Article

BORING BROADSHEET BLOWS IT ON ST. STAN’S STORY, plus, THE POSSIBLE RENAMING OF WAHCONAH PARK, or A STUPENDOUSLY STUPID IDEA

BY DAN VALENTI

The Planet did the final hour with The Fat Man and Ronnie this a.m. from noon to 1 p.m. That’s Bill Sturgeon and Ron Lee of WBRK’s “Bill Sturgeon Show.” We covered a lots of ground in a fast moving hour, including the St. Stan’s story, the possible renaming of Wahconah Park, Jim Ruberto’s legacy, and 1Berkshire and GE.

On St. Stan’s we repeated our assertion that the Boring Broadsheet is factually incorrect on this story. Today, they blared its inaccuracies in the headlines. Nowhere in the decree from Rome does it state that St. Stanislaus Kostka in Adams “must reopen,” as the headline blares.

The Vatican decree made three determinations, two of which sided with Bishop McDonnell and the Diocese of Springfield. Here they are, in plain English:

  1. Rome found that what diocese’s actions at St. Stan’s conformed to canon law, which governs the Church internally. Specifically, the Vatican found that the appeal filed by the 200 protesters who illegally occupied St. Stan’s (SS200) has no basis in Church law.
  2. On procedure (de procedento, in Latin), Rome found that, again, Bishop McDonnell acted legally and properly.
  3. As a determination of facts (de decernendo), Rome said the reasons McDonnell cited for his actions did not meet the test of “grave motivation.” In other words, while there may have been cause, the Bishop didn’t show it. Rome didn’t say there was no just cause for shuttering the church, only that the diocese didn’t prove it.

This is hardly the “bells are ringing” coverage the Eagle foisted on a gullible public of the SS200 ringing the bells in what was both a hasty generalization of Rome’s decision and a misreading of the text. It appears the group had better find a new canon lawyer.

Conor Berry’s story didn’t mention 1 and 2, and it misapplied 3. The Planet defies anyone from the Boring Broadsheet or anywhere else to show where the Vatican decree states that St. Stan’s “must reopen.” The church may (or it may not) reopen. That will be a matter for the bishop to decide, presumably in consultation with the SS 200.

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Dowdie May Have Been a ‘Good Guy,’ but Fellas, Let’s Keep Our Heads About This

At an emotional Parks Commission Meeting last night, the commissioners took up the matter of renaming Wahconah Park for Paul Dowd. The Planet will present our thoughts in a moment. First, we share this report from Boots on the Ground, one of our secret agents who closely followed the proceedings. We will add that Boots has legal training. We can say no more.

What’s in a Name?

By Boots O.T. Ground

The hot issue was the renaming the Wahconah Park for Paul Dowd. Prior to the hearing of Bill Barry and Jim Boyle’s petition [both are former Pittsfield councilors], commissioners heard another petition regarding the creation of a “Hope Garden” (or something along the lines) at Wahconah Park in honor of Paul. All of the commissioners agreed that it was a great idea, but they’d like to have legal approval from Rich Dohoney, and the parties to the petition agreed to have it tabled until the next meeting.

Then came the fun. Not only did Bill Barry and Jim Boyle speak on behalf of the Dowd petition, but they rolled out none other than Gerry Doyle, who was pretty emotional in describing Paul’s situation and what he’s done for Pittsfield.

The commissioners then also requested for this to go to the city solicitor as well, as they were concerned that the name change could jeopardize the tax credits. This is when things got really hairy, especially between Jimmy Boyle and Cliff Nilan. Boyle interpreted the board’s desire to table this petition as “disrespect” toward Paul, and raised his voice several times. Tension was pretty palpable.

Then, Doyle steps in, and in his true fashion, announces that “my boss controls the tax credits, and I can assure you that it will NOT be a problem with renaming the field.” At this point, it seemed as if the commissioners were going to hold off on approving this petition until they heard legal word from Rich Dohoney and Secretary Galvin.

What really perturbed me was the conscious disregard by these former elected officials, who allegedly knew and should know the legalities behind certain decisions, and yet they ask the board to approve it without it being fully vetted. I understand that Paul is seriously ill, but should not the law be more important than cronyism?

Also, another thing Jim Boyle said irked me a great deal. At one point, Boyle said (paraphrasing): “Come on, Cliff, we’ve named parks for people much less deserving like Marchesi, Hebert, etc. …” Nilan was clearly upset by this comment. I’d have to concur with Nilan.

Here’s why I was upset about this. I am related to Theodore Herberg, who worked in the Pittsfield Public Schools for 63 years, served as Mathematics department head at PHS, and was director of testing and curriculum for many years. He retired in 1992 at the age of 87 (and died six months later).

Ted graduated as the Valedictorian from Columbia in 1924 at age 19, and Ted’s brother Will Herberg was also an authority in the fields of sociology and conservative religious study in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1981, South Junior High was named after Ted. It’s pretty hard to argue that Paul Dowd’s credentials, while good in their own right, would merit an honor on the same plain that Ted received.

This type of issue also came up a few years ago when some officials wanted to rename Stearns School after Stephanie Wilson. What disrespect to the Stearns family and the name to want to rename a building after someone who doesn’t even live here! I’d feel the same way if they tried to strip Ted’s name off the Middle School.

This is not to say that I don’t think Paul Dowd’s contributions aren’t worthy of something. I think that my idea was more practical: Because of his ties to the Jimmy Fund, why not name the North Little League complex after him? Isn’t the Jimmy Fund a major partner of the Berkshire County Little League organization?

Another note: as much as I have a distaste for Cliffy, I have to applaud the position that the commission took to make sure the legal ducks were in a row before we jumped into anything. I didn’t see the final outcome of the vote, but it appeared as if they were going to hold off until it was fully vetted.

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The Planet thanks Boots for the report. We add these points:

Bill Barry was a ward councilor in Ward 1. He never gave evidence of being the roundest bowling ball on the lanes, if you get our drift. He was harmless enough, though, and The Planet enjoyed good relations with him. Jim Boyle, though, is another story. He was a terrible councilor: lazy, mean, and lacking integrity. As a public figure, he operated in what appeared to be sleezy fashion. It’s hard to articulate just what we mean, so we refer to Justice Stevens, who said of pornography: “I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.”

Ashes to Ashes

Boyle coat of arms should contain cigarette butts and ashes. Boyle, who smoked heavily when we knew him and maybe still does, gave off a redolence that reeked in a way that make second hand smoke appear like nectar from the Gods. He had a public style as councilor of a combination bully, lottery addict, and the uncle the family never mentions. This is the Knight in Shiny Armor who wants to advance the case for Paul Dowd? That’s the best they can do? Brother, you’re not doing Dowdie any favors.

Despite Gerry Doyle’s assurances on the tax credits, monkeying with the name of the ballpark could jeopardize the FEDERAL rules under which Wahconah Park received National Historic status. Loss of that designation would cripple the city’s ability to leveral federal assistance for the refurbishing of Wahconah Park.

Aha!!!!!! Is THAT what’s behind this goody-goody, weepy effort to change the name? Are the enemies of Wahconah Park building a Trojan Horse? And didn’t Dowd say, during the Civic Authority battle, that he’s like to dynamite Wahconah Park?

The Planet joins with Boots in applauding the work of Cliff Nilan of the Parks Commission. Nilan showed responsible leadership in taking control of the issue from the chair and not permitting the meeting, as well as the good people of Pittsfield, to be once again railroaded.

As for Dowd meriting an honor of the level of Mr. Ted Herberg, the answer is no. Down was a career minor leaguer pitcher who didn’t make it to the majors. He stayed in Pittsfield, did good work for the Jimmy Fund and cancer patients, and got involved with the unseemly actions of barroom politics that for so long gave this city two decades of hangovers.

For his Jimmy Fund work, for his membership in the AA Pittsfield-Berkshire Red Sox, and for his decision to put down roots in Pittsfield, The Planet would support the naming a flower bed after Dowd. A stadium? No way.

There have been many reasonable suggestions offered as an alternative to renaming beloved Wahconah Park after a former politician and community 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 Planet recommends leaving Dowd’s name off of any part of Wahconah Park, let along the park itself. It recommends the Parks Commission file this request, and further, that the city council begin to tackle more substantive issues that this piece of angel food cake. Being seriously ill should never be a reason for undeserved honors.

34 Responses to “BORING BROADSHEET BLOWS IT ON ST. STAN’S STORY, plus, THE POSSIBLE RENAMING OF WAHCONAH PARK, or A STUPENDOUSLY STUPID IDEA”

  1. editor
    February 16, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

    Dan you have hit a all time LOW!!!! Why don’t you mention that Paul was going to kick your ass at WBRK for saying rotten personel things about him? Paul Dowd spent more time in one day helping people with cancer and other problems than you have done your entire life!! You sir have lost all of my respect as a person who cares for the people of Berkshire county.. You are a mean spirted egotistical Moron, who can’t find a hat big enough to fit your bloated head!!

    • danvalenti
      February 17, 2011 at 8:25 am #

      editor
      You know NOTHING of this situation. NOTHING. I was a participant, and I know the facts of the situation. As an act of charity and to save Dowdie embarrassment over an issue that he and I, man to man, settled later, I didn’t mention what happened in the studios of WBRK. That’s in the past, and I would think, as a “friend” of his, you would have spared him any reference to an incident he later regretted. As for your respect, that is your choice man. Your petulance means nothing to me — neither positive nor negative. Totally neutral.

      • editor
        February 17, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

        Dan You can write what ever you want …. This is your blog…But you still write and talk big and say your for the little people but most people know that you live with all of the elite in Stockbridge!! Who are you fooling? You write things just to get a responce knowing that your full of crap, and these bloggers eat it up!! PS You cowered like a little girl when”Dowdie” came to see you!

  2. editor
    February 16, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    PS I also heard you ran like a little girl when Paul came to WBRK to kick your ass!! You talk big when you hide behind a mike or a pen…

    • danvalenti
      February 17, 2011 at 8:27 am #

      Well, you heard wrong. I stood up to him and didn’t flinch. He went berserk and I kept my cool. Those are the facts. My fatherly advice is that you welcome them into your anorexic “world” view.

  3. SayWhat
    February 16, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

    Dan I could not agree more with you except for two things.
    Leave the name alone..it’s a fine Indian name and has a lot of history.

    I am not sure “Cliffy” gets any kudos in my book. He had a big hand in bouncing Bouton out of Waconah park and I think he would have done a great job for the city had they let him run it. The parks commission has far too many good old boys on it as it is.

    And I am sad to see that Doyle still has a say in anything that goes on in Pittsfield. I was hoping he had left for parts unknown.

    • danvalenti
      February 17, 2011 at 9:02 am #

      SayWhat
      My judgment on Cliff were based on his actions at the meeting, nothing more and nothing less. What he may or may not have done in the past with which I agree or disagree was irrelevant to the Parks Commission meeting Tuesday night.
      I made no judgement on Doyle being involved, so, technically, we are not in disagreement. From what we’re hearing, the street says Doyle is involved in city events more that anyone realizes. Can’t say this is fact, but it is a persistent buzz. Also, there’s a trial balloon that’s been floated: Doyle running at large this year. Again, can’t say one way or the other. But the word is out to gauge the reaction.

  4. Jim Gleason
    February 16, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    As fpr Little League being involved in The Jimmy Fund, my Dad, Don Gleason, started that relationship. He started, along with a few others who are still involved, a tournament for 9-10 years old LL’ers from each league in Berkshire County to play in. This tourney is played at a different field every year from N Adams to Gt. Barrington.. Hewas also the President of the North LL for many years before he became District Administrator for District 1, so if that park is named for anybody it should be Don Gleason. Heandsome friends built the field where the North plays now wth their bare hands and a bit of help from the city. Nobody else did that.

    • danvalenti
      February 17, 2011 at 8:28 am #

      I would push for recognition of Don Gleason for “naming” long before Paul Dowd. I can testify to the important of Don to all the kids who played ball in Pittsfield “back in the day.” Don Gleason was and is a great man.

      • editor
        February 17, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

        Don Gleason has been involved with Little League for 40 years and Paul Dowd has been involved helping sick children for probably the same amount of time….Both are good men but I would have to say that helping people with cancer seems to me far more important than kids playing baseball…PS did you play ball or were you the score keeper?

        • Jim Gleason
          February 17, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

          44 years to be exact. My Dad also had 53 years at the CY.C. before the cowards on the board of erections hired a hitman to get rid of him. He did nothing at the C.Y.C.but stand up for kids and families who needed help. These cowards didn’t have the guts to fire him so they hired a dupe to do it for them. He didn’t deserve to go and they don’t deserve to be in charge of a tag sale. That place won’t last long without him.

      • Jerri R
        February 19, 2011 at 8:07 am #

        Don Gleason is greatly missed at the CYC, the basketball has gone downhill since he has left.

        The board should be completely replaced, and Brian Sherman should never be allowed to Coach anything. Couple weeks ago, I watch him kick kids water bottle at the game because his son did not make the basket. People like him are still there, if only Mr. Gleason was there!

        Miss him and pray he is doing goods.

        A Mom.

  5. Joetaxpayer
    February 16, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    editor,He is only expressing his thoughts on the matter and he is not alone.The City has 275 properties I am sure they can come up with a fitting alternative to honor him.As far as Mayor Ruberto goes I voted for the man,but would say his biggest falure was he and the city council inabilty to cut the budget.We as a city must stop the spending thank god he is not running again.

    • danvalenti
      February 17, 2011 at 8:29 am #

      Yes, Dowd wanted to “dynamite” Wahconah Park when he was shilling for the evil Civic Authority.

      • editor
        February 17, 2011 at 12:34 pm #

        Wahconah Park is a fine park for High school baseball ,not for pro ball…The Colonials are fun to watch but Im guessing none of their players will ever make it to the Bigs. PS The civic authority was the back breaker..

        • Joetaxpayer
          February 17, 2011 at 5:22 pm #

          editor,Yes some of the players make the bigs and have already been there.been watching ball at Wahconah for almost 40 years a will say they are equal to AA.I would hope more fans go down to Wahconah and see for there selfs.Even if you don’t like baseball,you will ha ve a good time.

      • rick
        February 20, 2011 at 6:04 am #

        dan, after watching the parks meeting on the dowd field issue,i see no reason why not to allow a sign put up under his name,as long as it isnt attached to the historic wahconah park name. what they did in the past is water under the bridge. forgive and forget, doyle,boyle and berry have (forgotten). seperate sign put in the ground outside of the gates in memory of dowd is o.k. after watching that im glad the 3 of them are no longer representing our city. would have loved to have a breathalizer in that room!

  6. rick
    February 16, 2011 at 4:07 pm #

    what the f##k! the same people who wanted to bulldoze the beloved park, come back to rename it,after all the work to protect it and get it on the historical registry. that situation was a low point for pittsfield politics… geee wasnt the berkshire eagle in the middle of that, the new stadium was going on their property. jim, i agree on your dads name on something in the future.. i was coached by him at c,y,c many moons ago, a great and dedicated man to the community. im the one who said to name a section of the bleachers for dowd. the way people like to name things after people, i take back the section and say,dedicate a bleacher seat..were going to need all the seats for future dedications.

  7. Joetaxpayer
    February 16, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    If everyone loves Wahconah park so much,how come they are always the last in attendance.Please,it wasnt the park it was the change Pittsfield against change.Still running the city like we have 60,000 pop.time for change.Hoping new city council,is kool-aide free.

  8. Ron Kitterman
    February 16, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

    What I truly get a kick out of is every petition that is filed by Joe Citizen or John Q. Public usually gets thrown into the round file or flushed down the toilet by the powers to be on the prestigious duly elected body. ( Save a petition to boycott the products we purchase from Arizona or not taking a left turn out of the US Post office parking lot). Then when two former city councilors come up with an idea to name Wahconah Park after a good friend they have no trouble passing it. Then when they find out maybe it wasn’t such a good idea come out with threats and intimidation tactics to end the funding unless it passes. Let’s spend as much time on reducing the tax rate and the pertinent issues of the day. Paul Dowd is a good man, they don’t have to name the $2 bill after him or Wahconah Park for me to respect him or honor him or feel sympathy for him.

    • danvalenti
      February 17, 2011 at 8:32 am #

      Great point, Ron. A “nobody” citizen filed a petition and the poo bahs laugh it out of chambers. Two washed-up, that is, ex-councilors file this and it takes on the importance of the Ages. Reason and intelligence dictates opposition, sight unseen, to anything Jim Boyle would cosponsor.

      • editor
        February 17, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

        My guess is Jim Boyle dissed you at one point? Boy you have a memory of a Elephant!!!

  9. Conor Berry
    February 17, 2011 at 6:12 am #

    Dan,

    I did hedge in the lede, referring to “a Vatican ruling that could re-open the Wlodyka Square church.” That’s a distinct possiblity, though it’s also fairly clear that Sunday Mass won’t be served anytime soon at St. Stan’s (and possibly never will).

    In terms of headlines, I don’t write them (that responsibilty falls to editors, as you know, not reporters). I do agree that it’s wrong to characterize this Vatican decree as a clear-cut victory for the parishioners, but the parishioners view it as the most positive step in more than two years’ of ’round-the-clock vigils and peaceful protests. For them, it is a victory, and I only intended to tell the story from their perspective.

    In terms of the parish NOT being returned to a parish state, the parish already is NOT a parish, and hasn’t been since January of 2009, so I didn’t focus on that. The good news, according to Ms. Haas and others at St. Stan’s, is that the diocese didn’t provide adequate or proper justification for closing St. Stan’s. Granted, the diocese could appeal and make a more definitive, articulate case for permanent closure of the building, citing financial and other reasons. But according to this Vatican decree, the threshold for closing the church wasn’t met.

    Is this bell-ringing story perhaps a bit premature? Quite clearly, yes. The diocese wasn’t nearly as confident when confronted with the decree matter on Wednesday, but now appears ready to re-assert its authority regarding who calls the shots when it comes to church-owned properties in the diocese. What the diocese was most peeved about was NOT being told in advance about the decree — a decree that St. Stan’s parishioners ran with and characterized as a tremendous step toward getting their church back.

    In terms of using such strong, compelling words as “must,” I tend to shy away from absolutes for precisely this reason: They can blowup in your face! Alas, I built my story from the breaking-news story, which I didn’t author, so any language about what the diocese MUST do were not my lines, so to speak. Am I shifting the blame onto someone else? Not really, but merely saying that if a story is built on a faulty foundation, there’s bound to be some cracks.

    Breaking news often breaks, cracks and splinters, with Day 2 or 3 coverage improving or changing dramatically from Day 1 coverage. Again, I’m not trying to deflect criticism of my article, but merely trying to explain how things — information, facts, details — change rapidly in rapidly developing stories. That’s why today’s story, taken from the diocese’s perspective, does appear to take the wind out of parishioners’ sails. You, yourself, have offered mea cuplas on this site when the information you have received — and reported — was less than accurate.

    My contention is that if the word “must” never appeared in this story, there would be no discussion here. That’s my story, and sticking to it. Thankfully, the Stan’s story is NOT my story, so I probably won’t be revisiting the issue anytime soon. That said, I will be following the issue in the press.

    Regardless of how this all plays out, for St. Stan’s communinty on Wednesday, the mood was nearly as ebullient as VE Day. And that’s a fact, Jack.

    Respectfully,
    CONOR

    • danvalenti
      February 17, 2011 at 8:37 am #

      Great points. I have been flat-out wrong, misstated, or otherwise mischaracterized breaking news, only to have the benefit of hindsight later. Breaking news is “a different animal.”

      On my appearance at WBRK yesterday, I mentioned your story and clearly absolved you of blame for the headline, pointing out that you didn’t write it. The desk did.

      I agree. The mood was jubilant at St. Stan’s when the news came in. You could have run that story as a story. But to suggest, as the Eagle coverage did, that this was a slam-dunk (Vatican rules church “must reopen”) distorted the factual situation.

      I also agree that the diocese will (and should) reassert control. The diocese owns the property, not the parishioners. The protesters were squatters, there illegally but with the tolerance of the bishop.

      Appreciate your comments “for the defense.” I enjoy such discussions!

    • editor
      February 17, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

      Conner Your just stroking Dan’s Ego!!!

  10. Bill Sturgeon
    February 17, 2011 at 7:08 am #

    Dan;
    Thanks so much for coming on the show. You did a great jog tell my listeners about St. Stan’s. I am looking forward to having you back on.

    Bill Sturgeon (The Fat Man)
    Mid-Day Live 1340 AM 10-1:00 M-F

  11. Bill Sturgeon
    February 17, 2011 at 7:08 am #

    Dan;
    Thanks so much for coming on the show. You did a great job tell my listeners about St. Stan’s. I am looking forward to having you back on.

    Bill Sturgeon (The Fat Man)
    Mid-Day Live 1340 AM 10-1:00 M-F

    • danvalenti
      February 17, 2011 at 8:54 am #

      BILL (FAT MAN)
      It was my pleasure. Love the mix with you, me, and Ronnie. Anytime, my good friend.
      Give the mayor a good grillin’ today!

  12. ambrose bearse
    February 17, 2011 at 7:50 am #

    Nobody said anything about your dear and close relative Ted Herberg. Boyle mentioned Marchesio and Hebert.

    • danvalenti
      February 17, 2011 at 8:53 am #

      Ambrose:
      Speaking of family, you any relation to one of my literary heroes, Ambrose Bierce (b-i-e-r-c-e) or is that not your real name?

  13. Still wondering
    February 17, 2011 at 7:51 am #

    Conor,
    A good many of us do realise that you as a reporter do the best you can in presenting the facts of a news story. We also know that it is the editors who screw things up. And we know that the editors at the BB are screwing up big time.

    • danvalenti
      February 17, 2011 at 8:40 am #

      Indeed. The reporters, identified with bylines, can be hung up to dry by editors. Likewise, a good editor can save a reporter’s behind. In my five years full-time on a daily, I’ve worked with both.

  14. Conor Berry
    February 17, 2011 at 8:58 am #

    On another note … Sure, the copy is the property of The Eagle, but my name’s on the story, so no amount of explaining away an error will ever remove the taint.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into the county courthouse and been accosted by an angry lawyer. The headlines attempt to cut to the chase, but if they’re misleading or flat-out wrong, yikes. But, yes, you’re right: Good editing by good editors is, indeed, a blessing. As this story points out, it’s arguably a whole lot safer to go for the more tame, less attention-grabbing (read: sensational) hed.

    The diocese is very precise, and only uses very precise language, which is why reporters covering this story going forward must exercise caution and restraint — myself included.

    My cousin in Ireland is a priest who studied canon law; perhaps I should have him on retainer!

    CONOR

  15. Hell's Heart
    February 17, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    I find it great that Planet Valenti has the scoop on the Parks Commission shenanigans, and yet the Eagle has yet to publish word one about what happened!!! And an Eagle reporter was sitting in the front row of the meeting! This goes to show you how much more efficient independent media can be in bringing the true story to the public.