PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, NOV. 16, 2011) — For whatever reason, my Right Honorable Good Friends councilors John Krol and Jonathan Lothrop have drawn the ire and the fire of many Dan Bianchi, Melissa Mazzeo, and “Alternate” supporters. It’s an interesting phenomenon to observe, and it appears that these two figures have assumed a symbolic role for those who, generally, have been opposed to the Ruberto Administration, specifically, and the more nebulous (but nonetheless evident) GOB bunch.

Symbolic Opposition

“The Incident at Mazzeo’s” involved all of the emotion and drama of that symbolic opposition. Was Melissa Mazzeo’s husband, Tony, was right or wrong to call out Krol, Lothrop, and Barry “I’m Not Talking to You” Clairmont (council at-large-elect and a key man in both Ruberto’s and Krol’s successful bids for office in 2009)? How you answer will say much about your view and philosophy of municipal government in this transition time from one administration to the next.

Some have pointed out that Tony M’s calling out of Krol, Lothrop, and Clairmont was long overdue. They point to the “snarky” attitudes of the two current councilors during meetings and the alleged disrespect shown during meetings to Mellissa. Others have said that Melissa is a grown woman, a “big girl,” and that she should be able to handle these matters on her own. THE PLANET even heard from a woman (former office holder who didn’t want her name used) who said Tony’s action “set back the cause of women” for reinforcing the view that without a “big, strong man,” a woman is helpless.

THE PLANET will not try to resolve this, except to say that council meetings should be rock ’em, sock ’em when necessary, with the debate, deliberation, and discussion as free-handed as possible, pushing collegiality to the bursting point. We don’t read as much into the body language of Krol, Lothrop, or any other councilor as some evidently do (the exception is when Uncle Gerry Lee appears to be in a cross between confusion and a coma).

We say this, because THE PLANET naively still believes that all of the public’s business should be done in open session. We know that is not the case, and it’s one of the things we hope changes with the new council and mayor. Transparency. Dan Bianchi made that a key issue in the campaign. People will hold him to that standard, as well as my Right Honorable Good Friends on the council.

‘The Incident’, Let Us Hope, Proves Cathartic for the new Government

That’s a lot to get through, therefore, realizing the emotions in play during The Incident. THE PLANET has known most of the players involved in The Incident for years. Not having been at the scene to personally witness The Incident, we cannot pronounce definitively on the “right” and “wrong” of it. However, based on what we know of the players, plus eyewitness reports from people we respect such as Kevin Sherman, a Pittsfield cop, and others, the truth likely lies somewhere in between the two most extreme versions.

Tony Mazzeo obviously didn’t have to manufacture the emotion that went into his stance on behalf of his wife. He acted in a genuine fashion, in such a fashion that paint was peeling off the sides of nearby cars when he launched into his “education” session with Krol, Lothrop, and Clairmont. That being said, THE PLANET thought it was classy for “the opposition” to stop by to congratulate Bianchi and Melissa on their victories. That’s not only good politics, it’s good collegiality and sends the right message about how the players in the new government will work together in 2012.

THE PLANET has been around a lot of election nights. We have seen tears of joy and fist fights. Emotions run high, and there is always alcohol involved in victory parties and defeat post mortums. It can be an explosive mix. All in all, The Incident ended the way it should, with Tony Mazzeo buying everyone a round inside the restaurant.

We don’t know Clairmont, but we’ve known Tony, Krol, and Lothrop for years. Tony brings passion into his activities. It’s certainly the way he runs his restaurant. Krol and Lothrop bring more sang froid, and they approach public life in a more distanced fashion. THE PLANET has given these two councilors grief over the years and acknowledged them for their wise actions. We  have maintained a working relationship with them and they with us. That’s everything in our line of work. Krol, Lothrop, and reps of their ilk realize what Clairmont has yet to learn: You can’t beat the press, because we get the last say.

A year hence, when we look back at Year 1 of the Bianchi Administration, we shall likely be observing the anniversary of The Incident and noting its cathartic effect on not only the players involved but the city itself. In sum, it’s probably probably good that it happened, that it happened the way it did, that it ended in a collegial fashion, and that the parties (at least as far as we can determine) shook hands with a pledge to put it behind.

All’s well that ends well. For now, at least.


Who Will Make the Next and Best Council President? Kevin Sherman, C’mon Down!

One of the first orders of business for the new council will be the election of a new council president. If Lothrop survives his recount, he will run against Kevin Sherman. Regardless of the outcome of the recount, THE PLANET endorses Sherman as council president, with or without Lothrop as part of the Eleven.  Hear us out:

(1) Though there have been many council presidents from the wards (Tom Hickey, Rick Scapin, Gerry Doyle, Joe Ryan, etc)., the position best suits an at-large rep. The president cannot routinely debate items. His or her job is to run productive, effective meetings. An at-large councilor such as Lothrop best serves in direct debate to represent the citizens of two specific precincts, whose needs will be different from any other two precincts. Taking a ward councilor out of the debate short changes the people in that ward. An at -large rep is not limited in that fashion. He or she has a wider representative position, with three at-large colleagues serving city wide.

(2) Sherman will be the most senior at-large member of the council. For the past two years, he has chaired the most important council subcommittee (economic development).

(3) Sherman has a skill set well suited for the president’s role. He has a calm, measured, reasoned approach to deliberation. He’s approachable and friendly. He works well with people. These are the best predictors of fairness, which a council president needs. Hickey did a great job with this, allowing “opposition” views (especially from the floor during open mic) lots of leeway. Gerry Lee, current prez, runs a far-less-than-stellar meeting in this respect. Sherman would be a seven-grade improvement.

(4) Sherman has a solid working relationship with city clerk Linda Tyer. This relationship (president and clerk) tends to be overlooked and underrated, but its value in producing good meetings cannot be overstated.

(5) Sherman has strong institutional knowledge that can provide members and the public with clarity and direction.

(6) Sherman can serve as a mentor to new councilors. This will go a long way to keeping the transition from one government to the other a smooth one (speaking of which, in a conversation THE PLANET had with Mayor Ruberto, Bianchi can count on full cooperation from the administration to bring him up to speed on corner-office business. Ruberto is a man of his word on such matters, and citizens should take comfort in this pledge of cooperation).

(7) Sherman will have the support of at least five colleagues, but, as he has told THE PLANET in the past, he believes “the city is bigger than all of us.” This is our guess, since we don’t know, but we think Sherman would not pursue the presidency if he thought it would lead to a knock-down battle in inauguration day, when the matter will be decided.

(8) Sherman is getting better at taking a shot, although he is human in that regard. THE PLANET feels he has a tough enough bark to take a licking and keep on ticking. We do know he takes criticism well and intelligently, which means he actually listens to opposing points of view. That may, in fact, be the single most important skill for a council president.

(9) Finally, Sherman appears to be decisive enough. The president doesn’t chair meetings to make friends. He or she chairs to run efficient, fair meetings. He must be like a trial judge, allowing both sides to make their case. When he needs to be, though, he must rule. He must not be afraid.

In short, THE PLANET recommends Kevin Sherman as council president because …

He’s ready for the job.


Demeter Out, Roberts In … Please, for the Sake of We The People

With that, THE PLANET makes a pitch for the new council to adopt new rules of order. We recommend they ditch Demeter’s rules in favor of Roberts’ rules. We won’t go through an education session here (though we may soon). Let us simply say that Roberts allows much more participation from the floor. This would give people a better opportunity to participate in meetings other than the current three-minutes of open mic time. Roberts isn’t perfect, but it represents an improvement over Demeter.

THE PLANET recommends that councilors-elect begin a comparison between the two sets of rules. Approached with an open mind, we think they will agree with our view.






  1. Shakes His Head
    November 16, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    I’d like to point out that the current administration lacks the professionalism to bring complete items to the Council. As a professional that has presented in hundreds (if not thousands) of meeting before elected bodies and the public, I find it abhorrent that the executive team at the city operates in such a slipshod manner. I hope it is laziness, but I actually think it borders incompetence.

    Robert’s rules are the more popular method for running a meeting, but each body can choose how to keep order.

    • Shakes His Head
      November 16, 2011 at 9:55 am #


  2. Eric Vincelette
    November 16, 2011 at 9:57 am #

    I know the Lenox Selectman use Robert’s Rules of Order and they certainly don’t lack Public Input during Public Input session…The Rules themselves seem to make for a smoothly run meeting with the right person as Chair or President….

  3. Still wondering
    November 16, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    Tempest in a teapot (or parking lot), Dan.

  4. X-Ray I's
    November 16, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    As someone who also has participated and run many many public meetings, I prefer Demters because it allows the chair to exercise more control over meetings. Would also disagree with Shakes on the administration. Mayor Ruberto has presented to the council in a thoroughly professional and upright manner. Mayor-elect Bianchi has a tough act to follow: 8 years of growth and of action, particularly downtown.

    • Jim Gleason
      November 16, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

      The only being ever purported to have had x-ray eyes was Superman. Are we to take from your handle that you think you’re said entity? If so I agree with Hilly Billy, it must be krol using this name because he’s the only one with an ego big enough to assume such a handle. I think he posts under various names on here, none of them his own, because he doesn’t have the guts to speak using his name. C’mon man.

    • Dave
      November 16, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

      Eight years of ignoring city problems.

      There is far more to the City of Pittsfield than downtown.

      We have had numerous scandals within the city involving the mayor, the police, fire and public works departments.

      Rampant intimidation of those not in step.

      Crime has escalated.

      A toxic mess left by GE that has been sytematically and deliberately ignored.

      Creation of jobs is virtually non existant.

      Take off your GOB rose colored glasses.

      Getting rid of the present administration is a giant step forward.

  5. Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
    November 16, 2011 at 11:01 am #

    Stop it Councilor Krol…we know its you..

  6. Shakes His Head
    November 16, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    How many items have been brought back for ‘lack of information’? Even Marchetti has admitted to the paper that he couldn’t vote one way or another because he didn’t know enough about the item to make an informed decision.

    Ultimately, the rules of order dont matter if the Chair is asleep.

  7. Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
    November 16, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    @ X Ray…how many times has Mayor Rubero walked out before having to face questions from some of the Councilors? Is this what you consider professional?

  8. Ray Ovac
    November 16, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    In Saturday’s BB, Alan Chartock says “the cowardly anonymous bloggers have done their best to bloody” Mayor James Ruberto. But what has Ruberto ever done to offset detractors’ arguments that he’s incompetent and inept as a city executive? Other than ducking the issue, for example, what did Ruberto do regarding illegal anabolic steroids use by city employees in PPD? Has the city instituted a mandatory drug testing policy for public employees? Did Ruberto ever get in GE’s face about cleaning up Silver Lake or Hill 78? Did Ruberto ever attempt to reopen the Consent Decree? What’s Ruberto ever done to cut city spending and to lower taxes? Did Ruberto ever once issue a public statement about the embezzlement of funds from the City Water Dept? What did Ruberto do about the cop who had sex with a rape victim whose attack he was investigating? If bloggers “have done their best to bloody” Ruperto, it’s only because Ruperto has done nothing to counter the public impression that he’s never really been up to the responsibilities of the job. Hopefully, Dan Bianchi will change all that.

    • Joe Pinhead
      November 16, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

      Could it be possible that Alan was referring to the editorial page of the bb? I never see a name associated with the daily editorial. If I read it online than doesn’t that make it done by some nameless, faceless, blogging coward?

      • Gene
        November 17, 2011 at 6:20 am #

        Thank you Joe P for bringing up a long, sore point with me. The BB never puts a name to its editorials. In this day and age with that being a sore spot with blogging and comments thats right on. The bb is losing circulation fast. I know because we canceled ours last year, don’t miss it a bit. We do visit this site daily, though.

  9. Ray Ovac
    November 16, 2011 at 11:24 am #

    Did Mayor Ruberto ever ask Gov. Patrick NOT to appoint ‘No-Show’ Chris Speranzo to a lifetime patronage appointment as Magistrate at the Central Berkshire District Court?

  10. Still wondering
    November 16, 2011 at 11:27 am #

    Don’t forget how Jimmy rigged the election of Trisha Blah-Blah.

  11. beezer
    November 16, 2011 at 11:31 am #

    @ Raykavict..Never ask a question you already know the answer to!

  12. Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
    November 16, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    @ DV…” That being said, THE PLANET thought it was classy for “the opposition” to stop by to congratulate Bianchi and Melissa on their victories. That’s not only good politics, it’s good collegiality and sends the right message about how the players in the new government will work together in 2012″….

    …I would have to respectfully disagree with you on this poiint DV..I don’t think they stopped by to congratulate the opposition but rather because it was the biggest party in town and the 3 amigos # 2 (Krolly, JLo, and Cat’s got his tounge CPA Barry) felt left out and realized that they might be on the outside looking in and are always looking to kiss up to those in power..
    They have no sense of really where they stand “on the streets” of Pittsfield. That they would continually marginalize Councilor Mazzeo and then show up at her families establishment, either shows that they are just too arrogant to care what anyone thinks of them or that they have no street smarts to know that quite a few people, are willing and able, and actually want to kick their little snarky butts

    • danvalenti
      November 16, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

      I wrote that since I can’t see into the hearts of others, and I can’t know their motivations (or even guess without more information). What you say could well be true. Not having enough info, I attributed good intentions.

  13. tito
    November 16, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    I can’t stand univited guests?

  14. tito
    November 16, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    …and uninvited guests are worse!

    • danvalenti
      November 16, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

      That’s true, but in the case of this type of winning, post-election celebration, such a gathering is usually open to the public and to other officials. Does anyone know: Did Marchetti show up at Bianchi’s party to deliver his congratulations in person?

      • Jim Gleason
        November 16, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

        I was there ’till 11 PM and he hadn’t up until that point.

        • Shakes His Head
          November 16, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

          I never saw him and I was there until about 11:30. He was likely throwing a hissy-fit at Berkshire Hills.

        • Jim Gleason
          November 16, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

          Sorry, hadn’t shown up until then. Geesh!

  15. Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
    November 16, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    @ DV…understood, I guess giving good intentions, however sometimes misguided, is the best policy, although, sometimes, after multiple infractions of good intentions, one must begin to seriously doubt the existence of those good intentions…My point being is that Councilor Krol, has been openly disrespectful of Councilor Mazzeo repeatedly and was outwardly supporting Peter M for Mayor, and has a known fued with Mayor Elect Bianchi and JLo has also just been plain rude to Melissa Mazz, and a HUGE Jimmy Ruberto puppet and for Silent Sam Barry, well he is a Ruberto Holdover, so….with all that being said, how long does the statute of good intention limitations apply??
    and No I don’t believe Peter showed up in person, according to what I saw at the party and my other sources who stayed later than me

    • danvalenti
      November 16, 2011 at 7:19 pm #

      The statue on good intentions, which basically means a generous (dare I say, “liberal”) portion of kid gloves, expires on Inauguration Day. Great question, my good friend!

  16. Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
    November 16, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    C’mon Man!

  17. tito
    November 16, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    @Dan..I wouldn’t have known if Winston Churchill had arrived. I was in a drunken stupor and kicken it with some homies.

  18. Steve Wade
    November 16, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    So its OK for Mr. Bianchi and Ms Mazzeo to have victory partys at the same place. Would you people be upset if Marchetti had won and had his party with Krol? Just asking.

    November 16, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

    Disrespected HER!!!!! Will you get off that bull. she is a councilor. She can handle her own. She doesn’t need any man sticking up for her. I guess Tony smoothed it over so time to move on.

    • Molly
      November 16, 2011 at 5:49 pm #


    November 16, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

    One other thing. All this so called disrespect happened at the council meetings as far as I know. So are some of you saying the men can not talk against or say anything to her that could seem disrespectful at a council meeting. She would even tell you that is bull

    • dusty
      November 17, 2011 at 2:26 am #

      I think Melissa can match words and wits with any of the councilors and then some. But don’t you think it is a tad immature and unprofessional to be rolling your eyes and making facial gestures during a meeting of public business? Melissa may be able to brush it off as she knows these people and understands their weakness but I am personally insulted as a taxpayer when my representative resorts to childish behavior at these meeting.

      and correct me if I am wrong…these councilors get pretty good health benefits paid for them by the taxpayers which is no small chunk of change

  21. Molly
    November 16, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    Appeared to me that she has always handled it just fine and didn’t need help at all dealing with them. Although I don’t know her personally, I know that I wouldn’t want to be treated with ‘kid gloves’ either.

    November 16, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

    Sounds like TM did the honorable thing. He spoke his mind, and acted like a gentleman after he said his piece.
    To those who say MM should not need a man to stand up for her, I say BS. Any MAN worth his title as a man, defends his wife.
    Yes it was public, should have been done in private. But all this PC crap does nothing but ruin values.
    The traditional family unit is important. Men stand up to those who attack their family members.
    As for the unnamed woman who says this incident “sets back the cause for women”, what world do you live in? Certainly men and women can perform tasks to the same level in politics.
    However, what type of man constantly acts with contempt toward his female counterpart? A weak one. It appears MM is the only person treated this way.
    That’s my view of it.
    Also, Pittsfield lost a great voice for the people by not electing JN to another term.

    • danvalenti
      November 16, 2011 at 7:44 pm #

      Agree: “Any MAN worth his title as a man defends his wife.” It’s not a matter of gender but one of family.

        November 16, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

        At least someone gets it. It is about respect and honor.
        I don’t care what public or private job a person holds.
        Someone(s) attack your family/friends, you stand up for yours.

  23. ShirleyKnutz
    November 16, 2011 at 7:17 pm #

    Dan when did you join the GOB. You do realize who Kevin S is related to? Pittsfield will never progress until all the family ties are out of the politics. By the way a good way to start is to put limits on how long “citizens aka family members aka GOB” can stay on city committees.

    • danvalenti
      November 16, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

      Kevin’s mom is a Del Gallo. Yes, I do realize the relationship.

  24. Joe Pinhead
    November 16, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

    I say Roberts’s rules of order. Roberts allows for much more meaningful dialog between the Council and the public. It would also vet out those not serious about the issue(s) they wish to address. Ex If I want to speak on an agenized item I currently can only do so during public comment period at the beginning of the council meeting. Under Roberts I would not be allowed to talk to that issue during the open mike but as that item was up for discussion. So If I wanted to speak on agenda item x and that item was called at 10 pm that’s when I would be allotted the time to do so. When it is relevant not when it’s convenient for the council.
    As far as the Mazzeo issue goes, I do believe that the characters involved (J Lo, Krol, And Claremont ) do treat Mrs. Mazzeo with contempt and refuse to give her the respect she deserves as a fellow councilor. However it is up to her to point that out to the voters and raise the issue in a campaign and have the voters pass judgment on the behavior. She could even bring her case straight to the people by exposing that behavior at the meeting and “dress them down” for the lack of respect they give to her and the people she represents. For her husband to pull them aside and threaten coheres or anything of the just shows that we still have bar room politics but the names and sides are changing. If Claremont decides he doesn’t like the way he is treated should he call Gerry Doyle to engage an intimidator?
    Nope that type of behavior cannot be condoned or accepted by any one and it isn’t chivalry either; it will be and has been discussed as just plain dysfunction.

    • Molly
      November 16, 2011 at 9:05 pm #

      Good point, Joe.

    • danvalenti
      November 17, 2011 at 6:26 am #

      Yes, that’s a huge advantage of Roberts over Demeter. Those addressing agenda items have the opportunity to make their point WHILE THE ISSUE IS ON THE FLOOR and not pre-meeting. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it’s an easy matter for the council to adopt the rule change. For the new council president, it would certainly set the right tone and send a clear message: We are going to run things in a new, better way for We The People.

  25. Dee
    November 16, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

    First of all, these men were in Tony’s “house.” Melissa has been on the council for almost two years now and has taken her share of abuse. While I fully well believe she can take care of herself, it is refreshing to me (as a woman) to see a man stand up for his wife. He didn’t wipe the parking lot with these guys, he just asked them to show some respect while they disagreed with her.

    BTW, if there was a strong council president, this would be a moot point. Hopefully when the next president is elected to the council he will be someone who can conduct the meetings appropriately. There are dept. heads who are openly hostile, rude and disrespectful to certain council members. This should not be allowed. Likewise lively debate is encouraged, but disrespect should be quashed before it gets to the point that a husband feels he has to defend his wife.

    November 16, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

    @ DEE-

    Right on. Well said.

  27. tito
    November 17, 2011 at 4:40 am #

    The rumor is Joe Breault might have a good shot at the recount, we’ll see.

    • Leona
      November 17, 2011 at 7:12 am #

      Why? Are his supporters less able to fill in the circles?

  28. Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
    November 17, 2011 at 7:25 am #

    @ Joe Pin..
    Great point on Roberts Rules
    @ nailed it

  29. rick
    November 17, 2011 at 8:33 am #

    the boys better wake up, melissa speaks for a lot of voters out there as top vote getter, we like what she is doing, and as her popularity grows and theirs wans they will most likely not get back in, from the looks of it lothrops voters have already told him his days are numbered. im sure someone will run against krol next election cycle. tony mazzeo did the right thing at the right time and if the dork brothers keep dissing melissa i think some other voters out their should bring it to their attention again,maybe in a more firmer way.

  30. Ray Ovac
    November 17, 2011 at 8:38 am #

    Joe Pinhead, in re your excellent suggestion concerning Robert’s Rules: What makes you think the Pittsfield City Council is actually interested in ANYTHING the public says? When has the Council EVER been interested? The only purpose for ‘open mike’ is to let the public let off steam. It’s during that portion of the meeting that city councilors are able to turn off their hearing aids or otherwise catch up on the day’s news (reading the BB, of course).

    • danvalenti
      November 17, 2011 at 9:00 am #

      That’s why we say the new council president should do well to fights for Roberts, convince his colleagues to ditch Demeters, and Let The People IN from the Cold.

  31. iwatchcouncilors
    November 17, 2011 at 8:49 am #

    If I ever find myself in a foxhole fighting for my life I want someone like Melissa there fighting alongside of me!

  32. beezer
    November 17, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

    @iwatch…….what, to negotiate?

  33. Hearse Driver
    November 17, 2011 at 6:22 pm #

    How come you did not report that Tony Mazzeo was drunk and could barely walk? Lots of things are said and done while one is drunk? would u like to comment on that??

    Melissa says she does her research and I’m glad that she spends alot of time checking into things. I also think she likes to grandstand for the tv cameras and there is alot more she could do before the meeting to get the information she needs.

    As far as Marchetti going to congratulate Bianchi in person, No he called him on the phone just as anyone in the last 10 elections has done. Excpet the councilor elect in ward 2, never called the last 2 times he lost an election.

    • Shakes His Head
      November 18, 2011 at 11:52 am #

      Tony wasn’t intoxicated. Props to Jimmy Ruberto, he showed up, unusual considering he usually scurries for the shadows anytime the lights are turned on.

    • Sam
      November 19, 2011 at 8:56 am #

      OK Pete White.

  34. Hearse Driver
    November 20, 2011 at 10:55 am #


    I am not Pete White….but i did vote for him.