PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, JULY 25, 2013) — Still waters run deep, so the saying goes. Fast-moving rivers produce dangerous currents — unpredictable and untrustworthy — that can easily sweep you away to your doom. Be careful. Don’t be fooled.

Enter candidate Donna Todd Rivers, who is running for an at-large seat on the city council. You know DTR: Now she will, then she won’t, then she will again. Then maybe she won’t. Wait! She will.

DONNA TODD RIVERS: She’s closing … No, she’s opening … No, she’s running for at-large.

“She will, She won’t” Rivers made news twice in the past month or so regarding her downtown beads business. In sending out the word of the “closing” of her business, Rivers made the big and veddy public boo-hoo, how she hated to do this to her loyal customers, insisting the business was profitable. Nonetheless, she had to make this move, she said, and until today, carried on as if that decision had been written the way she initially presented it: In neolithic stone. The stone turned out to be papier mache.

We remember at the time of Rivers’ announcement of “closing” having discussions with certain “wise guys on the streets” about how something sounded fishy about about it — nothing you could put your finger on, but just an unsettling feelings that perhaps the alleged downtown diva had perhaps diva’d a bit too much on this one. Did she have something up the sleeve of her blouse?

“What do you mean?” we asked one purveyor of such wisdom, one who has ties to a certain radio station.

“It’s a stunt,” the wise one said. “She’s going to be running for office. Watch. She’ll do a ‘never mind.’ You watch. She’s not going to close.”

Not long after that conversation, THE PLANET made a bead (pun intended) to DTR’s shop on North Street, to get the story straight from the Flip-Flopper’s mouth.  She confirmed the decision to close her doors. She played it coy about her future plans, but she made it clear and certain that she would be closing her doors. Any chance of it re-opening, we asked her? That’s when the hems and haws began. Well, she might keep it open, but not on North Street. Maybe she would keep it open in some other form, as a traveling road show or hosting house parties. She then began a long litany to the saints about the problems she had with the landlord, with sunspots, with subterranean waters, let alone above-ground Rivers.

“Your decision is final to close this [North Street] store?” we asked, point blank.

“Yes,” came the answer. “I’ve had enough. It’s time for me to move on to other things.”


Lo! Behold! Yesterday, the Boring Broadsheet ran a huge photo of the dilapidated “diva” on page one of the B section, in which DTR indeed pulled a big, “never mind.” Flip, flop, flip.  Tell us, voters: Is this the sort of game player that you would want holding a citywide office? Would you want someone like this making decisions on your behalf?

Consider: She first makes a loud, formal public announcement of her closing. Then, weeks after, makes a loud, formal public announcement of her non-closing. How could you ever believe someone on public policy matters who plays this kind of game with her very business, the fate of which she should know beyond all doubt and uncertainty?

Is she treats her own business in such a way — indecisive at best, finagling at worst — what do you think she will do on hot public policy issues where the GOB will pressure her to roll over and play dead?

The fact that the BB would run not one but two stories on this closing — No! Wait! — it’s not closing — brings to mind the question that many have raised since Rivers put her name into the citywide ring: Is she a GOB stooge? Is Larry middling Moe and Shemp?

Certainly the evidence gleamed from her abortive talk show would support that contention. That show made a bastard art form of soft-ball radio. It had more “poof” than a blushing bride’s wedding train. Rivers never met a puff-ball question she didn’t like, and she never missed sucking up to anyone “connected” or “important” that she figured might, you know, “help her out.” She talked about the streets of gold in beautiful, downtown Pittsfield, and basically broadcasted a product that would have found a comfy home with the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce (“Sunny skies, all day and night!!”). All the while, she limped along, morally crippled, since she had a financial stake – by virtue of her downtown business — making everyone think all was well in the beautiful center city. That’s called a conflict of interest.

Now we have this problematic business of the “never mind.” Looking at the bizarre unfolding of “I’m closing-I’m not closing,” Ms. She Did-She Didn’t appears to have acted solely for the reason of cheap publicity. How else can you explain a naked reversal so blatantly un-thought-out?

Either Rivers is the worst businessperson in the city’s history, or she’s playing games. The fact that the BB would give her splash coverage says it all about the woman’s loyalties, doesn’t it? If she happens to win a council seat, do you think she’s going to court Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski, the Little Guy, when she’s willing to sellout her customers so easily for this kind of publicity?

THE PLANET heard from two at-large candidates about Ms. She Did-She Didn’t. Both were a way-tad more than miffed that their opponent would get this kind of name pasting in the local daily rag at this nascent stage of the campaign, especially given the sleepy, practically comatose nature of Campaign ’13 thus far. The only semi-jolt came when Paul Capitanio notified city clerk Linda Tyer that he would not be seeking re-election. Watch out now for a mad scramble in Ward 3. We also hear someone has taken out papers for mayor. Oh happy day.

“I think for [DTR] to do this says a lot about her lack of integrity,” Candidate One told us. “She made an announcement of the closing [of her store]. Many of her customers took this at face value. My wife if one of them. Her word. She gave her customers her word. That’s what this is all about. Now, after she takes out papers to run, she pulls a 180 and insults the very people she claims to have in her heart. I’m not buying it and I don’t think voters will buy it, either.”

Still waters run deep. Fast-moving Rivers lose their way. Wethinks a long drought will dry up this particular stream bed, once and for all.


“There is no God, as I was taught in youth, / Though each, according to his stature, builds / Some covered shrine for what he thinks the truth, / Which by day his reddest heart-blood gilds.”John Masefield, first stanza, “There is No God, As I Was Taught” (1916).





  1. For B.C.
    July 24, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

    Thank you DV for this story. I too had my suspicions about the closing no opening no closing no opening. This is the one site thats not afraid to tell the unvarnised truth .

  2. dusty
    July 25, 2013 at 2:45 am #

    If it looks like a GOB duck and walks like a GOB duck then you can draw your own conclusions. But there are certainly enough GOB ducks coming into the picture from the school committee side so I hope the voters do their homework. GOB hacks are not concerned with reasonable taxation. They are simply tools of the system that is in place to rip you off. Some of them have become ashamed and are leaving. Others are willing to sell their souls and jump on board.

  3. Dave
    July 25, 2013 at 6:04 am #

    I think the fact that Donna Rivers is running at-large instead of against Lothrup in Ward 5, who is ripe for the picking, says all you need to know about which way she will vote on the issues. If you like the way Lothrup votes(gack) then by all means vote for Rivers.

    • danvalenti
      July 25, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

      This is another one of your penetrating insights. We thank you.

  4. Richard Allen
    July 25, 2013 at 6:21 am #

    Do we really care? She changed her mind or was Machiavellian from the’ a non story…nothing to see here..move along.

  5. Still wondering
    July 25, 2013 at 6:46 am #

    Here’s another example of when Dan is wrong, he is SPECTACULARLY wrong.

    • danvalenti
      July 25, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

      it’s the only way to BE wrong!

  6. B. Clairmont
    July 25, 2013 at 7:36 am #

    The person who took out Mayoral papers is Gerry Ely. I happened to be in the voters office when he came in.


  7. WhatAShow
    July 25, 2013 at 10:09 am #

    Aftering hearing the insipid “closing sale now until August 30th” radio commericials since the end of June I knew there was something more than meets the ear about her bead shop.

    • danvalenti
      July 25, 2013 at 7:52 pm #

      Yeah. It didn’t add up.

  8. tito
    July 25, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    Yeah, years ago he had a sign on his North Street property, which said,,, ,,,,,. PITTSFIELD SUCKS,,,,,,,,,,,,,,l

    • dusty
      July 25, 2013 at 11:15 am #

      Maybe he was talking about the politics, and if so he would be right. Considering what is going on in city hall these days I may give him a look. Fillio as well.

  9. Deb S
    July 25, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    Wow Gerry Ely, now there is an upstanding citizen, what’s next Fillio running for the school committee. You just can’t make this stuff up…

  10. Pittsfield Pete
    July 25, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

    When you refer to the GOB do you mean the Goon’s of Bianchi?

    • danvalenti
      July 25, 2013 at 7:52 pm #

      GOB = Good Ol’ Boys. Bianchi doesn’t have “goons.” He has “yes people.”

  11. FloggingMolly
    July 25, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    Mr. Valenti, is this the best you have to jump on?? It’s no wonder no one wants to jump in politics in this town when they have to sit waiting for you to pounce on them. What does making a business decision and running for city council have to do with each other to begin with? I give kudos to the Diva for even keeping a downtown business alive for 11 years in light of the economy and the teetering downtown neighborhood in general. She has had to live with a downturn in the economy, a total business disruption with the streetscape project and the overall debacle called downtown parking improvements. Did you ever think that just maybe she called someones bluff and decided to close up shop and then was offered a deal of the century to stay there? Happens in business all the time you make decisions and things change and those decisions have to change right along with it. I think she might make a very strong asset for this community as someone who might not be afraid to call the bluff of some of the establishments that have crippled this community for some time now. I think you need to look at her background and it looks like to me she has been a very successful woman who does not play in the political sandbox in this community in order to get ahead. Something tells me there might be a hint of sexism in your comments today but I hope not and I hope you see the potential that DTR has.

    • Dave
      July 25, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

      You should apply to be Donna Rivers’ campaign manager.

    • danvalenti
      July 25, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

      Yes, it’s the best, and it’s a good one. Now we have a former city councilor, one with a great reputation for honesty, saying Rivers told him she never said the business was closing. If that’s true, how does that square with her statements talking about “closing?” How can that not be a lie? That why this is significant. If you look at the larger issue, it’s integrity. Can this person be believed? That goes to the very heart public service.

  12. Dave
    July 25, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    Not saying she is or should be, but if Melissa Mazzeo is at all worried about the number of candidates in the at-large race, Paul Capitanio’s decision to not run would give her an almost certain spot back on the council if she ran for Ward 3. Her speech could go something like ” Coiuncilor Capitanio’s shoes will be hard to fill(necessary suck-up to the establishment) , but being a ward councilor will give me more time to focus on reopening the consent decree (see last campaign’s promise list).
    Blah blah blah siss boom bah…..Say what you will about his lack of input at the council meetings, Paul Capitanio as a ward councilor earned an A+, and in the end that is the main focus of a ward councilor. I think we need Melissa on the council, and would hate to see her get lost in the shuffle.

    P.S.- Do you think Jeff Ferrin is regretting moving out of Ward 3 ?

  13. raider50
    July 25, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

    I don’t understand all of the fuss over the opening/closing of her business other than to say it would be a tremendous loss to the youth of the city. After all they did vote Bisque, Beads and Beyond as the “Best of the Berkshires” for youth activities.

  14. Joseph Nichols
    July 25, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

    Donna came to see me yesterday and I told her that she was like the wind. You never know which way she would blow.

    When she told me her store on north street was going to remain open, I was flabbergasted.

    I asked her, what about all the advertising that said you were closing the end of this summer? She said, We didn’t say we were closing! I said, That’s the way I heard it. She said, That’s the way all the idiots heard it but that’s not what the ad said, oops! I said, Are you calling me an idiot?

    Dan, I have to agree with your writing today. Amazingly, it is dead on!!!

    • danvalenti
      July 25, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

      Thanks for sharing this story. It says a lot, doesn’t it. If she’s claiming she didn’t say she was closing, her own documents prove her otherwise. The headline of her June 1 e-mail sent to customers had this subject line: “Beads, Bisque, & Beyond IS Closing” (IS in all caps). The headlines is: “North Street Location Is Closing.” If she’s claiming she never said she was closing, that appears to be a lie. I can’t see any other explanation. The last thing Pittsfield needs is a person winning in public office, whomever that might be, who takes the truth so lightly and makes a mockery of integrity.

    • joetaxpayer
      July 26, 2013 at 9:09 am #

      Joe must say that you have the best radio add for any bussiness. You say what many are thinking but are afraid to say. I was never going to vote for her after listening to her show. But hopefully others follow suit.

  15. Mr. X
    July 25, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

    Jerry Ely is a male version of Donna Walto, no chance in hell of winning. I’ve known DTR for over 25 years. She comes from great parents which taught her the right values. She will be an excellent councilor for the peeps.

    • danvalenti
      July 25, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

      Thank you, MR. X

  16. Bill Sturgeon
    July 25, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

    Thanks Joe (Nichols) for sharing! We idiots thank you!

    • danvalenti
      July 25, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

      MAD Magazine still bills its contributing writers and editors as “the usual gang of idiots.” Remember, too, the Red Sox “idiots” that won the World Series in 2004. We “idiots” have to stick together!

  17. Rivetor
    July 25, 2013 at 5:59 pm #

    That’s most interesting what Joe Nichols reports. Rivers definitely said she would be closing th e North Street store. Now she pulls this. No way I’d want her involved in making decisions for me. Go Joe!

  18. Giacometti
    July 25, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

    DTR…is just a poser… real substance…just a poser

  19. Alexandra
    July 25, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    I brought my grand children to BBB a few times over the years, but stopped because I was witness to how she treats her employees. She has an attractive personality and we were always so happy to spend time painting and supporting her business. We must have caught her on a particularly stressed out day last winter, because she was spitting angry words at one of her employees for a few minutes. When she walked away and slammed her office door shut, the employee continued to dust and clean, but she was obviously quietly crying. This was not the first time I have heard her be less than tactful to her employees, but it was definitely the most dramatic.
    That turned me off to the point that I have not even gone back to retrieve the mugs that we painted that day.
    I think she’s a phony.

  20. Giacometti
    July 27, 2013 at 5:49 am #

    Don’t forget…She is a lawyer…she took the bar and passed it…and now she runs a crafty beads store,,,what reason would any lawyer do that ? She must be a bad lawyer or just couldn’t hack it. I don’t know of any lawyer who is a member of the bar..that runs a craft store…None of this makes sense. Like I said earlier…pure and simple…she’s just a poser.

    • danvalenti
      July 27, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

      Great point. A lawyer who doesn’t practice law and runs a … “beads shop?” Troublesome, at best.