PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, NOV. 19, 2013) — When the Boring Broadsheet covered the recent municipal election, it did so with a display of obviousness that well positioned the newspaper’s flair for the mediocre, the incomplete, and the insipid. The BB gave numbers without telling the story of what they meant. Worse than that, a day later the paper then published a editorial disguised as “analysis” on page one of the news hole. THE PLANET uses “disguises” in the same sense that a man wearing a cheap toupee or a bad “perry comb-over” thinks he’s hiding his baldness. In the land of the bald, not even the man who wears a cheap rug can be king.

The big story, on which the BB whiffed, is the “failure” represented by the 2013 municipal election. What failed? Democracy failed.

In a stricter sense, democracy didn’t fail so much as remain a worm-owned corpse. What failed is the miracle of a resurrection. The body politic did not miraculously rise from the tomb, not on the third day or any other before or after.  The pennies remained over the shut eyes. Prior to the election, THE PLANET as well as city clerk Linda Tyer predicted this missing miracle. We refer, of course, to the paltry turnout of under 25% — 24.5%, to be exact. Democratic participation suffered a landslide defeat.

The Big Story of such an unaspiring turnout lies in the moral: Elected government has no backing from the general public. We The People have no trust in our representatives

With 75.5% of the total electorate choosing to ignore the election, republicanism is made a farce and democracy a sham. Who will dare claim a “mandate” when more than three of every four voters give the process the bum’s rush? Does Mayor Dan Bianchi honestly belief the nonsense he spewed in post-election ads that claimed some form of ratification of his first two years in office, in which the mayor shot blanks? For his sake, THE PLANET hopes not.

Bianchi, in print and in poison, muttered ridiculous words about “continuing to move the city forward.” What exactly does that mean? There is no meaning in the traditional sense. In the absurd sense, it means the city is stuck with an incapacitated politician who cares not about finding a cure to capacity, let alone working to solve the deeply entrenched fault lines that will one day produce a massive earthquake on the city’s finances. It means the overwhelming majority of the electorate that didn’t for for him are stuck with an unimaginative bureaucrat interested in little else than padding his pension. By “winning” the election, Bianchi will earn 80% of his three highest city salaries. Yes, taxpayers, you will be paying this man about $70,000 a year while he works his other job at Global Energy! That’s what “moving forward means

Can the city charter be considered valid, with just 16% of the electorate approving? Put it this way: 20,448 did not vote for or disapproved the new charter compared to 4,688 who voted “Yes.” How can that be considered valid? The same with every other race, contested and otherwise.

In the 2013 election, no one can claim victory. That’s as big an election story as there is, yet the BB wrote as if it hadn’t a clue.

—– 00 —–

That’s just one story the BB missed. Here’s another: The story of a body politick on its deathbed. In the 2011 municipal election, 12,262 of 29,104 registered voters participated for a 42.13% turnout — still not acceptable but at least approaching democracy’s magic number of 50% +1. The turnout of 2013, therefore, represented a shocking 44% of lost votes. In numbers, that means 5,368 fewer people voted this time around versus two years ago. We can pretend we have a valid government, but we don’t.

A look at the individual races reveals yet another post-election story that escaped the myopia of the BB. For mayor, Bianchi “won” with just 18.3% of the electorate; that is, 82.7% did not want him in office as judged by their actions. Even though he was unopposed on the ballot, Bianchi lost 1,001 votes this time than in 2011, when Peter Marchetti gave him the political scare of his life.

The flat-lined “race” for mayor drew the only write-in votes of the election. There were 177 write-in votes for 3.43 percent of the toal. Marchetti again came in second in the mayor’s race, garnering 76 votes. That beat out THE PLANET’s “favorite son” candidate Dan Valenti, who had 72, an astounding, earth-shaking, apocalyptic 1.35% of every vote cast. As a percentage of the numbers of days in the two years Bianchi will be mayor during his second term (730), Valenti earned 10, or 1.35% of those days. THE PLANET has learned that Valenti will request that his 10 days in office occur when it is time to submit the FY15 city budget. Outgoing at-large councilor Kevin Sherman won 17 votes, and former four-time mayor Jimmy Ruberto pulled in an even dozen. The blanks drew 1,574 for mayor. Thus:

(1) Bianchi “won” with 22,975 NOT voting for him as opposed to 5,143 who did.

(2) The write-ins and blanks totaled 1,751, a remarkable protest against an unopposed, incumbent mayor.

(3) Marchetti is next in succession. If something should prevent Bianchi from taking the oath of office between now and Inauguration Day, Marchetti becomes mayor. If Bianchi and Marchetti were each unable to take the oath, Valenti would be the new mayor. Once Bianchi takes the new oath, next in line would be the new city council president.

(4) Valenti can forever truthfully remind his good friend Jimmy Ruberto that he once gathered more than six times the number of votes in an official municipal election than the popular, four-time-winning ex-mayor … not that Valenti has ever been known to employ The Needle!

—– 00 —–

What happened in the other races?

At-large winner Melissa Mazzeo, identified by the BB with the technically accurate appellation of top individual vote getter in 2013,  lost the greatest number of votes from 2011. Mazzeo lost a fully half of her support, garnering 8,390 in 2011 to 4,208 this year. The other “winning” at-large incumbents saw an erosion of support as well, though not as severe as Mazzeo’s. Churchill Cotton (5,990 in ’11 to 3,916 this year) and Barry Clairmont (5,357 vs. 3,459) each lost 35%. Kathy Amuso, in winning an at-large seat, dropped from 9,239 in 2011 to 5,350, down 58%, but that’s an apples-to-oranges school committee vote vs. the at-large race

In the ward races, Lisa Tully ousted Christine Yon, 565-480 in Ward 1. In Ward 6, John Krol easily handled Joe Nichols, 753-373. Krol lost 40% of his 2011 total. In the unopposed races, all incumbents saw their bases of support eaten away by democracy’s failure to come back from the dead: Kevin Morandi, Ward 2, down 31% from 2011; Chris Connell, Ward 4, -38%; Jonathan Lothrop, -30%; and Tony Simonelli, Ward 7, -49%.

As of press time, THE PLANET didn’t have the 2011 results for the school committee. In 2013, seven candidates vied for six seats, and the support was thinly spread out: Kathy Yon, incumbent, 4,826, or 16.47% of those who voted; Dan Elias, incumbent, 4,653, 15.88%; Tony Riello, newcomer, 4,647, 15.86%; Cynthia Taylor, n, 4,286, 14.63%; Pam Farron, n, 4,104, 14%; and Josh Cutler, n, 3,825, 13.05%. Brittany Douglas, a young woman that THE PLANET’s readers had a chance to meet last week, finished last with 2,964 votes, 10.11%

From these results, it’s not hyperbole to say that while the process was technically valid, both the process and the results will remain fundamentally untrue. No one received a mandate. No one can claim victory. Only one “winner” boasted following the election, and that was the mayor, whose words never sounded more hollow. Unless he changes his ways, those words will be served back to Hizzoner with a salt-and-pepper garnish.

—– 00 —–

Tim Arnold of The Huffington Post wrote an article this summer titled, “Democracy in America is Dead.” Arnold ended the realistically titled piece with this sadly unrealistic statement, one, by the way, is entirely correct:

Lincoln also said this: “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.”

A government by the people. It is clear now that it is we the people who must assume control, who must once and for all have our way with the officials we bless with the position of serving us, but are not yet held accountable for it. “The American people have spoken,” and we demand sensible steps toward a safer place to live and raise our children from you, or we are going to elect people who finally, truly represent us. For the sake of democracy. For the sake of the people who count on you to do everything in your power to provide the rest of us a reasonable chance at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness …

[Our elected representatives] were elected to serve the people.

THE PLANET, too, has often tried such high-sounding words, and it doesn’t work. THE PLANET has since abandoned such calls in favor of a much more pragmatic diagnosis: Democracy is dead. As a consequence, “free” elections have become non-representative, and a republic that is non-representative is a sham. That is the new starting point for any hope of resurrection.

THE PLANET isn’t concerned with America waking up. We’ve got our mind on Pittsfield, Mass.


November sun, a light coat and shivers,

Auric rays and delicate slivers.

Two cats bathe in greenhouse beams.

One man drinks the solar dreams. — Dan Valenti, “November Feline Greenhouse,” (2013)




  1. HB
    November 19, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    planet..any thoughts as to why Donna Todd Rivers didn’t ask for a recount over 6 measely votes?

    • Baby baby
      November 19, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

      It was 16.

    • danvalenti
      November 19, 2013 at 6:04 pm #

      No thoughts, but a speculation: The difference between DTR and “in the money” was 16 votes, not six. Six would have likely triggered a recount, but not 16.

  2. dusty
    November 19, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    Dan, the schools and parenting being what they are in Pittsfield, I would suggest to you that there is a very large segment of the younger generation (18-40) , who are totally unaware of who is running for a given office or that there is even an election going on. I know many just don’t care, but I think a person to person survey would show that a surprisingly large number of these folk are unaware that they even have a city government.

    And i imagine that the GOB would like to keep it that way.

    • danvalenti
      November 19, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

      You imagine correctly, DUSTY. The GOB dynasty depends upon people opting out, and did they ever.

    • Thomas More
      November 20, 2013 at 7:24 am #

      You nailed it dusty, the schools. They’re the reason for obesity in the U.S., why kids don’t know how to cross the street, teen pregnancy and the horrendous drug problem. Now voter turnout. Who would we have to blame for Pittsfield’s woes if the neither schools nor nameless GOBs existed? We would have to remove all of of our mirrors.

      • danvalenti
        November 20, 2013 at 8:35 am #

        Agreed, but also keep in mind that in a republic, the individual has two mirrors. The first casts his or her own reflection. The second is the mirror of representation, which has become a mirage of representation.

      • teecha teecha
        November 20, 2013 at 8:49 am #

        It’s not all the schools fault. I mean, teachers struggle just as much as you with the way kids are these days. It’s no wonder you can find most of us at the BAR on Fridays. Because it’s attrocious as to what we deal with on a daily basis. The problem is the parents. The whole concept of a FAMILY has been lost over time, everyone is ‘entitled’ and has a ‘right’ to things that they don’t deserve so they don’t have to work for it. It trickles down to the kids.

        Also, with the richest people in the world being drop outs and celebrities and athletes, try convincing a kid that a college degree and a $45k a year salary is worth the extra effort

  3. Ron Kitterman
    November 19, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    Great piece Dan, as we saw though in ward 3 this year when one of unbeatables doesn’t run we see a glut of people taking a stab at the vacant seat. Otherwise we will continue to have a government of the GOBS by the GOBS for the GOBS. Would also make a difference to challenge the power structure every preliminary and primary election if nothing else just hear from them and get them to the stage.

  4. Jonathan Melle
    November 19, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

    Good analysis of Pittsfield politics, Dan Valenti. Everyone loses!

  5. Evian
    November 19, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

    Great piece, DV.

  6. chuck garivaltis
    November 19, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

    Benjamin Franklin told us we have a republic if we can keep it. With 75.5% of the electorate not caring about participating in an election does anyone really think we (Pittsfield) are a republic?

    Alex Rodriguez doesn’t care if we have pure democracy or a republic.His god is money. I wish he would take his mega-millions and his whores and get out of baseball. This guy has no class and is no role model to our kids hoping to make it to the major leagues when they grow up.

    • danvalenti
      November 19, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

      Right you are. We do not have a republic in Pittsfield, and A-Rod is slime.

  7. Mark Tully
    November 19, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

    “In the ward races, Linda Tully ousted Christine Yon, 565-480 in Ward 1. ”

    Hey Dan,

    For the 3rd time, her name is not Linda. You might just want to call her Mrs. Tully from now on.

    • danvalenti
      November 19, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

      Mea maxima cupla. Will fix at once.

  8. amandaWell
    November 20, 2013 at 4:35 am #

    How about Councilor Tully!

    • danvalenti
      November 20, 2013 at 8:37 am #

      Yes, that would work, too, but Lisa Tully has been chiseled in PLANET stone, the hardest and most durable there is.

      • MrG1188
        November 20, 2013 at 9:23 am #

        If I get a name wrong the first time we meet, it doesn’t matter how many times I’m corrected…the mistake is then that person’s name…but of course I’m not a journalist!

  9. Dave
    November 20, 2013 at 6:12 am #

    I would bet that all the councillors you mention will attribute their lower vote total to the lack of a mayoral race and not an indictment of their performance. They live in their own little bubble only talking with their own voting blocks to whom they are beholden. Unfortunately these voting blocks that create a force field around the councilor’s ego are the people benefitting from the status quo.

    • danvalenti
      November 20, 2013 at 8:36 am #

      “The force field of ego.” What a turn of phrase!

      • dusty
        November 20, 2013 at 10:33 am #

        Well that might explain the dull glow coming off of Lothrop.

  10. MrG1188
    November 20, 2013 at 6:16 am #

    On the day after the election I asked the Eagle, in the comments section of the election story, for precisely this analysis; a report essentially on the numbers who did NOT show up. Sometimes the editors will reply. In this case they chose not to. I found most interesting the fact that the only replies to my post were from a couple of people who implied that story was unnecessary. My quote then:
    “The answer to why the mayor was Unopposed is as broad and diverse as the answers to why 75% of people did not vote at all. Combine that 75% with the percentage of actual voters who did not vote for the mayor! choosing instead some other option! and I think you have the basis for a serious news story.” No such serious news story ever showed up…until now

    • danvalenti
      November 20, 2013 at 8:36 am #

      Thanks for sharing this. It bears out what we said in the story: The BB knew about this but was afraid to touch it.