Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Laura Kent has her hands full as rookie Regional School Committee Chair

Sorry I just don't buy the "poor-little-us-we're-just-volunteers" routine.

If you enter a race up Mt. Washington it doesn't matter if you are in the professional or amateur division, as that mountain is going to do its best to kill you.

So half way up do not lament that you are only a "volunteer".

Deal with it.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Take Me Out Coach!

Austin Whipple, age 22, stands before Judge Tom Estes this morning in Eastern Hampshire District Court

Only a week after our Select Board publicly discussed hosting a recognition/celebration for the steller performance of Amherst native Michael Hixon at the Rio Olympics another college aged student athlete was arraigned in Eastern Hampshire District Court on a charge of drunk driving.

Austin Whipple, son of UMass football coach Mark Whipple, had a Blood Alcohol Concentration of .24, which is THREE TIMES the legal limit.  And yes it was the legally admissable chemical test taken back at APD headquarters.

 Click photo to enlarge/read

So rather then hiring a high priced DUI attorney his family should save their money and take the 24D plea deal because with evidence like that his chance of beating the rap is less than zero.

And as a means of restoring his public reputation perhaps Coach Whipple should have him speak to area high schools and the incoming UMass freshman class about the dangers of alcohol.

Especially now that UMass is initiating a Party Registration program that could use some widespread publicity.

 UMass starts September 6

First Day

 Paul Bockelman, Amherst Town Hall

Paul Bockelman started his first day on the job as the new permanent Town Manager replacing Temporary Town Manager Pete Hechenbleikner who replaced acting Town Manager Dave Ziomek who replaced John Musante when he died unexpectedly almost one year ago.

While Mr. Bockelman was heading back up the stairs to his new office the Amherst Cable Advisory Committee was meeting in the room next door, fomenting revolution.

The CAC is very unhappy with the final offer from Comcast on a ten year cable license renewal with a drop dead deadline of September 26.

Temporary Town Manager Hechenbleikner was happy enough with it to recommend it to the Select Board on his final day in office, August 1st.

But at their meeting last week the Select Board unanimously passed a motion underscoring their unhappiness with the proposed contract as well:

"Voted that the Town Manager communicate to our counsel that the Select Board is not satisfied with the proposed contract with Comcast because of the need for a more specific understanding about the availability of high definition and electronic program guide for PEG channels and our conclusion that the proposed capital budget does not meet our community's needs and expectations as expressed through the ascertainment process and our knowledge of community needs."
In addition the town is currently in a water crisis just as our #1 demographic -- college aged youth -- start returning to our institutes of higher education as Amherst is a three company town: UMass, Amherst & Hampshire Colleges.

Well, mainly UMass -- our states flagship of higher education.

And our public schools, once a source of civic pride, are in chaos after the sudden sour departure of Superintendent Maria Geryk, the highest paid town employee.  With first day of school only a week away.

Perhaps Mr. Bockelman should be wearing something more comfortable on his first day, as he most certainly will need to hit the ground running.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Wet Your Whistle

Atkins Reservoir this morning 8/21
Atkins Reservoir last Sunday 8/14 (down 7 feet or 50% total volume)
Unless today turns into a torrential downpour it's not looking good for our water crisis to be over with anytime soon, especially with our population about to almost double.

 Atkins sandbar this morning 8/21 (ignore that guy in the treeline)

 Atkins sandbar last week 8/14
Let's hope our beloved college aged youth don't use the water emergency as an excuse to drink more beer.

Most recent drought monitor 8/16 

Drought monitor 7/19

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Secret Meetings Continue

Former Superintendent Maria Geryk getting a $309,000 buyout
Region and Union 26

Once again Pelham school committee representative Trevor Baptiste put up a stink about proceedings, this time concerning Union 26 taking a revote/do over on Maria Geryk's $309,000 buyout package, after he questioned if Union 26 is even a legal entity.

 Trevor Baptiste, former Chair of the Region 

Union 26 (Amherst & Pelham SC members) revote Maria Geryk $309K buyout

Last week they voted in favor of the contract but did not have a legal quorum.  

So after 10 minutes of bickering they came to a 4-1 affirmative vote (one member, Chair Tara Luce, had recused herself).  Last week the Amherst Pelham Regional School Committee voted 4-3 in favor of the buyout.

So now, theoretically, it's a done deal.

Except RSC member Vira Douangmany Cage is asking the Attorney General to investigate the matter.  And/or it only takes 10 teed-off taxpayers to file a class action lawsuit in Hampshire Superior Court

 Mike Morris appointed acting Superintendent

The Amherst Pelham Regional School Committee then went into executive session to negotiate a contract with Mike Morris to become Acting Superintendent, and to approve the executive session minutes over the past four sessions amounting to just over 11 hours of secret meetings.

Chair Laura Kent said it would be 45 minutes.  The Committee finally came back into public session around 9:15 PM -- after THREE HOURS -- but said they would not release the executive session minutes tonight.

   Audience at 6:15 when RSC went into executive session

That Didn't Take Long

Atkins Reservoir is down 50%

On Monday night the Amherst Select Board voted to give the Town Manager authority to escalate the "voluntary" water restrictions to "mandatory".  And today he did just that, starting Friday August 19.

My drone will be working overtime on enforcement.

 Click to enlarge/read

Don't Drink & Drive

MADD:  About one-third of all drunk driving arrests are repeat offenders

The two APD routine arrests over the weekend for Driving Under the Influence illustrate perfectly why the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on Monday reaffirmed the common sense notion that perps who have been detained for DUI have no right of counsel prior to administration of the Breathalyzer.

In Massachusetts, an "implied consent" state, you do have the right to say "No" but that will result in a loss of license for six months.  And you do have the right to a phone call within one hour of being escorted into the police station.

Since the Breathalzyer test is time sensitive and DUI attorneys are not always available in the dead of night, requiring police departments to forgo this invaluable tool would result in far too many guilty parties going free.

With any one of them potentially going on to change forever the lives of an innocent family.

 Rafael Garcia, age 21 (APD intake photo)
Click to enlarge/read (note time of stop)
 Joshua Silver, age 27
Another late night incident