BY DAN VALENTI
We start off praising the actions of a politician. Seriously.
The Planet does not sing praises of or drum dirges for pols on a whim. We dish out sweet or sour depending on their actions. Their actions determine all, since we never have predispositions on any issue. We let the facts determine our judgments.
That explains how we can knock a pol one day and praise him the next, something that baffles those of narrower, more ideological bent. They see it as inconsistent. We see is as vast and multitudinous. Thus, The Planet judges on evidence and action. Words may provide a decent indication of what will actually be done, but how many times have we heard a speech that sounded like manna from heaven turn out to be the same old horse crap from the barn?
A Classy Way to Go
This is by way of acknowledging one of the most stylish and classiest political exits The Planet has seen since Judge Crater vanished without a trace. Pittsfield’s Ward 4 city councilor Mike Ward has announced he will not seek re-election in November. Rather than hold off until the last moment and thereby limit the options for others who might want to run for the seat, Ward made his announcement and encouraged his potential successors. He also thanked his constituents for their trust.
The Planet has enjoyed watching Ward grow on the job. We’ve often disagreed with Ward on issues, but we’ve never doubted his sincerity and integrity. He is one of the few councilors who does his homework, listens to opposition, weighs matters objectively, seeks constituent input, and decides based on his interpretation of facts. He hasn’t let Gerry Lee’s prunish baton affect his outlook and performance.
Integrity and reason are the two shining characteristics of public life. The first reveals morals and ethics. The second earns trust in judgment. Ward has both. He’s around for another year, and it will be interesting to see if, having been relieved of the game-playing that a re-election bid forces on a man or woman, he becomes ever-more assertive and independent (less Rubertoey and more Mazzeoey).
The Miller’s Tale
This is just a hunch, but we think there will be lots of candidates in the 2011 municipal election. There’s plenty of time for this discussion later, but after Ward’s actions, who will want in? Gary Grunin, to get back to where he once belonged? Terry Kinnas, who is Pittsfield’s Harold Stassen? We think not. There will be new names to step forward, and The Planet hopes one of them will be Mark Miller.
Miller, who ran against Chris “No Show” Speranzo, nearly pulled off the political upset of the ages, taking his Green-Rainbow candidacy to within an eyelash of victory. In that campaign, he nearly overcame a lack of money and organization by hard work and spending shoe leather. He went after it hard while the lazy Speranzo chickened out. Since embarrassing himself in the campaign, Speranzo has been equally invisible in “victory.”
Anyways, we won’t waste any more of the alphabet on the yellowest politician in Pittsfield history. Let’s get back to Miller. Consider what he would have going for him in a 2011 campaign for Ward 4:
* Name recognition: People know who he is.
* Intelligence: He can follow complex issues, understand nuance, and articulate positions.
* Integrity: Oozes out of him the way a Gatorade shower drips off a winning head coach.
* Experience: In his failed legislative bid, Miller learned a lot. He will profit from this the next time around.
* Party: Pittsfield elections are non-partison. He therefore sheds the label of “fringe-party candidate.” He’s a Pittsfieldian. That’s enough.
* He knows the city: The Miller family has for generations helped shape the city’s destiny.
* Independence: This has great voter appeal. He would be perceived as an Outsider, something that will play well should Jimmy Ruberto try for another term as mayor.
You’re hearing this first: The Planet predicts that Mark Miller will run for Ward 4 and be victorious. Mark that we wrote this on Jan. 14, 2010.
ORBIT, GUANO Winners Announced
We thank the snow for dropping from the heavens, for it gave The Planet a most enjoyable chance to sound off about the weather wimps we have become. It’s the Berkshires, it’s January, and still, we can’t handle the snow like adults. We have to declare “emergencies” and flood stores with panic buying. Thank you, Weather Channel.
The Poster Boys for our attack were Pittsfield city councilors Peter White and John Krol. We composed rhymes in their honor. We rode them on Facebook for their Facebook postings. We created nicknames: Peter “Snow” White and John “Kringle” Krol. One responded like a good sport. The other didn’t. One wins The Planet’s coveted ORBIT Award. The Other wins a GUANO.
An ORBIT for Peter White
White can be ribbed, and he doesn’t fluster in the joke. He remained his usual calm, flat-lined self throughout the Snowgate gauntlet. If there’s a public meeting, a community fund raiser, or a good cause that needs help, chances are you’ll see White involved. For years, he attended meetings and educated himself in civics. For that, for his tremendous civic activities, and for not wilting in the snow, Pete wins the ORBIT (Mike Ward was the first winner for his stance on the meals tax).
A GUANO for John Krol
Krol is a decent chap. The Planet enjoys his company alike at a ballgame or in a radio studio. He could yet blossom into an effective rep, but he must overcome a penchant for defensiveness that indicates insecurity. Krol would do well to develop less of a thin skin. He also has to shake the perception that he’s Jimmy Ruberto’s mini-me. In Snowgate, Krol pretended like it wasn’t there. Normally one who returns that for this, he clammed up: No e-mails, no rejoinders, no phone calls, no nothing. Where White kept running plays, Krol took his football and went home. For all that, we present Krol with a fresh, steaming GUANO. He joins Jonathan Lothrop in the rarified circle.
On Sunday, the Talking Stops
The Planet enjoyed the remarks following our post yesterday about the upcoming playoff clash between the visiting New York Jets and the home New England Patriots. The Jets come into the game with their gums flapping. The Patriots come into the game with their typical sang froid. The wise guys have the Patriots as 8.5-point favorites. And you know what …
None of it matters when the game begins at 4:30 on Sunday. After the opening kickoff, the team that plays the best, makes the fewest mistakes, makes the biggest play, and executes its game plan best wins, plain and simple. It’s one-and-done in the playoffs. Win and move on, or lose and go home. In mid-January, all the teams in the hunt are good. All are capable of winning one game. On Monday morning, we shall be saluting the winner. That’s all we know. Best of luck to both the Jets and the Patriots.
Up Ahead ...
Tomorrow, we shall be pulling into the building on outer East Street the city wants to buy as a new garage. We present a guest writer on economic development, and we let have a sneak-peek at a letter to the Federal Elections Commission that could, we only say could, have big repercussions for local politics. The letter’s supposed to be Top Secret, so don’t tell anybody we have it. Adios, amigos.