!!PLANET EXCLUSIVE!! MOYNIHAN WILL RETURN TO PHS BASEBALL HELM … MUIR VERDICT A VICTORY FOR JUSTICE AND VALIDATION OF THE SYSTEM … RAIL CARS PACT PASSES GO BUT WON’T COLLECT $850MM … plus …CITY BLOWS IT (AGAIN), THIS TIME OF ROAD TREATMENT …
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, JAN. 30, 2014) — THE PLANET can be the first to tell you that PHS baseball coach Bobby Moynihan will be getting his job back. The community outreach, spearheaded by this website, has convinced the appointing authorities that rehiring Moynihan not only makes sense on the baseball diamond but also politically. If Moynihan had been dismissed, there would have been a near riot. Neither the school department administration, the school committee, nor the PHS principal wanted to deal with that.
THE PLANET has learned that during the executive session held last night by a subcommittee of the school board, Moynihan withdrew his grievance in express condition that he would get his coaching job back. That should end the matter, with no vote necessary by the school committee.
All that’s needed to get Moynihan back in the dugout is for PHS Matt Bishop to approve a new pact and for Supt. Jake McCandless to give the papal blessing.
Trust us: All will happen. They have an offer they can’t refuse.
MUIR VERDICT IS A WIN FOR THE SYSTEM
THE PLANET is heartened by the “not guilty” verdict in the trial of Scott Muir, the Stockbridge man who faced 19 counts of sexual assault in connection with his job at the Stockbridge Plain School from 2003 to 2006. We say this not to express any opinion, up or down, on Muir’s innocence or guilt. Rather, we mean to point to the system finding in a way not swayed by emotion. The verdict appears to have been one reached on the weighing of the evidence. Simply put, the jury found there was not enough evidence to convict.
The jury acquitted Muir on all counts after deliberating yesterday for a little more than an hour and a half. The criminal justice system worked as it should. It weighed the evidence presented by advocates for both the prosecution (atty. Joe Yorlono) and the defense (atty. William Rota), and a “jury of his peers” weighed the evidence in an impartial and objective manner — not easy to do when young women come forward with emotional claims. The jury was able to see through what it found to be the inconsistencies and improbabilities in the stories of the five accusers, who, outside of their own statements, had to back up their statements.
The jury system is imperfect. There is never a way in a case like this to decide the truth with certainty. That’s why our legal system has a great qualifier of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The jury found reasonable doubt here, and Muir is now free. The law has determined he was falsely accused. The accusers are free to pursue their complaints in civil court. Before doing so, they should ask themselves in the naked light of raw honesty, where is the truth?
RAIL CARS PROPOSAL PASSES ‘GO’ BUT WON’T BE COLLECTING $850 MILLION
At a meeting at Berkshire Community College hosted by the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce Tuesday morning, PEDA, 1 Berkshire, the Chamber, and other interested parties gathered to “discuss” PEDA’s plans to issue a proposal to the state MBTA for an $850 million contract to build new rail cars.
Actually, we had to place “discuss” in quotes. It is a non-literal use. Discussion implies frank give-and-take, complete with devil’s advocates asking tough questions. That didn’t happen. A lot of cheerleading did happen, though. With $1 million of taxpayer money on the line, would it have been asking too much for more debate?
THE PLANET isn’t sure about the purpose of the meeting. If this was a serious strategy session, God help us. All that our spies saw was another “rah-rah” effort long on cotton candy and short on substance. The one jaw-dropping tidbit from the session came from Pittsfield state rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, who said that Berkshire County sends $30 million in taxes to Boston in support of the MBTA. If the local yokels are thinking of using that as leverage to convince Boston to send the contract here, forget it. That’s not how the game works. For political purposes, Boston governs as if the state ends at the western border of the city of Worcester.
Meanwhile, the office of one of the connected parties involved with the pact proposal — and we can’t say which one, except to identify it as a public office and one that knows the Hub landscape intimately — tells THE PLANET that its hearing from its connections in Boston that Pittsfield “doesn’t have a chance” of landing the MBTA contract. The reasons? In random order, Pittsfield’s reputation for parochialism, the city’s provincially poison politics, an unfriendly business climate, its distance from Boston, and its lack of political significance to Beacon Hill. Our source predicts the contract going to a firm decidedly east of I-495.
THE PLANET says this now: Pittsfield has no chance of landing this contract.
PITTSFIELD TURNS INTO ‘SALT CITY’ IN WINTER’S WAKE; POTHOLES TURN INTO CAVERNS
After The Beatles released the Sgt. Pepper album, we found out that they “know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall.” Still unknown, however, all these years later is how much ready-mix it will take to fix all the potholes plaguing the streets of Pittsfield. How many Big Red Magic Pothole Machines will Pittsfield have to burn out to get the streets back to passable?
Pothole season usually doesn’t happen this soon, so how come the city’s streets are resembling a war-torn traverse in Syria? Pothole damage will be setting a record this year, judging by how many people who’ve told THE PLANET they’ve been “gotcha’d” on Pittsfield’s moonscape streets. Of course, potholes have to be expected to some extent. Water seeps through cracks in asphalt, expands in cold, then shrinks when it thaws. The result? Potholes. You can sense a “however” coming, can’t you?
… Add the corrosion of salt to the mix (the cheapest grade you can get) as Pittsfield has done in record amounts, and you have potholes graduating from spacious to cavernous.
Pittsfield dumped Pittsfield Sand and Gravel for its sand and salt this year, going with a low bidder out of Vermont. The bidder initially delivered a product that had to be rejected because it didn’t meet spec, and the city had to scramble to meet the its road needs for the winter. Could this be a factor in why there are so many potholes, so early, and of such giant size?
A former DPW worker who says he “keeps in touch with the guys” weighs in with a decided “yes.” He says the “rogue mix” includes straight sodium chloride (the cheap stuff) and sand. Without an emulsifier, the salt will definitely exacerbate pothole formation, he says. He then pointed south, to our neck of the woods. Stockbridge buys road-treatment mix that includes a lower salt-content modified by molasses. It not only smells good enough to eat, it keeps the roads in good shape without a lot of damage.
The road salt in Pittsfield is eating up the roads, literally, by breaking down concrete and asphalt. The salt displays a similarly ravenous appetite for metal, which it satiates by eating road vehicles and munching on infrastructure such as bridges and rebars. This salt will kill vegetation, kill wildlife, and contaminate ground water and soil.
The ultimate cost to taxpayers will be astronomical compared to the cost if the city had procured the more-benign molasses mix. It would cost more in the short run to buy the good stuff up front, but this would pay for itself and then some over the cost of a winter. When you calculate the ancillary damage done by the ruinous type of road treatment Pittsfield uses, the molasses mix would pay for itself many times over.
Ah, but that would require strategic thinking and good management. These two commodities have gone missing in Pittsfield, if you haven’t noticed, and can only be found on the side of milk cartons.
“I cannot see her, since the mist’s pale scraf / Obscures the dark wood and the dull orange sky; / But she’s waiting, I know, impatient and cold, half / Sobs struggling into her frosty sigh.” — D. H. Lawrence, stanza 2, “A Winter’s Tale.”
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.