YET ANOTHER DOLLAR STORE WILL BE ADDED TO PITTSFIELD’s DYING ECONOMY … plus … ‘WALK A MILE IN HER SHOES’ LACKS SOLE; EVENT HAS BECOME RATHER WORN AT THE HEELS
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, SEPT. 23, 2013) — We got a dollar if you got a dime.
That seems to be the bargain offered to the Pittsfield economy by the deterministic, often harsh etiquette of the marketplace. When markets rule, cities like Pittsfield — with its politics as poisoned as its air, land, and water — lose out. You can read the times by looking at the signs.
One symptom of a losing local economy is the outbreak of numerous “jobs creation” outfits, non-profits, typically, eating up resources but contributing little in return. These kinds of outfits provide cover for politicians and Swells. In the face of the economy going into the drink, they can’t point to these worthless organizations to make it look like they’re “hard at work.”
They reward themselves at gatherings, dinners, lunches, and awards ceremonies, slapping themselves on the back for what a great job they’re doing — “Many of the Year,” Woman of the Year,” and “Snot Slug of the Year.” It’s all the same in the end. They are, like Mayor Dan Bianchi, masters of the cheap photo-op, and they know that the alleged daily newspaper in town, The Boring Broadsheet, will lop it up and run it on Page One as if it’s a big story. The regular people, though, aren’t fooled on bit. Rather, they are disgusted, and they will demonstrate that tomorrow when they don’t come out to vote in record numbers.
Case in point: The Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, Berkshire Creative, the Berkshires Visitors Bureau, 1 Berkshire, Berkshire Enterprises, the Berkshire County Regional Employment Board, the Community Development Board, Mass Development, the mayor’s office, and all the other “economic engines.” They have done little to create jobs — except, of course, the high-paying jobs for the executive directors and other staff, not forgetting the Con Job and the Snow Job for everyone else.
Another sure sign of the local economic failure has to be the plethora of dollar stores that have descended upon the city of Pittsfield like the vultures over the carcass of a jackal. They are to signs of economic life what a falling barometric pressure is to the weather. The latest in these Buck Wonders seems destined for outer West Housatonic Street after the community development board allowed zoning clearance for a 9,100-sq.-ft. structure at Route 20 and Callahan Drive. Just what the city needs, another cinder block store selling lower-end products to victimized and victimless economic casualties.
It’s pathetic. Some of the blame for this has to rest with Bianchi, who has done precious little, if anything, in terms of jobs. Can anyone name any specific, visionary jobs initiative undertaken by this do-nothing mayor? THE PLANET would love to hear it. On jobs, Bianchi is The Man Who Wasn’t There, a true Nowhere Man.
The issue of jobs comes up in every campaign. Every debate moderator asks about “jobs,” and every campaigner tosses out the usual bromides and generalizations that amount to nothing in response. Unless THE PLANET is asking the questions, the moderator, typically chosen by the GOB because they will be “safe” and not press, does no follow up. The candidates skate away better than Bobby Orr in his prime.
Candidates have the luxury of spinning yarns. Without office, their words remain comfortably hollow. Once in office, however, the issue of “jobs” now takes on the hue of reality. That’s when the men (of both genders) are separated from wooses. Granted, the mayor alone can’t revitalize an entire economy, but what has Bianchi done? Ribbon cuttings and fourth-grade science fairs haven’t worked. Neither has handing out certificates to Girl Scouts.
There are many practical steps that could be taken. These are the measures that would make sense and have a chance at yielding results, for example:
1.) Get outta town — The city’s strengths have to be marketed. You hit the road, go to shows, conventions, and places where you are likely to meet companies and their executives. The team goes prepared with a professionally produced exhibit. On jobs, Bianchi acts like the star-struck youth from Dubuque, hanging out in the local Capezio store, waiting to be discovered by Hollywood. It ain’t gonna happen, pards.
2.) OCD Retooling — Make the OCD director a kind of “jobs czar” to take the show on the road. Write and rehease the pitch so that it will sell igloos to refrigerators.
3.) Learning from Nothing — Figure out what’s wrong with the PEDA effort. Fifteen years of nothing will reveal important clues on what NOT to do. An objective process analysis of PEDA is in order, free of politics.
4.) Fooling with Schooling — The public school crisis must be addressed. Performance and accountability must be instituted. A first good step will be uniforms for middle and high schools. This will send a message to businesses that Pittsfield is serious about addressing its problems.
When the issue of “jobs” comes up in the campaign, try to ignore the B.S. and pay attention to see if any of the wonderkinds have specific proposals that stand a chance of being implemented. Look, specifically, for measurements. Ask yourself: How will we measure the success of what a particular candidate is proposing? Asking this exposes the fact that almost all of them are making it up on the fly. Most have no clue and even more don’t care.
WALK A MILE IN HER SHOES TRIVIALIZES A SERIOUS ISSUE AND EMBARRASSES JUST ABOUT EVERYONE INVOLVED
The other day, a bunch of men found themselves coerced by political correctness and walked-a-mile-in-her-shoes. This nonsense has become a now-annual mockery of the serious issue of domestic violence and rape, an event that is “overly light-hearted,” to use the apt phrase of one critic.
This guest post by Kelsey Wallace gets at this objection, which THE PLANET shares:
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The ever-wise Scout Finch tells us in To Kill a Mockingbird that, “Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.” While there is certainly truth in that statement, I don’t think Atticus Finch meant that in order to understand a person, you should literally obtain a pair of his or her shoes and then organize a walk-a-mile fundraiser that purports to empathize with their life experiences.
The organizers of the “Walk A Mile In Her Shoes” campaign took the quote a bit more literally. Founded in 2002, the campaign aims to raise awareness and money toward ending domestic violence against women by asking men to walk a mile wearing high heels. In the 2009 Walk A Mile calendar, men are shown in fraternity houses, on the basketball court, wearing police uniforms, and hanging out at the bowling alley wearing – wait for it – high heels! Guys are so crazy.
We thank our contributors for their input. THE PLANET’s free advice for the men next year is do it in flats.
“She is Queen Under the Hill / whose hosts are a disturbance of words within words / that is field folded.” — Robert Duncan, from “Often I am Permitted to Return to a Meadow.” (1960)
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.