PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

NOTE: Tonight, Planet Valenti Television begins at 8 p.m. instead of its usual time at 7 p.m. We will run for the hour. That’s PV-TV on Time Warner’s “Access Pittsfield,” Channel 16. You won’t believe your eyes and ears. And Remember, the previous episodes of PV-TV can be seen on YouTube. Here’s the link for the laughs:

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(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, JUNE 26, 2014) — In retrospect, it’s comical that the mayor of Pittsfield should be so naive to think he could block this website from city hall … or anywhere else for that matter. Unless you live in North Korea, that’s purt-near impossible. When that cigar blew up in his egged face, the mayor issued a policy forbidding any city hall staffer from talking to the press without his permission.

That would presumably include THE PLANET. Such a desperate, Nixonian strategy to stifle the flow of information might prevent other media outlets from getting the story, but it’s laughable to us. We have worked out foolproof systems for obtaining information from our numerous sources both within and outside of the hallowed halls of 70 Allen Street. These include courageous public servants who loath what is happening in and with city government and want to try to affect change. Given the vindictive nature of their ultimate boss, they risk retribution to share the truth. They are heroic.

THE PLANET will try to obtain a copy of the paranoid policy, so that you may see, in the mayor’s own mistrustful, fearful, and insecure words, the lengths he has gone to keep out sunshine and thwart transparency. Stay tuned. TES is trying, but he will not be able, to hide this document from us.

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Parking, Parking, Who’s Got Parking? — Downtown parking remains the eternal lament and an outward sign of a community whose officials can’t get their act together.

Pittsfield has enough parking (6,000 spaces), but it goes out of its way to make the spaces hard to reach, too expensive, and an ever-present risk of running into trouble with tickets.

The situation only discourages those fewer and fewer hardy souls who, at present, risk limb and life to venture downtown.

Of course, the city — in attempting yet another in the long, gray line of parking “studies” — had no confidence in its internal ability to analyze, strategize, and improve the situation. Thus, the mayor authorized the hiring of — you sitting down? — a consultant. At the mayor’s order, the taxpayers are coughing up $85,000 to Nelson-Nygaard.

After all that money spent, N-N came back and reported that Pittsfield’s parking situation is “ineffective.” You could have probably done the same job for a lot less than N-N raked in from Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski.

The consultants submitted a few recommendations to justify their bread, nothing that hasn’t been thought of or proposed before (long-term permits, parking meters, limited “free” parking, charging premium for desired locations).

Free of charge, THE PLANET makes available two options that slipped by the fancy-pants consultant : (1) Park or tow TES away, at his own expense, into permanent retirement on the grounds of promoting more inefficiency, wasting more of taxpayer dollars, and lacking both creativity and vision; (2) Make parking free in all public lots.

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Pay Hike “Convoluted, Weak, Slapdash” — You might have missed the sizzling editorial by Jonathan Levine in The Pittsfield Gazette on the selfish pay raise proposed by The Empty Suit for himself, his managers, and his department heads. Here are some highlights:

— “If Dan Bianchi was still a city councilor, he probably would have had a fit Monday night [when he first presented the policy to the city council].”

— Levine terms the plan “a convoluted pay raise” that “lacked clarity, detail, and consistent rationale.”

— Bianchi, Levine wrote, “[put] forth just the sort of weak submissions he once halted [as a councilor]” and further labeled the plan accurately as  “weak,” “complicated,” and  … “slapdash.”

— “Even after 150 minutes of discussion, councilors would be hard-pressed to identify the specifics they were expected to approve.”

MAYOR BIANCHI, left, breaking bread with “The Little Guy.”

As THE PLANET has written before, this pay raise is foolhardy for several reasons: first, as Levine says, it’s poorly presented, muddled, and non-transparent; second, it will only exacerbate Pittsfield’s current perilous financial condition, increase its debt burden, and sink numerous citizens and families, especially those on fixed income, who will have to pay for the measure; third, it includes a pay raise of up to 40% for the mayor. This incompetent deserves a pay raise the same way as Florida needs more humidity.

Year after year, the city blindly awards undeserved pay hikes to school department administrators and employees while stiffing the grunts on the city side. This proposal will only cause more disparity in city hall, since, if passed, it will reward the big shots, not the little guys, on city side. What a shame, since the unheralded are only the ones keeping the city’s pulse going, if only barely. TES’ policy toward The Little Guy both in city employ and “out there” in the Dreaded Private Sector is to spit all over them.

The only way this proposal will pass is if the city council gets to do it “in the dark,” when no one is looking. The odds for that look pretty good right now. We won’t even try to tell where the votes will be. THE PLANET does know, however, that those who vote for this will have to own up to it come election time. That, too, will depend on either the apathy or engagement of citizens in the alleged “democratic process.”

THE PLANET does have one prediction: The day after election day in 2015, the city will have a new mayor-elect. TES will be gone, and his demise will take place in one of three ways (presented from least to most likely):

* He loses office after a citizens’ recall at least six months prior to the election.

* He correctly reads the tea leaves and resigns, having succeeded in his only mayoral objective, which was and remains to build up his fat pension.

* He runs for re-election and loses. If he runs, he will not even be competitive. He will be crushed.

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“Any time at all, all you gotta do is call, and I’ll be there.”The Beatles, “Anytime at All,” (1964).


  1. dustball
    June 26, 2014 at 12:52 am #

    I can’t help but wonder if there was a kickback from the parking lot consultant to some official in the city. And i wonder this because it just seems so asinine to me that with all the local officials who experience the parking situation in Pittsfield daily we had to bring in an outsider. Parking is not rocket science.

    How many consultants has the city hired since Bianchi took over and what is their sum total cost tot the taxpayers?

    And what percentage kickback is the norm these days in a city this size?

  2. DowagerHat
    June 26, 2014 at 2:15 am #

    He will be crushed.

    • C.J.
      June 26, 2014 at 5:08 am #

      Can’t see crushed happening. Only a small percentage of Pittsfield registered voters actually vote. Of those that do vote a very large percentage have a self- centered incentive to vote in favor of the candidate who panders to their personal gain, ie 90% of actual voters are members of or in someway related to Pittsfield’s controlling electorate, the big municipal and school unions.
      TES knows this well.

      • levitan
        June 26, 2014 at 11:30 am #

        Once elected, politicians tend to become like ingrown toenails. Takes a lot of work to dig them out.

  3. Freedom is not free
    June 26, 2014 at 2:34 am #

    Yes Dan,

    We the people would like to see this draconian policy issued by this mayor.
    Is that even legal to muzzle city employees being they are paid with taxpayer dollars?
    What is the punishment for speaking to the press without the dictators permission?
    If a city employee were to lose their job for speaking to the press can they turn around and sue the city for millions?
    Are there contitutional lawyers that would take these cases on a contingency basis?

    If a city employee sees the opportunity to get rich from such a lawsuit, are they not better off to speak to the media, lose their job and then enjoy some big money due to the mayor’s new draconian policy?

    It seems to me that this mayor is asking for trouble especially if he was foolish enough to put it in writing.

    Nobody should have a gun held to their head to keep their job.

    May this backfire and turn city employees against this mayor and hopefully get Adolf removed from the corner office.

  4. GeoSims
    June 26, 2014 at 4:45 am #

    Crushed and looking forward to the day!

  5. amandaWell
    June 26, 2014 at 4:54 am #

    no mas

  6. outfox
    June 26, 2014 at 6:03 am #

    I think he will be crushed. Another TES example of appearing myopic in the press: Last night on channel 7 news out of Albany he was talking about the new decals on the North St. sidewalks that show bikes, skateboards, etc. are prohibited on the sidewalks, and how he’s expecting law enforcement to manage it. Not a word about how we are experiencing a North St. crime wave and what law enforcement is doing about that! I think we are living the Pittsfield version of “Jaws”—-don’t let them tourists know there’s a predator out there during peak earning months for the locals!!! Three more stabbings being reported today by the BB. Enough. Time to get hardcore on the North/South St. crime wave, Mr. Mayor.

    • Thomas More
      June 26, 2014 at 6:19 am #

      Broken window and a stolen ring from the display in a North St. Jewelry stohr last night. Just a heartbeat from the police station. The alarm didn’t go off. Whoever did it had his or her own pair of Jewels.

  7. Nota
    June 26, 2014 at 6:46 am #

    Unleash the tasers!

  8. Pothole
    June 26, 2014 at 7:09 am #

    $85,000 on top of how much the city spend on previous studies and then implementation of an inferior parking plan. DO we have our own “City Planner”? Do we have an overpaid and soon to be excessively overpaid, head of public works? What exactly are these people qualified to do? Are they just purchasing agents? Do they just award contracts to have work done without any vision of where it will take the city.
    We had route 7 moved as to ease traffic off of North Street to ease the traffic and make it easier for pedestrians to shop and enjoy downtown. What did they do next? Eliminate Park Square(circle) and make it easier for traffic to just stay on North Street. Ridiculous.
    Make North Street just like downtown Northhampton. We use them constantly in comparisons. Use their plan, don’t pay extra to study it again and ask for more recommendations from people who do not live here and do not struggle to support the downtown and still have a hard time doing it because of the horrible parking. Call me lazy, but if I have to walk from down behind the buildings up to North on any other day other than one that I am not working, I simply don’t have the time, nor the ambition to do it. Reality, seniors can’t do it, Lazy won’t do it. Uncomfortable shoe wearers won’t do it. In winter, we won’t do it. Etc…
    Wake up Mayor, get a vision, even if you have to borrow one, and use it.

  9. Shopper Friendly
    June 26, 2014 at 7:52 am #

    There is plenty of free parking at the mall in Lanesboro.
    Also, your chances of getting mugged, stabbed or shot is less there.
    Many gang members and armed street thugs would have to catch a ride there. Its too much trouble – better to stay in the hood waiting for victims. Besides they got Chief Bashara there and he’s not acting.

  10. Albert Prince
    June 26, 2014 at 8:35 am #

    A stabbing and a fight /brawl near Orchard St-AMart location. No cops were called. Settled “privately”…Gunfire heard near Union Street francis Ave. No cops called. This was all last nite.

    But the mayor is fighting back, hes putting “no bike” decals on N St. sidewalks and
    hes out there looking for TOM ..

  11. levitan
    June 26, 2014 at 8:53 am #

    Like the LIttle Guy art.

    $85,000 for parking consultant? Gee, thanks, City Hall, I think….

    • Shakes His Head
      June 26, 2014 at 10:06 am #

      More from N& N at $85k than hizzhonor at the same wage. Excellent point Mr. Valenti, Why is the mayor acting in a manner he would have never tolerated from the corner office as a clowncilor, especially if he is vested in the retirement system and prodigy in waiting is the instant favorite to assume the porcelain throne? Do we really need more empire building? Are there kickbacks? Maybe if they find the one man, all will come to light.

  12. Magic
    June 26, 2014 at 9:41 am #

    Channel 6 news is on North St at noon, just now. I didn’t stop to talk but if this is about the decals, Good lord as long as people on bikes and skateboards don’t run me down or into me I don’t care where they ride Mr. Bianchi, worry about the shootings and stabbings happening it seems on a daily basis.

    • downtown dweller
      June 26, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

      They were doing a piece on the up coming gambling/casino referendum.

    June 26, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    The decals on North Street are needed and a wonderful step for the downtown.

    I’m not in the minority when I thank Mayor Bianchi for his leadership, especially in the face of the withering and unfair criticism he receives here on a daily basis.

    Mr. Valenti should try to do as he preaches and see things objectively. It’s clear he doesn’t when it comes to our fine mayor. For example why is it that Planet never presents the mayor’s side of a story? See?

    • Pat
      June 26, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

      Because the Mayor refuses to speak to the Planet and obviously feels he is above having to answer to the people for his actions or lack of action in regards to crime.

      • Dave
        June 26, 2014 at 1:56 pm #


        • Just Us for all
          June 26, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

          If you want the santized side of Bianchi, go this web-site here:

          Huge tax hikes, raises, cutting ribbons and putting down stickers – great leadership?

    • Johhny2Shoes
      June 26, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

      Love the decals. Here was our fine mayors plan and I wish he practiced what he preached to the voters! Criticism well earned.

      Dan Bianchi – Mayor

      • Thu, Sep 08, 2011

      By Dan Bianchi
      I have had the privilege of serving our city for many years, and have deeply appreciated every opportunity. My previous roles as City Councilor, Director of Administration and Finance for Pittsfield, Regional Employment Board coordinator and a member of the state Finance Control Board have prepared me well for the Office of Mayor. I’ve managed in business for 30 years, adding a different yet equally significant perspective to my experience. Service to many civic organizations has revealed the goodwill and generosity that has always been the heart of Pittsfield. We have a wonderful city, filled with hard-working people who have always been willing to do their part.
      Yet over the past decade, I’ve seen a government of exclusion evolve where people are discouraged from independent opinion; where they are marginalized if they have a different viewpoint. This approach leaves our government under the influence of a select few people, and deprives our city of the benefit of vibrant new ideas. This era must end. I believe in the ideals of strong civic involvement with an open and inclusive government that encourages everyone to participate.
      These are very challenging times. Poor job opportunity creates under-employment as well as unemployment. It contributes to crime and increases educational costs. It is a detriment to everything we hope to achieve for Pittsfield. Economic development and job growth are essential elements to the success of our city. If elected mayor, I will launch a Mayoral Jobs Initiative that will create a comprehensive marketing plan to reach beyond Pittsfield. The plan will have real milestones and a system to measure achievement. Required resources for the success of the initiative will be deployed. I will invite every citizen to participate in this initiative, and its progress will be shared with the public.
      An important part of my initiative will recognize the value of existing small businesses – the backbone of our community. These businesses deserve greater support so they can continue to operate and expand. I will create an atmosphere that fosters success, including setting aside a portion of the GE economic development fund to help these businesses.
      I will be sensitive to the burden of taxes and the effect of taxes on economic development. We will grow a solid tax base only through sensible development and prudent planning.
      I will insist on comprehensive long range planning that will allow Pittsfield to continue supporting education, youth sports, and cultural initiatives. All of these amenities complement the natural beauty of our area. Most importantly, our children will be engaged. Active and engaged children stay in school and have the necessary foundation for citizenship. We must continue to do good work for the benefit of this generation and the generation of citizens we will never meet.
      Pittsfield is in the midst of challenging times, but with leadership you can trust and a spirit of inclusion, we will have a brighter future. I will need your help to get us there. Your vote is valuable. I urge you to use it wisely.
      Thank you for your consideration.

  14. dusty
    June 26, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    Speaking of bikes…don’t the police have bikes to patrol North street? Didn’t the taxpayers foot the bill for several really nice bikes for them? Where are they now if anyone knows? Don’t they also have some motorcycles? Anyone ever see either? Are they on any inventory sheet anywhere?

    • acheshirecat
      June 26, 2014 at 7:10 pm #

      Haven’t seen the bikes, but the motorcycles were parked at the corner of Fenn and North street during third Thursday.

  15. Johnny2Shoes
    June 26, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    I hope the heck the mayor doesn’t feel the need to hire a consultant to advise him on where, when and how to handle all the ribbon cutting ceremonies that he has to perform throughout the city. Then again, with the mayors busy schedule,maybe it would free up sometime time for him to focus the crime issue.

    • Shakes His Head
      June 26, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

      maybe he will hire a first-pitching coach???

  16. NBI
    June 26, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

    Maybe we should ask the city to install some No Stabbing, Shooting or Mugging decals. That would be a simple fix!

    • outfox
      June 26, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

      Can’t be any less effective than the current approach, that’s for sure.

    June 26, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    This parking thing goes way back. Way bacK.
    Parallel parking is good.
    No wait, angle parking is better.
    On second thought let’s go back to parallel parking.

    Years later, no wait let’s go back to angle parking.
    No, wait parallel is best.

    Hey, let’s build a parking garage. That will solve the problem once and for all.

    No wait, another $85,000.00 to study it again.

    How many times has this same money grab been done?

    The people of Pittsfield are so gullible.

    Maybe we go back to angle parking to get more cars able to park.
    We could make more room by eliminating the self-watering garbage pails.
    Raise parking fines and fees.
    Pittsfield needs the revenue.

  18. Pat
    June 26, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

    Not a word from the Berkshire Eagle in the editorial section about the escalating crime in Pittsfield since it would be betraying the suits to mention it.

  19. MrG1188
    June 26, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

    A slight change of subject…a relative is looking for work so I went to the Berkshire Works site to check the job listings. The last “updated” comprehensive job listings were labeled as 5-5-2014. Guess what…even those listings didn’t exist! So…zero job listings on the Berkshire Works Job site. They really need a director to keep the weekly updates going?

  20. outfox
    June 26, 2014 at 7:35 pm #

    I’ve been on here repeatedly over the past two years saying that North St. is safe at night; that it’s the perception of rather than any real danger that deters locals from going there. And up until these past two weeks, that was true—nuthin’ on North St, at night but tumbleweeds and empty parking spaces, certainly no criminals preying on hapless passersby. (You would first need the foot traffic at night; the criminals then would follow.) What changed so quickly??? I see beat cops during the day, why not at night? Now THAT would be $85,000 well spent on the downtown, paying the salaries for nighttime foot patrols.

    • levitan
      June 27, 2014 at 9:10 am #

      Agree! Get the police off of construction sites, dump the contractors, and put a cop on corners 24/7. Downtown is still safe during the day, no city is safe at night though.

      Ideally, they’d nail the perps with a dart gun and transplant them in the wilds of Alaska or the Dakotas with nothing on them but their shoes and shirts.

      A bit like Siberia but no guards.

  21. Evian
    June 26, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

    This is from the post above quoting from the mayor’s campaign speech:
    “Yet over the past decade, I’ve seen a government of exclusion evolve where people are discouraged from independent opinion; where they are marginalized if they have a different viewpoint. This approach leaves our government under the influence of a select few people, and deprives our city of the benefit of vibrant new ideas. This era must end. I believe in the ideals of strong civic involvement with an open and inclusive government that encourages everyone to participate.”

    Read these words again everyone and tell me if this does not reveal Bianchis true colors.
    He’s broken every one of his campaign promises.. every one.

  22. Giacometti
    June 26, 2014 at 8:36 pm #

    The Pittsfield Police Department annually collects hundreds of bicycles that have turned up stolen…they sell them at a public auction every autumn. Perhaps they could just pass the bikes out to their fellow officers to ride in bike patrols downtown every night… there would be a sight…bike patrols of Pittsfield Police Officers riding downtown to clean up our City…I don’t think this would ever happen unless the citizens of Pittsfield offered free Dunkin Donuts to every officer riding in a bike patrol…no I don’t think Police Officer Bike Patrols will ever happen…there is just too much crime out there…it’s no longer safe to ride a bike.

  23. dusty
    June 27, 2014 at 12:19 am #

    Part of the parking problem that they don’t want to talk about is that they gave waivers to parking limits for the Beacon theater and condo apartment buildings across the street. Maybe others as well. (No evidence of kickbacks here either.)

    The whole parking issue is designed to fail and all the money paid to consultants did not turn up this basic flaw. If it did turn up it was red lined from the report.

  24. Pothole
    June 27, 2014 at 6:18 am #

    Please tell me why diagonal parking would not work on North Street. Anyone. Just a valid educated view of why parallel parking with the ridiculous bump outs is a better option.

    • levitan
      June 27, 2014 at 9:13 am #

      The argument against diagonal parking is that it requires backing out into traffic. North Adams for years rejected diagonal parking for that reason, but swirtched to it a couple of years ago. They valued downtown commerce over petty traffic complaints.

      I bet there is no uptick in whiplash injuries or spoiled bumpers there.