Article

!!PLANET EXCLUSIVE!! PETER MOORE’s FAMILY SPEAKS …THE BATTLE OF LETTERS or WHAT’S A JOURNALIST? WHO’S A JOURNALIST? THE PLANET RESPONDS TO BB EDITORIAL … plus … TWO CASES IN POINT THAT PUTS ‘FREE SPEECH’ TO A TEST (DO YOU DARE TAKE IT?)

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, JULY 13, 2012) — THE PLANET heard from a spokesman for the family of Peter Moore, victim of the negligent driving of Meredith Nilan.

Moore’s laborious recovery from his near-fatal injuries continues on schedule, energized by the fuel injection of family love and the determination of a strong man, who wants to regain as much of his prior life as possible. That prior life includes all the time from Peter Moore’s birth up to approximately 8:15 p.m. on the night of Dec. 8, 2011. That was the night Nilan ran into him with her SUV, after she crossed lanes on Winesap Road, Pittsfield, Mass. This action followed her attendance at a Berkshire Chamber of Commerce Christmas bacanalia, party held earlier that night at a restaurant in Great Barrington.

It’s not easy to recover from a life-changing event like getting run down by a negligent driver. When your neck is broken, when you suffer from traumatic brain injury, when you have broken bones, your have not only the physical recovery but also the mental, emotional, and spiritual one.  Peter Moore is handling that recovery as well as anyone could be expected to do. One thing above all, however, sticks in his craw.

He Can’t, But She Can? What’s Wrong with that Picture?

The Moore family spokesperson said Peter can’t get over the fact that under Commonwealth statute, he had to prove he was capable of operating a motor vehicle safely. His license was suspended for three months, the spokesperson says, until Moore could demonstrate his competence. Meredith Nilan, on the other hand, did not lose her privilege to drive, the spokesperson said.

“Peter fully understands why his license was suspended due to the traumatic brain injury caused by Ms. Nilan,” the spokesperson said. “Moreover, he fully supports the state of Massachusetts mandate that he prove that was capable of operating a motor vehicle before he was allowed to drive one. He just thinks that it’s grossly unfair that the person that caused his predicament was not similarly sanctioned. He was without his license for three months.She wasn’t.”

Fair point. THE PLANET was not aware of the statute regarding brain trauma and driving. It’s reasonable and necessary, of course. We identify with the Moores’ frustration. He, the victim, is assumed to be incapable of driving safely. She, whose negligence factually demonstrated her inability to drive safely, is assumed to be OK. In this particular case, it seems they got it reversed.

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BATTLE OF THE EDITORIALS: PLANET RESPONDS TO THE BB

On Wednesday, the Boring Broadsheet, a newspaper formerly known as the Berkshire Eagle, published the following editorial in response to Judge Mark Mason’s decision Monday in Nilan v. Valenti.

—– 00 —–

Wednesday July 11, 2012

A Central Berkshire District Court judge made the proper call on a First Amendment basis Monday in lifting the harassment prevention order Meredith Nilan had filed against local blogger Dan Valenti. But while it was a victory for Mr. Valenti it was not a victory for all journalists.

Free speech and freedom of the press are concepts at the foundation of our way of life and judges must be careful not to set precedents that threaten them. District Court Judge Bethzaida Sanabria-Vega undermined those principles June 27 when she ordered Mr. Valenti to remove all references to Meredith Nilan, who struck and severely injured a Pittsfield man with her car last December, from his blog, and Central Berkshire District Court Judge Mark Mason’s ruling restored order.

Ms. Nilan is the daughter of Clifford Nilan, the head of the Berkshire Superior Court’s Probation Department, and the initial handling of her case led to considerable Internet speculation about possible favoritism because of her father’s influence. Much of this speculation was unkind and a Las Vegas man who allegedly threatened her life is facing criminal charges. We don’t doubt that Ms. Nilan found this attention to be upsetting, but while she asserted in court she wasn’t there to argue about free speech, that is what this case was indeed about.

Courtesy of the Internet, journalists now come in all stripes, and it is the responsibility of bloggers to act responsibly and

in so do doing protect the right to a free press and not hide behind it. In their battles with the traditional media that they regard as hidebound by all their rules involving fairness and fact-checking, bloggers often walk “a very, very fine line,” as Judge Mason cautioned Mr. Valenti in reference to one of his comments. Irre sponsibly crossing that line can invite court actions that may shake the First Amendment. Monday’s decision was less a journalistic victory than the dodging of a bullet.

As for the Nilan case, it was decided last month when one count of negligent operation of a motor vehicle was continued without a finding for six months and another charge was dismissed. There is really nothing more to be said, or blogged.

—– 00 —–

We responded that day, by e-mail. Not knowing if the BB would not publish our editorial, we present it here (one of the perks about owning your own “newspaper”). As of today, the paper hasn’t.

—– 00 —–

To the Editor:

In response to your July 11 editorial, we agree. Judge Masons decision in Nilan v. Valenti was a victory for the First Amendment and for me. We disagree, however, with your statement: It was not a victory for all journalists.

Do you not understand what and who is a journalist? Not all bloggers are journalists, of course, though they are protected by First Amendment rights of free speech and free press. As back in America’s founding days, anyone who printed a pamphlet or hand wrote a comment on a piece of paper had the right to publish those messages. Today, we have added cyberspace to the traditional media of print and broadcasting.

I have worked in print and broadcast all my professional life. I entered that life having earned masters degree in journalism from Syracuse University. I have published four million words, appeared on radio and TV 4,000 times, and have taught the equivalent of 4,000 college classes in writing, composition, communication, mass media, and journalism. Thats the kind of resume that makes one a journalist.

Judge Masons comment about walking a fine line was directed at one phrase out of the million or so words I have published on PLANET VALENTI. To take it out of context as your editorial does is to distort the meaning of the judge’s comment. I should know. I was in court that day. You werent.

Your statement that the Nilan case has been decided and that [t]here is really nothing more to be said or blogged sadly misses the mark. That attitude has kept your once-proud newspaper in the dumps. Our actions in practicing the art and science of journalism keep our circulation on the rise.

—– 00 —–
Since this case began, traffic on our website has nearly doubled from the nationwide exposure. The “thin line” is one that every investigative reporter must walk to do the job, since, by definition, he or she gets involved with stories where someone is doing something they want covered up. For example, you think Woodward and Bernstein would have broken Watergate if they hadn’t walked that line? As we said, though, the thin line is under-girded by a wide plank, a safety net known as the First Amendment, which guarantees free speech and free press.
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PLANET, ATTORNEY DEL GALLO, DRIVE UP RATINGS ON “GMP”
We started our day with the best “cup of coffee” possible: A live microphone, radio and TV transmission, a hot topic, and one hour of air to fill. This a.m., from 7:30 to 8:30, Attorney Rinaldo Del Gallo, designer of the winning strategy in Nilan v. Valenti, joined THE PLANET sitting in for the hour with John Krol, host of “Good Morning, Pittsfield.” A vigorous, spirited, hopping discussion ensued. We explored some of the many fascinating aspect of the case and its application. We understand that the show will be broadcast again this evening on PCTV. The show presumably also will be available on Pittsfield Community Television‘s website.
This is the latest in a flurry of media interviews — local, regional, and national — that THE PLANET has done since Monday. Interest in this case, as one could expect for a First Amendment matter, has been sky high, as reflected on the huge increase in hits on our site, which Ms. Nilan treated to free worldwide publicity.
———————————————————————-
ANOTHER INTERESTING TEST OF FREE SPEECH
THE PLANET grabbed this from the web today. What struck us is the question of how far can we allow free speech. It’s a question we batted around today on the air with Attorney Del Gallo and Krol. Our personal default setting to “How much freedom” is “As much as possible.” Words can hurt or heal, but only to the extent people invest emotionally in them.
Read this:
Over the past 48 hours, a lot of famous comedians have defended Daniel Tosh’s rape comments. Louis CK, Jim Norton, Patton Oswalt, Dane Cook to name a few. If you’re just catching up with the controversy, here’s a brief recap: Tosh, of Comedy Central’s Tosh O., was called out by a female audience member at a live show for making a lame joke about rape. In response to his female heckler he stopped his performance to say, “ ”Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…” The woman, who recounted the unnervingexperience on her blog, immediately left the show frightened. Tosh, whose fan-base is largely teenage boys, later apologized, kind of. Then came a stream of Twitter reactions, some outraged (a petition with over 20,000 signatures to cancel Tosh O. has been making rounds) others disturbing supportive (from a few young male fans: ”I didn’t think daniel tosh was funny till he made fun of rape” and #iheartrapejokes and “All these people hating on #tosh could really use a good raping”) but the most widespread coverage has been from those fellow famous menwho support the comic’s rights to make rape jokes. 
Did Tosh have the right to say what he said? Yes. Should he be punished by the State for his remarks to the heckler? No, no matter how offensive they were taken to be. This is the type of extreme that raises legitimate questions of censorship, as does the filth found on a daily basis on Topix. When we consider such vitriol and compare it to a fair and honest reporting and discussion of the Nilan-Moore Case, one can easily see the utter ridiculousness of the Nilan action misapplication and abuse of statutory law and a citizen’s unalienable rights.
– 00 –
Then there is this, from the ABC News website today:

A blogger who attacked Sports Illustrated cover girl Kate Upton’s sexy figure, likening the curvy swimsuit model to a cow and a pig, is facing severe backlash for her comments.

The unnamed female blogger, who acknowledges preferring the “skinny aesthetic,” wrote in a July 8 post on the website “Skinny Gurl” that she has been deluged with angry emails and threatened with rape and death.

The controversy first began back in June when the blogger wrote that Upton was “confidently lumbering up the runway like there’s a buffet at the end of it,” and also called her a “little piggie” with “huge thighs, NO waist, big fat floppy boobs, terrible body definition … .”

She continued: “Did you know that humans are 80% genetically identical to cows? Well, allow me to prove it to you… .” That line was followed by an unflattering photo of the back of Upton’s lingerie-clad body on the runway.

—– 00 —–

The vast majority of us would agree with the PLANET that the “Miss Skinny’s” words, though offensive, are protected. So what about the yahoos who got on her site with threats of bodily harm and rape? Is that allowable? Is that actionable? THE PLANET thinks, respectively and respectfully, Yes and No. The First Amendment must allow even the harshest and most offensive comments, all other things being equal.

——————————————————————
THERE WILL BE MORE TO COME LATER TODAY ON THE PLANET, SO KEEP CHECKING.

“TELL ME: SHALL WE GO OR STAY?

SHALL WE ONWARD?

COME ALONG! EVERYTHING AROUND US IS SWEPT CLEAN,
SO FORWARD, ONWARD, FAR AWAY.
IT IS THE WEEKEND, AND WE LEAVE BEHIND THE ROUTINE!”
——————-
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.

 

98 Responses to “!!PLANET EXCLUSIVE!! PETER MOORE’s FAMILY SPEAKS …THE BATTLE OF LETTERS or WHAT’S A JOURNALIST? WHO’S A JOURNALIST? THE PLANET RESPONDS TO BB EDITORIAL … plus … TWO CASES IN POINT THAT PUTS ‘FREE SPEECH’ TO A TEST (DO YOU DARE TAKE IT?)”

  1. Banjo
    July 13, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    Interesting that he couldn’t drive and she could! The “outrage’ mentioning in the story over this case doesn’t end, does it?

    • Spectator
      July 13, 2012 at 10:33 am #

      it will not, and should not end until they are held completely accountable.

      • danvalenti
        July 13, 2012 at 10:51 am #

        “Accountability” SPEC is the key ingredient of good government. It’s been in short supply in Pittsfield, the county seat. Slowly, a little at a time: That’s how you change the scene for the better.

  2. Jim Gleason
    July 13, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    I watched Mr Del Gallo and yourself on the propaganda hour this am, Dan. Mr Krol seemed very concerned over what he could do if someone wrote something he deemed untrue about him on a blog or website, covering with the general question of what can a person do if someone writes untrue things about them on the net.He seemed to have his point of view which, naturally, differed with yours. He’s a smoothy trying to do interviews and not look bad to either side of any discussion, an effort he fails miserably at. Good job this morning Dan. Keep up the stellar effort of defending the regular guys like Peter Moore.

    • Levitan
      July 13, 2012 at 10:55 am #

      Krol may feel uncomfortable with public writing about him, but he should also understand that the public is largely immune against harassment orders, libel complaints, and other sorts of options that he would otherwise feel appropriate.

      Imagine if Bill Clinton or GWB could sue everytime someone ridiculed them or their families.

      • Levitan
        July 13, 2012 at 10:56 am #

        Rather, elected officials may not issue complaints of libel.

        • Bull Durham
          July 13, 2012 at 11:24 am #

          A public official can issue a complaint of libel or slander. They are held to a much higher legal standard, including having to prove that such comments were made “with malice,”, but they are not barred from suing for libel or slander.

          • DD&M, P.C.
            July 13, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

            Anyone, including public figures, can file libel suits. They are, however, notoriously difficult to prove. The overwhelming body of case law shows that the threshold in this area of law is set purposely high, practically out of reach except in the most obvious cases. Even them, the burden remains totally on the plaintiff. Journalists, moreover, have broad protection under First Amendment rights. Interesting to note that Ms. Nilan, legally, would be considered by the court a public figure, as it is both broadly and narrowly defined. Records show she ran for (and it appears she won) elected office running for Democratic committee.

      • Scott
        July 13, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

        The guy who heckled Bristol Palin in a bar and called her mother Satan is now suing her go figure.

  3. Gene
    July 13, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    Your and Mr. Delgallo were excellent today on Tv. Agree with Peter Moore on the driving matter. Also, glad you rebutted the ridiculousEagle editorial with a big dose of common sense. Agree with Jim thanks for helping regular guys.

    • danvalenti
      July 13, 2012 at 10:53 am #

      JIM & GENE
      Glad you enjoyed the show. We discussed important issues. As for the editorial, the most puzzling statement in the BB piece came at the end, where Anonymous wrote that the case is closed, no more reporting, in print, cyberspace, or anywhere else. Amazing! You can’t make that up.

  4. Richard Arnold
    July 13, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    I once had a accident and lost my licence for a year and no one was hurt eather. Jody P should not be given another chance at elective office because she had a life time apoiment and through it away.

  5. Richard Arnold
    July 13, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    I once had a accident and lost my licence for a year and no one was hurt eather. Jody P should not be given another chance at elective office because she had a life time apoiment and through it away.

  6. tito
    July 13, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    You got it Dan! You can’t make that up. What a newspaper.

  7. tito
    July 13, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    Planetarian’s the License Boardis is on Pctv channel18 now, curious to see Mr. Pisani is also back on the board.

  8. Scott
    July 13, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    I heard an anchorwoman saw on the news once that “you have the right to free speech but you have to deal with the consequences of what you say.” That kind of blew me away because isn’t the whole idea not having consequences for what you say? I mean if you tell a guy his woman has a fat *** maybe you’ll get punched in the face but that’s not what she meant.

    • Wilson
      July 13, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

      Well on the one hand people sometimes think that their right to speech extends to making others listen or even agree with them, which of course it doesn’t; on the other hand the truism that “actions have consequences” does not mean those consequences can come from the government, since it is limited to enforcing certain laws.

      • Scott
        July 13, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

        Yeah we’re on the same page.

  9. Scott
    July 13, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

    RE: Berkshire Eagle editorial, no one believes the crap you spew from from foul press.

  10. Scott
    July 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    RE: Berkshire Eagle editorial, no one believes the crap you spew from your* foul press.

    Dan you need an edit option I swear I don’t speak broke English but I’ve been posting on the fly… Peace!

  11. Elizabeth
    July 13, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    “as for the nilan case, it was decided last month that one count of negligent…..blah blah blah….There is really nothing more to be said, or blogged.”hahaha are you kidding me? That is the most arrogant statement I’ve ever heard. Where are we….freaking Cuba??? How dare some stupid, two bit editor (who hides behind anonymity) tell the public when it’s time to shut up and move one. Dan, I hope this never ends until justice is served! The nilan’s are not above the law, and I hope the Moore’s never give up…as hard as it must be for them.

    • GMHeller
      July 14, 2012 at 10:38 am #

      The editor of The Berkshire Eagle’s editorial page is Bill Everhart.
      If the editorial is unsigned, it’s Everhart’s work product.
      Everhart is to the left of Karl Marx.

      • levitan
        July 14, 2012 at 11:12 am #

        Actually, I recall an anonymous editorial endorsing TFB – and that one was contrary to Everhart’s position.

        • levitan
          July 14, 2012 at 11:13 am #

          “Everhart is to the left of KM”

          Does that put him to the right of Buckley?

        • danvalenti
          July 15, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

          If a newspaper of journalist is editorializing, he or she needs to sign the work. Period. Hiding behind anonymity or a newspaper’s banner is lame.

          • levitan
            July 15, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

            Dan, I am not convinced it is fair to pin the editorial on Everhart.

          • danvalenti
            July 16, 2012 at 7:46 am #

            LEV
            I haven’t done that. I honestly don’t know who wrote it. Others have conjectured it was Bill, not me.

  12. chuck garivaltis
    July 13, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

    Recent posts have been so important I hesitate to come in with a sport story. But I will because I think it is of interest.
    I always enjoy and look forward to pieces written by Howard Herman. Thursday nights game between the Pittsfield Suns and Martha’s Vindyard’s Sharks showed the Sharks have no teeth. Or certainly Sharks manager Ernie May has no bite.
    A Pittsfield Suns baserunner made a hard slide into second base and it apperared the runner and second baseman would come to blows. Both benches empitied and ran to support their teammate.This happens often and almost always no fight occurs. In this instance Shark’s manager pulled his team off the field and put them on the bus. In a shocker the umps suspended the game. Why the Suns were not declared the winners I’ll never know.
    Anyone who has ever played on a cow pasture knows if the other team does not show up or quits before the 7th or 9th inning then you win the game.If this is how you play the game nowdays, don’t be aggressive now, it’s no wonder attendence for the past 10 years stinks.
    Once upon a time, not to long ago, ball players (over the age of 12-usually) wore jock straps. Seems to me Sharks manager, Ernie May, prefers G-Strings for his players.

    • joetaxpayer
      July 14, 2012 at 6:36 am #

      Chuck must agree with you.I never read Howards article,but went on the Suns web site to check it out.Weird thing is all the stats for that game are deleted and the Suns have a L.Has the umps names attendance and time of game.You would think that there would be a clear cut rule in the league hand book for this kind of behavior.

      • danvalenti
        July 14, 2012 at 8:01 am #

        CHUCK & JOE
        The rule as I understand it is as Chuck says: If you fail to show up for a game, fail to field a team, or having fielded a team pull the team off the field and refuse to play or continue, you forfeit the game. The other side gets the W, you get the L and all the stats up to that point count. It’s clear and it’s cut. CAn’t fathom how the umpires wouldn’t know this, except that they don’t know the rule book. Imagine, Chuck, umps who don’t know the rules of the game they are officiating. It reads like fiction.

    • Jim Gleason
      July 14, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

      I heartily agree with you, Chuck.When I was growing up if you quit you lost, or if a person got mad and quit he lost his spot that day and was lucky if he got it back for a week or more. Why does the league feel the need to have a meeting to decide what to do. It’s clear and easy, as I said before, you quit you lose. I can remember a couple years ago my nephew was playing a 13 year old Babe Ruth All Star game against North Adams. A NA player was rounding third on his way to score and the coach, audibly enough for us to hear on the opposite sideline, told his runner to take out the catcher at home. There was no play at the plate, the ball was thrown in to second and the run conceded, but the runner still took out the Pittsfield catcher at the ankles, inciting the Pittsfield coaches anger, rightfully so. There was no quitting by the Pittsfield team. They went on to do their talking with their bats and gloves, my nephew getting the winning hit, a bases clearing, three run double down the third bases line. This coach and player for NA were thrown out of the game by the umpires. He now coaches the Mount Greylock JV baseball and NA 15 year old All Stars, which Pittsfield beat by a combined 20-3 score in two games this year in County All Star play. This team outscored its opponents 55-3 in four games in County play. That’s how you respond to dirty play, not by taking your ball and going home. This Pittsfield team is playing in Worcester today to start the State tournament. Please support them and all local kid’s teams as much as you can.

      • Jim Gleason
        July 14, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

        Pittsfield 15′s won 18-5 today. Whoooooo!

  13. The professor (and Mary Ann
    July 13, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

    The BB is completely wrong..the case is not over.The case is the same as it has been for years-the privileged v.the public.In this city the GOB do what the heck serves their purpose-let’s start with a consent decree that is practically a love letter to GE and Mr.Welch,move on to the return of millions for a voter- approved downtown mall,go directly to EV Worldwide,Spice,Workshop Live,and PEDA.Yes,it’s still the same old story.The Eagle cleared the deck of investigative reporters and now rely on the Police blotter and the homogenous wire stories for their daily sheet.It’s a tremendous shame that the BB is no longer a player… The real game of GOB v the public might just be starting.

    • Gray Area
      July 13, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

      I agree! You are spot on. We the people have had enough and things need to start changing for the better.

  14. Gray Area
    July 13, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

    From watching and listening to Krol’s show today, I noticed Krol was clearly trying to defend Nilan. Saying that Dan Valenti was piling-on and so forth. This story should not go away anytime soon. It seems the Pittsfield elitists want to sweep it under the rug. Well I say lets keep the story alive and maybe a national news organization can bring light to the corrupt Pittsfield insiders and expose their dirty laundry.

  15. Sheriff Dawg
    July 13, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    DV and Rinaldo DelGallo rocked today on Krols show. Appalling that Nilan can drive while Mr. Moore couldn’t. A civil case in coming. She will be under oath. Did you drink that night at the party before the accident? Did you drive yourself home? Were you sober when you went back out when you hit Mr. Moore. The quesitons go on and on. thank you DV. thank you atty. Del Gallo. Thank you, the freedoms in America. As the the eagles lame editorial, it speaks for itself. That paper is owned.

  16. ShirleyKnutz
    July 13, 2012 at 6:06 pm #

    Has anyone noticed that Ms. Nilan’s boyfriend’s family was just given a huge tax break on their property in Pittsfield? Maybe this court case was just a distraction for other business.

  17. Kevin
    July 13, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

    Meredith: Keep in mind two words. ‘civil suit’ Thats when you finally get on the stand put underoath and under penalty of perjury you must tell the truth. Good luck. PEter Moore: Get well. Be stgrong, a warrior. Go after it!!!!!!!

  18. Gray Area
    July 13, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    Nothing to see here folks, just move along…

    - The GOB’s

  19. Giacometti
    July 13, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

    Richard Arnold:

    Jody P is not running for office…she is being put up for office by the GOB who want to split the woman vote so that their man
    S Pignatelli gets elected. It’s the oldest trick in the book and one the GOB do all the time. ( remember Peter White vs. TFB . Peter split the male vote that time around) Smarten up……Politics is a game of leverage and is not always what you think it is.

    • dusty
      July 14, 2012 at 5:47 am #

      What do we know about Patsy Harris? She has been actually doing the job for a long time already? Not a GOB stooley? Is she for the people?

    • danvalenti
      July 14, 2012 at 8:04 am #

      Interesting take on an interesting race.

    • skier1
      July 14, 2012 at 8:49 am #

      Jody will make a FANTASTIC Register of Deeds. She was NOT put up by the GOB network to split the vote. She is the most qualified and experienced.

      • Deb S
        July 14, 2012 at 9:54 am #

        My vote is going to Patsy!!! She has been doing the job for years..she has the experience…Jody I’m sure is a nice person but I hardly believe she is the most qualified and experienced person for the job…Pignatelli…why is he running again??? just kidding…he said he knows how to manage…that’s nice..We need someone who can roll up their sleeves and do the work…not just sit in their office and manage…just saying…

      • Bonnie
        July 14, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

        I too think Jody is the woman for the job.

      • Al
        July 16, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

        Patsy Harris will make a FANTASTIC Register of Deeds. She is the most qualified and experienced person for this job. This is not a career change for her. She has been working in the Registry of Deeds for 28 years. Why would we want to take a chance on either of the other candidates. First, they would have to learn the job, which would take years. Perhaps they would not even bother to learn the job! Vote for Patsy – Let her experience work for us!

        • danvalenti
          July 16, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

          AL
          That’s nearly a generation on the job, at the job. The other two candidates will be hard pressed to counter that.

  20. Richard
    July 13, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

    “So what about the yahoos who got on her site with threats of bodily harm and rape? Is that allowable? Is that actionable? THE PLANET thinks, respectively and respectfully, Yes and No. The First Amendment must allow even the harshest and most offensive comments, all other things being equal.”

    Respectfully, I must partially disagree. I think that an opinion, horrible as it may be, is protected free speech. A threat is not. So saying, for example, that either Tosh or those who take offense at his remark should be raped to show them what they’re actually talking about, while a horrible, disgusting opinion, is protected free speech.

    However, when you cross the line and start actually threatening people with bodily harm and rape, when you go beyond hypotheticals and actually say, “I am going to [do something horrible] to [a person],” when you make someone fear for their own safety, that is not protected.

    A vegetarian (for example) has every right to go up to a meat-eater and ask him how much he’d like being caged, force-fed and slaughtered. Actually telling him that you have a cage and butcher knife that you’ll use on him at the first opportunity is a threat, and not acceptable.

    (note: I am an omnivore)

    Admittedly, the line can be thin and blurry between a threat and an opinion. However, clear threats of physical harm can themselves clearly harm a person: they should not be protected.

    • danvalenti
      July 14, 2012 at 8:03 am #

      RICHARD
      Great post. I see your point, but keep in mind the context of Tosh. He’s a comic. He gets heckled. He goes after the heckler and buries her. No reasonable person would take his comeback literally, that is, that he actually wanted a bunch of guys to rape her. He went over the top, but I would argue that he was protected in saying what he did. As you say, the line is often blurry between an actual threat, meant literally, and hyperbole or opinion.

      • Richard
        July 14, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

        Actually, Dan, per the quote at the the top of my post, I was referring to “the yahoos who got on her site with threats of bodily harm and rape.”

        Not that Tosh threatening his audience is right, but my whole post about “threats should not be protected” was in reference to the assertion that the threats on “Miss Skinny’s” webpage are “acceptable.”

        • danvalenti
          July 15, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

          RICHARD
          Understood. Thanks for the clarification. In the case of true threats of bodily harm, the webmaster should have redacted them. They wouldn’t have lasted long on THE PLANET, as was proven in Nilan v. Valenti.

  21. Kevin
    July 14, 2012 at 4:31 am #

    I have a question, in a civil suit what’s is the means of compelling witness testimony? Will the Berkshire Young Professionals be deposed? A bigger question will any of them tell the truth about what they witnessed the evening if 12/8/11?

  22. Pat
    July 14, 2012 at 6:11 am #

    Has anyone read the letter in the Saturday Berkshire Eagle from Arne Waldstein? I didn’t like his trying to portray Dan as an egotist. Dan had no choice, but to respond to Ms. Nilan’s dragging him into court. Nobody in their right mind would enjoy having to spend 8 hours in a courtroom having to defend themselves not to mention having to pay their lawyer.

    The only thing this letter got right was the part about Ms. Nilan keeping her case in the public eye through her own foolish actions. Also the part about the Berkshire Eagle telling everyone to stop talking about the Nilan case since it has been decided while the Eagle blatantly ignores this advice on a daily basis when it comes to their pet progressive issues.

    Also the Eagle decided to print this letter, but didn’t print the letter from Dan. Go figure.

    • levitan
      July 14, 2012 at 11:19 am #

      Going to court is daunting and undesirable for anyone with their head properly screwed on.

    • levitan
      July 14, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

      Actually, I don’t see what you can complain about regarding his letter. It gives a comprehensive view of the latest installment of Nilan Vs. Anybody-at-all from the perspective of someone not following it or the blogs.

  23. Pat
    July 14, 2012 at 6:30 am #

    To go to another issue. Has anyone noticed that the media has had very little to say about the two cities in California that have filed for bankruptcy? What caused this to happen? And why do these cities now have to adopt serious austerity measures to keep themselves afloat? Well, it seems that part of the problem was having to pay high pensions to city workers. Also San Bernardino has an unemployment rate of 15%.

    Is this an example of what could happen to the entire country if we don’t get our act together and adopt some austerity measures of our own. Is paying for a massive health care overhaul something that our government can take on? Is this something that the states can take on since so many are in dire financial straits?

    Of course this conversation will not be happening in the mainstream media because anything that is tainted with any form of negativity will not be mentioned in the months leading up to the presidential election in order to not cast any negative light on Obama and his policies.

    • Ed
      July 14, 2012 at 8:38 am #

      I recall a Pittsfield city council meeting where then councilor, Joe Nichols had questioned the actual accrual of the city’s unfunded liabiliites. Councilor John Krol pontificated that all concerns were unfounded and compared unfunded liabilities to financing a car or mortgaging a house where future revenues are leveraged. I don’t recall the exact meeting, but it is on record. This must mean that Pittsfield’s future is going to be prosperous and bright. It is interesting however, that on many, many, occasions, Mr. Krol has been referred to as the, ” tax increase councilor”.

      • skier1
        July 14, 2012 at 8:53 am #

        maybe this is why Mr. Krol lost his job.

      • levitan
        July 14, 2012 at 11:28 am #

        Comparing a pension fund to a mortgage is pretty amusing. The mortgage liability is balanced by property, hopefully. The pension must be balanced by the value of the pensioners. Are they liquid assets?

      • danvalenti
        July 15, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

        Pittsfield’s unfunded liabilities are in the hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s a red herring to liken these to mortgages. ED points out one reason. There are many other. City officials have been saying for 20 years that the “concerns are unfounded.” They will keep saying that until the house of cards comes tumbling down. Then, Pittsfield will be officially bankrupt. It’s not a matter of “if.” It’s a matter of “when.”

  24. CONCERNED
    July 14, 2012 at 7:04 am #

    Pat the main street media is not covering this. They just don’t want to show how bad the economy is across the country. Why, they must protect the worst president of all times.

  25. GMHeller
    July 14, 2012 at 7:22 am #

    ‘Eagle Focuses on Valenti But Not Nilan’
    SEE:
    http://www.topix.net/forum/city/pittsfield-ma/TDNOASELLD0SQRRLV

    Why has The Berkshire Eagle’s news coverage focused more on journalist defendant Dan Valenti than on hit-run driver Meredith Nilan who is the plaintiff in ‘Nilan vs. Valenti’?
    Note how The Eagle’s news coverage includes a photograph showing Dan Valenti close-up sitting in court whereas the only picture of Ms. Nilan shows her from a distance through courtroom doors standing with her attorney and only a rear view at that.
    Meredith Nilan brought the harassment complaint against Mr. Valenti; Meredith Nilan struck and almost killed Peter Moore leaving him to the fates by the side of the road on a below-freezing Berkshire night; and all The Berkshire Eagle can muster is a close-up of Dan Valenti?

    • dusty
      July 14, 2012 at 7:49 am #

      kinda backfired on them though….his fans love him even more now…the Eagle folk are inadvertently being his PR people

    • levitan
      July 14, 2012 at 11:31 am #

      The focus of the current chapter of Ms Nilan’s life is her latest fast-one with the court. To be fair, I believe the print edition did have a close up of her; at least the free web edition featured a gallery. She does score one point though, unlike Lohan, she did wear decent clothing.

  26. tito
    July 14, 2012 at 7:25 am #

    If you believe Jody is running to get Scott Pignatelli elected you’re way off, Jody is the front runner right now.

    • Dave
      July 15, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

      maybe her house needs major electrical repair so another quid pro quo was in order.

    • Jeff
      July 15, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

      Jody is the front runner??? What Planet do you come from? It’s clearly a two person race…. Neither is named Jody.

  27. Edwardo
    July 14, 2012 at 7:55 am #

    Mr. Valenti defended himself well and with dignity. Ms. Nilan prosecuted him poorly and by bringing more shame upon herself.

  28. Pat
    July 14, 2012 at 8:02 am #

    Thanks to Ed for running the MSNBC piece about the California bankruptcy, but my point is that this should be front page news on every newspaper in the country (not just a back page story or a small bit mentioning that it happened) AND the talking heads should be analyzing this issue on every station because of how serious this problem is becoming and for what may be the first in a series of American cities across the country going bankrupt. You know like the domino effect. FOX News is the only network that has bothered to do this.

    Stockton is a major city in California and this has serious implications for the country.

  29. CONCERNED
    July 14, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

    Pat You are so right!!!!!!!

  30. PITTSFIELD BELIEVER
    July 14, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

    Stockton is not analgous to Pittsfiel, whose finances are in good shape as long as Bianchi doesn’t do something foolish. Have to love Valenti’s flirt with national news but he’s hacking for the Romney campaign. Valenti’s latest brainstorm for Mitt, “The Comeback Team.” Not even original. A rip-off of Clinton 92. As for Meredith she was wrong going that route & people tried to tell her.

  31. tito
    July 14, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

    @ Pittsfield Beleagured, she was going the wrong route.

  32. Elizabeth
    July 14, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

    If anyone wants a cool online news outlet….go to the Drudge Report. Skip the berkshire eagle…unless you like being pissed off.

  33. Fan Dan Go
    July 14, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    Druge Report and the Planet. That’s it for me. Eagle? What’s that?

  34. Hurdygurdy Man
    July 14, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    Hey Believer, normally I say “Don’t stop believing,” but in your case I’ll make an exception. All except your last thought tho.

  35. tito
    July 14, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

    The streets are dangerous out there.

  36. Ariste
    July 14, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

    Inspiring words, DV, on the 1st amendment. Thank you for your brave fight. You gave everyone in the county and country a lesson in civics, journalism, and integrity.

    How unlike Ms. Nilan. Rights cannot and must not be trampled upon by judges ignorant of the law (Vega) or people ignorant of common sense (Nilan). The other heroes in this are your attorneys (Mssrs Del Gallo and Newman) and Judge Mason.

    Truly a historic victory.

    • danvalenti
      July 15, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

      ARISTE
      Judge Vega’s initial ruling has lawyers, judges, and legal scholars scratching their heads. I agree on the nature of this case as historic.

  37. Richard Arnold
    July 15, 2012 at 6:29 am #

    Please don’t confuse me Richard Arnold with Richard 2 different people.

    • danvalenti
      July 15, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

      Yes, and Shakespeare has the best RICHARD III.

  38. tito
    July 15, 2012 at 6:55 am #

    What was Jake Eberwein talking about at the Taconic High commencement?

  39. CH
    July 15, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    Any threat to the 1st Amendment is a threat to all of us. Congratulations to Mr. Valenti for standing tall for freedom. He’s a journalist’s journalist in my humble opinion.

  40. dusty
    July 15, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    So now my understanding is the Patsy Harris has worked in the Register of Deeds office for many years and knows her way around. Usually, cherry jobs like this one coming up are either appointed or funneled to a GOB tool who has no clue about what the job entails and has no serious intention of showing up on a regular basis. So if Patsy Harris winds up with this job it will be unusual for this area to have a quasi political job held by someone who actually has a clue on how to do it.

    Unless someone has a good reason not to vote for her I believe I will give her my vote. I know where Pignatelli is coming from and Jody may be a good second choice but not over someone who has been there 12 years.

    My take on the whole matter for what it is worth.

    • Jeff
      July 15, 2012 at 3:04 pm #

      There shouldn’t even be a position at all in my book! Just another fleecing of the Mass taxpayers!

      • danvalenti
        July 15, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

        With high tech and the nature of the job, JEFF, you are probably correct.

    • danvalenti
      July 15, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

      THE PLANET shall be delving into this race sometime in the near future.

  41. Giacometti
    July 16, 2012 at 12:54 am #

    Patsy Harris is in the job….doing it every day. With her there will be no learning curve. She has the endorsement of the legal community the people who use her services. Jody is a nice person as is Scott Pignatelli, but with Patsy Harris it is a matter of
    just being a nice person….and the job is needed to register the deeds of all land transactions throughout the County. Good luck trying to buy or sell property without a register of deeds with all the regulations in Mass. tax laws. Experience is excellence

    • Levitan
      July 16, 2012 at 8:21 am #

      Not too mention that Jody already has a trackrecord of screwing up.

  42. Giacometti
    July 16, 2012 at 12:58 am #

    Patsy Harris is in the job….doing it every day. With her there will be no learning curve. She has the endorsement of the legal community the people who use her services. Jody is a nice person as is Scott Pignatelli, but with Patsy Harris it is not just about being a nice person….The job is needed to register the deeds of all land transactions throughout the County. Good luck trying to buy or sell property without a register of deeds with all the regulations in Mass. tax laws. Experience is excellence

  43. tito
    July 16, 2012 at 3:52 am #

    Jody is a nice person, and has management skills to match, this isn’t rocket science, you could be the Register of Deeds,Giacometti!

  44. Giacometti
    July 16, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

    Jody had a slip up that cost the city thousands of dollars when she was City Clerk…I’m not sure that’s a sign of good management skills

    • danvalenti
      July 16, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

      That was the botched election, in her first year. It cost taxpayers about $25,000.