By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, NOV. 1, 2011) — Welcome to November, month of the crab, month of the sister.
First up, a quickie. As we wrote yesterday, the bumpouts on North Street proved their worthlessness in the surprise Halloween snowstorm. They caused hassles, if not havoc, for the plow jockeys; took curbside snow mounds to new levels; and established that in a locale with cold, snowy winters, they make a poor design choice.
Why is it? Why, oh, why, when it comes to Pittsfield, the worst choices seem to be reserved for the downtown. This troubling trend goes back to the failure to put the mall on North Street in the late 1970s and early to mid 80s, the median strip and the North Street-McKay Street connector in the 80s; the lack of anything happening in the 90s, despite the banners that proclaimed, “It’s Happening!”; and now the poorly thought out redesign.
The decade of the 2000s, particularly the Ruberto years, were the exception. There were significant additions coming online, such as the Colonial Theater, Barrington Stage Co., Beacon Cinemas, and a number of other businesses and shops that at least too a chance. Some survived, but most didn’t.
All the more reason to salute such North Street anchors as Steven Valenti Clothing for Men, Paul Rich Furniture, and Carr Hardware for remaining resolute in their determination to keep North Street’s pulse detectable.
IT AIN’T OVER UNTIL THE FAT MAN SINGS
So what exactly happened with Bill Sturgeon, aka The Fat Man, on the WBRK airwaves? THE PLANET has received reports on the Fat Man’s alleged dissing of WUPE’s Larry Kratka and WBRK’s forever morning guy, Rick Beltaire.
We went to the source, and Sturgeon has this to say, for the record:
“I did make a statement about Larry mostly in jest. As for Rick, we have worked it out it was an internal station thing. I did not use the “F” bomb – I did use a similar word. I know that there is a small group people who would like me off the air and that’s fine, they may get want they want.”
The remainder of our conversation shall be off the record. It was mostly shop talk and personal housekeeping.
Let THE PLANET say that we support live call-in talk radio. Sturgeon picked up the baton dropped by the previous talkmeister at WBRK, Sherman Baldwin, which was the one that we handed off after a 14-year stint with “The Dan Valenti Show.” Live, call-in radio, the kind that gives free reign to rollicking discussion and constantly walks the cutting edge to the point of pushing it too far, must be preserved at all costs. We would advise our good friends at WBRK not to ditch one of the main edges that it has on the competition.
Bill Sturgeon Must Be Kept on the Air
Talk radio must be preserved. Bill Sturgeon must be kept on the air, on his terms. Tame talk radio is not worthwhile talk radio. It must be edgy, on topic, and unafraid.
THE PLANET appreciates the difficulty of doing legitimate talk radio (as opposed to having the Rotary Club on for an hour to talk about the upcoming pancake breakfast). We did it for a long time, flying at Mach III with the fuselage on fire for much of the time.
As for the comments on my good friend Larry Kratka, the Larry the K does his best toiling under sweatshop conditions fostered by a stingy chain ownership that cares almost as little about Pittsfield and Berkshire County as the Boring Broadsheet’s chain ownership and chained-up management.
We believe our good friend The Fat Man when he called his remarks a jest. We used to engage in good-natured needling ourselves when on the air. I don’t sense any bridges burned or any venom in the remarks. The bottom line is that live, call-in talk radio is a gift to a community, and it should be preserved.
MARCHETTI WEBSITE REFLECTS THE BUMBLING NATURE OF HIS CAMPAIGN
Compared to Dan Bianchi’s specific mayoral “Vision” statement, Peter Marchetti’s should win an award for saying nothing in too many words. Check out the two rival websites at votebianchi.com and petermarchetti.com.
“Marchetti’s Vision for Pittsfield” actually consists of five sub-visions. They are:
- Vision One: Job Creation.
- Vision Two: Education.
- Vision Three: The Arts
- Vision Four: Neighborhoods
- Vision Five: Communication
For job creation, Marchetti says he “will develop an initiative program, utilizing a portion of the GE economic development funds, to support our existing businesses to grow and provide jobs.” Nowhere does he spell out which “existing businesses” he has in mind; how much, specifically, of the GE money he will use; or how it will be allocated. He also says he will work “to steamline our permitting processes for business expansion. Great, but Marchetti remains silent spelling out how he will do this. THE PLANET ignores for a moment Marchetti’s tacit admission that the current process is a nightmare. Correct us, though. Hasn’t Marchetti spent these many years praising Deputy Mayor Deanna Ruffer’s work in the streamlining process?
On education, Marchetti again criticizes the current policies that he has spent many years as a councilor-at-large praising. All of a sudden, Marchetti has just discovered that “we need to be responsive to business leaders” and increase adult learning opportunities to address the lack of a trained local workforce. THE PLANET applauds Marchetti’s intention “to build internship programs” to get students into the workplace. We do ask, however, how much he worked to affect such change as a councilor at large for all these years? Did he, for example, work to have PHS vocational students participate in the design and building of the new skateboard park literally across Appleton Avenue at the East Street corner?
Marchetti thinks the arts are dandy and promises to “promote our creative economy. This will grow Pittsfield as a magnet for tourists to visit. …” He must mean as opposed to being a magnet for the drug dealers from NYC, a magnet for welfare moms, a magnet for the alcoholics and homeless … you get the idea. Peter is correct. The arts must remain a key part of the economy, but the arts can never drive the economy.
Neighborhoods, Marchetti tells us, must be improved. He tells us he want “to see safe and drug-free streets,” as if Bianchi or anyone else except for the dealers and the crackheads DOESN’T want this. He then gets down to specifics … not: “Positive and optimistic approaches can have tremendous results with everyone pitching in a little.”
Vision Five, communication, occupies a place of importance in Marhcetti’s plans, for he tells us: “I intend to strengthen and encourage communication among everyone.” A noble goal, and as a student and teacher of communication all our professional lives, THE PLANET would have been most interested in hearing how Peter intended to accomplish this.
Mindless Repetition Makes Vision Statements Look Like Grade-School Exercises
The most bizarre aspect of The Five Visions is the way Marchetti ends each one. He includes the same boilerplate language five times, as if he doesn’t think once will suffice. This suggests that he’s merely filling up space, too lazy, or unable to provide accurate, specific, and content-appropriate conclusions to each of the five areas. The mindless, rote repetition has an eerie, creepy feel to it, as has most of Marchetti’s campaign.
In his Endorsements tab, Marchetti’s website has “Coming Soon” on it. “Coming Soon” has been coming soon for about three months now. In every one of the “Photos from the Campaign Trail,” Marchetti wears a green shirt and a zebra-striped tie. It goes back to John Barrett’s advice to him early in the campaign to ditch the flamboyant attire and dress more mayoral, with white shirts and conservative ties.
Marchetti’s website reflects the overall knack of expertise in his campaign. He has well-meaning staffers who don’t know what they’re doing. Peter has surrounded himself with amateurs and dilettantes who think they’re planning a parade and not a high-level political campaign. The bumbling, incompetent nature of his support staff has proven to most who’ve bothered to check that Marchetti can’t be trusted, nor should he be, with the city’s most important job at this most critical of junctures.
THE PLANET knows from observation that Peter Marchetti deserved to be surrounded by more accomplished, mature, and capable staff and advisors. For some reason, he eschewed Mayors Ruberto and Barrett and embraced Mayor Doyle and Angelo Stracuzzi. He also gave Lew Markham a big role in the campaign, and that speaks for itself.
The Amateur Hour worked great for Major Bowes and Ted Mack, but it hasn’t done justice to Peter Marchetti.
TAXPAYERS BE DARNED, or WHEN IS A ‘LOAN’ NOT A LOAN BUT A GRANT (that is, a TAXPAYER HANDOUT)?
How would you like to borrow a half a million bucks from the city, use it for five years, and then not have to pay it back?
Too good to be true for the average citizen, maybe, or a company without favored political status, but that’s what the city of Pittsfield’s Community Development Director did for her good friends at the Barrington Stage Co.
CD Czarina Ruffer made the “loan” to Barrinton Stage in 2006, taking the money out of the GE Economic Development Fund — not a cent of which has been used to defer the strangling taxes for the average citizen.
It seems that Ruffer told BSC that if it met the “conditions” on the loan, it would be forgiven. She told the Boring Broadsheet (she refuses to talk to THE PLANET) BSC wouldn’t have to pay the city back. She officially forgave the loan.
Voila! Just like that, the loan becomes a handout.
BSC Artistic Director Julianne Boyd told the BB, “It really helps our books, as you can imagine.”
We suggest that you, Mr. and Mrs. Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski, request a similar loan from Ms. Ruffer. As the Lottery says, “Hey, ya never know.”
AND THAT’S THE WAY IT IS, AS UNCLE WALTER USED TO SAY, SO …
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.