PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, JAN. 13, 2012) — Regarding the Meredith Nilan hit-and-run case, here’s the hot question swirling around the city: Has she received — and, if so, will she continue to get preferential treatment? The public pressure on the courts to see that this doesn’t happen is, will be, and should be enormous. Justice must be served, impartially and without consideration of the connections of Ms. Nilan’s father.

A Blizzard of Items to Consider in this Dicey Case

* Nilan’s father is Central Berkshire probation chief Clifford “Cliffy” Nilan. THE PLANET considers instructive this piece of recent local history: When Nilan learned that his buddy, then president of Greylock Federal Credit Union Angelo Stracuzzi, had been arrested in July 2005 on consecutive days, charged by Biddeford, Maine, police with four counts involving the molestation of teenage boys, Nilan said and did nothing, either as an officer of the court or as a member of the Greylock board. Nilan said nothing. We know this from the testimony of Greylock VP John Bissell. Bissell said when the story broke and — as far as we know, continues to to say — that for five years, the Greylock Board had no idea their chief had become embroiled in scandal. Did Nilan use his influence to obtain favorable treatment for a friend?

* As probation chief, Nilan apparently looked the other way when the Maine courts transferred Stracuzzi’s probation to Central Berkshire. There’s no indication Stracuzzi was required to serve his probation or in fact did. There’s no indication that he received court-ordered psychological counseling. Did Nilan use his position to allow favorable (and borderline criminal) treatment for a friend? 

If the answer is “yes,” Nilan did pull strings to usurp justice, what does that say of the man’s character? What does that suggest in this case, where the accused is not merely a friend but his own flesh and blood? To what lengths would a man like this use his considerable influence to make a mess “go away”? This isn’t an accusation. It is, though, a fair question. Because we don’t know the answer, every public constiuency — citizens, police, and the courts — must press for the assurances of an honest answer.

Now, ladies and gentleman, consider these facts:

* Pittsfield Police have linked Ms. Nilan to the Dec. 8 hit-and-run accident involving Peter Moore, who was struck while jogging near the intersection of East and Winesap in Pittsfield.

* Police issued a criminal citation for two misdemeanors: leaving the scene of a personal injury accident and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.

*Moore lost a large amount of blood, a broken leg, broken vertebrae, bruises, trauma to the left side of his body, a concussions, and cuts all over his body. In short, he suffered catastrophic injuries. This was no brush-by, oops, sorry, see ya’ later. A man was almost killed.

* Though Ms. Nilan was the driver, her father owns the car.

* The citation was not issued against Ms. Nilan until Jan. 10, one month and two days from the accident.

* A Pittsfield detective source tells THE PLANET that “charges could be coming against [Cliff Nilan].” Ms. Nilan’s lawyer, Tim Shugrue (former candidate for District Attorney), admits that his client and her father went back to the scene of the accident, looking for evidence. Fair question: Did they remove, alter, hide, or in any other way tamper with evidence?

* Ms. Nilan was cited with two misdemeanors. A clerk magistrate  will conduct a hearing to determine if there’s enough evidence to charge Ms. Nilan. Clerk Mag of the Central Berkshire District Court (Superior Court) is none other than Chris “No Show” Speranzo. As you recall, this was one of the scenarios outlined as a concern when No Show quit as state rep to walked into a stacked vote to receive his lifetime $110,000 job: That he would be a GOB friend on the inside for just such situations, that is, if the GOBs needed a favor from inside the courts. THE PLANET is not suggesting that Speranzo is incapable of making an honest and fair judgment. He should understand, though, that all eyes will be upon him to render justice, not inside favors, for the daughter of a GOB’s GOB. The magistrate will determine if there is enough evidence to send it to trial. If not, it just goes away, no harm, no foul.

Here are some of the outstanding questions:

* If this this case involved Mary Jane Kapanski and not Meredith Nilan, would the police and the courts handled it any differently? Are there two sets of laws? One for Them and the other for us?

* The perception of favoritism is ripe, and perception often trumps reality, unfortunately. A man is almost killed. To date, there are no criminal charges filed, only a hearing before a magistrate to see if the case should continue or dropped outright. The magistrate is heavily connected to the Pittsfield GOB, who pulled strings to get him the job. Tell me you’re confident there will be fair and impartial treatment.

* The date of that hearing is not being made public. Why? Is that standard treatment?

* The hearing, apparently, will not be open to the public. Why? Is that standard treatment?

* Was there alcohol involved? It has been reported that Ms. Nilan’s speeding, northbound car “swerved” into the southbound lane. Is “swerve” code for DUI? That same evening, Dec. 8, Berkshire Young Professionals, a sub-group of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, had a “Networking Social” at Allium Restaurant in Great Barrington. Was she drinking? The social has listed hours of 5 to 7 p.m. The accident occurred that night at about 8:15 p.m. Have police interviewed people who were there?

On the night of the accident, Meredith Nilan attended a "Networking Social" at Allium Restaurant in Gt. Barrington. Was she drinking? She is seen here with Brent White, left, and Alf Barbalunga (Photo: Berkshire Chamber of Commerce)

* Have police checked her cell phone records to see if Ms. Nilan was on the phone at the time of the accident?

* Why did Nilan’s lawyer refuse the police when they wanted to inspect his damaged Suburu? Why did he force them to go south for a warrant? What happened to the car in the meantime?

* Why has Meredith Nilan‘s Linked-in Profile disappeared? Two days ago, her profile listed much information about here. Yesterday, nothing. Linked-in, when up and running for the woman, said she is employed by Berkshire Bank as, get this, a “risk assessor.” It would seem to be a quality that can come in handy right about now.


* Shurgrue has described his client as “a great kid.” Aren’t they all? And since when is a 24-year-old “a kid”?

* Police Sgt. Mark Trapani wrote up the search warrant. It’s not entirely clear when and how thoroughly police were able to search the damaged Nilan vehicle before it was tidied up, if it was tidied up. Police apparently did an initial, cursory investigation of the vehicle the day after the accident. When they came back for a second, closer look, Shugrue denied them access to the vehicle. Police finally got the warrant, and they probed further. There was a lot of time in between to do the old Golden Nozzle cleaning of the vehicle, not that we’re suggesting such was done, of course.

* As reported by the Berkshire Eagle, photos of the vehicle showed a head-sized hole in the windshield and dents in the hood.

* Nilan called police at 9:30 on the night of Dec. 8, 90 minutes after the accident. He told them his daughter hit “either a dog or deer.” Why did he make that phone call? Ms. Nilan is of age. She holds a responsible job. She’s an adult. Why didn’t she get on the blower to speak to the police? Was she too discombobulated? Was she too upset? Was she too inebriated? Was she too used to daddy cleaning up her messes? Was it something else?

* The police account of the accident and Ms. Nilan’s differ in many respects. She says it occurred at 9 p.m. Police say 8:15. She says it took place on East Street and McIntosh Road. Police found no evidence there. Moore, the victim, said it happened at the corner of East and Winesap. There, police found lots of blood and some dog fur. Who is telling the truth?

There is much more to be staged before this latest melodrama involving Nilan gets swept under the velvet curtain. Let there be no rush to judgment, but also, let judgment be fair and impartial.



THE PLANET got in touch with BerkshireWorks‘ interim director John Barrett about yesterday’s Letter to the Editor that claimed Barrett’s job was a no-show appointment. Der WunderBarrett begged to differ.

One of the qualities we admire most from public figures is when they respond to coverage, especially anything critical, with communication. Jimmy Ruberto, John Krol, Mike Ward, Kevin Sherman, Melissa Mazzeo, Joe Nichols, and Dan Bianchi are a few that come quickly to mind. They don’t always agree with THE PLANET’s pronouncements in writing or on the air, but good or bad, agree or not, they don’t stop communicating, as far too many of their colleagues do, who get rattled, take their football, go home, and pout. They naively think if they don’t speak to THE PLANET, we won’t get the story.

Those who can take a punch have a measure of thick skin and a balanced attitude regarding their position as argumentative public figures. They show what we would call a political maturity.

John Barrett would be on of that list. We’ve known Barrett for a long time, and the only thing that did not usher in Armageddon prior to Dec. 21, 2012, is that he served for a million years in North Adams as mayor and THE PLANET toiled as a scribe and talk show for the same amount of time. Our collisions would have been epic and for the Ages. He was the immoveable object.

We were the irresistible force. Alas, we didn’t cross paths professionally until Ruberto brought him into Pittsfield to straighten out a DPW that had grown soft under Bruce Collingwood. We lost count of the times we called him on his cell or dropped in unannounced at his office in City Hall. He never refused a call. He never refused a meeting. He was always available. There aren’t too many public figures for which THE PLANET can use the word “always” when it comes to availability. Most will run and hide when we come a calling.

Riberto brought Barrett aboard to bail BerkshireWorks out of a might mess that almost took the agency down. FOr the first time, we explain the mission.

Barrett: Putting in the Time, Cleaning up the (Legal) Crime

Barrett says his job directing BerkshireWorks has been anything but no-show. He says he puts in about “35 to 40 hours a week.”

In many ways Barrett is larger than life and a cipher, but we know one thing about him, dating back to his long tenure as North Adams mayor and more recently confirmed by his consulting stint with the Pittsfield PPW: The guy’s a worker, not a slacker. He’s a Type A personality who wouldn’t pull a No Show Speranzo. It’s not in him. Say he’s a bull in a China shop, but at least you will find him in the China shop.

Barrett jokes of the BerkshireWorks’ gig: “It’s the first job I’ve ever done where they liked me, because I don’t have to deal with the unions.” As Freud said, there’s no such thing as a joke.

Barrett is slated to reamin interim boss at BerkshireWorks until the end of the year. He says Mayor Ruberto brought him on board “to straighten out a big problem.” Asked the nature of the problem, Barrett chose his words carefully: “I can’t delve into it. I can say there was a conflict of intereset involving staff. We were out of compliance, and BerkshireWorks had received a ‘High Risk’ designation [from the state]. That’s when the Department of Labor began its investigation. I came aboard in May with the intention of addressing the issues. I did that. By September [2010], the ‘High Risk’ designation went away. In October, I received a letter saying that all assurances we were in full compliance with [our charter and the law]. The auditors completed their work in December and gave us a clean bill of health.”

Barrett defines his job this way: “I’m here to see that our policies are adhered to, to make sure they’re following the rules.”

So what was the mess he had to clean up? Barrett wouldn’t say, holding to confidentiality agreements. Knowing there’s more than one way to hit the ocean with a shotgun, THE PLANET began making inquiries of those who would know.

Source Alleges Nepotism and a Fat $38,000 Severance Check … and Say It was all Legal!

While Barrett wouldn’t speak of what the “big problem” entailed, THE PLANET found other sources, familiar with the situation, who told us a previous BerkshireWorks employee had hired his daughter and put her on the BerkshireWorks payroll. He also had hired someone who was running a business on the side. Since the office runs on a combination of federal and state money, it literally made it a federal case. A whistleblower dropped a dime, and suddenly BerkshireWorks found itself in the deep muddy. That’s when Ruberto brought Barrett in, to clean house.

Our sources agree:  Ruberto gave a full briefing to Mayor Dan Bianchi, so that the new mayor would know the full story of Barrett’s appointment. Asked if Barrett’s hiring by Ruberto amounted to a political appointment, our source said, “No way. They had a mess there. John came in and cleaned it up. He’s not exactly shy. He’s not a wallflower.” In fact, it seems more accurate to say that if Barrett hadn’t come in and stripped the walls of its sullied paint, there would be no BerkshireWorks today, and the legions of unemployed would have one fewer resource to tap in their search for work.

Sources said no charges were filed. Apparently, the former employee unilaterally changed the rules, allowing him to receive full pay for unused sick time at age 60 and not 62. Though not ethical, the move was technically legal. He not only walked away with a $38,000 check but he also filed for, and received, unemployment benefits. Again, sources said all of this was legal. What a city! What a state! What a country! Sources said that Barrett and the staff worked through the contract language to make sure taxpayers wouldn’t get ripped off like this again. They also worked their tails off to get back into federal and state compliance.

Say what you will about Der WunderBarrett. His reform of DPW did make “the trains run on time.” It also appears he cleaned up a heap big mess that almost shut down BerkshireWorks. THE PLANET  admires the bulldog in John Barrett. Others may quake when he enters the room. We smile and know that at least you’re getting a guy who’s “Yes” is Yes and whose “No” is No. We much prefer that to the fixed, frozen-masked smiles of the insincere.



THE PLANET gives you an update on Melissa Mazzeo’s pledge to take up the case against GE and for We The People. Did she make a hollow campaign promise, or is she committed to doing something about reopening the Consent Agreement, getting Silver Lake cleaned, and removing Hill 78? Find out tomorrow.

Also, if you missed the Wednesday Night Fights, a.k.a., the most recent School Committee meeting, you’ll want to get the inside scoop on Kathy Amuso‘s hissy fit when Chairman Alf Barbalunga announced subcommittee assignments. You won’t believe it unless you remind yourself that this is Pittsfield, where kangaroos fly and little pigs poke their heads out of pouches.








  1. Dysfunction Junction
    January 12, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    On January 11, 2011 I witnessed one of the most dysfunctional public meetings I have ever seen: the Pittsfield School Committee. The new chair, Alf Barbalunga, dominated the meeting barking directives to his minions, disrespecting a fellow committee member, and pontificating about his personal opinions. He wasted precious time to brag that he read an article about education in Time magazine about South Korea. He then informed us that he intends to make it a regular part of future meetings to educate us about magazine articles he reads. While allowing Terry Kinnas to ramble on about his seemingly endless string of jobs in the private sector, he lost focus and control of the meeting. He then decreed his subcommittee appointments and seemed to revel in humiliating former chair and long time member Kathy Amuso by placing her on the least important subcommittees. Mrs. Amuso was the highest vote getter in the last election, ran respectful meetings, and was very responsive to parents and community members. She is dedicated and very involved in the schools and she does not deserve to be relegated to meaningless jobs. When she asked Mr. Barbalunga why he did not appoint her to a more substantive committee that she had requested, he said he based his decision on seniority. She pointed out she was the second most senior member of the committee. Mr. Barbalunga said that was true and yet did not answer why he had ignored her request to be placed on the policy committee. The blatant disrespect shown to a dedicated member like Mrs. Amuso does not speak well for the leadership abilities of Mr. Barbalunga. The hostility was so apparent, that one student member of the committee resigned his position and walked out saying he could not be a part of such chaos. This student was the most courageous and articulate member of the bunch. He had the grace to praise Dr. Eberwein and thank him for his leadership while others, specifically Mr. Kinnas, had the audacity to obliquely insult Dr. Eberwein. As the parent of two children who have thrived in the Pittsfield public schools, I am very concerned about the dysfunctional direction the school committee is headed. I hope Mr. Barbalunga will learn to lead respectful, collaborative meetings and not act like a dictator.

    • joetaxpayer
      January 12, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

      Really think you should give them a chance.This is only there 2nd meeting, and Mr.Barbalunga has not been chair before.Lets see what they can do with the pressing matters that will come up this year.So far they have dealt with,where people plant there rears,what subcommities members are on.They all get one vote and are dedicated people who want what is best for the schools and the taxpayers.

    • Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
      January 12, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

      Ok Kathy…thanks for your input

  2. dusty
    January 12, 2012 at 10:18 am #

    I wonder how much the “mess” at Berkshire Works cost in financial terms. And I wonder how much it cost to bring in Barrett to fix it. And was the “mess” so bad that he will have had to be there for 20 months to fix it?

    And lastly, was Berkshire Works really worth saving? I have heard that it might not have been anywhere near as successful as it portrayed itself to be.

    • Molly
      January 12, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

      Good questions… One last one is why isn’t the full and real story allowed to be made public? It is us taxpayers who pay for it, it’s a public organization, so then how are they allowed to hide this info from us? Confidentiality agreements? It’s a tax-payer owned organization!!

      • dusty
        January 13, 2012 at 2:22 am #

        Conventional wisdom suggests that it might not be public info because the individual (s) involved were politically connected and are being spared the embarrassment. Perhaps you have heard of this sort of thing happening in Pittsfield before?

        • Molly
          January 14, 2012 at 12:07 am #

          LOL No – have never heard of that regarding Pittsfield!

  3. Jim Gleason
    January 12, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    KIf BerkshireWorks was such a big mess, why did ruberto allow it to get that far? He was on vacation for his last two years in office, only trying to screw the people of Pittsfield with irresponsible proposals which his rubber stamp council, led by Gerry Lee, then passed 9-2. Giving him credit fro bringing in barrett only masks the blame for his letting the situation get to where it was.

    • Steve wade
      January 12, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

      Jim. May e you could use Berkshire Works to help you get a. Job. LOL

  4. Bull Durham
    January 12, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    I had to laugh a bit at Barrett’s explanation, and it just reminded me of how much he makes himself sound like The Wolf from Pulp Fiction.

    The Wolf: You’re… Jimmie, right? This is your house?
    Jimmie: Sure is.
    The Wolf: I’m Winston Wolfe. I solve problems.
    Jimmie: Good, we got one.
    The Wolf: So I heard. May I come in?
    Jimmie: Uh, yeah, please do.

    • Mike Ward
      January 12, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

      I actually referred to him as The Wolf during his stint as vice-mayor. The ward councilors dug him the most. If you needed an issue to get moved to the front burner you called The Wolf. He was worth every penny.

      • Shakes His Head
        January 12, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

        My impression of him is that he he had a fierce bark, but had very little substance. More the ‘Wizard of Oz’ than a wolf. North Adams loves him so much they shut him out of his preferred committee assignments. The real story here is that Ruberto was so ineffective and inexperienced after his years that he had to hire someone at taxpayer expense to address concerns from the ward councilors? Neighborhood cheerleaders make great ward councilors, City cheerleaders make good at-large councilors, and effective leaders make good Mayors. Pittsfield can move beyond the era of Ruberto Apology.

      • dusty
        January 13, 2012 at 2:25 am #

        Mike, this suggests that he had more clout than elected officials. Why would this be? Did he just try harder? Do department heads not take councilors seriously?

        • Mike Ward
          January 13, 2012 at 8:16 am #

          He did have more clout, via the mayor, in prioritizing services. The council has more clout in terms of legislation, appointment approvals, city budget, borrowing, etc. You know, the executive vs legislative system. Most days, however, the thing your constituents need is not a new law.

          • dusty
            January 13, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

            So, are you saying that if I have a big pothole in front of my residence I should not bother calling my councilor? Should I bypass my councilor and go straight to uh, uh, who is the wolf now?

          • Mike Ward
            January 13, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

            Sorry I wasn’t clear on this. NO, you don’t call The Wolf for an ordinary pothole fix, man! Would Samuel L. Jackson’s character in Pulp Fiction call Harvey Keitel’s character for assistance with a flat tire?

            You’ve now sucked all the fun out of a perfectly good joke by Bull Durham.

    • Monitor
      January 12, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

      Three rousing cheers and political accolades for the imported Pittsfield house cleaner, Mr. Barrett. I understand he successfully cleaned an episode at city hall that involved his behavior toward another city employee. I know for a given fact that at least part of the city council were contacted regarding this matter which was swept under the rug by the Wolf and his cadre.
      Now that the cleaner and Wolf has rendered Bershireworks sterile again, how about an objective assessment of his performance as director ? Is the organization responsive, performing optimally, and exceeding the expectations of its mission ?.

  5. joetaxpayer
    January 12, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    I understand Mrs Amuso’s frustration,not getting the chair.But she should get over it and be a pro.Council woman Mazzeo was also top vote getter and wanted the vice pres. appointment but was snubbed.She has moved on and has not missed a beat.

  6. rick
    January 12, 2012 at 11:57 am #

    one thing about roberto, jim g., is roberto had zero managerial skills as a mayor,( the sad thing about that is its 95% OF THE JOB DESCRIPTION) and from what i hear when he left, city hall people gave out a collective sigh. from what i gather they kind of felt sorry for him, he would have hissy fits in front of people, if i were the godfather i would have told him to grow up and act like a man….your right gleason about it getting out of hand, but to robertos defense he didn’t have the necessary skills to stop the problem before it got out of hand. and that’s the reason why barrett was around…. but now that robertos gone, i think barrett should follow him into the sun set.

    • Jim Gleason
      January 12, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

      Maybe they can be roomies in FLA. if barrett can pay off his bookies and buy a plane ticket to get there.

      • Steve wade
        January 12, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

        Jim what is your hard on with Ruberto? Did. He do something to you personally that made you hate him so much? Have you ever had a discusion with him personally and not just talking to him on a radio program? Ruberto is gone get over it! I’m just wondering how long it will take you to start Hating Mayor Bianchi? You know it’s inevitable!

    • Steve wade
      January 12, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

      Rick if anything Ruberto over managed. He had acting dept heads in almost all departments. This made iit very hard for them to do their jobs without fear of being demoted.

      • Molly
        January 12, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

        That’s called STUPID managing! No faith in who he appoints to make the right decisions, so he makes them all be “acting” so that he can be sure that he is involved in all decisions. That is NOT a leader!

      • rick
        January 13, 2012 at 3:42 am #

        steve, once again if roberto was any kind of a manager he would have known it was a bad idea to have acting anything.seems to me from what you are stating, that they were playing hide and seek with roberto in fear for their i wonder if a good manager would have listened to a couple of councilors (mazzeo,nichols) about just that problem. on the good note is he cant do any more damage so it is time to forgive and move on. and because he was an emotional person i think he was handcuffed with his temperaments.

  7. Shakes His Head
    January 12, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    I firmly believe that after 8 years Berkshire Works would be improved with 20 months of John Barrett III reminding everyone of how awesome he is. His interim appointment should not linger as it conflicts with his elected position!!! Not that he would turn down a nickel. He’s leeched of the public for twenty years and left North Adams in an absolute mess.

    • Molly
      January 12, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

      Agree he needs to go!

  8. K-Man
    January 12, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    Don’t like the GOBS but like John Barrett, who will do things his way or the high way. One of my wife’s friends works there and we knew all about the mess referred to here, at least that idiot who made out like a bandit didn’t take the whole thing down.
    On Nilan case, great picrutre of Meredith and Alf!!

    • danvalenti
      January 12, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

      Yes, it does look like Barrett helped saved the bacon at BerkshireWorks. As for how effective the agency is, I cannot say. I do know that they have had budget cuts at a time when the unemployed are showing up in droves.

  9. Joe Blow
    January 12, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    Who will handle her probation when she gets off with a slap on the wrist?

  10. Dave G
    January 12, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

    when the OBJECT came through the hole in the windshield she could’nt tell if it was a deer or a dog?? MAYBE SHE SHOULD GET GLASSES

    • danvalenti
      January 12, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

      Deer, dog, male jogger: All the same, the Nilans would have us believe.

    • dusty
      January 12, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

      Brings to mind an old Twilight Zone episode. Guy is flying this old plane through a driving rain storm. The windshield wipers are going and all of a sudden he looks out and sees an agonized face looking back at him through the window. Scary stuff when you are a kid. A face in the windshield is not something you forget or confuse. At least not when Rod Serling does it.

    • Molly
      January 12, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

      And, I hear, the dog was a POODLE!!!

  11. tobster
    January 12, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    If you hit a deer you should have deer hair on your car and if you hit a dog it would not come up thru your windshield so cut the bull tell the truth you got away with a DUI

  12. Ray Ovac
    January 12, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

    DV, is the Berkshire Eagle or any other local media (including Planet Valenti) intending to file a motion with Pittsfield District Court to open the Nilan hearing to the public? What legal grounds could there possibly be to keep such a hearing like this closed to media and the public? If this were Boston, every news media in the city would be filing motions or amicus briefs to open the hearing.

  13. Ray Ovac
    January 12, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    DV, since the Eagle had access to the photos of the accident vehicle, why the hell hasn’t it published those photos?

    • Molly
      January 12, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

      Don’t forget – they are TOLD exactly what to print, and when to print it. Obviously, they are still awaiting that “go ahead” from the GOB’s… And that is likely going to be a very long wait, as in when hell freezes over.

    • New to PV
      January 13, 2012 at 7:08 am #

      My guess is that since the car involved in the hit and run is a state vehicle (as I’ve heard), Mr. Nilan is doing everything possible to prevent photos from emerging.

      • Ray Ovac
        January 14, 2012 at 1:52 am #

        A State vehicle? If it is a state-owned car, then that does change the dynamic. Why isn’t the BB or anyone else in local media requesting release of the Nilan state-owned vehicle photos the way the Boston Herald has pursued release of the photos regarding Lt.Gov. Tim Murray’s state-owned car? And what right has Clifford Nilan to lock away a state-owned vehicle inside his home’s garage?

      • Ray Ovac
        January 14, 2012 at 2:04 am #

        Further, aren’t all state-owned vehicles required now to have a blackbox that records the vehicle’s technical data? That’s how the Boston Herald learned that Democrat Lt. Gov. Tim Murray was lying about going the speed limit before his wreck. Fact is, Murray’s car hit 108 MPH just before impact. If the vehicle Nilan was driving is state-owned, and if it has a blackbox, the information contained within could, for instance, shed light on the vehicle’s speed at the moment of impacting the jogger and whether the brakes were applied in the seconds after that impact. If no braking, it would mean the driver never even bothered to stop and look.

        • dusty
          January 14, 2012 at 2:29 am #

          Do we know it was state owned? Cuz I would imagine the state was also paying for the gas. And if the daughter was using it to go to parties out of town that is a bit disingenuous.

          • Molly
            January 14, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

            Just a bit… If he was allowing his daughter to drive a state-owned vehicle, there will be a HUGE outcry from the citizens!! I would be surprised if it’s a state owned vehicle – for one reason, the state has better cars than a 2001 Subaru…

  14. Tito
    January 12, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

    Hey RAy, next thing you”ll be telling us Cliffy was driving the car.

    • Ray Ovac
      January 12, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

      Tito, funny you should ask. Did that thought occur to you, too? As anyone will tell you, ANYTHING is possible in The Pitt. It wouldn’t be the first time in Massachusetts that the offspring took the blame for the sins of the parent. After all, who’d have the most to lose from a conviction for hit-and-run. Other than the statements of the Nilan’s themselves, is there any specific evidence that Meredith Nolan was in fact the driver that night of the vehicle registered to her father? For example, did any of the Berkshire Young Professionals (or anyone else) earlier that evening actually observe Ms. Nilan getting into, out of, or driving that SUV?

  15. Tito
    January 12, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

    Hey RAy, next thing you”ll be telling us Cliffy was driving the car.

  16. Ray Ovac
    January 12, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    DV, you write, “The police account of the accident and Ms. Nilan’s differ in many respects. She says it occurred at 9 p.m. Police say 8:15. She says it took place on East Street and McIntosh Road. Police found no evidence there. Moore, the victim, said it happened at the corner of East and Winesap. There, police found lots of blood and some dog fur. Who is telling the truth?”

    According to, Clifford J. Nilan’s home phone is listed to an address at 72 Winesap Road in Pittsfield. According to Mass. Land Records, Mr. Nilan and his wife closed on their Winesap Road property in June, 1989. That would mean The Nilans have lived at that address for more than 22 years, apparently moving in just a few years after daughter Meredith was born. That also means Meredith is as familiar with her own neighborhood as would anyone else be who had grown up and lived in a small neighborhood for 22 years. As such, Ms. Nilan’s own statement to police that she believed she had had her accident at the intersection of East Street and McIntosh Road, when in fact said accident took place five blocks west of that location, implies she was somehow impaired in some way that evening. The next obvious questions therefore are why was it that Meredith Nilan was impaired at 8:15 on the evening of December 8 and how did that impairment manifest itself while she was operating her father’s SUV?

  17. Ray Ovac
    January 12, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

    DV, legal or not, could you please name names and tell us exactly who these BerkshireWorks employees were who engaged in nepotism and who capriciously changed the rules (is that even legal in such an organization) so as to game the system and get a golden parachute plus 99 weeks unemployment bennies? Berkshire people should be made aware of just who amongst them are making a mockery of alleged safety net organizations. Such organizations appear to be nothing more than place holders for political patronage in the first place, and this golden parachuter should be outed publicly for who he is, whether what he did was technically legal or not. It’s not libelous nor slanderous to state facts.

    January 12, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    She will be charged and go through the system and lets see what will happen. However I want to see what they do to little Cliffy if he did indeed try to cover up this crime. Also I watched him on TV at a Parks Dept. meeting, boy what a little arrogant man he is.

    • Tony Truran
      January 12, 2012 at 9:43 pm #

      Statute calls for 6 months to 2 years, for JUST the hit and run.

      Think she will like Howard Street???

      Cliffy, obstructing JUSTICE? Maybe a promotion?

    • Molly
      January 12, 2012 at 10:20 pm #

      Yeah – I saw a reference to that Parks Dept. meeting. Why would Cliff Nilan be so upset and arguing at a Parks Dept Meeting??? Do you know what was going on?

  19. Molly
    January 12, 2012 at 10:31 pm #

    RE: The Nilans: I think she MAY be charged, if for no other reason than to make it appear that everything is “above board”. I also think that she’ll get off for the following reasons:
    – Can the police PROVE that it was her driving the car? Likely not.
    – Even if she was seen having a drink, they have no proof that she was “driving under the influence” because “Daddy” protected that by calling the police and reporting that she hit a deer, knowing full well that the police were likely too busy to respond to a deer being hit by a car. Her lawyer has already stated that “the police were called but they never showed up”, which was exactly the intent of the call about hitting a deer. So that phone call to the police about hitting a deer did two important things: no breathalyzer tests/blood alchohol tests were performed, and they can’t prove it was her driving.
    – The victim (nor anyone on his behalf) didn’t call the police until the hospital did the following day.
    – The victim was not able to describe the car nor the driver.
    – The police didn’t get a warrant to search the car until at least one week after the accident occurred — there was certainly opportunity there to change the condition of the car/EDR.
    – Does a 2001 Subaru Forester even contain an “Electronic Data Recorder”? And isn’t its recording data tied in with the air bag being deployed? Was the air bag deployed? There was no mention of this. And certainly enough time to replace the EDR? So likely not much evidence to be had from the “EDR”.
    – The DA is obviously a good buddy of Cliffy’s – I’m sure he’s been “directing the orchestra” behind the scenes since the night of the accident.

    So brace yourself, folks — the slime of the GOB’s returns yet again. She’ll get off. That’s my prediction. I just need to add that it takes a LOT of narcissism, a real dirt-bag type person, to hit someone with your car hard enough to create a head-sized hole in the windshield, see the person laying in the street bleeding from his head, and drive away. That is one special class of sleaze.

    • Ray Ovac
      January 13, 2012 at 4:51 am #

      Molly, is there evidence that either Clifford J. Nilan or daughter Meredith have a history of drinking? Does anyone here on PlanetValenti know the family?

    • charley
      January 13, 2012 at 9:35 am #

      Uh just for the record, the DA is not a buddy of Nilan’s and never was.

      • Ray Ovac
        January 14, 2012 at 2:10 am #

        Charley, DA Capeless may not be a buddy of Cliff Nilan’s, but they’re both products of the same Democrat political machine. Attack one and they circle the wagons. Look at how they still protect pedophile Stracuzzi.

  20. rick
    January 13, 2012 at 5:14 am #

    what is this a witch hunt? slow down , an accident happened, if something was afoul she would have been arrested. i believe everyone is crossing their ts and dotting their i”s so these crazy questions wont carry any weight. i do feel sorry for people in highly visible positions, that when something happens a big magnifying glass comes out and the people who want to see others brought down start destroying them before all the facts are in. if anything our police force are professionals and wont be intimidated. just the facts mame.

    • Dave
      January 13, 2012 at 7:37 am #

      If it looks like a fish, smells like a fish and tastes like a fish, it is probably a fish.

      This incident with the Nilan familty smells pretty bad and looks pretty bad. With Cliff’s history of aiding the cover-up of Angelo’s Maine escapades, one could easily argue that all negative comments above are warrented. This is not a witch hunt, but people voicing their displeasure of a GOB continuing to do GOB stuff.

      • jimbo
        January 13, 2012 at 9:30 am #

        Just a general question on “GOBs”: What exactly defines a GOB? Sounds to me that it really isn’t a negative to be tagged a “GOB”. Does it mean you hold a position a power (political or private sector, doesn’t seem to matter here), have connections within the community you live, hold enough respect from those in power to influence policy even though you’re not an elected offical, or are born into a family that qualifies for one or all of the above? Just trying to understand. Sounds to me like if you had a choice of GOB vs. non GOB, whatever that makes you, you’d chose to be part of this GOB crew. Just sayin.

        • Dave
          January 13, 2012 at 10:06 am #

          It is not a negative to be a GOB if you are a GOB. Being a GOB means that within the GOB network you will get support and preferential treatment from other GOBs.

          The negative is derived from the perception of the GOB from those outside the GOB network. GOBs typically are rewarded with cushy jobs or appointments, preferential treatment when you get in trouble (read Angelo Stracuzzi staying in power through Cliff Nilan’s failure to disclose Angelo’s incident to those that should have been informed) etc.

          Being a GOB is not necessarily a bad thing, but when the political power and influence is used to obtain things that a “normal” citizen cannot obtain by himself or used to brake the law, exercise corruption or unethical behavior there lies the problem.

          • danvalenti
            January 13, 2012 at 10:37 am #

            A great definition.

          • jimbo
            January 13, 2012 at 11:53 am #


          • danvalenti
            January 13, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

            These are helpful distinctions.

          • Gary
            January 13, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

            That was very accurate. thank you.

    • Ray Ovac
      January 13, 2012 at 8:59 am #

      Rick, what facts do you still need that Clifford Nilan failed with regard to his glaring conflict of interest regarding his duties as Probation Chief and his failure to say anything to the Greylock Federal Credit Union board of trustees upon which he sat as Treasurer?
      Stracuzzi’s conviction in Maine was always in the public domain up there, yet Nilan kept it hidden here in Pittsfield so it wouldn’t get out that Stracuzzi got nabbed out-of-state for soliciting underaged boys for sex.
      How many excuses are you going to keep making for yet another Democrat political hack?

      • rick
        January 13, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

        this is his daughter not him, come on folks, we are not guilty of our parents sins. so do you want her to pay for his discrepancies, i dont think so……

        • Ray Ovac
          January 14, 2012 at 2:23 am #

          Rick, it is Cliff Nilan who is locking that vehicle inside his home’s garage. It is Cliff Nilan who according to the BB, “went back to the scene” of the accident with daughter Meredith “to look for what was struck and could not find anything” according to police information. And it was Cliff Nilan who “called police around 9:30 p.m. to report that his daughter had hit ‘either a dog or deer on Winesap Road near their home,’ according to court documents.” You cannot extract Cliff Nilan from this matter because he was pivotally involved in its aftermath in possibly obstructing justice and possibly destroying evidence.

    January 13, 2012 at 7:53 am #

    Molly: I have to disagree a little. I understand the State Police Crime lab people did find evidence linking the accident to her car. I believe she was be charged, plea out to a fine. This happens all the time. Im sure if she stay out of trouble it will be dismissed from her record. This also happens ALL THE TIME no matter what your name is. If she get Judge Rutberg she might get nothing, like everyone that goes in front of him ( worst judge ever in Berkshire Country) I would agree from a defense lawyer view he will have a lot to work with. My interest is what happens to little Cliffy if he indeed did clean up evidence

    • Ray Ovac
      January 13, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

      When was the last time anyone in Berkshire County pled out to a hit-and-run that resulted in serious personal injury under conditions where it is likely the driver was drunk?

    • Molly
      January 14, 2012 at 12:30 am #

      Well sure – but getting off with a small fine and getting it erased from her record, IS getting away with it. I don’t think that this happens ALL THE TIME for something as serious as this. We see a lot of drug dealers get off, gang members, etc., but this is a VERY serious thing, so I don’t know… Whatever happened to that woman who hit an elderly man on E. Housatonic Street – she was the head of Berkshire United Way or something like that, and no charges were filed pending completion of the police investigation. That just disappeared – have heard nothing since.

    January 13, 2012 at 8:01 am #

    One interested point Molly about Capless. The Nilan’s lawyer is Shugue I understand Capless and he do not get along. Shugue did run against Mr. Capless. Question: Does Cliffy’s wife still work for the Berkshire Eagle.

    • Molly
      January 14, 2012 at 12:31 am #

      Cliff’s wife works for the Berkshire Eagle?

        January 15, 2012 at 8:13 am #

        She did several years ago unknown if still working for them Her name was Lynn Daley I believe.

  23. Ed
    January 13, 2012 at 9:49 am #

    Is newly elected mayor Bianchi saddled with the WunderBarrett as Berkshire Works CEO until 12/31/12 or one half of his term ? Is this a contractual position similar to the development czaress, Deanna Ruffer’s ? Both are appointees or reappointees of the Ruberto administration.
    Is Bianchi hamstrung or is he able to create his own management team with these and other positions ?

    • danvalenti
      January 13, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

      My understanding is that Der Wunderbarrett’s contract is good until the end of the year. I also know Barrett well enough to surmise that if Mayor Bianchi didn’t want him to fill out the year, JB would step aside. JB is a man who upsets a lot of apple carts, but he is also a man with class. My guess (purely that) is that the mayor will not want to oust Barrett. First, this is a transitional year, from a mess to full compliance. Second, that would create a positional headache for the mayor. Third, it would stir up some political sediment. Fourth, Barrett has done a good job at BerkshireWorks, according to some of the workers there. For these reasons, we don’t see Bianchi making a switch.

  24. rick
    January 14, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    the more i read and hear the rumors of the dysfunction in different departments and now the school department under robertos tenure , its all adding up why he didnt run this last election cycle. it didnt take too long for the power grabs to happen, and in some cases not very suttle either. bianchi has his hands full just trying to re organize the departments before he can get his agenda going.

  25. GMHeller
    January 15, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

    Mr. Valenti:
    Your article here is quoted at length in Berkshire Blog, the Jan. 14 piece entitled: “Probation Chief’s Kin Gets Preferential Treatment in ‘Hit-and-Run’ Case”

  26. Concern
    January 15, 2012 at 9:33 pm #

    Molly. Cliffy’s wife was employed as a reporter for the Berkshire Eagle, then she was Lynn Daley ( I believe ) Unknown if still employed there

  27. skier1
    January 18, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

    Lynn hasn’t worked at the Eagle for years