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!!UPDATED!! — SCANNING THE HEADLINES: ARTSWALK ANNIVERSARY MUCH ADO ABOUT SELF PROMOTION … COUNCILORS WHIFF ON DONUT VOTE BUT GET ANOTHER CHANCE TO PLUG HOLE IN THE MIDDLE … BCC TO GET $23MM FACELIFT FOR ITS TWO MOST IMPORTANT BUILDINGS … HERE WE GO AGAIN: VISITOR’S CENTER RELOCATING … CHARTER COMMISSION CAVES IN TO MAYOR … NEW STEARNS PRINCIPAL NEEDS TO CHOOSE WORDS MORE CAREFULLY … plus … HUMAN SACRIFICE AT PHS SCHOOL GYM?

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

ADD #1 TO MAY 7, 2013, 5/8/13 — There are a bunch of items yesterday, and we shall leave them up for further comments. The discussion among Mike Ward, Dave, and Scott on the Dunkin Donuts drive-through issue produced a crackling good exchange. Each man raised solid points, and the issue, ultimately, is for We The People to decide, through representation by 11 city councilors.

THE PLANET agrees with Ward. Drive-throughs, though as numerous as the creepies at Persip park on Columbus and North, are a bad idea in general.

* First, drive-throughs (DTs) hey accommodate the lazy and the time-pressed. Both of those conditions are choices. In this instance, for a donut shop, lack of a DT would encourage people to actually take a few steps on their own, as they did when they learned to walk.

* Second, DTs cause traffic problems, as Pittsfield has experienced.

* Third, DTs contribute to air pollution, as idling cars stuck in a DT line will pour out a lot more exhaust material that cars parked, ignitions off, in a parking lot.

*Fourth, the proposed DD DT will not fit the character of that neighborhood.

* Fifth, the proposed DD DT does not conform with the goals of Pittsfield current master plan

* Sixth, for all patrons of drive-through windows: Pull into the parking lot, park the car, walk a few steps with your God-given body, and enjoy a little slow down in your otherwise microwaved, frenzied, Pop-Tart existence. Use it as a Zen-moment of tranquility and love.

Again, the matter will be discussed again at the city council meeting on May 28. At that time, our Right Honorable Good Friends will likely take up the vote.

Happy hunting! Oh, and feel free to comment on any of the other stories below.

—– 00 —–

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, MAY 7, 2013) — Small News Items We Need to Examine More Closely:

Artswalk to Mark Anniversary — On Friday, May 3, Pittsfield’s First Monday Artswalk program celebrated its first year with a reception at Spice Dragon on North Street, as if it’s been a great success. This has to be the greatest con job since getting kids to eat marinated broccoli. Both, incidentally, have a beneficent end, one giving kids their iron and minerals, the other putting original art into the hands of buyers. Give credit to entrepreneur Allen Harris for finding a way to infiltrate into the good graces of the Bianchi Administration, handily promoting his business, Berkshire Money Management, in the process. You will notice, for example, on the First Friday Artswalk $100 Artsbuck the prominent name and logo of Harris’ company. For Bianchi, the program has resulted in a few favorable headlines, but little else. Harris provides vouchers redeemable for art purchases. To hear him and Bianchi talk of the program, one would think it has had a dramatic economic impact on — what? — local artists’ abilities to make a living? Downtown revitalization? The sale of art supplies?

When one looks at the results, however, one sees a bottom line much more modest in its appropriation. The vouchers led to the purchase of 30 pieces of art since October. That’s about four purchases, city wide, for each of the monthly Artswalks since then. Four is better than three … or none, but the number certainly doesn’t constitute the type of economic impact the mayor and Harris have talked about. The art itself is as one would expect: of wildly varying appeal and quality, though this judgment is surely in the eyes of the beholder. But four purchases each time out, and that including price supports? It is as poet Theodore Roethke said: “America turns its artists into freaks.”

—– 00 —–

City Council Puts Off Donut Vote — It took our Right Honorable Good Friends on the Pittsfield City Council four hours to decide not to decide on whether to grant a special permit to Cafua Management to install a drive-up window at the new Dunkin Donuts coffee shop it wants to build on the site of the former Plunkett School. Lawyers for Cafua told the council the issue at hand was not the fate of the former Plunkett School but only the drive-up window. That was the “out” for which councilors must have secretly been praying, but they didn’t the acumen to see it, apparently. If they had agreed to decide only that issue, the matter would have gone down to defeat, then and there (it only needs four votes to defeat, since special permits require at least an 8-3 supermajority), because the last thing the city needs at Fenn and First is a drive-through window.

Surely, there are at least four votes on this council — and hopefully more — that see the folly of providing a drive-up window for a location that is already one of the most traffic clogged … or have you never tried to drive up or down Fenn Street near the First Street intersection, that is, near the postage-stamp front entrance to the Pittsfield Post Office? Instead of cashing in on the opportunity handed to them by Cafua’s lawyers, timid councilors, perhaps bluffed by Cafua’s threat of lawsuits, got off on hours of tangents, many of the minutes related to the historicity of Plunkett School, which Cafua wants to demolish.

The council takes up the matter again on May 28. Our Right Honorable Good Friends, the matter is simple: The last thing you want to approve for that location is a drive-through window. It’s a donut shop. Let people park in the parking lot and drag their fat butts out the car to purchase their lard. If Cafua doesn’t want to pursue a DD without a drive-up window, that’s their decision. Councilors: Deny the drive-through and put the ball back in Cafua’s hands.

—– 00 —–

College Readies $23 Million Project — Professor Valenti has taught for decades in both Hawthorne and Melville halls on the campus of Berkshire Community College. We still marvel at the bizarre architectural configuration of these two buildings, and at the beginning of the semester, we can always count the most frequently asked student question: “How do you get to the rest room?” To enter the buildings is like walking into a Max Escher drawing: Up seems down, in seems out, corridors lead to nowhere, and nowhere opens up into entrances and exits. Good news, though: the state has approved a designer for the first major renovation of the college’s primary academic spaces since they were built in 1969. It is especially gratifying to see this happen during the first year of President Ellen Kennedy‘s administration. Kennedy has brought a new sense of esprit de corps to the campus, and the physical transformation of BCC’s two most important buildings will reflect well Kennedy’s forward-looking attitude. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2015.

—– 00 —–

Visitors Center Relocating to Bus Station — No matter how you play this, the story of the Visitor Center‘s hegira at various locations in Pittsfield neatly symbolizes a politically incapacitated city unsure of who and what it is. Other cities and town have visitor’s centers anchored in place, and familiarity, in this case, breeds usage. Now, once again, after moving from its most recent location at the Colonial Theatre, folks needing help from the VB will first have to find it first … again. Previous locations have led to controversies — an apt symbol of Pittsfield’s civic neuroses — and whose to say it won’t happen again? THE PLANET also questions the location. The bus station, as you probably well know, finds itself submerged in its creepy, three-season “critters,” a sub-class of folks (drifters, alcoholics, druggies, retarded, and others who have chosen to fall through the cracks) who will give visitors second and third thoughts about making Pittsfield a stop.

—– 00 —–

Charter Group Tweaks Document — Not much to say here, except the charter commission erred in striking language that would give the city council a standing committee to review mayoral appointments. True, the full council will still have up-or-down review, but the standing committee would act as a screen, in the same way other subcommittees do. Mayor Dan Bianchi didn’t like this provision, saying it would severely hamper a mayor’s  ability to attract new employees. The mayor’s objection, however, does not stand up to logic. Why will a subcommittee charged with the same task as the council as a whole put any more of an obstacle in the way of hiring? The mayor doesn’t say and doesn’t have to: The commission caved in on this point. In any case, the revised charter now must pass mayoral, council, state legislature, and gubernatorial approvals. If those hurdles are jumped, the new language goes to voters in November.

New Stearns Principal Selected — Congratulations to Aaron Dean, who will replace retiring Jean Bednarski as principal of Stearns School for the new school year. Dean has previously served as a roving music teacher for the Pittsfield schools. He has no previous administrative experience. Dean said, “My whole philosophy is the arts should be integrated.” THE PLANET hopes this is not literally true. If this statement accurately describes Dean’s entire academic philosophy, one can only wonder what will happen to the basics — you know, them old friends known as “The Three Rs,” beginning in September. We would rather choose a more generous approach here, and hope that Dean was not speaking the literal truth. We hope he wants to emphasize the arts but not have the arts be his “whole philosophy.” THE PLANET would advise the new principal to choose his words more carefully.

—– 00 —–

Funds Eyed for PHS Gym Floor — Mayor Bianchi wants an unspecified amount of capital to replace or fix the gym floor at PHS. Reason: The floor, according to basketball coach Steve Ray, has become “extremely slippery and unsafe.” In December, the school stripped and sanded the floor, which, according to Ray, provided “some temporary relief.” Ray said, though, that the sanding created another problem: It is now difficult to clean up blood. Say what? Since when did PHS begin using the gym floor for human sacrifice?

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“all ignorance toboggans into know / and trudges up to ignorance again: / but winter’s not forever,even snow / melts;and if spring should spoil the game,what then?”e. e. cummings

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

64 Responses to “!!UPDATED!! — SCANNING THE HEADLINES: ARTSWALK ANNIVERSARY MUCH ADO ABOUT SELF PROMOTION … COUNCILORS WHIFF ON DONUT VOTE BUT GET ANOTHER CHANCE TO PLUG HOLE IN THE MIDDLE … BCC TO GET $23MM FACELIFT FOR ITS TWO MOST IMPORTANT BUILDINGS … HERE WE GO AGAIN: VISITOR’S CENTER RELOCATING … CHARTER COMMISSION CAVES IN TO MAYOR … NEW STEARNS PRINCIPAL NEEDS TO CHOOSE WORDS MORE CAREFULLY … plus … HUMAN SACRIFICE AT PHS SCHOOL GYM?”

  1. GMHeller
    May 7, 2013 at 8:12 am #

    Mr. Valenti,

    You write that, “The bus station, as you probably well know, finds itself submerged in its creepy, three-season ‘critters,’ a sub-class of folks (drifters, alcoholics, druggies, retarded, and others who have chosen to fall through the cracks) who will give visitors second and third thoughts about making Pittsfield a stop.”

    You start by writing about the bus station then somehow morph to editorializing over the make-up of the Pittsfeld City Council.

    Please stay focused and on message.
    Thank you.

    • danvalenti
      May 7, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

      GMH
      Please try and keep up with me. Apparently, I’m moving a bit too fast for your comprehension levels. I would prescribe your Rx to “stay focused.” You will then see what I’m doing.

      • FPR
        May 7, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

        lol. Dan, unfair use of your superior intellect. Funny though.

  2. Dave
    May 7, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    Dan, I disagree with your stance on the “donut shop”. The peak hours for DD and the post office are different, a point that was mentioned a few times and seemingly ignored in the councilor’s deliberations. If they build without a drive-thru, the traffic will be worse with every person having to park, walk in, get their purchase, get back in their car and leave. The cars waiting for a parking space will be backed up worse then cars waiting in a drive-thru line. When I brought this point up to a councilor, he/she said that people will go to a different DD if they have to wait too long. I responded with their own logic that if a drive-thru was approved and it created traffic backup at first, it would fix itself by people rerouting during peak DD hours. As they say, silence is golden (which is the answer I got). In one sentence an argument is made that a drive-thru does not jive with the master plan of increased walking in the downtown area, and two sentences later the same councilor is worried that if the DD is built at Fenn and First it will create a dangerous situation with increased people crossing at the intersection??? The city had someone look at the traffic report done Cafua and said it wouldn’t create an issue except for possibly 9 minutes during a day. Who now doesn’t drive down Fenn St to get out at the bottom at the East St intersection, or drive down East Housatonic St at 4:30-5:00 P.M. because we have waited forever. I’m confident the issue will fix itself rather quickly. This is 100% private money and I prefer that over someone buying the building and renovating it for a housing project that uses taxpayer funds.

    • danvalenti
      May 7, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

      DAVE
      You raise excellent points. I would only add, however, that the only traffic studies the council has on this issue come from Cafua, hardly what you would consider an impartial source. If you analyze this more closely, you will see the probability that traffic will be increased at the location, precisely because of the different peak hours of the PO and DD. Each will, in peak hours, make the negotiation of that key four corners (First and Fenn) more difficult for those hours. As for building a DD without a drive-through, I don’t think Cafua wants to do that. If the drive-through is defeated, which I am recommending to my Right Honorable Good Friends, Cafua will likely not build at that location and remain where it is. I agree with your point about 100% private money, and that is a point not easily dismissed. I would also point out that if the new DD goes at First and Fenn, it creates another empty building on First Street.

      • B. Clairmont
        May 8, 2013 at 10:10 am #

        Dan,

        Just to clarify two things…While you are correct that Cafua supplied the only traffic study, the City hired a firm to review the study. The firm we hired agreed with the findings from the Cafua traffic engineer. As for creating another empty building on First St., I doubt that will happen. DD rents that facility from the current owner (my understanding) of the Mr. Doughnut Franchise. Rumor has it that Mr. Doughnut is going to open in that location as soon as DD’s lease runs out. In my opinion, that is why DD wants to relocate.

        • danvalenti
          May 8, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

          BARRY
          Thanks for the information. I spoke with one of your colleagues on the council, who asked not to be named, and s/he said Cafua’s traffic study was indeed reviewed by the city, as you say, but that the review was perfunctory and not thorough. As was brought out during the council’s consideration of Cafua’s request, when the traffic study was done for the drive-through at the current DD location, that one, too, gave such rosy findings that the council approved. The city also “reviewed” that plan, and as we know now, in doing so created a traffic bottleneck nightmare. Also, from the information you provide on Mr. Doughnut, as I to understand if the Cafua request is approved, it would put two donuts shops on the same street, First Street, within two blocks of each other? If so, I fail to see how that is good for the city. True, it will put the property on the tax rolls, as it is now, and some money made be made, but as what lifestyle and aesthetic costs?

          • B. Clairmont
            May 9, 2013 at 6:55 am #

            Dan,

            My understanding is that the City’s consultant did a though review, not perfunctory. Maybe I’m wrong. As for the prior “traffic study” for the current location; it was brought up at council and there was no actual traffic study. They did some kind of review, I forget what they called it, but it wasn’t a traffic study.

            As for the two doughnut shops on the same street, I agree that would be the case. But let me ask you this… is it governments job to tell free market businesses that you can’t have two doughnut shops next to one another? Burger Kings and McDonalds locate next to each other all the time. There must be consumer demand, or they wouldn’t locate next to one another.

            If we start going down that route, we might as well implement Mayor Bloomberg’s soda ban in Pittsfield, tell people when they can eat in addition to what they can eat. I don’t see this as the governments job.

          • danvalenti
            May 9, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

            BARRY
            Fair points.
            Some random thoughts in exchange: The better location at First and Fenn would be the King Kone Korner, where Mairano’s Joke Shop used to be. Of course, that is likely not for sale. … Is there no way Cafua could put a DD with a DT in a retrofitted Plunkett School? … It is NOT government’s job to say private capital, in free and willing agreements, cannot put two or 10 donut shops next to each other. The question in this case is the DT. How crucial is it to DD’s business? Guess I’m asking, what portion of the store’s anticipated business would come from the window? … Government does, of course, greatly limit freedom, and in that very location. Traffic signs, for example, limit a driver’s ability to move as one wishes through the First-Fenn intersection.

          • B. Clairmont
            May 12, 2013 at 9:26 am #

            Dan,

            A few responses…The King Kone location is privately owned; don’t know if its for sale. I believe it is too small, as it’s about 1/4 the size of the Plunkett School location. Also, that location is part of the Downtown Arts Overlay District, which doesn’t allow fast food restaurants with drive thru’s.

            If you look at the Plunkett School building, you will see that the first floor is way too high to hand food thru a window to the customers, unless that are Mac Trucks. Again, the buildings renovation should not be considered here. They can tear it down tomorrow if they want to. The governments roll in that issue has come and gone.

            Here is my main concern if we don’t approve…what message do we send to potential future businesses if we deny the permit to a business that meets the site requirements and all the requirements for the drive thru? We tell them Pittsfield is anti-business. Imagine spending your money to develop a site where your project meets all permitting and site requirements, you spend $1,000′s of dollars on plans, lawyers, etc… to present to the council , just to shot down because of the council’s “feelings” about the project.

            Not a good message!

          • danvalenti
            May 12, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

            Thanks, BARRY. Points well made, although the contention that the plan “meets all the requirements for the drive thru” is problematic. That is the issue, isn’t it?

  3. Magic
    May 7, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    And where will the visitors park at the Visitors Center if it is at the bus terminal. Maybe they can block the fire station

    • Tom Sakshaug
      May 9, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

      Maybe that rather large parking garage across the street would fit the bill.

  4. Joe Blow
    May 7, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

    Why are you lumping the mentally retarded in with the drifters, alcoholics, druggies? They had no choice in being born that way and I doubt they chose to fall through the cracks. As far as D&D goes as long as they are not using my tax dollars ,I don’t care what they do.

    • danvalenti
      May 7, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

      Thanks, Joe. Good points.

    • Scott
      May 7, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

      Nice Joe I agree.

  5. Mike Ward
    May 7, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

    Restaurant drive-throughs are a bad idea in general. They increase the number of distracted drivers on the road. They also increase the amount of roadside trash. Bank drive-throughs are a completely different thing and do not have these negative side effects. Also, the applicant keeps citing public demand as a reason for the city council to support this permit. There is public demand for a lot of things. There is public demand for walking shirtless on North Street with a can of Old Milwaukee in your hand. There is public demand for being able to cross the street whenever and wherever you please. So before anyone throws down the business-friendly gauntlet at the next meeting let’s remember that there is a wide spectrum (pun intended) of businesses out there and they are not all equally desirable.

    • Scott
      May 7, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

      Mike, this is the most irrational I have ever known you to be. Plus what’s with all the envelopes I get from the bank? I asked if I could recycle them and got an ummmm duh…? business is business Pittsfield should be embracing anyone who chooses to do business here with private money.

      • Mike Ward
        May 7, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

        “Pittsfield should be embracing anyone who chooses to do business here with private money.”

        Even if Pittsfield as a city “should” have this anything-goes philosophy the actual residents of Pittsfield do no have it. They opposed the timeshare development, Munchies strip club, the waste transfer station, the methadone clinic…all private investments. And they seem to oppose this drive through application according to what councilors said during the last meeting. The council attempts to do the will of the people, and the people have experienced drive-throughs and apparently have been annoyed by them. That’s the way I’m reading it.

        • Scott
          May 8, 2013 at 3:53 am #

          The methadone clinic is a different story. Plus they were not adding to the tax roll. The waste transfer station had environmental ramifications and Munchies strip club, well that was a morality issue to a lot of people. It seems like anyone I talk to Pittsfield is NOT a friendly place to do business. We throw a wrench in peoples plans who want to invest here yet complain when our tax goes up. Let business especially those with private funds do business and share the tax burden that’s all I’m saying. The strip club is a perfect example of how others force their beliefs of the rest of society. If you don’t like strip clubs then don’t support them. I will not support a donut shop but I’d never impose on your right to consume the product or the right of the business man to provide the garbage to you at an unreasonable price.

          • Mike Ward
            May 8, 2013 at 6:39 am #

            You raise a good point Scott, and that is we don’t do nearly enough to help the “good” businesses – and I’ll let everyone define “good business” for themselves. GE paid for my upbringing but they also polluted the city. Are they a good business?

          • FPR
            May 8, 2013 at 11:14 am #

            “GE paid for my upbringing but they also polluted the city. Are they a good business?” — I find that statement extraordinary. Wow.

            Do you really think GE gave a rat’s behind about paying for your upbringing?

            or

            Was it simply they made an exceptionally large profits off the labor of your father?

            Moving their operations to China — do you think they care about “paying for the upbringing” of those Chinese children? or Simply making even larger profits off of Chinese slave labor?

            Corporations are people too — right?
            After all they can vote in presidential elections.

          • Mike Ward
            May 8, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

            By “good business” I was of course referring to the opportunity to earn a good salary and benefits. No small feat for young people in Pittsfield today. I get the impression you’ve already made your money.

          • danvalenti
            May 8, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

            MIKE
            This is yet another reason to disallow the DD via the DT. It will only shift the current low-wage, low-or-no-benefit jobs a little further north on First Street. As long as Pittsfield is satisfied with taking these kinds of easy “job” pickings, it will further reduce the impetus to get the kind of Jobs [cap J] you mention.

    • Dave
      May 7, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

      Mike, how do drive-thrus increase the number of distracted drivers on the road? I am assuming you are refering to people eating while driving, but people walk in and get their orders to go all the time-should we not let people leave with their food? Your first point is a totally ridiculous argument which when rereading you will probably agree.People who get their money from the drive-thru at the bank have a higher probability of counting their money while driving than people who do their banking inside-NO to any more bank driveups!! While I agree the business friendly “gauntlet” is the city side equivalent of “for the children”, it is funny how if it is a project that seems to be in the favor of the politicians the rules are different. Watch both meetings-when Cafua was before the council, and when Pittsfield Co-op came before it. Keep in mind what each was asking for and tell me if the tenor was the same.

      • Mike Ward
        May 7, 2013 at 6:59 pm #

        I don’t think it was surprising that Cafua and the Co-op were treated differently in their drive-through permit applications. And that’s because, historically, nobody complains about traffic impacts or litter associated with a bank.

        • Dave
          May 8, 2013 at 1:36 am #

          The bank has not applied for a drive-thru yet. A one way street was changed without anyone knowing why it was turned into one-way traffic in the first place. I believe one councilor asked if anyone knew, noone did, and the change was made regardless. This is on just as busy an intersection with the same street. Changing the flow of traffic on a street seems to me to be more of a reason for a traffic study than a drive-thru yet one was not deemed necessary. There is no way the drive-thru application for this will be denied regaqrdless of what the traffic sudy says when this drive-thru gets asked for. Doesn’t seem like the same rules is all I’m saying.

        • Scott
          May 8, 2013 at 9:28 am #

          GE was good it was their apathy for the environment and ability to buy their way out cheap from any responsibility to a legitimate clean up that is unfortunate.

      • Mike Ward
        May 7, 2013 at 7:01 pm #

        …and I’m grateful that councilors actually used their life experience and some common sense and not just the data on that traffic report purchased by the applicant.

        • Dave
          May 8, 2013 at 1:40 am #

          And reviewed by the city with the same conclusion. So what’s the point if we only listen to the results if they jive with what our elected “engineering experts” think? If it came back saying traffic would be a nightmare, they would have used that as reason for denying the permit without hesitation.

          • Mike Ward
            May 8, 2013 at 6:50 am #

            The point is that public opinion is always going to be part of the equation. The biggest hurdle of the Petricca rezoning was the public perception of the company from dealings in the past, not the details of their proposed (and worthy, in my opinion) expansion.

          • danvalenti
            May 8, 2013 at 7:38 am #

            MIKE, SCOTT, & DAVE
            Excellent discussion. Your backs and forths have added much to the discussion. THIS is what the comment section should be doing more often: eliciting differing but respecting (and respectable) points of view. Thanks, fellas.

  6. Joe Blow
    May 7, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

    I’m sure the roadside trash is from litter bugs not drive-thrus.

  7. FPR
    May 7, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

    The people who frequent drive thrus to get their daily caffeine fix are highly skilled professionals.

  8. outfox
    May 7, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

    As someone who passes through the bus station regularly while travelling from my home in Pittsfield to North County, I can assure you that there really aren’t druggies and alcoholics in there—for one thing it is much too well lit, too populated with decent riders, the drivers are aware of who appears “off” and there is just too much damn sunshine pouring into that place. Most substance abusers I’ve met much prefer the darker places. C’mon, Valenti, if you’re going to take on Pittsfield you gotta at least show up here in person once in a while. I’d be glad to give you a tour, including North St. after dark, which is not dangerous at all, simply because other than the stray tumbleweed, there’s NO ONE there!

    • Scott
      May 8, 2013 at 3:56 am #

      Outfox I agree most of the stuff the paper reports are a byproduct of peoples life choices. Well except for the drunken naked homeless guy crawling around on the bathroom floor at the bus station but I bet that woman encouraged him right?

    • danvalenti
      May 8, 2013 at 7:43 am #

      OUFOX
      Notice I didn’t say anything about the riders of the BRTA. I agree with you, that the riders are “decent” people. I referred to the folks who hang out in the front of the building. They aren’t what you would call the pillars of society, or, if they are, then the Collapse will be here much sooner than we anticipated. I suppose, too, that the naked man who recently crawled under an occupied stall in the women’s rest room was Ward Cleaver. As for “showing up here once in a while,” I do so with a frequency that borders on commonness. For years I have taught a composition course for BCC upstairs at the Intermodal, and so I need no tour.

      • Outfox
        May 9, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

        I agree that the little park on North St. in front of the bus station is ful of undesirables during the day. Also on my list of least attractive bus stops is the one by 510. It seems like every lowlife in town congregates there. Beat cops would help!

        • danvalenti
          May 9, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

          There is no doubt of this, OUTFOX, but it’s the out-in-the-open affront to a respectable downtown that everyone, including troublemaking writers such as THE PLANET, are supposed to ignore. When we point out the truth, we are accused of being intolerant. We plead guilty: We are intolerant of willful civic demise.

          • outfox
            May 12, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

            Of course, a respectable downtown would not have its main drag lined the entire length with social service agencies. What happened to the millions from the GE settlement anyway? This city should be living off the interest alone, but my street doesn’t even get plowed in winter, and we have corporate volunteers cleaning up North St. Pardon the French, but wtf??!

          • danvalenti
            May 12, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

            Correct on every point, OUTFOX.

  9. Teecha teecha
    May 8, 2013 at 4:51 am #

    Aaron dean is a MORON always was, always will be. From his time at c.t. Plunket under the tutelage of Kristen Gordon (moron) to his tenure as a roving music teacher. Once again teachers referred to him as “Lenny” behind his back. (See of mice and men)

    Good job pittsfield…good job.

    • Couldn't get worse
      May 14, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

      He’s a joke and Pittsfield’s hiring him is the biggest laugh of all.

  10. Mr. X
    May 8, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    From what I’ve heard, the DD complex will be valued at about $1.3 million paying $400,000 per year in taxes. I’ve heard over the years from many city councilors that were against demolishing homes of blight because we can’t keep taking away from the tax rolls, but yet are against adding this to it. As we have become an obese and lazy society, I believe that most of the DD DT will be people who are just plain in a hurry and on the go, as that is unfortunately the society we have become. Come on now, who out there has not done some kind of a DT lately? Meanwhile that building is slowly on its way to becoming another Pennell-Grossman’s situation.

    • Scott
      May 8, 2013 at 9:39 am #

      MR. X for that fact alone this business should be embraced by the community. We’d be stupid not to. Wait…

    • danvalenti
      May 8, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

      MR X
      Are these figures ($1.3mm / $400,000) official? What’s the source? In other words, are they accurate? Also, would you happen to know what the current assessment and tax amount is?

  11. bobbyd
    May 8, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    I am just far to Libertarian to agree with your take on the DT issue.

    You say that it will be decided ultimately by “We The People.” While it will clearly have in impact on the surrounding area, if it the proposed use does not violate the rights of others, I have great philosophical objections to limiting the freedom of a property owner to do with his or her property as he or she will.

    I agree entirely that laziness and being time-pressed are choices. However, they should remain choices. I am not prepared to make those choices for other people by limiting their freedoms to create or access DT windows.

    Your attempts to frame the argument in terms of public heath and safety, while most uncompelling, are at least more in keeping with libertarian principals than concerns about personal convenience, community aesthetics, or moral turpitude.

    • danvalenti
      May 8, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

      BOBBY
      When I use the phrase “We The People,” I intentionally capitalize the “T” in “The.” Reason: It’s a definite, not an indefinite article that warrants this special editorial flourish via the author’s intention (sort of the same reasoning poets often use for special usage, for example, e.e. cummings). Your [sic], well meaning though it is, cannot stand.

    • danvalenti
      May 8, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

      BOBBY
      I share your philosophical objections to limiting the freedom of property owners, but the purely philosophical concerns have long been voided by this country’s desire to mix two opposed notions: a capitalist economy + Big Government. The latter makes the former into a quasi socialist-capitalist mix, which, if in the right balance, can actually combine the best of both systems. I agree, again philosophically, with the rights of property owners to do as they wish, but, pragmatically, in a 21st century city, that concern bumps up against community values, as determined by a master plan. As long as we agree that living in communities is a good idea, we must be realistic and allow “the community,” through representative government, to set certain goals for itself. The DD DT concept clashes with the city’s goals for itself with respect to that particular area of town. As for me, I AM prepared to make the choice for people who are too lazy and time-pressed, if only because they do not make their decisions out of conscious choice but out of a kind of laxity induced by technological hypnosis (I refer here to the technology of DTs] and time pressures being put on them precisely because they have not consciously chosen. Thanks for your comments.

      • bobbyd
        May 8, 2013 at 7:47 pm #

        As for me, I AM prepared to make the choice for people who are too lazy and time-pressed, if only because they do not make their decisions out of conscious choice but out of a kind of laxity induced by technological hypnosis…

        We couldn’t be any further apart on the issue of property rights or on your rather Platonic view of πόλις.

        IMO, society has no just claims on the individual. A just society ensures that the rights for all individuals are protected, and rights are limited only insofar as the exercise thereof would violate the rights of another. Exactly how that is made manifest in practice would would be legitimately up for debate, but the premise itself would not be.

        The fact that our society seeks to void purely philosophical concerns does not mean that we capitulate, let alone adopt such an immoral view and practice!

        Making choices for other individuals because one knows better? No thanks Dan “Bloomberg” Valenti! The refusal of an individual to exercise moral agency gives NONE of us the right to exercise it on their behalf. Everyone must be free to make or NOT make choices as they see (or not see) fit.

        In all seriousness it is difficult for me to get a sense of your philosophical core. It’s not inscrutable; it’s schizophrenic. You seem to be of two minds often—δίψυχος. Where exactly is your soul?

        (Please forgive me if the Greek characters do not display correctly.)

        • danvalenti
          May 8, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

          BOBBY
          If you read my comment to your more carefully, you will see that not only did I not challenge your premise of individual rights but actually agreed with it. To call my views “Platonic” is like calling Don Rickles “Mr. Polite.” Your disregard for actuality in favor of your blackboard theories that could never, have never, and will never translate into real life reveals the Platonic one. Meaningful philosophy must take into account the pragmatic effects that inevitably reduce the willow-wisps of theory in the hard core of experience. There’s a balance. Perhaps that accounts for your puzzlement, expressed in your “schizophrenic” remark. I would only remind you, my good friend, that it is the sign of closed mindedness not to be able to entertain conflicting, opposing, and even contradictory ideas at the same time. Poetically, Walt Whitman spoke of this when he responded to the same criticism, paraphrasing, “Do I contradict myself? Of course I do. I contain multitudes.” My philosophic core remains only for me to know. It’s not that I’m trying to hide it, but rather than no one else could ever “Know” it. To Know it, you would have to be me. I shall not agree or disagree with anyone else’s interpretation of my “philosophy,” for they, such as you are doing here, based their interpretations on incomplete information. In the same way, I would never try to force your peg into a slot, since both or either might be round or square. I can only do so after you have labeled yourself, which you have done so here (as a rigid, libertarian abstractionist). As for my soul, bobby, it’s exactly where it should be, in transcendence, where all and everything are ultimately reconciled into the Highest State and Absolute State of Goodness. That’s clear, isn’t it?

          • bobbyd
            May 9, 2013 at 5:00 am #

            My philosophic core remains only for me to know. It’s not that I’m trying to hide it, but rather than no one else could ever “Know” it.

            You clearly espoused a Platonic political philosophy … yesterday.

            I’m sure you believe what you said in what is quoted, but as much as you would like to believe differently, you are not inscrutable.

            Your writing demonstrates that you are intelligent and clever, but philosophically you are virtually incoherent. Your proposal that ideas melt away in the presence of “hard core experience” dismisses the possibility, the necessity, of principled action. Without adherence to some principal, your choices and actions are governed by nothing beyond mere whimsy.

            I would like to leave you with one more thought. There is a vast difference between the skeptic and the cynic. The cynic has no more intellectual integrity than the sycophant.

          • danvalenti
            May 9, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

            BOBBY
            We must have different understanding of Plato, then. I fathom Plato. You “get” Play Dough, from what you have told me here — a soft, pliable understanding molded to fit your particular and rigid philosophical blinders.

            As for philosophy in general, the “virtual incoherence” that you perceive is your interpretation. I would not quarrel with it. I would not agree with it, but I would accept it as your understanding, based on the evidence that you have perceived and about which you have thought.

            In response, I would only say that coherence derived from principled action must be a manifestation of Aristotelean reality — things as they are and not as we would like them to be or philosophically imagine them to be in some vague, ethereal prime essence.

            Of course, I have core principles. They could even be stated as such, in so many words.

            Your last thought is MOST interesting to me. My understanding of cynicism comes from the ancient Greeks. The Cynics were people who believed the highest good lies in virtue. They understood virtue to be an umbrella term that would incorporate most of the strong, positive human attributes that we would want to encourage to help in living a healthy, fulfilling life (self-reliance, love, etc.). For the Cynics, self-control and self-understanding would provide an individual with the means to this virtuous life. In this sense, a cynic believes in the sacredness of the individual. Moreover, a cynic views attempts from the outside to control or influence an individual —in a way that would expect the individual to sacrifice his integrity (i.e., his virtue) — to be onerous. Our understandings of this word “cynic,” then, are different.

    • Joe Blow
      May 8, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

      Well said!

  12. Scott
    May 8, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    You talk about low paying paying jobs but the owners of those business’s make good money they spend here locally too don’t forget. Anyone finding themselves in the position to work for minimum wage has the same opportunity at learning, furthering their education and securing capital as the owner themselves I’m sure did. If they really want to and are determined. Yes I have worked for dirt pay, not for long. The light-bulb lit up real quick for me. But I always took whatever I could from each experience.

  13. tito
    May 8, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

    Anyone watching the School Committee Meeting? Mrs. Benke is working her magic again, gotta love the Banky!

    • danvalenti
      May 8, 2013 at 6:54 pm #

      She’s a beaut, perfect for playing the PSD shell game.

  14. Chazz Storie
    May 8, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

    What I don’t understand is why does one traffic problem (the Post Office) get accepted, yet another traffic problem (DD) does not?

    There’s a parking lot across from the PO that isn’t being used as it should be because people are unwilling to park in it. These people are the ones causing the problem by blocking the road. What the PO needs to do is make people park in the lot that are picking up their mail and have the parking spots in front of the building for those customers with packages that are being mailed out and for handicapped individuals.

    The issue with the DD is that people think the place is going to be busy 24/7. The current location has a two hour peak period and has a total of six spaces from the order board to the road. The new location will have double the amount of spaces. Seems like they’re attempting a solution to their current problem with traffic backing up into the road. Perhaps the PO can take a suggestion and do the same.

    As for the Master Plan – it’s merely an excuse. I know the city want to have more people walk but let’s face it – that isn’t going to happen. Plus First Street is also US Route 7.

    As for this DD not fitting in with the character of the neighborhood – look at the neighborhood. You have an empty lot, an old school that had it’s chance, a dilapidated building across the street that sells ice cream and a giant parking lot behind it. I think a new building will make that area better. Plus, the renovation of the Howard Building is a nice touch.

    I do think DD should drop the additional retail idea. Then all parking could be devoted to the donut shop. I also disagree with the threat of legal action from Cafua. If the City Council decides to vote it down – then that should be the end of it.

    • danvalenti
      May 8, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

      Thanks, CHAZZ, for these thoughts.

  15. Rick
    May 8, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

    No one has mentioned the Church next door.They can’t be thrilled with this situation.

    • danvalenti
      May 9, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

      Good point, Rick.

  16. Giacometti
    May 8, 2013 at 10:48 pm #

    Examine Dunkin Donuts from an aesthetic perspective for a moment…the colors displayed in its stores and on its products are a God awful combination of pink and orange…colors that vibrate your retina and make you feel very uncomfortable…a bigger store will have a larger splash of these sickening colors in our community…you gotta admit they are not earthy peaceful colors that relax you when you see them. I for one do not want to see more of these colors in our downtown…they make me sick.

    • Scott
      May 9, 2013 at 3:45 am #

      I won’t be using the business either but who are we to impose on the rights of a private funded business venture on privately owned property? Especially when they are sharing the tax burden and have a right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness? What do you want them to do to make money go on transitional assistance? Why is it we complain about welfare while at the same time making it impossible for people to make a living for themselves? It seems a little hypocritical. The kitchen on the commons that is just opened is more my style I’m gonna go check them out soon!

    • danvalenti
      May 9, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

      GIACO
      I have felt this way about the DD colors since I first laid eyes on them.