PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, JULY 16, 2014) — While our Right Honorable Good Friends last night plucked hangnails from the body politic and inserted bamboo shoots under the enamel, you can dismiss outright their significance. Opposition is enfeebled, reducing what little independence we see to tokenism, and the mayor’s stooges have enough votes to run up real disaster.

And now that our Right Honorable Good Friends have chosen political expediency over fiscal responsibility by approving The Empty Suit’s excessive, tax-raising, service-depleting budget in a 9-2 vote (Lisa Tully and Kevin Morandi opposed), we can look back and see the future.

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In the short term, the new budget raises taxes mainly to provide pay hikes for the school department and to provide for a portion of the, ahem, “proposed” pay raise that TES and The Gang (department heads, managers, exempt employees) will end up receiving. TES stands to gift himself a boost in pay up to 40% … for what he has turned into a part-time, no-show job.

As for the grunts, the worker bees that do the vast majority of the actual work of the city, well, they can suck on a lemon washed in waste-water sewage. That’s what the mayor thinks of most of the city’s workers. No, we are not mind readers, but we can read the “signs of the time.” The mayor’s words in private to various city underlings, according to sources who have repeatedly told different versions of this same sad story — as well as his actions — tell us as much.

A Seabed of Financial Wreckage

In the long term, the FY15 budget pushes the city’s financial position further along on its inexorable journey to financial bottom, a seabed of wreckage also known as bankruptcy. Sometime between 5 and 10 years from now, historians will likely look back at Bianchi’s FY2015 budget as the “tipping point” that pushed Pittsfield past the point of financial “no return.”

The mayor has bragged about the “prudence” of his budget. He must have misspoke and meant “prunes” based on the elimination of the ensuing waste from the rectum of the body politic — you know, the area where the sun doesn’t shine. The Empty Suit has found his man-cave there, where, in his spare time, he likely grows redolent mushrooms. THE PLANET speaks plainly as well as in code. Let those with eyes and ears see and hear.

This budget will not produce productivity as much as an economic debris field.

There, in a pecan shell, we have The Empty Suit’s pitiful legacy, as the guy who ruined a once-proud city. Unless …

The Big ‘Unless’

… unless the city elects a “savior” in the 2015 municipal election, a decisive, well-rounded person sharp of intelligence, inflexible in political will, resolute in purpose, adequate in financing, and satisfactory in organization. This candidate shall be totally removed from “The Inside” and prepared to step up, lead, and cut costs. Otherwise, the FY15 budget shall be seen in hindsight as the one that “did the city in.”

For that reason, the 2015 election will be the most critical in city history. If another Status Quo candidate gets elected from “the usual suspects,” the city is doomed. Don’t forget: the next winner gets a four-year term. Elect another from The Suits, and you might as well put of that famous Pittsfield sign that Nate Zuckerman screened onto T-Shirts at the old Pipe and Pack on North Street: “Last one to leave Pittsfield turn out the lights.”

If, however, voters elect a reformer who understands that the biggest issue shall be to tame the runaway budget …

… And if, moreover, this person isn’t a loose canon with no funding and no organization looking to provide token opposition or, worse, get his or her 15 minutes of local fame,Pittsfield will have a fighting chance.

Ah, but who is that person? Is he or she out there?

When Outflow Exceeds Input, Budgets, and Cities, Ultimately Collapse

The problem for Pittsfield is this: It is spending more than it takes in. In 29 of the past 31 municipal budgets, the total cost of running the city has been jacked up, in each of those years, by multi-millions of dollars. Those budgets only worked with excessive taxation and heavy borrowing. That can’t happen again with the expectation that the city will survive.

It sounds like science fiction but it’s economic fact: from the FY’86 budget of $46,480,070, the municipal budget has grown by about $100,000,000 — one hundred million dollars. Yet when you compare the city  and its lifestyle of 1986 to 2015, you get the difference between a healthy, clean, respectable community and a poverty-wracked, dirty, crime-ridden ghetto. For the privilege of that demise, the poor citizens paid $100 million dollars.

Do you want another astounding fact? A dollar in 1986, adjusted for inflation, is the equivalent of 2014’s $2.13 (calculated at an annual inflation rate of 2.74% for a total inflation of 113.22%, source

Thus, over the past generation, the citizens of Pittsfield have actually paid The Suits $213 million to  destroy the city by politics!

This says nothing about an accumulated debt in post-employment benefits (health care costs, pensions, and other bennies) to public retirees that today likely tops $400,000,000. In 2011, unfunded debt obligation stood at nearly $335,000,000. Taxpayers pick up every dime of that tab, too.

The city is also greasing the skids to ram through a foolhardy $130 million school construction project, one that is not needed in a district with less than 6,000 students, down from twice that number from years ago. One must also factor in the lack of decent jobs; the drain of young people, who move out at first opportunity; the aging population; the dying off of GE retirees; the shrinking population; the rise in crime; the decrease in the tax base; and the lack of discretionary income.

Three Solutions, Only One of Which Will Work

There are only three ways that this dire situation can be addressed:

  1. The city increases revenues.
  2. The city increases borrowing.
  3. The cut cuts expenses.
If The Right Candidate steps forward in 2015, this is what the election will be about.

Bianchi and his council went, once again, for #1. The council has at least temporarily halted TES’ request for #2.

#1 and #2 are sure losers.

The only strategic (as opposed to tactical) fix for the city is #3. A leader must emerge from this perilous time who will take on the tough task (unpopular with The Suits and Special Interests but being prayed for by We The People) of budget reform. That will mean cuts. Fortunately, there is a way to substantially reduce the budget while at the same time boosting required services.

THE PLANET has a plan.

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“Did you grow up with me, too?” — Voice-over artist June Foray (Rocket J. Squirrel and an infinity of other cartoon voices), subtitle of her autobiography.





  1. dusty
    July 16, 2014 at 12:25 am #

    Actually there is an option four for some of the taxpayers. And that is to get the hell out before your property is almost worthless and unsellable.

    Logistically, finding a new job and picking your family up and moving to another place is daunting. But the option in Pittsfield may well be that you lose a great deal if not all of the equity in your home. As it is now the taxpayers are analogous to a dying corpse with the early arrival of the parasitic political hacks in the midst of a feeding frenzy.

    • Shakes His Head
      July 16, 2014 at 6:00 am #

      pack your bags and head west young man!

  2. amandaWell
    July 16, 2014 at 4:20 am #

    Dusty is right on. Has anyone noticed all the homes for sale? The assessed value on these homes are higher than the selling price, says it all. Homes are assessed high for tax revenues. Anyone ever look into that?

    • Scott
      July 16, 2014 at 5:08 am #

      I think your confusing city and bank assessments. At least on my house anyways the bank assessed it much higher to give me equity while my city assessment(the amount I’m taxed on.) is lower.

  3. Scott
    July 16, 2014 at 5:10 am #

    Dan, you got my vote a little less conversation and more action.

  4. C.J.
    July 16, 2014 at 5:48 am #

    “Daniel”, to quote The Sheffield Shuffler, Did you ever recieve the addresses of dept. heads,managers, exempt employees, and assorted sycophants and minions that you had requested from the city clerks’ office and then reffered sequentially to DeAngelo’s office for approved response ?
    Are you going to post at least the municipality and home state of these residences ?

    • dusty
      July 16, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

      Why would city hall be so reluctant to give out this information unless they felt they would be shamed by it. What is Bianchi so damn afraid of? He is acting like Christ Christie hiding under the porch.

  5. nostrodumass
    July 16, 2014 at 7:15 am #

    Pittsfield’s best days are behind it. General Electric made Pittsfield a city and without GE, Pittsfield would never have reached the population it once did.

    Unfortunately, the best option IS to move out. The true value of your house is what you can sell it for not what any entity “says” its worth. The more houses for sale means yours is harder to sell. I cannot imagine people lining up to buy and move to Pittsfield.

    Take a look at Detroit. You can buy a house in a once “nice” neighborhood cheap. Many houses are on the market there for around $1,000 and still cannot be sold. Houses with paved driveways, garage and vinyl siding with shutters. No one wants to live there. A once bustling thriving metropolis with the auto industry now reduced to third world status. The city of Detroit’s option: Bulldoze the properties.

    Pittsfield’s downward spiral is quickly going down the drain. If you can sell your house, even at “fire sale” prices and get out you are fortunate and should count your blessings. However, that only means that some other unfortunate family will suffer the consequences. Its almost like a pyramid ponzi scheme where those first to sell (at the top) will benefit and those at the bottom are left holding the bag in a quickly dying, once thriving metropolis left in the aftermath of GE.

    There are communities in USA where taxes are 1/10th that of Pittsfield and the people are living quite well. This mayor and city council are out of their minds thinking the people can afford this. Pittsfield while named after William Pitt has now more meaningfully become the “Pitts”.

    • levitan
      July 17, 2014 at 8:52 am #

      Nostrodumass, why are you talking about the past?

  6. Johnny2Shoes
    July 16, 2014 at 9:07 am #

    Does this mean the city will have enough $ to patch the road near Revilla and Pomeroy now?

  7. Ron Kitterman
    July 16, 2014 at 10:18 am #

    My suggestion is to ask the administration for 500 children ( refugees ) at $90 K a child that would bring in $45,000,000.00 to the city per year.

  8. Jonathan Melle
    July 16, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    I always wondered about Pittsfield politics what do they want from We the People?
    If the answer is pay more and more taxes and fees to the city government, then they will drive away people, families, and business.
    Pittsfield politics has seen every wrong socioeconomic indicator over the past 3 decades!
    Teen pregnancies and welfare caseloads double the statewide average in Pittsfield. The number one place for job loss in Massachusetts is Berkshire County. I can go on and on, but why bother!

  9. Revitalize North Street
    July 16, 2014 at 10:52 am #


    Talking on the task of running for Mayor and leading the city of Pittsfield is noble indeed. I sincerely believe you would do your best and try and bring things under control to reasonable levels. You have all the potential of being the greatest Mayor this city has ever had in its history.

    However, I’m afraid the Generalissimo and all of his men will not be able to put this city back together again.

    If you released all the city department heads and replaced them with more qualified counterparts at a more reasonable rate of pay, the powers that be would oppose you viciously. The Bershire Eagle will no doubt portray you as a right wing nut-job conspiracy theorist. “The suits” will see to it. Just wait and see.

    Mayor Bianchi ran unopposed this last election (making him think and say he’s doing a good job) and the majority of the people don’t even bother to vote anymore.

    If a prize fighter is losing so bad that his very life is in danger, his trainer throws a towel into the ring and the fight is stopped. The losing fighter leaves the ring badly wounded and defeated. Sometimes spending long stays in a hospital to recover. Muhammad Ali never did fully recover as they could not fix the brain damage he suffered.

    The time has come to leave Pittsfield and let the dead bury their dead.

    If all the damage Ruberto and Bianchi have done comes crashing down on the next Mayor, if it be you Dan, you will unfairly have to take all the blame. Something to think about before you enter the ring.

  10. Liz Arrington
    July 16, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    Bianchi has been an irresponsible and unaccountable mayor.

    • Ziggy
      July 16, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

      So, the councilors who voted down the capital expenditures did so because they want it increased to include a new fire truck? RU freakin kidding me?

      Why not, they just got the city a whole new fleet of school buses.

      Then the Mayor says he is not going to revise it again.
      Saying in effect, I am not going to do my part time job. I have another job that consumes my time.

      Either way, the citizens get it up the rear end.
      In my opinion, the whole city council and the mayor are incompetent.

  11. Terry Kinnas
    July 16, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

    Dan, a few more facts:
    From fy 10 thru fy15,according to the Department of Revenue the tax payers of Pittsfield have sent (net) to other communities in the county $14,935,613. Projected for fy15 $3,272,763.,about $1.00 plus on the tax rate. This means the property owner of a $175,000 tax assessed house is sending $175.00 to other school districts. This money mostly comes from all other city operational units, not the school department.

  12. Terry Kinnas
    July 16, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

    Dan, some more facts:
    From fy 10 to fy 15 the taxpayers of Pittsfield sent (net) $14,935,613, according to the Department of Revenue, (DOR) to other communities in Berkshire County for the lack of educational environmental awareness by Pittsfield City government. The money was for school choice and charter school tuitions. The amount for fy 15 is projected to be $3,272,763.(DOR) That is at least $1.00 on the tax rate. Simply translated, if you are a property tax owner of a house assessed at $175,000., you sent $175.00 to other communities in Berkshire County; most of this money came from the city side, NOT the school department which has never really addressed the problems.

    • Gene
      July 16, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

      This is another reason not to fund the $130 million new school. New building won’t solve what’s happening inside the building. As Terry says school dept has never addressed the problems.

  13. Jonathan Melle
    July 16, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

    Pittsfield politics sucks! Nothing good ever happens in Pittsfield! Over the past 3 decades, thousands of people have moved away from Pittsfield. Moreover, thousands of jobs have been lost in Pittsfield. And lost jobs are not coming back, Jack (Welch). Pittsfield politics is totally corrupt! It is an insider’s game that serves the special interests. Pittsfield is polluted with PCBs that causes cancer in thousands of local residents that Jack Welch’s GE left behind along with its rotting buildings the PEDA is demolishing. With all of these disturbing realities in Pittsfield, the Good Old Boys have been raising taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars, while senior citizens have to choose between housing and food. Pittsfield’s youth either leave town or end up on welfare with teen pregnancies doubling the statewide average in Pittsfield.
    The bottom line for any community is to ask: “Would the average middle class family want to live here?”
    In Pittsfield, the answer is obviously: “NO!”

    • levitan
      July 17, 2014 at 8:54 am #

      Disagree. I went fishing a few weeks ago and caught a 10 pound carp. A few days ago, at the same spot, a decent gentleman doing catch & release gave me two 9″ bluegills.

      Good things happen to me all the time in Pittsfield.

      • levitan
        July 17, 2014 at 8:54 am #

        Scott, when I preplan – I’ll give you a buzz.

        • Scott
          July 18, 2014 at 3:32 am #

          Rock n roll!