PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, AUG. 9 AND THROUGH THE WEEKEND, 2013) — Dan Bianchi lost by 200 votes to Jimmy Ruberto in 2009 then turned the tables on Peter Marchetti in 2011, winning by 106. That’s a miserable sum total of (-94) votes over the two last election cycles. His narrow loss to Ruberto came even as the incumbent mayor struggled with the recent death of his beloved wife, Ellen. He ran only because she bid him do so, kind of as the fulfillment of a last wish.

In 2011, Bianchi beat Marchetti by a skinnier margin because (a) Marchetti lacked self confidence, (b) wasn’t comfortable in his own skin, and (c) campaigned in a lack-lustre way, almost as if he didn’t want to win. With all that, he nearly pulled it off. As it was, Bianchi got through on a wafer-thin margin, hardly what one would call a mandate. It was the closest mayoral outcome in 90 years.

Looked at a little closer, Bianchi won with approximately half of the turnout of under 50%. In other words, Bianchi became mayor, even though more than 3/4 of registered voters either voted for someone else or didn’t bother to vote at all. Move that forward to 2013, where electoral apathy has calcified into atrophy. The mayor has done nothing except worsen the biggest problem facing the city: He added millions to the city’s bloated, $137 million budget. Moreover, he failed to address the long-term obligation crisis (pensions, health insurance, and OPEB benefits due to public employees), the same ones that have sunk Detroit and forced Chicago to greatly cut back on public education there.

Bianchi increased spending by millions in his second budget, underfunding city side once more then adding $1.66 million to the school side, which, at more than $90 million, has become the cement galoshes around Pittsfield’s plunge into an ocean of financial mess. He has done nothing to address the looming crisis with unfunded pension and OPEB (other post-employment benefits) liabilities, which top an unbelievable 1/3 of a billion dollars (that’s billion with a “b”).

On the surface, this performance seems harmless enough. To raise the millions needed to fund this year’s city budget, Bianchi raised taxes, of course, on those who can least afford to pay — bedraggled “middle class” homeowners and small business owners. At what point in a death by 1,000 cuts does the victim pass the point of no return? The 587th cut? The 604th? That’s what we’re trying to ascertain now in Pittsfield. Clearly, the cuts will prove fatal … but not quote yet. And so, from one year to the next, the increases can continue. The veneer holds. At some point, most likely with the next decade, the illusion will collapse. Pittsfield’s story will be Detroit’s. Bianchi, thinking short-term, as all politicians do, isn’t concerned about any of that. He may say he is, but his actions as mayor belie the point.

Nonetheless, Dan Bianchi, the incumbent, appears that he will waltz into a second term by virtue of no competition. What are we to make of this?

Bianchi’s explanation is that he’s done such a great job that even his political enemies have been won over by his greatness. Which ones? Ruberto? Barry Clairmont? Which “political enemies,” specifically?

“The feedback I’ve gotten is great,” Bianchi told Jim Therrien of the Boring Broadsheet. “A lot of people who weren’t with me in the past have commented that I’m doing a good job.” Bianchi never identifies even one of these “lot of people.” We wonder if Therrien bothered to followup with the question: “Can you name names?”

Bianchi went on, “You’re often defined by your opponents. But people have had an opportunity to get to know me as a person and as a mayor, and they have a certain satisfaction with me as a person and as a mayor.” Again, the follow-up question begs to be asked: “What people?” and “What do we know about you as a person that we didn’t know before?” As a candidate for two straight election cycles, no one had any measure of Dan Bianchi. He had never been a mayor before.

This time it’s different. He’s been mayor for going on two years. His track record shows him to be a timid bureaucrat, an unimaginative bean-counter who, it seems, can only count by addition.

To listen to Bianchi, he has no opponents because he’s done such a great job that no one can find fault or criticism. Bianchi has fallen pray to one of the oldest delusions of political power: “Everyone loves me!” What he doesn’t realize is that, discounting his core support, the more than 3/4 of Pittsfield that did not vote for him the last time will not vote for him in 2013.

These numbers would seem to make the mayor ripe for the picking for an opponent. What kind of opponent?

The ideal opponent would have assumed candidacy in the traditional way by taking out papers and getting his or her name on the ballot. He or she would also have the financial resources to compete. These would either be discretionary and private funds or an ability to raise funds. He or she would have the ability to organize a campaign citywide, in 14 precincts. Most of all, and surpassing all the other attributes, the ideal challenger will have a charismatic presence, the ability to energize and activate the large, slumbering mass of the sleeping electorate. This would be a populist, a person who would capable of reaching the electorate in an emotional as well as intellectual way. This person would be an electrifying speaker, formidable in debate, and tireless on the campaign trail. Put all this together, and you’d have a winner.

Bianchi told Therrien that even though he is likely to be unopposed, he would still like to have “a strong public discussion” on what he thinks are key issues. These include, Bianchi says, PEDA, vocational education, a new or renovated Taconic High School, and an airing of the revision to the city charter.

Bianchi told Therrien, apparently with a straight face, that he wanted to use his power “to be a voice for people who might not have one.” This is hilarious, given the fact that he’s consistently run roughshod over these same people — the unwashed, voiceless masses — in the form of prohibitively higher taxes.

“I was at four events in one day recently, Bianchi said. “They were all good events, things citizens appreciate you being a part of — and I am happy to do those things.” Aside from the tortured syntax, THE PLANET wonders if Bianchi’s time would be better spent working on ways to solve Pittsfield’s ticking financial time bomb rather than cutting ribbons, reading to children at the library, and attending sixth grade science fairs. This quote indicates the fatal flaw of Bianchi’s tenure: He’s content with appearance and PR. True, a mayor has to “play the role” to some extent, but what the city needs now more than ever, more than photo-ops and throwing out first pitches, is a person in the corner office who will fight to reduce taxes. That is by far the single-most important issue,the need to let people keep more of their own money rather than letting the government get its greedy hands on it to placate the Special Interests by robbing Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski.

The mayor says he wants a full airing of the issues. How will he get one, though, without an opponent. These seem to very the words of the phony brave, who know they won’t be facing those tough questions.

THE PLANET is tempted to take Bianchi at his word, but how can we, with the mayor having no one to debate and knowing he won’t face a tough question to save a taxpayer’s life.

Someone needs to put the tough questions to the mayor.

We wonder: Would the mayor accept THE PLANET’s challenge to a series of TV/radio broadcasts where he would sit down, one on one, with us, to “debate?” We doubt it: He’s been playing rather hard to get lately.

We therefore predict a landslide victory by Bianchi in 2013. He shall beat Nobody, although the blanks may give him a run.


“Now dreary dawns the eastern light, / And fall of eve is drear, / And cold the poor man lies at night, / And so goes out the year. // Little is the luck I’ve had, / And oh, ’tis comfort small / To think that many another lad / Has had no luck at all.”A. E. Housman, “Now Dreary Dawns the Eastern Light,” (1922)





  1. Ron Kitterman
    August 9, 2013 at 10:32 am #

    You nailed it again Dan. The other shame to voter apathy is the charter being rewritten and jammed down our ( or shoved up ) is also disturbing. The only positive thing to come out of it is to change the Mayor’s term to 4 yrs. Passing the charter during the informal session of the legislature to a room full of reps from the Eastern part of the state shouldn’t be a problem. Then passing it along to the voters where we’ll be lucky to get a turnout of voter’s that reaches 20% plays right into the cards of the GOB’s.

  2. The Kraken
    August 9, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    “A lot of people who weren’t with me in the past have commented that I’m doing a good job.”
    My guess is he’s referring to, at least in part, the teachers and/or the teacher’s union. Ruberto accused him of being anti-teacher during their race, but he’s turned out to be JAG – Just Another GOB – who kisses the teacher’s union’s arse.
    I think no one is running against him because, 1) They feel they can’t win as Bianchi now has GOB support, and 2) The GOB did not put forth a candidate as Bianchi is now their candidate.

    • dusty
      August 9, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

      Hey, that is what I was going to say. 1 and 2 hit the nail on the head. Bianchi crossed over. He morphed into Ruberto. Did he get a deal he could not refuse?

  3. Russell Moody
    August 9, 2013 at 11:54 am #

    Okay, so Bianchi is unopposed… if one were to write in a candidate, who would it be? What will the protest vote say?

  4. Russell Moody
    August 9, 2013 at 11:54 am #

    Okay, so Bianchi is unopposed… if one were to write in a candidate, who would it be? What will the protest vote say?

  5. tito
    August 9, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    ,,, Anybody but Lothrop,,,,,

  6. Ron Kitterman
    August 9, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    I don’t know about a write in candidate Russell, even Marchetti told us he’s voting blank.

  7. tito
    August 9, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    ,,,,,yeah heard that too, what a pompous egomaniac,,,whenever Marchetti is on the tv or radio, he goes into a litany of his experiences,and an endless repertoire of his career with an almost incremental swan dive of his past .

  8. pjmh
    August 9, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

    In honor of Herb Caen, the 3 Dot lounge… PEDA, PEDA, PEDA… Really?… I saw mention in the BB that PEDA could be Pittsfield’s Central Park… Really?… And maybe a great site for athletic fields… Really?… Isn’t the site, um, contaminated?… Great article in New Yorker re. Detroit, check it out, references here at Planet are relevant… GE left, just saying…

  9. Jonathan Melle
    August 9, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

    Dan Bianchi inherited the fiscal mess left behind by Good Old Boys like Jimmy Ruberto and Gerry Doyle. I agree with Dan Valenti that Mayor Dan Bianchi should not have raised taxes.

    • Joe Blow
      August 9, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

      Bianchi was hired to fix it not make things worse. He’s a GOB just like the rest of them.

  10. Jonathan Melle
    August 9, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

    I believe that both Dan Bianchi and Dan Valenti are good men. I do not understand why Dan Valenti is so critical of the Mayor. If I was in Dan Bianchi’s shoes, I would not have been able to turn Pittsfield around in less than 2 years. Jimmy Ruberto was Mayor of Pittsfield for 8 years (2004 – 2011). Thousands of jobs were lost, taxes went way up above the rate of inflation, and the Good Old Boys ruled with an iron fist. Before Ruberto’s reign, Gerry Doyle bankrupted the city government and placed it into state government receivership. Gerry Doyle also signed the flawed Consent Decree that capped most of the toxic waste PCBs cancer-causing pollution in Pittsfield. The problem with all of the caps is that the caps do not last forever. The PCBs have to be re-capped. Gerry Doyle was a Good Old Boy like Jimmy Ruberto. Pittsfield politics usually sucks! Dan Bianchi is his own man.

  11. tito
    August 9, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    I believe Dan stated that the current Mayor was the author of a 3 million and more tax increase,,,,,,,,,,,

  12. tito
    August 9, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

    ,,,,,numbers wise we are in the highest annual budget in the history of Palookaville,,,,,,,,,,,

  13. GMHeller
    August 9, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

    Mr. Valenti,
    Why do you expect sound fiscal management from any Liberal Democrat in office?

  14. Dave
    August 9, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

    I think every former Mayor and future Mayor-wanna-be who went before the charter commission spoke in favor of a four year term for Mayor, saying that two years was not a long enough time to gauge the effectiveness of an administration. After saying this, it would be hard for one of these politicians to run this year. I think the wanna-bes know that things aren’t changing in the next two years, and if the charter passes, a two year wait for a four year term is worth it to them.

  15. tito
    August 9, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

    ,, , I might vote for the Mona Lisa’s for @ Large ,,,,,,,

  16. bobbyd
    August 9, 2013 at 7:23 pm #

    I agree that pensions are a major liability. The gravity of unfunded promises made thirty and forty years ago, when we had a much larger population and tax base and a higher ratio of employed workers to beneficiaries, are like a black hole causing many municipalities to implode.

    Worse yet, pensions—both public and private—are poised to fail. For info on the public pension systems in Massachusetts check out, published by the Pioneer Institute.

    Solutions to the problems faced by Massachusetts’ 105 pension systems is going to have to be addressed at the state level. Some of them, like Mass Teachers, are out of local control.

  17. Jonathan Melle
    August 9, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

    Pittsfield’s local economy is ran on taxpayer dollars. That means that as long as Pittsfield receives more revenues than its expenditures, Pittsfield will stay in business. Pittsfield receives many millions of dollars in state and federal aid. Pittsfield raises taxes above the rate of inflation every year. The fiscal cycle for Pittsfield is to collect many millions of dollars from taxpayers and spend it on public employees, non-profit organizations, and special interests.
    * The single largest #1 employer in Pittsfield is the City of Pittsfield
    * Thousands of local residents depend on Pittsfield’s taxpayers for their financial security
    * There is no Fortune 500 corporation like GE in Pittsfield anymore
    * There is a scarce private sector business in Pittsfield — mostly local banks, credit unions and insurance companies
    * To get a job in Pittsfield, one has to be related to a Good Old Boy family or kiss their behind
    * If one speaks out about the corruption in Pittsfield politics ran by the Good Old Boys, they will be black-listed from getting and/or keeping a job in Pittsfield
    * Pittsfield will never change!

  18. Larry
    August 9, 2013 at 8:59 pm #

    Off topic…

    My guess is that Dan is on a well deserved vacation seeing he has not touched upon this subject…… So I will; and do invite your feedback on the subject.

    The biggest news of the last couple days involves Lee Police Chief Joe Buffis and a ten month investigation of theft from a children’s toy fund that he controlled. One cannot think of a lower scumbag crime than that of stealing from a needy child that has little hope of an X-Mas as many of us would know it!

    My question is….. Who other than a former law enforcement chief would have the luxury of being summons to court rather than arrested (cuff and stuffed) for this total BS crime?

    • dusty
      August 10, 2013 at 2:20 am #

      Law enforcement is a brotherhood. This includes the courts and probation. Brotherhoods by their very nature take care of themselves.

      • Larry
        August 10, 2013 at 6:29 am #

        One would think the brotherhood would want to disassociate itself from the likes of this turd…. By the stuff and cuff approach it would go along way in showing it. I know several well respected local law enforcement officials from Lee, Lenox and Stockbridge and each one I’ve spoken with have basically called Buffis a disgrace and a black mark on thier profession.

        They are good people who stand united for integrity and public service…. Not for corruption and self-service!!!

    • Wilson
      August 10, 2013 at 10:58 am #

      It seems he was pressuring people on the wrong side of the law to donate to the fund, so it might not be as bad as stealing from children, as long as he was keeping track. I don’t understand why he didn’t just take kickbacks in cash, though… When government agencies seize billions of dollars in cash and property earned by criminals, you can’t really say that he was doing anything unethical

      • Larry
        August 10, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

        There is more to it than this one incident, Wilson. The reason for The FBI involvement involved money crossing state lines. In this incident it doesn’t appear to involve anything outside MA state lines.

        There has been ALOT of chatter on the streets since it came to light in November. It sounds like this is just the tip of the iceberg so to speak. It stands to reason that Buffis didn’t throw it all away on this one isolated incident. Small stuff pior to this led to a feeling of invincibility….. It will play out before long.

    • Scott
      August 11, 2013 at 4:50 am #

      Hey he didn’t steal from the toy fund he extorted a prostitute and used the toy fund to except the payment. He should have just gotten cash. It’s better if you go along with his rationalization. I hope he gets at least 10 years if he’s found guilty.

  19. MrG1188
    August 10, 2013 at 6:09 am #

    Thanks Larry. I was put off by that too. He should’ve been arrested and processed just like anyone else! These are serious, deplorable felonies and he needs to suffer ALL the consequences, including a perp walk in cuffs.

  20. Rivetor
    August 10, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

    DV absolutely nailed his take on Mayor Bianchi. I’m voting a write in: “Dan Valenti.” As for Buffis, that irked me too that he wasn’t arrested and brought in like I would be if I were so low as to steal from a toy fund for needy children at Christmas.

  21. Jonathan Melle
    August 10, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

    Dan Valenti should blame the previous administrations for the financial problems that plague Pittsfield politics. Mayor Dan Bianchi has been in office for less than 2 years.

    • Shakes His Head
      August 13, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

      Write a proclamation for that and throw a ceremonial pitch.

      • danvalenti
        August 13, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

        Funny stuff!

  22. billy
    August 10, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    Push the Mayor to a one on one discussion with you. He claims to be a man of no political foes and a champion of the common man . He has no campaign schedule to keep . I would like to hear him articulate what fills his day ? I want to hear how he plans to fund. Our pension system maintain our existing schools. And our future high school on a maintenance budget of less than a million dollars? When will he and the Superintendent see the emperorHas no clothes on.
    This city is going to destroy the futures of the young people because they are not only teaching them fiscal apathy but because education is adapting at a breakneck pace ,such as what is happening in Chicago. And around the globe. If we keep going with our this didn’t work so give us more money and we will try this approach we will guarantee our kids a dismal future and have no one to blame but ourselves.

    • bobbyd
      August 10, 2013 at 7:47 pm #

      I don’t think the mayor negotiates with terrorists.

      • Rivetor
        August 11, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

        No? Then why did he “negotiate” with the school dept and the school committee, eh, bobby?

  23. tito
    August 11, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    Wait until the new group,and old, get back in. Talk about a progressive tax increase….With Lothrop leading the charge, hold on to your wallets,,,,,,,,,,,,

  24. Chazz Storie
    August 11, 2013 at 9:16 pm #

    Bianchi is the most quietest mayor ever – I’ve barely heard a peep from him. I’m trying to figure out just that he did that makes people think he did a great job? Can someone give some examples?

    • danvalenti
      August 12, 2013 at 5:51 am #

      Specifics are a reasonable request.