PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, AUG. 20, 2012) — Here’s a headline you will never see in the Boring Broadsheet:


This is the news out of the Boring Broadsheet, according to a source. As of sometime in September, the newspaper will have eliminated all its graphics department working with online ads. Initially, the BB employed eight people locally to do the work, according to a source at the paper, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Six of those jobs have already been eliminated and shipped overseas. The two remaining people will be out of a job next month. You can imagine the wonders this sort of thing does for morale.

Media NewsGroup, as you may recall from earlier stories in THE PLANET, filed for bankruptcy protection. After the dust had settled, Media NewsGroup found itself part of the Digital First Media empire, a holding company that also includes the Journal Register Company, and Digital First Ventures.

Singleton Singled Out: ‘Such a Caring Man’

John Patton is the CEO of Digital First Media,” the source said. “The company was formed to take over Media NewsGroup and Journal Register newspapers. Affinity, a company out of Chicago with offices in India and the Philippines, will take over the [online] ads. Keep speaking out the truth. The people who are let go were the folks who locally  created the ads that went into the paper . They are out of jobs, just like that. Dean Singleton — such a caring man.”

Singleton made it through Chapter 11 with his title in tact as chairman of MediaNews Group, but now he is just a member of a seven-person group of directors, which itself reports to a 20-man leadership team at Digital First Media. All are men, incidentally.

Our source refers to Digital First as “a hedge fund company.” The source says that Patton “believes the the creative arts (graphic artists) are on the low end of the skill force, hence his decision.  This has resulted in the end of jobs for many local people. Now the North Street business owner can look forward to their ad being designed ‘locally’ in Pune, India. Whatever happened to our local newspaper? I am sure you are not surprised about this, on the day the people in Massachusetts rose up against the Stamp Act. Where are the true voices of the people?”

The true voices of The People? Right here, on THE PLANET.

Will the real Paul Ryan please stand up.

Behind the scenes in the Romney campaign, things aren’t what they seen. Apparently, there’s already been the need for Romney and his advisers to reel in Ryan on the campaign trail. Ryan’s budget proposals, which led to his ascendancy in the GOP, don’t sit well with the Romney brain trust in terms of inserting into the stump speeches. It’s not that they don’t agree with them. Rather, they don’t trust voters to hear the tough love Ryan has proposed for aspects of the economy, including social services and Medicare.

When we first expressed concerns about this, several “experts” were quick to tell us we were wrong. Then we read this over the AP wires:

GLEN ALLEN, Va. (AP) — Mitt Romney wants running mate Paul Ryan to play it safe.

Ryan, the nation’s most controversial budget architect, is often described as the intellectual leader of the House Republican caucus. But Romney’s presidential campaign headquarters in Boston seems, for now, to prefer that the 42-year-old father of three talks about camping and milking cows instead of the fiscal proposals that made him a conservative hero.

Ryan, who wrote a plan to overhaul Medicare as chairman of the House Budget Committee, did not use the word “Medicare” with voters over the first four days as the vice presidential candidate. When he finally touched on the health care insurance program for seniors, he did so only in broad strokes after Romney himself first outlined the campaign’s talking points.

“We will not duck the tough issues,” Ryan said Friday in Virginia. “We will lead.”

But Ryan has been directed to avoid taking questions from reporters who travel with him, and to agree only to a few carefully selected interviews. He is known for sketching budget graphs on napkins to explain his ideas, but this past week it was Romney who used a white board during a news conference to help detail his own plan — one he says is virtually identical to Ryan’s.

“I’m joining the Romney ticket,” Ryan told an Ohio television station this week. “It’s not the other way around. So I’m supporting the Mitt Romney plan.”

Romney’s Best Chance is to Turn Ryan Loose and Let Him Catch Fire

Let THE PLANET tell the campaign something: They stand no chance against President Obama if they “play it safe.” If done properly, the message that the United States needs dramatic action to reel in its massive entitlement obligations can be a winning one. Putting the muzzle on Ryan, forcing him to a set of sanguine, vanilla bullet points, and instructing him to put a piece of hay in his mouth and tell stories of fishing, hunting, and milking cows is going to lose the election.

As it is, Romney’s only chance is in the swing states such as Ohio and Florida. Ryan’s message will play there if it’s delivered forcefully. Romney’s personal campaign style lacks fluidity and flexibility. He’s getting better at it, but Mitt still comes across as too patrician and stiff. Ryan comes across much better as a regular guy. That is no reason to put him in coveralls, however. Instead, it should give the campaign to courage to roll the dice on what he can bring to the ticket.



We repeat: Will the real Paul Ryan please stand up.

Here is another wire report that’s even more troubling, or should we not be surprised at another fancy-dancing national politician caught in the hypocrisy of a lie. Read on:

After repeated denials, Paul Ryan has admitted he requested stimulus cash even after sharply criticizing the program.

As recently as Wednesday in Ohio, Mitt Romney’s running mate told ABC’s Cincinnati affiliate, WCPO, he did not.

“I never asked for stimulus,” Ryan said. “I don’t recall… so I really can’t comment on it. I opposed the stimulus because it doesn’t work, it didn’t work.”

Two years ago, during an interview on WBZ’s NewsRadio he was asked by a caller if he “accepted any money” into his district. Ryan said he did not.

“I’m not one [of those] people who votes for something then writes to the government to ask them to send us money. I did not request any stimulus money,” the congressman answered.

But as we’ve now learned, Ryan did write letters. He did request stimulus funds.

“The Olympics may be over but Paul Ryan could have gotten a gold medal in hypocrisy,” a senior administration official told ABC’s Jake Tapper. “As someone who spends all day every day railing against government spending, but then secretly seeks millions in funds for pet projects, he is as Washington as it gets.”

In 2009, Ryan wrote to Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis asking for stimulus money to cover costs on two energy conservation projects in his home state of Wisconsin. In the letter, Ryan said the funds would help create jobs and reduce “energy consumption” in the state. At least one of the companies received the requested cash.

We can do better than this, America.

Uh, right?



Scott Laugenour of the Green Party is back again where he was two years ago: running to seat a popular incumbent for State Representative in Berkshire County. That would, of course, be William “Smitty” Pignatelli. Last time, Pignatelli defeated Laugenour handily. Will the same happen this time around?

THE PLANET expects this race to be closer. Compared to two years ago:

* Laugenour has more name recognition.

* He is better organized and financed.

* He is a more seasoned campaigner.

* He will get a boost from the anti-incumbent feeling among a growing number of voters.

Of course, he’s still the underdog in this race, and he has to out-campaign, out-hustle, and out-everything Pignatelli if he has a realistic chance of pulling off what would be a stunning upset. It’s more than possible and less than probable. Somewhere in between, there’s a magic zone that spells victory. Basically, everything has to go right.

Incumbents Should ALWAYS be Challenged

THE PLANET loves the fact that the dynastic Pignatelli faces a challenge. Competition forces incumbents to defend their record and look ahead somewhat. It’s always a pathetic sign for electoral health when a candidate, particularly a weak one such as Pittsfield state rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, runs unopposed, as she will in September and November (barring some late-minute dramatics).

For what it’s worth, the Laugenour campaign has picked up the endorsement of the United Auto Workers.  President of the UAW MA State Cap Council, Willie Desnoyers, told Laugenour in a letter dated Aug. 10, 2012 that the UAW is “looking forward to working with you on important issues that concern Massachusetts working families. These issues include quality healthcare and education, along with fair wages and worker’s rights.”

Laugenour said, “We are working hard to bring a choice for real progressive change to voters. I stand for fair taxes and healthcare for all residents in the Commonwealth. Without a good education and jobs-supporting infrastructure the quality of life for the average Massachusetts resident declines. I intend to continue to stand up to business as usual. The choice for the November 6th general election will be between voting to keep things the same or voting for real progressive change. I thank the UAW for recognizing this and for supporting my candidacy.”

Not sure what to make of this news. Endorsements such as this usually mean little, but in this case, it’s curious that the UAW would not go for the incumbent. What it means remains a mystery.


Tomorrow, Larry Kratka Faces the Music at School Committee Meeting

On the agenda of the Pittsfield School Committee is the appearance of WTBR station manager Larry Kratka. The appearance of Kratka was necessitated after he agreed to and then at the last minute canceled Bill Sturgeon‘s show at the station, which broadcasts from a room inside Taconic High School. The station is funded with taxpayer money, which also pays for Kratka’s stipend.

As station manager, Kratka has the right to approve or cancel what he wants, however — and it’s a big however — he has no right to capriciously waste taxpayer money by catering to the hidden and foul interests of unseen political pressure. Kratka admitted that his bizarre cancellation of Sturgeon’s show, coming immediately after a glowing press release he sent out welcoming Sturgeon to the WTBR lineup was due to outside political pressure he received.

Kratka caved into that pressure, something a journalist should never do, and he will have to live with a permanent yellow stain running down his back. To make matters worse, he has consistently refused to name  the person or persons who gave him the offer he couldn’t refuse. Why? Who is he protecting? How does the public know that Kratka isn’t making other decisions out of this same fear.

The school committee must put the question to Kratka point blank. Who put the pressure on you? and Why did you cave in to it? They must not accept anything but the truth.

Kratka has two choices tomorrow night: He can name the people who muscled in on him and reclaim some of his journalistic dignity, or he can continue to play D&D (deaf and dumb) and accept the consequences. The school committee also has two choices: If Kratka sings, it can accept Kratka’s information on the persons involved and issue a formal protest. If Kratka plays D&D, it must immediately fire him at station manager.

The meeting begins tomorrow night at 6 p.m. at PHS.



  1. FPR
    August 21, 2012 at 6:59 am #

    Hey Dan,

    It seems that modern technology has made newspapers obsolete. In this day and age with the internet and tablet PC’s you can get the news and just delete it and move on. The Berkshire Eagle is obsolete and irrelevant.

    You don’t even have to make sure you recycle the waste with the internet. I suppose you can’t line the birdcage or wash your windows or use it for a ground cloth when painting which is all the BB is good for.

    On the Romney/Ryan thing. Mitt Romney has not won anything yet. The Republican National Convention is in about a week. Its going to be interesting what happens because Mittens Romney has cheated Ron Paul out of the people’s votes in almost every State in the Union.

    Ron Paul is still in the race for President of the United States of America. Even as we speak, the RNC is finding ways to NOT seat Ron’s delegates at the convention.

    I’ve never in my life seen such a “rigged” election as this one is.

    Mitt Romney even lost the primary in Massachusetts (His own State) to Ron Paul. The RNC is refusing to seat the delegates from MA.

    Put up against Obama, recent polls reveal Ron Paul would beat Obama by a very large margin.

    The main reason opponents are against Ron is because he will not attack Iran and start WWIII. In fact he wants to bring home troops from all over the world and end all wars. Can you imagine how the economy would improve if we stopped spending all the money on war?

    The very issues Obama won the Presidency on and betrayed his promises, Ron Paul would genuinely carry out.

    • Spectator
      August 21, 2012 at 9:53 am #

      Ahhh but alas, where would electronic media steal their stories from if traditional media like newspapers go away?

  2. Still wondering
    August 21, 2012 at 7:20 am #

    The races for state rep, and congressman are yawners. Greens don’t win elections in Massachusetts and Neal will trounce all comers because of the huge number of voters in the Springfield area. You can bet the ranch on both races.

  3. Dave
    August 21, 2012 at 11:55 am #

    Have you ever tried to conduct business with a company that has moved their customer service to India? The communication barrier is often monumental and often very very frustrating.

    If the BB is moving its graphics department to India, I can only imagine how well working with them to complete graphics for advertisements will go. There will inevitably be a drop in advertising dollars because often people will simply not want to deal with them. A drop in advertising dollars will be another nail in the coffin for that group.

    This is all assuming that the moral aspect of moving local jobs overseas is ignored.

    It is probably time to boycott this paper. As others have said, the day on needing a hardcopy of a newspaper to read is reaching its end.

  4. Dead to Rights
    August 21, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

    The Eagle is on its last legs. It won’t last for another year, that’s what I’m hearing. My neighbor works there.

    Look forward to watching school committee and Mr. Kratkas appearance. He has a lot to explain.

  5. Still wondering
    August 21, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    I wonder what kind of job Bill Everhart will land after the BB folds. There won’t be an Obama Administration to help. But there is always a state job.

  6. tito
    August 21, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    You know it isn’t just about the editor and writers, people are employed at the Berkshire Eagle in many facets, don’t be so hard to prop failure for these employees.

  7. dusty
    August 21, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    Who owns that Gt Barrington newspaper? The Berkshire record? That looks to be a right fine newspaper.We could use one like it that the people of Pittsfield might enjoy and be proud to call their own. Perhaps if the mayor dug into his PEDA pocket money he might give these folks the incentive to buy up the remnants of the Eagle and expand to the north. The bar is pretty low so they have time to tweak and retweak the skeletal remains until it becomes something.

    • Larry
      August 21, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

      Now this is a fantastic idea! You are spot on… The Berkshire Record is a fine newspaper indeed! They report ALL the news!!! The Eagle will not cover the good juicy stories that involve the GOB’s and advertisers.

      These are the stories people want to read…. for example Ms. Nilan runs over some poor fella and leaves him for dead! If not for The Planet this story would never have been covered by The Eagle!

    • ShirleyKnutz
      August 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

      Doesn’t Pittsfield have another paper, the Gazette?

  8. Jonathan Melle
    August 21, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    How come you did not write about the Congressional debate between Congressman Richard Neal and challengers Andrea Nuciforo & Bill Shein? I was excited to read your thoughts. If I lived in Southern Berkshire County, I would oppose Smitty Pignatelli, too. He is a corrupt & insider Good Old Boy politician!

  9. outfox
    August 21, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    On a better note, it looks like the Pittsfield 15s won their game today!

  10. Concern
    August 21, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

    Thanks outfox. Good to hear some good news here once and awhile.

  11. Larry
    August 21, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    When I read your headline;

    Laugenour Vs. Pignatelli: Scott picks up UAW endorsement

    My first impression was Scott Pignatelli picked up the endorsement in his Registry of Deeds race. Perhaps this reflects Scott Laugenours lack of name recognition and Scott Pignatelli’s large name recognition.

  12. gEE Whiz
    August 21, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

    Great post, Planet. We are grateful to you for your honest coverage of the county and city. Have been following with interest your political postings. We shall be voting for Patsy Harris based on your coverage, which is the best weve seen by far. Also, Larry Kratka has to be slinking into that meeting tomorrow. What he did to Bill S was deplorable. He better speak up, tomorrow.

  13. dusty
    August 22, 2012 at 1:31 am #

    Anyone see the last city council meeting? Coincidentally all the GOB councilors lined up on the same side of the peddlers issue. They themselves used to talk about how the old city council was so dysfunctional and now they lose all objectivity and vote in a block. You can’t tell me that one of them would not have felt strongly about taking the opposite view but was afraid to go against what they were told. Is Sherman the new Lee?

  14. Scott
    August 22, 2012 at 4:23 am #

    I will never advertise with the eagle again.

  15. Andy
    August 23, 2012 at 6:44 am #

    When the Eagle was locally owned, it was just that, a locally owned business. The current owners haven’t cared about “locally owned” for years and this is truly, truly sad.