PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, NOV. 14, 2013) — RIDDLE: Why did the high school kid cross the road? ANSWER: To piss off as many motorists as possible.

This update to the old chicken crack prompts a question for Mayor Dan Bianchi, the principal of Pittsfield High School, and the Pittsfield School Committee: How bloody difficult is it to get high school kids to cross East Street properly? This being Pittsfield, and politics being what they are there, the answer is: “More difficult than coming up with a universally acceptable Unified Field Theory.”

What is a simple problem with an easy, direct response becomes a Gordian knot that requires massive study, a Page 1 story in The Boring Broadsheet in the guise of hard news, much self-righteous deliberation, and, Thor help us, a “committee.”

By all evidence, anecdotal and factual, its apparent that students have become more reckless, more daring, more “in your face,” and more “I dare you to hit me” when crossing in front of PHS compared to years past. You see, the Little Jaywalking Darlins’ aren’t used to being told “no.”  The most effective solution, of course, is to …

… hit them. Yes. Run ’em over. Mow ’em down. A few broken bones and some nicely colored splats with the East Street pavement will prove to be a most persuasive convincer. In the name of Henry Ford, of this THE PLANET is sure.

The city should award tax rebates for any motorists driving east or west on East Street that successfully bags a crossing, jaywalking student — $500 for each student injured, $1,000 for each student sent to meet his or her maker. After the first several injuries and deaths, the problem will be solved — permanently.

Assuming the Pittsfield School Department and PSC do not want to accept this reasonable, modest proposal, the next best approach would be to put the burden on the Matthew Bishop, PHS principal. Why should it be the city’s responsibility to make sure Bishop is doing his job, as Bianchi has suggested? Bianchi wants to form a commission, study it to death, and then perhaps erect Berlin Wall barricades to force pedestrians to use the crosswalks, the way the plastic guards force a silver pinball to obediently go up the shoot after the hammer is pulled and let go. No word from Hizzoner on how much this approach would cost Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski, not that the price will cause the mayor to lose any sleep. With tax-‘n’-spenders, it never does. Tax dollars aren’t your money but their money.

The school committee, including member Bianchi, needs to let Bishop know that the PHS crossing problem is his problem, and his response to it will determine his future employment and salary. Bishop is the principal there. The principal owns the building. Bishop must step up to the plate and own this problem. Here’s the five-point approach that will work:

(1) Immediately suspend the “open campus” policy, since it is responsible for many, if not most, of the jaywalking problems. Require students to eat lunch in the cafeteria. That’s why PHS makes that large eatery available, so students can show down on the gourmet delicacies to be had there or in their own brown bags. With far less students presently at PHS than in the 50s and 60s, when the closed campus worked fine, this will present no great hardship on kids.

(2) When school lets out, PHS staff should heavily chaperone and monitor egress from the building.

(3) All jaywalkers will be immediately notified of their transgressions. Students get a warning on first offense, a suspension on second, and an “expel” order on third. Another form of penalty might be a demerit system that costs students academic credit for violations.

(4) Call a school-wide assembly to explain the new procedures. Let the children know that the administration isn’t fooling around any more on this situation. Put the onus on students to cross the streets in a mature and responsible way.

(5) Do not, do not, form a “committee” or a “commission” to study this. The Three Bs, — Bianchi, Bishop, and school committee president Alf Barbalunga — need to stop hand wringing and gnashing teeth. They need to ACT like the adults in this situation.

If you wish to contact the Three Bs to let them know directly of your solutions to this “problem,” the addresses are:






You’ll be pleased to note that the mayor, as both CEO of the city and ex-officio school committee member, continues to work tirelessly to solve the myriad of problems bearing down on bedraggled taxpayers. From the minutes of the Oct. 23, 2013, school committee minutes:

One of Mayor Bianchi’s rapt audiences.

“Mayor Bianchi commented on some of the events he attended, such as the Taconic/BCC launch of the new 21st Century equipment [ED NOTE: Uh, the “21st Century” is not that new; it’s already almost 14 years old], Egremont’s Bio-Blitz … and the event at PHS with Governor Patrick …Mayor Bianchi said he was at Egremont School[,] where he spoke to the 5th graders on government and getting them somewhat prepared for the debate next week.”

It’s great that the mayor did all this, but wouldn’t it have been better if he spoke not just to 5th graders but to the electorate, taxpayers, and citizens “on government.” Or short of that, how about responding to this writer’s requests for a live, sit-down, TV interview? Bianchi loves talking to 5th graders, but he continues to duck out on his responsibility to address citizens or make himself available to the only media outlet that would dare ask him honest questions.

Simple, folks.



THE PLANET has been in contact with State Sen. Ben Downing, who told us that the problem of finding shelter for the homeless this winter is closer to a solution.

“The mayor’s office convened a meeting yesterday afternoon [Friday, Nov. 8],” Downing told THE PLANET. “[Attending were] the current shelter providers, faith community, public safety and building inspectors, among others, including Rep. Farley-Bouvier was there and me, albeit 30 mins late because of a previous commitment. [There was] lots of talk about what we should have, how to avoid the problem, and what the size of the actual problem is. Long and short, it looks like Barton’s Crossing (run by Service Net and represented locally by Jay Sachetti) is going to budget out expanding their staffing to acomodate 10 more beds. ‘Overflow’ situations seem like they will be handled by temporary shelters at Soldier On and the churches. However, this did not seem 100% resolved yet.”
Downing said he expects that there will be at least one more such meeting.
“Take your love to the highest peak, and you will find I am who you seek.” — Mick Valenti, “Signs”



  1. Giacometti
    November 14, 2013 at 5:34 am #

    Food Trucks…bring food to the students…all kinds of greasy slop ” for the children ” should solve the problem…the kids have to stay on campus but can purchase good fast food from those
    food truck vendors that Pam Tobin ( Downtown Pittsfield. Inc. )
    wants to get off North Street so that the eateries there can survive
    The food truck vendors will love the idea and thus there will be no
    J-walkers at lunch time. As for after school…that’s a problem for the Principal who is making the big bucks and deserves the full responsibility.

    • Russell Moody
      November 15, 2013 at 6:54 am #

      There is a “no compete clause” in the Pittsfield Public Schools when it comes to alternatives to the cafeterias. Because Taconic is a ‘closed campus’ and many students violate the rule by leaving campus in their cars, it was suggested that a food truck might help that situation. Nope… no can do.

      • Tim
        November 16, 2013 at 7:22 am #

        A truck parked on east st or valentine rd counts as on campus? That logic reinforces the jaywalking problem, they arent on our street, we are driving on their campus

      • danvalenti
        November 17, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

        No can do, RUSS. The solution is simple and effective: No “open campus,” and all means in the cafeteria. Period.

    • danvalenti
      November 17, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

      Yup. It’s the principal problem. The School Committee should (it won’t, of course) hold his feets to da fahr.

  2. Roman Knows
    November 14, 2013 at 6:59 am #

    Correction: Roman Knows

  3. anne white
    November 14, 2013 at 7:02 am #

    Totally agree with your PHS solution ( 2nd not first LOL)

    Your right I would take offcampus lunch for a week and if they want the privledge again learn how to use a cross walk. I would go with detention not suspension for jay walkers after or before school. Maybe during detention they could go out and show them how to cross appropriatley.

    Honestly a study is just stupid! They are kids who are being defiant beter to teach them what happens when you break the rules

    • danvalenti
      November 17, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

      Thanks, Anne.

  4. Roman Knows
    November 14, 2013 at 8:30 am #

    I tried to submit this earlier and I think I did something wrong so I will try again.

    Ah the “Fifties” when PHS had a much larger student body , three lunch periods, No one left the school grounds without a pass, and the Principal ran the school.

    When the students gathered in the Auditorium for an Assembly the room would be filled with the noise of chattering students. When Roy M Strout, the Principal, was spotted entering the room chattering stopped. If someone kept talking he or she got a poke from the student next to them. Mr Strout was the PHS Principal from 1921-1955. He ran the school reporting to the School Department without the help of “Study Committees”. He was the Adult and the Students were better off for it.

  5. Teecha teecha
    November 14, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    There is nothing better than cold hard truth . If the kids want to be stupid enough to lurch out in front of cars, let them get hit. Nothing like a concussion and a lifelong leg injury to get the clue. I’m talking permanent disablement .

    Principal bishop, while a good guy, is not running that school. He should have stayed as a history teacher. Then again, if he took the kids rights to leave campus away, that’s right I said RIGHTS (laugh if you will they consider the, so ) the parents will cause a fit. Cause they are degenerates just like their kids.

    • Tim
      November 16, 2013 at 7:25 am #

      Some kids have the attitude of “if this happens, i can live off disability and never have to work.” Some kids.

    • danvalenti
      November 17, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

      TEECHA knows.

  6. Magic
    November 14, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    1961 we had lunch in the cafeteria (huge, huge, classes back then) double sessions after I graduated and still had lunch in the cafeteria. This off campus is a privilege for these kids that none of them appreciate. We don’t need a study, we need parents that make the kids do what is right and help the principal enforce the rules. How is it that the students and parents don’t have to answer to anyone

  7. anne white
    November 14, 2013 at 11:56 am #

    Just another thought….How many parents have been notified that their child is one of the problem.

    I am sure very few. Parents cant expected to know what is going on if they are not notified. I bet the school will say they have bigger problems to deal with (which I am sure is true) But you would be surprised how many parents would react if they were just notified that little Johnny is the one

  8. dusty
    November 14, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    What these kids do understand is incentives. How about if a kid looks both ways and crosses according to the rules of safety he or she gets a joint when he gets safely across.

    Problem solved

    November 14, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

    These arrogant little punks need some good old time discipline. It would appear the parents could use some also.

    • danvalenti
      November 17, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

      “Arrogant little punks.” I can’t find anything with which to disagree with this appellation.

  10. Billy
    November 14, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

    Dan I’m going to make some predictions .

    1). Due to not getting are school budget and pension liability under control The budget will skyrocket .

    2) the continued exodus of students. From our school system will continue. Depleting the money per student going to another school district. I believeWe’ve lost enough students to fill more than a elementary school. I think. Lenox. Is going to be the big winner cause they are evaluating What they can consolidate Because they see Things are unsustainable on their present course.

    3) the city. Might build a new school. But like Taconic will be unable to maintain it, due to a over stuffed pension system . We are writing checks we don’t have the money for. The city buildings will suffer due to lack of funds ex. The Mc Kay st garage repair. I see that the new High school will look like Taconic in less than a decade due to a inability to get proper funding.

    4) We will be unable to get any tenant in Stanely Buisness Park due to the fact we lack a easy access to the mass pike. Compared to our neighbors.

    • danvalenti
      November 17, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

      1. It will. Everyone will claim it’s for “The Children.” Taxpayers? Tough.
      2. Yes. Pittsfield lost $3 million last year. More this year.
      3. Pensions and OPEB’s, unless renegotiated, will bankrupt the city.
      4. No tenants? No problem. The “directors” there are getting their big bux.

  11. Dave
    November 14, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

    How many kids have been hit on East St in the last 10 years? None that I know of. Is this a problem we really need to spend that much time on? Yes, it’s a nuisance for 10 minutes at a time, 3 times a day! Big f@@ing deal! Maybe some of these students have waited at one of our crosswalks that cars are supposed to stop at while a dozen cars ignored the sign. Maybe they waited for the cross signal and watched as a car ran the red light. Maybe they walked right out into traffic and were never spoken to by what should be the only thing needed- the taxpayer funded resource officer that is too busy trying to be friends with the student body than doing his job. This is one of those non-issues that wastes time that should be spent on more important issues.

  12. Sue
    November 14, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

    Here is a non-hater solution. Pedestrian bridge.

  13. Clancy
    November 15, 2013 at 4:45 am #

    Dave, I completely agree with you. It’s not that big a deal. I personally enjoy seeing all the kids scrambling to grab a bite to eat, then heading back to the dreaded classroom. I never have a problem with rude kids when I drive thru the elm/east St intersection. They’re all pretty responsible for the most part. As for Russ quetti. He’s useless.

  14. Ed Shepardson
    November 15, 2013 at 7:44 am #

    Funny. I just saw the Mayor jaywalking on North Street.

    • danvalenti
      November 17, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

      He’s not homeless, is he?

  15. dusty
    November 15, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

    It almost seems like if the city gets any kind of issue or problem it tries to twist it into a way to spend money. Maybe if we could track this money it would answer a whole lot of questions about how city govt really works and why the taxes have to keep escalating every year.

    Kids have been crossing streets in this country for, oh, I’ll bet 10 or more years now or maybe it even goes back as far as the day streets were invented. But I am sure it comes as no surprise to anyone who has lived in Pittsfield Mass for any length of time that we now have to study how to get these kids safely to the other side.

    Maybe next month we can study how to get them to tie their shoe laces. And it is probably a good thing we will start having four year mayors because these things obviously will not be solved overnight. Way too complicated.

    Out by the Colonial theater they gots themselves one of those yellow blinking lights with a push button and everything. Probably cost 10 grand with all the kickbacks. Maybe they could start with one of those.

  16. chuck garivaltis
    November 15, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

    Your headline: PHS Jaywalking: A Simple Solution That Bianchi, Bishop and The School Dept. Have Turned Into The Gordian Knot…Planet Presents A Simple Solution. There’s a few people who will get this – I hope.. Certainly Bill from the Eagle, John, Chris, Melissa, and Barry from the Council. I’m sure these folks know who and by what method the answer was found. I hope a few of our educators are familiar with the puzzle.The rest will have to scurry to an encyclopaedia. Here’s the point Dan Valenti seems to get most of the time. The most complex problems usually have a simple solution. The Gordian Knot is a solution from antiquity that applies today. We don’t need consultants for tens of thousands of dollars or committees of ten plus people to tell us what is best for our community. Common sense and input from community minded residents will usually point us in the right direction.

    • joetaxpayer
      November 16, 2013 at 9:54 am #

      Chuck, you hit the nail on the head! Common sense is not one of Pittsfield’s strong suits. God bless us all.

    • danvalenti
      November 17, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

      CHUCK, with his characteristic supply of wisdom. One of the city’s GREATS!

  17. Tim
    November 16, 2013 at 7:27 am #

    Isnt this also the job of the police to ticket jaywalkers?

    • Dave
      November 16, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

      The Gordian Knot in their undershorts prevents them from moving fast enough to catch the offenders!

    • danvalenti
      November 17, 2013 at 8:52 pm #


  18. Mad Trapper
    November 17, 2013 at 10:56 am #

    What ever happened to after-school detention for miscreants?

    Do they still do that or just let the feral youth run wild?

    • danvalenti
      November 17, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

      No. PArents would sue the city for “cruel and unusual.” Look, it’s time for Bianchi, McCandless, and the School Committee to get on top of the situation. Clamp down. Act as ADULTS.

  19. Foxy Lady
    November 17, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

    Mr Chuck Garivaltis I agree with everything you have said. I remember your service as a city councilor a school board member (I think) a parks commissioner and just someone who honestly cared about this city, and still does. I am so thankful for people like you.

    • chuck garivaltis
      November 17, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

      Hi Foxy, Thanks for your kind words. Yes, there was a school board term in the early 80’s. Good things happened then that were contentious. A breakfast program was initiated that to the present day helps kids to learn (hungray kids don’t learn) and certainly keeps youngsters healthy.

    • danvalenti
      November 17, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

      Well expressed. Chuck Garivaltis, beside being the Greatest Hitter Pittsfield baseball ever produced, has been one of the city’s greatest products.