By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, ELECTION DAY, NOV. 8, 2011) — As we get to put to bed another municipal election campaign, we present these final items for contemplation and “ommmmmm”-ing while you do your laundry.
BIANCHI WINS! PLANET CALLS IT FIRST — No chance of “Dewey Beats Truman” with this headline, folks. We’ve talked to everyone from Jimmy Ruberto and John Barrett to the retired senior citizens, from firemen to foragers, from cops to call girls. Tonight at 8:00:01 p.m., Dan Bianchi will be mayor-elect by virtue of a double-digit win over Peter Marchetti. All year, we kept telling everyone who asked, including both Bianchi and Marchetti, that THE PLANET would let the campaign itself determine our coverage and our call. We did that. Bianchi ran a smart, measured, and steadily effective campaign. Marchetti spit the bit from his first public comments in March to the final debates in November. We can’t recall a more amateurish campaign, especially given a man of Marchetti’s experience and connections. The drama will be in the council races.
THREE WILL BE A TEA LEAF — The Ward 3 contest between incumbent Paul Capitanio and challenger Jeff Ferrin will be an indication of … something. If Ferrin wins, it will indicate the depth of voter anger with the Establishment, the Vested Interest — in short, The Good Ol’s Boys. A Ferrin victory would be a astunning upset. If Capitanio wins, it will be the expected and that the last-minute lynch mob the Boys sent out to attack Ferrin scared enough people. The race in 3 is not, nor should any race ever be, about “he’s a good guy.” It’s about leadership, commitment to the ward, and determination to be an active representative.
Ferrin has attended nearly every PEDA meeting in two years. Capitanio has attended one. Ferrin has attended as many council meetings as the incumbent. Ferrin has spoken more at council meetings than his opponent. Ferrin answered every question and provide every relevant document about his previous employment with the city. In a two-hour meeting with THE PLANET, he walked us through and answered all of our questions, many of them hardballs under the chin, to our satisfaction. He is open, transparent, active, engaged, and dynamic — everything the somnolent and sleep Paul Capitanio is not. Ferrin deserves this seat. No one has campaigned harder or with more purpose. Let’s be honest. Cappy has one qualification for office: He owns the East Side Cafe. That might be enough. And by the way, he IS a good guy.
PALMING OFF THE PALM CARDS — The existence of the “slate” palm card has been proven. WHO printed the card, in what quantity, and via what distribution method (if any) are not known. There are two theories floating about. A Marchetti supporter claims they are the brainchild of Pam Malumphy directing Melissa Mazzeo — the “Pam’s Revenge Theory.” The other side claims the card was produced by the GOB to promote the Sherman-Clairmont-Caccamo-Cotton, the so-called SC3 slate. Circumstantial evidence includes the fact that the Boring Broadsheet endorsed exactly this slate and rumors — only that — from the press room at the BB that the cards originated there. The cards are cheaply produced, obviously designed as throwaways meant to be used today. If any readers of this website are handed palm cards today, we’d appreciate hearing about it.
LOTS TURNS ON TURNOUT — THE PLANET sees that City Clerk Linda Tyer agrees with our projected turnout of mid-40 percent. If anything, we think turnout will push 50%. Gee, you don’t think city hall monitors this site, do ya? Our final tally for the mayor’s race: Dan Bianchi 7,245 … Peter Marchetti 5,747 … although we will not be surprised to see Bianchi winning by a bigger margin, especially if turnout nears, reaches, or tops the coveted 50% mark (which gives a stamp of legitimacy to any election).
THE PLANET kept it that close for Marchetti because of the work the GOB has done behind the scenes, particularly the efforts of Gerry Doyle and (much deeper out of sight) Angelo Stracuzzi, including the alleged harassment of Bianchi supporters. That being said, the support of Doyle and Stracuzzi likely takes more votes away than it brings in, particularly for those who know of the involvement of the Dynamic Duo in the Marchetti effort. Of course, no one in the Marchetti camp wants its known that the Dynamic Duo are plugging for him. Marchetti prefers to keep that knowledge where sunlight doesn’t shine. The lower the turnout, the more it favors Marchetti. Any number over 40 percent will assure Bianchi’s win.
SCHOOL COMMITTEE UP FOR GRABS, ALSO — The school committee controls 2/3 of Pittsfield $130 million budget. Its members are volunteers. They don’t get paid $8,000 to $10,000 like the city council does, an indication of the odd way Pittsfield thinks about this most important of boards. School committee elections are all but ignored, and it leads THE PLANET to wonder: Upon what basis do people cast votes? The answer: rarely do they vote on issues or policies. They either vote on recommendation, on the familiarity of the last names, on a relationship with a candidate or candidates, or from some other less-than-rational pocket of information. With that, THE PLANET shares our thoughts. The School Committee election is a game of musical chairs. There are six chairs and seven candidates. One will be left standing when the music stops.
The candidates for School Committee are Terry Kinnas, Alf Barbalunga, Kathy Amuso, Kathy Yon, Dan Elias, Jim Conant, and Jon King. THE PLANET endorses Kinnas and everyone else whose name is not Conant. The former is by far the best candidate to emerge for this board in some time. The latter helped the GOBs put the fix in for Jim Bouton and Company to keep them out of Beloved Wahconah Park.
ALso, THE PLANET is tired of hearing “we must fund education,” as if we do not. The Pittsfield School Department has turned into an underperforming budget buster that punishes its best talent and rewards failure, mediocrity, and the burn-outs of tenure. That’s not good enough. The question with the schools is not one of money. It’s one of management.
KROL ON THE PHONE — THE PLANET heard a story from a political consultant and independently confirmed by a political junkie. It seems there were at least four people who had letters to the editor in the BB backing Bianchi who shortly after, usually the next day, were contacted by Ward 6 councilor John Krol, asking questions about the letter and wondering if Bianchi wrote the letters and they were just using their names or if Bianchi has promised them a political favor in return. We will be interested in hearing why our Right Honorable Good Friend Krol made the calls and on whose behalf. In each of the calls, he was evangelizing for Marchetti.
WATCH THE SKIES IN WARD 4 — Probably the key eard tonight will be in 4. Ward 4a and 4b, you’ll recall, unilaterally propelled Jimmy Ruberto to a narrow win over Bianchi in 2009. Bianchi won most everywhere else. This year, Bianchi won 4a in the preliminary election, beating Marchetti there. Bianchi has done a lot of campaigning in the past couple weeks in 4, particularly 4b. If he wins either or both, or if he even comes close in four, Marchetti is toast.
VOTE OR NOT: IT’S STILL YOUR GOVERNMENT — You own yourself. You also own your government. It is not the other way around. The popular saying — If you don’t vote, you can’t complain — is bunk. The electorate has the right and the privilege of voting, but it’s up to people to exercise the franchise or not. If one doesn’t vote out of sheer ignorance or laziness, they should be taken out back behind the barn and given a wood shampoo. If one can’t vote for reasons of employment or illness, that’s a legit reason. It’s also legit to make a conscious and informed choice not to support a corrupt system. Regardless, in the way we’ve set up this version of democracy, citizens always have the right to complain. And Lord knows, the pols give us plenty to complain about. Never, however, let anyone act as if this is NOT your government. Elected officials are nothing but the temporary hired help. You are the Boss.
WITH THAT, WE WISH YOU HAPPY ELECTION DAY.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.