APATHY WINS AGAIN … plus … BIANCHI SLIPS INTO THE DRIVER’S SEAT … MARCHETTI’S LACKLUSTER PRELIM CAMPAIGN COMES BACK TO HAUNT HIM … NOW IT’S ON TO NOVEMBER
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
A LANDSLIDE FOR APATHY
The fact that under 25% of the electorate voted yesterday for the county seat’s most important municipal office illustrates the point THE PLANET has made in the past couple of days, both in writing and speaking: the democratic process is d-e-a-d in Pittsfield.
Should you care to argue the other side — that it is not dead, or worse, alive and well — requires you then to respect the majority outcome of yesterday’s contests. You will have to admit that NO ONE won. FACT: More than 75% chose not to participate. That is a landslide, again, for apathy.
“Apathy,” a derivative of “path” with a contradictory prefix, parses interestingly. My good friends, apathy does not necessarily indicate lack of concern or dispassion, though it often does just that
Actually, the languor of the electorate may be a reasonable reaction to:
— The paltry choices that each in election cycle present themselves.
— A corrupt political system that gives “insiders” and special interests profound advantages.
— Year after year of political bickering, gridlock, and partisanship.
— Indicted and convicted politicians (e.g., Bulger, Finneran, DiMasi)
— Challenging issues and problems that become intractable (for example, health care) because of political spinelessness.
— The continuing growth of government to cancerous levels.
— Less services for higher taxes.
— A combination of all of the above.
A conscious decision not to support a corrupt system, therefore, can be defended on ethical grounds.
Certainly, a percentage of those who don’t vote refrain from this privilege because of ignorance, stupidity, sloth, or a lazy “The world owes me a living” lifestyle. Those who don’t vote for these or similar reasons should be taken out behind the woodshed for special attention. If they don’t come back, society gains by the loss.
BIanchi Gets Behind the Wheel in the Driver’s Seat
As THE PLANET called it, Dan Bianchi finished first in the elimination round for the corner office in Pittsfield, with just under 50% of the 6,948 votes cast (3,427). Peter Marchetti placed with 40% (2,759). Joe Nichols finished a dismal third with 9% (641). The other two candidates were non-factors (121 votes combined). These results give the Bianchi campaign a full head of steam at it leaves the phantom (and torn down) Union Station gate for the final push to November.
Marchetti will be hard pressed to find support in the 762 (11%) votes garnered by the other three candidates, and he must make up nearly 10%. This suggests Marchetti’s best chance for a come-from-behind win will be to find new voters, “friendly” souls who didn’t come out to the polls on Sept. 27 but who, from his position, must be persuaded to vote. This population no doubt wears the pedigree of the GOB.
Do watch Marchetti’s backers. They may get desperate.
From the get-go, Marchetti has been associated with the status-quo, the special interests, and the GOB. He did nothing in the prelim to assuage fears that he offers change, which — reduce the sap to nectar — is what voters want. Marchetti acted tenuous and appeared uncomfortable, even scared, especially in confrontational situations such as the debate. He didn’t exude confidence, either in himself or his positions. His default attitude came off as defensive, even when there was no evidence of an attack. When the battle began, for instance on debate night, he wilted.
He may take solace in knowing there’s still time to turn it around, but his lackluster effort in the prelim dug a deep hole in the sand. Does Marchetti have what it takes to climb out, stand up, and run over? We shall see.
NO MORE HIDING IN THE AT-LARGE FOREST
You have to understand that up to now, Marchetti has run, and won, at-large. The at-large fields in which he competed allowed a certain amount of cover in crowded fields. He has never run a citywide race, mano-eh-mano. On the other hand, Bianchi won five elections competing one-on-one in Ward 6. He’s used to hand-to-hand combat.
When THE PLANET contacted Marchetti to see if he would agree to an informal sitdown with Bianchi and Nichols in the prelim, Marchetti suddenly expressed Clara-Barton-like concern for Donna Walto and Steve Fillio, two political non-entities who had ZERO chance of winning. Had Marchetti wiped the rose-colored fog from his specs, he would have seen this for the blunder that it was, for Marchetti, despite what he thought, wasn’t the front runner. He therefore ducked a golden opportunity to assert himself against his chief (and his ONLY rival), Dan Bianchi, when he declined THE PLANET’s civic-minded offer.
The light went on. That’s when THE PLANET realized that Marchetti’s campaign was on life support. Marchetti wanted the extra people in the room so he wouldn’t have to be in the spotlight, especially with THE PLANET asking the questions. Bianchi, by the way, also thought Fillio and Walto should have been invited, but he gave off much more comfortable vibes. He acted like a man who knew he would win round one, and he wanted to keep his powder dry for the finals.
PLANET TO OFFER BIANCHI AND MARCHETTI FREE PASSES TO THE HOT SEAT. DO THEY DARE ACCEPT??
Well, folks, the finals are here, a five-week push to November to decide the future direction of the city. THE PLANET hasn’t quite fixed the plan, but, again — and especially now, with only TWO men vying for one job — we generally (and generously) offer our services as moderator to one … or a series … of forums.
We would even consider one a week for four weeks, each dealing with different issues. We will do them live, on radio, on TV, in auditoriums, on stages, in parks, or wherever the two campaigns want. We make this offer with only one tiny proviso: That the forums be of THE PLANET’s design.
We shall be contacting the respective campaigns for their views on this. THE PLANET will not, of course, serve as a stooge for the “typical” foam-peanut debates.
You know the kind: A stiff of a moderator wearing a tie and sitting behind a table or podium asks a series of canned questions that the candidates know in advance. The candidates, like trained seals, “oit oit” their responses in 30-, 60- or 90-second snippets — little more, actually, than truncated versions of their boring stump speeches. Such an exercise invariably proves as worthless as bull nipples and more embarrassing than a public piss shiver.
THE PLANET envisions our patented brand of forum:
— The two candidates, seated in chairs in close proximity to each other, so they can look each other in the eyes and address each other directly. No podiums, no desks, and no notes.
— No shot clock. The moderator directs discussion and keeps things moving.
— Candidates can interrogate each other, as the moderator allows.
— The moderator roams the stage, floor, or studio (if this is for TV) with a hand held mic. Questions and topics come quickly. Candidates must be alert and focused.
— If a candidate ducks a question, the moderator presses, hard.
THEY’RE NOT RUNNING FOR OFFICE; THEY’RE ASKING YOU — THE BOSS — FOR A JOB
You see, when someone runs for office, they’re coming hat-in-hand to We the People, the bosses, looking for work. Campaigns are job interviews. That’s how candidates should be treated: As applicants. Treat them professionally and with respect, but make them sweat a little. Put their feet to the fire. Elicit reliable information on important issues.
During the interview, questions are specific and pointed. On election day, the owners (the electorate) decides who gets hired.
THEY report to US, and not the other way around.
FROM HERE ON OUT
Both Bianchi and Nichols need to conduct themselves as if they realize this important fact. Thus far, Bianchi has done the better job of this. No one has thrown a perfect game, of course, and no one will. Human beings, not machines, make for politics.
The mayoral race will prove interesting, and the onus rests with Marchetti, who must declare, once and for all, who he is and what he stands for, specifically. He must jettison the ballast of his boring bromides. He has to stop dancing like Soulja Boy when tough issues show their inconvenient face. He must convince people that he’s not a GOB stooge. He claims he’s not. Well, then, let’s see it. Convince us.
In short, Marchetti must roll the bones. If he continues his baby steps into political manhood, he will be crushed in November. Contrarily, if he comes to life and begins to roar, he’s got a shot.
Marchetti’s had long enough to do this, but as THE PLANET said earlier, in his many previous elections, he could hide in the at-large forest. Now he’s locked in man-to-man combat, a position that, one would think, he’d find attractive. Instead, he acts as if he’s just seen Marley’s ghost.
In light of these comments, we again point out: THE PLANET has no dog in this hunt. We based our comments on the evidence, not on the presumptions or prejudices. We tell the truth.
Simple as that.
FOLKS, WE JUST SAW HAPPY “H” SLIDING DOWN A RAINBOW, SO WE MUST GO INTO THE DAY. AS ALWAYS,
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.