PLANET EXCLUSIVE: WE PRESENT THE POST-ELECTION ANALYSIS ‘THE BORING BROADSHEET’ WAS TOO AFRAID TO PRINT
By DAN VALENTI
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.
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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!
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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.
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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)
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.