PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, MARCH 19, 2014) — Saint Patty gets all the ink, but St. Joe did all the heavy lifting for being a father to Jesus, and with that, we wish you all a pleasant St. Joseph’s feast day. Incidentally, St. Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland, from whence they landed in political offices across the globe, including in many public offices in the city of Pittsfield.

It’s also a day before the Madness begins, especially for our beloved Orangemen, and a day after one of the most excitable stories we’ve ever posted on THE PLANET.

We refer, of course, to the testimony of Ward 6 councilor John Krol.

Krol says that after the Feb. 25 city council meeting, council president Melissa Mazzeo‘s husband got in his (Krol’s) face. He says Tony Mazzeo issued a menacing verbal threat punctuated with threatening gestures for what Mazzeo saw as Krol’s “disrespecting” his wife, the council president. THE PLANET initially heard the story from councilor-at-large Barry Clairmont. Ward 5 councilor Jonathan Lothrop backed Clairmont’s story. More importantly, Krol also confirmed it with THE PLANET. After multiple requests and invitations for comment, Melissa Mazzeo issued a one-sentence comment, saying she found the discussion of the incident “disturbing.” Tony Mazzeo did not return our requests for comment.

Clairmont Follows Up with A Couple of Questions

In response to Mazzeo’s comment, which in full read: “That we have had to have the conversation at all is disturbing,” Clairmont had this follow-up: “I’ve been thinking about Melissa’s comment.  Does she find that these incidents were brought to light disturbing?  Or does she find her husband threating city councilors disturbing?”

Good questions and one that we would not, because we could not, answer. Only our Right Honorable Good Friend the council president can answer her colleague’s questions. THE PLANET can and will dare speak, though, for every citizen interested in good government in saying that if the incident did occur as reported, we would expect — we would demand — that see such tactics to end immediately. Bullies, though they exist, make poor overseers of honest and good public discussion, debate, and discourse. As for public apologies, as some have called for, that is entirely up to the individuals involved. Perhaps a better apology, if one is in order, would be made privately, out of the spotlight.

THE PLANET also received a clarification from Clairmont regarding his account yesterday of the first incident he discussed, a previous alleged bullying attempt by Tony Mazzeo that occurred after Dan Bianchi won the corner office for the first time, one that Clairmont says was witnessed by both Bianchi and Sheriff Tom Bowler among others. Clairmont writes:

“I just exchanged texts with Kevin Sherman.  He told me that his conversation with Tony was cordial (he was not read the riot act).  From what multiple people have relayed to him, Kevin says that Tony’s issue with him was over his choice of VP.  He asked that I correct the record with you.”

In the interest of accuracy, we have added this amendment to yesterday’s post. We thank Sherman and Clairmont in bringing this to our attention.

THE PLANET doesn’t know if this matter of alleged bullying is a two-and-done, and we can only speculate how this will spill over not just into the next council meeting (March 25) but also in the remainder of the term to come. This isn’t the first time that Pittsfield city government has been torn in two. Factions and factionalism have, to one extent of another, have long been part of the game in Podunk. However, it must also be said that THE PLANET haven’t seen it this bad, this out in the open, or this disruptive in some time if at all. Of more immediate concern is how this affair may poison the atmosphere just as the corner office and council begin work on the most important issue of the year, which is the FY15 budget.

Touching the Third Rail of Gender and Politics

Now that we’ve approached the related topic of gender and politics, readers have noticed that of the three women on the city council thus far in this term, two have had “their men” come to their defense against what the husbands have loosely or tightly characterized as “picking on the fairer sex.” We speak of Ward 1 councilor Lisa Tully and Melissa Mazzeo, each — with all good intentions, we’re reasonably sure — of whom have been positioned as “damsels in distress” in need of rescue by big, strong men. The third woman is councilor-at-large Kathy Amuso. Two out of three would lead baseball in batting average, but as an average for women in politics, it’s appalling.

THE PLANET fails to see how such chivalric behavior, which may have been comfy at home in the days of King Arthur, bolsters the case — in the 21st century — for the proposition accepted as true by many if not most that women are the equals of men in the rough-and-tumble game of politics. Moreover, it has raised once again such dusty questions as: Do women have enough confidence in themselves to be in politics? Can they deal with difficult policy issues on the basis of reason and logic and not on emotions? Are they too “sensitive” to the invariable heat and criticism that comes your way the moment one wins office and takes the oath? Do they need men to protect their fragile, dainty characters?

You may say it’s ridiculous to even raise these questions and we would agree, yet when a husband has to “protect” his political wife — when a “big strong man” has to do the heavy lifting for the fragile, weak woman — it brings these old questions back again. It’s an insult to women, men, and everyone interested in good government.

The last we looked, running for office was a voluntary proposition. Office seekers were not conscripted. We therefore must assume that office holders are there because that’s what they wanted for themselves, as a free choice. It boils down to Harry Truman‘s famous comment about la cocina: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.


“On a day like today, we laughed the time away writing love letters in the sand.”Pat Boone, “Love Letters in the Sand,” 1958.










  1. dusty
    March 19, 2014 at 12:28 am #

    I think it is time to move on. Hopefully all these councilors will take out their frustrations on the budget by chopping it down 20 million dollars.

    • Carolyn Barry
      March 19, 2014 at 7:15 am #

      I agree Dusty.

      • B
        March 19, 2014 at 10:59 am #

        I also agree with Dusty that makes it three for three.

  2. Scott
    March 19, 2014 at 4:01 am #

    I think an anonymous poster making a remark on a public forum raising a private security issue is way diff than healthy public criticism of ideals. Unless you’re referring to a different time. Politics gets heated I agree TM should stay out of it and I hope this “bullying” for lack of a better term doesn’t stop our councilors from speaking thier mind and debating when they don’t agree on issues.

    • Shakes His Head
      March 20, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

      maybe we can pay a couple of police officers overtime to safeguard the Clowncil meetings?

  3. Joyce Slater
    March 19, 2014 at 4:52 am #

    Councilors stand for the matter what. Intimidation should be dealt with and not be allowed to continue. MelissaMazzeo needs to address her husband’s inappropriate behavior and end the circus.

    • Carol W
      March 19, 2014 at 6:23 pm #

      Melissa Mazzeo’s husband was not elected to the city council. This matter is none of his business. If Melissa Mazzeo can’t defend herself, perhaps she doesn’t belong on the city council

  4. GeoSims
    March 19, 2014 at 5:15 am #

    An intelligent professional woman doesn’t need anyone to run defense.

  5. Joe Pinhead
    March 19, 2014 at 6:17 am #

    Just wondering with all the turmoil going on at Yahoo has anyone heard if Zach Bogue has been running around making threats or intimidating board members? Interesting that MM heads up Yahoo (Marissa Mayer) What’s scary is if you are to believe the Mayor regarding the rail cars, then we are currently being looked at by 9 companies with some level of interest in setting up shop here and the Council President doesn’t reel in her husband? Think about it for a minute 9 executives come into town to look at property after driving around town to look at properties here is what they conclude from firsthand experience in the past week.
    1. MMA style brawl on Saturday night with court case’s and officiating on Monday
    2. Bill for 15K to cover shocks, struts, control arms and tires on the car from potholes
    3. Banana republic style council meeting with claims that Joey Bag-A-Doughnuts is the Sergeant at arms
    But let a citizen mention something critical of the Administration and your being negative and driving away potential investment. The MMA style brawl cant be blamed wholly on the Mayor but the divisiveness is the symptom of a lack of vision and leadership and that lies with the Mayor and his hand picked Council President.

    Memo to Bar Brawlers lets keep it off the streets bring it into the council chambers and City hall from now on

    Just Sayin

    • Payroll Patriot
      March 19, 2014 at 11:20 am #

      Joe, you left off a few for the executives coming to town-ho, ho.
      1. Where can an executive buy a house in an exclusive
      neighborhood? There are none, thanks to the state
      legislature and past city clowncil votes.
      2. City sends 4 million plus to surrounding communities
      to educate the children.
      3. Barney the purple dinosaur should be the sergeant at arms
      and could live on Stonehenge.
      4. All the Yahoos are here, so how can they be somewhere
      Good job, Joe.

  6. Scott
    March 19, 2014 at 7:49 am #

    Nice JP

  7. joetaxpayer
    March 19, 2014 at 9:27 am #

    Women can be politicians just as bad as men. Look at Congress 98 women helping to drive our once great country down the toilet!

  8. Mike B
    March 19, 2014 at 9:56 am #

    Great that this has been settled, can we get to the real issue of how to keep this city from crumbling?

    I’m talking about graduation rates.
    Qualified workers for well-paying jobs.
    Crime reduction.
    Fiscal management.

    A new business isn’t going to swoop in and save Pittsfield. We have to save ourselves if anyone is going to want to put their business in this city. All that being said, I think a great place to start would be to develop programs that leverage outside help from universities, students, and graduate students and to make some drastic changes to city departments, so that funding can be opened up for newer and more innovative solutions to old problems. Its 2014.

  9. Thomas More
    March 19, 2014 at 10:26 am #

    Sticks & stones etc – Nobody’s going to hit anybody. Mean looks and threatening words work on the middle school playground but for grownups…. Tony’s not stupid. He’s running a million $ plus business and just bought a house. One punch and councilor’s got a black eye and a house on Gravesleigh.
    As for women in politics Pittsfield’s a tough place. Just ask Anne Wojtkowski or Sarah Hathaway.

  10. B
    March 19, 2014 at 11:10 am #

    I would take a black eye if that would get me a house on Gravesleigh Terr. I know how to push people’s buttons that’s all it would take to get a punch in the face. Hey Tony come on, dare ya dare ya!

    • dusty
      March 19, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

      If you get your house do you promise not to sell it to the BFair people?

      No chickens either by the way.

      Or meth clinics

      and don’t go trying to change the name of the street to Martin Luther King Drive

  11. amandaWell
    March 19, 2014 at 11:14 am #

    B.. You would fit right in, run for Council.

  12. amandaWell
    March 19, 2014 at 11:22 am #

    Tony, I would like a punch in the face also.

  13. B
    March 19, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

    Amanda how about if we form a tagteam at the world wide Wrestling of Pittsfield City Hall, one of us can be president and the other one could be vice president. We could trade-off seats every 10 minutes we would look like pop goes the weasel; just like the team that’s already there. Not only that but we can buy two houses right next to each other thanks to Tony baloney and have extra money to boot.

  14. Ron Kitterman
    March 19, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

    Intimidation-gate? Talk about the wussification of Politics. I remember the late Paul Dowd going up the stairs of WBRK picking Dan Valenti up like a rag doll and tossing him like he empty pack cigarettes against the wall back in the day. Or Pete Arlos punching Teddy Hatin in the nose at the courthouse. And responding to call in the council chambers between Mayor Smith and Councilor at Large McCaffrey. In the old days things would get heated up and you would have a beer with the guy after the meeting. I don’t’ understand the intimidation – gate thing myself ….

    • Dave
      March 19, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

      Ron, get with the times!!!! Food stamps are now SNAP (funny how you can spell NAPS out of it—joke by our elected jesters I guess) How dare you mention cigarettes in your post, I might get second hand smoke!! I hope that any councilor responding to Dan’s request did not use the word “bullying” in their post because if you can be “bullied” to vote a certain way or not speak up, every vote you take now is suspect- is that how you wanted to vote or were you afraid of a punch in the mouth?

      Next election vote for “Punisher Poulton” for City Clerk!!!
      He probably can’t type like Linda, but he will keep order!!!

    • ed shepardson
      March 19, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

      I know you. This is not what you believe to be appropriate or civil behavior. Trying to light the fires?

      • danvalenti
        March 19, 2014 at 7:33 pm #

        Exactly. I too know when my good friend Ron utters a point of view he does not believe but does it in the interests of stirring the pot. In truth, I have been known to do the same thing, though likely less obviously.

  15. FloggingMolly
    March 19, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    Can we please on to real news Dan??? Is this the best you can do? This is certainly less offensive than some past Mayors threatening you if you weren’t “with them”

    • danvalenti
      March 19, 2014 at 7:34 pm #

      We would urge you to read the 920+ previous columns, as well as this one, for what you say you seek.

  16. Mike Ward
    March 19, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

    Why does this story matter? It matters because we live in a time when no sensible person wants to serve in public office. Lenox recently had to beg residents to come forward and serve on town boards, no doubt because of the blood feud over that memorial in Kennedy Park. Lenox is different though. They don’t threaten you in the hallway after a meeting – they sic the lawyers on you. But either way, government suffers. This story matters to me because I don’t want to be represented by the only guy or gal dumb enough to take the job, and that’s where we’re heading.

    • Dave
      March 19, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

      Dumb enough or realize earlier than you that spending time with their family was more important!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! For you to make judgement why “good folks’ won’t run baffles me.

    • ed shepardson
      March 19, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

      Or Mr. Ward, they criticize you, slander you, and fabricate information about you on blogs, such as this one, that allow anonymous comments. To be fair to Mr. Valenti, he brings to light issues that no one else will. He could still do that without the anonymous posts. He knows that from his days in Syracuse. And to lay blame where it belongs, the Eagle started this anonymous blog crap years ago with Topix. Now, they have dumped Topix but the damage continues.

    • joetaxpayer
      March 19, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

      Mike well put, really don’t understand why any sane person would get involved in city or town government.

  17. Bill Sturgeon
    March 19, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

    TONIGHT (Wednesday, March 19th at 7:00 PM, on Channel 16 PCTV Dan Valenti is my guest on Discussions from the Berkshires! It is a great show!!

    • Dave
      March 19, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

      Do you take calls?

    • ed shepardson
      March 19, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

      And the topic is?

    • Evian
      March 19, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

      I will be tuning in, thanks Bill S.

  18. Hurdygurdy Man
    March 19, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

    Well DV you were smokin hot with Bill Sturgeon tonight!!! Who would want to go up against you in a debate?? Noone thats who. Good job by both.

  19. Eric V
    March 19, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

    What were DVs topics discussed Hurdy?
    Great points Mike B above..alot of truth in Mike Wards comments too

    • danvalenti
      March 19, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

      We talked about a lot of topics, so many they escape me. In fairness, I have done four TV and radio shows this week, not one shorter than an hour. I do remember Bill’s first question, which was maybe the toughest one I’ve ever been asked: “Who is Dan Valenti?” We did talk about the city and the many issues that aren’t being addressed, including unfunded liabilities.

  20. Ron Kitterman
    March 19, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

    @ Ed Shepardson no my take on it is this it’s an adult version of the my little pony bullying story played out by the three horseman against Melissa Mazzeo, I could be wrong it wouldn’t be the first time and hopefully won’t be my last….

  21. Tony
    March 19, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

    Okay, we’ve got our answer to how Prez Maz and her Cracker Jack crisis communications team will respond to the allegations:
    Here’s the official memorandum from the Mazzeo camp:

    To our supporters:

    To be clear, we will NOT address the issue at hand. Nothing good can come from the alleged intimidation by Tony Mazzeo. If we acknowledge that Tony did what he did, and apologize, we look foolish, weak and Tony looks like a goon. If we deny that it happened, we just look stupid because everyone knows that it did happen – and Tony looks even more like a goon.
    We ask that all our supporters post messages that say “fogettaboutit” and “it’s time to move onto ‘real issues.’” Examples of broad issues that can be used are crime, education, taxes, etc. Note: Please stay away from the issue of reopening of the consent decree (a promise that Missy unfortunately won’t keep) or any other specific issues that may highlight Missy’s record.

    Our message is clear: Look the other way, there’s nothing to see here.

    Now, here’s part two of the plan: Once again, it’s Missy who’s the victim. Yes, her husband and his boys intimidate, accost, and threaten anyone who respectfully questions Missy. But, make no mistake, it’s the accountant, the social worker and radio show host who are the real bullies here. To be clear, this is where Missy is at her best. It is truly amazing how Missy can attack, criticize, point fingers, file complaints with the attorney general’s office against her fellow councilors, and yet, always successfully comes out looking like the victim. We will go back to the well and use this remarkable ability of hers. People are stupid enough to believe it, so that’s what we’ll feed them. Brilliant!!”

    End of memorandum. Thank you for your support.

    • danvalenti
      March 19, 2014 at 7:40 pm #

      Well-stated, well-done satire.

    • Scott
      March 20, 2014 at 6:32 am #

      This release will be submitted by email I assume.