HOW RAMPANT IS THEFT INSIDE CITY HALL AND IN CITY DEPARTMENTS? STORM CLOUDS GATHER … GRANT COMES WITH FINE PRINT, WHICH ‘THEY’ NEVER MENTION … plus … A PITTSFIELD POEM
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, DEC. 19, 2013) — “There’s no leadership. It’s a mess.”
That is the assessment of a city employee whose offices reside in city hall. This person occupies a key post that directly affects daily decision made by local government on behalf of citizens. This person was speaking of the lack of direction coming from the corner office. That office, in case you don’t know, is occupied by our Right Honorable Good Friend, Mayor Dan Bianchi.
Yesterday, we shared an observation, based on much evidence of circumstance. We observed the wheels falling off for the Bianchi Administration. How right we were. Yes?
THE PLANET is working on two stories that will illustrate the depths of Bianchi’s snooze at the wheel, a siesta that includes not responding to our fair and judicious questions. Both stories deal with theft, inside jobs involving at least two and likely more city departments, at least according to the charges. The first has already been reported, but inadequately. THE PLANET has additional details crucial to a full understanding. The second has been kept under wraps, and it’s one the city wants to go away. It won’t.
THE PLANET has inquiries into the mayor, the city’s director of administrative services, and elsewhere. We have as of yet heard nothing. We shall keep you posted.
CITY GRANT LEADS TO CREATION OF MORE BUREAUCRACY
When a city wins a state grant, it’s usually about as newsworthy as an abused pit bull biting the hand that tries to feel it. In fact, of the state’s four major cities (from east-to-west, Boston, Worcester, Springfield, and Pittsfield), it would be hard not to win these “free” dollars. The laugh, of course, is that when Beacon Hill sends a trickle back to the Berkshire booonies, it’s doing nothing more than giving us back some of the money it stole from us … er, we mean, procured from us through taxes … in the first place.
The second thing about grants: They are usually one-time deals. When the money runs out, the city adds the burden to local taxpayers. That’s how governments grow. They perpetuate this shell game of grants, which add to city payrolls, which add to taxpayers’ burdens when the funding runs out. Finally, in the following case, winning a $100,000 grant will lead to the creation of yet another administrative position. This one will bring down $50,000 plus bennies. Consequently, in less than two years, even if the granted program shuts down, taxpayers will have lost money. In all likelihood, however, the city will keep the position intact, because it means one more person who will pay homage to the mayor, to keep the “cush” (i.e., “unnecessary”) job — which translates into political loyalty and the securing of the grateful person’s vote, plus those of his or her family, friends, and loved ones. In this Era of Low Turnouts, that’s how the GOB steals election after election.
And so it comes to pass that THE PLANET shares this press release from Mary McGinnis, Pittsfield’s director of administrative services:
“Mayor Bianchi is pleased to announce that the City of Pittsfield has been awarded a competitive grant of $100,000.00 in FY2014 Senator Charles E. Shannon, Jr. Community Safety Initiative (Shannon CSI) funds to support the Gang Enforcement project. The Shannon CSI is intended to support regional and multi-disciplinary approaches to combat gang violence through coordinated programs for prevention, intervention, suppression, prosecution and reintegration. The official letter was delivered to the Mayor’s office on 12/12/13 from the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, Office of Grants and Research, Boston, MA.
“The funds will be earmarked for hiring a program coordinator, partnering with a range of social and intervention initiatives, and to support ongoing activities at the municipal community centers at public housing locations. One of the primary partners will be the Salvation Army, which coordinates the “Bridging the Gap” program. Also supporting the initiative will be the Pittsfield Police Department with their community outreach efforts. Many programs at the City of Pittsfield’s Community Centers located at 240 Francis Plaza and 253 Dower Square involve such support organizations like the United Way, Berkshire Health Systems “Accent on Health”, The Berkshire Humane Society, the Salvation Army, Youth Alive, Pittsfield Police Department’s “Coffee with a Cop” program and many more. A focus on literacy, building self-esteem, and public safety have been integrated in the activities at both centers.
“For more information call Mary McGinnis, Director of Administrative Services at Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi’s Office 413-499-9322.”
The very need for such services, of course, reflects the hastening breakdown of culture and society in the city. Don’t tell us that Pittsfield is not alone here and that other cities are struggling with this, too. We know that. Pittsfield does, however, take an excess of indigents, homeless, druggies, alcoholics, retarded, the soon-to-be incarcerated, the welfare cheats, and other assorted among The Gimme Groups. That’s the cost of such “free” grant money. The federal and state dollars comes with the catches. You’ll notice that nowhere in McGinnis’ press release will you find the fine print of what this will cost Pittsfield. Our guess is that we shall be taking on more of the refuse of other communities in the Bay State.
A PITTSFIELD POEM
Last night, following the final class meeting of PRof. Valenti’s Comp I class downtown at the intermodal, I walked to my car to the parking garage. There I saw on the ground some empty whisky nips, a discarded can of Redi-Whip, and a glob of frozen phlegm. From the garage’s stairway entrance, the odor of mothballs assaulted me in waves. The city routinely mothballs the stairway, which is used by the armies of the road as a latrine. In my fancy, I envisioned the “owners” of these derelict products, and, with apologies to Thomas Hardy, composed this poem:
A DECEMBER EVENING, DOWNTOWN PITTSFIELD
A snow-slicked sidewalk and a waving hand,
And the sound of a horn from a distant car:
On this scene enter — tipsy, out of it, and un-grand —
A drunkard, a doper, and a chap spitting up catarrh.
While, mid my stride, there idly sits
A sleepy bum holding a yellow jar.
Thus meet we five, in this still place,
At this point in time, at this point in space,
— My “guests” interrupt my steady pace.
They bang their heads and fall supine.
“God’s poorest, they!” I muse. Yet why?
They know Street Secrets that know not I.
“You tell lies thinking I can’t see. You won’t cry ’cause you’re laughing at me. I’m down.” — Lennon and McCartney, “I’m Down,” 1965.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.