PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, FEB. 28, 2013) — On this final day of February, we hearken to the upcoming spring, sensing a new wind moving in from the south, mounted with firm, unyielding tread. This just may be the wind of change the city of Pittsfield has needed for a quarter century. This wind comes not from or for “an attendant Lord.” Nay. We are Hamlet, if we may be so bold as to borrow from T.S. Eliot.


One of the most important admissions made by any mayor in the past generation about the economy of Pittsfield came in 2002, when her honor Sara Hathaway said Pittsfield was a “junkie” for state aid. She made that pronouncement on The Dan Valenti Show.  it was the only time we ever saw WBRK newshound Len Bean genuflect to her honor.

Now if we had said that on The Dan Valenti Show, we would have been accused of sensationalism, negativism, and a bunch of other “isms.”  As mayor, though, Hathaway had the bully pulpit, and when she made her admission, all we heard was the nervous shuffling of feet from certain members of the GOB. Sara had just let slip something that made The Big Strong Men queasy.

Junkies to State Aid and Victim of Klan Politics

That admission, you see, reveals one of the deep, dark secrets of the once-thriving city of Pittsfield: Because of a generation of GOB “Klan Politics” giving We The People no other choice but those selected with the blessings of the two Political Machines in town, Pittsfield had lost control of its destiny. It happened both overnight and with attrition, but basically, when General Electric gave the city the heave-ho, the city’s vaunted “leaders” sensed their opportunity. In the immediate power vacuum, they went to work. Looking no further than the tips of their noses, they set out on a 25-year plan that had the effect of:

1. Tripling the city budget

2. Reducing both the quality and quantity of services (why no ice skating on the Common? Why no organized activities for kids at the parks during the summer?)

3. Vastly increasing the number of “dependent-class” people who suck city resources and contribute nothing back

4. Penalizing the middle class with an unrelenting string of tax increases

5. Rewarding their friends

6. Punishing their enemies

7. Shrinking both the population and the tax base

8. And deliberately creating a population that has become uninformed and therefore uninterested in the government they own. There’s nothing the GOB loves more or is more important to their future plans than public apathy.

Hathaway’s admission of Pittsfield being a junkie for state aid provided an open window, where most or all of this could be glimpsed.

The Crime of the Century

In short, they — the GOB — set out deliberately to profit from a disaster in exchange for presiding over the destruction of the community. It has to go down as the crime of the century. At the expense of the many, the few made out like bandits.

Look at almost any barometer of life in the city of Pittsfield and honestly ask yourself: Do we see health or sickness? Is it better than it was 25 years ago or worse? Go downtown. Forget the buildings. Look at the people. Look at the critters roaming the streets day and night. Look for police patrols. You won’t find them. Drive over roads that were poorly paved and are showing their years far in advance of their age. Watch school children leaving their buildings looking like something from Love’s Young Nightmare. Watch the druggies and the gangs keep good people away. Go to a city park almost any time, but especially in summer, and see the crowded emptiness.. Count the number of young people who have moved away because there’s nothing here for them. You can’t, because they are no longer here. Watch as senior citizens struggle to makes ends meet on fixed incomes. Listen as they ask, “Where has out beautiful city gone?”

This year, an election year, THE PLANET shall be asking this question: Can we re-build a sense of community in the city of Pittsfield? Can we create buy-in from vast numbers of people? Can we get ordinary people to believe they have a stake in consequences that stem from the election? We believe the answer is yes. We base this on our conviction that, in large enough numbers, We The People are an unstoppable force.

Are these merely words to annotate a pipe dream, or could such questions actually be answered “Yes.”

For example, can you dream, for a moment, what would happen if there was a way to increase voter turnout by 15 to 20%? Adding 6,000 new votes would go a long way in creating a rebuilt city.

THE PLANET is here to tell you: There is a way,

You, me, Mary Jane, and Joe Kapanski own the government, not the GOBs. WE own the government, not the Boring Broadsheet. THEY — the small cadre of “usual suspects” whose poisoned tentacles have worked their way into almost every aspect of daily life in the good city — report to US.

We are proposing one simple, revolutionary idea: Why not in 2013 … why not … reclaim the government in the name of, by, and for The People? It can be done.



After our report yesterday on how school committee member Terry Kinnas continues to pay for actually trying to represent The Little Guy in a department (the PPS) that eats up 70% of a $133-million budget, we noticed an extremely odd coincidence. It was pointed out to us by an astute denizen of THE PLANET.

It was only after Kinnas blew the whistle on Contractgate, the “Free House” that the assistant superintendent of schools Frank Cote rigged to happen for his secretary, Lynn Whitney, that the payback commenced. (You’ll recall from yesterday’s post how Kinnas got a KATH-eter for daring to do his job).

In our discussion of Contractgate, THE PLANET did not have a chance to share with you information all-but proving that Kinnas’ subsequent “show trial” held during a school committee meeting in December was a well-orchestrated event. Consider that, “out of the blue,” the Alf Barbalunga-led school committee receives two critical letters, blasting Kinnas. recall also that, during the Kangaroo session, Mayor Dan Bianchi, in a gutless act of no-show, found himself conveniently booked into a conflict, elsewhere.

It would take a document far longer than this installment to presents to proof, but let us merely state a conclusion borne out when one considers all of the evidence: Bianchi orchestrated the trial in a two-for-one intent of taking out Kinnas and having Barbalunga set-up as the fall guy.

Hoochie Koocher Decides to Write a Letter, and So does Milky Malkas

As part of the build-up against Kinnas, deemed necessary by Bianchi and the others after Kinnas blew the whistle on the Cote-Whitney “Free House,” a couple letters were sent to Barbalunga within four days of each other.

On  Nov. 30, Glenn Koocher, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, decides to write to Barbalunga, complaining of a “deportmentally challenged” Pittsfield school committee member. (Gee, who could that be?) Koocher accuses the member (Kinnas) of “antagonistic public comments, extensive and hostile interrogation of staff at meetings, probing into areas of administration operation, a tendency to talk at extraordinary length at public meetings,” and more. The letter is extremely odd in tone and menacing in intent (unless you find a state official butting into local school affairs in such a jack-booted manner to be a good thing).

Koocher says these concerns were raised “by others in conversation with me.” He doesn’t name one person, just “others.” This sad excuse for a state officer, who owes his six-figure salary to school committees such as Pittsfield, has a vested interest in keeping the status quo in the frontier.

We have seen Kinnas behave at public meetings many, many times. We have never seen him be anything but respectful, calm, and measured in tone, exemplary, in fact. And since when it is a crime for a school board member to “probe into areas of administration operation.” We thought that was the job of a committee member.

That’s the line where Koocher basically gave himself a wedgie. It shows that, as a consultant raking in who knows what from taxpayers, he was being a mouthpiece for certain connected locals who don’t think the committee should question the administration but don’t have the stones to say it themselves.

Koocher’s letter provides evidence that would support the financial shell game going on in the name of public education — Throw lots of money into the schools, see that there will be little oversight or accountability, and hammer down anyone who starts asking questions. Too many people are making out too good for someone like Kinnas to start snooping around.

Milky Malkas, Too, Gets in on the Fun

Then, a mere four days later, Barbara Malkas, who milked taxpayers for her six-figure job in Pittsfield school administration for a bunch of years, coincidentally decides to write to Barbalunga. Malkas’ fictive drivel basically goes on to tell Barbalunga, “I’m not a criminal” with respect to the iPAD program, which Kinnas questioned. What was Malkas afraid of with respect to Kinnas questions regarding the iPADs program? Her pre-emptive claim of innocence proved curious indeed.

This is exactly what we are talking about, good people (defined as right-hearted, left-headed) for government: We need more citizen legislators and office holders like Kinnas and less of the GOB masterminded corruption of  cynics like Koocher and Malkas.



The shame of all this is, despite a billion (with a b) dollars thrown into the Pittsfield public schools since ed reform, we are still turning out too many high school grads who do not possess the basic skills to either continue on to higher education without remedial work or hold down a job.

While the pathetic performance of public schools continues to hold down cities like Pittsfield … while certain well-positioned players make fortunes for keeping it that way … and while public school apologists want to pretend we are “moving forward” …

* Every other industrialized country has its young people go to school 230 days (average) as opposed to our 180 days.

* 75% of the world’s Ph.Ds in science, technology, and related fields come from the Pacific Rim.

* We are getting our butts kicked on the global marketplace. We are getting beat at our own game, capitalism, by countries who don’t care what you call an economy, just so long as you make it work.

Take China, please.

Here’s a specific example. In 1990, China produced 509,242 motor vehicles. The U.S. produced 9,782,997 vehicles. Japan produced 13,486,796 vehicles

In 2000, China produced 2,069,069 vehicles. The U.S. produced 12,799,857 vehicles. Japan produced 10,140,796 vehicles

In 2011, the last year for which statistics are available, China produced 18,418,876 vehicles. The U.S. produced only 8,653,560 vehicles.

According to People’s Daily Online, a Chinese news organization, in 2012, the number of registered private cars reached 53.08 million units by the end of 2012. This was up 22.8% from a year earlier!

One other interesting note is that by 2015, China will be doing more than a third of its exporting and trade using the renminbi and not the U.S. dollar. By 2020, the U.S. dollar will be just another junk currency.

Now, THE PLANET isn’t proposing that little ol’ Pittsfield can change the global picture, but …

… but it is the county seat. Pittsfield CAN begin to engage more productively, more intelligently in its manifest destiny. (You do believe Pittsfield has such a destiny, don’t you?). The time to do that is in 2013, in the elections.

This election cannot afford to be the usual joke, where voters get to “choose” from members of the two GOB Klans in Pittsfield, especially when it comes to the race for mayor. For more than 25 years, the candidates for mayor who has any serious chance of winning came from either the DelGallo Klan or the Wojtkowski Klan (last year’s Marchetti-Bianchi match up being the most recent, before that, Ruberto-Bianchi, Ruberto-Hathaway I and II, Stracuzzi-Wojtkowski).

There has to be a real choice this year. If not, what trail the undulations will leave when they finally, finally sink.


 “The dancers came forward to represent unclaimed things.”Robert Duncan




  1. Ron Kitterman
    February 28, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    Interesting piece of information on Mr. Koocher, this from a state remembered for severely beating political foes in the Senate Chambers , with a cane or whip when you fell out of line.

  2. In the know
    February 28, 2013 at 10:45 am #

    Dan. If Mr Kinnas would just say what needs to be said in 1 minute instead of taking 30 minutes people would take him more serious

    • dusty
      February 28, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

      As was explained before….if the ding a lings would give a straight answer instead of circuitous babble the first time I am sure it would cut down on the inquisition. When they do not want to answer a question they run in circles hoping Terry will just give up. When he does not, they, rather than give a straight answer, pout like children and get nasty. They have the power and the dirty tricks and are obviously not afraid to trot them out when threatened.

      And the oh so sad part of it all is that these are the people running the education system for your children. And they have not yet grown up themselves so its not working too well as you can see.

      Smart parents in Pittsfield OPT OUT. Your kids don’t stand a chance with leadership like this.

      • danvalenti
        February 28, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

        Well put, DUSTY.

  3. FPR
    February 28, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    Hey Dan,

    Love the new picture.

    If the people just take a look at the track record of every single council member they would vote them ALL out.

    What would it hurt to put in all new council members? They certainly couldn’t do any worse.

    Bring back Joe Nichols and maybe, maybe keep Melissa. She has still has time to live up to her previous campaign promises. Every single other one – send em packing.

    February 28, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    I wish you would attach names to the GOB.

    • GEE Whiz
      February 28, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

      We all know then when we see them, Ambrose, and you probably do too. They are the Bianchis, Rubertos, Doyles, Wojkowskis, and Marchettis, the Grunins, the Thurstons, the Malumphys, and the Conants, the Yons and the Amusos of the local scene, the CEOs and bank presidents, the TRotary club “players” the Chamber of Commerco “players” … they’re the ones who get power and use it for their own selfish ends, or the ones who suck up to the ones who get power. Just look at the actions. They’re easily spotted. The entire school board save Terry. The entire city council save ….I don’t know who. School dept administration. They cant be trusted. DV has an excellent insight into them in this piece. That’s why he doesn’t charge for this service, I figured it out. It’s priceless.

      • Still wondering
        February 28, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

        You have to be completely nuts to believe that any Malumphy is a GOB.

      • ambrose
        February 28, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

        Thanks GW, now I know who to look for. Are these the same people the Planet haas in mind.

        • danvalenti
          February 28, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

          More or less. The key identifiers are power and money. When both are present, the GOB will be there. When the first is present, they are almost always there. When just the second, it depends on the morals of the person with the dough. One way to get an excellent “systems check” is to go to the next “Good News” breakfast put on (and we mean “put on”) by the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce. Not all who attend will be GOBs, for example, employees of a company who realize they better show or there will be consequences. Acolytes of the two political klans that have had a stranglehold on city politics for 25 years would be GOBs. Anyone who has profited from the decline of Pittsfield would be a GOB. One major thrust is the self-interest certain of the larger, local companies have in NOT expanding the economy by bringing in more manufacturing jobs. Why? Because in a region that doesn’t have enough trained and qualified people to fill those jobs, the last thing they want would be competition for workers. Political campaigns tend to draw GOBs. Remember, we count not only those at the top and their lieutenants, but also those who debase themselves and their principles by sucking up to these people. Another sign of GOB would be the cliques that have formed. Pittsfield is extremely turf conscious, and beyond the “patting themselves on the back” cocktail parties and “Good News” sessions, there is a lot of disconnect, a refusal to cooperate, and a reluctance to communicate. What Pittsfield needs more than ever is a person who will go after power for the RIGHT reason, which is to involve people in their government again … a person who will dare to rebuild a “community.” That’s what the GOBs have ultimately done to this once fine, functional town: destroyed a community. They want to keep it that way. There must be someone out there who has the smarts, the means, and the organization to take on this challenge.

          • GEE Whiz
            March 1, 2013 at 9:06 am #

            This is the most brilliant explanation of a GOB Ive ever read, DV

  5. Jonathan Melle
    February 28, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    Pittsfield is a haven for people with social problems. North Street is known as Social Services Alley. Pittsfield runs on welfare dollars. The city receives millions of dollars from the state and federal government in welfare and public education dollars. The city uses this money for its own special interests. Over a decade ago, Pittsfield built a new jail. That was its investment. To jail its disadvantaged citizens. Why? Because their is money in it. I call this perverse incentives. The more social problems, means the more money for Pittsfield.
    As for the political machines that have ruled Pittsfield, they also collude with each other for their mutual gain. Why would anyone want to rule Pittsfield politics is beyond me.

    • Jonathan Melle
      February 28, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

      Pittsfield has become another North Adams. Teen pregnancy rates in Pittsfield & N.A. are sky high year after year. Welfare caseloads fund Pittsfield & N.A.

    • Scott
      February 28, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

      At least people don’t try and run you over on Easter…

  6. The Professor and Mary Ann
    February 28, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

    Just a question for this clearly thoughtful readership..Who is making money from the gangs? That’s the place to look if we are to terminate their operations.Are the gangs just low level retail?-an easy -to -despise front that obscure the “legit” players behind them?Our feeling is their presence is tolerated in this area due to the supply of cash that they generate for their business bosses ,otherwise ,they’d be gone.Any thoughts on this theory?

    • FPR
      February 28, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

      Interesting yes Professor. The gangs perform a needed service in Pittsfield. The Opium is grown in Afghanistan, protected by the US military. Huge profits are made.

      To get people addicted to heroin, you need people on the street level. Because its technically illegal, the gangs are willing to perform this service for a share of these huge profits.

      The Methadone clinic is a business that needs new patients all the time. When a heroin addict hits rock bottom, they simply go to the hospital and have a doctor write a never ending prescription to methadone.

      At this point the taxpayers pick up the tab.

      So again, the gangs perform a needed service in the community. More heroin addicts mean more profits. It keeps doctors busy and more importantly it keeps the methadone clinic operating. So its all just one big happy family.

    • danvalenti
      February 28, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

      Yes. Follow the money. I like FPR’s response, above, as a first crack at your Q. Anyone else?

      • FPR
        March 1, 2013 at 5:53 am #

        Pittsfield is to NYC street gangs as France was to Nazis German soldiers. A retreat, a getaway, vacation-land.

  7. Eric Biss
    February 28, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

    Having lived there from 1973 until 2008, I would disagree that GE gave Pittsfield the heave-ho. I would argue the IUE did to Pittsfield what the UAW has done to Detroit, the NEA has done to public education and PATCO tried to do to air travel.

    • danvalenti
      February 28, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

      There is a lot of truth in what you say here. Union complacency certainly did not improve the competitive picture. The auto analogy is apt. Why would a car manufacturer want to pay a guy $35/hour plus a benefits package worth another $10 (total hourly compensation = $45/hr) when they can get the same or (usually) better quality at $18 or $20 an hour … or less. Nice to here from you!

  8. bobbyd
    February 28, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

    I never cease to be amazed by what I read here, DV laying bare the diabolical machinations of the GOB with an almost Pentecostal zeal. Do you all also handle snakes?

    • danvalenti
      February 28, 2013 at 8:05 pm #

      When we can amaze, we have done our job.

  9. tito
    February 28, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

    The players at the Skooled Committee’ looked a little uncomfee last night Planet, especially the two woman sitting to the right of Notesworthy.

    • danvalenti
      February 28, 2013 at 8:05 pm #

      Truly? Why do you suppose that was? And who were they?

  10. Dave
    February 28, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

    “GOOD NEWS” The Bershire Chamber of Commerce will present a “Good News” business salute breakfast on March 27th. The event at BHCC begins at 7:45 a.m. Admission is $35!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! with a discount for chamber members.This is “good news” for the chamber and BHCC. I don’t think I could eat even close to $35 worth of eggs and sausage, and I definately know I couldn’t keep it down after listening to the BS that is shoveled after the meal. Business is booming in the Berkshires baby!!!!!!

    • dusty
      February 28, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

      And where is this gourmet spread going to be laid out? Spice maybe? Definitely be at one of the GOB disciples business.

    • danvalenti
      February 28, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

      The eggs must be topped with a bernaise of hummingbird tongues.

  11. tito
    February 28, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

    The ambiance is 28 dollars, the Eggs on Benedict are the other 7. The assistant super and the administrative assistant, forget her name, if looks could… Terry would be toast.