PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, JAN. 8, 2014) — THE PLANET has an explanation for the confusion at the end of Monday’s “churchy” Inauguration Day activities. New council president Melissa Mazzeo seemed baffled when it came time to make a motion to adjourn the meeting. It appeared as if Jonathan Lothrop, Mazzeo’s newly minted vanquished, came to the rescue by providing counsel for implementing Agenda Item 15.

In itself, the incident amounts to a hill of squat, but as an indicator of Mazzeo’s ability to serve as council president, it has value. Her supporters and her critics strongly disagree on the councilwoman’s fitness to gavel in and gavel out the meetings.

Mazzeo later gave us her perspective “to clarify the ending of the meeting yesterday.”

She said she “had the agenda in front of me as well as the program. The program had the Taconic [High School] Chorus coming back in to sing a song before we adjourned,  so I was waiting to see them come through the door. No one informed me that that part of the program was scratched. When I realized they were not coming back in to sing, I asked for a motion to adjourn.

“If you remember at the last Inauguration ceremony,” Mazzeo continued, “President [Kevin] Sherman adjourned the meeting only to have a group of Boy Scouts come in the door and sing a number of songs. I was just trying to follow the program. I do know how to end a meeting; that is Demeter’s 101. If I didn’t know how to end a meeting, I definitely wouldn’t be sitting up there. It would have been helpful for someone to tell me that the chorus wasn’t singing, since some people where aware.”

We thank our Right Honorable Good Friend the councilwoman for this explanation while wondering who failed to inform her of the change and why? Was it to set her up? Was it a simple misunderstanding.

Ever ready with spade and shovel to dig, THE PLANET unearthed this little tidbit regarding the THS choir’s cancelation at the encore. A well-placed source source says it was Mayor Dan Bianchi‘s wife, Theresa, who engineered the blackout. The Taconic choir initially rehearsed a patriotic number and the Simon and Garfunkel song, “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” They were to sing the first to open the meeting and the second to close it. They sang the first. They got the hook on the second.

The group had rehearsed both songs were set, until, according to our source, the choir received late notice from the mayor’s office that it would not be allowed to sing “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” It seems that the mayor’s wife thought the song was a swipe at the mayor’s performance in office! That would seem to explain the confusion at the end of the meeting. The agenda did list a closing song by the THS singers. The program did, according to Mazzeo.

THE PLANET understands how petty politics can be, especially in Podunk, but interpreting “Bridge Over Troubled Water” as a political swipe? One would need an electron microscope to get down to that Nixonian, sub-quarkian level.

Here are the lyrics of this tune:

“Bridge Over Troubled Water”

When you’re weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all;
I’m on your side. When times get rough
And friends just can’t be found,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.When you’re down and out,
When you’re on the street,
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you.
I’ll take your part.
When darkness comes
And pain is all around,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.Sail on silvergirl,
Sail on by.
Your time has come to shine.
All your dreams are on their way.
See how they shine.
If you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.

This is by no means great poetry, but as a pop song, not bad. We see in the song an uplifting expression of friendship and unconditional support. Paul Simon said of writing the song, “I have no idea where it came from. It came all of a sudden. It as one of the most shocking moments of my songwriting career. This is considerably better than I usually write.”

Simon wrote the tune in 1969 on a summer cottage he rented with Art Garfunkel on Blue Jay Way in Los Angeles. For trivia buffs, The Beatles’ George Harrison wrote “Blue Jay Way” from the “Magical Mystery Tour” album in the same cottage. In discussing “Bridge,” Simon made no mention of Dan Bianchi, who at the time was in the same class at Pittsfield High School as the redoubtable Dan Valenti, or of future Pittsfield politics.



THE PLANET heard from another of our colleagues from deep inside the newsroom at The Boring Broadsheet regarding the death of The North Adams Transcript and The Advocate.

We asked our source, The Insider, if management had said anything to the staff regarding the dramatic changes: “They told us nothing. We read it when it was posted online, just like everyone else.” Will there be loss of hours or jobs, we asked? The Insider said, “I would imagine the people who worked on The Advocate will suffer, but so far as I know no one else. Of course, as you know, we had an editor leave The Transcript  (Michael Foster), and this position won’t be replaced. This goes along with several other Transcript office positions (one receptionist, an ad seller and maybe others) that I happen to know were also not replaced.”

Does The Insider see the moves as a turn-around of BB‘s continuing decline into financial ill health?

“No, The Insider said. “One only need consider the precipitous decline in salaries and benefits over the past decade and more to gauge [the financial erosion]. I’d be curious to see the figures of how much management figures to save by ceasing ‘Script production. I’d also like to know whether the ‘Script reporters can expect to see a modest increase in pay, now that they are Eagle reporters. Otherwise, the paper will have this curious “North County reporters make roughly $3 less per hour” policy.

As for newsroom morale, The Insider described it as “perennially low. When people feel they are underpaid, their work under-appreciated, their responsibilities seemingly on a constant rise without a corresponding increase in pay (no raise has been given since 2008, company-wide — despite ample increases in responsibility for absolutely everyone), positivity is hard to come by. I can say that most people love the work of journalism — the varied day-to-day, the meeting people, the learning about new subjects — but they also, for the most part, hate the company. The reasons for this are too many to list.”

There you have it: “[T]hey also, for the most part, hate the company.” The BB staffers join about 99% of the rest of Berkshire County in this pastime.


I am just a poor boy though my story’s seldom told. I have squandered my resistance for a pocketful of mumbles, such are promises. All lies and jest, still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the restSimon and Garfunkel, “The Boxer,” 1968.






  1. Ron Kitterman
    January 8, 2014 at 3:56 am #

    Well, the good news for the Mayor and Melissa is no one knows about it ( The Bridge Over Troubled Water ) . No one knows about it because even with dozens of unemployed journalists from North Adams moving in to the city , no one is covering politics in Pittsfield. The bad news for we the people is no one knows about it ( The Bridge Over Troubled Water ) , save the Planet and Pittsfield Gazette . So the administration is going to continue to govern with the consent of the few for the next couple of years. Building a new high school, police station and moving forward with lofty goals.

  2. Billy
    January 8, 2014 at 6:01 am #

    We are going to start leasing buses .and I believe we still owe on the old ones? I believe their still around 5 years old..I applaud Great Barrington for turning down the school rehab at a cost of some 50 million even with half the tab being picked up by the state they new it was a fiscal burden to their town and voted on common sense and fiscal responsibility over voodoo budgets .They realize if you give the lions hare of revenue to one department. That all other departments ability to maintain Infrustructure will be sacrificed as a result. What make s you think if we build it that it won’t fall into disrepair? Ron Pittsfield has no money. Lenox, Sheffield and it’s surrounding towns and now. Great Barrington. Live in the new fiscal reality of living “within your means”. We cannot afford a new police station or a high school .The city let the McKay Street garage fall into disrepair till millions had to be spent .The dynamic dou as the BB editorial put it Lol. better shake the pixie dust and their over sized egos and come back down to earth where the rest of us live before “The Children ” end up moving out of town due to no real jobs and a endless tax increase. The bridge over troubled waters speaks volumes about the group .The mayor spoke volumes of what he’s done but I guess his onion skin ego would get hurt by a group of high school kids sing a 1960 tune for the occasion. I recast my case.he probably going to unfunded their school fiend trip for trying such a stunt. Lol. The last one out of Pittsfield.”Shut the lights out“. “Big Ego” Small deeds.The actions speak louder than the empty words

  3. Ed McClelland
    January 8, 2014 at 6:47 am #

    What is “Pittsfield’s First Lady’s” actual role in her husband’s decisions ? Is Theresa Bianchi a more domineering and stronger personality than Dan’s ? Does his Honor jump through hoops ?
    Bridge Over Troubled Waters” was written by Paul Simon with the intent of becoming a gospel hymn about providing comfort to a person in need. Perhaps the City doesn’t require Divine intervention in addressing its needs.
    Btw, Why hasn’t the issue of the mayor working two full time jobs become more of a public issue than it has ? Is it rumor, fact, or another forgotten matter, strategically swept under the lumpy carpet ?

    • Thomas More
      January 8, 2014 at 8:07 am #

      I read this blog for amusement and today you delivered big time. The kids were back fresh from a two week hiatus and they’re pulled from class to sing to the mayor and ” the mayor’s wife thought the song was a swipe at the mayor’s performance in office!” The mayor is after all Italian. What ever happened to the old days? Wife’s job is to take care of the kids, keep the house clean and have supper on the table at 5:00 P.M., not 5:05. Maybe she should be running the show.

    • Teecha teecha
      January 8, 2014 at 8:56 am #

      It’s sad, the lyrics clearly show an aura of support and cohesiveness. Something the city needs big time while everything is divided. Theresa Simone of those typical morons who judges. Book by its cover (or title) probably hasn’t been heard the actual song before. Back to the kitchen, wench! **not to mention she clearly agrees there was something lacking in the first term if a peaceful song like that can be an attack anthem.

      • Teecha teecha
        January 8, 2014 at 8:57 am #

        iPad autocorrects are devil. My apologies. No wonder kids type in w00tspeak

  4. mike r
    January 8, 2014 at 7:57 am #

    Pay attention to committee assignments. Does the intellectual, wonky, independent voices like Clairmont and Caccamo be punished for not voting for Mazzeo and does the duds such as Tully, Morandi or Connell get some of the stronger Committees due to their loyalty.

    When it comes down to brass tacks and regardless of where we find ourselves in the Pittsfield political spectrum we need the most qualified people contributing good and effective ideas in the best interest of the city.

    That being said we have to hope for Clairmont, Caccamo, and Lothrop some of if not the most the intellectually strongest members (also seen as Bianchi dissenters) have a presence on these committees so that they may have the ability to contribute on a high level on some of these very important issues.

    The biggest variable in the next few years will be how professional will Bianchi and Mazzeo conduct themselves and will they leave there petty politics behind for the best interest of the city.

    • B
      January 8, 2014 at 8:45 am #

      Mike I couldn’t have said it better myself I agree with everything that you said. Only time will tell.

    • B. Clairmont
      January 8, 2014 at 9:39 am #

      I was assigned to Finance and to Buildings and Maintenance. I don’t know any other assignments. I asked President Mazzeo to be chair of Finance. I don’t know whether I’m chair or just a member of Finance.

      My request was to keep my assignment on Ordinance and Rules.


      • Billy
        January 8, 2014 at 11:14 am #

        Buildings and maintenance???? They haven’t met in the last two years! That’s one way to shut up an intelligent voice.

        • Tony
          January 8, 2014 at 11:20 am #

          Sounds like Clairmont has been sent to Siberia. There was no way around giving him finance, however if there was, he’ probably be on Public Health and Safety also.

        • B
          January 8, 2014 at 8:26 pm #

          That is why are buildings are falling apart, there is no watch dog over looking things.

    • Tony
      January 8, 2014 at 11:24 am #

      Bianchi and Mazzeo already showed their lack of professionalism when they backed Tully over Yon. Let’s see what the future brings.

    • Thomas More
      January 8, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

      All politics is loyalty.

  5. Bill Sturgeon
    January 8, 2014 at 8:28 am #

    Once again – I am asking that we all give these people a chance. Name call and labeling is unfair, at this point. If the story about the THS Choir is correct that is very disturbing. School children should not be pawns in City politics, in my opinion.
    I agree committee assignments will illustrate a great deal.

    • B. Clairmont
      January 8, 2014 at 9:34 am #

      The Choir story is accurate, as I understand it.

      There was a different song listed on the “program” as produced by the Bianchi’s. The official agenda did not list the second song.

      When I inquired why the difference (before the meeting), I learned what happened.


    • Thomas More
      January 8, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

      Bill, I’ll explain my ‘no chance’ comment of last week. If you go back to the November election the Planet condemned the new school committee before it was even elected except for Josh Cutler. Josh in the Planet’s mind is the next Terry Kinnas. All I know about Josh is that he is a young man with his eye on a political future. He’s starting on the bottom and if he emulates Terry he will stay there.
      Before that there was the new superintendent, Jake McCandless or Jake IV, pronounced Jive (lol). A slap at him for no reason. Planet claimed him a $30,000 raise which wasn’t true. He was being paid at the advertised offer. He was leaving a system with 1000 students to a city system with 6000 students. The Planet knew this but left out why he was being paid more than he was in Lee. Just another way of casting a jaded light on him for whatever reason.

      • scott
        January 9, 2014 at 4:51 am #

        My son goes to school in Lee when we first went out there Jake came right up and welcomed us. I’ll tell you Lee schools are excellent. Its a shame we got that dinosaur scrocki.

  6. Dave
    January 8, 2014 at 8:46 am #

    Ad in the BB soon. “Wanted- Choir Director for local high school” LOL

    • billy
      January 8, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

      Dave don’t rule it he and his trained seals are capable of anything.

  7. MrG1188
    January 8, 2014 at 9:34 am #

    OK…I’m going back a loooong time now, really taxing my memory capacity, back to Sr. Anne Peter in 5th grade at Sacred Heart School in Troy. She was a Kennedy FANATIC who drilled into us, among other things, the fact that the lyric was “Sail on Silverbird, Sail on by…” And that SilverBird was the name of the train that bore Robert (I think Robert, but it could’ve been JFK) to his final resting place. I can find no reference to that anywhere, so it may be apocryphal, but that is what I always believed. Now if Mrs. Bianchi had been privy to that information as well, perhaps she views the song as more of a funeral dirge inappropriate for such an event.

    Re: the Eagle & Transcript, it said they let go an ad sales rep as well. No doubt they are going to ask the already spread-too-thin Eagle reps to take up the slack & cover more geographical area, without further remuneration of course! Not cool gang, and not great for morale either. However, just not having to print the other paper every day will realize substantial savings. Properly managed and sold, the Advocate could’ve been a money maker. They really screwed that up.

  8. Bill Sturgeon
    January 8, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    Thanks for the update. As you know, I am trying to have everyone give the new Council and Mayor Dan a chance, but as these types of things come out it is becoming difficult.
    I read the Barrett story and found that disappointing, that it the way it was handled. I have had to let people go and I told them face-to-face, that is what I believe a leader should do – show respect for the person.
    I wonder if the Mayor Dan will not re-appoint anyone else????

    • MrG1188
      January 8, 2014 at 11:20 am #

      Hey Bill…what is the “Barrett Story?” Can you give me a link to that? Are you referring to the former mayor of North Adams there?

  9. joetaxpayer
    January 8, 2014 at 10:48 am #

    Got to hear the THS Chorus sing on Good Morning Pittsfield show a few weeks ago. They were very impressive, thought I was listening to a recording.Maybe the Mayor’s wife is still pissed that Simon and Garfunkel cancelled there Tanglewood concert a few years ago. The Mayor could be mad that he didn’t get to cut the ribbon at the Bridge opening.

  10. Jonathan Melle
    January 8, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    Pittsfield politics will continue under that watchful eyes of Dan Valenti. There are death, taxes, and Pittsfield politics.

  11. Bill Sturgeon
    January 8, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    I saw the Barrett story on FB. I also saw the THS Choir on PCTV and they were wonderful. It’s ashame they were not given an opportuinty to demonstrate their talents.
    Maybe the “New” City Council will have them sing at one of their meeting’s.

    I have believed in supporting what the good kids are doing.

    • dusty
      January 8, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

      It was long past time for Barrett to go. This govt nepotismal welfare sucks. Why can’t has been politicians just fade away instead of being propped up and spoon fed by the taxpayers. While I am sure his mentors will find him another public teat to suck on it was nice to see Bianchi dump his ass.

      Does Bianchi have testicles, however small, after all?

  12. Silence Dogood
    January 8, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

    an Eagles song would have worked for the Mayor “Lyin’ Eyes”

    • scott
      January 8, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

      Or we’re not gonna take it! (Anymore!)

    • Mad Trapper
      January 8, 2014 at 8:42 pm #

      Spoof on Zeps Dazed and Confused would be appropriate:

      Been dazed and confused for so long it’s not true,
      wanted a Mayor, never bargained for You. Lots of people talkin, few of them know , Mayor Bianchi was created BELOOOWWW…..

      He hurts and abuse, tellin’ all of his lies.
      Runs around with crooks, Lord how they hypnotize.
      Hey there Bianchi, I know where you’ve been.
      Moonlighting your old job, there you go again.

      Every day I work so hard, bringing home my had earned pay, Mayor Bianchi just takes it away. Don’t know where my moneys goin’, only know just where you’ve been,
      Mayor Bianchi, wants MORE again!

      Been dazed and confused for so long, it’s not true.
      Wanted a Mayor, never bargained for you.
      Take it easy Mayor, let them say what they will.
      Your tongue will wag much more when you send then new bills!

      • scott
        January 9, 2014 at 4:45 am #

        Good one Mad. How about someone write a letter to the editor about Bianchi’s campaign promise of transparency lowering tax and being a full time mayor? The eagle has to print it right?

  13. eddiep
    January 8, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

    Let’s not forget that the “Eagle” is an endangered species.

  14. Foxy Lady
    January 8, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

    I see where Councilor Clairmont has confirmed the story of the “Bridge” song. Well I knew it was true because I have a niece who is a member of the choir!! How dare the mayor’s wife make the children victims if cheap politics?

  15. Nota
    January 8, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    Thank God for Barry Clairmont!