s not the hyper-leveraged economy? It’s not oppressive taxation, government waste, obscene defense spending? This, we remind you, is a woman who is running unopposed in November!

As we said, Amos McCoy’s horse done left the “bahn,” and now the council, wanting to pass its political litmus test, wastes its time and energy on overturning United. Apparently, the council doesn’t understand that United didn’t change a thing. Five years ago, for example, any wealthy donor could write a check to a “527 group,” named for its provision in the law. “Even corporations, through they couldn’t contribute to a candidate or a party, were free to write unlimited checks to something called a social-welfare group, who principal purpose, ostensibly, is issue advocacy rather than political activity” (Matt Bai, NY Times, July 17, 2012).

The Supreme Court ruling in United allows corporate money to be used to make direct arguments. Corporate money doesn’t have to go through 527s or fall in line with vague “advocacy” guidelines. The ruling actually brings the shadowy world of Big Time Political Funding into the open. The ruling makes it clearer and more apparent how the American public has been getting hosed when it comes to national politics. The hosing hasn’t changed, only that we now know how bad it is.

THE PLANET advises Krol and the rest of our Right Honorable Good Friends to think less about kissing up to state government biggies and more about tackling the overwhelming problems now afflicting their decaying city.

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WATER AND SEWER RATES GOING UP ANOTHER 2.5% IN PITTSFIELD

The death by 1,000 cuts continues for taxpayers in Pittsfield.

Our Right Honorable Good Friends on the city council slipped in a 2.5% increase on your water and sewer fees, Pittsfield. The new fee, according to city hall, is $156 for the first toilet and $78 for each additional toilet. One wonders how they calculate this. Does it relate to bum size? If so, it means there are a lot of fat asses in town. The new annual fee for a swimming pool is $70.93.

“We have no choice,” Melissa Mazzeo said at the council meeting on Aug. 14. “we’re faced with huge projects coming down the pipeline.”

We disagree with our Right Honorable Good Gentlelady. There is a choice: Bring a bloated municipal budget back to earth. This can be done, as we have pointed out previously, by finding some political backbone to replace the spines of jelly that have rubberized the local body politick.

Here are some doable, achievable cost-savings that would give taxpayers a break by actually lowering their rates, save about $45 million, and keep government service at the same or better levels.

(1) Institute retroactive pension reform. Savings, $17 million.

(2) Negotiate a better deal for citizens on municipal health insurance they now pay for city workers and retirees. Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski now pay 85% of everyone on municipal health, and 90% for some retirees. That is unsustainable. A 60-40 split must be enacted. Savings, $12 million.

(3) Attack the school department budget with a fresh set of eyes and brains. That budget eats up 2 out of every three dollars spent in and by Pittsfield. That could be reduced by 17% with a little bit of agita but with no loss, and actually an improvement, in public education. That’s almost $15 million.

There’s $44 million, by conservative estimate, without even touching councilors’ salaries.

We think we got their attention.

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THE WOODS ARE LOVELY, DARK and DEEP, BUT WE HAVE PROMISES TO KEEP, AND

40 Responses to “LIGHTHOUSE REuNION JUST FAB … DYNASTIC NE PATRIOTS GET OFF ON RIGHT FOOT IN TENNESSEE … PITTSFIELD CITY COuNCIL ACTION ON ‘UNITED v. FEC’ A WASTE OF TIME, MONEy, & ENERGY … COUNCIL RAISES WATER AND SEWER RATES IN SHIRE CITY ANOTHER 2.5%”

  1. Giacometti
    September 9, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

    Lighthouse Reunion was great ! I’m going to suggest at the next Boy’s and Girl’s Club Board of Director’s Meeting that it become an annual event !

  2. FPR
    September 10, 2012 at 3:57 am #

    Hey Dan,

    Another Great article. You are right the council is wasting their time with the Citizens United issue. It is too late and a dollar short.

    Asking for a Constitutional Convention is a very dangerous thing to do. The reason is that should one be convened, they can change more than you bargained for. Could affect free speech and right to bear arms and search and seizure etc. Very narrow mined to think they would go to all that trouble and only deal with that one issue.

    There is wisdom in letting sleeping dogs lie.

    On the 2.5% increase, its no big surprise there. The needless Airport project, Methadone Clinic and all the dumb things the council does on a monthly basis it was a forgone conclusion they would raise taxes. The 2.5% is really nothing as more will have to be done but hey the residents of the City of Pittsfield can afford it right?

    For Melissa to say, “we have no choice” is laughable. Why doesn’t she say that when all these things requiring the increases are being passed? When they pass something they give little thought to how they will pay for it. Then at a future council meeting they say well “we have no choice” or “its only 2.5%”. Its a joke really.

    Hey maybe next time I visit Pittsfield at least I can land my Learjet right in town thanks to the tax payers.

    • danvalenti
      September 10, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

      FPR
      Thanks. Your point about a constitutional convention is spot on, and one we didn’t include. The point raises huge concerns: Once you open the door to amendment, rules would allow anything to happen.

      • Wilson
        September 10, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

        Yeah, we’re about to see how this works with the “updating” of the City Charter

        • dusty
          September 11, 2012 at 12:50 am #

          yeah we are and look for the mayoral term to be increased to four or six years. The GOB are going to want to make sure when they get the power totally back that they can keep it

          there used to be talk about eliminating ward councilors as well….much easier to block vote in the Gerry Lees and Kerwoods when the same connected people can dumped their votes on a whole group…it eliminates those pesky ward votes which may get a favorite son elected …one who may hold up a council meeting by actually debating an issue

  3. taxmano
    September 10, 2012 at 6:27 am #

    Hey Dan

    Not to nitpick, but I think you mean Tricia the sandwich lady is autistic, not artistic, right? I can definitely imagine her exemplifying the former adjective, but not the latter (unless BS is an art form).

    • danvalenti
      September 10, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

      TAX MAN
      BS is an art form, and like much contemporary art, most of the practitioners are unqualified and produce garbage.

  4. Scott
    September 10, 2012 at 6:53 am #

    I wrote in “someone else” under TB’s name I wouldn’t cast a vote for her but it doesn’t really matter she don’t need my vote. The corporate influence on elections is disgusting. On Mitts own promise that he would continue to fund the military industrial complex (not in so many words.) that’s reason enough for me not to vote for him. My last visit to Ben & Jerry’s I saw a card that read “Keep The Dough Out Of Politics” http://washington.cbslocal.com/2012/02/13/ben-jerrys-kicks-off-get-the-dough-out-of-politics-campaign-with-free-ice-cream/

    I hope this is just the beginning of a beautiful thing and it’s the very reason I voted for Bill Shein because according to his website he shares the same ideas.

    • danvalenti
      September 10, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

      We’re curious, Scott and others:
      Would you vote for a write-in candidate against TFB. Do you think a sticker campaign could work?

      • Scott
        September 10, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

        ABSOLUTELY! I’ll write in my own name or someone else if they make sense.

      • Scott
        September 10, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

        ABSOLUTELY! I’ll write in my own name or someone else if they make sense.

  5. Ron Kitterman
    September 10, 2012 at 7:59 am #

    The lighthouse reunion was a hit for sure, hopefully the exclusion of Dave Healy’s name was an oversight ? But, if corporations are not people, then why the fuss over Chick fil A owner Dan Cathy from the left. I would have to agree that the 11 bobbleheads on the city council took their marching orders from the gov though Dan.

    • danvalenti
      September 10, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

      RON
      Many thanks. We meant to type in Dave Healey, not Dave Hall. We shall correct this immediately.

  6. Berkshire Ex-Pat
    September 10, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    Hey DV- here is the link to the new Rolling Stone piece about Romney and Bain Capital, with interesting details about Bain’s role in the demise of KB Toys.

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/greed-and-debt-the-true-story-of-mitt-romney-and-bain-capital-20120829

    • danvalenti
      September 10, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

      BEP
      Thanks. It’s a well-documented piece, though it tends to view certain evidence from a partisan perspective.

      • Scott
        September 10, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

        I agree but holy shit does it do a good job to shine a light into something most people even after the housing market bust still don’t get. Leveraged buy outs and slimy practices by the rich to cheat regular every day hard working people out of money with no discretion or conscience. Political partisan aside the piece tells the truth Mitt Romney and the like are what’s wrong with America. I’m not saying Obama is with out fault but I’d be stupid not to cast a vote for him because after all I am a small business and we’re getting extended tax breaks that would most likely disappear should Romney win the next election.

    • Scott
      September 10, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

      The link from the article is pretty damning as well thank you.

      http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-federal-bailout-that-saved-mitt-romney-20120829?page=2

  7. Shakes His Head
    September 10, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    I’m not sure why the water and sewer rates are not calculated on usage… are there really no meters? Surprised, but not really.

    • FPR
      September 10, 2012 at 11:40 am #

      If you had meters then people would have to pay for what they actually use. That wouldn’t make any sense. That way you cannot fleece the public.

      This way the rich people with their 3 Hot Tubs and Swimming Pools and 5 bathrooms can pay the same as you.

      • danvalenti
        September 10, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

        FPR
        Metered water makes a lot of sense. We have that in Stockbridge. It is a “leveler,” prompting fairness.

        • Concern
          September 10, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

          I have a meter

        • Concern
          September 10, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

          I have a meter

    • Scott
      September 10, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

      I have a meter

    • Larry
      September 10, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

      I have a meter

  8. The Kraken
    September 10, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    Water meters are quite expensive to install and I wonder if the homeowner would have to pay for it. That being said, folks in Pittsfied do have the option to going to a meter if they want. We chose not to as we argue enough over someone not turning off the TV or lights when leaving the house! Don’t want to argue over who is wasting water too.

    • dusty
      September 10, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

      What would be really fair is that at some cut off age, people who have never had a child in the school system, but have paid Pittsfield taxes through the nose all their lives, could stop paying the school system portion. That way, maybe some of the elderly who have worked so hard all their lives would not lose their homes.

      No, I am not holding my breath for any official thoughts along those lines.

      • Joe Blow
        September 10, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

        I totaly agree with you on this. I made the choice not to have kids,why the heck should a pay for all of the irresponsible breeders and their litters.

        • Scott
          September 10, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

          Some might argue and have a more positive view on the matter such as you’re contributing to the betterment of society instead of being a greedy narcissistic scrooge. There’s other people in the world other then the one who stares back at you in the morning when you’re shaving.

          • Wilson
            September 10, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

            You’re assuming the schools “better” anyone other than the teachers union.

      • Scott
        September 10, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

        anyone who want’s can opt out of it all buy a horse and go live in the mountains tax’s aren’t putting old people out of their homes and one could even argue it’s their fault for not preparing properly financially throughout their life before retirement. I know at this point and time I’m f’d and’s can never retire how about you?

        • dusty
          September 10, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

          I did not say no taxes EVER. I said at some point or age. If a couple has no kids but pays these taxes for 50 years with no payback to their own family I feel like that might just be enough. at age 70 or 75 cut these folk some slack. Do you really think it is fair to bleed them until they hit the grave?

          Obviously Scott has kids and his feelings have been hurt because he has taken my idea as an affront to his children.

          • Scott
            September 10, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

            I do have children and I still paid the same tax as everyone else even when I paid for them to go to private school I could argue the unfairness of that too. Also I do not take offense to anonymous posters on web sites I was just throwing out a point of view just because it didn’t go along with yours doesn’t mean I’m offended.

    • Larry
      September 10, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

      I believe municipalities cover the cost of the meters…. At least I have never heard otherwise. The cost of metering the entire city would be a large expenditure…. But, over the coarse of time would pay dividends.

      The town of Lee began metering a little over a decade ago…. New houses have a per bedroom/bathroom hookup charge that obviously covers future meter expenses. If you have town sewer you are billed twice (once for water and once for sewer) for every gallon that goes through your meter. If you waste treated water for irrigation purposes or washing your car…. Tough titties! You’re paying for sewage usage on that water anyhow!

      If YOUR water line from the water main leaks? You are responsible for both water and sewage on the loss of water that the municipality estimates was lost. The meter is at the house and this is why it’s an estimate. And yes…. I do know of a homeowner who argued the fact that the lost water never made it to the sewer system!

  9. Joe Blow
    September 10, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    Dan , I’m wondering what you think about the Chicago teachers union.

  10. Dave
    September 10, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    Dan, your point on the local pols being in lockstep with the Democatic party is spot on. When I hear a local politician complain that Boston doesn’t pay enough attention to anyplace West of Springfield, I wonder if it is our own fault. Boston knows we are so far in the bag for anything the Democratic party gets behind what is the point to spend resources here besides the occasional cultural grant to keep us hicks happy.

  11. Scott
    September 10, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

    Wilson, we can only hope. Teachers have it made it’s not so much them they teach the curriculum by national guidelines. How about the parents at home is there any responsibility for how their children act in school expected of them?

  12. Giacometti
    September 10, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

    I really don’t understand people who think teachers have it easy.

    Teachers deserve every dollar they earn…the students who want to learn are a joy…but the ones that just want to waste time are very difficult. Discipline is out the door and they know it. Anyone
    who thinks teaching is easy should try teaching as a substitute teacher any day of the week…only then will you appreciate the courageous job that teachers, one and all, do every day.

  13. taxmano
    September 11, 2012 at 5:47 am #

    Why isn’t Mark Miller opposing TFB? He could win without Pam M. serving as a spoiler. We have to get that ignoramus out of there.

  14. Evian
    September 11, 2012 at 7:11 am #

    VAlenti running a sticker campaign

  15. The Kraken
    September 11, 2012 at 8:04 am #

    Whereas it would be more fair if under certain conditions homeowners would not have to pay property (aka. school) taxes it won’t ever happen. Our education system is a socialist system (completely run and owned by gov’t) so everyone gets to ‘pay their fair share’. If you think about it, the military is also a socialist program (completely run and owned by the gov’t) and alot of people do not want their tax dollars to go to war but they do not get a choice, much like property taxes. Our gov’t is already alot more socialist than people think or realize.