!!BULLETIN!! COPS SEARCH FOR ARMED ROBBER AT CONVENIENCE PLUS IN PITTSFIELD !! … IN THE FINE ART OF MODERATION, BRANDON WALKER DID FINE … and… MARCHETTI SUPPORTER SOILS THE BED FOR HER MAN (and may have cost him the election!) … plus … DEANNA RUFFER CLAIMS NORTH STREET WORK WILL ADD PARKING SPACES (oh really, we reply)
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
JUST IN: CITIZEN ALERT (10/26/11, 11:34 a.m.)
Armed Robbery The Pittsfield Police Department is investigating a reported armed robbery that occurred at the Convenience Plus at First and Tyler at 10:18 AM. The suspect is described as a black male, 5-5″ to 5-7″, wearing white shorts and a grey hoodie. A handgun was displayed. A possible vehicle is a blue Dodge Durango with an unknown registration, operated by a white male. Units remain on scene. Contact Information Contact Name: PPD Contact Name: Detective Bureau Contact Phone: 413-448-9700 Contact Phone: 413-448-9705
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, OCT. 27, 2011) — Moderating debates is not an easy task, for upon you falls most everything. Traditional debates, with artificial time restraints and other protocols, tend to make the job as picayune as it is difficult. THE PLANET has moderated too many debates to count, mostly for radio and TV but some without cameras of mics. It took awhile, but we finally broke the mold and crafted our own format. Everytime we moderated in this fashion, the debate rocked.
The format is simple: two or three candidates, seated close to each other, facing half way each other and half way the moderator. Candidates aren’t behind podiums or desks. They have no notes. They are lapel mic’d. The moderator has no fixed station. He has a hand held, wireless mic and roams in and out, asking questions and moving the discussion between the candidates. There is no time clock except for the one the moderator has in his head.
This format frees all the participants to focus not on protocols but on debate, discussion, and deliberation. The format also exploits the built-in emotions, always running high, when two or more opposing politicians face off. Most importantly, the electorate actually learns something about the candidates that will be of great practical use come election day. THE PLANET is the only one who has produced debates of this sort. Granted, they put much more pressure on the moderator, but if the moderator can cut it, the format provides a much greater service to voters.
All that being said, THE PLANET liked the way Brandon Walker moderated the Marchetti-Bianchi debate Monday at BCC. He had some missteps and did appear reluctant to make the candidates uncomfortable, but he had great elocution and you could see a sharpness and wit. He was “TV smooth,” but not to an inordinate degree. Plus, he was stuck with the format. Having been in that position many times, and given his relative newness to the Berkshires, we thought he did a fine job.
With that, we present this post-debate story. It borders on fiction, especially given Peter Marchetti’s self-righteous defense of his hard-working staff, but it actually happened. WE WERE THERE.
MARCHETTI SUPPORTER ATTACKS PLANET’S FRIEND FOR THE DASTARDLY CRIME OF … ATTENDING THE DEBATE
A dear family friend of THE PLANET — who also has been like an older sister to Peter Marchetti since the two were kids — has been attacked by one of Marchetti’s supporters, whose name we will withhold out of respect for the candidate.
This person sent a nasty message to the third party for the crime of attending the mayoral debate between Peter and Dan Bianchi Monday at BCC. THE PLANET’s companion is a dear friend of yours truly and MRS. PLANET. She is “family.” This person is also dear to Pete … at least we thought so. She attended the debate to show her support for Peter. Little did she or THE PLANET realize this would be a reason to draw fire.
Let us say that we arrived shortly after Brandon Walker introduced the evening. We probably knew 198 or the 200 people in the auditorium. Taking note of that, THE PLANET and friend made out way, quietly and unobtrusively, to a side-seat, out of the way, and for the hour remained quiet and respectful.
In the supporter’s view, however, being seen with THE PLANET was reason enough for a blanket condemnation of the mutual friend of Peter and THE PLANET. We don’t for a moment think Marchetti knows about the renegade actions of this staffer, but he does now. We don’t blame him if he feels betrayed, especially after Marchetti pointed to the section where this “supporter” was sitting and telling the audience what great people he had working for him on his campaign.
THE PLANET doesn’t dispute that. Pete does have some fine people. We met many of them this summer. He does have, however, some rotten eggs in the dozen.
It Comes with the Turf, Except When Your Not Part of the Grounds
When barbs are directed at us — as they often are by critics, detractors, and the near-sighted — THE PLANET shrugs off at such attacks as a price of doing business. In this business, you have to have what htye call “a hard bark” on the exterior.
Actually, we accept and welcome most crtics as an occupational hazard-cum-help for the way they keep us sharp and ready for action and debate. We have long been in love with argumentation, and, as a public figure for so many years, we have taken shots from the best of them, most, but not all, rhetorical. If someone wants to debate on the merits, we love that. If someone, though, wants to fire off nastiness for the simple reason of being in our company, we have no patience.
THE PLANET decries — in the strongest terms — the cowardly attack of an innocent third party when that person — a dear friend of the candidate she supports, mind you — does her job as citizen and attends an event like this. She was there to show her support for Peter. She gives him authentic support, the kind that comes from love. As for the staffer, we can’t and won’t hazard a guess — it appears as if she gives her support for what she can get out of him. In other words, it looks like this dizzy gal is using Peter as a patsy.
We won’t call on Marchetti to publicly address this or to fire this staffer, as we initially thought of doing, because this issue is a matter internal to his campaign. It’s not a Bianchi-Marchetti issue. It’s not even a “Peter Marchetti” issue. Rather, it’s a “Marchetti Campaign” issue. We can only say the action of this Marchetti staffer supports Bianchi’s comments about the nature of some — we stress some — of Peter’s supporters.
We will add that as much as we respect Peter as a person and treasure him as a friend, he will pay a steep price for his associations with such “supporters.” This one probably cost him the election. With “support” like that, Bianchi could mail it in at this point.
Somehow, we doubt that he will. We sense that Bianchi smells victory. Based on knowing Dan’l for so many years, we sense he will play it as if he’s protecting a one-run lead in the ninth inning.
OCD’S RUFFER CLAIMS BUMPOUTS WILL ADD, NOT SUBTRACT, DOWNTOWN PARKING SPACES. HER CLAIM IS UNSUPPORTED, HOWEVER
In response to our coverage of Bumpgate — that is, the problematic redesign of North Street to include bumpouts and self-watering planters — THE PLANET and WBRK talkmeister Bill Sturgeon received a forwarded message from Pittsfield Mayor Jimmy Ruberto.
The mayor forwarded an e-mail he received from Office of Community Development Director Deanna Ruffer. She writes to Ruberto (Oct. 25, 3:18 p.m.):
Jim, in the two[-]block section of North St[reet] from Park Square to Columbus Ave[nue] there were 44 parking spaces. After completion of this phase of streetscape[,] there will be 52 spaces. This increase in parking spaces was accomplished through such considerations as aligning fire hydrants within the pedestrian bump out areas, eliminating unused bus stops, and consolidating loading areas.
Deanna L. Ruffer
Department of Community Development
70 Allen Street
Pittsfield, MA 01201
We thank the mayor for passing this information along. Of course, all we have here is Ruffer’s unsupported assertion. Some might say, “Well, PLANET, isn’t that what you did claiming 20 parking spaces would be lost.” We would say no, since we were reporting based on an actual, physical count of parking spaces on both sides of the street. We talked to construction workers doing the work.
We don’t see how the re-design adds eight spaces, unless Ruffer assumes everyone will be parking tricycles and the truncated Smart cars.
A Claim Without Evidence Must Be Considered Unsupported
She makes the claim, which is fine, but where’s the supporting evidence? Nothing will convince us of the accuracy of her number until we physically count parking spaces after the work is done. Diligence requires this of us. THE PLANET has worked far too long, with far too many public officials, to take a claim like this at face value.
According to logic, assertions (the street will gain eight spaces) must be considered unsupported unless accompanied by evidence. We see no evidence in Ruffer’s statement. In pointing this out, THE PLANET merely notes that in Ruffer’s claim, logic cannot apply. That is, we don’t have enough information to judge the truth, let alone the validity, of her claim. It may be true, but we are not willing to accept her claim as it stands. That’s not to say it’s not true; it merely says we can’t judge this. Until then, we are from Missouri: “Show me.”
For the sake of argument, though, let’s for a moment accept it as true. Ruffer does not address the many other objections we have raised in the past two days on the bumpouts (snow removal problems, dangerous turns for busses, etc.) and the ridiculous self-watering planters. We have talked with plow guys, engineers, plumbers, and pedestrians to get a view from the trenches.
Yesterday, we talked to a plumber and an engineer about the self-watering system. Both said self-watering planters are inappropriate for New England winter.
The planters’ will require high maintenance, and if just once the pipes are not properly bled during a hard freeze, you’ll have pipes bursting and not from joy. If Pittsfield was Miami Beach, self-watering albatrosses would work. We don’t think, however, that the temperatures this Berkshire winter will approach those in Florida.
ON YET ANOTHER BUSY AND FULFILLING DAY, WE SAY …
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.