PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, MAY 22, 2012) — Men  will keep on laughing and children will love their shouts, and there will be joy in Pittsfield even after the first 3rd Thursday strikes out.

Admittedly, THE PLANET would not rank this heroic couplet in the manner of “Casey at the Bat” among our best verse, although we do see the utilitarian merit. In prose, we were even more direct, that the city’s hasty action to reinstate Third Thursday after Mayor Dan Bianchi had canceled the event over “public safety concerns” had put the Sports illustrated Cover Jinx on the event. Over the wounds did we then prophesy. More than 100 out-of-control teens fulfilled our prophecy. We are Daniel in the Lion’s Den.

 One for Brawl and Brawl for One: Four Third Thursday Considerations

First, we shall note the outstanding work of the Pittsfield Police Department in defusing a slice-and-dice situation. Only their quick work and cool heads prevented the situation from getting ugly and — to coin a word — “mayhemic.” As you will read, though, they had a leg up on events, it appears. Second, we will point out that overall attendance dipped well below 2,000:  too much for a flop but not enough for even a mild success. Third, we will not press on with the “We told you so” bit. Suffice it to say we called the trouble  before it happened. Fourth, we present the most important remaining question: Was the brawl that broke out shortly before 8 p.m. a Third Thursday event or not? Read on, our dear friends.

In arriving at an answer, we corresponded with a source from the PPD. The detective gave us information not presented to the Boring Broadsheet. We also heard from several people who were present that night as well as one of the brawlers. In addition, we spoke to several North Street merchants. All spoke with the promise of anonymity. Incidentally, THE PLANET wasn’t the only media type who couldn’t get “real deal” comments with names attached. Ask Brandon Walker of YNN.

‘Fat Man’ Provides a Vital Clue

We also had a clue of confirmation from our good friend, ex-talkmeister Bill “The Fat Man” Sturgeon, who will be turning up on the local airwaves again, soon, according to the intelligence being received by the Secret Squadron (We can say no more). It’s interesting how one can pick up a fact here, a tidbit there, and put them together to see the picture.

Sturgeon, among others, noted on Facebook the brawl was gang-related. Think about it: Gangs are, by definition and action, organized groups. Many if not most time, when gangs act, they do so as part of of planning. This clue, along with the information we turned up, would lead a reasonable person to conclude:

(a) The brawl was planned.

(b) Third Thursday provided the venue.

(c) Therefore, the melee and Third Thursday are connected. You can say, and make the case, that Third Thursday enabled the brawl. So, Was the brawl that broke out shortly before 8 p.m. a Third Thursday event or not?

The answer to the question, please.


Detective Sherlock: Police had an Inkling Trouble was Brewing. Is THAT Why Bianci Initially Canceled the Event?

Detective Sherlock made it clear that the youths would not have been there, at that time, in so confined a space, without the attraction of Third Thursday. Sherlock also noted the escalating nature of teen desensitization to violence (a whole other societal problem facing Pittsfield that we can’t begin to address here), which makes it “more likely than not” that this type of behavior will occur again at a future Third Thursday.

More interestingly, and this we did not know, but the detective said the PPD and city hall have met about this problem, specifically with respect to the first Third Thursday of the year!

Detective Sherlock did not mean to say that there had been a specific threat, but there is reason to believe  there was enough concern to warrant an unusual state of preparedness on the part of the PPD on Thursday night, May 17. That likely explains how the PPD responded so quickly and ably. Forewarned is forearmed.

One eyewitness to both the brawl (at Melville and First streets) and the Third Thursday events that preceded it, told THE PLANET she noticed that police pretty much stayed off of North Street itself in the heart of TT, with only a handful at the mouth of the Park Square and Columbus Avenue book ends. That looks like tactical defense and a sharp deployment. A person in her store, who gave the name Linda H, used such phrases as “ghetto scum,” and “teen white trash” to describe the brawl participants.

PPD: Win-Win, and, Bianchi Knew More than He Let On

The PPD created a win-win situation: If there was no trouble, our detective source said, the police didn’t tie up  manpower. If there WAS trouble, with advanced alertness, troops could be mustered quickly.

Did Mayor Bianchi knew more than he let on about the reason for his actions to cancel the event? That is a reasonable interpretation of what followed on May 17. In hindsight, if this information is correct, all the more reason to reiterate what THE PLANET argued at the time: The mayor should have stuck to his original position and not reinstated the venue.

The excuse Bianchi gave for his cancellation, a vague concern for public safety based on street construction, didn’t ring up on the register. Seems more likely that he had reason to believe there would be trouble for other reasons, from other quarters. The gangs go hand in had with Pittsfield drug traffic, Det. Sherlock said, and there is “no reason to believe what you had [on May 17 TT] was a fluke.” The city would do well to rethink having the TT event, knowing of the real risk of violence and mayhem. Bianchi wouldn’t comment, referring media inquiry to the PPD.

According to Brandon Walker of YNN, the six arrested were Kamaar Tagliaferro, 18; Shatei Logan, 18; Joseph Wiggins, 19; Christopher Carr, 17; and two 15 year olds, one male and one female.

Teen Mob Took Part in Third Thursday, Sources Agree

Our sources agreed upon one important fact: The youths began to assemble long before the Third Thursday festivities concluded. Thus, we can say Third Thursday became the enabler for the settling of what seems to be a pre-planned rumble along the lines of Jets versus Sharks. The Boring Broadsheet missed this in its coverage, whiffed, in fact. YNN got to the edges of this fact, saying police (who did not go on camera) says the brawl was caused by a group of 100 youths. In other words, it wasn’t just two girls. The 100+ of the Little Darlings were already there. Besides the gang members, sources say  YOUTH ALIVE step team members also got in their licks.

Witnesses said they noticed the youths milling about suspiciously well before 8 p.m., including many members of a well-known gang that has been a headache for downtown for a couple of years. One store merchant said she even notified the police of her concern. That could have led to the quiet mobilization of the responding force, who, as we say, moved with alacrity and preparedness.

One of the brawlers, who called himself “Sterpid,” laughed off the incident in language that we can’t permit to be read on THE PLANET. This 15-year-old said the rumble had its origins earlier in the week with two girls, one of whom had “disrespected” the other. Naturally, it was over a jealous boy. According to our teen brawler,  oral sex, tattoos, and drugs (crack cocaine) were factors. The story became hard to follow.

Alarmingly, our 15-year-old said he and “others” were “packing.” He claimed they had guns and fled the moment the cops arrived.  We don’t know if this was teen-age male bragging (we think it was), but we hope future Third Thursdays don’t call the youth on it.

We asked him, why would you rumble at Third Thursday? Sterpid just laughed and shrugged.

Post-brawl, GOB got to Work with the Message: ‘The Fight Had Nothing to Do with Third Thursday’ … or … ‘Yes, Virginia, there is a Renaissance’ … or … Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Go Up to Third Thursday … BB’s Ned Oliver Worth Reading

One of the merchants told THE PLANET that she has concerns about future gatherings: “People can’t go out and have fun any more without the fear of something like [the brawl] happening.” She praised the police, and said, “Looking back, I wish the mayor had stuck to his guns” in canceling the event. Walker interviewed witness Marrizah Roussow, who works downtown. Roussow told Walker she hopes the melee will put “an end” to Third Thursday. The event, several merchants we talked to agree, has blackened the eye of Pittsfield and will continue to draw the Bad Element.

In the soon-aftermath of the melee, the GOB had some of its “usual suspects” quick on the draw to get out the word that the brawl wasn’t in any way connected with Third Thursday.  The flacks and mouthpieces got out the unconvincing word that the Renaissance is in full bloom and that the derelicts, transients, and now, the teen gang violence, were illusions created by THE PLANET, sunspots, or subterranean waters. As our coverage suggests, most people know otherwise.

The BB led the cheerleading, writing, in commentary without a byline, that “the incident doesn’t reflect on the successful Third Thursday events that preceded it.” The anonymous comment ignored the clues that a little bit of looking would have turned up, but the BB wasn’t interested in the Truth of the story, which we have presented here.

As for the “success” of the event, the BB called TT “extremely well attended,” an assessment that did not match with reality. To make sure the BB pleased its GOB masters, the anonymous editorial said the brawl “should have no impact on the popular downtown party,” only to contradict itself later in the same sentence, saying the court proceedings involving the arrested teens “may provide some insight.” They wrote this on Saturday.

BB management, one of our veteran newsroom friends tells us, took some GOB heat from running an account of the brawl the previous day. We credit the paper for running the story they did, well written and reported by Ned Oliver.  They had no choice but to print, our scribe spy said told us, knowing THE PLANET would have something today on the brawl. We heard Oliver had to fight for his piece. Is Ned Oliver the new Conor Berry?

THE PLANET again serves for the betterment of the community! But, Oh, the Jakes Give the Kapanskis a Hangover

Fact is, THE PLANET has made some headway in pushing the BB to be better, if only by a tad. We note, for example, the fine piece in today’s paper, again by Oliver, on how the city’s treatment of fire fighter James Rawson, with chief culprits being mainly acting Fire Chief Bob Czerwinski (and candidate for registrar of deeds Jody Philips‘ Significant Other) and then-Mayor Jimmy Ruberto. Ruberto manned up in commenting to Oliver on his decision. Czerwinski hid behind his woman’s skirts, or somewhere else, by not responding to Oliver’s request for comment. He also failed to respond the last time we called him for comment. Remember the chief’s Big Letter to  THE PLANET, when our reportage was hitting a little too close to home, how we were reporting on innuendo and fairy dust, and all we had to do was contact him for straight answers.

Yeah, right, Chief Bobbo.

Bobbo’s men were missing today. A busload of Pittsfield Jakes were headed to NYC today to complete in a stair-climbing fund-raiser. On board were six cases of beer. The Jakes repaired to an Irish pub after the event, to sample the spirits.

No one got drunk. No one got drunk. No one got drunk. No one got drunk. No one got drunk. No one got drunk. No one got drunk. No one got drunk. No one got drunk. No one got drunk. 

Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski, in the name of Pittsfield taxpayers, got the hangover, however, and the bill. Taxpayers, we hear from a well-placed source, paid for this Big Apple Bachanal Bash down to the last drop.

Way to go, Chief Jody’s Man.










  1. Michael Hitchcock
    May 21, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

    I’m not a fan of the reasoning here, Dan.

    First of my concerns is the idea that youth violence is some kind of valid reason to cancel a public event of much fun and profit. Would you cancel the Fourth of July Parade and Live at the Lake too? For fear of violence, maybe there should be a curfew in Pittsfield? Oh, I have an idea! Maybe we could do police checkpoints and random stop and frisks!

    However fun dystopian sarcasm in the face of demagoguery can be, I have to say that canceling an event out of fear of youth violence does nothing to curb youth violence. In fact, you give them a false sense of power; you encourage them.

    Furthermore the culture of fear that an ethos like this fosters does as much damage as any stupid brawl.

    One point about brawls. Third Thursday is a funny thing to choose to blame for providing a place. The last place I saw any number of people fighting was near University Place and 14th St. in Manhattan. The time before was at Noble Farm. Kids (and certain adults) find a place and time to brawl. Going around panic banning things is not really touching on the real issue.

    But I totally agree, albeit from a different perspective, that it doesn’t make much sense for Bianchi to give a reason for canceling the event and then immediately cave to public pressure. Whether that reason was, in fact, true or false, it is very stupid to go back on a decision like that without some kind of discussion of his reasoning.

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


      I have these counters:

      1) Third Thursdays are a pain in the butt. Tacky food, inconvenience caused by road closures that begin in the working day.

      2) Third Thursdays are costly – apparently the vendors are not covering the bill.

      3) Third Thursdays are going to be now more costly.

      Conclusion: cut your losses and put the money where it can do more for us.

      PS. Closing the streets was all we needed to allow kids to have a rumble. Therefore, the burden is on Whilden to explain how the event did not provide the venue.

      • levitan
        May 22, 2012 at 6:11 am #


        The “don’t let them win” argument has merit to me, but I don’t think the prize is anything I would want to keep around.

        • levitan
          May 22, 2012 at 6:15 am #

          footnote to item 2:

          I used to be a street vendor. My bills would include, space rental, utilities, and other fees. The promoter made a bundle in profit and also sold advertising.

          If the vendors are not paying the city enough to generate profit, they benefit disproportionately to the city, and taxpayers would have to make up the difference.


        • bobbyd
          May 22, 2012 at 6:31 am #

          Right? The other arguments Dan makes are valid, and should be considered. But the gang activity?

          If we cancel TT is gang violence going to go away? Nope. In fact, I remember on hell of a brawl that happened in the TD Bank parking lot toward the beginning of the school year.

          What sucks is that attendance at a whole host of public events will probably suffer because of this. Families will stay away out of fear. What’s going to happen to Live by the Lake? And if you thought TT was fraught with potential for gang violence, just wait for the Pittsfield Carnival.

          • levitan
            May 22, 2012 at 6:51 am #

            I feel TT are low value events. If Live on Lake is a better event, let’s put the money there, with more security.

          • danvalenti
            May 22, 2012 at 7:21 am #

            Agree completely. TTs are over-rated, under-performing, and lose money for the city. Now, courtesy of TT, Pittsfield gets lots of regional advertising as a city where gang violence is under control. Bianchi should have stuck to his guns and not caved in after he made the decision, based on credible information, to cancel.

          • danvalenti
            May 22, 2012 at 7:26 am #

            Good points, Bobby.

    • danvalenti
      May 22, 2012 at 7:32 am #

      Good post, well made. We disagree on some points and agree on others, respectfully, as always.

      • levitan
        May 22, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

        “Agree completely”

        Impossible. Complete agreement is a violation of the rules of Physics. It also is rather impossible in any discussion involving policy in Pittsfield. Bianchi couldn’t cancel them on the basis of rumors, but could cancel them on grounds of public safety. But, the issue of public safety and lack of liability made that issue flexible.

        Now, we can cancel them on grounds of “let’s find something better to do.”

        Do them in the shiny new park.

        • danvalenti
          May 22, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

          Don’t confuse physics with linguistics. I have made a life study of both. “Agree completely” is not only rhetorically possible but necessary. Once agrees completely with the statement as written (as we did with you), not on the subtexts that you did not present and therefore that we cannot know. Also, something cannot be “rather impossbie.” We don’t feel like explaining why.

          • levitan
            May 23, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

            You caught me there. That one goes to you.

  2. rick
    May 22, 2012 at 4:00 am #

    over 100 wayward teens ruin a peaceful evening on north street…geeze i wonder where the parents of these delinquents could have been… i think i might have an idea, let me give it a go….. sitting on a bar stool in a local dive….. hooked up to a crack pipe…or maybe just passed out after a long day of drinking their welfare checks….. i think it might be time for these people who wanted to bring these things into the world to watch them so they dont bother innocent people who just want to enjoy themselves peacefully. if they cant watch them , then the gaurds at the county jail will be happy to baby sit them in the near future…..

    • danvalenti
      May 22, 2012 at 7:30 am #

      You nailed it. Where are the deadbeat parents? You answered, articulately and well.

  3. Tim Bartini
    May 22, 2012 at 5:52 am #

    Dan I feel I must write so you can get the truth and not false information on the bus trip to NY city on Monday. Yes 25 firefighters went on a bus trip dressed in dress blue uniforms not for a stai climb but to honor our fallen brothers at the 911 memorial . NO DAN the TAX PAYERS did NOT pay for any of this trip. Our Firefighters Association payed for the full amount. Yes we did have a case of Coors light for the trip back 1 case of beer Yet again your sources have FAILED you. PS Your Blogg is becoming worst than Topix Tim Bartini Pres IAFF 2647

    • bobbyd
      May 22, 2012 at 6:39 am #

      Just stop it right now, you GOB bobble head! You’re taking all the fun out of all the rumor and innuendo.

    • Richard
      May 22, 2012 at 7:12 am #

      How is it that a veteran and Firemen got by passed for promotion even when he had a higher score? Where was the union to let this happen?

      • danvalenti
        May 22, 2012 at 7:19 am #

        My word from FD sources is that most of the guys didn’t like the fireman in question. They thought he was a gold-bricker, according to what they tell me. They didn’t feel good going on jobs with him. That’s why Mayor Ruberto acted as he did.

        • Richard
          May 22, 2012 at 9:38 am #

          With all due respect Dan I don’t believe that weather this man was liked by some of the people he worked with is no reason for J.R. to have not given him the job. Plus I never heard of management taking a poll to see if someone is concerned likeable enough from his coworkers to get a premonition. If he was qualified for the job and passed all the requirements and according to the investigation he did then he should have been given the job and the union if it is any good should have fought for him weather they liked him or not. Plus he served his country he is a veteran.

          • danvalenti
            May 22, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

            I agree. That shouldn’t make a difference. I was only sharing what my sources told me. There was a lot of concern about the amount of sick time he used, they say.

    • danvalenti
      May 22, 2012 at 7:30 am #

      Thank you for your P.O.V., which I appreciate and respect.
      Question: From where do the funds for the Firefighters Association come?
      Comment: My sources did not fail me, and that seems to be a problem with you. But once again, I have great respect for you and our long association. You have never hesitated to tell me to my face when I was wrong … or, on rare occasion, right, for that matter… unlike your acting chief, who thinks if he doesn’t respond to our inquiries, the issue simply vanishes.

  4. kevin jennings
    May 22, 2012 at 6:49 am #

    Dan maybe you can find the facts on this, i am sure pittsfield gazette archives would have it:

    Wasn’t Jody Phillips city clerk back about 10 years ago when she allowed a ballot for the city primary election to read VOTE FOR 8 when it was to read VOTE FOR 4 for the councilor at large race? I believe she was supposed to proof read the ballot. Her error nullified the election and caused the city to have a 2nd primary? Costing the city upwards of 30K. Her simple TYPO hit the tax payers pretty hard and possibly disenfranchised some voters. Now she wants a 90,000 a year job that requires the handling of legal documents. Do you want someone handling your important records and deeds who cant count to four? But if i remember correctly she did say she was “very sorry” At least she admits her mistakes unlike her acting fire chief lovebird. Then again he only cost the taxpayers 22K and 22K aint really that much in today’s dollars.

    • danvalenti
      May 22, 2012 at 7:25 am #

      I don’t need the Gazette archives. The memory of that election night evening are still fresh, for I was anchoring WBRK’s coverage that night. Jody Phillips was in her first election as City Clerk, and she screwed up. Her mistake nullified the election, and the city had a redo. Yes, 30K, for a simple typo that she missed. I respect Jody the person. She took one of my composition courses at the college back in the day, but as a public official, she didn’t impress. She fessed up to her election night mistake, and I liked that a lot. As you say, he S.O., Chief Czerwinski, hides behind the skirts when the heat is on.

  5. Payroll Patriot
    May 22, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    BREAKING NEWS???????????????
    From the Pittsfield Gazette May 17th, the cover story on the Pittsfield residential chickens: the ANSWER to the age old question of: ” Why did the chicken cross the road ?” To get to a progressive city. This information was given by someone giving testimony before a zoning board hearing. “Many many progressive cities welcome chickens.” Additionally, chickens are educational pets. Which leads to school chairman Mao’s “… delusional comments …for the sorry chapter” of the transparent superintendent search .

    Pittsfield Schools send out 3.2 million to other communities in Berkshire county, the Greylock Federal Credit Union lost 3.76 million last year. Are they run by the same Group?

    • danvalenti
      May 22, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

      Jonathan Levine of the Gazette once again steps in where the BB dares not to tread. Or did I miss the BB story on the Greylock loss?

      • skier1
        May 22, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

        BB would not dream of running an article on that. They would lose the Greylock advertising. Just ask Conor Berry when he left the Eagle, he came out on record he was told by Eagle management to stay away from certain questions regarding Angelo or Greylock would pull ads.

        As far as TT goes don’t drive on the street past 3pm. Young mothers let their kids dart in and out of the roads and the ruffians cross the streets with a I dare you hit me look on their faces.

        Don’t feel safe walking around anyway on certain parts of North St. no matter what time it is. Police and TT goers were lucky none of the low lifes pulled guns or knives.

        Word is people are moving back to Springfield because Pittsfield is too dangerous.

        Maybe these low lifes thought it was a casting call for Jerry Springer………

        • levitan
          May 22, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

          It’s really extreme to say people are fleeing Pittsfield on account of crime.

          Tax rates, yes. Employment opportunities, yes. Overabundance of artists, yes. But crime?

          I take my lunchtime nap on any number of benches, and no one tries to jump me.

          • levitan
            May 22, 2012 at 6:53 pm #


            If people were to flee pittsfield to evade hardened criminals, I should expect Bennington to see a nice surge in population.

          • skier1
            May 22, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

            this is what a local lawyer told me

          • danvalenti
            May 22, 2012 at 8:18 pm #

            More people are coming into town because of crime: the criminals, the low-lifes, the moochers, etc. Decent people are leaving for the reasons you mention.

          • Scott
            May 23, 2012 at 4:25 am #

            I dozed late at night on North street once when I stopped during a bike ride on one of the cement flower boxes and no one bothered me.

          • levitan
            May 23, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

            Just walked down Crane ave and Waconah this night. Armed with my fists and bludgeon. No one bothered me too. But, I apologize to skier1 if I was sarcastic. I agree that crime is one of the most serious problems afflicting Pittsfield these days.

  6. Jim Gleason
    May 22, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    This might interest some here. Just learned from a friend that the STURGE is going to be on WTBR, 89.7 FM, every day from 8:30 till 10 am, following the propaganda hour with John Krol. Maybe it’ll be called amateurs in the am.I have another name for it but won’t write it here. This isn’t Topix, as much as Bartini thinks it is.What do you all make of this?

    • Dee
      May 22, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

      How nice for him that he can finally get the show he wants without phone-in callers so no one to dispute his “facts.”

    • danvalenti
      May 22, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

      I respect JK and BS, but, with all that respect, I don’t like WTBR being given over to “the adults.” The station was founded and funded for students. If there aren’t enough students to care anymore, the plug should be pulled. Keeping it going with “the adults” is harmless, of course, but it’s rather like the grown-ups pushing the kids aside so they (the big guys) can play in the Wiffle Ball game. It is an amateur production, with hand-me-down equipment and not much listenership.

      • Jim Gleason
        May 22, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

        I agree Dan. The kids should run the show with some help and leadership from adults.Make no mistake, I love Mike Pezzo’s and Shane Gaetani’s shows during the week but they’re during the school day and the kids can’t be on then anyway.Those two guys put in a lot of time and have benefit events to keep the station afloat so their time is well earned.Let the kids have the air for any talk portions of the day, though, and make it part of a communications class or program. This could be done easily.

  7. Larry Tallman
    May 22, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    My wife and I attended the Third Thursday event for the first time this past week. We parked in the Mckay St. garage and leisurely strolled to Linden St.where we enjoyed an outstanding burger at the Lantern. We passed Melville St. minutes before the melee erupted and were speaking to Bill Sturgeon just prior to the onset of the emotional contagion.
    Ironically, as we walked North St., I expressed my concerns over my perceived public safety concerns, even stating that certain elements could easily create unmanageable crowd control issues. As she often does,my bride placated my ramblings with a simple nonchalant nod.
    Actually these observations were those of deja vu. Unfortunately, one of these ” mayhemic” situations I experienced lead to the cowardly sniping of a fine brother police officer and good friend named Lenny Stillwell.
    We cannot allow any future escalation of mob mentality to place anyone in harms way in Pittsfield. However, do not capitulate and validate the sociopathic cancer that would erode our rights and freedoms.l

    • danvalenti
      May 22, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

      Thank you for your professional perspective and great points. It’s interesting that you were there no long before the trouble, and you could tell something was brewing. I heard that same remark from a couple other people who where there at that time. One person likened it to a drop in barometric pressure, when a cold front moves in. Most everything I’m picking up leads me to believe this was a planned event, that Third Thursday was specifically chosen because there would be lots of people, and the streets would be sealed off at each end. I agree that sociopaths should not rob good people of their freedom, but, if TT is a money loser, that’s good reason to cancel. The city council should (a) request Meghan Whilden and staff to present the financials and (b) independently investigate the claims that TT is beneficial to the city. We can’t see where regional news on gang violence and out-of-control rumbles will help downtown Pittsfield.

  8. Larry Tallman
    May 22, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    As a former police officer, I feel we must aggressively identify and deal as much as humanly possible with the deep underlying sociological issues contributing to deviant behavior. In the near term support the “thin blue line” and as a community support and give those who legitimately protect and serve the necessary resources to do so.
    As an officer on the Evansville IN PD (, I worked numerous crowd control details, including the Fall Festival street fair (,which Paul Harvey once remarked is second only to the Mardi Gras in New Orleans in attendance. Without community commitment and help, wonderful events like this; Augusta GA’s First Friday and our Third Thursday cannot sustain.
    Pittsfield is my hometown and yes, I do revere the past. Can any of you old timers imagine what would have happened if someone attempted to assault Billy Mickle, Sr. or Frankie Carlen or any of the intrepid officers that once walked a beat on North St. ?

  9. Craig
    May 22, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    Thursday evening my wife works so it’s boys night at my house. He and I both look forward Third Tursday, we have been following the just about the same Third Thursday routine since his birth. We stop at the TD bank ATM, drive over to the parking lot by Flavors, walk up to North Street past the Beacon.
    Once on North Street we decide what we will have for dinner, most of the times it’s a Grampy’s hot dog which we take in hand and eat while walking up North Street. Sometimes we shop, sometimes we just look at things and talk about what we want to see, eat or do later. Often we see old friends, sometimes we make new ones it doesn’t really matter I’m with my son and we are having fun and that is priceless and I don’t want to lose that ever.
    Third Thursday is too important to be measured in just dollars or cents, it’s to valuable to be lost to political bickering, it is something that should be nurtured and cherished and never should it be sidelined by the acts of a few bad apples.
    People talk about the “old pittsfield” the good old days of GE and the manufacturing boom, well guess what, those days are long gone and they are probably never coming back but that doesn’t mean that we can’t make steps forward, and Third Thursday is one of them.

    If the Pittsfield police had intel about a fight between two little girls and the Mayor was willing to shut down Third Thursday because if it, everyone should have voted for Marchetti and I suggest they do so next time. I do commend the police for doing their job and stopping the “melee” with no injuries but I can’t imagine the police being so involved in a kids fight that they had prior intel and were willing to cancel such a big event for such a little thing. If they have that many ears on the ground to stop a girls fight over some playground transgression, I want them to rededicate those efforts to bigger and better, or at least more high profile crimes. Imagine if they put that effort towards investigating and prosecuting serious violent crime or the drug trade.
    I’m not doubting your source, it just seems like a lot of effort for a kids fight, and really if they knew the fight was going to happen wouldn’t they have known names? Couldn’t they have stopped the fight before hand? Does the PPD have a pre-crime division for playground fights and milk money theft rings?

    I want to also mention someone, her name is Shirley Edgerton. I mention her because you mentioned that members of the Youth Alive step team “got their licks in” during the fight. Kids do stupid things sometimes, us old folks call that “acting like a child”, it’s ok, kids grow up and learn better, and those girls and boys of Youth Alive have one of the most dedicated, seflless, and loving people looking after them, Shirley Edgerton. Those are her kids, everyone of them, she loves them and cares about everyone of those kids like they are her own, If they were involved in the fight, she will make things right. I am just a little dismayed or maybe disappointed that they get put in bold caps and are accused of something, when they do so many good things. Some of these kids don’t come from the best homes, some are living with sinle parents who are busy trying to put a roof over their kids head, feed them and hope their kids get a good education. It’s not an excuse for anything, it’s just a fact. Youth Alive was there to celebrate the good things, if some of their members got involved in the fight, I pray for them because Shirley knows how to dole out the tough love. I understand that by mentioning them in relation to the fight, it draws a stronger tie between Third Thursday and why people were ther. It is the counterpoint to those that say Third Thursday and the fight are not related, to both camps I say, “who cares?”
    Kids get in fights, do we start blaming or mentioning any group that they associate when that happens? Is there some correlation between the two? If kids at a Catholic school get is the fight, is it then “those Catholics got their licks in”, what if this happened at a Boy Scout Jamboree? Youth Alive and Shirley work to fix problems, through discipline, love, and self-respect. It’s not perfect but it is one more step in the right direction, please don’t marginalize or judge them by a mistake.

    • danvalenti
      May 22, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

      Well written. Allow a brief response: We are reporting on what happened. We shall leave the judgment to others. As for the intel the police had and what you intimate is their over-response, if that intel included word of a possible rumble, with guns being present (recall one of the participants told me he was “packing), we don’t agree that they should have been attending to more serious matters. There is no way to measure the gain of a shooting that didn’t happen. TT has its charming aspects, and your six-year-tradition with your son is a lovely one. However, given the dizzying pace of change, the six years of TT have equalled a social eternity. The mean streets make six years ago look like Willie Wonka Land. We hate to say it, but there is too much of a sociopathic element in downtown Pittsfield today to warrant future needless risk. We could install metal detectors and have the entire police force there, but at what point do the security measures begin to rip-off taxpayers? All well to you.

      • Craig
        May 22, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

        We got to Third Thursday right at 5PM and left around 7PM so we never saw the fight but since there were no injuries, I think the police did a pretty good job.

        I don’t deny the police their pay or their skill, I am just not sure they knew about the fight. If they did, then couldn’t they have taken action sooner? If they didn’t that’s ok, they still did a good job in shutting it down.

        I don’t know how much all of Third Thursday cost per event but it has got to be a buck a person that attends? Isn’t that really an economic win? Where else can you get that much entertainment for so little?

        Having been to most Third Thursday’s I think the attendance was higher this year during the same time period, while walking back down North Street a 7, it was bustling and our stop at persnickety toys was shortened because there were so many people in there. We stood in four separate lines of several people deep, I never remember that happening during May. I’m horrible at estimating crowds but I have to think there were at lest 3,000 people on the street over the two hours we were there. All things being equal, with the off again on again message sent out and the short short notice, I wonder what the crowd would have been like if not for the mixed message from the mayors office.

        Any type of event has risks, any large grouping of people can be a problem it doesn’t mean it needs to be shut down or canceled because of what might happen. If there is a clear and present danger, yes that is a different story the Mayor flip flopped on the decision and things turned out generally ok.

        Cultural Pittsfield puts on or is instrumental in hundreds of events that go on in the city every year, in 5 years of Third Thursday’s at least 50,000 people have been positively impacted, a couple girls get in a fight, some child longing for attention says he was strapped and now we have to end Third Thursday’s? It seems like burning down a house because a lightbulb went out.
        Six years is a long time, 5 years without incident has to be some kind of record for an event like Third Thursday. I would just ask that you look back to why North Street and Pittsfield was like 6 years ago, it was a wasteland nothing going on, very very scary at night. It’s not perfect now but it is better and I think the investment is worth it. I can’t imagine the north street experience if Cultural Pittsfield did nothing or ran the way it di before.
        Cultural Pittsfield and Third Thursday are both sound investments for the city and as a way to bootstrap the rest of th county.

        • danvalenti
          May 22, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

          It appears that while the city and police did not have a specific concern, they had a credible threat that something might be up. We’ve have many people tell us, including Mr. Larry Tallman, for former police officer, tell us that after about the time you left, 7 p.m.-ish, people began to get a bad vibe. All of a sudden, lots of teens began to gather and mingle. As for cost, exactly! Neither you nor anyone else knows how much Third Thursday costs taxpayers. With an incident like the melee, it’s time that the city present the full costs. The event should live or die on the basis of finances alone, but they should be a factor. We would also respectfully and strongly disagree with your statement that “things turned out generally OK.” They didn’t. There was a huge brawl, and it’s nearly a miracle there wasn’t serious injury. There WAS serious injury to what little good reputation downtown Pittsfield has, as word of this was reported throughout the Northeast. Downtown Pittsfield is still a wasteland and even more scary at night. There are some decorative and aesthetic elements that have added variety, but bottom line, most decent people are afraid to venture downtown, especially at night, and rightly so. As for the “rest of the county,” the last thing it needs is a “bootstrap” like TT. Let them hobble by with Jacob’s Pillow, Tanglewood, NR Museum, MAss MOCA, and other world-class venues.

          • Craig
            May 22, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

            If no one knows the costs, how do we know Third Thursday loses money? I agree a full accounting would be good, but I think people would be surprised how inexpensive it is. From past involvement with CulturalPittsfield, they are very good at getting sponsors for events and they run on a very very small budget. I have said this before if you took all the departments, examined their budgets, salaries, benefits and long term cost of retirement, Cultural Pittsfield aka the office of cultural development would come out on top when it comes to return on investment, both directly in money brought in, increases in sales tax and meals taxes generated as a byproduct of their work and the slightly more intangible “good will”.

            I am curious what would you, or anyone that doesn’t like Third Thursday, suggest as its replacement? What should Pittsfield do in its place?

          • danvalenti
            May 22, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

            Not knowing the cost doesn’t mean the city doesn’t know it’s costly. Direct costs would be manpower (police, city staff tied up in planning, advertising, etc.). Indirect costs are harder to figure. For example, what is the cost to the overall economy by preventing through traffic? Any? Where would TTers go with their time and money if not for the TT? What is the cost in lost business elsewhere in town? That being said, we should know the costs, but, even if inexpensive, finances should only be one of the considerations. Safety should be a much more occupying concern. On THE PLANET tomorrow, we shall examine this issue in detail. In it’s place, I would put that question to my readership at large saying first: Why does the city need to have anything in its place? Are people so incapable and unimaginative that they would be stymied by not having that event? THE PLANET is in this case a conduit of ideas, and we invite them.

    • joetaxpayer
      May 22, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

      Craig,Hells Angels do alot of good things too!

    • levitan
      May 22, 2012 at 7:02 pm #


      There are plenty of folk and kids hard up who don’t treat a blocked road as a place to riot.

  10. Scott
    May 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    Gotta love those tight Mass gun laws… No one ever bothers me or my family when we’re out about town if I saw someone being assaulted I would help them.

  11. Ron Kitterman
    May 22, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    Good people drive bad people away. I’m a skeptic of crowd estimates myself. Have a parade, riot or Third Thursday and the cops, politician, and the media all have a dfferent count. It’s a confidence factor now to get a bigger crowd next month will take a lot of work.

  12. Joe Blow
    May 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    Tattoos where a factor? Really?

  13. Terry Kinnas
    May 22, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

    Just an update:
    Three interviewes are scheduled for Deputy Superintendent of Schools at the the May 23 school committee meeting.
    None are from Pittsfield. They are
    Lynne Christensen
    N. Tracy Crowe
    Katherine Schneider

    At this moment, two people are being invited to interview for the interim Superintendent position. None are from Pittsfield. They are Basan Nembirkow and Gordon Noseworthy on June 13th.

    Please, there are good teachers in the Pittsfield Public Schools and good principals. I am not saying all are, but we need your help to turn it around to have all excel.

    As a side note: I agree with Dan’s statement on adults using facilities (WTRB) that are supposed to be for young adults developing in our school system.

  14. Terry Kinnas
    May 22, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

    NOTE: Should read WTBR not WTRB.

  15. john doe
    May 22, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

    Cancelling Third Thursday because of a fight is the dumbest thing I have ever read on this blog.

    Third Thursday has created more positive PR for the downtown than any event ever.

    I’m amazed that a man who purports to be for the little guy suggests we all run home at the first sign of trouble.

    People talk about the good old days and say remember when…thirty years from now people will be saying the same thing, but they’ll be referencing the good times they had at Third Thurdays.

    • danvalenti
      May 22, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

      Your anemic “slippery slope” argument (that the “good old days” preceding any point in time were better) only proves that regression is inevitable as it is unnoticeable. A continual worsening over, say 50 or 60 years, will produce profound changes, and not for the better. Pittsfield will not rebound as a city until officials begin facing the problems and not ignoring them, as you implicity suggest. Do not be amazed by anything THE PLANET does. Be convinced. Become a believer.

      • Scott
        May 23, 2012 at 4:20 am #

        Nostalgia is a drug I wonder if the feeling even prompts the same pleasure censors in the brain.

    • Scott
      May 23, 2012 at 4:22 am #

      I agree no small time punk is gonna stop me from enjoying the Berkshires. Let the cops deal with it like they did. This is exactly why I wrote Deval Patrick asking him to rethink his stance on the stand your ground law.

  16. Giacometti
    May 22, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

    While Third Thursday enjoys five years of success Pittsfield has allowed its Public Murals to fade and deteriorate. A very sad state
    of affairs that has been allowed to happen…Is anyone aware that one grand mural on Bradford Street no longer exists ?

    • levitan
      May 23, 2012 at 4:03 am #

      Indeed – you offer one area where money could be better spent. I’m surprised Whilden hasn’t looked at other city’s mural projects that have outside funding and engage youths in creating them (under a professional eye).

      Coming from Alberto, it’s a good suggestion.

  17. Ron Kitterman
    May 23, 2012 at 3:41 am #

    “Sixth year of Third Thursdays kicks off in Pittsfield Friday May 18, 2012″ – ” Over 100 involved in North Street melee
    Friday May 18, 2012 ” “Four teens arraigned in Third Thursday melee ( 4 Arraigned in ‘ riot’ Not guilty pleas for 3; 4th is fined )”
    I guess my point is this thing went from TT to North St, to Melvile St, from a disturbance, fight, melee, with hints or a race riot and police brutality.

    • danvalenti
      May 23, 2012 at 7:12 am #

      Yes, that’s the progression that all should reflect upon: from fun event, to disturbance, to fight, to melee, to gang war, to race riot. Pittsfield doesn’t need it.

  18. Silent Majority
    May 23, 2012 at 6:23 am #

    It is the last 3rd Thurs. I or my family will ever attend. Good one Ron. TT went from TT to race riot. I witnessed the disturbance. Never again Pittsfield. The police weren’t brutal enough actually. They showed too much restraint but I thank them and their presence.

    • danvalenti
      May 23, 2012 at 7:11 am #

      We understand and respect your decision, which we think is wise. We would not call for any measure of police brutality, but we get from whence you come. Thanks for your input.

  19. Teecha Teecha
    May 23, 2012 at 8:47 am #

    Excellent description of the generation of swine plaguing our once wonderful city, Dan. As always I find your ‘paper’ a better read than anything else reporting on the berkshires… and you don’t censor your comments either. Noticeably, most people aren’t swearing, cussing and insulting each other. It’s good to know that there are decent minded folk still out there.

  20. Ron Kitterman
    May 23, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    Well put Teecha Teecha!! a little civility and politeness are needed on all levels of the media, especially here in the Berkshires

  21. Giacometti
    May 23, 2012 at 2:18 pm #


    It’s Giovanni Giacometti….not my son Alberto

    like Pittsfield…we are worlds apart

    • levitan
      May 23, 2012 at 8:32 pm #