‘WADEGATE’ HAS LEGS ALL WEEKEND … WADE’S ENCOUNTER WITH BIANCHI FORCES UNEASY BUT NEEDED DISCUSSION OF RACE IN PITTSFIELD …
By DAN VALENTI
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, JUNE 3, 2013) — Typically, the weekend lull works its way onto THE PLANET, because readers know that, in all likelihood, there will be no fresh content. Oh, a breaking story or a news flash will get us writing on the weekend, but more often than not, we are content to watch Friday’s story playing out like the fade of a long-playing record. The long piano chord that marks the final audible sound of The Beatles‘ “Sgt. Pepper” album (there’s a dog whistle after that) comes to mind.
In the case of Doreen Wade vs. Dan Bianchi, however, nearly regular traffic found its way here over the weekend. This tells us that Wade’s story has hit a nerve. The story of her contentions of “racist” treatment in the corner office from Pittsfield Mayor Dan Bianchi has acted like a dentist’s probe. It struck a cavity — the nature of which isn’t clear. Was there an over-reaction because an assertive woman of color came into town to challenge a long-simmering understanding that blacks shall forever be second-class citizens in Shire City? Is that it? Do we dare disturb the universe or eat a peach?
Have Wade and Bianchi Forced Pittsfield to Have a Long Overdue Discussion of Race?
Blacks comprise about 7% of the city’s population, roughly half the percentage of African-Americans nationwide (roughly just under or at 3,000 in a city population of a little more than 40,000). There’s no question in Pittsfield that people of color tend to be the Invisible Man types that Ralph Ellison wrote about so brilliantly in the novel of that name. The question is why?
Wade’s contentious public introduction to the city has, if nothing else, forced discussion of that very question. Have Doreen Wade and Dan Bianchi inadvertently moved Pittsfield to confront a racial attitude that would, from a Caucasian standpoint, appear more safe and comfortable set in 1953 as opposed to 2013? Is that a possible silver lining here?
Also, would it not make sense for these two to make a joint public appearance, discuss the case, and see if rapproachment can be found.
When she indirectly put the question to Bianchi in the form of her aspirations to move her website and business, The New England Informer, to Pittsfield, Wade not only didn’t like the answers. They flat out shocked her. Local mainstream media (read: “Old and tired” daily newspaper and radio) whiffed completely on the story. The Berkshire Eagle hasn’t said a peep about it, and what passes for news at the toothless local radio stations followed suit.
The Pittsfield Gazette published a small digest of Wadegate on May 16, burying it on page 7. On that same date, The Berkshire Beacon ran a much longer story, the accuracy of which Wade has questioned, particularly the Beacon‘s portrayal of Bianchi. Both papers at least ran something rather than nothing, however, and THE PLANET credits them for that. The fact remains, though, that only THE PLANET has dared to more fully investigate this disagreeable case, listening carefully and with interest in Wade’s version. We have given Bianchi the same opportunity, but he has declined comment, leaving us to get “his side” in an alternate way.
In THE PLANET’s coverage of this story, we have well served the public at large, as the vibrant discussion on Wadegate on this website illustrates.
WADE OFFERS COMMENTARY OF PLANET’S COVERAGE AND SOME OF THE RESPONSES
[EDITOR'S NOTE: THE PLANET has three times tried to solicit comment from Mayor Dan Bianchi, who has yet to respond. We shall, of course, be glad to meet with the mayor at any time or give him his free use of THE PLANET's space for us to publish his side of the events at issue in Wadegate].
MEDFORD BUSINESSWOMAN SAYS SHE ENCOUNTERED ‘RACIST STATEMENTS, INSULTING COMMENTS TOWARD BLACKS’ FROM MAYOR BIANCHI
June 3, 2013
My story begins. Since I have already worked with different Mayors in the state (Springfield, Boston, Medford) when I wanted to begin to work in the Pittsfield area, I followed suit. Why did I chose Pittsfield? Well I had already started connecting with business people and leaders in Springfield, and since I was going to bring my mother back to her hometown, I thought it would be nice to work with the Mayor of Pittsfield. I wanted him to be a part of my business.
I did not know the Mayor nor have I had any dealings with him, but working with leaders has always been an accomplishment of my business, The New England Informer (NEI). I contacted Mayor Bianchi, set up an appointment, met with him, and encountered racist statements, anger, insulting comments toward blacks in Pittsfield, degrading images of blacks in Pittsfield ,and a rejection of my business coming specifically to Pittsfield — also no funding or assistance for a black-owned business relocating to Pittsfield, as there is for other businesses who have relocated there.
So I spoke out. After I spoke out, here is what I have encountered from certain self-proclaimed representatives of Pittsfield. These comments came following from an article written about me on a blog called PLANET VALENTI. See below:
[EDITOR'S NOTE: WADE THEN PICKS SEVERAL OF THE COMMENTS OFFERED ON THE PLANET AFTER OUR STORY]
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In the know
May 31, 2013 at 10:01 am #
Sorry Dan this story sounds totally fake. I’m no Bianchi fan but it sounds like she’s looking for some cash to make this go away.
May 31, 2013 at 10:38 am #
I agree why would you need to talk to the mayor to move a blog? Sounds like she went looking for money and was turned away. So the race card gets thrown and in comes the NAACP. A lawsuit will soon follow.
May 31, 2013 at 10:14 am #
Somehow the word “shakedown” comes to mind.
May 31, 2013 at 10:49 am #
I am very disappointed in your story. This story sounds entirely bogus. If I were the mayor and your story accused me of racism, I wouldn’t respond to you either.
Do some homework, Dan. Here is how Ms. Wade treated members of the Medford City Council a few years ago. It seems that she was on the city TV board and the council called the board before them because of an explicit show run on public tv.
This woman seems to be out looking for fights.
May 31, 2013 at 4:10 pm #
Well she want’s to move to be closer to family and all that is fine and dandy but it does seem she wants to do it on someone else s dime but got turned down. A white politician in the Berkshires with politically incorrect terminology not understanding why “we ain’t got no affirmative action lady blacks are uneducated (I mean why would they be anything but in an environment like PPS) generally speaking we have no need for your kind” no way not here in the Berkshires!
May 31, 2013 at 4:38 pm #
I think you are wrong. It sounds to me that if Ms. Wade doesn’t get her way, she will play any card to her advantage.
In my opinion, you are furthering her agenda, whatever it may be.
Once again, if I were the mayor and saw your posting, I would not respond.
May 31, 2013 at 10:56 am #
Don’t think this issue has much play in an area without a lot of victim blacks or white elitists who make a show of pitying unfortunates. She should have said that he groped her.
May 31, 2013 at 11:19 am #
Dan, perhaps your sleuthing should include an admission of not knowing Ms. Wade and your not having investigated her previous claims in other locals rather than posting hurtful assumptions about someone you know and grew up with.
May 31, 2013 at 5:50 pm #
I dunno, maybe if Al Sharpton is not too busy he can take a ride over from Albany with his megaphone and stand on the steps of the old post office in Ms. Wade’s behalf.
Making it a high profile case should substantially increase the settlement where he can then skim off 50% of the booty.
May 31, 2013 at 6:43 pm #
Anita Hill, where are you?
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[EDITOR's NOTE: WADE NOW ADDRESSES SOME OF THE COMMENTS]
Now I do not consider myself a genius, but one thing I do know is my situation is not like Anita Hill. I did not bring up anything having to do with sexual harassment. Which brings me to the person who said “She should have said he groped her.” So are these people saying that lying is the way? I should lower myself to stoop to lying about some type of sexual incidents? Is that what goes on in the City of Pittsfield?
And then we have the voice who said I should go to Al Sharpton. Is Mr. Sharpton the only recognized speaker for the black community? Why would anyone in Pittsfield want to make a suggestion to have someone come in to their city? And then to bring in money and a lawsuit.
Many of the good people of Pittsfield seem to think that this is about taking money and running. Is this how these individuals get their money and glory? I don’t know. I have been working for free for so may years on various community boards and with my volunteering in the community. I didn’t know that caring for your family, friends, and your neighbors was based on the almighty dollar. I thought the only thing almighty was GOD.
And since so many people want to talk about the fight, let’s look at the one brought up by one individual in Pittsfield who heard about my fight while I served on the Medford Board of TV 3. This person neglected to get the story right. I fought my own members of the Medford Board , thereby protecting the community of Medford. My life was threatened and my home was terrorized by Board Members, because I would not agree with what they did. I stood before the City Council, which is on tape, and spoke for the Community. The Mayor of Medford had to get the City’s legal department to defend and protect me. The Mayor became involved when he found Board members put up on the Internet racial and threatening words of death and the use of the “N” and the “B” word. But I guess the person who brought this out forgot to talk about that part. And there is a record of it in the Mayor’s office in Medford.
When did standing up and putting your life on the line for the Community become a bad thing? And is this person saying that he approves of what TV 3 Board members did and the other things they did by harassing the gay community, having over 20-50 court cases against them, having to have people in the community put out restraining orders, having the City Council of Medford hire a judge to investigate them. And at no time was I involved. Maybe it isn’t my values that need to be questioned if people can use these types of people to discredit me.
If these are the opinions of people in the Pittsfield Community, maybe it is time for a racial communication and discussion. Maybe people want me to shut up and look bad, so they can keep it business as usual. And what business is that?
What are people afraid of in Pittsfield? Could it be when you walk through the City Hall, you do not see a single black employee? Could it be because there is an Affirmative Action policy that is not implemented? You tell me how long it has been sitting? Is it because when blacks go for teaching jobs, they cannot get one? These are not my rantings, as people want to say; these are the cold hard facts, seen when you visit and walk up and down the streets of Pittsfield. Look at the facts — there are more black people getting put in prison in Pittsfield than graduating. When back in the Oprah days she said on national television and stated, the best place to get drugs is Pittsfield MA (*Note: that is not a myth, it is a fact). If you go through the Pittsfield Cemetery there are so many black people buried from the years of drug usage. Walk through the streets. You see more blacks are unemployed at an astonishing rate. Where your Mayor publicly announces he doesn’t know if there is an Affirmative Action Policy. Well how does he set programs and policies for blacks, gays, Veterans, disabled persons, minorities, women, and so many more who fall under this category?
But what is worse, I hold my head up high and speak out openly while many of those who have written their opinions hide behind false names on blogs. Is it because they cannot stand by what they say, or they are ashamed to speak out in the open? I know I can. I am proud of who I am and I make no excuses or hide from what I say or who I say it about.
I was put in a bad situation by comments that were not befitting a political leader [Bianchi], and I believe I have the right as a woman, a black, a person, and a human being to protect those who cannot protect theirselves. And I would like to meet one person of any other race, nationality or faith who if they walked into a black political leader’s office and he began to degrade, defame and insult racially, religiously, economically or any other way about a Community they loved and believed in, would turn their head to a blind eye and not fight those ugly words.
And if any one of these people who wrote these interesting and anonymous comments through the veil of a blog, would have not fought for their families, their friends, their neighbors and their community, then there must be something wrong with me.
I have to continue on and hold my head up high, because I know it is going to get worse. However, as Ghandi said:
First they ignore you,
Then they laugh at you.
Then they fight you,
Then you win
Well here I am in the middle of the fight and the win. But the understanding that many people are missing is not that I, Doreen Wade, will win anything, but that the people of Pittsfield will win because the struggle will be for the good, it will open people’s eyes, minds and hearts and together we will make a “CHANGE”.
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That concludes Wade’s editorials.
As always, we invite your comments.
“I never spoke with God / Nor visited in heaven. / Yet certain am I of the spot / As if the checks were given.” — Emily Dickinson
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.