Saturday, December 22, 2007
This weeks Bulletin obit section could give the wrong impression of the political leanings of the People’s Republic of Amherst. Nathaniel Reed and Fred Steinback, both former Amherst Select men and, amazingly, both conservative, passed away recently with their final news wrap up landing one over the other on that depressing page.
I never met Reed, a popular Dean at Amherst College (yeah, who would have thought the bastion of LIBERAL arts would hire a conservative) he was a tad before my time (the early 1970’s) but I heard about him from old-timers. We shared the same Sisyphean task of running for the state legislature (he in 1972 and me twenty years later) in a district where conservatives were indeed an “endangered species.” And it has only gotten worse.
Fred Steinbeck may not have been a registered Republican but he was a WW11 vet who made a living with his hands and the sweat from his brow. He served on the Board for two terms circa 1980.
My first public speech ever was before our illustrious Select board in 1983 requesting they reign in the Recreation Department from using my tax dollars to fund competing lower priced but lower quality programs for my karate school, Hampshire Gymnastics and Amherst Ballet Center.
I was about halfway into my presentation and just starting to get on a roll when Steinbeck stopped me and asked, “Was your Dad the plumber?” “Yes sir,” I responded, and then when back into my rant.
Naturally the other four socialists voted down my proposal; Steinbeck supported it and gave a brief speech saying Amherst doesn’t allow the Highway Department to pave homeowner’s driveways or plow them in the winter, so why should we allow this unfair competition to small business owners who employ local teens and spend money in town?
Up against a liberal chorus, Steinbeck and Reed were most often the only public voice of dissent. Something Amherst desperately needs.