PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, JUNE 14, 2013) — THE PLANET has learned that on Thursday, June 6, Boring Broadsheet (a newspaper formerly known as The Berkshire Eagle) editor Tim Farkas was “marched out of the building.” Farkas had been terminated.

It’s not clear if he was fired, left under duress, or resigned. We have not learned the reason for his sudden dissolution, but we should note that at the end of March, Andy Mick stepped down as publisher. Kevin Corrado took his place. Corrado came to the BB by way of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. It’s not uncommon for the new boss to make changes once that person feels he or she has a lay of the land.

Newsroom sources said they were not surprised by the change; neither is THE PLANET. Farkas didn’t exactly recall Horace Greeley or James Gordon Bennett (two legendary editors from yesteryear, for those who don’t know). We met with him once, over lunch, shortly after he took over the BB newsroom. He struck us as a nice enough chap, but in the news business, you judge an editor’s worth by his work. Under his watch, the newsroom declined, morale sank, and many talented workers toiled with and under an ineffective leader. Farkas never gave compelling evidence that he knew Berkshire County, and that will be one of Corrado’s greatest challenges. He must learn the community.

A good editor doesn’t back away from stories. A great editor is fearless. Farkas was neither. Newspapers should question everything, especially those in charge. Newspapers should have a strong investigative reporting team. Farkas did not build one. In fact, he silently presided over the marginalization of both Jack Dew and later Conor Barry, two good ones who were too smart and too good to retreat back into the safe, mediocre, colorless coverage for which the BB has become known. Farkas used the budget cuts that hit the newsroom as his excuse for producing middling, lackluster, forgettable coverage. Leaders don’t use this crutch. They find ways around it, turn loose their reporters, and encourage enterprise.

A good newspaper acts with courage. A great newspaper does that to serve the community, acting as a watchdog — The Fourth Estate — over democracy. The latter, so much in peril from so many assaults on numerous fronts, cannot afford a shrinking press presence, and yet, since the now-bankrupt (and in receivership) Media News Group purchased The Berkshire Eagle only to turn it into The Boring Broadsheet, that’s what the newspaper has given Berkshire County and especially the county seat, Pittsfield. We’ve seen the result, especially with the rise of the GOB and the demise of responsible representation from elected and appointed officials.

THE PLANET has spent the better part of the past score of years exposing what we can, exerting a full effort not to be “objective” but to publish the truth. We have served as a constructive critic of social and communal ills, provoking thought and encouraging a free marketplace of ideas. That accounts for the stellar rise in this website, from day one with no readers to today’s burgeoning online presence, all by word of mouth and compelling stories.

Farkas never connected with the local community. He came in as top newsroom executive after leaving his job as sports editor of the Times Union in Albany. There’s a world of difference between running the sports department (called “the toy store” of a newspaper) and the newsroom, and Farkas didn’t have the elusive “it.”

We hope this signals a change in the newsroom. We hope that under a new editor, the BB can become, once again, The Berkshire Eagle. To do so, Farkas’ replacement will need to revitalize morale, drive excellence through the example of his or her leadership, and install a culture of accuracy, audaciousness, integrity, and undaunted responsibility not to the GOB, not to the Status Quo, not to the Usual Suspects, not to the Chosen Ones, and not to the Special Interests, but to Mary Jane and Joe KapanskiWe The People.


In its deliberations last night on the Pittsfield School Department budget, the city council was meeting as a whole. Boil it all down, the votes that it took were strictly advisory, having no bearing upon policy. The meeting was little more than a public information session, the purpose of which was to give councilors information and the ability to question department heads on their fiscal requests.

The purpose of votes — to send messages to the mayor, up, down, equal, or indifferent. Last night, our Right Honorable Good Friends voted to do nothing to curb the out-of-control school department spending — all but Barry Clairmont, that is. Clairmont dissected the numbers, laid out a reasonable case for fiscal responsibility, and presented it in a dispassionate way, led by the data. His fellow councilors went with emotion, however, too scared to risk upsetting the powers that be within the schools. It’s election season, you know.

Clairmont had this to say to THE PLANET:

Councilor Mazzeo also sends her children out of district, which is every parents right. It’s a personal decision. [Here, he’s responding to a point made earlier by one of our readers]

However, she mentioned that she wanted a level funded school budget, which would have been a 1.9 million dollar cut. Yet she didn’t support my 1.5 million dollar cut and said I was on a witch hunt. Go figure.

Then she asked questions that she didn’t go to them ahead of time to ask. I don’t understand why I was wrong and it was okay for her.

All but councilorLothrop, Krol and Capitanio agreed with one of my points. Yet none proposed a single cut, just like last year. I can respect those that disagree with me on a matter of principle, but not when they agree with my points and don’t propose a single cut.

The council and mayor still can deal with the school department budget in favor of taxpayers and The Children, but you know, we know, and the man in the moon knows that they won’t.

And so the farce continues.



Pittsfield may be near the bottom of the barrel in jobs creation, but it doubles the state average in teen pregnancies.

“It’s a whole lot of teen moms and a whole lot of babies,” Kristine Hazard, United Way director, told the Pittsfield Gazette.

Indeed it is, and the answer? Spend more taxpayer dollars. Coordinate with social agencies. Give more money to the public schools. Anne Marie Carpenter, head of the public schools’ psychologists, and the school administration want to adopt a national program “to promote family dialogue.” Kids in grammar school learn about sex. Kids in middle school learn about sex. Kids in high school learn about sex. All God’s chillen learn about sex!

Back in THE PLANET’s day, we had our fathers’ National Geographics, the dictionary, and 15-year-old Roarback Cusava (who claimed to have, you know, “done it,” for our sex education). Oh, and we also had two parents in the home, a clear understanding of right and wrong, and girls who said “no.” Oh, did they ever say no! We made out OK. Today, our little darlings have Learning About Myself and Others (LAMO), 9th and 10th grade “health courses,” free contraception advice and devices handed out in the high schools like M&Ms at Trick or Treat (in this case, it’s Trick and Treat), and the topper of all sex education devices, the Internet, which puts an adult bookstore into the palms of every kid.

Kids wake up with sex over them, under them, around them, and through them. They digest it from the movies, in video games, on TV, on the computer, in magazines, and in every medium under the sun. The Pittsfield School Department, though, wants more taxpayer money to create more programs.

Talk about your cold shower.



Finally, this report from the wires, speaking of the Little Darlins’.

A new sushi restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia, has caused a stir by insisting that it’s for adults only. In fact, it’s gone so far as toban kids completely.

Also on Shine: Restaurant Bans Kids Under 6. Discrimination or Smart Move?

“Welcome,” reads the black-and-white sign on the door of The Sushi Bar. “This is an adults-only environment. No children under 18 please.”

Also on Shine: Is the No-Kids-Allowed Movement Spreading?

Some outraged parents have promised to boycott the upscale eatery, which opened just last weekend in the Del Ray area.

“Great way to keep me out of your spot,” griped one commenter on the Sushi Bar’s Facebook page. “As a single parent, thanks… we will dine at another sushi bar!”

“In case anyone is wondering, no, I won’t be patronizing this establishment if I’m ever again in the area,” added another commenter.

But the restaurant owners say that they had always planned to make the eatery a child-free zone.

“It’s going to be smaller, more upscale,” co-owner Mike Anderson told The DelRay Patch in April.”No kids under 18. … Adults have said they need a place, too.” He has three kids of his own, he told, only two of whom would be old enough to eat at his new place.

“We by no means hate children or think they don’t belong in restaurants,” co-owner Bill Blackburntold told WUSA-TV. “They just don’t belong in this particular one.”

Outside of the local community, the movement to ban kids from certain places — planes and restaurants, mostly — has caused widespread debate. Some restaurants, like McDain’s in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, ban younger kids, usually under the age of 6. Even kid-friendly Disneybanned children younger than 10 from some of its Florida resort’s restaurants. And some airlinesare responding to consumers who  feel that the skies might be a friendlier place to fly if kids weren’t allowed on planes.

In this upscale Alexandria sushi restaurant, though, diners don’t seem to think that the no-child policy is that much of a problem.  Largely, the response to ban on the restaurant’s Facebook page has been positive, with commenters applauding the restaurant for the move. “This is a great idea, and I have two children!” writes one enthusiastic commenter.  According to WUSA-TV, the policy has been a boon for the business—the restaurant’s been packed every night.

“They’ve gotten a lot of press over the whole no-kids thing, but I don’t really know why,” wrote “Dennis B” on this week. He gave the restaurant a five-star review. “Just walking into the place you see that it’s not really a place to bring your little ones, even if they didn’t have the policy.  It’s small and intimate, with big comfy couches taking up half the restaurant.  The kind of place that you want to sit back and relax – almost like having sushi served to you in your living room.”

And even patrons who are parents say they can see the point. One mother, who opted not to share her name, told WUSA-TV: “I understand why they would do that. It’s not that big of a deal.”

“I have three children and I would love to go to a kid-free restaurant,” commented Carl Harper onFacebook. A chance to eat a meal in peace. I have gone to different places to enjoy a meal away from the kids just to be bothered by other people’s screaming children. Also to be bothered by the children who run around acting like it’s Chuck E. Cheese’s.”

“I’m a mom, and I have no problem with that,” added Gretchen Sher via Facebook. “There are plenty of places for my kids to go with my husband and I that welcome families, and we can always get a sitter if we want to go to an adult-only place.”

Others feel that 18 is too old of a cut-off for kids.

“Our son loves sushi and is very well behaved,” wrote a Patch reader in response to the news. “He’s been to several 3 star, upscale restaurants. At 12 years old he’s way beyond the shrieking phase.”

Anderson and his business partners also own the restaurants on either side of The Sushi Bar — Pork Barrel BBQ and Holy Cow, both of which are more family friendly. For families in the area, that means they’ve still got options—even if sushi isn’t one of them.

“Today is only yesterday’s tomorrow.”Uriah Heep


  1. MrG1188
    June 14, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    Hey Dan in the interest of complete accuracy, I do not believe the Media News Group is currently either bankrupt or in receivership. Theirs is, apparently by design, an extremely complex, complicated corporate structure which I will try to untangle just a bit here. The BB is a part of New England Newspapers (NENE), which is part of Media News Group (MNG), which in partnership with the Journal Register Corp. (JRC) and perhaps another investment company/hedge fund, comprise Digital First Media; the Uber-parent company. The JRC is indeed bankrupt and in receivership. They had emerged once unsuccessfully but, as far as I last knew, are back in receivership. MNG’s former parent, Affiliated Media, did indeed file for, and emerge from Chapter 11 in 2010, but I believe they are currently…ahem…clear. Hope that clears everything up!!

  2. Ed Shepardson
    June 14, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    April 6, 2013
    “We are pleased to have the bankruptcy process behind us and are looking forward to our Company’s future,” said John Paton, Chief Executive Officer of Digital First Media. “I want to thank the Court, the Official Creditors Committee, our vendors, our customers and, most of all, our employees.”

  3. Ron Kitterman
    June 14, 2013 at 10:14 am #

    Barry brings up a good point, seems when he asked questions he had to have them written down in advance before they were answered for him. Guess it doesn’t work that way as long as you’re on the same team as the GOBs or you ask them nicely.

    • danvalenti
      June 14, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

      This idea of “submitting questions in advance” should be called out for what it is: An attempt at censorship. If ever an issue was ripe for the school committee, it’s this one. The SC is the boss of the PSD. It has power and authority to curb such abuses. As we know, though, having power and wielding power (especially in a responsible way) are two difference things.

      • Rick
        June 14, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

        Couldn’t this practice also be a violation of the open meeting law?

  4. Ole Jack
    June 14, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    Dan wrote:
    “Clairmont dissected the numbers, laid out a reasonable case for fiscal responsibility, and presented it in a dispassionate way, led by the data.”

    You think shouting the phrase “hoarding of money” about twenty times, voice cracking, ears reddening, and whipping off one’s glasses for effect is dispassionate?!?

    • dusty
      June 14, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

      I feel that if an entity is sucking 90 million dollars out of taxpayers pockets you should be able to talk to them any way you want.

      And did anyone from the school side even try to justify the huge administrative budget and unheard of salaries? Is it true that all of the jobs at mercer are necessary and deserving of the money they suck out of hard working taxpayers wallets? Are none of them jobs just created for politically connected relatives?

      • levitan
        June 14, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

        Terry Kinnas is the one who argued that the Superintendent position was underpaid and advocated raising the proposed salary.

        • danvalenti
          June 14, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

          Correct, LEV, but taken in the whole, Mr. Kinnas’ proposed reforms would have saved millions. That would well more than make up for the extra $10K or $20 for the super’s job.

          • levitan
            June 14, 2013 at 5:05 pm #


      • danvalenti
        June 14, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

        Agreed, DUSTY.

    • danvalenti
      June 14, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

      I was speaking of the whole and not of the parts. Of course he peppered his presentation with passion, but the case itself was a model of dispassion. This is usually the case when an argument relies primarily on data and not emotion.

  5. B. Clairmont
    June 14, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    Let me clear something up…

    Yesterday I responded to a post concerning TFB sending her children out to another school district. The person I was responding to was implying this was wrong. In my response (which is reprinted above in Dan’s blog post today) I pointed out That Councilor Mazzeo also sends her children out of district. I failed to mention that she pays for her children’s tuition to those schools. I wanted to clear that up.

    I also said it is a personal choice for parents to send their children out of district, and I stand by that comment. There is nothing wrong that.

    If anyone took my comment as a derogatory comment to Councilor Mazzeo or her family, that was not my intent and I apologize to anyone offended.

    • dusty
      June 14, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

      Many intelligent parents with the means send there kids elsewhere to be educated. It shows they really care about their children. Sad part is that some parents would love to get their kids out of Pittsfields schools but cannot for one reason or another.

    • danvalenti
      June 14, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

      Thanks, BARRY.

  6. GMHeller
    June 14, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    Let’s see how The Eagle deals with skyrocketing health insurance premiums resulting from ObamaCare, the legislation The Eagle embraced and told us was so good for us.

  7. Scott
    June 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    My wife and I bring our kids everywhere even out to eat if there is a demand for adults only they will do good just not with my business I wish them the best! At first I was like a kids band in a restaurant cool I think ah, what???

    • Varsity mom
      June 14, 2013 at 10:10 pm #

      I responded on facebook in support of the policy because parents are lousy at controlling their kids these days. If that was not true, there would be no need for such a policy. When the husband and I went out without our kids, we were annoyed when other’s kids were allowed to run around or whine or cry. It was not conducive to what we needed: A break, relaxation, grown up talk, focus, romance. TIME AWAY FROM CHAOS.
      When we spend our money, we want to feel we have been rewarded for doing so in whatever establishment we go to. If I wanted to be around kids, I would bring my own or visit a “Friendly’s”. That doesn’t mean I don’t like kids. I just need a break from the NOISE and STRESS. And it’s not too much for a Sushi bar to ask for. If it were an outdoor burger joint, I’d say “Jerks”. But a SUSHI BAR???
      Some parents will complain about anything.

      • Scott
        June 15, 2013 at 4:09 am #

        I bring both of my children to Trattoria Rustica, Jae’s, Spice Dragon and Baba Louie’s all the time. Yeah even with our kids people with out of control kids are annoying. I will never understand that style of parenting my kids now there are ways they are expected to act. Even the two year old. Chances are if they act like that in public it’s because they act like that at home or anywhere all the time.

        • Varsity mom
          June 15, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

          I agree. We expected our kids to behave in public, and if they got noisy, we would remove them (usually it meant I went to the car w/ them while the hubby paid the bill). I never wanted to inconvenience other patrons.

          • Dave
            June 15, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

            VM Maybe the time you wanted “TIME AWAY FROM CHAOS” was the only time another family with kids had to go out as a family(both parents work all the time, babysitter cancelled, can only afford one night a week to eat out and wants to take the whole family). When this happens when I am out with just my wife, we smile, remember when it was us in that position, and most times make faces at the “offending young ones” that usually turns their tantrums into laughs. A restaurant is not a 21 and over nightclub where you can expect perfect behavior by all(yes that was facetious), but I do agree that some parents let the behavior go on too long, but is that really the child’s fault?

  8. Jonathan Melle
    June 14, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

    Pittsfield needs to get real and deal with its people who have social problems. There is NO reason why teen pregnancies rates are so high and double the statewide average in Pittsfield. Young people should take their schoolwork seriously, strive to go to college, serve in the military, or serve in AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps. The goal of a young adult should to have a healthy relationship that may lead to marriage. Young people should respect themselves and their partner. I believe that people should either masturbate or have safe sex with birth control. I believe people should be educated about sexuality. I do not believe in abuse or violence. Having a child costs people and society a lot of money. A child costs parents about $250,000 over a span of 18-years. People should think financially about their families and raising children to be socially responsible in society. My feeling about Pittsfield, having grown up there, is that Pittsfield has no power over its economic problems, but it has power over its social problems. GE left Pittsfield, while KB Toys went bankrupt, and the single largest employer in Pittsfield is the city government with non-profits like the Hospital as a close second. Pittsfield has an unsustainable economy that relies heavily on local, state, and federal tax dollars, and non-profit dollars. Pittsfield has no control over its downward economic spiral that many post-industrial communities face in America. Where Pittsfield has power is to help its people with their social problems. Pittsfield has the power to change and strive for social justice. Pittsfield should invest in its people, which is its biggest resource, and care about its youth enough to reduce its large numbers of teen pregnancies and welfare caseloads. All Pittsfield politicians seem to do is raise local taxes and collect state and federal dollars, and non-profits are ineffective, too. People need to care about each other in Pittsfield. Pittsfield needs to invest in its people. Pittsfield needs to change!

    • debbie
      June 14, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

      Spot on…..Pittsfield welcomes everyone. Sex offenders, drug dealers and low income housing! Why because Pittsfield gets federal help and creates a reveue for State jobs….its job security for the corrupt system.

      • Jonathan Melle
        June 14, 2013 at 7:58 pm #

        Pittsfield needs to change! It is a case study for a post-industrial American community that neglects most of its people by not addressing its social problems, while screwing taxpayers financially. Dan Valenti is right about one thing concerning Pittsfield politics, and that is the Good Old Boys run the show for their own self-interest. Pittsfield is the #1 employer in Pittsfield. Thousands of people depend on the taxpayers for their livelihood. In order to get a job in Pittsfield, you have to serve the Good Old Boys, or be related to them. Like Dan Valenti, I spoke out about the problems in Pittsfield and its corrupt politicians, and I was blacklisted from getting or keeping a job in and around Pittsfield. Pittsfield has an unsustainable economy that won’t be saved by its cultural district otherwise called North Street. Dan Valenti wrote about the CEDs plan for Berkshire County that hasn’t been approved by the federal government in over a decade. That is because Pittsfield has no economic plan other than to financially screw taxpayers. I call it “perverse incentives”. The more social problems in Pittsfield, the more taxpayer dollars for the city and its non-profits. It is almost surreal how teen pregnancies and welfare caseloads double the statewide average in Pittsfield. I live in Amherst, New Hampshire now, which is a short drive to Lowell, Massachusetts, which has even more poverty, teen pregnancies, and welfare caseloads than Pittsfield. Near Lowell, is Lawrence, Massachusetts, which is even worse than Lowell. What happened to all of these communities? Who left them behind? Why doesn’t Pittsfield, Lowell, or Lawrence change? Doesn’t anyone care about each other anymore? What happened to Social Justice?

        • Shakes His Head
          June 17, 2013 at 7:07 am #

          do people realize that although the “rates are so high” that the actual numbers of teen pregnancies are not?

  9. tito
    June 14, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

    ,,,,,,,,,, Barry, TFB was an assistant to the former mayor that was be miffed about losing taxpayer money because of school choice, yet under his administration and policy sent her kids out of district. can you say,,,,,,,,,,hypocrite?,,,,,,,,, councilor Mazzeo was be miffed last night as to why the city isn’t reimbursed for school choice off the tax rolls.

    • Scott
      June 14, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

      Would you send your child to a Pittsfield school?

      • danvalenti
        June 14, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

        A Pittsfield private school, yes. A Pittsfield public school, no.

        • Scott
          June 15, 2013 at 4:10 am #

          Me either but then again I’m not trying to sell others on the idea.

        • Still wondering
          June 17, 2013 at 5:46 am #

          I would send my kid to some of the Pittsfield elementary schools, but after that (middle and high school) absolutely not.

      • Mike Ward
        June 15, 2013 at 6:41 am #

        It depends on who your child is. My experience in the PPS — admittedly ancient history — was excellent because I took advantage of honors and AP courses at PHS. This puts you in a classroom where learning happens because everyone is there to work. I was fortunate that my parents pushed me. I realize it’s a different situation for students who struggle or have zero support from their parents. That’s where the challenge is. We need to do our best with that challenge but never allow it to take away resources from the kids who are there to work.

  10. Giacometti
    June 14, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

    As a former teacher in the PPS I have seen first hand that the
    students in the PPS who just want to waste time and not learn are not allowed to fail. My experience showed me that the PPS
    pass these students to keep the drop out rate down and these students know it. Students who want to learn have to deal with disruptive lazy students who don’t want to learn so in order to learn.they are forced to go out of town to better school systems
    that these disruptive students cannot afford to attend to get an education that will get them into college and then on to a better life. The students who don’t want to learn just want a drive-up window in their lives…where they have to do as little as possible to be served the fruits of a good life…in the end they realize it’s only hard work that will rewards them with any success.

    Unfortunately they learn this when they are too old to change.

    • Scott
      June 15, 2013 at 4:10 am #

      A person is never too old to change…

    • MrG1188
      June 17, 2013 at 4:48 am #

      “they are forced to go out of town to better school systems
      that these disruptive students cannot afford to attend”

      Parents do not pay to send their kids out of district under school choice. The sending district has to reimburse the receiving district a paltry amount ($5000…which hasn’t changed since 1993 I believe). The whole point is to make the districts competitive. It’s a simple equation; if your district is on the + side on school choice (Lenox, Berkshire Hills, etc.) it’s probably doing some things right. If it’s on the negative side, it has problems that need addressing beyond pooh poohing the system of choice or calling sending parents hypocrites. .

  11. The Kraken
    June 15, 2013 at 7:03 am #

    Of course teenage pregnancy is rampant here, it’s the welfare way of life. Don’t want to work? Want to live off the state? Get pregnant, and when you want more money get pregnant again. And when you can, keep sucking child support out of the father(s), even though it was you who stopped taking birth control without his knowledge, and you aren’t even sure he’s the father.
    And don’t worry, on state aid you’ll be able to afford that expensive smart phone and $1200 LCD TV. And if you decide to get your child braces, the state will pay %100 percent of that, even though working folks don’t get that kind of coverage. Is your boyfriend/kid’s father living with you and has a job? Just don’t report that so you can keep sucking money off the system.
    Are you physically able to work, but don’t want to? Just pretend you have some mental disability (I’m too depressed to work!) and here come the checks.
    You see, the gov’t allows for these things to happen, therefore they will continue to. This is a societal issue created by the gov’t.

  12. GMHeller
    June 15, 2013 at 9:51 am #

    In Re: Farkas and the continuing decline of The Berkshire Eagle, see today’s editorial dissing Wahconah Park.

    Here is that editorial followed by one Wahconah Park fan’s reply:

    Eagle Editorial
    Our opinion: Parked under water

    Saturday June 15, 2013

    “Flooding at Wahconah Park has been going on for decades, as has talking about what to do about flooding at Wahconah Park. Realistically, there is no solution. Wahconah Park has to be phased out of use — which isn’t news either.

    “Pittsfield spent $700,000 on improvements to the park and parking lot four years ago, which was designed not to prevent flooding but to reduce the impact of flooding. As is explained in Tony Dobrowolski’s story in today’s Eagle, actually solving the flooding problem, if even possible, would be prohibitively expensive. Because the park is located entirely within the 100-year flood plain of the west branch of the Housatonic River, any major flood control measures would necessitate jumping through a variety of local, state and federal hoops, and the flooding problem could end up being transferred to someone’s backyard downstream.

    “The long-outdated ballpark should have been sent to its reward with gratitude 14 years ago when a plan for a new ballpark emerged to preserve the city’s New York-Penn League franchise and give downtown a jolt. The plan, however, succumbed to the destructive combination of political paranoia and misplaced nostalgia. The city lost Major League affiliated baseball, and the Pittsfield Suns’ amateur franchise is badly hampered by its Wahconah Park home. The Suns’ season is short, and double-headers and games lost entirely to flooding will hurt financially.

    “The stars will more than likely never align again to produce a new ballpark of the caliber needed to attract a Major League affiliated franchise, but the city at least must do better by the high school teams stuck with Wahconah Park. Construction of a baseball-football park to accommodate those teams, and perhaps soccer and lacrosse as well, has been discussed in passing but never seriously. Perhaps it will in the upcoming Pittsfield election campaign. A city moving forward can’t be stuck forever in the muck and mire of Wahconah Park.”


    HellerCarbon replies:

    “What hogwash!
    Wahconah Park is THE JEWEL of Pittsfield that puts Pittsfield on the map for baseball lovers.
    It is all too obvious that the editorial writer knows literally NOTHING at all about the history of baseball, otherwise he/she would not have written an editorial displaying such blatant ignorance.
    The best thing of a summer’s afternoon is to be sitting along Wahconah’s first base line with a hot dog in one hand, a beer in the other, watching the sun set while a baseball game is in full swing and the sun is in the batter’s eyes.
    Baseball (and life) do not get any better than this.
    It was to the City’s credit that voters fourteen years ago turned a big thumbs down to the ridiculous notion to abandon Wahconah Park in favor of an antiseptic 21st Century cement monstrosity for which the beer, wine, food, and parking concessions were to be carved up and handed-out like candy to the City’s Good Ol’ Boys in association with the now-bankrupt out-of-town owners of The Berkshire Eagle.
    Long Live Wahconah Park — It may be the very attraction that saves Pittsfield!”

  13. Joe Blow
    June 15, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

    Dan, I’m pushing 40 and had LAMO in 5th grade a Sacred Heart Elementary. It was pretty basic stuff,I’m sure the stuff they teach today is way over the top.

  14. Varsity mom
    June 15, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

    In response to Dave, I agree 100%. It’s definitely not the fault of the children. Parents need training in how to teach their kids how to behave and to model that behavior themselves.

  15. GMHeller
    June 16, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

    Mr. Valenti,

    Check out today’s report in the BB about the city building inspector placing an arbitrary cap on the number who can attend baseball at Wahconah Park because the parking lot is presently underwater.

    What does a flooded parking lot have to do with allowing spectators who choose to walk-in off the street in order to watch the game?
    How can this even be legal for the building inspector to put a cap on attendance which has literally nothing to do with parking capacity.
    This really stinks, especially given that Wahconah’s parking facilities have flooded regularly for 100 years.
    Have you ever heard before of any official of the City of Pittsfield limiting the number of fans who could attend games simply because the parking lots were underwater.
    Further, this is a terrible legal precedent and the team should seek immediately to enjoin the city from enforcing such a ridiculous limitation.
    This combined with The Eagle’s lame editorial yesterday sure make it seem like the GOB’s are trying once again to resurrect this idea that a new ball park in Pittsfield is somehow necessary.
    And of course Mayor Dan Bianchi has nothing to do with any of this and has nothing to say about any of it.


    ‘Flooding forcing Pittsfield Suns to play to nearly empty seats’
    By Howard Herman, Berkshire Eagle Staff,

    Sunday June 16, 2013

    PITTSFIELD — Since baseball returned to Wahconah Park in 1985, there have been no-hitters thrown here and championships won, sun delays and issues with lights. The Pittsfield Suns added to the park’s long history Saturday night.

    Due to the flooding that has covered the facility’s parking lot and parts of the Pittsfield Cemetery with water for much of the week, the Pittsfield building inspector told the Suns that the game could go on — with one proviso.

    “We’ve been given a capacity of 100 and that includes all the players, the coaching staff and my staff,” Suns general manager Kevin McGuire said. “We’re going to keep it closed to the general public.

    “It’s going to be a weird environment, but at least we’ll get a game in.”

    So the Suns played the Seacoast Mavericks Saturday night with the gates closed. Suns staff members were armed with schedules and ticket vouchers for some fans who might not have received word of the closed-door game.

    Playing before an empty grandstand at Wahconah Park will seem a bit unusual to players who performed in front of 3,500 on Monday morning. But for some members of the Suns, it might feel a bit more like the norm.

    “Sometimes” the team draws crowds, said Suns catcher Steve Dill, who plays at Harvard. “We usually get around 50. It’s going to be very strange being in such a big park with nobody there.”

    Ryan Deitrich is another Ivy League player and said that playing in front of an empty Wahconah Park grandstand won’t be much different for him than a regular-season game at the University of Pennsylvania.

    “You get the parents out there and you get a couple of students here and there,” said Deitrich. “Our field is kind of hard to get to from campus. We’re used to not playing in front of that many people.”

    Infielder Zach Goldstein plays his college baseball at Southern New Hampshire, and he said that playing in front of next-to-nobody is something he’s not shocked by. But that’s because baseball weather in Hookset, N.H., can be hard to find.

    “Not when it’s freezing outside. It’s so cold that nobody really came out,” said Goldstein. “Towards the end, we played in front of quite a few people.

    “Personally, I like playing in front of a lot of people. We knew why people weren’t coming — because it was freezing outside.”

    Saturday’s contest was actually the first game the Suns would have played since Monday morning. The team had two scheduled off days and had games postponed because of the parking lot flooding on Wednesday and Friday.

    For the players, it will just be nice to get a game in, fans or no fans.

    “It really doesn’t matter,” said Dill. “It’s the first game back in a while.”

    Suns owner Jeff Goldklang echoed McGuire’s statement that not allowing fans in Saturday night was beyond their control.

    “We love Wahconah Park 90 percent of the time. We love the history and the charm,” said Goldklang. “This is one of those 10 percent [times]. We feel horrible for the fans and the players.”

    As the Suns took batting practice on Saturday afternoon, a pump was removing the last traces of water from the soggy outfield. The amount of water in the parking lot made it impossible to clear naturally.

    “The city made every effort to get [the park] open,” said Goldklang. “I don’t think we’d be playing the game without their effort.”

    Tony Stracuzzi, Pittsfield’s superintendent of parks and grounds, was at Wahconah by 5 p.m. to help get the field ready for the 7 p.m. start.

    Stracuzzi won’t say that it was the worst flooding he’s ever seen, but nonetheless it’s pretty bad.

    “It’s definitely pretty close” to the worst flooding, Stracuzzi said. “I’ve been here for 40 years and this really took its toll.”

    The Suns have another home game today at 4 against Martha’s Vineyard. McGuire said fans should stay tuned to see if more of them will be able to get out and see the game.

    “They will re-evaluate [today],” the Suns general manager said, “and see if we can make it available to fans.”

  16. Evian
    June 16, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    The Eagle editorial writer (anonymous, they don’t sign their name to their opinions which to me is cowardly) totally misses two points. The first is that Pittsfield voters didn’t reject a new stdium. They rejected an appointed Civic Authority which would have had unchecked power over all the city. The second, the “psoposed” new stadium was a mirage. They never had the money or financing. It was just an excuse to get a Civic Authority in place.

    • dusty
      June 16, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

      This is correct. A massive smoke and mirror campaign was unveiled by the Berkshire Eagle and certain banks and politicians in an attempt to flim flam the people. It was perhaps the only victory ever by the people over the GOB. Ironically, Dan Bianchi was instrumental in the Civic Authority defeat but now, as I see it, seems to have gone over to the other side.

      • levitan
        June 16, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

        The Civic Authority, even before it was created, exuded such arrogance as to tell residents that their properties were destined to be forfeit to eminent domain.

        Dan Bianchi should not be carelessly ditched in his standing up for the interests of common residents.

        • Shakes His Head
          June 17, 2013 at 7:10 am #

          Dan Bianchi forgot who the common residents are. He courts the senior vote exclusively.

          • levitan
            June 17, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

            Who’s to say that I don’t share common interests with the senior population?

  17. Giacometti
    June 16, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

    The Ancient Greek God once called the Wahconah Park parking lot ” Lake Dobelle ” as Evan Dobelle was Mayor when extensive
    city funds to dry out the parking lot were spent in 1977….when that failed and Mayor Dobelle moved on up the ladder it was the Ancient Greek God who declared Evan Dobelle was the only tourist in the history of Pittsfield to be elected Mayor

    • GMHeller
      June 17, 2013 at 4:37 am #

      As you may recall Big Liberal Democrat Honcho Evan Dobelle got himself canned from one of the world’s dream jobs: Prez of the Univ of Hawaii — whopping salary, free lodging, beautiful climate.
      Dobelle was viewed as utterly incompetent, and some thought him a crook.
      He pulled in some favors and either Kennedy or Kerry got him a job as Prez of Westfield State Univ.
      Paradise Lost!

  18. GMHeller
    June 17, 2013 at 4:38 am #

    In Re: Evan Dobelle:
    Also See:

  19. GMHeller
    June 17, 2013 at 4:41 am #

    In Re: Evan Dobelle:
    Also SEE:

  20. GMHeller
    June 17, 2013 at 4:41 am #

    In RE: Evan Dobelle:
    Also SEE:

  21. GMHeller
    June 17, 2013 at 4:43 am #

    And finally, here’s an interview Dobelle gave The Berkshire Eagle in 2005:

  22. Giacometti
    June 17, 2013 at 5:18 am #

    Jeez…Lake Dobelle is getting deeper every day.

  23. outfox
    June 17, 2013 at 7:50 am #

    Re: the sex ed in PPS, or any school system for that matter…Once again, DV, you are waxing poetic about a bygone era (I am often guilty of this too) but when we were coming up like you said it was Nat Geo and in my town, we had the infamous “recycling shed” where we were often lucky (?) enough to find cast off men’s magazines—and I’m not talking GQ! Today’s kids have to deal with sexuality as it is presented on the Internet, in social media and the worst of all, reality television. Kids are going to learn the mechanics of sex everywhere and anywhere, as we did; I just think that as adults we are probably overdue in our responsibility to update sex ed curriculum. As a kid, it was titillating to come across magazines or maybe peek into a parent’s dresser drawer, but we knew we were crossing a boundary, that this was forbidden fruit, as it were. With today’s kids, I can’t even imagine where that boundary might be, or if there even is one…so instead of once again pointing out the rates of teen pregnancy—and let’s not forget the boys bear some responsibility in that as well; how come we never call out teen fathers???—we adults need to step up.