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PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, JULY 31, 2013) — The campaign trail, such as it is thus far, bears little resemblance to a byway that leads anywhere interesting. A look at the field, coming in a moment, will bear this out. Meantime, THE PLANET has heard the following:

* We hear from sources that Alf Barbalunga, who is not seeking re-election to the school committee, is heir apparent to take over at the Juvenile Resource Center after Jack Quinn retires. THE PLANET contacted Barbalunga about this, and he has not responded. We will note that it’s not like Barbalunga not to answer inquiries, which leads us to believe there is truth here. When you go to the Pittsfield Public Schools website and click on “Specialized Programs,” you’ll find that the Pittsfield Adult Learning Center, the Helen Berube Teen Parent Program, and the Positive Options Program all have program descriptions and hot links for more information. The only information you get on the JRC is the address. There’s no program description and no link for more information. It’s as if they want to keep as much of the JRC operation below the radar. Now why do you suppose that would be the case? THE PLANET will have more on this as the situation develops.

* We hear that former Pittsfield police chief Tony Riello is seeking a post on the Pittsfield school committee. Last we knew, we thought Riello lived in Maine, but he has at least taken out papers, according to city clerk Linda Tyer. Sources say Riello will be looking to become the next chairman.

* We hear that Donna Todd Rivers, of “I’m Closing-I’m Not Closing “fame,” is reconsidering her at-large candidacy in light of some supporters jumping ship. There has been no official word from the campaign. An apparently wavering Rivers has yet to turn in her signatures. At this point, while not having acted on signatures proves nothing, it is, as we approach August, at least a sign of possible tentativeness and second-guessing. In the at-large field, official candidates — those who took out papers and handed in the required number of signatures — include Mark Miller, Barry Clairmont, Melissa Mazzeo, Jim Conant, and Kathy Amuso. If nothing else, getting officially on the ballot before August does send the message, “Hey, look, I’m serious about this.”

* We hear that school committee member Terry Kinnas will soon be making an announcement about his future political plans. THE PLANET, after a brief interview with Kinnas, can only say Kinnas is “weighing all options.”

At this stage of a silent campaign, many “trial balloons” are being launched by candidates and supporters jockeying for position. THE PLANET has not confirmed any of the above, but the information comes from good sources. We present the information as a public service.

—– 00 —–

With papers and signatures due on Aug. 6 at Linda Tyer’s office at City Hall, here’s how the field shapes up, as listed on The Pittsfield Gazette website as of Monday, July 29:


Dan Bianchi
Gerald Ely

*Linda Tyer

*Tammy Ives
*Lisa Tully
*Christine Yon

*Kevin Morandi

Jeffrey Germain

Jonathan King
Richard Latura
Jennifer Lee McGern
Thomas Wells Jr.

*Chris Connell
Jonathan Lothrop
*Joe Nichols
*Tony Simonelli

*Kathleen Amuso
Edward Carmel
*Barry Clairmont
*James Conant
Churchill Cotton
*Melissa Mazzeo
*Mark Miller
Donna Todd Rivers


Josh Cutler
Brittany Lynne Douglas
Tanya Edwards
*Dan Elias
Pamela Pferrron
Brandon Mauer
Tony Riello
*Cynthia Taylor
Katherine Yon
This is a listing of citizens who have taken out nomination papers for possible candidacies for municipal office. Inclusion on this listing does not mean that individual has qualified for the ballot or is an official candidate. It merely means they’ve signalled their possible candidacies. Candidates who have qualified for the ballot are listed with an asterisk.


Now that assistant city solicitor and local girls’ softball booster Darren Lee has issued the challenge and we have accepted, we have heard nothing to indicate acceptance. Lee did come on this site yesterday to say he made the challenge “tongue-in-cheek.” No one loves TIC more than THE PLANET, but we would ask Lee to reconsider tongue placement.

Our Right Honorable Good Friend said he wasn’t sure if our acceptance showed great confidence in our hitting or great puffery. Well, here’s a perfect chance to find out. CAll our bluff. Shut us up!

The Lee challenge came after we posted on Mayor Dan Bianchi‘s throwing arm. Bianchi threw out the first pitch at the Futures collegiate All-Star Game and later at a girls’ softball tournament. Our scouting report on the mayor: We said he “threw like a girl.” The remark refers to a certain manner of awkward overhead toss of a ball, where there is little shoulder extension. The throw, such as it is, comes all from the elbow down. The expression “throws like a girl” comes from seeing people attempt to throw a ball, overhand, in this awkward manner — a form most notably engaged in by girls and women, hence, the expression.

Here is what Lee initially posted:

Darren Lee

July 29, 2013 at 7:49 am 

The only thing the families clogged up were local hotels and restaurants ! Hey DV I’ll donate a week’s pay (City pay that is) to your favorite charity if you can hit Cat Record’s fastball past the pitcher’s mound !!!

Here is our reply:
    You’re on. I don’t know Cat from Bill Monbouquette, but I’ll take up that bet. The near-certainty of winning money for my local charity is an offer too good to refuse. When, where, and what are the rules?

This exchange, given in levity and accepted the same way, offers the opportunity to raise some money for charity, but it should be done right — publicly, with a crowd, and a pass of the hat for a local charity. THE PLANET will dig in at the plate against this girl, Cat, she of the wicked fastball. Lee said he would donate money to a charity of our choice if I can drive a ball past the pitcher’s mound. OK, my good friend Darren: Which mound, when, and under what “rules?” By rules, I mean the specifics: Do I get one plate appearance or three (an inning’s worth)? Will there be balls and strikes called by an official ump as
youth takes a stab at age? We understand the softballers are in the Carolinas this week, but all of August awaits. As we said, it could be a lot of fun and could raise some money for a good cause. Besides, who wouldn’t want to see THE PLANET put in his place? Out bat remains on call.

The new Jake, Pittsfield’s new school superintendent, vows to address a faculty that’s nearly all white. Heaven help us.

First, is the new Jake “Jake IV,” since he succeeded Jake Eberwein III. Yes, it is so decreed: He shall be Jake IV.

Jake IV, aka Jake McCandless, declared as much at his first school committee meeting. Jake IV reported that he had a “productive” meeting with the education subcommittee of the local branch of the NAACP.

“I’m very committed to the fact that we need a professional staff that better mirrors our student body and the rich diversity we have,” Jake IV said. He didn’t use the word, but don’t you get the sneaking feeling that quotas are just around the corner. This kind of social engineering, of course, invariably results in a dip in the quality of teaching. You can’t force quality by establishing quotas. It doesn’t work that way. What addled-minded but well-meaning bureaucrats do, however, is what they think is the next best thing: They hire by color, race, and gender. Those quotas are easy to come by. Forget that the likely outcome will be a continued decline in student achievement.

Jake IV also wants to include more Advanced Placement courses. THE PLANET supports that measure, but not the way Jake IV wants to do it — with bribes. It’s not enough that students will feel the satisfaction of achievement. These days, students and teachers, apparently, must be bribed. Jake IV proposes “paying” students cash rewards. On a AP grading scale of of 0 to 5, Jake IV wants to give every AP student who achieves a 3 or beter (3 = 60%) $50. Teachers of students who score 60% or better will receive $1,000 to $3,000.

The money, Jake IV says, will come from private sources, mostly businesses. He claims that this will not cost taxpayers. THE PLANET guesses he doesn’t realize that those same businesses will find a way to either boost their fees and prices to the general public or write the expenses off on their bottom line.

Remember, when it’s confusing to your mind, just consider this: It’s for “The Children.”


“The moving sun-shapes on the spray, / The sparkles where the brook was flowing, / Pink faces, plightings, moonlit May, / These were the things we wished would stay; / But they were going.” — Thomas Hardy, first verse, “Going and Staying.” (1922)





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10 years ago

Riello coming out of nowhere to take over school committee? Uh oh. Any chance Alf leaving and Riello magically appearing is a coincidence? Reminds me of when Ruberto was recruited from California to save the city of Pittsfield. Can you say….ringer?

For anyone, especially a school superintendent, to suggest paying kids to study harder is expletive absurd. Honest to god, where in the hell do these people come from?

front page
front page
10 years ago

If Ms. Rivers “likes” being hostile toward public employees, why run for City Council? From Facebook today: Ms. Rivers “likes” the following joke on Facebook.

Shit Happens
A guy goes to the Post Office to apply for a job. The interviewer asks him, “Are you allergic to anything?”
He says “Yes, just caffeine.”
“Have you ever been in the service?” the interviewer asks.
“Yes,” he says, “I was in Iraq for two years.”
The interviewer says “That will give you 5 extra points toward employment he…re.”,
and then asks, “Are you disabled in any way?”
The guy says, “Yes… an IED exploded near me and blew my testicles clean off.”
The interviewer tells the guy “O.K. In that case, I can hire you right now. Normal hours are from 8am to 4pm. You can start tomorrow at 10am, and plan on starting at 10am every day. Don’t worry,we’ll still pay you from 8am.”
The guy is puzzled and says, “If the hours are from 8am to 4pm, why don’t you want me to be here before 10am?”
“‘This is a government job,” the interviewer says, “For the first two hours we just stand around drinking coffee and scratching our balls. No point in you coming in for that.”

See More.Like · · Share · 41 minutes ago · Donna Todd Rivers likes this.

Ron Kitterman
Ron Kitterman
10 years ago

Pretty creative Ponzi schem though having it privately funded. Sort of like the turnpike tolls we saw a couple of days ago being lifted when the bonds were paid off. Good catch dusty!!

10 years ago

First…instead of Jake the IV, why not just Quattro? Brevity is the soul of wit. Second, incentivizing AP students to achieve is probably well-intentioned but it seems awfully silly. The kids taking the AP courses are already the achievers. The vast majority are self-incentivized just by virtue of being in the class. I mean, goodness gracious, that would be like offering me incentive to eat. I am gonna eat, with GUSTO, anyway. The only reason I can see to do something like this is it would be an easy way to demonstrate the “success” of the money spent; “see…we paid them…and they did well!” might even do a couple of % points better than the prior year! If you’re looking to throw money at a kid to incentivize student achievement the money would be better spent rewarding perfect/better attendance, especially among the lowest 15% of attending students from the prior year, just as an AP incentive would be rewarding the HIGHEST-achieving 10 – 15%. Finally, you might catch up with Cat Record…but you would not get a solid hit off Bazonski from South Berkshire!

10 years ago

Typical Pittsfield way, throw money at the problem. Pay teachers extra to do there jobs. Wonder if they will deduct pay for teachers who under perform.

10 years ago

Totally typical Pittsfield. Did JIV(short for Jake the fourth-pronounced Jive) mention anywhere that colleges accept AP tests with a score of 3 or higher and count them as credits toward college requirements. I’m pretty sure 3 credits at UMASS or even BCC is quite a bit more than $50, not to mention at a private university. That should be incentive enough for a motivated student. This looks like a welcoming gift to the teachers by another hired gun.

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
10 years ago

Dan Valenti bitches and moans about Pittsfield politics every weekday on his blog. The following is a synopsis of what Dan Valenti vents about. In Pittsfield:
* Taxes are very high with a weak tax base
* Tens of thousands of people have left Pittsfield and Berkshire County over the past several decades
* Pittsfield and Berkshire County is the #1 place in Massachusetts for job loss
* There are more people on welfare assistance than have private sector jobs
* Teen pregnancies and welfare caseloads double the statewide average
* The public school system is overpriced and underperforming
* Tens of millions of dollars were spent on North Street and the dowtown area is still dead and place to avoid especially after hours
* Crime, drugs, violence, gangs are real problems
* The Good Old Boy network runs Pittsfield politics and serves the special interests instead of the common good
* The Good Old Boys consist of multi-generation, inter-related Pittsfield families that derive from two camps: the Del Gallo political machine and the Wojtkowski political machine
* Pittsfield’s finances have many millions of dollars in unfunded liabilities or debts that today’s Pittsfield politicians are not adequately addressing
* Pittsfield has gone into state receivership before after the Doyle administration debacle and may go the way of insolvency like the Detroit bankruptcy
* The number one employer in Pittsfield is the City of Pittsfield
* Thousands of local residents work for the city government and the public school system
* Many people and entities, such as the labor unions, depend on the system and control the Pittsfield politicians
* After the public payroll patriots, non-profits, such as the Hospital, depend on taxpayer dollars and employ thousands more Pittsfield residents
* The above vested interests make Pittsfield unaffordable to the little guy (the “Kapanski” family) who is not politically connected to get a city, school, or non-profit job
* Pittsfield needs new Pittsfield politicians who will take on the special interests to regain control of city finances
* PCBs left behind by GE have polluted Pittsfield’s air, water, and ground
* Thousands upon thousands of Pittsfield residents have suffered through and died of cancer caused by Pittsfield’s toxic waste PCBs
* GE left Pittsfield behind for Wall Street

Reply to  Jonathan Melle
10 years ago

Jonathan, what’s your point? Are you agreeing with Dan here or complaining about what he has reported? It is obviously true, every line of it, and disgusting at best. How these GOB experts have allowed Pittsfield to deteiorate to near ruin for their personal gain is beyond apprehension.
From where I sit, some of our state people aren’t any better either.
Do you have any solutions to the aforementioned “problems”, or are you content to just sit and bitch?

Reply to  Jonathan Melle
10 years ago

What’s your point with these endless lists, Jonathan? Payola scheme for PSD is absurd.

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
Reply to  Rivetor
10 years ago

What is my point? I don’t believe that Dan Valenti’s ongoing complaints about the myriad of problems Pittsfield faces are making a difference. I agree with Dan Valenti that Pittsfield needs to change. But how are you going to change anything in Pittsfield without impacting thousands of local residents? If you cut spending in Pittsfield, you would cut thousands of public and non-profit jobs in Pittsfield. Thousands of local people would lose their financial security. Would they then live in the streets? Would their children not be able to go to college? Would they have to work for minimum wage for the city government to pay their high property taxes? So many local people depend on taxpayer dollars, whether they are on welfare assistance as a single teenage mother living in public housing or the C.E.O. of the Pittsfield Hospital, that cutting spending would turn Pittsfield’s already diminished and depressed local economy into a humanitarian zone. Dan Valenti wants to change Pittsfield, and he is right, but his blog isn’t doing the job.

10 years ago

We are going to pay teachers to do what they should be doing already? has this city lost their mind?we have ever increasing property taxes a ancient sewer and water system as well as a underfunded budget to properly maintain public buildings and garages..where do you think these huge outlays of money will come from? this city needs to learn from the Detroit bankruptcy.pittsfield is living in a fools paradise and we are endangering the fiscal stability of. The city pension system which in dangerously underfunded. The mayor completely disregards. This fact and leaves this huge festering danger to only grow in size and scope..The school commitee members should find another way o serve the city because their fiscal talents have lead us to this mini Detroit. how can they look people in the face and say they care about the futures of the children when the are leaving them pension obligations that will only lead to higher taxes. And reduced quality of services.

Mr. X
Mr. X
10 years ago

I thought Ruberto came from Texas to save the day?

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
Reply to  danvalenti
10 years ago

Jimmy Ruberto campaigned on his “roledex” of business connections that would bring jobs and economic growth to Pittsfield. The only thing that grew in Ruberto’s Pittsfield was taxes, teen pregnancies, and more people on welfare.

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
Reply to  Mr. X
10 years ago

When Jimmy Ruberto returned from Texas to Pittsfield over a decade ago, he and his then-wife moved into his then-mother’s home. Less than 3 years into living with his mother, he took her home from his mother and put his mother into a nursing home. No rent, no mortgage, no investment in the community. That was Jimmy Ruberto’s financial plan. Move into his mother’s home, put her in a nursing home, and live rent/mortgage free. Some would call Jimmy Ruberto’s financial plan “elder abuse”!

Reply to  Jonathan Melle
10 years ago

I’m not a Ruberto fan ,but with statements like this ,you belong on Topix.

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
Reply to  Rick
10 years ago

It is all true. I wouldn’t do that to my parents! Jimmy Ruberto was an unethical politician. How many ethics laws did he break? How many ethics violations did he receive when he was Mayor? Jimmy Ruberto has no ethics!

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
10 years ago

Who were Jimmy Ruberto’s allies in Pittsfield politics?
* Angelo Stracuzzi
* Carmen Massimiano
Both Angelo & Carmen are alleged sexual deviants who allegedly preyed on boys.
* Andrea Nuciforo II
Nuciforo swore-in Jimmy Ruberto to his 3rd term as Mayor of Pittsfield. Nuciforo went on to run a fraudulent campaign for U.S. Congress where he plagiarized his policy positions and ran a mean-spirited campaign full of lies against his opponent, Congressman Richard Neal, who beat Nuciforo by 40-points.