PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, SEPT. 16, 2013) — It’s easy to measure.

You know THE PLANET has rattled the cages and shaken the walls as measured by the way the GOB apologists, particularly Dan Bianchi and his Stooges, have responded to our most recent criticisms and analyses of the disastrous job he has done as mayor of Pittsfield for the past two years. Bianchi hasn’t responded, not even with the common courtesy of a reply. That tells you everything.

We find it so amusing that in years past, going back to his Ward 6 days, when Bianchi wanted to curry our favor, including in Campaign 2011 and even in his first term in office, he couldn’t get enough of THE PLANET. Beginning with our questioning his handling of Spectrumgate, however, all of a sudden he’s never in or around when we come a calling.

“I’m sorry. The mayor is unavailable.” We feel sorry for the underlings who have to maintain this fiction, because their boss, for some reason, has a dreaded fear of sitting down with us. That’s all we asked: That, given the mayor’s free ride in Campaign ’13, he sit down with us to take questions about his record these past two years.

In brief on Spectrumgate, when three of Our Right Honorable Good Friends on the city council questioned the mayor’s actions and particularly those of the city solicitor regarding Spectrum Health Services, the mayor called THE PLANET, asking if we could meet with him in the corner office.

We dropped everything and did so, eagerly wanting to hear his explanations about Spectrum in light of the councilors’ accusations. At that meeting, we informed the mayor, his director of administrative services, and the city solicitor that we had a similar date the next day with councilors Clairmont, Krol, and Lothrop to hear their version of the same events. The mayor didn’t seem pleased, but we explained that as an investigative reporter, we had to hear from the other side.

To be honest, after leaving the mayor’s office that day, his explanations sounded reasonable. THE PLANET went into the meeting with Clairmont, Krol, and Lothrop with an open mind but expecting that these three were on a political mission to show up Bianchi. For three hours, THE PLANET listened to the presentation of the three. It included information, documents, and exhibits that the mayor and city solicitor possessed but did not share with us. Combining the two sets of records, THE PLANET was able to construct a scenario of events as they played out that had in our judgment the highest degree of reliability. In short, we found that the councilors had furnished the more truthful version of events.

We went with it and published our story. That’s when the mayor stopped answering our calls.

What the mayor evidently doesn’t realize (or has forgotten or doesn’t want to acknowledge), on practically all stories, a newsmaker who clams up does not prevent THE PLANET from getting the goods if we are bound and determined to do that, particularly concerning the episodes and incidents they would rather we not know about. When there’s something to hide, even though the main source(s) won’t talk, there’s almost always several people who know about it, don’t like it, and are willing to talk.

It’s an game played by many officials, especially those who have an immature understanding of how reporters flush out stories. Here’s what they do: When they don’t want We The People to know about something, they cover it up. They do so knowing neither the Boring Broadsheet nor any other local mainstream media will do their jobs, either through laziness, ineptness, or through threats from GOB types who may control advertising dollars. These local mainstream media are to investigative journalism what Benedict Arnold was to loyalty. That means you only have to juke the Pittsfield Gazette.

Oh, wait: That leaves THE PLANET. How do you deal with that? Oh, the conundrum! Oh, the humanity!

The mayor’s conclusion, apparently, is that if you give us the silent treatment, the story goes away. Well let us tell him something: It doesn’t if we decide that it doesn’t. Period.

Also apparently, Bianchi doesn’t realize that we have our spies, plants, secret agents, and gumshoes literally in every city department, including his office. It’s a large “Rolodex” of sources that we’ve built over the years. No one in the city can top it. We also have a massive network of informants on the city’s mean streets. If “it”  happens, there’s a 99% percent chance of THE PLANET finding out about it. Indeed, we are but an Army of one aided but many reserves, “a one-man mob scene” as we’ve been described in the press (March issue, Berkshire Living magazine).

We’ve lost count of the many stories that come our way. After we’ve checked them out and done our due diligence, many deservedly vanish into the vapor, not having held up to our tests. Some of the remaining bear out but aren’t worth a report or comment. The tiny handful of others, though, beg to be revealed. That’s when we go to work. That’s when we don’t go away.

We simply do not go away when we got our sights set on a target.

This means that when Bianchi or any other newsmaker doesn’t give us his version of events, if we’re interested, we get it elsewhere and often from those who have little love for the mayor. Our professionalism requires us to triangulate all information and, to the best of our ability given our crazy tight deadlines, determine where the truth lies. Like all media, we aren’t perfect, but we have a darn good track record for nailing it. You don’t last as long as we have in this business, in a town with the vengeful politics of  Pittsfield, as long as we have by being among the best for truth and accuracy.

This all means that when the mayor refuses to comment, he’s only hurting himself — not his re-election bid, which is all but certain, seeing that he has no balloted opposition. Rather, he’s hurting something much more serious and deeper. The hurt we refer to is more about the inner hurt — his integrity, his ability to look himself in the mirror, his self-respect, and how he is viewed by good, honest, decent, fair-minded people: The very people that he has for two budgets in a row clobbered financially.

It is sad to witness. This otherwise decent man appears to have been driven to sell himself out all in a desperate bid to hang on to power. It’s a form of gluttony that overtakes many people when they have just a tiny taste of that most intoxicating of concoctions.

As the Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski, The Little Guys in Pittsfield, well, they don’t like much what’s gone on in the past two years, a first mayorl term of n.o.t.h.i.n.g. This fact will become discoverabe when you see how well the blanks do against the mayor’s free ride. That’s not even counting the handful or so of votes the write in non-candidate, Dan Valenti, will receive. Remember, in his final re-election to his Ward 6 seat, the blanks beat Bianchi in 6B.

When THE PLANET stepped up our coverage of the mayor, it led to our increasing criticism of the mayor not because our minds were made up in any kind of prejudicial way but because of the poor job Dan Bianchi is doing for The Little Guy. If Step One in the administration’s strategy to “take care” of THE PLANET is stonewalling it, Step Two would be the smear tactics. Some of the mayor’s “people” have responded not by addressing our arguments but with personal attacks. We don’t mind, because that’s the proof that we’ve won the argument.

You find the mayor’s Stooges hard at work at the behest of their masters  on such reliable registers of the marketplace of ideas as the “social media” and by word of mouth. We delight in all of it, not for ourselves but the people for whom we work: a.k.a., We The People. THE PLANET fights for them, and for them, we take the best shots of the rattled, which are but their BBs fired at our battleship.

Bianchi actually told the other BB, the Boring Broadsheet, that he’s unopposed because he’s done such a fantastic job as mayor that the mere shadow of his greatness passing over the grasstops has scared all possible opponents away. In fact, the mayor gone one step beyond. He has told us that not only are his political opponents not opposing him, they’ve actually joined the cause. This being the Boring Broadsheet, of course, they didn’t follow up with the obvious: “Can you name some of these former political rivals who now support you?” No one with a free-thinking brain believes Bianchi.

Here’s the true reason Bianchi is unopposed:  His ineptness and his Not Ready for Prime Time performance in the Corner Office. It  has so deflated what little electoral life there was in the city, that apathy has been driven even further down into out and out hopelessness. The city (barely) elected him with great hope for positive change. Bianchi has let them down in a precipitous manner. He presides over a city that does not believe in him.

Sadly, Bianchi has proven his lack of character numerous times while in office (e.g., the legal white flag of surrender during Spectrumgate, his shameful no-show during the Scopes Monkey Trial, and his contempt for due process re the Open Meeting Law, to name three). Rather than be repelled by the rotten-to-the-core politics of Pittsfield and trying to change them, he’s proven to be a right happy piggy, more than content to wallow in the guano. That’s the sure sign that he’s fallen to GOB-‘n-Mouth Disease.

Bianchi has let his inner milquetoast out as mayor, failing to advance one visionary initiative or offer any glint that he’s willing to do anything that might tip the crooked game a tiny, teensie bit the way of bedraggled taxpayers. Quite the opposite. Bianchi has at every chance he’s received stuck it to the good, decent, law-abiding citizens of Pittsfield in the form of repressive tax hikes, more government spending, the handing out of unsustainable pay hikes on the school side (particularly to the administration), and a reduction of services.

It is not an overstatement to make this judgment now of Mayor Dan Bianchi’s first term: He is, arguably, one of the most inept, incompetent mayors of modern times and maybe even of all time.


“Why should she give her bounty to the dead? / What is divinity if it can come / Only in silent shadows and in dreams?”Wallace Stevens, from section 2, “Sunday Morning,” (1915)




  1. GMHeller
    September 15, 2013 at 11:45 pm #

    Mr. Valenti,

    And just which political party does Mayor Bianchi represent and pander to in order to ram through his repressive tax hikes, increased government spending, those expensive hand-outs to school administrators, and reduction of services?
    Which political party is is overseeing and managing Pittsfield’s decline?

    • danvalenti
      September 16, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

      Let me take a wild guess: The Dems? Except in this case, political party doesn’t explain it fully. There have been nominal “Repubs” that caved in just as much or more to the GOB as “the udder guys.” It’s the rotten GOB political culture in the city, which has had a generation to establish itself. Ridding it is messy and courageous work. Those who get to power find out soon that unless you have an Iron Will and constitution, with fearlessness and a sense of honesty and decency thrown in, you’d better keep your mouth shut and “play ball.” It’s a shame, but that’s what the good citizens are up against.

  2. dusty
    September 16, 2013 at 12:53 am #

    I remember when Bianchi fought for the little guy during the Civic Authority battle. He was then truly a hero of the people. Something has happened since then. I do not know what changes men to such a degree but men do have weaknesses.
    Which one got him?

  3. Giacometti
    September 16, 2013 at 4:59 am #

    When one serves our city as a city councilor the time he or she serves is one year of service under the GIC, Their many years of
    service add up towards retirement. The citizens of any community should never elect a former city councilor to be Mayor because the temptation to serve as Mayor to just increase their pension is to tempting under the guidelines of the State Retirement System
    ( GIC )…so when you ask what changes a person once they become a Mayor look no further than the pension they will get in the end for all their years of service as a City Councilor and then a Mayor

    • CarlosDanger
      September 16, 2013 at 8:22 am #

      Just the fact that coucilors and mayors, who typically only serve a few years (aka temporary employees), work only part time (even the mayor seems to be doing so), and get a pension at all, is very telling as to why taxes are ridiculously high and cities go bankrupt.

      • danvalenti
        September 16, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

        Great point. That’s the game, and as long as they can keep apathy high and citizen involvement low, they can do as they please.

      • Tim Bartini
        September 16, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

        Perhaps you check to see how many city councilors collect a pension. Do your experts know what GIC means? Group Insurance Commission It has nothing to do with retirement .

        • danvalenti
          September 16, 2013 at 7:25 pm #

          What is your view of Mayor Bianchi’s first term? Up or down?

    • danvalenti
      September 16, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

      This is as reasonable an explanation for Bianchi’s turn-about as any. Thanks, as always.

  4. Foxy Lady
    September 16, 2013 at 7:29 am #

    Yes something happened to Dan Bianchi when he became mayor. I think Giacometti has a good explanation. He doesn’t care about the people, he only cares about padding his pension. Plus, is he also working his old job at Global on city time? That’s what the water-cooler talk is in city hall.

  5. Nota
    September 16, 2013 at 7:46 am #

    Barry Clairmont will be getting my vote election day, thank you for wanting to form a committee concerning certain project costs. After listening
    to the Mayor at the September 3, council meeting over how he arrived at the underbid was astonishing at best. No particulars? a thirty year expert in gymnasium floors? the company wiling to do the work didn’t realize?

    • danvalenti
      September 16, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

      Clairmont is a wise choice for at-large, no doubt. He’s been the best councilor during this present term.

  6. Shakes His Head
    September 16, 2013 at 11:14 am #

    Caspar Milquetoast. Write it in.

    • danvalenti
      September 16, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

      Walter Mitty is a good one, as is Barney Fife.

      • Shakes His Head
        September 17, 2013 at 6:43 am #

        Barney at least had A bullet.

  7. Jonathan Melle
    September 16, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    If I lived in Pittsfield (where I grew up), I would proudly vote for Mayor Dan Bianchi. I believe that former Mayors Gerry Doyle and Jimmy Ruberto failed Pittsfield and handed Dan Bianchi a “shit sandwich”!

    • Joe Blow
      September 16, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

      Name just one accomplishment of Bianchi. He took that shit sandwich and added his own special sauce. I voted for the guy but has has just dug the hole deeper and has been a huge disappointment.

      • Jonathan Melle
        September 16, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

        You win. I cannot name one accomplishment that Mayor Dan Bianchi has done in his first term. Pittsfield politics is ran by the Good Old Boy network and Mayor Bianchi is a figurehead. Pittsfield politics is sad to think about!

        • danvalenti
          September 16, 2013 at 7:27 pm #

          Your honesty is commendable. There isn’t one substantial accomplishment of the mayor. He hasn’t even held serve. He has made the city a less safe, more expensive place to live and a more expensive city in which to do business. He has, moreover, presided over a failing school department.

          • Shakes His Head
            September 17, 2013 at 6:44 am #

            He can get the ball over the plate and has hired staff that can bang out a mean declaration.

  8. NBI
    September 16, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    Ok Dan, we get it. Bianchi is on your s@@t list. Can you move on to other topics now?

    For example, recent news articles reported that the city is amending the GE Consent Decree, to transfer ownership of land around Silver Lake, back to Pittsfield. Does amending the agreement in any way, present the opportunity of reopening the entire document. Where does MM stand on this? Wasn’t that one of her campaign promises? Can we continue to make amendments forever, as long as it’s doesn’t have a negative impact on GE or their responsibilities? Does this relieve GE of future liability on that land?

    And what about that $10 million needed to remove the foundations? You know that figure was pulled outta the same arse as the gym floor price. Can you imagine what the real number will be? I think I read that foundations cover 16 acres. That’s just mind blowing! Why the hell wasn’t that in the Consent Decree? Taxpayers will open their wallets once again so that a Super Walmart or such can be built. What do you think they’ll find under the foundations? Nice clean virgin soil? Doubt it. Also, who’s getting rich with all this remiadiation work? People need to know the answers to these things.

    On that one topic alone there’s plenty for you to dig into if you choose. I’m sure there are dozens of others, even more important. Ranting about an upcoming election of an unopposed mayor is both boring and below your talents. Please consider this request.

  9. dusty
    September 17, 2013 at 12:08 am #

    What the hell is going on at the Common? Those machines have been rearranging the dirt over there for months. Is it going to be a pitch and putt course? Is it a training ground for heavy machine operators? Or do they actually have a plan for something?

    Looks like a whole lot of nothing going on.

    • B. Clairmont
      September 17, 2013 at 5:31 am #


      There is a plan. It was conceived over 3 years ago (under the Ruberto administration) and many public hearings were held. There were four or five designs and one was chosen with much debate.

      Currently we are in phase two of four. Two years from now the park should look amazing. The plans are in City Hall if you want to check them out.

      This project has been funded with state money under the “gateway City” program.


      • dusty
        September 17, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

        Thank you Barry. Two more years huh? Are any of the people working on it local if you know?