D-DAY, COURAGE, AND THE EROSION OF AND COMPLACENCY FOR FREEDOM … PLANET FILES PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST IN ‘THE GREAT WBTR FLIP-FLOP’ AND WE HIT PAYDIRT … YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT’s IN THE ‘SECRET E-MAILS’! … KRATKA: KOME KLEAN. YOUR KUNNING KAPER IS KRASHING DOWN
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, JUNE 6, 2012) — There is no such thing as wishing someone “Happy D-Day.” Too many soldiers on both sides of the conflict died that day and in that war.
D-Day occurred long before we got used to televised war, live and in color, brought to you by Revlon. The time delay from when acts of war occurred to when people “back home” not only found out about them but got to see them through images allowed war to achieve the supreme status of myth, through the experience of it after the fact by those on the home front.
Those who were there in the “deep muddy,” however, won’t elevate war to anything beyond its literal status. We should listen to them, the vets who were there, and who, alone can tell us that all war is futile, with nothing “just” or “noble” to it, since it is the product of greed. War produces no “heroes,” only victims. We have never met a combat veteran who disagreed with this.
Relatively little film survives of the morning of D-Day, grainy images of the frightened first wave under murderous fire, Omaha Beach, U.S. First Army (V Corps, 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions). Robert Capa, shooting for LIFE magazine, took the most famous photos that day.
Capa got into a landing craft with Company E, 16th Regiment, he hit the surf with them, 100 yards from the beach. Under heavy fire, he hid behind a steel obstacle and began shooting. He exposed 106 frames on three rolls of film. But then …
… an error by a darkroom technician later that day (he dried the film too quickly) ruined all but 10 of the frames (one of those frames is published here, at right). Few other photographs were taken on Omaha Beach in that first wave.
THE PLANET won’t turn this into a history lesson. We only pause to remember the largest amphibious invasion, before or since, in world history. It set off a chain of events that ended in my father finding himself on the front lines in Belgium in January 1945 in the Battle of the Bulge and seeing things no one should ever see. He, like they, did his duty.
I think today of my father, who — in his 92nd year of life and in excellent health — tomorrow celebrates 68 years of marriage to my mom.
I think of the poor guys stepping off of Higgins Boats (photo, left) on Omaha Beach on that morning so long ago, nowhere to hide, in a mass of confusion, and being mowed down by withering assault.
I think of those guys, risking all, wondering why, and hating every minute of it, so we could defeat totalitarianism and preserve the American way of life. That way included our once-cherished freedoms, which have been gradually eroded, deliberately undermined by selfishness of a few and taken for granted by the masses. We, though, try to build freedom. We try to buoy it with the selfless work of true journalism. We shall never take it for granted.
For this reason, THE PLANET abhors any actions that would silence a free and fearless press in furious defense of the same liberties fought for on D-Day.
MORE DEVELOPMENTS IN THE GREAT WTBR FLIP FLOP
Apparently, we need to spell it out again, because there are some who just can’t or won’t “get” it. The situation at WTBR, where a veteran talk show host’s previously approved new show was pulled before it could air for the first time, has nothing to do with the question of whether adult programming should or should not be allowed on a high school radio station. Another far important issue trumps the “adult programming” debate.
The issue strikes at the heart of journalism’s function in a community reeling in economic hardship with a power structure too comfortable, too complacent, and too corrupt to really care about the struggles of everyday people. In a community like this, when journalists allow themselves to be bought, the results aren’t pretty. All you have to do is look at what’s happened in the city of Pittsfield for the past 25 years.
Those who are now trying to steer the debate into side matters or make it go away reveal themselves to be stooges of what is clumsily called for want of a better term the GOB.
High Crimes and Malfeasance
The issue is this: We have a rare example where a so-called “journalist” not only went back on his word but also willfully acted against what he says he knows to be Right, merely because he got pressured from outside interests that he refuses to name. Thus, there are three high crimes here:
(1) The betrayal of a person (Bill Sturgeon by Larry Kratka).
(2) The betrayal of professionalism.
(2) Ignoring what someone in his conscience knows to be Right.
(3) Getting “owned” and not being tough in the face of pressure.
THE PLANET has long lost track of the many times outside interests have attempted to buy, beat, coerce, or otherwise scare us off a story. It happens less and less now, but every time it has, we have spit in the face of the people trying to corrupt us. As Paul Newman as Fast Eddie Felson says in The Hustler to a pool-room thug, “I don’t rattle, kid.” We also share another guiding direction learned long ago as a lad from our cowboy hero, Roy Rogers: “If a little guy is in the right, all he’s gotta do is keep a comin.’”
Larry Kratka got rattled. For a man, that’s an admitting to a lack of moral character. As a journalist, that’s career suicide. As long as Kratka hides from this story, which he himself created, by refusing to name those who “got to him,” everything he does from this point forward will be suspect. He has not only betrayed Sturgeon and soiled WTBR, he has poured a heaping bucket of scorn and suspicion on WBEC and all the other Vox stations in Berkshire County. Vox local GM Peter Barry has to know this. Barry was as much betrayed by Kratka as Sturgeon, and Peter has every right to be upset. All he’s trying to do is run the best set of radio stations that he can given the local situation, and he’s got to fight his own news director.
THE PLANET’s Investigation Yields a Harvest
Our investigation into The Great WTBR Flip Flop continues. THE PLANET continues to peck away at the most significant question: Who told Kratka to pull the plug on Bill Sturgeon? We have these recent developments to report.
A Public Records Request that we made had released pertinent information. The haul consists of public documents that “They” wanted to keep secret. You don’t keep secrets from Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski. On there behalf, we got the documents. Read on, dear friends.
Letter to Larry
Last night, we tried again. We sent the following message to Kratka:
SUBJECT LINE: “WHO PRESSURED YOU?”
I shall try again. Who pressured you and why?
You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by coming clean.
I invite you to name the names. I’m hearing “this one” and “that one,” but only you know for sure.
Refusing to answer only drags the story on, further.
I ask with all due respect.
Kratka did not respond. What, you were expecting him to warble like a songbird, he, who is scared to death that we might reveal who is standing behind the curtain, pulling his strings and levers?
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Alf Talks to Larry
THE PLANET has learned that School Committee chairman Alf Barbalunga spoke to Kratka on Monday. He told Alf that “Bill Sturgeon will not be participating with a radio show on our station.” To which, THE PLANET replies, “No shit, Sherlock.” Here, it’s Monday, and that’s what K is telling Alf?! You cannot make this stuff up. Don’t you love the way this is phrased, as if Sturgeon of his own volition, chose “not to participate.” This is Krtaka at his spineless best. Of course Bill is not “participating.” Larry, you fired his ass.
The story gets better. Based on this snow-ball meeting, Barbalunga told his committee, “I feel confident in Larry’s management of our station, and ask that we respect his decision.”
Ding, ding, ding, ding, dong. Yes, dong.
Those are the alarm bells that go off when the little red flag pops up, indicating we have landed a whopper. Instead of bringing Kratka in tonight (school committee meets at 6 p.m. at the PHS library) to explain this turn of events and open it up for the board’s questions, Barbalunga “feels confident” and wants to “respect” the decision. On what basis, the chairman did not specify.
A Date for Judas, Aug. 22
THE PLANET has also learned that “l’affaire WTBR” has been placed on the Aug. 22 school committee agenda. Here’s what Barbalunga says about this: “At that time, Larry can present all of the good things our students are doing on the station. However, we can also start to speak about hiring protocols and begin to initiate any needed changes.”
Mr. Chairman, with all due respect, there’s one change that’s needed immediately. Your present program director, station manager, student adviser, or whatever the heck you call him should be suspended immediately, pending his Aug. 22 hearing. Mr. Chairman, need we draw you a map? This man in whom you have so much confidence has admitted he is a pawn to outside manipulation. Why do you have no interest in finding out who these people are?
Barbalunga issued his comments to the school committee following an inquiry by board member Kathy Amuso, asking for an update on WTBR. “Everything I hear is from the street,” Amuso told Barbalunga on Sunday, June 3. “We need to discuss this. We should have already done this.”
Amuso is spot on, and she’s speaking with the chess moves of someone who has far more experience as chair. Barbalunga should have been on top of the situation from the get-go. He wasn’t. The WTBR Affair found Alf asleep at the wheel.
Krol Speaks, On the Record
Meanwhile, our Right Hon. Good Friend John Krol responded forthrightly and upfront to our questions. That, alone, tells you a lot about the man. When a man “man’s up,” you have to respect that.
“Larry was pressured,” Krol told THE PLANET. “I can’t imagine a different scenario, since he [LK] was fully supportive of the program in our initial discussion with Bill and me.” Krol said he ”[did] not know for sure” who pressured Kratka, adding that he “would prefer not to speculate. I have not spoken to Larry regarding this detail.”
We asked Krol why he hadn’t spoken out in defense of Sturgeon and against what Kratka did to him. He answered this way: ”
I thought I was pretty clear, in my encouragement and involvement in creating the new show with Larry and Bill, that I was 100 percent behind Bill’s show that would have followed Good Morning Pittsfield from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Further, my public discussion with Bill on Good Morning Pittsfield on Tuesday (5/29) provided further details about the value of this new programming for the station, which I believe would have benefited the community. I encourage you to log onto goodmorningpittsfield.com to see the interview in its entirety.
Specifically to your question, let me remove any doubt. I am extremely disappointed with the turn of events the led to the cancellation of Bill’s show before it began. It would have provided further quality programming and excellent exposure for this “little station that could” (to quote Larry’s oft-used phrase), which only would have strengthened WTBR’s role as a community radio station.
Krol added that he ” completely disagrees” with the decision to pull the show, “and I hope the decision will be reversed.”
We thank our right honorable good friend for his comments.
—– 00 —–
Pummelin’ Pam Surfaces (Wasn’t It Only a Matter of Time?)
Now, ladies and gentleman, we introduce the next development, in the personage of none other than Pummelin’ Pam Malumphy. In case you lost track, THE PLANET is still on Pam’s official enemies list, a ponderous one at that, positively Nixonian. We list that badge under the “Honors and Awards” section of our curriculum vitae.
You may recall that in a move that puzzled the Tea Leaf Readers, for some reason Stuart Chase, CEO of 1Berkshire hired Pummelin’ Pam for who knows what reason to do heaven knows what. Strangely enough, Malumphy is not listed on the 1Berkshire website site’s “Leadership Team” page, where you will find spiffy pictures and bios of Chase, Helena Fruscio, Lauri Klefos, and our good friend Mike Supranowicz (yes, the same Mike Supranowicz who is prez and CEO of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, the guy who ordered poor Ashley Sulock, the Chamber’s marketing person, to keep her mouth shut about Meredith Nilan, if she knew what was good for her).
But First, Two Asides
As an aside, we hear there’s quite a cat fight going on among the three gals (Fruscio, Klefos, and Pummelin’ Pam) for who will is Queen Bee in the office.
As a further aside, it seems things are popping at 1Berkshire. The economic development organization’s last press release was issued on July 14, 2011. THE 1Berkshire website, in an undated news release issued when Malumphy was hired, lists her as “an economic development specialist,” whatever the heck that is. By the lack of economic development in the Berkshires, doesn’t appear as if Pam has found the right speciality. Malumphy was hired under a state grant (taxpayer money, what else) that expires at the end of this month. No word on whether Pummelin’ will remain with 1Berkshire beyond that.
We mention all this because we heard on Reliable Source that Malumphy was hired by 1Berkshire with the express understanding that she would engage in none of the abrasive, shrill, “revenge politics” for which she became so famous as a one-term councilors and a four-time election loser. And yet that appears to be exactly what she has been doing, monkeying around where she said she wouldn’t. We would ask Pam directly, but, remember, we’re The Enemy. She doesn’t talk to us. We have, though, through a mutual Third Party friend, requested comment from Pam.
Pam to Jake: ‘Your Response is Unacceptable and Dismissive’
Now don’t tell anyone, because no one is supposed to know, but …
THE PLANET has learned that on the morning of May 31, Pummelin’ Pam e-mailed Pittsfield School Supt. Howard “Jake” Eberwein III.
She wrote this to Jake:
Subject Line — “WTBR”
And so I can be clear particularly having spoken with members of the School Committee about this matter. My conversation less than a week ago with John (Vosburgh) was evidently only one of many, many calls that had been previously made to the School Committee about Bill, John, and the use of the radio station by adults for talk shows. Going forward, I will continue my conversations with Principal Vosburgh and the School Committee. It is disturbing to me, Jake, that you are willing to make uninformed and, what I consider, dangerous decisions to have anyone be ‘welcome’ to host programs on TBR without dialogue with the broader community whose tax dollars are paying for our schools to thrive.
Is this the smoking gun?
The day before, Malumphy told Jake:
I want to be very clear here. I am extremely fond of and have great respect for Larry. Many of us are thankful for his efforts to save WTBR but that is not what is being questioned. It’s about creating a coherent policy about adults using the station for talk shows. And, frankly, Jake, your response below is unacceptable and dismissive. I have already left a voicemail with you and Alf and will look forward to hearing back from both of you.
Tracing back the kite-tail of e-mails, Jake had told Malumphy that he had made his decision: John Krol, Jake wrote to Malumphy, is “welcome to continue his show and Bill is welcome to host a show. As I suggested in my last email, your concerns pertaining to adult participation will be reviewed by the principal (who supervises the club) and the school committee (who hold the license).” A stand-up e-mail from Jake, wouldn’t you say?
—– 00 —–
Now we ask: Would a reasonable person conclude that perhaps Pam Malumphy was part of the pressure nagging at the School Department? But who was she after? Krol or Sturgeon? Both? and Why? It appears that Pummelin’s target was Krol, and that she used Sturgeon as a means to try to undermine Krol. Again, not knowing definitively and suggesting this possibility on the basis of what information we do have and simple logic, we would ask Pam directly, but she refuses to accept our calls, whether they be by phone, e-mail, carrier pigeon, Facebook, Twitter, smoke signals, Pony Express, in-person, or cuneiform.
Letters from Kratka to Sturgeon Put Bill in Favorable Light but Not Larry
Finally, in our haul of records, we came across this highly relevant exchange between Kratka and Sturgeon. LK sent it to BS on May 29 at 2:20 p.m.
When John [Krol] said we needed to CHAT on Friday, apparently he just wanted to talk to me about issues with the station. There was no meeting…just a friendly chat in the hall about other things with WTBR. John and I meet all the time throughout the year. On a personal note, I am sick and tired of inuendos and rumors. Blogs are freedom of speech but so much BS….since bloggers who have been spreading their poison about WTBR, have never contacted me. Bunch of cowards.
I think its funny that no one who had an issue with your show asked me directly. So, after talking to Friday…..and you asked me a direct question…yes or no. I decided NO. Not because of you and what you would do….but I’m not going to put WTBR through this. I’ve worked for six years to make it a success. AND it is.
Bill, please move on….and I hope I hear you on WRRS-LP. You deserve a home where the tiny minds
This is an illuminating message. We learn that:
* LK is “sick and tired of innuendo and rumors.” Do you believe this, from a purported “journalist”? He himself creates the situation’s turmoil, refuses to reveal the truth or the names behind the pressure, only to complain about the rumors after he eschews the opportunity to set the record straight, as only he can! Unbelievable.
* “Blogs are freedom of speech but so much BS,” he writes. First, we presume he’s not referring to “Bill Sturgeon” by BS. Second, this statement equates free speech with bullshit. In other words, Larry Kratka thinks the First Amendment is bullshit. Amazing.
* “Bloggers … spreading poison” have “never contacted me.” First, do you think he means PLANET VALENTI?! Yeah, most likely. Second, when THE PLANET does contact him, asking him what’s going on, he e-mails us not once, not twice, but three times. Each time, he answers with one word, all caps: “NOTHING.” Kratka is like the kid who kills both parents and then throws himself on the mercy of the court because he’s an orphan.
* “I decided NO,” on the show, he tells the guy he’s just betrayed. “You deserve a home where the tiny minds … can’t touch you,” LK says, ignoring his even tinier mind that just caved in to pressure after he had just found that home which he tell Sturgeon he “deserves.” Double Amazing!
* Finally, he has the unmitigated tone-deafness to tell Sturgeon: “Bill, please move on.”
The longer Kratka allows this story to drag on, the more We the People are telling him: “See the middle finger? Please sit on it and rotate. Larry, for your own good, come clean.”
THE WARMING EARTH SLEEPS BELOW, ABOVE THE CHILLY SKY HOVERS. ALL AROUND, WITH A STATIC SOUND, THE MAN OF RADIO SHAKES OFF HIS COVERS. WE DO NOT SPEAK TOO SOON. WE MERELY SPEAK IN CODE BENEATH THE SINKING MOON. D-1718.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.