PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, MAY 15, , 2013) — Since nominations papers for municipal offices in Pittsfield’s upcoming elections were made available, there has been what THE PLANET might call, in an oxymoronic way, languorous action.

Here is the list of people who have taken out nomination papers so far:

Mayor: none

City Clerk: Linda M. Tyer (86 Ventura Avenue)

Council At Large:

Edward J. Carmel (99 Second Street, Apt. 109)
Barry J. Clairmont (12 Lillybrook Road)
Churchill Cotton (15 Donovan Street)
Mark C. Miller (300 Williams Street)

Ward 1 Councilor

Tammy Ives (62 Sadler Avenue)
Lisa I. Tully (58 Oak Hill Road)

Ward 2 Councilor Kevin J. Morandi (19 South Carolina Avenue)

Ward 3 Councilor Paul J. Capitanio (106 Parkside Avenue)

Ward 4 Councilor Christopher J. Connell (105 Dawes Avenue)

Ward 5 Councilor Jonathan N. Lothrop (18 Willow Lane)

Ward 6 Councilor Joseph C. Nichols (39 Cascade Street)

School Committee

Alfred E. Barbalunga (32 Brookside Drive)
Daniel C. Elias (201 Mohegan Street)

—– 00 —–

As we said, these first two weeks of a long campaign season have exuded torpor. Allow a few observations:

* No one has yet declared for mayor. Dan Bianchi likely is waiting to see who, if anyone, emerges to oppose him. As the incumbent, he can afford to wait a couple of months, if he chooses, and then hit the ground running somewhere after the Fourth of July parade and the Greek Fest in August.

* As we thought, Kevin Sherman announcement that he will not be up for re-election has opened the at-large field, with two newcomers taking out papers early to go along with the incumbents Barry Clairmont and Churchill Cotton. There will likely be several (and perhaps many) more names in the at-large field for the September preliminary election before the filing deadline.

* It’s interesting to note that in Wards 2 through 6 inclusively, the incumbents wanted to get in early, perhaps to scare off any would-be opponents. Chris Yon in Ward 1 and Tony Simonelli in 7 have yet to move. Does this indicate anything more than waiting? It would not surprise THE PLANET to see Yon bow out. She seems to be tiring of being in the same cage as the political animals.

* THE PLANET hopes the school committee race draws plenty of new faces. Thus far, no.

THE PLANET recently solicited a few remarks from Pittsfield city clerk Linda Tyer about the nascent days of Campaign ’13.

We asked her to characterize the action thus far: “So far it’s been quiet in terms of people requesting nomination papers,” Tyer said. “But it’s early.  It’s difficult to know at this point what’s motivating or not motivating interest.  In my experience it’s more complex than just one or two things. Also, it’s really two separate things, in my opinion.

So what motivates a person to seek elected office, we asked?  “Many factors go into a person’s decision,” Tyer said. ” In some cases, it’s dissatisfaction with the current direction of public policy.  Sometimes it’s a desire to support the current vision.  Other times a person wishes to be engaged in community decision making or has a particular issue that they want to promote.  Of course other factors like experience, knowledge, availability, and family support are part of the personal decision to run for office.”

She goes on: “The second question is what activates voters?  Voters become more and more energized if there is a robust campaign with many points of view being represented and when all the issues facing the community are thoroughly debated.  Candidates’ likeability, persuasiveness, and vision also attract voter attention.  This year in particular, we have the potential for a very important ballot question — a new charter — that could inspire heated debate and motivate voter turn-out. Finally, always behind the scenes are the political alliances that have been formed among people who share a common political philosophy or vision or enemy or friend.  Political alliances factor into both of the above questions – candidate motivation and voter motivation.”

For those keeping score at home, Pittsfield has 27,897 voters. This number fluctuates almost daily although not by huge swings.

One of Tyer’s statements stands out: “Voters become more and more energized if there is a robust campaign with many points of view being represented and when all the issues facing the community are thoroughly debated.” THE PLANET agrees. Applying this to the marquee office of mayor, all the more reason to hope a legitimate candidate emerges to challenge the incumbent. Although Bianchi has not taken out papers, all indicators point to it being a matter of when and not if. It would be a shame if he does not face legitimate opposition — by that, we mean a challenger or two (or more) who will do more than simply run a protest campaign. A legitimate challenge will be one that puts forth a capable candidate who has enough money and organization to compete against someone who will have plenty of both.

THE PLANET is tired of the usual gaggle of “candidates” who take out papers for mayor, get on the ballot, and do not campaign and don’t raise money. Such candidacies tend to clog campaigns, limit the in-depth discussion of issues, and serve little purpose other than provide 15 minutes of local fame.

We would like to see a candidate who has money, knows how to spend it, can talk on an impromptu basis, has command of the issues, and can light a keg of dynamite during a debate.

Speaking of druthers, we would also like to see many new faces, representing something other than the tired and costly Status Quo philosophy we’ve seen from the incumbents, running for school committee. This is where the action is. The school committee will control between $90 million and $100 million of the city’s budget. That should be sexy enough, and yet, year after year, only the insiders apply. Last time, the race got stood on its head by Terry Kinnas. We hope there are other like him who will step forward for, heaven forbid, actually look out for the taxpayers rather than the Vested Interests.

Is anyone out there?

We need Revolution.


“Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her, / And tempted her out of her gloom — / And conquered her scruples and gloom; / And we passed to the end of the vista, / But were stopped by the door of a tomb — / By the door of a legended tomb; / And I said, “What is written, sweet sister, / On the door of this legended tomb?” / She replied, “Ulalume! Ulalume! / Tis the vault of thy lost Ulalume!” — Edgar Allan Poe, from “Ulalume — A Ballad”





  1. The Kraken
    May 15, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    Dan, are you going to be taking out nomination papers for mayor?

    • danvalenti
      May 16, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

      The honest answer? Haven’t made up my mind yet.

  2. In the know
    May 15, 2013 at 10:38 am #

    They don’t allow Stockbridge residents run for office in Pittsfield

    • danvalenti
      May 16, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

      Obviously, should I run, I would naturally become (and be) “a Pittsfield resident.”

  3. Jonathan Melle
    May 15, 2013 at 11:05 am #

    I hope that Pam Malumphy runs for Pittsfield City Council. She is very intelligent and will help the struggling local economy. She would be an anti-Good Old Boy Pittsfield politician, too.

    • Still wondering
      May 15, 2013 at 12:23 pm #

      Written by a guy who can’t vote for her…

      • Jonathan Melle
        May 15, 2013 at 1:22 pm #

        I grew up in Pittsfield, but my family and I live in Amherst, New Hampshire now. I still like to follow Pittsfield politics on my computer by reading the Berkshire Eagle online and Dan Valenti’s blog. I don’t like the Good Old Boy network that runs Pittsfield politics. I dislike former Mayor Jimmy Ruberto, former Sheriff Carmen Massimiano, for political hack Andrea Nuciforo, and other Good Old Boys.

        • billy
          May 16, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

          Are you kidding me Mr Melle you call those guys good old boys? Mayor Bianchi used to rail the same bulls***. as you are right now. what has changed? one set of good old boys is replaced by another.The sheriff is good friends with the mayor so much so that his sister Donna Matoon worked as his top dog. so all you blow hards put that one to bed.

  4. Shakes His Head
    May 15, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    Pummelin’ Pam really going to go and lose another election??? HAHAHAHAHA

    • danvalenti
      May 16, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

      Well, she’s 0-for-her-last-5.

  5. Ron Kitterman
    May 15, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

    I think you are counting Joe Nichols as an incumbent ? Mr, Krol is the incumbent ? Although Joe Nichols would be a good choice for ward to bring back…

    • In the know
      May 16, 2013 at 10:51 am #

      Joe Nichols? Where’s he been for the last year and a half?

  6. Mark Smith
    May 15, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

    Maybe the revolution has already started

    • danvalenti
      May 16, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

      One can only hope, MARK.

  7. Mike R
    May 15, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

    Dan, I can only hope your writing will inspire a mayoral candidate as characterized to standup and take on the topics that we “Krapinski’s” endure. I fear that the apparent lack of interest in pursuing the job of mayor is representative of the citizen’s sense of submission to the GOB. The corruption must end. Viva la Revolucion!

    • danvalenti
      May 16, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

      MIKE R
      Many thanks. I am hoping for the same.

  8. Giacometti
    May 15, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

    Mark Miller is the only candidate I can see who has an honest approach to government. He has my support and my vote.

  9. dusty
    May 16, 2013 at 12:21 am #

    Yon was going door to door a few weeks ago handing out literature with her letterhead taking credit for the coming road repaving in her ward. Looks like campaign material to me.

    I think the GOB is holding back their candidates so that their potential opponents will have less time to point out their political connections. I mean if you were going to run someone like Gerry Doyle for instance, you would not want to drag him out on the stage till the last minute because you would not want his baggage trotted out for all to ponder.

    • billy
      May 16, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

      Baggage?, Joe Nichols voted against everything mayor Ruberto ever put up until he tried to run for mayor .then he voted for the school budget.I watched the meeting he looked like the court jester even making a joke about it. It felt like a slow motion train wreck..I didn’t wanna look but i couldn’t take my eyes off it..I dont want a town clown, i want effective leadership that can work and solve big problems and from what i saw he s in the same camp as pummelin Pam.

  10. C. Trzcinka
    May 16, 2013 at 8:08 am #

    “We would like to see a candidate who has money, knows how to spend it, can talk on an impromptu basis, has command of the issues, and can light a keg of dynamite during a debate.”

    Why? Of course this would be nice to have, but why does any government need anything other than competent, honest people? To light a keg of dynamite, somebody needs to be a dynamite person which, is not common in local government where there is little upside.

    • danvalenti
      May 16, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

      Exactly, CHUCK. The race will need “a dynamite person” or else Pittsfield will be doomed to aspire, at best, to a mediocrity by attrition. At worst, we shall not ponder.

  11. GMHeller
    May 16, 2013 at 8:17 am #

    Funny how Liberal Mark Miller is so desperate to run for office and tell others how to do things when he couldn’t even manage The Berkshire Eagle which was handed to him on a silver platter.

    • Still wondering
      May 16, 2013 at 8:24 am #

      You are right about that Glen. Besides, ultra-liberals like Mark have little in common with local politics. It’s potholes and budgets mostly. Uninspiring stuff for those who have their heads in the clouds.

  12. Jonathan Melle
    May 16, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    Whoever runs for Mayor, stop raising taxes above the inflation rate every single year. Stop spending millions of dollars on North Street revitalization. Stop the Good Old Boy network that runs Pittsfield politics.

  13. joetaxpayer
    May 16, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    Hate to be negative, but regardless of who wins next election Pittsfield will stay the same. Tax and spend, must maintain the level of service that the people of this fine City are accustom to.What a line of $hit. Hope I am wrong.

    • danvalenti
      May 16, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

      You will not be wrong if we get a “usual suspects” lineup of candidates.

  14. GMHeller
    May 16, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    Mr. Valenti:
    This is off-topic but because of it’s front page news at the BB bears scrutiny.
    The Berkshire Eagle is eager to jump on a soapbox to further a political agenda, but where is the reportage on the specific circumstances leading up to Marine Corps veteran Edward S. Passetto’s death.
    For example, was there a suicide note?
    What did it say?
    What events transpired to cause a member of Mr. Passeto’s family to contact police at 5 AM to report Passetto missing?
    What transpired to cause Mr. Passetto’s marriage to unravel?
    Did Passetto suddenly abandon his wife and 3-year-old daughter or does the wife bear any responsibility for abandoning her husband in his time of need?
    (What happened to “… in sickness and in health”?)
    What was the rest of Passetto’s family doing to help him through his difficulties?
    There are just too many unanswered questions here for the The Eagle to be blaming government programs and pushing a political point-of-view.

    • In the know
      May 16, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

      Heller. I don’t think it’s none of your business what his note said or what went wrong in his marriage [REDACTED: THE WRITER IS WARNED AGAINST PUERILE NAME CALLING]

      • GMHeller
        May 16, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

        ITK, it’s everyone’s business when The Berkshire Eagle uses a poor fellow’s personal demons as a soapbox to push for a Liberal anti-war political agenda.
        Passetto’s suicide might certainly have been tied to his inability to get action on his applications for veteran’s aid, but it’s just as likely that there were other more pressing matters.

        • In the know
          May 16, 2013 at 3:02 pm #


          • GMHeller
            May 16, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

            Because maybe, just maybe, the suicide note will give insight into the reasons this poor fellow offed himself.
            My guess is that it was not the VA matter at all that sent this guy into a tailspin, and that there were likely other more pressing issues that were dragging him down into the abyss. But I guess we will not know because lax Berkshire media like The Berkshire Eagle refuse to undertake the job of reporting the news.
            Remember how it took a month for The Eagle to report that the daughter of a high court official was involved in a hit and run that left a guy bleeding and broken on a winter night?
            It’s easier to blame the VA and push a Liberal political agenda than to actually go out and uncover that which might lead to some unpleasant insights.
            But hey, this is Berkshire County, where ostriches would feel right at home.

  15. joetaxpayer
    May 16, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

    GM was thinking the same thing, but felt it was none of my business. I am greatful for that young man’s service. May he rest in peace. Anything that the government can do to help the transition to civilian life should be done. Money should not be a object.

  16. GMHeller
    May 16, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

    The Eagle today reports:
    “During that time, Passetto said he had accrued debt he was unable to pay off, went to debt collectors, lost unemployment benefits and also fell behind on his other bills, like rent.
    His mother told The Eagle on Wednesday that she recently learned her son’s disabilities claim was also levied by the IRS for the back taxes he owed on unemployment since being medically discharged and returning home in March 2011.”

    It sounds as though Mr. Passetto could just as likely have been depressed about the extreme actions taken by IRS.
    Perhaps this was bothering him even more than the inaction he found at Dept. of Veterans Affairs.
    Yet, the 60’s-era leftists at The Eagle do not see fit to rail on their Berkshire soapbox against IRS and an agency mentality that levies fines and confiscates the meager resources of a war hero.
    That’s because it does not fit in with The Eagle’s anti-war Liberal agenda.
    It’s far easier to blame the VA and its treatment of war vets than the Obama IRS which is now hiring thousands more agents for the sole purpose of enforcing ObamaCare.
    But you won’t read about any of that in The Eagle.

  17. GMHeller
    May 16, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

    And it’s far easier to blame the VA and its treatment of war vets than the Obama IRS for inflicting emotional and financial duress.
    And you won’t see editorials in The Eagle criticizing IRS practices that drive even war heroes to the brink.

  18. GMHeller
    May 16, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

    And here’s a knowledgeable comment posted by ‘Jay Gonzalez’ on the BB’s web site in response to today’s article, “Mother of Marine Corps veteran Passetto seeks change at Veterans Affairs”:
    Gonzalez: “I mean no disrespect with my following comments, and, I am not here to say this kid did not have PTSD, or was suffering in some capacity, merely to give my thoughts on this situation.
    “I am a veteran, with two combat tours in Afghanistan. I have seen my fair share of PTSD, and I have my opinions about it. I have also seen individuals go through the VA Disability process, and I have been through this process as well. First thing is first, VA Disability is not a paycheck. 90% of the time it should not take the place of a paycheck, the only time being that someone is so disabled, either mentally or physically, that they can no longer work. I receive 10% disability, for hearing loss, and that is what disability is designed for, compensation of injuries that occurred during your time in active service. I understand what it is like being a veteran and a college student, barely getting by financially. However, if things got so rough and went to debt collectors, why not get a job? Or two jobs? Whatever it takes to pay the bills? Regardless, because this individual did not pay his taxes on unemployment (which you aren’t allowed to receive as a veteran while in school…you receive a stipend while going to school on the GI Bill) he would not have gotten his disability until his IRS debt was cleared.
    It is no secret that Disability claims take time, mine took one year, almost to the day. But I will say this, the more ‘items’ you put on your claim, the longer it takes. Further, having worked in the military medical field, and helping people prepare to separate from the military medically, the more proof you have of your ‘disability,’ the better off you are. When cases take years, it is usually due to a lack of proof, or evidence of this ‘item.’ In my experience, when there is a lack of proof, or evidence, there is a lack of this item being ‘debilitating.’ Especially in the case of PTSD, it is normally very hard to get away with the signs and symptoms in a tight knit group of people, such as a military unit.
    “At the end of the day, everyone bitches about the military, however, they do things correctly. The ‘backlogging issue’ can probably be attributed to the sheer numbers of individuals putting claims in that have to be verified, and they might take a long time because there is a lack of evidence for these claims. All I am asking is that people look at issues critically and objectively, not taking this story, and the ones associated with it, at face value. USE YOUR BETTER JUDGEMENT.”

    • In the know
      May 16, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

      Dan you let this jerk spew his crap yet you delete my response to this nut? What gives?

      • danvalenti
        May 16, 2013 at 7:09 pm #

        You know by now that we won’t allow gutter-type personal insults. We’ve already made that clear, in the same way we’ve made it clear we welcome all writers, including yourself, who advance the discussion of the issues. Keep it on message, and you’ve got no problem. Push it across the line, and we flag you. It’s as simple as that. Please abide by that simple rule. Those who do can have their say on everything. Those who don’t can migrate to Topix. They will certainly have no home on THE PLANET.

  19. billy
    May 16, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

    I listened to Missy Mazzeo today on the radio.I truly believe she has to go to the Mildred Elley school of Etiquette.She railed about J lo doing a usual council procedure not allowing debate knowing how the procedure works.sending it to another committee.I watched her whine and complain about not getting to speak again until spineless Council president gave in again..She talked on the radio like she runs the council.I dont want to be lectured by someone telling me the Charther is good as it is.. Missy your not Vladmir Putin and this is not Russia. its called representative government so you may not like not getting your way alll the time but in democracy this is how the hamburg is respect other opinions besides your own because the people in those wards can think on their own and make their own decisions without help.

    • FPR
      May 16, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

      Totally irrelevant observation:

      You say, “this is how the hamburg is made.”

      Ever notice how almost everyone in Pittsfield uses the word hamburg? Check it out sometimes when people talk.

      Hamburg is a town in Germany.

      The word is hamburger.

      • In the know
        May 16, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

        How about a ground beef pattie?

      • The Kraken
        May 17, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

        Hamburg is slang for hamburger, just like burger is. Everyone knows that.

        • FPR
          May 17, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

          Yes, everyone in Pittsfield that is.

          Travel around a bit and you’d see its not.

          “When you tell somebody somethin’, it depends on what part of the country you’re standin’ in… as to just how dumb you are.”
          – The Bandit
          – Smokey and the Bandit 1977

  20. Ron Kitterman
    May 16, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

    @ Billy I caught some of the show also . I would agree with you about both issues. The medical marijuana and the charter. Mrs Mazeo sounds a little like a local version of Nancy Pelosi, vote on it now we’ll Tweak it later. But hey if you are against it come on down to the council chambers next Tuesday and get your ass handed to you, if you speak out against it. After all it was crafted by the hand picked GOB’s and something that needed to be done for years. So let’s pass it and worry about it later. The only thing it established was a 4 year term for Mayor and the change that the school committee may be paid. We have a City Council that follows Demeter’s Rules of order and a School Committee that follows Robert’s Rules of order. A consultant that told , we the people that there were at least 50 inconsistencies of Mass General Laws in the Charter, but pointed out none of them to us. So much for debate ? Sounds like the same charter as NOHO to me….

    • In the know
      May 16, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

      Ron I think now that your a retired police officer with a $60 thousand pension you should run for office. Let everyone know where the waste is in the PPD.

      • In the know
        May 16, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

        Ron. I do give you a lot of credit for using your real name.

  21. tito
    May 16, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

    ,,,,,,,,,know, u should be more blunt,,,,,,,,,,

  22. GMHeller
    May 16, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

    Mr. Valenti,
    The Eagle leaves too many questions unanswered.
    If a guy is intent on committing suicide by jumping off Monument Mountain, why go to the trouble and effort of carrying a backpack to the summit?
    What were the contents of Passetto’s backpack when found by police?
    What is the evidence that Mr. Passetto actually intended to commit suicide?
    Was Passetto alone at all times when he was on the mountain?
    What was Passetto’s blood alcohol level at the time of the accident?
    In The Eagle’s original article published Sunday afternoon (5/12), reporter Dick Lindsay writes: “The search for Passetto began shortly after his car was discovered by his brother at the base of Monument Mountain about 5 a.m. Saturday.”
    How did Passetto’s brother know to check for Passetto’s car at the base of Monument Mountain at that early hour?

    • danvalenti
      May 17, 2013 at 7:38 am #

      Yes, there are numerous, unanswered questions and gaping holes in the BB’s coverage.

  23. Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
    May 17, 2013 at 5:13 am #

    Shut up Heller please go away

  24. Outfox
    May 17, 2013 at 6:21 am #

    My beef is with the Capeless crusader saying that the backpack is unrelated to the suicide. Ok, so a distraught young man jumps off a mountain and out of all that wilderness just happens to land next to a backpack full of explosives??

    If this unlikely scenario IS true, where is the news about the investigation into the backpack’s provenance? I’d think that would be a pretty hardcore investigation, given what happened at the Boston marathon.

  25. GMHeller
    May 17, 2013 at 7:30 am #

    Exactly what do you classify as “crap”.
    The Berkshire Eagle has failed to report answers to a lot of basic questions, things that go to the heart of whether or not this was suicide or a tragic accident.
    Right now, according to the Office of Chief Medical Examiner in Holyoke which did the autopsy on Mr. Passetto, there has not been any official determination other than that the matter is “pending”.

  26. GMHeller
    May 17, 2013 at 7:40 am #

    Here’s another valid question:
    Was the top of Monument Mountain shrouded in mist late Friday night/early Saturday morning?
    Was Passetto known to hike recreationally in local venues like Mount Greylock, October Mountain, Beartown, and Monument Mountain?