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.



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.






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  1. Outfox
    November 27, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    Contextual clarification, please, DV. It’s the nominator,not the Turkey that gets the free lunch, right? The Turkeys get enough free lunches as it is.

    • danvalenti
      November 27, 2012 at 11:51 am #

      The nominator shall receive the free lunch.

  2. Ron Kitterman
    November 27, 2012 at 10:39 am #

    Gee Dan cut the Egermont postmaster some slack the free ipad scam is more of an internet thing isn’t it, not a sail mail chain letter thing. The pols in Pittsfield have been falling for the free cash scam for years you know how the game is played, so run out and get yourself some power ball tickets. Hey you never know as they say on TV.

    • danvalenti
      November 27, 2012 at 11:51 am #

      Well, postmasters should be up on the nature of scam artists, regardless of the medium employed. As for Powerball, I have too much money as it is now.

  3. Scott
    November 27, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    It seems every mayor makes promises of making cuts, then when they get in office talk about how much extra money is needed, gets the raises pushed thorough then says “oh yeah now we need to raise property tax on business and private land owners” which doesn’t make any sense because we’re all losing money. The schools suck, the police and fire department though employ some very dedicated men and woman are bloated. Crime is high with gangs and drugs and is it really that necessary to send out a huge fire engine to every single call whether it’s related to fire or not??? It’s obvious the majority of public employees look at it as a good way to make a living when it should be about serving your community. This isn’t a scoff at any one particular group just an observation by someone would would like to see the respective fields preserved but at this rate it’s going to bankrupt the city and continue making things harder for people who do invest in this community weather it’s providing some sort of private service or retail/restaurant business. Hey guys we gotta eat too!

    • danvalenti
      November 27, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

      THE PLANET says: If Dan Valenti is ever foolish enough to run for mayor (and we say “foolish, because he would win”), he would make tax relief his prime directive. He would submit a workable spending plan that (a) called for lowering of taxes for property owners and businesses, (b) lowered the cost of government from the previous year, and (c) preserved all essential services as an equal or greater level. This all can be done, DV says. Many would believe him because they would believe the plan he would lay out in the campaign.

      • Scott
        November 27, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

        Dan, go for it I’ll pass out the pink slips when you get elected.

      • Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
        November 28, 2012 at 6:21 am #

        Why are you talking in the 3rd person DV?

        • danvalenti
          November 28, 2012 at 7:16 am #

          That’s what they do when “they” achieve a level of cultural saturation.

  4. Thomas Haynes
    November 27, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

    How about the imbecile who impersonated a Greylock Credit Union Manager (was it Andrew Stevens)?

    • Scott
      November 27, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

      No, but as the rules were stated you can’t elect Dan. (BURN!)

    • GMHeller
      November 27, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

      The impersonators in the Greylock Federal Credit Union scam were the dynamic duo of ‘Praxis33’ and his oh-so-bosom buddy ‘Carl of Pittsfield’, a loathsome lying pair certainly worth anyone’s Turkeys of the Year Award.
      Praxis33, as you might recall, is the angry middle-aged guy whose lot in life is that he’s lost use of his legs apparently as a result of some very serious anger management problems in his past and is now confined to a government-subsidized existence in a motorized wheelchair and for the most part hangs out in North Adams stalking people online and pretending for example to be manager of the Merrill Road branch of GFCU.
      He’s now also the subject of a photo contest wherein the winner gets as much as $350 to photograph and identify the Mystery Man who is The Pride of North Adams.
      (A smug-looking guy in a motorized wheelchair in downtown NA should not be too hard to spot.)
      So whether Praxis33 and Carl of Pittsfield gets the Turkey Award or not, some lucky enterprising paparazzi can definitely win money for the holidays.
      Address all inquiries to editor @ berkshirerecord .com.

      • Joe Blow
        November 27, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

        Could you leave this garbage on topix….I doubt anyone here cares.

        • Pittsfield Pete
          November 28, 2012 at 7:51 am #

          Agree Joe Blow!
          Heller – take your silly contest with Paraxis else where.

      • Scott
        November 27, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

        Sometimes an idiot get’s the best of you on topix. it happens man let it go no one on there can be taken seriously. It’s a mixture of a bunch of kids and old losers with no life or family.

  5. tito
    November 27, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    Dan, did you see where Mayor Bianchi wants to look into the premise of paying the school committee members. You can’t make it up.

  6. ShirleyKnutz
    November 27, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

    Dan, my vote for Turkey of the year go to all the citizens and businesses that still live and work in the City of Pittsfield. Every year they vote in the same group of people as the city crumbles, and they expect things to improve. As Einstein says that is the definition of TURKEYS!!! or maybe that was Ben Franklin.

  7. tito
    November 27, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

    hey Dan, see ya at the council about the suit that said she was pleased with the downward trend in the commercial tax rate, only to be followed by two business owners and the president of Berkshire Hills, one who said we were near the highest in the state and not happy at all.

  8. Ron Kitterman
    November 27, 2012 at 6:22 pm # Pittsfield Sets 2012 Tree-Lighting Ceremony Hard to be PC in Pittsfield the headline calls it a tree lighting ceromony, the article refers to it as a Christmas tree and they are asking for donations to go to the Christian Center. Sometimes I think we are way to sensitive not just a local thing for sure.

  9. Jonathan Melle
    November 27, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    Pittsfield needs a lot of work. Pouring millions of dollars into North Street hasn’t made Pittsfield a better place for residents and businesses. Jimmy Ruberto should put a statue of himself up in the middle of North Street with his middle finger against all of the taxpayers.

  10. Evian
    November 27, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

    Councilors and mayordid it to us again, our taxes are going up up up.

    • dusty
      November 28, 2012 at 2:19 am #

      And since no one wanted to make any serious cuts in the school department I will be voting to replace the mayor and several others next time around. Totally disappointed and feeling lied to (again) We need a mayor with serious gonads and I am not sure such a person exists in the area.

      • Kevin
        November 28, 2012 at 6:22 am #

        Me too Dusty

  11. Giacometti
    November 27, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

    No need to buy a Powerball ticket…..the GOB’s have secret lottery where anyone in Pittsfield can win up to $ 2,000 just for applying….and your chances of winning are 50 to 1…they keep it a secret so that no one but their friends will apply.

  12. tito
    November 27, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

    Dan has the best logic, it seems whenever there is a question of tax increase, the free cash amount seems to play into the scheme of things. Maintaining the five million in free cash seems to protect us from our bond rating, etc. what Dan is right about is the bulge in the school department budget, there could be cuts there, but even then, they will tell you we need good schools and have to invest in them.

    • GMHeller
      November 28, 2012 at 2:39 am #

      Funny how ‘the children’ are always used as props by the school department to cadge whatever sums it wants out of Pittsfield’s suckers to pay those ever higher salaries and ever greater benefits to the teachers — and even more to those oh-so-hardworking school administrators (the ones who give sweetheart deals and free home construction to their secretaries).
      Why, if the rate of inflation, is near flat (according to Uncle Sam) does anyone in city government deserve a 16% raise?

      Also, ever notice how union bosses never drive around in anything less than a late-model Cadillac or Lexus?
      Gee, now from where do union bosses get their six-figure salaries?
      And remember, Pittsfield’s ‘reform-minded’ new Mayor, Dan Bianchi, went along with all this.

  13. Randy Savage
    November 28, 2012 at 6:17 am #

    Dusty you are wrong about the school department cuts and raises. Christine Yon has been raising this issue since she has been on the council and said it again last night. She gave the figures last night loud and clear. Expenses in the budget are raising 2.2 million dollars. Thus the taxes raise. She also stated 2 million of that expense will be allocated to pay for school department raises; teacher’s contract. Two weeks ago our new fiscal responsible Mayor Bianchi told the council how great the new teacher’s contract is. Thanks for the tax raise Dan.

  14. Tony
    November 28, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    Sherman and Yon asked for a $400,000 cut in the school budget last year and got voted down.