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 RaynerChristine 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.



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 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:


Don’t take it personally. I simply gave a critical opinion of your show. I didn’t expect you to “like” the notice, but know that it has nothing to do with you as a person.
Word of advice from one public figure to another: Don’t chase criticism.

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.






  1. Andrew
    May 8, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

    Good lord Dan, nobody cares about this but you. Is this what you’re going to be obsessed with for the next few days?

    He made a decision and then he changed his mind because of public discontent with that decision. He’s a mayor representing the will of WE THE PEOPLE. It’s OK that he changes his mind on little things like this.

    In your first post about this pressing issue, you stated that “Bottom line is this: An executive either believes in himself and his actions or he doesn’t.”

    Aside from the fact that this isn’t the bottom line to anything, for you to hold such a conviction about what executive leadership means, how can you possibly support Romney?

    • danvalenti
      May 8, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

      Well, obviously you care, since you are so assiduous in your comments. And Sir Tiberius, evidenced by his radiant verse, obviously cares. Incidentally, may we ask: Do you have a sense of humor?

      • spectator
        May 10, 2012 at 10:39 am #

        Andrew is a TROLL

    • Wilson
      May 8, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

      It’s kind of notable since Bianchi doesn’t exactly offer much to critique. Even here he just is continuing the previous retiree-mayor’s initiative of staging “events” at undisclosed cost…indecisively.

      • levitan
        May 9, 2012 at 8:19 am #

        … and I don’t see Bianchi cowering over the Liquor Board.

        • danvalenti
          May 9, 2012 at 10:07 am #

          We shall be addressing the council meeting tomorrow.

  2. dusty
    May 9, 2012 at 1:48 am #

    If this is Bianchis biggest mistake in his first four months after taking over the Ruberto mess he is in good standing with me. It is not like he ran over somebody in the dark of night. Lighten up already.

  3. rick
    May 9, 2012 at 4:58 am #

    correctamundo dusty. this mess on north street is robertos not bianchis… unfortunately dianchi takes the rap for something he has no control over… on going projects left over from one admin. to another is the new admins. woes, it goes with the job… we should put the blame where it belongs….

  4. Ron Kitterman
    May 9, 2012 at 4:59 am #

    I’m with ya Dusty, but I grew up playing on the monkey bars at Allendale school and riding my dirt bike through hills of PCB’s next to Berkshire Bowl or Ken’s as PM would call it so my brain might be a litle fried. Hopefully no one falls through a man hole or trips over a stone or we’ll have our next lottery winner in Pittsfield.

  5. Teecha Teecha
    May 9, 2012 at 5:00 am #

    In response to the hiring of licensed teachers. In massachusetts all teachers are required to get licensed eventually to keep their jobs (there are some loopholes however) the issue is that those who are licensed are permitted a higher salary than those who are not, so the school districts usually tend to hire younger, bachelor degree educated teachers who are unlicensed and will neglect those who are fully licensed, have years experience and a masters. AS stated to get a full licensure all teachers will eventually need to get those things, but the districts can save money in the meantime.

    Many teachers want to get Ph.D degrees but balk on it because they know if they switch jobs they will be over qualified.How’s that for irony. Education is a business

    • Tim
      May 9, 2012 at 9:10 am #

      Everything is a business…

  6. taxmano
    May 9, 2012 at 6:20 am #

    Yes, but whomever made the comment about Jake being carried by his pal Doug is right on. Everbody in the system knows it, which may explain why Jake was never respected, except by his stooges (which were many.) It also explains why jake was so arrogant, defensive, and had a chip on his shoulder.

  7. Four in one
    May 9, 2012 at 6:33 am #

    The mayor’s problem of leadership is something that many people care about. Thank goodness the issue itself isn’t life or death (tho it may be if someone falls having fun on 3rd Thurday) but it is indicative of his style and ability. Style can’t be changed but he can (and I think will) learn from this and be a better man and mayor for it. Love the poem by Sir T!

    • levitan
      May 9, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

      Life or death over a pothole? Surely you jest.

      • danvalenti
        May 9, 2012 at 12:25 pm #


        • Shakes His Head
          May 9, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

          I’m sure if Mayor Bianchi removed all of the unqualified hacks from the previous administration, including the heads of the departments responsible for the Third Thursday debacle- Community Development and Cultural Development, he would be accused of much worse than indecisiveness. Instead we have two appointed department heads that manufactured a ‘newsworthy’ situation where there wasn’t one to serve the opposition that can’t seem to let go of the narrow November loss. It is a sad day for Pittsfield when taxpayers are paying city employees to politic rather than problem-solve.

          • skier1
            May 9, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

            Well said.

          • levitan
            May 9, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

            Indeed. Third Thursday is a pound of smoke.

          • danvalenti
            May 9, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

            A pound of smoke, a bag of rags, but not a hank of hair.

  8. Knocking Dan
    May 9, 2012 at 7:19 am #

    The poems great, yeah, but you jsut jinxed the 3rd Thursday event. Something’s going to happen of an accidental nature and if it does PV will be to blame. Valenti gets dazzled by his own light. By the way valenti did write the “stupid” slogan for Romney campaign, another reason Willard will lose to a man who will go down in histoy as one of the greatest presidents, Obama. Another reason why Willard can’t win, jsut can’t, because it will give a DV a national stage. Dan stick to verse.

    • danvalenti
      May 9, 2012 at 10:02 am #

      How does one respond, except to say thank you for your kind words on Sir T’s poem? Your claims have more holes in them than potholes in Blackburn, Lancashire … except for the review of Sir T.

  9. Knocking Dan
    May 9, 2012 at 7:19 am #

    just. Sorry

    • danvalenti
      May 9, 2012 at 10:03 am #

      OK, Typos are a necessary (though unwelcome adjunct) of writing.

  10. Busting
    May 9, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    Respectfully request you publish the email you sent to “Andrew Stevens” as well as his response. He is now cluttering the pittsfield topix board with claims he tricked you into printing the original story.

    Best Wishes

    • danvalenti
      May 9, 2012 at 10:06 am #

      Thank you for this suggestion. I will respectfully decline the invitation to share the missive. “Andrew Stevens” may claim what he wishes, elsewhere. We don’t go on Topix and would recommend others follow suit.

  11. Concern
    May 9, 2012 at 9:27 am #

    Knocking Dan. The greatest President , omg are you in outer space or what.. I thought no one could be worst then Jimmy Carter, but Obama makes him look good. Don,t forget there more States that vote than Mass. We!ll see comes the election what the people real think of this the worst President EVER

  12. Joe blow
    May 9, 2012 at 9:48 am #

    What do 3 jail gaurds, 3 fire fighters, court officer and a police officer have in common?

  13. Genifer
    May 9, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    DV . The big rumor is 3 jjail guards, 3 firefighters, a court officer, and a police officer all got caught buying coke during the investigation at hermans In the recent drug bust. From what I hear there is real substance to the story. Are you And Glen going to investigate this?

    • danvalenti
      May 9, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

      Can’t speak for Glen. We shall be asking questions, in all likelihood. All we have to do is add about four hours to our productive days. An easy job for a time wizard.

    • joetaxpayer
      May 9, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

      Thats wierd,because there was no coke found at Hermans.A Pittsfield dispatcher had already tipped them off.

      • danvalenti
        May 9, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

        We’ve got calls into the appropriate sources.

        • Genifer
          May 10, 2012 at 7:36 am #

          Let’s start with Bob the dispatcher . Then there are a few more names that will be coming forthwith!

  14. Jonathan Melle
    May 9, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    I thought Pittsfield politics was all about Carmen Massimiano.

  15. rick
    May 9, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    the law is the law and mr.pisani who is on the liquor board should now that, if hes on a board that holds a liquor licence he cant be on a board that regulates liquor licences. it doesn’t take 2 yrs to take someone off the rolls as a board member. and even if it was a misprint and he hasn’t been on the g.e.a.a.s board for the last 2 yrs, he was on the board at one time while still on the licencing board. it just doesn’t look good, especially if there were votes going on when the” A” was in front of the licencing board and he had a vote entered.

    • skier1
      May 9, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

      He voted 2 years ago on an issue with the Back 9 and approved it. He knew what he was doing and he was on the board then.

  16. taxmano
    May 9, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    Who were the other applicants for the PPS superintendent position? They are only naming one finalist…

    • danvalenti
      May 9, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

      Haven’t you heard. These kinds of questions are forbidden in Pittsfield. They want to keep you in the dark on matters like that.

  17. kevin jennings
    May 9, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

    Hey dan how did Tricia FarleY Bouvier vote on the banning of school bake sales??

    • danvalenti
      May 9, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

      I don’t know. A search of the state’s legislative website failed to produce the bill in question. Suggest you contact TFB at 442-4300 in Pittsfield.

  18. Joe Blow
    May 9, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    Pisani was on the board of GEAA at some point while being on the Pittsfield Licensing Board. Whether he is still on it or not does not matter! I’m not a fan of bars or clubs but the last meeting with Pisani he made comments about the way people were dressed in regards to a bar fight that were out of line. Now if we can get rid of Massimiano. There should be term limits on all city boards.

    • danvalenti
      May 9, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

      Good “pernt,” JOE. If Pisani ever served on the GEAA board, but especially recently (within five years), he should be booted.

    May 9, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    3 Guards, firemen, court officer and police. I just hope before we all start writing about this we have the facts not just rumors. I have heard so many rumors about these raids that have turned out false already.

    • levitan
      May 9, 2012 at 6:28 pm #

      It’s not news until confirmed.

      • danvalenti
        May 9, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

        It’s “unconfirmed news” until it’s confirmed, that is, if it comes from a credible source. By the widest definition, “news” is anything that is new, that is, hasn’t been heard before. This “news” can prove to be factual, in which case it’s confirmed, or it can be proven non-factual, in which case it’s unconfirmed. But as it stands, yeah, it’s “news.”

        • Scott
          May 10, 2012 at 4:11 am #

          Dan you know all about credible sources.

          • danvalenti
            May 10, 2012 at 7:12 am #

            Yes, I do (at least mine). They are, in a word, credible.

  20. joetaxpayer
    May 9, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    Went to the art-walk friday on North Street, really cannot see any problems.There is construction in the area,but the sidewalks were fine.Think Mayor Dan has made the right decision.

  21. Scott
    May 9, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

    “Oh, the ankles waiting to be sprained, the arms longing to be broken, the heads yearning to be knocked.”

    Seriously? You have to be joking the horse is beaten, dead and in the ground let him rest in peace. People have enough sense to walk carefully in areas where cones may be set up and dangerous areas taped or fenced off. No one can sue for falling down plus dead beats who look for reasons to sue will find a way if that’s how they want to spend their life. Mass law protects property owners from suit for injuries sustained on said land. So as long as the workers put up signs and the proper warning or safety gear no one can sue.

  22. Ron Kitterman
    May 9, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    At Kevin The House Voted To Reverse Ban On School Bake Sales, you hear a lot of younger generation saying it is what it is, well polls have their own saying these days it is what it was.

    • danvalenti
      May 9, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

      It is what it is, but it ain’t what you think.
      Thanks, Ron

  23. Luxor Rex
    May 9, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

    DV don’t listen to idiots like knocking dan who are jealous of a local guy hitting the big time. Many of us are proud of what you’ve done and appreciate the work you put into PV.

    • danvalenti
      May 9, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

      Appreciate the words. Nah, I never listen to that kind of stuff.

  24. dusty
    May 10, 2012 at 12:51 am #

    maybe now we know why the unions fight so hard against drug testing for city employees

  25. Jim Gleason
    May 10, 2012 at 6:53 am #

    The lines of questioning by Barry Clairmont to City Solicitor Degnan was ridiculous. Bringing out IRS tax records and whining over clerical errors on Pisani’s address were childish and prove that he is still with the ruberto agenda and being an obstructionist toward Mayor Bianchi’s efforts to enforce Commonwealth law.There is no question that Pisani is no longer a member of the licensing board, the law states this very clearly.Clairmont, I believe, thinks he is practicing law from his council seat and in fact has a new nickname among certain people, that being Barry Mason.Leave the law to the lawyers, Barry, and stop grandstanding for the benefit of the GOB’s and you’ll be much better off.

    • danvalenti
      May 10, 2012 at 7:12 am #

      Well phrased, Jim. Clairmont, aka, Dancing Barry, aka, Barry Mason, has been assigned the role of GOB pit bull.