Too Far? Sir, You Must be in Jest! ‘Tis Not Gone Far Enough

The pen has been the most potent weapon in the fight for truth.

In the past week, The Planet has heard from a couple Establishment pols who are basically saying we’ve gone overboard in our criticisms of the corrupt Speranzo campaign. This tells us, of course, that we are having an effect. We are no hiding our intention: to cost him this election on the basis of snubbing We The People. We will do it with words and wits. The pen is mightier than …

Our aim at THE PLANET is to hold public officials ACCOUNTABLE. If they act honorably, they’ll get no quarrell. If they do stuff like pull a larkin, as Spurs is evidently scheming, they will be held to their actions (and in his case, inactions).

As for those who say the attacks went too far, see my response below to State Rep. Denis Guyer. This is cyberspace, people. This isn’t hippity-hop-to-the-barber shop. Freedom is not license, and The Planet is the first to agree. Freedom, however, means that opinion and commentary based on fact (as ours is), must hit hard, hit fairly, his truly, and hit often.

We invoke the great journalistic tradition of Ambrose Biece and H.L. Mencken, as well as the sharpest wits of political satire, in bringing some transparency to any and all skunkery.

Too far? Good heavens, Sir. We have yet begun to move! Our goal: Nothing less than to reclaim help reclaim participatory democracy for the good people of Pittsfield.


Conor Berry, the Eagle’s best enterprise scribe, reported today that 3rd Berkshire District Rep. Chris “No Show” Speranzo has yet another ethical problem on his hand. The Planet has lost count.

This one involves Spurs’ wife, who belongs to a law firm that also employs an attorney who just happens to sit on the board that approves the next clerk magistrate. Spurs, as you know, is, according to insiders, a candidate for the position.

Don’t you love the nature of this beast? Clerk magisrate, a leftover position from the time of Paul Revere and before that Demosthenes, is a no-work job that pays $150K per year (counting bennies). The appointment is for L-I-F-E. However, despite the fact that it’s a public job, everything about the nominating and approval process is, by law, entirely S-E-C-R-E-T. You have no right, by law, to know who applied or how and why the winner is selected. Consequently, the shadowy process is rife with corrupt politics. This, apparently, is an area in which Spurs feel comfortable. You might say he’s in his element there.

Because the secrecy is not only protected by law, it allows everyone to hide behind “no comment.” Again, Spurs must like that part of it.

A reply to The Planet’s previous entry suggested that Spurs should resign his seat in the legislature and withdraw his name from consideration for clerk mag. The Planet thinks this is the only honorable course left for our Right Honorable Good Friend.

Denis Guyer Weighs in on Spurs Problems

Denis Guyer

We asked our good friend Denis Guyer, 2nd Berkshire District rep, for his take on Speranzo’s difficulties. We had this Facebook exchange, which we share with our readers in the name of openness and transparency. First, his criticisms of The Planet, then, our reply. Draw your own conclusions:

Denis Guyer October 29 at 12:22pm Report

I have not looked, but in my nearly decade in office; six in the legislature and three years on Dalton Select Board, I do not think I have ever said “no comment” to a reporter. I have commented on stories that were poltically touchy, I have commented on stories that were personally hard, I even commented on stories that I knew were going to cause me problems in my district- but I always communicated to the press and I always did so out of respect for the press/elected official relationship and becuase I felt that the reporter was being professional, just doing their job.

But I have to say that last night I looked at your blog about Representative Speranzo and I was shocked and disturbed with what I saw there. It is one thing, and I guess expected that a political journalist would have strong opinions about the situation. But to see you, a veteran journalist, author, commentator- someone who I may not always agree with, but have a great deal of respect for, writing things that were not about the issue, but about someone’s physical appearance????? I was floored. I think as someone (like many people) who constantly struggles with trying to maintain a healthy weight I took your comments very personally. Why did you have to do that?

Is it possible that you were/are personally offended that Chris did not attend your debate? Is it possible that your acidic personal attack on him was about that?
SO no, I am not going to comment to you other than to say I am not privy to any of the information. Under the confidentiality of the JNC process, Chris could not even comment to me or confirm he applied anyway. I do not live in Pittsfield, I am not a Pittsfield voter. I have no comment about Chris and his district anymore than I would for any other legislator.
I have spoken with Chris about once a week, but our conversations are mostly about personal matters and other legislative related topics. We do not discuss this issue. Like, I imagine I will call him today -as a friend- trying to make him feel a little better after your bullshit -personal attack-blog post.
Get it together Dan, I think you are better than this.


Thanks. Obviously, we have a difference of opinion here, which is OK. I am not in the least personally offended by what Chris has done or not done, because this is not about me. This is about the election, the electorate, and owning up to his responsibilities as an elected official. He has failed miserably in these areas. He has not even said, “no comment.” That, at least, is saying something.

Shocked and disturbed at what you saw there? Mission accomplished, because I would argue that it is far more shocking and disturbing for a representative in the general court to totally ignore the electorate and play the cynical “four-corner offense” against Mark Miller.

The anger comes from the electorate, not me, and Chris picked a bad time to become a poster boy for dysfunctional politics. As for the bringing physical appearance into it, that is a long-standing tradition of hard-hitting political commentary. It once was fair-use for such scribes as Ambrose Bierce, became reserved for editorial cartoonists in the hey day of modern print journalism, and now has become, again, fair use in cyberspace.

I never dispute how someone chooses to react to something I say or write. That’s not my job. My job is to provoke with words and ideas. It’s clear, since you say so, that you took it personally, the same thing you suspected I was doing with Chris. I wasn’t. You did.

I assure you, my attack wasn’t about not attending my debate but about not attending two forums that would have allowed people to ask questions about his surreptitious behavior in connection with running for re-election and not making clear his intentions should he be named clerk mag.

When you talk to Chris, tell him he can still make an appearance with me and Clarence Fanto. All he has to do is tell us when and where, and well take care of the how.

Thanks for your honest upbraiding. I can respect that,


Getting a break from swamp politics, we present The Planet’s Top 5 Halloween costumes:

1. Going as a vampire. The undead have long-standing appeal. It’s the immortality thing, still resonating deeply in our collective unconscious as seen in “Twilight”

2. For women, Sexy Cop. For men, Bank Robber. For once, she gets the bust. Handcuffs not optional.

3. Skeleton, going back to The Planet’s fabulous skeleton’s outfit, worn over many treat-r-treat nights past.

4. Pirate, way cool way before Johnny Depp. My brother Pete was a pirate.

5. Philosopher, so you can debate whether trick or treat exists only in relation to a teleological imperative or if an underlying dynamism predicates itself on Necco wafers more than Mars bars. See?


  1. rick
    October 29, 2010 at 11:36 am #

    hey dan did u see this one comming. this guy has the inside track for the god the fix is in who would have thunk it. this story is reading like a lifetime movie!!! does anyone not understand boston politics. my god i think the whole goverment is under investigation,and in an election year,how balllllllzy. now with all this out and most likely more to follow, i have 100$ that says the voters but this slim bag back in!!!! because i think,and i hope im dead wrong,people are just to numb to it

  2. danvalenti
    October 29, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

    Yeah, I saw it coming. The Planet was the first to reveal the details of the plot. Boston isn’t liking the bad press surrounding the boy, and Spurs may have lost out of the pork sweepstakes. The deal was all but certain, but he blew it and, for once, an aggressive press called him on it. I credit Conor Berry and the Eagle, also, in addition to the world we are doing. Also, the Gazette has weighed in with force. As for your bet, you’re probably right. Spurs is the anointed Dem. The bosses hate how he’s blowing it, but he’ll likely get in simply because of the apathy created by the slime. That’s the ONLY way he wins. If turnout is low.

  3. Jeff Ferrin
    October 29, 2010 at 5:39 pm #


    I will say as a newby to politics but not new to the lack of transparency in our local, state and federal government, that I do agree with Dan and disagree with your take on Chris. I have always as a member of society and in all aspects of my life be it personal or political or as a former military man, that it is in our own best interest to first be honest with ourselves so that we know how to be honest with those we choose to interact with.

    It is not at all that I persoannlly care what Mr. Speranzo does or which job he holds. But as a tax payer I do care and would feel the same if it was you or any other elected official that there is no conscience about the fact that his lack of open transparency of his intentions leads me to believe that he is a fix in for the clerks job and that the tax payers will foot the bill of an estimated $25,000 for a special election only to have a hand picked hand maiden chosen to take his place.

    Integrity to me would dictate that if Chris intends on taking and accepting the job if offered for the clerks position then he would have bowed out of the campaign allowing for someone else to step up for a fair debate and political process to accur. Not hold both hostage for personal gain of the democratic party. I have never in the past nor will I now allow myself to let personal feelings or interject someones personal life into the game of politics. But this is just as dirty as the corruption that our own mayor has portrayed upon it’s citizens and now we must take yet another hit from our representative ot he house. You are a smart and intelegent man who I would hope as a tax payer would putting politics aside would take the same offense as I and MANY others who believed in him have taken. He lost my vote soley based on his refusal to come clean about his intentions which leads to tust issues.

    So with all do respect to you my friend I would feel the very same way had you been my rep and had done the same thing he is doing. Does this mean in his personal life he is a bad person. Absolutley not. It does mean in my own opinion it makes for a terrible and untrustworthy politician. Silence is an admission of guilt when you are holding a political office.. I hope you understand my opinion as a resident and constituent to which he does and is supposed to represent, unlike you or Dan I am effected by his irresponsibility and feel I do deserve a response from him.

    Respectfully submitted Jeffrey Ferrin

  4. Stephen Lowrey
    October 29, 2010 at 5:50 pm #

    Agreed. “Silence is an admission of guilt.” Let me ask Dan, didn’t you try to get comments and Chris’s take on all this?

    • danvalenti
      October 30, 2010 at 5:52 pm #

      Yes, I did. I tried calling both phone numbers, e-mail, and getting word to him via messengers. He ducked not just me but ALL press inquiries.

  5. Ron Kitterman
    October 30, 2010 at 12:51 am #

    Got to hand it to Mr, Guyer at least he went to the dreaded private sector to find a job,

  6. Mike
    October 30, 2010 at 4:27 am #

    I do appreciate your following of local matters, something that is all to often ignored by the Eagle or picked up way to late, but this stuff is just ridiculous. Citing the styles of an author who died 100 years ago and using that as an excuse to ridicule personal appearances? Your criticisms lose credibility in my book when you stray from the facts and a few witty comments. Your previous post on Representative Speranzo stunk with anger, not for missrepresentation, but for snubbing your debate. I am as upset as any that he has not commented but that is no excuse for a so called “journalist” to revert to a 3rd grade drubbing. It is true that the internet has little to no restraints, so the measure and quality of your reporting are the restraints that you put on yourself. Take it as you will.

    • danvalenti
      October 30, 2010 at 1:07 pm #

      Thanks. I understand where you’re coming from, but the principles that Biece and Mencken used are still in play as far as I’m concerned. You let go with all you have. You know, in an ideal world, I would love ALL debate to be intellectual, rational, well thought out, and deliberate, but that doesn’t work anymore, particularly with posers like Chris Speranzo. He has been proved disingenuous by the revelations of this campaign (ducking debates, not campaigning, pursuing the court job, his wife’s conflict of interest). He made the bed, and now he lies in it. And I do mean, lies. I gave Chris every chance to address the situation. I played it by his rules. He ignored it. Now, he plays by mine. Much appreciate your criticism, though

  7. Simon Sez
    October 30, 2010 at 1:00 pm #

    I heard Mark Miller this monring in Pittsfield, campaigning with Gov. candidate jill Stein. Miller listened to questions thoughtfully and gave answers people could understand. He’s down to earth and tryul interested in putting an end to corrupt politics. VOTE MARK MILLER.

  8. Simon Sez
    October 30, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

    I heard Mark Miller this monring in Pittsfield, campaigning with Gov. candidate jill Stein. Miller, even without Speranzo ducking out, would be the superior candidate. As he said, he’s a lifelong resident of Pittsfield and ran the Eagle when the Eagle was a NEWSpaper. He’s made the case for a vote as far as I’m concerned and my wife.

  9. Ron Kitterman
    October 30, 2010 at 1:39 pm #

    In reference to the front page article date Saturday, October 30, 2010, “ Lawyer Claims Unfair Process, Rep. Speranzo’s wife is a partner with a woman the attorney claims interview him. “ Thank you Attorney Jeffery Scribo for bringing this to our attention, just a few days shy of the election process. Hopefully it will shed some light on our Representative from the 3’rd Berkshire District and convince voters against the incumbent or to write in the name of another person for that office.
    The first three words of the constitution, as we all know start “We the People.” Somehow, politicians seem to have forgotten this either intentionally or inadvertently. Instead of representing us, they are instead working hard to protect their own self interests, either in wielding power or raising campaign funds from special interest groups. As in the case of Representative Christopher N. Speranzo, more interested in his own self interest than of his constituents. A local political figure is on record of voting for him, because he has brought millions of dollars back to the City of Pittsfield.
    Representative Speranzo’s own radio advertisements seem to reflect this message. Although instead of standing for reelection he has chosen to not debate his opponent or to openly campaign for the office, instead relying upon the powder of his incumbency for voters to make their decision.
    When someone is duly elected to public office or appointed, they take an oath when they are sworn into office. Within that solemn oath, in addition to swearing to protect and defend the constitution of The United States and The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, one also affirms they will serve to the “best of their ability.”
    With little time prior to the election, and little time left to sway voters mind, most likely Representative Speranzo, will be returned to office. However, I would encourage the voters to examine his record, motivations and actions and vote for his opponent, Mark Miller.

    Ron Kitterman