IDLE RUMORS AND SCUTTLEBUTT FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, SUCH AS IT IS … IN ‘LET’S HAVE SOME FuN’ DEPT., PLANET, BAT IN HAND, READY TO TAKE UP THE CHALLENGE FROM DARREN LEE … plus … JAKE IV WANTS QUOTAS FOR TEACHER HIRING, ALSO PROPOSES CASH PAYMENTS FOR STUDENTS WHO SCORE 60% IN AP
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, JULY 31, 2013) — The campaign trail, such as it is thus far, bears little resemblance to a byway that leads anywhere interesting. A look at the field, coming in a moment, will bear this out. Meantime, THE PLANET has heard the following:
* We hear from sources that Alf Barbalunga, who is not seeking re-election to the school committee, is heir apparent to take over at the Juvenile Resource Center after Jack Quinn retires. THE PLANET contacted Barbalunga about this, and he has not responded. We will note that it’s not like Barbalunga not to answer inquiries, which leads us to believe there is truth here. When you go to the Pittsfield Public Schools website and click on “Specialized Programs,” you’ll find that the Pittsfield Adult Learning Center, the Helen Berube Teen Parent Program, and the Positive Options Program all have program descriptions and hot links for more information. The only information you get on the JRC is the address. There’s no program description and no link for more information. It’s as if they want to keep as much of the JRC operation below the radar. Now why do you suppose that would be the case? THE PLANET will have more on this as the situation develops.
* We hear that former Pittsfield police chief Tony Riello is seeking a post on the Pittsfield school committee. Last we knew, we thought Riello lived in Maine, but he has at least taken out papers, according to city clerk Linda Tyer. Sources say Riello will be looking to become the next chairman.
* We hear that Donna Todd Rivers, of “I’m Closing-I’m Not Closing “fame,” is reconsidering her at-large candidacy in light of some supporters jumping ship. There has been no official word from the campaign. An apparently wavering Rivers has yet to turn in her signatures. At this point, while not having acted on signatures proves nothing, it is, as we approach August, at least a sign of possible tentativeness and second-guessing. In the at-large field, official candidates — those who took out papers and handed in the required number of signatures — include Mark Miller, Barry Clairmont, Melissa Mazzeo, Jim Conant, and Kathy Amuso. If nothing else, getting officially on the ballot before August does send the message, “Hey, look, I’m serious about this.”
* We hear that school committee member Terry Kinnas will soon be making an announcement about his future political plans. THE PLANET, after a brief interview with Kinnas, can only say Kinnas is “weighing all options.”
At this stage of a silent campaign, many “trial balloons” are being launched by candidates and supporters jockeying for position. THE PLANET has not confirmed any of the above, but the information comes from good sources. We present the information as a public service.
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With papers and signatures due on Aug. 6 at Linda Tyer’s office at City Hall, here’s how the field shapes up, as listed on The Pittsfield Gazette website as of Monday, July 29:
WARD 1 COUNCIL
WARD 2 COUNCIL
WARD 3 COUNCIL
WARD 4 COUNCIL
WARD 5 COUNCIL
WARD 6 COUNCIL
WARD 7 COUNCIL
ON A LIGHTER NOTE, THE PLANET GETS THE BAT READY … JUST IN CASE
Now that assistant city solicitor and local girls’ softball booster Darren Lee has issued the challenge and we have accepted, we have heard nothing to indicate acceptance. Lee did come on this site yesterday to say he made the challenge “tongue-in-cheek.” No one loves TIC more than THE PLANET, but we would ask Lee to reconsider tongue placement.
Our Right Honorable Good Friend said he wasn’t sure if our acceptance showed great confidence in our hitting or great puffery. Well, here’s a perfect chance to find out. CAll our bluff. Shut us up!
The Lee challenge came after we posted on Mayor Dan Bianchi‘s throwing arm. Bianchi threw out the first pitch at the Futures collegiate All-Star Game and later at a girls’ softball tournament. Our scouting report on the mayor: We said he “threw like a girl.” The remark refers to a certain manner of awkward overhead toss of a ball, where there is little shoulder extension. The throw, such as it is, comes all from the elbow down. The expression “throws like a girl” comes from seeing people attempt to throw a ball, overhand, in this awkward manner — a form most notably engaged in by girls and women, hence, the expression.
Here is what Lee initially posted:
The new Jake, Pittsfield’s new school superintendent, vows to address a faculty that’s nearly all white. Heaven help us.
First, is the new Jake “Jake IV,” since he succeeded Jake Eberwein III. Yes, it is so decreed: He shall be Jake IV.
Jake IV, aka Jake McCandless, declared as much at his first school committee meeting. Jake IV reported that he had a “productive” meeting with the education subcommittee of the local branch of the NAACP.
“I’m very committed to the fact that we need a professional staff that better mirrors our student body and the rich diversity we have,” Jake IV said. He didn’t use the word, but don’t you get the sneaking feeling that quotas are just around the corner. This kind of social engineering, of course, invariably results in a dip in the quality of teaching. You can’t force quality by establishing quotas. It doesn’t work that way. What addled-minded but well-meaning bureaucrats do, however, is what they think is the next best thing: They hire by color, race, and gender. Those quotas are easy to come by. Forget that the likely outcome will be a continued decline in student achievement.
Jake IV also wants to include more Advanced Placement courses. THE PLANET supports that measure, but not the way Jake IV wants to do it — with bribes. It’s not enough that students will feel the satisfaction of achievement. These days, students and teachers, apparently, must be bribed. Jake IV proposes “paying” students cash rewards. On a AP grading scale of of 0 to 5, Jake IV wants to give every AP student who achieves a 3 or beter (3 = 60%) $50. Teachers of students who score 60% or better will receive $1,000 to $3,000.
The money, Jake IV says, will come from private sources, mostly businesses. He claims that this will not cost taxpayers. THE PLANET guesses he doesn’t realize that those same businesses will find a way to either boost their fees and prices to the general public or write the expenses off on their bottom line.
Remember, when it’s confusing to your mind, just consider this: It’s for “The Children.”
“The moving sun-shapes on the spray, / The sparkles where the brook was flowing, / Pink faces, plightings, moonlit May, / These were the things we wished would stay; / But they were going.” — Thomas Hardy, first verse, “Going and Staying.” (1922)
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.