PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

ADD ONE, SEPT. 6, 2011

We break into our regular post to inform you that Joe Nichols is the first mayoral candidate to accept our invitation of an informal gathering of The Big Three corner-office hopefuls.

Nichols wrote:

I would be happy to participate in such a forum if the other two candidates are interested as well.  I’m flexible on time so we’ll wait and see what the others say.

THE PLANET will go ahead with this chat if only one accepts, if two accept, or if all three will accept. We will invite the press and have a camera to film. It won’t be in a TV studio or a broadcast studio. It will be in a comfortable room, with the idea of having a relaxed discussion of topics.

THE PLANET awaits word from Dan Bianchi and Peter Marchetti.


(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, SEPT. 6, 2011) — By law, all who are charged with a crime are considered innocent until proven guilty. By actual process, however, that’s not what they teach you in law school.

A lawyer friend of THE PLANET says in law school, you learn the opposite: Most people (not all) charged with crimes are guilty. With fear of lawsuits, most of the time authorities are pretty darn certain they got the right person or people when they make and arrest and bring formal charges.

While stating we believe in the presumption of innocence, we can say also that my lawyer friend knows what he’s talking about. For instance, THE PLANET thinks of this in the case of former Greylock Federal Credit Union CEO Angelo Stracuzzi, who was accused by Biddeford, Maine, police in connection with his suspicious contact with minor boys on consecutive days in July 2005. We think of this presently in connection with charges lodged against police by mayoral candidate Donna Walto.

Less Than Zero

We will let the Walto case play out in the courts, but it’s safe to say that the zero percent chance she had of becoming mayor now move into negative numbers. Her Less Than Zero candidacy may have a slight affect on the campaign, though.

Let’s crunch some numbers. We shall presume a 15% turnout of the city of Pittsfield’s 29,000 voters in the preliminary election this month. Of the 4,350, say 4,000 vote in the mayoral primary (there are always some who leave their ballots blank).

The campaign’s Big Three — Peter Marchetti, Joe Nichols, and Dan Bianchi — should wrap up 80% of the 4,000 mayoral vote. That leaves 20% divided between Steve Fillio and Walto. Assuming each has an equal claim, that means Walto would get 400 of the 800 remaining votes. Walto’s her 400 votes will have to go somewhere. You would think most would go to Bianchi and Nichols. Those extra 200 votes or so could come into play in a tight race, when The Big Three get whittled down to the Dynamic Duo.


Invitations to Bianchi, Marchetti, and Nichols

THE PLANET has no plans to moderate any debates. We will not initiate any efforts in that respect, but we would be open if a sponsoring organization wants our services. We simnply don’t have time to organize such a show.

As most of you know, THE PLANET’s “debates” are different. We chuck the wooden formality of the “traditional debate.” You know, the one where a Moderator (oooooooooo, capital “M”!!!!!) with a jacket and tie asks canned, predictable questions of candidates in suits and ties standing behind podiums, having 90 seconds to answer. Next to worthless.

In our format, we don’t have a Moderator but THE PLANET, who acts as a “facilitator of discussion.” We aren’t seated behind a desk, and we are dressed casually. We have a hand-held mic and roam the set or stage. Candidates are seated next to each other. No notes are allowed. Nothing is canned. No one is allowed to read what they say. CAndidates don’t know what’s coming.

Such a format becomes a test of seeing who’s best “on the fly” under the TV lights. It has proven wildly popular with radio and TV audiences, and feedback from the electorate is that voters find it helpful.

Here a Copy of the E-Mail THE PLANET sent to The Big Three

While we will not initiate producing a formal debate, we have sent invitations to The Big Three to join THE PLANET for a sit-down discussion. In the interests of transparency with our readers, we share the e-mail we sent yesterday:



I’d like to propose a different kind of “forum” for the preliminary election.

This wouldn’t be a “debate” per se. It looks like this: The four of us gather in a comfortable room somewhere. We sit around a table. I would then lead and moderate a discussion of issues relevant to the campaign. It wouldn’t be televised or broadcast. We would, though, invite the press (print, broadcast, and electronic) to attend and cover as they wish. I would, of course, do something on THE PLANET.

I envision a couple of hours (maybe 90 minutes, minimum). It will be relaxed, informal, and will provide a great exchange of views. I will clear my calendar to do this anytime. The only time I CAN’T make this would be Wednesday evenings of Sunday mornings. No other mayoral candidates will be invited.

Please let me know if you will be willing to try this, ASAP. Also, give me a list of options for date/time. My preference is end of this week or anytime next. We could do it in Pittsfield or some other place. I’m open to any suggestions. There’s probably questions I haven’t address here, so feel free to ask.




So far no responses. QUESTION TO READERS: Would this type of forum be something you’d want to see happen?



On the field, congratulations to Jamie Keefe and the Colonials on the Field. Off the field? Called Out on Strikes.

Congratulations are in order for the Pittsfield Colonials, On-Field Division. Jamie Keefe won Can-Am League honors as manager of the year. Last year, Brian Daubach won the award, earning Dauber a job managing in the Washington Nationals’ system. It wouldn’t surprise THE PLANET to see Keefe’s efforts rewarded in a similar fashion. He’s an ideal field general: Young enough to relate to the players, experienced enough to teach, steady enough to provide guidance, and passionate enough to inspire performance. Keefe is a good baseball man, and if I’m running a major league organization, I sign this guy up immediately as one of my farm system managers.

We also salute Danny Bomback for winning the batting crown; Jerod Edmundson for his fantastic hitting, especially in the second half when he was zoned in as much as a player can be; and Angel Molina, human RBI machine.

Babies Trying to Do Jobs Meant for Adults

We excoriate the Colonials Front Office Division, however, who never “Got It.” Buddy Lewis inexplicably hired a collection of amateurs, well-meaning and otherwise, to man key management, marketing, and community relations positions. They were kids, essentially, with little to no experience who, in many cases, simply lacked the maturity and gravitas that would garner respect, foment competency, and result in achievement.

The team did a lousy job of marketing, especially after the season began. They didn’t advertise. On game day, they didn’t have a large sign at the stadium entrance on Wahconah Street advertising a ball game. As the year went on, the team dropped many of its promised promotions. The cookies-and-milk giveaway went away, the 1791 club fizzled, the dance team disappeared, and so on. The list was endless.

Case in point: “Colonials Corner,” a one-hour radio show, vanished after about four shows. There was no explanation. Even Chad Cooper, the play-by-play guy and host of the show, didn’t know it had been cancelled.

The Colonials kiddie front office adopted the Sgt. Schultz Management Philosophy: No one knew anything: That seemed to be the perpetual state of the front office. From the assistant general manager on down, the staff was peppered with slackers, incompetents, and beginners. That doesn’t work. Assistant general managers, community relations, stadium operations, sales force, communications, and public relations need to be handled by professionals. It’s not an age question but a competency question.

Next Year? Going, Going, Gone

Lewis is coy about the team returning for next year. He says that decision hasn’t been made. Folks, let me tell you otherwise: The decision HAS been made. The Colonials won’t be playing ball at Wahconah Park in 2012.

Perhaps it is fitting, then, that the team’s final operational decision was to have it post-season “home” games on the road. That ultimate slap-in-the-face to the 840 fans who on average supported the team should be answered in the only way the front office will understand: “Thanks, I needed that.”







  1. Shakes His Head
    September 6, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    What a shame. My family really enjoyed the baseball games what we attended this year and it was a good alternative to other activities. Hopefully a true community leader can step up and get a team at Wahconah Park. Baseball takes time and committment. I’d be willing to advocate the City’s case to CanAm ownership in NC. As for the decision to end games this year after making the playoffs? I wouldn’t give Lewis a Bush League franchise.

  2. Aclu
    September 6, 2011 at 10:31 am #

    Predicted election results Machetti 1672, Bianchi 1559, Nichols 1220, Fillio 106, Walto 32 (she has a large family)

    • Dave
      September 6, 2011 at 10:53 am #

      I hope Nichols does better than you predict and I hope that Peter Marchetti does poorer. Marchetti will be a vote for the status quo and that avenue frightens me.

  3. Concern
    September 6, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    She is innocent to proven guilty, however because of this over her head she should withdraw from the election.

  4. beezer
    September 6, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    This was a brilliant!

    • Steve Wade
      September 6, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

      What the hell does This was a brilliant mean?

  5. Colonial Fan
    September 6, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    Couldnt agree more on the staff at Wahconah Park. I was a dedicated fan that wouldnt miss a game. I was really sadden to see that there wont be a playoff game at home. I was truely looking forward to at least one! Now to say the team wont be back, yes it dont look good for that… But there is still hope that someone else will take the team over and keep it here, and hopefullly Pittsfield shows up and supports there team. They truely are great players and a great team. Pittsfield shouldn’t hold the poor staffing against the players..

    • danvalenti
      September 6, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

      Agree. there is a slight chance something could still work out. Here’s the deal. Attendance jumped 20% from 2010 to this year, from 701 to 840. Another 20% in 2012 would give them 1,000. The point is the gate was trending upward. That is with such an inept staff. Can you imagine what this team would do with a first-rate staff? It would make money, that’s what it would do. I agree with the PRODUCT, that is, the ballclub: Anyone who saw them play knows that it’s a great team. Pittsfield should be honored to have such good baseball men give them such a team, and it starts with Jamie Keefe. Molina, Edmundson, Bomback, Welch, Motram, Fatse, Tores, Knazek, Cabrera, Qualben, Paronto … we could go on and on. The irony will be if the C’s will the Can-Am Crown.

      • Pat Benatar
        September 6, 2011 at 8:22 pm #

        I, too, had a similar experience as Colonial Fan. While I was impressed with the product on the field, I was less than impressed with the job of the front office. Many promises were made in the early preparation months which either fizzled out quickly or didn’t come to fruition altogether.

        In an area so dependent on the tourism trade for some sense of sustainability, I was shocked that the team never made use of some of the traditional avenues of advertising (i.e. the BB) to appeal to the New Yorkers and South County part-timers who are hear from Memorial Day through Labor Day and might be interested in an occasional baseball game. The bottom line is that you can’t just use Facebook as your sole means of advertising. Sure, newspaper ads are expensive, but you’ll make that investment back with the new flow of fans who are now aware that there is in fact a team in Pittsfield.

        Also, no staff members were ever present at the entrance of the parking lot or directing traffic to give people passing by an indication that there even was a game that night. Are people supposed to just be psychic and just find it themselves? You can’t do that if you want new customers.

  6. beezer
    September 6, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

    …publicity move.

  7. Maxwell Edison
    September 6, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    This was about cutting the losses on the project, because who the hell would support them now?

    • danvalenti
      September 6, 2011 at 7:40 pm #

      Agree. Cynical, from the C’s position, but pragmatic, like the rats jumping the sinking ship.

  8. On the Q-T
    September 6, 2011 at 6:14 pm #

    Congratulations to Mr. Nichols. He was the first to anser the planets invitation, and I hope hes not the only one. Bianci and Marchetti need to be open to these kind of opportunities. I havn’t made up my mind on the vote. I am following this
    (about the planets invitation) closely.

    Sad about Ms. Waldo and the Cs baseball team. Sad for Pittsfield, sad for the people effected by it.

    • Aclu
      September 6, 2011 at 7:16 pm #

      Mom always said better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and prove it. Careful what you say Joe one mistake and they will turn on you.

    • danvalenti
      September 6, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

      Thank you for getting involved in the discussion. Always love hearing from first-time posters.

  9. danvalenti
    September 6, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

    That’s one way to look at it. The other way is for Joe to see this as an ideal opportunity to define himself in a way no other forum will allow and that the definition will be just what The People are looking for at this angry, unsettled time on the body politic. Candidates are free to do as they wish in accepting an invitation or not, of course, but in a preliminary race that’s likely to be close among The Big Three, they would do best answering this invitation the way Joe did. We shall see what tomorrow brings.

  10. Ron Kitterman
    September 6, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

    And now a final scene a few good candidates – Donna Walto- ” All you did is screw up a mayoral campaign Valenti that’s all you did! , you snotty little bastard !,” Valenti- ” Don’t you talk to me like that- I’m a moderator, a journalist and a reporter, you’re a political bitch and you’re under arrest ” Walto- ” you mean I’m being charged with a crime? I’m being charged with a crime, what’s going on here” – The Judge -” place the politician under arrest ” – The prosecutor- ” The prisoner has rights” – Walto- ” I don’t understand, he said he ordered the recount” – Valenti to Walto- ” you don’t need to win an election to have honor – This is Pittsfield Donna and you got beat by the blanks “

  11. danvalenti
    September 6, 2011 at 7:38 pm #

    Riveting stuff. This play could win a Tony, and Emmy, and a Tommy!

  12. Ray Ovac
    September 7, 2011 at 3:45 am #

    Re Pittsfield Colonials, the decision to play ‘Home” games out of town seems to be a metaphor for what’s happening in Pittsfield during this Obama Depression. When the local ball team leaves town, it’s a signal things are changing and not for the better. Note when the Dodgers left Brooklyn, Flatbush was never quite the same.

  13. beezer
    September 7, 2011 at 4:10 am #

    understand the conversation went something like this….Under arrest, for what? Direspecting an officer mam! What? Let me see your Badges..Officer reply….We don’t need no stinking badges..

  14. James
    September 7, 2011 at 6:04 am #

    no I think the conversation went like this:
    (woman acting crazy)
    officer — “say, didn’t you used to be donna walto?”
    walto — “Ok. ‘Didn’t you used to be Donna walto’?”
    went in as disrespecting an officer .

    September 7, 2011 at 6:06 am #

    come on beezer you comment is foolish.

  16. beezer
    September 7, 2011 at 7:06 am # isn’t your grammer?

    • Concern
      September 7, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

      yep grammar fuzzy, however message very clear

    • Concern
      September 7, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

      yep grammar fuzzy, however message very clear