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!!PLANET EXCLUSIVE!! PITTSFIELD FIRE DEPARTMENT GOES FROM HOT PINK TO RED HOT IN MALAISE … READ OF SEVERAL MORALE-DRAINING ACTIONS … BARTINI RESPONDS IN ‘STAND-UP’ CONFIRMATION; CZERWINSKI REFUSES OUR REPEATED ATTEMPTS FOR COMMENT … plus … CONTRACTGATE REDUX: CLARIFICATION AND QUESTIONS

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, OCT. 18, 2012) — How ironic, that on the day the Boring Broadsheet kills more valuable news space with a “feel good” picture of the men of the Pittsfield Fire Department wearing hot pink in support of breast-cancer awareness month that THE PLANET should be on to some hot-red news about four disparate departmental items can be tied together by the growing concern at HQ about slumping morale.

We should say at the outset that the Pittsfield Fire Department is one of the better departments in terms of service. That is a testimony more to the men and the sub-command and not to the leadership of the acting chief. Fire fighters serve well, constantly train, and have to be ready at a moment’s notice for most anything. They show up on all medical calls, and they see a lot of people in pain, struggling, at their worse.

THE PLANET admires fire fighters and the job they do for the city. This provides all the more reason to want to see this good department hit even higher levels of perfection, and right now, rather than heading toward a perfect game, they are getting cuffed around a bit, as you shall learn in the following lines.

THE PLANET tried multiple times to solicit comments and reactions from acting fire chief Robert Czerwinski and union head Tim Bartini. The chief dummied up. Bartini, always a stand-up guy when it comes to public comment, responded, for the record, under his own name. That’s the difference between someone who is running sacred and a leader. If Bartini wants to run for chief, he would have THE PLANET’s backing.

As we said, the chief did not respond to any of our inquiries. That being said, if he wishes to comment after the fact, THE PLANET would be more than happy to share what he says with our readers. For that matter, we should be more than happy to convey the thought of any member of the fire department on any of these issues or other ones.

As always, on THE PLANET, our aim is accuracy and truth on behalf of We The People.  We take our role as the Fourth Estate seriously, seeing our job as Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski’s best hope of getting straight information. And don’t expect any of this in the BB, because they don’t care about you at 75 S. Church Street.

More that One Way to Get to San Jose

THE PLANET has obtained this information of the goings on at the PFD over several weeks, working several sources within the department. As best as we could, given the fact that the department head isn’t talking to us, we tried to cross-check the information. We have done that to the best of our ability, giving us and therefore you all good reasons to believe this information is accurate and true.

One last thing about politicians and officials who won’t talk to you: They naively think that if they shut you out, you go away. It may work that way with some journalists but not with THE PLANET. Tim Bartini understands “the game.” He knows the only worse thing for a newsmaker to do when the new is not good, after “No comment,” is to not respond at all.  Robert Czerwinski, apparently, doesn’t get this.

A story is a narrative. As all narratives do, a news story has a destination. The story works by taking the reader somewhere. The destination becomes the fixed point to which all studious and diligent writers and broadcasters travel. It lies in the Land of True. Like all destinations, there are many ways to get there, so when an official doesn’t talk to you, a determined journalist and muckraker finds an alternate route. There are plenty of them for those who have cultivated reliable sources, as THE PLANET has, in every department in town.

It would be as if four travelers wrote of their journey to Pittsfield. One comes from Albany, N.Y., one from Bennington, Vt., one from New York, N.Y., and the fourth from Boston, Mass. Four travelers sharing the same destination: though they end up in the same place, how they got there is vastly different, in each case.

Chief, with all due respect, you seem to be losing command of your department from what the guys tell us, and, trust us, there are firemen willing to spill their frustrations to THE PLANET even though you choose not to share your information and views from the command chair. Fire fighters are for the most part strong, reliable pubic servants. The PFD has many good men. Chief, they deserve better than you are giving them.

ITEM 1 — NOT A GOOD SEASON FOR APPLES

Sources tell THE PLANET that fire fighter Chris Apple has been fired. In telling the story, one source said it’s “nearly impossible” to get fired from the city, “no matter what you do.” What brought about this action? Why would chief Czerwinski do this? Did he do it on his own initiative or on his boss’s orders? The source says Apple was charged with DUI, claiming it was the third such offense. Again, Czerwinski, despite THE PLANET’s multiple requests, did not respond.

Bartini said this: “So your ‘sources’ want to kick a good man when he’s down? This disgusts me. He has a problem and was asked to resign. Chris came to work every day and did hos job. What he did off duty is the issue.”

A source says what peeved some of the men in the department is the question of why Apple got the ax, when others who have had similar problems have been allowed to skate. A source says Apple was “one to complain” about department policies and Czerwinski’s enforcement of them. They agree with Bartini, that Apple was well-liked and did his job to a high degree of professionalism, but from what we heard, it doesn’t appear as if Czerwinski liked the guy.

ITEM 2 — SUSPENSION WITH PAY HAS TURNED INTO A ‘RESIGNATION’ … TO PREVENT A FIRING

Sometime late last year or early this, a member of the Pittsfield Fire Department was arrested and charged with breaking into the Stockbridge Country Club. On March 2, we ran this item:

—– 00 —–

When THE PLANET told you about the suspension without pay of Pittsfield fire fighter Allan Catalano, we laid out the whole shebang as given to us from our inside sources at Fire HQ. The account included police charges stemming from an alleged break-in and theft at the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club. We identified the most newsworthy aspect of this otherwise routine break-in: That the alleged culprit is employed by Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski as a fireman.

When the Boring Broadsheet reported on the alleged theft, it did not mention Catalano’s special relationship with the city. Do you need any more convincing that the GOB, not the BB editors, run that rag of a paper?

Here are the first two paragraphs of the “staff” written piece (no byline, naturally):

Berkshire Eagle Staff
Article ID: 010512B02_art_1.xml
Date: January 5, 2012
Publication: Berkshire Eagle, The (Pittsfield, MA)
Page: B02
STOCKBRIDGE – Two Pittsfield residents are facing felony charges for allegedly breaking into the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club and stealing fees paid by members.
Allan S. Catalano, 34, of Dutchess Avenue and Crystal M. Caparrelli of Superior Street, allegedly were videotaped breaking into a cash box at the indoor archery range on Dec. 23, according to a report released on Wednesday by Stockbridge Police Chief Richard “Rick” Wilcox.

You can’t trust them, folks.

That was the end of our posting of that March day. From PFD sources, we have learned that since  Catalano’s suspension, he’s been drawing a city paycheck. For several months, sources claim, Catalano has been on paid leave. One fire fighter explained that when the firemen would go on calls and happen to pass Catalano, he would give them the bird (what we call the “one-finger peace salute”) and laugh, taunting them. That all came to end, for reasons we don’t fully understand, sometime fairly recently, we believe late summer.

Catalano “resigned,” said sources. He was given that choice or be fired. Again, Czerwinski did not comment. Bartini said, “This fire fighter has a civil service hearing scheduled, but he chose to resign. He was on paid leave, which was the city’s choice. I’m not sure why. This guy’s name was in the Eagle, and [he's] no longer a fire fighter, so I choose not to name him.

Why did Czerwinski suspend Catalano with pay? Was that fair to taxpayers? Was that a good use of the city’s resources? There may be a good reason. If so, we don’t know what it is.

ITEM 3 — PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION

THE PLANET also got word from a PFD source about — guess we should call it — pornography, of all things. Hard to figure, right, in a department with about 90 men, no women, and the expectable and understandable atmosphere of a clubhouse, a stag, and a football locker room. When guys gather in numbers and no women are around, the action can get interesting.

Anyway, we were told that photos taken of young woman who bears strong resemblance to a local woman who has been prominently in the news were pinned to the walls of the squad room. In these photos, a young blonde is depicted sans clothes. The story goes, unconfirmed, that the pictures were released on the Internet by an angry ex-boyfriend. It seems every Smart phone had the set.

We have seen the photos in question. THE PLANET can testify that the pictures do bear a strong resemblance to the local newsmaker, but we could not swear the two women were one and the same. Incidentally, the photos have no interest to us, have no news value, and we have not nor shall we publish them. Whoever the woman is in the photos, we only feel sadness that she would think it was OK to pose this way. We have heard that such posing is common with 20-somethings and younger. A JPEG can never be considered safely private. Whoever she is, she has embarrassed herself enough. THE PLANET has no interest in piling on.

The woman’s identity is irrelevant, of course. Having pictures of naked women hanging on walls of a city office or facility probably violates the  every gender-equity law on the books, carries high risk of sexual harassment lawsuits, and likely would make Gloria Steinem rolling-pin angry. Our source says the photos stayed up, much to the dismay of  members of the department who have greater respect for women and would see the idiocy of such a juvenile, sophomoric display. A captain ordered the men to remove the pictures. They are now nowhere to be seen … in the fire department, at least.

Bartini says they were never anywhere to be seen within the building: “There has been no posting of pictures in the station. That is absurd. What people have on their personal phones I am not privy to.”

After receiving Bartini’s denial, we double-checked with our source(s): “Tim’s denying this to save face. Those pictures were up, no question about it.”

Czerwinski did not return our requests.

ITEM 4 — SMOKING IN THE BOYS ROOM

According to a PFD source, the department has a no-tolerance policy to fire fighters smoking, either on the job or in their personal lives. The policy makes sense, since we all know the health risks associated with cigarettes. Sources with the department say that applicants who smoke disqualify themselves, and they also claim that, according to department rules,  any fire fighter caught smoking in public, on or off the job, will be fired.

Nonetheless, more than a few  fire fighters are smokers say PFD sources, all non-smokers who are “fed up” with department policy being ignored and special breaks given to smokers. What especially “frosts” them, they say, are the men who sneak out back, behind fire department HQ in downtown Pittsfield, to sneak a smoke. Czerwinski, sources say, knows who some of the smokers are but refuses to take action.

When asked how many of the approximately 90 fire fighters smoke, our sources agreed on “about 20 percent.” That amounts to 12-15 members of the force, who should be called in on Rug Row and given a choice: Quit or be fired.

Bartini said, “Any fire fighter hired after 1988 cannot use tobacco products. They would be subject to termination if caught. I will say that everyone knows of this state law and are aware that there have been cases in Massachusetts (not Pittsfield) where the fire fighter or police officer were terminated.” He did not admit there were known smokers on the PFD staff, and, notably, he did not deny our assertion of that, citing our sources.

Czerwinski did not return our reepated requests for comment.

—– 00 —–

 You can imagine the effect all of this unaddressed turmoil has had on morale.  Czerwinski, they say, is popular and well liked by a lot of the men, but there is a growing contingent within the department unhappy with the selective enforcement of policy and “the playing of favorites.”

————————————————————————–

CONTRACTGATE: MAZZEO SAYS SHE DOES NOT KNOW LYNN WHITNEY

THE PLANET has heard from Melissa Mazzeo on the question of whether or not she is friends with Lynn Whitney, the school department employee beneficiary of  up to $150,000 free labor in building her a new house in Pittsfield courtesy of the vocational carpentry students at Taconic High School.

“I do not know Lynn Whitney,” Mazzeo said. “The first time I heard of her was when she addressed the council at our meeting a month ago [Sept. 25].” We thank our Right Honorable Good Friend, the at-large council woman, for this clarification. We also commend her setting the record straight.

In a related matter, THE PLANET pulled the meeting minutes from the school committee’s meeting on Aug. 22. At that meeting, the committee voted, 5-1, to approve Whitney’s contract with the Pittsfield school department. Voting for: Chairman Alf Barbalunga, Jim Conant, Cathy Yon, Mayor Dan Bianchi, and Dan Elias. Voting against, Terry Kinnas. Kathy Amuso did not attend the meeting.

We re-read the minutes, taken by recording secretary Yon. There is this curious section:

Frank Cote talked about the house building project and the steps taken to advertise to get approval for this project. He said this project will afford the students an opportunity to gain technical knowledge as well as 21st Century skills. He said all the skills that the carpentry students are learning tie in with Strand 2 of the Career Technical Carpentry State Frameworks.

Katherine Yon asked how many applicants there were. Mr. Cote said there were two, one for a renovation and one for a complete building project. Those involved with the project believed that building a house would afford a more comprehensive learning experience. Ms. Yon also asked if there was a conflict of interest because the applicant chosen was an employee of the Pittsfield Public Schools. Mr. Cote said that he had consulted with HR, who then spoke with our attorney to make sure there was no conflict.

James Conant wanted to make sure all components were met.

Terry Kinnas voiced his concerns on the project. He said the City Solicitor did not sign off on the project; they were not following the City Charter; and there was no guarantee of financing. Mr. Kinnas said there were inconsistencies with the advertisement and paperwork. He said he would be contacting the City Solicitor’s office, as well as the Attorney General’s office.

Motion by Katherine Yon, seconded by Daniel Elias, that the School Committee approve the 2012-2013 House Building Project, as outlined in Enclosure No. 8, was by vote approved 5-1, with Terry Kinnas casting a dissenting vote (see Pages 67-84).

We direct your attention to the underlined section, put there by THE PLANET: Mr. Cote said that he had consulted with HR, who then spoke with our attorney to make sure there was no conflict.

By “HR,” we assume Cote means “Human Resources.” We also assume he means HR on the school side, not the city side. So here’s the question:

* With whom in “HR” did Cote consult, specifically? We want names. No one on the committee or the city council thought to press on this point, so THE PLANET does. We call upon Cote to tell us the person or persons from HR with whom he spoke, that his statement on Aug. 22 might be verified.

* In that same vein, THE PLANET, on behalf of taxpayers, wants to know who in HR spoke to which attorney to provide assurance “there was no conflict?” Was this the school department’s attorney? The city solicitor? Some other lawyer? Again, name names, Mr. Cote. Also, we ask Cote: Was this “assurance” in writing? Can Cote, someone “in HR,” or an attorney produce a piece of paper telling certifying that the Whitney deal was as pure as the fresh-driven road salt?

We press, because that’s a crucial piece of information. It can shed light on subsequent developments.

—————————————————————————–

LET THE HUMBLE PARTICIPANTS WITH AN AWKWARD SHAME DO GOOD BY STEALTH AND BLUSH TO FIND IT IS NOT FAME. VIRTUE MAY CHOOSE A HIGH OR LOW DEGREE. TIS ALL THE SAME TO VIRTUE … AND TO ME.

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

 

 

77 Responses to “!!PLANET EXCLUSIVE!! PITTSFIELD FIRE DEPARTMENT GOES FROM HOT PINK TO RED HOT IN MALAISE … READ OF SEVERAL MORALE-DRAINING ACTIONS … BARTINI RESPONDS IN ‘STAND-UP’ CONFIRMATION; CZERWINSKI REFUSES OUR REPEATED ATTEMPTS FOR COMMENT … plus … CONTRACTGATE REDUX: CLARIFICATION AND QUESTIONS”

  1. Kevin
    October 18, 2012 at 7:32 am #

    I’m not sure of the PFD union rules but many times members can only be suspended without pay for set periods of time and then they HAVE to be put back on the books, if not terminated during the suspension period. Sometimes cases have to be built before termination can occur, or outcomes of pending criminal cases have to be resolved before action can be taken.

    • danvalenti
      October 18, 2012 at 7:41 am #

      KEVIN
      You make a good point about unions in general, and especially public employee unions. They are loaded irresponsibly in favor of the members and against common sense, which used to be the taxpayers best protection. I say this as a co-erced member of one of the largest public-service unions in the country, to which I pay hundreds in dues each year in tribute. I have no choice in the matter. I speak of the National Education Association.

      • Kevin
        October 18, 2012 at 8:22 am #

        Same boat Dan, I’m in a closed shop union as well, never get a say in who we endorse and it seems that unions protect the Incompetent at the expense of the hard working members at all costs, which in turn hurts the public. Unions changed Labor conditions and served a vital role in the past but what role unions pay moving forward may very well change as in Wisconsin.

  2. levitan
    October 18, 2012 at 7:53 am #

    Dan, I regret this critique, but do have a significant problem with the blending of narrative with news in your commentary. As an example you give a great deal of contextual description of the photo’s identity, but then say, “this is not relevant and we do not know who it is.”

    It appears to me that you are generating interest by saying, “Don’t think about an elephant,” and then say, “See? I explicitly told the reader not to consider that thought.”

    The photo you refer to in this context in any other context is a common ploy of abuse and bullying – that is free dissemination to the complete public of embarrasing images. I’m surprised that you even introduced the subject.

    • danvalenti
      October 18, 2012 at 9:58 am #

      LEV
      Do not regret your critique, however off-target it is.

    • Scott
      October 19, 2012 at 6:14 am #

      This is where Dan’s personal feelings about woman/men, sex and his old style beliefs (nothing wrong with them they appear to work for him.) interfere with what’s really important. To me as entertaining and informative as it was doesn’t shock me we’re living in a crazy time. I do feel it was one more stab at said blonde but I also think he’s walking that line intentionally. We all love the controversy, conspiracies and gossip it’s what keeps even you coming back for more “levitan”.

      • levitan
        October 19, 2012 at 6:37 am #

        No, Scott – the deliberate perpetuation of the sleazy prank is actually ‘over the line’ and unexpected. Gossip and harrassment are dull and I doubt you will find me here again.

        But, before I leave, I add that I have no regrets saying that the public shaming with lewd photographs of a young woman, regardless of age, is harrassment or worse.

        Mark Smith is correct, and his words are wise ones.

        • Wilson
          October 19, 2012 at 7:20 am #

          Did you courageously stand up for Anthony Weiner too?

        • danvalenti
          October 19, 2012 at 7:37 am #

          LEV
          Arrivaderci!

        • Scott
          October 19, 2012 at 11:55 am #

          “levitan” is there any responsibility on the person who allowed photos of them to be taken? You seem to let people off the hook too easy when they’re making poor choices.

          • danvalenti
            October 19, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

            That’s where the responsibility lies, SCOTT: With the person who gave permission for the photos to be taken. “Levitan” doesn’t want to admit that for some reason or other.

      • danvalenti
        October 19, 2012 at 7:42 am #

        SCOTT
        Thanks. I can say we had the photos for some time and did nothing with them. That is still true. We haven’t identified anyone with the pictures, nor will we. Our mention of them, in the most generic of terms without any speculation of identity is proof that, no, it was not “a stab.” We mentioned them only because of how they were involved in a news story about their postings in the fire department. Just this morning (Friday) a PFD source confirmed, again, that the pictures were indeed posted, in the guys’ living quarters of the PFD.

        • Tim Bartini
          October 19, 2012 at 10:25 am #

          Dan. How many times do I have to say this NEVER happened? Your source is not telling the truth. I am willing to meet with you if you would like.

        • Scott
          October 19, 2012 at 11:59 am #

          Fair enough I just got sick of agreeing with you. Tim maybe they weren’t on the wall but I’m sure they made rounds I still don’t get how my neighbor got them. I didn’t see nor did I ask.

  3. Richard Arnold
    October 18, 2012 at 8:03 am #

    I thought that when you had a drinking problem it was considered a disease and a person is supposed to be offered treatment before it gets to a firing point or am I wrong.

    • Tim
      October 21, 2012 at 6:28 am #

      I would say that during the course of 3 dui’s he was probably offered treatment

  4. FPR
    October 18, 2012 at 8:46 am #

    Hey Dan,

    Wow a lot to digest. One thing I find unbelievable is the smoking rule. I’m not a smoker and quite frankly can’t stand the habit. Cigarette smoking was responsible for the death of both my mother and grandfather.

    However, what a person chooses to do on his own time outside of his employment is his business. There has to something extremely wrong with firing or not hiring a person because he or she smokes.

    As long as the person does his job and does not smoke on the job then I don’t see where its any of the Chief’s business. I’d even venture out to say it must violate some laws or the constitution itself.

    • Wilson
      October 18, 2012 at 9:30 am #

      Firefighters’ insurance coverage isn’t suspended at the end of their shift. Taxpayer money flows to them 24 hours per day for the rest of their lives. Also it’s a physical job, and by smoking they may be degrading their performance. Of course if they have extra deductions from their pay to cover any increased risk of disease/death and can pass all physical tests, then I would agree that punishing them is a kind of Puritanism.

      • Kevin
        October 18, 2012 at 10:11 am #

        I think it comes down to the terms of employment that were agreed to at time of hire, it’s also been supported by the courts, so if you wanna be a smoker you can not work at PFD.

        • danvalenti
          October 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

          KEVIN
          Yes. The policy is tough. The policy is spelled out. The chief has to know who the smokers are. If not, it shows he has no clue about his department (which is worse?). Smokers: Quit or be gone. That’s what he ought to say, but he won’t. Does that mean he is aiding and abetting in criminal activity?

          • Joe Blow
            October 18, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

            Smoking is not criminal activity…jeesh

          • danvalenti
            October 18, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

            JOE
            Correct. It probably is, though, if you are hired with the understanding that you shall not smoke, by state law, due to the nature of your job. It probably is if you accept those terms when you are hired. It probably is if you are the head of this department, know of violators, and do nothing, as seems to be the case.

      • FPR
        October 18, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

        Wilson,

        Good comment. Yes makes sense that if smoking affects their ability to perform their duties then yes they would not qualify for the job.

      • Scott
        October 18, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

        Keep’em on the job and take out life insurance policies on them like wal mart did.

        • Tim
          October 21, 2012 at 6:31 am #

          I hope you are kidding, walmart is a corporation with millions. The city is using our money…

          Also, there are other companies that ban smoking, even off the job. Cranes is one for example

  5. Scott
    October 18, 2012 at 8:52 am #

    I like the pun the firefighter got axed nice. Thank you for this entertaining and informative piece. I have no idea what blonde you may or may not be referring to.

  6. Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
    October 18, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    C’mon Scott…think!

  7. Tim Bartini
    October 18, 2012 at 9:39 am #

    Dan I will say this once again. There was never any picture posted in the “Squad” area or any where else. What people have on their private phones I’m not privy to. I think your being fed a line of horse shit. I stand by my statement. If your source would like to meet me in private with you, let me know. When the phone doesn’t ring I’ll know that its your “source”

    • danvalenti
      October 18, 2012 at 9:59 am #

      Thanks, Timmy.

  8. Philerrup
    October 18, 2012 at 9:48 am #

    I was texted these three pix last week.

    I have it on reliable, trusted authority that the pics are real, and vouched for by someone with first hand “experience” and knowledge of identifiable characteristics.

    If anyone has the pix and has doubts, compare them to public pictures found on a certain, not very well hidden facebook profile.

    Should this profile disappear or be altered between now and whenever, I think it would be a very loud admission of guilt.

    • danvalenti
      October 18, 2012 at 10:01 am #

      PHIL
      These pictures were spread via internet and smart phones all over the area. THE PLANET has no interest in them or in the identity of the person depicted in them.

      • Philerrup
        October 18, 2012 at 10:54 am #

        I think THE PLANET does have interest on some level, otherwise THE PLANET never would have published today’s commentary on the matter. And with such deliberate repetition of certain items that not a single reader here could not connect the dots on who was being named, without actually naming names.

        Either way, the pics were taken with the subjects personal cell phone, and that makes these pictures, by law, property of the picture taker. So I think that THE PLANET didn’t publish them not because it does not interest THE PLANET or it’s readers, or at the expense of the subject of the pictures, but out of respect for the law.

        This is my opinion on the matter.

        • Gene
          October 18, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

          The law says they are in the public domain. They have been published. Widely. Theres no way a person can get it back. The Internet has its peculiarities and thats one of them it makes everyone a publisher. The pictures could easily be posted without recrimination, I believe DV on this one Phil.

        • danvalenti
          October 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

          PHIL
          Nope. No interest at allin those pathetic pictures.

        • MaryKate
          October 18, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

          To post the photo would be considered pornography. DV strikes me as the type of man that is above that.

          The photo reveals more than bare breasts and remember what an uproar Casey’s Billiards caused when a young woman revealed her breasts during a wet tee shirt contest.

          • danvalenti
            October 18, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

            MARYKATE
            You are correct. I would never possess, much less post, such photos, for the prurient reasons common with such behavior.

  9. Sal Bando
    October 18, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    “Charlie Finley replaced the Athletics’ traditional elephant mascot with a live mule. “Charlie-O” was paraded about the outfield, into cocktail parties and hotel lobbies, and into the press room after a large feeding to annoy reporters.” It seems the Planet has a mule in the Fire Chief, that is if the Planet were a reporter vs. a blogger. Not sure I understand why anyone should feel compelled to respond to a blog? If Tom Brokaw, Walter Cronkite, Bob Woodward, or Nancy Dickerson wrote some of the mule droppings you pop out (or is that poop out), they would have been banned from any news agency worth its salt. For example….you spent a good bit of time over the past several days having people post stuff ‘they heard’ about a city councilor and suddenly their ability to hear elevates them to a source? Then after being maligned for days, she gets an all-but-lost reprieve in today’s edition. Reporting (aka…demonstrating some journalistic integrity) would have seen you actually contacting Ms. Mazzeo and asking her what’s up right from the start…why not take that tact rather than letting your sources (hehehe) drive your site? All I can say is….bring on the mules!

    • levitan
      October 18, 2012 at 10:49 am #

      Agree with you about the maligning of Mazzeo. It appears her opponents decided to attach her personally (immaterial either way) to the central player knowing full well that even stating a falsehood puts the notion in peoples’ minds.

      I would have drawn a line on permitting that type of discussion which is more poisonous than vulgarity.

    • danvalenti
      October 18, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

      SAL
      You’re boss, Charley, blew it when he let Ken Harrelson become an unrestricted free agent in ’67. Helped the Bosox win a championship that year.

  10. GMHeller
    October 18, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    Mr. Valenti,
    You quote the minutes of the Aug. 22 Pittsfield School Committee meeting:
    “Mr. Cote said that he had consulted with HR, who then spoke with our attorney to make sure there was no conflict.”

    “Mr. Cote said”?
    Since Mr. Cote was not under oath when he appeared before PSC, and since from the start he was the one stage-managing this entire production the ultimate goal of which was to enable his secretary to get a six-figure construction job from the city for free, isn’t it just as likely that Cote was outright lying to PSC and that Cote NEVER contacted anyone in HR (and thus no one in HR ever consulted with PSC’s attorney)?
    Had anyone in HR consulted with PSC’s attorney, would there not be evidence of that in the form of a written opinion?

    • danvalenti
      October 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

      GMH
      Cote was not under oath. He could have been lying through his teeth. We’re not saying he was, but nowhere did he provide any verification for his claim.

  11. Outfox
    October 18, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

    Given that I am bombarded, from multiple outlets, by hard and not so hard news being presented as such, due to the 24 hour news cycle, I enjoy the local “lite” aspect of our local paper. I also agree that a local paper should show integrity and report on the hard news in the community. The 21st century has brought radical changes in how information is disseminated, and the Eagle needs to man up, as they say. Can’t believe they now charge a dollar for the news stand price!

    • danvalenti
      October 18, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

      “Hey! Get cher fishwrap. Only one lousy dollar! Hurry hurry hurry! Before it goes outta business.”

      • Outfox
        October 18, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

        Cut back on my fish consumption because of mercury so am not in need of fishwrap; a litterbox liner, however….

        • dusty
          October 19, 2012 at 3:48 am #

          People should really review their reasons for purchasing the Eagle. In many if not most cases I think they would realize that it is just an old bad habit. And if they go without it for a week or two, I believe they, like I, will not miss it one bit. I am not against reading a free copy in the barber shop but no way will I pay for that lousy propaganda drivel. And by buying it people are actually condoning the ineptness of the paper and encouraging them not to improve. If one compares it to almost any other local paper they will immediately see a huge difference in the quality. And that is a lot of money that could be spent more wisely.

          • danvalenti
            October 19, 2012 at 7:45 am #

            Great insight, DUSTY. Of their dwindling sales, many are from “habit,” as you point out. It’s a carry-over. The readership is aging out, and the BB will soon join cease publishing a physical product. The other reasons people buy the BB are for the coupons and the obits. Those, too, are no longer exclusive to print.You’re right also about quality. The BB is inferior, Bottom of the Barrel (BB). For my money, best newspaper in America is The Wall Street Journal.

  12. Kurt
    October 18, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    Shouldn’t fire fighters be in some form of shape not MORBIDLY OBESE to perform their jobs. If you enforce no smoking how about a BMI below 30 as well.

  13. tito
    October 18, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    This weeks King of the Swamp’ award goes to Renaldo DelGallo, thanks for the entertainment Renny.

  14. ShirleyKnutz
    October 18, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

    Still puzzled by the firefighters inability to smoke even in their homes. With the logic presented no public employee should be allowed to smoke due to how smoking effects cognition, physical abilities and pollutes the air. Hopefully the city council will take up this fight and purge all employees from smoking!!! Or fire their….

  15. ShirleyKnutz
    October 18, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

    As for the contractgate I read the posting in the paper and was going to reply but they stated no roof. I did not feel like having to interview and hire all the multiple people I would need to get my project completed.

  16. tito
    October 18, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    For all intensive purposes, the free house is another way of having no mortgage payment, must be nice.

    • danvalenti
      October 18, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

      TITO
      We should have had Bob Barker give the free house away to the lucky lady!

  17. Mark Smith
    October 18, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    Dan,

    It is a shame about the alleged digital photograph and its posting. You should not have made any allusion to someone local. As you may recall in the news, people have hurt themselves over such revelations.

    Mark

    • levitan
      October 18, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

      Agreed, Mark. It is shameful behavior and I wish more would express their disgust at it.

      • danvalenti
        October 18, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

        LEV
        Yes. Anyone, girl or boy, posing for such pictures, is shameful. Doing it for a picture in digital format is also stupid, given the viral nature of the ‘net.

    • danvalenti
      October 18, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

      MARK
      Yes. Shameful indeed. The photos were taken in e-format, don’t know when. They were posted by the person who had them (and presumably, took them), we hear in anger. They were widely sent throughout the ‘net. We knew about them long ago and said/wrote nothing. They came into “play” in the general sense of our allusion when our PFD source(s) told us about them in connection with the fire department. It’s interesting that our source(s) insist they were up and posted. Tim Bartini insists they were never posted, but basically implied they were on people’s cell phones.

      • Spectator
        October 19, 2012 at 6:27 am #

        I saw the pics, and I don’t think they are real. Things about them don’t match up. And the timing of the release does not make much sense either so that lends more to the suspicion of them being someone else.

        But it’s funny how the rumor mill continues to grind away at a certain person’s character. Anyone know if she’s still around? I would have gotten the hell outta dodge a long time ago after having my character assassinated by the local court of opinion. Seems pretty strange to stick around a small town like the Pitts where public opinion views you very unfavorably.

        • danvalenti
          October 19, 2012 at 7:39 am #

          SPECTATOR
          They don’t look real to me. We were sent the pictures weeks (maybe a couple months) ago, with the hope that we would publish them. We had no interest, though we did have the right. That kind of photo will never be seen here.

  18. GMHeller
    October 18, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    Mr. Valenti,
    For purposes of clarification, is roof construction now part of the deal, or has that been redacted totally from the wording of the currently proposed Cote/Whitney contract?
    The reason for asking is that if roof construction is now part of the deal, then by rights the contract needs to be totally re-advertised and re-bid seeing as how none of the other prospective bidders ever had knowledge, based on the wording in the original ad, that roof construction was to be included in the construction package.
    Whitney is therefore getting something no other bidder had knowledge of, or access to.

    • danvalenti
      October 18, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

      GMH
      Roof construction has been eliminated in the revised contract. Originally, the ad said “no roofing” and the contract listed “roofing as the first item on the punch list. It was voted in that way, and they would have pulled an even faster one, had Terry Kinnas no spotted the discrepancy. That’s then Contractgate started to derail.

  19. chuck garivaltis
    October 18, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

    Hi Tim,

    We have never met and I hope you don’t mind if I ask you a question. Years ago I had a friend from the Clapp Park area named Bob Elworthry. He was a classmate, good athlete, handsome guy. Bob married Shirley Bartini who was a PHS classmate and the prettiest girl in school. I was a friend of both. I think they are gone now leaving us much to soon. Are you related to Bob and Shirley? They were a wonderful couple.

    • Tim Bartini
      October 18, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

      Hi Mr Garivaltis. I worked with a Bob Elsworthy when I started with PFD in 1985. I don’t know if his wife was my relative . I don’t think we were related I have a large family, my grandfather had 11 brothers and sisters The Bob Elsworthy that I worked with is still living in Florida I could get his mailing address if you want My number is in the phone book. Tim

      • chuck garivaltis
        October 19, 2012 at 6:56 am #

        Thanks, Tim, for the clarification. I’m happy Bob is still with us and, hopefully, having a healthy and happy retirement.

        • Roberta
          October 22, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

          Hi Chuck, a good friend of mine told me of this email you sent. My name is Roberta Elworthy Rapkowicz, I am Bob’s oldest daughter. My mom was a Ruth Bondini, she left was way too early at the age of 65 back in February 2000. They were living in Florida at the time. My dad is still there, he will be 80 this February. He is doing very well. I will tell him of your inquiry, if you would like more information my number is in the phone book.

      • Roberta
        October 22, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

        Hi Tim, please see the comment I posted below regarding my father Bob Elworthy.

  20. tito
    October 19, 2012 at 5:30 am #

    RIBBON CUTTING TODAY DOWN AT THE RICE SILK MILL AT TWO THIRTY??

    • Scott
      October 19, 2012 at 6:06 am #

      Silver lake Blvd…

  21. Paul
    October 19, 2012 at 6:15 am #

    Tim you should get your facts straight before you speak.Firefighters and police are not allowed to smoke tabacco products, not use tabacco products read the state law.

    • Tim Bartini
      October 19, 2012 at 10:31 am #

      Paul sorry you are wrong. Anyone hired befor 1988 can smoke, most choose not to. I can smoke because I was hired in 1985, but I choose not to.

      • Paul
        October 19, 2012 at 10:43 am #

        You said in the article firefighters can’t use tabacco.That is wrong they can’t smoke tabacco products but can use tabacco read the law.

      • danvalenti
        October 19, 2012 at 10:49 am #

        TIMMY
        You dodged my question about the smokers. You stated the policy. You did not admit the obvious: There are smokers, hired after 1988. So, “chief,” I ask you point blank:

        (a) Are there such smokers on the force?
        (b) Do you know who they are, some or all?
        (c) Does command know who they are?
        (d) Should such members of the department be retained if they refuse to quit?
        (e) How many smokers are there. My sources tell me between 10 and 15, probably closer to 15.

        Also, regarding the photos, what would you say if a JPEG found its way to me last night showing part of the firemen’s living quarters (don’t know what you call it … the squad room?) with several of the said photos on a wall … not on individuals’ cell phones. Would that refresh your memory?

        Remember, if you want to become chief should I become mayor, you have to start playing ball.

    • Mickey
      October 19, 2012 at 10:42 am #

      Paul,

      I’m sorry to burst your bubble but here is the link to Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 41, Sec 101a.

      http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleVII/Chapter41/Section101a

      Maybe you should get YOUR facts straight. I believe an apology is in order.

      Just to state an actual fact, there are SEVERAL members of the PFD and PPD who were hired BEFORE January 1988. The Fireman reportedly seen smoking, could be the very same ones hired BEFORE the law was changed. Not sure if they are but before accusations are thrown out there, know the facts!

      • danvalenti
        October 19, 2012 at 10:44 am #

        MICKEY
        As we reported, the law applies to those who smoke after their hiring in 1988. Our sources say at least “some” of the smokers were hired on or after 1988. They would not be grandfathered. Look: the troops know who they are, and we have to believe the administration does. The smokers should be given a choice: Quit Cold Turkey or take your cigarettes to the unemployment line.

        • Mickey
          October 19, 2012 at 11:09 am #

          Dan,
          No where in your original post, did you state that the Firemen seen smoking, by your source, were hired after 1988. Only after Tim clarified the law, did you allow your readers to jump to that conclusion. Re-read your own post! I completely agree that any Fireman hired after 1988, caught smoking, should quit or be terminated. After all that is the law. The problem I have is when you write something and hope that your readers will jump to false or distorted conclusions. This kind of “Journalism” is great for Bloggers but it really does harm the hard working employees of any organization, regardless of your disclaimers

          • danvalenti
            October 19, 2012 at 11:46 am #

            Thanks, Mick.

      • Paul
        October 19, 2012 at 11:27 am #

        Mass general law chapter 41 section 101a- subsequent to january 1st 1988 no persons who smokes any tabacco products shall be eligible for appointment as a police or firefighter in a city or town and no person so appointed after said date shall continue in such office or position if such person thereafter smokes any tabacco products.The personnel administrator shall promulgate regulations for the implementation of this section.
        Tim you said firefighters can’t use tabacco, are you not wrong in that statement?It clearly says firefighter can’t smoke tabacco products.I would apologize if I was wrong but i am not.

  22. tito
    October 19, 2012 at 7:02 am #

    Everyone was saying how the assistant at the registry office got screwed over, she is making upwards of sixty grand, give me a break.