Article

UPDATE: ‘PUBLIC SERVANTS’ SERVED ON US A LOT OF DEBT AND OBLIGATIONS … PENSIONS, OPEB READY TO BRING THE OTHER FOOT DOWN ON MASSACHUSETTS CITIES … PITTSFIELD UNFUNDED OPEB LIABILITY $330 MILLION +, BUT POLS NOT WORRIED … IN LEE, SELECT BOARD PLAYS CYNICAL GAME WHEREIN TAXPAYERS WILL LOSE

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, FEB. 20, 2013) — We shall squeeze one more day out of our column on pension and OPEB debt, future obligations negotiated by our “public servants” with the bill due to taxpayers. In Pittsfield, the sum is at least $330,725,000. That was the figure as of 2011. We don’t know if the city has been current with its obligations in the meantime. Assuming that it has, that’s the figure.

Again, this money has to come from somewhere, unless there is major pension/OPEB reform and/or a radical development such as bankruptcy.

Here is an interesting analysis taken from a Reuters article last month:

Almost universally, cities have failed to pre-fund the commitments they have made for retiree health care. In total, cities have pre-funded only 6 percent of their healthcare promises, leaving a shortfall of $118 billion, according to Pew. In contrast, cities have funded 74 percent of pension liabilities, leaving an unpaid balance of $99 billion. In fact, 22 cities face larger unpaid bills for retiree health care than for pensions (page 16).

The answer? There are three solutions: litigate, negotiate, or bankruptcy. This is the situation taxpayers, and the future of cities, has been put in by short-sighted politicians and public employee unions bent to grab every cent they possibly can.

This is one of the largest issues the city of Pittsfield faces in this election year. Educate yourself on it, as THE PLANET is helping you to do, and let politicians and candidates know that you expect a position in this year’s campaign. If they argue, put the blame on THE PLANET. That’s cool, because we are the cause of everything in the city, if you listen to our critics, whom we love, because they know what’s wrong with every pronouncement we utter!

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(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, FEB. 19, 2013) — With hundreds of millions of dollars owed to current and future retired city employees, Pittsfield taxpayers join many other cities across America in a dangerous financial game. It is a game created by greed, public apathy, political cynicism, and the penchant for those in public service to live in Fantasyland. Such are the dangers with “public money.”

Something inimical happens to capital once it leaves private pockets and ends up in public hands.

According to the Boston Business Journal, as of January 1, 2012, Massachusetts had an unfunded public-benefits liability of $23.6 billion. The figure represents a doubling in just five years. The startling gap can be attributed to a variety of factors, including:

* An investment loss of 30% during that time

* The pyramid of benefits negotiated by public employee unions with the help of weak and ineffectual politicians

* The growing number of public employees opting for early retirement

* The longer life spans of retirees.

Funding Gap Proves Current Situation is Unsustainable

All of this has left the state with a deficit (funding gap) of 35%. That $24 billion+ will be due from taxpayers sooner than you realize — unless there is legislative reform. Other states have bitten that bullet, but in Massachusetts, public employee unions, especially teachers unions, have Democratic politicians in their pockets.

Reasonable reform would include three strategies:

1. Reduction of benefits.

2. Requiring employees to work until 60 to retire (five years longer than the present 55).

3. Requiring future hires to work longer to reach maximum pension benefits.

Teachers’ unions have, on cue, opposed all three measures. They have dictated their displeasure to the politicians that they own, 85% to 90% of whom are Democrats.

The gravy train has to be over, or it will be Deep Six for the state’s economy and those of many of its cities, including Pittsfield.  There is no desirable future for the next generation in that scenario. For once, “it’s for The Children” actually means something.

Prior to 1983, unfunded pension liabilities were not an issue. Massachusetts taxpayers satisfied their pension obligations for public workers on an “as-you-go” basis. In the early 1990s, the state finally adopted a funding schedule for those obligations. By 2003, though, huge shortfalls began to show up. Monies that would have been earmarked on a pay-as-you-go basis were used to expand government in a variety of unsustainable ways. The money that should have gone to fund the obligations proved too tempting in the short-term for politicians.

That type of money will inevitably do that. As we said, once money leave private pockets and ends up in the public treasury, elected and appointed officials think of it as “their” money — so much Monopoly Moolah to be frittered away as they please, We The People be damned. Pittsfield only need recall the financial mess conjured up by Gerry Doyle, David Kiley, and Bob Tone in the late 1990s.

Teachers: ‘Pension System a Good Deal for Taxpayers’

By the early to mid-2000s, the financial shell game was on, and as long as the stock market kept going up, the economic foolishness could be covered, good paper after bad. When markets began their inevitable adjustment, however, public officials and greedy unions were exposed. The huge unfunded obligations turned these commitments cyclic: Markets adjusted, anticipated (phantom) profits were lost, and bond rating as a consequence suffered. Lower bond ratings made borrowing more difficult, which fed into downward profitability … quite a circle.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association, of which THE PLANET is a member, recently had this to say about the system: “The pension system is a good deal for taxpayers. There is no justification for cutting future employees’ pension benefits.” Easy for them to say. In Pittsfield, the average teachers’ compensation (salary + benefits) is $70,000 a year. Teachers can retire on 80% of salary for their three highest earning years. In a perfect world, teachers and every other employee, private and public, would have such great deals, but, as you have probably experienced, the world is far from perfect.

In fact, taxpayers are on the hook not just for pensions but also for all other benefits, including health insurance, life insurance, and other taxpayer-funded charity negotiated on a local basis. These total obligations are referred to as Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB).

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation calls this evil cycle “The Brick that Broke Municipalities’ Backs” (here’s the link: http://www.mattmacdonald.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/11-02-Retiree-Health-Care-The-Brick-That-Broke-Municipalities-Backs.pdf). According to this study, as of two years ago, Pittsfield had an unfunded OPEB liability of $224,749,000. Unfunded pension obligations add another $105,976,000 onto the taxpayers’ back. Adding these two (OPEB + Pensions) puts the bill to Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski at $330,725,000. Two years later, that amount is even higher.

Without reform, $330,725,000 + one more year of unfunded commitment (not yet tabulated) is the current tab all owed by Pittsfield taxpayers. Without reform, that full amount has to be paid. The money will have to come from somewhere. If the state borrows it, there will be interest to pay on top of principle.

Using the $330,725,000 for Pittsfield’s current population of 40,000 derives a per-capita obligation of $8,268.12. If you eliminate children and those who cannot pay (social misfits such as gang members, druggies, welfare deadbeats, and the rest of the gimme crowd, plus senior citizens living on fixed incomes), you probably have about 10,000 people who will be stuck with a per-capita tab of $33,072.48. Not exactly chump change.

Clearly, the pyramid of benefits that spineless politicians handed to public employee unions over the last generation:

(a) Have put countless cities and towns in serious danger of bankruptcy, including Pittsfield.

(b) Are clearly unsustainable.

Bankruptcy may in fact be the best practical solution, if serious reform does not happen soon. In bankruptcy, the state assumes receivership, with a local board, similar to the state-appointed oversight board appointed following the near-collapse of Pittsfield finances during the Doyle Administration. Incidentally, if memory serves, Dan Bianchi, then Ward 6 councilor, served on that board, so as mayor, he brings experience in this darker side of municipal finances.

One-Party Rule Kills Chances of Reform … Solution? Elect more Republicans

Unfortunately, the solution — serious pension reform and renegotiation of contracts — lies in the hands of politicians, and, in Massachusetts and Pittsfield, in the hands of pols who “enjoy” one-party Democrat hegemony, which they use to bully the Little Guy and reward the fat cats, the players, the special interests, and the GOBs. Until there is a well-functioning, bicameral government on state and local levels, there’s not much hope for cities like Pittsfield. Critics will misread our statement and accuse THE PLANET of being a closet Republican or at least a GOP shill. We remind one and all that we do not play favorites with two-party politics. We loath Democrats and Republicans with equal fervor.

Fortunately, if we can use that rosy word in such a dire context, events could well spiral out of control, so that even the most cynical, lily-livered politician will have no choice but to cave in to fiscal reality, no matter how much pressure the unions exert. Until that happens, however, those who negotiate public employee contracts, on both sides, will pretend there’s no crisis and that it’s still 1958.

You know, the oft-repeated Pittsfield manta that “Everything is OK.” Corydon is “excited,” the mayor is “optimistic,” and the School Department is “proud of its accomplishments.” Bring on the dancing girls, pop the champagne corks, and call the roller of fat cigars!!

Even when politicians are forced, kicking and screaming, to acknowledge the need to do something, they are quick to speak in code to public union officials, who possess special decoder rings to interpret the message. It may look to taxpayers as if the pol is making hard fiscal choices, but the secret message is the same: Why tighten the belt when we can keep raising taxes on the unwashed masses?

For example, take Lee — please.

In a recent meeting of the town board, Lee selectmen created a new option for itself in negotiations with town employees over the budget-killing cost of health insurance. Terrified selectmen, though, revealed their true intent in the aftermath. It’s clear: Lee voted to adopt sections 21-23 of M.G.L. 32B. This is the state General Insurance Commission (GIC) plan. This is the taxpayer-friendly provision already in place in Pittsfield because Mayor Jimmy Ruberto put it there. The measure allows cities and towns the option of freely switching health insurance plans for employees without the need for collective bargaining.

No sooner than the Lee Selectmen acted than two predictable things happened:

1. The teachers’ union protested.

2. The politicians retreated.

In these two actions, it became clear that the selectman were playing a jaundiced game: They voted in MGL 32B with no intention to use the provision. Why do it, then? To fool taxpayers and lull them into thinking that their representatives were, you know, actually trying to represent them. Even Pittsfield showed more courage.

‘Profiles in Courage’ Squeak Out

Dig these remarks:

Ginger Rogers (we kid you not), head of  the Lee Education Association, warned of gloom and doom if the select board were stupid enough to try to save taxpayers money. “You don’t need this plan,” Rogers assured them.

Think selectmen got the message?

“Just because we vote tonight to do it doesn’t mean we have to follow through with it. I won’t vote to take it to the max that the law allows us to do. … I don’t think that’s fair to the employees.” — Selectman Gordon Bailey. What about what’s fair to taxpayers, Gordie?

“Nobody’s out to hurt anybody. We’re just trying to do what’s best for the town and what’s best for [the teachers]. — Board Chairwoman Patricia Carlino. You don’t think taxpayers will be hurt if you don’t save them some money, Pat?

Selectman David Consolati voted for the provision and then immediately said he did so reluctantly. Yeah, Conso, they twisted your arm, you “Profiles in Courage” you. As for Town Administrator Bob Nason, he made with The Wallenda, trying to walk the tightrope to please everybody. Nason said he wanted a less expensive healthcare plan for taxpayers but one that would be more generous than GIC provisions. “We’re hopeful that the price will fall somewhere between our current plan and the GIC.” You want to keep the cake without eating it, in other words.

With all this, we conclude with this snippet taken from Yahoo News!

Today, many of the companies contributing to the pensions are struggling with the costs but don’t offer defined benefit plans to new workers.

According to the most recent statistics by the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of defined benefit plans fell to 46,543 in 2010 from 103,346 in 1975. Many of the largest companies are still carrying the funds on their books. Consulting firm Towers Watson (TW) tallies 584 of the Fortune 1000 companies had defined benefit plans at the end of 2011, down from 633 in 2004.

Andrew Liveris, chief executive of Dow Chemical Co. (DOW), which posted a loss of $716 million for the fourth quarter, said the company faces a “massive pension headwind” because of the change in the discount rate that added $2.2 billion to its pension liability. Pension expense this year is going to rise between $250 million and $300 million.

“Other companies have got it, and so we’re not alone, but clearly those are big numbers for us,” Mr. Liveris said.

Overall, pension plan funding fell by $79 billion last year at about 400 large companies with defined benefit plans, according to preliminary estimates by Towers Watson. The total estimated deficit at those firms now stands at $418 billion, 23% more than in 2011, and the highest since the firm began tracking.

Companies, which by law must keep defined benefit pension plans funded within a certain period of time, are taking a variety of paths to address the issue. They are buying out pensioners, unloading pension accounts to third parties and upping their contributions.

 All we can say is, pity the poor taxpayer.
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“And it was then that like a spoken word / Where there was none to speak, insensibly / A flash of blue that might have been a bird / Grew soon to the calm wonder of the sea — / Calm as a quiet sky that looked to be / Arching a world where nothing had occurred.”E. A. Robinson
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.

40 Responses to “UPDATE: ‘PUBLIC SERVANTS’ SERVED ON US A LOT OF DEBT AND OBLIGATIONS … PENSIONS, OPEB READY TO BRING THE OTHER FOOT DOWN ON MASSACHUSETTS CITIES … PITTSFIELD UNFUNDED OPEB LIABILITY $330 MILLION +, BUT POLS NOT WORRIED … IN LEE, SELECT BOARD PLAYS CYNICAL GAME WHEREIN TAXPAYERS WILL LOSE”

  1. Scott
    February 19, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    Shorter weeks increases productivity I’ve read the studies and applied them to my own business. I’ve realized instead of killing yourself at the end of the day is pointless when you can come in the next day fresh and get it done faster. Not really in relation to teachers but that’s not the only public job that needs reform. The problem is that when the economy is in decline everyone makes less money even the billionaires so public employees need to worry about sustaining and providing a good service then when the economy turns in a positive direction ask for a raise then. I’m very thankful I have stayed profitable over the last five years. Some rocky times and more ahead I’m sure but I’m managing. Or maybe adapting is a better word…

  2. Jonathan Melle
    February 19, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    I agree with Dan Valenti that state and local politicians are to blame for the financial mess in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. the late-Peter Arlos used to criticize the Public Payroll Patriots, but he was a hypocrite because he was one himself. Pittsfield is not alone in financial mismanagement. The national debt is over $16 trillion and counting. On Capitol Hill, there is no progress in reforming the federal government. In Boston, the Big Dig cost over $20 billion and cost the state taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars per year in bond payments. Governor Deval Patrick wants to raise state taxes by $2 billion a year. We need to reform government in Pittsfield, Boston, and Washington, D.C.

  3. Jonathan Melle
    February 19, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    Does Dan Valenti know that taxpayers paid trillions of dollars to Wall Street in 2008 and 2009. We bailed out Goldman Sachs. It is heads Wall Street wins, tails the taxpayers lose. That is not capitalism!

  4. Outfox
    February 19, 2013 at 12:41 pm #

    Not a public job, per se, ( although the patients stays are covered by SSI and Mass Health), I was shocked to learn from a friend this morning that she is only making $9/hr at a local nursing home as a front line caretaker. Wow, caring for another human being should be better compensated, IMHO.

    • Scott
      February 19, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

      Private business is more difficult in the aspect that when you need more money you can’t just ask the gov’t for it or in the case of teachers unions and other public employees DEMAND more money.

    • John G.
      February 21, 2013 at 6:25 am #

      OutFox…I worked at Berkshire Meadows briefly when I was between jobs; VERY hard work, VERY meaningful work caring for people who can’t care for themselves. The patients’ lives are literally in the caregivers’ hands and, at $10/hour, they pay the caregivers less than they pay the snow shovellers and floor cleaners who, I believe, earned $12/hr! Wow is right.

  5. Jonathan Melle
    February 19, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    Why does society pay professional athletes millions of dollars per year, while paying teachers tens of thousands of dollars per year? Why do we spend more money on prisons than schools? Why is the U.S.’s #1 non-farm export weapons to other nations? Why do we pay trillions of dollar to Wall Street? Why is Main Street in a state of depression? Why does the Corporate Elite control the system? Why is the ruling class so out of touch with the average working stiff? WHY?

  6. FPR
    February 19, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

    Hey Dan,

    Today’s column is just another piece of the puzzle. I know I get criticized for saying we are heading into a total economic collapse as “scary” but take a good look at the real “state of our union”.

    The “fiscal cliff” turned into a political terminology football but they’ve solved nothing with the deals they made this last go round.

    I state unequivocally that the US dollar is headed for a total collapse. It is unsustainable. Perhaps I will be crucified for such a statement but believe it with every fiber of my being.

    “Christ you know it ain’t easy. You know how hard it can be. The way things are going, they’re gonna crucify me”
    - John Lennon

  7. tito
    February 19, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

    @ FPR, we are already in an economic collapse.

    • FPR
      February 19, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

      true tito yes. However, you can still get supplies with federal reserve notes. Such will not be the case soon.

  8. Dave
    February 19, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    The dollar is gone, The banks are pushing debit and credit cards so much that even McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts needs to accept credit cards now. How frustrating is it to get behind someone buying a $2 coffee and have them pay with their debit card? It isn’t like the commercial where everyone just swipes their card and moves on and the guy with the cash holds up the line-they don’t show the people waiting for the transaction to be approved and the receipt to be signed, but hey that’s advertising. The fees that the credit card companies and banks charge the businesses for accepting their cards is a topic for another day.

    • danvalenti
      February 19, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

      DAVE
      Correct. You can’t emphasize enough the damage caused by easy credit. Credit is spending money you don’t have with ruinous interest rates due at payback. When the mob does this, it’s called loan sharking. I have long loathed credit.

    • Scott
      February 19, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

      Make your own coffee at home in a french press why would you trust a corporation with your health? I know they have organic now but even that hasn’t gotten me back in line to try anything they have to offer it is a nice effort on their part though I’m sure they fooled a lot of people.

  9. FPR
    February 19, 2013 at 7:02 pm #

    Here is a very interesting video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=exuGv3HsV-U

    Rioting across America during “The Great Depression”.
    Interesting that this country was a bit more civil then. Rioting in suits and ties and hats. This was only with 25-30% unemployment.

    The collapse of the dollar will bring on so much worse this time around.

    • Scott
      February 19, 2013 at 7:09 pm #

      A lot more people were directly involved in agriculture and producing their own food back then too. It is scary.

    • danvalenti
      February 19, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

      FPR
      We have had a long and abiding interest in economics, and we agree the dollar is in for a rough ride long term. As of Bretton Woods, the U.S. ratio of gold/monetary supply was 75%. The rest was covered in silver. In 1971, President Nixon took the U.S. off the gold standard because of precious little gold. Meanwhile, fast forward 42 years, the central banks issue massive amounts of currency without anything to back it. Perhaps this is worth a column or even a series.

      • FPR
        February 19, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

        Great Idea Dan. I think a column or series would be of great interest. I know it will be extremely well written, well researched and informative.
        Would look forward to such a thing.

        “Saving up your money for a rainy day,
        Giving all your clothes to charity.
        Last night the wife said,
        “Poor boy, when you’re dead
        You don’t take nothing with you
        But your soul – think!”"
        — JL

    • dusty
      February 20, 2013 at 2:57 am #

      especially if the rioters bring their guns along for protection.

      • FPR
        February 20, 2013 at 5:35 am #

        Funny thing about that is, back then, there basically were no gun laws. Back then you could even order guns through the mail. Back then you could go the Pittsfield police station and easily get an FID card (no picture, no fingerprints). Back then there were no mass shootings. What changed?

        Could it be the massive use psychotropic drugs being prescribed today? Still waiting for the ah ha moment.

        • Dave
          February 20, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

          FPR

          Not making an issue with your stance on the gun laws, but to say “back then there were no mass shootings” is a little naive. We now have a 24/7 news cycle that spans the country in mere seconds. I would dare to say violence in this country has probably always been the same as far as when the economy is thriving there is less crime and the opposite is true in a bad economy. There may be more now, but the 24/7 news cycle is partly to blame, because as we give the wackos the exposure they crave, it may be the last push the next one needs to go forward. Funny how the networks won’t give the guy who jumps onto the ballfield the publicity by not showing his antics, but the mass murderer is plastered all over evry network for weeks after their cowardly act!

          • Scott
            February 21, 2013 at 4:05 am #

            Violence is at an all time low. There has been a 1% increase in murder over the last 15 years or so. You have more of a chance of falling down a flight of stairs and dying than you do of being a victim of Mass murder.

            You can check with the center for disease control and the FBI. The people most likely to be murdered by a gun are males between the age of 17 and 25 in urban areas.

            http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/witness/201112/good-tidings-violence-all-time-low

            The media and politicians are using emotion and the people who are easily subjected to being fooled with emotion as political pawns to disarm America don’t be fooled. Gun control is only about control. We are free in America some say we are not and that has some truth small bits of freedom may be at risk and some are more free than others those who choose to be free and express individual thought and not let fear through media induced mass hysteria and there are those who live a live of fear and control waiting for the gov’t or the media to tell them what to think, what to eat and what is entertainment. If you want to be free kill your TV.

          • Scott
            February 21, 2013 at 4:05 am #

            Violence is at an all time low. There has been a 1% increase in murder over the last 15 years or so. You have more of a chance of falling down a flight of stairs and dying than you do of being a victim of Mass murder.

            You can check with the center for disease control and the FBI. The people most likely to be murdered by a gun are males between the age of 17 and 25 in urban areas.

            http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/witness/201112/good-tidings-violence-all-time-low

            The media and politicians are using emotion and the people who are easily subjected to being fooled with emotion as political pawns to disarm America don’t be fooled. Gun control is only about control. We are free in America some say we are not and that has some truth small bits of freedom may be at risk and some are more free than others those who choose to be free and express individual thought and not let fear through media induced mass hysteria and there are those who live a live of fear and control waiting for the gov’t or the media to tell them what to think, what to eat and what is entertainment. If you want to be free kill your TV.

  10. Giacometti
    February 19, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

    Most people have no idea how currency in U.S. is printed

    most feel that if we need more money we can just print more

    probably because economics is not taught in public schools

    I mean it’s silly watching kids working at McDonald’s trying to

    make change for a dollar bill without being told how to by the

    cash register. These kids are totally lost in space.

    • danvalenti
      February 20, 2013 at 8:38 am #

      Spot on true. Economics is not being taught. Even the simplest aspects of how an economy works and what an economy is — nada. These kids you mention: That is the US’s future. Any wonder why our butts are being kicked all over the planet (though not THE PLANET)? Thanks, G, for your usual insight.

  11. joetaxpayer
    February 20, 2013 at 5:39 am #

    Obama’s economic plan is similar to Wimpy’s. ” I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today” only problem is Tuesday never comes.

  12. ordinary citizen
    February 20, 2013 at 9:18 am #

    not what this is about but any news on the robbery at south st lipton mart ? i understand it was 2 nights ago the windows were smashed out and all according to the sources but funny no news for us taxpayers and citizens to be on the lookout for these morons or so we can be safe in the neighborhoods what is going on in this crazy city ?

  13. Pat
    February 20, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    What do you expect from a school system that is more interested in teaching diversity, green energy, liberal studies, and how great the Democrats are at the expense of teaching them the basics of how society really works.

    • danvalenti
      February 20, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

      PAT
      Well said. The emphasis is on “soft” touchy-feely B.S. and not on reading, writing, math, and hard science. We are raising helpless, cradle-to-grave dolts.

    • Scott
      February 20, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

      What’s wrong with green energy? We should have never moved away from sustainable agriculture and should have led the world in renewable energy. I agree on the “liberal” teachings as a parent you have to instill your own moral code and encourage free thought and creativity. It doesn’t matter where you send your kids. I have sent them to private Christian school and public school neither choices frees you from the responsibility to instill your own beliefs system or moral code if you will. If you don’t take the time to be a parent and be involved with your children’s education you have no one to blame but yourself. Not saying you don’t or haven’t just my opinion as a general statement.

  14. ordinary citizen
    February 20, 2013 at 7:02 pm #

    Thanks Ed but Im not talking that Lipton Mart the one in Pittsfield on South St this was after the store was closed for the night no one was there ..

  15. Evian
    February 20, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

    Planet was that you I saw on a NESN report from Red Sox sprng training, behind the batting cage from Ft. Myers?!

    • PITTSFIELD BELIEVER
      February 20, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

      Must be nice. PLANET pontificating from sunny Fla., milking his MLB connections and taking the sport for a ride. Real “hero” for the little guy, living high in the sun at a 5-star hotel.

      • Scott
        February 21, 2013 at 5:07 am #

        It must be just as nice for you pontificating under a veil of secrecy and anonymity there Pittsfield Deceiver.

  16. Pat
    February 20, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

    So many young people in their late teens and early 20′s are unable to spell and write correctly and are not interested in reading. Schools are just not getting them excited about learning, but are more interested in teaching them about social sciences. I think vocational schools should be encouraged because at least young people come away with actual skills to show for their years of schooling. Schools do have to get back to really working on the basics of reading, writing, and math skills in order to prepare students for the real world.

    I agree with Scott about parents becoming more involved in teaching their children a strong moral code and not leaving it up to the schools to teach their version which may or may not be beliefs that you would want your children to actually follow.

    • Scott
      February 21, 2013 at 4:13 am #

      I teach my kids to think for themselves and if they hear some BS in school or from a religious institution don’t be afraid to question it and use data from other sources as well as their own mind to come to a conclusion that is logical. If something doesn’t sound right don’t just believe it because the school or pastor says so. Can you believe they told my kid a few weeks ago not to bully because 75% of school shootings are caused by bulling??? Where the F did they get that statistic from??? I asked him why don’t go out and kill people because we’ll go to jail or because it’s morally wrong??? See how they use fear as an attempt to stop bullying??? You don’t bully because it’s mean and hurts peoples feelings and you need to put yourself in that situation and realize how you would feel if the roles were reversed not because your afraid of retaliation in the form of a mass shooting.

  17. joetaxpayer
    February 21, 2013 at 5:44 am #

    The kids have to be taught work ethics. Being on time ready and able to work. Some have no desire to work or want to start at the top.Also would be nice if the schools taught both sides of a issue, not just the Liberal side.

    • Scott
      February 21, 2013 at 5:54 am #

      Dude I totally agree with you I can’t tell you how many times I’v hired someone and they lack in the areas you described. I just work by myself now no headaches.