Pittsfield is Poisoned

FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE (MARCH 14, 2011) — Alone among local media, The Planet has driven the recent and urgent discussion on industrial poisons in Pittsfield. Ironically, this came about as the result of a development that, at first, appeared to have nothing to do with PCBs, mercury, and the host of other nasty chemicals that saturate Pittsfield and environs. We refer to the city’s proposed purchase of property on outer East Street, which turned out to contain PCBs.

The summary line of everything on this site published to date is this: Pittsfield has been poisoned. There’s no polite way to say it. The toxins are still in Pittsfield’s ecosystem. They will not go away on their own. Mother Nature will not heal herself in Pittsfield. It is, thus, a dying city.

Only a formal study would establish causality between this sad reality and the fact that, while GE was in Pittsfield and the many years after, no substantial companies have chosen the town for expansion or relocation. There have been economic booms in biotechnology and in computer-related industries in other locales, many within an easy drive of the city, but Pittsfield did not get a drop of the action.

Economic Failure, Industrial Toxins: Cause and Effect?

The anecdotal evidence clearly suggests that Pittsfield’s poisons, known the world over by the world over,  have been a major reason, if not THE reason, why so many “economic development” efforts have failed in Benigno Numine.  For example, the city quickly dropped its proposed “High Tech Highway,” Dan Fox Drive, and turned it into a failed recreation-and-resort wasteland, anchored by the empty Patriots Resort Hotel on the corner. They couldn’t give it away. The same problem has plagues the PEDA site. What board of directors would take the chance of coming to Pittsfield?

What company, school, shop, organization, or enterprise, would want to move to Pittsfield or set up there knowing that its water, air, and soil remains drenched in a laundry list of toxic industrial chemicals?  What outfit would want to be part of a community where the leaders allowed this situation to happen and then let the poisoner off the hook — a consent decree that put a Band-aid over a mortal wound? What sophisticated enterprise would want a part of what passes for local politics? Who would want in on a game of Russian Roulette in in a city where there isn’t even an inventory of all the poisons that were buried in the ground for more than eight decades?

Past is Passed, but the Future can be Changed

The past cannot be changed. The 80+ years of unquestioned prosperity GE brought to Pittsfield came at a severe price. However, we can decide, going forward, to take action. The question then becomes: What will the city do about it? That question is the thrust of our recent mailing to each member of the city council, asking them for positions on PCBs, Hill 78, and unfunded liabilities. This election season, candidates had better be prepared to discuss these issues. The days of candidates ignoring these life-and-death matters, of keeping the electorate in the dark, of pretending all is well and there’s a renaissance under way, are over.

The Planet has been to four rodeos, three bordellos, two masonic temples, and a pineapple farm, and here’s a campaign promise we make: We will harelip a pack of hyenas in our efforts to see that We The People are properly represented in Campaign 2011.

For the record, The Planet has heard from Joe Nichols and Kevin Sherman on our three questions. We have yet to hear from Yon, White, Capitanio, Ward, Lothrop, Kroll, Lee, Marchetti, and Mazzeo. To clarfiy on Mazzeo, she did at least have the courtesy to acknowledge our inquiry. The Planet will wait until the end of the day Wednesday to hear from all. On Thursday, we will post the responses. Non-respondents will have a special gift waiting for them. Personally, we don’t care one way of the other. As representative of The Little Guy, however, we will not take well any snubs.


Flaggin’ Down the Truth

In the ensuing discussion stirred up on The Planet over the time and energy wasted on a Pittsfield flag came the comment asking about sponsorship. What does a politician’s “sponsorship” of a flag mean? The city of Pittsfield flag was sponsored by Mayor Jimmy Ruberto and State Sen. Ben Downing. Is there taxpayers’ money involved?

Senator Downing’s office, on the ball as ever, monitored the discussion, and the senator provided The Planet with this answer.

Dan – saw the question about what “sponsorship” of the flag contest meant. On my end, it just meant lending my name. After I got elected, I was hosting a local group at the state house (can’t recall the organization). When we gave the tour, we came through the Hall of Flags at the State House and some of the group members couldn’t find their town/city’s flag.

After this, I asked the folks at the Bureau of State Office Buildings if they had a list of all the communities that had flags and those which didn’t. Once I had it, I let all the communities know and told them, if they wanted to, I’d do what I could to publicize the opportunity if they thought it would be helpful. Some communities jumped on it. Pittsfield waited to align it with the 250th.

So thats that. No monetary sponsorship or staff work on my side.


The Planet thanks Sen. Downing for the information. We will not assume anything from the mayor’s side of this but hope someone from City Hall can report the same: no public money nor city employees are involved.


Is the GOP Imploding?

Is the national GOP imploding? It’s hard to think the hearings by U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) are the result of a well-devised strategy, especially so close to a presidential campaign. This week, the House Homeland Security Committee, which King chairs, conducts hearings into the “radicalization of American Muslims.”

It’s hard to see this as anything other than a nod to the rabid right, which thinks Sara Palin is the next Joan of Arc (although, for this once-nobody from Alaska, Joan of Arctic is not out of the question).

Here’s The Planet’s problem with King’s hearings:

* King has accused young Muslims of heavily supporting Al Qaeda, without supplying evidence.

* He alleges, against, with little support, that “80 percent” of mosques in the United States are run by radical imams who are out to destroy America.

* This targeting of Islam reeks of racism, that is, the scapegoating of dark-skinned “foreigners” who have committed the sin of not being white and Christian.

Republicans Could Own (and Once Did) the Muslim Vote

The GOP’s stance on Islam is difficult to fathom. As pointed out in an excellent discussion at, American Muslims “seem predisposed to vote Republican. They are generally affluent and well-educated, and more than a quarter are small-business owners — a traditional GOP constituency.” They also tend to be socially and politically conservative.

The King playbook spells bad news for the GOP, unless their intention is to drive Muslims from the party and into the hands of the Democrats. Consider the reversal in a few short years. When George “W” Bush rang against Al Gore in 2000, he took 70 percent of the Muslim vote. He even became the first presidential candidate to visit a mosque. Given the narrow outcome of the 2000 race, you could make the case that Muslims elected “W” president.

Eight years later, Muslims got the message. Barack Obama won 80 percent of the Muslim vote. McCain-Palin won 2 percent. The GOP continued its slide from 2004, from John Kerry took 70 percent of the Islamic vote (figures according to election results, Pew Research Center).

Peter Giftos, why don’t you send The Planet’s comments to the national GOP? Someone had better start listening, or you guys will be as cooked nationally as you are in the Bay State.




  1. toto
    March 14, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

    Dan, have you heard what a broadcaster said on Bill Sturgeon’s morning show today, on WBRK. Ron Lee made a comment, I guess Bill took the day off and the remarks that were heard concerning the awful situation in Japan were deplorable. WBRK and the host, Ron Lee, were called out on it, and the gentleman was abruptly hung up on. It was not a funny situation, Lee should be fired.

    • Joetaxpayer
      March 14, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

      Call the PC Police,this is a free country,if what he said was offensive dont listen to them.

    • Dee
      March 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

      I also heard that this morning. While I understand that some people do not have the mental capacity to comprehend the enormity of what has happened, this was inappropriate on all levels.

      Perhaps WBRK should take a page from AFLAC’s book (they fired Gilbert Gottfried over his comments about Japan). I think an apology would be in order.

  2. Dee
    March 14, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    Yes – it is a free country and believe it or not, not everything is a PC matter. This has nothing to do with being policitically correct but more to do with being insensitive to the people of Japan.

    I found it offensive. I exercised my rights and turned off the radio. If the station supports this type of behavior, the radio will stay off this station and I will look elsewhere for my hardware, karate training, framing, lunches, etc. That’s how I exercise my rights and freedoms.

    • Joetaxpayer
      March 14, 2011 at 4:28 pm #

      Agree it was not the right thing to be saying,but if you do listen to them all the time they did not mean any harm.Dont really think they realized at the time how wronge it was.Sure there will be a apology,no one should lose a job over it.

  3. Jonathan Melle
    March 14, 2011 at 3:43 pm #

    Pittsfield is “growing”. More and more welfare caseloads! More and more teen-age pregnancies! More and more unemployment! More and more poverty! More and more vacant buildings! More and more corrupt & insider Pols! More and more high school drop-outs! Higher and higher truancy rates!

  4. Luxor Rex
    March 14, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    I’m also big for free speech. however, Ron Lee’s comments were deplorable. What does Mr. Hodgkins intend to do about it? Totally off color. and deplorable.

  5. PCP
    March 14, 2011 at 4:54 pm #


  6. GMHeller
    March 14, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    When last we spoke, you said it was seven bordellos over an entire week. You also said one of the madams reminded you of Angelo Stracuzzi in a tight dress.

    Regarding Rep. Peter King’s hearings on the matter of Jihadists in America.
    Kudos. Kudos. Kudos.
    It is highly amusing to watch silly Liberals, especially Berkshire Liberals, fretting, hemming and hawing over what they perceive will have negative consequences for the Republican Party.

    • danvalenti
      March 15, 2011 at 6:53 am #

      You have a “bordello” gap.
      The comment on Angelo is what YOU said, just now (such words were never mine).
      Your Achilles heel is that you interpret stories like the King hearings without taking off the ideologically tinted glasses.

      • Mike
        March 15, 2011 at 10:20 am #


  7. Nomad
    March 14, 2011 at 5:34 pm #

    I heard Ron Lee’s comment this morning, and apparently interpreted it differently than some others. His reference to Godzilla making an appearance any day now, may have walked a fine line, but I felt he was stating the magnitude of the tragedy in Japan. To call for his head over it is a gross overreaction. If anyone should be fired from that station, it’s the regular show host. He’s gone off and rampages, and has cut callers off that he’s disagreed with. He has a rule “You can disagree, but you can’t be disagreeable”. I suggest he should add…”but you can be disrespectful” to it. He refers to John Olver as “Oliver” or “Olivia”…and more recently referred to Bruce Collingwood as “Driftwood”. HIs show has become nothing more than an informercial for downtown Pittsfield.

    • danvalenti
      March 15, 2011 at 6:51 am #

      I agree. I didn’t hear Ronnie’s comments, but having done a ton of radio with him, I know he didn’t mean it in the mean-spirited sense that some have interpreted. He has a wicked sense of humor. That’s all this is.

  8. just saying
    March 14, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

    @ Melle,

    What you say is sad to see, but it does appear that Pittsfield is getting worse.
    I guess that’s what you get when the citizens continue to elect GOB’s who don’t give a shit about anything but themselves and their cronies.
    I don’t live in the city, however if I did Mr. Nichols would get my vote in November.
    @ Heller,

    Your damn right, the crybaby PCers need to calm down, start thinking with their brains and stop their bleeding heart crap. (Sorry DV, your wrong on this one).

    Ft Hood
    Times Square
    Underwear bomber
    Jihad Jane
    And the list goes on and on.
    All radical Islamists, not Christians, not Hindu, not the Jews, no, Muslim radicals.
    These hearings are needed.

    • danvalenti
      March 15, 2011 at 6:49 am #

      My problem with the King hearings is that they are political and ideological in nature. They involve scapegoating of a blatant type, which will ensure that the source of the problem of terrorism is unaddressed.

      • just saying
        March 15, 2011 at 6:15 pm #


        I see your point though I do disagree with it. There is a very real problem with those who wish to live out the Jihadi way. The terror suppoters are engaging our own citizens, we must not turn a blind eye to this.
        We are being attacked and killed by our own citizens now. The Radicals that support this Jihad have learned where we are most vulnerable, that is our own people.
        All great nations have fallen from within.
        I do not want this to be a Muslim hunting spree, but come on man, we have one hell of a problem here.

  9. Eric Vincelette
    March 14, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    ARNING A BIT OF A RANT AND RAMBLE-MAY NOT BE COMPLETELY COHESIVE-My post might not relate to Dan’s exact post today but since this is the one blog I follow because I find it cutting edge informative and inside scoop entertaining and also because I view many of you other contributors as extremely intelligent and informed on a wide variety of matters I’d like to share my overall opinion of things as they stand on issues both big and smail. Our country is in a fiscal mess on a federal, state and municpal level. Right now the GOP seems only to be focused on cuts as the only measure to solve budget imbalances and are not looking at all at revenue. When the Democratic party was in power they had the opportunity to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy but waited too long and then had to bargin with the GOP to extend them or else taxes were going up for everyone, unemployment BENEFTITS would end for many etc…The truth of the matter is that for the past 3 or 4 decades when adjusted for inflation the median incoome for middle class families has flatlined and even decreased over the last decade. Whereas, 75 % of all income went to the top 1% and 30% of that income went to the top 1/3 of that 1%..Those are staggering numbers guys. And instead of allowing those tax cuts to expire, for those that are doing extremely well, now the GOP wants to cut Head Start Programs, Heating Assistance and the like…Come on stop giving tax breaks and subsidies to the super rich, big corporations, big oil and bail outs to Wall Street, where over the past decade or so they set up a game of chance with Americans savings and homes and very existence at risk. Wall Street shorted, bet against, all the very destructive derivative instruments they created, knowing they would make money on the short, get bailed out by DC, and get bonused on top of it…Needs to be more regulation not less…Meanwhile Joe and Mary Little Guy can barely keep up with it all, voter anger and apathy are the rule of the land and Republicans regain control. And now they set their sights on programs they have wanted to cut for years…Democrats=spineless and Republicans=heartless both seem senseless…To me the folks in Wisconsin’s biggest problem is that they didn’t get out and vote…Elections matter. Municipal level…On the subject of unfunded liabilities and ways to catch up ..Amoung other things we might want to look at the teachers union. A strong well healed union does not always equal good teachers and well educated kids. In fact it has shown to lead to tenured teachers who don’t always care, seniority based raises when they should be merit raises. 2-3 percent raises almost every year. 80-20 split on health care, pensions starting at 55 going sometime to 85 and beyond…all of this is completely unsustainable but neither Democrats, lack of political will or Republicans, lack of politcal common sense or fairness, have been willing or unable to tackle this huge problem and meanwhile the private sector faces job loss , income decrease and worse…Again not feasable long term…those are my thoughts for the night Rome wasn’t built in a day..

    • danvalenti
      March 15, 2011 at 6:47 am #

      It is as you say. Disengagement means people do not pay attention. They do not “get out and vote.” We must change that this year in Pittsfield. A 5% change (about 1450 voters) upward would control an election.

    • Joetaxpayer
      March 15, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

      Obama must go,nedd a more expeirenced person behind the wheel.He is driving us in a ditch.

  10. GMHeller
    March 14, 2011 at 9:30 pm #

    What if all the residents of Pittsfield — and I seriously mean all 42,000 — showed up at the annual G.E. shareowner meeting.
    Those with stock would go inside to question G.E.’s CEO and directors; those without stock would stay outside in order to picket and speak with network TV news cameras.
    When, in American history, has an entire city ever shown up at any company’s shareowner meeting to petition corporate officials?
    It would get worldwide attention and be incredibly embarrassing to General Electric officials.

    • danvalenti
      March 15, 2011 at 6:45 am #

      Population is lower than 42K.

  11. GMHeller
    March 14, 2011 at 11:15 pm #

    G.E.’s Jeff Immelt Compensation Jumps to $15.2 Million

    FAIRFIELD, Conn. (AP) — General Electric Co. Chairman and CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt’s 2010 compensation more than doubled to $15.2 million as the company benefited from a recovering economy.

    Immelt’s $3.3 million salary was unchanged from the previous year, according to an Associated Press analysis of a company filing on Monday. But he got a $4 million bonus in February for his work in 2010, after getting no bonus for two years in a row. And the company gave him stock options valued at $7.4 million.

  12. rick
    March 15, 2011 at 4:41 am #

    i think if we are kept up on the pcb issue, that we can resolve this with g.e. the people need to be in on the talks, so we know there is no back room politics going on. if any agreements are made, the people of pittsfield need to agree and sign off on it. g.e. made this town, but it didnt give it the right to destroy it….if you were an employer, lets say with a work force of 100, small enough to call them a family, would you put them on the peda sight 10/12 hrs a day or even around the clock shifts and feel their safe? who would insure you knowing what lies beneath you?, and the amount of time it takes for pcbs to rear its ugly head. if i was an insurance co. i would walk away from it.

  13. SALTY
    March 15, 2011 at 6:41 am #

    BAck to the original topic of the column: pcb and industrial chemicals. they need removal. its obvious the city officials won’t do anything for wahatever reason, fear or money (bribes?). The answer was expressed earlier: massive turnout of the people on election day. i get the feeling that this one’s going to be different/. No incumbent is safe.

  14. toto
    March 15, 2011 at 7:22 am #


    • Nichols for mayor
      March 15, 2011 at 8:33 am #

      Yeah, right. Talk to me in a week.

    • Joetaxpayer
      March 15, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

      Dont think so.Sounds like the king kong refrence was not meant to be harmfull.Also if they were ranting about pearl harbor that would be there right,even though it would disgust most normal people.One swear will not warrant to much OF WHEELS FALLING OFF.

  15. Dave Martindale
    March 15, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    We the People should push hard for a comprehensive health study of the people who live and work in this area.
    We sit on one of the largest deposits of PCB in the country yet no one has ever conducted a study to determine the extent of the health effects this contamination has had on this area. I say area because the problem is bigger than Pittsfield and extends far beyond Pittsfield’s borders.
    A comprehensive health study would provide knowledge.

    Knowledge is power.

    Armed with the proper knowledge, those charged with making decisions effecting the health and welfare of the people would be able to make the correct decisions in a clear and more transparent manner.

    • GMHeller
      March 15, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

      A study would quantify that which General Electric Company does not want ever quantified.
      Having G.E. pay for a study means having G.E. control that study.

  16. toto
    March 16, 2011 at 10:02 am #

    You have just been tuned off Mr. Valenti. It is very clear that you have a bias towards WBRK. LISTEN TO THE CONVERSATION BEFORE YOU REMARK ON THE RON LEE COMMENTS. The show is junk.

    • danvalenti
      March 16, 2011 at 10:36 am #

      Thanks. I listened to what Lee said. The airwaves still allow free speech. Ron’s patter did not cross the line, in my view. If you disagree, that’s fine. But I am qualified here because I’ve been on the air so many times with Ron. I know his sense of humor. It’s not for everybody, admittedly. It reminds me of Denis Guyer’s FB page, that immediately after, contained lots of jokes. Bad taste? Maybe. I call it a “laughing so as to keep from crying.”