COUNTERPOINT: THE CASE FOR J-LO AS COUNCIL PREZ … PLANET PREDICTS NO CHANGE AFTER WARD 5 RECOUNT … & THE EV WORLDWIDE CON KING SENTENCED IN FEDERAL COURT
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, NOV. 17, 2011) — Nothing is ever as it seems in politics, especially the inbred nature of Pittsfield politics. “Inbred” in this case refers to the narrow confines of the city when it comes to connections, links, and this-one-knowing-that-one … to say nothing of, “But he’s a nice guy” as a qualification for office.
Pittsfield is still, largely, a blue-collar-type town. Family connections runs deep, and there are still tightly bound neighborhoods. It’s hard to escape the hemmed-in, “small town” nature, the pros and the cons of it. If you happen to be a “player” or a public figure of some sort, the sense of microscopic living becomes even more acute. THE PLANET certainly knows this, as does every mayor and city councilor.
The Case for J-Lo
Yesterday, we endorsed councilor-at-large Kevin Sherman as the next council president. We stand by that nod. We will, however, present the case for the only other legitimate candidate. He would be the only councilor besides Sherman with experience and institutional knowledge: Jonathan Lothrop. Outside of Sherman and J-Lo, there will be no other councilor with more than one term’s worth of experience. They will be second-termers or rookies. All of this assumes that J-Lo withstand the challenge of Joe Breault in the recount (more on that below).
What’s the case for J-Lo as council chief?
(1) Like Sherman, he has experience … even more than Kev.
(2) He is a policy wonk in the best sense of that term. Lothrop, who has a Simon’s Rock education and a master’s degree in social work, loves the “game” of politics and nuances of policy. Such a quality is not nitpicking when it comes to the presidency. Such people study the tactics and tend to have an unusual capacity for strategic thought.
(3) J-Lo, who for whatever reason has along with John Krol come to be a target for the anti-Ruberto, anti-GOB crowd, has the ability to work with both sides of “the aisle.”
(4) J-Lo can engage in debate while keeping his emotions at bay. This quality would suit the role of council president, not so much for his role in discussions but for making fair rulings in the sometimes heated exchanges of his colleagues.
(5) J-Lo knows the rules of parliamentary procedure as well as anyone. A good umpire begins in knowing the rule book.
(6) He has shown the ability to be judicious. J-Lo does not seem to be vindictive or to operate out of petty impulse, which is often the doom of too much of Pittsfield politics.
(7) J-Lo has the respect of his colleagues. His standing in the ward, based on the virtual tie in the race against Breault, is 50-50 at best. Oddly, that would tend to ameliorate a disadvantage we noted yesterday. It remains THE PLANET’s belief that, all things being equal, it’s best for an at-large council president than one from the wards, simply because it take that councilor out of the debate. A president serves more as the arbitrator of debate. If half the ward who voted went for the opposition, they would not miss his voice as much.
(8) J-Lo has intellectual curiosity, a trait that’s too much missing in local politics.
(9) He has a record of independent thinking.
What of the Sherman’s DelGallo-Doyle Connection?
Yesterday, THE PLANET heard from interested parties who were making the case for Lothrop over Sherman as president. They brought up Sherman’s alleged connections with Gerry Doyle. They pointed out that Doyle was somehow behind the scenes, also noting that Doyle backed Breault in the Ward 5 race. Fair points for an aired out discussion, THE PLANET agrees.
We asked Sherman about this and about his connection to the DelGallo political brand.
“Ray DelGallo is my great uncle,” Sherman said. “His brother Joe was my grandfather. I have great love and respect for him and appreciate any advice he has. He along with many other family members and their passion for Pittsfield are a large part of why I’ve wanted to be involved in the city since I was 12 years old.”
Sherman noted, though, that “not only am I not ‘beholden’ to anyone, [but] I have never been asked, told, or even encouraged to make any decisions. All of my votes and actions have been my decisions alone. If you would like to have lunch someday at DelGallos, you would see that your perception of the restaurant and the man are off base. [Remo] is an 86-year-old man who works ever day of his life serving affordable food to hard working, blue-collar workers. He has great stories and passion for politics but pushes no agenda.
As for Doyle, Sherman said, “Gerry was my Babe Ruth coach in the 1990s, and we’ve remained friends since that time. Again, he has never leaned on me or pressured me in any manner regarding votes on issues, not has he guided my philosophy of government.”
Sherman ended with this: “These are the facts, Dan, plain and simple. If you have specific concerns regarding any of my votes over the past four years or my vision for Pittsfield, I’m happy to discuss.”
What do You Think, Readers?
That’s essentially the case for the new council’s first important vote come January. The only other name we have heard mentioned in this discussion of the presidency is Melissa Mazzeo, but we have no reason to believe she would be interested in the chair. We also think, compared to Sherman and Lothrop, she could not as easily win the necessary six votes nor would she be as qualified.
THE PLANET would be interested in your thoughts on which of the two — Sherman and Lothrop — would be best suited as council president. We urge commentators to state their preferences based on facts more than feelings, though the latter can be a factor. Just keep it clean and intelligent.
Count and Recount Slated for Monday, 10 a.m., in Council Chambers
The Ward 5 recount will take place beginning at 10 a.m., Monday, Nov. 21, in council chambers. The procedure, as explained by the city clerk’s office, seems straightforward. Lothrop and Breault (and/or their representatives) will be on hand. The paper ballots are physically examined, one at a time. Lothrop won 773 votes to Breault’s 767, a six-vote margin. The vast majority of ballots will not be at issue, since voters correctly filled out the sheet and marked their preference — clearly and unambiguously — for one of the candidates.
There are 83 ballots, though, that the machine recorded as blank (not 84, as has been previously reported). Those ballots will decide the outcome. City clerk Linda Tyer confirmed that “blank” ballots that clearly indicates preference (for example, one where the name is circled instead of the bubble being filled in) will be counted. Ballots that are marked in such a way that does not clearly and unambiguously indicate preference will NOT be counted, nor, of course, will be ballots left untouched. Candidates can appeal the ruling of the counter to the Board of Registrars, which will be on hand as arbitrators.
Breault needs to pick up seven of the 83 ballots, or 8.4% of the blanks. Assuming the balance of the 83 will be statistically representative of the entire vote, that’s an enormous amount. It’s possible but highly unlikely. THE PLANET therefore predicts that the results will stand and Lothrop will remain in the city council.
THE PLANET hopes that is the case, for a few reasons: First, we endorsed Lothrop because he’s the more qualified man. Second, we don’t think being a restaurant owner is of its own enough to make one a qualified for office. Third, we have concerns about the influence of Doyle on Breault should the latter win the recount. Regulars at Jimmy’s Restaurant, some of whom are members of THE PLANET’s Secret Squadron, report that Doyle drops in at Jimmy’s two to three times a week. We’ve also heard from various political types that Doyle was behind the scenes working on (running?) Breault’s campaign.
Armitage Sentenced for Fraud, Tax Evasion, Brings Back the Horrible Yips of the EV Worldwide Scam
We don’t read the Boring Broadsheet, so we can’t say if it’s reported on the sentencing of Michael “1,000 Jobs” Armitage, the convicted swindler who made off with a ton of your money for his shell company, EV Worldwide.
You remember the headlines in the Boring Broadsheet at the time: “1,000 new jobs.” The BB, having by then sold its soul to Media News Group, was under complete control of the corner office, then headed by Gerry Doyle. The BB rah-rah-ed the story with Second Coming-style headlines. The BB, in the first of many such times, committed larceny and fraud on the citizens of Pittsfield.
Armitage was sentenced Nov. 14 in federal court to five years in prison and fined $6 million after his conviction for fraud and tax evasion. The feds won the conviction for Armitage’s defrauding of local banks and for failing to file tax returns for 13 years, during which time he made millions off of taxpayers in deals such as EV Worldwide.
EV Made Off with Taxpayers’ GE Eco. Devel. Money in an 11th Hour, Hugh-Hush Deal
You remember how strongly Doyle pushed for that deal, even ramming through an 11th-hour, $250,000 grant from the GE Economic Development Fund, no questions asked by the council. On “The Dan Valenti Show,” we pounced on that move in every which way, including loose.
We bad … or so the Vested Interests wanted you to believe. These were the same crooks that tried to shove the Civic Authority down Pittsfield’s throat. We bad then, too.
We were being, in the words of the administration’s enablers, “negative.” We predicted the EV deal would bite the city bad, that taxpayers were being hosed, and that the deal was fake.
No, don’t listen to that “king mixer, Dan Valenti,” thus spoke the thugs and cronies who wanted like heck to ram this deal through (gee, were pockets lined?). “Dan Valenti is an entertainer. Dan Valenti is in show business. He’s not a journalist. He’s just trying to boost the ratings of his talk show. Don’t listen to him. Listen to us. 1,000 jobs. 1,000 Jobs!!!!”
That’s why Armitage faced 78 months in prison and a $6.1 million fine. Because Dan Valenti chose to create a story. What a story it was. Congressman Olver came in with a ton of taxpayer dough. Doyle coughed up for city taxpayers (a double whammy). As we recall, even the state got involved (a triple whammy for Pittsfield taxpayers). The feds proved in court that what Armitage did to Pittsfield taxpayers courtesy of our foolish politicians, he also did to the good people of Agawam and Springfield.
Armitage came, he saw, he conquered, and how he’s going to be doing time in the stripey hole.
Armitage admitted in court to lining his own pockets with a portion of the federal transportation grant he received (thank you, John Olver!). As for EV Worldwide, Asst. U.S. Attorney Steven Breslow called the company a “shell” that Armitage used to fund his lifestyle, all the while playing hide-and-go-hide from the IRS.
When the BB doesn’t share THESE details, you won’t be surprised.
TOMORROW, WE PROMISE: WHY CARR HARDWARE IS BETTER THAN HOME DEPOT, AND THE PLANET’S ELECTION ANALYST JOSH CUTLER GIVES US HIS TAKE ON THE TRANSPIRATIONS OF NOV. 8. MEANWHILE …
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE T O ALL.