PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, DEC. 21, 2011) — By now, you’ve likely heard of the fire that struck the house at 25 Plunkett Street. Two people were displaced, one of them Claudia Jean White. Claudia is the mother of outgoing Ward 2 councilor Peter White.

She and her tenant, Charles Ellsworth, are now left homeless right before Christmas. It’s a tough blow for them and also to our Right Honorable Good Friend, councilor White. No one needs this kind of stress in their lives, but especially at this time of year.

Fundraiser for the Whites will take place 7-10 p.m. at Chameleon’s, Tuesday, Dec. 27

True to the best instincts of the many good people who live in Pittsfield or grew up there, we are not going to let Pete or his mom face the situation alone.

No one died in the blaze, but Mrs. White’s house was rendered inhabitable due to water, smoke, and fire damage. Sadly, she lost her pets in the blaze. She will be living with her son, who lives close by. Jenn Smith, in her coverage of the fire for the Boring Broadsheet, reported that Ellsworth would be moving in with family members.

In Flash time, a fund-raiser is being planned from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at Chameleon’s night club, located in the former building on outer East Street that used to house Bobby Hudpucker’s restaurant. There will be bands and other entertainment, including an auction of many interesting items. Funds will be used to help Mrs. White and those affected by the blaze.

THE PLANET is contributing two items for the auction:

— The first lot consists of several of our  titles, including the best-selling Clout!, TJ: Many 26 Years in Baseball (with Yankees star Tommy John), Talking on Air,  Under a Grapefruit Sun, and Spring’s Third Day (published by Planer Media Books). Each book is autographed.

Life on The Planet: Dinner with Dan: Your chance to buy at auction dinner with THE PLANET! We shall be your captive audience, designed to entertain, captivate, and otherwise suffice for your amusement at one of the city’s fine hash houses. You can harangue us, humor us, and generally get to enjoy a great thrill Mrs. Planet “enjoys” most every night of the week! Who knows? Maybe even James Taylor and/or Deval Patrick will join us? Or, should we get extremely lucky, Mrs. Planet herself. We guarantee, though, that Pittsfield Believer will not be at the table (though one of his many personas will likely be spying).

Time for the Best “It’s a Wonderful Life” Ending (or Reasonable Facsimile Thereof) for Peter White and His Mom

We urge everyone who can to support this benefit for the Whites. We consider Peter a good friend, and we are more than happy to be there for him in this time of need.  Now it’s time to cast Peter in the role of Jimmy Stewart in Pittsfield’s version of “It’s a Wonderful Life” — We mean the ending, when the town comes to the aid of battered and beaten George Bailey.

One last word about Pete White. In Pittsfield politics, the obligatory qualifier before anyone can say anything remotely critical is the same sentence that gets pronounced when someone gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar — “But he’s a nice guy.”

THE PLANET has no patience for this lame declaration. Everyone’s a nice guy. Adolph Hitler loved children and animals. Hitler was a “nice guy.” When someone tell me that “X is a nice guy,” it’s usually the same as admitting their guilt.

So we won’t tell you that Peter White is a “nice guy.” We will say, though, that he is a gentle man, through and through. We’ve covered politics for a bunch of publications and places going back to the mid-70s. We can’t recall meeting a more polite, gentle, mannerly, courteous, and deferential man than Pete. Even when we had to criticize him, he never wavered in this demeanor toward us. THE PLANET doesn’t mind telling the world how much we appreciate this.

Pittsfield has been better off because of Peter White’s service. After he lost his first bid for office, he started doing serious homework. He attended every meeting. He studied issues. He helped out as a volunteer. He finally got elected. When baseball came back to Wahconah Park, Pete White became the leading booster among public officials.

Well done, Pete, and godspeed. The people of Pittsfield will not let you down.

Pittsfield still has that kind of stock. That’s who the city is.

Thanks you for all who can help out.


Dry Hydrant a Warning Sign: An Audit of All City Hydrants Must be Done

One ominous development from the fire that scorched Mrs. White’s home had to do with an inoperable fire hydrant. A nearby hydrant at Plunkett and Kellogg streets could not be used. It was not hooked into the city water lines.

How could this be? Was this a planned disconnection or an oversight? More importantly, what are the assurances that there are no other dry hydrants. Surely, fire hydrants need to be more than props on a movie set.

THE PLANET urges an immediate investigation into the status of all Pittsfield fire hydrants, with a report to be as soon as possible. We The People want to know why this particular hydrant was dry, and, moreoever, a certification that there are no other such dry hydrants in the city. Lives hang in the balance.


A Christmas Carol: Now ‘Dazzling, Delighting’ Pittsfield and Berkshire County

Mrs. Planet and Guest enjoyed the brilliant Eric Hill-Gray Simons’ production of Dickens‘ classic, “A Christmas Carol.” The Berkshire Theatre Group has amped up the production to fit the gem-like nature of its new setting, The Colonial Theatre.

Playing before a packed house that included many friends, “A Christmas Carol,” according to Mrs. Planet, “dazzled and delighted.”

Kudos to Kate Maguire and the entire company for establishing, maintaining, and enhancing this delightful community tradition. The play’s move from the intimate Unicorn Theater on the BTG campus in lovely Stockbridge — still one of our all-time favorite venues — to the grand setting in the Colonial located at the heart of the county seat is fitting. Moreover, it gives Pittsfield, now, claim to this annual injection of light, love, and joy. The city can certainly use it.

Certainly, a tale of redemption is something everyone can appreciate.






  1. Shakes His Head
    December 21, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    I disagree with Peter White on many things, and have been a longtime critic of the soon to be past administration, but I feel a tremendous amount of empathy for the families’ loss. Unfortunately, I cannot attend the fundraiser, but would like to make a contribution to help them through this difficult time. If someone could post details/instructions, I would much appreciate it.

    I wish the questions for the PFD during the last round of negotiations, and subsequent elections, had centered on training, infrastructure, and equipment instead of random drug screening. They seem so much more relevant given the news of an inoperable hydrant. I know the loss of pets and irreplaceable belongings is crushing, however, a much more tragic ending for the residents and fire response could have occurred.

    • Steve Wade
      December 21, 2011 at 10:42 am #

      SHH, I believe hydrants are the responsibilty of the Water Dept.

      • Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
        December 21, 2011 at 10:57 am #

        Thanks for your first or maybe second contribution to this site Steve…

        • Steve Wade
          December 21, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

          Thanks Hilly! Coming from you “The King of Knowledge” Its my pleasure!

  2. Shakes His Head
    December 21, 2011 at 11:01 am #

    It is a shared responsibility that the entire City needs to address– In fact the leading fire suppression evaluation system considers water supply 40% of its ratings system.

    Also, as a benefit to taxpayers, insurance comapnies consider these ratings when pricing insurance for homeowners and businesses. What is Pittsfield’s particpation level in this program or one like it? Does the community even realize that adequately funding fire suppression can reward every person and business that pays for insurace through lower rates?

    My post wasn’t meant to assign blame, but rather to point out that there are significant issues that are not addressed in a public manner.

    • joetaxpayer
      December 21, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

      Although I dont agree with Mr. White politically,I will be there with bells on to help his mother and tenants.Pete is a first rate man who only wants what is best for the city of Pittsfield,and is willing to do what it takes.Who knows maybe I will put in a bid for a chance to dine with the planet.

      • danvalenti
        December 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

        JOE THE T
        Well done. You are a gentleman. Thanks for your support.

      • Scott
        December 22, 2011 at 4:44 am #

        I wonder if dinner with Dan would end up like the time Larry David auctioned dinner with a fan on his show that was funny stuff right there. His food came first and the guy wanted him to wait to eat and Larry wasn’t having it. He asked if the guest minded if he started to eat even though his food wasn’t there but said he only asked as a courtesy and thought it rude on the other persons part to say that they minded man I live that show.

    • Judas Priest
      December 21, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

      Great points and questions, Shakes. Like Im wondering if this hydrant wasn’t working, what and where’s the liability? Do the citys insurers know about this because I would think this would smack the premiums real hard. Is this another huge waste of taxpayer money paying tons for insurance because of negligence like this? Valenti asls the right questions about the circumstances of the dry hydrant Why was it dry? On purpose? Laxity?

  3. JoAnne Soules
    December 21, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    Peter and Jean White are the best of Pittsfield. I worked with Jean for many years at PHS. She is truly an angel and there are no adequate words to describe the care, compassion and pure love that she gives to the neediest children in our community. Working with teenagers with severe physical and emotional challenges, she never seeks personal recognition but would do anything at any time in any way to make sure that her students are well cared for, successful and loved. In her son Peter she has instilled these same qualities of service and sincere kindness. That such a tragedy should befall such wonderful people is incomprehensible.

    • danvalenti
      December 21, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

      I agree with all of this, JoAnne.

    • Molly
      December 21, 2011 at 10:44 pm #

      I feel very badly for this woman, who is obviously a very kind-hearted person, not only losing her home and her belongings, but also her much loved pets (who are, indeed, family members as well). My heart goes out to her.

      I as well was thinking that it might be fun to debate some of the current issues with Mr. Valenti and so I may be bidding on that dinner, too! Especially since it’s for such a great cause.

  4. dusty
    December 21, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    You mean there was a dry hydrant and the fire dept was unaware of it? You would think someone would give them a list of the good hydrants so that they would not be wasting valuable time trying to hook up to them. Is Ruberto going to get right on this or is he too busy filing positions that should be left for Bianchi?

    • danvalenti
      December 21, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

      Yes, you would think there is a list. The situation could have resulted in loss of human life. As if is, the destruction and loss of animal life is bad enough. If that hydrant had been operable, would it have made a difference? Are there other hydrants thought to be operable that are not? A serious, serious issue.

      • Molly
        December 21, 2011 at 10:36 pm #

        I have a fire hydrant near me and every spring, the Water Dept. comes by to flush the hydrant (and flood my yard) and in so doing, they also test the functionality of the hydrant and get rid of sediment in the water pipes. And I make sure that it is plowed out/shoveled out in the winter. Someone obviously missed testing this hydrant!! Very scary indeed!

  5. Ray Ovac
    December 21, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    DV, call me Scrooge, but if you’re going to use PlanetValenti to plug a commercial production put on by the local community theater group and starring one of your paying clients, then you really ought to make the same kind of full disclosure that PlanetValenti demands of local politicos.
    Were Mrs. Planet & Guest’s tickets obtained via paying $300 per ticket as a charitable contribution, paying $100 per ticket at the Colonial Theatre box office (or $105 online), or were these tickets received complimentary at no cost courtesy of your client or of theater management?

    • danvalenti
      December 21, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

      RAY O
      No, I won’t call you Scrooge. Eric Hill does a great job in that role. As for the arrangements, there’s one slight difference between my demands on local pols and my situation with respect to the Colonial: They are public servants. I’m a private enterprise. I respectfully don’t agree with my need to disclose anything more than that. As for plugging the production, I did so because I trust Mrs. Planet’s opinion. My suggestions would be to attend the play and see for yourself. Merry Christmas.

      • joetaxpayer
        December 21, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

        Dan what the F is going on at the Stanely Retail park on the former GE property.Pittsfield needs another shopping center like a hole in the head.If they had lowered the bar like this Mr. Hickey would have filled the park by know.

  6. Joe Blow
    December 21, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    Ray Ovac = Glenn Heller! He has been saying the same thing on topix for 2 weeks….uggghhh

    • Ray Ovac
      December 21, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

      Joe Blow alias Steve Wade alias Gerry Doyle (the incredibly incompetent former mayor who sold Pittsfield down the river in the GE Consent Decree negotiations), did it ever occur to an Einstein like yourself that great minds do in fact think alike at times. Not saying I always agree with HellerCarbon’s posts on Topix, just like I don’t always agree with Valenti’s posts on PV nor Molly’s posts here, but on a lot of stuff Heller, Valenti, and Molly prove right on the money. What have you ever posted here on PlanetValenti, on Topix, or anywhere that added to the sum of knowledge or could be construed as newsworthy?

      • Steve Wade
        December 22, 2011 at 8:31 am #

        Heller or Ray Ovac Nope NOT even close!!!!!

  7. joetaxpayer
    December 21, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    Also if the city is going to give tax brakes to a shopping center,what about the poor basturds at the plaza on W.Housatonic

  8. Tito
    December 21, 2011 at 3:37 pm #

    Folly-bouvier should do a fund raiser for good ol Pete.

    • smh
      December 26, 2011 at 6:44 am #

      Maybe she should, if simply to atone for her shabby treatment of Pete during the recent primary campaign.

  9. Mark Smith
    December 21, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

    Hi Dan,

    This is pertaining to yesterday’s post. Dan Bianchi stated…

    “I just talked to [city clerk] Linda Tyer. She said the auditors suggested that she couldn’t use city funds to send out invitations, therefore she didn’t.”

    This is interesting. Does it mean that the city clerk normally sends out invites, but this time (for Bianchi) the “auditors” said no?

    Looks like Mayor Bianchi has an uphill battle before him.

    • Shakes His Head
      December 22, 2011 at 8:50 am #

      The auditors should have always said no.

  10. Ed Shepardson
    December 21, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

    Why don’t you try just covering the issues that you cover so well and stop bashing the Berkshire Eagle? You don’t bash the local radio stations for not being aggressive nor do you the Pittsfield Gazette. You would gain so much more credibility.

    • Ray Ovac
      December 21, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

      ES, disagree with you in that the Eagle fully deserves the bashing it gets. Its pompous editors pretend it’s the newspaper of record for Berkshire County. In day-to-day coverage, the Eagle, if instead of continually protecting the status quo, actually did some no-holds-barred investigative reporting, could make a real difference. Where’s reportage on the city water department embezzlement; on the ongoing illegal drug problem amongst city employees; on the secret bridge to nowhere; on all the city’s patronage hires that are going to come back and bite taxpayers when these do-nothing bozos finally retire? If the Eagle merely spent time investigating the crap it already knows about, that would be 1000% better than what it’s doing right now. BTW, the Gazette, considering its small staff (is it one or two?) and lack of resources, does a heckuva lot more aggressive reporting than the Eagle.

      • Molly
        December 21, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

        Agree 100%!!! ES – I’d be interested to hear why you would even attempt to defend The Berkshire Eagle?

  11. Pete White
    December 21, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

    Thank you Dan, my tenant (Charlie) is going to have moving and possible storage cost. My Mom lost most of her belongings. The community has been very supportive and I am very thankful.

    Pete White

    • Shakes His Head
      December 22, 2011 at 8:51 am #

      Peter, how can we help if we are unable to attend the fundraiser?

  12. Joe Pinhead
    December 21, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

    Ripped off again? Or how to put a happy face on failure; as I was reading the headlines that yet another tenant was looking to occupy property in the William Stanley Business Park I was genuinely hopeful that something meaningful would be coming forward. Something like an office building or some sort of light manufacturing or something that would make use of the rail transportation. Nope were going to get yet another strip mall or Berkshire Crossings complete with a big box retailer that most certainly will be required to add 15% to the corporate bottom line. Worse most if not all of the profits will be used to prop up some corporate office far far away from here.
    Once again the leaders of this City prove to us they have no understanding of Economic Development or of commitment. Where does a feller start with this one?
    I guess some history is in order first, I will start like all good fairy tales do in the fair city of Pittsfield.
    Once upon a time there was a Chemist here in the City of Pittsfield who worked for a company that was on the cutting edge of technology, The chemist under the direction and guidance of that company toiled with his team of scientists, engineers and technicians pushing the bounds of the chemistry field . Many considered him the professor of a university, yes folks Daniel Fox the father of lexan and the informal founder of the informal school known as Dan Fox University was memorialized not with just a street but an entire area in the city of Pittsfield that area known as Dan Fox drive was set aside to be the “silicon Valley” of the City the High Tech area used to draw researchers and high tech business here to our fair city, but as you might recall about 10 years ago the then Mayor and the Council were approached to rezone the area and it was going to be a tourist and cultural Mecca , if only we hurried and rezoned and built the Patriot resort. Once again this box hotel was going to bring hundreds of jobs and save our fair city and create a need for restaurants and other small scale offerings but alas we must hurry and allow this or there will be nothing but gloom and despair on the horizon. We gave up one of the prime areas for high tech in the city for is now a defunct entity. Doesn’t seem like a wise move in hind sight (if you thought it was a wise move then, some of us didn’t and voiced our concerns yup us negatives were at it again.
    Now we read that the big intrest is in putting a retail center in the William Stanley Business park, This isn’t economic development this is foolish at best. First of all everyone knows retail is not a stimulus for economic development but an outgrowth of a successful economic development program with years of careful tendering. People spend money they have in surplus ie disposable income at retail outlets, The economy that is developed by the economic development will determine the type style and size of the retail outlets.
    A master plan was properly developed, payed for and adopted by the PEDA board some years back. The master plan included comments from the public that were incorporated into the document. From the website “…It includes 52 acres near the heart of downtown, with 12 distinct sites providing opportunities for a range of businesses, from IT and finance, to biotech and light industrial.”
    I often confuse Biotech with Lowes, Folks this property is way to valuable to allow for this type development in the heart of the city. If someone wants to put retail in the city there are any number of more suitable locations.
    We need to voice our concerns loud and often on this issue. The Park was set up tobe a campus type environment with walking paths and trails to enjoy the outdoors and Silver lake, yes Silver lake. I visit campuses all over the country, not college campus’s but business parks were intellectual property is developed and research and development is done and I cant recall a single one next to a KMART. What will become of the light rail? Wasted? Can the neighborhood survive the traffic? And can the fragile environment survive the paving and all that goes with a retail setting of that size?
    And as we learned here on the Planet 75 % of the people in this area do not have adequate health insurance how will another set of entry level positions change this?
    We need to vet this one out
    Stay tuned

    • Molly
      December 21, 2011 at 10:27 pm #

      You are SO spot-on, Joe!!! Excellent posting! Excellent points brought out!

      I drive by The Patriot Suites often and wonder what in the heck is going to happen with that building? Is it just rotting away and will soon be yet another eyesore in Pittsfield? Also, how many tenants are now in the “business park” out there? I think the US Gov’t closed the National Archives, and so that leaves just Berkshire Hematology & Oncology? Pittsfield can’t attract any other businesses to this “business park”. Also, I’d be interested to see the actual deal on this “big box retailer” — just how many tax breaks are we giving them? How long will it be until the City sees ANY tax revenue from this? And how many businesses are going to be interested in being a neighbor of a Lowe’s vs. a tenant in a nice business park where they can bring in potential clients to impress them? I’d like to see some more thought put into this as well… Sounds like it’s too late, though – all the thought that’s going to be put into it has already taken place (none?).

    • Tom H
      December 22, 2011 at 4:33 am #

      Couldn’t agree with you more. What a waste of valuable piece of property. It was supposed to be dedicated to industrial/ business park, Bianchi should dismiss the Peda Board asap.

    • Shakes His Head
      December 22, 2011 at 8:55 am #

      Subsidizing retail anywhere will siphon existing jobs within and around Pittsfield. Mark my words, this administration’s flirtation with retail at the WSBP site could reverse any gains made on North Street as well as all the other neighborhood centers throughout the central Berkshires.

  13. dusty
    December 22, 2011 at 2:02 am #

    It is a real pain trying get from Dalton to Lenox going through Pittsfield. I believe there is like 17 traffic lights if you go over Merrill road over East, up to park square and left to Lenox. So choking off East street with another light and more traffic is another great idea. Pretty much any alternative route is the same or even slower.

    • Scott
      December 22, 2011 at 4:51 am #

      Take Dalton Division up over Williams and East New Lenox or Holmes it may be longer in miles but faster in time.

      • Still wondering
        December 22, 2011 at 7:06 am #

        Any Berkshire resident who knows his stuff has all the “alternate” routes down pat.

        • Scott
          December 22, 2011 at 8:01 am #

          I enjoy the longer ways I can’t stand stop and go traffic I enjoy looking at all the houses and huge fields the back roads have to look at.

  14. Judas Priest
    December 22, 2011 at 8:00 am #

    Joe the P says it best. Economic development donesn’t happen with strip malls. Again, failure for Pittsfield.