Article

THANKS TO BERRY, THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE RECLAIMS ITS PROUD NAME, FOR A DAY ANYWAY, plus, MUCH MORE ABOUT ‘STEROIDGATE’

BY DAN VALENTI

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, March 26, 2011) — For a day anyway, and we hope for much longer, the local daily once again became The Berkshire Eagle. It was not the Boring Broadsheet, and it shed that label for today the way Clark Kent shed his two-piece gabardine for a set of blue tights and a red cape when Lois was tied to the tracks.

The Planet has been quick and often with the barbs against the Eagle, and as much as people do or do not believe this, we do so out of love — for the profession of journalism, for the industry of newspapering, for the Little Guy (who often has no other ally in his eternal fight against The Fix), and for the city of Pittsfield (one can judge a city by its daily). We are now quick with the praise.

Conor Berry, on the Loose

We refer to the way the paper has let intrepid crime reporter Conor Berry loose on SteroidGate. Berry rightly credits cyberspace — the initial tip by blogger Glenn Heller and the subsequent digging by The Planet — for getting the ball rolling. By virtue of the Eagle’s position, it, alone, can dedicate the necessary resources to ferret out the truth of a story such as this. For example, Berry got the PPD’s investigative report first. Credit him and the Eagle for that. The cops just don’t give those out like candy, especially in a clamped-down town such as Pittsfield.

Would the people of Pittsfield even know about the alleged steroid abuse by a member of the Pittsfield Police Department (a member of the drug Investigation squad and the county drug task force, no less) had these two cyberspace efforts not acted upon information? Heller released information on his blog. The Planet followed with the parts of the story we could confirm through traditional methods in investigative reporting: phone calls, e-mails, knocking on doors, and conversations. The coverage pushed overboard the Eagle’s initial managerial reluctance to pounce on this story — the first managerial instinct there, The Planet has been told by an Eagle source, was to spike the story — and Berry got to work.

Important New Developments

Actually, from what Berry has said in his captivating back-and-forth with Heller on the evolution of this story, he began working far sooner, more like the beginning of the month. The Planet first learned of trouble brewing through Heller. We launched our own investigation. Berry did the same, with greater resources. Today, his bylined piece determined important new developments, including information which The Planet had but had not officially confirmed and therefore withheld. Berry’s piece today shares information from a heavily redacted March 10 internal affairs report by Capt. David Granger of he PPD. According to the allegations in the report, we learned:

· PPD officer David Kirchner bought and used illegal steroids.

· Chief Michael Wynn, who still has not returned The Planet’s request for comments, confirmed information we first posted pertaining to Kirchner’s demotion from plainclothes drug work to pounding a beat in uniform.

· The police union and the union’s attorney bargained with the city for Kirchner “to accept responsibility in this matter and submit to a sustained finding on two accounts.” The Planet guesses — an intelligent guess, but a hunch nonetheless — that this “bargain” saved his job.

· Kircher took part in “criminal conduct.”

· Kirchner acted in a way “unbecoming an officer.”

· Kirchner acted in this manner both on and off duty (a significant revelation, the “on duty” part, that is). “On duty” means he acted criminally while wearing a badge and representing every citizen of Pittsfield.

Many Important Questions Linger

More important than the question of how the media got the story, and if the Eagle would have spiked the story had it not been for cyberjournalism, is if the city would have hidden Kircher’s alleged egregious dereliction of duty. That answer is “Yes.” The police, the mayor, the union, the lawyers, and anyone else involved would have buried this. That’s how it works in this town, except if the accused is an average citizen.

City officials would have buried this story. Kircher in all likelihood would have served his five-day suspension and that would be the end of it — except for the people who knew about it and the inevitable rumors that would follow in the wake.

Officials still have revealed crucial information:

· Was Kirchner’s suspension with or without pay? Chief Wynn: That is a straightforward and simple question. It can be answered yes or no without compromising any legal proceedings. Chief, taxpayers want to know. They want to know if a man accused of crimes receives a paid vacation as part of his punishment.

· Why is there an apparent double standard in how police are treated as opposed to ordinary citizens? This question has been asked, and this point has been brought up, brought up by numerous readers of this website and in conversation in Pittsfield (NOTE: The Planet was in Pittsfield everyday last week wearing out the rubber souls of his New Balance cross trainer’s in pursuit of this story). If the average, ordinary guy without connections gets caught, he loses his job. Officials quickly rush into print his name, address, and if he has a birthmark on his ass. Media types such as Conor Berry and Dan Valenti don’t have to act like Quixote after windmills to get the information. The DA’s office or some other agency gets the press releases out faster than you can say “This town’s quiet. Too quiet.” The police probe determined criminality on Kirchner’s part. What happens? He gets suspended (with pay, for all we know), and five days later he goes back to work.

· Why haven’t officials named the law enforcement agency involved in the overarching investigation into steroid use by city and county police officers? While we haven’t confirmed this, we have enough indications to feel comfortable sharing this much (AGAIN, UNCONFIRMED): that the two federal agencies are the Postal Service’s investigative arm, which got involved first, and the Drug Enforcement Administration, which was brought in by the USPS once Postal got a feel for the size and scope of what was happening.

· How extensive is the federal probe? They aren’t saying. They would rather cast doubt and suspicion on the entire PPD, including the many good, decent, and law-abiding officers. Granger’s report, quoted by Berry, says Kirchner “held a position of great trust in the local law enforcement community, the courts and the community at large. Based on this investigation, [Kirchner’s] conduct off duty and on duty (Planet’s emphasis) have brought reproach and discredit to both himself as a police officer and to his fellow officers. A narcotic investigator buying and selling illegal substances has committed an act that has brought great reproach and discredit upon the [Pittsfield Police] Department.”

· Are criminal charges pending?

· How many other “narcs” knew about Kirchner’s activities and said nothing?

* Is the PPD still looking at other matters that, however remote, may relate to the Kirchner case?

· Why hasn’t Chief Wynn called a press conference to address this situation? For that matter, why has the city attorney, the mayor, and District Attorney David Caepless said nothing?

· Why haven’t any city councilors issued a statement? Why hasn’t Uncle Gerry Lee, a former cop and police chief, issued a statement on behalf of the council, condemning the actions of what his own former department calls a rogue cop?Why haven’t any other councilors spoken out? They represent every person in the city of Pittsfield, their “constituents,” of whom the politicians love to love when it serves their self-interests. Where is the statement condemning Kirchner’s alleged behavior? Both city attorney Richard Dohoney and Chief Wynn cite legal reasons why they can’t talk. The Planet understands that in an investigation, they can’t reveal everything. The Planet does not buy, however, their total disregard of the public’s right to know more, even if it’s only a verbal assurance by the chief that his department is determined to find out the truth and share that truth. Remember, it was only a crusading press, in cyberspace and traditional newsprint, that forced them to say as much as they have.

The BERRY-HELLER CHRONICLES

In the utterly fascinating and informative back and forth debate between Berry and Heller on The Planet’s “comments” section (what one commentator cleverly called the “Berry-Heller Dialogues,” Berry shared other aspects of the story:

My sources tell me that this investigation came to a head in Pittsfield in early March.

By the 4th, or thereabouts, the city police department was aware of an investigation by an outside agency. By the 7th and 8th, the city’s internal affairs interviewer met with outside investigators. That same city investigator authored a report on the 10th, which concluded that Kirchner had, indeed, purchased steroids, based on information supplied to the PPD by an unnamed investigatory body.

Kirchner’s suspension presumably began on the 10th, or thereabouts, so he was effectively out of the picture. The police action, or sting, or raid at a city gym you’ve identified as Ground Zero for this probe never happened, according to my sources, which include law enforcement officials and the owners of the gym you’ve identified.

In response to The Planet’s comment that the development of this story exemplies the impact cyberjournalism is having on the media and “traditional” reportage, Berry writes:

You’re right: If EVER there were a story that perfectly illustrates the impact of New Media, it’s this one.

Why?

Here’s why: “Electronic evidence, including recorded text messages, detail the types of drugs Kirchner wanted to buy, according to the internal affairs report. Written and audio statements given by an unidentified individual to investigators indicate that ‘Kirchner purchased the illegal drugs for personal use,’ the internal report states.
“‘In the text messages, both Kirchner and [name deleted] talk openly of using steroids, buying steroids selling steroids and so on.’”

I’m embarrassed to admit, Dan, but I’m actually quoting from my own story, which quotes heavily from an internal affairs report The Eagle obtained from the PPD/City Hall on Friday. The heavily redacted document includes many potentially damning details, including these findings by the PPD: Kirchner engaged in “criminal conduct” and “conduct unbecoming of an officer.”

Frankly, I don’t see how a criminal complaint cannot be issued considering — and I quote from The Eagle article, which is slated for print publication Saturday (and online publication by roughly midnight, or thereabouts, tonight, which is technically tomorrow) — “Kirchner, ‘through his union and union attorney, had reached an agreement with the city to accept responsibility in this matter and submit to a sustained finding on two vioaltions’ of the Police Department’s rules and regulations.”

The PPD internal affairs report is plenty thorough, but much of it is heavily redacted, with thick, black ink blocking out such crucial identifiers as the investigating authority, or authorities, and the individual who allegedly sold Kirchner the “roids.”

An interesting story, nonetheless, with a tip-of-the-iceberg vibe to it. We’ll have to see what Monday brings. Will a criminal complaint be filed in Central Berkshire District Court? Will a complaint be filed in a neighboring jurisdiction, perhaps in Springfield or Northampton or Westfield or … who knows, really?

The “irony” that a drug investigator might get caught up in such a matter is somewhat of a cliché in a post-Dirty Thirty world. And who hasn’t seen “Serpico” or “Prince of the City” or even the “French Connection.” Even good guys get tempted sometimes.

The real surprise is that a cop who utilizes the latest technologies to catch bad guys could potentially be brought down by text messaging. Yet another reason why I don’t text. Don’t even know how, don’t even want to know how. I prefer the novelty of writing a letter, licking the stamp, and posting the message at my local P.O.

Also, thanks for accurately piecing out the chain of events that led to this revelation. Obviously, you and Mr. Heller are on the job, which is reassuring for anyone who values the truth. It’s a shame, however, that Mr. Heller can’t take a page from your book and avoid the incessant, nasty jabs at others who seek answers to today’s questions.

What’s that Old Memory that Recently Came Back?

One final note. This story invokes an eerie similarity to one, if memory serves correctly, that the Eagle had — we mean absolutely had nailed, signed, sealed, delivered, and confirmed — about five years ago. It involved the dealing of steroids by a member of the local law enforcement community. The story was hugely embarrassing to the county drug task force, as this one is. Because of the local “hot potato” nature of the Eagle story, “phone calls were made.”

Next thing you know, Ol Jed’s a millionaire. The case gets removed from Berkshire County and surfaces quietly in Hamden County court. After the court actions and slaps on the wrist, the person ends up being rehired a couple-three years ago as a public employee for a highly visible and influential Pittsfield Department.

The executive editor of the Eagle was the same Tim Farkas that serves in that post today. Our source says Farkas spiked the story. We’re going on memory here, with the attendant leeway, but is this true? We suggest that Conor Berry as his boss, Mr. Farkas, about this. It would be instructive to see if the newspaper, under Farkas’ direction and (perhaps?) at the order of the GOB Network, killed the story. It would also be highly relevant, if the accused in that case is still working in one of the Big 3 for the city of Pittsfield. Remember, five years, there wasn’t cyberjournalism to forced this story into the public.

Brave New World

It’s probably only a matter of time before a journalism school gets wind of this instructive civic exercise, taking place in real time and traditionally, right before our eyes. Media, politicians, police officers, anyone in the public eye, and the disappearance of personal privacy because of the omnipresence of small computers and cameras have created the Brave New World that Aldous Huxley and George Orwell wrote about so well and so long ago.

Their future has arrived, and we are all making our perilous but thrilling way along the paths (if they are there at all) of this strange reality we have created.

—————————————–

WE BID YOU ADIEU. WE ARE AWAY, AND REMEMBER, TOMORROW IS SUNDAY, OUR DAY OF REST. HAVE FUN. BE WELL. GO IN PEACE. LOVE TO ALL.

84 Responses to “THANKS TO BERRY, THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE RECLAIMS ITS PROUD NAME, FOR A DAY ANYWAY, plus, MUCH MORE ABOUT ‘STEROIDGATE’”

  1. Dusty
    March 26, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

    and one might be tempted to wonder, in light of all the secrecy, what other misbehavior might have taken place over the years that were quickly covered over by the powers that be?

  2. danbeaut
    March 26, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

    Bring back officer DUFFY. He can train the wannabe parking officer. And they let a fine individual such as the Honorable Paul Perachi go?

  3. danbeaut
    March 26, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

    You would need a calculator Dusty.

  4. just saying
    March 26, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

    Well, I guess that Mr. Berry has been allowed to report on the members of the GOB network, or those who work for them, in this case.
    If not for GH and DV I’m sure this would never have come to light.

    So has the BB turned over a new leaf?
    Have to say that is doubtful. However since they were caught trying to hide this story, maybe they will act in a more timely way in the future, if only to save face.

  5. Joe Blow
    March 26, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

    I still don’t understand how Mr. Kirchner is still on the force. Police should be held to a higher standard! We the people will be demanding Mr. Kirchner and anyone else involved be fired…..I hear a protest is being planned!

  6. edconnect
    March 26, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

    Kirchner must not have that much pull. Well at least not as much as that young punk meter maid who got arrested at the home plate. How do I know this? The” disqus” discussion for kircher is still up and running at berkshireeagle.com.. the meter maids was shut down about an hour after the article went live.

  7. Luxor Rex
    March 26, 2011 at 5:56 pm #

    SO many aspects to this story, including how it was reported, how the city tried to hide, etc. The questions raised here show theres much more yet to be found out. I join the call for the chief, mayor, council prez or ANYbody in offical capacity to say something at least admit it at leat publicly apologize at least offer reassurance it won’t happen again, at least at least … The people got no chance in the city as far as GOB etc.

  8. toto
    March 26, 2011 at 6:25 pm #

    Meter maid is stil metering? They don’t carry do they?

  9. GMHeller
    March 26, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    Yeah, that Conor Berry, a real reporter’s reporter.
    Pulitzer prize material he.

    Mr. Valenti, you quote Mr. Berry here as writing:
    “The police action, or sting, or raid at a city gym you’ve identified as Ground Zero for this probe never happened, according to my sources, which include law enforcement officials and the owners of the gym you’ve identified.”

    Yeah, we can see just how forthcoming Mr. Berry’s law enforcement sources have been throughout this federal probe of illegal steroids in Pittsfield, at least up to the day last week when PlanetValenti and Berkshire Blog broke this story.

    And talk about getting out there in front of the story.
    Here are questions posed to Mr. Berry in the comment section on PlanetValenti, March 25th.

    Conor Berry,
    Please confirm or deny:
    1. Did any reporter for The Berkshire Eagle bother to go down to Berkshire Nautilus (or hang out on the sidewalk outside the place) to interview customers or passersby who might have seen or heard something going on last week? (And ditto for the building directly across the street from BN)?
    2. Did any reporter for The Eagle go to the homes across Center Street to interview residents who might have observed anything out of the ordinary happening on Summer Street last week; and ditto for the house at the corner of Union and Center behind Berkshire Nautilus?
    3. Did any reporter for The Eagle interview anyone at The Elks Lodge (catty corner behind BN) who might have seen or heard something going down in the area last week?

    GMHeller

    ———————-

    Here is Mr. Berry’s typically snarky and snide response:

    March 25, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    I went to the Moose Lodge instead, Mr. Heller. Bad move on my part. Then I went over to the Candy Shop, where Iggy and Ponio told me, and I quote: “We ain’t seen nuttin,’ Daddy O.”

    Mr. Heller, if you received some information (in Virginia? Or is it Maryland? I can’t keep up with your address changes!) from a Pittsfield local who observed a lot of police activity outside a city health club, why don’t you just share that information on this site. Isn’t sharing good?

    As I previously stated, my sources “ain’t seen nuttin.’”

    CONOR

    SEE:
    http://planetvalenti.com/2011/03/planet-confirms-feds-probing-ppd-as-steroids-story-grows-plus-marchetti-weighs-in-and-avj-teachers-pay-in-bay-state-a-whopping-67577-a-yr/comment-page-1/#comment-17555

    So let’s see.
    Here we have The Berkshire Eagle’s senior investigative reporter apparently content to rely on law enforcement sources who plainly managed to sidetrack him weeks earlier regarding his queries.
    So our inquisitive Mr. Berry now finds himself content to go along with some quick phone calls to a local candy stand, and then to the owners of the health club, the one whose members and clientele are apparently the focus of the federal probe.
    Those owners claim not to know anything, so naturally, why bother looking further?
    Did it ever occur to Mr. Conor that at a real newspaper, a professional crime reporter would also have driven the 3500 feet up Center Street to Summer to interview clientele and members entering and/or leaving the health club?
    Those professional reporters would also be taking a few minutes to interview passersby and local residents to find a few who maybe noticed something out of the ordinary and who might likewise be able to provide background and insights.
    Given Mr. Berry’s incredible investigative prowess it’s no wonder this story ended up being forced to the surface (and down The Berkshire Eagle’s collective throat) by the unpaid, part-time efforts of Netizens (Internet denizens) like Mr. Valenti and myself.
    Keep up the great work, Mr. Berry!
    This one will be right up there on your resume of articles for the Pulitzer judges, right up there alongside your magnificent work on the Angelo Stracuzzi expose.

    • Conor Berry
      March 26, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

      Thanks, Mr. Heller. I, too, think I did a pretty good job revealing that the county’s top banker had an out-of-state criminal record. That damning information was, well, damning. Enough said.

      I’ve also conceded — that’s conceded, not conceited — that I was restrained in reporting the more tawdry details regarding allegations that Mr. Stracuzzi was out trawling for sex on the streets of Biddeford not once in the summer of 2004, but on consecutive evenings.

      So, you won, Mr. Heller. I haven’t specified who made that call, but I have specified that it wasn’t my call. I don’t get where the ambiguity creeps in for you. You seem relatively intelligent and capable of deducing who made that call.

      And speaking of specifics, I’m still waiting for you to specify whether your stalking case — like Stracuzzi’s alleged solicitation case — was dismissed. If your case resulted in something other than a dismissal, it would appear that Mr. Stracuzzi can claim the moral high ground, especially considering he didn’t go down for morals charges. Still waiting for your response, sir.

      IN the meantime, what’s with all this “snark” talk? “Snarky” is a silly word that was made popular by twentysomethings a good decade or so ago. Best to leave it alone, sir. If I ain’t hip — and I certainly ain’t — something tells me you ain’t hip, either (hep cats don’t fulminate over newspaper reporters doing their jobs).

      In terms of the illustrious P.P., well, that’s not in the cards. The only thing I want to win, Mr. Heller, is your heart.

      In terms of interviewing passersby, I do just fine checking out the lay of the land. I’m not a big fan of hanging around The Eagle newsroom, what with all those snarky elitists doing the NYTimes crossword puzzles and anguishing over what to wear to the WILCO show. And once the Tanglewood season kicks in, fuggedaboutit! Downright insufferable.

      For argument’s sake, Mr. Heller, if you’re wrong about the gym you mentioned, and it turns out to have nothing to do with this investigation, what then? If you’re right, who cares, really. It doesn’t prove anything, other than that you received accurate information. Who hasn’t received accurate information? Heck, I received accurate information from YOU, Mr. Heller. Thanks again for the PPD/MSP kernels. We popped ‘em up into popcorn. Dee-licious!

      In an effort to sound hip, peace out, Mr. Heller. “Peace,” followed by “out,” is apparently how the kids are signing off these days — and I say that without a trace of snark in my voice.

      CONOR

      • Conor Berry
        March 26, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

        Mr. Heller,

        One more thing, if you wouldn’t mind: I suppose I could make the drive down to Southern Berkshire District Court to verify the disposition of your case, but I’d much rather you simply give me a jingle with the results of your case. Or, maybe your could just write me.

        I am, as you know, a wee bit lazy.

        Thanks a bunch!
        CONOR

        • GMHeller
          March 26, 2011 at 10:30 pm #

          Conor Berry,
          As a reporter’s reporter, you of all people should be extra sensitive to any attempt by anyone anywhere to go after the messenger because the powers-that-be don’t like the message.
          Not only is this writer not the subject here, but it sounds as though your ethically-journalistically-financially-challenged bosses at The Berkshire Eagle are flummoxed as to exactly what to do about these Internet riff-raff who not only insist on scooping The Eagle but are responsible for breaking newsstories that heretofore The Eagle could successfully bury.
          What an embarrassment this must be both to the powers that be in Berkshire County as well as to those who run The Eagle.
          Welcome to the Internet.
          Berkshire County wanted to be connected and now that it has attained this connectivity, the power structure is wondering if this was such a good thing.
          Conor, it sure sounds to me like a fruitful proposition your spending some time (and Berkshire Eagle cash) down yonder in South County looking up twenty-three year-old court documents.
          Definitely a wise investment of time, since, after all, you sure have gotten to the bottom of the who, what, where, how and when of the Feds’l Anabolic Steroids probe in Pittsfield, what with that one phone call of yours to Berkshire Nautilus.
          Hey, while you’re down in Great Barrington checking out white-collar soap operas, you might also want to check out some alleged white collar crime.
          Recommend you question neighbors in the Hollenbeck Avenue area as to just how often they’ve observed a WAMC-owned vehicle with New York State plates parked overnight in the neighborhood.
          And while you’re at it, check out WAMC’s IRS Form 990 going back every year for 30 years and note the big fat ZERO on the line where WAMC is supposed to report to IRS taxable fringe benefit compensation paid to senior officers. A taxable fringe benefit includes, for example, use of a company-owned vehicle for one’s daily commute from one’s place of residence to one’s place of employment.
          It must be great being The Berkshire Eagle’s star crime reporter and then not being able to investigate, let alone report on alleged white-collar crimes taking place in the county.

          • Conor Berry
            March 27, 2011 at 5:16 am #

            Mr. Heller,

            I’m not a “star” anything, just a guy who gets paid (and a rather paltry salary) to ask questions for a living — if you can even call it a “living.”

            And actually, it was a couple phone calls to the folks at the gym you named. I called them, had a substantial conversation with an articulate chap who told me he was contacted by YOU, Mr. Heller, but he wasn’t sure whether to call you back for more info regarding this steroid scandal.

            He had the owner get back to me, and we, too, had a substantial chat. A follow-up e-mail and phone call, too.

            Nobody’s disputing the information you’ve presented to your followers; it’s just that I can’t proceed with unverifiable information. If nobody can confirm to me the physical locations of this invest, or the principal players, I’m SOL. And i’m not going to cite your blog as the source for that info. I appreciated the leads on the suspect cops, but that was verifiable information.

            That’s the difference between you and me: I’m ethical.

            Arguably, allegations of stalking boys is far worse than stalking an adult woman. But, hey, creepy is creepy, ya know what I mean. So, I’ll wait for the gas advance to get down to So. Berkshire, and I’ll be sure to bring my map and canteen.

            Peace out, Mr. Heller.

            Best,
            CONOR

      • GMHeller
        March 26, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

        Conor Berry,

        You state: “….I was restrained in reporting the more tawdry details regarding allegations that Mr. Stracuzzi was out trawling for sex on the streets of Biddeford not once in the summer of 2004, but on consecutive evenings.”
        And,
        “I haven’t specified who made that call, but I have specified that it wasn’t my call.”

        Mr. Berry, will it cost you your job if you elaborate and specify exactly who it was at The Berkshire Eagle who “restrained” your reportage of the Angelo Stracuzzi story?

        • Conor Berry
          March 26, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

          That’s a good question, Mr. Heller. I mean that sincerely. Truth be told, I’m not sure.

          How about this, though: You tell me what the disposition of your stalking case was, and I’ll tell you who muzzled me.

          Sound good?

          CONOR

          • Conor Berry
            March 26, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

            And we’ll do it right here, on Mr. Valenti’s website, Mr. Heller.

            It’ll be our own little Cuban missile crisis (mutually assured destruction?).

            CONOR

          • GMHeller
            March 26, 2011 at 11:12 pm #

            Conor Berry,
            We’ve just consulted sources at restaurants, local stores, and gas stations in Great Barrington (where you’d likely eat, fill-up, and shop while doing your research) and the word is that these merchants would prefer you to shell out as much as possible The Berkshire Eagle’s cash.
            It would be a nice change for once since usually its the other way around with merchants shelling out their cash to The Eagle for ads.
            My sources also impress upon you the need to take all the time necessary to pursue what they hope will be a thorough, in-depth, and lengthy investigation over the course of many days (stay at the Holiday Inn on State Road!) into this twenty-three year-old domestic matter involving heterosexuals (admittedly a rare subject for consideration within the editorial corridors at The Eagle).

            Conor, forget this silly federal probe into anabolic steroids dealing in Pittsfield.
            Drop everything and head to South County ASAP.
            Oh, and speaking of illegal drug use, bring Clarence Fanto along to report in depth on all the fun South County places James Taylor visited while in drug rehab at Austen Riggs.

      • Luxor Rex
        March 27, 2011 at 8:47 am #

        conor berry SHOULd get a pulitzer for condemning the word “snarky” Anything invented by a 20Something needs to be dissed. Someone else said it but Mr CB has a “wicked” sense og humor

  10. Sherika Hojeij
    March 26, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

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  11. CONCERNED
    March 26, 2011 at 10:02 pm #

    Oh do I detect that GM Heller has a a skeleton or two Oh I thought he might be without sin

  12. GMHeller
    March 27, 2011 at 12:14 am #

    Conor Berry:
    You write:
    “For argument’s sake, Mr. Heller, if you’re wrong about the gym you mentioned, and it turns out to have nothing to do with this investigation, what then? If you’re right, who cares, really. It doesn’t prove anything, other than that you received accurate information. Who hasn’t received accurate information?”

    Conor, it’s as though you are intentionally playing MIckey the Dunce.
    Why do YOU suppose a gymnasium/fitness center would figure prominently in an investigation into illegal anabolic steroids use?
    And by the way, if any sales were going down in Berkshire Nautilus’ parking lot then whether or not BN’s owners knew what was going down, it still would be considered an illegal activity taking place within the boundaries of BN’s property (and within that legally significant 1000-foot ‘School Zone’).

    • Conor Berry
      March 27, 2011 at 4:49 am #

      Mr. Heller,

      I’ll take that as a “No” on the revelations front?

      C’mon, man, you could play Nikita, and I’d play Jack, of course, since I’m one of those Mickey the Dunce types.

      Hmmm. “Mickey” — was that intended as an ethnic barb? Ahh, who cares. Being insulted by you is rather like being licked by a sloppy sheep dog — it makes me chuckle!

      JT? I’m not a fan, really, so I’m not really interested in whether his past drug problems pertained to hitting the hard stuff or the “juice.” Come to think of it, I did notice his bulging forearms gripping his acoustic guitar in an Eagle file photo.

      I suppose I’ll have to ask my boss to loan me a couple of bucks to fill up my Pinto for the ride down to “Barrington” — it sounds so regal when you leave out the “Great” for some reason. Real classy and elitist.

      At least I’ll be looking into a “hetero” domestic.

      CONOR

      • GMHeller
        March 27, 2011 at 7:53 am #

        When you get down to Great Barrington, eat breakfast and lunch at Martin’s at the top of Railroad Street. The food is great and within The Berkshire Eagle’s price range.
        Stop in at The Eagle’s South County Bureau and make sure if no one’s there to greet you when you get there, to close the side and rear windows, turn out the lights, and lower the heat when you leave.
        Stay at the Holiday Inn on State Road, the inn is relatively new and could use the customers.
        Oh, and don’t forget to make your inquiries (outlined in an earlier comment above) in the neighborhood surrounding Hollenbeck Avenue — since you might as well get some real bang for The Eagle’s buck.
        Remember, you’re looking for neighbors who can acknowledge seeing parked overnight regularly over the past 30 years any vehicle that might appear to be owned by WAMC Northeast Public Radio, meaning it will have New York State license plates in addition of course to having WAMC insignia and/or bumper stickers.
        And bring Clarence Fanto anyway — he can do the driving.
        Can’t wait to hear how this trip goes.
        Bon voyage!

        • Conor Berry
          March 27, 2011 at 8:17 am #

          Hey, Mr. Heller.

          This beef you have with Mr. Chartock … is it a simple case of company-car envy?

          Just curious. I suppose you have to work for a company to get company-car privileges.

          Something tells me you’re not the worker type, what with your white-collar domestics and all.

          CONOR

          • GMHeller
            March 27, 2011 at 8:44 am #

            Conor Berry,

            What you claim is “this beef …with Mr. Chartock” is the same “beef” there was in breaking the story about US Postal Inspection Service’s acknowledgment of an on- going investigation in Pittsfield.

            White -collar crime is white collar crime.
            Like you, I report what I uncover through research, ‘due dilligence’, and information passed to me via confidential verifiable sources.
            (Unlike you, though, I do not get paid for doing this.)

            You found my USPIS information to be correct regarding the Steroid’s probe; why do you so easily dismiss the veracity of information reported on my Web sites and blogs regarding WAMC’s long-time failure to report to IRS the taxable fringe benefit compensation it pays its chief executive?
            The only difference in any of this appears to be that I reported the USPIS information on March 21st last week, whereas I have now been reporting FOR YEARS on WAMC’s blatant disregard for IRS regulations.
            Last week, reporter’s reporters like you decided to take a closer look at that USPIS report.
            Not to worry, on the WAMC matter, there’s still plenty of time, since there is NO statute of limitations on this area of IRS regulations.

          • GMHeller
            March 27, 2011 at 10:38 am #

            Conor Berry:

            Do you have the stones to investigate whether tax-exempt WAMC Northeast Public Radio, Inc. is failing to report to IRS the taxable fringe benefit compensation it pays its CEO?

            If your bosses at The Berkshire Eagle either refuse to give you permission to investigate the matter, or refuse to publish the story you write, would you be willing to let Planet Valenti publish it?

      • GMHeller
        March 27, 2011 at 7:59 am #

        Conor Berry,
        Almost forgot.
        On your trip to Great Barrington: In the evening, go to Price Chopper (right near Holiday Inn).
        If you get there before 7PM, the store is bound still to have plenty of fried chicken at the deli counter.
        It’s excellent and definitely within The Berkshire Eagle’s current price range!

        • Conor Berry
          March 27, 2011 at 6:55 pm #

          Mmm, I love fried chicken! Thanks for the tip. Now, all I need is the name and number of that tipster who confirmed to you that the gym is involved in this steroid investigation. So I can verify it, and all that silly stuff.

          CONOR

  13. GMHeller
    March 27, 2011 at 7:29 am #

    Conor Berry,
    You write:
    “And actually, it was a couple phone calls to the folks at the gym you named. I called them, had a substantial conversation with an articulate chap who told me he was contacted by YOU, Mr. Heller, but he wasn’t sure whether to call you back for more info regarding this steroid scandal.
    He had the owner get back to me, and we, too, had a substantial chat. A follow-up e-mail and phone call, too.”

    Thank you for confirming to the cognoscenti here at PlanetValenti that indeed this allegedly unethical rumor-mongering blogger did his ‘due diligence’ in at least attempting to contact the gym’s owners, providing to them with call back information, and making a good faith request to be given that call back.
    Intriguing they would tell you all this but fail just to call me back.

    Now Conor, since you acknowledge speaking with those owners and BN employees, please enlighten all of us to the extent of your conversations with them.
    Did you inquire specifically whether or not:
    a. In the last few months any of these people to whom you spoke have been aware of any of their clientele acknowledging use of anabolic steroids or seeking advice on same from BN personnel?
    b. Any of the people to whom you spoke were aware of any sales of anabolic steroids inside the building or outside in the building’s surrounding parking areas?
    c. Either of the two police officers (PPD and MSP) so far sidelined in the federal probe either worked out at Berkshire Nautilus or were members?
    d. Other Pittsfield Police Department personnel work out at that establishment?
    e. Other Mass. State Police personnel work out there?
    f. Local bankers and lawyers work out there?
    g. Local politicos of note work out there?

    Surely, reporter’s reporter that you are, you did ask exactly such questions,so please inform us as to what answers you elicited.
    You need not of course name your specific source on any of your answers to any of the above questions.

    • Conor Berry
      March 27, 2011 at 7:49 am #

      Mr. Heller,

      Again, your points spin off into oblivion. Noboby disputes anything about your original naming of said establishment. What sparked this, this … colloquy, or whatever it amounts to, is me explaining to you why I didn’t name the estalbishment you named. Why? Because newspapers are not allowed to print lines such as this: “We hear that the gym, [insert name here], was the scene of a sting operation last week.”

      This is not a literal quotation from your earlier posts, but rather an example of what newspapers don’t do: We don’t cite “rumors” — again, the very word you used in your initial post about this matter — although we DO hunt them down.

      Again, I’ve credited you for providing some good info, and I verified what I could, advancing this story accordingly. What I couldn’t verify from a variety of sources, however, was whether any sort of police action, be it a raid, a sting operation or anything else that might make a civilian on the street say, ”Hey, what are all those police cruisers doint at that joint?” took place at the facility you identified in your post.

      Simply put, I can’t believe that I have to hyper-focus on such simple elements of Journalism 101 in these exchanges with you, newspapers don’t publish rumors. Because some rumors are actually facts masquerading as rumors, we hunt rumors with the hope of uncovering facts.

      Once again, you, Mr. Heller, were apparently able to verify something The Eagle wasn’t able to verify, so bully for you. Frankly, I’m getting tired of complimenting you, considering this love affair ain’t mutual. You, however, won’t reveal anything about the source, or sources, that told you this gym was at the epicenter of this steroid investigation. You demand all sorts of explanations from the media — me, in particular — yet you never reveal the methodology of your own due diligence. That leads to speculation, as you know. Speculation that you “publish” rumors, hoping they turn out to be facts.

      If/when legal documentation (court papers, affidvaits, applications for criminal complaints, copies of search warrants, etc.) are made public, you can log on to http://www.berkshireeagle.com to learn the facts. Hang tight, bro.

      CONOR

      • GMHeller
        March 27, 2011 at 8:09 am #

        Conor Berry:
        WHOA! Hold on their now, pardner!
        You young whippersnappers write so fast it took me a moment to realize there was something missing from your response.
        You forgot to answer the questions put to you:

        Did you inquire of the Berkshire Nautilus owners and employees to whom you spoke specifically whether or not:
        a. In the last few months any of these people to whom you spoke have been aware of any of their clientele acknowledging use of anabolic steroids or seeking advice on same from BN personnel?
        b. Any of the people to whom you spoke were aware of any sales of anabolic steroids inside the building or outside in the building’s surrounding parking areas?
        c. Either of the two police officers (PPD and MSP) so far sidelined in the federal probe either worked out at Berkshire Nautilus or were members?
        d. Other Pittsfield Police Department personnel work out at that establishment?
        e. Other Mass. State Police personnel work out there?
        f. Local bankers and lawyers work out there?
        g. Local politicos of note work out there?

        Again, Conor, please inform us as to the answers you elicited to these questions you obvious must have asked as a reporter’s reporter (and of course keep the name of your specific source confidential).

        • Conor Berry
          March 27, 2011 at 8:24 am #

          Mr. Heller,

          I can’t answer questions I don’t have answers to, and I’m being honest, not evasive. You, on the other hand, can’t seem to respond to simple queries:

          1. Were you acquitted of all charges?
          2. Who provided you with information that a Pittsfield gym was involved in this investigation?

          C,’mon, you already helped me with the PPD/MSP angle, so why not reveal your sources on the gym angle, so I can indpendently verify this information and include it in an article.

          Maybe I’ll even credit your blog this time. How’s this deal sound? Almost as good as my Cuban Missile Crisis offer?

          Excuse me, Mr. Heller. I’m feeling a wee bit lazy; time for a snooze.

          BEST,
          Conor

          • GMHeller
            March 27, 2011 at 10:18 am #

            Conor Berry:
            You still don’t get it, pal.
            Neither Berkshire Blog, nor WAMC Northeast Pirate Network, nor WAMC Pirates’ Blog, nor Planet Valenti, nor Dan Valenti, nor this writer are the subjects here for investigation and dissection.
            Messengers like us are simply filling in for where The Berkshire Eagle has been noticeably — make that, incredibly — deficient in reporting unexpurgated the news relevant to and about Berkshire County.
            By the way Conor, you never answered the question posted above as to just how long it would have taken for The Berkshire Eagle finally to come around to reporting on the federal probe into illegal steroids use had neither Valenti nor myself posted our respective articles?

  14. rick
    March 27, 2011 at 8:05 am #

    sounds like its personal with u 2…. conor did a good job on the story, as did you and dan.. and im sure there is more on the way,this story isnt going away any time soon.. i think conors hands are tied by legal reasons, he has to be right on with checking his facts or the eagle and himself open themself up for a law suit…. i always say about the eagle, better late than never for the news but it looks like w/ conor we might get it earlier.

    • GMHeller
      March 27, 2011 at 8:19 am #

      Rick, what lawsuits?
      The Berkshire Eagle is judgment proof.
      It’s assets are already spoken for and all tied up.
      It’s parent company is in debt to the tune of higher than even a Pittsfield City Councilor or Mayor can count when signing off on the latest collective bargaining agreement between the city and public employee unions.
      The Eagle could print anything — even that Barack Obama was born in Kenya — and not worry about having to pay out in a lawsuit!

      • reality check
        March 27, 2011 at 8:54 am #

        So whats the deal about you being a stalker?

        • GMHeller
          March 27, 2011 at 10:29 am #

          Read all about it in The Berkshire Eagle, available at your local newsstand, the cover story bylined Conor Berry and Clarence Fanto. Pictures of scantily-clad women and fast cars.
          We here are already negotiating the movie and television offers.
          I’ve already made it known to CBS and FOX that no way is Charlie Sheen to play my character.

  15. Josh
    March 27, 2011 at 9:22 am #

    I kind of had a feeling after a while, Planet Valenti would become Planet Heller…

    • Dusty
      March 27, 2011 at 9:41 am #

      well maybe we can limit him to 300 words a day and if he gets to be too much we can vote him off the island

  16. rick
    March 27, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    you guys are a riot, it looks like hes stalking the planet now

  17. PCP
    March 27, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

    I’m referencing some info from the Payroll Patriot and using Vince Lombardi quote to the battling bloggers “What the hell is going on out there.”

  18. toto
    March 27, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    Berry has nothing on Heller concerning stories involving local police or politics, or laws. You may not like his politics, he speaks the truth when it comes to the law and also has a colorful tone. By no means is Berry in his league. If Berry had any brains he would know who should be investigating any criminal or law that has been broken, whether it be political, municipal, civil.

    • Conor Berry
      March 27, 2011 at 4:19 pm #

      Toto,

      Thank goodness I’m not in his league. As G.W. once said, and I paraphrase: “Associate with men of good character, if you esteem your own reputation.”

      I have a general policy of NOT hanging out with convicted criminals. It’s that ethical streak in me, I suppose.

      In terms of me knowing “who should be investigating any criminal or law that has been broken, whether it be political, municipal, civil,” I can’t even decipher what this means.

      Unlike Commissioner Gordon, I don’t have a cherry-red phone that dials directly to the bat cave. I cultivate sources the old-fashioned way: by making relationships with people who are in positions to offer sound, usually accurate information.

      All I’ve asked of Mr. Heller is to share how he learned about the health club angle, so I can pursue it with gusto. I’ve also asked him to verify his criminal record, or lack thereof (folks, I could walk the 30 feet to The Eagle’s reference librarian and ask her to pull the paper clips file, consiedering the vintage of Mr. Heller’s “23-year-old, white-collar domestic,” as he rationalizes his own transgression. But, as Mr. Heller, who knows me better than my own mother, has already pointed out on countless occasions, I’m lazy!).

      Frankly, nobody cares about Mr. Heller’s stalking case. I was merely trying to point out his hypocrisy regarding the Stracuzzi matter. We reported on the crimes Mr. Stracuzzi was convicted of, and we eventually reported on the solicitation charges — the ones Stracuzzi wasn’t convicted of. Sorry to end on a preposition, but this is a colloquial forum, I’m assuming. Mr. Heller is hell bent on The Eagle revealing all the underlying, tawdry details about Mr. Stracuzzi’s soon-to-be 7-year-old Maine criminal case, even though Mr. Stracuzzi wasn’t convicted of those disturbing charges.

      All I’m asking Mr. Heller to do is shed some light on his own disturbing criminal charges, the ones he either WAS or WASN’T convicted of. Yes, predatory behavior is obviously more disturbing when the targets are young teenage boys. But any sort of predatory behavior — including Mr. Heller’s alleged abhorrent proclivities — is equally disturbing, albeit on a lesser scale, perhaps.

      So, in summation, Mr. Heller still won’t share his information, yet he expects me to share with him. Once again, Mr. Heller, tell me the disposition of your criminal case (you’re probably saying to yourself, “which one?”), and I’ll tell you who restrained me from reporting the whole, tawdry Stracuzzi enchilada.

      Meet me here at noon tomorrow, when the stage coach rolls into town. The guy with enchilada and sombrero, well, that’d be me, pardner …

      • danvalenti
        March 27, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

        CONOR
        Yes, it’s a colloquial forum. Your wordsmithing is safe.

    • danvalenti
      March 27, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

      The Planet will accept both of them, actually.

  19. rick
    March 27, 2011 at 4:05 pm #

    stop your sqabbling boys! as long as news is told who cares if you asked this question or that question, my main concern is for the safety of the people out there that may get pulled over and may incounter a roiding policeman or a state policeman.. steroids are a mood altering drug and the users are unpredictable,and in this case armed!!!!!!

    • Conor Berry
      March 27, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

      I here you, Rick.

      I’m just giving Heller a thorough vetting to see how honest, truthful and omniscient he actually is. The sort of daily scrutiny he applies to the city of Pittsfield, GE, Berkshire County, The Eagle, Alan Chartock, Clarence Fanto, and now, unfortunately, me apparently. I signed up for Heller’s hell and, well, I’ll have to slather on some extra-heavy-duty sunblock to avoid incineration.

      This all started when I told Mr. Heller that no one — read: an official who could speak in an official capacity — could verify that this steroid investigatioin was linked to a local health club/gym. Might this information be shared with the media/public in the near future, especially if criminal charges are filed against these cops? One would certainly hope so.

      For now, though, the only revealing information that has been publicly released has been a heavily redacted internal affairs report from the PPD, which omits the name(s) of the investigating agency(ies) and any other crucial, identifying factors such as the location of the investigation, its targets, etc., etc.

      Bizarrely, Mr. Heller has focused on what he believes is The Eagle’s failure to learn whether or not the health club is involved in this investigation. Frankly, I’d rather learn the identity of the state trooper first, considering he might be facing criminal charges.

      If a health club and its owners, customers or employees, for that matter, are any way tied in to some sort of alleged criminality, I’m sure we’ll learn about this sooner rather than later.

      I agree, Rick, that the real issue should be examining whether he have two cops using roids, 20 cops using roads, or 200 cops all juiced up and ready to roll. A frightening scenario, indeed.

      Thanks,
      CONOR

      • GMHeller
        March 27, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

        Mr. Valenti,
        Note how your paragon of modern journalism, Conor Berry, so typifies The Berkshire Eagle modus operandi of holding up for ridicule and shame the few in order hopefully to protect the many politically-connected who are guilty of the very same illegal anabolic steroid use.
        Two cops, a Pittsfield Police Department officer and a Mass State Police trooper are so far the sacrificial lambs.
        The Eagle and powers-that-be in Pittsfield are praying that the sacrifice of these two may avert attention away from the many others who are plainly involved in this scandal including local business executives, lawyers, and perhaps even local politicos.
        Note how Mr. Berry wishes to spend his time getting the name of that sacrificial trooper rather than spend any time interviewing folks in and around Berkshire Nautilus to get insight into just how pervasive the problem of illegal steroid use might be in Pittsfield and who else might be caught up in this unfolding scandal.
        Why isn’t Mr. Berry interested in finding out the name of that other “unidentified” person on the PPD Internal Affairs report he spent so much effort in getting released?
        Please note that the federal probe seems to center (at least in part) around Berkshire Nautilus, or so one would be led to believe.
        USPIS’s public information officer confirmed existence of the investigation based on “the question of whether U.S. Postal Inspection Service personnel were present at, or involved in, an investigation conducted within the past fourteen (14) days into anabolic steroids allegedly being delivered via U.S.Postal Service (or other package delivery service) to an address at or near an enterprise doing business as Berkshire Nautilus (a so-called fitness center), which firm is located at 42 Summer Street in Pittsfield, Massachusetts 01201.”

        Mind, this is not to infer that the owners of Berkshire Nautilus were or were not aware of what was happening on their premises or in the attached parking lots.
        It just means that stuff was going down and it is likely that members or clientele of BN were involved.
        Sure Conor Berry, let’s spend time finding out the name of that Mass. State Police officer so that he like his fellow PPD officer, can now be cruciified in the pages of The Eagle.
        It sure beats finding out just how extensive Pittsfield’s steroid problem actually is and who else in the local universe of notables might also be involved.

        • Conor Berry
          March 28, 2011 at 4:22 am #

          Mr. Heller,

          I just don’t get it. I really don’t. I’m interested in every aspect of this story, from who’s involved to where the drugs were distributed and came from.

          Talk about a mocking tone … all you do is deride and chide local newspaper reporters for not doing their jobs as you see fit. When someone points out that all you’ve done is publish a rumor on your blog, and that rumor has since been verified and checked carefully, morphing into a legit newspaper article, you get all hissy and pissy.

          I’ve thanked you for the kernels, I’ve asked you for more, and I’ve asked you for updates on your own due diligence, considering you are a citizen journalist who knows how to do the job better than most.

          There’s no lack of interest in the story on my end, or my boss’s end. You are, I’m afraid, a trifle wound up. The Eagle will be publishing many more stories, as soon as we finish researching and writing them. Can’t force people to speak with us, and we certainly can’t manufacture the news. We seek truths, and apparently this irks you to the core.

          I have no knowledge of this investigation, its scope and targets, other than what I’ve reported. Am I eager to learn more from anyone who can point me in the right direction? Yes, I am. I’ll even take tips from you, Mr. Heller.

          On that note, who tipped you off about the local gym? On antoher matter, what was the disposition of your stalking case?

          See you at noon?

          CONOR

          • GMHeller
            March 28, 2011 at 8:35 am #

            Conor Berry,

            You insist on spending time going after the name of a Mass. State Police trooper, but where are your interviews with Berkshire Nautilus clientele and those who frequent other gymnasium facilities around the city and county asking those folks just how pervasive in the county is the use of illegal anabolic steroids?
            Surely this might give readers an idea of just how many local executive, professionals and notables, other than police, might end up being caught up in this federal investigation.

            Further, have you inquired yet of your editors why The Berkshire Eagle has totally removed all links to your original two articles from its current and recent news stories (listed on the left two thirds of The Eagle’s main web page)?
            Your excellent article of Saturday, March 26, for example, reporting on the Pittsfield Police Dept.’s Internal Affairs report is now totally gone from The Eagle’s main page. (And Conor, I am NOT referring to ‘Most Emailed’ nor ‘Most Viewed’ articles listed on the right third of the main web page.)
            Whereas, of course, readers are still being regaled with an assortment of articles as far back as Friday such as “Some county coaches leading multiple teams”.
            The Berkshire Eagle is burying its own articles about the federal steroids probe and you know it, so at least please be honest with PlanetValenti’s readers.
            Oh, and while you are so concerned about getting the name of the as yet unnamed Mass. State Police trooper, where is the name of the other ‘unidentified’ PPD employee you yourself referred to in Saturday’s article about the PPD’s IA report?
            Regarding dog-and-pony shows in Great Barrington’s local district court, you are going to have to spend some of The Eagle’s money that it apparently gets by gouging advertisers and spend time and energy doing the research.
            SEE:
            http://www.topix.net/forum/city/pittsfield-ma/TLQ4328DMSU0DVV1L

  20. GMHeller
    March 27, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    Mr. Valenti,
    It looks like The Berkshire Eagle has already lost that “proud name” about which you were in such rapture yesterday.

    Check out Sunday’s Berkshire Eagle (March 27).
    All mention of the federal Steroids probe is gone from the main Web page.
    Nothing either on the editorial page nor on the letters to the editor page.
    Most local Eagle stories take days to cycle out from the main web page.
    Today, there is not one link to any of the articles about the federal investigation.
    For example, Conor Berry’s article dated YESTERDAY, Saturday March 26, “Documents reveal evidence of officer’s steroid use” is TOTALLY GONE!
    Once again The Berkshire Eagle shows one and all what it’s really all about.
    SEE:
    http://www.berkshireeagle.com/

    Hey Conor Berry, are you listening?

    • danvalenti
      March 27, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

      GMH
      I’ve been out all day today. Have they? That has a redolence about it that reminds me of the backed up Porta-Sans at Woodstock.

    • Conor Berry
      March 27, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

      Mr. Heller,

      It’s my understanding that the stories on the website cycle on or off the site depending on their popularity. If people start reading other stuff, that stuff rises in the “popularity” ranking lists over on the right side.

      It’s an automated process, in other words. Not a human process. Some days, out of the clear blue sky, and old story will suddently show back up due to heavy commenting. In some cases, someone will “search” a story and comment on it. If the comments continue to build, that story might pop up on one of the most-viewed lists.

      Hate to rain on a conspiracy theory, Mr. Heller, but it’s really just that simple.

      Any thoughts on a noontime showdown? Heller’s criminal record vs. who killed the Stracuzzi story, that is. Yeah, it’s not the Thriller in Manilla, but it could be cathartic for you.

      Adios,

      CONOR

      • Conor Berry
        March 27, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

        Oh, yes, Mr. Heller …

        I almost forgot: If you want the steroid story to get back in circulation on The Eagle website, type in my name in the search menu, then highlight the roid story, then keep closing it and reopening it until it shows back up on the list. This method does work, but it is a royal pain the rump, mind you.

        Not to worry, Mr. Heller, I have a good deal more to write about this matter for tomorrow’s paper, the next day’s paper, and so on. I’m looking forward to how you advance this story, Mr. Heller. What are your people in Manassas (sp?), Bethesda and Alexandria telling you?

        Also, if you share who confirmed that a certain health club is involved, however directly or tangentially, I’ll share some dope with you. “Information” dope, not the real stuff, of course.

        CONOR

      • GMHeller
        March 27, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

        Yeah, automated process.
        Let’s blame it on the computer.
        Sure Conor, we know that the article “Some towns worry about broadband’s ‘last mile’” is generating a lot more interest than the federal steroids probe.
        Conor, you are asking us to believe a faantasy.
        Get your head right, pal.

        • Conor Berry
          March 27, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

          Mr. Heller,

          The Eagle newsroom on a Sunday day, let alone Sunday night, is very similar to a mortuary. It’s not mission control over at NAS, in other words, with banks of computers and eggheads tapping away.

          The story will be back in circulation on the website tomorrow, as soon as the online editor is back on duty and as soon as I file another story — with more compelling info. Again, what’s the scuttlebutt in Chevy Chase? What are you hearing?

          I realize sharing is akin to socialism in your world, but that’s how adults play. You help me, I’ll help you get to the bottom of the Great Stracuzzi Coverup.

          I’m usually not the deal-making type, but I can’t believe you’re dissing me like this, yo.

          Convicted criminal or not? Give me the scoop and I’ll give you the scoop. It’s wicked simple.

          See you at noon …

          JUAN CARLOS RAMIREZ

      • GMHeller
        March 27, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

        Conor Berry,
        Sorry pal, but Great Barrington’s merchants need The Berkshire Eagle’s money far more than anyone at this end needs catharsis.
        Besides, Martin’s is a great place to have lunch.

        • Conor Berry
          March 27, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

          Mr. Heller,

          You could be right, except Singleton’s out of the picture. I thought you kept up with Media News gossip?

          Why don’t you give the paper a ring and ask them what’s up. I’m off duty for several more hours, and I’m about to — what else — take a snooze in the LayZboy.

          Yaaawn!

          Good night, Glenn.

        • Conor Berry
          March 27, 2011 at 5:24 pm #

          MARTINS is good, Mr. Heller, but I’m not sure if there’s any possession there. If me and my family owned the joint collectively, it would be BERRYS, with no possession. But maybe there’s just one Martin, and the restaurant name siginfies his lone ownership. If that’s the case, then MARTIN’S is correct. Please get back to me on that one, too.

          I’ll find out the disposition of your criminal case, but guess what I WON’T do? I won’t post my findings on any online blog in an effort to shame you, or anyone who loves you. Why? Because I’m a classy guy, Mr. Heller.

          Stay classy,
          CONOR

          • GMHeller
            March 27, 2011 at 6:46 pm #

            Conor Berry,
            You write,
            “I’ll find out the disposition of your criminal case, but guess what I WON’T do? I won’t post my findings on any online blog in an effort to shame you, or anyone who loves you. Why? Because I’m a classy guy, Mr. Heller.”

            Conor, spare us your self-laudatory adoration.
            You are again being misleading and disingenuous, and just minutes after your last attempt to mislead with your lame excuse for The Eagle’s deletion of its federal probe articles.
            Now, you are asking PlanetValenti’s readers to believe that The Berkshire Eagle editors are willing to expend company resources to send you on a research mission to South County to re-research a story Derek Gentile wrote twenty-three years ago.
            The fact that The Eagle already has a South County bureau entirely capable of doing the same research is of course of no consequence here because obviously The Eagle editors want their senior crime reporter on this new project.
            And PlanetValenti’s readers are being told straight-faced by you that this is all being done NOT to cause shame to the guy who happens to have forced to the surface two stories that The Eagle and Pittsfield’s powers-that-be would surely have preferred to see buried: the exposure of Angelo Stracuzzi as a [man initially charged with being and alleged] pedophile predator of 13 and 15 year-old boys [EDITOR'S NOTE: Those two counts against Mr. Stracuzzi were dropped]; and the current revelation as to the existence of a federal probe into illegal Anabolic Steroid dealing that threatens to engulf members of the Pittsfield police force as well as other prominent names in town.

            Conor, do you really expect PlanetValenti’s readers to swallow such incredibly disingenuous hogwash?

      • GMHeller
        March 27, 2011 at 5:44 pm #

        Conor Berry,

        You write:
        “It’s my understanding that the stories on the website cycle on or off the site depending on their popularity. If people start reading other stuff, that stuff rises in the “popularity” ranking lists over on the right side.
        It’s an automated process, in other words. Not a human process. Some days, out of the clear blue sky, and old story will suddently show back up due to heavy commenting. In some cases, someone will “search” a story and comment on it. If the comments continue to build, that story might pop up on one of the most-viewed lists.
        Hate to rain on a conspiracy theory, Mr. Heller, but it’s really just that simple.”

        Conor, are you able to write a single paragraph without being misleading and disingenuous?
        You fail to mention two thirds of the web site — the two columns to the left.
        Those two columns are plainly controlled by an editor and stories are added and subtracted at will — IN ANY AMOUNT.
        Plainly the will of your superiors at The Berkshire Eagle is to bury as much as possible all mention of the federal probe.
        Remember, I didn’t use the word ‘conspiracy’, YOU did.

        • Conor Berry
          March 27, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

          Mr. Heller,

          I hate to break it to you, but The Eagle loves a good story, especially one in which the good guys are alleged to be sort of like the bad guys. Our interest in such a topic should be obvious, and we’ve written a good deal about law enforcement officers who’ve run afoul of the law in recent years (Mantello, Duffy, Stimpson, etc).

          This story is still in its fledgling stages. That’s it. No conspiracy to duck and run, bob and weave, etc. What you fail to accept — and this is utterly mind-boggling — is that The Berkshire Eagle learned about this steroid scandal from YOU. That means (A) we read your blog, and (B) we were pretty bummed out to learn that Glenn Heller broke a pretty big, interesting story. It pains me to admit it, but you did, and I’ve given you credit for planting the seeds. Since then, though, you haven’t bothered to fertilize.

          Despite all this, you insist that we’re somehow complicit in a coverup. Let me repeat all this to you again, and I’ll be as blunt as possible:
          1. I read your blog post, and the information it contained was news to me.
          2. I recalled being told several weeks back that a certain Pittsfield cop was in some sort of trouble, but I couldn’t get any confirmation and no criminal charges had been filed locally — and I was told criminal charges were unlikely.
          3. I sat on that info until I learned more.
          4. I learned more by reading your blog, which resulted in a minor deduction on my part that the PPD “detective” might be the guy I was looking in to.
          5. After getting confirmation, I proceeded with the two articles that have been published to date. More are likely over the next few days.

          I hope this ends any theories you might have about suppressing crime stories involving cops. For a guy who so closely watches The Eagle’s website, you’re apparently woefully ignorant of how the stories cycle through the site. The stories on the site right now, for example, are the same A section and B section stories that appear in today’s print edition. News from the previous day always gets bumped down the priority scale, regardless of how seemingly important it is.

          FYI, the roid story is still lingering on the most-read list at last check.

          During the daytime hours, when an editor who monitors the Disqus forums is on duty, that editor answers some questions posed by readers, while spiking other comments — the ones that are deemed inflammatory, defamatory, racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. The terms of useage are clear at the bottom of the forum. Topix turned into a public lynching forum, frankly, so Disqus is intended to raise the level of discourse, etc.

          I understand that you’re angry about being banned from Disqus, but that’s not my gig.

          Are we still on for noon tomorrow?

          CONOR

          • GMHeller
            March 27, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

            Can’t wait for noon, Monday, to spend The Berkshire Eagle’s money.
            While waiting for Conor Berry to pose incisive questions, recommend everyone tune to WAMC:
            At noon, it’s Midday Magazine, followed at 1PM by VoxPop, and then The Media Project.
            On VoxPop, WAMC’s 6,900 listeners are sure to be out in force: it’s Best of Medical Monday!
            It’s going to be an exciting day, manana.

          • GMHeller
            March 28, 2011 at 9:06 am #

            Conor Berry,
            It’s noon; where are you?

      • just saying
        March 27, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

        @ MR. Berry

        Wow, your attacks on GH are pathetic. Why don’t you stand up like a man and give some resolution to his questions?
        He has not attacked you personally, yet all you do is bring up 30+ year old charges. I understand that you are having a difficult time responding to Mr. Hellers inquistions.
        However you continue to lower yourself by attacking a man at a personal level when he is questioning you about your work, ie reporting the truth.

        Conor, I hope that my post is
        Ar tic u late enough for you.
        Your attacks on peoples posts show that you are on the wrong side of this story.
        Your attacks are petty, proving that your arguments are weak.

        • reality check
          March 28, 2011 at 5:16 am #

          Just Saying === Glen Heller ?

          • GMHeller
            March 28, 2011 at 10:25 am #

            @reality check
            Not bloody likely, pal.
            Mr. Valenti, please confirm for ‘reality check’ that I am not affiliated with any other poster on this site.

          • danvalenti
            March 28, 2011 at 11:15 am #

            @RC
            I can confirm, “reality check” is not Glenn Heller.

      • Bee Gee
        March 28, 2011 at 7:39 am #

        Conor is correct. I work at there. The automated process is terrible. As he says no human monitors this. It’s numbers and machine driven. Problem is, with a hot story like this that certain local people of imprtance may find embarrassing, they can get “stooges” to just click on other stories to such a degree that the hot one disappears. That’s my guess that this happened here., judging by some of the information I’ve seen.

        • GMHeller
          March 28, 2011 at 8:48 am #

          @BeeGee,
          The articles The Berkshire Eagle editors post to the left two thirds of the main Web page are NOT computer-driven (in terms of their remaining on, and being cycled off, that main Web page).
          That listing of current and recent articles is editor-determined both for placement as well as most recent.
          For exaqmple, there are articles from Friday, of far less local interest than the federal steroids probe, that yet remain listed (on the left two-thirds of the main web page).
          Do you doubt that The Eagle’s editors are burying the papers own articles about the federal steroids probe?

  21. GMHeller
    March 27, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

    Conor Berry, why don’t you call over to that Einstein who runs the Web site and tell him to post both of the most recent articles back onto The Berkshire Eagle’s web page.
    I bet if Dean Singleton called him, those two articles would be back on the site by the time I got to the period at the end of this sentence.

  22. eric vincelette
    March 27, 2011 at 5:39 pm #

    Riveting….akin to Ali vs Frazier trading shots…well, maybe that’s a bit much, but fascinating dialogue just the same guys…don’t your wives make you do any chores on Sunday?

    • Conor Berry
      March 27, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

      Yes, Eric, mine does. But in between cleaning the toilets and taking out the trash, I do like to see what’s bugging Mr. Heller.

      Responding to Mr. Heller is probably not the wisest move on my part, but hey, it beats working.

      CONOR

      • reality check
        March 28, 2011 at 5:17 am #

        Mr Berry, Keep up the good work! Be careful of Mr. Heller …

        • GMHeller
          March 28, 2011 at 9:01 am #

          Mr.Valenti,
          Nice to know that those who want to kill the messenger because they don’t like the message are being allowed to post slander onto the comments section in your Web site.
          Please identify this poster publicly so that your readers can know just who it is that is anonymously spreading this misinformation with obvious malicious intent.
          Thank you.

        • GMHeller
          March 28, 2011 at 10:30 am #

          @reality check,
          Why would Conor Berry need to “Be careful of Mr. Heller”?
          Plainly, you are yet another poster here who wants to slime the messenger because the message is not to his/her liking.
          Plus, you are a cowardly wimp as well, because you do this anonymously.

  23. Joe Blow
    March 28, 2011 at 8:16 am #

    @ Heller…step away from the computer…

    • GMHeller
      March 28, 2011 at 9:09 am #

      @Joe Blow
      It’s noon; I was requested by Conor Berry to be here.
      Why are you here?

  24. Bryse turner
    March 28, 2011 at 9:19 am #

    http://stashbox.org/957497/HellerArticle.jpg

    • GMHeller
      March 28, 2011 at 10:15 am #

      @Bryse turner,
      Looking forward to the point you are attempting to make by posting a link to a twenty-three year-old newspaper article from The Berkshire Eagle about a series of mutual domestic complaints filed by and amongst three individuals, two of which were married to each other at the time, all of which domestic complaints by all three individuals parties were then mutually dropped.
      Nice try, though, anonymously attempting to slime the messenger because you don’t like the message.
      ‘Bryse turner’, are you affiliated with The Berkshire Eagle, with WAMC Northeast Public Radio, or with the local Liberal Democrat party machine?
      Gee, d’ya think?

    • reality check
      March 30, 2011 at 4:55 am #

      Nice article. Heller you scare me!

  25. danbeaut
    March 28, 2011 at 9:22 am #

    Heller will be carrying a ham sandwich and Berry will bring the napkins, that would be the beagle.

  26. toto
    March 28, 2011 at 3:05 pm #

    Is it me or has this scussion turned into a nah, nah, nah, nahnah? By the way Conor, I apologize, you and your compadre G M are both intelligent and respect your journalistic aptitude. It is entertaining. Although sometimes, it makes one get away from the main point of the subject at hand. Thats right, scussion!

  27. toto
    March 28, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    I’d like to say that it would be great if everyone were on an equal plain. Where all kinds of people, people not like others want them to be, could all just get along, and then maybe we could move this once great City forward. I don’t quite know where our social and cultural pride went, maybe long before G E’s demise, don’t know. I know as a child growing up here, I was happier than I was when I achieved any staus or gratuity, money, power means nothing today, to me anyway. One thing for certain, if I couldn’t help all people be equal in this once great City, I would never do it. We need jobs here, and we better get some quickly. That doesn’t mean eight workers filling a pothole and two supervisors watching them. The worst thing about this particular post is, it’s only one of a hundred problems. Our next Mayor better be ready.