PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, MARCH 22, 2012) — Yesterday, THE PLANET got a gander at one of the many boards and commissions that serve WE THE PEOPLE in the oft-slovenly but necessary business of city government, in this case, the Pittsfield Parks Commission. We had attended, along with a roomful of other folks, to witness the actions of an agenda that included Ken Ramsdell‘s petition for the TOBY II Dog Walk (Sunday, April 15, Kirvin Park, Pittsfield)

In yesterday’s post on the actions that took place in Room 203 at City Hall beginning at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night, we noted how rude and condescending the commissioners were to those citizens who took the time out of their busy lives to attend the meeting. At 7 p.m., when Herr Doktor, chairman John Herman, gaveled the meeting to order, he launched immediately into the agenda. There was not a word either before or after gaveling to acknowledge anyone in the room. It was ad if the Lord High Commissioners were alone, and for all the way they acted, they might as well have been.

The commissioners had the wily good sense not to call any witnesses in support of Ramsdell’s petition. THE PLANET was ready to give them an earful. They were even wiser not to engage in any rhetorical fisticuffs with Ramsdell, who, in a public debate, would have to have a fronta-lobe lobotomy to make it fair for the other side.

Herr Doktor and The Birdman: A Snake Oil Medicine Show

Granted, such acknowledgment of WE THE PEOPLE is not proscribed by any rules of order manual, but such a gesture can be found inside the more important book from which most of the good people of Pittsfield operate, The Handbook of Common Sense and Human Decency. You can bet Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski have a copy — a Toby-eared one at that.

That book seems to have escaped the libraries of Herr Doktor and the Birdman of Alka-Seltzer, Clifford Nilan. THE PLANET won’t mention the other three commissioners for two reasons: (1) They serve as nothing more than props, window dressing to Herman’s and Nilan’s private fiefdom, and (2) We were too lazy to Google it (such is life when we must microwave our Pop Tarts in the morning due to time starvation).

It’s nothing one could ever isolate on a microscopic slide to be blown up as an exhibit for a courtroom case, but there was something tawdry about the proceedings. “Tawdry?” Look it up in the dictionary, under “shoddy, shabby, chintzy, cheesy, tacky, Mickey Mouse.” After a few minutes, your hands felt sticky, as if you had cut up a pineapple about an hour before and didn’t wash them. What was it, exactly? Was it Herr Doktor‘s dye job on his thinning hair (what, like we’re not supposed to notice?)? Was it the mere presence of the seedy Birdman, which alone would put one off of one’s morning toast? Or was it something more formal than that?

Perhaps it had to to with Ramsdell’s observation on THE PLANET last night, which we share now:

—– 00 —–

FROM KEN RAMSDELL — Parks Commissioners, First I do applaud the time and energy that you dedicate to the City of Pittsfield, with that being said I must say that I am appalled with the setting and environment of your meeting room. I am deeply troubled by the lack of both the American and Commonwealth flags in your meeting room. I do not understand how a governmental body could meet and conduct the Peoples business without them present. I myself have given time and service to my country via enlistments in the USAF, and as a Veteran respectfully request the Commission and all other Commissions meeting in that or any room immediately make arrangements to have both Flags installed and honored appropriately. I am certain that the recital of the pledge and possibly a minute of silent reflection is not too much to ask.

I do not wish to single out the Parks Commission and I do understand that other Boards and Commissions utilize the meeting room to conduct the Peoples business and a set of flags is in order.

—– 00 —–

The Flags! Of Course! At Minimum, the Room Needed Flags

The flags! Of course.

Now we don’t get all weepy at the unfurling of Old Glory (“Some folks are born to wave the flag, show their red, white, and blue. And when the band plays, ‘Hail to the Chief,’ oh they’ll point their canons at you. Well, it ain’t me.” — John Fogerty, CCR). We do, however, respect what the flag represents in a room that conducts THE PEOPLE’s business. It represents US, not “Them.” It is OUR government, not “Theirs.”

We do honor every veteran, such as Ken Ramsdell and THE PLANET’s dad, who gave years of their life (often risking it, as our father did at the Battle of the Bulge) so that those flags could be displayed. We do honor the precious freedoms purchased under the colors of the banner: Freedom to assemble, freedom of speech, and — with the proper permits and signatures of 100 Barney Fifes, the freedom to walk your dog in a city park.

Herr Doktor, Birdman, and every other person who has the privilege of serving WE THE PEOPLE: You are merely the hired help, meant to follow OUR ORDERS and do OUR BIDDING. It’s time the Barney Fifes such as the members of the Parks Commission get wind of that radical notion, because we aim to press it.

Boards and Commissions: The PLANET Gives Fair Warning — You Are Being Watched, and You May Be Named, Here

Ramsdell’s post was followed by one from the unsinkable MOLLY, house mother here on THE PLANET:

—– oo —–

Absolutely!!! I can’t believe that this would even need to be pointed out to anyone! This shows a lot – actually what we already know – that they are just too all consumed with themselves and keeping their power and ways to show their power, on and on and on, that this never even occurred to them! Disgusting.

Ken – this has to be sent to the Mayor as well. Do you plan to do that?

—– 00 —–

Ken replied to Molly that he would be sending the request to the mayor and if need be petition the city council.

Councils, boards, and commission: BE WARNED! THE PLANET’s Secret Squadron will be conducting surprise audits of your conduct and your meetings. We shall not announce our presence in advance. You may not even know we are watching. But …

… We shall be selecting random samples of your behavior and giving it the benefit of full sunshine. At any given meeting, at any given time, an agent from THE PLANET’s Secret Squadron, could be attending.

We will name names.

We will have as our criteria a simple question: “Are they doing the business of WE THE PEOPLE in an honest and sincere way, to the best of their abilities?” We will spare no one the shame nor deny anyone the praise. So look sharp, you public servants … because that’s what you are: Servants. WE are The Masters … and we’re going to start acting like it.

Official Pittsfield: You are now on Notice!

We will look at both policy and procedure. At times, we will focus more on the individual behaviors than on the substance of the action? Were our servants polite to citizens? Were they timid when it came to acting FOR THE PEOPLE? Did they act as stooges for the GOB? Did the room have flags? Did the chairman thank citizens for attending?

It’s not right that good, decent, ordinary folk should be treated like criminals when they have to do business with city hall, appear before a board or commission, or — God forbid — merely want to






  1. spectator
    March 22, 2012 at 8:08 am #

    DV – a commenter on the BB’s recent article about the Nilan matter is speculating that there may be/have been a romantic relationship between the perp and the victim, do you think there is any merit to that?

    • Molly
      March 22, 2012 at 9:07 am #

      No, that is NOT what the poster was insinuating at all! Here’s the comment from the Berkshire Eagle, Disqus:
      “DJBloom Bloom
      I am very curious as to what the new evidence is, does it include new phone records and text messages between the two parties involved? Are the police thinking this was an intentional hit and run, and not an accident? If so why would a woman run over a neighbor? How well did they know each other?”

      But it is, nonetheless, a very stupid post! He/she is insinuating that perhaps she did it on purpose because of not getting along with a neighbor. Do you think anyone would want someone to mow them over? “Why would a woman run over a neighbor?” IT WAS AN ACCIDENT YOU MORON!

      And nowhere in the article does it state that there is new evidence!! The article was about the New Release of some of the details of the investigation – NOT “new evidence” but a few new details released to us. Learn to read.

      • Molly
        March 22, 2012 at 9:55 am #

        My apologies – this post ticked me off!

      • spectator
        March 22, 2012 at 10:35 am #

        Molly, the post you are reading was changed. By the author or the BB I do not know, but the original post very clearly insinuated that there Ms. Nilan and Peter Moore could possibly have been involved a romantic relationship, quite clearly. I was not able to get a screen grab of the original post, but what appears there now, is not what originally appeared.

        • spectator
          March 22, 2012 at 10:36 am #

          The post also said that new information will emerge to support the accusations made in the post.

          • Molly
            March 22, 2012 at 10:51 am #

            Such garbage should not be repeated. Mr. Moore is an innocent victim of a likely very drunk driver. Repeating such vile things serves no good purpose and makes you as vile as the original poster.

          • Jwbs
            March 23, 2012 at 10:11 am #

            Really a random person says that Peter Moore and meredith had a romantic relationship. Peter Moore is married and has a family! Give me a break this is not a highschool matter this is an adult who was out walking his family dog when a drunk girl who had no cares in the world aside from getting back to the bar to consume more alcohol mowed him down in the street and left him there to die!

          • danvalenti
            March 23, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

            There has been a lot of speculation along these lines, and it’s only that. We are tracking down some information to see, as best as we are able, if there might be a legitimate claim at the bottom of this.

        • Joe Blow
          March 22, 2012 at 11:29 am #

          I read the original post and you’re right it was edited.

          • spectator
            March 22, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

            Thanks for the support Joe Blow.
            Pretty incendiary accusations huh?

    • danvalenti
      March 22, 2012 at 9:49 am #

      None whatsoever.

      • spectator
        March 22, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

        Yes I agree that the allegations that DJ Bloom originally posted were vile. But in reviewing his/her posting history, there is no evidence that indicates that the poster is an irresponsible rumor monger, so it’s speculation bait. To call me vile for repeating someone else’s opinions is irresponsible.

        Additionally, how do you know that those allegations are untrue? Isn’t it the job of the court to decide the facts? Are you a judge? Are you in possession of the missing case files?

        Only Meredith and Peter know the truth, and the rest is open for speculation.

        • Molly
          March 22, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

          So doesn’t this make you an irresponsible rumor monger? That’s what you’re doing – irresponsibly repeating a rumor that has absolutely no hint of fact associated with it. Speculation, to me, is seeing the hole in Meredeth Nilan’s windshield and then speculating that Peter Moore went through the windshield. What you posted is just a vile rumor.

          You agree that the original post was vile, but your reposting it isn’t? I don’t get that one…

          • spectator
            March 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

            I’m not here to get into an argument with you Molly.

            I was simply asking a question in reply to something I read and was incredulous about.

            Don’t tread on my right to think for myself, and have my own opinions.

          • Joe Blow
            March 22, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

            Rumors are how this case was brought to light.

          • danvalenti
            March 22, 2012 at 8:38 pm #

            That’s true. THE PLANET got a tip from a reliable source about 10-12 days after she mowed down poor Mr. Moore. That tip — nothing but hearsay when we first got it — proved true.

          • Susan Moore
            March 22, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

            Molly this isn’t the first time somebody has tried to float that scummy rumor. I read that on one of the blogs a few months back and Robin, Peter’s wife, and I had a good laugh! I think it was the first one in this nightmare that we had. So a little comic relief is good for the soul. Anybody who knows Peter and Robin knows just how ridiculous that kind of liaison would ever be. Some people just can not believe that there are truly good people in the world and Peter Moore is one of them. Of all the people in Pittsfield to have mowed down –we don’t call it an accident when somebody drives in the wrong lane and doesn’t pay attention, an accident is backing into a snow drift—Ms. Nilan couldn’t have mowed down too many worse people than my step son. He is a good family man, a hard worker and a valued employee who has contributed to his community over the past several decades. Your wonderful Benefit proved how many people appreciate Peter. That there is one sick individual out there who must see smut under every tire track and headline is a sad commentary on our society today. But I wanted you to know that the Moores got a good laugh out of it because we know that is the LAST thing in the world that would be true about Peter and Ms. Nilan.

          • danvalenti
            March 22, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

            Thanks for your thoughts on this sensitive issue. You are right about an entire community, minus a few calcified GOBs, being with you, Tom, Peter, Robin, their children, and the entire Moore family.

    • GMHeller
      March 25, 2012 at 3:00 am #

      ‘Spectator’, Disqus and Topix are great places to engage in rumor-mongering, but if the poster has no facts to back up his speculations then it’s all mindless hogwash.
      Looks to me as though the poster is attempting to slime the victim and to place doubt in the public mind as to Meredith NIlan’s likely condition when she got behind the wheel: that of someone in a drunken stupor.
      What other excuse could there be for her father not allowing her to speak with police that night?
      There is more circumstantial evidence of her being drunk that night than of anything else, so should not the focus be kept on the obvious rather than dwell on nonsense?
      For example, yet to be answered is the question how Meredith ‘Well he just took off’ Nilan got home that evening from the BYP drinking party at Allium Bar in Great Barrington?
      She didn’t walk.
      She rode.
      She either drove herself, or she got a ride with a friend.
      She gets home; then leaves again.
      Then forty-seconds after jumping into her father’s car, she runs into a guy.
      So are we to believe she reconnoitered 23 miles from Allium to Winesap Rd by herself?
      If that is not believable, then who was the friend who drove Nilan and who plainly observed her condition?
      To protect both Nilan and the friend is likely why fellow BYP’ers are not talking.

  2. Molly
    March 22, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    Still Missing Documents:
    Although Alf Barbalunga was very quick to respond to my request to post some of the meeting minutes and I acknowledge and thank him for that, the one that I was really interested in (and stated and commented about here) – the meeting of February 15th, is still showing as “Document Not Found” along with the previous one of January 25th. So MORE missing documents!

    The February 15th meeting minutes are important because it was at this meeting that Mayor Bianchi (YES, I CAN mention his name as he is both the Mayor and on the School Committee!) made a motion to do a Regional Search for Superintendent and the School Committee voted that motion down. Then within less than a two week time span, with no “official” meeting taking place and also not one that included Terry Kinnas, suddenly and magically that vote got overturned and Alf was doing a Regional Search! And NO ONE on that School Committee, except for Terry Kinnas, was the least bit upset about that, and nor would they vote in favor of Terry’s proposal.

    So why are those meeting minutes and the meeting prior, the only ones that are missing since Sept. 7 of last year? Just an add’l thought here – the city’s rules & regulations dictate a School Committee meeting on the 2nd & 4th Wednesday of each month excluding July and August. Why do we many times have only one meeting/month? Or are there more unofficial ones?

    Update on making the resumes public:

    Received the following email from Alf Barbalunga (using his personal email address) this past Wednesday, 3/21/12 @ 2:03:

    it is my understanding that the school committee attorney just issued a opinion regarding your interpretation of the open meeting law. dr. eberwein has that available for you, at your convenience
    enjoy the day”

    I haven’t been up to going to get this yet, so can’t yet tell you what it says. Nor do I even know where to go for that! But I’ll admit that there’s not a lot of motivation to do that as we all know what it’s going to say.

    And no response at all regarding supplying any School Dept. input to Dr. Eberwein’s performance evaluations which they HAVE to do.

    • Dee
      March 22, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

      Re: Resumes being open to the public – I have to disagree with you. There is a lot of info on a resume that perhaps applicants don’t want the general public to have access to during the first stages of a job application. I’m all for open government, but how many people do you think would apply for jobs if they knew that their personal info would be scattered about.

      I don’t know about you, but every time I have applied for a job it was while I was already employed. Never leave one job without having a new one lined up; especially in today’s economy. What if a resume is made public, the applicant has not informed their employer that they were looking and ultimately they were fired. Unless there is an employment contact, we live in an at-will state. That means that a boss can fire you for any reason, at all.

      • Molly
        March 22, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

        I fully agree with you. And that was one of Alf’s arguments, and I agreed with him as well! BUT, the Open Meeting law states that they are to be made publicly available (go figure). They restrict the application and any other documentation, but require the resumes to be made public. Blame Martha Coakley? Or Deval Patrick? Or our Legislature? Probably all of the above. I also can’t believe that they require Personnel Documentation to be made public, i.e., anything that the School Committee input to Dr. Eberwein’s performance appraisal. I think that they would have to be the ones to do the entire appraisal as who else would he report to? Yet they require that, too.

  3. jimbo
    March 22, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    Rude and condescending? Why, because they didn’t thank the public for showing up to the one meeting they’ll attend all year? Did anyone from the public thank the commission for dedicating their time every month? Didn’t think so. Dan, wondering why you’d wait to write about this rather than addressing the issue in person while you had the opportunity.

    • danvalenti
      March 22, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

      Thanks for your views. In answer to your question: “Did anyone from the public thank the commission …” the answer is “Yes.” In answer to your second question, had the chair presented the public with an opportunity to speak, we would have most assuredly have done so. We find it hard to resist a live mic. We would have made these comments, in open session, on the record. But neither the chair nor any member thought enough of anyone from the public to invite their comments. They were afraid, to be honest. THE PLANET will be more than willing to meet in a public forum, broadcast live, with no notes, with ANY member or members of the Parks Commission, for a discussion of their actions and inactions. You can pass that along to them, because, uh, we’re sure that they “don’t read that scandal sheet blog.”

      • Dee
        March 22, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

        I would be curious to know if in past park meetings they had an open mic or public comment session or not. That would be much more telling than the exclusion in this one meeting.

        • danvalenti
          March 22, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

          Don’t know. All we can do is report on this one. We were asked why we didn’t voice our objections in person. The answer was that the parks commission provide no forum for ANYONE to address them, in any capacity, on any issue. The only way we could have spoken was to intervene into the meeting without the chair’s permission — that would be futile and lack class.

    • Ken Ramsdell
      March 22, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

      As I stated in my post “Parks Commissioners, First I do applaud the time and energy that you dedicate to the City of Pittsfield” After reading that I am confused as to how you could ask “Did anyone from the public thank the commission for dedicating their time every month? Didn’t think so.” I was unable to thank the Commissioners from the mic as I was not allowed near it. I had planned on thanking them for taking the time to consider my “Special Event Permit Application”.
      Jimbo, while I do appreciate the time and dedication it takes to sit on a commission please keep in mind we allow them the privilege of conducting our business, and it is the business of we the people. I submit as a question, simply as a question If I was a State medical inspector and asked Dr. Herman to show at a board of Optometrists meeting to request permission to submit claims for reimbursement for medcaid payments for performing eye exams, would he expect to be treated professionally and courteously? I imagine so and he deserves that level of professional courtesy, should he not afford that same level of respect to others who have business in front of him? Once again as you point out the Commissioners sit on the board every month I attended one meeting, if public participation is what the boards yearn for wouldn’t it be wiser to welcome and treat in a professional manner those that do attend foster that goal better?
      Jimbo not in a million years would I desire to live in a Country where the citizens are supposed to serve the government, so forgive me for thinking the government is supposed to serve the citizens.

      • Molly
        March 22, 2012 at 8:22 pm #


  4. holy cow
    March 22, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

    Interesting info in statement made by Meridith. Anyone think this was scripted by lawyer?
    She called her boyfriend after she hit something-was she actually dialing while driving which caused the accident. The “call after” would conveniately explain the phone records showing a call at the approxiamate time of the accident leaving a reasonable doubt that the call could have been made after.
    Driver door was frozen so she got out the passenger door.
    Would that be reasonable doubt that she may not have seen Mr Moore.

    • Molly
      March 22, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

      I don’t understand that – why would the driver’s door be frozen?

      No – from seeing where the hole in the windshield was, just to the right of the driver, and an actual HOLE THROUGH the window, she had to have known that she hit a person. And with his head through the window, I think that she would’ve had to have pulled him out and off of her car. But in any case, any reasonable and sober person would’ve seen where he went through the windshield and be able to find a full grown man lying on the road, with a dog around him, either right in front of or to the side of the car.

      • Jwbs
        March 23, 2012 at 10:24 am #

        Not to mention, what did she do to get into the car? Climb through the passengers side then too? Doubtful. Just adds to the pile of lies being told. I completely agree just own up to your mistake, face the consequences that you will be faced with, which i’m sure would be minor, loss of license for a short time, big deal. I would think that would be better and far easier than having your name in the paper every other week and people having an extreme lack of respect for you and your family. We are all well aware that people make mistakes, it’s when you lie and run away that makes people think less of the person you are. Come on Meredith you could easily end all of this by being HONEST a term i’m not quite sure you have ever learned or heard before, nor your familly, but look it up and try it out.

    • danvalenti
      March 22, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

      Oh no — the dreaded “The driver’s door was frozen” defense. Impenetrable!

      • spectator
        March 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

        According to the Almanac, the temp on Dec 8, 2011 in Pitts barely scraped 32 – probably not cold enough to make the door freeze.

      • dusty
        March 22, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

        More likely there was a body lying just outside that door and she did not want to step on it. A deer or a raccoon maybe.

        • Molly
          March 22, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

          True! I enjoy your posts, dusty.

  5. Ray Ovac
    March 22, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    Cliff Nilan, as owner of the accident vehicle, bears the brunt of financial responsibility in re the Moore hit-and-run.
    So Cliff attempts to protect his house via a Homestead declaration.
    Is Cliff’s state pension protected from being attached?

    • danvalenti
      March 22, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

      As best as we can determine, the answer is no. His state pension could be at risk.

      • Beacon Hill Mob
        March 22, 2012 at 6:57 pm #


    March 22, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

    This case is getting worse and worse, now a romantic link between Peter and Ms Nilan. Come on Ms Nilan tell your lawyer get this criminal case over with Plead guilty and pay the fine, lose you license and get on with your life. Also for the Moore’s, they must be getting sick of all this also.

    • danvalenti
      March 22, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

      No such link has been established, only whispers and rumors. The Nilans decided on their course of action beginning from the moment of impact on the evening of Dec. 8, 2011. As for the Moores, we can’t speak for them but we guess they are nauseated at what passes for “justice” in town. The Pittsfield Police did a lot of hard work on this case, had that thrown out the window by Nathan Byrnes at the kangaroo show-cause hearing, and saw their work reinstated by the appellate judge. Now were hearing they’ve been frustrated, thwarted, and otherwise stonewalled by the esteemed clerk magistrate of the court, No Show. The PPD has some good, determined men and women who are getting mighty fed up at what No Show etc. is having them swallow.

  7. J.R. Fein
    March 22, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    There are “most interesting” doing these days in around and about the courthouse. Can’t say much and have to be careful to conceal anything that might reveal who I am. Strange days indeed.

    • Molly
      March 22, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

      well, even from a high-level you can’t describe “strange”? Strange in what way — new rules & regulations? Monitoring of employees? People in bad moods? Or?

    • danvalenti
      March 22, 2012 at 8:28 pm #

      Yes, “strange” in what ways? Care to elaborate, here or privately?

  8. Giacometti
    March 22, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

    There is a Commission in City that never meets

    The Cultural Commission has only met a handful of times in the past eight years…it is often confused with the Cultural Council
    that meets monthly….Cultural Commission is a total waste of time

    Strange for a community that seems to support the arts

    • danvalenti
      March 22, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

      Another of the many mad mysteries that mesmerize the men and mommas in the Pitts.