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

MIKE WARD: Bowing out with style.

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

MARK MILLER, left, with SCOTT LANGENOUR: Miller in 4?

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

PETER WHITE: On top of Snowy Mountain.

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

JOHN KROL: Still learning.

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.


  1. Eric Vincelette
    January 14, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    Mike Ward is a genuine class act. So is Peter White. ….don’t know much about Mark Miller but like what he did against Speranzo….Go Pats…have a great wkend and keep bringing the scoops….You are part of my daily reading

  2. Jim Gleason
    January 14, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

    Mike Ward has always been a good guy. I went to him many times with thoughts and problems during the reign of the oblivious Maffuccio in Ward 7, and he always responded by either phone or email. We didn’t, and still don’t, always agree on issues, but at least he would hear my ideas and explain his to me on any issue. Good luck, Mike.GO JETS!!!Go home Patriots.

  3. Scott Laugenour
    January 14, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    ‘Fringe’ party? Well, maybe according to voter registration, but not on account of the ideas that the Green-Rainbow Party represents: tax fairness, comprehensive medicare for all, rejection of corporate/lobbyist financial contributions at local, state, and national levels of policy-making, strong public infrastructure that provides and environment for greater numbers of solvent entrepreneurs to build private local enterprises that thrive. (How much longer are we going to let medical and education debts wither our enterprising spirit?)

    And, well, maybe not ‘fringe according to numbers’ for too much longer. Following the Nov election we’ve had strong interest in the party and are seeing membership growth. Did you read about us in iBerkshires yesterday?

    Now we’re a major party, thanks to the statewide tally of one of your guest columnists, Nat Fortune, who ran as a Green-Rainbow candidate for State Auditor. This means that in 2012 we will be able to hold primaries. I can promise you that unlike the Democratic Party movers and shakers who are trying to limit democratic participation in their party’s 2012 primary, we will welcome candidates. As we grow our organization we can learn from that “Concerned Democrats” group what NOT to do. Primaries are good for democracy. Candidacies are good for democracy. Check us out and if you like what you see join us. Do it at:
    Or come to our meeting next month, Feb 8, 5:30 pm Lenox Library. Or use the links from my blog site to contact me for more information.

    Best wishes to Mark if he does decide to run. He’ll have my support.

    • danvalenti
      January 14, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

      We agree with the notion that the two major parties actually have a stake in limiting participation. They would argue they are only being “republican” (lover “r”) and not democratic (lower “d”) since we have a representative form of government and not actual one-person, one-vote on policy issues. The “fringe” label may not be fair but it’s as good as reality because of perception. The major parties frame most of the discussion, and the compliant media lapdogs let them get away with it. Not The Planet, as we proved in Miller’s race against Speranzo. We hope Miller decides for a go in Ward 4.

  4. Rivetor
    January 14, 2011 at 6:35 pm #

    Agree with the other on Mike Ward. A class act all the way, and i’m looking for him to assert his free thinking ways this year now that he’s a lame duck. Green party is still on the fringes, but I’d vote for Miller in any city election. As a Raiders fan have to say the Patriots dump the Jets sunday. Too much firepower. Too much brady.

    • Scott Laugenour
      January 14, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

      Thanks Rivetor. The more your votes are Green the less we’ll be on the fringes. I still chuckle when I recall the voter who told me that he’d only vote for me if I won!

    • Jim Gleason
      January 17, 2011 at 9:51 am #


  5. GMHeller
    January 14, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    Mr. Valenti,

    Mark Miller?
    Are you serious?
    Mr. Miller and his brother were not savvy enough to run The Berkshire Eagle so what makes this guy savvy enough to be on the City Council — or are there so few requirements for that position that anyone is qualified as long as they have a pulse?
    And even if Mr. Miller has learned a thing or two since losing control of The Eagle, does someone who matures and gains wisdom devolve to being in the Green Rainbow Party?
    If he had learned from his mistakes would not he have evolved to Conservative Republicanism?
    Does Pittsfield really need yet another Berkshire County born-into-wealth Liberal patrician deciding what’s best for its overtaxed residents?
    Isn’t that how Massachusetts got into the hole it’s already in?

    • Wally
      January 15, 2011 at 11:38 am #

      The Eagle’s mistakes began when the paper got away from running a newspaper to speculating in real estate at the clock Tower. Mark Miller ran the newsroom and was not, as I understand, a key part of the move from the flatiron business. That takes care of your first point.
      Second, whenever I run into a third-party candidate, I grill that person on why there’s no room in the Two Biggies. How they answer quickly reveals everything. When someone like Miller answers in-depth and with credibility, it’s a loss for rigged two-party politics and a gain both for independent parties and for The People.
      As for conservative Republicanism, do you mean the likes of Gingrich, and both Bushes: the one that showed no difference, none, from the Democrats on fiscal issues as they pertain to the middle class. It’s amazing that you fall for that. Didn’t realize you were an ideologue.

      • GMHeller
        January 16, 2011 at 12:10 am #

        Wally, you are succeeding only in spouting Liberal gibberish.
        Mark Miller does not get a pass even if as you claim he only ran the news side of the business.
        At minimum, as one of newspaper’s corporate officers, he would certainly have had a say in The Eagle’s decision to go deeply into debt to buy a new multicolor press along with the structure (The Clocktower Building) in which to house it.
        Do you want a guy to serve on the Pittsfield City Council who after being elected makes excuses for his bad decisions and/or for not being familiar with the City’s problems just because matters fall outside his area of expertise?
        Yet, that is the pass you are giving him for his ineptitude (with his brother) in running The Eagle.
        As for the Green Rainbow Party, exactly what credibility does the Green Rainbow Party have anywhere?
        GRP seems little more than a bunch of Liberals , Progressives, and Socialists who want nothing better than to dictate to you, me, and everybody else what to do and how we should live.
        To accomplish their touchy-feely goals, GRP would regulate, regulate, regulate; and raise taxes, raise taxes, and raise taxes some more.
        Thank you, but no thank you.
        The last thing Pittsfield needs to get it out of its hole is more regulation and higher taxes.
        G. Gordon LIddy has a saying: “A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.”

        • danvalenti
          January 16, 2011 at 4:16 pm #

          Allow me to reply to this, even though you are asking Wally. If you are quoting G. Gordon Liddy as your expert, and if you are again predictably proceeding from knee-jerk right-wing jibberish — and it certainly seems the case — your objections become rants, not reason. If I may, the advantage The Planet holds over all those with ideological blinders (that demand prejudgments before facts) is that we approach cases on the merits. Food for thought, my friend.

          • GMHeller
            January 17, 2011 at 10:47 pm #

            Mr. Valenti,
            Why do you give Mark Miller a pass?
            He and his brother ran The Berkshire Eagle into the ground (where the newspaper remains to this day) as a result of a series of incredibly imprudent business decisions.
            Further, as a so-called ‘Green’ candidate, how do you cast a blind eye to the fact that under Mr. Miller’s stewardship (and his father, ‘Pete’ Miller before him), that GE was allowed to poison Pittsfield with no editorial outrage or response in the pages of The Eagle?
            It was not exactly a big secret that GE was burying poisons in steel barrels in dumps all around town, and releasing large amounts of PCB’s and other toxic solvents into the Housatonic and Silver Lake.
            During Mark Miller’s tenure running the paper’s news department, did The Eagle ever once run an investigative piece about the toxicity of chemicals that GE was burying or the scope of those chemicals’ dispersal throughout the city?
            Was there ever an editorial expressing outrage over the poisoning of Silver Lake and the failure of GE ever to do anything about it?
            Mr. Miller certainly had the power to direct his paper’s reporters to investigate these matters.

      • GMHeller
        January 16, 2011 at 2:07 am #

        Wally, one more thing:
        If Mark Miller is running for City Council out of concern for the plight of the City and its residents; and if, as you claim, Mr. Miller ran The Berkshire Eagle’s newsroom way back when, presumably with similar concern for his Pittsfield neighbors and readers, then how come The Eagle under Mark Miller never once ran a series of articles reporting on the city’s Cancer clusters?
        Did Mr. Miller ever push — really push — to obtain the raw data from the GE-financed Wegman medical studies of the 1980’s?
        Did Mr.Miller ever once publish a map pin-pointing the homes wherein residents had come down with rare blood diseases, rare lymphatic cancers, and rare glandular disorders (a lot of them in neighborhoods surrounding or nearby Silver Lake). Wow, isn’t that strange?
        And how come oh so Green Rainbow candidate Mark Miller’s Eagle was ever so accommodating of GE over the environmental disaster that is Silver Lake?
        Or how about let’s talk money?
        Was there ever a tax, whether it be federal, state, or local, that Mark Miller’s Eagle ever came out against?
        Please spare us this hogwash about how much Mark Miller will be good for Pittsfield.
        He failed to act when he had the tools at his disposal, the resources of The Eagle, to accomplish substantive change.