PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, NOV. 18, 2011) — With BJ’s Wholesale Club being the lastest Big Box to further erode the market base for the dwindling number of Mom and Pops in the area, let us salute one store that exemplifies the battle.

Carr Hardware has been a part of downtown Pittsfield since the 1950s. When you go there, it looks like a hardware store. It smells, feels, and sounds like a hardware store. The aisles are narrow, the shelves are stocked to overflowing, and the help treats the customer as king and queen. As many times THE PLANET has been in Carr’s over the years countless times, we still like to explore: nooks in the side walls, crannies hidden behind curtains, secret passages that look like the insides of the Green Monster scoreboard at Fenway Park (if you’ve ever been inside). It’s a walk back in time without H.G. Wells … or Rod Taylor (who gets that last reference?!).

Bottom line, though, takes center stage in a hardware store. Hardware stores exist for pragmatic reasons: You go to one because you need an item, a service, a commodity typically related to a home or other building. The need for an item implies a problem that begs solving. Case in point: THE PLANET needed to stop a leak drip-drip-dripping from the cold-water shut-off valve underneath the kitchen sink.

Not being a plumber, we think we need plumber’s tape.

We go downstairs to the service desk (a trip in itself, the old stairwell, with its Pittsfield Mets 1997 championship sign on the right and B&W snapshots of Carr’s opening day in the 1950s on the left). We state our need, and we are directed to a $10 roll of tape. Perfect, we think. Just what we need. The service man, though, asks about our problem. We describe it. He smiles and says we don’t need tape. He then pulls out a model of a shut-off valve, instructs us on tightening the nut, and says that will seal off the leak. Later, with wrench in hand, the fix works perfectly.

He talked us out of a $10 purchase in order to solve our problem. He lost a sale for the store but ensured a lifetime customer. That, my good friends, is customer service, and that is why I will not shop for such items at Home Depot. Besides, Home Depot doesn’t have nooks and crannies. Carr’s has stayed true to itself, its business philosophy, and its home town.


More Information on Monday’s Ward 5 Recount

We present additional information on the upcoming recount in the Ward 5 race, in which incumbent Jonathan Lothrop pulled six more votes than challenger Joe Breault. The recount will take place Monday, Nov. 21, at 10 a.m., in council chambers. The event is open to the public.

The Board of the Registrar of Voters oversees the process. The board will umpire the proceedings, and will be seated apart from the counters.

The recount begins at 10 a.m.

(1) The Board will examine the seals in the two containers, one each from 5a and 5b.  After the polls close, a worker seals each container with a red zip-tie seal, tabbed with a number. Containers are taken by police to a locked vault at the Registrar’s office. That’s where they’ve been sitting since the evening of Nov. 8.

(2) Seals are broken, and the bins are open.

(3) Ballots are then counted, one by one, in blocks of 50. Each block is brought to the counting table. The ballot reader literally looks at that ballot and indicates to the tally clerk the result of the vote. There are 1,632 ballots to examine. All but 83 will tally for J-Lo or JB. The 83 are the so-called blanks. Each candidate and/or their representatives witnesses the recounting.

(4) Every ballot will be examined. City Clerk Linda Tyer says that voter indication will take preference over the voting machine’s inability ot read a ballot if — a huge if — that intention is clear (for example, the name is circled or a voter places a check mark next to a candidate’s name.

City clerk Linda Tyer says the recount should take three to four hours. Tyer says having gone through the experience on a citywide basis in 2009 in the Ruberto-Bianchi recount, with 12,000 or so ballots recounted, provides an advantage.

“In 2009, it was nerve-wracking,” Tyer says. “For me professionaly, it was challenge and absolutely amazing. It’s helpful having done it once before and on a much more larger scope. [The 2009 recount] provided the ultimate test of our voting procedure, since very few votes actually changed. I think the 2009 experience shows that the likelihood of that the blank ballots in Ward 5 being able to overturn the result is very sllim.”


And now, after the emotional dust has settled from Election Day, we present a highly anticipated analysis by PLANET writer Josh Cutler.

2011 Pittsfield Elections: A Look Back, a Look Ahead

By Josh Cutler


Since when did Pittsfield have a rollercoaster ride which could compare to the “Superman” at Six Flags in Agawam?

Since Tuesday night, Nov. 8, when the 2011 Pittsfield Municipal elections sent the hearts of political junkies racing as reaching the top of the Tower of Terror might do. In one day, an election would change the face of the corner office on Allen Street, as well as the complexion of the Pittsfield City Council.

Mayoral Race: Bianchi by the Hair of his Chinny Chin Chin

After Dan Bianchi’s 700 vote victory over Peter Marchetti in the September primary, it was clear that Marchetti had a great deal of work to do in order to spread his message and increase voter turnout in key areas of Pittsfield, namely Wards 3 and 4, where the electorate tends to turn out in greater numbers. Unfortunately for Marchetti, his victories in each of the four precincts were not as wide as current Mayor Jimmy Ruberto’s victories in 2009 to make up the difference in losing other precincts across the city.

Ironically, it wouldn’t be Wards 3 or 4 which would be the decisive factor for the election, but Ward 2, Precinct B, an area of Pittsfield which traditionally does not vote in great numbers, and an area of Pittsfield, the Morningside neighborhood, which one might expect would be a stronghold for Marchetti, his home neighborhood. It was here that Bianchi was able to squeak by and avenge his ever so close loss to Ruberto in 2009.

For many people in Pittsfield, especially the older population, Bianchi represents more of an “old-school” approach to politics. He isn’t flashy, he isn’t technologically savvy, and he’s not a crazy spender. Bianchi represents an honest, ethical, common-sense approach to government which the people of Pittsfield want. Over the next two years, Bianchi will have to prove to the voters that he isn’t the “no man” which many people perceive he is (as he often cast votes in the negative during his tenure on the City Council for hot button issues). During the campaign, many voters perceived Bianchi as a “slash and burn” candidate, who would ignore the arts and cut funding for key city services, and it will be Bianchi’s task early on in his tenure to prove that this is not his mantra.

Marchetti, on the other hand, represented much of what the past eight years has been for the city. While many positive things have happened during this time, including the redevelopment of downtown Pittsfield as an arts and culture ‘destination’, this period of time has also been mired at times by cronyism and ethics violations, and Marchetti has largely been tied to the network of people who has been responsible for this perception. It is possible that this connection allowed Bianchi to sneak through the back door and take the election. It is unfortunate that Marchetti’s sexuality at times came into play during the latter portion of the election. While it might be an easy card for a politician to play in a parochial city with old school values,why should that effect how effectively someone can be mayor?

I went into the election with an open mind, but I chose to support Bianchi because I felt that it is time for the City of Pittsfield to take a year-round approach towards economic development, not just for the tourists from Memorial Day through Labor Day. As we stand right now, the improvements and the development we have made over the past eight years will be unsustainable in the long-term unless we rebuild our population. Our current demographics simply cannot sustain expensive luxuries like the Colonial Theatre and the Barrington Stage. The common people of Pittsfield can’t afford to frequent these places on their paychecks when they have to feed their families at the same time. Pittsfield needs to find a way to rebuild the industry sector so that the year-round population will rise, and that it will be sustainable. I viewed Marchetti as the type of mayor who wouldn’t be as aggressive in pursuing this avenue, especially with his refusal to serve on the PEDA board, the KEY TO THE FUTURE OF INDUSTRY IN PITTSFIELD. Unless we redevelop our population and bring new industry and jobs in, Pittsfield is going to hell in a handbasket.

I voted for Jim Ruberto in 2009, and over the past two years, I’ve come to reconsider some of Dan Bianchi’s “no” votes in the past, especially his dissention in the 2001 Civic Authority debate. The more one looks into the situation, the more one realizes that an affirmative vote for a Civic Authority could have potentially given that board unlimited authority to exercise powers of eminent domain across the city. Did we really want to give a board, likely populated with cronies of former Mayor Gerry Doyle, authority to do whatever they wanted with no checks and balances to the taxpayers? Forget about a stadium and minor league baseball, as this vote could have jeopardized businesses and homes of people who are just trying to live their lives and feed their families without being bothered.

I’ve also considered some of Bianchi’s “no” votes towards allocations of city money to entities like the Colonial Theatre, and appreciate his economic conservatism. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, an attitude is pervasive to many that money is nothing. “What’s another $80,000 for John Barrett while he waits for a new job? Who cares!”, or “It’s only $1,000,000 for a theater! Just give it to them!”. That type of attitude, in the MIDST OF THE WORST ECONOMIC CRISIS SINCE THE GREAT DEPRESSION, is NOT WHAT PITTSFIELD NEEDS. This comes a decade after financial insolvency, which Bianchi helped bail Pittsfield out of as a member of the financial oversight board.

Marchetti has served the city well during his tenure on the council, as well as in the community with his service for organizations like the Morningside Committee and Pittsfield Parade Committee. With such a close margin of victory, don’t be surprised to see a Bianchi/Marchetti rematch in 2013, especially if Bianchi’s first term is unproductive and unpopular with the voters.

At-Large Race: A Mixed Bag of Tricks

It was no surprise that incumbent Melissa Mazzeo was the top vote-getter from the pool of eight at-large candidates. Mazzeo has shown a penchant over the past two years to ask tough questions to civic leaders and has not been afraid to cast votes unpopular with the Ruberto Administration. Mazzeo will be looked upon over the next two years to grow as a leader and set an example as a tireless watchdog for the new council members.

It was also no surprise that Kevin Sherman easily won his bid for re-election. Sherman has quietly been a leader on the council over his past few terms and is widely expected in political circles to vie for the council presidency come January.

Churchill Cotton is a newcomer to the council, placing third in Tuesday’s election. A longtime veteran of the School Committee, Cotton brings years of experience in the business sector with KB Toys and Berkshire Life to the table, and his municipal experience serving the school department will only be a plus for the council as he hits the ground running. Cotton is a popular personality in the community, and his election also comes as no surprise.

Though not unfamiliar to the City Council chambers, Barry Clairmont will be taking a seat on the dais, rather than sitting in the peanut gallery this January. Clairmont began his campaigning early in the spring and worked Ward 4 especially hard in order to push himself over the top. Clairmont totes 25 years of experience as a CPA, which will be especially beneficial to the council come budget time in May and June.

Rick Scapin, former City Council President and member of the “Three Amigos” during the 2001 Stadium debate, finished just out of the money. Scapin, like Bianchi, is a very old-school type of candidate who elects not to spend money or use technology in campaigning, rather going straight to the people. In a day in age where technology is being used more so as an advantage to win elections, this approach may have cost him key votes.

Nicholas Caccamo also did well in his second effort at municipal office, coming in sixth out of the eight candidates. Caccamo, who ran for Mayor in 2009, is still young (25 years old) and shows a great deal of promise as a future city leader. Caccamo may be best served to adopt a more streamlined platform in order to appeal to a wider base of voters in Pittsfield in order to win in the future.

Anthony Maffuccio was at the bottom of the barrel for candidates listed on the ballot, as the stigma from his domestic violence arrest and his poor service as Ward 7’s councilor was not forgotten by the voters of Pittsfield. He might have been better served to try to run for Ward 7 as he originally planned to, though it likely would have been difficult to defeat the popular Simonelli.

Former Ward 7 Councilor and Mayoral Candidate Joe Nichols rounded out the at-large candidates. It is extremely difficult to run a write-in campaign anywhere, let alone Pittsfield, where 5,000 write-in votes would still have placed him out of the money on Tuesday night. Nichols, like Mazzeo, also showed an independent streak during his tenure on the council, and his willingness to ‘tell it like it is’ will be sorely missed in elected government.

Ward Races: Few Surprises in Victors, Some in Margins

Kevin Morandi found that the third time was the charm Tuesday night, easily defeating write-in candidate Peter White to earn his seat in Ward 2. Though Morandi was the only name on the ballot, he worked Ward 2 hard in the days leading up to the election in order to solidify his victory, even walking Tyler Street with his sign during the Halloween Parade. It was going to be difficult for White to make much headway based on the traditional trends of Ward 2’s voting (which generally votes in very low numbers compared to the rest of the city), though it is fair to say that Pittsfield government has not seen the last of White. He’s a young face with experience and has tangible results, and will likely resurface in another race in two years.

In Ward 3, though Jeff Ferrin campaigned hard, Paul Capitanio was able to cruise to re-election, taking nearly 70% of the vote. Capitanio faced a great deal of criticism for his perceived inactivity on the council by Ferrin, though the electorate overwhelmingly approved of his performance Tuesday night. Capitanio faces a tough task over the next two years, including overseeing the impending demolition of the former Grossman’s warehouse on East St., as well as the continued development of the PEDA site. Ferrin has worked hard over the past two years to polish his image and learn the ins and outs of Pittsfield government, and his watchdog-like attitude will only be beneficial in acting as a check and balance to the City Council if he chooses to continue to do so.

Christopher Connell won in his second bid for Ward 4’s seat, defeating Ozias “Chuck” Vincelette. Though not a known commodity to the ward like Vincelette, Connell campaigned hard and won this election by going door to door and getting to know the residents of the ward over the past few months. Connell is going to have difficult shoes to fill with Mike Ward, though he brings years of experience as a landlord and property owner to the table, which will be important in dealing with issues of tax collection and blight over the next two years.

Though many expect a recount, Jonathan Lothrop has seemingly squeaked by newcomer Joseph Breault to barely retain his seat as Ward 5’s councilor. This was a surprise, as Lothrop has done good work for the ward and the city during his tenure, including helping to negotiate the Airport Compromise. Breault came under fire for being the proprietor of a building on West Housatonic St. which was the potential site of a strip club, a connection which may have cost him votes and the election.

Chris Yon and John Krol were uncontested incumbents and retained their seats in Wards 1 and 6 respectively, while Tony Simonelli was an uncontested challenger in Ward 7.

School Committee: Kinnas Finally Has His Day

I was so delighted to finally see the people of Pittsfield wake up and elect Terry Kinnas. This man has come to council meetings for years, done his homework, and offered solutions upon solutions on how to save the taxpayers of Pittsfield from shilling out more. Kinnas’ voice as a watchdog will be a welcome voice to elected government, as he projects a sense of conservatism, honesty, and accountability which Pittsfield desperately needs in its’ elected officials.



  1. Shakes His Head
    November 18, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    I hope that Pittsfield has seen the last of Peter White. good riddance

    • huh?
      November 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

      I have never heard anyone ever – ever – say anything bad about Peter White. Are you upset because he tried to represent Pittsfield in a bigger capacity? That’s a positive.

      I challenge anybody to come up with three negatives about Peter. You can’t do it. Peter is one of the best voices for the city of Pittsfield we’ve ever seen.

    • Banjo
      November 18, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

      Agree with ya there, shh. White was too imbedded with the gobs for his own good or our good.

    • Steve Wade
      November 18, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

      SHH I think Pete is a good man with alot to offer. Too Bad people aren’t as involved as Peter. Peter stay involved and run for at large in 2 years when I can vote for you.

      • Shakes His Head
        November 19, 2011 at 10:19 am #

        Maybe PW knows that ‘a lot’ is two words instead of one.

  2. tito
    November 18, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    Why is the City Clerk saying the overturn of the election in five is very slim? Isn’t she neutral? Anything could happen!

    • huh?
      November 18, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

      You are very unaware of recounts.

    • ambrose bearse
      November 18, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

      Are you naive? Of course she’s not neutral. She’s obligated to the mayor and council who appointed her to cause the Ward 3 special election. They don’t want to lose J-Lo

      • ambrose
        November 18, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

        BTW – Carr’s is a great store and Marshll Raser is a good man.

    • Baby Baby
      November 18, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

      She is neutral. In the mayor election in 2009 the vote changed by 2 with over 13,000 ballots cast. In the ward 5 race there were less than 1,700 ballots cast. She is most likely correct in her assessment. I doubt it has anything to do with her personal preference. Her personal preference is?

      • ambrose
        November 19, 2011 at 9:55 am #

        COUNTING BALLOTS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BEING NEUTRAL – i like her but she did exactly the same thing speranzo has been vilified for, not finishing her term and costing the city a special election

  3. ambrose bearse
    November 18, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

    Has anybody on earth ever heard of Josh Cutler? He’s not in the phone book, he can’t be found on the internet. I suspect that he, like Jane Johnson, the morally corupt Pittsfield teacher are figments of DV’s imagination. No one has ever heaped praise on Terry Kinnas except D. If he is really what Pittsfield desperately needs then Palookaville is in a lot more trouble than could ever be imagined.

    • huh?
      November 18, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

      Nobody knows who Josh Cutler is, except Dan Valenti. And nobody cares who Dan Valenti is.

      I just come here to read the comments and generally feel better about myself relative to the posters.

    • Baby Baby
      November 18, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

      I know Josh. He lives with his parents on Brookside Drive.

  4. beezer
    November 18, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    @ambrose… say kinnas backwards, go ahead, it’s xmas time!

  5. Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
    November 18, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    Have you been asleep all summer ambrose? Josh Cutler reviewed the Colonials baseball all summer and is a pretty bright law student at Umass, grew up in Pittsfield, comes back often to visit his family who lives in Ward 4

    • ambrose
      November 18, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

      WOW! he and the sturge both live in ward 4. gimmee abrake – he gose ta law skool rites baseball stories bout the colonial and likes yrret sannik. but just for the helluvit hilly, how do u no hees pritty brite – just cuz his fambly lives in ward fore

  6. beezer
    November 18, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    Josh Cutler was excellent when he covered the Colonials this summer!

  7. Banjo
    November 18, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

    Josh Cutler is the mayor of Pittsfield in about a decade. I know this cuz the planet has deemed it so. Hes a bright kid. Enjoyed his baseball coverage. Hes getting a law degree at Umass. If Josh is a figment of Valenti’s imagination, then Dan’s imagination is more powerful than we suspect.

    • danvalenti
      November 18, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

      If Josh Cutler didn’t exist, I wouldn’t have seen the need to invent him.

      • ambrose
        November 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm #

        How about Jane Johnson, the morally corupt teacher.

  8. tito
    November 18, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    Is Josh Cutler the next Gerry Doyle?

  9. dusty
    November 18, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

    I also like Car hardware. And your write up could be a not so well disguised ad for them. Sure reads like an ad. If I see another writeup like this i will think you are doing paid subliminal advertising.

    • danvalenti
      November 18, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

      Could be but isn’t. It’s nothing more than what I wrote. They opted out of an easy $10 sale and gave me (free) knowledge that solved my problem. THE PLANET is unbought. … and unbossed.

    • Molly
      November 18, 2011 at 8:23 pm #

      I like Carr’s as well. They always make it easier for me. Try even finding someone to ask a question to at Home Cheapo – isn’t going to happen! And if you have to return something, all I can say is “good luck”. There is never a problem at Carr’s with returning something for any reason. Last year, I bought a small portable heater at Carr’s, got it home and it turned out that it wasn’t what I wanted (I didn’t like the fan blowing the air) – not a problem at all returning it. The one that I replaced it with stopped working after about 6 weeks — not a problem at all — I could get another of the same brand/model #, I could pick out a different one, or I could get my money back. My sister just bought one at Home Cheapo and when she brought it to the register to pay for it, she was asked if she wanted to buy the extended warranty for an additional $30 (on a $45 heater!) as they wouldn’t take it back after 30 days – she would need to contact the Manufacturer if defective after that.

  10. Joetaxpayer
    November 18, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    Carr hardware,has less space and twice as much to offer than any box store.Josh like what you wrote was right on as far as im concerned.Dont worry I know that you are real.

  11. Browning
    November 18, 2011 at 5:36 pm #

    If josh Cutler is a figment of Dan Valenti’s imagination, who’ll get the law degree in a few years?

    • ambrose
      November 18, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

      trish farley-bouvier-kennedy-onassis

      • Molly
        November 18, 2011 at 8:25 pm #


  12. Dan
    November 19, 2011 at 3:20 am #

    Pete White was set up by the gob’s to eliminate Ryan Scago and get Trish elected…it was easy to see….except by poor Pete White who was too innocent. I wonder how supportive the gob’s were in Pete White’s write in election ?

    • ambrose
      November 19, 2011 at 9:58 am #

      they weren’t supportive at all – they’ll need him again next fall

  13. Grumpy
    November 19, 2011 at 8:53 am #

    I agree that Carr’s is a fine store & will shop there only if an emergency arises. I will go to Home Depot because of the lack of proper railings at the rear of the store leading to the basement. On numerous occasions, I have spoken to various employees in this regard. i am certain there are older customers who feel the same.

  14. tito
    November 19, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    White and Malumphy are done.

  15. tito
    November 19, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    Tricia is on her way. Sometimes we elect someone who might turn out to be something better than we thought, have that feeling about Tricia. Lets at least give her a chance!

  16. Browning
    November 19, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    Tricia has one year to prove herself.
    On the recount I have to agree. The vote was 50-50 and so youd figure any new votes will split about the same way.

  17. tito
    November 19, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

    how do you figure Browning?

  18. Browning
    November 19, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

    tito, she has one year, the remainder of no show’s term, then she runs on her record or lack thereof. What makes anyone think she’s going to perform any better as a state rep than she did in here pervious incarnations as a councilor (flop) and ruberto secretary, er, chief of staff (where she was in it for herself and her own glory). Also she harps on education but pulls her kids out of city schools. She also did a lousy job on school building commission.

  19. tito
    November 19, 2011 at 7:17 pm #

    Browning, talking about the recount vote. How do you arrive at 50-50?

  20. Pat
    November 20, 2011 at 8:21 am #

    Why is Dan silent on the drug clinic issue? The GOBs don’t want it messing up their renaissance. Who’s gonna fight for Joe Kapanski who has to drive his son to Springfield every day for doses? Who’s gonna fight for the little guy? It’s a tough issue for Mayor Bianchi to start with. Which side does he choose? The Planet doesn’t want to touch it. He chooses to gush about Carr Hardware instead.

    • Joetaxpayer
      November 20, 2011 at 11:44 am #

      Let them go through the permitting process like everyone else.Not sure why Jim at Nautilis would want that type of bussiness in his building.It is needed know doubt,but they should not sneek it in just any where

    • danvalenti
      November 20, 2011 at 11:54 am #

      There is no Secret Reason, as you imply. I just don’t know enough about the ins and outs. As far as a meth clinic downtown on Summer Street, that horse left the barn long ago. There the welfare office on the same street. The juvenile court, ad-lib, Critter Park and the intermodal. A meth clinic is not going to upset the ambiance. You seem definitive when you state, “The Planet doesn’t want to touch it.” Upon what basis do you have for that claim?

      • Pat
        November 20, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

        Isn’t it normal that you don’t know the ins and outs of a story initially? Since when has that stopped you?

        • danvalenti
          November 21, 2011 at 7:13 am #

          Fair question. No, it is not the norm. Usually, I have a good understanding of the issues involved. In this case, I don’t. Let me ask you about “the story” — Is it whether or not the facility should be allowed on Summer Street in the Nautilus Building? Is it about local zoning vs. federal ADA act? (in other words, home rule or “states rights?”) Is it about the drug-abuse problem afflicting Pittsfield? Let me know what you think “the story” is here. Thanks.

  21. tito
    November 20, 2011 at 9:19 am #

    3 negatives about Peter? surely and collectively, if he was so great he could have pulled off the write in…he’s done.

  22. Banjo
    November 20, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    3 negatives about Peter?
    1 he was too reluctant to go against the Establishment in too many of his votes
    2 he was used as a dupe in the state reps election to get tfb past the primary
    3 he bacekd pam malumphy for mayor in 09

  23. tito
    November 20, 2011 at 11:33 am #

    …has no personality… although I like his fu man chu beard.

  24. Browning
    November 20, 2011 at 4:11 pm #

    Also just as we said did anyone else notice that the BB ran a hidden story on Armitage sentencing after the planet covered it for two days? Love it