PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, JAN. 14, 2014) — Well, what do you know, folks? Pummelin’ Pam Malumphy, loser of her last five attempts to win election for public office (city council, mayor, state rep, first assistant associate deputy dog catcher), simply refuses to go away. Like old gum forever cemented on the bottom of a high school desk or squishy doggie-do you step in with your new sneakers, she just won’t go away. We admire such persistence and hold it as an honorable character trait.

Not long ago, THE PLANET brought you the exclusive on Pummelin’s role in trying to arm-twist Donna Todd Rivers into challenging the at-large balloting in the most recent city election. Rivers refused. That doesn’t mean, however, that Malumphy has stopped trying to stick her nose into We The People‘s business. Of course, as a citizen, she has every right to do that, and we not only encourage but support the individual’s actions in participatory democracy. No citizen, however, has the unfettered right to attempt to browbeat and bully behind the scenes or use her “insider” position to push an agenda. Is that what Pam’s doing? Only her hairdresser knows for sure.

When we reviewed the names put forward to serve on the Ordinance Review Commission, whose job it will be to reconcile city laws with the new municipal charter, we saw one “Franz Forster.” Immediately, Franz not being a common name in this part of Scandinavia, we thought of the only Franz we had heard of short of “Saturday Night Live” and some piano player named Liszt. That would be Pummelin’ Pam’s live-in … live-in what? Pick one: (   ) Lover    (   ) Soul Mate    (   ) Significant Other         (   ) Insignificant Other      (   ) Partner      (   ) House Mate        (   ) Husband       (   ) Other. In these days of alternative “lifestyles,” one is pressed to find the term that will (a) satisfy everyone and (b) get as close to the truth as possible.

Pam is Berkshire regional director for the state Office of Business Development, and she’s as effective in her job as was Matt Kerwood, one of the previous holders of this make-work plum. Pummelin’ is a Democrat. Kufflinks is a Republican. The title of regional rep comes as a reward to party loyalists who might otherwise trouble finding work, especially in the Dreaded Private Sector. Take Malumphy — please. Her previous employment includes stints at three non-profits, including the Berkshire Creative Economy Council, whatever that is. The chief duties of the OBD’s local rep include fetching the governor’s coffee when he visits the Berkshires, counting the pubic hairs of the Bionic Woman (also known as paper clips), and saying “yes” whenever the state party bosses sniffle. The job has as much to do with “Business Development” as moth balls do to garden hoses.

As for Forster, he, too, is a player, having served on public numerous boards, committees, commissions, and clubs.  Here’s a bio from cyberspace ( that dates itself with the mayoral reference: “First licensed in Massachusetts in 1990, Franz went on to open FJ Forster Real Estate located in Pittsfield. He obtained his BA from Rutgers University and his Juris Doctorate from Western New England College School of Law. Born in Bern Switzerland, Franz came to the US as a child and currently resides in Pittsfield with his two children and his partner, and current mayoral candidate, Pam Malumphy.”

From 1980 to 1990, Forster was director of something called the “Consumer Protection Office.” We don’t know where, what consumers, or how much protection.

These credentials would seemingly make him a defendable candidate for the rules review body, but one has to question if there will be a Dragon Lady or a Lady McBeth behind the scenes. William Shakespeare did not return THE PLANET’s request for comment. As of press time, we hadn’t learned if our Right Honorable Good Friends approved Franz. THE PLANET will take a wild guess that they did in a tally of 7-4 or better.



Last week, we posited “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” as the theme song for this term’s new city government. The Taconic High School choir had rehearsed and planned to sing this song of friendship and support until the mayor’s wife got involved and decided “nope.”

Little did we know how suitable the song would end up being for a certain blowhard governor not all that far south of us. You’ve heard the one about the guy who sold the George Washington Bridge? Chris Christie is the guy who closed the GWB.

New Jersey Gov. Christie denied knowing anything about the plans launched by his chief of staff and her underlings to shut down two of the three lanes leading out of Ft. Lee in an act of political revenge. Christie, touted as the leading candidate for the GOP in the presidential race in 2016, has portrayed himself as a bridge-builder (pun intended), a man who could “reach across the aisle” and bring Dems and Repubs together. As such, he heavily courted all the Democrats he could find to endorse his candidacy. So much for that strategy.

In not endorsing Christie, the mayor of Ft. Lee, a Democrat, brought havoc upon his city. Christie’s staff hatched a plot to shut down bridge traffic. The ensuing traffic jams were of biblical proportions. They began on the first day of school in September, lasted days, and caused untold damage in lost hours on the job, late appointments, hinderance of safety vehicles, and many other annoyances too numerous to mention. One woman, who went into cardiac arrest, died before public safety officers could negotiate traffic and get to her.

Christie says he knew nothing about this. You mean to say his chief of staff, the person with the most important job in the state after the governor and the one responsible to managing policy governing 65,000 state employees, could hide from her boss something as serious as an order to shut down a key piece of infrastructure connecting to the nation’s largest city? What does this say about the governor’s ability to choose responsible staffers? What does it say about the Christie’s management style? After that, he thinks he can be trusted to become The President? The alternative, of course, is that Christie is lying, and that he knew all about this, which is just as bad.

In an embarrassing, two-hour, self-sanctifying press conference, Christie referred to himself as the victim. More than 1,000 times, he uttered the words “I, me, mine” and variants. Once again, this self-inflated fathead made it all about him, not about the many people who were not only inconvenienced but also betrayed.

People like Christie are why folks are right to never trust a politician.


“Life has an object [that] transcends man’s comprehension, and the service of this inaccessible aim is man’s destiny.” Leo Tolstoy, “The Meaning of Life,” (1902).






  1. joetaxpayer
    January 15, 2014 at 9:32 am #

    Funny how the Bridge Story is bigger than Benghazi. They are all liars and cheats. Just going to vote for the one that is the more honorable dirt bag.

    • scott
      January 15, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

      Oh keep encouraging third party candidates with our votes.

      • levitan
        January 21, 2014 at 4:18 am #

        Word, Scott. Voting for the less dirty just encourages them to run.

  2. Mike Ward
    January 15, 2014 at 10:09 am #

    Franz was a valued member of my ward 4 “email cabinet” — those constituents who actually read my weekly emails and took the time to weigh in on issues with helpful information or a counterpoint to my position. I highly recommend him for this committee assignment.

    • danvalenti
      January 15, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

      Thanks for your input.

  3. scott
    January 15, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    It was subtle but I sensed in your coverage hidden deep between the lines that you may have a small bit of animosity for “pummelin’ Pam” or maybe its just me.

    • danvalenti
      January 15, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

      Thank you for the comment. No animosity. I love her as a person. When she becomes involved in public life, that has no bearing. There is no animosity on my part in either of the two spheres. That holds true with Pam and anyone else in the public eye.

  4. Nota
    January 15, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

    I would like to see Matt Kerwood on the board, he is a hard worker and has served before on many of the thankless task, boards.

    • danvalenti
      January 15, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

      Thank you. When Matt was council VP, his knowledge of form and procedure helped the prez and the council.

  5. Joe Blow
    January 15, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

    Is Matthew Kerwood a resident of Pittsfield or Richmond?

  6. Nota
    January 15, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

    Pittsfield, for sure.

  7. #nomorebianchi
    January 15, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

    Maybe councilor Mazzeo had sonething to do with pams partner getting on the board. Could be a reward for their loyalty to Missing mayor bianchi

    • danvalenti
      January 15, 2014 at 7:53 pm #

      “Driving Miss Daisy” was a hit. Do you think the same could be said for “Missing Mayor Bianchi”?

  8. Sillence Dogood
    January 15, 2014 at 7:46 pm #

    I find it hard to believe that Gov. Chris Christie knew nothing about his staff’s plotting a massive traffic jam on the ramp to the George Washington Bridge for political retribution.

    On the other hand, I also find it hard to believe that Obama didn’t know his own IRS was auditing his political enemies.

    And I find it hard to believe that Obama didn’t know you wouldn’t be able to keep your doctor under Obamacare.

    • joetaxpayer
      January 16, 2014 at 6:24 am #

      Find it hard to believe Hillary and Obama knew nothing about Benghazi. Just goes to show you both parties like to use the Schultz defense ” I know nothingggg! I see nothinggg!).

    • Jim Gleason
      January 16, 2014 at 8:23 am #

      I can keep all my doctors, your insurance must suck.

      • Sonny
        January 16, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

        Wouldn’t brag to much about that Jimbo! There are a lot of people working now who work much harder than you ever did and they are LOSING their doctors. Show some respect for the taxpayers who fund your diability insurance. Your day will come. You’ll fit right in at the park on North+Columbus if your not already there.

  9. Jonathan Melle
    January 15, 2014 at 7:49 pm #

    I think Dan Valenti has a thing for Pam Malumphy. At least Pam is not a Good Old Boy in Pittsfield politics. She even stood up to Jimmy Ruberto more than a few times. Pam Malumphy for Mayor of Pittsfield in 2015.

    • Foxy Lady
      January 15, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

      I disagree. Dan has a thing for truth, and isn’t afraid to tell it. SNL reference too funny! Hanz and Franz.

    • joetaxpayer
      January 16, 2014 at 6:19 am #

      Thank god you can’t vote in Pittsfield, Jonathan.

    • Thomas More
      January 16, 2014 at 6:51 am #

      It sounds more like an obsession. Unrequited love? Who knows? The name calling, the references to her running for office, the attacks on her boyfriend and anyone else she may associate with. She’s certainly no threat in Pittsfield politics so what’s the Planet’s point. He once quoted a former professor at ‘Cuse who taught, ‘when they resort to name calling, you’ve won the battle.’ If you read the first paragraph how can you take second paragraph seriously. Obsessions are very time consuming and one would think one would spend his or her time on things that matter.

      • danvalenti
        January 16, 2014 at 8:41 am #

        The point? It’s a great illustration of “It’s not WHAT you know but WHO you know.” Cheer up: Your obsession with THE PLANET, to which you refer, will someday pass!

  10. Jonathan Melle
    January 15, 2014 at 9:34 pm #

    The one question any community should ask:
    Will a middle class family move here?
    If yes, there is good public schools, there are safe streets, there are economic opportunities.
    Pittsfield politics should attract middle class families with good public schools, safe streets, and economic opportunities.

  11. Mad Trapper
    January 15, 2014 at 9:54 pm #

    Why beat on fat man Christie ,when Sotero is the biggest liar cheat fraud, and threat we have to our liberty?

  12. Mad Trapper
    January 15, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

    Fast and Furious, Bengazhi, Black Panthers at polling places with baseball bats, NSA, TSA, Drones at Home, Racist AG Holder, transparency, “will you fire on American citizens”, Homeland “security”, FEMA, …….

    How about Barry?

    • Olga P
      January 16, 2014 at 5:21 am #

      Sounds like a new verse for Billiy Joel”s “We didn’t start the fire”

      • danvalenti
        January 16, 2014 at 8:39 am #

        Good one, OLGA. “He didn’t start the fire …” Well, he probably did!

  13. Bill Sturgeon
    January 16, 2014 at 8:04 am #

    Dan: Nice job last night on “Consider This”! If some people missed the showing it will be replayed throughout the month.

    • danvalenti
      January 16, 2014 at 8:38 am #

      Many thanks, my good friend.

  14. Jim Gleason
    January 16, 2014 at 8:30 am #

    Dan, you went on that joke of a show on pctv with Markham and Lowthrop? WHY? You give credibility to those two buffoons they don’t deserve.

    • danvalenti
      January 16, 2014 at 8:38 am #

      I went on because I was invited. I sat in with J-LO and Peter Marchetti and had a lot of fun.

  15. MrG1188
    January 17, 2014 at 6:09 am #

    Is the Ordinance review Commission appointment paid?

    • Tom Sakshaug
      January 17, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

      Like all Commissions, this is not a paid position. I serve with Franz Forster (not Forester, though I’m sure it means the same thing) on the Conservation Commission. I think he would be a fine addition to this review commission.

      • levitan
        January 20, 2014 at 7:08 pm #

        Oh, but the honor, Tom! Pittsfield commissions are the gateway to executive positions, don’t you know?

  16. levitan
    January 18, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    From 1980 to 1990, Forster was director of something called the “Consumer Protection Office.” We don’t know where, what consumers, or how much protection

    Dan, that would be in the same building you once rented space in. The Mory building, known to have wrecked many a marraige and having inspired the movie, “Being John Malkovich.”

    I had a complaint about a toaster I had purchased in ’86 that insisted on only giving me charcoal. The office helped me greatly in pursuing my interest until they saw the device. Yes, I feel some remorse for the loss of their time involving calls to the AG and numerous forms, only to be disposed of.