BIANCHI USES CITY WEBSITE TO POLITICIZE THE CORNER OFFICE … POLITICAL AGENDA THINLY DISGUISING AS “CITY GOALS”
By DAN VALENTI
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”:
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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. “
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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.
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.
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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).
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.