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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.

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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.

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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!!!!”

Right.

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.

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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.

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26 Responses to “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”

  1. Ray Ovac
    November 17, 2011 at 9:12 am #

    As predicted, a light prison sentence for Armitage so there’s little to no risk of his spilling the beans as to just who he paid off to get all that federal, state, and city largess. Wouldn’t want to soil any of the local politicians now would we?

  2. Gene
    November 17, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    Well five years and 6 million fine is more than I thought he would get especially after the first sentencing delay. The soiled local officials are probably too small potatoes for the feds to go after unfortunately. Crooks.

  3. tito
    November 17, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    I think the recount should be televised on PCTV.

  4. Pfffft
    November 17, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    The recount won’t change anything, Lothrop will make a better council Chief (pun intnded). As for Mr. Armitage he was misunderstood. The man did a lot of good, philanthropy etc., especially where he lives in Florida. Don’t judge him by this.

    • ambrose
      November 17, 2011 at 11:51 am #

      The real philanthropists are us who shelled out the $ so he could be such a generous citizen. Its so easy to spend somebody elses money. Jerry Sandusky did a lot of good too. He’s also being misunderstood. As for Sherman v Lothrop I agree with DV (please don’t judge me by this), it should go to at large. Not Mazzeo hopefully, we need her to keep doing what she’s doing, giving the smartest people on earth a pain in the arse.

    • Jim Gleason
      November 18, 2011 at 8:26 am #

      He was generous with our money. Where are ruberto and Uncle Gerry when it comes t0 recouping our money given to this crook? It;s not their money so why should they care, right? More complicit crooks in our town.

  5. dusty
    November 17, 2011 at 1:56 pm #

    We elected Dan Bianchi in hopes of getting away from power GOB politics. Putting Lothrop in the head council seat would be a slap in the face to us who want change, and a handicap to Bianchi. Lothrop needs to be put in a position where he has as little effect on policy as possible. He has shown his colors..he gets no second chance with me.

    I don’t care if they pick a rookie…let him learn along the way. Can’t be any worse than what we had.

    ..Lothrop is Lee only shorter. Please don’t kill what little hope the taxpayers have grasped onto by putting in a bona fide GOB puppet at the council helm.

  6. Anytime
    November 17, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

    Pffft or whatever or whoever you are. Youre kidding, right?Armitage misunderstood? The only time he was misunderstood was whenever he would hang out at Smitty’s bar on Depot St in the notorious back room, where no one could be understood because everyone there was sloshed. You’re comment angers me.

  7. Joe Pinhead
    November 17, 2011 at 6:06 pm #

    Mr. Armitage, and the entire cast of characters that were involved in his charade deserve to be in jail for a very very long time. Dan I remember the morning shows very fondly and as I was reading the article tonight I could hear that theme song playing in the back ground. There was a lot odf discussion surrounding that time here in the city there is still work to do though and questions to answer:
    1. Armitage has been ordered to pay restitution has the City of Pittsfield positioned itself via a petition to the courts to get any restitution?
    2. What have we learned from it and can the City point to revisions in either the City code or the charter that would prohibit this from happening again? Such as asking for past tax filings crossing them with IRS records, a back ground check etc. you know exercising both good business practices and common sense.
    3. At various times through out his project he demonstrated some sort of portable contraption, the Court requested said contraption as part of his surrender, can the city get this self contained time machine contraption and put it on display at a gallery in the downtown art district along with all the minutes of the meetings where monies were approved? I bet the gallery on the corner of south street could come up with slogans etc.

    I have to say Dan you and your listeners nailed it dead on and they will never admit that you were correct. Not bad for a blogger

  8. Joe Pinhead
    November 17, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

    Where to start, J-Lo council president? I have to go with No-No; I believe he has neither the maturity nor the respect for the body itself. If he did possess these traits he would not roll his eyes when Councilor Mazzeo asks questions, probes or explores in what appears to be an honest effort to help the entire city understand and see a position that differs from the view that is feed to us via the bb and the favored few.
    I just read here on the planet a piece that demonstrates the lack of the aforementioned traits. Sure didn’t sound as if he has demonstrated leadership over the past few years. Leaders do not mock and mimic or attempt to degrade their counterparts, they demonstrate in mature measured ways why it is they believe those in opposition are on the wrong track- and in the end through this dialog all people those involved in the conversation and those listening to it in many ways are better for it. You must first engage with respect before you can build a consensus.

    Mr. Armitage, and the entire cast of characters that were involved in his charade deserve to be in jail for a very very long time. Dan I remember the morning shows very fondly and as I was reading the article tonight I could hear that theme song playing in the back ground. There was a lot of discussion surrounding that time here in the city there is still work to do though and questions to answer:
    1. Armitage has been ordered to pay restitution has the City of Pittsfield positioned itself via a petition to the courts to get any restitution?
    2. What have we learned from it and can the City point to revisions in either the City code or the charter that would prohibit this from happening again? Such as asking for past tax filings crossing them with IRS records, a back ground check etc. you know exercising both good business practices and common sense.
    3. At various times throughout his project he demonstrated some sort of portable contraption, the Court requested said contraption as part of his surrender, can the city get this self contained time machine contraption and put it on display at a gallery in the downtown art district along with all the minutes of the meetings where monies were approved? I bet the gallery on the corner of South Street could come up with slogans etc.

    I have to say Dan you and your listeners nailed it dead on and they will never admit that you were correct. Not bad for a blogger

    • Leona
      November 17, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

      What a brown nose.

      • Joe Pinhead
        November 17, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

        leona, thank you for proving my point. Both history and the truth here are crucial to ensure that we learn our lessons. I might have a brown nose as you state, however no taxpayer is out a penny because of it and no one was lied to bamboozled or cheated.
        Just sayin

  9. Mark Smith
    November 17, 2011 at 6:14 pm #

    I have been following the Armitage trial all along on http://www.masslive.com and snickering at the Eagle’s lack of attention. As with the Stracuzzi story, the Eagle will have to pick up the story now that it has been “outed” by Dan. Good Job!

  10. Boom
    November 17, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

    Ok, I’ll bite: Dan, can please let me in on your obsession with Gerry Doyle? Did he pick on you growing up, snub your request for an interview,etc? Joe B was fit for the council a week ago and then you found out Doyle ate lunch at Jimmy’s. Now, Joe’s not qualified and J-Lo is in the running for pres. Is this what Barry has to look forward to? It sounds personal and I’m interested. He brought what he, and most others, thought was an opportunity to the city in EV. The council voted on the GE $ yet they get a pass from you. As a side note I’m impressed by Doyle’s ability to multi-task: according to this site I had the total number of campaigns being run at about 3-4 this year on top of coordinating some top secret ops in order to get TFB elected…oh yeah and that included disingenuously throwing his support behind Scago. Sounds like some Jedi stuff to me.

  11. Browning
    November 17, 2011 at 7:44 pm #

    Boom goes bust! Dan, no one can top you!! Good job flushing our the 4 flushers.

  12. Molly
    November 17, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

    Was that a slip-up where you said, “according to this site, I had the total number of campaigns…”. I? Gerry — you shouldn’t have had that last drink and then blog…

    Well, I have my reasons for not thinking that you were a very good mayor (with the top two being the GE settlement and thinking that you could just hang flags around the city saying, “It’s happening!” and get away with it. NOTHING was happening! And that was the biggest problem for Pittsfield, for years!

    But I’d also be interested to see what DV has to say…

    • Boom
      November 17, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

      “I” being the one doing the counting Molly. Am I wrong? Just pointing out an observation.

      • Molly
        November 18, 2011 at 10:16 am #

        If so, very poor wording on your part. “According to this site I had…” signifies to me that according to this site, YOU were running x number of campaigns. But ok – I can see what you are saying — you being the counter. Thanks for the clarification.

    • rick
      November 18, 2011 at 5:17 am #

      lol

  13. CONCERNED
    November 17, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

    I was impress with Councilor Sherman statement above. It seemed very sincere and truthful. I know his great uncle Ray and knew his grandfather, both are and were good men. I’m sure he learned a lot from both. My advice Councilor Sherman be your own man like you stated your are. I think he would make a good council president.

  14. CONCERNED
    November 17, 2011 at 10:21 pm #

    I want to thank the Berkshire Eagle and its writer Brian Sullivan for an excellent article on Paul Procopio and his beautiful late wife Cathy. If you haven’t read it please do it will give you a lift like it did me.

  15. Banjo
    November 18, 2011 at 6:55 am #

    Kevin Sherman has shown by his steady hand during council meetings, votes and debates that hes the best choice for the job.

  16. Leona
    November 18, 2011 at 8:02 am #

    What about Melissa? She has more time available and a working relationship with Bianchi.

    • danvalenti
      November 18, 2011 at 8:13 am #

      LEONA
      Remember, the council president typically does not debate. The president serves an adjudication function. Would you want MM’s voice taken out of debates? Many would not, and THE PLANET is one of them.

  17. Leona
    November 18, 2011 at 8:44 am #

    Have you asked her if she’s interested?