ALLEGED ‘ELECTION’ TODAY WON’T TOP 10% TURNOUT … PLANET ENDORSES YON, IVES in WARD 1; WELLS, LATURA in WARD 3 … CREW AS VARSITY SPORT HASN’T YET BEEN SENT TO WATERY GRAVE, THOUGH IT SHOULD BE … plus … JIVE, PITTSFIELD’S NEW SUPER, WANTS TO RESTORE UNNECESSARY ADMINISTRATIVE POSITION (TAXPAYERS, ASSUME THE POSiTioN)
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, SEPT. 24, 2013) — Today, there is, allegedly, and election. It doesn’t look like an election, hasn’t sounded like and election, and hasn’t walked or talked like an election, but rumor has it: It is an “election.” Maybe it’s a duck.
There were not enough candidates for preliminary run-offs for the Pittsfield at-large seats, school committee positions, mayor, or wards 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7. THE PLANET lets each of you to draw your own conclusions about what this says about the sad state of the city. Naturally, we have our own views on this electoral flatlining.
As for our endorsements, we again remind people that these are preferences, not predictions, a big difference. Usually, what we would like to see bears little resemblance to what actually happens. We read this as a sign of our intelligence and discrimination as well as a function of political apathy, where too many “average citizen” voters simply do not vote, leaving a wide-open head-shot for the political animals of the GOB. Today, we predict turnout of less than 10% of eligible voters in wards 1 and 3. That would mean a showing of just under 1,000 voters.
THE PLANET, by the way, may soon be revealing a shocker that will drive turnout for the November races.
WARD 1: PLANET LIKES YON AND IVES
THE PLANET likes Chris Yon because she has represented the ward well, has remarkably little ego for a politician, exudes sincerity, has shown independence from the mayor, listens to constituents (remember Spectrumgate?), and can make a boast of what for so many others is a liability, which would be her experience. Of her two opponents, Tammy Ives and Lisa Tully, we like Ives for one statement. That was her admission during what passed for a “debate” that she wasn’t “politically savvy.” That’s a plus. Tully seems too “connected” (“politically savvy”) for our tastes and those of Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski.
WARD 3: PLANET LIKES WELLS AND LATURA
Four candidates are looking to run-off in November to replace Paul Capitanio. The doe-eyed incumbent, as most of you know, finds himself embroiled in a criminal investigation relating to drugs, not exactly the firm timber from which steady platforms can be constructed. The four are Thomas Wells Jr., Richard Latura, Geoffrey German, and Nick Caccamo.
THE PLANET recommends Wells and Latura. Wells had the best answer on the refitting of the former All Souls Church into a childcare facility. He rightly understands and well-expressed that the neighbors in the area were largely in favor of the use of the building. Caccamo agreed but Wells conveyed the point more succinctly. Wells also had the right answer on PEDA, taking a cue from THE PLANET and calling for a top to bottom review to see why the site has been such a dismal failure. They can’t figure what will work, that’s obvious. Therefore, the next best thing is to reverse-engineer why it hasn’t worked.
The major concern about Caccamo is his employer. He works for the city of Pittsfield, in particular, the Pittsfield School Department. If he should become the Ward 3 councilor, he would not be able to vote on any school matter. He would have to recuse himself on any school votes. That would deprive his Ward 3 constituents of any representation on a department that consumes more than 70 cents of every dollar the city spends in a given fiscal year. Who wants a “30% councilor?” Caccamo, a policy wonk (that’s compliment, by the way) also seems to crave the political scene far too much. He’s a young man looking to make his way, and he’s taking what he thinks is the safe road of playing ball with the GOB. For any voter of independent mind, that alone should be reason enough to keep the lad out.
That leaves Latura and German, which ranks as a toss-up. German thinks “PEDA is doing a good job.” He actually said that during a debate. THE PLANET responds with, “Next! Thank you. We’ll be in touch.” By process of elimination, we have Latura.
CREW CUT HASN’T YET HAPPENED; ELITE SPORT HAS GOB BACKING, ENOUGH REASON NOT TO DO IT
With all the issues plaguing the underperforming Pittsfield Public Schools, you would think Alf Barbalunga, chairman of the school committee, would have sunk the proposal for crew as a varsity sport long ago, assigning it to Davy Jones’ locker (“Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees …”). For some mysterious reason, however, Barbalunga has called the proposal far from dead. This comes despite:
1.) Near-total indifference from the schools and the kids;
2.) Crew’s inappropriateness as a sport, more fit for Thurston J. Howell IV than Joe Kapanski Jr.
3.) The Mass. Interscholastic Athletic Assn. does not recognize crew as a sport.
4.) Zero public schools in the state offer crew as a varsity sport. The few districts that have any kind of crew program run it as booster-club activities, which means that taxpayers aren’t on the hook for the money.
As clueless as Barbalunga has been on this issue, Mayor Dan Bianchi has moved so far past clueless (in the wrong direction, mind you) that he doesn’t register on the Fruitjuice Clueless Unit Scale. At a recent school committee meeting, Bianchi opined this gem: “[Crew] seems like a great activity.” Why? Because the city has a lake nearby. The presence of a lake is no more a reason for crew than the existence of a pretty girl is a reason to buy X-Ray Specs. Once again, Bianchi failed to exert leadership, caving into a tiny minority of activists looking to hijack taxpayer money to pay for a sport best left to the blue bloods and yacht hounds.
Rather than have the pulse of the people on this issue, the school committee chose to waste time and money on a student survey and a stodgy study of “logistical questions” (finances, liability, and others). Only Terry Kinnas, the lone voice of reason on an unreasonable committee, raised the liability questions.
JIV (PRONOUNCED “JIVE”) WANTS TO RESTORE CUT ADMINISTRATIVE POST; MOVE PROVES HE’S CATCHING ON FAST TO PITTSFIELD’s BLEEDING WAYS
When Linda Avalle retired from her position as health coordinator in the PPS this summer, the taxpayers were in for some monetary relief. The position is a triplicate position created by the school administration to further lard the administrative payroll — not because it was right for “The Children” but because it would create another loyal liege, plus her family, friends, and loved ones.
THE PLANET let’s you in on a dirty little secret: PPS’ administrative levels are so top-heavy for political, not educational purposes. Yes, we know. We know. Like Claude Rains in “Casablanca,” you’re “shocked, shocked.” When you add to the administrative payroll, you create many more loyal boosters. Having a cushy, well-paying, great-benefits job creates a vested interest, and you can be sure that when election time comes, such loyalty will only vote for candidates who will keep the corrupt status quo.
Okay, fast forward to the city’s new superintendent of schools, the former Lee super, Jason “Jake” McCandless, better known on THE PLANET as Jake the Fourth, or JIV, pronounced “Jive.” When JIV found out about the “cut” through attrition, he immediately moved to have the position restored, along with its pay. It figures to be around $60,000 or more. As of now, the position remains unfilled, and no one we spoke to in the schools has even noticed.
The position supposedly focues on “wellness initiatives,” whatever the heck that means. We wonder, then, why do taxpayers pay for school nurses, medical services, physical education instructors, and coaches? You mean to say that among that plethora of talent, the PPS couldn’t come up with a “wellness initiative” or three.
Malarkey, our good friends. JIV is dishing out pure malarkey.
“How can we?” — motto in office of Christine Yon, Ward 1 councilor.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.