Friday, December 14, 2007

Ax the Tax!

The Town Mangler’s bewilderingly bad decision to tax our Boy Scout's Christmas tree sales has most certainly taken on a life of its own and may prove a bonanza for the intrepid scouts. As first reported on this Blog (and the Crusty Gazette caught up today) the DPW is donating over $600 to the Boy Scouts. No strings attached.

And more than a few folks have stopped me in the Bricks and Mortar world to say they are going to drop in on the beleaguered tree encampment specifically to buy a Christmas tree they might have purchased elsewhere, or just going to give them a few bucks.

This phenomenon reminds me of the idiot teenaged gang (none of whom I bet were Boy Scouts) stealing the bright yellow-and-black, angry bumblebee “No More Overrides” lawn signs one night before the May 1’st tax Override. Now that was the PR gift that kept on giving.

Of course His Lordship Gerry Weiss is going to demand public action that could risk their charter: 'Before we go any further, I would want the local troop to distance themselves from the national organization's stance,' Weiss said. 'We can't allow groups that discriminate to use town property.'

Select board Chair Weiss also stated that Shaffer might make a statement during his Town Manager Report on Monday. Let’s hope the Pot Rally police fee for using the Town Common also comes up on Monday.

I would love to watch His Lordship look honest, law-abiding working-folks in the eye as he advocates for taxpayers to subsidize the rights of potheads over the rights of Boy Scouts. Only in Amherst!
UPDATE: 5:00 pm. So even though the Crusty Gazette takes a while to get to a "story" and publishes hardcopy before uploading on the Net, at least they allow cyber comments on their (snail-like) Internet edition. Funny stuff:


Steven said...


Sorry it's taken so long getting around to dropping in on your blog. Been kind of mentally taxed thinking about the raw deal the Lunch Ladies got from the School Committee. After all one of those ladies is my Lady, my wife Ruth, who like myself, graduated from ARHS.

Just to let you know, you're not going to be alone in this area when it comes to putting up a genuine counter-cultural blog. ( on Blogger. It's called "Steven's Slate." Actually, I've had it for sometime, but never got around to working on it. Yet, the more I look around at what's happening in this area and how the middle class is taking so much on its chin concerning our jobs, our values, holidays, etc., it was just a matter of time.

Gawd, I miss Barry! Okay, he could be as exciting as watching white paint dry on a hot August afternoon and yes he did a great Sphinx imitation. At least he wasn't a jinx or Grinch. Where did you people get that guy Shaffer from?

I was walking on the north edge of Shaffer's urban wilds on my way to volunteer at First Baptist Church when I looked over my left shoulder and saw the Boy Scouts' tree lot. But imagine this, the offending lot with its trees that seems to be taxing Shaffer so much, could barely be seen. In other words, how can such a temporary small patch used for selling trees be so troublesome?

Perhaps the answer lies in that odious term so many of us now know all-too well, "political correctness." Like George III's inept advisors, Shaffer resorted to a dumb tax on an even dumber target. Not only has Lord Shaffer managed to anger many locals--and not just Amherst residents--he's also raised the ire of the Amherst Senior Center which doesn't want the Scouts' taxes, nor even be associated with this foul deed.

What else can Amherst residents come to expect from their government run by academic royalists?
First the Lunch Ladies get sacked for an earthshaking $150,000 in an attempt to "privatize" that department; whilst nothing is done to bring down teachers' and administrators' salaries. Oh, but I hear they're the "frontline" troops because everyone knows that schools are in the business of educating students. Well, they used to be when the teachers actually taught and weren't so greedy nor overly excited to try this or that trendy experiment. But try telling that to Andy Churchill who's more interested in the inclusion of "social justice" principles into the curriculum.

Well: Glory Be! As a former Catholic diocesan reporter, and graduate of St. Thomas University (Miami, FL), I can see lots of problems there. Not that the Church's teachings pose a problem. Quite the opposite! It's just that Churchill has hit on something that he can't implement without giving full credit to the very institution that's been in the business of teaching principles of social justice for 2,000 years. He'll have another problem: no where in any church's teachings on social justice would he find any justification for what he and the school committee did to the Lunch Ladies. Even Tony Soprano would've blushed at this sham.

Maybe I'm an intrusive presence here since I'm no longer paying taxes. But as you know, that wasn't always the case. Like so many members of the Townie Diaspora, we're now living nearby thanks to the wisdom of our educated betters; our academic royalists. What a bunch!

Looks as if George III and Lord North have some competition when it comes to governmental blockheadedness.

Steven said...


Oops, as you can see I'm not a real active blogger. I forgot to put the last name on my blog: Barrett.

Now, with apologies to John Hancock, I'm sure our local royalists will recognize the last name.

Steven Barrett

Tony said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony said...

Good job being the first on this story/outrage. And kudos to the DPW. It's nice when things flow in the right direction.(and I'm sure the DPW knows all about that!)

O'Reilly said...

Oh God, we finally make some progress with Larry Scaffer and now Gerry Weiss has injected himself into the fray. Weiss' intent is admirable, to effect less discrimination. His approach is ham-handed, inept, and ridiculous public policy.

'Before we go any further, I would want the local troop to distance themselves from the national organization's stance,' Weiss said. 'We can't allow groups that discriminate to use town property.'

Is that the new policy? No group that discriminates can be allowed to use town property.

First, Weiss’ policy is unconstitutional. Neo-nazis certainly discriminate and their right to free speech cannot be abridged by government. Government cannot deny their right to demonstrate or to use public property with a permit to demonstrate. They cannot be denied the permit due to their beliefs. The Boy Scouts are an organization that serves the public good even as they reject gay members. Ok, so not all of us are happy with their policy about gay members but is that a sufficient reason to make our support for them contingent on their reform? No way. The neo-nazis do not serve the public good, yet their rights must be upheld according to the Supreme Court of the Unites States. The Boy Scouts do serve the public good in Amherst; there is no question about it. Weiss is on poor legal footing here but more importantly his proposal is bad policy.

If Weiss wants to weigh in by asking the scoutmasters if they would discriminate against a gay Amherst boy who wanted to be a member, he ought to do that quietly. Giving the local Boy Scout troops encouragement to do the right thing-accept boys regardless of their sexual preference-would be a good use of his leadership; demanding it or demanding self-recrimination of Boy Scout rules would be a poor use of his authority.

Moreover, making the Boys Scouts’ use of Amherst public property contingent on a public condemnation of their national organization is not only an ill?conceived exercise of Weiss’ authority, it is compelled speech. Compelled speech is extraordinarily odious and unjustifiable as a policy. It is also irrelevant to the issue of whether real or perceived discrimination is a reasonable threshold issue to determine whether an organization may use public space in Amherst.

Public space is public space, the use of which is not restricted to people whose views are consistent enough with our own. Access to public space can be regulated but the town needs to be thoughtful and reasonable about how it proposes to do so.

It is time we start to think critically about our PC instincts. The instincts should be part of our consideration, not the all.

(We really ought to show our appreciation to Larry for revisiting his decision rather than digging in his heals. I’d like to see Larry reverse it until the town’s policy is decided and approved.)

Mary E.Carey said...

Question: what is that weird centerpiece all about? It looks like a Fourth of July tribute somehow with the lemons. Are you tying the Christmas trees incident to flag incidents, the Fourth of July and suggesting they add up to a giant lemon? Or are hinting that there is or should be lemonade from lemons here.

Mary E.Carey said...

And what are we to make of the daffodils and votive candles? Is it a shrine to someone or something? And are those canapes in between the candles and the vase?

ReclassifyMoreManagement said...

The actual amount of the donations was $730, not the $630 that the paper quoted. Our union chipped in $100 also. And is Weiss calling all Boy Scouts homo-phobes? Is that why we are charging them a buck a tree?

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, leave it to the Crusty Gazette to screw up the amount donated. And my family will be chipping in $25 or $30 (Heck, we only live 10 feet from the DPW so we're sort of in the same family)

Mary: Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. The illustration is nothing more than lemons to lemonade. Yes, I liked the American flag in there; No I did not notice the Daffodils and votive candles.

But…yes, now that you mention it there is a common link between the July 4”th Parade, American Flags (especially flying them on 9/11 for God’s sake!) and the Boy Scouts: Americans with a core have respect for all of the above. In Amherst (and perhaps ‘Only in Amherst’) town officials do not.

gorilla gardener said...

This $730 donation is coming from the DPW who still haven't gotten their contract signed because the town would rather give management a $12,000, $10,000 etc raise to a select few, but they still managed to donate what they could. How much did upper management donate? Oh yeah, that would be a big fat "0".

LarryK4 said...

No big surprise: that the DPW front line troops would give, but the Town's generals do not.

Yeah, the Town Manager gave Musante an elevation in job title and a retroactive raise costing taxpayers 10 times what the Christmas tree tax will raise.

O'Reilly said...

If DPW bosses didn't give that's their choice. Maybe they bought a tree or two and paid the exrta buck. What's important is whether they are good bosses.

Who the f*ck gets a $10,000 raise these days? I can see maket adjustment at 5-7% a year over a few years.