Monday, July 30, 2007

The hot seat

His Lordship Gerry Weiss must think the sun rises and sets upon the Amherst Select Board.

At their July 23 meeting Mr. Weiss complained he had made it s-o-o-o pubic about the ARA opening (“over a month ago”). Yeah, well that meeting (June 13’th), buried in a backroom at the Middle School, had Amherst Redevelopment Authority on the agenda but the minutes show “No action taken”.

And on June 18 ARA chair Fran Van Treese appeared before the snobby Select Board to argue against Vince O’Connor’s Town Meeting proposal to “Abolish the ARA”.

Ms. Van Treese effectively advocated for the ARA as the Select board voted unanimously to dismiss Mr. O’Connor’s pernicious proposal. So why didn’t Mr. Weiss advise Ms. Van Treese at that meeting the vacant seat was such a burning issue?

Select Man Kusner came to our July 10’th ARA meeting (where we signed a draft letter of formal notification to the Select Board). Of course he later told the Select Board we were unqualified to pick a replacement, something he dared not mention to us that night.

I received a chatty email from Select Man Alisa Brewer on June 22 saying “The clock's ticking, man...the SB gets to do the appointing our own selves if you all don't tell us within 30 days, and the ARA (during the time you were not an ARA member) already blew the 30 days by not letting the Town Clerk know to put *two* positions on the annual ballot. Given that drop in the ball handling, I talked SB and Larry`` into using the date of Town Counsel's letter about that issue.”

The town counsel’s letter (date June 18 and stamped ‘Received June 19’) clearly says, “The ARA may not have been aware of nor in a position to notify the Select Board of this vacancy. This statute’s preference is to offer to the authority which incurs the vacancy a roll in filling out its membership. Therefore, it may be appropriate on the part of the Select Board and ARA to jointly fill the post upon delivery of written notice as proscribed above.”

The Town Manager confirmed to the Select board at their July 25 meeting: “At its last meeting (July 10) the ARA did vote to provide formal notification to the Select board of the vacancy” And that vote (not to mention signing a draft letter) was well within the one month period from the town counsel’s letter.

This ARA (hot) seat has been vacant since the election of April 4, 2006. And since nothing happens in Amherst between July 4’th and Labor Day another month is not going to matter.

Installing a (Manchurian) Candidate on the ARA without their input may further the goals of the Select Board, but it will be a setback for downtown development.
9:30 UPDATE:
So I just now received a “reply all” email from fellow ARA member (Governor appointed) Jeanne Traester to the Select Board, ARA, and Town Manager confirming she would be at the August 1’st Select board meeting.

I didn’t get the original email sent July 20 (Chair Fran Van Treese just confirmed she did not get it either) from Town Hall, but it was an invite to a JOINT MEETING August 1’st with the Select Board to appoint a new ARA member.

The attached memo from the Town Manager dated July 19 and billed as “New Business” for Select Board meeting of July 23 states: “I recommend that the Select Board and ARA utilize the process employed by the Select Board and School Committee for filling of the vacancy on the School Committee created by the resignation of Alisa Brewer.”


Of course Ms. Traester is showing up thinking she’s invited…yikes!

UPDATE: 10:20 Just received another email from Gail Weston that, sort of, clarifies things:

From: Weston, Gail
Sent: Friday, July 27, 2007 4:54 PM
To: Tucker, Jonathan
Subject: Amherst Redevelopment Authority Election

The election for the Amherst Redevelopment Authority will take place at 7:00 p.m. at the 8/1/07 Select Board Meeting. Amherst Redevelopment Authority members are invited to attend but it will not be a joint meeting. Will you notify the members or is this something that I should do?

Gail Weston

Assistant to the Town Manager


Alisa V. Brewer said...

Hi Larry-

I appreciate being quoted accurately, but you did leave off the Town Counsel letter *I* referred to in my original email:

"...Given that drop in the ball handling, I talked SB and Larry into using the date of Town Counsel's letter about that issue as the start of the 30 days in which ARA needs to notify the SB. That was June 5 or 6 (date of letter vs date stamp). So get r done, already!"

I have no recollection of the first time I saw the June 18/19 Town Counsel letter you used in your post, since I can't seem to find it in any Select Board "packets" other than the one we had for the July 23rd Select Board meeting. The important part here, though, is that my June 22 email to you said the Select Board was using the June 5/June 6 date for the clock.

I'm also certain I mentioned needing the formal notification to Ms Van Treese at the June 18th Select Board meeting, although it was very likely as we were breaking up to move into the auditorium for Town Meeting. I also mentioned it to Jeanne when I saw her at Mill River. I really don't think it was necessary for the Select Board to formally notify the ARA in writing that they needed to formally notify the Select Board.

I do agree that since, under current practice, Select Board Minutes only show votes, the June 13th Minutes wouldn't reflect the statements made about using the June 5/6 date.

So are all the current ARA members planning to come this Wednesday night election at 7pm?

LarryK4 said...

Actually I just found (buried under a pile of Cherry Hill stuff) my notes from our June 12 ARA meeting and the Attorney letter dated June 5 you were referring to in your email of June 22, not the one of June 18’th I refer to in my post (how much is all this costing in legal fees?).

I also found a copy of the draft letter on Amherst Town stationary we all signed on July 10’th (in front of the Town Manager, Selectman Kusner and Planner Jonathan Tucker):

“Under the provisions of MGL.Ch, 121B, 5 and MGL Ch 41, Sec. 11, the Amherst Redevelopment Authority herby notifies the Amherst Select Board that a vacant locally-elected position exists on the Redevelopment Authority. The Authority respectfully requests a joint meeting with the Select board to fill that position, by majority roll call vote, with a qualified and willing citizen who is a registered voter of the Town of Amherst, said new member to serve until the next annual election.”

Nancy Gordon is in Maine. But Jeanne, Fran and I will be there; I’ll be wearing my L.U.V. T-shirt (LET US VOTE!)

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