Article

MF UP FOR SALE, “MAYOR” BARRETT on RUBERTO, WHO’s in for 2011, plus CHAMBER MUSIC

BY DAN VALENTI

One is the loneliest number except when you’re first in the race.

What do these stories have in common: EPA fines Interprint, Bill Hines to step down as PEDA chief, stores closing on North Street, stores opening on North Street, school custodians dump green glop into the Housy, the CEDS failure, candidate running for office (Nicols) and leaving (Ruberto) office, and so many more?

Answer: They all broke first in The Planet.

While the Boring Broadsheet was telling you about such vital page 1 news as Alan Chartock’s grimy grab at a million bucks for WAMC in the latest stickup by Northeast Public Radio, The Planet was dishing news and views, news that matters and views that exercise your gray matter. Which leads us to this photo, taken on North Street today:

This FOR SALE sign graces the entrance of Museum Facsimiles. Odd behavior for an enterprise that disputed The Planet's claim that it was looking to ditch North Street, Pittsfield.

If you read the caption, you will know the story. The Planet had reality reduced to truth when it shared, weeks before, that Museum Facsimiles is looking to book. MF (seriously, no pun intended) told The Planet we had it all wrong. They blamed us for not contacting them, even after they didn’t return phone calls or e-mails.

Incidentally, none of this is personal. Mrs. Planet loves this store, and so do we for its quality and selection, though we find it overpriced. It seems that blue-collar Pittsfield is voting on this business the way the free market should: up or down as measured by nothing more than foot traffic, business, and sales. Perhaps Museum Facsimiles, while great for Lenox, is way too hoity-toity for Pittsfield.

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Barrett for Mayor Ain’t Gonna Happen

Sorry to disappoint you conspiracy theorists, but one-time North Adams Mayorforlife John Barrett will not be Pittsfield’s next mayor, let alone run for the office. Der Wunderbarrett, in a wide-ranging interview with The Planet this morning, said “I have no interest in being mayor. There’s been a lot of kidding and speculation about it, but that’s all it is. I’m a North Adams guy.”

Asked to comment about the announcement of Jimmy Ruberto not to seek re-election, Barrett revealed something surprising: “I tried to talk him out of it, but after talking to him, I didn’t try too much harder. I knew he wanted out.” Barrett recalled a conversation from April 2009, when Ruberto’s wife, Ellen, had taken a turn much for the worse in her battle against cancer: “I told him you ought to think about running again, in case she does pass. I had that conversation with him. I thought if she died, he would need the office” so he could lose himself in work.

That worked for Barrett when his wife died while he was in office, but it didn’t work for Ruberto. They are two different men who have become friends in the last year.

Barrett, though, understood why Ruberto called it quits, especially Jimmy’s self-expressed need to properly grieve: “I agree with that. I was there [As we said, Barrett also lost his wife while he was mayor]. Jim has not had the opportunity to grieve. He told me that. He had a partnership with Ellen. In politics, you expect to get beat up, but you usually have a partner to share the highs and lows. He lost that.

“She was his sounding board,” Barrett said. “She admonished him when he made a mistake and praised him when he was right. When he lost her, he lost a good portion of himself.”

Barrett doesn’t see Ruberto retiring. Barrett thinks Ruberto will stay in Pittsfield and seek a position in sales relating to economic development. Barrett sais Ruberto told him, “I can sell the area. I can sell the community.”

Barrett called Ruberto “a better politician than me. He handled people better. He didn’t let his adversaries eat away at him. He killed them with kindness. With me, I learned a style of politics that he who isn’t with you is against you. He had an easier attitude with people I wish I had adapted.”

In the end, Barrett explained why Ruberto isn’t running: “He’s just tired.”

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Who’s In, Who’s Out?

Now that the strong incumbent is a lame duck, be prepared for a “49er gold rush” stampede of “bees” and “wannebees” for the corner office. This picture is as incomplete as one of Finance Director Sue Carmel’s spreadsheets and as fluid as a Guinness at last call down in the Tavern, but here’s the early scuttlebutt:

*Joe Nicols: He’s running. Strength: Sincerity. Weakness: Lacks polish.

*Peter Marchetti: He has long fantasized about being mayor. Is this when he risks all on one roll of the dice? Nope. In the end, Marchetti will discover what he already knows about discretion. It’s the better part of valor.

* Dan Bianchi: He’s playing it coy, but trust us: He’s in. Book it, Dano. Strength: Experience. Weakness: Rhetorically oblique.

* Kevin Sherman, Mike Ward, and John Krol: Sherman might have mayoral “name” but doesn’t have mayoral “game.” Ward has already bowed out of Campaign 2011. Krol needs much more seasoning.

*The wannabees: You will get your share of Pam Malumphys, Guy Notos, Nick Caccamos, Rick Moons, Donna Waltos, and the like. Some mean well, others want their Warholian 15 minutes. None of them will have the two vital ingredients to a credible run: (1) money and (2) organization.

The Planet for Mayor? This one has been floated. The residency obstacle could be easily overcome. So what about it, Valenti?

“No comment.”

We have just fired ourselves as our own press secretary for remarking “no comment,” something a public figure should never do. A Planet campaign, though, could guarantee one thing: A race for the ages. Can you imagine how the Boring Broadsheet would cover us:

“VALENTI CAUGHT IN INFLUENCE PEDDLING SCHEME” … “VALENTI KINGPIN OF PUBLIC TRUST” … “VALENTI PAST REVEALS HONDURAS FOMENTING.”

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Locked and Loaded, or How Many in the Chamber?

Last night, the Chamber of Commerce hosted one of its kiss-ups, the SAKE (Schmooze And Kneepad Extavaganza) known as “After Hours.” This SAKE featured Greylock Federal Credit Union and Berkshire United Way. We wonder if former Greylock VP and disgraced alleged embezzler Mike DiCenzo stopped by to see if he could pick the pocketbooks of some gullible old ladies? What about convicted criminal and grifter Angelo Stracuzzi? “Do you like oysters, Antolinus, or do you like shrimp”?

The Johnson Ford-Lincoln-Mercury-Nissan-Yugo-Edsel-Studebaker-Pinto dealership  and Greylock generously donated a car. Don’t know if the vehicle is intended for one-way rides only. It comes with no reverse gear and bags of cement in the trunk.

We had plenty of spies chowing down on the free grub (hors d’oeuvres but no whore do’overs). An interesting morsel floated skyward about the Berkshire Chamber pulling out of its national affiliation. What’s up with that? Hmmm, are the fiances what they should be, Mike Supranowicz, or aren’t they?

Prediction: Supranowicz will quit the Chamber soon and get out of town ahead of the posse. We could be wrong, but we thought we did notice that the corral behind the Chamber has a fast horse, ready to ride.

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LATER, MY GOOD FRIENDS.

25 Responses to “MF UP FOR SALE, “MAYOR” BARRETT on RUBERTO, WHO’s in for 2011, plus CHAMBER MUSIC”

  1. Jim Gleason
    January 20, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

    barrett is right, he’s not a “Pittsfield guy”. Intimidation and bullying were prevalent in the ruberto administration but not half as much as in barrett’s years in NA. GOOD BYE JOHNNY BOY, IT’S GREAT TO SEE YOU GO.

  2. Demitrius T. Gladiator
    January 20, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

    The Planet has its fingers on the pulse! You rock. Thanks dan for being there for the little guy as you put it.

  3. rick
    January 20, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    if roberto could sell this this area…..why didnt he????. when he first ran he said he was going to be pittsfields greatest salesman…..a bag packed to go on the road and sell pittsfield…yadda..yadda..yadda. just leave jimmy, thanks for the memories…good luck to ya, we really dont need your help any more, youve done enough already. believe me we will remember you.

  4. Jonathan Melle
    January 20, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

    What exactly are the attributes of Pittsfield that Jimmy Ruberto will sell to businesses and middle class families?
    * High taxes and fees
    * Thousands of lost jobs
    * Thousands of lost population
    * Teen pregnancies (and other welfare caseloads)
    * Cancer causing PCBs at PEDA (& elsewhere in Pittsfield)
    * A dead downtown known as “Social Service Alley”
    * Poorly performing public schools with high rates of drop-outs, truancy and bullying
    * Insider politics run by the unethical Good Old Boy network
    * Violent crimes, drug dealers, and gangs
    * A depressed community that is a post-industrial wasteland

  5. rick
    January 21, 2011 at 3:41 am #

    all ten of these points you stated, roberto added to or created,there was never a grant he didnt like,to bad he didnt have some one literate enough to write up a proper ceds application…..nows time to clean out the council. how many yes men and 1 woman voted his way, they to should go.a lesson to be learned to the next bunch comming in. be independent in ur thinking and reasoning, dont be bullied or pushed in to your votes, do whats right for ur wards and the peopleof pittsfield. every time a council gets like this, they stick out like a sore thumb.have some backbone!!

  6. 'Nuff said
    January 21, 2011 at 4:51 am #

    Valenti for mayor? Please Dan, stay in Stockbridge. Pittsfield needs someone to bring us out of the mess we are in. You do a good job of pointing out what’s wrong, but spend too much effort patting yourself on the back when you get the news out first. By the way the boring broadsheet beat you to two stories this morning.
    1 Gerald Lee will not be unning again.
    2. It’s going to be really cold.

    • danvalenti
      January 21, 2011 at 11:08 am #

      NUFF
      Hate to tell you this, but for
      1. The Planet beat the Boring Broadsheet on the Lee announcement by a month. We had it in December! Search archives and you’ll see. As for
      2. Gee, I wonder how they figured that out? What a great piece of reportage.

      • 'nuff said
        January 21, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

        1. Did not find your blog until recently, so i missed the December announcement on Lee. Sorry

        2. They must have been standing outside. t was a joke.

        • danvalenti
          January 21, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

          Yes, that’s the only way for them to make news that won’t surprise anyone! NS, glad to have you on The Planet.

  7. Jim Gleason
    January 21, 2011 at 8:17 am #

    One good thing after another is happening. First ruberto, now Lee dropping out. Who’s next? Could it be Lothrop? Be still my racing heart.

    • bartha
      January 21, 2011 at 11:41 am #

      For quite some time Lothrop has been saying in pubic (if not publicly) he will not be running again. I’m surprised Valenti hasn’t reported on that yet.

      Wait? Do I know something that the planet doesn’t know?

      Yes. Lots.

      • danvalenti
        January 21, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

        I didn’t have the heart to tell everyone the obvious. If The Planet’s blistering of J-Lo for letting his constituents and himself down encouraged him not to re-up in 2011, we count it as a victory. Bartha, send us all you know that we don’t know.

  8. GMHeller
    January 21, 2011 at 10:38 am #

    Mr. Valenti, you write:
    “While the Boring Broadsheet was telling you about such vital page 1 news as Alan Chartock’s grimy grab at a million bucks for WAMC in the latest stickup by Northeast Public Radio, The Planet was dishing news and views, news that matters and views that exercise your gray matter.”

    What you call a grimy grab may in fact be grimier than what at first it appears.
    WAMC’s board of trustees could save $500,000 annually right now if it just engaged in a little belt-tightening by drastically cutting the top salaries.
    Why does WAMC need a $200,000 CEO?
    Is there no one around who would and could do the same job as WAMC CEO for $75,000?
    One of the main problems with the way WAMC is run is the station’s total lack of fiscal transparency.
    If the extra $200,000 per fund drive is so very necessary, why doesn’t WAMC open its books to public inspection to prove it?
    Further, WAMC’s CEO Alan Chartock’s expressed rationale for the 25% increase is that Republicans are threatening to cut-off public broadcasting funds.
    Mr. Chartock, as usual, plays fast and loose with the truth.
    Fact is, no cut-off has yet occurred.
    Further, Barack Obama has not signed off on any such cut-off and WAMC is still getting as much from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and from federal and state government grants as before.
    It is far more likely that additional revenues raised from now on during WAMC ‘beg-a-thons’ will be used to give salary increases to Mr. Chartock as well as to others in WAMC’s bloated bureaucracy, as well as to underwrite WAMC’s substantial pension commitment to Mr. Chartock and to whomever retires when he does.
    (You might recall the $52,000 raise — a salary hike of 45% — that WAMC’s always-compliant board of trustees granted to Mr. Chartock back in Fiscal 2005.)
    Anyone wanna make book on whether the WAMC board ups Mr. Chartock’s salary in his final years at the station in order to maximize his pension payout?
    Where is that money to come from if not from WAMC’s generous (and gullible) listeners?
    Here is just a partial list of WAMC’s bloated bureaucracy:

    Abel, Stefanie
    Sales, Marketing and PR Coordinator

    Ambuhl, Victoria
    Marketing Coordinator for National Productions

    Aronson, Abbe
    Regional Account Executive, Hudson Valley Region

    Augar, Shawn
    Facilities Engineer

    Barnett, Susan
    Producer/Host of 51%

    Barr, Nick
    Bluegrass Music Host

    Barrett, Bob
    Producer/ Host of The Health Show

    Bohen, Michael
    Control Room Operator

    Boivin, Christine
    Sales Support and Special Projects Coordinator

    Brady, Nell
    Project Manager and Grants Assistant

    Bradley, Pat
    North Country Bureau Chief

    Britton, Katie
    News/Program Director

    Busby, Glenn
    Manager of National Productions/
    Producer/Host of The Best of Our Knowledge

    Chartock, Alan
    President & CEO

    Clairmont, Adam
    Live Events Engineer

    Coakley, Tim
    Jazz Music Host

    Cooney, Pat
    VP of Operations

    Deitz, Charles
    Berkshire County Bureau Chief

    Dewitt, Karen
    NYS Capitol Correspondent

    Donahue, Joe
    Associate News Director/Co-Host of The RoundTable

    Elisha, Paul
    Host of The Poetry Forum/ Commentator

    Federico, Dona
    Director of Sales, Marketing & PR,
    Managing Director, The Linda

    Felano, Steve
    Assistant News Director

    Fischer, Wanda
    Folk Music Host

    Fry, Greg
    Hudson Valley Bureau Chief

    Gilbert, Kristin
    Traffic Manager

    Glassman, Howard
    General Manager, The Linda

    Golding, Mary
    Regional Account Executive

    Graf, Ray
    Director of New Media/News Anchor

    Guistina, David
    Director of Special Projects/News Anchor/
    Internship Coordinator

    Gross, Hank
    Hudson Valley Correspondent

    Hopper, David
    Control Room Operator

    Horn, Katie
    Fund Drive Coordinator

    Job, Thomas
    New Media/Marketing Assistant

    Kaplan, Selma
    VP for Administration and Development/Director
    for The Linda

    Laduke, Sarah
    Producer, The Roundtable

    Lescak, Sharon
    Membership Director

    Livingston, Kara
    Membership Assistant

    Lucas, Dave
    Capital District Bureau Chief

    Lynch, Jessica
    Control Room Operator

    Malloy, Zachary
    Control Room Operator

    Martin, Mick
    Video Producer

    McKenna, Graeme
    Associate General Manager, The Linda

    Migliorisi, Matthew
    Control Room Operator

    Morse, John
    Regional Account Executive

    Norman, Brian
    Regional Account Executive

    Perry, Stacey
    Chief Master Control Operator

    Piccolo, Anne
    Regional Account Executive,
    Saratoga County North Country
    Hudson Valley/areas south

    Pickus, Ian
    Producer/Assistant to the President

    Rosen, Leah
    Regional Account Executive,

    Saglimbeni, Debera
    Senior National and Regional Account Executive,
    Capital District

    Sax, Dr. Nina
    Co-Host of The Health Show

    Schaeffer, Paul
    Underwriting Office Manager (Accounts Receivable)

    Shaw, Heather
    Control Room Operator

    Shields, Brian
    Senior Correspondent/News Anchor/Midday Magazine

    Slavinski, Josie
    Senior National and Regional Account Executive,
    The Berkshires/Pioneer Valley

    Straight, Darryl
    Business Manager

    Tuthill, Paul
    Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief

    Wilson, Jennifer
    Fund Drive Coordinator

    Wise, Marian
    Grants Director

    Zubroff, Betsy
    Regional Account Executive

    And that’s an incomplete list.

    So what happens if WAMC has all these people expecting to get hefty pensions upon retirement, but the station is unable to raise enough funding from the public to keep that pension plan solvent, in addition to paying the station’s actual operating expenses?
    This is the problem with publicly financed and subsidized bloated bureaucracies with bloated budgets.
    Eventually the money runs out.

    • Mike
      January 22, 2011 at 8:02 am #

      Are we going to have to give you a word count limit too? Please be relevant and pithy or else you’ll be voted off the Planet.

  9. Canyon Raunch
    January 21, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    great post on the scam that is northeast public radio. its run by a creep and supported by well-meaning but duped suckers. WAMC wont get a nickel out of me.

  10. justin
    January 21, 2011 at 11:38 am #

    Mr. Heller,

    OK. You’ve convinced me that WAMC is a scam and Chartock is a legal-crook. I’ll go one step further and allege that he and Clarence Fanto molest collies (it’s just a rumor, so far,,,).

    But why the relentless pursuit on this one topic? It’s something you’ve been passionate about for what seems like for years. What drives you? Did Chartock take your girl or somthing?

    • GMHeller
      January 21, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

      “Relentless pursuit on this one topic”?
      Seems to me I make comments on a whole raft of subjects.
      Please note that it was not me, but rather Dan Valenti who opened his column with the salient observation concerning “Alan Chartock’s grimy grab at a million bucks for WAMC in the latest stickup by Northeast Public Radio.”
      You should therefore be asking your question of Dan Valenti, not me.
      Further, please answer this: If you had known that Bernie Madoff (or anyone else in a position of trust) was running a Ponzi scheme (or any other scam) and stealing from people, would you report it once to SEC (or to the appropriate government authority) and then just walk away if the SEC (or appropriate government authority) did nothing to stop it, or would you keep sounding the alarm until someone in authority finally acted to stop the embezzler?
      The SEC was put on notice on numerous occasions that Madoff’s operation didn’t stand the smell test (most prominently via investigative articles in Barron’s magazine).
      Yet SEC never acted until Madoff’s sons turned their old man in.
      So if Dan Valenti and myself are raising the alarm about Alan Chartock’s dubious management of tax-exempt public broadcaster WAMC, consider it like Barron’s issuing warnings about Bernie Madoff.

    • danvalenti
      January 21, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

      JUSTIN
      Heller he responded to lines from my posting. Heller has been on the WAMC story for a while, true, but that does not adequately describe his universe of concern, as you state.

  11. Avoidance
    January 21, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

    Way to avoid the question.

    It sounds like Alan Chartock ran off with Glenn Heller’s wife (or at least wifey was looking for a more, um, “fulfilling” relationship).

    Is that it Glenny, or do you want to tell us why you really have such a stuffy for Chartock?

    • GMHeller
      January 21, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

      You got me cornered, pal.
      The real deal is this.
      A group of Conservative Republicans (of which I am an active secret member) are affiliated with the Tea Party Movement and we have decided that it is necessary before the 2012 presidential election to overthrow as many of these Lefty Liberal kook-controlled public broadcasters as possible.
      We are under secret orders from the soon-to-be-announced Sarah Palin presidential campaign committee.
      Now, as everyone knows, Albany is THE place to live year-round (especially in wintertime).
      My reward for successfully undermining the powers-that-be at WAMC will be that I get to run the station, preach Conservative Republican values to an audience of 6,900 Liberals, and most exciting of all, live in the Albany area rent-free (specifically, in the furnished cushy apartment WAMC currently provides rent-free to station boss Alan Chartock).
      Neat plan, eh?

  12. Jeffrey Turner
    January 22, 2011 at 6:37 am #

    Once again, anything in the world wider than the wards of Pittsfield and the chambers of City Hall eludes The Planet. The membership of the national Chamber of Commerce is 96 percent small businesses, but the board of directors is well over 90 percent big businesses. So it’s amazing the locals have put up with it for as long as they have. But when the national group funnels millions upon millions of dollars to Republican candidates is it really any surprise that a local in a heavily Democratic area would cut its ties?

    Oh, look Planet, you missed some navel lint to write about.

  13. Museum Facsimiles Outlet Store
    January 27, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    Tsk, tsk, tsk . . . not checking facts before publishing again. Museum Facsimiles is not for sale and has no intention of leaving North Street. The condo storefront that we rent is for sale by the owner.
    I’m not sure why you are obsessed with our store, have you ever been in? If so, you would know that we manufacture our products here in Pittsfield and sell to boutique stores worldwide. All our products are wholesale priced in the outlet store. Our hand printed award winning greeting cards sell for 1.75 each. I’m sorry if you find that overpriced, most don’t. Yes, our prices might seem high if you are a dollar store shopper but that’s ok, we can’t meet everyone’s needs.
    You have our phone numbers, emails, give us a call if you have any interest in the truth. Or, better yet, stop by and pick up a beautiful hand silkscreen Valentine’s Day card for your wife, she deserves it!

  14. Patty
    January 28, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    I’m not exactly sure where the “journalist” in Dan Valenti can be found– as the apparent “facts” that he presents seem to be completely unfounded in truth or research. Perhaps he may be better suited as a creative fiction writer. I’m a bit unsure as to why Museum Facsimiles is still being portrayed as “closing” when they have “not returned the phone calls or e-mails” that could confirm or deny this. I have been in the store and it has been confirmed by the owners that this is a false rumor. This is not the first story that Valenti has written that has been proven as false and unresearched, and this seems to be just another one of Valenti’s fantastical imaginings fabricated in an effort to meet a weekly publishing quota. I think articles that are completely unfounded in any research and only in speculation should be kept in the gossip column.

    • danvalenti
      January 28, 2011 at 11:53 am #

      PATTY
      Thanks for the feedback. We strive, always, for factual accuracy. We do not bat 1.000, we admit. We do publish what you call “gossip” (though that’s not what it is) and label it as such. We actually love Museum Facsimiles, and have a lovely mirror in VILLA VALENTI to prove it.

  15. John Yates
    April 18, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

    Concerning Museum Facsimiles:
    They inhabit a commercial condominium space, owned by yours truly. The sign out front does not at all signify that they are planning to close, but rather that I plan to sell the space which they rent. Your claims in this case are absolutely baseless speculation. Such blatant misrepresentation makes one question anything you write or claim as factual. Your claim that you “strive for factual accuracy” makes me wonder just how hard you strive. Apparently, not very.