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QUICK HITS & HOT LIX — FRANCIS TELLS IT LIKE IT IS … SCHOOL BUILDING AMUSO TELLS IT LIKE IT AIN’T … NEW CITY WEBSITE AN IMPROVEMENT BUT STILL NOT ‘THERE’ … VALENTI AS JESUS or AS MAYOR? … BERKSHIRE ENTERPRISES: NEW DIGS FOR AN EXCELLENT PROGRAM … BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS AT MAD JACK’S BBQ … plus … EXTREMISM, ala 1956

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, MARCH 28, 2013) — Quick Hits and Hot Licks, served today with a nice St. Esteph medoc 1960, will, we trust, go down rather well with today’s hot-plate items.

Francis: Telling It Like It Is — Prior to his election as Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio

Telling it like it is.

made a speech in which he roasted the Roman Catholic Church for being “stagnant” and “self-referential.” If THE PLANET had been there, we would have given him a standing O. Word of Bergoglio’s stunning speech came in a magazine article written by Cardinal Jaime Ortega of Havana, Cuba. Begoglio said the Church need to look outside rather than inside, or it would become what it has become: sick. “The evils that, over time, occur in ecclesiastical institutions have their root in self-referentiality, a kind of theological narcissism,” Bergoglio said, adding that whoever became the new pope should be “a man who … helps the Church move from itself toward the existential outskirts.” In no way can we imagine Josef Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) or Karol Wojtyla (John Paul II) coming close to those sort of speech. If they had done so, perhaps the Church would be closer to living up to its ideals instead of having allowed itself to be run (and overrun) by corrupt, ignorant, ossified, “self-referential” old men known as the Curia. Viva Francis.

Kathleen Amuso: Telling it like it ain’t.

Telling It Like It Ain’t : Amuso — “We are in a bit of a holding pattern.” That’s how Kathy Amuso, co-chair of the school building needs commission and school committee member, phrased her group’s fiddling, diddling, daddling, and doodling on the fate of Taconic High School. It was like Capt. Smith announcing to the passengers on the Titanic, “We have taken on a little bit of water.” Amuso essentially blamed the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for the lack of progress thus far. Actually, the blame lies within her group generally and with her lack of leadership specifically. With a handful of exceptions (Chuck Vincelette, Ellen Kennedy), the commission has been staffed with too many of the “usual suspects” (Krol, K. Yon, Massimiano, J. Cote, etc.), GOB types, and wannabes who love seeing their names on the letterhead but don’t care to roll up the sleeves and get to work. Just to study what to do about Taconic, the city wants to spend $1.3 million of your tax money. The city will pay a project manager $350,000, an architect $800,000, $100,000 for environmental and testing, plus $50,000 for the dreaded “other.” That’s just to produce a set of plans and options, without a single brick being laid.

New City Website A Step Up — The City of Pittsfield’s new website has one feature that THE PLANET has been pushing for several years: e-mail addresses. That is good news. If you click on a city department, you will get a description of the office. To the left, you will find hot links, and at bottom left, the key contact, with mail address, phone, FAX, and e-mail. The e-mail links are especially helpful, and it has long been a gaping hole in the city’s web presence. On our first (albeit quick) tour of the new site at cityofpittsfield.org, THE PLANET found the website an improvement. However, the site has inconsistencies. We wonder, for example, why there are no e-mail addresses for the “City Schools” link.? Also, why, when you click on “Mayor’s Office” under the “Government” tab, is the “contact” link inactive? Why, as one of our correspondents pointed out, when you click on the master plan, nothing happens? Click on the mayor’s “staff” link, and you will not find one e-mail address. The listing for “Boards and Commissions” does not include e-mail address or hot links. There are no e-mail addresses for the police department, including chief Mike Wynn. In addition, the site is slow to load. The website is better than what the city had, but we hope it’s a work in progress — that is to say, if this is the finished product, it might be “back to the drawing board” time.

Look Down Upon Your Son — The revived Ecumenical Good Friday procession, which hits Pittsfield streets on tomorrow, will not, as rumor has it, feature Dan Valenti carrying the cross through the streets of Pittsfield. Insiders, players, local tattlers, and twitchy GOB-types have been discussing how Valenti might use the occasion to rehearse his alleged upcoming mayoral campaign. Those who have been trying to draft Valenti for a run at the corner office say that the GOB would turn such an effort into a “crucifixion” that would make Kinnas Kangaroo Kourt look like hippity hop to the barbershop. We don’t know about that, but if that occurred, we would call it a “crucifiction.”

BCC’s Berkshire Enterprises: A Program that Works — Let’s list them: 1Berkshire, Berkshire Enterprises, Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, Berkshire Visitor’s Bureau, Berkshire Creative, Berkshire County Regional Employment Board, Berkshire Film & Media Commission, MassDevelopment — We could go on and on and on and on. As the joke has it, each of the innumerable “jobs creation” and “economic development” agencies that have popped up like poppies in Flanders create two jobs, guaranteed: A con job and a snow job. Of the lot, Berkshire Enterprises has actually had some success. BE has helped small business owners establish a beachhead and have a go in the Dreaded Private Sector. That’s why we applaud Berkshire Community College’s new partnership with 1Berkshire. Berkshire Enterprises is an experiment of BCC’s Office of Workforce Development, and it has been successful. Since 1989, BE’s graduates have begun 37 businesses that have given jobs to 96 people. THE PLANET wishes BE much continued success as it moves into the old firehouse, Central Station, on Allen Street. (Let’s add full disclosure here: THE PLANET is a faculty member in BCC’s English Department). We only hope that the molasses of bureaucracy that flows gummily through the corridors of 1Berkshire follows a wide berth about BE.

Breakfast of Champions — Those looking for an early start to their day might consider Mad Jack’s BBQ at 295 North St. At its most recent meeting, the Pittsfield Licensing Board approved a plan that will allow Mad Jack’s to begin serving alcohol at 10 a.m. instead of at noon. THE PLANET recently enjoyed a delicious lunch at Mad Jack’s with our good friend Mike Ward. Ward washed his ribs down with ice tea. THE PLANET quaffed on black coffee, the perfect compliment to our veggie burger.

Extremism, 1956 Style — Finally, we share this delightful bit from our current read, a book titled Ike &

The Choice: Can you identify these men?

Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage by Jeffrey Frank. In the 1956 presidential race, Dwight Eisenhower ran as the incumbent against his opponent from 1952, Adlai Stevenson. Frank writes: “Outwardly, the 1956 campaign was remarkably free of substance; the comedian Mort Sahl’s routine that year included the observation that ‘Eisenhower stands for “gradualism.” Stevenson stands for “moderation.” Between these two extremes, the people must choose.’” Rather sounds like the choice voters had in 2011 in the city of Pittsfield: Dan Bianchi or Peter Marchetti: “Moderation” versus “Gradualism,” which is a choice destined to produce fence sitting at its mildest and devolution at its worst.

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“The barberry fruit sticks on the small hedge, / cold slices the same crease in the finger, / the same thorn hurts. The leaf repeats the lesson.”Robert Lowell

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

34 Responses to “QUICK HITS & HOT LIX — FRANCIS TELLS IT LIKE IT IS … SCHOOL BUILDING AMUSO TELLS IT LIKE IT AIN’T … NEW CITY WEBSITE AN IMPROVEMENT BUT STILL NOT ‘THERE’ … VALENTI AS JESUS or AS MAYOR? … BERKSHIRE ENTERPRISES: NEW DIGS FOR AN EXCELLENT PROGRAM … BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS AT MAD JACK’S BBQ … plus … EXTREMISM, ala 1956”

  1. Magic
    March 28, 2013 at 9:26 am #

    If I (tax payer) am paying 1.3 million for a feasiblity study what am I paying for the new school, addition or whatever it is going to be. Besides I thought it had already been determined that an addition was needed. I hate wasting my money, especially now that I am almost 70 yrs. young and don’t have grandchildren in this school system, never mind children. Annoyed to say the least.

  2. Still wondering
    March 28, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    Declining school enrollment, declining population, declining jobs, declining infrastructure… and we are (most likely) going to not only keep the 2 high school model but we’ll replace Taconic High??? Seriously???

    • danvalenti
      March 28, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

      SW
      With less than half as many high school students than when Taconic went up, the city could easily get by with one school. The “Taconic dilemma” (build new or renovate) is part of a phony scheme to bleed taxpayers and reward a tiny handful of GOBs.

      • In the know
        March 28, 2013 at 6:39 pm #

        Dan so please tell us the names of the GOB who will get rewarded for building a new Taconic.

        • danvalenti
          March 28, 2013 at 7:07 pm #

          They have yet to be chosen, ITK.

  3. NBI
    March 28, 2013 at 10:24 am #

    To the critics who claim the city hasn’t created any new jobs, I say hogwash. We are about to add $1.3 million to the payrolls. Unfortunately the jobs will unlikely be given to any Pittsfield residents. But we are creating new jobs somewhere … can’t argue with that! Wouldn’t you love to know how much this city has paid various consultants over the years? What do we have to show for most of them? Great job if you can get it.

    And then there is the topic of improving the lives of the struggling underpaid, by righting salary wrongs. For example the incoming super’s $50K pay increase from his current position. Maybe he’s worth it, who knows. How will we measure our return on investment? Why not have an incentive based system of achieving goals? Would he have come here for less since he was just down the road? Probably. I predict this is just a stepping stone. In three years the revolving door will spin again, we’ll up the ante to $200K or more. Maybe I can get into an accelerated PhD program and apply in 2016!!

  4. Jonathan Melle
    March 28, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    The single largest employer in Pittsfield is the City of Pittsfield. You have to be connected to a Good Old Boy to work for the city or one of the many non-profits. If you speak out against the Good Old Boy network, you will be black-listed from employment in Pittsfield. This is why thousands of people and their families have moved away from Pittsfield. To illustrate, if Michael Jordan in his prime wanted to play basketball for a living in Pittsfield, he would have to pay tribute to the Good Old Boy network. If he spoke out against the Good Old Boys, he would be black-listed from employment in Pittsfield. It doesn’t matter how good he is at basketball. What matters is that he benefits the Good Old Boys who run Pittsfield. The bottom line in Pittsfield is not the private sector, which is vastly outnumbered by the government and non-profits, but rather, it is the Good Old Boy network.

    • Shakes His Head
      March 28, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

      Incorrect, it is Berkshire Health Systems.

      • Jonathan Melle
        March 28, 2013 at 1:22 pm #

        Who has more unfunded liabilities? The City of Pittsfield has huge debts, as Dan Valenti points out. The taxpayers pay not only the thousands of city’s employees (including teachers), but they are on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in debt for health insurance and pension costs. Moreover, BHS is a non-profit. The Good Old Boy network controls all of the city and non-profit jobs. If you speak out against the Good Old Boy network, you will never find a decent job in Pittsfield. The private sector barely exists in Pittsfield. If you want a good job in Pittsfield, you have to be related to or close to the Good Old Boy network. That’s how it works in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. I spoke out against the Good Old Boys, such as Andrea Nuciforo, and I was black-listed from getting or keeping a good job in Pittsfield. I was once unemployed in Pittsfield for over one year of my adult life while living in and around Pittsfield. I know how it works from personal experience.

        • Joe Blow
          March 28, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

          If you are so against this stuff why do you vote D.?

          • Kate Dempsey
            March 28, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

            Because if he voted “R,” he would more than likely get kicked off public assistance and have to find work.

            I wonder if the “new” Taconic will include a police substation next to the marijuana dispensary next to the gym?

          • danvalenti
            March 28, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

            The last line, KATE, is devastatingly to the punch, with more truth than most would suspect.

          • Jonathan Melle
            March 28, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

            I am a Disabled Veteran, not a homeless Veteran. I served our nation Honorably. I am a Democrat, but I don’t agree with everything they do. I like Dan Valenti because he is a good man and he is an independent thinker like me. I try to be a good man and live a responsible life.

      • Kevin
        March 29, 2013 at 4:44 am #

        Followed by Berkshire Life

  5. Ron Kitterman
    March 28, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

    BHS or City of Pittsfield are both playing for the same team just wear different uniforms and are in different divisions, sort of like the JV’s and the varasity teams from high school.

  6. Evian
    March 28, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

    Well done, Planet on all these items. Thanks for this site.

  7. dusty
    March 28, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    Maybe it is just because I have lived in this city too long but I feel like this whole Taconic school thing is simply a tool to spread large sums of money around to connected people and businesses. I felt that way about the Colonial, the Beacon, and the North street Renaissance as well just to to name a few.

  8. FPR
    March 28, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

    Wow Dan,

    Another cool 1.3 Million dollars down the drain. Sort of makes the $100,000 Spectrum loss to taxpayers pale in significance. A drop in the bucket. A bag of shells.

    “Just to produce a set of plans and options, without a single brick being laid”. Unfreakinbelievable.

    The salary increase to teachers came from the “free cash” this year, what about next year?

    “We have to raise taxes” “We have no choice”. Can see that coming like a freight train.

    Hasn’t the school system in Pittsfield bled the taxpayers enough?

    Even though its 2013, the town I moved to is like going back to the 1970′s. The locals here call it backwards but I call it a little slice of heaven. $245.00 taxes a year on a $100,000.00 piece of property, and that’s it.

    Pittsfield will always but my home town but I could never afford to move back there.

    • danvalenti
      March 28, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

      FPR
      Yes, $1.3 million to produce a study. Neigh one brick will be moved. “Thick as a brick,” as Tull sang.
      You have pretty much outlined the whole scheme for bleeding Pittsfield taxpayers, mostly via the school system.

    • In the know
      March 28, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

      FPR Just wondering what kind of services do you get for$245? Do you live next to a nuclier waste dump?

      • FPR
        March 28, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

        You’d be quite surprised how much you can get without a corrupt GOB network. Very surprised.

        No nukes round here. No PCB’s. Fresh Air and Clean water here. Lots of it.

  9. outfox
    March 28, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

    Re: the “self reverential” Catholic church, how is it legal for a crucifix to be paraded through the streets of Pittsfield?

    • danvalenti
      March 28, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

      It would be considered protected free speech. No one is forced to join or view the procession.

      • outfox
        March 28, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

        Ok, so with the proper parade permit, it’s kosher? Pun intended…

        • outfox
          March 28, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

          Wait a minute. How come mangers must be displayed only on church property, then?

          • danvalenti
            March 28, 2013 at 8:15 pm #

            It’s one of the maddening inconsistencies of an illogical, timid civic “leadership.”

      • Kevin
        March 29, 2013 at 4:47 am #

        But do not have a Cigarette lit…..that’s Offensive…LOL

  10. tito
    March 28, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    You must be enjoying the Orange, eh Deacon?

    • danvalenti
      March 29, 2013 at 7:41 am #

      Correct-a-mundo, as my old radio sidekick Bullet Bob Shade used to say. Thanks, T.

  11. Giacometti
    March 28, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

    The Cultural Calender on the new City Web Site is from 2011 and 2012 and it also lists the Storefront Artists Project which hasn’t existed in over a year and the Ferrin Gallery that is closing soon
    …sounds a little fishy to me…like the GOB’s are still in charge.

    • danvalenti
      March 29, 2013 at 7:41 am #

      Pathetic. Thanks, G.

    • Still wondering
      March 29, 2013 at 9:18 am #

      Storefront still exists on paper and does throw an event or two. Ferrin Gallery is closed.

  12. Scott
    March 29, 2013 at 5:21 am #

    Good for the pope a lot of Catholics take offense when you point out the flaws of the institution but like they say the first step to fixing your problems is admitting you have one. One thing people get wrong is that critics want the church to fall and maybe some do but for me I hope they raise up even though it’s not my religion. Religious institutions can do a lot of good in the world. I am still a little skeptic but hopeful that the new pope lives up to what he’s preaching.