GUESS WHAT, PITTSFIELD: 2013 IS AN ELECTION YEAR — TIME, PEOPLE, TO TAKE BACK OWNERSHIP OF YOUR GOVERNMENT … KINNAS, KATH-eters, and KANGAROO KORTS … plus … THEY’RE EATING OUR LUNCH, or, WHY THIS ELECTION ISN’t a JOKE
By DAN VALENTI
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.
[FULL DISCOLSURE: WE HAVE JUST SPOKEN IN CODE. WE NOW RESUME “NORMAL” TRANSMISSION]
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.
SHOCKING COINCIDENCES, KANGAROO KOURTS, AND OTHER ABSURDITIES
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.
THEY’RE EATING OUR LUNCH
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
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.