Article

POWER HAS GONE TO OUR HEAD … PLANET GETS BENEATH WALMART INTRIGUE AS ONLY WE CAN … BM MOUTHPIECE LET’S GO A LAUGHER

BY DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI NEWS AND COMMENTARY

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THE WEEKEND EDITION NOV. 17-19, 2017) — Not to knock your socks off, but THE PLANET finished third in the Ward 1 race behind Helen Moon and Mike Cirullo. Our total of two votes topped by infinity the number of tallies scored by the fourth-place finisher. Given that were no fourth-place finishers makes our score even more amazing. We are drunk with power. Do you realize that if something were to happen to Moon and Cirullo — an act of God, perhaps, God forbid — THE PLANET would be obliged to take the seat on the dais. Our first official act in would be to cross ward lines and dispose of the Tyler Street trashcans, the ones made famous by your eponymous mayor.

Wal in for Walmart — There’s some high-level Texas fold ’em going on even as we write concerning the proposed Super Walmart on the PEDA property at Woodlawn Avenue. Let THE PLANET clarify in an obfuscating way. On Monday, lawyers for developer Waterstone presented architectural plans to city hall, which, sources say, were warmly received. On Tuesday, Walmart issued a statement said that “at the current time we no longer plan to relocate our store in Pittsfield.”

What gives? It’s hard to say, because everyone involved — the city, Waterstone, PEDA officials, and Walmart — have been pretty tight lipped save for the obligatory for-public-consumption statements. PLANET sources in Pittsfield, speaking strictly on the condition of anonymity, directed us to the phrase “at this time” from Walmart press release. This indicates, we were told, that Walmart’s pull back is a stall tactic while feverish parties try to iron out the wrinkles. One city hall source says the deal isn’t dead and insists “it will happen in time after we take care of a few hiccups.” Hiccups? They might try scaring Walmart by doubling its tax rate to $40 per thousand. Oh, wait. The city already punishes businesses large and small with that ruinous rate. Hiccups? Maybe they should put Walmart’s head in a paper bag and tell it to breathe deeply. Other PLANET sources claiming inside knowledge say that after the plans were filed, “the city got greedy.” How so, we asked. The reply: “Go ask Deanna Ruffer. She [messed] this up.” Ruffer mans the point for the city on this project. Another source, this one close to the mayor’s office, strongly disputes that account, telling THE PLANET the story is “fake news” from someone in a citywide office trying to “pass the buck” for “irresponsible” action.

One strain of thought kicking around these back-room discussions relates to the toxicity of the PEDA site, though no one among the interested parties will confirm that let alone go on the record. It seems the toxic condition of the land has raised its ugly head and has become literally unmentionable in public. As you know, Pittsfield got rooked on the Consent Agreement (CA). The city allowed GE to walk away in no harm, no foul fashion. The concrete foundations remained, as did the industrial poisons underneath. Did Walmart realize that even $12 million in remediation wouldn’t be enough to build a retail store there, one that would contain a full grocery? In other words, has the severity of the pollution exceeded previous reports? If so, kiss goodbye to ANY development of that portion of the PEDA property. A bit of honest disclosure  by those in the know would help clarify this point and, if off base, relieve the concerns of any potential developer or company, to say nothing of citizens.

The initial CA forbade food operations, retail or wholesale. Has the CA and the failure of city leaders — hunting for political “glory” — once again doomed Pittsfield? Waterstone and Walmart were tight lipped, the first having “no comment” and the latter standing by its initial statement, sent to the local press from the office of Phil Keene, the company’s director of corporate communications. Waterstone insists it will continue with its development efforts, but how can they ever convince a large company to relocate to the PEDA cite given the enormous upfront remedial costs? Bottom line, it looks like the pollution underneath those “Woodlawn” foundations is worse than anyone’s letting on. Until that is openly refuted by the city or someone in the know, the suspicions will not vanish.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave …

Between a Rockwell and a Hard Place — You have to laugh at Bill Lee cute remark. No, THE PLANET isn’t talking about the Spaceman of Red Sox lore. We mean the head of the Berkshire Museum’s legal team, William F. Lee. It makes you wonder if the BM is so hard-up for cash, how are they going to pay a seven-figure legal bill from the “team” after they find out they can’t sell off its art? Lee said the attorney general’s office’s “induced delay has already put the museum at risk.” What a howler. Maura Healey hasn’t put the BM at risk. The museum’s executive director and board did that by running up nearly $12 million in debt. PLANET prediction: The art work will not be sold because of the legalities. Even if the courts allow the auction to proceed, short of a Supreme Court ruling, any lower court permission will still scare off potential buyers. That’s the word on the street in art circles. The BM’s foolish and immoral action, not to mention the inept programming that caused the debt, has now forever tainted the provenance of the works in question. There’s only one proper way to dispose of the art after the museum folds, and that’s to return the Rockwell paintings to the family and donate the remaining works to other museums, responsible ones that consider their social and cultural role to be fiduciary in nature. That stands in contrast to the BM’s disastrous attempt at cultural and community rape.

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“If people had no legs, they couldn’t kneel in church” Sir Tiberius Fruitjuice.

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

The Usual Disclaimer.

54 Responses to “POWER HAS GONE TO OUR HEAD … PLANET GETS BENEATH WALMART INTRIGUE AS ONLY WE CAN … BM MOUTHPIECE LET’S GO A LAUGHER”

  1. SisterGoldenHair
    November 16, 2017 at 9:14 pm #

    Dan, how right you are on both topics, and astute in your observations. Your average 5th grader would tell you the Consent Agreement was nuts -a measly million a year for ten years and GE walks away and leaves the polluted grounds, and the stupid politicians agreed to this. How much would the city be getting in taxes forever if they didn’t fall for this and what will it take to reopen this CA. Didn’t Mel Maz say she would look into this? At this point might as well make it a cemetary.

    And how much of the museums’ mess is self inflicted with bloated staff and huge salaries? We need someone like a jilted trustee to get us the numbers. How much is Van Shield making and why is he really out on extended leave? How much are they paying the 3 communications people?

  2. Jonathan Melle
    November 16, 2017 at 10:29 pm #

    To summarize:
    * WalMart pulled out temporarily to gain leverage on Pittsfield for future negotions
    * PEDA is so polluted with GE’s industrial toxins that food cannot be sold there without tens of millions of dollars of remediation
    * Deanna Ruffer has not helped PEDA recruit any private tenants
    * The lovely Linda Tyer and Matt Kerwood are continuing excessively high business taxation in Pittsfield
    * The Consent Agreement screwed Pittsfield with toxic waste industrial pollution or PCBs that left PEDA undeveloped for the past 19-plus years
    * Pittsfield politicians shouldn’t have gone along with GE and the Consent Agreement needs to be re-opened
    * The Berkshire Museum has millions of dollars in debts and may soon face fiscal insolvency
    * The ongoing litigation in appeals court will cost the Berkshire Museum a lot of money in legal fees
    * The Berkshire Museum has mismanaged its financial accounts and is culturally immoral

  3. dusty
    November 17, 2017 at 1:17 am #

    Will there be a FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS at the museum this year? Or has Van Sheilds ruined Christmas for Pittsfield? Has anyone done a deep background check on this guys finances?

  4. The school committee
    November 17, 2017 at 4:16 am #

    If Walmart wont build at the PEDA site because of pollution then Why does Yon,McCandless, Elias,Taylor along with Kroll,Mazzeo,Tyer,Marchetti…allow kids to spend 40 hours a week breathing in the fumes of Allendale swamp school .Who sends their kids to a GE chemical dump for school….the PTO should refuse to spend 1 more day atop a chemical dumping ground….this is in Mr McCandless lap.The Superintendant should address this building on the record

  5. Pat
    November 17, 2017 at 5:16 am #

    Pittsfield can’t get a Super Walmart. Pittsfield now goes back to the drawing board to get more retail into this area at a time when the Berkshire Mall is losing stores and the struggling middle class can’t afford to travel to malls out of the area or pay the high shipping costs of shopping online. Locals can’t afford pricey small businesses in this area or do all their shopping at dollar stores. It may be years, if it ever happens, that more retail comes into this area. Local politicians will NOT fight for anything.

    The Berkshire Museum may close if it can’t be saved from its fiscal irresponsibility. The Pittsfield School Department has the same problem with huge salaries that are not sustainable. Now we have a new Taconic High School while people are leaving the area in droves.

    Who can blame people for leaving when this area just can’t get its act together for the good of ALL of the people living here.

    • Arial Black
      November 17, 2017 at 5:42 am #

      what are you lacking that can’t be bought online?

      • Still Not Matt
        November 17, 2017 at 5:55 am #

        High shipping fees online? Hardly anybody pays for online shipping.

        • Pat
          November 17, 2017 at 6:24 am #

          J.C. Penneys charges $9.00 for shipping if you order less than $100.00. Who can afford to order $100.00 every time you shop? Not me. Buying clothing online is also a pain since lots of clothing doesn’t always fit properly by size.

          Also, I don’t buy my clothing in a dollar store or from pricey stores on North Street. I like walking around in stores rather than sitting in front of a computer and pushing buttons to shop. No wonder people are out of shape and overweight.

          • Arial Black
            November 17, 2017 at 7:46 am #

            J.C. Penney is your problem. Move on!

          • Still Not Matt
            November 17, 2017 at 8:22 am #

            I have amazon prime. If I cant get it from there, i probably don’t need it.

          • 12 Gauge
            November 17, 2017 at 2:14 pm #

            Matt buys his geezer porn from Amazon.

          • Still Not Matt
            November 20, 2017 at 6:07 am #

            Maybe Matt does that, but I don’t. Tell me, do you and Matt talk about Amazon’s porn offerings? I wasn’t even aware they had that merchandise.

          • Dustin M
            November 20, 2017 at 9:09 am #

            Matt your comments are a sham, just like you

        • Dustin M
          November 17, 2017 at 9:19 am #

          Matt you are wrong as always. Everyone pays shipping online. Goodness you are foolish

          • Dustin M
            November 17, 2017 at 9:20 am #

            Matt you fool you pay shipping on amazon

  6. Paul
    November 17, 2017 at 5:25 am #

    Better yet Pat, the new Taconic will start to turn into junk starting on day one because the city won’t maintain it just like they didn’t maintain the old one.

  7. Still Wondering
    November 17, 2017 at 7:33 am #

    There are much larger issues arising from the sale of donated art by the BM. Legal hurdles on the sale of art vary widely across the country. Some states make it much harder (such as New York) while other states have very little in place to prevent what was attempted in Pittsfield and attempts to sell have been by and large prevented by “moral codes” and the like.
    In Massachusetts, the lack of legal restraint has brought about the mess that the State Attorney Generals Office is trying to sort out. The AGO has realized that they need to play catch-up to prevent other museums from trying what the BM attempted. The resolution of the BM case will be watched with interest and hope.
    But the even larger issue has nationwide implications. The Art Vultures cast a long shadow over the arts scene and community. They bribe and litigate their way towards obtaining great works of art for the world’s oligarchs. How can they be reigned in? We shall see if the people can prevail against the super rich. Our cultural heritage is at stake.

  8. Still Not Matt
    November 17, 2017 at 8:25 am #

    I don’t think the world oligarchs are collecting obscure Norman Rockwell paintings.

    • Still Wondering
      November 17, 2017 at 9:24 am #

      With fools like Matt out there it is no wonder the nefarious think they can get away with literally anything they dream up.

    • danvalenti
      November 17, 2017 at 1:48 pm #

      “Shuffleton’s Barbershop” is actually an iconic work, well known globally and rightly so.

      • Pea See Bee
        November 19, 2017 at 3:19 pm #

        What about Linda’s barber shop? A place where the taxpayer can always get clipped.

      • Still Not Matt
        November 20, 2017 at 6:47 am #

        The work is well appointed for a Rockwell. Keep in mind that Rockwell’ notoriety has a decidedly regional enhancement in the Berkshires. Rockwell was an illustrator steeped in a contrived nostalgia.

        I appreciate what his work means to so many people.He also had a large body of art that was lost in a studio fire that may have provided nuanced insight to his talent more so than the whimsical parlor art many people, like myself, see.

        In the end Rockwell struggled in a prison of white male privilege that he was most uncomfortable with. He portrayed a life that society wanted but the could not reconcile for himself. He illustrated tales through a lens of comfort for the white middle class.

        • Dustin M
          November 20, 2017 at 9:10 am #

          Matt that is complete and utter BS. Stop making stuff up about the great Norman Rockwell. Nobody wants to hear your liberal slant. Nobody

          • Shakes His Head
            November 20, 2017 at 10:06 pm #

            You pedophile loser little impotent boy.

    • 12 Gauge
      November 17, 2017 at 7:53 pm #

      Shakes, I’ll get you have the dogs playing poker and Elvis painted on velvet.

  9. dusty
    November 17, 2017 at 9:19 am #

    I think Matt Kerwood should step in and take the museum by eminent domain. Then he could apply his wizard like accounting skills and put it back on track. Then he could turn it back over to Van Sheilds with a balanced budget and the rightful owners of the art could keep it.

    Whadda ya say Matty? Whadda ya say?

    • Len X Abhorant
      November 17, 2017 at 9:26 am #

      Matt could save the city a hundred grand by the Mayor resigning and he does both duties, which he ostensibly is doing anyway.

    • Cosbies Ladies
      November 17, 2017 at 1:37 pm #

      Agree, he has the Power.

  10. Cos
    November 17, 2017 at 10:50 am #

    Come on Matt, run for Mayor!

  11. Shelly Liver
    November 17, 2017 at 12:34 pm #

    How can Jiv be the Chairman of the School Needs Furmiture Fixtures and Equipment subcommittee!

  12. Hoyt Clagwell
    November 17, 2017 at 2:17 pm #

    Oldies but Goodies Rock ‘n’ Roll Show to benefit Pittsfield’s Fourth of July Parade tonight. Rumor has it that Marchetti and the G man have a few duets planned.

  13. Harry Merkin
    November 17, 2017 at 7:58 pm #

    Whatever happens with the art at the museum at least we have the beautiful electrical boxes.

    • danvalenti
      November 18, 2017 at 4:48 pm #

      Yes HM, and also the lovely trash cans on Tyler Street.

  14. The school committee
    November 18, 2017 at 5:25 am #

    Pittsfield Ma. Mayor Linda Tyer sees no danger in the health of children ages 6 to 12 years attending the Allendale Toxic chemical,dump Elementary School….Mayor and Educators are willing to take a chance….Where are the parents.

  15. SisterGoldenHair
    November 18, 2017 at 2:36 pm #

    Isn’t it nice to see our local state senator and reps voting to weaken the laws, especially the drug ones, in the midst of a drug epidemic. So Sad. They should all be ashamed of themselves.

    http://www.masslive.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/11/how_they_voted_western_mass_la_1.html

  16. The school committee
    November 18, 2017 at 2:45 pm #

    Allendale school is a superfund site.

  17. H
    November 18, 2017 at 3:28 pm #

    No, because PEDA site is ‘t.

  18. dusty
    November 19, 2017 at 6:47 am #

    Batten down the hatches people. Heavy winds are being sent in to push out the fetid air of Pittsfield.

    • H
      November 19, 2017 at 7:32 am #

      A true Humanitarian, is dusty.

  19. The school committee
    November 19, 2017 at 8:30 am #

    Howard Eberwien is sneaking into Lenox Schools back door.They will let him get familiar then hire him full time as the BEST person for the job.Do people in Lenox not respect this position.He will take lenox budget on a trip to places its never been.He had to resign from Pittsfied.Bouvier must have recommended him for the position. Things are about to get veey interesting for our neighbors.

    • dusty
      November 19, 2017 at 9:02 am #

      All the Pittsfield kids were going to Lenox to get away from that kind of mismanagement..whadda they gonna do now? Is this some kind of trick to discourage Pittsfield kids from leaving their own miserable schools?

    • The school committee
      November 19, 2017 at 11:00 am #

      Eberwien to Lee not Lenox,now that makes more sense. This is a good hire for Lee as he will fit in with them very well.Lee is a 3rd rate Pittsfield.Eberwien will like the please lead us attitude.

      • Spagirl
        November 19, 2017 at 2:37 pm #

        3 days a week for that salary? Crazy

    • Tricksie
      November 20, 2017 at 7:56 am #

      Eberwein in Lenox will be good for the divorce attorneys in Lenox – lot’s of cute moms and teachers in SoCo I hear –

  20. C. Trzcinka
    November 19, 2017 at 10:47 am #

    On the Super Walmart Issue: The fact that this is taking such a long time demonstrates why new business stays away from the Berkshires. Your government is preserving the beautiful Berkshires for wealthy New Yorkers and Bostonians who come to hear music, watch dance and take in art. Everyone else loses and should leave. (I did). There are lots of places in the US that will welcome you.

    On the Berkshire Museum: Selling classic American art to put up screens in the desperate hope of being relevant is obscene. The trustees should be fired and a fund-raising campaign begun with the objective of preserving a unique multicultural institution. There are plenty of wealthy people (see my first point) who would contribute.

    • The school committee
      November 19, 2017 at 11:05 am #

      Whats really going on at the museum, its about to be exposed as more unqualified people doing the job of overseeing a masterpiece

  21. The school committee
    November 19, 2017 at 11:02 am #

    Retail is going online.Its not about Pittsfield.Nothing and nobody is coming to PEDA unless you pay for them

  22. The school committee
    November 19, 2017 at 11:07 am #

    Im guessing nobody made any phone calls to check on this hire

  23. mi
    November 20, 2017 at 5:02 am #

    Charles Manson dead.

  24. h
    November 20, 2017 at 5:55 am #

    Maybe trashing the Governor on PCTV is a good thing when there are shortfalls for certain funding programs,and maybe the pols should look at continually giving themselves a raise, Mr. Pol.

  25. dusty
    November 20, 2017 at 6:34 am #

    My advice to middle class taxpayers expecting a big tax cut is not to plan that vacation too far ahead of time. It might not work out quite the way donnieboy is telling ya. But if you do, make sure you get the cancellation insurance on the airfare.