!!PLANET GETS EXCLUSIVE WITH CHIEF WYNN: WE SHARE THE DETAILS!!, plus BORING BROADSHEET SOILS ITSELF WITH WHITEWASH OF CHIEF WYNN’s STATEMENT … & LOTHROP, MARKHAM & DOYLE TAKE THE PLANET’s NAME IN VAIN
BY DAN VALENTI
FIRST ADD APRIL 7
The Planet and The Chief, Man to Man
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, APRIL &, ADD 1) — The Planet’s exclusive came this morning with Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn. We called his office, and his secretary, Maggie (and one of the best in the business, by the way) put us through. The chief and I had a frank and businesslike exchange, and it’s fair to say we each left the chat with a greater understanding of the other’s position and with enhanced respect.
We thank the chief for taking our cold call. He could have ducked us. He didn’t.
Chief Wynn said he understands The Planet has a job to do. In fact, he paid a belated compliment to our job when he said our factual information has been accurate. We hope the chief’s remark will put to rest the grasping at straws argument that somehow, The Planet has made stuff up. Stuff — that’s a technical term.
‘We’re Not Looking for Your Sources’
When The Planet asked Chief Wynn if he knew we were talking to informants from within his department, he said “yes.” He said the department wasn’t looking to uncover who’s talking, but he did say that department regulations forbid unauthorized release of certain information and the material we were receiving could be taken that way.
When we asked Chief Wynn point blank if he was trying to find out the identity of our sources, he answered point blank, “We are not looking for your sources.” The chief, expressing a savvy understanding of the press-police relationship, said he would not ask me to reveal them. The answer would have been “no,” and he knows that. The sources are, he said “violating regulations.”
We asked Chief Wynn if he was aware that The Planet had attempted to contact him for information. He said yes. When asked why he didn’t return the call, he said it wasn’t deliberate. It was an oversight based on the many departmental matter he had to address in addition to SteroidsGate. He offered no apology, and we asked for none.
Asked why The Planet wasn’t included in his press tour and why we didn’t receive his press statement, he said he didn’t know, since he wasn’t responsible for the invitations or distribution. We asked who was. He said he thought it was Tricia Farley-Bouvier in the mayor’s office.
Q: How Can We Call When We Didn’t Have Your Number? A: How Could You Not Have Our Number When We’ve Left It Multiple Times?
The Planet has placed two calls into Farley-Bouvier about this. They have not been returned. Moments ago, we received this message from her saying she got the message that we had called, but that it was relayed to her with no phone number. We clearly gave the phone number to the mayor’s secretary. There is no doubt of that. We were assured that Tricia would get the message that inculded the number. In addition, the mayor’s office has my number.
The Chief confirmed that there is an ongoing investigation of the PPD by “another local law enforcement agency,” not the PPD, that he would not name. He made clear when referring this other investigation (“other” meaning in addition to the PPD’s internal probe by Capt. Granger that named officer David Kirchner) that he wasn’t referring to the Postal Inspectors of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Thus there are three probes in connection with SteroidsGate: the completed PPD internal probe, an ongoing probe by a local police agency that is not the PPD, and the federal government.
‘Another Local Law Enforcement Agency’ is Investigating the PPD
When we asked if the feds were also looking at the PPD, the chief said he wasn’t aware that they were. He says he has had no contact with federal investigators. We asked him if, to the best of his present knowledge, officer Kirchner is the only member of his 120-person staff who is involved with illegal steroids, he worded it carefuly, saying that “based on the information provided to us as a result of the ongoing investigation, yes.” That leaves a lot of wiggle room, of course.
The chief said he couldn’t “guarantee” that Kirchner was the member of the PPD involved with illegal steriods, but based on his present knowledge, “I have no reason to believe” there are any others. Again, there’s enough room in there to easily amend should new information prove otherwise. He knows that, given the rampant problem nationwide with athletes and police officers using steroids, it’s a reasonable question to wonder if Kirchner is the only one juicing.
IF PPD Didn’t Know About Kirchner, How Does It Know What Else It Doesn’t Know?
The reference to “another local law enforcement agency” can means a couple of things, and we won’t speculate. It does indicate that the Pittsfield Police are saying they were not aware of Kirchner’s activities and only took action when informed by an outside agency.
This leads to an obvious question: If the PPD command it didn’t know about Kirchner, then what’s the reassurance that it knows there are no other PPD personnel involved in SteroidsGate? It doesn’t know that, and nowhere has the chief made that claim.
Put in the positive, what’s the assurance that if there are other offending personnel, PPD command would know about it? It missed Kirchner, and he was operating in drug enforcement! In other words, how aware is the department of any other possible activities relating to steroids? How scrupulously has it been policing this matter? Why DIDN’T it know about Kirchner?
We asked the chief about his reference to the BB’s quote of “other stories fueled by rumor, innuendo and speculation” about Kirchner’s case. Chief Wynn answered cagily that he wasn’t “necessarily” referring to the Planet.
Well, who else could it be? The local radio stations, where independent, investigatory news doesn’t exist? Berkshire Unliving’s blog, Cultural Pittsfield’s website? Fluff.com? TheManintheMoon.com? The Planet believes the chief was speaking in tongues, and we admire that level of gamesmanship actually. We believe he was giving us the wink-wink, nudge-nudge, and was saying, loose translation: “Of course I was referring to The Planet!!”
Chief Wynn said he had personally not been reading The Planet’s coverage of SteroidsGate but that members of his staff were reading it and providing him with digests. We respectfully suggested that the chief read for himself and make up his own mind, knowing, though, that he is an extremely busy man with lots on his plate. We ask that the digesters chew at least 35 times before swallowing.
We highlight this next tidbit because it’s important:
The Planet asked Chief Wynn if he disputed any factual information we had published. He said no, that our facts have been good.
Chief Wynn did that that he was “a little distressed about the implication that there was some cover up” going on. “The first information we got, we responded to.”
He said he hopes the public understands that SteroidsGate (our term, not his) has not been easy for him, the department, and its personnel: “We accept that this is a down moment. It reflects the actions of one member of our department.” Nothing more, he said, and nothing less.
He sounded definitive that as far as the PPD is concerned, “At this point, from an administrative point of view, the matter is closed.” To that, both The Planet and chief agree to add the asterisk for the ongoing probe by the other local law enforcement agency and the federal investigation into steroids.
Just One More Question, from Joe Pinhead
Another question left for another day was brought up in the comments section by “Joe Pinhead” concerning the feds: ”Can anyone explain to me the following: Why during these hard economic times both the DEA and the Postal Service would expend both human and financial resources on rumor, innuendo and speculation? Or is there more to the case?”
The Planet understands the delicate nature of being a police chief having to serve as front man for an embarrassing and likely criminal action by one of his trusted officers, a drug investigator, no less, who last year earned more than $30,000 in OT just on drug matters. There are two other ongoing investigations — one local and one federal — that could come back with additional evidence pertaining to the PPD.
We express the will of We The People when we write:
(a) We hope the probes are thorough and exhaustive, and
(b) We hope the information will be shared with the press on a timely basis.
The BB SteroidsGate Story Ranks Low, Even by It’s Low-ball Standards
It’s a busy season on The Planet, where the weather is balmy and a reliable 72 degrees … of separation.
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, APRIL 7, 2011) — We begin first by letting you know that this morning, The Planet got an exclusive with Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn. Yes, we had an informative and productive meeting of the minds. More on the details later.
First, a scotch of background on the chief’s busy day, but not before sharing this unrelated item, sent to us from one of our high-ranking spies — on The General Staff, no less. We submit for your approval, without comment. The General writes:
Markham, Lothrop, and Doyle: Dumber, Dumber, and Dumbest
I was entertained last night with the cable show of “Consider
This” hosted by [Lou] Markham and [Jonathan] Lothrop with special guest Gerry Doyle. I
would not insult Larry,Curley,and Moe by putting this trifecta in their
league. You have to catch it at some point, but bring a bottle of Malox
Your name was mentioned in vain, naturally!! You have all these
knuckleheads attention, so keep up the good work and work the body before
going for the head. You’ve opened cuts above the eyes, Kid Gallant.
Hey fellas: consider THIS .
Chief Meets with BB and Gazette: The Planet Calls it Right, Again
Yesterday, Chief Wynn visited the Boring Broadsheet in over at the Crock Tower (not a typo) and then with Jonathan Levine at the Pittsfield Gazette, at city hall.
The Planet was not invited nor notified of the times and places, although, ironically, we posted word of the chief’s press action more than a day before it happened, despite NO official announcement. We will add that we placed two phone calls to Tricia Farley-Bouvier in Mayor Jimmy Ruberto’s office, seeking information about this, and she did not return the call.
So how did we know a couple days ago that Chief Wynn would be meeting with SOME of the press (we even reported that!). We credit the good work of our gumshoes, including those with close city hall and PPD connections, for the tip. Once again, our reporting on SteroidsGate proved accurate and reliable.
The Planet will take credit for this but share it generously with our sources on this story, who, in some cases at considerable risk, are sharing information. Our credit only comes from cultivating sources. They don’t occur out of the blue or drop in our laps miraculously, like manna from heaven.
The Planet believes we have a reputation for hard, but fair, journalism, and this has encouraged many good people on the inside, who have serious concerns about the management of the city and its departments, to share what they know. We love it when we can apply good, old-fashion reporting techniques and marry it with the dizzying pace of cyberspace.
Coverage? We Don’t Need No Stinking Coverage
Now that Conor Berry rode off east into the sunrise at the Springfield Republican, the Boring Broadsheet has no one covering crime and cops, one of the most important beats at any so-called newspaper. Filling in, they’ve thus far used Tony Dobrowolski and Clarence Fanto, who was already filling in for Derek Gentile. You get the picture: The BB is down to seeds and stems. Any storm in a port, as Popeye says.
Their white-washed coverage today, written by my part-time broadcasting buddy Fanto, begins with a headline that’s pure editorializing of a kind that would not have passed muster at the Le Moyne Dolphin, the student newspaper of Le Moyne College, back in the day when The Planet was a prof in Le Moyne’s English department and served as newspaper adviser.
“Wynn sets record straight over officer’s probe.”
(1) How did the headline writer know, and how could he or she judge, that the chief’s statements “set the record straight.” That’s pure speculation. We don’t have enough of the facts to know if Wynn did that. This is a headline that came straight from Kevin Moran, who got it straight from Tim Farkas, who got it straight from Andy Mick, who got it straight from Paul Winchell, Buffalo Bob, and Sherrie Lewis.
Other Ways in which the BB Story is a Whitewash
(2) Again with the headline: It was not an “officer’s probe.” The possessive case here reads as if officer David Kirchner investigated himself. It was the PPD’s probe, and an 8th grade knowledge of possessive case and usage would have informed. Embarrassing. That’s why we have heard from five people this morning who have cancelled their subscriptions (circulation as of two months ago, under 18,000 and falling).
(3) It shows that Fanto has been hired by the BB. Initially, he was filling in for Gentile. Now, it looks as if he’s lowered his standards in agreeing to become a full-time staffer. We offer our sympathy. We can also suggest there might be ditch digging, pumping gas, and signboard job opportunities that would supply more dignity.
(4) Fanto’s story give no indication that one tough question was asked. One of our newsroom sources at the BB says he (Fanto) hardly said a peep and let it to the “reporters and editors” to toss the softballs. In fairness to my good friend, that remains unconfirmed.
(5) The BB did, however, have this paragraph: “The chief expressed his frustration that such ‘stories’ ['fueled by rumor, innuendo and speculation'] — though not in the Eagle, he emphasized — have persisted ‘despite the department’s efforts to remain above the sensationalism …” Really? Did Fanto press the chief about this? Did he ask for specific examples. Did he ask to whom the chief was referring (as if we didn’t know!). The Planet asked such questions of the chief in our exclusive this morning.
(6) A self-respecting newspaper would have quickly realized the back-handed insult Chief Wynn had just given it. By exempting the BB from “stories fueled by rumor, innuendo, and speculation,” Wynn is basically saying that the paper has been emasculted — like a pinball machine rusting in a junkyard, it has no balls. Everyone with honesty knows this, of course, but it’s fun to see an important figure like the police chief give them one.
(7) Did Fanto press the chief to name one reported significant fact in non-Eagle stories (read Planet Valenti Dot Com) that proved not to be true? No. We did. The chief could not name one, and essentially told us our reportage has been factually accurate. That’s why you’re reading the truth here, and not in the Boring Broadsheet.
(8) The BB story falsely implies that the paper had the exclusive with the chief. It did not. The chief, to his credit, also met with Levine of the Gazette. That item should have been included in the story, but the BB has orders — no reference to the Gazette, and ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, no reference to The Planet. That’s a capital offense over at Crock Tower.
(9) The Planet realizes that any BB reporter labors under adverse conditions — overworked, underpaid, with had-fitted muzzles to keep out any discouraging words (“Home, home on the range, where they deer and the antelope play, where never is heard …” but to use so much of Chief Wynn’s press release and just go with it, word for word … uh, isn’t that a bit much?
MORE TO COME
We leave for the moment to take care of other deadline matters, but fear not, our intrepid explorers into the dark recesses, where THEY want eternal cover of night and do not want the sunshine to penetrate. We shall be returning several times during the day and this evening, because things are a popping. In our “FIRST ADD,” we will share the details of Chief Wynn’s EXCLUSIVE with The Planet. Open the window, Aunt Millie!
LOVE TO ALL.