IS MAYOR DAN BIANCHI, a.k.a., Mr. HIDE, SCARED OF SITTING DOWN WITH THE PLANET FOR A LIVE INTERVIEW? WHAT ELSE CAN AN INQUIRING MIND CONCLUDE BASED ON MR. HIDE’S REMARKS ON THE STURGEON SHOW? READ ON, FEARLESS EXPLORER, READ ON
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, SEPT. 13, 2013) — On Bill Sturgeon‘s radio show yesterday, the talkmeister asked Mayor Dan Bianchi why Bianchi refuses to sit down to an interview with THE PLANET. As you may recall, we have:
(a) Invited the mayor to do this, given that he is unopposed on the ballot and given his stated preference for a chance to talk about his record in the campaign. Where else will he get that chance … in an honest, open, and objective forum, that is. THE PLANET discounts ribbon cuttings and the countless opportunities for feel-good, rah-rahs we’re sure his “campaign” is setting up. We proposed a one-hour live TV interview, no notes, just impromptu questions and answers, and he never responded to our invitation. The offer still stands.
(b) We have also contacted Bianchi personally or his office several times of late, seeking comments on news stories that THE PLANET has shared, and he has refused to get back to us. Seems that when you’re unopposed, suddenly, you can grow a set of balls. He figures that with no opponents there are no electoral consequences.
In response to Sturgeon’s question, Bianchi first said words to the effect of “Why should I grant Valenti an interview?” Now this stunning answer has many excellent responses. including:
A.) Because it’s your job, Mr. Transparency. You did campaign on being transparent during the 2011 nail-biter, where many, especially Peter Marchetti‘s supporters, say Valenti‘s endorsement of you over Marchetti gave you the 53 votes you needed (a swing of the 106 margin of victory) to win.
B.) Because Valenti is the only person who will dare put Your Highness on the hot seat. He’ll play hard ball and give you chin music. If you had confidence and truth on your side, it seems to us that you would relish the opportunity.
C.) Valenti is a journalist, a member of the press, and a man who takes his responsibilities as a member of the Fourth Estate seriously. He represents your constituents, Mayor Transparency, who do not have the opportunities, the means, or in many cases the skills needed to conduct such an interview.
D.) Because you owe it to every man, woman, and child in the city. Think of it this way, Mr. Mayor: “It’s for The Children.” That lame argument has been used each budget cycle — and you have used it twice — to pick the pockets of good, honest, hard-working taxpayers. “It’s for The Children.”
E.) Because, as you publicly stated in the Boring Broadsheet, you saw the campaign as the opportunity to talk about your record. That’s big talk when you know you won’t face opposition. You didn’t expect you would be called on it, did you.
F.) Because it would give you a chance to explain where you were during the Scopes Monkey Trial and if you were the Hanging Judge and the Grand Designer in that travesty of justice.
G.) Because it would allow you an opportunity to name names of the what you claim are the many former political opponents who saw the futility in running against you, because you’ve done such a great job. You actually said that to the BB. You don’t mind talking to them because now that you are the head GOB, the BB won’t dare ask you an uncomfortable question. “It’s for The Advertisers.” Who are these people? Can you name them? Barry Clairmont? Chris Yon? Marchetti? Jimmy Ruberto? John Krol? Just which people did you mean?
The list of possible good answers is limitless. Sturgeon’s was maybe the best of all: Why should you agree to be interviewed? “Because tons of people read THE PLANET.” When Sturgeon pressed, the mayor emphatically said “No” in response to an interview with us.
It’s no skin off of our proboscis. It frees us that much more time to laze in the pool, sipping on our iced lemonade.
The mayor apparently toils under the illusion that overtakes so many good people when they get a little share of the power they so desperately crave: It goes to their heads. Bianchi has turned out to be a classic in this case, a perfect example of The Barney Fife Syndrome — A mousy deputy in a hick town who thinks he’s J. Edgar Hoover.
Bianchi, who did a serviceable job as a councilor in Ward 6 for 10 years, found his inner Mr. Hyde (as in “Dr. Jekyll and”) — we should say, for the purposes of accuracy, Mr. Hide — after he became mayor and proved such a nothing and nobody. It has been said that when Dan Bianchi slips his hands under one of them “wave hand in front for a paper towel” machines you find in restaurant bathrooms, nothing happens. The machine doesn’t realize that anyone is there.
The entire saga has the makings of a rather interesting page turner: “The Strange Case of Dan Bianchi and Mr. Hide.”
Hide. That’s what he’s doing from the only media outlet in the area that dares get in his face about his record. Wonder what the mayor will do if, during Dan Valenti‘s NOTA sticker campaign for mayor, the ersatz challenger demands a series of live debates? What will Mr. Hide do? Hide, of course.
For political reasons, we entirely understand the mayor’s position. In political terms, he sees it as a lose-lose proposition. With no ballot opponent, he can be choosy, all of which goes to prove a contention that many have made about Bianchi: That he’s thinking always in selfish political terms, not in terms of what would be best for the entire city. In that respect, of course, he’s no different than most of the others in that duplicitous line of work called “politics.”
For some reason, Mr. Hide has become extremely nervous with the way THE PLANET has been asking questions about his actions, his record as mayor. Why, Gertrude, you’d think he was hiding something. You’d think there were two sets of books. You would think there was evidence of ax murders on City Hall steps.
Gee whiz, Superman, is THE PLANET that threatening? A few little questions? Jeepers, Mr. Kent, can it be that one little online journalist might dare suggest to the king that he’s bare-assed?
As you may be aware, there is a movement afoot, not begun by us incidentally, to write-in Dan Valenti for mayor in the upcoming election. We are not going to discourage this effort, because we believe there must be some kind of option. No one, least of all the occupant of the corner office, should get a skate. Mr. Hide has offered a monstrous piece of fiction in explaining why he’s unopposed, saying that he’s done such a great job, any possible opponents see the futility of such an action. If ever an election called for a “None of the Above” (NOTA) option, it’s this one. That is why we offer Dan Valenti as the sacrificial electoral lamb, both in September and November.
THE PLANET, and We The People, know Mr. Hide is unopposed because he has taken a city already on its heels and pushed it past the tipping point to impoverishment. He has for two budgets in a row mindlessly — that is, without providing evidence of strategy or purpose — grown the city budget by millions each swipe. He has grown the cost of running the city by almost 20% in two years: Counting capital expenses, Pittsfield’s budget has ballooned past $140 million, more than 70% of which has gone to the dysfunctional public school system. Tell us, has you pay check risen by 20% over that same time?
For two years straight, he has raised your taxes, demanding that you pay to Caesar more of what little coin you manage to keep in your pocket at the end of each month and year. If you are a homeowner, your services are down and your taxes are up. If you are a small business, the mayor has made you less competitive through an onerous tax rate, which he has jacked up two straight times.
As THE PLANET revealed yesterday in Mayor Hide’s bizarre listing of his “accomplishments” in office — literally numbering the amount of certificates he’s given out, the ribbon cutting he’s attended, and the fourth grade science fairs at which he has appeared — Bianchi has no record. He’s been invisible, a no-show. Evidently, “mailing it in” is what Mr. Hide meant by “transparency” in the 2011 campaign. He would leave no footprints. You couldn’t tell if he was there or not.
Sad to say, but in the Corner Office for the past two years, there has been no “there” there.
Clearly, the No. 1 issue in this campaign is the city’s finances. The witless increase in the budget, most of it done to appease the Special Interests and the GOB, has to stop. So does the automatic increase in the bottom line. As mayor, Dan Valenti would make an unbreakable, cast-in-stone promise: His first budget would call for a reduction in city spending. The FY14 cost of running the city would be reduced. Valenti also pledges that the tax rates for homeowners and businesses will decrease based on his budget proposal. This is not a promise. This is not a threat. This is a given. Lower taxes, reduced spending.
For those of you who may have missed it, yesterday we were challenged to provide three specifics of the Valenti campaign. We wrote in the instant:
1. By far the biggest issue facing Pittsfield is its out-of-control finances. Each term, going back almost a generation (since the GOB took hold) it has been automatic that the cost of running the city will increase. The tax hikes for both businesses and homeowners likewise have each time been automatically hiked. Associated with this issue of “finances” is the unaddressed matter of OPEB (other post-employment benefits) owed by taxpayers to city employees. That tab of unfunded liabilities is more than $300,000,000. It’s what did Detroit in, and other cities as well, that did not pay attention. As mayor, I would submit a budget less than the previous one, even if it’s by $1 less (the FY 14 budget in which Bianchi raised the budget by millions). Too many hard-working people have had to scramble to pay more taxes. They tightened their belt. It is time city government does the same.
2. Education. Out of a $137 million city budget (not counting capital expenses of millions more) the schools eat up anywhere between $90 and $100 million. That’s the place to begin addressing the budget. I would let the superintendent and the school committee know that the honeymoon is over. I would recommend keeping all the teaching staff but thin out the administrative ranks, which have over the years grown to ridiculous proportions. Example: Four superintendent-level positions, making well more than $100,000 a year not counting benefits. I would push for a revamped dress code and introduce a measure requiring school uniforms for both middle and high schools. That will eliminate the competitive teen-age clothing issues, save parents money, increase classroom performance, and help put the adults back in charge. There would be many other ideas for trimming the budget. Some are big (the school department should not be in the transportation business) and some small.
3. Business development. We have a plethora of entities supposed to create “jobs.” They have been failures. This includes PEDA, Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, 1Berkshire, etc. They have created two jobs: a con job and a snow job — Cushy jobs for executive directors and lots of staff. Few jobs for the local economy. My idea is to (a) abandon the current philosophy of “sitting in Schwab’s drug store and hoping to be discovered.” That doesn’t work. You have to get out there. Many ways to do that, including attending appropriate conventions, trade shows, and the like. (b) I would also seriously look into reformulating the duties of the OCD director and give him more of a mandate with task (a).
There. There’s three things. These are Reader’s Digest versions of what I would do. This list of three doesn’t include public safety, infrastructure, and other important areas.
BY FAR, THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE IS REELING IN CITY (GOVT) SPENDING.