PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, FEB. 5, 2014) — The “Perils of Pittsfield Coaches,” that cliffhanger serial now playing at the $92+ million Pittsfield School Department, continues with its next exciting chapter, “Coach Matt Slammed to the Mat.”

As you recall, we last saw that another coach, PHS baseball coach Bobby Moynihan, faced railroading for no apparent good cause. Fortunately, THE PLANET, and THE PLANET alone, broke the story with our coverage of WHY this was being done and WHAT happened at the closed-door meeting that resolved the situation with Moynihan getting his old job back. The Boring Broadsheet printed a thoroughly boring account of the dots but failed to connect them. We had to come to the rescue.

Keep in mind that this is the same paper that fired a sports reporter on his first day — for accurately quoting sources in a story on a local soccer match. Two school districts did not like what a girl soccer player said — she showing too much candor — and, looking to shoot the messenger, administrators complained to The BB POB. (Powers that Be).

Did the newspaper respectfully tell the superintendents that it would support its reporter? Of course not. It’s The Boring Broadsheet! The paper promptly canned the reporter. To the best of THE PLANET’s recollection, neithter executive editor Kevin Moran nor sports editor Matt Sprague spoke out in support of their assassinated scribe. Both stood by silently, “journalists” too afraid, too worried about their jobs, to speak out against an obvious wrong being done to a young reporter.

Now comes The BB‘s timorous handling of what appears to be a mishandling of the district coaching staff that recalls the Moynihan episode. Last Thursday, PSD athletic director Jim Abel placed wrestling coach Matt Chamberlain “on leave” for what the school superintendent termed a “personnel matter.” THE PLANET shall leave alone the tributary questions of why does the PPS need an “Athletic Director?” What, it’s Notre Dame football or Syracuse basketball? Think We The People could use to save Abel’s salary, which has to be pushing six figures.

“Personnel matter” — Those are the magic words, a phrase that finds its equivalent in a smoke bomb that a combatant might use to provide cover and obscure movement. When anyone from the schools utters the phrase, they’re speaking in code. They’re telling taxpayers: “It’s none of your stinking business.” The law, which can sometimes contain the most egregious injustices, provides legal cover for this overused tactic. Why let Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski in on what’s going on? Taxpayers only pay for the whole shooting match, but they can’t be trusted with the information they need to make informed decisions on the status of justice in the schools.

Sprague, in his story on Chamberlain’s ouster, remains content not to push the matter. He offers no explanation for the move of Chamberlain, meekly accepting Abel’s word, superintendent Jake “JIV” McCandless‘ blessing, and school committee member Dan Elias‘ rebuff. THE PLANET loves JIV’s kiss of death when he tells Sprague: “We really appreciate the work [Chamberlain’s] done.”

Yeah, right. You appreciated it so much you demote the guy, not say why, and subject him to the stress, embarrassment, and the wagging of local tongues. Jeesh, we hate to think what would happen to someone you did not appreaciate. At least you let the guy keep his teaching post.

When the schools make such a move, a reason must be given — not according to the law but in fairness to the accused, to the taxpaying public, and for the integrity of the school system and its administration. Such concerns, though, evidently never entered into Sprague’s timid “compliancy coverage,” a brand of bottom-feeding work we dub “Jell-O Journalism.”

There’s no sign that Sprague got out the shovel and started digging for the truth when it was obvious the school department spokesman were giving him run-around. Moreover, there’s no indication he had enough sources or contacts to find out the doings behind the pulled curtain. The Boring Broadsheet confirmed this in a toothless editorial that followed Sprague’s piece.

In the opinion piece, The BB said it thought the school did the right thing, even though it admits it hadn’t a clue as to the WHY, the piece of information Sprague couldn’t deliver. Perhaps both the paper and its sports editor knew THE PLANET was, just as on the Moynihan story, waiting in the wings to close it out. Oh, we wonder, just what would The BB do without THE PLANET serving as assignment editor and doing its work for them?

The BB, its sports editor, and the reading public will be pleased to know that THE PLANET did some digging, and, without breaking a sweat, got some valuable information on the Chamberlain situation:

Sources tell us that the purported infraction was either:

* One of the wrestlers was left behind for a brief time after a meet in Rhode Island, or

* A student who was not on the wrestling team was allowed to travel on the bus to a meet, along with the team, without having received proper permission.

The school department has given no official information and will not do so.

“Unfortunate as either event may have been,” one source tells us, “it cannot compare to the Tailgate-gate scandal at Taconic where students and their coaches were drinking at a UCONN football game, where all but two students consumed alcohol and where seniors and coaches were too intoxicated to drive home.  No photos by the BB,  just a phone interview with the head coach, who dismissed the incident. It was reported as a situation blown out of proportion. With Coach Chamberlain, they run his picture without telling us a thing about the alleged infraction.”

The source added, “I guess Matt Chamberlain will suffer the fate of not being a homegrown good ol’ boy and take the cowardly reporting squarely on the chin, regardless of the facts of the case having not been reported. [I’m] thoroughly disgusted.”

Our source joins a legion of Chamberlain supporters who have quietly seethed at the man’s treatment by the schools and The BB‘s complicity through what one called “its lazy coverage.”

For “Jell-O Journalism,” readers have been asked to pay for massive price hikes.

How’s that working out for the once-proud paper?


“I don’t want no ricochet romance. I don’t want no ricochet love. I don’t want no ricochet sweetheart, no ricochet turtle dove. I don’t want no ricochet romance, no no not me. So if you want to ricochet baby, please let me be.”Teresa Brewer, “Ricochet Romance,” (1954)






  1. dusty
    February 5, 2014 at 2:11 am #

    Speaking of buried school dept stories, How is the free house coming along? The one for some hot shots secretary. Are we not due for a follow up on this secret shenanigan? I wanna see pics of the progress.

    • Johnny 2 Shoes
      February 5, 2014 at 10:28 am #

      Talk about affordable housing.

    • Jim Gleason
      February 8, 2014 at 8:06 am #

      to call frank coty a hotshot is like calling Matthew Sprague a good reporter, a gross overstatement. coty is a dolt, and only got this job because he couldn’t handle the job of vice principal at PHS. promote incompetence in the PPS, that’s been the practice for the past ten years and that’s how howard eberwein lll got his job as superintendent.

  2. Thomas More
    February 5, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    You’re getting closer. Scrap the left behind story. I’m amazed that your wizards haven’t dug it out. It’s a pretty entertaining story but I don’t want to be the one to let it out just in case it never does get out. Some things are perhaps better left to die.

    • danvalenti
      February 5, 2014 at 3:53 pm #

      We are closer to digging it out. Check out update on THE PLANET tomorrow.

  3. joetaxpayer
    February 5, 2014 at 9:43 am #

    The truth should never be left for dead.

  4. Magic
    February 5, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    Didn’t I see an ad in the past few days
    in the BB that the school dept is looking for another project.

    • Mike Ward
      February 5, 2014 at 7:55 pm #

      Did they improve the ad copy or does it still ask for a “sponsor” — a word which everyone in the world understands to mean a guy who covers the cost for something, not a guy who gets a free house.

      • danvalenti
        February 5, 2014 at 8:18 pm #

        We can only hope and pray they worded the ad more carefully this time!

  5. Remington Steele
    February 5, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

    great work Planet. I hear its the ‘left behind’ incident. I agree with you, Coach C. was left and hung out to dry without an explanation. If the bb had any integrity it would have done what you did, found the info and revealed the problem was not a serious one at all

    Surely it was a whole whole lot less serious than the THS football drinking episode last I recall they tried to hide that one until the Planet exposed it. fortunately you forced THS to clean house and now there’s an excellent coaching staff there

    • danvalenti
      February 5, 2014 at 3:50 pm #

      Appreciate the shout out, RS.

    • Johnny 2 Shoes
      February 5, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

      You would think with the amount it now costs for the BB, a SMIDGEN of integrity would be included with it. Hey! If the Planet can offer it free, it is no wonder people are waving good bye in droves to the BB.

      • danvalenti
        February 5, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

        JOHNNY 2
        Yup, and that’s exactly what’s happening!

  6. dusty
    February 5, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    It seems to be a knee jerk reaction for higher ups in Pittsfield. To lie I mean. Sometimes the truth is not so bad but it seems such a habit that whenever someone questions something lies just come spilling out spontaneously. Are they hiding so much they are just paranoid?

    • danvalenti
      February 5, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

      They have lied so much, so deeply, and so often that they have convinced themselves that they’re dealing in “truth.”

  7. Foxy Lady
    February 5, 2014 at 6:07 pm #

    Thanks Dan another scoop for planet another embarrassment for bb.

  8. C. Trzcinka
    February 5, 2014 at 6:27 pm #

    Pittsfield School Committee Vice Chairman Daniel C. Elias told the bb that an investigation is underway, and when completed, the results will “be forwarded to the school committee.” So what exactly is the problem with suspension until an investigation is completed? This is clearly a legal matter and the Coach’s employment rights are at stake. There may be reasons why the Coach should not be allowed to coach but he certainly doesn’t want speculation coming from anyone on the school committee. I coached at SJHS in the last century so am a little sensitive about handling these issues….

    • danvalenti
      February 5, 2014 at 8:26 pm #

      No problem at all, as far as the school department is concerned. Lots of problem as far as The BB is concerned. Any paper that cares about its readers would not stop at the spoon-fed announcements of the Administration. A daily newspaper has to be aggressive on behalf of the taxpaying public, especially where a $93+million city department is concerned. The BB almost always sides with the people and the entities that its supposed to cover. The practitioners of responsible journalism must maintain independence from those they cover.

  9. Dave
    February 5, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

    A no-show for Councillor Tuttle at one of the first subcommittee meetings dealing with a million dollar incentive request? And no Jim I am not Christine.

    • danvalenti
      February 5, 2014 at 8:22 pm #

      You mean Councilor Tully. We have a request into her asking why she wasn’t there. THE PLANET shall be reporting on the meeting tomorrow and Friday.

      • Dave
        February 6, 2014 at 5:51 am #

        Was playing Dan, I know someone called her Councilor Tuttle at the first meeting. But as the saying goes, if you have to explain it….

  10. Tom Ryan
    February 5, 2014 at 7:04 pm #


    Transcript had the dismissal. NOT the Eagle. Matt..had nothing to do with it.

    • danvalenti
      February 5, 2014 at 8:21 pm #

      Thanks. Fact is, though, that (a) the BB braintrust knew of the impending Transcript merger and (b) any editorial manager, i.e., leader, would have stood up for the dumped-on reporter. This would include Matt Sprague and Kevin Moran. Why didn’t someone fight for the kid? The answer is fear. That’s not how the only local daily should act.

  11. Billy
    February 5, 2014 at 8:46 pm #

    I hope you respond to the mayors letter in the BB the only way to see more fantasy would be to go to Disneyworld. His mayoral candidate statement on PCTV as well as Mel. Maz pre election Editorial are in stark contrast to what the mayor says in the February 5. letter to the Editor. Just look up both and judge for yourself .

  12. Nial C. DeMena
    February 6, 2014 at 10:55 am #


    I am the Director of Operations for Manna Wellness, the highest scoring applicant in Berkshire County. As you know, we were not awarded a medical marijuana dispensary license. I wanted to leave a comment so that the people on here who do care about the Pittsfield can have an idea of what was lost:

    1.25M philanthropic spending in BC (Y1-Y3)
    2M in new construction for a LEED-certified building
    1M in taxes (Y1-Y3)

    The applicants asked to re-apply want to use BC as an outpost. They do not necessarily even want to be here. That means a minimum investment in the community, little investment in the patients, and money going to people out of state with no interest in Pittsfield. I think it will reflects the outcome of the PEDA bid for MBTA contracts. Either way, there are hundreds of patients out here that will now have to wait months before they get the benefit of medicine. Just thought the caring people who are devoted readers of the site would want to know what a loss it is for the economic redevelopment of Pittsfield and, more importantly, what a loss it is for all of our patients. The bottom line is that BC lost its agency to choose what it wants out of the medical marijuana program. Manna will be meeting with the DPH for our informal hearing about the scoring process on Tuesday, February 11 at 3pm. Thanks Dan.