!BULLETIN! PEDA BOARD SELECTS CORY THURSTON AS NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AFTER NATIONWIDE SEARCH, PLUS, THE LATEST BREAKING DEVELOPMENTS ON “STEROIDsGATE”
BY DAN VALENTI
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, April 1, 2011) — The Pittsfield Economic Development Authority has named Corydon “Cory” Thurston as its new executive director. Thurston succeeds William Hines, whose interim term expires this month.
In making the announcement, the PEDA board go no information, either written or verbal in the open meeting, as to Thurston’s qualification. He is believed related to former North Adams radio executive Don Thurston.
Gary Grunin of the PEDA board made the announcement. Thurston is president of an outfit called North Adams Tower Co. Inc., 61 Main St., Room 204, in North Adams. His email address is email@example.com. His phone number is 413-663-5045.
In making the announcement, Grunin said there were 13 applicants for the job. The board narrowed that down to six, then three, then two, before selecting Thurston. More on this later.
Police Union Head Responds to SteroidsGate
The Planet is pleased to report receiving a missive from Marc Maddalena, an officer within the Pittsfield Police Department and president of Local 447 of the IPBO, the international police union. The letter, as you may have guessed, is in response to SteroidsGate and subsequent revelations. His comments help move the story forward, and we thank him for the time and care directed to the issue. The Planet’s only interest is to present the story as clearly and truthfully as possible, naturally, difficult when everything is kept so hush-hush.
In his letter, President Maddalena makes the following points (we shall share his actual words in a moment):
- The union supports the two officers who have made headlines lately (David Kirchner in the steroids probe and Mike McHugh in the Mohawk Street stabbing incident)
- Both are good cops
- Both have provided the city years of “great service.”
- This service “has gone unnoticed.”
- The Boring Broadsheet does a lousy job covering the police department.
- The union supports the leadership of Chief Mike Wynn
- The department is loaded with “incredible” cops.
The Many Points of Agreement and Others
The Planet agrees with the president. We commend the union for supporting its two members. That’s why they pay their dues. We agree both have performed years of unnoticed service. The Planet, though, isn’t commenting on history but on current events in these particular cases. We agree the BB ignores lots of hot stories. We expect the union to publicly support the chief. What other choice does it have? We agree that the department is loaded with lots of good men and women.
The Planet has just reported and commented on such facts as we are able to extract. Officers Kirchner and McHugh made news. That news would have been covered up if the BB had been left on its own to uncover this information for the good citizens of Pittsfield and Berkshire County — the very thing for which president Maddalena criticizes the paper!
The Planet feels the citizens of Pittsfield and Berkshire County deserve better than the Boring Broadsheet. When situations arise involving public servants, paid by taxpayers, our philosophy is that the taxpayers have a right to now.
We balance this with the rights of the accused, and in these two cases, have reported only on the facts as we have obtained them. It would be much easier and much more accurate in terms of the full picture if the poice would cooperate with journalists such as The Planet. We tried to get the Chief’s comments and cooperation, but he ignored our call.
It’s Not About “Good Cops or “Bad.” It’s About the Facts of What ta Heck is Going on
We have made the point repeatedly and we will not make it again after this: Yes, the majority are good cops. Granted. Given. Agreed. However, everyone knows not all of them are. Like in every organization, there are the bad seeds.
Public servants have a higher standard than those in the Dreaded Private Sector. They take oaths. Wearing a badge means people can assume that the wearers are examples of great character and moral courage, officers like Frank Serpico, for example. The Planet could insert the names of any number of Pittsfield Police Officers here but we won’t. There’s heat on in the department to find the people who are talking to us.
We also have every reasonable cause to believe that illegal steroids use is not confined to one officer out the entire department. This is a huge problem with young athletes, police, body builders, and anyone else who feels peer pressure to destroy their bodies this way. The Planet hopes to do a report trying to gauge the scope of the problem locally and also on the medical and emotional costs of this anything-but-benign drug.
The PPD’s Own Probe Has Determined Kirchner Acted ‘Criminally’
The police department’s own probe — not The Planet’s, not the US Postal Investigators, and not the US Drug Enforcement Administration — made the finding that Kirchner engaged in both criminal activity and conduct unbecoming an officer.
That report was issued on March 10 and signed by Capt. David Granger. It was hidden until city attorney responded to media requests to see what it said. City attorney Rich Donhoney made it available, and The Planet lauds this man for his integrity and courage.
Granger’s report says that prior to Granger’s interrogation of Kirchner, the police union and lawyer “reached an agreement with the city.” Under this agreement, Kirchner “accepted responsibility in this matter” and submitted “to a sustained finding on two violations of the [department’s] rules and regulations.”
Again, we remind readers that this is Capt. Granger’s reporting, not The Planet’s. We asked a couple of lawyers what “submitting to a sustained finding” means. Basically, they said, he’s admitting guilt. The Planet points out that while Capt. Granger found evidence of criminal behavior on the part of Kirchner, no criminal charges have been filed. The federal investigation is pending. We find it interesting that president Maddalena makes no reference to Granger’s investigation, his findings, or the fact that Kirchner admitted to the two charges of “criminal conduct” and “conduct unbecoming an officer.”
The Text of President Maddalena’s Letter
The Planet now presents president Maddalena’s response to our coverage:
I am an officer with the PD and the union president. You know who I am because I have stopped you for a motor vehicle infraction before on North St. I would like you and everyone to know that we support both officers Mchugh and Ofc Kirchner fully. Both are highly respected officers within the department as a result of their work ethic and commitment to their fellow officers and their community. Despite what many, including you, may think these officers have provided a great service to this city over the years that has gone unnoticed as it does for all our officers except amongst each other. If only this city had an idea of what really takes place out there. The only source of information, the Eagle, barely scratches the surface of the incidents this department responds to. Over 40,000 calls for service a year and over 1400 arrests.
In regards to our Chief Michael Wynn, this union is also in full support of him and his ability to run this department. We have complete confidence in our chief and his ability to CONTINUE to take our department in a positive direction as he has done since taking over. Again, all going unnoticed since it does not sell papers or is not “Sexy” enough for your blog.
This department is made up of many incredible men and women who start their work days by putting on a bullet proof vest and no matter what you or anyone else says or may think of any of us, if you ever have to dial those three numbers…..We will always be there and it will go unnoticed.
Ofc Marc Maddalena , President, IBPO 447 Pittsfield Police Patrolman’s Union
Again, we thank president Maddalena for his letter.
Why Was The Planet Stopped Six Years Ago? A Lesson in Ancient History and Other Irrelevancies
As to the matter of “You know who I am because I have stopped you for a motor vehicle infraction before on North St.”, officer Maddalena has the advantage. The Planet doesn’t know who he is because of this. We couldn’t pick him out of police lineup. Here are the facts, which we have no problem sharing.
The Planet was stopped (guessing six years ago) by a patrolman in a squad car as we traveled east on Linden Street taking a left to go north on North Street. We assume that is officer Maddalena’s eference, since we have never been stopped downtown otherwise. The Planet is one of the world’s safest drivers, you see. Ask Mr.s Planet.
The patrolman stopped us and said we went through a red light. We didn’t. The light was green, turned yellow in the middle of our turn, and red by the time we got safely onto North Street. After we discussed his version versus mine, a most professional and cordial conversation, he decided not to issue a ticket. In other words, he agreed we were right — no violation. Glad to clarify. We remember the officer for his professionalism and politeness.
A Second Letter to The Planet
Later on The Planet, president Maddalena sent a response to “Scott,” who questioned why the police union doesn’t have drug testing in its contract. The union president writes:
The Pittsfield Police Union, since I have been at the head, is not against drug testing by any means. As firefighter Bartini stated [Tim Bartini, president of the fire fighter’s union, in a Planet response in support of officers Kirchner and McHugh], it has to be negotiated into the contract and has been on the table each time the last three one-year contracts that I have been apart of. However, due to the economics of the city, the negotiations have been a quick 1%, one- year deal with the hopes of expanded negotiations and a longer-term deal that very well could include a form of random drug testing. I speak for all of my officers when I tell you that we are not against random drug testing.
In regards to my email to my fellow officers and civilian staff. I did ask them to stop talking to people like Mr. Valenti not because there is a cover up going on, but simply because whoever is providing this information is not someone partaking in the investigation and thus is spewing information without all of the facts causing more harm than good and distrust within the community [sic] needlessly. When the investigation is complete the facts will be brought forward and people can develop their opinions then. I am disappointed in the person providing incomplete information as I believe anyone would be. That is all.
And thank you to all who do support your civil servants of this community. I cannot express how much we all appreciate it.
Ofc Marc Maddalena
— First, The Planet is heartened to hear of the police union’s support of drug testing.
— Second, it’s interesting that the president mentions the internal e-mail he sent to the members of the union. The Planet knows all about that. The union president sent an e-mail to all the members, quoting The Planet’s coverage extensively, and basically warning them not to talk to us. The police, according to sources, are turning the joint upside down trying to find out the identities of the informants.
Plural, Not Singular
Second, President Maddalena refers to “the person” who is the source. The Planet can only say that is premature, and, without revealing much, add that there are many officers, those good cops men and women, who were upset at receiving the e-mail from their union boss and who are upset at what they claim is widespread use of steroids. In short, we have multiple sources.
This is handy, since it allows in some cases, not all, a triangulation of information as we put our best efforts in reporting what we believe is factual information. Commentary is another matter, but on matter of facts, The Planet has a good batting average in SteroidsGate. We are doing our best.
— Third, president Maddalena assumes that our informants were or are not part of the two internal probes involving officers Kirchner and McHugh. That, too, is a rosy and premature assumption.
That is all we can say. We have been told by unnamed sources that the department is trying to find out who’s talking and these sources have expressed fear of reprisal if they are found. It doesn’t sound like paradise. It sounds like a department with a an unnecessarily civil war on its hands. The Planet only wants to be a peacemaker, and if we can help in any way we will.
Guys, We’re Fighting the Same Fight
— Fourth, we say as well that we are on the same page with President Maddalena, Capt. Granger, Chief Wynn, and anyone else who wants the best police for the city of Pittsfield. Fellows, we’re on the same side here! We are against the bad guys. We are for the good guys. If this is cops and robbers, we are cops. All good people who know The Planet, and who know what we stand for, know we are being genuine and sincere.
There is no one who exceeds us in admiration of good, honest, hard working public servants. Likewise, few exceed our disdain for the few rotten apples. In the private sector, we don’t care. Greed and that kind of stuff is good, but when it comes on the taxpayer’s dime, we have a right to demand only the best.
President Bartini Weighs in from Fire Side
In case you missed it, and to keep our readers as informed as possible, the president of the Pittsfield Fire Fighters Union sent this:
Dan, As president of Pittsfield Firefighter local 2647, I also support Ofc McHugh and Ofc Kirchner. I myself have been on a number of calls with these officers and they are well respected within our Dept. They work well with our members and always have shown a great commitment to the community and to their job. Tim Bartini
We thank Tim Bartini. The Planet has enjoyed our many conversations, on air and off, over the years.
ON AND ON IT GOES, AND WHERE IT STOPS, NOT EVEN THE PLANET KNOWS. LOVE TO ALL.