PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, JAN. 15, 2013) — Where did the bad idea surface of paying the Pittsfield School Committee members, also known as the Frozen Chozen,  $8,000 to $10,000 a year, this board that presently serves on a volunteer basis? Who thinks the city’s finances are in such great shape that Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski can afford to blow $60,000 on salaries plus benefits? And how much money will adding seven employees to the city payroll impact future unfunded liabilities, a figure that is already in the hundreds of millions.

As Leonard Pinth Garnell might declare of the proposition: “It really sucks.”

‘Strong Support?” You’ve Got to be Kidding Us, Mr. LaPointe

The notion of paying school board members is one of the cranky ideas being kicked around by the Committee of Busybodies, also known as the Pittsfield Charter Review Commission. Busybody chairman Ed LaPointe told the Pittsfield Gazette “there seems to be strong support for paying school committee members.”

“Strong support for paying school committee members?” What support? From whom? Did you canvass a broad cross-section of the Pittsfield electorate, Edmeister? The answer turns out to be “no.”

So how, then, does the Edmeister know there is “strong support” for paying these stiffs? Because four mayors and nine city councilors agree the school board members should be paid. That’s what he told The Gazette. Asking former mayors and city councilors how they feel about paying school committee members is like asking Jaques Cousteau if he think SCUBA diving is a worthwhile activity.

How interesting that LaPointe didn’t once think of asking how The Little Guy feels about this.

Four mayors and nine city councilors does not a a representative group make, unless, of course, you are trolling to find out which way the GOB wind is blowing. It’s blowing gales now, and unless the ordinary citizens of Pittsfield get riled and get off their butts come election time, they will continue to get hosed.

Let me tell you, Fast Eddie and the rest of the GOB Busybodies, that the Little Guy thinks the idea of paying members of the Pittsfield School committee $8,000 to $10,000 plus benefits stinks. To quote Garnell: “It bites the big one.”

The notion should not be put forward. It’s funny how a worthwhile idea (city manager) gets unanimously dismissed while a stupid idea that will only cost taxpayers finds great favor. It demonstrates how far out of touch these jokers are. The city council, the mayor, the Frozen Chozen, the Committee of Busybodies — they are all hopelessly out of touch with what ordinary citizens want for their city.

If you wish to express your opinions on this to the charter review commission members, here’s the list and the contact information:

Edward J. Lapointe, Chair
39 Wellseley Street
Pittsfield, MA 01201

William D. Barry
24 Kittredge Road
Pittsfield, MA 01201
(413) 442-2639

Dianna M. Ferrero
112 Windsor Avenue
Pittsfield, MA 01201

Michael P. Filpi
1083 Cascade Street
Pittsfield, MA 01201
(413) 442-1970 ext. 12

Brad Gordon
101 Doreen Street
Pittsfield, MA 01201
(413) 446-8647

Arthur Jones
207 Pomeroy Avenue
Pittsfield, MA 01201
(413) 822-9279

Victoria Kane
97 Onota Street
Pittsfield, MA 01201

Peter Marchetti, Vice Chair
29 Courtland Place
Pittsfield, MA 01201
(413) 499-7320

Michael J. McCarthy
16 Meadow Ridge Drive
Pittsfield, MA 01201
(413) 499-4400

David W. Murphy, Jr.
41 LeRoi Drive
Pittsfield, MA 01201
(413) 443-5957

Deborah Sadowy
33 Plinn Street
Pittsfield, MA 01201

Catherine VanBramer
Committee Clerk
(413) 499-9361

 Let them know what you think. We’re sure they will be glad to hear from you (yeah, right).
For your information, the charter review committee is scheduled to meet tonight (Jan. 15), and again on Feb. 5, 19, March 7, 19, April 2, 16, May 7, 21, June 4, 18.
That’s a lot of meetings. Don’t you think we should pay them for their time?



We were struck by this comment from yesterday’s PLANET. It’s from billy. Here it is:

Did the charter commission do any research when they decided against a city manager? Did they go to nearby Berkshire towns and see how the it worked? I heard no discussion on how they reached that conclusion.The Berkshire Eagle ran a story about the strong mayor form of government; I walked away laughing at that idea.

The mayor has spent his first term in office blaming any problem he has come across on everyone but himself. The true measure of a leader is responsibility and accountability. The strong mayor form of leadership is ridiculous cause it has a “vice mayor” who could be a political hire and may have no education on how to run the city effectively as a city manger would. The newspaper said it would leave the mayor free to get money and create a vision for the city, but the mayor recently stated he is not good at having his hand out asking for money for the city. I applaud him for saying it but only makes the argument for a professional manger all the more relevant.

The city faces a future of tight budgets and an overtaxed, graying population. The mayor has refused to get out of control spending on the school side under control.  Pittsfield has shrunk from sixty thousand in the GE hay day to a little over forty thousand. yet the school dept has not realized that reality and has only grown. The mayor must make tough decisions size the school system to the population so it is effective and sustainable.

We thank billy for that trenchant commentary.



“I’m going for my colonoscopy.”

“I’m being evicted from my house.”

“I have bulimia.”

“My mother-in-law is moving in with us.”

“I have to put down my only child.”

“Pittsfield is reviewing its charter.”





  1. debbie
    January 15, 2013 at 8:26 am #

    I can solve the problem. Set a date and have all tax payers vote for a new volunteer school committee board and get rid of these system suckers once and for all! As far as Alf spend your time in your office helping your short staff Probation Officer’s. In other words Alf do some work and stop hiding behind closed doors doing.? School Committee work.

  2. debbie
    January 15, 2013 at 8:35 am #

    I can solve the problem. Set a date and have all tax payers vot for a new volunteer school committee board and get rid of the buddy system . Kinnas stays. As far as Alf spend your time in your office helping your short staff Probation Officer’s. In other words Alf do some work and stop hiding behind closed doors doing.? School Committee work.

  3. money mad
    January 15, 2013 at 9:10 am #

    Instead of getting money maybe they ought to pay the city back for all past lawsuit settlements and for those in the pipeline. It would be interesting to know how much money has been paid out in the last five or ten years due to their decisions.

    • danvalenti
      January 15, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

      Yes, good points. Payback time should come, we hope, in the municipal elections later this year.

  4. Scott
    January 15, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    I’ll send in a couple HELL NO’s to the lead chairmen and others!

    • Magic
      January 15, 2013 at 9:42 am #

      So will I

      • danvalenti
        January 15, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

        SCOTT & MAGIC
        Great. We encourage everyone to send a little note to the charter review dudes.

  5. dbdog
    January 15, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    No one asked me. I think there are enough things out there that I help pay for that don’t work.

  6. Spagirl
    January 15, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    No..No..No… a CITY MANAGER!! paying School Comittee Members!

    • danvalenti
      January 15, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

      Thanks, SPAGIRL

  7. Blind Justice
    January 15, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

    Hi Dan, just wondering?

    I feel public servants do not need payment.

    Why a vice mayor? Mayor in place is in-competent?

    This is the same analogy to a Town Manager.

    If the selectpersons cannot do their job, why WASTE $100K????

    Mary Jane and Joe want to know?

    • danvalenti
      January 15, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

      Thanks for your contributions to the discussion.

  8. Gene
    January 15, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    Great piece, DV. The “system suckers” as debbie above put it is a perfect phrase. Dan, will you consider running for mayor?

    • debbie
      January 15, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

      Dan should run. He has my vote. Finally, we would a person in office who is honest and balanced. If not we should consider selling our homes and stop supporting Pittsfield. They cant take your tax money if you don’t live here.

  9. danvalenti
    January 15, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

    I am not ruling it out. I will go that far. If I lose my mind completely, the answer will be yes. And you know what: If I run, I will win. That’s probably the greatest deterrent in my thinking right now.

    • debbie
      January 15, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

      Yes you will and we as in the “People” will support you. I can’t wait to clean up this town and take it back. 2013 is going to be a great year!…….just ask Alf!…Its called karma and your all done sucking the tax payers dry. Omg having a hard time watching live Pittsfield ETV….Its like watching Robin hood. Alf looks like his pockets are over flowing with our tax money. His cheeks look a little fuller too. I wonder how much time “State time ” minutes Alf used on his day job today for this meeting?

  10. Dave
    January 15, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    The sad (or ironic) part of the push to get pay for the school committee is that it could be that one hot button issue that makes all these meetings by the review committee a total waste of time. I thought the main charge of this committee was to update the charter into 21st century language, maybe make a few changes where necessary. How did it morph into expanding Government with new positions and paying previously unpaid positions.It is actually a good thing though, because the voters will have a say, unlike prior times when new positions were only changes in name and higher salary that was only accountable to the administration. If they insist on pushing the pay for the school committee and it gets defeated, all the other work was for nothing.

    • danvalenti
      January 15, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

      It morphed into expanding government because that was the hidden intention all along. The “Charter Review” commission is nothing more than the GOBs attempt to see if it might start venturing into “Civic Authority” land. Voters, BEWARE!!

  11. Blind Justice
    January 15, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    Hi Dan, just wondering?

    I feel public servants do not need payment.

    Why a vice mayor? Mayor in place is in-competent?

    This is the same analogy to a Town Manager.

    If the selectpersons cannot do their job, why WASTE $100K????

    Mary Jane and Joe want to know?
    Been there done that

    • Blind Justice
      January 15, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

      Got a Clue?

  12. Blind Justice
    January 15, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    Gee Dan,

    it looks like NAZI hmarnagning.

    Help an American like me?

  13. joetaxpayer
    January 15, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    Simply, vote NO to grow gov’t..Time to make cuts not add pork. Money is not the deterent, it is the attitude of some of the members thats keep good people from running.

  14. FPR
    January 15, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    Didn’t the former Mayor Ruberto hire a second Mayor from North Adams to ride around with a plow truck a couple of times and point out that two street lights were out on North St.

    Did the taxpayers have any say on that? What did it cost $35,000 a year for a couple of years?

    So what’s another $60,000 a year to pay the school committee?
    All you gotta do is just raise taxes again. You can have Melissa Mazzeo just say “we have to”. “We have no choice” and that makes it all better right?

    • Scott
      January 15, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

      John Barrett (former N. Adams mayor who was elected out after a long enough term to make the most honest man corrupt.) was a “consultant”. At least he was equipped with his own ladle!

  15. Joe Blow
    January 15, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

    This state is doomed taxes,fee’s and more taxes. Gov. Patrick a.k.a. Obama Jr. just proposed a huge transportation plan but left out how he is gonna fund it. Here are some of the idea’s being floated….

    — Raising the state’s 21 cents per gallon gasoline tax, which has not changed since 1991. To raise $1 billion a year, the tax would have to be raised by 30 cents per gallon to 51 cents per gallon, making it the highest gas tax in the nation.

    — Raising the state sales tax. To generate $1 billion for transportation, the rate would have to increase from the current 6.25 percent to 7.7 percent.

    – Increasing the income tax. An 8 percent increase in the tax, from the current 5.25 percent to 5.66 percent, would generate $1 billion.

    – Imposing an annual 2.4 cents per mile “vehicle miles traveled tax.” This tax would be collected from vehicle owners during the annual safety inspection, or by use of an onboard device that records the miles the vehicle travels in a year.

    – Imposing a so-called green fee, based upon a vehicle’s
    carbon emissions.

    — Regular and frequent increases in public transit fares, tolls and other so-called user fees. For example, MBTA fares and Massachusetts Turnpike tolls would climb 5 percent every two years.

    I’m voting with my feet in 2013…ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

    • FPR
      January 15, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

      “- Imposing an annual 2.4 cents per mile “vehicle miles traveled tax.” This tax would be collected from vehicle owners during the annual safety inspection, or by use of an onboard device that records the miles the vehicle travels in a year.”
      – Joe Blow

      I’ll bet you’ll see a lot of inspection mechanics scratching their heads as why no one’s mileage ever increases year after year.

      “I’m voting with my feet in 2013…ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”
      – Joe Blow

      I made that same decision years ago Joe. It was hard to read the handwriting on the wall.

      • Joe Blow
        January 15, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

        I escaped the area in the early 90’s and returned in 03. I can see the writing clearly now, as states around the country are doing away with income taxes Patrick wants to raise ours.

        • outfox
          January 15, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

          I returned here in the mid-90’s thinking that Pittsfield was just about to get its act together in terms of attracting jobs to replace the jobs lost when GE bailed on us, and in the last few months I have had to admit to myself that this town is done. I love my hometown, but will be moving away as soon as a couple of things in my life are done.We have been a great place to live, and really could be again, but Pittsfield just keeps blowing it! If DV runs, I’ll stick around long enough to cast my vote for him, though.

    • outfox
      January 15, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

      Part of the reason the state needs the money is to pay for the Big Dig. I still don’t know how we here in the Berkshires benefit from that hole in the ground, and I am averse to paying for it? And, too, WHY are we still paying for it as a state, anyway? Wasn’t there a mess of financial finagling for it back in the day?

    • Scott
      January 16, 2013 at 5:01 am #

      Why not raise the price for the people who use public transportation? I’m all for feeding the poor but they can come up with an extra quarter to ride the bus.

      • outfox
        January 16, 2013 at 9:09 am #

        Scott, as someone who rides the B bus regularly, we see fare increases pretty frequently, and even though I am low income, it is not just “the poor” using the bus. Especially in the past 6 months, I can tell you that there has been an major increase in ridership, most likely due to the rising cost of gasoline. But I assure you, as those quarters add up, the cost increase that would initially seem negligible, over the course of three months, could be the difference between taking the bus or buying a needed medication, for example. It’s a tough issue, and perhaps the transportation expansion can be paid for by spreading the tax amongst everybody that Gov. Patrick is targeting rather than just one group.

        And seriously, can y’all just stop hating on “the poor”? It’s tough enough out here as it is, and most of us would like to be working. Yes there are some jobs, and do you know how many people, qualified or not, are trying for each one listed? It’s crazy.

  16. Wet Blanket
    January 15, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

    ‘Public servants do not need payment.’ That should include the Mayor too, right? Dan, does this mean when you run for mayor you will refuse your salary and zero out the line item for this? Maybe I’d vote for you after all!

    • danvalenti
      January 16, 2013 at 7:59 am #

      I will not run on a gimmick like that. But I’ll still take your vote!

      • Wet Blanket
        January 16, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

        It’s no gimmick Dan, you either believe true public service should be compensated, or you don’t. If you don’t, then the mayor should also be purely volunteer service. I’m surprised you won’t stand up for your principles and make a commitment to the voters to forego any and all compensation if elected. If you don’t, people should reconsider their absolute faith in you.

        • danvalenti
          January 17, 2013 at 7:27 am #

          Thank you for your comments. They are under advisement.

  17. Jonathan Melle
    January 15, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

    Gov. Deval Patrick wants to raise state taxes AND cut local aid. What an economic formula!

  18. Rick
    January 15, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

    Off Topic
    Will the public works employee who stored the flammable decorations next to a heating element that caused the DPW garage fire be promoted?
    DPW super moved to tears…………What a bunch of hogwash!
    Get ready for your wetland garage Pittsfield taxpayers.

    • danvalenti
      January 16, 2013 at 7:57 am #

      I heard something about this. If you have more info, can you send it to me by e-mail? Send to Thanks.

  19. billy
    January 15, 2013 at 10:29 pm #

    i respect your views and the forum you provide,but i watched the charter committee tonight in complete disbelief.Pete Marchetti suggested that councilors get no compensation in health benefits or pay. I believe their salary breaks down to about 70 dollars a week ,so we can all see they dont do it for the money.Pete said he wanted to help the city save money .I would love to understand how takeing away a small benefit in a hundred million dollar budget makes any sense what so ever. I was happy to see Judge Lapointe step in and say slow down and think for a minute.These councilors work jobs and spend countless hours doing research on all sorts of city undertakings..They get paid pennies to spend long hours away from their families and give us their talents.I think giving them health insurance as a option is only fair for them giving us time and talent. These people are responsible for a hundred million dollar budget.IT s a huge responsibility and can not be compared to boards or commissions. The mayor makes 84000 as well as other upper department heads in both the city side and school department yet we seek no cost savings there? and they control only a fraction of the money the council or school committee does. I predict that if this ridiculous idea goes forward you will see a exodus of educated passionate talent .leave the council.I would not blame them in the least .The city will not get quality candidates cause any thinking man or women will not work such a time consuming job for no compensation..Pete is a numbers guy but this one does nt add up.

    • joetaxpayer
      January 16, 2013 at 4:35 am #

      Billy all the politician’s say and do what you are talking about.You know “with the size of are bloated budget this will only be a drop in the bucket” funny thing they us this arguement both ways. I say it is time to start taking drops out of the bucket, they will add up.Health care for councilors should be stopped, that is not just a drop in the bucket.

      • danvalenti
        January 16, 2013 at 7:50 am #

        The drops do add up, as you say, Joe T

      • billy
        January 16, 2013 at 9:56 am #

        then you start with the biggest drops.What sense does it make in our federal budget to cut mental illness which is minimal,instead of defense? which is ten times the size of all the armies on earth combined? WE cut out the edges of the problem instead of attacking the root of it. We attack the easiest targets cause they are the most visable and in front of us every second tuesday,instead of having a real look in the mirror conversation about our over sized school system and their inability to see that they need to be lean and mean instead of bloated and behind the curve.The Charter school in Adams succeeds cause they listen to the people they serve and adapt.The problem with our problem is we do things ass backwards in this city. The school department gets a great salary along with 17 step increases and 14 weeks off and a pension that gives them 80 percent of their highest 3 years. before they have proven themselves as educators? They have no incentive due to this overly generous setup to push themselves to be better .. If tenure exists then they have no fear of losing these benefits do to not meeting ever more global education challenges. I predict if we dont make hard choices soon in this city to serve our childrens needs instead of our School deptarments wants ..WE will hear “welcome to Walmart ” in many of their futures selling goods from our better educated competitors who made those tough choices.

    • Scott
      January 16, 2013 at 5:03 am #

      No one forced them to run for the positions in the first place.

    • danvalenti
      January 16, 2013 at 7:56 am #

      Thanks. The “countless hours” are performed from the need for public service. One the one hand, you say “their salary breaks down to about $40 a week, so we can all see they don’t do it for the money.” Agreed. Let’s take that, then, as the major premise, and conclude that, since they don’t do it for the money, why pay any money at all?

  20. outfox
    January 15, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

    Actually, I will stick around long enough to volunteer for DV’s campaign and vote for him.Then I suppose I’d want to see his changes implemented, so that would keep me around for a while, and as the city becomes re-livable under his guidance, hell, maybe I won’t have to move away after all! Run, DV, run!

    • danvalenti
      January 16, 2013 at 7:52 am #

      Thank you, OUTFOX, for your support.

  21. billy
    January 15, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

    no matter how much they love the city.I think that if you dont reward talent with compensation you will end up with the version of the nfl fiasco with the refs. when they brought in the second string.I think we all know how it all turned out

    • dusty
      January 16, 2013 at 1:59 am #

      in the case of the school committee it does not seem that anyone outside of Kinnas is doing any research at all. It makes no sense to pay people who are simply there as pawns to the system. You can tell by the discussion that most of these people have not had an original thought in a long time or if they did they are terrified to express it. The people of Pittsfield are disgusted already with the way things are done and this will push many more to the limit.

      • danvalenti
        January 16, 2013 at 7:51 am #

        When enough people get “pushed to the limit” and use that as fuel to get to the polls, all the nonsense will end. The People will have taken back control of their government. Until that happens, the GOB will control the pawns, and The People will be shut out.

    • Scott
      January 16, 2013 at 5:04 am #

      The only thing politics and the NF have in common is they’re all a bunch of greedy b@stards!

      • Scott
        January 16, 2013 at 5:05 am #


    • danvalenti
      January 16, 2013 at 7:52 am #

      The analogy doesn’t work. The NFL does not pay its officials.

  22. billy
    January 16, 2013 at 11:56 am #

    because being civic minded does not mean you leave your brains at the door.Nobody goes to work and sacrifices for a employer or a city and does not get compensation.I would love to see you tell me that your writing career and your books should not be compensated ., and your knowledge and the countless hours of blood, sweat and tears you invested in them. The health benefits probably cost 12000 at the most a year and thats a guess. You have seen great moments at those council meetings from well educated people like your self . I dont see any reason not to give them the benefit all other municipal employees get or take it from all of them. which we know will never happen.I see the pool of quality people drying up if this thing gets wings and flies.

    • danvalenti
      January 16, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

      Councilors are only “employees” because they are defined that way by the city. So what you’re saying is that, without compensation, we will not get good people to run. I would argue the opposite: Limit compensation to payment for expenses only. That will better ensure that Pittsfield ends up with people who truly want to govern, since that will be their only reward. Let us not forget that will elected office comes power, the most tempting form of compensation on the planet (but not THE PLANET). As for my writing career, of course I was compensated, and well at that. The analogy doesn’t hold, though, since while writing has been my profession, the job of councilor is not anyone’s “profession.” To call it that goes against the concept of “citizen legislators,” participating freely in their government. We might add that the writing of THE PLANET, which I present free of charge to all who want to access it, is done with a fee. I could easily turn it into a paying gig through sponsorship. I don’t need to and I don’t want to. THE PLANET is not a cost center for me or my company. It’s done as a civic service … the same should hold true of council and school committee.

      • billy
        January 16, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

        they are city employees cause they are duly elected law makers of our city.and intrusted with the vital fiduciary responsibility of of our 100 million dollar budget and how it is dispersed.That is not a job i want to give to some arm chair politician. that thinks this is some weekend civics project. I believe in politics as well as business “garbage in garbage out”.

        • danvalenti
          January 17, 2013 at 7:26 am #

          Thanks. The budget, by the way, is $133,000,000, but what is $33 million among friends? And they are city employees because they have defined themselves to be city employees and not because they are duly elected lawmakers. Being elected doesn’t necessarily make one an employee. billy: You HAVE given the job to arm chair politicians. Don’t you see? You yourself have admitted that the $70-a-week is peanuts. You can’t have it both ways.Well, you can, but it is not logical, as Mr. Spock might say.

    • dusty
      January 16, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

      I also do not feel school committee people should be paid. Then you at least have a chance of getting people who care more about the children than their own bottom line. And you don’t need a Harvard think tank to run school business. Common sense, which seems sorely lacking on the Pittsfield school committee, will do just fine.

      Of course, all the common sense in the world will not help if you are afraid of, or indebted to, the bully running the show..

      • danvalenti
        January 16, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

        Common sense is not so common on the school committee.

  23. billy
    January 16, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

    what utopia are you living in?… puff puff pass…. why dont the analogies stick ? what is good for the goose is good for the gander…….

    • danvalenti
      January 17, 2013 at 7:23 am #

      Why ask about our utopia? You know the address: It’s here, on THE PLANET.

      • outfox
        January 17, 2013 at 10:36 am #

        DV, if you can get Todd Rundgren to join our utopia I will vote for you for mayor two or three times at least!