PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary 

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, April 9, 2012) — Not long ago, we told you about the machinations the city of Pittsfield put Ken Ramsdell through when it came to getting a permit to … to what, square the circle? to build a time machine on Park Square? to test a hydrogen bomb? No, to … walk his dog in Kirvin Park, a designated dog-walk park.

The story took on one of those “Only in Pittsfield” dimensions as Ramsdell had to traipse from office to office and building to building, getting signatures from department heads and an assortment of vital offices whose foundations would be shaken if city residents were to walk their dogs in a city park without the proper papers. Ramsdell took one for Team Pittsfield so he could experience the ridiculous process and then write about it, which he did, exclusively, for THE PLANET.

‘Vee Haf Our Vays’

On Sunday, April 15, at Kirvin Park, the Toby II dog walk will take place. This will be a mini-Woofstock for dogs and dog lovers, with plenty of fun and exercise, plus information booths on various items and services of interest. Toby II, which honors heroic little Toby Moore, is the rescheduled version, prevented by the city the first time around because Ramsdell didn’t have a permit. One can see Deanna Rufer checking the dog walkers next Sunday, enunciating in a perfect German accent: “Your papers, please.” Otherwise, it’s “Vee haf our vays.”

Along these lines, each year a number of conscientious Pittsfield citizens has been gathering in Springside Park for the annual cleanup there. The city has little if anything to do with this cleanup. In fact, for the city’s part, it has ignored its most beautiful park for years, causing it to lapse into a jungle of overgrowth, trash, and neglect. And to think of the pool, the manicured baseball diamonds, the beautiful forest paths.

The little band of volunteers has, for several years, taken to task and taken it upon themselves to do what they can in helping the neglected park regain its beauty.

Not this year, though. This year, the city demands that the Friends of Springside Park get “za proper pay-pahs.”

That’s beautiful, isn’t it? Here we have a bunch of civic-minded people who are willing to volunteer their time, efforts, and materials for the cleanup, and the city is getting all Heinrich Himmler on them.

The de facto leader of the park pack is former parks commissioner Gene Nadeau, a good man to have with you in any battle foxhole. Prior to two years ago, the group did its clean up and the city left them alone, receiving in return a park in much better shape. Two years ago, according to Nadeau, Royal Hartigan, a longtime member of Friends, received forms from Jim McGrath of the Parks Department upon order of Ms. Rufer. Hartigan, who handles publicity for the event, asked Nadeau for assistance in filling out the form. Nadeau, being the stout fellow that he is, obliged, going through the Ramsdellian Gauntlet.

Last Year: ‘Another Story’

“Last year is another story,” Nadeau tell THE PLANET. “The Readers’ Digest version of it is that another individual went through the long process [of filling out the form] but didn’t submit the paperwork in time to get on the Parks Commission agenda prior to the date, for approval. [Readers will recall from Ramsdell’s ordeal with Toby II, the commissioners need 45 days advance notice — this in the age of texting]. I became involved again.”

Nadeau continued: “I contacted Becky Tefft, who suggested that we reschedule the cleanup. I asked if people needed a permit to pick up litter left on the city’s tree line. When told they didn’t, I informed Becky that we would hold the cleanup as planned, but as individuals. I also called [city council president] Gerry Lee, who seemed unaware of the process. He eventually called me back. He said he had spoken to the Parks Commissioner chairman, “Cliffy” Nilan, who gave his approval to hold the event as scheduled.

That’s the same Nilan whose daughter is plays the lead in the Nilan-Moore Case, the same one who performed a peck full of favors for Angelo Stracuzzi after the latter’s escapades in Biddeford, Maine. Funny about those six degrees of removal, eh? And were you shocked, shocked, that Uncle Gerry Lee was “unaware of the process?”

What will happen this year? More forms? More hassles? THE PLANET shall do our best to keep you posted. By the way: anyone know the date for this year’s planned cleanup, or even if it’s happening? If so, can you pass it along?

With the discouragement the city inserts into the process of civic-minded events such as Toby II and the Springside Park cleanup, is it any wonder why businesses have nightmares about having to deal with the city for anything. That’s assuming all is on the level, of course, and that the business in question doesn’t have friends in High, Exalted Places. In that case, rules are bent, laws are broken, and Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski end up paying for it in the end.



— THE PLANET is a limousine liberal.

— THE PLANET is a Conde Naste conservative.

— Certs is a candy mint.

— Certs is a breath mint.

— Wouldn’t it be great if the Red Sox and Yankees go winless this year and have to play off for last place?

— What do Newburyport, Mass., Burlington, Vt., and Syracuse, N.Y. have in common, besides bustling, thriving downtowns? Answer: Their center cities are all littler free. What prompted this is a land-mine walk through downtown Pittsfield, where one is appalled at the trash, litter, garbage, and filth. That’s what happens when you lead the league in Sec. 8, welfare queens, English-as-non-functioning second-lauange, and other transient populations who are here only because the city has no residency requirements before one can get on the dole and begin receiving for food, housing, etc., etc., etc.

— With all the talk about change and transparency, hard choices and bold action during the campaign, are you wondering what Mayor Dan Bianchi‘s first budget will look like? Will it begin to address the looming fiscal troubles of the city or will it be same -old-same ole? If the city doesn’t begin now to get tough with its budget, we can safely predict — without benefit of a Mayan calendar — doom for Benigno Numine.

— Bianchi will be asking my Right Honorable Good Friends on the city council tomorrow night for an additional $1.5 million in borrowing for the McKay Street Parking Garage repairs. The project was initially expected to cost $6.6 million, of which the city’s share was to be $3.5 million. If we understand the proposal correctly, the administration is asking for another $1.5 million. Why? What’s the new money going to do? And what is the plan for oversight on the project to prevent any additional last-second surprises? Who is the contractor for this project? Has there been proper oversight? The $1.5 million in new borrowing in the name of taxpayers represents a 43% increase in taxpayers’ share of the project. What company in the private sector could stay in business with last-minute price increases like this?

— Speaking of cost bumps, it’s not bad enough that taxpayers had to pay for the demolition of the privately-owned Pennell Building (the former Grossman’s on East Street), but — hang on to your wallets — the project jumped the track on finances. The $239,000 demo job has had unexplained cost-overruns attached to it. THE PLANET disagrees with councilor John Krol and Bianchi. Krol writes in his constituent newsletter that “we have to meet our financial obligations, and a vote against this additional funding would be irresponsible.” We think the overrun should be rejected until the reasons are full understood. Why is the additional money needed? What kind of project supervision has been in place for to “require” this type of hit to the taxpayers? Also, has the city exhausted its legal options against the owner. This is a privately owned building. The owner has other assets that could be attached. Granted, it’s not that simple, but you mean to say that while the city can give dog walks and volunteer park cleaners what Wally and the Beaver used to call “the business,” they can’t do a thing against a deadbeat building owner? THE PLANEt refuses to accept that.

— We do commended our Right Honorable Good Friend Krol for publishing the most informative constituent newsletter of any councilor. Krol routinely includes the council agenda plus a highlight discussion of key issues.

— Hope you all had a great Easter celebration. We did, with family, friends, and loved ones. The food was five-star, courtesy of MRS. PLANET, the wine and beer were flowing, and the guests were in delight.


Now that our boy, Mr. Mitt, has Gingrich conceding (but competing) and Santorum bowing out (sooner rather than later), he can plan his assault in November.

Here’s what Mr. Mitt has to do:

* Raise as much money as possible in the least amount of time as possible.

* Not a day can go by without raising money. President Obama will have about a billion dollars to play with. Romney will need every nickel he can raise. As of today, Mr. Mitt has about $300 million.

* He must narrow the gap with Obama not just in fundraising but in organization.

* Begin to think about a VP selection. This will be a much more critical choice for Mr. Mitt than for Obama. The VP nod will be key in Team Romeny’s strategy to win the 270 electoral votes needed to become the next President.

* Mend the fissures in GOP ranks among Tea Party zealots on the far right, party loyalists in the middle, and moderate Republicans on the left.

* Get into “Presidential” mode. If we were advising Team Romney, we would say: Act more like a candidate for general election. In short, “Get out of primary mode.”

* “Energize the base” — one of the great campaign cliches, but the key to any election. It comes down to votes. The winner will get more of them (electorally, anyhow).

* There IS a path to 270 electoral votes for Romney. He CAN win.

* Triple any fees THE PLANET is receiving when campaign switches into Presidential gear.









  1. Shakes His Head
    April 9, 2012 at 9:10 am #

    I saw the last line of today’s article. Also, it would be fantastic if the Red Sox went winless. But they won’t. They will, however, finish fourth in the AL east.

    • danvalenti
      April 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

      Fourth place sounds generous to me. Go Bruins.

      • Joetaxpayer
        April 10, 2012 at 2:54 am #

        Sorrry guys,Sox will make play-offs,not sure how deep they go from there.But,as they say you have to be in it to win it.

  2. dusty
    April 9, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

    Where can one see Krols newsletter? Is this thing taxpayer funded? Even partly?

    Did Bianchi agree that the city needs a thorough audit for the last 8 years? And is it going to happen?

    • Steve wade
      April 9, 2012 at 4:50 pm #


      • dusty
        April 9, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

        Thanks for the inside info Stevie. I am going to pursue this item and take it all the way to the top, or bottom as they case may be. If it turns out that there is some kind of tattlers bonus I am going to share it 50/50 with ya. That way, you can have a life too.

  3. tito
    April 9, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    Krol is one of the finest young men I have ever met. And one heck of a city councilor, as his unopposed win onto the council would suggest!

    • Jim Gleason
      April 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

      krol is an ass kissing ruberto sycophant who has never gotten anything on his own. He ran unopposed because of the apathy in place in Pittsfield at present.There was almost no candidate in Ward 2 and if Kevin Morandi didn’t step up at the last moment there would have been no official candidate on the ballot.krol will not be unopposed next time.Joe Nichols is now a resident of Ward 6 and is chomping at the bit, I hear, for the next election. See ya krol.

      • Steve wade
        April 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm #


        • Jim Gleason
          April 9, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

          No but I’d bet you’re smoking something the that resembles a sausage.

      • dusty
        April 9, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

        Ruberto sacred a lot of people away from politics in Pittsfield. They did not want to go down with the ship if the lot of them got busted for fraudulent activities. Right Steve?

      • The Embalmer
        April 9, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

        oh good we finally got Joe Nichols out of out neighborhood!!!!!

        • Jim Gleason
          April 10, 2012 at 10:44 am #

          Joe Nichols would be a credit and an asset to any neighborhood.Too bad you don’t have the guts to criticize using your own name.

          • Molly
            April 10, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

            I agree! Joe Nichols would be a credit and an asset to any neighborhood and I more than welcome him to mine!!!!

  4. Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
    April 9, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

    and he’s got great hair

  5. tito
    April 9, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    I believe it is a wig.

    • danvalenti
      April 9, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

      Agreed. If the city decides to do a public employye “beefcake” calendar,” My Right Honorable Good Friend John Krol has to be on the cover.

      • Jim Gleason
        April 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

        He’s a runner, runners aren’t “beefcakes”, they’re pretzels.

        • Steve wade
          April 9, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

          Jimbo are you a runner?

          • Jim Gleason
            April 9, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

            No, I’m a hitter.

      • holy cow
        April 9, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

        do not disparage the “beefcake” name unless he can
        go 10 seconds with the punisher….. It was him right?

        • danvalenti
          April 9, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

          NOBODY goes 10 second with The Punisher. Nobody. The Punisher = Heeda Man!

          • Jim Gleason
            April 11, 2012 at 6:57 am #

            Except Jose Canseco, who pummeled the pumpkiner into incoherence.

      • Dawn
        April 9, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

        John is more of a dreamboat, Dan.

  6. Scott
    April 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

    Why would the city allow private citizens to do the work they can do half ass’d and bill for?

    • Jim Gleason
      April 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

      Yeah, Tony Stracuzzi would get a weeks worth of OT off of that.

      • Steve wade
        April 9, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

        IMHO did you suck off the teat when you where a janitor? How much. OT did you grab when you could get it?

        • Jim Gleason
          April 9, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

          I didn’t make in 15 years the OT Stracuzzi made in 1 under ruberto. ruberto had to pay back his best friend Angeblow and give his incompetent brother a cushy job

          • Banacek
            April 9, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

            I’m hearing that Tony could be retiring in a couple of months. I also heard this a couple of years ago, and couldn’t understand then, why he would (officially) retire, while Ruberto was in office? He has a city truck at his disposal 24/7, that he used to go to OTB and Foxwoods with until caught several years ago. Offense’s he could, and should have, been fired for. Instead, he was suspended for 2 weeks without pay.

            It was sickening to hear “kiss up” Bill Sturgeon heap praise on him a few weeks ago for the great job he does. B.S. apparently believes T.S. does work above and beyond his job description. What happened to doing “a days work for a days pay?” If he’s as great a city employee as Sturgeon believes….why, for at least 3 weeks last spring, was there a discarded upholstered chair on the bridge on outer East St. A chair that Tony had to drive by at least twice a day in a city truck.

  7. tito
    April 9, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    Have to disagree with the Planet on this one, it is very clear JLo would have to be considered as top beefcake’..

  8. tito
    April 9, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    …just on bullshit and bulk alone.

    • dusty
      April 9, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

      Lothrop is the beefcake with the pink slime in it

      • Molly
        April 9, 2012 at 7:51 pm #


  9. Joe Durwin
    April 9, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    Hi Dan- Excellent timing, thanks for bringing this up. I was just on WBRK with Councilor Yon today to plug the Springside cleanup (along with real possibilities for funding the park and restoring the house) which will be Saturday April 21 9:30- 5pm (rain date Sunday 22) – more info is available on our Springside Park facebook page
    I recently enjoyed your article on the house from a couple of years ago (the Hill House comparisons were dead on) – I hope we can count on your support promoting the clean up, hoping for a big turnout this year.

    • danvalenti
      April 9, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

      Yes, the timing was serendipitous, given you stint with Donna. Thank you for sharing this information here, plus the hot link. You and the Friends of Springside can count on THE PLANET 100% to push the cleanup. Good show, my good friend.

      • Gene Nadeau
        April 9, 2012 at 8:07 pm #


        Thanks for any coverage you will be giving the cleanup of Springside Park.

        I’ll be a participant as I have since joining the Friends in this endeavor 8 years ago.

        Looking forward to seeing many new faces involved in the effort this year.

        • danvalenti
          April 10, 2012 at 7:25 am #

          I am glad to provide publicity for this wonderful civic event. THE PLANET salutes you for your years of service and stewardship to the city we both love.

  10. Gene
    April 9, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    I am sorry that the Springside cleanup has to be put through the permitting ringer. I have to believe the permit process discourages so many people from getting involved. You can’t measure the impact of good works that were never done or business that never located in the city because of the permitting nightmare. I wish the Springside cleanup crew all the best.

    • dusty
      April 9, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

      Maybe the Springside house can get funding from the Ruffer crowd, have it fixed up with public funding and then put it up for sale to, maybe, some rich slumlord to turn into apartments.

      • danvalenti
        April 9, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

        Interesting suggestion. They could also sell it to a private owner, who could let it rot in place, and then the taxpayers could pay $100,000 to demolish it — like the Pennell Building.

    April 9, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    How about the Mayor getting on cleanup squad and have him get the permit!!! That way he can see first hand how its bull—-t

    • Molly
      April 9, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

      Excellent suggestion! We should all call the Mayor’s office tomorrow and request that HE be the one to get the permits for the Springside Park clean-up.

      • dusty
        April 10, 2012 at 2:05 am #

        Cliffy could spear head this one. He is a big parks guy is he not? He could lead by example and perhaps restore some dignity to the Nilan name.

        I would imagine he would be the poster child for cutting through red tape of permits.

        • danvalenti
          April 10, 2012 at 7:23 am #

          Actually, that’s an excellent idea. It would be a good first step for Cliff.

        • Molly
          April 10, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

          I agree! Excellent idea! Let’s see if he acts on it…

  12. The Embalmer
    April 9, 2012 at 7:49 pm #

    the mayor is busy with bowler to figure out how to cut the robberies in town. He campaigned on the fact he was going to stop these crimes and since he;s been in office he hasnt done a damn thing….arent you all happy u voted for bianchi???

    • Molly
      April 9, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

      I keep waiting – trying to give Bianchi time to get something – anything! done but so far, he has done nothing, at all! Nada! He’s allowing the School Committee to be the sleaziest in the city and somehow escaping from the fact that he’s the mayor and ON the school committee; he’s done nothing about the crime in this city, nor the drugs with the gangs and violence surrounding them. What’s going on with PEDA? Haven’t heard anything about that in a while — it’s called jobs, Mr. Mayor! And we need them. He needs to revamp the Police Dept leadership and get some good, proven strategies at work there, along with funding. BUT we ARE spending millions and millions MORE on a parking garage that was likely built by the same people that built Taconic High School. He also needs to have a complete, independent audit done but have heard nothing about that, either. And get rid of the leftovers – Deanna Ruffer should’ve already been gone! Same with Collingwood. Going after the “low-lying fruit” in things like these permits to walk you dog or to clean a park (unnn flipping believable on that one!) would go a very long way with us. So far, he’s a HUGE disappointment! The honeymoon period is over, Mr. Mayor – it’s past time to actually DO something.

      • Monitor
        April 10, 2012 at 5:08 am #

        AH ! , but always remember that John Barrett is forever. Seems his own fifedom, Berkshireworks lost five jobs to Springfield. Way to promote local job creation, John.

      • levitan
        April 10, 2012 at 6:25 am #


        Is there anything else Bianchi should have accomplished, aside from revitalizing the economy to 1950’s status and eliminating crime, drug addiction, and sweeping clean the entire PEDA board?

        Afterall, 3 months has passed since he took office and time is running out.

        • danvalenti
          April 10, 2012 at 7:22 am #

          This one scores points on tone alone. Nicely done. Subtlety, though not appreciated by all, is artful when done well.

      • Jim Gleason
        April 10, 2012 at 7:18 am #

        @Molly- You seem to write a lot and say nothing. It took all the years of Doyle and ruberto to get this city into the shape it’s in and you want Dan Bianchi to right all the wrongs of those two dolts in 3 months? Wake up!!

        • Molly
          April 10, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

          No – not at all! But he has done NOTHING yet. Name one thing he has done or one thing that he even has a plan for. I never said he should’ve done ALL of these things by now – you’re reading it wrong. But I’d like to see him pick one of these things and start tackling it! Then pick the next one and tackle that one. Even if he took the low-lying fruit, as I said, and started streamlining these stupid things like the park permits, would go a very long way. I’ve seen nothing so far and it’s time that we start seeing something.

          So sorry, Jim, that i don’t seem to say things like you obviously do!

    • Gene
      April 10, 2012 at 7:15 am #

      It seems in fact that the robberies have continued and actually increased in frequency. Not good.

    April 9, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    Embalme That statement makes no sense at all to me, none whats so ever ??????????????

  14. Joetaxpayer
    April 10, 2012 at 3:10 am #

    Would like to see Sheriff Bowler maintain Springside park with his inmates.They already perform various tasks through out the County.Once a year is not enough to keep up with all the grubs who litter and trash the park year round.Molly it is not who built the garage it is who designed it.

  15. tito
    April 10, 2012 at 3:24 am #

    Molly,where do you walk you dog?

    • levitan
      April 10, 2012 at 6:22 am #


      I believe she walks her dog where paragraphs dare not venture and the air is very thin,

    • Molly
      April 10, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

      None of your business where I walk my dog, but perhaps I’ll start with your front yard (the 3 foot city-owned strip portion) to allow her to do her business there. Seems appropriate to me!

      • levitan
        April 11, 2012 at 6:06 am #

        “Seems appropriate to me!”

        It would.

  16. tito
    April 10, 2012 at 3:40 am #

    @The Embalmer…that is a comatose statement.

  17. Joe Durwin
    April 10, 2012 at 6:48 am #

    The idea that’s advancing for the house now (tune into Good Morning Pittsfield next Wednesday for more details) might actually be an all around win for Pittsfield, hard as that is to believe or remember. Historic preservation tied together with a real chance to get new state and federal funding for expanded higher education in a repurposing that is totally in keeping with the intent of the people who bequeathed it to the city- not only at a minimum cost to the city (compared to literally everything else it’s done in recent years) but an opportunity for actually having it be a real city revenue generator if we could just keep them from mucking it up.
    I’m only optimistic because for the first time all of the various groups and initiatives and city departments (there’s like 7 or 8 total) that oversee, caretake and have interests in Springside Park are finally all on board and relatively motivated with a shared idea and ready to put it out to the public in a big way in the hopes they’ll get behind it because if it DOES happen, it’s going to take tremendous support, time, talent, elbow grease, hounding elected officials to keep it a priority, broad cooperation.
    I’ve gotten a bit of chance to examine the components of this plan, and I really think it could be a real win for Pittsfield if it wants it badly enough.

  18. Sandy
    April 10, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    Molly, if the Mayor Bianchi is moving too slow in getting things done, perhaps you should call his office and sign up for anyone of his committees that he has openings on, that do not need the council approval to serve on. He was talking about them on Bill S show last week. Just call his office and speak to Sue and I know she will be gladly sign up you for a committe that would interest you and help the city move faster.
    I would say yes, there have been 4 robberies on Elm Street but all 4 of them were solved very quickly, thanks to the great Police Detective Dept. we have in our city that I seldom ever hear anyone praise for the work they do.
    Rome was not built in a day, and Mayor Bianchi is not going to be able to fix Pittsfield in a day after what the prior administrations did to our city.

    • levitan
      April 10, 2012 at 9:22 am #

      Good call Sandy. I will be making such a call too. Thanks for the tip.

    • Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
      April 10, 2012 at 10:57 am #

      Does that sound like a good idea Molly?

    • Molly
      April 10, 2012 at 9:33 pm #

      Yes, Sandy, I agree that this is a great idea and MANY MORE people from Pittsfield should get involved with their city. One question – why would you assume that I’m NOT already doing that? I found this to be very belittling in intent…

      As I said in reply to a previous post, I do not expect that Bianchi is going to, in 3 months, undo what has been going on for years or to be able to totally fix any of the numerous problems. I do think, however, that it is time that we at least start hearing of some plans to tackle at least one of these major problems in this city. Name one thing that he has done or even talked about doing since he was sworn in? I can’t name one and would welcome hearing about it if he has.

      So as DV goes on and on ad nauseum over the park permits, why doesn’t the mayor respond with doing something to streamline this? It would be a big win for him and it would be very easy for him to do as well. That’s “your boy” in there as mayor, Dan — is he doing anything to fix the problem? Maybe he is and I just haven’t heard about it yet?

      • levitan
        April 11, 2012 at 5:58 am #


        If you thought a little before you wrote, you wouldn’t need to practice the art of talking out of both sides of your mouth.

        The mayor has accomplished a great deal in three scant months, and I would expect him to go on doing so in spite of the wolf howling at the window.

        Need an example? PEDA board mitigation.

      • danvalenti
        April 11, 2012 at 7:29 am #

        I don’t have any “boys” or “girls” in there as mayor. I handle politics as I do nitroglycerin, with care, but dispassionately. Or are you believing the sour-grapes sentiments that have followed many elections, blaming Little Ole PLANET for their loss. I don’t take sides. There’s only tops and bottoms.