PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 5, 2012) — A couple of quick points before launching into topics du jour.

First, tomorrow is election day. It’s extremely odd it should fall on a Thursday, and we shall see how this affects turnout. The two key races are the Democratic primaries for register of deeds (Harris, Pignatelli, Phillips) and Congress (Shein, Nuciforo, Neal). THE PLANET has endorsed Harris and Shein.

Second, THE PLANET has had an interesting and informative exchange with city council president, my Right Honorable Good Friend, Kevin Sherman, about the test of leadership presented by the council-mayoral battle over Spectrum Health Systems. We shall post that tomorrow.


THE PLANET recently published a tribute to

JOHNNY PESKY (22): “Lemme at-im!”

Mr. Red Sox, the late and great Johnny Pesky. Many of the tributes to Pesky stressed his gentlemanliness, but there was another side of Pesky that could be seen in the diamond, in the heat of play. As a player and later as a manager, Pesky could mix it up with the best of them, and he was never better — or more forceful — when sticking up for his players.

THE PLANET found this picture while fishing on the the net. The photo dates from 1961, when Pesky managed Boston’s Triple A ball club in Seattle, then known as the Raniers. We see Pesky (22) having to be restrained from going after Eddie Fisher, the pitcher for the other team. In the background to the left, you can see the startled look on the face of Dick Radatz, who, a year later, would move up to Boston and become the dominant relief pitcher in baseball.

We got a kick out of this picture and thought you would, too.



O Lenox, O Lenox, how THE PLANET longed to take you under our wing. But no, you had to sell out for the cheap dollar, ruin the Pittsfield-Lenox Road with the worst kind of suburban strip-mall development, and elect a series of scared, unimaginative town officials noted for catering to rich out-of-towners and ignoring your full-time residents.


Your disease, fortunately, has not spread south to Stockbridge, and though every once in a while Great Barrington suffers from a little of the R&R disease, they have pretty much managed to keep it in check. Pittsfield, which has tried hard to succumb to your illness, is oddly enough protected with a form of immunity that derives from an even greater official incompetence than you have.

THE PLANET notes as a case in point the ignorantly hopeful comments of Board of Selectman chairman Ken Fowler, who had to scold citizens from actually using the “open mic” portion of town meetings, for speaking their minds. Fowler loves democracy, but he’s not a fanatic about it.

The forum is “designed so people can come in and make a comment on something that isn’t on the agenda. Typically, we will listen to what people have to say. Sometimes, people get the idea that it is something that can turn into a major portion of the meeting, but it’s not.” Whether he decides as chair to allow someone to speak is “entirely up to the board.” That is, it’s entirely up to Fowler.

“Amen,” said his toadie, selectman David Roche. We didn’t know he was religious, a state that characterizes the ignorant when they try to explain unknowable (Bierce).

A close examination of Lord Fowler’s words shows how threatened he and the board have become of local input. His words convey the following points:

* The board sometimes does not, and will not, listen to what people have to say.

* Free speech at town assemblies must be limited to what pleases the Selectmen.

* Lord Fowler will shut you up if he deigns.

THE PLANET understands the need for local boards and bodies to maintain order, but when it comes to citizen participation, the default position should be throttle wide open. Say what you want.

Lord Fowler, in his role of acting as Manor Boss, seems he lost his self-control at a recent town meeting when citizens wanted to discuss pedestrian-crosswalk safety. The discussion became full throated and hot.

That is how democracy should be, Lord Fowler. The sanitized version you apparently want is better known as Tyranny’s first stage.



The Town of Lenox, by the way, doesn’t want entertainers or street performers of the kind you see at Quincy market in Boston, Burlington, Vt., or Newburyport, Mass. It wants to keeps its clowns, actors, jugglers, and living statues confined to the Selected Board.

You can’t make this stuff up. The board entertained a request from “human robot,” Ms. S, for the OK to stand on public byways and perform. She performs dressed in all white, standing on a small pedestal, with a tips jar in front of her. The Selectmen weren’t favorable to her request. Ken Fowler blasted street performers. What he really means is that he doesn’t want competition from Hagenah as a “human robot” or “living statue.”

Fowler told citizens: “The random mime on any given day, on any given street, is problematic,” though he didn’t say how or why. He didn’t outline the great harm and permanent brain damage that would befall citizens who, as they trudge about their business in downtown Lenox if they should run into an unexpected bit of levity. Fowler, we hear, fears that too many smiles might ruin the town for the second homeowners. THE PLANET also hears that Fowler will be introducing a measure to ban all smiling within town limits, though we have not confirmed that.

R2D2 John McNinch, another robotic selectman, said he didn’t know that he is opposed to Ms. S. If he doesn’t we sure don’t know who would tell him that. Perhaps C3PO. Roche is “against the tips jar. We can’t do this,” he said. “You start down the slippery slope of having entertainers on the street for money, and I think you’ll live to regret it.” Being “against tips jars” is a way of telling starving artists to go f*** themselves.”

No, R2D2, what people regret is a programmed and unimaginative response to a fun request by a person who wants to enliven your moribund little town. Citizens also regret town officials who speak in cliches (“slippery slope” … “you’ll live to regret it”) rather than use their own words. Of course, that implies that the person speaking has his or her  own words, something that evidently is not the case in this instance.

Fortunately, there are signs of intelligent life on the Lenox select board. Selectwoman Channing Gibson said she didn’t see anything wrong with Hagenah’s request: “It’s good to have life in town and the sidewalks. … It livens up the place.”

THE PLANET hope NASA will launch a probe to the unchartered wastes to full determine the extent of intelligent life on the Lenox town board. Like the search for water on Mars, it’s likely to come up dry.



Finally, we present yet another Lenox item. Long-time public works superintendent Jeff Vincent is quitting his post.

Ken Fowler, board chairman, said “It’s going to be tough not to have Jeff on my speed-dial.”

“Hey, Ralphie Boy!”

Somehow, we think Fowler will find a way to cope.

Actually, Vincent, 62, will continue dipping into the public trough, transitioning into a manager’s job, overseeing the town’s upcoming $10 million sewer project.

In case you haven’t heard, Lenox is upgrading its sewer system. As part of the project, the offices of town manager Greg Federspiel and Mime Fowler will be located down below, in the Art Carney wing of the system.






  1. Levitan
    September 5, 2012 at 9:40 am #

    Well, did you catch Hegenah’s response to the tip jar challenge? “I’m not a busker. I’m an artist”

    That response reminds me of Joseph Heller’s choice satire in Catch-22, “It’s a terrible thing to treat a decent, loyal Indian like a nigger, kike, wop, or spic”

    (Pardon the slurs)

  2. Levitan
    September 5, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    Also, a true passionate argument and a reason to vote here.

  3. Kevin
    September 5, 2012 at 10:06 am #

    I think Mime’s are creepy and should be band outright!! But I get the point.

    • Dave
      September 5, 2012 at 10:46 am #

      “band”- Lord help us!

  4. Kevin
    September 5, 2012 at 11:00 am #

    Geez word police “Banned” Do not waste the Lords time, I fixed it.

  5. Sal Bando
    September 5, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    FROM February Planet…..


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

      And your point is, Sal?

      • Scott
        September 6, 2012 at 6:02 am #

        You’re not allowed to change your mind due to developing facts.

        • Levitan
          September 6, 2012 at 6:14 am #

          That is patently false.

          One should change one’s mind with developing facts. Even better, one delays making up one’s mind, but that runs counter to the driving force of Necessity.

          • danvalenti
            September 6, 2012 at 8:24 am #

            I agree, LEV. Often times on stories, you get a preliminary set of “facts.” As the situation develops, you learn more. Changing facts can often require changing positions.

  6. Ron Kitterman
    September 5, 2012 at 11:46 am #

    I would like to take this opportunity to enthusiastically endorse Mike Case for the office of Governor’s Council. I’ve know Mike since he was a student at Allendale Elementary School before they started dumping PCB’s next to the monkey bars in back of the school, back when JFK was the Prez and ground beef was .59 cents a pound. I am proud to have served with him in the National Guard and Pittsfield Police Department. It seems the only issue in the race on the Republican side, is whether you show up for jury duty or support the fatherhood coalition. He served as a selectmen from the town of Washington
    ( without pay ) and was recently elected as Republican State Committeeman. He’s a Coltsville guy but hopefully you’ll give him some serious consideration if you pick up a Republican ballot tomorrow. I like Mike….

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

      MIKE’s a good guy. Solid, with good values. Speaks his mind, with a lot of common sense. THE PLANET like’s Kie for guv’s council.

      • Spectator
        September 6, 2012 at 7:39 am #

        I presume that the apostrophe you add to the word like, is a typo?

  7. Jonathan Melle
    September 5, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    I hope that Congressman Richard Neal wins re-election, and Bill Shein finishes 2nd, and Andrea Nuciforo finishes 3rd. If I lived in the Pittsfield area instead of Amherst, NH, I would NOT vote for Scott Pignatelli because his brother Smitty Pignatelli refused to sign my nomination papers and blocks all of my emails to him. I think it is going to come down between the two ladies in the race.

    • Joe Blow
      September 5, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

      Like I said before,I’m not a fan of him but he isn’t obligated to sign your papers!

      • Jonathan Melle
        September 5, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

        I am happy that Smitty Pignatelli, Peter Larkin, Daniel Bosley, Carmen Massimiano, et al, refused to sign my nomination papers. I am NOT a Good Old Boy political hack like they all are. I was fooled by Jimmy Ruberto back in 2003. He turned out to be like the rest of them. I can’t even email Pignatelli. He dislikes me more than I disagree with his politics.

  8. Beacon Hill Mob
    September 5, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    Sorry to see Jeff Vincent go, let’s hope we don’t get another useless Federspiel in his place.

  9. Scott
    September 5, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    I’m voting Shein. His page says a lot of good but does he really mean it? He’s a local guy who doesn’t need the money sounds like he’s in it for the right reason.

  10. dusty
    September 5, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

    Somebody wants Jody Phillips in real bad. Where did all the money being poured into her effort come from? Holy ship!!

    Non stop radio…people on every corner with signs…hundreds of lawn signs… it safe to say that no one ever spent anywhere near this amount of money and effort to get this office? Reminds me of when Ruberto broke the bank getting elected as mayor. and we know how that turned out. Any body else curious as to who is bank rolling this machine?

    • Larry
      September 5, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

      Im not so sure $he’s spending more than $cott and Pat$y…. This job pays a $hitload of money plu$ retirement and benefits! Better yet for the winner, they have no time clock$ to punch in the morning like the rest of us!

      Of course the three are going to pull out ALL stops to win the Massachusetts Taxpayers $weepstakes! Guaranteed winnings for $ix years… No $trings attached!

      • Larry
        September 5, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

        I’m contemplating running myself…… the thought of this political welfare we have going on here is going to make me shit myself!

      • dusty
        September 6, 2012 at 1:11 am #

        i think it had to cost that much just for the signs. It seems every GOB has- been in the city is endorsing her. This by itself tells you where her life line is based.

    • Matt
      September 6, 2012 at 1:06 am #

      Jody wrote a check to her campaign for $2500. I went to see who was really endorsing the candidates and she is pumping the money into her campaign.

    • smh
      September 6, 2012 at 2:56 am #

      Not sure, but guessing you could probably buy a heaping pile of lawn signs for the cost of just one billboard.

  11. JerryPosner
    September 5, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    Bill Shein has my vote,

    • danvalenti
      September 5, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

      Yes, he is the true outsider and breath of fresh air in this race.

  12. skier1
    September 5, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    A few points:
    Channing Gibson (he) is asking some much needed questions in Lenox.
    How much will the new position be paying Jeff Vincent? Why can’t Jeff have an Assistant to pick up the slack and not create a new position? Please stop spending my hard earned tax dollars! Also couldn’t the Town Manager help oversee some of the planning? Isn’t that his job?
    Shein is a breath of fresh air!

    • Beacon Hill Mob
      September 5, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

      Town Mis-manger has been useless since day 1, why screw up a bad thing after all this time?

    • Larry
      September 5, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

      hello Skier1,

      You are doing nothing but ripping Harris on the BB blogs and this last post is a little sour too! Lets hear something positive from you for a change! Who are you for in the registers race and whats the compelling reason for supporting him/her?

      Give us some fresh air and say something positive for a change! Im looking for the right candidate for the registry position… Who is it?

      • Matt
        September 5, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

        Larry, to me and most (Eagle, Beacon, attorneys, paralegals, land surveyors, DV, and the local unions) the logical candidate is Harris! The legal community has come out in droves to support Harris, it just doesn’t feel right to not give the lawyers the candidate that they want since they are really the ones who would have to use the office daily and deal with the register.

        • Larry
          September 5, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

          I believe that could be my choice as well Matt

        • danvalenti
          September 5, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

          The testimony of attorneys and those familiar with the office played a large part in our endorsement of Patsy.

      • skier1
        September 5, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

        I said Bill Shein is a breath of fresh air, Channing is asking good questions. These ARE positive things. I give credit where credit is due. Both Phillips and Pignatelli did a great job running positive campaigns. As I have stated in the past, I had heard a few good things about Patsy but her credibility went south when she violated longtime parade rules by jumping on a fire truck and advertising herself in the parade. Then she and her sidekicks bad mouthed an all volunteer parade committee.
        But the worst was handing out her cards at Bousquets at a reception after a memorial service for owner and longtime friend of mine George Jervas. This was appalling to watch. By all means if you think this type of behavior is appropriate vote for her. Some of us that saw this were DISGUSTED!
        Anybody who does something like this has no integrity, isn’t ready for a management position and shouldn’t be responsible for handling valuable documents.

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

        Fair point, Larry. It’s one thing to be against two candidates, but what about the candidate to whom you lend support?

        • skier1
          September 5, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

          Jody Phillips!!!

          And yes Dan asking questions is the only way to find things out (provided you’re given a straight answer)!

    • danvalenti
      September 5, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

      I don’t know Channing but I like the way this person asks questions. Questions are good!

  13. Larry
    September 5, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

    Well skier1,

    You have yet to reveal your candidate… Who is it? Why is YOUR choice… YOUR choice for the job? Thus far I’ve felt DV has been on the right track on this one.

    As I stated before, I’m not totally convinced which one should win The Mass Taxpayers Bonanza Sweepstakes! Who to vote for here, anyone? Is there a compelling answer out there?

  14. Larry
    September 5, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    Got it…. Why not Scott?

    September 5, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

    You know your in trouble when you let an ex that talked bad about you all year, then comes in to defend your almost 4 years of ruining this country. What a joke this President is. All you have to do i check, unemployment, gas prices, and on and on

    • dusty
      September 6, 2012 at 1:14 am #

      I think Obama’s heart is in the right place. I doubt if Romney even has one.

  16. Hilly Billy in Ward 4
    September 6, 2012 at 3:58 am #

    I’m endorsing and voting for Bill Shein for Congress and still haven’t made up my mind on the Deeds race…..Scotty made a good case for himself, Pattsy seems qualified as far as knowing the office goes…I just will have to wait and see I guess

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

      You can’t possibly feel good about voting for any of those characters for Register of Deeds. Write in Mickey Mouse.

  17. Ron Kitterman
    September 6, 2012 at 4:13 am #

    You know Obama is lying when he studders Ah Ah Ahhhh, You know Bill is lying when he wags his finger at you.

  18. Elizabeth
    September 6, 2012 at 4:25 am #

    Dusty…it’s comments like that, that show ignorance. You think obama’s heart is in the right place??? Really? Why…because he can talk a dog off a meat truck? If you want, I’ll give you sixteen trillion reasons why not to vote for him.

  19. Larry
    September 6, 2012 at 5:41 am #

    Hey Dan. What’s with picking on poor Lenox. Every town has their quirks about them. The way Stockbridge handled Louis Peyrons dismissal after decades of dedication as longtime fire chief and policeman didn’t seem appropriate. I believe I can also recall a certain janitor and head of emergency services getting some press for lurking in the basement with children at what is now town hall.

    Certainly no town is exempt from these types of things occurring and Lenox has gone through an exceptionally big patch of shit, but it shouldn’t project on the entire population what a handful of idiots do!

    • danvalenti
      September 6, 2012 at 8:25 am #

      How right you are. Every town has their quicks, and nowhere have I stated otherwise. In fact, THE PLANET writes on behalf of “the entire population” by showing what the “handful” are doing. We are for THE PEOPLE.

      • Larry
        September 6, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

        Agreed Dan… Great blog you have here, no doubt! Certainly more informative than our local daily newspaper!


  20. Levitan
    September 6, 2012 at 6:17 am #

    Today’s Ballot recommendation.


    Congress: Shein: he is running for office. Others are careerists.
    Deeds: mreatfirstasklater: I don’t know what that is, but it is not one of the three bureacrats trying to dive into nobility. Check out todays Gazette, the three are in profile and they look exactly like three toads.

    Everyone else: if not in office now, they get a check.

    Hope that helps!