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