PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, SEPT. 4, 2012) — THE PLANET appreciates the comments directed our way based on our coverage of the council-mayoral rift regarding the Spectrum settlement deal. It was a large undertaking, and we would offer that as Exhibit A that this website, more than any other media outlet serving Berkshire County, cares about the truth and its conveyance. THE PLANET does this work not for money but for public service.


We don’t image that Mayor Dan Bianchi, his director of administrative services, Donna Mattoon, or his city solicitor, Kathy Degnan, are pleased with our coverage, but we would hope they see the case we have presented. The feelings of the subjects of these types of stories are t irrelevant. THE PLANET argued the facts. If anyone cares to correct any factual mistakes based on information they have that we don’t, we shall be more than pleased to listen.

This story has not been about blame or vindication, although the facts bear out the interpretation put forth by my Right Honorable Good Friends, Jonathan Lothrop, John Krol, and Barry Clairmont. THE PLANET would imagine they feel vindicated, but again, that is irrelevant. Facts are the only relevant matter.

A Call for Statesmanship, with Sherman the Key

We make this appeal directly to Mayor Bianchi and council president Kevin Sherman: “Gentlemen, you must put all feelings aside except the ones that feed your resolve to carry on from this point forward as productively as you can.”


The choice is theirs. Sherman has an opportunity to define himself as a leader … or not.

Sherman occupies a wobbly chair, as the chair of Prez always must be. It tilts between a greased axis holding the allowance of unbridled, independent thought of the members on one side and the need to present cohesive collegiality on the other.

That will be difficult, since the council seems to be divided along ideological lines. The lines basically extend back much earlier but can most relevantly be cast as a Ruberto-Bianchi line of demarcation. Councilors are perceived standing on one side of the other. Can Sherman erase that line for the benefit of all?

We shall see.



On the lighter side, we share this joke from our good friend Bill Caprari. THE PLANET finds this jest particularly good, for two reasons:

(1) We are, have been, and always will be fans of the Lone Ranger, having taken him as a kind of role model for our public life.

(2) The joke points out how the obvious, how common sense, can often escape those who wish to intellectualize everything.

(3) It’s funny as heck.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto went camping in the desert. After they got their
Tent all set up, both men fell sound asleep.

Some hours later, Tonto wakes the Lone Ranger and says, ‘Kemo Sabe, look
Towards sky, what you see? ‘
‘The Lone Ranger replies, ‘I see millions of stars.’

What that tell you?’ asked Tonto.

The Lone Ranger ponders for a minute then says, ‘Astronomically speaking,
It tells me there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo.  Time wise, it appears to be approximately a quarter
Past three in the morning. Theologically, the Lord is all-powerful and we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What’s it tell you, Tonto?’

“You dumber than buffalo shit. It mean someone stole the tent.”
Thanks, Bill.
Now our next story is about REID Middle School. QUIZ QUESTION — What is the connection between the Lone Ranger and the school? Lunch with THE PLANET is the prize. Send your entries into today!



Goodbye, readin’ ritin’, and ‘rithmatic. Hello, additional technological diversion. God help the schools.

Reid Middle School, where every kid makes high honors because it is good for self-esteem, has installed a TV studio in the building. The studio is a gift of Sabic Innovative Plastics, a bit of community service fluff that companies like this provide to create the illusion that “they care” about the locals. It is their “manna” to keep the community off their backs.

Manna? You remember from your Bible studies, I’m sure. “Manna, n. A food miraculously given to the Israelites in the wilderness. When it was no longer supplied to them, they settled down and tilled the soil, fertilizing it, as a rule, with the bodies of the original occupants.” (Ambrose Bierce). Israel has been doing that as a nation since 1948. GE cum Sabics for much longer than that.

More Fun with Video Games: That’s What This Studio Actually Means

Back to the TV studio, THE PLANET asks why that would be a priority, when true communication skills — reading and writing, particularly — are at appalling lows? We do like the fact that it will give some student hot dogs a chance to show off in front of a camera, but we would rather see a public speaking requirement for every student as part of a cross-curricular, classroom initiative. We would also recommend a greatly enhanced curriculum in readings at all levels and expository writing.

Yes, we know. We know. The studio is part of the school’s “Writing and Media Workshop,” as we learned not long ago in a gushing, fawning, puff-fluff piece published as Page One News by the Boring Broadsheet. THE PLANET wonders how  much good talent such as our fellow Newhouse grad Jenn Smith chafes at having to produce such cotton candy.

What the TV studio has to do with writing escapes us. THE PLANET would rather see the kids spending their time filling up notebooks with assignments for essays — not poetry, not short stories, but essays — after sufficient emphasis on mechanics … you know, topics considered unimportant today such as spelling, grammar, syntax, proper punctuation, understanding of the eight parts of speech.

Tell you what, though: This newest piece of electronic candy will degenerate to the lowest level. Kids will use the room, and its new computers, to play video games. We fail to see how that will improve them as writers in a skill they have mastered years ago, as infants.

These young-ins are now in the latter stage of childhood, a condition (reverting to Bierce again) of human life “between the idiocy of infancy and the folly of youth — two removes from the sin of manhood and three from the remorse of age.”

God bless the child, because the adults certainly are not.

The simple solution to all of this is to give THE PLANET dictatorial powers as head of the Pittsfield Public Schools for one year. We would lead the league after that 12-month term expires.







  1. JerryPosner
    September 4, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    The Lone Ranger’s last name is given as “Reid”

    • danvalenti
      September 4, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

      Correct. You win. THE PLANET will be buying you lunch!

      • JerryPosner
        September 4, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

        Excellent! I’m delighted! Where will we be dining?

        • danvalenti
          September 5, 2012 at 8:40 am #

          Red Lion Inn. I’ll be in touch.

  2. Ron Kitterman
    September 4, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    Prez Sherman lent that chair to Clint Eastwood last week, If it’s as broken as you say he will probably blame George Bush.

    • Scott
      September 4, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

      It’s interesting that there’s still people who believe GW did the best he could for this great nation of ours. (No I’m not a democrat, no I didn’t vote for Obama nor do I think he’s doing that great.) I’m just saying.

      Nice to see you back planet who dropped the ball on your domain/ hosting cost?

  3. teecha teecha
    September 4, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    For the record Dan most schools firewall video gaming websites amongst other things. The studio requires things like script writing and program creation which gets the creative juices flowing. I agree that writing is deteriorating and emphasis is needed, bit creative Nd visual type strategies are magic if used correctly. Especially with sped students, whom I work with

    • danvalenti
      September 4, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

      Understood, but it’s the wrong approach to require scriptwriting before a student even knows the eight parts of speech. Scriptwriting is a specialty, and it cannot serve as a platform basis to teach writing. It’s like giving a kid a Lamborghini for his or her driving test. Teach basics first. Basics basics basics.

      • teecha teecha
        September 5, 2012 at 7:34 am #

        You are right. I think a major issue is trying to find creative, interesting ways to teach the kids basics. Many old school dinosaurs refuse to upgrade their techniques and teaching styles. Schools are often in need of a younger, fresher perspective when it comes to teaching.

        example: smartboard technology. Fantastic for keeping learning visual, interactive and interesting. Yet, you can teach anything from basic grammar to advanced expository writing.

        Something of this sort would have been a much better investment than a television studio.

  4. Dave
    September 4, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    Just one last thought on the Register of Deeds race. I saw Peter Marchetti’s letter to the Editor of the BB and had to laugh. I think the funniest of all the comments was how Sharon Henault got a “raw deal” six years ago. She may have, I don’t remember the race but why not repeat the “raw deal” again. It is politics as Peter reminds us. Oh wait, it won’t be a raw deal this time because Peter may need the support of Jody’s base in a year or so. Hopefully the ad on the previous page with the names of 60 attorneys who use the Register of Deeds office regularly endorsing Patsy Harris will hold more water than a political hack fishing for favors later.

    • danvalenti
      September 4, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

      This race will be a measure of that. What will sway voters in a local race: qualifications for office or political hackery? If qualifications matter, Patsy wins. If hacks rule, Jody gets in. Somewhere in between is Scott Pignatelli, who, in my mind, of Patsy’s true competition.

      • skier1
        September 4, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

        Why didn’t Patsy know what the budget was that she supposedly help prepare since she says she knows everything about the office? Why didn’t she know it was a public record? Why didn’t she know anyone could get that info online? Clarence Fanto in the debate could see right thru the act. Alot of people picked up on this major faux pas.

        • Matt
          September 5, 2012 at 6:01 am #

          I watched the debate, it was clear to me that Patsy knew the general figure and has the inside access to the budget because she works in the office and doesn’t need to go to the website to get information that she clearly can get much easier as an insider.

          Skier1, you see conspiracies where there are none. If 90% of the budget is payroll it seems like the number would be a fluid number that changes year to year with cost of living increases, periodic changes in staff. Why is it important that she know to the cent last years budget or that she knows where it is published?

    • levitan
      September 4, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

      I’m convinced by the skeptics on the Eagle blogs and I’m not voting for any of those three. I’m writing in mreatfirstasklater.

  5. Beacon Hill Mob
    September 4, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

    Dear Dan,

    I’ve had the misfortune to teach college students using Logarithms.

    Todays students point to a key on a calculator, or a chunk of wood. This is 8th grade math

    Plot a Logarithm ? CLUELESS!!!!

    • levitan
      September 4, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

      Are the days of learning the formulas and executing them by hand gone?

  6. Not buying it
    September 4, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    Hey Dan,
    Do you have a Stooley the South County Housy clean-up debate? I believe the review process will play some role in the ultimate decision, but I can imagine there’s a lot of back room deals being made too. Do you know if the consent agreement covers that area of the river too? It would be great if the EPA and GE decided to change the agreement. Not because I don’t think every downstream town deserves their own Mini-Hill 78 or sterile river bottom and banks. But because I hope it would be the key to actually reopening the entire agreement. Maybe Pittsfield could finally force GE to properly clean up their mess, as it should in the first place!

  7. ShirleyKnutz
    September 4, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    How is all that learning from the laptops going? And now they will be using iPads? I think I want to go back to school… no more readin’,ritin’ and rithmetic!

    • teecha teecha
      September 5, 2012 at 7:36 am #

      Ipads, when used correctly, can be a tremendous tool for learning ‘readin, ritin and rithmetic. I personally allow and encourage my students to use electronic sources for reading. Ebooks, e-magazines, online articles and newspapers.

      Granted you COULD do that on any computer. Having an up-to-date technology such as an Ipad is an incentive to get the kids interested.

      • danvalenti
        September 5, 2012 at 8:37 am #

        “When used correctly.” That is the operative phrase. Too often, they are not. In such cases, they are a detriment to learning. The overall objective of education is to make someone into a thinker. Misapplication of technology does the opposite.At best, technology is only an adjunct to intellectual discipline.

  8. Tom Sakshaug
    September 4, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

    Regarding President Sherman: He is capable of taking the reins more strongly. He just needs to do so. He can be a mediator and control the meetings better. Come on Kevin…I believe in you!
    BTW, I responded to Mr. Gleason in the previous comments section if anyone is interested.

  9. Silence Dogood
    September 4, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    Error….“You dumber than buffalo shit. It mean someone stole the tent.”

    Should read::

    “You dumber than buffalo shit Kemosabe . It mean someone stole the tent.”

    September 4, 2012 at 6:12 pm #


    You are back, cool.

    The public ed system is a joke. We need to get back to the basics before we can advance. Get rid of the electronic crap, discipline the little monsters, and get the hell rid of the teachers unions.
    Stop the school systems from pushing the damn drugs on kids. Every kid can be inattentive and disruptive, that doesn’t mean that they need prescription drugs. It is disgusting that the school systems receive more money per student if they can classify them as “special needs”, glad I never had to deal with the Pittsfield system, I know two families who have been threatened with DSS if they didn’t put their children on the drugs pushed by these wonderful public servants.
    You do not have to believe me. I have seen it happen. It is extortion by a public entity.

    • Mom of School Kids
      September 4, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

      You have no idea what you are talking about with children who need medication untill you are the parent of that child. When you make an informed decision to medicate and your child and then that child is able to learn 100% better than before, then you are helping them not hurting them. The schools may suggest there is a problem, but it is up to the parent to work with the Dr. Parents have to do what is best for their child not the school.

      I also agree with the problems at Reid. My children are students, who are both on honors, but struggle with math or spelling that is not related to what they are currently learning. This is not helping them for their higher education. Yet, they think it’s great that they are on honors. It is very frustrating, they give out A’s for just turning in a homework assignment. It’s not right.

    • Scott
      September 5, 2012 at 4:23 am #

      I believe you because they did it to me when I was a kid and my mom did whatever the school said fortunately for me my oppositional defiance (that’s the label I ended up with.) really kicked in and I refused to take the drugs. They tried doing the same thing to my kid and I could see how young parents who are less savvy could easily be pushed to do the wrong thing for their children. I fought it all the way and said I would exhaust every effort before medication would even be considered. (the shrink was very upset and even slapped his hand down on the table in frustration I couldn’t believe it.) We had a second opinion from his Dr. and no he’s not add but “just say he is and go with it to get him a little extra help” seriously? So we did but then pulled him and put him in a small private school. That worked out for three years now he’s back in public school in a small town through school choice and I’m happy to report they tech the kids how to balance a check book.

    • Levitan
      September 5, 2012 at 6:35 am #

      Good points. Agree with most except the disclipline thing. lack of discipline in the classroom is a sign of poor organization by the teacher. Electronics are helpful, but should not replace the hard work of theoretical proof.

      But, why are 6th graders word processing papers? They should be practicing script. That’s a shame, since the mechanics of writing assists with spelling.

      • teecha teecha
        September 5, 2012 at 7:40 am #

        Script is no longer mandated in the state frameworks. You can’t get a job or graduate from college without being able to type a paper or use a computer. The only time 90% of the people under the age of like 50 use script is to sign their names on a check.

        6thh graders are word processing papers because we no longer live in the 1950’s and technology is the way of the world. It’s no wonder we are behind the japanese. Think about how connected THEY ARE to the technological world.

        When was the last time anyone turned in a report, chart, graph, anything work related hand written using script?

        • Levitan
          September 5, 2012 at 7:53 am #

          Ok, you made that point rather well, but, look how many technologically literate people in their thirties, twenties, and teens who cannot spell. In my office, which is populated by college graduates, people give me a blank look when I indicate what I take to be typos of common words such as, “receive”, “ridiculous”, and more. They do not know how to spell, and they do not even recognize where they make mistakes. I blame reliance on spell check, but I suspect the problem is more systemic. If you don’t write the word, you don’t develop the memory for it.

          Computers are about as difficult to master as an automatic vehicle. I had not used a computer from 1990-2000. Then I purchased one, read a textbook on theories of databases, and set my business up with a large relational DB self-made to manage a customer base and also produced print products. I went on to learn photoshop, HTML, CSS, and PHP in the years 2005-2006. I took a job never touching that software, but guessed I could pick them up in a week or two. It took about three weeks.

          So, I do not buy the argument that computer training is essential to keeping up with the Japanese, who not that long ago needed a substantial amount of assistance from us in governing and decades later, an economic bailout.

          • Levitan
            September 5, 2012 at 8:06 am #

            By the way, I respect teachers that do motivate and encourage their students, and I am not opposed to the presence of computers and mobile technology in the classroom.

            I congratulate you on being one of the stand outs.

          • danvalenti
            September 5, 2012 at 8:35 am #

            Yes. Teecha sounds like one of the good ones.

          • teecha teecha
            September 5, 2012 at 5:21 pm #

            I appreciate the compliments. I actually agree on most of your points on LITERACY. Not script 🙂

          • danvalenti
            September 5, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

            Well done. Your contributions make this site a better one.

    September 4, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

    Thoughts on Thursday elections. First low turn out, people will forgot because its Thursday. Because of holiday I thought today was Monday. Why Thursday, always voted on Tuesday. ?????

    Jodie is a very nice person and would do well. Patsy has the experience. Pignetelli is running on his name and nothing else.

    Low turnout, who will get most voters out, thats the question???

    Neil will bury Nuciforo.

    Only my thoughts

    • Matt
      September 5, 2012 at 6:08 am #

      Seems like a no brainer tomorrow, hope people come out to vote. Spread the word and remind everyone, as I have been doing.

    • danvalenti
      September 5, 2012 at 8:39 am #

      Many thanks. Good points.

  12. dusty
    September 5, 2012 at 12:18 am #

    The GOB will have their soldiers out in force. If Patsy Harris is to stand a chance the working man and woman must make the effort and find the time to vote. This may seem like an insignificant election to many people and they may not want to bother. But they should and I hope they do. Push yourselves people…get out and vote. This election does effect you big time whether you realize it or not.

  13. Scott
    September 5, 2012 at 4:24 am #

    Where do you vote???

  14. Levitan
    September 5, 2012 at 6:09 am #

    Very revealing Freudian slip in today’s Eagle’s editorials. A Lee selectwoman says in so many words that Pignatelli will live up to worst expectations and therefore ought to be voted in.

    The writer wanted to say “best” but was thinking “worst.”

    To hell with the lot of them.

    • Levitan
      September 5, 2012 at 6:15 am #

      The leading argument for Harris is that consolidating the Registries of Berk County is a bad idea because those government jobs will leave the county. Meanwhile, she is touting the notion that access to your deed is dependent on a friendly face at the Registry.

      Has anyone here read The Nose? This position is what that story is about.

    • Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
      September 5, 2012 at 10:21 am #

      I think after re reading it, it should have read “proven their worth”..

  15. Joe T
    September 10, 2012 at 11:05 am #


    Reid School submitted the television studio as a proposed project for SABIC volunteers. SABIC chooses among submitted projects but is not involved in what the submitting organizations request. As an aside, volunteers also “spruced up” the theater room and painted murals on the room’s walls.

    When “Plastics” was with GE there was a strong leadership involvement in volunteer projects. I believe they were indeed interested in the good of the community.

    The current SABIC leadership seems much less involved and may just view it as good will, I do not know. However the workers that donate hundreds of hours on each project are not doing it for the corporate reputation. All those people are donating hours to improve their community and they work very hard on their own time on these projects. Plastics has put up many playgrounds, painted and repaired school buildings, brightened up schools with murals, provided science facilities and outdoor classrooms and raised gardens among other things. It is a little disappointing to see those efforts poorly received by your blog.

    • danvalenti
      September 10, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

      Thanks, Joe T. Points well made.