PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, JUNE 11, 2012) — This is the part of our three-act play, The Great WTBR Flip Flop, where we gather the suspects in the room and we reveal the killer(s).

“They,” as Larry Kratka calls “Them,” tried to throw our men off the trail, but it did not work. We employ the best, and we have people in the right places talking to us.

The Suspects are Called into the Drawing Room

In addition to Kratka, who was found standing over the corpse with a smoking gun,

Hemlock Holmes, THE PLANET's Ace Detective.

Chief suspects in the murder of Bill Sturgeon’s show on WTBR include Alf Barbalunga, Jake Eberwein III, Dan Bianchi, Peter Barry, Rosanne Freiri, Pam Malumphy, John Krol, Barry Clairmont, and Melissa Mazzeo. Others figure into the story, but THE PLANET‘s chief investigator, Hemlock Holmes, has after exhaustive deliberation ruled them out. So, now that everyone is assembled in the mahongony-paneled drawing room and the storm brews outside with thunder crashes and lightning trombones, we present Holmes’ findings.

With so many people unwilling to talk, and those that did only off the record, it took the patience of a saint to put this together, Holmes reports. We has submitted his findings, based on the best information available, knowing, of course, that the search for truth — especially when so many have so much to cover up — can be elusive and inconclusive. Nonetheless, THE PLANET presents this in good faith, with findings within the usual margin or error.

First, Kratka is assuredly one of the killers. He fired the gun and felled Bill Sturgeon. There can be no disputing that. He has been accused, tried, and found guilty after a fair trial on THE PLANET, where the course of considered public opinion made its unalterable determination. Kratka acted in a personally and professionally loathsome way, and we have no doubt that he regrets what he did.

Who put Kratka up to the bloody task, however? Who put so much pressure on him that he was afraid to stand up to it and stick up for what he, himself, has admitted was the right thing to do?

Hemlock Holmes’ says there are two guilty parties. One will be exonerated for the extenuating circumstances that made his actions understandable. The other will be revealed as the Mata Hari that Holmes report claims was working behind the scenes with her particular brand of acid politics. According to Holmes charges, this second killer performed so well, she even got the victim to believe she wasn’t a part of the plot.

Those With Insufficient Motive or Sufficient Alibis are Eliminated

The next step for Holmes was to eliminate those who seemingly had motive but were found not guilty for one reason or another.  Holmes eliminated Barbalunga (evidence too inconclusive), Eberwein (evidence didn’t stick), Bianchi (not enough of a motive), Krol (advocated for Sturgeon), Clairmont (not wired in enough to care) and Mazzeo (not directly involved). This leaves Barry, Malumphy, and Frieri, which has the makings of a fine little poem.

Barry, Malumphy, and Frieri? / Who gave the gun to Larry? / Not to say things contrary, / but who gave the gun to Larry? / Larry did not act on his own. / He didn’t commit murder alone. / He pulled the trigger / that’s how we figure / and now can’t his action condone.

Peter Barry, GM at WBEC (Vox Radio)

We heard through our broadcast sources that Peter Barry, general manager and Kratka’s boss at WBEC, was on vacation when Larry made the apparently unilateral decision to give Bill Sturgeon a show on WTBR. Sources say Barry was none too pleased to learn of the appalling lack of judgment in his news director, giving a show to a competitor. Barry let Kratka hear about the move, but he wasn’t the one behind the Sturgeon killing.

Remember, Kratka himself admitted that the pressure he got was from “political types.” Barry is a man of the Dreaded Private Sector. He not only has a right but the obligation as Vox Radio GM to protect his interests, and THE PLANET says he did the right thing in letting his news director know. If Barry was managing our station, we would want him to act as he did in giving Kratka a rough ride into the boards. Thus, we remove Peter Barry from suspicion.

Who pushed Kratka into an act of broadcast murder?

A Story that Begins in 1920, Believe It or Not

Believe it or not, the story begins in 1920. After World War I, veterans  had to march on and camp in Washington to force the government to make good on promised bonuses. Since that time, it’s been the veteran’s endless struggle to hold Uncle Sam‘s feet to the fire when it comes to promised benefits. It’s a shame we do that to the men and women who serve in the military, and those who feel passionate about vets, as THE PLANET does, takes umbrage when we learn that they are being mistreated.

To help secure those rights here in the Bay State, Massachusetts state law requires each city or town over 12,000 in population to have a local veterans’ agent. This position operates under the state Veterans’ Services Department under the direction of Chapter 115 of the state’s general laws. Local agent direct and administer veterans’ benefits programs as a joint venture between state and city.

Local vet agents determine eligibility for benefits, assist veterans in securing their rights, handle applications for assistance, answer questions about federal and state programs, and help vets obtain copies of their discharge papers.  Obviously, it’s a job requiring (a) a great deal of administrative savvy, (b) fierce determination to help people through miles of red tape, (c) great people skills, (d) deep knowledge of applicable law, (e) vast knowledge of military matters, (f) all tied together with the management skills of a sharp CEO, (g) a non-political type who’s willing to rattle the system.

While no one person has all of these qualities to a perfect degree, successful vets’ agents have most of them to a full measure. The unsuccessful ones tend to be political hacks, hangers on, usually those who have failed at elective office but who did favors from those in power.

How do you know if the local veterans’ agent is doing his or her job? You talk to the men and women who have served their country and now have to work with the local agent. What is the agent’s reputation among the troops? That tell all.

Pittsfield Veterans’ Agent Not Like or Respected by Vets

Rosanne Frieri, Pittsfield Veterans' Services agent.

In Pittsfield, the local agent is Rosanne Freiri. She makes $48,000 a year  not counting benefits (add another $15,000). Based on THE PLANET’s interviews with directors of veterans programs, veterans themselves, city officials (elected and appointed), and the usual assortment of “wise guys,” Frieri is not well liked by the veterans she serves, and that’s the key, Hemlock Holmes claims, to understanding the whodunnit that led to Larry Kratka to pull the trigger on Bill Sturgeon, killing the new show before it could draw its first breath.

Jack Downing of Soldier On and former veteran’s agent Larry Caprari share Sturgeon’s view of Frieri’s ineffectiveness on the job. One source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said “Ironically, Ro [Frieri’s nickname] was a huge supporter of Jimmy [Ruberto]. That relationship soured. In her first year [as veterans’ agent], she almost got voted out by the [city] council. She lacks bureaucratic skills. She is terrible at documenting the program, and with the state, that’s a huge issue because the state reimburses us three-fourths of the cost to the city.” Another source mentioned Frieri’s failed campaign for state rep as proof that she’s a political wannabe and an incompetent administrator. She added, “Don’t forget, too, that Ro is still marketing her photography business. How can she run a photo shop and devote her full time attention to [veterans]?”

Another source  shared a specific example of how Frieri lets details slip by. At the city’s Memorial Day ceremony, one of the speakers — following remarks prepared by or at least given under the direction of Frieri — called State Sen. Ben Downing “Matt Downing” and State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier “Don Bouvier.” These gaffes were done to the embarrassment of all. Did Freiri review the remarks prior to them being given? Obviously not. Small thing.

Another little detail (the “small” things added up become large): For the Veteran’ Services Outreach Office in Pittsfield, the online listing has no website. Beverly lists a website. Framingham, Haverhill, and Roxbury have websites. The vets’ agent needs to be on top of such things. Visit the city website. Call up the Department of Veterans’ Services. No e-mail address is given for Rosanne Frieri. We had to go to the Town of Richmond website to find Frieri’s e-mail address.

Allow THE PLANET one word here about sources. We, too, would much prefer people go on the record with their names. Pittsfield, though, is a town that exacts revenge and instills fear. It leaves us with a choice: Either not pursue stories, or agree to talk with people for attribution but not on the record. We honor those who speak but without using their names. It’s a price of doing business in a small city with vindictive politics.

Sturgeon Roundly Criticized Frieri for Failing Vets

Sturgeon, a veteran and a long-time outspoken advocate for his military brothers and sisters, was among Frieri’s fiercest critics. In fact, as Sturgeon neared the end of his run on WBRK, he stepped up his criticisms of Frieri’s lack of ability in her role as veteran’s agent. He took advantage of the bully pulpit afforded by a live microphone, as was his right.

Sturgeon especially went after Frieri after Mayor Dan Bianchi, realizing the overwhelming dissatisfaction veterans had for the job his agent was doing, proposed creation of a veterans’ services oversight board. One source close to the Administration told us that the board represented Bianchi’s disguised attempt to get Frieri help in a job in which she was “over her head.” Caprari spoke out publicly against the move. Frieri’s critics saw the proposed board as proof of their claims against the veterans’ agent.

According to sources, Bianchi had a meeting/hearing last month at the American Legion hall on Wendell Avenue to discuss the board. About 80 people attended. Roughly 70 of them were against the creation of more bureaucracy and added red tape via the board. The solution wasn’t more bureaucracy but an agent who knew how to do the job. The few who spoke in favor of the board at the meeting — Frieri, at-large councilor Melissa Mazzeo, and 1Berkshire’s Pam Malumphy.

At this point in Hemlock Holmes’ presentation, he reveals the political pressure Kratka caved into: Hemlock Holmes claims it was Pummelin’ Pam Malumphy.

Malumphy, Holmes concludes, was the force twisting Larry Kratka’s arm.

Malumphy Apparently Pressured Kratka, and Larry Meekly Submitted

Pam Malumphy: Mata Hari behind Kratka's decision?

The evidence points to the overwhelmingly likelihood that Malumphy pressured Kratka to assassinate Bill Sturgeon. One city councilor talked of a political “troika” of Malumphy, Mazzeo, and Frieri. The first two were solid supporters of their “WHEN sister” in her $48,000 job as vets’ agent, not because she was good at the job but because of loyalty to the sorority.

Why Kratka fears Malumphy and didn’t stand up to her pressure is open to conjecture, but Malumphy and Mazzeo, according to sources, feared that Sturgeon would ramp up his criticism of Frieri on his new show at WTBR, where he would be unfettered and non-sponsored. Being free of the commercial pressures of AM radio and “a nervous” ownership, Sturgeon would pull out all stops to get Frieri booted. That’s when Malumphy acted, according to sources.

We also share this. Sources at our former radio home, WBRK, tell us that when Sturgeon began to criticize Frieri, Pummelin’ Pam, through surrogates, called station president Chip Hodgkins to complain. Sources at WBEC say Malumphy did the same at Vox. That would explain why Kratka caved into pressure: He was afraid that his general manager, Peter Barry, would listen to the complaints. Not wanting to jeopardize his job, he chose to pull the trigger against Sturgeon.

PLANET tried to Solicit Comment from Malumphy, and She Replied, Off the Record

It’s interesting that Sturgeon posted in the comments section to this website the express view that Malumphy had nothing to do with his firing. At the time, the comment struck us as odd, as if Malumphy had contacted Bill and “protested her innocence” to throw this investigation off the track. She doth protested too loudly. The investigated intensified.

Frieri did not return our e-mail seeking comment. Mazzeo got back to us from Washington, DC, where she was chaperoning a field trip of school children to Washington, D.C. She had little to say, up or down. Malumphy responded to THE PLANET’s inquiry off the record. Without breaking confidence, we can say that Pam’s response did not deny that she was the person behind Kratka’s decision to pull Sturgeon.

We also find the timing of all this interesting. Malumphy’s position as an economic development assistant at 1Berkshire is funded by a grant. That grant, the 1Berkshire website informs us, expires at the end of this month. Has she been told her position has not been renewed? Is that why she’s lashing out? We say this because our 1Berkshire sources tell us CEO Stuart Chase gave the position to Malumphy in the first place on strict condition that she refrain from politics — especially her shrill brand of slash and burn politics. Is that what emboldened her? Or is her position safe, and she simply decided monkey with politics again.

Veterans ‘Just Want Someone Who Won’t Screw Up’

Malumphy is a talented woman, full of energy and ambition. Channeled in the right way, she could be an asset to the community. But, as her four consecutive failed bids for elective office indicate, her character flaws, however, qualify her abilities. She has burned most all of the bridges that made her relevant in the local political scene. She turns radioactive too easily, as we and many others have experienced.

Again, we would love to have had her on-the-record input on this story, but non communicado is tough to get around.

Incidentally, the City Council later killed Bianchi’s proposed veteran’s board. Until Frieri is ousted, it seems veterans will be left to flounder. As to the question of why Bianchi doesn’t simply remove Frieri, we got the answer from the “wise guys” we talked to that it’s because “he doesn’t want to get Pam on his case.”

One office holder told THE PLANET that he’s still hopeful Frieri will be dismissed: “She knows where she’s at. Here’s the worst part of the whole thing. She walks around with a chip on her shoulder. ‘I’m a woman. I’m gay’ She wears these like badges, knowing she’s untouchable. Too bad for the vets. They just want someone who won’t screw things up.”



Special to PLANET VALENTI Sports by The Pittsfield Suns

The Pittsfield Suns were handed their first loss of the season through late inning drama in the ninth against the North Shore Navigators.

Beloved Wahconah Park

The lefty Zach Ferris was the starting pitcher for The Suns as North Shore sent out right hander Adrian Benitez for the start. The Navigators took an early 4-0 lead in the top of the second as Patrick Raley, Brad Elwood, and Alex Markakis each hit an RBI double, with Elwood getting two RBIs in his route to his two-bagger.

In the top half of the fourth, with runners on second and third, Markakis hit a fly ball into right field, where Ricoy was playing. He makes the catch and throws a bullet to home plate and guns down Sam August, who was trying to tag during the play. This play would help change the momentum for the Suns, as they scored 2 runs in their half of the inning.

With the score at 4-2 North Shore in the top of the fifth, Tim Hendricks hit a frozen rope to right-center for an RBI triple, extending the lead now to 5-2.

However, The Suns would bounce back immediately. Pittsfield hit four consecutive singles to force in two runs, one coming in on a throwing error from the right fielder, Sam August. That would be all from the starter Adrian Benitez, as Mike Weisman came in for relief. The Suns would then score two more to end the inning with 4 runs and a 6-5 lead.

In the sixth, both teams got an extra run on the board as Jake McGuiggan hit an RBI triple to deep left-center for the Navigators and Ryan Deitrich hit an RBI single for the Suns.

With the score 7-6 in favor of the Suns in the seventh, Tito Marrero walked, advanced to third on two separate wild pitches, and scored on a throwing error by the catcher, Patrick Raley, to put an insurance run on the scoreboard with it now reading 8-6.

But the Navigators took over. With two outs in the top of the eighth, McGuiggan walked, then Ryan Muno hits a two-run homer into the bullpen in left. Tim Hendricks would later hit an RBI single to put North Shore up 9-8 going into the bottom of half.

From there, Pittsfield would bat around the order and score four runs in the inning through an RBI single from Marrero, a wild pitch, an RBI hit batsman, and an RBI groundout.

Going into the top of the ninth, with Adam Krebs looking to close things out, blows his save, giving up 5 singles and an intentional pass. With the score now tied at 12 a piece, the worst hasn’t come yet. On a 1-2 pitch with two out to Raley and the bases loaded, Krebs throws wild to advance all the runners. Then as Krebs is walking back to the mound, the catcher, Brandan Slattery, throws to the pitcher, who isn’t looking. The ball rolls toward first base as Marrero charges and tries to get the runner coming home on the error, but throws wide, as the final runner advances to third. With the score 14-12, the next pitch is a groundout. A costly wild pitch and two errors in the ninth decided the outcome as the Suns went in order in the ninth.

The game drew 803 fans. The winning pitcher was Ryan Grant, the losing pitcher with a blown save is Adam Krebs, and Tim Cassidy recorded a 1-2-3 inning in the ninth to earn the save. The player of the game was the left fielder Tim Hendricks, who went 4-5 with a triple, walk, and three singles, 2 RBIs, and scored once. Next time out for the Suns will be tomorrow on the road, as they travel to face the 2-0 Torrington Titans with a scheduled first pitch at 1:05 PM.







    June 10, 2012 at 9:41 pm #

    Very very interesting Dan. You will hits some nerves on these subjects. First on Rossane. I also had heard from some Vets. she doesn’t serve them well. Im sure a couple will come and defend her, but talk to the many she doesn’t serve well. Bill Sturgeon and Jack Downey know better than most. They have contact with so many Vets.

    Second. Pam Malumphy is behind this!!! First of all what business does she have to be at all involved in this. How did she have the power to do this. This sinks worst than I thought. All because of someone speaking out for the Vets. This could get real ugly.

    Third: Therfore I would advise Councilor Mazzeo to come clean and whats she knows rights away. then if not involved to distance herself from this. This could become a hot cake that she wants no part of.

    Stay tuned folks could be very interesting, don’t screw with our will be sorry.

    June 10, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

    And to our Mayor, when are you going to get some balls and deal with all these idiots in your administration yes Mr Mayor its your administration now. Remember all those people you told while running for the office of how you would get rid of Ruffer, the Chief and many more. If you don’t remember Mr Mayor they do. And like I stated above this could be a real hot cake, so deal with it, if Roseann isn’t during her job get rid of her.

    • Molly
      June 11, 2012 at 6:33 pm #

      I agree, Concerned! Six months is more than enough time to get rid of the likes of Ruffer, the Acting Chief(s), Collingwood, etc., etc., etc. I’m not seeing any of what Dan and a few others are seeing. I saw him turn his back and look the other way when Alf went against the School Committee vote that took place just days before and posted the Super job in an attempt to hire Malkas (and then she screwed them all!) and he let the School Committee members protect him during all of that. It left me with not much respect for him! Yes, he input himself onto the PEDA board but then what? Have they even met? What, exactly, has happened since? Let’s see – they have refused to answer questions from the City Council and are getting away with it – that’s one thing! He raised the School Department budget by at least $1 million (total yet to be determined!). He has appointed the likes of Carmen Massimiano, Warren Dews (Berk. Eagle), Tricia Farley-Bouvier, etc., to the School Building Needs Commission. He has allowed the Acting Chief of the PPD to cover things up that cast a dark shadow on the entire department, time and time again. He made an executive decision to cancel the first “Third Thursday” and then the next day changed his mind, only to have what police called a riot happen. I have seen him listen to two kids (out of four) that don’t want the Latin program cut and so it now won’t be cut – we’ll have an entire language program to accommodate these four students. So much for “cuts”. He has been a proponent of all new school busses to be purchased this year. He is raising our taxes yet again. Just what, exactly, do you cite as accomplishments, Dan? He didn’t allow Jake to sneak in an extra million into the School Budget – ok, but I would expect that from any mayor. Anything else?

      Anyone know where the FY13 Pittsfield School Budget is located online?

      • danvalenti
        June 11, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

        Many fair points have been raised about Mayor Bianchi’s first six months. I’m of the view that anyone stepping into a new post such as this one needs a full year before we can make these judgments. That being said, many of the points you raise here are valid, especially his appointments. He blew it on Third Thursday. He has to take more of a stand with the school department budget. That’s when he should have fired all his guns at once and exploded into space. One theory is that once he stepped in and realize just how bad things were in terms of incompetence and corruption, he backed off, almost being overwhelmed by where to start. I don’t subscribe to this theory, but at some point, his methodical, low-key method is going to have to adapt to the sporadic, in-your-face situation.

        • Molly
          June 11, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

          Thanks, Dan. Any idea on where to find the FY13 Proposed School Budget on-line? By the way, there haven’t been any meeting minutes of the School Committee posted since May 9th and so I sent an email to Alf today formally requesting that they be posted. I also formally requested to be sent any and all performance reviews done by the School Committee on Dr. Eberwein as they are considered open to the public according to the Open Meeting Laws.

          Also, has anyone seen the “Letter To The Editor” of the BB from Mayor Bianchi regarding “rumors undermine budget process”?

          • taxmano
            June 12, 2012 at 3:01 am #

            Jake III always got absolutely glowing reviews, thanks to a smitten, clueless school committee (pre-Terry). Remember, Dan (Twitchy) Elias once said Jake “has no flaws” when they were going through the charade of an interview for Super during his installation.

        • Levitan
          June 12, 2012 at 6:10 am #

          1 year is too short. Why not just 1 month? Molly has been griping about the Mayor’s performance just 3 months into the job.

          More significant to me is JG’s reporting that the School Committee (Yon in particular) complaining that Bianchi is rigid not agreeable. She prefers Ruberto’s style which apparently was accommodating.

          I think it’s too bad that he should be the object of ridicule and vitriol when the reports show him performing the responsibilities of good governance.

          Let’s reconsider what the objective ultimately is. We want responsible and intelligent people in government to lend insight and direction. That does not define a person who goes in shooting everything in sight and grandstanding to the public.

    • Patrick Henry
      June 12, 2012 at 9:09 am #

      Dan, You do great work. I don’t think Malumphy would deny the Sturgeon debacle and I am sure she had a hand in it. You have all the character villains standing in a joint venture vendetta. They are all have a need to buddy up to the Veteran’s Agent for favors and Freiri has been groomed.

      Sturgeon is a credible source of information and only reiterated what the Vietnam Veterans, the Marine Corps League and dozens of veteran’s have said, Freiri is a phony, they gave her a vote of “No Confidence.” To a valid veteran that means “take a hike.” But the polls do not want to lose a team player, screw what the veterans want. I would say that most signed on and whoever delivered the death message had to have had a coalition of most of the people you mentioned. If not, let them come forth and deny involvement, they won’t.

      What is not said is that 90% of refused claims for veterans is usually the fault of the veteran’s agent and the people that suffer are veterans. The successes the Veterans Agents have is heralded as miracles. Miracles, smiracles, if the veteran has documented claims and all the material submitted is right it should be a slam dunk. That means the Agent did the job they are being paid to do.

      She not only has the photography business and the Veteran’s Service position but she does free lance work for veteran’s issues coming from outside of her district even though it is purported that she cannot handle the Pittsfield office. She solicits work in every town around. Now, if she is supposed to be getting a salary and expenses for a specific job does it seem possible she can take on the extra work and not use the Pittsfield facility at the same time? In any other business that would be larceny, double dipping, but in the Massachusetts VA they are cheered on especially if there are patronizing issues. Of the suspects you mention they all carry each others canteens, if they did not stop the Sturgeon abuse they abetted it. Oh, by-the-way, Ros also commands some phony political fund (PAC) that suspiciously is called a Republican endeavor in Richmond. The balances of the fund were being reported to the state. I guess we cannot get any more political than that? If they audit the VA books I think the political friends will throw her under a bus, the big trick is veteran’s home visits, usually only a phone call.

      Have you attended any veteran’s functions where there are politicians present? The self-back slapping and the sponsoring of self importance is only surpassed by the suck up to local politicians by each other. I usually do some gut retching in the background. Some politicians actually have a function beyond soliciting votes. Believe me, the veterans know. The same as Bill Sturgeon knew and attempted to right some terrible wrongs. Your cast of suspects are all guilty and some are nice people they just got up on the wrong side of the bed and decided to “Kill Bill.” He was an plausible threat.

      All said and done, it won’t put a shine on the Veteran’s Agency sneakers. As for Kratka he should have both knees replaced, the sponge rubber is not working out.

      • danvalenti
        June 12, 2012 at 10:25 am #

        Thank you. You raise the essential point. As I wrote, when I began my probe, I had no idea where it would take me. When all roads led back to the veterans’ issue, it went from a curiosity to an issue of crucial importance. Local veterans are suffering because Frieri is incompetent. She sucked up to the right players, and she got rewarded with her $48K + benefits plum. As you point out, she still runs a photo business and solicits other work. MEMO TO MAYOR BIANCHI: STAND UP FOR VETERANS. Get a new Veterans’ Agent who can help these men and women get what they deserve.

  3. tito
    June 11, 2012 at 4:58 am #

    Attention..the Propaganda hour, also known as adult political controlled radio ( APCR) is having the damage control or anti-reduce your budget Jake hour, which is the main reason the Krol and Sturgeons of the world need to keep off a student programming funded airwave. Kathy Yon shouldn’t be surprised with Mayor Bianchi’s request for reduction in the school budget. No more fluff Mrs. Yon. Our priorities mr. Krol is not to increase the school budget any more and stop the fear mungering, Mrs. Yon, we have heard it all before. The economy will never get better because your throwing money at a budget, because the budget is already over blown to begin with.

    • taxmano
      June 11, 2012 at 5:17 am #

      Kathy Yon is a Jake III loyalist/puppet who will do whatever he says. Did you ever notice how she is absolutely smitten with him? So is Amuso. It’s sickening. How can they objectively assess anything he does or proposes?

  4. nomorebill
    June 11, 2012 at 5:18 am #

    As an interested citizen, I am wondering about the symbiotic reaationship between Dan Valenti, and Bill Sturgeon. Coud it be that Bill Sturgeon afforded Valenti , much needed, air time? Or does it go deeper than that ? Or is it simply that Bill Sturgeon makes Dan ” look ” good on the radio? Whatever it is, Vaenti seems to have a vested interest in getting Sturgeion back on the airwaves. Perhaps we need another PLANET to investigate the odd relationship. A blog named,” Planet Uranus,” comes to mind.

    • danvalenti
      June 11, 2012 at 8:22 am #

      Our relationship is one of colleagues. I didn’t know Bill prior to his joining WBRK. We can assure you, THE PLANET has no interest, vested or otherwise, in Bill Sturgeon’s broadcasting career. We guested on his show, but have also done the same many times on Vox, John Krol’s show on WTBR, and various shows on PCTV. Besides, we haven’t worn a vest since 1979.

  5. tito
    June 11, 2012 at 5:38 am #

    WTBR is being used as a political platform. Why is a former city councilor afforded the luxury to detest the Mayor’s announced reduction for the school budget? Does the former councilor really believe an employee working for General Dynamics, for instance, asked about the schools before taking a job at G D..of course not, in this economy, probably the last thing on ones mind. We need to have a bare bones budget with a strong infrastructure as well as basic services, which are taxpayer funded as well as a strong Police and Fire presence!

    • danvalenti
      June 11, 2012 at 8:19 am #

      Well put, Tito.

  6. Four in one
    June 11, 2012 at 5:54 am #

    Great piece of reporting DV.

    • danvalenti
      June 11, 2012 at 8:19 am #

      Thank you. It’s a complex story, with many facets, many people talking, and many more talking but not going on the record.

  7. Outfox
    June 11, 2012 at 7:12 am #

    Just found out that Pittsfield public schools are serving their students Dominos every Monday. Where are the 150 outraged citizens on this budget issue?

    • Molly
      June 11, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

      We need to do “something” to get the kids to show up at school! Unbelievable!

      • danvalenti
        June 12, 2012 at 6:46 am #

        Yes, sadly, that’s what it has come to. We also need inducements to get kids to read, write, and do math. When the results are so bad, we don’t raise the bar, we lower it, so that it appears more kids are doing well. Crazy.

    • Carol
      June 12, 2012 at 3:55 am #

      I really question the veracity of this claim. I have 3 children in the PPS and have never heard of them having Domino’s pizza.

      • Levitan
        June 12, 2012 at 6:12 am #

        My child gets pizza for lunch in her school too. So what? It gives me an easier Friday morning.

        Don’t any of you have children?

  8. teecha teecha
    June 11, 2012 at 7:33 am #

    This is a bit off topic, but interesting nonetheless.

    Keep in mind if you will, Meredeath Nilan’s saga included serious injury, tampering and cover-up. We all know it was a hit and run. She got charged with misdemeanors and spanked like a 2 year old

    Now read this article. Felony hit and run… yet there were minor injuries and the man may/may not have had a legitimate medical issue.

    How’s that for irony

    • danvalenti
      June 11, 2012 at 8:18 am #

      Thanks. irony noted.

  9. Dawn
    June 11, 2012 at 7:56 am #

    Wasn’t Counselor Mazzeo a frequent guest on Bills show?

    • danvalenti
      June 11, 2012 at 8:17 am #

      That is correct, but then they had a falling out over the veterans’ issue.

  10. Jim Gleason
    June 11, 2012 at 11:22 am #

    Dan, if a hurricane and massive floods came through Pittsfield It would be Pam’s fault according to your interpretation. You two don’t get along, let it go. It has never been a crime, but rather a privilege, to express your views to another person on any subject so why is Pam’s expression of an opinion any different than yours or that of anyone else? She has a right to do and so do you and I, why is it wrong?

    • danvalenti
      June 11, 2012 at 11:55 am #

      Thank you. Your loyalty to a friend is commendable. I get along with Pam just fine. She doesn’t with me, though. Pam has the same right and privilege to express her views as anyone else. Who is arguing that she doesn’t?

    • Levitan
      June 12, 2012 at 6:13 am #


      You made a great post in the E yesterday. Tipping my hat to you.

  11. Ron Kitterman
    June 11, 2012 at 11:48 am #

    Got to hand to Jimmy on this one…

    • Molly
      June 11, 2012 at 9:31 pm #

      I don’t think so. Pam Malumphy is a public figure, who makes a darn good salary paid for by us, and just like any other public figure, is subject to people questioning her decisions and stances, etc. No one has said that she doesn’t have the right to voice her own opinion – she certainly does have that right, and she uses it often, too. Not everyone agrees with her and they, along with those who do agree with her, also have a right to say that, too.

    • Levitan
      June 12, 2012 at 6:15 am #

      PM comes across as a charming woman committed to public service. Who’d be surprised then that she has enemies?

      But, there is the cautionary tale for those who would go into office with a shovel and start digging graves.

      • danvalenti
        June 12, 2012 at 6:41 am #

        How PM comes across in public and how she deals in private are two different matters, as many can attest.

        • Levitan
          June 12, 2012 at 7:11 am #

          I’m in no position to judge her personal/public dealings.

          From my experience, she is someone who will lend an ear and has experience to draw on. I haven’t really heard much here so far that seems like a big deal other than some people don’t like her.

          • danvalenti
            June 12, 2012 at 8:34 am #

            It’s not that people don’t like her. They don’t like her secretive and untrustworthy manner. It becomes a big deal when she employs that manner in an attempt to influence and sabotage public policy. 1Berkshire must make its own personnel decisions, of course, but we can’t imagine they like being associated with this woman, if from nothing else than a public relations standpoint.

  12. Bill Sturgeon
    June 11, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    I am still processing your investigative report. Some clarifications. I never used the Pittsfield Veterans’ Service Agent’s name “On the Air”. I was outspoken against the new veterans committee that the Mayor was proposing because it wasn’t needed, in the opinion of “MOST” veterans. I believe that the Mayor found this out at a meeting he attended at the Pittsfield Athenaeum, where several veterans spoke out.

    I did talk with Melissa and she told me that she had not called anyone about my being on WTBR, and I believe her. I also spoke with Pam and she told me that she did call Larry and the principal of THS – Not about my being on WTBR – but about taking the “Air” time from the students. I don’t think that Melissa Mazzeo and I have had a falling out over the VSA issue. Rather, I think we agree to disagree on the subject. To the best of my knowledge, Melissa and Pam are still on friendly terms with me.

    I agree with your comments regarding Peter Berry. His job is to protect what is good for his stations. WBEC is in business to make money by having good programming so that the station can develop a strong sponsor base.

    I still don’t believe that Larry K. is coming clean with the names of all the players. It is my hope that at the next School Committee Meeting, some of the members will have the courage to insist upon getting the names of those behind this skullduggery from Larry and the Principal of THS.

    As you have pointed out in past articles about this topic, it ‘s not about me; it’s about the process and the sleazy backdoor trickery that is still going on in Pittsfield.

    I commend the investigation by Hemlock Holmes.

    • danvalenti
      June 11, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

      Appreciate the input. That’s another piece of evidence: Pam admitted to you she talked to Larry. I would submit that her topic with him included your show. Glad to hear your still friends with Melissa. As for Pam, a word of caution: Watch your back. She had a history of histrionics to so-called friends. As for Peter Barry, he was totally justified in reading Larry the riot act. Kratka is luck he still has a job with what he pulled. I share you view that Larry hasn’t come clean, namely because he hasn’t. He hasn’t named ANY names, and for a so called journalist to act in this way is reprehensible. I have lost all professional respect for him. And final thought is right on the button: “It’s about the process and the sleazy backdoor trickery that is still going on in Pittsfield.”

  13. Chet Hunter
    June 11, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    Dan. I’m taking a poll How many bloggers have actually listen to or even car about WTBR?

    • Beacon Hill Mob
      June 11, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

      I wish we still had WGRG

      • danvalenti
        June 11, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

        Great, great station! I made my first radio appearance there, in 1972.

    • Home Run
      June 11, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

      Chet- again you miss the point! Are you suggesting that if only one person listens to the radio station that Dan should not report the level of corruption taking place around this proposed show? It seems odd to me that so many including Larry have been so vested in killing this show. It begs the question why and revels another case of corruption in this city.

      Are you suggesting that if no one wittnesses such wrong doings that indeed they may as well have not taken place? It is kinda like the way the UEP and School dept operates.
      – by keeping people in the dark. Let’s parade some more Latin class students in public to portray the UEP’s and school dept agenda. One should never know by the belly aching going in that the city HAS increased the funding of the schools by 1 million dollars . The fact that they want more and poor kids would suffer is all that us portrayed. The UEP and school dept should be ashamed if themselves to hide behind kids in order to get a bigger piece if the for for adults in the UEP and admin.This us not about kids in Latin class it IS about covering UEP pay raises.

      Shame in you and all others acting in this way Chet!

      Dan – keep up the good reporting on the level of corruption in this city and school dept when it comes to our tax dollars! And all the attempts by many at censorship.

      Go Dan Go! Chet keep up your poll work! But remember- You can not stop the public in this city from seeking the truth.

    • Jim Gleason
      June 11, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

      I listen to WTBR almost exclusively and have contributed to it in the past. It features the best rock and roll music anywhere around here, some played by kids,some by adult DJ’s and some by a computer. I DO care about TBR and if some of you listened to it you would too.Don’t knock it before you try it Chet, or whatever your name is.

      • Molly
        June 11, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

        I care about the students having access to WTBR, and although I don’t give a hoot about Sturgeon’s show, I do care, a lot, about the level of corruption that continues to exist in this city.

  14. Dawn
    June 11, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    Yeah what about the principle? Why wasn’t he/she on the list if suspects?

    • danvalenti
      June 11, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

      That was an oversight. Yes, John Vosburgh should have been on the list. His name came up, but not enough hard evidence to take it anywhere. Larry Kratka should come forward and reveal who was behind this, definitively, once and for all, whether it was Pummelin’ Pam, which our investigation points to, or someone else.

  15. Scott
    June 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    I like Peter Barry actually I applied for an advertising job years ago at the radio station and instead of hiring me he gave me advise in business as we discussed my goals of starting a business of my own during the interview. Turns out he was right there was a need for my particular business in this community and 8 years later I’m still doing it. Who would have though one would ever be thankful for not being awarded a job by someone. Along with the advice he gave me a lead to do work for his brother which panned out I did the job made some money and the rest is history.

    • danvalenti
      June 11, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

      I like and respect Peter Barry as well. I have found him to be straightforward, the kind of man who lets you know where you stand. He’s a talented exec, and he had every right to be ripped at Kratka for not informing him of his plans for Bill Sturgeon at WTBR.

      • Scott
        June 11, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

        I respect him for seeing something in me and encouraging me to go into business myself even though he could have gave me the job and used my skills for the gain of his company you don’t see that a lot in business. I never did take out that radio add though.

  16. Ron Kitterman
    June 11, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    Very good investigative reporting Dan, hats off to Hemlock Holmes he answered all the basics Who, what, where, WHEN, and how. I guess the only people you can fire are unpaid volunteers, ( Bill Sturgeon) But everyone else seems pretty safe in their jobs and probably up for a raise. Maybe Obama was right the private sector is doing fine. The Wisconsin doesn’t seem to fit here ?

    • Scott
      June 11, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

      private companies and the selected few at the top of corporations never suffer during tough economic times. It’s only the working poor and middle class that get squeezed. You’re better off either being rich or flat broke.

    • danvalenti
      June 11, 2012 at 7:10 pm #

      Thanks, Ron. Hemlock answered the call and them some. The Wisconsin Model fits here, but it won’t be allowed to fit here as long as people stay out of the political process by refusing to participate in THEIR government and leave it to the skunks to spray on them.

  17. Jonathan Melle
    June 11, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

    Jack Downing never served in the military. Jack Downing is NOT a Veteran. As CEO of Soldier On, Jack Downing has given Peter Larkin, who is a GE lobbyist, over $150,000 instead of using the taxpayer money to help homeless and at-risk Veterans. That is the real problem in Pittsfield. Jimmy Ruberto was a lousy mayor who did not care about Veterans. That’s why Ruberto let go Larry Caprari as Veterans Rep and hired his crony Roseanne Frieri. Dan Bianchi is a Veteran. Mayor Bianchi cares about Veterans.

    • Levitan
      June 12, 2012 at 6:17 am #

      I’m with you on JD.

  18. Not buying it
    June 11, 2012 at 8:01 pm #


    I have never met or spoken with you or any other person involved in this drama.

    If you are right, you just presented a strong case that a new set of power brokers is in charge of the Pitt. Apparently the GOGs have displaced the GOBs. According to Hemlock Holmes, your sources, wise guys, unnamed elected official, unnamed city councilor, unnamed broadcast sources and others, TCB, MM, RF and PM strike fear in the hearts of all who dare cross them. The concept that PM could make a couple of calls to commercial radio executives through “surrogates” and that was enough to have LK quiver and cave, is absurd. If it turns out to be the case, then the only one who pulled the trigger on BS was LK, in a twisted sense of self preservation. If true, LK might feel more at home in Florida.

    I am not convinced that PM is responsible because you just explained to us that she has burned her bridges and may be in jeopardy of losing her own job. You said that she was no longer politically relevant. So help me understand why would PM still hold any influence. Where does her superpower come from? Why are successful business owners feeling any pressure from her? If all this is true, could BS take everyone to court for collusion to violate his right to free speech?

    I think a simple solution at WTBR would be to only allow students as program hosts. Any adults on the air would be invited guests and only participate as interview subjects. No exceptions. If JK and BS want a forum, let it be on PCTV.

    Lastly Dan, you took a really cheap shot at RF with the sexuality reference and chip on the shoulder “quote” from “One office holder”. The info did nothing to move the conversation forward and is just an opinion. I’m sure there are many others with differing opinions. Your conscious choice to include such tabloid worthy bits of sensationalism, could be interpreted that you have a very serious homophobic problem. Maybe you don’t, but maybe you do. Everything here is subject to speculation without any real evidence.

    • danvalenti
      June 12, 2012 at 6:56 am #

      Great post, well written. Allow me to respond, briefly:
      There are GOB and GOGs, as you point out. Nothing new here. The question of Malumphy’s power is a good one with no clear answer. I do know that most of the people who avoid her like the plague do so not so much from fear than from not wanting her in their lives at all. She’s a bitter woman from having lost now four consecutive elections. She can’t handle that, and while she can make kissy in public, she different in private if she has it in for a person. PM did help Melissa Mazzeo and Ro Frieri attain power, and she has some surrogate influence through them, most likely. But to answer the question, I don’t think PM is feared for her power, only for her personality. As for your solution on WTBR, I agree. High school radio should be for students, with adults in the background as advisers. PM and I agree on that. As for the cheap shot, I disagree. My source was a key elected official who hold a position of importance in this town. If this person, whose judgment I respect, conveys this information, it becomes relevant. If the perception is that Ro uses her gender and sexuality in such a manner, it becomes relevant and necessary to share, because it goes to the matter of competency in her job. You may interpret what we write in any way you wish. That is your right and your obligation as a reader.

    • Silence Dogood
      June 12, 2012 at 7:22 am #

      I don’t care if a public sector job holder is gay and a woman but if that job holder thinks they deserve special consideration because of their sex or sexual orientation then that is a problem.

      • danvalenti
        June 12, 2012 at 8:31 am #

        Exactly. You judge a public officer holder by the job she does. Her constituents say she’s doing a lousy job. When an important official says the perception is out there that the person thinks she deserves special consideration due to gender and sexual orientation, it’s relevant.

  19. taxmano
    June 12, 2012 at 2:56 am #

    Vosburgh doesn’t say “boo” without the okay of Doug McNally and / or Jake III. He is their boy.

  20. nomorebill
    June 12, 2012 at 3:44 am #

    If anyone is ” PROTESTING TOO LOUDLY ” it is Bill Sturgeon. Or, is there an ulteriror motive? Could it be that Sturgeon and Krol are after Larry Kratka’s job? Isn’t Krol among the unemployed, now ? Krol moves to WBEC, and Sturgeon moves into his chair on WTBR.

    Dan Valenti talks about dirty politics, when the answer could be right in front of him. I often wonder about those making accusations. Are they making a pronouncement about what they are up to ?
    Think about that for awhile!

  21. Scott
    June 12, 2012 at 5:08 am #

    Holy shit the eagle did a piece on what former mayor Ruberto thinks of the school budget and he says just raise the property tax because we’re already paying less then the state averages anyways man am I glad we don’t have this guy anymore. I don’t see why the burden to educate the rest of the populations children is out on people who either don’t have children or choose to make other arrangements for their own children s education.

    • Michael Hitchcock
      June 12, 2012 at 5:19 am #

      Because we all pay for education one way or another anyway. You obviously could use some more. You’re coming off as a selfish, uninformed fool.

      Your choices are as follows:

      Pay a modest fee for universal education now while children are young enough to be shaped into civilized adults.

      Pay a huge fee later in terms of policing, prisons, social services for those without job skills, and in higher crime rates committed by a section of the population that selfish people such as yourself wanted to abandon.

      To make it easier to understand for you, as you obviously are not so acquainted with education:

      You can pay a little money now to educate everyone or you can educate only a few and pay a lot of money, a lot of time, waste lots of people, and even pay with your blood later.

      Do what you like though.

      • Scott
        June 12, 2012 at 5:54 am #

        I will take the responsibility of educating my children and you take the responsibility of educating yours. What is this propaganda hour? Educated people don’t commit crime all the sudden? I think you’re the one who needs a little more education.

      • joetaxpayer
        June 12, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

        There are already numerous studies that show the amount of money has no bearing on the quality of education.Of course the teachers union would never say that.We could pull the plug on full day pre-k (expensive daycare),close one of the 8 city elementary schools.Some of the smaller schools have well under 300 students and would have little impact on the other 7 schools.Privatize as many positons as possible to save on benefits.Or your idea give them a blank check and watch them go wild.

        • danvalenti
          June 12, 2012 at 6:04 pm #

          Well said, Joe.

    • Ed
      June 12, 2012 at 5:43 am #

      Ruberto and his easily recognizable cronies on the city council will always be in favor of increased taxes, fees, fines, etc. There is never enough money to satisfy greed and the rotten under current of malfeasance, corruption, and kick backs. I recall a very poignant caption on another forum that stated’ ” JOHN KROL, the TAX INCREASE COUNCILOR.” “KROL NEVER MET A TAX INCREASE HE DIDN”T LIKE”.
      “Right honorable friend” or not; how about objectively reviewing his and others’ voting records. Are the real facts and records just too telling to be made public ?
      Excuse me, but my daughter and grandson just told me they are moving South for one reason only. No real jobs available here and they are worn out filling out lame applications and the high paying retail and service jobs here don’t cut it. This Mountain One bru ha ha is a sham. Did anyone notice that the BB or any of the speakers didn’t address the number of new jobs this glorious building on the PEDA site created. I’m so glad it has lots of steel and a metal roof. Wow orgasm.
      Bianchi’s warm up time is over. He needs to wake up and act like a mayor. He needs to create his own administration and team. Politics runs on competent patronage, This obviously scares the current mayor.

      • Scott
        June 12, 2012 at 5:57 am #

        I agree but look at the mind set from above we’re dealing with Michael Hitchcock acts as if we’re not already funding the public school system. I pay tax and I pay to send my kids to another school maybe it’s time the parents with kids in public school start getting a little more involved????

        • Michael Hitchcock
          June 12, 2012 at 6:07 am #

          You sure move the bar around a lot.

          You are hereby banned from ever officiating a sporting event.

          ie. You’re not very good at forming coherent argument. I’ll leave you to your reactionary idiocy (and hope you are one of those nice Scotts I know in real life)

  22. Scott
    June 12, 2012 at 5:17 am #

    Looks like the eagle is doing damage control today as well how can this clown take an immense amount of pressure and not know where it’s coming from? These a holes don’t want any informed citizen on the airwaves with access to the public it’s why they hate this site so much and write it off as just a blogg with bloggers.

  23. Bull Durham
    June 12, 2012 at 6:25 am #

    So, Larry’s story, according to the BB is… Several names of prominent Sturgeon critics have surfaced, but Kratka said that while he has heard that discussion, he has no way to verify the accuracy of the speculation.

    “I don’t have the facts about who was doing this,” Kratka said, “but I was getting all kinds of grief. They don’t pay me enough to go through that.”

    How exactly do you receive all kinds of pressure and not know who it is that is pressuring you? Does he honestly believe we’re supposed to think that this political pressure was somewhere in the air hovering over him, but he didn’t know where it came from? He didn’t receive any direct calls? He just heard about this so-called pressure from… where? Larry’s story just keeps getting better and better (sarcasm intended).

    • danvalenti
      June 12, 2012 at 6:40 am #

      Exactly. He expects us to believe this: That he was under fierce pressure, enough to get him to sell out his principles and his word, and he “doesn’t have the facts” about who was behind it.” Ridiculous.

  24. Jim Gleason
    June 12, 2012 at 7:32 am #

    Rudolph the Red Nosed Markham is on with Donna TR right now, 10 am, to be followed by Johnny boy Krawl.What a pair to beat a full house.

    • Chet Hunter
      June 12, 2012 at 8:18 am #

      So Markham is Rudolph the red nosed, so what’s that make you jstumpy Gleason ? Come on Jim quit the name calling and grow up!

      • danvalenti
        June 12, 2012 at 8:29 am #

        THE PLANET asks both of you, “Chet” and Jim, to keep the name calling in check.

        • dusty
          June 12, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

          …but Pummlin Pam is OK right?

  25. Ray Ovac
    June 12, 2012 at 11:27 pm #

    DV, lemme see if I got this right. Pittsfield’s ground and air are poisoned, its populace shrinking, and a once-thriving local economy is adrift if not dying altogether. Yet, all the city’s ‘best and brightest’ can find time to do is to protect mediocrity and real incompetence. And when given the opportunity, no one — NO ONE — displays even a modicum of personal integrity by which to do anything about it. Palookaville.

    • danvalenti
      June 13, 2012 at 8:23 am #

      You words pretty much sum it up.

  26. Jake Scace
    June 21, 2012 at 8:11 am #

    “Another source shared a specific example of how Frieri lets details slip by. At the city’s Memorial Day ceremony, one of the speakers — following remarks prepared by or at least given under the direction of Frieri — called State Sen. Ben Downing “Matt Downing” and State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier “Don Bouvier.” These gaffes were done to the embarrassment of all. Did Freiri review the remarks prior to them being given? Obviously not. Small thing.”

    To whomever wrote this, please get the facts straight before bashing someone on an social media website.

    I was the speaker at the Memorial Day Ceremony. No one ever contacted me before making said allegations, leaving them strictly opinion. First off, Rosanne gave me a rough idea of how the ceremony was supposed to go. From there, I changed it since this was the first time that I was going to be speaking in front of such a large crowd. While making my introductions, I said “State Senator Matt Downing” (whom I apologized to at my next possible opportuniy. He said there was no harm done) because I met a soldier in Afghanistan towards the end of the deployment (which I returned home from 3 months ago) whose name was Spc. Matt Downing. I apologize if I offended anyone at the ceremony that day for confusing the names of a senator and a soldier. Second, Rosanne didn’t review my mistakes because I told her that I could handle it. Obviously I was wrong. Before the ceremony, she asked about 3 or 4 times if she could see it, or if I could email it, so she could review it. I didn’t. I procrastinated to the point where I was driving a truck down North Street trying to remember the names. I was nervous. So if you’re going to bash someone, please direct it at me. Say whatever you will. But please get your facts straight before accusing someone of something that wasn’t their fault.

    • danvalenti
      June 21, 2012 at 9:45 am #

      Thanks for sharing this, but you confirm the point that was made: Frieri allowed you fly solo. A good leader would not have allowed this. She would have reviewed and vetted your remarks. You procrastinated and you were nervous, and both are understandable. They don’t change the facts, however, about the botched names. Our facts were and are accurate. As the veterans’ director, these accusations are proper, since it was her fault. Such is the price of leadership.