Article

THE PLANET’S COVERAGE SAVES PITTSFIELD TAXPAYERS $4MM, plus, the STATE OF THE UNION & MORE PROBATION NEWS

BY DAN VALENTI

People of Pittsfield, rejoice! The Planet just saved you $4 million.

Sweeter than that is Jonathan Lothrop crediting The Planet for the save. The fattened Ward 5 councilor told the public last night that he thought they had the deal sewn up, but the cat got out of the bag. He means The Planet’s relentless job of educating the public on the sordid details of what would have been a ruinous deal for taxpayers.

It would have cost taxpayers $4 million to purchase and retrofit the polluted property that a realty trust thought it had palmed off on the city for a new DPW headquarters. For the past two days, we have educated citizens, who pressured their representatives, about this would-be folly. Last night, the city council came up big for constituents by defeating the mayor’s proposal to spend $875,000 on 11 acres and a building at 1644 East St.

DPW chief Bruce Collingwood has admitted PCBs on the site. The acreage borders a protected wetland, restricting development. In addition, the city wanted to spend a preposterous 45% over the price the owner paid for it in 2007. Guess Ruberto and Company didn’t hear it was a down market.

The council shot down the proposal 8-3. It was this council’s greatest moment. On the side of right and justice were Christine Yon, Paul Capitanio, Mike Ward, Joe Nichols, Gerry Lee, Melissa Mazzeo, Kevin Sherman, and Peter Marchetti. Voting in favor of an unholy deal were Lothrop, John Krol, and Peter White.

Ward was quick to see the light, based on his usual and thorough job of doing his homework. That came through during the council meeting. As for Ruberto’s three stooges, they would rather risk The Planet’s ire than go against the mayor’s orders. Lothrop was a given to be in favor of this stinker deal, since it appeared to be laced with insider politics. Krol did his usual job of being Ruberto’s “Mini Me” on the council. White still hasn’t found the spine for enough independence. The Planet isn’t giving up on him, though, and feels that will come.

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The State of the Union Sucks

Would you pay five bucks for a President, any President, to start the State of the Union speech.

President Obama delivered the annual pabulum required of his office this time of year as good as it can be done, given the notorious gobs of vanilla frosting required to bake a cake this non-caloric. He’s an orator, all the more reason for abandoning the stupid Teleprompter.

State of the Union addresses are long on generalities, stout with bromides, thin with specifics, and short on substance. This isn’t Obama’s fault. The speech requires part pep talk, part salesmanship. Facing a divided House, Obama blew reconciliatory bubbles from the soap bottle of “bipartisanship.” The State of the Union, thus, always becomes an ink-blot test for citizens: Those who love Obama reviewed the speech as if he had squared the circle and found the last digit if Pi. The Obama haters made him sound like Ted Bundy.

And what are we to make of the thoroughly clueless airhead known as a Michelle Bachmann? Her “rebuttal” remarks revealed a petri-dish depth of intellect and a supreme ignorance of history. Where’s that dude Loughner when you really need him?

Obama whiffed on his spending cuts. He called for a freeze on non-military discretionary spending. Getting rid of earmarks is all well and good, but we won’t make a dent in the deficit until we pull completely out of Afghanistan and severely curtail Defense Department spending. Naturally, he called for an increase in education spending, the majority of which will end up not in the classroom but to fund outlandish public union deals.

Obama wants to “out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build” the rest of the world. Sorry, though, it’s not 1889, and Joseph Pulitzer isn’t running The World. It’s 2011, and cyberspace has taken care of the future.

We have seen the enemy. It be us.

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Just because it isn’t making news around here, which means the Boring Broadsheet won’t go near it, it doesn’t mean that the heads have stopped rolling in the wake of the State Probation Department scandal.

First, commissioner John O’Brien resigned. Now his first deputy commish, Elizabeth Tavares, has quit. In an amazing coincidence, Tavares stepped down a day before her disciplinary hearing, in which she would have been fired. In quitting, the department lost a demographic “three-fer” — a women, Latina, and swarthy-skinned. Talk about a PR disaster.

Tavares was the subject of many lines of attorney Paul Ware’s probe into the “pay for play” department. In November, the department suspended Tavares … with pay, natch. After cooperating with Ware, Tavares suddenly clammed up. Wonder why? She followed the example of O’Brien, former House speaker Tom Finneran, and state rep. Tom Perlotti of Ludlow in refusing to testify. My father has a great expression for such stalwarts: “God damned phoney bastards.”

Will the current probes (IG and AG) filter down to the local department, led by Clifford Nilan? A songbird is singing, but for once, we ain’t swinging. All in due time, me lads, all in due time. The Planet can say from a local employee of the Probation Department that the nouns and verbs “are on pins and needles” over there.

The sad part of this is that Probabation, once an excellent department, has sunken to this mucky level. The Planet personally knows many fine people in probation. Their bosses have dumped all over them. There are interviews coming, under oath,. Those who lie or present perjury will regret it. Those who tell the truth will be given a break.

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25 Responses to “THE PLANET’S COVERAGE SAVES PITTSFIELD TAXPAYERS $4MM, plus, the STATE OF THE UNION & MORE PROBATION NEWS”

  1. OLD ONE
    January 26, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

    The pen is mightier than the garage (scam) and the big wind from the north. THANKS, Dan.

  2. San Simeon
    January 26, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

    Watched the council meeting on PCTV. You could tell the way Lothrop was acting and the way the issue was handled that the planet had opened the eyes of the vast majority. Lothrop, Krol, and White stubbornly hung on to a disastrous position. This is the type of incident I tend to remember. I live in Ward 6 BTW.

  3. just saying
    January 26, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

    First– the loughner comment was uncalled for, sick, nasty and really lowered you Dan. I expect better of anyone. Pathetic even.
    Second– the people who voted for this DPW bullshit; I know White have for a long time. He is a decent guy, that being said he has never had a backbone about much. No surprise he follows squiggy at all times.
    Third– obama is a little boy with a mans title. No surprise here either.

  4. Rick Wide
    January 26, 2011 at 9:12 pm #

    valenti scored a big one. it was his reporting and his reporting only that change waht was a sure vote in favor of this white elephant to a surprise vote for common sense. Dan has his fans and he has his detratctors but theres no dispute that his words made al lthe difference here.

    • danvalenti
      January 27, 2011 at 8:22 am #

      @RICK
      Thank you. We did make a difference.

  5. rick
    January 27, 2011 at 4:08 am #

    thanks to a couple of people on the council who made sure they didnt rush the east st,site thru… we didnt get stuck with this problem of pcbs… what was robertos and collingwoods hurry? who was going to profit on this. nichols and mazzeo have been trying to get these people to think and investigate….see what happens when people are looking out for the taxpayer. 9 more like them and i think we have a team. way to go nick and maz…roberto u got to go a.s.a.p… how many buisnesses have u been in that bankrupt. keep both eyes on that guy till he leaves.hes more than a lame duck. hes plucked .

  6. GMHeller
    January 27, 2011 at 4:21 am #

    Mr. Valenti,
    Likely you saved Pittsfield’s taxpayers a helluva lot more than just $4 million on the referenced PCB-contaminated East Street property.
    See my comment posted to your blog entry of January 25th.
    SEE:
    http://planetvalenti.com/2011/01/proposed-site-for-dpw-is-laced-with-problems-pcbs-so-why-is-city-hot-to-trot-on-this-turkey-could-it-be-politics-plus-election-ins-and-outs/

  7. GMHeller
    January 27, 2011 at 4:39 am #

    Mr. Valenti, you write:
    “And what are we to make of the thoroughly clueless airhead known as a Michelle Bachmann? Her “rebuttal” remarks revealed a petri-dish depth of intellect and a supreme ignorance of history. Where’s that dude Loughner when you really need him?”

    Are you saying that U.S. Representative Michelle Bachmann should be assassinated just because you don’t happen to agree with the Conservative Republican views she expresses in the wake of the mindless SOTU pep talk given by Liberal Democrat Barack Obama?
    I thought Liberal Democrats like yourself were encouraging civil discourse and kumbaya in the wake of the killing of a federal judge (and a bunch of others) and the attempted assassination and critical wounding of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords?

    • danvalenti
      January 27, 2011 at 8:28 am #

      The line, obviously, is figurative and rhetorical. My problem with Ms. Bachmann is that she’s obviously in way over her head and does not possess the intellectual or moral skills to articulate her positions. I don’t agree with ANY ideological views. I take positions based on reason, logic, and facts, not politics. That’s why I bash the scam that is Public Education in America. Not exactly a liberal POV. I also think we should immediately and completely pull out of Afghanistan. “Liberal” or “conservative”? I don’t know. It disagrees with Obama’s position.

      • GMHeller
        January 27, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

        Mr. Valenti, you claim, “The line, obviously, is figurative and rhetorical.”
        Yet, you know damn well that had any Conservative Republican politician anywhere in the country made this same statement in any venue, you would now be asking for that individual’s immediate firing or resignation as well as their complete banishment from politics.
        Further, you would be accusing that person of fomenting the type of violence that Liberals elsewhere are alleging has been behind Jared Loughner’s shooting spree in Tucson.
        At minimum, you owe your readers an apology and a retraction.

        • danvalenti
          January 27, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

          @GMH
          You’re wrong, I would not be making any such claim, nor would I seek anyone’s resignation because of words. We laugh at your request for an apology and retraction as more ideological ash. We stand by every word of it.

          • GMHeller
            January 28, 2011 at 10:39 am #

            Stand by every word of what?
            You call Republican Member of Congress Michele Bachmann a “thoroughly clueless airhead” with “a petri-dish depth of intellect and a supreme ignorance of history”, and then you pointedly ask where is Arizona assassin Jared Loughner “when you really need him?”
            Strong words indeed.
            There’s no other way to interpret your statement than you wish to see Ms. Bachmann assassinated.
            In the context of the recent horrific public events in Tucson including the murder of a federal district court judge and attempted assassination of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, you make a less-than-veiled threat upon the life of yet another Member of Congress and you do so invoking the name of the assassin in Tucson.
            Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Valenti, I appreciate the investigative work you undertake to uncover fraud, waste, and abuse by public officials in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, but you do great disservice to your own cause if you recommend physical harm coming to any public official anywhere just because you don’t like him or her or the politics being espoused.
            This includes comments meant in jest or extremely poor taste.

          • danvalenti
            January 28, 2011 at 11:49 am #

            GMH
            Let’s be clear. I have not, am not, and will not advocate physical harm to anyone. To repeat, these were rhetorical remarks meant as edgy jest. If a reader judges them to be in poor taste, I would accept that. I had second thoughts myself before I used that expression, and that’s what led me to publish: I don’t want to get caught up in being overwrought over words, strident or otherwise. I respect where you’re coming from, Glenn, and I understand the nature of your concern. Thank you for your feedback.

  8. San Simeon
    January 27, 2011 at 7:45 am #

    @heller, man that’s funny, calling valenti a “liberal democrat.” you obviously haven’t followed him closely! but the work of nicols, mazzeo, and mike ward and valentis dogged pursuit saved the city from a huge mistake.

  9. Jim Gleason
    January 27, 2011 at 8:05 am #

    What in the hell wasLothrop so adamant about, wanting to go into Executive Session to “negotiate”. There was nothing to negotiale, the purchase date came and went, due to the efforts of Joe and Melissa, so it was mandatory to go back to square one. I wonder what Lothrop was going to get out of this deal to make him so crazy when it failed? White and Krol are just blind followers of Squiggy, their behavior was usual for them, but come on man, nobody without stakes in the game would go so nuts over a failed proposal.

    • danvalenti
      January 27, 2011 at 8:32 am #

      @JG
      Great question. Lothrop hung himself by saying “they” had the deal all wrapped up, but then … “the cat got out of the bag.” What disingenuousness. The most reasonable explanation for J-Lo’s “nutty” is that he has completely sold out and was going to profit in some way from this boneheaded attempt to stick Pittsfield taxpayers with a liability hitting untold millions of dollars.

  10. rick
    January 27, 2011 at 9:42 am #

    does everyone understand the need for an objective council now. and watch dogs… its crazy to let any mayor loose without checking and double checking what he or she is asking for. for roberto,j lo and the others, what a disgraceful way to go out. when a mayor has his yes people like roberto had, they can do a lot of damage. anyone out in the planet, if you are thinking on running for office…..be your own person….think for the people of pittsfield and your wards. keep your dignity ……..

  11. Cruiser
    January 27, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    Valenti for Mayor!

  12. rick
    January 27, 2011 at 11:32 am #

    dan,thanks for staying on top of these kind of issues that can cost us millions. if it dosent smell right its usually rotten to the core. i think the people are waking up and watching things a little closer, your input and facts on these types of issues carries a lot of weight.

  13. FYI
    January 27, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    A question –

    I’m not trying to diminish this Blog Site’s role in nudging city councilors into changing opinions. At the very least this site let them know that the city was paying attention.

    My question – what did I miss? I didn’t hear or read the name “Valenti” in regard to any of this.

    Again, I’m not doubting the Blog Site had influence, but the sense I get from this article is that it was explicity stated that this site had councilors running scared. Did I walk away from PCTV when Valenti’s blog was mentioned?

    Thanks in advance.

    • PCTV
      January 28, 2011 at 4:54 am #

      Neither Dan Valenti or this blog were specifically mentioned at the meeting, in the newspaper, or anywhere else.

  14. eric vincelette
    January 28, 2011 at 9:26 am #

    @ FYI…I don’t think U missed any inside scoop on PCTV..for that matter have u ever gotten scoops there in the past? Most people in the know realize that Dan is breaking news days if not wks ahead of the B.eagle ..if they choose to cover something controversial at all w/out so much red tape that they need to cut thru & corporate sponsors they need to appease & feed. The garage was pretty much a done deal for all intents & purposes until we heard one reasonable & desenting voice from deep in the wilderness, shouting, “Wait! why are the taxpayers of Pittsfield paying $300k more than original purchase price in a down market for a PCB laden money pit that city trucks might not even fit into?” Then the rest of the world awoke from their slumber & realized that the man shouting from the mountaintop might have a point. That man, my good FYI was Dan Valenti, who covers things from the perspective of trying to get the truth out there for people to make educated decisions from..The Planet has the inside track & ears & boots on the ground thru out the land bringing the sometimes inconvienent & hardhitting truth to light..till next time…EV

  15. eric vincelette
    January 28, 2011 at 10:12 am #

    & plz don’t take that to mean I don’t read the Eagle Daily cause I do because it gives info that informed citizens need to know & I like a few of their reporters but U have to admit that its hard for a large operation as theres to report things that might rock the boat 2 much..

    • Jim Gleason
      January 30, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

      Eric,
      If it were hard for a large operation to “rock the boat”< how and why did the Boston Globe break the stories about abuse in the MA probation dept? The Globe is a much larger operation than the Eagle and they didn't seem to hesitate to publishthose stories.

  16. rick
    January 28, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    maybe now with dan buzzing around,the eagle will get its stuff together and start printing news. i thought that was what they sell. not filtered or touched up. nichols put his hat in the ring and they didnt have anything in the paper. you had to come here to get the scoop. looks like dans the news man,and is going to have a large following.