PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, JAN. 16, 2012) — In observance of the federal holiday, THE PLANET enjoys another day on the road, on business (mostly) with a little R&R thrown in for good measure. The beauty of cyberspace is that “here” takes on a relative, almost philosophic meaning, since it does not have to be physical.

Briefly, we shall share a few items:


Rumors have it that the magistrate’s hearing for Meredith Nilan on whether criminal misdemeanor charges should proceed to trial took place on Thursday. Getting straight information has been harder that determining the pedigree of a horse trader’s mule. No one’s saying nuttin’.

One source claims Chris “No Show” Speranzo heard the evidence and found no basis for the matter to go any further. We stress that is an unconfirmed report.

Would Mary Jane Kapanski receive this treatment? A pedestrian is hit by a swerving vehicle that crosses lane. The car nearly kills him on Dec. 8. No official word of this comes until almost a month later, when police file misdemeanor charges. The charges require a hearing before a clerk magistrate. Does Mary Jane receive the same treatment as the daughter of a GOB’s GOB?

Look at this cast of characters. The accused is the daughter of the heavily wired Probation Chief Cliff Nilan, a man who distinguished himself in the sordid mess involving the pedophilic behavior of his buddy, once the head of the largest financial institution in Berkshire County. The clerk magistrate is a GOB puppet, first put up to “run” for state rep in an all-but rigged election after his predecessor quits the Third Berkshire District seat he had pledeged to fill in the state legislature. The perception: This same magistrate gets his job because he “plays ball.” The perception: In exchange for a $110,000 (+ bennies) LIFETIME appointment, the GOBs get a goon on the inside to act as they instruct him.

GOB’s Chess-like Strategy: Get a Bobo on the Inside?

One has to admire the apparent chess-like strategy of the cynical masterminds who engineered getting No Show where he is.

If you look at the function of the Clerk Magistrate, you can see how the office can be such a key ally to the GOBs, who make of  the political process the means by which they perform their legal crookery. Did the local GOBs know or fear that certain cases were brewing? For example, did they want someone on the inside in case one of these hot cases couldn’t magically be buried and covered up, as so many have in the past?

There are 80 clerk mags in the Commonwealth, serving in various courts (District, Housing, Juvenile, etc.). They are political appointments and enjoy LIFETIME protection. Technically, clerk mags manage and administer the business of the court. They also serve as judicial hearing officers!!!! Bingo!!! on criminal matters such as !!!BINGO!!! show-cause hearings.

It’s not like the clerk mag has to do much work or show up in the office, as sources say of No Show. The job, of course, can be one for someone with a work ethic. It just doesn’t have to be. The magistrate’s office typically has an Office Manager, an Operations Supervisor, a Session Clerk, a Case Coordinator, a Case Specialist, and Accounts Clerk, and a Head Administrative Assistant. In political cesspools such as Pittsfield, the clerk mag’s chief job description might be described this way:

“This position is responsible for doing political favors. Work involves little supervision of staff within the office and no set hours. Main responsibilities include fulfilling whatever the GOBs ask, never asking any questions of a Political Master, and being a ‘good boy’ for ‘the Old Guys in Kansas City.'”

Darkness Means an Infestation of Mold; Only Sunshine is the Best Disinfectant

The Nilan hearing, if it took place Thursday, did so under cloak of darkness. If Meredith Nilan’s case came before No Show on Thursday, it means the GOBs not only wanted (and received) secrecy but also quick action. They wanted this to be disposed of ASAP, like a cantaloupe showing the first signs of mold.

As of yet, Cliff Nilan has not been charged with removing evidence from a crime scene, obstruction justice, jaywalking, or pulling on the belt of the Jolly Green Giant.



Our Right Honorable Good Friend, councilor at large Melissa Mazzeo, has further informed We The People via this website of how she is going about fulfilling perhaps the most important campaign promise any candidate made during the most recent Pittsfield municipal election: How to address the unresolved question of GE‘s poisoning of Pittsfield.

First, however, Mazzeo weighs in on that force of nature, John Barrett, and the mess Der Wunderbarrett cleaned up at BerkshireWorks. Then she gets into GE matters.

We share her own words:

On Barrett:

 As for Barrett… I was on WBRK with Bill [Sturgeon] yesterday and we talked about the DPW and getting things done, Bill said he is a big fan of Barrett and that he liked what he did. I said that there where things that he did that I, too, liked, such as, having all City Depts (water,highway parks) work together when needed (for example, all come out to help plow in a snow storm, or all work together on a major water issue). We are already paying them to work. Lets use “contractors” less. That I agree with. Being proactive on snow removal instead of waiting, good idea … being “seen” on the job as a supervisor … all good. What I didn’t like is that he didn’t give us written directives as most “consultants” would, no rules to live by or goals to attain. He obviously is not a Consultant, just a good friend of the Mayor with some good ideas to help us out. Could he have done this for a short time for minimal pay. I think so. Did he need to stay on for over a year for the tune of $80,000 or more. NO. I received numerous phone calls from people who had “run-ins” with Barrett and that part I did not like. You cant treat people like that, and that is what he gets away with. So while I liked some of what he tried to do. Will it stay in place? Was it wasted money? I hope not.

This type of candor has made Mazzeo an ascending star on the Pittsfield political scene. On PEDA, Mazzeo says this:

PEDA. I have attached two links. One is like a “Cliff notes” of the Consent Decree and the other is the law that set up PEDA. … As I said yesterday, I met with [city solicitor] Kathy Degnan yesterday and told her what I would like to do ASAP about the Consent Decree (CD). We need to bring together a group for a roundtable discussion about reopening the CD. At the same time we can start talking about what changes we would like, and as you know this will be difficult because many people want different things. My main issue is the capping of Silver Lake. BAD Idea as far as what I have been told. I have received a few phone calls from a 90-year-old GE engineer who has an Idea of how to clean the lake. He also has extensive knowelgde of the PCB disposal into this lake and he said he can prove there is a better way. I think Silver Lake is more important right now than the rest of the river, because ground water leaks out and into the river that was cleaned already. So we need to stop it at the source then work our way out. As for what I am learning, .a lot of it is me just Googling and reading documents or old stories and articles and talking to people who call me. I only know 1% of what I need to know right now, but am willing to work my butt off to get the people who do know more together to help us. My biggest argument is that we should not have to be STUCK with a document that was ok’d by [former Gerry] Doyle]. Why should my kids have to settle for the bare minimum of clean up because [Doyle] sold out for $10 million? Solicitor Degnan says there is case law to back up the need to change a signed document, because the law just like technology is ever evolving and we shouldn’t be held to something that is outdated. She is going to speak to Mayor [Dan] Bianchi and give him my idea. It will mean more coming from him to get this group together. I just want to be part of it as we move on.
Keep up the great Blog. I am sorry that I don’t blog. I just feel that if I can say that I have NEVER blogged then no one can say that I go on with a different name and such, but I will respond by email anytime you ask.

That, my good friends, is a prima fascia case of how a politician should deal with the press — in an honest, forthright, and invitational (as opposed to confrontational) manner.

We thank the councilwoman for her comments.

The Consent Agreement — or should we call is the Consent Disagreement — was negotiated in secret. To this day, minutes of the negotiations have not been made public. Ask yourself: Why? Whby would they want to keep these talks secret? What are they hiding?

The Disagreement is a document that seems to be written in a deliberately obscure fashion meant to allow GE to escape Pittsfield relatively unscathed. There are a multitude of issues, and therefore, THE PLANET agrees with Mazzeo that we need to start somewhere. That somewhere should be:

(1) Push to have the minutes of the Consent Agreement made public. We call upon the city council and Mayor Bianchi to get this done.

(2) Push to reopen the CA.

(3) Begin by addressing Silver Lake. A cap over five feet of the most noxious industrial poisons makes no sense. The toxins will continue to leak into the cleaned river, polluting it again. All poisons must be removed from Silver Lake, and the lake must be restored so that We The People can enjoy it once again.


Letter: Eagle’s Double Standard Re: Barbalunga and Nuciforo

Finally, we present this Letter to the Editor, from Jonathan Melle. THE PLANET’s letters page is open to everyone with a point of view. As always, letters aren’t necessarily the views of this website, but we believe in the importance of free speech and an unfettered exchange of ideas, within accepted standards. If you wish to contribute, we shall be more than glad to receive your views. Address Letters to

Now, the Letter:

The Berkshire Eagle‘s Editorial against [Alf] Barbalunga‘s appointments on the Pittsfield School Committee is yet another example of the Eagle’s double standards when it comes to covering Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr.!
Nuciforo strong-armed two women candidates out of a 2006 state government election to anoint himself to a sinecure while he plots his run for U.S. Congress. The names of the two women are Sara Hathaway and Sharon Henault. The Berkshire Eagle NEVER covered Nuciforo’s sexist political power play! Nor did the Eagle comment about Nuciforo’s discriminatory actions in an Editorial.
Moreover, Nuciforo was double-dipping when he was a state Senator. [While] Nuciforo chaired financial committees, he was also representing as a private corporate Attorney for a Boston law firm named Berman & Dowell. Nuciforo raised over six figures in campaign contributions from Boston area big banks and insurance companies, which was way outside of his legislative district in Berkshire County.
Of course, the Berkshire Eagle NEVER covered nor commented on Nuciforo’s corruption in state governement and Boston area financial institutions. Just who was Nuciforo representing? The answer is NOT the people of Berkshire County.
The Berkshire Eagle will go after a local person such as Barbalunga, who is sincerely trying to make a difference in his community, but will look the other way when it comes to Andrea Nuciforo.
I dare the Berkshire Eagle to publish my letter! The Berkshire Eagle won’t publish my letter because it is the truth, and the truth hurts!






  1. rick
    January 16, 2012 at 9:11 am #

    in reading an article about the group for manos unidas building on fenn street, i was just wondering why a purchaing agent would deem the building unsafe and not the building inspector?

  2. rick
    January 16, 2012 at 10:21 am #

    dan im confussed with the list of board members on the peda project.. is that all or are there others either full time or part time paid or not paid. a picture of the meeting showed collen hunter mullet in attendance. was she with bianchi or a member of the peda team. she works for the city, was she on her time? city time? or peda time?

  3. Shakes His Head
    January 16, 2012 at 10:34 am #

    I am confused why this community finds it acceptable to pay an ‘outside consultant’ to force civil servants to do their jobs, work together, and be in compliance with state statutes. It seems bizarre to me that the bar is set soooooo low that merely performing to minimum standards is meritorious. The leadership in all public agencies, local, state, federal, or otherwise should reform operations through systems of continuous quality improvement, particularly in these no-so-flush times.

    • Monitor
      January 16, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

      Agree with SHH. This community is indeed purely apathetic with pockets of self serving special interests emerging periodically to promote their agendas.
      The status quo is the norm and regarding the leadership in the public agencies, it is heavily rumored that newly elected Mayor Bianchi has stated that he intends to make no changes.
      Incredulous, considering the mayor’s campaign platform and the electorate’s mandate for change.
      The Ruberto administration will remain basically intact and unscathed. Only the shifting of political loyalties and manuvering for a second term bid already makes sense.
      We’ll wait an see if any change will transpire.

      • danvalenti
        January 16, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

        THE PLANET can understand a cautious approach by Mayor Bianchi, pretty much for the first six months or so. He must settle in to post and get a first-hand view of those who work in and for the city of Pittsfield. Certainly by the end of the first year, with the mayor likely eyeing re-election, he will need to bring the change for which citizens are looking. Thanks for your thoughts.

        • Shakes His Head
          January 16, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

          Oh I think there is already a shift in attitude, give it more than a week and a half.

          • danvalenti
            January 16, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

            I admire you optimism. Ten days is not a lot of time.

      • Molly
        January 16, 2012 at 5:17 pm #

        What about the conditions of our roads after the last snow storm? Today they are still absolutely attrocious! And all over the city – not just one side street. Did we run out of salt with all the snow we’ve had this year??;-) Really, they did a horrible job this time!

        • Steve wade
          January 16, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

          [REDACTED — WEBMASTER WARNS MR. WADE TO AVOID PERSONAL INSULTS. THERE WILL BE NO FURTHER WARNING BEFORE YOU ARE BANNED FROM THIS SITE] Most of the snow came during rush hour. The snow packed down with all of the traffic . Give the dpw
          a break. It’s so nice that every body knows how to do ever body’s job in the city. Molly. What qualifies you to know how to plow the city streets?

          • Molly
            January 16, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

            I see the condition of the roads and they are dangerous! Use a little salt! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist…

  4. rick
    January 16, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    confused is the word for anything that went on in the Roberto admin. its like the city was going to hell in a hand basket without a foul mouth bully(Barrett) to save us. mazzeo is right that people don’t need to be talked to that way. and i will guarantee you that the ideas barrett came up with were recycled thoughts of years gone by reimplemented. if i were the city workers under barrett i would be feeling mighty stupid that they couldnt think without him.

    • Shakes His Head
      January 16, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

      It would be like me taking credit for actually getting out of bed and getting dressed rather than blowing off work…Well at least I showed up today so Mary Jane Kapanski should be grateful she has someone that is at least moderately civil when she needs my help. Now hrry up and give me retirement healthcare and my annual union pay increases.

      • danvalenti
        January 16, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

        We agree. Too much of our soft, lazy society expects a bonus just for doing your job, from rich, pampered athletes who demand performance clauses in contracts to pupils who won’t read a book unless they get a McDonald’s Happy Meal. We are asking less of people when we should be requiring more.

    • Ray Ovac
      January 16, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

      Pardon my ignorance here, but wasn’t former North Adams Mayor Barrett getting paid by the City of Pittsfield to do that which the various commissioners and department heads are already getting paid to do, along with former Mayor Ruberto, who himself was being paid to oversee that organizational apparatus? The point is: Was Barrett ever even necessary?
      And if the people who are paid to have responsibilities over their respective departments are so inept and/or incompetent, or both, as to require a bull-whip like Barrett to goad them into doing that which they’re already being paid to do and supposed to be doing, then maybe it’s time for the new Mayor, Bianchi, to totally clean this rat-infested house and get rid of all the vermin and dead weight — or are all city employees protected from being fired as well?

      • Shakes His Head
        January 16, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

        Due process works with and against the employer to remove undesirables. It takes time, but better time than taxpayer money to correct brash decisions for improper employee dismissals.

      • Molly
        January 16, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

        Absolutely agree! 100%

      • rick
        January 17, 2012 at 6:10 am #

        ray now we are seeing what closed door politics, and rubber stamping can do .when we should be shrinking gov.roberto added people to do other peoples jobs. barretts not needed, if the dept.Mgr. cant handle their jobs then they should be replaced, its simple, you dont go and pay out over 80k of tax payers money to a gov. out of control!!!!. re hab a house for over 300k to sell it for 100k, who voted to ok that? mazzeo and nichols were trying to get the others on the council to think about what they were voting for, but to no avail,and now we are stuck with bad business moves.roberto was no manager and the 8 sometimes 9 councilors that followed his lead are just as bad if not worse.

  5. Dave Martindale
    January 16, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    Melissa is right on with focusing on removal of contamination upriver. Makes no sense to me at all to clean the river downstream when there are sources upriver that have not been addresssed.

    Besides Silver Lake:

    Hill 78: Hill 78 has no liner between it and the groundwater. Buried there are capacitors (metal boxes with high level PCB in them), transformer carcasses, drums and god only knows what else. Once a ravine, once on the EPA top ten list to get cleaned up, now covered with thousands of yards of low level PCB dirt making it extremely difficult to address. When considering Hill 78, the Consent Decree was a win for GE and terrible for the City of Pittsfield.

    Unkamet Brook. From north of Crane Ave, between Crane Ave and Dalton Ave, behind GE Plastics, and accross East Street to the Housatonic River, Unkamet Brook was a dumping ground for GE industrial waste. The plans I have heard are to cap one of GE’s dumps in that area. This is a source of contamination, in a waterway, directly associated with the Housatonic River.

    East Street along the River. The former city dump, the former incinerator site, the empty facility siezed by the feds from Overbaugh where the last City administration wanted to put the city garage, all known sites of contamination and arguebly sources of additional contamination into the river and all above stretches already cleaned up.

    Perhaps the GE and the EPA think we don’t notice and all of this is just going to fade from the collective conscience?

    • danvalenti
      January 16, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

      Yes. Silver Lake first. Hill 78 next.

    • Ray Ovac
      January 16, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

      Looks like GE treated the people of Pittsfield just like the GOB’s are now treating the public in the Nilan ‘hit-and-run’ cover-up. It’s called given the public “The Mushroom Treatment”: ‘Feed ’em sh*t and keep ’em in the dark.’

    • joetaxpayer
      January 16, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

      Just wondering if a precedent has been started in the opening of a legal document as massive as the Consent Decree.If there is not it will be a up hill battle.But one thats will worth looking into.We owe it to are children and future generations.

      • danvalenti
        January 16, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

        The Consent Decree has been open 10 times previously, to take care of administrative matters. Point is, the document has triggers for Reopeners.

      • Dave Martindale
        January 16, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

        The Consent Decree has been opened numerous times, all to benefit GE.

        Yes. It will be a huge uphill battle to reopen the Consent Decree.

        This is one fight that is very worth while fighting. Joe, you hit it right on the head. This fight is for our children and future generations.

        Can you imagine history looking back and viewing the decision to allow Hill 78 to exist? This was our best plan?

        • Ray Ovac
          January 17, 2012 at 9:02 am #

          DV, If the Consent Decree is not reopened, you can kiss Pittsfield goodbye as any sort of corporate destination. What businessman in his right mind wants to set up operations in a union-controlled, overpriced, overtaxed locale where one’s employees are almost guaranteed to come down with medical maladies related to chemical poisons in the environment? Brain Cancer anyone? The word is out about Pittsfield. People at GE’s operations around the world do talk, ya know. Unless Pittsfield gets cleaned-up right — and I mean totally — its future is, in all the ways that are economically important, sealed.

  6. Concern
    January 16, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    Dan if Sperazo heard this hearing something is rotten. The
    police had to go to another court because none of the clerks here would issue a search warrant. Hope this is not true that no probable cause was found to have this go to a court. We will see what happens here

  7. Ray Ovac
    January 16, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

    DV, if Magistrate Speranzo made any sort of ruling in the Nilan hit-and-run case, even if it was to dismiss, continue without a finding, or not to find cause to issue criminal complaint, where would that decision be required to be logged to make it official?

    • charley
      January 16, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

      It was a closed hearing and now must be presented to the DA. You’ll want to watch for his response – no worries, he will do the right thing much as people may want to paint him w/ the GOB brush it just isn’t the case.

      • Ray Ovac
        January 16, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

        DV, if Chris Speranzo fails so miserably in his first real test as clerk-magistrate to perform his duties in an ethical manner and indeed as he promised to do in his oath of office, then isn’t there a state board or forum before which he can be brought up for reprimand or even impeachment? There is a Mass. Board of Bar Overseers and an Office of Bar Counsel, but I’m not sure whether either of these have jurisdiction over the state judiciary’s clerk-magistrates.

        • danvalenti
          January 16, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

          There’s no indication yet that Speranzo has filed in his duties. There’s no factual evidence that he has heard Nilan’s case. We would expect that if he did, or if he does, that he his actions will be fair, honest, and impartial. Don’t know what the avenues are for reprimand, recall, or impeachment of someone with a lifetime sinecure, but there are such mechanisms.

      • danvalenti
        January 16, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

        What gets presented to the DA? The magistrate’s decision? What is the DA’s responsibility? To review? Can you provide more information? And do you know if the Nilan hearing took place already?

      • Blind Justice
        January 16, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

        Good luck with the DA

        • danvalenti
          January 16, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

          As satire, this should win a local Emmy. Gut-splitting hilarity, used to make a serious point.

    January 16, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

    Just talked to a person about these hearings. Was told that if the police are seeking complaint and the clerk rules no complaint the police have the right to appeal and present to a Judge for a hearing.

  9. rick
    January 17, 2012 at 4:55 am #

    the only way to handle this situation , so that everything is on the up and up, is the whole matter be turned over to an independent law enforcement council not connected with local politics. unfortuatly its the only way to do things today, and really, if you think about it, it will end all the speculation on the case.

    January 17, 2012 at 7:30 am #

    Rick you are so correct. Lets see because I believes that is Mr. Speranzo call

  11. Shakes His Head
    January 17, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    I would be curious to hear if former councilman White believes that Der WunderBarrett’s reorganization and improvments to the DPW exceeded performance expectations.

  12. GMHeller
    January 17, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    An aspect of this hit-and-run matter not yet discussed either here on PlanetValenti or on Topix is how The Nilan’s insurance carrier is going to be treating this alleged hit-and-run (not only regarding damage to the Nilan SUV, but more importantly, Peter Moore’s hospital bills related to his immediate treatment plus the costs associated with any longer-term rehab stemming from any of hit-and-run related injuries) given that the car is registered to Clifford J. Nilan and that an adult member of the Nilan household was allegedly driving the vehicle at the time of the accident before speeding off.(Also, there’s the matter of veterinary costs associated with treating injuries to Moore’s dog.)
    Even without a finding of criminal wrongdoing against the SUV driver, it does not preclude Mr. Moore from pursuing a number of legal avenues against the SUV’s driver and its registered owner.
    Not sure if double jeopardy applies in such a case, but Peter Moore might be able to file his own personal criminal complaint against the driver (irrespective of the police citation already issued) and maybe also even against the registered owner of the vehicle.
    Plus, Moore and/or Moore’s own insurance carrier can certainly file civil actions against both the SUV driver and its registered owner.
    Further, since it was hit-and-run (alleged), Clifford Nilan’s insurance carrier may opt not to pay the Nilan’s lawyers’ fees to defend against any of these possible lawsuits that Mr. Moore could file.
    Plus, in some states any statements made by the driver or registered owner of the hit-and-run vehicle to the vehicle owner’s insurance carrier are admissible in court and available to police as evidence AGAINST the driver and/or the vehicle’s registered owner.
    Further, in discovery those statements would likely also be available to the accident victim’s lawyers.

  13. Unchy
    January 18, 2012 at 4:31 am #

    Gerry Doyle is a class act and should be exempt from any wrongdoing with the descent decree.

    January 18, 2012 at 6:35 am #

    Unchy Should be “class ass”