‘TURKEY OF THE YEAR’ CONTEST IS EXTENDED … EGREMONT POSTMASTER WEARING EGG ON FACE … INFO ON FEDS PROBE OF LEE POLICE CHIEF … PITTSFIELD SCHOOLS’ AUDITORY SCANDAL … COUNCIL CLIPPINGS
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, NOV. 26, 2012) — Due to the many entries and the repeated pleas for multiple nominations, THE PLANET will add a second-place prize to our Turkey of the Year Contest. Our second-place finisher will be treated to a free lunch (there IS such a thing on THE PLANET) at On a Roll restaurant in beautiful downtown Pittsfield., in the Newberry Building.
We are pleased to say that we are keeping the contest open until Friday morning of this week, when THE PLANET shall announce our two winners. You won’t want to miss the exciting awards ceremony! So keep the nominations coming.
DONT TELL ANYBODY, BUT …
Wait a Minute, Mr. Postman — Why did the postmaster in Egremont, Mass., of all people, fall for a telephone scam that promised an Apple iPad, an iPad mini, and a Mac laptop computer for a breathtakingly low price of $800, more than half the price you would pay at the Apple Store? You figure a postmaster would be hip to scams of all sorts, but not in this case. Our gullible stamp canceler gave up $800 over the phone, we hear from our spies. He waited and waited and waited … but the gear never arrived. When he tried calling the number back, all he got was one of them “fast busy signals,” as our informant told us, the kind where the phone isn’t and will not be connecting to anyone this side of heaven. The funny thing is that when Mr. Postmaster told his wife about it, he said he coughed up $400, not $800. Apparently, he figured she’d chew him out by about a half.
FEDS PROBING LEE POLICE CHIEF — THE PLANET has been poking around at the insides of this scintillating story, trying to figure out why the Feds, in the person of the FBI, descended on the Lee Police HQ. We have heard from and talked to a number of sources familiar with the investigation but who are not authorized to speak publicly. There have been a lot of speculations and presumptions about this case, but THE PLANET reminds all that no charges have yet been filed against anyone.
Until charges are filed, we don’t even have to say that people are innocent until proven guilty under our system of government … unless, of course, you are a fearless blogger determined to write the truth and the subject of your truthful, fact-based columns appeals to a “friendly” judge and receives a temporary restraining order that violates the First Amendment not once but twice. Even then, our system proves its strength when a more sober judge trashes the previous judge’s kangaroo-court verdict.
BARNEY TO THE FIFES — Whiter the police advisory commission (PAC) in Pittsfield? Why does it exist? What will it change? The PAC has been around for a couple months now, and it still doesn’t know why it’s been formed or what they are supposed to do. Can you blame them? At its second meeting earlier this month, city attorney Kathy Degnan told the PAC: “Your purpose is to provide advice to the mayor and city council relative to the police department on non-operational, non-investigatory matters.” Let us dare to ask an obvious question, then: What else is there to a police department besides operations and investigations. Degnan’s remarks make it clear. She might as well have said, “Look, you who serve on the PAC get your name in the letterhead and it looks great for your resume, but don’t think for a second that you will have any say on police operations of how it does its work.”
AUDITORY HALLUCINATIONS — The damning state audit of the Pittsfield Public Schools system should leave taxpayers fuming. It should also make school reform the dominant issue of the 2013 municipal campaign — it won’t, though, because local pols are deathly afraid of taking on the teachers union. If there should emerge a candidate who would have the guts to do that and back it up with an intelligent, forward-looking plan for school reform, that candidate would gather more than enough support from a re-energized electorate to cancel the effect of the municipal unions on elections. The audit said Pittsfield school discriminate against students, violated a bunch of laws, didn’t provide required services, and ignored similar findings from a 2006 report. For that pathetic performance, politicians rewarded teachers with a 16% pay raise over the next three years and gave administrators similarly huge raises. There will come the time, and soon, where either one of three things happens. Either the system will collapse under its own weight of unsustainable finances, there will be a citizen-fed revolution demanding radical reform, or bankruptcy.
ON THE COUNCIL DOCKET — Tonight, our Right Honorable Good Friends on the City Council will take up the tax rate. It’s interesting and amusing that councilors should wait until late November to do this, when they could just as well do it contiguous to the time they pass the mayor’s budget. The only problem with that approach, of course, is that every other year they would be setting the new rates (higher, invariably) prior to and not after an election. For a politician, this timing is as good as that of the Titanic and the stray iceberg.
There’s also a petition from our Right Honorable Good Friend John Krol asking that the school department and the United Educators of Pittsfield (especially the latter) to explain why they crushed the application for a federal grant that if won would have brought $10-$20 million to the schools. Can’t wait to see how that one turns out.
ARMS REACH FOR SANDSHELLS
HIDING THE OCEAN IN THEIR INNER FOLDS.
THE SUN IS SHINING, AND ALL IS WELL.
THE SEA’s ACCENT SPEAKS FOR ME, I’M TOLD.
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“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL