PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, NOV. 7, 2013) — On this “once upon a midday dreary” morning, we shake our heads and feel for our colleague Jim Therrien of the Boring Broadsheet. JT, you see, works for a newspaper that will fire you if you stray too far from the straight and narrow. Only last week did we present the latest in a long line of casualties guilty of the crime of journalistic integrity, Isaac Avilucea. The BB ownership canned Avilucea for reporting — reporting, mind you — on information that the administrations at two local high school found upsetting. Rather than stick up for its man, the paper threw Avilucea under the bus and kissed the royal school administrative rumps.

For a reporter, working at the BB means being declawed and defanged through submission to three simple rules: do not question the status quo, do not upset any big advertisers, and make sure you pamper those who hold the upper hand of power, be they pols, Big Shot business types, or other “Players.” As an editorial employee of the BB, you must always cower before the business side of the operation, and you must never, never question orders from the top or have concern for The Little Guy, a.k.a, We The People, a.k.a., Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski.

You can write all the safe, “moons in June” pieces you want about recipes, dusty glory of past baseball teams from the 1940s and 50s, and other such “good gosh” tripe that eats up valuable news space. That stuff is fine. The more you can fill valuable news space with cotton candy, the more you will placate advertisers. True, this will alienate readers, and circulation will continue to plummet (now flirting with 13,000). Just don’t “rock the boat.” Just don’t look behind the closed curtains. When a politician, business leader, or anyone else in authority tells you “everything’s great,” believe him or her. Use the press releases from the Chamber of Commerce and PEDA verbatim. Do not — repeat, DO NOT under any circumstances — question or investigate. That’s why the area has that pesky website called THE PLANET. Let them do it. Above all, never probe. There are too many hornets’ nests that you might poke.

You can see all this on display today with the shameful, page one, lead story on the post-election. This piece of commentary (a) is not labeled as such, (b) is displayed in the most prominent location of the news hole, and (c) offers out-an-out opinion disguised as fact. Therrien is not reporting here as much as he is regurgitating the party line that Mayor Dan Bianchi put forth during the election when he personally went after Christine Yon, John Krol, and Barry Clairmont. The mayor, even though he ignored We The People’s business to go after these three “agitators,” failed in two of the three cases. Only Yon went down to defeat.

THE PLANET doesn’t know who ordered or what prompted Therrien piece of propaganda, but we can say it fits right in with the sad, steady decline of a once-proud, award-winning newspaper Formerly Known as The Berkshire Eagle.

We shall not parse the story, allowing our readers to do that for themselves. THE PLANET shall even offer the temporary boost in circulation we shall thus give the BB by our reference as a gift freely given, for it is with a light heart that we traipse through this vale of tears. That said, we will point out the word “apparently” in JT’s lead: He writes that the message from yesterday’s vote is, “apparently,” that voters want the council to work more in “harmony” with the mayor. “Apparently” is a word often used by reporters in a dishonest sense to cover up journalistic sins. This doesn’t happen in every usage, but it happens in JT’s lead. Our guess is that JT’s copy editor inserted the word as a weak attempt to justify the placement of this story in the new hole and not on the editorial page.

To which we respond: Bullspit.

THE PLANET offers a free lesson for the BB Poo-bahs: The message from yesterday’s vote is that three out of every four members of the electorate chose not to be involved. This witch’s brew of frustrated, angry, apathetic, and just plain lazy citizens sent a message that is far more powerful than any sent by the tiny minority that did vote. They’re saying that “democracy” is broken and that the results from ANY election that can only garner 1/4 of the electorate are bogus. As the guy who sits behind the deask where the buck is supposed to stop, we lay much of that on Bianchi.

Bianchi, however, has chosen to jump on this situation and try gag any council opposition. Hence, the BB piece. “They” want to spin the paltry results into a mandate, and from that mandate “They” wish to silence anyone — council members, other officials, citizens, journalists — who might otherwise ask tough questions or put the wood to the side when it’s necessary.

THE PLANET can speak for ourselves. This attempt to muzzle opposition only fires us up with more passion, more energy, and more of a desire to act as the Fourth Estate, a watchdog over government and a spotlight to shine on any skunks that dare subvert the interests of the The People. In necessary, we shall do it alone and fail. Better that than succumb, as the BB and others have done, so as to experience a loser’s form of “success” — that of not being ostracized, that of being on “the inside.” Employees of the BB have to ask themselves: Is a paycheck worth my integrity?

Forget about the inside. Only from the outside can one get an objective, dispassionate view of truth. In journalism, truth is not objectivity. It is the heart of every story’s right and wrong.

THE PLANET urges Clairmont, Krol, and every other person who won office on Tuesday to keep in mind the poor, bedraggled, tax-laden citizens of a once-proud city. That is the only way the city has ANY chance of avoiding the looming disaster of financial collapse. We hope they and others, especially those new to office, will speak up more, will ask more questions, will ask tougher questions, and will not roll over and play dead because the mayor wants “harmony.” That’s a code word for totalitarianism.

THE PLANET wants more questions. It wants more toughness. It wants more disharmony, if that’s what it take to rouse The Special Interests from their lofty perch. Otherwise, the perch will collapse from its own inevitable, inexorable, internal rot.


“I call you name, but you’re not there. Was I to blame, for being unfair? Oh I can’t sleep at night, but just the same. I never weep at night. I call your name.”John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “I Call Your Name” (1964).




  1. anne white
    November 7, 2013 at 10:49 am #


    Anyway to find out why Peter Bell is on paid leave?

  2. billy
    November 7, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    dan 400 people wrote in a name for mayor yesterday. then another 1300 Marked blank for mayor. thats 1700 people that is almost more than one in six that voted Tuesday

  3. scott
    November 7, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    How many people voted???

    • billy
      November 7, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

      5500 i think

  4. Jonathan Melle
    November 7, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    I still believe that Gerry Doyle and Jimmy Ruberto were the two worst Mayors of Pittsfield. They gave Dan Bianchi all of Pittsfield’s problems! If Mayor Dan Bianchi cannot change Pittsfield in the next 2 years, he should step aside.

    • Donald
      November 7, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

      At least they tried…more than you can say about the current mayor. Can you be more specific about exactly what they left him with? Seems Bianchi’s biggest issue his first two years was the incompetent solicitor he brought back that Ruberto fired.

      • Jonathan Melle
        November 7, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

        Jimmy Ruberto saw thousands of jobs lost and people leave Pittsfield during his 8 years as Mayor. During the Ruberto regime from 2004 – 2011, GE left Pittsfield, KB Toys went bankrupt, the Hospital laid off hundreds of employees, taxes were raised every year above the rate of inflation, the Good Old Boy ran the city with an iron fist, the public school system underperformed, teen pregnancies doubled the statewide average, welfare caseloads grew, millions of dollars were spent on revitalizing the downtown area, millions of dollars were wasted from the GE fund, PCBs continued to pollute Pittsfield, dissent was not tolerated, people were blacklisted, and Pittsfield went even lower in its never-ending downward spiral.
        Before Jimmy Ruberto, there was Mayor Gerry Doyle, who bankrupted the city government with millions of public dollars unaccounted for. Gerry Doyle also signed the GE Consent Decree that is an illegal and flawed document because it capped many of the PCBs toxic waste sites in Pittsfield. The caps do not last forever. As time wears on, the caps become useless and all of the PCBs toxic waste continues to pollute Pittsfield. Hill 78 next to Allendale Elementary School is capped. The cap is temporary and all of the people who live in the Allendale area are exposed to PCBs, which cause cancer and kills people in Pittsfield. Gerry Doyle had an alcohol problem. He was wined and dined by Jack Welch in the late-90’s. Jack Welch transformed GE from a manufacturing company to a financial business, meaning that GE left Pittsfield for Wall Street. Gerry Doyle was a pawn in GE limiting its legal liabilities in Pittsfield, while exposing thousands of Pittsfield residents to cancer.

    • levitan
      November 7, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

      Jon. All politicians should step aside after two years. Why? The drive and passion passes. Or if not, zeal for office should not be the block for others to take the reigns.

  5. Still wondering
    November 7, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    Don’t forget Charlie Smith. He’s why we didn’t get the mall downtown.

  6. Liz Arrington
    November 7, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    All the points you make DV here in your article today are true. The BB article about the “meaning’ of the election had no business being palmed off as a newsstory let alone one page 1. Keep giving it to them. Or as ythe story puts it “Them”

  7. joetaxpayer
    November 7, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    Unfortunately they are the only daily paper in town.We don’t have to to put up with there crap. I cancelled 2 years ago, still monitoring there propaganda on the internet. Keep your enemies closer.Too bad more citizens of Pittsfield can’t see the narrow minds of this once proud paper.

    • Foxy Lady
      November 7, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

      Well I think that more people are seeing it and theyre doing like you did, Joe, and like our family did..canceled.

  8. Dennis O'Keefe
    November 7, 2013 at 2:50 pm #


    Those who didn’t vote are as much to blame for the state of affairs as any politician.

    And, the phrase is “vale of tears,” not “veil.” Also, it’s “too many hornets’ nests,” not “two many hornet’s nests.”

    • danvalenti
      November 7, 2013 at 6:58 pm #

      Will fix. Thanks. “Vale of tears” from Latin, “valle lacrimarum.” My 9th grade Latin, again to the rescue.

      • Dennis O'Keefe
        November 7, 2013 at 9:54 pm #

        Not to be a schoolmarm about it, but vale, in latin, means “valley,” if used as a noun. At least there’s no conjugating of verbs in the offing.

        And, I commend you on your focus of issues that really affect Pittsfield, which aren’t the personalities of City Councilors and Mayors, but rather the abundance of subsidized housing, lack of serious new business investment, and the ongoing failure of the public schools. The BB needs to direct its attention on these issues and the voters would be the better for it.

        • danvalenti
          November 8, 2013 at 9:10 am #

          Thanks, DOK.

  9. Ron Kitterman
    November 7, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

    The late Terry Donnelly and I were called to break up a fight during council meeting , in the 80’s meeting between Mayor Smith and Councilor McCaffrey. It was before the internet was invented by Al Gore and was fully in swing but it made some headlines. Voters crying out for more unity and harmony in the past election and the need to work together ? Sounds like a plan. Agree totally you Dan, though we are definitely going through a transition in politics and the news. The internet is growing and the Eagle is dying a slow death.

    • Donald
      November 7, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

      You can make the same argument about any newspaper, catalog, etc. in the country. It’s not unique to the Eagle. Everything is shifting to a digital medium, they just need to figure out how to capitalize on it. Their monthly unique visitor count is actually quite impressive.

      • joetaxpayer
        November 7, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

        Donald, I agree with you most newspapers are dealing with decrease in subscriptions. The Berkshire Eagle is to one sided and doesn’t know how to report the truth or even the quotes that are spoken to them

        • Foxy Lady
          November 7, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

          But BB has allowed the coverage to go to the dogs. That has nothing to do with shoft from newspaper to digital. The paper stinks and people know it .

        • Foxy Lady
          November 7, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

          But BB has allowed the coverage to go to the dogs. That has nothing to do with shoft from newspaper to digital. The paper stinks and people know it .

  10. eddiep
    November 7, 2013 at 6:00 pm #

    Jonathan, about yesterdays post, did you ever see a lawyer about your firing? It sounds like you had a case there.

    • Jonathan Melle
      November 7, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

      I have gone through many wrongs in my life without a lawyer to represent me. I complained to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination in Springfield in 2002 and 2003. They did not find in my favor by not finding “probable cause” that I was discriminated against and wrongfully terminated. I lost! The bank did not even send a person to my hearing in Springfield. My appeal hearing, the bank had a representative listen to me on the telephone. The bank had all of the power and they were able to do whatever they wanted to do to me. The system was corrupt at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination in Springfield in favor of the bank. The MCAD in Boston later found the bank guilty of discrimination against another employee in an unrelated case. I was not the only employee to complain to the MCAD about discrimination at the bank I worked at in 2001 and 2002 in Pittsfield. I do not do any business with that bank anymore.

      • eddiep
        November 8, 2013 at 9:15 am #

        In this case, my next step would have been a lawsuit against the bank.

  11. levitan
    November 7, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

    Dan V.,

    You really ought to kick yourself. This was the only time someone could have a fair campaign for office. A clean mayor who does not hire people to stuff the ballots, no smear, and just one opponent and the incumbent.

    And the pleasure of running on the slogan, “If elected, I promise to resign.” The call to a better time and the breakage of political party was ignored, and two years we will have the usual campaign of self-interested candidates looking for praise.

    • danvalenti
      November 7, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

      Thank you, but no, I never look back. If I had truly wanted to win the office, I would have done it. Right now, if makes no sense financially, professionally, and personally. That’s why I DIDN’T do it, because winning would have been guaranteed. In short, it wasn’t the right time. 2015? We’ll see.

  12. Giacometti
    November 7, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

    STILL WONDERING….the fact is that Charlie Smith is not the person who killed Pyramid Companies from building a Mall in Downtown Pittsfield…Angelo Stracuzzi is to blame. At the time the mall was proposed by Pyramid… Dyan Nelson was working in the Office of Community Development for the City and submitted a plan to designate the buildings in the downtown to be of historical value with the Registry for Historic Places…but the application was sent in a week after the City met with Pyramid to get a mall built downtown…Angelo was the president of the City Council at the time and was the only one who knew that the Mall was proposed a week before the historical application was made and was suppose to testify at the hearing Pyramid called to in court showing the City’s application was after the City met and agreed to build the mall downtown…but Angelo was mysteriously out of the country at the time and could not testify…so the suit fell apart and Pyramid did not build the mall downtown…or as the saying went
    ” Tell ‘um Angelo sent you “…Charlie Smith was just blamed but the fault really was with Angelo not being a stand-up kind of guy.

    • Jonathan Melle
      November 7, 2013 at 9:54 pm #

      Angelo Massimiano or Carmen Stracuzzi.

    • eddiep
      November 8, 2013 at 9:25 am #

      We cannot leave Charlie Smith out of this entirely. I can remember his famous quote “I do not want a Pyramid village in my city”, or close to it. They wanted to tear down from Depot St. to West St. with a flyway from the mall over West St. to the hotel.

  13. Tito
    November 8, 2013 at 6:18 am #

    I’m listening to the Keol show with LOW as the guest. He just trashed Stop and Shop’s slow bottle return machine and uses Big Y because it’s faster. Why would a sitting City Councilor trash a business like that?

    • Mike Ward
      November 8, 2013 at 7:18 am #

      Elected officials are usually too cautious about sharing any opinion lest they offend someone. It leads to boring interviews and timid government. If I had a nickle for every time I heard the phrase “I can see both sides of this issue” I’d have a lot of nickles.

      • danvalenti
        November 8, 2013 at 9:09 am #

        So true, MW. Bland, “say nothing” statements abound. So sad.

  14. Tito
    November 8, 2013 at 6:22 am #

    Better yet, why would a School run radio station allow this kind of banter?

  15. jlo
    November 8, 2013 at 7:01 am #

    Tito – I never trashed anyone, just noted the Biy Y’s is better and faster so its made me a customer there. Competition works for the consumer. Why do you insist on putting a negative spin on it?

  16. Tito
    November 8, 2013 at 7:11 am #

    Negative spin? Stop stumbling, you said quite explicitly, I don’go there anymore’…personally, I like stop and Shop’s bottle return, and can be assured 99 percent chance of not being mugged.

  17. Jeff Ferrin
    November 8, 2013 at 7:43 am #


    This is a little off topic but does have to do with the BB. I have now sent three responses regarding Capitanios legal case involving the informing of his alleged drug dealer.

    I have asked three times who from law enforcement informed Capitanio of the pending raid?

    Was it an inside person retired police chief, officer or relative who frequents the bar and has an in with local PD?

    When is it that councilors are kept in the loop or informed of impending drug raids?

    Was it his relative who is on the drug task force who is also an officer with PPD?

    Was it from within the DA’s Office?

    Who is investigating that portion of the case?

    Does Capeless have the balls to investigate, inform, arrest or take any action if it is from inside?

    If so will this person be charged with the same crimes and released from duty? (my guess is no)

    Will we the public be given an answer as to who/whom tipped him off in order for him to have tipped off his alleged dealer?

    Wire taps are one thing. He obviously was told in person by someone in his bar or elsewhere. Otherwise how would he have even known what was coming?

    Once again the BB has made it a point to clearly show that they are very much in the pocket of the GOB. The bed bugs and lice must be running ramped with antibiotics all around for the STD’s being passed between each other. Therian is as much a microbial rat as the GOB

    Jeff Ferrin

    • danvalenti
      November 8, 2013 at 9:08 am #

      You raise excellent questions. Any local daily, especially with a monopolistic hold over a circulation area, that had even a modicum of both self-respect and care about its responsibilities toward readers and citizens would be all over the aspects of the Capitanio story that you mention, plus others. The GOB is bought, sold, and paid for by the GOB. It’s the GOB house organ. One reason that it doesn’t rock the boat is that the newsroom has been put down to seeds and stems. Maybe so, but there is still a body of resources that could get the job done. The BB could, in fact, rock. It could kick butt and own local media. But no. The people there are too scared, too timid, too owned to want to break out of their journalistic servitude and prostitution and into self respect and freedom. Think about it: One of the main reasons why the paper doesn’t do its job is because of the sheer amount of corruption, graft, and sleaze bubbling just under the surface of much of official and GOB life.

  18. MrG1188
    November 8, 2013 at 8:16 am #

    So let’s imagine for a minute, cuz I find this kind of interesting, that you’re the new editor or publisher of the Eagle. Although it may be impossible, say you come in as an outsider, full of piss and vinegar and with the full courage of your convictions. What happens next? Does someone come in, sit down in your office (or cube) and tell you “how it’s gonna be?” ANd if that really does happen, is it Crooknose Vinny that comes in, or a guy in a fancy suit? Who is the GOB network and who dictates policy? See, while all that sort of bought and paid for stuff is interesting, sounds cool and may even be plausible, I think the demise of the Eagle, a demise which begins and ends with loss of journalistic integrity, ie failure to do its job, is much more mundane and pedestrian. And, unfortunately, it is a story directly parallel to voter apathy. Perhaps years ago there were closed-door meetings between “power-brokers” and Eagle editors/publishers which resulted in dictums being passed down. But years of cuts and cuts and cuts have eroded coverage capability, talent levels and enthusiasm. to the point where I think many of the news staff just want to keep their heads low, get their jobs done, NOT stand out for fear of being the next cut and not do “extra” investigative work because they won’t be paid for any additional hours spent working. Ironically the only path back to relevance for the paper, and perhaps back to a stable circulation base, is indeed probing, honest, incisive reporting that addresses the local issues that need addressing. Voter apathy, soaring violent crime and decreasing student achievement combined with rapidly increasing school budgets are 3 good places to start. They needn’t become muckrakers or scandal mongers, just do some digging, Spend some time on investigating rather than just seeking a quote from the appropriate big-wig and stories that people want to read will evolve.

    • danvalenti
      November 8, 2013 at 9:03 am #

      Beautifully stated, MRG1188. As you point out, there is no personal incentive for a “go get ’em” type reporter to cover the stories you mention, plus the many many more that go untouched. JEFF FERRIN brings up just one: the aspects of the Captanio case that are “out there” but aren’t being touched by the BB. In fact, if you show enterprise and initiative, you find yourself out the door. Thus, reporters tend to keep their noses clean, do a bland job, and not go after anything. I find it amusing that THE PLANET, which performs this service free, as a public service, can regularly come across stories that beg to be told. We are an army of one, and we do what we can. This isn’t our main gig, though. So if we can unearth “stuff” (and some “big stuff”) regularly, why can’t the paper, with its entire newsroom and other resources. However diminished, they still can make noise, and that is the key to revival. Tough, “take no prisoners” investigative work, not the pabulum that will only ensure loss of circulation. The paper is doing a textbook job of “how not to” in traversing the new era of digital news. It took a lousy and dysfunctional web site and made into into one even more lousy and more dysfunctional. It is mind boggling to see the results of the decisions being made at the BB these days. That includes editorial, business, and management decisions. They act in a way that demonstrates they have gone stone cold deaf to the public it allegedly serves. Investigative work, digging are the beginning. Muck-racking has to follow because of all the muck.

    • levitan
      November 8, 2013 at 12:32 pm #


      There is no conspiracy, no gang, and there are no GOB’s. If you are attracted to the idea, then think of them like G-d. You know it’s there somewhere, but also know that it will never show up at your door.

      The Berkshire Eagle publication is powered by osmotic pressure. Stuff gets through the membrane separating the world from their presses, but the exchange rate leaves much to be desired. The rest of the things that bother you are antiques from prior administrations who have little insight yet hold what ought to be influential positions such as PEDA.

      I feel Bianchi has done just about as much as could be done without firing much of City Hall and taking care of the rest of business using the tactics you wondered about above.

      • danvalenti
        November 8, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

        Bianchi could have done a heckuva lot more, with firing one soul. He chose not to. He chose the easy way out. Why? Pension building? In it for the money? Only he can say for sure.

        • levitan
          November 8, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

          He’s a decent man, and most likely firing is not his suit. Good managers do not hit the eject button easily. Look towards people’s better sides – you’ll see more there.

          • levitan
            November 8, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

            -I suspect I know to whom you refer regarding ‘firing one person.’ If I have you correctly, it was not the highest accomplishment of his term, but hardly a fatal flaw.

            If you refer to the lawyer, forget about it. Law is a dull battleground and is won on the obscure points. You can go into court completely naked and inebriated and the judge could rule for you on the cold hard facts. We see that every day in Probate and District Court. Degnan understood that, and her words did little to change the impending train wreck heading our way in the form of the ADA and Spectrum who rightly wanted compensation for denial of service.

    • dusty
      November 8, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

      I DO believe outside pressure is applied in the editing dept of the Eagle. A newspaper just could not be that bad if it were being assembled in a prison. Just look at the Berkshire Record from south county. That is what the Eagle used to be like and how refreshing it is to go back in time and pretend it is the Eagle. I doubt if the problem is the talent. I believe that they are intentionally hamstrung and one only needs to reflect on what happened with the Nilan case to see what probably happens every day at the Clock Tower.

      • danvalenti
        November 8, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

        The problem is NOT talent. The BB has talented scribes. The problem is the muzzle it places on all of them. The unwritten rule is “don’t rock the boat or you lose your job.” The Nilan case, with which THE PLANET in on intimate terms, is a great example. The paper is simply now a tool of the local power base, and the management dares not offend the same people that invite them to all the freebie get togethers, soirees, and hob-nobbing.

      • levitan
        November 8, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

        That outside pressure likely comes from Denver.

        Most likely, those remote publishers could care less given the quality of the mush printed daily on the Editorial page and tell them to not make waves. For example, today, they tell us Warren is ‘fighting the good fight.’ That is, making divisive speeches, saying crazy things, and insulting her constituents (whom she does not represent.)

        Nilan? What about Hazzard? She actually committed vehicular manslaughter and drove got away with it.