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.



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 [10×10], 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.”



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




  1. Scott
    February 14, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    Notice how locally it’s all about growth. The industrial revolution is over we can’t get any bigger time to start thinking about sustaining.

  2. Still wondering
    February 14, 2013 at 10:42 am #

    I would be very surprised if the next Pope is not a european.

  3. Ron Kitterman
    February 14, 2013 at 10:53 am #

    From the words of Peter G. Arlos, “ Controversy drives the casual voter away “

  4. In the know
    February 14, 2013 at 10:56 am #

    Not that I care(non practicing Catholic) but I don’t see them electing a black Pope yet.

  5. Joe Blow
    February 14, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

    NUCLEA Bio… that the company who’s CEO has a ever changing set of academic credentials?

    • Paul Smith
      February 14, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

      Yes I think thats the one. And Thats just the tip of the iceberg.

    • Ed
      February 14, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

      Ron, can you explain the commercial side of genomics and Nuclea ? Is it solely a research firm drawing only upon grants and equity funding or does it derive a revenue stream by selling its services to health institutions or diagnostic entities within the private sector ? Just curious as to any upside it may have in local economic development, job creation, tax contribution, etc. Nuclea is now leasing space in what was Peda’s office, and Nuclea appears to be central to Peda’s goals and strategy, especially in the life science initiative.
      How many are currently employed by Nuclea in Pittsfield ?
      Thanks and I thought you may know.

  6. Jonathan Melle
    February 14, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

    The Catholic Church should not be against abortion, birth control, sex education, same sex marriage, women Priests. I dislike Conservative Cultural Catholicism! The Pedophile Priests are a case study in moral hypocrisy.
    As for Mayor Dan Bianchi, he should not compromise with the Good Old Boy network that runs Pittsfield politics. They don’t like him because Bianchi doesn’t serve their agenda. What have the past couple of Mayors done? Gerry Doyle bankruped the city government, signed a flawed Consent Decree, and was the poster child for the Good Old Boy network. Sara Hathaway fought with everyone except Nuciforo. The power went to her head and it hasn’t left since her one-term as Mayor of Pittsfield. Jimmy Ruberto was another Good Old Boy Pittsfield politician whose idea of economic development was to spend many millions of taxpayer dollars on a dead downtown that most people avoid.

  7. joetaxpayer
    February 14, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

    My money’s on Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco as the next Pope. Wonder what the Vegas odds are for this?

  8. tito
    February 14, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

    I was thinking Gerry Doyle, for Pope.

  9. Clarence Darrow
    February 14, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

    How about a guy named Lou from Queens?

  10. danvalenti
    February 14, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

    I’m free. I’m Catholic. I’m male. Oddly enough, that’s all the requirement one needs, technically, to be named Tony Soprano of the Holy See.

  11. rivetor
    February 14, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    Forget running for mayor, Dan. “Valenti for Pope!”

    • dusty
      February 14, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

      Trying to picture Dan in that pope hat…doing the election returns

  12. tito
    February 14, 2013 at 7:02 pm #

    Swamp People on channel 39 new season, be there..for The Planet Entertainment, this has been Tito.

  13. Giacometti
    February 15, 2013 at 3:40 am #

    What about Giacometti for Pope….it’sa in my blood

  14. Ron Kitterman
    February 15, 2013 at 6:57 am #

    @Ed Nuclea Biothnologies started about 2 ½ years ago under the Ruberto administration. They are a quasi-public agency currently renting space in its 3,200-square-foot building on Kellogg Street, formerly housed on Elm Street and South Street before moving to the PEDA site. They operate with between 14 to 16 employees and promised by the end of 2010 to add 15 new employees. The real growth in the employees seems to be the addition from 7 to 11 board members. Employment prospects of new high-paying jobs with well-skilled employees are always welcome to Pittsfield or any other community.

    • rivetor
      February 15, 2013 at 8:05 am #

      Sounds like the same ol razzle dazzle, Ron and Ed. Big promises, quasi-private-public, growth means adding to bureaucracy. Smells fishy.

  15. joetaxpayer
    February 15, 2013 at 10:25 am #

    To bad Obama is not Catholic, he can already walk on water. He would have made a great Pope.

    • danvalenti
      February 15, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

      Nice one, Joe The T!