Saturday, December 8, 2007

A smile is just a frown turned upside down

So the bricks and mortar media gave the Town Manager’s Select board evaluation the old positive spin and missed the most interesting paragraph of the wordy two-page report card.

“Larry (Shaffer) has taken on the task of looking at the organization of every department and quickly made changes at Cherry Hill Golf Course, Town Counsel and the Veteran’s Services Department that have cut costs and improved services.”

Hmmm. So he “quickly made changes at Cherry Hill Golf course,” by
firing long-time superintendent Dan Engstrom (on St. Patty’s Day 2007, the day I started this Blog) for misusing a company credit card and taking up residence in the Clubhouse.

Yet seven months earlier on August 18, 2006 Shaffer wrote “The town is fortunate to have Dan Engstrom, Course Manager, to continue his expertise in maintaining of the of the highest quality public golf courses in Massachusetts.”

And his unfortunate firing of long-time, well-respected Town Council Alan Seewald sparked controversy; and now His Lordship Mr. Weiss seems to say our new advisor, Kopelman and Paige—the BIG BOX McDonald’s of the legal profession is “improved”?

If I were the former Town Attorney, I would suit for defamation of character.

Shaffer almost single handedly torpedoed the May 1’st tax Override by bluffing with Public Safety cuts he would never had implemented; and turning down the $30,000 per year offer to take the terminal Cherry Hill Golf Course off our hands.

And the current fiasco of charging a tax on every Christmas tree sold by Amherst/Pelham Boy Scouts is an astounding error demonstrating the Town Manager is clueless with culture.

Let’s hope the Select board gives him an appropriate Christmas bonus: a lump of coal.


O'Reilly said...

I can't believe they're charging the boy scouts. You know who ends up paying that, right?

If the town is going to charge the boy scouts a fee for the use of the public space, for which the boy scouts provide the security at no cost to the town, then the town MUST charge the bong-hit-extravaganza demonsrtation to cover the cost of the town-provided security.

LarryK4 said...

Shaffer had better learn how to tap dance in public. Today's crusty Gazette Front Page article only served to make him even more Grinchlike (if that is possible):

Town Manager Larry Shaffer said Friday that since there is no process in place for approving a nonprofit organization's extended use of town property, he gave Boy Scout representatives the option of agreeing to his $1 per tree proposal, or relocating immediately.

"I would just as soon not have them at Kendrick Park at all," said Shaffer, pointing out that the Boy Scouts are a private, nonprofit group that has no formal ties to the town. "But in the interim, it seems perfectly appropriate for them to make a contribution to the town."

mala said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LarryK4 said...

Oh come on, it's a freaken Blog: what was your comment?

O'Reilly said...

"there is no process in place for approving a nonprofit organization's extended use of town property."

Now it's a problem... after 40 years?

Are the Boy Scouts selling trees all year long or pretty much Thanksgiving to Christmas because Thanksgiving to Christmas is about 5 weeks and when you say extended use most people think it means a lot longer than that, say 6 months.

Larry's language is beginning to show a little defensiveness.

I would just as soon not have them at Kendrick Park at all"

He gives no rationale for his construct $1 per tree. It is capricious and autocratic.

Is Kendrick Park used for anything? Seriously. The use of the park by the boy scouts is only a plus for Amherst residents who want to buy a Christmas tree and who might even have lunch at Bertucci's or shop a little in the carriage shops. Wasn't Larry crowing about boosting business in Amherst?

But no, he has a problem because they are "private" which means you have to be a boy between the ages of 9 and 17 and not openly gay and "non-profit" which means they've been given an exemption because they serve the public good.

The Boy Scouts are providing a service that anyone buying a tree appreciates two-fold, they don't have to drive to Home Depot in Hadley and the profit goes to a non-profit.

"No formal ties to the town." They are all residents you fricking moron and many of their parents are real estate taxpayers.

Larry is a moron. By refusing to admit he made a mistake, he's coming off as an even a bigger moron. It couldn’t be worse for him if the headline said: Larry Shaffer Steals Candy from Baby with no Official ties to Amherst”

O'Reilly said...

Bill Elsasser, an Amherst resident who was once homeless, spent much of the summer beautifying the downtown, picking up litter and maintaining new flower boxes.

Now, he is offering what he calls a networking proposal idea that would involve twice weekly gatherings at one of Amherst's newest restaurants, La Piazza Ristorante on Boltwood Walk, in which the public and town officials could congregate and talk about issues of the day.

Elsasser presented the idea to the Select Board this week, noting that he would be willing to inaugurate it with money from his trust fund, established by his father, Walter Elsasser, who did pioneering work as a physicist, astronomer and biologist.

One of the visions, he said, is "Karaoke with Larry Shaffer at La Piazza," which got chuckles from both the board and audience.

Amherst Bulletin

Maybe Larry wants a formal proposal to gratify his ego.

Chris Hoffmann said...

OK, I won't disagree that Larry (S) is coming across like the grinch in this situation.

But I recall that the lack of any sort of formal process for renting Kendrick Park was a concern of the Scouts themselves a few years ago. I had the impression it was a kind of "don't ask, don't tell" situation -- as long as no one said they couldn't, the scouts just went ahead and set things up.

I can understand Larry wanting to set up a more formal way of getting permission to use Kendrick Park, especially now that the final house is gone and the use of that land will be under great scrutiny from lots of interested parties.

But I sure hope that the eventual process will continue to allow the scouts to sell from their traditional spot!

LarryK4 said...

Hey Chris,

I like the liberal way you snuck in the “don’t ask, don’t tell” aspect of this astoundingly stupid episode. As Ryan Willey pointed out in the Crusty Gazette yesterday: "I also interpret this to be an attack on the Boy Scouts and wonder if the town would have asked any other nonprofit organization for the money."

Now if it had been Amherst High School teen-age girls wanting to do a performance of “The Vagina Monologues’…

Imagine for a moment if our unelected Mayor---I mean Town Manager--had sent out this press release/package, coordinated with a Youtube upload of the final scene in ‘How the Grinch stole Christmas where his heart grows three sizes larger, he returns all the presents and trimmings, and is warmly welcomed into the community of the Whos.

“Since Kendrick Park is only recently town owned and no formal process yet exists for usage I have decided to assess the Boy Scouts $800 month rent (way less than what we were offered for our White Elephant Golf Course.) But since they are a non-profit local icon, and do great volunteer work in the community I will pay the money out of my own $125,000 salary (not to mention $4,200 year car/cell phone allowance)”.

Now wouldn’t that resulting slew of positive PR be worth a lousy $800???

O'Reilly said...

On what authority is Larry charging the Boy Scouts $800 rent to use a corner of the public park for their 40th annual fundraising drive for five weeks in December?

It seems like he's set a new policy in lieu of having a policy. That doesn't make any sense either.

If Kendrick place park was bequethed by a trust to the town for use as a public park, it has the same public purpose as the town common. And if it does, Larry has no business charging them rent.

I had to object when Larry said "I'd rather not have them there at all.' What that tells me is that he'd rather not deal with the inconvenience TO HIM. He's in charge of something. He ought to get off he arse and make the policy or leave it alone until he has time.

They are a non-profit that serves young men in the community year round. They are town residents as are their parents. Their parents pay taxes as homeowners or rent, which helps pay taxes.

They use a parcel of town land that has no competing purpose in December.

The Boy Scouts have sold trees here without incurring a levy from the town for 40 years.

Larry blew it.

dominique said...

I think some anonymous (or maybe even named) Santa's elf should deliver at least one lump of coal for Shaffer's stocking...