!!PLANET EXCLUSIVE!! BIANCHI IS RUNNING FOR MAYOR; PLUS, VINCELETTE LOOKING FOR ANOTHER SPIN IN WARD 4, and RUBERTO TEARS KARNS, BRPC A NEW ONE
BY DAN VALENTI
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, APRIL 28, ADD 1) — Beware of folks who have no sense of humor, who constantly rail in anger, who sees darkness lurking in the words and actions of everyone that disagrees with them. They think they’re wearing hair shirts but to the rest of us they look like clown suits. Let those with ears hear. Let those with eyes see.
The Retreads of CEDS
The Planet was first on the scandal that has been the failure of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission’s Community Economic Development Strategy for 10 years. CEDS is a program administered by the Department of Commerce that makes seed funding available by application to communities with plans that are realistic and promising.
Go back to The Planet’s archives for the history of CEDS and how CEDS has fared in Pittsfield. Particularly read our series on how one state in the rural south managed to lure multi-billion dollar investments from private sector giants like Apple, Microsoft, and others. The CEDS program there made the difference.
Not since Sara Hathaway was mayor has Pittsfield successfully applied for a CEDs grant. CEDS is one of the few, and we mean few, federal economic jump-start programs with a good history. The Pittsfield CEDS committee, who work under the aegis of the BRPC headed by Nat Karns, has been working since late last year. They have met monthly. The meetings are characterized by no shows, including a Seattle Slew of absences by Berkshire Chamber poo-bah ike Supranowicz and the equally invisible Deanna Ruffer, head of community development in Pittsfield and First Vice Associate Mayor.
CEDS, Rhymes with Dead
The CEDS team issued its draft report. It has apparently whiffed again. The Planet has followed the CEDS low lights, its wasting of time, its flopping around like a blue gill on the shores of Pontoosuc. The mayor has read the draft of the document that BRPC plans to send to Uncle Sam. The mayor is not happy. We hear through our spies of a call-on-the-carpet meeting between Mayor Jimmy Ruberto and Karns. The paint was peeling off the walls by the time the mayor was done.
Ruberto is in for criticism on the document. If the efforts were so poor, why didn’t he intervene much sooner? Was he riding herd or did he let it slip? Why didn’t he insist that Ruffer attend more meetings? Why wait for now, especially when The Planet was spelling it out for him in January and February? The defense will be that the mayor is a delegator, not a micro-manager. He relied on the committee and on the BRPC. They dropped the ball. If he did get involved, critics would have then pounce on him for interfering.
The Planet thinks that’s a weak argument, by the way. We wanted the mayor to turn over the tables at BRPC sooner, and he didn’t. When a head coach delegates, he better be sure his deputies can deliver. If they don’t, the coach looks bad. That’s cause for heads to roll in the NFL, NBA, and NHL.
Ruberto, according to spies, blasted BRPC’s work in guiding the CEDS committee. We hear that Ruberto has been on the phones since last week, complaining to BRPC about the poor quality and shoddy effort of the report. Sources say the mayor thought it to be an embarrassing, amateurish effort. The Planet’s gumshoes report the mayor tore Karns a new one, saying the process employed by BRPC in CEDS was a poor one and that the result was equally poor.
Our attempts to get comment from Ruberto were unsuccessful, but we know the information is good.
My, but It’s Getting Drafty in There
The Planet notes that the mayor has put the heat on BRPC during the public input period, one that is under way now. Remember, this is a draft document. To be fair to all, The Planet has not read it yet, but we will. If the document is way short of the mark, it may be what one members of the CEDS committee calls “irredeemable.” You’ll rcall The Planet reported on the inside grumbling from CEDS committee members over the actions and inactions of Karns and his BRPC team. Pittsfield appears to be receiving the bitter fruit of this inrtasquad squabbling once again.
Whiter the Council? It Withered. So did Its Ally, The Boring Broadsheet
And where has been the city council in all of this? Why didn’t councilors attend meetings? Why didn’t they express interest? They certainly knew about the CEDS folly-in-the-making, since The Planet is now must reading for all of My Right Honorable Good Friends (you know you have an avid reader when you hear, “I don’t follow The Planet!). Once again, the council dropped the ball. We won’t invoke the phrase “PHONY BASTARDS.” We promise.
The Planet also notes how the Boring Broadsheet, under McPublisher Andy Mick, hasn’t covered a letter’s worth on CEDS or what it means. Mick, who as Conor Berry revealed has imposed a newsroom muzzle on any story that might be an embarrassment to the GOB network (whose upper tier is male, white, rich, and fatcatted), probably told them to back off of the CEDS story as soon as The Planet began to expose the cracks. It might not look good. When you have people like Ruffer and Supranowicz on the committee responsible for a folly, you can be sure the BB will turn away.
“All the news that’s ignored.”
The Planet has learned also that prior to the CEDS draft document being released (you can read it at the BRPC website), Ruberto had a number of conversations with BRPC.
Will the mayor take action and demand a rewrite or an overhaul of the document? The Planet says no, based on our discussions with sources. To engage in a last-second revision of a document that has been committeed to death for six months is to push the panic button. That button doesn’t work anymore from overuse. We say this, again, intending to read the document ourselves to either confirm or revise this judgment.
The Planet will not say “WE TOLD YOU SO” about CEDS.
Four on the Floor in 4?
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, APRIL 28, 2011) — With nomination papers (available at City Clerk Linda Tyer’s office at city hall on Monday) come candidates.
Ward 4 councilor and our Right Honorable Good Friend Mike Ward, who has apparently stopped talking to The Planet for our sin of calling the work of the city council during the days of barroom politics the work of “phony bastards,” is giving up the ghost. Petulance does not fit Ward well, but it could well be the pressures of a new job, a young family, etc. Our heart is large and full of forgiveness. It’s also made of stone when it must be.
The seat in Ward 4 as wide open as the mouth of the Mississippi.
Enter, Stage Left: The Man from Mensa
One man to dive into what will be familiar waters will be Chuck Vincelette, The Man from Mensa. Vincelette is confirmed for 4, not officially, of course, but via The Planet’s sources. We had envisioned him in an at-large bid, but The Man has decided to re-up for a seat he held and for constituents he represented so well for a number of years. Vincelette brings intelligence, sincerity, experience, and an excellent understanding of the issues to what may be a crowded table.
Chris Connell, Jody Phillips, and Alf Barbalunga: A Race for the Ages?
Besides Vincelette, the race could and probably will feature Chris Connell, Ward’s opponent in the previous election; former city clerk Jody Philipps, and probation officer Alf Barbalunga. That would be a race for which to pay: four experienced candidates with strong resumes and not a shrinking violet in the bunch.
EXCLUSIVE FROM THE PLANET: BIANCHI IS IN
We’re burying the lead here, we realize, but we look at it as a way to get folks to read further. Cutting to a long chase, let The Planet be the first to declare Dan Bianchi a candidate for mayor in the 2011 campaign. He’s made no official announcement. He’s hemmed and hawed. He’s played it closer to the vest than a riverboat gambler, but at the end of the day, Bianchi is in.
The Wise Guys at The Planet have immediately installed Bianchi as a 5:2 favorite over Peter Marchetti and 10:1 over Joe Nichols. As you recall, Bianchi lost a photo finish to Mayor Jimmy Ruberto in 2009.
The Planet will not reveal how we know that Bianchi is “in,” except to say we didn’t get it from Bianchi. Our sources, however, would have reason to know.
He likely will not take out nomination papers for a while, to watch as the mayoral field grows and then makes an official announcement the Big News for that time in the campaign. The Planet thinks it will be well into the summer before he makes it official. Meanwhile, work will be done. When Bianchi DOES announce, the Boring Broadsheet will act like it’s news and will conveniently “forget” where it first broke.
If Lee Harvey Oswald had taken out the president today and turned himself into BB publisher Andy Mick with a signed confession, Mick would spike the story.So don’t look for any dynamic coverage of Campaign 2011. The Planet looks forward to giving the BB a red head from the flames of our jet exhaust.
MOVING ON FOR NOW, BUT THAT’S A LOT OF NEWS IN A SHROT TIME AND SPACE. OUR FIRST ADD LATER WILL HAVE THE EXCLUSIVE ON MAYOR RUBERTO’S ANGER REGARDING THE BERKSHIRE REGIONAL PLANNING COMMISSION. HE READ THEM THE RIOT ACT OVER THE CEDS DRAFT DOCUMENT. TUNE IN LATER. THE PAINT WILL PEEL. LOVE TO ALL.