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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.