PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, SEPT. 24, 2013) — Today, there is, allegedly, and election. It doesn’t look like an election, hasn’t sounded like and election, and hasn’t walked or talked like an election, but rumor has it: It is an “election.” Maybe it’s a duck.

There were not enough candidates for preliminary run-offs for the Pittsfield at-large seats, school committee positions, mayor, or wards 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7. THE PLANET lets each of you to draw your own conclusions about what this says about the sad state of the city. Naturally, we have our own views on this electoral flatlining.

As for our endorsements, we again remind people that these are preferences, not predictions, a big difference. Usually, what we would like to see bears little resemblance to what actually happens. We read this as a sign of our intelligence and discrimination as well as a function of political apathy, where too many “average citizen” voters simply do not vote, leaving a wide-open head-shot for the political animals of the GOB. Today, we predict turnout of less than 10% of eligible voters in wards 1 and 3. That would mean a showing of just under 1,000 voters.

THE PLANET, by the way, may soon be revealing a shocker that will drive turnout for the November races.


THE PLANET likes Chris Yon because she has represented the ward well, has remarkably little ego for a politician, exudes sincerity, has shown independence from the mayor, listens to constituents (remember Spectrumgate?), and can make a boast of what for so many others is a liability, which would be her experience. Of her two opponents, Tammy Ives and Lisa Tully, we like Ives for one statement. That was her admission during what passed for a “debate” that she wasn’t “politically savvy.” That’s a plus. Tully seems too “connected” (“politically savvy”) for our tastes and those of Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski.


Four candidates are looking to run-off in November to replace Paul Capitanio. The doe-eyed incumbent, as most of you know, finds himself embroiled in a criminal investigation relating to drugs, not exactly the firm timber from which steady platforms can be constructed. The four are Thomas Wells Jr., Richard Latura, Geoffrey German, and Nick Caccamo.

THE PLANET recommends Wells and Latura. Wells had the best answer on the refitting of the former All Souls Church into a childcare facility. He rightly understands and well-expressed that the neighbors in the area were largely in favor of the use of the building. Caccamo agreed but Wells conveyed the point more succinctly. Wells also had the right answer on PEDA, taking a cue from THE PLANET and calling for a top to bottom review to see why the site has been such a dismal failure. They can’t figure what will work, that’s obvious. Therefore, the next best thing is to reverse-engineer why it hasn’t worked.

The major concern about Caccamo is his employer. He works for the city of Pittsfield, in particular, the Pittsfield School Department. If he should become the Ward 3 councilor, he would not be able to vote on any school matter. He would have to recuse himself on any school votes. That would deprive his Ward 3 constituents of any representation on a department that consumes more than 70 cents of every dollar the city spends in a given fiscal year. Who wants a “30% councilor?” Caccamo, a policy wonk (that’s compliment, by the way) also seems to crave the political scene far too much. He’s a young man looking to make his way, and he’s taking what he thinks is the safe road of playing ball with the GOB. For any voter of independent mind, that alone should be reason enough to keep the lad out.

That leaves Latura and German, which ranks as a toss-up. German thinks “PEDA is doing a good job.” He actually said that during a debate. THE PLANET responds with, “Next! Thank you. We’ll be in touch.” By process of elimination, we have Latura.



With all the issues plaguing the underperforming Pittsfield Public Schools, you would think Alf Barbalunga, chairman of the school committee, would have sunk the proposal for crew as a varsity sport long ago, assigning it to Davy Jones’ locker (“Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees …”).  For some mysterious reason, however, Barbalunga has called the proposal far from dead. This comes despite:

1.) Near-total indifference from the schools and the kids;

2.) Crew’s inappropriateness as a sport, more fit for Thurston J. Howell IV than Joe Kapanski Jr.

3.) The Mass. Interscholastic Athletic Assn. does not recognize crew as a sport.

4.) Zero public schools in the state offer crew as a varsity sport. The few districts that have any kind of crew program run it as booster-club activities, which means that taxpayers aren’t on the hook for the money.

As clueless as Barbalunga has been on this issue, Mayor Dan Bianchi has moved so far past clueless (in the wrong direction, mind you) that he doesn’t register on the Fruitjuice Clueless Unit Scale. At a recent school committee meeting, Bianchi opined this gem: “[Crew] seems like a great activity.” Why? Because the city has a lake nearby.  The presence of a lake is no more a reason for crew than the existence of a pretty girl is a reason to buy X-Ray Specs. Once again, Bianchi failed to exert leadership, caving into a tiny minority of activists looking to hijack taxpayer money to pay for a sport best left to the blue bloods and yacht hounds.

Rather than have the pulse of the people on this issue, the school committee chose to waste time and money on a student survey and a stodgy study of “logistical questions” (finances, liability, and others). Only Terry Kinnas, the lone voice of reason on an unreasonable committee, raised the liability questions.



When Linda Avalle retired from her position as health coordinator in the PPS this summer, the taxpayers were in for some monetary relief. The position is a triplicate position created by the school administration to further lard the administrative payroll — not because it was right for “The Children” but because it would create another loyal liege, plus her family, friends, and loved ones.

THE PLANET let’s you in on a dirty little secret: PPS’ administrative levels are so top-heavy for political, not educational purposes. Yes, we know. We know. Like Claude Rains in “Casablanca,” you’re “shocked, shocked.” When you add to the administrative payroll, you create many more loyal boosters. Having a cushy, well-paying, great-benefits job creates a vested interest, and you can be sure that when election time comes, such loyalty will only vote for candidates who will keep the corrupt status quo.

Okay, fast forward to the city’s new superintendent of schools, the former Lee super, Jason “Jake” McCandless, better known on THE PLANET as Jake the Fourth, or JIV, pronounced “Jive.” When JIV found out about the “cut” through attrition, he immediately moved to have the position restored, along with its pay. It figures to be around $60,000 or more. As of now, the position remains unfilled, and no one we spoke to in the schools has even noticed.

The position supposedly focues on “wellness initiatives,” whatever the heck that means. We wonder, then, why do taxpayers pay for school nurses, medical services, physical education instructors, and coaches? You mean to say that among that plethora of talent, the PPS couldn’t come up with a “wellness initiative” or three.

Malarkey, our good friends. JIV is dishing out pure malarkey.


“How can we?” — motto in office of Christine Yon, Ward 1 councilor.




  1. Ron Kitterman
    September 24, 2013 at 3:08 am #

    Or you could write in Jennifer McGurn in Ward 3 seems the GOB’s got to her and put her through the spanking machine for daring to get involved in politics. Their threats and intimidation tactics worked pretty well telling her there were two strong candidates and she didn’t have a chance. She seems like she had the best chance from the start but it would send a message to the GOB’s anyway.

  2. anne white
    September 24, 2013 at 5:44 am #

    I agree with you partially about crew. My son in middle school took a rowing lesson 1 week over the summer at Onota lakes BRASS club. He really enjoyed it. We are nowhere near Thurston Howell income. We were just looking for something to keep him busy while we were both working (he had outgrown day camps).

    They should start it as a club and if it gets the numbers like Lacrosse did and other schools to compete with then Pittsfield should consider it.

    Although I am no where near an expert about the finances of the school but arent alot of the sports payed for by the user fees the kids have to pay and the fund raising by booster clubs

    • danvalenti
      September 24, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

      Welcome to THE PLANET. Excellent points.

  3. danvalenti
    September 24, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

    That’s reason enough to write in anybody, RK.

  4. tito
    September 24, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    Prickly heat.

  5. tito
    September 24, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

    Christine kicked ass in Ward one! Congratulations, to the Real Deal…Yon!

    • Jim Gleason
      September 25, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

      You’re kidding I hope.

  6. Pat
    September 24, 2013 at 7:21 pm #

    Disagree with Yon being in touch with the people of the city since she voted for the food tax of .75 percent which has since hurt the poor and working poor who live here year round and can ill afford any more TAXES. I say this because in my discussion with Yon before she voted for the tax she informed me that the tax would only be a temporary measure until Pittsfield’s economy got a little better – well in the last few years, the city improved (although people like myself see little benefit) but the tax remains. Furthermore there is NO easy way to rescind a tax once implemented. Once a gov gets a hold of tax they do NOT ever want to see it go because they have already included future income from it in their wasteful spending. GET RID OF THE TAX – it has also opened the door to other future LOCAL TAXES they may decide to impose. They did it once and got away with it so what’s to stop them from doing it again!

    • billy
      September 25, 2013 at 4:45 am #

      Pat she rallied against the school budget is thing that’s going to raise your taxes .She keeps telling the council what’s going on in the school dept is unsustainable.The Mayor knows it but chooses not to lead.He lives in la la land.

  7. citrine
    September 24, 2013 at 7:23 pm #

    Caccamo is Capitanios puppet after all the drug news came up, they are using him to keep Capitanio in power behind the scenes.

    • danvalenti
      September 25, 2013 at 7:40 am #

      A most interesting take. THE PLANET has heard that conjecture before. Thanks for the input.

  8. billy
    September 24, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

    Yon did great.Caccamo also was strong

    • Jim Gleason
      September 25, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

      OK Billy, a.k.a. Christine.

  9. JB
    September 24, 2013 at 10:10 pm #

    yon yea!

  10. SJO
    September 24, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

    Disappointed with the ward 3 results. The candidate that you endorsed and that on paper, was best qualified for the position did not make the ballot. Clearly, the voters did not watch the debate because if they had, they would not have cast a single vote for Germann who could not stammer two coherent words together. It is irritating to see the candidates that came in before Wells. It just shows everything that is wrong with the city of Pittsfield.

  11. Dana
    September 25, 2013 at 5:25 am #

    First off, I’ve never posted on this website before and would like to make a few points. I read the planet daily because I want unfiltered news and incite into our local politics and I thank you for your service.

    However, I’m dissapointed in your endorsements for yesterday’s election. Lisa Tullly is a very fine women who has served our community well over the years. Tammy Ives by all accounts including her own knows very little about ANY of the issues. Just due to Lisa’s friendship’s you discount her credibility entirely.

    Additionally, your endorsement of Richard Latura was very troubling. This man’s reputation is very poor and if you wish to have another trashy electable official then he is your choice.

    No person in this city deserves a seat on the counicl for than Nicholas Caccamo. He is a very hard working young man who I have personally seen attend most city council meetings over the past 4 years. I have had the pleasure to speak with him several times over the years and he’s always impressive.
    Nicholas is liked by not just the GOB but by all walks of people from every side of politics. He is a sweet boy and from my experiencing too stubborn and independent to be influenced by the establishment. This is why this boy did so well yesterday.

    I hope that next time you look into your candiates more closely.

    • danvalenti
      September 25, 2013 at 7:38 am #

      Many thanks for your contributions here. We appreciate the input, and, of course, the November campaign will speak in a language all its own. I approach it with an open heart and mind.

    • citrine
      September 25, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

      Its Sean who has the bad reputation not Richard…unfortunately you can not pick your family. Nicholas arrived in Pittsfield mere days before his papers were turned in…. I do not see that as much commitment. I applaud someone under 30 wanting to be active in change, but we need people who are settled in Pittsfield to help our neighborhoods

      Ward 1 should be interesting as well. Good luck to all involved

      • Scotty Bo
        September 26, 2013 at 8:22 am #

        Citire. Nicholas was on vacation in the Western part of The United States. When he heard of Paul not running he cut his vacation short to fly back to Pittsifeld. I think that shows commitment.

        Penalizing people for going on vacation.

        Your assertions that Paul Capatanio is pulling strings is the type of cooked up paranoia that plauges Pittsfield hick politics.

        First Paul Capatanio has to have a coherent idea on ANYTHING and secondly what types of strings will be pull making sure that those pot holes get filled. It’s laughable.

        • citrine
          September 28, 2013 at 4:55 pm #

          You should ask Nicholas WHO flew him back… my bet is the Capatanios

          Either way, yes you are correct he is committed to be willing to come back regardless of who paid for it. Everyones allowed to do what they want of course.

          Capatanio is backing Caccamo ….so he must of had one coherant idea to support 🙂

          • danvalenti
            September 29, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

            We shall be putting this Q to NC.

  12. skier1
    September 25, 2013 at 8:52 am #

    Yes Dan, Tammy Ives as sweet as she may be didn’t know what PEDA was and its in the ward she was trying to win.

  13. Jim Gleason
    September 25, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    Dan, how can you endorse yon and Ives in 1? yon, how can I out this nicely, isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer and is a bought and paid for GOB. Ives couldn’t answer or make an intelligent point in the debate I watched. lisa Tully was by fasr the most qualified out of those three to be elected.

    • danvalenti
      September 25, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

      Thanks, Jim.

  14. Billy
    September 25, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

    I applaud Mrs Tully for her job as a nurse. It is a noble profession
    I just ask what has she done?
    1)I have never seen her at any Tyler St business group?
    2) I never saw her fighting to keep a Methadone Clinic out of a neighborhood. taking on not only Spectrum but a Mayor who said it provided ” job opputunities”.really? Saying you care about an issue and actually being there arm and arm for you neighbors. Is another thing.Getting beat up for taking on what was right to do.
    3). I have never seen her challenge. The city solicitor who by court documents had given away the store.when the previous solicitor had won 3 times in court.? Then the mayor assembles a mob instead of answering questions to put serious legal lapses In better light .
    4) I have never seen her until this election season in any Morningside Neiegborhood Group. Or any similar capacity.
    In Ward 1? Having a photo op with the Mayor and anyone his loyal flavors of the month means nothing except campaign literature.
    we have serious fiscal issues With unfunded pension liability. And we need a proven free thinker and one that has proven it over and over again. I love block parties myself but what does making potato salad mean? show me where you have been in the neighborhood. Getting your hands dirty with The tough stuff of governing I have never seen you before this year.

    • dusty
      September 25, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

      Every body has a first year don”t they?

      • billy
        September 25, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

        i agree dusty. Dana said she did a lot. all i asked was what?

    • danvalenti
      September 25, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

      The issue of unfunded pension liabilities is an issue the GOB would rather you not bring up. It’s considered “disloyal.”

    • levitan
      September 28, 2013 at 10:07 pm #


      With Heroin a local scourge and possibly tied to most police blotter reports, why would you want a council person to drive out the only proven form of treatment?

      The fact that a nurse supports methadone treatment, with Spectrum recognized for professionalism and effectiveness, just lends credibility to the treatment.

      You will not see heroin addiction and related crimes drop without treating the ill.

      • levitan
        September 28, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

        As for the Solicitor thing, winning three battles does not win the war; and the City of Pittsfield could not win it’s suit to keep Spectrum out of downtown business regulated Pittsfield. The cost of losing that suit would have cost us the damages owed to Spectrum and State/Federal sanctions for violating ADA regulations.

        Monies payed by you and me. A sensible business person and lawyer does not fly to economic sanctions just to say no to Spectrum. There’s no principle to fight for there, just the money.

      • danvalenti
        September 29, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

        You’ve been working OT. Thanks for the support.
        To answer the Q you pose here, methadone is not a “proven form of treatment.” It’s a “proven form of maintenance.” It substitutes one addiction for another, and causes almost as many problems as it addresses.
        Appreciate your input, though.

  15. The Professor and Mary Ann
    September 26, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    Ward 3 has a lot more problems than filling a few potholes.For the past two years our City councilor was incommunicado .And what do we have in Ward 3 now? Vacant ,rotting homes,a speedway on Holmes Rd. and Dorchester Ave- a combination of which is the NEW Rt 7! Non- profit,non- taxable group homes appearing without notice,increased vagrancy,crime and traffic.Our previous councilor was MIA,therefore the problems have a 2 year jump on Ward 3.This is an important choice for Lakewood.We need someone to make noise!Choose Wisely!

    • danvalenti
      September 26, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

      Thanks, PROF.