Article

THE ASSAULT ON WAHCONAH PARK, plus, “BERKSHIRE LIVING” FEDORAS, MORE CITY PARKING WOES, & WELFARE CHEATS EXPOSED

BY DAN VALENTI

Here are some of the bits and pieces taken from the floating flotsam and jetsam orbiting The Planet (“Meet George Jetsam …”).

More on (God Help Us) ‘Paul Dowd Stadium’

WAHCONAH PARK: On a warm, sunny day, almost heaven.

Naming Names — Another reason not to rename Wahconah Park in honor of Paul Dowd, Paul Nixon, Paul McCartney, Paul Harvey, John Paul II, or Paul Small is that it already has a name. Taking a name down from a facility and giving it a new nom de plume is not at all the same as assigning a first name to a new structure. It’s as serious as going to court to legally change one’s name. That’s a much different and formal process than when your parents identified you to the world and gave you a moniker (especially if your name is Brick).

This applies in triplicate when a building earns National Historic Register Status, as Wahconah Park has done. Although it isn’t certain, it is reasonable to view this renaming business as another effort to destroy the park. Changing the name of a National Historic site is almost as lengthy and involved as getting approval in the first place. Who out there would trust the company of Jim Boyle, Bill Barry, and Gerry Doyle to see oversee that the process is done right?

If it’s not done right, the park could lose its designation and the city would be out the economic advantages that can stem from it National Historic designation. Or is that the point here? Is the renaming of Wahconah Park a Trojan Horse containing the dynamite Paul Dowd, as a city councilor, wanted to throw in the park to destroy it?

Barry, Boyle, and Doyle had their day in Pittsfield politics, and a dark day it was. They tried to destroy Wahconah Park in a shameless power grab known as the Civic Authority. They lost that war. Is the renaming business, then, their play for revenge? The Pittsfield Colonials had better pay attention to this, because their fate is on the line here, too, more than they realize.

‘Berkshire Having’ Magazine on the Blocks?

The Publisher and The Fedora. Self-important, and losing money?

Who Gives a Twit? — The Boring Broadsheet published word today of the purported sale to “Berkshire Living” magazine to Today Media, a company based in Delaware and New York state. How does the Eagle know this?

Michael Zivyak, “Berkshire Having” founder and publisher, “revealed the sale to the Eagle Thursday night.” So reads Tim Farkas’ story.  “We still have a period of time until [the deal closes],” Farkas quotes Zivyak. “It’s a pending acquisition.”

In other words, in terms of a purchase, nothing has happened! So why is this news, other than to get The Fedora’s picture in the front page once more? Even that’s not newsworthy, since the BB ran The Fedora’s picture after he tweeted while on a Superior Court jury of a child molestation case. You don’t think the announcement of a pending purchase and the Twit’s twits are related, do you?

Meanwhile, The Planet’s sources at and about “Berkshire Foo Foo” magazine tell us a few things Zivyak apparently didn’t tell the BB, such as:

  • Of the 20,000-circulation, only 5,000 is paid.
  • Advertising is way off, as one can judge by a content analysis.
  • Zivyak wants to give writers to whom he owes money 40 cents on the dollar.
  • Staffers have been, or are about to be, terminated.

The Planet doubts the “pending sale” will go through, because, according to our sources, Today Media has offered Zivyak less than the magazine’s current liabilities.

If the magazine died of PCBs tomorrow, few would mourn. From the start, the magazine glorified a lifestyle of greed and excess, with values that are not just faux-Berkshires but anti-Berkshires. True Berkshirites mock the magazine at every siting. Only the ones who are desperate to be photographed at a cocktail party would care a twit about this waste of trees.

We will be getting more from our spies within the magazine’s offices. Meanwhile, we invite Ziv to share the financials of the magazine with our readers. He tells Farkas, [“The magazine’s] going to be in great shape going forward.” Translation: “Our shape sucks right now.”

Farkas, born newspaperman that he is, apparently didn’t ask Ziv the tough questions for which a non-story like this begs. Ah, but what’s a Planet for?

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Parking’s Got the Blues

Not long ago, The Planet ran a story on the parking woes of one of downtown Pittsfield’s best little enterprises, Joe’s Lunchbox. We told of the catering company’s problems with the roustabout action of city parking czar Frank Annello and his crack crew.

Now we hear that one of Annello’s employees has been arrested and charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct after an incident at the Home Plate, an East Street bar. Pitsfield police allege that city meter maid Shaun Courtney, 24, tried to pick a fight with one of their officers outside the HP.

Can parking in Pittsfield get any crazier?

City attorney Rich Dohoney, who confirmed that Courtney works for the city, speaking with Conor Berry of the Eagle, would not tell Berry of Courtney would face disciplinary action. He told Berry, “Employees have privacy rights that we have to protect.”

A couple of comments at this point in the story: (1) You can see Conor Berry is the type of newsman who could land on The Planet and find work in two seconds. He thought of asking relevant questions, unlike the ones his boss didn’t ask of the “Berkshire Dying” publisher. (2) It’s interesting that taxpayers can pay the salaries and hefty benefits for city employees, but when they screw up (and we should remind all that Courtney has only been charged with a crime and has not yet been tried and is therefore by law presumed to be innocent), we can’t learn what’s going to be done about it. They hide the misfits, cheats, and the Gomer Pyles. Something’s wrong with this picture.

Back to the fight. The record shows that police officers Christopher Whitney and Michael Murphy responded to a report that a patron at Home Plate wouldn’t leave the bar. The call came in just after 2 a.m. Sunday morning — Two  *&$#@!^  a.m. Sunday morning! Pray, tell, what good can come of anything at that hour? Boy Scouts and altar servers do not refuse to leave barrooms at 2 a.m. Sunday. And why would a public servant be refusing to leave a bar at that time?

According to the police, Courtney wouldn’t give his real name. The cops claimed Courtney called himself “Mike,” then “Robert Horne.” From Berry: “Police said the latter is the name of a dispatcher for the Pittsfield Police Department.” Uh, can this get any weirder? Read on.

At that point police offered Courtney a ride home. The owner of the Home Plate offered to pay for a cab to take Courtney home. How did Courtney respond to this generous chance at a break? Whitney quoted him as saying that he was “going back into the bar to finish drinking.” After some tense moments, police say Courtney took a boxer’s stance [like the Great John L.?]. That became the straw not to stir the drink but to break the courtney’s back. They hauled him in.

One last tidbit from Berry’s story: “Courtney blew a kiss at Whitney as officers attempted to take Courtney’s mugshot, police said.”

Well, at least that shows the lad didn’t have any hard feelings about it.

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Welfare Recipients Puke All Over Taxpayers

We’d like to bring the spotlight on a story that one of our colleagues at the Boston Herald recently ran: Hilary Chabot’s piece on the wasteful spending in the state. I know, your all Claude Raines and “shocked” to hear there’s still money being blown by our public servants and that there are welfare cheats, this being a time of fiscal crisis and all.

A search on the Herald’s website will give you more grim details, but The Planet would like to share a few. You’ll get the drift of where the piece goes. Chabot’s story details the fraud committed by welfare recipients who — courtesy us the sucker taxpayers — receive a free Electronic Benefit Transfer card. The cards are only to be used to essentials, but this is Massachusetts. From Chabot’s story:

“Welfare families used their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) debit cards to squander $191,000 on a host of non-essentials, according to records obtained by the Herald, including:

• $175,000 on liquor stores, including a $102 tab at a Dracut bar;

• $827 at Victoria’s Secret stores across the state, including $208 at a Hyannis outlet;

• $644 at beauty supply stores, salons, and even a tanning booth in Fall River.

• $664 at PETCOs and other pet supply stores; $127 on jewelry stores; $3,427 at AT&T mobile phone stores; and about $100 at Chuck E. Cheese.

“ ‘This is a system that’s leaking like a sieve. I expect to see grocery stores. I expect to see pharmacies. When you see spending on something like Chuck E. Cheese it gets ridiculous,’” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones (R-North Reading).

The state Department of Transitional Assistance program has handed out EBT cards to the 70,000 households it services.”

Ah, but you knew it all along, didn’t you?

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THAT’S ALL FOLKS. NOW THE WEEKEND, AND MILES TO SLEEP. LOVE TO ALL.

20 Responses to “THE ASSAULT ON WAHCONAH PARK, plus, “BERKSHIRE LIVING” FEDORAS, MORE CITY PARKING WOES, & WELFARE CHEATS EXPOSED”

  1. Jonathan Melle
    February 18, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    The federal government gave many Trillions of Dollars to Wall Street over the course of the bail-outs from 2007 – 2009. BUT, we still complain about a few welfare cheats wasting thousands of dollars. What’s wrong with this picture?

    • Joetaxpayer
      February 18, 2011 at 7:45 pm #

      you are missing the point.if every dollar was under a microscope,we would have more money for all.

    • James Boyle
      February 28, 2011 at 9:39 am #

      It clear tht Dan like to make noise and call trouble,but he has a history of not checking his facts before opening his mouth.
      making missleading statement about the anming of the PLAYING FIELD AT WAHCONAH PARK IN THE HONOR OF PAUL DOW FOR HIS CONTRIBUTO=IONS NOT AS A BASEBALL PLAYER, NOT AS HIS CONRTIBUTUION WHILE WHILE THE POLTICAL FIELD WHILE SERVING ON THE CITY COUNCIL,BUT TO HIS CONRIBUTION TO THE FILED OF LIFE ,WHERE IT REALLY COUNTS.. check with any family that has had a Child with cancer first.

      Aslo Dan check your facts to see who was on the City Council when the new ballpark came up.

      • danvalenti
        February 28, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

        JIM
        Thank you. I have. If you’re making the point that I put you on the council during the Civic Authority mess, you’re mistaken.
        I do not doubt Paul’s contributions on behalf of families fighting cancer. Those acts are noble indeed. But there have been many Good Samaritans in the city over the years who have equalled that effort. Mercy is its own reward, Jim. It’s not enough to name a building for someone, in this case. Also, we can’t forget Paul’s stance on the ballpark: He wanted to junk it. Appreciate your response.

  2. Jonathan Melle
    February 18, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    Dear Dan,
    I thought they were going to name the super-high school after Jimmy Ruberto.
    Best,
    Jonathan Melle

  3. editor
    February 18, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    Dan, Are you mad that The Eagle scooped you on the Berkshire living story?? Come on admit it…Your spies at Berkshire Living have failed you….

  4. DJ
    February 18, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    I can attest that Dan knew about the “sale” of Berkshire Living well before the Eagle even thought it might be a story.
    I would guess he never said anything, three weeks ago because it was then and is now still a non-story. There is no full on sale, no real deal, just some deal making tango. When the opening offer is would still leave the owners holding all the debt, that’s not really an offer. The actions at the top, more like Berkshire Squirming not to pay your bills. Heck anyone that deals with them knows they are slow or no pay.
    I just wish Dan would post what he knows about Shakespeare and Co. and how employees have had to use their credit cards to pay vendors and how their debt service is still unmanageable.

    • editor
      February 18, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

      I agree Who cares about Berkshire Living… But Dan loves to brag that he gets every scoop before the Eagle….EGO EGO EGO

    • danvalenti
      February 19, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

      It’s true, DJ and editor. I had that story at least 10 days back. I determined it wasn’t news. There was no sale announced. I heard what the BB reported: the two sides were talking. As I snooped around, I decided they are far from agreement and, likely (not certain) the deal won’t happen. Two companies talking? A non-starter and a non-story. @DJ: I’d be glad to hear more about S&Co.

  5. Joetaxpayer
    February 18, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

    Berkshire living is not a story that is why it’s in the eagle.Agree there should be no bail outs.That has nothing to do with scum bags who take advantage of the system.For every dollar they steal it comes out of the pockets that need it most!

  6. Paulson
    February 18, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    I would like to ask editor what he knows about the Emporium moving in with Storefront Artists. Dan reported that story light years before anybody else. you denied it. what do you have to say now? there were questions about the questionable teaming of a for-profit biz and a nonprofit.. Could that explain your bitternsess toward planet valenti because he let the world know what yous were up to

    • Joetaxpayer
      February 18, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

      Paulson,that could very well be the cause of editor’s bitterness,or it could be he cannot deal with the success of Dans blog.Maybe he should go the way of Beasley and move on.

      • editor
        February 19, 2011 at 4:24 am #

        I think Dan blogs with differnt names and that maybe he’s the only one blogging!!!

        • danvalenti
          February 19, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

          Nope, ed, not so. When I give the news and views, it’s under my own name. Why don’t you try it sometime.

    • DJ
      February 19, 2011 at 6:30 am #

      Yeah what is going on with that. I see the emporium is open, SAP is not. How can one place that is for profit be open when the other isn’t up and running and is the sole reason for the rent concession. What about the electricity, the water, the Internet.
      I see the emporium has the south street window side, seems like a good spot and better for STORE FRONT ARTIST PROJECT, not the we skipped out on our rent in Lenox and North Street junk store. How does that work? You skip out on your lease, do you still have to pay it back? Or do you act like nothing happened and just move on and screw the next guy?

  7. just saying
    February 19, 2011 at 6:11 am #

    @ editor,

    Valenti is not the only one blogging.

    However, YOU are the only one who makes an ass of themselves on this blog.

    Good day.

  8. Liz Arrington
    February 19, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    I’m new to the area. My husband and I have been learning about the community and become responsible citnzens. We intend to vote, for example! I rely on the Berkshire Eagle for ads (sales especially) and coupons and get it on Sunday. For national international news we subscribe the NY Times. For local news, this website is informative, extremely well written and helpful though I don’t agree with all Mr. Valenti’s postings. I have seen him on TV and radio. He is an extremely convicing debater. Intelligent and witty, a man to take seriously. I wouldn’t want to be on the other side in a debate!

  9. Liz Arrington
    February 19, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    May I say one more thing? I appreciate comments that are serious or if funny in good taste. Most are like this. There is one poster who routinely attacks Mr, Valenti but avoids answering with substance either him of other commentors. I would ask him to contribute but in a more mature way. That’s all. Not trying to criticize anyone personally. Thank you.

    • danvalenti
      February 19, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

      LIZ
      Thank you for your comments. I love the tone of what you say and the content of what you say. I don’t claim to have a copyright on the truth. I offer news and opinion based on what I think are reasonable observations and premises. People like you help keep the tone civil here. We can, and should, debate thoroughly and holding nothing back, but we must do so with a measure of calm.

  10. Still wondering
    February 21, 2011 at 9:40 am #

    Looks like Liz will be looking for 2 other newspapers to get her news rather soon.