PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, JAN. 19, 2014) — Ho-hum, just another routine Monday. The sun rose in the east, the birds did the buck-and-wing, and, oh yeah, and, the Boring Broadsheet failed to do a proper journalistic followup in the spectacular car crash that claimed two lives at the concrete apron that moats Pittsfield High School.

The crash is important for reasons that go way beyond this particular circumstance and incident. Search beneath the wreckage. What do you see? Do you see the recklessness so characteristic of the city’s deteriorating quality of life? If so, ask: Where does it come from? What are its demographics? How pervasive is the mentality? How influential are its proponents? How brainwashed are its followers? If you do not see it, why not? Is it not there? Someone has to ask these questions, and it’s sure that none of the local media save THE PLANET dares to do this.

Those who wish to believe the fantasy that the PHS crash incident is simply an easily dismissed one-off need to open their eyes with which to see and their ears with which to hear. That is best done if they would wear blindfolds and earplugs. If they do that, perhaps they will be able to reflect in silence that the sensationalism of a dismemberment trial has no correlation to the entrenched social and cultural “lifestyle cancer” that is eating away at the body of the city.

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While the BB snoozed, THE PLANET went to work, extracting more information from the whirlwind of rumors and hail of hearsay swirling around and in the aftermath of the crash. Sources familiar with the ongoing investigation tell us that:

* There appears to have been no police chase on Second Street. Neighbors and witnesses report the rented 2013 Nissan Altima jetted alone south on Second Street and through the busy East Street intersection. A moment’s thought will point out to you how this is more problematic than if there actually were a Starsky-and-Hutch type car chase.

* There are conflicting eyewitness reports, according to our sources. These include reports

— that there was an attempted intervention by undercover police in another section of the city,

— that the occupants of the vehicle were involved in some kind of confrontation or altercation in the Lincoln Street Second Street vicinity possibly involving gunfire,

— that they were fleeing in response to “being spotted by rival gang members,” and

— that the vehicle was being tailed (not chased) by police. The Acccident Investigation Unit of the PPD is investigating.

THE PLANET cautions that these are not official findings and have not been officially confirmed. The AIU has yet to issue a public report.

* Sources tell THE PLANET that police had received several complaints about a car fitting the Nissan description being operated dangerously.

* The Altima had Connecticut plates. One unconfirmed report claimed Hartford International Airport as the origin of the car.

* Ernest Duck, 37, and Tariq Salley, 34, died in the crash. There were reports that Salley, although listed as living in Pittsfield, also had a New York address. An Internet search showed a “Tariq Salley” with an address of 350 143rd St., Bronx, N.Y.

* Another unconfirmed report said that one of the dead men worked as police informant.

* On Oct. 3, 2009, The BB ran a story by Conor Berry that started this way:

“Overall prison sentences were reduced last week for two men found guilty in a violent assault case after some of their convictions were overturned on appeal.

“A three-judge panel of the Massachusetts Appeals Court ordered Christopher T. Horton and Tariq Salley, both of whom were responsible for a Pittsfield assault on Nov. 12, 2005, to be re-sentenced on appropriate lesser charges.

“Both originally were convicted in Berkshire Superior Court in 2007 for a slew of offenses, including three counts apiece of assault by means of a dangerous weapon.”

Berry’s story identifies Salley as 30 years old and originally from Tennessee.

* On Feb. 4, 2005, the BB had this item:

“Three alleged gunmen involved in two separate shootings were arraigned on $10,000 cash bail or surety bond in Central Berkshire District Court yesterday for allegedly kicking and beating a fellow inmate at the Berkshire House of Correction on Jan. 7.

“Judge Alfred A. Barbalunga entered not-guilty pleas for Christopher T. Horton, 19, of Thomasville, N.C., Tariq Salley, 26, of Johnson City, Tenn., and Reggie W. Ellerbee, 24, of Hamlin Street, Pittsfield, on one count each of aggravated assault and battery. A pretrial hearing was scheduled for March 2 at 9 a.m. on their cases.

“The victim, Jason M. Ostrander, 24, of Spring Street, North Adams was taken to Berkshire Medical Center for treatment of lacerations, bruises and cuts to his face and body, according to court records.

“Horton, Salley and Ellerbee were reportedly caught kicking and punching Ostrander in his head and body at the Berkshire House of Correction shortly before 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 7, according to a report by Mjr. David J. Sinopoli, security director for the sheriff’s department.”

* At 7 p.m. Friday, a candlelight vigil was conducted in Park Square for the two dead men. Pastor Sharon Johnson of Our Father’s Restoration Church, coordinator of the vigil, told the BB, “They were so young.” Johnson described Duck as a “great guy. Very loving. He was a great guy to be around. He was always in high spirits.” Johnson called Salley the “sweetest guy.”

We’re sure, and we mourn the dead and those who experience the loss. Have you noticed, though, that most everyone who dies in circumstances like this or worse are depicted as angels, choir boys, sisters of goodness, and pure as the driven snow job. Come to think of it, middle 30s is not “so young.” Middle 30s is the time for adulthood, responsibility, and solidity of character, saying nothing, of course, about the two dead men in this regard.

THE PLANET can only add that Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 14, was not one of those days when Duck “was a great guy to be around,” to use Johnson’s phrase. It would also appear from the BB clips that Duck was on speaking terms with the wrong side of the law.

* A PHS student who identified herself as Katherine Mortensen said the car crossed the four lanes of East Street, made no attempt to turn east or west, jumped the curb, hit a tree, went airborne, and did a full rotation before slamming into the concrete apron at PHS. “It’s like they wanted to kill themselves,” Mortensen said.

Police have asked that anyone who has information about the crash or the victims to call 413-448-9700.

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Meanwhile, violence and mayhem continue to plague Pittsfield. The day after the fatal crash, police reported a near-deadly stabbing that left a 29-year-old North Adams man in critical condition. Stabbings, shootings, and beatings, sadly, would fit into the litany of “ho-hum” that we began this column with, but the striking aspect of this one: It was done in broad daylight, at Madison Avenue and Seymour Street, just off the downtown area.

Police were on the lookout for a man in his early 20s. They described him as a light-skilled Hispanic, about 5 feet 8 inches tall weighing 135.

These sad events do not occur in a vacuum. They come from somewhere, from someone, doing something. Pittsfield officials and politicians can continue to weave their cotton candy pipe dream about how great everything is, but the good folks who have lost the streets of the once-sylvan city. They are no longer safe, and they will soon pay another round of tax hikes for the privilege.


“Once I used to join in, every boy and girl was my friend. Now there’s revolution, but they don’t know what they’re fighting. Let’s close our eyes. Outside, their lives go on much faster. Oh, we won’t give in, we’ll keep living in the past.”Ian Anderson, Jethro Tull, “Living in the Past,” (1970).





  1. Ron Kitterman
    January 20, 2014 at 3:37 am #

    Good thing they moved the giant bat statue or they would of hit a HR. Guess we’ll have to skip the PHS spot next year where they tow in a demolished wreck to point out the dangers of driving while under the influence.

  2. nota
    January 20, 2014 at 7:42 am #

    Let us not forget the murder in the Burger King parking lot and the triple homicide on Linden St. These incidents have been going on for years now.

  3. ShirleyKnutz
    January 20, 2014 at 8:15 am #

    This is just a sad commentary of where we are a community in the Berkshires. As people don’t get educated, don’t attend church, don’t get involved to better the community, the community just slides into an Abyss. There are ways to change direction but it doesn’t seem Pittsfield/Berkshire County realizes it or they don’t want to work at changing for the better…just sad.

  4. Rafael
    January 20, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    Not only is there a lack of sense of community, but there is an almost total lack of logic and reason in today’s society. No one seems to do ‘the right thing’ anymore, unless that right thing means making money in any way, shape, or form. When a society places money above all is, this is the inevitable result. It was just a matter of time, and that time is here.

  5. Bill Sturgeon
    January 20, 2014 at 11:08 am #

    Shirley: It is not just here is the Berkshires where these things are happening / not happening – it nationwide. No one takes responsibility for what they do or don’t do. Just my opinion!

  6. ShirleyKnutz
    January 20, 2014 at 11:36 am #

    Bill, I have travelled throughout the nation and it is not every where. Went to visit a friend down south and we went to the local park at night. My friend walked over and turned on the lights so we could enjoy the park, when we left we turned them off. Nothing was spray painted and everything was orderly. I have been other places with similar experiences, unfortunately I could not reciprocate, I have to take them to events at arenas,theaters.

    • levitan
      January 20, 2014 at 9:08 pm #

      The story of the Jamiacan posses of Philadelphia from the ’90’s puts this stuff in perspective.

  7. levitan
    January 20, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    Dan Valenti,

    Are you really claiming the sadistic murders, compounded by the inscrutable behavior of the DA, is merely ‘sensational?” Please, entertain me for a moment, and explain what part of kidnapping three men, driving them off to a secluded forest, and murdering them most likely in a satanic fashion is sensational.

    As for your car crash, good luck milking it for another week or two. The media’s average is not your friend in this case.

    • Scott
      January 20, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

      Also the Berkshire Eagle with its sickening anti gun rants has yet to ask the question of why no charges have been brought against the guy who gave Hall a known criminal a gun that he is by state and most likely federal law disqualified to posses. Here’s to their tough Mass gun laws at work!

      • levitan
        January 20, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

        Hall would have been happy to leave the gun at home.

  8. Thomas More
    January 20, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

    Nature abhors vacuum. GE closed, thousands of empty apartments. Butchy gets a huge new jail. Folks find out how easy it is to get section 8 and welfare. All the apartments fill up. Empty mill. Don’t bulldoze it, make it into affordable housing. Six hundred more folks we don’t need. At least we have an arts overlay district. That’s real progress.

  9. joetaxpayer
    January 20, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

    As far as Adam Lee Hall trail goes. not interested until the verdict. If he doesn’t get life, there will be outrage. Even when I was a kid, didn’t watch Perry Mason. More of a Dukes of Hazard, Chips guy.

    • levitan
      January 20, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

      If a verdict for three killers is all that you want, why care?

      Free or condemned, Hall, lumpy, and the scowler leave behind the Ely’s, Dawsons, more Halls, the hells angels, and countless tangential accomplices. Many of them are seen smirking in front of the prosecutor on the witness stand.

      You may even have bought a car or an antique from one of them by now. The story really is bigger and more important than the muckery of some low leintoxicated gang members

      • levitan
        January 20, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

        *leintoxicated ‘…some low level intoxicated…”

      • joetaxpayer
        January 21, 2014 at 7:30 am #

        Sorry, I must need glasses, don’t see why this story is so big.People have been committing despicable acts forever.

        At least they were caught, in many cases they go unsolved.

        • levitan
          January 21, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

          I could say, ‘get some glasses,’ but I owe you some respect. Whenever the satanic rears its head, it’s big. And when innocent are left exposed to it’s evil, that is big too.

          The story is only just unfolding before our eyes in witness testimony, and what we learn is the acts of three evil men, dozens aided and abetted them up to the arrests. That is, people who worked in restaurants and sold us goods and services.

  10. amandaWell
    January 20, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

    I was a Munsters Addams Family, Twilight Zone. Not unlike real life around here.

  11. maxwell edison
    January 20, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

    Is that a real pastor or a Sears pastor?

    • MrG1188
      January 21, 2014 at 7:10 am #

      The Poodle bites Maxwell. Thanks for the smile!

  12. Scott
    January 20, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

    “If they do that, perhaps they will be able to reflect in silence that the sensationalism of a dismemberment trial has no correlation to the entrenched social and cultural “lifestyle cancer” that is eating away at the body of the city.”

    I disagree it has everything to do with it. The only difference is the car crash guys are part of the minority criminal element while the triple murder suspects are part of the white criminla element.

    • levitan
      January 20, 2014 at 6:47 pm #

      Thumbs up, Scott. And the hells angels have been around far longer and involved in more crime in our city than these amateur crooks.

      And since the publisher seems to have missed the story, the Hall murders is a hells angels murder.

      • scott
        January 21, 2014 at 4:44 am #

        Yeah but they give to charity and host sea food dinners.

  13. Toland
    January 20, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

    I’m with DV on this one. Hall trial is a blaring headline grabbing thing. The bb must love it they don’t have to do any digging.I’m not interested until the verdict.

    • levitan
      January 20, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

      I don’t know, Toland. I took the earplugs out and the blinders off yesterday afternoon. All I found was more sound and fury signifying wanna-be headlines.

      • Toland
        January 20, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

        That must mean youve been reading the bb again, lev!

        • levitan
          January 20, 2014 at 8:39 pm #


        • levitan
          January 20, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

          Ah, I get it. the Straight Man speaketh.

  14. Pat
    January 20, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

    I agree that the public should have more info on the stabbing on Seymour/Madison Streets. Like did the victim know his attacker or was it a totally random attack? Was he attacked for money for drugs or just attacked for no reason? The public really should know this stuff since a violent person is at large.

    Where is the follow-up story on this from the Berkshire Eagle and a follow-up story on the crash at Pittsfield High School?

  15. Silence Dogood
    January 20, 2014 at 6:32 pm #

    Starsky-and-Hutch? I’d be more inclined to go with the “Ducks Of Hazzard” or ” Duck Dies Nasty”

  16. amandaWell
    January 20, 2014 at 6:51 pm #

    ….just Ducky!

  17. Payroll Patroit
    January 22, 2014 at 6:38 am #


    Massive meteor shower hits Pittsfield, MA (Palookaville). Because of their magnetic nature they have only hit around manhole covers and storm drains, thus saving all the building structures in the community. Mayor DO Nothing has declared a state of meteor hole (pot hole) emergency. His grand inquisitor, the Planet, has identified the solution: the big magic red pot hole machine with Big Wind from North(Barrett) in charge. The Public Works Commissioner (talk about an oxymoron) can’t be found. Rumors have it he is looking for Mayor Do Nothing’s ribbon cutting shears. How many citizens have to suffer the dreaded “pot hole plague” before help arrives?

    • joetaxpayer
      January 22, 2014 at 8:01 am #

      Payroll Patriot, Not one pot hole will be filled until a study is conducted by a out of state firm.

    • Toland
      January 22, 2014 at 8:43 am #

      Payroll you ought to be on DV’s payroll. You hit it right on the head. Pothole got my car yesterday on Elizabeth St. Thank you mayor Do Nothing.

      • Payroll Patroit
        January 22, 2014 at 11:46 am #

        DV couldn’t afford me, as I am priceless, not worthless.

        The pot holes here, not the Denver type, are BAD!!

    • dusty
      January 22, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

      Maybe someone stole the big red pothole machine. Did they keep it down at the city yard?

      • danvalenti
        January 22, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

        On TV, we asked J-Lo and Marchetti about the Big Red Magic Pothole Machine. J-Lo told us there were three BRMPMs, not one, and they were all being employed. Funny thing is, the streets show little to no evidence of same. As to where they are stored, who knows? Perhaps they don’t even exist. Perhaps they are fig leafs of the fevered imagination. We do know that for the cavernous potholes, the machines, if they do exist, aren’t worth the magic whatsoever. That magic was the price tag of $250K per.

  18. Still wondering
    January 22, 2014 at 6:54 am #

    Potholes on Pecks Road got my wifes car. New tires sure are expensive.