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.






  1. Still wondering
    August 24, 2011 at 10:01 am #

    There will be no “cat-fight” between Pam and Tricia blah-blah. Pam will be in the “real” election and by then Tricia will have been defeated in the primary and looking for a job.

  2. Maxwell Edison
    August 24, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    Not everyone wants to talk about “Signgate”.

    You’re changing the subject because Dan Bianchi called your bluff on random drug testing. You gave him multiple chances to respond but he did not respond. Why is he not getting the same tar and feather treatment you gave Jonathan Lothrop?

    • danvalenti
      August 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

      I explained it before. Let me try again. I’ll write slowly, so this sinks in: Marchetti and Nichols formally launched their campaigns. Each responded. Bianchi is still a presumed candidate until he officially launches, which he will do tonight. It’s a non-issue. Why try to make it one? The only logical explanation I can think of is that you are supporting another candidate for mayor. Am I correct? If so, can you tell us who that is and why you think he or she will be better than Bianchi. If that is not correct, can you provide an explanation. Stop looking for conspiracies where there aren’t any, my friend.

      • Maxwell Edison
        August 24, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

        I’m not working for any candidate. I just think it was awkward the way you suddenly backed off the whole subject of Bianchi’s silence when it was a headline on The Planet just three posts ago. You said:

        “If Bianchi HAS received the question and had not responded, that is another matter. THE PLANET isn’t messing around with ANY candidate who ducks our questions. We ask, as a member of the Fourth Estate, on behalf of We The People. They do not personally have the chance — each and every one — to hear politicians flap their gums on campaign platforms.”

        Maybe this is a pro-Bianchi story? Dan’s wise decision to ignore the fabricated DrugTestGate, even in the face of threats from The Planet, is the first sign of leadership this entire campaign season.

        It also means The Planet has jumped the shark as a “Kingmaker”.

        • danvalenti
          August 24, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

          Your position is understandable, though it truly isn’t anything more than waiting for the guy to announce. Perhaps it was a wise move for him. We’ll see how The Big 3 mayoral candidates hold up during the campaign.
          And no, THE PLANET is not nor would we want to be Kingmaker. In fact, that insult is most objectionable, because it assumes we’re secretly backing or opposing candidates. Such is not the case.

          • Maxwell Edison
            August 25, 2011 at 8:22 am #

            Call it what you like, you do wish to have influence in the elections. And that influence is going to be limited if one of the Big 3 is tuning you out. Bianchi could have responded to your messages with a simple “stay tuned, all will be revealed on Wednesday night” but instead he chose to call your bluff, thus taking any tooth out of future deadlines issued to candidates by The Planet.

          • danvalenti
            August 25, 2011 at 10:00 am #

            You can choose your own interpretation. As the only one who can actually know my intentions, I’m correcting you with the truth. That you prefer your fantasy is your choice.

            I will use your comment to make share something with you and my readers: I enter every campaign trying to take everything I know about candidates simply as background information. This is done to limit any lingering tastes from previous actions. It’s the Bill Belichick model. True, works better with football than political reporting, but it has a useful adaptation. Control the things you can control, forget about what’s past, and concentrate on what is happening now. THE PLANET enters the campaign with an opened mind and notebook. We will report and comment on what we see, calling them as we see them — no more, no less.

  3. beezer
    August 24, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    Because, we like Dan!

  4. rick
    August 24, 2011 at 10:51 am #

    i agree with gleason…. i cant wait for that scum bag roberto to be gone, just about everything hes involved with has a sleazy over tone to it…… did the toad return the sign to the scago camp?

    • danvalenti
      August 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

      That’s a good question. I shall try to find out. What happened to Scago’s sign?

      • Steve Wade
        August 24, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

        Dan please find out where the sign is. I won’t be able to sleep until I know! Thanks for this important scoop! Wow Dan you are the best at digging up truely important news!


  5. Concern
    August 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    Signgate let it be over and move on

  6. Ron Kitterman
    August 24, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    Thanks Dan for providing the details. Is there anything to TFB sort of overstating her qualifications on her web page ? Or is this just a topix thing ? She shouldn’t be punished for the mayors actions so maybe she isn’t a faker yet.

    • danvalenti
      August 24, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

      I haven’t seen her web page, but I shall check out.
      Mayor Ruberto has every right to campaign hard for the person he feels is best for the job. He did tell me he asked TFB how much she wanted him to stump on her behalf, and she told him: full throttle.

  7. Dusty
    August 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    two things: When was the last time an acting mayor ran around putting up lawn signs for his secretary? there is no way in hell he believes she is the best candidate so what is his real motivation?

    Dan, with all that has happened during the last 8 years I can’t remember you ever finding fault with anything Ruberto has done. But you have gone out of your way to make apologies for him. This is just an opinion and I do not even want a response.

    • danvalenti
      August 24, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

      Counting radio, my columns in the Eagle and Gazette, and various postings, I’ve given Ruberto a rough ride on numerous occasions (Colonial spending, various jobs initiative, puncturing the illusion of a “renaissance” on North Street, the performance of PEDA … I could go on and on). You either didn’t see those or you have forgotten.

      I find it true in politics. People who support candidate A remember every unflattering word I write about A and tend to block out the complimentary articles. It works the same with Candidate B. For instance, Dusty, I already have persons in both the Bianchi and Marchetti camps expressing the view that I am secretly pushing for the other guy!

      As for Signgate, THE PLANET wasn’t making apologies. We heard about the issue, investigated, and reported what happened. That’s all.

      I enjoy your feedback.

      • Dusty
        August 24, 2011 at 5:00 pm #

        I remember you railing against all those things. What I can’t remember, is you tying his name to any of them.

        And considering the people involved, I have a hard time swallowing the Signgate story. Just doesn’t pass the sniff test for me.

  8. just saying
    August 24, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

    During the last election cycle, a friend who lives in the Pecks road area had multiple ruberto signs placed at the end of his property.
    Yes, he had been asked if the signs could be placed there. The problem is that he supported Bianchi, and told the ruberto person not to place the signs.
    The signs were removed, quickly, by myself and the property owner.

  9. Aclu
    August 24, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

    I wonder who Dan will vote for mayor? Oh yeah no one he’s not from Pittsfield .

  10. just saying
    August 24, 2011 at 4:12 pm #


    Yes, we know where DV lives.
    You are not the first to bring this astounding news to the forefront. Please be the last.

  11. Aclu
    August 24, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

    I’m sorry but judging by most of the comments I read I assumed most of you stupid. But if someone is going to be the savior of Pittsfield I think they should have a vested intrest . Im just saying.

  12. Eric Vincelette
    August 24, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

    Trust me, you don’t have to currently live in Pittsfield to have a vested interest in Pittsfield. I know Dan has family there and was born , grew up in and lived there for many , many years, as did I and that alone makes one have a vested interest in Pittsfield, never mind the fact that as Berkshire residents WE all need Pittsfield to get its act together as a hub….Just saying

  13. Aclu
    August 24, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

    And I believe Pittsfield could bring in more revenue be charging Lenox more for sewer treatment. This would make the “hub” stronger and would only affect the Lenox millionaire . Just saying

  14. just saying
    August 24, 2011 at 6:58 pm #


    A great many of us who live in surrounding towns have a great deal of interest in what transpires in Pittsfield. The people that run (ruin) Pittsfield have a tremendous effect on those who live outside of Pittsfield. The state money given to Pittsfield, the attention of the media on Pittsfield’s decline, the state of education, (lack of) etc. It all adds up to declining property values and higher taxes.
    Aclu, you are either being deceitful, or perhaps you are ignorant.
    The statements you make lead me to think that you don’t have a strong grasp on how the policy of Pittsfield will affect those of us that live in Berkshire County.
    So, dear aclu, please open your damn eyes, Pittsfield makes and breaks the community around it.
    Mr. Vincelette’s response reflects exactly what I have stated.
    Aclu- read and learn.

  15. Aclu
    August 24, 2011 at 7:02 pm #

    Where do we send the tax bill for all the help we give you.

  16. just saying
    August 24, 2011 at 7:05 pm #

    Your post @ 18:37 makes a lot of sense.
    Didn’t see it until now.
    As always, credit where it is due.

  17. Shakes His Head
    August 24, 2011 at 7:51 pm #


    I understand your intent, but it just doesn’t work that way. If it got expensive, Lenox would just build its own facilities. A better question to ask is…why did politicians put off examining water and sewer rates for all these years (in order to keep rates low and remain popular) but leave the cupboard bare and a 20+ million dollar repair bill looming? Those rates should be examined annually and a sinking enterprise fund created to plan for future capital repairs and improvements for compliance with state and federal laws. Although municipalities that sell those services to others typical charge higher fees than to those residents, there is no way a hike of that magnitude would go uncontested. Heck, Dalton could say all the rain that collects in the reservoirs over there to feed Pittsfield’s thirst is theirs and charge Pittsfield a pretty penny to access it.

    Bring your industry to Pittsfield, we need to sell you some expensive water.

  18. Jonathan Melle
    August 24, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

    What has Mayor Jimmy Ruberto or any of the other Good Old Boys he associates himself with done for Pittsfield except help themselves at the expense of the community? Pittsfield has lost many hundreds of jobs over the past decade, local taxes have increased way above the inflation rate, teen pregnancies double the statewide average, welfare caseloads are growing larger, the public school system is lousy, crime and drug deals are real problems, violence and bullying is the social norm. What rational family would move to Pittsfield? I would not want my would-be children to grow up in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. I would not want them to attend the public schools and receive a substandard education, get bullied and learn how to be aggressive in their social interactions, have a baby at 16 years old and go on welfare, never find a job because they aren’t part of the Good Old Boy network, pay excessively high taxes for diminished public services, and the like. I don’t believe that people choose to live in Pittsfield. Instead, I believe they end up in Pittsfield. Most young people move away. The median age is 60 years old. Pittsfield is a dying community with corrupt politicians like Mayor Jimmy Ruberto!

  19. Robocop Steroidcop
    August 24, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

    I’m no great fan of Ruberto, nor am I one of his many detractors. I for one am satisfied by the planet’s account of ‘Signgate’. More important is just what the candidates will propose to the big questions this website has raised. Also, agree with Just Saying and Mr. Vincelette that you don’t have to live in Pittsfield to be interested in what happens there. Pittsfield for better or worse, is the county seat, if course what happens there has an affect on the county. Agree to that the matter about where valenti lives is a nonissue.

  20. beezer
    August 25, 2011 at 3:42 am #

    It’s all about T F B…to phu… bad!

  21. Ron Kitterman
    August 25, 2011 at 4:12 am #

    The Lessor is the owner of the property who rents it out. The
    Proprietor the proprietor is the owner of the business. Still has the odor of rotten fruit or fish to me but let’s move on.

  22. beezer
    August 25, 2011 at 4:31 am #

    Many are saying the Mayor is disregarding the taxpayers and doing whatever he wants. The kicker is, the taxpayer is paying his salary.

  23. ZZ Bottom
    August 25, 2011 at 6:32 am #

    This has the same ‘dirty trix’ fingerprints as last camapaign, and The Planet mentions the intimidation that Angelo-blow did on rubertos behalf. There wll be more dirty trix in the state reps camapign and in the mayors race. Bianchi and Nichols wll both be targets but I think Bianchi will get the brunt of it. He better be ready to not just to fight but to fight back.

  24. beezer
    August 25, 2011 at 6:49 am #

    @ rock bottom…Never mind the dirty trix..focus on the issues and debate them. The voters are sick of promises,and bickering, whatcha got?

  25. Richard
    August 25, 2011 at 7:26 am #

    I would have though the Mayor would have more important things to do for the city besides spending his time taking down sings.

  26. Jim Gleason
    August 25, 2011 at 8:05 am #

    You write about Angeblow asif he were the plague, but who is his best frield, do you know? I do, it’s ruberto and the people you associate with tell a lot about you, BTW, Squiggy, those lunches in Lenox with Angeblow aren’t as secret as you think they are.

  27. Jonathan Melle
    August 25, 2011 at 8:55 am #