Article

**UPDATED FOR SUNDAY** DON’T RENAME WAHCONAH PARK, “DID YA’ HEAR THAT …” AND OTHER FOOD FOR THOUGHT

BY DAN VALENTI

!!UPDATE!!

ITEM: RENAMING WAHCONAH PARK

Wahconah Park under the lights.

There have been many reasonable suggestions offered as an alternative to renaming beloved Wahconah Park after a former politician and good guy. The best have been in ancillary naming alternatives. There are many “naming” opportunities at the park: one post suggested naming the bleachers after Paul Dowd. Another said the beer tent. There’s the hospitality area, the concessions stands, the clubhouses, the bullpens, signage in centerfield, the batting cages, and countless others. These could be done without triggering consequences for the ballpark’s National Historical designation. The city council should substitute ancillary renaming for the wrong-headed call to rename the entire facility.

ITEM: “A CHRISTMAS CAROL”

A seasonal "cant miss": The BTF's annual production of "A Christmas Carol"

Last night, THE PLANET and friends caught the opening of the fifth annual staging of  the Berkshire Theater Festival’s presentation of Charles Dickens’ immortal classic, “A Christmas Carol.” We shall be back later with our review. The play — adapted by, directed by, and starring Eric Hill — runs through Dec. 30 at the Unicorn Theater at the BTF campus in Stockbridge. We had the chance to meet many of our good friends there, including Kate Maguire, BTF artistic and producing director. Kate, as you may know, assumes a joint title in a similar role for the Colonial Theater in Pittsfield. We also had a chance to meet and greet songster James Taylor, whose wife plays Mrs. Bob Cratchit with both of his sons also in the ensemble cast. Others in the crowd included Dr. and Mrs. Jack Cassella and a 6-foot 6-inch ticket taker born to play the Ghost of Christmas Present.

ITEM: LEE SURRENDERS TO GRANT

Hey! You there! Pittsfield city council president Gerry Lee! Why haven’t you seen fit as leader of your august body to comment on the Interprint fiasco? The company got a lot in taxpayer funded grants with your help, and now, when the EPA finds them guilty of fouling the environment and operating without permits, you have nothing to say? THE PLANET has over the years tried e-mail, phone, Pony Express, carrier pigeon, smoke signals, Morse Code, Norse Code, Horse Code, Of Course Code, Coarse Code, Remorse Code, and telepathy seeking your input, yet you refuse to speak to our humbleness. Yet when the local daily calls looking for a feel-good comment on sunshine, you are there to say all is well with Vitamin D. What’s up with that, dude?

ITEM: WHEN IT SNOWS, LOOK FOR der Wunderbarrett

There once was a man named Barrett.

Jim Ruberto slipped him a carrot.

And what do you know? It started to snow.

And John said, “You boys better clear it.”

What’s in a Name? Plenty


"Wachonah Park: Enough of a name.

The move to rename Wahconah Park after former city councilor Paul Dowd means well but is not a good idea.

Dowdie raised money for the Jimmy Fund, and THE PLANET salutes him for that. He pitched in Wahconah Park as a member of the Boston Red Sox farm system, where he rose as far as Triple A and received an invitation from the parent club to spring training. Arm woes scuttled his big-league dream, and when he could no longer get batters out on a routine basis, Dowd did a fine thing: He settled down in Pittsfield and became a player in the community. Again, THE PLANET finds all of this wonderful. Dowd dealt with tragedy, losing a brother to drugs and later suffering the death of his wife. He did so as well as could be expected under the circumstances.

No prettier site than Wahconah Park at Dusk on a summer night.Wahconah Park, however, must not be tied to the attributes of any one individual. We could offer the names of countless people since the park’s operation who have made this community a better one because of who they are and what they did. Naming one of them would “un-name” all the others. It’s rather like accepting an award or writing the acknowledgment pages for a book: If you have been helped by lots of people (and who hasn’t?), trying to name some leaves others out. The best situation is defer.

Rare snapshot of Paul Dowd, Red Sox spring training, 1965 or '66.

Wahconah Park belongs to ALL OF THE PEOPLE. It should not be tied to any one of us, much less a politician. We must leave politics off of the name Wahconah Park. Naming a “Conte” this or a “Capeless” that again means well, but the process of removing long-time names of public buildings is highly political and actually tears away some of the fabric of community. That being said, we do appreciate the irony involved in naming beloved Wahconah Park after a man who fought so hard for its irrelevance in campaigning for a new stadium via an incredibly ugly mechanism known as The Civic Authority. Remember that little affair? We thought so.

THE PLANET extends our best wishes to Dowdie as he struggles with Lou Gerhig’s disease. We are sorry that he has to undergo that crucible. Likewise, we acknowledge the good intentions of former city councilors James M. Boyle and William D. Barry, who have a petition circulating asking the council to consider naming the baseball field after Paul Dowd. Good intentions, however, are not enough to water down the name of one of the community’s most beloved facilities.

Council president Gerald Lee likes the idea on the basis of Dowd raising money for the Jimmy Fund and that “he was a decent baseball player.” All well and good, but this doesn’t raise a person to the honors of the altar.

THE PLANET thinks this is the wrong Gerry Lee. Is this Jerry Lee Lewis and bride? We have a call placed to Council President Mr. Lee, and we know he ALWAYS returns calls.

Council President Lee may also like the fact that Interprint operates for nearly five years without the proper permits, fouling the precious Berkshire environment. We presume this, since — while he was pronouncing on the baseball acumen of a former councilor — he has had no time to issue a statement on behalf of the poor people of Pittsfield that he thinks fouling up the air and water is not a good thing.

THE PLANET cannot call Mr. Lee the worst council president in city history, since our knowledge base doesn’t reach that far into the dim and distant past, but we can say he’s a sorry excuse for what this city needs for leadership at the present. Presidential timber? Maybe at one time, but Lee’s time has past him on the right side.

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DID YA HEAR THAT … (unconfirmed items that have come into the THE PLANET from members of our SECRET SQUADRON. We pass along for your edification. Make of them what you will.

That a Realtor recently showed property in Pittsfield to city consultant John Barrett. Our spies say Der Wunderbarrett he looked at one of the shacks on pricey Blythewood Drive?

Free money? No such thing.

That as a condition of the grants Pittsfield received to extend the sewer line to Interprint there was a requirement about job creation? Does anyone out there remember or know the number of positions and if the company met its requirements?  One source says the company did not meet job requirements and in one case “ghost hired” a person then quickly fired them so they could count that as a job created? One has to to more that trust anyone who receives taxpayer handouts. One must verify. We trusted that Interprint had proper permits. We trusted that EV Worldwide would create 1,000 jobs. We trusted that Workshop Live would, for receiving three quarters of a million of your dollars, people, live up to its responsibilities. We trusted … You get the point. You know how that turned out.

That there’s a “saga” going on involving Big Y and the Pittsfield Plaza, now under development (and under water)? The Big Y supermarket is mulling a move to where the former Big N and cinema center used to be, on Route 20 heading out of town. A retired manager at Big Y (“Big Y Source A”) said he heard Big Y ran into a lot of unanticipated issues involving “setbacks, wetland issues, overhangs, hookups, and even the footprint” of the proposed new store. These came as “surprises.” Big Y Source A says the company was told that if it moved from its downtown location on West Street, it would face “a long, practically endless permit process. Its variances would need variances.” Another source, Biy Y Source B, provided cross-checking information that could explain this. Big Y Source B claims the city wants to keep Big Y at its present downtown location “within walking distance for a whole host of undesireables” [a reference to the critters and street people who hang out nearby]. Why? See the next That.

That one of the reasons the Big Y market wants to move to the Pittsfield Plaza is the problem of of “shrinkage” — theft in everyday language. The seedy people who infest downtown North Street shoplift as a way of living. The market is fed up. Source B also floats this intriguing possibility. There are “powers and dominions” who are trying to devalue the land at the Pittsfield Plaza. We piece this with the fact that Soldier On is an abutter to the Plaza. If Big Y doesn’t move there and the project goes kaput, the property would be ripe for seizure by the city under eminent domain law. It could then be “sold” to the abutter for $1. If true, this scenario would smell like year-old flounder.

That all is not koscher at Soldier On? We have heard repeated talk, talk we stress, about allegations that some of the veterans there are not being treated right. When it comes to abuse of veterans, something has to be done.

That the oversized “needy” population of Pittsfield, which is way out of proportion to most other Massachusetts communities, is the result of the grant money the state and feds send way. Most people don’t know. This is never “free” money. There’s a price. Tax credits, for example, might require that the city accept X number of people, welfare recipients, homeless, jobless, immigrants who can’t speak English, Sec. 8 denizens, drug addicts, prisoners, and other such. They have one thing in common: They eat up public services and contribute little to nothing in return.

—————————————————————————-

YOUR TAX DOLLARS HARD AT WORK. THE PLANET SHARES WTITH YOU THIS DISPATCH FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS:

NEW YORK – The Federal Aviation Administration is missing key information on who owns one-third of the 357,000 private and commercial aircraft in the U.S. — a gap the agency fears could be exploited by terrorists and drug traffickers.

The records are in such disarray that the FAA says it is worried that criminals could buy planes without the government’s knowledge, or use the registration numbers of other aircraft to evade new computer systems designed to track suspicious flights. It has ordered all aircraft owners to re-register their planes in an effort to clean up its files.

About 119,000 of the aircraft on the U.S. registry have “questionable registration” because of missing forms, invalid addresses, unreported sales or other paperwork problems, according to the FAA. In many cases, the FAA cannot say who owns a plane or even whether it is still flying or has been junked.

——————————————————————————————–

ALSO, IT’S NOT ENOUGH THAT THE POOR POPE HAS TO DEAL WITH THE HUGE CHILD MOLESTATION SCANDAL, NOW THIS WIRE REPORT ON THE VATICAN BANK, ALSO FROM AP:

Where's the money? And what would Jesus say?

VATICAN CITY – This is no ordinary bank: The ATMs are in Latin. Priests use a private entrance. A life-size portrait of Pope Benedict XVI hangs on the wall.

Nevertheless, the Institute for Religious Works is a bank, and it’s under harsh new scrutiny in a case involving money-laundering allegations that led police to seize euro23 million ($30 million) in Vatican assets in September. Critics say the case shows that the “Vatican Bank” has never shed its penchant for secrecy and scandal.

The Vatican calls the seizure of assets a “misunderstanding” and expresses optimism it will be quickly cleared up. But court documents show that prosecutors say the Vatican Bank deliberately flouted anti-laundering laws “with the aim of hiding the ownership, destination and origin of the capital.” The documents also reveal investigators’ suspicions that clergy may have acted as fronts for corrupt businessmen and Mafia.

The documents pinpoint two transactions that have not been reported: one in 2009 involving the use of a false name, and another in 2010 in which the Vatican Bank withdrew euro650,000 ($860 million) from an Italian bank account but ignored bank requests to disclose where the money was headed. Prosecutors alleged the Vatican ignored regulations that foreign banks must communicate to Italian financial authorities where their money has come from. All banks have declined to comment.

In another case, financial police in Sicily said in late October that they uncovered money laundering involving the use of a Vatican Bank account by a priest in Rome whose uncle was convicted of Mafia association.

THE PLANET WONDER WHEN THE VATICAN WILL CHANGE ITS NAME TO THE VATICAN’T.

WE LEAVE YOU WITH ONE LAST THOUGHT: IF ONE MAN, THE PLANET, CAN FIND STORIES LIKE THIS IS HIS SCANT RESOURCES AND SPARE TIME, WHAT IS THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA DOING WITH ALL OF THEIRS?

BYE FOR NOW.

33 Responses to “**UPDATED FOR SUNDAY** DON’T RENAME WAHCONAH PARK, “DID YA’ HEAR THAT …” AND OTHER FOOD FOR THOUGHT”

  1. SALTY
    December 11, 2010 at 12:10 pm #

    Jeez! How the [WORD REDACTED] do you do this? This website if the best thing that happened to Pittsfield since Ge provided 14000 jobs. Agree on ballpark. No renamimg.

  2. Josh
    December 11, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

    2 things:

    1) On the matter of renaming Wahconah Park, we have to remember that in 2005, the park was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Furthermore, the funding for the recent renovations for the park was achieved under the auspices of its’ historic designation. You must be very careful when renaming a historic facility in order to prevent jeopardizing this status. Albeit, it never seemed like the city paid much attention to the old girl in the past…It does seem a little ironic that this gesture would follow the Civic Authority debacle.

    With that being said, I wish the best for Paul and his family. I wouldn’t wish ALS on anyone, and one can’t question his devotion and service to the local community.

    2) Prediction on John Barrett: While I don’t have inside information on the matter, it doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to figure out how this situation is going to pan out. No matter how many times he and the Mayor have said he is not going to be a candidate for the new Public Services job, he is going to get the job. The rationale that he will give is that “I had no intention of coming back, I wanted to retire, but Ruberto begged me to come back, and I just couldn’t refuse the opportunity to help finish what I started.

    Isn’t it a coincidence how they are trying to rush it through before the beginning of the year, when Barrett’s contract is slated to run out? Normally with this type of matter, it could wait until the beginning of the new fiscal year on July 1st. Makes you wonder what the rush is for…

    With that being said, I’m not necessarily opposed to restructuring the organization. For many years, too few people have been been delegated mountainous tasks. My concern is that we will hire the wrong people with not enough experience.

    • danvalenti
      December 11, 2010 at 8:35 pm #

      JOSH
      Thanks for another great response. You are correct. Renaming a National Historical site is not a casual business and there are serious consequences to consider. Another poster has the process spelled out. As for the reorganization of public services, I am all for it. The consolidations outlined by Mr. Barrett make sense.

  3. Gung Ho for Ruberto
    December 11, 2010 at 2:28 pm #

    Sensationalistic and irresponsible, and not journalism. Why withhold the honor of renaming the park after Paul Dowd, a personal friend and a great man? Valenti’s logic isn’t convincing. The “law student” Josh above needs to go back to school. He can call me for a job when he graduates. Mr. Valenti obviously has classic Napoleonic syndrome, undersized man who acts a foot taller than he is. He needs help.

  4. No Reply
    December 11, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

    Agree with Josh. Arbitrary renaming of the ballpark: you just can’t do that for sites under National Historic Protection. I’ve had experience in this area. Plus, I agree with the case as Dan has outlined. Don’t mess with the name.

    • Josh
      December 11, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

      I think naming an already unnamed park might be prudent. Maybe the North Little League field? I don’t believe it’s named after anybody, and it would be a nice touch with the Rotary Boundless Playground.

      • Jim Gleason
        December 13, 2010 at 6:04 am #

        My Dad, Don Gleason, has done more for kids in Pittsfield and Berkshire County than ANYBODY, living or dead, and he is a past longtime President of the North LL. Between the CYC and being President of the North for many years and District Administrator for LLDistrict 1 for 25 years or more NOBODY deserves a park, especially the North field, to be named after him more than him. Because Squiggy doesn’t like him he is never mentioned for any honors such as this. He would be a perfect fit for the vacant Park Commission post as well.

        • danvalenti
          December 13, 2010 at 8:23 am #

          You dad, Don, did all that and more. If anyone deserves a park or part of a park named after him or her, Don would get my vote. Give him my best.

  5. Joe Pinhead
    December 11, 2010 at 3:04 pm #

    I concur with Josh and Dan, The young man has some great points. I see they are in fact counter to Gung’s thoughts Gungs seem to be emotional. Understandable but who makes the best choices based purly on emotion.
    A registered site can be renamed but its not as easy as getting new signage.

    http://www.nps.gov/history/NR/publications/bulletins/nrb16a/nrb16a_VI.htm

    • danvalenti
      December 11, 2010 at 8:36 pm #

      JOE
      Gungs baffles me as well. You make decisions and set policy for action based on analysis, facts, and information.

  6. Wahconah Park Lover
    December 11, 2010 at 3:24 pm #

    Great picture of Dowdie. Where did you get it? CAn’t wait for Opening Day and the Colonials in Year 2. Bigger and better.

    • danvalenti
      December 11, 2010 at 8:39 pm #

      WPL
      I found this picture for sale on e-bay. It’s hard to see his face. I think it looks more like Earl Wilson, but the seller swears it’s Paul. Last week, there was what looked like an official Boston Red Sox press portrait of Paul for sale on e-bay. This was a posed, 8×10 official photo. The picture you see here is a casual, 3 1/2 x 5 snapshot, probably taken by a fan in either Scottsdale, Ariz. (if 1965) or Winter Haven, Fla. (if 1966). I think it’s 1966.

  7. Swami
    December 11, 2010 at 6:04 pm #

    The name needs to stay, what we need is to stop naming things for people.

  8. Joe Pinhead
    December 11, 2010 at 7:04 pm #

    Mr Gung, Could you please make a thoughtful, convincing argument for renaming the park? In the Event it is renamed we would need to put more on the Plaque rhan he was a close personal friend to Gung Ho, Would your close personal friend want to think that the park is named in his honor based on a well thought out proven case and steeped in his accomplishments? or do you think he would find solace in the fact that Gung Ho for Ruberto shouted down and strong armed anyone who merely presented a differing viewpoint?

  9. Life is But a ...What?
    December 11, 2010 at 8:31 pm #

    Don’t know who Gung is but I know I don’t like his or her kind of personal attack. Gung didn’t address any of the rationale made on this site regarding the possible renaming of the ballpark. Nor did this person put an argument out there. Just “he’s a good guy” and a “:good friend.” Then he launches an irrational personal attack on Mr. Valenti. Hes (Gung) the one who needs help. Let me add: Don’t rename Wahconah Park for anybody. Leave it alone.

    • danvalenti
      December 11, 2010 at 8:39 pm #

      Agree. Thanks for your comment.

  10. rick
    December 12, 2010 at 3:40 am #

    i think by naming a bleacher section for dowdie would solve this issue. and in the future as with the school their looking to build,name a wing,a gym etc…after people ,dont change the current name….. or how about leaving everything the way it is,and have people make donations in their name for that venue.and put up a plaque with their name on it.

  11. Ron Kitterman
    December 12, 2010 at 6:00 am #

    A little jealousy here Dan it’s not like they wanted to name a planet after him. I do think the city council takes this responsibility lightly ,though. I don’t know if it will stand the test of time. A no brainer to predict how this council will approve this though, its a feel good petition.

  12. No Reply
    December 12, 2010 at 9:51 am #

    “Feel good” petition. The phrase says it all. Another reason NOT TO change the name of the ballpark. Like maybe naming the beer tent after him or somehting.

  13. A Vet
    December 12, 2010 at 10:33 am #

    am interested in what you write about soldier on. i have a buddy there and hes says the leadrship there needs investigating. something about missing funds and the like. don’t know but i think you said it anything that aarips off a vet is sad sad. i served in vietnam. know what it’s like to have my “ass in the grass and hate it when i people abuse us please help

  14. VALENTI PSY
    December 12, 2010 at 4:30 pm #

    Dan, you’re really off the deep end with this. We want you to be well and get the care you need.

  15. Captain P
    December 12, 2010 at 5:29 pm #

    Re: Ballpark honor sought
    The 12/11/2010 Berkshire Eagle article reads as follows: James M. Boyle and William D. Barry have started a petition asking the council to consider naming the baseball FIELD after Paul Dowd, NOT the park itself. Regardless, whatever element of the park they want to rename should not be done for many of the reasons already stated. In 1882 George Burbank created and named it Wahconah Park, therefore we should forever respect Mr. Burbank’s wish to have it called Wahconah Park. If anyone took the time to research George Burbank’s accomplishments, generosity and contributions to Pittsfield they would discover he too would be well deserving candidate of the suggested name change, but I doubt the humble man would have accepted the honor. I have seen many things renamed in Pittsfield over the years and people still refer to them by the original names. “Feel good” renaming of streets, buildings and parks is disrespectful to the intentions of the people and the namesake families that gave them the original names. Since Mr. Dowd was so involved with the Jimmy Fund charity why not rename that charity the “Paul Dowd Jimmy Fund?” Councilor, Paul Dowd, stood steadfast in the effort to mothball Wahconah Park during the 2001 Civic Authority campaign. I find it most ironic that a former colleague of city councilor Dowd, (city councilor, William D. Barry) who just happened to be the original petitioner to create the Civic Authority and build a new stadium, is now petitioning to place Mr. Dowd’s name in the historic park they so eagerly fought to destroy.

    Captain P

    • danvalenti
      December 12, 2010 at 9:47 pm #

      CAPTAIN
      You are correct. Boyle, Barry, and Dowd were part of the crew that tried to hijack city government through the ugly Civic Authority. Citizens resisted that and won, beating back the machine.

  16. HAIL VALENTI
    December 12, 2010 at 9:42 pm #

    The only deep end Dan swims here is the one that idiots like valenti psy pretend isn’t there. they stay in the kiddie’s end with the administration lackeys and the Barfshire Eagle. Dan swims with the sharks. And wins.

  17. Vet
    December 13, 2010 at 1:36 am #

    I have heard that their not for profit status isn’t “right” and that in shifting money around from one account to another money goes missing. Also that some of the funds are used for personal expenses of some of the leadership under the guise of business expenses,, that to get jobs you have to kick back, a lot of guys come up short on hours worked, that some of the escrow accounts are mishandled and money is missing and that there are fees taken for the mortages that go directly to a slush fund.

  18. Dean
    December 13, 2010 at 2:02 pm #

    And you prove my point yet again this is a Blog, preach to your hearts content but don’t expect “comment” from anyone. you are not a journalist Dan, youre a blogger.

    • danvalenti
      December 13, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

      DEAN, listen: I agree. When I write here, I am a blogger. Bloggers can be journalists. Not all are, but this one is.

  19. Dean
    December 13, 2010 at 4:36 pm #

    Dan, Your blogs are 95% opinion based, and im not saying that most news shows aren’t as well, but lets be serious. Real journalism should not be subject to opinion, only facts. . You often include accusations of corruption, and non-fact based news within your blogs. So when you clamor about not being treated as a journalist from local politicians and businessmen/women can you blame them? the thought of their words being reproduced surrounded by slanderous opinions is not something they want. As a journalist your duty is to report the facts and leave the opinions to the readers. As a blogger, the world is your playground. Please do not confuse the two as it is an insult to those few credible journalists that still exist.

  20. HAIL VALENTI
    December 13, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

    Jeez, Dean, Valenti is not just a journalist whether hes in cyberspace, in print or on the air but hes the best one in Berkshire County. He beat the eagle three times in the space of 10 days (market closing, EPa fine interprint, and school department leak into the housatonic river. Admit it: you are letting your emotions cloud your judgement. valenti has forgotten more about journalsm than you will ever know, deans beans.

  21. M Wood
    December 14, 2010 at 5:30 am #

    Dean, please help me understand a little bit better Wikileaks, news? opinion? fact? Im just trying to establish a point of reference.

  22. Dean
    December 14, 2010 at 10:25 am #

    My opinion? Wikileaks is fact, but I do not believe that 90% of it is fact that should be released to the public. Of course this is a whole different discussion, most of it has only been made “news” because our culture is so attracted to gossip. And thats what most of wikileaks is, high profile gossip.

  23. James Boyle
    February 28, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    I think it was irresposible to state that we were trying to rename Wahconah Park in the honor of Paul M. Dowd. If you had checked you would have seen that we are only supporting naming the playing field at Wahconah Park in his honor for his contribbutions not on the field but ion the field of life. IE rainsing funds for the jimmy Fund

    • danvalenti
      February 28, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

      So it is “Paul Dowd Field at Wahconah Park”? (or some variation)? Same thing. You are changing the name of the facility, and that will (a) jeopardize federal historic status, (b) imperil matching federal funds, (c) set another bad precedent, and (d) look silly, because the case has not been made. Paul is in for this honor because he’s ill and he was one of Da Boyz. That’s the unvarnished truth. I pray for his health and strength, but the fact that someone is ill is not reason to name stuff after him. That’s emotionalism in the worst “Mother McCree” maudlin sense