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OPEN MIC FIREWORKS BOTH OBSCURE AND HIGHLIGHT PROBLEM OF CITIZEN PARTICIPATION IN LOCAL GOVT. …

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By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, OCT. 29, 2014) — Fireworks opened the meeting last night of Our Right Honorable Good Friends on the Pittsfield City Council. We refer to the appearance of Pittsfield resident Craig Gaetani during the open mic session.

Gaetani, for those who know him, is “direct and forceful” in speech and manner. For those who don’t know him, he is “loud and abrasive.” Yes, we come back to beauty and the eye of the beholder. Overlooked is the valid point Gaetani had the courage to bring up: Why have the petitions he filed with the city council disappeared?

Why Does City Government Ignore Citizens?

THE PLANET has seen this ignoring of citizens in other administrations, but the foul practice has only increased under the current one. Petitions are referred under Rule 27 to the Phantom Zone. Other petitions end up in subcommittee, where they get buried better than a squirrel’s soup bone. Other just “disappear.” The sad fact is this: If you are an ordinary citizen of Pittsfield and you dare to petition the government you own, you risk suffering marginalization, humiliation, or worse. Some way for the politicians of Podunk to act, wouldn’t you say? It’s not the pot calling the kettle black. It’s the double amputee calling Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest human, a cripple.

From the open mic, Gaetani ripped council president Melissa Mazzeo for her recalcitrant dispositions of his petitions. Mazzeo was clearly agitated by the attack and sought to stifle him, but Gaetani would not be stopped. He kept talking. When he had finished, he asked Mazzeo if she was calling the police on him. She lost her cool, which is something the chair should never do. There are few “nevers” in politics, but that is one of them.

Regardless of whether Gaetani went over his time or not, his criticisms could have been handled with more aplomb by the council president. Discretion is often allowed with the three minutes, and it should have been in this case, no matter how stinging the rhetoric. Sure, no one likes being criticized, but that’s the nature of political office. As the late, great Aging Greek God Peter Arlos used to say, “It’s a public pissing post.”

Lost in the excitement was the point of citizens petitioning their government. It’s clear that The Bianchi Administration does not want citizens to be involved. TES‘ consistent record of secrecy, opaqueness, lack of transparency, and bullying of opponents makes that clear, and this uncivil, hostile manner has unfortunately trickled down into local offices run by employees and bureaucrats who live in fear of a tyrant.

Such treatment of citizens at the hands of local government is intolerable. THE PLANET doesn’t know what it will take to awaken the Sleeping Giant that is the electorate or even if it is possible. We know this — As long as this Administration continues to function unopposed with no accountability, it will continue to suppress freedom, spend taxpayers money on projects that benefit The Special Interests, and move the city toward the direction of insolvency.

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Enrollment Dips & MCAS Performance Too, So Let’s Build A New High School

For the first time in “the modern era,” enrollment in the Pittsfield public schools has plummeted below 6,000. The most recent figures show a little more than 5,800 students are in the system. That’s bad enough, but this being Pittsfield, there a “scam” angle to it.

THE PLANET learned from former school committee member Terry Kinnas that the city’s enrollment figures include 135 children in pre-school. As unbelievable as that sounds, it is true. Pre-K is counted toward the pupil population. This means the true K-12 figure approaches 5,600. That compares to the 12,000 figure of the late 1960s, just before Taconic High School was built. The city managed just fine with one high school. Double sessions may have been an inconvenience but not enough to hamper performance.

Speaking of which, the latest MCAS results (last spring’s testing) were the worst in memory. According to Kinnas, not one Pittsfield school met its improvement goals. THE PLANET got a laugh to learn, however, that several showed “improvement below target (IBT).” That’s the bureaucrat’s way of saying “They’re still getting Fs, but a better F.” It’s like getting the “Most Accomplished Loser” award.

In the background of all this, of course, is the $115 million new THS project (the final cost, as we all know, will come in much higher than that once the payoffs are made and the shakedown money is delivered). Pittsfield has have precipitously declining enrollment with worsening classroom performance, and yet a tiny group of Suits is rail-roading the unnecessary new school into reality as a “miracle cure.”

Folks, it ain’t bricks and mortar that determine learning. It’s the quality of teachers and students.

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Sabourin: Another “Half There’ Performance

Finally, THE PLANET shares this quick item from the council meeting. At the open mic session, Julia Sabourin, No. 2 in the corner office and the mayor’s chief boot licker, showed up with an announcement of eminent forgetfulness. It wasn’t what she said that counted. It’s what she didn’t say. When Sabourin gave her name, she did so correctly. When she gave her address, as all open mic speakers are requested to do, she listed her address as 190 Orchard Circle. That much is correct but she left out the city or town. That happens to be Richmond.

Yes, as THE PLANET exposed last week, Sabourin and her husband joined the long list of city department heads and managers who make their bread in Pittsfield but come 4 p.m. high-tail outta Dodge to various corners of the region. Between them, the Sabourins probably make $120,000 plus bennies on, from, and out of Pittsfield taxpayers, but they don’t love the city enough to want to live there.

“190 Orchard Circle.”

Woman, thy name is “Deception.”

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“I’ll tell you this. No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn.”Jim Morrison and The Doors, “Stoned Immaculate,” from The Immaculate Prayer album, (1978).

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

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Crash & Burn
Crash & Burn
6 years ago

PreK through 12 and the baby geniuses are not smart enough to hold a city department head job. So the city has to “import” them from out of town where they pay absolutely no taxes to the city of Pittsfield.

As the greatest generation passes and GE pensions and Social Security payments stop, Pittsfield will be left with indoctrinated morons to pay for the city’s extravagant spending spree while the homes they inherit are held hostage.

The irrate M. Mazzeo will not be told what to put on the agenda and Tony might box the ears of anyone who stands up to the Madame.

dusty
dusty
6 years ago

If Mr Gaetani worked for the city and talked like that Mrs Mazzeo could have had Mr Bianchi have the personnel director fire him.

The truth is that the citizens, who apparently don’t have the time or ambition to stand up for themselves, need a guy like Gaetani to get up and speak for them. He got their attention. Perhaps we should take up a collection and hire him as a citizen mouthpiece storm trooper.

Until more people get pissed off and start lining up at that podium the govt will continue to give us the finger. In fact that may be the bumper sticker Bianchi has if he runs for reelection.

Albert Prince
Albert Prince
Reply to  dusty
6 years ago

I have to agree. Mr. Gaetani’s approach woke them up. People listened. We need more of that..get in their faces and tell em what we want…my new slogan ‘Get Pissed’..

The Berkshire Hillbillies
The Berkshire Hillbillies
6 years ago

Swimming pools, movie stars.

Well the first thing you know Bianchi’s a millionaire
The kin folk say “Dan, move away from there”
Said Florida is the place ya outta be
So they loaded up the truck and moved to Kissimmee

Do the math
Do the math
6 years ago

Pittsfield city budget sits at 150 million per year.

70% of which goes to run the school system.
150 million X .7 = 105 million dollars just to run the schools.

5,600 students enrolled (discounting preK)

105 million ÷ 5,600 = 18,750 you pay every year per student.

grades 1-12 assuming little Johnny stays in school and completes his indoctrination.

18,750 X 12 = $ 225,000.00 dolars YOU pay to “educate” each one of these students.

$ 225,000.00 invested in a child whose only hope is to get a part-time job pouring coffee at Dunkin Donuts making $10,000.00 per year with no benefits, not being smart enough to land a city job.

What a bargin!

dusty
dusty
Reply to  Do the math
6 years ago

How much for one year at UMass? Or Duke?

and does your figure include buses? Health insurance? Pensions?

Ron Kitterman
Ron Kitterman
6 years ago

One possible solution to a speaker going over his or her time during the open microphone portion of the meetings is for the speaker to request of Council President an extension of remarks. With the posture of the speaker as follows, left hand to the side, snapping the heels together and stretching out the right hand and keeping it raised during the stirring words that follow. This is especially important when several important items are on the agenda like pay raises for the mayor or department heads.

Ed Shepardson
Ed Shepardson
6 years ago

You all find Mr. Gaetani’s performance acceptable?

Peregrine
Peregrine
Reply to  Ed Shepardson
6 years ago

Brilliant and then some.

T.O.M.
T.O.M.
Reply to  Ed Shepardson
6 years ago

I’d take him mayor over Bianchi any day of the week.

Phil Herup
Phil Herup
Reply to  Ed Shepardson
6 years ago

I thought he came off as a wack job.

Albert Prince
Albert Prince
Reply to  Ed Shepardson
6 years ago

Totally acceptable more than that, preferable.

joetaxpayer
joetaxpayer
Reply to  Ed Shepardson
6 years ago

Ed, I thought his “performance” was much better than the behaviour of our Mayor. He showed passion and concern for our once proud city.

Ed Shepardson
Ed Shepardson
Reply to  joetaxpayer
6 years ago

Then, Joe, why weren’t all of you Walking Dead Posters there to back him up? And do you have any video of the Mayor’s behavior as we do of Mr. Gaetani’s behavior or are you just getting your information second hand?

GeoSims
GeoSims
Reply to  danvalenti
6 years ago

Agree

Sparkie
Sparkie
Reply to  Ed Shepardson
6 years ago

Do you find Melissa Mazzeo’s performance acceptable?

Gatos
Gatos
Reply to  Sparkie
6 years ago

An impotent response to a mentally ill bully.

Peregrine
Peregrine
6 years ago

Dusty and Ron Brilliant.

dusty
dusty
6 years ago

Councilors Krol and Clairmont advocated for higher pay for the mayor reasoning that Pittsfield would get a more qualified person if the pay were higher. I feel that the large majority of people who run for mayor of Pittsfield do it for the power and the perks we never hear about. The mayor of Pittsfield controls a one hundred and forty plus million dollar budget and when you can steer a large portion of that in the right direction good things are going to happen for you.

Many of these people are backed with huge money just for the right to control that budget. Ruberto’s war chest dwarfed any and all that came before him. Read the tea leaves people.

Also, I think Mr Krol would like to raise it because he plans to be mayor someday soon. And if he is not thinking about the taxpayer now he won’t be then either.

J.R. Fein
J.R. Fein
6 years ago

Krol, Jlo, and anyone else who votef for the mayor’s pay raise has voted against fiscal sanity and taxpayers. Shame on them.

Bill Sturgeon
Bill Sturgeon
6 years ago

I believe that counting the pre-kindergarten children as pupils is appropriate. When children are not being prepared – at home – to attend kindergarten we – as society – have to step-in and try to correct the problem. The problem of young children not being prepared to attend school is part of a much larger societal issue. As a nation, I believe, that we must prepare our children to compete on global scale.

It is sad to see the “Greatest Generation” pass they made America what it is today. The won the WWII and then came home and built a “Middle Class” which in turned built America.

T.O.M.
T.O.M.
6 years ago

Krol is GOB, he just doesn’t like Melissa.

Lothrup always votes against the people. He scored a few points recently but he is not good for this city.

Clairmont likes to portray he is for the people yet his voting record shows he not. He has voted for every single budget and every tax increase set before him. He cannnot be trusted to do the right thing and should be voted out next go round along with the others and especially Bianchi.

Mike Ward
Mike Ward
6 years ago

I have to disagree with the Planet’s review of Mr. Gaetani’s performance last night. This isn’t a “beauty in the eye of the beholder” narrative; it’s more of a chicken-egg riddle. Does Mr. Gaetani behave this way because the city snubs him or does the city snub him because of the way he behaves? Of course it’s the latter, and you cannot separate the two things. It’s a mystery to no one else but the Planet why Mr. Gaetani’s petitions have been buried.

Mike Ward
Mike Ward
Reply to  danvalenti
6 years ago

Acting revolutionary is great during a revolution — not so effective when your goal is to land a multi-million dollar municipal contract.

Mad Trapper
Mad Trapper
Reply to  Mike Ward
6 years ago

Freedom must be renewed with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

Nota
Nota
6 years ago

T? O? M? Gets post of the day! The truth will set you free my man!

Lenny
Lenny
6 years ago

Dan,
My opinion is that Mr. Gaetani is a powder keg ready to explode. He appears very unstable and I fear that you may have given him a venue to pursue his paranoid thoughts.

Wait one moment before you discount me as one of those GOB’s who want to discredit him!

I have researched the literature on the water treatment systems of Dr. Lawrence Wang and have found no mention of Mr. Gaetani. Mr. Gaetani explodes on the scene with nothing more than a 30 year old photograph of himself and then Governor Dukakis at the water treatment plant and we are supposed to believe he is the expert?
I have tried to vet him out and can find nothing on this guy. Have you? Please provide us with his credentials, website links, company references etc.
His display at the city council meeting last night was not fireworks, it was scary. You need to be a more professional when you promote someone. This is not fair to your readers.

Ed Shepardson
Ed Shepardson
Reply to  Lenny
6 years ago

From the Utica, NY newspaper. 1985

“Craig Gaetani, Krofta marketing director,
said that the lawsuit will attempt to block
awarding of the bid.”

Bill Sturgeon
Bill Sturgeon
6 years ago

Dan: Let’s agree to disagree! There is no question that current educational system is in need of serious repair. The real problem is today, right now, there are 3,4,5,6, year old kids who do not know colors, basic shapes, or in some cases their last names. Immediate action is required. I think we can agree that it is going to take years to reform the current educational system.

I am still processing Mike Ward’s post about Mr. Gaetani (Chicken or Egg).

Before I forget say “Thanks” to Mr Valenti a member of the “Greatest Generation” for his serivce.

GeoSims
GeoSims
Reply to  Bill Sturgeon
6 years ago

Sooner or later we’re going to be taking care of them, I’d prefer it when they’re 3 and you have a chance vs 30 when they’re lost.

Mad Trapper
Mad Trapper
Reply to  Bill Sturgeon
6 years ago

You forgot they don’t know who are their Fathers are either.

Remember when most kids came home to a Mom AND a Dad? I won’t even go two having two of one but not one of the other.

Why have the schools declined even DEEPER? The rise of the AdminsTRAITOR! Who gobbles up huge sums of resources but produces VERY little. They tell the Teachers you can’t flunk little Johnny in 1st grade, then the incompetent student gets passed on as a burden to the school and his classmates.

Think about that.

Mad Trapper
Mad Trapper
Reply to  Mad Trapper
6 years ago

And yes I’d rather see a 20 year old graduate than a 15 year old drop out whom becomes a street Thug

joetaxpayer
joetaxpayer
6 years ago

I’d rather see students that want to learn, and want to be there. Not the government telling them they must stay in school.