PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, MARCH 4, 2013) — Perhaps at the next Berkshire Chamber of Commerce “Good News” breakfast, C of C Grand Cheese Mike Supranowicz can share the following story with all the business types. It might not help them get down their $35 powdered-egg breakfasts, but it could serve as a fine paregoric to aid in the digestion of whatever ever greasy bits do make it to the assorted stomachs.

As the set-up and to coin a word, we share a “preamblic” observation. THE PLANET has on several previous occasions commented on the detrimental effect on meaningful economic development created by toxins left-behind in Pittsfield after General Electric closed shop.  The city has never received, or if so has never released, a list that inventories the amount of pollution still in its air, land, and soil. That is inarguable, beyond debate, and must be accepted as a given.

Another wet blanket as far as companies moving into the Pittsfield or expanding here has been the dreadful performance of the public schools over the past 25 years. Companies will examine the health of a public school system. When they do so with Pittsfield’s, they are left pondering such factors as the exodus due to school choice, declining enrollments, expanding staff, ever-growing budgets that produce diminishing returns, and even such specific one-offs such as the $9,000 prom money theft at PHS a couple years ago. The larceny was never explained, and the schools, the city, and police were for some odd reason eager to drop any inquiry.

Still another factor is the perception of public safety in the downtown, as this story by our good friend Andrew Amelinckx of the BB testifies:

Man charged with gross lewdness after alleged incident in bus station bathroom

Posted:   02/28/2013 11:06:17 AM EST
Updated:   02/28/2013 11:24:10 AM EST

PITTSFIELD — A 52-year-old woman who went to use the ladies room at the city’s bus station on Wednesday morning was “very shocked and grossed out” after a naked man began crawling toward her from underneath an adjoining stall, according to police.

“[A]ll of a sudden this naked body started to slide under the partition into my stall,” the woman told the Pittsfield Police. “He came so far into the stall that I saw up to his mid-torso … he was making moaning noises and grunting.”

On Wednesday afternoon in Central Berkshire District Court, the man who police say was the perpetrator, Eric Chretien, 42, of Tyler Street, pleaded not guilty to charges of open and gross lewdness and attempted indecent assault and battery. He is being held without bail.

Through his attorney, David Pixley, Chretien denied the charges and said he was simply using the bathroom. Chretien did admit to being drunk,  his attorney said.

According to a police report, during the incident, Chretien was touching himself and attempting to touch the woman with his naked body.

The woman told police she attempted to get away from Chretien, believing he was “a sicko,” but that it was a small space. She eventually jumped over him, ran out of the stall and asked someone to call the police for her.

When police arrived at the Joseph Scelsi Intermodal Transportation Center on Columbus Avenue, Chretien was still allegedly in the women’s bathroom, naked and locked in a


stall. He was eventually taken into custody and placed in lockup, where police say he again stripped down and began touching himself.

Pixley said his client suffers from mental health and alcohol abuse issues.

The Berkshire District Attorney’s Office said Chretien has prior lewdness and indecent exposure convictions — among a long list of other crimes — and has done state prison time.

The prosecution asked the court to set bail at $5,000 cash, and Chretien’s right to bail be revoked on an unrelated case that is scheduled for trial in July.

In that case, Chretien allegedly threatened to kill a stranger, was observed yelling, screaming and weaving in and out of traffic, and was combative with a police officer.

He has pleaded not guilty to assault and battery on a police officer, disorderly conduct and threat to commit murder.

District Court Judge Fredric D. Rutberg revoked Chretien’s right to bail on that case.

He can be held for up to 60 days without bail. After that, he must post $500 bail in order to be released. Chretien is expected back in court March 5.

—– 00 —–

The Strangeness of Life Has Brought Us Beyond Satire

Give us your tired, your poor, your perverts …

We are reminded of writer Paddy Chayefsky‘s observation that life has gotten so strange, so alien, and so bizarre as to make satire not only superfluous but nearly impossible. In an age of Honey Boo Boo, the garbage of “reality TV,” and events like this from the women’s bathroom at the bus station, most satire, in fact, would fall as flat at as a Florida pancake.

Think about what a story like this means for the downtown. Here we have a city of 40,000, with a well-equipped, trained, and staffed police department, that cannot secure the safety of citizens in a distance as short as the length between Park Square and Columbus Avenue. THE PLANET does not fault the police. Cops cannot know in advance where the criminals will strike. More often, as in this case, they can show up after the fact and perform judicial clean-up. The incident, though, does raise the question of deployment.

We wonder how does this incident reflect on Mayor Dan Bianchi‘s grasp of public safety. How “on top” of the city’s public safety needs is this mayor? How often and well does he communicate with not only Wynn but the patrol officers?

Feets, do yo’ stuff.

Specifically, where are the North Street foot patrols? Presently, the street is policed by squad cars driving through and, in fairer weather, by an occasional copy on a cycle. These measures, obviously, are inadequate for downtown. The pace of a foot patrol compared with a 35-mph drive through marks the difference between deterrence of crime and the mere delay of crime.

An incident like this mind-boggling peep show does horrible damage for the general public’s perception of the downtown. Start getting cops pounding the beat between Park Square and Maplewood Avenue, and that perception will begin to l improve.

Don’t just put any officers on the beat. They should be young, male, burly, with great personalities, and quick on the stick when given reason to be that way. Such an officer would use force as a last resort, but he would also have the intelligence, judgment, and command to wisely choose deployment and response tactics. This would begin to send the message to the creeps, perverts, drug dealers, gangs, and other “subterraneans” who have commandeered North Street as their own that they can’t use the heart of downtown alternately as a lobby, a trash bin, a urinal, a black marketplace, a stalking ground, and a place to get your rocks off.

THE PLANET cannot accept that the mayor and  Wynn can’t come up with a way to get patrols pounding the North Street beat. There’s no reason why that can’t happen immediately, as opposed to in October, just before the elections.



We can wring our hands all we want about the refusal of the Dems and the GOP to find common ground on the budget to prevent sequestering. We can … but we won’t. In fact, there’s much to like about the situation.

We like the forced cuts. The massive debt must be addressed. There is no painless way to do it.

Here’s one of THE PLANET’s favorites about the sequestering.

Because of the federal budget cuts, you won’t be seeing any more of those ridiculous, muscle-flexing flyovers prior to major sporting events such as the Superbowl and World Series. It seems that these “hoo-rah” shows of America’s military might suck up too much precious fuel, maintenance, and everything else it takes to keep the war birds flying.

According to the Washington Post, it costs $44,000 an hour to keep one F-22 jet in the air. The four jets in the flyover are probably in the air about six aggregate hours from beginning to end, which amounts to $264,000 per event.

That amount is chicken feed to Uncle Sam, but why waste it on flyovers when it can be wasted elsewhere?


“Death is the mother of beauty”Wallace Stevens




  1. Ron Kitterman
    March 4, 2013 at 9:42 am #

    Walking beats simply don’t work let’s use your fly over example for an example. The next time you go to Misquamicut Beach or the look around you and count the number of people sunning themselves, there are thousands of people doing the same thing you are doing. Look in the air at the fly over plane it’s advertising Paddy’s Restaurant and bar or some such place. Now you decide to venture into the water and enjoy the waves . You and your party put your watch and your $40 in your shoe and look around and jump around the surf, then venture off for a little walk to do some people watching. You come back check to make sure your $40 and watch hasn’t been stolen, thank God for that now we can venture off to Patty’s for clam cake and some fritters and a beer. All during this time you didn’t any cops protecting the beach. As someone who has had so many walking beats, I didn’t even know they had cruisers. I give Mayor Alcombright, Mayor Bianchi and Chief Wynn credit for standing up to the sidewalk engineers that thinks bringing back walking beats will work. This isn’t 1965 and we will never see the North Street we grew up with but that’s just the way it is.

    • Scott
      March 4, 2013 at 10:20 am #

      Ron wtf are you talking about??? Police presence does deter crime. It may not prevent it but appearance in problem areas will help good hardworking citizens forced by economics to live, work and raise families there. Then there is the peoples involvement. Don’t you think if someone sitting next to you on the beach would be more apt to say something if they knew you were gone and someone was taking your stiff and they knew a cop may be in ear shot away? The thief mat even think twice. I have never been enticed by airplane advertisements. I liked it when cops were on their bikes and the task force was raiding crack houses all over in the 90’s you could get in on the action just by walking down the street back then you’d see something. I saw a cop standing outside big Y and they even stop in Hashims once in a while on Fridays I like that and I’d bet my last dollar criminals or those with the propensity for doing wrong don’t. When I see a cop out I always thank them and tell them I’m glad to see them out.

    • FPR
      March 4, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

      So if cops have evolved beyond walking beats, did they also evolve beyond liking donuts?

      Letting the gangs overrun downtown is better than visible cops?

    • Mike Ward
      March 4, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

      Ron, you did the job so I respect your perspective on the subject of whether or not beat cops prevent crimes. But what if the goal is simply to make shoppers feel more comfortable about walking around on North Street? I have had countless visits to North Street for shopping, eating and entertainment and I have never felt like I was in any danger. (Seeing people who have problems is not the same as feeling in danger, for me anyway.) But many people do feel unsafe there and if regular beat cops changed that perception it would be a great thing for downtown businesses.

  2. The Professor and Mary Ann
    March 4, 2013 at 10:09 am #

    Did any one else note that in this time of domestic economic stress,our former Senator,John Kerry,had no problem with vowing to throw $250M at Egypt to accomplish something or other?That dough would go a long way in MA.What are they thinking?!!!

    • Blind Justice
      March 4, 2013 at 10:21 am #

      Did Kerry ever pay his taxes on his ocean liner?

    • Joe Blow
      March 4, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

      In addition to the $1.3 billion a year U.S. military aid we just gave them.

  3. The Professor and Mary Ann
    March 4, 2013 at 10:09 am #

    Did any one else note that in this time of domestic economic stress,our former Senator,John Kerry,had no problem with vowing to throw $250M at Egypt to accomplish something or other?That dough would go a long way in MA.What are they thinking?!!!

  4. Pat
    March 4, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    Dan, I agree that the forced tax cuts are great. Whatever it takes to save the country from complete bankruptcy because then we will all be on a sinking ship. If people think these cuts are really that bad, what would they do if the country went bankrupt and money became worthless? There is so much waste at the government level that should be addressed before any cuts are ever made to disabled people or the elderly. Government salaries should be severely cut to the bone to give these politicians some major motivation to fix the economy. No more perks like private jets and fancy restaurant dinners for these politicians and all the hundreds of other “special treatment” perks they receive. The
    politicians should suffer before the elderly or disabled have their benefits touched.

    I agree with you that Reality TV really does stink and people who watch it probably also watch Jerry Springer. Need I say more?

    Yes, the latest frightening incident on North Street should be brought up at the next Chamber of Commerce breakfast. Let’s all stop pretending we live in Pleasantville and lets admit we have real problems here in Pittsfield because just as an alcoholic must often hit rock bottom before they admit they need help, Pittsfield has hit rock bottom and must admit it in order to come back to life. People have to stop hiding their heads in the sand when it comes to these serious issues.

  5. The Kraken
    March 4, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

    Breaking news – TFB has sponsored a bill to tax people who crawl naked out of bathroom stalls. The bill’s provisions are as such:
    – Each MA. resident will be fitted with a transponder to record movement.
    – It will track and record everyone’s movements in any and all bathrooms, including how many feet were travelled, if they were clothed or not, and their blood alcohol level.
    – The perp was just one of the 1000 volunteers for this progressive and forward thinking bill.

  6. Mike
    March 4, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    Speaking of Jerry Springer, Pittsfield should look at this as a marketing opportunity to his show and others like them. Where else can you assure the producer of these shows a never ending supply of perverts and miscreants? Pittsfield is #1! Just imagine all the jobs this would create! And don’t forget, audience members to the first show get a free turkey baster…

    • Scott
      March 4, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

      The Turkey baster must be autographed by Conner Barry I’m still waiting for him to authenticate and give the rights to reproduce his signature maybe Dan can help with that. I’m telling you it’s a money maker every home in Pittsfield would want one!

  7. Gene
    March 4, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

    Great stuff, Planet. You can’t make it up. I respectfully and fully disagree with Ron K. The presence of police officers on foot patrol is a real deterrent to creeps and perverts. The absence invited what we see taking place downtown on a daily basis. My wife will no longer go downtown, period. No woman is safe.

    • Scott
      March 4, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

      It’s not that bad man but I hear ya my wife hates going to big y alone.

    • danvalenti
      March 4, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

      I, too, support cops pounding the beat. It is the best way to prevent crime on a cost-benefit basis.

  8. Jonathan Melle
    March 4, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

    Over the past generation, let us see where Pittsfield has spent its money. Pittsfield built a new jail. That cost millions of dollars. No one wants to go to jail. Pittsfield spent millions of dollars on revitalizing North Street. Most people avoid North Street. Pittsfield receives millions of dollars in state aid for its public schools. So the city spends big bucks on its public school system. The quality of education doesn’t matter, but the state aid does. It is a business. Like Dan Valenti wrote, new families choice out of Pittsfield or don’t move to Pittsfield. To recap, Pittsfield spent millions on a new jail, a dead downtown, and a failing public school system.

  9. Charles Trzcinka
    March 4, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

    The sequester requires cutting $44 billion from a Federal Budget that will be $3.58 trillion for fiscal year 2013 after the cuts. The Federal Budget will spend more this year than last after the cuts but some agencies will certainly be visibily affected. If the White House was willing to allow flexibilty even this pain would be minimized. It is not willing because they want taxes to be higher and want to blame the cuts on those who don’t. So we will see some pain but evidently not in the State Department or the Secret Service. The Planet will have plenty to talk about in the next month or so…

    • Scott
      March 4, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

      I just can’t get Rush’s voice out of my head “Obama want’s to inflict MAXIMUM pain on the American people!”

    • danvalenti
      March 4, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

      Excellent. I was not aware, not having done the math, that even AFTER the required cuts, this year’s budget will top last year’s. Also, when I look at $3.58 trillion, I remember jaws dropping not all those many years ago when the fed budget topped $1 trillion. Let’s see, $3.58 trillion is 358,000 million dollars, right? Pretty soon, we’ll be talking real money here!

  10. tito
    March 4, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

    Anyone see the news in Albany, a state trooper was assaulted by a knife attacker. Probably most officer’s would like to have a cruiser, where a high tech vehicle and safer venue, ( it’s a jungle out there) with that being said, patrols by foot would be welcomed by business and people who frequent business on North Street, just to ease the minds of good tax paying vendors, merchants and customers downtown would be a good thing. Merchants could supply coffee and warmth in the winter months for officers during these terse elements. I could never figure out why there aren’t more foot patrols, and have always been akin to seeing the boys in blue doing foot patrols, we Iike our cops! And we like them out there with us!

    • Scott
      March 4, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

      You know I thought of doing something like that you know grabbing a cop something to drink like coffee but they’d probably be reluctant to accept these days you never know.

      You know thinking about it on the cop knife attack thing that is terrible I wouldn’t wish that on anyone! I’d rather go close combat with an untrained guy who has a gun over a knife any day! Cops should be on their toes man you never know what some lunatic is gonna do!

    • danvalenti
      March 4, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

      Love the idea of merchants supplying coffee for cops. Tomorrow, THE PLANET will report on our talks with downtown merchants. Each was critical of the job the city is doing with the perception/reality of crime in the downtown. Each backed foot patrols.

  11. tito
    March 4, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

    If anything, you could place an officer in front of the old England Brothers,, the new millions of dollars Berkshire Bank office compound, could be a starting point for foot patrol.

    • Scott
      March 4, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

      Come on tito this isn’t rocket science put them on patrol in problem areas when it cools down and another area heats up send them there. Community involvement is key. Look at the kid who stopped someone from being shot he disarmed another kid with a loaded gun and HE’S the one in trouble. This is the world we are living in meanwhile other kids are getting suspended because they ate a pastry to look like a gun…

      This tells people to mind their own business if you get involved not only is your life in danger but you just may be arrested by the very cops that would fail to protect you in the event when you would need them the most just due to the fact when seconds count police are only minutes away. It’s our duty to protect ourselves and make our neighborhoods better. The cops only enforce when they see infractions, happen to be there by luck or they respond to take photo’s and gather evidence.

  12. Ron Kitterman
    March 4, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

    Walking beats are sometimes are used as a form of punishment, certainly not in Pittsfield but in other areas of the Commonwealth. ( As far as making you feel safer and deterring crime, I just don’t see it as the highest and best use of a police officer. Since the 1920’s when Chief John L. Sullivan ran the department with 38 patrolmen the call has been we need more officers and they should be paid more money. Unfortunately , that will not solve our problem in my view anyway.

  13. tito
    March 4, 2013 at 7:03 pm #

    That’s the first time my name was mentioned in the same sentence with rocket science, thanx Scott. That was tongue in cheek about the B B Bank foot patrol. You have over two thousand comments over there on Topix..TWO THOUSAND, as to date have any of your comments been implemented in any way? Please name at least one?

    • Scott
      March 5, 2013 at 4:47 am #

      I don’t comment on topix.

    • Scott
      March 5, 2013 at 5:14 am #

      Oh you mean “disqus” yes I practice what I preach. I have a family and I treat them with love and respect and encourage individual thought, self defense and respect for those who deserve it. I write political “leaders”, I vote and I especially vote with my dollars it is big especially when I buy stuff my family will consume. I don’t know what that has to do with anything but I hope I helped. You seem a little nosy for a guy who posts online under various aliases. What is it you’re hiding???

  14. tito
    March 4, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

    I’d like to see auxiliary police, not to make arrests per say, but they could deter traffic violators with there presence, jaywalkers, and could radio in for help when needed. just a uniform is sometimes enough to deter crime.

    • FPR
      March 4, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

      Let’s just make everyone a cop then they’ll be no bad guys.

      • Scott
        March 5, 2013 at 5:17 am #

        Let me ask you a question if you saw some young guys beating and robbing someone or a guy pounding his girlfriend or kids would you intervene??? I would even if it meant putting myself in danger why not. That doesn’t make me a cop or some big tough guy just I would help someone who was in danger or needed help and I would hope someone would do the same for me.

        • FPR
          March 5, 2013 at 6:25 am #

          I understand your sentiment Scott.

          However, would you really wanna get involved between a dispute with the bloods and the crips?

          When you go and get your concealed carry permit, did you know the chief Michael Wynn will ask you that very question. He will advise you that carrying a firearm does NOT make you a police officer and you are not to get involved in any police matter. Doing so will land you in prison.

          • Scott
            March 5, 2013 at 6:55 am #

            You don’t even talk to the chief when you get a pistol permit. And no I would let the dirt bag gangs kill each-other off it’s easier. I ain’t no killer.

          • Scott
            March 5, 2013 at 6:58 am #

            Concealed carry is for personal protection it doesn’t make you a cop I understand that. I would never want to be in a situation that resulted in the discharge of a firearm in my direction or someone else’s. The best thing to do in that case is get to cover and wait it out chances are if you’re not involved you won’t be a target this is a worst case scenario we’re not having shootouts in Pittsfield yet oh wait yes we are!

          • FPR
            March 5, 2013 at 7:11 am #

            Not trying to start an argument but Yes you do have to have an interview with Chief Wynn when you get a concealed carry permit. Absolutely.

            Tells me you don’t have one.

            No matter though — your choice.

      • danvalenti
        March 5, 2013 at 8:18 am #

        Love it, FPR. It’s rather like Archie Bunker’s solution to plane hijackings: Arm every passenger with a handgun.

        • Scott
          March 5, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

          At least the pilot should have one Dan!

          FPR you’re wrong you only have to take a course and meet with sue Wheeler my wife and I never talked with or met chief Wynn. It may be different now plus how would you know you don’t even live here anymore. I also doubt he would ask such a stupid hypothetical question. No argument for me believe what you want it’s still a free country.

          Another Archie Bunker quote when confronted with gun murder statistics he replied “would it make you feel better little girl if they was pushed outta windows!

          • FPR
            March 5, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

            As of two years ago that was the policy that you had to have an interview with Chief Wynn.

            And it may be a stupid question but he did ask. It is possible that its different now – perhaps he is too busy to meet with every applicant.

  15. JB
    March 4, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

    With respect to the fly overs. Can’t say I disagree with the sentiment entirely,,,,BUT…..let me add a bit more personal observation , albeit 40 year old observations, to the picture that may sway the balance a bit.

    We have a military, in that military, there are flight crews, those flight crews need to fly to keep up whatever skill set they have. They can do a lot in a simulator, but still need actual flight time (soiree’s) to keep the edge sharp.

    Is it possible that routine flyovers are just that? 25 minute active flights to no where that keep pilots and crews in a ready state? The flights have to take place anyway, why not in a way that keeps them in the public eye?

  16. dusty
    March 5, 2013 at 1:37 am #

    I am a bit surprised that the Chamber of Commerce does not insist on foot patrols. If I were a North street business man I would certainty want anything that might make people to feel safe coming to my place of business. It may not be glamorous but we are paying these guys to serve and protect. Nobody ever said it would be easy did they?

    • Scott
      March 5, 2013 at 5:18 am #

      I was reading an article that stated police have no obligation to protect you. I don’t know if that statement is true or different for different states.

  17. tito
    March 5, 2013 at 5:48 am #

    North Street is social services alley, just like someone has said.

    • Scott
      March 5, 2013 at 5:55 am #

      What have you done to make it better other than make irrelevant tongue and cheek innuendo on internet comment sections under a veil of anonymity??? Name ONE!

  18. tito
    March 5, 2013 at 6:15 am #

    I have used your services, you have done contract work for me! Does that Qual’ if I.

    • Scott
      March 5, 2013 at 6:44 am #


  19. Gene
    March 5, 2013 at 8:15 am #

    Scott and Tito i like both of you with regard to contributions to the Planet but please I can see this getting a little hot. Just respect each other keep contributing your unique pov, and it will be best for all. DV has worked hard to keep this comment section on a high level let’s keep it that way. Again said with great respect to both of you.

    • Scott
      March 5, 2013 at 11:16 am #

      I never take anyone too seriously. I have thick skin and an appetite for the debate of my ideals.

  20. Scott
    March 5, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    FPR I can’t believe he asked you that! What a ridiculous question. I would have gave him the same answer I gave you let them kill each other and get cover lol any sheriff or law man worth his salt would encourage armed citizens. A law abiding armed citizen is a cops best friend in a time of need when back up is either out of reach or on their way.

  21. tito
    March 6, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

    Gene were you in the Godfather? With great respect, nice, will remit.