PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, JAN. 12, 2013) — This fall, students dining in public school cafeterias will pay an extra dime for their lunches — from $1.85 to $1.95. A dime doesn’t sound like much, but to hard-pressed families, it’s another ten cents per meal that will leave their pockets and go to the government.

Why would the schools wish to make it harder for parents? Sylvana Bryan, food service director of the Pittsfield School Department, claims the department has no choice. She insists the federal government through the USDA has mandated the increased cost. The city school committee, in a rare show of intelligence, voted down the increase (Terry Kinnas, Dan Elias, and Kathy Amuso opposed in a 3-3 vote; ties defeat a proposal).

The school committee has done well with this vote, but it must take the next step and implement it. Local jurisdiction, once a bedrock principle of public education, has become endangered, and this would be a good case to challenge federal mandates. Localities have challenged the feds on numerous issues, mostly of great social impact such as abortion, health care, and unfunded mandates. This one, resting on a thin dime, might not even attract the attention of federal authorities. The schools could simply ignore the measure and let the government make a federal case out of it. We’d give 100-to-1 that the feds wouldn’t risk the embarrassment.

Incidentally, do you think the make-up of the city’s public schools is changing? Once predominantly composed of self-reliant, self-sufficient families, today’s mongrel’s mix of familial breakdown has resulted in an amazing indication of systemic collapse. Half of the city’s 6,000 public school students qualify for free meals. When it comes to living off taxpayers, there is such a thing as a free lunch.

This means that, once again, the lower middle class gets penalized for its hard work and relative success. For making a wafer above the minimum federal income when it comes to food programs, the middle class must pay the full freight, including price increase if the dime mandate stays.



The school lunch story’s connection with the following has to do with questioning authority. “Question everything” has been one of THE PLANET’s key planks in our platform of life. This is something every good journalist possesses, an inquisitiveness even in the face of the obvious. As the old newsroom saw goes, “If your momma tells you she loves you, check it out.”

In this case, we have the Catholic Health Association exercising good judgment and conscience in parting ways with an outmoded and unreasonable stance by the U.S. bishops. It’s good to see  free-thinking Catholics not accepting on blind faith the pronouncement of the US Catholic Bishops Conference. The CHA has the benefit of more pragmatic contact with the “outside world” than the bishops, a stuffy old men’s club too often out of touch with reality, as Pope Francis has been telling us.

NEW YORK (AP) — In a split with U.S. bishops, a trade group for Catholic hospitals said Tuesday it can accept the Obama’s administration latest compromise on birth control coverage by religious employers.

“We are pleased that our members now have an accommodation that will not require them to contract, provide, pay or refer for contraceptive coverage,” said the Catholic Health Association.

Under President Barack Obama‘s health care law, most employers are required to cover birth control as a free preventive service for women workers. Churches and other houses of worship are fully exempt from the mandate. But religiously-affiliated hospitals, universities and social service groups are not.

The compromise, in a final regulation from the administration, attempts to create a buffer for these employers. It requires insurers or the health plan’s outside administrator to pay for birth control coverage, and creates a mechanism for reimbursing them.

However, U.S. Roman Catholic bishops are suing to overturn the entire requirement, saying it trespasses on freedom of religion. The bishops have lost sight of the separation of Church and State. The state leaves the Church alone until the Church begins to minister and administer to the general public and not just its congregants. Perhaps this example by the CHA as well as the forceful leadership of Pope Francis will inspire more Catholics to remember that clergy are mere mortals, men as capable of error — and righteousness — as any of us. Catholics need to remember that an informed conscience takes supremacy over dogma, especially when the dogmatic causes the good conscience to quiver.



It is not many degrees of separation between the story on Catholic healthcare and the Aaron Hernandez murder case. Hernandez, charged with first degree murder, engaged in behavior and associations that led him to throw away $40 million dollars, a mansion, the adulation of fans, his loving relationships, and everything else of value the man possessed. The former All-Pro tight end, still innocent until proven otherwise, has thrown it all away, regardless of the court outcome.

The question remains: “Why?”

Aaron Hernandez under arrest

The answer can be been in the semi-literate, ignorant, gangsta infection that characterizes the “writing,” if we may call it that, between Hernandez and the man he is accused of murdering on the night of the victim’s death. The tattooed, ignorant lifestyle of hip-hop-gangsta-rap lifestyle of Hernandez and his “associates” from Bristol, Conn., has infected the youth of America, and it is never more on display when its disciples send text messages.

Investigators released the results of a search warrant against Aaron Hernandez yesterday afternoon. It gives further details of the prosecution’s claim that Hernandez, along with two associates, picked up Odin Lloyd at his house in Boston, drove him to an industrial park less than a mile from Hernandez’s home, and shot him five times.

Police released the specifics of the text message conversation that Hernandez had with Lloyd on the night of his death.

Here’s the conversation as it appeared in court records (via Brian Ballou of the Boston Globe):

Hernandez (9:05 pm): “I’m coming to grab that tonight u gon b around I need dat and we could step for a little again”

[no answer]

Hernandez (9:34 pm): “Waddup.”

Lloyd (9:37 pm): “Aite, where.”

Hernandez (9:39 pm): “idk it don’t matter but imma hit u when I’m dat way like Las time if my phone dies imma hit u when I charge it which will be in a lil.”

Lloyd (10:00 pm): “Aite idk anything goin on”

Hernandez (10:13 pm): “I’ll figure it out ill hit u on way.”

Lloyd (12:22 am): “We still on.”

The court records also show that Lloyd kept Hernandez in his phone under the name “Dis N***a.”

Investigators say Hernandez picked up Lloyd at 2:33 a.m.

It’s unclear what Hernandez was referring to when he said “grab that,” but Hernandez’s girlfriend reportedly told police that Lloyd was a marijuana dealer before Hernandez told her to stop talking to investigators.

Here’s the alleged timeline of events from the night of the killing.

And we’re updating all the findings from the search warrant here. >

It’s clear that the Aaron Hernandez brand of unread, unlearned, uneducated stupidity has become a badge of honor in these here United States of America among the majority of our youth. The hooded sweatshirts, the tattoos, the pants worn to the ass crack, the abuse of language betrays not a “lifestyle” but a “deathstyle,” one that parents, public schools, and other so-called “Adults,” have passed along as deftly as a matador waiving the charging bull ahead.

It is clear: Unless the “adults” in these kids lives begin to live up to the name, we shall surely have a ringside seat to the demise of the Great American Experiment. We send this message to the Pittsfield Public School, to parents of any students in that system, to the politicians and Suits, and to anyone else guilty of ignoring the words of the prophet.


“Others, I am not the first, / Have willed more mischief they they durst: / If in the breathless night I too / Shiver now, ’tis nothing new.”A. E. Houseman, first verse, “Others, I Am Not the First.” (1896)




  1. Giacometti
    July 12, 2013 at 3:44 am #

    When I taught school in Pittsfield several years ago my students would only communicate in gangsta text…they never spoke in
    English. It has become the total loss of an entire generation.
    There is nothing that is going to change it either. These kids want everything in their lives to be as easy as possible. It’s a drive-up window society. They want a drive-up window on everything…it’s literally a drive-up window on their entire life…Their parents or grand parents pay for their cell phones…they steal from every person they know to get money for drugs…they just want to waste time in school and expect the system will in the end to give them the GED they care nothing about…just to let them loose into the world to steal,
    party and do drugs and they have no life expectancy at all.
    They actually are looking forward to spending the rest of their
    lives in and out of jail with more tattoos, more stealing, more drugs…and they think nothing of giving somebody ” a face job”
    with a 9mm.

    • danvalenti
      July 12, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

      Well stated, GIACO. This tolerance of the “gangsta” cultural influence in the Pittsfield public schools in a sense underlies my criticisms of the PSD financing. A lot of good money is being wasted while the schools pretend everything’s OK.

  2. Jim Gleason
    July 12, 2013 at 4:38 am #

    Sorry to write on a subject different than you have today but I heard on the radio this AM (Fri.) that Pittsfield State Rep.Tricia Frumpy Bouvier ruberto Patrick is going to vote against the majority of fellow legislators in sticking with the Governor to put a large new gas tax hike in place.Most legislators are in favor of a small hike while the governor, and Tricia F BrP. are in favor of the larger one. How beholden to Patrick must she be to do this? Just a sheep, not a lioness.

    • joetaxpayer
      July 12, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

      Jim couldn’t agree with you more. Our entire Berkshire delegation are sheep. They vote down sound common sense welfare reform, that could save tax’s payers millions upon millions. Yet have no problem going after the working folks and making them pay more.The should take the real world challenge where you don’t get paid thousands of dollars to drive to work and get free parking. Also must actually show up to work to get paid.

    • danvalenti
      July 12, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

      You identify a real problem: The lack of independent representation by the 3rd Berkshire District rep. The proposed new tax hike is abhorrent.

    • FatOldBaldGuy
      July 14, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

      Well, I hope she remembers that during the next election.

  3. Still wondering
    July 12, 2013 at 7:53 am #

    TFB will do anything she is told. How do you think Jimmy noticed her “potential”?

  4. Fan Dan Go
    July 12, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

    The gangsta speak is everywhere, what we adults don’t know about what these kids are up to would shock the world. I work in juvenile resources and know what I’m talking about. Giacometi in the first post pretty much sums it up better than I can. And from experience the Pittsfield public school system is ignoring all this trouble. The diplomas are mostly pretend let’s pretend the kids earned it. MCAS was supposed to prevent that not it cuases it.

    • joetaxpayer
      July 12, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

      Fan To Go I did notice the amount of kids graduating from PHS was up dramatically. Anyone have any thoughts why?

  5. Giacometti
    July 12, 2013 at 5:36 pm #


    It’s all about making it appear we have the school drop out rate under control…if the PSD didn’t give out a GED to every student
    regardless of whether they earned it or not …the drop out rate would reflect the truth…we are graduating a lot of students who
    are dumber than dirt and throwing them to the wolves of society
    Gangsta’s one and All

  6. Ron Kitterman
    July 12, 2013 at 9:40 pm #

    Hey Giacometti –
    “ Where did they teach you to talk like that, in some Panama City ‘ Sailor wanna hump-hump’ bar, or is it getaway day and your last shot at his whiskey? Sell crazy someplace else, we’re all stocked up here…. “

  7. Giacometti
    July 12, 2013 at 10:15 pm #


    At the Panama City Sailor wanna hump-hump bar we don’t check I.D.’s at the door…we check I.Q.’s that way no PPS students get in

  8. Mike Ward
    July 13, 2013 at 8:39 am #

    I think the problem with school lunches is they are often made up of the deep fried garbage in that photograph. Students would be better served with a PB&J and an apple.

  9. Ron Kitterman
    July 13, 2013 at 11:03 am #

    The problem is instead of spending the $1.85 towards the cost of the lunches, the buracracy bloated government runs PSA’s every 15 minutes on the radio from telling (we the people ) they are making the healthy choices for us, instead of returning control locally. We lost our individuality to the progressives they know what is best for us to eat and how much to pay, and how big the portions should be. Bigger government wins once again. Michelle Obama will decide what our kids can eat and pizza and chicken nuggets will be a forgotten staple.

  10. Silence Dogood
    July 13, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    Is AH in the same joint with horn boy and Leo?

    • Fan Dan Go
      July 13, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

      Think so. As for the crap they serve the kids in school, Mike Ward is right, Deep fried, greasey and loaded with fat.

  11. danvalenti
    July 13, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

    I like the idea of applying IQs instead of IDs in the PPS.

  12. Ed McClelland
    July 14, 2013 at 5:11 am #

    Pittsfield and it’s culture are a microcasam generational transition. Our neighborhood is a salient example. Families have lived in and owned their homes for many years, dating from the 1940’s and 50’s. It is a protypical area of blended upper middle class families. In the past two years,three of these long time residences have been sold by the heirs and children of these families because the last survivor passed away or was placed in a nursing home. The second generation had moved away from Pittsfield to seek employment and establish a life elsewhere. They had no interest in maintaining their inherited property and there was no concern shown for the “old” neighborhood or the city.
    They simply wanted to liquidate the property, line their pockets and get back out of town. One sold a historical house to a “flipper” who in turn sold it on contract. Another underpriced and quickly turned the inheritance. Another was sold and rented.
    Result; and this may be atypical, is that family homes which were once well cared for and teeming with gardens and flowers are now eye sores with trash and extraneous “stuff” littering unmowed lawns and driveways. The new residents are part of the enabling culture mentioned in this post. In every instance the new families are multi-generational with unmarried children and grandchildren living at home and not working. In two instances the homes were bought by their parents so that they could have a place to live (the purchasing parents do not live with the other group). We now have junked vehicles and beer cans instead of flowers and bird feeders. Nightly the beer fests on the front porch or in the garage without shirts and displaying a variety of tatoos and f-bomb filled verbage are common. The PPD is now regular where they once were a rarity. Go to work ?What work ? Why they all are unemployed construction workers. One did however, give an interesting comparison between the old Second St. jail vs Sheiff Bowler’s hotel.
    The greatest generation and their stability and values are passing away. I’m sure there are many positives associated with their secession, but in Pittsfield as the GE generation passes, tax bases and incomes will erode and the community has to accept the cultural shift, including techies, entitlements, and gangstas.

    • danvalenti
      July 14, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

      A well-presented, beautifully written analysis. That “generational crisis” that is coming home to roost by the inheritors NOT coming home to roost has just begun and will accelerate for at least the next score of years. As the multi-cultural, multi-generational “gimme groups” move in, demand for services will grow and the drain will increase, since these people give nothing back. They are takers. Unless and until local government wises up, it shall be more distress for Pittsfield’s hard-pressed working families.

      • dusty
        July 15, 2013 at 12:56 am #

        Unfortunately Dan, the local government you speak of is made up largely of the takers. It is backed and supported by the takers. It is fed and nourished by the takers. The government which is not “of the people and for the people” has rather morphed into a parasitic entity feeding on its host city.

        Pittsfield is like a tree stump in the forest, covered with mushrooms and lichens. Ants nest within. The tree itself lies prone and rotted, with passersby needing to step over it on their way to a better place.

        • danvalenti
          July 15, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

          Yes. You are right. That’s why Pittsfield needs a Lone Ranger, a crusader, to run for mayor and fight back!

  13. hilly billy
    July 15, 2013 at 7:30 am #

    yo, chill my homies

  14. Outfox
    July 15, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

    The Pittsfield Domino’s franchise has a contract with PPS to bring in pizza for student lunch a couple of times a week. What’s that about?

    • dusty
      July 16, 2013 at 2:11 am #

      My first question would be…Is the franchise owner in any way connected to the school dept?

      • outfox
        July 16, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

        Trevor Crombie runs the franchise, but I tend to keep my head low so don’t know what his school dept. connection is.

  15. Scott
    July 17, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    The same glamorized lifestyle that got Trayvon Martin killed.