Article

QUICK HITS AND HOT LICKS LOOKS AT THE PITTSFIELD SCHOOL COMMITTEE, THE UEP, NOT-FOR-PROFITS, TRAFFIC LIGHTS, and SCREEN PLAYS

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, DATE, 2012) — Let’s close out 2012 with Quick Hits and Hot Licks, to help reduce the number of stories that are flying in a holding pattern over THE PLANET, seeking permission to land.

Before that, though, THE PLANET wishes all of you a happy, safe, and healthy New Year. Thank you, all, friend and foe alike, for your readership and contributions. This website has grown to a level that we did not expect nor did we anticipate. We have come to a “tipping point” place, where We the People — through their readership and contributions to the Public Discussion — are beginning to get the playing field a bit more level. This site has, for better or worse (and we think overwhelmingly for the better) become a factor in decision making process of local government. We aim to keep the pressure on, the accountability high, and the B.S. low.

—– 00 —–

GOT YOURSELF A GUN — Here’s why gun control will never work.

1. Unless the human heart is mended, now legislation will stop the misuse of firearms.

2. Social engineering as dictated from Washington can only be faltering and flawed.

3. Both sides of the left and right have it wrong. Liberals are wrong. More gun control will not prevent future Sandy Hooks. Conservatives are wrong. More gun control will not limit constitutionally protected right.

4. America is obsessed with guns. That’s not a gun problem. That’s a human problem.

5. No action is worse than bad action.

6. Laws cannot legislate ethics and morality.

7. Such panicked discussions for “more gun control” always come after the fact.

8. Violent videogames are likely more responsible for gun violence than guns themselves.

9. If we impose a police state, yes, there will be less violence. But at what cost, freedom?

10. Every law will have loopholes.

11. More gun control laws will be an exercise in emotion, a “feel good” effort and little else.

—– 00 —–

PAY THEM WHAT THEY’RE WORTH — There is a move underway to see that school committee members and city councilors be compensated at an equal rate. Presently in the city of Pittsfield, councilors are paid $8,000 a year ($10,000 for president), while school committee members served voluntarily, that is, they make nothing for their public service. THE PLANET agrees that the situation should change, and that both boards be put into fiscal alignment. Pay both boards, council and committee, nothing. Consequently, we would support making the 11 council positions voluntary as well. Pay them both equally with the currency of public service. Let serving alone be their reward and compensation. For the job that both boards have been doing lately, one might argue that paying them nothing might be too expensive. We wonder if it might be wise to charge councilors and school committee members for the privilege of serving.

—– 00 —–

DECIDING NOT TO DECIDE — The school committee’s list of failures would choke Mr. Ed, from the profligate bonuses to Contractgate, from the kangaroo trial of Terry Kinnas to Tailgate-gate, from an unaffordable new teachers’ contract to its handling of the superintendent’s search.  Naturally, when it came time for the school committee to make a decision on the fate of vocational education, it decided not to decide. It put off until next year the future of vocational education. The administration has proposed dumping metal fabrication and auto body while adding barbering, early childhood education, and electrical work. Auto body advocates have rallied to save the program. Must be all that free work administrators and teachers get on their Lexuses.

—– 00 —–

TWO-FACED STANCE BY UEP — The fabulous Pittsfield School Department, which eats up 70% of a $133 million budget and continues see performance declining, loves to have us believe that everything is great. When the United Educators of Pittsfield refused to sign off on an application for a $20 million grant for which Pittsfield had qualified, the administration in the form of interim supt. Gordon Noseworthy blasted the decision. But when the city council invited the union and the administration to offer the taxpayers of Pittsfield the opportunity to explain what happened and why, both snubbed the council. “Why aren’t they able to stand side-by-side and give their story?” asked John Krol, Ward 6 councilor who initiated the invitation, unanimously endorsed by the council. “This is not a firing squad. It’s time for an adult discussion on this.” When teachers were looking for an extra $2 million from the council, however, they showed up in force, and in person, to pressure the pols for their dough, screw taxpayers. Maybe it’s time to form a firing squad — cream pies fired from a Moe Howard howitzer right into their kissers.

—– 00 —–

FASHION FAUX PAS — Picking up on a comment left on this site a little while back, and following the inept presentation of “The Persecution and Trial of Terry Kinnas as Performed by the Inmates of the Pittsfield Public School System,” when Kathy Yon has the nerve to lecture Terry Kinnas that he must be aware of how he presents himself in public, perhaps she should pay more attention to what’s she’s saying. The school committee might consider hiring a fashion consultant to inform Yon that she’s well past the age where miniskirts and high heels are appropriate for a public meeting. In fact, she’s well past the age where that kind of dress is appropriate anywhere in public. Yes, we know that taste is personal, but even Jeannie C. Riley would show up to such a meeting dressed in a more business-like fashion. Kathy should take a fashion lesson from her sister, Chris, councilor in Ward 1, who always looks the part.

—– 00 —–

TAXING NOT-FOR-PROFITS — Mayor Dan Bianchi is interested in having non-profit organizations kick in more to the city’s treasury. Not a bad idea, one that THE PLANET raised last year in a series of articles exposing the “Not-For-Profit” scamming that takes place in Pittsfield, one that takes more than 25% of city property off the tax rolls. Bianchi is responding to a petition from the city council (initiated by the songbird duo of Krol and Melissa Mazzeo). The petition calls for the creation of a “working group” to investigate setting up a voluntary “payment in lieu of taxes” (PILOT) system. The petition is a move in the right direction, but it comes off as too tenuous and timid. If enacted, this will another of those issues that will be “studied to death.” The better approach would be a more comprehensive review of every non-profit in the city. Each should be called into the city council to defend its current tax-exempt status. Councilors, with mayoral input, could then make a decision up or down on the retention of tax-exempt status. If one sets up a voluntary PILOT system, one of two things will happen: Either the non-profit will choose not to participate or, if it does, it will make a token payment, a pittance, compared to what its actual tax liability would be.

—– 00 —–

IT AIN’T THE SIGNALS; IT’S THE DRIVERS —  The state Department of Transportation will be putting in a fancy-schmancy new traffic light cluster at the busy Holmes Road/Route 20 intersection. The Humdinger Lighting comes after a series of crashes at the junction. THE PLANET won’t bother explaining the new complicated, multi-arrowed traffic lights (said to be the first of its kind in the state), other than to say the new signal will likely lead to more confusion on the part of drivers and, therefore, more incidents. In a sense, this provides a classic example of The State over-reacting to a problem and thereby exacerbating it. Government and politicians love to respond in this way, because it creates what they think is the comforting illusion that they are “doing something.” PLANET to State: It’s not the signals that are causing accidents. It’s the stupid and careless drivers out there.

—– 00 —–

YEAH, BUT WHO SCREENS THE SCREENERS? — The Pittsfield School Committee, which botched its first search for a superintendent, is at it again, as we all know. The Ship of Fools has named its superintendent screening committee, top heavy with GOBs The screeners will sift through applicants (there are now 15). Heading up the screeners? None other than the mustachioed one, former supt. Bill Travis. Can you see the problem here, folks? When you have the Frito Bandito out to pick the new sheriff, it’s time to reach for a different snack food. Other members of the committee include school committee member Kathy Amuso, Stearns School principal Jean Bednarski, two teachers (Joe Maffuccio and Gina Gazzaniga) special ed director Stephanie Case, parent Kellie Meisi, Chamber head Mike Supranowitz, and Van Shields, director of the Berkshire Museum. Bill Travis? Mike Supranowitz? Stop right there and ask yourself how any group with these two GOBs on it can ever approve a superintendent who will be anything other than provide what we have had in the past: a string of yes men willing to perpetuate, not prosecute, the perpetual gravy train that is public education in Pittsfield. Taxpayers, hang on to those wallets and purses.

————————————————————————–

AND WHEN THE NEW YEAR ENDED, WE FOUND OURSELVES BEFRIENDED, BY A WALKING VISION, INTENDED TO LOVE ME. SO SPLENDID.

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

60 Responses to “QUICK HITS AND HOT LICKS LOOKS AT THE PITTSFIELD SCHOOL COMMITTEE, THE UEP, NOT-FOR-PROFITS, TRAFFIC LIGHTS, and SCREEN PLAYS”

  1. Tim Bartini
    December 31, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    Dan. [REDACTED, IRRELEVANT AND NOT ON TOPIC] Happy New Year.

    • danvalenti
      December 31, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

      TIMMY
      Same to you. Stay on topic in 2013, OK?

      • Tim Bartini
        December 31, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

        Dan I was being sarcastic . You made fun of Ms. Yon and her mini skirt. The aging hippy look might seem the same.

        • danvalenti
          December 31, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

          Noted, Timmy. I laugh, though, at the phrase “aging hippie.” First, I was never one in the first place. Second, ex-hippies aren’t the only ones aging. We’re all doing it, day by day. All the more reason to be square. Thanks and happy New Year.

    • Scott
      January 1, 2013 at 8:00 am #

      How dare you blasphemer our Messiah! 20 hail Valenti’s!

  2. Mike Ward
    December 31, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    It’s not in the city’s power to compel non-profits to pay property tax.

    • danvalenti
      December 31, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

      MIKE
      That’s up to interpretation. According to tax code, “non-profit” designation is granted only by inference from the code (Sec. 501(c)). The power of local communities, which are the most affected through loss of tax revenue, has, amazingly enough, never been decided in court. Precedent would suggest that locally (through home rule, in most cases), a city could make the determination of what constituted “not for profit” — either with an outright finding or with a form of “compulsory” PILOT.

  3. Twist
    December 31, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    fungus….fungi
    Lexus…. Lexi? (Lexuses)

    either way, something is rotten in Denmark

    • danvalenti
      December 31, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

      TWIST
      Right one.
      Haiku. Haikai.
      Feniculi. Feniculae.

  4. joetaxpayer
    December 31, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

    Mike why not ask? What do we have to lose.Happy New Year everyone, stay safe. Thanks for this site Dan.

    • Mike Ward
      December 31, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

      Agreed, JT. I’m optimistic that the non-profits will recognize the stake they have in the city’s success. I believe they can be inspired to participate.

      • danvalenti
        December 31, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

        MIKE
        I agree with that assessment. A determined and constructive dialogue along these lines is possible, and it could yield much benefit.

      • Tim Bartini
        December 31, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

        Mike I totally agree!

    • danvalenti
      December 31, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

      JOE
      Thanks, my good friend.

  5. Kevin
    December 31, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    Wishing the best to you and yours Dan, enjoy the day off! Here is some Interesting reading on the video game Correlation,

    http://www.killology.org/article_teachkid.htm

    • danvalenti
      December 31, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

      Thank you, KEV.

    • Joe Blow
      December 31, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

      It’s easy to blame video games but the fact of the matter is parents are letting their kids play mature rated games. The breakdown of the family in the US is the cause of a lot of the problems in our society….not games of movies.

    • Joe Blow
      December 31, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

      Penn and Teller did a episode of B.S. on video game violence.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaF9nbLo8as

      • Scott
        December 31, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

        Video games, movies and the media all have a part in the glorification of violence especially towards woman in the movies and on T.V. However the percentage of people that it effects negatively is small. The experts are saying that murder is at an all time low at this point in history. WMAC had the Dr. on and the Eagle covered the same story. The best thing for child which also studies would support is being raised by both parents who have an active involvement in all aspects of their life. Let them play call of duty but teach them to respect life themselves and other people. Sounds simple and abstract written down in a post but a lot of parents are slacking these days. They’re oblivious to what their kids are doing.

        • danvalenti
          December 31, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

          Which Doctor is that? Herr Doktor? Seig Heil, which is so characteristic of a Cult of Personality. Valid point about absentee parents.

          • Scott
            December 31, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

            No not Chartock it was a guest on the show. I’ve been impressed with them on the second amendment coverage and discussions. they have been treading very lightly. They even had a girl do a story on firearms education.

        • Kevin
          January 1, 2013 at 5:58 am #

          The murder rates are down but we presently live in the most violent time in history.

      • Kevin
        January 1, 2013 at 6:17 pm #

        Penn and Teller was canceled, that was a pretty poor exposé of the issue, Read that I said correlation?

    • Scott
      January 1, 2013 at 8:22 am #

      this is an excellent study I am reading it aloud to my 11 year old now and discussing violence and culture. We don’t have cable T.V. And although I do allow video games it is supervised and screened. (I didn’t let him play modern warfare 2 where the terrorist go through an airport and do a mass shooting I was pleased that there were parental controls to skip that mission. Playing it myself I was shacked.) we played sonic the hedgehog, Mario bros and had spider-man among others to idolize. Now we worship war and soldiers. There’s a book called generation X I’ve been meaning to read. This is a perfect example on why gun control won’t work. It’s like getting off opiates and switching to cocaine.

      • danvalenti
        January 1, 2013 at 9:56 am #

        SCOTT
        You are a wise and good dad, to read this with your 11-yr-old. Parental involvement, through love, is the greatest safeguard against cultural violence.

  6. C Trzcinka
    December 31, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    Happy New Year to all!

    Keep the Planet going…

    • danvalenti
      December 31, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

      Much appreciated, CT.

  7. Magic
    December 31, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

    Happy New Year So glad I found this site

  8. Mr. X
    December 31, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    Right on! No pay for city councilors or school committee, no bene’s, no nuttin! Just your chance to be a tv star, no charge. Be the ultimate volunteer for the greater good of Pittsfield!

  9. Gene
    December 31, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    Love the idea DV. They want equal pay? Make both council and ]school committee volunteer. Save the city more than $100,000.

    • Dave
      December 31, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

      I think the best reason given by any member of the current school committee supporting a stipend for the school committee had to be by the almighty Alf. He stated it might “encourage a higher caliber of candidates”. I am only going off a published quote in the Gazette, which didn’t mention if he had qualified that remark with a wink wink nod nod- “I don’t mean you guys,except for Mr. Kinnas)., but wow, I don’t know how I would take that remark if I was currently serving.

      • dusty
        January 1, 2013 at 4:23 am #

        i like Dan s term, “ship of fools”. Alf and his ditto heads are on the school committee for all the wrong reasons. If you really want people who care then you do not pay them at all. That is how you sort out who really cares about the children and not the top loaded administrators and their hefty price tags. It is about the children isn’t it Alf? You do remember the children involved in all this right? It does not appear that way at all from where I stand.

        • danvalenti
          January 1, 2013 at 10:04 am #

          “Ship of fools.” Yes, i’m partial to that one myself, and don’t be surprised if that becomes the tag for any public body that acts in a way that insults the intelligence of Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski, for example, the Pittsfield School Committee or the Reid Middle School Council’s Subcommittee on Community Outreach.

        • debbie
          January 2, 2013 at 7:41 am #

          Alf is a big fat ball of wasted hot air! …He doesn’t have children. He has no idea what is best for children in the school system. After all his Daddy has bought his way into every step he has taken.. Get of your power trip Alf! Its 2013 and the people of Pittsfield are sick of your Bulling personality. Got it, get it and get the hell of the power trp!

  10. chuck garivaltis
    December 31, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    Dan
    To you and yours I want to wish you a Happy New Year. You deserve it. The Planet is a tremendously popular and important community resource. It’s wonderful exchanging ideas and interests with people of intelligence and community knowledge. Thank you for providing this service to us. And you don’t charge us. Thanks, Dan.
    Again, Happy New Year.

    • danvalenti
      December 31, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

      Thanks, CHUCK. You’ve always been one of my Pittsfield heroes, and as such, this means a lot. Best to you and yours for 2013.

    • dbdog
      January 1, 2013 at 4:19 am #

      I agree Dan. You’re doing us all a great service by providing informed opinion and facts that we might never get otherwise. Letting us vent (responsibly) helps us all in more ways than you might know.
      Please keep it up.
      Hope you all enjoy a happy and prosperous 2013.

      • danvalenti
        January 1, 2013 at 10:05 am #

        Thanks, Dog.

    • dusty
      January 1, 2013 at 4:29 am #

      I am also grateful for the Planet. But truthfully I don’t see where it is influencing local govt policy. They are just as corrupt today as when Dan s site opened for business and being exposed for their asinine behavior seems not to have deterred them one iota. They may even be getting worse, reveling in the fact that they seem to be untouchable. Apparently even public embarrassment cannot slow the greedy folk.

      • danvalenti
        January 1, 2013 at 10:03 am #

        DUSTY
        All fair and good points. I think our influence has come about through the process of revelation, the one to which you refer. We have a more informed electorate now that we did before we revved up this site. The public embarrassments continue like a hit parade, that is true, and to change that will take more time, in part, because “They” [i.e., the GOB, Vested Interests, Establishment, Status Quo — whatever you wish to call them] are notoriously slow and dumb when it comes to reading the undercurrents. They are short sighted surface dwellers. Deterrence can only come in the form of civic engagement by all of us. If we can drive up voting by even 10%, we could begin to clean up Pittsfield. At 20%, we could make HUGE changes. At 30%, we’d have “Them” soiling their diapers.

        • Scott
          January 1, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

          I never voted in my life before reading this blog. It diesn’t mean I vote for who you endorse but I feel better equipped to vote thank you!

  11. tito
    December 31, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    The second comment on Dan was worst than the first.

  12. Scott
    December 31, 2012 at 9:59 pm #

    Happy New Year! (The planet is two hours behind!)

    • danvalenti
      January 1, 2013 at 10:05 am #

      We are always on local time!

      • Scott
        January 1, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

        Maybe in physical existence but I posted @ 11.59 and it shows 9:59

  13. Joe Pinhead
    January 1, 2013 at 5:54 am #

    Happy New Year and thanks for all the hard work Dan The planet has become a sore spot for some and a source spot for others. Keep up the great work

  14. Kim Geranios
    January 1, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

    Is it true that the city councilors receive city health insurance as well? I heard that once elected, they are entitled to receive it for life. If so, that would save a boatload of cash.

    • danvalenti
      January 1, 2013 at 4:55 pm #

      KIM
      Yes. Councilors are considered city employees. They are eligible for health insurance, courtesy of the taxpayers. At six years, they are vested, so to speak, with the health insurance privilege. Again, taxpayers foot the bill. Not bad, eh? $8,000 plus benefits for meeting twice a month (once a month during summer).

      • jlo
        January 2, 2013 at 6:17 am #

        Dan, you may have missed it, but State Law was changed three years ago. The new law states that you need ten years of service to qualify for lifetime health insurance benefits.

        For some Councilors, past and present, Health Insurance benefits have been a huge help. Personally, I have never taken the City Insurance. The irony (of course) is the cost of a family plan health benefit far exceeds the value of the $8000 salary provided. For those who sign up for the family plan insurance from the City, over 60% of their pay is expended to cover the employees share of the premium. After taxes and withholdings, I have seen Councilors essentially working only for the Health Insurance benefit.

        Personally, I would be more interested in forgoing this particular benefit, in favor of higher salary, but no health insurance benefits. This would provide a more equal value of the compensation provided. Health Insurance benefits for City Councilors have been around from the time when their cost was relatively small, and consumed much less cash than today’s expenses.

        • danvalenti
          January 2, 2013 at 7:12 am #

          Thanks, J-LO, for the information.

        • dusty
          January 2, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

          So I wonder just what the reasons people bend over backwards to get on the city council are. Why would some councilors spend so much money, time and effort to get elected to the Pittsfield city council? What is the big attraction jlo? Please don’t give me Kerwoods answer of wanting “to give back to the city”. That is a pure and unadulterated bullshit answer.

  15. tito
    January 1, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

    Does anyone know what time it is? Does anyone really care, about time?

  16. joetaxpayer
    January 1, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    I do, as Faith Baldwin said “Time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations”. Pittsfield could use some major alterations.

    • danvalenti
      January 1, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

      The only reason time exists, as Einstein observed, is so that everything doesn’t happen all at once.

  17. Scott
    January 2, 2013 at 7:22 am #

    Here’s a good article for anyone interested.

    http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/an-opinion-on-gun-control/

  18. teecha teecha
    January 2, 2013 at 10:44 am #

    I wouldn’t trust Stephanie Cases’ opinion on what toilet paper to wipe with, let alone help choose the next superintendant. That committee, aside from Maffucio is a complete sham… nothing new in the pitts!

    and on another note, I agree with John Krol on the grant issue, why can’t they come together? easy, it’s all shady under the pines of the union.

  19. Tim
    January 2, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    Hopefully the council remembers this snub the next time budget approval or special funding requests come along.

    Also, i dont think that early education is really a vocational program… Certainly a career where hands-on experience is important though. We should be encouraging these students to be on the college readiness track.

    Likewise, barbering? In lieu of a more traditional vocational program? More preparation for a service-based economy. Not that there is much of an industry based economy to prepare for…

    Lastly, dan, i agree both sides of the gun control issue are wrong… But going with the video games excuse? Come on really? These video games are all over the world, yet gun violence is multiple times more prevalent here in the states. A small part of the multi-faceted problem