FY14 BUDGET INCLUDES RARE — ALBEIT TOKEN — WIN FOR TAXPAYERS VS. THE GOB … CLAIRMONT LEADS WAY TO COUNCIL’s VOTE TO LOP $200K FROM SCHOOL DEPARTMENT BUDGET … EVEN WITH ‘CUT” SCHOOLS WILL STILL GET $1.66 MILLION RAISE
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, JULY 2, 2013) — THE PLANET has the smartest readers. Yesterday, the ever-observant Prof. Trzcinka commented that we have more fun with theater reviews than reviewing the dire theatricality of municipal budgets. That’s why the economics department at Indiana University pays Prof. T the big bucks. He’s a man on the side of truth and justice, and THE PLANET is proud to call him friend.
Alas, though, it’s time to skip trodding the boards in favor of boring the tribe by wading into the city of Pittsfield’s FY14 budget. Pittsfield taxpayers, once again because ordinary citizens did not get involved in the process, are in the second day of another fiscal year of being bled by leeches that infest the slimy pond of hegemonic politics. How ironic, then, that while taxpayers continue to be fleeced by municipal government and raise not an ire of protest, blackouts of Boston’s channel 5 on local cable elevate in seriousness to Matters of State.
So great is the concern over the stinkin’ telly that our Right Honorable Good Friend 4th Berkshire District state rep William “Smitty Pignatelli has “kicked it upstairs,” contacting Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Se.-elect Ed Markey to lean on the FCC. If citizens gave the city budget got one tenth of the attention cable TV gets, local government and its officials would know their rightful place — as our servants. Instead, Big Brother Democrats lord over all, dooming Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski to another year of choosing between heating the house this winter, putting food on the table, or getting prescriptions filled. This also furnishes another argument against one-party rule.
Speaking of the budget, The Boring Broadsheet, that great bastion of democracy’s health formerly known as The Berkshire Eagle, embarrassed itself yet again with a fawning, kiss-up editorial to the Special Interests. The BB wrote two colossal fibs: “The city is well under the Proposition 2 1/2 limit, [sic] and is not overly taxed” [editorial note: commas is not needed after "limit," Mr. BB Editorial Writer, since the sentence is not compound (two independent clauses). It is a complex sentence. Complex sentences (one main clause and at least one dependent clause) do not require a commas between main and subordinate clauses. Perhaps the editorial staff will wish to sign up for Prof. Valenti's composition or journalism courses at BCC this fall to learn the basics]. Naturally, the editorial is unsigned.
Muni Budget Showing Rates “F” for Failure
The report card for municipal bodies reads as follows:
* Mayor’s Office — F
* School Superintendent — F
* School Committee — F
* City Council — D
* Citizens — F
MAYOR: Dan Bianchi has submitted two budgets. His first tacked on millions more to Mayor Jimmy Ruberto‘s most expensive spending plan. Bianchi’s second budget, the one just completed, adds millions more to that. Moreover, Bianchi, after putting up token resistance to the school department’s initial budget, signed off in the end to creating more positions, adding to an already bloated school bureaucracy, and giving the department everything it wanted. For someone who claims to (a) know budgets and (b) serve the interests of We The People, Bianchi has not shown effective leadership. GRADE: F
SUPERINTENDENT: That self-described “eternal optimist” Gordon Noseworthy made sure his successor would come riding in on the silk cushions. If The Nose is an “optimist” of any kind, let alone the “eternal” kind, then THE PLANET cherishes our cynic’s halo. The Nose, Bianchi, and the school superintendent teamed up nicely to present Good Cop-Bad Cop. Here’s how it works: The school superintendent meets secretly with the school committee chairman. The former dictates the amount to the latter, whose job it is to fetch the spittoon and deliver it to the thirsty mouths on the school committee. While the committee rolls over and plays dead, the mayor then pipes up to protest the spending, knowing he will look the hero without their being any chance of fiscal accountability. He does this so he can say, come election time, that he fought for budget relief. GRADE: F.
SCHOOL COMMITTEE: Chairman Alf Barbalunga, F, for choosing politics over leadership … Terry Kinnas, A, for being the only member of that panel to consistently back intelligent budget reform … Dan Elias, Jim Conant, Kathy Amuso, Kathy Yon, Bianchi: F, for again selling out to their powerful masters.
CITY COUNCIL: Our Right Honorable Good Friends had a split showing. Head of the class is councilor-at-large Barry Clairmont, whose dogged detective work uncovered up to $3 million in surplus funds the school department has doing the bends many leagues deep within in the department’s books. GRADE: A … For supporting a cut of $200,000 of the $3 million, THE PLANET awards the grade of A- to Christine Yon, Melissa Mazzeo, Tony Simonelli, Kevin Morandi, and Chris Connell. Earning a generous F for a cowardly support of bloated spending, we find Paul Capitanio, John Krol, Jonathan Lothrop, Kevin Sherman, and Churchill Cotton. Krol, who once again went along to get along, disappointed the most. We know he has good sense. We were hoping, futilely as it turned out, that he might have the strength of political will to back it up with a courageous vote. THE PLANET has long wanted to take Krol under our wing and help him realize his political potential. Instead, the man keeps throwing it away, not out of principle but out of electoral dread.
The Politics of the Vote
Credit Clairmont for the political courage to propose a $200,000 “cut” [EDITOR'S NOTE: To keep this "cut" in perspective, consider that Clairmont found what was in effect $3 million in slush money in the school department's books. $200,000 is one fifteenth of that or about 6.5%]. Clairmont has proven to be a man unafraid to buck the Type Casting that the local Democratic Machine, Wojtkowski and Del Gallo branches, demand from Loyalists. He’s the one who tracked down the millions in loose change hanging out in the school department’s budget, and he’s front-runner in Councilor of the Year Award. Moreover, he proposed specific, reasonable “cuts.” We must put the word “cut” in quotes, because the school department will be getting $1.66 million in ADDITIONAL dollars. This is the La-La Land of the Public Sector. When anyone reduces the rate of the increase of funding, they call it a “cut.” Works every time.
Simonelli had the best Profiles in Courage moment. Simonelli cast the vote of his young political career and pleasantly surprised us on behalf of taxpayers. When Alf Barbalunga warned of cutting teaching positions if the council went through with its token “cut,” Simonelli responded, “I said [at an earlier meeting] that I didn’t want to hear that, that teachers would be cut.” Finally, someone on the council, a former school department administrator no less, called out the shell game that school officials have used for years.
First sign of a “cut,” and they scream that teachers will be fired. Not knowing to leave worse enough alone, Noseworthy kept digging the hole deeper. He predicted the dire scenario of the school running out of fuel in the winter. THE PLANET reminds The Nose that even if the fuel runs out and The Children freeze to death, he won’t have to worry. He will have been — thankfully — long gone, doing the backstroke in a Palm Beach pool.
Not that it will ever come to that, but if it must be, let the little darlings freeze. At least taxpayers won a symbolic battle. With Clairmont leading the charge and Kinnas riding shotgun, the schools were prevented by wasting another $200K it absolutely, positively does not need.
“No, but I’ve wanted to murder him a lot.” — Actress Lynn Fontanne, when asked if she ever wanted to divorce long-time husband Alfred Lunt
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.