PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, NOV. 13, 2013) — THE PLANET is doing some number crunching regarding this past election. Part of the exercise will be to compare what happened on Tuesday, Nov. 5, with what happened on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011. This is an eye-opener, and we will be presenting it in a soon-to-be future post.

Meanwhile, let THE PLANET point out a fact: The city of Pittsfield website is a taxpayer- funded online resource meant to provide citizens with access to various city departments, documents, forms, applications, news, and the like. It is not supposed to serve as a forum for politics. Let us point out another fact: Campaigning on the city’s website is as much a violation of the law as campaigning from inside city hall.

That didn’t stop the unopposed Dan Bianchi, however, from touting his political agenda (thinly disguised as “City Goals”) on the city website. Why would an unopposed mayor need to do that? It also didn’t stop his office from publishing the following press release, calling it “news.” You may have missed it, and we didn’t have the heart to share this with you during the “campaign”:

——- 000 ——-

Mayor Bianchi announces his plans to seek a second term.

Pittsfield:  Dan Bianchi announced today that he has taken out his nomination papers to run for re-election in November.  Stating his interest in continuing to serve the residents of Pittsfield, he outlines his plans for the coming term.

“It has been an absolute pleasure to serve as Pittsfield’s Mayor for the past 18 months.   I have been humbled by the enormous and diverse support I have received from people across the city during my first term in office.  The transition during this first term would not have been as successful without the support of hundreds of professional and talented city employees, whom I admire and respect greatly.  I look forward to continuing to work with them to serve the residents of Pittsfield for another term,” Mayor Bianchi said.

Bianchi added, “The past 18 months have been busy.  My Plan for Pittsfield two years ago was to reinvent Pittsfield as a city of successful and innovative small businesses that continue to create jobs.  We have made progress with the creation of the Small Business Fund; the expansion of the PEDA board; and by securing the first tenant, with more Life Sciences projects in the planning stages.    I recognize there is more to do and I remain committed to an aggressive economic development program for the City.”

“In addition, the City Council and I have worked hard to execute a full charter review, staffed with outstanding members who brought diverse talent to the task. This revised charter will be on the ballot in November for the residents of Pittsfield to consider.   Our schools are paramount to our city’s success.  I plan on moving aggressively on the career vocational High School at Taconic, and forging a new partnership with community businesses to develop supportive programming. With a successful teacher’s contract behind us, new teacher evaluation underway, and plans to continue renovating our high schools; the Pittsfield Public Schools remains a top priority and will be vital to future economic development.

“The Pittsfield City budget is a comprehensive breakdown of essential priorities without removal of quality measures.   I have kept my promise to maintain vital city services and protect city workers. Compromises have not interfered with overall improvement.

The up and coming Community Centers at both Francis Plaza and Dower Square will benefit many citizens, young and old. The various wellness programs filling up the calendars will improve our lives in one way or another. This new and exciting initiative is supported by many organizations such as Berkshire Health Systems, the Berkshire United Way, and individuals who wish to share their programs with people who will benefit the most.

“And, lastly, but certainly not least, particularly in the wake of what is happening across our state and throughout our country, public safety has been a top priority.  With the initiation of a Neighborhood Watch Program, Pittsfield now has hundreds of residents trained to serve as the eyes and ears of the police in an effort to reduce crime and maintain safer neighborhoods.  There is more to do and over the next two years, my plan for Pittsfield will invite our good citizens to participate. “

——- 000 ——-

We shall, in the interests of time and of the reader’s sensibility, not comment on the flaccid prose that drips off the page of this press release to die a lonely, marooned death on the cutting-room floor, where the hungry microbes shall gobble them up. THE PLANET shall only say that the listless style perfectly captures this mayor, a man afraid to lead, a man afraid to sit down with a member of the press who might ask something other than puffball questions.

THE PLANET tried again Monday night, sending the mayor this e-mail:

I know you’ve been ducking me.
No reason to. Just meet with me, for coffee, anonymously, and let’s talk.
C’mon. We go back too long for you to keep this up.
I want to get get in synch with what you’re trying to do. I can’t if you won’t talk to me.
Come on.
Many thanks,

We ended with our phone number. We haven’t heard a peep yet from the corner office.

THE PLANET cannot sufficiently account for the mayor’s dread of sitting down with us. We can only conclude that he must be guarding some terrible secret that, perhaps, upon which he is afraid we will discover. He isn’t the first mayor to stop communications with THE PLANET, and he won’t be the last. We take it as a compliment that we are doing a fair job trying to balance out the fawning coverage granted to the corner office by the mainstream media. The compliant, dead media, by the way, plays a big part in our election comparison that we mentioned up front.

THE PLANET will again remind Bianchi that he has an obligation to make himself available to the press. We recognize that he can choose to duck this responsibility, which he has done since the summer, but we wonder how this squares with the mayor’s self-touted boastings of “transparency”? We shall continue to make requests of the mayor’s time. If he continues to ignore, we shall take more forceful, assertive steps. Again, he has an obligation to We The People, which this website, and this website alone among virtually all local media, truly represents.

——- 000 ——-

Now let’s conduct a thought experiment. Scroll through the “News” link on the city’s website, pretending you’re a business owner looking at the city for investment purposes. You will see these headlines:

* “Antiques 101 — Berkshire Athenaeum — May 30th”

* “Pitch, Hit, and Run Competition.”

* “Edible Flowers: Ideas for Flowers in Your Cooking!”

* Community Centers Ribbon Cutting Invitation”

* “Mayor Bianchi to Commemorate National Get Outdoors Day”

* “Ribbon Cutting Ceremony — Pittsfield Visitors Center”

* “Creating Gourmet Cupcakes” [THE PLANET’s personal favorite]

Those are actual headlines, folks. We have made nothing up in the sampling.

Now, as that pretend business checking out Pittsfield as a potential site for location or expansion, what would your verdict be, based on this?

We thought so.


“Walked down by the bathing pond to try and catch some sun. / Saw at least 100 school girls sobbing in their handkerchiefs as one.”Jethro Tull, from “Aqualung,” (1972).




  1. Jim Gleason
    November 13, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

    Well, at least the council didn;t approve accepting money to ruin Springside Park with a dog park. One step up, two steps back.-The Boss.

    • Downtown Dweller
      November 13, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

      I wouldn’t mind seeing a dog park @ Springside. Lots of people walk their dogs around there anyway. It would be nice to have a designated space within the park to bring one’s dog.

      • danvalenti
        November 13, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

        The Dog-do Park is OK in principle, but $137,000? That’s seems excessive.

        • Downtown Dweller
          November 14, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

          I didn’t get to see the entire city council meeting (had to walk my dog and, yes, I do clean up after her) so I missed the dollar amount. I’m not sure just what that kind of money would be going for. Anyway, I would welcome a dog park.

          Hearing someone from the Friends of Springside Park speak during the open mic portion of the meeting, it sounds as if people dump way more in the park than the dogs do (not sure if I intend the pun or not.)

      • Jim Gleason
        November 14, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

        @DD; Are you from pittsfield or an import? People from here hold our parks in very high regard, especially Springside, a jewel in the middle of our city. Most people walk their dog at Springside as much for exercise for themselves as for their dog. To ruin a natural resource like that park with dog feces and urine concentrated in one spot would be sacrilege to me and many others who grew up in Springside Park. Let people walk their dog on the paths and in the fields, not baseball fields, and leave things as they are. Like the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.

        • Downtown Dweller
          November 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

          Born and raised here. I used to skate there in the winter on the frozen pool. I also am aware that it’s been a huge drinking spot for kids. It’s been that way since I was a kid. People are already ruining the park by dumping their trash there. As I mentioned above, I heard one of the Friends of Springside talk about the trash generated from the clean up. There are already people here who don’t have respect for the park. I understand you feel strongly about it. I feel strongly about a dog park. Doesn’t have to be Springside. Just thought it would be nice.

          • Jim Gleason
            November 14, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

            It might be nice somewhere other than Springside, i agree with you on that. Maybe Kirvin, where there are not the natural diversities that are at Springside. I just love that park and would hate to see this happen there.

    • Tom Sakshaug
      November 13, 2013 at 6:39 pm #

      The Council tabled the acceptance pending a review by a new ad-hoc committee, since the site was approved in 2007. The money will still be available from the donor, the Stanton Foundation, for design and construction, after this process. The site may well be changed.

  2. Jim Gleason
    November 13, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    The full lyric from the song is, Same old story, it’s a fact/ One step up and two steps back, from a song I can’t find by The Boss, Bruce Springsteen.It seems like every time we as a city do something good or smart, the powers that be do two stupid things, like in the case of electing Lisa Tully in Ward 1, then electing Krol; in 6 and Barry Mason at large. Same old story….

  3. Ron Kitterman
    November 13, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    GOD save the Commonwealth

  4. dusty
    November 13, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

    Bianchi initiated the Neighborhood Watch Program? Most of the country had this in the 70s and Pittsfield is just finding out about it?

    • danvalenti
      November 13, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

      Yes, and it’s been a part of and a practice in Pittsfield long before the current administration.

  5. Mr. X
    November 13, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

    Jimmy Jet

    What’s wrong with Lisa Tully? Why not give her a fair chance? As I recall, you had a similar position about Melissa Mazzeo when she first got elected. And you didn’t even know she was a bigger Jets fan than you.

    • danvalenti
      November 13, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

      MR X
      I agree. I thought Yon was the better choice, but all that was settled by the election. I am looking forward to meeting Councilor-elect Tully and watching her on the job. Every newcomer deserves at least one year, after which point, the open mind gives was to the accumulation of evidence. Considered dispassionately, that provides some rough form of judgment.

    • Dave
      November 14, 2013 at 5:45 am #

      I think Jim was saying Tully was the one step up.

    • Jim Gleason
      November 14, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

      I am in favor of Lisa Tully being elected. If you read the post you will figure that out for yourself. I am NOT in favor of Krolly and Barry Mason being re-elected. Clarification.

  6. MF
    November 13, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

    “We’re the same sad story, thats a fact”

    One Step Up / Bruce Springsteen

  7. Jonathan Melle
    November 13, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

    Pittsfield politics is all about the Good Old Boy network, which does not like Dan Bianchi as Mayor. I believe that Bianchi inherited all of Pittsfield’s problems from the Doyle debacle and Ruberto regime. Bianchi’s vision for Pittsfield politics is a bit lofty, while his fiscal policies are hurting the local economy in Pittsfield. He is not that different from the Good Old Boys like Jimmy Ruberto and Gerry Doyle, unfortunately for Pittsfield.