The Mayor Responds

The Planet heeds Mayor Jimmy Ruberto’s call to let the DPW land deal “cool down,” since the project has “taken on a life of its own.” First, though, we share the mayor’s comments on Patrick Sheehan, sent to The Planet this afternoon.


“Sorry for the delay. (1) It is my understanding that Sheehan is one of the property owners. I did not meet with or negotiate with him. (2) I have no relationship with him. (3) I don’t believe he has contributed to my campaign. (4) I don’t know him but I may have met him. (5) There is no relationship between my contribution to Nuciforo and Sheenan’s. This is untoward speculation, without foundation.”

The mayor then went on to say that the purchase was conditioned upon evidence of a contaminate free, environmentally clean site and a thorough inspection of the property for structural and other defects, (like the condition of the roof, etc.).

We now back off (until later!!) with the heart warming story of Riley, a four-legged little guy who had a horrible go of it, until someone with a kind heart and infinite patience gave him a second chance at life.

The Heartwarming Tale of Riley

We heard the story from Brian Hebel, and we let Brian tell it in his owns words:

“Well here goes the tale.  In the fall of 2006, in a conversation with Laurie, I was told that her husband had taken away from his niece a dog who she had almost starved to death.  He had been asked to care of the unfortunate pooch.

“When the uncle went over to his niece’s house, he saw Riley. To his horror, poor Riley was stuffed in a cage that was way too small with no food or water. He endured this for many days. Now this is a man who really has no love for small dogs, but this was more than he could stand.  The uncle was heartbroken. The dog had grown from what was a ‘Paris Hilton pocketbook creature’ to a larger one that his niece no longer favored, and she heartlessly sentenced him to die an awful death.

“Riley, he learned, had been abused, left outside in rain and snow, hit by cars twice (from which he had a broken, free-floating rib that hadn’t healed), and he was finally stuffed in a cage to wither away and die a slow death.

“This was more than Uncle Darren could stand.  Taking Riley home, he found the dog weighed just 11 pounds and was infested with mites and fleas. His fur a scraggly mess, loaded with knots and clumps.  A trip to the vets was in order. Shaving Riley down revealed skin lesions and the broken rib. This started his rehabilation and the part where I come in.

“Uncle Darren had agreed to help the dog back to health but didn’t not want to keep him.  He likes large dogs, and that is the way he felt. In talking with Laurie, she mentioned Riley’s hard life. They didn’t know what they were going to do with him. I heard this and said to Laurie, ‘You are going to give me that dog.’

BRIAN HEBEL and RILEY, at Halloween, with Riley as Yoda.

“Not thinking I was serious, she laughed and said sure. I told my wife this story, and she relented.  First we had to have our current dog meet Riley to see if this was going to work.  Neutral ground was chosen and the meeting went well.  Riley was submissive and that was what was needed for this to work.  This was an untrained dog with no house manners or skills at all. We kept the two dogs separate until Riley was neutered. Then we let them see and smell each other but not have contact. Baby gates are awesome!

“This has been a long road for everyone involved. Riley’s coming along. He’s starting to warm up to people, learn to trust them, and realize that most people are monsters like the woman who so abused him. Riley has figured out how to take care of his “duty,” showing how remarkably intelligent he is.

“When Riley has to do his duty, he does what I call ‘the poop loop’ when it is time.  A couple of laps around the table and a look at me is the signal.  I have to go outside!

“Riley  is still a streetwise dog and defends his right to be.  He needs respect and we give him this and all the love he can take. It’s amazing what love can do.  What was once a discarded animal is now loved and truly living the life of Riley.”

The Planet thanks Brian for telling us his story. The Planet  has adopted Riley as our mascot. We shall be consulting this wise and loving creature from hence forward. We also wish to share this, one of our favorite quotes on animals (we don’t know who wrote it):

“We need another and wiser and perhaps more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronage [animals] for their incompleteness, for their ragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves.

“And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.”

Inspired by this quote, we wrote “ANIMALS,” which we dedicate to Brian and Riley:


Artifice removes us from universal nature.

We live by the complications of of civilization.

The gods of greed and hatred rule us.

We see animals through the lens of false knowledge.

We distort the actual image and lose its wholeness.

We condescend to call them incomplete. YET…

… Their world is older than ours. Their world is more complete than ours. They live more wholly than we live. They exhibit more grace than we do. Their senses dwarf ours. They share our prison of grandeur and sorrow but with more innocence and goodness than our greatest saints have managed.

THEY KNOW GOD. We only know the god we invent.


“This Thing is Taking on a Life of Its Own”

Finally, The Planet presents this comment, submitted under condition that the name be withheld, relating to Patrick J. Sheehan, the man behind 1644 East St. LLC, the realty trust that owns the property the city considered for the DPW Garage. The source is a former elected official from Pittsfield. We pass along with comment of our own, in the spirit of transparency and free-flow of ideas:

“I guess the word is he [Sheehan] wants to possibly dump the nursing home ( Craneville Place) and put his efforts into the Desisto project. Sugar Hill, though, is his baby, so I’d be surprised if he sold that. In a lot of these things [his corporate holdings and numerous LLCs] he has partners, too, so it might be tough to figure out what the hell he’s up too. The quote of the day from the Eagle though was ‘this thing is taking on a life of it’s own.’ That stood out in bold print. Huh? Guess we’re just suppose to let the city buy PCB polluted land in a flood plain and shut up and clap for the good job they are doing wasting our money. Not a government of by and for the people, but a government from, for, and about the elite for the elite. Keep up the pressure though. It cracks me up how the Eagle took a week to mention a word about it and then ran the story they did.”


Alternate Sites for the DPW Garage

The Planet has received numerous suggestions for the DPW site. We present a few here:

(1) The current location on West Housatonic Street. The second floor of the building is condemned and can’t be used. Well, why not fix it. Renovate the present garage. The city owns the land and can get away with a relatively inexpensive solution. The garage is meant to house equipment. It doesn’t have to rival Canyon Ranch in luxury.

(2) Work out a deal with PEDA for a site on the former GE campus. We keep hearing of the “shovel ready” parcels. Let Pittsfield taxpayers, through PEDA, deed land over to Pittsfield taxpayers for $1 and build a garage there.

(3) The former Grossman’s building on East Street. It has plenty of parking and 44,000 sq. ft. The land could be acquired from the delinquent owner, again, at little cost to taxpayers.




  1. GMHeller
    February 1, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

    What Mayor James Ruberto leaves unspoken, and what does not make a whole lot of sense, is if the Mayor “did not meet with or negotiate with Patrick Sheehan”, has “no relationship with him”, and doesn’t “know him”, then just how, why, and when did this particular parcel of land come to the attention of Hizzoner?
    Further, why, of all the available, less-expensive, less-problematic locales in the entire city firmament in which to place a new DPW garage, did the land belonging to Mr. Sheehan end-up being on the top of the heap as the absolute best least expensive location for DPW’s use?
    The Mayor really needs to answer these simple questions as otherwise this matter is going to smell worse and worse as time passes.

    • Jonathan Melle
      February 1, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

      Good point, Glenn. Who did Mayor Jimmy Ruberto meet with? How were the terms of the sale met? Was Nuciforo involved in the deal-making?

      • Nichols for mayor
        February 2, 2011 at 9:14 am #

        No, Nuciforo wasn’t involved in the deal making.

        You just have a problem with Nuciforo and want to cast dispersions his way. Geez, don’t be so darn transparent.

        • danvalenti
          February 2, 2011 at 9:33 am #

          @ JONATHAN
          Have to agree with NFM, above. You may not want to believe this, but Andy Nuciforo is not behind every “deal” that is made locally. You don’t help your credibility when you keep on that one-track train. Offered as friendly criticism.

  2. Jim Gleason
    February 1, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

    If the conditions ruberto says were put on the purchase of 1644 East St. by the citizens of Pittsfield then why weren’t the citizens or city councilors told of them? I never heard of these conditions and never heard them mentioned in any public meeting by any councilor or the mayor or any official. Ithink this is a lie told to protect ruberto from looking, in my opinion, as stupid as he does.

    • bill
      February 3, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

      If Jim didn’t hear about it it must be lies. Jim knows everything!!!

      • Jim Gleason
        February 3, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

        I bring forth questions and discussion, youcall names and make sarcastic remarks about people. You’re very credible (NOT).

        • danvalenti
          February 3, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

          Questions are ALWAYS good. Same with debate and discussion. Name calling is a tactic used by those who have no argument or who have run out of ammo to defend their position.

  3. DJ
    February 1, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    I think if you look around on the web you will find some pictures of Ruberto and Sheenan yucking it up at the ITAM during Ruberto’s campaign and victory celebration.

    • Nichols for mayor
      February 2, 2011 at 9:13 am #

      Nope. There are no such photos. You are simply trying to build upon Mr. Valenti’s specualation.

      Listen, I like Valenti’s work but this is a hunt for something that just isn’t there.

  4. Joetaxpayer
    February 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    I would like to thank Mayor Roberto for his response,and would hope before the city buys any building that they look into the 275 other properties that the city already owns.The city should consilidate as many properties as they can maybe build at the water treatment plant off of Holmes road.Any property that the city cannot use should be sold,to get it back on the tax rolls.Times are going to get tough,no more Obama bucks,less state money teachers are owed and deserve around 1 million not to mention new Taconic and renovated PHS.Pittsfield has to tighten its belts,do we really need 5 fire stations with in 1.5 miles of each other.The citizen must decide,lower taxs with some cuts,no not totes!We could just do the same old same bize as usual tax hikes up, population down keep the same services wonder why the math does not add up.City council I give you a challenge,be pro-active not re-active make cuts.Do we really have to wait for the numbers from the state.I don’t think so the writing is already on the wall,show some and make the tough decisions.Do you dare call for cuts against the big three (SCHOOLS,FIRE,& POLICE)

  5. rick
    February 1, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    it smells of the start of a cover up to me…so the next press release from roberto will go some thing like this……I am NOT a CROOK!!!!

  6. rick leab
    February 1, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

    Dan, I think Uncle Darren’s niece should have been identified in the otherwise happy story. Animal abusers should not be allowed to slip away anonymously by the community watchdog known as The Planet. May all other dogs be as lucky as Riley. Your lovely ode to animals is sweet until the last line, which sounds too much like Glenn Beck. I respectfully suggest you ask Riley what he knows…..god won’t be part of his answer.

    • danvalenti
      February 1, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

      Thanks. Maybe Riley doesn’t call it “God” but he recognizes a reality that encompasses him in the gauze of fathomless being and the gaze of an all-inclusive view. Hope you are well and still making music.

  7. rick leab
    February 1, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    sorry, didn’t mean to say it twice..

  8. Joetaxpayer
    February 1, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

    Respectfully god is everywhere,as much as gov,t would like to snub,god out he is all around everyone in there own way.Even those who do not believe.sorry, rick

    • Nichols for mayor
      February 2, 2011 at 9:16 am #

      Yep. God is everywhere. I found him under my couch this morning while cleaning out dust bunnies.

      I was like, “God, get out from under there” He said, “I can’t. I’m everywhere”.

      And then that crazy guy snuck up behind me at the same time he was under the couch!

      That God! He’s such a character (and quite the magician).

      • danvalenti
        February 2, 2011 at 9:36 am #

        Funny! God can’t go away from anywhere because He’s everywhere, can He? He was even in the dust bunnies. So when he needs a break, where does He go? He does have a great sense of humor, however.

  9. danvalenti
    February 1, 2011 at 6:59 pm #

    Oohh, the God question, is it, the All of all. How about the circle whose center is everywhere and circumference is no where?

  10. SS
    February 1, 2011 at 7:26 pm #

    We’ll leave God alone but love this story of Riley. Man what a great thing Brian did to give this guy a loving home. Warmed my day, and made me appreciate my two beagles and Golden. When I look in their eyes and see the total innocence, i think I have a notion of this God thing mentioned in the poem.

  11. Dee
    February 2, 2011 at 6:19 am #

    Great story on Riley. I do feel however that the niece should have faced some consequence to her actions. Otherwise how will she ever learn compassion, empathy towards animals, responsibility. And the list goes on….

    It does make me proud to know there are others out there who put themselves out for an animal they didn’t “chose.” As the owner of four dogs and six cats (three of whom were dropped off here) I know what it feels like to be responsible for someone else’s actions. Two cats were dropped off as 3 week old kittens left in the middle of the road who had to be hand-fed and weaned and one cat who was dropped off on the farm. Stupid people.

    Good luck to Riley in finding his forever home and the wonderful angels who took him in and gave him the chance he should have had to begin with.

  12. San Simeon
    February 2, 2011 at 8:33 am #

    Yes, the people who gave Riley a second chance at life and gave him love are wonderful. Compassion and kindness are miracle cures. Sad that there are people out there so heartless and selfish to abuse these lovely creatures. Good post!

  13. Nichols for mayor
    February 2, 2011 at 9:18 am #

    Changing Subjects –

    Dan, when can we watch you embarrass and bruise Clarence Fanto on PCTV again? That was hilarious!

    • GMHeller
      February 2, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

      Clarence Fanto made to look like the sycophantic celebrity bum-kisser that he is?
      That should be quite the program.
      Can it be downloaded or streamed?
      If so, what is the link?

      • Jim Gleason
        February 3, 2011 at 3:25 pm # I can’t remember the date but maybe Dan can. I also watched the show and thought it was good to see Fanto and Krol ut in their place.

        • GMHeller
          February 5, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

          Got it!

          Here’s the link (though what the heck is the mms:// prefix?):

          • GMHeller
            February 5, 2011 at 5:48 pm #

            Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010.

          • GMHeller
            February 5, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

            Listening to the back and forth between Dan Valenti and Clarence Fanto, it’s easy to agree a bit with both, but moreso with Mr. Fanto’s concern over application of high journalistic standards to Web-based news reportage.
            Problem is that Mr. Fanto is hypocritically remiss on those very standards when it comes to his own day-to-day reportage.
            Try finding one line of objectivity in ANY of Mr. Fanto’s lengthy published interviews with singer-songwriter James Taylor (who now lives in The Berkshires in the nearby Town of Washington).
            And when was the last time culture editor Fanto wrote an honest warts-and-all review of any Taylor concert?
            Fact is Mr. Fanto’s celebrity-worship has become so excessive nowadays that one cannot tell whether one is reading a record company press release or Mr. Fanto’s own words.
            Further, when other journalists actually follow the kind of rigorous fact checks that Mr. Fanto claims he believes in, Mr. Fanto then refuses to give credence to the results.
            This is especially so when it’s his friends and/or associates who he believes are being maligned.
            Case in point, Alan Chartock.
            Mr. Fanto worked a few years back for WAMC as News Director; he’s good buddies with Mr. Chartock.
            Yet, Mr. Fanto refuses to accept the validity of any of the documented IRS Form 990 data which confirms WAMC has repeatedly failed to report to IRS taxable fringe benefit income paid to Mr. Chartock (free use of company vehicles, free use year-round of living accommodations in downtown Albany, etc.).
            Further, despite verification from multiple WAMC-affiliated witnesses (the exact type of verification Mr. Fanto insists as being necessary), Mr. Fanto yet refuses to believe the charge that WAMC paid off (to the tune of approx. $20,000) one of its long-time former female employees to drop allegations she was sexually harassed by Mr. Chartock.
            Mr. Fanto likes to dismiss other journalists’ verified information as ‘rumor’ and ‘gossip’, but then never bothers himself to investigate whether there is any truth to the allegations.
            How convenient.
            You won’t see Clarence Fanto breaking any newsstories about City of Pittsfield officials paying top-dollar for PCB-contaminated land to build a DPW garage.
            Mr. Fanto represents part of the problem in journalism today with his high-minded claims of adherence to standards but failure in his everyday writing to follow through with anything of the kind.

  14. danvalenti
    February 2, 2011 at 9:29 am #

    That WAS an interesting show. We got into a great discussion on the changing nature of the media. I will be on with John Krol Tuesday Feb. 8. Don’t think Clarence will be there, but it still will be sparks-generating!