ON ASSIGNMENT, EDEN HILL: ABOUT AS FAR AWAY FROM THE GRUNGE OF POLITICS AS POSSIBLE … LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: MORE NEPOTISM IN THE COURTS? and ARE BEEPERS REVERTING TO OLD, ALCOHOLIC WAYS? … plus … CHAMBER’S SUPRANOWICZ HAS TONS OF FUDGE ON HIS FACE OVER HOTEL NUMBERS
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10, 2013) — THE PLANET spent a day Sunday covering an event that brought us as far away from politics as one could possibly imagine. We found ourselves on Eden Hill in Stockbridge at the home of the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy for Divine Mercy Sunday. The assignment produced a feeling that you get after you’ve taken a shower: toweled off, relaxed, clean.
Divine Mercy Sunday is the final day in the Octave of Easter, a day proclaimed by the universal Church during which God showers his love, mercy, and compassion on all of humanity. This year’s event drew more than 17,000 people. Think of it as a Catholic Woodstock. THE PLANET was there to provide web coverage.
Along the way, we ran into lots of folks and friends, including Ric Feteridge, whose production company was providing TV for the worldwide broadcast on EWTN. We had a chance to chat for a few minutes, between his camera work and my scribing. Ric, you remember, was the driving force behind the Lighthouse Reunion at the Boy’s Club back in September. He’s one of the good guys.
The subject matter — God and his mercy — gets to the core of our purpose here on earth. Many of us ask: “Is that all there is?” of the events that unfold to make up our daily life. The answer is “no.” What lies beyond? It is incumbent upon all of us to seriously explore the answer to that question. That’s what goes on at an event like this. The “self-examined” life allows no substitutes. Answers in this aspect of life are as important as the questions themselves. One should listen to everyone. One should take from outside all there is to be taken. In the end, though, the best advice is solitude, so as better to perceive company, and silence, so as better to received counsel and wisdom. For prayer, to recall the poet Edmund Waller (1606-1687), is the ocean where diversely people steer their course, each to a different coast.
“In praise, we nobly give what God may take, / And are, without a beggar’s blush, forgiven.”
Where, who, what is your God? What direction of the narrow compass do you choose to follow. These are the matters that ultimately count. Not the perchances of petty politics. Not the pursuit of vainglory. Not the glorification of self. And yes, before you throw the first stone, we plead as guilty on these counts and more so than the next fellow.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
‘More Nepotism in the Court House’ Alleged
TO THE PLANET:
I work at court …You might be interested to know that court clerk Chris Speranzo got a buddy of his hired as facilities manager over a man that has done the job for 6 years, has all the knowledge of those buildings, and got passed over because of the continued nepotism in the state. Nepotism? The person who was hired is 25 years old, has no experience in facilities management or maintenance, and just by coincidence happens to be the son of the chief probation officer in district court, John Walsh. This could be a game changer in this place… It sucks that the guy who was passed over put his heart and soul into the place….He was here constantly on his own time and never got paid the manager’s salary. Basically courts got 6 years at a bargain price, and then in return they do this to him ….? — The Picker
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THE PLANET replies:
Thank you for the information. We have talked to other court house employees, and they have confirmed much what you say here: That the new hire is the son of John Walsh, chief probation officer in district court, that Speranzo, as magistrate, used his influence to help the hiring (to what extent we don’t know; it could be as little as not doing anything to oppose it to more), and that a much more experienced person was bypassed. We did not confirm that the new hire, Patrick Walsh, is “a buddy” of Speranzo. That may or may not be.
The person bypassed, from what we have learned, is Mike Dascani, who has served as de facto facilities manager for six years, even though he was not given the title or the money that goes with it. THE PLANET has learned that Patrick Walsh, 25, began work as facilities manager of District Court on April 1. This hire is more than interesting, given the Ware Commission‘s probe into the shady hiring and promotional practices that have gone on in the court system’s probation department over the years. This kind of nepotism, if that’s what this is, will hit a raw nerve in Boston. How it all plays out here remains to be seen.
We can add one more thing: On the application form for the position, there is a line that asks new hires if they are related to anyone in the court system. Applicants are required by law to disclose any such connections. Did Patrick Walsh disclose that John Walsh is his father? We don’t know. If he did, he then he told the truth. If he didn’t, that would be another matter entirely.
Not knowing anything else, THE PLANET will assume young Mr. Walsh was chosen for reasons that can be properly explained and accepted by a disinterested third party as reasonable. THE PLANET would love to know young Walsh’s qualifications for this job that would make him a superior choice over the experienced Dascani, who fellow employees say is a hard worker, reliable, and conscientious to a fault. On the surface, we can’t see it. THE PLANET invites Patrick and John Walsh, and also Chris Speranzo, to contact us and explain this hiring. If there’s a good explanation, we’d like to hear it. If there’s not, the silence will be deafening. We remain open to all sides of this story. — THE PLANET
—– oo —–
Are Beepers Back to Old Habits?
TO THE PLANET:
Did you notice the latest edition [April 3] of Berkshire Business News [a monthly publication of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce]. Among the boring photos, there’s the pictures on page 8, “It’s a Wrap.” It shows in one of the photos to people, David Palmieri and Ed Bride, holding drinks. PLANET I am shocked. Shocked! Drinks! What’s next? Seltzer bottles?
On page 10, “BYP Out and About,” knowing your interest in the “Beepers,” we have nine pictures of frozen faces staring smiles into the camera. There are no captions and the identities of the Young Berkshire Professionals whose pictures are there, a version of protecting the innocent, as the used to say on the old Dragnet TV show. No drinks are shown, as per the policy after the Meredith Nilan-Petter Moore meeting in the night, but in the lower left photo there are three fresh-faced, well-scrubbed Beepers. Behind then is a loaded bar replete with every liquor you can imagine. Planet, again, I am shocked. Shocked! Please say that the Beepers are not about to resume their bacchanelia again. — Hot and Bothered
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Dear Hot and Bothered:
Thank you for your letter. We were not aware of these apparent egregious violations of the Chamber’s own internal directives about not showing booze or drinks in photos, especially as it pertains to Beepers. We agree with you about the mind-numbingly stilted photos, no variants on the “stare-into-camera-and-be-seen” variety that peppers such self-referential house organs as this newspaper. In publishing this letter, we are passing it along not only to the PLANET universe but also to the Chamber’s brain trust. We give them the monotonous benefit of the insipid doubt in this case. We shall also advise the editor of the organ, Ashley Sulock, to look up the word “jujune.” — THE PLANET
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If you have a letter you’d like to share, send it along to THE PLANET at this address or to email@example.com. We welcome all points of view.
SUPRANOWICZ: FUDGING THE NUMBERS ON A HOTEL PROJECT
The latest super-duper hotel project looking to locate in the city of Pittsfield is 95-room, four-story Hilton hotel being promoted by Vijay Mahida. If approved, it will be located next to Dr. Lahey’s Garden Center on South Street near the Lenox line.
Mike Supranowicz, president and CEO of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, boasts about the 25 to 30 jobs that the hotel will create — 25 to 30 service-type jobs that pay hourly and not enough for a person, let alone a breadwinner of a family, to make a comfortable living. This is not progress. This is regression, as the city continues to settle for less than its good people deserve.
Our favorite part of this story is what Supranowicz told our good friend, Tony Dobrowolski of the BB: “When you add up the direct, indirect, and induced economic results, we estimate that the ongoing operation of the Hilton Garden Inn could generate about $4 million of total economic impact annually in the Berkshires,” said Supranowicz.” Tony Dee then adds this disclaimer: ” … said Supranowicz, who stressed that he was confident in those numbers.” Talk about the kiss of death. That’s like the general manager of a professional sports team issuing a “vote of confidence” in the manager or head coach.
Let’s examine Supranowicz’s gobbledy gook more closely:
First, he says, the hotel “could” generate $4 million annually. That is the same as saying it “could not.”
Second, the number is an “estimate.” Note Supranowicz says, “we estimate …” Good. Who is “we”? He also doesn’t give a clue upon what “we” based the estimate. The number is therefore meaningless, but it looks good for public consumption as smoke-and-mirrors PR.
Third, there’s the ominous phrase “ongoing operation.” Is this a hedge against seasonal operation, or worse, failure? You only have to look at the rotting hulk of the gigantic and empty Patriot Resorts hotel to get the drift.
Fourth, what the heck are “indirect” and especially “induced” costs? Looks to THE PLANET as if Supranowicz has fudge smeared all over his puss. “Induced costs.” Really?
Fifth, and finally, the kicker of proof that this $4 million number is pulled out of a hat and is next to worthless is Supranowicz’s insistence that “he was confident in those numbers.” TRANSLATION: He knows the numbers are as shaky as a little girl’s first walk in high heels.
With this type of blatant fudging, it becomes a reasonable question to wonder when and where the taxpaying public will be screwed again?
Also, With a 91-room Marriott Courtyard looking to be built in that same area, nearly that same spot, you have to wonder: How many hotels rooms can the area sustain?
“My love is now awake out of her dreams, / And her fair eyes, like stars that dimmed were / With darksome cloud, now show their goodly beams …” — Edmund Spenser
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.