PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY JAN. 13, 2013) — Quote: The Pittsfield School Committee “should be paid equal to the city council.” — Kathy Amuso, school committee member.

Kathy baby, we agree. The school committee is manned — oh, excuse us — “peopled” — on a volunteer basis. These are public servants, all, giving of their time, their talents, and their treasures, expecting … everything in return. Well, not everything, just $8,000 to $10,000 in compensation for their veddy part-time efforts.

They expect us to love them.

They expect us not to question them.

They expect us to accept their word as if it were the word of God.

They expect that we feel sorry for them for all the hard work they do on our behalf.

They expect us to believe they have the best interests of The Little Guy at heart.

They expect us to ignore every signal, and their are plenty of them, that they exist mainly to fetch water for the Special Interests.

And now …

They expect to be paid.

The School Committee: The Frozen Chosen

So Kathy, we agree with you. The school committee and the council should be remuneratively equal. You guys get nothing, and we take away the compensation for councilors. How’s that work out for you? Consequently, we can honestly state that you have a great idea there. Kath, this is the first positive idea you have contributed since you’ve been one of the Frozen Chosen, also known as the Pittsfield School Committee.

Sure enough, the advocates for giving school committee members the same dough as councilors fall back on the same, tired, old playbook. They bring up ad infinitum ad nauseum, all the vast amounts of time these people spend in meetings, doing research, taking and making phone calls, and getting civic manicures as part of their jobs. It’s the “oh, woe is me” strategy.

Well, THE PLANET answers, what about it? You spend time in meetings? So what? It’s the job. We expect you to serve in this manner. You knew that when you ran. Why do we have to compensate people for the privilege of participating in self-government?

Has self-governance turned into this? Yes, my friends, in the city of Pittsfield, it has. You have a government of mercenaries.

Why can’t we weed out the mercenaries and those who are in it for the $8,000 to $10,000 large for doing as little or as much as they wish? Remember, the job of mayor, city councilor, and school committee member is not defined by charter, law, or any other rule. The job is open to interpretation. You serve and work to the extent that you feel like doing. You work as much or as little as you like. The $8,000 to $10,000 stipend for limited, part-time service is not a good idea.

It goes against the grain of democracy’s lifeblood.

Yon told the Pittsfield Gazette‘s Jonathan Levine about “the dozens of meetings” she has to attend as a board member. “Tears on my pillow. Pain in my heart.”

“The work we are doing is crucial,” Yon told Levine. Yes, Kath hon, your work is crucial: crucial to the secretary of the assistant superintendent of schools, who rigged the vo-tech work-study situation so that his secretary, out of the vast universe of potential applicants, and saw that his secretary got free labor to build herself a house.

In point of fact, the work IS crucial. The school committee controls 70% of a $133 million budget.

We don’t think this is how Yon and her colleagues think of the the job … with the notable and noteworthy exception of Terry Kinnas, that is. Kinnas, time after time and vote after vote, action after action and idea after idea, has advocated strongly for Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski.

Alas, Kinnas is the lone voice, crying out in the wilderness, although THE PLANET has reason to hope that will change following this year’s municipal election. The final score, for those listening in at home: Kathy Yon, Lynn Whitney, and the GOBs 1,001. Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski, 0, as in zero.

The Skinning of the Taxpayers

Yon is the kind of unimaginative, lackluster person we have been electing to public office, year after year. She has a certain amount of competence, just enough so that you know she knows better. She has a certain supply of independence, just enough for you to shake your head when you see her, time after time, voting from fear rather than conviction. The fear, of course, stems from a need to be accepted.

In public servants such as Yon, there seems to be a paramount desire to be accepted by the GOB, by the Status Quo, by the Special Interests … call it what you will. For example, Yon could have voted against Contractgate, but no. She could have voted NOT to reprimand the only member of her committee who understands the job and take the job seriously, but no. Yon could have stood firm against the school department’s annual skinning of taxpayers at budget time, but no. She could have been a voice of reason when the United Educators of Pittsfield sought approval of a 16% pay hike over three years, but no.

The Kathy Yons of public life, the Dan Bianchis of public life, are too timid, too tenuous, too afraid to take on the Special Interests, to vote with integrity. They think they know what’s on the minds of We The People. They think they have their finger on the pulse.

Well, they do. They have their finger on the pulse of a large, corpulent pig, who has his snout continually buried in the public trough.

The solution is to encourage new blood to get involved in city government, from voting, to attending meetings, to writing letters, to running for office. More people need to come out of the woodwork and begin to participate in government on the local level. At stake is nothing less that Democracy itself.

Do you want THE PLANET to explain why? Let us know. We shall be more than  too glad to oblige.






  1. Kevin
    January 14, 2013 at 8:52 am #

    I agree Dan take all the cash out of the equation, serve a term or two and move on…….The BB and GOB are really pushing this Deputy Mayor position…..

  2. Still wondering
    January 14, 2013 at 9:02 am #

    It is very difficult to be elected to either councils. If you are not a life long resident of Pittsfield with at least 2 generations prior history here to boot, there is just no way you’ll ever get enough votes. It’s just the way it is.

    • debbie
      January 15, 2013 at 7:26 am #

      How many people on the School Committee have children who went to public schools?…….Do they have children at all?…..and these people know what’s best for the children! Vote them out…..and get some REAL people who have a back bone. I’m tired of all these kiss asses.

  3. taxmano
    January 14, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Talk about duplicitious double-dealing. On the one hand, Alfie admonishes Terry for making the school committee meetings take so long. Then, he uses the length of the meetings as a basis for paying the school committee!

  4. GMHeller
    January 14, 2013 at 10:36 am #

    Sounds to me like ‘Alf’ Barbalunga, the guy who owes his day job as head of probation in Southern Berkshire District Court along with his entire career as a state employee to nepotism and cronyism, is the real ‘brains’ behind this Democrat-inspired proposal.
    If Ms. Yon and ‘No-Show’ Barbalunga feel they are unable to serve on the School Committee under the current remuneration, then maybe they should both look elsewhere to volunteer their oh-so-valuable services.
    Aren’t there enough public ‘servants’ in Pittsfield and Berkshire County who are already fleecing taxpayers?

    • debbie
      January 14, 2013 at 10:21 pm #

      You are so right ! Alf is a system sucking good for nothing piece of crap. He sits in his office in SouthernBerkshire District Court doing absolutely nothing all day for $115,000 of our tax money. Sorry, he does all his school committee work on State time. I heard he had the nerve to write a disciplinary action on one of his staff employer for opening the office window without permission . Image after everything Alf has done on State time and all the money daddy spent saving his sons ass and lets not forget that Daddy payed good money to buy Alf’s position as Chief aka SLACKASS !

  5. GMHeller
    January 14, 2013 at 10:42 am #

    And don’t forget, once the city pays remuneration to any of these hacks, then all manner of additional perquisites come into play including health insurance coverage, pensions, etc., line items that ‘No-Show’ and Ms. Yon are conveniently forgetting to mention.

  6. GMHeller
    January 14, 2013 at 10:43 am #

    And let us not forget free dental coverage!

  7. Quo Vadis
    January 14, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    Great article DV for again telling it like it is. But like we don’t want it to be. Nice call out of the clueless Yon, Alf’s note taker.

  8. Ron Kitterman
    January 14, 2013 at 11:12 am #

    I remember Ed Reilly when he was Mayor wanting to run for State Senate and keeping his job as Mayor at the time. He got a little back lash and decided against seeking the State Senate post. I guess my point is a Deputy Mayor or Chief of Staff really a needed position ? The GOB’s will tell us how much more complex the job is than back then humm ….

  9. Gene
    January 14, 2013 at 11:46 am #

    Ron the GOB will come up with all sorts of lame excuses. They want the mayor to have a deputy mayor, a chief of staff and an executive assistant, what’s next, a chief of protocol? I don’t trust the charter review work for one second.

    • dusty
      January 14, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

      i agree about the charter review. They say the city needs a “strong mayor” type of govt. who gets to appoint all his people. Seems to me that if the mayor gets to appoint all his friends then what is left for the people? aA’strong mayor” form of govt will mean a weakening of the peoples say in how anything is done. Sounds a lot like the civic authority to me. I hope the hell the people get to vote on this. Do they?

      • billy
        January 14, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

        Dusty i think i finally agree with you. The idea of a mayor being stronger than the citizens he represents is a really bad idea, i hope the charter committee stops posturing and really does the homework they were given . I think right now its flimsy at best and to me thats un forgiveable since its going to be the ten commandments by which the city will guide itself into the future.I wish the officials of today would work at something with only one guiding principle” Will this represent all of the citizens equally and all feel included. i personally think that when the meek voices are drowned out by the strong mayor all will lose. We saw how he handled spectrum and that was with less power. i hope people will ponder that as they decide our fate.

  10. Ole Jack
    January 14, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    Is Kathy Yon the sister-in-law of Councilor “No-Confidence” Chris Yon? Did she work with Terry K.’s wife at Taconic H.S?

    • danvalenti
      January 14, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

      Yes to the first question. Don’t know to the second.

    • debbie
      January 14, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

      Yes to the second question.

    • Jim Gleason
      January 15, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

      She worked with Terry’s wife at PITTSFIELD HIGH SCHOOL,not Taconic.

  11. tito
    January 14, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    Don’t know ol buddy, let me call Ann Landers.

  12. dusty
    January 14, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

    Great article on the school committee Dan, possibly your best yet. These lamebrains asking for money is right up there with the AIG suing the taxpayers for there bailout. Unbelievable gall.

    • danvalenti
      January 14, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

      Thanks, DUSTY

  13. Joe Blow
    January 14, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

    I’m wondering why no one on the charter review has brought up term limits.

  14. GMHeller
    January 14, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

    Mr. Valenti, By paying Pittsfield school committee members, how much would that add to Pittsfield’s total unfunded liabilities (for committee members’ pensions, long-term health care, dental benefits, hospitalization)?
    Funny, but Ms. Yon fails to bring up the fact that by paying school committee members, that would add to Pittsfield’s unfunded liabilities.
    But hey, it’s only money, right?

  15. ShirleyKnutz
    January 14, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    I thought being on the School Committee was all about the children! Next they will have to join the Teacher’s Union and then they can get step AND annual raises!!

  16. billy
    January 14, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    Kathy Yon seems kind at heart but her loyalty is misguided.I guess she feels a false sense of loyalty to her old profession. I dont think she realizes she is a civilian and her first duty is to the people of Pittsfield and to dilligently protect the financial stability of our school system as well as the city. I think retired teachers need to see the view of the poor that get the scraps that get thrown on the floor from the banquet they gorge on every year.Empathy provides knowledge no book can give