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LESS FOR MORE, MORE OF LESS, AS PITTSFIELD TAXES UP, SERVICES DOWN …EIGHT LUCKY SENIORS SET TO CHOP COTTON FOR MINIMUM WAGES … FREE SLAVE LABOR WILL HELP GEEZERS STAY IN THEIR HOMES, MAYBE … plus … IT’s NOT ONLY WHAT YOU KNOW; A CAPITANIO NAMED YOUNGEST CHIEF FAMILY PROBATION OFFICER IN STATE

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, JULY 8, 2013) — With a budget of $137 million, one that has grown at a startling proportionate rate well past the nosedive of the local and particularly the city of Pittsfield’s economy, Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski would figure that at least they were getting more for their money. As we know, “it ain’t necessarily so.”

In fact, it’s not true at all. They aren’t even getting level service. As tax-paying, law-abiding citizens, their services have been cut. Unlike the Pittsfield School Department, the Kapanskis suffer actual reductions when government trims their services (as we  all know, when the PSD laments “cuts,” it means a slowing of its rate of growth).

One small example: the city’s parks. We’ve grown all too used to seeing unkept, locked, trashed, and weedy parks. Long are the stories of citizens chipping in with their own time, talent, and treasure to try to stem the tide of neglect. During the recent heat wave, did you venture to the public beach at either Onota or Pontoosuc lakes? Did the sight sicken you? THE PLANET refers to the strewn litter, soiled diapers, the usual fast food wrappers, and even drug paraphernalia. Did you see any sign of docks and buoys that once festooned the public beaches? Any lifeguards? Any clean rest rooms? Did you see any indication the lakes were assets in which the city wanted to invest? We thought not.

The parks system, once the foundation of recreation in the city, has been allowed to wither by neglect into neglect. Just as it did with Wahconah Park, the city delivered a classic self-fulfilling prophecy with its park system. It abandoned the parks and then lamented that the parks were abandoned.

Once the backbone of the parks in summer, the playgrounds mostly stand idle. Years ago, the city fully staffed more than 15 parks. This year, it can only manage three. These will be Pitt, Clapp, and Deming. Better than nothing, for sure, but truly — Is that the best Pittsfield can do?

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WANTED BY THE CITY: EIGHT SENIOR CITIZENS WILLING TO TOIL FOR NEXT TO NOTHING

Are you 85 and have trouble moving around? Are you a senior citizen who can’t afford to pay your astronomical tax bill after you’ve blown your fixed income on such frivolities as food, medicine, and fuel? Are you gumming cat food because “people food” has become too expensive. Mayor Dan Bianchi has just the thing for you: He wants you to become an indentured servant of the city.

Yes, that’s right folks, if you act now, you can be one of the lucky ones to work for free, chopping cotton under the summer sun for Mayor Bianchi. You must be over 60 years old and bled dry by city taxes, to make minimum wage. For all that, you can earn a tax credit good for up to $1,000. At Matt Foley might say, “Well whoop-de friggin’ do. You keep that up, and you’ll find yourself living in a van by the river.”

Properties must be residential and owned by the share cropper in question. Up to two residents per property can apply, but even if both of you work, you will still not collect more than $1,000. That’s a nice way for the city to get the work of two old fossils for the price of one. The mayor’s office tells us that active city employees are not eligible for the program. City workers, especially secretaries of superintendent’s, aren’t expected to work for or provide money for services, such as having a house built.

Hurry, because the city will only allow eight seniors to engage in slave labor.

“The initial pilot program will allow the city departments to design and operate a program over the next three months,” Bianchi said. He wants to city to capitalize on “the vast array of knowledge and skills of its senior citizens.” These include dumpster diving, collecting pop bottles and soda cans for the nickel rebate, digging coal out of railroad slag, and other such useful skills.

Workers will choose from various service opportunities. The most popular one is expected to be pushing 200-pound boulders up the sliding hill at Clapp Park. Deep-sea diving in Silver Lake will also be offered. Asked why the city needs such tasks performed, the mayor responded in classic form: “Why? Because they’re there.”

Apparently, the mayor thinks this is all he can do to stem the exit strategy of seniors, many of whom have had to sell their homes because of the city’s punishingly steep property taxes. Apparently, neither he, the city council, nor the school committee ever thought about another approach, such as reducing the size and cost of government to allow straight tax reductions. It can be done, which is why every official body that had a say on the crushing tax burden killing seniors chose NOT TO LOWER TAXES.

And for that, most of the bums will “win” re-election.

As THE PLANET said up above, is that the best Pittsfield can do?

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FROM THE “IT’S NOT ONLY WHAT YOU KNOW” DEPARTMENT 

 Amy Capitanio Koenig is Berkshire County Probate and Family Court‘s new chief probation officer. Koenig is a young-un, hitting the chronometer at 33 years. Seems kind of green for such an important position, don’t you think? Chief Probation Officer of County Superior Court Cliff Nilan (is he still around?) says Koenig is the youngest in the state.

Digging deeply into the records, THE PLANET learns that Koenig is Ward 3 city councilor Paul Capitanio‘s niece. Hmmmmm, a mere coincidence, we’re sure. We also find out that Koenig worked closely with Sheriff Tom Bowler on an inmate program. These and other signs indicate deep ties to the local political establishment. We wonder: Is Koenig a BEEPER?

“Amy is a smart woman who will do good for the people that have to go to that court,” Nilan said. There are a lot of guys who know a thing or seven about smart women, and we would think Cliff Nilan to be of their number. Nilan made no reference to Koenig’s selection only after the usual “nationwide search.”

THE PLANET wishes Koenig well.

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“It’s so hot I want to take off my skin.” — Daedalus

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

21 Responses to “LESS FOR MORE, MORE OF LESS, AS PITTSFIELD TAXES UP, SERVICES DOWN …EIGHT LUCKY SENIORS SET TO CHOP COTTON FOR MINIMUM WAGES … FREE SLAVE LABOR WILL HELP GEEZERS STAY IN THEIR HOMES, MAYBE … plus … IT’s NOT ONLY WHAT YOU KNOW; A CAPITANIO NAMED YOUNGEST CHIEF FAMILY PROBATION OFFICER IN STATE”

  1. dusty
    July 8, 2013 at 12:54 am #

    Maybe it just seems that way to me but the ward three councilor does not appear to add much to the discussion at the Tuesday meetings. And always seems to vote with Krol and Lothrop on important GOB issues.

    Probably a great guy though

    • danvalenti
      July 8, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

      DUSTY
      He is a great guy, just not a great politician. He owns a popular restaurant and is wired deeply into the local Dem machine. That’s practically unbeatable.

  2. tito
    July 8, 2013 at 7:06 am #

    That’s it, Capitanio is the only employee in the state employed by unwarranted by politcal nepotism allegation? The whole system, political, government,even sports could be guilty.

  3. T-bone
    July 8, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

    Planet word around town is that you ghost wrote Clairmont’s piece in the Eagle today? True or jsut scuttlebut? For money? If not then for what>? Shouldn’t you or the councilor answer?

    • danvalenti
      July 8, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

      TBONE
      Scuttlebutt, you say. FRom whom? From where? Of course, there’s no truth in the assertion. When we read the piece today, it was the first time we had seen the piece. Actually, it’s well-written, but it’s not close to my style. The information conveyed in the piece should be required reading for every member of the electorate.

      • B
        July 8, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

        I agree with you Dan.

  4. B. Clairmont
    July 8, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

    T-bone,

    Not true. Funny, I haven’t heard that. So far, nothing but positive feedback.

    Barry

    • Joe Blow
      July 8, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

      Have you ever entertained the idea of running for Mayor? You would have my vote.

      • B. Clairmont
        July 8, 2013 at 7:03 pm #

        Joe,

        Thanks for your support. At the moment, it’s not my time. Maybe some day, but not today.

        Barry

      • B. Clairmont
        July 8, 2013 at 7:03 pm #

        Joe,

        Thanks for your support. At the moment, it’s not my time. Maybe some day, but not today.

        Barry

    • danvalenti
      July 8, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

      Methinks “TBone” is actually a political player employed at Mercer Street making up stories “out of school,” so to speak. THE PLANET shall have an analysis of the findings you present in your column. It’s scheduled to be published Wednesday.

      • dusty
        July 9, 2013 at 12:54 am #

        Exactly. It takes a whole bag of courage to write something like that considering the size of the machine that is so upset about it. But it is true. The taxpayers are being taken for a ride and almost none of the elected representatives seem to want to get involved. Kinda scary, kinda sad.

        And it may partially explain why so few voters bother to go to the polls in Pittsfield. Because no matter who you vote in they seem to become intimidated and can no longer remember the oath they signed up for.

        • danvalenti
          July 9, 2013 at 7:35 am #

          DUSTY
          Yes, and that’s what the GOB counts on: political apathy that keeps people from voting. This allows them to control elections by getting their core to vote. Vote rigging, by any other name. The last thing these bums want is full citizen participation in government.

  5. Jonathan Melle
    July 8, 2013 at 6:53 pm #

    Pittsfield runs on tax dollars. The single largest employer in Pittsfield is the city government. Non-profits employ thousands more locals. There are more teen pregnancies and welfare caseloads in Pittsfield than private sector jobs. Old people can work for minimum wage, which is a joke, to pay off part of their property taxes. What a nice community!

  6. Ron Kitterman
    July 9, 2013 at 2:14 am #

    Did anyone notice in the Pittsfield Gazette County “ Legislators set food stamp challenge “ article “ ? July 4,2013
    SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a federal program formerly known as Food Stamps. They will live off the $31.50 for the next week of spending what the average recipient gets from our less than generous government. Before you see them diving into dumpsters for their next meal, I’m willing to bet they dip into their per diem expense accounts. We all have a breaking point. Representatives Gailanne Cariddi (D-North Adams), $8,460; William “Smitty” Pignatelli (D-Lenox), $8,100; Paul Mark (D-Hancock), Tricia Farley-Bouvier (D-Pittsfield), $6,660; http://www.lowellsun.com/kendallwallace/ci_22662948/some-local-reps-accept-per-diem-stipend

    • Joe Blow
      July 9, 2013 at 4:38 am #

      They are to stupid to understand what supplemental means. The program was never meant to be the sole source of any family’s food budget. It’s nothing more than political theater….ugh!

      • danvalenti
        July 9, 2013 at 7:33 am #

        JOE BLOW & STILL WONDERING
        Well expressed and well thought out, in terms of “supplemental.” These phonies are doing it for the publicity. They feel our pain.

    • Still wondering
      July 9, 2013 at 6:24 am #

      No one subsists just on SNAP alone. There are dozens of free food pantries around the county. I run one of them. The majority of our clients go to more than one pantry every week. The food available at these food pantries is of such good quality that the people who use SNAP, use the money for incidentals.
      Also, there are absolutely free meals served almost every day in Pittsfield alone. So, believe me, it’s not really newsworthy that some politicians will try to live on $31.50 a week.

  7. joetaxpayer
    July 9, 2013 at 9:17 am #

    To bad the Berkshire delegation voted down every attempt to stop welfare fraud.If they care so much about the plight of the poor, why let people screw the system.

  8. Jake
    July 10, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

    I love the photo of one senators meal, complete with his coffee table and stainless steel refrig in background. All set upon his granite counter tops, high aloft the peasants in his condo upstreet somewhere. LMAO

    We all see right through the political bs, but can we stop it?

    - Laughing at everyone

    • danvalenti
      July 10, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

      Phony meals for phony bastards.