(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY FEB. 8, 2017) — In some places, citizens get a say in important financial matters. Not in Pittsfield.

When The Suits rigged the game to approve a $121 million new Taconic High School, a key part of the scheme included blocking citizens from the game. Politicians and local Big Shots gathered in secret to stuff the School Building Needs Commission with those who a priori had their minds made up to approve the project. Neither Mayor Linda Tyer, Peter Marchetti and the city council, nor Kathy Yon and the co-opted Pittsfield School Committee raised a question, and the big-bang project passed without a whimper.

Throughout this ordeal, THE PLANET, alone among local media, spoke up for We The People. We did so in two ways: First, we pointed out the cost. With the highest proportional tax rates in the state, huge debt obligations, and a dying economy, the last thing the Pittsfield could afford was a large, new building, one that will be under-maintained. Second, the project made no sense given a faltering school department, a drop in student enrollment, and more than $5 million lost each of the past two years to school choice.

When we managed to around public indignation by exposing the sheme, The Suits countered by scheduling public meetings at times and in places where the ordinary, working public could not attend. Not one public official demanded that this important a matter be subject to a popular vote. They were afraid of Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski.

They don’t trust you. They haven’t for 30 years.

It’s nice, though, to see this shaming of democracy doesn’t hold throughout Berkshire County. For example, when the Central Berkshire Regional School District talked about addressing the needs of Dalton’s Wahconah Regional High School, it joined the Wahconah Building Project Committee in insisting to put the matter to a popular vote.

That ray of plebiscitic sunshine hasn’t been glimpsed in Pittsfield since Peter Arlos uttered his final syllables from Mount Olympus. Central Berkshire officials, more enlightened than their totalitarian counterparts in the county seat, agreed to send the measure before the seven towns comprising the district. They are Becket, Cummington, Dalton, Hinsdale, Peru, Washington, and Windsor.

Beacon Hill Hacks Vote Their Own Huge Pay Raise

Meanwhile, the well-heeled hacks in the Massachusetts Legislature voted themselves enormous pay raises. These bums are overpaid as it is. You know that. THE PLANET knows that. They know that. Nonetheless, given the power of the ultimate financial jerk-off, the jokers approved raises for every member of the 40-person senate and the 160-hack house. The House approved 115-44, Senate 30-9.

The raise will cost Bay State taxpayers $18 million.

Angry yet?

All 18 Democrats serving Western Massachusetts voted for the raises. The four Republicans voted against. Berkshire County reps Gail “School Marm” Cariddi, Tricia Farley Country-Bouvier, Paul “Off The” Mark, and Smitty Pignatelli voted YES to help themselves to more of taxpayers’ money.

Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed the measure, but the Legs overrode. The measure includes two provisions that give cynicism a bad name. The first makes the pay increases immediate, going against the usual practice of delaying it until the current session concludes to avoid the tawdry matter of voting it for themselves. Second, by including judicial salaries in the pay hikes, the Legislature makes the raises immune from a citizens’ initiative petition.

The only possible hope for ordinary citizens and taxpayers is … wait, there is no hope. This is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This is Berkshire County. This is Pittsfield.

——– 000 ——–

Be sure to catch THE PLANET with new content each week in Pittsfield’s finest weekly, The Berkshire Courier, available at many locations throughout the city and county.


“Ninety percent of the politicians give the other 10 percent a bad reputation.”Henry Kissinger



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  1. Nota
    February 7, 2017 at 7:44 pm #

    Great Show tonight Dan, you the man!

  2. Pat
    February 7, 2017 at 9:43 pm #

    The feeling is mutual. They don’t trust us and we most definitely DO NOT trust them. Great way to run a city and a state.

    • Jonathan Melle
      February 7, 2017 at 9:55 pm #

      That is what happens when one political party controls the government. They become self-serving and take care of themselves. Politicians are more like bureaucrats because they follow orders and get rewarded for their loyalty to the top-down power-brokers.
      What bothers me about the 2nd legislative pay raise override vote this year is that William “Smitty” Pignatelli spent months telling municipal governments to make financial sacrifices by consolidating personnel and public services in the name of the hard-hit local taxpayers. Then, Smitty Pignatelli turns around and votes in favor of $18 million per year worth of state government personnel pay raises for himself and his colleagues. That is the definition of hypocrisy! Do as I say, not as I do!
      Then you have state Sen. Adam Hinds, whose first vote is for a second legislative pay raise. He put his political interests above the taxpayers. It is not a good sign for how he will govern on behalf of Western Massachusetts.
      From what I understand, the legislative pay raises are more about their state government pensions than their paycheck. When Stan Rosenberg and Bob DeLeo retire, they will cash in on 6-figure pensions funded by Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski.
      – Jonathan Melle

  3. Jonathan Melle
    February 7, 2017 at 9:44 pm #

    The lovely Linda Tyer is featured in a news article about Pittsfield politics.

    I like her optimistic outlook for Pittsfield. She is a good Mayor. I always thought she was very intelligent and she believes in Pittsfield.

    She believes in collaboration. She wants to revitalize the community through reinventing Pittsfield from a blue collar GE town of the past to a “a robust cultural economy” that makes up the beautiful Berkshires. Downtown Pittsfield is now thriving with theaters, the arts, restaurants, and small businesses. Thousands of tourists have visited Pittsfield and the investments paid off. Pittsfield retained local companies like Covanta, which extended its contract until 2020. She wants to make Pittsfield a community young adults and families want to live in. She supports business development on Tyler Street. She supported the Community Preservation Act, which funds historic preservation, recreation, open space, and housing projects. Pittsfield is redefining its image that will attract economic development and growth.

    • Pat
      February 7, 2017 at 10:06 pm #

      She is all for supporting business development on Tyler Street, but not a Walmart. The business development never seems to happen anywhere in the city not just Tyler Street. The Community Preservation Act is just another tax. North Street is not thriving because most people in the city can’t even afford to shop there. Catering to tourists is only successful during the summer not during the long cold winters.

      • Shakes His Head
        February 7, 2017 at 11:07 pm #

        Clearly you don’t go to A Mart. Best subs in town and looks to me like everyone can afford to shop there.

        • Dean
          February 8, 2017 at 9:13 am #

          Matt you just dont get it

  4. 12 Gauge
    February 7, 2017 at 9:51 pm #

    Yeah, we really need all the vibrant and dynamic collaboration we can get. We are the buzz phrase place to be. It’s happening.

    • Jonathan Melle
      February 7, 2017 at 10:01 pm #

      I have written and posted my disagreements with the lovely Linda Tyer’s public record on Dan Valenti’s blog, but overall, she is doing a lot of good things for Pittsfield. Just like Dan Valenti praises Prez Donald Trump for being a man of action, I praise Mayor Linda Tyer for being a woman of action. I like her vision for and investments in Pittsfield’s future.
      GE is long gone. Pittsfield needs to change. She is bring positive change to Pittsfield!
      – Jonathan Melle

  5. Shakes His Head
    February 7, 2017 at 11:05 pm #

    So the popular vote is only good when it gains you what you desire. Maybe congress should just make every decision a national referendum?

    • Dean
      February 8, 2017 at 9:14 am #

      matt why so negative

  6. The School Committee
    February 8, 2017 at 1:13 am #

    It never stops and word is more new positions be added as school administration won’t speak about how will Pittsfields 125,000,000 new high school be maintained.The custodial department with only 40 positions maintain 1.2 million square feet of student eviroment.It is irresponsible to just have 7 people cleaning this new investment that at a minimum need 15 people to do the job .
    The position of custodial director is not needed with principles calling all the shots concerning personel
    The business department has 9 people in it and the head of the 9 people makes 120 k per year.We need school consolidations as central berkshire did last year.
    I believe it would be a good idea if Mrs Behnke would reach out to the business department head at Central and ask her for help putting a budget together.Mr Mccandless could ask the School department head how he consolidated schools.

  7. The School Committee
    February 8, 2017 at 1:21 am #

    Chicopee real estate tax is 2 .50 cents per thousand cheaper than Pittsfield with median income 15 k more per household.Pittsfield ma is a poor small city in the poorest County in the state of Ma.
    .Why is Bouvier not around getting companies to come to Pittsfield.We are being talked about as the Chicago of the East as gunfire is normal.

    • Pat
      February 8, 2017 at 6:37 am #

      Bouvier is too busy getting big raises for her bosses in Boston and travel expense increases for herself.

  8. Ron Kitterman
    February 8, 2017 at 2:24 am #

    The last time a Republican served as speaker was 1954 when their party lost majority .
    Charles Flaherty Democratic 1991 – April 9, 1996 Cambridge (27th Middlesex) Resigned: pleaded guilty to tax evasion
    Thomas Finneran Democratic April 9, 1996 – September 28, 2004 Mattapan (12th Suffolk) Resigned due to allegations of perjury and obstruction of justice
    Salvatore DiMasi Democratic September 28, 2004 – January 27, 2009 Boston (3rd Suffolk) Resigned: convicted of conspiracy, honest services fraud, and extortion
    Robert DeLeo Democratic January 27, 2009 – Present Winthrop (19th Suffolk) Current Speaker – He was the one who told us he wasn’t a hack and would only serve 1 term

  9. heh heh
    February 8, 2017 at 4:34 am #

    It certainly reinforces my opinion that personal greed is a determining factor in why many people get into politics. You see examples of it everyday at all levels of government and you only see the 10% that they have not been able to cover up.

    There is actually a board game called Lie, Cheat and Steal which revolves around politicians and government.

    • Pat
      February 8, 2017 at 6:33 am #

      Yes, personal greed is why so many get into politics which is why we MUST HAVE small government not large government like the Progressives want. It’s the ONLY way to even attempt to keep the government corruption under control.

  10. John Grogan
    February 8, 2017 at 5:39 am #

    Wait a second Dan…didn’t the Taconic project get rammed through under Bianchi’s reign? Or am I off in my time frame? I think that was before Ms. Tyer.

    • h
      February 8, 2017 at 6:44 am #

      And where is he now J G ?

    • Dean
      February 8, 2017 at 9:14 am #

      JG, Matt’s new alt

    • danvalenti
      February 8, 2017 at 9:25 am #

      Actually, the project began in 2005. It was kept alive (simmering on the back burner) until Dan Bianchi got in. That’s when all the gears aligned correctly: Dan as mayor, Amuso at large, Yon school committee chair, and just the right people on the SBNC. Linda Tyer was city clerk and on record in favor of the project. In her campaign for mayor against Bianchi, when the matter still could have been put forward for a plebiscite, she was still in favor. She had the power to halt the project until the people had a vote, but she chose not to do so.

      • Shelly Liver
        February 8, 2017 at 9:35 am #

        Less we forget Tricia, Dan?

      • John Grogan
        February 8, 2017 at 5:55 pm #

        Got it…I am rather unstuck in time’ always have been, so I appreciate the time line. Guess she does share some culpability on not giving the people a voice then.

  11. Pat
    February 8, 2017 at 7:08 am #

    Don’t forget February 13th at 6 PM at Herberg Middle School is the meeting for the resettlement of 50 refugees here in Pittsfield. Mayor Sarno in Springfield is fighting for his city to not take in refugees from this same agency that wants to bring them here. He says Springfield is an extremely poor area and he doesn’t want more and more poor people dropped into that community. Sound familiar? Pittsfield also being a poor community. Never mind the security issues which is a real concern, but these refugees will also add to the poverty in the city. Read the article on MassLive about the fight in Springfield.

    • danvalenti
      February 8, 2017 at 9:22 am #

      Thanks for this reminder:
      MONDAY 6 p.m. FEB. 13 Herberg Middle School: Meeting on Pittsfield as home city for 50 Syrian refugees. Mayor Sarno stood up for his city (Springfield). What will Mayor Tyer do?
      Folks, attend this meeting and let your voice be heard.

      • Shakes His Head
        February 8, 2017 at 9:32 am #

        The most recent article can be found here:

        And Mayor Sarno is not fighting against refugees because of the false “security issues”, but he is asking legit questions about making sure any refugees have an appropriate and compassionate quality of life – something he feels has not happened in the past. If his statements are true, I would agree.

        • Dean
          February 8, 2017 at 2:16 pm #

          Matt no he isnt

      • Bill Q
        February 8, 2017 at 9:37 am #

        if Tyer wants them Federal Dolla’s she’ll be front and Center, Daycare Dolla’s are on the Horizon.

      • Thomas More
        February 8, 2017 at 11:33 am #

        Mayor Tyre sees it as an opportunity. Fifty families, four per family, 200 people, how can we turn that deal down. You going to be there Dan?

        • danvalenti
          February 8, 2017 at 1:37 pm #

          I shall be there through my spies. That’s how I cover most everything. Except the Super Bowl. That one’s done in person!

      • 12 Gauge
        February 8, 2017 at 2:08 pm #

        If they do the write your questions on a card charade you’ll know the fix is in. They’ll only answer questions that they themselves want to answer. The questions the audience writes are put in a mason jar on Funk and Wagnels back porch.

    • Joe Blow
      February 8, 2017 at 3:33 pm #

      What the F. is this mayor thinking? We have so many problems here already without bringing in more. The left has gone “Full Retard”…………..

  12. LoneGunMan
    February 8, 2017 at 7:57 am #

    Don’t forget Adam Hinds voted for the pay raise as well. He deserves it after a few months of hobnobbing

    • Question Markey
      February 8, 2017 at 6:57 pm #

      Isn’t new state senator Hinds’ sister married to a wealthy political insider whose construction company receives almost all the state and municipal contracts in the Berkshires ? Simply asking confirmation of a rumor.

  13. Ghidora
    February 8, 2017 at 11:27 am #

    That’s the whole issue with MA politics. One party – the Dems – have huge majorities in the house and senate so there are no checks and balances, and the Governors vetoes are meaningless. More qualified, not too far to the right Republicans need to run for office.

  14. The School Committee
    February 8, 2017 at 12:01 pm #

    The direction of Pittsfield taxpayers over the next 3 month will be the direction forever.It’s truly in the hands of Marchetti and how he handles a dept head call mccandless who took him to the woodshed last year,spanked him and sent him on his way.
    That is one mean bad attitude bunch of administrators as Curtis dishes on data.They are incompetent and are responsible for maintaining your 125 million dollar building with 6 men.Please as a first question ask them have they even considered staffing this 1st class new tech building with appropriate amount of people to care for it.They will tell you it’s sufficient for a 250,000 square feet of space.If this council is true to its word they will be questioning school budget s for many hours.

    • joetaxpayer
      February 8, 2017 at 6:29 pm #

      New school same size as old one.

  15. The School Committee
    February 8, 2017 at 12:03 pm #

    Who makes up the 650k the Hilton owes.

  16. Bill Q
    February 8, 2017 at 12:12 pm #

    Marchetti doesn’t know how to figure it out?

  17. CosbiesLadies
    February 8, 2017 at 12:25 pm #

    Is it me or has certain councilor’s year after year say the previous budget,would be a difficult budget session,but this year will be more difficult? Really, really? This might be a quote that layed the golden egg. When the school debt comes, we’ll all know what the word debt service means.

    The consultant that was brought in was a waste of taxpayer money. He was here to verify how much debt we are in? Gee, didn’t know that and wonder if the C C or Mayor knew that, well the Mayor knew, that’s why taxes were raised five percent.

  18. Shelly Liver
    February 8, 2017 at 12:38 pm #

    The City is intent on not raiding the reserves to pay for line item deficits. How do they get. The will they get revenue for any deficits? Well they could call back tax break, or get a half million for a boiler, don’t hold your breath.

    • heh heh
      February 8, 2017 at 1:43 pm #

      Was there a recent blip suggesting that the snow removal budget was almost busted? And now we have back to back storms requiring mucho man hours and many buckets of salt. If we make a huge deal over it it may soften taxpayer concerns when we sock it to their wallets.

  19. Miss Vito
    February 8, 2017 at 1:05 pm #

    I get’ it?

  20. The School Committee
    February 8, 2017 at 2:41 pm #

    Marchetti needs to just ask Mccandless did you consider custodial staffing this year to keep our high school looking like a 1st class investment.

  21. mi
    February 8, 2017 at 3:12 pm #

    How many custodians for that school?

  22. Trumped Up
    February 8, 2017 at 5:31 pm #

    I Remember Mr. O’Brien doing the whole school. Twent FIve srudents each class, eight classes and the slow kis, so nine.

    • acheshirecat
      February 8, 2017 at 6:56 pm #

      That was before the union. They would make him slow down and take mandatory breaks today.

  23. mi
    February 8, 2017 at 5:42 pm #

    I’d like the press who go to these City and School meetings to be able to ask questions at these meetings?

    • EddieP
      February 8, 2017 at 6:41 pm #

      What press???

  24. mi
    February 8, 2017 at 6:01 pm #

    Has anyone noticed the large number of pot holes in the City? Their Baaaack!

    • acheshirecat
      February 8, 2017 at 7:11 pm #

      Wait until after the expected storm. The recent rain will get into cracks and freeze slightly pushing up the blacktop making it uneven. It may also push up patches from a previous quick fixes. The plows will hit those spots a few times making new bigger potholes. Time to rev up the Cities’ Willy Wonka Pothole Mobile.

  25. May Hemm
    February 8, 2017 at 6:47 pm #

    Nordstrom’s is canceling Ifunka Trump’s fashion line, that is total bull.

    • Pat
      February 8, 2017 at 6:56 pm #

      So sad that these stores are ganging up on Trump’s daughter. We know the group of people behind this. Macy’s may be next. Since when is picking on a president’s offspring right? If this was a Democrat president’s daughter, Lizzie Warren and her goons would be all over this. Not to mention Hillary and all of Hollywood would be screaming about putting down women. The hypocrisy is stunning.

  26. H
    February 8, 2017 at 7:19 pm #

    You know you’re in Pittsdield When:

    You see baby carriages strolling down North St in the middle of winter

    The Animal Control Commission Meetings get more done than the City Council

    You build a school without a vote by it’s Citizens

    A new elected official starts with a 40 percent pay raise doesn’t seem to urgent

    A five percent tax increase is the norm

    Free cash is used to pay teachers contracts

    The Police Chief is still an acting Chief

    Jaywalking is the norm

    Loitering is the norm

    Bad drivers and violators are the norm

    City Council amd Mayor’s spending is the room

    Free Boilers are the rom

    T I F are the norm

    A seasonal Lake at Wahconah Park

    Flooding after a summer rain storm on Center and West

    Pot holes come back eventually

    Streets are dim lighted

    Woman come back battered after a summer’s night bait ride

    The fresh smell of second hand Cigarette Smoke

    Homeless sleep in Hotel doorways

    People get shot frequently

    Gangs are here

    People live in fear

    Old ladies get handcuffed

    • danvalenti
      February 8, 2017 at 7:51 pm #

      That’s quite the list. Sadly accurate, we must say.

      • H
        February 8, 2017 at 8:03 pm #

        Unfortuately Dan, this is a very small example.

  27. Miss Vito
    February 8, 2017 at 7:22 pm #

    mispelling is the rom.

  28. H
    February 8, 2017 at 8:06 pm #

    Whoever heard of a Permanent Acting Police Chief. Make him the Chief for peanuts sake.Mayor wants to lead, start there.

  29. VillageKnight
    February 12, 2017 at 12:00 pm #

    People! There is a City Council meeting on February14,2017
    at 7 pm. -they will discuss Sanctuary City proposed by “activist” lawyer, Renaldo DelGallo3rd (hired by Tricia) Also, they will push new garbage tax by Nicholas Caccamo.
    Stay tuned for Berkshire Eagle Announcement by Mr. G.–very soon.

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