!!PLANET EXCLUSIVE!! WHAT HAPPENED with MAYOR RUBERTO in ‘SIGNGATE ’11’ … plus, MAYOR FAVORS RANDOM DRUG TESTING FOR ALL PUBLIC EMPLOYEES
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, AUG. 24, 2011) — It’s amazing. We have huge questions facing candidates and voters in Campaign ’11, and everyone wants to talk about …
And what’s the big mystery about Signgate? A mayor takes down the sign of the rival of the candidate he’s backing and replaces it with her sign. It happens every day, doesn’t it?
What do the Words on Signgate Say? THE PLANET has the story.
QUESTION #1: Did Signgate happen? Did Mayor Jimmy Ruberto take down a “Ryan Scago for State Rep” lawn sign and replace it with a “Tricia Farley-Bouvier for State Rep” sign?
ANSWER: Yes. THE PLANET interviewed Mayor Ruberto, who admitted to the facts: “Yes, indeed. It was me taking down the Ryan Scago sign,” Ruberto told THE PLANET.
QUESTION #2: Why did he do it?
ANSWER: Because, the mayor said, he was asked to do it by the lawn’s lessor, and he did so as a favor.
QUESTION #3: What were the circumstances?
ANSWER: After talking to Ruberto, a couple of the eyewitnesses, and others who might be able to shed some light on this, here’s what appears to have happened:
It’s no secret that Mayor Ruberto is actively and full throttle campaigning for Tricia Farley-Bouvier in the special election for 3rd Berkshire Rep to serve 12 of Pittsfield’s 14 precincts in the legislature on Beacon Hill in Boston. Part of that involves putting up lawn signs, and you’ve probably noticed how TFB’s signs have been proliferating since the weekend. As part of this effort, the mayor stopped by a commercial establishment run by a person that he knows.
When Ruberto arrived at the establishment, he noticed a black-and-yellow Scago sign. He asked the proprietor of the establishment about the sign, saying that he (the mayor) wanted to put up a TFB sign. The proprietor told Ruberto that someone had put the Scago sign up in front of the establishment without permission and expressed wanting the sign to come down. The proprietor gave permission to Ruberto to put up the TFB sign. According to the mayor, the proprietor then said he would take the Scago sign down. The mayor offered to do it when he put up the TFB sign. The proprietor thanked the mayor for the small favor, and Ruberto did so. He put up TFB and took down SCAGO, and was seen in the act.
QUESTION #4: Were the circumstances mitigating?
ANSWER: It appears so. THE PLANET gives Ruberto a powder because we have reason to believe his account of the events is true. We have vetted Ruberto’s story as best we can and with as much as re-creation, investigation, and hindsight allow in a time crunch.
* Ruberto put up a sign for someone he supports. He got permisson to do so.
* Ruberto was asked to take a sign down that did not have the owner’s permission. He did so as a favor. In the vast scheme of things, where’s the problem?
This scenario makes sense because of Ruberto’s relationship with the Scagos. Jimmy and Ryan’s dad, Frankie, grew up together and went to St. Joe’s together. He’s been lifelong friends of the family, including Frank’s widow, Judy.
In our conversation, Ruberto emphasized his close relationship with the Scagos and expressed a hope that the incident wouldn’t do anything to damage the friendship. He called Ryan Scago “a fine young man. The important element of the story is that Ryan did not have permission” to put the sign up. Ruberto chalked it up to the lad’s inexperience.
Pittsfield politics being a combination of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, the story has raced around town like a horse name Wildfire. The most common version is that Ruberto went up to the establishment, put the muscle on the owner, demanded the Scago sign be removed, and — voila! — the Tricia sign goes up. That version breaks down once you talk with the participants. Ruberto haters will not want to hear that, but in this case, it appears that Signgate is written with “No Big Deal.”
Yeah, Right, Tell ’em Angelo Sent You
It’s quite unlike Signate ’09, when Angelo Stracuzzi, then riding high as CEO of the largest financial institution in Berkshire County, essentially blackmailed at least one store owner to removed a DAN BIANCHI FOR MAYOR sign and replace it with a RUBERTO sign. In that case, the evidence was conclusive beyond a reasonable doubt. The revelations about Stracuzzi’s subsequent behavior stemming from incidents on consecutive days in York County, Maine, in July 2005 involving two underage males as well as the subsequent happenings involving Stracuzzi’s interactions with the Berkshire County Probation Department only confirmed the dirty trick of Signgate ’09. Signgate ’11 appears to be nothing of the sort.
Campaign 2011, however, is just getting going. This has been one of the sleepiest campaigns in memory, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. We do know, though, that things will perk up. The Bianchi-Marchetti-Nichols tag team match for mayor and the Tricia-Pam Malumphy cat fight will add zest. Stay tuned, as we say in broadcasting.
Ruberto in Favor of Random Drug Testing for All Public Officials and Employees
THE PLANET did take the opportunity to get Mayor Ruberto’s view on random drug testing. Ruberto didn’t hesitate in supporting such tests “for all municipal employees, including the mayor, his staff, and all elected and appointed officials.”
Ruberto drew the line for volunteer services, “because people are giving of their time, talent, and intellect, and we would have to respect that.” But for everyone else, Ruberto said, yes. Test them. He said he considered it one of the least expectations that citizens should have, that the officials who represent them are free from the abuse of illegal substances. Random testing helps provide that assurance.
Ruberto make an excellent point about such tests, one THE PLANET has previously made — one that addresses the objections of cost. Random testing is unannounced. A person never knows when they will be asked to provide a urine sample. It could be today or not for 10 years. The uncertainty helps keep then on their toes and walking a straighter line. Testing is done with just enough frequency and visibility to act as an effective deterrent.
Random testing, therefore, would be affordable. Everyone is not tested all the time on a routine basis. Selected individuals are tested on surprise occasions on a routine basis. The costs are fractional and more than outweighed by the benefits of having a cleaner public workforce. Random drug testing stands as the most effective safeguard that our public servants are clean.
BACK LATER WITH MORE. UNTIL THEN …
… “OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE”
LOVE TO ALL.