BIANCHI BADLY BLUNDERED IN BACKING DOWN or “I SAW WHERE IN A NORTH STREET DITCH DID LURK” … LETTERS FROM THE PLANET MAILBAG …
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, MAY 9, 2012) — It wasn’t bad enough that Mayor Dan Bianchi blundered so badly on 3rd Thursday. No. To rub lava into the wound, Cultural Pittsfield issued a press statement yesterday with no reference to the teapot that had cracked to pieces in the throes of the tempest.
Even worse, it quotes Bianchi thusly:
“I worked on North Street for many years, so I was a captive audience to Third Thursdays right from the start,” said Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi. “There was nothing better than walking out of my office, stepping into a big street fair, and reconnecting with all kinds of friends and neighbors I hadn’t seen in a while. I’m looking forward to the start of this year’s event, and another summer of showcasing downtown Pittsfield at its best.”
Acting in Panic and from Weakness
If we take him at his word, always a dangerous thing to do when when it involves a politician, Bianchi’s words form a hangman’s noose by strongly suggesting if not proving that he acted in panic and from weakness to reverse his decision. In his quote, he admits knowing of the popularity of 3rd Thursday. Consequently, we can assume he acted with this knowledge when he reached his decision to cancel the event.
In short, he must have had a strong reason to act upon a move he had to know would be unpopular. That reason, public safety, won out over the emotionalism connected with the popular event.
THE PLANET loved this calm, sober, and resolute action.
“This is the mark of a leader, a man who knows what he’s doing,” we thought.
Then, barely after we had contacted city hall for a statement from the mayor, his public affairs director sent forth the sad press release announcing his sudden reversal. He had seen the light, hallelujah.
Bianchi Has it Right the First Time Around
A moment’s further reflection shows that the popularity of the event — “Upwards of ten thousand people attend each month to enjoy the best of the Berkshires,” boasts the press release — is precisely why Bianchi acted correctly the first time out in canceling the event.
The thought of thousands of people, including many youths, roaming the chewed up streets of the forever-in-progress Streetscape produced visions of chaos … and lawsuits: Oh, the ankles waiting to be sprained, the arms longing to be broken, the heads yearning to be knocked.
In a summons of fate worthy of the mythical Sports Illustrated Cover Curse, Bianchi’s decision all-but guarantees trouble for the street fest. With the recent rash of robberies, stabbings, assaults, and shootings, let’s hope trouble on May 17 doesn’t venture across the city line into the ever encroaching Village of Mayhem. You “know” it’s going to happen.
The press release goes on:
“The theme of the May 17th 3rd.Thursdays is Celebrating Youth, featuring performances by talented young musicians, dancers, singers, actors and more, including the Youth Alive Step Team and Band, the Catholic Youth Center All Star Cheerleaders, Kids 4 Harmony & the Sunshine Singers, the Hillcrest Drummers led by Aimee Gelinas and many more. The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts will host the opening reception for its annual show, Art in The Schools, which features art work by middle and high school students from Pittsfield’s public schools.
Berkshire Rocks, a local organization that provides opportunities for young musicians and singers to perform will feature an evening of young performers including Ella Sears, Genie and The Barncats, Sarah Elizabeth Rayner, Christine Bile and the Interlopers. The Rock On Workshop for Young Musicians will be celebrating its tenth anniversary at 3rd Thursdays starting on the stage in front of Spice Dragon at 297 North St. Performers will include faculty and student groups plus special guests.”
It’s On, It’s Off, It’s On, or ‘The Young and the Immature’
“Youth” makes a grand theme, but for May 17, THE PLANET suggests “It’s On, It’s Off, It’s On Again.” You’re only young once, but as the mayor shows, one can always be immature, to twist a line from humorist Dave Berry. The latter may seem an odd word to use to describe the officious and studious bean-counter mayor, but to back down from one’s convictions because of political pressure, what else can it be but jejune?
We lives in a strange work, Master Jack: The mayor acts in the interest of public safety, and people get tied into knots. Their contact with the mayor’s office causes an instant reversal of position. At the same time, Hill 78 looms over Allendale School, Silver Lake seems fated to be capped and not cleaned, and the GE Consent Agreement continues to rob Pittsfield blind. All of that, and not a peep from the peeps.
THE PLANET Commissions a Poem for the Occasion
With that, we present this poem from the poet laureate of Berkshire County, Sir Tiberius Fruitjuice. It’s called, “I Saw Where in a North Street Ditch Did Lurk,” a work of greatness THE PLANET has commissioned at great expense in honor of 2012’s first 3rd Thursday:
I saw where in a North Street ditch did lurk
A curious frame of nature’s work.
An ankle crushed in patterned blood,
a nameless victim in the mud.
Then lawsuits fair, they might supply
the lawyer to make money by.
Oh, did stern-eyed Fate decry
that of this man or that, one must die?
—– 00 —–
We thank Sir Tiberius for his brilliance.
FROM THE PLANET MAILBAG:
We share now a sampling of the mail we’ve received of late:
Why Doesn’t School Department Hired Licensed Teachers?
Comments: here is a good article to write… how many people have been in the Pittsfield school system over the years that were not licensed, or teaching more than 10% out of their primary area? I heard that when Candy Jewewski became principal, she was licensed like other applicants, and now her job — like Jake’s — is up. Jake was carried for many years by Doug McNally until he got the right licenses. Why doesn’t Pittsfield advertise on School Spring.com to get licensed teachers, like most districts? Just saying …. might prove to be an interesting read. — WS
A ‘Different View’ on Sturgeon
I have a different view of Bill Surgeon than you apparently do. I believe (or should I say “in my opinion”) Sturgeon has a huge ego and carefully planned his exit from the show in order to bring maximum exposure to himself and to cast the blame for his show’s demise on the station. When I read the post that “Sturg got fired” by Ambrose on your site, on Saturday, I went to Sturgeon’s Facebook page to see if there was a confirmation or a denial of his being let go. It was confirmed. I was surprised to read that he had already changed his bio to read “worked at WBRK.” Paying this kind of attention to detail so soon after being shocked by the notification is an indication he was prepared for his termination…”in my opinion.” I haven’t been a dedicated listener of his show for well over a year for numerous reasons, but I’m aware of his stated desire to reduce the number of hours he spent doing the show. Once the 2 hour a day, 4 days a week format took affect a couple of weeks ago…he filled the entire time with guests. My only interest in his or any talk show for that matter is hearing the opinions of others. The one time he had a an open show for callers the past 2 weeks, was when a scheduled guest failed to appear. — NG
Finally, we received this brief message from Donna Todd Rivers, the Diva herself:
“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”
Rivers was apparently referring to our critical notice of her show, part of our discussion of Bill Sturgeon’s exit at WBRK. We wrote back to her last night:
That pearl of wisdom was the greatest advice we ever received about public life. The Aging Greek God himself, Peter Arlos, gave it to us in 1992, when we were beginning our life, locally, as a columnist and talk show host. “Don’t chase criticism.” If Rivers is as smart as she says she is and is half the leader she talks about on Facebook with paste-up cliches on the subject, she will listen to this advice.
We all live three lives: Our public life, our private life, and our personal life. When you’re doing your show, Diva, your in public. When you’re hanging out at that address, you need to grow a hard bark.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.