WHERE IS CONOR BERRY? HIS VOICEMAIL SAYS HE “NO LONGER WORKS AT THE NEWSPAPER.” Plus, PLANET 8, FORCES OF DARKNESS 3; PEDA’s COREY THURSTON: NO EXPERIENCE or Here We Go Again?
BY DAN VALENTI
SECOND ADD, 4/4/11
The Planet has just posted the following notice on the “comments” feature of this website:
We will hold people to this standard to the best of our ability. The Planet realizes that the vast majority of readers and respondents, even those who strongly disagree with us, will abide the the standards that self-policed good conduct imposes. For the tiny fraction of recalcitrants, we will not permit your posts.
On another matter, it is the end of the day. No one from the Boring Broadsheet has returned our requests regarding the apparent termination of reporter Conor Berry. Yes, there are many ways to get the information, but The Planet wishes to proceed openly, through channels, and on the record, preferably in writing. We would ask BB managing editor Kevin Moran, executive editor Tim Farkas, or publisher Andy Mick to let us know what’s up. They have our number and e-mail address.
FIRST ADD, 4/4/11
Kevin Moran, Please Phone Dan Valenti
It’s been two hours, and still BB managing editor Kevin Moran has not returned The Planet’s inquiries. We left a voice mail asking:
* To confirm what Conor Berry says on his voice mail (unless that has been taken down), that he “no longer works at the newspaper.”
* To tell us why he is no longer there
* And which reporter is taking over the police/crime beat.
When it came to reporting on The Little Guy, Berry coverage it legit. When it came to reporting any of the GOBs such as Massimiano, Stracuzzi, and the like, Berry had to finesse his work. This wasn’t his own choosing but part of the muzzle the BB puts on reporters when they cover “sensitive” people or “sensitive” topics, such as the use of steroids within the Pittsfield Police Department.
Berry said he had the information in early March. He did not publish anything until this website could confirm the information. Again, we have no reason to believe that was his call. More likely, the management of the BB didn’t want to touch this story. Too hot for them, apparently.
The Planet reminds all concerned, including the BB, the police, and anyone else interested in SteroidsGate: Good men and women want only the truth, whatever it might be. The Planet will be the happiest man at the police ball, to which we have no doubts we will be invited, if the story turns out that a sole PPD officer was using the juice. If that’s the extent of the story, hoorah! If not, We The People, as well as every good cop, needs to know how far up and down the chain of command the juicing goes.
Final Score: Planet 8, Forces of Darkness 3
Remember the poll we took among the 11 Pittsfield city councilors on the three key questions of PCBs, Hill 78, and unfunded liabilities? We waited, waited, and waited for the three stooges, and now we have a final, just in.
The final tally was eight responders, who lived up to their need to report, not to The Planet, but through us to We The People. We heard from Christine Yon, Peter White, Mike Ward, John Krol, Joe Nichols, Kevin Sherman, Melissa Mazzeo, and Peter Marchetti.
Uncle Gerry Lee, Jonathan Lothrop, and Ward 3 councilor Paul Capitanio decided that You The People were and are chopped liver. Remember this if J-Lo and Cappy run for re-election. The Planet reports that even Cappy’s challenger, Jeff Ferrin, gave his views. These three members, all our Right Honorable Good Friends, have been in a walking coma since the new term began. It’s time to pull the plug: brain dead, without hope, except for life as a vegetable. Lee is a cucumber. J-LO is a beet. Cappy is a squash.
PEDA’s Corey Thurston: No Previous Experience
The Planet said we would give newly minted PEDA CEO Corey Thurston a chance to prove himself before we make a definitive judgment on his work. We will.
That being said, we are dismayed to learn what outgoing PEDA director Bill Hines confirms: Thurston has no experience in economic development.
Perfect, isn’t it? We mean the way the pattern repeats itself. Why on earth would a board serious about economic development select a new CEO who has no experience, no track record, and no indication that he will have anything more than the foggiest? Could it be that this person will prove easy to control?
Could it be that if PEDA HAD conducted a nationwide search, and HAD hired the sharpest person available, and DID give this person the power, that said person would quickly realize the problem that stinks up the joint over at Woodlawn Avenue. This sharp person would not put up with any crud from the board, would not care about the political considerations of the job.
Capping the Floor: Who Pays
Such a person would, for example, fight to have GE pay for the entire capping of 150,000 sq. ft. of old factory floor on the site.
That large area must be capped with a layer of concrete to entomb the poisons still in the soil. Think of this: Not only does GE get to leave the ground saturated with a witch’s brew of industrial toxins, not only does PEDA accept capping instead of REMOVAL, but PEDA apparently wants let GE off the hook with a $750,000 ceiling on the capping costs. What if it costs more? Who pays? Gotta mirror.
Mayor Jimmy Ruberto, a PEDA board member, asked who pays if the capping costs exceed $750K? Neither PEDA, Thurston, nor the board had the answer. It reeks of a fishy smell, oh my brothers and sisters. First, PEDA should insist on the removal of toxins, but if it must accept capping, it should put GE on the hook for the entire cost.
Thurston Can Prove His Mettle Early. Here’s How
We ask Corey Thurston directly: Will you fight for uncapped capping money from GE? Or will you roll over and play dead, thereby sticking the taxpayers of Pittsfield with another unfunded liability that could amount to $1 million or more? Which will it be, Mr. Thurston. The Planet awaits your answer. Will you man up? Will you prove you are not just an empty suit? Also, when is the last time you spoke to John Barrett? And about what?
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, April 4, 2011) — Where is Conor Berry?
The intrepid Berry, whose stories on then-Sheriff Carmen Massimiano, former Greylock Federal Credit Union president Angelo Stracuzzi, and more recently on use of steroids within the Pittsfield Police Department made headline news and gave the Boring Broadsheet a patina of credibility, “no longer work[s] for the newspaper.” These three areas touch nerve centers of political power in the city of Pittsfield.
Berry Delivers His Own Epitaph at 496-6249
Berry wasn’t late for his own funeral. He delivers his epitaph in his usual straightforward, reportorial way in a recorded message age his phone number: 413-496-6249. He offers no information as to his sudden departure, leaving a million questions hanging. Berry then directs the caller to managing editor Kevin Moran at 413-496-6215.
The Planet placed a call to BB managing editor Kevin Moran asking to confirm Berry’s departure. We also asked him via voice mail to explains the reasons for his leaving and we asked who will be assigned to cover the police beat in Berry’s wake. Of course, we want to know if Berry’s successor will be continuing the probe into SteroidsGate. Moran has not returned our call.
The buzz, and it’s just that, is that Berry was removed as a direct result of his coverage of SteroidsGate. That is speculative at this point, and The Planet has no factual reason to assume that is true nor have we seen anything to convince us that it is NOT true. We will hold judgment on Berry’s departure until we have more information. It is a fair question, though, to ask how aggressively the Eagle intends to pursue the white-hot story. The local daily, as the dominant medium in Berkshire County, can alone bring resources to bear on investigative stories of this ilk.
Will the Eagle Pursue SteroidsGate or Drop It Like a Hot Onion?
Continue to cover this story will require stamina, nerves of steel, resources, and a desire to uncover the truth. And what is truth, as Pilate famously asked Jesus? The truth of SteroidsGate has a possible scale of, at one end: No Other Use of Illegal Steroids in the PPD Beyond the Officer Already Disciplined Following the Internal Probe to, Widespread Use of Illegal Steroids that Involves Many PPD Personnel as Well as Those from Other County Law Enforcement Agencies. That’s the range. There are only three possibilities for the truth: those two extremes or something in between.
Berry’s hasty exit has the city buzzing. We hope other local media pursue this story. We wonder, for example, if WBRK’s Bill Sturgeon Show will look into it? Will Larry Kratka at WBEC/WUPE news?
Berry’s leaving comes just as he was rolling up his sleeves to dig into SteroidsGate, a breaking story that involves a multi-jurisdictional federal probe into the use of illegal steroids that has included Berkshire County and the Pittsfield Police Department. It would certainly be an odd time to leave.
The Planet asks Conor Berry to get in touch with us as soon as possible.
The Planet will post more later, as developments warrant. This is a fast-moving story. Stay tuned.