OBAMA, BEYONCE: THE LIP-SYNCH TWINS … FAA ‘EXPLANATION’ OF MYSTERIOUS, SILENT UFO IS HOGWASH … plus … PITTSFIELD PILOT PAYMENTS PALTRY
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, JAN. 24, 2013) — As speeches go, Barack Obama gave a good one as he took the helm for another four years. Good, not great: Certainly not as bad as critics painted and not as great as supporters pined.
Beyonce, a one-trick diva, lip-synced the National Anthem, proving she has no voice save that which computers and technology provide. Think about it: We’ve gone from Robert Frost reciting his classic “The Gift Outright” at JFK’s inauguration in 1961 — from memory — to something called Beyonce reminding us how nothing in politics can be accepted on face value. At least James Taylor actually sang and played, as groupie Clarence Fanto was sure to remind us in another hard-hitting masterpiece in the Boring Broadsheet.
Newt Gingrich, who ran for president last year, thought the speech was “very, very good. I didn’t think it was very liberal. There were one or two sentences obviously conservatives would object to, but 95 percent of the speech I thought was classically American, emphasizing hard work, emphasizing self-reliance, emphasizing doing things together.”
Fantasy: 2013 … or 1953?
Hard work, self-reliance, doing things together: Sounds more like 1953 rather than 2013.
True, Obama did not address the deficit but did address climate change, immigration, and gay rights. As we said, Beyonce lip-synced her speech, too.
FAA EXPLANATION OF AMHERST UFO IS HOGWASH
True story. On Jan. 8, many Amherst residents saw a large, silent, slow-moving flying object in the skies. No. It wasn’t Chris Christie. He’s not silent. No. It wasn’t Peter Marchetti. It wasn’t unsure.
What was it?
Initially, the Federal Aviation Administration said it had no clue. Local authorities, alarmed at calls by residents of the object, asked if the Air Force had any planes in the air over the region at the time. No, the FAA said. The military reported nothing like that.
Watch the Skies
After rumors started flying, however, the FAA “revised the record.” Oops, the FAA said, the Air Force did have a C5 cargo plane practicing approaches and landings at Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee.
Hmmm. Right. And it was Judge Crater at the wheel.
According to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, witnesses described the object as either “triangular” or “diamond” shaped, the size of two to three cars, and made no noise.
Here’s what a C5 looks like:
Note that the C5 is not triangular. Note that it is not diamond shaped. The cargo area alone is 121-feet long, 13.5 feet high, and 19 feet high, a tad larger than two cars. The length of the cargo area alone is longer than the entire flight of the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk.
Moreover, note that a C5, practicing approached and landings at Westover, would be extremely low in the sky over Amherst, eminently visible. It would also make a heckuva lot of noise. Yet witnesses say the UFO was silent. it would also look nothing like triangular or diamond shaped. The C5 is painted a Navy gray, nothing metallic about it.
So what happened?
THE PLANET wonders if anyone in Pittsfield saw a UFO on or about that date. There have been Jimmy Ruberto sightings during this election year, and while they have been unidentified, they have not been flying. That will come later, if it does.
PALTRY PILOT PAYMENTS DON’T CUT IT
The municipal budget is an exercise in befuddlement during its proposal, during its approval, and trying to understand the numbers after the fact. For example, the school department lists its budget at about $53.5 million, though the actual cost to taxpayers is close to $90 million when the separate costs hidden in the city-side budget are included, as they should be. Another instance is the bottom line figure of $132,923,131 for FY13. That’s the total cost of city government to Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski, right? Wrong. Add approximately another $10 million for capital expenditures.
The city council approved Mayor Dan Bianchi‘s request for $9,793,000 in new borrowing. That makes the total $142,716,131. Actually, it’s more than that, since the borrowing will come at interest. Despite this, you’ll never hear the mayor, the council, the school department or other city officials talk about a $143 million-+ budget.
Transparency, schmanceparency. If Bianchi decides to run again, he’s going to be mighty vulnerable for the way he beat the “transparency” drum in 2011 and so woefully failed to deliver.
Mining for Budgetary Nuggets
The FY13 budget document is loaded with all sorts of nuggets, hidden underneath the hard pan of a blurring array of numbers, numerals, and digits. From time to time, THE PLANET shall be presenting some of these nuggets for the taxpayers.
First, let’s provide a link to the budget itself, so the rest of you — those who are interested, anyway — can stake your own claims and file your own finds with the PLANET’s assessor. You can access the budget here:
The nugget we wish to share today comes from a page titled “Estimated Local Receipts.” You find a line for “Payment in Lieu of Taxes.” This line includes the grand total of PILOT funds presented to the city as voluntary payment from all of the many non-profit businesses and organizations that do business, tax-free, within the city’s borders. The non-profits include the daddy of them all, Berkshire Health Systems, the city’s largest employer. It owns, operates, and occupies many prepossessing buildings, offices, garages, and other facilities totaling in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
You would figure that morally honest PILOT payments from BHS alone would amount to a substantial total. Add in the many other non-profits, probably 100 or so, and one would expect a large portion of income for Mary Jane and Joe, who are, remember, the true owners of government. You would expect, what, at least a million dollars.
But no. This is Pittsfield.
The grand total of PILOT funds, including the contribution of BHS, is a miniscule $49,000.
That’s it: Far less than the average cost of one public school teacher.
Is that enough? Hardly. There are peaches in that tree.
Get the Non-Profits to Pay a Fair Share
The solution: Nothing less than (a) an inventory of all the non-profits in the city and (b) visits to all of them, essentially to put pressure on the ones with the ability to pay to chip in a whole lot more than they are doing now. Again, these companies have the privilege of operating tax-free. In a sense, Mary Jane and Joe have to carry these companies on their aching backs.
The mayor and council have proposed a half-baked initiative regarding the non-profits, one that THE PLANET supports. We support it on the assumption that something is better than nothing and that at least it might lead to some dialogue. We do not hold out realistic hope, however, that the initiative will improve in any substantial way on the paltry $49,000 that the city expects to see from these freeloaders. Who know, the amount may be less. The $49,000 is an estimate, but, as these payments are voluntary, the figure could be lower.
Mary Jane and Joe: Screwed again.
“ARMA IN ARMATOS SUMERE IURA SINUNT”
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.