PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6, 2013) — This is the time of year when we begin thinking spring. THE PLANET saw the first daffodil spear — several of them, actually, this morning. They had punctured their way through the soil after a long winter’s rest, ready to bloom into new life. This is the annual reminder we all receive to continue to grow, to reach, to prosper, and the flower. This is an unrelenting psycho-spiritual need shared by all but fully explored as a life’s purpose by only a few. Be the flower. Push through the dirt. Reach for the sky. Take in the sun.

Now that our mini-homily is done (and without a collection!!), THE PLANET gives you a preview of Thursday and Friday’s columns. They have to do with the working of city government, specifically, the continued disconnect between city side and school side. We have an exclusive for you, a case-in-point example of where the school department was, as Candid Camera‘s Allen Funt used to say, caught in the act of being itself. The school department snubbed a good-faith attempt by the Pittsfield City Council’s Finance Subcommittee on an initiative pertaining to city finances. Sounds like dry stuff, until you read about the actions of the cast of characters and realize that this is a department (PPS) that controls $90 million (70%) of the overall $133 million budget. The matter will come to a head on March 13 and will likely play out until after the debate is over for the municipal FY14 budget.

You won’t want to miss this PLANET EXCLUSIVE. Our two-part series begins Thursday and concludes Friday.



Now that the Feds lists Pittsfield as an “entitlement city” (trust us, it’s not High Honors on the Herberg Honors List), we need to pay close attention to Mayor Dan Bianchi‘s reputed hiring of a new director of the Office of Community Development. She hails from Sacramento, Calif.

Want to know about Sacramento? Check out this prior edition of THE PLANET:

A Thought Experiment

THE PLANET pretended we knew nothing about this and conducted a thought experiment. We also pretended we were a business that was considering Pittsfield for expansion. We went on the city’s web site. We tried to find information on what would be a key hire as far as we, the expanding business, was concerned.

THE PLANET went to the link for OCD. Nothing there about a recent hire, only the listing for Bonnie Galant as “acting director.” Oh yeah, that and a puff adder about how “this is an exciting time in the City of Pittsfield.” When has it not been, according to “official Pittsfield.”

How do you get there from here? Not by e-mail, for sure.

Okay, so caught up in the “excitement,” Mr. Businessman looked for an e-mail address so he could send a message to Gallant, the mayor, or anyone else who might be faintly in charge. Almost four years after THE PLANET brought this issue four-score front-and-center in a mayoral primary debate, asking why there were no e-mail addresses to make communication with the city easier for citizens, constituents, and people like Mr. Businessman, you still can’t find an address, except, mysteriously, for my Right Honorable Good Friends on the city council. Tell me: Should this encourage or discourage Mr. Businessman?

Mr. Businessman, who knows that the first part of due diligence is to perform such anonymous scouting when considering a potential location (which is why he didn’t just pick up a phone), then went to the mayor’s page, where he found a link reading “News Room.” Surely he’d find current information there.

When MB went to the news room, he found 14 press releases, the most recent of which was dated April 6, 2012.

There is no way to measure the damage from something as seemingly this “small.” Not having up-to-date e-mail addresses probably keeps many calls from ever being made, and there won’t be any way to measure it. This is an example of the Silent Death the failed leadership of Pittsfield government has wrought upon the city.

Just for the sake of saying it, a hypothetical Valenti Administration would immediately order valid e-mail address for every city official mentioned on the website. An RFP for a website redesign wouldn’t be far off.



When we discussed the legislation being co-sponsored by 3rd Berkshire Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, we found the large majority of those expressing a point of view agreed with us that the bill — which would study adding a pay-as-you-go mileage tax on all Commonwealth motorists — agreed with us that the bill was a dumb idea.

One of the major concerns that TFB failed to address were those related to privacy. Most of us immediately grasped the threat to personal privacy that would come from putting a state-ordered GPS system in every vehicle. Then we came across this item from the Associated Press:

—– 00 —–

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Little Rock may not be a likely terrorism target or a gang crime hotspot, but the Arkansas capital has decided to follow the example of high-security cities by expanding electronic surveillance of its streets.

A police car with a device that photographs license plates moves through the city and scans the traffic on the streets, relaying the data it collects to a computer for sifting. Police say the surveillance helps identify stolen cars and drivers with outstanding arrest warrants.

It also allows authorities to monitor where average citizens might be at any particular time. That bothers some residents, as well as groups that oppose public intrusions into individual privacy. The groups are becoming more alarmed about license plate tracking as a growing number of police departments acquire the technology.

In Little Rock, even some city officials wonder about keeping data on drivers’ movements.

“It bothered me particularly if someone wasn’t guilty of a crime or didn’t have any active warrants or hadn’t committed a crime,” city director Ken Richardson said.

—– 00 —–

 It is the probability of misuse that should keep this type of massive data collection out of the hands of the police, the criminal justice system, and government. Those who advocate for more encroachment in privacy by citing the tired “terrorism card” will say that similar information is already in the hands of government. This, we counter, puts forth evidence then why the new measure is not needed. Government can harvest all sorts of data now. THE PLANET sees no need to make it easier by giving them more.
Held in a lunar synthesis, / Whispering lunar incantations / Dissolve the floors of memory / And all its clear relations / Its divisions and precisions, / Every street lamp I pass / Beats like a fatalistic drum, / And through the spaces of the dark / Midnight shakes the memory / As a madman shakes a dead geranium.” — T.S. Eliot, from “Rhapsody on a Windy Night.”



  1. FPR
    March 6, 2013 at 9:03 am #

    Hey Dan. It is true that there is a disconnect between citizens and govt with modern technology such as email.

    True story: Several years ago I witnessed a car accident. A pickup truck coming out of a side street T-boned a car. Happened right in front of me. I immediately took out a small camcorder and started filming. The pickup truck took off – hit and run. While I didn’t get the actual impact on film, I did everything else, including the license plate of the pickup truck that left the scene.

    The woman was pretty dazed and confused and her entire driver door was pushed in with glass all over her. There was a crowd of people gathering and the police came. To make a long story short, I offered to email the filming I did to the victim and/or to the police. I was told no one would give me their email address and the police officer told me to stop asking for one.

    The officer advised me that I was interfering with a police investigation and I could be arrested. I simply shut my mouth, got in my car and drove away.

    You would think there was some sort of email that one could contact the police with a crime but no. This was in the great state of Texas. To this day, I don’t know what ever became of that accident, nor do I care.

    • Scott
      March 6, 2013 at 11:47 am #

      You can file a police report online.

      Try finding the link on your own though what Dan says is right the city website is difficult to navigate and I happened on this page by accident so I had it in my history look around on be nosy it’s interesting and I have actually filed a report online is the past to report check scam artist.

  2. tito
    March 6, 2013 at 9:19 am #

    We’re you on a horse when you filmed it?

    • FPR
      March 6, 2013 at 9:43 am #

      I fail to see the point of that question. No I was in my car going north. The pickup truck came out of side road almost hitting me but missing and hitting a woman going south in the other lane. Officer tito.

  3. Ron Kitterman
    March 6, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    I think if you put commas between “The woman , was pretty , dazed and confused ” they could have helped you a little more

  4. Joe Pinhead
    March 6, 2013 at 10:45 am #

    More importantly the lack of valid e-mail addresses and electronic information shows the City, its administration and legislative branch are out of touch regarding how real business in the private sector is conducted. We are now and have been competing on a global scale quite literally; EVERY corporation larger than 3 employees is communicating and making relevant information available electronically. Many top notch Cities are sending out communications regarding site availability its zoning, what current State and Federal packages are available for “leveraging” etc. But that would mean paying more than lip service to job creation. Just wondering what or who is the current web developer / hosting and dare I guess who they know?
    Besides look at the money people have made here on poverty, they can claim they have been trying to bring in business etc, take a good look at how much money the 1% here in the city have made off of poverty.
    Ooh how the children have suffered.

    And Please do not let any public official know the where abouts of the daffodil spears, they will initiate a tax instantly.
    Just Sayin

  5. The Kraken
    March 6, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    Just wanted you all to know that I did email State Rep. Paul Mark in regards to H3142 and he did reply to me, and stated that he is against this bill.
    I encourage everyone to contact their state rep. in regards to this bill. If enough of us speak up, we can stop it.

    • Mike Ward
      March 6, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

      Right on.

  6. tito
    March 6, 2013 at 11:38 am #

    Here we have the President and the Congress trying to implement alternative fuel use so not to be dependent on foreign oil, and now our legislator in a word, wants to supplement the ever dwindling tax revenue from this present tax, by taxing us to make up for the loss revenue. This is plain an simple an unwanted tax, get your dollars another way Representaive.

  7. Jonathan Melle
    March 6, 2013 at 11:43 am #

    Over the past decade in Pittsfield, the Office of Community Development has spent many millions of dollars on revitalizing North Street. This has NOT brought jobs, lower taxes, or a better local economy. What will the new OCD Director focus on in Pittsfield?

  8. Still wondering
    March 6, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    All TFB really did was do what she had been told. Comes with the territory if you are a democrat on Beacon Hill. It’s an unanswered question as to whether she really supports the whole thing. Doesn’t matter anyway. She’ll just keep doing what she is told.

  9. Jonathan Melle
    March 6, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    Pittsfield politics should be called the Good Old Boy network show.

  10. Magic
    March 6, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

    I am not a fan of how my city is being run, but I must say that I have been able to contact my councilman without any delay. Once because of my concern of the Hancock Rd (I live there) project and just today I received an e-mail from him advising the neighborhood of break ins that have occured in the past few weeks.

    I am so dissapointed in the politics here having been born and raised and lived here for all of about 15 years of my life. I almost 70.

    Why not foot police in downtown? I don’t go there in the evening. I work downtown 4 days a week and I don’t stay after hours especially in the winter. I was raised in the West End ane it was a much different time.

    • Magic
      March 6, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

      “West End and” (sorry for the typo)

  11. tito
    March 6, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

    The Fire Department is currently running a 160,ooo deficit, because of the abnormal number of fires, could someone explain the formula? Was that overtime, not enough firefighters? I’m all for our firefighters, don’t get me wrong.

  12. tito
    March 6, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

    Now, we are supposed to get a little snow over the next couple days, so if you see a plow come down your street, and you don’t think we should be plowing because the accumulation is not that great, call your City Councilor.

    • Joe Pinhead
      March 6, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

      By all means contact your Councilor but it would be best to use your phone and provide a little video as well.

      Just sayin

      • Scott
        March 7, 2013 at 4:01 am #

        Can he film from his horse?,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  13. Joe Blow
    March 6, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

    Speaking of Big Brother, Sen. Rand Paul is speaking the truth tonight with the filibuster.

  14. tito
    March 6, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

    I don’t know, I’m flipping channels and Krol was on the Lew Marksham show, talking about Pittsfield Promise and reading to the child before it is born, deep stuff you know. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase cradle to grave, good grief.

    • Dave
      March 6, 2013 at 7:21 pm #

      Consider This, tito………………………..

  15. Dave
    March 6, 2013 at 7:22 pm #


  16. tito
    March 6, 2013 at 7:51 pm #

    ,,,getting commas, the ultimate disrespect.

  17. dusty
    March 7, 2013 at 1:53 am #

    The police union wants a civil service chief without political ties. This sounds like a good idea to me. Bianchi should know how the people feel about this. If the mayor controls the chief it cannot be good for even handed law enforcement.

    • Scott
      March 7, 2013 at 4:00 am #

      I don’t know man at first I thought what’s the big deal but when you look at the true agenda it seems like the police department want’s more control with less oversight that can’t be a good thing. I’m interested in the ACLU’s research on the militarization of police forces across America finally someone is saying this has gone too far. The whole point of our system of gov’t is that there is oversight. Take that away and all hell breaks loose I mean look at what the crooked bastards get away with now…