JIV, THE NEW JAKE, TAKES $2 MILLION IN NEW HIRES OFF THE TABLE … DON’T BE FOOLED, THOUGH, FOLKS: IT’S ALL PART OF THE ‘SCHEME’ … MEANWHILE, PITTSFIELD LOSS OF SCHOOL CHOICE MONEY TOPS $4.1 MILLION
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, MARCH 10, 2014) — THE PLANET has learned that the $2 million that Pittsfield Supt. Jason “Jake” McCandless has taken the $2 million for new hiring off the table. McCandless will not ask for the millions for the upcoming FY15. With a million and a half needed for pay raises and untold dollars for other excesses, the $2 million at least is off and out.
What are we to make of this? Let’s consider the possibilities:
(1) Mother Teresa Option: McCandless had an epiphany and selflessly thought of the fate of the poor, bedraggled Pittsfield taxpayers over empire building in the Pittsfield School Department.
(2) PLANETized Option: The Superintendent avidly reads THE PLANET and, after we spilled the beans on his intended budget request for more employees, had a change of mind based on our irrefutable and devastating display of reason and logic.
(3) Push-pull Option: He received push-back against the request from some unknown source.
(4) Business as Usual Option: It was all part of the plan in the first place.
Which of these, if any, might it be? THE PLANET examines.
1. MTO, REJECTED — We might be inclined to entertain this one, except for what McCandless left behind in Lee, where he previously served as super. Let’s ignore the glowing accolades that were laid on thick when he first applied for the Pittsfield job. Even if they were accurate, they are irrelevant. Budgets are strictly “what have you done for me lately.” McCandless’ track history in Lee shows excessive spending. Why else would the current interim superintendent there, Al Skrocki, lament the present financial picture? Skrocki has come out saying Lee public schools will have to tighten the belt. If McCandless did such a great job, why would that message be necessary? Of course, let’s keep it in perspective: Skrocki knows the drill. By “cut” he means less of an increase than last year. That’s how public schools in Massachusetts define “cut.”
2. PO, REJECTED — We don’t know for sure if JIV reads THE PLANET or not. We do know that our site is read (monitored) at Mercer, which, for the uninformed, refers to the PSD’s headquarters, the former school at First Street and Orchard. However, there’s no evidence that our prescriptions for the ailing PSD have been followed in this case. They’ve been routinely ignored before, and there’s no reason to believe otherwise in this case.
3. PPO, REJECTED — This option presumes that someone with authority and in power in Pittsfield told McCandless: “Don’t even think of $2 million in new personnel.” Who do you think would have the political integrity to do that? The mayor? Not a chance. Any member of the school committee? About as likely as Bobby Orr making a comeback and leading the NHL in scoring next year. Councilors? Someone within the department? Parents? The Children? Taxpayers?
4. BUO, ACCEPTED — Having eliminated the other possibilities, THE PLANET gravitates to this explanation, because that’s how the “Screw the Taxpayers Game” gets played. (a) Go public about excessive budget request. Example: Ask for $X+10 increase that you know doesn’t have a chance. (b) Secretly you know that you want $X+5. (c) You then go public again and say words to the effect of, “In the interests of the public, the schools will ask for 100% less money.” See the scheme at work: From 10 to 5 is a 100% decrease. Actually, it represents a huge factor of increase over X, which represents last year’s budget. Then the triple whammies kick in.
Whammy One: Another year, another increase in the budget. The increases compound upon each other, year after year, like interest in the bank.
Whammy Two: This year’s budget, what will become the FY’15 budget, sets up next year’s increase.
Whammy Three: Your taxes go up again.
That completes the Taxpayers’ Screw Cycle, which, in order to do it full justice, deserves the epic treatment of a full-scale, Wagnerian opera. THE PLANET has thus armed you and equipped you when they pull the ruse yet again … when they stuff the school committee chambers with stooge apologists for the over-bloated school department … when the same group shows like good little soldiers up en masse before our Right Honorable Good Friends on the city council — to pressure the money changers into granting them The Big Big Money.
Remember, too, that the first line of defense against this thievery is the school committee, and that body has had a successive reign of chairpeople with no experience in the Dreaded Private Sector — Carmen Massimiano, Kathy Amuso, Alf Barbalunga, and Kathy Yon. It’s the body that approves outrageous contracts such as the one granted to Frank “Free House” Cote.
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Speaking of money and the PSD, THE PLANET has taken a first look at the state’s cherry sheets. According to the state, during the FY14 year, the Pittsfield schools lost $3,828,499 to school choice. Drumroll please … for the FY15 year, the schools lost $4,106,649 from parents and their children who pulled out of Pittsfield schools to go elsewhere, or $278,150 above last year’s disastrous showing [ED NOTE: The school choice figures lag behind one year]. This shows something isn’t working right. That’s why they need more money, more money, more money — not.
The cherry sheets further show an increase in local aid to the city of $157,183 to city schools, from $39,290,000 to $39,447,183. This will be played as an insult, an affront, a humiliation because it’s too little. The Suits will play that as a sob story before they stick it to Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski again.
This type of scheming done in the name of public education — you know, “The Children” — runs statewide in a state politically lopsided under hegemonic one-party control. We might call it the Standard Management Scheme of the Commonwealth: Do less (measured by results) but charge more.
As we pointed out last week and shall continue to hammer, unless this approach stops in Pittsfield, the city will be bankrupt inside of 10 years.
“You see, it’s all clear. You were meant to be here from the beginning.” — Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, ”The Beginning,” (1973)
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.