PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, APRIL 2, 2013) — New information has emerged about the slow-moving federal investigation into the Lee Police Department‘s administration of a toy fund. Long-time Lee cop and current police chief Joe Buffis is the fund’s manager. Buffis remains the central figure in the proobe.

Emerging key findings of the ongoing probe include, according to the Attorney General’s office:

* The Lee Police Association (LPA) has not filed required paperwork with the state Attorney General since 2004, according to the AG’s office. The eight-year lapse pertains to the Laliberte Toy Fund, managed by the association and Buffis.

* Emalie Gainey, AG Martha Coakley‘s mouthpiece, said the association “would need to register and file annual financial reports for the … funds it raised.” In other words, just because it is a “non-profit,” it must file with the AG. That procedure and requirement is the public’s best safeguard that raised monies are used as advertised.

* During the years for which the association did not file reports, the LPA raised $62,000.

* To be able to raise funds in this way, state charities “must register with and file annually” with the AG. Gainey said. “There are, to our knowledge, no additional annual filings received by this office past 2004.”

* No evidence has surfaced that the LPA has ever filed a federal tax return as required by law. This  presents a major red flag.

* The IRS said it has no records that the LPA has a Federal Employer Identification Number, which it would be required to have in order to file federal taxes required of a non-profit organization — and yet, something strange can be evidenced in the LPA’s state filings for 2001, 02, 03, and 04. The association’s four Form 990 filings leave blank the space for its employment identification number. It doesn’t add up.

* The LPA’s 2004 filing with the state lists an amount raised that is less than what the toy fund told the Boring Broadsheet for that year. Wherein lies the truth?

* In 2001, the toy fund told the state it raised no money that year. However, it told the Boring Broadsheet it raised $8,406. Which is it?

* The documents list Buffis as the manager of the funds. For the LPA’s address, the form lists Buffis’ home address.

Nobody Knows Nuttin

Buffis has not returned THE PLANET’s requests for comment. Buffis has also ignored other requests for comment. Bob Nason, Lee town administrator, has refused the request for comment. The Lee Police Department has consistently refused requests for comment. Right. Nobody knows nuttin. When everybody clams up like this, it’s a pretty good indication that the authorities are barking up the  right tree. Likely, a skunk’s that’s been cornered.

While noting the presumption of innocence of and and all who may be involved and also pointing out that as of this date no criminal charges have been filed, it doesn’t take John Kenneth Galbraith or Karl Marx to realize that:

1. When funds are raised from the public

2. Without proper filings and accounting practices,

3. Temptation raises its repellent head

4. And people, particularly those who hold public office and power and can be considered to some extent to be above reproach, can succumb.

This is money kind-hearted members of the public gave to support a toy fund. There needs to be a stiff accounting. if the fund has been ripped off, the fullest extent of the consequential law must be leveled.

 —– 00 —–

Berkshire Beacon Steals the Boring Broadsheet‘s Lunch

Much of this information was first published in a March 21 piece by reporter Bera Dunau in the Berkshire Beacon. This story should have been owned, positively possessed outright, by the BB. In another era, the Eagle would have sold bales of papers with its coverage of this story. Instead, while the BB was covering the Rotary Club‘s Pancake Breakfast and how “excited” Mayor Bianchi was about the second grade science fest, the other BB, the Beacon, pulled the scoop. It’s a measure of both how the former Eagle has become a tired, timid, and toothless shell of its former shell and how more-hungry alternative media can swoop in for the kill, provided that the ownership has some guts.

 THE PLANET has worked in many media, including print  broadcast, and cyberspace. It has long been our view that the more media covering the public life of a community the better We The People can be served. More is better than fewer when it comes to the media. That especially holds true today, even as the Boring Broadsheet, The Newspaper Once Known As The Berkshire Eagle, continues its long retreat into irrelevance and local radio has become a sycophantic catch-all for local fluff, puff, bluff, and stuff that is extraneous, unrelated, and inapplicable. What passes for local talk radio would make even a downtown diva wretch. For the Broadsheet and local radio, chiseling a buck out of Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski is in. Investment in news is out.

Nonetheless, the more media the merrier, because it allows a greater chance for stories to find their way into daylight that would otherwise be hidden and deliberately buried. THE PLANET’s adventures in cyberspace journalism has certainly been a game changer in terms of an additional way for stories to “get  out.” We presently take no ads and have remained non-commercial as a way to assure everyone of our independence — “Unbought and unbossed,” as our motto phrases it. No other local or regional media outlet that is offering serious news, journalism, and commentary on a daily basis can make that claim. So-called “non-commercial” public radio broadcasts as many “commercials” as its commercial counterparts, only it plays a game of pretend by calling its advertisers “underwriters.”

THE PLANET — Free to Look, Quick to Expose, and Even Offer a Little Poetry to Boot

Uh, sure.

Besides, public radio and TV take federal money. THE PLANET uses 100% internal funding. We don’t take from anyone, and that’s why we, alone, remain independent in the fullest sense of that word, free to look into anything and expose everything — or share poetry, if that is what we wish.

With that kind of autonomy comes a fearlessness to look behind the curtain when The GOB Establishment Wizard desperately tells you not to do that very thing. THE PLANET does not have to battle with sponsors, as we’ve done throughout our career in other media, commercial media, and thus we look where we please, when we please, and how we please. No one will scare us off a story.

With these remarks as preamble, we commend alternative outlets such as 1Berkshires, the Berkshire Beacon, the Berkshire Record, the Pittsfield Gazette (although it has lately been suffering a serious case of torpor), WTBR and its programming, Berkshire Magazine, and even such house organs as the Berkshire Jewish Star, the Berkshire Senior, the animal newspaper, and the like. Any one of these might unearth a story or even provide a piece of information that can be used to triangulate with other data, knowledge, and intelligence to help us make sense out of public life.


“Shall one man drive before him ten / Unstrung from sea to sea? Let thought be free. I speak / Of the spirit’s weaving, the neural / Web, the self-true mind, the trusty reflex.”Richard Wilbur 




  1. in the know
    April 2, 2013 at 8:13 am #

    Dan So what is the new information? All you stated was in the Berkshire Record a month ago All you wrote was the same back patting of not taking any advertising money that you say every week. Yawn.. OLD NEWS!

    • danvalenti
      April 2, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

      This information is be new to a lot of people. Just because you know it, because you are”in the know,” doesn’t mean others do. It’s an important story the development of which the BB has ignored. That’s the point here.

      • In the know
        April 2, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

        Dan. Just admit you we’re too busy to write a original column .

        • Liz Arrington
          April 2, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

          Why should he? No one owns the facts of this case. Facts are facts no matter who reports them or when. As Dv says the point of the column besides giving the update is to make a point about the media. Face it ITK you just want to be critical of DV and that’s the best you can do here!!

  2. FPR
    April 2, 2013 at 8:28 am #


    Good points today.

    Some think the main stream media is still independent. For from it. The main stream news media a totally controlled.

    Conan O’Brien did a little clip to be funny. However, it exposes something of far more significance. His comment at the end is classic. Only a min or so in length………

    • Scott
      April 2, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

      We don’t them to tell us anything!

  3. GMHeller
    April 2, 2013 at 8:53 am #

    MKr. Valenti,

    Now that ace journalist Andy Mick is now a civilian (as of April 1st, he’s retired and no longer publisher of the BB), maybe it’s time to interview good ol’ boy ‘Ace’ and inquire as to what he thinks is the reason no one at the BB has bothered so far to ask the hard questions and get to the bottom of the Toy Fund caper.
    Surely, after such a brilliant career at New England Newspapers, Inc., ‘Ace’ Mick must have plenty of valuable insight.

    • dusty
      April 2, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

      My guess is that Mick knows where a lot of bodies are buried and how they got there. But he managed to keep it all to himself for many years so don’t look for him to start squealing now.

  4. Jonathan Melle
    April 2, 2013 at 9:53 am #

    Pittsfield politics is run by the Good Old Boy network. The Beagle is part of the G.O.B. Ordinary citizens who want to participate in their local and state government are intimidated by the G.O.B. I was black-listed for participating in state and local government in Pittsfield. I couldn’t find or keep a job because the G.O.B. didn’t like me. You, Dan Valenti, are one of the few voices of Liberty in Pittsfield. You aren’t afraid of the G.O.B. I am proud of you, Dan Valenti.

    • Scott
      April 2, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

      Johnathan come on man you blame everyone else for your problems you have to stop that take it from me I’m not perfect but you’ll be better off when you accept your mistakes, take responsibility for your actions and move forward with self awareness.

  5. Scott
    April 2, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    Nothing worse than steeling from a charity to fulfill your own greed. I hope if found guilty he’s get’s the most time allowed by law in the worst federal prison.

    • dusty
      April 2, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

      Stealing from children is unconscionable. Kind of reminds me of a city where the school committee takes tax money meant for the children and distributes it to the figurehead administrators. And now want a piece of that pie themselves.

  6. Larry
    April 2, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    One would think that justice would have been served by now…. Unfortunately, since nothing has come of it yet there must not be a very strong case.

    • in the know
      April 2, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

      Larry Good point. If they had the goods arrests would be made already.

      • Scott
        April 2, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

        Not necessarily. There doesn’t need to be an arrest to file charges and make a date to appear in court. I imagine since he is the police chief he has a spotless record and they may be giving him PR figuring he will show up for any court appearance that requires he be there. A friend of mine in law enforcement always told me there’s really no difference between them and the criminals he says most of the bad ones are worse!

        • In the know
          April 2, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

          Scott. The best they can do is say he kept bad records. I’m not saying Buffis is innocent , just saying not enough evidence.

          • danvalenti
            April 2, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

            You cannot “know” that. All that can be said, factually, is that no charges have yet been files. There may be tons of evidence or not one scrap of evidence. No one “knows.”

          • Scott
            April 2, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

            I guess we’ll have to wait and see this and the triple murder will keep us entertained and perplexed in 2013!

          • bobbyd
            April 3, 2013 at 6:00 am #

            DV: Since when is “all that can be said factually” the standard here?

          • danvalenti
            April 3, 2013 at 7:54 am #

            When facts are called for and known, the answer is “from day 1.” Remember, my good friend, that this website posts news “and commentary.” “Commentary” is an interpretation of facts. Thanks for your post.

    • Paul Smith
      April 2, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

      Not necessarily, that is, if you’re familiar with federal investigations, as I am. Feds must be extremely careful procedurally, far more than a pure local probe. In layman’s terms, the FBI here is penetrating two levels of government. Typically this would not be their jurisdiction. That it is suggests the opposite from ITK suggests. As DV has correctly pointed out no charges have been filed no arrests have been made. What that means no one can tell.

      I’m hoping there is a good explanation for the oddities of this case. As has been said stealing from children if that’s what has been done is the lowest.

      • Scott
        April 2, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

        Paul I read your post after I posted I swear!

      • danvalenti
        April 2, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

        Excellent posting, PAUL. This “moves the conversation forward.”

  7. Joe Blow
    April 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

    Aw c’mon lets give Buffis a break…it costs a lot to fund motocross training and racing.

    • In the know
      April 2, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

      Low blow Joe. Even for you.

      • Joe Blow
        April 2, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

        If you were really in the know you would have already heard what was going on.

        • In the know
          April 2, 2013 at 8:05 pm #

          Mr Blow. I’ve heard all the stories out there. I’ll say it again so you c a n understand this ……If they have the goods why don’t they charge him? You can make your little theory’s but why has it taken 6 months with no charges?

          • danvalenti
            April 3, 2013 at 7:58 am #

            The answer to your question, is known only to the officials. As Paul Smith noted, a federal probe into what would otherwise be a local matter has attached to it a lot more “t”s that have to be crossed and “i”s to be dotted. No charges yet can mean anything one wants it to mean, but it can neither be taken as a definitive proof of innocence or guilt.

  8. Joe Blow
    April 2, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

    I found this little nugget in the BB article on teen pregnancy “54.7 percent of the city’s total births in 2010 were to women on public assistance, while 56.7 percent were to single mothers.”

    • danvalenti
      April 2, 2013 at 6:16 pm #

      Yes, Joe, and the BB included this in a “good news” story about teen pregnancy rate being down!

  9. Giacometti
    April 2, 2013 at 11:30 pm #

    Some good intentioned organizations think they are ” non-profit “. when in fact they are ” not for profit ” this is evident in this case by the fact that this toy fund never bothered to get its 501(c)3 federal tax exempt number which requires it to file annually with the IRS and the Massachusetts Attorney General. Being ” non- profit ” is never as easy as some people think it is and failing to
    report activity annually can get you into a heap of trouble quickly.

    • danvalenti
      April 3, 2013 at 7:55 am #

      Excellent distinction, G. The paperwork requirements are there as important safeguards for We The People. If “not-for-profit” organizations are what they claim, they should have no problem providing the required information.

      • dusty
        April 3, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

        Then why do some use the Cayman Isles to hide their money???

  10. GMHeller
    April 3, 2013 at 9:49 am #

    Mr. Valenti,
    One aspect of this federal investigation into the allegedly missing Toy Fund money is the question of just who it was in the first place who tipped off the authorities — and why?

  11. Giacometti
    April 3, 2013 at 9:05 pm #


    tax shelters are used by organizations who just want to avoid paying taxes altogether. Only ” non-profits ” must report their fundraising activities.. ” Not for Profits ” are just like anyone else and must report all sales, money raised and money spent.
    It is very difficult to get ” non-profit ” status under the IRS and is even more difficult to close up a ” non-profit ” organization which may be the reason many organizations hope to avoid red flags and just do nothing…but the IRS and the State Attorney Generals Office eventually finds out what you are up
    to and you are dead meat…in the end your character and that of your organization will never recover so really its just not worth it.