PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEEKEND EDITION, FRIDAY, FEB. 28, 2014) — For eons, England’s Stonehenge has fascinated people with its mystery. What do the large stones mean? Beginning today, Pittsfield’s Stonehenge will emerge as its own mystery — not one as enduring at the English riddle, granted, but one that will have greater impact on residents of — PICK ONE — a. the city, b. Ward 4, c. Stonehenge Road, or d. all of the above.

We could be wrong, but on our quiz sheet, THE PLANET chooses (d.).

The mystery centers on a house located at 71 Stonehenge Road. In a moment, THE PLANET shall present a rather startling fact about the history of ownership at that particular property. But first …

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It’s the name of a rap hip-hop group, but in this case, it’s more than appropriate.

One big question: If a group home can come in unannounced to a neighborhood like Stonehenge Road, is there any place one cannot be located? We think the answer is a resounding “no,” and it appears that state law says as much. And let’s be clear. For THE PLANET, this has nothing to do with discriminating against residents of group homes, an objection sure to be raised against people who oppose this usage for a strictly residential area. Such homes clearly are necessary. They perform a social good, and if they can be run profitably, more power to those who benefit from it.

It has everything to do, however, with protecting city revenues and taxpayer value. First, converting a single-family home to a group home takes the property off of the tax roles. The house sold for $350,000. What’s the valuation? Taxes are certainly in the thousands of dollars. Second, such a home depresses real-estate values in the neighborhood, removing more dollars from city coffers. The sum total of lost tax revenue is something the city, with a shrinking tax base and a rising cost of government, cannot afford. Third, such a home is likely suppress the net worth of people living in proximity. Fourth, it makes the area less attractive.

Guess who makes up the difference in this lost revenue?

Gotta mirror?

The paper trail suggests that the transactions taking 71 Stonehenge from a one-family residential home to a group home was done under cover of cloak in the dead of night, all of it apparently legal. We speak figuratively, so let us spell it out. The evidence suggests the backers wanted this done nice and quiet like, so as to avoid the fuss one could assume would ensue if the residents of this premier street were to learn that a group home was heading their way.

THE PLANET has heard through our sources that, following Terry Kinnas‘ brief presentation to the city council on Tuesday,  eight alarmed families who live on Stonehenge have banded together, presumably with the intent on fighting the project. Incidentally, including 71 Stonehenge, there are 16 homes on the dead-end street, which ends in a cul-de-sac. We’re not sure, but we think the horse has already left the barn. As we said, the deal appears legal.

What the Record Shows

On Jan. 15, records at the registry of deeds show that Geoffrey Lambert and Frances Eagle sold the property tat 71 Stonehenge to CIL Realty of Massachusetts Inc. for a price of $350,000. CIL Realty of Massachusetts is a subsidiary of CIL, Corporation for Independent Living, based on Hartford, Conn. Lambert and Eagle purchased the property on April 29, 2011 from none other than Angelo C. and Rosanne Stracuzzi.

A look on lists Geoffrey Lambert living at that address. Under “People Geoffrey may know,” we find three names: “Angelo C. Stracuzzi, Roseanne Stracuzzi, and Tina M. Stracuzzi.” This would imply some kind of relationship outside of a real estate deal that brings two otherwise strangers together.

Do we have your attention now?

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What makes this transaction stand out further are these considerations:

* Though it purchased the home for $350,000, CIL (Corporation for Independent Living) took out a mortgage from TD Bank North for $664,902. Correct us if we’re wrong, but doesn’t banking regulation prohibit a buyer from obtaining more in a mortgage than the selling price? Is it different for group homes? In this case, the mortgage is for $314,902 more than the selling price. Try pulling that at your friendly neighborhood bank and see how far you get.

* On the same date as the sale, Jan. 15, 2014, CIL Realty of Massachusetts entered into an agreement in the form of a lease with Berkshire Family and Individual Resources, 771 South Church St., North Adams. Under the contract and as of that date, BFIR is leasing the property from CIL. In the attending documents, 71 Stonehenge is listed sitting on a lot with 212 feet of frontage and a depth of 206.55 feet.

* The timeline here gets more interesting. On Nov. 25, 2013, another transaction took place. Lambert and Eagle, sellers of 71 Stonehenge to CIL, signed a “Quitclaim Deed” for the land and dwelling at the address. Quitclaim transfers a property without a title covenant. As a consequence, a quitclaim deed offers “no warranty as to the status of the property title … the grantor does not guarantee that he or she actually owns any interest in the property at the time of the transfer, or if he or she does own an interest, that the title is free and clear. It is therefore possible for the grantee (CIL) to receive no actual interest, and — because a quitclaim deed offers no warranty — have no legal recourse to recover any losses” (sources, LexisNexis, s.v. “Property: The Deed;” Barron’s Law Dictionary, pp. 381-382, 2nd ed., 1984; and Wikipedia).

Quitclaim deeds are most often used among family members or among people who have an existing relationship for the purpose of transfering property in “special or unique circumstances.” According to Sean Wilken, JD, and Theresa Villers in The Law of Waiver, Variation, and Estoppel, (2nd ed., Oxford University Press USA, 2003), quitclaim deeds are not usually employed in a traditional property sale: “In most cases, the grantor and grantee have an existing relationship, or the grantor and grantee are the same person.”

At the least, then, the use of a quitclaim deed — as opposed to a traditional warranty deed — sends up a red flag for being out of the ordinary.

* It appears from a document titled “ASSIGNMENT OF LEASES AND RENTS” that CIL has “FOR VALUE RECEIVED” (yes, the document has those three words in all caps) transferred “absolutely and unconditionally … all revenues, leases, and tenancies of all or any portion of the premises situation at 71 Stonehenge Road.” Was this done to secure the mortgage, which was $314,092 above the selling price? The document is dated Jan. 15, 2014. The “value received” is not specified in the document.

* CIL Realty of Massachusetts is a non-profit company whose parent is located in Hartford, Connecticut. According to the CIL website, it provides the following services: group homes, factory conversion products, construction services, affordable home ownership. non-residential development, property management, and access solutions. In the company’s papers of incorporation in Massachusetts, CIL Realty Inc. describes itself as “a non-stock, non-profit corporation.” It says its purpose is “[t]o provide qualified supported residential services, programs and environments to persons with physical or mental disabilities of low or moderate income throughout the state of Massachusetts by acquiring, owing, operating, and leasing real estate to non-profit organizations and to state agencies.” THE PLANET gets a chuckle out of the continued use of that “ca-chinga!” phrase, “non-profit.” Right. No one’s making a dime in all this.

* Under “Group Homes,” we find on CIL’s website the following language:

CIL develops licensed community residences for persons with developmental disabilities and others in need of supportive residential settings. The homes allow persons with disabilities to live in community-based, non-institutional environments with an appropriate level of staff assistance.

Properties are acquired, homes are built or renovated to agency specifications, and then leased to nonprofit, residential service providers under long-term, capital lease arrangements. CIL secures 100 percent financing to cover all acquisition, construction, and soft costs. Lessee agencies are not required to contribute any equity towards the development. Upon the end of the lease term, CIL donates the property at no cost to the lessee agency.

CIL’s staff has extensive experience in all aspects of such specialized development: site acquisition, land use, building and fire code issues, zoning, architectural design, accessibility features, licensing requirements, and property management.

At CIL, we work very closely with lessee providers on all site selection and design issues in an effort to customize each home to the needs of its residents.

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We wonder: Who at city hall knew about these transactions? Unless we are mistaken, the building permits should have indicated a change of use from single-family to group residential. Was such a change indicated? Why didn’t the city share the information with the public or at least the residents of Stonehenge? It seems that neither the residents of Stonehenge nor their councilor, Ward 4’s Chris Connell, knew about this. Should Connell have known? We don’t see how, given the manner in which the transactions were done. What should he be doing now? That’s a question he will have to work out with his constituents.

We also marvel at the amazing coincidence that of all the properties in the entire city, the chosen acreage should be one previously owned by Angelo Stracuzzi! Will miracles never cease?

ANGELO STRACUZZI: “Tell ’em Angelo sent you.”

Finally, there’s this document, which add to the mystery and unusual nature of the transaction. On Sept. 19, 2012, Maria Green, secretary of CIL Realty of Massachusetts, certified that the company would “borrow the sum of $664,902 from the Lender [TD Bank, N.A.] for the acquisition and development of property known as 71 Stonehenge Road, Pittsfield, Massachusetts …”

That’s just about 16 months prior to the sale of the property in mid-January of this year. It would appear, then, that this deal was in the works for some time. It’s also less than a year and a half after Angelo Stracuzzi and wife sold the property to Lambert and Eagle. That sale occurred on April 29, 2011.

Where this all leads and ends up, no one can say for certain, but if we were a betting outfit, we would give  the most generous odds that the residents of Stonehenge Street will end up with new neighbors — the NIMBY kind.

Our advice for anyone who has a beef about this transaction is to “Tell ’em Angelo sent you.”


“A feeling of sadness and longing, / That is not akin to pain, / And resembles sorrow only / As the mist resembles the rain.”Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Pittsfield’s own), from “Hymn to the Night.”





  1. amandaWell
    February 28, 2014 at 4:23 am #

    Planet, you can’t make it up!

  2. Pat
    February 28, 2014 at 6:02 am #

    Dan, did you also see the article in the paper today about the Pittsfield Schools needing lots more money for their budget? Please read it as it is not pretty. There is an editorial about it as well. The articles say there are so many more poor people in Pittsfield which is why the schools need more money. Raising taxes on poor people to balance the budget for the schools seems completely insane to me. Even if the poor people are renters, if the landlords get a tax increase that will be passed along to his tenant by increasing their rent. In addition, the population of the area is constantly shrinking, but the budget for the Pittsfield Public schools is constantly rising? Where is the logic in that?

    • joetaxpayer
      February 28, 2014 at 6:21 am #

      Pat, unfortunately they must feed the machine. They will not even consider any cost saving measures. Why should they, we are a open check book. We having a shrinking population but still have 9 elementary schools(8) public. We could easily close one of are smaller elementary schools. The buses should be looked into, so many parents drive there kids to school, seems to be a lot of empty buses driving around. There only solution to a problem is to throw money at it.

    • Wilson
      February 28, 2014 at 7:58 am #

      More administrators and iPads when the city should be bracing for the impact of that ruinous school project

      • teecha teecha
        February 28, 2014 at 8:28 am #

        you can’t have an up to date school, without keeping up with the technology. I’m sick of people poo pooing Ipads. They CAN BE a formidable tool used to combat gaps and create strong learning environments. I use them myself and my classrooms MCAS scores increased 20% more than my colleagues without them. Embrace the technology… just use it properly

    • teecha teecha
      February 28, 2014 at 8:42 am #

      the costs are rising because of:

      1. common core mandates
      2. increased population of special needs kids (legitimate or not)
      3. more oversight, services, and technology necessary to keep the curriculum up to date with all the regulations and at the same time, keeping them up to date with the world.

      It’s not 100% a farce, but I’m sure they can cut some of it. I think the special ed positions are bullsh*t. All teachers have paperwork, you don’t need two more administrators doing it and clogging up the communication lines while being detached from the actual student population.

      • joetaxpayer
        February 28, 2014 at 8:54 am #

        Teech I respectively disagree about the i-pads. and lap tops. Both my children got them through Pittsfield public schools, and the told me they were used more for fun than anything.

        • joetaxpayer
          February 28, 2014 at 11:39 am #

          Teach I do agree with you it is not all a farce and used properly the technology can have benefits for the students. But the school budget must start being a true budget. Money should be cut from other areas to pay for the increases the Supt. wants to implement. Also the next time the teachers contract comes up someone has to grow a pair and come up with some comprises.

      • MrG1188
        February 28, 2014 at 9:12 am #

        Teech…costs are also rising because of constant pay increases to current employees, and constant expansion of the number of employees despite a shrinking population, as well as still rampant insurance costs. All of these are personnell issues that could be addressed by cutting payroll, by cutting total number of schools. A very telling set of numbers to look at would be average teacher salary, top 5% teacher salary average, average administrator salary and class size by school. Those right there would tell us a LOT

      • Mad Trapper
        February 28, 2014 at 12:37 pm #


      • joetaxpayer
        February 28, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

        Teach why not look at getting out of Mercer and Hibbard.I believe every option should be looked into.If he wants a increase he should find it.

        • Teecha teecha
          March 1, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

          I appreciate the respectful replies. I think you made great points and changed my perspective a bit. Its sad the iPads are used for fun. That falls on the shoulder of the teachers…shameful. And the yearly pay raises is bull. The stats don’t show enough improvement to justify at all.

          • skier1
            March 2, 2014 at 9:48 pm #

            Maybe the teachers pay can be based on students grades????

  3. dusty
    February 28, 2014 at 6:06 am #

    They can raise my taxes for a couple of years if they let Barry audit the books completely.

    Oh, and what was that recall procedure again?

  4. Spider
    February 28, 2014 at 7:23 am #

    McCandless is quoted as follows: “Principals, directors and coordinators have, in addition, requested more than $2 million in new employee positions”.

    Our city’s population has decreased as well as the number of students, yet we need “new employees”? Give me a break!

    Did any one see the Dalton Selectman’s meeting the other night? They refused to pay their contribution to their school district because they “can’t afford” it!

    It will be interesting to watch our city council in action when this budget comes before them. Don’t count on Amuso to be concerned about the taxpayers. She brings her own agenda with her. And depending on how our mayor feels about it, his followers with go right along with him.

    Why do I get the feeling that we taxpayers are doomed.

  5. Rafael
    February 28, 2014 at 8:02 am #

    I guess there must be some huge hole in the zoning laws that allow a group home in a residential zoning area. Seems to me that a group home with all these employees and staff working there is NOT a residential propery. It’s a commercial one.

    • Deb S
      February 28, 2014 at 8:23 am #

      I live in a residential area on a cul sac and I had one right next to me and it was awful. They parked on my front lawn the staff was rude when I asked them to stop.

      • Rafael
        February 28, 2014 at 9:11 am #

        And zoning laws prohibit law abiding citizens such as yourself from parking over a certain number of vehicles on your own property. Yet, these group homes are allowed to park any number of vehicles they want, so many that they pour over onto other folks property. This is not just right.
        Try opening a bed and breakfast in a residentially zoned neighborhood and see how fast that is stopped. But, sure, let’s let a commercial endeavor such as a group home do anything they want to. As long as the right people get money out of it.

        • Deb S
          February 28, 2014 at 11:58 am #

          I agree, the group that was next to me was there for 4 years. I called my city councilor to complain and was told that it was a neighbor issue and I told them that if I knew where my neighbor was I would be talking to them but since I didn’t, and this in fact was a business because the people that were working there didn’t live there just the 2 residents. So my councilor got it and called the company to tell them they were put on notice.

  6. MrG1188
    February 28, 2014 at 9:06 am #

    I’m a bit confused here. First, is it Tax Rolls or Tax Roles? i thought the former but can certainly be wrong. More important, What are you implying here? It certainly appears as though the transaction was conducted to deceive the neighborhood, and that it was a long time in the planning. Are you stating, or implying, that Mr. Stracuzzi was in some way involved in this or benefited in some way from this transaction? Are you also stating/implying that there is something fishy with the financing? I mean, they did seem to pull an extra $300 grand out of the bank, but could that not have been used for renovation on top of purchase price or should that have been financed separately? Or are you saying someone pocketed an extra $300 grand somewhere? Good investigating, just need some clarity on the reporting side.

    • Tom Sakshaug
      February 28, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

      Tax ROLLS is proper, meaning a list. Same kind of thing as Roll Call. Tax “roles”, though often used, implies the characters played by “Tax” in plays or movies.
      I must agree that any link to Mr. Stracuzzi, no matter what anyone thinks of him, seems pretty remote.
      Finally, there was until recently a group home around the corner from my house, operated by BCARC. No problems at all with the residents, but one staffer constantly sped up my street after her shift in a little car with a yellow racing stripe. One day I was digging out front and heard her coming. I stepped into the middle of the road with my shovel and was able to tell her that she was going to hit a kid or a pet sometime. That seemed to do the trick.

      • Mad Trapper
        February 28, 2014 at 10:27 pm #

        It could be used as a pun. Rolls being the list of taxpayers, and role being whom manipulates the taxes themselves (e.g. GOBs : ) )

        • dusty
          March 1, 2014 at 1:47 am #

          Or it could be rolled as in the taxpayers getting mugged.

  7. Scott
    February 28, 2014 at 9:11 am #

    I think the residents of Stonehenge will see after the hysteria subsides that their area is still a quiet serene and peaceful place to live. But if Angelo is involved it’s almost certainly a conspiracy that will have life altering consequences right?

    A client of mine was going out one time around lunch and asked if I wanted anything so I gave her some cash and requested a samdwhich from the cozy little dinner owned and run by Gould farm she replied ” you know they’re all retarded down there right?” Ha old people!

    • joetaxpayer
      February 28, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

      Funny thing is someone making cakes out of there house and selling them commercially got there eggs busted and a farmer who wants to have some chicken’s and or rooster’s in there back yard are told no. I’m sure this NON PROFIT knows all of the in’s and outs and gets special treatment since they get government assistant.

      • Scott
        February 28, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

        I know I’d love chickens but don’t we have to get a permit and put an ad in the paper? Kind of defeats the purpose of trying to save money. Plus how organic is anything when they are spraying bug chemicals all over. I have a huge garlic patch in the front and an assortment of berries as well as a large plot for veggies in the back.

        • joetaxpayer
          February 28, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

          Scott I hope you don’t get busted!

          • Scott
            March 1, 2014 at 4:48 am #

            I know the Feds might raid me and dump bleach all over my organic veggies.

  8. Mark Tully
    February 28, 2014 at 9:38 am #

    I apologize in advance for being off topic…

    A comment made by Sparkie the other day was brought to my attention. It is perfectly fine for people to comment on the actions of the city councilors. While not polite, nor ethical, it is perfectly legal to make derogatory statements about public figures. What concerns me, from a safety perspective, is when our private information is publicized by someone without our permission while using a pseudonym. It was not public information that my wife and I were in Florida for in January to visit her son in his new house.


    Would you like to explain who you are and how you came to learn about our private information? Or would you prefer to remain a coward behind your pseudonym?

    • Spider
      February 28, 2014 at 10:02 am #

      Mark: I don’t know you and I don’t know Sparkie, but I do think you are overreacting. Mentioning that your wife was in Florida is hardly a life threatening thing (however Sparkie found out).

      Your wife is now an elected official and subject to comments she may not appreciate. But it goes with the territory. If she and you are that sensitive then she shouldn’t have run for office.

      • Mark Tully
        February 28, 2014 at 10:17 am #


        Please re-read my post. I did not mention life threatening nor did I remark on the other content of Sparkie’s post. I specifically stated that “it is perfectly legal to make derogatory statements about public figures.”

        You are 100% wrong to state that it is not a safety concern for someone, unknown to me, who posts unpublished private information about my family, REGARDLESS, if the post is as innocuous as a Florida trip. This has nothing to do with being a public figure.

        • Spider
          February 28, 2014 at 10:29 am #

          Mark: “Safety concern” and “life threatening” are the same in my book.

          Again, it’s not easy being a public figure and your wife has just started her term. I’m sure this won’t be the only time she and you will be offended by something that is said. The best route to take is to simply ignore it and just do her job as a councilor.

        • Gene
          February 28, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

          Mark there’s no private info for any public figure. Thats the times we’re in. May not always be right, but Get used to it.

      • Scott
        February 28, 2014 at 10:25 am #

        It doesn’t make it any less creepy.

        • Mark Tully
          February 28, 2014 at 10:49 am #

          Thank you Scott for understanding what I wrote.

          • MrG1188
            February 28, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

            I agree Mark, there’s offensive, and then there is, for lack of a better term, unsafe. If someone posted in a public forum that I was away, implying that my home was empty and unguarded, I’d be pissed too. Sparkie went beyond creepy and crossed a line that does involve family safety. Perhaps the moderator should redact those sorts of things in the future.

          • levitan
            February 28, 2014 at 5:49 pm #


            Clearly, Sparkie is someone to keep at arms length. (Not that distinguishing for this community that got the attention of a skeptical judge some years back…)

            Invidious suggestions may even be grounds for legal action. Unless she is in Moscow, she is not beyond the jurisdiction of our courts.

            Pseudonyms are as old as the word itself and are used by those who would rather see their actual names spoofed in other forums – visible to the entire internet community.

          • levitan
            February 28, 2014 at 5:50 pm #


            …would rather NOT see their names spoofed…

    • Scott
      February 28, 2014 at 10:18 am #

      Mark, the last sentence is your answer. My advice don’t post online with your real name. I learned this the hard way. There’s nothing more ignorant than anonymous posters who call out people who use thier real name under a veil of anonymity. Especially when it’s private info. It ventures on the side of stalking.

    • Tim Bartini
      February 28, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

      Mr. Tully, Unfortunately you will find there are a lot of cowards who hide behind pseudonyms on this and other web sites. These “big shots ” love to say things that they don’t have the courage to back up by using their real names.

      • ed shepardson
        February 28, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

        This is precisely why, government, at all levels, is out of control. Elected officials and government employees cannot and will not be held accountable by ghosts. Nor should they be. Things won’t change until citizens have the courage to step forward. And yes, there might be consequences. But what are the consequences if we don’t? Considerably greater I would guess.

        • joetaxpayer
          February 28, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

          Well put Ed.God help us! Wait will the govt let me say that?

          • B. Clairmont
            February 28, 2014 at 3:53 pm #


            I understand your concern.

            What is worse is getting an actual threat from the spouse of a sitting city councilor. That had happened to three sitting and one ex councilor. More then once in some case.

            I’m very sorry for the loss. Please pass that on to Lisa for me.

          • ed shepardson
            February 28, 2014 at 6:39 pm #

            I’m sure the government will pay extra attention to someone named joetaxpayer.

      • Joe Pinhead
        February 28, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

        YTim, I do not follow your logic regarding the use of ones name on a blog. I wonder if you have ever been the victim of either identity theft or cyber bullying? I’m going to guess not. To use your reasoning an idea or opinion is only valid if the author or originator uses his own name? If this is so is that idea invalid once that person passes? Tying thought and opinions to the poster does the poster a disservice whether you agree or disagree. It doesn’t make you a critical thinker per set but a fan or a detractor which is a valid position but I would rather read the comment with no perceived notion. Do you think the recent events in Egypt would have or could have happened if at the start people posted with real names and hidden identities?
        Your comment in a different post on this board about real men posting with their real name reminds me of the 80’s in the bay area how many people had their lives destroyed because real men don’t use condoms? A little protection is a wise thing.
        I invite you to read the following post on a different blog. I say your definition of a “big shot” others would say is a wise person

        Just sayin

        • Mike Ward
          February 28, 2014 at 8:47 pm #

          I can understand the need for privacy for some people but in most cases the blog avatar they create is not an accurate representation of how they would behave in public. It’s something less. The cloak of anonymity usually brings out the baser instincts in people even if they think they’re playing it straight.
          Having said that, I believe that Joe Pinhead is pretty much the exact same person you would talk to on the street.

          • Scott
            March 1, 2014 at 4:54 am #

            Good point Mike I try not to say anything I wouldn’t say publicly. It’s a good rule to post by in cyber space.

          • Joe Pinhead
            March 1, 2014 at 5:26 am #

            Mike, thanks for being reasonable and rational I post in here and other blogs routinely I think my posts prove I do not attack anyone because of the moniker they choose to use. Regardless I must say I’m much better looking in person lol.
            Mr Tully while I do agree with your position regarding the posting of private information on a blog you then fault those of us who post with a handle to protect our personal business conflicting positions would you agree?
            Regarding the post I’m asking I don’t know is it possible that the information was posted on Facebook, twitter, foursquare, instagram etc?
            A check of Facebook shows some 300 friends, you no longer have a post but a broadcast. Let’s say a picture of a new puppy is posted 300 people see it and 50 people comment with a awe he’s so cute those 50 people each have 25 friends who could now see that post and well I presume you can do the math. I’m saying to everyone please be careful what you post and how you post it to everyone.

        • Billy
          February 28, 2014 at 9:47 pm #


        • Billy
          February 28, 2014 at 9:48 pm #

          Exactly Joe

        • Tom Sakshaug
          March 1, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

          I will admit that I use my real name most of the time here but I also have a nom de keyboard that I use on occasion. I definitely know that I am not alone in this regard.

          • Joe Pinhead
            March 1, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

            Tom, you might recall in Mr. Sprague’s class we learned that Ben Franklin used not one but 2 different nom de “keyboards” if I can remember back all those years correctly it was silence Dogood and Richard Saunders I’m certain if they are not correct someone will correct me and either an apology or kudos to Mr. Sprague

  9. GMHeller
    February 28, 2014 at 9:38 am #

    Mr. Valenti,
    “Mental disabilities” is a catch-all phrase nowadays amongst those involved in the movement to de-institutionalize those persons who were formerly held in state-owned and state-operated facilities. Such persons include not only schizophrenics and those with bi-polar disorders, but also persons with histories of substance abuse problems (heroin, crack and meth addictions), sex offenders, as well as persons with a history of “interaction with the criminal justice system” (not my words, but official jargon).
    These, who were formerly living in state institutions, are now being moved-out from those state facilities into otherwise quiet family neighborhoods. It is believed by those pushing the de-institutionalization agenda that this will ultimately be good for the patients.
    Meanwhile to put it another way: Think of intentionally injecting a potentially deadly virus into a healthy living organism.
    Drug addicts, sex-offenders, and schizophrenics do not necessarily attract the most desirable types of people to a neighborhood and so this is what can start an otherwise healthy American neighborhood into decline.
    This is also what accounts for the almost immediate negative effect on property values. Would you want to move your wife and kids into close proximity with a Group Home populated by ‘ex’-drug addicts, ‘ex’-sex offenders, and schizophrenics who the courts say must not be restricted from being able to freely roam the neighborhood on a 24/7 basis?
    So what happens if a person suffering from schizophrenia or bi-polar syndrome misses his/her meds that day?
    If you want to know what can happen when a resident of a group home loses control, here’s a recent headline from the Lowell Sun:
    “Chelmsford group-home resident indicted on assault charges”
    CHELMSFORD — A resident of a local group home who allegedly attacked his pregnant neighbor and her husband last year on Mother’s Day was indicted yesterday by a Middlesex County grand jury on several breaking-and-entering and assault and battery charges.

    This is what is going on nationwide in the movement to de-institutionalize persons who were formerly kept under tightly controlled environments in state institutions but who are now being allowed to circulate freely back amongst the general populace.

    • GMHeller
      February 28, 2014 at 9:41 am #

      Here’s a link to that Lowell Sun article:

    • GMHeller
      February 28, 2014 at 9:57 am #

      And here’s a link to an article from The New York Times, entitled “At State-Run Homes, Abuse and Impunity”:

      • Scott
        February 28, 2014 at 10:23 am #

        GM come on man seriously.

        • GMHeller
          February 28, 2014 at 11:11 am #

          You doubt The New York Times and Lowell Sun?

          • Scott
            February 28, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

            No I just know mass hysteria when I see it. The world is a violent place. Your chances of being attacked by a handicapped person aren’t any higher than being attacked by anyone else even with a group home right next door. There’s a group home in my area has been for a few years no one has been attacked yet. People should take steps to secure thier own safety. People are oblivious they need to detach from thier iPhones and look around once in a while.

          • levitan
            February 28, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

            Well stated, Scott- you’re rockin’ today.

  10. Jonathan Melle
    February 28, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    I cannot comprehend Pittsfield politics. Pittsfield public schools is requesting a $2 million increase in its budget to level fund its current services while also complying with state mandates. Over the past decade, tens of millions of dollars were spent on revitalizing downtown Pittsfield. Why? Now Pittsfield is going to raise its property taxes by at least $2 million next fiscal year. This is after many years of tax hikes. Who is going to finance Pittsfield’s high finances over the next decades of Pittsfield politics?

  11. Billy
    February 28, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    Give me a break. Mark. We gonna see you on here every time she screws up or scrapes her knee. She not Hillary Clinton. Put it in context she wasn’t around for a vote on a million bucks.

  12. billy
    February 28, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    yeah mark nurses don’t talk to each other.get real.Do you cut the crust off her sandwiches before she goes to work. oh brother man your making me laugh

    • Tim Bartini
      February 28, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

      Billy. Why don’t you man up and use your real name? Maybe people would take your answers more seriously .

      • Mark Tully
        February 28, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

        My thoughts exactly,
        Thanks Tim

      • Billy
        February 28, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

        I don’t care if you do,I have a right to an opinion just as much as you do.

        • Tim Bartini
          February 28, 2014 at 6:14 pm #

          Billy. Your opinion means crap if you don’t back it up with your real name.

        • levitan
          February 28, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

          I don’t care if you do,I have a right to an opinion just as much as you do


          If opinions were were bucks you’d be rich.

    • Mark Tully
      February 28, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

      “The billy doth protest too much, methinks”

      • Billy
        February 28, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

        Me thinks that’s funny good one Mark

        • ed shepardson
          February 28, 2014 at 6:44 pm #

          Billy, you’re no John Hancock. Your the creepy guy that waited until the revolutionary war was over to pick a side.

  13. Tom Sakshaug
    February 28, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

    Back to Stonehenge: The property is valued by the city at $373,100 according to the Pittsfield Online Property Viewer.

    • joetaxpayer
      February 28, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

      Yes, Tom $373,100 off our tax rolls. I know just a drop in the bucket

      • Tom Sakshaug
        February 28, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

        I think its more like a whole bucket.

  14. GMHeller
    February 28, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

    Mr. Valenti,

    It might seem obvious, but CIL and Berkshire Family and Individual Resources would not have proceeded without foreknowledge that they could tap state, county and/or municipal resources to pay the bills along with a supply of ‘guests’ recommended by the state to reside in the premises.
    Who in Pittsfield city government has jurisdiction over providing residential housing for schizophrenics, sex offenders, and drug addicts who are unable to obtain housing in the private sector?
    Also, which politicians stands to benefit from future campaign contributions from CIL and BFIR employees?
    Follow the money.

    • Tim Bartini
      February 28, 2014 at 4:29 pm #

      We need to stop the ” non profit” business’s loop hole. It’s nice that BMC buys the run down buildings around it, but that takes tax paying property off the tax base. I know BMC employes a lot of people and they are good paying jobs, but I would like to know what and if BMC gives the city something to the city in lieu of taxes. Every property we let go to ” non profit” just adds to every tax paying owner tax bill . I don’t think that’s right.

      • joetaxpayer
        February 28, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

        Tim I couldn’t agree with you more, how much can a community take. I know Pittsfield is the hub of the Berkshires, but how many non-profits can this City take on. I would like to see a memorandum on all nonprofits in the city.

        • joetaxpayer
          February 28, 2014 at 5:30 pm #

          Why not make it like liquor licenses, only a certain amount in a community.

          • joetaxpayer
            February 28, 2014 at 6:02 pm #

            One in One thankfully out!

      • skier1
        February 28, 2014 at 6:37 pm #

        You are very correct Tim. How often is the fire department called to BMC or any other non profit? I would love to see those figures. Maybe the next time you need a new truck they could buy if for you.

        • Tim Bartini
          February 28, 2014 at 9:10 pm #

          That would be a nice start . We train their staff for major incidents, , yet we ride trucks that are over 20 years old every single day

  15. GMHeller
    February 28, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

    Mr Valenti,

    Two years back we had County officials here in Northern Virginia trying to ram through a similar Group Home on our street 300 feet away.
    ‘Guests’ were to have the same peccadilloes as those now set to inhabit the Stonehenge residence — drug addicts, sex offenders, schizophrenics, persons with bi-polar disorder, etc..

    (By the way, don’t believe any official assurances given by city and state politicos that only poverty-stricken little old ladies and the like will be assigned to the Stonehenge Group Home. Fact is once any Group Home gets its licenses and permits, then BFIR, the city, and the state can put ANYBODY they want into the residence and there is NOTHING at that point that anyone in the local community can do about it.
    Federal and state laws prohibit ‘discrimination’ against ‘ex’-sex offenders, ‘ex’-drug addicts, schizophrenics, etc..
    Plus, because of federal privacy laws you cannot even know who is residing in a Group Home nor if they’ve ever been convicted or accused of criminal acts.

    Through early community action we stopped the Virginia Group Home when it was just in the planning stages.
    Stonehenge residents can stop the proposed Group Home now if they act quickly and raise holy Hell.
    The main politico behind the Group Home effort in Northern VA is now running for Congress — what a shock!
    Had the Group Home project gone through on our street, how much do you think the builder, and the ‘not–for-profit’ psychiatric service vendor, and the laundry, food, security and service vendors would all have been called upon to contribute to the politico’s campaign coffers?
    In re the Stonehenge project, find out which politicos have the most to gain either now or in the future if this project is allowed to go through.
    Group Homes generate big bucks for all the insiders, all paid for by Pittsfield and state taxpayers.
    We found that in the VA attempt to force a Group Home into our local neighborhood that what lay behind the actions of the politicos and officials involved was about 5% altruism with the balance of 95% the pursuit of the big bucks.

  16. Mark Tully
    February 28, 2014 at 4:38 pm #

    Thank you Councilor Clairmont for your condolences, I let Lisa know.

    • joetaxpayer
      February 28, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

      Mark. Thank you for letting us know your thoughts and opinions. I respect that.

    • B. Clairmont
      February 28, 2014 at 6:48 pm #

      Mark, please call me Barry. I’m not a formal guy. I consider myself no different than other an who puts their pants on one let at a time.

      • Dave
        February 28, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

        That’s funny Councilor Clairmont…I mean Barry,

  17. GeoSims
    March 1, 2014 at 4:08 am #

    Anyone know how many group homes there are in Pittsield? I’m also in Ward 4 and have a group home for substance abuse and major psychiatrist disorder in my backyard. Literally.

  18. DowagerHat
    March 1, 2014 at 4:44 am #

    45 Stonehenge 46

    • GeoSims
      March 1, 2014 at 6:05 am #


  19. Scott
    March 1, 2014 at 5:02 am #

    At any rate the gov’t is not allowed to track our cellphones and online activity any longer. So freedom of speech and the right to privacy remains although it appears some people think it should not or at least think people should have the courage not to use it… That’s actually really interesting.

    So now if I leave for vacation and maybe one of my kids stays home alone. That’s the thing people need to think about before they spout off with thier mouth. My famy is really my only concern when it comes to anonymity and internet privacy. There are a lot of creeps out there. The last thing I wanna do is kill someone for coming to my house to do me or my family harm.

    • Joe Pinhead
      March 1, 2014 at 5:32 am #

      Scott, no disrespect but that’s the 2nd to last thing you want to do. After reading many of your posts I’m betting the last thing you want to do is attend the funeral of a loved one because you either didn’t have the know how or legal ability to protect a loved one from some creep trying to do them harm

      Just sayin

    • Rafael
      March 1, 2014 at 6:10 am #

      Scott, several gun owners have told me that, by MA law, one is actually required to flee their own home when someone breaks into it, and using their gun to defend their home can actually lead to them being charged with a crime. Seems that even owning a gun does not protect one’s own home. I am no expert on this law, but it seems really odd that we cannot protect our own homes anymore.

      • dusty
        March 1, 2014 at 6:37 am #

        Well ya just gotta do a better job of hiding the body than Mr Hall did.

        In Breaking Bad they used a tub of acid but that is probably more work than the average homeowner wants to put himself through.

        Just trying to be helpful

        • Scott
          March 1, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

          I’m watching that show on DVD now. There are people in this world that will and do partake in murder and kidnapping like that mostly Mexican drug cartels. I like non lethal scenarios but every cop I have ever talked to and every pistol instructor has said you’re better off having one side to the story when the boys in blue show up.

        • Scott
          March 1, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

          I’m watching that show on DVD now. There are people in this world that will and do partake in murder and kidnapping like that mostly Mexican drug cartels. I like non lethal scenarios but every cop I have ever talked to and every pistol instructor has said you’re better off having one side to the story when the boys in blue show up.

      • Scott
        March 1, 2014 at 12:07 pm #

        There are other ways to defend yourself and you are correct if you can leave by law you have to. Unless the only thing that stands between you and another person in the home like a child and you have no other choice. Joe I have been giving self defense a lot of thought for a long time. I have come to the conclusion that yes you are right I would kill to defend my children but I would rather avoid the situation that ends in the death of another person at all costs. In aikido the ideal scenario is an unprovoked attack being neutralized without injury to you or the attacker. The moment you make the choice to attack someone you have failed even if the attack is successful.

  20. CTrzcinka
    March 1, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    ” Though it purchased the home for $350,000, CIL (Corporation for Independent Living) took out a mortgage from TD Bank North for $664,902. Correct us if we’re wrong, but doesn’t banking regulation prohibit a buyer from obtaining more in a mortgage than the selling price? Is it different for group homes? ”

    Its not different but CIL must have pledged some other assets to get a loan this large. Banking regulators will look at this but all they can get is the loan to value ratio of the whole portfolio.

    This whole deal stinks. Placing a group home in a nice, residential neighborhood is offensive for all the reasons that GMHeller outlines above. If it was any closer to my relatives I would be raising unholy hell but they would beat me to it…

  21. GMHeller
    March 1, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    Mr. Valenti,

    RE: Corporation for Independent Living;
    Berkshire Family and Individual Resources

    According to, the not-for-profit Corporation for Independent Living, for fiscal year ended June 30, 2012, had gross revenues of $5.45 Million.
    $548K comes from government grants.
    CIL President & CEO Martin LeGault was paid over $226K.

    The not-for-profit Berkshire Family and Individual Resources, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013, had gross revenues of $7.56 Million.
    $6.87 Million comes from contracts with government.
    BFAIR’s executive director, Rich Weisenflue, was paid over $146K.

    • Terry Kinnas
      March 1, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

      Thank you, Mr. Heller, for how the nonprofits spend our tax money. Just a reminder, the NFL is a nonprofit also. Some simple questions about group homes in Pittsfield:

      1. Where do the patients come from?
      2. Why does Pittsfield have so many group homes?
      3. The potential value loss in homes in those neighborhoods
      of Stonehenge Rd., Brookside, and Ann Drive may be
      close to two million plus. Can this happen in any
      4. How was this particular property selected?
      5. How about equal protection under the law? Zoning laws

    • danvalenti
      March 2, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

      Thanks, GMH. That’s why “non-profit” and “not-for-profit” makes me laugh.

  22. Gene
    March 1, 2014 at 2:17 pm #

    Thanks to GMH for the salary info on the “non-profits” … wish I was “not profiting” that much.

    As Ctrzinka says the whole deal stinks.

    To Mark Tully come on your wife is now a public figure. Comes with the turf. You need to toughen up.

    Most of all to DV, the residents of Stonehenge should take up a fund and put a statue of you up there, you broke the story while the bb overslept ..again.

  23. Tom Sakshaug
    March 1, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

    100 comments! Now 101…is that a record?

    • danvalenti
      March 2, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

      We’ve had +100 a few times. Record is 200 something.

  24. nota
    March 1, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

    No, 102 is the record, that’d be me!

  25. Rafael
    March 1, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

    Re the group home thing. I think we know what’s going on with the 664,902 now don’t we? 350k for the house, then maybe another 100k for renovations to turn it into a group home. Then what ever is left over is pocketed by CIL. The bank does not care as the loan is paid for by the gov’t grants (aka welfare). So CIL screws the gov’t (really us taxpayers) out of 664k. What a nice racket. Wish I had thought of that.

  26. Kevin
    March 1, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

    Do the state reps know about this? The mayor? The ward councilor? What are they doing?? Anything? Mayor Bianchi this is your city, show some leadership.

    • dusty
      March 2, 2014 at 2:33 am #

      Actually, sometimes these are the very people who grease the wheels for such a project. Sometimes.

    • GeoSims
      March 2, 2014 at 3:40 am #

      There is nothing you can do to prevent this home. We tried when one came into our neighborhood. Same scenario. $350k, historic residential single family hood. Hood organized as this was the first of its kind, self regulated dual diagnosis in country. We were told by DMH that our hood was chosen as they felt the neighborhood would monitor, calling police for problems. They amused us with “informational” meetings but there was no way to stop it.

      • GMHeller
        March 2, 2014 at 5:29 am #

        Disagree. Interested members of the community were able to stop a group home from going in on my street in a neighborhood in Northern Virginia.
        If the local community raises holy Hell and exposes the local politicians and state and local government officials who appear to have the most to gain from putting in these group homes, it can be stopped.
        Publicize the names of top officials in the agencies who have control over putting people in these Group Homes.
        Determine whether the politicos and officials have Group Home in the neighborhoods where they live.
        You’ll likely find the answer is no.

  27. GMHeller
    March 2, 2014 at 5:36 am #

    If your local State Senator,State Rep, and Ward Councillor are in danger of losing their next election because of the Group Home proposed for Stonehenge, do you think that a Group Home will end up being placed in that location?
    Time to get politically active.

  28. GMHeller
    March 2, 2014 at 5:42 am #

    The people who definitely need to get animated and active are those on Stonehenge and on any surrounding streets the property values of which will be directly affected by a Group Home being placed in that location.

  29. GMHeller
    March 2, 2014 at 5:56 am #

    The politicos and state officials are banking that the neighborhood will back down and cave.

    • danvalenti
      March 2, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

      Agreed, GMH. That often a viable strategy in these parts.

      • GeoSims
        March 3, 2014 at 3:54 am #

        In our case, we did all that. We involved all politicians, etc., the newspaper followed the story etc but at the end of the day there was no way to stop it.

  30. Spider
    March 2, 2014 at 6:55 am #

    I believe that a moratorium should be made on group homes in Pittsfield. And if one should close, another should not be allowed to replace it.

    I was surprised to learn that many of these residents of group homes are not from Pittsfield, but from other areas. Looks like we are the dumping ground.

    I hope all elected officials (city and state) get on the band wagon and protect our city.

    And finally, keep this in mind……these are not homes, but businesses in residential neighborhoods.

  31. GMHeller
    March 2, 2014 at 7:33 am #

    FYI, It’s the elected city and state officials who facilitate and encourage placement of these Group Homes into family neighborhoods but it is these same officials who somehow never see their way clear to putting Group Homes into their own respective neighborhoods.
    Group Homes are turning out to be a massively expensive and failed solution to a problem brought about because the courts have ruled that the State has utterly mishandled the care of people held in state institutions.

    • Spider
      March 2, 2014 at 8:33 am #

      I couldn’t agree more, Heller. Your factual information was an eye opener. We have all been living in a bubble, feeling secure that these facilities only house handicapped people, not sex offenders, mentally dangerous, etc. as you have pointed out.

      Is there a viable solution?

      • GMHeller
        March 2, 2014 at 8:40 am #

        Yes definitely!
        Raise Hell.
        Contact your state senator, your state rep, your ward councilor and read them all the riot act — but do it politely.
        Hire a lawyer from outside Berkshire County.
        Tie up CIL and BFAIR and the City permitting agencies in the courts.
        Don’t back down.

      • GMHeller
        March 2, 2014 at 9:01 am #

        Could not a strong legal argument be made that this is a commercial enterprise in a residential area and violates local zoning ordinances?

        • GMHeller
          March 2, 2014 at 9:06 am #

          Stonehenge residents might want to check the history of CIL’s and BFAIR’s other Group Home projects to see how those have affected property values in each of the respective neighborhoods where those other Group Homes have been installed.
          Also, the number and nature of police calls to each of those respective Group Homes is information that is also likely in the public domain.

  32. dusty
    March 2, 2014 at 8:12 am #

    Not too long ago we tried to stop a methodone clinic and got our asses sued

    • GMHeller
      March 2, 2014 at 8:36 am #

      Take the long view. Is it better to lose $100-150K on the value of each home on the street or better to spend a few bucks now to hire a lawyer to defend one’s interests?
      Recommend NOT hiring any lawyer in Berkshire County as they are for the most part incompetent and unwilling to rattle chains.
      Hire counsel from the Boston or Springfield area.

    • joetaxpayer
      March 2, 2014 at 12:01 pm #

      At least they kept it out of a residential area. That law suit was worth every penny.

  33. Spider
    March 2, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    Thank you, Heller. I know our local elected officials follow DV regularly. Let’s see what words of wisdom they have on this very serious situation facing us.(if any).

    In my opinion the proliferation of these group homes will slowly destroy our city with possible crime and devalued property resulting in less taxes.

    • GMHeller
      March 2, 2014 at 9:46 am #


      All that happens then is that the City will raise the tax rate in order to raise whatever revenues are needed to pay the city’s bloated budget, underfunded pension plan, and unfunded liabilities.

      It’s very likely that BFAIR and CIL are RIGHT NOW seeking all the respective permits necessary to operate the Stonehenge Road Group Home.
      There may only be a limited time period in which those permits can be appealed by those with standing (abutters, etc.).
      The permitting agencies might be at the city or state level, but those who are aggrieved really need to check that stuff out ASAP before time runs out on contesting such permits.
      The time to preserve one’s rights is right now, especially since CIL’s and BFAIR’s real estate transactions only went through in the past month.

      • Payroll Patriot
        March 2, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

        The permits were none done properly. The city screwed up.

        • danvalenti
          March 2, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

          Do you have more? What permits were not done correctly? Was there missing information? Misstated information?

  34. Mr. X
    March 2, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    Barry…you’re a city wide councilor, any comments on the Stonehedge group home?

    • B. Clairmont
      March 2, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

      Mr. X,

      I’m doing my best to find out what this is all about. I first hear about it at the council meeting from Mr. Kinnas. I know the City solicitor has been asked to look into things, if that gives you any comfort.


  35. Thomas More
    March 2, 2014 at 11:13 am #

    Here’s something to chew on. There are either 9 0r 10 ex-mayors. ? whether Bob Capeless is still alive. One of them is applying for a very important job. To narrow it down, it’s not Doyle. (nor Barrett)

  36. ShirleyKnutz
    March 2, 2014 at 12:07 pm #

    I think someone should bring a petition to the city council to limit non tax paying entities allowed. I think 10 percent should be the number allowed. As to the group home try to figure out why the government will be funding a home for a couple of people. How can they afford that when they can’t afford other things.

    • danvalenti
      March 2, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

      Not only should the council go on record but the mayor as well.

  37. ShirleyKnutz
    March 2, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    According to Zillow the city will lose $6,000+ a year in taxes…how many potholes would that fill?

    • Payroll Patriot
      March 2, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

      Not correct. Check the math on one to two million. Also check the other non profits and how they benefit. Not the taxpayer!

      • danvalenti
        March 2, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

        Think of it this way. The lease that CIL entered into with the North Adams company is for 30 years. That’s $371,000 off the tax rolls, plus the devaluation of 15 other homes on the street times 30. That’s many multimillions of dollars, vanished into thick air.

        • GMHeller
          March 2, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

          Mr. Valenti,
          All that means is that the city’s tax rate will be raised commensurately on all the properties in the city upon which taxes are paid in order to generate the number of dollars necessary to meet the city’s fiscal needs.
          The taxpayers on Stonehenge Road may pay commensurately less than their neighbors because property values will have gone down, but the city will not ever lose money since the budget will always be met simply by increasing everyone’s tax rate across the board.

          • danvalenti
            March 2, 2014 at 9:09 pm #

            Of course. It’s obvious that with loss of tax revenues, a shrinking tax base, and government which continually keeps getting bigger and costs more, the taxpayers will continue to get hammered. Each succeeding blow is worse than the one before me.

  38. amandaWell
    March 2, 2014 at 8:10 pm #

    Valenti for Mayor, I’m serious!