PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, SEPT. 6, 2012) — THE PLANET put several questions to city council president, our Right Honorable Good Friend Kevin Sherman, regarding the rift between and among three councilors members (who may be speaking for others) and Mayor Dan Bianchi over Spectrum Health Services.

We asked Sherman  a number of questions, mainly about how he intends to prevent the situation from devolving into political stalemate. He answered this way:

Hi Dan,

Thanks for the Facebook messages and questions.  We’ll touch base further when you have time.

In response, yes, I’ve reached out and talked to most councilors since the story broke as well as the Mayor to stress the fact that while this issue is important on several levels we have other issues that need addressing as a team going forward.  We have management positions to fill, streets to fix, the Rest of the River to work on, schools to fund, infrastructure to update, crime to address, and the overriding responsibility to put the City in the best position to attract and retain business and good people.  The only side I’m on is that of the residents of Pittsfield who can’t afford a stalemate or posturing for the next year.   To your point, yes, this will be a test of leadership and I intend to do so by example and encouragement maintaining productive communication with all Councilors, the Mayor, and most importantly the public.

My message to the trio was that I would have preferred another avenue of addressing their concerns such as meeting with the Mayor and solicitor to clear up any misunderstandings.  I think some of the disagreement is subject to interpretation and semantics regarding the funding of the settlement dollars.  Based on where we were at in the case, a decision was made in what was perceived to be in the best interest of City.  

However, what has me very concerned in reading the court documents is the city’s level of representation and how that framed the above mentioned perception.  While it could be argued that the settlement may have been the best outcome available, it’s the means to that end which is troubling.  I’ll be following up on that in the coming weeks.

I’m also concerned about the level of personal vitriol in print and media which does not serve to educate the public or bring conflict to resolution.  I’m a firm believer that if one looks bad – meaning elected officials – we all look bad and that is detrimental to the confidence of our residents.   Expressing public insults does not project the strong, competent leadership that our people expect and deserve.  Additionally, we have good people doing good things for the city and I don’t want this issue to discourage the good employees of City Hall or the residents.  

In addition to my customary duties as Councilor at Large, I see one of my roles as President as mediator.  So far, I’ve worked hard to remain objective and therefore not taking “sides.”  Sometimes that means coming to compromise for the sake of progress and sometimes that means standing firm on hard truths and having difficult conversations.  I’ve been having many of these conversations lately and I anticipate more.  At the end of the day, leadership is finding solutions to our differences in the best interest of the City.  It’s not always easy, pretty, or clean but as Jimmy Dugan said in “A League of Their Own”:  “It’s supposed to be hard.  If it was easy everyone would do it.  It’s the ‘hard’ that makes it great.”

—– 00 —–

Strong answer from our Right Honorable Good Friend. We would make the following quick observations:

* The issues Sherman refers to “going forward” will be what in part define Campaign 2011, municipal style. That’s where we will learn more about the motivations from everyone involved. If the Council Trio (John Krol, Jonathan Lothrop, and Barry Clairmont) were motivated by a desire for truth, we would not expect more than the usual degree of political interference. The same holds true on Bianchi’s side. If he’s willing to admit that his team could have better played the situation inherited from Mayor Jimmy Ruberto, there should be no change in his ability to put forward and pass an agenda that is good for the citizens of Pittsfield.

* Sherman preferred the Council Trio to select “another avenue of addressing their concerns.” He has a point. When THE PLANET asked Clairmont why the councilors didn’t go directly to Bianchi to talk this out first, he replied, “Because we knew how he would react.” Weak answer. The three members should have met one-on-one with Bianchi first.  Perhaps the mayor and council president could have set up a summit to address the concerns prior to taking them first to the Boring Broadsheet. 

* Concerns “about the level of personal vitriol” is a fair one. Unfortunately, that sort of slam-bamming defines the format for what passes as political “debate.” We don’t see that changing. The 24/7 newscycle will see to that.

THE PLANET is glad to see that Sherman understands that this is a leadership test for him. Admitting as much is an indication of political maturity, a recognition of the challenge that awaits to be met rather than the denial that its looming hulk is there. It remains to be seen over the next several months how this plays out, but THE PLANET thinks Sherman is off to a good start.



THE PLANET wonders: what effect will “Thursday” have on turnout? It’s hard to imagine turnout getting any worse or apathy finding a new lower register than what we’ve been used to in the recent past. If anything, being an unusual day may incite more voters to visit the polls. We hope so. We are tired of seeing turnouts well under 50%, the minimum threshold for what we would call a legitimate set of electoral results.

If more than half of eligible voters choose not to vote, doesn’t that make the “winners” on election day … nobody? We would like to see new voting laws, invalidating every election with less than 50% turnout.

Today, a couple of key races in the Democratic primary: register and Congress. For register of voters, Patsy Harris, Scott Pignatelli, and Jody Phillips fight for the seat. Harris has the endorsements of THE PLANET and many others who have experience in and with the courts, particularly as it pertains to land records.

A commenter on THE PLANET says he won’t vote for Harris because she was impolitic to a member of the Fourth of July Parade staff and because she campaigned during wake services of Bousquet’s lat owner, George Jervas. These two charges must be addressed as baseless and, likely, politically motivated.

(1) The Fourth of July Parade. Harris marched in that parade, as do any number of politicians, wanna bes, and would-bes. No crime there. As for the alleged impoliteness of the parade’s volunteer staff, is it not the other way around? It’s no secret that the volunteer parade staff — as vitriolic and political a group that one can find in local politics — are flat out for Phillips. Parade head Peter Marchetti is campaigning for Jody, and where Peter goes, his fawning followers tag along. THE PLANET has been on the receiving end of a lot of bashing from this frustrated volunteer staff, a fact we know by testimony from former volunteers who just couldn’t stand the level of ignorance found there. It’s no stretch for us to see Patsy Harris an unfair target of this group’s bitterness, a group that helped Marchetti the mayoral election and all. It’s also clear that the parade volunteers, likely working under the direction of the Phillips campaign, spread this story about Harris to damage her chances, but it will backfire in a Harris victory tonight. CHARGE DISMISSED. PARADE VOLUNTEER STAFF FOUND GUILTY OF HARASSMENT.

(2) The Jervas wake. We asked Harris about the Jervas wake. Here’s what she says:

“Sherry Roberts, George Jervas’ significant other, offered to place lawn signs on Bousquet’s property.  We did not get right out there, and when George passed away, I decided that we were not going to place lawn signs on that property.”I went to the service at Bousquet because I have personally known George and Sherry for many years.  I have skied there and once I had children, they also learned how to ski at Bousquet.  My family has spent many years enjoying Bousquet.”Someone stated on your site that I was campaigning at this service.  There is absolutely no truth to this statement.  I was there as an attendee just like I would have been even if I was not running for the office of Registry of Deeds.  In fact, if I was not running, I would have been there all day and had a few drinks as well.  I have vowed to not respond to this type of bs on any site and have asked my people to ignore these statements as well.  However, you may feel free to stand up for me once again, as you have done so well in the past.”

THE PLANET passes this along to straighten out the record. VERDICT: NOT GUILTY OF THE CHARGE.

THE PLANET has thus removed these two objections to the Harris campaign.

Voting is today. If this job is about the most qualified person for office, Patsy Harris wins, hands down.

As for the Congressional battle, it’s hard to foresee Andy Nuciforo or Bill Shein overcoming the organization and money of the Richie Neal Machine. We credit both challengers for at least drawing Neal out for a fight, even though he skipped a number of debates.






  1. B. Clairmont
    September 6, 2012 at 9:17 am #


    Just for the record, I believe President Sherman’s response is a reasonable one. I support him in his efforts.

    I repeat for the record, this was not about “politics”, it was about the truth, as we three saw it.

    I know we all will be judged by our actions and not our words, I expect nothing less.


    • taxmano
      September 6, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

      I thought blogs were beneath this arrogant fool.

    • The Kraken
      September 6, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

      Mr. Clairmont,
      If the Ruberto administration had done the same thing, would you 3 have followed the same path? I think not, you would have ‘played politics’ and never questioned it at all. Especially as evidenced by your 2 colleagues constantly approving Ruberto’s bloated budgets without any questions whatsoever.

      • dusty
        September 6, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

        I feel that the Kraken is 100% correct. Maybe more. These three came out of the same mold and may even share genes from ago. Unless voted out they will continue to bedevil the Pittsfield government process. I doubt if any one of them could tell you (without looking it up) what the oath they swore to as councilor says or means.

  2. Frank
    September 6, 2012 at 9:44 am #

    Ms. Harris has an integrity issue and there is nothing you can do to fluff it over.

  3. Jonathan Melle
    September 6, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    I love that not one person, newspaper, blogger, union, or business interest endorsed Andrea Nuciforo for Congress. A few groups endorsed Bill Shein. And many groups endorsed Richie Neal. Nuciforo made a lot of enemies over the last couple of years with his false, negative, and mean-spirited campaigning. Richie Neal took the high road. Bill Shein took the uber-liberal path. I am hoping for a win by Richard Neal today.

    • levitan
      September 7, 2012 at 4:28 am #


      Would it make you a little uncomfortable to know that Nuciforo really did not have a lot at stake in that election? If he gave up a 6 year -give-it-all-away job at the Registry for this pie-in-the-sky run, you can be sure he has better options waiting for him elsewhere.

      You’re just driving yourself mad obsessing over the man.

  4. Jim Gleason
    September 6, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    Dab, this was not a council0Mayor tiff or rift, it was three misfits against the city of Pittsfield.They’ll end up on the Island of Misfit Toys with Herbie the Dentist.

    • Dave
      September 6, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

      Jim, if this IS you, once again you sabotage yourself by not being objective. I would have leaned the same way if all the information were not brought out. I definately do believe that these three councillors are looking for a reason to pounce on this mayor for political reasons, but in this instance I don’t feel that they were wrong for doing so. Check and balance does not only work when you have a differing opinion as the mayor.

  5. Concern
    September 6, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    Wow to listen to all these dems the economy is great and getting better. But just look at the economy bad, bad and worse. Its everyone’s vault but the worse President of all.

    The best one I heard was ” Clinton: A good lawyer defending a guilty client. ” But it was clear as he spoke, that his client was guilty of being a very bad President. Who accomplished very little”

    • Scott
      September 6, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

      The economy is great for the poor and when Romney takes over it will be great for the rich again, can’t we all just get along? If it’s true we now have the most amount of people on transitional assistance then you better get ready for another four years of Democrat if those folks get off their lazy twikie eat’n behinds and cast a vote.

  6. Scott
    September 6, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

    I voted Harris , Tinkerbell, Ham-burglar, Ronald McDonald, Shein and someone else in TB’s space respectively. I voted Harris because I figured she’s already there so what the heck your welcome. TO my disdain I had to pick a side so against my will I chose the lesser of two evils (Democrat) but are they really that less evil? ( I don’t think so but I’m under fifty.) Voter turn out at the Mason building on South St. was 379 when I was there an hour ago. Not good according to the ladies there taking ballots (they loved the kids and encouraged them to take part reading the machine.) There was a very rude older woman after me who didn’t have a second to spare I should have showed disdain as any respectable liberal but I refrained.

    • kevin jennings
      September 6, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

      Thats funny I did the same thing.

      Harris, Shein, Slappy White, Carrot Top, Bruce Bruce and Soupy Sales

      • Scott
        September 7, 2012 at 2:09 am #

        It’s only logical why were the others running solo there’s no one else qualified for the jobs? I’ll never cast a vote for anyone named Capless.

  7. Evian
    September 6, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

    My parents voted for Harris, as did several in my family (I’m out of town and am not registered in Pittsfield). I follow the city and berkshires closely, mainly thru the Planet, which is a great blog…best anywhere I’ve seen for a local job. I applaud Kevin Sherman and the three councilors, especially Barry Clairmont, for bringing this issue to light and now wanting to move forward. I hope the mayor is willing to do the same.

  8. tito
    September 6, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

    Patsy Wins!

  9. tito
    September 6, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    Nuciforo wants his job back.

  10. Larry
    September 6, 2012 at 6:31 pm #

    Little early yet to say who wins?

  11. Larry
    September 6, 2012 at 6:33 pm #

    Maybe not…. It’s 9:30 yet the blog says 6:30….. Is it correct Patsy wins?

  12. taxmano
    September 6, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    Piggy lost Lenox by double digits! Think “Smitty” might be a tad worried about his own skin?

    • Larry
      September 6, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

      Now that’s hogwash for sure!

      • taxmano
        September 6, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

        Lenox Results for Register:

        54% Harris
        5% Phillips
        41% Piggy


        Not hogwash, Larry

        • danvalenti
          September 6, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

          A most interesting result, if these figures are accurate.
          (a) the overwhelming rejection of Phillips.
          (b) a Pignatelli losing by 13% in Lenox.
          The tea-leaf readers will want to transfer this result to the 4th Berkshire race for state rep: Laugenour vs. Pignatelli.

          • Larry
            September 7, 2012 at 5:26 am #

            I don’t believe Scott’s results in Lenox translate to Smitty. In the deeds race people perceived his canadicy to be entitlement. Look at the endorsements from all the former Mayors, Downing, Bowler, etc. People perceived he was running on his name. He certainly didn’t project as being the most qualified.

            Smitty on the other hand is the incumbent and hasn’t done anything to suggest he should be replaced. Voters obviously felt he was qualified for the job when they first elected him…. Is this a wake up call for him? He’ll yes! But does his brothers lost make him more vulnerable? I think not…. While this certainly was an absolute shocker, You cannot even begin to compare one candidacy to the others.

          • danvalenti
            September 7, 2012 at 8:19 am #

            Yes, LARRY, the results are not fully translatable. They do, however, provide a certain gauge. One would have expected, going in, that Scott P would have taken Lenox.

      • levitan
        September 7, 2012 at 4:31 am #

        Sloppy campaign? (Ok, that kills the metaphor.)

        • Larry
          September 7, 2012 at 5:28 am #

          Please excuse the spelling candidacy….

        • taxmano
          September 7, 2012 at 6:14 am #

          With such a poor showing in even Lenox, you have to admit the Piggy machine is coughing, sputtering, and clanging. . .
          BTW, Smitty hasn’t done anything to suggest he SHOULDN’T be replaced. As another writer pointed out, name one piece of legislation he’s written or even sponsored. And remember, he came to power by defeating a very young, even more unqualified Kevin Sherman!
          People are tired of these arrogant, self-serving do-nothings, looking only to get out of the real work of electrical contracting. And the endorsements of ethically challenged GOB like Doyle and Ruberto probably hurt Piggy more than helped him.

          • danvalenti
            September 7, 2012 at 8:18 am #

            The register results will certainly suggest to Smitty that he will be in a race against Laugenour.

  13. Larry
    September 6, 2012 at 8:18 pm #

    Hey dv where are you getting these results