PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary


* BRIDGE UPDATE — We add this item from the Parks Commission agenda tomorrow night (see main post, below), for those who contacted us today: An update on the Lakeway Drive temporary bridge will be presented. It’s item 5c on the agenda.

* ORANGE MAKES A STATEMENT — Our brackets are kicking butt, including the Syracuse-Wisconsin matchup in Boston this coming weekend. The Orange made a huge statement in the second half of their win over KS, scoring 50 points. Scoop Jardine was the man, but THE PLANET says Christmas comes early for the Orange against Wisc.

* NILAN-MOORE PRETRIAL HEARING — The pretrial hearing in the Nilan-Moore Case is set for Wednesday at the Pittsfield courthouse. Still trying to find the correct time, since it appears more than one are hovering. We wonder: Can’t ANYTHING about this case proceed “normally”?  We’ll have more tomorrow. Basically, a pre-trial hearing is a procedure conducted within 30 days of an arraignment so that both sides can meet with a judge to discuss protocol for the case. The purpose of a pre-trail hearing: To ensure that the playing field is level, that no one is using improper influence, and to help eliminate the possibility of corruption. As we all know, those possibilities, a reasonable man from Mars would say, are ripe in this particular case.

—– 00 —–

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, MARCH 19, 2012) — It’s an in-and-out, turned up, Red Cyrkle day today on THE PLANET, with priorities talking to us, each one telling us he or she should be at the head of the line.

“Me, me, choose me!”

Ah, but what’s popularity for, eh? That, and a Sweet 16 date for the Syracuse Orangemen (33-2) in Boston over the weekend!

For now, let us quickly report on our first item: Toby Moore.

TOBY II: Date With Destiny, Tomorrow, 7 p.m., City Hall, Room 203 — We Want YOU!

Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 20, 7 p.m., city hall, the Parks Commission will hear from petitioner Ken Ramsdell, who has applied for a permit to conduct a dog walk on April 15. We need every able body who can make the meeting at city hall,  Room 203, to attend. This will be a show of support for everything that is right about Pittsfield and against a lot of what’s wrong and who’s making it that way.

TOBY II is what we’re calling second attempt at a Toby Moore dog walk in honor of the heroic little dog who probably saved the life of his master, Peter Moore, by refusing to leave him after a hit-and-run driver nearly killed him in a collision on Dec. 8, about 8:15 p.m., on Winesap Road near the mouth of East Street. Meredith Nilan has been charged with two criminal counts by the Pittsfield Police Department in connection with the incident. At her arraignment, her attorney, Tim Shurgrue, entered a please of not guilty. Nilan did not attend that hearing. A pre-trial hearing is slated for Wednesday, March 21, in Pittsfield court.

Toby Moore Dog Walk Hearing Takes on Huge Significance

A reckless driver apparently doesn’t need a permit to run down an innocent pedestrian in the city of Pittsfield and have the case nearly disappear, but God forbid that a group of like-minded citizens wants to walk their dogs in a humanitarian gesture that brings out the best in the good people of Pittsfield. They the riot act is read and the petitioner needs more signatures than did King John at Runnymede.

You’ll recall the first time when Ken Ramsdell wanted to organize a dog walk as the preamble to the Peter Moore Benefit at Chameleon‘s, he got word from the city the Friday afternoon before the appointed Sunday that he would need the dreaded permit, with the long list of signatories. The city said nothing about his plans of the need of paperwork for weeks, but then, at the last second, a “concerned citizen” (unnamed, of course) complained that 4,137 people were invited via Facebook, and the gathering might resemble the drunken fans of a soccer match in Europe.

This last-second need for a permit was, by plan, far too late for Ramsdell to get a permit from the city or notify either the press or aspiring participants of the change. The request for a permit traced back to the Parks Commission. By the oddest of coincidences, Clifford Nilan is a member of that commission. Half the fun of Tuesday’s Parks Commission meeting will be to see if Nilan has the nerve to attend or show his kisser. Of course, he must recuse himself from voting on the matter, for obvious reasons (Anyone want to be he doesn’t recuse himself)?

“I hope as many people as possible attend both the [Parks Commission] meeting and, more importantly, the event [Toby II] on April 15,” Ramsdell tell THE PLANET. “I am also looking for information from all sorts of sources to promote the importance of people’s lives as demonstrated by Toby Moore.” The Sonsini shelter, the Berkshire Humane Society, and Animal D.R.E.A.M.S. would be naturals to get involved.

Ramsdell Knows His Way Around

The Parks Commission picked on the wrong dude. Ken Ramsdell knows more about the working of government and of citizen participation in democracy that probably any person in the city of Pittsfield. You’ll recall it was Ramsdell whose brilliant sleuthing assembled the paper trail that rattled the city government back when Gerry Doyle had David Kiley as a treasurer and Ed Caveney as an insurance guy.

Ramsdell, as cool a customer as you’ll want to meet and as decent a human being, smartly decided to play it their way. He got the forms for Toby II. He spent a laborious day — normally, a work day, mind you, for those who work in the Dreaded Private Sector — getting his form full of autographs from various city department heads. He’s on the Parks Commission agenda.

The Parks Commission meeting will be recorded and cablecast by PCT. After a review of the Feb. 21 meeting minutes, agenda item two deals with three requests for park events. Toby II — officially known as Pittsfield Positive People and Proud Pets — is listed first as (a.) of (a., b., and c.).

All petitioners must be present at the meeting, the agenda sternly intones.

Don’t worry, Our Right honorable Good Friends, the Parks Commissioners, Ramsdell wouldn’t miss it for the world. Rumors are swirling that THE PLANET will also be in attendance. We want you as well. Spread the word. Everybody bring a friend of two. We want to pack Room 203 to overflow in a stand-up for human decency.






  1. Baby Baby
    March 19, 2012 at 9:58 am #

    “covering”,as in someone will tell me what went on and I’ll put my spin on their words, or “covering” as in attending the meeting?

    • danvalenti
      March 19, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

      Man, don’t you know? All coverage is spin.
      Best way to find out what goes on will be to attend to meeting. Second best, watch PCTV. Best way to learn what it all means is to follow THE PLANET.

      • Baby Baby
        March 20, 2012 at 4:56 am #

        LOL, you don’t have PCTV in that little podunct town you live in.

  2. Molly
    March 19, 2012 at 10:31 am #


    I haven’t seen an article in the Berkshire Eagle about the Community Development Board not allowing Dollar General to build a new store on upper North Street – and this happened about two weeks ago, so I guess we won’t see that at all. Which to me, raises red flags.

    Although if I lived in that neighborhood, I don’t think that I’d want a “Dollar General Store” next to me, in the end (after redesigns by the developer) there wasn’t much opposition from the neighborhood and all but two felt they could live with it. Now, it was my understanding that Pittsfield needed the jobs and hence, the retail store and accompanying strip mall is going into the WSBP? Yet this doesn’t even get a mention in the BB? WHY? And don’t forget who sits on the Community Development Board — none other than “Alfy”. So here’s some conjecture (but really just a question): Does this mean that the retail store slated to go into the WSBP is one of the other “Dollar Store Chains” and Dollar General would provide too much competition to it or perhaps force the developers to not bother with their WSBP plans?

    • Joetaxpayer
      March 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

      @Molly really don’t think that a 10,000 sq. ft. Dollar General will have any bearing on the WSP retail project.That is only a pimple on the entire project. I know you have a dislike for Alf, but think you are starting to see something that is not there.

      • Molly
        March 19, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

        Very possibly. But the thing that raised the red flag is why didn’t this “news” appear in the BB? This was a new business trying to come to Pittsfield and new jobs (debatable, I know – basically the same debate as the PEDA site) and it was turned down. I would think that all of the neighbors in the North Street area would sure want to know what happened, as well. Along with all citizens of Pittsfield. So what’s the big secret? Why would the GOB’s tell the BB to not do a story on it — errrr I meant why did the Berkshire Eagle choose to not report on it?

        • Joetaxpayer
          March 19, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

          I think the reason it was not reported is because the paper stinks.When it go’s before the Council and gets voted down, then it will go in the paper.

  3. Molly
    March 19, 2012 at 10:34 am #


    Lowell, MA City Council voted on March 13th to send a “home rule petition” to the MA Legislature seeking the power to tax private non-profits 25% of what they would owe if their property were taxed at the residential tax rate. Religious organizations, the Federal Government and State Government would remain tax exempt. They estimate that this could bring in an additional $500,000 annually. Their tax rate is much lower than ours already at $14.77 per thousand. According to the petition, the tax money will be used to cover essential municipal services nonprofits utilize, including police and fire departments.

    • Joe Pinhead
      March 19, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

      Across the nation this is becoming a huge issue. I know you enjoy doing your research and I enjoy your point of view for both there facts and your point of view.

      Interestingly enough Illinois has taken nonprofit status from 3 hospitals and is looking into at least 15 more. Illinois claims they were not charitable enough. Looking at the criteria and the demand for payments from the Commonwealth could the same argument be made for BHS? If so what impact would that have on the City of Pittsfield as well as the market BHS serves?
      It’s interesting on a million facets, have non profits over reached? Will property taxes take away from the ability to accomplish their mission? Will it take away from huge salaries? Or both?

      • danvalenti
        March 19, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

        Pittsfield city councilors need to visit this issue. We will soon hear all the moaning and groaning at budget time, and here, sitting there for the taking (and the hard work) is a multimillion infusion of cash into the budget. In our judgment, every non-profit getting tax breaks in Pittsfield need to be reviewed, beginning with BHS. Are the tax breaks justified? If not, then let them pay their fair share.

        • Shakes His Head
          March 20, 2012 at 5:20 am #

          The City can collect revenue under the current structure for many properties occupied by “tax exempt” organizations- just need the people there to do the leg work.

          • danvalenti
            March 20, 2012 at 7:37 am #

            And the political will, which is lacking in the Pitts.

      • Molly
        March 19, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

        It’s good to hear from you again, Joe!! We’ve missed you! And as usual, great questions, too! It IS interesting on a million facets and I find myself often torn on this issue. For instance, if we required ALL non-profits to pay commercial property tax rates, could what I call “true non-profits” (i.e., the Christian Center, food banks and soup kitchens) survive that? Doubtful. BMC does support a big need in providing medical care to those who can’t afford it. But even with doing that, they still make an incredible amount of money annually. And then there’s those businesses, like Barrington Stage and The Colonial – they are not, in my book, charitable organizations in that they don’t provide any real charity to anyone in need – yet they are both tax exempt organizations under the category of “education”. For Barrington Stage, that means a handful of kids attending a course that lasts a few weeks and that meets once a week. And for that, they get a total tax-exempt status. That is just wrong! They are businesses that charge a LOT of money for tickets to see a play and if they can’t make it, then they can’t make it – just like every other business. Although I would hate to see them shut down, I also hated seeing England Brothers shut down, too. They ARE a business, and need to be able to make it on their own – no tax exempt status allowed. And when they are forced to be a real business, the huge salaries will come down, too, and no longer be on the backs of the taxpayers.

        My vote would be to take a middle of the road approach, i.e., only tax those charitable organizations if they make over a certain amount of money per year and don’t allow them to legally hide the money (thereby leaving the charities like the Christian Center alone) and perhaps tax them at a lower rate. And change the laws so that, for instance, a theater business can’t claim tax exempt status on Education! As for BMC, with Obamacare coming soon, their providing free services shouldn’t be needed soon, no? They do make an incredible amount of money per year and should be able to at least afford to pay for the services that they use from the Fire Dept, the Police Dept, water, sewer, etc., without the possibility of their not being able to “make it”. This would also allow for the Colleges and Universities like Brown – (good articles! Thanks!) and Williams who have huge amounts of money hidden away – to the tune of many billions or more – to also at least pay for the services that they use.

        What do you think would happen in Pittsfield? Would our property tax rates actually go down? 😉 Never, ever, ever!

        Good luck with the Parks Commission tomorrow. If I can get there, I will. And thank you for doing this! I’m a really big animal lover and what Toby did was incredible!

        • DC
          March 20, 2012 at 6:04 am #

          The city should remove tax exempt status from any building that is not being used for its intended purpose. Vacant churches, rectories, and schools owned by the church enjoy tax free status while becoming eyesores. If these properties were taxed, there would be greater incentive for them to be sold and developed. Instead, they sit empty and decaying.

          • danvalenti
            March 20, 2012 at 7:34 am #

            We are in agreement. Thanks for your input. Tax exemption on vacant property would provide incentives for wiser property management on the part of the diocese.

    • danvalenti
      March 19, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

      This would be an excellent course for Pittsfield to follow to bring in millions into the treasury without raises a cent in taxes on those who are already overburdened on the commercial and residential side.

      • dusty
        March 20, 2012 at 12:42 am #

        Well off the top of my head I can think of four council votes this plan will not get. Many of these outfits have non profit status because of their connections and there might not be anybody who checks or oversees this. Would it be political suicide to go there?

        The taxpayers do deserve some help but who has a pair big enough to test these waters

  4. Payroll Patriot
    March 19, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

    How come Obama’s gas prices here are so high? Duval is his good friend. Glad he is not his enemy.

    After flying north with the geese, I have a chance to talk to a few other birds.

    Dan, what were you doing to get a lead-in picture like that?

    The city council discussing character: They are all a bunch of characters; some of them even qualify for cartoon characters.

    The Pittsfield pubic schools are advertising ” Once Upon A Mattress” at Taconic. Was it more than ONCE? How is Chairman Mao and the “Screening Committee” going to ask that one?

    Hit and run. I thought that only applied to baseball. The dog walk should be at the court house.

    More to follow. Again, thanks for the big party.

    • Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
      March 20, 2012 at 5:15 am #

      Domestic Oil drilling is at an all time high…Its the Wall Street speculators that are driving gas prices my Patriotic friend not the president

      • Molly
        March 20, 2012 at 7:58 am #

        Not exactly true. Domestic oil drilling on Non-Federal Gov’t owned land is at an all time high. Drilling on Gov’t owned land is at an all time low and almost non-existent. So much for Obama’s “facts” – he didn’t tell the whole story.

      • Joetaxpayer
        March 20, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

        HB2W4 You must be drinking the kool-aide.Build the pipeline Obama! You must believe the unemployment #’s too.

    • Shakes His Head
      March 20, 2012 at 5:22 am #

      Massachusetts gas taxes are much lower than many states down south, hence the really crappy roads here.

      • danvalenti
        March 20, 2012 at 7:36 am #

        Yeah, except that assumes the extra money that would come from an increase in gas tax would go for the purpose of mending roads, rather than being wasted on some pork project (for that’s what govt. does with “found” money; it uses the dough to perpetuate the bureaucracy so that it can keep all the incompetents, criminals, and otherwise unemployable in the Dreaded Private Sector sitting phat).

        • levitan
          March 20, 2012 at 8:49 am #

          Mending roads is the biggest inconvenience. It adds time and unpredictability for commuters for at least 2 seasons, and in a year you can’t tell the difference.

          Best solution to high gas prices is to drive less.

          • Molly
            March 20, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

            Which is EXACTLY why the gas prices are so high! That is EXACTLY Obama’s policy! High gas prices and high electric prices (cap and trade) and people will use less and he’ll still give billions of dollars of our money to the likes of Solyndra to create alternative energy when the technology just isn’t there yet and we’ll throw trillions down the toilet. It amazes me, though, how many tax breaks he gives for the electric/battery cars – hello! – what fuels are used to create the electricity? How is that really helping?! Wait until (IF) he gets re-elected – our electric bills will be out of sight as well as the gas prices. But can’t wait to hear these owners of the Chevy Volt complain what it costs to recharge their cars!!!

  5. danvalenti
    March 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    Been flying in the high altitude again, we see. The lead-in picture is our still for our dates as a standup comic. Like many here, we don’t use our own name for gigs.

    As for the party, no problem, as long as no one is whizzing out the windows.

  6. spectator
    March 19, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    So the fact that the pre-trial hearing was scheduled means that the motion to dismiss was refused, right?

    • dusty
      March 19, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

      Well don’t ask the DA…he ain’t talkin to nobody in the press

      • J.R. Fein
        March 19, 2012 at 6:31 pm #

        Nobody’s talking about nothing to nobody. I’ve never seen the courts so uptight. Morale is at a new all time low and that’s saying something.

      • SaraD
        March 20, 2012 at 4:29 am #

        Commenting to the press would certainly get the case thrown out since another prosecutor is trying the case!

        • danvalenti
          March 20, 2012 at 7:40 am #

          Au contraire, Sara. It is the duty of court officers to routinely convey information to the press on procedural matters. The vast majority of it falls under “public records,” but the Pittsfield courts are a kingdom all unto their own. There are good people in the court system there, but they are terrorized by the corrupt monsters who have hijacked Lady Justice, taken off her blindfold, and abused her.

          • levitan
            March 20, 2012 at 8:51 am #

            “have hijacked Lady Justice, taken off her blindfold, and abused her”

            Thanks for the vivid metaphor, Dan.

          • danvalenti
            March 20, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

            Much appreciated, LEV.

          • SaraD
            March 20, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

            Dust said “don’t ask the DA, he ain’t talking” and he should not. That is what I was referring to.

    • Molly
      March 19, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

      DV – do you KNOW that she’s still on the court’s schedule for tomorrow? I know that the “pre-trial conference” was scheduled for Wednesday, but how do we know that it is still on the court’s schedule? You stated that you’re still trying to find the correct time…

      And yes – it’s amazing to me that they’ve even silenced Conor Berry. We have heard nothing on a topic of missing court documents in a very high-profile case! “Something” is up… I guess we’ll either know more, or be able to assume more, on Wednesday.

  7. four in one
    March 19, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    Yeah good question, spec. My guess is yes but ain’t it interesting that no news, nothing nada has come out from the court about anything. More fishiness. We wish Ken Ramsdell well at the parks commishiion. We will be attended Toby 2 on April 15. No way the dolts on the pks commish. will be that transparent as to refuse to request … right?

  8. ambrose
    March 19, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

    I’m kind of puzzled by the Planet’s analogy. I wrote a paper in 1965 on the signers of the Magna Carta and remember finding a little info on a few of them. They were all barons as I recall.However, I thought it was they who were seeking the signature of John Lackland and not he seeking signatures. I could be wrong, it was a long time ago. I do remember getting an A on the paper though. Runnymede was a field, not to far from London, something like Kirvin Park. John was very pissed when he was forced to sign the Carta that gave a few rights to the very rich. Thankfully we know that Ken Ramsdell’s petition to give a few peasants the right to walk their dogs next month will be cheerfully signed by all responsible commisioners.

    • danvalenti
      March 19, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

      Yeah, the nobles stuck the document in King John’s mug and said, look buddy: You sign this, or there’s trouble. The Magna Carta proclaimed that certain human liberties are non-negotiable and that the Kingbaby was not the arbiter of All via Divine Right of Kings. They were looking for his John Hancock.

  9. Debbie
    March 19, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

    Interesting! first the Sheriff, then Stracuzzi now the daughter- what tricks this little man has hidden up his sleeve. KARMA I have to say its coming Cliffy’s way! Its just one more lie after another. What do they have in common? Well, I think we all know that answer. Look at this message that Cliff and Tim Shugrue have sent to the public. Hit a man leave him to die and blame it on a deer or a dog! and your first call is to one of the best Lawyer’s in Pittsfield. REALLY What a Joke the system is. These people are making a Joke of the criminal system and the Judges are allowing this to happen. Shame on all of them! Thank god the truth is coming out. Who is putting these little men above the law. Cliff can’t hind anymore because the people of Pittsfield are coming after him one way or another.

  10. Ray Ovac
    March 20, 2012 at 1:28 am #

    DV, it’s doubtful Cliff Nilan will be showing up for the Tuesday Park Commission meeting, most likely because this is a guy who does not want to be photographed close-up.

    • danvalenti
      March 20, 2012 at 7:43 am #

      Agree. There will be no Clifford sighting tonight.