PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, AUG. 27, 2013) — As Pittsfield’s public schools continue to reel in an amalgamation of falling test scores, increasing drop out rates, graduates unprepared for college and the workplace, the growing problem of the misuse of technology and smart phones, and all the rest of it, it’s comforting to know that the schools may be taking action, even if it is watery.

The school committee will be “testing the waters” on an idea that makes about as much sense as tacking up a Jell-O cube to a bulletin board.

Recently, PPS athletic director Jim Abel sent a letter to the Pittsfield School Committee. Abel wants to add crew to the school athletics program.


You heard it right: Crew.

Forget the basics. Reading, writing, math — they’re all so passe. What the kids need is a little rowing. Paddle, paddle, paddle. Might be good for their self-esteem.

THE PLANET advises the school committee to sink to Davy Jones’ locker this one before it gets one foot off shore.



School department asst. supt. for business and finance Kristen Behnke took her “cough syrup” like a big girl at the most recent school committee meeting. The school committee “cut” the FY14 operating budget by $200,000. Oh, don’t get your Pop Tarts toasted. The school committee didn’t suddenly grow a set of gonads. The committee was merely following the the city council’s June vote to trim that amount from the school budget.

Since then, the GOB, the Vested Interests, and anyone whose living depends on the public teat have bleated about the horrific “cut” in the school’s budget. Fact is, Pittsfield taxpayers will have to pay nearly $2 million more to operate the budget from FY13. Some “cut,” eh?

Behnke told the committee the schools will be spreading the $200Gs over a variety of accounts, including vocational supplies, computers, phone, library, and testing. Committeewoman Kathy Amuso cast the lone vote against the move. She wanted the entire $200,000 to be taken from the fuel account, as the city council proposed.

Amuso made a good point: Multiple cuts over many areas broaden the impact. There’s no need to wonder what happens if the fuel account runs short. The city would find additional funds from they very stones themselves at the first story of any of “The Children” going cold this winter. If the winter continues on the mild to average side, as it has been for two years, the problem won’t even come up. If worse comes to absolute worst, the city might consider the admittedly desperate but nonetheless decidedly necessary move of …

… cutting crew.



Is former state senator and defeated congressional candidate Andrea Nuciforo getting into the pot business? He’s trying.

The Boston Herald ran this article on Saturday, written by Chris Cassidy. Pay particular attention to the last two paragraphs:

—– 00 —–

The Bay State’s prospective pot peddlers include doctors, lawyers, former Beacon Hill lawmakers and the owner of a hemp clothing boutique — just some of the 181 applicants feverishly competing to open the newly legal dispensaries in what experts predict will be a $1 billion industry.

“We’ve been in the cannabis field longer than anyone else here in Massachusetts,” said Jonathan Napoli, who owns The Hempest, a hemp clothing shop on Newbury Street and in Harvard Square. “We’re local players. We’re not coming in from Colorado or California or anything.”

Napoli wants to open Planting Hope — the name of his proposed pot dispensary — in Dennis, Salem and Boston, though he declined to discuss specific locations.

Officials yesterday released the names of those vying for the 35 medical marijuana dispensary permits the state is doling out the first year of the new law. Also released were the counties — but not the towns — where they hope to set up shop.

“It does seem like a real lot, to be honest with you,” said Lynnfield Town Administrator Bill Gustus. “It would lead me to believe it must be a lucrative business.”

But Napoli said there are no big-money guarantees in the marijuana industry.

“There are a lot of expenses involved,” said Napoli. “But the price will only come down as more states start regulating. It remains to be seen how profitable it’s going to be. I see a lot of optimistic projections, but I think there will be some unknown bumps down the road.”

The biggest, he said, will be persuading cities and towns to allow the dispensaries in their communities. Lynnfield, for example, passed a moratorium that will bar the pot shops from setting up there until the town can work out specific regulations — a process that could take until next spring.

Cities and towns aren’t allowed to permanently ban the dispensaries from their communities, but they can zone where they can and can’t locate.

“In some cases … it’s a knee-jerk reaction, that people are anti-cannabis” Napoli said. “There is a lot of fear of the unknown out there. But a lot of towns … are rational about it.”

Five of the applicants are listed as doctors and the names of two are followed by “Esq.,” a common indication that they are lawyers. At least two former state senators — Republican Brian P. Lees and Democrat Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. — are listed as contact names for dispensaries. Lees could not be reached. Nuciforo is one of five applicants in Hampshire County and hopes to open Kind Medical Inc..

We think that a dispensary should be patient-centered, it should be safe, secure and allow fair access to patients that need it,” Nuciforo said. “We think we can accomplish that for Western Mass.”

Long-tiome Nuciforo critic Jonathan Melle, who altered THE PLANET to Nuciforo’s latest business venture, asks a reasonable question: “Is Nuciforo using his political connections to receive one of the 35 medical dispensary permits in Massachusetts?”

Seeing as how this sort of “Who You Know” strategy has been elevated into a corrupt art form in Massachusetts, would it strain credulity to consider this as a possibility?


“Be with me, Beauty, for the fire is dying; / My dog and I are old, too old for roving”John Masefield, opening lines, “On Growing Old.”



This leads to a fair question, first raised by long-time Nuciforo foe Jonathan Melle:


  1. FloggingMolly
    August 27, 2013 at 8:07 am #

    Here we go a day long of Jonathan Melle diatribes about the Pittsfield GOBs

  2. Dave
    August 27, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    Hmmmm… PPS looking into making crew a varsity sport about the same time a new boat club opens on the lake. Sounds fishy (pun intended) to me. Let me guess, someone knows someone who knows someone who has kids that want to go to a college and row who knows someone who knows someone in the PPS who knows someone who knows someone who owns a boat club that will get some of that PPS cash for renting or selling the necessary equipment and housing it “for the children”. Ah what the hell, “Row row row your boat gently down the stream, merrily merrily merrily merrily life living off the PPS $ is everyone’s dream.”

    • MrG1188
      August 27, 2013 at 10:10 am #

      Wow…How funny is that?!? I’m a great conspiracy guy and I never thought of that. Connection may even be more direct than your “friend of a friend” proposal. Perhaps someone should check simply to see if the esteemed AD is a member of said new boat club! Geez I wish I’d thought of that Dave!

    • dusty
      August 27, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

      You mean to tell me that after Barry cut $200 grand from their budget they still have money left over for rowing? What does that tell ya?

  3. tito
    August 27, 2013 at 8:48 am #

    ,,,,,,,ah yes the good old daze,,,,when J Mel was looking for signarachies from Andy, and he told young J to move on, hasn’t been the same betwixt them since,.’,,,’,,,

  4. NBI
    August 27, 2013 at 9:07 am #

    Andy can’t be in it for the money, because 105 CMR: Department of Public Health clearly states that the dispenseries are “non-profit”. Just like BHS!

    Maybe he’s in it for the children. After all, the Pioneer Valley has 5 colleges filled with potential patients. The same document contains the following provision on page 8. I’m not an expert on pot consumption, but doesn’t 10 ounces or more, every 60 days, seem like a whole lotta weed?

    (I) Acertifying physician may determine and certify that a qualifying patient requires an amount of marijuana exceeding 10 ounces as a 60-day supply and shall document the amount and the rationale in the medical record and in the written certification. For that qualifying patient, that amount of marijuana constitutes a 60-day supply.

    BTW, the next clause outlines the rules for dispensing to someone under 18.

    I haven’t digested the entire document yet, but it also states that patients must be Massachusetts residents. Maybe this will finally bring jobs and population growth to Pittsfield!

    While I’m for the program itself, there seems to be a lot of grey areas.I still don’t know why they aren’t using established pharmacies to distribute, just like any other prescription.

    • CarlosDanger
      August 27, 2013 at 1:20 pm #

      NBI, CEO’s of non-profits make a ton of money. The rule for NP is they take any profit and invest it back into the company, sometimes in the form of bonuses for senior management.

      • dusty
        August 27, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

        and after senior management takes a huge bite I have heard that once in a while some of the dollars migrate to the Cayman Islands

      • danvalenti
        August 27, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

        Correctamundo! “Non profit” or “not for profit” in many cases amounts to little more than a legal tax-dodge. A “non-profit” can take in unlimited amounts of money. All it has to do is spend all of it on the business. That usually includes ridiculous salaries and bonuses for top management. Such a deal buys lots of protection, especially from any politicians who are stupid enough (it used to be called “integrity”) to want to do something about it.

    • danvalenti
      August 27, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

      Excellent points, NBI.

      • NBI
        August 27, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

        Yup, I know all about the outrageous salaries of most non profit management teams. Sorry that I didn’t emphasize my sarcasm more clearly. This is going to be huge industry in MA and a big pay back for the hand picked clinic leaders, who played the GOB game at the state level.

      • NBI
        August 27, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

        Yup, I know all about the outrageous salaries of most non profit management teams. Sorry that I didn’t emphasize my sarcasm more clearly. This is going to be huge industry in MA and a big pay back for the hand picked clinic leaders, who played the GOB game at the state level.

  5. tito
    August 27, 2013 at 9:35 am #

    ,,,,,maybe this and maybe that, J Mel will soon dig up the dirt on this,,,,. maybe Nuciforo is a lobbyist or an agent representing what and whom the pot will be distributed. Either way,the esteemed Senator and Deeds honcho, isn’t doing this for nothing, that’s for damn sure.,,,,,,,,,

  6. Scott
    August 27, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    People should be able to grow their own weed. As society becomes more lax on the subject and more people have access to good quality stuff grown either by themselves or someone they know the price will drop dramatically. The only reason there is so much money in it now is because the gov’t says you can’t have it. Look at all the booze shops around town and tell me what’s the difference? Aside from the health issues associated with alcohol consumption.

  7. Mr. X
    August 27, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

    C’mon peeps, what’s wrong with adding another thing to help kids stay busy and help keep em outta trouble. I say the more after school activities the better. So let em row row row their boats!!

    • Scott
      August 27, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

      I agree if the money actually goes to the students we should be investing it in them they are worth it!

    • Dave
      August 27, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

      Lacrosse started as a club, bowling is still a club, why would crew start as a varsity sport? Bowling is the most participated sport in all age groups and has been denied varsity status and remains a club. The count is 18 schools in MA who have crew, let’s ask how many have bowling and weigh the cost and benefit factor.

      • danvalenti
        August 27, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

        Good point. Beginning as a varsity sport and not a club is one red flag. You also pointed out another potential warning: The yacht club. Someone who knows someone who knows someone … you have the process pretty much down!

    • danvalenti
      August 27, 2013 at 4:08 pm #

      Busy? How about homework? How about they give that a try? More after-school activities = more burden for taxpayers. There are enough as is, and maybe too many, once you go outside the PPS and count karate, ballet, gymnastics, yadda yadda.

  8. tito
    August 27, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    ,,,,,,,rumors are the yacht club could use Silver Lake for practice, I’m all for that,,,,,did you know S L once caught fire, years ago,,,,,,,

  9. tito
    August 27, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

    ,,,, in the winter there could be a snowmobile club,,, you got it, the layout is already in place behind Allendale School,,

  10. danvalenti
    August 27, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

    The point is, the focus should be on improving what’s going on IN the classroom, during school hours, not what takes place after.