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.


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.
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 and
“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.
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.”





  1. beezer
    November 1, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    Planet must say Barrington stage director must get perks. Like the company car at taxpayer/ g e funds expense? As far as Mr. Sturgeon,the act is stale, however I would say if BRK let him go he could make more money at another station, even with the stale act, you know, tell them the fat man sent ya. Marchetti has stepped up his campaign,don’t underestimate the Doyle, Angelo, Lee, promotes.

  2. Richard
    November 1, 2011 at 8:23 am #

    It seems that Ruffer told BSC that if it met the “conditions” on the loan, it would be forgivHow is this possible? Who is she to forgive a lone?

  3. beezer
    November 1, 2011 at 8:49 am #

    Wow. Sturgeon just let someone name Angelo S on the air.. as a lie spreader..way cool!

  4. Jim Gleason
    November 1, 2011 at 9:01 am #

    Yeah, it was me and Angeblow is a lie spreader. He also has been arrested for attempted child molestation. Nice guy.`

  5. beezer
    November 1, 2011 at 9:12 am #

    Oh, way to go J G..Don’t care for the Marchetti commercials, don’t be fooled, Stoogeon is buddies with Peter.

  6. beezer
    November 1, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    oh cool, Stooge is talking about taste of the beserkshires.

  7. tito
    November 1, 2011 at 9:34 am #

    Marchetti is closing the gap is right, thanks to WBRK.

  8. Dee
    November 1, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    Wow- I’ve been listening to the radio while I’ve been working the last couple hours, and it seems like every other commercial is for Marchetti. Seems like all the sudden someone has very deep pockets. Where’s Bianchi’s commercials? Has he decided that spreading lies and mistruths over the airwaves shows deperation? Or, is it that he doesn’t have the GOB’s paying his bills.

  9. Layla Lady Lay
    November 1, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    Heard the commercials. Something’s fishy here. Would like to know why all of a sudden Marchetto has a million on WBRK and Bianchi none. What rates did Marchetti get them for? Something isn’t right with that. Having experienced first hand how the city operates I believe something’s rotten in Denmark and Pittsfield.

  10. Layla Lady Lay
    November 1, 2011 at 9:58 am #

    I will also say that Sherman Baldwin for all the trouble he caused had a good interesting show. Bill S has worn thin long ago. Donna the Diva is too bubbly cheery comes off as false. By far the bset . we ever had was Dan Valenti. He invented talk radio in the berkshires.

    • danvalenti
      November 1, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

      Appreciate the thoughts.

  11. Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
    November 1, 2011 at 11:45 am # ..Senator Downing seems to have lost track of who his constituents really are..Between this info and the Wind Energy Bill putting control out of the locals hands, Ben seems to be selling out to BIG Money…..does he get a free pass?

    • ambrose
      November 1, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

      prolly gets a free pass with the planet – the downings got something on vlenti – he would never follow up, tho he knew the real story years ago about a guy who got his eye knocked out with an egg

    • Payroll Patriot
      November 2, 2011 at 4:50 am #

      @HB2 in W4 Thank you for the link. Interesting!
      Larkin, lobbyist for GE; GE gives 1Berkshire 300k; GE gives nothing away, Downing’s record and money trail. Another snow job.

  12. Ray Ovac
    November 1, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    DV, you say that “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.”
    The Colonial Theater, Barrington Stage, and Beacon Cinema Complex are all heavily subsidized by taxpayers and each would long ago have failed or would never even gotten off the ground without massive public subsidy. This doesn’t represent economic health, it’s an acknowledgement that the only way to get anyone to invest in Pittsfield is by force. Some success story. Taxpayers are stuck subsidizing these luxuries whether they want to or not.

    • danvalenti
      November 1, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

      They were the exception. Projects got done. You may not agree with the projects or how they were brought to life, but no one can argue that at least Jimmy Ruberto did something. That’s my point. the rest talked a big game. Doyle sold the city down the river with the Consent Agreement and drove the city into near-bankruptcy due to his ineptness. Hathaway was a policy wonk who didn’t know how to engage in political discussion. Ruberto is essentially a private sector guy who brought a no-nonsense way of dealing with a dysfunctional operation. I criticized Jimmy as much as any other media personage; at the end of the day, we always had a relationship. In that, he was different. In that, he was a mensche.

  13. Bill Sturgeon
    November 1, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

    Dan: Thank you for your support. As I have said many times, you blazed the trail for talk radio in the Berkshire’s. You and other talk show hosts know hoe difficult it is to do a talk show.

    Thanks again for you support.

    • danvalenti
      November 1, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

      Just telling it like it is. It will be, and always is, a loss for We the People when we lose another channel for debate, discussion, deliberation, and — yes — even disagreement. Keep moving.

      • Ray Ovac
        November 2, 2011 at 1:25 am #

        DV, given the gutless timidity continually exhibited by Berkshire broadcasters when it comes to the content of their in-house talk shows, suggest you consider offering a real alternative using PlanetValenti as the platform. I know I would eagerly tune in daily to any web-based phone-in talk program offering Dan Valenti and PV readers commenting on the PV column-of-the-day along with other matters of local concern. A Webcast would circumvent these gutless local station owners who are loathe to deal with anything resembling on-air controversy. So the heck with them! The Internet and introduction of broadband throughout Berkshire County changes the historical dynamic of just who controls the venues of local communication. Other than a tax-deductible phone line or two and some additional bandwidth, the cost to Webcast is laughably small and if PlanetValenti, Inc. didn’t want to shell out even that small amount, I’m thinking there are plenty of advertisers locally who’d be happy to reach DV’s loyal audience a couple hours each weekday on a webcast.
        It would certainly be the talk of the town and would show up the local broadcasters for the wimps they are. Every GOB and political hack in Berkshire County would be ‘tuning-in’. Such a webcast could even be done in late afternoon or early evening now that the Sun is going down early.
        Please consider the idea.

  14. Dave Bubriski
    November 1, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

    Bill you do a great job, love the show.

  15. Eric Vincelette
    November 1, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    I listen whenever I can too Bill…you keep it entertaining

  16. Theo Luke Nellie
    November 1, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    Too little too late for Pete M.
    Bump-outs or whatever they are: Not here, not in snow!!?? What were they thinking?
    You give Ruberto years a pass? Disagree strongly there. Taxpayers got killed, Planet.
    As for Bill S. show on ‘BRK, I hope he stays on the air. I’m a listener and wed miss it.

    • dusty
      November 1, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

      I think it is revealing and a riot that Ruberto gets a pass. But not that surprising as Dan (for whatever real reason) has been giving Ruberto a pass for some time now. Ruberto has even made Doyle look responsible for Christs sake.

      Dan you can put a tad of lipstick on this guy but he is still the reigning all time city crook. You would have castigated anyone else with his blatant screw ups.

      And do you think that Ruffer forgave that debt on her own? Do you think that all the people that screw up in this city (and there are a lot of them) did not clear their idiotic decisions with the mayor first??/ Yah they did….and as mayor, the buck stops with him. Except where you are concerned.

      • danvalenti
        November 1, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

        Configure it as you wish. Jimmy did SOMETHING. You obviously don’t agree with it, and it’s true, it was on the taxpayer’s dime, but we should point out that it was the two previous administrations — Doyle and Hathaway — who made the North Street projects into the taxpayer’s burden. It wasn’t Ruberto. He rode the horse that the others led into the track. It would have been worse NOT to. I will defend Jim Ruberto on the merits of what he did. He didn’t pitch a perfect game, but then again, he’s not Don Larsen. He did his best. That’s all anyone can do.

        • dusty
          November 2, 2011 at 1:18 am #

          that paragraph reminds me of the “Fox news spin”

          …ok people…you decide

  17. tito
    November 1, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

    Yep,another for keep the Fat Man!

  18. rick
    November 1, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

    follow the money people, marchetti and the rest of the bobbleheads on the council ok that money to barrington stage knowing that is was going to be a gift , did anyone out there get a thank you for it , i sure didnt. if you want more in the way of handouts vote marchetti…. how many side streets could have been fixed with 500gs… before you go vote take a look at your neighborhood and see whats been done for you and your neighbors.. then take a ride down north street( the good end) and i think youll get it. and hopefully pull the lever for bianchi….marchetti is running his one pittsfield parade theme, but unless you reside at the good end of north st. it dosent apply to you.

    • danvalenti
      November 1, 2011 at 5:00 pm #

      Well put, RICK.

  19. tito
    November 1, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    Pitty the drivers that take the left onto North from West, the arrow barely stays green for turning and the curb in the middle of the road is worthy of nascar driving. When you go down West from East street, there are two lanes that mingle.. fugetaboutit… and if someone is crossing South to North @ West street and you have to stop, fugetabputit, your rear ended. Who is the genius that came up with all this? And we haven’t even touched crime yet.

    • danvalenti
      November 1, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

      Yes. The folly of this redseign becomes more and more apparent everyday, as your detailed report illustrates. This has to be brought back to the doorstep of Deanna Ruffer, who royally blew it. Question is, why? Why? Who made out? There are lots of questions and some intriguing paper trails. Pity to poor taxpayers of Pittsfield: They were again screwed.

  20. tito
    November 1, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

    Sorry, don’t know what happened Planet?

  21. Shakes His Head
    November 1, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    It was nice to see the stickers torn off my car today when I got home. Also, looks like somebody’s been taking down signs, I can’t confirm the signs, but the stickers on my car in broad daylight? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

  22. rick
    November 1, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    what did your stickers say/?

  23. Shakes His Head
    November 1, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

    It doesn’t matter, but it is reprehensible

  24. Rivetor
    November 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    Yes, Shakes HH doesnt matter if Bianchi or Marchetti. This is what politics has degenerated into. I vote, I pay attention, try to follow things and cast a good vote. Why do I feel like a sucker?
    Im sorry that happened. For the first time in my life, I’m afraid for the city and for my kids. There won’t be jobs here for them and they will soon be off to college. then we won’t see them again. Theres a lot of pain in these streets. Which of the two candiadtes or any of them really get this???

  25. Shakes His Head
    November 1, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    One candidate does and the other is riding a unicorn around.

    • danvalenti
      November 1, 2011 at 4:54 pm #

      We are reading between the lines. Message confirmed.

  26. Shakes His Head
    November 1, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    On that note I’ll assume that removal of the stickers was a random act. If either campaign were sanctioning such act, there would be ramifications in the eyes of the voters.

  27. Joe Pinhead
    November 1, 2011 at 6:11 pm #

    Got to love the “creative” economy. Create a loan and morph it into a handout, and the timing is impeccable right before an election. And we wondered who was paying for those commercials on BRK. And yes the books do look good. Who doesn’t like a fairy tale with a happy ending?

  28. danvalenti
    November 1, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

    JOE P
    Is that what they mean by the “creative” economy? That is, “Let’s think of creative ways to screw the taxpayer”?

  29. Pompey
    November 1, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

    This is my first time in. Only found this site on Monday after hearing about it in the barbershop. Got curious especialy afte hearing someone dissing you. Glad to read about stuff like this. The Eagle doesn’t cover squat. No local radio news worth listening to. I loved your take Dan on the half million gift to the theater. in this economy, outrageous. Finally I feel like I got someone in the media who cares about me and the folks who don’t matter to anyone cept at election time

    • danvalenti
      November 1, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

      Thank you. We love first timers, who usually become long timers. Your involvement is important to us.

  30. Dee
    November 1, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    The one question I would like to ask either of the candidates is:

    How will you motivate the police dept. to be proactive rather than reactive with the crime, drugs and gangs that have taken over the city streets.

    • Concern
      November 1, 2011 at 8:38 pm #

      Get a new Chief would be a good start, this one is out of his league.

  31. tito
    November 2, 2011 at 3:32 am #

    TheChiefs hands are tied. Thanks to Deanna, police are needed downtown to control the traffic. Crime will go up in this community because of the depressed economy and violent crimes such as assault, mayhem robbery ect, it’s out there already. The next mayor better be focused on all aspects of safety and should be a staple in the agenda going forward. The hell with the arts, give the 500 g to the unemployed, out of work taxpayers!

      November 2, 2011 at 6:26 am #

      Tito Its starts with the Chief doing his job, like getting out of Ruberto’s office. I”m told he won’t make a move without Ruberto’s permission. I never see a cop on North St. unless their doing traffic.

  32. beezer
    November 2, 2011 at 4:18 am #

    Let me get this straight.. Ruffer gives you a loan for 500g and you meet the criteria, you are exempt from paying it back. My question is if one opens, a restaurant, and employes ten people, she’ll give me a loan and contingent on whether my operation is successful to keep the business afloat, keep the employees, the loan is cancelled? Where does one sign up? This is a ponzi scheme, who’s next the Beacon?

  33. Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
    November 2, 2011 at 5:01 am #

    @ Ambrose…can you expand more on your ” tho he knew the real story years ago about a guy who got his eye knocked out with an egg” comment…..1Berkshire, GE, Larkin, Downing, GOBs…doesn’t smell good to me…

  34. Gall Ball
    November 2, 2011 at 6:47 am #

    Campaigns produce lots of emotions thats for sure .. I will be voting forPeter Marchetti .., Ruberto did the best he could I think. Concern above, tho, is right about Wynn .. acting chief doesn’t make a move without the mayor. Odd arrangement.