PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, JULY 24, 2013) — The city of Pittsfield wants to expand its arts district. This would amount to a change into acceptable uses. New businesses that would be considered “arts” would include breweries, pubs, winemakers, and — are you sitting down? — cheese makers.

Blessed are the Cheesemakers

Does THE PLANET detect a pattern here? Three of the four new uses involve ethyl alcohol, the self-medicating poison found at watering holes that helps so many hang on for one more day. Lord knows they need all the help they can get. Talking to Brad Gordon today in beautiful, downtown Pittsfield, the housing guru told us that 54% of all Pittsfield households fall below the poverty level. Gordon said he came across this nugget while harvesting data for a state grant. About 77% of those households are headed by a female, with no husband present.

“Give us your poor, your crack users, your baby makers …”

There, in a nutshell, lies the problem: The brilliant architects of present-day Pittsfield — including this present mayor, city council, and school committee —  have created a place that draws low-lifers here for the free ride and gives those unfortunate to be born here a greater than 50-50 chance of being poor. As for the vanishing middle class? Their either dying off, moving out, or left to foot the bill for everyone else.

Mayor Dan Bianchi‘s response to all this? — Expand the arts overlay. Bring in more barrooms, let the rabble get liquored up, and maybe they will forget about their problems. Who says Bianchi hasn’t done a thing?

Brilliant. Forward-looking initiatives such as this undoubtedly explain why the mayor faces no opposition in the fall. The closest thing we’ll get to a race is when State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier raaced to the refrigerator after completing her week of dining on a food-stamp budget. Not that TFB took the SNAP challenge fairly. She and her three dependents had to get by on $127 of taxpayer money per week. To help her, Big Y supermarket gave TFB the exclusive use of a registered dietician. We wonder how many truly poor bastards having to honestly get by on food stamps get their own personal registered dietician in making their fast-food choices?

A New Approach to the Pittsfield Whiz

That Bianchi wants to include cheese making as part of the arts overlay reveals his secret plan to revitalize the city: Free cheese. Our spies recently used a Minox to photograph the ultra-uber-secret document titled: “Cheese It! A New Approach to the Pittsfield Whiz.” Relying on city planner C.J. Hoss and the new OCD director, whose name mercifully escapes us, the report says, in part:

Cheese is a type of city assistance to help low-income households eat. Cheese can be used in place of almost any food item and can be found in any store where you usually shop for food. By bringing cheesemakers into the downtown arts overly, Pittsfield will create new opportunities for finding free cheese. Many artists offer free cheese when they open up their studios, for example.

Cheese is for any resident of Pittsfield and eligible non-residents with limited incomes who east food. People living in homeless shelters, group homes for the disabled, drug and alcohol treatment centers, and other subsidized housing are eligible for cheese. Some people must work to qualify for cheese, while others are exempt from the work requirement.

“The Cheese Eligibility Check is an easy way for you to find out if you are likely to qualify for cheese, by answering questions online about your household, your living situation, your income, and your expenses. The amount of cheese you get in Pittsfield depends on your household size, income, and expenses. You are expected to spend about 30% of your income on cheese.”

The document remains hush-hush, until Bianchi announces it as The Big Cheese when he holds a rally for his re-election declaration.



In related news, Time-Warner Cable system in Pittsfield announced that it moved to higher-numbered addresses when going from analog to digital signals on July 23. Working with Mayor Bianchi, Time Warner created a new “Cheese Channel” to replace the coma-inducing public, educational, and governmental slop now being shown. That would include John Krol‘s cheesy “Good Morning, Pittsfield,” that curdled exercise in self-indulgence.

The move to “The Cheese Channel” suffered a setback when some products exploded at a cheese factory that produces Frnach cheese. After the exposion died down and the smoke cleared, all that was left was de brie. This made the cheese sad, and that’s how blue cheese came into being. In response, Bianchi handed a blind man a cheese grater.

“That’s the most violent book I’ve ever read,” the man exclaimed.



Just recently, the city of Pittsfield transferred …

$475,000 from the health insurance account. It will use the “free” money to pay a $356,220 deficit in the snow and ice removal account. Wait a sec: Didn’t we have another mild winter last year? And the city ran up that amount of debt? Sounds icy, baby. Some $160,000 of the money will go to cover unpaid veterans’ services program expenses. That program is administered by Roseann Frieri. The transfer bails her out of debt. The remaining $21,220 of YOUR money will be used to pay off short-term debt. In other words, taxpayers won’t gain a thing for the dough.

$136,000 from the so-called “contingency account” (another of those shady “free cash” accounts that allow politicians and officials to hide slush funds) for the police department “special investigation overtime account.” Must be nice.

$126,715, also from the “contingency account” to bail out the fire department for “emergency staffing.”

$24,995 from the utilities account toward election expenses and parks maintenance.

That’s a grand total of $762,710 of your tax dollars being transferred from their designated accounts to be used to cover over-spending elsewhere. This is how the city budgets? This sloppily? Remember that a department head advocated for and the politicians approved every dollar in the designated accounts, because they were so desperately needed. Well, again, we have shown that to be nonsense.

This from the Pittsfield Gazette: “Treasurer Sue Carmel termed the actions routine.”

Yes, and that’s exactly the problem. If the treasurer of a company in the Dreaded Private Sector budgeted this poorly, that person would be out on the street and hitting the bricks for empties.


“For it swings out of reach / Like a cloud! And as free / As a star; or thy beauty, / That seems too, I vow, / Remote as the sweet apple swinging / Ah me! / At the end of the bough!”James Stephens, last stanza, “Sweet Apple.” (1913)




  1. Jonathan Melle
    July 23, 2013 at 8:27 pm #

    Pittsfield still has a dead downtown that most people avoid, especially after hours. It makes sense to try to emphasize the arts and cultural venues in downtown Pittsfield because there is no business there except for social services and the courthouse. One of my biggest fears as a former youth growing up in Pittsfield was to be a social problem on North Street. A life sentence depending on “Social Services Alley” or North Street. I feel very fortunate and lucky to have moved away from Pittsfield. It sad for me to read that so many Pittsfield residents are living in poverty. Pittsfield is a post-industrial community that GE left behind for Wall Street. Pittsfield is ran by the Good Old Boy network, which is a group of inter-related multi-generational families that network to give each other state and local government and non-profit jobs. One has to kiss the behinds of the Good Old Boy network if they want a job in Pittsfield. If one speaks out about the corruption in Pittsfield politics, he or she is black-listed by the Good Old Boy network from earning even a minimum wage McJob at WalMart. I wonder if Pittsfield will ever change?

  2. dusty
    July 24, 2013 at 2:26 am #

    I hope Barry is keeping as close an eye on the city spending and its books as he did on the school side. Sure seemed like we had less snow and ice than normal to me. Is Barry allowed to look at the city side? Has he fallen out of grace with the mayor? I will be voting for him in November.

    I think if a new business comes under the title of Art it is almost guaranteed tax breaks and help from the city. that may explain something.

  3. Scott
    July 24, 2013 at 4:21 am #

    Damn it! I just cut back my cheese consumption! Dan, the woman filing taxes as head of household and doing right by thier children are not the problem. I thought you were running for mayor was it all talk?

  4. tito
    July 24, 2013 at 5:12 am #

    Double Talk,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  5. Russell Moody
    July 24, 2013 at 6:50 am #

    As I get older… I am becoming more and more lactose intolerant…

  6. joetaxpayer
    July 24, 2013 at 9:27 am #

    We should try to get Trojan to open a factory on the PEDA site. Kill 2 birds with one stone.

  7. Still wondering
    July 24, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    Seems to me that last winter was in the “normal” category. Maybe it was easier in Stockbridge.

    • danvalenti
      July 24, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

      It’s always easier in Stockbridge!

  8. Dave
    July 24, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

    The snow and ice removal line item is underfunded for even the mildest winter by design because it is one of those budgets that can deficit spend for as much as is required. Budget tricks 101—they should teach this class in civics in the PPS.

    • Mike Ward
      July 24, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

      Gold star to Dave. That’s a pretty obscure thing to know.

      • raider50
        July 24, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

        how bazaar how bazaar

    • danvalenti
      July 24, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

      Excellent observation. That aspect of the snow-removal budget has long been troubling to all those interested in honest funding of government. Because they can deficit spend to the hilt then make it up later with transfers, this account exists as a blank check for officials to do with what they wish. Just a guess, but there’s probably been a lot of “funny money” spent to grease the right skids.

      • Oldtimer
        July 24, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

        This happens in most cities and towns.

    • Wilson
      July 25, 2013 at 4:43 am #

      Ridiculous, should be a fireable offense for the department head. The next one would be more cautious

  9. gEE Whiz
    July 24, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

    I knew cheese would be the leader of Pittsfield’s big comeback under Bianchi. Lots of holes, like Swiss. Lots of smell like limburger. Thanks DV for the laughs today, it made my day.

  10. tito
    July 24, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    And in other news,,,,,,,,,the Dragon restaurant is opening again, I think, maybe they’re doing it in increment’s?

  11. Mark Smith
    July 24, 2013 at 6:49 pm #

    According to the Pittsfield Gazette, Gerald Ely has taken out papers for his mayoral campaign. And late news from the Eagle says that Mr. Capitanio will not seek re-election for Ward 3.

    • danvalenti
      July 24, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

      Just by taking out papers, Ely has 40% out of the gate.Does anybody know anything about him?

  12. Giacometti
    July 24, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

    According to USAToday Time Warner Cable may loose all broadcast rights to broadcast CBS programs as soon as this Thursday if a new contract they are working on is not signed.

    I wonder if such an event will get me a discount on my bill ?

    The future of television is the Roku 3 box which enables those who own one to pick up Smart TV and its 5,000 plus channels worldwide for a one time price of under $ 100.00

    • dusty
      July 25, 2013 at 2:34 am #

      Please tell us more. Time Warner is a robber baron.

  13. Giacometti
    July 25, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

    ” Roku ” it’s a really amazing set up…there are many free stations world wide and some stations that you subscribe to…but for the most part it’s the future of television…If you ask about it
    even Time Warner admits that the streaming quality of programming that is broadcast over Roku is their future. The latest version of Roku is the Roku 3 box. It’s cost is a one time price of under $ 100.00 but you will need a wifi DSL line in your home to use it…Netflix, Crackle and Hulu are just a sample of the
    stations that you can get. It’s really an amazing value for sure