BENNY: TOO POOPED TO POPE … PLANET PREDICTS THE NEXT PONTIFF … BIANCHI: SPEAKING WITH FORKED TONGUE, AND OTHER RHETORICAL OBSERVATIONS … plus … DREAMWEAVER GET THE OK IN LENOX, OR WHAT ARE BASEBALL BATS FOR?
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, FEB. 14, VALENTINE’s DAY, 2014) — Let the epitaph read: ‘Pope Benedict XVI, too pooped to pope.” Depending on who you listen to, he’s either a quitter or a wise man. THE PLANET thinks the latter. Benny took this thankless job when he was 78. At 85 (an old 85), he had the wisdom, maturity, self-knowledge, and honesty to realize the task had moved beyond him, just as the dizzying pace of modernity has left the Church with an identity crisis as it begins deliberations to decide the next Vicar of Christ.
Thus, the Joseph Ratzinger left it to his successor to try his hand at making the Catholic Church a relevant force once again. The Church’s growth is from the Third World. It will be hard for Cardinals not to elect a man from that part of the globe.
The Great Migration
All honesty requires us to observe that in the industrialized, technological West, the Church occupies a realm reserved for Santa Claus, Peter Rabbit, and Shreck the Ogre. The Church will blame the laity for the abandonment, and this is partially true. However, another contributing factor for the migration out has to reside with the Church itself, with its insistence on rules that cannot be obeyed, contraception being one example. U.S. Catholics simply ignore the Church on this one and many others.
No amount of wishful thinking or doctrinaire edicts will change the times (being what they are) and magically transport us into 1958, although that would be nice. If that were the case, we could laze away the next summer’s day at Nichol’s Grove, eating toasted cheese sandwiches and sliding down the water chute.
Peter the Great?
No one, of course, knows the identity of the next successor to Peter. THE PLANET will go out on a mitre and say it will be another Peter — Cardinal Peter Turkson, 64, of Ghana. The time appears ripe for a Third World pontiff.
PARSING BIANCHI’S COMMENTS: READING BETWEEN THE WHITE LINES
You can’t spell “Valentine” without “Valenti,” and you can’t spell “Hi, Ban!” in honor of the martial-law driving ban without “Bianchi.” Happy Valentine’s Day!
THE PLANET has been riding the mayor over his handling of the white stuff, and before that on other matters, because this is an election year, and, assuming that he’s running again, everything he says, does, thinks, and omits will have a political purpose. Consequently, because he will have political intentions behind every muscle and memory movement, a parsing of his every action is required. Remember, if you leave these guys alone, they will try to screw you every single time.
Before All Else, a Pol
Dan Bianchi is, above all else, a politician. Make of that what you will. He certainly is not a leader. He’s a man more suited to the public duties of ward councilor. As mayor, he has been a dud.
In Bianchi’s first 13 months, he has yet to assert himself as a leader. When the school committee, of which he is a member, put committeeman Terry Kinnas on a trumped-up trial, Bianchi conveniently took a powder. He wasn’t in the building when the committee did its dirty work. After that, he has yet to take a stance on Kinnas Kangaroo Kourt. That is the opposite of Profiles in Courage. It’s more like Calculations in Cowardice. When Contractgate essentially gave a free house to the secretary of Frank “Free House” Cote, Bianchi said nothing and did nothing.
Bianchi has yet to introduce any major initiative that one could call his own, unlike Jimmy Ruberto (Arts II), Sara Hathaway (Arts I), or Gerry Doyle (GE Consent Agreement) When he hasn’t been blaming his predecessor for the mess he says he has inherited, he’s been treading water on projects in the pipeline before he took over (e.g., the Taconic High School project, the 90% reading initiative for third graders, art festivals [10x10], and PEDA expansion) and will proceed on their own internal momentum.
Here are some of Bianchi’s quotes, taken in order, from an an otherwise puff-piece interview he gave to Bera Dunau, staff writer for The Berkshire Beacon, the free news weekly published from Lenox.
* “This [first] year [in office] was meeting with an awful lot of people, a lot of organizations, giving people the opportunity to get to know me. [I] never said no to anyone who came in. We just talked to hundreds and hundreds of people.” — TRANSLATION: “I like every other sniveling pol. I want everyone to love me, all the time.”
(2) “I guess the surprising thing is the number of people who really wanna see their mayor and know their mayor. I’m appreciative of the fact that … anybody’s problem … you should never minimize it.” — TRANSLATION: “See, they love me! See, they love love love me!”
(3) Bianchi, on “his proudest achievement” says [Dunau's words] “it was getting on the right track to economic development initiatives. In particular, he noted the expansion of the PEDA board from seven to 11 members.” Now quoting Bianchi: “Nuclea [Biotechnologies] is a great first start. I’m looking at that as a pathway to the broader life sciences industry.” — TRANSLATION: This is campaign delusion of the First Rank. Bianchi cites his “proudest achievement” as adding to the PEDA bureaucracy by four warm bodies. Then he mentions Nuclea, a controversial company that brings to mind EV Worldwide and Workshop Live!. What are the odds that Bianchi, and Pittsfield, will regret the day he made a deal with Nuclea?
* Bianchi says his biggest disappointment [Dunau's words] “was coming into office and finding that the planning for the new Career Technical and Vocational High School was far behind where he’d like to see it.” — TRANSLATION: “It’s Jim Ruberto‘s fault.”
* “I really want to make sure that the existing small businesses here in the community have what they need to be able to grow.” — TRANSLATION: “We did that by raising their their taxes again.”
* “I think we have a real strong arts scene, and I really hope am hopeful that we will continue.” —TRANSLATION: “I don’t give a hoot about the arts. I am really hopeful that we will drop them.”
* “One of the goals that I think should be the goal of the mayor’s office is to cultivate the leaders of tomorrow.” — TRANSLATION: “I’m not going to win re-election. I’m paving the way for my successor. I just did this for me pension.”
DREAMWEAVER GETS THE OK IN LENOX
Just to update the story of Sam Kasten Handweaver, Lenox building inspector Bill Thornton saw the light after THE PLANET’s report, and he’s now doing the backstroke.
David Ward, Lenox Commons developer, has confirmed that Thornton has listened to reason. THE PLANET will not speculate on what caused Thornton’s sudden conversion, though we have our ideas. An offer he couldn’t refuse? We cannot say. All we know is there are still uses on and off of baseball diamonds for wooden bats — though for sure not in this case.
Ward says the dreamweaver will be open by the coming of March.
Flowing with music of their strange quick tongue / And adventuring with delicate paces by the stream, / Myself a child, old suddenly at the scream / From one of the white throats which it hid among? — John Crowe Ransom
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.