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  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?
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 appeal — David Bowie, “Diamond Dogs,” second verse, 1974.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.