QWIK HITZ & HOT LIX: SOCHI’s ‘HALFPIPE HALFWITS’ … MORE ON HALL TRIAL … ARE TAXPAYERS BEING ‘RAILROADED?’ … IS CORNER OFFICE TO BLAME FOR TWO PEDESTRIAN DEATHS? … ‘HOTEL WARS,” PITTSFIELD STYLE … plus … PROM THEFT ‘CLUE’
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, FEB. 14, 2014) — Happy Valentine’s Day from THE PLANET. Remember, you can’t spell “Valentine” without “Valenti.”
We at THE PLANET have spent snow time cleaning out files and spider webs at the FORTRESS. This healthy activity left us with another does of a popular round-up feature we call QWIK HITZ & HOT LIX.
Halfpipe Halfwits — Snowboarding is an Olympic sport only in the sense that synchronized swimming is one. Or curling. Don’t get us started on curling. That they give medals for such pseudo-sports stands as perfunctory paperwork, a desperate attempt to “jazz up” a once-rousing athletic congregation that has degenerated into mere nationalism, Olympic Games for fans of “The Walking Dead.” The “Halfpipe Halfwits,” for example, have been complaining about the condition of Sochi halfpipe. It’s unsafe. It’s too dangerous. It’s this. It’s that. THE PLANET can only laugh at these young’ns, the Americans mostly, who apparently don’t realize how foolish and soiled they look. Uh, we thought their sport was supposed to be dangerous and edgy.
No One on Trial Except Hall — In THE PLANET’s commentary on the Adam Hall guilty verdict, we noted the nature of the deliberations. On the fifth day of deliberations, the jury came back deadlocked. The judge told the jury to go back and deliberate some more. Less than an hour later, the jury came back with guilty verdicts on 15 of the 19 counts, including first-degree murder. To question the nature of this verdict is not to “put the jury on trial,” as some critics feverishly put it. THE PLANET merely asked a question other media were afraid to ask: Did the rapid re-deliberation occur as a result of honest weighing of evidence or as a consequence of the pressure of 10 or 11 jurors brow-beating a lone holdout? We’d be willing to bet was a lot of “arm twisting” in the jury room. While we still uphold the verdict, we yet wonder exactly what happened in the jury room after the judge sent the nine women and three men to reconsider. Was justice served? Hall is that extreme case where justice must prove the validity of our system, one based on “reasonable doubt.” THE PLANET isn’t sure that happened in the Hall case.
Railroaded? — Only THE PLANET has given honest coverage of Mayor Dan Bianchi’s request of the city council for $1 million as bribe money to lure a company to Pittsfield to build railcars for the MBTA. This would be in addition to $1 million PEDA intends to use from the GE settlement. That’s $2 million of taxpayer money on the line, a number worthy of the most intense questioning and scrutiny. Here’s a question no one has asked that must be considered: Since state government will be awarding the contract, must the jobs be offered at “prevailing wage.” That would be a lot higher than the $35K mentioned in Douglas Clark‘s report to the city council — including benefits, that figure translates to little more than minimum-wage positions.
Railroaded II — “We’re confident one of the [nine] companies bidding [on the MBTA contract] will consider the PEDA property,” Bianchi said after a council subcommittee voted unanimously to the million-dollar “incentive” (THE PLANET prefers the more honest term, “bribe”). Look at this statement. We take it as proof that neither he, PEDA, nor 1Berkshire actually believe the city has a chance at the deal. By definition, any and all of the companies considering where to assemble the railcars would have to “consider” the PEDA material. The mere action of of a secretary opening an information pact can be considered “consideration.” The point is not if they will “consider” Pittsfield but “choose” Pittsfield. THE PLANET says they won’t. The push to free $2 million in taxpayer money is more likely a “Trojan Horse” meant for some other purpose, one that the Bianchi Administration obviously does not wish to entrust to Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski.
Railroaded III — All we’re going to say is “remediation.” That’s the key word in Clark’s presentation to our Right Honorable Good Friends on the council. It’s the word that has kept PEDA “clean” from true outside private investment after 15 years, and it’s the word that will guarantee Pittsfield does not get the railcar contract. Taxpayers, though, will continue to get “the business.”
Does the Corner Office Bear Blame for Two Deaths? — Two weeks, two pedestrian fatalities at the intersection of Center and Depot streets. How much blame for these two deaths can be put directly or otherwise at the door of Dan Bianchi? The intersection, notably on the outskirts of where the downtown merges into the “west side,” the city’s code the “mean streets,” lacks proper lighting. When THE PLANET drove by last week at night, two lights near that intersection weren’t working. Moreover, the sidewalk wasn’t shoveled. What choice would any pedestrian have but to walk in the road, in a poorly lit area, near an intersection where many motorists disregard safety? Where was the city maintenance of the area? Why were the lights out? Why was the sidewalk not shoveled or plowed? Is this why two pedestrians are now dead? Where is the liability? Where is the blame? Is it at the Corner Office?
Pittsfield Getting in on “Hotel Wars” — In the Pittsfield wrinkle of “Hotel Wars,” an unexplainable frenzy of temp room space fueled by greed and pride, THE PLANET finds the proposed 45-room “Hotel on North,” now in the planning stages. The hotel would cater to the La-De-Da crowd — those tourists who wish to live dangerously by bedding in downtown Pittsfield and corporate guests visiting on business. The rooms are planned for the old Besse-Clarke building. All well and good, but let’s dispense of the notion perpetuated by some officials, including school committeeman Josh Cutler, that this will be entirely private money. The developers will look for lucrative tax credits. It is unclear if they will be pressing Mayor Bianchi for more tax breaks. At that site (Spice etc.) the city has a history of “giving away the store.”
Prom Theft — That the $10,ooo “prom heist” has been covered up by the school department administration, and that Mayor Donothing — both as the city’s CEO and as a member of the school committee — has not demanded transparency stands as a stain on the entire city. THE PLANET has hope, though, that supt. Jason “Jake” McCandless will step up to the plate on this one. We would also call upon the school committee, including Josh Cutler and Tony Riello to make noise. We mention those two because Cutler promised during the campaign to be fearless and not “play ball” and Riello is former city police chief. Meanwhile, the clues continue to dribble out. We wonder: Are they going to wait until THE PLANET finally declares,”Col. Mustard in the library with the candlestick?”
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Have a great weekend, everybody.
“A newspaper is a collection of half injustices / Which, bawled by boys from mile to mile, / Spreads it curious opinion.” — Stephen Crane, “A Newspaper.”
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.