PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, AUG. 12, 2011) — Yesterday, Tim Bartini and Robert Czerwinski sent THE PLANET a letter. Bartini and Czerwinski are, respectively, president of Local 2647 Pittsfield Firefighters and acting fire chief of the PFD. The letter addressed THE PLANET’s recent postings on the contract situation between the city and the PFD.

First we present, unedited and without comment, the letter, so you may read it exactly as THE PLANET received it. We have only edited for grammar and punctuation:

August 11, 2011

Mr. Valenti,

It is with great enjoyment and amusement that we read your on-going blog regarding the City of Pittsfield’s contract proposal to the firefighters of IAFF Local 2647.

As the respected appointed administrative officers and elected union leader of this great department of dedicated professionals, we’d like to take this opportunity to let the blogging public know how far from the truth your story line is.

Let’s start with a short talk about contract negotiations. This process is an attempt to seek competitive pay scale, additional benefits and better working conditions for both the employee and the employer. This process is always a two-way street: somebody gives and somebody gets. In the end, ask either side and they’ll both tell you that their side lost. It’s not always a fair process to both sides and there will always be resentment by both parties in some small way.

The ongoing contract negotiations between the City of Pittsfield and IAFF Local 2647 have been in progress for over two years. Each side gives some, [and] each side takes some. By far, it is not a slam-dunk win like you portray.

Yes, the City would like to see random drug testing. And the Union is willing to entertain that notion, providing that something is offered that is comparable in value. While your supposed reputable inside source would like you to believe the price for such a benefit is a 4% raise, your source is far from correct. And, because the very nature of contract negotiations are confidential and still in progress, we will not disclose what the actual figures are, nor will be divulge any other aspects of said negotiations. But trust us: There have been plenty of give and take on both sides.

The 90 sworn members of the Pittsfield Fire Department are officers and firefighters who risk their lives for each and every citizen as well as the thousands of daily visitors to our community each day. These are men who are trained as nationally recognized and certified firefighters, fire inspectors, hazardous materials technicians, high-angle rescue technicians, and Commonwealth of Massachusetts certified Emergency Medical Technicians. We have the department personnel that are members of a FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Team that responded to the World Trade Center on 9-11-2001. We have recognized fire service instructors that give so freely of their time to train other public safety professionals. We have a Critical Stress Debriefing Team that was called upon to counsel first responders at the WTC disaster and if often requested to assist local emergency providers that experience tragic events in the course of their duties.

We are the people who show up when your lives when you’re experiencing the worst possible moment ever. A house fire, a car accident, a drug overdose, grandpa’s cardiac arrest, your daughter’s emergency childbirth, or an elderly woman’s leaking pipe: Whatever it is, we’re part of a public safety team that this community counts on to show up and make things right. And yet, for a journalist who prides himself on sensationalism, we don’t see those good news stories on your blog, do we?

We’ve yet to be approached about the Union’s effort that contributed thousands of dollars in college scholarships to local high school seniors. How about a story to let the public know that over 30% of the fire department’s employees did not use any sick time last calendar year? (That’s quite a feat for a fire department that allegedly has 50% of its firefighters with substance abuse issues! That alone would be a Rupert Murdoch cover story of the year!).

Where’s a good news story about the Pittsfield Fire Department’s military reservists that were actively deployed and returned safely from fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

And one last subject that is near and dear to our hearts: We’ve yet to see an on-line feature on the line-of-duty death of Thomas J. Lange (Ret.), who suffered from a long-term illness as a result of giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a victim of cardiac arrest. Even the Boston Globe thought that was newsworthy!

We’d like to suggest to you, Mr. Valenti, if you have any questions regarding this fire department’s procedures, policies, and personnel, please feel free to contact either one of the undersigned. We’d like to think that we’re probably a couple of the most knowledgeable people on such subjects. We will make every attempt to answer your questions openly in a prompt manner. Please remember that we may be limited in our information sharing due to confidentiality requirements. Most importantly, you may quote us and place our names in your stories for all to see. While innuendo and half-truths may make for sensationalism journalism, we believe that the most honorable and respectable journalist would prefer to use a truly reliable source over some anonymous donor.


Timothy Bartini, President L-2647 [and] Robert Czerwinski, Acting Fire Chief

That’s the letter. THE PLANET will limit our commentary for the moment, in fairness to Bartini and Czerwinski. This will allow people to get the full impact of their rhetoric without counterpoints.

We thank both men for the time, care, and consideration spent in composing and sending this letter.




Special to PLANET VALENTI Sports

PITTSFIELD,  Mass. — The Pittsfield Colonials got strong starting pitching performances from T. J. Wink and Tim Stronach as they swept the New York Federals in a doubleheader for a second straight night, winning 6-0 and 4-1.

In game one, Pittsfield saw Wink (4-0) come out and carve up the Federals lineup in a four-hit shutout. He walked one and struck out two in tossing his first professional complete game and shutout.

Pittsfield got Wink all the runs he needed in the third when they plated three runs on a bases-loaded bit batsman to Danny Bomback, a bases-loaded walk by Angel Molina, and a sac fly by Peter Fatse. The Colonials added two in the fifth and one in the sixth to create the final margin.

In game two, the Colonials got a first-inning run on a sacrifice fly by Angel Molina to go up 1-0. After a Tom Maloney hit scored Eddie Lantigua in the second inning for New York to tie the game, Stronach (2-2) bore down and retired the next 12 in a row, eventually giving up one run and striking out seven in six innings of work. MacKenzie King pitched a perfect ninth, striking out two for his first save.

In the third, Quentin Davis led off with a single. Jerod Edmondson doubled home Davis for a 2-1 lead. After a Bomback sacrifice moved Edmondson to third and Billy Mottram walked, Molina grounded out to first, scoring Edmondson for a 3-1 advantage. Mottram moved to second on the play and scored two batters later on a single by Chris Torres.

The Colonials now face off against Brockton in a key weekend series. On Friday at 7 p.m., Miguel Flores (2-8, 4.54) gets the start for Pittsfield against Julian Sampson (7-3, 3.96) for the Rox. For tickets or information visit or call (413)-236-2961.


  1. Payroll Patriot
    August 12, 2011 at 8:28 am #

    Dan, in reading the letter from the two individuals who are in the Pittsfield Fire Department, I made a few observations:

    – they should take a English course in grammer and word
    usage, maybe from Professor Planet

    – this is a CYA letter, because both individual are reponsible for
    the information getting out of contract negotiations

    – the ACTING CHIEF is co-sharing his duties and administrative
    responsibilities with the UNION HEAD; no wonder he is acting

    – they seemed to take the info getting out, personally

    – everyone knows and appreciates what fire fighters do on their
    paid jobs

    • Jim Gleason
      August 12, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

      Wouldn’t you take personally statement saying that half co-workers and union members were illicit drug users? I sure as hell would. I don’t believe for a second that half, or even a small percentage, of these guys use drugs illegally. I have had experience, being a type 1 diabetic, with these guys and without their help wouldn’t be alive. I think Dan’s info is wrong, totally, on this story.

      • Payroll Patriot
        August 12, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

        Mr. Gleason, I want to write that I have a great deal of respect for you for using your own name. You do show a good intellectual grasp of the City of Pittsfield’s political Blah Blah content. However, if most of the fire department is not using illegal drugs, then why not have random testing ? If I was a firefighter not using drugs, I would look at the situation as a chance to enhance my seniority rankings within the department. You do not see all the employees in the fire department. You see but a snapshot at a moment in time. Any firefighter who is not using any illegal substance should not be the least concerned. Think of this way: if they do the random drug testing for a year plus, we will all know who is correct or incorrect in their speculation of the situation. Additionally, Mr. Kinnas, the only respondent to this point, of Mr. Valenti’s question about random drug testing, supports the position of random drug testing. Mr. Kinnas also included elected and appointed officials. In the past on this blog you have defended Mr. Kinnas. Do you not support him now?

        • Jim Gleason
          August 12, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

          I think all city employee should be required to take random drug tests, I’m saying Dan’s numbers are way off. There’s no way more than half of the firefighters in pittsfield are on illicit drugs, flat out

          • Tim Bartini
            August 12, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

            Thanks for your support. Sorry for the loss of your Dad. I refed girls hoop with him many years ago. Good guy!

          • San Simeon
            August 12, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

            jim g
            You need to read more colsely, as Dan has pointed out several times now, he did not make the allegation of drug use in pfd, it was sources who made the claim, sources he says are on the inside. I have seen valenti proven correct and accurate on too many stories of this type to doubt what he reports and I’m sure the “half” is a figure of speech. I like most of what you write but youre wrong on this one.

        • Tim Bartini
          August 12, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

          You say you respect Jim for useing his own name, yet you don’t use yours! That says alot about you.

    • danvalenti
      August 12, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

      On your points:
      — Professor Planet would gladly take additional fire fighters as students. We’ve had success with several in the past.
      — Agreed on the nature of the letter.
      — Yes, that is an odd arrangement.
      — Again, yes. They had taken this personally for some strange reason.
      — Agreed.

    • Teacher
      August 12, 2011 at 7:26 pm #

      Based on my own observations, you’re the one who should take “a” English course. If you studied with the Professor, you might learn that the appropriate word of choice would be “an.” You might also master the proper spelling of “grammer” which is “grammar.” You could benefit from some instruction in the use of plurals, as well. “Individual” should be “individuals.” Finally this gem, “because both individual (sic) are responsible for the information getting out of contract negotiations.” Excuse me? Just what are you trying to say exactly? Can you clarify in English this time please?

      • Teacher
        August 12, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

        The reply above is directed to Payroll Patriot regarding his initial comment.

  2. Baby Baby
    August 12, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    You reserve comment, yet call it “rhetoric”?

    Doesn’t that make it a comment, and a setup for what will surely follow?

    • danvalenti
      August 12, 2011 at 3:43 pm #

      ANSWER: No.

  3. edconnect
    August 12, 2011 at 10:24 am #

    Payroll Patriot said:

    >>- they seemed to take the info getting out, personally<<

    Who wouldn't take it personally? The Planet said a few days ago that "1/2 of the department would fail a drug test" and asked "So, are up to half of Pittsfield firemen druggies or substance-dependent?" Payroll PAtriot, I dont know where you work but if the planet had said: "My source says 50% of employees at (payroll patriots workplace) would fail a drug test" and asked "is it true that half of the employees of (payroll patriots workplace) are druggies or drug-dependent?" I imagine you'd take that personally. If the BB had a headline: "SOURCE STATES: 50% of BCC adjunct staff would fail drug test, possibly DRUG-DEPENDENT!" I think dan would be upset about that to.

    So using the planets math, the planet thinks that at least one of the two who signed this letter is a drug addict (50%). Or at least he wondered out loud. I think anyone would take being called a druggie or substance-dependent personally.

    The planet used a VERY BIG brush and painted 45 individuals as DRUGGIES and SUBSTANCE-DEPENDENT. But the planet did say it came from a reliable source. So this "source" actually witnessed 45 firemen using drugs? I find that hard to believe. I've lived in Pittsfield for my entire life (except for the 5 years i served in the Navy) I have met about a dozen firemen over the years and never saw a one exhibit any "druggie" behavior never mind use drugs. So using the planets logic and math skills that comes to 0/12 or 0% of all firemen are druggies.

    • danvalenti
      August 12, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

      No, I wouldn’t take anything personally. As a faculty member at BCC, I am already bound by numerous provisions with which I don’t personally agree. Professionally, it’s just part of the job. So if a source states that half the faculty at BCC would fail a drug test, no it wouldn’t bother me in the least. As someone who doesn’t ingest illegal substances and who takes care of himself, I would gladly submit to testing. Also, THE PLANET never accused anyone of anything. We reported factual information on the contract situation and then our source’s comment on drug use. The source, by the way, belongs to the PFD.

      • Allen
        August 12, 2011 at 7:14 pm #

        That’s a lot like the Bill O’Reilly construct “some would say”.

        The Planet didn’t say half the jakes are potheads. The reliable source said it.

  4. ambrose bearse
    August 12, 2011 at 10:30 am #

    Interestingly neither you nor the eagle ever report the attendance

    • danvalenti
      August 12, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

      Last night’s attendance was 1,048. Season’s average is 848. The latter represents a jump of almost 20 percent over last year.

      • ambrose bearse
        August 13, 2011 at 5:02 am #


  5. Jeffrey Turner
    August 12, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    All it takes is a 3-23 opponent to make the Clownials look good.

  6. Shakes His Head
    August 12, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    There is no cohesive communication structure within Pittsfield government because any sort of effective, competent information officer would have nixed this propaganda with “The City does not comment on any aspects of confidential contract negotiations with any collective bargaining unit”.

  7. LV
    August 12, 2011 at 11:46 am #

    Oh, the drama of the Fireman! It blows my mind that they think Mr. Valenti was attacking their value to the public. He said NOTHING that hinted that they were not useful. Some of those who replied implied as such, but HE did NOT. Once again, Mr.Valenti is the whipping boy.

    • danvalenti
      August 12, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

      Well stated!!

  8. for Pittsfield
    August 12, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    Have to agree with p patriot that this is a CYA letter! Too defensive. The union head and the chief (and isn’t that odd how management and union are both so cozy?) basically confirm what the planet wrote about the details. Thats what I take “with enjoyment and great amusement” Thanx, Planet for standing up for us and keeping there feet in the fire. If this is a battle of words, you win hands down (and hats off! )

  9. Richard
    August 12, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

    I see no reason for any union to object to drug testing instead they should embrace it. It is for their safety and everyone else. I had to do drug testing when I worked in manufacturing because of the fact of working on machines. Every city employee should half to no if ands or buts. If there are people who object to it one would half to ask why.

  10. for Pittsfield
    August 12, 2011 at 1:56 pm #

    Yes, Richard is right, that anyone who refused a mandatory drug test would be indicting himself. Agree ” no reason for any union to object to drug testing instead they should embrace it. It is for their safety and everyone else. ” Reading the letter of the chief it looks like the union doesnt want drug testing. Wonder why?

    • danvalenti
      August 12, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

      You raise an excellent point, as does Richard. There’s no reason for anyone in any kind of dangerous job (cop, fireman, construction worker, trucker, etc.) to have an issue with a random drug test. If you do, we can begin looking for dilated pupils, and The Professor isn’t talking about students!

  11. Tim Bartini
    August 12, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

    I stand by the letter written by my self and Chief Czerwinski. We both agreed that your Blogs were erroneous and slanderous. I am especially dissapointed that you could not even Email me { you have my Email address} to find out if your source had any of the facts correct! Dan any time Eagle reporter Dick Lindsey has a question he calls me before his story is printed to make sure his facts are correct. But I guess your type of journalism does not need to verify facts before they are written. Iam proud of my relationship with Chief Czerwinski. We respect each other knowing we each have a responsibility to the City and to the members of PFD. When you stated a source says 50% of the dept are druggies I take that as a slap in the face. The bylaws of the Union state A meeeting of the membership must be posted for 7 days. We had the meeting and the members voted to have some of the language rewritten by our lawyer. There was some concern with the random drug policy language. This is a delicate policy that needs to have all of the ” i”s dotted and all of the “T”s crossed. No where was it ever said that we are against drug testing! Perhaps next time you can go to the source { me or the Chief } before you print a story with such slanderous head lines. Dan your a better reporter than this..
    Tim Bartini Pres local 2647

  12. Emeritus
    August 12, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    “The ongoing contract negotiations between the City of Pittsfield and IAFF Local 2647 have been in progress for over two years.”


  13. Dave
    August 12, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

    What would be “something offered that is comparable in value”?

    This is why they are balking, maybe resisting, drug testing? They want something comparable in value? What could that possibly be unless there are users and they would have to quit?

    • dusty
      August 13, 2011 at 4:59 am #

      This is what jumped out at me. Why should they get something in return for what should be standard procedure? This seems very selfish to me…not something a dedicated public safety group would do.

      I also thought they came out swinging way too defensively and seemed very concerned, not so much as to the accusation, but as to the percentile of 50%. Does Tim feel that there are no users? What percent would Tim feel comfortable with?

      I think these guys do a great job. but like the police and other groups…if you do not police your own this kind of public concern arises.

    August 12, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    Why is the Chief of the fire department and the union leader involved in the contract ????? The Chief should have nothing to do with this. The co signed letter is fine for defending your department and its member but way out of line discussing the contract, if the union wanted to thats fine. Also Tim your comment to payroll is not necessary. Its up to the people if they want to use there names.

    I’m a supporter of the PFD and know they have a very dangerous job. I would hope none would be on illegal drugs but there are people on drugs in ever profession. So for your members and public safety agree to drug testing. I have heard PPD starts September first. I wish you all the best and stay safe.

  15. Joe Pinhead
    August 12, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

    Not sure where to start here, first the opening of the letter shows how little respect for the taxpayers both the union rep and the co-chief have. “It is with great enjoyment and amusement that we read your on-going blog regarding the City of Pittsfield’s contract proposal to the firefighters of IAFF Local 2647.”
    If they had a modicum of respect for the taxpayer and did in fact care about how the taxpaying public sees them, the letter would probably start out more along the lines of: It is with great sadness that we write this letter however in an effort to ensure the record is accurately reflected….
    The letter goes on to state that “Yes, the City would like to see random drug testing. And the Union is willing to entertain that notion, providing that something is offered that is comparable in value.” Umm it’s called your job doesn’t that hold any value? Who here from the private sector could tell their employer I will take the drug test for a mere 50 bucks? At a time when the need for and the existence of public employee unions is called into question and are being examined across the country not the smartest statement one could make.
    I have no firsthand knowledge of any drug use by any member of the PFD however I am certain the PFD like any other group or organization is not immune from it. To suggest they are is to bury ones head in the sand at best and at worst deny the help to someone who might need it for your organizations goal of staying out of the spot light.
    Furthermore there are any number of people in the community who sacrifice an equal amount of time and treasure to ensure that you have the resources to do your job, and to do it safely. Give the taxpayers some respect might I suggest reading what you put out to the public before it hits the public. You posted the piece on the internet the entire world can now see your piece.

  16. danvalenti
    August 12, 2011 at 8:38 pm #

    Excellent points, as usual. You are correct in pointing out the unusual privileges claimed here about the quid-pro-quo. Taxpayers want something reasonable: random drug testing. They want it unconditionally. The something of value, as you point out, is their job.

    • LV
      August 13, 2011 at 6:18 am #

      Good point!

  17. Allen
    August 13, 2011 at 7:14 am #

    Thpp. Thpp. Thhp. Thhp.

    That’s the sound of the Planet milking this non-story.

    • danvalenti
      August 13, 2011 at 8:49 am #

      Got milk?

  18. for Pittsfield
    August 13, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    From what Ive been able to observe the pfd chief and the union leader are agsinst random drug tests unless they get something “of equal value” in return. Oh really? Since when does any employees these days dictate conditions like this. This is why public employees unions are on the way out, taxpayers are fed up. Thanks to the planet, we have at least some information can’t depend on the eagle that’s for sure.

  19. Concern
    August 13, 2011 at 11:43 am #

    No one answer my question. Why is the Chief and union in bed together with this contract. Always thought Chief was separated from union ????????

    • danvalenti
      August 13, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

      This is an EXCELLENT question. I shall be putting it to both men soon.

  20. rick
    August 13, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    hey concern, not in this town……its the twilight zone of politics.

  21. Ray Ovac
    August 19, 2011 at 10:13 pm #

    Tim Bartini, you claim: “We had the meeting and the members voted to have some of the language rewritten by our lawyer. There was some concern with the random drug policy language. This is a delicate policy that needs to have all of the ” i”s dotted and all of the “T”s crossed.”

    Mr. Bartini, surely you can post here the original language of the random drug policy about which your union members had concerns.
    Also, please post beneath it your lawyer’s suggested rewrite of that ‘delicate’ policy wherein your lawyer allegedly dotted I’s and crossed T’s.
    Please let the tax-paying public decide whether any rewrite was actually warranted.
    Further, Mr. Bartini, why should the union ‘get’ anything in exchange for its members verifying that they are obeying federal and state laws regarding illegal drug use?
    People who do not work for city government are not given anything for having to obey the law, so why should city employees get special treatment?