PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, APRIL 28, 2014) — Soon, we may have an exciting announcement for all the readers and inhabitants of THE PLANET. Stay tuned. The substance of this announcement is still in the talking phase, with syllables exchanged and field trips made. It is that talk that is the necessary condition for creation.

Right now, we’d like to deal with the Mail Bag and share some messages we received that for various reasons have not been posted, mostly because we haven’t had the chance. THE PLANET modestly and humbly leaves out the many “fan letters” (for want of a better term) that come to us. They are most appreciated, of course, and of a type. That type generally thanks us for our work, praises our fight for The Little Guy, loves how we stick it to The Suits, and will often makes a complimentary remark about allowing comments, not taking ads to remain TOTALLY INDEPENDENT, and keeping access to the website free of charge. Most of the writers choose their words to remain anonymous. Thus, we thank them here, now, in this manner.

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The first letter has to do with Mayor Dan Bianchi‘s appointment of Julia Berkowitz Sabourin. It comes from a former public servant and one-time player in the soggy water polo that is Pittsfield politics. This person writes:

Sobourin ‘Political Ambitions’


Don’t know her. Never met her. But my prediction is Sabourin has lofty political ambitions.  She could have toiled away in any capacity within the well-compensated PPS but she chose a job she thinks is a springboard. — WF

PLANET RESPONDS — We must admit the thought hadn’t occurred to us, being that, initially, we take most appointments at face value. That being said, we did have the question of why Berkowitz Sabourin would leave a cushy set-up in the PSD for the agitation of the mayor’s lackey. WF, your prediction is the most convincing hypothesis we have yet seen to answer our query. The post certainly did the trick for John Krol and TFB.

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THE PLANET received this e-mail from Ward 1 councilor Lisa Tully in response to our coverage of the school bus vote and the many remarks from readers.

Tully ‘Clears Up Some Misconceptions’


I read your column today and would like to clear up some misconceptions if you will permit me.  I did not use the School Department’s figures to change my vote.  I may not have been clear on that.  The PSD showed me that they calculated the cost of a yearly replacement in 2012 and revisited it in 2013.  I have a copy of the sheet and would be happy to scan it and email it to you, if you request, but it is irrelevant.  It only answered my question that the PSD did consider a replacement plan.

So, just as I did 2 weeks ago, I independently calculated the average annual cost for 5 years of partially replacing the fleet each year.  In the spirit of full disclosure, my husband Mark helps me with the spreadsheets.  He does business plans all the time and is a wizard at Excel.  Most importantly, he humbly accepts his role as secretary.

My cost calculations were not that different from 2 weeks ago.  I added 2.5% to the bus bid price as a premium because we would not be buying 43 buses at once.  I also calculated 20% yearly depreciation after year 1.  As you can see, this comes out to an average annual spend of $615,000 for 5 years.  I thought this was reasonable and affordable and was not willing to change my vote based on this information alone.

The information that I obtained after the first vote that swayed me was the low interest rate the City pays on its bonds.  The fact that our City can issue a bond at 1%, as was done recently, is amazing.  I believe in good credit and using that good credit if it saves us money.  I calculated the annual payment for 5 years at $582,000 using a 2% bond interest rate.  Clearly borrowing will save us money (at least $30k annually for 5 years).  There will definitely be savings from maintenance; maybe not $90k as the PSD states, but definitely some figure.

Finally, I voted no the first time because I had (1) no documentation that an annual replacement plan was considered (2) no documentation indicating that a 9 year replacement life was reasonable and (3) no documentation on the cost of borrowing.  As Councilor Krol wisely pointed out at the council meeting during his questioning with Superintendent McCandless, there wasn’t any new information forthcoming from the PSD since the last submittal.  I was disappointed that there wasn’t new information in the packet, but I wasn’t going to let my disappointment not change my vote when it was the right thing to do economically.
Best regards,

THE PLANET RESPONDS — We thank our Right Honorable Good Friend the councilwoman for her diligence in communicating not just with us but with our readers, her constituents, and the citizens as a whole. The mayor could certainly profit from the councilwoman’s example.

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As we said earlier, THE PLANET receives many messages and letters privately praising us for the job we are doing fighting for We The People, The Little Guy, and Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski. Modesty as well as the senders’ usual desire to remain anonymous prohibit us from publishing these. Far more interesting, and in a certain sense more cherished, are notes like this one. We love them because they stand as proof that this column is fulfilling one if its main purposes, which is to foster discussion, debate, deliberation, and, in doing so, disagreement. When a writer can arouse emotion in a stranger simply by the abstraction of words, that is a beautiful thing:

 ‘You Delight in Destruction’


It is my opinion that you, Mr. Valenti, are an evil, nasty, little man. You delight in destroying people’s characters and good intentions. You have a bad habit of not having all of the facts when you spout your venom and unfortunately people think you speak the truth. Your blog is one sided and you never mention the good work that both the City and School employees do. You should try printing one of those stories, though I’m sure you would find a way to make them look bad anyway. — SUZY Q


THE PLANET RESPONDS: Demosthenes advised listening well to all your critics, and we do that here. It is amazing how some people feel threatened when we “go after” one or more of the cows that are particularly sacred to them.  In this case, the divine moo-moo is the Pittsfield School Department. Obviously, Suzy-Q either works there or has a family member/loved one who does. How dare we place a penny on the tracks over which her gravy train rides?

 Now to her specific remarks. At 5’3″, we admit to being “little.” As for “nasty” and “evil”  the writer neglects to mention all of the canes we have kicked out from old ladies crossing North Street, the times we have absconded with the lunch money of orphans, or the many instances where we have been known to slap a “Kick Me” sign on the jersey-backs of soccer players. THE PLANET would only bring attention to the three words that end every posting on this website: “LOVE TO ALL.” We delight in construction, though it is true that sometimes to build anew, one must first demolish the old, broken, and moldy.

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Coming Up Empty in ‘The Bay of Funding’


Mr. Valenti you pride on exposes.  Yet day after day you post columns which  take much time and effort. You are well funded. Is source of  income for [T]he [P]lanet certain of your ‘made’ “associates” in  North End of Boston a certain address on Salem Street? — FTM

THE PLANET RESPONDS: We cannot answer this derisible question with a straight face. The letter makes no sense. Can anyone make out a logical connection between sentence one and sentence two? As for funding, THE PLANET takes no advertising. We are unbought and unbossed. Period. Get used to it!

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 ‘Mayor Insults All of Us’


I voted for Dan Bianchi in 2011, the biggest miscast vote of my life. As Mayor, Mr. Bianchi insults all of us through his job at Global, his unresponsiveness and mainly through his lack of accomplishment. He’s punished political enemies and rewarded his friends. Your [website] is the only source of truthful news about the deal city is receiving at the Mayor’s hands. Thank you, Planet!!SMcC

THE PLANET RESPONDS: We appreciate your confidence. It is the credibility we have built up with citizens like you through honest, straightforward reportage and commentary that keeps THE PLANET going and growing.


“She was a long, cool woman in a black dress, just 5’9″ beautiful tall. With just one look I was a bad mess, ’cause that long cool woman had it all.”The Hollies, “Long Cool Woman,” (1973).





  1. Pat
    April 28, 2014 at 4:15 am #

    In regards to the letter by Suzy Q and printing the good stuff about the City of Pittsfield and the Pittsfield Public Schools, the Berkshire Eagle has already got that covered. All the BE ever prints is the good stuff while ignoring anything negative. This is where Dan Valenti comes in. This area needs him to tell the other side of the story. The part that would be avoided because the powers that be want everyone to believe that everything is perfect and wants to feed the message “Don’t worry, be happy” to the citizens. Just ignore the fact that 70% of the city budget goes to the schools already in an area with a declining number of students. Ignore the fact that even with all the money, local students are graduating without the necessary skills to succeed. Ignore the fact that more money does not translate into better education. Ignore that fact that the City cannot continue on its current fiscal path without serious repercussions in the very near future. This is why Planet Valenti is needed to shine a light on issues that others would choose to ignore or not even be aware of in the first place.

    • danvalenti
      April 28, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

      You mean The Boring Broadsheet. The newspaper formerly known as The Berkshire Eagle no longer exists. We thank PAT for her insights.

      • Pat
        April 28, 2014 at 7:20 pm #

        Dan, I stand corrected.

  2. Tony
    April 28, 2014 at 6:28 am #

    I want to state again that I am a ward 1 residence and am very familiar with Mrs. Tully. Again there is no way in hell that she has the capacity to write this letter and does not have the ability to understand its contents. Maybe it would be a good idea that the Planet sat down with Tully and ask her to verbally state her position on her vote, then the real Lisa would come out. Her husband Mark is the one who created this letter and all the spread sheets with the approval of the mayor’s office.

    • danvalenti
      April 28, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

      THE PLANET will be meeting with her at some point.

  3. Crystal Clear
    April 28, 2014 at 7:02 am #

    I have known Lisa Tully for many years and I would like to make it clear that Lisa is not a stupid person. She is very knowledgeable in her field of nursing. However, I do agree with you, the letters she posted are not written by her. It’s unfortunate that she is being used by her husband and his buddy the mayor.

    • Tony
      April 28, 2014 at 8:22 am #

      C.C. Tully might be a good nurse but she has shown so far to be a poor councilor. Examples are the Crane Ave. RR tracks. Lisa stated right after she was elected she was going to have them removed. Well try driving over them now. Lisa said she was going to have Ward meetings every month, zero have been scheduled, she said she gets it about the tax payers, now her flip-flop vote that will cost us more taxes.

      I live down the road from her and am very disappointed.

      • shakes his head
        April 28, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

        show me a case when a City can have a railroad do anything. Tully is green and impatient, two qualities that do not go well for newly elected officials.

  4. Johnny2Shoes
    April 28, 2014 at 7:29 am #

    Keep up the great work Dan! Like they say, You know your doing your job when you have them coming after you! I wonder what they would call you, if you were 6’4″ broad at the shoulders and narrow at the hips? Maybe you should have a redirect on your site to the BB if viewers are not seeking to be Dazzled with Brilliance but Baffled with B.S..

    • danvalenti
      April 28, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

      They’d call me “Big Bad Dan.” If we wish to induce comas and brain death, we shall redirect to The BB. We are, though, of merciful mien.

  5. Jamie
    April 28, 2014 at 7:33 am #

    I’ve been with this site from the early days. It’s grown in influence and size because DV alone among local media covers events and personalities with truth and lots of color. He’s also not afarid to publish contrary views as you can see.

  6. Jamie
    April 28, 2014 at 7:34 am #

    Need better spell check…meant “afraid”

  7. Jonathan Melle
    April 28, 2014 at 9:06 am #

    I wish Pittsfield would change for the better, but Pittsfield keeps on getting worse with each passing year. Pittsfield politics is as toxic as Jack Welch’s PCBs. Taxes are very high in Pittsfield, while most of the people in Pittsfield are receiving welfare assistance. It makes no sense to me. Pittsfield politics invested in culture and the arts over the past decade, but many jobs were lost and thousands of people fled the Pittsfield area. I guess Pittsfield wants to attract tourists and second homeowners.

  8. Spider
    April 28, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    I think Tony has the right idea about sitting down with Tully for a discussion…..and see for yourself. I don’t live in her ward but I also have my doubts about her. I do know that she was put up and supported by the mayor….he disliked Yon that much. I guess the word is “puppet”.

  9. dusty
    April 28, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

    I would like to know what Lisa Tully, and the whole rest of the councilors who voted for the new buses, found wrong with Terry Kinnas overview. I would like them to tell us what part he had wrong if any.

    And if the mayor would just have the city yard dump some asphalt where they put the sand piles, I am sure the citizens would take it up and fill most of the potholes.

    • danvalenti
      April 28, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

      The approving councilors wanted nothing to do with Kinnas’ numbers, because they were too convincing.

  10. Tony
    April 28, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

    As much as I disagree with Krol about his vote, he brought out the fact that Tully had no additional information to base her flip-flop vote on. So can you anyone answer why she could not come to the same conclusion two weeks ago.

    Answer: Her husband Mark did not have enough time to consult with Danny do- little office.

  11. shakes his head
    April 28, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

    I think that if Marchetti were to run in the next mayoral election, he would handily smite Mayor do-nothing rambling on and on an on and on……. The wort thing for Bianchi politically was to get elected and preside of a huge loss of momentum for this well worn and well loved town.

    Also, the costs for transporting the students are re-diculous. The public information, repeated here, is not conclusive. What should have made or broken the argument was a per student and per mile cost for transportation, compared with all of the other school districts in the region. That involves work, and no one wants to do that. If the admin had shown that pittsfield had the lowest transportation costs per student, then the council should have passed the measure supportively. If Pittsfield does not have the lowest costs, by being relatively flat and urban, then there should be a lot of questioning to ascertain exactly what they are doing with our money.

  12. danvalenti
    April 28, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

    Thanks, SHH. Not only could Marchetti beat Bianchi, but so could a Proctor Silex toaster.

  13. chuck garivaltis
    April 28, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    Dan, I don’t understand how it is possible that one who solicits and encourages conflicting views is called names like nasty and evil. It makes no sense and the fact that this stuff is printed for public consumption shows the weakness of Suzy-Q’s argument and the strength and honesty of yours.
    Your comment on Demosthenes and his superior oratorical qualities threw me off. For a time I thought you were taliking about Diogenes who is famous for carrying a lamp during daylight hours while looking for an honest man. I understand him. As far as I know neither of these gentleman is a relative of mine but last weekend I was looking for an honest man, too. I didn’t find him.
    Last Saturday and Sunday I was walking around the Clapp Park track.The Clapp Park baseball field was spongy, damp, pitted, with home plate having a puddle of water around it that made the field unplayable.This is the area that Pittsfield leaders a few years ago squandered about $400,00.00 of a generous gift from Larry Bossidy to – get this now – “preserve and improve playing fields”. And, if you are not yet shocked out of your senses, here’s one more: $65,000.00 was paid to a consultant for this and equally bad planning to improve city playing fields.
    Mr. Bossidy’s gift to Pittsfield was 1 million dollars. How much of it is left to improve and preserve playing fields?

    • Bball8
      April 28, 2014 at 6:20 pm #

      Chuck- I noted the same thing at Clapp as we were trying to practice there. All those “improvements”, but drainage terrible. Also – Deming – looks great.. Drains awful. Rains Saturday… Still couldn’t play on field Sunday.

    • danvalenti
      April 28, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

      So true. Clapp diamond and turf is strictly 3rd rate. The city wasted Mr. Bossidy’s generous gift.

    • billy
      April 28, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

      We have bad city management ,and they are more concerned about being in charge and getting their pension than pitching in and actually being a leader

  14. Matt
    April 28, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

    Pittsfield is very lucky to have DanValenti in an era of weak willed media and devastating cutbacks in local news which historically served a watchdog function. Reading the local press, and watching local news, you would never know that Pittsfield has serious issues of governmental administration. He represents the best, if fading, tradition of honest journalism. Keep up the great work!

    • danvalenti
      April 28, 2014 at 7:59 pm #

      Thank you, MATT. Such support is appreciated more than you may realize. We find that good citizens such as yourself appreciate the efforts we employ to use all of our journalistic abilities to serve as a watchdog. Muckraking? Yellow journalism? These terms, which our critics ignorantly apply to us, actually fit quite well, since they describe journalism of the fearless kind, meaning to serve the most important function of the press — that of The Fourth Estate. THE PLANET is the only — repeat, only — local media outlet that serves this function.

  15. Scott
    April 29, 2014 at 3:02 am #

    It’s kind of like buy one get one free sure you’re saving money but what if you never bought it in the first place…