PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, DEC. 27, 2011) — First, let’s give a final plug to the benefit, to be held tonight beginning at 7 p.m. at Chameleon’s nightclub on outer East Street (the former Pete’s Diner and Bobby Hudpuckers) for the benefit of Peter White’s mother and her tenant, who were burned out of their homes (Jean White also lost her pets in the fire).

Won’t You Rock Out to Help the Whites, Tonight?

THE PLANET will be there to help launch the evening, materially and in spirit. As for the former, we have donated two items for auction:

* A collection of six books written by Dan Valenti, all signed.

* “Life on The Planet: Dinner with Dan,” where the winner gets dinner with captive-audience Valenti and Mrs. Planet.

This event is not about the anger associated with a fire hydrant being inoperable. This is not about the entertainment (comics, bands, DJs, MCs). This is not about anything else than the people of Pittsfield rising to the occasion by fulfilling their best human instincts, which is, always, to help those in genuine need.

Hope you can make it, all for a great cause. Peter White has spent years caring about Pittsfield. Now it’s time for Pittsfield to show that it cares for him.


A Closer Inspection of PEDA Action to Go Retail

The outrage in many quarters at the sudden announcement of a retail shopping center for 16 acres of the PEDA property continues. This is not yet a done deal. The developer and PEDA are still negotiating. There is also a threat of legal action against PEDA on the charge of violating its own code of conduct. It could be all talk or it could be serious. The developer would do well to reconsider before getting involved in what could be the LaBrea Tar Pits, PEDA style.

A look at the enabling documents that govern the PEDA site seem clear enough:

Here is a page from the PEDA governing charter. This appendix lists allowable and prohibited enterprises for the former GE site:


ATTACHMENT D Use Restrictions/AULs

The parties agree to develop and impose use restrictions on the Transferred Property using this Attachment D as guidance. The Transferee shall remain responsible for and ensure the Use Restrictions are followed and enforced. The intent of the Use Restrictions is to prevent future users or visitors from undertaking any activity that could be undesirable from a health, safety or risk management perspective. As such, the site will be deemed suitable for light- industrial or office use only, except as set forth herein.

Permitted uses–light-industrial and office such as: warehousing and storage

product distribution information technology manufacturing and support wholesale assembly and other light manufacturing packaging data processing and software development administration financial services (non-retail)

ProhibitedUses: residential;ATTACHMENT D Use Restrictions/AULs

ProhibitedUses(cont.): educational facilities including, without limitation: infant; child; youth or adult

education. Notwithstanding the foregoing, GE agrees to work with PEDA to develop, if feasible, adult education at a new building to be constructed on the Transferred Property;

except as provided elsewhere in this Agreement, recreational or athletic facilities;

day care or elder care; commercial (shopping center,mall, retail, etc.); museums, galleries or libraries (except as part of educational facilities as set forth above); food-based businesses (restaurants, grocery stores, food storage or handling) (except as incidental to educational facilities as set forth above or as part of customary and necessary internal operations by permitted users);

Exceptions to Prohibited Uses

– if agreed to by the parties and provided that the site- specific environmental conditions permit, alternate site uses may be permitted on the Transferred Property.


Is It Safe? It Doesn’t Appear to Be

First, do you notice that almost all the prohibited uses involve places or activities where the general public would gather. A manufacturing floor would not be for the general public. Only qualified personnel, i.e., employees, would work there. A retail shopping center is different. It is open to everyone and draws a cross-section of humanity.

But notice. When they drew up the documents, the included a long list of prohibited uses at the PEDA site, in Attachment D.

* They don’t want food handling on the PEDA site.

* They don’t want schools.

* They don’t want day care and elder care.

* They don’t want museums, galleries, or libraries.

* They don’t want commercials uses — shopping centers, retail, malls, etc.

Hmmmm — Do you think the property’s still contaminated? Do you think the enabling documents tried to limit use by the general public to limit liability on the part of the developers or companies who would go there? As an aside, what kinds of indemnities did Mountain One (or Action Ambulance) agree to as part of their agreement to build on the PEDA site? It might be instructive to learn. Of course, these types of details are never forthcoming in Pittsfield.

Reading Attachment D, there certainly appear to be health risks and safety risks associated with the PEDA site, or else, why the restricted uses? In short, translating this in the vernacular, it seems that GE got off without cleaning up the site. They just transferred the property to the city, trucked some surface toxins away, paved and landscaped over the poisons, and left the site in a hazardous condition. Why else would they have these restrictions?

When, How, Where, Why and by Whom Did the ‘Use Plan’ for PEDA Change? 

Second, notice the prohibited use of “commercial (shopping center, mall, retail, etc.).” Notice that these restrictions are described in Attachment D considered “imposed” on the signatories.

QUESTION: So when, why, and how did the PEDA board — Corydon Thurston, Gary Grunin, Jimmy Ruberto et. al. — decide to secretly throw out the PEDA Master Plan and violate 13 years of understandings on the future development and use of the site?

QUESTION: Will Mayor-elect Dan Bianchi dare look into this. All that’s riding on it is the very economic fate of the city?

QUESTION: Will anyone on the incoming council take up the banner and lead the fight against this hijacking? Will anyone on the new council insist on a more transparent performance by the PEDA board, such as monthly updates?

During the mayoral campaign just finished, Dan Bianchi different sharply from Peter Marchetti with respect to PEDA. Bianchi said he would take a seat on the board and assume an active role there. He said more than once that he wasn’t happy with how PEDA was run. Marchetti said he would not sit on the board. Bianchi won election, barely. He must fulfill this promise regarding PEDA. His first act as a board member should request a public hearing on the hijacking of the PEDA Master Plan to allow a prohibited use. Why? Who will benefit from this?

Loophole Knocks Due Process for a Loop

Does Appendix D have a giant loophole that will allow this dictatorial action by the PEDA board?

Read: “Exceptions to Prohibited Uses — if agreed to by the parties and provided that the site-specific environmental conditions permit, alternate site uses may be permitted on the transferred Property.”

THE PLANET ran this language by a couple of lawyers. The language, said one, is “vague to the point of cleverness.” She says her interpretation suggests the language would technically permit the shopping center. Another barrister disagrees. He says this move to a retail shopping center could be successfully challenged by the “site-specific environmental conditions” particular to the PEDA site. If the site has been deemed unsuitable for the listed restricted uses, what, then, has PEDA done to remove these dangerous conditions? In other words, what has changed that would allow a prohibited use?

Perry Mason also says it can be argued that an “alternate site use” would preclude any of the restricted uses defined in Attachment D. Such an “alternate site use” would have to be a use not mentioned as a restriction and, likely, not expressly permitted as defined in the Attachment. He also agrees that the language is deliberately vague.

Both attorneys agree that the apparent move from the defined Master Plan to a defined prohibited use might be actionable any party wanting to halt the shopping center. The new mayor, for example, could halt the project with legal action, pending answers to the outstanding questions.

If you are Waterstone, the Needham developer, would you now rather than risk getting entangled in a legal hornet’s nest built by askew Pittsfield politics, or would you, having surveyed all options, reconsider?






  1. Still wondering
    December 27, 2011 at 8:24 am #

    Funny how it’s the lawyers who benefit most from this proposal.

  2. Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
    December 27, 2011 at 8:25 am #

    Anyone heard of Senate Bill 1867? This is downright scary…Check out
    for more info..
    In Saturdays Berkshire Eagle, section B, Alan Chartock seems to be taking pot shots at what I am assuming to be Berkshire Records, David Scribner with his “A weekly newspaper publisher will get himself into legal and financial trouble” statement and also with Dan V with his “A vicious blogger will be jailed for illegal activities. He will run afoul of the Internal Revenue Service for serious violations” anyone know what axe Little Al has with Scribby and The Planet?

    • Ray Ovac
      December 27, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

      Has the Eagle ever published a scorecard showing a ‘batting average’ for Alan Chartock’s annual predictions? He’s been making predictions since ‘Mario and Me’ so it shouldn’t be too hard to calculate hits versus misses.

      • Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
        December 27, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

        I haven’t seen it Ray O…just wondering why or if he is snipping at DV and Scribby and why? Anyone

        • danvalenti
          December 27, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

          Can’t help you there. We do not read Alan (or his dog). If he is sniping, we can’t imagine why, but if he wishes, we shall be more than happy to duke it out on the air!

          • Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
            December 27, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

            Would love to see you take him to task DV. He seemed to calling you out…

          • danvalenti
            December 27, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

            Alan is afraid of going up against THE PLANET, live and in real time. We’ve challenged him to a debate. He refused. Someone ought to tell that banjo hitter that he’s got nothing to fear accept fear itself … and The Kid!

          • dusty
            December 27, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

            A ticketed debate with the proceeds going to the White charity. Alan is familiar with the charity concept is he not? i am sure he would be willing to help out. Are you on board Alan Chartock? To help out some fire victims?

            Maybe just a nice donation? Thank you very much ahead of time.

      • danvalenti
        December 27, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

        He’s well below the Mendoza Line. Of course, doubt the BB would publish that. Did you see the Page One story they had on Saturday: We read the shocking story of how fantastic all the area ski areas are doing with no snow!

      • Tony Truran
        December 27, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

        Someone should open the WAMC books and get Chartock in hot water with the IRS

        • Molly
          December 27, 2011 at 5:24 pm #


    • Scott
      December 27, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

      That’s why everyone should own a gun. Also I would like to point out that most people love their gov’t you know the whole due process thing the constitution and the bill of rights it’s the scummy politicians that are destroying it and war should waged on those who write bills of this nature not the ones who speak their beliefs in accordance with the laws of our republic. whether you like the tea party or or occupy movement or any other is irrelevant it is their right as Americans to speak their minds and we NEED groups like these.

    • Molly
      December 27, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

      I think it’s scary that this website spews such garbage!!! Senate Bill 1867 does NOT say that OWS protestors, or ANY protestors, or ANY America citizen, can be detained, jailed, and/or murdered. It DOES say that this does NOT extend to Citizens of the United States and as for “lawful resident aliens”, that this does NOT extend to them on the basis of conduct WITHIN the United States EXCEPT as allowed by our Constitution.
      (1) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in paragraph (4), the Armed Forces of the United States shall hold a person described in paragraph (2) who is captured in the course of hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) in military custody pending disposition under the law of war.
      (2) COVERED PERSONS- The requirement in paragraph (1) shall apply to any person whose detention is authorized under section 1031 who is determined–
      (A) to be a member of, or part of, al-Qaeda or an associated force that acts in coordination with or pursuant to the direction of al-Qaeda; and
      (B) to have participated in the course of planning or carrying out an attack or attempted attack against the United States or its coalition partners.
      (b) Applicability to United States Citizens and Lawful Resident Aliens-
      (1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.
      (2) LAWFUL RESIDENT ALIENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to a lawful resident alien of the United States on the basis of conduct taking place within the United States, except to the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States.

      • Scott
        December 27, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

        Molly what about states of emergency?

        • Molly
          December 27, 2011 at 10:28 pm #

          I think you know the answer to that so please tell me. And Federal State Of Emergency, State Governor declaration of State Of Emergency, or?? I know that we are still under a “State Of Emergency” from 911…

  3. Richard
    December 27, 2011 at 8:36 am #


  4. Ray Ovac
    December 27, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    DV, correct me if I’m wrong, but PEDA is a ‘public body’ under the definitions set forth in MGL c.30A, s.18-25 ‘Mass. Open Meeting Law’ (Effective July 1, 2010); and also under the definitions set forth in the Code of Massachusetts Regulations 940 CMR 29 ‘Open Meeting Law Regulations’.
    Therefore, PEDA is subject to the Open Meeting Law as well as to the state’s Freedom of Information Act.
    FOIA requests are thus in order to determine:
    1) Did Definitive Economic Development Agreement (DEDA) prohibitions ever become “deed restrictions” on PEDA land?
    2) Did PEDA ever exercise “its right under the DEDA to broaden allowed uses”?
    3) If indeed PEDA exercised its right to broaden allowed uses, when exactly did PEDA’s board meet and vote to officially approve this change and to broaden uses to include ‘commercial retail’?
    4) Was PEDA’s board meeting (mentioned in 3 above) advertised in advance under the state’s Open Meeting law, and was notice given the public that the meeting agenda included voting to broaden allowed uses on PEDA land to include commercial retail?

    PEDA’s records custodian has ten days to respond to formal FOIA requests.

    • Shakes His Head
      December 27, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

      1) Deeds are at the registry of deeds. No need to FOIA.
      2) FOIA is for specific information, not broad questions.
      3) FOIA is for specific information, not broad questions. You could examine the minutes of all the board meetings personally and find this out.
      4) Each meeting should have a copy of the meeting notice. Read through the minutes and FOIA the specific meeting materials if you find anything.

      Remember the petitioner will be provided an estimate of what it costs to identify and reproduce the records. The request should be specific.

      • danvalenti
        December 27, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

        Thank you for this valuable addition to our discussion.

    • Molly
      December 27, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

      They describe themselves as a quasi-public agency. Does this change anything? It was created by a special act of the Massachusetts State Legislature, so I guess we need to have that document and read it.

  5. Shakes His Head
    December 27, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    I see the conundrum. I’m sure the overall document has more weasel words than an 84 month used car lease. Remember this though, the rights for how to use land run with the land, not with the person that owns it. I think the deed restrictions point may be valid if there are encumbrances. Prior to or along with transfer GE could get a little sneaky.

    During the process though, the City would have to assume that whatever PEDA brought forward was in its rights. PEDA is the owner and the responsible party with standing. A party would have to first seek standing, then present grounds for an injunction if it is in the case of PEDA’s rules or the Consent Agreement.

  6. Dead to Rights
    December 27, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

    ANother posting of enormous significance for Pittsfield.Here they change the “rules” of the game without telling anyone. It’s all OO with the BB. Planet again covers stuff of the kind that the boring broadsheet ignores. Planet has done it again, showing the pathetic bb how its done /

    • danvalenti
      December 27, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

      Thank you for your kind words and support. We agree with your assessment of the BB on many key stories — a line we shall follow on tomorrow’s PLANET.

  7. Molly
    December 27, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    Well, I was just about to post wording (a re-type) from the PEDA’s “home” web page along with the link to it (to give them credit), when it occurred to me to check out the “terms of use”. So I will only say to go to PEDA’s website, it’s home page, and read the little blurb that is there on what PEDA must do, etc., and to also read the “terms of use”. And let us know what you think…

    • Ray Ovac
      December 27, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

      Molly, the PEDA Website’s ‘Terms of Use’ are all boiler plate. Note PEDA just cut and paste the whole thing in without even changing use of the word ‘Company’ throughout. PEDA is not a company, it’s an economic development authority, a government body. It’s debatable whether any of these terms of use is even enforceable what with PEDA being a public entity. Feel free to copy and post whatever wording you please from PEDA’s web site and dare them to do anything about it.

  8. Molly
    December 27, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    DV – unfortunately, I am unable to attend the benefit tonight for Peter White’s Mom and Tenant. Do you happen to know where I can still donate to? If so, sharing that would be appreciated. If not, I’ll search for it. Thanks!

    • danvalenti
      December 27, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

      You can donate by mailing your contribution to Pittsfield Cooperative Bank, c/o 25 Plunkett Street Fire Fund, PO box 1076, Pittsfield, MA 01202-1076. For more information, contact Tanya Mullin at 413-443-5092 or Peter Marchetti at 413-212-2163.

      • Molly
        December 27, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

        GREAT!!! Thanks so much!

  9. Abtakoma
    December 27, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    Dan: You raise good questions, but I’m wondering why you don’t call to try and get answers, too. Otherwise you’re doing half your job and just end up sounding like a local limbaugh or beck — “hey, im just asking questions..” Peda’s exec director probably dosent read your blog. Call him and ask! His number is 494-7322, cell is 770-7922 , although you know that already because it is attached to the announcement you got.

    Pretty sure there is no big conspiracy here. Agree with it or not, peda asked GE for an exception to those terms and the corporate overlords agreed. But ask Thursron, he’ll give you the full scoop.

    • danvalenti
      December 27, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

      Appreciate your thoughts. I would respectfully say that I AM doing my job, which is to uncover the coverups. I shall be a “limbaugh or a beck”, in your words (not mine!) and not do the job other traditional news outlets should do. I do have one or two other things going on at the moment and couldn’t possibly make all the phone calls that other outlets should be doing. As you will see from tomorrow’s PLANET, I HAVE been making phone calls … only not to the usual suspects, who I hear from anyways. That being said, I might give Corydon a visit to see if I can borrow a cup of sugar. Thanks for your contribution.

    • Ray Ovac
      December 27, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

      DV, if what ‘Abtakoma’ is saying is true, and if indeed “PEDA asked GE for an exception” or for a broadening of allowable uses, then all that correspondence between PEDA and GE along with the resulting legal documentation containing GE’s own stipulations, etc. would be subject to FOIA.

      • San Simeon
        December 27, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

        Not only that but it would mean theres been lots of corespondence between PEDA and GE. Didn’t mayor Ruberto say the deal has been in the works for a year? And they wonder why people don’t trust them. nothing of this came out, but this property is there in OUR name, right? I would like PEDA to release all correspondence.

    • Molly
      December 27, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

      “Pretty sure there is no big conspiracy here” — then WHY all the secrecy? And taking down their Master Plan so that no one could see that Retail wasn’t allowed per the “Master Plan”? Why have a Master Plan at all if it’s not going to be followed? The citizens of this city are sick and tired of all the secrecy and “behind closed door meetings” and the sleaziness that happens in this city. PEDA vowed TRANSPARENCY. Where is it? And because there is none, then yes — there sure is/was “something” going on that they didn’t want us citizens to know about. Can you disagree with that?

    • Ray Ovac
      December 27, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

      Abtakoma, how nice to know that a property considered too chemically-contaminated for retail just eight years ago is, as if by magic, now considered just fine for that exact purpose. What changed? Has anyone noticed any major excavations of chemical waste taking place on that site? Has remediation been taking place that no one knows about? How is land once too poisoned to allow for the general public’s use now suddenly for use by the daily masses. Please explain?

      • Ray Ovac
        December 28, 2011 at 3:02 am #

        And Abtakoma, let’s of course take up the suggestion of the well-intentioned but plainly clueless letter writer to the Eagle this past Tuesday (Dec.27) to have the Berkshire Food Co-op take its place amongst the formerly forbidden retail shops now welcomed into the Wm. Stanley Business Park. What better way for a new generation of Pittsfield’s best and brightest to get its daily dose of aromatics, PCB emissions (and god-knows-what else is in the air around that place) than through fruits, nuts, veggies, and our afternoon lattes.

        • Ray Ovac
          December 28, 2011 at 3:04 am #

          From the Eagle:
          ‘Berkshire Co-op at Stanley Park’
          Tuesday December 27, 2011
          I think it would be great if The Berkshire Co-op market, if it is expanding and considering a move, might consider the William Stanley Business Park in Pittsfield as a future home. This fabulous and unique co-op offers dietary and home health care alternatives that many more people could and should know about and benefit from.
          As I travel almost daily past the new construction on the East Street side of the business park, I am filled as I am sure many are with excitement about what this new fledgling venue will be and look like, and what the park in general will soon be like. One thing is for sure though, and that is that new shopping plazas in Pittsfield draw droves of consumers.
          If it moved here, the co-op’s work of providing healthy local food and tools for healthy lifestyles would help to transmute and enliven this battered riverfront region, both physically and energetically. Additionally, the Berkshire Co-op market would see huge increases in membership and sales and open its wares to an even larger portion of the greater Berkshires who would be as impressed as I am — and more each time they walk through the door.

          • Molly
            December 28, 2011 at 7:48 am #

            This is a great example to answer my constant questions of “how does the BB get away with the stuff it does” and “how do the City Politicians get away with the stuff they do?” — many people are just CLUELESS and don’t look into ANYTHING on their own — if it’s printed in the BB, it just “must” be true! And if the BB thinks something is good, then it is GOOD!! Unbelievable. Actually, disheartening.

  10. joetaxpayer
    December 27, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    GE has already waived stipulations in the past (slater college).What makes you think they won’t continue.That paper means nothing.

  11. Shakes His Head
    December 28, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    GE may waive stipulations, but a bank isn’t going to finance a development without full Phase I and II environmental assessments for each proposed site. I seriously doubt the proposed developer has $30M-$40M to dump into this site without borrowing something.

    • Ray Ovac
      December 29, 2011 at 6:36 pm #

      SHH, Certainly no bank just on its own would finance development without environmental assessments but if the Comm. of Massachusetts through one of its development agencies were to agree to guarantee such a loan, or if PEDA itself were to issue bonds (which as an authority PEDA has the power to do), then that would be a method by which to finance a project without necessarily having to engage in further environmental assessments. But I’m just speculating.