PV-TV — PLANET VALENTI TELEVISION — DEBUTS TONIGHT AT 7 P.M. ON CHANNEL 16 … PLANET’s SPECIAL GUEST: THE EMPTY SUIT!! … plus … CLAIRMONT SHOULD HAVE LEFT BAD ENOUGH ALONE; INSTEAD, HE CHASED CRITICISM
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, MAY 8, 2014) — Boys and girls, be sure to tune into PCTV’s Access Pittsfield, tonight beginning at 7 p.m., for one of the most unusual hours of local TV you’ve seen in a while — or perhaps have ever seen. Tonight, we break the Dom across the bow of the S.S. Planet Valenti Television — PV-TV Starring Dan Valenti.
Will the show stay afloat or will it sink? If the first, how far, long, and wide will it sail? That remains to be determined.
The big difference between writing, radio, and TV broadcasting is that TV is such a technically collaborative medium. You can’t do it alone. THE PLANET has done thousands of radio shows, and we have guested on many TV shows. That’s not what we’re talking about here. On PV-TV, we’re starting a new TV show, from scratch. We have an hour to fill, totally dependent on a new (though mostly experienced) crew. If you had to categorize it, call it a “talk show,” but that doesn’t quite cover it. It is … what it will be. That’s the best we can do.
* * * * * * *
Writers produce their output within the comfort and safety of their cabins or offices or wherever it is they lay down their syllables on paper. Radio broadcasters sit in a studio, unseen, and deliver words into a microphone. On TV, you do everything in plain view. To add to the edge, our show shall be broadcast live, in real time. The only thing recorded will be when Planet Valenti TV airs on the re-broadcast schedule.
Hope you tune in, because you will be an invited guest. Yes, we’ll take your phone calls. We don’t have the call-in number yet, but when you tune in beginning at 7 p.m., we’ll make it abundantly apparent.
It takes some time for any show of this type to find its way and figures out what it is, and that shall be the case for Planet Valenti TV. In addition to your phone calls, we anticipate eventually branching out in the skits, comedy, music, and anything else that may occur in advance or at the moment. Don’t expect all of this tonight. We will probably be easing our way into it.
THE PLANET considers this an experiment in TV. This is a first for us, hosting a TV regular show. In May, we will broadcast tonight and the 22nd. If all goes according to schedule, PV-TV will be a weekly on Thursday nights at 7. The fun will be not fully knowing what to expect or even what we shall say or do … until we say or do it. We’ve always preferred improv to scripts. We did stand-up comedy, radio, public speaking this way, and PV-TV shall be no different. You will be finding out what we do next the moment we do.
One last thing. THE PLANET has promised, and we shall deliver, as our first guest a resident of a Corner Office near you. Allen and Fenn Street. Yes, we speak of the mayor. Finally, at last, what everyone’s been waiting for, an appearance of The Empty Suit live in studio, to take THE PLANET’s questions. You won’t want to miss it.
Clairmont Didn’t Get the Memo
When Peter Arlos, the Aging Greek God himself, ruled the planet (not THE PLANET), he used to hand out a piece of standard advice to anyone wishing to step foot on the public stage. Pete would say that inevitably, you would come in for critical attention. You’d make enemies. You’d have to develop a thick skin. You’d have to know when to keep talking and to keep your mouth shut. The culmination of this invaluable lecture was his priceless dictum: “Never Chase Criticism.” The idea was that “chasing” the criticism — that is, responding to it, particularly in a defensive way — would end up making the situation worse for yourself. In chasing criticism, a public figure would only keep a negative issue alive and well … in the public.
When councilor-at-large Barry Clairmont spoke at the Ordinance and Rules committee during the public input period (he’s not a committee member) to defend the mayor’s pay raise request, he made two regrettable comments.
First, he made comments about recipients on Social Security that were universally interpreted as disrespect to the elderly, those living on fixed income, and those whose survival depends on receiving the S.S. checks. Clairmont may not have meant it, but it came out that way. He implied that recipients of Social Security were better off than city managers. The idea is ludicrous on its face, for a number of reasons:
1. Social Security checks are cut from payments made into the system by the workers themselves. The S.S. checks come from money already earned and paid by workers in the form of government-forced payments. Recipients are only getting their own money back, money that they otherwise could have used as they pleased. Instead, Uncle Sam got it first, interest free. City workers, if the pay hikes are approved, will receive extra money for work yet done.
2. Many seniors receive small S.S. checks. It’s not uncommon to have someone making less than $10,000 a year. When that is your only (or your main) source of income, you’re living on fumes. When you live in Pittsfield, where the only certainly besides death is that the mayor and council will approve taking more of your money via tax hike to grow the government, you’re not even surviving in many cases.
3. The pay hikes in the mayor’s scheme will raise salaries of managers substantially, up to 40%.Here are the actual salaries that Clairmont, the mayor, and others are trying to palm off as starvation raises. The raises would be added to these figures. The numbers are taken from the consultant’s study. These are current Pittsfield salaries:
Building commissioner $49,999; COA director $40,289; city solicitor $66,420; city clerk $54,489; personnel director $54,909; Health director $55,944; fire chief $87654; airport manager $56442; council on aging director $50,535; tax collector $56,101; finance director $73,828; purchasing agent $55,997; maintenance director $63,312; veteran’s director $49,999; community development director $73,672; city engineer $68,772; assessor $51,379; DPW commissioner $83,919; housing manager $57,745; police chief $109,157; planner $54,333; natural resources manager $57,381; library director $74,606.
Keep in mind that according to the city’s own study, these people receive far greater benefits than the average in the other communities looked at. According to data released by councilor Chris Connell, they also live in areas where the cost of living, and particular the cost of house, is dramatically lower.
In other words, as one commenter put it yesterday on THE PLANET, city managers are on the whole fairly compensated and over-benefitted. In fact, half of the positions on the above list make no lower than 90% of the comparable positions in other cities. The last five positions on the list actually make more. When you factor in benefits, cost of living, and housing prices, it’s safe to say that on average, Pittsfield pays more than comparable communities.
Low Pay Causes Theft? Preposterous
Clairmont’s second “duh-oh” came when he linked theft by city workers to their low pays. The notion, on the face of it, is preposterous. It not only puts all city workers in a bad light, it ignores the sociology of stealing. Except in extreme cases (Jean Valjean stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family in Les Miserables) people don’t steal because of how much they make. They steal because of who they are.
Clairmont got buried for these two statements in comments made on this website. Rather than leaving the justified criticism alone, Clairmont chased it. In doing so, he fanned the flames. The more he tried to excuse or explain away these statements, the bigger they got.
We trust our Right Honorable Good Friend has learned a good lesson here.
* * * * * * *
One related note. It’s been mentioned that ever since the brow-beating from council president Melissa Mazzeo, the trio of Jonathan Lothrop, Clairmont, and John Krol have been missing in action, especially clairmont and Krol. People have noted that they haven’t been themselves. They’ve seemed “cowed,” “reticent,” “timid” “beaten,” so folks have observed.
THE PLANET wouldn’t go that far, but it is a phenomenon that will bear watching in subsequent meetings.
Have they been co-opted? Are they in fear? Or will they get their groove back? Only time will tell.
Seems to me, you don’t want to talk about it. Seems to me, you just turn your pretty head and walk away.” — James Gang, “Walk Away,” (1971)
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.