PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, FEB. 27, 2014) — Time for another round of Qwik Hitz and Hot Lix, our variety show of disparate items related in odd ways that together offer determined though feeble responses to the age-old question, “What’s the Use?” The assortment of potpourri comes courtesy of life itself, which, after one cultivates the art of seeing, almost always outdoes fiction.

Drowning or Just All Wet? — Each time we go there, the city of Pittsfield’s website provides an inadvertent aqua-blue laugh. As the page loads, the wallpaper photograph of Pontoosuc Lake fills in first. This has the effect of placing the other pictures, including the PHS Dome, under water. THE PLANET finds this more than an apt metaphor for what’s been happening and not happening under the ineffectual reign of Mayor Dan Bianchi. Will the drought continue? We wonder.

Consultants ‘R Us — After the Suits paid a consultant tens of thousands of dollars to essentially lift the city of Northampton’s charter and call it Pittsfield’s, they determined that the new document had to be reconciled with city code. They knew it all along, but, this being Pittsfield, they didn’t tell you that they would be looking to go outside to get the work done. They implied and maybe stated outright that the city could handle the work in house. Now there’s an effort to farm this out to a consultant. Mayor Bianchi opposed this move, saying city solicitor Kathy Degnan and the five-person committee — appointed for that very purpose by our Right Honorable Good Friends on the city council — could handle the work. City clerk Linda Tyer and coucilor Barry Clairmont, both members of the review committee, want to farm it out. Tyer says it would cost up to $14,000. THE PLANET stands with the mayor on this one. Degnan said her work load will permit her to do the necessary research. Keep it in house.

Snow Job — THE PLANET is pleased that the mayor pay such close attention to our musings. After we put the spotlight on the terrible condition of sidewalks and snow-bound curbs in the downtown, a vigorous discussion ensued. It spilled over the Facebook. The corner office took some heat in the form of angry phone calls and e-mails, and, not long after, the put put out a press release regarding snow removal. He advised citizens of their responsibilities to clear sidewalks. No mention, though, of the terrible job the city has done this winter, violating its own rules.

Red-Headed Stranger — Where, oh where, is the Heap Bug Red Magic Pothole Machine? Taxpayers shelled out a quarter of a million for it, and it has about as much use as a screen door on a sub.   Rumor has it that there are three of these monstrosities in the city, at least that’s what Jonathan Lothrop said when we did a TV show with him a few weeks ago. When did the city get three? Where are they stored? Are they just gathering rust? Have they been installed on the back acres at BCC as modern sculpture? Who knows?

Pittsfield’s Future Like MoTown? — If you missed it, the bankrupt city of Detroit recently presented its recovery plan. The city got in trouble primarily because of an accumulation of bad contracts it negotiated over the years with its public employee unions. The benefits packages became too much to sustain, and the gravy train jumps the tracks. Motown’s plan include a 30% reduction in its pension obligations. The rest of its creditors and bondholders can expect 20 cents on the dollar, if they’re lucky. THE PLANET has written extensively on the building up of a massive (and similar) set of obligations the city of Pittsfield has incurred in the form of salaries, pensions, and other employment and post-employment benefits, especially with its Big Three unions — teachers, police, and fire. The obligation is in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Those fees will be coming due before you know it. An aging workforce, early retirement, and other factors will at some point push the city to the brink. If it doesn’t begin acting quickly, it will be heading Motown’s way over the financial cliff.

Wimpball — THE PLANET doesn’t like baseball’s new rule on home-plate collisions. During this season, it will be implementing the rule on an experimental basis, with the intent to install it fully in 2015. The rule tries to fine tune what a baserunner and catcher can and can’t do on a play at the plate. It will require umpires to make snap judgments in which the arbiter will have determine intent — Did the runner deliberately initiate illegal contact? Did the catcher? This rule is both an over-reaction and a blow against tradition. The “brains” guiding MLB essentially wish to water-down the play at the plate, one of the most exciting in baseball. It’s part of a disturbing trend in the politically correct social engineering of sports, a zealous attempt to keep us “safe from ourselves.” A person who plays a contact sport does it of their free will. In football, baseball, hockey, basketball, lacrosse, and others, body contact is not just incidental but plays a part in the strategy of play. America has turned into the Land of Wimps.

The Mystery of Stonehenge — You probably missed this or, if you caught it, the significance hasn’t hit. It will. At Tuesday’s city council meeting, the omnipresent Terry Kinnas spoke of a real-estate transaction taking place on Stonehenge Drive in Pittsfield. THE PLANET has done some initial investigating, and it appears that a residential group home is being planned at 71 Stonehenge. We’re certain residents of the avenue, certainly one of the city’s better addresses, know nothing about it. They will soon know a whole lot more. We don’t think they’re going to be pleased with what they find out. In monied neighborhoods like that, the last thing residents want is a group home.


“All is changed with time. The future none can see. Road road, we leave behind. Ahead lies mystery.”Stevie Wonder, “All if Fair in Love,” from the album “Innervisions,” (1974).




  1. Still wondering
    February 27, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    I’ve never seen the pot-hole fixing machine actually being used. Not once in all these years since it was purchased.

  2. GMHeller
    February 27, 2014 at 11:10 am #

    Mr. Valenti,

    In re the Group Home planned for Stonehenge Drive in Pittsfield.
    It would pay for everyone within a half-mile of that proposed group home to Google the words: GROUP HOME ATTACK; GROUP HOME MURDER; GROUP HOME ASSAULT, etc..

    The number of news articles nationwide reporting violent incidents at group homes including vicious attacks on neighbors illustrates to what degree there is an epidemic of violence nationwide involving residents of these group homes.
    Placing a group home into a quiet family-oriented neighborhood guarantees that there will be violence at some future time.
    Remember too, that a group home in a neighborhood also guarantees that the ‘guests’ will get visits from their friends on a 24/7 basis.
    A Group Home is a residence of last resort, intended for those who cannot find a place to live with a private landlord or private institution. This would include ‘ex’-drug addicts, ‘ex’-sex offenders, persons who’ve had interaction with the criminal justice system, etc..
    Private landlords and institutions cannot afford the insurance liability coverage to offer residency to these people.
    If the city or state or municipality is trying to place a Group Home in your neighborhood, fight it, because otherwise you, your family, and your kids are definitely in danger.
    This is no joke!

    P.S. The way a lot of municipalities are trying to sneak these Group Homes into neighborhoods is to say that the only guests will be the elderly and aging and the poor.
    Once the Group Home opens, though, the state and municipality can put anyone in there whom they want and that does includes ‘ex’-sex-offenders.
    The federal government’s anti-discrimination statutes mean that anyone is allowed to live in a group home no matter what that person’s earlier crimes were.

    Additional Note: Property values drop dramatically in neighborhoods when a Group Homes goes in.

    Also: Are there any group homes planned for Gov. Duval Patrick’s Richmond neighborhood, Mayor Dan Valenti’s neighborhood, Smitty Pignatelli’s neighborhood, etc.?

    • Scott
      February 27, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

      Heller I’m shocked you would give into hysteria group homes don’t kill people, people kill people! I’ve had one in my neighborhood and no one has been attacked or murdered, yet…

      The new baseball rule is “gay” you know like the parents won’t let you take the car on a Fri night type gay. Of course if you’re in Pittsfield it seems mom and dad allow you to take the Volvo or Mercedes out apparently after reinforcing the conditioning that leaving the scene of an accident is far less of a crime as opposed to say DUI just to give an example.

  3. joetaxpayer
    February 27, 2014 at 11:43 am #

    Of course 71 Stonehenge was purchased by CIL Realty Inc. a non profit. There’s $350.000 off the tax rolls. We need that like we need another magic pothole machine.

  4. Deb S
    February 27, 2014 at 11:51 am #

    I had one on my small street and I can tell you first hand that I had no problems with the residents but I had a big problem with the staff!!

  5. Rafael
    February 27, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

    Has anyone seen these pot hole machines in action anywhere at all? I have not, but I don’t drive around Pittsfield that much. Just curious if they’ve actually been used.

    • Tom Sakshaug
      February 27, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

      I saw one being towed just a couple days ago. The problem with using the machines now is that city trucks are set up for plowing and sanding. You can’t convert them over to pothole use as quickly as you might think, and if too many are converted, there will be a big storm for sure. And the bitching about slow plowing/sanding will commence.
      Also, filling potholes in subfreezing weather, especially if there is ice in the hole, is a waste of time, money, and effort. The hole needs to be clean and dry for a patch to stick.
      As always, we need to be patient right now. No repair done now will last.
      Finally, Big Red was purchased because the two smaller machines were too slow. I believe the current system is to cook up the polymer/asphalt mix in Big Red and transfer it to the smaller machines and to truck beds (without sanding equipment on board) for distribution. Once the weather warms, the holes can be repaired rapidly.

  6. Rafael
    February 27, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

    I just checked Stonehenge Rd. on Google maps. That is a very nice neighborhood. I feel sorry for the residents on that street. Most of us work very hard our whole lives to buy and own a home in a nice neighborhood, for us and our children to grow up in, and then the gov’t swoops down with their middle finger pointed right at us.

  7. Scott
    February 27, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

    Yes ways another race or group of people bringing whitey down along with his property value.

  8. joetaxpayer
    February 27, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

    I don’t think anyone has a problem with the clients of the group home. But do have a problem with someone putting a 24/7 business in a residential neighborhood.

    • GMHeller
      February 27, 2014 at 4:25 pm #

      Follow the Money! Not only does the builder of the Group Home make out like a bandit constructing the place (all handicapped accessible which adds boku dollars to the cost of the project), but then there are all those services attached to the residence operation.
      Psychiatric rehabilitation services, for example, depending on the number of people in the group home and their psych problems can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars annually (if not more than a million per Group Home).
      Add to that the service and maintenance attached to the Group Home. Some homes provide ‘clients’ with meals, laundry services, meds, all paid for by the taxpayer and all going to whomever gets the contract to provide those services.
      And don’t forget 24/7 security.
      Group Homes are big business and that’s why local politicians are keyed to find any locations they can for these outlets in which to place the so-called de-institutionalized people.
      To the politicians then go the spoils in the form of campaign contributions from the vendors who are lucky enough to win the contracts to provide all these Group Home services.
      Follow the Money!

    • Scott
      February 28, 2014 at 3:56 am #


  9. #nomorebianchi
    February 27, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

    I drive around Pittsfield for my job and a few weeks ago i did see the pothole machine in action on Onota St. I also saw it on Elm street last week… As someone who drive for a living I go on atleast every street in the city atleast once a week and I can tell you first hand that some of these roads will need more work than just filling potholes. Roads like Pinegrove Dr and Maplegrove Dr need to be completely re paved..Leona Dr is also in very bad shape, There are others for sure.. But take a ride over to Mayor Bianch’s neighborhood and look at how nice his new paved roads are?

  10. Jamie
    February 27, 2014 at 7:07 pm #

    I live in Ward 4 (not on Stonehendge but close)and this is the first I heard of this. This is an alarming development. A fine property off the tax roles. Depreciation of the value of the neighborhood.

    Plenty of other places to put a group home? Where was my councilor Chris Connell on this one? Why weren’t we told?

  11. outfox
    February 27, 2014 at 9:03 pm #

    Melville St. is almost one big pothole now. And the sidewalk on Elizabeth St. across from Plaine’s going up the hill is shamefully unshovelled. I saw a poor grade school student picking her way down that icy slope towards the lights the other morning, doing the best imitation of a timid mountain goat, poor kid. Redfield House is right up the street from there—they should make some noise! I live in that neighborhood, and I’d say Redfield is like a huge group home in a way, and no problems at all in the neighborhood—at least not from Redfield.

    • Scott
      February 28, 2014 at 3:54 am #

      You have to understand that the class of people on Elizabeth are below the class of people on Stonehenge well at least that’s how some see it.

      • joetaxpayer
        February 28, 2014 at 5:10 am #

        Elizabeth St. is zoned for multi-family homes with close proximity to downtown. Stonehenge is neither.

        • Scott
          February 28, 2014 at 7:48 am #

          So if I had the money to invest and bought a property on Stonehenge are you saying I would have to get permission to turn it into a two family home where maybe I rent one side and live in the other or possibly rent out both sides? I doubt other than stigmas anyone has a solid argument to stop this but you know money talks but you’re not suggesting the people of Pittsfield would discriminate against mentally handicapped people or those dependent on substances? Remember who leads our legal team this could go two ways. I think it’s nice people with a handicap will have the opportunity to live in that area they deserve it just as much as anyone else on the street.

          • joetaxpayer
            February 28, 2014 at 8:47 am #

            Scott I believe you would have to get “permission”. Not positive on that though. But this is going to be a little more than a 2 family building. This Is a 24/7 business and they will need permits to expand the home. With so many vacant lots in Pittsfield don’t understand why that one?

  12. Billy
    February 28, 2014 at 6:38 am #


  13. Billy
    February 28, 2014 at 6:54 am #

    There is a story in today. Eagle about the city school budget being 2 million in the red.Dan please investigate further cause one number jumped out in the article! 1.3 million dollars. I believe that’s the number C. Yon and K. Sherman and I believe B. Clairmont Had fought against using one time stimulus money of 1.3million. Arguing it would become a reoccurring expense that would become a major financial issue later on. Dan is this that prediction coming to pass. As predicted?

  14. Ron Kitterman
    February 28, 2014 at 11:09 am #

    Gee Mark you know how it works, your Dad was in the game for years, and now your wife is. Politics is a dirty scummy world enjoy the time with your family no matter where you are and don’t let someone you don’t even know get under your skin, just my advice take it for what it’s worth. You know how it works, they will use till they don’t need you anymore, just the way it works my friend.