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24 HOURS, TWO STORIES, AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE PLANET AND ‘THE BORING BROADSHEET’

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By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, MAY 21, 2014) — During the most recent 24 hours, you have seen why the newspaper formerly known as The Berkshire Eagle is now The Boring Broadsheet and why THE PLANET is THE PLANET. We kick butt. They kick the can down the road. They write and publish the truffles. We write and publish the truth. They are sinking. We are rising.

The twain shall meet, but only for a moment’s flick.

In the past 24 hours, THE PLANET had the full story on the forced resignation of Berkshire Works executive director William Monterosso. The BB had nothing. Remember, too, that Pittsfield Mayor Dan Bianchi (a.k.a., The Empty Suit or TES), tried hard to keep the mushrooming scandal under wraps. TES, Mr. Transparency himself, instituted a game plan of quietly giving Monterosso some time off with pay for enough time to let the situation blow over, leaving orders that no one who knew anything about this would talk to any media about the situation, especially THE PLANET. Obviously, TES counted on the fear among BW staff and in city hall to keep the lid on the stinker.

How’d that work out for you, TES?

Through our network of assorted sources, secret operatives, spies, gumshoes, and the elite Z-Agents — collectively known as The Secret Squadron — THE PLANET learned of the odd goings-on at BW. After that, it was all she wrote. THE PLANET went with the story because it perfectly illustrated the danger that occurs when a city puts the keys to the vehicle of state in the hands of political hacks.

THE PLANET went for the truth. We functioned the way a free press in America should (and once did) function, as a watchdog on government, as a gate-keeper on the public agenda, and as champion of We The People in their never-ending battle against The Special Interests.

Such a robust press is needed now more than ever, because government at all levels exists primarily as the warehouse for greed, corruption, manipulation, malfeasance, and misappropriation of public funds. Whatever good that may occur after those needs are met can be termed either good luck or collateral damage, depending on your point of view. Ironically, the local level needs that kind of fighting, feisty press more than state or federal, but in Pittsfield, the mainstream media of newspapers, TV, radio, and cyberspace have sold out. Enter THE PLANET.

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THE PLANET was the first medium of any kind to publish the story of the trouble at Berkshire Works with its new tobacco-chewing, cup-spitting executive director. The BB had nothing — until our coverage produced such a reaction that the mainstream daily had no choice but to at least acknowledge the situation. Even then, it published a sanitized version that did its best to avoid the truth. Remember, in journalism, so-called “objectivity” and truth are often (and usually) two different entities.

This has happened too many times to count: THE PLANET, through our unrivaled network of sources and contacts, learns of, then breaks, a story, usually one that The BB has either been told to ignore or,  worse, not wanting to risk a beating from its masters from among The Suits, self-censors. We have heard far too many war stories from our newsroom brothers and sisters at The BB of reporters wanting to go hard after a story only to be ordered off by management.

Only after the story has become undeniable do they print the “Suit-Friendly” version, though, on such stories, it’s hard to keep the egg from showing on the properly improper mugs. In the Monterosso saga, the yellow poached goo landed on the eponymous star, TES, city personnel director John “The Sheffield Shuffler” DeAngelo,  everyone involved in the “nationwide search,” and Berkshire County Regional Employment Board non-entity Heather Bulger. All of these people rank high in the ranks of local hackdom. You might call them hacko di hackis.

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Another story of the past 24 hours that shows We are Us and they are them is the pathetic plop The BB ran yesterday on the departure of Frank “Free House” Cote as assistant superintendent of vocational schools for the city of Pittsfield.

The BB ran a glowing account of Free House’s “hosanna” effort on behalf of Pittsfield Public Schools, presenting his Horatio Alger rise from culinary instructor to assistant super making almost 100 grand+bennies. The BB left out how Cote rapidly rose through the ranks by serving as Jake Eberwein III‘s bobo and drinking buddy.

The BB mentioned how Free House landed a plum job as vice principal at Pittsfield High School under the forgettable Tracy Benson. The BB forgot to mention the still-unsolved $9,000 theft of prom money in 2012 that occurred under the “watch” of these two jamokes. The BB mentioned how Free House’s glorious service has led him to take a job as superintendent in a school district that is mercifully not in Berkshire County. It did not mention that with Cote’s contract about to expire and the school board and the new Jake (JIV McCandless) not knowing what to do with this counterfeit sawbuck, they wrote him what The Guinness Book of World’s Records has just named “The Most Glorious Set of Recommendation Letters Ever Written” — letters so unqualified in praise that the new and unsuspecting district actually took a flyer on this moocher at $120K+bennies per year. What a system!

Knowing how these hires work within the politically-whipped public school system, JIV and The Boys knew that the district that will be Free House’s new home would never realize how badly it’s been sucker-punched, until it’s far too late. That collective sigh of relief you heard came from JIV, Kathy Yon, and the rest of the school committee, who have been spared having to make a decision on Free House when his contract expires on June 30.

JIV, Yon, and The Boys have got to be laughing their tushes off right about now.

In the interests of not wanting to turn our account into a “vomit comet,” let’s present The Reader’s Digest version of Cote’s c.v. It pretty much all traces back to the free house he ordered for his secretary at the schools, pawned off against taxpayers under the guise of the Taconic High School carpentry program. The “bidding” for supplying a project for the lads to build came down to Free House’s secretary, Ms. Whitney. Our local “officials” — not TES, not the city council, and not the school committee except for citizen superstar Terry Kinnas said a peep. Somehow, The BB didn’t mention the free house.

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Our job on THE PLANET is not to break news. The task has fallen into our laps, though, to be the breaker more than we had ever planned. Our primary job is to fuel the democratic process by providing fodder for the free marketplace of ideas. Throw out the facts as best we can, add the commentary, and let the debates begin.

Among local media, THE PLANET has pretty much cornered the “fearless and feisty” market. That’s why The BB is dying and we continue to reach new heights, literally, by the day.

They can’t keep us with us.

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“Woman, oh how about you and me? Woman, think about what it could be. Want to take you home, do things to you. Every time I try, you just think that I’m foolin’.”James Gang, “Woman,” (1972).

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

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ShirleyKnutz
ShirleyKnutz
8 years ago

Well with Mr. Cote’s departure and with a few more the school department will be able to afford the new buses they just bought. The city side could then use the savings to fix the roads!!! I say this could definitely be a “win-win” situation. Also I think the government could look at getting rid of berk works and the BCREB to save some more $$. I would wager no one would realize they were gone.

Wilson
Wilson
Reply to  ShirleyKnutz
8 years ago

Nah, they’ll fill the position at $125,000 because the children deserve the best (even if they aren’t able to get to school). Don’t worry about the roads that impassible either, the city is hiring a contractor for $90,000 to sweep them after a dozen passes by the 3 city-owned sweepers working on overtime, because we deserve the best!

Scott
Scott
8 years ago

On the resignation of monterosso the mayor is still stating it’s “a personal matter” f him.

Magic
Magic
8 years ago

Good Morning Dan

Just an FYI – I have entered an application for a small job on my house and shed with the school department. I’ll keep you posted on what transpires. (My thoughts are that nothing will come of it).

Scott
Scott
Reply to  Magic
8 years ago

Magic, let me know if it falls through I can possibly help you out. I give discounts to retired and military people. Dan has my contact info.

The ribbon cutting will be going on at arrowhead tomorrow they were concerned the rain will prevent it from being a big deal as the bb didn’t really give them a lot if exposure but I told them to rest assured the mayor cuts ribbons rain or shine!

Magic
Magic
Reply to  Scott
8 years ago

Thank you Scott I will keep you in mind

Dont trust em
Dont trust em
8 years ago

Thanks DV. Have to say your coverage of mr. monterosso and mr. cote made all the difference. Now at least were rid of these freeloaders.

MrG1188
MrG1188
8 years ago

Since I am an online reader only, I saw NO story in the Eagle about the Monterosso resignation. All I saw was an editorial about it discussing “healing” Berkshire Works.” I did find it interesting though that even they trashed Bianchi’s actions in this, even if only to heap praise on Mr. Barrett. Seems, at least in this case, Mr. Barrett’s connections and influence won out over Bianchi’s. Personally I think they both scoundrels.

Gene
Gene
Reply to  MrG1188
8 years ago

I agree with MrG1188. Both are political scoundrels.

Spider
Spider
8 years ago

I just watched a rerun of the HRC meeting of May 12th and learned that they are not accountable to anyone (mayor or city council)….but possibly to a higher state entity.

I hope the next meeting is also televised. It should be very interesting since their actions will reveal the real character of each member. It appears that several members are “light weights” and in my opinion could easily succumb to the race card being thrown at them.

billy
billy
Reply to  danvalenti
8 years ago

Yep he tries to get rid of anyone who stands up to him or ask tough question. He tried with Krol and Barry and managed to get rid of Yon with his loyal light weights.

Spectator
Spectator
8 years ago

Watch for the new owners of the Worcester Telegram, Halifax Media, to scoop up the Eagle and it’s assets when it hits the block.

Spectator
Spectator
Reply to  danvalenti
8 years ago

Also in full effect at DFM is an initiative to increase ad rates across the board in all papers, for all advertisers in an important National ad category. It’s just too bad for them that in that category, the value of the ad price is predicated by the performance of the ads, and their papers are chronic under-performers, Boring Broadsheet included. There is not a lot of “new” advertising in this category so they’ll either backtrack on the initiative, or it will fail. My hunch is that the increase and policy is intended to attract buyers.

Also worth noting other DFM news, the disgraced former publisher of NA Transcript got a promotion, he is now the PUBLISHER of the much larger, and still kind of relevant New Haven Register.