PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

ADD 1 NOV. 21, 2011

Lothrop Win Holds Up in Recount

This just in from city clerk Linda Tyer: Jonathan Lothrop‘s six-vote win over Joe Breault in the Ward 5 race has stood, as THE PLANET predicted, and J-Lo is now officially re-elected. In the recount, Lothrop picked up one vote to win by seven.

The 5a recount matched perfectly with the city’s records. Lothrop picked up one vote in 5b, where there were four ballots removed from the official total. Tyer explained these were absentee ballots that were counted twice due to a processing error by the electoral warden in Ward 5. When these ballots were removed from the total, Lothrop lost one vote from his initial total, Breault lost two, and writer-ins lost one, for a net gain of one for J-Lo.

Tyer said the process went smoothly (a little over two hours) and described the atmosphere as “collegial.” The two candidates each had two observers, and there were 10 members of the public on hand to watch the recount.

Congratulations to Jonathan Lothrop for his victory.


(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, NOV. 21, 2011) — Readers of this website called it. We forced the BB into a semblance of a counterfeit of a facsimile of civic responsibility.

BB’s Coverage of Armitage Sentencing Came Five Days After the Event — An Eternity in the News Cycle

When a federal court judge sentenced Michael “1,000 Jobs” Armitage to five years and a $6 million fine, we had the story. In fact, we had the pre-sentencing story.

We are not a newspaper, let alone the sole daily in the county seat. We do not possess a a bullpen of reporters. We do, however, know when a story MUST be covered because of its local relevance. Thus, we provided coverage of the convicted swindler that Mayor Gerry Doyle brought to town and embraced in the late 90s. Michael Armitage talked the pants off of the city and federal treasury, bilking local taxpayers out of millions.

The Boring Broadsheet couldn’t say enough about Armitage, EV Worldwide, and the “1,000 jobs” that were coming to Pittsfield. When the deal went south, so did the BB’s coverage. The GOBs found it too embarrassing, apparently, and executive editor Tim Farkas declined to let his dwindling number of readers know. Fortunately for We the People, THE PLANET came to the rescue with our coverage. It led to a prediction that we would embarrass the BB — force them — to put in a mention of Armitage.

Sure enough, on Saturday, the BB ran a narrow, one-column, page one story. It did’t reveal anything new. It simply rehashed what THE PLANET and Mass Live websites already covered. We did enjoy, however, that in this case, we kept them if not honest then at least not out-and-out distrustful.

We are a website, run by a an old-fashioned journalist-crusader and maintained by a tiny handful of techies. We have no employees but we do maintain The Secret Squadron — a vast network of connections, spies, gumshoes, Z-Agents, informants, plants, and resistance fighters who want to see Truth, Justice, and The American Way prevail in a town where the game has long been fixed and the dice loaded in the house’s favor.


Ward 5 Recount Today; PLANET Predicts Lothrop Win will Stand

As you read this, the Ward 5 recount is likely under way. THE PLANET repeats our prediction from last week: The recount that will begin at 10 a.m. this morning and last about three to four hours in Ward 5 will not change the result. Challenger Joe Breault will not find seven votes needed to overturn the victory of Jonathan Lothrop. Let’s agree, though, with Breault’s decision to ask for a recount. Seven votes sounds like an easy amount, but with Pittsfield’s electoral process proven to be accurate (see last year’s Ruberto-Bianchi recount), it’s a large amount to find in one ward.

Six votes is close enough to justify the action, however, and we agree with Breault on giving it a go. A reversal is not an impossibility. If the verdict stays the same, it will, for the second time in two election cycles, prove the accuracy and integrity of the city’ voting procedures.

Now if only a mad scientist can figure out a way to boost turnout. The 42% who voted on Nov. 8 are 8%+1 votes short of making the results morally legitimate.


Law Enforcement is One Thing, White-Walled Thuggery is Another

As the Occupy Wall Street movements across the country have shown, all it takes is a few zealots to give a city police force a bad rap. It’s no secret that these para-military outfits draw a disproportionate share of the phony tough and the crazy brave, enough, anyhow, to show that not everyone who qualifies to carry a badge has earned the moral right to do so, based on the white-walled behavior of a few thugs.

Check this example from Albuquerque, N.M., reported by AP:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Two Albuquerque police officers were fired Wednesday following the release of unedited video that showed them apparently doing a celebratory belly bump after one officer kicked a suspect in the head more than a dozen times.

Officers John Doyle and Robert Woolever both were issued termination letters, a police department statement said.

Police gave the parking garage surveillance video to the Albuquerque Journal ( ) on Tuesday in response to a public records request from the newspaper. The release comes amid recent calls for a Justice Department probe of the city’s police department, which has faced criticism for 20 officer-involved shootings and other questionable behavior among officers.

The behavior of a police force reflects the chief, up or down. It calls to mind that with an acting police chief in Pittsfield and a new mayor coming in, don’t be surprised if there are changes at the top. Thuggish behavior from cops can NEVER be accepted or justified. Taxpayers deserve the finest in law enforcement, which is one based on morals and ethics.

THE PLANET has heard from various sources an interesting melodrama that may be in the making, one that would shake up the county sheriff”s office and the Pittsfield Police Department. We don’t know how much of the powder is dry in this story, but we’ll be poking around.

Also, speaking of the police, my good friends on the Pittsfield Police force had their ball over the weekend, on Saturday. According to our spies, a splendid time was had by most all.

One of the highlights of the event was the announcement of the PPD’s Mark Stroud, who wanted the assembled to make sure that Dan Valenti knows that … Modesty forbids us to complete thought. We will add that many years ago, Stroud took a composition class from Prof. Valenti.


$82 Million: The True Cost to Taxpayers for Running Pittsfield Public Schools

Ah, education: Time and time again throughout this past election season, we heard candidates mindlessly parroting some version of a dead cliche. How many times did you hear a candidate talk about education and pledge his or her support of public education and talk of the “need to fund education adequately” … as if Pittsfield taxpayers aren’t doing their fair share.

It commonly assumed that half the roughly $130 million budget in the city of Pittsfield gets eaten up by the schools. That’s fiction. The total is much higher than that, owning to the fakery of how they present the school budget.

The Pittsfield school budget is submitted separately from the municipal budget. All of the costs taxpayers spend for healthcare for employees in the city’s largest department never show up in the school financial sheets. The city lists them on their side. The school take from the taxpayers’ pockets is further disguised by placing the entire cost of running a bus company — what the schools do, in effect, to transport children — on the city’s ledger sheets.

According to state figures, the true cost of running the failing Pittsfield public schools is $82 million. In other words, more than two-thirds of every dime the taxpayers shell out to run the city goes to the school department, which pays its teachers a compensation of nearly $70,000 a year (salary + benefits for 181 days of work). This is the same school department that in the most recently completed school year lost more than $3 million to school choice.

So the next time anyone wants to tell you taxpayers aren’t spending enough on the schools, tell them the cost is $82 million in Pittsfield — two out of every three dollars in the municipal budget.






  1. Rivetor
    November 21, 2011 at 7:51 am #

    Yes Ive maintained that too about the schools. And when I do my school department friends (neighbor in the admin.) tell me Im wrong. No I’m not, and thanks planet for publishing this. Full cost, true cost, is the school depart. budget plus health insurance costs plus bus costs. $82 m. For what we get its highway robbery.

  2. deb S
    November 21, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    I feel the problem with the school dept. is too many of them are sitting on first Street in the Adm. Building (Mercer School). We need to start cleaning from the top. Just my thought.

    • danvalenti
      November 21, 2011 at 10:00 am #

      deb S
      We agree. The administration has a top-heavy top heaviness. We shall be detailing how top heavy tomorrow. Thank you for your post.

  3. Dave
    November 21, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    There are so many things wrong with this picture.

    Please let me throw in another item that might be of interest and shows just how far out of wack things are with Pittsfield.

    Late this summer, the City of Pittsfield solicited quotations from design firms to produce documents to place a new roof on the Mercer School Administration Building.

    The contract was awarded to an out of town firm. There are several local architectural firms with the experience necessary to complete this project. So much for helping the local guys.

  4. Dave
    November 21, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    To add to the above. There is a program currently being administered by Mass School Building Authority called the Green Repair Program. Essentially the State will reimburse school systems about half the cost of new windows, boilers or roofs if the project is run through this program. The criteria is that the new windows or roof has to be designed to the new stretch energy code.

    Mercer School Roof could have been done under this program and cost the city a lot less money.

    • danvalenti
      November 21, 2011 at 10:02 am #

      Excellent point. It assumes, though, that the school department is interested in being responsibly for taxpayers’ money. For too long, the school department has used education (“the children”) as the excuse to pick the taxpayers’ pockets clean. There is little accountability except for how they fudge tests scores to create the illusion of progress.

      • JTax
        November 21, 2011 at 11:26 am #

        They really do fudge test scores. “Jake Eberwein” and crew are as slippery and crooked as they come. The man’s a meglomaniac, too.
        Incidentally, the JRC is joke: half a million dollars out of the budget to ensure Howard Eberwein a job. (He was run out of his last job for allegedly, presumably, so-the-water-cooler-scuttlebutt goes chasing a gal co-worker around a desk, if you know what I mean.)

      • Scott
        November 21, 2011 at 6:22 pm #

        Their response to a declining student student population was to throw money into advertising. Do you know how much it cost to put up an ad on a bill board so I can see it when I’m driving out of town to bring my kid to the private school he attends? (here’s a hint a lot.) Who’s idea was that? Yeah it seems like it makes sense from a business point of view business is slow so you invest in advertising to drive business and reach potential customers but there’s more to it when it comes to education seriously I’m not making this up.

    • dusty
      November 21, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

      it might be harder to add kickback pork into the project if you go through this program

      Oh no, I am not suggesting anything like that could happen in Pittsfield but maybe somewhere in a land far far away

      Kansas perhaps

  5. ambrose
    November 21, 2011 at 11:34 am #

    Just a note – Trish Farley Big Mac is responsible for $12,000. of the $3,000,000 exodus – she made the news again on WBEC all morning for hitting the ground running as she voted for casinos (as Gov DV Pat instructed) and against whorehouses. Your feet gotta be movin when you make those tough votes

    • danvalenti
      November 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

      You said it. Looks like we The People got another Profiles in Courage to carry water for the Big Boys.

  6. Ron Kitterman
    November 21, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

    Jonathan Lothrop widened his lead by 1 more vote in the recount in 5. Congratulations JLo…

  7. tito
    November 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    Two critical points in the Ward 5 campaign that came to bite Joe in the pants. One was the zinger at the end of the 5 debate, where Lothrop revealed Joes affinity for a strip club. The other wasn’t as telling, but during an interview Joe said he didn’t use a cell phone nor was computer saavy. A land line councilor? You gave him the election on a silver platter with that statement. He was beatable and was let off the hook.

    • danvalenti
      November 21, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

      Yes, and we told J-Lo we thought his strip club revelation was a great issue for him and beautifully employed, as you mentioned. Also, a land-line councilor in this day of George Jetson smart phones won’t cut it. Great comments.

  8. tito
    November 21, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    Sherman for Council Prez!

  9. route66
    November 21, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

    Dan, A long time reader and admirer, I can”t help but chuckle at the image that you attempt to create of yourself, “old fashioned journalist- crusader fighting for truth, justice and the American way.’ …with a vast network of spies, gumshoes, yadda, yadda.” What happened to your cape? Where did you leave Lois?

    You happen to be a knowledgible, talented,but acid-tongued writer with several books to your credit, your own agenda, and your own GOB network of crackpots,weirdo’s and even a few normals, who wait for your daily column as if it were the mail so they can rant against today’s topics as if their very life depended
    on it, searching for the bogeyman behind every tree.

    Some of the comments frankly scare me. They would obviously follow you through the jungles of Guadal Canal and Bataan,awaiting your next order.

    Keep up the good work, your website is informative and important
    but you have an obligation to harness your army of admirers before someone says or does something that can’t be taken back
    and even Super V can’t bail them out

    • danvalenti
      November 21, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

      ROUTE 66
      Well, as you point out, the Superman reference “truth, justice, and the American Way,” is there for chuckles. The same hold true, I presume, for your moniker “Route 66,” as a tribute to Buzz, Todd, and that ’62 Corvette. Can’t agree on your assessment that I have a GOb network or an agenda — at least not as I understand those terms. I appreciate your input, but I disagree with your view of the commentators to this site.

  10. beezer
    November 21, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    @ route66…give us an example.

    • danvalenti
      November 21, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

      Yes, Rt. 66, with BEEZER I ask for a specific example of a comment that worries you.

      • route66
        November 21, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

        Glad you asked, Dan. How anout JTax comment at 11:26AM,
        about JE. Does he or she even know or care that JE has a truly wonderful wife and 5 beautiful children whom all can read. Does this irresponsible moron realize that’s hurtful, as well as idiotic. Is he or she in the school dept.? Has he seen JE chasing women? Does he know that his father is the accused skirt chaser and his nickname is NOT JAKE!
        That’s one, want more?

        • danvalenti
          November 21, 2011 at 4:54 pm #

          Yes, I want more.

  11. tito
    November 21, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    @66=……mispellings…. commas in the wrong place…… sentence structure not defined…”admires the Planet”, then says he has an acid tongue…make up your mind. Lets see one example of unlawful behavior. This isn’t the Berkshire Seagull topix. Now that is, ridiculous! And what the heck is a bogeyman?

    • route66
      November 21, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

      tito, If you’re going to start grading papers, you’re going to be a very busy Tito.
      Yes, bogeyman. Look it up!

  12. Hearse Driver
    November 21, 2011 at 3:43 pm #

    how about where valenti clearly stated on this very site that he does not endorse candidates and then a week or so later he endorses…

    November 21, 2011 at 4:12 pm #


    Comments scare you? Not a lover of free speech?
    Your thought process scares me. Would you be more comfortable if opinions were censored?
    DV’s site puts a lot of info out there. You, 66, may not like it. You should try out discuss (or whatever its called) over at the BB’s site. They allow for no opinions that disagree with their progressive America hating ideals.
    As for “acid tongues” have you read a BB editorial in the last five years?
    Planet puts out a good product. Is he always correct? No. I agree 75% of the time, 25% of the time I believe DV to be wrong in his opinions. But that’s just MY opinion. See 66, we can agree to disagree.
    Why do you, 66, fear comments you don’t agree with? What is your basis for your fear as you put it? Provide examples please.

  14. Browning
    November 21, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    66 and hease Driver, you make me laugh. Hearse, you are incorrect in your statement. Flat out. 66: you aren’t making yourself clear except that you put out a claim about the audience of this website but don’t back it up with examples. You are probably a gob who’s been on the frying end of the coverage!

  15. Silence Dogood
    November 21, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    There truly is an education empire in Pittsfield. I hope the school committee looks at the top heavy school dept.
    let’s get rid of these do nothing jobs

  16. tito
    November 21, 2011 at 5:43 pm #

    We know what the bogeyman is, one over par…but the Planet for one thing doesn’t scare children.

  17. Scott
    November 21, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

    Route 66 here’s an idea don’t read it very simple, duh.

  18. Ray Ovac
    November 21, 2011 at 6:56 pm #

    In all this talk about Pittsfield’s overblown school budget, why no mention of the power of the local teacher’s union and of just how much money in member union dues gets transmitted to the election campaigns of Democrats?

    • danvalenti
      November 21, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

      RAY O
      THE PLANET has discussed the nefarious influence the teachers’ unions have over the educational and political process. The Democrats are largely wholly owned by the teachers unions. The unions bleat for more money, and the politicians give it. It’s for “the children.” THE PLANET, by the way, speaks as a card carrying member of the National Education Association, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, and the Massachusetts Council on Community Colleges. They force me to join as part of my contract with the state for doing the professor thing at BCC. This is America, after all, and I have no choice.

      • Scott
        November 22, 2011 at 5:08 am #

        you do have a choice it’s just one that has consequences and one that does not if you play ball that’s exactly what America has become.

  19. Molly
    November 21, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

    In 1990, when my daughter was just entering Middle School, I attended “parent’s night” at Reid Middle School. The first presentation was from a teacher who told us that she will be our children’s Math teacher, that she’s never taught Math before, and in fact, she’s really never been good at Math — she usually teaches English, but because of the budget cuts, this is necessary and she hopes that she can find a way for her, and our children, to succeed. OMG!!! The next class was Science and the Science teacher told us that there is no money for books, so our children will not have a Science book this year. But not to worry because he is very good at writing important points on the blackboard, thus allowing our children to take notes. OMG!!Each class had a similar story (nightmare).

    At the end of the night, I talked with the Principal (who at that time was Doug McNally) because of the great concern I had with all of this and especially Math and Science (which my daughter had excelled in). He told me not to worry too much and that for those students who had excelled in Math, he is putting them into a separate advanced class to be taught by him. As for the remainder of the classes, he can only try to meet these financial challenges as best as he can.

    I was LIVID!!!! Yes, the citizens of Pittsfield had sent a clear, loud vote that we wanted the WASTE of our money that was rampant in our school system, cleaned up. Instead, the GOBs pulled this kind of crap and scared the living bejesus out of all the parents. Meanwhile, they still had way too many secretaries doing nothing but talking to friends on the phone, they still had too many Administrators, from low-level to Assistant to the Assistant Superintendant, etc., and all of the waste was still rampant. They were going to “show us” and they sure did! And of course, at the next vote the highly increased school budget was passed without a problem (for the life of me, I can’t remember why we were voting on the School Budget… Was it Prop. 2 1/2? I can’t remember). And ever since then, no one has really challenged the School Dept. budget as “we learned our lesson” when we did!

    I will never forget that! The voters really had no say at all! And since we thought we did, we were shown, in no uncertain terms, that we didn’t at all – at the expense of our children’s education.

    Since the BB has never printed out what the actual line-item school budget looks like, most people don’t know. But one of our papers then (The Pittsfield Gazette?) did print it and I looked at it closely. Each and every department, in each separate school, had their own Supplies Budget and spent it as they saw fit. So for instance, the English Dept. at Taconic has its own budget and does its own ordering of supplies, to the tune of a LOT of money! I have approached every Mayor and every School Committee since 1990 and asked them to please do as any successful business does and combine the purchases of school supplies so that you can get better prices by buying in large quantities. And in fact, to please look into joining with other area school systems to get even more discounts. No one has even had the decency to look into doing this. I understand that it sounds like “small potatoes”, but I assure you, it is “BIG potatoes”!

    Why does Pittsfield continue electing the same people to the School Committee time and time again when their performance is so poor? I’d really like to see the media start jumping down the throat of our School Committee and start reporting to we, the people, of the results of their investigations. I look forward to The Planet’s upcoming story on this and reading what you have to say, Dan.

    • dusty
      November 22, 2011 at 2:28 am #

      It would take a very brave mayor, but new and totally independent eyes should do an in depth audit of the school department.

      It would be a great initial statement by the new administration that things are going to be looked at more closely and that the city leaders need to do right by the taxpayers.

    • Scott
      November 22, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

      Well Molly does your kid have a book this year? I hope those big bill boards didn’t take up all the extra cash that could have been used.

    • Joe Pinhead
      November 22, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

      I really do enjoy reading your input and couldn’t agree more. I had similar experiences when my daughter was in school as well.
      Dan, when in discussion with your webmaster please ask if it would be possible for a “like” button. This would give the reader the chance to show support for another’s comments. Great work on the site 66 and Hearse, please don’t be afraid of the open exchange of ideas and ideals it is what makes this country great.

  20. tito
    November 22, 2011 at 4:26 am #

    Lets get this straight….eighty four votes didn’t register and when recounted the result was a one vote swing to J=Low?

    • Tom Sakshaug
      November 22, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

      I was an observer for JLo. Here’s the deal:
      The eighty-four were blanks and write-ins. The numbers from the ballots that were properly, and even barely properly, marked were correctly counted by the machines. Even a checkmark that was partly withing the oval counted. The discrepancy was from absentee ballots that got hung up and were counted twice: two for Breault, one for JLo, one for a write-in.
      The 84 blanks and write-ins did not change much: there is one less write-in. They still don’t count for either candidate. Some folks just don’t vote in every race.

  21. Rivetor
    November 22, 2011 at 7:03 am #

    Great letter and comments by Molly. As Planet writes its not a problem of money in school dept its a problem of lack of leadership and corruption. Too much waste too much idleness and the taxpayers are suckers.

    • dusty
      November 22, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

      maybe a tad of nepotism going on as well

      • Scott
        November 22, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

        That’e exactly why I went out of my way to chose any candidate but “Alf”. My kids don’t even go to the public schools here but my money still goes towards it.

  22. tito
    November 23, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    Thank you to Tom Shackelford for clearing up the $84 question. I still think it was shady and J B gave him the election. As fart as J Low goes, I do not like him, and never will.

    • Tom Sakshaug
      November 24, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

      Wow. Shackelford? Shady? People vote. The votes get counted. It comes out in a way you don’t agree with so it’s rigged. Gimme a break.

  23. Kim
    November 24, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    The PPD leaves much to be desired. They are so worried about looking bad, they make mistakes. They underestimate the general public. Shame, shame. We the people know our rights, and we know when they are violated. And trying to sweep things under the rug doesn’t make them go away. Eventually, someone will trip over that huge lump in the carpeting….
    One more thing. Why are there so many cops on North St during the construction? They are more interested in their cell phones, chatting with the workers, and eating snacks, that they forget to direct the traffic, or let people cross. Glad my tax dollars are working for me!