PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, SEPT. 30, 2011) — Where don’t know where, but the time sure is on a jet plane. We just welcomed summer, it seems, and here we are, doing the Romeo and Juliet balcony scene with September. it has been a good, often soggy, month in many respects. We put one book to bed (Jerri Chaplin’s Vertically Coastal), began our latest composition class with a new platoon of privates, got away to an deserted island for a week, made lots of smoothies, witnessed two elections, and went to a rodeo.


On Wednesday, THE PLANET fearlessly ventured into the unchartered wastes of downtown Pittsfield. Knowing there might be women and children aboard, we shall save the colorful details for when the gentlemen retire to the library for cigars and brandy.

We shall, however, share one of our tamer adventures, this occurring at the corner or North Street and Orchard, where all manner of exotic flora and fauna, creatures and critters, wander about in broad daylight. To make a short story short, THE PLANET needed to cross the street. Why? Because we needed to get to the other side, west to east. We ran into The Chicken there, by the way.

Lets be clear, as the witness with whom we traipsed can testify in any court of law, that we pressed the cross button before attempting such a daring maneuver. We waited briefly. The red dont walk icon turned as white as the GOB and PITTSFIELD BELIEVER  did when they learned of Tuesdays results. We also shall remind the color blind that the crosswalk at that location is painted the most horrid shade of cheap red one could want short of a maroon pillow in a marooned brothel. In short, the trip appeared safe as safe as an ocean crossing. Ask the Titanic how it worked out.

Lo and behold, as THE PLANET and guest got about ¼ of the way into the walk, a Pittsfield police cruiser, lights NOT flashing, ran the red light, ignored the crosswalk, and had the old Im Above the Law cop-look, a method of distinction, as my dear friend Ambrose Bierce might put it, so cheap that steroid-choked  fools employ it to accentuate their many incapacities. We do cut the musclehead some slack, of course, since he may have been on an emergency call — nothing as serious as a run to Dunkin Donuts — but certainly in the need to get to my afternoon delight category.

We smiled, wish the fellow well, and presented the left forefinger (forefinger, mind you and none other) in the “J’accuse” manner. THE PLANET will next time make a citizen’s arrest.



The answer to that Eternal Question, my dear friends, depends on where you are. If you are in Stockbridge, Mass., Newburyport, Mass.,  Woodstock, Vt., or any other civilized outpost, the answer is zero. If you are in downtown Pittsfield, the answer is five. Technicians will demand that we make this distinction: four cops and one sheriffs deputy, each looking both official and bored out of their gourds.

Except for the female officer — who was busy watching a beefy construction worker pound a metal stake into the ground — the five were employed scratching themselves, yakking on cell phones, surfing the Internet, chatting with workers, and otherwise oblivious to the traffic driving by in need of instruction or the pedestrians trying to figure out how to walk North to South in the one block from Fenn Street to where the old Pittsfield Sporting Goods used to be located, a million years ago, when there was life and limb downtown.

We didnt count the law enforcement donut team on the other side of the street. Our calculator doesnt count that high. Massachusetts is the only state in the union that allows cops to become crooks and legally rip off taxpayers this way, on construction details. The costs hit the taxpayer indirectly, of course, since the Barney Fifes bill the contractors, who happily take that fee and tack on 20% for the project, for which the bedraggled tax-paying public must pay. Such unnecessary make work, as we all know, solely enables cops with base pays of $60,000 to end up making twice that amount.

While skate boarded and bikers run down passengers, while drives ignore pedestrians and pedestrians deny motorists, while drug dealers deal, and while decent citizens fear for their lives on the mean streets of downtown Pittsfield, theres not a cop ever in sight. Yet when theres a hardhat and a shovel, the entire force gathers to talk on their cell phones, sip their coffee, and eat their donuts. Is that why the police is an armed force created for the participation in crime?

We wonder.



THE PLANET giddily reports that first to accept our challenge of a still-to-be-defined series of debates between Peter Marchetti and Dan Bianchi — should any occur — is

Drumroll, doctor

Pete. Yes. Late Wednesday night, Pete got in touch electronically to say hes in. He was also the first of the two candidates to say yes to Bill Sturgeon’s invitation to debate on WBRK. We took that as a sign of life in what was, in the prelim phase, a moribund Marchetti campaign. THE PLANET wrote in light of his nearly 700-vote finish to Dan Bianchi that if Pete wanted a realistic chance on winning and not whining in November, he would have to change course and tactics.

Our goal is simple: To help bring out whatever latent and inherent fire Marchetti has inside and help him apply that to the campaign. We believe he’s got such fire in the belly. We just haven’t seen it yet. The mayoral race, Finals Division, will be the perfect time to gamble and let loose. THE PLANET believes in Pete’s ability to do that.

Marchetti’s blanket acceptance, no questions asked, indicated that he might have seen the light. THE PLANET believes we havent seen whats inside of this man, politically. His long years on the council havent convinced us one way or the other about who he is at the core. We suspect hes different than the indecisive man who in public meetings seemed afraid of saying boo to any GOBs or special interests. One had the impression that he said boo only upon getting orders.

Personally, we have had a number of discussion with Peter since April. Both of us let the defenses down and talked to each other openly and frankly. THE PLANET, and THE PEOPLE, want to see THAT person become the politician. We want, in other words, the man to become the politician, and not the politician becoming the man.

No word yet from the Bianchi campaign on what theyre thinking.

THE PLANET throws this out in the toss-up round: Wouldnt it be interesting to have a series of forums, say two a week one-hour apiece, with the two men? Each could be in a different location, covering different topics, with a mix of media coverage. One night we cold hold the forum on stage at the Little Cinema. The next time, we gather in a restaurant.

A television or radio studio, a school classroom, auditoriums, Park Square, street corners — Anywhere could suffice. We could experiment with different times of the day, days of the week. THE PLANET is willing to be creative and flexible. We only insist on final say with any arrangements. We shall also need help from both campaigns, interesting organizations, or volunteers from the public, to help coordinate the arrangements. With our unforgiving schedule, we have almost zero time to spend on logistics. We are willing to serve. Lets see what happens.

We wish both campaigns well.






  1. Still wondering
    September 30, 2011 at 7:43 am #

    The wife and I went to Pam Malumphy’s fund raiser at Mazzeo’s last night. It was definitely the jumpin’ place in an otherwise wet and subdued Pittsfield. The event came close to tripling the attendance of the lame “unified democrats” event. We could not find one media person in the crowd. Typical Eagle “fairness” in full non-display. The media bias in this town is sickening.

  2. Four in one
    September 30, 2011 at 11:40 am #

    planet hear ya on the downtown cop capers. Arrogant, bored, look like htey hate their work and try finding them when you need one.

  3. Real Deal 2
    September 30, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    I thought Devil ended this non-sense a few years ago? If memory serves me correctly, I thought if the area where construction was taking place is on a street where the speed limit was under 45mph, than the construction company could hire flagmen? North Street is not a 45mph street-well in theory anyway. The city doesn’t want flagmen at these sites, no not because of safety reasons, it’s because the city gets a percentage (5 or 10%) of the officers pay that day. So if the officer gets $500 for that day, the city gets $50 per officer, per every job, per every day…..get the point. When a sheriff’s deputy does the job, the sheriff gets a percentage of that deputies road work that goes into a slush fund, that is not reported to the IRS. It is a “re-election” fund. How many years did the former sheriff hold the job?…and run unopposed?

    20 minutes to the west, if Rte 20 has construction going on in NY, you see flagmen working the site. And when I say working the site, I mean working the site. They pay attention to traffic and do the job they are being paid to do. In Pittsfield, those guys get $50 an hour, read the paper, talk on their cell phones, etc….Life is good.

    • danvalenti
      September 30, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

      Right on! The use of “slush fund” is both accurate and appropriate. Having been in Vermont recently, we hit road construction, and it’s as you say in NY state: flagmen and women, WORKING the site, actually telling you to go, stop, or slow down. This stuff goes on because we allow it go on through our pathetic apathy.

  4. Jim Gleason
    September 30, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    Have tro agree with SW, I too went to Pam’s event at Mazzeo’s and his figures are correct,but where was the Eagle and you, Dan, or your representative? This was a great event with many people, including our next Mayor, Dan Bianchi, in attendance. As he said, the bias in the local media was never so evident as it is now.

    • danvalenti
      September 30, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

      I can’t answer for the BB, but I was busy writing and making a living. My hours are long and unpredictable. I told Pam I would try to make it. There’s no bias on my part, but Jim, if she won’t talk to me and won’t answer my e-mails, but can THE PLANET do? For reasons unknown to me, we are on her Enemies List. She’s not on ours because we don’t have one.

    • Silence Dogood
      September 30, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

      Jimmy, she tends to be paronoid and has a thin skin…but you’re right about the Eagle…Blah Blah will get all the ink Jester, Malumphy and fringe kook Miller will be ignored.

  5. beezer
    September 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

    Dan, off topic but had to get this in. Went by B W Park and could not believe the pool (lake) of water in the parking lot. Along with several street locations ie. Dalton Ave. Meril Rd. intesection of West and Center ect….. Are you serious?

  6. beezer
    September 30, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    …talk about mosquito breeding grounds!

    • danvalenti
      September 30, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

      We should build mosquito motels there. Flooding at the ballpark will be an issue as long as they keep the damn upstream in place. Street flooding is another sign of neglect, though there may be underlying issues.

      • Silence Dogood
        September 30, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

        Dan, what ever came of the idea to remove the Mill St. dam? Why did it fizzle?

  7. Concern
    September 30, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    I was a strong supporter of Sheriff Bowler in his run. I now however am very disappointed in him. He is turning into just another Demo politician in this area. In the article in Eagle he says we don’t have the immigration problem here. Where has he been sleeping. It’s getting worse every week. Then he says the past 10 years only about 100 had to be have been turned over to Feds. They are coming in this State every day more and more. Ten years ago we didn’t have the problem, today we do Sherriff Bowler. Stop being a politician and sucking up to them including Govenor do nothing (except defend Obama) and do your job

  8. danvalenti
    September 30, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    I, too, saw that remarkable claim by the sheriff. He opted not to not to join what three other fellow county sheriffs thought was a good idea to combat a worsening problem. Bowler justified this by saying we don’t have an immigration problem here. Now he may be right, but the only way we can know that is data. Has the sheriff access to current data that has actually tried to find out how many illegals are in the county? Until then, and until the hard data bears him out, I agree with you.

  9. LV
    September 30, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

    I guess if you’re a Pittsfield cop you’ve got it made in the shade. Over-time ops and make your own rules. Nice.

  10. Winchester 73
    September 30, 2011 at 6:55 pm #

    Two sets of rules, one for them (theyre own) and one for the rest of us (the taxpayers who buy their donuts)

  11. Concern
    October 1, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    LANESBORO Police Officer shoots man coming after him with a knife. Yesterday while discussing this, a person said ” why did he have to shoot him he only had a knife”. I said to this person ONLY a knife do you know what a knife can do, kill you. What are some people thinking?????? Just look what happened in a Los Angeles highschol Friday. A girl dies after knife attack, also injured a Dean and another student who tried to intervene. I hope the attacker here recovers and get some serious mental drug or whatever help he needs. To Officer Sorell I wish you the best, this is not an easy thing to go through.

    • rick
      October 1, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

      shoot him in the leg.

      • Real Deal 2
        October 1, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

        Sure Rick, I’m sure if a guy was bearing down on you with a knife, you would aim for his leg. You better be a good shot, because if you miss his leg, that knife will be plunging into your neck, chest, or face.

        If you read, an average person can shoot once or maybe twice (1 or 2 shots) with a person running at you from 20-25 feet. That’s 7-8 yards away. Good luck with the leg shot. I don’t feel sorry for anybody who charges a cop with any weapon. Being a cop is hard enough. I don’t agree with everything they do, but like my buddy (who is a cop) told me once. It is the most Monday morning QB’d job in this country. He’s right. I don’t read on here or any other blog people telling an ER doctor how to do his job or how much produce the Price Chopper manager should order every week.

      • scott
        October 2, 2011 at 4:50 am #

        All law enforcement and military are trained to aim for center mass heck so don’t I this guy should be thankful he was hit by a trained professional had it been me I would have unloaded the entire mag in his chest.

  12. Four in one
    October 1, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    Police have a tough job, the one s who take the job seriously, that is. Tough call, when someone’s coming at you with any weapon. Im sure officer Sorell didn’t want to shoot, at least I hope so, but there’s a trick fine line there. Hope the victim recovers and gets help. Hope the officer can come to terms iwth this.

  13. scott
    October 2, 2011 at 4:47 am #

    I think the burden of safety should be on the person crossing the street I never take it personal when someone doesn’t stop for me and I do not attempt to cross until I know I can safely. Although I understand cops should be held to a higher standard especially if they are enforcing the same law on all of us.

    • LV
      October 2, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

      The guy ran a red light.

      • scott
        October 3, 2011 at 4:35 am #

        EXACTLY people are crazy don’t put your life in their hands be safe out there!