‘COMMUNITY CONNECTION’ GRANT — A HUNDRED GRAND OF YOUR TAX DOLLARS — HAS ONLY ONE TRUE PURPOSE: TO MAKE ‘TES’ LOOK LIKE HE’S DOING SOMETHING ABOUT A PROBLEM THAT HE HAS LET GET TOTALLY OUT CONTROL
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
WATCH EPISODE 2 of PLANET VALENTI TELEVISION — PV-TV, now loaded at pittsfieldcommunitytv.org (go to “Show Search” and type in “Planet Valenti Television” to access the show). It’s also available on YouTube and Google. Seach “Planet Valenti TV.” Re-broadcasts on Friday, 5-16 at 11:30 a.m., 3 p.m., 6:30 p.m., and 10 p.m. It probably breaks city law to have as much fun. We love the fact that among our most loyal viewers are the ones whose balls are getting roasted! Keep those cards and letters coming, fans!!
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEEKEND EDITION, MAY 16-18, 2014) — They had the first Third Thursday last night, and unlike what happened the last time, the event wasn’t marred by “roving bands of restless youth” rioting and rumbling in the downtown. That’s Pittsfield’s version of progress. It might even inspire The Empty Suit (TES) to cut a ribbon, issue a proclamation, or visit a fourth grade science class.
After Third Thursday dispatched, however, cops had to handle a full moon of calls, most related to the human debris and detritus that is the sad adjunct to youth gangs. And brother and sisters, under the current mayor, the gang problem has gone from an afterthought to the after-burners.
Naturally, the city’s response is to throw more tax dollars at it, a problem in itself that we call “ganggrant.”
Ganggrant is to a city much what gangrene is to a human limb. It begins with a wound. The wound spreads to an infection. The infection leads to either an amputation or death.
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City, Mayor Admit Failure in Battle Against Youth Gangs
Ganggrant occurs when a city has lost the battle of the urban landscape to the street gangs, who are the instantaneous and concurrent wound, disease, and infection all in one. The condition signifies that the local authorities, in this case the officials “leading” the city of Pittsfield, find themselves out of answers in how to combat the dross of male youth, young thugs who have gradually taken over whole neighborhoods in the city. To some extent, they have taken over the city itself, as seen in the widespread perception of fear that keeps healthy, well-adjusted, law-abiding citizens away from downtown and its environs.
This is how government bureaucracy grows. It fattens itself on grant money, every cent of which is as much “your tax dollars” as the ruinous personal and business rates you pay for the privilege of being underserved in Pittsfield. The $100,000 grant comes from the Shannon Community Safety Initiative (SCSI). That’s state money. SCSI dollars aim to reduce youth gang violence. Those are your dollars. You had no say.
THE PLANET to Pittsfield: While the grant money may erect the facade that the mayor’s office and local officials are doing something, the decision to join a gang or not join a gang resides in the human heart. Government will never be able to “grant” such problems away, although, countless trillions of dollars after the fact, bureaucracy in the U.S., on all levels, still thinks it will be able to do so. What’s that they say about the definition of “insanity” — repeating the same action and expecting a different result.
The SCSI money “use[s] data to help guide and assess collaborative efforts to reduce gang violence.” Excuse us for asking, but isn’t that why Mayor Dan Bianchi hired a 25-year-old wunderkind as a “crime analyst” for the police department? Isn’t she supposed to “use data” to fight crime? That position couldn’t be another political patronage hire, could it? The joke of it all, as well as the wonder, lies (and we mean “lies”) in the fact that the totally whipped and beaten down citizens of Pittsfield put up with all this crap.
It’s interesting that when our colleague and good friend Jim Therrien of The Boring Broadsheet wrote up the story (at his editor’s orders, no doubt), he mentioned several times how the grant money would be used to address youth crime and gang activity in “a handful of vulnerable Pittsfield neighborhoods.” That quote was from Adam Hinds, a chap hired by Bianchi in march to coordinate Community Connection, whatever that is. We do know it’s another of those “big government” programs that creates jobs not to get a job done but to buy political loyalty (any doubt that TES is going to try for the four-year term in 2015?).
Pity is that this kid Hinds probably thinks his employer believes in him. Hinds doesn’t know he’s being set up to fail, but at least the temporary post will look good on the resume when he has the good sense to high-tail it out of the city.
‘5 City Neighborhoods’ at Risk, Fine … But Which Ones?
Therrien mentions how the program has already surveyed several “city neighborhoods.” Resources, he writes, will be applied on the basis of “crime reports, poverty and unemployment rates, and thus far five neighborhoods located around the general downtown area …” Hinds says the program will “deep dive into those neighborhoods and streets.” There is talk later in the article about “neighborhood support groups.”
Astute reader: Do you detect the missing element in all this?
Nowhere does Hinds identify those five neighborhoods. You’d think that information would be up front, in the lead, something like:
“The city has identified five Pittsfield neighborhoods, all in or near the downtown, as gang-ridden. They neighborhoods, according to Adam Hinds, are 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.”
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That’s the story here, that the city admits that the neighborhoods in and around the downtown are crime ridden and unsafe.
Of course, the clue that they are in “the general downtown area” explains this otherwise baffling omission. It seems clear that Bianchi has told Hinds not to mention specific neighborhoods, because the mayor is trying to create a desperate fiction that he lords over a healthy, prosperous downtown. Bianchi isn’t the Adolph Hitler of mayors. He’s not that much of a warped genius. He’s not even the Dan Quayle of mayors. Bianchi can at least spell potato. Nope, he’s the Kim Jung Un of mayors, the inept dolt who runs the gulag state of North Korea. According to Kim Jung Un, North Korea is the happiest country on earth. That’s what the mayor wants you to believe about Pittsfield.
Those who live there, who work there, who are trying to raise families there, who are trying to survive there, and who are dying there know otherwise. They see through the lies.
Advice to Tourists: Enter Downtown After Dark Only at Your Own Risk
THE PLANET’s advice to any summer tourists thinking of coming downtown for anything: Don’t. They are mean streets these days. Want theater? Go to Shakespeare and Company? Attend the Berkshire Theatre Festival. Both companies have many stages, and they at least offer you the peace of mind that you won’t be mugged or worse as you leave the theater to walk to your car after the final applause has died down. We love The Barrington Stage and wish them well, but it seems just a matter of time before there’s an incident after a play ends and the patrons walk back to their cars. Best way to leave The Barrington Stage is to walk in groups. The Colonial, on downtown’s fashionable and safer south side, doesn’t have this worry. It also has well-lit, adjacent parking.
Thank you, Mayor Bianchi, for another job not well done — in fact, not done at all. That’s why you are known as TES: The Empty Suit. You made another hilarious appearance on PLANET VALENTI TELEVISION Thursday night, and you shall be our guest each night forward until you yourself agree to sit in the hot seat. (There’s a secret part of us that hopes you never do!).
TES — THE PLANET had no desire to saddle you with that nickname. As you recall, for more than a score of years, we practically propped you up as a fighter “for We The People.” You remember the battle of the Civic Authority, for example. That was when you pretended to care about the rights of citizens as they were in danger of being trampled on by The Suits and the Special Interests. In our naivete, we took you at face value. Turns out, the face was the face of Janus, the two-faced Roman god.
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Let’s bare the facts now, shall we.
We made you.
THE PLANET practically got you elected to your first term at councilor in Ward 6 all those years ago. You were unknown, desperate for exposure. THE PLANET had you on our talk show. We wrote about you in newspaper columns both in the Eagle and the Gazette. We put you on the local map, because we believed in you, and it wasn’t only because you knew the secret Mt. Carmel handshake or that you were in our graduating class at PHS.
We believed in you, because we thought you cared. We gave you time on our show, hosted debates in which you participated, and even had you in one election evening as our co-host and analyst. We fell for that fake smile and the Eddie Haskell polite act. You yourself said you wouldn’t have been “no one, nowhere” without THE PLANET’s backing.
THE PLANET made the same mistake in 2011, when you ran for mayor against the odds-on favorite, Peter Marchetti. We endorsed you. Show’s you how vacuous we can be at times. That endorsement made all the difference for you in your 106 vote victory over Marchetti. You yourself told us that.
Let’s be clear, because we can hear the state-sponsored criticism that is coming our way about how we operated behind the scenes to “rig” or “steal” the election on your behalf. Don’t flatter yourself, and tell your stooges not to bother. We had no intention or interest in being a “kingmaker.” We never have, don’t now, and never will. That’s the kind of politics in which you believe.
THE PLANET, though, is a hopeless idealist, still believing along with the late Gore Vidal and the late Christopher Hitchens in the “reasonable facsimile thereof” of democracy as it’s been practiced in the United States from the 19th century onward. That’s why we carry in our pocket copies of The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Like Vidal with his cousin Al, and like Hitchens with his support of the invasion of Iraq, we got suckered into a game of political Three-Card Monty.
Since we’re in a confessional mode, we will admit it leaves us feeling a bit like Dr. Victor Frankenstein, who never got over his experiment. The good doctor, with the best of intentions, created a monster, a beast with an evil brain. That monster terrorized the countryside. That’s how THE PLANET feels about you. We made you, and it weighs heavily on our conscience that we stuck good, hard-working, taxpaying citizens with the after-effects of your callousness, cold-hearted, uncaring brand of politics. You even stand now, as we write, accused of being a racist.
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And so we issue you this direct challege:
We challenge you to come on our next TV show and be our guest. We shall dust off the hot seat for you and let you have your say, your defense. You can tell us why we are wrong and why you are right. This is a personal challenge, man-to-man.
Folks, if you want the mayor to accept, please let him know.
By mail write — Mayor Dan Bianchi, City Hall, 70 Allen Street, Pittsfield 01201.
By e-mail — firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
By phone — (413) 499-9321 (city hall) … (413) 442-1967 (Global Montello) … (413) 441-2387 (cell)
If you accept, we shall treat you with utmost respect. Think of it as a first step to repairing a friendship that you, for political reasons, decided to destroy. One last thought to bear in mind, and we said it last night on the TV — As a person, we love you, and that is said sincerely. That will never change, but as a mayor, well, it’s time for Aloha on the steel guitar.
“Oh, Dolly Mae, how can you hang up on me this way? On the phone you said you wanted to run off with me today.” — Jimi Hendrix, “Wait Til Tomorrow,” from the album, Axis: Bold As Love, (1968)
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.