WE PRESENT THE DOTS ON ALF BARBALUNGA AND THE JRC RUMOR … plus …WITH THE LIKES OF CROWE AND BEHNKE, IS IT ANY WONDER WHY PITTSFIELD KIDS HAVE BEEN SHORTCHANGED?
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, AUG. 1, 2013) — Welcome to August, the penultimate act of The Vanishing
Summer. On this day, 51 years ago, Boston Red Sox right hander Bill Monbouquette threw a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox. The losing pitcher was Early Wynn. That night he suffered a late loss in his quest for win # 300. Monbouquette’s gem followed that of Boston’s Earl Wilson, who no-hit the Angels earlier in the season. THE PLANET still remembers we were in the dining room at Camp Russell, eating corn bread, when they made the announcement over the loudspeaker of Monbo’s no-no.
It hasn’t been 51 years. It’s been four days now, and still no reply from lame duck school committee chairman Alf Barbalunga on whether or not he’s been anointed to succeed the head of the Juvenile Resource Center when Jack Quinn retires. This tells us that there’s probably something going on behind the scenes.
Barbalunga typically counts among the ranks of the more responsive and responsible public figures when the media comes calling with a query. Certainly, that has been THE PLANET‘s track record going back with Barbalunga many years. Therefore, when he doesn’t respond, we begin to wonder.
With connections within the sheriff’s department, the school department, and city hall, it would not tax Brainiac or even Lex Luthor to find a way to get Barbalunga into the position, if it was do desired. If this scuttlebutt is true, the question would be why? Why would Barbalunga want to leave his position in the south county courts — a lifetime sinecure with $107,000 pay (plus bennies), the last we knew? There would be a good reason, we’re sure.
Let’s see, where are the dots?
* Mayor Bianchi serves on the school committee.
* Alf Barbalunga chairs the school committee.
* Sheriff Tom Bowler worked on Bianchi’s campaign.
* Bianchi worked on Bowler’s campaign.
* Bowler’s sister managed both Bianchi’s and Bowler’s campaigns.
* Bowler’s sister ended up with a job as Bianchi’s director of administrative services.
* Alf is Judge Barbalunga‘s son.
* The sheriff’s department staffs the JRC.
* The JRC is beholden to the school department, hence the school committee, for its budget.
When you add these dots up, does a picture form?
PSD, ‘THE CHILDREN’, TEACHERS, TAXPAYERS BEING HELD BACK BY DULL, SAFE, MUNDANE BUREAUCRATS, CANDIDATES, & POLS
With magnificently safe and unimaginative bureaucrats such as N. Tracy Crowe and Kristen Behnke, deputy superintendent and assistant superintendent respectively to superintendent Jake McCandless (Jake IV), is it any wonder than the Pittsfield School Department continues to languish in achievement while itspills over the top in spending? [ED. NOTE: DAVE, one of THE PLANET's correspondents, has suggested we call Jake IV "JIV," pronounced "Jive." We like it! So it shall be: JIV]. Behnke is the school department’s finance director — in other words, the PSD’s bag lady. Crowe is … hmmmm, we don’t know exactly what Crowe does. We’re not sure anyone else does, either.
By the way, with a superintendent, deputy superintendent, associate superintendent, and assistant superintendent and who knows what else — each making way more than $100,000 a year plus bennies — do you think the PSD might be a tad, uh, “top heavy?” If so, do not voice this concern publicly, because you will be accused of high treason.
At that point, they will question your “Loyalty,” shine the McDonald’s French fry lights on your face, and begin the interrogation. We know. We’ve been there and escaped to talk about it!
It is the recalcitrant “status quo” keepers such as these administrators who keep taxpayers in the poorhouse, teachers deflated, parents in the dark, and students out in the cold. This type of “safe” administrator, handling more than $90 million of a $137 million budget, will drive good men women out of office if they should by chance attain it and from seeking it if they haven’t.
No. The Status Quo would rather have the likes of, say, Donna Todd Rivers, a woman who, as a former talk show host, played so much softball with those in power she could have hitched a ride to the Carolinas this week with the girl softball team that’s competing in the Babe Ruth World Series. Dull, unimaginative, “safe” bureaucrats who control so much money tend to draw dull, unimaginative, “safe” candidates of the kind Rivers seems to be. Timid, tentative, tame types can be counted on not to upset the apple carts or the booths of the money changers.
And no, THE PLANET isn’t singling out any candidate here. We merely employ the most convenient at hand, one who made news worth lampooning (“I’m closing, I’m not closing.”), as a handy means of exemplification. There are plenty of other candidates who fit in the category.
Ladies and gentlemen, these are officials determined to do the “safe” thing, which is to keep increasing school spending, even as student performance worsens. With fat salaries and little accountability, why would they want to risk inviting any “game changers” into their cozy little nests? They tell the public they have spent more money. For them, that’s the equivalent of having “done something” to address a school system that continues to sink.
As THE PLANET has long since proven, there is no correlation between increase in spending and increase in student performance, given, as is the case, a certain level of requisite dollars. Give that baseline of funding, great results can be obtained at far less money than that being spent within the PSD. How is it, for instance, that parochial schools, with a fraction of the spending, consistently out-perform their public school counterparts?
The apathy of the electorate tells us that the vast majority of people are not buying it, to the extent that they have lost all faith in the elective process. Of course, that’s just what these types of “Players” want, for the “Average Joe” to give up on the process and leave the process of elections to the special interests.
- The Invaders, alien beings from a dying planet. Their destination: the Earth. Their purpose: to make it their world. David Vincent has seen them. For him, it began one lost night on a lonely country road, looking for a shortcut that he never found. It began with a closed deserted diner, and a man too long without sleep to continue his journey. It began with the landing of a craft from another galaxy. Now David Vincent knows that the Invaders are here, that they have taken human form. Somehow he must convince a disbelieving world that the nightmare has already begun.