PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, JAN. 2, 2013) — It’s never a good thing for a community when a local journalist gets fired. Nonetheless, Vox Radio had no problem reducing its already skeletal human staff in giving 16-year newsroom veteran Tom Conklin his walking papers. The move became effective immediately, a month ago. Thus, the Rape of the Mainsteam Media by out-of-town chain ownership continues.

When this happens, the community suffers.


Conklin wasn’t Walter Cronkite, but he was someone much more valuable to Pittsfield and Berkshire County: a local, experienced journalist who had community ties and, therefore, community interest. He had a reason for being in his work, given his vested interest in the locale. Also, when you dismiss 16 years of knowledge and substitute it with a part-time rookie’s ignorance, the ability to recognize, let alone cover, the news gets seriously depleted.

THE PLANET had the pleasure of working with Tom Conklin on a few occasions, back in our Radio Day, after we ceased being radio rivals and we began guesting on various stations. We found Conklin to be solid, a dependable guy, steady in a pinch — and anyone who has ever done local radio knows that every moment in the air is a pinch, made so by the typical tame and lame ignorance that makes up the most of what locally is nominally radio management. He ran the board for a couple of elections that THE PLANET anchored.

An ‘Incredible Statement’

Vox GM Peter Barry made the incredible statement, “Despite the reduction in the position from full- to part-time, we remain committed to live[,] local programming.” Right. You’ve just canned an experienced hand. You’re going to replace him with a “half-time” person and put the rest of the work load on an already overworked staff. But you’re still “committed” to live, local coverage. This type of “pretend” statement has become the norm for Pittsfield. The GOB addresses s many issues, area, and topics — for example, progress at PEDA, alleged downtown revitalization, progress in schools — in this type of contradictory terms, which ignore the reality and baldly declare a flat-out lie to be the truth.

Mr. Barry, with all due respect, you cannot can a man like Tom Conklin and still say, “Despite the reduction in the position from full- to part-time, we remain committed to live[,] local programming.” The First Amendment allows you to lie, of course, but that doesn’t mean we won’t call you on it.

It doesn’t add up, and you can’t have it both ways — unless, of course, you’re the mouthpiece for Vox Radio, a phantom radio chain based nowhere, with a shadowy ownership group boasting a bunch of different addresses, without a corporate website.

And where in all this is Vox’s Profile in Courage, WUPE news director Larry Kratka? You remember Larry. He’s the man who sold talkmeister Bill Sturgeon down the Housatonic. Our good friend Clarence Fanto, in breaking the story in the Boring Broadsheet, said he tried several times to reach  Kratka, who did not return the calls. When the phone didn’t ring, we knew it was Larry the K not trying to reach Fanto. We understand the tenuousness of Kratka’s position, wondering as he must be when he is next, but we issue him this direct challenge: Have us on the Vox airwaves to debate this question, of how getting rid of an experienced, full-time news guy is a good thing for the community. You up for it, LK? Think of the ratings! When our e-mail doesn’t have Larry’s reply, we’ll know he didn’t accept.

THE PLANET also tips our hardhat to the BB‘s headline writer, who capped the story with this gem: “Radio news anchor Conklin silenced.” The editorial “silenced” fit perfectly, since Vox essentially took the journalist “out back” and gave him two in the hat.




The presumption of innocence being upon accused triple murderers Adam Lee Hall, David Chalue, and Caius Veivois, why are these men left to languish in lockup as yet-another interminable delay clogs up juris prudence? They deserve a fair and speedy trial, especially because THE PLANET assumes they are innocent.

They did not kill anyone. That is what we must declare by law, and since we are a nation of laws, that shall be our position. These men should be tried or freed.

Under the muddled handling of Berkshire County District Attorney David Capeless, this case has been delayed more times than an airline schedule during a winter storm. Capeless has had to re-indict the accused trio after the expiration date passed. Meantime, we ask how has justice been served? Again, these men are innocent. They have not been proven guilty. How much longer will they have to endure what is amounting to false imprisonment?

A murder trial, more than most any other, must be expedited. Under our presumption of innocence, if society wants to claim that anyone committed this heinous crime, it must act to prove that grave assertion with minimum delay. Capeless has been in charge of the prosecution from the get-go. The inexcusable delays, though not entirely his fault, find their seeds with his office’s foot dragging. Something tells us that there’s more to these delays than Capeless or anyone else is letting on.

We invite the DA to spill.



How many more times, treat me the way you wanna do?

So sang Robert Plant in Led Zep‘s great song. Planet, Paige, Jones, and Bonham we, of course, singing a tune about a man’s puzzlement over his mistreatment at the hands of his woman, but they might have been banging our the anthem of downtown Pittsfield.

“How Many More Times” will be hear how arts and culture (A & C) is downtown’s Pittsfield’s [PICK ONE]:

(   ) Savior

(   ) Energizer

(   ) Bar raiser

(  ) Renaissance

(  ) All of the above


If you listened to the Usual Suspects gathered at a recent symposium, the answer is “( X ) all of the above.” The breathless coverage in the Boring Broadsheet assured us that A & C “have clearly enhanced the the city both artistically and economically.”

We love our good friend Derek Gentile more than he or you knows, and we marvel at his work. It takes a damned good writer to write up puffy drivel to its highest possible level. As an alphabet connoisseur, THE PLANET gives a wink and a nod to our dear brother and colleague for having to stomach through these sad days at the BB, which, like Vox Radio, also “boasts” out of town ownership and therefore doesn’t give two spits about Pittsfield or Berkshire County.

Has A&C “enhanced” the city? Clearly, yes, and we have to laugh in admiration at how Gentile phrases it: Who could disagree? At least he didn’t mention — or quote anyone mentioning — “the renaissance.” But the truth is this: A & C is meant to serve an otherwise functioning, healthy economy as augmentation. A recreation-and-resort economy cannot do what it has been asked to do in Pittsfield, which is to serve as the area’s primary economic impetus.

An Ill-Fitting Force Fit

Try to force-fit A&C into this role, as Pittsfield has done, and you end up with a spruced-up ghost town with A & C venues that, for the most part, remain out of the reach of the average city dweller. Remember, Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski don’t have $100 to spend on two tickets to the theater, plus post-show dinner for at least another $150.

Gentile quotes former BB business editor Lew Cuyler: “There’s a sense of scale [in downtown Pittsfield]. If you don’t like something, you can call the planning commission or the mayor’s office. You can get things done here.”

Try telling that to frustrated downtown merchants who have been left hung out to dry while City Hall plays favorites. Try telling that to the many calls on the mayor to order a greater police presence downtown through foot patrols. Try telling that to eateries and shops that have to deal with the downward pull of the various social service agencies. Yeah, you can call the planning commission. You can call the mayor.

Then you can begin holding your breath.







  1. Bill Sturgeon
    January 2, 2013 at 8:02 am #

    Good luck, Tom! I felt you were a great newsman and you will be missed.

  2. FPR
    January 2, 2013 at 8:05 am #

    Hey Dan,

    Looks like The Planet is moving full steam ahead for 2013. Good to see. Molly would be proud.

    I’ve been trying to follow the triple murder case but seems there’s not much to follow.

    I can’t believe they can hold these men in prison for so long without their right to a “speedy trial.”

    It does seem like Adam Hall has something on DA Capeless. It seems like Capeless is deliberately trying to botch this case to get him off. When you look at the history of what Adam Lee Hall has gotten away with, it makes you wonder what does he have on the District Attorney and what kinds of deals they have made.

    If these 3 men walk on a “technicality” it won’t surprise me. Seems like that is the plan all along.

    • danvalenti
      January 2, 2013 at 8:21 am #

      Try them or free them. They are innocent men languishing for some unknown reason.

      • Scott
        January 2, 2013 at 9:01 am #

        It’s my understanding that the delay is due to Halls persistent willingness to work with the DA and law enforcement to put the blame on the other two idiot’s. He has talked without his lawyer to investigators and revealed defense strategies. I say F’em he’s far from innocent. He’a violent dangerous criminal who exploits woman and manipulates everyone involved with him. All his blabber-mouthing will catch up to him when he finds his racist white @SS in prison where he belongs. He should hang himself.

        • Tim Bartini
          January 2, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

          Scott good reply.

          • Scott
            January 2, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

            Time I knew we’d eventually see eye to eye!

          • Scott
            January 2, 2013 at 2:14 pm #


      • imabigboy
        January 2, 2013 at 10:17 am #

        Let’s not confuse a presumption of innocence with a declaration of innocence.

        • danvalenti
          January 2, 2013 at 11:04 am #

          Until the law pronounces otherwise, “innocence” is the only factual condition that society can declare.

          • imabigboy
            January 2, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

            In fact, the very nature of “presumption” precludes any factual declaration.

          • danvalenti
            January 2, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

            Yes. In legal understanding, “presumption,” as in “presumption of innocence” is the substitute (though not hte counterfeit of) fact.

      • Scott
        January 2, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

        Dan they can post the million dollar bond at any time. Due process protects people from being detained unjustly by the system. In this case they’re doing it to themselves. I doubt Hall won’t last long no matter if he’s in or out so I agree let’s get this going the suspense is killing me!

        • Kevin
          January 2, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

          I am no fan of DA Capeless but I think the delys are due to Hall and the DA is playing his cards tight….which he should.

  3. Scott
    January 2, 2013 at 9:04 am #

    With that said duct tape his mouth and get on with the trial already! Try them separately or all at once I don’t care from what I’ve heard they have plenty of evidence and I’m sure the dummy that dug the hole has developed a little courage since he’s been locked up.

  4. Still wondering
    January 2, 2013 at 9:41 am #

    Dan, just leave the downtown arts scene alone. You don’t get it and it looks like you never will. I’ll take North Street now over 10 years ago any day.
    Did you know there is another ArtsWalk coming up?

    • imabigboy
      January 2, 2013 at 10:23 am #

      “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?”
      —John 1:46a (NIV)

      • danvalenti
        January 2, 2013 at 11:04 am #


      • Still wondering
        January 3, 2013 at 6:34 am #

        Bigboy never left the playground.

  5. Pat
    January 2, 2013 at 9:46 am #

    Did anyone notice how quickly the person responsible for the terrible hit and run accident in Great Barrington on Saturday was arrested and charged with the crime. Two people were left to die by the roadside with severe injuries and the police were able to trace who did it by the fact that her license plate fell off at the scene of the crime.

    It seems we are having more of these incidents of people hitting others and taking off since the example was set by the infamous Nilan case in which a hit and run occurred, but since the woman was from a prominent family in the area, she got off with a slap on the wrist. People have got it into their head that if someone got away with it then they can too, but they forget that only well connected people can get away with such behavior here in Berkshire County.

  6. Correction
    January 2, 2013 at 10:22 am #


    The Giants coach still has a job for now.

    • danvalenti
      January 2, 2013 at 11:11 am #

      Thanks so much! We have corrected the typo.

  7. danvalenti
    January 2, 2013 at 11:06 am #

    At least Meredith Nilan’s her actions were brought into the light, and at least there was some finding by the courts of her negligence. Your comment, though, remains valid, Pat. The well-connected can get away while the ordinary citizen rots.

    • Scott
      January 2, 2013 at 11:51 am #

      Yeah but it was her and her father that brought to light the fact you can drink and drive almost kill someone and instead of taking responsibility you can just leave the scene and get a lesser charge.

    • debbie
      January 2, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

      Findings! More like a joke! ..who hits a deer or dog and then calls Attorney Shugrue?……then washes the car clean. Also, gives the police the run around. Did anyone ever ask fatso Alf how he got home that night December 8th 2011? CWOF aka continue w/out a finding….means NOTHING!. Again its called sweeping the dirt under the rug. Alf and Cliff both know that well…remember boys the skeletons find there way out-of- the closet eventually.

  8. Pat
    January 2, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    I agree, but it remains to be seen what this person in the Great Barrington accident will ultimately be charged with. Yes, this type of accident could happen for any of us, but we would hopefully have the decency to have concern for the person we hit and get help for them. That’s the main point. There has been very little information coming from the BB about the details of the accident such as how the people in the accident were ultimately able to get help.

    • joetaxpayer
      January 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

      Pat, I ‘m sure she will use the deer defense. Why not give it a shot, baby deer and mother deer. Really I had know idea it was people trying to push that car.

  9. Shakes His Head
    January 2, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    ALH is doing all he can to stay out of prison. He knows that if he is in general pop, his bacon is sliced.

    • imabigboy
      January 2, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

      “Bacon is sliced”? Love that. Mind if I use it?

  10. Rivetor
    January 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

    Anyone who listen to Vox is as stupid as anyone who reads the BB. Sorry, Tom C. we’ll miss you. DV your comments on arts are on the mark. No jobs for citizens. Arts have become too high-class and expensive for anyone but the GOBs to enjoy.

  11. tito
    January 2, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    I’m sick of the arts, and the cultural czarina is getting to sound like a stale record.

  12. joetaxpayer
    January 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    Nothing wrong with the Arts as long as I’m not paying for it!

  13. Rivetor
    January 2, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

    joethetaxpayer, that’s what I’m saying. i feel like I have no choice but to pay for arts through my taxes even though I can’t afford the ticket or admission prices. Bunch of snobs, hoidy toidy too good for us in the working class.

  14. Rivetor
    January 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

    joethetaxpayer, that’s what I’m saying. i feel like I have no choice but to pay for arts through my taxes even though I can’t afford the ticket or admission prices. Bunch of snobs, hoidy toidy too good for us in the working class.

    • bobbyd
      January 2, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

      Remember when that same crowd started lamenting that the Beacon was not going to be an art film venue? I mean, really?

  15. dusty
    January 2, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

    “Radio news anchor Conklin silenced.” Someone from the Eagle wrote that? I guess, more than anyone, they would know about being silenced.

    January 2, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

    Come on Dan Fight for people rights, but these three have made these delays. You talk like you just threw the case at a juror and thats it. You have no idea the work behind these cases. It never ends, things keep coming up. And don’t forget there is a fair judge watching over this case. Let the courts handle this case, not Dan Velenti

    • FPR
      January 2, 2013 at 5:59 pm #

      “these three have made these delays.” just quoting concerned.

      As far as I know, “these three” have never waved their right to a speedy trial. I could be wrong but they would have had to sign papers signing away their rights which I don’t think anyone of them have.

      As guilty and as evil as these three seem to be, the justice system guarantees them the right to a speedy trial which they have not had.

      Perhaps they can lock anyone up for any reason for as long as they please. Is this the new order of things?

      If they have overwhelming evidence then get on with the trial or let them go.

      Even OJ Simpson had his day in court. But he only murdered two people.

  17. Ron Kitterman
    January 2, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

    I thought the $ million dollar bail was for Dave Case ?, not the trio you mentioned.

  18. Gene
    January 2, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

    Concerned let Dan Valenti handle this, not David Capeless. I’ll take Valenti over Capeless any day.

  19. Mr. X
    January 2, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

    Isn’t it a good thing, though, if the Arts help the local economy on a whole? I think you gotta say they do. I’m not a big Artsey person but I think they are a good thing to the big picture and I don’t mind paying some for them. They certainly waste our money on dumber stuff than that doesn’t help the local economy.

    Wasn’t it great to get your new tax bill today? And JLO wants more salary, f**k the bene’s, he says!

  20. joetaxpayer
    January 2, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

    Let them pay there share like the rest of us poor shumucks. I have nothing against the arts, just stop giving them hand outs. It’s bad enough Barry is giving those A-holes in Hollywood massive tax breaks.

    • dbdog
      January 7, 2013 at 4:45 am #

      I always thought that if I wanted to sell something that I had to make it good enough to make people want to buy it. I never had help with taxes or financial support of any kind doing my business. Why should we all have to chip in because not enough people want to buy, or buy into the “arts”? I like the restorations, would have contributed to the theater if I had still lived in the area while it was being done. Still wonder why a school gets practically given away because it can’t be fixed then someone turns it into condos. What happened to the great, architecturally beautiful railway station? Did someone want to build a dealership there? Seems we only grease the wheels of the wealthy or connected here in Greater downtown Pittsfield,

  21. Dave
    January 2, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

    It is not the Arts, it is the banks that are keeping Downtown or “Upstreet” solvent. If there were no banks on North St and in the vicinity, then all the lunch/deli/catering places would cease to exist because there would not be enough business for all these places to remain open. Funny how the fancy Christmas lights don’t make it past the Columbus(Martin Luthor King) Ave intersection. Even if the streetscape money doesn’t cover the expense yet, wouldn’t you think we might want to make an effort to include the whole damn street!

    • Dave
      January 2, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

      And ain’t it grand how all the banks in town are so philanthropic(to quote the fat man). Sad part is, they don’t build, create, or invent anything. Their product is other people’s money. The people who should be applauded are the members and depositors in the bank who, if the banks didn’t give so generously to every cause could pay less interest on a loan or make more interest on their monies. I do realize that some bank employees do volunteer work to raise money for different causes, but that is not the animal that I speak of. If I had substantial funds in a local bank or credit union(which unfortunately I do not)
      I would cringe every time they made a “gift” to the arts, because I can make that gift myself if I am so inclined.

      • dusty
        January 3, 2013 at 2:31 am #

        If you are a member of the Greylock Credit Union you used to be called an owner. And you used to share in the profits. At Christmas time they would give you a small share of the profits depending on your bank account. But the bigger they got and the more money they made the less they shared with their member/owners. Now they give out calenders…maybe

  22. Giacometti
    January 2, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

    Dave…it’s called Community Reinvestment Act, a Federal Law all banking institutions must follow.

    • Scott
      January 3, 2013 at 3:14 am #

      Greylock has contribute to the renovation of the Samuel Harrison house which has provided me and a whole bunch of other local people (all small business.) with much needed work.

      • dbdog
        January 7, 2013 at 4:48 am #

        Glad for you. So I and other members are paying your wages?

  23. Rivetor
    January 3, 2013 at 7:07 am #

    Valenti for Mayor!

  24. Armstead
    January 3, 2013 at 9:50 am #

    With all due respect….Why don’t you quit bellyaching about the efforts to bring arts and entertainment to Pittsfield…Your negativity on the subject is a classic example of why Pittsfield struggles….Sure A&E are not the “savior” of Pittsfield, and it is not the answer to our need for real jobs, etc…..But fer krissake, it is an important element in life. It makes the city somewhat brighter and more interesting,…And it is ONE element necessary to attract employers and new residents and economic growth.

    The effort to stimulate what was once a ghost town in terms of the arts and entertainment has been successful….Not totally and there is still a ways to go. BUT is is much better than it was…thanks to the efforts of city officials, arts supporters and others.

    Yes we need real employers in other fields. We need to do a lot of things to bring Pittsfeld back. But don;t you think almost EVERYONE realizes that? Don’t you think that if there were shortcuts and magic wands to bring more manufacturers, professional services, etc. into Pittsfield, that would have been done by now?

    Why gripe about one facet of overall community development that has been a success story in :Pittsfield?. Why not support those efforts, even if you want to criticize other failings of revitalization efforts?

    • danvalenti
      January 3, 2013 at 11:18 am #

      Thanks for your input. First, I am not “bellyaching.” I am pointing out the correct assessment of A&C in downtown Pittsfield. Second, I love how you play a classic game of “shoot the messenger.” It’s “the media’s” fault, or, I should say, Dan Valenti’s fault “of why Pittsfield struggles.” Dan Valenti is to blame for the lack of meaningful jobs. Third, no one at this address has ever disputed that A & C is “an important element.” I agree. It is. And it does make things brighter and more interesting. Fourth, you are incorrect when you say it is a “necessary element” “to attract new employers and new residents and economic growth.” You can’t be serious with that statement. If that WERE the case, A&C would have done all that. In point of fact, there are fewer “new employers,” the population is dropping, and economic growth has headed south, literally and figuratively. Obviously, the Arts have failed in that respect, although YOU are the one who is calling it failure, since it has not happened while you say that it should. Fifth, the city “”is much better than it was”? That depends on when you think of “it was.” Better than the early 90s? Yes. Better than 1960? No way. Sixth, NO, few people realize that “we need real employers,” especially certain politicians and players. To “realize” is to make actual. They have not realized squat, Armstead. Instead, they keep flapping their gums on this point. And NO, if there were shortcuts, they WOULD NOT have been done by now … or haven’t you seen the city’s actions on PEDA over 14 years or its pathetic efforts on the CEDS program. Finally, we do not “gripe.” We dish out the truth. We shall also add that we at THE PLANET have supported by many of our own productions revitalization of Pittsfield.

      • Armstead
        January 3, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

        Dan, I am not blaming you for all of Pittsfield’s woes. IMO it is more of a pervasive attitude that we get in Pittsfield too often. We often complain about the hole rather than appreciating the donut…Or say “this is not worth it” whatever it might be. You are not responsible for that…but IMO you are indulging in it.

        For example, I certainly can’t afford to go to Barrington Stage on more than a rare occasion. But I’m sure glad they are there for the people it does bring in….And it’s a lot better than seeing that building empty and rotting, which it was doing for a while.

        Other revitalization efforts, such as PEDA, are certainly subject to debate as to whether officials and others in Pittsfield are “screwing the pooch” or not, in terms of creating and taking advantage of opportunities. There have been successes to varying degrees in economic development over the years too though . — either temporary or long term. There have also been failures….That’s the perennial tug of war between progress and setbacks. It’s also possible that that Pittsfield’s problems are just symptomatic of larger trends that are hollowing out communities and the middle class across the country.

        Also,please note that I never said A&E are a panacea or the most important aspect in economic revitalization. There are many other factors involved. But the perception and reality of “quality of life” is an important consideration to employers or independent entrepreneurs or others when they are considering where they want to live and work….Anything that makes Pittsfield a more appealing place to be can only help (as well as helping to keep up the morale of those who are already here).

        Better than when? .Well, certainly better than the 90’s. But in many ways it is also better than the 60’s. That depends on the yardsticks and what one is comparing I guess

        All I am basically saying is that it would be helpful if we were all more supportive of the successes, and more patient about the challenges, and recognize that there are no easy fixes for the hurdles.

        • danvalenti
          January 3, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

          Nicely done. I appreciate and respect your arguments and POV.

    • joetaxpayer
      January 3, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

      One man’s art is another mans trash. Or is the say at the urnal, beauty is in the eye of the holder. A&E should not take up City resources, nuff said.

      • dusty
        January 3, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

        Does anyone remember how the original bill for the Colonial was going to be $2 million? Then it morphed in a $20 million plus figure? Same thing with publicly funded Beacon theater multiplex which I believe returns money only to a private citizen. This is the part of Arts that I don’t like. The part where graft inflated price tags takes money out of hard working taxpayers wallets and puts it in the bank accounts of already wealthy and connected shysters.

        Other than that art is fine.

        • danvalenti
          January 3, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

          The final bill for the Colonial topped $30 million.

  25. joetaxpayer
    January 3, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

    Dusty, that my friend is called magic. A form of art.

  26. Giacometti
    January 3, 2013 at 10:59 pm #

    The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts was developed without any public money….and it is a very beautiful space. It’s programs are free of charge and open to all citizens. The arts creates a sense of peace in the community when the arts are fully accessible both physically and economically as is the case at 28 Renne Avenue.