PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, AUG. 18, 2011) — On the road, here and there, hither and yon, pursuing our craft, THE PLANET returns to our den in the FORTRESS to share these observations, which have accumulated during our two-day hegira:

· THE PLANET has asked presumed mayoral candidate Dan Bianchi to respond to our candidates’ question on drug testing. We want to know his position on the unconditional implementation of random drug testing in the city of Pittsfield for members of the fire department, first, and then for all municipal public employees. To date, three candidates for city office have responded to this question: school committee candidate Terry Kinnas and mayoral candidates Joe Nichols and Peter Marchetti. Each supports such testing.

* It’s clear that the public overwhelmingly favors such testing. As one responder to THE PLANET said, it would be “political suicide” for a candidate for city office to oppose this measure. Of course, candidates can and do say anything to get elected. The test will be after they take office. Will they live up to their word or flush We The People down the porcelain commode, as they usually do?

· The red paint on the crosswalks of Pittsfield was a horrendous and unsafe color, the literal portrait of a huge mistake. The city also evidently used the cheapest brand of paint available, considering how fast the paint has worn off. THE PLANET predicted this months ago, when the work crews applied the odd hue. Just when you think the state of downtown Pittsfield couldn’t get any more tenuous …

· … Speaking of which, we talked to an artist whose studio is downtown in Pittsfield. She requeted that we not use her name, and we shall honor that request. She says she “has had it.” Leaving aside the question of rent, she says she’s sick of “the horrible noise, hearing the ‘f” word constantly throughout the day, the dirt and dust coming through the screen, the creepy people, the druggies, and the empty storefronts, and general mood. It’s awful.” Third Thursdays are fun and well worthwhile, but a handful of festive days during summer do not a Petula-Clark-Downtown make. THE PLANET knows. We went “upstreet” as a kid during downtown’s Golden Era. As an adult, we had offices in the heart of downtown for 28 years (June 4, 1980 to Sept. 1, 2008). We saw the gradual loss of glory into its present derelict fate.

· On a related downtown note, we ask: Is downtown’s “present derelict fate” the locale’s ultimate fate or not?With the economy tanking again, with the radioactive generation of municipal politics having beaten down decent people, with the scarcity of decent jobs, with chunk-thick corruption, and with too many of the Bad Element (“Just one took, that’s all it look, yeah, just one took” — [no, it’s not a typo … use your head, THE PLANET’s Babe Ruth coach used to say]). We hear of several establishments, most new some not, in serious financial trouble. These include a barbershop, at least two restaurants, a clothing store, a variety/sundries store … we will stop there. Why are these stores in jeopardy? The business simply isn’t there. The occasional bright spots — Dotties on North and Meadowview, for example — provide a ray of hope, but how can these islands of relative prosperity hold out?

· Where are the downtown foot patrols? A few days ago, a responder to one of this website’s posts asked THE PLANET why WE didn’t single-handedly clean up the low-lifes that infect downtown like the plague, like we are Marshall Dillon and that it’s our job to clean up Dodge. We answered with the truth: It’s not the crusading journalist’s job to lift one finger to do the work for which Joe and Mary Jane Kapanski — your quintessential Pittsfield taxpayers — already handsomely pay. It’s the job of the cops. The city needs to start patrolling, policing, and punishing the lay-abouts, druggies, bums, and others of the not-so-exclusive club. Chief Wynn, you mean to say you can’t free up six officers, two for each shift, from desk duty and paper shuffling? With all due respect, we don’t buy it. One place to get immediate help without a loss of coverage: pull all the D.A.R.E. officers from the schools. D.A.R.E. is a waste of money. The D.A.R.E. officers front a rah-rah, feel-good, “ooooooh-the-city-is-doing-something-about-rampant-teen-drug-abuse” organization. Put these good people to better use pounding the downtown beat and pounding the heads of the white and dark trash, the scum, and the riff-raff.

· As the Pittsfield Colonials wind down the season, three pertinent questions remain: (1) Will they make the playoffs and possibly bring the Can-Am League crown to Pittsfield, (2) Will the team be back for 2012, and (3) Will the vendors and contractors be paid 100 cents on the dollar? We will press for answers.



  1. Jim Gleason
    August 18, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    According to a certain local radio talk show host, North St. has never been more alive, especially last night during the word x word festival taking place on North St. and close environs. Dan, is his or your version the true situation? I think I believe you. but tell us if there’s any truth to his stories.

  2. Concern
    August 18, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    It may be alive but why the hell is it so dark!!!!! Tell them to turn up the lights.

  3. beezer
    August 18, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    Thank you, Megan Whilden! Pittsfields short money, and fun times for all third thursday and more, Cultural Czarina!

    • danvalenti
      August 18, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

      Agree. Megan has done a great job as the CC, and Third Thursday needs to keep going as the success that it is.

  4. Dusty
    August 18, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

    Is it really chief Wynn who could get the cops out on Norths st? My guess is that this guy does exactly what the mayor tells him to do. And the mayor could tell him to put foot patrols on Norths st and have them out tomorrow with boots shined.

    As usual you treat Ruberto with kid gloves. You say the city is coming apart at the seams but nothing seems to be Rubertos fault in your eyes.

  5. Concern
    August 18, 2011 at 4:11 pm #

    I know your right that Ruberto controls the Chief. He lives in Mayors office, he has to have Ruberto ‘s ok before he makes any decision. That’s why Ruberto has a acting Fire and Police Chief. He can change them at his wish, I believe. Anyone have a better answer to that.

  6. JahnDoh
    August 18, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

    Dan, someone told me this past weekend that Pittsfield only has 53 cops. Is that true? If it is, then that is not nearly enough to make any dent in the crime in this forsaken city.

    • danvalenti
      August 18, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

      That figure sounds low to me. I shall check and try to post the number tomorrow.

      • LV
        August 20, 2011 at 7:53 am #

        There are just about as many cops as firemen. There are approx 90 firemen. Years ago there used to be 160.

        • danvalenti
          August 20, 2011 at 9:02 am #

          Thank you. Yes, the police and fire are equivalent in staffing. I couldn’t get an exact number, but for police it’s “around” 90. Probably just shy, in the 85 to 87 range.

          • LV
            August 20, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

            Exactly. Shy of 90.

  7. Dee
    August 18, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

    I feel like a broken record sometimes. I am the consumer that North Street is looking for. However, it’s not the construction that is keeping me off the ‘strip’, it’s the skanks and slags. There is nothing on North Street that I can’t get somewhere else where I don’t have to deal with the looks, the comments, or the general feeling of unease. I grew up walking to North Street, shopping the whole day from one end to the other, and then walking back home. I was allowed to do this as a 12 year-old, with my 14 year-old sister. I can’t imagine any parent who would allow that now. It is flat out unsafe.

    I will have to say however that for the first time in a long while I actually saw police out and about today. Granted they were driving all around Pittsfield and not patrolling, but at least they were out.

    Until there is a police presence on North Street pushing the skanks and slags back into the bowels of the City, North Street will continue to languish.

    Meanwhile, my two cents on mayorial race. I have listened to Nichols, Marchetti and Bianchi on our local favorite/unfavorite radio program. Nichols is too inexperienced. Marchetti is a true politician – tell them anything they want to hear, but offer no real answers or solutions. Bianchi – wow! I was impressed with what he had to say and how he said it. . This man is not a politican but has a wonderful way of speaking and conveying a positive message about where he would like the City to go. Hopefully he will at least try to be a politican and campaign hard for the office. I think he would be a refreshing change for Pittsfield in a time they need change the most.

    • danvalenti
      August 18, 2011 at 7:31 pm #

      Well written, well expressed, and well done. Your comments on downtown are taken to heart by the vast majority. It seems like it’s at another “low.”

    • Italian Voter
      August 19, 2011 at 8:05 am #

      There seems to be definitive political bias to your comments. Are you related to Bianchi ?

      • danvalenti
        August 19, 2011 at 9:11 am #

        No, THE PLANET isn’t related to Bianchi.

  8. Shakes His Head
    August 18, 2011 at 9:33 pm #

    Police cameras are used in many pedestrian heavy centers to assist with community policing. I’m sure they are eligible expenses under the federal drug forfeiture funds program. If only washed up politicians were paid consultant fees from the companies that sold these units instead of red light ticket contractors, the city may actually investigate if the are a good investment.

    • Allen
      August 19, 2011 at 6:08 am #

      Interesting. So what did the mayor say when you suggested this to him?

  9. Richard
    August 19, 2011 at 7:24 am #

    Patting the crosswalks was a waste of time and money because people walk everywhere but on the crosswalks and if the police are on North St they don’t even try to get people to use them. So red or blue it was a waste of the people’s money.

  10. Shakes His Head
    August 19, 2011 at 9:06 am #

    High-visibility tape or micromilling with thermoplastic on a zebra stripe is the right way to demarcate crosswalks.

    • danvalenti
      August 19, 2011 at 9:10 am #

      Agree. Zebra-striping has been shown to the be most efficacious. Great Britain has one of the lowest incidences of pedestrian-vehicle accidents in part because of zebra tape or paint pattern.

  11. Shakes His Head
    August 19, 2011 at 9:32 am #

    Thanks for the vote of confidence,Dan. I’d like to point out that it is not a European treatment, there are are many best practices that the City ignores. Of course, when the United Way director mows down pedestrians with nary a charge, why should the motoring public care?

  12. Concern
    August 19, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    You but have you seen pedestrians up there ( all over ) walking. Oh my, lucky there isn’t more people Mowed over

  13. Concern
    August 19, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    Also where she mowed someone over, how dark was that corner. Like North St to dark. Turn up the lights.