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.

FACE IN THE CROWD: THE PLANET at work, surfing a story for the web, on Eden Hill, Divine Mercy Sunday. We can be seen in the black hat and red lanyard, just below and to the right of the Tv camera on the right. (Photo by Felix Carroll)

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.



‘More Nepotism in the Court House’ Alleged



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

—– 00 —–

THE PLANET replies:

Dear Picker:

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?


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

—– 00 —–

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

—– 00 —–

 If you have a letter you’d like to share, send it along to THE PLANET at this address or to We welcome all points of view.



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





  1. Scott
    April 10, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    Dan, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. Or under a veil of anonymity with access to a key board and internet connection…

  2. Scott
    April 10, 2013 at 10:38 am #

    I liked how they said in the article on the new environmentally friendly hotel (as if the hotel itself will have no impact on nature.) that so much land around it was going to be saved for environmental conservation purposes which to me means nothing because at the end of the day they are kicking lot’s of wild life out of their homes and we have enough hotels but if Tool (I think that’s the guys name he owned South Mountain Grill.) has the private funds and is able to take the risk then good for him I with him the best in his business ventures.

  3. Ron Kitterman
    April 10, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    I agree with Scott, I think it’s Joseph Toole’s Yankee Hotel Inn and Suites that is proposing the project. As a Lenox business he’s a sucessful business man and if he or his company want to make the investment welcome to Pittsfield and best wishes. We should be rolling out the red carpet if we ever had one.

    • dusty
      April 10, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

      So will this guy get the normal largess of tax breaks from city hall? If the non profits are not going to pay anything and new business is not going to pay, then I guess us working folk will have to continue to carry the load. Kind of makes me feel important.

      • Scott
        April 10, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

        You should and take pride that you carry the weight of the , lazy, sick and drug induced entitled crowd. They are a few generations in by now.

  4. Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
    April 10, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    There are 2 Hotels proposed. One by Mr Toole and the other by Mr. Mahida. Why roll out the red carpet when The Patriot Suites sits there collecting dust as we speak? Also, how “green” is a hotel just becasue it uses natural soap when another huge empty hotel sits less than a mile away…doesn’t sound environmentally friendly to me at all…but hey if Joe Toole isn’t asking for any money then it’s his choice and risk…

    • danvalenti
      April 10, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

      Correct, HILLY. The hotel by Dr. Lahey’s is being proposed by Mahida. Joe Toole wants a Marriott at the corner of Dan Fox Drive and Route 7. They are separate projects, unrelated as far as we know. We also agree fully that if this is solely private money being used as risk capital, then the entrepreneurs are doing it the right way. It’s not like that area is pristine. Lenox and Pittsfield destroyed that quaint notion long ago.

  5. Joe Blow
    April 10, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    Nepotism is a way of life in this state, just look at a list of city employees. It’s always been who you know not what you know. In other news….a farmer’s market in a parking lot when the Common is right across the street!! Who wants to stand around on hot asphalt in the summer and where will people park? I have no problem with a farmers market as long as it is self sustaining.

  6. joetaxpayer
    April 10, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

    Partriot Suites has been bought and is going to be converted into time shares by Salco Co. of Pittsfield. Mr. Mahida Hilton Garden is being built on land that has already been developed. Joe Toole’s Marriott is being put on commercial land on Dan Fox. It will be developed with or without this project going forward, someday.I say build away, we need the room tax to feed the pig. (Pittsfield Government)

    • Scott
      April 10, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

      Wow John was paid a lot of money to build that place to begin with as well as being awarded numerous other projects by Patriot suites and Jiminy. Good for him.

      • joetaxpayer
        April 11, 2013 at 3:05 am #

        The building was not bought, my bad. Same owners are putting 1 million into renovating kitchens into full kitchens. Then trying to sell the 142 units as timeshares.

        • Scott
          April 11, 2013 at 3:45 am #

          OK I didn’t think sallyCO was doing that well but I was happy for all the employees that need work.

          • joetaxpayer
            April 11, 2013 at 11:56 am #

            Salco is doing the renovations.

    • Mike Ward
      April 10, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

      I think they made the right choice. If Pittsfielders can’t get out of their cars to buy a crappy coffee at DD they’re certainly not going to walk across First Street for a bunch of carrots.

      • Mike Ward
        April 10, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

        sorry, I replied to the wrong joe!

        • C. J.
          April 11, 2013 at 5:27 am #

          Hey Mike. Think of how media opinionated you can be when you return to local politics and run this fall for mayor. Ever think about it ?

          • Mike Ward
            April 11, 2013 at 11:43 am #

            Thanks, I think. Maybe one day when my kids are grown.

      • Scott
        April 11, 2013 at 3:42 am #

        I would I think the market aside from using more necessary money is the best thing the mayor attached his name to date. I hope there is non gmo and organic options.

      • joetaxpayer
        April 11, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

        Mike you are probably right. If this farmers market is as great as they say, than people will be walking a lot longer than across the street.The more vendors, less parking. Maybe someone will have a drive-up fruit & veggie stand.

  7. tito
    April 10, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

    ,, ,, , nice picture Dan, for a second I thought that was Peter M. behind you

    • danvalenti
      April 10, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

      Thanks, T. We are fond of it ourselves, since it captures how alone and happy in a crowd we can be.

      • University mom
        April 10, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

        I really does capture your reality. Even amongst the solitude and seriousness of everyone around you dealing with whatever issue brought them there, you are still alone in a world that swirls around you. Just like on your blog, just like in your life. It’s the best picture depicting YOU I have seen thus far.

  8. Gene
    April 10, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

    The court nepotism is really a big deal, I think. Planet references the Ware Commission. This sort of favoritism got the Probation boss booted. I hope this story gets to Boston, though it will mean more embarrassment for Pittsfield maybe someone will check it out and if the kid got the job only because of his father the matter will be made right.

    • danvalenti
      April 10, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

      I agree that this is a significant story. Nepotism was, ostensibly, a thing of the past at the Courthouse, after the local venue dodged a bullet in the Ware Commission probe. On the surface of it, it seems crazy that the court would ignore Dascani in favor of a green kid. If nepotism explains the hire, it should not be allowed to stand. As we said yesterday, however, if young Walsh has the goods to do the job better than or equal to Dascani, we remain open to that case being made. So far, we haven’t heard a peep from those who would wish to defend the hiring of the lad.

      • Kate Dempsey
        April 10, 2013 at 6:17 pm #

        You also have to wonder if “no show Spurs,” made this request in person or if he (like he always has done in the past) phoned it in?

        • danvalenti
          April 10, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

          “No Show” is one of those elite who doesn’t even have to phone it in anymore. He just lazes in the pool, doing the backstroke, and feeding himself fried butter.

      • Patty
        April 11, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

        Mike Dascani was in charge of maintenance for a period of time. Many complaints have been made against him. Perhaps that is why he got passed up for the position. I say give the new kid a chance. He can’t be any worse.

  9. GMHeller
    April 10, 2013 at 11:59 pm #

    Mr. Valenti,
    Now don’tcha know, Pittsfield is the happnin’ place.
    People and businesses from all over the world are lining up to move in, some to catch the sea breezes coming off Silver Lake, some because Berkshire County has low taxes and Massachusetts is a right-to-work state, while others are doing it cuz hanging out where Kripalu is and where James Taylor hangs out is just so cool and they can now land private jets on the same runway as Carly’s ex.
    Can’t ya just feel the love?
    Oops, gotta go; I need to call my guru;I forgot my Mantra.

  10. FPR
    April 11, 2013 at 4:24 am #

    Shouldn’t Pittsfield spend another 1.3 Million $$$ just to see if they need another hotel or two?

    I’ll be staying with friends or family when I visit.

  11. regreader
    April 11, 2013 at 5:28 am #

    the location of the hotel explains why the landlord of the BP station is trying to jack up the rent to $10,000 a month

  12. Rivetor
    April 11, 2013 at 6:40 am #

    Good one Gene, and how about another $1.3 million study on whether the school department needs more money. And also there are studies needed for placement of more traffic lights and stop signs. That’s another $1.3 million. Plus another $1.3 million study to determine what studies Pittsfield should commission next.

    • dusty
      April 11, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

      Do you mean to suggest that there is an intersection in Pittsfield without a traffic light?

  13. ShirleyKnutz
    April 12, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

    I really can not believe the nepotism that still is allowed to play out in Berkshire County. When will the electorate learn to vote anything but D! They have been in power for over 50 years and what have they done for the city besides make it a polluted ghost town?

    • danvalenti
      April 12, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

      Nepotism is an infection of the Body Politic. It has occurred in epidemic proportions in Pittsfield over the years. In the case of John and Patrick Walsh v. Mike Dascani, we are simply asking: Did nepotism occur again, as has been alleged, or not?