PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27, 2013) — “Attorney Wars,” which THE PLANET exposed in all the glory of its initial pettiness more than two months ago, came to the predicted conclusion. As we prognosticated, accurately as it turns out, the city of Pittsfield has dropped its lawsuit against barrister Rich Dohoney. You might say we broke this story two months before it happened. We are that good.

For a full discussion, see THE PLANET columns from Jan. 22, 25, 28, and 29, 2013. We weren’t fooled one bit.

‘Because I thought she was incompetent’

The office of city solicitor Kathy Degnan, via her assistant Darren Lee, concluded there was no “there” there when it came to winning in court against Dohoney, who served as city attorney under Mayor Jimmy Ruberto. Ruberto had dismissed Degnan as in-house city solicitor. When we asked Ruberto why he did that, he told it straight: “Because I thought she was incompetent.” He brought in Dohoney to serve on a contract basis.

Dohoney handled the initial litigation on Spectrumgate, and, as you will recall, the city of Pittsfield prevailed three times in court against Spectrum Health Systems. Three out of three: That’s almost hitting 1.000. It’s no guarantee that the city would have ultimately prevailed (although that is a possibility), but minimally it demonstrates a deftness that would come to be missed when Degnan took over the case a year ago. That led to a costly capitulation and some say unnecessary to Spectrum.

Members of the Pittsfield city council, led by Christine Yon and Kevin Sherman, filed a no-confidence petition against Degnan. At the last second, Yon withdrew the petition. No-Confidencegate, as we dubbed itangered the Bianchi team and rightly so. They talked of payback, not rightly so, with Donna Mattoon leading the charge, according to a City Hall source.

Payback came in the form of a lawsuit filed by Degnan’s office against Dohoney pertaining to the demolition of an apartment building on Melville Street. Again, for the details, review our columns of Jan.22, 25, 28, and 29 of this year. THE PLANET archives can be located on our home page, on the yellow toolbar. Place your mouse over “BLOG” and you will see the sub-window called “Archive.” Click on that for all of our previous columns.

The Lawsuit Had One Purpose: Payback

Observers, including every attorney with whom THE PLANET talked, agreed that the city’s case had no merit on the facts. It led to the reasonable conclusion that the lawsuit was meant to achieve only one thing: generate unfavorable headlines for Dohoney for the unspeakable crime of providing legal help to Jim Ruberto.

THE PLANET wrote on Jan. 25 that the city’s best option would be to “Drop the lawsuit against Dohoney. It’s a waste of time, talent, and treasure.”

We are pleased to say that the city followed our advice. We won’t even send them a bill for our expert legal opinion. Any dime-store lawyer could have told you the city had no chance. After having eliminated success as a reason to go after Dohoney, it is only reasonable to conclude that the sole purpose in the lawsuit in “Attorney Wars” was to generate some headlines against Dohoney in a revenge move for No-Confidencegatge. The Boring Broadsheet played along, giving the city what it wanted. To that end, we share this letter to the editor:

—– 00 —–


Today’s Eagle shows how much PR B.S. that original article was to begin with.
I have to give Donna Matton all the credit in the world. Instead of the
Eagle headline reading “Degnan loses another winnable case for the City”
they were able to manipulate the Eagle into “City Sues Dahoney.”   Brilliant
move, at least in the short term.  These type of short-term tactics tend to
fall apart over time. — Interested Observer

—– 00 —–

This letter sums up the dispassionate read of the odd case of “Attorney Wars.” THE PLANET has good reason to believe that attorney Lee — a solid legal talent — knew this was a waste of time, that he didn’t want to file the suit, but that he was following the orders of his boss, Degnan, who was following the orders of her boss, Bianchi, who was following the orders of his boss, Mattoon.



LARRY BOSSIDY: Pittsfield Benefactor

Out of the original $1 million gift outright given by Larry Bossidy to the city of Pittsfield to refurbish city parks, only $65,000 remains. THE PLANET won’t bother with an accounting of how much of this money was wasted by previous administrations, who ignored Bossidy’s wishes and frittered the money on capital expenses (trucks, for example) or ill-conceived “improvements” (the alleged “upgrade” of The Common, including the installation of a costly and little-used Grade A sprinkler system).

Get Out the Nets

It appears that anywhere between $10,000 and $20,000 will go toward a netting system for the batting box area of the Babe Ruth diamond at Deming Park. At least one neighbor has been complaining about foul balls landing in her yard, and the city lost its breath. The final configuration on a ball-capturing system has yet to be delivered, but it appears to involve a nylon net that will stop most foul balls that come off the bat.

The new system, unfortunately, will change the nature of the game, since it will prevent most pop ups that go straight up around the plate area. THE PLANET still recalls batting lead-off for Union Federal Savings (green uniforms) and popping up a ball behind the plate on the old Babe Ruth diamond at Deming. Jimmy Bagdonis, catching that day for (we think) National Guard (maroon uniforms), threw off his mask, heading behind the plate, and made a great catch. He robbed us on the AB, we thought grudgingly, but we secretly admired Bags’ hustle. There no way that play will be made under the new system.

Of course, the foul ball problem is one the city created when it decided to move the Babe Ruth diamond from its old location next to Palmer’s on the Elm Street side of the park to where it currently sits.

Can the netting be considered a park “improvement?” Does it matter, given how Larry Bossidy’s intentions have been so callously ignored. The Bossidy Bucks and the $10 million GE Consent Agreement Fund prove that it’s not wise to give money to the city, even if you specify the use. It will just ignore your wishes once politics gets involved.


Friends of Springside Park Announces 24th Annual Park Cleanup

The Friends of Springside Park will conduct its annual clean up of the park from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 20. Meeting place is at the playground parking lot near the old zoo area with entrance off upper North Street at the Springside House. The rain date is set for the next day, Sunday, April 21, at the same time and place. The Friends will be joined by members of the Vincent J. Hebert Arboretum.
Volunteers are asked to come at any time during the day and to bring gloves if possible. Gloves and bags will also be provided.

Springside House

Over four decades of formal and informal activities, The Friends, a grass roots group, has worked at seasonal cleanups and beautification, assisting with park maintainence in times of city fiscal crisis – including lawn mowing, debris removal, barrier reconstruction, hole filling, and extinguishing grass fires. They have also constructed nature trails, bird houses, bridges, and walking paths, sponsored nature walks and talks, slide shows, and other educational programs. Other activities include cultural and recreational events, such as band, chamber music, and jazz concerts at the Springside House, the Berkshire Museum, or on the park grounds.

For more information on the clean up or to join the Friends of Springside, please contact Royal Hartigan at (508) 999-8572


“Often I am permitted to return to a meadow / as if it were a given property of the mind / that certain bounds hold against chaos, // that is a place of first permission, everlasting omen of what is.”Robert Duncan.





  1. GMHeller
    March 27, 2013 at 1:14 am #

    Mr. Valenti,
    It sure would improve your report immensely were you to get a comment from Larry Bossidy himself on just how he views the manner in which the City of Pittsfield has chosen to spend the money which Bossidy so generously provided, and also whether he would do it again had he known just how his dough was actually going to be spent?

    • Ed Shepardson
      March 27, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

      In a letter to Ruberto dated October 9, 2006, Bossidy wrote, “I was appalled and flabbergasted by some of the expenditures.”
      Bossidy wrote that “it is difficult to understand how these general purpose vehicles and equipment played any roles in the preservation and improvement of the city’s playing fields. It appears to me that these items are the responsibility of the city rather than deductions from my grant.” Pittsfield Gazette

      • danvalenti
        March 27, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

        Refer to ED SHEPARDSON’s note above. Practically anyone who follows the happenings in Pittsfield knows full well Mr. Bossidy’s view of how the city dealt with the “Bossidy Bucks.” Our readers would know that position (with respect to how to “immensely improve” our report).We respect the intelligence of our readership.

  2. dusty
    March 27, 2013 at 1:52 am #

    I won’t go into any accounting of how the city frittered away much of the Bossidy bucks either but I will say that much of it happened during the Ruberto administration. And Cliff Nilan was a hot shot on the Parks Commission along with Conant who is now donating his charm and wisdom to the school committee.

  3. in the know
    March 27, 2013 at 5:01 am #

    Dan I’ve always heard Mayor Bianci was a vindictive S.O.B. This just proves it.

  4. Scott
    March 27, 2013 at 7:39 am #

    So if Ruberto deemed Degnan incompetent and let her go why was she rehired by Bianchi? Is this political patronage?

  5. FPR
    March 27, 2013 at 8:08 am #

    Hey Dan,

    I gotta give credit where credit is due. You called it! Well done my friend. The only thing that makes no sense is that if the Bianchi administration did it as payback for noconfidence-gate does it not rather strengthen a no confidence in Kathy Degnan and Bianchi himself? “Egg on their faces?”

    What do the citizens of Pittsfield think of this tremendous amount of waste of taxpayer money? Seems Bianchi has a hot head and has shown himself to be a terrible Mayor. Degnan is earning herself a tremendous reputation of losing cases. High profile cases. Who would have any confidence to hire her as a lawyer should she ever hang a shingle in private practice?

    If this next election puts these clowns back in then Pittsfield deserves what they vote for. Looks like its time for some major changes in Pittsfield politics. An entirely new city council, new mayor and new school committee are in order.

    It couldn’t possibly get any worse than what you have now.

    • C. J.
      March 27, 2013 at 8:56 am #

      Interesting hypothesis regarding Pittsfield and the possible reelection of the incumbent administration.
      It does appear that at least presently there will be no viable candidate opposing Bianchi.
      Is Dan Valenti, a Stockbridge resident, a serious contender ? Is his likely candidacy all rhetoric ?
      A retread candidate in Ruberto ? An unknown emergent ? Many of Ruberto appointees are still holdovers in their positions. Has their political loyalties been switched to Bianchi ?
      Will Bianchi be unopposed ?
      Your thoughts ?

      • Tom Sakshaug
        March 29, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

        Ruberto will not run. Valenti will not move to Pittsfield. Either there will be no real opposition or the unknown will come through.

  6. Jonathan Melle
    March 27, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    Didn’t Walter Powell sue the city of Pittsfield for $1 million because he was discriminated against at the Pittsfield Police Department? That was over a decade ago. The city of Pittsfield’s legal woes go on and on.
    As for being incompetent, Jimmy Ruberto was the one who was incompetent. He saw thousands of lost jobs, GE leave town, KB Toys go bankrupt, and millions of dollars wasted on North Street.

    • FPR
      March 27, 2013 at 11:04 am #

      Just because someone sues the city doesn’t make or break the job a mayor or city council is doing. In the cases of Spectrum and Dohoney, they do expose the administration as being incompetent.

      As for Ruberto being incompetent, the verdict is not totally in. He did finally get voted out of office by the people in hopes the Bianchi would be better.

      Not sure how much the mayor had to do with GE leaving Pittsfield as opposed to cheap Chinese labor. KB toys bankruptcy was due to Bain Capital and Mitt Romney and it had nothing to do with the mayor. Investing millions into North St. is not necessarily a bad thing but failure to provide security and making it user friendly is. At least Ruberto took enough pride in “his” city to invest in it. He tried to keep Spectrum out. I give him credit for that.

      What is a huge waste of money is the new airport.

      There is nothing wrong with shaking up the powers that be in Pittsfield to be for the people. Ok, they tried to with Bianchi. Another failed attempt. Try again. To just say things have always been this way and always will be is not the answer. You’ve got real hope putting Dan in as mayor.

      What’s another white Italian mayor going to hurt?

      You’ve got nothing to lose and so much to gain.

      • Ed Shepardson
        March 27, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

        Mayor Ruberto was not voted out. He did not run.

      • dusty
        March 27, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

        Ruberto cared enough to invest in the city? He also cared enough about the city to raise taxes 8 times in 8 years and the money he invested certainly was not his. Many of his friends, who could afford to pay taxes, got their taxes cut way back.

        Yah, Ruberto cared like Romney cared. Just not about the 47% that did not have money.

        • billy
          March 27, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

          you want to blame tax increases ,blame them on the school department and 17 step increases and a total disregard for the world that is leaving their 18th. century style of teaching in the dust.

          • danvalenti
            March 27, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

            We agree, billy. Public education, with its monopoly, has become ineffective with little incentive to quality.

    • Blind Justice
      March 27, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

      Jerry Doyle sold out the city

  7. Shakes His Head
    March 27, 2013 at 11:43 am #

    My issues with the Spectrum case are that the City lost leverage by taking (at least publicly) the most extreme positions. The ABSOLUTELY NOT and the ABSOLUTELY WE CAN’T STOP IT. If either administration had stayed in the middle, then the likelihood of negotiation, rather than consent decree, increases. RLUIPA and ADA are very complex issues revolving around zoning and land uses. Clearly, Spectrum outfoxed the local players. And Bianchi was too content to blame the previous administration.

  8. Ron Kitterman
    March 27, 2013 at 12:53 pm # The Walter Powell suit had nothing to do with Mayor Ruberto, if you’re looking to rewrite history read the case and take notice of who the city solicitor back then ( Kate Alexander) we don’t live in a perfect world.

  9. Breaking News
    March 27, 2013 at 1:46 pm #


    How can you claim you broke the story when the Eagle first reported it on January 19th? The only reason you know about it is.because of the Eagle’s story.

    • danvalenti
      March 27, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

      Read what we wrote more carefully. We said we “fully exposed” the story. We didn’t claim to break it.

      • Breaking News
        March 27, 2013 at 7:19 pm #


        You wrote the following:

        “You might say we broke this story two months before it happened. We are that good.”

        Now, if you’re trying to split the rather fine hair that you “broke” the story that the City ultimately dropped the suit, you may be right. But competing with the Eagle isn’t going to get you too far. And, I’d dispense with your penchant for self-congratulation. It’s off-putting, to say the least.

        • danvalenti
          March 27, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

          You are correct. That’s why we do not “compete” with the Eagle. They do their thing, we do ours. Thanks for the correctives. We admit to being off-putting on occasion, but that’s part of our bread and butter to say nothing of our charm!

  10. Tony
    March 27, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

    The “Attorney Wars” is another example of the ominous danger of liability that our legal department is exposing the City of Pittsfield to. The city’s legal department should have done its due diligence before alleging malpractice against our former city attorney. They slandered his legal reputation before “really looking into the claim”. What attorney would ambush a colleague’s reputation only to decide after the fact that the allegations “probably wouldn’t have held up in court” as stated by the assistant solicitor? It should have been apparent to the solicitor when Judge Ford upheld the plans for demolition in 2010, that this was a legal demolition. The complaint against Dohoney came after the Solicitor lost another civil suit in a series of legal defeats. The city needs competent legal advice to run effectively and to protect it from the danger of massive legal judgments. Our administration should take a serious look at our legal department and the pattern being set before that ominous danger of liability becomes a reality.

  11. Jonathan Melle
    March 27, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

    Why are people saying that former Mayor Jimmy Ruberto invested in the city he cared about? He raised taxes way above the rate of inflation and the only thing that grew in Pittsfield was the municipal government. The single largest employer in the city of Pittsfield is the city of Pittsfield. The growth of the city government and it being the single largest employer is unsustainable. Thousands of jobs were lost under Ruberto and thousands more left the area. That is the Jimmy Ruberto legacy!

    • billy
      March 27, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

      Mr melle
      Do you actually believe everything you say?i would back up your venomous dislike for the former mayor with facts instead of empty proclamations.. like Wendy’s used to say ‘show me the beef’

      • Jonathan Melle
        March 27, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

        I personally and politically dislike Jimmy Ruberto. He ran a campaign saying he was going to change Pittsfield for the better. Lower taxes, lower crime, better schools, more accountable city government, more jobs, and the like. Jimmy Ruberto ended up doing the opposite of everything he promised. Moreover, Jimmy Ruberto ended up being the King of the Good Old Boys. He was worse the Gerry Doyle in terms of insider politics. Jimmy Ruberto spent the city’s treasure on revitalizing North Street. What did that do? There were no good jobs produced. Jimmy Ruberto was ethically challenged. I didn’t like it when Mayor Ruberto appointed Carmen Massimiano to the Licensing Board. I didn’t like it when Mayor Ruberto had Andrea Nuciforo swear him in to his 3rd term. Jimmy Ruberto was for the wealthy, elitist about arts and tourism, and taxed the working class out of their homes.

  12. Dave
    March 27, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

    Darren Lee has proven to be the best asset in the solicitor’s office by miles. If the next Mayor keeps the City Solicitor position instead of farming it out, I would suggest they promote Mr. Lee to the head position, and if she wants to stay on, Ms. Degnan take the supporting roll. I only watch them speaking in council chambers, but if that is an indication of how they present themselves in court, Mr. Lee is the best option to represent the city. In no way am I saying that Ms. Degnan is not a competant lawyer, but as I quoted the saying from the movie “A Few Good Men'” before on this website, -“That’s the difference between trial law and paper law”.

    • danvalenti
      March 27, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

      Our sense of this (and it’s just that) is that Darren Lee got caught in the middle. His boss, Degnan, asked him to handle this. Lee did as asked. It would seem if Degnan believed the case had merit, she would have prosecuted herself. She’s the city solicitor. Lee works for the city on a part-time basis. For his main bread and butter, he is an attorney in a private practice. Also, we share you estimation of Lee with respect to Degnan. He’s sharp.

  13. Evian
    March 27, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    I only saw that when Mr. Dohoney was handling Spectrum, the city was winning. My own personal opinion is that this was part of an oversall strategy of coming at Spectrum later from strength. When Ms. Degnan took over, the city squandered this opportunity by too much one-sided appeasement.

    I think everyone knew Spectrum was coming in, even Mr. Ruberto, but under his direction (or Dohoney’s) the city looked like it was playing it much smarter than after Mr. Bianchi became mayor and put Degnan on the case. Good job again DV.

    • Dave
      March 27, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

      When it came down to the final decision, which would have been years away, the public statement that Spectrum was coming to Pittsfield “over my dead body” by the Mayor would have been a definite loss by the city.The 3 “victories” by the city were about the Summer St. location. The city would not have been able to keep Spectrum from locating here. It is at Summer St. now and I have seen only 1 mention in the new police blotter log of an incident since they have located there. One might ask why the BB decided to start this new feature?

  14. billy
    March 27, 2013 at 6:16 pm #


    Their is a saying in Little Italy “”show me who your friends are and i will tell you about yourself” If this rings true it would show us that the mayor, why loyal to his inner circle does not monitor their job performance and make necessary changes when that performance endangers stability of the whole city.. The mayors first and only responsibility is to the citizens who elected him and not to settle personal scores with the help of his cronies.I would hope he tries to get city hall in order since people seem to be jumping ship worse than the Titanic.I have hopes that he will lose his go it alone attitude and compromise with those who dont share his views…He has to let the ghost of Jim Ruberto go and remember he got elected to a job of leading the city effectively..


    • danvalenti
      March 27, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

      Well expressed, b.

    • dusty
      March 28, 2013 at 2:23 am #

      I hope Jimmy Ruberto stays a ghost.