PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, DEC. 20, 2012) — Don’t look now, but tomorrow is the End Of Time As We Know It. No, Alf Barbalunga hasn’t won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. No, North Street downtown has not become safe and inviting. And No, Dan Bianchi hasn’t been pictured with Jimmy Ruberto, Gerry Doyle, and Nuclea’s Patrick (“Don’t Look Behind That Curtain” Muraca.

Wait, that last one has actually happened. Bianchi called Muraca’s shell game at PEDA a “magnet.” The problem is what the darn thing will end up attracting. THE PLANET hopes to have more on Nuclea, what appears to be Pittsfield’s latest version of EV Wordwide and Workshop Live!. For now, after some preliminary investigation, let us simply say we’re not buying it. You can make up your own mind.

Better Late than Never

The end of the world has been predicted by knuckleheads, shysters, and doomsayers more times than the GOB has picked the pockets of Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski.

The End Times will arrive tomorrow courtesy of the Mayan calendar, as you should have known from THE PLANET forecast, reprinted here to remove all doubt:

The Friday temperatures, as you can see, call for a Sunscreen Index of a factor that not even the Pittsfield School Committee or the Taconic High School (“How Dry I Am”) Football Program can match.

It’s going to be a scorcher.

Step well. Step lively. It’s been nice knowing you.



For the second winter in a row, we haven’t had much of a winter, which is good news for those heating bills.

For those who do have trouble with heating their homes, there is help available and THE PLANET shares this information as a community service. We thank Karen Zink, President, Berkshire Gas.

Budget Billing: Berkshire Gas’ Budget Billing Program allows customers to spread energy costs evenly over 12 moths. To learn more, call 1-800-292-5012.

Automatic Payments: Berkshire Gas can automatically deduct the cost of a monthly gas bill from a customer’s savings or checking account, 20 days after billing. Call the same numebr for information.

Budget Payment Plans: These plans allow customers more affordable payments by averaging winter bills with summer bills. Call 1-800-292-5012. There are also provisions for installment payments for overdue balances.

Low-income residents can take advantage of the company’s low-income discount. Call Berkshire Gas for eligibility requirements. In cases of financial hardship, the company has other options to prevent customers from service disconnection.

Families who need help can also tap the resources on one of Berkshire County’s community assistance agencies. These include:

* Berkshire Community Action Council, in Pittsfield at 413-445-5671 and in North Adams at 413-663-3014.

* Good neighbor Energy Fund, administered by the Salvation Army. In Pittsfield call 413-442-0624; Great Barrington, toll free at 1-800262-1320; and in North Adams at 413-663-7987.

* Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority, 1-413-443-7138 x10.



Lost in the “Trial of Terry Kinnas As Performed by the Inmates of the Pittsfield Public School System” was an interesting paragraph in the letter of Glen Koocher, the city of Pittsfield’s consultant from the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, to Pittsfield school committee chairman Alf Barbalunga.

After having condemned Kinnas, a man with whom Koocher has no acquaintance and little knowledge (“talks at excessive length,” “delays the conduct of business,” “antagonistic public comments,” evasive and often hostile interrogation of staff at meetings,” “probing into areas of administrative operation”), Koocher writes in classic, practically unintelligible bureaucratspeak:

The Purple Prose of Hoochie Koocher

“MASC is also often consulted about strategies for dealing with outlier board members behaviors. We are very careful in this regard because one person’s passionate advocacy and diligent and aggressive work ethic toward their fiduciary responsibilities can be another observer’s “micromanagement,” “inappropriate intrusion,” or manifestation of some other perceived undesirable conduct. In a democracy, one must balance the rights of elected officials and the public to behave without restrictions or to speak freely even if this deportment has a detrimental effect upon productive meetings and public credibility. It often falls upon the chair to address and control disruptive and inappropriate behavior as state law provides and as Robert’s Rules of Order guides you.”

If a student of mine had written this garbage, we would have tossed it back, “Return to Sender.” The gist of this dense, chewy paragraph is that the MASC can write political letters to the local board to help the board police the “squeaky wheels.” (It also convinces us of Koccher’s bone fides as an unimaginative, timid bureaucrat who loves sniffing the jock straps of his superiors).

Koocher strikes us as one of the “diligent” employees who toils in a make-work, patronage job for another unnecessary state office that eats your tax dollars so that those unemployable in the Dreaded Private Sector might have work. … well paying work, with great benefits, at your expense.

THE PLANET notes the date of Koocher’s letter: Dec. 4, or …

— One day after the Reid Middle School Council’s Community Outreach Subcommittee decided, three weeks after the fact, file a letter of complaint about Kinnas’ alleged boorish behavior with Barbalunga and the school committee.

— Four days after former Pittsfield deputy supt. of schools Barbara Malkas, out of the blue and on her own, writes to Barbalunga about (you guseed it) Terry Kinnas “vocal opposition.”

Malkas, the school systems’ answer to the perennial question, “What’s the use?” gushes about her love of free speech at the same time she condemns Kinnas for exercising his. Like a true three-dollar bill, Malkas blasts Kinnas for using his inherent constitutionally guaranteed right to actually question her “personal reputation as an administrator.”

PLANET TO MALKAS: Your reputation as an administrator isn’t all that hot, if you must know. Don’t tempt us to go there further, for there are many interesting stories. Malkas, if you must know, four out of five dentists recommended a pack of sugarless gum over you, Ms. M, to ride heard of the multi-millions of dollars that you found under your control when you rode the gravy train in Pitsfield.

An Orchestrated Effort Against Progress

Notice how all these of these attacks on Kinnas occurred occurred just days before his trial in the Kangaroo Kourt on Dec. 9 at the school committee meeting. It should put to rest any doubt: From start to finish, the attack on Terry Kinnas was a politically motivated smear campaign not-so-carefully orchestrated by those elements in the GOB an the Gravy Train School System who want things to remain the same.

Status Quo is just fine with these dudes, and, fortunately for them, they apparently have a mayor, Dan Bianchi, who’s willing to play along by looking the other way and pretending that progress is being made. Bianchi just negotiated a 10% to 16% three-year pay raise for teachers. He hasn’t done a thing about getting to the bottom of the missing $9,000 in prom money at PHS, looks the other way about Tailgate-gate at THS, and, on the evening of Kinnas’ phony trial, arranges his schedule just so, in other that he should not be present when the knife is plunged into the back.

There will be no progress in Pittsfield as long as the Pittsfield School System remains the way it is. Until that is cleaned up, it’s every taxpayer for him and herself. City and school officials sure don’t care about taxpayers. Meanwhile, we must resist attempts of carpetbaggers like Koocher and Malkas — who have no official standing in Pittsfield — to be budinskys in the business of We The People.

Koocher, Malkas, and your type: Butt the hell out of We The People’s business. Schools should be LOCALLY run.

A municipal election is coming up, and THE PLANET intends to see that, as regards to the schools, it is one like no other.



THE PLANET has yet to hear from THS principal John Vosburgh over our inquiry into Tail-gate. He has one more day.

We have shared all of our findings with the school, asking them to correct the information if and where it needs correction. If we don’t hear the school, as we have told the public, including the THS administration, we shall take that as a tacit confirmation of the factual nature of what we have learned.

The apologists for the PPS and the “everything is great” crowd might wish this all to be forgotten, but it won’t be. We owe it, yes, to The Children for the truth to come out.






  1. GMHeller
    December 20, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    Eagle Editorial Ridicules Terry Kinnas; Ignores Berkshire County’s Real Scandals

    Isn’t it just like The Berkshire Eagle to accuse and ridicule the accuser rather than to investigate just what it is that Mr. Kinnas has uncovered by his pointed inquiries?
    Still no explanation (nor reportage from The Eagle) as to what happened to $9,000 that mysteriously disappeared from a locked Pittsfield school office; and still no explanation (nor reportage from The Eagle) concerning the ethical sewer that is the Pittsfield School Department which allows the secretary to the assistant school superintendent to obtain no less than $100,000 worth of free student labor to build herself a multi-bedroom house which she may or may not end-up flipping for a whopping profit.
    And since The Eagle chooses to bring up in its editorial the name of School Board Chair Alfred E. Barbalunga: there is still no explanation (nor reportage from The Eagle) concerning Mr. Barbalunga’s own checkered history as an employee of the state Probation Department, who not only got his job as head of Probation in North Adams solely as a result of nepotism (his father served as a Berkshire County District Court judge), but once young ‘Alf’ got the job, he quickly also got the moniker ‘No-Show’ Barbalunga for his incredibly poor attendance record and lousy job performance, nor was there any reportage at the time by The Eagle on how Alf then got REWARDED for his lackluster service with a transfer to be head of Southern Berkshire District Court’s Probation Department with a near DOUBLING of his salary, all this done by now-disgraced former state Probation chief John J. O’Brien (who himself faces a long prison sentence if convicted for rigging the job hiring processes within the scandal-ridden state Probation Department).
    Yet, where is The Eagle in all this, its reporters and editorial staff, and how have these ‘journalists’ managed not to report on any of these things, or only barely mention some of them in passing when reporting on other matters?
    Keep up the good work, Mr. Kinnas!

  2. GMHeller
    December 20, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    Berkshire Eagle Editorial:

    ‘Kinnas makes himself the issue’

    Thursday December 20, 2012

    Pittsfield School Committee member Terry Kinnas’ description of himself last week as “somewhat of a stickler for process” is an understatement to say the least, and there is a role for a stickler. What Mr. Kinnas doesn’t seem to grasp, however, is that he can come across as confrontational and intimidating, and in so doing he becomes the issue, not whatever perceived wrong that he is trying to make right.

    The Committee voted to reprimand Mr. Kinnas, with his the only vote in opposition, after eight members of the Reid Middle School Council complained about his “threatening” behavior at a recent meeting at Reid. Mr. Kinnas said he found the doors to the school locked when he arrived for the 3 p.m. meeting and filed an Open Meeting Law complaint against the group. School Board Chairman Alfred Barbalunga complained at last week’s meeting about Mr. Kinnas’ “gotcha-type behavior” and other incidents involving the outspoken committee member.

    Mr. Kinnas has long been involved in school and city politics and it is clear he is a skeptic in these matters. But a locked door does not necessarily indicate a scandal and the inadequate notice of a meeting doesn’t necessarily spell cover-up. He may find that if he does uncover a truly serious matter that his credibility has been shot because of his past over-reactions.

    It is difficult enough to find volunteers to serve on groups like the Reid Middle School
    Council without subjecting them to tirades and accusations. The School Committee was right to reprimand Mr. Kinnas and ideally he will ask himself if he is truly helping the city and his own cause.<<<<<


  3. dc
    December 20, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    The eagle editor says “It is difficult enough to find volunteers to serve on groups like the Reid Middle School Council without subjecting them to tirades and accusations” but doesn’t mention the difficulty in finding qualified and dedicated school committee members. Did they forget Mr. Kinnas is a volunteer too? Somehow it’s ok to subject Mr. Kinnas to “tirades and accusations”, but nobody else.

  4. FPR
    December 20, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

    Hey Dan,

    It was proven awhile back that they were mistaken about the Mayan calendar ending tomorrow. They have other Mayan writings that show it continues on “like turning a page”.

    Take a look:

    The trial of Terry Kinnas is an interesting one indeed. The GOB will stop at nothing to discredit him and remove him. The people should really step up and help him. The Berkshire Eagle’s support of such behavior is disgusting to say the least.

  5. dusty
    December 20, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    One thing the gob understands is money. Perhaps a boycott of something they cherish is in line. Any ideas?

    • FPR
      December 20, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

      Good thinking dusty. Perhaps a class or some education is in order on how to file an ethics violation complaint. Procedural processes on how to make effective (not frivolous) use of the State attorney generals office.

      Much like how Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson use their knowledge to file lawsuits against corporations and companies in racial discrimination cases. Its how they earn their living. Somewhat like legal extortion.

      If people know how to file these complaints and get results, perhaps there would be far less closed door meetings and ethics violations such as using Taconic High school slave labor in a rigged bidding process.

      Perhaps Terry Kinnas could teach such a class or even Dan Valenti and maybe a lawyer or two. Perhaps even publish this information on a blog and link to it here.
      Giving power to the people.

      Just some ideas.

    • billy
      December 23, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

      dusty please stop talking in general terms. if you refer to GOB have the courage to state them by name.instead of these shadowy figures and divisive non constructive statements .

  6. Mr. X
    December 20, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    Isn’t that great how Ole Buffy says the Laliberte Toy Fund is in a ‘reorganization’ stage and donations are not being accepted this year, when what’s really happening is the books are frozen while the Feds investigate, among other things, his 33 year reign of handling the fund.

  7. Joe Blow
    December 20, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

    I like the job Mr. Kinnas does but he should have picked a more important battle to fight. Both sides in this come off badly.

    • Dave
      December 20, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

      Sadly, he has fought many a fight only to be outvoted by the masses. This is not a fight he brought on,It was in defense of actions taken against him. When people start complaining about too much information, or asking too many questions, you have to wonder why. Did anyone on the school committee ask what was on the agenda that day? Did anyone really care? I don’t think that this has no bearing on the vote that they took. Even the hit squad from Reid never mentioned the purpose of the meeting, which by all intents and purposes was not legit. We wonder why we cannot get candidates for office that could possibly change things for the better in this incestually toxic town-Example A-The Terry Kiinas reprimand. Buck the system than BUCK YOU.

    • echo
      December 20, 2012 at 7:35 pm #

      I agree..he needs to review the “pete arlos” playbook and pull it back a notch..

  8. ShirleyKnutz
    December 20, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

    Was the Reid meeting really with volunteers or were they teachers? Also the committee for the Supt is made of of teachers/school personnel instead of the public who is theoretically hiring.

  9. Rick Wide
    December 20, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

    The Reid meeting was with a mix of teachers and volunteers one of whom is married to a teacher. They have an “open meeting” with locked doors and no signs, as we read on The Planet, then they complain three weeks later becasue their “feelings” are hurt and idiots on the school board including the chair idiot take up the complaint and side with them. Screw them. Terry Kinnas is the only public servant looking out for the people.

  10. Wet Blanket
    December 20, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    Breaking News! One of our “sources” has just provided us with the double-secret agenda to the Reid council subcommittee meeting:

    1. Executive Session. Lock the doors to prevent Terry Kinnas from attending. Good. Now the volunteer “Hit Squad” can get on with our real GOB agenda.

    2. Raise taxes on everyone in Pittsfield–because we can

    3. Increase teacher salaries by 100%

    4. Constitutional amendment which will remove Dan Valenti’s first amendment rights

    5. Discussion on location of Jimmy Hoffa’s body

    6. Nomination of Meredith Nilan to the Traffic Commission

    7. Approval of field trip to Area 51 and the Grassy Knoll

    8. Adjournment

    Well, now we know why Terry Kinnas was so interested in this crooked bunch of GOBs. Good work in uncovering this for the good taxpayers of Pittsfield. We are all better off because of your tireless work on our behalf.

    • joetaxpayer
      December 21, 2012 at 6:08 am #

      Wet blanket, funny stuff. The sad thing is there is a list of not so amusing but very true, Pittsfield debacle’s caused by our lack of competent leaders. That list would be much longer than yours.

  11. Peirce Phelps
    December 20, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

    I liked your ridicule on dooms days (today). Here i am sitting in my home reading your blog.

  12. dusty
    December 21, 2012 at 4:56 am #

    I really find it hard to believe that someone would take the time, in lieu of all that is going on in the world today, to write a letter to the Beagle hating on Mr KInnas. Unless of course they were put up to it. So be looking for such names in future gob candidacies for local offices for they are paying their dues now.

  13. Payroll Patriot
    December 21, 2012 at 5:38 am #

    Palookaville Breaking News

    Best political witch hunt awarded to Pittsfield School Committee and the mayor. It is ok to break the law if you are a teacher, administrator or a volunteer. The person who follows the law is in kangaroo court.

    Watched online: The administrator husband of the teacher chairperson signed the complaint and he was not even at the meeting. How can a husband be an administrator in the same building as a teacher wife?

    In looking at the search committee in BB, didn’t Travis have to leave town because of the 2003 and 2006 state audits? And according to BB archivesTravis hired school committee Amuso’s husband at Mt Greylock as business administrator. Both left after short stays. Is the fix in for another political hack?

    There is much more to the witch hunt as a diversion from the drinking, drugs, sex ed, poor scores and the audit.

  14. Mark Smith
    December 21, 2012 at 6:19 am #

    In Reply to Dusty: I agree, Mr. Allshouse appears to have written the letter to the Eagle for ulterior motives. A quick search in, reveals that in 2009, Mr. Allshouse received a special permit, signed by Alf Barbalunga of the Community Development Board, for the construction of a 2 bay garage and screened in porch in a floodplain district. I don’t know if this is typical of the CDB or not, but I would imagine it should have been brought through the Zoning Board instead.

    • GMHeller
      December 21, 2012 at 8:08 am #

      Upon how many boards and commissions does ‘Alf’ Barbalunga sit?
      The guy can’t manage to show up for the official position for which he is paid (hence the moniker ‘No-Show’ Barbalunga that he got as head of Probation in North Adams), but on volunteer boards and commissions, where Alf can wield power and presumably collect favors, Ol’ Alf’s the Democrat to see.

    • dusty
      December 21, 2012 at 9:16 am #

      Great research. So instead of spreading Christmas cheer this guy would rather be smearing well intentioned public servants. Is he just a meany/grinch or is he paying back a special favor?
      You decide.

      • GMHeller
        December 21, 2012 at 9:55 am #

        Well-intentioned public servants?
        If these characters are so ‘well-intentioned’, why don’t they just admit they screwed-up and ‘unintentionally’ violated the Open Meeting Law instead of complaining about the guy who exposed them and instead of taking revenge on Kinnas by complaining about him to the Pittsfield School Committee.
        Sounds to me like a lot of Berkshire prima donnas refusing to take responsibility for their own stupidity.

  15. Scott
    December 21, 2012 at 9:48 am #

    Is everyone still alive? Scorcher out there today it’s in the 40’s!

  16. billy
    December 23, 2012 at 11:44 pm #

    where has leadership gone in our city?the mayor was not outraged by the the Superintendent and the head of the teachers union snubbing the ruling body of our city to come and answer the reason they turned down applying for a 20 million dollar grant? They all talk about helping the children and bettering the city but are suddenly all speechless. The mayor was busy ribbon cutting on projects he didnt even help create or voted against. he should have gave given credit to the work of the previous mayor and let him get credit for his blood ,sweat,and tears,that would have been the honorable thing to do,it would have allowed him to focus on issues such as the grant..I listened to the mayor when he was running talk about transparency and accountability and working with the council to improve the city and the schools.I have to say he has done very little of any of those. He becomes angry and combative instead of answering legitimate questions.from people who dont all ways share his vision. I yearn for a leader who spends his time building things and working with others who dont see it like he does,but are non the less honorable. ans owns his mistakes as well as any accomplishment.

    • danvalenti
      December 24, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

      There is no leadership. That’s why you and others can’t find it.