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THE PLANET IS NOT FOR SALE, plus, BORING BROADSHEET EATS DUST ON DPW LAND DEAL, & NEW INFO on LAND DEAL YOU WON’T FIND ANYWHERE ELSE

BY DAN VALENTI

THE PLANET: Unbought. Unbossed.

How these things start is often a source of amusement and always one of conjecture, but it has gotten around that Media News Group has inquired into the purchase of this website. The Planet is not for sale, though everything has its price. We can categorically state that no one from the Berkshire Eagle has approached the owners of The Planet for purposes of discussing purchase of this site.

The Planet has grown far beyond our projections of where we thought we’d be at this point, on Jan. 31, a pleasant development that brings with it the attendant responsibilities of managing growth. This is a problem that all start-ups anticipate and enjoy.

The Planet remains independent from all editorial pressure. It has as its only aim the principles articulated a few posts ago. A “free press” is crucial for the working of government in the name of We The People. There is no free press operating in and serving the city of Pittsfield currently, and there is only one media outlet that remains completely free from all political and economic pressure: This One. We intend to remain that way.

We know our exact numbers (hits per day, unique hits per day, hourly breakdowns, etc.) and will only share them internally. If the time comes that The Plant goes commercial, we will share numbers with advertisers. Until then, what matters is that our menu of news, commentary, features, and scuttlebutt has been found appealing to many, more than we thought at this point. Our aim is continued growth and expanded coverage.

The Sign Says it All

You, the reader, are a vital part of our plans. We are going to give you coverage you want. Please pass the word that there’s only one site of fearless journalism, only one site that’s slinging stones at Goliath, one site that has We The People always at the front: The Planet.

Send your friends here. One, tell two. Two, tell four. Four, tell eight. Let’s get a revolution going. The pod is rattling. The living seed is about to emerge from the cocoon.

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Boring Broadsheet Eating More Dust

Zoo Story: 1644, both white elephant and turkey

Speaking of the Boring Broadsheet, they finally ate our dust regarding, though they never caught up to, the story of 1644 East Street and the failed land deal that would have saddled taxpayers with a leaky building on PCB-laced soil next to wetlands all for a ruinous price.

The Boring Broadsheet presented a page 1 above the fold story with Mayor Jimmy Ruberto on the land grab that he has scuttled … for now. The mayor told the BB’s Dick Lindsey that the project has “taken on a life of its own” and that emotions need to cool off before the deal is revisited.  Lindsey didn’t have a peep in his story about PBCs or about the shadowy figure behind “1644 East St. LLC,” the realty trust that was looking to make the deal. We hear he was ordered to stay away from that aspect of the story. Lindsey also didn’t think to ask Ruberto what he knew of Patrick J., Sheehan, the front man for the trust.

DPW: At what price?

Reading in between the lines of the story, it’s clear that this is the Boring Broadsheet’s attempt to help the mayor revive the deal, hence, the remark about waiting until the heat dies down before trying again. The “cat is out of the bag” on this one, though, as chief administration Stooge Jonathan Lothrop admitted. Lothrop used to be Ward 5 representative, but he stopped sticking up for his constituents when he flipped on the airport issue. He traded that in for a seat at the banquet table. No more crumbs and morsels for Mr. Sellout.

PLANET TO RUBERTO: Walk away from this one.

J-Lo told Lindsey the council gave the mayor no direction and did nothing. Translation: “I was put in charge of fixing this deal with my colleagues, and it didn’t happen.” The council gave the mayor plenty of direction: It told him the deal was dead. The council did plenty: It saved Pittsfield residents a $4 million+ bill for a polluted piece of property that no one in the free market wants to touch, let alone at a ruinous price and an artificial value.

More on Mysterious Mr. Sheehan

The Planet’s investigators found a couple more tidbits on the mysterious “Patrick J. Sheehan.” At Secretary of State William Galvin’s website, you’ll find an address on line 7 of this link:

http://corp.sec.state.ma.us/corp/corpsearch/get_pdf.asp?pdftype=.pdf

It lists the address of Sheehan’s lawyers: 69 East Housatonic St.

Does that sound familiar?

That was the address of “Concerned Democrats of Berkshire County” on the letterhead that the Gang of 23 signatories used to send a muscle-down letter to congressional candidate Andrea Nuciforo requesting that he take himself out of contention for the District 1 House seat. The bilocation of 69 West Housatonic St. is either a remarkable coincidence or its something else.

Is It Fishing Season? Don’t Know, but Something’s Fishy.

Piece that together with the fact that in September 17, 2009, Sheehan contributed 2,400 to “Citizens for Nuciforo” as “Sheehann Health Group/Principal.” Sheehan also wrote a $250 check for Nuciforo sometime in the reporting period between May 1-31, 2008. This time he’s listed as “Healthcare Administrator, Cranveville Place.”

Taken together and on the surface, the two pieces of information — the 69 W. Housatonic address and the two contributions to Nuciforo — don’t add up. Then again, not much in the attempted DPW land purchase does. Sheehan has also contributed to Lynch for Congress.

Sheehan owns a slew of corporations in Massachusetts and has them registered under both “Patrick Sheehan” and “Patrick J. Sheehan.” Each uses one of two Dalton, Mass., addresses: 45 Main St. or 355 Washington Mountain Road. Only 1644 East St. LLC is connceted to the lawyers at 69 W. Housatonic St. The rest employ Boston or New York firms. One can only wonder why.

Questions: No More, No Less

Sheehan also has his fingers in “Hospice Services of Western Massachusetts LLC” (45 Main St., Dalton, address) and “Hospice Services of Massachusetts” (365 Washington Mountain Road, Dalton, address), plus a listing as “Director, Berkshire County ARC Inc.” (365 Washington Mountain Road).

This is public information. This is also neutral information. It doesn’t mean good or bad, up or down, in or out. To be sure, the labyrinth of corporate LLCs associated with Mr. Sheehan is odd bordering bizarre. An interesting question is why does only one of these LLCs, the 1644 East Street LLC involved in the DPW attempted land sale, have lawyers with local ties, with Sherwood Guernsey no less, the chief cosigner on the Gang of 23 letter to Nuciforo? Questions, no more, no less.

NICHOLS: Once more, he fought for The Little Guy

Which enterprising sort on the Boring Broadsheet tried to answer them? None, because they didn’t even want to look at the questions, as Lindsey’s sycophantic interview with Ruberto illustrates today. Did Lindsay talk to Joe Nichols, who was the first to point out PCB problem at the 1644 East St. site? Did he try to talk to citizens about their feelings over the land sale? Did he attempt to locate Sheehan? I didn’t think so.

What’s Worse than a Kissing-Up Interview? A Inaccurate Kissing-Up Interview

Lindsay, meanwhile, for mysterious reasons continues to inflate the square footage of the leaky building at 1644 East St. by 2,400 — He eats the city’s 18,000 sq. ft. figure right out of their hand. The Planet didn’t. We checked the deed, which lists 15,600 sq. ft.

We cut Lindsay some slack: He was a long-time radio news guy, used to writing one-minute stories and fluffing them up poof poof. Lindsay’s not a real “news guy” in the muck-racking tradition of Pulitzer-Hearst independent journalism, which is likely why the Boring Broadsheet hired him and put him on the City Hall beat, where the main requirement is a writer who sees, hears, and writes no evil of the Sacred Cows.

YON: Her finest hour yet as a councilor.

Which councilors attempted to find answers to the strangeness surrounding the 1644 East St. land deal? What else didn’t councilors know before almost (thankfully, we can say, “almost”) caving in and rubber stamping a $4 million turkey. Nichols, Melissa Mazzeo, and Christine Yon deserve credit for looking deeper than the subsommitte’s 4-1 recommendation to approved the deal.

Yon cast the lone vote against the purchase in subcommittee. It is her signature moment thus far as Ward 1 councilor.

Yes, this DPW land deal is both a white elephant and a turkey. If the deal remains alive much longer, it will resemble Noah’s Arc.

Councilor Mike Ward said in the BB story today that maybe the building makes sense at a different price, leased. Maybe, he says, which is, of course, a clever way of saying “maybe not.” If Sheehan wants to sell the city the property for $1 AND assume all liabilities from pollution, The Planet will be the first to recommend the purchase.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of other options for the DPW garage. We’ll b back tomorrow for that.

Love to all.

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17 Responses to “THE PLANET IS NOT FOR SALE, plus, BORING BROADSHEET EATS DUST ON DPW LAND DEAL, & NEW INFO on LAND DEAL YOU WON’T FIND ANYWHERE ELSE”

  1. arpaint
    January 31, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

    I see no good reason why a steel metal bulding can’t be put on the properity that the city all ready has at the present site of the DPW and have it buld to what we need. There is a lot of land there.Jonathan acted like it was a personal thing to him when the East St deal was stoped I think at this point he has stop representing the people in ward 5.

    • dan valenti
      January 31, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

      Tomorrow, we shall identify a couple three much better alternatives to the phony 1644 Land Deal.

  2. Dean
    January 31, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    You gain hits but not credibility when you make unsubstantiated accusations Dan. So to say you are not selling out just because you have no advertisers seems preposterous to me. You move beyond stretching to the point of fracture when you attempt to connect a property owners lawyer with what may or may not be a scandal. You can not have a hole unless you dig Dan, and your rush to expose the most innocent of connections only furthers to smudge your reputation as a journalist. Your comments for Councilor Lothrop are born out of personal displeasure and by no means accurate in their assumptions of corruption. For someone who hold American ideals so closely I would expect you to prove before you accuse. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? Your vexation is unwarranted with this post my friend.

    • dan valenti
      January 31, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

      Thank you, my friend, for your thoughts.

  3. Jim Gleason
    January 31, 2011 at 3:33 pm #

    Once again Joe and Melissa save the taxpayer money. They tried on the airport but were defeated. They tried on the blight ordinances and were defeated again. At last some more on the council followed their lead and represented the ones they were elected to serve and not the mayor and his cronies. Good job to those who sent this back to the mayor. To those who voted against it, good riddance in November.

  4. Tom Verizer
    January 31, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

    Yes, as a relative newcomer to Pittsfield, I am amazed at the politics and appalled at the local media, led by the local daily. I heard about this website from a friend, and, as someone who has been around the US, can say that it ROCKS!!!!! I don’t know valenti, but I’m imploring him: Keep going.

    • dan valenti
      January 31, 2011 at 6:09 pm #

      TOM
      Yes, to outsiders, it seems incredible what goes on here. Welcome aboard The Planet.

  5. SS
    January 31, 2011 at 6:25 pm #

    Waht you say about the eagles story about the land deal is right on. geesh, what a bunch of fluff.loved the comment about the radio guy whos pretending to be a newspaper reporter Hes embarrassing

  6. Dean
    January 31, 2011 at 9:17 pm #

    on a less serious note Jim loves Joe and Melissa because they are the only ones ignorant enough to listen to his babble.

    • Tim
      February 1, 2011 at 7:48 am #

      How true

  7. GMHeller
    February 1, 2011 at 1:51 am #

    Mr. Valenti,
    Note just how quickly The Berkshire Eagle has cycled-out from its headlines home page the article by Dick Lindsay about the DPW garage.
    Normally articles on the headlines page take about 3 days or so to cycle out.
    This one was on the home page less than 24 hours.

    In case The Eagle’s editors decide to delete it entirely, here it is in its entirety:

    City garage plan on blocks
    By Dick Lindsay, Berkshire Eagle Staff,
    Updated: 01/31/2011 11:35:08 AM EST

    Monday January 31, 2011
    PITTSFIELD — Mayor James M. Ruberto has temporarily shelved his plan for a new city highway garage following the City Council’s advice to re-evaluate the project.

    Ruberto had proposed Pittsfield spend $875,000 to buy property at 1644 East St., which is owned by a realty trust. Since the pending purchase-and-sale agreement expired Dec. 31, the council last week requested the mayor negotiate a lower price or look at leasing the site or some other location.

    By a vote of 8-3, Councilors Jonathan N. Lothrop, John M. Krol Jr. and Peter T. White opposed, the majority in essence scrapped Ruberto’s proposal that had languished before the council for two months.

    In addition, the council wanted the mayor to explore other ideas for a new highway garage.

    However, Ruberto is tabling the project until further notice.

    “I want to take pause as there’s been too much emotion in conversation among the councilors and City Hall staff regarding this project,” Ruberto said. “I’m not advancing anything until we re-define the purpose of the building and a cost we can all agree upon.”

    The money to buy the East Street site was to come from a $1.5 million appropriation authorized in June 2008. The remaining funds, subject to City Council approval, would have paid to initially upgrade the structure and prepare the 11-acre site to handle the storage of city highway vehicles and potential future uses by public works officials.

    The 18,000-square-foot metal and masonry block building erected in 1989 was targeted to replace some functions of the century-old, 13,000-square-foot brick building the city’s highway department occupies across from Clapp Park on West Housatonic Street. The second floor of the current facility was condemned two years ago, limiting storage of heavy machinery to the ground floor.
    The council appears divided on whether the mayor’s East Street plan is dead or just on life support.

    “[The council] gave the mayor no direction whatsoever,” said Lothrop. “The true message was we don’t care.”

    Nevertheless he added, “The need to do something is there as the old garage is done.”

    Ward 4 Councilor Michael L. Ward believes the East Street location still has “potential, if the price is right. Ward said leasing the 11-acre parcel is a viable option worth exploring, as the owner, not the city, would be responsible for any potential on-site contamination.

    “[Leasing] might be a good idea for the short term before we decide if we’re buying an environmental money pit,” said Ward.

    In early January, the council’s public works subcommittee recommended buying the East Street property provided the city has the building thoroughly inspected for deficiencies and environmental testing done to determine what — if any — contamination exists on the property.

    City officials had planned such scrutiny from the beginning, but Ruberto said that message got lost in discussion over possible future uses of the site not yet on the drawing board.

    Public Works and Utilities Commissioner Bruce I. Collingwood had said an estimated $3.3 million will be needed eventually to expand use of the building and erect a secondary structure to house a newly created public services department consisting of highway, water, sewer and parks maintenance employees and administrative staff.

    “I admit we created confusion in the way we presented the project,” Ruberto said. “Unfortunately, the project had taken on a life of its own.”

    To reach Dick Lindsay:
    rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
    or (413) 496-6233.

  8. DJ
    February 1, 2011 at 3:17 am #

    Now for the 1664 dollar question, what is the link between solider on and this guy?

    • James Beasely
      February 1, 2011 at 3:36 am #

      None. You just have a stiffy for Soldier On and hope that Valenti will go snooping (likely because you are either too lazy or that you have no real information).

  9. Still wondering
    February 1, 2011 at 7:57 am #

    There is plenty to uncover at Soldier On. You’ll see, if it is ever audited.

  10. San Simeon
    February 1, 2011 at 9:40 am #

    @Heller Thanks for that alert pickup on how fast the Eagle pulled the Lindsey story on the DPW purchase. This action confirms point made earlier on this sight about the local daily’s coverage. It’s been what you might call “enabling” coverage, if you’ll recall the earlier stories in the Eagle on why the purchase would be so great, “ideal,” solve all the problems at DPW garage, etc. Then people and councilors got educated, and I must credit the eight for being open. It was great to see. Then when the deal went south the Eagle sends its “man” over to city hall to quote the mayor saying “its taken on a life of its own” and “things have to cool down” before it can be taken up again. I read this as a shot fired against Mr. Valenti stirring things up, what else can “taking on a life of its own” mean? And “things have to cool down” as a shot against the council for opposing what looked like a done deal.

    • GMHeller
      February 1, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

      There is now a parallel thread on Topix on this subject:
      http://www.topix.net/forum/city/pittsfield-ma/TAD2L70P8H4LO3K1V
      .
      A poster named Dave made the following salient observation: “If the William Stanley Business Park was truly a safe place to locate a company, then the Mayor should consider locating the City Garage there. What is tragic is that GE’s toxic legacy will continue to haunt this area forever.”

      Dave brings up an excellent point.
      If the DPW garage were located in the Stanley Business Park, Pittsfield could have all the land DPW would ever need for literally $1 per year.
      And the land would already be remediated for PCB-contamination, courtesy of General Electric Company shareowners.
      It would be a win-win for everyone.
      Why didn’t the brilliant Mayor James Ruberto or the Einsteins on the City Council think of this?
      Maybe ‘Dave’ should run for Mayor!

  11. Still wondering
    February 1, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    The City has visions of truck-loads of tax money coming from Stanley Park. Simple.