!!UPDATE!! KROL QUESTIONS MAZZEO COMMENTS ON FERRIN!! … DOG WALK TO BEGIN ‘PETER MOORE’ BENEFIT DAY … THE SURPRISING EVOLUTION OF THE PLANET AS A FORCE … plus …COUNCILORS’ INQUISITION OF JEFF FERRIN WAS WRONG: WE PRESENT IT EVERY WHICH WAY, INCLUDING LOOSE
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
Add #1 (2:11 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 17, 2012)
KROL DISPUTES ACCURACY OF MAZZEO’S COMMENTS ON JEFF FERRIN CASE
We break into our weekend for an update to acknowledge receiving communications from two city councilors on the Jeff Ferrin appointment battle, also know as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.
In the following post, which we published yesterday, we quoted at-large councilor Melissa Mazzeo with her take on the Jeff Ferrin appointment. In her remarks, Mazzeo mentioned several of her council colleagues, including John Krol of Ward 6. Krol subsequently sent Mazzeo an e-mail, questioning the accuracy of THE PLANET’s inclusion of Mazzeo’s remarks. He wanted to know from Melissa if her remarks were accurately quoted by us. We believe they were.
THE PLANET knows about this e-mail since John copied us in on it. We thank our Right Honorable Good Friend for that. We are busier than a horse-trader’s mule this weekend, but we do want to acknowledge in this quick stolen moment Krol’s concern that his position on Jeff Ferrin has been misrepresented, either by Mazzeo or by us.
We have tripled checked our information, and we have quoted Mazzeo accurately. Krol’s dispute, then, should be taken up with her, as it has been. We will report, quickly, that Mazzeo has responded to Krol with her own e-mail, which THE PLANET received on Saturday.
On Monday, we shall post the e-mails of the dueling councilors. Stay tuned Gotta get back to work now. Be back Monday morning with another edition of THE PLANET that we can label “Can’t Miss.”
Now back to our regular programming.
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, FEB. 17, 2012) — Each day brings Pittsfield closer to one of its rare, fine moments. Not coincidentally, this moment has nothing to do with Big Shots, GOBs, or other Self-Important gasbags and pompous puffballs. This moment is being organized by ordinary people for one of their own. We speak, of course, of the THE REAL PITTSFIELD BENEFIT FOR PETER MOORE. The event is scheduled for 12:30 to 5 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 26.
The Moore Benefit Is About Good People Forcing the Creeps to Stand Down!
Recently, a commentator to this site questioned the need for the benefit: Does Moore need one? The question, reasonable enough, has been answered and parried well by others. THE PLANET will add, though, that the benefit is not just about money, although Moore missed almost two months of work and can only handle part time duties now. There are also mountains of medical costs, not all of which will be covered by insurance.
There’s a big however in this, however.
The benefit isn’t about money. It’s about goodness. The Moore Family is not native to Pittsfield, and yet the city was in rightful danger of being judged by Peter’s family across the country by the actions of a callous hit-and-run driver whose alibis, upon further inspection, have unraveled faster than a wool sweater at a convention of moths.
And you know, folks, without the the rallying response of an entire community to this website’s coverage of the incident, the near-killing of Peter Moore would have disappeared. The Fix was in, and for more than a month, appeared to be holding. The reckless driver did the deed the evening of Dec. 8. Between then and early to mid-January, all you heard were background noises.
Had this incident involved most anyone else of the Ordinary Citizen variety and not Meredith Nilan, daughter of Cliffy Nilan, the Boring Broadsheet and others are all over it and in record time, the driver is charged, tried, and disposed. But her daddy had pull (note the past tense, for Cliffy’s days of Lording are over, though he might not know it yet). We got sketchy word 12 days after the collision. We made several inquiries, and strongly suspected by the lock-step response and the cast of characters that the Fix had been ordered and the Cover-Up had commenced.
Cyberspace is Changing the Rules of the Game in Favor of The Little Guy
Even when word got out, the fixers had the motives and the means to handle the courts … so they thought. They brought in a ringer magistrate from Westfield under cloak of darkness, and this “pantheon of justice” promptly scheduled a secret hearing, closed off the hearing to everyone but the accused, and rushed to judgment, finding that there wasn’t enough evidence to send this to trial.
Yeah, right, Nathan Byrnes.
And then THE PLANET got copies of the damaged vehicle. When people got a look at the sight of a horrific accident (head hole in windshield in front of the driver, hood badly dented, front grille ripped off, frozen blood and dog fur in the road) the lid blew off. No wonder why the Boring Broadsheet, which had access to the photos much sooner than we did, refused to publish them. The GOB ordered the pictures, radioactive as they were, could NOT be published. The management at the BB sheepishly complied.
THE PLANET, stymied officially, did not give up on obtaining copies of the photos. We burrowed and, finding an alternate route, we got the pictures.
Game over — at least (what by now is obvious) the blatant cover up. There is a new day dawning in Berkshire County and Pittsfield that, for the first time in a generation, offers We The People a realistic glimmer of political and communal hope. It’s called cyberspace. The same medium that brought down governments (Egpyt, Libya, etc.) and that can overnight organize great movements (Occupy) has come to town and grown up a bit.
From Simple Writing Experiment to a Communal, Social, and Political Force: THE PLANET’s Hegira
We began this website nearly 450 posts ago as the extension of a thought experiment. What if, we told ourselves, we had the assignment of writing a daily column of substantial length (averaging well over 2,000 words a day) that focused primarily on local events — and not dominated by the vapid, airy, cotton-candy stuff you get everywhere else in town that must produce on a daily basis — what we call the ”on Sunday, the Rotary Club will have a Pancake Breakfast” journalism? Could we do it, amid all of our other responsibilities, which involves the use of words that we exchange for dollar bills?
The answer became yes. Over nearly 17 months, the website has evolved from a writing experiment to a writing exercise to a site now that has assumed its place of importance in setting the public agenda, especially in the city of Pittsfield. We did not plan it that way. We did not expect or look for this kind of influence. It found us, however.
The growth of the site since January has been steady in the viral way the web has of working: one shares with two, two tell four, four tell eight, and so on. The Peter Moore story became the catalyst in boosting our readership from modest and growing to explosively growing.
Assuming this type of power comes with a lot of responsibility, of course, and it’s not all fun and games. One needs the thickest skin in town yet with the sensitivities of a safecracker’s fingertips. We take more guff than any 10 local public figures combined. We have become, independent of our will, once again a lightning rod. It’s happened before in our earlier local lives as newspaper columnist and radio talk show host, which ultimately became one reason we walked away from those efforts after so many years.
Afflicting the Comforted and Comforting the Afflicted, or, If You’re Going to Piss Off and Support, Piss Off the ‘Right’ People and Support the Downtrodden
We derive not a cent from these efforts, nor do we need, seek, or want to. We have set up our enterprises so that our cost centers live elsewhere. We wish to remain unbought and unbossed. Should the time come for an offer We Cannot Refuse, well, we’ll deal with that if and when if arrives. We think we’ll refuse, by the way. For now, we are not for sale.
This might make the Cliff Nilans and Angelo Stracuzzis of the world nervous, but it’s striking a chord with the Mary Jane and Joe Kapanskis out there, who are more and more abandoning print and moving to the computer for their news. While other websites, and especially the BB, choose to paint the “Fairy Dust Flowers” picture of life in Pittsfield — where never is officially heard a discouraging word (unless it can harm a political for or crush The Little Guy — we will keep on keeping on.
To those who have a problem with THE PLANET and have tried to intimidate-to-mitigate what we do, we quote Paul Newman from The Hustler: “[We] don’t rattle, kid!”
SWEET LITTLE TOBY MOORE INSPIRES A DOG WALK … AND A TOWN
Canine lovers of the world, unite! Prior to THE REAL PITTSFIELD BENEFIT FOR PETER MOORE AND FAMILY, a dog walk will be held to honor the heroic efforts of Toby Moore, the cute little guy who, unlike the driver of the vehicle that nearly killed his master, stayed with Peter Moore and tried, as best he could, to provide warmth and comfort while Peter lay unconscious in the frozen evening.
Here are the details, fresh from the organizer:
About one hour and six minutes into the most recent city council meeting (Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012), the Spanish Inquisition made a visit to the Pittsfield City Council, going by most accounts.
Jeff Ferrin‘s appointment to the ambulance commission created a ruckus among certain of our Right Honorable Good Friends the Tuesday night of Valentine’s Day. The red hearts turned to silvery daggers, and the daggers were implanted into the front and back of a nominee who has made many enemies among the GOBs and many friends among the poor folk. Jeff Ferrin is unlike the former and much like the latter.
THE PLANET did not attend the council meeting, having chosen the better part of amour to spend our night with MRS. P. We do not own a TV set, having assassinated ours into electronic Eden on Sept. 1, 2008 (but who’s counting?). We don’t live in Pittsfield, alas, and our cable system, in an act of mercy, does not broadcast from the Pittsfield chambers on the second floor City Hall. The video links from the PCTV broadcast could not be played on our system for some reason, despite it being the latest Mac. When we went to the PCTV website, the link at the site played deaf and dumb.
Bottom line is that we did not actually witness what happened. We did, however, receive several blow-by-blow accounts from several on both sides of the aisle and a few people watching either from the cheap seats or on the idiot box.
We took the two mainstream versions (Jeff Ferrin is a Monster and Jeff Ferrin is a Saint), divided by two, applied some common sense, and now have enough to offer a point of view. Let us empty the six shooter and bullet our points, remembering there isn’t a silencer out there that can muzzle a revolver.
The council’s actions stunk.
Take the Name of Jeff Ferrin Out of the Equation and What Do You Have? An 11-0 Appointment
If you peel the onion to its sweet, hot core, the Jeff Ferrin incident from the council meeting had little to do with Jeff Ferrin and lots to do with widening the political gulf that threatens to divide the city of Pittsfield again more than at any time since the Civic Authority. The Ferrin debate became the excuse for the Ruberto-Marchetti supporters to take it to the Bianchi camp.
If this is most any other name but “Jeff Ferrin,” the appointment goes through in a snooze, 11-0. Let’s get real, ladies and gentlemen: We’re talking the ambulance commission, not an appointment to the Supreme Court or lead negotiator of the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks. Be honest. Did you even know the city of Benigno Numine even HAD an ambulance commission. Technically, it’s the Ambulance Review Commission. The city’s website lists the members:
Ambulance Review Committee
Chris Pederson … Tom Hickey, Jr. … Lucy Britton … Michael Monti … Dr. Ron Hayden … Michael L.Ward, Councilor … Colleen Hunter … Robert Van Bramer … Marcus Welby … James Kildare … Ben Casey … Adolph Hitler … Charles Manson … Marshal Tito.
Actually, we added the last six names, to show that any of these gentlemen, had they come before the council, would not have been taken into the boards the way certain members took Ferrin on Tuesday night.
Ward 5 councilor Jonathan Lothrop launched the attack: “I do think that as an appointee to a committee, we do need to have consideration for people’s overall character.” Ward 1′s Christine Yon parroted the same remark, bringing up the “matter of character.” At large Barry Clairmont and Ward 3′s Paul Capitanio also went into the “character” aspect. It became clear that these four had set up a quadrangulated sniper’s nest, agreeing beforehand on the talking point of Ferrin’s “character” to slap Mayor Dan Bianchi in the face.
J-Lo, Yon, Dancing Barry, and Cappy: Truly, do you have the mastery of metaphysics to be able to read a person’s soul? And do you expect us to believe that you did not meet prior to this to plan the attack, in violation of the state’s Open Meeting Law?
Ferrin Had Come Clean Long Ago About His Civil Service Record, in fact, to an Admirable and even Heroic Degree
You’ll recall, ladies and gentlemen, that Ferrin ran against Capitanio in the last election and lost. There was no love lost between the two men. QUESTION: Why didn’t Cappy recuse himself from the the discussion? He could hardly be expected to offer an objective assessment of Ferrin’s ability to serve on the commission. Cappy woke up, we hear, just long enough to go back to sleep, letting the second, third, and fourth waves do their “thang.”
What’s the big deal? Ferrin, who ran for mayor in 2009, has been a regular at countless city meetings over the past few years, since he lost his job with the city. He was a side in the thorn of Mayor Jimmy Ruberto, Uncle Gerry Lee, and a host of other System types. During this period, Ferrin showed a trait that typically gets one branded as a heretic in GOB-land. He informed himself. He pursued knowledge and data. He read up on the law. Worst of all, he … asked questions and took his responsibilities as a citizen co-governor seriously!
Oh, Bartleby! Oh, the humanity!
They (you know who “they” are) didn’t like Jeff much. “They” proved it at the council meeting by digging up the file on Ferrin’s days as an employee of the city, in the highway department (official title: “highway craftsman” [we kid you not]), where he was hired in 2004. Beginning on April 11, 2006 and up to and including April 24, 2009, Ferrin received 14 disciplinary actions from the city.
As a tenured civil service employee, Ferrin exercised his right to appeal two of those actions: One a three-day suspension “for making an offensive comment over the City’s two-way radio system while on duty” on March 4, 2009, and the second a 2.5-day suspension “for leaving a city truck unlocked with the engine running and the emergency lights on while parked in a fire lane outside Berkshire Medical Center for approximately thirty (30) minutes.”
He filed what the Civil Service Commission calls “a timely appeal” to these cases on May 28 and May 29, 2009. In both cases, Civil Service Commission Chairman Christopher C. Bowman dismissed both appeals, ruling against Ferrin and in favor of the city. The commission voted 4-1 in each case.
Here are the two hot links to both cases, so you may read them for yourself:
Let He Who Is Without Sin Cast the First Stone
The question becomes, then: Is this information relevant to Jeff Ferrin’s appointment to the ambulance commission? THE PLANET thinks “no.”
Our primary reason is that Ferrin has never tried to hide or deny his past record with the city. He didn’t run from it during his 2009 mayoral campaign or his bid for the Ward 3 job in 2011. He forthrightly answered every question THE PLANET had about his background in a manner that we found refreshing and all-too-rare among the altar boys and saints we have seen over the years soiling public office in the cesspool that is often Pittsfield politics.Think of the skunks and scallywags we have had and still do in certain public offices. Could they pass The Ferrin Litmus Test? No flippin’ way.
Our take on the Jeff Ferrin of 2012 is that he has matured tremendously, educated himself in an exemplary fashion, and takes his role as a citizen seriously. We cannot find fault with any of that. THE PLANET wishes the city of Pittsfield had 1,000 more with Ferrin’s self-claimed ownership of his government.
Self-government is not only the right of everyone among We The People but also their duty. Otherwise, we will see what has happened over a generation of degeneration in Pittsfield continuing: the setting up of a feudal system that rewards the Connected Few and punishes the rest (case in point: The Nilan-Moore Case) … that makes criminals into pillars of the community and drags decency into the mud … that gives us the likes of Cliffy Nilan, Angelo Stracuzzi, and other scuz and Chosen Ones … that creates a climate of fear and intimidation among good, ordinary citizens.
We won’t have it. Give us 1,000 more Jeff Ferrins.
The Important Aspect of Jeff Ferrin and a Tale of Two Cities
Sure, he made mistakes. He freely admits that. Who hasn’t? The important aspect of Jeff Ferrin is that he worked hard to improve himself, and yet …
… and yet, some vindictive councilors, seeing Ferrin as a convenient excuse to resurrect and tear wide open a political rift that has been holding this city back since at least the time of the Civic Authority debacle. This is the tale of two cities: One for the haves and the other for the have nots.
The pre-emptive strike against Jeff Ferrin was meant to be a shot across the bow to Dan Bianchi. There are people in positions of power, or who can control people in positions of power, who want to see that the new mayor has no chance to heal the division that, if not checked, will perpetually doom this once prosperous, model city.
Which of the councilors find comfort in that type of destruction? Who are they?
For example, ask yourself: Did Clifford Nilan act in such a straightforward manner when he was carrying water for his buddy, Angelo Stracuzzi, after predator “Tell ‘em Angelo sent you” got criminally involved with two under-age teen age boys (13 and 15) in Biddeford, Maine? Has Nilan come clean about everything he knows regarding the running over and near killing of Peter Moore?
We toss out these rhetorical questions with a reference to the New Testament story we should all ponder. An angry mob has caught a woman in adultery. They wish to kill her by stoning her to death. Jesus stops the crowd by asking them: “Let the person who is without sin among you cast the first stone.”
If we are to begin to apply The Ferrin Test to all applicants to city boards and commissions, which councilors sitting on that dais, for example, could survive intact? THE PLANET agrees that certain appointees for positions must be vetted, but not in the manner that councilors took the wood to Jeff Ferrin on Valentine’s Day.
Mazzeo: ‘This is Going to Open a Pandora’s Box’
At-large councilor Melissa Mazzeo spoke to THE PLANET about the Ferrin matter: She said the council had sunk to an all-time low in what happened when Ferrin’s name came up for action.
“Jeff is an EMT and a good fir for this board,” Mazzeo said. “J-Lo objected to Ferrin based on Jeff’s civil service record and ‘character.’ He was followed with support from [Barry] Clairmont, [John] Krol, [Paul] Capitanio, and [Chris] Yon, who questioned his work ethic and character. Capitanio actually said [he was objecting to Ferrin because] he ran against him! I strongly encouraged them to be careful going after ‘character,’ since we have a few questionable people sitting on boards right now. I’m sure you can figure that out. This is going to open up a Pandora’s box. Everyone now is open to having their past looked into and their character debated.”
Based on what we have learned thus far, THE PLANET agrees with our Right Honorable Good Friend, MM, who herself knows full too well the bumps and bruises that can come when you dare question or rile the GOB. We should add that Ward 2′s Kevin Morandi also supported Ferrin and weighed in against character assassination.
The matter vanished when Ward 6 councilor John Krol notified tabling the appointment request would give everyone time to read the Civil Service findings on Ferrin … and, we hope, give our Right Honorable Good Friends time to seriously weigh: Do you REALLY want to go there? If so, THE PLANET guarantees, the gloves will come off on that dais, if they are not off already. Ward 7 rep Tony Simonelli and Ward 4′s Chris Connell agreed with Krol, with Connell making the motion to table.
Some observers got on council president Kevin Sherman for allowing the debate over Ferrin, saying he should have ruled it out of order or had the matter taken up in executive session. THE PLANET disagrees. Sherman was right in letting the fists fly. It is the right of We The People to see this type of action, so we can better judge who are working for them and who are carrying water for skunks.
WEEKENDERS, DELIGHT. THOUGH THE CITY AND TOWN MAY BE ABLAZE AND THUNDER ROARS OVER LAND AND LAKE, THERE IS NO THREAT, YET, TO THE END OF MAN. WE SHALL NOT LEAN, NOR WILL WE STAND IN AWE, NOT EVEN BEFORE THE LION’S LOVELY CLAWS. ENJOY!
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.