PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, NOV. 18, 2013) — When the Pittsfield Boys and Girls Club board of directors placed executive director Peter Bell on paid leave of absence on Oct. 23, it did not say why. Not saying “why” has done the greatest injustice to Bell, to the Club, to its supporters, its members, and its alumnae (PLANET included).

Bell succeeded the Craig CrosierJim Mooney-Fred Fahey line as the executive director at the Club in 1999 after having joined the Club staff in 1982 as the director of Camp Russell.

PETER BELL — On a mysterious paid leave of absence from the Pittsfield Boys and Girls Club.

Too many people have been speculating on the reasons for the dismissal. As with most whispering in town, THE PLANET got wind of it. The speculations exemplify inequity at its worst, and the blame lies with the board of directors for making this move, talking to the Boring Broadsheet, and not specifying the reason for the unusual action. Its interesting that the BB did not investigate this story further, of if it did, apparently did not have the investigative teeth to pull it off.

This is exactly the type of expose that should be well within the capabilities of a city’s lone metro daily. Good reporters cultivate sources everywhere, and in situation like this, they have the means to get at the truth. Good reporters have big Rolodexes to go along with big balls.

The BB’s failure can only mean that either it has the tools to get the story and refuses to “go there;” it has them, tried to use them, and failed; or it doesn’t have them. Take your pick. All we know is the BB once again failed the community with its coverage and lack of coverage.

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At this point, THE PLANET introduces the Board of Directors of the Pittsfield Boys and Girls Club: David Dery, James Ditello, Cynthia Spinola, David Crane, George Haddad, William Parsley III, Susan Brate, Marilyn Sperling, John Kittredge, John Donna, Steven Ray, Gary Scarafoni, Evan Dobelle, Tom Hamel, Deborah Renzi, Colleen Rossi, Ronald DeAngelis, David Tierney III, Clement Ferris, and William Martin.

Donna, board president, “declined to elaborate” for the BB the reasons for Bell’s dismissal. Naturally, this being Pittsfield, with a lively underground of speculation, the guessers began speculating in “factual” cadences about the reasons for the board’s actions. In declining to be honest, forthright, and transparent, Donna and the board have perpetuated the worst gossip and have caused great harm to the Club’s reputation. There have already been enough rumors about the alleged goings on at Camp Russell and at the Club, and a story like this … well, we won’t be drawing any maps.

David Harte, the Club’s director of operations, has declined to comment on Bell’s removal. He referred all inquiries to Donna, who not only won’t say why Bell was dismissed but also won’t say when the “leave of absence” will be up. THE PLANET calls upon Donna or some other board member with knowledge of the case to step forward, immediately, and shed light on this mysterious situation.

Does THE PLANET have the truth?

The famous Club mural.

Seeing how the BB doesn’t know how to do this, THE PLANET made some inquiries. We got out the Rolodex and in minutes found out something. One key source with connections to the Club, speaking on the condition of anonymity, tells us that Bell ran into trouble when he “developed and hired two different people to run the development office at the Club. Neither one knew anything about development and just did public relations, which isn’t development.” Our source tells us that when the Club’s Alumni Board brought this to Bell’s attention, Bell “managed to have the Alumni Board dissolved, cit of its responsibilities.” Apparently, the Board of Directors acted against Bell when it found out about this, since the Alum Board didn’t take kindly to the action. On the Club’s website, Bell is still listed as executive director. Under the “Alumni” tab, there is no Alumni Board listed.

Is this information true? Is that why Peter Bell is out? Anyone with knowledge may respond with the assurance of total confidence to THE PLANET. Respondents must leave a valid contact phone number and e-mail address.

The Boys & Girls Club of Pittsfield currently has approximately 5,000 members and includes a wide range of youth-centered programming, including: recreational and competitive athletics for youths; after-school homework and student support; middle school nights; a café; art and woodworking programs; summer camps; mentoring and youth leadership programs; and licensed nursery school and daycare services.



In the latest issue of Berkshire Business News, a publication of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce,

JUNE ROY MARTIN — Gobble + gook = Gobbledygook.

June Roy-Martin of the Chamber writes that “The Berkshire Chamber today is not your father’s Chamber.” Martin is the latest of the Chamber’s shills who want us to believe that we are living in an economic paradise, thanks to all the good work by the GOB. That statement of “your father’s Chamber” can be taken a number of ways, the nature of paternity being what it is, but THE PLANET takes it in terms of effectiveness. The Chamber, which has as one of its mission local economic development, has been notably unsuccessful in stimulating economic development in the Berkshires. Hmmm, why is it that THE PLANET prefers “our Daddy’s chamber” and not this collection of ineffectives?

Martin says the Chamber is “looking for new ways to reach … small business owners.” It’s a surprising statement coming from the Chamber, with its years of experience in the local business market. “New ways?” What does that mean. Martin provides no concrete examples? It is an admission of failure to reach the countless small businesses (defined as between 1 and 15 employees) that make up 75% of the Chamber membership and much of the local economy.

It is also a prime example of the pretentious sounding jargon that born bureaucrats employ to sound important but say nothing. When you add gook to gobble, you end up with gobbledygook.

Martin tells us that the local Chamber managed to connect with MGM Resorts, which is looking to put a casino in Springfield — as if this is good news. MGM is looking to receive a gaming license in Springfield next year, and the Chamber has latched on to this as a desperate attempt to lure entertainment to the Berkshires. It represents a virtual admission by the Chamber of its dereliction in spurring significant business development in the Berkshire. Pittsfield and the area doesn’t need MGM stage acts and Vegas-type lounge lizards as sloppy seconds from Springfield. It needs jobs that pay a livable wage with benefits, jobs that can let a breadwinner support a family.

Why is it that when we talk about such jobs for Pittsfield and environs, we are looked at as if we are the original Grassy Knollers? Why? Has Pittsfield sunk that low? Has Mayor Dan Bianchi managed to deflate that much life out of the city, that the local Chamber should be boasting about maybe latching on the MGM seconds  if Springfield approves the casino?

Martin ends her article (Nov. 6 issue) with the astoundingly banal:  “Your Berkshire Chamber of Commerce is ready for the challenges and opportunities that have been presented, and we ask our members to move forward as partners — to help support the businesses that support the Berkshires.” Nice, but what the heck does that mean? Folks, look at the words. They mean little and signify nothing.

How much longer will Pittsfield put up with such mediocrity?




Finally, sticking with the Nov. 6 edition of the Chamber’s tattle sheet, we find on page 11 the monthly “BYP Out & About” feature, which chronicles the Berkshire Young Professionals‘ monthly “networking” social. As we have long since established, the monthly gathering serves as an excuse for “young professionals” to (a) suck up to those who might help their careers, in loss of all shame and dignity, and (b) to get wasted. THE PLANET is pleased to report that (b) gets done in a much more “tucked away” manner.

After Meredith Nilan‘s crunching introduction to pedestrian Peter Moore on Dec. 11, 2011, the Beepers have been instructed never to show drinks in the photos that go into the “Out & About” section. That came from On High, and, by the way, was an indirect cause of the former director of marketing and communications Ashley Sulock, a young woman that THE PLANET has held in high esteem, to tell Mike Supranowicz what he could do with his gag order. The new marketing and communications stooge is Darci Hess. Darci. Isn’t it perfect?

Anyways, on page 11 we see the smiling and scrubbed faces of the BEEPER kibbitzers in six photos. Unfortunately, the second photo from the top, going in from the left, depicts Laura Baran, Christa Collier, and said June Roy-Martin at a table at Greylock Bowl & Golf in North Adams with a wine glass, 1/4 full with a substance that looks suspiciously like Pinot Blanc.

The horror. The horror.

What, didn’t they get Big Mike’s Memo?


“Consolation for the sorrows that steam

into the heart like the accelerating beam

of a hate laser, made faster by indifference,

the light that goes out, blind impertinence.

Into that we are left, bereft, on our own,

and into that resource moment life condones

creativity out of its cocoon, the caterpillar

that awoke and dared tried to know the butterfly.”Dan Valenti, “The Blankets, To Warm Us,” 2013.





  1. Tim
    November 17, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    Bell took over for craig crosier, not mooney

    • Deb S
      November 18, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

      Craig Crosier-Jim Mooney-Fred Fahey, the way I read it was Bell replaced Crosier as Crosier replaced Mooney who in turn replaced Fahey.

      • Tim
        November 18, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

        He edited it after i posted

        • danvalenti
          November 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

          Yes, it is as TIM said. I incorporated his information, and it make for a better, more accurate story. We thank JIMBO.

  2. Jonathan Melle
    November 17, 2013 at 10:38 pm #

    Pete Bell always treated me with respect. He is a good man.

    • danvalenti
      November 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

      Thank you, JM, for your input.

  3. Evian
    November 18, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    This is the best story on the mystery at the B&G club done so far. I hope the club’s board comes clean to end all the speculation. DVs story should help in that.

    • danvalenti
      November 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

      Well, considering that the BB did a “once over, lightly” and the other local media ignored the story, it would be hard NOT to best what has been done previously. Nonetheless, we appreciate the recognition.

  4. Rick
    November 18, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

    You could always call Dobelles’ PR man and ask him what is going on.

  5. Giacometti
    November 18, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

    Your depiction of ” The Famous Club Mural ” is all fine and good…but it leaves out the mural work of the late William F. Blake who created the most recent ” Famous Club Mural ” which celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Pittsfield Boy’s and Girl’s Club and is situated in full view of the Director’s Office as a
    reminder of the fact that it’s a Club for all of our community.

  6. ShirleyKnutz
    November 18, 2013 at 8:00 pm #

    It is so sad that someone who has done so much for the children of Pittsfield would be treated with such disrespect. This is typical of Pittsfield and a reason people/businesses think twice before investing in the city.

    • danvalenti
      November 18, 2013 at 8:10 pm #

      The link is not only plausible but all but proven: This type of stuff keeps businesses away from Pittsfield. THE GOB likes to blame much of it on me for daring to report these stories that would otherwise remain hidden, but so be it. That is a sign of our effectiveness.

  7. pemetina
    November 18, 2013 at 10:46 pm #

    Very nice poem Dan. I can’t wait to see a butterfly again.

    • danvalenti
      November 19, 2013 at 8:57 am #

      You win a prize for noticing the poetry at the end. THE PLANET likes to conclude each column with three things: (1) verse, (2) our salutation to Aunt Millie, and (3) the expression of love to all. THE PLANET thanks you.

  8. amandaWell
    November 19, 2013 at 5:15 am #

    Peter Bell was well paid for his services Nutz, it is incumbent for the Planet to inquire, especially when it concerns the CHILDREN of our Community. We wish Peter Bell all the best, let’s hope he is not ill and that this was purely an administrative decision. But don’t blame our messenger.

    • danvalenti
      November 19, 2013 at 8:55 am #

      Well put. Since the BB whiffed (again) on this story, THE PLANET felt duty-bound to investigate. It never ceases to amaze me, the “shoot the messenger” syndrome. Some are acting as if THE PLANET and not the Club’s Board of Directors dismissed Peter Bell. I, too, share your hopes for Mr. Bell. As I said in the article, the Board owes him and the public a definitive explanation. Until then, there will be whispers, and some not so softly rendered.

  9. Jim Gleason
    November 20, 2013 at 6:03 pm #

    Tom Hamel is also on the board of erections at the CYC, one of Vinnie Marinaro’s “friends” he brought in who fired both Vinnie and my Dad, my Dad after 53 years of service to the organization, and the board that couldn’t maintain the building, causing it to be shut down this year. Good job, guys and broads.

    • raider50
      November 21, 2013 at 6:39 pm #

      Jim, while your dad served for many years at the CYC and little League here in Pittsfield, his time had long expired. I never found an “official” that was so polarizing in his positions of leadership. If you didn’t agree with him he made things very difficult for you. His desire to eliminate the city of Pittsfield Minor league baseball program and incorporate under the umbrella of “Little League” has helped to lead to a serious decline in the number of children currently playing at those age groups. While serving the community he could have done us all a favor and been a little less abrasive and dictatorial.

  10. levitan
    November 25, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

    The picture at bottom, depicting a Beeper, is evidence of the maleffects of unnecessary self-deprivation on the human need for that which is not good for us.

    I just hope the aspiring professional did not bother to put on her facebook page for all future employers to consider.

    • levitan
      November 25, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

      Also, I have never read one sharp remark from a member of any Berkshire Visitors agency or Chamber of Commerce.

      I bet that people who are good at marketing put their efforts into real industry, not the puffery that drives these outfits.