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STURGEON LANDS NEW RADIO GIG … TODAY IS FLAG DAY, AND THE PLANET OBSERVES WITH AN OPEN LETTER TO MAYOR BIANCHI REGARDING THE VETERANS’ AGENT IN PITTSFIELD: ‘GET A NEW ONE, MR. MAYOR’ … A FLAG DAY POEM FROM LONG AGO … plus … GUEST COLUMNIST SHARES HER ‘PRIMORDIAL, PATRIOTIC HOLLER’

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, JUNE 14, 2012) — We lead with this item. Sources tell us that beginning Wednesday, June 20, ex-WBRK and never-WTBR talkmeister Bill Sturgeon will begin a new show on WRRS 104.3 FM. His show will be part of the Berkshire Talking Chronicle, a program of the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Berkshire County.

THE PLANET knows little about the station, except that given the recent controversy, Sturgeon ought to bring some listeners with him. Sturge’s first few shows ought to be interesting, given that he’ll likely be loaded for bear … or Larry, or Pam, or whomever else was, to use Kratka’s word, “terrified” of his new show.

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FLAG DAY TODAY ARRIVES AT AN OPPORTUNE TIME

Today is Flag Day. It arrives as an opportune and  portentious time, given the precarious state of veterans’ affairs in the City of Pittsfield. There, the men and women who answered the call must depend on what sources and local veterans call an administratively incompetent woman who secured the position of veterans’ agent largely based on her political loyalty to the previous administration.

This is the testimony from the overwhelming majority of veterans who have expressed a view on the performance of Roanne Frieri at veterans’ agent. Again, as we pointed out yesterday, this is not a personal criticism of Frieri, who by many accounts is a “good person.” The crticism relates simply and solely to her job as veteran’s agent. The advocacy for veterans’ rights demands a caring, effective, focused, and administratively competent person. Veterans deserve no less than that.

In this light, we send an open letter to Mayor Dan Bianchi:

Dear Mr. Mayor: 

Recently, you attempted to create an advisory board to assist the city’s veterans’ agent, Rosanne Frieri, in the administration of her duties. Sources, including members of your administration, say this was your attempt to assist Ms. Frieri in doing a job that she cannot adequately do on her own. 

At the American Legion meeting, you were able to gauge the overwhelming sense of dissatisfaction on the part of veterans for the job Ms. Frieri has done and is doing on their behalf. They obviously share your belief that Ms. Frieri’s work in the veterans’ office has been unsatisfactory.

We do not have to remind you how important it is that we have a strong, capable, and forceful advocate for our veterans in helping them secure 100% of the rights and benefits we owe them for their service to the nation. On behalf of local veterans and on this Flag Day, therefore, we ask that you remove Ms. Frieri from her position, effective either immediately or upon securing a successor. You might want to consider an interim director or the advisory board you sought to create as a means of staffing the office in the meantime, prior to the appointment of a new agent.

We ask this in the name of all veterans who depend on the Pittsfield office. We look forward to your prompt action in this matter.

Sincerely,

DAN VALENTI

—– 00 —–

With this letter, we hope to convey to the Administration the importance of addressing this issue. THE PLANET also encourages any readers who share this view to use our letter as a guide or template, write their own version, and send it to the mayor. If you think Frieri is doing a good job, write to the mayor and tell him that, too.

His address is dbianchi@pittsfieldch.com. Postal address is Daniel L. Bianchi, Mayor, City Hall, 70 Allen St., Pittsfield, MA 01201. The phone number is 413-499-9321. The FAX number is 413-499-9493.

Contact information for Rosanne Frieri should you wish to contact her directly is rfreiri@pittsfieldch.com. Postal c/o of her name, Veterans’ Services, City Hall, Room 204m 70 Allen St., Pittsfield, Mass., 01201. Frieri’s phone number is 413-499-9433. FAX is 413-499-9798.

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FLAG DAY: ‘STRIPES STOKED IN RIPPLES OF WHITE AND OF RED’

On this day 127 years ago, Bernard Cigrand, a 19 year old teacher at Stony Hill School, Waubeka, Wis., set a 10-inch by 38-inch American flag on a stand in his desk. He then assigned students an essay on the significance of the Stars and Stripes. Cigrand based his assignment on the actions of the U.S. Congress on June 14, 1777, to adopt the Stars and Stripes as the flag of the United States of America.

Cigrand became a tireless promoter of Flag Day, and at the age of 50, he witnessed President Woodrow Wilson issue a proclamation calling for a nationwide observance of Flag Day. Wilson signed the proclamation on May 30, 1916. In 1949, President Harry Truman signed an act of congress settling the day as June 14 of each year.

From our childhood, we share a treasured poem. We recall reciting this poem for our fifth grade end-of-school-year assembly. It was through poetry such as this that we fell in love with words:

THE NAME OF OLD GLORY 

by James Whitcomb Riley

Old Glory! say, who,
By the ships and the crew,
And the long, blended ranks of the gray and the blue,
Who gave you, Old Glory, the name that you bear
With such pride everywhere
As you cast yourself free to the rapturous air
And leap out full-length, as we’re wanting you to?
Who gave you that name, with the ring of the same,
And the honor and fame so becoming to you?
Your stripes stroked in ripples of white and of red,
With your stars at their glittering best overhead
By day or by night
Their delightfulest light
Laughing down from their little square heaven of blue!
Who gave you the name of Old Glory? – say, who
Who gave you the name of Old Glory?
The old banner lifted, and altering then
In vague lisps and whispers fell silent again.

II

Old Glory,–speak out!–we are asking about
How you happened to “favor” a name, so to say,
That sounds so familiar and careless and gay
As we cheer it and shout in our wild breezy way
We-the crowd, every man of us, calling you that
We-Tom, Dick, and Harry-each swinging his hat
And hurrahing “Old Glory!” like you were our kin,
When-Lord!-we all know we’re as common as sin!
And yet it just seems like you humor us all
And waft us your thanks, as we hail you and fall
Into line, with you over us, waving us on
Where our glorified, sanctified betters have gone,
And this is the reason we’re wanting to know
(And we’re wanting it so!
Where our own fathers went we are willing to go.)
Who gave you the name of Old Glory O-ho!
Who gave you the name of Old Glory?
The old flag unfurled with a billowy thrill
For an instant, then wistfully sighed and was still.

III

Old Glory: the story we’re wanting to hear
Is what the plain facts of your christening were,
For your name–just to hear it.
Repeat it, and cheer it, ‘s a tang to the spirit
As salty as a tear;
And seeing you fly, and the boys marching by,
There’s a shout in the throat and a blur in the eye
And an aching to live for you always-or die,
If, dying, we still keep you waving on high.
And so, by our love
For you, floating above,
And the sears of all wars and the sorrows thereof,
Who gave you the name of Old Glory, and why
Are we thrilled at the name of Old Glory?
Then the old banner leaped, like a sail in the blast,
And fluttered an audible answer at last.

IV

And it spake, with a shake of the voice, and it said:
By the driven snow-white and the living blood-red
Of my bars, and their heaven of stars overhead
By the symbol conjoined of them all, skyward cast,
As I float from the steeple, or flap at the mast,
Or droop o’er the sod where the long grasses nod,
My name is as old as the glory of God.
…So I came by the name of Old Glory.

—– 00 —–

Each year, THE PLANET tries to read at least once the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Lincoln‘s Gettysburg Address. We include this poem on June 14.

The words of these seminal documents should give us pause. We need to reflect upon the nature of our government. Unless we understand the rights and duties of citizenship, unless we realize that WE THE PEOPLE own the government, and unless we act upon that realization, we shall be doomed as a city, a state, and a nation. The slippage continues as a more alarming pace every year. These documents contain the answer.

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GUEST COLUMN: “A PRIMORDIAL, PATRIOTIC HOLLER’

By JOANNA MAY

Don’t get me wrong, I love America. Washington D.C. and all those founding fathers, colonial Williamsburg and History Channel specials. I love red, white and blue, the 4th of July, Jack Bauer, and all things patriotic. I even categorically dislike France to show my support. I love morality, decency, democracy, politics, and activism. I have a hankering for law and upholding the Constitution. I love the Declaration of Independence, and Lincoln’s second inaugural address. Everyone in my family was in the military going back generations and in my upbringing, patriotism was a sub-point to godliness. Even writing this, I am reminded at how much I love this country. But.

Maybe that’s always been the problem. There’s just this lingering question in my mind, “Is this the way of Christ?”

I think there’s something in the heart of man longing to be joined to an epic cause, a fight worth fighting, a transcendent belief. That desire to smear on some war paint and lift your sword in the air, holler a primordial holler, and fight for freedom. To hear the anthem swell, the slow-motion action sequence, the victory montage. Raaawwwwrr.

Something about all that is very satisfying, but not very Christ-like. 

Sometimes when I read about the martyrs, I inadvertently begin to rewrite their story: “And suddenly, their chains burst from their wrists. Paul and Silas grabbed the battle axe hanging on the wall and moved with decisive agility toward the heathen guards. Swing, slop, chop, [cue epic music] FREEDOM!!” Oh wait, that didn’t happen. I’m beginning to notice that what I esteem isn’t what the Lord does, and I think this will affect more of my life than a possible career future at CTU.

I realize you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. Well here enters this post.

Recently I was speaking with a pastor whose political views I would describe as “God and Country zealotry.” In the course of our conversation, which had taken its typical political turn, he said, “We must defend Freedom, Democracy and Capitalism in the name of Christ.”

That is quite a claim. But is it true? Must Rousseau freedom, Jeffersonian democracy and Laissez-faire capitalism be defended in the name of Christ? Let’s think about it for a moment.

Freedom. It’s the promise of every empire. It’s what Rome and all the rest promise. And it’s always what we go to war for. Freedom. Political Freedom. Economic Freedom. Individual Freedom. “The land of the free and the home of the brave.” The vocabulary of patriotic fervor. As if there were no Freedom until Jeffersonian democracy arrived on the scene. So what was Jesus talking about? Jesus and Paul seemed to have a thing or two to say about Liberty and Freedom, but they never breathed a word about political democracy or economic capitalism. Have we been seduced by the blandishments of empire? America may be a kinder, gentler Babylon, maybe the kindest, gentlest Babylon there’s ever been (though native Americans and African slaves may beg to differ, not to mention the civilians of Hiroshima and Nagasaki). Be that as it may, America is still a Babylon. And as such it has nothing to do with the kingdom of Christ…other than to be a rival.

Democracy. I agree with Winston Churchill. “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for any other.” Where I disagree with Churchill is his assumption that democracy is the way to bring goodness to the world. I disagree with Churchill because I am unwilling to kill on behalf of the state. And in the end democracy requires this. (In the end the beast is always red in tooth and claw.) I realize most post-Constantine Christians are willing to kill on behalf of the state—especially if they are citizens of a currently reigning or aspiring empire. But this has been one of our biggest problems. The early (pre-Constantine) Christians had a different view on the matter. It’s interesting how gaga many Christians can be about the early church, but choke on the apostolic and patristic view of empire.

Capitalism. It works. It works because it takes into account the primary motivation of fallen humans: pride and greed. Marx mistakenly thought people would willingly serve the state. They will not. They’ll serve themselves and their families. What was missing from Marx’s equation was love. And absent the motive of altruistic love Marxism becomes the cruelest form of totalitarianism. And the missing element in the Marxist equation—self-sacrificing love—comes only from the Holy Spirit. Capitalism works because it taps the energy of fallen man and is preferable because it better diffuses power—and power among fallen man is always best diffused. But capitalism is not the kingdom of Jesus. Jesus did not teach socialist economics or capitalistic economics. Jesus taught love economics. But he made no (zero!) effort to enforce his love economics on the wider culture (Jewish or Roman). And Jesus certainly did not endorse the implementation and protection of political or economic systems through force (i.e. violence). Jesus was content to form an alternative society of those who professed faithful allegiance to the Son of Man. These would become the true sons and daughters of the kingdom of heaven. The grand paradox is that Jesus won his kingdom by submitting to a state sponsored execution; by laying down his life and trusting God to raise him from the dead.

It should be noted that the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is the final damning indictment upon the ethics of empire. Rome claimed to stand for freedom, peace and justice—but in the name of their empire they murdered the Son of God. The religious leaders of Jerusalem were co-conspirators in the imperial crime of deicide because they too were “practical men” who had pledged their allegiance to the empire. Witness their allegiance: “We have no king but Caesar.” In that moment they completely betrayed their WWMD? wristbands (What Would Moses Do?).

Allegiance to empire is the result of the idolatrous worship of pragmatism. “This is just the way the real world works.” But I reject the “real world” and its bloody pragmatism. I know my position is radical. So be it. I believe it to be radically Christian. Dangerously radical. Why, it could get a man crucified. Or if he happens to be a citizen of the empire, perhaps just mercifully beheaded. We must realize that the Roman Empire didn’t kill Christians for religious reasons. Rome couldn’t care less about personal religious preference. The Roman world had plenty of religious liberty. (It was during medieval Christendom that religious liberty was lost.) The apostles and early Christian martyrs were executed, not for religious reasons, but for political reasons. For confessing that Christ was emperor and not Caesar. For preaching the gospel of the Pax Cristus instead of the Pax Romana. Will we dare to preach the gospel of the Pax Cristus instead of the Pax Americana?

I’ve got nothing against America. It’s a fine empire. I’m a citizen and a beneficiary of its prosperity. And I certainly have enough patriotism to cheer for America in the Olympics. But America is not the agency through which the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ is brought to the nations. The liberation of the nations through the proclamation of the gospel is the mission of the church! God didn’t “raise up America.” Every empire engages in that kind of propaganda. God raised Christ from the dead and poured out the Holy Spirit upon body of Christ—the church. Nationality doesn’t mean a thing. God’s nationalistic agenda ended with Christ. Now his agenda is advanced through the global church. National identity is utterly insignificant. Oh, I understand that to the nations of the world it’s everything. Indeed, they’ll kill for it—go “shock and awe” on their enemies with their hand on their heart pledging allegiance. But that’s just it, they’re the nations of the world and not yet disciples of Jesus Christ.

Jesus didn’t “shock and awe” his enemies. He forgave them and allowed himself to be crucified (when he could have summoned an army of angels). Why? You can’t win a war that way! You’ve got to kill the enemy s.o.b. (to paraphrase General Patton). But as Christians we believe that Jesus did win a war that way. We believe he won the whole world that way. We do believe that, don’t we? We do believe that Jesus won, don’t we? We do believe that Jesus is Lord, don’t we? We do believe that Jesus currently reigns as King of Kings, Lord of Lords, President of Presidents, Prime Minister of Prime Ministers, don’t we?

And since (if) we believe that Jesus is Lord, we’re not all that concerned about what Caesar does or what empire claims to rule the world these days. They’re all impostors.

Jesus is Lord.

It’s a political statement.

I’m a radical. Or at least I’m trying to be. A dangerous, kingdom of God radical. The empire should be wary of me and my kind. Sure, we are productive, law abiding citizens—harmless as doves. But our ideas are subversive. They are the seeds of the kingdom that grows by night. Our ideas about Jesus and his alternative way are the leaven in the imperial dough. They are the radical Jesus ideas that subvert the false pretense of empire. Caesar doesn’t save, Christ does. Caesar isn’t Lord, Christ is. The empire doesn’t bring peace, justice and freedom, the kingdom of our Lord does.

I am a radical.

I will not adapt the radical kingdom gospel of Jesus Christ to the self-serving values of the empire and conspire to turn Christianity into a civic religion of the state. That’s the whore riding the back of the beast. Which has been ever popular these past seventeen centuries.

I am a radical.

Out of wisdom and a desire to be effective (and perhaps from a sense of self-preservation) I tell it slant. Like Jesus did. Parable, allegory, allusion and story work better than in your face prose (as I am recklessly doing here). I tell it slant, but I tell it. I tell it because of what I have seen. The empires of this world are beastly. All of them. Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, France, Germany, Britain, Russia—America too. But the Lamb has conquered. Worthy is the Lamb.

I am a radical.

I’m not taking the easy road and I’m not playing it safe. My conservative friends think I’m liberal. My liberal friends think I’m conservative. I am neither. I’m totally off the charts. I’ve opted out of the illusion that politics of either stripe even has the possibility of being faithful to Christ.

This is my confession. It comes from what I have seen. The empires of this world are beasts, but the Lamb—the little lamb as if slain—has conquered. It’s the absurd comedy of God. It’s our gospel. It’s the hope of the world. You can see it too, if you want to. But you have to really want to see. Because it will cost you.

Vicit agnus noster, eum sequamur.

Our Lamb has conquered, let us follow him.

Confession of a Radical by Brian Zahnd

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THE PLANET thanks Ms. May for her essay.

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DO NOT IGNORE THE SLIGHTEST OPPORTUNITY TO PRACTICE VIRTUE, MY DEAR FRIENDS. HAPPY RED, WHITE, AND BLUE.

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

52 Responses to “STURGEON LANDS NEW RADIO GIG … TODAY IS FLAG DAY, AND THE PLANET OBSERVES WITH AN OPEN LETTER TO MAYOR BIANCHI REGARDING THE VETERANS’ AGENT IN PITTSFIELD: ‘GET A NEW ONE, MR. MAYOR’ … A FLAG DAY POEM FROM LONG AGO … plus … GUEST COLUMNIST SHARES HER ‘PRIMORDIAL, PATRIOTIC HOLLER’”

  1. Ray Ovac
    June 14, 2012 at 7:19 am #

    DV, did Rosanne Frieri ever serve in the US Armed Forces?
    Isn’t it normal operating procedure for the person appointed Veterans agent to have at least served in the US military?
    If Frieri never served in the military, then why in blazes was she ever appointed to her position in the first place and how did that appointment come to be? It would seem that a little digging into the nature of this political appointment would be in order.

  2. Still wondering
    June 14, 2012 at 7:33 am #

    Ray, do your homework before writing stuff like this.

    • Chet Murphy
      June 14, 2012 at 8:05 am #

      SW Typical Blogging, write what ever you want but don’t check anything for fact! Of couarse Ms. Frieri served in the military Mr Ovac that has to be the dumbest question ever! A veterans agent who never served our country , come on really?

      • Ray Ovac
        June 14, 2012 at 9:47 am #

        In none of what has been written so far was there any mention of Frieri’s military service. Where and when did she serve, who was responsible for appointing her Veterans agent, and if indeed she’s proven incompetent in fulfilling the responsibilities, then how does the city go about replacing Frieri in the position?

        • danvalenti
          June 14, 2012 at 10:29 am #

          RAY
          Reasonable questions that not everyone is expected to know. This is from her website created for her failed campaign for stae rep several years ago: “For over 20 years, I have served my country in several military branches. In 1990, I joined the Navy for a 5 year enlistment while still employed as an industrial photographer at the General Electric Company. It was my opportunity to continue my education and travel the world. Thereafter, I joined the the Air Force Reserve for 2 years. The remainder of my service has been with the Massachusetts Air National Guard (ANG) , at Barnes Air National Guard Base, in Westfield MA. Today, I have achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant.

          Currently, at the Barnes ANG base, I am a member of the Public Affairs Staff which reports directly to the Wing Commander. My section is responsible for media coverage, correspondence, general base information, scheduling fly-overs of the F-15s during Memorial Day, Veterans’ Day, and July 4th parades. This has been a rewarding experience, which has provided me the honor to serve my country while building character and integrity demanded by military life.”

          She was appointed to the veterans position by then-mayor Jim Ruberto, in September 2011.

          Most of the complaints veterans have are her lack of administrative ability and lack of time put in on the job. A related concern are the hours she puts into her own private-sector photography business and how many hours if any come while she should be on the job for veterans.

          I’m not entirely sure of the protocol, but I believe as a mayoral appointee, she can be removed by the mayor. Not sure if council has to approve.

          • Bull Durham
            June 14, 2012 at 10:42 am #

            Dan, yes Ray’s initial question was ‘reasonable,’ but he then went on to a rash assumption that she has not served. “Isn’t it normal operating procedure for the person appointed Veterans agent to have at least served in the US military? If Frieri never served in the military, then why in blazes was she ever appointed to her position in the first place and how did that appointment come to be?” Those words are not reasonable. They are accusatory without ever knowing the facts first and I don’t think he can explain away those comments.

            Regardless of what anyone may think of her service as Veterans Agent, no one can question her commitment to serving our country in the military.

          • danvalenti
            June 14, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

            BULL
            And no one has questioned that commitment. What’s being questioned is her ability as an administrator. Most observers in a position to know say she is incapable in that area. It doesn’t make her a bad person. It makes her a bad administrator.

          • Ray Ovac
            June 14, 2012 at 11:24 am #

            Bull Durham, you’re right. I forgot to include the obvious follow-up question. So here is the corrected version:
            If Frieri never served in the military, then why in blazes was she ever appointed to her position in the first place and how did that appointment come to be?
            If Frieri did serve in the military, then why in blazes was she ever appointed to a position for which her actual performance has proven the lady so unqualified?
            It would seem that a little digging into the nature of this political appointment would be in order.

          • Molly
            June 14, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

            She was only appointed in September, 2011? Is this a typo? If not, then why not give her the full year to show what she can do as you insist on with the leader of the entire city? Also, can you share just how many veterans have made complaints? And have these been formal complaints or just whining?

          • danvalenti
            June 14, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

            No, she was appointed before that. This was her reappointment. Not sure, but I think she’s been on the job since ’08.

  3. tito
    June 14, 2012 at 7:39 am #

    Congrats to Bill on his new gig! On a side note, the new show @ WBRK is very good, WBRK made a good choice in D T R!

    • joetaxpayer
      June 14, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

      tito you cannot be talking about DTR SHOW that my friend is a boring show.Not much substance to the program,stop listening a while ago.

  4. nomorebill
    June 14, 2012 at 7:47 am #

    MR VALENTI,
    WHERE DOES IT END? YOU NOW SPEAK ON BEHALF OF VETERANS? WERE YOU A VETERAN? DID YOU SERVE? THE MORE I READ YOUR BLOG, THE MORE I THINK YOU HAVE LOST IT. ROSEANNE FRIERI DID SERVE IN THE MILITARY!

    IT’S EVIDENT TO ME THAT YOU ARE DOING BILL STURGEON’S BIDDING. HE TOO, CRITICIZED MS FRIERI. AND YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT.

    THE VETERAN’S SERVICE AGENT AND OFFICE IS A FUNCTION OF THE STATE. THEY REIMBURSE THE CITY FOR NEARLY ALL OF THE EXPENDITURES MADE. I HAVE YET TO HEAR A COMPLAINT ABOUT MS FRIERI’S PERFORMANCE, OTHER THAN FROM YOU, AND BILL STURGEON.

    PERHAPS IT’S TIME TO PUT STURGEON BACK ON THE RADIO. BETTER TO ALLOW THE PEOPLE TO HEAR HIM MAKING A FOOL OF HIMSELF. HE CERTAINLY IS MAKING A FOOL OF YOU!

  5. danvalenti
    June 14, 2012 at 8:55 am #

    NO MORE
    If you will calm down for a moment, you will see that it was not THE PLANET who asked about RF’s military service. It was a reader. God forbid that not everyone in the world knows about a person’s military background. God forbid an innocent, honest question. Apparently, you were not at the meeting at the American Legion referred to in today’s PLANET. There were plenty of veterans who spoke out against the job RF is doing on their behalf. Veterans’ advocates such as Jack Downing and others do not like the job she’s doing. You would be more effective in your argument by more use of logic and getting rid of the ALL CAPS.

    • Jonathan Melle
      June 14, 2012 at 10:29 am #

      Dear Dan,
      DId you know that Jack Downing never served in the military? Jack Downing is a Non-Veteran. Jack Downing gave over $150,000 to GE Lobbyist Peter Larkin out of taxpayer funds designated to homeless Veterans. Jack Downing is the phony!
      Jack Downing is a political hack for Carmen Massimiano. In 2005, Pittsfield awarded Carmen Massimiano Veteran of the year award. Like Jack Downing, Carmen Massimiano is a Non-Veteran. Why don’t you cover Jack Downing instead of Rosanne Frieri?
      Sincerely,
      Jonathan Melle
      Disabled Veteran

      • danvalenti
        June 14, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

        JONATHAN
        The issue in this case isn’t Jack downing. It’s simply the ability of Rosanne Frieri as an administrator. Is she competent or not?

        • Jonathan Melle
          June 14, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

          Dear Dan,
          I posted a news article from 4 years ago where Dan Bianchi suggested Rosanne Frieri ask Jack Downing for help in managing the city’s Veterans caseload. This problem has been going on for a long time.
          Best regards,
          Jonathan

          • danvalenti
            June 14, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

            Thanks, Jonathan.

        • Molly
          June 15, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

          True, but the fact that Jack Downing makes over $189,000 a year is more than troubling to me, and is a much bigger issue than RF.

    • Jim Gleason
      June 14, 2012 at 11:31 am #

      Jack Downing has yet to attain the title of excuse for a man. He is as crooked as the day is long. Send your spies to look in to his past and current activities “representing” veterans. If you do this you wont be using him as an example for credibility, rather one of shame.

      • Jonathan Melle
        June 14, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

        Since 2001, Jack Downing is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the United Veterans of America, Inc., which is now called Soldier On. He works with state and federal agencies to assist homeless Veterans. S.O. is a nonprofit agency that houses and assists homeless veterans. It also provides counseling, health care, job training and transitional housing for veterans. The facility’s entire budget is about $7 million and serves more than 300 veterans. Jack Downing is also a member of the Eastern Regional Advisory Board of the US Catholic Charismatic Renewal, and he was a Berkshire County Deputy Sheriff for former-Sheriff Carmen Massimiano.

        —–

        “Jack Downing, a non-veteran, and UVA or SO (United Veterans Association or Soldier On), or whatever he calls himself, does nothing to help veterans that we know of in Northern Berkshire…Soldier On is not a veterans’ organization, and Jack Downing is not a veteran.” – Mike Chalifoux

        —–

        NEWS ARTICLE:
        “Pittsfield departments clear budget hurdle”
        By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff, Wednesday, June 04, 2008

        The Veterans’ Services budget generated the most discussion last night, as the council defeated by a vote of 6-5 a motion by Maffuccio to cut by half a proposed $26,630 salary for a new administrative assistant position.

        Veterans’ Agent Rosanne M. Frieri had requested the additional position to help handle a client list she said has increased from 26 to 62 cases. Frieri, the only full-time employee, said her office has had a difficult time keeping up with the paperwork for veterans for whom the city provides financial aid. Program expenses have increased from $100,000 during the current fiscal year to $230,000 in Ruberto’s proposed spending plan.

        Although the city is reimbursed 75 percent of the funding that it authorizes for veterans’ financial aid, it has not received that sum in a timely fashion because the increased workload has left the office behind in paperwork.

        “The office is extremely busy,” Frieri said. “Every person we see requires an application. They have to be investigated on a three-month basis. It’s a tremendous amount of work for one person to make sure people are on and off the rolls at the proper times.”

        In asking for the salary cut, Maffuccio said the city should not be hiring full-time employees while the economy is struggling.

        During discussion, Frieri said that 30 to 40 of the cases her office is handling are from veterans living at the Soldier On facility on West Housatonic Street. Many of those veterans do not come from Pittsfield.

        Instead of hiring a second full-time employee, Ward 6 Councilor Daniel L. Bianchi suggested that the city should ask Soldier On’s President and CEO John F. Downing Jr. to share some of the responsibility.

        “I think they should be helping out, and I think there should really be some discussion,” Bianchi said, addressing Frieri directly. “They have been good neighbors and a good organization, but it’s burdened you as a veterans’ agent. You’ve got to ask him to pitch in.”

        —–

        • GMHeller
          June 14, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

          ‘Soldier On’ looks to be another of those ‘not-for-profit’ organizations where the CEO is not amongst the underpaid.
          John Downing’s salary for Fiscal 2011 is reported as $189,000.
          Also, isn’t SO where Angelo Stracuzzi has now found employment?
          SEE:
          http://www2.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2011/043/240/2011-043240461-07e50634-9.pdf

          • Molly
            June 14, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

            What? $189,000?? Has this been verified? I don’t think that R.F.’s salary of $48,000 is a very big salary…

  6. Ron Kitterman
    June 14, 2012 at 9:27 am #

    Good for Bill Sturgeon, I know him to be a huge supported of the veterans and he does have his following. As far as the veterans service issue, why couldn’t the VFW and the ALP look at the Springside House as a home base. The city of Pittsfield has failed to be a good steward of this building that was a gift from the Miller family to be held in perpituity. I know Ms Frieri and Mr Cotton were active in the Harrison house renovations and maybe we could come together as a city to bring about the carousel project and the Springside House in Pittsfield for all of us to enjoy….

    • Jim Gleason
      June 14, 2012 at 11:35 am #

      Great suggestions, Ron, as far as the Springside House. I can remember going there with my Dad when I was a little kid for Little League meetings and activities.It was a grand place and should be returned to that grandeur.

  7. Scott
    June 14, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    The guest writer is confusing patriotism and faith with the industrial military complex and organized religion. They are separate things. But I agree with her it’s disgusting and I think more and more people are waking up. Organized religion from the start saw blood shed when the Roman Catholic church waged war on the Cathers. She is simply listing lies that our gov’t sells the troops and general public to justify the slaughter of people who are just like us for profit and the sustainment of America through acquiring unsustainable resources. Even before Rome all through history there has been blood shed by gov’ts in the name of their God and country.

    • danvalenti
      June 14, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

      SCOTT
      Excellent points.

      • Scott
        June 15, 2012 at 4:44 am #

        Your piece on our country goes along with it too I can’t help but think about Bin Laden and one of his addresses to America and how he talks about this being all our our faults because it is our elected officials who are waging war on the middle east and we are letting it happen because as you said it’s our gov’t and we have accountability for their actions as well as repercussions. It is time for the people to take our country back and worry more about spiritual growth and the quality of life where as now we are mainly focused on financial growth that is the main contributor to poor quality of life around the world.

  8. Magic
    June 14, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

    Great idea for the Springside House and the Carousel

  9. nomorebill
    June 14, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    Mr Valenti,
    My humble apologies for typing in all caps, Sometimes it’s easier to do so. I will agree, God forbid not everyone knows about the next person’s military service, but you were the one who demanded Ms Frieri’s resignation. And Mr Professional Journalist, you never bothered to verify your source. On top of it, you cited Jack Downing as a complainant. Downing never served.

    Check your own sources. Perhaps, you’ll see things more clearly!

    • danvalenti
      June 14, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

      NO MORE
      Forget the all caps. No problem. I did check my source, by the way. And when will you straw graspers realize the debate here isn’t about Jack. It’s about a simple question: Is Frieri competent?

  10. Gene
    June 14, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    thanks DV for the great flag day piece. We have out flag on display but each year we see fewer & feweer. Also thanks for sticking up so strongly for our veterans who only want a fair shake in Pitts. and arent getting that now from the vets agent. Also want to priase Jack Downing a man who again gives to veterans asking little in return. God bless you and the USA.

    • danvalenti
      June 14, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

      Thanks, Gene.

    • Molly
      June 15, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

      He asks for, and gets, over $189,000 in return!!! That is not “asking little in return”…

  11. leekwriter
    June 14, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    Dan,
    You’ve really taken a fall since your glory days writing for “Heavy Truck Salesman” back when. I hope things improve for you soon.
    You’re in my thoughts. Keep on truckin.
    -Leeker

    • Molly
      June 14, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

      Wow And this from “leekwriter”?

    • danvalenti
      June 14, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

      LEEK
      I remember that article well. It was on Freihofer Bakery and Pittsfield Rye Bakery. I wrote it as a favor for my good friend, David Kolman, as I recall, in 1985. I wrote it from the Plaza Hotel in NYC, where I was staying while on another assignment in the Apple. That was a gas, pun intended, to write it. It was one of the more exotic magazines I’ve been published in, and it paid well, more than Playboy!

  12. Heyjude
    June 14, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    Rosanne served our country along with so many others. She was extremely competent when my husband (a veteran of Vietnam) needed guidance. Rosanne has taken a bad rap by Bill Sturgeon and others which she may not deserve. For those who haven’t served, reserve your comments. Rosanne attends and coordinates every one of the Welcome Home to service members (she questoned me as to why we never welcomed home my son from four deployments and wanted to recognize him). She would have led the parade for him as she does for so many others. She marches in all of the parades (makes it a point to be here for each of them.
    God Bless America and all of our military men and women who have served!

    • Chet Hunter
      June 14, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

      Hey Jude. I’d like to thank your son and you for his service to our country It’s too bad that a few bad apples try to spoil the whole bunch. I’m sure ms frieri has helped many, but some times you can’t please everybody .

  13. tito
    June 14, 2012 at 5:28 pm #

    I’m still pissed off at Joe Breault for losing to J you can’t get any lower Lothrop, without question one of the biggest pieces of garbage in the City.

  14. tito
    June 14, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

    I would also like to thank Jake Eberwein for trying to increase the school budget on the backs of personal property taxpayers, when he doesn’t live in the City himself.

    • danvalenti
      June 14, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

      Oh, their aching backs.

    • Scott
      June 15, 2012 at 4:38 am #

      Yeah and don’t forget Ruberto in that too but he does own a house on Spadina pkwy valued at over three hundred thousand.

  15. nomorebill
    June 14, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

    Mr Valenti,
    The answer is , you don’t possess the qualifications to determine if Ms Frieri is competent or not. Nor does Jack Downing. The way I see it is that you are doing Sturgeon’s bidding. He was in the forefront complaining about Ms Frieri, ;and you picked up the ball.

    And no, you didn’t check out your source. You proved it by admitting you didn’t know that Ms Frieri served her country!

    • danvalenti
      June 14, 2012 at 7:46 pm #

      It seems the only proper way to convey this to your density it more blunt language: How [REDACTED] stupid can you be? A commentator questioned that. I’ve known Rosie has served in the military as long as I’ve known Rosie, and that’s at least 10 years. Did I dumb it down enough for you, No More?

      • bobbyd
        June 15, 2012 at 3:44 am #

        While a correction was warranted, I believe you have “resulted” to name-calling.

        Thanks for moving the discussion forward.

      • Scott
        June 15, 2012 at 4:33 am #

        Dan holy crap! (easy)

  16. rick
    June 15, 2012 at 3:09 am #

    jack downing comes from the era of political families that found that staying politically connected pays off. you dont have to run for office to get the big pay day and power. all you have to be is a good soldier and keep in step with the powers to be and you shall receive your just rewards… take a look around in city positions and you will find people in the good paying positions who are connected to past or present admins.yon was the most flagrant of them all, he has since left but not after a ton of controversy. for what jack makes, you could pay 3 vets to cover the ground work of 1 jack, and they have walked in the boots and know what the vets are going thru….. amazing how in pittsfield politics your last name is has a dollar sign behind it…..

  17. nomorebill
    June 15, 2012 at 3:48 am #

    Mr Valenti,
    Hats off to you , MR PROFESSIONAL JOURNALIST. Name calling is the last vestige of the truly desperate. Congratulations for your professionalism and your ability to use vile language, in a weak attempt to advance your failed argument. Perhaps your method of responding is more telling than your response!
    Good luck!

    • danvalenti
      June 15, 2012 at 6:00 am #

      NO MORE
      Thank you, but you know, sometimes you have to explain things with prescient clarity. I have redacted the offending word, for which I apologize.

      • bobbyd
        June 15, 2012 at 6:05 am #

        And I see you also edited “No Moron” to read “No More.”

        Can’t you own your [REDACTED] words?

  18. Heyjude
    June 15, 2012 at 8:22 am #

    Hope you put some money in the swear jar before your editing mind kicked into gear