PARONTO, PRONTO, for COLONIALS; MAYOR GERRY LEE: WILL IT HAPPEN IN JULY? and, YES, YOU GUESSED IT, STEROIDsGATE. MORE ON THE MEMO
BY DAN VALENTI
Where Have We Been? Busy, That’s Where
It has been a bee-busy morning and afternoon on The Planet, replete with laughs, love, and lucidity. The laughs came in part to several “rumors” that hit us about our lack of a post this morning by noon. Rumor 1: The Planet pulled the plug and went off the air, so to speak. Rumor 2: A laser burst from the Municipal Death Star blew The Planet to smithereens. Like the rumors of Mark Twain’s death, both were highly exaggerated. Another laugh came in our accidental meeting of Billy Turner, “Mailman to the Stars.” Billy was in the midst of calming “his people,” as he calls them — the creatures, critters, and denizens who inhabit and/or infest downtown during the day. Turner told us a sighting of The Swami. The Planet scoffed at first but by the end of our brief conversation, Billy had gotten us religion on this matter.
Because a set of clowns, a man juggling plates, a team of political acrobats, and a ballerina await, we must make this quick. We shall be back this evening, though, with our first add. Now on the 1-Star, we can tell you:
Gerry Lee: from Uncle Gerry to Mayor Gerry? or, Is Jimmy Stepping Down?
* The Planet got word of a tip from a source, a city hall source, that if true is this month’s bombshell. We shall put it in the form of a question: Will Uncle Gerry Lee be the next mayor of Pittsfield?
The mayor of Northamptom announced leaving office in August. The city council president there will be mayor pro tem. Is the same in the works for Pittsfield? A qualified (though not fully vetted) assertion (it’s more than a rumor and less than a fact at this point) has Mayor Jimmy Ruberto leaving office in July of this year to take an as-yet unspecified position elsewhere. Where and what “elsewhere” is we don’t know and won’t speculate.
Should this happen, council president Lee takes over as mayor. This would then give Lee a chance to think about making a bid for the office in his own right. The man has been police chief and council president. Obviously, he flatters himself with the highest offices. What is higher in the city than the corner office? As acting mayor, Lee would have a huge advantage heading into the September primary. It would also solve the problem of continuing the Ruberto philosophy, one that Peter Marchetti said he would do if elected mayor.
Would it be a gas to see Lee face Marchetti in a November showdown?
The Planet talked face-to-face with Mayor Ruberto today. The mayor denied there was truth to the rumor, though he did leave an out. He did say that if something should come along between now and then that was too good to refuse, he wouldn’t rule out such a scenario.
The Planet has been around such intrigue for a generation. We say something’s up. You heard it here first, but don’t tell anyone. This is all supposed to be a secret.
Chad Paronto, Pronto, for Colonials
Under a brilliant, blue shy at sun-washed Wahconah Park, the Pittsfield Colonials signed and introduced the biggest catch of the year: fireballing former Big League righty Chad Paronto. The 6′ 5″, 250-pound pitcher joins the Colonials as #1 starter, pitching coach, and mentor.
The 35-year-old has pitched for the Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, and Houston Astros. Last season, Paronto pitched with the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox, Boston’s top affiliate. C’s manager Jamie Keefe told the assembled press that he had been pursuing Paronto since January. The pitcher had big league invitations to spring training from multiple teams but turned then down because they involved leaving his family to head out west to the Cactus League.
Paronto is married to a Pittsfield woman, and he said having the opportunity to pitch and coach in the city was the predominant factor in his signing on with the Colonials.
Magic is Afoot at BWP (Beloved Wahconah Park)
Team owner Buddy Lewis introduced Paronto. He said he would tell the assembled squad next month in his “Big Speech” to them to kick off 2011 that two things would be paramount: First, win a championship. Second, be a good citizen. The Colonials have a plethora of community-based community reach-out activity planned for the season, including player residencies at Laurel Lake extended care facility in Lee, hosting non-profit groups for each of the team’s 54 games, school visits, and clinics. Paronto will take a lead role in this, and it’s clear that he —along with the Goon Squad of Angel Molina, Jerod Edmundson, and Matt Nandin — will become in many ways the marquee attraction this season at BWP (Beloved Wahconah Park).
At 6’5″, The Planet was able to look Paronto in the eye, even at 5’4″. In the short time we had together, and judging by the remarks of Keefe and Lewis, it looks as if the Colonials have a keeper. Paronto said all the right things, of course, but more interestingly to The Planet, so did his body. An athlete’s body is his bread and butter. It is to him what the ax is to the lumberjack. Paronto’s body language “said” he was excited to be in Pittsfield and ready to embrace this new phase of his career. He’s a man, it seems, with a big heart — one that’s in the right place.
Wethinks it shall be a magic summer at BWP.
SteroidsGate: More Tea Leaves and More to Come
This will be quick.
Yes, The Planet has a copy of Capt. David Granger’s nearly 1,500-word long e-mail sent early this week to officer at the Pittsfield Police Department. We have hard copy. We will be back later with a summary and paraphrase. We shall quote from enough of it to establish that we have the document and wish to use it for the overall good.
The “overall good” can be defined at
1. What’s good for We The People.
2. What’s good for the PPD.
3. What’s good for the city at large.
4. What’s good for the status of public life.
You shall have enough of what Capt. Granger says to make more of a judgment about his intent. Was it intended as a morale booster for the force? A show of intimidation and threat to anyone who might want to speak to the press? A little of both.
The email is instructive in that it serves as a kind of barometric pressure gauge for Life in the PPD these days. Even under the best of conditions, a police department is a workplace loaded with stress, good intent, insecurity, “office politics,” heroism, cowardice, and a mix of a thousand and one other elements. To understand this, simply consider the nature of police work. The recent emergence of SteroidsGate, however, has, according to officers and confirmed by Granger’s memo, ratcheted up the pressure.
Command wants with increasing urgency to find out who’s leaking to The Planet. Some officers and staff also want to know. They blast the whistleblowers as “rats” and “snitches.” Other officers and staff are applauding the whistle blowers as “heroic” and “courageous.” Our sources feel they are acting as mouthipieces for other members of the force who would WANT to speak out but are afraid.
The Planet makes no judgments at this point. We have listened, are listening, and will continue to listen to all sides. We realize that each side has an agenda. We will be confident of the truth emerging. We are like the Founding Fathers in that regard, hopelessly idealistic.
WITH THAT< WE BID YOU GOODBYE FOR NOW. “OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.” LOVE TO ALL.