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DO JIV, ‘LADY BOOTS,’ et. al. HAVE THE COURAGE TO RESPOND TO THE PLANET’S CHALLENGE? LET THEM SQUEAK UP

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BY DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI NEWS AND COMMENTARY

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, FEB. 1, 2016) — Being on the road and off the computer for a few days does wonders for the disposition. Working on books also Trumps many other ways of making a living (“Here’s another clue for you all …”).

Fortunately for readers of THE PLANET and viewers of PLANET VALENTI TELEVISION, we do not engage in these two activities for a living. We do it for fun, which we define as that interval between the arrival of the last mosquito and the leaving of the final itch. Yes, we have a lot of it. That being said, no one works harder, if you call exchanging words for dollar bills “work.” THE PLANET does.

Catching up on new and old business, THE PLANET heard reports of the school department taking our name in vain. That is all well and good, since it indicates THE PLANET has accomplished our mission of stimulating debate while exposing the policies of officials, particularly the ones they would rather you not know about.

The ‘Nasty’ Things

For example, we heard PSD superintendent Jason “Jake” JIV McCandless and Kathy “Lady Boots” Yon have been giving us much publicity about “the nasty things” we’ve been posting about the school department. Notice, however, neither Fred nor Ginger could dispute any of our facts. We wish they would, and we have invited these well-compensated non-sequiturs to specify where our coverage of the sainted PSD is in factual error. Needless to say, they ignored our requests. When the phone doesn’t ring, I know it’s JIV and Lady Boots not getting back to us.

However, THE PLANET is nothing if not persistent. We sent the following e-mail to the head honchos at the PSD. These would be JIV (jmccandless@pittsfieldch.net); Lady Boots (kyon@pittsfieldch.net); Kristen Behnke (kbehnke@pittsfieldch.net), assistant superintendent for business and finance; and Joe Curtis (jcurtis@pittsfieldch.net), deputy superintendent.  Here’s what we sent:

——– 000 ——–

JAKE and KATHY and KRISTEN and JOE:

I am issuing this invitation for all or any of you to:
1) appear as guests on my TV show and
2) comment on THE PLANET’s posting about the PSD.

You have been critical of my analyses, and I invite you to directly share your criticisms with my viewers and readers. I can get you on the show as early as this coming Thursday, Feb. 4, @ 7 p.m. If that is not convenient, I can do it on the first Thursday following that is convenient for you. This being the beginning of the budget season, the public would benefit from your appearances on the TV show and on the blog. You should be more than ready to defend past policies and current requests in the face of my questioning.

Let me know if you
A) Wish to be on the show and when and
B) Want to submit a comment or article for THE PLANET.

I look forward to the exchange,
Cordially,
DAN

——– 000 ——–

Do you like the “Bob and Ted and Carol and Alice” effect of our salutation? We thought you would.

THE PLANET, alone, has exposed the shell game behind the recently signed contract between taxpayers and the Pittsfield teachers as mediated by the school committee and the PSD administration. This was a contract that gave pay raises of 16.2% to 18.2% not just to Pittsfield public school teachers but also, to quote from the contract, to “guidance counselors, department heads, team leaders, unit leaders, head teachers, supervisors of attendance, coaches, librarians, media specialists, teachers of students with special needs, speech therapists, caseworkers, clinical social workers, in-hour suspension teachers, peer mediation counselors, certified ESL teachers, supervisors of vocational education, instructional technology specialists, evening school teachers, ABE teachers, TPP instructors, mentor teachers, school nurses, school nurse leader, occupational therapists, physical therapists, academic coaches, and extra-curricular personnel.”

The Suits tried to hide the actual pay raises by publicly referring only to the contract’s “1% cost-of-living raises.” They counted on the local mainstream media to accept the ruse. They didn’t count on this nosy, investigative reporter and his team digging out the documents that provided the true picture of the actual raises received by the more than 1,000 school department employees covered in this contract.

Not one of your school committee members did this digging or asked the tough questions: Not Lady Boots, Josh “Grandpa Munster Junior” Cutler, Pam “Venus Hum” Farron, Tony “Cop Out” Riello, Dan “Tommy’s Brother” Elias, or Cynthia “Don’t Call Me Andy” Taylor. Each of these “profiles in courage” pulled the ripcord and bailed out on you. Your “representatives” sold you down the Housatonic. Only THE PLANET represented you when it came to the dirty work.

So JIV, Lady Boots, Kristen, and Joe. Let’s go. Let’s have it out. Live and out in the open. What say?

—————————————————————————————

“Lay me on an anvil, O God. / Beat me and hammer me into a crowbar. / Let me pry loose old walls. / Let me lift and loosen old foundations.” Carl Sandburg, from “Prayers of Steel,” (1918).

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

The views expressed in any comment section are not those of PLANET VALENTI or endorsed in any way by PLANET VALENTI; this website reserves the right to remove any comment which violates its Rules of Conduct, and it is not liable for the consequences of any posted comment as provided in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and PLANET VALENTI’s terms of service.


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Dusty
Dusty
6 years ago

Dan, thank you for putting the pressure on the Pittsfield school system. Please keep it there. The deck is overwhelmingly stacked against the taxpayer as the school committee and their enablers (mayor and city councils) seem to hold all the cards. Perhaps by using this information system and getting the facts out to the people, who will hopefully pass them on to others, the people can get back into the game.

If it takes exposure and embarrassment then let us do it. And if the mayor is going to be a mayor of the people and advocate for fiscal responsibility she would become a hero in this town. I am hoping she will surprise me but those appointments have put me in serious doubt. They were moves a puppet mayor would make.

McCandless comes across as a player of the system,in it for his own personal gain. He needs to come on your show and answer to the people, unless of course he feels he is on shaky ground and might fall apart trying to explain that which cannot be explained. Until he does this he will be another puppet in the special interest group grabbing for goodies while using the children as fodder. If we have to we should start a petition. Why is he so afraid of Dan Valenti true life questions?

My outlook on the matter.

spagirl
spagirl
6 years ago

Every single individual on the School Committee should be held to the same for not doing their job. This is highway robbery and an agregious disservice to this Community.
When the Budget comes before the City Council, and McCandless starts his bait and switch game, he should be called out. A Salary of $175,000 irks me to no end and he needs a Deputy Superintendent. This is some kind of railroading.

Change
Change
6 years ago

I would like Mrs yon and Mr mccanless to give a 5 min speech on the pittsfield economy and try to avoid saying a new taconic is the answer to the pittsfield economy,just plain silly

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
6 years ago

Public school budgets are based on federal and state administered economic formulas. Pittsfield is dependent on federal and state aid due to its 70% poverty rate. The vested interests want more and more money for their bureaucracies. The taxpayers expect annual 5% tax hikes. It is a cycle of economic formulas, budgets, 70% poverty rate, vested interests, bureaucracies, taxpayers, 5% tax hikes!

Dusty
Dusty
Reply to  Jonathan Melle
6 years ago

I just read that Flint Michigan has only a 41 percent poverty rate. And look at this

In the mid-2000s, it became known its high crime rates.[Since this time, Flint has been ranked among the “Most Dangerous Cities in the United States”, with a per capita violent crime rate seven times higher than the national average.[13] The city was under a state of financial emergency from 2011 to 2015, the second in a decade.[14][15] It is currently in a public health state of emergency due to lead poisoning (and possibly Legionella) in the local water supply.[16]

On November 3, 2015, Flint residents elected Karen Weaver as their first female mayor.[17]

If poverty levels are correlated to where we are headed we need to start praying now. Are we the next Flint Michigan?

Southeast
Southeast
6 years ago

It was with great interest that I read this past weekend that Lenox has an INCREASE in enrollment and is keeping its budget flat. While reduced heating costs are a piece of the equation, they only have two relatively small buildings to heat and power. And, the reimbursement rate on choice students is below the cost to educate those kids.

So why can they keep a flat budget? For starters, they are reducing their head count based on the lower demand in a couple of grades. In fact, their Superintendent – while not explicitly saying that his job is less than full time, has been given the go ahead to apply to run the Lee Schools at the same time he runs Lenox’s schools.

Oh if the PSD would simply consolidate just 30% of the jobs that are over paid and underworked? The PSD threatens cuts if the budget increases (not cuts to the current budget mind you) happen. And we all know – 100% of those cuts will come in the classroom, inflicting maximum pain. Mercer will go untouched.

spagirl
spagirl
Reply to  Southeast
6 years ago

Responsible Fiscal Management. The right people steering the ship. Mr. Lee is a proven leader with a vision, and not afraid to make the changes needed to prevent problems before they become reality.

Pittsfield has not challenged the School Department and School Committee one bit on their irresponsible greed.

Johnny Dingo
Johnny Dingo
Reply to  spagirl
6 years ago

This what happens when special interests infest a city

Thomas More
Thomas More
6 years ago

Advice to JAKE and KATHY and KRISTEN and JOE from George Bernard Shaw:

“Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.”

Johnny Dingo
Johnny Dingo
Reply to  Thomas More
6 years ago

Except in this case it is pigs wrestling with hogs. Greedy hogs.

Rivetor
Rivetor
Reply to  Johnny Dingo
6 years ago

Yeah and what you’re calling the pigs are actually flying. Turns out Mr Valenti and Mr Kinnas aren’t pigs but B-52 bombers dropping incendiary and inconvenient truths on Jake and Kristen and Kathy and Joe.

Thank you Messers V & K for putting on the heat.

Southeast
Southeast
6 years ago

it is not all about corruption. if I LET you do what you want for many years, If I NEVER say no – who is really to blame? If I watch PSC meetings and hear the “rah rah rah, aren’t we great”, and never hear that folks not only choice out – but never start in the system based upon what they hear (not all of which is true – but a certain amount of it certainly is true). If I keep paying higher taxes to cover never ending budget increases. Who is really wrong here? We re-elected the same PSC we all compla9ina about. Could it be that folks who run who disagree with the status quo fear being tarred and feathered in public, and those who run and allow the chaos to continue3 simply have thick skins?

As a taxpayer, I need to hold my councilor to task for approving budgets that are ever expanding despite results that keep going the other way. But in my ward (3), we elected a guy barely able to sit at the teenager table, let alone the adult table for another term. I didn’t run, and wonder if I did run how I would be received and if the hassle is worth it.

despite the statistic JM has admitted is made up, we are not a City of 70% poverty. In fact, many retirees are quite well, off – but without kids in the system, they certainly do not want to see more spent on it either. The schools should be better. Systems with demographics similar to Pittsfield have school budgets that are less and results that are better. We need to replicate those systems.

We need to ask WHY the schools in Pittsfield are more chaotic. It is not just because the kids are poorer – it is because we seem to fear the chaos makers more than the consequences of the chaos (folks opt out and the ones opting out are the most motivated). But most of all we need to let the folks we elect know – that unending resources have not made things better – and since you can’t replace the whole team (a sports analogy), we need to replace the manager.

But I don’t see that happening. Instead, I will posit that the best option Pittsfield has is a State takeover of the schools. Then contracts can be ripped up, staff can be fired, and changes can be made as to how the schools are run.

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
Reply to  Southeast
6 years ago

I am NOT making these facts up about Pittsfield politics!
* All K – 6 public school students receive free lunches
* Pittsfield has very high per capita welfare caseloads
* Pittsfield has hundreds of not-for-profit social services agencies
* Pittsfield’s taxes increase by about 5% each and every year, while Pittsfield’s tax base is shrinking with losses in population, jobs, and businesses
* Sabic Plastics is closing its business in Pittsfield this year of 2016 and between 300 to 500 jobs will be lost
* The Berkshire Mall is losing businesses like Best Buy and Macy’s
* Pittsfield has seen mass shootings, murders, violent crime, drugs and gangs over the past year
* The Good Old Boys still run Pittsfield politics….into the proverbial ditch
* The vested interests receive the benefits, while the taxpayers bear the costs in Pittsfield
I could go on and on, but given all of these facts, I stand by my statement that the real poverty rate in Pittsfield is about 70%!
– Jonathan Melle

Southeast
Southeast
Reply to  Jonathan Melle
6 years ago

Some of Sabic’s job losses are people who live in other communities, and some folks have already found different jobs.

Same with mall jobs.

The school lunch’s are a function of when is it cheaper to feed the kids vs. do the paperwork – and the poverty rate is far less than 70% at that rate.

Everything else may point to a community that is not as healthy as it once was, but it still does not mean the poverty rate is 70%. There have been job losses throughout the County, gangs are everywhere as is addiction – and I bet that every Town in the County has its special interest groups and old boy networks, yet you are not claiming those communities are 70% poverty.

Your number is a made up number, based on conditions that don’t look good. But that does not make the number true. I listen to the scanner a lot. I also know that the PPD visits fewer than 20 addresses 75% of the time. They deal with the same small group of people over and over again. That is pretty true everywhere.

I have travelled all over this country, and it’s amazing how what we think is unique to our community seems to exist everywhere. That could be why Trump and Sanders have been surging to their respective parties and independent voters in popularity in the polls – they are telling us they will stem the downward slide.

SOL
SOL
Reply to  Southeast
6 years ago

SE, just wanted to add that even though some of Sabic’s employees are not Pittsfield residents, they still patronize Pittsfield businesses such as restaurants, grocery stores, other retail, gym memberships, etc. Sabic leaving has only one effect on Pittsfield and it’s all bad.

Southeast
Southeast
Reply to  SOL
6 years ago

absolutely true.

Paul
Paul
Reply to  Jonathan Melle
6 years ago

The Berkshire Mall is not in Pittsfield. Please define “mass shootings”.

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
Reply to  Paul
6 years ago

FACT!

“Two violent incidents — including a mass shooting — occurred in the span of a month in Pittsfield last summer [of 2015].”

“On the night of July 4 [2015], a mass shooting occurred on Linden Street in Pittsfield, injuring four and killing Ronald Pinel, 25, of Pittsfield. No arrests have been made in the case, and what sparked the dispute remains a mystery. The Pittsfield case is classified as one of the country’s 353 mass shooting incidents to date in 2015.”

SOURCE: “Here are Berkshire County’s top stories of 2015”, By Tony Dobrowolski, The Berkshire Eagle, December 26, 2015.

Shakes His Head
Shakes His Head
Reply to  Jonathan Melle
6 years ago

Eagle said it, must be true!

Roberto Del Halitoso
Roberto Del Halitoso
6 years ago

What do you say Jake and Kathy? Will you two go on a local show where you’re not treated with kid gloves? Will you face the taxpayers?

Planet posters can you send a respectful email or make a polite phone call to these two? It’s time to face the city.

Change
Change
6 years ago

Your correct,they have never been challenged,we always have to thank educators who don’t respect your labor that pays them….Mr mccanless please speak to pittsfields economy from the viewpoint of your 157,000 economy

Change
Change
6 years ago

Mrs yon please speak to the failed pittsfield economy, tell us where you believe the money is printed….your killing small business

Change
Change
6 years ago

It’s all about who you hire,crosby school had a failed leader…watch who gets this position, very important that her assistant does not walk into this job

Roberto Del Halitoso
Roberto Del Halitoso
6 years ago

Here is our School Building Needs Commission. Some of these people are not residents of Pittsfield. Who among them has the least bit of technical expertise? As has been said they will buy pet rocks at 1mil each.

2015-2016
School Building Needs Commission (up to 21 members)
Contact Information:
Jake McCandless, Superintendant
(413) 499-9512, jmccandless@pittsfield.net
Mayoral Appointments (11 members)
Linda M. Tyer, Mayor serves as long as
qualified John M. Krol, Jr. May 13, 2014 May 13, 2016
Melissa Mazzeo May 13, 2014 May 13, 2016
Floriana Fitzgerald, DCD May 13, 2014 May 13, 2015
Ellen Kennedy May 13, 2014 May 13, 2016
Ozias (Chuck) Vincelette May 13, 2014 May 13, 2016
Warren Dews, Jr. November 12, 2014 November 12, 2015
Carmen Massimiano November 12, 2013 November 12, 2015
Patrick J. Mele, Jr. May 11, 2010 April 23, 2016
Colleen Hunter-Mullett, Purchasing Agent April 23, 2013 serves as long as
Kathleen Archey Amuso February 10, 2015 qualified February 24, 2018
Ann Mottley September 8, 2015 March 10, 2018
David Allen January 13, 2015 May 22, 2016
Denis Guyer, Director of Maintenance serves as long as
School Committee Appointee qualified serves as long as
Kathy Yon, School Committee Member qualified
School Superintendent Appointees (8 members)
Jason P. McCandless, Superintendant serves as long as
qualified John Vosburgh (Professional staff) serves as long as
Rich Brady (Professional staff) qualified serves as long as
Frank LaRagione (Parent) qualified serves as long as
qualified Lori Kays (Parent) serves as long as
qualified Louis Higuera serves as long as
qualified Shea Hassett (Student) serves as long as
qualified Dr. William Travis

Roberto Del Halitoso
Roberto Del Halitoso
Reply to  danvalenti
6 years ago

kudos to him

Southeast
Southeast
Reply to  Roberto Del Halitoso
6 years ago

Who on the committee is not a City resident?

Roberto Del Halitoso
Roberto Del Halitoso
6 years ago

How many of the people serving on these boards and commissions are not residents of Pittsfield?

http://www.cityofpittsfield.org/pittsfield/city_hall/city_clerk/uploads/Boards_and_Commissions_Roster.pdf

Johnny Dingo
Johnny Dingo
Reply to  Roberto Del Halitoso
6 years ago

Can you say, “stacked deck?”

southeast
southeast
Reply to  Roberto Del Halitoso
6 years ago

on this list, I found at least two dead people (Gerry Miller and Jim Mooney) and a huge number of people whose terms have expired. The fair housing committee has three people, two of whom are City employees, the Mobil Home Rent Control Board has three members who are City Councilors or employees out of five. It seems like too many people on these “committees” or Boards or Commissions are really serving the needs of Government first – and the people second. Of course the dead people serve no one. I wonder how often this list is reviewed for accuracy, term expiration, or a pulse (literally) to ensure it is ctive and conducting the business it was formed to oversee?

Roberto Del Halitoso
Roberto Del Halitoso
Reply to  southeast
6 years ago

The mayor has assured us that Pittsfield is vibrant and dynamic…….I guess that goes for our dead too.

Irvin Corey
Irvin Corey
6 years ago

Have you noticed how many individuals in schools of all levels, are
called coach. Coach this and coach that . Consider for a moment this-
Lew Markham was a coach at BCC for years. If you watch his tv show,
you will see that he is barely capable of stringing together, two
coherent sentences. How do you think professors of Engineering and
the Sciences, at the college, feel about Markham getting the same
salary and retirement benifits as he gets. We now look up to coaches
with the same regard as we do phycians and scientists. Remember also,
that the Kardashians are idolized by more than half the population of
the US. What they make in one minute is more than most who post here
make in a life time. Our value system is so far out of wack in this
country that it is doubtfull we will ever recover. An even scarrier
thought is that these same brainkess as- —– wil choose all the
politicians in America. Look what they deliverd us in the last city
election. I am glad that Iam going and not coming as I don’t think I
can stand much more of this insanity.

Frank Klein
Frank Klein
Reply to  Irvin Corey
6 years ago

Bye Bye Irv! Don’t let the door hit you in the butt.

LoneGunMan
LoneGunMan
Reply to  Irvin Corey
6 years ago

What’s another name for a bad teacher? “coach”

That joke is as old as the asbestos in PHS

southeast
southeast
Reply to  Irvin Corey
6 years ago

isn’t the word “coach” code for $3500 extra in your pay?

Diacreet Cat
Diacreet Cat
6 years ago

One of the Attorneys, representing one of the staff members at Shawshank, said his client was assaulted 240 times while at Shawshank for four months. Now that’s rough working conditions!

Pat
Pat
Reply to  Diacreet Cat
6 years ago

Who would stay working in a job after that many assaults? That makes no sense.

Roberto Del Halitoso
Roberto Del Halitoso
Reply to  Diacreet Cat
6 years ago

What the heck are you referring to?

Change
Change
6 years ago

Mayor tyer ,yon ,amuso,mazzeo, ellias need to speak about pittsfield ma economy. …..tyer was talking to my neighbor aND never told him his taxes are going up 300 dollars. …Bianchi lite is not going to get her elected again

amandaWell
amandaWell
6 years ago

Ordinance and Rules grades: Mazzeo A
White A
Marchetti A
Krol A
Caccamo A
The Clerk A

Jerry
Jerry
Reply to  amandaWell
6 years ago

Sorry Ms. Well,

Correction:

White – F

Local Yokel
Local Yokel
6 years ago

planet plainsman.