PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, AUG. 16, 2011) — A second candidate for office in Pittsfield, this for the office of mayor, has declared his position on drug testing for firemen and other public emplyees.

Mayoral candidate Joe Nichols, back from his recent honeymoon, told THE PLANET that “after reading your recent columns pertaining to drug testing, I decided to respond.” He issued the following statement:

Candidate Joseph Nichols does support random drug testing for public officials.  We the people deserve to have our tax dollars spent on quality drug free employee’s.  It should be mandated without regard for pay raise negotiations.  Bottom line is, Drug testing is not a violation of our privacy if we are not doing drugs.


Nichols joins school committee candidate Terry Kinnas in taking a position on random drug testing for public employees. Both are in favor. No other candidates for mayor, including Peter Marchetti or Dan Bianchi, has responded. No council candidates have taken a position, and Kinnas is alone among school committee candidates.

THE PLANET, on behalf of We The People, want to know where the hopefuls stand. In fact, just moments ago, we contacted mayoral hopeful Peter Marchetti on Facebook, asking him to give us his position. The entire PLANET is watching.



On a related note, THE PLANET has exchanged communication with a member of the Pittsfield Fire Department over our recent postings.

Fire fighter Dan Amuso, a 28-year veteran of the force, had given THE PLANET information and response on Aug. 13, to which we responded. A productive dialogue ensued. Several messages have been sent back and forth pertaining to THE PLANET’s reporting over the details of the city’s offer of a 4% pay hike in exchange for random drug testing.

The latest exchange between THE PLANET and Amuso occurred Aug. 15. We commend fire fighter Amuso for sharing his views with us and especially using his own name. That is not easy to do in a town with the radioactive politics Pittsfield has, but Amuso told us, “I’ll always sign my name to anything I write. As ‘for the record’ I have to leave those statements to the Union President or Fire Chief. … My comments to you have been on issues already published on your web site. So I have to practice what I preach and not offer my views on these issues [in an official capacity on behalf of the department].”

Amuso said the city and the fire department “already have a drug testing policy in place.” When asked if he could share the details of that policy, he again referred us to the union president. He did say the union agreed to testing “years ago.”

He asked that we “please include the fact that I stated that I won’t comment on the current negotiations and that I left ‘for the record’ statements for the union president of fire chief. My comments were in response to issues already on your website.”

We thank Dan Amuso, and we hope others follow his example of a free exchange of views posted under rightful names.



Before long, we intend to contract all candidates for office for their views on several questions. We will publish the answers of the responders. Those who don’t respond will wish they had.

We have in mind three questions now, but there may be more. You already know one question. It’s the one we’ve asked several times now on this site. It’s the one we asked Peter Marchetti last night (Aug. 15).

Candidates should understand that for this election, with this website in operation, things will be a little different than they have in the past. In 2009, we didn’t have THE PLANET up and running. In 2011, we have a year under our belt. It’s been a year of trial and error, of tweaks and adjustments, leading to a profile of steady growth.

THE PLANET has not gone commercial nor will we, because we want what we write to be not beholden to any commercial advertisers or editorial “bosses” — unbought and bossed, as we like to put it. No one, no matter how powerful or rich they may be, will dictate policy to THE PLANET. Rather the opposite, in fact. On behalf of We The People, with whom we keep in constant touch, THE PLANET will dictate to THEM.

The candidates are temporary help asking to be hired. We intend to treat them that way.

In races that are bound to be close, THE PLANET will be a deal maker and breaker.




Special to PLANET VALENTI Sports

RAMAPO, N.Y. — Pat Moran turned in his third complete game of the season, delivering a five-hitter and his mates backed him with timely hitting as the Pittsfield Colonials downed the Rockland Boulders, 5-1.

The Colonials scored the first run of the game, plating a two-out run on a Billy Mottram double followed by an Angel Molina single. Rockland would tie the game in the third on an single by Ryan Mollica to score Ryde Rodriguez.

Pittsfield would reclaim the lead in the fifth inning. After back-to-back singles by Quentin Davis and Jermel Lomack put runners on second and third with one out, Jerod Edmondson lifted a sacrifice fly to center to plate Davis for a 2-1 Colonials edge.

In the sixth, the Colonials would open the game up a bit as with one out, Molina singled and Peter Fatse doubled. Consecutive singles by Chris Torres and Scott Knazek scored Molina and Fatse to put Pittsfield up by three. A Jermel Lomack single in the ninth scored Knazek to round out the scoring.

Meanwhile on the mound, Moran (9-3) was in complete command. In pitching the first nine-inning complete game of his professional career, the right hander allowed five hits and one run, walking one and striking out seven. In two starts at Rockland this season, Moran has allowed just two earned runs in 17.1 innings. Ryan Knippschild (1-3) took the loss for Rockland, allowing four runs on nine hits over eight innings.

The second game of the series is on Tuesday (tonight) at 7:05 p.m. T. J. Wink (4-0, 1.87) gets the start for Pittsfield against Jon Velazquez (4-5, 4.75) for the Boulders. The pregame show on will begin at 6:45 p.m.







  1. A Vet
    August 16, 2011 at 6:46 am #

    great coverage, planet. I think this (mr. amuso’s comments)makes clear that you are in contact with PFD members and that the info you shared about the contract & drug testng is for real, it’s too bad some have tried (tired , didn’t succeed) to discredit you by calling your style of reporting sensational as if youre only doing it for ratings.

  2. beezer
    August 16, 2011 at 6:55 am #

    Think it up to union leadership to tell its members not to discuss any in house bargaining, period!

  3. Richard
    August 16, 2011 at 7:13 am #

    If the fire department already had a drug test policy in place then why didn’t the chief and union president just say so?

  4. Richard
    August 16, 2011 at 7:17 am #

    Amuso said the city and the fire department “already have a drug testing policy in place.My question is how offend is it one time or is it every so offend.

  5. Shakes His Head
    August 16, 2011 at 9:46 am #

    Solid reporting is sensational and evokes a response from the reader coupled with verified sources. This site reports information with subtle correctness, but there is nothing wrong with that, it is an opinion and news site!

    All the hullaballoo would be avoided if the City’s management would indicate the language under past contracts or policies that provide them the ability to randomly test emergency responders and the frequency that they employ that authority. Performance metrics and comparisons to communities with a similar size, age of building stock, and socioeconomic characteristics would help management understand FD contract negotiations more thoroughly. The FD union has broad national support I’m sure. There are several informative sources that could establish a benefit-cost calculation for investing in our FD. There may be opportunities to update the staffing plan, purchase/lease new equipment, and/or expand training for employees in a way that would make the FD seem professionally managed and provide the taxpayers a return on their investment.

    As to the remark on a past thread about Massachusetts Law prohibiting random drug testing except for certain classifications of workers, well that may be the case. BUT the point of collective bargaining is to establish rules of employment for a class beyond what state laws allow/prescribe in order to provide certainty to management and labor. If a collective bargaining agreement includes provisions for drug testing, then the membership agrees to those terms. As to Federal law, until the SCOTUS rules on random testing as a condition of employment, cherrypicking lines from lower court rulings is contextual and does not establish a ‘bright line’.

    • Payroll Patriot
      August 16, 2011 at 10:08 am #

      SHH, you are very good. I wish you ran for state rep. Come to think of it, you might be perceived by the typical Pittsfield voter as intelleigent, which would cause confusion in their minds. Keep the information coming.

      • Shakes His Head
        August 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

        I don’t know if it counts as information, just my perception based on life experiences. I’ve captained precincts for several elections and voters were always very entertaining. I take my children to vote and although I don’t share who I vote for, I’m careful to explain what I consider important when choosing a candidate. I think this City is enraptured by apathy and lacks a galvanizing issue.

        One thing is for certain, there is change coming to some degree. In all fairness to the concept of representative democracy, the current Council and Mayor are committing massive funds and efforts that the incoming Council and Mayor will have to tax the citizenry to foot the bill. Issues like a long term FD contract shouldn’t be decided by lame ducks.

        Lastly, and I’m not sure if it is true, but if the FD contract did expire two years ago, management needs to rip retro pay unless the union wants to get serious about concessions. Consider the other CBA’s in City hall that are taking static payscales as part of their negotiations in order to save jobs.

  6. Maxwell Edison
    August 16, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    Are there benefits to a four year contract for both sides? If so, recognizing that no mayor can know he/she will be in office more than two years it might be prudent to contract longer than your term.

  7. Payroll Patriot
    August 16, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    Dan, it is interesting to see only 2 candidates responded, but the other candidates can have FUndraisers for a limited number of special interest people. However, they can’t even give an answer to a simple question for the people. Simply stated, they want your money but don’t want to be accountable to the citizens. Will they be that way if elected?

    • Dusty
      August 16, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

      Oh, I think it is glaring that the others will not commit. It speaks volumes to me that you can’t even pick one side or the other. If you could pull the back of their shirts up would it say, “Made in GOB?”

    • Jeff Palmer
      August 16, 2011 at 6:23 pm #

      P.P. You assume that other candidates read Planet Valenti. Who says they do? and what proff do you have?

      • danvalenti
        August 16, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

        Don’t need proof when you KNOW.

        Those who don’t read have their “people” read for them. In a town where politics assumes the deranged proportions such as you find in Benigno Numine, candidates and office holders more-or-less HAVE to monitor a site like this. To politicians, seeing their name in print cannot be resisted.

        I note that you’ve published under your own name (as least it appears that you have). I applaud that.

  8. San Simeon
    August 16, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    @ Shakes His Head, I agree with PP. “Man you are good” Thank you for sharing these excellent well stated thoughts. @Dusty, good one. The GOB label will spell doom for candidates. Where would the city be without this website to at least present some alternative to the junk we get in the eagle, er I mean the BB

  9. Hearse Driver
    August 16, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

    If you “the voters” of Pittsfield are so against tax increases to keep the services funded at the current levels, then perhaps you would like to cut the police Dept to a force of 10, and eliminate the fire dept and make them volounteer.(how many times do you hear on the scanner multiple calls for firemen to respond cuz they dont get any resposes) i have no problem with the firemen and police officers making the kind of money they do considering the type of work they do. Why don’t some of you go on a ride along with a cop and tell me they make good money for putting there life on the line day in and day out. My source told me that a cop who has worked there about 5 yrs is making $21/hr. you do the job for one day and tell me its worth $21/hr. or you run into a burning bldg at 230 am and try to save 3 families and pets all as the bldg is collapsing on top of you. Tell me its worth $21/hr.

    And most of all if you are truly unhappy in Pittsfield, then you can leave at any time. No one is forcing you to stay here. Go to another town in Berkshire County where the taxes are even higher and they dont have the services we do in pittsfield. maybe this town does need a wakeup call, I propose we eliminate all the services we offer, like trash pick up, and full time fire and police, and street sweeping, and plowing and all else. I guarentee the ones complaining about the taxes being to high will be the same ones complaining about the above services being cut.

    Then there is always one last option…Put your money where your mouth is and run for office….that goes for you to Dan Valenti….its pretty easy for someone to sit behind a computer and demand the candidates and elected officials answer your questions.. Like you are someone important. You are a nobody in this city. you seem to have all the answers for everything don’t ya!

    • danvalenti
      August 16, 2011 at 6:56 pm #

      I already hold office. I serve as a member of the Fourth Estate, which guards citizens like you from the tyrannies of government and hack politicians. I assume you are a citizen. If so, then I am addressing the most important person of all!

    • Dusty
      August 17, 2011 at 12:51 am #

      Nobody is forcing the poor policeman to work for a measly $21 per hour. Maybe it is just a rumor but I think they also get a nice health package as well as vacation, sick time, holidays and a pension.

  10. edconnect
    August 16, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    Candidate Nichols said:

    >>>>Bottom line is, Drug testing is not a violation of our privacy if we are not doing drugs.<<<

    You are absolutely right!

    Candidate Nichols will you please agree to the following:

    Take a drug test and post the results?

    May I inspect your home computer and check for anything illegal/immoral/controversial? (I.E porn sites,Kiddie porn, Racist web sites, John birch society sites, etc.)

    May I inspect your phone bill for possible charges to "adult" lines?

    May I inspect you Cable bill to see if you purchase porno movies?

    Bottom line is If you are not doing anything illegal/immoral than it IS NOT a violation of your privacy.

    Also as a side note. Back after 9/11 I remember listening to Dans WBRK radio show as he railed against "The Patriot Act" and the talk at the time of possible "National ID cards" to fight terrorism. Dan if you weren't doing anything wrong why were you against the patriot act? Using your logic anyone against the patriot act must therefore be involved in international terrorism.

    I remember your broadcasts when you spoke against national ID cards. You would use a German accent and say things to the like of "I do not want to live in a society where the government can ***german accent on*** ask for my papers" Dan if your not doing anything wrong why do you care if someone wanted to see your papers??

    • rick
      August 17, 2011 at 5:39 am #

      ed, your a fool.

    • Joseph Nichols
      August 17, 2011 at 8:04 am #

      @edconnect, For your information I would pass all of those tests you mention. There is help for people like you! You’ll feel better about yourself and life if you try to do what is right.


      • danvalenti
        August 18, 2011 at 7:44 pm #

        Good advice here.

  11. danvalenti
    August 16, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

    Gee, it’s because I am the Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler of the PEDESTRIANS, a super-secret world organization dedicated to the overthrow of everything!! You found us out!!

    All seriousness aside, Ed, yes, I remember those shows well, but seriously, you have introduced so many non-sequiturs to THE PLANET and to Nichols (though I will let him speak, or not, for himself) as to open a fish market. Look, go to Syracuse University as I did; become a champion debater, as I did; and devote your life to linguistics, argumentation, and philosophical and formal logic, as I have, and then you might be able to compete … but only if I tie my brain behind my back!

    I might add that your repeated references to pornography, when you’re addressing Mr. Nichols, are most curious! Have you been there and done that? Just asking.

  12. edconnect
    August 16, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    Wow you went to Syracuse? Did you room with Joe Biden? Did he teach to wag your finger at people and say “I’m smarter than you”? Its very clear he taught you how to dodge questions. If your a champion debater you must have learned from the master.

    And for you question for me, Have I been there and done that? Of course. (except the kiddie, thats sick) But its Okay if I do it, but its NOT okay for him!

  13. Shakes His Head
    August 16, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    My particular profession precludes me from holding office. Please note that I haven’t complained about the tax rate or services provided. I have pointed out that I witnessed firemen comment about not being busy. I suspect that if I worked 14 shifts a month rather than the 20 I do, I would find additional ways to better myself and my community, but wait, I do volunteer my time and I do work another 20 plus hours a week.

    I think that government has a responsibility to demonstrate, through tangible metrics, the benefits it provides though services that cost the taxpayer. If anyone thinks that means I am complaining about police, fire, dpw, teachers, or anything else, then they are reading what they want to and not what I’m stating.

  14. rick
    August 17, 2011 at 5:36 am #

    dan, once again i would like to thank you for dedicating your time to the peeps so we can have a say in the happenings in local politics…its kind of crazy that we need a site to tell whats really going on in this city, but thats what bar room and back room politics will bring about. i think we are all arm chair politicians. alot of good ideas come from this site….thanks for not selling your site out to the establishment… sure they would like to silence your views. thanks dan! keep up the good work……..

  15. Hearse Driver
    August 17, 2011 at 6:33 pm #


    I was not reffering to you specifically. I was just making a general statement to the “general” public of readers or followers of this site.

    I just get a little irritated when the south county snobs, such as the operator of this site, who has no interests in the affairs of Pittsfield. He lives in Stockbridge where most of the residents there are 2nd home owners from FL, NY, CT and who cares where else. Most people in Pittsfield have a great amount of respect for the police, fire, teachers, dpw and all other municiple employees. it just seems to me that DV has all the answers to everyones problems.

    I expect to see you run for mayor in 2013. There is plenty of homes for sale here in Pittsfield, So move up from Stockbridge run for mayor and then lets see if you really have the answers to all Pittsfields problems!