PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, OCT. 25, 2013) — Leftovers from the Ward 6 debate:

* Icing It — Joe Nichols and THE PLANET happened to walk into the studios at the same time. We found it

PROF. VALENTI with some of his COMP I students. (Photo: Donna Todd Rivers)

fortuitous, since it allowed us an ice-breaking walk, going in. We met Joe’s wife and his step-daughter, and the the two of us went inside. “All I want, Dan, is for you to be objective,” he said. We replied with words to the effect of, “It never occurred to us to be any other way.” He was making an elliptical reference to the early expostulations he had raised about the format of the debate. If you’ll recall, at one point, he withdrew, calling our arrangements “totally unacceptable.” Truth is, once THE PLANET got him on board along with John Krol, it erased all the earlier drama. We learned long ago not to chase criticism, advice first given to us a generation ago by none other than the Aging Greek God, Peter Arlos. When it was over, we chatted with both candidates, then they both strolled over to Prof. Valenti’s COMP I students, who were there covering the event as an assignment.

* Studious in the Studio — The students took copious notes and followed the proceedings with great interest. We weren’t sure about this unusual assignment, but it met with success. The proof, of course, will be in the writing they produce, which The Professor shall have in hand next Wednesday. The experience reminded us of the observation made by John Holt, the great American educator, of how sometimes the best learning takes place outside the classroom. It was the first time in a TV studio for some and the first time attending a political debate for almost all. After it was over, both candidates came over to greet the students, and it made for interesting discussion.

Boby Language: Krol, left, and Nichols (Photo: PCTV frame grab)

* Armchair Politics — In the aftermath, Krol noted, “Well, it wasn’t my A game (I will happily admit it), but I think it helped show some clear distinctions between the two candidates.” It did do that, and THE PLANET heard from a number of Ward 6 voters who expressed that the TV show helped them decide in one direction or another. Nichols felt good about his performance, saying, “This was not a good night for John Krol.” One small bit of evidence: body language. If you watch the debate again on tape, or for the first time, pay attention to the manner in which both men are seated. Krol, especially as the hour went on, shifted forward in his chair, literally at times on the edge of his seat. Nichols sat back in a more relaxed, casual manner. Krol looked as if he was at the starting line of a race, which, in a sense, he was. Nichols looked like he was watching a fourth-grade music recital, which, in all senses, he wasn’t.

* Format Fun — As to the format, THE PLANET hopes that it shall be used more often by others. We suspect the reason it isn’t is

Want some adrenaline? Try moderating one of these sometime. From left — Krol, PLANET, Nichols. (Photo by Bill Sturgeon)

that it requires the moderator to be totally on top of the event. There’s no hiding behind a podium or desk, reading from canned questions, on autopilot. No painting by the numbers in doing a debate this way. One must go into it having already moderated the event in his or her head, having the prep down pat, and then be prepared to let fly on the improv. Unless you’ve tried doing this, live in real time and in the moment, before a live audience in a small TV studio with the french-fry lights kleiging away, you have no idea of the task. It’s not for the feint of heart.

* Fan Reaction — On Facebook, there was a lot of reaction and feedback to the Krol-Nichols debate. Jamie Giardina made this comment:

  • Not a fan of this moderator. He asks questions and doesn’t let them finish answering. He keeps on interrupting.

We welcomed the chance to respond, knowing that, for some if not a lot of viewers, seeing a debate done this way can be disconcerting, the way most change is for many, not on the merits but simply because it is, well, different. We replied:

  • Thanks for your input. I interrupt when I sense a candidate is not going to answer the question. It’s an old political trick: If you can get away with it, always gives an answer you feel safe giving, whether it co-responds to the question or not. As moderator, I try to act on behalf of the ordinary viewer, who gets mighty peeved when pols dance around the questions. We saw little of that tonight because of a combination of (a) I jump on it quick and (b) the candidates caught on quick. Both Joe and John, I thought, did a fine job of responding to the questions asked.

FB pot-stirrer Ron Kitterman, ever the wag, added:

  • I’m glad you asked that … like hell you are lol

Ron’s remark brought a chuckle, and it gave us a chance to expound:

  • @ RON the hell I wasn’t! Au contraire: I was pleased I had a chance to explain my format. Many people are used to their “grandfather’s debate”: podiums, memorized stump speeches, timed answers and responses, candidate not responding to what is asked. Our format, which we alone employ, brings out the best in candidates. The primary beneficiaries? The viewers.

At large councilor Melissa Mazzeo, who is up for re-election, wrote: “loved this type of debate. I thought it was well done and wish they were all done this way.”

We agree, MM.

Former Ward 4 councilor Mike Ward — still the owner of the greatest local political slogan, the classic, punning, “Ward for Ward 4” — wrote:

  • Thanks for putting this together at the last minute, Dan. You did a good job bringing out the style of the candidates. I was surprised you didn’t zing Joe for not watching the Tuesday night city council meeting on the day before his debate — not even as debate prep?

Our reply:

  • Thanks, Mike. I wasn’t aware that Joe didn’t watch. I probably would have let that pass (though can’t say for sure; in the moment always makes things look different). Watching council meetings should not be a “campaign issue.”

Ward followed up:

  • Sometimes the best debate subjects are late-breaking. Take Tuesday’s council meeting. Turns out that Pittsfield is at a crossroads in our ongoing relationship with GE. Should we negotiate the river cleanup as a team with our neighboring towns? It was hotly debated just 24 hours before the ward 6 debate and should have been required homework for both you and Joe.

Excellent point, the first. In fact, THE PLANET employed the strategy in our first question of the debate, directed at Krol, about the letter from former Mayor Paul Brindle, which had only been published that morning. Our counter:

  • Of course, JK could have brought this up but chose not to.

Nichols “liked” the comment.



Now THE PLANET begins to clean out the mail bag. We are glad to publish letters on any topic. To submit, please send an e-mail to You must include valid contact information. If you wish, we will withhold your name and identifiers. We provide this as a public service in the sole interest of The Free Marketplaceof Ideas. The views expressed in these letters are not necessarily those of THE PLANET.

‘Swept Under the Rug’


Comments: Some  investigative reporting would involve the very confirmed rumor that a local power broker construction company, complete with private jet at the Pittsfield Airport and connected to the “GOB,” has not paid personal property taxes for many years to the city. Very substantial amount of back taxes allegedly owed and overlooked, and quite possibly settled in a diminished amount. All swept under the carpet. — Mr. Ed

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‘Boring Broadsheet Strikes Again’


 Thought this was funny.  I don’t read the Eagle print edition, no value there, but I skim the online edition to see what they’re missing and withholding from the public.  I found it amusing that they are publicizing this debate, sponsored by the Berkshire Chamber, with a long story:
And yet not a peep about the debate going on right IN Pittsfield tonite [ED. NOTE: The writer is referring to the Ward 6 debate between Krol and Nichols, sponsored by this web site].  They really are fascinating — JG
PLANET’S REPLY: Yes, the BB’s ignoring this debate is a slap in the face to every citizen of Berkshire County.
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‘City Letting People Freeze to Death’


Last year an effort was made to provide a cot shelter for the homeless during the cold winter months.  The Salvation Army provided the space and Berkshire Co-Act provided the infrastructure.

Long story short … they exceeded their 52 days the permit allowed them to provide temporary housing by the city.  Because of that, the city will not renew the permit.

Efforts were made to have the shelter at the Mount Carmel Rec Center–again, all of the infrastructure provided by Berkshire Co-ACt to no avail.

The City Building inspector would not issue a shelter for housing 250 temporary beds without the installation of an $80,000 dollar sprinkler system.  All this in spite of the fact that the facility has more than sufficient egress and awake staff during the shelter operation.  The logic seems to be this:  “Let’s literally let people freeze to death because they might expire in a hypothetical fire.”

We have people breaking into buildings and starting fires for warmth every winter.  It seems like we could be proactive here.

Requests have been made for funding through the Block Grant by the city and 22 projects were funded ahead of the cot shelter, with no plans to offer any money for this need.  Where is the humanity?  Where is the morality? Do we not have an ethical obligation to do something?

The mayor has been contacted and nothing that I am aware is being done other than lip service.

Today a couple living in the wood in a city park] came to me looking for help.  I was harvesting carrots for the winter months for our meal sites in Pittsfield.

The reality:  they are homeless and it is cold outside.

We need a cot shelter in Pittsfield and the corner office will not help. — Russell Moody, pastor, Pittsfield Church of Christ.

PLANET’S REPLY: We know that many office holders in Pittsfield read this blog. Here’s an issue crying out for resolution. We wonder if anyone will step up to the plate and be a hero? We also are astounded at the lack of response from the corner office. We hope the letter writer persists there. 

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‘Supranowicz Move Another Non-Profit Ripoff”


Did you see [Mike] Supranowicz is leaving the 1B cabal?

He’s going to Hillcrest Ed. as the Director of Business Development.  Hillcrest has been trying to grow their dental business for some time now.  The dental shop was intended to serve the kids who are living there.  But just like Greylock FCU’s marketing department branching out as an actually ad agency that just happens to not pay taxes, Hillcrest Ed’s little dental department is now open to the public as a full service dental office that — you guessed it — just happens to not pay taxes.
Good thing Mike argued so strenuously against the PILOT concept in Pittsfield when that feckless exploratory committee was taking marching orders from “stakeholders” earlier this year….clearly showing which Berkshire Chamber constituency runs the show.
I have to go vomit now. have a nice night. — LA
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And there you have it, folks, another jammed-packed adventure on THE PLANET, which dares print what other local media fear: The Truth. Have a great weekend.
“I’m gonna tell Aunt Mary about Uncle John. He claims he has the misery but has a lot of fun. // Well long, tall Sally she’s build for speed, she got everything that Uncle John need. We’re gonna have some fun tonight.”Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr via Little Richard, 1964.



  1. Ron Kitterman
    October 25, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

    You’re a good reader of men Dan, thats important for the voter to see from the candidates. Much more beneficial than lawn signs and ballons. Thanks for acting as a moderator and thanks to the candidates for being gentlemen.

    • Kevin
      October 25, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

      Good one Ron. DV deserves a lot of credit & so do the two cands.

      • danvalenti
        October 25, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

        Thank you, KEV.

    • danvalenti
      October 25, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

      Noted, RK!

  2. Tito
    October 25, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    Thanks for being here for us, Planet..”. it is appreciated!

    • danvalenti
      October 25, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

      Much appreciated, TITO. We are doing what we can, and we see this effort as nothing other than a public service.

  3. C.Trzcinka
    October 25, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

    It sounds like your class got a real education in politics and debating. Learning in college often happens outside of classrooms but this learning would not happen without the classroom to motivate it.

    Reading the comments suggests that economics is not a strength for either candidate but Krol’s desire to raise taxes will make Pittsfield even less competitive than it is.

    • Thomas More
      October 27, 2013 at 7:19 am #

      One thing we didn’t learn from all this reporting of the debate is how many people attended. Please leave out of the count your students who were required to be there.

      • Tim
        October 28, 2013 at 7:45 am #

        Ever been to pctv? Theres no room for an audience to really be there. The point is to watch it on tv. That he was able to cram some students in there is impressive enough

  4. C.J.
    October 25, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    After watching the debate, I googled both candidates to learn more about them and their positions. One of the first sites shown was entitled, ” JOHN KROL, THE TAX INCREASE CITY COUNCILOR”. The site was called Topix and the post was started in 2011. It contained many vulgar and inappropriate comments directed at Krol, but some were reasonable. Apparently Krol’s position on taxes has been long standing.

  5. Tito
    October 25, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

    Wait until PrezLow gets in, no tax relief in sight!

  6. Giacometti
    October 25, 2013 at 9:03 pm #

    Concerning the need for a cot shelter for the homeless…The Berkshire Bank Foundation funds all kinds of feel good events for the community in the arts and in the schools.perhaps it could spearhead an effort to get funds from funding sources
    to support the need of keeping people from freezing outside this winter. Surely the Taconic Foundation, the Campaign for Human Development ( Catholic Relief Fund ) the Dayton Houston Foundation ( Target Stores ), The Goleb Foundation ( Price Chopper ) and Walmart can all contribute to this need before its too late…as for the shelter itself perhaps the Army or Navy Reserve Buildings might be used in this emergency. We are talking about human beings freezing in the cold this winter. Let’s be pro-active not just re-active and help save some lives.

    • dusty
      October 26, 2013 at 4:41 am #

      The mayor could make this happen if he cared to do so. We have a multi -million dollar park on First street, proposals for a new police station, city garage, and perhaps two hundred million for a new school. He has the United Way money. He has free cash.

      Perhaps the mayor could show a human side and do what he was elected to do, take care of some real people. Some of these homeless people may be bums but none of them deserve to freeze especially when the mayor seems to have money for all kinds of special interest projects.

  7. scott
    October 26, 2013 at 5:04 am #

    I think its terrible the city would be so ignorant and thoughtless of providing people in need of basic things like shelter and food. I have very little but am rich in family and love I will be donating what I can through the cold holiday season. Its anyone with the means to do so`s responsibility. Its our duty to help each other.

  8. Linda
    October 26, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

    I am sickened to learn of the city’s callousness and especially the mayor’s over the plight of the homelessness in winter. I never would have thought of Mayor Bianchi turning his back like this. I think Giacometi has good ideas for funding. Also why doesn’t someone on the city council step forward to lead this effort ?

  9. amandaWell
    October 26, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

    Oh, BIg Pappy, you’re going down tonight, oh mighty Pappy! Pappy, no D H for you! You’re a liability in the field, Big Pappy. SAWX go down again as it’s not in the Cards for little Pedroia and the bearded wonders.

    • scott
      October 27, 2013 at 4:56 am #

      You may be right after all and whats with these guys not being able to throw from home to third base? Don’t forget they tailed 1 win 2 loses in the playoffs as well. BELIEVE!

    • joetaxpayer
      October 28, 2013 at 4:04 am #

      Thank you Amanda Bynes for chiming in on the Sox. I know you have a CRAZY schedule. I believe Ortiz is hitting like a airplane 727. Keep up the good work!

  10. Giacometti
    October 26, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    My suggestions for funding the COTS program looks to private funds and corporate support…I can’t believe that Mayor Bianchi is not helping out as he is a decent person who cares for the community and would never turn his back on the needs of the homeless…he’s just not made of that kind of cloth.

  11. MrG1188
    October 27, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    As far as freezing…either pay to bring the place up to code…or override the sprinkler system ordinance for an emergency! As far as the Sox go, if you look at the Detroit series statistically, there is absolutely NO way they should have or could have won it. They were out hit by a large margin, out-pitched (in ERA) by an even larger margin. The Boston “Hero”, Ortiz, hit like a buck twenty for the series…so it goes to show that intangibles and timely hitting can overcome quite a lot. Unfortunately in this case…the Cards, especially in pitching & relief, are even better than the Tigers. Intangibles can only overcome so much.

  12. Russell Moody
    October 27, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

    For clarification… the biggest issue is the Building Inspector’s office, which then becomes a liability issue for the city. No one is going to burn to death on their watch. A hypothetical fire trumps the reality of freezing to death. Plain and simple. There is no liability for the city if people freeze. Although good business sense, the immorality of doing nothing is overwhelming. Man’s inhumanity to man… history is filled with it.


  13. amandaWell
    October 27, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

    Dear Pappy… Last night, was one of the greatest victories in the history of sports. When will the Manager begin to realize Breslow is not the answer. Pappy, you will be relegated to playing the field again tonight. You’re going down again, oh mighty Pappy, little Pedroia and the bearded wonders, really feel the heat, after the Cards shuffle the SAWX into oblivion?

  14. Nota
    October 27, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

    I was watching the Cincinati Bengals crucify the Jets today, after the game, or pummeling the players seemed to be laughing and joking with each other. Can you see the sixties Green Bay Packers or the Seventies Oakland Raiders doing this, no way. These prema donna’s make millions and treat these games like nothing happened. You gotta be hard up to root for some of these teams, year in and year out mediocrity reigns. Give the fans the money back.

  15. Tito
    October 27, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

    Good night St. Louis!

  16. Hilly Billy
    October 28, 2013 at 9:15 am #

    Anything from all you Sox haters today? What’s that? I can’t hear you..