PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, DEC. 22, 2011) — Peter White? Let me tell you about Peter White.

His mom, Jean, has just lost her home and her beloved pets. It’s right before Christmas. There are questions about an inoperable fire hydrant that might have been a factor in the loss of building and life, questions that have prompted anger in others? So what does this man do?

He sends message on Facebook and to THE PLANET, thanking people for their kindness and reminding them that his mom’s tenant, Charles Ellsworth, who also lost much in the fire, doesn’t have enough money to pay for his moving expenses. THAT, my friends, is Peter White. In the midst of his own personal pain, he reaches out on behalf of others.

Thank You, Peter White, for Your Kind Spirit

Thank you, Peter White, for your kind spirit, which has graced this community for many years. And folks, whatever you can do to support the fundraiser being held for Peter’s mom and her needy ex-tenant, please do so.

Here are the full details, from the Benefit for Pete White and Family Facebook page, as posted by event organizer Andy Poncherello:

On Monday December 19, 2011 Pete White, his Mom, Jean and their tenant Charles Ellsworth, faced a devastating loss due to a fire that not only caused property damage, but also took the lives of Jean’s beloved pets and a lifetime of memories. While no amount of money can replace any type of loss such as this, its a way for the community to rally around two individuals who have done so much for the city without asking for anything in return.

This is a community event that will feature a variety of musical entertainment as well as a raffle of generously donated items from individuals and merchants throughout Pittsfield and beyond!

Suggested donations will begin at $10, but any amount is appreciated and will be accepted.

Thank you to Chameleon’s for hosting and the performers for donating their time to this cause.

Please share this with friends throughout the community, it’s impossible for everyone to know everyone.

Scheduled list of performers (this list is subject to change):

Comedienne Lease Marie DJ Bob Heck DJ Chuck Wright DJ Friz

Between the Banks Dreimz Rebel Alliance

Even the Odds Amerikkan Citizens The Poncherellos

One Bright Day Forever Autumn The Brothers Damaged

Satellite Shine

A fire fund has been established for the victims of the Plunkett Street fire today to assist the two families that were affected by the fire. The gifts will be used to assist Claudia Jean White and Charles Ellsworth whom resided at that residence. People may send gifts to the 25 Plunkett Street Fire Fund c/o The Pittsfield Cooperative Bank, PO Box 1076, Pittsfield MA 01202 or visit any of the Pittsfield Coop Branches. The fund is being organized by Tanya Mullin and Peter Marchetti so people may also contact them for more information. Tanya may be be reached at 413-443-5092 and Pete can be reached at 413-212-2163. A benefit will also be held Tuesday, December 27, 2011 at Chameleons from 7 pm to ?????

THE PLANET shall be contributing two items for auction:

* A Gift Package of six book by Dan Valenti: Cities Journey, Grapefruit League Roadtrip, TJ: My 26 Years in Baseball (with Yankees star Tommy John), Talking on Air (with Voice of the Red Sox Ken Coleman), Under a Grapefruit Sun (best seller), and Spring’s Third Day. All books are autographed.

* Life on The Planet: Dinner with Dan: You will be bidding on dinner with Dan Valenti. The winner(s) shall have him at their mercy as a captive audience for dinner at one of the city’s fine restaurants. This is your chance to harangue, debate, consort, or otherwise hang out with the man who has been described columnist Felix Carroll of the Albany Times-Union as a “one man mob scene.”

We would now like to post this note from Andy Poncherello, who is organizing and promoting the fundraiser.

Dan, the reason I decided to help Pete, his Mom and Mr. Ellsworth (who I don’t know), is simple. Ever since returning to Pittsfield and reconnecting with Pete, he’s been as supportive as he possibly could with all of my ventures, whether it be the record store or other larger events I was doing around town.

It’s hard to be everywhere all the time, but Pete does a pretty good job showing support wherever he can in Pittsfield and it’s not just about getting votes because if it were, it wouldn’t be sincere. I believe Pete is sincere and he’s showed that to me, which is funny because he’s not even my ward rep, I am in 1 he is in 2, but we live a block away from each other. We know many of the same people and they all seem to be rallying around him in this rather trying time.

One time when I needed to get my wife to work and I ended up getting her car stuck in the driveway due to the major snow (and illustrious plowing job by city contractors), I couldn’t shovel out the car because my asthma was causing me extreme breathing problems. I went on Facebook and asked if anyone could help get her to work and within 5 minutes, he called me and asked me what time she had to be at BMC. I said 7 and he said “well, I have to be to work at 8, let me take care of the dog, take a shower and I’ll be there in 15 minutes.” He showed up as promised and got her to work for 7:30am on a day where I should’ve gone to the ER myself for breathing.

Things like that and the use of his Triple A one day for a tow are two reasons why I would do whatever I could to help Pete, his Mom and Mr. Ellsworth. Most importantly, Pete’s a bowler and that goes without saying, bowlers help other bowlers 

Without question I called Don at Chameleon’s and asked him if he’d do the benefit and he said absolutely. I have been successful at organizing events (that sometimes could have better success  ) and since this is my strength started working on this benefit event that will include many friends, neighbors and strangers who know of the work Pete and his Mom have done for Pittsfield and will continue to do. 

Let’s Do Our Best to Put a Happy Ending on this Event

At the end of It’s a Wonderful Life, the town of Bedford Falls rallies to save the life of George Bailey. It’s the kind of schmaltzy Hollywood ending, much mocked, that nonetheless plucks the strings of the noblest instincts of the human heart. THE PLANET urges everyone to help right a good ending to this story for Mrs. White, Mr. Ellsworth, and, above all, Peter White, the “George Bailey” of Pittsfield.

We thank everyone who can and will help.







  1. Shakes His Head
    December 22, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    Thank you for the update, Dan.

    • danvalenti
      December 22, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

      Glad to oblige.

  2. Ray Ovac
    December 22, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    For those who are interested, the entire list of dry hydrants throughout Pittsfield is supposed to be available via FOIA request to City Hall (or maybe to the Water Dept. or maybe to the Fire Dept.). The Mayor’s got ten days in which to respond. If he doesn’t, the person filing the original request can turn the matter over to the Office of Sec’y of State which then prevails on Hizzoner to release the information.

    Re: the White fire: Are the house and its contents covered by fire insurance?

    • dusty
      December 22, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

      I guess I am not so much interested in the list itself but more as to why they exist in the first place. i knew we had a lot of fake people in Pittsfield but the hydrants were a surprise.

    • danvalenti
      December 22, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

      Why isn’t this list voluntarily given out and published citywide. Why is a city councilor calling for such a list? Why must it always be left up to We The People to pull teeth to get transparency? Perhaps Mayor-elect Bianchi will call for the list. It’s a potential life and property saver. No one wants to be living near a dead hydrant in a moment of need.

      • Molly
        December 22, 2011 at 7:59 pm #

        Why isn’t the list given to the Fire Department so they know not to waste precious time on a fake hydrant and can have a back-up plan from the get-go? And, why are there dead hydrants at all — fix them!

        • Joe Pinhead
          December 22, 2011 at 8:23 pm #

          Didnt we have Mr Barrett out with the DPW crews to ensure that plowing and maintenance was done correctly? Wasn’t he also in part responsible for the big red pot hole machine? 5K a month we spent and we don’t have tags or a be on system for life safety issues for our citizens? Unacceptable
          When the alam is initiated information should be fed to the appropriate people instantly. Example Fire call at 1313 Mockingbird lane the city databases should sort and send relative info, Travel path of equipment, in case there’s still construction at the Common for example, closest hydrant and both its capacity and fitting size, date last tested and by whom. Number of occupants of the buildings we do fill out a city census form children? Are they in school? Dog licenses etc. And any other relative information that could be used upon arrival to make clearer descions such as floor plans user installed supression systems etc. And all this should be gathered and sent while enroute to the scene But we will be getting another supermarket at the WSBP. To bad we won’t get the company that develops and deploys the data and the transfer systems mentioned above. I guess we will be left to ponder the eternal question Paper or plastic?
          Just sayin

      • dusty
        December 23, 2011 at 2:37 am #

        Perhaps Bianchi will call for the list…Let’s not put anymore on the back of Ruberto. No more houses will catch fire for a while anyway. This can wait.

  3. joetaxpayer
    December 22, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    Waterstone Retail Development owns 28 shopping centers not including what is in the planning stages.They range in size from 11,000 to 270,000 sq. ft. with 24 under 100,000 sq. ft.and 9 under 50,000.15 of the plazas that they own are anchored by a grocery store.There web site states that they are grocery-anchored.With that being said and the fact that the big-y is dying to get out of there building downtown would not be surprised if Big Y was the anchor or another supermarket chain.

    • Joe Blow
      December 22, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

      I was under the impression that food was a no go on a toxic waste site….

    • danvalenti
      December 22, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

      On tomorrow’s PLANET, we shall begin a thorough vetting of this issue. There are many BIG questions, including the one asked today on FB by Ward 4 councilor Mike Ward: When did the official core mission of PEDA change from trying to get manufacturing jobs to shopping/retail jobs. The former pay well with benefits? The latter, generally, don’t provide a livable wage.

      • Shakes His Head
        December 22, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

        Dan, I look forward to a lively discussion on this subject tomorrow. Wouldnt it be ironic if Big Y abandoned the building that sits on the site of one of Pittsfield’s most tragic mistakes, the removal of Union Station?

      • dusty
        December 23, 2011 at 2:42 am #

        Dan, it is great that we are vetting all these issues. i.e. the schools financial issues, the police dept steroid mess, BHS and the Cayman Island mystery, etc. etc. But why do they all seem to build up a head of steam and then just die on the vine with nothing solved? Discussing is great but would it not be awesome if someone was in charge of picking up the ball and running it into the end zone?

        • danvalenti
          December 23, 2011 at 7:49 am #

          The answer lies in what I call the “agenda setting” function of a responsible press. The media has a duty, in my book, to help articulate, reveal, and express the issues that affect a local community. What are the systemic problems that prevent the area from achieving success? Who is getting in the way? What are the impediments to growth? The answers to these question, articulated by the media, need to come from (a) our elected and appointed officials, who, in the name of We The People, receive the power to affect systemic change, and (b) from The People themselves, through their involvement and the pressure they put on officials. THE PLANET has raised the issues you mentioned and more, often treading where others fear to tread. At least that much is now being done. Prior to us, the whitewash was on. We aren’t getting every issue, all the time, but we’ve done our job. We have ferreted out more big stories in the past year than the BB has in the past decade. The coverup game used to be: Don’t worry — No one will cover it. Now it’s, if Valenti covers it, don’t worry. Nothing will happen. We can’t do it alone.

  4. Joe Pinhead
    December 22, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    Great I raised those questions yesterday on the planet, here’s what I ask; What is the prevailing legal document that details the development of the area? That would be the Master Plan that the public payed dearly for. Has it been amended? Updated to reflect the new desire for retail? If not could it be that others claim they desired to establish retail on the site but didn’t persue based on what is defined in the scope of use as defined by the master plan? Who wants to share an electronic copy of the document for us all to read and review?
    Just askin

    • Molly
      December 23, 2011 at 12:57 am #

      No can do! The PEDA Master Plan has disappeared from cyber space (along with a few other city documents that I’ve been looking for recently). I found links to it from the PEDA site and the EPA website, but mysteriously, it has disappeared and the links just error-out. As Gomer Pile used to say, “surprise, surprise, surprise!” – Take a look – upper left side, it says, “click here to download the Master Plan 28 MB” Don’t waste your time – it’s not there. BUT – you could go to the website specifically for the “William Stanley Business Park” but I wouldn’t recommend that as there’s next to nothing on this site, either. Under the “Our Mission” tab, you will see: “In keeping with the strategic focus, the park is designed as a campus-like and livable environment in a small city setting”.

      I did find a short one-page summary of it: but it won’t let me copy and paste any of the text. Hmmmmm – what in the hell is going on? Here’s a few things that are stated (as it backs up what you said on your earlier post):
      “target markets are light manufacturing, rail dependent companies, office space and research & development laboratories”. “The park includes complementary site amenities such as an adult education/job training center, shared support services including printing, overnight mail delivery, office space and food services for employees on the site. Other advantages of the site are its rail access” etc. PEDA and Sasaki strived to preserve the desirable attributes of the site, ensure the quality of design, create desired cohesion of landscape and architectural design and target a market of users.”

      “Critical to the design considerations were the key architectural features of the buildings that already exist in downtown Pittsfield…….”. “The buildings are oriented toward the streets and are located close to one another to create a sense of community.” “The planners designed a pedestrian path system that would link every business location to Silver Lake.”

      • Joe Pinhead
        December 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

        Molly I too looked at those sites and came up empty handed, I did however find it at Glenns link but it is different than he posts.
        Please follow this link
        Thanks Joe Pinhead

  5. Concern
    December 22, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

    Just read plans for Tyler St area. I see nothing at all wrong with. Actually I believe it’s worth exploring. It could help this blight area.

  6. ambrose
    December 22, 2011 at 5:36 pm #

    hope it includes a pizza emporium

  7. Dave
    December 23, 2011 at 2:23 am #

    This area needs jobs that will support a family. A 170,000 sq ft retail complex is not what was originally slated foe this site. The last thing we need is more retail.

  8. Jeff C
    December 23, 2011 at 5:52 am #

    It wouldn’t be a grocery store. The Consent Decree and DEDA the City signed with GE does not allow for any food service operation to be built on the property. No grocery store, no food packaging, no fast food restaurants.

    Actually in the DEDA and Consent decree there are several types of businesses that are not allowed to be built on the property which may be one of the many reasons it’s taken so long to find any viable tenets.

    Although two very lengthy documents, give them both a read. You’ll find out alot of intersting things. Several different types of businesses could never be located on that propert i.e. school, sports stadium, park, food service, medical production. Probably because of Health concerns.

    Its more likely to be a Christmas Tree Shop. If you look at market studies and what types of shops Pittsfield already has their are some stores that just don’t make sense.

    We have to realize that although it may be our goal to get manufacturing jobs to relocate to Pittsfield and Berkshire County manufacurting in the country is all but dead. Pittsfield has many barriers: lack of good roads, no easy access to a major highway that are huge issues when looking at moving a manufacturing or distribution operation to Pittsfield. They should be concentraing on emerging technologies and small to medium sized businesses. Maybe look to more spin offs from the global foundries project in Malta. Although I am just as disapointed as everyone else in the PEDA project I have to say its about time that the board accept the fact that the chances of attracting a large manufacture to that prperty is less than 1%.

    I share everyone’s concerns over the process by which PEDA changed their mission i.e. when, why, etc but I have to agree that at this point I’d like to just see some postive signs of jobs. Maybe their not the kind of jobs we want, or the jbos that will support a family but its better than nothing.

    • Mike Ward
      December 23, 2011 at 8:25 am #

      Actually, it’s not better than nothing. It’s worse than nothing.

      • Dave Martindale
        December 23, 2011 at 8:51 am #

        I’m with Mike. There is a limited amount of space in this area that is suitable for manufacturing. To consume that space with retail space is far worse than doing nothing.

        There is ample empty retail space. Why bring more retail to the area and stress the businesses already here.

        This is no more than another terrible compromise that is not good for Pittsfield.

        We need jobs that will support a family.

        • Dave G
          December 23, 2011 at 11:44 am #

          If the g.e. site is not developed by a certain time does’nt the property revert to g.e.

      • joetaxpayer
        December 23, 2011 at 8:56 am #

        Agree, with you Mike.Hopefully some day the economy will rebound.There is only so much industrial land in the city.This project will waste 16 acres of prime land.We must be ready if there is a chance of landing a new bussiness or a local bussiness looking to expand.

      • Judas Priest
        December 23, 2011 at 9:37 am #

        Agree with you Mike, they raise hopes for a “big announcement” then this?

    • pjmh
      December 23, 2011 at 9:04 am #

      Obviously, the PEDA site is an absolute wreck. IMO, shocking that anyone would want to work here, but stranger things have happened. This area can’t support the “Tier 1” retail stores so alas, some ole’ shite…

    • joetaxpayer
      December 23, 2011 at 9:04 am #

      They are always away around this things,thats what lawyers are for.At one point a school was slated to go on the site and a park is scheduled to be built around silver lake.

  9. GMHeller
    December 23, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    You’re in luck!
    Here’s a link to the 63-page PDF file containing PEDA’s so-called Master Plan.
    Hope this helps.
    http: // berkshireeagle.blogspot .com/2011/12/pittsfield-economic-development.html

    • Joe Pinhead
      December 23, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

      Thanks Mr. Heller

  10. GMHeller
    December 23, 2011 at 3:01 pm #

    Joe Pinhead and Molly,
    In addition to a thorough review of the Master Plan, it might pay as well to review the original enabling legislation.
    Both documents are lengthy, but there has got to be a reason the people at PEDA and City Hall who make the decisions decided to decommission PEDA’s link to the Master Plan thereby preventing the general public access to the document. Links don’t decommission by themselves.
    Here is a link to the Enabling Legislation which created PEDA in 1998:
    http: // http://www.berkshireeagle.blogspot .com/2011/03/pittsfield-economic-development.html
    Hint: To make the link work, remove the 3 extra blank spaces added to enable it to be posted here sans ‘moderation’.

  11. GMHeller
    December 23, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

    Also, here’s another link to the Enabling Legislation, but this one connects directly to the Legislature’s Web site.
    The relevant text starts at Section 2 (in bold):
    http: // http://www.malegislature .gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/1998/Chapter486

    December 23, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    Well welcome back GMHeller. Where have you been??

    • GMHeller
      December 24, 2011 at 2:16 am #

      Cayman Islands.

  13. Molly
    December 23, 2011 at 9:29 pm #

    THANK YOU, HELLER!!!!!! Welcome back!!!! 🙂

  14. Ray Ovac
    December 24, 2011 at 9:21 am #

    DV, the first day Dan Bianchi is in office, he should make it a point to be seen going around to each of the closed fire hydrants throughout the city — all twenty of them — along with the heads of the departments involved: fire, water, public utilities, and public works. He should bring the list and ask a single question while standing in front of each hydrant for all the neighborhood to see. The question: Right now, give me a date certain when this hydrant will be repaired or replaced?

  15. joetaxpayer
    December 25, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    All hydrants that are dry should be painted balck until they are fixed.When they are repaired paint them yellow.Keep this process at all times.Seems like a simple solution