Article

THE PLEASURE OF FRIENDSHIP … plus … WHAT DOES FREE HOUSE, ‘BRIANS’ OF VOCATIONAL ED IN PITTSFIELD, ACTUALLY DO FOR HIS CUSHY 6-FIGURE PACKAGE? … INQUIRING MINDS WONDER AS STATE REJECTS CITY’S VOCATIONAL PLAN

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, MARCH 21, 2014) — With patience comes reward, and we who have endured this winter can rejoice in the coming of official spring — a leaping tongue of green bloom the calendar has kindly advanced — so that we all may move forward, refreshed and willing, again, to take up the cause. One needs such a spirit of rejuvenation when confronting the devils and goons in the city of Podunk. Y’all know what we’re talkin’ ’bout.

First, we must address one of the great joys of life, and that is friendship. This wonderful state between and among people cannot be forced, bought, or otherwise pressured or coerced. Though acquaintances are many and those who claim you in amicus can be counted they way one would number locusts in a plague, friendship works its way through the pressures of life as a diamond emerges from coal or an oyster can appear in a shell — in its own time, slowly if need be, never forced, always fit. This makes friends few and cherished. Friendship comes as it will, on its own terms and time, and builds over time in the vulnerability and openness of Relationship.

MR. AND MRS. PLANET had the great pleasure of playing host to a wonderful couple from the downtrodden wastes of Pittsfield. They are are “name” couple, long-time dedicated public servants who have given for the communal good without asking for an ungodly return. We can say they didn’t get the memo that public servants in Pittsfield must line their own pockets first and foremost before lifting a finger for the public good. In truth, we killed a few bottles of wines, enjoyed home-made coffee cake, and shared more than one laugh, but the residual effect of the visit leaves us with the warm glow that, yes, there are people “out there” who care. On behalf of MRS. PLANET and staff at THE FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THE PLANET thanks Mr. and Mrs. Quilty Q. Knuckleball for the pleasure of their company.

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What Does ‘Free House’ Do for His Six-Figure Package?

You may have read that the state has rejected Pittsfield’s plan for vocational education (too many programs [15] and too few projected students [under 500]), a condition before work can begin on solving the “high school problem” through building anew or refurbishing Taconic High School, a highly suspect enterprise because of (a) the zeal The Suits profess for it and (b) so many other problems within the PPS that should take precedence, for example, curriculum reform and adherence to policy.

It’s a problem, of course, that Pittsfield cannot solve without first spending millions on outside consultants. Well, that design consultant came in and said the state would basically laugh the city out of the pool with its current vocational plan — revised, mind you — by the masterminds in charge of the store.

On the vocational side, the buck, God help us all, stops with Frank “Free House” Cote, Pittsfield’s  excuse for an administrator who holds the lofty title of Assistant Superintendent for Vocational, Workforce, and College Readiness.” Fancy, huh, with capital letters and commas, even! This is the administrative pant-load who provided the deal that ended up with his secretary, Lynn Whitney, getting extensive and free labor from the Taconic carpentry students to build her house in the idylls off of Churchill Road out by the Pittsfield State Forest on Love Me Avenue. Ms. Whitney was selected only after a vast, nationwide search for applicants. Yeah, that guy.

This ain’t responsible governance. This is genocide.

Yeah, that guy — the guy with the contract that pays him the big bucks, the guy who cannot receive a pay cut, the guy who cannot be held responsible for any detrimental action taken while employed by the district, literally indemnified by taxpayers for anything from littering to ax murder. He’s the guy with a seemingly unlimited number of days off and who’s work day is defined by himself: If Cote, in his wise judgment, finishes his work in three minutes, he can legally leave. Those who want the details of this nefarious contract should review THE PLANET from March 6.

At this point, we have an “oh, by the way” addressed to Kathy Yon, Dan Bianchi, Dan Elias, Tony Riello, Pam Farron, Cindy Taylor, and Josh Cutler, the second in two days. You were the ones who said a lot of big things during the campaign, and now we have the utter audacity to ask you when do any of you intend to back it up with action — actions that shows you have allegiance to anyone other than the Pittsfield School Department Administration and the Pittsfield teachers union? What about (dare we say it?) “The Children?” What about taxpayers, those poor men and women you insist upon crucifying, coincidentally, right around Good Friday each year, when the budget begins to be discussed and placed forward in ernest? What about it, huh? What about it Josh?

Oh, THE PLANET is taxing you? We have demanded comment from any of you about the horrible case of bullying that we brought to light yesterday. Now we want to know — and here is our “oh by the way:”  What do you intend to do with the outrageous contract of Free House Cote when it expires on June 30? That is your call. In advocacy of those who have no voice in this mess, THE PLANET respectfully advises that you let it give up the ghost, wish Mr. Free House well, shake his hand, and find a vocational director with some semblance of both understanding the job and dedication to employ that understanding for the public good. Free House has had three years to get the job done. That has not happened.

Exit, stage left.

Yeah, that guy; he’s the one in charge of the vocational education plan upon which would trigger a state reimbursement of “up to” 80% (so they claim) of the total cost. That’s the same vocational plan that, according to the million-dollar consultant, will fail to pass muster with the state. It would probably also fail to pass mustard, ketchup, and Swamp Guinea’s BBQ Sauce.

Of course, the so-called “What Do We Do About THS?” is a problem that doesn’t exist in reality, only in the fictions and fabrications The Suits dish out to Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski, who end up paying for their ambitions and empire building.

THE PLANET will explain why this problem isn’t “actual.” Back in the 1960s, city schools had 12,000 students. Today, it’s 6,000. The high school population has plummeted proportionately. One would think with half the students would come a similar downsizing of staff, bricks, and mortar. Not so. By rough count, there are triple the number of teachers and quintuple the number of administrators compared to the Sixties, with nary a justification (this is the kind of stuff they pull when We The People don’t pay attention and don’t vote).

If one steps back, removes the politics, and takes for view from 30,000 feet, one can see perfectly well that the city could get by with one high school.

Speaking of inaction by the “Walking Dead” school committee, THE PLANET yesterday put in a request for comment on that horrible case of bullying that took place at PHS, in front of teachers and staff, with nothing done.

Uh, we haven’t heard a peep from any of them.

The post-script to this will be the “Evermore” request the school department makes of You the Taxpayer for more millions more dollars, to go atop the $90+million it already receives. THE PLANET’s in-house prognosticator, Bombo The Great, predicts the school committee will rubber stamp the superintendent’s request without one tough question. It will then go to that Profile in Courage, Mayor Dan Bianchi. Do Little will forward the request untouched to the city council. The council will …

That’s where Bombo The Great ends his crystal-ball gazing.

Gee, do you think there’s even a whiff of a chance the council might throw the budget back at the mayor, who would then throw it back at the school committee, who would then throw it back to the superintendent, with the message: “Sharpen that pencil, JIV.”

Do you think?

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Crawling down the alley on your hands and knee
Im sure you’re not protected, for it’s plain to see
The diamond dogs are poachers and they hide behind trees
Hunt you to the ground they will, mannequins with kill appealDavid Bowie, “Diamond Dogs,” second verse, 1974.

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

33 Responses to “THE PLEASURE OF FRIENDSHIP … plus … WHAT DOES FREE HOUSE, ‘BRIANS’ OF VOCATIONAL ED IN PITTSFIELD, ACTUALLY DO FOR HIS CUSHY 6-FIGURE PACKAGE? … INQUIRING MINDS WONDER AS STATE REJECTS CITY’S VOCATIONAL PLAN”

  1. Mad Trapper
    March 21, 2014 at 8:55 am #

    Dan , Pittsfield has been at critical morASS for quite a while now:

    Major U.S. Research University Discovers New Element!!!!!

    The heaviest element known to science was recently discovered by investigators at a major U.S. research university.

    The element, tentatively named ADMINISTRATIUM, has no protons or electrons and thus has an atomic number of 0.

    However, it does have one neutron, 125 assistant neutrons, 75 vice neutrons, and 111 assistant vice neutrons. This gives it an atomic mass of 312.

    These 312 particles are held together by a force that involves the continuous exchange of meson-like particles called morons. It is also surrounded by vast quantities of electron-like particles called peons.

    Since it has no electrons, Administratium is inert. However, it can be detected chemically as it impedes every reaction it comes in contact with.

    According to the discovers, a minute amount of Administratium causes one reaction to take over four days to complete when it would have normally occurred in less than one second.

    Administratium has a normal half-life of approximately THREE YEARS (sic), at which time it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which assistant neutrons, vice neutrons, and assistant vice neutrons exchange places.

    In fact, Administratium sample’s mass actually INCREASES over time, since with each reorganization some of the morons inevitably become neutrons, forming new isotopes.

    This characteristic of MORON PROMOTION leads some scientists to speculate that perhaps Administratium is spontaneously formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration.

    This hypothetical quantity is referred to as “critical morASS.”

    • B
      March 21, 2014 at 9:13 am #

      Mad Trapper, I love your take on the article. I give you a grade of A+.

    • Scott
      March 21, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

      MT that’s just hilarious and unfortunately for tax payers very true.

  2. Spider
    March 21, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    Mad Trapper: That is just sooooo good!

  3. Roman Knows
    March 21, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    Great Take! Better than anything we learned in Mr Lahey’s Chemistry class at PHS

  4. Hurdygurdy Man
    March 21, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    Ok but to the serious matter raised by the article, yes we know the school dept is overadministered overfunded and underperforming so what will the school department do about it?

    Mr Valenti has raised the question to each of them about bullying case and Mr Cote’s contract. What will they do? I urge school board members each to go on record

    • Roman Knows
      March 21, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

      I second that motion, All in favor say aye!

      • B
        March 22, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

        AYE!

        • danvalenti
          March 22, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

          Double Aye! THE PLANET can attest that the first one in with a comment was Dan Elias.

    • Mad Trapper
      March 21, 2014 at 5:30 pm #

      How about the COUNCIL, bullies?

      Take them up to PSF and tie them to a tree?

      Kidding of course…..

      But did…….just today

      Learn about a way to tie a person, just using , their own legs, to a tree .

      Today in fact. from a late 60s Vet

      Was used in Vietnam.

      Terrified the tree huggers : ) ……I’m told

    • danvalenti
      March 22, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

      HM
      Thank you. We have personally contacted each school committee member, requesting comment on these two issues. Dan Elias answered first, setting a good example. A lot of us shall be carefully watching who responds … and who doesn’t.

  5. billy
    March 22, 2014 at 4:02 am #

    We are heading full steam ahead for a fiscal train wreck,all aboard!!!!

    • Mad Trapper
      March 23, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

      The NATION is running the BIGGER TERAIN WRECK.

      ready for that?

      No fuel, electricity, water, or food.

      Obamacares less than you think.

  6. dusty
    March 22, 2014 at 5:04 am #

    Does anyone really believe that any of these school administrators looses any sleep over bullying or a bloated budget? Do you think there is one school committee member who would admit that the whole school process is top heavy and then have the guts to say it and suggest a remedy?

    Not in this burg buddy.

    Everyone needs to get out and vote to change things. But as Dan Bianchi has proven once again, You just don’t really know what you are voting for because you can’t believe a word any of them say.

    • danvalenti
      March 22, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

      DUSTY
      If they’re NOT losing sleep, then it’s time for some “awake” medicine.

      • Shakes His Head
        March 22, 2014 at 6:44 pm #

        they don’t even lose sleep for failing to perform.

  7. Spider
    March 22, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

    The School Committee and City Council should look around at neighboring towns that are tightening their belts and do the same.

  8. Hurdygurdy Man
    March 22, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

    Yes, southern berkshire, dalton, and others have thrown the school’s budget requests back at the school committee. As Too expensive.
    The mayors request for $1 million dollars more. Nope. The old trick of wanting one ask for three and get talked down to two.

    • dusty
      March 23, 2014 at 4:25 am #

      This mayor does not need to worry about getting reelected. He is not interested in another term as he does not need it. He is basically a lame duck and can just ride it out. What does he have to gain by stirring up the unions and powerful school talking heads?

  9. Thomas More
    March 23, 2014 at 6:25 am #

    Alas there is hope for the downtrodden wasteland called Pittsfield. The Planet’s have found two “name” people who labor at the public trough, not for the pay or the benefits or the pension, but for us and the Kapanskis. Like Sodom, if we can only find eight more in town like the Knuckleballs God will save us. The Planet lunched last week at Dotties, we could start there. Then there’s Tapas with the dainty food, very healthy. Nice people go there.. There is one thing the BB and the Planet have in common, they have the same proof reader.(BRIANS) of voc ed)
    BTW, what is a ‘name’ person.

    • danvalenti
      March 23, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

      THOMAS
      First, we thank you for your note.
      Second, your information is incorrect. We did not lunch at Dotties last week. We will start there.
      Third, while others may, we don’t DO Tapas.
      Fourth, if you have to ask what a ‘name’ person is, you have in a reverse way answered your own question.
      Fifth, stay off of RR tracks when you’re feeling low. If you want to “take the pipe,” there are better ways.We’ll finish there.
      Sixth, as for proofing, yes, the occasional error slips through. When you graduate from your current featherweight writing “load” into producing a 1,500-word column daily, you will find this to be an inevitable occurrence. THE PLANET shall not point out the numerous grammatical and typographical errors in your brief not. We are, you see, kind.

  10. Ron Kitterman
    March 23, 2014 at 6:28 am #

    I’m kinda proud of the CDB for preventing a digital sign near the intersection of Elm and East Street because it may cause a distraction to my driving. Driving by PHS seeing a mini Beatlemania sign I can handle, kids crossing into traffic like a herd of cattle with mad cow disease , I get it. Let’s punish the entrepreneurs who took a dilapidated bakery and turned it into a attractive business front. How dare them come up with a digital sign instead of the usual ugly Lady Bird Johnson approved billboard. There must be something in the new charter or code to keep this from happening.

    • Scott
      March 23, 2014 at 7:50 am #

      Who knows what’s in the charter it wasnt read or understood by anyone who voted for it and the other half didn’t vote at all. In fact the people who own the business most likly didn’t even vote so I have no sympathy for them. Plus a digital sign really doesn’t go around here let’s keep that small town feel.

  11. Dave
    March 23, 2014 at 6:32 am #

    I kid you not– the slogan in an ad for the PPS on B2
    In Sunday’s BB. Pittsfield Public Schools. More of
    Us——-so you can be more.
    Damn, now they are mocking the taxpayers ….more
    Of us, sounds like a talking point for budget season.

    • Scott
      March 23, 2014 at 7:51 am #

      Yes we need less of them.

    • Spider
      March 23, 2014 at 11:58 am #

      What did that ad cost the taxpayers? And how many more times will we see it in the BB before the school budget is approved.

      They should be ashamed!

    • dusty
      March 23, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

      What would be really scary is if someone in the school department actually believed that slogan. But I doubt there is any danger of that. They may just be along for the ride but they aren’t that ignorant.

      More likely they paid a consultant come up with it. They may have trouble finding students but they have no trouble finding money.

      • danvalenti
        March 23, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

        DUSTY, DAVE, and SPIDER
        Thanks DAVE for alerting us to that total waste of taxpayer money. You guys are right in your observations. They SHOULD be ashamed.

  12. Ron Kitterman
    March 23, 2014 at 6:51 am #

    Good catch Dave, it’s a Jake thing. Sort of like advertising a used car with a blown engine isn’t it ?

  13. Ron Kitterman
    March 23, 2014 at 8:42 am #

    @ Scott I’m not too crazy about a digital sign myself, however let’s let the free market decide if the advertising dollars are worth investing not the city. If a real estate business or car dealer shelled out a $1,000 bucks a month and found it was a poor return on their investment they would fail to advertise. As it is we have to city advertising for our kids to go to school in the BB with our tax dollar$, no wonder so many are opting for school choice, private schools or home schooling. Just a little too progressive in my view.

    • danvalenti
      March 23, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

      Electronic billboards? Let’s storm city hall? Millions of dollars throwing money at an underperforming city department (schools, you see)? No problem. Just one time, we would love to see We The People engage in the budget process. The gravy would stop flowing right soon.

  14. joetaxpayer
    March 23, 2014 at 11:57 am #

    Like the fact the sign can put up Amber alerts and road closings. Not worried about distractions, most people are to busy on there phones to be distracted.