CAFUA FATE TO BE DECIDED ON MAY 28; PLANET’s PREDICTIONS DARE TO CALL THE OUTCOME … MEDICAL MARIJUANA: WHAT HIGH PITTSFIELD SILLINESS … plus … A TOUGH WEEK FOR THE PRESIDENT
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY-SUNDAY, MAY 17-19, 2013) — At its final meeting of this month, our Right Honorable Good Friends on the city council will in all likelihood decide the fate of the application by Cafua development company to purchase the Plunkett School site in Pittsfield, tear it down, and put in its place a new Dunkin Donuts store, complete with drive-through window — what THE PLANET has been calling the DD- DT.
More Donuts? Cool … the Market will Bear Them … It’s the DT that’s the Problem
There’s no issue with Cafua purchasing the site. The company using private capital. There’s no issue, fundamentally, with its desire to build a new DD. If the market will support another donut shop — and by looking at how many motorized wheelchairs and wide-body scooters toot the streets of Pittsfield, it appears one could not have too many fat-peddling snack shacks — good for Cafua. The issue is the drive-through, that is, the DT part of DD. The DD-DT requires the council’s supermajority approval, 8-3 or better, for a special permit to be granted. The issue has been heavily discussed, and, barring the unforeseen, will come to a vote on May 28.
The drive-through requires council ruling, and rightly so. Drive-throughs mess with traffic patterns, and the First and Fenn intersection is one of the most heavily traversed in Berkshire County. In addition, right around the corner stands the notorious Pittsfield Post Office parking lot, a sliver of land that simply cannot accommodate the traffic volume. That city regulations require a council up-or-down explicitly grants our Right Honorable Good Friends standing in the case. By virtue of this standing, Cafua will be hard pressed to win in its threatened lawsuit should the council reject the company’s application for the DT.
Fearless Predictions of the Outcome
At that council meeting, there will first be an open public hearing, at which time all interested and uninterested parties may speak. Following that, the council will vote. The drama comes from Cafua’s implied threat of legal action should the council not allow the DT. The developer’s lawyers all but assured a lawsuit if seven or more councilors vote against the DT. THE PLANET says fine. Bring it on.
THE PLANET has a prediction on the outcome:
1. There’s no way the DT is going through. The council will turn down the DT. The council will cite the DT’s issues with the master plan and with neighborhood compatibility with respect to the city’s intended and more pedestrian-friendly goals for that section. Again, keep in mind the council has legal standing here. In effect, the law empowers it to act as judge and jury on the DT’s efficacy.
2. We don’t even see a close vote. In fact, we predict either 10-1 against or no worse than 9-2, with at large’s Barry Clairmont and possibly Ward 3’s Paul Capitanio voting to approve. Ultimately, we believe Cappy will make the vote 10-1.
3. This matter will go to court. Cafua’s introduction of case law and legal precedents in council chambers all but assures going the Perry Mason route.
4. It will be a protracted battle, but the city will prevail. The council has standing, and land-use case law will support the decision.
THE PLANET would urge all those who have a view on this to let the city council know. Again, the public hearing is May 28. Let THE PLANET know, too. That is also a way to let the council know how you feel.
MEDICAL MARY JANE FOR PITTSFIELD? WHAT HIGH SILLINESS!
Pittsfield wants to put in facilities for medical marijuana. THE PLANET wonders, “Why?”
The matter reeks with the sweet, smoky smell of hypocrisy. The “medical marijuana” tactic is the type of half measure that political fence sitters love. Its backers think it splits the difference between the insane policy of making pot illegal and what society should have done long ago, which is, of course, to legalize, regulate, and tax Mary Jane.
Plain and simple, for every legitimate medical use of pot, there will be a landslide of bogus prescriptions issued to folks who have but one intention: to get high.
Medical Mary Jane Doesn’t Go Far Enough
Marijuana has the beneficent effect of relieving the suffering caused by certain types of illness, but the fact of the matter is that most marijuana use falls into the “recreational” category, the same type of stress relief people seek in booze, though Mother Nature is much safer. It’s preposterous to think that dispensing marijuana will be limited to genuine illness. People will go to their doctors, claim pain suffering from things like the heartbreak of psoriasis and tennis elbow, get an Rx for pot, and let the good times roll. There will also be many who get prescriptions for legalized medical marijuana who will in turn sell the dope at many times street value to support their addictions to far worse substances or simply to make a profit.
To be clear, THE PLANET strongly favors the legalization of marijuana for everyone, not just for sick people. That is the way to go. If pot is legalized, those who wish to enjoy reefers will do so without fear of going criminal. Those who don’t wish to do so will continue to refrain. Legalization will have no marked effect on availability to minors, who already know how to get the stuff. In fact, if you were looking, today, to find a connection to buy pot for recreational use, all you have to do is ask the nearest 15-year-old.
Of the 50 states, 15 have allowed medical marijuana. The law makes it legal to consume, possess, or distribute marijuana for medical use. The law doesn’t go far enough. Marijuana is a wonderful plant, with incredible commercial potential. Its possession, consumption, and distribution should simply be another free market transaction for all who wish to engage.
Every American ought to be able to access the benefits of Mother Nature without having to resort to the black market.
NOT A GOOD WEEK FOR THE PRESIDENT
He’s been under fire for his handling of the deadly attacks on U.S. diplomats in Benghazi. He presides over a Justice Department that secretly accessed phone records of AP reporters. He’s now scrambling to stay afloat amid reports that the IRS targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.
He’s President Barack Obama. He’s had better weeks.
Our quick take?
The IRS (Internal Revenge Service) scandal; Obama Whiffs — When an agency with that much power and ability to look into the affairs of individuals and groups acts in a manner that’s anything but neutral and non-political, it’s a big deal. Obama just brushed aside calls for an independent investigator into the IRS scandal. The move begs the question: What’s there to hide?
Justice Department Spying on Journalists; Obama Whiffs — The First Amendment protects the press. It makes journalists free from political prosecution that in other countries would result in jail time or a visit to the nearest gulag. Moreover, shield laws protect reporters from outing sources. THE PLANET knows all about these things, having NEVER in our long career as a journalist — print, broadcast, and cyberspace — revealed a confidential source for any story. Obama’s justification of leaks pertaining to national security falls flat. This was the sort of thing that did in Richard Nixon.
Bengazi; Obama Scores — Obama’s political enemies have used this attack to hammer the president, after the fact. THE PLANET agrees with the President on the need to look ahead in this case. The dead are dead. What’s most important in light of the attack is bipartisan effort to protect U.S. diplomats around the world. Obama called on Congress to work with him “to increase security at embassies around the world.” Sure, this stance neatly passes the Bengazi ball to Congress’ court; nonetheless, it’s the right posture.
“Within a magic prison, / We reprimand the happiness / That too competes with heaven.” — Emily Dickinson, from “Of God We Ask One Favor”
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.